THE TRICKIEST TRACK OF ALL
It happens every June. A player, usually someone who missed the
cut, complains that the USGA tricked up the U.S. Open course.
You want tricked up? Head 65 miles south on I-95 and take a
gander at the 28-hole--yes, 28-hole--Meadows Farms Golf Course
in Locust Grove, Va. Those holes include:
--The mulligan hole, which is a par-4 warmup that precedes the
1st tee and doesn't count on the scorecard.
--The par-6 841-yard 12th, the longest hole in the U.S.,
featuring two carries over ponds as well as a clover-shaped
bunker the size of Dennis Rodman's ego. "It's 39 yards shy of a
half mile," says course owner "Farmer" Bill Meadows. "I still
regret I didn't make it that long."
--The baseball hole, which is a 160-yard par-3 played over a
lush green diamond. The tee is located behind home plate. The
green, set against the backdrop of an outfield fence dotted with
advertising, a warning track, a scoreboard and a flagpole, is in
--The waterfall hole, another par-3. After you hit your tee
shot, you drive your cart behind the falling water and under the
green, where there's a concession stand. You park near a
run-down house that was once a Civil War hospital and then cross
a swinging wooden bridge to reach the green.
No, Meadows Farms is not your typical course. Excluding the
mulligan hole, it is divided into three nine-hole segments.
Golfers choose one of three 18-hole combinations, ranging from
6,058 to 7,005 yards. "I want gimmicky," says Meadows. "I want
the golfer to go to the office on Monday and have something to
Meadows, age 62, took up golf five years ago but felt he was
getting poor service at most public facilities. Eventually he
decided to take 250 acres of idyllic countryside that he owned
west of Fredericksburg, Va., and convert it into a course.
Meadows bought $2,000 worth of golf books and gave pictures of
the holes that he found interesting to designer Bill Ward.
Despite the novel layout, Meadows runs a lean operation. One
double trailer serves as the golf shop, a second trailer houses
the snack bar. A weekday round at Meadows Farms, cart included,
costs only $24, which explains why the course books 60,000
rounds a year. "Guys wind up spending $7 million on building a
course," says Meadows, who spent $2.5 million on Meadows Farms.
"Then they have to get $100 for greens fees to keep it going.
Their clubhouses cost $2 million. For that I'd rather have
another 18 holes."
MORGAN WINS AGAIN TO CLOSE IN ON IRWIN
Hale Irwin has been the class of the Senior tour this season,
winning four times and earning $961,431 in nine starts. But he
can't shake Gil Morgan. On Sunday, Morgan won his second
consecutive tournament, the BellSouth Senior Classic in
Nashville, and crept to within $11,489 of Irwin, who tied for
fourth, on the money list. Both golfers are more than $200,000
ahead of Isao Aoki, the tour's third-leading money winner.
For the second straight week Morgan, who has won three times
this season, had to fend off a closing rush by Irwin. At the
Ameritech Senior Open outside Chicago two weeks ago, Morgan
defeated Irwin by a stroke. At the BellSouth, Irwin made two
birdies and an eagle on his first seven holes of the final round
to pull within two shots of the lead. Morgan, however, birdied
two of his first three holes and was never in trouble
thereafter, finishing two shots ahead of runner-up John Bland,
four strokes ahead of Larry Gilbert and five better than Irwin
and Tom Wargo.
He also remained close enough to Irwin to make a race of the
player of the year award.
AMATEUR OPENS WRONG EYES WITH PERFORMANCE
Clint Wolford of Chattanooga caught the eye of at least one golf
fan last week when he finished five shots off the lead after the
opening round of a local charity tournament at Council Fire Golf
Club. Unfortunately for Wolford, that eye belonged to Judge
Stephen Bevil, who gave Wolford a four-year suspended sentence
last year after Wolford pled guilty to one count of vehicular
One of the conditions of Wolford's sentence was that the
27-year-old salesman could work during the day but had to spend
the rest of his time at the Hamilton County workhouse. When
Bevil called Wolford before him to explain his presence in the
tournament, Wolford explained that he had played to cultivate a
business relationship with a customer.
Bevil wasn't biting. He revoked Wolford's work release
stipulation and sentenced him to serve the remaining three years
of his term in Hamilton County Jail.
O'GRADY ACCUSED OF USING FIGHTING WORDS
Since retiring from the Tour in 1990, Mac O'Grady has tried to
repair his reputation for belligerence by turning to teaching.
It has largely been a successful endeavor. He has helped
rehabilitate the games of, among others, Steve Elkington and
Vijay Singh. But as his recent foray into competition
demonstrates, O'Grady remains a lightning rod for confrontation.
After a local qualifier for the U.S. Open on May 15 at Rams Hill
Country Club in Borrego Springs, Calif., San Diego lawyer Graeme
Reid, a member of O'Grady's threesome and part-time mini-tour
golfer, filed a complaint with the USGA, accusing O'Grady of
berating and harassing him throughout the round. While O'Grady
denies Reid's most serious charges, he admits that he had
several confrontations over what he calls Reid's "lack of
etiquette and knowledge of the game."
In his letter to the USGA, Reid alleged that O'Grady challenged
him to a fistfight on the way to the 12th tee. According to
Reid, O'Grady became enraged when Reid walked off the green
while Kerry Johnston, the third member of the group and a friend
of O'Grady's, was lining up a two-foot putt. After Johnston sank
the shot, O'Grady raced after Reid and accused him of trying to
distract Johnston. "I admit I made a mistake," says the
29-year-old Reid, "but I think Kerry could have spoken for
himself. O'Grady uttered the words, 'I'll fight you on it.' I'm
a pretty reserved guy, but I know a lot of people who would have
flattened him right there."
Says O'Grady, "It started on the 1st hole, when he didn't mark
his ball when I was lining up a putt. Then he walked into my
line of view for two holes in a row and pulled the same sort of
stuff on Kerry. I couldn't take it anymore. I did get right in
his face. But if there was a fight, the whole world would know.
This guy would be dead--I mean in the ground." O'Grady pauses
before adding, "But I don't believe in physical violence. Under
no circumstances would I threaten somebody on a golf course."
David Fay, the executive director of the USGA, investigated the
incident but couldn't corroborate the charges that O'Grady
invited Reid to a fistfight. Among those Fay questioned was
Johnston, who says, "Here we are trying to qualify for a major
championship, and along comes this guy who doesn't know what
he's doing. Mac did get in his face once. But challenge him to a
fight? Come on. This guy just wants a story to tell his kids."
Reid, who, like Johnston, didn't make it out of the qualifier,
stands by his story and calls May 15 "unquestionably my worst
day of golf." O'Grady, who failed to make it past the June 2
sectional qualifier in Tarzana, Calif., is also upset by the
incident, though for a different reason. "They let in guys who
don't know the game, and I'm a target," he says. "Anybody who
knows me knows that I'm a gentle guy and a traditionalist when
it comes to golf."
BILL ALLOWS EQUAL ACCESS TO TEE TIMES
Last week the New Jersey State Senate unanimously passed Bill
S-1656, an order that prohibits private golf clubs from
discriminating against their own members based on race, creed or
sex. In effect, the bill ends the common practice of excluding
female members from the most popular weekend tee times and, in
some cases, any weekend times at all. "It's an archaic, good ol'
boy system that shouldn't have a place in the state," says state
senator Robert W. Singer, who introduced the bill.
Similar laws have been passed in seven other states. A movement
for such a law in New Jersey began in 1995 when Sally Goodson, a
15-handicap golfer and full member at the Forest Hill Field Club
in Bloomfield, told her assemblyman that she was being denied
weekend tee times. "I was working full time and I needed to
network on weekends," says Goodson, 53, a director of Work First
New Jersey, a state family-development organization. "But I was
being denied access to the best spot for networking--the golf
NO HANDICAP IS TOO BIG TO STOP AMPUTEE GOLFERS
Despite a birth defect that left him with no right hand, Mike
Hudson of Tarpon Springs, Fla., played baseball for much of his
youth. "I was a pitcher and outfielder," he says. "I had Jim
Abbott's style of throwing."After high school, Hudson took up
golf. "I wasn't very good at first, but I also noticed that I
wasn't much worse than people with two hands," says Hudson, who
once shot a 69 at a Tarpon Springs course.
On Sunday, Hudson had a 75 to beat John Bragan, a double-leg
amputee from Hoover, Ala., by one shot in the rain-shortened
South Park Amputee Classic in Louisville. In addition to the
overall winner, the tournament, which is one of 29 events
sponsored by the National Amputee Golf Association, crowned a
female champion, as well as winners in divisions for
below-the-knee, above-the-knee, below-the-elbow, above-the-elbow
amputees and multiple amputees.
Although Hudson, who will participate in the NAGA Nationals Aug.
3-7 at the Marshfield Country Club in eastern Massachusetts, won
the tournament,Willie Buchanan of Nashville stole the show on
Sunday. Buchanan, whose left leg was amputated above the knee,
balances his crutches and his club while he sets up on the tee.
Just before swinging, he drops the crutches. After his
follow-through, he hops on his right leg until he regains his
balance. "Every time I saw him he was about 250 to 270, and
right down the middle," South Park pro George Sullivan said of
The Shag Bag
Justin Leonard wasn't the only former NCAA champion to have a
big week. Pat Hurst, the '89 women's titlist from San Jose
State, drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win
the LPGA Oldsmobile Classic in East Lansing, Mich. It was
Hurst's first LPGA victory in three years on tour.... Deane
Beman shot an 89 during the first round of the Kemper Open
before withdrawing. The former PGA Tour commissioner, who got
into the tournament on a sponsor's exemption, averaged 216.5
yards off the tee.... Colin Montgomerie won the European Grand
Prix in Hexam, England. Unlike most of the Europeans entered in
the U.S. Open, Montgomerie didn't use the Kemper as a tune-up.
"I played here because I wanted to be in contention," said
Montgomerie, who is 33 strokes under par during his last six
rounds. "Now there will be no one more confident than me going
COLOR PHOTO: WALTER P. CALAHAN Golfers can play through or drive through at Meadows Farms' waterfall hole.
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID WALBERG [Charles Warren]
COLOR PHOTO: BILL LUSTER Hudson's next stop: the Amputee Nationals in August. [Mike Hudson]
MAKING THE GRADE
It did not come as a surprise when Charles Warren (right) of
Clemson, the winner of the NCAA Division I Men's Championship
two weeks ago in suburban Chicago, failed to qualify for the
U.S. Open two days later. Winning the NCAAs, after all, has not
always augured professional success. Here's how the last 10 NCAA
champions have fared as pros.
NAME YEAR PRO HIGHLIGHTS
TIGER WOODS '96 Five wins, 11 top-10 finishes and
$2,155,144 in 18 starts
CHIP SPRATLIN '95 Highest finish on Nike tour in '97
JUSTIN LEONARD '94 Sunday's win was his second, along
with eight top 10s in '96
TODD DEMSEY '93 Has not finished higher than 45th
in 16 events
PHIL MICKELSON '89,'90,'92 Won four tournaments and earned
$1.7 million in '96
WARREN SCHUTTE '91 Won $12,165 in 10 starts between
1992 and '95
E.J. PFISTER '88 Is 0 for 12 in U.S. Open qualifiers
BRIAN WATTS '87 Is ninth on Japanese money list
SCOTT VERPLANK '86 Has not won since 1988 in
CLARK BURROUGHS '85 Never higher than 110th on the money
Winners of the first two events of the modern Grand Slam in the
same year: Jack Nicklaus (1972), Arnold Palmer ('60), Ben Hogan
('53) and Craig Wood ('41).