Turf wars: Wisconsin golf scene

By Matt GinellaFebruary 27, 2014, 6:24 am

As natural selection of American golf courses, architects and owners continues to identify the thrivers and survivors, one man continues to strap on his boots every day and goes to work. Having recently caught up with one of the most influential minds in the modern era of golf and architecture, I simply asked Pete Dye, 88, “What have you been up to lately?”

“I have a few projects I’m working on,” he said, as he took a break from a meeting at his home in Florida. His wife, Alice, had answered and passed the phone: “It’s the guy from the Golf Channel,” she said. And then she barked: “You can take the call, but not in here, go to your office.”

Pete Dye’s busy, but he’s not in charge. Not at home. Although in Sheboygan, Wisc., Herb Kohler has asked Dye to assess a piece of property that would be used for the fifth course at the American Club, of which the first four are all Dye designs.

“In my mind, he’s clearly the strongest living architect,” is what Kohler once told me about Dye. And according to Dye, Kohler might be close to “pulling the trigger” on what appears to be a response to Mike Keiser, owner of Bandon Dunes, moving in on Kohler’s turf.

Kohler already has Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, both of which have hosted major championships. And after looking all over the world for more property to develop into courses and resorts, including the southwest coast of Oregon—down the street from Keiser’s Bandon Dunes—Kohler’s now looking into developing his own backyard. “Herb’s been sitting on this property for years,” said Dye. “There would be four holes along Lake Michigan. I wish I could have more along the water. That’s always the case. I wish I could have six.”

And the retail golfer wishes it could be 16, but some is better than none.

Dye has built 81 courses in his decorated career, which includes Kiawah’s Ocean Course, TPC Sawgrass and Harbour Town. “I’m too dumb,” he said. “I’ve actually gone out and built them all myself.” Which is exactly what Kohler appreciates about Dye. That he gets the man he hires, on property, shaping and making the decisions that go into building a golf course.

No one from Kohler’s camp returned multiple attempts for comment, but Keiser welcomed the idea of Kohler adding a fifth course to the American Club. “I’d be a fan,” said Keiser, who told me he plans on building three courses in the next eight years at the Wisconsin development he’s calling Sand Valley, which is near Wisconsin Rapids, two and a half hours from Kohler. The first of Keiser’s courses will be built by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Preview play could be as soon as the summer of 2016.

“I’ve always loved golf in Michigan,” said Keiser. “But if it was close as to which state has better golf, it sounds like the nod is about to go to Wisconsin.”

Meanwhile, Andy Ziegler, owner of Erin Hills, which will host the U.S. Open in 2017, will undoubtedly draft off the buzz of more golf in the area. Erin Hills is an hour from Kohler and a little more than two hours from Wisconsin Rapids.

“If you love golf, who wouldn’t want it?" said Ziegler. "Both have proven they know what they’re doing. It would be good for Erin Hills, but it would be great for golf in general.”

Asked if he would be inspired to add a second course, Ziegler said no. “We have land that resembles what we used for Erin Hills, but business is working well the way it is.” He said they’re considering adding holes, but he likes the idea of a short course or a par 3 course. “I like what they have at Pine Valley and Augusta National,” said Ziegler, who will add a fourth four-bedroom cottage at Erin Hills this summer.

As the Midwest endures one of the worst winters in over a century, the Wisconsin turf beneath the snow is becoming increasingly attractive to avid amateurs all over the world. And who in the industry wouldn’t want to see the partnership of Kohler and Dye ride again. Except for maybe Alice.

“Every time I do something she tells me I’ve done it wrong,” said Dye.

“What do you say?” I asked.

“I tell her, ‘You’re right.’”

For a guy who told me he’s “too dumb,” Dye’s pretty smart.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.