VERO BEACH, Fla. – By the time Sam Saunders putted out on his 37th hole Monday evening – a swift 6-footer for par – the shadows were so long that the gallery assembled on a hill near the 18th green had to be careful not to move so as not to interfere with the fierce playoff taking place below. History was on the line.
Saunders, the 23-year-old grandson of Arnold Palmer, was on the verge of qualifying for his first U.S. Open. After a grueling day of golf in blazing Florida heat at Quail Valley Golf Club in Vero Beach, Saunders ended regulation tied at 3-under 141 with Andres Echavarria, who just finished his senior year at Florida, and Michael Barbosa, a former Georgia Tech standout.
The three were shuttled back to the 18th tee, a 450-yard par 4 with water running down the left side, and Saunders, under a dramatic stillness, managed an up-and-down par from the back of the green to safely qualify. Barbosa, with bogey, joined him as Joey Lamielle was already safe in the clubhouse after finishing at 4-under 140.
Though hardly a seasoned veteran in this game, Saunders has had his share of experience in both Tour ...
Souris Valley Golf Course, a popular muni in Minot, N.D., has more water holes than ever. The Souris River that bisects the course has spilled its banks and flooded most of the 18 holes. The course, part of the Minot Park District, might not fully open this season, golf professional Steve Kottsick said.
If so, it likely won’t be alone.
Across the Upper Midwest, where melting snowpacks and record spring rains have forced the evacuation of entire towns, golf courses stand in danger of an abbreviated season – perhaps a total wash-out. The Missouri River Basin imperils courses from eastern Montana across the Dakotas and into western Iowa.
Bully Pulpit Golf Course in Medora, N.D., has closed because of the rising Little Missouri River that ambles through the front nine. In Bismarck, the raging Missouri River has closed Riverwood Golf Course for the year.
Downriver in Pierre, S.D., city muni Hillsview Golf Course is “two-thirds covered with water,” course manager Todd Surdez said. Ironically, the course has no usable irrigation, because the pump house is submerged. Workers haul water by truck to hose elevated greens in an effort to keep them alive. With the Army Corps of ...
Paul Schock is one of the most accomplished amateur golfers in South Dakota history. But when it comes to The Prairie Club, the ambitious golf resort project that he developed in the Sandhills of north-central Nebraska, Schock acknowledges that he needed a mulligan.
The Valentine, Neb., resort, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary, has some stunning assets, including two distinctive 18-hole courses, a short course, and an elegant lodge near the rim of the Snake River Canyon. Schock and his staff, however, quickly learned last year how difficult it is to run a high-end resort, particularly in a remote location.
“We really stumbled at times with our operations,” Schock said. “One of the strengths of The Prairie Club is that it’s a long way away. But trying to run a five-star resort in such a remote area is really hard. Hiring the right people has been really hard.”
Schock and some of his senior staff tried last year to manage the property from their offices in Sioux Falls, S.D., a four-hour drive from Valentine. That experience convinced him that he needed stronger onsite management. John Harbison, who had been the general manager of two Florida clubs over the ...
Buoyed by Rio de Janeiro’s hosting of the 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil is beginning to realize what many industry observers anticipated would be the dawning of a course-development era.
The Summer Games, which will feature golf competition for the first time since 1904, is expected to spark interest in the sport not only in Brazil, but throughout the region. Hoping to capitalize on that Olympic legacy are new golf facilities such as the Rio de Janeiro International Golf Resort.
Led by the UK’s International Golf & Resort Management Ltd. and Rio-based development company JCN, the development has been approved to start construction just outside Petropolis, Brazil. The $300 million project is planned to feature at least 850 hotel rooms and two 18-hole courses. The first of the layouts will be designed by Nick Faldo in association with Steve Smyers Golf Course Architects.
The developers are touting the project as a pioneering effort in South America, in part, because it also will feature a golf academy designed to teach future golfers of various economic backgrounds. The resort also is hoping to become a tourism magnet, especially with its location approximately 30 miles from Rio de Janeiro’s International Airport.
Want to play 18 holes in well under four hours? You need to get in the Express Lane.
That’s the name of a fast-play program being run on Saturday mornings at Angel Park Golf Club, a busy 36-hole facility in Las Vegas. Express Lane players 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.
So far that hasn’t been a problem, according to Greg Brockelman, Angel Park’s director of golf. Angel Park, which is managed by OB Sports, started the program in mid-February, and Brockelman said golfers have maintained the 3:45 pace. They’re actually averaging less than 3:30, and the record to date is a foursome that finished in 2:48. The program, he added, “has policed itself.”
“We’re not reprogramming these golfers,” Brockelman said. “They’re generally fast golfers who are gravitating to those tee times because they want to play with other fast golfers.”
When golfers call to schedule Express Lane tee times, they are told that they have to play ...
Boyne Resorts, the large golf-and-ski operator in northern Michigan, has added a ninth course to its golf portfolio.
Boyne will manage Hidden River Golf & Casting Club in Brutus, Mich., about 10 miles east of Boyne Highlands, where four of the company’s 18-hole layouts are located.
Hidden River was designed by Michigan native W. Bruce Matthews III, and opened in 1998. It was acquired in 2007 by Tom and Lisa Foster, who live in Spring Lake, Mich., about a four-hour drive south of the course. The Fosters continue to own the property, but have turned over management of the course and restaurant to Boyne.
Hidden River opened for the 2011 season on April 15, earlier than any other course operated by Boyne. The course, which is included in Boyne’s golf packages, also typically stays open later in the fall season than Boyne’s other courses.
“Hidden River complements the BOYNE golf experience by providing our guests with another premier course to play plus creates greater tee time availability and further increases the value of our golf packages and memberships,” Bernie Friedrich, Boyne Resorts’ vice president of golf, marketing and retail operations, said in a statement.
Bust out the plus-fours, tam-o’-shanters and Calamity Jane knockoffs. The fourth annual U.S. Hickory Open championship is approaching.
French Lick (Ind.) Resort will host the national championship of the persimmon-and-featherie crowd July 11-13 on its Donald Ross Course. The course, which opened in 1917 and hosted the 1924 PGA Championship won by Walter Hagen, has the sort of history that is well suited for hickory players’ biggest tournament. The layout is just a few years removed from a $4.6 million renovation, part of a $500 million renovation of the 3,000-acre resort.
The U.S. Hickory Open will consist of a practice round July 11, followed by a 36-hole tournament over the next two days. There will be three divisions for competitors: Championship, which will be played from the 6,274-yard white tees; Senior (60-plus), which will be played from the 5,810-yard gold tees; and Ladies, who will play from the 5,008-yard red tees. The overall champion must play from the white tees.
French Lick Resort, located about 100 miles south of Indianapolis, completed a $500 million renovation in 2009. It has 689 rooms in its two hotels – the French Lick Springs Hotel and West ...
The owners of the Resorts of Tullymore & St. Ives want to make you a deal on a new home. Sound familiar? There’s a twist. The Stanwood, Mich., resort will buy your current home if you buy a home at Tullymore.
Tullymore (www.tullymoregolf.com) adopted the unusual trade-in program this month in an effort to sell about a dozen spec homes, most of which are finished construction. Terry Schieber, CEO of the resort, said a homeowner suggested the trade-in idea, which had been tried about a decade ago on a Detroit construction project.
“We’re trying to jumpstart our economy here at Tullymore,” Schieber said. “We have a strategic plan to do this because of our competitive advantage of not having any debt.”
The program allows for the possibility that a homebuyer could receive more for his existing home than he pays for a new home at Tullymore. For example, the buyer might pay $500,000 for a home at Tullymore, but receive $600,000 for his existing home if that is the property’s value.
He emphasized, however, that this is “not a bailout program” for homeowners whose existing mortgages are underwater.
“We don’t have to make ...
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It was 18 years ago when Robb McCreary first saw plans for a large resort on Indian Bend Road, just outside of the 101 Loop. Those plans called for an 800-room hotel, casino, horse track and arena.
Flash forward to the present day and McCreary, who spent 27 years working for Hyatt and Hilton, now is the director of that resort, which is owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
The plans for Talking Stick Resort changed over time, but the idea for a self-contained, amenity-rich resort ultimately was realized. The 15-story, 497-room hotel towers over 36-hole Talking Stick Golf Club. The casino that used to be housed in tents along Indian Bend Road has been moved into the hotel’s lobby casino.
Just inside the 101 Loop, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, an 11,000-seat baseball stadium with 12 practice fields, opened in late February to serve as the spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
The hotel opened last July – not exactly the height of Scottsdale’s tourism season – and gradually has been ramping up business.
“We are not hitting the levels of the established properties as far as occupancy, but we ...
These days, if you’re looking for the best deal in this golf hotbed, you have a lot of options from which to choose given the recessionary effect on home prices, club memberships and green fees.
One of the most intriguing, however, can be found at Golf Club Scottsdale, where the nonrefundable price to get in the door recently dropped to $25,000 ($50,000 refundable). That’s down from $110,000 when the club opened in 2007.
The rate cut has had the desired effect. McIntee said the club added 12 memberships the first month it was in effect, and he said last month was the best February sales period to date.
Golf Club Scottsdale, a highly regarded Jay Morrish design, sits on 290 of the most pristine acres in North Scottsdale, with no homes in sight and some dramatic swings in elevation that afford players striking views of the McDowell Mountains and Four Peaks. It aims to be a club for serious players – somewhat akin to that found at nearby Whisper Rock – with what McIntee describes as a “cowboy casual” culture.
The club initially was a hit, signing up 67 members in its first year of operations. In ...
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – It’s the first week on the Florida Swing, which means visiting one of the best courses on the PGA Tour: PGA National.
Since the Honda Classic was moved to the Champions Course five years ago, the beauty of the venue has been the hard and fast conditions of the Jack Nicklaus-designed course. Early this week, hard and fast has been replaced by soft conditions, which has changed the characteristics of the course.
“The golf course is soft, without any question,” Paul Goydos said after his practice round on Tuesday. “What matters is how the course is Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully it will be a little firmer Thursday. We were actually getting mud on our balls on the front side.”
With the warm conditions in South Florida, it was clear that the superintendent needed to put ample amounts of water on the course to allow for the winter overseed to take. While the course will look very green, it also is wetter than usual. With a storm coming Tuesday afternoon, the course will have additional water added to the mix.
One of the by-products of the warm conditions has been intense rough that is ...
It looks like carefully calibrated mutual interest might just bring together two powerful golf forces in New Jersey.
It’s no secret that Donald Trump wants his Trump National Club in Bedminster, N.J. to hold a U.S. Open. Now it turns out that the U.S. Golf Association is considering looking for a backup site for a U.S. Open should some calamity arise that knocks it out of commission.
According to a memo circulated through USGA Golf House in early December, the USGA is exploring whether it needs to have a contingency plan in case some unforeseen development – be it a massive storm, terrorist attack or a major agronomic problem – renders the primary host course inoperable for the week. With the U.S. Open a major profit center for the USGA as well as its most prestigious tournament, “to not have a backup plan is irresponsible,” said one official. “We owe it to the USGA and to the game.”
Since the advent of the U.S. Open in 1895, the national championship was canceled only during times of world war (1917-18 and 1942-45). Nevertheless, USGA officials are starting to explore the logistics of such a contingency plan ...
Much of Jim Engh’s formative time as a course architect was spent in Ireland, which probably would come as a surprise to many people familiar with some of his more mind-bending designs. He fell hard for the untamed Irish style, and says he has tried to bring that same no-holds-barred spirit to his own work.
With the opening of Awarii Dunes Golf Club tentatively scheduled for Memorial Day weekend in Axtell, Neb., golfers will get a chance to see Engh’s riff on the great Irish courses.
“Awarii Dunes is my version of what links golf is, although it’s not on the ocean,” he said. “My vision of it is more of the wild, crazy, there-are-no-rules Irish (courses) that’s a little different than Scottish stuff.”
Engh recently showed me pictures of Awarii Dunes and talked about some of its characteristics of his first course in Nebraska's Sand Hills region. He said those include some huge greens – he estimated one double green is 35,000 square feet – and fairways as wide as 90 yards. On tees, fairways and greens, he used T-1 bentgrass, which he expects to play hard and fast. There will be no intermediate rough ...
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Golfers won’t be able to play Pinehurst No. 2 until March 4, but they can keep tabs on the year-long restoration through a new website: www.pinehurstnumber2.com.
The site has photo galleries of some of the work that has been done by architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. There also is a video gallery in which the architects discuss some of the changes they’re making to specific holes.
Coore and Crenshaw have widened fairways and stripped away 35 acres of turf, which has been replaced with natural sand, pine straw and native grasses. All rough has been removed from the course.
“With all the excitement about the restoration of No. 2, we wanted to give golfers a place where they could see and hear about all the work that’s been done, as well as get a taste of what they’ll encounter the next time they play No. 2,” said Tom Pashley, Pinehurst’s executive vice president of marketing.
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LOS CABOS, Mexico – The PGA Tour and One & Only Palmilla in March will launch Tour Academy Palmilla, the first international PGA Tour Academy.
The academy will offer golf schools ranging from a ...
Even by the standards of golf’s go-go era of course development – which ended only a few years ago, yet seems as distant as the Roaring ’20s – the 2006 opening of $50 million Temenos Golf Club on Anguilla was big news.
In golf circles, accustomed to new-course announcements from less exotic outposts such as Myrtle Beach, S.C., or Scottsdale, Ariz., the news raised two questions: 1. Where is Anguilla? (Answer: It’s one of the northernmost Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, about 180 miles east of Puerto Rico.) And 2. Does that part of the Caribbean have gold-flaked Bermudagrass? (No, standard 419 Bermuda is grown there.)
Given the price tag and the economic tsunami that was about to sweep across the globe, what happened next was all too inevitable. By 2008, Temenos, a Greg Norman design, was closed, a victim of the recession and cost overruns in constructing seaside villas and a resort associated with the project. Cap Juluca, the luxurious beach hideaway that has anchored the southwest corner of the island for 23 years, stepped in to nurse Temenos back to health. The course, the only one on the 35-square-mile island, reopened for play in December 2009 ...
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