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Fast greens slow Newport Beach CC

Jones Cup XII

Struggles with the putter, and other course-induced hardships, frustrate NBCC, which finishes third at Big Canyon.

June 29, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Maybe it was the preponderance of grassy knolls, but the conspiracy theories were in the wind almost as prevalently as golf shots at the 12th annual Jones Cup community golf tournament Tuesday at Big Canyon Country Club.

Word had it — well, whispered words from members of the gallery most often — that the speed of the putting greens at the scenic layout was roughly comparable to rolling balls along the opulent clubhouse's marble bathroom countertops.

Coincidence that the Big Canyon greens were at their handball-court hardest for the quadrennial arrival of rivals from Newport Beach, Mesa Verde and Santa Ana country clubs for the Jones Cup?

The Newport Beach contingent wouldn't go that far. But there was plenty of commentary about the greens, which, combining speed and uncommon undulation — at least in these parts — helped produce dozens of near-misses on putts that sometimes rolled and rolled and rolled beyond the hole, making tap-in recoveries difficult.

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In 90 opportunities (five golfers on 18 holes), Newport Beach produced eight birdies. One of those was a 20-foot chip by head professional and team captain Paul Hahn.

"They were running about 13 here today," Hahn said after he and his four teammates finished one-over-par in the best-two-ball format to place third. The 13 is a measurement produced by a Stimpmeter, a device used to judge the speed of greens. "I think the Master's greens [at Augusta National Golf Club] run between 13 and 15."

Rich Ortega, a club professional who was among five Newport Beach players to record birdies Tuesday, estimated the Big Canyon greens at 12 or 12.5 on the Stimpmeter.

"Probably in everyday country club golf, we're used to about a 10 or 10.5 on the Stimpmeter," said Ortega, who had one birdie, as did senior club champion Bob Kraft, women's club champion Isako Takada and men's champion Jeff Bloom. "The extra 2.5 feet on a given putt translates into five and 10 feet. We all speed up our greens heading into our member-guest tournament and [Big Canyon] just had theirs last week. These are PGA-quality greens, with that type of speed."

The greens affected more than putting, said Hahn, who anchored the NBCC quintet with four birdies in his 12th Jones Cup appearance.

This was evident on hole No. 18, which marked the end of the front nine in a tournament that began on No. 10.

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