Len Ziehm On Golf

Two majors aren’t enough for players on the Legends Tour

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – This was a big year for the older women golfers who labored on the LPGA tour. After years of campaigning they had two major championships to compete in during the 2018 season and there was no doubt who the best player was.

England’s Laura Davies dominated. On Wednesday she was a wire to wire winner in the second Senior LPGA Championship on the Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Ind. In July she won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club by a whopping 10 strokes. That’s a Grand Slam, as far as that age group and gender is concerned.

The question now is, where does golf for these women’s stars of the past go from here. They finally have their long-coveted major championships, but not much else.

“If we could get a British Senior Open, that’d be great,’’ said Trish Johnson, the champion in the first of those senior majors at French Lick in 2017. “Who knows when that’ll be, but I’m sure it will happen eventually.’’

At least the two existing majors appear in good shape. The U.S. Senior Women’s Open, a big hit at Chicago Golf Club, has another quality venue for 2019 in Pine Needles in North Carolina. The Senior LPGA Championship is set at French Lick for three more years.

French Lick chairman Steve Ferguson and director of golf Dave Harner have shown their commitment to the senior women professionals, even taking the step of creating a Legends Hall of Fame in the West Baden Springs Hotel near the Pete Dye Course – a spectacular venue no matter who is playing on it.

For the momentum to grow, though, The Legends Tour will have to step up. The circuit created by Jane Blalock and 25 of her former LPGA colleagues in 2000 hasn’t had it easy. While the men’s PGA Tour was quick to embrace its aging stars, the LPGA has not.

While PGA Tour Champions continues to thrive for the men 50 and over, the LPGA – other than scheduling its one senior major championship – has steered clear of the players on The Legends circuit, which is open to former tour players who have reached their 45th birthday. Blalock played in the Honors Division of the second Senior LPGA at French Lick and then went home. None of her staff was utilized in the tournament’s operation, and their presence could have been helpful.

If progress is to continue for the senior women professionals it’ll apparently be up to The Legends Tour to carry the load. This segment of players needs more than two major tournaments to play in.

“I think we’ve got a good thing going,’’ said Juli Inkster, who won The Legends Championship in her first start in the circuit in 2015. “If we had six tournaments and four pro-ams that would be perfect. We don’t want to play every week.’’

The Legends had eight events on its 2018 schedule but two were pro-ams and two others were team events. Only the majors could be considered full-fledged tournaments. That’s not enough.

The greatest woman star of the recent past, Annika Sorenstam, hasn’t played a tournament since 2008 and Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel, Meg Mallon, Amy Alcott and Betsy King have rarely ventured into Legends events. The shortage of tournaments is certainly a factor. Why work hard to get your game ready for just a couple tournaments?

Some appearances by the best of the stars of the best – most notably Sorenstam — would help The Legends cause.

“A lot of our players have taken 20 years off. They just want a chance to compete,’’ said Inkster. “It was impressive at Chicago Golf Club, having the people come out to watch. Stuff like that is really special.’’

There’s enough who can still play competitively, though, and they’re a global bunch. In the final round of the Senior LPGA only three of the nine players in the last three groups were Americans and the three majors were all won by Europeans. Unlike previous years, they now have a couple of showcase events to demonstrate their talents, but that isn’t enough.

Davies completes sweep of the two major titles for senior women golfers

England’s Laura Davies celebrates her wire to wire victory at French Lick.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – There’s no doubt who the best senior woman golfer was in this first historic first year. England’s Laura Davies won both the U.S. Senior Women’s Open and the Senior LPGA Championship convincingly.

Davies was as dominant in the Senior LPGA as she was in the Open, played in July at Chicago Golf Club. Davies won that one by a whopping 10 strokes. She was a wire to wire winner in the Senior LPGA, which concluded on Wednesday on the Pete Dye Course here.

“It was a real victory for me,’’ said Davies, who won her 87th tournament world-wide with an 8-under-par 208 score for the 54 holes. “I played OK here before but never strung three rounds together.’’

Davies was third in the first major tournament for senior women professional last year when another England golfer, Trish Johnson, won the title. Davies owned the next two majors for that segment of players this year, but Wednesday’s win wasn’t as easy as her victory in Chicago.

“I had a five-shot lead (going into the last round) there,’’ said Davies. “Here I started with a three-shot lead, then it was a no-shot lead. On this course you can’t take anything for granted.’’

Davies made bogey on the first hole, then Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson posted four birdies in her first eight holes and Italy’s Silvia Cavalleri, paired with Davies, got into the mix as well. The three were tied at 5-under-par six holes into the round.

Laura Davies shows why she’s been one of the longest hitters in women’s golf for decades.

While temperatures climbed over 60 degrees for the first time this week, the winds kicked up to over 20 miles per hour. That made scoring difficult for everyone, and Davies had only two serious challengers. She passed Cavalleri before the first nine was done and was in command the rest of the way after Alfredsson made double bogey at No. 11.

“I made a mistake (hitting a ball into a bunker and leaving one recovery shot in the sand) and I couldn’t recover,’’ said Alfredsson. “You feel horrible, but it was a joy to be here.’’

No doubt Davies’ tournament schedule paid off. Alfreddson had played in only two tournaments this year, and none since the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. Davies is among the busiest players tournament-wise in the senior ranks. She plays on the LPGA, European and Legends tours.

“Not taking anything away from Laura, she’s an amazing golfer,’’ said Alfredsson, “but it’s different for players who are playing tournaments regularly. We all love to play, but you don’t know how you’ll react (if you aren’t competing regularly).’’

NOTES: Riley Children’s Hospital, the tournament’s charitable beneficiary, sends many of its young patients to the event each year but on Wednesday Genevieve Bennett Slater of Sullivan, Ind., was also on hand to introduce the players at the first tee. Now 91 years old, she was a Riley patient between the ages of 5 and 16 when she had multiple surgeries to avert a birth defect.

Sherri Turner was inducted into The Legends Hall of Fame at a pre-tournament banquet. On Wednesday she worked as a caddie for Martha Nause.

Defending champion Trish Johnson posted her third straight 73 and finished sixth. Juli Inkster, runner-up to Davies in the Senior Open, bounced back from a second-round 80 to shoot 73 and finish in a tie for12th.

Jamie Fischer, the teaching professional at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, shot 76 and was at 13-over-par 229, good for a tie for 24th in the 80-player field. Berwyn’s Nicole Jeray, who is on the teaching staff at Mistwood in Romeoville, was three shots behind Fischer overall but finishing strong. She rolled in a putt from off the green in concluding her round with back-to-back birdies.

Davies is on the brink of sweeping the two LPGA senior majors

Defending champion Trish Johnson (left) congratulates Brandi Burton on posting her stunning 66.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – England’s Dame Laura Davies, winner of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at the Chicago Golf Club in July, is poised to sweep the two major championships for senior women golfers on Wednesday (TODA).

Davies started Tuesday’s second round of the Senior LPGA Championship on the Pete Dye Course with a two-stroke lead, then promptly frittered it away with three-putt bogeys on the first and fourth holes. It didn’t take long for the long-hitting Davies to get back in the groove, however.

Birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 settled her down and after that it was clear sailing. She posted a 2-under-par 70 to hit the 36-hole stop in the 54-hole competition at 6-under-par 138. That left her two ahead of Brandie Burton, who shot a 66 – the low round of the tournament. Italy’s Silvia Cavalleri (69) and Australian Jane Crafter (71) are another shot back in a tie for third.

Davies, who won at Chicago Golf Club in July by a whopping 10-shot margin, credited a new putter for her solid play over the first 36 holes here. She saw one to here liking on the putting green and Anthony Bradley, a member of French Lick’s professional staff, had a model that Davies put in her bag for the tournament. She used it to make birdie putts of 25 feet at No. 11 and 30 feet at No. 15 on Tuesday.

Laura Davies has the Senior LPGA Championship in her grasp after a 70 on Tuesday.

The pace of play was better and so was the scoring in Round 2. Monday’s breezy first round was played in frigid weather with temperatures in the 40-degree range most of the day. Temperatures didn’t climb much on Tuesday but the sun came out and the wind died down.

“It was like night and day,’’ said Davies. “Today actually was pleasurable. Yesterday was misery.’’

“I could actually feel my hands today,’’ said Burton, who hit 16 of the 18 greens in regulation in her hot round. “I couldn’t feel my hands on the putter yesterday to save my life. It’s nice to go into the last round with confidence. It’s been a long time since I shot that number.’’

Not all the players shook off the first-round gloom, however. England’s Trish Johnson, the defending champion who is bidding for her third straight victory on the Pete Dye Course, posted a second straight 73 and is eight shots back going into the final round.

Michelle Redman, last year’s runner-up, shot 75 and Juli Inkster, the champion here in 2015, started the day in second place and dropped into a tie for 19th after shooting an 80.

Today’s champion will receive $90,000 from the tourney’s $600,000 purse.

NOTES: Shelley Hamlin, who was inducted into The Legends Hall of Fame here on Friday, passed away on Monday night following a long battle with cancer. She was 69. Hamlin enjoyed a long playing career on both the LPGA and Legends circuits.

Nancy Scranton, who developed her game while growing up in Centralia, Ill., and is also a Legends Hall of Famer, withdrew from the tournament after suffering a pinched nerve in her neck. She joined The Golf Channel broadcast team for Tuesday’s round.

The two Chicago players in the 79-player field, Berwyn’s Nicole Jeray and Lake Forest’s Jamie Fischer, are tied at 9-over par 153 entering the final round. Both improved their scores from the first round, Jeray shooting 75 and Fischer 76.

Chicago products Nicole Jeray (left) and Jamie Fischer are in the top half of the Senior LPGA field.

Davies clings to one-stroke lead after Round 1 in Senior LPGA

First round leader Laura Davies putts as playing partners Hollis Stacy (left) and Trish Johnson look on.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – Laura Davies and Juli Inkster finished one-two in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club in July, and the possibility loomed for a similar result after a weird finish to Monday’s first round of the Senior LPGA Championship here.

Temperatures in the 40-degree range and winds of 15 miles per hour made play difficult for the 80 starters in the second of the two major championships for senior women golfers. Davies bundled up with a blanket in her golf cart at times, but she was hot early in the round when she opened a three-stroke lead.

An eagle at the par-5 seventh hole triggered Davies’ fast start, but Inkster matched it at a most critical time – on her last hole. That brought Inkster to 3-under-par 69 for the day and in a three-way tie for second with Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann and Maria McBride. The trio is one stroke behind Davies.

Davies had a tough finish. She hit her tee shot on the par-3 17th hole over the green and made bogey, her lead slipping to two shots. Neumann and McBride birdied No. 18 and Inkster rolled in her 15-foot for eagle before Davies – playing in the last threesome – finished her round.

After the bogey at No. 17 Davies sent her tee shot far left on the par-5 finishing hole, the ball ending up in high grass.

“We could never find the ball,’’ said Davies. “Fortunately I made birdie on my second ball.’’

That “birdie’’ was actually a bogey on the scorecard so that created a three-shot swing with Inkster and two-shot swing with Neumann and McBride. Davies won at Chicago Golf Club by a whopping 10-stroke margin but this week’s 54-hole competition wouldn’t seem to be so one-sided.

“Winning two senior majors in one year would be incredible,’’ said Davies. “I’d love to have a chance, but you’ve got to be aggressive around here.’’

The Pete Dye Course was set up shorter than usual (about 6,100 yards) to help the players combat the chilly weather. Eight finished under par, but defending champion Trish Johnson (73) wasn’t among them. She is bidding for her third straight victory on the Pete Dye Course after finishing second to Inkster in 2015 Legends Championship here.

Neumann started her round with two bogeys, then charged back with birdies on five of the next nine holes. She did it without Mark Williams, her long-time caddie. Williams is on the bag for another player in the LPGA’s qualifying tournament.

“He left me for a younger woman,’’ said Neumann, who drew laughs with that comment after a day in which the golf wasn’t much fun.

“Our round took 5 hours 40 minutes. It was a long day out there,’’ said Inkster.

“Keeping yourself warm, that was the hardest part,’’ said McBride. “There was a lot of stopping and waiting.’’

McBride had reason to celebrate. Monday marked her 45th birthday. If it had come a day later she wouldn’t have been eligible to play in the Senior LPGA Championship. Only players who have reached their 45th birthday are eligible.

The forecast is for better weather in the next two rounds before the champion gets $90,000 from the tourney’s $600,000 purse on Wednesday. .

Senior LPGA at French Lick shows progress in women’s golf

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – This is progress, no doubt about it.

Barely a year ago there was one glaring void in the golf tournament schedule. Senior women professionals were being ignored, by both the LPGA and USGA. Now, thankfully, that’s no longer the case. That group of players, most of whom contributed so much to the growth on the LPGA, now have two full-fledged major championships to put the spotlight on their game.

The first was the Senior LPGA Championship, played here on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort last July. The second was the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open, played from July 12-15 of this year at America’s first 18-hole course – Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, IL.

Now the Senior LPGA Championship is poised for its second staging, from Oct. 15-17, with England’s Trish Johnson defending her title. She won wire-to-wire last year, finishing at 4-under-par to claim a three-shot victory over Michele Redman and a $90,000 first prize.

Dame Laura Davies, also from England, won the first U.S. Senior Women’s Open by a whopping 10 strokes over runner-up Juli Inkster three months ago and pocketed $180,000 from a $1 million purse.

Both of these championships were a long time coming. After finally committing to hold a U.S. Senior Women’s Open the USGA needed three years before finally putting on the event.

“I was just hoping I’d still be alive to play in it,’’ said JoAnne Carner, who – at 79 – was given the honor of hitting the first tee shot.

Unlike the men’s PGA Tour, the LPGA didn’t provide a circuit for its older players. That was left to former star Jane Blalock, who created The Legends Tour in 2001. Other than designating it as its “official’’ senior tour, the LPGA wasn’t involved in its operation until last year.

The Senior LPGA Championship grew out of the four-year old Legends Championship, basically a creation by Blalock, French Lick chairman Steve Ferguson and director of golf Dave Harner. They did it up right the first year, putting the tournament together with a Symetra Tour event that celebrated the centennial of the nearby Donald Ross Course – site of LPGA Championships in 1959 and 1960.

This year the Symetra and Senior LPGA events were separated, the main reason being that TV coverage was deemed a must for the Senior LPGA. Weekday dates made it attractive for The Golf Channel and October has always been a good month to showcase the bright fall colors of southern Indiana. The Symetra event remained in July.

The Senior LPGA is for players who have reached their 45th birthday but the tournament will also include an Honors Division for its older stars on Sunday, the day before the main event starts. Those 50-and-over were eligible for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

The Senior LPGA Championship will have an 81-player field and a $600,000 purse for another 54-hole competition, and players can ride at French Lick – the tourney site for at least four more years.

By comparison, the U.S. Senior Women’s Open started with 10 nation-wide qualifying rounds to whittle the 462 entries to the 120 who started the 72-hole competition at Chicago Golf Club. The Open is a walking only event that will be played at Pine Needles in North Carolina in 2019.

Will the Trish Johnson Era continue at French Lick?

Cold, rainy weather ruled the day when the Honors Division was scheduled to compete at French Lick.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – As far as tournament play on the Pete Dye Course here is concerned, this is definitely the Trish Johnson Era.

“And I hope it continues,’’ said Johnson on Sunday – the last practice day before Monday’s start of the second Senior LPGA Championship. This is the last major championship of 2018 on any of the American pro golf tours.

Johnson made her debut on the Pete Dye Course in The Legends Championship of 2016, finishing second to Juli Inkster. Inkster was making her Legends debut in that tournament. She returned to defend her title in 2017, but Johnson dethroned her in a six-hole playoff.

Trish Johnson was in a good mood for her .pre-tourney press conference

Last year, when the tournament was transformed into the Senior LPGA — and the first-ever major for the older women players – Johnson was a wire-to-wire winner. Inkster, who had a broadcasting assignment at the U.S. Women’s Open, didn’t play at French Lick last year but she’s back for this week’s tournament. That doesn’t rule out Johnson as the tournament favorite.

“Second-first-first. I love it here,’’ said Johnson. “This course suits my eye.’’

But it looks a little different going into the 54-hole tournament that tees off on Monday. The previous tournaments on the Pete Dye Course were played in July. This one is in October, and the weather hasn’t been pleasant. Temperatures were in the 40-degree range with intermittent rain for the three pre-tournament days and Monday’s forecast is for similar weather.

“Monday will be survival day,’’ said Johnson. “A round of level par would do very nicely. After that it looks like it’ll be a bit nicer.’’

Johnson has played in only nine tournaments this year and describes her play as “very intermittent.’’ She was third behind Dame Laura Davies in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club and had one Legends win, in the Suquamish Clearwater Cup.

Caddies had it as tough as the golfers did in trying to cope with Sunday’s cold weather.

This week’s 81-player field includes four World Golf Hall of Fame members – Inkster Davies, Hollis Stacy and Jan Stephenson, whose selection was announced last week – and eight countries are represented among the starters.

The field also includes the winners of four LPGA major championships and there are four Illinois players in the field headed by Berwyn’s Nicole Jeray, who was seventh in the tournament last year and accepted a teaching position at Mistwood in Romeoville earlier this week.

Jaime Fischer, a teaching pro at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, made the starting field at this week’s qualifying round. Fischer also was a qualifier for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open and survived the 36-hole cut at Chicago Golf Club. There won’t be a cut at French Lick. Other players with Illinois backgrounds in the field are Audra Burks, of Springfield, and Nancy Scranton, who grew up in Centralia.

A bundled up Martha Nause lines up a putt in the Honors Division scramble.

Hamlin, Turner are inducted into the LPGA Legends Hall of Fame

Sherri Turner celebrates her Hall of Fame induction with French Lick director of golf Dave Harner.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – Two players are inducted into the LPGA Legends Hall of Fame each year, and this year – for the first time — the two honorees were inducted on separate nights.

Shelley Hamlin was honored at Thursday night’s opening night gala preceding the Senior LPGA Championship and Sherri Turner was inducted the following night in another dinner gala that followed the event’s second Faegre Baker Daniels Pro-Am on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort.

The competition begins at noon on Sunday when the Legends Honors Division tournament tees off and the main event, — 81 players competing over 54 holes for a $600,000 purse –runs Monday through Wednesday with The Golf Channel broadcasting the action from 4-6 p.m. (EDT) each day. The champion receives $90,000.

Both induction ceremonies were held at the French Lick Resort, and Hamlin and Turner will be included in the Legends Hall of Fame room at the nearby West Baden Springs Hotel. Honorees are determined off the significant impact that each has made on both the LPGA and Legends tours. In the case of Hamlin and Turner, the inspiration that they demonstrated during their careers was instrumental in their selections.

Hamlin, who is involved in a long battle with cancer, could not attend her induction and good friend Anne Marie Palli accepted on Hamlin’s behalf. Hamlin was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991, during the heart of her playing career. She kept playing and fighting the disease after that winning three tournaments on the LPGA circuit and another on the Legends Tour.

Both Hamlin and Turner were among the 25 founding members of The Legends, for players who have reached their 45th birthday, in 2000.

“Shelley is a class act, and I’m sure she has a special feeling for this award, even though she’s in a fight for her life,’’ said Turner.

Turner, introduced by good friend of 40 years and fellow player Jane Crafter, was diagnosed with Juvenile diabetes when she was 15 and has coped with Type 1 diabetes during her professional career.

Both Hamlin and Turner were on the LPGA board of directors, Hamlin serving s president in 1980-81 and Turner on the player executive committee from 1997-99 before The Legends Tour was created.

“The Legends gave us the opportunity to continue to compete,’’ said Turner. “We all still love the game, and there’s nothing like the thrill of winning. It also allowed us to maintain life-long friendships.’’

Turner gave special thanks to Legends founder Jane Blalock and Jan Stephenson, who herself was announced as a member of the next induction class into the World Golf Hall of Fame last week.

Blalock and Stephenson were among those preceding Hamlin and Turner into the Legends Hall of Fame. Stephenson, along with Kathy Whitworth, was in the first induction class in 2013. Blalock went in with Nancy Lopez the following year. Others in the Hall are JoAnne Carner and Rosie Jones (2015), Sandra Haynie and Elaine Crosby (2016) and Sandra Palmer and Nancy Scranton (2017).

Stephenson, Blalock, Carner, Jones, Crosby and Scranton will all be competing this week. Haynie will hit the ceremonial first tee shot on Monday.

Sherri Turner’s big night is climaxed by her induction into the Legends Hall of Fame.

French Lick’s second Senior LPGA tourney will be bigger than the first

Defending champion Trish Johnson gets pro-am play started at French Lick.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – Last year the long overdue first major championship for senior women golfers was staged on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. The second playing of the event, 15 months later, will clearly be bigger and better than the original.

The inaugural staging was paired with the Donald Ross Centennial Classic, a Symetra Tour event, to create a big two weeks of tournament golf on both of the resort’s courses. This year the events were split up, with the Symetra stop remaining in July and the Senior LPGA taking fall dates that figure to made it more special.

The PGA Tour has already conducted its four major championships and PGA Tour Champions has staged its five. The LPGA has completed its five majors for the regular tour, and the senior women’s played their first U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club in July.

That means the second Senior LPGA Championship, with its $600,000 purse, will be the last professional major championship on any tour in 2018. It’ll also be the only one played entirely on weekdays. That encouraged television coverage, and The Golf Channel will carry the action live from 4-6 p.m. for the three tournament rounds beginning on Monday.

Barely a year ago there was one glaring void in the golf tournament calendar, with no major tournament for the senior women professionals who contributed so much to the growth on the LPGA.

French Lick was instrumental in correcting the problem, helping The Legends Tour put on its biggest tournament of the year for four years on the Pete Dye Course. The Legends Championship grew into the Senior LPGA Championship last year and it found a home on the Pete Dye Course as well.

First of the pre-tournament festivities for the tourney’s second playing were held on Thursday, with a gala and auction benefitting the Riley Children’s Hospital. First of two Faegre Baker Daniels Pro-Ams was held on Friday and the latest induction class into The Legends Hall of Fame – which is housed at French Lick Springs Resort –s was completed at the post-round dinner. Shelley Hamlin’s selection was announced on Thursday night.

On Sunday eight players will decide the Legends Honors Division title, with Jan Stephenson defending her crown in the immediate aftermath of her selection to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Once the tournament proper begins, however, the focus will be clearly on England’s Trish Johnson. She won the last of the four Legends Championships in 2016 by beating Juli Inkster in a six-hole playoff and led wire to wire last year in claiming the first Senior LPGA title.

Johnson was a three-stroke winner over Michele Redman in the first Senior LPGA, and they were the only players under par for the 54 holes. Inkster, who won The Legends Championship at French Lick in 2015, didn’t play in the first Senior LPGA because she was part of the broadcasting team for the U.S. Women’s Open.. Now she’s back as is England’s Laura Davies, who won the first U.S. Senior Women’s Open by a whopping 10 shots in Chicago.

The 81 starters include five members of the LPGA Hall of Fame and 19 in the field have won LPGA major titles.

Hanse’s architectural touch is now in full force at Pinehurst

It’s still called Pinehurst No. 4, but architect Gil Hanse has given the course a completely new look.

PINEHURST, North Carolina – Pinehurst Resort dates back to 1895, but its leadership has never been reluctant to change with the times. The estimable contributions of course architect Gil Hanse are just the latest examples of that.

Hanse’s portfolio had already featured the Brazil course used for golf’s return to the Olympic Games as well as restorations of such notables as The Country Club in Boston, Merion in Philadelphia and Oakland Hills in Michigan when Pinehurst announced his hiring for a more expansive project in November of 2016.

Not only was Hanse to create a short course on 10 acres of the property that had been part of two of its 18-holers, he was also entrusted with a complete redesign of one of the resort’s most popular layouts. Now that job is done.

The Cradle, its nine holes spread over only 789 yards, opened in April and has already played to more than 10,000 rounds. The latest version of Pinehurst No. 4 made its debut a week ago. It’s hard to image Hanse’s No. 4 topping the popularity of The Cradle, but time will tell.

Short courses are a sign of golf’s changing times.

Part of The Cradle’s charm is its marketing approach. For $50 you can play all day, and that’s a temptation. Playing this course, with its array of elevation changes and walkability, is addictive. Unless play happens to be too slow or the weather not to your liking, it’s hard to stop playing.

Pinehurst has been described as “The Cradle of American Golf’’ and that’s how the new short course got its name. The Nos. 3 and 5 courses lost their first holes in the Hanse design. There’s also a strategically placed bar – it’s portable and not in any way resembling a halfway house – that entices players not once but twice on their tour of The Cradle and background music also rocks the atmosphere at The Cradle.

The scorecard lists holes measured from 56 to 127 yards but that’s misleading. Yardages changes each day according to the whims of the maintenance staff, and up-to-date yardages are provided on the hole markers. We played one that measured only 30 yards on our visit.

Seeing players on every hole hasn’t been unusual since The Cradle opened.

More and more resorts are adding short courses to their amenities, and that’s a good thing. They’ll get more players involved with the game, and that fact is underscored once you get a look at The Cradle.

The course was created in a busy time frame for the resort. Not only were the Nos. 3 and 5 courses and the Maniac (America’s first driving range) being altered to make room for The Cradle, but the Thistle Dhu putting course was also moved to a more attractive location in front of the clubhouse and also expanded in a short time period.

Hanse turned his attention to Pinehurst No. 4 in the fall of 2017. The legendary Donald Ross designed the original course in 1919 and some others in the sport’s architectural elite had put their stamp on those 18 holes before Hanse got a crack at it. Robert Trent Jones did a re-design in 1973, Rees Jones in 1982 and Tom Fazio in 1999. Hanse’s was a look back as much as it was a look ahead.

The same rugged, natural look at Pinehurst No. 2 is also in evidence on No. 4.

Positive feedback from the re-design of Pinehurst No. 2 by the architectural team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2011 convinced Pinehurst leadership to give No. 4 a similar look. Hanse’s version of No.4 meant the return of exposed sand and wire-grass.

The strength of Fazio’s design was its striking bunkering. Many of those bunkers disappeared as Hanse went to a more natural look. The greens are less severe now, too.

Hanse’s version may not be as pretty as its predecessor, in large part because the azaleas behind the par-3 fourth hole are gone. That hole was moved, though the rest of the rotation remained pretty much intact. The end result is that Pinehurst now has more of the more natural, rugged look that was so well-received in the Coore-Crenshaw remake of the famed No. 2.

That’ll come into play most prominently in 2019 when Nos. 2 and 4 are used for the next playing of the U.S. Amateur. No. 4 can play as long a 7,227 yards from the tips, and it measures 5,260 from the front markers. Championship rating is 74.9 and the slope is 138.

In setting the tone for the big events that are sure to be coming the new No. 4 has different policy directives than its predecessor. As is the case with No. 2, golf carts are allowed only on designated paths. And – unlike No. 2 and all the other Pinehurst courses – push carts are being allowed on No. 4 on an experimental basis. Caddies are available to both courses.

More scenes from Pinehurst:

Pinehurst Brewing Company already adds a lot to this golf mecca

Pinehurst Resort has kept up with the times golf-wise since its opening in 1895, and our regular visits over the last 20 years have described the many new things that Pinehurst has contributed to the golf world. It goes far beyond the big tournaments that have been played there.

This time, though, our report on what’s new in Pinehurst golf-wise can wait for a day. Not to take anything away from the golf side, but the resort broadened its reach when the Pinehurst Brewing Company opened a week ago.

While Pinehurst Resort has always been long on amenities for its guests, the Pinehurst Brewing Company is something that is both beneficial and needed. Now the resort has something that attracts locals as well as out-of-towners. That was obvious in our visit; we arrived early on a weekday night, waited briefly in line before being seated and left with the place packed.

From power plant to microbrewery, this place has stood for over 120 years.

Getting a handle on Pinehurst Brewing Company isn’t as easy as it might seem. Yes, it’s a brewery. Eric Mitchell came in from Heist Brewing Company in Charlotte to be Pinehurst’s first brewmaster. While the restaurant has been open a few days, the brewery has not. The debut of Mitchell’s craft beers, though, I’m told is imminent.

This 10-barrel brewery, not surprisingly, includes a restaurant with a unique style of pizza and sandwiches dominating the menu for now. While there are TVs scattered throughout the place, it’s no sports bar. It’s much more than that. There’s both indoor and outdoor bars and dining, and over 200 patrons can be accommodated at a time.

Moving forward, however, Pinehurst Brewing Company is more than just a place to eat and drink beer. Just a few days into its existence, it’s clear that Pinehurst Brewing Company is also am historical landmark.

The building that houses the brewery-restaurant was known as the Village Power House, and the steam it produced allowed the Holly Inn to welcome its first guests in 1895. The Holly Inn, of course, is still going strong.

As for the Village Power House it was in operation into the 1990s, then was shuttered and slated for demotion. The wrecking ball never came, however, and that’s turned out a good thing.

As much of the power plant as possible has been incorporated into the building of the Pinehurst Brewing Company and artifacts from it serve as table decorations. The original brick walls are still there and the historic smokestack will be rebuilt.

The entire place will be a work in progress for a while. Even in its early days, though, the Pinehurst Brewing Company adds a lot to an already special place.