Randall's Rant: Time for LPGA courses to get tough

By Randall MellMarch 27, 2017, 11:51 pm

It’s time to see who can play tough on the women’s tour.

At least, that’s the hope with the year’s first major arriving this week at the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Here’s hoping the rough is up on the Dinah Shore course, that the greens are firm and fast and that conditions are grueling, because we’ve seen enough marshmallow setups to start the year.

I like birdie-fests almost as much as anyone else, but enough is enough. As a steady diet, it’s like being served candy and doughnuts for almost every entrée.

It’s time for a lean, mean course.

Three of the six LPGA events played this year were won with 72-hole tournament record scores.

Four of the six have been won at 20 under or better, five of them at 19 under or better.

The only exception so far this year was Ha Na Jang’s win at Royal Adelaide in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. She won at 10 under.

The average winning score this year is 20 under par.

Yes, it’s fun to watch the women go low, but the courses look like they are set up way too easy.

Brittany Lincicome opened the year blitzing the Ocean Club on Paradise Island, winning the Pure Silk Bahamas with a tournament record score of 26 under par.

Amy Yang won the Honda LPGA Thailand with a tournament record 22 under at Siam Country Club’s Pattaya Old Course.

Mirim Lee just won the Kia Classic at a tournament record 20 under. Aviara Country Club doesn’t look that easy, but Lee was the fourth of six winners this year to post four consecutive rounds in the 60s.

Anna Nordqvist won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club at 25 under. It’s time for some pain and suffering in the women’s game. It’s time for a real major championship test, a setup that wipes the smiles off players’ faces, that forces the best to dig deep for their most clever shotmaking.

It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

It’s time to test every element of a player’s game, including temperament, resolve and resilience, all the good stuff that measures major champions.

Because, here’s the thing, even the LPGA majors looked way too easy in the second half of last year.

In Gee Chun won the Evian Championship last September with the best 72-hole score ever recorded in a men’s or women’s major. She won at 21 under. This isn’t to take away from Chun’s brilliance. She proved herself major tough winning a U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club two seasons ago. She probably would have won playing Evian through a jungle.

Ariya Jutanugarn won the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn last August at 16 under, on a major championship test that measured just 6,300 yards. Again, Jutanugarn probably would have won anywhere, given she was playing the best golf in the women’s game heading to England.

But the generosity of setups are becoming an issue.

Every course except one on the LPGA schedule so far this year featured scorecard yardages of 6,600 yards or better, and the one exception (Kia) was 6,593 yards, but rarely do they seem to be set up that long, according to Golf Channel staff who are there week to week.

“I do see a trend in how the LPGA are setting up courses, even from when I played, which wasn’t that long ago,” said Golf Channel analyst Karen Stupples, the 2004 Women’s British Open champ. “I've played on the same courses, and I played them longer when I played three, four years ago. So, they’re setting the courses up shorter. It’s very rare now that you have a golf course that requires much more than a wedge into a par 4. It’s very easy to be aggressive and go for a flag if you’ve got a wedge in your hand. It would be nice to see, every once in a while, a bit more of challenge.”


Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.