RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – It’s as good as they’ve ever seen it and perhaps as good as it has ever been. That’s the consensus of players and caddies on the condition of the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills.
“Firm, fast and in perfect shape,” Katherine Kirk said after playing the front nine on Monday afternoon. “It couldn’t be in better condition.”
Reigning Rolex LPGA Player of the Year Sei Young Kim agreed, saying, “This is a major championship course, and it looks like it. It’s firm and fast and in perfect condition.”
The staff at Mission Hills have the greens running at about 13-1/2 feet on a Stimpmeter and well-struck short irons from the fairway are releasing between five and 15 feet on the greens, sometimes farther. There’s a decided thump when balls hit the putting surfaces, like a boxer’s punch landing on a heavy bag, the kind of sound that brings a smile to the purist’s face. This is major championship golf at its best.
The rough is penal but playable, lush and green, in large part due to the absence of 100 eucalyptus trees that were cut down in the last 12 months, as well as some underbrush cleanup. Sunlight, air, warm temperatures and water (the Coachella Valley sits on an aquafer so big it cannot be measured, but the volume is in the trillions of gallons), have created the perfect environment for the season’s first major.
And it’s not just current players, who might not have the deepest of historical perspectives, who think that this is the best year ever. Patty Sheehan played the Tournament Course a week ago and tweeted that it was, indeed, as good as she had ever seen it.
I played the @ANAinspiration @MissionHillsCC1 recently and can honestly say the course is the best I’ve ever seen it! It’s perfect, flawless! It’s ready for the @LPGA to crown the first major winner of 2021‼️ 🍀 ladies‼️♥️🙏🏼💪🏽🍀— Patty Sheehan (@gr8parr) March 27, 2021
“It will only get firmer,” Kim said. “That is a good test. It’s a good test for a major.”