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WEISKOPF: COURSES FOR SENIOR MAJORS PICKED TO LURE NICKLAUS TOUGH WEEK FOR CADDIES

April 29, 1996
April 29, 1996

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April 29, 1996

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WEISKOPF: COURSES FOR SENIOR MAJORS PICKED TO LURE NICKLAUS TOUGH WEEK FOR CADDIES

WHY JACK'S TRACKS?

This is an article from the April 29, 1996 issue Original Layout

Tom Weiskopf thinks he knows why three of the four tournaments
designated as majors on the Senior tour are played on golf
courses designed by Jack Nicklaus. "What I heard is that we play
these courses because that's the only way Nicklaus will play,"
Weiskopf says.

Nicklaus is having none of it. He points out that the PGA
Seniors Championship was held at PGA National for seven years
before he redesigned the Champion course and that the Tour made
the Tradition a major without any lobbying by himself or founder
Lyle Anderson.

But if what the critics say of Nicklaus's designs is true--that
they suit only one style of play, his own--then is it not
reasonable to assume that holding the Senior Players
Championship at his TPC of Michigan gives Jack an unfair
advantage? To that, Nicklaus notes that he won the Senior
Players in 1990 when it was held at Dearborn (Mich.) Country Club.

Although Nicklaus has incorporated a wide variety of styles into
the more than 100 courses that he has designed, some
characteristics--for instance, wide fairways and a premium on
approaches that call for a long left-to-right shot to
well-protected, multileveled greens--can be found on most of
them. That's what bothers Weiskopf, who's also a big player in
the course-design business. "I'll be honest with you. I'm tired
of playing Jack Nicklaus courses all the time," he says. "Why do
we have to play his courses? Nobody likes them that much. They
all look the same. They all require the same shots."

Nicklaus has a simple answer: "I guess if he doesn't like it, he
doesn't have to play in them."

LOOPER BLOOPERS

It was a rough week for caddies at the PGA Seniors. Dave
Eichelberger saw his run over by a golf cart, and Tommy Aaron's
quit in the middle of the 18th fairway.

The mishap with Eichelberger's caddie, Russ Steib, occurred on
Thursday when Steib accidentally put down Eichelberger's bag on
the accelerator of the golf cart they were using. The empty
cart, with an embarrassed Steib in hot pursuit, careered down a
bank near the 18th tee before smashing into a van. The cart
bounced back off the van and into Steib, mowing him down. After
waving off paramedics, Steib picked up the bag and lugged it
down toward the bulrushes where Eichelberger had hooked his
drive. "Hey, we're still working here folks," he told spectators.

Gil Roderick was saying just the opposite to Tommy Aaron farther
down the 18th fairway on Saturday. Tension between the caddie
and the former Masters champion, who have worked together for
four years, had been building for weeks and went on the boil
after Aaron claimed the caddie had given him a bad line for a
lay-up shot. Roderick threw down his yardage book, cursed Aaron,
shoved the bag at him and stormed off the course.

"I've seen caddies say, 'That's it,' and walk off," Aaron said,
"but I've never seen one react like that. He's always been a
pretty easygoing guy with me. I guess the last few weeks haven't
been good to me, and I've taken it out on him. He just went nuts."

BAD MOVE, DAVE

Dave Stockton, a two-time PGA champion who also captained a
winning Ryder Cup team, skipped the PGA Seniors to move back
into his house after it had been renovated, a move that did not
sit well with the brass at the PGA of America. They figured
Stockton owed them at least the courtesy of showing up for one
of their big events.

"I could have played, but my wife, Cathy, would have had to do
all the work," Stockton said from his home in Mentone, Calif.
"It wasn't worth getting a separation over."

Stockton is on record as not being a big fan of PGA National and
has called the PGA Seniors "the weakest of the four majors." He
also says the Champion course on which it is contested is "the
worst-conditioned course we play in Florida."

Nevertheless, Stockton promises to be back in 1997. Why? "I
won't have to move into my house next year," he says.

THE SHORT GAME

The PGA would like to move the poorly attended Seniors
Championship from PGA National and play it sometime during the
summer, but must coordinate such a switch with the Tour and NBC.
"The issue is not finances," says Jim Awtrey, the PGA's CEO.
"We're talking about what the championship deserves."... Lee
Trevino has fired longtime caddie Herman Mitchell until Mitchell
gets his weight down to 250 pounds. Mitchell weighed in at 282
earlier this month at the Tradition, where Trevino wrote him his
last check. "I've been preaching to him, bringing him in and out
of the hospital since 1988, and evidently he doesn't want to
listen," Trevino says. "I've done my part and I'm not doing any
more."

COLOR PHOTO: JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Sneed can smile now, but his collapse in the 1979 Masters really hurt. [Ed Sneed]COLOR PHOTO: HEINZ KLUETMEIER [See caption above--Ed Sneed playing in 1979 Masters]