All posts in Courses

Golden Bear Aims to Speed up the Game…

This Labor Day weekend, the Golden Bear (Jack Nicklaus) is experimenting with fun and innovative options in golf at one of the world’s most prestigious clubs, Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Specifically, Muirfield Village will be hosting two separate 12-hole tournaments, during which golfers will be encouraged to play one tee up from where they normally play, the hole will be almost doubled in size (8-inch diameter versus the standard 4.25-inches), and participants will be penalized for slow play.

Imagine a Super-Sized hole

“I love the game of golf and believe we have a unique opportunity right now to grow our sport,” Nicklaus said. “But we all have to recognize that the game in our country has been stagnant for a number of years, and actually has lost a significant number of golfers—close to four million in the last five years, according to the National Golf Foundation. The numbers of female and junior golfers—two segments that once represented a large percentage of the new people coming into the game—have dropped 23 and 35 percent, respectively, over the last five years. Many say the game is too hard and others say the game takes too long.

“I think the game is a great game and in no way am I trying to change it. There are few bigger traditionalists than me, but I realize we need to start thinking out of the box. So I ask all the traditionalists to be tolerant while we try something new, something fun to hopefully help us grow the game. It’s too important for us not to try. With so many sports and activities fighting for the time and attention of families, we need to think of ways to make our game more attractive and thus more inviting, especially to children and young adults. Perhaps what Muirfield Village is trying over Labor Day can help open a few eyes and a few minds.”

The makeup of the 12-hole course comprises holes 1, 2, 5 through 13 and 14 on the familiar track.

For his Labor Day experiment, the Sunday round with be a 12-hole better-ball tournament and Monday will feature another 12-hole event, this time it will be stroke play. Both rounds will feature the 8-inch holes instead of the standard 4.25 inch that is the standard. In an effort to keep the pace as fast as possible, all groups must finish in two-and-a-half hours or they will be penalized a stroke for every five minutes over the 2:30.

The entry fee was not disclosed.

Source: Nicklaus Design Golf

Driving the Green Takes on New Meaning…

A high speed chase that reached over 110 mph ended hen a man crashed his car through the security gate at Hazeltine National Golf Club located in Chaska, Minnesota. The speeding Toyota Camry slammed into a curb, went airborne and landed on the golf course green.

The police with the help of a K-9 and a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter, found 22-year-old Eduard Farmanyuk hiding under a tree in a wooded area. He was booked into the Carver County jail for criminal damage to property, speeding, reckless driving, marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

As for the golf course, it is closed until June anyway, so there is no immediate impact on golfers.

Hazeltine played host to the PGA Championship in 2009 (when Tiger lost to Y.E. Yang. It was the first time that Woods had lost a major after holding at least a share of first after 54 holes).

Here’s a video clip from the local news about the chase:

Car Gatecrashes Hazeltine Golf Club, Launches Onto Green in High-Speed Chase:


Ready for Some Fast Golf?

Is a dream round of golf for you one that lasts well under 4 hours? If so, then you might want to check out the Angel Park Golf Club, a busy 36-hole facility in Las Vegas.

According to GolfWeek’s Martin Kaufmann, the Express Lane fast-play program being run on Saturday mornings there requires players to sign a pledge agreeing to play in 3 hours, 45 minutes or less. Angel Park’s staff reserves the right to make groups skip holes or move to the other course if they’re not maintaining the proper pace.

Greg Brockelman, Angel Park’s director of golf noted that golfers are actually averaging less than 3:30, and the record to date is a foursome that finished in 2:48.

Angel Park Golf Club features 36 holes of championship Las Vegas golf designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer, the lighted Cloud Nine Short Course, and the world’s original natural grass Putting Course.

Express Lane tee times rotate between Angel Park’s Palm and Mountain courses. Brockelman has noticed that the groups that book those times tend to play ready golf and putt out quickly. He said Angel Park tries to facilitate fast play during Express Lane hours.

If the price was right, the Express Lane program would be the way to go.


Augusta National for the Rest of Us…

Ready for your Masters moment?

As part of the promotion of its “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters” video game, EA Sports is giving away free digital access to all 18 holes of the course, which hosts the celebrated golf tournament, via a Facebook app. The “Course View” app uses Google Street View functionality to allow a complete, shot-by-shot, hole-by-hole walk of the course — which, for the first time ever, is also playable in the

The branded app, which is embeddable into any blog and links to direct game sales for EA, marks the first time the course has been “tourable” by the American public (except for those lucky enough to be a tournament or Practice Rounds spectator) in any form, virtual or real. According to Mike McGarry, an account director at Heat, the San Francisco agency behind the campaign, the ability to explore Augusta National was the number one requested feature by “Tiger Woods PGA Tour game players.


Dyeabolical No. 18 Truly Diabolical for Johnson…

On Sunday, Dustin Johnson learned how diabolical the No.18 – “Dyeabolical” hole at Whistling Straits can be.


Dustin Johnson hits from patch of sand. (Getty Images)

He ended up being knocked out of the playoff at the PGA Championship on Sunday after he was penalized two strokes for grounding his club in a bunker he didn’t even realize existed.

“It never crossed my mind I was in a sand trap,” Johnson said. “I just thought it was a piece of dirt.”

According to written reports, course designer Pete Dye feels terrible for Dustin Johnson, said it was intended to be a waste bunker.

Whistling Straits was designed to mimic an old-style links course.  There are more than a thousand bunkers.  In fact, one AP story said, “Anytime the grounds crew trims the fescue, another emerges.”

They were warned, said Mark Wilson, co-chairman of the PGA of America rules committee.

“We made it the No. 1 item on our local rules sheet, simply to explain that all the bunkers were designed as sand bunkers and could be played that way.  That meant areas outside the ropes might contain footprints, heel prints, even tire tracks from golf carts or other vehicles.”

Rules Sheet Rules:

So Johnson is paying the price for not reading.  But who had his back?  His caddy missed it too.  And there were reports that a PGA official that was following Johnson’s group on the course didn’t give him a head’s up either.

Johnson ended up carding a 279 (pocketing $270,833).  But the winner, Martin Kaymer took $1,350,000.  For his second place effort, Bubba Watson made $810,000.

That, indeed was a costly penalty for not reading.

If you missed it, you can watch the shot here.


A Look at Whistling Straits

The 2010 PGA Championship is now underway after a fog delay.  To see highlights, go to the special championship website.

It is being played at Whistling Straits, located in Kohler, Wisconsin (two hours north of Chicago, one hour north of Milwaukee and one hour south of Green Bay).  Designed by Pete Dye (and his wife, Alice), Whistling Straits emulates the great old seaside links courses of the British Isles, invoking an image of the game founded more than 400 years ago. The Straits Course is open with rugged and windswept terrain. A more mature course than one would expect, golfers encounter huge sandy areas, deep pot bunkers, grass-topped dunes, big and undulating greens and majestic views of Lake Michigan from each of its 18 holes.   There are nearly 1000 bunkers.  Whistling Straits also features:

  • Two miles of uninterrupted shoreline on Lake Michigan
  • Eight holes hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline
  • Bluffs and massive sand dune areas
  • Natural fescue fairways
  • A flock of Scottish Blackface sheep call the course home
  • Elevation change on the course (Hole 15) is approximately 80 feet
  • The Straits Course is a walking course; walking distance for 18 holes is approximately five miles
  • There are three stone bridges at holes 9, 10 and 18.

To read more, go here.

And if you want a little “on course” experience, check out this video where Golfweek’s  Sean Martin accompanies Ryan Moore as he plays a practice round.


59 on the Mind…

Last week, Jeff Rude of Golfweek did a post about Stuart Appleby’s phenomenal 59.  In his “Hate To Be Rude” column, he wrote:

Considering the abyss he so impressively climbed out of, Appleby’s closing 59 that clinched victory Sunday at the inaugural Greenbrier Classic ranks as one of the more remarkable feats I’ve seen in golf…

…Appleby’s story is one of belief. One can take things for granted as he scales and stands on a mountain. Getting back there is a greater challenge. It requires remembering and forgetting all at the same time.”

The emphasis of Rude’s piece was on mental toughness.  Appleby was asked whether confidence or good shots come first.

“You need to practice with your confidence,” he said. “You need to develop that on the range. You need to have that on the range, and then you carry that to the course and you make it valid from there. You don’t try and find it on the golf course…You’ll never find anything on a golf course.”

Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle did a story on Monday about low scores on the PGA Tour.

“As the game’s top players gather at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin for this week’s PGA Championship, the talk of the summer – aside from Woods’ uncommon struggles – is the flurry of crazy-low rounds.”

And Tiger Woods was quoted saying, “It’s easier to get to now – it’s more attainable. …I think it goes to how much farther the golf ball is going and how much better the equipment and the players have become.”

Kroichick also pointed out the profile of the super low scorer include:

  • Few elite players (beyond Stricker)
  • Few huge power hitters (beyond Holmes and McIlroy)
  • Few players known as big risk takers (e.g., Mickelson)

One thing’s for sure, the “funky, links-style Pete Dye layout” of Whispering Straits won’t be conducive for low scores.  In 2004, when Vijay Singh won there (he defeated Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard in a three-hole aggregate score playoff) he made a birdie on the 10th hole – his only birdie of the day.


Pre-Register Now for the 2012 PGA Championship

This week, the PGA of America announced that in order to maximize each spectator’s experience for 2012 PGA Championship (6-12 August 2012) that is being held at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort near Charleston, S.C., the total number of spectators on the Ocean Course will be limited to approximately 27,000 spectators per day.

By comparison, the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in 2009 had more than 44,000 total spectators on its most crowded day. A drastic reduction of tickets available to the general public will take place in 2012 to ensure the best experience for all in attendance.

So if you are interested in going, the recommendation is to visit to pre-register for a six-week sales window between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31, 2010.

The Ocean Course, which Golf Digest rates as “America’s Toughest Course” and the “No. 4 Public Golf Course” in the country, was designed by Pete Dye.  Whistling Straits, home of this year’s 92nd PGA Championship, was also designed by Dye.

### & AMEX Team Up on Course Finder

Here’s a news story that caught up with me on a non-golf website.  Mike Shields of Mediaweek did a a write-up about a new section added to its website, dubbed Courses, which helps golfers find the best, the closest and most or least expensive golf courses in their area.

There are a several search criteria options, such as: price, location, and whether or not they employ a PGA instructor on staff.   Other features include the ability to scout weather conditions, green fees and find out what others have said about the potential courses you’d like to play.  You can let your Facebook buddies know if you “Like” the course.  Plus, if you log in, you can post your thoughts.

Comment: In general, I think this is a great idea and has tremendous potential for fostering community.  What I don’t understand is why they haven’t set it up to work on the mobile PGA site.  I just checked ( and the course selector isn’t an option.  In know from experience that when I get to a course that is crowded, what I want to do, on-the-spot, is identify other options nearby.  Being able to do that with my DROID would rock.

You will notice that American Express is playing a prominent role, sort of like a title sponsor.  The current “Championship Tees” program offers AMEX cardmembers access to renown championship courses… for a price.

Better have a platinum card for that!


Match Play Returns to the LPGA This Weekend

This week, the LPGA is shaking things up with a match-play event.  Starting on Thursday, a field of 64 of the top women golfers will be competing for $1.5 million in prizes (first place winner will pocket $375,000 of that ).

The Sybase Match Play Championship, which is being held at the Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J. takes an interesting approach to setting up the initial pairings.  To start, there are four brackets which are named for the four LPGA players with the most LPGA career wins – Kathy Whitworth (88), Mickey Wright (82), Annika Sorenstam (72) and Patty Berg (60). The 64 players in the field will be given a number from 1-64 based on their Rolex Rankings. The top-32 players will be automatically seeded into the brackets. Their opponents will be determined through a blind draw.

Here are some of the pairings:

  • Jiyai Shin vs. Ai Miyazato – A battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 with the top world ranking up for grabs. This final would assure Asia goes 7-0 in LPGA events this season.
  • Michelle Wie vs. Morgan Pressel – Two of the best young Americans, former junior rivals, power player vs. precision player, with a big boost to American golf no matter which player wins.
  • Suzann Pettersen vs. Cristie Kerr – Two warriors in golf cleats, the intensity of the heat thrown off in this final could cause the grass beneath their footsteps to turn brown.
  • Se Ri Pak vs. Karrie Webb – Hall of Fame finish with two veterans who still rank among the great ball strikers trumping each other with their shot making.

The complete list of pairings can be found here.

The last time the LPGA sanctioned an official match-play event was three years ago when Seon Hwa Lee defeated Rolex Rankings No. 2 Ai Miyazato at the 2007 HSBC Women’s Match Play Championship held at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y.

As for the course, Hamilton Farm will “flip the 9s” with the course’s front nine holes becoming the back nine holes and the back nine holes will becoming the front nine holes. For the pure golf enthusiast, the Highlands golf course has both a Parkland and Scottish links feel, with rolling terrain and undulating greens. Bent grass is featured on greens, tees and fairways, with bluegrass rough and a fine fescue secondary rough.

The Sybase Match Play Championship will be televised on The Golf Channel.


Source: and The Golf Channel.