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  • After ball finds I-5, Quail Point alters hole

  • An extra stroke on a hole at Quail Point Golf Course wasn't worth the potential for a dangerous merging of golf ball and high-speed traffic.
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  • An extra stroke on a hole at Quail Point Golf Course wasn't worth the potential for a dangerous merging of golf ball and high-speed traffic.
    For that reason, the course's seventh hole, the No. 1-handicap hole which featured a narrow landing area and paralleled the northbound lanes on Interstate 5, has been changed from a par 4 to a par 3.
    It effectively rids players of wayward drivers and moves them up so they're hitting away from the course's boundaries — and the freeway.
    A recent incident of a ball converging with traffic and striking a windshield jolted officials from the nine-hole golf course and Rogue Valley Manor into action.
    "That was the driving force behind this," said Kevin McLoughlin, the Manor's executive director. "When that happens, you have to make a decision and say, it's not worth the risk.
    "You can't take the risk of balls hitting cars on the freeway. It just doesn't work. It's no good."
    No one was hurt and repair of the owner's vehicle was taken care of promptly, said McLoughlin. He added that he's dealt with a number of complaints of balls hitting objects on the vast property since the course opened in July 1993.
    But none was as alarming as this.
    After the complaint, McLoughlin stationed himself near the seventh tee box and for more than an hour watched players come through. He marveled at the myriad directions and trajectories the balls traveled and realized neither a tree line nor a net would keep them on the course.
    Vince Domenzain, general manager and director of golf for the Quail Point and Centennial courses in southeast Medford, attributes the recent incident to technology and the thinning of trees between the course and the interstate. Some trees have died off, including in the "bad swing" area of the hole, he said.
    Also, more manufacturers are building clubs to combat slicing, the most common problem among amateurs.
    On the seventh hole, a right-handed player would tee off with his or her back to the freeway. A slice carries the ball to the right, toward the No. 6 fairway. A pull or hook takes it left, toward traffic.
    "I think technology has actually hurt us," said Domenzain. "Bigger drivers and harder balls, and everyone's trying to make anti-slice drivers. If you come over the top of those things, it really shuts the club face and the ball goes left in a hurry."
    Temporary tee boxes to make the seventh a par 3 were installed about a month ago. And while they remove the challenging drive, difficulty remains. It's still an uphill approach to a two-tiered green that is a chore unto itself.
    The yardages are now 185 from the blue tees, 165 from the whites, 130 from the golds and 110 from the reds.
    Par has gone from 35 to 34, the slope was reduced from 127 to 122 and the rating dropped from 68.6 to 67.6.
    "The way we're looking at it," said Domenzain, "is now we've got a golf course with three very challenging par 3s. It's still a par 34, so it's not all par 3s, which isn't too bad."
    The course maintenance crew will build tee boxes in the coming months, and Domenzain has ordered score cards to reflect the change.
    The eighth and seventh holes will flip-flop in the handicapping hierarchy. The par-5 eighth becomes the No. 1 (and No. 2 for those playing 18), and the seventh becomes Nos. 11 and 12, respectively.
    The conversion had been considered for some time — not because of balls going to the freeway, but because of those careening into the No. 6 fairway. It's long been an issue, and tee areas on both No. 6 and No. 7 have been adjusted over the years to minimize the effect of wild shots.
    The Oregon Golf Association last year sent its course rating team for a periodic review, and Domenzain then broached the subject changing No. 7.
    When he called the OGA recently, Gretchen Yoder, manager of handicapping and course rating, had the records at her fingertips, then did a quick search of Google maps.
    "When I was talking to her, she zoomed in and said, 'Yeah, I see what you're talking about,'" he said.
    Indications are that Quail Point won't remain a par 34. The sixth hole could be turned from a par 4 into a par 5, moving the green back and slightly up a hill on the left side.
    The green would be moved beyond a pond and waterfall, leaving a collection area between the two. It would measure just under 500 yards, said Domenzain.
    U
    CATCHING UP: Kevin Murphy of Rogue River fared well in the Junior Americas Cup, tying for 20th place overall in the three-round event two weeks ago at Hiwan Golf Club near Denver.
    Four players made up Oregon's squad and competed against 16 other teams from the western U.S., western Canada and Mexico.
    Murphy was 8 over par, shooting rounds of 70, 76 and 78. He was the No. 2 Oregon placer, helping the team to fourth place.
    This weekend, Murphy is representing Oregon in the Hogan Cup at Riverside Country Club in Portland.
    Another Rogue Valley player, Dylan Wu of Medford, just missed making the eight-man Hogan Cup team.
    Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com
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