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Summer sun, rain have Annandale’s course playing tougher

Annandale Golf Club in Madison is again home to the Viking Classic, the PGA Tour’s only stop in Mississippi.

And due to the extraordinarily large amount of rainfall the Jackson area has gotten this summer, the course might play a little tougher, says Annandale general manager and director of golf Steven Christopher.

“The average winning score the past couple of years has been something like 19-under,” he said. “With all the rain we’ve had this year, the rough is going to be really thick so it might push that up to 12- or 13-under. The rough is going to be tough because of all the rain. Even with a stronger field this year, I really expect scores to rise.”

Tour knows what it wants

Per PGA specifications, the rough at Annandale will have to measure three inches in length. PGA officials generally want non-major tournament venues to have uniform specifications. Major tournaments are administered by varying governing bodes — for example, the United States Golf Association controls the layout and length of the U.S. Open Course. “The PGA Tour knows exactly what they want,” Christopher said. “So from that standpoint we try to accommodate them. But Mother Nature is going to take over to some degree.”

This year’s course at Annandale will play at just more than 7,000 yards over 18 holes.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed track opened in 1981 and was the state’s first world-class championship course. Its layout features rolling terrain with grassy bunkers modeled after Scotland’s famous courses.

Hitting the fairways

Christopher said players at the Viking Classic leave impressed with one particular facet of the course.

“We always get rave reviews about the fairways,” he said. “They like the layout. It generally rewards players who strike the ball well and punishes those who don’t. It will be really interesting to see what happens scoring-wise.”

Unlike a lot of tournament venues, Annandale will not be closed to its 300 members in the days leading up to the Viking, which officially begins September 15 and ends September 21. The players tee off Thursday, September 18. Before then, there will be several pro-ams, a junior pro-am and several events and giveaways held by the tournament’s sponsors. Along with title sponsor Viking Range, consortium sponsors are Entergy Mississippi, BankPlus, the Mississippi Development Authority and Canadian National Railway. Players will also play a few practice rounds before the scoring starts to count on the 18th.

Before then, though, Annandale members, all but approximately 50 of whom live in houses that surround the course, can play the course. This is pretty uncommon for most tournament courses. Although they pay exorbitant membership fees, members of Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., site of the Masters, can only play the course a few months out of the year.

But Annandale’s small membership size allows the course to stay open up until the Viking Classic starts.

“With a small membership volume, you’re not going to have a beat-up course,” Christopher said. “That help us keep it open, and it makes our membership happy.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .

About Clay Chandler

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