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Tour Confidential: Bubba's Return, Olympic Golf and a Tiger-less Match Play

Ian Poulter
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Ian Poulter is considered one of the toughest match-play competitors in the sport.

5. Which format is better at identifying the best golfer, match play or stroke play?

BAMBERGER: Stroke play, by far. If PGA Tour events were 90 holes instead of 72, Woods would have 90 wins by now. Match play is great for us, and it's way more fun, but it's fluky.

LYNCH: Stroke play identifies the better player, but match play shows us the better competitor.

SENS: Stroke play. If match play were anywhere as good a barometer, this forum would be debating where Ian Poulter ranks among the all-time greats.

RITTER: Stroke play identifies the best golfer because you play the entire field at once, but I'd say match play is best for identifying the toughest competitor.

WALKER: Match play, because every day is Sunday.

VAN SICKLE: Match play is more fun to watch by a mile, but it's no way to determine a champion. A match-play champ has to beat six players, usually not including one of the top three players in the world. To win in stroke play, you've got to beat a full field, including Tiger Woods if he's playing, every day, over 72 holes. That's a far tougher task.

PASSOV: Stroke play is much better at identifying the best golfer. Make all your putts, keep the ball in play, execute smart recoveries. That said, match play is more fun to watch (at least in a close match) and more fun to play, but there's too much luck that can happen in match play to say that it identifies the best golfer over a week's competition.

SHIPNUCK: Stroke play will identify the best golfer, match play the gutsiest.

GODICH: Give me a 72-hole stroke-play event. I continue to be amazed at how Tour players are able to concentrate for four days. The potential danger the best player faces in match play is running into someone who gets hot for a round or even a six- or nine-hole stretch.

6. Our colleague Michael Bamberger wrote this week about playing a round at the storied Los Angeles muni Rancho Park. What’s your favorite muni or sleeper course?

PASSOV: I'm partial to Pacific Grove Links, the Poor Man's Pebble Beach. It's an easy walk, costs less than $50 and features a back nine complete with deer, dunes, ocean views and a lighthouse. Even cooler and more remote is another California track, Northwood, an Alister MacKenzie-designed nine-holer in Monte Rio that zigzags in and out of enormous redwoods. It's only minutes down the road from Korbel, making it easy to celebrate your round with some tasty sparkling wine.

SENS: Gleneagles, a nine-holer just south of San Francisco, is a great little track with a time-capsule of a clubhouse and a new set of greens that rank among the best in the area. Story is that Lee Trevino called it the best nine-hole course he ever played. Hard to verify that, but it's definitely among the best I've seen. A little farther west -- five hours across the Pacific, I mean -- Kahuku golf course on Oahu is as charming as they come. Great ocean views, low-key island vibe. With a bit of cosmetic work, it wouldn't be a sleeper anymore.

SHIPNUCK: Pacific Grove Muni, which is great fun, an easy walk, and has a glorious back nine in the dunes, all of it set to the soundtrack of barking sea lions.

BAMBERGER: The Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland, followed by the Bellport Country Club course in Bellport, L.I., where I was a junior member in the 1970s, for $50 a year.

GODICH: I played my first junior tournament at Stevens Park in Dallas in the late '60s. I was 9 or 10. It was match play, nine holes. I got to the semifinals before losing to a kid named Mike, 1 up. Our parents walked with us. I remember taking seven shots to get out of a bunker on one hole. (Who knew what a concession was?) Stevens is a quirky layout tucked into a neighborhood in Oak Cliff. But I've been back to play it a few times over the years, reliving those childhood memories along the way. The place underwent a redesign in 2011. Can't wait to get back.

WALKER: The nine-hole course at Highland Links in Truro on Cape Cod has some of the best ocean views in golf, and at $35 to walk, you’ve got money left over for oysters and beer at the Wellfleet Beachcomber.

LYNCH: Does the Old Course count? I played many rounds at Van Cortlandt Park golf course in the Bronx, the oldest muni in America. The fairways were hardpan, the greens were shaggy, the architecture was nondescript, but I had a lot of fun there. I can still recall every hole in detail, despite not having played it in a decade. That's because I had plenty of time to memorize it since every round took six hours. I'll play it again some day, when I develop a tolerance for glacial play.

RITTER: Every July, the Ritter family takes a quick trip to northern Michigan, and the itinerary includes at least one round at Hemlock Golf Club, outside a great little beach town called Ludington. The course rolls over and along the sand dunes near Lake Michigan, it's immaculate, it's interesting, and you can play it for less than $40. What else do you want?

VAN SICKLE: It's been more than 20 years since I first wrote about the Pacific Grove municipal course, right up the road off 17-Mile Drive from Spanish Bay and Pebble Beach. It's got dunes, a lighthouse, ice plant, ocean views, quirky holes, scrawny deer, and did I mention ocean views? I still consider it the most fun course per dollar in America. Would you rather play 10 rounds at Pacific Grove or one at Pebble Beach for the same money? I know my answer.

The Tour Confidential roundtable continues Monday on our new weekly show hosted by Jessica Marksbury. Tweet her your questions @Jess_Marksbury.

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