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Q&A   

You finished runner-up in a major 19 times. Is there one shot that you’d like to have back? I’d like to have Watson’s shot back in 1982. I’d like to have Lee Trevino’s shot back at Muirfield when he chipped in. I go back and look at what I did early in my career, and sure I made some mistakes, but that’s how you learn. When I was 20 I lost the

U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. Arnold won it. Arnold played a great round. But I shot 39 the last nine holes to lose that tournament. And I still had a good chance coming down the stretch. But had I won that golf tournament, I wouldn’t have learned anything. I learned a lot because I made the dumb mistake of not realizing that other people make mistakes too. Others are just as nervous as you are. Dumb things are some- times the best things you do, because you learn from them. One of them happened here at Pebble Beach. I was playing in like 1963, and I came to the last hole needing a birdie to win and a par to tie Phil Rodgers, who was already in the clubhouse. I hit it 20 feet by the hole on my third shot on No. 18. And I looked at that putt and said, “Oh I need to make that putt.” And I ran it by the hole about 3 feet and missed the putt coming back. I looked at that situation

and said, “That was pretty stupid.” It’s OK not to make the putt, but it’s not OK to three-putt it and put yourself out of the tournament. I made my mind up never again to three-putt the 18th green. I never have, except for at Pebble Beach in 2000—but that’s because I had tears in my eyes. But it made a difference. I never did anything like that. You learn from those things and that’s how you learn to play golf.

62 / NCGA.ORG / SPRING 2014

because I know someone will

take that picture. And I’d like to have that picture.”

What are you thinking about when you design a course? Are you thinking about the longer hitter or more of the family golfer? I don’t design from the back tees anymore be- cause only 1.8% of play is from there. That’s what the national average is. And so we design more for the members’ tees now, with a back tee thrown in for the gorillas. So design to me is making

a golf course fun and challeng- ing and figuring out how to best utilize the property. My definition of a great golf course is one that is created for who- ever is going to play it; be it a hotel golf course, private golf

course, public golf course. Is membership big, small, young- er, older? You try to design for that. But all memberships get older, they never get younger. So you really have to figure out how to best utilize the property to satisfy the most people. I don’t really worry too much about the big hitter anymore. What I try to do is even out the playing field by taking the driver out of the hands of the longer hitter on three or four holes. If I can take the driver out of their hands, then it gives the average good player the opportunity to use their strong suit, which is probably accuracy. If I can do that I

can get a balance on my golf course. If you can hit it long and straight, I think you de- serve an advantage. Some golf courses I cannot find enough ways to make it challenging enough. If so, I’ll focus on the greens. Some of my greens are atrocious. I’ve buried a lot of elephants, and I’ve gotten criticism for that. But I only do it when I think it’s necessary to try and give the course some defense against the golfer. But I don’t do it as much as

I used to. I started to find that the older I get, I’m finding how hard this game really is.

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Who are you favorite designers? I admire the guys who work with me the most. I think those guys have really worked hard to do what they do. I grew up on a Donald Ross golf course. I love MacKenzie’s work. But that’s old stuff. I started out working with Pete Dye. I really like Pete. Pete is a little quirky with some of the stuff he does, but he is a great student of the game, knows what he is doing, and he does an excellent job. I think a lot guys do dif-

ferent things very well. I think Ben Crenshaw does some things very, very well and the same with Tom Fazio. There are a lot of guys that do things very, very well. But of the guys that have

come out of our organization, I like Jay Morrish, who came out and worked with Weiskopf to create some nice things. Ken Baker worked with me at the Bear’s Club, and then he began working at some other great courses.

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What is your dream four- some? I’d make it a fivesome. I’ve got my four boys. But I suppose, I never saw Bobby Jones play a shot. I loved play- ing with Ben Hogan; he was always great fun to play with. Maybe I go back to Walter Hagen, I never played with him. That way I don’t embar- rass myself with any of my friends today.

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