Blog 71, 10/19/10 - Lake Padden Results, Previews; Thoughts From Open and PGA Grand Slam of Golf

Taken Saturday at Shuksan...honest
I hope you're enjoying the amazing fall weather. I've been in Bellingham for six years and this is by far the best autumn we've had in that time. The limited rain and sustained sunshine have allowed our courses to remain in spectacular condition for far longer than usual. Lake Padden's greens were back up to their usual speed only a few days after being punched, and we're still riding on the  fairways at Shuksan and North Bellingham where I actually had time for nine holes the other day. I don't remember seeing NB in better nick, ever...great job head superintendent Duane Zander.
Last year, I think all the leaves that could fall had fallen by now, and it was getting cold, wet, and dark. I really don't want to jinx it, but let's hope similar conditions remain in place at least up until the Memorial, the final event on the Lake Padden Men's Club calendar. "This is a tourney that was started a number of years ago to honor and remember long-standing members who had passed away," says club president, Steve Swank. "Although we don't have anyone in that category this year, we have chosen to continue honoring our past members by donating $1,000 to Lake Padden’s Junior Golf program in their memory."
The tournament date is Saturday, October 30th. Arrive at 7am for a cook-to-order breakfast. There will be a membership meeting, in which 2011 officers will be elected, at 8am. A shotgun start follows at 9am.
Call the pro shop at 738-7400 to reserve your tee time.

Results from Saturday's Three-Ring Circus at Lake Padden:
1st Division

Gross (66) Card/Fields, Net (62) Fuller/Banfield

2nd Division
Gross (66) Wark/Smith, Net (57) Bergstrom/Hanesworth

3rd Division
Gross (75) Epperson/Sanford, Net (58) Olsen/Peterson

Laughing Boy
Rocket Rocco
Did you see Rocco Mediate win the Open at the weekend? Except for the last day of the Ryder Cup, what happened when the final group of Mediate, Bo Van Pelt and Spokane's Alex Prugh reached the 71st hole was probably the most exciting televised golf of the year. First Van Pelt carried the pond fronting the green at the 292-yard Par 4, leaving himself a 25ft eagle putt. Then Prugh, who had eagled the hole the day before, almost holed his tee shot, the ball pitching a foot short of the hole and finishing about three feet behind it. Probably sensing his sixth tour victory slipping away, Mediate who had begun the day with a three-shot lead but struggled for most of the round, layed up from the tee with a 6-iron because he just didn't have the necessary length to fly the water. With Rickie Fowler in the clubhouse on 13-under, Van Pelt on the green with a chance to get to 15-under, and Prugh certain to move to 13-under, Mediate who was at 13-under himself, knew he needed at least a birdie. He went one better, holing his wedge shot from 116 yards for his fourth hole-out eagle from the fairway of the week. And when Van Pelt three-putted, Rocco had a two-shot lead going up the last.
But it wasn't over. Van Pelt and Prugh both made superb birdies at the 18th, forcing Mediate to hole a five-footer for par and a one-stroke victory. He rolled it in but, given that he hadn't won in eight years and was in serious jeopardy of losing his tour card at 182nd on the money list, probably not very calmly. Great stuff. Who knew the PGA Tour's Fall Series could be so exciting? 

Toms; an odd choice
PGA Grand Sham of Golf
Marketing hyperbole and bluster drives me as crazy as the next skeptical consumer. And the golf industry is every bit as guilty of trying to hoodwink an often gullible public as any - 'Unique' golf course, anyone? 'Championship' golf course? 'The only swing aid you'll ever need'? 'Adds 20 yards to your tee shots'? etc, etc.
Most of the time, the falsehoods, bloated claims, unfounded boasting, and shameless truth-bending is just plain irksome. Some times though, you just have to laugh. This morning, I received a press release from the PGA of America promoting the PGA Grand Slam of Golf which started today at Port Royal GC on the island of Bermuda. "Four of golf's biggest names have already booked a place in history as major championship winners," it started. "Now they are hoping to obtain top billing on the island paradise of Bermuda at the 2010 PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Follow all the action as the most elite field in golf sets their sights on one of golf's great events."
Where to begin, where to begin.
For starters, the whole point of this event is to bring together the year's four major champions. If there are fewer than four champions because a player wins more than one of the grand slam events (has happened five times since 2000 - Tiger Woods in  2000, '02, '05 and '06, and Padraig Harrington in 2008), it surely makes sense to invite either the player who performed best in the majors without actually winning one, or the highest ranked player in the world not already in the field. This year, the major winners were Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer. Only two of them - Kaymer and McDowell - showed up. Oosthuizen is injured and Mickelson is taking a break with his family after what has no doubt been a trying year what with his wife and mother's on-going battles with cancer and his with psoriatic arthritis. Their replacements? Ernie Els and David Toms.
Both are great players; Els a three-time major winner, Toms a former PGA champion. But with respect, neither can say they were legitimately next in line. Apparently Retief Goosen and Zach Johnson both declined. But what about FedEx Cup winner Jim Furyk, or Players champion Tim Clark? Could it be the PGA of America and PGA Tour don't exactly see eye-to-eye, and haven't done since 1968 when those who played golf tournaments for a living broke away from those that gave golf lessons?
Making a case for Els isn't too difficult. As well as his three majors, the South African has 63 victories around the world (including two PGA Tour wins this season), and has played on five World Cup teams and six Presidents Cup teams. He is ranked 11th in the world right now.
But Toms?
The 43-year-old is currently 66th in the world, and 49th on the PGA Tour money list. He hasn't won on Tour since 2006 and hasn't finished in the top-ten at a major, let alone won one, since the 2007 US Open. Kind of makes you wince at the 'most elite field in golf' and 'one of golf's great events' parts of the PGA's release.
When the tournament was first conceived (first played in 1994), it sounded like an awfully good idea. But it has lost a lot of credibility in recent years - perhaps irrevocably - as fewer actual major champions make the trip and the PGA has to rummage further and further down the rankings to find their replacements. Were the four major champions always present, and the event was played on a genuine championship course rather than some resort layout in the tropics, the PGA of America might have something. As it is, the Grand Slam of Golf has all the cachet of the ADT Skills Challenge.

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