City of Austin's Roy Kizer golf course temporarily closing for greens project
The already tight tee sheets for Austin-area municipal golf courses will get a little tighter this week as Roy Kizer Golf Course closes down on Thursday for some much-needed work.
A green resurfacing project, similar to the one done at neighboring Jimmy Clay just over a year ago, will keep Kizer closed throughout the summer, according to Stephanie Arena, event coordinator for the City of Austin’s parks and golf department.
“It’s due,” Arena said of the project, which could keep the track closed until September. “The course needs the work.”
Back in May, nine of the holes on the complex which sits behind McKinney Falls State Park were closed to begin the work, but now the entire course will need to be shut off to the public to finish the project. The greens at Kizer are more than a quarter-century old and the renovation will remove mutations.
While the finished product should be much improved, this will make for a difficult summer for local players, who are already clamoring for places to play.
Arena said the city’s courses have seen 100,000 more rounds year-over-year and tee sheets are typically booked as soon as they're open to the public.
“Golf is booming,” she said. “We already have problems getting people out to play, so this will make it tougher over the summer. But like I said, it’s due.”
Omar Uresti to defend crown at Barton Creek
At 52, Omar Uresti became the second-oldest PGA Professional Championship winner last year when he took the title at the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Uresti was only behind Hall of Famer Sam Snead, who was 59 when he won in 1971, and the victory earned the Austin native a spot in the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island as well as six PGA Tour exemptions over the next year and a spot on the 2022 U.S. PGA Cup team.
But it also afforded the veteran of more than nearly 400 PGA Tour starts the chance to defend his title on home turf as the 2022 PGA Professional Championship is being held April 17-20, at the Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa.
Uresti, who went to Crockett High School and the University of Texas — where he twice earned All-America status — is part of an elite group of multiple winners of the event that includes Larry Gilbert (1981, 1982, 1991), Mike Small (2005, 2009, 2010), Roger Watson (1974, 1975), Tim Thelen (2000, 2003) and Matt Dobyns (2012, 2015).
“It’s pretty cool (to defend his Championship at home, in Austin), to sleep in my own bed and get some support here locally. You cannot put a price on that,” Uresti said.
Although you might expect Uresti to have a major advantage since he lives in town, he admitted he doesn’t often play the two (of four) courses on the property that will be used for the event — the Coore Crenshaw course and Fazio Foothills.
“I have not played the two golf courses as much as you’d think,” Uresti said. “At least not recently. I played them a lot when I was in college, when they were new, but that was a while back. I went out (last week), but the winds were up to 25 mph., so it was tough to get a good feel.
A number of past champions will make the trek to Austin with Alex Beach (2019), Rich Berberian Jr. (2016), Michael Block (2014), Dobyns, Scott Hebert (2008), Darrell Kestner (1996), Rod Rerry (2013), Ron Philo Jr. (2006), Jeff Roth (1993), Steve Schneiter (1995), Bill Schumaker (1984), Bob Sowards (2004) and Ryan Vermeer (2018) all joining Uresti at the PGA Professionals’ signature event, which offers a total purse of $675,000.
The Championship field will have a 36-hole cut Monday to the low 90 scorers and ties, and a 54-hole cut Tuesday to the low 70 scorers and ties. The low 20 scorers earn a berth in the 2022 PGA Championship, which will be played May 16-22 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
Scottie Scheffler’s high school coach enjoys moment
While Jeff Loyd was glued to his television in Dallas, his mind raced to his days as a PE teacher at Armstrong Elementary.
He taught all four Scheffler siblings, three girls — Callie, Sara and Molly — and one boy.
“The girls were all so sweet,” Loyd said. “Never caused me an ounce of trouble. It was only Scheff that I had to get onto.”
“I never liked calling him Scottie,” said Loyd, who was Scheffler’s golf coach at Highland Park High. “Ever since I can remember, he’s always been Scheff to me.”
Loyd witnessed Scheffler win three individual state titles at Highland Park, as well as a team championship in 2013, before the new Masters champ set off for college in Austin.
But it was at Armstrong Elementary where Loyd first witnessed Scottie’s competitive side.
“Dodgeball, kickball, it didn’t matter,” Loyd said. “Scheff hated losing — absolutely hated it. Then at Highland Park, he had a little temper at times, and I’d get onto him about that.
“There’s always a magnifying glass on us at Highland Park, so I was very strict on our teams.”
Loyd stays in touch with Scheffler, texting his former pupil after each Tour win.
When asked how he planned to celebrate Scheffler's Masters victory, Loyd said, “I’ll have two or three light beers.
Tim Schmitt is the managing editor for Golfweek, golf coordinator for the USA Today Network and lives in Round Rock. Doug Stutsman of the USA Today Network contributed to this report.