This is it. 29 guys vying for $10 million at the home of Bobby Jones. It’s phenomenal irony that such a cash grab takes place on the home track of the greatest amateur ever (not to mention a hell of an engineer). Per usual, I digress, so instead of bringing Stephen Hawking in to explain the FedEx Cup Playoffs algorithm, we’ll just send you over to Kyle Porter’s preview if you’re looking for A Beautiful Mind-esque breakdown of the playoff structure. The goal here is to highlight the tournament itself, and with Tron Carter on the ground for the weekend drama, NLU should have some unique (and scalding) takes that build off this preview.
First a brief history digression. East Lake Golf Club is located just East of downtown Atlanta and was the first home of The Atlanta Athletic Club, which commissioned the golf course in 1904. After growing from 7 to 9 to 17 and finally 18 holes under the supervision of Tom Bendelow, the AAC membership brought in
Mr. Wolf Donald Ross to bring things up to a championship level right about the time legendary member Bobby Jones entered High School beginning a 5 decade run as a bastion of Southern Aristocracy. But, in 1966, The AAC fled North to Suburbia leaving the East Lake property to fend for itself in inner city Atlanta. East Lake’s own website highlights it’s fall from 1963 Ryder Cup host to East Lake’s “course two” demolition to make way for The East Lake Meadow housing project aka “Little Vietnam.” Unfortunately for members, these guys were playing through:
Whoa. By 1993, East Lake was in such disrepair, it became a trial run for urban revitalization after the crack epidemic. With a cash infusion from The East Lake Foundation (i.e. Coca-Cola and Atlien Real Estate Mogul Tom Cousins), East Lake enlisted Rees Jones to save the day. The video above does a good job explaining this transformation. Today, East Lake has played host to the Tour Championship since 1998.
Here’s a primer on the course from the Tour website. It demands length off the tee but also places a premium on being on the correct side of the fairway. The par 3 finishing hole is a rarity these days, but it’s a strong hole (MUCH stronger than the one a couple months ago at Greenbrier) and provides a solid theatre for the fans. #6 is one of my favorite holes to watch, if only for the Sully-Sullenberger-style water landings on the long par 3. Overall, a great course to finish the season on, especially after seeing other classic layouts recently (Wyndham, Barclays, BMW).
Again, the video above should give you a sense of the “Vibe” that used to surround East Lake and still gives a pretty accurate feel of most of downtown Atlanta (still trying anything it can to revitalize on the corporate Atlanta dime as families move to the Northern suburbs and the City lets the Braves flee North as well…thanks Kasim Reed). Expect to hear a significant amount of Jeezy (new album is STRONG btw) as you walk from the Turner Field parking lot over to the Tour Championship shuttles. That’s right, there is no parking as the course is boxed in on all sides by low, Zone 6 apartment blocks and new condominiums in East Atlanta.
Once inside the grounds, things take on an air of “tradition,” as the home of Bobby Jones. This is really a big Coca-Cola party, which means they play up the antebellum Atlanta vibe HARD. Oh, and expect a ton of Kuchar Fans.
The Big Freaking Swede, Henrik Stenson took home the hardware last year outlasting Jordan Spieth’s coming out party and what may be Steve Stricker’s final act…Of the three, only Spieth earned the rebuttal this year.
(all lines courtesy Ladbrokes.com, the Official Bookmaker of NoLayingUp.com)
Horses for Courses
Only three wagers this week: Young Jordan Spieth (16/1) finished second last year and is currently trending in the right direction on the road to Gleneagles. He almost feels like a post-hype sleeper at the moment (if that’s possible for his age). And don’t look now, but Billy Haas (25/1) is TIDY these days. After finishing T2 at the Wyndham, he’s gone T15, T9, T16 in the first three events of the Playoffs. If I had to pick one skill that Bill Haas possesses, it’s the ability to earn gratuitous amounts of money without doing anything noteworthy. Sounds like a FedEx Cup winner to me! The 2011 champ looks strong. Lastly, Billy Horschel at 20/1. As we’ve noted the last few weeks, when Billy gets hot, he stays hot. Add in this quote, and I’m sold:
“If I were a betting man, I’d put some money on me.”
Honorable Mentions & Fantasy Fodder
As there’s only 29 dudes in the field, not much to riff on here.
Rory (3/1!!!!!!!!) limped home with a final round 74 in his only previous appearance at East Lake, otherwise playing solid golf. But 3/ 1 is ignorant. Matsuyama (40/1) makes his East Lake debut on the heels of a solid week at the BMW and is the sleeper pick here.
- Though the money adds a significant amount of drama, the fan experience at the Tour Championship lacks pop. With only 15 groups on the course all four days, and some players with no chance of winning, you don’t see much golf.
- I’d love to see Coca-Cola add a little ‘Flare’ to the winning prize. Though a conservative, old school brand, Coke is one of the most forward thinking marketing operations in the world. People, They’ve built a museum to
sell morecelebrate the history of sugar water! I’d love to see a life time supply of Coke on the line, or even better, the opportunity for the winner to bring back one of Coke’s zombie brands (I’d vote SURGE! if only for the commercials…BTW, were the late 90’s real?). Something tells me Webb Simpson would be all over this.
- The Euros head up to Holland (Soly’s new home in approximately three weeks) this week for the KLM Open, where freaky-deaky Dutchman Joost Luiten defends his title on the 6,600 yard (!!!!) Kennemer Golf & CC. Right down the road is The Hague, where Bubba will be detained if he causes an international incident at The Ryder Cup in a few weeks.
- For those of you who haven’t checked in on the Web.com Tour Playoffs, make it a point to do so this week, as they’re interrupting the funereal proceedings up in Buckeye Nation at OSU’s Scarlet Course, probably the strongest campus-golf track in America. The relegation style setup is reminiscent of EPL soccer, with the guys lowest on the TOUR totem pole have to beat the top performers from the Web.com season. Tour cards on the line and guys are playing like it. Personally, I’ll be rooting for Spencer Levin to build off of last week’s strong performance and gain his card for next year. Here’s the rundown on the characters. Talent galore, but still fitting that it’s September and the big boys are jousting in Georgia while the minor leagues are hanging out in Big Ten country.
Check in with the NLU Gang all week on twitter whilst we do our usual hood-rat act: @NoLayingUp.