By BURT ANGELI
IRON MOUNTAIN - If golfers want to keep a club in the bag for this week's U.P. men's championships, they might consider the driver when dealing with Pine Grove Country Club.
"People think you need to hit your driver here all the time and you really don't," said Scott Sanders, Pine Grove's club champion for the past two years. "You have to keep it between the tree lines, and hit fairways and greens.
"That's the way you score out here. It took me about 15 years to figure that out."
Sanders says, at most, he goes to the driver on four holes.
- Credit a greens roller for the true putts at Pine Grove.
Pine Grove pro Susie Fox noted the greens roller "will increase the pace of speed of the greens."
The greens roller, after the mowing and blowing, "compacts everything and so it's a little tighter than it would be otherwise," Fox said. "I don't know of a lot of courses in the U.P. that have a roller.
"It's been a nice addition to our maintenance equipment."
- It's not called Pine Grove for nothing, but golfers should not be intimidated by the trees.
"There's a very fair tree line that makes it visually narrow but it's not narrow by any stretch of the imagination," Fox said.
Fox said course conditions are "fabulous," with an irrigation system keeping things green despite the dry summer.
- Putting advice from Susie Fox, Pine Grove pro, former U.P. ladies champion and 1993 U.S. Open qualifier: "If you can keep in mind where the clubhouse is, and if you don't know where the putt is going to break, give it a shot toward the clubhouse."
- We're down to six former U.P. champions in the tournament, with Scott Erickson (1993, 1990, 1986, 1985) and Paul Raycroft (2010) no longer on the entry list. That leaves Dan Ellis (2011, 2006), Jon Ellis (2009), Tim Drees (2006), Matt Smith Jr. (2004), Mark Clements (2001, 1997) and Jackie Hooper (1988).
- U.P. Golf Association secretary-treasurer Dale Ward of Gaastra and Iron Mountain, along with Leon Waitrovich, Mike Massie and Brian Tirschel, teed off at 7:30 this morning to launch the tournament.
The 192-man field will be pared to 12 flights of 16 after Friday's round.
- Pine Grove Country Club last hosted the U.P. tournament in 1990. Craig Hatch was the Pine Grove pro back then, with 256 golfers in the field.
Hatch moved on to Hart Ranch Golf Course in Rapid City, South Dakota.
"I have been humbled to be consistently recognized in national publications such as Golf and Golf Digest Magazines as being South Dakota's finest instructor," Hatch was quoted on the Hart Ranch Golf Course Web site.