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January 3, 2020

Dana Garmany

Bill Coore

Ben Crenshaw

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

KRIS STRAUSS: Aloha. My name is Kris Strauss. I'm with Troon and Kapalua, and I would like to welcome you to the press conference that we're going to have this afternoon with Dana Garmany, our chairman and founder of Troon, and the golf course architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. So I'm going to open it up first with some opening statements from each gentleman. Dana, do you want to lead us off and explain the project and refinements and what was just completed with ownership and all that we are seeing unfolding this week?

DANA GARMANY: Yeah, thanks, Kris. It's a delight to be here with everybody, and certainly I feel like it's almost like a Beatles reunion tour with these guys here, and I think a lot of the original people that were involved came back, so it really was sort of a meeting of the best coming back and sort of reinvigorating the place a little bit. So we're really excited to be involved.

We think the golf course long-term is going to accomplish a better challenge for the players and maybe a little bit easier for the average guy as over time the ball should propel more and more as the golf course gets firmer, more top-dressing and so forth, and we get some more sand down there.

But we're excited about how it turned out. These guys did a great job and we loved working with them. They're consummate professionals, and they always do a wonderful job. I will say this: I did see a picture of them as they did it. They did look a little bit different. They were young men back then. It was hard to -- very young men, and it's a pleasure to be here, and I'll turn it over to these guys.

BILL COORE: Are you insinuating we are no longer young? It was a long time ago, Dana. I think for Ben and me, it's been both an interesting and wonderful experience to be able to come back to Kapalua, a place where our design company's career was basically launched, this being one of the first two courses that we designed that actually opened for play, and that was a long, long time ago, as we say. We actually began building the course 30 years ago. It opened, I think, 28 years ago.

It was just time. It was time to do some work on the course. As you might imagine, like all of us, Ben and I look different than we did then. The golf course had been a living, breathing, growing thing for all those years, never having winter here, never with the grass going into dormancy. It was constantly growing. And through that process, the fairways got much softer, much slower, the golf course played considerably different, actually quite the opposite of its original intent, which was to be able to use the ground to access the greens, to get balls on the ground using the ground with the wind to get to certain positions on the greens.

That had been lost, which in turn made it easier for the very best players in the world and more difficult, we thought, for the resort players who were coming here to have fun. That was one of our primary intents in this, and it was, as Dana said, Mother Nature has decreed now that we won't find out whether that goal was attained this week, but hopefully in the future. But it was a wonderful experience.

I think for me and probably for you, Ben, one of the most interesting parts of this work that we did this summer was the fact that two of the fellows who worked with us building this golf course 30 years ago came back to work on it for the work that was done this summer. They were in their early 20s then, they're now in their 50s. But it has a special place, Kapalua, for us.

BEN CRENSHAW: It's an understatement to say that I'm sentimental about Kapalua, because first of all, I got married here 34 years ago. Bill and I, our partnership is 34 years. I made two really good decisions then, okay.

But you know, Mark Rolfing was so much a part of this. He hired us. Maui Land and Pineapple back then was the entity, and I'll tell you what, we cannot be happier with Troon, Troon management. They've got so much expertise across the world of how to handle a place, any given place anywhere in the world, and you know, graciously the owner let us do this. PGA TOUR was involved.

We are very, very happy and I'm very thankful that the crews that worked very hard this summer with us, it came all to fruition. Julie and I came in yesterday. I saw some of the first TV images last night, and it did look very pretty. So we are very happy.

I did a lot of thinking last night about the caliber of golfer who plays the TOUR now, and those of us who played in the gutta percha era back then, there's a vast difference in how the game is played. It very much came into our focus what things we could do to make this course more interesting but not play tougher. I mean, these guys will figure it out. I think maybe the toughest thing that they're going to have to do this week is to read a different set of greens because the breaks will be maybe a little more -- maybe a little less break than before. The greens have calmed down a bit, meaning that you can use a heck of a lot more pin placements now. And I think you'll see some interesting play go on in that regard.

Yes, we had a very nice opportunity at No. 3 and No. 9 to back the tees up just a little bit. They're in the same vicinity. It was very easy to build. And we thought, yeah, you know -- in No. 9's case, especially being a par-5 with a big gorge out there, we had some instances where downwind these last four or five years that guys would tee off with a 5-iron. So we could back that up a bit and make it a little bit more of a par-5 out of it.

I think No. 3 will make a pretty significant difference because that hole plays upwind a lot. So you'll have a different second shot into that green.

10 is a nice added arrangement. That tee box is back and to the left. Not far, but it's a much different angle. Looks prettier.

But personally in my case, I know maybe it's in Bill's, No. 10 green and No. 13 green were probably the most two problematic greens on the course. 10 was on a side hill, and 13 was, too, but it's perched way up, so we broke them up into different contours. I think that they'll be much more fun to play, and the ball will hold a little bit better in certain compartments. Some of those things.

And the 5th hole with the little bitty sentinel bunker in the middle of the fairway, and there's all sorts of things that come to mind -- and we very seriously considered that hole just to be a par-4 and not do anything with it, with the way people can hit the ball these days. We said, well, all right, if it stays a 5 -- it's one of the widest corridors on the golf course. So we thought, well, let's think about this, and it was actually Bill's idea by watching play go out off the tee, and in a certain spot out there centrally located, there's 40, 50 yards to the right of that to the gorge. We thought, okay, if it's a 5, there must be something to think about off that tee. And always came back with the -- in my addled brain about St. Andrews. There's so many central bunkers at St. Andrews, and Dr. MacKenzie was asked about that. I said, well, Dr. MacKenzie there's a lot of bunkers on the bee line out here, and he said, well, they're centrally located but it takes a special effort to avoid them. I thought, well, that's a pretty good way to look at it. So it's strategic that way. It doesn't happen many times on the golf course. So we'll see how it goes this week.

Depending on the nature of the ground and how far the balls run out, where the wind is coming from, we'll see if it puzzles them. We'll see. But I don't think the course will play that much differently. On occasion, yeah, maybe one or two more irons into the greens, but I've always said that maybe the first four or five players this week that finish will have hit good approach shots.

You know, it's wonderful to see them hit the ball a mile, and I enjoy watching that, too. But it's what they do with the approach shots and positioning themselves, where to putt from on these new greens. And you'll see some of them will be sharper with their approaches, and I think those are the guys who will be more on top this week. I firmly believe that.

You know, I must say, another thing, too, it's not very often that a company like Sentry makes a commitment like this. I didn't know anything about this until I got off the plane yesterday. I said, you know what, Sentry just -- 10 years, wow, that's pretty amazing. My hat's off to them.

We know the players enjoy being here. I do, too, but the players really enjoy it. It means something to them that they've won a tournament during the year. That's the only way you can get in. That's pretty nice. We're happy to see all of you here, but I hope the wind intensifies, dries out the course a little bit, and we'll have fun watching it.

Q. When you guys designed this place, I know it was earlier in your careers, what were the challenges unique to the place, to the property, because of the dramatic terrain?
BEN CRENSHAW: That was it. Wind, slope and change of elevation. And to consider who's going to play the course and how many -- when we started, it was sort of said that we need to have 50,000 rounds of golf played out here. So I mean, every course that Bill and I do, you have to keep the average golfer in mind, those people who support the course whenever the TOUR leaves, whenever these fine players leave.

I will say this, that we would not have routed the course any differently than what it is now. Now, we made every effort to accommodate lesser handicapped people because of its width -- first of all, we had to match the scale of the property. The scale is enormous on this course. So to do anything sort of in a small endeavor wouldn't look right. It wouldn't fit.

So yes, it's accommodating, it's inviting, and like Bill said earlier, we envisioned the ball running. And what that means is we think that's a great help to the average golfer if you can put the ball towards the objective and it can run on. I think an exciting thing for a lot of people who play here is to let the ball, whether they planned it or not, whether the ball goes towards the objective and lands 40 yards out in front or runs up there and runs up by the hole, I don't know what could be more exciting that way. Yeah, it takes a little getting used to, but that's the nature of this property. There's not many holes that fall 100 feet like No. 17.

As I said, we tried to keep everybody in mind in building this course.

BILL COORE: I think, too, like you just alluded to, the property is severe. This is very severe property. There's 500 feet of elevation change between like 17 tee and down near 2 green. So how do you take that much slope and that much wind and create a situation where you can actually enjoy playing golf? And that was probably the biggest challenge. And with all the land forms being very much like fingers on a hand, with canyons, there were these peninsulas basically or ridges of land running towards the sea and then the canyons coming parallel to those back upward. It made for a pretty challenging situation to try to build golf.

I think Ben and I both, we've had the conversation. People say, what would you do differently if you had it to do over again today, and I truly don't think we'd do too much differently. As Ben said, with all the wind and all the elevation change, you imagine where golf balls go when they're launched high above where they're going to land, or in some cases, the reverse of that. You have to create expansive targets and create situations where people can keep the ball in play and keep moving forward. That's what we tried to do.

DANA GARMANY: If you think about how exciting the Hawai'i legs or the two legs of the TOUR are, you're probably playing on two of the most dramatically different golf courses back-to-back. You're playing sort of in a phone booth, Seth Raynor golf course really tied together, and then the scale of this place, and you go back-to-back with two completely different styles of golf courses. It's really exciting to watch, that's for sure.

BEN CRENSHAW: I love that golf course, Waialae. I know all those palm trees by name out there. I've hit them -- but I love that -- we love the layout so much. But you're right, they're two completely different tests of golf. It's fun to watch. It's fun -- those of us who have been here can watch both sets of problems and see what happens.

Q. Gentlemen, when you and I and Matt, our photographer, sat down with May with Mark, I believe it was May, this place didn't look anywhere near being ready. Was there some trepidation along the way during the nine-month renovation, and how pleased are you with what we have now?
BILL COORE: Well, I think to answer for Ben and I, yes, there was concern. This was a huge project scheduled within a very tight time frame. It would not have taken much to go wrong for us to be sitting here talking about some real problems. And so to be able to see what has happened and the end result of that is extremely gratifying, and that's due, again -- I hate bragging on this guy too much, Kris and the other guys at Troon, but Ron Despain who managed Troon Golf Management's construction process in this, and of course Andrew Rebmon, the superintendent here, what they did was extraordinary, keeping this golf course -- the construction phase of this going on time, on schedule, and Alex Nakajima, the general manager here, as he reminded me a couple of days ago on the phone, he said, we actually finished this project on time, under budget, which for Hawai'i is quite an accomplishment.

DANA GARMANY: We could be at the Bay golf course today as a matter of fact if things had gone the wrong way.

Q. Ben, first of all, the golf ball goes so far now. How does -- when you approach any design project, how does that manifest itself in the design without strictly making a golf course long? What do you do to combat the length of the golf ball? Maybe Bill has a thought, too.
BEN CRENSHAW: It's getting increasingly difficult to think about those things. Really we wrestle with it quite a bit. We haven't had so many projects that would be planned for a TOUR event, but you know, to -- there's such a gulf now between let's say what I used to hit it and what these guys hit it now. I mean, we're talking -- well, Dan Pohl was my contemporary. He led the driving statistic one year with I think it was about 268 or 270. And I mean, he could hit it. I mean, now over half these guys can pitch the ball 300 yards. So okay, what do you do?

You don't want to have a situation where you build 14 different tee boxes out there for people, so many times the integrity of a hole or what it's intended to be can get skewed. And a lot of times when we go to a golf course and renovate, which we don't do that many times, what happens, nine times out of ten the membership -- we've got to go straight back with these tees. All right, well, that's one thing. But a lot of times you don't stay on that particular line, and you go off somewhere else and then you create a different angle, it starts getting skewed.

But that's a knee-jerk reaction. I must say, our friend who I think the world of is J.W. Nicklaus, has never deterred one time about his opinion about the golf ball. And you know what? When he speaks you've got to listen. I do.

DANA GARMANY: Should have listened to him a long time ago. I wish they had.

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, but -- I'm not going to go out on a limb here and say it's a growing chorus, but it's being spoken about a little bit more. It's blasphemous to say, but you know what, you consider the last 20 years and say how much money around the world has been spent retrofitting golf courses, and you just go, whoa. That is absolutely astronomical.

DANA GARMANY: In some cases you're maintaining 10 or 12 extra acres of turf, those back tees and the surroundings you're having to play from that you're only using seven to ten days a year because nobody can play from back there except for that elite player. Obviously an analogy, if a baseball got hot, would you go build 32 new baseball fields or would you change the ball. But in golf we seem to say, let's just keep redoing the golf courses. It seems crazy.

BEN CRENSHAW: That's right. Well, another thing, these guys are athletes. They're real athletes. I've got to chuckle, I talked to Dave Stockton, my friend, not long ago, and he said, you know something, Ben? He said, the caddies today are in much better shape than we were. I thought, well, that's a good way to look at it.

DANA GARMANY: Because it's all those skinny pants they wear out there. It's crazy. You know, there's a great Nicklaus story. I was telling Jack this and just watched his blood boil, but Nicklaus broke Hogan's U.S. Open record at Baltusrol in '67 and he birdied 17 and he got to 18 and he hit a big pull-hook, so he was tied with Hogan. He pull-hooks into the rough, he gouges an 8-iron back into the fairway, 237 yards to the pin, it's a 1-iron, makes the putt, breaks the record. There's a plaque there. The players last time they were at Baltusrol dropped 5-irons and stuffed it on the green from there. Jack had pretty good club head speed, so it's the ball primarily.

Q. I'd like to go back to the decisions you made refining the course. Over the last 30 years the winds have changed substantially. Did those changes influence some of the decisions you made?
BILL COORE: Well, I think originally we tried to lay out the course in such a way that the ground, again, the slopes particularly leading to the greens could be utilized both as a defense but also as a help for accessing certain portions of the greens, and that was given whichever way the wind would go. If it was downwind, you could land the ball far short of the greens and let the slope -- if you land it in the proper position, allow the slope to carry your ball on to the putting surfaces. If it was into the wind, it allowed the best players particularly in the world to play low-trajectory shots that then would tumble on to the green. So we felt like that by laying out the course to take the best advantage of the natural elements, which as Ben said earlier, were slope, elevation and the wind direction, then it would work either way.

BEN CRENSHAW: The dominant thought, though, was trade wind most of the time. But things change. No. 9, that was that was amazing that one year, where wow, I said, God, what -- so that's one of the reasons why we could do that change on the back. So the TOUR staff has more of an option to pick from.

KRIS STRAUSS: Thank you all, and they'll be up here for a few more minutes if you have individual questions, as well.

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