A few days ago my friend, Darryl, informed me that our favorite golf course, a place where he and I, along with our third, Jeff, had played scores of rounds. Yes, it was sad news to find out that Colony West Golf Course in Tamarac, Florida had closed.
We played that golf course so many times we dubbed it "The Back Yard." It was an easy choice for a tag as the Colony West executive 18 was, literally, the backyard of Jeff's house. It got so that when we would call each other to arrange a round, we would talk in a sort of code, like "The Back Yard, 2:30."
The 18-hole Championship course was 7,271 yards from the tips with a par of 71. The course was rated at 75.8 with a slope rating of 138 on Bermuda grass. Designed by Bruce Devlin/Robert Von Hagge, the Championship golf course opened in 1970.
Colony West was right in the heart of Tamarac. Tamarac was a sleepy little retirement community when Colony West was first built. The Everglades were closer to the golf course than the beach.
Today, Tamarac is a booming bedroom community with the main sports arenas for football and hockey, huge shopping centers like Sawgrass Mills and I-75 ramps connecting Naples, Miami and Palm Beach all within a few miles. Developers have been offering wheel barrows of cash to Colony West for the land for 10 years. Finally, I guess, they got an offer they couldn't refuse.
Colony West was always in excellent condition with fairways and rough cut, flowers around the course and water hazards clear of cut grass and algae. Colony West was also the home to numerous large iguanas that had escaped or been relieved of their duties as house pets.
The last time I played the Back Yard, it was hard not to notice that things had begun to change. Ownership seemed to tire of the running of the course. First, they began to push foursomes out. Wait, push is not the right word. Stuff or cram works much better. It became a home of 5 to six hour rounds with a wait on every hole. On par fives, it wasn't unusual to have three foursomes on the same hole. Then the maintenance was cut back, and the course recovered less and less each year. The once well stocked pro shop simply became a bare bones pay-your-green-fees and reload on golf balls room.
This continued over the years, and like a self fulfilling prophecy, the crowded fairways were solved as players found other courses to go and enjoy their day. No players, no green fees, layoffs, less service and your left with just a shell of what was once a thriving and enjoyable golf experience.
Now, the South Florida vegetation will take over, and Colony West will return to the acres of fica trees, Bermuda grass and razor sharp sawgrass. Sawgrass is a Cladium, the plant referred to by Marjory Stoneman Douglas', "River of Grass." How much so will depend on how soon the whichever developer's deal is finalized.
One thing that the developer cannot have will be my memories of playing with my pals on those fairways and greens. The most memorable is the time that the three of us were playing one humungohumid afternoon. As we played, the rain clouds were rolling in like they do most summer afternoons. On our 15th hole the rain began and by our approach shots on 16, it was coming down in buckets, if buckets were the size of 55 gallon drums. Man, it was pouring. The greens were flooded, and I was using a two iron to putt with. I still couldn't get near the hole.
As we moved to 17, Jeff said he had enough and went in. Darryl and I attempted to finish 17 and 18, just to say we did. Which we did, and have never failed to bring up the episode to Jeff every time we feel some precipitation.
All that is left of what was a fine golf course is our memories of the Back Yard. Another sign that the future of golf is foreboding. To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, they'll pave Colony West and put up a parking lot.
Well, it certainly has been a long time between posts. But as the season is finally under way here in Sweden, I think we can safely say there will more activity through the summer. It is shaping up to be a good one.
In what had to be the most ill kept secret in a long time, it has been decided that the R&A and the USGA will be enforcing the ban on anchoring the putter during the motion of putting. Putting, just like every other stroke, must be a swing. Like the song, putting "don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing" (Ellington/Mills).
What does bother me is the manufacturers and pro players whining how this will hinder growing the game with amateurs. Keep us out of this, because it won't affect we hackers UNLESS we play in sanctioned tournaments. Amateurs can and will continue using and anchoring their long putters. Meanwhile, there are some pros, like Tim Clark, who are very disturbed about the ruling. Excuse me, you are one of an elite group of talented golfers. If you are afraid of moving your hands on your putter out an inch from your chest, then its time to start looking for that comfy club pro job.
Sweden's own David Lingmerth put on quite a show at the Player's Championship. The young man certainly made his mark with the golf world, especially with the TV coverage, as they scrambled to find out who he was. David has made his success the old fashioned way. He jumped in the big boy's pool and has found out he can swim and swim very well. There has been some worry about the next great Swedish male player with Swenson, Pettersson and Karlsson on the other side of their careers. Lingmerth seems ready to take over the role. Another young Swede on the tour is Henrik Norlander, who will be coming home to play in the 2013 Nordea Masters.
Speaking of the Masters, this year's field may be the best in a few years. The event went all out the last few years to attract American tour players. Indeed we saw Fowler, Johnson and Bubba play the tournament. This year we will see the likes of Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Matteo Manassero and
José Maria Olazábal. The Nordea Masters runs from 30 May to 2 June, 2013.
Finally, a few words about the Woods-Garcia "feud." Over the past few years, professional golf has gone from being all about the sport to being all about the personalities. This is not the first time we have talked about golfer's s. There was Hagen and Sarazen, Snead and Hogan, Arnie and Jack and Jack and Tom. However heated those rivalries were, the difference is, they were played out on the golf course.
In today's 24 hour news cycle world, microphones, smart phones, Facebook/Twitter and TV coverage is in the player's faces day after day. At the end of the round, Jack could go home to the wife and kids. Today, reporters catch a sound bite of some pro saying something about another pro. "I played with so and so today and I thought his pants were really baggy. I could hear them flap in the wind." Then they run to so and so saying, "What's his name says your pants distracted him. What do you have to say to that?" Then the answers get picked up on the internet and away we go.
As to Sergio/Tiger? Well, at one time Garcia looked like the player who was going to go toe to toe with Tiger. However, Tiger went in one direction while Sergio another. He must look at Woods and asks himself, why isn't that me? Woods is barking in Sergio's brain and, in the words of Don Henley, "Have you noticed that an angry man/Can only get so far/Until he reconciles the way he thinks things ought to be/With the way things are."
Garcia, no matter how popular he is, has always been a whiner. In the 2002 Ryder Cup, he complained about playing in the rain. The New York fans also brutalized him over that waggle thing. Tiger pulled the club out in the SECOND round. I notice that there has been no concession by the Spanish pro that it was the two he dumped in the drink that lost that tournament. It was the two HE hit in the water that lost it, nobody but him. And now, just like he plays, he's letting his demons and feelings get in the way, as he continues to double bogey with the press. Some guys just don't learn
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