San Antonio breaks into national golf scene

By Erik PetersonMay 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
SAN ANTONIO – If your impression of golf in San Antonio is hot, dusty municipal golf courses played by locals wearing cowboy hats, think again.
 
With the grand opening of TPC San Antonio in spring 2010, the city that’s hosted the PGA Tour since 1922 turns the page to a new chapter that many believe will vault it from a former Fall Series afterthought to a golf destination of national prominence. And it’s not all about the TPC; San Antonio’s supporting cast of golf courses has more variety than you might have thought.
 
TPC San Antonio tpc san antonio
 
TPC San Antonio
Web site
 
How to get there From airport, take 281 North; turn right on TPC Parkway and follow it to the Cibolo Canyons development.
 
How to play it Scheduled to open in Spring 2010. You must stay at the J.W. Marriott, or be the guest of a member to play golf.
 
19th hole A state-of-the-art sports bar will satisfy any post-round appetite.
 
At the master-planned TPC San Antonio, two 18-hole courses are garnished with the world’s largest J.W. Marriott, a multi-million-dollar sports bar and a six-acre water park that would even cause Colin Montgomerie to giggle with glee.
 
Simply put, TPC San Antonio is a 21st century golf arena built to host a PGA Tour event – the Valero Texas Open moves here from Westin La Cantera in 2010. But with panoramic views of downtown San Antonio and the surrounding Hill Country landscape, the experience is far from man-made. In fact, a deep appreciation for nature conservation is evident on every hole.
 
At the AT&T Oaks Course, designer Greg Norman utilized classic design principles. Tree-lined fairways give way to natural bunkering that mimics the gnarly look of the centuries-old oaks that dominate the landscape. Sergio Garcia collaborated on the project, suggesting sight lines and tee box locations that would challenge today’s Tour player.
 
“You could pick up this course and place it in Chicago,” said Jimmy Terry, general manager and director of golf. “I think that says a lot about its character.”
 
At the Pete Dye-designed AT&T Canyons Course the trend of nature conservation continues. The 7,545-yard layout is routed like fingers on a hand with a 768-acre nature preserve filling the gaps. The result is panoramic Hill Country views that extend as far as the eye can see.
 
A unique twist to the Canyons Course comes at the par-3 13th, where for one hole the veteran Dye stepped aside to allow amateur architects the chance to submit their own design. A contest was held with simple rules: Submit a sketch of a slightly downhill 226-yard par-3. The winning design needed to complement the surrounding landscape and ecology, while being playable for all skill-levels.
 
After a judging process led by Dye and his wife, Alice, Brian Fitzgerald of Hendersonville, N.C. was declared the winner. In addition to having his creative stamp on the course, the 4-handicapper also earned the opportunity to take a personal tour of the construction site with Mr. Dye himself.
 
Like the Oaks Course, the Canyons Course debuts Tour-ready. Within the next couple years the Champions Tour AT&T Championship will move from its current home of Oak Hills Country Club to TPC San Antonio. At that time, TPC San Antonio will join Pebble Beach as the only two resorts to annually host a PGA and Champions Tour event.
 
Westin La Cantera Resort la cantera In between screams from the neighboring Six Flags theme park, Olin Browne hits hit tee shot at No. 8 during the second round of the 2008 Valero Texas Open.
 
Westin La Cantera
Web site
 
How to get there From airport, take I-410 West to I-10 West to exit 555.
 
How to play it Book tee times at their Web site. For a list of specials, click here.
 
19th hole The Kona Grille at the Shops of La Cantera, Rudy's BBQ, Chango's Havana Club and The Longhorn Cafe.
Since 1995 the Resort Course at Westin La Cantera Resort has set the stage for the ultimate “Go low or go home” PGA Tour event. In 2003, PGA Tour veteran Tommy Armour III set the 72-hole PGA Tour scoring record here of 254 (26 under par) with rounds of 64-62-63-65.
 
With wide, fast fairways and large, smooth greens, it’s no surprise that par is defenseless against PGA Tour pros, but for the average golfer La Cantera’s hilly layout is a formidable test.
 
“Nos. 5 and 10 are long par 4s for the pros,” noted Steve Shields, director of golf operations. “The average golfer plays those as good par 5s.”
 
The signature hole is No. 7, a short par-4 that drops down into a chiseled-out rock quarry. In the background are several roller coasters that are part of the neighboring Six Flags theme park.
 
With several tee boxes, the hole can play as short as 250 yards, but each tee box gets progressively higher, so for once it’s actually easier – and also more breathtaking – to play it from the tips.
 
If you’re looking for a tougher test of golf, check out the Palmer Course at La Cantera. It has more elevation change than the tournament course, and requires more precision off the tee. No. 18 is the prettiest hole, offering picturesque views of downtown San Antonio.
 
If the Palmer Course were more gallery-friendly, it would have probably hosted the PGA Tour instead of the Resort Course. All in all, both are a treat. If your game is in need of repair – and whose isn’t – the golf academy is state of the art.
 
Brackenridge Park Golf Course
Brackenridge Park
Web site
 
How to get there From airport, take 281 South to Mulberry Ave., turn left at light, then take third right.
 
How to play it $85 on weekends with a cart. Tee times at Web site (above).
 
19th hole Cheesey Janes is just north of the course and has big shakes and big burgers. If you're in the mood for Mexican try Tomatillo's or Picante Grill.
 

 
For a unique experience in downtown San Antonio, you’ve got to play Texas’ first 18-hole municipal course, Brackenridge Park. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast and opened in 1916, it was redesigned in 2008 but maintains a vintage Tillinghast feel.
 
If you’re lucky enough to have visited Tillinghast’s Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, you’ll notice how Brack is similar the moment you pull in the parking lot and see the stone-walled clubhouse.
 
“Some people refer to it as a miniature Winged Foot,” head professional Greg Hiller said of Brack’s 6,263-yard, par-71 layout.

Hole No. 7 is the perfect example. Guarding the left side of this 385-yard, par-4 is a long fairway bunker that hides just below the player’s sight line – most bunkers at Brack are flanged with grass, which adds to the deception.

Golfers are then met by three more bunkers that sit below an elevated, square-shaped green – a common design trait of Tillinghast courses but a rarity in this region of the U.S.
 
“You’d have to drive about 1,000 miles to find another course with square greens,” Hiller said.

In all, seven greens at Brack have this unique characteristic.
 
Hyatt Hill Country Resort hyatt hill country
 
Hyatt Hill Country
Web site
 
How to get there On the west side of town. 25 minutes from San Antonio Airport.
 
How to play it $135.00. Significant discounts for twilight and super-twilight times. Check Web site for packages.
 
19th hole There seems to be a restaurant for any occasion. Springhouse Cafe is cheery and casual, Antlers Lodge is more formal and Cactus Oak Tavern is your 19th hole. If you crave Texas BBQ, Rudy's is right outside the front gate.
 
For a relaxing getaway, Hyatt Hill Country Resort is a sure bet. The 500-room hotel is set amidst beautiful oak trees, giving it a private, tucked-away feeling. An accompanying spa and water park makes it the most family-friendly option in San Antonio. But the golf is the main attraction, and at the adjoining Hill Country Golf Club there are 27 Arthur Hills-designed holes that provide a unique and diverse golf experience.
 
Each nine is distinct, as the names indicate. The Oak nine is a classic, tree-lined layout. The Lakes and Creek nines are more open but also have more water. Each nine incorporates the Texas landscape nicely.
 
'We are the only 27-hole facility in San Antonio and with that we are able to offer different combinations for our guests to play,' said head professional Mike Champagne.
 
Perhaps most memorable are the par-5s.

No. 6 on the Lakes Course, for example, is a 563-yard three-shotter with a natural dry creek that runs along the fairway's left side but twists back around to affect placement of the second shot as well. Three precise shots are necessary here, the true sign of a solid par 5.
 
Testament to its keen sense of environmental conservation, Hyatt Hill Country is the only certified Audubon Sanctuary in San Antonio. Bamboo tees are even used in order maintain a heightened awareness of the environment.
 
Quarry Golf Club quarry golf club No. 13 at Quarry Golf Club
 
Quarry Golf Club
Web site
 
How to get there From airport, take 281 South to Jones-Maltsberger Rd exit; exit left, then take first left. The Quarry will be on your right.
 
How to play it $59 Mon.-Thu. $89 Fri.-Sun. For twilight rates and tee times check Web site.
 
19th hole The Quarry Restaurant is open for dinner Wed.-Sat. Flemings Steak House and Paesanos Italian are within walking distance.
 
Any good golf city must have a course that's meant for the business traveler on the go, and Quarry Golf Club is your answer in San Antonio. Situated in a rock quarry less than 10 minutes from the San Antonio airport, Quarry Golf Club doesn't feel like it's in the city.
 
The front nine is a links-style course with few trees but lots of water. Like most links courses, low-ball hitters are rewarded with lots of roll. And if you putt well, you can score well on this side. No. 8 is the shortest hole on the course, but might be one of the trickiest. The green drops off on the right toward the water, placing a premium on accuracy.
 
The back nine is where Quarry gets its name. Spectacular views make the experience very enjoyable, but don't be too distracted. You'll need to hit solid shots here in order to score well.
 
No. 17 is Quarry's signature hole. At less than 390 yards from the tips it may not seem intimidating on the scorecard, but wait until you step onto the tee box where your tee shot must cross a gaping crevasse. Each hole at Quarry has a name. The 17th is named Reload. Good luck!
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.