A NEW USE FOR BAD LAND
It's named the Old Works, but to public course golfers, and to
the Environmental Protection Agency, the new 18-hole layout in
Anaconda, Mont., looks more like a work of art.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in May, the Old Works is
the first course built on an EPA Superfund cleanup site. The
idea for the course was hatched in 1989, six years after the EPA
discovered that the land, which had once been the site of a
thriving copper smelter, was contaminated with toxic pollutants.
As part of the federal Superfund Program, which was established
by Congress in 1980 and determines who should pay for such
cleanup projects, energy giant ARCO, which had purchased the
Anaconda site in 1977, was left with the full tab.
Together with local government officials, ARCO struck a deal
whereby it would spend roughly $40 million cleaning up the area
and building the course, then turn it over to the city. Since
the land used for the course would need only to be capped, the
cost of the cleanup would be less to ARCO. "The alternative was
$60 million to clean up the waste, haul it away and fence the
area off," says Sandy Stash, who was in charge of the project
August 10, 1997
The Old Works course alone cost $15 million to build, much of
which was spent to ensure that it was safe to use. Before
seeding, a two-inch layer of lime was applied over the waste,
which was capped with a two-foot-thick sealant of plastic liner,
clay and clean soil. A complex system of pumps, moisture sensors
and piping prevents water in the hazards on the course from
mixing with any waste below. Before the course opened, it was
approved by the EPA.
The most unusual feature of the Old Works is its jet-black
bunkers. The sand is crushed slag left from the smelting process
that gleaned the copper from the rock. Although some players
contend that the slightly heavier slag tends to scuff balls,
most agree that it looks great and is easier to hit from than
regular bunker sand. "The ball sits on top," says Nicklaus, who
played the course on July 30. "You don't get as many fried-egg
The EPA hopes to use the Old Works as a model for other
companies and cities looking to reclaim polluted land. "We have
about 900 Superfund sites around the country," says EPA official
Tim Fields. "What has been done here is something we would very
much like to replicate."
A YEAR LATER, BROOKS SEEKS '96 PGA FORM
As he prepares to defend his PGA Championship title next week at
Winged Foot, Mark Brooks is fighting a swing flaw that sends his
bad shots not right but "30 degrees right." The trouble began
about 10 months ago, when he cracked his eight-degree Big Bertha
driver. He's still looking for a solution.
"It's like being 15 points down at the start of every quarter,"
says Brooks, noting that he has opened 11 of his 22 tournaments
with a score of 72 or higher. "I'm always playing on the edge. I
assure you, it's not fun."
Third on the money list last season with $1.4 million, Brooks
has won only $208,572 this season and is ranked 82nd. He's among
the top 50 in just one statistical category--sand saves. His
lone top 10 finish was a tie for seventh at the Players
Championship back in March.
Brooks missed the cut at the 1984 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and
figures that he'll have to rely on his short game if he's to
have any chance next week. "You have to drive the ball in the
fairway there, and if you miss the green, miss in the right
places so you can get up and down," he says.
Despite the off year, Brooks remains upbeat. His
course-management and design company will break ground on two
courses in the Fort Worth area in October--both within 30
minutes of Brooks's house. Besides, there are worse things than
a bad swing. "It's not life or death for me," he says. "I'm not
satisfied with the way I'm playing, but all I can do is look
ahead to what's left this year and many, many years to come.
It's just one of those valleys. If this is as low as I go, I can
EUROPE'S MARTIN MIGHT TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM
Miguel Angel Martin, currently eighth on the European Ryder Cup
points list, has a broken bone in his left hand and might miss
the match. "It doesn't look good," Martin said last week. "At
the moment it's impossible for me to hit a shot." Martin, 35,
injured his hand at the Loch Lomond World Invitational last
month. He played the following week at the British Open with his
hand wrapped, but the pain never left, and he missed the cut. He
has withdrawn from his last three starts on the European tour
and may need surgery.
Martin's misfortune will in some ways make European captain Seve
Ballesteros's decisions easier. The injury could clear the way
for Jose Maria Olazabal, who has fluctuated between 10th and
11th on the points list, to make the squad automatically. That
would free Ballesteros from having to choose among Olazabal,
Nick Faldo and Jesper Parnevik in making his two captain's picks.
ANOTHER FREE PASS TO THE U.S. OPEN FOR NICKLAUS?
Whipping up on an old nemesis, Johnny Miller, during the taping
of a match for Shell's Wonderful World of Golf had Jack Nicklaus
feeling so good about his game--and about Olympic Club in San
Francisco, where he and Miller squared off on July 29--that he
said he would "love to come back" to Olympic for next year's
U.S. Open if the USGA would grant him another exemption.
Such an exemption would be Nicklaus's sixth, more than any other
player has received. But Nicklaus has made the cut in six of the
last seven majors, proof that he's still playing well enough to
meet any competitive standard. Because Nicklaus is scheduled to
play in the PGA at Winged Foot next week and in next April's
Masters, the Open at Olympic would be his 154th consecutive major.
Nicklaus made a believer out of Miller, whom he destroyed 70-81.
(Their match will air Oct. 29 on ESPN.) "He put on a clinic,"
said Miller, who double-bogeyed the 2nd and 3rd holes and
three-putted five times. "If there was a U.S. Open here this
week, he'd have a shot."
MR. MATCH PLAY AND THE GREENS MONSTER
After the International division of the Andersen Consulting
World Championship of Golf concluded on July 29 at Blackwolf Run
in Kohler, Wis., two things were clear. One, Ernie Els is the
world's best match-play player. Two, ladies, rev up your engines
because you'll have your hands full when the U.S. Women's Open
comes to Blackwolf Run next year.
It was no surprise that Els advanced to next January's Andersen
semis in Scottsdale, Ariz. He has been playing well all summer.
He has also won three straight World Match Play titles and had a
3-1-1 record in last year's Presidents Cup. "Ernie is so tough
because he has such a good short game," says Nick Price, whose
divisional semifinal match against Els in the Andersen ended
when Els chipped in for eagle at the 16th hole. "People don't
give him enough credit for his chipping. Plus he's hitting his
long irons so straight."
In the final, Els withstood a charge by Steve Elkington to win 2
up. Els eagled a par-5 on the front nine but didn't clinch the
match until Elkington, who had dispatched Greg Norman in the
semis, went for the pin at the 18th and twice hit into the water.
Els, who won $200,000, will face Colin Montgomerie (the European
division winner) in January. Davis Love III (U.S.) will play
Hajime Meshiai (Japan) in the other semifinal. First prize is $1
Beside Els, the other hot topic at Blackwolf Run was the
course's undulating greens. "If you halved the slope on these
greens, they would still be severe," says Price. "I feel sorry
for the amateurs here. I wouldn't be surprised if a good 10- or
12-handicapper had nine three-putts out here."
Elkington agreed. "This course is hard from tee to green, but
even if you hit a nice long iron to 20 feet," he says, "you
probably have a double breaker with a hump in the middle. Some
of the slope has to come out."
Price said that because of the greens, the men's U.S. Open would
never come to Blackwolf Run. Obviously he had not consulted with
the USGA, which will hold the Women's Open on the course next
year. "Good luck to them," says Els. "They'd better start
practicing putting down a bathtub."
THE SHAG BAG
Fred Couples and Davis Love III were named on Monday to
represent the U.S. in the Nov. 12-15 World Cup of Golf at the
Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, S.C. Couples and Love won the
international two-man competitions from 1992 to '95. Tiger Woods
declined to participate, citing his busy Asian and Hawaiian
schedule that month.... Beth Bauer, 17, of Valrico, Fla.,
defeated Candie Kung, 15, of Fountain Valley, Calif., 4 and 2
last Saturday to win the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur.... Steve
Stricker says that if he doesn't qualify for the NEC World
Series of Golf, he'll play in the Aug. 18-20 Wisconsin State
Open at Cedar Creek in Onalaska. Stricker, who has a house in
Edgerton, won the tournament in 1990 and finished second in
1992. Will there be grumbling from club pros? "I think Steve is
doing it as a favor to Wisconsin golf," Joe Stadler, Wisconsin
PGA executive director, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He
knows it will help with publicity. If any players view it as
anything but a plus, they're being short-sighted."... Chris
Smith became the first player in Nike tour history to win the
same event twice when he coasted to a two-stroke victory in the
Dakota Dunes (S.Dak.) Open on Sunday. He also won it in '95.
TWO FOR THE SHOW
Tom Kite should opt for experience and make Fred Couples and
Tom Watson his two captain's picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
That was the opinion of 42 Tour pros polled last week at the
Sprint International. SI gave those surveyed a list of the nine
golfers most likely to be the wild-card candidates (assuming
they don't earn enough points to automatically qualify for the
team) and asked them each to vote for two of the nine.
PLAYER VOTES THE SKINNY
FRED COUPLES 30 His game is sharp (six top 10s in 11
events), but his life is full of
TOM WATSON 23 Like Raymond Floyd in '93, Watson is valued
for his leadership
DAVID DUVAL 15 He has five runner-up finishes. Is he due
or a dud?
JEFF MAGGERT 10 Late collapses are getting to be second
COREY PAVIN 3 He has lost his game (in the top 25 once in
'97) but not his heart
MARK BROOKS 1 He has earned only 30 Ryder Cup points
STEVE JONES 1 He was 38 under in Arizona, 23 over for the
rest of '97
PAUL STANKOWSKI 1 Mr. Consistency has 12 top 25 finishes
in 22 events
TOM KITE 0 He has a pair of top 10s in majors this year
Hale Irwin's winning percentage on the Senior tour this year
(six of 15 after Sunday's victory at the BankBoston Classic), a
rate that would top Peter Thomson's record (minimum: 15 events)
of 36%, set in '85.