Four Buddies and 197 Holes of Golf

By Kraig KannSeptember 21, 2007, 4:00 pm
How does 197 holes over 5 days sound? Crazy? Torturous? Exhilarating? Relaxing? From my perspective, a little bit of everything and trust me, you need to give it a go. Not only do you need it. but your buddies need it too.
A few years back I let you in on my annual golf trip. which has now hit 13 years straight (the only one-year exception being the year my wife delivered our twins) and exactly how we do it, where we do it, why we do it and how you can do it.
It started as a simple way to get together given that we hadnt seen each other much since graduating from college at the University of Missouri. Its grown into a must-do and requires some serious scheduling for four fraternity brothers who live in four different parts of the United States.
2007 Golf Trip
Craig, Ron, John and myself, just getting things started at the first tee box.
This year, we actually needed to recruit a replacement given that one member of the foursome (Mark Yaeger from Dallas, Tex.) is on a 2-year business venture overseas in Asia. No problem as the threat of golf overdose gave us a few quick fill-in possibilities.
The winner was Craig Dixon Godfrey, Ill., just outside St. Louis. A former college player and night owl who (no pun intended) had no problem with less sleep than daylight golf. Not to be forgotten is his next-to-nothing handicap which fits in well for one of the others in the foursome.
Thats John Holdsworth. Eau Claire, Wis., who spent a few years as my roommate, carries a 2 handicap and has been known on this trip to take the Stadium Course at PGA West to its knees with rounds of 72 and 73 over the years. Hes older than us, but hes better ' which hurts.
Then theres the other two.
Ron Hauck hails from suburban Houston these days. He and Holdsworth used to dual at Mizzous University course after class (sometimes during) back in the 80s shooting in the 70s. The good news (for me) now is that Haucks single-digit handicap is creeping closer to mine than it is the other two.
My handicap that used to be 5 is now more like a 10 these days given so many reasons Id run out of room. (Perhaps it was a year hosting Academy Live with a new teacher each week boasting about a new theory that Id try to employ.) At any rate, with more swing thoughts than GOLF CHANNEL shirts, I can turn any potentially low round into 82 without much problem tossing in a round in the 70s on occasions.
Hauck (sorry Ron) and I spend much of our time each year trying to figure out how were going to keep up and how we can catch fire with a 75 that makes the others either A): show us respect. or. B): show us a free lunch in between rounds.
Over the years, weve ventured to Palm Springs, Calif., Las Vegas, Nev., Scottsdale, Ariz., (last year ' and the site of my one victory in this tournament, which Ill get to) and Northern Michigan.
This year we went to another of the great golf hideaways ' Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Hilton Head has long been a Kann family favorite. So much so that after enough trips to the PGA TOURs Verizon Heritage and a few vacations for my wife and me, we decided to buy a family getaway condo near the beach.
So heres how it works/worked.
Unlike other years where we all met at the venue ' with coordinated flights this time the guys flew into Orlando. A night at my house and on Labor Day we played our opening round of golf in O-Town because I had the Sprint Post Game that night recapping the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Grand Cypress Resort was home to the opening days golf. Im a member there and steered us to the New Course which has the feel and the look of the Old Course (yes, that one.) The first round is critical ' and given the possibility of different handicaps - it sets the tone.
After each round, we re-set the handicaps for the next round. Your handicap coming into the week is of no value in our game which lasts throughout the trip.
Scores were as follows.. with handicap for next round in ( ).
Craig D. = 74 (2)
John H. = 75 (3)
Ron H. = 76 (4)
Kraig K. = 80 (8)
2007 Golf Trip
John and myself hangin' with an alligator at Old Tabby Links at Spring Island.
The guys played another fun round in the afternoon on the East/North courses at Grand Cypress, then met me at GOLF CHANNEL where we left right after the show (7:30) and drove to Hilton Head Island, SC. About 5 and a half hours. but we stopped for some dinner and eventually arrived at 1:30a.m.
As we play the scores get adjusted after each round to a net number and the totals carry from round to round. The courses we played terrific venues all of them were set up a few weeks in advance with help from a media buddy Tom Cunneff from Links Magazine on Hilton Head Island. Heres the rundown of our week.
Day 1 kicked off with a 6:45 wake-up call, a trip to McDonalds for a combination of No. 1s, 2s and 7s and then to Oyster Reef Golf Club. A Rees Jones Design in great shape thanks to Superintendent Paul who helped us set up the round. We did not play from the tips given the demand of the tee shot. 8:44 tee time... and the final scores ranged from 74 to 82 (guess who.) So to explain it. I got 8 shots for my Grand Cypress round of 80 and thus shot a net 74. For my afternoon round, I get 10 shots because of my 82. Got it?
Not much time to spare we hightailed it to Wendys for a quick bite and off to Harbour Town Golf Links. Harbour Town tee time was set for 2:23 and after a handshake with pros John and Ben and a welcome from Caddy Master Mick, we headed off with Clay and Seth (caddies) who spent the afternoon with us. Great guys, great time and the course is as good as it gets. Its been my favorite tournament for years, and despite just one of us breaking 80, Id still try to find my way there at any opportunity. I just needed to find my driver! With darkness upon us, I dragged the guys for a post round beverage at Quarterdeck below the famed Harbour Town Lighthouse, then to Wild Wing Cafe and home. Walked to the beach and then hit the bed to get up and do it again.
After Day 1 totals were 223, 224, 226 and 234.. Remember ' a high round doesnt hurt you if . you use the strokes you get and go low the next round.
Day 2's wake-up call was 6:30 and resulted in another trip to McDonalds. The lady at the counter has to realize it's us again. We spend the day at Belfair Golf Club one of the islands top residential communities. Spectacular homes and two fantastic courses (East and West.) We played the Tom Fazio designed West Course in the morning and couldnt have been treated to better hospitality in the pro shop. Rob Anderson is the Director of Golf. Some necessary work on the range for everyone which we needed as nobody had played well at Harbour Town. We played the tipsand finished with three rounds in the 80s and John sporting a very impressive 75 which was a net 66 given his 80 the day before at Harbour Town. Impressive. And lunch was great, too. Then back out for another round. We picked the West again and played one tee up which led to three rounds in the 70s and my 80. I felt better about things as we wrapped it up just before dark at 7:40 p.m. Thanks to Rob and Shane and Brian and Hugh for all the fun. A night out at Callahans Sports Bar. nachos, wings etcetc. then back to the condo for ironing. Not me, the other Craig who spells it wrong. He was worried about his shirts looking wrinkled. Ron and I would have used the iron to iron-out our swing issues! Thursday was going to be our longest day and a ton of golf.
Day 3 on Hilton Head was our earliest wake-up - 5:55 a.m. and out the door to Palmetto Dunes. We didnt need (or want) many balls before this. which was a late add given our tee-time at Colleton River Plantation set for 10:30. The way I saw it before the week you never know about possible rain in the afternoon on the coast so I figured ' why not get in a quick 9 before our 36 in case we never played the afternoon?! Plus, Palmetto Dunes is a great spot.
Edward Sires is one of the professionals at the Arthur Hills Course at Palmetto Dunes and sent us off at 6:50a.m. We actually had to wait for light. Actually we got in 12 holes, hit McDonalds, and hit U.S. Golf Shop along the way to spectacular Colleton River Plantation where John had some work done on the putter head that had come loose on Day l (which resulted in him using my back-up which says perhaps more about the fragile state of my putting.) He said he wasnt making enough birdies with it. Guess 75 the day before had him down!
Nicklaus Course first at Colleton River Plantation. All I can say is 'Wow!' The range alone is worth the visit and could actually spur real estate sales. We teed off a bit late at 11 a.m. Great views and one of the best courses Ive played - which maybe had me fired up to find my game. My 77 was the low morning score and tasted good over lunch where I was back in the tournament after my bad round at Harbour Town. Actually, we didnt have time for lunch. We zipped over to the Pete Dye course at Colleton, grabbed some crackers and a few beverages for the round that started at 4 p.m. and ended at 8 p.m. No joke and three Pete Dye rounds in the 70s including me. The other Craig had the low round of 75. Cant thank Director of Golf Joe Zinchini enough for the welcome mat that he and Jeff Spencer and Kevin ONeal showed us. Even the guys at the bag drop waited for us! Pizza Hut pick-up on the way home, a few beverages to watch the Saints and Colts, do a load of laundry, pack for Day 5 and add up the totals.
2007 Golf Trip
John, Craig, Ron and myself at the famed 18th at Harbour Town.
506, 507, 511 and 516 after 3 days including 7 rounds.
Day 4 was our last day. We woke up and packed up - ready to leave after our second round that day heading for Orlando late that night. We decided to send the ladies at McDonalds into a frenzy and actually went to Burger King that morning instead. Then off to Old South Golf Links which is a favorite of mine. My son and I go out there with frequency to hit balls and play a few holes. Great shape and nobody shows you a good time like Head Pro Jim Uremovich. Shot-makers course with some wind along the way. Craig and John played ok for them which is great for me and Ron. And this was about the time that Ron and I were hitting the wall. Had we combined our 9 hole scores wed have posted 76. instead we threw up low 80s and actually thought about throwing up over the thought of one more round in the afternoon.
Except that the afternoon round was set for Spring Island Club and the Old Tabby Links. This was a late add because of our need for an earlier tee-time given our long ride home. But Old Tabby Links is as picture-perfect as it can get - ask Bill Sampson whos the Head Professional of this Arnold Palmer Design or Nathan or Joe. They know it might be a bit out of the way, but for us it was on our way off the island. The place is special and we even stumbled across the biggest croc youll ever see on the golf course. It didnt scare Craig or John they did what they do all the time shooting in the 70s and officially putting Ron and I out of our misery for this years traveling trophy.
After the round, we showered changed and hit the road. totaling up the scores and officially saluting Craig Dixon (the fill-in rookie) whos now a champion in his first try and probably now begging our friend Mark to stay in Asia so he can defend his title next year.
In the end we were spent. The drive back to Orlando for flights the next morning was a mixture of talk about why we dont hit fairways, why we dont make putts, a few cat naps and then more talk about why we have to wait a year to do it again.
Next year we wont play 197 holes. Well still fly in and play the first 18 that day to set up the handicaps for the next days first round and away we go but weve decided to cut it back to 27 holes on at least one of the next four days to have more down-time to just hang out and more range time to fix whats not working.
And weve already determined were heading back to the California desert in 2008 where this trip all began in 1995. That means a few calls to PGA West among other venues, a reservation at our favorite Holiday Inn Express, and dinners each night at the famed BeerHunter.
Bottom line is a trip like this is about the friends as much as the golf. The guys get older, the golf gets a bit more inconsistent and the traveling trophy keeps adding the names.
And while weve perfected (not patented) a system to give each guy the fair chance at victory, we realize that without the guys theres no trophy to give and without the game of golf theres no trip that could possibly be as good!
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.