CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Holiday wishes while wondering when Annika Sorenstam is going to take a seat at the Augusta National roundtable.
That Goldman Sachs whips the American Golf Corporation into shape by putting Troon Golf in control of its high-end courses and establishing minimal service levels and conditioning at its bottom-basement facilities.
That more golf courses draw the line at 4:15 for an 18-hole round of golf instead of letting the acceptable pace of play at America's most popular destinations creep toward 4:45. Rangers and player assistance employees should be empowered, and expected, to keep the pace of play, not just expected to drive around the course and smile in between their complimentary rounds.
That service levels in the Grand Strand return to the salad days of the early and mid-1990s. It's the little things that add up: towels in the carts, free divot repair tools and bag tags, and respectable range balls and baskets. That more and more retired couples are choosing to retire in the Grand Strand is great for the economy. But 60-year-old, ex-hardware salesmen from Pittsburgh with "edgy" personalities working as outside services employees don't always do wonders for customer relations.
That facilities like Troon North and Harbour Town come to their senses and make their world-class courses available during shoulder seasons and off peak times for less than a college tuition payment. If you played all three layouts (36 holes at Troon North, 18 at Harbour Town) it would run you almost a grand. We realize these courses typically get the fee they ask for, but wouldn't it be in everyone's best interest to come off the $250 to $295 price tag when the Bermuda is as crisp as the bacon at a greasy spoon diner?
That Tom Doak, Todd Eckenrode, Tripp Davis, Roy Bechtol, Randy Russell, Tim Cate, Jeff Brauer, Davis Love III and Bob Spence keep churning out award-winning, awe-inspiring golf courses despite being eclipsed by heavyweights with names like Palmer, Nicklaus, Dye, Jones and Fazio.
That the Wachovia Championship - Charlotte's first PGA Tour event since the Kemper Open left town more than 20 years ago - becomes one of the best early season stops on tour in 2003. Professional golf has not been kind to the Carolinas of late, with the Senior Tour Championship and the LPGA's City of Hope Classic bolting from Myrtle Beach, the Senior Tour's Home Depot Invitational pulling out of Charlotte and RJR Championships leaving the Triad.
That golfers begin to realize what a diverse, high-quality golf destination Texas can be if you pick the right town and the time of year. The Hill Country cities of Austin and San Antonio are something to behold in the spring and they have the quality layouts to match. Play 36 holes at Barton Creek, wolf down some beef brisket for dinner, spend the late evening hours on 6th Street jamming to every style of music under the sun, and then tell me there's a better place to hang in the lower 48.
That Bud Selig retires from his post as Major League Baseball Commissioner for a cushy job as the president of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, the Grand Strand's marketing behemoth. Then he could put his now-defunct contraction plan to work on Myrtle Beach's 120-plus golf courses.
Because there seems to be no end to the number of folks relocating to the area - and God knows they all love to shop - all Selig would need to do is take the 20 worst tracks at the beach and turn them into subdivisions and shopping malls. There'd be more resident golfers, fewer peaks and valleys between the peak seasons and shoulder seasons, and rounds per course would rise faster than mercury in Death Valley.
That after seemingly countless years and two rainforests worth of pulp on the short game, Dave Pelz gives up on the average golfer getting any better around the green and dedicates himself to teaching us all how to grip it and rip it. I could really use some help with my driver.
December 1, 2002
Simply select where you want to play, find a tee time deal, and golf now!