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Freezing Arizona: Accenture Match Play ill-fit to current desert setting?

by   |   February 21, 2013
Accenture Snow

What is that old saying? “Snow on me once in February in Arizona, shame on you. Snow on me twice in February in Arizona, shame on me?” Close enough.

After snow showers were a bother in 2011 and a full-out squall on Wednesday wiped out the latter half of the first round of matches at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, it is time to think of some new ideas of venues for this event. This is not to speak ill of Tucson or its people, but after four separate times when snow has stopped play in the area’s professional golf history, it is time to take Mother Nature’s hint.

Another big strike against the tournament: The somewhat avant-garde Jack Nicklaus-designed course has always grated against most players’ sensibilities with its extremely undulating and at times infuriating green complexes.

Two strikes, Dove Mountain. You’re out.

So, where to next? Assuming the Accenture’s date will not change any time soon, options as to where to stage it are somewhat limited. But there are some factors in its favor, chief among them being the relatively modest average crowd the tournament tends to attract. That, combined with the fact that tournament operators need not worry about scores relative to par, could make for some interesting alternate venues. Here are three moves that would seem to offer more predictably golf-friendly weather and an equally compelling

Option #1: California

Another tournament in the Golden State means the fifth in the space of six weeks, sending the PGA Tour schedule a little out of balance. Nevertheless, the Accenture’s roots are in the San Diego area at La Costa Resort, whose golf courses received a much-needed renovation recently. A contrarian play might be a return to the Palm Springs area, perhaps to Tom Doak’s wild Stone Eagle Golf Club. Either way, the potential for bothersome weather is minimal.

Option #2: Baja California

If desert golf is a must for this event, the Tour would do well to move it as close to the equator as possible. Furthermore, holding the event outside the United Stated lends some more legitimacy to the “World” part of “World Golf Championships.” Baja California, especially Cabo San Lucas, boasts a wealth of great, tournament-quality golf courses. To appease the Golden Bear, his course at Cabo Del Sol is one of the best on the peninsula and plenty long and challenging enough to entertain both the top 64 players in the world and the viewing public. If not Cabo Del Sol, perhaps Diamante Cabo San Lucas would prove a worthy venue, especially since Tiger Woods is designing its second golf course. Either way, the robust winter vacation and residential population would supply a good crowd for the event.

Option #3: Eastward Ho!

This option would cut short the West Coast Swing and have to extend the Florida Swing section of the Tour schedule. If this is not a problem, then there is a brand-new, ideal location for a small-field, smaller-crowd tournament: the chic Streamsong Resort. With two courses — one by Tom Doak and the other by the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw — the Tour could even throw the field a curveball by alternating courses between rounds. Both courses have received rave reviews from both writers and John Q. Public after in less than three months of availability.

Absent a reshuffling of the Tour schedule, it seems sensible and, frankly inevitable, that the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play Championship is not long for the surprisingly snowy hills above Tucson. It seems that like Huckleberry Finn, this event is ready to “light out for the Territory.” Which territory that will be, however, is anybody’s guess.

What venues, both American and international, would YOU like to see host this event? Leave your opinions in the comments, if you would be so kind.

About

Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.


5 Comments

  1. Todd

    February 22, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Why does Arizona need to be out of the loop? As someone who lived in Arizona for 5 years when I was in college at ASU in Phoenix, the weather in Phoenix is not a problem. Sure, the Tradition had snow one year back in ’99, I think, it was trace and did not have a huge impact on the play. Also, there has not been much snow, if any, ever, postponing play at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. In fact, every year I was in college there, snow was not even close to being a factor.

    Tucson is traditionally 3-5 degrees cooler at minimum than Phoenix throughout the year, so snow is more common there. If they found a great course in Phoenix, the tournament would be well-served there. Also, judging by the crowds the WM Phoenix Open draws, it’s safe to say the Match Play would draw significantly more people than in Tucson.

    There is no reason a golf mecca like Phoenix cannot host two events in a year. Plus, instead of the 90-minute drive down to Tucson, many golfers would be able to stay at their own homes in Phoenix, since so many tour pros have homes around the area. Palm Springs would not be bad, but there really is no reason to move it out of Arizona. Moving it out of Tucson? Maybe, but not the entire state.

  2. Craig

    February 21, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Since it’s a, ‘World’ golf championship why not have another event outwith the US?

    Royal Melbourne. One of the best courses in the world and guaranteed decent weather and crowds!

  3. Jud

    February 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    I agree that a different venue would be nice, but please dont change the format or make it a smaller field event. Oh and if small crowds are the norm bring the tourney to Bandon Dunes in Oregon

  4. James

    February 21, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Keep it in the general area. Arizona has a lot of golfers. Why do you think the Waste Management Open has some of the largest crowds in the entire season. Dove Mountain compared to the greater Tucson and even 1.5 hours north in Phoenix is quite a bit higher in altitude. As an Arizonan I feel we deserve at least 2 men’s professinal golf events. Just choose a lower altitude location. I have lived in Arizona for 28 years and have never seen snow in the Phoenix area sit for more then 10 mins.

  5. Mick

    February 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I’d like to see the match play at Sherwood CC in Thousand Oaks, CA –the current home of Tiger’s post season event. It looks really good on TV, and is an exciting match-play course. There are 6 par 5s, 6 par 3s and 6 par 4s with tons of variety and unique looks, and holes 15-18 would offer much excitement. Also the playing areas are small enough that players would be breathing down each other’s necks all day.

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