Hurricane Sandy leaves plenty of golf course devastation

By Jason SobelOctober 31, 2012, 9:27 pm

Let’s not mince words: This might be the least important Hurricane Sandy-related story you’ll read all week.

The devastation of the recent storm that ravaged the Eastern Seaboard is still being tallied, but already there are more than 50 reported fatalities, millions still without electricity and unprecedented property damage. Those are the blameless tragedies appropriately making headlines, coupled with the relief efforts to bring the region back to some semblance of normalcy.

Golf isn’t even an afterthought right now.

And yet, for such a golf-rich portion of the world, with so many world-class courses dotting the landscape from New England down through the metropolitan New York area and into the Mid-Atlantic states, we would be remiss to not also consider the damage to fairways and greens both famous and infamous suffering from the impact of nature’s assault.

As of Wednesday afternoon, those courses most affected remained untouched since the storm came barging through. Whether completely enveloped in water, smothered by fallen trees or even – as is the case with some seaside tracks – defenselessly sliding into the coast, they remain pictures of helplessness in the storm’s aftermath.

Staffers at courses in such places as Atlantic City and parts of Long Island are still struggling to get to the workplace, with downed power lines and blocked roads providing greater hazards than any course could ever contain. Those who have reached these destinations use the terms “war zone” and “pretty trashed” to describe their once pristine links, words which can sadden even the most neophyte agronomist.

“Yeah, this was a good one,” Craig Currier, the superintendent at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, N.Y., said with an exasperated laugh to indicate his sarcasm. “I’m getting a tree count now, but it’s in the hundreds. Most of them are just uprooted. I mean, they’re just massive.”

“We basically lost the back third of the 15th tee,” reported John Genovesi, director of grounds at Maidstone Club in East Hampton, N.Y. “That was the most dramatic damage we experienced, but there was also a lot of salt damage; we’ll be applying a ton of gypsum and flushing the sodium out for the next few weeks.”

“We have no power and probably close to 150 trees are down or broken,” said Paul Ramina, the director of grounds at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J. “There’s a lot of carnage here, but we’re fine. We’re good, everybody’s fine.”

Such is the prevailing feeling from those within the industry who were most impacted by Hurricane Sandy. With so many people left without homes, their lives rearranged by Mother Nature, the prospect of making reparations to a golf course hardly takes on the life-or-death proportions of so many others in need.

In fact, those who lean toward optimism under such duress can even see the silver lining of this cloud-addled disaster.

“Sometimes a hurricane isn’t a bad thing for a golf course,” contended Jeff Bollig, senior director of communications for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. “It’s like Mother Nature’s chainsaw.”

That glass-half-full perspective doesn’t end there, either. Common sentiment is that if those who preside over courses in the Northeast could schedule a storm of this magnitude, this would be just about the ideal time for it to happen.

“It’s certainly better at the end of October than the end of August,” explained Jay Wick, the head professional at Old Sandwich Golf Club in Plymouth, Mass., which received minimal wind damage. “Irene was unbelievably devastating last year. When it comes to lost revenues, it’s certainly a lot better at the end of October than any other time in the season. If there is a good time to lose your golf course for an extended period of time, then it’s late in the fall, because it gives you time to clean up and prepare for the spring.”

“If you had to pick a time, yes, this is a better time of year than the middle of the summer,” added John Lyberger, director of golf at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., which just last week finished clearing the last fallen tree from this summer’s derecho that impacted the AT&T National. “We’re in a time of year where the sun will come out and we can assess whatever damage has been done. We’ll take care of whatever needs to be taken care of on the golf course.”

Congressional isn’t the only major championship venue with that attitude. Two of next year’s four majors will take place in the Northeast, but each declared very little damage from this storm – and certainly nothing that will impinge either one’s ability as a host venue months from now.

“There was no major impact,” said Scott Nye, director of golf at Merion Golf Club, which will host next year’s U.S. Open. “We’re very fortunate. We have a stream on hole No. 11 and we were concerned about that, but we had no problems.”

“It was basically just rain up here and some wind, but it was not anything close to what was experienced in New York,” Dan Farrell, the general manager at Oak Hill Country Club said about the upcoming PGA Championship site. “Although we lost a couple of trees that are not in play, this won’t affect anything for the champ next year.”

The repercussions of Hurricane Sandy will be felt throughout the East Coast for weeks, months, even years. The repercussions on its golf courses are barely a blip on the radar screen surveying the total damage that’s been caused.

Yes, there will be long hours of hard work, course employees putting in overtime to chainsaw their way through branches or apply gypsum to the soil or otherwise get their places back into the pristine condition in which they previously existed. They understand, though, that their damage is not only minimal but trivial compared to what so many unfortunate victims are dealing with right now.

“You know, it’s a golf course. It’s not that big of a deal,” explained Frank Tichenor, the golf course superintendent at Forest Hill Field Club, an A.W. Tillinghast design in Bloomfield, N.J. “My mechanic who just started with me two months ago had the levee break near his house and watched his two cars float down the street. People lost their houses. I grew up at the Jersey Shore. It’s gone. We lose a couple of trees and it’s not life or death. We’ll get through it.”

Perhaps Currier summed it up best. “My problems are small,” he said, “compared with what most of the people around here are going through.

Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.