Four gentlemen stepped out onto the first tee of Pine Valley this fine Christmas morning. A game of skins is on the agenda. First hole, 427 yard par 4, sharp dogleg right. First Up Arnold Palmer, followed by Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. All 4 hit the fairway, all but Palmer are safely on the green. Woods is closest at 19′. Arnie has missed short and right, chips to 31′, and calmly holes the par putt. No one makes birdie, the hole is halved and they move to 2.
Hole 2 is a 367 yd par 4. Nicklaus finds a deep bunker on the left. The others are safe. Woods put his 2nd shot wedge to 6′, but slid his birdie attempt 6″ past the hole. Palmer got down in 2 from 34′ to halve the hole.
Hole 3, Par 3, 198. All on the green, all have long putts, hole is halved.
The 4th is now playable as a 505 yd par 4. Nicklaus finds another fairway bunker, this time on the right. Woods has the shortest birdie putt at 12′, but once again he misses. The hole is halved.
Hole 5, 232 yds, par 3. No one closer than 40′ on their tee shot, halved in par.
Hole 6, 388 yard, par 4, huge dogleg right. Woods and Nicklaus both cutoff too much of the dogleg and ended up with tree problems. Tiger never recovered; Jack scrambled for par and halved with Palmer an Watson who missed 13 and 18 footers for birdie.
The 7th is the longest hole on the course, 639 yards, with 100 yards of Hell’s Half Acre splitting the fairway. Most went 3W off the tee. Nicklaus chose driver and ended up in the right rough. All 4 found the fairway and left themselves comfortable wedges for their 3rd shots. Woods was away at 30′ and settled for par. Palmer had a tricky 16 footer and pushed it 2′ past the pin. Watson missed from 9′. But Jack calmly sank a 7 footer to pick up 7 skins and $210,000. This was the first birdies by anyone on the day.
Palmer and Nicklaus halved the 321 yd 8th hole with birdie 3′s from 8 and 6 ft respectively.
Hole 9, 460 yard par 4, using the right hand green of the 2nd double green hole in a row. Woods and Nicklaus both drove right and didn’t make the green with their second shots. Watson lagged a 51′ putt to 3 ft. Palmer left his 33 footer 4 inches short.
On to the back 9 where holes are now worth $50,000 with a skin carryover.
The 10th is the shortest hole at 158 yards, with a ridge across the middle of the green, which was in a front left position. Woods was long and on the wrong side of the ridge. Watson and Nicklaus each had 25 footers that they barely missed. Palmer drilled his 9 iron to 10 feet and sank the putt for 3 skins and $110,000.
11th hole, par 4 392 yards slight dogleg right. All were on in 2; no one made the putt. Halved with pars.
The 12th is 344 yards with a dogleg left to a long narrow green. For these guys its a 3W or 2I and a wedge. All were on in 2. Nicklaus was the most spectacular as he putt his wedge 3″ from the pin. He never got a chance to putt as Woods sank a 39 footer from the back edge, and Palmer followed from 10 feet.
With $150,000 riding on the hole, Palmer drove to the right hand cart path of the 489 yard 13th, and was soon out of the hole. Jack was 40 feet away and lagged it to 2 feet. Watson went by with his 29 footer, and Tiger barely slipped by on the right from 21 feet.
14 is the last par 3, 221 yards with water front and back. 4 and 5 irons were the order of the day; Watson was the only one to find the green and he was 50 ft away. Nicklaus was way left. Palmer and Woods were off the back right edge. Woods chipped to 13′. Palmer was outside that. Watson missed his long birdie putt, and Woods sank his 13 footer to halve the hole.
15 is the last par 5, the entire hole tilts right and it is the longest expanse of fairway on the course without being broken up by sand. At 591 yards its no pushover. Watson drove left into the trees, and Palmer and Woods both skirted with trees on the right. Nicklaus was the lone golfer to find the fairway, but, he too ran into trouble landing in a deep bunker on the left with his second shot.
Everyone was on in 3, but it was Palmer who sank a 21 footer for a birdie and 5 skins which boosted him into he lead with $360,000. Three holes and $200,000 remain.
The par 4 16th is 474 yards with water down the right side that gets very close to the right hand edge of the green. But everybody handled it routinely with par 4s by Palmer and Woods.
17 is 338 yards, the last 80 of which are more horrible un-raked sand. palmer out-drove the short grass with his 2 Iron. His approach missed left. Woods caught a poor lie from the right and dumped his second shot about 55 yards across that 80 yards of sand. Watson and Nicklaus both found the fairway about 115 yards out. Watson put his approach 15 feet away, and Nicklaus could only manage to get it to 26. Jack then sank his birdie, while Watson couldn’t convert his. Nicklaus climbs to within $50,000 of Palmer with the $100,000 18th to play.
The 18th is 481 yards and the second shot is severely uphill with water and sand all the way across the approach. Watson, Palmer, and Nicklaus all went driver and all were in the 320-330 range on the down hill tee shot. Woods chose the safe path and put a 3 wood out 298 yards. Everybody got home in 2, but nobody was really close. Nicklaus slipped a 16 footer 7 inches by for the closest look.
Extra holes, Nicklaus’ and Woods’ day came to a close at the 20th when Jack missed a 15 footer and Tiger missed from 8 feet. Meanwhile Palmer from 12 and Watson from 6, both birdied the hole the second time they got a chance to see it and moved on alone.
With the outcome decided the 21st (3rd) was parred by both. At the 505 22 hole, both golfers ended up in a right hand greenside bunker. But Watson got up and down for bogey while Palmer doubled. So Watson finally got on the board. Arnie was the winner at $360,000 from 8 skins. Nicklaus gave him a good run and had $310,000 from his leading 9 skins. Watson had his lone skin on the last hole. Tiger was shut out.
The big winner was the course which survived 4 of the greatest golfers of all time, and only yielded 13 birdies over 22 holes of play.