Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Championship golf courses?

In a Golfonline.com e-mail I received, Peter Kostis talks about what constitutes a so-called "championship golf course." Interesting that he notes that PGA Tour players often check out good courses that surround the clubs where they tee it up each week.
I've seen that personally -- Nick Price playing Seminole two weeks before the Players Championship, Fred Funk heading to St. George's in Toronto the week of the Canadian Open, and so on.
So what is a championship course? It is more marketing lingo than anything more legitimate. Now any course that is over 6,700 yards long is a "championship" track. The term is used so widely now that it really means nothing.
Of course, a real PGA Tour calibre course ranges in length depending on the conditions -- Hamilton, which hosted the 2003 Canadian Open, was not even 7,000 yards. Whistling Straits, host of the last PGA Championship, was expected to play more than 7,700 yards, though it never actually did.

Anyway, here's Kostis' piece:

"Championship course" was once a privileged moniker. Now it's slapped on any layout no longer than a pitch-and-putt. Here's the real meaning: a course that in a tournament setup has all the qualities necessary to challenge the world's best players. I'd say that close to 50 percent of PGA Tour venues fail this standard.
Hosting a Tour event is now at least as much about infrastructure as it is course design. You need enough space for corporate tents, grandstands and parking. Such practicalities, while necessary, shrink and dilute the candidate pool.
As fans of great courses, pros often visit other local tracks early in tournament weeks. Some of the most popular stops are Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida; Quaker Ridge in Scarsdale, New York; and Vaquero Country Club near Dallas. In a perfect world, each would host a Tour stop--and so would my favorites, L.A. Country Club, Troon North in Scottsdale and Florida's Boca Rio. A man can dream...

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