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