Hate Me but Love This

By Michael FechterAugust 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
If there's one thing I've learned during my summer tour of America, it's that I am a polarizing person.
 
I think of myself as a nice guy. My girlfriend seems to like me ' perhaps it's because she doesn't realize that there are far better looking and far, far wealthier men available. And, my 13-year-old son, Gabriel, tolerates me which is the best you can hope for from a 13-year-old boy.
 
To assuage the guilt I feel for actually accepting money for my Ambassador of Fun gig, I run a charity for Orphans. I sincerely strive to make the world a better and more peaceful place. Yet, I do seem to anger some golf readers with the words I write. So, ummm sorry.
 
Thanks to modern technology, I hear every complaint and compliment. I can log onto the Internet at a Rocky Mountain truck stop, a Grand Canyon coffee shop or an Alberta, Canada, Toyota dealership where my Prius broke down and read your e-mails asking, 'Who are you to suggest that Tiger Woods might be happier in retirement?... Jackass.' Or, 'Who are you to make fun of Augusta National in favor of some alcohol-laden charity event run by Surfers in Malibu?... Dumbass. And, 'Who are you to get paid to write and work on your golf game just to see if you can get as good as you were when you were 17 (and sucked)?... Moron. Just WHO are you, and why don't you get a real job?'
 
Thanks for all the love Wi-Fi.
 
Well, for those Fechter-haters out there (presently 23%), I have no idea how I got to do the things that I am doing, other than to say that yes, I'm a lovable idiot, and I have yet to be offered a 'real' job in construction management or investment banking. Thank the Lord.
 
For the past month, I have been working and traveling the whole of America with two very special people ' my beautiful, young, intelligent girlfriend, and my son. It's our last gasp of open-road freedom before both of them go back to school ' she for a PhD, and he for the eighth grade.
 
So, while in the Rockies, Malibu, the Oregon Coast or islands of Washington State, we have also been visiting some of the best golf courses in our nation as I fulfill my duties as the Ambassador of Fun for Greenway Golf Management.
 
Let me tell you about one: Stevinson Ranch Golf Course in the central valley of Calif., just two hours away from San Francisco and Sacramento.
 
In an age when most golf management companies target law firm partners for their clientele, Greenway caters to golfers. For under $70, not too far from Yosemite National Park in California, you can harken back to golf's Scottish roots and play Stevinson Ranch Golf Course. Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on earth and the same is true for Stevinson Ranch.
 
Built by George Kelley, a former professional golfer on the European and Australian circuits, Stevinson Ranch is on Kelley family land that was originally almond groves. Surrounding the course are wetland canals, marshes and the 60 acre Honda Lake. It is land so fertile that immediately beside Stevinson Ranch is a sod farm that grows all the grass for the Super Bowl. Just north of 'the Ranch' is an area called Humboldt County, where they grow all the 'grass' for surfers and stockbrokers. Carl Spacklers heaven.
 
Stevinson Ranch may be the greatest bargain in golf. Filled with the howls of coyotes at night, blue herons, wood ducks and scads of red winged blackbirds during the day, Stevinson Ranch is also home to the world's friendliest jack rabbits. It is one of only four golf courses in the world to receive the coveted 'Signature' status from The Audobon Society for its dedication to environmental excellence. Golf Digest rated Stevinson at 4 1/2 stars for 'Overall golf experience' in California. The only courses rated higher were Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, both of which cost more than five times more than Stevinson.
 
Stevinson Ranch is George Kelley's personal Augusta National. The only difference is that 'the Ranch' is very much open to you and me. You don't have to be the first born son of Hootie Johnson to get a tee time; you just have to pick up the phone.
 
I am not trying to make you hate me, so I won't go on about the hours I spent at the outdoor heated swimming pool, the outdoor jacuzzi or the world-recognized practice facility. I will not go on about how Stevinson feels alternately Southwestern, Californian and Scottish. I will also not go on about how great my girlfriend looks in a bikini. Again, it's my story, and I'll tell it any way I want.
 
I won't tell you how she and I jogged the course every morning at 6 a.m. through native grasses, wetlands and rolling turf while watching giant grass carp and largemouth bass feed in the ponds.
 
I absolutely will not go on about how fantastic the bar and restaurant are at Stevinson Ranch. How they cater to your every need 24 hours a day. And the steak? It's so good that they serve it at PETA conventions.
 
I will not go on about how I spent every day 'working' on my golf game between massages and moonlight dances with my beautiful blonde girlfriend. Forget Ambassador of Fun, I'm pushing for Ambassador of Peace, Love and Understanding.
 
So, go ahead and hate me for the words I write if you must. But, you are making a mistake if you never visit Stevinson Ranch golf course and its swales reminiscent of the Scottish highlands. Stevinson Ranch is a place often mentioned with the likes of Prairie Dunes in Kansas, Bandon Dunes in Oregon and the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C. Any of those available for $70?
 
George Kelley built his dream course. He's got cottages so you can stay as long as you like. Stevinson Ranch is simply a testament to all that is great about golf, nature and service.
 
If I can talk you, my fellow golfer, into playing just one round at 'the Ranch,' you may even forgive me for suggesting that Tiger turn his back on the game. Although, I doubt my mother ever will.
 
To learn more of how Stevinson Ranch inter-mingles nature and golf, visit www.stevinsonranchgolf.com
 
Write in with tales of your favorite course. And, perhaps on my next trip across the country we can share a round and write about it for GOLF CHANNEL.
 
Email your thoughts to Michael Fechter
 
Editor's note: Michael Fechter, orphan worker and humorist, has the best job in golf: he's paid to be the Ambassador of Fun for golf courses across America. His 'job' is to make the courses he represents across America more interesting, unique and fun. Enjoy his humorous series on getting back into the game as he struggles to get his game into the shape it was nearly 30 years ago when he won his only personal junior 'major,' the Al Esposito, on America's easiest muni with rounds of 71-71-75.
 
Related Links:
  • The Gratitude Project
  • Greenway Golf
  • Getty Images

    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

    Getty Images

    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

    Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

    <
    Getty Images

    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”