USGA tees it way, way back for U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills

By Brandon TuckerAugust 19, 2011, 8:14 pm

While the PGA of America is asking us to 'Tee it forward,' the USGA is going way, way back. 

In fact, we have a new record for longest USGA golf course setup: next week's U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills Golf Course near Milwaukee.

At a setup of 7,760 yards, it inches past last year's host, Chambers Bay near Tacoma, by 18 yards. The shortest hole is the 9th at just 134 yards, while the 18th is a meaty 675 yards - quite possibly long enough to be a three-shot hole for Bubba Watson.

Like Chambers Bay, the 2011 U.S. Amateur is somewhat of a lab rat for the USGA setup committee leading up to the 2017 U.S. Open, both in golf course setup and logistics outside the ropes. With fescue fairways, the course should play firm and fast, but the GCSAA notes it's been a hot and humid summer in Wisconsin, which isn't optimal for fescue turf more commonly used by the sea. 

While it's always exciting for Joe Muni golfers to see the U.S. Open staged on a public golf course, it's tough for me to call Erin Hills a model course for the sustainability of the game, especially at this eye-popping length. Daily green fees are north of $200, which may be justifiable in Arizona but not rural Wisconsin (granted, nearby PGA Championship and Ryder Cup host Whistling Straits pushes $400 with a caddie). Erin Hills is set on 652 acres, about 3-4 times more than necessary for a traditional 18-hole course. 

Some colleagues I've met who have played the course called it a long, grueling walk. And the fact it can't be a suitable test unless it's the longest golf course in USGA history doesn't say much for its efficiency in design. And the original owner, Bob Lang, went broke trying to make the course a U.S. Open venue, as detailed by Golf World's Matt Ginella last year in a great in-depth piece. 

It seems like just a matter of time before we see the first 8,000-yard setup at a major (there are already a few courses that offer 8K, like Ross Bridge on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama), leaving the many classic golf courses of the 1920s that are stretched to the max at 6,400 yards shed another little tear of obsolescence. 

I like the idea of more natural-appearing golf course design, but do we need 652 acres and 7,700-plus yards to do it? 

D-Day for 8K may very well come in six years when the USGA returns to Erin Hills for the U.S. Open.


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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