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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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.