Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Visit With Geoffrey Cornish

Spent the better part of three hours with golf course architect Geoffrey Cornish for a piece that will run in Golf Course Architecture magazine, a UK publication.

At 95, and the oldest living golf architect, Mr. Cornish is remarkably spry with a wonderful memory. This is a man who worked for Stanley Thompson and met the likes of Donald Ross, A.W. Tillinghast and Alister Mackenzie, among others. Mr. Cornish has over 200 original designs to his credit, including work with former partners Bill Robinson, Brian Silva and Mark Mungeam. He's unsure of how many existing courses he worked on, but I'll bet it's at least 400.

Mr. Cornish took me to lunch -- I drove -- and had two Beefeater martini's to accompany his meal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Recession at Secession

Teed it up four times at Secession Golf Club with my friend Dave Silk and some of his friends for the Inaugural Recession at Secession. While some of the participants went home with fatter wallets, and others with decidedly thinner ones, I was able through a combination of no skill and blind luck to come away just about even.

Secession is an interesting layout with an odd history. Pete Dye routed the golf course and was going to be there for the build but a nearly year-long delay in the construction start date resulted in Dye focusing on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island while his son P.B. headed up the Secession project. When the club became unsatisfied with the way the project was progressing, P.B. was let go and European touring pro and golf course architect Bruce Devlin was brought in to finish the job.

You can still easily detect the Pete Dye routing as many holes call for thought and reward players for successfully challenging hazards while also penalizing those who play boldly but fail. At the same time, there are always safe routes for the shorter hitters and less talented players to utilize.

The ninth is a wonderful par-5 that calls for two precise shots to open up the green on the approach. The 18th bears an obvious resemblance to Dye's 18th at TPC Sawgrass and Bulle Rock. (In the accompanying aerial, the ninth green is just to the lower left of the clubhouse. The 18th green and putting green are just below the clubhouse. The 18th is also in the rainbow photo, which I took after a quick rainstorm.)

The seventh, which we played at 382 yards, has the bones of a wonderful Peek-a-Boo Hole. (In the aerial it is on the far left of the photo running bottom to top.) By placing a drive close to the water on the right, the green is visible for the approach. Going left off the tee results in an obstructed view of the green and a much more difficult second.While a good hole, the seventh also illustrates the downside of much of the golf course. Usually, on this hole design, a group of mounds just short and off to one side of the green serves as a visual and playing obstruction for those opting for the safe path. The mounds at Secession are a bit tame for my taste, but still serve the purpose. What takes away from the architecture, however, is a tree placed along the left side of the fairway, just in the rough line. Why it's there, I have no idea. It only affects those playing longer clubs into the green from the left side. Without it, golfers would still have to produce a crack shot that at once clears the hummocks and still stays on the green. No easy task.

Here, like on many other holes, the putting surface is backed with unnecessary mounding that serves no purpose other than to give depth perception from the fairway and, presumably, prevent long shots from going astray. A Punchbowl green would have better served the purpose.

Mounding is a negative at Secession, which is routed amidst tidal marshes. Rather than utilize the long views that nature provided to create infinite backdrops, Devlin chose to prop up the back of many greens and line fairways with incongruous mounding. The result is that players feel more comfortable over their shots since they have depth perception and backstops, the absolute opposite of what Seth Raynor - a major influence on Pete Dye - achieved at the Fishers Island Club. There, Raynor used the views of the ocean to confound players as to the yardage. Shots often appear longer or shorter thanks to the visual deception. Raynor also rarely gave players targets or aiming points preferring for them to acquire the necessary knowledge as they repeatedly played the course. At Secession, Devlin created target bunkers or left clusters of three palmetto trees to serve as aiming points. They very often detract from the overall feel of the course.

As for the club itself, Secession is first rate. There it is all about golf -- no tennis courts or swimming pool. If you are looking for some competition other than golf, I suggest challenging director of golf Mike Harmon to a game of table hockey, just don't plan on winning, or even putting up much of a fight. He annihilated three guys in my group and never came close to breaking a sweat.

Members and their guests can stay in the small modest rooms on the second floor of the clubhouse or in various cottages that are within easy access of the course. Even if you don't stay upstairs, make sure to check out the collection of golf photos that line the stairwells. They were presented to the club by members and are of holes from other courses at which they belong.

The restaurant/lounge area is low key. The food is good and the service is wonderful.

I have no idea if I'll be invited back to the second Recession at Secession, but I'm glad I can say I experienced Secession Golf Club.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sea Island Resort Gets a PGA Tour Event

Here's the official press release.

With the announcement of The McGladrey Classic to the PGA TOUR Fall Series, the 2010 PGA TOUR schedule has been finalized with 46 official money events to be contested.

The 2010 schedule, comprised of 37 Regular Season and four Playoff events (41 total FedExCup tournaments), along with five Fall Series events, is identical to the number of official money events from 2009.

The McGladrey Classic, to be played October 7-10 at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort, is the second of five events in the 2010 PGA TOUR Fall Series.

Today’s schedule release also reflects Farmers Insurance Group as the title sponsor of next week’s San Diego event, the Farmers Insurance Open. The sponsorship was announced Monday for what previously was listed on the schedule as the San Diego Open.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Golf in Scotland Before and After the Open Championship

The Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, more than any other venue that hosts the Open Championship, will draw a large non-UK crowd for the event and that means all those people attending this year's tournament will be looking to golf in Scotland before and after the tournament. Most of them will stay in the St. Andrews area, teeing up at such courses as Crail and Kingsbarnes. For those willing to drive, however, there are legendary links courses all over the country won't be wall-to-wall tourists. Getting there by car is a wonderful way to see Scotland.

In 2000, I worked on the crew for the Open mowing collars and approaches. Then, after playing Kingsbarnes with my friend and sports columnist Randy Smith, we headed North. Teeing it up at Tain, Nairn and the legendary Dornoch. We stayed in the town of Tain using the same B&B as our home base for three nights. After that we headed east to the fantastic Cruden Bay for a round. That's Cruden Bay in the picture. After that, it was back down to Edinburgh for the flight home.

Going North is not the only direction one can head after the Open. West and South work just as well. No matter what direction you head, there is great links golf to be found.

If you want some other recommendations, drop me an email:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Arawana Decision Delayed Again

The Middletown Economic Development Commission delayed it's vote on the my golf course proposal again last night (01-11)in part because of a glitch in the U.S. Postal Service.

Prior to every meeting, members of the commission receive a packet containing an agenda and information pertaining to subjects that will be discussed and on which they possibly might vote. Four of the five members did not receive their packets, which contained detailed information about the proposed lease for the golf course. The only member who did receive his packet has his placed in his box in City Hall and not mailed to him.

From a legal standpoint, the commission was correct in not voting. Had they approved my proposal last night without having reviewed the information, those parties that are also looking to obtain control of the land would have had a strong legal objection to the decision.

The Middletown Eye blog has a small piece on the events.

The next EDC meeting is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 Kodak Challenge

The PGA Tour released its 18 Kodak Challenge holes for the upcoming season. Listed is the hole, par and yardage. One course and hole is yet to be designated.

Jan. 7-10 SBS Championship The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort 18 5 663
Kapalua, Maui, HI
Jan. 20-24 Bob Hope Classic PGA WEST, Arnold Palmer Private Course 17 3 130
La Quinta, CA
Jan. 28-31 San Diego Open Torrey Pines GC, South Course 14 4 435
La Jolla, CA
Feb. 4-7 Northern Trust Open Riviera Country Club 10 4 315
Pacific Palisades, CA
Feb. 11-14 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Pebble Beach GL 18 5 543
Pebble Beach, CA
Feb. 25-28 Waste Management Phoenix Open TPC Scottsdale 16 3 162
Scottsdale, AZ
March 4-7 The Honda Classic PGA National, Champion Course 16 4 434
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
March 11-14 World Golf Championships- TPC Blue Monster at Doral 8 5 560
CA Championship Doral, FL

March 25-28 Arnold Palmer Invitational Bay Hill Club & Lodge 18 4 485
presented by MasterCard Orlando, FL

April 1-4 Shell Houston Open Redstone GC, Tournament Course 18 4 488
Humble, TX
April 15-18 Verizon Heritage Harbour Town GL 18 4 452
Hilton Head Island, SC
April 22-25 Zurich Classic of New Orleans TPC Louisiana 17 3 215
Avondale, LA
April 29-May 2 Quail Hollow Championship Quail Hollow Club 15 5 566
Charlotte, NC
May 13-16 Valero Texas Open TPC San Antonio 17 4 347
San Antonio, TX
May 27-30 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Colonial CC 13 3 171
Ft. Worth, TX
June 3-6 the Memorial Tournament Muirfield Village GC 14 4 363
presented by Morgan Stanley Dublin, OH

June 10-13 St. Jude Classic TPC Southwind 14 3 239
Memphis, TN
June 24-27 Travelers Championship TPC River Highlands 15 4 296
Cromwell, CT
July 1-4 AT&T National Aronimink GC 17 3 212
Newton Square, PA
July 8-11 John Deere Classic TPC Deere Run 17 5 557
Silvis, IL
July 22-25 RBC Canadian Open St. George’s G&CC 14 4 466
Etobicoke, Ontario
Aug. 5-8 Turning Stone Resort Championship Atunyote GC 16 3 177
Verona, NY
Aug. 5-8 World Golf Championships- Firestone CC, South Course 16 5 667
Bridgestone Invitational Akron, OH

Aug. 19-22 Wyndham Championship Sedgefield CC 15 5 547
Greensboro, NC
Aug. 26-29 The Barclays Ridgewood CC 17 5 594
Paramus, NJ
Sept. 30-Oct. 3 Viking Classic Annadale Golf Club 18 5 532
Madison, MS
Oct. 14-17 Open CordeValle 17 4 358
San Martin, CA
Oct. 21-24 Justin Timberlake Shriners TPC Summerlin 16 5 560
Hospital for Children Open Las Vegas, NV

Nov. 11-14 Children's Miracle Network Classic Walt Disney World Resort, Magnolia Course TBD
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Brit Hume Gives Tiger Some Advice

The answer for Tiger is: Christianity, at least, according to Brit Hume

Check out this item from the Huffington Post that includes a video and this quote from the Fox News mouthpiece as he displays, once again, that lack of knowledge doesn't prevent him from offering an opinion.

"He is said to be a Buddhist," Hume said. "I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith."