The NBA is contemplating shortening their regular season from 82 to as few as 60 as soon as 2021. "Load management" - the practice of resting otherwise healthy players on the best teams in order to save their energy for the seemingly endless playoffs - became a league-wide practice this year. No one disputes that NBA players are "athletes," though competitive golfers don't often get that designation, however much the physiques of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau become more of the norm at the game's highest level. But there's one event that, in order to win, a golfer really needs to have the strong legs and general stamina of an athlete.
That event is the Western Amateur, which returns next week to its long-time (1971-2008) home at Point O'Woods Golf & Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich. The tournament, won in the past by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson is second in prestige only to the U.S. Amateur stateside. By week's end, the winner and runner-up will have played as many as eight competitive rounds in five days, including three straight two-round days to finish the week. Point O'Woods being a big-shouldered Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design, the course's large greens and runway tee boxes should give the Western Golf Association ample opportunity to vary the setup each round. (Note: The club is private, but non-members can arrange to play if they stay on-site in one of the club's six three-bedroom cottages.)
Those 36-hole days will see players walk upwards of 13 to 15 miles each before one of them lifts a hefty trophy. That's an impressive athletic achievement, and you can bet the Western Golf Association won't be entertaining any pleas for load management.