Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus set to try par-3 course in Champions Tour tournament

06/04/2014 11:13 AM

06/04/2014 11:13 AM

A par-3 course will be used in an official pro golf tournament for the first time this week, and the game’s top stars and officials hope it will lead to increased participation in the sport.

The Top of the Rock par-3 course in Ridgedale, Mo., will be used for part of the Champions Tour’s Big Cedar Legends of Golf tournament Friday through Sunday. Players will also test the Buffalo Ridge Springs Course.

Jack Nicklaus is playing with Gary Player in the Legends Division for participants 65 and over, and he believes Top of the Rock will prove enjoyable to the players and will highlight the benefits of playing par-3 courses.

“We’re at an important juncture in the evolution of our game,” Nicklaus said. “We need to embrace innovation, new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking that inspires people to get off the couch and play this great game. We need to come up with new golf experiences. We need to think in terms of shorter, faster, and more fun.”

Kansas City’s Tom Watson said par-3 courses are good for players who don’t have time to play a longer course.

“Familes and kids barely have time to consider golf,” Watson said, “but a nine-hole par-3 course is a perfect option to get started in the game.”

Participants will play one round at Buffalo Ridge and one at Top of the Rock during the first two days of the tournament, and all the action will be at Top of the Rock on Sunday.

Top of the Rock, which will play about 1,500 yards, sits high above Table Rock Lake and has been called a celebration of nature, the Ozarks and the game of golf.

“If there was ever a par-3 course worthy of PGA Tour tournament play, Top of the Rock is it,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.

This weekend’s schedule

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Big Cedar Legends of Golf. Friday through Sunday in Ridgedale, Mo. TV: Golf Channel (Friday, 9:30 a.m..; Saturday and Sunday, 3:30 p.m.).

PGA TOUR: St. Jude Classic. Thursday through Sunday in Memphis, Tenn. TV: Golf Channel (today and Friday, 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon) and CBS (Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.).

LPGA TOUR: Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. Thursday through Sunday in Waterloo, Ontario. TV: Golf Channel (today, 11 a.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.; Saturday amd Sunday, 2 p.m.).

WEB.COM TOUR: Cleveland Open. Thursday throungh Sunday in Westlake, Ohio. TV: Golf Channel (Thursday and Friday, 5:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 6 p.m.).

Players to watch

TOM PERNCIE JR.

Pernice, from Kansas City, won the Principal Charity Classic last week in Iowa for his third title. He’ll team this week with Bob Tway in the Legends of Golf.

TOM WATSON

Watson is playing with Andy North in the Legends of Golf. They have won four titles in the history of the event.

PHIL MICKELSON

Mickelson is winless in 19 PGA Tour events since the British Open in July but hopes to get hot before next week’s U.S. Open.

To reach Tom Smith, call 816-234-4240 or send email to tomsmith@kcstar.com.

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