Edgewood greens leave celebrities seeing red | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Edgewood greens leave celebrities seeing red

Steve Yingling

Rick Rhoden didn’t win last weekend’s Isuzu Celebrity Golf Championship – the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course greens won.

Edgewood’s slick, undulating poa anna greens took more shots from the celebrities than their Taylor-Made drivers did – unless you were Charles Barkley.

Memories of Dan Quinn crumbling to his knees as countless 10-foot birdie putts lipped out of the cup and Rhoden scowling as another three-footer escaped the canister pervaded the championship.

Considering how precise Rhoden and Quinn were from tee to green throughout the 54-hole tournament, the two retired athletes could have easily shot three rounds in the 60s.

“The putting frustrates you here, and if you let it get to you, it will drive you crazy. I’ve missed four or five from three feet, which will drive you crazy, but I guess you should just assume that you’re gonna do it,” Rhoden said.

Perhaps Rhoden’s single-most disappointing green misfortune came after he hit the best shot of his life on the difficult ninth hole during the second round. Rhoden’s tee shot glanced down off a pine tree guarding the left side of the dog-leg par-4 hole. Hence, Rhoden had an almost unreachable 260 yards to the green, but “Rick the Stick” drilled a 4-wood to within three feet of the cup.

A sure birdie, right?

Yeah, right!

“That was probably the greatest shot I’ve ever hit in my life, then I woke up and missed the putt,” he said.

Former Niners quarterback John Brodie could have run away with the tournament on Saturday if not for his inability to sink a putt.

“When you take 38 putts and shoot 73 you have to be very fortunate. Those greens out here are the most severe thing about the golf course,” said Brodie, who shot a splendid opening-round of 67 on Friday.

Quinn essentially lost the tournament on the 15th green on Saturday. Tied with Rhoden for the lead at 5-under, the former Penguins center four-putted for a double bogey.

“I still can’t believe I had a four-putt, because Rick told me it was good and you guys made me putt it. The third one was two feet, the fourth one was five feet, and if I missed I was going on one of the boats off 17,” Quinn quipped.

With the wind virtually nonexistent and the course lush from some heavy rain in June, celebrities have never had a better chance to score at Edgewood. Seven celebrities finished par or better – the most in the eight-year history of the tournament – and there would have been more players scoring in the red if the greens weren’t so cumbersome.

“The greens were running extremely fast to begin with, and the breaks are very subtle and difficult to see,” said Paul Martin, head golf professional at Edgewood, who rated the speed of the greens a 10 on the stimpmeter. “Players also see breaks that aren’t there. In the mountains here the lay of land goes one way and the green may counterbalance the other way.”

Believe it or not, the greens were rolling much faster – 11 to 12 – when Edgewood hosted the 1985 U.S. Senior Open.

“If they started getting up to 11 or 12, players would really start having some difficulty, and we don’t want that,” Martin said.

Martin believes some of the putting headaches could be attributed to the players’ fear factor on the first putt.

“You really have to charge the shorter putts. Inside five feet, they were lagging to the hole, and that’s when those breaks start to kick in. That’s one of the fine lines of hitting the ball firm enough because you need to keep it in the heart and at the same time you don’t want to leave yourself a three-footer coming back,” Martin said.

Maybe they should start leaving their caddies at home and seek out the local knowledge. Caddy Jay Kriebel helped retired Niner Randy Cross shoot a first-round 72; Jerry Stainer helped Oscar De La Hoya avoid triple digits and win a little cash from Charles Barkley and Aaron Hall was on the bag for country singer Rudy Gatlin, who surprisingly led the 78-player field at points during the first and second rounds.

Onetime “Bad Boy” Bill Laimbeer and Rhoden mentioned during the practice rounds that the greens were in the best shape ever.

A longer growing season and a new maintenance purchase enabled Martin and his crew to manicure the greens into pristine shape.

“We have this new mower with a brush that goes in front and lifts the poa heads and then the mower comes in behind and cuts the heads down,” he said.

Obviously, the only way the celebrities are going to handle Edgewood’s demanding greens is to see them more often.

“Just to come here once a year and play four days, with one day being a pro-am – that’s really not enough. They just need to see the course a little more often,” Martin said.

That should serves as incentive to local real estate agents. The players just might need to live here to figure out those darn greens.

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