By MIKE BAILEY
No disrespect to Ridgewood Country Club and The Barclays, but how about bringing the PGA Tour playoffs to the west coast? Specifically, I would love to see a FedEx Cup playoff event at the recently renovated Bayonet Course at Bayonet/BlackHorse in Seaside, Calif.
In the old days, Bayonet had a reputation as one of the toughest hombres in the West, and it played hosted to a number of professional events. Now that it's received a facelift as part of a $13 million renovation by architect Gene Bates, it's even better – a lot better.
And it's still really tough. I'd love to see the tour pros tackle these narrow fairways and firm, tricky greens. In fact, at a U.S. Open qualifier at Bayonet earlier this year, the medalist shot even par, and there were a few scores in the 90s. At just over 7,100 yards, Bayonet isn't long by today’s PGA Tour standards, but its rating/slope of 74.8/141 is a testament to its difficulty.
If the course is set up firm, as it typically is in the summer and fall, even the pros will have a hard time holding the greens at Bayonet.
As for tough holes, take your pick. The ninth is a 480-yard dogleg right uphill par 4. And just for good measure, there are deep bunkers guarding a green with plenty of tough pin positions.
The finishing stretch doesn't appear particularly foreboding, with two par 4s less than 400 yards, but trust me, it isn't easy, and it could make for great drama. The last two holes, a 225-yard par 3, and a 519-yard par 5 that plays uphill sets up for an exciting finish.
Besides difficulty, though, Bayonet is also easy on the eye. The renovation saw to that. Underbrush was cleared and trees trimmed to provide views of Monterey Bay not seen in years. Bunkers were renovated. And the golf course is pure bentgrass, tee to green now, so all you see is deep green turf surrounding ragged edged snow-white bunkers and ocean blue in the background.
The course is also very walkable, both for fans and players. And the Pacific Ocean provides plenty of air conditioning. What's not to like?
By BRANDON TUCKER
Golf hotbed Reno-Tahoe is a more deserving destination than serving as host of a sponsor-less PGA Tour event opposite the British Open. It deserves a FedEx Cup playoff event.
Tahoe's North Shore is a 30-minute drive from Reno-Tahoe Airport and is home to a handful of tour-worthy courses. Timilick Club in Truckee would be the most fitting for a PGA Tour playoff event. It’s a new private club that offers some daily public tee times while it tries to fill membership. It ranks among the best courses I've seen in 2010 and would be a great showcase of the area beyond Edgewood Tahoe on the south shore. Spectators who come to town would surely fall in love with Truckee's historic downtown and wealth of natural attractions around Lake Tahoe.
Designed by Johnny Miller and John Harbottle, Timilick is a more traditional-looking course compared to its showier mountain neighbors, and the routing is pretty easy to walk, especially on the flatter front side.
And the hole variety is tremendous, boasting not only varying visual scenery but it demands plenty of different shots too. There are two drivable par 4s (the 11th is one of the best out there), elevated greens and downhill holes, plus a 600-plus-yard finishing hole with plenty of trouble to create some playoff drama.
The course plays to a par of 71 and at 7,022 yards it might need a few new back tee boxes built to cope with today's best players and its High Sierras elevation, but many of the bunkers are deep and severe and the fairways could be thinned a bit to ensure a little bite. Then again, just about every course on tour has been getting chewed up this year.
The world's best pros would have a hard time finding faults here. They could even fly in on their private aircraft just a mile down the road at Truckee-Tahoe Airport.