Which is the best public PGA Tour venue

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 27, 2011, 8:05 pm

From TPC Sawgrass in the Southeast to Pebble Beach along the shores of the Pacific, the PGA Tour schedule is littered with incredible public golf courses. In this edition of Travel Punch Shots, TravelGolf.com senior writers Mike Bailey and Brandon Tucker make their case for the best public PGA Tour venue.

By BRANDON TUCKER

Sure, we all want to play Pebble Beach Golf Links some day, and the resort boasts a price tag to reflect that. But no golf course on the PGA Tour circuit has skyrocketed in street cred the past few years like the South course at Torrey Pines.

A regular PGA Tour stop, this is the course that usually snaps Tiger Woods out of his winter hibernation, and with him comes the first real strong field of the season.

For the golf traveler, Torrey's selling point is this: Of all the current U.S. Open venues, Torrey probably has the best blend of affordability and access. It's a municipal course that allows non-residents to book tee times 90 days out. And you can include it as the feather in the cap of your golf trip to one of the world's great year-round golf markets.

Not only is Torrey Pines far less expensive than Pebble Beach, it's also on the low end of the PGA Tour public venues. Some of the courses that are pricier than Torrey (and aren't a major host) include TPC Sawgrass, TPC Blue Monster, TPC San Antonio, and Harbour Town.

And a round on the South will be filled with vivid, HD TV memories from the 2008 U.S. Open. This is the golf course that will be associated with this generation's greatest duel between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. And the extra day of playoff action gave us all a great familiarity with the golf course for when we eventually come ourselves.

I think we all know what not to do on the 13th hole, thanks to floppy Phil Mickelson's quadruple bogey in 2008 from the bottom of the slope leading up to the elevated green. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods rattled home an eagle putt on the same hole that will go down as a Top 10 shot in his career – and is sure to cause some (relative) high drama amongst your own foursome.

For non-residents, Torrey Pines isn't exactly a steal at $183-229, but it's less than half the cost of Pebble Beach. So you could play 18 holes, then enjoy a round on the next door North ($100-125) the following day, have drinks and a nice dinner, all for less than the $495 at Pebble. Now that's smart traveling.

By MIKE BAILEY

This one's easy.

If you polled America's golfers and told them they could play only one more round of golf in their lives, and it had to come from the list of public golf courses on the PGA Tour schedule, they would overwhelmingly check Pebble Beach Golf Links. It wouldn't be close, and it should be unanimous. Playing Pebble is simply magical.

Forget the $495 green fee and lodging requirement – that's not the issue here. And forget the criticism that if Pebble wasn't on the Monterey Peninsula, it would be an ordinary course. That's a moot point. Jack Neville and Douglas Grant designed the golf course around the coastline as it should have been. If it were somewhere else, it would be a different layout.

So with that said, the setting along Carmel Bay alone puts it ahead of 98 percent of all golf courses in the world. The land, sea and cliffs all factor into the experience, and in this case, dominate it. The scenery of San Diego's Torrey Pines is special, too, but it doesn't rank with standing on the tee at the short par-3 7th, wondering whether or not you should hit sand wedge or five-iron.

Sure, the opening hole lacks pizzazz, but look what it's up against: Starting with No. 4 golfers can hardly contain their excitement as they start to make their way along the coastline. It's a stretch of seven holes that's arguably superior to any other stretch on earth, including Augusta National.

And speaking of Augusta National, Pebble has the same mystique. Why? Because Pebble Beach is more than familiar to them. Its five U.S. Opens and the long history of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am mean we know just about every hole out there. Can we say that about Torrey Pines? Most golfers just know that it's on the ocean and that locals get to play for dirt cheap. What they know about Pebble Beach is that it's on the short list of places to play before you die.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.