The Augusta Model: Why Not Everywhere?



              AUGUSTA, Ga. – Nothing in sports is more revered than the Masters and it has to do in large part with Augusta National Golf Club.

The admiration is far-reaching and the tones with which people express their thoughts about Augusta National are deferential. The trip to Augusta National – the first time or the 20th time – is almost a religious experience.

Everything about the place suggests that conclusion. Amen Corner. The majestic cathedral pines. The church-like hush which can sweep instantly over the din of the galleries.

In the world of golf, only the Old Course at St. Andrews comes close to evoking the same sort of images.

Augusta National is the golf course everybody wants to play. It is also the course that makes golf course superintendents cringe because when the subject comes up, they know where the conversation is going.

Why can’t our course be so lush? Why can’t it be so green? Why can’t the fairways be so pristine and the greens so spectacular? When it comes to immaculate conditions, Augusta National sets the standard and, frankly, stands alone in that regard.

Everybody wants to feel the splendor of Augusta National at their course. They want that experience.

That’s the contradiction of Augusta National, and it has nothing to do with the course Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts founded or the major championship they envisioned and fostered. It has everything to do with modern architecture and the misbegotten impression of what golf is and should be.

Everybody says they would love to play a golf course that looks and feels like Augusta. Correct?

So why don’t course operators – public, resort, private – provide it for them? Why don’t architects build them like that? We’re not talking just about lush because that’s an impractical
objective unless you have the kind of finances to pull it off. Few facilities do in this day and age. But the things course operators can do to provide the Augusta National experience aren’t being done.

In fact, it isn’t even discussed and never has been to any significant degree. That’s the amazing thing.

Somehow, the modern model for course set-up is the U.S. Open when it should be Augusta National. Think that’s not the case? The U.S. Open has fairways 14 steps wide. It has ankle-deep rough.

Augusta National has fairways 90 yards wide. The rough is no longer than well-groomed fairways at 95 percent of the courses in the world. In the rough at Augusta National, the ball looks like it is sitting on a mat.

The pressing question, then, is why do the majority of courses in America prefer narrow fairways and frightening rough? That’s not how the Masters does it and nobody dare say Augusta National is a soft touch for fear the golfing gods might strike them down with quadruple bogeys from now until Thanksgiving. Why is the modern course predisposed to conditions mimicking the U.S. Open or PGA Championship or PGA Tour set-up over the Masters set-up?

One of these days, there’s going to be a course and its leaders who go against the grain, a course operator who decides enough is enough and is going to put the fun – Augusta-style – back
into the game. We’re going to widen fairways and cut down the rough to the point it’s almost not there. The challenge is going to be to execute and get the ball into the hole in the fewest strokes, not find the balls which have strayed from slivers of fairway off into a black hole of rough.

(There is an entirely different argument about what this would do to improve pace of play, saving the game from interminable ball searches. No, this argument is about the grandeur of the game, Augusta-style.)

When that happens, the course that’s first better be ready because it’s going to have more golfers than it can handle. It’s going to attract the masses who crave putting the fun back into golf and who, until that point, can only dream of experiencing Augusta National. Then, they will be able to experience the game as it is played in the Masters. It will change the game for the better. Now all somebody has to do is step forward and be the first. What are the chances of that?

Posted 4 years, 10 months ago at 5:37 am.

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MichAm Day 2: No Complaining, Just Birdies


BOYNE HIGHLANDS, Mich. – The weather at the 100th anniversary of the Michigan Amateur hasn’t been the best but it certainly didn’t put off Eric Lilleboe of Okemos or Francesco Ruffino of Bloomfield Hills.

They were among the first to complete Wednesday’s second round of the rain-delayed state amateur and proved once again the saying, “Nay wind, nay rain, nay golf.”

Instead of bemoaning the conditions (rain), the starts and the stops, Lilleboe and Ruffino played the game as it should be played on the Boyne Highlands Heather course. Lilleboe shot a dazzling 4-under-par 68, one better than the score posted by 16-year-old Ruffino, who played in last year’s U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay. Continue Reading…

Posted 5 years, 8 months ago at 11:04 am.

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Antingua: Apparel that’s a perfect match for Michigan


Antigua is making sure it’s a comfortable and fashionable season for golfers.

The Antigua Group, now in its 32nd year, is offering updated performance in men’s and women’s golf shirts.

Apparel technology has made huge strides in recent years and gained a lot of favor with golfers in all climates. That technology has changed the face of golf apparel. The modern golf wear ratchets up the comfort level and helps you look really good at the same time.

The golf swing is all about speed. The new materials developed by Antigua also incorporate a good dose of speed in their design and performance. Continue Reading…

Posted 5 years, 8 months ago at 7:58 am.

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Terry Schieber Returns to Michigan at Tullymore & St. Ives

        With a new focus on future growth, The Resorts of Tullymore & St. Ives has named a chief executive officer steeped in the challenges of resort operations in northern Michigan.

        Schieber is a former chairman of the state’s Golf Task Force, a position he held as a member of the Michigan Travel Commission. He takes over management of Tullymore and St. Ives after a 2 1/2-year stint as vice president of resort and golf operations for the Oceanico Group USA, based in Portugal. Schieber served as general manager for the company’s Little River Golf and Resort property in Carthage, N.C. Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years ago at 6:57 pm.

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TaylorMade Taking Orders for new R11 Driver


            TaylorMade Golf begins taking orders Thursday, January 6, for its new R11 Driver.

            The manufacturer calls it a revolutionary product and given TaylorMade’s history for doing just that with its drivers, there’s a great deal of anticipation for the unveiling.

            The R11 takes adjustability to the next level and adds to the technology a unique look with a satin white crown. It should be stunning at addess. Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 1 month ago at 12:21 pm.

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Zeno-Link is a hit Champions Tour debut


Endicott, N.Y. – Proving you can teach seasoned golfers new tricks, ZenoLink was a hot topic at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

The Champions Tour event at En-Joie Golf Club was the first professional golf event to offer contestants and pro-am participants complimentary testing by ZenoLink™, a 3-D Motion Analysis Technology that’s the cutting edge in golf swing evaluation and injury prevention.

“People just ate it up,” said Chris Welch, founder and CEO of ZenoLink.

More than 70 pros and 300-plus amateur golfers were tested, a process that began with players being videotaped from two angles hitting their tee shots on the 11th hole at En-Joie, a 441-yard par 4.

But this wasn’t your standard video analysis of a golf swing. Rather, ZenoLink’s experts in functional movement used the video images to make highly sophisticated, research level biomechanical measurements and turned that data into digital models of each player’s motion. The models were used to assess exactly how each player performed his or her golf swing, their risk of possible injury, and the possibilities for improved performance.
Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 11:41 am.

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Straight-shooter Stricker on Tiger

DUBLIN, Ohio – They are bosom buddies. In today’s world, that means they exchange text messages and their mobile phone numbers are on speed dial. Fast, efficient.

That’s Steve Stricker’s golf game, too. After a long, sad downturn in his career, Stricker took it upon himself to sort out his game. He relied on himself – nobody else – to find out what was wrong and find a way to fix it. It didn’t take as long as people might think.

Now his pal, Tiger Woods, is looking for solutions. Woods said at the Memorial Tournament that he’ll do without a swing guru now that Hank Haney no longer is on the Team Tiger roster. Woods will use the available video technology to study his swing and, like Stricker, find a way to dig it out.
Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 5:13 am.

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A Trip Through St. Andrews


It is on my short list of greatest movies ever and I’m sure that has something to do with the venue for the opening scenes of Chariots of Fire.

The British film won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1981. It is the fact-based story of Olympic champions Eric Liddell, a Scot, and Englishman Harold Abrahams.

The famous beach scenes which accompany the inspirational theme music were filmed at West Sands, the beach alongside the Old Course at St. Andrews. The very last scene of the opening credits crosses the first and 18th holes of the Old Course at St. Andrews, with the Royal and Ancient as a backdrop. A plaque commemorates the film. Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 5:06 am.

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What Question Would You Ask Woods?


Q. If you could ask Tiger Woods one question, what would it be?

A. I’d ask him what happened on Thanksgiving Day and into the next morning when he had the accident. Until he addresses that, if ever he does, there will be speculation about all kinds of things. If Woods wants the speculation to stop, there’s only one way to do it. Answer that question.

Q. Woods is being treated for addictive behavior. First, it was reported to be for sex addiction. Now we’re hearing the treatment is for addiction to sleeping pills and painkillers. Thoughts?

A. I believe the statement he made was one of the 12 steps to recovery for addicts who are being treated. I’m not an expert on the subject but those who are tell me that the apologies he made in the statement were consistent with somebody in a 12-step program.

Q. Where does Woods’ return to Buddhism fit into the 12 steps?

A. Step No. 2, as I read it, is the “decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God.” His understanding of God is Buddhism. Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 11 months ago at 12:06 pm.

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For Cabrera, Masters Makes It Twice as Nice


For Angel Cabrera, winning the Masters Tournament was a validation. There are many golfers with one major title on their resume, much fewer with two.

When Cabrera, the long-hitting Argentine, won the U.S. Open in 2007 at Oakmont Country Club in suburban Pittsburgh, it had historic and global implications. When he won a Green Jacket last year at Augusta National Golf Club, it elevated his status immeasurably. Nobody can call him a one-hit wonder now.

“It’s very important for me,” Cabrera said Tuesday during the annual pre-Masters champion’s press conference. “It signifies a lot of importance that I can win majors. It wasn’t just by luck that I won the U.S. Open. It tells me that I can get those big tournaments. It gives me a lot of merit, and it especially helps me that I can win more tournaments.” Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 11 months ago at 11:56 am.

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