Numerous sand traps haunt players at Whistling Straits

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2010, 12:17 am

2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – The muted green sign among the native grasses invites golfers into Whistling Straits. Just ahead the raised bunkers that dot the hill to the clubhouse look less hospitable.

While the most prominent feature that’ll be displayed this week at the 2010 PGA Championship will be the wind-swept views with Lake Michigan glistening in the background, all the sand will likely torment the pros.

“As soon as you drive through the gates, there’s bunkers there staring you in the face. So, I don’t see a golf course anywhere near there,” Hunter Mahan said. “They’re everywhere, really. I mean, I feel bad for the fans because it seems like you could be walking and all of sudden you’re falling in a hole of sand and don’t even know it.”

The number of bunkers at architect Pete Dye’s 1998 creation isn’t known. A recent Golf Digest article concluded there were 967.

“There’s so many of them. In a four-day tournament, you’re bound to be in some,” Zach Johnson said.

Course maintenance manager Michael Lee says the number of bunkers isn’t a secret.

So how many are there?

“It’s truly a fluid number because the property is so vast. What is along the lake? What is on the golf course? What’s on the (neighboring) Irish Course? Are the entry road bunkers part of the Straits course? Probably not. So, do you count those?” Lee said.

Nature also plays a role in reshaping the course every winter when the snow comes and goes.

“The winds blow here and it just blows the snow and sand right off the golf course,” Lee said. “You have bunkers that are created and some that are lost.”

In truth, there are less than 100 sand traps in play when the pros tee it up, but it’s no easy business getting it ready. Every day, Lee’s crew of 32 hand rakes every bunker inside the ropes for more than two hours beginning at 5 a.m.

“It’s a work in progress, you’re never finished taking care of a golf course,” Lee said. “It’s a matter of setting priorities. For resort play, we hand rake all the ones in play: those are the ones along the fairway, the greenside ones every day. Today, you’ll see a little bit wider version of that, everything inside the ropes.”

There’s so much sand, players start to admire the traps. One bunker getting the most attention is at the sixth, where a giant 6-foot trap cuts through the green, dividing it.

Phil Mickelson said he likes the hole layout that will punish a wayward wedge shot.

“It’s a really cool bunker and a really cool hole,” Mickelson said. “It is a huge penalty if you mishit your wedge and go in that bunker.”

Lee, who has been part of the golf course since its inception, said Dye’s vision has made the course firm, but fair and contends pros who finds themselves in the deep bunker should be able to play out.

“It is very difficult for any human being to visually sort out the sand here that comes into play. I think as the players go through the week, they will get accustomed to looking at all that sand and really get to know the Straits better and be able to tune some of that out,” Lee said.

For the moment, players are still trying to wrap their minds around just how many traps dot the course.

“There are some very small bunkers out there. To get a 1,000 of them out there, you have to have some pretty small ones,” Justin Rose said. “You just have to accept sometimes that when we’re in a bunker, we expect to get it up and down. That might not be the case this week.”

And being off line could mean a long day.

“If you get out of position on this golf course,” Graeme McDowell said. “You’re in a world of pain, no doubt about it.”

And trying to count all the sand traps proves pointless – even on a fact sheet handed out by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. It lists the details of the types of grass, water sources, green sizes and soil mix.

As for bunkers? “Numerous.”

A giant understatement.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm