22 Aug East Lake Golf Club – GolfPass Grass Guru
Tour Championship • Hole 18 • Par 5 • 563 yds
Once again, we made it to the end of the 2019 season at East Lake Golf Club. This time, however, we are all-in for an interesting experiment. The Tour Championship is busting out a wild seeding scheme. I mean Justin Thomas already is up -10 and 2 up on Patrick Cantlay. Did I mention it’s only Wednesday? Part of what made the FedEx Cup great was that you can win the Tour Championship but still lose the Cup. To me, that puts much more emphasis on the entire year to scoop up points.
With the new system, the best strategy is to get enough points to make the playoffs. Then, play your butt off to win one of the two playoff tournaments. If you don’t, you’re starting 10 back on a course that isn’t the easiest in the world. It’s like having the World Series playoffs but once you get to the Conference Championships the better team starts up 10 runs. It’s crazy. How can any player in the bottom half of the tournament even sniff the top of the leaderboard?
I get what they are trying to do by putting more emphasis on the Cup and Tour Champion being one in the same but the separation was unique. The most consistent golfer won the cup, regardless if they won the Tour Championship. If anyone wins that’s in the bottom half of the standings going into the start of Thursday, I’ll personally eat a bowl of sand from any of the sand traps I’ve written about.
Now back to the course, East Lake Golf Club. If you go back in time you’ll know what my favorite bunker on the course is. This go around, we are looking for the second best. That bunker is the green side right bunker on the 18th. You have the green complex beautifully framed by the clubhouse in the rear, water up front, and this majestic Bad Larry on the right front edge. What can I say? It’s one of the finer finishes in all of golf. This bunker bleeds Rossness. In fact, the only negative I can think of is the fact that it’s surrounded by pesky southern warm grasses. It’s also a bunker style and design that’s continually repeated around the property but just smacks different on the last. Throw in the fact that it’s a par 5 and wow what a hole.
For now, I think the new format is trash. If I watch it and it ends up being great, I will totally retract all I said on it. Until then, it’s on notice. But format aside, East Lake is a gorgeous course with a ton of history and bunkers for days. A beautiful end to a PGA season that laid the wood with the bunker game. Also we get it. Bobby Jones and East Lake. They go together like lamb and tuna fish. We’ve heard you the first couple of times.
Cover Photo: Keyur Khamar // pgatour.com
Eric MacPherson knows a lot about golf, but even more about grass (hello Huggy Bear). Having worked in golf for what seems like forever, and going on to graduate school in turfgrass, he’s able to walk mow a green, and change the shaft in your favorite driver. He’s worked on some of the east coast’s primer golf clubs doing everything from washing carts to building brand new putting greens. He’s also volunteered at several high profile Tour events including a major and the President’s Cup. The only thing he likes more than pushing a walk mower on a crisp morning, would be teeing it off. Shoot Eric a message at email@example.com or check out his other blogs here.