Punch Shots: Top three Jack Nicklaus Signature courses

By Brandon TuckerMay 30, 2012, 1:58 pm

Nicklaus Design has 365 courses in 34 countries, including 289 designed by the Golden Bear himself, so it's easy to stumble upon one of them during your golf travels. Our experts weigh in on the top three Nicklaus designs they've played. 

Brandon Tucker

Of the 18 Nicklaus Signature I've played, I tend to favor his firm's stuff from the last decade far more than his work from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.

My favorite of the bunch is the Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn Golf Club in Bend, which recently became public and stay-and-play accessible. Armed with a beautiful, high desert setting and prime playing conditions, the hole variety (especially on the back nine) makes for a most exciting round thanks to two potentially drivable par 4s and back-to-back par 5s. Sunny and dry Bend is a five-hour drive from Bandon Dunes, and absolutely worth the detour if you have a few extra days. 

A close second is Kauai Lagoons Golf Club in Hawaii (pictured above). While it's been in a state of transition for a few years, the new back nine stretch beside the ocean is reopened, re-turfed and better than ever. But as show-stopping as the mile-long stretch of oceanfront at Kauai Lagoons can be, I also love the inland, junglier holes on the front.

Lastly, though unfortunately private and apparently doing well enough to shield off public play, Cordillera Ranch Golf Course, north of San Antonio, is the best course I've seen in the Texas Hill Country yet. Primo conditions to go with some of Nicklaus' most fun green complexes that allow for a lot of ways to attack pins -- plus a show-stopping par 3 over waterfalls -- will please both shot-makers.

Jason Deegan

Some of my favorite rounds have been on Nicklaus courses. Before Tom Doak came along, Nicklaus was “the guy” getting the best coastal sites to design courses. He didn’t disappoint, either, mixing eye candy with strategy for some world-class golf.

First off, the Punta Espada Golf Course at Cap Cana, found in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, spoils visitors with a Caribbean golf course so visual and interactive with the ocean, it’s almost not fair. Eight holes play directly along – or over – the salt water. Two of the most dramatic tee shots you’ll ever hit come at the par-3 13th hole and the par-4 17th hole. Your spirits will soar as the waves crash around you.

For the second, it’s been more than a decade since I’ve played Great Waters at Reynolds Plantation in Lake Oconee, Ga., but the visions of the nine lakeside holes continue to dance in my head. I visited long before the Ritz-Carlton opened and still came away mesmerized by the resort. A greens and bunker renovation in 2009 has kept Great Waters on any must-play list, even as the club sorts out its highly publicized financial issues.

Thirdly, when I put up a photo of the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol on Facebook, my wall came alive with comments and likes. The scenery of the course's seven ocean holes is profound, even on a computer screen.

Located in scenic Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, the club recently tinkered with its back-to-back par 3s at No. 6 and No. 7 to move them even closer to the shore. Nicklaus calls ocean holes No. 16-18 the “best three finishing holes in all of golf.” I’m not one to disagree with the greatest golfer in the history of the universe.

Mike Bailey

Hands down, my favorite Jack Nicklaus Course is the one the pros love: Muirfield Village Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Memorial. I had the chance to play this private club a few years ago, and it's the closest thing to Augusta National I've ever experienced. That's no surprise as Nicklaus paid homage to the Masters site in many respects with Muirfield Village. And like Augusta, Muirfield keeps getting tweaked pretty much every year.

Runner-up is the Pacifico Course at Punta Mita Club just north of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, which is simply on one of the most beautiful settings in the world, with eight ocean holes. Pacifico actually has 19 holes with a 3A and 3B -- the latter of which is the world's only natural island green -- dubbed 'Tail of the Whale.' (Most people choose to play both holes for fun.)

My third favorite may be somewhat surprising; the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain, just outside of Tucson, Ariz., is fascinating. It's where the PGA Tour plays the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, and to me, that's what makes this course so cool. Nicklaus designed it specifically for match play, which is exactly how we should play it.

The best example is the 15th, a short par 4 that the pros often try to drive. With desert left of the green, pulling the big stick has its risks, and even if you hit the green -- if you get on the wrong side of the hole -- avoiding a three-putt is nearly impossible, even for the best players in the world.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''