Senior Open champ Sauers leads Boeing Classic

Daly at the Boeing Classic

John Daly acknowledges the crowd before teeing off at the Boeing Classic Friday at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. Daly, in his first year on the PGA Champions Tour, attracted large galleries. He shot 71 Friday and 71 Saturday to sit 10 strokes behind leader Gene Sauers heading into today's final round. Photo by Scott H. Bisch

John Daly acknowledges the crowd before teeing off at the Boeing Classic Friday at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. Daly, in his first year on the PGA Champions Tour, attracted large galleries. He shot 71 Friday and 71 Saturday to sit 10 strokes behind leader Gene Sauers heading into today’s final round.
Photo by Scott H. Bisch

Global Golf Calendar

This week in golf

Web.com Tour
Aug. 25-28: Winco Foods Portland Open, Witch Hollow Course at Pumpkin Ridge, North Plains, Ore.

PGA Tour Champions
Aug. 26-28: The Boeing Classic, TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie, Wash.

PGA Tour
Aug. 25-28: The Barclays, Bethpage State Park (Black), Farmingdale, N.Y.

LPGA
Aug. 25-28: Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club, Calgary, Canada

Out there

LPGA: The Evian Championship
Sept. 15-18, Evian Resort Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France

The Ryder Cup
Sept. 30-Oct. 2, Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minn.

Inbee Park for President

Kellyanne Conway, the Trump adviser, looks like what we used to call a “sharp cookie.” I don’t have trouble imagining her squinting behind a long-ash butt hanging out the corner of her mouth. Smart, non-ideological, selling sneaky-shitty politics, and not on the cheap.

There are others in the Trump camp we have to love. Chris Christie, fat and corrupt. Rudy Giuliani, a smarmy little prick. Trump and his people make Paul Ryan look like a voice of conscience, heretofore thought impossible.

Even New Yorkers who once voted for Giuliani wish he’d shut up and go away.

He: “Honey, Rudy’s talking on TV.”

She (from the kitchen): “Well, turn the channel, hon. Aren’t the Kardashians on?”

Speaking of maybe not all that bright, how ’bout that Ryan Lochte?

Which brings us around to golf, Olympic golf, Karl Rove-like, while you weren’t looking.

I laid off the Spieths and Days and Johnsons who opted out, because I figured they could make adult decisions as golf professionals. I still think that, but I wonder if they wish now they’d gotten in on it all.

Which is why I think women’s golf is so interesting. Except for the xenophobes who don’t see an American anywhere near the top, we can’t help but admire the best players. Lydia Ko played great in the Olympics, and she couldn’t touch Inbee Park. Going forward, it’s nothing but fascinating, and a real-life feel-good story.

Not like Lochte’s story, which makes me feel like I’d licked the bottom of Kellyanne Conway’s ashtray.

Women Olympians take a spin

It’s hard to be cynical about Olympics golf after watching the men’s final round Sunday. These guys were having fun, on a beautiful new golf course, and the only guy possibly happier than gold medalist Justin Rose was bronze medalist Matt Kuchar. As for silver medalist Henrik Stenson, the big stoic Swede out of Sweden, it was hard to tell. He almost smiled once, I swear to god he did.

Word has it no mosquitoes were seen.

It’s easy to be cynical about the Grey Goatee Golf Association event Saturday after Tim Wiebe, the grizzled campaigner out of Lazy B Golf Ranch in Renton, Wash., took home top money. He played pretty OK, but the best thing he did was play bad enough on the right holes to score in the byzantine 3GA scoring system. You would be right to assume pure blind dumb freaking luck played a part.

The women Olympians take their turn beginning Wednesday on designer Gil Hanse’s Olympic Golf Course. Unlike the men’s tournament, which went on without Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, et al, no one in the women’s world top 15 chose to skip the Olympics. World No. 1 Lydia Ko represents New Zealand; No. 2 Ariya Jutanagarn will play for Thailand.

The only players in the top 15 not in Rio are the three South Koreans left off the four-player Korean Olympic team.

Did I mention mosquitoes? They are not expected to be a problem.

The world is watching

The smart money in the U.S. Senior Open is always — forever? — Bernhard Langer. The smart play has never attracted us … we say, Why not Monty?

They’re teeing off in the Olympics golf tournament in Rio. We’re betting on Patrick Reed … not the people’s choice (none of those guys are even in Rio), but a really good player.

We can hardly blame you if you’re distracted from these big golf events around the world by what is happening Saturday in Chehalis, Wash. Grey Goatee stalwarts will be jockeying for position for the season prize. Gee whiz, you say, all this and the Olympics, too.

The Queen’s Island Tour: Postscript

The back nine, especially, at Storey Creek Golf Club feels like a walk through the deep woods. There are plenty of holes from which you have no view of the course’s civilized amenities. It’s quiet, and cool, and breathtaking. In that setting, there is bound to be wildlife, and there was, but the biggest creatures — deer — were abundant and hardly wild at all.

They were so tame, in fact, that it did no good to shoo them away, and they live in no fear whatsoever of golf balls aimed up the golf course, no matter how close they land. They’re Canadian deer, you know. They’re just different.

***

Lucky Lager isn’t good enough to worry over much, but it’s interesting so see what engages the Grey Goatee Research Cabal. Beer, apparently. They really

Get Lucky.

Get Lucky.

don’t like having to paper over the misstatements of the boss, but hey, get a real job then.

Our crack fact-finders looked into Lucky’s international corporate history — and by “looked into” we mean they lifted their heads, or one of them did, long enough to mumble something to Siri. We wrote something about Lucky originating, as far as we knew, in the other Vancouver, in Washington state, but that was only a stop along the way for Lucky in a history dating to 1934.

If nothing else, the diggers found, this beer, this brand, is a survivor. When Lucky first hit the streets, it was made by General Brewing Co. in San Francisco. It was an American beer (and in fact was brewed in Vancouver USA from 1950 to 1985; then in Tumwater, Wash., home of Olympia Beer) until the brand was acquired by Labatt’s of Canada, and was even made in Victoria until 1982 … so, OK … our researchers do get tired, and confused, and cranky, so we’ll cut to the present. The Lucky brand in Canada is owned by the mega-huge AB InBev corporation, and that seems about right for a beer like Lucky.

We Road Trippers learned, by keen observation, that Lucky is to Vancouver Island as PBR is to Portland, Ore., and other hipster locales – cheap, plentiful, bearable when it’s really cold. The kids love it.

The Lucky with the maple leaf on the label is 5.0 percent alcohol; it was almost certainly 3.2 percent when it was a stateside brew. Luckys are easier to choke down when you know you don’t need six of ‘em to catch a buzz.

***

We booked our tour of the Queen’s island through the folks at Golf Vancouver Island, and it was seamless. Joshua Duncan, our direct contact at Golf Vancouver Island, had an answer to everything we threw at him and couldn’t have known that Crown Isle Resort no longer has a cognac ‘n’ cigar lounge in the main building. We were forced to slip out onto the patio of our ground floor digs for a smoke with a view — of the No. 1 fairway and the leisurely spaced groups working their way down the gentle dogleg-right par-5. It worked.

We know we left some island courses unplayed, including Bear Mountain in Victoria, site next month (Sept. 23-25) of the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, a  Champions Tour event. That could force a trip back northward, sooner rather than later.

 

 

The Queen’s Island Tour, Day Three: Storey Creek

Storey Creek signCAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. — It’s a latter-day trend at golf courses in northwestern North America. Got trees? Thin ‘em out, limb ‘em up, cut ‘em down.

Gearhart Golf Links on the Oregon coast took out 400 shore pines, and it turned the oldest club in the Northwest into a new golf course. Sahalee Country Club, east of Seattle, home to three professional majors since 1998, limbed up the course’s famously profuse trees before the Women’s PGA Championship this year, and it opened up sightlines even skeptical club members have learned to appreciate.

Rob Watson knows all that, but more than that he knows his own course: Storey Creek Golf Club, which opened in 1987 here on the central east coast of Vancouver Island.

“We really need to strike a balance,” said Watson, 45, superintendent of the golf course that is among the most honored in western Canada.

Take out a tree, he said, and it affects something else in the ecosystem.

Trees, Watson acknowledges, are “the worst enemies of quality turfgrass,” but they’re also a large part of the reason Storey Creek’s members and the playing public love the place.

“You’ll see when you get here,” Watson said in an interview a week or so before we visited Storey Creek. “There are not a lot of golf courses like this one.”

Many of Storey Creek’s members have ties to the provincial fish and wildlife agency, Watson said. Active salmon spawning streams run right through the property. Ponds are stocked with coho salmon.

Limbing up a tree, then, is not done lightly,

“When you throw in the salmon,” he said, “you really have to be aware of not affecting the temperature of the water.”

Sustainability is a core value here. Watson waters less and uses less fertilizer. And that fits for a club with a smaller budget than many.

Watson studied turfgrass management at the BC Hort Center on the Langley campus of Kwantlen University College, now known as Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He came to work at Storey Creek in 2007 after working as an assistant superintendent at Westwood Plateau Golf and Country Club in Coquitlam, B.C.

“The first time I came out here (to Storey Creek) and toured the site before I applied to work here,” he said, “it had this feel to me of an older classic golf course. It didn’t feel like it was only 20 years old.”

When esteemed golf architect Les Furber designed Storey Creek, his vision didn’t have to  wait for the trees to mature. Watson and his crews live with the rugged landscapes and  don’t obsess over cut-glass pristine.

“We’re not shooting for perfection here,” Watson said.

At Storey Creek, it all works, perfectly well.

The Queen’s Island Tour, Day Two: Quadra Island

QUATHIASKI COVE, B.C. — The marketing for the North Island Golf Getaway doesn’t necessarily prepare a road tripper for Quadra Island Golf Course, nor do the visuals on arrival at the place. There’s no grand clubhouse, no pavement in the parking lot, but hang around a while and the golf course, like the island itself, will grow on you.

A 15-minute ferry ride from Campbell River, B.C. on the “mainland” — in fact, a much larger island, namely Vancouver Island — gets you to Quadra Island, all 310 square kilometres of it, and another 10 minutes later you’ll be turning into a discreetly labeled driveway to the course.

If you want to hit some balls before your round, or chip and putt a little, you can do so in well-tended areas just for those warm-up acts. In these places, and throughout the property, you won’t be blown away  by fussy refinements.

But it’s all about the golf here, and on the course you’ll be absorbed by the challenge and — if you think to swivel your head around and back every now and then — stirred by landscapes no less elegant for their roughness.

“It’s a work in process,”  Quadra Island general manager and golf pro Jason Tchir said.

Quadra was the brainchild, Tchir said, of a group of island locals who cooked up the idea for a golf course in the rugged foothills of the south island. The group hired an established golf architect, Ted Locke, to design the course. Quadra Island opened in 2011, which makes it the newest course on Canada’s west coast.

A bonus during construction came when the excavator, in doing his thing, unearthed massive stones and “let his creative side come out,” Tchir said. They call the formation in the first fairway Smiling Rock. Between holes 6 and 7, there are three balanced rock formations lined up just right of the cart path.

The golf course throws a test at you on every one of its nine holes. The greens are good, with subtle breaks that defy easy reading. Lots of trees, and wildlife (deer, eagles), and plenty o’ scenery. Quadra Island was worth finding, and it will reward a second visit in the future. It’s just getting started.

 

 

The Queen’s Island Tour, Day One: Crown Isle

No. 2 at Crown Isle, where the bunkers are big and deep. Photo by Steve Mildenberger

No. 2 at Crown Isle, where the bunkers are big and deep.
Photo by Steve Mildenberger

COURTENAY, B.C. — We came, we played and we stayed, and all in all Crown Isle Golf and Resort Community was a more than OK start to our tour of a big island in the foreign country in our neighborhood.

The golf course is well-manicured, snaky, with water around the edges on a half-dozen holes, and big greens — really big greens, like a resort course should have. Very playable, for an average schmuck, and not lacking for challenge.

Early on, on No. 2, we faced a shortish par-4 with a tee ball over water and a green guarded in front by four large and deep bunkers. No. 3 was an example of the blind doglegs sprinkled through the course.

A word about the bunkers, bunkers that look like bomb craters, and way very many of them, and easy to aim at for strategic reasons. The guys in front of us, by no apparent justification, were hitting from the tips, and it was clearly one of the guys’ preferred play — the one with the Norman hat and navy sweater vest – to find as many bunkers as possible, and he wasn’t much good at getting out nor quick about it. They must have been damn Americans.

So there we were, drumming our fingers, impatient for the chance to fire our own missiles, and we decided instead to take a breath and appreciate the silver-clouded light on a warm afternoon on the big island.

Courtenay turned out to be a nice smallish city. We found a bank to change some money, a liquor store across the parking lot to take a chunk of it, and a pub downtown where the barkeep and the denizens are friendly and the drink of choice is Lucky. The label says The Original Lucky Lager, and it’s made in Canada. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the original Lucky Lager was made in the other Vancouver, in Washington USA. It was known as “Vancouver’s Revenge,” back then. If you can’t count on your beer brands, what can you count on?

We also found Urban Smoke, where Jake the proprietor offers a decent selection of Cuban cigars — Canada never participated in the (ridiculous) Castro embargo, and if you want to pay the price you can pick up a Cohiba or Montecristo and some lesser Habanos that are much cheaper, and guess what? You get what you pay for.

The Queen’s Island Tour

Vancouver Island: There will be golf ... on three courses on the central eastern coast. Map courtesy of Moon.com

There will be golf … in Courtenay, Campbell River and on Quadra Island.
Map courtesy of Moon.com (click to enlarge)

COURTENAY, British Columbia, Canada – That damn independence thing we did back in 1776 has had long-lasting repercussions, I think you’ll agree. Like, we gained a democracy, but we lost a monarchy.

Back then, we denounced King George III, and while he might have been a dickhead (tyrannical, boorish and batshit crazy), he was our dickhead. He was King. How cool is that?

Old Georgie 3 ruled for almost 60 years, during which time he never beheaded any of his wives, to the best of our knowledge.

Among George’s other notable accomplishments was freeing his American subjects to mess things up on their own.

This week, we Road Warriors stumble out beyond the borders of the US of A, and we have lots to answer for. For instance, we have a presidential candidate who keeps saying, “Make America grate again.” I think we Americans already grate on plenty enough people the world over.

As we planned our international itinerary, we sought to find the closest foreign country with ties to a monarchy. Canada, according to the crack Grey Goatee Research Confederation, has been right there all along.

And yes, you loyalists of Grey Goatee Nation, there will be golf, the global currency. Speaking of currency, our American dollars are worth more than Canadian dollars, even with the picture of Elizabeth II – a real live queen – on the face of the Canadian $20 bill.

All the better to pay for our rounds at three golf courses on and just off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, which – again according to the GG research squad – is the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand but only the 11th largest island in Canada. Man, that Canada must be a big country.

Vancouver Island might as well be uninhabited for all the Roadies know about it, but we hear there are pockets of civilization – like golf courses. We aim to find ‘em.

The Queen’s Island Tour

Day One: Crown Isle Resort Course, Courtenay, B.C.
After a ferry ride (gorgeous) from Port Angeles, Wash., to cosmopolitan, old-world Victoria, the British Columbia provincial capital, and a night’s stay at a motel (modest, but thoroughly Roadie-appropriate) in Courtenay, B.C., the Road Warriors take an uncharacteristic step up in class at the Crown Isle Resort. Here, you can smoke cigars in the cognac bar in the hotel, apres-golf, and as for the golf, it’s right out the front door, stumbling distance.

Day Two: Quadra Island Golf Club, Quathiaski Cove, B.C.
Here we take another ferry ride off the big island to a rugged little island and a nine-hole golf course that looks, sight unseen, to be more than enough challenge for anybody (slope 134, course rating 72.2). The Roadies don’t know what those numbers mean, so we go, undeterred and foolishly unaware, into the fray.

Day Three: Storey Creek Golf Club, Campbell River, B.C.
This Les Furber layout  is among the most decorated courses in western Canada. The prolific Furber is the crown prince of golf design in Canada, and we can expect to be in, under and stuck in the lush forest of trees that line the course. We Roadies could be similarly stymied on a links course with virtually no trees, so again, we don’t know what we’re in for.

All three golf courses lie in a part of the world that is ever so near Grey Goatee Global HQ yet all but completely unknown to the Road Warriors. That’s at least half the fun for us commoners on the Queen’s island.