Monday Notebook: Port Royal in its best shape ever for PGA Grand Slam
By Josh Ball, PGA.com Contributor
SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda –This year marks the fifth time that the PGA Grand Slam of Golf has been held at Port Royal Golf Course and, according to David Charles, the PGA's Senior Director, PGA Championships, the course is in "the best shape it has ever been."
That's something of an achievement considering the course was struggling in March, when the greens were suffering with the dollar spot fungus and a hard winter had damaged the fairways.
"The course is in fantastic shape, it's the best we've ever seen it," said Charles. "It was in pretty bad shape in March, but they've done a great job to turn it around. There's a lot of interest been shown in the event, and we're really pleased with the whole set-up."
According to Greg Maybury, Port Royal's general manager, the credit for the turnaround lies at the feet of Dennis Pilgrim, the new director of agronomy, and with outside consultant, Jim Hengel.
"Dennis should be front and center when any praise is being handed out," said Maybury. "Jim's advice proved invaluable, too."
BREED LINES ‘EM UP: The PGA Grand Slam week always starts with PGA Professional Michael Breed getting the year's participants to do a segment for The Golf Fix on the Golf Channel.
Port Royal's signature hole, the 235-yard 16th, has long been the setting for these pieces, with its tee shot over water, and ocean backdrop, providing the perfect setting for a little help from the major winners.
Justin Rose, this year's U.S. Open champion who's ranked fifth in the world, talked through some putting drills.
Jason Dufner, ranked 10th, stood on the tee at 16, waggled his club a couple of times, and sent the ball sailing to within 6 inches of the cup. Which would have been more impressive if it wasn't the ladies tee, which is a good 100 yards farther forward.
Padraig Harrington, meanwhile, might be the defending PGA Grand Slam champion, but he's 99th in the world after a tough year, which meant he had to carry his own balls to the 16th for his little chat about chipping, with Breed.
Spare a thought for Adam Scott, however. He might be second in the world, but he was relegated to the 17th tee, where he hammered balls down the fairway into the wind.
LOTS OF PERKS: Visiting Bermuda is just one of the perks that comes from being a major winner. Justin Rose's U.S. Open triumph got him tickets to the Royal Box at Wimbledon.
There he saw Andy Murray become the first British man to win a Wimbledon title since Fred Perry, ending a 76-year wait for a home winner.
But being the friend of a major champion can have its benefits as well.
"I had a chance to do a boys trip that I do every year, it's called the J.R. Challenge," said Rose. "It's a group of 10 of my oldest friends and we all get together once a year and play a bit of golf, more so just catch up with one another.
"They all live in England for the most part. This year being U.S. Open champion, I felt like I could call in a couple more favors that I would typically and we played some great tracks," he explained. "We played Pine Valley, we went back to Merion. So to have the opportunity to bring 10 of my best friends to Merion and play a round of golf was very special."
SEE YOU EVERY YEAR: Adam Scott listed the chance to play in the Masters every year as his biggest opportunity to come from his major win.
But it isn't all positive for the Australian. Scott jokingly explained that it meant he'd have to have dinner with Zach Johnson at least once a year for the rest of his life.
"I look forward to playing there [Augusta National] for many, many years and going to that Champions Dinner for a long, long time," said Scott. "There's so many perks just to do with that event that keep popping up in your mind like those kind of things.
"And then I'll play somewhere with Zach Johnson and he points out we'll be eating dinner together until they put us in the ground."
The diminutive Golf Channel presenter won the women's longest drive competition during the PGA Grand Slam of Golf Pro-Am on Monday, after crushing the ball up the ninth fairway.
GRAND SLAM VIDEO: Check out all our features and interviews from Port Royal
SHOT OF THE DAY: Bill Kratzert, who is in Bermuda working for TNT, holed out for eagle from 132 yards on the uphill par-4 18th.
"I hit a 7-iron because it was playing 160 with the wind," said Kratzert. "It was nice that there were two [balls] already up there because it meant I could go for it."
Kratzert was playing in a Pro-Am group alongside PGA President Ted Bishop, Marty Glavin of Oak Hill Golf Club, David Kohler of Whistling Straits and Geoff Piggott, the executive vice chair of the Grand Slam organizing committee.
PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner was also in attendance, but couldn't match Kratzert's feat, finishing with a par after his birdie putt finished on the lip of the cup but refused to drop.
Bishop has a good record in the Pro-Am. He won when he was vice president and marked his first year as president with another win.
Bishop's team won the gross prize, while Justin Rose won the net prize along with the team of Chris Howe, John Lang, Jeanne Atherden, Lynda New and Simon Brooks.