Which public course deserves a PGA Tour event

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 9, 2011, 8:03 pm

Several factors are in play when considering a host site for the next PGA Tour venue – issues like


It bothers me that the Straits Course at Whistling Straits steals all the big-time golf events at the Kohler Resort, like last year's PGA Championship and the upcoming 2020 Ryder Cup.

A few miles down the road, the River Course at Blackwolf Run is too good not to have the game's best players take it on for all of us to watch.

I don't think everything Pete Dye builds is genius, and I think the Straits Course, while undoubtedly a remarkable vision from Herb Kohler and Dye, is over-built – who's to say it couldn't have been even better moving only half the dirt?

On the flip side, the River Course, set to host the U.S. Women's Open in 2012, is a more traditional parkland play that is probably my favorite Dye design. The River Course has railroad ties, big water hazards, tough green complexes and plenty of visuals that will scare the stuffing out of you from the tee. But it's still a delightful, scenic walk with better hole variety than the mostly grueling Straits.

It's as good of a risk-reward design as I've seen in the game. One shot after another will have the tour pros thinking, 'Do I gamble? Can I fade it around that tree? Can I carry that pond?'

There are some fabulous TV-friendly holes that would surely cause some players to find trouble and make big numbers. One of my favorite short par 4s anywhere in the world is No. 9, which can be driven if you play over the Sheboygan River and through a narrow chute between trees. That's not the only proposed gamble Dye presents that's not for the timid.

Additionally, the two Blackwolf Run courses have been under renovation the last couple years and will be fully back in play for the 2011 golf season. Knowing Kohler and Dye, it should be better – and tougher – than ever.

And surely, with the right deal, someone as golf-nuts as Kohler would be interested in sponsoring a regular PGA Tour event to show off even more of his resort than just the demonizing Straits during a major every few years.


While I'll concede that the River Course at Black Wolf Run compares favorably to its neighbor, the Straits Course at Whistling Straits, it doesn't keep pace with the Bayonet Course at Bayonet Blackhorse in Seaside, Calif., on Monterey Bay – especially after the course was renovated in 2008.

The Bayonet already has history on its side, having hosted professional events back in the 1950s and '60s. It was considered tough back then, and it's still a beast today. More recently, the course hosted a U.S. Open qualifier and stage II of PGA Tour Q school. It's a great shot-maker's course, even if it wasn't meant to be in the beginning.

This former military course at the old Fort Ord Army base, which opened in 1954, was designed by Army Gen. Robert McClure, a left-handed player who laid out many of the holes to accommodate his right-to-left ball flight. As it turned out, Nos. 11-15 are some of the best sharp dogleg left holes in golf. Coupled with a great piece of land on Monterey Bay and a $13 million renovation by architect Gene Bates, it's also scenic and extremely well conditioned.

As part of the renovation, brush and trees were scaled back to expose views of the blue waters of the Pacific. The new bentgrass fairways and greens surrounded by fescue roughs dotted by rugged bunkers is striking. And if you set the course up firm, like it can be in the summer and fall, even the best players in the world will have to come in off the fairways to hold Bayonet's tricky, undulating greens.

At just over 7,100 yards, Bayonet isn't long by today’s PGA Tour standards, but its rating/slope of 74.8/141 is a testament to its difficulty. Plus, it's on Monterey Bay, and as far as I'm concerned, there's never too much golf played in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

This would be the perfect site for a late summer PGA Tour event right before the PGA Championship. You'd have a scenic course, mild temperatures and Pacific Ocean breezes at a course that's walkable and spectator-friendly. Talk about a recipe for success!
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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.