The Golf Club at Dove Mountain

Opened in 2009, The Golf Club at Dove Mountain is a Jack Nicklaus creation consisting of three nines: ‘Saguaro’ (type of cactus), ‘Tortolita’ (local mountain range), and ‘Wild Burro’ (crazy donkey). The Match Play event uses Saguaro as the opening nine (3,894 yards, par 36) and Tortolita (3,955 yards, par 36) as the finishing nine. Shame they don’t utilize the Wild Ass Burro nine for matches requiring extra holes–seems way too fitting.

Anyway, it’s pretty much standard-fare desert golf. Lush fairways, not much rough, and penal desert conditions for poorly executed shots. Accuracy off the tee and tight approach shots is the obvious recipe, along with rolling one’s rock. Pretty straightforward target golf; a far cry from Riviera last week.

The closing stretch of holes is where most of the drama will unfold. It goes like this: 13th (583 yard par-5)–par should lose the hole; 14th (449 yard par-4)– birdie usually wins the hole; 15th (343 yard par-4)–big boys can drive the green, better be scoring here; 16th (247 yard par-3)–who can get nice with a mid/long iron?, 17th (482 yard par-4)–birdie is a nice score; and the 18th (480 yard par-4)–another decent-sized four-par where birdie usually wins it. To win a match, guys are going to have to shoot some birds down the stretch.

If a match goes extras, the first three holes on the front nine (‘Saguaro’) look like this: 1st (460 yard par-4), 2nd (574 yard par-5), and 3rd (208 yard par-3). Nice variety of holes providing the final acts in the drama.


A moment of silence, for the death of the Accenture Match Play:

On paper, a match play event sounds like a great idea to break up the repetitive week-in, week-out stroke play grind. And yet every year we’re reminded just how mediocre this event can usually is.

A bracket of 64 works fantastic once a year, and it’s not in February. It’s in March when Gus Johnson is screaming through my television calling the action. In college basketball, we’re all rooting for the underdog and for everyone’s bracket to be busted. It’s more entertaining to root for a school whose official color is “poop brown” to beat the highly favored 2 seed because the death of defeat is so final.

In golf, we constantly find ourselves rooting for either the superstars or the plucky underdog with the great story. That’s a problem at the Match Play. The big favorites are skipping this event with increasingly regularity (this year no Big Cat, no Lefty, no Adam Scott), and the feel-good story doesn’t really exist – it’s tough to be an underdog when you’re hanging out in the OWGR top-70. So it’s no surprise that our favorite Match Play moment of all time happened when Stephen Ames decided to run his mouth prior to his round first round match with Tiger Woods, after which Big Cat conquered his soul, leading to the phrase “getting Ames’d.” Without some feel-good stories, the more favorites that get eliminated this weekend, the more likely you are to get your garage painted or your sock drawer organized. Now that three of the world’s top four aren’t playing, we’re officially calling for the death of the event…which would allow us to outline how to bring the event back to life.

Convert Dove Mountain Back Into a Desert

The main issue why the enthusiasm for the event has waned in recent years is that the venue was voted as the second worst tour stop, narrowly losing out to Liberty National, which is not even a regular stop on the Tour. Adam Scott cited the venue as the main reason for skipping the event, noting that he would absolutely consider playing the event at a different course. The general consensus seems to be, great resort (The Ritz-Carlton hotel out there is brand new and solid), shitty golf course (cookie-cutter Nicklaus design on a barren piece of earth), in a mediocre locale (45 minutes outside Tucson). We’re not even mentioning the snow and frost delays that kinked things up the last few years.

As noted in the link above, Accenture’s sponsorship of the event ends this year, and they’ve told the PGA Tour that they won’t be re-upping. If the event is going to survive, they’re going to have to get out of the desert (and potentially to a later date in the season). Let’s dream on some locales (pretty half baked ideas):

Cypress Point – Not a realistic option, but we’re dreaming. Cypress is Golf Digest’s #3 course in America. It was formally part of the rotation at the Bing Crosby, but was moved for several reasons (mainly the fact that the course is 6,500 yards). Without having par to protect (remember, it’s match play), why can’t they play a shortened course? How sick would it be to see the matches come down to these finishing holes?

Streamsong – If the tournament remains in it’s current time slot on the calendar, why not start the Florida Swing a week early? If you haven’t seen or heard of this course, check out the website. Good luck spending less than a half hour clicking through the pictures. Gary Van Sickle recently played there, and said it could host a major championship right now.

Last Year

Matt Kuchar defeated Hunter Mahan in the championship, but all anyone remembers is the snow.

Well, this is what Dove Mountain looks like at 7:45 a.m. They'll resume play at 10:30. Maybe. … #WGCMatchPlay

— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) February 21, 2013

Fantasy/Gambling Insights

We’re eschewing formal picks this week and just throwing out a few names to like. To guide you on picks, I’ll refer you to Adam Sarson’s excellent summary of everyone in the field and their match play records, as well as his betting preview. (Side note, this guy is still criminally underfollowed on twitter).

Some names to consider: Mahan, Day, Poulter, Simpson, Kuchar, Rory.

Drinking Game

Take a drink of your beer (Tecate or Corona this week, as this event is practically in Mexico) every time the following happens:

  • The snow from the last two years is mentioned or shown on tv.
  • Hunter Mahan’s epic shank is shown.
  • The Tiger Woods-Stephen Ames debacle is mentioned.
  • The uncertainty of the future of the event is mentioned.
  • Ian Poulter’s bulging eyes are discussed.
  • Ian Poulter’s Ryder Cup record is mentioned.

The Fringe

The players show up this week to collect an easy paycheck and to grab some easy world cup points, and in honor of that, we kind of half assed our preview. A first round win guarantees at minimum a T17 finish and approximately $100K payday. It’s a shame that Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka didn’t make it into the field. The event is lacking young blood, and natural rivalries. Jason Sobel noted earlier this week that only two matches contain players from the same country. I can just imagine the Golf Channel commercial: “Moore! Luiten! It’s the Accenture Match Play, up next, on the Golf Channel!”