Inverness has hosted four U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, and a U.S. Amateur. A few of these tournaments have brought some notoriety to the course. In 1931, Billy Burke and George Von Elm were tied at the end of regulation play. After a 36-hole playoff, they were tied again. Billy Burke won the subsequent 36-hole playoff by one stroke. It still stands as the longest playoff in the history of golf.
The 1979 U.S. Open is remembered fondly because of a tree. The 528-yard eighth hole was designed as a classic three-shot par 5, with a severe dogleg left and five deep bunkers in proximity of the green. Where others saw trouble, Lon Hinkle saw an opportunity when he discovered, during practice, that nothing prevented a player from hitting a tee shot through a narrow opening of trees onto the adjacent 17th fairway, then lofting a long second shot over the trees onto the eighth green, a shortcut that cut 80 yards off the intended track. The USGA was not thrilled about his strategy, which compromised the integrity of the three-shot hole and the safety of the gallery on the 17th hole. After Hinkle revealed his shortcut on day one, a very tall tree was planted in the middle of the night to the left of the tee box to plug the gap. Today you can still see what is now fondly referred to as the Hinkle tree blocking the former route through the 17th fairway. The question still remains: Is it legal to alter a golf course during the course of a championship?
Inverness is well designed and challenging, but I favor courses that have beauty and terrific views. Yet for its challenge alone, this course deserves its spot on the Top 100, even if it lacks the magnificence of Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, or even Black Diamond Ranch. Larry Berle.
Date: October 06, 2014