Friday, April 30, 2010

Destination: Hilton Head

Golf destinations all wish they could have an iconic symbol, there are a few that stand out as the one for Hilton Head golf. The famed red-and-white-striped lighthouse that stands over the 18th green of the Pete Dye-designed Harbour Town Golf Links that is part of the Sea Pines Resort. Sea Pines also has the Heron Point layout, a Pete Dye redesign that opened in 2007. Besides those, there are over 25 other designs on Hilton Head itself and over 30 more in the general area with famed architects such as Jack Nicklaus, Rees Jones, Arthur Hills contributing layouts. Add to the that the natural beauty of the area, the wonderful cuisine and, of course, the ideal climate and there are few places in the world so well suited for a golf vacation. With so many great places to play, getting Hilton Head tee times is never a problem.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Some Quick Numbers from the Travelers Championship

Between 1955 and 1976, Billy Casper competed 13 times in what was either the Insurance City Open or the Greater Hartford Open, and is now called the Travelers Championship. He is the only player to win the event three times. He never missed a cut and was victorious in 1963 ($6,400), 1965 ($20,000) and 1973 ($40,000). Casper's career earnings for the tournament is $100,205.84.

At the 2009 event, held at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. -- where Tom DeGrandi does a fantastic job as superintendent -- Bubba Watson, D.J. Trahan and Boo Weekley tied for 14th and made more money from the tournament than Casper did, each earning $105,000. Kenny Perry took home $1,080,000 for first.

(The photo is of the green on the fantastic drivable par-4 15th hole designed by architect Bobby Weed.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bill Reynolds on Tiger Woods

Providence Journal columnist, Bill Reynolds, wrote one the most insightful and spot-on columns about the entire Tiger Woods fiasco.

Here's a blurb.

"No one ever speaks of Tiger as a transformational figure anymore, even with all his trophies and all his endorsements and all his money. He is a superstar athlete, a world-class celebrity, with all the cachet that comes with that. But that’s all he is, all he’s been for a long time. The sense that he is anything more than that long ago got lost in the gated community and the yacht and the handlers and the insularity of his life. Got lost in all the things he was once was supposed to be the antidote to."

Click here to read the entire column

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Few Minutes With Kenny Perry

The Travelers Championship media day was Tuesday (4-20-2010) and defending champion Kenny Perry was there. He has a long history with the tournament going back over 20 years. His first time in Connecticut as a rookie on tour, he stayed at the home of a family in Wethersfield and has stayed with them every year since. Perry is a wonderfully honest athlete, so rare these days. His humility - unlike that of Tiger Woods - is genuine. Here are a few comments he made during his 20 or so minutes before the microphone with ESPN's Chris Berman acting as the host.

Perry, 49, explained that one reason for the resurgence of his play in his 40s -- he's won 11 times -- is that his children were grown and some out of the house so he could concentrate on his game. He said that in the 1980s and 1990s he found it hard to be away from his family. Often times, he recounted, the kids would talk to him on the phone and beg him to come home.

"That really tore at me," he said.

This year, though, he's started off playing well below the level to which we have become accustomed and he says it's, in part, because golf is once again not as important.

"I've kind of pushed me golf game aside and it's showed," he said.

Perry's been spending more time with his wife.

"We actually fell in love again," he said punctuating the remark with a large smile.

There is also another reason for his poor play -- a putter disaster.

During the SBS Championship in January, he was practicing with his Ping Craz-E putter when it broke.

"Five minutes before my tee time at Kapalua, I just hit a 30-foot putt, and I looked down and the head had spun 360 degrees on the shaft," he said, explaining it had worn away over the many years.

"And my first thought when that happened, I thought, 'This is going to be a tough year.'"

He's had it re-shafted twice but it's still not right. He ranks 112th in putts per round with 29.41.

On an entirely different topic, Perry is all for making it mandatory that every member of the PGA Tour is required to play every event on tour over a set span of years, somewhere between three and five.

"I wish the Tour would take a harder stance on that and make the guys play all the events," he said pointing out that it would surely increase attendance at some of the smaller tournaments. "And it would grow the game."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fallout from the Palmer incident

Interesting reaction from various segments of the golf industry that have been heard on Palmer's reaction to my blog item.

Most interesting, to me, is the architects who contacted me and commended me for my stance while lambastig the Palmer people for their reaction.

It's heartening to know there are designers out there who understand that fair criticism of their work is warranted and essential to the promotion of sound architecture.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Arnold Palmer Offended by My Blog Item - Cancels Interview

Tuesday (04-13-2010) I received a call from my editor at a magazine that my scheduled interview with Arnold Palmer for the next day had been canceled. I was flying to Orlando from Hartford on my own dime to meet Palmer in person.

The reasoning of his people was simple, they had read my blog post criticizing the way the television announcers handled the renovation of the golf course at Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Club and Lodge, site of the PGA Tour’s Bay Hill Invitational. You can read the item below titled, “Embarrassing Coverage of Bay Hill Renovation.”

In brief, what I wrote is that between the 2009 and the 2010 tournaments, the course underwent a massive renovation. Since this was Arnold Palmer Design redoing work done by Arnold Palmer Design some 20 years ago, I thought announcers needed to push Palmer, who regularly appeared in the booth throughout the tournament, on why such drastic measures needed to be taken. They didn’t and I called them on it. I didn’t even offer an opinion on the renovation, just how it was covered by the TV talkers.

Making this overreaction by Palmer and his people all the more ludicrous, is that the company’s chief designer, Erik Larsen, is also the president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and most likely the person in charge of the Bay Hill renovations since Palmer has little to do with the actual design work. Apparently, the message Larsen is sending to his ASGCA brethren is that when faced with criticism of your work, censor the writer.

I received no communication from the Palmer people. The call was made to the publication where the story would have appeared and the editor lambasted for my blog entry, over which he has no control or say. I’m not a staff writer but a contributor.

The message, though, has been heard loud and clear: Don't criticize the King.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Great Golf in Spain

The European PGA Tour is truly a world-wide affair with tournaments in over 20 countries on four continents. So it says something about golf in Spain when the Tour deems five layouts worthy of hosting an event.

The next time that occurs is April 29-May 2 for the Open de Espana at the Real Club de Golf, in Seville, a Jose Maria Olazabal design that has already welcomed the WGC-World Cup in 2004, the 2008 Spanish Open and the 2009 Andalucia Open.

The club is near the GuadaĆ­ra River and the Parque Natural de Oromana nature park and a short distance from Seville’s city center. There is also an abundance of other golf courses nearby. The Andalucia region of Spain has more than 50 layouts including the famed Valderrama Golf Club

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Trees Belong Far Away from Golf Holes

I give you Exhibit A. Phil Mickelson, second hole, 2010 Masters.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Big Step for the Arawana Golf Course

On Monday (April 5, 2010) the Middletown Common Council, voted 9-3 authorizing the Mayor to sign a lease giving me control of the roughly 95 acres on which the Arawana Golf Course will be situated.

We still have a few small questions on some legalize and once that is straightened out, the lease will be signed. When that happens, I'll need an angel investor to come on board with about $250,000 to get the permitting process underway.

Here is the Middletown Press story on the vote. Make sure to read all the wonderful comments below the article from various anonymous readers.