GARDEN CITY, NY – We interrupt the week’s work from Casa de Campo to bring you a
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(Is that how to do it ESPN?)
“The Big Mu,” “Moose,” or just plain Pat Mucci, won medalist honors at the Garden City Golf Club members qualifying tournament with a 2-over 75, leading the Green Coated members into their 103rd Travis Invitational beginning today.
“I’m surprised it held up,” said Mucci, who credited recent sessions with Hank Haney as triggering a resurgence in his game.
“Hank is nothing short of fantastic. He also had me remember what Ben Hogan said about how to manage your round: 1) no penalty shots; 2) if you miss the green in regulation, make sure you get on the green with your next shot; and 3) no three putts. And that was the story of my round – I didn’t have any penalties, when I missed the green, I got back on, and I didn’t have any three putts.”
On the front nine of the par-73 golf course, Mucci balanced three birdies against three bogeys. “I birdied 1, 5, and 9,” Mucci explained, taking advantage of the shorter par-4s on the outward nine. He made a “sloppy” bogey at the par-5 fourth, as well as bogeys at the difficult sixth and eighth holes. He bogeyed two holes coming home, including the difficult 15th, one of the great par-4s in golf.
Met Golf Association star and Huntington Country Club member Joe Saladino opens his title defense of the Travis this morning. The top 16 medalists today will square off in single-elimination match play for the weekend.
LA ROMANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – “Senor Flemma! Senor Flemma!” beamed an eager, effervescent young Jet Blue employee named Yorkis, “Choo are een furs class! Ho Boy!”
“I’ve been riding first class all week,” I replied, smiling a fine, wide, satisfied smile right back at him.
“Ho! Berry goo for choo! Hee hee hee hee hee!” he chucked amusingly. “Choo like our cone-tree?”
Yes, Yorkis, as a matter of fact I like your country quite a bit. The Dominican Republic, and in particular Casa de Campo: the crown jewel of the Caribbean and Latin American travel industry diadem treated me like royalty. So much so that the free upgrade to first class for my flight home seemed almost obligatory. I’ll have to miss my scheduled flight more often. That’s two free upgrades in my last three assignments to the Caribbean.
So as I sit in seat 3A of Flight 111 to JFK, Laura the stewardess pouring me a frosty mojito, ice beading on the glass, plump, tart limes and fragrant mint complimenting the smooth headiness of the Brugal Blanco, and the sun setting into the Caribbean in a blaze of glory, I bask in the warm glow of the vacation of a lifetime. Countless travel magazines have called Casa de Campo the greatest resort on the planet. Now after being assigned to separate truth from hyperbole, I can tell you that they may actually understate the case.
This wasn’t just a golf writing assignment though; this was an experiment in human anatomy and psychology. After 18 months of juggling a high-octane law practice in NYC, (read: dealing with greasy-haired, nerve-rattling fellow lawyers gnawing at the ends of their failed lives), and keeping up with the hectic schedule of a sports writer/editor for several national publications, I desperately needed to relax and re-center things.
But two cracked and two bruised ribs sustained in a fall getting off a train only two weeks before leaving for the trip and suddenly I was a human guinea pig. How the heck was I going to survive the rigors of this assignment, let alone enjoy it? The sheer size and scope of this gig were staggering: ninety holes of golf at resort the size of a small city with every imaginable diversion one could desire. I could barely walk, let alone swing a club.
Happily, a rib injury leaves you ambulatory, so although I was hobbled I went ahead and went down to Casa de Campo anyway. I had medicine, I had physical therapy and, after all, I needed to convalesce. I could think of no place better than a pristine, island paradise, could you?
Well Casa de Campo was the panacea…the elixir…the restorative I’d hoped it would be. 90 holes of the greatest golf in the World, all designed by Pete Dye – the foremost golf architect of this age – sapphire waters lapping at pristine coral-ringed beaches, fine food, all the typical resort activities one expects, (swimming, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, Latin American and Caribbean dancing, river kayaking, pottery lessons, deep sea fishing, and spa treatments, for example), and some unique to the resort, (like equestrian jumping, polo, trap and skeet shooting, Cigar factory tours, yachting at the marina, exploring the village of Altos de Chavon, zip-lining, cave and archaeological site tours, and dune buggie racing): Casa was touted as the most complete resort in the World and one of the largest; it surpassed even the lofty expectations I had coming in. And best of all, not only my mind, but my body felt light-years better when I left.
It did exactly what a great vacation spot is supposed to do.
The Dominican Republic comprises roughly the eastern two-thirds of a Caribbean island called Hispaniola, the other third, (the west), being the nation of Haiti. Part of a larger archipelago called the Greater Antilles, the island lies due west of Puerto Rico and east of Cuba. Venezuela is due south. The Dominican part of the island lies between latitudes 17° and 20°N, and longitudes 68° and 72°W, well within the Tropics.
The Dominican Republic boasts the second largest economy in the Caribbean and Central America, and the ninth largest in all of Latin America, impressive for so small a country, although by area and population, the Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation, (after Cuba). While sugar formed the backbone of the region’s economic rise, tourism has been its central nervous system, with Casa de Campo by far and away its greatest draw.
The country can be divided into two main topographical regions: the highlands, (featuring four parallel mountain ranges), and the lowlands which consist of long parallel valleys laying northwesterly direction. The nation’s capital, Santo Domingo is located on the southern coast, as is the town of La Romana and the 7,000 acre Casa de Campo resort, seventy-five minutes east. This island paradise is surprisingly mountainous, with peaks reaching past 10,000 feet. Its tropical maritime climate, with trade winds moderating the heat, stays remarkably constant between 73 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. (According to the Teeth of the Dog Android or iPod app, which you should all download immediately, it’s always 88 degrees and sunny…). In 2007 the country’s population was estimated by the United Nations at 9,760,000. The chief exports include sugar, phosphates, cocoa, coffee, ferro-nickel, tobacco, silver, mangoes, left-handed relief pitchers and rum, (especially Brugal and Atlantico, the two finest and most sought after brands).
Ah, rum! Welcome to the Caribbean. What was it Robert Louis Stevenson said about rum? “It is a vile drink that turns even the finest gentlemen into complete scoundrels?” But what does it turn the complete scoundrels into? Lawyers? Investment bankers? Sports league commissioners?
Anyway, baseball is by far the most popular sport, and the country boasts a league of six strongly competitive teams. The wet or rainy season is from May to November in the south, and from December to April in the north. Hurricanes can occur between June and November.
THE COUNTRY HOUSE
Casa de Campo, (Spanish for the “country house”), was built by sugar. Gulf & Western produces more than 300,000 tons of raw sugar annually, and it’s said that one out of every three teaspoons of sugar consumed in the U.S. comes from their Dominican holdings. Before you dismiss that figure as some left-handed, power-worshipping P.R. hyperbole, consider that it’s actually quite common in the Latin world for regional “jefes“, (as they are called), to often control large power blocks in commodities. It happens all the time with airports and fuel licenses.
In the Latin world sweetness is power, and with a solid dominance in sugar market as the basis for the company’s empire Charles Bluhdorn, Gulf & Western’s founder and CEO, developed 7,000 acres (28 km2) of its Central Romana sugar mill land into a private retreat. After Bluhdorn’s death, the Cuban-American Fanjul family (the world’s top sugar barons), bought Casa and opened it to paying guests.
Since then it’s grown into arguably the world’s most prestigious destination, a city unto itself, with over 1,700 private villas, (which range in price from US$500,000 to US$24,000,000, making it also one of the countries’ most affluent communities, comparable to the Hamptons), a modern, 400-berth marina, complete with a shipyard with a 120-ton TraveLift designed by Italian architect, Gian Franco Fini to resemble Portofino. Surrounding this harbor are over 70 restaurants, shops, bars, and homes, and yes, five – soon to be six – Pete Dye golf courses. Hollywood even uses the Chavon River site as the backdrop for the river scenes of movies such as “Apocalypse Now” and “Rambo 3.” It’s truly spectacular.
Guests can stay in any number of options for accommodations, from comfortable golf course-side rooms to villas to entire houses with thousands of square feet. Every amenity is available including laundry service. Indeed, one lynchpin of the resort’s great reputation (among many) is the impeccable service. From the moment you step on property, they are there to help you in any way you want; the word “unaccommodating” is not in their vocabulary! It’s a refreshing change from the U.S., where service has taken a nosedive in the last decade. Some places, Turning Stone Casino for example, think you should feel privileged to be on their property. They care more about siphoning your money from you at the tables rather than making sure your stay is comfortable. At Casa the mantra is simply, “whatever you need.” They look forward to making your day better in any way.
The food is solid: options are varied, the menus modernized so as to offer a mix of Dominican flavors presented in dishes well accessible to the modern palate, and there is a heavy Italian influence due to the large number of Italian ex-pats who live on the island.
Now truly traditional Dominican cuisine is predominantly Spanish, Taíno, (an Indian tribe from the Bahamas), and African. It usually favors starches and meats over vegetables and dairy products; there is a lot of rice, beans, and yuca, along with stews of various meats.
For a Latin country, Dominican food is surprisingly bland. They grow no peppers, (they’re just not indigenous to the country), and Dominicans rarely season their food to any where near the spicy extent that Americans, Italians, or Mexicans do. Presumably, the large number of Italian expats has at least introduced crushed red pepper to the natives, (who call it “pepperoncini,” not to be confused with what we call pepperoncini, those little spicy, light green Italian peppers in vinegar). Of course there is Tabasco and, if your lucky, the occasional chipotle here or there, but to order your food spicy, you have to hammer the point home, so they can turn over the kitchen to find what they can. (Also, don’t go expecting chorizo, you won’t find it easily, although there are several types of regional sausage, again more mild than spicy. There is a local white pork sausage – what we might call a “white hot” here in the States – which is similar to Midwestern brats).
Casa de Campo, however, has partnered with some of the best and most famous restaurants in the world to offer a wide array of culinary choices. They blend Dominican ingredients and specialties with other world cuisines to make dishes both authentic, yet Westernized. The main restaurant, La Cana, is located in the lobby of the main building. It’s by Il Circo and specializes in both steaks and varied seafood dishes. The ceviche is downright refreshing on a hot day and serves both as a terrific appetizer or a light and healthy lunch. For dinner, I thoroughly enjoyed my Dominican seafood creole, an authentic island delicacy, and a particular specialty of La Cana. Unlike our creoles in America, this was tomato-based and featured shrimp, scallops, and several other kinds of fish. Raul Cendoya, one of the resort’s assistant pros, made a wonderful choice in selecting a tuna steak topped with calamari and crab.
The culinary highlight of the entire trip was the Friday evening BBQ at La Romana Country Club. An enormous buffet of carved meats, BBQ beef and pork, fish stews, pastas, and a whole galaxy of vegetables, fruits and starches is served al fresco overlooking the club’s swimming pool and 18th hole. It’s a sparkling scene. Besides the myriad desserts, I recommend you finish your meal with cappuccino made with the strong, yet well-rounded Dominican coffee and a deep snifter of Atlantico, the house rum, which is well aged and incredibly smooth. It is, perhaps, the world’s most elegant and refined-tasting rum. After one sip of Atlantico, Bacardi will forever taste to you like rancid Listerine.
La Romana is a private country club, but its members play the other courses as well and roam around the site enough so that you’ll have a good chance of making friends with someone and getting the lucky invite for Friday night. They’re rightfully proud of their club, and as such, they also love to show off their rare and wonderful 27-hole golf course: the “Old Course” and the “New nine.” After all, how often do you get the chance to play Pete Dye golf course outside the United States?
As an aside, that’s yet another of Casa’s great benefits – you go on vacation and you come back with a dozen new friends.
“You’ve always got friends at Casa,” beamed one bubbly hotel employee, and she’s right.
Moving on, despite its name the resort’s Italian option, La Piazzetta, does not offer pizza, but does have everything else you’d want in a ristorante. There are myriad pasta, meat and chicken dishes. Seafood also is again a star of the menu as well. My dining partner enjoyed a gigantic mixed seafood grill, while I had an excellent mushroom risotto. The octopus appetizer was both tender and savory. You could cut the pieces with a fork and the charcoal-grilled aroma made you think you were on the Amalfi coast for a moment.
While La Piazzetta’s inner décor is a charming tavern atmosphere where an accordion and guitar duo stroll around making pop songs sound mournful and romantic, (Richard Galliano and Bereli Lagrene have nothing on those two guys!), the restaurant is located in Altos de Chavon, an entire village designed to look like an old stone Spanish-style mission. On the outside it looks like an old stone meson.
“It’s hard to believe all these buildings are only 30 years old. It looks several hundred years old,” said one visibly impressed resort guest, and she’s correct. One should spend a half-day sightseeing the village and all it’s quaint shops, archaeological treasures, and scenic spots.
The Beach Club is perhaps the most impressive dining option. A large, open-air space just steps from the lapping waves of the Caribbean, you can watch the sun dive into the sea in a blaze of glory, setting the sky on fire with a full palette of reds, golds, and purples as you eat your supper.
The Beach Club is by world famous Le Cirque, so you can expect, (and will get), an outstanding culinary experience with one exception, the pizza.
“You ordered a pizza at a Le Cirque restaurant??!!” howled a horrified friend of mine when I was back in Manhattan. Her reaction was so scandalized you’d have thought I’d asked an Orlando, Florida Perkins waitress on a date to the Masters champions dinner. Yes, I did, and I’ll tell you why: chorizo!
The first thing I did when I arrived Thursday was have lunch at La Cana. I’d been up since 2 a.m. and I wasn’t about to go face Teeth of the Dog on an empty stomach, so when I picked up a menu and saw “Chorizo pizza” on the menu, I snapped it shut with a satisfied smile. I love chorizo, and I’m 100% Italian, so I had that pizza halfway down my gullet before the waiter arrived to take my order.
The only problem was I grabbed the wrong menu. The stack of menus was there to acquaint everyone with all the resort options, and I had picked up the Beach Club menu by mistake, not the La Cana menu.
Oh well, ceviche sounds great too. I’ll have chorizo later.
But trying to find a chorizo proved to be harder than trying to find a virgin in a maternity ward! There was no chorizo at La Cana, the resort’s Lago Grill (the breakfast and lunch restaurant near the first tee of Teeth), and obviously not at La Piazzetta. So I was going to have that chorizo pizza at the Beach Club for an appetizer come hell, high water, or the head waiter’s reservations about my selection.
Remember how I said they filmed “Apocalypse Now” here? Well Charlie don’t surf, and the Beach Club don’t do pizza. I like my pizza thin and crispy, (I like my women the same way), but the crust here didn’t rise well, had a flat, almost undercooked consistency and no flavor. The cheese was bland and unsatisfying, (though the chorizo was savory), and there was little in the way of tomato sauce to tie the flavors together. Hello??!! Wood-fired grill?? After all, you can’t spit without finding one of those in New York…
The meal revived nicely however with the arrival of our main dishes. The remarkable comeback began with an excellent seafood linguine with a light white wine and garlic sauce and tender shrimp, scallops, and fish, and the meal hit its apex with the arrival Dye Fore Head Professional Dave Pfisterer’s selection of a superb mixed seafood grill in which a gargantuan lobster tail was the centerpiece. Other diners had enormous steaks, lamb chops, and chicken dishes.
Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style at the resort’s Lago Grill overlooking the 18th hole of Teeth of the Dog. Take your typical Sunday brunch buffet spread and the double it. The juice bar had all the usual offerings plus guava, mango, papaya, peach, and passion fruit juice. (After a tall, refreshing glass of mango juice, you’ll never settle for orange again, and peach is damn good too.) Yes there are serving trays of bacon and sausages, but there are also mashed plantains, (a particularly tasty Dominican delicacy), native sausages, an omelette station with a grillion add-ins for your eggs, and a cornucopia of rare tropical fruits, breads, and coffees. For lunch, they’ll grill skirt steaks, churrasco, native sausages, (other than chorizo), chops, and other cuts of beef and pork. I didn’t miss my chorizo at all with a juicy skirt steak steaming on my plate. But I’ll bet that by the time I come back, they’ll have chorizo. Casa’s that kind of place.
That’s what really sets the resort apart from all others: the sincere value of a place like Casa that goes the extra mile for their guests, a place and people who really care that every second of the experience is first class all the way versus insincere value of a stuffy American resort or worse still a tourist trap. The world is full of seaside resorts, but perhaps the biggest reason people from across the globe come to Casa de Campo over and over again is because at Casa they understand that people still value service, and that makes all the difference.
But Casa de Campo is so much more than just a resort. With its enormous size, (it’s a city unto itself), broad array of activities, and inimitable Dominican culture and cuisine, it’s a lifestyle and a magnificent one at that. It’s a whole Fellini-esque la dolce vita a la Portofino, Lake Como, or the south of France in the early 1970s. (Think Nellcott in the spring, not the fall.) It’s how the other half really lives. It’s fun and vibrant, but it’s never campy, cheesy, or over the top with partying. Instead, it’s classy, refined, and dignified. Some places try to fake that ambiance, but come off hackneyed or cheap at best, snooty or disingenuous at worst. But there is nothing manufactured about the ambiance of Casa de Campo – there is no hustle, shuck, chintz, or cheap glare – it’s sincere and it’s rejuvenating… and every other resort should just sigh and resign themselves to second-place status. Getting outshined by Casa de Campo is and will for the foreseeable future be an occupational hazard of being their competition.
Or at Tom Doak put it in his quintessential book on golf courses, “If you’re headed for the Caribbean, there really isn’t any reason to go anywhere else.”
DYE-SSECTING PETE AND HIS COURSES
Cabana 367 – 5:30 a.m., Friday – The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street blares from the stereo. I needed rebellious music to match my excited mood. I still marvel at my incredible good fortune at being able to hobble around Teeth of the Dog with a swing made from Popsicle sticks, duct tape, and Elmer’s glue.
All right, actually it was a great caddie named Rafi, physical therapy exercises, warm sunshine, maximum-strength Tylenol, and Brugal Extra Viejo. Who cares? It worked. The ribs really only bothered me when I lay down, so sleeping was rugged. Hence my being awake at 5:30, but it gave me the chance to watch the sunrise over Teeth of the Dog.
Right on cue, Mick Jagger sings, “The sunshine bores the daylights out of meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…” Mick, you party animal, you are horribly, horribly wrong. Casa’s got some sunshine you’ll like just fine.
Anyway, Exile on Main Street was the result of the Rolling Stones having to fight back against the World, (in particular the Wilson administration’s ludicrous 93% tax bracket), so it was fitting I looked to rock and roll most sincere iconoclasts to motivate me for beating back my rib injury. Isn’t it strange that it was eight British guys who gave black Gospel music back to America? And did they ever do it right. That’s what happens when you have that “us against the world mentality” going for you.
I guess it’s the same as Pete Dye giving golf to the Caribbean. You’d never have expected it, but Dye took the opportunity in what was virgin territory for golf design and now Casa de Campo must be spoken of in the conversation of the world’s greatest golf resorts. It’s Bandon Dunes, but with much better weather, accommodations, and things to do. Only Bandon, St. Andrews, and Pebble have as string a line-up through the entire list of courses. And it’s got more seaside and cliff-top holes than Pebble Beach, but it’s a much better value and far better weather year-round. There’s no June Gloom in the Dominican – palm trees dip and sea gulls swerve, and trade winds blow gentle breezes while sapphire-blue Caribbean waves lap serenely on pristine white sandy beaches. It’s idyllic.
But to do it, Pete Dye had to build his career going against the World, or at least the biggest name in the World: the Jones juggernaut, which was in full ascension at the time.
“I saw what Robert Trent Jones was doing and I knew that to carve out a niche, I’d have to go in completely the opposite direction.”
It worked, he carved out a niche all right…in as big a way as Trent. He took on the biggest name in golf and grew just as renowned by designing courses diametrically opposed to Jones’s bread and butter ideas on golf design. Where Trent built oversized greens, Dye deliberately designed smaller greens, a perfect natural defense to scoring. You don’t need 7,700 yards when a guy is scared with a wedge in his hands because if he misses the green he’s wet or twenty feet below the pin, or in a zany pot bunker, or deep inside some enormous greenside swale.
“I hate it. He took Augusta’s greens and miniaturized them,” howled an apoplectic Tom Watson after he saw Dye’s work at Sawgrass.
“Thanks, Tom,” replied Dye. “I’ve always thought Augusta’s greens were too big.
Where Trent built runway tees and ramrod straight holes that only allowed a center-line attack, Dye made his holes swerve around the hazards, creating what experts cal the Line of Charm. What that means is that the direct line to the hole is totally fraught with peril. You can try some heroic carry over water, an ocean of bunkers, scrub and brush or anything else he can think of, or you can shape your golf shot with the turns and twists of the fairway, which frequently go one way off the tee, and the other way into the green to keep the golfer off balance. Or you can strategically tack your way around the hole safely, but the choice of how to play the hole is yours, not the architect’s. The Line of Charm has been used to great effect by architects from Alister Mackenzie and Max Behr in the Golden Age to modern guys like Tom Doak and Mike Strantz – and it’s Dye’s bread and butter defense at the Casa courses.
And where Trent had a nasty habit of elevating tees, elevating greens and insisting on framing his golf holes so you are spoon-fed exactly what to do, (the tired, passé “Doctrine of Framing”), Dye embraced the great strategic Doctrine of Deception, where the player has plenty of angles of attack to the hole and can choose his line, but then must execute or else.
Over the years, Dye has become the most influential and prolific designer of our generation. “He changed the face of golf and golf design,” reads his plaque at the World Golf Hall of Fame and it’s true. His style is inimitable, his mark indelible, his contributions to and advances of the craft undeniable.
Dye’s favorite architect is Seth Raynor and perhaps no facility of his looks more like Raynor than his work at Casa. Now Dye doesn’t merely copy template holes, instead he follows instead the general themes, principles, and defenses of Raynor, (and therefore Macdonald and Banbs as well). First and foremost the direct line to hole will be fraught with peril, if it is playable at all. (At Casa, it’s usually not; a lake, an enormous bunker, the Caribbean Sea, a steep grassy drop off into perdition, the Chavon River, or any other hazard will intervene, so you have to play around it.
Now come all the angles: usually one edge of the fairway will drop into the hazard, so you must stay well clear of the razor’s edge. If you don’t hit the golf ball to the correct side of the playing corridor, you are so far below the level of the fairway or green, you may even have a blind shot in. It’s exactly the kind of defense Raynor and Macdonald used at National Golf Links of America. The fairways are enormous, but if you’re on the wrong side, you either have a blind shot in you’re your view will be pbscured and you’ll have a terrible angle. There’s plenty of room, but proper positioning is critical.
Now the safe side of the fairway will also be divided into 1) a truly safe side, (but your angle into the green will be worse for the better golfer. The green will be wider for the amateur player, but it will test the distance control of the better player), and 2) a more risky the side that challenges the hazard, but offers a better angle to the pin, (usually right down the axis of the green). This is his is the first and most important defense Dye employed at Casa de Campo, whether it’s holes like 13 and 18 at Dye Fore, (i.e. four and nine of the Chavon nine), the opening two holes at La Romana Country Club, or even seaside holes like 15 or 17 at Teeth. You know how people say some courses are a “second shot golf course?” That’s not the case at any of the Casa courses. For an expert golfer to score well, he can’t spray the ball off the tee. He can recover, but he won’t be able to post a number.
Amateurs, however, welcome the width because they’re never out of the hole. The playing corridors at all the courses at Casa are actually really wide, at times enormous, so amateurs can whack the ball around and recover as long as they stay away from the more penal hazards like the river, the sea, or the jungle. As long as they their way around they can post a score they can be proud of…more so because they did it at Casa! You always remember your great rounds at special places. Therefore, off the tee, amateur golfers should follow the “Rule of Thirds” on a Pete Dye golf course: Take the safe half of the fairway and play to the safe third of that half. Execute that game plan, and you’ll find these reputedly “unconquerable” golf courses quite playable, and will find that Dye’s visual tricks are far less menacing than they appear.
“It’s when you try to bully a Pete Dye golf course that you find it bullies you,” as Raul Cendoya succinctly put it. Don’t play like a gorilla trying to shake the last mango out of the tree. Take the low-hanging fruit and move on. Survive and advance as basketball player say.
“It’s all about off the tee,” adds Director of Instruction Eric Lillbridge. “Take, for example, the Marina nine. The shape and angle of the greens dictate what section of the fairway you need to come in from. From the correct angle, greens are narrow, though long, but if you’re out of position, forget about it. That’s when it gets very demanding.”
That being said, you can take driver out on every hole except the par-3s.
Additionally, nowhere in the world does Pete Dye’s work look more like Seth Raynor than at Casa de Campo and in particular at Dye Fore which also features large geometric shaped bunkers. There are several outstanding Cape holes, (several at Teeth, 12 at the Links, etc.), Knoll holes, (14 at La Romana, three and eight at the Lakes nine/Dye Five), Alps features, and even a maiden feature/”Pillars of Hercules” at the closing hole of the Chavon nine that is straight out of Turnberry, Carnoustie, or any of the several places the Raynor bloodline used it.
There are some other general themes which Dye uses State-side as well as here:
—Rather than ring the greens with rough, Dye gives you lots of grass bunkers and hillocks. Happily, the shaping here is less modern and pronounced than at some of his later work, so it’s smoother and more natural looking. But most important is the way plays: most of the time, you can putt, chip, pitch, lob or bump and run. There are myriad greenside options. Expert golfers will need the lob wedge to be sharp if they want to shoot a number, but amateurs can play to their strengths.
—The greens also have both macro and micro-movement, so they defend par brilliantly. Some even have two tiers or false fronts or sides.
—Outstanding fairway undulations. From the mildly uneven lies of Teeth and the Links, to the more pronounced up-and-down of the broad hills of La Romana to the heaving, mountainous seas of grass of Dye Fore, the terrain is outstanding for golf.
—Temptation and strategic choices. “Pete lets you hit driver all day, but you have to plan the shot correctly. He’ll tempt you into a bad choice and that’s when he zaps you!”
—A broad array of bunkering styles. Most architects select one style of bunkering or at least a theme and stick to it to give the course a consistent flavor. But Pete Dye uses several different styles of bunkering not from course-to-course or hole-to-hole but bunker-to-bunker! Pot bunkers, strip bunkers, geometric bunkers, waste bunkers: Pete’s “style” is inimitable for its unpredictability, you cant pigeon hole him and, therefore, his holes look unique to him. No one else other than Doak and to a lesser extent Gil Hanse does that as well right now.
“It makes every hole have its own unique form and different way of being played,” explained La Romana Country Club superintendent Jorge Nunez. “It’s like the fingerprint no one has the same one, no one can copy it.”
Some of the bunkers are gigantic, almost oceanic at times, (the Marina nine at Dye Fore especially). Others like 10 at Teeth of the Dog begin at the tee box and end at the green, making the golfer sweep wide around the hazard. Still others, (many of the holes at Five), are a vast dunescape of bunkers peppering the fairway. On that note, remember that old joke Jimmy Demeret used on Trent Jones? “Hey Trent I saw a course you’d love the other day. You stand on the first tee and drop a ball over your shoulder.” Well I have one as well: Hey Pete! I saw a course you’d love the other day! You stand on the first tee and there’s nothing but a bunker.
Choosing where to play? That’s like giving a starving man a menu. Teeth of the Dog is the flagship for a reason. It’s gorgeous, it’s intelligent, it’s beguiling. You can’t help but fall in love with the place. The Links, while inaccurately named, has some excellent moments. The back is particularly strong, while the front showcases some holes unique in Pete Dye’s repertoire, ideas he never explored at other courses he designed later. Dye Fore is so exciting you wish it go on forever, golf on the edge of the World: 100 yard wide fairways, broad expansive vistas, and a brilliant routing exploring the most exciting and interesting portions of the property. Failure to include it on the short list of the absolute greatest golf courses in the World is a colossal blunder. Five is completely different, almost a desert ecosystem, featuring a wide variety of shot requirements. And La Romana is a terrific test of golf with excellent green complexes, a variety of terrains, and a “New” nine similar in flavor to Five.
Best of all, you’ll play quickly. As a single I played Teeth in 3:09, La Romana in 3:20, and the Links in just 2:50. Fore takes a little longer, two of us took close to four hours, mainly due to its enormous size – 7,770 yards with a few long walks between tees and greens – but the nine holes at Five (The Lakes), can be played in less than 90 minutes and is an easy walk.
Tom Doak was right. In the Caribbean, there’s Casa and there’s everywhere else. It obliterates Jamaica – those courses seem junior varsity by comparison – and while Puerto Rico has the occasional excellent course, Casa de Campo has so much more outstanding golf as well as varied diversions, (and at a better price), P.R., likewise, is a distant second place.
And in case you’re curious: No, Jamaica and Puerto Rico didn’t serve chorizo either.
[Author's Note: Next up - Teeth of the Dog and the Links. Then La Romana Country Club and Dye Fore/Five/Six]
NEWS, NOTES, AND QUOTES
Casa is running a “Golf Legends” summer special that can’t be beat – 329 USD per night, per person all inclusive: golf, room, and food. Look for details at www.casadecampo.do.
Dye Fore Marina 9 is closed from 5/6 – 10/1 for green renovation
The Links will be closed from 5/13 – 6/17
Teeth of the Dog will be closed from 6/17 – 7/30
Dye Fore Chavon and Lakes 9s will be closed 8/1 – 9/15
It’s now mid-season for us at AWITP, which means plenty of great golf reading for you. We’ll be dividing the work form Casa de Campo into three parts: an intro on the resort and Pete’s work in general, then a piece on Teeth of the Dog and the Links, followed by Dye Fore, Five, and Six.
After that it’s tome for the Anderson Memorial at Winged Foot and The U.S. Open at Merion. So don’t touch that dial. Pete Dye, Winged Foot, and Merion…sounds pretty good to me.
[Editor's Note: While we are writing our pieces from Casa de Campo, here is a re-run of Jay's Pete Dye section of the famous "Which Architect is Which Rock Band" piece featured here. Enjoy. More live reports from Casa de Campo coming soon.]
Pink Floyd – Pete Dye. Pink Floyd has the same monumental legacy as Led Zeppelin, but their music is slightly more accessible to a broader demographic. It’s progressive rock that enjoyed near-universal mainstream popularity, something Yes, Phish, Rush, and Genesis could never do. (Well Genesis became mainstream, but only after Peter Gabriel quit the band and Phil Collins turned into his generation’s Buster Poindexter. Read: sellout. “Illegal Alien” will go down in history as one of pop music’s worst songs, along with “Poker Face” – Christopher Walken and Eric Cartman do better versions – and Queen’s “Radio Ga-ga.” )
For goodness sake, Dark Side of the Moon stayed on the Top 40 album charts in the U.K. for a staggering 14 years! Even Thriller, the U.S.’s longest-running album only charted for just over a year. And The Wall is still the greatest rock opera ever written, edging out both Tommy and Quadrophenia for the honor. They also were – some say still are – the greatest light show ever devised. They once sent all England into panic, filling the skies with balloons of flying pigs when they released Animals.
When it comes to world domination by a band, Floyd may trail only the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and while the Stones may have been a bigger cultural phenomenon, Floyd’s music is deeper and far more explorative.
Floyd’s prog rock roots are firmly rooted in classical music (as much of prog rock is) and Dye’s design concepts are firmly rooted in his study of classical architecture from the U.K. Early in his career, Dye knew that to carve out a niche in the golf design business, he’d have to go directly opposite to what everyone was doing (everyone being Robert Trent Jones), just as Floyd consciously moved away from the Rolling Stones. Where Floyd is the “anti-Stones,” Dye is the “anti-Jones.” Floyd conquered the World with Dark Side and The Wall, Dye with Sawgrass, Harbour Town, and Kiawah.
Pete Dye is huge like Floyd is huge, and the world reacts to him the same way. They love him, they respect him, they accept his iconicity, they think he’s a little weird and a little impenetrable at times, (unapologetically so) but he’s still regarded as the highest modern standard of the craft of his generation: like Floyd remarkable in his originality, indeed singularity. You know a Dye course when you see it, they are unmistakable. Sure, somebody out there hates Floyd, but they can’t deny them. The same is true of Dye.
And I’ll bet you a dollar that if you showed Dye a picture of the band, he’d ask, “And by the way, which one’s Pink?”
ABOVE, THE CHAVON NINE OF CASA DE CAMPO’S DYE FORE FACILITY (ABOVE) WILL SOON HAVE A NEW COURSE FOR COMPANY
***This story is exclusive here and at Cybergolf***
LA ROMANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Casa de Campo officials confirmed tonight that six million dollars U.S. has been approved for the building of a new Pete Dye golf course at the resort. The new 18 holes, with the working title of “Six” may be paired with the newest nine holes of the “Dye Fore” facility opened last season called “The Lakes,” but affectionately called “Five” by Pete Dye, his team, and Casa insiders, or may be a stand alone facility on their own. The new course would join the original Dye Fore layout, (with its “Chavon” and “Marina” nines), the world renowned Teeth of the Dog, the sporty “Links” course, and the private 27 hole facility at La Romana Country Club for a whopping 108 holes of golf in total.
“Dye Six is coming!” beamed a rightfully proud Peter Bonell, the resort’s Chief Marketing Officer. “It will be located across the Chavon River, so players will take a ferry to get there,” he explained, referring to the stunning riverside site 225 feet above the water, which was also where such movies as Apocalypse Now and Rambo 3 were filmed.
“We are proud and delighted to increase our Pete Dye footprint,” added the resort’s National Grouping Golf Sales Manager. “Golfers from around the world love to come and test their game against his designs because you have to think all the way around his golf courses. You can’t try to bully his golf courses or they will bully you, but you never had as much fun or saw anything like them anywhere in the world.”
In a recent interview with Cybergolf, Dye confided that a new course might be in the offing.
“Here’s the thing about Casa de Campo….you’re playing all along those cliff-tops overlooking the ocean or the marina or the river. It’s like Pebble Beach or Turnberry out there! At Pebble Beach, the next golf course that’s in bounds is in Japan. At Casa, the next golf course that’s in bounds is in Venezuela.”
In fact, when asked if some holes were modeled after holes at Pebble, in particular No. 11 (or Number 2 on the “Chavon” nine), which seem strikingly similar to number eight at Pebble Beach, Dye responded, “Absolutely. I love the holes along the [Chavon] River and the new work I did at Five is a nice compliment. That may be the best work I’ve done down there since Teeth. I may be braggin’, but it’s different, it’s pretty, and it’s pretty wide, so you can play it, and you can see the mountains. It really ties in with the other work there. I hope to have thirty-six holes there soon.”
Now he will…in fact, he may have 45.
Indeed, many magazines have called Casa de Campo the “greatest” and “most complete” resort in the world, not only for the phenomenal golf, but for its myriad other diversions, including polo and equestrian events, shooting, tennis, nature hikes, biking, swimming spa, a marina designed to resemble Portofino, and restaurants by Le Cirque and Il Circo, among others.
“Our resort has been a favored escape for heads of state, financial entrepreneurs, Hollywood elite, sports professionals and top entertainers,” added P.R. coordinator Giselle Gonzalvo. Recent guests included Michael Jordan, actor Hugh Grant, and several active and retired major league baseball stars.
“This is enormous news,” stated golf architecture expert Bruce Moulton “Dye is the greatest and certainly most prolific designer of our generation, and for him to add to his already astounding portfolio at Casa de Campo further solidifies their place as one of the greatest places on the planet to play golf.”
“Pete just keeps getting better with age,” added Bonell.
Though the “Lakes” nine – i.e. “Five” – is new, golf architecture experts agree that it will certainly help catapult the Dye Fore facility into the highest echelon of the world rankings.
“It’s puzzling why it isn’t more highly regarded as it combines incomparable beauty, strategic design, and a sterling pedigree,” Moulton explained. “But now with the addition of Five, there’s no question it will skyrocket up the rankings, perhaps even rivaling Teeth of the Dog.” Many architecture experts, including several members of La Romana Country Club agree.
“I actually think it’s better than Teeth, and that’s saying something because Teeth is one of the 20 best courses in the world,” confided two members. “No place in the world has a better mix of golf and resort facilities than Casa de Campo. It’s Bandon Dunes or Scotland, but with much better weather year round. Come down and join us!”
I remember when my buddy Nicky Priore went down to Disneyworld with his family a few years back. Poor guy hadn’t had a vacation in three years. He’d survived the winter from hell in upstate New York: the winter of 1994, where the month of January saw not only 23 feet of snow, but the temperature never once topped 11 degrees Fahrenheit. Blizzards crippled the area well into April, and it even snowed on May 5th.
Well Nicky finally gets to take a vacation out of that igloo – the first real vacation for his kids, and it’s Disneyworld, Augusta National for kids for all intents and purposes – and it’s his first break from a civil litigation practice in three long nerve-jangling years, and what happens?
His wife and kids all get chicken pox the day they arrive.
“Cruel fates!!” he wailed plaintively, “Why do you mock me so??”
That’s how I felt the second I tried to take my first breath after the rib cracking fall I took trying to get off the LIRR train last week. I knew I had broken and/or cracked ribs and was seriously hurt. And I was ten days away from going to Casa de Campo for my big assignment on Dominican golf.
You gotta be joking.
For the next ten days, I was operating at less than half strength and speed. The first four days were excruciating, couldn’t sleep, could barely move, was a shell of my former self. For the first week I only had the energy to work half days in the law office. The pain still comes and goes in fits and spurts. It only hurts when I breathe, sneeze, cough, hiccup, laugh, move, bend, twist, turn, reach, walk, sit, or – ***shudder*** – lie down. Sleep is intermittent at best. Tossing and turning in pain at worst. I don’t know what’s worse – getting on the couch, (or into bed), or getting off it, (getting out of bed…)
Worst of all, there’s no treatment for it. You can’t set the bone. You can’t wrap the torso because that will constrict breathing even more. You just have to grin and bear it four-to-six weeks.
That being said, I’m doing the Casa trip. In fact, I’m sitting here right now, wheels down in the Dominican, at the resort’s Lago Grill, ceviche lunch on the way and a tall glass of Brugal Viejo – the Cadillac of rums – at my left hand.
Remember that name: Brugal Viejo. Viejo means old, Brugal means tasty!
Anyway I can hear the screaming and scheming from all of you, a fiendish hellbroth of “Are you nuts?” “How is this possible?” and “You’re going to hurt yourself worse and ruin the rest of the year.”
Well guess what? No I’m bloody not. I’m not nuts, I’m not blowing the rest of the golf season, and I specialize in making the impossible possible.
Just ask any of my law clients that one.
I am not an idiot, and I am not a martyr. There are some excellent reason why I’m still going…err…here:
1. If I don’t go, someone else might get the gig. You don’t give someone else the chance to steal your workload. Never forget! The reward for good work is more work. And all too frequently, guys who pass off the job find themselves permanently replaced by their second substitute. I know a few world-class golf writers who got their start because the guy above them had to take a pass for whatever reason. Screw that, Jack. As Dan Jenkins says, you gotta play hurt. Tom Brady is a Hall of Fame quarterback and three time Super Bowl winner because Drew Bledsoe got hurt on a freak play. You think I’m going to do six months of prep work and then pass the gig to my understudy? Not in this lifetime.
2. What better place to convalesce than an island paradise? Part of my gig is to tell you what it’s like to take a vacation somewhere. Well we’ll see exactly how restorative five days at Casa de Campo is on my ribs.
3. I need a rest – I haven’t had a break in 18 long months. You try practicing law in New York City – some litigation to boot – and then see if those gibbering waterheads don’t bring you down faster than a piano falling off a building.
4. I’m a gamer. I don’t quit. I have the next five weeks to rest before the next big assignment (Winged Foot) I plan on “shutting it down” the minute I get done. In a choice between going around meekly and fighting my way through this, I’ll battle. I’m a Trinity bantam. We go, fight, win. Besides, Tiger won an open with a crack in his leg, and Ben Hogan won an open after nearly getting squashed flat by a Greyhound bus. We hadn’t see worse driving till Phil at Winged Foot.
5. A rib injury is a walking injury. Hogan was a man of extraordinary discipline, so I’m following his treatment regimen: rest, sleep, hot water baths and showers, nothing stronger than aspirin, stretching and taking it easy when not on the golf course. Besides, football quarterbacks play games with bruised or cracked ribs all the time.
I’m not about to lash a driver, but I will try to gently bunt the ball around while concentrating more on breaking down the four golf courses at Casa like a fraction for you. I’ll put a half swing together with popsicle sticks, duct tape, and chicken wire, but I’m also not about to swing with a full coil while trying to drive a par-4. I’m just going to do the lowest impact actions I can exert and just try to make it around the course. I’m crazy like a fox…but not crazy.
“Hey, I broke my ribs and ended up with a much better golf game because of it,” confided one friend. “I learned to swing more slowly and the balls goes farther and straighter with more consistency than when I tried to play like a hot-blooded young Turk.”
Look, if it’s not working, I will shut it down, and short of going into a hyperbaric chamber every night or having Tiger’s doctor inject me with strange substances, (***cough, cough, Dr. Galea! Dr. Galea! cough cough), I’ve had the best advice and a team of people backing my moves. If I can’t play, I will shut it down and just walk around, take picture, putt and write about it. I’ll get plenty of beach and Jacuzzi time. But I’ve got a job to do, and after 18 months without a break from the lunacy that is practicing law in New York City, I’m going to decompress. And I’m going to give it the old college try. I have six more weeks to recover before the U.S. Open.
So I’m a human guinea pig this week as well as a sports writer. You get to be the fly on the wall. Strap yourself in, it should be interesting. The ceviche was tasty, the Brugal sweet as candy, and the sunshine calling my name like Britt in a negligee.
Well, maybe not that good.
But I do have a date with Teeth of the Dog in 45 minutes. You think I’m passing that up for a hot dog cart in TriBeCa? Guess again. I’ll break four more ribs myself with a hammer before that happens.
This article also appeared at Cybergolf.
USGA, THE R&A ISSUE STATEMENT ADDRESSING TIGER WOODS RULING AT THE 2013 MASTERS TOURNAMENT
By USGA, The R&A
May 1, 2013
The United States Golf Association and The R&A, golf’s governing bodies, today released the following statement to provide guidance to players and Rules officials on the Rules decision involving Tiger Woods at the 2013 Masters Tournament.
During the second round, Tiger Woods played his third stroke from the fairway of the 15th hole to the putting green, where his ball struck the flagstick and deflected into the water hazard in front of the green. He elected to take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 26-1a, incurring a one-stroke penalty (his fourth stroke on the hole). He then dropped and played a ball to the putting green (his fifth stroke), and holed his putt. After finishing his round, he signed and returned his score card, recording a score of 6 for the 15th hole.
Before Woods returned his score card, the Masters Tournament Committee had received an inquiry from a television viewer questioning whether Woods had dropped his ball in a wrong place. After reviewing the available video, but without talking with Woods, the Committee ruled that he had complied with Rule 26-1a and that no penalty had been incurred. The following morning, after additional questions had been raised about the incident in a Woods television interview, the Committee talked with Woods, reviewed the video with him and reversed its decision, ruling that he had incurred a two-stroke penalty for dropping in and playing from a wrong place in breach of Rules 26-1a and 20-7c.
This also meant that, in returning his score card the previous day, Woods had breached Rule 6-6d by returning a score (6) for the 15th hole that was lower than his actual score (eight). The penalty for such a breach of Rule 6-6d is disqualification. Under Rule 33-7 (“Disqualification Penalty; Committee Discretion”), a Committee has discretion to waive that penalty in “exceptional individual cases.” As discussed below, the Committee elected to invoke that discretion and waived Woods’ penalty of disqualification.
Explanation of the Rulings
This situation raised two questions of interpretation under the Rules of Golf.
1. The Ruling that Woods Dropped in and Played from a Wrong Place
The first question was whether, after taking relief, Woods played his next stroke in accordance with the Rules. The Masters Tournament Committee ultimately answered no and imposed a two-stroke penalty because Woods did not drop and play a ball “as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played,” as required under Rule 26-1a. The Rules do not define “as nearly as possible” in terms of a specific measured distance, because the conditions unique to each situation can affect how near to the original spot it is possible to drop a ball and because dropping a ball is an imprecise act. But in this type of situation, in which that original spot was clearly identifiable as being just behind the back edge of the divot hole created by Woods’ previous stroke and in which there were no other unusual circumstances, “as nearly as possible” means that the player must attempt to drop the ball on or next to (but not nearer the hole than) that spot. Woods did not do so. In his post-round media comments, he stated that he dropped the ball about two yards behind that divot hole. Although the precise distance away was not determined, he clearly dropped the ball a significant distance away from that spot and did not satisfy the “as nearly as possible” requirement in these circumstances. As a result, he was penalized two strokes for dropping in and playing from a wrong place.
2. The Decision to Waive the Penalty of Disqualification
The second question was whether the Committee was permitted to waive the penalty of disqualification that otherwise applied to Woods under Rule 6-6d, which provides that a competitor “is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified.” For nearly 60 years, the Rules have provided Committees with limited discretion to waive a disqualification penalty. Under Rule 33-7, “[a] penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the Committee considers such action warranted.”
Such discretion is not intended to protect a competitor from the consequences of his erroneous application of the Rules. The fact that Woods, when he returned his score card, was not aware that he had incurred a two-stroke penalty on the 15th hole was not a basis to waive disqualification under Rule 33-7. Moreover, contrary to what some have suggested, the decision of the Committee to waive the disqualification penalty for Woods was not and could not have been based on Decision 33-7/4.5, a 2011 Decision that permits waiver of disqualification where “the competitor could not reasonably have known or discovered the facts resulting in his breach of the Rules.” That extremely narrow exception, which relates generally to use of high-definition or slow-motion video to identify facts not reasonably visible to the naked eye, was not applicable here and had no bearing on the Committee’s decision. Woods was aware of the only relevant fact: the location of the spot from which he last played his ball. His two-stroke penalty resulted from an erroneous application of the Rules, which he was responsible for knowing and applying correctly. Viewing the incident solely from the standpoint of Woods’ actions, there was no basis to waive the penalty of disqualification under Rule 6-6d.
However, the Masters Tournament Committee did not base its exercise of discretion under Rule 33-7 on any circumstances specific to Woods’ knowledge, but rather on the consequences of the Committee’s own actions. Before Woods had returned his score card for the second round, the Committee had received an inquiry from a television viewer questioning whether Woods, in taking relief under Rule 26-1a at the 15th hole, had dropped his ball sufficiently close to the spot from which he had played his original ball. The Committee promptly reviewed an available video and determined that Woods had dropped and played correctly under Rule 26-1a and therefore had not incurred a penalty. The Committee did not talk with Woods before making this ruling or inform him of the ruling. Woods therefore signed and returned his score card without knowledge of the Committee’s ruling or the questions about his drop on the 15th hole. The following morning, after additional questions had been raised about the incident in a television interview, the Committee discussed the incident with Woods, reviewed the video with him and reversed its decision, ruling that Woods had dropped in and played from a wrong place.
In deciding to waive the disqualification penalty, the Committee recognized that had it talked to Woods – before he returned his score card – about his drop on the 15th hole and about the Committee’s ruling, the Committee likely would have corrected that ruling and concluded that Woods had dropped in and played from a wrong place. In that case, he would have returned a correct score of 8 for the 15th hole and the issue of disqualification would not have arisen.
The Decisions on the Rules of Golf authorize a Committee to correct an incorrect decision before the competition has closed, and they establish that where a Committee incorrectly advises a competitor, before he returns his score card, that he has incurred no penalty, and then subsequently corrects its mistake, it is appropriate for the Committee to waive the disqualification penalty. See Decision 34-3/1. The Woods situation differed from the situation in Decision 34-3/1, and in other Decisions that protect a competitor from disqualification where the competitor has relied on erroneous information from a referee or the Committee, in that Woods was not informed of the Committee’s initial ruling and therefore did not rely on the Committee’s advice in returning his score card.
This situation therefore raised a question not expressly addressed in the existing Decisions under Rules 33-7 and 34-3 and that reflected two competing considerations. On the one hand, the Decisions provide that the player’s responsibility for his own score is not excused by his ignorance or misapplication of the Rules. On the other hand, the Decisions provide that a Committee may correct an erroneous decision and may take its error into account in determining whether it is appropriate to waive the penalty of disqualification. In effect, based on all of the facts discussed above, in this case both the competitor and the Committee reached an incorrect decision before the score card was returned.
The Masters Tournament Committee concluded that its actions taken prior to Woods’ returning his score card created an exceptional individual case that unfairly led to the potential for disqualification. In hindsight, the Committee determined that its initial ruling was incorrect, as well as that it had erred in resolving this question without first seeking information from Woods and in failing to inform Woods of the ruling. Given the unusual combination of facts – as well as the fact that nothing in the existing Rules or Decisions specifically addressed such circumstances of simultaneous competitor error and Committee error – the Committee reasonably exercised its discretion under Rule 33-7 to waive the penalty of disqualification under Rule 6-6d, while still penalizing Woods two strokes under Rules 26-1a and 20-7c for playing from a wrong place.
Scope of Committee Discretion to Waive a Penalty of Disqualification for Failure to Return Correct Score
Since this ruling at the 2013 Masters Tournament, the USGA and The R&A have received various inquiries about the scope of a Committee’s discretion to waive a penalty of disqualification where the player has failed to return a correct score card. The Woods ruling was based on exceptional facts, as required by Rule 33-7, and should not be viewed as a general precedent for relaxing or ignoring a competitor’s essential obligation under the Rules to return a correct score card. Further, although a Committee should do its best to alert competitors to potential Rules issues that may come to its attention, it has no general obligation to do so; and the fact that a Committee may be aware of such a potential issue before the competitor returns his score card should not, in and of itself, be a basis for waiving a penalty of disqualification under Rule 6-6d. Only a rare set of facts, akin to the exceptional facts at the 2013 Masters Tournament as summarized in the previous paragraphs, would justify a Committee’s use of its discretion to waive a penalty of disqualification for returning an incorrect score card.
The USGA and The R&A continuously work to monitor and assess the Rules of Golf in practice, to observe and incorporate the lessons of experience, and, as appropriate, to clarify and revise the Rules and Decisions to ensure that the Rules operate in the best interests of the game and that their appropriate interpretation and application are understood and consistently followed. In recent years, the USGA and The R&A have been assessing the Rules that relate to score cards and disqualification. As part of this ongoing assessment, and in keeping with this regular practice, the Rules of Golf Committees of the USGA and The R&A will review the exceptional situation that occurred at the 2013 Masters Tournament, assess the potential implications for other types of situations, and determine whether any adjustment to the Rules and/or the Decisions is appropriate.
Now that Winged Foot has been selected to host the 2020 U.S. Open, can an announcement that Oakland Hills will return to the informal U.S. Open rota be far behind?
We reported hints that Oakland Hills could return here and at Cybergolof. The South Course, famously dubbed “The Monster” in 1951, will host the 2016 U.S. Amateur, often seen as a gateway tournament to hosting a U.S. Open. Similarly, Chambers Bay hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur as a prelude to their 2015 Open date. Winged Foot and Oakmont also both hosted U.S. Amateurs shortly before their last U.S. Opens in 2006 and 2007.
In 1951, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. made Oakland Hills the birthplace of target golf – “Double target golf actually,” explained his son Bobby, also one of the quintessential golf course architects of his age. The next major the club hosts will be it’s 10th. Through the ages, it has presided over six U.S. Opens, (the last being Steve Jones’s win in 1996), and three PGA Championships, (the latest being Padraig Harrington’s sparkling 66-66 36-hole Sunday finish in 2008 to race past Sergio Garcia and Ben Curtis and claim back-to-back majors and three in his last six. Harrington had repeated as British Open champion at Royal Birkdale three weeks earlier. Several other Hall of Famers have won at Oakland Hills as well, including Ralph Guldahl in 1937 who shot 69 on the final day to shock a broken-hearted Sam Snead, (Snead had been accepting congratulations from tournament officials and journalists alike, before Guldahl raced past him at the end). Gene Littler and Gary Player also won a U.S. Open and PGA Championship in 1961 and 1972 respectively.
Oakland Hills has also seen its share of fluke winners. Besides Jones – seeing him hoist the Wanamaker Trophy was like seeing a shark on a mountaintop – Cyril Walker, David Graham, and Andy North also won majors here.
Referring to North’s bolt from the blue, zany victory, Fox Sports Broadcaster Steve Czaban said, “the entire 1985 U.S. Open should be stricken from the record books completely,” as a statistical outlier and a deadly bore. Unknown Taiwanese player T.C. Chen not only led the Open for three days, but was running away with it before taking the now infamous quadruple-bogey 8, where he double hit a greenside chip for a two-stroke penalty. His four shot lead vanished in a heartbeat like a rabbit in a conjuring trick. Andy North, who won a grand total of three tournaments in his life, but two U.S. Opens, held off Chen – now known forever as “Two-Chip” instead of “Tse-Chung” – and a bunch of career bit players like Dave Barr and Denis Watson.
“I wouldn’t ask those guys to wash my car,” Czaban fulminated. The real star that year was the golf course, which confounded everyone by playing harder than the previous years’ opens at Winged Foot, Oakmont, Pebble Beach, Merion, Baltusrol, Inverness, and Cherry Hill respectively. Even par was the winning score.
The spine, heart, and central nervous system of the course are its severely undulating greens, brilliantly serpentine routing, and heaving terrain, which are still essentially the same as Donald Ross built in 1917. Only the fairway bunkering has been consistently rebuilt through the decades to offset advances in driving distances, first by Trent, then by his other son, Rees. Ross’s greens are just as murderous and unpredictable as Oakmont and equally fast.
“If you gave Oakland Hills three weeks to prepare, it could easily be ready to host a major championship in case of emergency,” said six time major champion Lee Trevino in an interview with your wuthor from some years ago.
“The greens have a lot of movement and have some tough pin positions,” agreed Sergio Garcia. “Some greens, like 18, are very wide but are divided into sections so that your real target is much smaller.”
“It’s one of those old Donald Ross courses with fantastic greens that require shotmaking. I love it here” said Jay Haas, a grizzled, wily veteran who been highly successful on the champions Tour after a competitive PGA TOUR career. “Next to Winged Foot, it’s my favorite course. Winged Foot may be number 1 to me, but Oakland Hills and Oakmont are 1A,” he finished energetically. “It’s tough, but it’s fair.”
As such, the South course will make a sterling venue, and a great return to the U.S. Open rotation. It’s a mid-west venue, and the U.S.G.A. has needed a great breadbasket/rust belt course for many years now. It’s a classic Golden age course, with a venerable history, outstanding greens, and plenty of difficulty without having to be tricked up with needless rough. And it’s got plenty of room for all the hoopla associated with hosting perhaps the largest golf tournament in the World.
Matter of Interest: According to legend Hogan supposedly said, “I’m glad I could bring this Monster to its knees, but according to Golf Digest writer Dan Jenkins, (who was there), Hogan actually said “this ______”, (something unprintable), and Jenkins and the boys simply substituted “Monster,” so the moniker may be Jenkins’s after all. See Dan’s book “Jenkins at the Majors” for more details.
FOREST HILLS, NY – So the funny part about my breaking two ribs and bruising two others in a fall on the Long Island Railroad is that my friends and readers all wondered if this was some big meta-joke they all were missing out on. Sorry to disappoint, (me most of all!) but it isn’t. I’m due for the pain equivalent of a six week kidney stone.
I mean it’s not like you can set ribs…
Forget playing golf for the moment – that’s problematic for a golf writer too, but there are far more urgent priorities. I can’t take a truly deep breath without pain. Every step pulsates with a dull ache. Simple actions that normally take a second are now taking close to half a minute. Putting on shoes, bending over, lifting or pushing anything…even just laughing wracks me with shooting stabs of pain. I tried to curl up with a good book, (Umberto Eco’s “How to Travel With a Salmon” for those of you scoring at home), but had to put it down because Eco’s a laugh a minute and every time I laugh my floating rib floats around my torso crashing into everything.
Every once in a while, I get a spasm in my muscles right there – some involuntary twitch or something, and them my whole side collapses and the pain goes from “dull roar” to “New Years Eve” crazy.
Sleeping? Forget about it. I wake up every two hours. Just turning over is agony. It takes me three times to get on or off the couch. And the most reedonkyoulous thing of all is the freakin’ dent in my chest! The depression where my collapsed ribs now reside. It’ slowed me down to about 40% maximum.
By the way first A**hole to say, “He outta break ribs more often,” gets a thumb in the eye.
Anyway, since laughing at adversity is my defense mechanism, here’s Top 10 Ways Jay REALLY Broke his Ribs
10. He went ten rounds with Mighty Thor
9. Saving a plane full of babies from a volcano
8. Chasing pipe bomb throwing Chechens around Boston
7. Trying to find the 70th position with Sweet Betsy (and that definitely WASN’T it!)
6. Helping organize missile defense in South Korea
5. Robert Baratheon knocked him down with the war hammer like some dumb Tarly boy at the Battle of Summerhall…Seven hells! He was strong!
4. Tried to tackle Bane, Kingpin, and The Joker without waiting for back-up.
3. Put it this way: next time he’ll remember to pull the rip cord
2. Got kick-boxed by Nancy Carpenter
1. Tiger Woods finally got sick of the rancid dogshit that CS’n MFer has been writing and opened a supersized can of whoop-ass on him!
No sport is blessed with as much wondrous variety as golf. There’s links golf in the U.K. and Ireland, cliff-top golf on the U.S. Pacific coast, Golden Age parkland golf across the country, sand hills golf in the nation’s breadbasket, and desert golf in the southwest. We build courses that cling to mountains, we grow grass in lava field, and we raise courses from swamps. There’s even golf in the ice fields of northern Scandinavia and in the blast furnace broiling heat of Death Valley. No matter the landscape, if a man can walk there, he can hit a golf ball across it.
For intrepid golfers, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America provide a completely different ecosystem form our sport. There’s jungles, deserts that are actually oceanside, sugar plantations, cliff-tops, mangroves – all sorts of wondrous variety you won’t find in the climates of the U.K. or U.S. What was once terra incognita for golfers has recently become well populated with solid golf courses. Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America were treated quite well by the golf boom of the 1990s and early 2000s, and where once Puerto Rico’s Dorado Beach dominated the region’s golf tourism, a Tyrannosaur hungrily feasting among the herbivores, since 1970 golf resorts – including Casa de Campo – have sprung up all across the Tropics – from Puerto Rico to the Sea of Cortez and from Bermuda to Costa Rica.
Yet despite the recent surge in popularity, Casa de Campo remains the number one resort in the region, (and many magazines and travel writers world-wide say “in the World”).
Teeth of the Dog, the flagship course at the resort, has perennially held the top spot in the Golf Magazine and Golf Digest rankings for the area since it opened in 1971, even higher than fabled Mid-Ocean Club, Charles Blair Macdonald’s timeless Bermuda masterpiece. In fact, in one magazine’s most recent rankings for courses outside the United States, Teeth of the Dog, (22) was ranked higher than Royal Troon, (36), Royal St. George’s, (32), Ballybunion (Old), (26), Royal Lytham & St. Annes (37), Royal Liverpool, (57), Valderrama, (40), Lahinch, (41), and Mid-Ocean, (47).
Stop the presses! That’s not big, it’s huge. Better than four British Open venues? That means Teeth – and therefore Casa de Campo – should be on every golfer’s bucket list.
Moreover, it’s held its own both on the rankings lists and in terms of difficulty since it opened. It has its own unique character, set in flora unlike any other golf course in the world, a “tropical paradise of bougainvilla and hibiscus…sugarcane fields, stands of cocoanut palms, royal palms, bitter orange, almond and teak trees,” wrote golf travel writer Joel Zuckerman, an expert on Pete Dye golf courses. But even more importantly, the playing angles, strategies, green contours, and bunkering make it an intelligent test of golf, not just an Oceanside walk with pretty views. Anyone can build an Oceanside golf course, but only a world-class architect such as Pete Dye could build a lasting masterpiece that has sincere architectural design value, not just a pretty face and a flash in the pan.
“You got seven holes right in the ocean!” beamed a rightfully proud Pete Dye. “Now on each side, there are two long par-4s that can stretch back to 500 yards if need be, and the par-5s are 580, 590, plus there’s good contour in those greens, so it’s tough enough as it needs to be to challenge the great players.
“You see, back when Jack Nicklaus was playing, he drove it 265 and hit a 7-iron 160. Now they drive it 325 and hit 7-irons 185-190. So we lost sixty yards off the tee, and plenty more through the bag. But even so, we haven’t needed to add all that crazy distance to trick up the golf course though at Teeth, and that’s even with a couple of short par-4s on either side to balance things out as well,” Dye explained. “Now the members and the resort guests still play the tees that are around 6,000 – 6,200 yards. They don’t need all that distance. They have enough of a time keepin’ from knockin’ one or two or even three balls in the water.
“Now here’s the other thing about Casa de Campo,” Dye continued energetically. There’s four courses there, three for the resort guests. At Dye Fore and my new one Dye Five, [Author's Note: The resort calls this new nine the "Lakes," but Dye, his design team, and friends all call it Five…], you’re playing all along those cliff-tops overlooking the ocean or the marina or the river. It’s like Pebble Beach or Turnberry out there! At Pebble Beach, the next golf course that’s in bounds is in Japan. At Casa, the next golf course that’s in bounds is in Venezuela.”
In fact, when asked if some holes were modeled after holes at Pebble, in particular No. 11 (or Number 2 on the “Chavon” nine), which seems to bear a remarkable resemblance to number eight at Pebble Beach, Dye responded, “Absolutely. I love the holes along the [Chavon] River and the new work I did at Five is a nice compliment. That may be the best work I’ve done down there since Teeth. I may be braggin’, but it’s different, it’s pretty, and it’s pretty wide, so you can play it, and you can see the mountains. It really ties in with the other work there. I hope to have thirty-six holes there soon.”
Indeed, with its dynamic synergy of brilliant angles and arresting visuals, one of the critical questions will explore in this series is “Why isn’t Dye Fore ranked higher, and will the opening of Five (The Lakes) change that?” Perched on high above the bluffs overlooking the winding Chavon River 225 feet below, tilted fairways, greens clinging precipitously on the edge of the cliff, with so many playing angles you can count them out from the tee box, shouldn’t that be on every golfer’s bucket list too? Further, what about the Links, which according to players, is anything but a side option? What about La Romana, that rarest of birds, an offshore Dye design?
“Now what’s interesting is that the Links course and La Romana play almost as tough as Teeth, but don’t look anywhere near as hard as Teeth. So people have options when they come here. And usually people play all the courses, they jump around from one to the other,” Dye continued. “But best of all, they come down here, and even if they knock three balls in the water a day, they go home and tell everyone who’ll listen what a great time they had, and then they come back down next year, and do it all over again. You gotta love people who love golf!”
It’s obvious Pete Dye loves golfers…although sometimes our scorecards look like he loves terrorizing golfers even more, but most of the visual tricks and exceptionally difficult, penal hazards Dye employed in his resort courses/PGA Tour stops evolved after Teeth of the Dog and the Links course, (opened 1974). Moreover La Romana, (opened 1990), being a private members club, might be milder than what you’ll find at most Dye resorts and PGA Tour stops. Happily, the powers that be didn’t tell Pete to build them a major championship venue and left him to his own devices.
Headline! “Resort owner doesn’t let ego, pipe dreams of major championship ruin his golf course before it opens.”
Leaving the design work to Dye is a good idea according to fellow architect and architecture critic Tom Doak who, in his quintessential golf travel gazette The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses called Teeth of the Dog, “one of the twenty or thirty best courses in the world” and listed it as one of his 31 favorite courses in the World.
As an aside, Doak picked 31 courses because he likes Baskin Robbins ice cream. You gotta love a down to earth guy!
Doak continued by writing, “I know deep down it’s Pete’s own favorite – ideal job description, total artistic control including choice of site….he could shape every contour by hand like the craftsman he is…if you’re headed for the Caribbean, don’t even think about going anywhere else.”
Doak may be right, in actuality. Casa de Campo rules the roost in the region. In theory, there are two other courses in the Dominican Republic that have grown to rival Casa on some rankings lists: Punta Espada in Cap Cana by Jack Nicklaus designs and Corales, (sometimes just called “Punta Cana”), by Tom Fazio. On one magazine’s list, Punta Espada is ranked 31st, (behind Teeth’s 22nd), while Corales doesn’t appear on the list at all. That list, however, is not compiled and edited by the normal architecture editor of that particular magazine. (Interestingly, that list – top 100 outside U.S. – also doesn’t include any other Casa de Campo courses, yet has seven other Caribbean/Mexico/off-shore courses such as Mid-Ocean and three in Cabo del sol, the “flavor of the month” of the region’s golf travel circles.
Another smaller magazine’s rankings actually lists Punta Espada number one in the region and Teeth of the Dog third, behind a Tom Fazio course in San Jose del Cabo called Querencia. This is positively shocking as the latest news out of Punta Espada is disconcerting at best. Money issues have seriously cramped their maintenance budget. Being a Nicklaus course, sources say they need a million dollars annually to keep the course in the conditioning Nicklaus intended, (which may be half the problem right there – sustainability has never been Nicklaus’s forte, budget busting price tags are). With such a bleak outlook, expect Espada to do the typical “percolation downward” that most overhyped courses by mega-watt designers tend to do after debuting high on rankings lists. (The same list also puts Dye Fore as 23rd in the region, while La Romana is 39th, behind several Cabo courses and, frighteningly, two hot messes by Robert von Hagge in Jamaica.)
“How does [magazine name redacted] come up with these rankings? One course has been closed for over a year, some clearly inferior courses are overrated, while far better courses languish below them,” lamented one golf architecture expert and design critic. He has a point – perhaps it’s a combination of advertising money, the designer’s big name and heavy-handed clout, and looky-loos who rate courses by how pretty they are. They see an ocean and forget how to loko at the rest of the course! It just proves that with the exception of Golf Magazine – by far and away the most consistent and trustworthy rankings list – excepting Golf Magazine, rankings tend to be like hippie cooks, they just throw everything together and then tell you how great the mush tastes. That’s the other purpose to my series of articles – you’ll have one man analyzing everything consistently, not a bunch of different people viewing everything through their own frame of reference.
We’ve already played and written about the major courses in Jamaica, including Rose Hall, Tryall, and White Witch. None of them will make my short list of top courses in the region. Too many narrow fairways, ugly, zit-like, fake mounds, head-scratching routings, ludicrously shaped bunkers, (Monkeys? Really?), and flaccid greens make for a missed opportunity to go play the good stuff. Friends don’t let friends “golf slum” (i.e. play lackluster courses). Besides, there is still a serious travel advisory for Jamaica because of the vicious “Stonecutter Gang” responsible for more murders and crime than you care to expose yourself too. If you do go to Jamaica – even though I expressly told you NOT to – do not leave your resort, and don’t trust strangers. Anyone going there seeking drugs, women, or wild parties will find that, at best, everyone at the resort knew exactly where you were and what you were doing and, worse, risks a shakedown. Even those leaving the resort on their own seeking innocent diversions may be opting for serious problems. If you think you’re getting a good deal, first count your money, then your fingers, then your relatives.
“We were told by a guy we met that he’d take us to go see Bob Marley’s house, but they took us to this alley in a slum, and we almost ended up getting jumped and mugged. Had we not booked like Usain Bolt, it would have been lights out,” said one friend. Others were not so lucky. The premiere caddie at Rose Hall was murdered when he went to a local Kwik-E-Mart for cigarettes. The Stonecutter Gang shot and killed someone in the store next to the Kwik-E-Mart, then killed everyone in the Kwik-E-Mart too – “liquidating them as a routine precaution” according to news accounts.
Meanwhile, we also played Puerto Rico’s Dorado Beach last year. While the East Course is only “pretty good” architecturally, it’s been restored to the specifications of Robert Trent Jones, Sr. by his son Bobby. It’s now a museum piece, important in the Pantheon of great courses as a shrine to Trent’s architectural principles and, combined with the resort’s rich history, should crack the top 10 courses in the region without much trouble.
The big news out of Dorado Beach is indeed colossal: word is they may take the advice I proffered in my 2011 article and let Bobby blow up the West courses and another nine holes, (either on the Plantation or the Pineapple course), and let him design a new course in the flavor of the work he did at Chambers Bay. While Bobby is completely supportive of Gil Hanse and his work in Rio for the Olympics course he’s also, understandably, sad he didn’t win the bid. Who can blame him? Nobody likes coming in second, it’s human nature.
So Bobby’s doing what any athlete who lost a championship game would do: he’s gonna bring it big time with his next course and try to beat everybody’s brains in! Right now, Bobby is doing the best work of his life. He’s “caught a lick” as we say in the music industry about guitarists. Chambers Bay was a triumph and the good ideas there are being expounded upon in his new work. He’s going to build one great course after another for quite some time. After conversation with him about his plans for the West course, it may be a game changer in the region should it get done.
But for now, it’s the Dominican Republic and Casa de Campo. It’s rich coffees and cocoas, thick enough to stand your spoon upright. It’s the frenetic beat, yet majestic motions of meringue music’s siren call. It’s middles infielders turning a bang-bang double play at the ball park – getting bowled over by the runner, but finishing the play, killing the rally and sending the game into extra innings. It’s fried yuca, the King of Starches. And it’s perfectly tanned nubile, young vixens in bikinis, Coppertone, and aviators sunning themselves by sapphire seas under azure skies.
And it’s Casa de Campo, a resort so internationally renowned that two girls I know actually got in a fight over which one of them would get to ask me to ride shotgun with me. I’m serious! My ex-girlfriend, the rather inaccurately named “Sweet Betsy,” actually threatened to mace the extremely accurately named “Crazy Agatha” in the face shouting something along the lines of, “this is a new kind of pepper spray and it really stings.”
I settled the issue by telling them both that “This is a working gig. Neither of you is going, and neither of you is getting another date with me until you learn how to behave.” (Which, knowing them, will be never, so I’m safe for a while, I hope.)
“Wait a minute!” I hear you shouting. “Didn’t you just start dating Sweet Betsy three months ago?” you ask. Yes, but 1) incidents such as the one above…well you can guess the rest and 2) I’m always on the lookout for a future ex-girlfriend. Don’t worry about me, there’s plenty of fish in the sea, and soon enough I’ll have another one standing next to me that looks just like her, (except this one will be a blond). But crazy girls that can’t take “no” for an answer and itchy trigger-fingered, pepper-spray carrying, loose cannons need not apply for the position. I’d rather date the Stonecutter Gang.
JF: How disappointed are you that you didn’t get the 2016 Olympics Course gig down in Rio?
RTJ 2: I’m not disappointed – I’m supportive of golf being successful in its re-emergence in the Olympics. However, the sand is running out of the hourglass, and everyone will have to get started soon if they want the proposed new golf course to be a venue for this Olympics.
JF: You mean regarding the land dispute?
RTJ 2: Anything to do with land in South America is going to risk being disputed. They can sort it out, but they are running out of time to complete and test the new venue, which is required by the I.O.C. for all sports in the Olympic games. Who ever told you the line about “there’s sometimes more politics in sports than there is in politics itself” was right.
JF: Did you utilize any design concepts or ideas from Chambers Bay in the design you submitted for the Olympics?
RTJ 2: Yes and no. Our primary goal was to create a purpose-built golf course to host both men’s and women’s events sequentially. Thus the St. Andrews Old Course and its open landscape and wide, double-fairways was our model, because it has historically been played in opposite directions: i.e. both clockwise and counter-clockwise. It’s really two routings over one golf field.
JF: And you gave the Olympics a reversible design?
RTJ 2: Yes. Never in the history of the game have they played two professional tour events on the same course back-to-back. We all know what a golf course looks like after Tour events leave it: divots everywhere and the rough trampled by the gallery. You can only design a course that can survive that on a flattish, open sandy site such as St. Andrews or Pinehurst, and so that’s what I designed and submitted to the Olympics. Pinehurst will be the “Beta Testing” for the idea of two events held on one course in 2014 for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Opens, so we’ll see how it can work for 2016.
JF: We hear you may take some of the design concepts from Chambers Bay and the Olympics design and use them for a new course at Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico?
RTJ 2: We think some of these concepts could be implemented well at Dorado Beach as it repositions its total golf experience. Speaking of repositioning, Poppy Hills is being re-built right now Bruce and I right now.
JF: What are you doing at Poppy Hills?
RTJ 2: We’re slightly rerouting it. 10, 11 12 are new holes, all the rest are being updated with water conservation in mind.
JF: What do you mean by updated?
RTJ 2: Water conservation is a primary concern. It’s a precious resource, and the California State Golf Associations are very good about staying out in front on environmental issues. We’re taking out the lake on the fifth hole, (with water conservation in mind), and we’re creating non-irrigated sandy wastelands everywhere else around the course, recreating an arid rough similar to Pinehurst.
JF: When will it be ready?
RTJ 2: It will be ready in 2014.
JF: Where else have you been designing recently?
RTJ 2: We have a new project in Columbia, South America; the name is Mesa de Yuguas, which means “The Hills of the Wild Horses.” It’s right in the shadow of the Andes. We’re completing a fabulous course outside Rome, Italy called Tierra di Consuelo. The Roman Consuls met 2,000 years ago on this land. It’s about 15-20 miles form the center of Rome. The old Roman stone road, the Via Franco, (which goes all the way to Germany), weaves through the golf course.
JF: Is the road a hazard?
RTJ 2: No, you cross it and play on either side of it. It’s 27 holes: the 18 hole “championship” course and another shorter 9 hole family course. We have a second course in Italy, Gorgia di Bagnia, outside Siena, which opened in 2012.
JF: You also built in Greece as well, didn’t you?
RTJ 2: Yes, we recently opened Navarino Bay in Pilos, Greece. It’s a short-ish course, but beautiful and fun, tucked right on the bay, enclosed in its own little sanctuary. It’s got only half the number of bunkers you’d find elsewhere, and it’s just 6,100 yards, but it’s right on the water in a beautiful Mediterranean climate.
In China we opened 36 holes just north of North Korea which is called Chan Bai Shan. It’s next to a huge mountain which is the border between China and North Korea in a beautiful forested mountain region.
And we’re doing some refinements and renovations to my own work, and my father’s work elsewhere to improve the courses of the Robert Trent Jones legacy.
JF: Such as?
RTJ 2: Mission Viejo in Southern California. And Poppy Hills and Dorado Beach, which we already discussed. Also, last year we re-opened the East Course at Dorado, which my father designed in the ‘50s. It was an important job for me, because that’s where I first fell in love with golf course architecture and wanted it to become my life’s work.
We’re also re-routing and renovating SentryWorld in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin. SentryWorld was built in 1981, and it was game changer then.
RTJ 2: It was a BIG golf course, the first of the modern golf courses to be built on Wisconsin, where as you know, they love their golf. They held a U.S. Amateur Public Links there, and over the years, a lot of legendary pros like Gary Player came there. SentryWorld stimulated the golf boom in Wisconsin, and more courses were built, such as Kohler and Erin Hills. It’s a low, flat wooded site, and when it was built, a large man made lagoon was created. For environmental reasons, we couldn’t use all the lakeside property for golf, but with a new routing, now we can. Now flora fauna and golfers now coexist…just like they do at Sharp Park.
Two guys not named Tiger Woods finally stole the headlines from 2013 Masters but it took until the 72nd hole to do it. Australia’s Adam Scott bested Argentina’s Angel Cabrera in a two-hole sudden death playoff after they each birdied the 18th hole, but until then this was the Masters That Begged to be Forgotten – pouring rain, ugly rules violations, inconsistently administered penalties, it all made for a Masters that had a metaphorical cloud as well as too many real ones.
For most of this soggy Sunday, Adam Scott was shooting a 63 from tee to green, but couldn’t make a putt all day with that telephone pole he calls a putter. Had he putted well, he would have run away with this Masters. But every time the camera cut to caddie Stevie “Best Win of My Life” Williams after Scott missed yet another makeable putt, Stevie looked like he swallowed a box of thumbtacks. Scott looked to be giving away the Green Jacket, even with birdies on 13 and 15.
Meanwhile Angel Cabrera may not have had a stranglehold on the tournament, but with a two shot lead at the turn, (three over Scott), he had every opportunity to put the clamps on for good with a solid back nine.
After all, that’s the reason why we love the Masters. It’s the greatest 72-hole golf tournament in the world because it’s also the greatest 9-hole tournament in the world.
Cabrera already stole two majors, so you can’t sleep on the guy. He creeps up the leaderboard slowly and hangs around, bombing drives all over the park, making zany recovery shots, and holing putts from distant zip codes. He has only two PGA Tour wins – but both of them are majors. He snatched the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont from Tiger Woods with a closing 69, buy only hit five fairways all day. That’s the stat of a guy who shoots 79 and fades, not 1-under to win. Then at the 2009 Masters, he picked up the Green Jacket that Kenny Perry dropped on the ground while waiving to the crowd.
But Cabrera also won those two majors despite playing some shockingly bad golf shots: grounders, goofy slices, pull-hooks, trees, ditches – Cabrera hits some of the loosest shots of any major champion you’ve ever seen, Phil Mickelson included. Sure enough, there he was this year letting the lead slip away with ugly bogeys at 10 and 13, and a mere par at the 15th. It looked like Scott would get more of a challenge from fellow Aussie Jason Day, but Day – normally rock solid, inexplicably bogeyed 16 and 17 to leave the stage empty for Scott.
But suddenly Cabrera put his evil twin back in the trunk of the car and started playing real golf again…just in the nick of time. Cabrera birdied 16 and we were tied.
That’s when the mundane turned magnificent. We didn’t get much of a Masters all week, but we got a great finish in the clutch. Scott, playing 18 directly in front of Cabrera rolled in a 25-foot putt seemingly to seal the deal.
“It was an 8-iron from 161 yards, and it gave me the putt you ant to have – uphill with a little right to left break,” Scott explained. “It’s the putt a lot of champions have had to win the Masters, and I said it’s my time to step up, let’s see if I can join them.”
When that bomb went in, Scott let loose a pelvic thrust that would have made Mick Jaggar blush and made the heart of every girl from Tallahassee to Tacoma skip a beat.
“I thought for a split second I had it won, but only for a split second,” Scott admitted candidly.
Smart move, Adam, because Cabrera was unflappable. You don’t win two majors by being passive. Unfazed, Cabrera shouted back with his golf clubs, and the clubs screamed, “Forget all this play-it-to-the-right-and-filter-to-the-pin nonsense, we’re going right at it.”
Cabrera threw a dart at the pin, 7-iron from 170, and put it to two feet.
Lightning just struck twice in the same place.
Scott won the playoff with a birdie at 10 in the gloaming – he made a medium length putt after Cabrera missed one a shade longer, and we got a proper champion: a young Turk in full ascension, one who’ll stay competitive for many years to come and who will proudly carry all the hopes and rich golf history of Australia on his back. It’s redemption for his horrific crash and burn at last year’s British Open.
“I had to make that one – it was getting to dark to play any more,” quipped the affable Scott.
The sparkling finish brought to an end an otherwise flaccid and scandal-scarred Masters. Nonsense, weirdness, and controversy overshadowed the first three days.
First there were the “apparel scripts.” Sadly, golf tournaments are now fashion show competitions as well, with players required to wear what the clothing manufacturers tell them.
“It’s bad enough everyone acts the same, now they have to all dress the same? They can’t even dress themselves?” jibed one irreverent Twitterer.
“Look what team Taylor Made is wearing! How bold and daring,” joked another.
If a golf tournament is now also a fashion show, everyone gets failing marks for either being too milquetoast or too self indulgent. For goodness sake, Ricky Fowler looked fluorescent even in purple, and in that chartreuse thing he looked like a Key Lime pie with hair. Ask yourself, do you really want to wear that crap on the golf course? Hey everybody, let’s all shoot 99 and look stupid!
Then there was the NASCAR-like jostling on the leaderboard. From Friday through most of the back nine on Sunday, no one went on a run. Players either treaded water – giving back the birdies they made with mental mistakes – or slowly percolated downward. The usual puzzling stranger – Marc Leishman this year – managed to stay in the mix all four days, more because no one ran away and hid. And for Pete’s sake, Bernhard Langer was even within haling distance of the lead on Sunday
Bernhard Langer? Are you kidding me? Wasn’t he fossilized in amber eons ago? He was, actually, but they defrosted him so he could throw it back to the Triassic period. I’m surprised he didn’t play in a saber-tooth tiger skin and wooden club like in the B.C. comic strip. Cue Johnny Hart and his buddy Mort Walker.
But even with Scott and Cabrera’s late heroics, the defining shot of this year’s Masters was Tiger’s approach on 15 which caromed off the flagstick and into the water, and effectively resulted in Woods possibly losing a shot at being in the playoff with Cabrera and Scott.
It was defining for another reason – it once again defined Tiger Woods as selfish, self-indulgent, opportunistic, tone deaf to criticism, and flat out greedy – greedy for money, sponsors, applause, attention, and most of all Nicklaus’s major championship record, by hook or by crook, because he considers it his birthright. And if he would have won this tournament it would have been stolen by a crooked twisting of the Rules into yoga-like contortions that were never intended.
The primary purpose of the rules is to protect the field. With discretionary application of disqualification rules, the field is now striated into a star system. We all feared that to be the case on the PGA Tour, but now we have proof positive, and all golf looks bad. Let’s review:
Woods intentionally – indeed, willfully – took a drop two yards back from the proper position to give himself an advantage on the next stroke. He said those words on TV for all the World to hear.
Golf has a number of obscure or confusing rules, but the Drop Rule, 26-1, is NOT one of them. Tiger has been playing golf daily for 35 and a half years. He knows damn well you don’t drop two yards back to get a more favorable distance.
This wasn’t an innocent mistake. He said so himself in that damning interview.
He broke the rules in a manner intended to gain an advantage.
He did not assess himself the required penalty.
He signed his scorecard for fewer strokes than he truly earned.
And the tournament committee fell on its own sword because they didn’t catch him, someone else did.
Designed to combat the unfairness inherent in some microscopic infraction of the Rules no one might have seen or anticipated, Rule 33-7 let’s you keep a guy in a tournament in these circumstances:
“A penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the committee such action warranted. If a Committee considers that a player is guilty of a serious breach of etiquette, it may impose a penalty of disqualification under this Rule.” Rule 33-7.
What are exceptional individual cases? Gee! ESPN, Augusta, and CBS neglected to tell us that! Here’s what the Rules Decisions go on to explain:
“A Committee would not be justified under Rule 33-7 in waiving or modifying the disqualification penalty prescribed in Rule 6-6d if the competitor’s failure to include the penalty stroke(s) was a result of either ignorance of the Rules or of facts that the competitor could have reasonably discovered prior to signing and returning his score card.”
As one Internet commentator pointed out, “All three of the examples used to exempt a player from disqualification have to do with HD video, slow motion video, or a camera with a high-powered zoom lens. None of those would be needed to see Tiger’s rule infraction. A simple understanding of the rules would allow you to know Tiger was taking an illegal drop…”
Moreover, taking an illegal drop is a “serious breach of etiquette” as defined under the Rules. It was an affirmative act illegally done to gain an unfair advantage. He should have been gone – out the door, Dairy Queen, do you want sprinkles on that?
Instead, the tournament committee read “Exceptional Individual cases” rather literally: that we’ll waive the rule for exceptional individuals! Tiger Woods is exceptional, someone else is not. Tiger brings in casual eyeballs, someone else does not. Tiger is chasing Jack’s record, someone else is not. Money talks, chumps walk.
The Rules must bind everyone, high and low, or they aren’t rules at all.
This sends the worst message possible, and CBS and ESPN are just as complicit as the Masters tournament in the sweep-up of the mess under the rug. No one else in the media got the chance to ask hard questions and, instead, they just lobbed softballs to help the tournament committee put a brave face on the mess. Even poor Nick Faldo had to do an about face or perhaps risk never covering another Masters again. One minute he’s shouting that Tiger should be disqualified, the next, “of course he shouldn’t be.”
But those who aren’t beholden to help maintain a code of silence and don’t put their employers’ TV contracts with Augusta National at risk are more outspoken. Take FoxSports Broadcaster Steve Czaban, who wrote, “Tiger Woods is the black hole of his sport. Everything gets bent in his orbit. Announcers and their sense of professionalism. Sponsors and their sense of dignity. Commissioners and their concept of equality. And now the rules. Again. Like the half ton boulder in Arizona that was rolled aside for Tiger by a half dozen volunteers looking to get on SportsCenter.”
Meanwhile the perpetually impenitent Woods just went on with his “What? Me worry?” act just like he did before the sex scandal showed everyone what a cretin he truly is. This incident now confirms that he needs to be watched for being a Cheetah on the golf course as well as off the course. He hasn’t changed one bit and all professional golf is repeating their mistake by doubling down on his lowest common denominator act. Woods is still the same vacuous, morally vacant phony he ever was.
“I think he shud (withdraw),” 2001 British Open winner David Duval said Saturday via Twitter. “He took a drop to gain an advantage.”
“I’ve been asked if Hogan would have WD’d in Tiger’s situation. I thought about that last night. I think so. Jones and Nicklaus, for sure,” agreed Hall of Fame golf writer Dan Jenkins.
“The landing of the drop must first be ANAP to last shot played. Just about anybody can drop a ball within a foot of that, 2yd = 2 far away,” said fellow pro Stu Appleby.
“If Tiger were to have won, this would forever have been known as the Masterisk,” concluded Sports Illustrated writer Gary Van Sickle.
But in the end, we didn’t need Woods, as we usually don’t. We got a riveting finish, a proper champion, a clean, non-controversial result, and all Australia is ringing with the cheering.
“I reckon it’s time for a beer,” fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy said, and he’s right. It’ll wash away some of the bad taste left after this weird Masters. Make it a Foster’s…and, Adam, good on ya, mate. See you at Merion.
NEWS, NOTES, AND QUOTES
Cabrera never birdied 18 in any final round on Sunday until yesterday.
This was the second playoff in a row at the Masters and three in last five years. It was the sixteenth playoff in Masters history and the tenth in sudden death format. None have lasted longer than two holes.
Cabrera eats steaks, he smokes cigars, drinks a lot of wine, has swarthy good looks, yet a frumpy physique, how can you not love him? He’s the Latin world’s proper rejoinder to Darren Clarke. On 10 in the playoff, he outdrove Scott with a 292-yard iron!
Rising star Michael Whitehead – “How ridiculous do celebrations look with a long putter?”
Anchored putters have now won all four majors.
Nick Faldo, (the only man to win two Masters in playoffs) – “Augusta National is the most nerve-wracking golf course in the world.”
“I’m psyched the cute boy won,” said every hot chick everywhere.
Once again, Cybergolf does a great job with my Masters wrap-up. Also be sure to check out Marino Parascenzo’s work from the tournament as well.
From my article:
“And for Pete’s sake, Bernhard Langer was even within hailing distance of the lead on Sunday
Bernhard Langer? Are you kidding me? Wasn’t he fossilized in amber eons ago? He was, actually, but they defrosted him so he could throw it back to the Triassic period. I’m surprised he didn’t play in a saber-tooth tiger skin and use a wooden club like in the B.C. comic strip. Cue Johnny Hart and his buddy Mort Walker.
But even with Scott and Cabrera’s late heroics, the defining shot of this year’s Masters was Tiger’s approach on 15 that caromed off the flagstick and into the water, and effectively resulted in Woods losing a chance at the playoff with Cabrera and Scott.
Also check out Steve Czaban’s excellent undressing of
Cheetah…err…Tiger Woods and his playing fast and loose with the drop rules.
“Tiger Woods is the black hole of his sport. Everything gets bent in his orbit. Announcers and their sense of professionalism. Sponsors and their sense of dignity. Commissioners and their concept of equality. And now the rules. Again. Like the half ton boulder in Arizona that was rolled aside for Tiger by a half dozen volunteers looking to get on SportsCenter…Again, this was not a microscopic wobble of a ProV1 in HD on a bunker slope. This was a WRONG DROP!.”
“If you want excitement, the Masters is the benchmark, it owns the freehold.” – FoxSports Broadcaster Steve Czaban
It’s Arnie hitching up his pants, it’s Jack raising his putter in exaltation, it’s Tiger fist-pumping and another improbable shot drops in the Cup, and it’s the pines ringing with the cheering as the newly-minted winner dons his Green Jacket and begins planning next year’s dinner.
Most of all, the Masters is the most exciting tournament in golf. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’s first Masters win, let’s take a look back at the most magical Masters of the last 50 years.
10. Ben Crenshaw in 1995
Everybody loves Gentle Ben. When he first came out on tour after a scintillating amateur career, he was hailed as “the cute Jack Nicklaus.” [Author's Note: What did that make Jack??!!] He had a flock of shapely adorables called “Ben’s Wrens,” the smoothest swing this side of Sweetwater, and the putting stroke of Harry Houdini himself.
But he always had a tough time at the majors. When it got down to the nitty-gritty, Ben suddenly folded faster than a Chinese laundry. He’d been runner-up five times, and at least once in each of the Masters, British Open, U.S. Open, and PGA Championship. Then came 1984 when he did was expected of him: win a putting contest on the back nine at Augusta.
Cut to 1990 and there’s Ben, two years shy of 40. He hadn’t won in a while, and entered the tournament as an afterthought, one step short of being relegated to ceremonial status. Suddenly he materialized out of a black and white movie reel to steal every heart in Golfdom playing for the memory of his friend and mentor Harvey Penick, who had passed just days before.
It was Penick who gave Ben one last putting lesson before Harvey left us to go play the Great Golf Course in the Sky: “Take two practice strokes on the green before you putt. Don’t let the head of the club pass your hands on the stroke.”
Harvey left out one last instruction: “Then put on the Green Jacket.”
Ben all but ran the table on the back nine on Sunday, one putting the ninth, 12th, 13th, 16th, and 17th for a closing 68 and a one-shot victory over Davis Love. His tears for his friend were every bit as poignant and moving as Bubba Watson’s last year.
9. Bubba in 2012
It’s a good thing Louis Oosthuizen owns a major because to lose a Masters he had won and where he carded a double eagle on Sunday might decimate a lesser man. But Bubba fired a sparkling 32 on back then won the playoff with the shot of the century: a screaming hook with a wedge from out of the woods off of pine straw to a tucked pin with the Green Jacket in the balance.
Could he repeat? Maybe. If he does repeat, let’s hope he does dinner better than he did this year. I could get the same meal at Roscoe Chicken and Waffle House in L.A. any time I want. (Kidding! Kidding!)
8. Gary Player in 1978
Here was another well-decorated champion thought to have been entering the winter of his career, who instead drank deeply from the fountain of youth to win his third Masters title. With a final round 64, including seven birdies on the final 10 holes, Player rallied from seven strokes back the last day to outrun defending champion Tom Watson, reigning U.S. Open champion Hubert Green, and tour veteran Rod Funseth. Players 64 is still the lowest final round score by any Masters champion.
7. Larry Mize in 1987
Remember that poker movie “Rounders?” When Matt Damon says “If look around the table and you can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you”? Don’t go telling that to Larry Mize. He looked to be the squire at the joust with heavyweights Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman staring him down in a three-way Masters playoff. Mize was supposed to win little stuff like Citrus Opens and Life Insurance Classics. But with that 100 foot pitch in…Whoops! Move over George Archer and Charles Coody, and tell Gay Brewer the news: You’ve go company in the “How did I get here?” file.
Meanwhile, the Green Jacket went well with that lavender and violet shirt he wore that day. Talk about seeing a shark on a mountaintop…
6. Tom Watson in 1977
We always remember Watson and Nicklaus’s 1977 British Open “Duel in the Sun” at Turnberry (where their nearest pursuers were ten shots back), and Watson’s chip in at 17 to steal the 1982 U.S. Open from Jack at Pebble Beach, but the first of their three storied battles was at the 1977 Masters when Jack shot a final round 66 to vault into contention. But Watson stayed steady, closed with a 67, and held on for a two-shot victory.
5. Phil in 2004
Phinally! After multiple heartbreaks and close calls, Phil Mickelson won his first major championship in epic fashion, and roaring on the pines rang from Augusta, Georgia to Augusta, Maine. Down three with six to play to an invincible-looking Ernie Els, Phil birdied five of the last six holes to sprint past a stunned Ernie and, after sinking the winning 15 foot putt on 18, he showed the world his impressive four-inch vertical leap. Funniest victory dance ever!
Poor Ernie! He shot a brilliant 67 to close the tournament, including eagles at eight and 13. But what can you say? Even that sterling effort got outplayed at the end. Phil became the fourth player in Masters history to win the tournament by sinking a birdie putt at the 72nd hole, joining Arnold Palmer, (1960), Sandy Lyle, (1988), and Mark O’Meara, (1998). Though Els may never win a Masters in his career and forever remember this one as “the one that got away,” he has nothing to hang his head over. This was just the magic of the Masters in full ascension – a miracle Sunday charge for the ages.
4. Woods in 2001
Winning an unprecedented fourth consecutive professional major title, Tiger Woods captured the 2001 Masters with a blistering four day total of 16-under. Woods’s nearest pursuers were mega-stars David Duval (274) and Phil Mickelson (275), so this was anything but a cakewalk over a bunch of chumps, (though everyone else looked like one when compared to Woods at the time. Being consistently outshone by him was an occupational hazard to a pro golfer back then).
It was sports dominance of the highest order. Generations will pass before the feat is ever equaled or surpassed. Too bad he couldn’t marry his putter and take his driver for a mistress, he might have passed Jack’s record by now.
3. Nicklaus in 1975
Hey, Steven Soderbergh! Let’s get Brad Pitt to play Jack, George Clooney will be great as that wisenheimer Johnny Miller, and rope in Andy Garcia to play a hapless and surly Tom Weiskopf. (Whoopie Goldberg can play the caddie.) It’ll a smash hit! Box office lightning!
Seriously though – three of the four best players in the world at that time putting on a birdie-palooza down the stretch before Nicklaus finally pulled away with a Tom Watson-esque bomb at 16, winning his fifth Green Jacket. The war dance Jack and his caddie did when that putt fell was a quintessential Masters time capsule moment.
As an aside, nobody owns 16 like Nicklaus.
By the way, for those of you scoring at home, Lee Trevino was the fourth best player of that era, but because he couldn’t draw the ball, he almost never contended at Augusta.
2. Woods in 1997
Hello, World. After opening with a dismal 4-over 40 on the front nine Thursday, Woods steamrolled everyone on his way to a record-setting performance, breaking the 72 hole aggregate scoring record, the record for largest margin of victory, and the record for youngest winner. It was sparkling second and third round scores of 66-65 enabled him to run away from the field and make Sunday both a victory lap and a coronation.
For Pete’s sake! He had a nine shot lead going into Sunday! Only Greg Norman could have blown that. It ushered in a new dynasty in pro golf. Not long afterwards, Woods would likewise decimate St. Andrews and Pebble Beach with similar dominating, record-shattering performances.
1. Nicklaus in 1986
“Jack killed more foreigners than Eisenhower,” quipped Dan Jenkins, referring to the day Nicklaus hung the moon, the stars, and the Sun, winning his sixth and final Green Jacket after a final round 65. With Seve, Norman, Langer, Lyle, and Price all ahead of him, “Jack needed a visa just to get on the leaderboard,” but a back nine 30 including a sizzling 5-under stretch from 13-17 powered him past the entire United Nations Security Council. If only our government could do the same thing.
DUCK! PHIL’S GOT A NEW CLUB AGAIN!
Phil Mickelson loves to tinker. First it was two drivers, then I was no driver, then it was no 3-wood, then it was 80-degree wedge, (or something like that)…now it’s “Phrankenclub,” a cross between a driver and 3-wood which is supposed to hit the ball out of sight, but not into the rough or trees. Phil was a pedestrian 8 of 14 today. Let’s come up for some slogans for Phil and the marketing folks over at Calloway!
Top 10 Slogans for Phil’s Phrankinclub
10. Does this mean Amy is “Bride of Phrankenclub”?
9. Phreakin’ club!
8. Because dumb jokes about werewolves and zombies are so last year.
7. Plays lousy, but goes great with those alligator shoes and belt.
6. Oh, but it looks good on YOU, though…as Al Czervik said to Judge Smails.
5. Because people would laugh at you if you said you carry a 2-wood.
4. Because Phil just loves half-baking useless contraptions.
3. If you think this is bad, don’t ask about the chemistry set Phil had as a kid!
2. It’s not really for golf…it’s for the theatre premiere of the remake of “Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters.”
1. Oh well, at least it beats a three hour ride on the media bus to Kiawah Island…