Public Access The 2010 Majors - COPIED

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2010, 8:47 pm
It was 15 years ago, but Mike Davis remembers the day David Fay poked his head into his office with HD clarity. “What do you think of a U.S. Open at Bethpage?” asked Fay, the executive director of the U.S. Golf Association.

Fifteen years after the fact the simple query, or perhaps it’s best to describe Fay’s vision as a quest, it’s easy to recognize that innocent exchange as the clarion moment in a public golf paradigm shift, an evolution that manifest itself this year in a Grand Slam first. For the first time since 1916, the year the PGA Championship assumed its spot in the major rota, three of the four majors will be played at “public access” venues.

To be clear, Pebble Beach Golf Links, site of next week’s U.S. Open, and its famously exorbitant rack rate of $495 is not exactly what Fay had in mind when he coaxed Davis out of his office in 1995 for an impromptu round at a rough-around-the-edges Bethpage Black Course. Ditto for Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, another high-end resort track that will host this year’s PGA. Yet for a game dominated, and defined, by private clubs and exclusionary practices for decades, the 2010 public trifecta is a reason to celebrate the walk-up tee time, if not the evolution of the game.

To put this year’s Grand Slam triple-play in perspective the first time at least two majors were played on public access venues in the same year was in 1977 when Turnberry hosted its first British Open and the PGA was held at Pebble Beach. It’s happened four times since then, most recently last year when the U.S. Open was played at Fay’s Bethpage, for the second time, and the Open Championship returned to Turnberry.

'No, I didn’t envision anything like this in 1978 (when he joined the USGA),” Fay admits.

In Fay’s defense, no one was thinking about public access venues or small-market majors at the time. As a rule, Grand Slam events were played at private clubs – because, the thinking went, they were better equipped to maintain a golf course to major championship standards – and in large metropolitan markets.

“I remember P.J. Boatwright (the former USGA executive director), who grew up in North Carolina and played a ton of golf at Pinehurst, telling me point blank we will never take an Open to Pinehurst,” Davis remembered. “But he didn’t know about all these new grasses that can withstand the heat.”

The ’72 Pebble Beach Open begat Pinehurst in 1999 and Bethpage in 2002, Torrey Pines in 2008 and Chambers Bay, a county-owned facility in Tacoma, Wash., in 2015 – all three public access venues in form and function. But in many ways Fay’s vision and the move to walk-up facilities was simply part of the evolution of golf in America away from country clubs toward what those in the industry like to call country clubs for a day.

According to Davis, the ratio of private courses to public access courses in the United States has shifted from about 60 percent (public) to 40 percent (private), to 80 percent to 20 percent. The shift to more masses-friendly courses for the national championship was inevitable.

“It was important to acknowledge the place of fee facilities and places where people could go play,” Fay said. “Nearly half the field can qualify for an Open, that’s not on paper but it is almost written in stone.”

The PGA of America has not embraced the blue-collar likes of a Bethpage or Torrey Pines, but history shows the guardians of “Glory’s Last Shot' was actually ahead of the curve when it came to public access venues.

The PGA was first played at a public access venue in 1924 at French Lick (Ind.) Springs Resort and has since been played on 10 courses that are open for public play, although the only current public access venue in the PGA rota is Whistling Straits.

The British Open’s all-access philosophy dates back to 1873, the first year the championship was played on the Old Course at St. Andrews, and the rotation now includes regular stops at Carnoustie and Turnberry.

Although 2010 may be the first for the public access trifecta, there is little chance it is the last. The modern major in many ways is almost as much about space as it is about the merits of a golf course or the size of the local market.

“We are looking at new venues that have the space,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s top set-up man.

Corporate tents, media complexes, parking and merchandise areas are now key parts of the criteria for hosting championships, all but relegating the classic confines of a Merion – which will host what is being called a boutique U.S. Open in 2013 – to an occasional cameo if at all.

The shift away from private enclaves to public venues is as much about square footage as it was Fay’s vision to create a “People’s Open,” a reality that all but assures 2010 won’t be the last “Public Access Slam” for the season’s final three majors.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen less,” Davis said. “Some of the places we go to now are so tight (on room) we can barely make it work. The need for space at these championships are going to continue to grow. If you fast-forward 20 years, I can’t imagine an Open being smaller.”

Nor can one imagine the year’s final three majors ever returning to the exclusive domain of private clubs. Fay and fate made sure of that.

Getty Images

Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.