AUGUSTA, Ga. — Phil Mickelson comes to the Masters every year full of information about the Augusta National Golf Club. By the time he tees off on Thursday, the 41-year-old three-time Masters champion has studied every foot of the par-72, 7,435-yard Alister Mackenzie-designed course. He’s hit every approach from every possible angle into every possible pin location. He’s prepared himself for a fast and firm golf course that will bring out all of Augusta’s delicate nuances.
But then comes Mother Nature to thwart his best-laid plans. Over the past two days, the golf course has received 2½ inches of rain, which has softened the greens and fairways. more rain is expected on Thursday and Friday.
“It seems that some of the planning I have made may go by the wayside,” Mickelson said on Tuesday. “As soft as the golf course is, you can fire at a lot of the pins. The greens are soft. I don’t want to say they are slow, but it’s just not the same Augusta.”
If it’s wet, a long hitter can the throw the ball straight at pins, whereas on a firmer golf course he would have to hit his approach shots closer to the middle of the greens and try to use the slope to feed the ball to the hole. but with longer approach shots into the greens, due to lack of rollout in the fairway because of the softness, players will be hitting longer irons into the greens, which won’t allow them to be as aggressive in some of the pins.
Chez Reavie told me that he had an almost 1 to 2 club difference on almost every hole Wednesday as compared to Tuesday because of the softness of the course.
“When the subtleties don’t come out, the experience of playing here in the past is not as important, because you don’t have to fear the greens and you don’t have to know where the ball will end up and you don’t have to fear certain shots because you can get up and down from the edges,” Mickelson said. “Those shots are not as hard.
“Therefore, I think there’s a very good chance that a young player, inexperienced, fearless player that attacks this golf course can win if you don’t need to show it the proper respect.”
Almost no major championship golf course ever plays to its maximum strength. Course superintendents and competition committees never plan for a course to play soft and wet. last June, the Congressional Country Club was widely derided for not being U.S. Open worthy after Rory McIlroy finished with a 16-under-par total, but rain made that course very susceptible to low scores.
“Being a mid-length hitter, you want to see this course play as fast as possible,” Jim Furyk said on Wednesday. “The softer and wetter it gets the more it favors the long hitters. you have to adjust to any conditions, but if I had my druthers I definitely want the rain to stay away.”
Yet medium to short hitters have won here when the course played softer and longer: Mike Weir (’03), Zach Johnson (’07) and Trevor Immelman (’08).
“I think the short hitter is going to have to max out to compete this year,” Sean O’Hair said. “But a guy like Zach Johnson can make up for it with a great short game.”
On Wednesday, O’Hair played for the second straight day in a practice round with Tiger Woods, who he said is playing well. O’Hair also added that he’s never seen a golf course change so much from day to day.
“In the past, the course seems different from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning,” O’Hair said.
On Wednesday, Fred Ridley, the chairman of the Masters competition committee, said he couldn’t ever remember a time when the tournament resorted to lift-clean-and-place. And that trend is not likely to be bucked this week.
While Mickelson is unhappy with how the rains have dampened the impact of his reconnaissance missions to the course, he along with Tiger and McIlroy are still the favorites. sure it would be nice to have Augusta play fast and firm to bring out all of its devilish ways, but it will still be a tough test of golf. but Phil’s wrong, Augusta will get its “proper respect” because the pressure of winning a green jacket will bring out the best players, no matter how much it rains.
Farrell Evans covers golf for ESPN and can be contacted at .
Sometimes keeping up can bring you down. But that’s not the case in Palm Desert, which is one of several golf-endowed cities in California’s Coachella Valley.
The 18th Green at Firecliff
About 15 years ago, the city of Palm Desert found a way to keep in stride with the Joneses. instead of just being happy with authorizing the building of “another” course to spur golfers to play in their town, city officials went one better – or, in this case, two – with a pair of 18-hole layouts at the municipally owned Desert Willow Golf Resort. Designed by Dr. Michael Hurzdan and Dana Fry, with help from PGA Tour veteran John Cook, Desert Willow’s Firecliff and Mountain View courses opened in 1997 and offer 36 holes of splendid golf. The Desert Willow facility is the result of years of planning by the city, much of which involved adhering to Mother Nature’s handiwork. Local landscape architect Eric Johnson was brought in to spread color around the grounds via the planting of environmentally sensitive, indigenous plants that require little water.
Firecliff course at Desert Willow
The golf courses are maintained like a top-notch private club, and the venue stays busy. But play moves along at a good pace, making an outing here almost fly by. Desert Willow Golf Resort, operated by KemperSports, is as colorful as it is challenging. Firecliff is considered the tougher golf course, due mainly to its forced carries and potentially punitive water hazards. It also has more than 100 bunkers and a gaggle of waste areas than can have a stroke-adding effect during a round. in comparison, Mountain View is more of a resort layout, with wider landing areas and only four forced carries (and those are over water and none involve undue length). But the fun at Mountain View begins when approaching its smallish putting surfaces, which have demanding surrounds that were added during a 2009 renovation.
Desert Willow Golf Resort
Focus Needed at Firecliff Par-72 Firecliff plays 7,056 yards from its back set of five tees (where it carries a rating of 73.6 and 138 Slope). There’s little room for error here as the rolling fairways are merely slender green corridors through the desert, so effectiveness off the tee is key. all the tees at Firecliff have forced carries and there are a few holes, even from the white tees, that demand a 190-yard carry to find the fairway. For good players, that’s not really a big deal, but even those guys will have an occasional loose swing and will pay the price. Firecliff rewards dead-on shot-making, and its mid-sized greens feature enough slope that they’re usually kept at lower Stimpmeter readings to allow multiple pin placements. The putting surfaces are well-protected, with water and heavy bunkering fronting many of them.
Clubhouse at Desert Willow Golf Resort
Sand in various forms enters play on virtually every shot at Firecliff, so be sure the sand wedge is cleaned and ready to go. The routing is enhanced by desert willows, bearded fan palms, acacia trees, oleander bushes and various cacti. There is no easy-in to a round at Firecliff. The 535-yard par-5 opener – with eight bunkers near the landing area, at the second shot lay-up and beside the green – gets many golfers quickly acquainted with the task at hand. Target-golf aficionados will relish the 194-yard third, which plays across a tree-filled desert wash to a right-sloping putting surface ringed by five bunkers. The 446-yard, par-4 fourth runs uphill before turning rightward to a green with mounds front and right. The risk-reward, 331-yard par-4 sixth is the first hole that brings the water into play; three sides of its putting surface are engirded by a pond. Hurzdan/Fry’s craftsmanship is illustrated at the 455-yard par-4 ninth, which sports a lake along the left of the fairway and green, and two bunkers right of the putting surface.
The 6th hole at Firecliff
Firecliff’s back nine begins with three par-4s in excess of 427 yards, including the narrow, 452-yard 11th. The 332-yard 15th is a reachable two-shotter and a mirror image of the sixth except that it has a raised green and is fronted by deep sand on the left rather than water. no. 17 is a 204-yard par-3 with water right and a tee-to-green waste bunker separating the lake from the fairway and putting surface. The closer is not -at 536 yards – super-long, but the par-5 is protected by a creek that squeezes the drive and brings water into play by the green. Firecliff has to be counted as among the Coachella Valley’s most demanding venues, a target-golf test that will take its pound of flesh.
The 9th Green at Firecliff
Smaller Greens Add Teeth to Mountain View The Mountain View course, also a par-72, has five sets of tees, the longest of which plays at 6,913 yards. a 2009 remodel included a complete reconstruction of the greens and bunker complexes, as well as a renovation to the lakes in an effort to regain contours lost to winds and erosion. The course rolls through the desert with larger landing areas than Firecliff, and the bunkers are not as plentiful as at its big brother next door. Few are located directly in front of the greens, which usually have open fronts that are conducive to running chips and pitches. Water hazards enter play on seven holes, some cutting closely in front of the greens. Mountain View is a great golf course for players who like to bomb the ball off the tee and is indeed friendlier than its neighbor, but it should not be taken lightly. From the tips, this is still a tough test, mostly due to its small greens.
The 9th Hole at Desert Willow’s Mountain View Course
The fifth hole, a 227-yard par-3, is a good example of the use of greenside waste areas. Here, the hazard runs down the right side of the hole and turns into a deep bunker before the green. at 476 yards from the back tee, the par-5 sixth may look easy, but it’s far from a slam dunk, especially if the overzealous finds the water guarding the green. It’s a great risk-reward opportunity. On the inward half, the 200-yard, par-3 11th has a way of humbling even the best as the tee shot is a total carry over a pond. The bailout area to the left sports a huge, clover-shaped bunker and is not a good option. The 501-yard 12th is another short par-5, but plays uphill and usually into the wind. Its landing area is pinched by three traps left and a waste area right.
Relax after a Round at Desert Willow’s Clubhouse
No. 15 at Mountain View is a dogleg-left, 386-yard par-4 where the correct play is an aggressive line over the elbow, which holds 10 small but deep bunkers. The approach is tricky because of a well-contoured green. Mountain View’s closing hole is a par-5 that stretches 538 yards, with sand trouble off the tee. Both the second and third shots need to traverse water. It’s a hole where options abound, epitomizing the experience at Desert Willow Golf Resort. Mountain View (with a rating of 73.4 and 130 Slope) has its moniker for a reason – of the two tracks at Desert Willow, it offers the best vistas. Desert Willow’s clubhouse has become one of the Coachella Valley’s top places to unwind and dine, thanks to a recent $6 million renovation. nearly 200 more seats were added to the interior bar and patio, and fire pits and fireplaces were built overlooking the course. For more information, visit desertwillow.com.
Steve Habel is one of Cybergolf’s world correspondents, contributing news stories, features, equipment and book reviews and personality profiles from his base in Central Texas. He is also works as a contributing editor for Horns Illustrated magazine, a publication focusing on University of Texas sports, covers the Longhorns for CBS Sports, is regional editor for Texas Golfer magazine and files stories for Golf Oklahoma magazine, Texas Links magazines and Golfers Guide. Habel’s main blog (shotoverthegreen.blogspot.com) features news on golf and the Longhorns, and another (checkinginandplayingthrough.blogspot.com)chronicles his many travels, on which he has played more than 350 golf courses since 2009. Habel is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Texas Golf Writers Association.
Golf is truly the sport of a lifetime and very gentle on your body. It gives you a visit in often beautiful nature, contacts with other persons and also a great game. Florida, well-known as vacation Mecca, is blessed by Mother Nature with a large coastal line, luxurious interior lands, year-round subtropical temperatures and annual sunshine.
Golfers visiting St. Augustine, in St. Johns County and Ponte Vedra Beach can tee off at the scenic and challenging golf courses of Florida. Playing golf in Florida offers exciting challenges to all golfers.
Playing golf in the beautiful landscape of Florida is a nice way to keep your body in shape and your mind at peace. Golf is a game of discipline, balance, and touch. a walk along the course burns off your calories, fill your lungs with fresh air and ameliorate your cardiovascular system to live life king size.
Carrying clubs provide strength to your hands and back, predominantly the upper part of body. and of course hitting the ball recuperate your hand to eye coordination.
The game can be played with as many friends as you like. you can visit between each hole while you are waiting others to finish their holes and in mean time you can even discuss your matters with friends. or if you get pleasure playing by yourself, you can enjoy open air, at your own pace.
Golf in Florida is well-known because of its world-renowned courses including: the Players Championship, TPC Stadium Course at Sawgrass, the Radisson Ponce de Leon Golf, the Slammer and the Squire championship course and Donald Ross-designed course. some public and semi private clubs are also there, where you can go and enjoy golf.
Some well-known golf courses of Florida:
Ponte Vedra Beach is located along Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the internationally recognized golf courses. with 99 holes to access and an official hotel Marriott at Sawgrass Resort, TPC is the highly esteemed golf courses of USA. Designed by Pete Dye Sawgrass, this stadium course ranks seventh among United States best Resort Courses according to Golf Digest. the seventeenth hole of Sawgrass Stadium also known as Island Hole is recognized worldwide.
If you are at Marriott Sawgrass Resort you can also visit these two nearby private ones.
Ponce de Leon Golf Course:
This historical golf course was opened in 1916 and various golf legends had played here for pretty long time. Ponce de Leon is featured with practice bunker, putting green, pro shop and 9 hole pitch. This is a par-72 18-hole golf course.
The Royal St. Augustine Golf and Country Club:
This club has one of the newest courses in Florida with par 71 and 18-holes. a restaurant, pro shop and driving range are other facilities available in Royal St. Augustine Golf and Country Club. enjoy golf in Florida.
He trails Briny Baird, who is 0-for-347 in his PGA Tour career, by a half-dozen shots and his amateur playing companion Patrick Cantlay by a four-spot. he hit just half his fairways on one of the circuit’s most spacious parking lots and may have had new caddie Joe LaCava wondering if that 62 at the Medalist was a nine-hole card?
In short, it was cold and dreary on Wednesday in San Martin, Calif., at the Frys.com Open, a convenient catch-all for both Tiger Woods and Mother Nature.
Things didn’t start out that way. there was that textbook birdie at the opening hole, the first time Woods has been under par on Tour since his sixth hole at the PGA Championship. Ditto for the workmanlike birdie at the par-515th hole – driver/3-wood/flop to 3 feet.
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Everything else in between was as unsightly as the northern California weather. the only time he made a putt it was for par, or so it seemed, and when there was momentum to be seized the rally-killer horseshoed its way out.
There was the bunker-to-bunker-to-bunker excursion at the second (bogey), the 3-footer for par that caught the lip before spinning back in Woods’ direction (bogey) and a particularly emblematic double bogey in a downpour at the par-5 12th.
Woods, and the record, will tell you it was his 27 putts that ultimately landed him in a tie for 83rd following his opening 73.
“Not happy,” Woods said. “(It was) one of the worst putting rounds I’ve ever had. Don’t think I can putt the ball worse than I did today.”
Given Woods’ run of missteps of late he may not want to tempt the golf gods with such hyperbole. to be fair to the flat stick he did follow his missed 4-footer for birdie at the ninth with a 12-foot par save at the 10th, but there was far too much of the former.
Yet Woods’ first round since the PGA was not exactly a ball-striking exhibition. he hit a 3-wood so heavy he still had 213 yards in on the 454-yard fifth hole, pulled his layup with an iron into a hazard at the 12th and managed to find only half of CordeValles’ sprawling putting surfaces.
For anyone who expected the former world no. 1 to run through the Fall Series event like it was a Class AA rehab start, the reality was stark. Instead Woods is squarely in the middle of the pack – a perfectly pedestrian performance and, regardless of external expectations, perfectly understandable.
On Wednesday your correspondent cringed when Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” crew asked Woods’ swing coach Sean Foley what his expectations were for his star student. Foley, you see, doesn’t dare venture down that dead end.
All the “reps” in south Florida can’t replicate game speed. Sixty-twos at the home club are nice but the mini-tours are filled with players who can’t be beaten at Friendly Confines Country Club.
Woods himself noted on Wednesday that he’d been here before. he has emerged from both injury and swing overhauls, but never at the same time. When he picked up the pieces following extensive knee surgery in 2008 it was with the same Hank Haney-designed swing. in simplest terms it’s like climbing back onto a bike only to find it’s been fitted with a third wheel.
This time around he’s calling audibles on the fly. This week he’s spoken of the “thousands” of swings needed to own a new action, and, to be fair, the odd 73 swats he took on Thursday at CordeValle can count as progress, but only when taken in context.
Woods said his only goal this week was a “W (win),” signature competitive blinders, or blind spot, for a man who keeps time with a keen historical perspective. for the rest of us, however, the perspective is different. from lowered expectations come surprisingly unexpected results.
It’s called under-promising and over-delivering. But that’s probably not in the former alpha male’s DNA, which is why he marched off CordeValle on Thursday and headed for the practice putting green.
“given the right amount of time, which no one wants to hear, we’re going to do just great,” said Foley, who seems to be the calmest head in the Frys.com Open room at the moment.
Woods understands there are no shortcuts to success. it may be time the rest of us, start embracing that simple truth.