Road Hole Shorts

Golf Design, golf, golf, GOLF

LPGA opens optimistic season in style

By Mary Armstrong

Published by the Las Cruces Sun News 02/10/12


The LPGA season opens this weekend in Australia. The cosmo­politan tour will be playing at Royal Melbourne (of unique bunkers) only a few months removed from the President’s cup. The inau­gural LPGA ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open will be played over the com­posite Royal Melbourne course with only minor vari­ations from what the men played last November.  While the event has been around since 1974, this is its first year as an LPGA sanc­tioned event.

It’s rare that the ladies get to play the best venues. No­table exceptions have been the 2010 U.S. Open at Oak­mont, Carnoustie for the Women’s Richo British Open last year and the Old Course at St. Andrews in 2007. The Composite Course (12 holes from the West and the rest from the East) certainly ranks with those layouts. One alter­ation from the version the men played is to revert to the traditional Composite layout, which included the par 3 — 4th from the East instead of the par 3 — 16th. The other, and perhaps biggest alter­ation, is to restore the tradi­tional 18th hole to its classic finishing spot.

As we saw with the men, the fairways are ample, but the greens and their sur­rounding contours and bunkers are not just demand­ing, but down right vexing. If you like to see the pros strug­gle (as I do) you’ll want to tune in this weekend to the Golf Channel for sure.

Six of the top ten Rolex ranking players will be play­ing, with Yani Tseng leading them. If you want to see some of the new players, there’ll be 15 rookies in the field. Lexi Thompson is kicking off her rookie year as she turns 17 to­day. Lydia Ko, the 14 year old New Zealand amateur that became the youngest to win a pro event will be there as well — although you might want to be sure and catch the youngsters before the week­end cut as Royal Melbourne is rarely managed well by the inexperienced.

Aussie Karrie Webb might seem like a good pick to win, but she hasn’t fared well in two previous tournaments at Royal Melbourne. Nonethe­less, Karrie was presented an honorary membership there this week and even some­thing as intangible as that can boost one’s game. Yani seems to be a perennial pick these days. Christel Boeljon — a second year LPGA’er — won the Gold Coast RACV Aus­tralian Ladies Masters last week.

On a course that puts such a premium on putting, it makes sense to look at those statistics. Cristie Kerr along with Ai Miyazato, Jiyai Shin, I.K. Kim, Meena Lee, Jennifer Song and Tiffany Joh were at the top of the “putts per green” in regulation statistic for 2011. Not far behind are more well-known LPGA stars Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford, Sophie Gustafson, Sandra Gal, Morgan Pressel Na Yeon Choi, and Yani.

Paula Creamer recently tweeted “I will not be playing the opening LPGA event in Australia. One of my very best friends is getting married this Saturday & I am a brides­maid!”

Watch for Nicole Castrale to make a return to the tour in March after giving birth to her first child in November.  Her husband/caddie Craig explained that she could have played now, but decided to forego the Aus-Asian swing and aim for the Donnelley Founders Cup in Phoenix March 15-19. Castrale was an off-mentioned name as a re­sult of her successful run-up to and participation in the 2009 Solheim Cup. Unfortu­nately, early in the 2010 sea­son, she suffered a season ending shoulder injury.

Seems as though she did more than rehab.

The Golf Channel is provid­ing tape-delayed coverage of all four rounds – they will be morning broadcasts here in New Mexico.

Sam Snead only male win­ner of LPGA event

It’s true! Sam played in two LPGA events — the ‘61 and ‘62 Royal Poinciana Plaza In­vitational. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that he only won the ‘62 event.

In ‘61 he lost to Louise Sug­gs by two strokes, but in ‘62 (who can figure why he came back?) he beat a 15 person field that included Mickey Wright, Patty Berg, Betsy Rawls and Kathy Whitworth by 5 strokes. He out-dueled the girls by 5 shots. He shot 211 for the two-day, four round event.

BTW, Sam needed that $1500, because his prized in­board runabout boat sank in nearby Lake Worth during the last few holes of his first round.

Picacho Hills begins the mending process

Shaping contractor Keith White has completed his part of the project and the PHCC staff is beginning the process of putting the course back to­gether. Finishing tasks — such as repairing and refining the irrigation, edging the new bunkers, fine grading and rak­ing, drainage installation, spraying on the liner, installing new sand, and finally replac­ing the saved sod — will take place over the next month.   With some cooperation from the weather, we should see the course fully in-play by the middle to end of April.


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, which provides planning, designing, permitting and construction monitoring services for golf course projects. She is also the Executive Director for the Rio Grande Golf Course Superintendents Association. Comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog, http://roadholeshorts17.



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