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Rubenstein: Heart of golf tournament season is here

Silhouette of a golfer

It's always warm somewhere and so it's no surprise that tournament golf at the tour level goes year-round. But some segments of the season are intrinsically more interesting than others. That's the case with the current period, when one could watch tournament golf morning until night, or through the night, and be entertained. Then again, that wouldn't be much of a life, would it? Hmmm.

Think about this week. The PGA Tour is playing its AT&T National at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., where Rory McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open by eight shots. Canadians Graham DeLaet, David Hearn, Brad Fritsch, and Stephen Ames are in the field. The New York Times is also at Congressional. Scott Cacciola wrote an illuminating piece about Ames, who is 49 and trying to compete on the PGA Tour while looking forward to turning 50 and getting out on the Champions Tour. "Can't wait," he tells Cacciola.

And what of McIlroy, who has not been playing much good golf recently and who said he is confused out on the course. Here's a golfer who won that 2011 U.S. Open by eight shots and last year's PGA Championship by five shots. What's up with him? Golf being golf, he could turn it around and win next month's Open Championship at the Muirfield Golf Club in Gullane, Scotland. But he won't get any more tournament practice at the Irish Open. He shot 74-72 to miss the cut at the Carton House course in Co. Kildare.

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Speaking of Open Championships, the U.S. Women's Open is proceeding at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. Inbee Park, who shot five-under-par 67 in the opening round, is a shot out of the lead as the morning wave plays the second round. She'll play in the afternoon. Park has won the first two majors on the LPGA Tour this year. You'd think she'd be getting more attention and that more golfers would be aware of what she's doing. You'd think the LPGA Tour would get network or at least prime channel coverage for its first two rounds before there's coverage on NBC.

You'd think so, but you'd be wrong. ESPN2 is carrying the championship through the first two rounds, and TSN2 is picking up the coverage in Canada. But many golf-watchers don't subscribe to these channels. It's ridiculous, if only business, that the most important tournament in women's golf can't get at least regular ESPN coverage in its Thursday and Friday rounds. I'd wager many people would tune in to see at least some of the coverage, either live or by PVR'ing the coverage for later viewing. Sebonack, by the way, is a rare collaboration between architects. In this case, Tom Doak and Jack Nicklaus are the architects.

Back to the U.S. The Constellation Senior Players Championship, a major for the 50 and up set, is being played at the Fox Chapel course in Pittsburgh. Seth Raynor designed the course and was a master of his craft. Raynor, a graduate in civil engineering from Princeton University, also designed Fishers Island Golf Club on Fishers Island, N.Y., the Yale Golf Club, Yeamans Hall in Charleston, S.C., and Mountain Lakes Golf Club in Lake Wales, Fla. Each course is an architectural gem. That's also true of Fox Chapel.

"I've never seen a golf course this well-designed," 1996 PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Scott Brown. That maybe be hyperbolic, but it's the way Elkington feels and he's hardly the only golfer to be speaking highly of Fox Chapel. Any golfer interested in course design should catch some of the play via Golf Channel in the second round or CBS on the weekend.

So that's the menu for this week: the AT&T National, the Irish Open, the U.S. Women's Open, and the Constellation Senior Players Championship. The menus for the next while are also terrific, and include the week after next, the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at the Castle Stuart course in Inverness, Scotland, followed by the Open Championship at Muirfield.

For pure Canadian interest, the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic will have its second running July 11-14 at the Grey Silo Golf Course in Waterloo, Ont. The RBC Canadian Open will be played July 25-28 at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont., where Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and Luke Donald will be among the competitors. Then there's the Ricoh Women's British Open Aug. 1-4 at the Old Course in St. Andrews. It goes without saying that it's impossible to tire of watching championships at the Old Course.

Summer is here, and so is the heart of the golf tournament season. Now, if I can somehow tear myself away from watching to playing; not easy, not at this time of the season.

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RELATED LINK: More blogs from Lorne Rubenstein


Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association's first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada's Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round's on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf's Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein

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