Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bryan Park An Interesting Choice

According to the News & Record, Bryan Park's Champions course will be awarded the 2010 United States Amateur Public Links championship. This is one of the biggies in American amateur golf, and the winner will receive an invitation to the 2011 Masters, barring any rule changes between now and then. It is great news for Greensboro.

The Champions course is both challenging and picturesque, but I am surprised at this announcement for two reasons. Being selected for a USGA event is usually very political, and I don't think anyone associated with Bryan Park or Greensboro has strong ties to the USGA. The other reason I am surprised is that while the course is challenging, it has some really funky holes.

The tee shot on #13 requires players to hit into a fairway that is almost perpendicular to the shot. Combining that orientation with the hard ground in the summer, players will find even their best tee shots punished on that hole. And a Lake Townsend alcove protrudes into the fairway on #15, so that will require players to hit anywhere from a 3-iron to a 3-wood. That is a serious no-no on a par five.

I heard criticism of these two holes when Bryan Park hosted the 2002 NC Mid-Amateur, its last big men's event. And one official from the Carolinas Golf Association told me they would be unlikely to bring another of their major tournaments back to Bryan Park for that reason.

Another question comes to mind regarding this tournament. The USGA will demand that the course conditions be as close to perfect for this tournament, which is normally contested in mid-July. The heat that time of year is tough on golf courses, so I wonder who will pay for the extra money likely required to get the course in tip-top shape.

Will it be the City of Greensboro or Pinnacle Golf Properties, the contractor who operates Bryan Park?


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