Palm Springs golf courses for architecture junkies

By Travel ArticlesJune 12, 2012, 4:52 pm

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Celebrity architects may still be a relatively new concept in golf, yet the 'Authors of AutoCAD' are now as much an attraction to a course as playing conditions, historical reference or clubhouse amenities.

To conquer a hole is to fell a designer in name, an interpersonal bragging right to say to your buddies, 'I just handled Pete Dye.' Few regions on the planet offer such a collective celebrity designer gauntlet as Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley region.

Here are four area tests that are certain to peak the interests of those with an ardor for architecture:

Classic Club

Host to the Bob Hope Classic (now the Humana Challenge) from 2006-08, the Arnold Palmer-designed grounds of the Classic Club count among the staunchest tests of golf in the Coachella Valley. The Classic Club was removed from the Hope rotation, in part, because of a windy rep. But don't let that blow you away from experiencing the gravity of these grounds.

The mosaic of 5,000 plantings softens the course's overt muscle, but mid-handicappers will still stand on many tee boxes considering just how good the pros were to have conquered some of these holes. Among the stoutest are the par 5s at Nos. 9 and 18.

The front-side finisher is the top handicap hole at 595 yards, featuring water along the left of the fairway and creeking before the green. At 564 yards, the home hole plays from an elevated tee and will prove a monster should a prevailing wind blow over your visor. Water runs the entire length of the right side and fronts the green on the 18th, serving as a reminder for whom this track was crafted.

South Course at Indian Canyons Golf Resort

Ready for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro? Sure, golf's return to the Games after more than a century's absence is still a few years away, but true design junkies will relish in the opportunity to prep for the 31st Olympiad with a round on the South Course at Indian Canyons Golf Resort. Redesigned in 2004 by Casey O'Callaghan and representing the first design-consulting project for LPGA Hall of Famer Amy Alcott, the South is regarded among the top courses for women in the country.

Now, Alcott will team with architect Gil Hanse to design a new track in Rio for the 2016 Games, and to hear Alcott speak toward the Rio course is to envision a similar degree of playability that makes the South such a pleasure for shorter hitters.

Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Club

With 22 courses in locations as diverse as Vietnam, Canada, Germany, and Cyprus, Nick Faldo's course design career has begun to mirror the worldwide influence that defined his playing days.

Marriott's Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert represents Faldo's first American project. Inspired by the Australian Sandbelt region, the grounds are a readily enjoyable mesh of pronounced bunkering and resort playability, a boast that too few courses in the desert sport with such seamlessness. Finding landing areas is generally a benign pursuit for the average player, as most fairway traps serve as signs that your driver is out of sorts.

Approaches are a different story, however, as sizeable, well guarded greens combine tricky undulation with testy collection areas. A studied and creative short game is required to score and players will want to prep for greenside sand and the aim of ample two-putts.

TPC Stadium Course at PGA West

Aptly regarded among the most difficult courses in the country, the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West plays as if Pete Dye woke up in a foul mood one morning and designed a track to mirror a rumpled bed sheet from a restless slumber.

It's not just the mass of dune bunkering or nine water holes that pronounce this a monster; rather, it's the endless rise of moguls and retreat of depressions that roll your way toward very subtle greens. It's truly a challenge to find a calm lie on the grounds. Given the continually penal design, PGA Tour pros petitioned to have the course removed from the then-Bob Hope Chrysler Classic rotation after just one year. The Stadium has been softened in years since, but this is still the toughest track in the Valley.

The finishing three tests offer a blunt challenge for the best of players. No. 16 is a 600-yard par 5 with long and deep bunkers that play to the left of the tee before reappearing before the deep left fairway. The 17th is Dye's homage to his design at TPC Sawgrass, sporting an island green with a green depth of just 27 yards. Coming home, No. 18 is a beast of a par 4 at 439-yards, presenting water along the entire left side of the fairway and green, coupled with bunkering running all along the right.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.