Course of Action TOUR Returns to TPC Louisiana

By Associated PressApril 18, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Zurich ClassicAVONDALE, La. -- Bill Murray ate a char-broiled Louisiana oyster as he walked toward the 18th green, then hurled the shell into a water hazard, shouting, 'Now go and grow others!'
 
He flexed his biceps after his chip up a steep embankment landed on the green, then pointed at the sky after a two-putt, his typically goofy antics amusing the gallery at a charity pro-am event preceding the PGA TOUR's latest stop at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
 
It was more than a trivial moment of levity for course officials at the TPC Louisiana, where there wasn't much to laugh about after Hurricane Katrina tore through here 19 months ago.
 
This was supposed to be the course that would secure New Orleans' spot on the PGA TOUR calendar. Instead, it hosted only one Zurich Classic before Katrina toppled about 2,000 trees along the fairways, scattered drain-clogging debris and left numerous fairways under water.
 
The public course was closed for 10 months, forcing the PGA TOUR to go back to English Turn so a rebuilding New Orleans could keep its economically vital TOUR dates in 2006. After about $2 million in repairs, even a few improvements, the pros have returned to the distinctive TPC Louisiana, a Pete Dye-designed course carved out of cypress swamp.
 
'Obviously there was some devastation here and there was a lot of money spent to get this golf course up to speed,' David Toms, a Louisiana native and 2001 winner in New Orleans, said after a practice round. 'It's very important for the whole country not to forget this city.'
 
A number of players were eager to forget this place after it hosted its first PGA TOUR event in the spring of 2005. At about 7,600 yards, the course plays long, yet presents an array of steep 'pot' bunkers and other fairway obstacles that leave little margin for error on drives.
 
'I can remember a couple of drives that I hit that I thought were decent shots ... and getting into spots where all I could do was chip out of the bunker sideways,' Toms recalled of his 2005 appearance here, when he missed the cut.
 
At the very least, it's now easier to play a shot out of the woods, which were thinned out by Katrina, and the canopy along the edges of the fairways is less likely to interrupt the flight of the ball.
 
Yet other changes have made some holes even tougher. When toppled cypress trees were hauled away, course officials saved the lumber, embedding vertical planks into what look like green and tan striped bulkheads rising from water hazards near the ninth and 17th greens. They also used the salvaged wood for new tee signs and yardage markers.
 
On the par-3 No. 9, the bulkhead replaced a bunker that had surrounded the left side of the green. So those who fall short on their 200-yard tee shots this year will likely hear the sound of the ball knocking on cypress, followed by a splash.
 
'Either you hit it where you want to hit it or the bail out on the right over there,' said Boo Weekley, last weekend's winner at Hilton Head, S.C., who arrived here tired after a spike in media appearances following his first PGA TOUR triumph.
 
The victory by Weekley, whose down-home Southern speaking style and self-effacing humor have made him an increasingly popular character on tour, was a timely one for organizers of this tournament. Some of the bigger names in golf won't be here for Thursday's opening round. No Tiger Woods. No Phil Mickelson.
 
Toms, an LSU graduate whose presence always seems to inspire shouts of 'Go Tigers' by local fans, may be the most popular player, followed perhaps by Weekley, who grew up about a three-hour drive away in the Florida panhandle. He expected about 50 friends and relatives to be in New Orleans to watch him play.
 
'I've been here a few times growing up. I love New Orleans,' Weekley said.
 
Then there's last year's winner, Chris Couch, who wasn't sure whether to consider himself the defending champion because he won on a different course. Tim Petrovic is the only player to win a TOUR event at the TPC Louisiana, and he's back in the field this year.
 
'Tim is a good buddy of mine,' Couch said. 'I told him, 'I don't know who the defending champion is this week. I think it's more you than me.''
 
In New Orleans, who makes up the field is of less interest than the fact that normalcy seems to have reclaimed yet another part of this area's storm-ravaged landscape for an event that brings worldwide attention to rebuilding efforts.
 
About 30 acres of dead turf have been nurtured back to a lush, healthy green. About 300 new trees -- 12 feet to 18 feet high now -- have been strategically planted to help restore some of the course's pre-Katrina character. The clubhouse, largely spared by the storm save a few roof leaks, has been spruced up.
 
And the local club professional, New Orleans-native Luke Farabaugh, is back to helping people enjoy the golf instead of filling out insurance documents and dealing with contract debris-removal workers.
 
'The world of golf is looking at us today, saying, 'Man, remember what happened to them 19 months ago? And look at them today,' Farabaugh said. 'It's a great sense of pride we all take.'
 
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  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: