Big win for 'Johnny Golfer': Texas A&M unveils new-and-improved Campus Course

By Mike BaileyOctober 30, 2013, 9:58 pm

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- For a day at least, the spotlight at Texas A&M wasn't on Johnny Football, aka Johnny Manziel, but on something almost as rare as winning a Heisman Trophy – a new campus golf course.

Last weekend, Texas A&M unveiled its new Campus Course, a par-71, 7,008-yard gem designed by one of its very own, Jeff Blume, a 1989 landscape architecture graduate.

Blume, who is based in the Houston area and worked with Robert von Hagge before opening his own firm in 1997, has quietly built a solid reputation as a designer. He puts this project near the top of his list of accomplishments, not only because his legacy will live on 'hallowed ground,' but because of the quality of the course.

Former Texas A&M and Houston Oiler quarterback Bucky Richardson pretty much spoke for everyone who played it for the first time last weekend when he said, 'The golf course is a huge upgrade in every way. The Campus Course is something we can all be very proud of.'

Indeed it is. It replaces the flat 6,800-yard Ralph Plummer design that had been there since 1952. With very little top soil on the old course, growing grass was problematic. It had seen its day and then some.

So in came Blume and Houston businessman Robert Steele and Sterling Golf, which is a partner with the university on the $5 million course. They didn't cut any corners. In addition to a state of the art irrigation system, the course also got six inches of sand-capping, and it showed. In the little more than a year after the old course was shut down, the new Campus Course at Texas A&M grew in quickly, especially the Mini-Verde greens, which were fast and true, and, of course, a little firm.

As for the rest of it, Blume, who scouted out the classic courses in the Northeast for the project, gave it an early American look. There are 158 bunkers on the course, many of them clustered in the style of Charles B. Macdonald or Donald Ross.

'You don't have very much of that in Texas,' said Blume, whose credits also include the much-heralded Grand Pines at Bentwater in the Houston area as well as Sterling Country Club.

Video: Ranking the top college golf courses

The project was initially deemed a remodeling job, but even though a few holes seem similar to the old course, it's essentially a brand new routing. More than 200,000 cubic yards of earth were moved, creating slopes and undulation that wasn't there before. The greens are on the large side, and there are number of water hazards, including a stream that runs directly through the course. Best of all, to the west, golfers have the backdrop of the Texas A&M campus, including Kyle Field, where Johnny Football and Co. have been lighting up the scoreboard regularly for the past two years.

At $40-$60 on weekends for outsiders, it's also a good value, while students and faculty will play it for a fraction of that price. In an era where new courses are rare, and on-campus courses are even more so, score one for the Aggies. They got another big victory last weekend.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.