Blog 99, 2/21/11 - Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Extension, Baddeley and Couples, Lake Padden WGT Results

Extension #7 at the CDA Casino Resort
The Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel in the tiny village of Worley, ID just doesn't know when to stop. Since opening as a small bingo operation housed in a non-descript aluminum shed nearly 18 years ago, there have been six extensions and, according to Business Review USA, its annual rate of growth the past six years has been an incredible 12-15%.
Two years ago, work started on the seventh extension, an $85million development that will add a 15,000sqft spa, a high-end steakhouse, a pub area called Yap-Keehn-Um ('gathering place' in the Coeur d'Alene's Salishan language), a ten-acre 'front yard' with an amphitheater that will stage concerts and other outdoor events, and two four-storey buildings with 98 new contemporary hotels rooms that will take the total number of rooms at the resort to 300.
With three months to go until opening day there is still a lot of work to be done, but a walk through what is really just a shell of a building (plus a peak at the artist's renderings) is enough to tell you it's going to be pretty special.
"The expansion is going to add a whole new dimension to the resort," tribal spokesman Bob Bostwick told me. "It's spectacular, coming regardless of recent economic conditions and consistent, I believe, with the tribe’s willingness to always move ahead."
Look for the 'Long Weekend' review coming in May or June.

Welcome back
As an adopted Washingtonian (and because he has always been my second favorite golfer - after Seve), I was really disappointed Fred Couples didn't go all the way at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera CC yesterday, and become the third oldest winner in PGA Tour history. Despite suffering with his persistently painful back, the 51-year-old averaged 296.7 yards per drive for the first three rounds of the tournament and hit 74.07% of the greens (his stats suffered a bit after an indifferent final round). Couples's Caddie Joe LaCava said his boss is still as good as the young guys. "Age is a factor, sure, but not to the point where he can't play," he added. "He's in good shape and hits it just as far or farther than these guys. And he's got experience." And Aaron Baddeley, who won the tournament with a final round 69 and four-round total of 272 (-12), sung the Seattle native's praises too. "He still hits it great," he said of Couples. "The flight on his ball is just fantastic."
Actually, I was pleased to see Baddeley back in the winner's circle. The Aussie made his debut on the PGA Tour at the Honda Classic in 2000, a few months after winning the Australian Open as a 19-year-old amateur. I got to meet him in January 2002 when we played nine holes at Whisper Rock in Scottsdale ('research' for a magazine article). He was brilliant; I vividly remember him reaching the 604-yard last hole with a driver and a 4-iron, and shooting 30.
At the time, Baddeley was working with instructor Dale Lynch who had helped the New Hampshire native (he moved to Melbourne when he was two) develop a powerful and absolutely gorgeous swing. He was rightly mentioned in all the articles that listed the game's growing number of 'young guns'.
For reasons only he could explain, however, Baddeley decided to ditch Lynch in 2003 and start work with David Leadbetter. The union did not work well though. In 74 tournaments from the start of '03 to the end of '05, Baddeley finished in the top ten just nine times and missed 26 cuts. He began looking elsewhere for guidance but, instead of going back to Lynch who had taken him from youngster to world-beater, he tried the 'Stack and Tilt' method that was slowly taking root on the PGA Tour.
For a while, Baddeley's new swing worked well. It looked beautifully simple, and it earned him his first tour victory at the Verizon Heritage at Habour Town in 2006. He added a second title - the FBR Open in Phoenix - in 2007.
He was unable to recreate that form the rest of the year though, and in 2008 he recorded just three top-tens from 22 starts.
Baddeley went back to Lynch in March of 2009 but took a long time rediscovering the swing that made him look so promising ten years ago. The rest of '09 was a bit of a write-off  (two top-tens from 23 events), and 2010 was no better (two from 26). In his first three starts of this year, Baddeley did manage a 64 in Honolulu and a 65 in Phoenix, but finished T34 at the Sony and T37 at the Waste Management, and missed the cut in San Diego in between. Really, there was little evidence 2011 would be much different.
But he finished in an encouraging tie for sixth at Pebble Beach last week, and yesterday appeared perfectly comfortable with the lead despite Vijay Singh breathing down his neck and fan-favorite Couples playing in the same group.
"To be honest, it felt like coming home," Baddeley said of his return to Lynch. "Dale and I have spent a lot of hours together, and at times it's been frustrating, but like I said, that end product ... we knew what we were working toward, and that was the key. I'm really enjoying being able to hit a ten-yard fade or 30-yard hook again, and just have fun on the golf course. I feel like a kid again."
That sounds ominous. Baddeley was pretty good as a kid.

Congratulations to Lake Padden Men's Club President Steve Swank who won the weekend's Winter Golf Tour event - the one-man scramble - with a gross 65. Bryandt D'Hondt was second a shot back. Chuck Crest won the Division 1 Net prize with a 63 after beating Steve Frick on a scorecard playoff.

Steve sent out an email this morning reminding members that scores can be posted starting March 1st provided LPMC dues are paid by February 28th. You can drop a check in the Men's Club slot in the clubhouse, or renew online here.

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