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Public Golf in the modern era

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By Dom Fasciglione

GolfWRX Contributor

When I was a kid I remember going to the golf course with my father. It wasn’t a fancy place. There was a single-story club house with a small restaurant and bar area on one side and a pro shop and locker area on the other. To the right there was a practice green and directly from the front door one stepped out onto a driving range. The club house was appointed in dark paneling and green wall to wall carpet.  The aroma of fried eggs and stale coffee permeated the place. It was a comfortable place, and familiar.

Upon arrival my father would make the rounds, visiting the restaurant for a cup of coffee, borrowing a paper to check the latest scores, and eventually making his way to the pro shop. It was usually at this moment I would make my move.

“Dad, I’m going outside.”

“Don’t wander and stay clear of anyone making a swing, you hear?”

After the obligatory “Yessir” I would make a mad dash for the practice green.  I had an old, bent Bullseye putter and dejected wedge from my father’s old golf bag with a bone hard grip and grooves that long ago appeared to have melted away in a bygone era.

People would come and go. The starters would be casual observers and sometimes would take an interest in my “practice routine,” which usually involved wedging out all of the crabgrass between the cart path and the 1st tee. One of the starters made me rake out a bunker one fine, sunny morning after I had decided to use it for a golf ball race track.

After a couple hours I would meander over to the range where I would find my father, brows furrowed, forearms bulging, and sweat upon his forehead.

“Did you practice your putting?”

“Umm, sort of.”

“Okay.  You ready?”  I was ready.

After a brief chat with the starter we were off. There were others golfing but we seldom had to wait or hurry. We occasionally shared a tee time with folks, and until I was about thirteen I would mostly caddie with an occasional tee shot here and there.  I frequently would go ball hunting, entering the woods on the third or fourth hole and coming out on the fifth or sixth.  I recall the woods being dark and overgrown, wayward balls lying half buried in the moist undergrowth. Max Fli Blue Dots, Top-Flights, Dunlops, Titleists.

Eventually the round would come to a close.  We would make our way back to the club house. I would have a coke and he a beer. Back at the car, an old Chevy station wagon, we would clean our clubs and shoes, stash them in the back, and head on home. All the way home I could smell the wet grass and worn leather as we listened to the local AM radio station.

It seems times have changed, of course. The course has changed a bit, but not all that much. The trees are taller; the woods have been cleared out a good deal. There are new tee boxes and a couple holes have been rerouted. The club house has been renovated and all the faces are new. I guess the most significant change has less to do with place and more to do with time.

The routine today is as follows: reserve a tee time two days in advance. One must call early enough to secure a morning time. If the call is made too late, one runs the risk of interfering with the league times. A credit card number is required.  In the event of cancellation, without due notice of at least three hours, a charge will be placed upon the card.  Golfers are required to arrive 30 minutes prior to tee time, check inn, pay, and then show proof of purchase and tee time to the starter. Starters are equipped with walkie-talkies and anticipate arrivals to the tee box. No one may be on the course without equipment and proof of purchase.

The schedule is tight. Golfers are most often no further than 250 yards from the group behind and the group in front. People have little patience and seemingly less time.

Yes, times have changed. The tempo has changed. I just hope the game doesn’t.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Drew

    Apr 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. Golf is becoming more of a race to the finish every year. I wish we could go back to the old days of casual play.

  2. A. Lynch

    Feb 14, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Great story, Dom. I can almost smell that cut grass.

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Tour Mash: Rahm wins in Dubai, Cook sizzles to victory

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Two more points races reached their end this weekend. The LPGA season culminated in Florida with the Race to the CME Globe, while the European Tour concluded its Race to Dubai in, where else? Dubai! The PGA Tour played its final event until the new year, in Georgia, while the Ladies European Tour played its Sanya Open in China. Before American Thanksgiving revelry and remembrance set in, it’s time for one more tour mash.

LPGA Tour: A day of twos ends in a win for Ariya

Ariya Jutanugarn birdied her final two holes to win the CME Tour Championship. She was given the opportunity to win in regulation when Lexi Thompson pushed a 2-foot putt for par at the last. Although Thompson did not win the year’s final event, she captured 2 titles of her own: Vare Trophy for low scoring average and Race To CME Globe, the season’s points race.

How Ariya Jutanugarn tasted victory

The power game has arrived on the LPGA Tour, in case you missed it. Golfers such as Lexi, Ariya and Sung Hyun Park obliterate the orb, leaving little yardage to the green. When her game is firing, Ariya Jutanugarn is unstoppable. After bogey at the first hole on Sunday, the young golfer from Thailand etched six birdies into the final 17 holes, for a second-consecutive 67. Her birdie at the last came from 23 feet, an amazing putt to hole with victory on the line. Down it went, and up went the smile of a champion.

How the rest came up just shy of a win

With eerie similarity, Lexi Thompson’s card was the flip side of Ariya’s. Thompson made six birdies over her first 17 holes, but the hiccough at the last, her only bogey on the day, dropped her to 14-under par and opened the door for Jutanugarn. Thompson was on absolute fire on Sunday, hitting all 14 fairways and using the putter 28 times. Ariya, Kim Kaufman, Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen stood tied atop at 10-under, heading into round 4. Pettersen’s 72, Kaufman’s 71 and Wie’s 70 were simply not enough to keep pace with those coming from behind on Sunday. Ariya, however, was up to the challenge.

European Tour: Rahm wins in Dubai and Fleetwood breathes again

For a time, it seemed as though Justin Rose would win his third consecutive event in Europe and would squeeze past Fleetwood for the season points title. The former Englishman was in the midst of the greatest scoring run of his career, while the later Englishman seemed to have little petrol left in the tank. Then the back nine on Sunday happened, and everything changed.

How Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour

Shane Lowry made 10 birdies on Sunday, but he had one bogey. Rahm had half as many birdies and zero bogeys, and that last number made the difference. The young Basque played a stellar 132 over the closing 36 holes, eclipsed only by Lowry’s 131. Rahm fearlessly navigated his way around the Jumeirah Estates course, eeking out a one-shot win over Lowry and also hard-charging Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

How the others went home trophy-less

We all want to know about Rose. four birdies on the outward 9-holes staked him to a lead, and the greatest season comeback on a major tour was nearly written. With only three bogeys in his first 63 holes, Rose proceeded to bogey 12, 14 and 16, with only a birdie at the last to bring him to 17-under. He ended up two behind Rahm, and in second place in the Race to Dubai points race. It was a glorious campaign for Rose, and cements him as world player to watch in 2018. The Englishman tied for fourth with Sergio Garcia, Dean Burmeister and Dylan Fritelli, both of South Africa, on 17-under par.

PGA Tour: Cook collects First Tour win in Georgia

Fall is a time for young aspirants to make a mark on the PGA Tour. Austin Cook followed the script, birdieing 3-of-his-final-4 holes to stretch a single-shot lead into a four-stroke triumph. J.J. Spaun, a Web.Com tour graduate in 2017, was in the mix for the second consecutive week. He played well down the stretch, and earned a runner-up finish.

How Cook caught fire

Austin Cook played a veteran front-nine, with one bogey and one birdie. None of the chasers caught him, so the Arkansas alum continued to manage his game in the fairways-greens style. On the inward half, Cook took charge, with birdies at 15, 17 and 18, to move well in front of the runner-up. With the precision of a surgeon, Cook took apart the Sea Island course in impressive fashion. After his second-round 62, many expected him to have one weak round on the weekend, but 66-67 showed the his mettle.

How the others flamed out

Spaun really didn’t flame out, not like last week, when he caught the double-bogey train. A proven winner on other tours, Spaun should win in 2018. His game was solid, mixing in more birdies than bogeys, and his second-place finish was well-earned. Brian Gay might have been more comfortable than any other golfer this week, but he was just as erratic. Case in point: back nine. From holes 13 to 18, Gay made one birdie, two eagles, two pars and one double. Still, his numbers were low enough to secure solo third, one stroke behind Spaun and two in front of the fourth-place finishers.

Ladies European Tour: Boutier sizzles on back nine for win

Celine Boutier imagined a top-10 or top-5 when the third day dawned at Yalong Bay, in China. After bogeys on holes 4 and 5, she needed to gather herself in order to preserve her standing. From this day forward, “gather herself” in the dictionary will forever show a picture of Celine Boutier. Her six-birdie finish vaulted her past all challengers, to her first European Tour victory.

How Boutier bloomed

The recent Duke University graduate posted three rounds in the 60s, the only competitor to achieve that distinction at the Sanya Open. The Frenchwoman didn’t make a bogey until the 15th hole of her second round, but she was stuck in neutral from that hole through the 9th hole on Sunday, making only pars and bogeys. Something clicked at the turn, and Boutier regained the confidence that had produced 10 birdies during the tournament’s first half.

How the others gave chase

Solar Lee was in good standing on Sunday’s outward nine. She bounced back from an opening bogey with three birdies through the 9th, and held the top spot on the leader board at 7-under. Lee reached 9-under through 13, but made bogey at 14 to drop to 8-under. Then came the blossoming of Boutier, and Lee had to be satisfied with the runner-up spot. One spot behind Lee was Valdis Thora Jonsdottir, Iceland’s reigning professional golfer, at 7-under.

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Wednesday’s Photos from The 2017 RSM Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from The 2017 RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club — the Seaside course plays as a par 70 measuring 7,005 yards — in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

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Headlined by last week’s OHL Classic champion Patton Kizzire, and 2015 RSM Champion Kevin Kisner, this week’s field is filled with notable names including Ricky Barnes, Zac Blair, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Harris English, Tommy Gainey, Bill Haas, Beau Hossler, Zach Johnson, Smylie Kaufman, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell, Ollie Schniederjans, Brandt Snedeker, Hudson Swafford, Bubba Watson and others.

In last year’s RSM Classic, Mackenzie Hughes won in a five-man playoff to secure his first PGA Tour victory. He’s back in the field this year to defend his title.

Check out out photos from Sea Island G.C. below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

 

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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Tuesday’s Photos from the 2017 RSM Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from The 2017 RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club — the Seaside course plays as a par 70 measuring 7,005 yards — in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Related

Headlined by last week’s OHL Classic champion Patton Kizzire, and 2015 RSM Champion Kevin Kisner, this week’s field is filled with notable names including Ricky Barnes, Zac Blair, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Harris English, Tommy Gainey, Bill Haas, Beau Hossler, Zach Johnson, Smylie Kaufman, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell, Ollie Schniederjans, Brandt Snedeker, Hudson Swafford, Bubba Watson and others.

In last year’s RSM Classic, Mackenzie Hughes won in a five-man playoff to secure his first PGA Tour victory. He’s back in the field this year to defend his title.

Check out out photos from Sea Island G.C. below!

Tuesday’s Galleries

Special Galleries

 

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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