The world’s best players might play a game with which we recreational amateurs are unfamiliar, but they often play courses with which we’re quite familiar.
Our annual list of Golfweek’s Best Tour Courses You Can Play reveals that far from being elitist undertakings, the pro circuits – PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Nationwide Tour and LPGA – are surprisingly public and accessible in terms of venues.
Of the 50 layouts highlighted on our list, 26 are regular PGA Tour stops – starting with No. 1 on the roster, Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Indeed, the entire Florida swing of the PGA Tour is played on public-access courses: TPC Sawgrass – Players Stadium Course (No. 8), Innisbrook Golf Club – Copperhead Course (No. 25), Bay Hill Club (No. 30), Doral Golf Resort & Spa – TPC Blue Monster (No. 35) and Walt Disney World Resort – Magnolia (No. 42).
Major sites also fare pretty well in terms of accessibility. British Open courses for 2010 and ’11 are on the list: St. Andrews – Old Course in Scotland (No. 2) and Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England (No. 4). So is last year’s home of the PGA Championship: Whistling ...
1. Pebble Beach
PGA / U.S. Open, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Pebble Beach, Calif.
2. St. Andrews (Old)
PGA / British Open, St. Andrews, Scotland
3. Whistling Straits (Straits)
PGA / PGA Championship, Kohler, Wis.
4. Royal St. George’s
PGA / British Open, Sandwich, England
5. Carnoustie (Championship)
Champions / Senior British; LPGA / Women’s British, Carnoustie, Scotland
6. Spyglass Hill
PGA / AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Pebble Beach, Calif.
7. Cap Cana (Punta Espada)
Champions / Cap Cana Championship, Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
8. TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium)
PGA / Players Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
9. Walton Heath (Old)
Champions / Senior British, Open Tadworth, England
10. Harbour Town
PGA / The Heritage, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
11. Fallen Oak
Champions / Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, Saucier, Miss.
12. Sea Island (Seaside)
PGA / McGladrey Classic, St. Simons Island, Ga.
13. Kapalua (Plantation)
PGA / Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Maui, Hawaii
14. Cog Hill (No. 4, Dubsdread)
PGA / BMW Championship, Lemont, Ill.
15. Mayakoba (El Camaleon)
PGA / Mayakoba Golf Classic, Maya Riviera, Mexico
If there were any question about the quality of the courses golf’s ruling bodies are choosing to host major championships, it would be answered by the 2009-10 Golfweek’s Best Tour Courses You Can Play list.
Major-championship sites occupy the top five spots on the list, and the top three – Pebble Beach, St. Andrews (Old Course) and Whistling Straits (Straits Course) – will host the PGA Tour’s next three majors. This provides even more fodder for those who have said that the Tour has never played its four majors on a stronger collectionof courses.
The list suggests that the PGA Tour and its partners, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the PGA of America, are doing a bang-up job in choosing venues. PGA Tour sites occupy 34 spots on the list, including the top seven. Nine Champions Tour sites made the list, followed by five for the LPGA and four for the Nationwide Tour. (Rio Secco Golf Club, which hosts the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge, counted toward the totals for the PGA, Champions and LPGA tours.) Six international courses made the list.
Among courses hosting regular tour events, the highest-ranked ...
Medinah Country Club had hosted five major championships before last week’s PGA Championship – the 1939 Western Open, the 1949, 1975 and 1990 U.S. Opens, and the 1999 PGA. But starting with the 1990 U.S. Open, Medinah has had a setup problem that has called into question the integrity of the course for majors.
In 1990, the course was in prime condition, hard and fast, but P.J. Boatwright, the director of rules and competition for the U.S. Golf Association, decided to change the setup after players complained about the course’s difficulty. On the eve of the championship, Boatwright ordered the rough cut, green collars trimmed and greens slowed. The result was a fair test until rain came Wednesday night. The course became very receptive and a disappointed membership fumed, refusing to invite the USGA back and instead turning to the PGA of America.
In 1999, the Medinah membership hoped to show a truer No. 3 Course and did everything possible to make it as penal as possible. Instead, warm temperatures two weeks before the PGA brought tropical conditions to the poa annua greens that in the end could not handle the heat. The ...
By Bradley S. Klein
For those who think narrow, tree-lined fairways are the paradigm of good course design, Medinah Country Club’s No. 3 course is an icon. For others who are keen on strategic variety and a nuanced aesthetic of vistas and playing textures, there is no more boring example of architecture in America than this long parkland layout in suburban Chicago.
For the PGA Championship, Aug. 17-20, Medinah certainly will be in better shape than it was during the 1999 PGA, when searing heat and humidity baked the greens to a crisp. Superintendent Tom Lively, CGCS, who came on board in 2001, has overseen a drastic clearing out of hundreds of trees that shaded greens. Working with architect Rees Jones, Medinah also has rebuilt (and partially repositioned) bunkers, seven greens and regrassed all putting surfaces with A1/A4 bentgrass. The club also has added some new back tees, bringing the total to 7,561 yards for this par 72.
Jones’ most significant and successful renovation has been to move the par-3 17th hole from up the hill back down to the water’s edge. He also tightened the bunker pattern of fairway and greenside hazards. On ...
The perilous par-3 island 17th at TPC Sawgrass, listed somewhat skimpily at 137 yards and playing as short as 123 yards in the third round, took its usual toll at The Players.
It may look like a poodle, but it bites like a pit bull.
Forty-nine players dumped a total of 51 balls into the water from either the tee or the drop area over four rounds. Joey Sindelar and Steve Lowery hit two balls apiece into the drink in Round 3. The second-round total was listed at 16, though Daniel Chopra actually chipped a ball into the water from the fringe. On Sunday, “only” nine players found the water.
Bob Tway had problems at 17 yet again. Last year he made a 12 there, and he found water in making double bogey in each of his first two rounds last week. He shot
74-79 and missed the cut. Arron Oberholser, left, leading the tournament at one point, went 6-6 on the final two holes Saturday. The 17th also has buffaloed Phil Mickelson. Five of Lefty’s last six tee shots have ended with a splash.
Tom Lehman, who has competed at The Players each year since 1992, has never ...
Great golf course architecture owes an unacknowledged debt to match play.
Yet those players today who expect courses to be “fair” are, by contrast, rooted in a stroke-play mentality that makes distinctive architecture virtually impossible to achieve.
Between 1916 and 1933, three of the five most important championships in golf – the PGA Championship, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur – had a match-play format. (The U.S. Open and British Open were stroke play.) Match play dominated amateur golf, and amateur golf dominated the country and the world.
This also was the era in which the greatest visionaries in golf architecture history – H.S. Colt, William S. Flynn, Alistair MacKenzie, Charles Blair Macdonald, Seth Raynor, George C. Thomas Jr., A.W. Tillinghast and Donald Ross – were at the peak of their creative powers. No wonder that era of design is called the Golden Age of Golf Course Architecture. And match play was crucial to that creativity.
That’s because these pioneer course designers didn’t worry about a feature being “fair.” The word is nowhere to be found in the lexicon of the day. What concerned them was building interesting elements that would provide intrigue, define success or failure, and most ...