Feeling the heat on US greens

By BOB ANTHONY

IF you plan to take on the desert golf courses around Las Vegas -- take plenty of balls with you.

That's the advice from Chinderah Golf Course professional Ben Cronk who, with fellow Chinderah professional Jeff Holloway, has just returned from attending the annual US PGA Fall Expo.

The expo is a three-day show featuring product launches and courses for professionals, which go towards their professional development program.

"As AAA-rated coaches, we have to attend courses on instruction and tuition which carry points needed to maintain our accreditation," Cronk said.

"Jeff and I were the only Australians who attended the expo this time, but it is a huge show in the States, drawing pros from across the country.

"There were plenty of new products launched, ranging from %glitter golf balls to teaching aids which were quite impressive."

But it wasn't all work for the Tweed duo, and both Cronk and Holloway were able to tackle some of the most impressive golf course bordering Las Vegas.

"We played four courses, but the two most impressive ones were the TPC Canyons and Rio Secco," Cronk said.

"The Canyons is the course which will be hosting the Frys.com Open this week and is amazing.

"You actually play across canyons which can be up to 60 metres deep in parts.

"If you hit a ball into a canyon, you don't even bother looking for it.

"They have literally carved out a golf course from the desert.

"The other course is Rio Secco, which I think is the best course I have ever played.

"The greens and grass were just perfect they reseed it every six months.It is where renowned coach Butch Harmon -- think Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott -- is based.

"Mind you the water bills for these courses are about $1.5 million per year and the costs in the upkeep mean the fees to play a round are US$350."

Cronk said the greens were very fast, measuring 10.5 on the stint metre (compared to Tweed greens which are around 7.5 to 8). For the record, Cronk and Holloway squared the par 72 TPC Canyons course, while Holloway squared the par 72 Rio Secco and Cronk was two over.

After hearing Ben Cronk's travel tales, Sports Editor Bob %Anthony has decided it's time to do something about his golf game (or lack of it).

Ben has the task of trying to turn him from hopeless to hopeful over the coming month. Bob's transformation begins next week and should include some tips for other weekend hackers.



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