St Augustine Course Faces the End

By Golf Channel NewsroomFebruary 20, 2003, 5:00 pm
The countdown has begun. The clock is ticking. Bulldozers are waiting, the carpenters are ready. The oldest Donald Ross course in Florida is about to be transformed into a housing subdivision, and there apparently is no way to stand in the way of economics.
Its the Ponce de Leon, a resort course in the northeast city of St. Augustine ' yes, St. Augustine, the oldest town in the United States. The course has been around since 1916, but appears doomed if something isnt done quickly. Developers have purchased the property and plans are to demolish the course and replace it with a 749-unit upscale housing development.
This week, several entities failed in their effort to raise $5.5 million to buy the course. Unless something is done by June, developer Chester Stokes, CEO of Stokes and Company, will start the transformation.
Stokes is sympathetic toward those who want to preserve the golf course, but he is also a developer. He, along with just about everyone else, realizes that most golf courses today are losing propositions money-wise ' especially when compared to the $35 million that the land upon which the Ponce sits is appraised.
The course is built on marshland with stunning vistas to the north of the city. These vistas, which front the Intracoastal Canal, are what make the property so appealing.
When I came up here and played here for the first time, it was like, it was probably the way God intended golf to be played, said Rosalie Russo, a Ponce member.
The course has a grand history. Numerous professionals have played here, including Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. Johnny Farrell, who was the 1928 U.S. Open champion, was the first club pro.
I look at the vistas on this golf course, I look at the marsh and the Intracoastal, and I know that if this golf course disappears, there will never be another Ponce de Leon, said Micheal Fay, executive director of the Donald Ross Society. It ought to be a part of our history.
There was a grand and wonderful place here in 1915. Its still a grand and wonderful golf course in 2003. Theres only so much history, theres only so much tradition. It cannot be replaced, it cannot be manufactured.
Stokes, the man who sits in the middle of this firestorm, tries to be realistic about the situation. A Georgia Tech alum, he says, The markets just not there, its just that simple. Its an economic decision, its unfortunate.
I try to be as friendly and try do everything that makes sense for anybody. But its got to make sense for everybody - including us. When you get right down to it, its very difficult to make a golf course work.
And so goes the charm of the Ponce de Leon, which has been likened to a Van Gough painting that is about to be lost forever. But Stokes says that the course no longer measures up, either in monetary value or as a golf course.
To be honest with you, the Van Gough got trampled on a long time ago, said Stokes. Five of the holes on the golf course just dont even fit the character of a Donald Ross golf course.
Nicholas Melszer is a commissioner of St. Johns County, the county of which St. Augustine is a part. He has tried mightily to save the course, but he realizes he is probably fighting a losing battle. The figures that Stokes throws out makes it virtually impossible to ignore that the land is extremely valuable as a housing development ' but not as golf course.
Hes not wrong, says Melszer of Stokes. He is absolutely not wrong.
But if you want to preserve the oldest Donald Ross golf course in Florida, and (preserve) the archeological sites, and the bird sanctuaries, and the environment and the Intracoastal ' AND preserve the golf course in addition to all that - you have a different perspective.
Mark Knight of the St. Augustine planning and building board looks at both sides of the impasse and says, If they dont have the business end of it that would support operating a golf course, the golf course wouldnt be operated. It would become a development at that point in time.
Meanwhile, the clock is quickly still running. Stokes is paying approximately $120,000 interest each month on a $20 million bank loan he used to purchase the course property. He says if anyone has a plan that is viable, that is equitable to all concerned, they had better come forward quickly.
If anyones interested in preserving it, theyve got to go out and raise the money somewhere. Just to say youd like to see it stay, thats not enough, said Stokes.
The whole community seems saddened. But its a battle of preservation vs. progress, and just as always happens, progress appears to have the upper hand.
My personal feeling is, there will always be places to develop, says George Gardner, the mayor. But there will never be places that occurred in history once theyre plowed under.










South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.


Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''