San Francisco City results and comments

Yesterday was perhaps the worst conditions I’ve seen at Harding Park. Every fairway on the front nine was a marsh, basically unplayable. It must have taken us three hours to play the front nine as every player had to search for high ground, drop twice into another plugged lie and then usually place the ball.

After spending the week in NY cities horrible weather, I came into Saturday’s match a little unprepared. I knew that George Gandranata was going to make few mistakes, if any during the match. Darryl Donovan and I were discussing George and both agreed that he’d probably make 1 bogey and several birdies.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the start of a match usually sets the tone and puts extra pressure on the player that fall behind. I unfortunately was the player that fell behind with bogeys on 1 & 2 to go two down. Although I rallied back with wins on 4 & 5 with a birdie and a par (this was George’s lone bogey and only green he missed all day). After getting even I was unable to convert a 3 foot par attempt to tie the tough 8th hole. After tying 9 & 10 with birdies, I was again able to draw even in the match with my 3rd birdie in 4 holes at #12.

Unfortunately for me George rolled in a 40 footer on #13 to go one up, that extended to two up as I missed another short putt for par on 14. I was unable to make a birdie on the next few holes with the match ending 2&1. In retropect, on this match I can only say that my short game once again let me down in a high pressure situation. I seem to lose my ability to have good feel with my chip shots when the pressure is cranked up. In matches when I am in control the chipping seems to work, while in this match from easy positions I was 1 for 6 in my up and in attempts.

Although I’m sure under the conditions we played, 5 bogeys and 4 birdies would have won several matches, I knew against George that I needed to be under par like I had been in my previous two matches. Match play is a pressure cooker that will expose any weakness you have in your game. The key to my match with George was in getting off  to a good start and putting pressure on him. The pressure was on me, even after I drew even twice, I was unable to go up in our match and turn the momentum in my favor.

There are some great players left in the quarter finals, but I will say that if George goes down, someone will need to play very very well, and be under par. My pick to win the event is George Gandranata (although my sentimental pick is my good friend Scott Hardy).

What can we do to improve the conditions we play in….? The last few years playing Harding has been less than desirable for this great amateur event. The weekends always get hit with poor weather and the course has little to no drainage in the fairways. This is NOT intended to be a knock on Harding Park, which is a spectacular layout and ranked highly as a public course. But honestly we play this historic event in horrific conditions that I believe make the event LESS desirable to play in.

After my heartbreaking defeat on Saturday, I had lunch with committee member Bob Callan, and we discussed a few changes that I feel would greatly enhance this great amateur event. I suggested the following:

  • Change the number of match play qualifiers from 64 to 32 allowing the event to be contested over 3 weeks as opposed to 4 weekends. This change would have a positive economic impact on the tournament as fewer subsidized rounds would be needed. The other major amateur events that go to 32 players for match play are NCGA Amateur and the California State Amateur.
  • The SF City is the only event I know of in the world  that plays a 36 hole semi final match followed by a 36 hole final (not even the US Amateur). By playing an 18 hole semi final match the tournament could have the qualifier the 1st weekend. The 2nd weekend have the rd of 32 on Saturday followed by two matches on Sunday (rd of 16 and quarterfinals). Then you could have an 18 hole semi final the next Sat with a 36 hole final on Sunday. This would eliminate the extra weekend and avoid back to back 36 hole days.
  • Move the event to start the second weekend in March. This would allow the weather a chance to improve and we’d be enjoying longer days. The extra daylight would help with those 7am tee times when you now are warming up on the range in the dark.
  • And my last suggestion- if the event is challenged due to financial constraints, then have a fundraising event to raise money (perhaps a Monday event at the Olympic Club, home of the 2012 US Open)

I STRONGLY believe that the result of these changes would allow the event to be played in better conditions (weather and course) and that you’d attract a better field (many players don’t enter because of the 4 weekends).  I also believe a format with one 36 hole day each weekend makes more sense than going from 18 hole matches and jumping to two 36 holes the last weekend. Having a major SF City fundraiser may allow the event to raise enough money to eliminate the match play green fees that nobody would complain about not paying. If you like these proposed changes, then lets hear from you. The more support from the players we get, the better chance for change. The barrier here is the history of the event, for as long as I’ve played in this wonderful event, it’s been played in the same format. BUT times have drastically changed. In years past we didn’t always pay green fees for the matches. We played in better weather and some years actually saw our balls roll in the fairways. Change is good in this case, and I believe we can significantly improve the enjoyment of playing in the “City”!!

Please let me know what you think…..?

Randy Haag

12 Comments on “San Francisco City results and comments

  1. Randy,
    Sorry to hear about your loss this weekend. I am sure the trip back east didn’t make it possible to prepare.

  2. Randy
    I agree the Sf city needs to make some changes. First off the biggest change is where I agree the most, the tournament needs to be pushed back to March. The weather and the conditions at the courses are terrible in Febuary. Yes we will see some rain but maybe better conditions overall in March. There isn’t much on the NCGA calendar in March ever to conflict this change. Also a fundraiser to reduce the cost of match play or all cost would be a great idea! Although I would and maybe several others might like to know where the remainder of the non qualifers of the pre qualifers money ends up? $160 to play a friday round at lincoln somethings wrong there if that’s correct. Could those leftover funds be use to discount or cover more rounds for those who make match play? I truthfully dont think the format should change there just might be to much history for that but some changes are definently due.

  3. Randy,

    I have really enjoyed reading your Blog. Sounds like the conditions were brutal at Harding.

    I am from Santa Cruz and I have been keeping track of Cory McElyea. Cory is a senior at Harbor High in Santa Cruz and he has developed into quite a good player. He is a little bit of a “hot-head” but he has great imagination around the greens. It will be interesting if Cory plays Gandranata in the finals.

    Someone told me that Cory has accepted a full ride scholarship to Univ of Washington. I heard that a few Pac 10 schools are recruiting him.

    Thanks again for keeping this blog.

  4. Interesting….at one time the City was contested later in the year. I recall around 1978-81, or so, when the finals interfered with the first two rounds of the ALAMEDA COMMUTERS. I believe it was those complaints that pushed the SF City back from its March dates to February. At one time the COMMUTERS was played the first two weekends of April as opposed to now the second two. So the CITY even rolled into April at one time.

    AMATEUR GOLF should not be about REVENUE! It should be about community sportsmanship. Thus, the CITY should not be worried about loss of revenue for 64 players, or whatever the total flights are included. I disagree with the Fundraiser approach. The City is full of business’s that if approached correctly and with their value in mind, would have no problem supporting the SF CITY thru sponsorships. This is what the ALAMEDA COMMUTERS does: but it takes people willing to make it work and as you well know, the Commuters Committee is made up of 40 guys.

    Look at the SF Chronicle: total lack of coverage aside from a few paragraphs. The finals used to be a full page. They cover the High schools sports as well as the Giants or 49ers. But not the SF CITY golf. I put the blame on the Tiger Woods syndrome: Editors for some reason feel that today the public only cares about professional golf. Well, the joke is on them because in a few years, very few will be reading their newspapers anyway. You can do so much more with internet, etc.

    I agree with your assessment that the field should be from 64 to 32…you will get the better players qualifying, etc. That and you could perhaps play two matches a day, too ( maybe).

    Sorry to read that you lost your match….great champions go down fighting!

    See ya, Randy.

  5. Randy, excellent points…..hopefully the committee does listen to your suggestions, as the tournament would drastically improve.

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