Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Saucon Valley Old Course and the PennaGA

The venerable Pennsylvania Golf Association (actually little brother to the GAP in a lot of ways) is visiting the Old Course at SVCC that absolute paragon of Country Club envy-ism-wanna be there stuff. Hmmmmm 60 holes, three full courses, more clubhouses than you can count and pastoral beauty everywhere.

The current Tenth Hole Par 4 (they have routing variations of the second nine to boggle the mind at SVCC Old) Fazio bunkers evident.

Is that pastoral or what?

Fourth Hole Par 3 from tee

Fifth Hole Par 4 from landing area

Sixteenth Par 4 Biarritzy Green

Problem is they have uninteresting, if not lousy land for a golf course, let alone three. It is a flat and boring site with a meandering stream here and there to keep it soggy and not much architecture to be seen. The only exception is a few very interesting Maxwell greens they had the good sense to put in, but overall it is a very good stroke play course (Which almost by definition excludes much interesting character).

Sure - in spite of very soft greens (Number nine yesterday on the Old) a par 3 had shot put crater ball marks from these quality players well-struck spinning balls, the scores will be relatively high, but so what?

They took one of the few restore-able Herbert Strong courses around that hasn't been plowed under and plowed it into a Tom Fazio course. So now just like all the others he has done we see his trademarked framing terrifying (nauseating, actually) bunkers and flattened greens (the few remaining) devoid of all of their character in the name of speed.

They could have made an homage to Strong, but chose otherwise. There are a few Maxwell greens, but that's about it. Stylistic homely bunkering, YCCH.

There's so little Strong, why didn't they let him plow under the even more awful parcel that is the Grace? What a boring place that is to play. Florida courses have more elevation changes than the Grace, you can walk that one on your hands if you are so inclined. And yes, to dispel any doubts I am indeed disparaging the (lack of) architecture at SVCC. Even the nice land at the Weyhill was butchered by the know-nothing Gordons. The best Gordon course is Deerfield in Delaware, the only place that gives any clue that they learned anything from their association with Mr.Flynn. Unless you consider that there is any Gordon left at White Manor when Bobby Weed got done with it. Boy that place went up a bunch of notches!

A PAINFULLY FAIR time will be had by all with graduated thick delicious salad for rough and coddling framing to guide the wayward golfer around this utterly simplistic test of golf. Beautiful, pastoral country club golf for the architectural nincompoop. And yes, if you can't tell, I am very bitter that they took the remaining Herbert Strong out to put modern Fazio drivel in.

Yes I am. Honestly, SVCCis a wonderful fantastic club with ordinary pasture pool golf courses.

Now the good stuff!

An interesting rules situation and why I absolutely detest the bunkering of Tom Fazio's Crew. They cannot build a proper bunker, plus they are ugly and will never make www.bunkerfetish.com when I get it up and running. A properly constructed bunker would not have caused this set of circumstances. This is what happens when architectural style trumps function. There are massive overhangs on all of these newly constructed bunkers, and they all look the same - like rolling waves.

Short story:

The player hit in this bunker, struck his second; he and his two co-competitors heard a thump, could not find the ball ahead of the spot where he hit and could not find the ball in the sand (trying to uncover as allowed by the rules). He declared that he was "hitting another ball" rather than "I am hitting a provisional ball", or "I am hitting four" and chose a club with more loft and plugged in the grass face of the bunker. He and his co-competitors were as seen in the photo when my pal and rules maven Tommy Paul and I came on the scene. Digging in the face of the bunker did not yield the original ball. The "next ball" (for lack of a better name) was plugged in the dense bluegrass face of the bunker but out of the hazard - yielding the following scenario which the competitor refused and subsequently WD'd.

Photo of ruling scene

He had the option to drop twice and then place the ball where it was dropped if it did not (unlikely) remain; if it did not remain - he had the mandate to place it in as near as possible a conforming spot to allow a shot to take place (to the right - on the bunker cape I reckon) but chose to go home. I will ask John V of http://wordpress.freedrop.com to rule, but this is what Penna GA Honcho Mark Peterson and Tommy P. agreed was the resolution and know-a-little-to-be-dangerous I concurred).

I thought it was a cool situation/ruling.

Interesting thought - since the margins of a bunker extend theoretically downward but not upward if the ball were found say six inches deeper into the turf (closer to the green), past the margin of the hazard, it I think could have been ruled "Plugged through the green" and entitled to a free drop without penalty. Don't know.

Since it was not found, the other scenario was in effect. These bunkers are so artificial, they make Pamela Anderson look like Catherine Deneuve.

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