T.O.'S LOS ROBLES GC NOW TOUGHER TO READ.
Participants in next month's Thousand Oaks City Championship might not recognize Los Robles Golf Course, at least not holding a putter as their club of necessity. The near-40-year-old Thousand Oaks facility, which long ago played on both sides of the Ventura Freeway and now sits entirely to the west, has undergone yet another significant change.
``The biggest difference is the greens,'' head pro Steve Butler said of the 10-month refurbishing of the course originally designed by William F. Bell. ``Before, the greens were pretty flat, kind of like a dish. There wasn't much to them because they were so old.
``Now, they've got a lot of undulation and they are a lot different. They don't all break to the freeway the way they used to. Before, you could just look to the freeway to know the break. They're much tougher to read now and they're in great shape.''
The new design, which has been open to the public since Aug. 5, also now plays as a par-70, rather than the par-69 it was when reconstruction started last November.
``That's the other big change,'' Butler said. ``The city didn't want to change the character of the course because of its history, but they wanted to get it up to a par-70.''
The solution produced a distinctive closing hole, one altered from a difficult, 212-yard par-3 to a still-challenging but considerably more attractive par-4, which plays 363 yards, starting out of a narrow chute and doglegging left to a green backed by a lake and waterfall. It all will be overlooked by the clubhouse, scheduled to open in March.
``It's almost like a stadium effect,'' Butler said of the look of the new No. 18, which stretched the reconfigured layout from 6,134 yards to 6,274 at the black-tee tips. The new course, which has a 70.1/125 rating/slope from the blue tees, also has gold and red tees and soon will have junior tees.
While 6,274 yards might be short by modern course standards, Los Robles plays tough enough in its new alignment, as evidenced by the fact no one has broken par yet.
Butler said the distance is a little deceptive because the course has five par-3s. He also thinks it is difficult because of its back nine.
``I've played a lot of courses in the area, and I think our back nine (on a 34-36-70 formation) is pretty challenging,'' said Butler, who shares the new course record of 70 with Kevin Loustalot (Steve Holmes held the record at 62 when the course closed as a par-69).
``No. 10 is a 455-yard par-4, and when I played it the other day I killed a drive and still had a 2-iron in to the green,'' Butler said. ``We also have a 190-yard par-3 and 611-yard par-5 on the back nine.''
But Butler doesn't expect the record of 70 to last long.
``We have a big skins game coming back here on Wednesdays, and they'll beat that first time out,'' he said.
If not, the Thousand Oaks City Championship participants likely will make a strong run at it when that two-day competition is played Sept. 29-30. Recent champions include Holmes, Lew Murez, Alex Kuyumjian, Roy Moon, four-time winner Darren Humphrey and two-time titlist Jeff Lundgren.
Anyone interested in playing in this year's gross/net event can register at (805) 370-1178 or at www.golfthousandoaks.com.
--We are the champions: Sean King, Rebecca Norris and brothers Danny and Matt Hoffenberg emerged winners in this year's Ventura County Junior Golf Association County Championship, conducted at Olivas Park GC, River Ridge GC and North Ranch CC.
King won A flight at 74-72-80-226; Danny Hoffenberg shot 82-84-82-248 in B flight for his second county age-group title; Norris finished 81-79-76-236 to win C flight, and Matt Hoffenberg shot 75-79-78-232 to win D flight.
--Names in the game: The Camarillo entry of Jeff Peach and Charles Zehmer lead a field of 13 area two-man teams qualifying for the 22nd Southern California Golf Association Four-Ball Net Championship, scheduled for Sept. 19-20. The Peach/Zehmer team combined for a 12-under 60 to lead all entries in a first-stage qualifying tournament at Soule Park GC in Ojai.
Recently retired Hart High of Newhall boys' golf coach Dennis Ford hasn't strayed too far from the course. Ford, a former Vista Valencia men's club champion, sits as third alternate for the 24th SCGA Senior Amateur Championship after an 8-over-par effort in a first-stage qualifier at Talega GC in San Clemente. William Brooks of Simi Valley, Paul Kay of Encino and Ronald Gonzalez of Sylmar were among the Talega qualifiers for the SCGA Senior Amateur, scheduled for Sept. 24-25 at Victoria Club in Riverside.
Matthew Lane of Agoura Hills, who holds course records at Calabasas Country Club (63) and the East Course at Tarzana's Braemar CC (61), finished second in the State Open. His 72-68-75-73-278 on the par-72 Champions Course at PGA of Southern California GC at Oak Valley was three shots back of winner Michael Block of Palm Desert.
ON THE GREEN
Air Canada Championship at Surrey, British Columbia
Course: Northview Golf and Country Club (7,065 yards, par 71)
Schedule: Today through Sunday
Purse: $3.4 million, $612,000 to winner
TV: ESPN (today-Friday, noon-3 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m.)
State Farm Classic at Springfield, Ill.
Course: The Rail Golf Club (6,403 yards, par 72)
Schedule: Today through Sunday
Purse: $1 million, $150,000 to winner
TV: ESPN2 (Friday, 10 a.m.-noon; Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.); and ESPN (Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)
SENIOR PGA TOUR
Kroger Senior Classic at Mason, Ohio
Course: Jack Nicklaus Sports Center in Kings Island, Grizzly Course (6,639 yards, par 70)
Schedule: Friday through Sunday
Purse: $1.5 million, $225,000 to winner
TV: PAX (Friday, 10 a.m.-noon) and CNBC (Saturday-Sunday, 3-5 p.m.)
1 Tiger Woods 68.62
2 Vijay Singh 68.94
3 Davis Love III 69.05
4 Sergio Garcia 69.13
1 Annika Sorenstam 69.43
2 Se Ri Pak 69.81
3 Karrie Webb 69.96
4 Rosie Jones 70.12
1 Gil Morgan 69.21
2 Hale Irwin 69.26
3 Allen Doyle 69.48
4 Bruce Fleisher 69.51
The 25-year-old superstar all but clinched his fourth Player of the Year award in five seasons by outlasting Jim Furyk in seven playoff holes to win the World Golf Championship NEC Invitational at Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio.
ON THE GREEN (see text)