Man for the job?

By Brandon TuckerDecember 14, 2011, 2:54 am

Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player are just two of eight finalists in line for the coveted job designing 2016 Olympic Games' golf course in Brazil. 

The stakes are high, even though the money, $300,000 to the winning bid, isn't all that much, considering these guys are probably used to seven-figure fees. 

But eight golf course architecture firms are seeking to design the first one purpose-built for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The committee will announce the winning firm early next year. So who has the edge? 

Gentlemen, start your Power Points... 

Nicklaus Design 

Why: Jack Nicklaus' design strategy has certainly evolved over the years, from early courses like Muirfield Village to 21st century designs like Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. Nicklaus wisely sought out Annika Sorenstam as a design consultant and co-marketer, which prompted Norman to respond by calling up Lorena Ochoa for a similar role. 

Why not: The Bear's designs can often be penal. That's great for a tournament site, but considering this course will attempt to grow the game in Brazil to novice golfers, it might be a red flag. 

Greg Norman Golf Course Design 

Why: The Shark-Ochoa team is going to be a juggernaut in the board room. Norman, in my inteview with him back in March, was wise to say that the winner of this project will not only design the course but be a strong proponent for golf in Brazil and in future Olympic Games. Norman has a solid presence in Central America and a planned course, Praia do Paiva, on the east coast of Brazil. 

Why not: In Golf Magazine's Top 100 in the World course rankings, Norman is shut out. Fellow finalists Nicklaus, Tom Doak and Robert Trent Jones II all have entries. However, Top 100 courses are usually a result of a superior piece of property - not a designer who makes the most of an average or challenging site. 

Gary Player Golf Course Design

Why: The acclaimed 'Most traveled athlete in the game' is as much of a global ambassador as golf has. His energetic opinions on young people, fitness, growing the game and ensuring the stewardship of golf have deep roots. At age 76, who would even think to suggest he's slowing down? 

Why not: Player's firm has credit of over 350 courses with a strong presence in Africa. But if you had to pick out a couple of his signature courses, they don't pop out on the screen like some other architects. Player seems to deliver 'consistently good' over 'elite.' 

Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects

Why: Jones II has tournament designs all over the world (whether its The Mines in Malaysia, Dar es Salam in Morocco or CordeValle and Chamber's Bay out west) and that includes Brazil. Yet, his style tends to be more playable for higher handicaps, which plays to the fact Brazil's many new golfers will need a course that won't beat them up. He's also been global as long as he's been in the business (compared to other names who shifted their efforts abroad closer to when the North American market dried up). 

Why not: Jones' portfolio in both length, global presence and highly-rated courses is tough to beat. But will Jones give the same kind of marketing effort Norman, Nicklaus or Player would? 

Renaissance Golf, Tom Doak 

Why: Doak has five designs on Golf Magazine's Top 100 World ranking, more than anyone by far. Using throwback philosophies, he's made the most of remarkable sites like Pacific Dunes, Cape Kidnappers and Barnbougle Dunes. His courses usually have wide fairways and are thoughtful over long, which can cater to beginners. 

Why not: Doak's developers generally aren't concerned with building a pro tour host, so his portfolio demonstrating that kind of course may be limited. Also, by all accounts, the host site for this course isn't exactly Bandon. Doak will have to point to his courses in Lubbock or Myrtle Beach to show he can make something out of nothing. 

Hawtree Limited, Martin Hawtree 

Why: Hawtree claims a long-standing family design tradition dating back to 1912 and they admire his work especially in the British Isles and Ireland. He surely knows about high-profile golf design projects having taken over the gig with Donald Trump in Scotland. 

Why not: If Norman's prediction that the the committee will want a face of golf in the Olympics as much as an architect, will the board be impressed with the more humble Hawtree? 

Gil Hanse Golf Design

Why: Like Hawtree, Hanse has a small-but-strong portfolio, including Castle Stuart Golf Links in the Highlands, which he knocked out of the park

Why not: Hanse is well-known in Europe but not so much in North and South America. The Rio Golf Club, founded in 2002, is his only Brazil project and it has yet to open. 

Thomson-Perrett Golf Course Architects

Why: Another firm that would seem to be heavy underdogs, Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett have a portfolio of over 250 courses. They recently tried to beef up their marketability by adding Karrie Webb to the team if they win the contract. Take that, Jack! 

Why not: Their firm's work is almost exclusively in the Far East (I did enjoy a recent visit to Hamilton Island Golf Club, which made the most of a very severe, Whitsunday Island site). While Aussies and the older generation surely remembers Thomson's five Open Championship titles between 1954 and 1965, the younger folks might exclaim, 'Who?' 

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

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

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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