That Was the Year That Was - 2013


Here's a brief look at what Cybergolf's team of writers thought about what happened in golf over the last year. The remarks were compiled by Tony Dear. Here's what made our list.

Tony Dear

Tony Dear

What was the best course you played in 2013?
Gamble Sands in Brewster, Wash. Northwest golf media folk were fortunate to get a very early preview - a year before its scheduled opening date. The views are amazing and there are so many fun and attractive holes, it's pretty clear it won't take long for this David Kidd design to rank among Washington's two or three best.

Name a few other courses you really enjoyed.
Gallery North: A terrific John Fought design near Tucson. No sign of a mundane hole. Guacalito de la Isla: David Kidd has learned the beauty of playability after a couple of over-the-top designs. Located on Nicaragua's Pacific Coast, it's not exactly local, but it is a wonderful vacation destination. Tubac Golf Resort: Surrounded by desert but a quiet, gentle parkland course that is a real hidden treat. Sewailo: Notah Begay/Ty Butler collaboration that elevates Tucson's status, and will only get better as it matures. Greenbrier Old White: Fun playing holes modeled on some of the great holes from history. Kiva Dunes: Lots of memorable shots and wonderful turf. Diamante Dunes: Some absolutely unforgettable holes. Course will be even better when the new 12th and 13th holes replace the current versions.

What was your favorite moment of the year (non-personal)?
Adam Scott winning the Masters. I've always enjoyed watching him play and he's a good guy. The quality of golf in the playoff with Angel Cabrera was incredible.

What was your favorite moment of the year (personal)?
Flying on Don Carlos Pellas's private jet from Orlando to Nicaragua. That was quite a ride.

What was the best shot you saw this year (in person or on TV)?
Phil Mickelson's second to the 72nd hole at the Open Championship. His 3-wood second at the 17th was phenomenal, but I think this shot had less margin for error. Stopping it 10 feet from the hole was astonishing, given the circumstances. Pretty cool putt to follow, too. Justin Rose's second to the 72nd at the U.S. Open was also fairly awesome.

What one thing in 2013 do you wish hadn't happened?
Banning anchoring was the right thing to do I think, but it came 40 years late. So I'll go for the course set-up at Merion. I'd been looking forward to seeing the course for months and though it was great to see it back, I wish the USGA hadn't gone for thick rough by the side of such narrow fairways. It is the U.S. Open so I get that it needs to distinguish itself from run-of-the-mill Tour events. But guarding par so closely gets really tedious as all U.S. Open venues tend to end up looking analogous. Just let Merion be Merion, and if the winning score is -14, so be it. Also, continued changes to the Old Course at St. Andrews. I'm sure that during the 2015 Open Championship many players will say the course is improved, and most viewers will assume they must be right. But I still find the whole business rather dubious. Why make changes to such an historic course for the sake of one week of tournament play?

What are you looking forward to most in 2014?
Always the Open Championship and especially as it's at Hoylake. I used to play there a lot in my college days, but don't remember playing it in anything other than rain and wind, and under grey skies. When Tiger Woods won in 2006, the hard, parched fairways and sunny skies made it look totally unfamiliar. I hope they get some "proper" weather next year. Also: the Ryder Cup, the opening of Gamble Sands, and positive progress at Pacific Gales in southern Oregon.

What decision do you hope the USGA and R&A will make in 2014?
I think it's time to review the spike-mark rule. I've never really understood why you can repair a pitch/ball mark but not a spike mark.

Blaine Newnham

Blaine Newnham

What was the best course you played in 2013?
The Old Course at St. Andrews. You know, I'd been there before, covering the 2000 Open Championship when Tiger Woods missed every bunker every day. St. Andrews is an awful place to watch a tournament, even for a journalist. Spectators are detained outside the playing areas, outside the double-greens. The course is flat. And so I had no idea how wonderful the back nine really was, all the surprises and stories that were out there. It is as wild and woolly as it gets. I loved playing the course, even in a strong wind . . . especially in a strong wind. It was worth the wait, and the money, and the temptation to play elsewhere.

Name a few other courses you really enjoyed.
On the trip to Scotland, we hit the road and played wonderful, not-so-well-known places like Boat of Garten, Gullane No. 1, and Montrose, but we also played Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch and Cruden Bay. We passed on Carnoustie as we thought it would be too rigorous, and I was less than excited about the new Trump course. But Royal Dornoch might be, as Tom Watson said, the most enjoyable piece of golf real estate on the planet. The village is wonderful, so are the people in it. It is, as I wrote, where golfers should go to die. And Cruden Bay? How quirky can a golf course be - pretty quirky when it contains back-to-back par-3s where you can't see the greens. One, in fact, is a dogleg.

What was your favorite moment of the year (non-personal)?
Watching Phil Mickelson master links golf in winning the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and parlay it to a win in the Open Championship.

What was your favorite moment of the year (personal)?
Waiting to get on St. Andrews. We missed out in the lottery. There was a suggestion we play Kingsbarns, which I'd played before and thought was really good - although Castle Stuart is better. I said let's go get on the singles list. We got there at 5:30 a.m. I was No. 12 on the list. The starter was terrific. He said come back around 11. Finally at 12:30 there was an opening with three Italians. But they didn't want me, threw me back. Two hours later I was accepted by three Frenchmen, who happily took me and I happily took them. We had a great time. We spent much of the time talking about why the French get such a bad rap from Americans. They were in the Scotch business. I loved them. Finished near 7 p.m. in the gloaming. Just the best.

What was the best shot you saw this year (in person or on TV)?
The 3-wood shot by Mickelson on the 17th hole in the final round of the Open at Muirfield.

What one thing in 2013 do you wish hadn't happened?
Nothing really; it was a very good year.

What are you looking forward to most in 2014?
I'll spend the year looking forward to the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay for one thing, and the official opening of Gamble Sands for another. I was lucky enough to play Gamble Sands last fall. What a treat. Broke 80 both times, and played with David McLay Kidd who designed a course - like Bandon Dunes - to be enjoyed, not overwhelmed by.

What decision do you hope the USGA and R&A will make in 2014?
I buy into the notion that you ought to be able to fix spike marks. At the same time, I hope the powers-that-be don't back down on the anchoring of long putters.

Steve Habel

Steve Habel

What was the best course you played in 2013?
(Tie) Pinehurst No. 2 (Pinehurst, NC), Druid's Glen GC (Ireland) and Dye Fore (Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic). The renovation to No. 2 is remarkable and everything I heard about the course being great was right on the money; Druid's Glen is perhaps the best inland course in Ireland and the conditions and routing were nothing short of remarkable (kudos to golf architect Pat Ruddy); in my humble opinion, the Chevron nine at Dye Fore may be the best work of Pete Dye's career - it's freaking amazing.

Name a few other courses you really enjoyed.
I played 146 different courses this year and liked just about every one of them. Standouts (other than above) were: Teeth of the Dog and La Romana CC in the Dominican Republic; the Golden Horseshoe GC's Gold course in Williamsburg, Va.; Schaffer's Mill GC in Truckee, Calif.; County Louth GC in Baltray, Ireland; Royal Dublin GC in Dublin, Ireland; Raleigh CC in Raleigh, N.C.; Pinehurst No. 4; Forrest Creek CC in Pinehurst, N.C.; Sedgefield CC in Greensboro, N.C., The Glacier Club in Durango, Colo.; The Ross Tribute course at the Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs, Mich.; Bay Harbor GC in Bay Harbor, Mich.; the Kingsley Club in Kingsley, Mich.; Soldier Hollow GC's Gold course in Midway, Utah; Atlantic City CC in Atlantic City, N.J.; Kilmarlic GC in Powells Point, N.C.; and, the Fazio Canyons course at the Omni Barton Creek Resort in Austin, Texas. That's 18 really good courses.

What was your favorite moment of the year (non-personal)?
When Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic after five playoff holes. That kid is good.

What was your favorite moment of the year (personal)?
I can't think of any specific favorite moment, but all the great new courses I played made it a really solid year overall. I think the best part of playing the game is when you meet great people. That, to me, is the essence of golf.

What was the best shot you saw this year (in person or on TV)?
My oldest son Christopher (a 21-year-old junior at New Mexico State and pretty much a rank beginner at golf but loves the game and playing with his dad) holed a 130-yard shot from the fairway for a birdie on the first hole at The Bandit GC in New Braunfels, Texas. That happened in June and he's still walking on air about it.

What one thing in 2013 do you wish hadn't happened?
That I tried to play Oakmont CC on November 6 in the snow. Or that Tiger's shot on No. 15 at Augusta National didn't hit the flagstick and the resulting firestorm was never created.

What are you looking forward to most in 2014?
I am going to cover the dual U.S. Opens at Pinehurst in June. It will be hard work, but also a lot of fun.

What decision do you hope the USGA and R&A will make in 2014?
If I could pick one rule that I think needs to be changed it would be that players have to play out of divots left by others. To me that should be considered ground under repair.

Jay Flemma

Jay Flemma

What was the best course you played in 2013?
Pine Valley. It's the Shangri-La of golf courses.

Name a few other courses you really enjoyed.
Dye Fore, Winged Foot, Teeth of the Dog, Mid-Ocean, Diamante Dunes.

What was your favorite moment of the year (non-personal)?
Phil at the Open Championship. Take that critics, who said he couldn't play links golf!

What was your favorite moment of the year (personal)?
Playing Pine Valley on my birthday. The only way it could have been better was if Phish or Foo Fighters were playing at my house when I got back home.

What one thing in 2013 do you wish hadn't happened?
I wish Tiger hadn't taken that screwy drop at the Masters, the even worse one at Sawgrass, and that he hadn't cussed out (PGA Tour official) Slugger White in Chicago. That's a good way to make an impression on the sponsors and fans.

What was the best shot you saw this year (in person or on TV)?
Angel Cabrera's second to the 72nd hole at the Masters. To have watched Adam Scott hole his birdie putt moments before and know you need to make a birdie and then stuff it in there to a few feet was pretty gutsy. To make that birdie with the Green Jacket on the line was just phenomenal.

What are you looking forward to most in 2014?
Practicing more. Seriously. I went from being a decent golfer to a bad golfer in 2013, and I need to get back on track. In the pro game, I'm hoping to see less of the intrusive, insidious corporate stuff that accompanies so many players and tournaments these days and just watch the emergence of great young players instead. I really don't care about players' apparel scripts for upcoming tournaments. That stuff just sucks the joy out of the game. I know it's probably asking too much in this day and age, but let's just focus on the golf.

What decision do you hope the USGA and R&A will make in 2014?
I hope they start to wear brighter colors.

Jeff Shelley

Jeff Shelley

What was the best course you played in 2013?
The European Club in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Name a few other courses you really enjoyed.
Royal Portrush and Portstewart in Northern Ireland.

What was your favorite moment of the year (non-personal)?
Mickelson's win in the Open.

What was your favorite moment of the year (personal)?
Having a shot of Bushmills with my buddies in the halfway house at Portrush as the rain poured down and the wind tipped over our trolleys outside by the tee. Also, the frequent giant smiles of my two young grandsons.

What was the best shot you saw this year (in person or on TV)?
Angel Cabrera's magnificent, pressure-packed approach in the rain on Augusta National's 18th for birdie that tied Adam Scott and forced the playoff.

What one thing in 2013 do you wish hadn't happened?
I understand why anchoring was banned, but I wish it wasn't. I just think it was unnecessary and created more trouble than it prevented.

What are you looking forward to most in 2014?
The continued national growth of First Green, the nonprofit foundation that helps golf courses become learning labs for school students. I serve as the board president.

What decision do you hope the USGA and R&A will make in 2014?
A serious second look at their long-putter ban; golf doesn't need another barrier to keep people from playing and enjoying the game.

Dave Droschak

David Droschak

What was the best course you played in 2013?
Chechessee Creek in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Name a few other courses you really enjoyed.
Mountain Air - best views of any mountain course in the Eastern U.S. Trump National Charlotte - great restoration by the Trump Golf group

What was your favorite moment of the year (non-personal)?
Adam Scott winning The Masters.

What was your favorite moment of the year (personal)?
I don't have one specific moment to be honest. Just waking up every day is cause for celebration.

What was the best shot you saw this year (in person or on TV)?
Phil Mickelson's 3-wood second to the 17th hole in the final round of the British Open.

What one thing in 2013 do you wish hadn't happened?
Jason Day losing eight relatives to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

What are you looking forward to most in 2014?
The U.S. Open and Women's U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort.

What decision do you hope the USGA and R&A will make in 2014?
Gimmies on any putt within two feet.


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