Archive for January, 2012
Want to play Augusta National-like conditions?
Who wouldn’t, right? Augusta National has set the standard for playing and aesthetic conditions for years — probably since it was first televised in 1956. Alas, very few of us will ever experience Augusta National as a player nor many more of us the conditions seen at any of the Major Championships.
However, you can contribute to better conditions at every course you play — especially at your home course.
Take in the following: As many of you may know, I’ve been working at Picacho Hills Golf Club. Their bunker project is humming along nicely and we are expecting a fully operational facility for the spring.
A recent meeting with the membership spawned this idea for my column. I don’t think we players have any idea how much time and effort the pro shop and maintenance staff put in to ensure our golfing experience at its best. The PHCC staff and I have spent hours discussing how best to handle our construction areas and how much of the course needs to be shut down to accomplish the project. The discussions have involved the pro shop staff, maintenance staff, general manager and me. Balancing the desires of members against project efficiency (how long to finish the job) and cost was at the root of the meetings.
What does this have to do with course conditioning? Directly, not much. But it led me to think about how much time these people spend at their jobs. I’m less familiar with what the golf professionals’ and general managers’ commitment levels are like, but I imagine it is similar to golf-course superintendents. My work most often involves the superintendents and I am continually impressed with their devotion to their jobs. The overwhelming majority (and I’ve worked closely with hundreds) bring a grandmother’s housekeeping focus to their jobs — and why shouldn’t they? Many spend more time at their jobs than they do at home during long stretches of the season.
I am privileged to be able to attend the regional chapter meetings of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. The actual owners of courses might not be too pleased to hear it, but at those meetings each course is associated with its golf course superintendent.
So, at the chapter meetings, it’s not uncommon that you might hear something like, “The next meeting is going to be at Joe’s,” — meaning the course where Joe is the superintendent. Certainly, there’s a matter of convenience in referring to a person at the meeting rather than the (usually much longer) name of the course such as: Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe. However, there is a certain recognition of the person’s commitment to the facility they manage as well.
So, let’s look at how a golf course superintendent’s “ownership” of a facility might translate into better playing conditions for its patrons. With an adequate budget matching a superintendent’s enthusiasm for his/her job, it’s obvious that the course should be — and most often is — in excellent condition. It’s like visiting the home of someone who has a full-time housekeeper. However, when a superintendent is asked to strive for the same level of conditioning without the commensurate dollars, the maintenance staff becomes much more aware of each player’s mussing of their “house.” Think of what it might mean to you if visitors came to your house and didn’t wipe their feet, discarded papers on your floor, or ignored spilled drinks. You’d think they didn’t respect you or your home, right?
In preparation for this article, I sent an email out to a number of superintendents that I know.
I asked them to complete the following sentence: “If I could get our patrons to do these things (insert one or more things) it would help the conditioning of our course so much.” The responses were consistent and, not surprisingly, they often toned down their desires with at least a hint of deferment to the patrons as the source of the course’s revenue. There’s nothing magical or mysterious about what they ask. Simply consider that you are a visitor and behave as you would have a visitor in your own house.
Among the most consistent requests were: 1. Repair ball marks and fill/replace divots, 2. Carefully rake bunkers and enter and exit from the low side and not up the faces, and 3. Stay on cart paths as much as possible, and/or as instructed by the starter.
And finally, there was a plea for players to respect the maintenance and pro shop staffs.
Thank them when you have the opportunity and take reasonable care to avoid hitting them when they are working on the course.
None of us are perfect. We all forget or get too rushed on occasion. Sometimes the pressure to stay ahead of the group behind you will lead us to neglect our housekeeping duties. This shouldn’t happen.
Neglect your cell phone or the beverage cart, but disregarding the conditioning of the course isn’t only a detriment to your game, it’s disrespectful to those that pour their heart and soul into your experience.
A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces in January 2010. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects and is executive director for the Rio Grande Golf Course Superintendents Association. Comment and view past articles at her blog: http:// roadholeshorts17.wordpress.com.
I recently read an online article on the Foxnews.com website predicting golf events for the coming year. There were some interesting points, some really lame forecasts, and a few outlandishly humorous projections, but at least the author warned us with the title of “Some Bold Predictions for 2012”. Here’s my shot at some bold (and facetious) predictions.
As you might expect, golf’s big names will be in the news:
Tiger Woods – Tiger showed some signs of getting his game in shape at the end of last year. The win at the Chevron World Challenge meant more to sports writers than it did to him. Assuming he can avoid more injuries or social faux paus, I think he will win again…see below.
Phil Michelson – Phil puts his foot in his mouth once again as he “tweets” disparaging remarks about the one of the major championship layouts in an attempt to further his golf design career.
Yani Tseng and Lexi Thompson – Lexi starts hot, but Yani improves on her incredible 2011 season. While Lexi earns rookie of the year awards, the media only give her mild kudos and her first full season is labeled a disappointment and although it’s spun many different ways, it’s really because she didn’t push Yani enough.
Luke Donald continues to pile up the money, without the commensurate media attention. Finally, Donald wins a major. Unfortunately, this long quest for success will lead to a deflation of his game.
Michelle Wie finally has her fill of Annika’s comments that she doesn’t take the game seriously enough. On the golf channel’s “Morning Drive”, Michelle lets Annika know that she already has a mother.
Rory McIlroy again shows us parts of Augusta National that we never knew existed.
The USGA will adopt a new advertising series directed at increasing the number of golfers. Arnold Palmer will be the spokesman. In one segment, a miniaturized Arnie is standing in the bottom of an 8 inch hole saying “Jack, you were always griping that the hole wasn’t large enough and I doubt 8 inches will be enough either.”
The USGA will appoint a special committee to consider the long putter issue. The focus of the group is on whether or not the club can touch any part of the body except the hands during a stroke. Four of the seven committee members are a bit on the hefty side and they unanimously vote against the rule change because, “when we hit it fat, the club sometimes comes in contact with our stomach and we think a penalty would be obesely punitive.”
Master’s winner: Keegan Bradley; U.S. Open winner: Tom Watson; British Open Winner: Luke Donald; PGA Championship Winner: Bubba Watson. Tom Watson returns to a course he played during his college days, taking the long route through the qualifiers. He becomes the oldest player to win a major.
Kraft Nabisco Championship: Yani Tseng; Wegmans LPGA Championship Yani Tseng repeats; U.S. Open: Michelle Wie; Ricoh British Open: Suzann Petterson.
The LPGA is adding five events this year. Three will be in North America (Canada has one), a fourth in Hawaii, and the final new event will be in Australia. While the majority of the new tournaments focus on U.S. interests (viewership was up 38% last year) the LPGA still appears destined to the world stage. With the inclusion of The Evian Masters in 2013 as a fifth major, the international flavor of the LPGA will be further enhanced. It won’t happen this year, but watch for hints of a “world tour” which I predict will come in the next five years.
Santa Teresa Country Club will be sold and converted to an 18 hole course.
Sonoma Ranch Golf Course will be handed over to the Las Cruces Country Club group in advance of the actual sale.
A developer will buy the old Las Cruces Country Club site and build a Costco at the corner of Main and Solano. The remaining frontage on Main will eventually be sold as satellite (aka fast food stores) commercial sites. A nine hold executive length course will be developed on the remaining property.
A major player in the Las Cruces Golf scene will retire.
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 01/13/2012
by Mary Armstrong
Patrick Hanlon does a three-peat in the Las Cruces City Tournament.
Virgin Galactic announces that they will be sponsoring the Virgin Galactic Cup on the LPGA tour in Las Cruces in 2013.
A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces in January 2010. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects, which provides planning, designing, permitting and construction monitoring services for golf course projects. Mary is also the Executive Director for the Rio Grande Golf Course Superintendents Association. You can comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog: https://roadholeshorts17.wordpress.com/.
“Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg, The Batmobile lost a wheel and the joker got away. Hey!” It’s the third time that I’ve heard Rich Beem’s “leave a message” ditty and I’m wishing I didn’t have it memorized.
As I’m fine tuning my substitute article necessitated by not being able to interview Rich in time, he finally returns my call.
Originally, I thought that an article about Rich Beem just prior to the New Year’s weekend was a no-brainer. What could be better than the an article about a guy that was once known as the party animal of the PGA Tour during the year’s most heartily celebrated holiday (at least in terms of alcohol consumption)?
And while Rich in no way denies the things Alan Shipter wrote in “Bud, Sweat and Tees: A Walk on the Wild Side of the PGA Tour in 2001,” he laughingly says he hasn’t read it.
“But, the parts I’ve seen and heard about are pretty much accurate,” he said. “That was me then.” It’s not as though he wanted to avoid talking about those years, in fact, Rich seems to relish the antihero worship that comes with those often outlandishly wild events.
Beem continues his remarks: “This is me now. Sure, there’s a time to have fun, and as a friend of mine says ‘Never threaten me with a good time.’ ” After a stretch of several years in playboy heaven, Rich married Sara Waide in 2001 and his wild ways were behind him, replaced by a more earnest commitment to his game — funny how you hear that about so many PGA tour players.
I had gotten Rich’s phone number from his dad, Larry who still lives here in Las Cruces. I asked Rich about his allegiance to Las Cruces as his home town. Rich is quick to affirm his feeling that Las Cruces is home to him. His father’s job brought him here in 1998, and Rich attended Las Cruces High.
“I was a Bulldawg,” quips Beem. To which I reply “it could have been worse.” You get the feeling that Rich is never without a one-liner as he quick as a flash says, “Yeah, I could have been a Trojan.” No comment.
The telephone line drops.
Shortly he calls back, “Sorry about that, I’m out running some errands because Dad is on his way over for a visit (Rich currently lives in Austin, Texas) … I just hope that he’s bringing me some of Nopalito’s green chili salsa — can’t get enough of it.” In the past he’s indicated he’s from El Paso, but Las Cruces is home for him.
“I lived in Las Cruces for about 18 months after I went on tour, but after I won, my accountant told me I needed to move out of New Mexico.” I redirect the conversation back to his current life.
“I’ve got two kids now and, you know, when it’s time to work, that’s what I focus on.” But you get the feeling that Rich will never be a stick-inthe-mud. The Beem family has grown to include a young son (age 8) and daughter (age 6).
“Great age for Christmas,” I say. “You got that right,” replies Rich.
The twinkle in his voice speaks volumes.
Our conversation drifts back to his most memorable tournament wins. He simply says, “I liked them all — the PGA is, well the PGA and the Kemper Open was my first and I kind of came out of nowhere — that was fun.” I said, “I liked The International win the best, I vividly remember watching it on TV when I was back in New Hampshire.” The International was a unique tournament that utilized a modified stableford scoring system. Points were awarded for a given score. The better the score for a given hole, the higher the points, so while a birdie was worth 2 points, an eagle was plus 5, and a three-underpar double eagle a plus 8.
Rich graciously replies, “thank you.” He implies that he thought he had that one in the bag as he drove off the 18th tee and walked up the fairway. Suddenly, a huge crowd roar funnels up from the 17th. “David Feherty was walking along for the television coverage,” says Rich.
“I looked at him and put three fingers up for an eagle on the par 5. Feherty looks at me and shakes his head holding up two fingers, to which I gave him a shocked look and one finger (use your imagination). ” But Rich wasn’t derailed by Steve Lowery’s 8-point hole, as he holed his par and Lowery missed a six-footer on 18 to win. As you might imagine, Beemer is full of stories and interesting sidelights. When I asked him about the freak accident at the 2000 MCI Classic in Memphis, he groans.
“You must have thought, ‘What the hell!’ ” I said.
A runaway cart hooked one of the gallery ropes and stakes were uprooted and flying everywhere. The rope whipped around and flipped Beem over, landing on his back and neck.
Rich said the medical staff was there immediately and he later learned that he had been unconscious for a couple of seconds. As he regained his focus, he realized that the EMTs were telling him not to move, that they were afraid he had broken his leg.
“As the EMT started to cut my pants leg to take a look, I remembered that I didn’t have any underwear on. At the time, I only had 100 percent cotton slacks and the hot, humid Memphis weather was just killing me. I had decided to forego the underwear in hopes that I wouldn’t get so worn out at the end of the round,” Beem said.
“So they are trying to hold me down and as the scissors are coming up my leg I’m trying to stop them. Finally I just yelled out ‘don’t go any further,’ when they got past my knee.” Larry, Rich’s father, says that Rich didn’t really start playing much golf until Larry brought his family back to the U.S. from Germany in 1987. Rich really learned the game at White Sands as his Dad managed the course and served as golf professional.
Things didn’t go so well for Rich at Q-school this year as he needed to qualify for his tour card.
“Bad luck — I was on the wrong side of the pairings and got hit with 40 mph winds and a six-hour round,” he said.
I called Rich specifically to find out what his plans were now that he didn’t have his tour card. The answer to that question came fairly quickly in our talk as he told me he was getting ready to go to Johannesburg, South Africa, for the first European tour event.
“I’ve still got full exempt status on the European tour.” At 41, Rich Beem may not have his best golf ahead of him, but you wouldn’t know that by what he says.
“I’m swinging the best I have all my life.” Even after major back surgery to take out part of a disk he’s as optimistic as always.
As Larry says, “he always thought he could do anything.”
A golf architect in New Hampshire for more than 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces in January 2010. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects and the executive director for the Rio Grande Golf Course Superintendents Association. You can comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog: http://roadholeshorts17.wordpress.com/.