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  • Ranking the Top 20 Golf Courses in the World

    Any attempt at ranking the top 20 golf courses in the world is an exercise that could bring the most brilliant minds in the game to blows. But that's part of the fun, right?

    The modern game of golf has been played since the 15th century in Scotland. And from the humble, rolling sheep-grazing spaces of the early courses of the British Isles, through the grand venues of the Open rota and similar, to the wide-ranging masterpieces in the U.S., there is no shortage of brilliant golf courses to choose from

    Pedigree, popularity, and richness (in terms of spectacular layout/shot values) will be the three defining criteria for this ranking. But, of course, this is no exact science, and any ranking is an inherently subjective exercise.

    To that end, feel free to disagree or debate. Any and all discussion ultimate betters the game we all love and serves to enhance future venues.


    20. Ballybunion (Old Course)
    Details: Ballybunion, Ireland. Architects: Lionel Hewson, 1906, Tom Simpson, 1936. 6,802 yards. Par 71.

    History: Famed golf writer Herbert Warren Wind said "Nothing less than the finest seaside course I have ever seen." The ocean-skirting par-four 11th is an absolute masterpiece. While the course did host the 2000 Irish Open, its inconvenient locale has kept this links standout out of regular tournament rotation, which is a shame because more exposure would show the world how fine the Hewson track is.

    Selling point: Ballybunion had finished with back-to-back par fives for years, but the decision to relocate the clubhouse alleviated that problem. Reportedly it's a favorite of Bill Clinton, and the town has erected a statue of the former President with a golf club in his honor.

    Why it's here: Starting off with a historic links standout seems eminently reasonable. Ballybunion's lack of tournament pedigree keeps it from placing higher.

    19. Turnberry Resort (Ailsa)
    Details: Turnberry, Scotland. Architect: Willie Fernie, 1902. 7,204 yards. Par 70. 

    History: Site of the famed 1977 "Duel in the Sun" between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, Turnberry has hosted the Open Championship four times, most recently in 2009. Turnberry has the unique distinction of being rebuilt from the rubble of Allied airfield during World War II. 

    Selling point: Beyond the uniqueness of the airfield element and the Open pedigree, Turnberry features some brilliant coastal views and stellar shot values. And there's a lighthouse in sight, which is always great. 

    Why it's here: Turnberry gets the bump ahead of Ballybunion on the tournament pedigree front.

    18. Pacific Dunes
    Details: Bandon, Oregon. Architect: Tom Doak, 2001. 6.663 yards. Par 71.  

    History: Still a rising star some 16 years after its completion, the second course build on a superb piece of Bandon, Oregon, property, is among the best links tracks in America. The cliche about Pac Dunes is Tom Doak moved a bunch of earth around to make the landscape look untouched, but the effect is brilliant. Neighboring Bandon Dunes has hosted four U.S. Amateur championships.

    Selling point: The selling point of the Bandon courses is really the totality of the magnificence of the courses together. Just a beautiful, spectacular, almost otherworldly place to tee it up. Pacific Dunes is also arguably the easiest course of the Bandon Trails-Bandon Dunes-Old MacDonald-Pacific quartet.

    Why it's here: Pacific Dunes, due to its length and relative ease, won't host a major championship. It is however, a brilliant public venue. Thus, the accessibility factor and appeal to a wider swath of the golfing population gives it the edge over Ballybunion and Turnberry.

    17. Winged Foot Golf Club (West)
    Details: Mamaroneck, New York. Architect: A.W. Tillinghast, 1923. 7,264 yards. Par 72.

    History: Five times the host of the U.S. Open, including most famously the 1974 contest ("the Massacre at Winged Foot"), Winged Foot's profile has diminished somewhat in recent years. But as the host of the 2020 U.S. Open, expect Tillinghast's Mamaroneck masterpiece to be much discussed. Geoff Ogilvy's 2006 triumph (and Phil Mickelson's faltering) provided lasting images in the canon of U.S. Open lore. 

    Selling point: Horrifically difficult. Winged Foot, with its bowl-shaped greens and treacherous bunkers, is uniquely capable of inflicting sheer misery on the best golfers in the world. A lasting illustration that no matter how much technology has advanced in the near-century since its founding, brilliant course construction can still penalize players harshly. And Gil Hanse is restoring the greens to their original specifications. 

    Why it's here: Winged Foot's distinguished pedigree lands it ahead of Pacific Dunes in this ranking. And rather than being a course the average golfer might be able to get around (a la Pac Dunes), it's a track the best in the world struggle with. All part of golf's rich bouquet.

    16. Sand Hills Golf Club
    Details: Mullen, Nebraska. Architects: Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw, 1994. 7,089. Par 71.

    History: The lack of significant history speaks to the overwhelming quality of the Nebraska venue as it ranks so highly on “best courses” lists. The bunkers aren’t dug-and-filled puts, but rather windblown, pre-existing dunes. Supposedly Coore and Crenshaw wandered the property before construction, picking out the naturally occurring features of a golf course.

    Selling point: Venue. There’s no better example of a course in the United States where the architects didn’t have to move any earth to create a magical golf course. Coore and Crenshaw simply built the course that was already there, in a sense. Which is amazing. One of the best seaside courses in America...and there isn’t a sea in sight.

    Why it's here: Sand Hills serves as a model of minimalist course design at its absolute best. While it hasn’t hosted significant tournaments, it’s an extremely important recent construction...and it’s absolutely, staggeringly beautiful.

    15. Pebble Beach Golf Links
    Details: Pebble Beach, California. Architects: Jack Neville/Douglas Grant, 1919. 6,828 yards. Par 72.

    History: No shortage of history at the second-finest golf course on the Monterey Peninsula. Unlike many of these courses, Pebble is an annual Tour stop. It's also hosted five U.S. Opens. Nine magnificent holes run along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. A pair of amateur architects, Jack Neville and Douglas Grant did their best with a billion dollar piece of property. One of the first venues to incorporate the ocean as a hazard and challenge, Neville and Grant created a course both timeless and ahead of its time, way back in 1919.

    Selling point: The marriage of location, familiarity and PGA Tour history make Pebble Beach a unique entrant on this list. And it's public (if you have 500 bucks to spend on a round of golf), unlike the vast majority of this list, so the average golfer can theoretically play it. At the end of the day, however, Pebble Beach is all about those ocean-skirting holes. 

    Why it's here: It ain't Cypress Point! Pebble Beach is spectacular: solid routing. Unbelievable venue. U.S. Open history. But among golf architecture aficionados, it lives in the shadow of nearby Cypress Point and suffers accordingly in this (and other) rankings.

    14. Royal Portrush Golf Club (Dunluce)
    Details: Portrush, Northern Ireland. Architect: H.S. Colt, 1929. 7,143 yards. Par 72.

    History: Royal Portrush hosted just one Open Championship (1951). It also hosted the 2012 Irish Open. Nestled among the rolling dunes of the Irish Sea, H.S. Colt's redesign of Old Tom Morris' original layout is arguably his finest work.  The climbing 210-yard par-3 14th, which is appropriately called Calamity, thanks to a massive fall off to the right, is one of the great three-shotters in the world. 

    Selling point: The legend of Rory McIlroy really took off here when 16-year-old Rory shot 61 at the difficult seaside layout. Colt's method of routing the course through the dunes in the natural landscape is a superb early example of design working within the confines of the existing space. Certainly the murmurings that the track could again host the Open elevate its profile.  

    Why it's here: If Portrush hosted another Open, the golf world would fawn over the Northern Ireland gem. Without a pedigree bump, it's forced to stand alone on its aesthetic merits. And while they're considerable, it's tough to bump Royal Portrush higher up the ranking.

    13. Pinehurst No. 2

    Details: Pinehurst, North Carolina. Architect: Donald Ross, 1907. 7,565. Par 70.

    History: Donald Ross' masterpiece, Pinehurst No. 2 was returned to its past glory ahead of the 2014 "dual U.S. Opens" in which the men's and women's competitions were held at the venue. No. 2 has hosted an additional two Opens, as well as the 2008 U.S. Amateur. The site of legendary Ben Hogan's first stroke-play victory, it is widely regarded to be the finest greens in the Donald Ross pantheon of courses.  

    Selling point: A masterpiece restored. The Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore redesign, which included reshaping and the return of native rough areas, returned the Ross course to its former glory. Certainly, the fine theater of

    20the 2014 Opens—won by Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie respectively—proved Pinehurst No. 2 is a top-notch U.S. Open venue. And it's public!

    Why it's here: Pebble Beach suffers as the little brother of Cypress Point. Pinehurst No. 2 triumphs as a marvel of restorative work. Hence, Pinehurst before Pebble. Any questions? But really, if not for Cypress Point, Pebble Beach would be inside the top 10 in this ranking. And if that doesn't make any sense to you, keep thinking about it.

    12. Merion Golf Club (East)
    Details: Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Architect: Hugh Wilson, 1912. 6,590. Par 70.

    History: Site of Ben Hogan's famed 1950 U.S. Open triumph, as well as four other Opens, Merion is an important site in golf history. Bobby Jones sealed his Grand Slam here in 1930. Despite much hand-wringing over the course's extremely short length ahead of the 2013 U.S. Open, the 6,500-yarder held up brilliantly, with no players finishing under par.

    Selling point: Crammed into a piece of property outside Philadelphia, this distinguished par-70 somehow manages to have it all. Forget the fact that it's a tremendously short course that still more than challenges the world's best, it's a brilliant exercise in variety: long par-threes, short par-threes, calling on players to hit all the shots.  

    Why it's here: Lacking the expansive majesty of many of the courses on this ranking, Merion's history as a U.S. Open host and the sheer ability of Hugh Wilson to squeeze the absolute best out of a small piece of property place Merion ahead of Pinehurst.

    11. National Golf Links of America
    Details: Southampton, New York. Architect: C.B. Macdonald, 1911. 6,935. Par 72.

    History: Never the host of a national championship (assuredly because they don't want to be), ultra-exclusive National Golf Links of America isn't widely revered outside the world of golf architecture enthusiasts. However, the good folks at National did agree to host the 2013 Walker Cup, which has given a (perhaps unwanted) bump to the club's profile in recent years.

    Selling point: Top-shelf, out-of-reach status. Plus, the uniqueness of architect Charles Blair Macdonald's approach: imitating the great holes of the courses of England and Scotland he'd seen in his travels. Rather than producing dim parody, Macdonald's National Links inspires today's architects in the way the great courses of Europe did National's course-plotter.

    Why it's here: To push National Golf Links ahead of Merion would mean that it's a much better venue than Merion, given the Philadelphia-area course's pedigree. It is.

    10. Muirfield
    Details: Gullane, Scotland. Architects: Old Tom Morris, 1891/H.S. Colt, 1925. 7,245 yards. Par 71.

    History: 16-time host of the Open Championship, Muirfield simply oozes pedigree. And restored to the Open rota after a vote to (finally) admit women as full members, the Honourable Society of Edinburgh Golfers’ avoided torpedoing its distinguished reputation. Phil Mickelson’s triumph at the 2013 edition has this course looming large in the chapters of recent Open lore.

    Selling point: Muirfield’s signature "clockwise front-nine, counter-clockwise back-nine" was a unique routine scheme introduced during H.S. Colt’s 1925 redesign. A distinguished Open Championship pedigree and this singularity make Muirfield one of the finest courses in the Open rota.

    Why it's here: Muirfield edges out National thanks to its storied history as a host of the Open Championship. Beating a dead horse here, but any ranking is about the narratives therein, and the story of Muirfield is one of the richest in golf...with a high-quality golf course to boot.

    9. Royal Melbourne Golf Club (East)
    Details: Melbourne, Australia. Architect: Alister Mackenzie, 1926. 6,579 yards. Par 71.

    History: Australia's most distinguished venue, Royal Melbourne has hosted a buffet of Australian Amateur Championships and Australian Opens (16 to be precise). The course is Australia's oldest and longest continually existing club. Critics often maintain Mackenzie sought to mimic the green space-sandiness arrangement of the course's placement in its environment with his greens and surrounding bunkering.   

    Selling point: The finest course in Australia. An Alister Mackenzie gem, Royal Melbourne's bunkering is an example of the height of the art form. Players rave about the variety of unique approach shots (and stellar greens) at Melbourne's East course. Ultimately, Royal Melbourne is about the combination of brilliant artist (Mackenzie) working in a new medium (Australia's sand belt).

    Why it's here: Royal Melbourne beats out Muirfield thanks to greater visual variety and, ultimately, superiority as a track. If this course were in the United States, it would have hosted several U.S. Opens and could place inside the top five in this (and similar) rankings.

    8. Oakmont Country Club
    Details: Oakmont, Pennsylvania. Architect: Henry Fownes, 1903. 7,254 yards. Par 71.

    History: Host venue for last year's U.S. Open debacle/Dustin Johnson's first major win, Oakmont's U.S. Open pedigree is first rate. Recent restoration work under the watchful eye of Tom Fazio focused on a massive tree removal effort to return Oakmont to its original state. Thus, for the first time in many years, the brilliance of this suburban Pittsburgh track was on full display at the 2016 U.S. Open. 

    Selling point: Uniqueness: church pews, massive undulating greens, which are arguably the most difficult in the world. Popular lore maintains that the putting surfaces are actually slowed down for the U.S. Open, if you can believe it. Also: the peculiarity of the Fownes factor. Rather than a notable course architect, the course was laid out by its industrialist founder...an example of an amateur effort exceeding the best work of professionals if we've ever seen one. 

    Why it's here: The greens are the best and worst thing about Oakmont, and such a major storyline (see: U.S. Open, 2016). Absent that element, and the U.S. Open engendered thereby, the course might not crack the top 50 in the world.

    7. Royal Dornoch Golf Club (Championship)
    Details: Dornoch, Scotland. Architect: Old Tom Morris, 1886. 6,722 yards. Par 70.

    History: Not incredibly well-known to many in the United States, Old Tom Morris' second-finest Scottish golf venue. Dornoch was also, notably, architect Donald Ross' home course. The history of Dornoch, unfortunately, is one of being passed over due to its relative inaccessibility, which unfortunately diminishes its tournament pedigree.   

    Selling point: The font of Ross' inspiration, an early Old Tom masterstroke, Royal Dornoch is one of the most stellar links courses in all of Scotland. Thus, it's a shame most golf fans haven't heard of it. Unlike most links venues, however, you can't run the ball on to the greens at Dornoch, as most are elevated, presenting a unique challenge amid the whippy, fickle Scottish winds.  

    Why it's here: Bumping the under-appreciated gem this far up the list (and ahead of a powerhouse like Oakmont) is a firm statement about its brilliance. And, in a sense, something of a plea not to weight tournament history so highly in the world of top-100 lists.

    6. Royal County Down Golf Club
    Details: Newcastle, Northern Ireland. Architect: Old Tom Morris, 1889. 7,183 yards. Par 71.

    History: Royal County Down has hosted a bevy of significant competitions, including the British Amateur, Curtis Cup, Walker Cup, Palmer Cup and the Irish Open three times (most recently in 2015). The fourth and ninth holes are a pair of the finest in the world.   

    Selling point: While Old Tom gets the credit, many hands have worked on Royal County Down over the years. Ultimately, the course's primacy is as much about the sheer beauty of the landscape as it is its layout, which is saying something, since RCD is widely regarded as having one of the best front-nines in the world.    

    Why it's here: In deciding between Dornoch and County Down, as it were, the edge goes to Royal County Down due to a more storied history with significant tournaments. However, that's not necessarily fair to Dornoch due to the course's inaccessibility, but such is life.

    5. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
    Details: Southampton, New York. Architect: William Flynn, 1931. 6,996 yards. Par 70

    History: Most recently, Shinnecock hosted the nightmarish 2004 U.S. Open (won by Retief Goosen). The venue has hosted an addition three U.S. Opens in its time and is slated to host again in 2018. One of the earliest links venues in the U.S., William Flynn's reworking of an original C.B. Macdonald design is the gold standard for course improvements, so much so that the track really hasn't been touched since.  

    Selling point: A gem of New York/New Jersey links design. Shinnecock is the best of breed for a style of course you'll find plenty of in the NY/NJ area. The relative recent surge in U.S. Open hosting duties tells you how the USGA, generally good judges of course character, feel about Flynn's Southampton masterpiece.

    Why it's here: Simply, the "best of breed" factor elevates Shinnecock ahead of County Down, which is not the single best course of the Isles links style (the course at No. 1 is).

    4. Cypress Point Club
    Details: Pebble Beach, California. Architect: Alister MacKenzie, 1928. 6,524. Par 72.

    History: Once a part of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the course was ingloriously dropped from the trifecta after refusing to admit a black member in the early '90s. It remains, however, an absolutely glorious collection of golf holes. All Alister MacKenzie had to do was weave the most brilliant routing he could through this staggering property. Fortunately for the golf world, he did just that.

    Selling point: The ultimate setting. Pardon the crudeness, but just look at this frigging place. Almost otherwordly in its brilliance, playing golf at Cypress must feel like teeing it up at the shoreline of heaven. The course's unique decision to remain short (just over 6,500 yards) rather than adding length to combat technology is a fitting statement: Cypress is perfect just the way it is.

    Why it's here: If you placed Shinnecock and Cypress Point side by side, the superiority of Cypress from the "complete picture" standpoint would be readily apparent to both casual observers and architecture buffs. Hence, it rightfully lands in the No. 4 spot.


    3. Augusta National Golf Club
    Details: Augusta, Georgia. Architect: Alister MacKenzie/Bobby Jones, 1933. 7,435 yards. Par 72.

    History: A little tournament called the Masters every April, for one...Augusta National is the only course on this list that's a fixture on the major golf calendar every year. Brilliant writers have filled volumes with the history of the course. Thus, attempting to distill that lore into a paragraph is inherently fruitless. MacKenzie and Jones laid the course out in 1933, but the existing track bears little resemblance to that design, having been endlessly reworked by architects like Perry Maxwell, etc. 

    Selling point: The perfectly prepared, painstakingly improved upon home of the Masters. The membership, with their unlimited resources dedicated to the continued pursuit of the perfect golf course (from a certain aesthetic standpoint), having created a paradisiacal golf venue. It's impossible to celebrate Masters history from the course itself when attempting to evaluate ANGC, but that's part of the brilliance.  

    Why it's here: As mentioned, the centrality of the Masters Tournament animates both the history and the story of Augusta National. At the end of the day, great golf courses are all about narrative. ANGC's is among the strongest, and it's only beaten out by a superior piece of property and a course with an even more distinguished track.

    2. Pine Valley Golf Club
    Details: Pine Valley, New Jersey. Architects: George Crump/H.S. Colt, 1918. 6,999. Par 70.

    History: Pine Valley doesn't really do the whole "hosting big-time tournaments" thing, so there's nothing to speak of on that front, other than the curious amateur event: the Crump Cup. The cup is an amateur competition, which the public can watch. Course founder George Crump tapped some of the best architectural minds of the early 20th century to create this unique "island to island" layout.

    Selling point: Secret, singular brilliance in the barrens of New Jersey. Pine Valley has something of the look of a desert venue surrounding by pine trees. And if that sounds incredibly, incredibly cool, that's because it is. Golf Digest's top-100 ranking said it best: "Pine Valley blends all three schools of golf design -- penal, heroic and strategic -- throughout the course, often times on a single hole."

    Why it's here: Tops on Golf Magazine's list since 1985, Pine Valley is rightfully the darling of golf architecture enthusiasts. Singularity and uniform praise elevate Pine Valley's profile. Really, given the course layout, it would be difficult to host the massive galleries of a professional tournament, so we're not docking PV for a lack of pedigree on that front.

    1. St. Andrews (Old Course)
    Details: St. Andrews, Scotland. 1400s. 6,721. Par 72.

    History: The Old Course has hosted the Open Championship a record 29 times, including most recently in 2015. They've been playing golf on this particular piece of property since the 15th century. Like Augusta National, volumes upon volumes have been written about the Old Course, but its primacy in the world of golf history cannot be approached and will remain forever unsurpassed.  

    Selling point: No single hand has carved this storied masterpiece. The birthplace of the game, the Old Course has pedigree in spades. Its massive rolling greens, cavernous bunkers, blind shots, the peculiar Road Hole all add up to a brilliant layout. Uniquely variable and weather dependent, all course design either imitates the Old Course or refutes it, thus it remains the touchstone for every other course on this list.

    Why it's here: History! The Old course is the veritable womb of the essence of the game as it was originally conceived. If the venue had never hosted a major championship, it would rank high on this list. However, the Old Course's distinguished history as an Open Championship host pushes it into the top position.

    (https://bleacherreport.com)


  • British Masters: Famous winners and iconic venues feature in long history of the European Tour event

    The European Tour heads back to the UK this week for the latest edition of the Betfred British Masters, hosted by Danny Willett - Watch live on Wednesday from 1.30pm on Sky Sports Golf and on Sky Sports Main Event

    Danny Willett is joining an elite group of players when he hosts the iconic Betfred British Masters this week at The Belfry.

    The former Masters champion is the latest British golfer to take on the role of tournament host since the illustrious event returned to the European Tour schedule, after a seven-year absence, in 2015.

    Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood have all previously hosted editions of the event in recent years, which was founded in 1946 and has some of golf's all-time greats among the list of winners.

    Four-time Open Champion Bobby Locke won the inaugural edition and repeated the feat in 1954, while multiple champions of the British Masters include the likes of Peter Thomson, Tony Jacklin, Bernard Gallacher, Greg Norman, Ian Woosnam and the late, great Seve Ballesteros.

    The Belfry, a four-time Ryder Cup venue, will welcome back the British Masters after a 13-year absence, having hosted the event from 2006-2008 before the tournament was pulled from the calendar after failing to secure the necessary sponsorship.

    The tournament returned in 2015, supported by Sky Sports, where Matt Fitzpatrick claimed a maiden European Tour victory with a two-shot win at Woburn - host Poulter's home course.

    Alex Noren won the 2016 contest by the same margin at The Grove, with former world No 1 Donald hosting, while a chip-in birdie at the last helped Paul Dunne see off Rory McIlroy to win the 2017 event at Close House.

    Walton Heath was Justin Rose's chosen venue for the 2018 edition, where Eddie Pepperell secured his breakthrough European Tour title, with Tommy Fleetwood then taking the tournament to Hillside a year later and the host for Marcus Kinhult's narrow victory.

    Westwood brought the British Masters back to Close House in 2020 and hosted the event for a second time, with the contest having extra significance as it marked the European Tour's first full field event in four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Highlights of Renato Paratore's winning round at Close House as the young Italian cruised to an impressive three-shot victory at the Betfred British Masters.

    The tournament was also the start of a new six-week "UK Swing", which will return later this summer, with Renato Paratore finishing three shots clear of Rasmus Hojgaard and registering his second European Tour victory.

    Willett will welcome a strong field to the West Midlands for this year's contest, which takes place from Wednesday to Saturday ahead of the PGA Championship the following week, with Robert MacIntyre, Bernd Wiesberger and former world No 1 Martin Kaymer among those in action.

    Who will be the next player to join the iconic British Masters winner's club? Watch the opening round live on Wednesday from 1.30pm on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event.

    (Source: https://www.skysports.com)


  • Jack Burke, the oldest living major champ, has seen it all — and you can bet he has something to say about it

    On a sunny, late-April afternoon in Houston, Texas, Jack Burke Jr. is transcendent in his element. Almost totally alone in the spacious clubhouse of his aptly named Champions Golf Club, the World Golf Hall of Famer eyes a foursome on the first tee. Even at age 97 and in the throes of a pandemic, Burke is a watchful presence here. He makes regular appearances at the practice range and is happy to work on a player’s grip or look at their swing. But he’s not compelled to offer up last-minute fixes.

    “I don’t give tips,” he says in a gravelly but still firm voice. “That’s for horse racing, not golf. You have to have a feeling for the game. You can’t sing like Crosby if you’ve never carried a note.” That’s Burke in a nutshell: blunt, honest, direct. And as unwavering as a Swiss timepiece. Today he’s already made two of the three stops he makes nearly every day of his life: from his nearby home to the bank, where he still keeps a close eye on club finances and has not once, in the 63 years since he cofounded the place, had to assess a Champions member. Then to the club, where he personally approves every new member and still enforces a handicap limit for applicants. Only a stop at his local church — off-limits because of coronavirus concerns — is missing from his deeply grooved daily routine.

    As he settles into the clubhouse’s large dining room, a server greets him as “Mr. Burke” and sets down a boxed lunch (another Covid precaution), which Burke unpacks, plates and consumes from soup to sandwich over the course of an hour-long talk. The veteran golfer, who’s become even more famous in the past few years for being the Masters winner who doesn’t show up for the Champions Dinner, is asked how he likes to be referred to these days: “Golf’s last living legend”? “The game’s wise old man”? After all, he’s mentored dozens of juniors and pros over the decades. He still counts Hal Sutton and Steve Elkington as regular visitors to Champions GC, where they soak up his knowledge. Ben Crenshaw swings by on occasion, too.

    As Augusta National chairman Clifford Roberts (left) looks on, 1955 Masters champ Cary Middlecoff slips Burke into something comfortable.

    Burke thinks for a second, then flicks it all away with a cock of the wrist, the same fluid motion that helped him win his green jacket and the PGA Championship in the same year: 1956. “Son,” he says with gentle impatience. “I’m not much into titles. At 97, you’re just happy to get up and be able to brush your own damn teeth!”

    Burke is similarly dismissive of speculation about his legacy, which includes four consecutive pro wins in 1952, two majors, World Golf Hall of Fame honors and a rich contribution to the Ryder Cup: five successive appearances as a player (1951 to 1959), two captaincies (1957 and 1973) and, in 2004, at age 81, an assistant-captain gig under team leader Hal Sutton.


    “Well, there won’t be many [left] to say anything about me, because they will all be gone,” Burke says. “But you can write that I was an advocate of amateur golf and I was an advocate of the rules. You know, the USGA has 34 of them; God gave us 10. If we followed those 10, the jails would be empty now.”

    Blunt, honest, direct.

    This December, when the rescheduled 75th U.S. Women’s Open is played at Champions, it will join Pinehurst as only the second club in America to have hosted a Ryder Cup, a U.S. Amateur, the Tour Championship (four times) and a men’s and women’s U.S. Open. Pinehurst has had a variety of owners over its 100-plus-year history, but only Burke has been present for every one of his club’s indelible moments — from the 1967 Ryder Cup (where Burke literally left the front gate open, begging Texans to attend during college football season) and Ben Hogan’s final competitive round at the 1971 Houston Open to the first (in 1999) of Tiger Woods’ three Tour Championships and many more. Champions GC got its name from Lyndon Johnson presidential aide Jack Valenti. He reasoned that Burke and cofounder Jimmy Demaret, who have 47 Tour wins and four Masters triumphs between them, merited it.

    Without question, the club and the man live up to the name. “You have to be a steward of the game,” Burke says. “I’m just trying to do what my dad did.”

    Jack Burke Jr. got an early introduction to golf — and to talking trash — in the 1930s, when his father, the pro at Houston’s River Oaks Country Club, gave lessons to Texas native and future LPGA legend Babe Didrikson. In turn, Babe gave the boy a primer in swagger. “She would say, ‘Come over here lil’ Jackie and let’s play. I’m going to kick your a– and take your lunch money,’ ” he remembers. “It was a proud moment when I finally outdrove her.”

    Burke turned pro in 1941, at age 17, but shortly after began a four-year stint in the Marine Corps, where he served in World War II as a combat instructor with two specialties: teaching recruits how to hurl grenades and how to clamber overboard if their ship took a torpedo hit. Both maneuvers required that you be “careful but aggressive. The same is true for golf,” he says. “A certain recklessness [is necessary] to be good, but don’t bet your whole wallet on every shot.” 

    After the war, Burke resumed his pro career with the help of a blank check — which he filled out for $2,500 — from a generous local businessman. He also made ends meet as a teaching pro (for a time, under Claude Harmon at Winged Foot), until he won his first tournament, in 1950: the Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Burke’s game really caught fire in ’52, when he won four Tour events in a row — until he ran into Slammin’ Sammy. 

    “The Masters was going to be my fifth straight win,” he says, “but Snead beat me by four shots. I’m sure I three-putted some of those greens at Augusta; that’s pretty easy to do.”

    You have to take tension out of your swing. The key to my golf was the four Ts: tension, tempo, timing and trust.

    Four years later, Burke found redemption, taking the ’56 Masters — the first ever televised — in one of the most dramatic finishes in Augusta history. Playing the final round in 50-mile-per-hour winds, he rallied from a tournament-record eight shots behind to edge amateur Ken Venturi by a stroke. Burke carded a 71. Venturi, who never won a Masters, skied to an 80.

    “I’d never seen conditions like that on the golf course,” recalls Burke, who needed driver-wedge to reach the par-3 4th. “It was just my day — and it wasn’t Ken’s. It was nice to win, but I was always looking for the next event.”

    He came upon it soon enough at Blue Hill County Club, in Canton, Mass., where he won the ’56 PGA Championship 3 and 2 over Ted Kroll. Remarkably, the suits at the PGA tried to stiff him.

    “I earned $6,000 for winning the Masters and $5,000 for winning the PGA, but [the PGA] wrote me a damn hot check,” Burke says. “They had to write me another one. Years later, when I was Ryder Cup captain, they gave my wife a $10,000 credit to buy a dress for a banquet. I said, ‘Boy, this really is a different PGA.’ ”

    For Burke, a lasting memory of those twin majors is the play of the runners-up. Snead, he says, was the most talented pro he ever went up against, and Kroll was the most overlooked. They both had what Burke thinks of as an essential of the game — and what he tries to impress upon upstart golfers: “You never see a surgeon [nervously] juggling knives before an operation. You’re going to trust that? No. You have to take tension out of your swing. The key to my golf was the four Ts: tension, tempo, timing and trust.”

    At the ’73 Ryder Cup, captain Burke shared the hardware with, among others, the Golden Bear and the King.

    He left out the fifth T: tenacity. Although he hasn’t seriously competed in more than 50 years — his last Tour win was the ’63 Lucky International Open; his last pro win the ’67 Texas State Open — Burke hasn’t lost his hold on the sport. The lifetime exemption he earned by winning the ’56 PGA, paradoxically, allowed him to enter semiretirement after a solid decade of success, and to focus on family and his enduring love: Champions GC, which is almost certainly the only golf club in the world to count among its past and present members four men who’ve walked on the moon. (Houston. Remember?)

    Burke openly admits that he doesn’t personally know many of today’s young players. It’s one of the reasons he cites for bowing out of the annual fete for Masters champs. But he has kept his hand in. Because the Augusta National Champions Locker Room isn’t big enough to house a locker for every club coat winner, players have had to double up. Burke shares his locker with Tiger Woods, and that’s all the opening the not-shy Texan needs. “Every year I leave him a note,” Burke says, “asking him to leave a couple hundred dollars behind for his locker mate.”

    And?

    “Never,” Burke says. “But he said he likes reading my notes.”


    In ’56 at the PGA, Burke and Ted Kroll wrestled over the Wanamaker Trophy.

    About a decade ago, Burke got a call from fellow Texan and former Tour contemporary Miller Barber. Barber told him Phil Mickelson wanted Burke’s help with his putting stroke.

    “I didn’t really know Phil that well,” Burke remembers, “and I hadn’t seen his game much, but I met him on the putting green here. I put out 10 balls [in a circle] about four feet from the hole and said, ‘When you can make 10 of those in a row, 10 times straight, come get me. I will be in my office.’ Well, Phil popped off and said, ‘I’ll do that right now, in about 10 minutes. You just stand here and watch.’ ”

    Burke knew of Lefty’s competitive streak, but he wasn’t sure if Mickelson knew Burke himself used to throw dice at River Oaks for money he didn’t have. “Phil liked to gamble a bit, so I said, ‘For how much — if you do this right now?’ He replied, ‘For the best dinner in Houston.’ So I said, ‘Go.’ I think he missed the fourth putt. I just turned around and walked back to my office.”

    “Jackie will give it to you straight,” Hal Sutton says, with a familiar chuckle. “If you don’t want to know what he thinks, it’s probably better not to ask him. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything.”
    In 2004, Burke and Hal Sutton, alas, steered the U.S. team to a devastating Ryder Cup defeat.

    Sutton felt the sting from his mentor when he asked Burke to serve as an assistant during his ill-fated captaincy at the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, which turned out to be the worst U.S. loss on American soil in Ryder Cup history. As Burke recalls it, “I tried to tell Hal not to [pair] Tiger and Phil, but talking to Hal is like talking to General Patton. He won’t listen.”

    If Jack Burke’s stride is a little more unhurried these days than it once was, he still moves with purpose. He has meticulously maintained his golf-only club for decades (“We only have one game here”) and is determined, even as he nears the century mark, to be not just a figure from golf’s past but a custodian of its future — and, as always, a champion of Champions GC. Assuming the Women’s Open goes off as planned at year’s end, Burke and his 57-year-old wife, Robin — an accomplished golfer in her own right, who captained the 2016 Curtis Cup team and partners with Burke in running the club — will be angling to host more high-profile events. Maybe a Solheim or Walker Cup, maybe a Women’s Amateur. Anything and everything to keep Burke going in the game he breathes deeply every day.

    Robin and Jack, coupled in making things happen for Champions.

    With lunch a wrap, Burke leads a guest to the clubhouse’s front entryway, where a large formal painting of him and his dear friend Demaret (who died in 1983) adorns a foyer wall. “You see that picture?” Burke asks. “Jimmy is sitting down and I’m standing up. I used to tell him, that’s because I did all the work and he would [just] greet people. I never played with Bobby Jones, but I knew him well. I know Clifford Roberts pushed him to be the face of [Augusta National] while he did all the work behind the scenes.”

    The work nor the role has ever bothered Burke.

    “You have to find something that keeps you living when you get off the Tour. I’ve been in a war, and I’ve been around golf all my life, always doing what I wanted. That,” he says, “is enough for me.” 

    (source: https://golf.com/)


  • 2021 Masters viewer’s guide: Round 1 and 2 tee times, TV schedule, streaming, how to watch

    2021 Masters viewer’s guide: Round 1 and 2 tee times, TV schedule, streaming, how to watch

    BY: KEVIN CUNNINGHAM 

    2021 Masters

    The 2021 Masters begins on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club.

    GETTY IMAGES

    The calendar has turned to April, which means it’s once again time for the Masters at Augusta National. Here is our complete 2021 Masters viewer’s guide for the event, including tee times, streaming, TV schedules and more.

    2021 Masters preview

    The large, looming leaderboards that dot Augusta National’s famed course are empty now, but pretty soon they will be full with the biggest names in the game of golf. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who triumphed at last year’s November Masters to claim his first green jacket, will be up there, and many expect former Masters champion Jordan Spieth will be, too, especially after his win on Sunday at the Texas Open.

    SIGN UP FOR THE DISNEY BUNDLE (DISNEY+/HULU/ESPN+) TO WATCH THE 2021 MASTERS, THEN ENJOY EVERYTHING ALL THREE PLATFORMS PROVIDE

    But DJ and Spieth aren’t the only ones preparing to make history at what early reports suggest will be a fast, fiery and treacherous course this week. Rory McIlroy will look to climb out of a slump and finally exorcise his Masters demons. Newly minted Players champion Justin Thomas hopes to add a second major title to his resume. And Bryson DeChambeau will try to make up for a disappointing performance last year.

    You can check out full information about streaming the 2021 Masters online or watching the action on TV below, including first and second round tee times.

    2021 Masters TV schedule (ET)

    TV coverage for the 2021 Masters will be split between ESPN and CBS. ESPN will air the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday before CBS takes over on the weekend. TV coverage will be more limited than it is at other majors, but there are plenty of online streaming options to keep you satisfied that you can learn about below.

    Here’s the full TV schedule for the week (ET):

    Thursday, April 8: 3-7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
    Friday, April 9: 3-7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
    Saturday, April 10: 3-7 p.m. (CBS)
    Sunday, April 11: 2-7 p.m. (CBS)

    2021 Masters streaming schedule (ET)

    There are multiple ways to stream the 2021 Masters action online. Various streaming options will be available on ESPN+, Masters.com and in the Masters app. These include featured group coverage and featured hole coverage all four days. You can sign up for ESPN+ to watch all the online action, as well as the ESPN TV broadcasts here.

    SIGN UP FOR THE DISNEY BUNDLE (DISNEY+/HULU/ESPN+) TO WATCH THE 2021 MASTERS, THEN ENJOY EVERYTHING ALL THREE PLATFORMS PROVIDE

    Here’s the complete Masters streaming schedule (ET):

    TUESDAY, APRIL 6
    Practice Round: 12-2 p.m. (ESPN+)

    WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7
    Practice Round: 12-2 p.m. (ESPN+)

    THURSDAY, APRIL 8
    Featured Groups: All day (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (4, 5 and 6): 9:25 a.m.-6:45 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (Amen Corner, 11, 12 and 13): 10:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (15 and 16): 11:45 a.m.-7 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)

    FRIDAY, APRIL 9
    Featured Groups: All day (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (4, 5 and 6): 9:25 a.m.-6:45 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (Amen Corner, 11, 12 and 13): 10:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (15 and 16): 11:45 a.m.-7 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)

    SATURDAY APRIL 10
    Featured Groups: All day (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (4, 5 and 6): 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (Amen Corner, 11, 12 and 13): 11:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (15 and 16): 12:30-6:30 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)

    SUNDAY APRIL 11
    Featured Groups: All day (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (4, 5 and 6): 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (Amen Corner, 11, 12 and 13): 11:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)
    Featured Holes (15 and 16): 12:30-6:30 p.m. (ESPN+Masters.com)

    How to bet on the Masters — risk-free!

    Want to add even more excitement to your Masters viewing experience? Download Chirp, the new golf-gaming app from GOLF.com’s parent company, 8AM Golf. Chirp gives its users fake money to place weeklong and real-time bets, and doles out amazing prizes for standout performers. Learn more about this game-changing app here, or download it here.

    Bryson DeChambeau previews the Masters

    On Monday morning of Masters week, Bryson DeChambeau joined the Drop Zone to break down his unique prep, his expectations for Augusta National and why he spent Saturday playing disc golf.

    2021 Masters Round 1 tee times (ET)

    Tee No. 1

    8:00 a.m. – Michael Thompson, Hudson Swafford
    8:12 a.m. – Sandy Lyle, Matt Jones, Dylan Frittelli
    8:24 a.m. – Ian Woosnam, Jim Herman, Stewart Cink
    8:36 a.m. – Sebastian Munoz, Henrik Stenson, Robert Streb
    8:48 a.m. – Bernhard Langer, Will Zalatoris, Joe Long (A)
    9:00 a.m. – Brian Harman, Ian Poulter, Brendon Todd
    9:12 a.m. – Charl Schwartzel, Si Woo Kim, Corey Conners
    9:24 a.m. – Danny Willett, Joaquin Niemann, Kevin Kisner
    9:36 a.m. – Jason Day, Matthew Wolff, Cameron Champ
    9:48 a.m. – Hideki Matsuyama, Harris English, Abraham Ancer
    10:06 a.m. – Bubba Watson, Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovland
    10:18 a.m. – Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson, Christiaan Bezuidenhout
    10:30 a.m. – Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood, Tyler Strafaci (A)
    10:42 a.m. – Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy
    10:54 a.m. – Patrick Reed, Daniel Berger, Paul Casey
    11:06 a.m. – Vijay Singh, Martin Laird
    11:18 a.m. – Larry Mize, Jimmy Walker, Brian Gay
    11:30 a.m. – Carlos Ortiz, Mackenzie Hughes, Bernd Wiesberger
    11:42 a.m. – Mike Weir, C. T. Pan, Robert MacIntyre
    11:54 a.m. – Jose Maria Olazabal, Matt Wallace, Lanto Griffin
    12:12 p.m. – Victor Perez, Jason Kokrak, Marc Leishman
    12:24 p.m. – Fred Couples, Francesco Molinari, Charles Osborne (A)
    12:36 p.m. – Zach Johnson, Kevin Na, Gary Woodland
    12:48 p.m. – Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar
    1:00 p.m. – Billy Horschel, Tyrrell Hatton, Ryan Palmer
    1:12 p.m. – Phil Mickelson, Tommy Fleetwood, Scottie Scheffler
    1:24 p.m. – Patrick Cantlay, Sungjae Im, Matthew Fitzpatrick
    1:36 p.m. – Adam Scott, Bryson DeChambeau, Max Homa
    1:48 p.m. – Tony Finau, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Thomas
    2:00 p.m. – Jordan Spieth, Cameron Smith, Collin Morikawa

    2021 Masters Round 2 tee times (ET)

    Tee No. 1

    8:00 a.m. – Vijay Singh, Martin Laird
    8:12 a.m. – Larry Mize, Jimmy Walker, Brian Gay
    8:24 a.m. – Carlos Ortiz, Mackenzie Hughes, Bernd Wiesberger
    8:36 a.m. – Mike Weir, C. T. Pan, Robert MacIntyre
    8:48 a.m. – Jose Maria Olazabal, Matt Wallace, Lanto Griffin
    9:00 a.m. – Victor Perez, Jason Kokrak, Marc Leishman
    9:12 a.m. – Fred Couples, Francesco Molinari, Charles Osborne (A)
    9:24 a.m. – Zach Johnson, Kevin Na, Gary Woodland
    9:36 a.m. – Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar
    9:48 a.m. – Billy Horschel, Tyrrell Hatton, Ryan Palmer
    10:06 a.m. – Phil Mickelson, Tommy Fleetwood, Scottie Scheffler
    10:18 a.m. – Patrick Cantlay, Sungjae Im, Matthew Fitzpatrick
    10:30 a.m. – Adam Scott, Bryson DeChambeau, Max Homa
    10:42 a.m. – Tony Finau, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Thomas
    10:54 a.m. – Jordan Spieth, Cameron Smith, Collin Morikawa
    11:06 a.m. – Michael Thompson, Hudson Swafford
    11:18 a.m. – Sandy Lyle, Matt Jones, Dylan Frittelli
    11:30 a.m. – Ian Woosnam, Jim Herman, Stewart Cink
    11:42 a.m. – Sebastian Munoz, Henrik Stenson, Robert Streb
    11:54 a.m. – Bernhard Langer, Will Zalatoris, Joe Long (A)
    12:12 p.m. – Brian Harman, Ian Poulter, Brendon Todd
    12:24 p.m. – Charl Schwartzel, Si Woo Kim, Corey Conners
    12:36 p.m. – Danny Willett, Joaquin Niemann, Kevin Kisner
    12:48 p.m. – Jason Day, Matthew Wolff, Cameron Champ
    1:00 p.m. – Hideki Matsuyama, Harris English, Abraham Ancer
    1:12 p.m. – Bubba Watson, Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovland
    1:24 p.m. – Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson, Christiaan Bezuidenhout
    1:36 p.m. – Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood, Tyler Strafaci (A)
    1:48 p.m. – Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy
    2:00 p.m. – Patrick Reed, Daniel Berger, Paul Casey

    (Source: https://golf.com/news/2021-masters-round-1-tee-times-tv-streaming-how-to-watch/)


  • 5 Masters and Augusta National Golf Club rules every patron must follow

    5 Masters and Augusta National Golf Club rules every patron must follow

    BY: JOSH BERHOW 

    Arriving early to the Masters? Make sure to put your chair down in the perfect spot.

    GETTY IMAGES

    Masters week is nearing. Meaning it’s time to freshen up on Augusta National- and Masters-centric rules. And for those who are lucky enough to step on site, you better make sure you remember them.

    1. No running!

    You really shouldn’t run at most golf courses, but you definitely don’t run at Augusta National. One of the best sights of the week is Thursday morning, when the gates open and eager khaki-donning patrons speed-walk to their go-to spot and set down their chairs. It’s as close to a well-organized parade as you might ever see on a golf course.

    2. Don’t touch the chairs

    Remember, above, how we said those patrons put down chairs? It’s one of Augusta’s greatest traditions. Find a spot of your liking — 1st tee, 4th tee, 6th green, Amen Corner, 18th green, etc. — plop your chair down and go walk around until you come back to it later. It will still be there, ready for you to kick up your feet and relax.

    RULES


    7 wild rules controversies that could only happen at Augusta National
    BY: DYLAN DETHIE
    R

    3. No cell phones

    This is a big one. Don’t bring it, don’t do it. But this is also a double-edged sword. You might be pleasantly surprised just how peaceful it is to be on a golf course and at a golf tournament and not have to worry about checking your phone every few minutes. It’s good for the soul.

    4. Talk the talk

    Remember, it’s “patrons,” not “fans,” at Augusta National. You also say second nine instead of back nine, and second cut instead of rough, among other Augusta-isms. Analysts have to be careful, too, as Gary McCord wasn’t invited back to broadcasts after a 1994 incident when he said greens were smoothed with “bikini wax.”

    David Feherty spent 19 years covering the Masters stationed about the 15th green, and he’s admitted it was difficult for him to call the Masters with his trademark wit. He spoke about one instance when his comments weren’t in line with what the video feed his showing, which meant his one-liner lacked the necessary context.

    5. No cameras on tournament days

    One thing I always say about the Masters, is that if I were a patron and nabbed a golden ticket, I’d rather go on a practice-round day instead of a tournament day. The main reason is because you can take your camera and snap photos during practice rounds — but not when the tournament starts. I can see Dustin Johnson hit driver at any Tour stop; but I might only get once chance to take my Canon around Amen Corner.

    (Source: https://golf.com/news/rules-only-masters-augusta-national-golf-club/)