It’s about to be over. Pack it in. Everybody out.
That’s it, 2016 is all but done. But before we comfortably slip into 2017, let’s take a look back and heap accolade, laurels, compliments and/or derisions upon those who rose above or fell below the rest, at least in the opinion of my skewed mind. Here are the award winners:
Shot of the Year I Did Not See
That goes to Zach Zaback for acing the first hole at the start of the second 18 in the finals of the Connecticut Amateur that he won at Wethersfield Country Club, which just celebrated its centennial. That day the hole was 324 yards from tee to cup.
This was the first known ace at the debut hole, a feat made even more remarkable considering that for 30-plus years, Wethersfield was the venue for various incarnations of the PGA Tour’s Greater Hartford Open. Lee Trevino, who had a house along the course, was a Wethersfield member for a number of years.
Best Shot I Did See
An ace at the 16th hole of Longmeadow Country Club in Massachusetts that was playing 114 yards that day. Adding to the fun, the lone Longmeadow member of the group talked the shot into the jar from the second it left the guest’s clubface. “Spin and go left,” the member called out as the ball dropped toward the green. When it did just that, he followed with, “go left, go left, go in!” And it did.
Speaking of Longmeadow, the Donald Ross design was maligned by this quote that took The More You Talk the Dumber You Sound Award:
Golfer no. 1: “Longmeadow Country Club has the worst driving range in the history of golf.”
Golfer no. 2: “Well… that’s typical Donald Ross.”
What insight. I would love to hear his thoughts on other classic era architects. He probably has choice words about the chipping greens at Herbert Strong-designed courses.
The Worst Announcing Comment of the Year
This is presented to Ian Baker Finch for accidentally explaining why trees and golf courses go together like Fruit Loops and headcheese, while also issuing words of warning. “You have to be very careful in the woods here, the roots are way above the ground.”
It’s Not Always About You and Backhanded Compliment Awards
Both go to architect Gil Hanse for one quip. Asked by the Boston Herald to comment on the death of Arnold Palmer, Hanse was quoted as saying, in part, “We have been honored to follow in his footsteps at TPC Boston, where his routing and original design provided a solid foundation for us to work from.”
First of all, why even bring up anything about yourself in a story about the King’s passing? Second, Hanse didn’t follow Palmer’s footstep at TPC Boston, he rightfully eradicated them.
PGA Tour players despised the original Palmer design that is home to the Deutche Bank Classic from the get-go. First the tour, then Hanse wiped away almost all of Palmer’s original work, rebuilding the 18th green more than a few times along the way.
The word in Norton, Massachusetts, where the course is located was that Palmer was so angry with the multiple renovations that he threatened to have his name taken off the road leading to the club.
The Worst Award
This award goes to a unanimous, hands-down winner, according to all the voices in my head: Golf Inc. magazine named Keney Park Golf Course, a municipal facility in Hartford, Connecticut, its redesign of the year. Wow, they must have spent seconds upon seconds of research before throwing that bouquet. Keney opened a year later than planned and at 100 percent over budget. What was supposed to be a $5 million project, including irrigation and a totally refurbished clubhouse, wracked up a price tag of $10 million-plus.
Biggest Architectural Surprise For Me (tie)
Quogue Field Club and Blue Mound Country Club share the honors.
The nine-hole, 1901 Tom Bendelow-designed Quogue on Long Island, New York, is an absolute stunner brimming with strategy, even though it sits on ground that is basketball-court flat.
If Blue Mound in Milwaukee can see its way to take down many more trees as well as restore greens and fairways to the original dimensions, this will be one of the highest-regarded Seth Raynor designs there is. Even so, it has a bevy of wonderful holes and is worth a visit.