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March 11, 2003

Arthur Hills


GARY FERMAN: Okay. We have the pleasure of being joined today by Arthur Hills, who is the designer of the Sunset Course here at Mirasol, which will be playing host to the tournament this year.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to let Arthur talk a little bit about the project and the elements that went into the design and his work with Mirasol, and then what we will do is we will open up to questions about the specific holes, what he anticipates will be happening in the tournament and that sort of thing.

So, Arthur, if you could get it going by talking a little bit about the project.

ARTHUR HILLS: Thank you, Gary.

Well, first we started out, we were working with Taylor Woodrow and with Craig Turner, who is in the room here, on the layout of the golf course as it related to the residential community, which essentially is where we started. We started with a residential community here, and the golf course needs to compliment that residential community and has complimented that residential community to the extent that it's been popular with the people who have bought into the community and it's off to a great start. So that's one aspect of it, not directly related to this tournament.

But, as far as the golf course, I was thinking a little bit about it, I might talk to you about, it's interesting that it's maybe characterized as not too long a golf course, yet it's 7,150 yards, which tells you something about what's happening with the game today when a 7,150-yard golf course is kind of medium length, not very long.

This golf course starts out in the range of 390 to 415 (-yard holes). I imagine that somebody could be 4-under par at the end of four holes on this golf course because they are going to be hitting probably a 3-wood and a 9-iron or 8-iron in on those holes.

However, it is a shot-makers golf course. They have got to put the ball in the right place in the fairway on those holes, and they need to not hit it right, because if they hit it right a little, they are going to be in trouble on several of the early holes on the golf course.

The greens are small. The greens are very subtly contoured, but there are three or four cupping areas on each green, very subtly defined, but it makes a big difference whether you get it to the right part of the green or not. That's probably some of the resistance to scoring to be found in the golf course.

The big thing here will be the wind. If there's wind, then the scores will be a little higher. If there's no wind, you know, these guys are so good at what they do, that they are going to shoot some low scores.

It might be that they would shoot 20-, 21-, 22-under par because there are a lot of birdie opportunities out there, if they are able to control the length of their shots.

That's about it to start.

GARY FERMAN: Okay. We'll open it up to questions.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ARTHUR HILLS: I think we've had about eight or nine courses played on the Tour, if you can count the Senior Tour, as well as the regular Tour. Eagle Trace, the original site of the Honda Classic, and we went to Heron Bay and now they have come here.

They have played in Atlanta at the golf club of Georgia. They have played at Egypt Valley (ph) outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. That's another place that I can't recall or think about right at this moment.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ARTHUR HILLS: I think the right thing was to build a golf course where the people are going to live here and enjoy it all year long versus once a week.

We certainly might have incorporated in some places a bit more gallery area, but other than that, this golf course is well-suited to the people that play it all the time and the people that are going to live here, and that's what's really the key to this golf course and a lot of other golf course.

Besides, there's a huge dichotomy in this game and it's becoming more and more obvious. You have 99 percent of the people that play golf that are delighted to play 5,200 yards or 6,400 yards or 5,500; then you have this fraction of players who can adapt to the equipment and hit the ball 350 yards.

I was watching Ernie Els play in that Dubai tournament last week. He made a double-bogey on 12 and he got up there and the announcer said, "Well, he had a little bit of anger in that drive; he hit it 450 yards." What's that got to be with all of the golf courses in North America? Not very much. It's got something to do with a few guys on the Tour, but that's it. And not to discount the importance of the Tour, I think the Tour is a very important part and it's really a great tournament and we have a great field of golfers here, what is it, 11 of the Top-20 or 25 players. It's a real strong field. It's going to be fun to watch them maybe break records, but that's what's happening in every sport. So that doesn't bother me too much.

The only thing that I think this golf course does put a little bit more emphasis on is shot-making than it does on length because there are places where they stand up there and beat that ball 330 yards or something like that, it would be off the fairway out of play, where they are probably going to use a 3-wood off the tee a lot out here and get out there 280, 290, whatever, and still have a short shot into the greens.

But it's definitely going to be a shot-makers hinge. A guy who has a good all-around game this week is going to win. A guy who is the longest hitter is not going to have as big an advantage as he has on some courses.

Q. Do you have a specific hole on this course that you really like?

ARTHUR HILLS: I like the 16th hole a lot. It's a classic. It's got three little small bunkers in front of the green. It's got a cupping area just over those bunkers. There's a little plateau way at the back of the green, a fall-out to the middle right of the green and it's got some cupping up the left side.

The green itself, it's ground a little bit, it's a very traditional hole. It looks like it could be from Winged Foot or something like that. It's just a regular, classic golf hole. I like that hole a lot.

Also, I like the 4th hole. I think the 4th hole is a pretty neat par 4. It's got a big mounding, and if you hit over that mounding and you go down there, then you have a relatively short shot, but you can get some really awkward lies, with the ball below your feet, that kind of thing.

So those are a couple of holes I really think of right off the bat. There are a lot of attractive golf holes on this course.

Q. If there's no wind --

ARTHUR HILLS: If there's no wind, it doesn't matter where you put those pins, they are going to hit it right down the flagstick.

GARY FERMAN: I don't know if you guys know, but a few holes of the golf course winds through the preserve area. I thought one of them that was pretty special was the 5th hole; right, Arthur?

ARTHUR HILLS: The 5th hole is a pretty interesting hole. It's a big advantage to hit a good drive down the left side of the fairway and have an opening to the green, big advantage to that.

The forced carries are not meaningful to those guys, but hitting the ball in the right direction off the tee makes a big difference.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ARTHUR HILLS: The 17th hole is similar. It's only a 515 par-5. Probably they are going to hit a 3-wood off that tee, though, because if they hit that ball out there at 330 yards or something, it gets very narrow, very risky. If they hit a shot out there 285 or 300, they are going to be able to hit a long iron onto that green. It will probably be some 3s on that par 5 hole this week.

Q. Will we see a fair amount of drama on 17 because of the eagle possibilities for everybody?

ARTHUR HILLS: Well, there's a good chance for a swing there. If they push the drive or pull the driver at all, which they hardly ever do. They might push one once in awhile, but then they can make a switch or something. So there's a chance for a couple-stroke swing on that hole, definitely.

No. 5, I'm going to be interested to see what happens on No. 5. There's a bunker out there at 290 that can be carried. I didn't really anticipate that when we were putting the golf course together, that they were going to be carrying it, but now they are, when it is downwind.

If they hit it out there, say, 325, which is conceivable, 300 yards in, how many guys are going to go for that green? The green is right beside the water. How many guys are going to go for that green, or are they just going to tee it up and play it as a three-shot hole? It will be interesting to see. The guys that were playing it this morning as a three-shot hole, Craig was telling me that Todd Beringer, who played yesterday hit a drive and a 3-wood on to the green. That's two pretty fancy shots.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ARTHUR HILLS: I like this course a whole lot. I've got eight kids. I don't really make comparisons among the courses that we do.

I do like the course a lot. I think it's really a very enjoyable golf course to play. And it really rewards good thinking and good shot-making. And you can hit a shot slightly hot and still be able to go and hit it again. I think that's an important thing.

I like the greens. The greens are quite small. They are subtle Lee contoured but not severely. There's not going to be feedback or anything like that. The bunkering is attractive. It's cut in. All of the bunkers are kind of enclosed and housed, which I think adds to the beauty of the golf course.

But to compare it to others, you're not going to get me to do that.

Q. What do you think is the toughest hole?

ARTHUR HILLS: The toughest hole, I don't know, Craig, what do you think is the toughest hole?

18 is a long par 4, and you're down below the green and you're hitting your second shot up there, you've just got to see the flag, you can't really see all of the green circles. That's going to be a tough hole.

I would say that No. 5. I really don't think that the differential between par -- that there's going to be much differential between par and the aggregate score on that hole which is pretty unusual for a par 5. Usually they just chew those up. I guess it means that we designed at least one good hole out there. (Laughter.)

Q. (Inaudible.)

ARTHUR HILLS: I don't think so. At Eagle Trace, what happened at Eagle Trace was that in the early days, it was played a week or so later during the Equinox. The winds were whipping up like 35-mile-an-hour winds and all the way to the west, all the way to Naples, there was not a house in the way and the winds were very strong there.

And so there was a couple of holes that were pretty tough, the 7th hole which is a par 3, was a very tough par 3 in that wind because it had a very shallow green. That was probably the main thing.

Greg Norman made some comments about it, but otherwise, it was pretty well received overall. I don't know, maybe I could elaborate on that if I haven't answered your question.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ARTHUR HILLS: I was looking through the program and I noticed that the record for the Honda Classic set by Blaine McAllister, he shot 266 at Eagle Trace.

GARY FERMAN: Arthur, thank you very much for coming by.

End of FastScripts....

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