US Open Leaning Toward Pulic Course

By Associated PressJune 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- This would never happen at a tony club like Shinnecock Hills or Merion.
Henrik Stenson wanted to see the golf course hosting the U.S. Open, so he arranged to play Torrey Pines last December. One of the top 20 players in the world, whose victories include a World Golf Championship, Stenson ordinarily would have called the head pro to set up a time, and the pro might have arranged to have one of the clubs best players join him.
But this isnt a country club.
So the Swede went online and booked a tee time. He paid his fee in the pro shop. He went to the practice range to warm up and hit yellow-painted golf balls with a black stripe around them that didnt seem to go very far. It took him a few shots to realize there was nothing wrong with his swing.
They were limited-flight balls, Stenson said.
Stenson had brought a friend with him from Dubai, and the starter assigned another twosome to join them, a young couple that only recently started playing. Her name was Pamela Anderson, no relation to the Baywatch babe.
Lets just say it was an interesting round, Stenson said.
Odds of that happening will go up the more the USGA takes its premier championship to places everyone can play.
Five of the next eight U.S. Opens, starting this week with Torrey Pines, will be held at courses that require only money, not membership, whether the are pricey resorts like Pebble Beach or government-owned tracks like Bethpage Black on Long Island.
USGA executive director David Fay believes the trend reflects how the majority of golf is played in this country.
Since I joined the USGA in 1975, Ive seen the profile of American golf change, Fay said. Most of American golf is played on fee courses, and most of our individual (USGA) members play on fee courses. I was influenced by my own background. The only golf I played on private courses was Monday morning, which was caddie day. Otherwise, it was public golf.
Bethpage was the first taxpayer-owned course owned to host the U.S. Open in 2002, when Tiger Woods won by three shots over Phil Mickelson, two stars who grew up playing public golf. Torrey Pines is the first city-owned golf course to host the U.S. Open. The USGA recently announced that Chambers Bay, a public course outside Seattle, will host the 2015 U.S. Open, and others are lining up for a chance to host the national championship.
Cog Hill, the public course outside Chicago that for years hosted the Western Open, is being refurbished with hopes of landing a U.S. Open. USGA officials also are looking at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, a public course that was handed the U.S. Amateur in 2011 as a trial run.
Its getting crowded, Fay said, referring to public courses wanting to host a U.S. Open.
The allure of public-access courses is that everyday players can walk the same turf and face the same shots of Woods and Mickelson, even if the greens arent as quick and the rough isnt as thick.
Pieces of history are deposited on public courses when the U.S. Open comes to town.
Remember the spot behind the 17th green at Pebble Beach where Tom Watson chipped in for birdie in 1982? Or the eighth hole at Pinehurst No. 2, where John Daly got so frustrated with the crowned greens he swatted a moving ball and took a 13?
Those two courses dont seem like public golf because they are high-priced resorts that can cost more than $400 to play, although anyone can play them.
The charm of the next two U.S. Open is that these are true municipal courses, reflected as much in the cost. San Diego residents pay $42 to play the South Course during the week (out-of-towners are charged $145). When the U.S. Open was played at Bethpage Black, it cost $31 during the week and $39 on the weekend.
Those would seem to be exceptions, no matter if it hosts a U.S. Open. Golf seems to be getting more expensive, which is why PGA of American chief executive Joe Steranka found plenty of skeptics when he said two months ago the median cost of nine holes is $12.
I gave incorrect data, Steranka said. It was $14.
The research two years ago came from PGA Performance Trak, designed to capture rounds played and revenue per round of golf. It measured all public facilities'daily fee, semiprivate, municipal, military and university.
Steranka said the perception of overpriced golf stems from places like Whistling Straits and Kiawah Island, not courses like Hyde Park in Jacksonville, Fla., a Donald Ross course that costs $20 to walk 18 holes, or Hesston Golf Park in Kansas, where a family of four with two carts and play nine holes for a total of $56.
And while it can send a strong message to hold a major on a public course, it also can be misleading.
Torrey Pines typically is chewed up in the summer because of dry conditions. Thousands of players are on a course with grass that can be patchy. For the U.S. Open, it was closed to the public on May 21, about three weeks before the tournament.
One of the perceptions about golf that were trying to correct is that we have the best players playing the best course on the best conditions in the world on television, which is a great marketing benefit to our game, Steranka said. But it also sets high expectations.
Even so, taking one of the premier events in such an elite sport to a public venue can only be attractive.
If you or I or even a beginner can hit one shot a round like Tiger Woods or Lorena Ochoa, the more connection you have in terms of the venues they play, Steranka said. Even if that only happens once or twice in a round.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.