Friday, March 05, 2010

Florida Blows!

OK, all you touchy Floridians, just relax! The title was merely to get your dander up. I am quite fond of Florida - as a place to temporarily visit for a nice relaxing vacation only during certain weeks of the year when there isn't a terrible heat wave, downpour, hurricane, or surprisingly cold and windy weather. But seriously, this is not an article about how much or how little I, or anyone else, likes Florida. Rather, it is about how those docile looking flat and sandy South Florida golf courses can look so tame, but play so tough when the winds start to howl.

If you read my previous post, a review of the Southern Dunes course in Haines City, you know that I recently battled the wind and cold in Florida myself, and I was beaten soundly. Well, perhaps to make myself feel better about my own game, I found it particularly interesting to watch some of the PGAs best deal with that wind yesterday in the first round of The Honda Classic played at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. I have not played PGA National yet, but have played many rounds in South Florida including two at Tom Fazio's Emerald Dunes course, just down the road from PGA National.

Obviously, that particular course at PGA National is a major contributor to the diffculty. In fact, last season, the 14th and 17th holes both ranked among the five most difficult Par 3s on the PGA Tour. The stretch of holes from 15th-17th is known as The Bear Trap, and plays very strong with water everywhere. Water should not cause anyone on the PGA Tour to tremble in my estimation, so I will reiterate that it is the winds that make this course so difficult, and yesterday in particular.

Some stats to back me up include the following:

  • Only 29.3% of the field yesterday finished with a score of Par or better, and only 23% broke Par.
  • The average score for the 143 players in Round 1 was 72.41, 2.41 strokes over Par.
  • Two players finished in the 80s, two more finished at 79, including the defending champion Y.E. Yang who took a 9 on the second hole and shot 8-over on the front nine!
  • Former PGA Championship winner, Rich Beem, withdrew after shooting 78.
I look forward to how the pros handle round two, especially if the wind keeps up, but for now, I will simply take solace in the fact that when you play on a tough Florida course with cool temperatures and the wind blowing, your score will likely be elevated, even in a state where not much else is.

Fairways and Greens!

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