According to figures released recently by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, 83% of experienced golfers replace their divots. The percentage who were expected to follow their example at a March 31 tournament at San Mateo ( Calif.) Golf Course: 0. Less than two days before the course will begin undergoing a $12 million, 13-month renovation in which virtually everything will be razed and redone, 120 competitors were scheduled to play an 18-hole tournament with total disregard for etiquette. The rules:
?Carts must stay in the fairways at all times.
?Please do not replace your divots—in fact, take some home.
?The raking of bunkers is strictly prohibited.
?To get to the cocktail reception as quickly as possible, please feel free to drive across the greens when returning to the clubhouse.
"We might want to eliminate that last part," says San Mateo pro Gary Monisteri. "The greens will be dug up, but they're very narrow and elevated. I'm afraid someone's going to tip over or fall into a bunker and get hurt."
San Mateo, which was built in 1933 under the direction of the Works Progress Administration, has been flooded for more than 50 days in each of the last two years because the drainage system doesn't drain. Nevertheless, some of the course's longtime customers were irked by the plans for Wednesday's demolition derby. "I had someone call who was really insulted," Monisteri says. "He said it wasn't a very dignified way to close the course."
That concerned gentleman can rest assured: Wednesday's divot-strewn chaos wasn't planned as a way to put the muni out to pasture. The very last goodbyes were scheduled for Thursday morning, when employees were to get a moment to reflect by playing San Mateo one last time, just them, their clubs and the course—if there's anything left of it.
Seve Tries Speed Golf
Seve Ballesteros, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last week but hasn't made a cut on the PGA Tour since '96, has begun working with sports psychologist Bob Rotella. In an effort to rescue Ballesteros, a two-time Masters winner who will turn 42 on April 9, Rotella has implemented a routine in which Seve avoids thinking about mechanics by hitting the ball within five seconds of addressing it. The strategy worked reasonably well during last Thursday's first round of the Players Championship, when the notoriously wild Spaniard was only two over before bogeying the final two holes for a 76. On Friday, however, the quick-hit system was a miss as Ballesteros, who hasn't made a cut in three European tour starts in '99, shot an 81. Look for him next week at Augusta; barring a miracle, he'll be the guy checking out all the new trees.