The recent AT&T Championship (Champions Tour) was won convincingly by a reinvigorated, relatively pain-free Freddie Couples on a brand spanking new golf course – the Canyons Course at the J.W. Marriott resort in San Antonio. It’s the same complex that contains the TPC course where this year’s Valero Texas Open was played, the one where Kevin Na made his 16.
The course got good reviews from the players, and a (totally unbiased, I’m sure) Fred Couples rated it a 10. The only quibble he had was that there were some rocks in the rough. Hale Irwin also commented on the rocks, saying that he heard a lot of clubs hitting rocks, and that would continue until the rocks were picked up as the course matures.
I hate to disappointment Couples and Irwin, but expecting the rocks at that course to disappear is like expecting the sand to go away in the rough at Dubai. The course is built on the Balcones Escarpment, the bluffs that mark the southern edge of the Texas Hill Country. The hill country is hilly because it’s hard to wear rocks down to flat ground.
As I’ve mentioned before, I live along the same escarpment, although in a much lower rent district. If you want to dig a hole around here without power equipment, a shovel isn’t your best tool. A digging bar is much better. For those unfamiliar with this diabolical contraption, a digging bar is five foot length of iron with a point on the end. You jam it into the ground, wiggle it vigorously, and loosen the rocks. Scratch out what you’ve loosened and do it again, and again, and again. It’s easier to plant shrubs in raised beds rather than digging a hole. If you put in a swimming pool, you are likely to have to blast in order to dig the hole.
Most of the courses I play have rocks in the rough and my clubs show it. If you don’t like rocks, you need to stay out of the rough. In fact, that’s what Colby Callaway, the AT&T tournament director said in response to Couples and Irwin. The rough will get thicker as the grass matures and the current drought ends, but the the rocks will always be there.
I’ll be glad to loan out my old rock club to anyone who wants it for next year’s tournament. I’ll also gladly conduct a clinic on picking balls off of solid rock with minimal damage to golfer or clubs. I only require a small cut of any winnings directly or indirectly attributable thereto.
I may be contacted via this website. Private lessons are available for a nominal fee.
(Comments of Couples, Irwin, and Callaway from “The Golf Course Was A 10”, article in San Antonio Express-News, October 19, 2011.)