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A long drive that comes up short

My wife and I made a trip to Torrey Pines a couple years after Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open there. We were full of excitement and anticipation to play an Open course. Bummer. It was the total muni experience, at five times the cost. Unmotivated city employees, poor-quality driving range, bring-your-own towels. They even had mismarked some items in the pro shop and refused to honor the advertised price. Never again (“Golf’s growth key: Retention over outreach,” Jan. 22, http://bit.ly/2Dtd2yF).

More recently, I played the TPC Stadium Course at Sawgrass. I have played this course many times but not in the past few years. It was always very difficult but fun nonetheless because I can see the professionals play the same holes on TV.

This trip was different. The entire course is cart paths only, all the time. Yes, one could walk with a caddie for an extra hundred bucks or so after already paying $400 to get on the course. The cart paths, by the way, are far from the fairways and greens, making for a long round of golf.

They have put barriers – chains, actually – around the green complexes so that players may enter the areas only from the back of each green. If my ball is short of the green, I am blocked out by the chains and must take the great circle route to get to it.

The hole locations were miserable. Every sidehill, downhill spot available was used. If such hole locations were used for the Players Championship, the field would revolt. A staff member confided that they did not want to wear out the other parts of the greens. Really?

I am not trying to complain, just express my disappointment that, while I was a guest at this high-end golf facility, I felt like they really didn't care if I enjoyed it or not. Oh, they provided bottled water and a bag tag. 

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.

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