During last night’s e-mail roundtable chat about Rory Sabbatini’s victory, among many other topics, the caliber of the Honda Classic as a tour stop was brought up, which led to a debate over what kind of events we enjoy watching more — one where the field struggles or one where birdies flow freely. Of course, this prompted a West Coast vs. Florida swing discussion. Which do we prefer? Personally, I enjoyed the Honda (especially the commute, which was walking from one side of the hotel to the other), but it’s different when you’re covering a tournament on-site and when you’re watching it on TV from your couch.
Herre: I found the Honda to be a little tedious. With the wind and those tough finishing holes, no one could make a move.
Van Sickle: Personally, I love watching the pros battle the elements, especially wind. You see just how good these guys are, and you see who’s really playing well and who isn’t. Sure, a birdie-fest is fun, but players against Mother Nature, like the year Padraig Harrington won the British Open at Royal Birkdale, is even better theater.
Shipnuck: I enjoy watching the pros get beat up, but only in moderation. Seems like the Florida swing has become a contest to see who can have the most boring, penal setup. If the best players in the world can’t birdie a hole, there’s something wrong with it.
Spearman: Only 13 guys finished under par for the week. The Florida swing courses are now tough except Doral, which is a WGC tournament. There will surely be more guys under par next week.
Herre: I think the Honda was kind of a one-off, because of the wind and the course. Mitchell’s right — Doral will be more telling. I look for the durn ‘furiners to have a big week.
Wei: I was disappointed the course was playing easier on Sunday, softer from overnight rain and not nearly as windy. I wanted to see if the leaders could withstand the pressure of the Bear Trap coming down the stretch.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I prefer the West Coast swing. The courses are far more interesting. I know every place can’t be Pebble or Riviera or Torrey Pines, but my eyes kind of glaze over at these Florida courses. If you dropped me in the middle of PGA National or Doral, I could barely tell you which was which.Wei: I’m with you, Damon. The courses on the West Coast swing are much more interesting. I’m not a big fan of the manufactured water hazards, etc., in Florida, but for some reason, I really enjoyed the Honda. There was a three-group pileup on 17 on Thursday while I was out there, and you could see the fear in the guys’ faces before they hit the shot. It’s already a tough hole even without 30-mile-per-hour gusts and stepping up to the tee after a 30-minute wait. I found it intriguing.Hack: That’s just it. The par 3s on the Bear Trap, for example. They’re difficult holes, but are they great holes? Give me No. 12 at Augusta or No. 17 or 7 at Pebble. Give me the par-4 10th at Riviera. While the Bear Trap holes might scare people and ruin scorecards, they don’t move my golfing soul.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Agree that there’s not much to swoon over at PGA National, but at least the difficulty level of the course gives the tournament an identity, something missing at a lot of Tour stops.
Wei: No real complaining from players, which I thought was interesting. Pre-tournament, first word when guys talked about the course was “tough.”
Van Sickle: Agree with Damon. I’m not a fan of PGA National or the Bear Trap run. It can make for exciting TV, though. Maybe that’s enough, but it doesn’t make me want to pony up a hefty greens fee to play resort golf there.
What did you think of PGA National? Do you prefer the West Coast swing or the Florida swing?
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)