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Pros look forward to fun – and challenging -- Seminole Golf Club

5 Min Read


Pros look forward to fun – and challenging -- Seminole Golf Club

    Seminole Golf Club

    Rory McIlroy calls Seminole Golf Club the greatest course that famed designer Donald Ross ever created – and Ross designed a lot, nearly 430 courses.

    Dustin Johnson says he feels like he can tear it up every time he plays -- only to be constantly put in his place.

    RELATED:Fans at home will be able to contribute to TaylorMade Driving Relief’s COVID-19 relief efforts thanks to PGA TOUR Charities’ online and Text-To-Give donation platforms powered by GoFundMe Charity.Click here to donate.

    History and intrigue drips from the place. This is where Ben Hogan would unwind and also tune up for the Masters every year in his prime.

    “Seminole” is one of those words in the wider golf community that pricks up every ear. Those who have been and played have great stories and those who haven’t want to go.

    While other courses such as Augusta National and Cypress Point have a similar aura, people have at least been able to see those on television in the past. Meanwhile, Florida’s Seminole Golf Club has been hidden away from view and the legend grows with each tidbit of a story you hear.

    So while there is no doubt that anticipation for any live sport is about as high as possible thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that Seminole is going on display in Sunday’s TaylorMade Driving Relief charity skins match has taken it to even greater heights.

    McIlroy and Johnson are preparing to take on Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in support of COVID-19 relief efforts with all four combatants knowing the course itself brings as much intrigue as the competition.

    Fowler likens Seminole to another Ross gem – Pinehurst No. 2 – and knows that while the other pairing might have a power advantage, this course is more about precision on approach and a sharp short game.

    Each hole finds a way to work into a different wind, which given the close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, can be a daunting prospect

    “I love Seminole. It's just a fun golf course to play,” Fowler beams. “You're going to see us having some fun off the tee and then from there is where things will get separated on approach shots and putting.

    “It's very much a second-shot or approach-shot golf course. I'd say it's fairly forgiving off the tee but how the greens are kind of designed, they're pretty good-sized. But as far as where you can land the ball and keep the ball on the green … it’s kind of similar to a Pinehurst No. 2 in a way.

    “A lot of balls will roll and feed off, whether it's back down through the fairway into bunkers, and that's where it can get tough, especially if the wind is up.”

    Fowler’s partner, PGA TOUR young gun Wolff, has played the course just a handful times. But he saw enough to know he better bring his best short game.

    “The greens are extremely difficult. They're very sloped, a lot of subtle breaks, and I've even heard that people putt the ball often off the green and into bunkers,” Wolff says. “I don't think you're going to see that from us, but it's definitely something that I think putting is a huge advantage there.”

    In fact, McIlroy admits to putting off the green in a recent practice round.

    “I putted off the fifth green from about 30 feet,” the FedExCup champion says, proving even the best can be tamed by Seminole. “If the wind gets up and the greens are as fast as they were last Friday … birdies might be hard to come by, but there are going to be some chances.

    “Seminole is going to be a treat for everyone to see on TV. I think it's Donald Ross's greatest course he ever designed. He had a wonderful piece of land beside the Atlantic Ocean, and it has some of the best green complexes in the world in terms of the thought that needs to go into playing your second shots and then just how thoughtful you need to be on the greens and around the greens.”

    PGA TOUR senior tournament referee Stephen Cox says the setup on Sunday will be true to Seminole’s best features. While social distancing and other protocols will be in full effect to ensure the safest possible scenarios, Cox is confident the viewers will see Seminole in a great light.

    “We're very, very lucky to have the likes of [head pro] Bob Ford on-site. He and I are going to work very closely to set up the golf course in a way befitting an event of this style and showcase some of the fun hole locations that Seminole has to offer,” Cox says.

    “There's a genuine excitement about seeing Seminole. It's not been broadcast to the worldwide audience before, so this is a new unique opportunity for people around the world to get a glimpse and to see such an American treasure.”

    Johnson is hoping he can finally get one over the course he says keeps enticing him back before finding ways to shut him down.

    “Seminole is a special place, and fortunately for us we live right down the street from it. I've gotten to play it quite a few times, and it's a course you always enjoy playing. It's got tons of history,” the 20-time PGA TOUR winner says.

    “When you first get there and you look at it, you think, OK, I should tear this place up, but then when you get done playing, you add your score up and it's never very good, especially because the greens are always so fast, it's a little windy … I always struggle there.

    “Obviously with no live sports really on right now, I think the world needs something to watch, so hopefully we can go out and put on a good show. We're raising a lot of money for people who really need it, so it's great to be a part of that, and I think we're all really looking forward to it."

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