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Golf: Big Canyon gets brunt of bad joke

October 05, 2000

Richard Dunn

The beauty of Big Canyon Country Club has been tarnished at a time

when members and club officials are most sensitive about appearances.

When the midnight vandals snuck onto the golf course prior to this

week's U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Championship, they left a stench rarely

seen in these parts.

The private Newport Beach club, the most exclusive in Orange County,

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fell victim to society's dark side Sunday night as evil culprits damaged

three putting greens.

The punks reportedly poured a solvent on the 11th, 12th and 17th

greens, which has since turned into purple blotches. They also used a

sharp object to carve various pictures and symbols on the putting

surfaces, including a swastika.

"It is such a shame," said locally famous heroine Marianne Towersey of

Santa Ana Country Club, the course-record holder at Big Canyon with a 69

last April.

"(The damaged greens) actually aren't effecting play. They're just

ugly reminders of idiotic people."

Towersey doesn't think it was related to this week's event, but the

timing of the destruction might suggest otherwise.

Big Canyon and USGA officials scrambled to patch up the damage before

the 132 women teed off Tuesday morning for stroke play, but David

Voorhees, Big Canyon general manager, said after the U.S. Mid-Am "some

major repairs" will be necessary.

"It was very upsetting. When you see the damage, it makes you sick,"

added Voorhees, whose club stepped away from tradition in hosting the

championship.

Big Canyon, which is ultra-protective of its members, has made

exclusivity and privacy a trademark since opening its doors in 1972.

There's much pride at Big Canyon, where anonymity is not only preferred,

but redefined.

Thus, playing host to one of the USGA's 13 championships in 2000 was a

huge deal. It was sort of raising the curtain for the public to see.

Though Big Canyon has hosted tournaments before, including the 1996

Pacific-10 Conference championships (won by Stanford's Tiger Woods), the

club typically doesn't invite outsiders.

The three damaged greens, however, are all along MacArthur Boulevard,

where the predators apparently hopped over the fence and made their way

onto the golf course, then scratched tick-tack-toe designs and other

"childish" symbols, according to Voorhees, before really displaying their

intelligence with a swastika on the 17th green.

There aren't a lot of barbed wire fences in Newport Beach, but maybe

things are changing.

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