Greetings From L.A., Final Edition

greetingsfromLAAfter meeting Golf Digest fashion guru Marty Hackel, I now realize I have way too much khaki in my life. I need serious help. A khaki intervention perhaps?

Of course I'm not going to go all green pants and pink shirt like the sometimes Golf Channel fashion critic sported Saturday, nor will I dare to try the fire engine red slacks he sported Sunday, yet I am re-evaluating my love of beige trousers. (But it's so easy to coordinate in the dark!).

Oh, the Nissan Open at Riviera. Right. Well, the PGA Tour's setup of the course was a tad uninspired this year. Recent years have seen a nice variety of hole locations and alternate tee locations. But three straight days of a front right hole on 15 and another three straight back left on 6 did not exactly take advantage of possibilities with incredibly fast and firm greens. Then again, there were no major glitches and the players were allowed to display their talent, so all in all, a good week for the PGA Tour's Mark Russell and his hard working crew.

As in other recent years, I come away even more impressed by Captain Thomas's design despite all of the poor changes and grateful that the players love it, even if they have no idea why beyond the usual "it's right in front of you" line.

I'm not surprised by how little the major changes (length, shifted bunkers) increase scoring. Perhaps because each time the Fazio gang tends to chip away at the little subtle features and deceptive touches that make the course difficult, all in the name of visibility or framing. 

Take for instance the two par-5s on the back nine, where they brought in fairway bunkering to close off the approaches for those attempting to get home on these once-long holes. Both holes saw bunker shifting that much better defines where the green begins, which actually making it easier to pick out the target for a good player, especially for those who lay up on these holes. Both used to pose difficult third shots because of they were so undefined, but not anymore.

New look No. 11 (Click to enlarge)
In the case of the 11th, the shaping eliminated an old bank which kicked balls down into the right bunker or rough. The  top edge of the bunker extension is now slightly angled to kick a ball toward the green instead of away from it. The difference is slight, but in no way is the hole more difficult for a good player. (The scoring average went down to 4.596 from 4.647 last year, even though the greens were much firmer this year and the hole had been given new "strength." The 17th also played easier this year statistically.)

As for the great tenth, I'll get to that tomorrow with some photos and ShotLink stuff. I know you can't wait.