Golf Course Management

APR 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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66 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.18 with 1-over-par scores of 73, while Westacott fired a 2-over-par 74 and was four shots back as the tournament shifted to TPC San An - tonio. Final-round forecast While the first round of the GCSAA National Championship was played under sunny skies with temperatures near 80, the weather for the final round took a 180-degree turn, with competitors dealing with overcast skies and temperatures that struggled to get out of the upper 40s. But those blustery conditions did little to slow down a hot start for Cowan. Relying on a little local knowledge from his days as an assistant at TPC San Antonio, he birdied two of the first four holes he played — the par-4 first and the par-3 third — to open up a lead of four shots over Strickland and Noto, and six shots over Stieler. "Having worked there during construc - tion up until both courses were opened gave me a lot of confidence," Cowan says. "The greens are real tricky to read, a lot of move - ment in them, so I kind of knew the subtle- ties and generally how putts can break out there. If you haven't seen them before, that can really be challenging." Despite that inside information, Cowan knew the road to his second GCSAA title wouldn't be that easy, and the golf gods soon proved him right. He double-bogeyed the par-4 sixth hole, bogeyed the par-4 ninth, and with Strickland playing the last five holes on the front nine in 1 under par, those two were tied for the lead as the tournament turned toward its final nine holes. If ever there was a time for Cowan to tap into those lessons learned during the previous two GCSAA National Championships, this was it. Almost immediately, he proved how good a student he was, settling himself down, playing holes 10 through 15 at even par and re-establishing a one-shot lead with just three holes to play. That's when all heck broke loose. Fantastic finish The 16th hole on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio is a relatively short par- 3, just over 150 yards from the middle set of tees. But that doesn't begin to illustrate the challenges players face there, with water to the left and an elevated green that has a bun - ker plopped right in the center of the green. Yep, a donut-shaped green. Taking that into consideration, it's no sur - prise that's the hole that began to turn the GCSAA tournament on its head. With that one-shot lead, Cowan left his tee shot just short of the putting surface. His putt from the collar went long, and when his par putt slid past the hole, Cowan found himself back at even par. Meanwhile, Strickland's tee shot had drifted right and failed to reach the green, rolling down an embankment into a collec - tion area on the front of the green. When he stepped up to hit his second shot, he shock - ingly flubbed the chip, with the ball hitting halfway up the embankment and rolling back to his feet. Strickland settled himself, hit his next shot onto the green, and then two-putted for what appeared to be a double bogey. "Appeared" being the operative word be - cause Strickland informed his playing part- ners that as he addressed the ball to hit his third shot, he had accidentally struck the ball, meaning that double-bogey 5 was ac - tually a triple-bogey 6. Suddenly, Cowan led the tournament by three shots with two holes to play. "I didn't know what had happened," Cowan admits. "I knew Seth was very frus - trated at something, but nobody was quite "I just feel like this one legitimizes what I accomplished in 2015 and shows that I'm going to be a contender every time I tee it up in this tournament." — Matt Cowan

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