High Praise for Quail Hollow

By Rex HoggardApril 30, 2010, 12:22 am
Quail Hollow ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s not Magnolia Lane, but from the moment one wheels onto the property off Gleneagles Road everything about the place screams Augusta National, from the white guardhouse tucked into a sea of foliage to the rolling greens that Stimp on the white knuckle side of high anxiety.

Bobby Jones never graced Quail Hollow’s grounds but if you look hard you can see Jones sipping an old fashion on the modest porch.

“Wait until you see it,” gushed Jay Williamson to a Quail Hollow first-timer earlier this week.

Quail Hollow’s kinship with Augusta National is distinctly by design. Of the club’s 324 members 14 have a coveted members green jacket in the closet. It is part of the charm, and the curse, of the place.

When Quail Hollow joined the PGA Tour fold in 2003 it was an instant classic, attracting a major-championship quality field to a major-championship quality venue with every bell and whistle the modern pro has come to expect.

For all those disgusted to distraction by the impending “fifth major” debate, the best way to sum up Quail Hollow is Grand Slam Lite. Check the champion’s board, Quail Hollow’s winners are a who’s who collection of major players – Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, David Toms, Jim Furyk.

“I would say it’s better than a major because it’s easier to get around,” said Dale Lynch, Geoff Ogilvy’s swing coach who has seen his share of major venues.

With high praise, however, come high expectations. And at Quail Hollow it seems those expectations may have exceeded its status as the biggest fish in a frenzied PGA Tour pond.

On paper Quail Hollow is stone-cold Tour lock with a sponsor, albeit a largely absentee check book, that is on the board through 2014, a stellar course and a tony date on the docket.

But clear, sunny skies for Thursday’s first round and beyond belie an approaching imperfect storm of major ambition and political opportunism.

Officials renamed the event the Quail Hollow Championship last year, but they may as well have dubbed it the Barney Frank Open. Frank, the outspoken congressman from Massachusetts, publically blasted TARP-recipient Northern Trust for what he viewed as corporate extravagance during last year’s Tour stop in Los Angeles. So when Wells Fargo purchased Wachovia, Quail Hollow’s original sponsor, the financial giant kept writing the checks but did so from afar.

Yet Wells Fargo’s duck-and-cover act is less of a linchpin in the Tour’s future at Quail Hollow than Johnny Harris, the omnipotent president of the club.

“We have a contract through 2014. We look forward to having the Tour here until then, and then we’re going to look at all our alternatives,” Harris told the Charlotte Business Journal this week.

And as warm and fuzzy as that endorsement sounds, Harris’ follow up was even chillier. Asked if he felt it was necessary to have an annual Tour stop he said, simply, “wouldn’t think so.”

Harris planned to meet with commissioner Tim Finchem this week. But the more important meetings may likely come in the next few months between Harris and officials from the PGA of America.

Sources close to the situation say the club, and Harris, want to host a Ryder Cup but will likely need to host a PGA Championship first. On the competitive calendar the next available PGA is 2017 and the next open date for a U.S. Ryder Cup is 2024.

With that kind of Grand Slam glory on the hook there would be little need, or open seating for the matter, for a yearly Tour stop. And, in a twisted way, Tour types seem to be writing their own ticket out of town.

Almost to a man, the reviews of Quail Hollow leave little room for ambiguity or hyperbole.

“If we all turned up here and had a U.S. Open or a PGA it would feel like a normal U.S. Open or a PGA,” said Ogilvy, three shots off the lead after Round 1. “It does feel like a major kind of place.”

Paul Goydos, who is tied with Ogilvy at 4 under, offered the ultimate player endorsement: “The green speeds are Augusta-like if not even quicker.”

Although some sources estimate there is a 60 percent chance the Quail Hollow Championship is headed for a far-to-premature swan song when its agreement with the Tour is up in 2014, one Tour veteran mused late Wednesday on the practice putting green that with a PGA or Ryder Cup the club gives up control, while with a Tour event Harris & Co. call many of the most-meaningful shots.

But does the membership, specifically Harris, want a yearly Tour stop?

“That’s a good question,” the veteran allowed.

Without question, Quail Hollow would be up to whatever major challenge they wish to tackle. But for Tour types the question remains, at what cost?

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.