Punch Shot: Ultimate U.S. two-course, one-day fantasy

By Ryan LavnerOctober 16, 2013, 8:05 pm

Jordan Spieth played both Pine Valley and Augusta National on Tuesday. GolfChannel.com writers offer up their Stateside two-course, one-day golf fantasy.


Covering this year’s Walker Cup, I absolutely fell in love with National Golf Links of America, in Southampton, N.Y. The first two holes – for the big-hitting amateurs, at least – are drivable. The trio of par 3s is great fun. And the last hole, a reachable par 5, gives the illusion that you’re hitting the second or third shot into an infinity green, with the Great Peconic Bay lurking in the background. It’s spectacular, and so, apparently, is the lobster served in the clubhouse, which could serve as the necessary fuel for our cross-country flight to Cypress Point. 

Surely the grub there is fine, too, but the real treat is the views, which are breathtaking, and the eclectic collection of holes, which should make this gem No. 1 on every golfer’s bucket list. Sure, you might be able to find two better courses in America, but you’d be hard-pressed to find two that are more fun to play, especially in the same day. 


Pebble Beach and Spyglass? Been there, done that. Bethpage Black and National? Very tempting. The “You Pick Two” special at Bandon? Sounds like a Panera lunch deal. Augusta National and Pine Valley? Apparently any 20-year-old can do that these days.

The truth is, if I’m going to play any of those places, I’d like to take my time and enjoy the atmosphere rather than race for the parking lot to get to the next track. Hey, you wouldn’t rush through a date with Kate Upton, so why settle for a quickie with one of the world’s greatest courses?

If I’m going to play two cool U.S. courses in one day, I want to have a story. I want something to tell my grandkids someday. I want to make a little history.

I’m picking Eagleglen GC and Nanea GC – in that order.

First I’ll start in Anchorage with a Robert Trent Jones design that is listed as Alaska’s best course by Golf Digest. Then I’ll shed a layer or two and hop in the G7 for the Aloha State, where I’ll play the magazine’s crown jewel of Hawaii, which features a view of the Pacific Ocean from every hole.

Two excellent tracks will make for one excellent story. Just imagine how cool it would be to begin the day in Alaska, whipping past snow-capped mountains, then finish it in Hawaii, surrounded by a tropical paradise.

Sure, there are more traditional offerings to put on my dream list, but I’d rather take my time and enjoy all the amenities of those courses. Maybe sneak out for an emergency 18. Or 36.

If I’m picking any two to play in one day, I’m going for the big story over the big name. Hey, it’s my dream. You can’t tell me it’s wrong.


If I’m given carte blanche for a 36-hole day of dream golf, I’m starting my trip on Magnolia Lane. Augusta National probably tops more bucket lists than any other golf course, mine included, so to be able to begin with a morning round through Amen Corner and across a back nine that may evoke more of golf’s historic moments than any other is too good to pass up.

After a quick bite to eat near Butler Cabin (hold the pimento cheese), I’m heading north to the Sandhills of North Carolina and one of Donald Ross’ crowned jewels, Pinehurst No. 2. The Village of Pinehurst holds a special place in my heart – I love the area, the ambiance and several of the courses on-site. None are better than No. 2, though, and an afternoon round taking in the recent changes made under the watchful eyes of Coore & Crenshaw would be a perfect way to end an ideal day.

Augusta in the morning, Pinehurst in the afternoon … doesn’t get much better than that. Hopefully my short game comes along for the ride.


Heaven on earth would be 18 holes at Pebble Beach Golf Links in the morning and 18 at Cypress Point Club in the afternoon.

Put my dad and my two brothers in my foursome, and I'll be weepy on the first tee box.

There may be better overall tests of golf you could arrange back to back in a single day, but nothing as spectacular as those two courses, both built along the Pacific Ocean and the Monterey Peninsula. Anyone who plays golf knows the grandeur of Pebble Beach, but nobody tires of it. There’s nothing like stepping on that No. 7 tee and hearing sea lions barking and waves crashing on the craggy rocks around you. I’m fortunate enough to know that thrill, but I’ve never played Cypress Point, where there's more mystique than Pebble Beach because there's so much more mystery. We don't know it like we do Pebble. 

Alister Mackenzie is credited for building three of the best holes in the world – Nos. 15, 16 and 17 – along the ocean at Cypress Point. If his design can rival the awe inspired by Pebble Beach, I’m more than intrigued. 


There is no shortage of 36-hole dream days in the Lower 48 – Augusta National and Pine Valley top most folk’s “bucket list.” Or maybe Pebble Beach and Cypress Point is your cup of tea.

But for the perfect combination of architectural brilliance and effortless proximity, we’ll take National Golf Links of America and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southhampton, N.Y.

Separated by the narrow Sebonac Road, one wouldn’t need a second warm up after a round at one of these gems before setting out for the afternoon 18.

And the golf, well let’s just say Southampton’s 11968 zip code may be the deepest collection of classic architecture this side of the Monterey Peninsula.

Although both courses are perennially ranked among the top courses in the country, Golfweek Magazine’s top 100 list of “Classic Courses” puts the relevancy of proximity and perfection in context. Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links rank third and fourth, respectively, on that list.

By comparison, Pine Valley and Cypress Point are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on the Golfweek list. Although that would be a potent combination, a mid-round red-eye doesn’t exactly scream “dream day” to most folks.

Whereas a day on Shinnecock and the National would literally be a walk across the two-lane road, but not before a relaxing lunch and maybe even a nap.

Now that’s a dream day.

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

“First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

“I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

“I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

“You never know,” she said.