Ready or Not, PGA's West Coast Swing Is Here

By David R. Holland, Contributor

Ready for the PGA Tour 2000?

Former Stanford golfer Casey Martin is. He will play at the first California event, the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Will Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan team up at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the end of January?

The 2000 PGA Tour began January 6 with the Mercedes Championship at Kapalua, Maui, followed by the Hawaiian Open.

The tour then came to the California desert from January 19 to 23. And even though Martin, who won a lawsuit that will allow him to ride in a cart because of a medical condition, earned his tour card with his performance on the Nike Tour last year, it doesn't guarantee him automatic entries into tournaments. Martin received a sponsor's exemption along with Gary Nicklaus.

The Pebble Beach stop is from January 31 to February 6. Can't imagine any bigger galleries than when Tiger and Kevin Costner teamed up in the 1998 AT&T, but Woods-Jordan would certainly equal that. Everyone says Woods tends to commit at the last minute.

Other celebs already signed up? Oscar winning actor Michael Douglas, Super Bowl winning quarterback John Elway and Emmy award winning actor James Woods lead a star-studded field for the annual event slated on Spyglass Hill, Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach Golf Links, site of the 100th U.S. Open next June. Gallery favorites Jack Lemmon, Glen Campbell, William Devane, Huey Lewis and Academy award nominee, Samuel L. Jackson will also be there.

It could be a somber event at times because Payne Stewart, who was tragically killed in a plane crash on October 25th, won't be around to defend his 1999 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am title.

Tickets are now on sale through the tournament office in Monterey or call 831-649-1533 or 800-541-9091, or all BASS outlets. Information is also available through the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am website, Net proceeds from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am go to support a wide variety of charitable organizations. Last year the tournament made donations totaling $2,000,000.

Harding Park's Makeover

The Harding Park redesign is still cloaked in mystery. Last July PGA commissioner Tim Finchem announced The Tour Championship, which includes the 30 top players at year's end, will be played at San Francisco's Harding Park every third year beginning in 2002.

Finchem said the course, built in 1925, needed a facelift. So American Golf, Kemper Sports Management and Arnold Palmer Golf Management were all invited to put in bids for the redesign, along with BSL Golf Corporation of Houston, the outfit that redesigned Fort Ord's Bayonet and Blackhorse Golf Courses in Seaside. The bids are in, now we just wait for the contract award.

Whoever wins the bid will have a 35-year lease on the course, which includes the nine-hole Fleming Course. The bid winner will probably have to spend approximately $9 million on improvements, a new clubhouse and maintenance equipment. The new management team will also have to pay the city more than a million and a half per year in rent.

Harding Park is the host of the San Francisco City Golf Championship and hosted the United States Public Links tournaments in 1937 and 1955. Arnold Palmer Management runs The Presidio layout.

Northern California Awards

The Northern California Section of the PGA has announced its 1999 Section Award Winners. These individuals will be recognized for their superior contributions to the game of golf.

Winners are: Shawn McEntee - Player of the Year (Pasatiempo Golf Club, Santa Cruz, CA). Rick Jetter - PGA Professional of the Year (Spring Valley Golf Course, Milpitas, CA). John Joseph - Senior Player of the Year (Tri-Valley Golf Center, Pleasanton, CA). David Mutton - Teacher of the Year (Driving Obsession, San Francisco, CA). Laird Small - Horton Smith Award (Pebble Beach Golf Academy, Pebble Beach, CA). Steve Menchinella - Bill Strausbaugh Award (Sunnyside Country Club, Fresno, CA). Bob Boldt - Junior Golf Leader (Boundary Oak Golf Course, Walnut Creek, CA). Gary Loustalot - Merchandiser of the Year (Public) (De Laveaga Golf Course, Santa Cruz, CA). Michael S. Green - Merchandiser of the Year (Private) (Del Paso Country Club, Sacramento, CA). John Hughes - Merchandiser of the Year (Resort) (The Golf Courses at Incline Village, Incline Village, NV). Matthew Holm - Clubfitter of the Year (Champions Golf Links, Sacramento, CA). Len Dumas - Hershel Noonkester Award, Assistant of the Year (Rossmoor Golf Course, Walnut Creek, CA). Mark Doris - Sales Representative of the Year (Titleist, Piedmont, CA). Ron Agostini - Sports Media Person (Modesto Bee, Modesto, CA).

New Golf Course on The Strip

Thought they were out of space on The Strip in Las Vegas for a golf course? Nope, a new golf course is planned next to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Bill Walters, Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas-based Walters Golf, has purchased 140 acres next to the Mandalay Bay. He envisions a golf course that will match the tropical scheme of the Mandalay Bay property. Walters said he wants the experience to be "magical" taking the golfer into a South Pacific island world of white sand and palm trees.

The 7,040-yard, par-72 golf course is being designed by Scottsdale golf course architects Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley who have worked with Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye. Expect to see an island green and lots of volcanic rock.

Walters most recent contribution is Royal Links, one of Golf Magazine's "Top 10 You Can Play," which, like the Tour 18 layouts which feature famous American golf holes, was designed to feature great holes of the British Open.

Golf Bits And Pieces

Congratulations to LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, who grew up across the street and worked at Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz. She recently won Player of the Year award, presented by the Golf Writers Association of America.

There's a contest you can enter at to win a golf outing at San Juan Oaks next fall with Fred Couples, who co-designed the layout. It includes playing three holes with Couples.

Arnold Palmer was named Newsmaker of the Century by Golf World magazine, which also named top newsmakers for each decade: Tiger Woods for the 1990s, Seve Ballesteros (80s), Jack Nicklaus (70s), Arnold Palmer (60s), Ben Hogan (50s), Byron Nelson (40s), Gene Sarazen (30s), Bobby Jones (20s) Francis Ouimet (10s) and Harry Vardon (1900s).

Like they really need it! Beginning in 2000, AT&T will provide PGA Tour and Senior PGA Tour players with free use of cell phones, wireless service and complimentary long-distance service in locker rooms. It's going to be a four-year contract.

PGA Tour West Coast Swing Schedule

January 6-9
Mercedes Championships
The Plantation Course at Kapalua
Lahaina, HI (ESPN)

January 13-16
Sony Open in Hawaii
Waialae Country Club
Honolulu, HI (ESPN)

January 19-23
Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
PGA West/Bermuda Dunes/Indian Wells/Tamarisk
Indian Wells, CA (ESPN/ABC)

January 27-30
Phoenix Open
TPC of Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ (USA/CBS)

February 3-6
AT&T Pebble Beach Natl Pro-Am
Pebble Beach Golf Links/ Spyglass Hill/Poppy Hills
Pebble Beach, CA (USA/CBS)

February 10-13
Buick Invitational
Torrey Pines Country Club, South Course/North Course
LaJolla, CA (USA/CBS)

February 17-20
Nissan Open
Riviera Country Club
Pacific Palisades, CA (USA/CBS)

February 24-27
World Golf Championships: Andersen Consulting Match
Play Championship
Carlsbad, CA (ESPN/ABC)

February 24-27
Touchstone Energy Tucson Open
Omni Tucson National Golf Resort
Tucson, AZ (TGC/CNBC)

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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