Blog Entry

Match play to remain in 'Zona, but where?

Posted on: February 22, 2012 10:30 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 12:25 pm

By Steve Elling 

MARANA, Ariz. -- The Dove Mountain course was designed, explicitly, with match play in mind.

So when players basically deemed the host venue for this week's Accenture Match Play Championship as the second-worst course on the PGA Tour, it had to sting.

The venue's contract to host the tournament expires after this week, and depending on your personal view, it might come as mixed news that signs point toward the mega-money event staying put.

"Right now, we're heading in the direction of keeping it here," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday morning.

GolfWorld magazine last month ranked the courses in recent use on the tour and the Jack Nicklaus design finished ahead of one other venue, the critically savaged Liberty National course, which has hosted exactly one tour event.

So, in other words, the Dove Mountain course finished dead last among courses in annual use in tour competition.

The primary beef with players is that the greens are far too severe, as evidenced by the humorous exchange that Rory McIlroy this week recounted after he ran into Nicklaus at a South Florida shopping mall.

"He asked me what I thought of this golf course and I said it was great," McIlroy said, choosing the next few words very carefully.

"He asked me about the greens, and I went, 'they are okaaaay,'" McIlroy said, drawing laughs.

He made the point without underscoring it. The course is also located about 30 minutes from central Tucson at about 3,000 feet of elevation, whcih can cause issues when the weather changes. It snowed and hailed during the match-play finale last year. Fan attendance at the venue, which is tough to walk because of its proximity to the mountains, has been decent at best.

David Pillsbury, the tour's executive vice president of Championship Management, which runs the event, said there would be no announcement about the future fate of the site until after the tournament ends.

"We'll see how it goes, see what the attendance looks like, all that," Pillsbury said.

That said, Pillsbury strongly indicated that despite indications of the contrary, the event won't migrate far -- either in terms of geography or the calendar. The Associated Press, citing two tour sources, said there have been discussions about moving the match-play championship to Harding Park in San Francisco and slotting it in October as part of the revamped fall start to the season. According the the AP, the two sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss negotiations. Both stressed that the option was in the early stages of consideration.

"It'll be in this market and in this time frame," Pillsbury said Wednesday.

For how long?


Since: Mar 13, 2009
Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:53 pm

Match play to remain in 'Zona, but where?

Stripelover – this whole thing has got me “Thinking” now and that’s scary – LOL.

After a little thought, a bit of conversation with me, myself and I, a look in to a bit of history of this match play event; it leaves me thinking that no matter where this event goes lack of interest will follow unless there is a format change. Follow me here for a second; unless Tiger is playing Phil or Mcllroy on Sunday, how many golf fans are really going to show up for the last round that sports two players in the final?

This is not traditional Match Play but I’d suggest that you keep around 5–32 to play on Saturday along with 1-4 in their match ups. 5 plays 6, winner stays, 7 plays 8 winner stays etc… Then on Sunday the “new” 3-16 play with the Saturday format, 3 plays 4 for third and fourth place money, 5 plays 6 for fifth and sixth place money and so on. 1 and 2 go after each other in the last pairing for the Championship and second place money.

Like I said this is not traditional Match Play but you can keep that tradition going along with keeping a bigger field in place for Saturday and Sunday so the fans would support it. La Costa, Dove Mountain, Pebble Beach or the Augusta, two players left, not many Golf Fans buying tickets – just my humble opinion.

Since: Feb 18, 2008
Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:30 am

Match play to remain in 'Zona, but where?

Well said.  If you have kids and are familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine, it's almost like when you hear the words "The Engine thought" ... rarely does anything good happen when one of those engines starts thinking ... almost always just leads to confusion and delay.

Seriously though, I think your idea of leaving it in the area, but moving it to another course is certainly viable.

Since: Mar 13, 2009
Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:58 am

Match play to remain in 'Zona, but where?

It's sad to hear that there is "Thinking" going on regarding moving the Accenture Match Play Championship from Dove Mountain in Marana, AZ.

If I were the PGA and Accenture and wanted to keep this stop in Tucson, I'd take the stop to the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort and Spa. Tucson National was a long time stop on the PGA Tour except it had to compete with the this same match play event held at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, CA. every year. Even though the event was minus the top 64 players on tour it still was a pretty good draw in attendance. I’m sure if the Accenture Match Play Championships were moved to Tucson National you’d see a notable increase in attendance over the current location 30 miles North of Tucson at Dove Mountain.

The Players would love the track in what is somewhat of a Park Course lay out that makes it easier for fans to flock to and support the event. Sometimes in life the new shinny thing is only that, the new shinny thing.

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