Greg Hansen: Complaints noted, but golf should stay

2013-02-23T00:00:00Z Greg Hansen: Complaints noted, but golf should stayGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship will move to another city or another country or maybe to Pluto because it snowed here Wednesday.

Accenture and its clients will abandon Dove Mountain because the nearest steak house is a $50 cab fare away or because they don't like country music or maybe because they don't like ice skating.

The future of pro golf in Tucson is doomed to be downsized to the Shark Shootout or to the Web.com Tour or maybe to The Big Break VIII.

The sins of this seven-year-old arrangement multiply each February. The players don't like the greens, the location or the cacti.

"I'd like to see it move around," former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell said Friday, a few moments after his week's earnings here increased to $144,000. "I'd like to check out some of the really great golf courses in the U.S."

This is a recording.

The Golf Club at Dove Mountain is too difficult for fans to navigate and you can't get there from here.

And besides, Tiger Woods lost.

You know what I say? Mush. Quit crying.

No one ever said this was going to be Pebble Beach or TPC Sawgrass. It's a novelty tournament in a novelty setting and it is singular on the PGA Tour. If someone in authority can find a willing city in a warm-weather climate capable of embracing this front-loaded event the way Tucson has - someone with a hole in the calendar the third week of February; someone with a local group with six decades of golf tournament expertise such as the Conquistadores - bring it on.

I don't believe those cries that Wednesday's snowstorm was a death blow to golf here. And I don't buy the suggestions that Columbia, S.C., or Naples, Fla., or any place in Scottsdale - especially not Scottsdale - have ordered "Match Play 2015" logos on their good stationery.

I believe, if nothing else, this tournament will stay here by default.

Tonight at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, the Accenture people and their guests, numbering at more than 200, will stage a gala dinner/dance to cap their seventh year. The one moving part that counts in this relationship between the PGA Tour, the Tucson Conquistadores and Accenture, is the check that Accenture writes every year.

How much? North of $10 million. If Accenture and its clients have a good time at tonight's party, that'll count more than what the golfers and the fans say.

Here's some irony: The PGA Tour on Friday announced that it has signed a 10-year extension with the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami. That's Donald Trump's course, and he is spending an estimated $200 million to fix up the place. It is incorporating a fashion show and a music event into the mix.

Accenture's contract with Tucson and the PGA Tour expires next year.

Alas, there's no Donald Trump to save golf at Dove Mountain. There will be no fashion show. (Anyone wanna go to the Rodeo parade?) It all swings on Accenture and its clients.

"I do wish we had a long-term contract, yes, and I think we are all working toward something like that," Brandt Hazen, president of the Conquistadores, said Friday. "I don't know when we can get that done, but I think it's 50-50 we can maybe have some sort of announcement, a positive announcement, before next year's tournament.

"I really think there's a chance we'll have a long-term commitment, maybe not in the 10-year range, but I think five years would be a great goal from the perspective of all three parties. Accenture will wait until its time is right to negotiate and make an announcement."

On Friday, Ian Poulter, the 2010 Match Play champion who has been here all seven years, denied that he feels isolated at Dove Mountain, which is the most oft-cited player criticism.

"Isolated? Isolated in a hotel room?" Poulter asked. "We're not in the hotel room long enough to feel isolated. We're at the golf course pretty much all day every day."

He listed his day's activities: golf, visit the gym, have a massage, eat dinner, go to bed, rinse, repeat.

"I don't need to go out sightseeing all the lovely surroundings of Arizona," he said. "I'm here to work, get 10 hours sleep, come out and play good golf."

Naturally, the Europeans and other foreign golfers would vote to change the venue, or at least try another location closer to home. But the four-week Florida swing begins next week, as the PGA Tour follows the sun from Hawaii to California to Arizona to Florida.

Tucson makes sense geographically, even though it isn't a golf destination to match Torrey Pines or Muirfield Village.

"I think the geography of this event is very difficult," McDowell said Friday. "You start moving it around the world at this time of the year, it's difficult. I think America works for this event at this time of the year."

America works, and Tucson is working on it. If you've got $10 million and a better idea, the PGA Tour would like to hear from you.

Contact reporter Greg Hansen at ghansen@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @GHansen711

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Free Golf Newsletter

Our golf report goes out each Monday, to keep you informed about all the weekend's tournaments plus other golf coverage from the Star.

Leaders

All times in Eastern Standard Time








Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Most Popular

Deals, offers & events

View more...