Bruno's Blog

Pebble Beach - Just What The U.S Open Needed. PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno

The 119th edition of the United States Open also marked the 100th anniversary

for the iconic Monterey seaside destination known as Pebble Beach Golf Links.

America's national championship has had the identity as the games' sternest

test, a complete examination of both mind and endurance. But most recently

the championship has been mired in controversial rules infractions and course

set up debacles. It's no secret the event desperately needed a competition

free of the peripheral clutter.



The love affair the golfing public has with Pebble is only equaled by the Home

of Golf at St.Andrews in Scotland, so convincing anyone of the its worthiness

was not part of the narrative leading up to the championship. With USGA

Executive Director Mike Davis turning over all of his previous course set up

responsibilities to John Bodenhamer, this was a chance for a new perspective

from all participating and observing parties - players, the USGA, media and

the golfing public.





Bob Ford commands the 1st tee at Pebble Beach as the official U.S Open starter








Highly successful in past U.S Open Championships, Pebble Beach has a fifty

year lineage of iconic winners: '72 (Nicklaus), '82 (Watson), '92 (Kite), '00

(Woods winning by 15 shots) and '10 (McDowell). In fact, recently there was

a suggestion that the Stillwater Cove venue should host the championship

annually. This sentiment was wishful thinking of course, but just the mere

notion shows the stature that Pebble holds in the game.





Bodenhamer took the prudent approach of leaning a bit more on letting mother

nature dictate the course conditions and what the end result would be in terms

score. Allowing Chris Dalhamer - the Superintendent at Pebble Beach to do

what he does best was another key factor in getting the course to play flawlessly

in benign conditions, but also being fully prepared for a fair test had the weather

taken a turn for the worse. Bringing back the traditional "less greenside options"

U.S Open set up with 6 inch ankle deep "chop it out" ryegrass rough wouldn't be

my personal preference, but it is where the Far Hills hierarchy decided to go with

the set up. In the end, one could argue that with three of the best players in the

world near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday (Rose, McIlroy and Koepka)

and one who's been knocking on the door of major success for awhile (in Gary

Woodland) the USGA got it right.




So for all of the knocks the blue coats of Far Hills, N.J have taken in recent years,

lets give them an ovation for allowing Pebble Beach to shine at the 2019 United

States Open. On to Winged Foot next June . . .







Chris Dalhamer's Agronomy staff.




















Images from the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno

You saw it all unfold in Farmingdale, N.Y, another dominant showing by

Brooks Koepka at a golf course that shared top billing - Bethpage Black is

popular not only because of its classic Tillinghast design attributes, but

also for its place in American golf society (set within the massive 90 hole

municipal complex at New York's Bethpage State Park). These images

(and descriptions) from the 101st PGA Championship are just that, a

reflection of the week at "The People's Country Club".









Bethpage Clubhouse and welcome sign.









The iconic Bethpage logo is everywhere around the grounds, where five

championship golf courses (Red, Yellow, Blue, Green and Black) sit shoulder

to shoulder in central Long Island.









The other courses at Bethpage were idle (with various holes being

re-purposed) during the championship. Red Course 1st tee shown.











Kevin Na and Tiger getting in some practice on the greens early in the week.










Rory discusses his preparation for competing on the Black course.










Open Champion Francesco Molinari discussed his day on the course.










Defending Champion Brooks Koepka tells the media he's ready.










Home base for the week.









Tribute to longtime journalist Dan Jenkins.






Among the really interesting pieces in the tribute to Dan Jenkins was

this Funeral announcement for his long time friend Ben Hogan.








The fans in N.Y get an early glimpse of the Masters Champion Tiger

Woods going through his paces on the putting green.








Tommy Fleetwood unleashes a drive on the par 5 13th during

Wednesday's practice round.








The starters booth at the Black Course.








This famous sign that overlooks the 1st tee says it all.









The exam awaits . . .






Severe back to front is how many Tillinghast greens were designed,

the green at the 1st is no different.









The right to left par 4 - 2nd hole. Even during last week's PGA Championship

there were moments when I felt like I was just playing another round on the

Black. After the 1st hole you walk through a tunnel that brings you across

the street). Just a few friendly volunteers were in place as I strolled with

trusty Nikon in hand inside the ropes (at major championships, credentialed

media are only allowed within an arms length of the designated rope line. I

may have extended that space a wee bit a few times to get a better vantage








The approach to the 2nd plays uphill, leaving a bit of uncertainty until

you reach the rise to see where your ball came to rest.









The perspective from the right greenside bunker on the 2nd.











The view from the tee on the par 3 - 3rd.










This image shows how the green surface on the par 3 third tilts away from

the player, often repelling shots off the back.









The par 5 fourth gets our vote as one of the most aesthetically dramatic

parkland holes in America - and one of Tilly's finest designs.








Ditto our previous comments regarding the design virtues on the 4th -

here on the sweeping reverse "S" par 4 - 5th.








The green complex at the short downhill par 4 6th is a classic.









A rare reverse view of the 6th hole that I snagged on my way to the next

tee early Wednesday morning. It was an afterthought at the time, but may

be my favorite image from the week.









From the 7th tee looking back at the sixth.









Normally a challenging par 5 for amateurs who play here, the 7th

played as a brutally tough par 4 for the best in the world.









A contender for my personal favorite views was this one from the fairway bunker

on the 7th.









7th green.









The par 3 - 8th











The only water on the Black Course is here at the 8th, this steep

embankment funnels everything directly into the hazard.









The Black isn't known for its greens, but there are a few really exceptional

green complexes and the 8th is one of them.








9th tee view.










This fairway bunker guards the corner of the dogleg right.










The approach at the 9th.










The 10th plays to a slightly elevated green.










Massive fairway bunkers lined with tall fescue dominate the landscape on the

Black, impressive as a visual, but tough to avoid, like this body of sand on the

par 4 - 11th.









The 12th tee for amateurs, big hitters can carry the cross bunker.

Otherwise stay right. There were still a few spots on the course where

at a quick glance it was tough to tell a major championship was going on.

This was one of those.








If you end up here on the 12th, you bailed out too far right off the tee.









The scoring zone on the 600+ yard par 5 13th.










The shortest hole on the black - 161 yard 14th.









One of the toughest holes in Championship golf is the 487 yard par 4 -15th.










Greenside at 15. Notice the front tier that isn't a false front, but it does

drop-off significantly.










16 tee.









Looking back towards tee.









Rickie Fowler and his group on the 16th during a practice round.










Another magnificent sandscape at Bethpage Black. This one at the

16th might be our favorite.









Looking across the massive green at the 211 yard par 3 17th.









PGA Championship corporate tents line the green.










Close up of the hole location during Wednesday's practice round.









18th tee










Greenside at the last.









In his pre-tournament press conference, Brooks Koepka let the world

know he would be there on Sunday when it mattered. And there he was,

going wire to wire and back to back champion of the PGA Championship.






Finally, if taking on the Black Course is on your bucket list, this overnight

parking lot is your golden ticket. Simply arrive sometime the day before,

park in the lot and be prepared to spend the night. Follow the instructions

here on the sign, (out of state residents can play the Black for $130 weekdays

and $150 weekends) - oh, and be prepared for the fight of your life.


Tee times at Bethpage State Park:

























A Day with Links Friends at Winter Park 9 PDF Print E-mail



By Jason Bruno


On Tuesday Jan.22nd we fulfilled our media Demo Day obligations at

Orange County National and proceeded to make the trek east across

Orlando to the quaint urban setting that is Winter Park, Florida. Matt

Ginella sent over an invite just days before, so Master Club Builder

Dirck Storm and I ramped up our enthusiasm on day 3 of our PGA Show

week that began on the Dye Course at PGA Village just two days earlier.

Returning to "WP9" for me personally was long overdue (we experienced

the Riley Johns/Keith Rhebb creation for the first time two years ago shortly

after the redesign by the boys from Integrative Golf Design was completed).






Tardy as usual, we pulled into the packed parking lot just as groups were

walking out to their assigned hole locations for the 3pm shotgun start of

alternate shot team play. The event, a gathering of golf industry folks put

together by Akbar Chisti of Seamus Golf (and Ginella) included colleagues

and friends from virtually everywhere. Linksoul's John Ashworth (who is the

force behind Goat Hill Park in Southern California) was on hand providing

some outstanding swag along with Seamus.


Upon checking in, we were assigned to hole 9 where nearly every hole had

an A & B group based on field size. With two groups of 8 player teams each

(we had 6), it made for quite the scene. Our group consisted of four lads from

Ireland, Stormy and yours truly. The elder of the group was Liam Murphy

from County Louth, John Lawler from The Island Golf Club in Dublin, Jeff Fallon

from Royal Dublin, and Mark Byrne from Carr Golf. Paul Schmidt also of Carr,

was the lone Central Florida local taking the stroll sans his sticks, but offered

up some witty commentary and provided proper on course local knowledge. It

was a chamber of commerce 65 degree late afternoon playing the fast n firm

contours of Johns and Rhebb. After Stormy and I collaborated on a birdie on

our first hole (the short par 4 ninth), we had earned instant turf cred from the

boys of the Emerald Isle. At the turn we caught up with host Matt Ginella and

Golfer/Musician Jay Horowitz, a fellow "Apple" native who I learned had won

the NYC Am years ago on a course that my Dad and I went toboggan sledding

on (the 10th at La Tourette GC) 46 years ago. It's a small world for sure . . .





A great idea, this imprint sign in the sand "Thanks for Raking" sends a subtle

message to be considerate to your fellow golfers. A team up & down for birdie

was the result here on the par 5 fourth.






Dirck Storm, John Lawson, Mark Byrne, JB, Liam Murphy and Jeff Fallon





Our golf performance as a team was mediocre, but the camaraderie was off

the charts. The score was far less important than it usually seems to be and

it felt right. There were some brilliant shots like Jeff's carved low cut around

a large stand of trees on the par 5 third. It was a classic links strike, low punch

with just the right amount of fade spin that trundled up onto the green perfectly,

even he knew it was special. We finished in the gloaming and enjoyed the

casual fare and music by Jay Horowitz with the nearly 100 links friends on hand.

It was great to see Katie Ginella and little Bandon out there, and catch up with

many I hadn't seen in awhile like Brad Klein and Mike Bailey. There are many

invites during PGA Show week, choosing which ones to attend can be tough, but

this gathering will be an annual staple - a must attend.






We said thank you to the hosts and farewell to the gents from Ireland,

promising to make the journey across the pond to visit them on their home

turf. Before we headed out, I looked over at my partner in crime, Stormy

had this big smile on his face, he had soaked in the vibe. It was PURE fun,

like being a kid with your buddies all over again, and what's better than that?





If you're in Central Florida, Matt Ginella often hosts a Friday 3pm Skins Game.



To check out the 9 holes of splendor that is Winter Park 9:















Jupiter Hills Club Set to Host USGA Four-Ball Championship PDF Print E-mail



By Jason Bruno

Tequesta, Florida - On Monday, the United States Golf Association hosted

the media at the site of the 2018 U.S Amateur Four-Ball Championship -

Jupiter Hills Club. The two man team competition takes place May 19th-

23rd on George Fazio's Hills Course and Tom Fazio's Village Course, Jupiter

Hills is practically unknown to the golfing public when compared to the three

preceding host venues (Olympic, Winged Foot and Pinehurst) that have all

hosted multiple U.S Opens over the last century.





In the late 60's, Jupiter Hills was founded and created by George Fazio

along with William Clay Ford, Bob Hope and William Elliott. The Hills Course

opened in 1970 (renovated by Tom Fazio in 2006), Tom Fazio's Village layout

opened for play in 1982 (Fazio completed a renovation in 1999). In 1987,

Billy Mayfair captured the U.S Amateur at Jupiter Hills.







On Feb.11th, 2013 the creation of U.S Amateur Four-Ball and the U.S

Women's Four-Ball was announced, thus eliminating the U.S Amateur

Public Links Championship and Women's Am Pub-Links in favor of a new

team format competition. In doing so, the dream of many public golfers

of winning that national championship and playing in the Masters had

gone away. I've stated on the record that I'd much preferred they left

the Amateur Public links events as they were (and found another way to

add this team event), but by bringing this team format to many of the

best venues in the country, the USGA has done a nice job of getting the

new event off to a roaring start. In fact, the USGA accepted 2.234

entries into the inaugural U.S Am Four-Ball championship in 2015. Not

bad for a start-up (2,279 entries this year).






Jupiter Hills signature hole, the par 3 ninth




The Hills Course will play 3,641 yards front/3,612 yards back = 7,253

(par 70), while the Village (which will serve as a stroke-play co-host for

the first two rounds) will play 3,264 yards front/3,364 yards back =

6,630 yards (par 70). The Hills routing normally plays 6,998 yards from

the tips, but an additional 255 yards will be available to the competition

staff to make a few holes even more stout than usual (the ninth pictured

above has a range 108 yards (red tees) to 192 yards (gold tees), but

a secluded tee on the north east side of the property creates a 211 yard

"white knuckler" that will likely turn up the tension in any match. Although

it's team competition and players will have a partner to lean on, the Hills

course will challenge all comers with a brawny 76.6 rating/150 slope for

the Championship.






It had been 12 long years since our last visit to Jupiter Hills, and if anything

was clear after a glorious day on the Hills course (with club President Jeff

Harris, SFPGA Professional Geoff Lofstead and longtime veteran golf scribe

Jeff Babineau), it was the worthiness of George Fazio's grand design that

sits along the same dunes/sand ridge that Donald Ross' famed Seminole

Golf Club shares just a few miles south in Juno Beach.





The view of the driving range and practice green from the clubhouse terrace.

The Par 5-first hole is on the right.





The view of 491 yard first, converted into a par 4 for the championship

(it plays as a 515 yard par 5 for the members  - white tees)



The Four-Ball field of 128 teams (256 players) will play one round of stroke

play on May 19th & May 20th, the low 32 teams will advance to match play.

Five rounds of match play will determine a champion on Wed. May 23rd.

Admission is free to the public and tickets are not required. The USGA and

the Jupiter Hills Club encourage fans to attend.


Future Four-Ball sites include: 2019 Bandon Dunes, 2020 Philadelphia Cricket

Club, and Chambers Bay in 2021.


For more info on the U.S Amateur Four-Ball Championship:















The Grand Opening Experience of Streamsong Black PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno

The magnificent par 3 - fifth hole at Streamsong Black




It was a gorgeous sunny Monday afternoon at Streamsong Resort

for the Grand Opening of their latest (sure to be Top 100) layout - Gil

Hanse's Black Course. September 25th, 2017 was a day that many in

the golf design, resort and media industry had circled on their calendars.

It's always an honor to get the invite to events such as this and when

Streamsong and Kemper Sports team up to host an celebration of this

magnitude, you know it'll be a day to remember.



In the coming days we'll give a detailed hole by hole description of

Hanse's new creation in it's entirety, but in this post it's all about

giving you the experience of being on hand for the Grand Opening.



This was the official itinerary for the day. I was fortunate to be in group

1b with Streamsong Director of Golf Scott Wilson, Golfweek's resident

course architecture expert Bradley Klein and PGA Magazine's Ryan

Adams. Group 1a was Course Designer Gil Hanse, Mosaic CFO and

Streamsong visionary Rich Mack, Kemper Sports President Josh Lesnik,

and Golf Channel's Matt Ginella.








For me personally, it was 8 months of anticipation since I bumped into

Mosaic's Vice President of Land Development and Management - Tom

Sunnarborg at January's PGA Show in Orlando. When we discussed the

opening of Streamsong Black back then, Tom just flashed that big smile

of his and said, "The grand opening will be in late September, and You

won't be disappointed". Five and a half years ago it was Sunnarborg

that gave me a site tour of the Red & Blue courses during the grow in

period, so he was pretty confident that I'd appreciate what Gil Hanse

& Jim Wagner had created with the resort's third course. The resort

can now stake claim to being the only destination on earth with Doak,

Coore/Crenshaw, and Gil Hanse designs in one location.









Gil Hanse spoke genuinely about how this project meant so much to him

and his design partner Jim Wagner. He described the joy of getting the

opportunity to work with an untouched parcel of land of the scale and sand

component that's an architects dream. Hanse became emotional as he

expressed how appreciative he was to Rich Mack and Mosaic (the parent

company of Streamsong) for including Jim's name on the clubhouse plaque

(pictured above).

He went on to thank everyone involved with the project and gave special

thanks to Streamsong Director of Agronomy Rusty Mercer and his staff.

Gotta love when the guys who do much of the heavy lifting day to day

get a round of applause.







Tom Sunnarborg, Gil Hanse and Rich Mack at the Grand Opening ceremony.








Rich Mack, Mosaic's visionary behind what we now know as Streamsong Resort,

and Black Course designer Gil Hanse cut the ribbon at the Grand Opening











The new clubhouse and Bone Valley Tavern restaurant at Streamsong Black

is your first impression driving up to the entry of the resort's latest attraction.

Award winning architect Alberto Alfonso, who created the unique design for

Streamsong's original resort lodge and clubhouse, crafted another gem just

a mile down the road from the mothership. Sleek, elegant and simple in both

it's style and function, the clubhouse at the Black is unlike any I've seen at a

golf facility. As you play the course, it's streamlined and low profile look so

brilliant on the horizon. Afterwards enjoy watching the sunset or gazing at

the stars with a drink beside the fire pit.







The par 4 second hole.



As group of nearly 100 or so golf media and other dignitaries within the

industry, we teed of at 1:30 pm after a warm welcome of food, drinks

and the opening ceremony. As I stated earlier, being in group 1(b) was a

fortunate draw that also may have allowed me to have the best caddie in

the house - Brian Wilson. B.W was spot on with reads and club selections

all round long, but more importantly was pleasant and invested in my

experience. We had absolute chamber of commerce conditions for an

event in central Florida in late September - mid 80's and sunny with a

enough of a breeze to make the walk enjoyable and club selection a bit

of a challenge at times.


Is there anything better than walking a brand new (sure to be top 100)

golf course with really great people and having your sticks looped by an

upbeat and skilled caddie? The course was everything Hanse said it was,

big, bold and fun (I'll get into more specifics and details in the upcoming

course review). The group did all they could to help me triumph in my

beverage wager with Matt Ginella who said "Game On" walking off the

eleventh tee at +1 when he heard I was even par. But nobody could keep

me from faltering coming in, including three putts at the 13th and 17th.

Then after the best knock of the day on the 530 yard finale, all we had left

was 208 (and the only thought was about trying to make 3 and getting back

to level par) but the 4 iron approach got a little too much of the big ball before

the dimpled one, and plunged into the ravine that fronts the most dramatic

finisher at the resort. The only double of the day was the result. As I caught

up with Matty G in the Bone Valley Tavern afterwards, he confessed that he

also misplayed the 18th and finished at the same score (+4) for the round. A

rematch will have to be in order for sure (perhaps a home and home with

Winter Park 9/ Palm Beach Par3) . . .





Some images from the new Black Course:


Greenside at the sixth









Fairway view on the Thirteenth









Short par 3 fifteenth









Just outside the clubhouse is Gil Hanse's "Gauntlet" putting course.








Ryan Adams (from PGA Magazine) and I came right off the 18th green

after our round and took on "The Gauntlet". This is an ideal spot like the

"Punchbowl" at Bandon Dunes for drinks and casual competition before

or after dinner with friends.






Some of the really cool grand opening keepsakes from the day.






As far as new course openings go, this

was about as grand an event as you

could imagine. Head Golf Professional

Scott Wilson was the perfect host, as

were all of the fine folks at Streamsong

and Kemper Sports.


As far as the Black Course is concerned,

if you like hitting lots of fairways and

enjoy having a variety of different types

of approach shots into large greens, then

the Black will thrill you. The challenge

really begins once you reach the greens

on Gil's big and bold new design. These

are truly some of the most fascinating

putting surfaces you'll ever encounter -

an instant must play. It checked all the

boxes of fun and challenging golf for me.


Oh and wait until you see the uber

Punchbowl ninth green! It's Raynor on

steroids . . .


There's no doubt in my mind that the

Black is destined to be an instant Top

100 ranked course.


I loved this gun metal gray Streamsong

logo (pictured right) that's affixed to the

clubhouse wall that faces The Gauntlet

putting course. They didn't miss a detail





As we enjoyed the delicious gourmet tavern selections after the round in the

clubhouse at Bone Valley, Scott Wilson probably could sense that I was a tad

disappointed to finish with that train wreck at the last, but being the class act

he is, reminded me that we would've had a hell of a best ball score.


After thank-yous and goodbyes were said, I headed for the valet station just

as the sun was vanishing on the horizon. As I looked back at everyone inside

the clubhouse having a great time celebrating this fabulous new place, I thought

about the tens of thousands that will do the same in years and decades to come.

I couldn't help but think about Rich Mack's vision to turn this old phosphate mining

property in the middle of nowhere into the destination it has become today.

Just remarkable.


With a long winding road ahead, there was nothing left but to hit the road, and

channel an American music icon that we had just lost . . .


I rolled on as the sky drew dark

I put the pedal down to make some time

There's something good waitin' down this road

I'm pickin' up whatever's mine

Yeah, runnin down a dream . . .

R.I.P Tom Petty




For more information on Streamsong Black:
















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