A Historical Look at Randolph North Golf Club
LPGA Tour names like Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Dottie Pepper, Lorie Kane and Julie Inkster have come to walk fairways flanked by mesquite and half-century old eucalyptus trees. All the while healthy crowds standby watching and making comparisons of what they would have done if their ball landed where Se Ri's or Lorie's did.
You see Randolph North is a municipal golf course. An oasis for the townsfolk left to them by Railroad tycoon Espes Randolph. Back in the early 1900's Espes Randolph donated the land with the stipulation that it be used strictly for parks and recreations.
Two golf courses, the North and South, arose from that generous donation. The newer of the two courses, the South, was originally built in the middle of the 1900's, was rebuilt in 1995 and renamed after the second head professional Dell Urick. The older North course was first laid out in 1925.
Back in 1925, golfers putted on sand fairways and sand and cottonseed greens. The entire course was sprayed with oil to keep wind from blowing the greens and fairways away. In all, the golf course bore little resemblance to today's lush, tree-lined setting.
Golf back then was a different kind of game then we know today. For one thing, you raked the greens after you were done. Also, playing partners were sometimes questionable. Back then it was not uncommon for rattlesnakes, scorpions or centipedes to join you in a round - whether you liked it or not.
The wife of local pro Dell Urich remembers when the course was finally grassed in 1936 under the direction of golf course architect Billy Bell: 'I believe Mr. Bell made about three or four visits to Tucson during construction,' Mrs. Urich recalls in notes scratched in her own handwriting. 'He stayed with us, and slept on a couch in the club house. 'This all occurred during the `Great Depression' so there was no staying at fancy hotels in those days. Money was scarce, and everyone had to economize.' Randolf North was a product of the times. Bell designed the new layout of the course and labor for the project was supplied courtesy of one of President Roosevelt's many government programs.
In 1933, when Mr. Urick took the job as head pro at Randolph North, greens fees were 50 cents for an 18-hole round. On October 31st, 1936, at the grand opening of the newly grassed course, greens fees shot up to a whopping 75. Today you can play a round for $16 in the summer or $27 in the winter. All things considered, it's still a pretty good deal.
Typical of most municipal golf course, Randolph North features less than perfect playing conditions for most of the year. That is until March when the public course puts forth its' best face for the LPGA Tour.
You see Randolph North has yet another special distinction. It is one of only a precious few municipal golf courses that host a professional golf tournament. This is no small accomplishment considering the size of today's purses.
Under the direction of Golf Course Superintendent Brent Newcomb, 47 part-time crewmembers work many months to prepare the North course for the tournament. All playable areas of the bermudagrass course are over seeded with rye during the winter months.
During tournament week greens are rolled three times a day and all efforts are made to supply the best possible playing conditions.
Newcomb's job is more difficult than that of most superintendents. He operates on a shoestring budget while trying to work miracles with a fleet of run-down Toros and Jacobsens. Seemingly, he does a good job. Although Newcomb has only been at Randolph North for 5 years, the LPGA has returned to this location 21 times.
In the last two decades conditions have improved. Newcomb feels that this year they did a better job of preparing greens and getting the greens up to speed. They also did a better job of building up turf density on the fairways - an improvement that came back to bite them after Wednesday's heavy rains made fairways impossible to mow.
Randolph North's history continues to grow. In 2000, Annika Sorenstam earned her final point into the Hall of Fame - and she did it all right here at the little municipal golf course born form simple, if not sandy, beginnings.
After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...
Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner
On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...
Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.
After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.
Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.
A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray
Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call
PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.
At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.
“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”
Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but 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 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.
Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.
“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park
PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.
Laura Davies won the day.
It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.
Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.
Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.
For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.
In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.
“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”
At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.
“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”
Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.
“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.
With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.
“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”
Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.
“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”
She also relished showing certain fans something.
“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.
In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.
Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.
“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.
After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.
“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”
Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.
In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal 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 upon returning.
“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”
And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.
Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill
ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.
The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?
“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”
And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.
After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.
“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”