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.
Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda
Tiger Woods looks in complete control of his iron play at PGA National.
Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first Saturday birdie with via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:
Woods' hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.
The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.
One hole later, Woods would added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.
Traj talk— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) February 24, 2018
And now, the putter raise pic.twitter.com/gW5HDorWSr
O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters
DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.
David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.
Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.
Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.
''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.
''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''
Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.
But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.
''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.
The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.
Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic
Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Tweets by GCTigerTracker
Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.
Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.
In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.
Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.
The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.
“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”
Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.
“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.
ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.
“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”
ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.
“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”