La Cantera Assumes New Identity with PGA Tours Shift to TPC San Antonio
For the Westin La Cantera Resort nearby, seeing it staged up the road is bittersweet.
'We miss it,' said Greg Haugland, director of sales & marketing at Westin La Cantera. 'The first year without it stung a little bit. But we're proud of what we did with it for 15 years.'
The PGA Tour can move events as they please, but history will prove kind to La Cantera. The Texas Open wouldn't be thriving like it is today without it. In fact, it might not have a pulse. The Open, which began in 1922 at Brackenridge Park Golf Course, amassed an impressive list of champions, including Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Ben Crenshaw.
But it ran into a speed bump in 1993 when H.E.B. dropped its title sponsorship. Following a sponsor-less 1994 staging at Oak Hills Country Club, the new La Cantera Resort picked it up and sponsored the event until Valero assumed the title role in 2002. Between then and the course's final staging in 2009, it went from a spot buried on the Tour's Fall Series to kicking off the coveted 'Texas Swing.'
Finding a new niche in San Antonio
Westin La Cantera now co-exists with the TPC San Antonio and on-site 1,001-room JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort.
Westin hasn't cowered in the shadow of the sparkling new, mega-sized JW Marriott. In 2008-2009, the property underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation, with upgrades to guest rooms and public areas. With just half the rooms of the JW Marriott, it's smaller size has turned out to be a selling point to group functions.
'A lot of groups we speak to like the idea they can come in and take over the whole place while they're here,' Haugland said.
For golfers, both the Palmer Course and Resort Course are competitively priced (often as low as $79-89 for morning times on GolfNow.com). It means they can attract a fair share of local play as well as guests from the resort or other area hotels.
In contrast to the demanding AT&T Oaks Course and AT&T Canyons Course at TPC San Antonio, La Cantera's Resort Course is kind to amateurs. As the name implies, this Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish collaboration can be as tough as you want with five sets of tees. It's only brutal if you're playing the wrong box.
'You don't have to put the ball in the air,' said Steve Shields, director of golf. 'You can bump-and-run it all the way around.'
The Troon Golf-managed club has also seized the opportunity in its new role as a 'former' tour stop. Through the month of April, golfers in town have the chance to play the Resort Course in the same setup it was for the Texas Open. Greens are fast, the rough is penal, and some pin positions are unmerciful.
The experience is completed with a fully detailed, pro-style caddie book, to offer a glimpse of just how precise tour players are.
And on the Monday when the PGA Tour ships out, La Cantera's Resort and Palmer courses remain a key host in the Benefit for Children's Golf Classic, a fundraiser staged on 11 area courses that has generated $35 million since 2002.
Celebrating Texas history and Hill Country flavor
Stop and look around a little at La Cantera, and its setting on the former 'King Ranch' atop a limestone bluff, which looks out 20 miles from its perch in every direction, comes alive with history. This piece of quarry has been a coveted spot in central Texas for centuries. Nearly every room of the resort, like Emily Rose's Court, Tio's Lobby Bar or Esperanza Library, pay homage to legends.
The Hill Country spirit is omnipresent when the resort's golf is combined with its culinary offerings. Executive Chef John Armstrong oversees a handful of restaurants that highlight the tastes of the area. At Francesca's at Sunset, the resort's signature restaurant, they've created a colorful, farm-to-table menu full with standouts like a chili-rubbed filet of beef. Or, try a double rack of wild boar from Broken Arrow Ranch just west of San Antonio. Most of the produce you eat on this ever-evolving menu comes from 'Farmer Bob' Mishler at his 17-acre Uncertain Farms just 11 miles away.
To go with the meal you can choose from a selection of Texas' emerging wine selection. Not sure where to start? Sommelier Paul Krueger offers daily tastings in Steinheimers Pub.
La Cantera is committed to sustainable, Hill Country fare to go with a property that oozes Texas history on its walls and the stone beneath your feet.
As Texas celebrates its Open this week, we can all toast that.
Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball
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.’’
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
Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.
The major championships I'm certainly proud of, but Barbara, the kids and my grandkids are the best things to ever happen to me. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/wkma1Q9LlK— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) November 23, 2017
GC Tiger Tracker:
Mixing Thanksgiving and waiting for a week from today. pic.twitter.com/u9m9WxQNYx— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 23, 2017
Happy thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. #Thankful— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) November 23, 2017
Was reading about Thanksgiving. Originally they ate waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Seems a bit tastier than Turkey!— Frank Nobilo (@FrankNobiloGC) November 23, 2017
Literally food for thought.
Tyrone Van Aswegen:
Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017
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
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.”
Best Greg story: coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes “Yep, caddied for her, her, her and her” Legend— Matthew Galloway (@matthewgalloway) November 23, 2017
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.”
The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time Tour caddie, Greg Sheridan. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP pic.twitter.com/QKy0YdK249— LPGA (@LPGA) November 22, 2017
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:
Sad to hear the passning of Greg Sheridan. This photo brings back many memories. Always respected his caddy skills and devotion to womens golf. @natalie_gulbis @LPGA #RIPGreg pic.twitter.com/lHU3Ixz9Vk— Annika Sorenstam (@ANNIKA59) November 23, 2017
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:
Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:
Professional caddies are often overlooked and underrated. But they're just as often the unsung MVP of a player's success. We just lost a great one. RIP Greg Sheridan. He was the 1st to welcome me to my LPGA assignment years ago. He will be missed eternally.— Jerry Foltz (@JerryFoltzGC) November 22, 2017
Rest with the Angels now, Greg Sheridan. ❤️— Christina Kim (@TheChristinaKim) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:
RIP Greg Sheridan. One of the most successful and great caddies of World Golf, period.— Shaun Clews (@shaunclews1973) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:
Sad to here that long time tour caddy Greg Sheridan has passed away! RIP Greg, you will be missed. — Jonny Scott (@stixy76) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:
The world is a sadder place today without our buddy Greg Sheridan, a caddy and a friend for lifetimes...Godspeed buddy— Kevin Casas (@TheKevinCasas) November 23, 2017
LPGA pro Jennie Lee:
So sad to hear the news of long time LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan. I️ remember sitting next to him on the plane from Walmart to the US Open one year and he gave me the best words of wisdom on player/caddie chemistry. He will be missed greatly. Thinking of you @natalie_gulbis ❤️— Jennie Lee (@JennieLeeGolf) November 23, 2017