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SCGA Field Aims to Impact Hacienda's Environment


In the parlance of the players, the Hacienda Golf Club in La Habra Heights is a ball-tracker's course.

The site of the 95th Southern California Golf Assn. Amateur Championship, which begins at 7 a.m. today and includes nearly two dozen players with area ties, isn't particularly long, hilly, hazard-heavy or punitive. However, because Hacienda was constructed in 1919-20, a premium is placed on accuracy.

It definitely doesn't fit the cookie-cutter mold of the many lengthy, tricked-up contemporary courses. No island greens, few railroad ties. It's au naturel.

"That's what makes it a great golf course," said Andy Thuney, the head pro at Hacienda. "They were more into target golf then. They worked around the natural environment.

"If they only had 350 yards to work with (while building) a hole, they made you lay up."

In fact, long-ball hitters need not apply. Players in the 92-man field would be well-advised to leave their woods in the bag on as many as four driving holes on the 6,650-yard, par-70 layout.

The 17th hole, a relatively short par five for members, has been converted to a 470-yard par four for the tournament. Thuney said no other alterations have been made--with the notable exception of the rough.

The Hacienda rough typically is mown on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. This week, it hasn't been mown and could approach a wrist-jarring five inches in length in certain places, Thuney said.

Hacienda has more than a few parallels to the storied Riviera Country Club. Hacienda, like Riviera, meanders through a hidden valley and has quite a few stands of eucalyptus trees. Thuney said members sometimes refer to Hacienda as "Riviera East." Not surprisingly, both courses were built in the same period.

In all, there are 20 players with ties to the region entered in the event. The tournament is the second-oldest continually contested amateur championship in the nation and includes many PGA Tour standouts among its past champions.

Entrants will play 36 holes today, after which the field will be trimmed to the low 42 players plus ties. The field will play 18 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday.

A handful of players from the region earned one of 28 automatic exemptions based on past play. Players from the area include top college standouts, a former PGA Tour pro who regained his amateur status and one top senior player.

Automatic qualifiers include Don Baker of Canoga Park, a former touring pro who regained his amateur status; Jason Gore of Valencia and University of Arizona, the Pacific 10 Conference individual champion; Paul Ladin of Westlake Village, the 1993 State Senior Amateur champion; Jim Tassano of Camarillo, who placed in the top five at the SCGA Mid-Amateur last year; left-hander Mike Turner of Woodland Hills, a four-time Southern California Public Links champion; Chad Wright of Ventura, a sophomore from USC; and Charlie Wi of North Hills and California, the 1990 State Amateur champion.

Sixty-four players earned berths through regional qualifying events. Area players who qualified via this route include Jamey Forsyth of Chatsworth, who advanced to the match-play portion of the State Amateur; Lawrence O'Neil of Camarillo and the University of Houston; and Kelly Schlender of Ventura College, the state junior college individual champion.

Stanford-bound Tiger Woods of Cypress is playing in the SCGA for the first time. Woods is a three-time U.S. Junior Amateur champion. Steve Woods of Upland, the newly crowned State Amateur champion, also is entered.

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