Monday, February 28, 2011

Bubba Watson Blames Loss on "They," Meaning "the Superintendent"

I've never been a fan of Bubba Watson, and now I feel even less kindly disposed towards him after his comments following his defeat in the semifinal round of the Accenture Match Play Championship.

He may profess to be a God guy, which always leads to glowing accolades from the usual fawning announcers (Jim Nantz, Kelly Tilghman), but I'm not buying it. It makes for good P.R., though.

Viewers caught a piece of his it-wasn't-my-fault attitude on Saturday.

Immediately after losing 1-up to Martin Kaymer, Bubba laid the reason for his defeat partly on the shoulders of unnamed others.

"They slowed the greens down a bit," Watson said, "and I couldn't get the speed right."

Man up, Bubba. Who is "they?" The superintendent? The PGA Tour? God and his choir of angels? Tell us.

Let's suppose the greens were slowed down, here's a question: why didn't you adapt to the "slower" speeds? Martin Kaymer certainly did. Luke Donald, the eventual winner, had no problem.

By the way, whatever happened to all the "it's in God's hands" lines we heard from you when you won? Was the defeat not in God's hands?

Also on Sunday, there was a brief replay of the caustic and surly attitude I witnessed at last year's Travelers Championship.

An older gentleman carrying a red sweater apparently encroached on Bubba's space while he was preparing to hit a shot from deep in the desert, even though there were PGA officials with each group keeping the fans back.

Either Bubba or his caddy barked at the man to move back and to "just go away," telling him he had been too close all day.

"Excuse me, sir, could you move please?" would have been just as effective.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sometimes the Golf Gods Smile on You

My pal Lloyd Cole is Down Under touring with his band the Small Ensemble, this after playing to packed houses and garnering wonderful reviews during a couple of European Tours.

Lloyd, with a handicap in the single digits, loves the game of golf and course architecture and is known for doing what he can to make sure he tees it up while on the road. In the world rankings of musician golfers that Golf Digest magazine compiles, he is consistently in the top 15.

So it was no surprise to learn that Lloyd found his way to Barnbougle Dunes while in Australia. The course, in 2009 ranked the 43rd best in the world by Golf Magazine, is co-designed by Tom Doak and Australian architect Mike Clayton, a friend of Lloyd. Lloyd is also a big fan of Doak's work.

What is surprising is that Lloyd aced the par-3 16th. On Facebook, he posted this photo of him retrieving his golf ball from the cup. No details, however, on what he hit for a club.

Congratulations to him and I hope he has more aces up his sleeve. He will be giving me more strokes the next time we play.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

If I Could Only Escape this Connecticut Winter

With the weather people predicting rain tomorrow followed by freezing temperatures on Saturday - oh good, more ice - I'm dreaming of getting away to play some golf in a far off, warm place.

I think golf in Naples, Italy would be nice this time of year. For instance, here's the San Domenic Golf at Borgo Ignazia resort. The 18-hole layout was created by European Golf Design. I think that would do the trick for me, as long as I had a nice authentic Italian meal after the round.

Then again, I don't wan to appear greedy. I would be more than happy to search out the best golf offers I could find. I can't think of anyplace I would not go, as long as the golf was good and the weather was warm.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Incorrect Prognostication that Tiger Woods is Back

Call me a cynic, but whenever I hear most American golf announcers or tour golfers touting Tiger Woods, I assume they're overstating or misstating the truth, especially if they share a membership to Isleworth Country Club with Woods. It is apparent that Woods' game is nowhere near it what was when he was at his best, no matter what anybody says or so badly wants to believe.

That latest to prove my theory was John Cook, who plays on the Champions Tour, has done time with a microphone in his hand and has a membership at Isleworth.

Here's, in part, what he said, as quoted in the Orlando Sentinel

“Monday, it clicked,” Cook relayed after a practice round at this week’s Naples stop. “It was fun just to stop and watch and see the excitement he had on his face and the flight of the golf ball as he was explaining to me what was going on.

“He said it’s way better and way different. This only happened on Monday, and Tuesday he was feeling it even more. We had a great chat about it.”

The swing was doing everything but clicking Wednesday in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship as Woods fell to Thomas Bjorn, pictured above, on the 19th hole. After making a great birdie on 18 to extend the match, Woods missed the ample fairway on the 19th hole with a 3-wood and carded a six.

"It's easy to put the ball in the fairway and I couldn't even do that," Woods said, so visibly upset that he was stumbling over his words, according to the Associated Press story.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Confusion Over the Proposed Site for the Quinnetucket Golf Course

I appeared before Middletown's Urban Forestry Commission meeting last night to give input concerning the resigning of a lease by Millane's Nursery, which farms 40 acres within the 95 acres that I'm looking to take control of for the proposed Quinnetucket Golf Course. Millane's would pay about $120 an acre. The proposed golf course lease calls for $20,000 a year beginning in year six.

Go here to see the Middletown Press coverage of the story.

Millane's lease expired at the end of January and the company is looking to sign another 5-year deal, which could seriously delay the Quinnetucket project. The first step towards a new lease was for Millane's to appear before the Urban Forestry Commission, which serves in an advisory capacity to the Economic Development Commission.

After learning that the Millane's lease negotiations had started at the January UFC meeting without input from me, I attended last night's meeting. I was surprised to find that commission did not know my project was still viable. The commission was surprised to discover that the golf course project is very much alive.

A tentative compromise appears to be that Millane's would sign a two-year lease with a one-year exit clause. The EDC still must vote on the lease.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Duran Goes Overboard With Its Course Architect Description

Since the earliest days of golf course design, architects have been touting every piece of land as having been deemed by God as a perfect location for golf, and every club has touted its architect as a genius. Duran Golf Club in Viera, Fla. has gone well beyond the usual excesses in describing course architect Chip Powell.

According to their
site, Powell did much more than just move earth in creating Duran.

"His keen eye for manipulating an area's natural weather patterns and wind tendencies make him a highly-sought, Florida course architect," reads the description.

One would think that if Powell is capable of altering the weather, his talent could be better used outside the world of architecture.

It seems pretty obvious from reading the rest of the site that it was not Powell, himself who wrote up his biography or the hole-by-hole descriptions of the course.

"No. 17 (pictured here), a long par-3 (235 yards from the Onyx and 163 from the Ruby) is nicknamed 'Biarritz.' A biarritz is a French name for a green that has a deep dip in the middle, usually running from side to side. This long narrow green does indeed have a gully that will funnel balls to the center, which can be a good thing if the pin is in the right position."

In fact, there is no meaning for the word "Biarritz" in French. As the story goes, the Biarritz hole design, first used by Charles Blair Macdonald, was based on a hole found on a course that was located in Biarritz, France.

A friend of mine recently played Duran and found the course enjoyable. He was impressed with Powell's version of that Biarritz; it has a closely-mowed chipping area to the right of the green in place of the customary bunkering.

The website also has an overall description of the golf course that is a head-scratcher:

"More than a million cubic yards of earth were moved and shaped to create a course with links characteristics, including rolling terrain and mounded greens. Some 15 ponds and lakes were created that add beauty and drama to almost every hole on the course."

Because nothing says links golf like 15 ponds and lakes and mounded greens?

On another note, I wonder if a second course is built if they'll call it Duran Duran?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bill Murray and D.A. Points on Winning

A wonderful piece in the New York Times about how much D.A. Points delighted in playing with Bill Murray during the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the joy Murray felt when the final putt dropped. Points won the tournament and the pair captured the pro-am crown.

"When the putt went in at the 18th, he (Murray) began laughing hysterically, unable to stop.

"'It's like when I see real art, I laugh,' Murray said. 'When I saw like a Rembrandt, I laugh, because it's so, it's just this combination of this beautiful thing. It's alive, yet it's not.'"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mutt and Jeff and Golf Course Architecture

In this comic strip, from 1927 and comic book from 1947, cartoonist Bud Fisher has Mutt and Jeff taking on the world of golf course architecture. While I could find no information on whether Fisher was a golfer, it is apparent that he was well aware of the attitude towards golf course design from the average amateur player.

Fisher was an owner of thoroughbred race horses, according to Wikipedia. "In 1924, his horse Nellie Morse became the fourth filly (out of only five total as of 2009) to win the Preakness Stakes. That same year, his colt Mr. Mutt finished second in the Belmont Stakes.

Muff and Jeff, created by Fisher in 1907, is considered the first succesful daily comic strip. It remained in syndication until 1982, 28 years after Fisher died.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Goodwin Park (Hartford, Conn.) Is a Robert Ross Design

According to the "Architects of Golf," it was Everett Pyle that renovated the Goodwin Park Golf Course in the south end of Hartford, Conn. into its current incarnation.

It makes sense that a superintendent of parks, who built Triggs Memorial Golf Course in Providence, R.I. for Donald Ross, would be given such a job, but he was not.

While researching Connecticut architect Robert J. Ross (no relation to Donald Ross), I discovered that it was R.J. Ross who created the Goodwin that exists to day and which opened for play, on June 5, 1937.

W.J. Lee in the June 6, 1937 Hartford Courant wrote:

"With more than 80 players from all over the district participating in official foursomes, the new 18 hole municipal course at Goodwin Park was formally opened yesterday.

"Designed by R.J. Ross, assistant city engineer who has made golf course architecture an avocation and built by WPA labor under the supervision of the Parks Department, the new course had its baptism under a fire of shots that produced scores all the way from 68 to the 'high hundreds.'

"With Everett Pyle in personal charge of the course construction, the new layout has been fashioned from the old second nine and park property heretofore never used for golf. While on the short side, the course is interesting and varied with many holes that make up in tightness what they lack in yardage."

Lee added, that Alderman Saul Seldman, representing Mayor Spellacy, "drove off the first ball, a straight-flying shot that split the fairway."

Eddie Burke, a pro from Naugatuck, shot a 32-36-68 to beat his nearest foe by three. R.J.'s brother, Frank Ross, came home in 75. Frank, who played out of Wampanoag Country Club in West Hartford, captured the Connecticut and New England amateurs during his brilliant career.

Charlotte Rhodes, described as "outstanding woman player at Goodwin Park," was low female with a "creditable 91."

R.J. Ross, an MIT graduate originally from Massachusetts, designed six golf courses in and around Hartford including Middletown Golf Club in Cromwell,that later became Edgewood Golf Club and is now the site of TPC River Highlands, host of the PGA Tour's Travelers Championship. He also created a second nine holes at Keney Park in the north end of Hartford as an addition to the existing Devereux Emmet nine. I know of one original Ross drawing and that is of the former 9-hole Canton Public Golf Course.

My research into Ross continues and I'll hope to have more on him in the coming weeks.

(Photo copyright The Hartford Courant)