Golf: Mesa Verde tries to defend

June 11, 2010

Judy Garland wasn't talking sports when she uttered the phrase, "There's no place like home ..." in "The Wizard of Oz", but the words elicit a subjective feeling in the arenas of competition in the 21st century.

The consensus, whether accurate or not, is that it's better to play at home than on the road.

Transition this opinion to this year's Jones Cup at Mesa Verde Country Club. Team Mesa Verde will play its home course in quest of the club's fourth Jones Cup title and second consecutive.

Each week leading up to the Jones Cup (1 p.m. on June 29) will focus on one of the four teams (Big Canyon, Newport Beach and Santa Ana country clubs). Subsequent previews will run June 17, 24 and 29.

In golf, there's the thought that playing one's home course carries a decided advantage since the player — or players — putt the greens and hit approach shots here regularly. Play enough and they gain a feel for how the greens break, the fairways curve and what club will provide enough loft to clear an overhanging branch.


But with advantages come other points to consider.

Tom Sargent, Mesa Verde's head pro, keeps it simple.

"We certainly have the advantage in course knowledge," Sargent said. "As long as we keep expectations in check, we should play well.

[Winning the Jones Cup] will come down to who plays well."

As is the case in any sport, one must perform on the field, or course in this case.

Joining Sargent will be club champions Madelaine Campbell (women), Ryan Gale (men) and Steve Rhorer (senior), and assistant pro Mike Fergin in the two-person, best-ball format (based on gross score; no handicap is applied).

Gale won his third men's club championship by seven strokes in May (70-74-82 -- 226). He entered the final round ahead by seven shots.

Campbell referenced the gallery and perspective when looking at the Jones Cup.

"There's always a home-course advantage, but there's a lot of pressure with all the people following you ... people whom you know at your course," Campbell said.

The spectators might not have a vocal influence as in a gym or football field, but the thought of eyes watching the swing can cause churns in the stomach.

But I read or heard a quote from Greg Norman who said nerves are OK.

"If you aren't nervous, you're not playing for anything," Norman, a two-time British Open champion, said.

The Jones Cup offers the chance to bring players, and spectators, together.

"It's more of a friendly rivalry," Campbell said of the Jones Cup.

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