Contest winner's trip report: The Carson Valley/Carson City Divine Nine Media Tour

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 31, 2011, 4:56 pm

Winner of the Carson Valley/Carson City Divine Nine Golf Channel writing contest, avid golfer Mike Moore (shown on the left and far right with Dennis Miller from ACES Magazine) had the chance to participate in the infamous Divine Nine Media Tour: Two holes on nine different golf courses throughout Carson Valley in one day. Sounds crazy? It was. Here is his dispatch: 

CARSON VALLEY, Nev. -- Maybe it was the 6am wake-up call, no practice swings, no stretches. Maybe it was the 48 degrees. Maybe it was little sleep after the trip from Houston to Nevada’s state capital. Perhaps it was nerves – you know, being the only non-media guy of 15 in the group. Whatever it was, my first swing of the day was a miss, a strike, a pure scalp, a 5-inch divot parallel to the ball – a Titleist that stayed perched atop the tee, unmoved by my swing or my plight. 

Welcome to the Divine 9 Media Tour in Carson City/Carson Valley, Nevada. This was my first trip here, but the 12th annual rendition of an event that invites media to play two holes at nine different courses in eleven hours to promote the area’s golf variety, quality and fun factor to visitors and locals. 

I’m standing on the 16th tee of the Genoa Lakes Resort Course, a par-3 of 149 yards overlooking what locals refer to as “the mighty Carson Valley” when I whiffed.  I’m here as the winner of a writing contest, a national promotion inviting traveling golf writer wannabes an expense paid trip and a $500 stipend to chronicle this offbeat, Wild West assignment. My winning entry was a short story about my first golf trip to Scotland years ago. This affair definitely broke with any of the game’s long-held traditions. 

Media from throughout Northern California and Nevada piled onto the shuttle bus at the Gold Dust West Casino Hotel in Carson City, our host hotel. The night before we were feted to a civilized welcome reception with representatives from the local visitors bureau, the hotel and golf courses. How could I have known then what was to come? 

We had 15 gentlemen on the bus and a very large ice chest. The only woman cancelled the night prior, which upon further review may have been a blessing – for her! When all 15 played the same hole at the same time at Eagle Valley West, I got a bit nervous. That’s also when I started to flinch. 

The route throughout the Carson City/Carson Valley area would cover approximately 90 miles with stops for two holes at each course: Genoa Lakes Resort and Lakes Courses, Carson Valley, Sunridge, Eagle Valley West and East, Silver Oak, Empire Ranch and Dayton Valley

“All right turns,” said Phil Weidinger, whose PR firm organizes the venture for the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Carson Valley Visitors Authority and Chamber of Commerce. “We’re burning daylight and gotta make it quick.” 

We also stopped for lunch at Carson Valley Inn in Minden, Nevada to make a deli sandwich and have a drink. Did I mention drinks? The magic ice chest: always full, a “welcome” Bloody Mary at our second stop, the  5-hour energy drink after our last course at J’s, a tony restaurant in Dayton, prior to dinner and more drinks at Ole Ole, the South of the Border pride of Gold Dust West, conveniently located just about 20 paces from their bowling alley. 

This is Nevada, the Silver State, where slots and morals are sometimes loose, and where Mark Twain, who started his writing career here is purported to have said, “Everything is legal here – as long as you don’t frighten the horses.” 

Many courses had carts waiting on side streets to accommodate quicker play. Rules said to pick-up at 8, that there wasn’t enough time to watch that many bad shots. We were whisked from course to course, averaging 50 minutes at each, with players greeted by friendly staff eager to impress. 

The valley courses presented holes with a striking variety and challenge.  Each provided their own personality from the family-friendly and award winning Carson Valley, the oldest in the region; to Dayton Valley, a site for US Open Qualifying for 16 consecutive years with its impeccable greens; to the birdie friendly layouts of Empire Ranch and Eagle Valley East; to 63 acres of water at Sunridge; to scenic Genoa Lakes, a championship layout with views to match; to the target golf of Eagle Valley West; the views of Carson City from the peaks of Silver Oak,  I quickly fell in love with this scenic, high desert paradise located just 30 minutes from Lake Tahoe and Reno. It was all there: rolling hills, trees, rivers with a backdrop of the spectacular Sierra Nevada as the highlight. 

Hole in one

Don Marchand (above), a sports talk show host at ESPN radio in Reno, aced the 159-yard, par 3, No. 4 at Sunridge, a carry of 150 yards over water. It was a first in the tour’s history. That he used a yellow ball “just in case” resulted in unmerciful teasing. The water theme repeated itself at many courses, along with forced carries over barrancas. 

Bill Henderson, long time marketing director at Carson Valley Inn and the man credited with this format, smiled and said, “We just wanted to make it memorable for you.” Our 18-hole course included seven par 3s, six par 5s and five par 4s, totaling 6,419 yards. The Northern Nevada Golf Association even provided an official rating and slope at 70.1/119. I guess Twain was right! 

For a golfing good time, this area is hard to beat – an eclectic selection of courses from championship caliber tournament layouts to the family friendly with accommodations and local attractions for most interests with a doff of the cowboy hat to old west history. They even have the Virginia & Truckee Railroad running along its original route between Carson and Virginia City, where the Mother Lode was struck in the 1800s. The Divine 9 offers packages throughout the year for individuals and groups. for details. 

Most of the guys shot in the 90s with the generous rules; I rallied after that opening swing for a 95 and hit some decent shots considering the format and decorum. I was even interviewed by Dina Kupfer, sports anchor at KRNV, Reno's NBC affiliate.

When the day mercifully ended in the gloaming, backs were tight but quips were loose. Scores didn’t matter – it was about the experience and that included 1 eagle, 3 birdies, 68 beers, 6 sports drinks, 15 Bloody Marys, 28 waters, one crazy format and one great time. 

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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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 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 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."