Winter in the dez is here, the bermuda is dormant, the green grass sticks out. But gone are the days of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby smoking pipes and drinking Chivas at 9:00am. Instead we get "subdued" fans watching Tour pros tear this place up... Where did the good times go...? Let's take a quick look at what this tournament used to be...
You can't talk about the CareerBuilder Challenge without the mention of Bob Hope. His influence on bringing the tournament to the desert and attracting A list celebrities to the Pro Am could never be matched. The best players of the time were excited to play this week because of the parties Bob Hope would host every night of the week at his huge mansion. Like Will Nixon mentioned in the first PGA Tour Recap Podcast, the best way to party is with Hollywood girls, and that's what this tournament used to be for the Tour guys.
Bob Hope would give professional golfers the opportunity to rub shoulders with the Jennifer Lawrence's of the time, while also having the ability to play world class, new desert courses. In the last 15 years or so, the course has lost a little bit of its luster. The parties are quieter, the players are more focused, and the tournament has been reduced from a 5 round event to a traditional 4 round event. That doesn't mean that there still isn't a lot to look forward to during this week of PGA Tour action.
I don't think there's an event in PGA Tour history that has been held on more golf courses than the CareerBuilder Challenge. This year three courses will play host to the finest golfers in the world. PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Palmer Private, and PGA West Nicklaus Private (don't let the Tour tell you it's the tournament course) play host this year. All in all 13 different courses have hosted this event throughout the years.
I personally enjoy the Nicklaus Course the most in this rotation. A few holes that really stand out are the par 4, 2nd and par 4, 12th. The 2nd has a very distinguishable rock feature just short of the green that adds a cool level of depth to the hole. While 12 has mounds blocking the green short and left so if you hit your tee ball behind those, you have a blind wedge shot.
As I'm sure you can imagine, Nicklaus and Palmer had a hand in designing 2 of these courses. But the third, the brutish PGA West Stadium Course, belongs to none other than Pete Dye. 17 and 18 resemble almost any other Pete Dye course. 17 is a par 3 well guarded to an island green. And EVERY SINGLE Pete Dye course that I've played has the same 18th hole. The wind is into and from the right, water is up the left side the entire way, and the green is guarded by water and tough to hit considering you're hitting a long iron most of the time. Pete Dye is diabolical, but it makes for fun golf on TV, and I expect this year to be no different.
Solid Bets: Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman, Charles Howell III (dude just lives in this category)
Dark Horses: Hudson Swafford (defending champ), Brandon Harkins (bomber, loves desert golf), Martin Laird
Great Picks, But I'm not feeling it: Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley
MY PICK: Charley Hoffman- LETS GO SAN DIEGO BOY!