Michigan Golf News |
April 13, 2007 - Vol. 7, No. 15
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AMERICA'S VALUE GOLF DESTINATION
THE NATURAL: CELEBRATING 15 YEARS OF GREAT GOLF-PLAN NOW TO JOIN US IN 2007
TREETOPS RESORT- CELEBRATING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JONES MASTERPIECE
THE MICHIGAN GOLFER: MICHIGAN'S INTERNET PORTAL FOR GOLF
Edited by Art McCafferty-Producer/Publisher, GLSP
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__/ APRIL CALENDAR
05-08 The Masters, Augusta National, Augusta
(Augusta, GA) Baseball aficionados talk about teams ³playing small ball.² Itıs the stratagem used by some teams and managersnot laden with power hitters-- to score runs and win games by expertly doing the little things in a ballgame, like hitting singles, stealing bases, bunting and making sacrifices to move runners into scoring position. Well, at this yearıs firm, breezy and chilly Masters Tournament, Iowa native Zach Johnson played the equivalent of small ballı in winning his first major championship.
With only one Tour victory to his credit and not blessed with the length and power associated with the modern game, Johnson relied instead on cagey course management, accurate driving and a deft short game to win the Masters. Averaging a modest 265 yards off the tee, he was still 11-under par on Augusta Nationalıs par fives (leading the field) in spite of not going for any of them in two. Johnson played to his strength with his wedge game and he executed it perfectly.
Afterwards when asked about his final up and down par save chip on the 72ndhole, Johnson said he honed his chipping and short game with extra practice all week. It led him to take only 112 putts (to Tigerıs 117) over the treacherous and often cruel Augusta National greens.
Accurate driving also added to his winning formula as Johnson hit 45 out of 56 fairways (80%) for the week (Tiger hit 31 out of 56). And as Tiger found out when he missed the fairway on the par-five 15thhole in the final round, going for the green in two can boomerang from a dicey lie, as witnessed by his iron shot finding the pond fronting the green.
Johnsonıs unlikely march into Masters lore was aided by a fortuitous pairing in the final round. He was paired with close friend Vaughn Taylor who coincidentally was responsible for Johnsonıs first visit to the Masters several years earlier. An Augusta native, Taylor had some Masters tickets and invited Johnson, then a mini-tour player, to join him at the tournament as a fellow patron. Last Sunday, these Ryder Cup teammates found themselves inside the ropes during the final round. In fact, Taylorcalling to mind Tom Lehmanıs quoting an inspirational Biblical verse to playing partner Steve Jones during the final 18 of the ı96 U.S Open--even offered some words of similar support to his longtime crony during the last few holes. ³Having a buddy next to you certainly doesnıt hurt,² said Johnson in the post-round interview room. ³He (Taylor) said some really nice, kind things and gave me support as well.²
But in the end, itıs the player against the golf course and himself. Johnson was confronted by one of the toughest tests in the game, historic Augusta National and the intense pressure of the Masters. Scoring resembled a U.S. Open most of the week with a northwest wind dropping temperatures and raising blood pressures for the field. Par was a good score. Veteran Tom Watson said after Thursdayıs round that if the northwest wind and dry conditions held on, low scoring would be unlikely. Watson was prescient as Johnsonıs one over par 289 was the highest winning score in 51 years at the Masters.
To his credit, the new Masters Rules and Competition Chairman Fred Ridley did his best to counterbalance the ultra-fast and firm conditions by moving up tees and wetting down some greens. But the cold air, winds, and hard course conditions proved especially demanding this year. So donıt blame Hootie Johnson (past Chairman), Billy Payne (new Chairman) or Ridley for the set-up. Blame Canadait was the source of all that cold, confounding weather. And sometimes it takes someone raised in the Midwest to handle all of these elements.
Following Sundayıs momentous round, Zach Johnson more than once said that winning the Masters was ³surreal,² a bizarre and dreamlike experience. Surrealas in legendary baseball players appearing suddenly from a cornfield in Iowa.
³Is this Heaven?² No, itıs the Masters and Zach Johnson won it by playing ³small ball.²
Masters notebook by Terry Moore
Kudos to Billy Payne for a number of timely, well-received and media-friendly announcements during his inaugural week as Club and Masters Chairman. First, he joined Arnold Palmer in the Press Room to announce Palmer becoming an Honorary Starter for the tournament. Secondly, he announced the inception of the Masters Major Achievement Award, presented by the club in recognition of those media members who covered 40 or more Masters. Thirdly, he announced a return to the former custom of having any regular season PGA Tour winner being automatically invited to the Masters. As one golf writer asked Payne at his Wednesday news conference: ³.Are you trying to get on our good side?² (Laughter.) Ever the diplomat bridging the gap between the Hootie years and his own, he replied with wit and aplomb, ³We have a reduction in media credentials (Laughter.) No, all of the things that we have announced have been in the works before my tenure began. They were things that we needed to get around to.² Also, Payne enhanced the Masters website with an exclusive one-hour of bonus television coverage online. No doubt, Augusta National has found an able, articulate and confident figure in Payne to lead the club and the Masters for many years to come.
In his Tuesday interview, Mickelson revealed an interesting tidbit that many observers hadnıt realized before. When asked about his close on-course partnership with caddie Jim ³Bones² MacKay, Mickelson added that ³Bones² is married to his wife Amyıs best friend. Also, Mickelson maintained a disarming sense of humor that helped to deflect even the stiffest media inquiries and second-guessing. He attributed his humorous bent to his mother and also thanked her for the sacrifices she made to finance his junior golf expenses.
Regarding an official Masters golf ball for the tournament: It appears doubtful now that Masters officials would implement such a policy. Payne said: ³Weıve been encouraged by what appears to be the moderation of increases caused by technologyWe have our fingers crossed but weıre still watching.²
Best Sign: Seen on Washington Rd. as cars headed for the tournament: ³NO TICKETS? RENT A KAYAK!!² Courtesy of American Wilderness Outfitters. No word if any players or patrons were up Raeıs Creek without a paddle.
Best consumer erpatron quote from Chairman Payne: When asked if Masters ticket prices might be raised to match their worth, Payne quickly said, ³Well, we have no thoughts about ever charging what theyıre worth. (Laughter.)
Santee, South Carolina
Santee Cooper CC, offers a great view of Lake Marion from its finishing holes. This is one of the older tracts in Santee, coming on board in 1967 and being designed by George Cobb. As with other courses in Santee, they have also had a green makeover. Santee Cooper CC is part of a gated community, but is one of the three main courses in the Santee rotation.
Other courses that are part of the packages include Clarendon CC, Wyboo GC, a relatively new course designed by Tom Jackson in 2000, Calhoun CC, Hillcrest and Foxboro. In total, they have 14 championship courses as part of their Santee Cooper packages. http://santeecoopergolf.com
Our hosts for the visit, "Shot" Shuler of Lake Marion GC and Bob Peebles of the Howard Johnson Express hotel, also took us out to sample some of the local fare at Captain Kirk's Restaurant. Captain Kirk's Steak and Seafood Grill, which specializes in seafood and prime rib, provided a nice coda to our trip with their great food and service.
In the spirit of full disclosure, Santee is a client of ours and this visit was an invitation to examine first hand their golf product. Santee attends in excess of 10 golf shows a year to target their markes; Michigan, Ohio and Canada. They specialize in providing a quality golf experience that is more affordable than what you would find at Myrtle Beach or Sumter. While there, we talked with many of those playing the courses. In summary, they liked the warm weather that lured them there, the prices and the fact that golf is convenient, with three of the courses located right in town.
Golf Packages http://www.santeetourism.com
First, thanks for coming to the GWAA dinner. I was pleased to see you and Jennie.Second, I'm happy that Michigan Golfer TV was prominent in the video. But Third...longest speaker! Arthur, by the standard of past recipients, mine was but a brief moment in time. I timed myself a couple times at 6:34 and I know I stretched that by a couple minutes but Renton Laidlaw was 21 minutes and Al Barkow kept going and going and going and going and passed Renton and wasn't nearly as entertaining.So I learned a lesson: script it and stick to it.I was greatly relieved that I didn't collapse in tears the way I didwhen I got the GAM award...and then the Hall of Fame...Again, thanks for your support over the years.
Santee Tourism-South Carolina
TOP 100 Courses you can Play (Michigan rankings)
Silver Medalist Resorts
Shanty Creek-Schuss Mountain 5.0
Great Getaways is a terrific read. The reader not only thinks about the courses mentioned in their state, but also the ones they have played in the past or those they hope to play in the future. Also, for those golf course destinations that do not have lodging, the book recommends places to stay.
The book is edited by Tara Gravel and has an introduction by Arnold Palmer. The book can be ordered through Abrams Books at http://abramsbooks.com for $29.95 plus shipping.
John Walter of the Detroit News was the President of GWAA from 1958-59, Jack Berry served in that capacity while at the Detroit from 1984 to 1986 and, as we pointed out, Vartan Kupelian will take over the helm in 2009.
The Masters has a relationship with writers unlike any other golf tournament. This year, they sought to validate that point by honoring 14 writers that have attended 40 or more Masters. Administrative members of the Masters , William Payne, Craig Heatley and Rob Johnson awarded, the Masters Major Achievement Award to Horace Billings, Furman Bisher, John Derr, Dan Foster, Ron Green Sr. Dan Jenkins, Kaye Kessler, Dave Kindred, Hubert Mizell, Dave Moffit, Edwin Pope, Nick Seitz, Art Spander and Al Wester.
Also, the GWAA assembled a booklet of the winning entrees for their annual writing awards, and is was a great, great read. Jason Deegan a contributor to the Michigan Gofler, got an honorable mention for his article for travelgolf.com, "Mountain Life Golf"
The 18-hole Donald Ross Course at French Lick (formerly the Hill Course) officially re-opened in September 2006 after a $4.6 million restoration project at French Lick Resort Casino. Management worked closely with the Donald Ross Society to preserve the historical integrity of the course every step of the way. The restoration returned the course to Donald Rossı early vision. The project included restoring greens and bunkers to their original shapes and creating native grass areas that will emulate the Scottish links-style playing condition. With wider cart paths, a computerized total irrigation system and golf carts equipped with GPS gives players a blend of the traditional playing experience with modern technologies.
The nine-hole, par 36 Tom Bendelow Course, adjacent to the French Lick Springs Hotel, is on schedule for a summer 2007 opening. ³This will truly be an enjoyable course and incredible practice facility for players of all skill levels,² said Dave Harner, director of golf at French Lick Resort Casino. The course measure 3,490 yards from the back tee and will include a 400-yard-long driving range as well as a chipping area, practice bunkers, target greens and huge outing greens.
By spring 2008, golfers can look forward to the opening of the Pete Dye Course at French Lick. The course is moving closer to its final shaping and seeding. Located on the rolling bluffs behind the historic French Lick Springs Hotel, the Pete Dye Course is being carved some 50 feet into the hillsides. Although Dye aims to make this a ³walkable² course, golfers are sure to feel Dyeıs signature sting as they tee off from vista to vista on this championship level, 18-hole masterpiece.
The Michigan Golfer Television Channel http://michigangolfer.tv
Buck's Run with Jerry Matthews
2007 MICHIGAN GOLF CALENDAR
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