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Monday
Sep102007

Glimpses of East Lake's Greens

EastLakemowing.jpgAtlanta-based photographer and new blogger Rob Matre has posted 42 images of East Lake's greens. Frankly, I expected much worse. Yes, a few of the greens look horrific, but many others only appear to have minor issues on the out edges.

More offensive is that blinding bunker sand, but that's just me.

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Reader Comments (42)

East Lake should have been made into a museum. Golf should still be allowed to be played, but being the Jones worshiper that I am, I think it should have been preserved exactly as it was when Bob was learning the game there. Too late for that now, of course. Wonder what Bob would think of the FedExCup race...
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterJosh Hoisington
I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple players withdraw because of this.

ES
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterEric Stratton
"Other than the greens, East Lake looks to be in fantastic condition."

It's like saying "Other than being pregnant, she's a virgin."

Thanks for the photos, Rob.

For myself, I don't care how they look. The varying thicknesses will cause putts to bounce. Getting the speed down will be near impossible. This situation will tend to equalize everyone's putting ability. It also will prohibit John Brendle from sticking flags close to the edges to enhance the challenge. It will be difficult to separate the field, even tho it's only 30 guys. Birdies will be rarer, and eagles almost non-existent.

I'm sure this is exactly how the PGA Tour wants to showcase its best in the inaugural FECES.

That fact that NBC asked the PGAT to move the event to Sawgrass' better conditions and was turned down proves what this is all about -- money, not determining the best player. Money from corporate schmoozing, primarily, because while the TV infrastructure and golf itself could have been moved as late as last evening, the corporate hospitality castles could not.

4p
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterFour-putt
The greens look just like the local muni that I practice on ...

Look for Tiger to win again with stellar putting as he grew up on muni greens ...
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike B.
Anybody else having trouble with the pictures loading? Tried the links above and directly off the bloggers website with no luck,
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterRay Millar
By far the best looking unplayable greens I've ever seen. Over here, not many courses have greens that look better than that before May.
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Hard to tell from pictures, but those greens don't look that bad. I imagine they must be worse if they're not letting the players on them until Thursday however.

With that said, I think it will be a non-issue for the most part once play starts. They may be on the slow side, but rolling them (even if they're mainly dirt/sand) will go a long, long way. With only 15 groups on the course (and 30 sets of spikes), wear and tear should be minimal.

They'll obviously lose a few pin positions here and there, but the overall impact will likely be negligible.
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterCMA
I loved how the media and a lot of tour pros bashed these greens before they ever looked at them
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterS&T Convert
I quote my esteemed colleague from the other side of the aisle--- "...proves what this is all about -- money, not determining the best player"

My guess is that nobody withdraws due to the greens...the top 30 have too much class to hurt the tour that way, and if not that, because because the tour strong arms them.

However, if the purse were halved because the event were moved, and the tour's obligations to Coca-Cola could not be fulfilled, then i bet several guys withdraw.

"its about the money"--no kidding. Anyone over 16 knows that.

Its about the money for all of us.
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterOtter
Condition of the greens...what does it matter? If they are dirt, concrete or smooth Augusta-like grass....it really is irrelevant. They will all be putting on the same surfaces. I personally favor less than perfect greens. Kind of like the furrowed bunkers at Memorial....adds a element of uncertainty.
09.10.2007 | Unregistered Commenterpc
pc, it matters because smooth, consistent greens accentuate the differences in skill, and bumpy, random, inconsistent greens minimize them.

Eric Stratton - would you withdraw if you were going to make $280,000 for just showing up? Tough it out for 4 days and cash your check - what's so hard with that?
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterWayneK
The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

OK, so some of the pics show the greens are not a la Augusta in April. Here's a news flash, folks...it's early September, it's been hot, and this is how greens can get if they are not tended to like a newborn baby.

It makes it really tough for me to see how the players are not going to further distance themselves from a great deal of fans by complaining about:
(1) those wretched greens that look like a set of public course greens in "not so bad" shape for this time of year in a hot hot summer, and
(2) my $10MM is deferred and not in a wheelbarrow, like FIGJAM wants.

Shut up, tee it up, and see what score wins. They're all playing the same track. Don't want to hit from the poor sections of the green? Here's two solutions: 1) Don't put the pins near the fringe of the green (sacrilege!), and 2) don't hit the freakin' ball there. Treat it like a hazard. You know it's there, so avoid it or pay the potential penalty from a bad roll.

Whiners need not apply to play Pete the Luddite's World of Golf!
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite
Pete wrote:

"don't hit the freakin' ball there. Treat it like a hazard. You know it's there, so avoid it or pay the potential penalty from a bad roll."

That's really not golf. And that's not how the course was meant to be played. If parts of the green are to be avoided becasue of their poor condition, then a major tournament with a lot at stake should not be played there.

This is the freaking PGA Tour and their season-ending event will be played on a course with greens that can't even be touched until play starts. No matter whose fault it is (mother nature, human mistake) it doesn't matter, it is unacceptable.

This would be unacceptable at a member-guest at a mid-level club.

I don't fault the players at all for complaining,
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Martin - I agree but there is this thing in golf called the "rub of the green". It's equivalent to hitting a perfect drive down 300 down the middle only to have it end up in a huge divot. Perfect conditions don't exist in golf. Luck or bad luck is part of the essence of the game.
09.10.2007 | Unregistered Commenterpc
I agree that it's not ideal, but I'd argue that we should reserve judgement until the tournament officially starts. Like I said above, double rolled dirt/sand can roll pretty damn true. As long as they keep the pins a reasonable distance from the really bare spots, everything should be fine.


And I'm tired of hearing how much is "at stake" here. The TC and the FEC are nothing but huge money grabs for the tour elite. Last I checked, none of the players were putting up there own money for this event.



09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterCMA
Those greens are horrendous.

East Lake have very limited play and umlimited resources, there is no excuse for the condition (or lack thereof) of these greens.

This is just one more gaffe in a season of Fed Ex related blunders.

I'll be surprised if we don't see a withdrawal or two between now and Thursday.

ES

PS...to respond to above, me personally, no I would not withdraw if there was a $280,000 guarantee waiting for me (but there's not, last place is considerably less than that). But I am certain that Phil Mickelson and many other players aren't the least bit motivated by last place money at this tourney as evidenced by Tiger and Phil not showing up for prior Tour Championship's. If I'm not mistaken Paddy Harrington has already withdrawn? (any confirmation on this? obviously not due to greens, but goes to my point that the money is a non-issue)

PPS...to the other post that says players won't "disrespect" the tour and withdraw - come on now, this is EXACTLY what Phil and Tiger have done the last couple/few Tour Championships. Keep in mind that lousy greens are the primary reason Tiger doesn't play Pebble every year (I recognize that ProAm format a problem too but greens are the main reason).
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterEric Stratton
"The greens look just like the local muni that I practice on ..."

You ought to move here. We have many munis that are better than most private clubs.

Harborside Port
Harborside Starboard
Bolingbrook
Seven Bridges
Heritage Bluffs
Orchard Valley
Prairie Landing
Shepherd's Crook
SteepleChase
Tradition at Chevy Chase
ThunderHawk
Village Links of Glen Ellyn



09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterChicago kid
Just sitting here wondering what is keeping Tiger from starting his own Tour, in light of all this BS. He could play the four majors, a few invitationals like the Memorial plus a few sponsors exemptions and have his own series of invitational events. The other marquee-name players would have to subscribe, but if you think they'd stay loyal to PVB through thick and thin, you're reading too many monthly golf magazines.

Then you'd really hear squawking from those ungrateful slobs down-the-list who have been secretly ripping on Tiger the last few years. Notice recently, some of it has been leaking into the media as players embolden themselves.

And don't think The Timothy isn't aware of this type of Tiger Tour scenario, either.

4p
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterFour-putt
Hang on there Chicago, I live here and I've played all of the courses on your list, most of them this year. What private clubs in this District do you feel that these courses are better than?

The simple fact of the matter is that most of the private clubs in town do not get the amount of play that these public courses get, and therefore their level of conditioning is better.

You can certainly get a week or two when a course like Heritage Bluffs cuts and rolls their greens (try the end of May when they have their two-day HB Open), but the rest of the year the greens are seven or eight on the stimpmeter, and absolutely nothing whatsoever like the greens on almost any private club in the District.

Finally, I will conclude my rant by wondering how you left Pine Meadow or Dubsdread off your list? If Ken Lapp could grow grass at Dubs like they have at the sister Jemsek course at Pine Meadow, Dubs would actually be worth the hefty greens fee.
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterSmolmania
Smolmania, misplaced rant -- Pine Meadow or Dubsdread are not munis.

When I said "private clubs" I was referring to private clubs in general, not just in the Chicago area. We're spoiled. Both our munis and private clubs for the most part are a huge upgrade from what you find anywhere else.

When I said "better" I meant a better experience not exclusive to conditioning. I played Onwentsia in a 2-club wind a few weeks ago and the entire course was so firm it was impossible to stop balls from rolling. Great to be at Onwentsia, but NOT FUN.

Ever play private clubs like Princeton, Rochelle, Cress Creek, EagleBrook, Old Wayne, Stonehenge, Crystal Lake, Calumet, White Eagle, Prestwick, Joliet, Itasca, Macomb, Hickory Knolls, Hidden Lake, Streator, Ottawa -- nice places, nice people, but not as stimulating golf-wise as some on my list.

I mean, when someone says "private club" not everyone is lucky enough like you to visualize places like Shoreacres, Chicago, Medinah, Bob O'Link, Butler, Beverly, etc.



09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterChicago kid
"reserve judgment until the tournament starts" ???

well, considering the players are not allowed to putt on them or even hit approach shots into them until thursday, don't you think it is a problem NOW, a tour event where players can't even play a practice round beforehand, I think that is a bigger issue than what the greens will be like on thursday, some players in the field have never played East Lake before, I think that is a huge problem, it is a PGA Tour event for pete's sake!! -- no practice rounds!!
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
UPDATE:

"The PGA Tour announced Monday that players for the Tour Championship, which begins Thursday, will now be allowed to play restricted practice rounds Tuesday and Wednesday. The tour announced Sunday that all practice rounds and the pro-am was cancelled due to the poor condition of the greens.

The tour made the announcement due to the "moderately improved conditions to the greens at East Lake Golf Club."

Three greens will remain closed to practice rounds - Nos. 2, 13 and 15. All other holes may be played in their entirety.

There will still be no Wednesday pro-am and the course will remain closed to the public until Thursday."

-- From the AJC
09.10.2007 | Unregistered CommenterFour-putt
Does not look like the end of the world to me - the Course looks more artificially buffed up than most people's living rooms.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered Commenterbs
Joe,
You cleary know next to nothing about maintaining a golf course - especialy bent greens in the South during the summer. No question mistakes were made, but they are trying their best to make sure the greens are as fair as possible come Thursday. If that means keeping players off of them for a few days, how can you really have an issue with that?
09.11.2007 | Unregistered CommenterCMA
There are courses in the Atlanta area with bent grass greens and they are fine.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Princeton, Rochelle, Cress Creek, EagleBrook, Old Wayne, Stonehenge, Crystal Lake, Calumet, White Eagle, Prestwick, Joliet, Itasca, Macomb, Hickory Knolls, Hidden Lake, Streator, Ottawa

Okay, let's run through your list. Princeton, Rochelle, Macomb, Hickory Knolls, Hidden Lake, Streator, and Ottawa don't really qualify as Chicago District clubs.

We were members at Cress Creek for about 15 years. It has grown into a tree-lined parkland layout which, tho short, is definitely a test. Greens are perfect. The local section thought enough of it to have a Western Open qualifier there last year.

White Eagle and Eagle Brook are far better courses than all but two on your list -- if the superintendant at Harborside had some idea how a links style course could play, those would be fabulous courses, but playing a morning round on those soppy wet tracks can be a painfully slow slog behind a group of people who can't play.

Never been to Joliet or Itasca, but friends who have rave about both -- yes, they're not Beverly or Onwentsia, but to attempt to compare them to the courses on your list is a little bit absurd.

And what of poor Calumet? Mr. Ross on 14 or 15 holes (they lost some when the highway went through) not good enough for you? In my 3x per season I've found their greens to be almost as good as Ridge CC -- which has in my view the best greens in Chicago.

I'm not saying that your munis are dog tracks. Chicago's public access golf is as good or better than anywhere else. But to tell outsiders that our munis (not publix, but actual munis) come close to the quality of condition of the average private club is simply wrong.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered CommenterSmolmania
I agree with CMA. Play em as they lie! As I stated before, it's the same for all players. Who cares if conditions are not absolutely perfect. Seems many of you have fallen ill with Augusta-itis. Joe, my guess is that you favor "lift, clean and place" as well.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered Commenterpc
Of course they should play it as it lies, they have no choice-- the course condition is what it is and it is the same for everybody.

But that doesn't mean the Tour and other tournament officials should be free from criticism for this mess.

Yes, sh!t happens, I understand that. But the Tour did not manage this very well and that is where my criticism lies.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
"There are courses in the Atlanta area with bent grass greens and they are fine"

I know, and I don't think we're really that far apart on this issue. Those courses weren't planning to hold a major PGA event, and could probably afford to cut the greens a little higher during the really warm spells.

I'm speculating of course, but my guess is that East Lake or the Tour had an ideal green speed in mind for the TC, and cutting the greens higher in August just wasn't an option for them.

In hindsight, maybe that was a pretty stupid decision, or they should have taken other steps to relieve the stress on the grass - like fans. Of course someone should get some crap for it - maybe even get fired - but I just don’t think it is going to have a major effect on the outcome of the tournament. My guess is that the greens will still stimp around 9 or higher, and will put just true as the average private club in America.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered CommenterCMA
What I heard was that the super recognized the problem and the stress on the greens weeks ago and suggested heavy use of fans-- but for some reason was told no by the Tour, and rather to just let nature take its course. The weather didn't improve and the greens got worse. Now they are trying to play catch up with fans and limited use on the greens. Because of the damage, they won't be a able to use some of the hole locations near the edges of the greens. Which is unfortunate because those hole locations are part of the charm and difficulty of the course. So most of the hole locations will be in the middle of the greens.

The course will be playable and the same for everyone, but a lot of sponsors put up a lot of money, the players have been told to buy into this huge event, and then the Tour botches the course maintenance at a great course with great greens. I can see why it doesn't sit well with the players.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Joe, according to a thread I saw earlier on Golf Club Atlas DG, it was the manager who put the kibosh on the super's request for 3 or 4 fans per green, not the PGA. Frankly, I don't think the players are going to care much who's at fault -- the greens will clearly not meet the standards that they're used to. However, they will all be putting on the same grass or lack thereof.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered CommenterSmolmania
OK, Smolmania. One more time for clarity:

When I said "private clubs" I was referring to private clubs in general, NOT JUST IN THE CHICAGO AREA. I never specified the Chicago District, which is where you want to limit the discussion so you can validate some sort of point.

We're very spoiled in Chicago. Our munis, publics and private clubs for the most part are a huge upgrade from what you find anywhere else. I was a member of Canongate south of Atlanta, which gave me reciprocity at 13 other private courses (all owned by the same owner) within a 45-minute drive. While they were all nice and fun to play, NONE of them were of a design or in a condition to rival ANY of the courses on my list.

When I said "better" I meant a better experience not exclusive to conditioning -- and you keep going back to that as a qualifier. To your thinking, then, East Lake isn't very good because its greens are crappy?

Obviously, you need to realize the semantics of the term "private club" mean a lot of different things. Old Wayne and Shoreacres are both "private clubs" but have absolutely NOTHING in common.

And by the way -- claiming "everyone will be playing the same greens" is silly coming from someone who sounds like he is otherwise knowledgeable about the game.

Shitty (and slow) greens remove the skill differential between players. Too much good (and bad) luck involved getting the ball close to the hole. You would tell me Stricker and Tiger and maybe Phil will still be the best putters on these greens? No way. And not being able to use the edges for hole locations puts the flags more in the middle, which lets everyone in. It removes the difficulty when a player misses on the short side. That's what they did for years on the Senior Tour, to artificially depress scoring.

The East Lake greens will equalize all of the players' short games -- it will be like limiting all players to no more than 275 yards off the tee, to negate the distance differential.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered CommenterChicago kid
Chicago - perhaps they should make all courses on the tour perfect. Perfect greens with no pitch marks or spike marks, perfect fairways with no undulations which might cause a less than perfect sidehill or downhill lie, of course no old divot holes, and soft fairways so heaven forbid a ball runs into the rough, and they mind as well lift clean and place everything so each player can have a perfect lie in the fairway. This way, all luck will be removed and the skilled players will rise to the top. Give me a break dude. How in the world did Jones, Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus etc vere differentiate themselves with those slow bumby greens they used to play on.
09.11.2007 | Unregistered Commenterpc
You really don't have a clue, do you, pc?
09.11.2007 | Unregistered CommenterChicago kid
I have looked at the pictures of the greens at East Lake and, oddly enough, the greens look similar to how they were for the 2001 U.S. Amateur played at the same venue. It seems the super is still clueless when it comes to this matter. However, in fairness, during the TV broadcast of the Amateur, NBC's Roger Maltbie commented that the greens "look worse than they putt" -- so hopefully, that will be the case this week.
09.12.2007 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
4p said: "The varying thicknesses will cause putts to bounce. Getting the speed down will be near impossible. This situation will tend to equalize everyone's putting ability...It will be difficult to separate the field, even tho it's only 30 guys. Birdies will be rarer, and eagles almost non-existent."

Wow. You really believe the condition of the greens will do all this?

Why should it equalize putting? So if they bounce a little more on some parts of the greens, so what? Isn't that part of judging a putt?

Many people today complain that putting has too much to do with the outcome, so maybe if the putting is equalized a little, it will be a good thing. We also get complaints about the insane pin placements, so maybe the ratty edges of these greens will lead to more reasonable pins.

I try not to be too critical of tour pros when they complain about the things they do, figuring I'm not in their shoes, etc. But one thing I can't help thinking they are just babies about is greens. They complain about greens and I want to vomit. Let them try playing the sorts of greens that 90% of us play.
09.12.2007 | Unregistered Commenter86general
I think it is a shame that they won't be able to use the more difficult "tucked" hole locations. Tucked hole locations have become pretty standard on every Tour setup and i think it does a great job of identifying the best players.

Tucked hole locations really put a premium on accurate iron play, only the best shot with the right trajectory can get close to the hole. It makes players hit draws, fades, low shots, high shots to get the ball in the best spot to make birdie.

It really separates the really good iron players from those who can simply hit it on the green.
09.12.2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

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