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Centennial GC ranked sixth among U.S. public courses

In many instances, the local golf season slows to a crawl at this time.

That isn't the case for Centennial Golf Club, however, which early this week received a prestigious national ranking and this weekend will host one of the most popular Oregon Golf Association tournaments.

In the recent edition of Golf World magazine, the Medford course was ranked sixth in a Readers' Choice Poll of the top 50 public golf courses in the United States.

Only two other Oregon courses were recognized: Heron Lakes was 38th among public courses, and Bandon Dunes was No. 2 in the resort category. Private clubs were also rated.

On the heels of the ranking comes the OGA Men's Team Championship today and Sunday. It's the 82nd year of the event and features 32 four-man teams.

Centennial is one of a handful of clubs with two teams entered. The only other local contingent is a squad from Rogue Valley Country Club.

Players on Centennial No. 1 are course superintendent Matt Grove, Derek Zwagerman, Steve Celayeta and Brian Robinson.

The No. 2 team is Mark Wilson, Glen Clark, Rick Dimick and Jay Klemp.

Representing RVCC are Brad Bills, Paul Johnson, Eric Austad and Dane Smith.

It was up to each men's club to determine criteria for selecting players.

Columbia Edgewater of Portland has captured three straight titles and five of the last seven. Only a two-year run by Riverside of Portland in 2004 and '05 interrupted the string.

No Southern Oregon team has won the championship.

"It'll be fun to see how they do," says Vince Domenzain, general manager and director of golf. "We'll have a little bit of a home-course advantage, but there are some really good sticks coming, and that's exciting to see. The course is in prime condition. We were trying to peak for this because it's such a major event for the OGA."

The players will operate on the decorated 31/2-year-old layout designed by John Fought.

The Golf World ranking "is by far the biggest award we've received," says Domenzain.

The second annual poll was conducted online in 2008-09 by Golf Digest Publications' Research Resource Center, with readers rating key areas of the golf experience on a scale of one to 10.

According to the magazine, more than 46,000 surveys were completed. For a facility to be ranked, it had to receive a minimum number of evaluations.

Centennial's highest marks came in course condition (9.56) and quality of course (9.44). It ranked fifth overall in course condition, seventh in overall value (9.23), ninth in both course quality and pace of play (8.77) and 10th in service (9.20).

It's overall score was 93.04, and its average rating was 9.23.

Other criteria were reputation (8.84), practice facility (9.05), clubhouse/locker room (8.26), pro shop (8.58), dining (8.73) and off-course activities (8.49).

"To get that feedback from frequent players and the people in this area who support the course instead of raters, it does make it a little more special," says Domenzain. "It's nice to see they're getting the product they're looking for, which is a great-conditioned golf course any time of the year."

Domenzain credited Grove and his staff, calling the group "one of our shining stars, no doubt," and also was pleased with the service ranking.

The top-ranked public course was Forest Dunes in Roscommon, Mich., followed by Orange County National in Winter Garden, Fla.

For more on the rankings, go to www.centennialgolfclub.com and follow the Golf World link.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com