Escena Golf Club: Classic ideals meet modern day pleasures

By Travel ArticlesMay 16, 2012, 6:44 pm

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Like its desert cousin Las Vegas, Palm Springs is a destination where the halcyon hunt of drink, dine, dice and, yes, golf exists as the driving pursuits upon one's agenda.

Despite being new to the Palm Springs' golf scene, Escena Golf Club is among the locales that genuinely paint the mirthful ideology upon which this playground was framed.

'The interesting thing about the whole place is that it starts with the clubhouse,' said John Fitzpatrick, managing director at Escena Golf Club. 'It's not your typical desert clubhouse. You've got a host of Tuscan-inspired clubhouses, and we've got the mid-century modern design, which speaks to the architectural heritage of Palm Springs.'

The clubhouse is indeed among the most sleek in the area and sets a tone for a round of mirrored pleasure.

'We know there are a lot of great golf courses out here, but we want to be different in how we present ourselves,' Fitzpatrick added.

Originally debuted in 2005 before financial bogeys forced a two-year closure, Escena reopened in 2009. A segue from clubhouse to course impresses with a look of maturity that belies its newcomer status. Bearded palms line the fairways, and a wash of foliage across 172 acres of property give the feel of a track that's been present since the days when Sinatra took his desert getaways.

'It's a nice desert palate,' Fitzpatrick said of the ample plantings. 'You've got lantana and then agave plants for color and variety. The palms have been here awhile, and one of the requirements of the city is to leave them in their native state, so that's why they're bearded. It gives the whole landscape a really established look.'

Escena Golf Club: Study your approach

The vast landing areas drawn by Nicklaus Design at Escena are wider than the late Bob Hope's grin, instilling scoring confidence from the box and encouraging fluid pace-of-play.

'With wide, generous fairways, you're not feeling claustrophobic on any of the tee boxes,' Fitzpatrick said.

School of thought varies on the design duty of starting holes, and it's not uncommon to see a double-take upon recognition that Escena begins with its top handicap at No. 1, a 611-yard par 5 that establishes the look of desert waste areas lining the spacious fairways.

'It's cool, with that iconic view of the windmills in the backdrop,' Rich Enriquez, director of golf operations at Escena, said of the introductory hole. 'It lets everybody know, 'You're in Palm Springs now and about to experience it dramatically.''

At 7,200 yards from the tips, Escena is a mesh of muscular par 3s (four of the five play at 200 yards or more) and readily enjoyable par 5s that should even out the scorecard. The real test comes via approaches to bunker or water-guarded putting surfaces that are generally sizeable but oft-tiered, slightly elevated and skinny. Hole placement is a major factor here, and the cerebral player will think twice about consistently playing for pins.

'There's varying depths to the greens, that's for sure,' said Fitzpatrick. 'Depending on the hole design, some are deeper than others. You'll find longer, skinnier greens for the longer holes.'

The first of the three par 5s on the back appears on No. 13, playing a dogleg right at 554 yards. The diminutive, 502-yard 15th is an excellent birdie opportunity for those who avoid water running along the entire left side of the fairway and fronting the green.

No. 18 reads as a fine final chapter, as the 502-yard par 5 offers a convergence of all the pleasures written across these grounds. Desert waste area fronts the box of the home hole, before a wide landing area greets to the right, matched with a creek running along the left.

To reach the elevated green past guarding water is to earn a deserved refreshment upon the nearby patio overlooking a reminder of Palm Springs of yore.

Escena Golf Club: The verdict

Escena Golf Club's classic Palm Springs' look combines wide landing areas and a host of playable par 4s and par 5s to make this a most pleasing round.

Approaches to large but skinny greens are testy, so GPS rental will prove helpful, or it's advised that first-timers inquire about a complementary yardage book given to newcomers.

'Being near the airport, I thought there would be lots of noise,' said Gary Duke, a first-time visitor. 'I saw lots of planes during the round but didn’t hear a thing.'

The close proximity to Palm Springs International Airport proves a positive, as ample guests play upon arrival or prior to departure and make use of the excellent public locker room facilities. The Escena Grill is among the top dining options in the desert, and visitors should, at the very least, enjoy a beverage on the patio.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.