Tag Archives: Riviera Country Club

Turnberry View Purchase Hits a Snag

Our campaign to buy and restore Scotland’s Ailsa Craig got off to a brilliant start with a thousand-dollar pledge from the American lawyer and football coach, John Mullen. I was confident that an even bigger endowment would be coming from the R&A after I received an enthusiastic bordering on chauvinistic email from David Hill, the R&A’s recently-retired championships director. But now Hill seems to be experiencing buyer’s remorse. He writes:

As much as I would love 1.) to be retired and, 2.) be the former director of championships for the R&A, [my] comment was not from THAT David Hill. I don’t want you to get an earful from the distinguished Mr. Hill on your next journey across the pond …. I’m just your average American 12 handicapper of Scottish heritage that has a passion for golf and happens to write a golf diary blog, 1beardedgolfer.

Anybody who has directed a capital campaign or served as auctioneer at a school fundraiser is familiar with this dodge. I didn’t raise my hand! … It’s a forgery! … I have an evil twin!  And now, repackaged for modern times: Somebody hacked my account!

Experience has taught me to handle these little dustups with tact and magnanimity, so I am publicly releasing Mr. Hill from his pledge of half-a-million British pounds, or whatever amount it was that he forgot to specify in his impulsive bestowal. I’m sure that other active R&Aers (if that is not an oxymoron) will promptly make up the difference. Ailsa Craig, after all, is a British rock.*

*Note to self: Check DVR for concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Looking for cheaper thrills? They’ll be here soon in the form of a new edition of Tom Doak’s The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses. Doak’s original book, published 15 years ago and now selling for more than $250 a copy, featured his feverish reviews of the world’s best-known layouts, some of which provoked outrage from established course architects. Now that he is an acclaimed designer in his own right (22nd-ranked Old Macdonald, 48th-ranked Streamsong Blue and four other top-100 tracks), Doak has enlisted three co-authors for his update, which will appear in five volumes, starting with “Great Britain and Ireland.”

To whet our appetites, a recent Doak newsletter offered up several “Best of 2013” lists that seem to endorse the Top 50’s more-scientific ranking. For instance, fifth-ranked Castle Stuart Golf Links placed second and 32nd-ranked Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club placed third on Doak’s “Top Ten Discoveries of 2013,” otherwise described as “Best courses I saw for the first time.” Similarly, Doak reveals himself to being a step behind Garrity when he picks the par-4 third at Castle Stuart and the par-5 fifth on No. 1 Carne’s new Kilmore nine among his “Best Golf Holes Discovered in 2013.”

In fairness to Doak, no lone actor can hope to match the Top 50’s resources. And if you believe that, I’ve got an island in the Firth of Clyde to sell you.

Kilmore Links at Carne

Carne’s Kilmore links: Would a better name be Steroidal Dunes? (Larry Lambrecht)

Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week — sorry, 51st-ranked Riviera Country Club — but Links Magazine’s Thomas Dunne has written a compelling review of the above-mentioned Kilmore nine at top-ranked Carne. “It’s a certain kind of golfer who is attracted to big-dunes links courses,” Dunne begins, no doubt thinking of me. “They’re hardy and fun-loving, more accepting of quirky design, and, perhaps, a bit more interested in pulling off heroic shots than strictly adhering to a card-and-pencil mentality.” He goes on to correctly describe Carne as the “Big Daddy” of big-dunes courses and the Kilmore as “an array of memorable holes within the grand and chaotic dunes. My favorite is the mid-length par-four 8th, where the green complex seems to rise from the valley floor like a primitive dagger.”

As the Kilmore beds down into its natural surroundings, it remains to be seen how the club will deploy the new nine. A composite routing in which [the Jim Engh/Ally McIntosh] holes are folded into Hackett’s back nine is one compelling possibility, as this combination would produce one of the most thrilling big-dune experiences in the game. However, Hackett’s front side, while set in more modest terrain (relatively speaking — it’s still Carne!), might out-punch the original back nine purely on the merits of their respective holes. The ideal solution, of course, is simply to play all 27.

Click here for the rest of Dunne’s essay. And click here to book a round at Carne. (Full disclosure: I am an honorary lifetime member, but I receive no commission for referrals.)

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Riviera’s 10th: Best Drivable Par 4?

I was 999 words into an appreciation of the drivable, par-4 10th at Riviera Country Club, site of this week’s Northern Trust Open, when Geoff Shackelford posted this great photograph of the hole — taken, apparently, from a stepladder balanced on top of a carnival tractor. There are no people in Geoff’s photo, so I’m guessing he took it either on Tuesday, when the Oscar nominations were being announced, or this afternoon, when the threesome of Jonathan Byrd, Kevin Sutherland and Charlie Wi made the turn.

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The 10th at Riviera C.C. (Geoff Shackelford)

A picture being worth the proverbial thousand words, I trashed my comments and drove over to the SI Vault to see if the curators had preserved an essay I wrote about Riviera’s 10th during the 1995 PGA Championship (won by Steve Elkington). I found it in a folder labeled “Literary Gems,” next to one of Dan Patrick’s Q&A columns. Titled “Short and Sweet,” it played off a number of Hollywood tropes. “What a performance!” it began …

… On Thursday, the 10th hole at Riviera Country Club wore a beret and wondered, in a boozy voice, if “ze golfair” would be interested in some stimulating postcards. On Friday, the 10th played the teenager with rolled-up sleeves who offered you a cigarette when you were 11. On Saturday, the 10th put on a striped jacket and stood outside a tent extolling the charms of Little Egypt. And on Sunday, when the PGA Championship was ripe for the taking, the 10th wore a trench coat and tried to entice the big hitters with promises of a nuclear device.

A hole has to have a lot of personality to get me that wound up. The 10th at Riviera is my favorite drivable par-4, and I suspect it is the favorite of most modern golf architects. Bobby Weed cited it as the inspiration for his 16th hole at the University of Florida Golf Course (See “This Old Course”), although he was probably forgetting that the Scots were building drivable par 4s before he was born — the difference being that the Scots also built unreachable par 3s. (The eight seaside holes at James Braid’s Girvan Golf Course, just down the road from Turnberry, seem to have had par assigned by dropping numbered stones from a helicopter.)

If Shackelford’s pic and my purple prose don’t satisfy your pangs for 10th-hole trivia, you can pig out on Steve DiMeglio’s recent piece in USAToday, which begins, “Short and sweet — and plenty dangerous.”

Or is that the first line of Steve’s bio?

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