September 14, 2011
Steve Stricker is certainly one of the quieter players on tour. A Midwestern guy who usually lets his clubs do the talking, Stricker rarely lets you know his opinion on certain courses and setups.
But the recent redesign at Cog Hill was apparently bad enough to warrant a strong opinion from Stricker. Prior to the start of the tournament, he spoke with the Daily Herald about Rees Jones' redesign of the Dubsdread course, saying he was "disappointed about what transpired there."
It raised a couple eyebrows, but didn't register until Stricker was asked again on the eve of the BMW Championship about the redesign. That's when Stricker laid into Jones and his work on the classic track for the second time in as many days.
"You know, it's just too bad," Stricker said. "I mean, they need to get their money back, I guess. It's too bad what happened here.
"Visually it looks much better than what it did, but playability, from the playability standpoint, I've got to believe for the average golfer, it is very difficult. And the players on a whole don't really care for the redo. To see a tournament that's been here for so long sound like it's going to leave is disappointing."
You know a redesign isn't winning over the players when one of the quieter guys on tour decides to speak up. The course was selected to be the host site for the 2011 BMW Championship but after this year, the tournament doesn't have Cog Hill penciled in on the schedule.
The course was hoping the Jones redesign would draw rave reviews and a shot at a major championship. But the harsh words from Stricker, and others, makes you believe Cog Hill's future as a professional golf track could be in jeopardy.
The course was a mainstay on the tour schedule from 1991 to 2007, but the first year of the BMW Championship (which used to be the Western Open) brought an end to Cog Hill's run.
The Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard asked Rees Jones for a rebuttal to Stricker's remarks but was stonewalled with a "no comment" from the course designer. Of course, Stricker isn't the first pro to have a beef with one of Jones' redesigns.
Phil Mickelson blasted Jones' redesign of Atlanta Athletic Club at the PGA Championship, calling the course unplayable for the average golfer. Like Mickelson, Stricker seems to have a problem with the course from a playability standpoint.
Who knows if Cog Hill will truly disappear from the tour schedule after this year, but based on Stricker's comments, nobody would be surprised it that ended up being the case.