With Phil Mickelson’s well-documented criticism of course architect Rees Jones, we knew Lefty probably wouldn’t pass at the chance to take a(nother) dig at Cog Hill, the venue for this week’s BMW Championship which was renovated by Jones in 2008. Pretty mild — well, relatively compared to his comments on Atlanta Athletic Club at last month’s PGA Championship. Here it comes…
Q. What would you have done differently or what would you do if you could do it over?
PHIL MICKELSON: I’ve kind of gone into it. But for the most part, I would have the four par-3s not be the same club. That would be the first thing I would do. I’d have maybe four different clubs. I also think that when you look at — when I ask a player like yourself or anybody, what’s your favorite golf course and on that course what’s your favorite hole, and if you think in your head what your favorite hole is, most of the time it’s a par-3 under 150 yards, a lot of times it’s a drivable par-4 and occasionally it’ll be a reachable par-5. And this really doesn’t have any of those. 15 is a reachable par-5, but it’s overdone. That’s like another thing.
There’s really no shot-making here that’s required. It doesn’t really test our ability to maneuver the ball because the fronts of the greens are blocked, and the only shot is to hit a high flop shot that stops. But being able to maneuver it doesn’t really matter. That’s basic stuff. Chipping areas, shot value around the greens, penalties for certain misses, all that stuff wasn’t really well thought out.
But tee to green and the property, it’s got really great potential. I’d love to see like a Gil Hanse or a Crenshaw/Coore or Kyle Phillips or David Kidd or guys that really know what they’re doing come in and create something special here because I think that’s what the family and this facility deserve.
Hey, at least Phil didn’t miss the pro-am to play Butler National like last year! Or suggest, as Steve Stricker did, that the owners of Cog Hill, the Jemseks, should get their money back. (Gasp, yes really!)
The mild-mannered Stricker, who chose his words carefully, said, “It’s an unfortunate situation, it really is. And I feel sad for the Jemsek family. Great family. I’ve gotten to be around them somewhat over the years. We had a college golf tournament here back when I went to Illinois and we got to meet Frank and Joe. You know, it’s just too bad. I mean, they need to get their money back, I guess. It’s too bad what happened here.
“Visually it looks much better than what it did, but playability, from the playability standpoint, I’ve got to believe for the average golfer, it is very difficult. And the players on a whole don’t really care for the redo. To see a tournament that’s been here for so long sound like it’s going to leave is disappointing.”
The main two criticisms the players bring up are the severe bunkering and the tricky greens.
Stricker said the course looks better visually tee to green after the redo, but well, appearances can be deceiving.
“You get up around the greens and it becomes a different story,” he said, pausing. “You watch my amateur group today, and they’re playing from way up. They’re living in those bunkers, they really are, and it’s just — it’s almost too severe in spots. If they got this firm and fast, you’d be coming in with shorter irons, but some of the locations are unattainable.”
Here’s the full transcript where Stricker goes into more detail – it was a very informative and engaging presser. (Per usual, he did his best to express his opinions while trying to be diplomatic. It seemed like he felt almost bad giving some of his honest thoughts on the course.)
Good news is defending champion Dustin Johnson enjoys the course.
“It’s great,” said Dustin following the pro-am Wednesday. “I like the golf course a lot. It’s in great shape this year. Obviously I played really well here last year, so it suits my game. It’s long, it’s hard.”
(AP Photo/Stew Milne)