Benton Harbor puts hope on Nicklaus course

By Associated PressSeptember 1, 2010, 8:19 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – This city on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan is beset with troubles: violent crime, racial strife, steep unemployment, and neighborhoods dotted with vacant homes and businesses.

In short, Benton Harbor is no one’s idea of a vacation destination. But local leaders are looking for hope from an unlikely source: a huge luxury golf resort under construction just a tee shot away from the half-empty downtown.

Supporters say the Golf Club at Harbor Shores could bring a steady stream of well-heeled tourists, along with jobs, housing and tax revenue. Opponents are skeptical.

Adding to the improbability of the project is the matter of race. The resort dedicated to an overwhelmingly white sport is taking shape in a town that is more than 90 percent black.

The centerpiece of the project is a new Jack Nicklaus-designed course. When complete, the 530-acre resort will also offer 800 cottages, homes and condominiums; restaurants and shops; a boutique hotel and spa; and deep-water marinas.

“Harbor Shores is not a cure-all. It is not a panacea for everything that we have,” Mayor Wilce Cook said. “I think it can serve as an anchor. And we can use that to entice other business and industry.”

For Nicklaus, the project is about giving a helping hand to Benton Harbor, a town of 11,000 about 100 miles east of Chicago.

“This whole golf course was set out from the start to change a community. It had nothing to do with the game of golf, really. It was changing the community through the game of golf,” he said.

The golf course and surrounding developments are owned by a consortium of three nonprofit groups, which, according to Nicklaus, intended to put all the money they make back into the community.

“To have that kind of project, where nobody’s profiting from it except for the people who live here … that’s the important part of it,” he said.

Tom Watson, who played an 18-hole charity exhibition round with Nicklaus and fellow greats Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller at the course’s recent grand opening, said golf is an inclusive pastime.

“This game has been criticized as an elitist game. If you take anybody of any walk of life, get them with a golf club in their hand, and they get a passion for the game, it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you do, who you are, what color your skin is,” Watson said.

Benton Harbor long has been considered one of Michigan’s most economically distressed communities. It has lost about 15 percent of its population over the past two decades. On any given night, few cars and even fewer people travel down Main Street, where many of the storefronts are vacant.

Since April, the city has been run with the help of a state-appointed emergency financial manager.

The town was also scarred by unrest in 2003, when racially charged riots broke out following the death of a black motorcyclist during a high-speed police chase. Rioters burned down buildings and attacked police.

Supporters of the resort say 20 to 30 million people live within a half-day’s drive of Benton Harbor, and a significant proportion in the coming years will come to play golf and shop at Harbor Shores. They hope visitors also make their way into town to spend money on Main Street.

Others are not as optimistic.

“It’s not an economic-revitalization program. Everyone knows golf courses are going south. We don’t need another golf course here,” said John Mann, a 60-year-old retiree from Kalamazoo who attended an anti-Harbor Shores demonstration at the grand opening.

Michigan already has more than 800 public golf courses, and many have struggled during the recession. But supporters insist the new course and surrounding development will only become more attractive as the economy recovers.

Benton Harbor agreed to lease a portion of Jean Klock Park on the shore of Lake Michigan to the Harbor Shores development team, angering Mann and others who have fought plans for the course. They claim it’s illegal for public park land to be used for private interests.

Mann said the Klock family deeded the park to the city nearly a century ago with the understanding that it would be set aside for public use.

“That’s the way it should be,” he said as dozens of protesters demonstrated in front of the entrance to the course. They held signs reading “Corporate Theft of Public Land” and “Stop The Racism.”

Few people dispute the aesthetics of the course, where lush green fairways wind through wetlands and sand dunes along the Paw Paw River within chipping distance of the lake. Not long ago, the land was home to abandoned factories and industrial waste.

It’s not the first time a Nicklaus course has been laid over an environmentally troubled site.

In Michigan, a Dearborn course called the TPC of Michigan was built atop an old dump site. The course is now so well-regarded that the Senior Players Championship was held there for years. In Anaconda, Mont., the Old Works Golf Course sits on a former copper smelter that once was polluted by toxic waste.

National golf officials have already given their stamp of approval to Harbor Shores, which was awarded the Senior PGA Championship in 2012 and 2014.

Nicklaus said he is proud to be a part of the project, which he hopes will restore some stability and prosperity to Benton Harbor.

“The community has come together and they said, ‘Hey, we want to work together. We don’t want to just be the poor child on the other side of the river. We want to build that and have it grow up and be one great community again,’ which it was a long, long time ago.”

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."