Daily fee golf courses missing from PGA rotation
That’s still not as much as Pebble Beach.
Even so, there is a difference in public play between resort courses, such as Pinehurst or Pebble Beach, and true public courses, such as Bethpage Black and Torrey Pines.
The PGA Championship is lacking in the latter.
This came to mind last week during the PGA of America’s annual news conference, in which president Jim Remy shifted the focus to public golf. He noted there are more 9-hole courses than 18-hole courses in America, and that 75 percent of the rounds played in the country are on public courses. He cited the average fee at just under $30.
“There are availability of reasonably priced golf courses, and I think that we need to get the message out that there is a real value to a family to be involved in a sport,” Remy said.
So why isn’t the PGA Championship going to such a course, which can provide a proper test and have room to stage a big event? It has been more than two decades – 1989 at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago – that the PGA Championship was held on a daily fee course.
“We’ve had discussions with a number of daily fee facilities, along with traditional clubs,” PGA chief executive Joe Steranka said. “We’ll step out of the box every now and then and try something. And right now, the USGA is doing a great part in taking it to the Bethpage Blacks and Torrey Pines.”
Also on the U.S. Open rotation is Chambers Bay outside Seattle in 2015.
The PGA Championship is booked through 2016, and this would be a good time to look at a public course anyone can play. Steranka said that is a good possibility, although such a public course might first go through a rehearsal at a smaller event, such as the Senior PGA.
“The challenge we have short-term is we are booked out so far in advance,” he said. “When looking at adding a new site, we want to be able to predict with a degree of certainty that it will be able to stand the test of the top players.”
Steranka said the recession has caused the PGA of America to think anew about the model it uses in finding courses and running a major championship. He noted that going to private clubs gives the PGA access to influential business leaders who might be members of the club, which helps build corporate support. That’s not as easy when dealing with state or municipal governments.
“Our investment in government relations is laying the groundwork to show us a model of how to build community support outside of relying on the old model,” he said. “This latest recession is making us all look at the old business model. The daily fee course can help us from a marketing perspective of the game.”
The USGA has done its part.
McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.
It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.
McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).
Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).
Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.