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Len Ziehm On Golf

Alfredsson’s win was just part of an interesting wrap-up to Senior LPGA

Helen Alfredsson takes Senior LPGA trophy from Cppk Company chairman Steve Ferguson.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – The third playing of the Senior LPGA Championship was a weird one, and that was even before eventual champion Helen Alfredsson teed off in Wednesday’s final round.

Alfreddson eventually won the senior Grand Slam, which amounts to winning just two tournaments – the U.S. Senior Women’s Open and Senior LPGA Championship. Laura Davies accomplished the feat last year, and Alfredsson completed her Slam on Wednesday with a three-stroke victory over Juli Inkster.

The temperature dipped more than 20 degrees and the wind picked up significantly on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, but Alfredsson finished the 54-hhole test as the only player under par. Her concluding 70 gave her a three-round total of 2-under-par 214 and earned her the $100,000 first prize from a $650,000 prize fund.

Other significant developments were unfolding as Alfredsson was working her way to the victory.

Even before the second round was history Dave Harner, the director of golf at French Lick Resort, confirmed that the tournament won’t be played on its unusual fall dates in 2020 – and won’t have live television coverage because of it.

Then, a few hours before the second round was over, Lee Anne Walker was alerted that she would be assessed a big number of penalty strokes because her caddie had been lining her up on her putts on the putting surface, and she did not step away before making her stroke. The infraction, repeated frequently over Walker’s first 23 holes, wound up as a 58-stroke penalty.

After a discussion the rules officials and Walker’s penalty numbers were added up her scores were 127 for the first round and 90 for the second.

Under new rules a player cannot receive a cash payment without posting a score. In finishing last among the 78 players in the Senior LPGA field Walker received $1,390.

Walker, even without the penalty strokes, was only a minor factor in the tournament standings but the change in scheduling for next season will have long-range effects.

“We just couldn’t take the weather any more,’’ said Harner.

Next year’s fourth playing of the Senior LPGA will be July 27 to Aug. 1. Instead of the Monday through Wednesday scheduling of the last three years the 54-hole event will run Thursday through Saturday after a practice round and two pro-ams kick off the festivities.

The tourney has had weather problems. Temperatures neared the freezing level during tournament rounds in 2018 and Wednesday’s final round of this year’s event began in 47-degree temperatures and never got more than five degrees warmer than that.

There was, of course, much more involved in the schedule change than just cold temperatures. The Senior LPGA went to October because that was the only way The Golf Channel would provide live coverage. That coverage was expensive — $860,000 for this year’s playing – and the viewership (estimated at 100,000 per day) didn’t meet expectations. The cost of the telecasts cut into the charity money that long-time beneficiary Riley Children’s Hospital could receive.

So, the tournament did what few events have done in the past – proceed without TV support – and that move was not met with much reluctance by the players.

“I’m excited about it,’’ said Jane Geddes, now into her fourth month as executive director of The Legends Tour. “(The new dates) will give us a nice stretch of tournaments, which we don’t have now and the weather will be better. Kids will also be out of school. It would be nice to have TV coverage, but we also know that it’s expensive.’’

Harner plans to line up streaming for coverage of next year’s final round.

“As the tournament grows and the tour goes into more market places maybe being on TV would make more sense,’’ said Geddes. “Everyone always wants to be on TV, but is it really worth all that money to have eyeballs on that event? It’s almost $1 million. That’s the reality. We’ve been living with that on the LPGA for a long time.‘’

This year it was the last major championship for any of the pro tours. Next year the Senior LPGA won’t event be the last event of the year for The Legends. Geddes said a new event in Minneapolis will be played the following week, though she withheld details of next year’s sites.

The new dates put the Senior LPGA closer to the only other major for senior women. The U.S. Senior Women’s Open is scheduled for July 9-12 in 2020, at Brooklawn in Fairfield, Ct.. The next Senior LPGA will also come two weeks after French Lick’s other tour stop. The Symetra Tour’s annual tournament here is played on the resort’s Donald Ross Course.

As for Sunday Senior LPGA wrapup, Inkster started the day with a two-stroke lead but slumped to a 76. Most of her problems surfaced on the back nine, and they enabled Alfredsson to take control. It was a two-player duel most of the way.

Defending champion Davies tied for 19th and only Michelle McGann (69) shot a lower final round than Alfreddson.

“`I was a great feeling to win the U.S. Open (at Pine Needles in May) and get a USGA trophy,’’ she said. “but I was most pleased with being able to do it in the end, that I was the strongest then.’’

The Senior LPGA was the last of pro golf’s major championships of 2019 on any of the pro tours.

Last major of 2019 tees off today on French Lick’s Pete Dye Course.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – This may surprise you. One of America’s professional tours still has one of its major championships remaining in 2019.

The climax to The Legends Tour season is the third annual Senior LPGA Championship, to be played on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort from Oct. 14-16. It tends to get lost in the shuffle, and not just because it’s so late in the season. The Monday through Wednesday scheduling isn’t the norm, either, but it has enabled the circuit for women 45 and over to gain live TV coverage on The Golf Channel.

LPGA stars of the past had trouble finding tournaments until Jane Blalock created The Legends Tour in 2000. It grew slowly, but in the last few years these senior women received some long overdue signs of respect.

The Legends Championship became their premier event when French Lick’s hierarchy created it – along with a Legends Hall of Fame – in 2014. That championship is no longer held, having been replaced with a bigger and better version when the LPGA finally got involved directly with its senior circuit.

England’s Trish Johnson became the first champion of a senior women’s major when she won the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship on the Pete Dye Course in 2017.

The U.S. Golf Association, after three years of deliberation following an initial announcement, staged its first major tournament for senior women last year – the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, IL. England’s Laura Davies won that one by a whopping 10-stroke margin to conclude an emotional week that was more important for the creation of the event than it was for who won.

Since then things have been quiet on the senior women’s front. The most notable development was Blalock’s departure as executive director of The Legends Tour and the hiring of Jane Geddes as the circuit’s chief executive officer. This could be significant down the road, but Geddes has been on the job only three months and hasn’t put her plans into effect yet. In fact, she hasn’t announced even announced any of them but says she has some significant things in the works for 2020 and beyond.

The big difference is that Blalock was both the head of The Legends Tour as well as its tournament promoter.

“Janie wore two hats,’’ said Geddes, who was asked by LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to take the job. “There was no governing body. I am the governing body, with no conflicts.’’

Blalock may still create tournaments for The Legends, but Geddes takes a broader approach for the circuit.

“I look on it as the Legends experience more than the Legends Tour,’’ she said. “We’ll have camps, travel trips. We don’t play (tournaments) week in and week out, but we can have pro-ams or challenge events, excursions or clinics. We’re a great group of women who bring great value. It’s fun to watch us play, and we have the ability to interact. That’s what my era does best.’’

Like Blalock, Geddes was a top LPGA player who has competed in both the Senior LPGA Championship and U.S. Senior Women’s Open. She took a different path after her full-time playing career wound down. Geddes spent time working for the LPGA, then – armed with a law degree — she left to become chief of staff in professional wrestling.

“It was very fun,’’ she said. “The wrestlers are sports actors. I was there four years, and it was a 24-hour job. I wanted to get back into golf.’’

So now she’s back, and how she transforms The Legends Tour next year will largely determine the circuit’s future.

For now, though, the show is all about the estimable Laura Davies and her supporting cast in the third Senior LPGA. The purse will be $650,000 with the champion receiving $100,000.

Davies won the second Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick last October and Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson took the second U.S. Senior Women’s Open, played at Pine Needles in North Carolina in May, by beating Juli Inkster and Johnson by two strokes.

The Senior Women’s Open drew a crowd at Pine Needles that was comparable to the one it enjoyed at Chicago Golf Club, and a similar event is expected for a third run at French Lick. Hollis Stacy will be added to the Legends Hall of Fame before the tournament tees off and the field will undergo only minor changes from a year ago. Karen Stupples and Laura Baugh will compete for the first time with Stupples preferring to compete rather than stay in The Golf Channel broadcast booth.

Dave Harner, director of golf at French Lick, has added two special exemptions — Lori Atsedes and Clarissa Child — after the scrapping of the on-site qualifying round. The starting field will be 78 players as opposed to the 81 scheduled to play last year. Only 80 eventually teed off.

Raven’s Claw

(Published in wheretogolfnext.com)

Location: Pottstown, Pa.

Architect: Ed Shearon.

Opened: 2005.

Par: 71

Yards/Rating/Slope: Black tees 6,73961,9/131; Blue 6,386/69.6/128; White 5,995/67.7/124; Yellow 5,357/63.7/116; Red 4,824/67.0/111.

Saturday morning green fee: $69

Caddie Service: No.

Walker friendly: Yes.

Fairways: Bent

Greens: Bent

THE REVIEW

For starters: It’s the home course for the Symetra Tour’s Valley Forge Invitational and will also host both of the outings held during the International Network of Golf’s 30th annual Spring Conference in 2020. The course record is held by a woman. One of the Symetra players, Louise Ridderstrom of Sweden, shot an 8-under-par 63 in 2018.

Play because…: Shearon lives in the Pottstown area and operates a major landscaping business but he has also designed several other courses. This one was built on 177 acres with traditional-looking family homes mixed in with some of the golf holes.

Takeaway: The most surprising feature is the remains of an old house in the fairway off the No. 1 hole. Golf professional Jim Bromley said it dates into the 1700 or 1800s but doesn’t know why it’s there. The rest of the course is marked by a good use of big bolders to guide players around the layout. The greens are testy and undulating. The course name comes from the presence of several such birds in the trees on the site.

THE COURSE:

Best Par-5: No. 10 (634 yards from tips/619/519/486/451) It’s the last of par-5 on the course, and a challenging one for more than just its extraordinary length from the back tees. Second shots must carry a waste area and the green still won’t be easy to reach. The two-level fairway is higher on the right side than it is on the left the putting surface is most challenging. No. 7 is 111 yards shorter and designated as the No. 1 handicap hole, but No. 10 is a monster that won’t be forgotten.

Best Par-4: No. 9 (404 yards from tips/377/362/307/284). This very well designed hole starts a tough three-hole stretch called The Claw. The tee shot must be on the left side of the fairway and well-struck to offer a clear approach to the green. The approach is the most demanding shot on the course, as the opening is narrow and the green elevated. Come up short and you can wind up in a waste area.

Best Par-3: No. 14 (137 yards from tips/125/117/100/85). Yes, it’s the shortest hole on the course and, yes, it’s the easiest according to handicap but this shorty falls at a nice place in the rotation and looks much different than the other par-3s. Not only is it shorter but there’s water fronting the green. Not a hard hole, but a fun one..

THE RATINGS (1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest)

Food/beverage: NA. (We weren’t there when meals were served).

Pro shop: 8

Clubhouse: 9

Difficulty: 8

Pace of play: 10 (Had the course to ourselves throughout the round.

Overall: 8.2

Rater: Len Ziehm

INFORMATION

Phone: (610) 495-4710.

Website: www.ravensclawgolfclub.com

Facebook: @Ravens Claw Golf Club

Twitter: @RavensClawGolf1

Instagram: ranvensclawgolfclub

Georgia’s Jekyll Island is a golf destination that’s had two lives

JEKYLL ISLAND, Georgia – Jekyll Island has been a golf destination for over a century, but things have changed a lot since golf was first played there in 1898.

It thrived when the rich and famous hung out there. That ended in 1942. Now it’s a state park. Georgia is a state rich in golf resorts and is also boasts Augusta National, the home of the Masters, and East Lake, the home of the PGA’s Tour Championship. At least 20 PGA Tour pros live on Sea Island.

And yet, the state’s biggest public golf facility is Jekyll Island State Park. With 63 holes now, it’s a golf destination that has had two distinct lives.

From the late 1800s until 1942 in was a private playground for the wealthy. In 1948, after a period of decay during World War II, it was opened to the public.

History-wise, Jekyll Island stands tall from what went on there many decades ago. As a retreat for America’s wealthiest — people with last names like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Pulitzer and Astor either lived or hung out their regularly – Jekyll Island was one of America’s first golf destination.

The Jekyll Island Golf Club was the 36th club to gain a charter with the U.S. Golf Association in 1886, though the members didn’t open a course until 1898. Scotsman Willie Dunn, runner-up in the first U.S. in 1899, designed an 18-holer and Horace Rawlins, the man who beat him in 1895 at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island, was Jekyll’s first head professional beginning in 1899.

Rawlins won the inaugural U.S. Open with rounds of 91-82, two strokes better than Dunn. The tournament, only a one-day affair back then, was contested the day after the three-day U.S. Amateur.

Just how long Rawlings hung around is uncertain, but the second head pro was also a notable player and stayed much longer. Karl Keffer would win the Canadian Open in 1909 and 1914. In between those wins (in 1910) Keffer was hired as Jekyll’s second head pro. Only one Canadian golfer, Pat Fletcher in 1954, has won the tournament since Keffer last did it.

Keffler was Jekyll’s head pro until 1942 and during his time on the job the club got serious about golf. The members wanted a better course than the original one and a second course was started in 1910 with legendary Donald Ross the architect. It’s now on the grounds of the Oleander course — toughest of Jekyll’s three 18-holers — but Ross no longer has his name on it.

Some say Ross was fired during the construction process, which was hampered by drainage problems.

“My understanding,’’ said present director of golf Spencer Brookman CHECK, “was that he was hired to build the course and got it started, then he was either terminated or they couldn’t get the course dry enough.’’

That course wasn’t open long before the members lured Walter Travis to design another one. That was a big deal as Travis was the first three-time U.S. Amateur champion (1900, 1901 and 1903) and the first non-Brit to win the British Amateur in 1904. He was also a prolific writer and course architect, and Great Dunes was one of his last creations. It opened in 1928, a year after his death.

Fourteen years later the wealthy left, many feeling the Island was too vulnerable to enemy air attacks with World War II looming. There were no workers to keep the place afloat anyway, and in 1947 the state of Georgia took it over and named it Jekyll Island State Park. That ended the first phase of Jekyll Island’s life as a golf destination and started the second, which continues to this day.

When Jekyll Island State Park opened to the public for the first time on March 1, 1948, golf was not an option. Neither the Oceanside Course, now Great Dunes, or the Club Golf Course that Ross designed was playable. Both were overgrown, and it took years to get the sport re-established on the Island.

The State turned over what had been Ross’ design to architect Dick Wilson and he created what is now the Oleander course. It opened in 1964. Pine Lakes, the most family-friendly course on the Island, opened in 1968 after a combined design effort by Wilson and Joe Lee. Indian Mound, a Lee creation, was constructed in 1975.

Great Dunes was reduced to nine holes in 1955 when the Island was undergoing difficult financial times.

“That course has become more and more popular since we redid the greens and re-routed Nos. 1 and 9 toward the ocean,’’ said Brookman. That project was completed last September.

With all 63 holes up and running the Island became tourist destination again and some of the scenes in the golf-themed movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance,’’ were shot there.’’

“Oleander is more of a shot-makers course with more doglegs,’’ said Brookman. “It plays a lot longer than it looks. Pine Lakes is a little easier but still hard since it was redone in 2005 (by architect Clyde Johnston).’’

The courses are a center of amateur golf two weeks every year when – on consecutive weekends – they host a U.S. Kids Regional, which draws 320 youngsters, and the biggest of college tournaments. The Jekyll Island Intercollegiate, hosted by Atlanta’s Ogelthorpe University, brings together 64 men’s and women’s teams from the NCAA Division III ranks.

The three 18-hole courses are player-friendly and reasonably priced. The terrain is relatively flat, so walking is an option for those who want the exercise, and the power carts have a state-of-the-art GPS system. Lodging and dining options on the Island is more than ample.

Once the state purchased the Island there was definitely a push to rebuild,’’ said Brookman. “Now you can park your car, play 54 holes and never have to get back in your car. That sets us apart from other places.’’

The Links at Greystone

(Published in wheretogolfnext.com)

Location: Walworth, N.Y.

Architect: Craig Schreiner.

Opened: 1995

Par: 72.

Yards/Rating/Slope: Championship tees 7,215/74.3/130; Blue 6,594/71.6/127; White 6,033/69.8/125; Gold 5,277/65.7/109. Women: White 6,110/74.8/134; Gold 5,277/70.8/116.

Saturday morning green fee: $67 (includes cart. Carts are required before noon).

Caddie Service: No.

Walker friendly: Yes.

Fairways: Bent

Greens: Bent

THE REVIEW

For starters: The Odenbach family, which built three courses as a sidelight venture to its mining and quarry company, sold this course to settle a family estate in 2000 and then bought it back in 2016. The family has been dedicated to golf in the Rochester area since 1979 and family members are involved throughout the operation of Greystone.

Play because…This is one of designer Schreiner’s first creations. Based in Myrtle Beach, S.C., he worked with Hurdzan Design Group and collaborated on courses with veteran tour players Larry Mize and Nick Price. Schreiner designs are also located in Minnesota, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio, Nebraska, Virginia and Oklahoma.

Takeaway: Originally called Greystone Golf Club, this layout isn’t a true links course. It has lots of trees on its 270 acres but it’s a quality layout. The Greystone name comes from the use of grey stones on two dramatic holes – the par-3 sixth and par-4 18th. The feature that really jumps out, though, is the double green serving Nos. 9 and 18. It provides a great view from the clubhouse.

THE COURSE:

Best Par-5: No. 16 (595 yards from tips/553/518/482). As the last par-5 in the rotation, the course’s longest hole is called “Heaven or Hell.’’ The path to the green is a narrow one compared to the rest of the course. There’s woods and water on the left and trees on the right.

Best Par-4: No. 7 (408 yards from tips/381/339/300). No. 18 — the designated signature hole – is a par-4. So is No. 4 – the No. 1 handicap hole. No. 5, though, is more memorable because of the approach required to the very elevated green. You need a drive in the fairway to set it up and you don’t want to be long on your second shot.

Best Par-3: No. 6 (178 yards from tips/139/115/91). Certainly not the toughest of the course’s short holes, it is the most memorable because of the brick wall fronting the green. A fun hole in a pleasant setting.

THE RATINGS (1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest)

Food/beverage: 8

Pro shop: 9

Clubhouse: 9

Difficulty: 8

Pace of play: 7

Overall: 8.5

Rated: Len Ziehm

INFORMATION

Phone: (315) 524-0022.

Website: www.greystonelinks.com

Facebook: @The Links at Greystone

Twitter: #thelinksatgreystone

Instagram: NA.

Fort Myers Country Club

Location: Fort Myers, Florida.

Architect: Donald Ross, with renovation by Steve Smyers in 2014.

Opened: 1917

Par: 70 for men, 71 for women.

Yards/Rating/Slope: Black tees, 6,675 yards, 72.9, 131; Blue, 6,245, 70.5, 126; White 5,815, 68.9, 124; Golf, 5,460, 67.0, 117; Red, 4,905, 69.0, 114; Green, 4,360, 62.9, 101.

Saturday morning green fee: $50 (does not include cart, which rents for $25 per person).

Caddie Service: None.

Walker friendly: Not really, but walking is allowed and pull carts are available.

Fairways: Bermuda.

Greens: Bermuda.

THE REVIEW

For starters: One of only five courses in Florida that has celebrated a centennial, The Fort (as its known locally) is a heavily-played layout owned by the city of Fort Myers. It has a rich history with its past players including such long-ago stars as Walter Hagen, Jock Hutchison, Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith, Charlie Sifford, Babe Zaharias and Arnold Palmer.

Play because…: The course underwent its only major renovation in 2014 when Steve Smyers strived to re-capture the style of original designer Donald Ross. While Smyers was successful in that regard, the course underwent some notable changes. Par was changed from71 to 70 for men and 72 to 71 for women. Smyers put in six new water hazards and the course now has 52 bunkers.

Takeaway: Smyers’ renovation greatly improved the condition, as the drainage was extensively modernized and the turf quality upgraded. One notable problem: it has no practice range.

THE COURSE:

Best Par-5: No. 18 (Yards from tips 535/520/490/475/400/385). This sharp dogleg left is as very good but challenging finishing hole. Water run across and to the right of the fairway, which necessitates a decision to lay up or go for the green on your second shot.

Best Par-4: No. 2 (45 yards from tips/420/400/385/320/300). Being so early in the round this is an unusual place for the No. 1 handicap hole in any course rotation. A slight dogleg right, it gets your attention because of that.

Best Par-3: No. 10 (Yards from tips 220/190/180/140/130/100). The most difficult of the short holes, this one is uphill from tee to the elevated green and plays much longer than the listed yardage. Also factoring in is the tee box’s location. It’s below the outdoor lounge and is in full view for spectators.

THE RATINGS (1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest)

Overall: 7.75.

Food/beverage: 8.

Pro shop: 7

Clubhouse: 9

Difficulty: 7

Pace of play: 7.

INFORMATION

Phone: (239) 321—7488.

Website: www.cityftmyers.com/golf.

Facebook: @Fort Myers Country Club

Twitter: @cityftmyers

Instagram: #fortmyerscountryclub.

Second U.S. Senior Women’s Open will do just fine at Pine Needles

The best senior women golfers, the ones who did so much to make the Ladies PGA Tour into what it is today, haven’t gotten the respect they deserve.

Their own tour barely recognized them, leaving it to Jane Blalock and The Legends Tour to provide a circuit for players after they turned 45. Thanks to major support from Steve Ferguson and Dave Harner at Indiana’s French Lick Resort, The Legends eventually got their own major championship and five years later, in 2017, it was transitioned into the Senior LPGA Championship, a 54-hole event played on Monday-through-Wednesday dates in October to entice The Golf Channel to provide coverage.

The U.S. Golf Association dragged its feet even more. The USGA – after much outside pressure – announced it would conduct a U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2015 but didn’t hold the first one until three years later.

Now it’s time for the second one. It’s coming May 16-19 at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, N.C., and 17 nation-wide qualifying rounds are underway. While players who have reached their 45th birthday are allowed into the Senior LPGA Championship, the USGA makes them wait until they’re 50 to play in its Senior Open.

The second U.S. Senior Women’s Open won’t be much like the first and you’ve got to wonder about the tournament’s place down the road. The second U.S. Senior Open was scheduled just 10 months after the first, which was played in mid-July at Chicago Golf Club — the nation’s first 18-hole course.

That’s a short turn-around for both players and staff, and the third playing will be 14 months after the second – July 6-12, 2020 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Ct.. No dates have been announced for beyond 2020. In short, the tournament has no firm place on the USGA calendar, and hat could be a problem down the road.

The first U.S. Senior Women’s Open was played at an exclusive private club. The second will be on a resort course that has already hosted three U.S. Women’s Opens and will host a fourth in 2022. The first had competition with a major on PGA Tour Champions. Its Senior Players Championship was played in the Chicago area on exactly the same dates. The second U.S. Senior Women’s Open will be a warmup for the U.S. Amateur, which comes to nearby Pinehurst Resort in August.

Still, there should be no such wavering over the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. The first playing was a rousing success. – better than even the USGA could imagine.

“It doubled our expectations from the crowd standpoint,’’ said Katherine Thigpen, the event manager. “There was way more interest in women’s golf and these players.’’

One reason for the first tournament’s success was simply that it was the first. You can only be at the first playing a big event one time. That thinking was a factor in the warm reception the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur had in April. Women competing for the first time on fabled Augusta National – even if it was for just one day – was special. Everyone knew it would be – and it was.

The first U.S. Senior Women’s Open was a real feel-good story, too. After all the waiting, there were even a few tears shed when Nancy Lopez announced Joanne Carner as the tourney’s first player to tee off.

Big Mama boomed her drive down the first fairway of a club that has rarely opened its course to tournament play and spectator traffic. Carner, then 79, shot her age that day. Now 80, she’ll try to do it again at Pine Needles.

Spectators were permitted to walk along with the player in Chicago and everyone of them – not just the big names – had at least a few followers from hole to hole. When it was over there was exultation over Laura Davies’ 10-stroke victory and 16-under-par score on a par-73 course set up at 6,082 yards.

Now we go to Pine Needles – a good site for the tournament if not quite as eye-catching as Chicago Golf Club. The players will know Pine Needles a lot better than they knew Chicago Golf Club. Some tidbits worth noting:

Pine Needles will have an autograph area set aside to encourage interaction between players and fans. It’ll also have four players in the field, among them Davies, who played in the U.S. Women’s Opens there in 1991, 2001 and 2007. Not only that, but two of the greats of women’s golf – Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon – will be in the field after taking a pass on the inaugural in Chicago.

Hammock Creek

Location: Palm City, Florida.

Architect: Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II

Opened: 1995

Par: 72.

Yards/Rating/Slope: Tips (Black) tees 7,131 yards/ 74.6/143; Gold 6,770/73.2/140; Blue 6,360/70.9/135; White 5,922/68.7/124 (men), 74.1/133 (women); Red 5,045/64.3/114 (men), 68.6/118 (women).

Saturday morning green fee: $59 (but varies with the season).

Caddie Service: No.

Walker friendly: Yes.

Fairways: Bermuda.

Greens: Bermuda.

THE REVIEW

For starters: The is the first course co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II in Florida. The head professional is also has a familiar name. Rod Curl Jr. is the son of Rod Curl, who played regularly on the PGA Tour from 1969-78. Rod the father’s only PGA Tour win was at the 1974 Colonial National Invitation when he beat Jack Nicklaus (the father) by one stroke.

Play because: It’s not just about those names. This course hosted several events on the Golden Bear Tour and has a convenient location with I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike both near by. The conditioning is consistently good, with lively fairways and smooth greens, and the design is adaptable for a wide range of players.

Takeaway: Hammock Creek may be the best golf buy in South Florida and it’s an outstanding value for Nicklaus-designed layout. While the greens fees change on an almost weekly basis, it’s always very competitive with other public courses, many of which aren’t nearly as good.

THE COURSE:

Best Par-5: No. 2 (504 yards from tips/489/475/460/362). This hole is a wake-up call after a timid opening hole. A long water hazard on the right greets you when you arrive at the tee and water is a factor the rest of the way in, on both the right and behind the green.

Best Par-4: No. 11 (454 yards from tips/433/379/355/302). A good test for the No. 1 handicap hole. Water is somewhat a factor off the tee, especially if your drives goes even slightly left. While the course offers largely generous fairways off the tee, this one is on the more narrow side.

Best Par-3: No. 14 (151 yards fom tips/141/133/118/105). Water blocks the green most of the way on Hammock Creek’s shortest par-3, but this creates more of a psychological factor — especially if you play the course with any regularity. It’s the last par-3 in the rotation, and not really difficult if you hit even an average tee shot. You especially need a good number here, though, as the last four holes are long and strong and can influence your score significantly

THE RATINGS (1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest)

Food/beverage: 8.

Pro shop: 8.

Clubhouse: 7.

Difficulty: 7.

Pace of play: 7.

Overall: 7.75.

INFORMATION

Phone: 772-220-2599.

Website: www.hammockcreekgolfclub.com

Facebook:@Hammock Creek Golf Club.

Twitter: @golfcreekgc

Instagram: @hammockcreekgc

Rater: Len Ziehm

Sultan’s Run

Location: Jasper, Indiana

Architect: Tim Liddy, a Pete Dye disciple.

Opened: 1992.

Par: 72

Yards/Rating/Slope: Black tees – 6,859, 73.5, 143; Gold – 6,429, 71.5, 138; Silver – 5,762, 68.8. 129; Green – 4,911, 69.1, 129.

Saturday morning green fee: $69. (The course is closed for the season but may re-open when weather permits. It’s scheduled to open for the 2019 season on March 1.

Caddie Service: No.

Walker friendly: No.

Fairways: zoysia.

Greens: bentgrass.

THE REVIEW

For starters…This is an extension of the French Lick Resort, which is 20 miles away. Sultan’s Run is owned by Jasper resident Steve Braun whose brother Mike has recently elected to a U.S. Senate seat. French Lick, which has hosted the Senior LPGA Championship the last two years, has three courses – the Pete Dye Course, the Donald Ross Course and Valley Links, a nine-hole course designed as a tribute to old-time architect Tom Bendelow – on its property and Sultan’s Run is another option.

Play because…: Sultan’s Run, designated as “affiliated’’ with French Lick, provides a fun layout for players looking for another place to play in the area, plus Jasper is a bigger community with more dining and retail options than French Lick has. The Pete Dye Course and Donald Ross Course are among the very best in Indiana. Sultan’s Run is more on the sporty side.

Takeaway: Alvin C. Ruxer, who donated the land for the course, was into show horses and one of his best was named Supreme Sultan. The golf course derived its name from that and each of the holes is named after one of Ruxer’s horses. Head professional Jeff Howerton has been on the job for seven seasons during which the course hosted the 2016 Indiana Senior Open and qualifiers for a Web.com Tour event at nearby Victoria National. The Indiana Golf Course of the Year in 2015, Sultan’s Run is a worthy, more economical partner course for the French Lick layouts.

THE RATINGS (1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest)

FUN METER OVERALL: 8.5.

Food/beverage 8.0

Pro shop: 8.0

Clubhouse 8.5

Difficulty: 9.0

Pace of Play: 8.5

THE COURSE

Best Par-5: No. 13 (574 yards from the back tees, 538, 481, 407. Located near the entry to the course, both the tee and green are elevated on this hole.

Best Par-4: No. 9 (412 yards from the tips, 393,280, 271). A very picturesque hole, you can’t see the green from the tee on this dogleg left that also features a big ravine.

Best Par-3: No. 12 (209 from the back tee, 191, 145, 128). A nice-looking short hole, there’s water behind the green that features a fountain.

INFORMATION

Phone: 812-482-1009

Website: www. SultansRun.com

Facebook: @Sultan’s Run Golf Club

Twitter: @SultansRunGC

Instagram: #sultansrun

SAGE RUN

Location: Bark River, Michigan.

Course architect: Paul Albanese.

Opened: July, 2018.

Par 72

From the tips: 7,375 yards. There are five sets of tees, beginning at 5,231 yards.

Rating: TBD. (STUART, Raters have been out but not provided info yet).

Slope: TBD.

Saturday morning green fee: Basic rate is $85 but there are a variety of options, based on groups and hotel guest status.

Caddie service: No.

Walker friendly: No.

Fairways: Low-Mow Bluegrass.

Greens: Bentgrass.

THE REVIEW

Starter: This is one of Michigan’s newest courses and it has a unique design courtesy of architect Paul Albanese, a resident of Plymouth, Mich. It complements Sweetgrass, another Albanese design, that is part of the Island Resort & Casino in Harris, Mich. Sage Run is eight miles from the Island Resort and its creation is part of an $8 million renovation of the resort.

Play because: In addition to being new to Michigan’s vast golf marketplace, Sage Run has an unusual look. Albanese made use of a huge drumlin — a big ridge that runs through the center of the 300-acre property and creates a variety of elevation changes. The holes run around, over and through the drumlin.

Takeaway: Sage Run is a most challenging layout, no matter what tees you play. It’s obviously lacking in maturity and there are plenty of loose rocks in the rough areas that can come into play. Lots of balls get lost in those areas. The clubhouse and pro shop are small but cozy in these early days of operation. Once the obvious cleanup measures are completed, however, Sage Run figures to be a nice option for golfers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Ratings (1 to 10 scale, 10 being highest)

Food/beverage: 6.5

Pro shop: 5.0.

Clubhouse: 4.5.

Course difficulty: 9.0

Pace of play: 6.5.

Overall score: 7.0

THE COURSE SCORECARD

Best Par 3: No. 5, 170 yards. The first short hole on the course can be very misleading. It plays severely uphill, meaning that two or three extra clubs might be needed to accommodate the listed yardage.

Best Par 4: No. 8, 298 yards. This one plays uphill, too, but it’s drivable. This is a good risk-reward hole thanks to its split fairway. A successful tee shot to the left side could lead to reaching the green. A drive to the right is safer, but then you have to contend with lots of bunkers fronting the green.

Best Par 5: No. 12, 585 yards. Another dual-fairway situation to a green that is slightly elevated. The lower fairway is wider and safer, but the approach is then over bunkers to a blind putting surface. The upper fairway is tougher to hit but could offer a less challenging approach to the green.

INFO

Website: islandresortandcasino.com.

Phone: 877-ISL-GREEN.

Facebook: @sage run golf course

Instagram: NA

Twitter: NA

Rated by: Len Ziehm