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Pros Want Hope Site Switched

Times Staff Writer

The PGA West apparently couldn’t care less if there’s a decision to use the Arnold Palmer Course instead of the tougher, much criticized Stadium Course in the Bob Hope Classic next January.

An Associated Press story Friday said that PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman had asked the Hope tournament directors to switch to the easier Palmer Course, also a part of the PGA West complex, for the 90-hole event that is played on four courses in the Palm Springs area.

According to AP, Beman made his request after 50 touring pros, in a closed meeting here earlier this week, had unanimously expressed a desire to play the Palmer Course instead of the Stadium Course.

Apparently, the final decision will be up to the sponsors of the Hope tournament.

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Beman, who said that the players’ meeting was only part of the reason for the request to change courses, also cited new construction work near the Stadium Course, which would cause a parking problem. One of the players’ complaints was that the Stadium Course was too difficult for the amateurs who play as partners with the pros. This, they said, made for slow play.

The Stadium Course will still be the site of the Skins Game, an annual golf match designed specifically for television.

Walter F. Probst, president and chairman of the Hope tournament, said in a prepared statement: “Deane Beman has suggested to our board that we drop the PGA West Stadium Course and consider the Arnold Palmer Course as a possible substitution. The board will consider the suggestion.”

Joe Walser Jr., president and project director of PGA West, said in Palm Desert that no request had been received by the complex to switch courses.

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“It doesn’t make any difference to us, as long as they use one of our courses,” Walser said. “I can’t beat the people off with a stick who want to play the Stadium Course. We are booked up for months with a long waiting list.

“We aren’t worried about players losing interest because the pros don’t want to play on it.

“We have eight courses in the area, and more people want to play the Stadium than all the rest. Switching courses for the Hope would not present a problem.”

Although both said they had not attended the meeting in which the players said they wanted the switch in courses, Corey Pavin and Craig Stadler had opposing views on the possible change.

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“I’m not against playing the Stadium Course,” said Pavin, who won the Hope tournament last January. “I wasn’t at the meeting, but I like the course.”

Stadler, who scored his first tour victory in 1980 at the Hope, said he would like to see the competition revert to the courses used before the PGA West site was added.


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