Monday, December 03, 2012

AT&T Will Be Next Title Sponsor at Byron Nelson Championship, Also Building New DFW Course

The Byron Nelson Championship's current title sponsor is HP, and HP (Hewlett-Packard) will have that role through the 2014 tournament. But not afterward.

The tournament announced recently that AT&T will take over as tournament title sponsor beginning with the 2015 event.

A PGA of America article relates that this is big news because it's only one part of what AT&T has planned in the DFW golf community:

Also Friday, Dallas city officials announced a partnership with AT&T and Southern Methodist University to build a semi-private golf complex in the Trinity River Forest south of downtown. That facility will become the home of the SMU golf program and the First Tee of Greater Dallas, and will be designed to host PGA Tour events as well.

"The possibility exists that the Byron Nelson Championship may be played at the Trinity River facility," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said by phone, according to WFAA-TV.

The Trinity Forest Golf Complex, as it will be known, will contain a regulation 18-hole course; a nine-hole short course; what officials termed a "world class" practice facility; a facility for the SMU men’s and women’s golf teams; an administrative structure for the First Tee; the Texas Horse Park for the SMU equestrian teams; and recreational trails, according to Mayor Mike Rawlings.

"This will be a game-changing investment in southern Dallas," said Rawlings. Construction on the facility is set to begin in 2013, pending approval by the Dallas City Council, with the spring of 2016 set as a tentative completion date.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

TGA's 2012 Players of the Year

The Texas Golf Association has announced its Players of the Year for 2012. Congratulations to the four honorees, who were selected by the TGA Championship Committee based on a performance points system in which individuals earn points for top finishes in designated regional, statewide and USGA national championships.

And the winners are:

    John Bearrie, 43, Arlington
    Statewide Player of the Year

    Selected Highlights: Champion, 2012 Texas Mid-Amateur…Champion, 2012 State Four-Ball with partner Aaron Hickman…Quarterfinalist, 2012 State Mid-Amateur Match Play…two-time North Player of the Year honoree (2008, 2010)...Plays out of Medalist GC.

    Mike Booker, 57, The Woodlands
    Senior Player of the Year

    Selected Highlights: Champion, 2012 South Senior Amateur…Runner-Up, 2012 South Mid-Amateur…Semifinalist, 2012 State Mid-Amateur Match Play…Tied 3rd, 2012 State Senior Amateur…Tied 26th, 2012 Texas Mid-Amateur…Lost in Round of 64 at the 2012 U.S. Senior Amateur…Member of The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands.

    Mike Calef, 33, Allen
    North Regional Player of the Year

    Selected Highlights: Champion, 2012 North Mid-Amateur…Champion, 2012 West Texas Amateur…Tied 2nd. 2012 North Four-Ball with partner Kevin Somers…4th, 2012 Texas Amateur…5th, 2012 North Mid-Amateur…Tied 9th, 2012 Texas Mid-Amateur…Former winner of the Massachusetts Amateur and Massachusetts Mid-Amateur…Member of Eldorado CC in McKinney.

    John Dowdall, 52, Houston
    South Regional Player of the Year

    Selected Highlights: Champion, 2012 South Four-Ball with partner Kip Guidry…3rd, 2012 West Texas Amateur…18th, 2012 South Mid-Amateur…Member of Redstone GC in Humble.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Texan Thelen is Feelin' It on Euro Senior Tour

Texas pro Tim Thelen is having a nice little second career. After decades as a club pro in Texas, and frequent winner and contender in PGA section events and state-level tournaments, and occasional forays onto the pro tours, the 51-year-old Thelen is a 3-time winner in 2012 on the European Senior Tour.

Thelen has worked as multiple clubs around Texas, usually in the southeast part of the state and in the Houston area. Among his stops were stints as the director of instruction at The Traditions Club at Texas A&M in Bryan; pro at The Falls Resort and Golf Club in New Ulm; and at Bushwood Golf Center in Houston.

On the European Senior Tour this year, Thelen has made 14 starts and posted three victory, plus one more Top 10. His three wins came at the Berenberg Bank Masters in Germany, the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland, and the Fubon Senior Open in Taiwan.

The third win lifted Thelen up to third place on the tour's money list, and guaranteed him a Top 4 finish on the money list. That's important because it gets him a spot in the field at the 2013 U.S. Senior Open.

TLJT Players of the Year

Who are the Players of the Year for 2012 on the Texas Legends Junior Tour? Glad you asked! These three golfers won the awards in their respective age divisions (blurbs courtesy of Texas Golf Association):

Bryce Alley of Longview, Texas, is the Legends Junior Tour Boys 15-18 division Player of the Year for the first time. Alley started off the 2012 season with a victory at the 2011 Holiday Classic at Cypresswood GC in Spring, Texas. He followed up his win with a T-7 at the Winter Classic and then claimed his second victory at the Spring Preview at Woodforest GC in Montgomery. He followed that victory with a runner-up finish at the Junior PGA Championship North Texas Qualifier. He finished T-3 at the HP Byron Nelson Junior Championship less than three weeks later after a final-round 5-under-par 66. Alley never finished outside of the top eight in any of the eight events he played, including a T-4 and a T-6 at the George Hannon Junior Invitational and the Texas State Junior Championship, respectively. Alley, a 2013 graduate, will play for University of Texas at San Antonio in the fall of 2013.

Ryan Grider of Lewisville, Texas, is the Legends Junior Tour Boys 14 & Under division Player of the Year. Grider played in three events in the Boys 14 & Under division, winning one and finishing runner-up in the other two. He won the Lanny Wadkins Junior Championship in August at Bent Tree CC by 11 shots after carding a 3-under-par 68 in the first round. He finished runner-up at the Winter Classic in January and the Spring Preview in March. Grider also won every event he played in the Boys 13-14 division for the Northern Texas PGA All-American Tour. Grider, 14, also played in the HP Byron Nelson Junior Championship and the Texas Cup Invitational where he finished in the top half of both fields.

Julia Beck of Austin, Texas, earned the Legends Junior Tour Girls 15-18 Player of the Year honors. She started off her Player of the Year campaign at the 2011 Texas Girls’ Invitational with a seventh place finish. She didn’t play again until the 2012 Spring Preview in March, where she won by six strokes after rounds of 75-76. She won again at the Bluebonnet Championship in May where she defeated Kirsten Pike of Ovilla, Texas, in a two-hole playoff. She finished second at the Texas State Junior Championship after making a charge on the back-nine of the final round with six consecutive birdies. Beck won her next Legends Junior Tour event at the George Hannon Junior Invitational where she, again, defeated Pike in a playoff, this time in three holes. She also won the AJGA Billiardfactory.com Junior Championship at The Woodlands Country Club – Tournament Course in June. A senior, Beck will be staying in Austin, playing for the University of Texas in the fall of 2013.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

South Beats North In Texas Junior Cup Matches

There's a new cup competition in Texas, and this year, the inaugural one, the South beat the North in the Texas Junior Cup Matches.

The Texas Junior Cup will be an annual competition between teams of junior golfers, boys and girls ages 6-12, representing the Southern Texas PGA and Northern Texas PGA. The golfers for each side are selected from those participating in the respective PGA chapters' junior tours.

The inaugural Texas Junior Cup win went to the STPGA side by a score of 17.5 to 6.5. The format consisted of a 9-hole Scramble and Four-Ball Matches the first day, followed by 9-hole Singles Matches the final day. The event was contested at Northwood Club in Dallas.

Congrats to the kids from both sides who competed. And those kids were:

North Team
Haili Moore, Prosper
Alyssa Kurji, Plano
Gabbi Bentancourt, Lubbock
Bianca Cunningham, Garland
Hailey Jones, Dallas
Phoebe Yuan, Allen
Minas Manias, Frisco
Sam Jenkins, Garland
Wade Langley, Winnsboro
Dawson Ovard, Frisco
Jake Benanti, McKinney
Robert Lahrman, Dallas

South Team Jacqueline Nguyen, Houston
Morgan Miller, Cedar Park
Grace Ni, Houston
Tiffany Nguyen, Houston
Hailee Cooper, Montgomery
Leah Alberto, Kingwood
Shaheen Momin, Sugarland
Treed Huang, Katy
Zakary Jones, Spring
Jason Bryant, Baytown
Sam Bennett, Madisonville
Jake Wittschiebe, Fair Oaks Ranch

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tip: Load and Coil Behind Ball With Simple Drill

A few days ago we told you about Texas' top young golf instructors - five teachers in Texas named to Golf Digest's list of the best instructors in America under age 40.

We're very pleased to present the following video tip to Texas Golf readers, courtesy of one of those instructors:

The instructor is Joey Wuertemberger of the Jim McLean Golf Center in Fort Worth. In the above video, Joey demonstrates a pretty simple drill that golfers can do indoors, in the home or the office, during the winter or on inclement days, to help groove a better backswing position.

The backswing position in question is part of what Jim McLean calls the "2 Pivot Point Swing," and Joey shows how this drill will help you properly load and coil behind the golf ball.

And check out Joey's website, JW Instruction, for more info about him and his lessons.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Now Open: Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course in Laredo

(Images courtesy of Foresight Golf)

There's a new golf course in Texas. In Laredo, to be exact: The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course. It celebrated its "soft opening" on Oct. 18.

This isn't just good news for Laredo, but for the golf course industry in general. There just aren't many courses getting built in the United States right now, and there haven't been for the past five years. The business is so slow that When Laredo put out a request for proposals to golf course architecture firms, the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Pete Dye, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Michael Hurdzan, D.A. Weibring, Hale Irwin, David McLay Kidd, Lanny Wadkins and Peter Jacobsen put in bids.

And Robert Trent Jones Jr. is the one who won; Foresight Golf is the company that is managing the property for the City of Laredo.

The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course has only been open a few days as this is written, but everyone in Laredo already knows it simply as "the Max."

The golf course website includes the following among its descriptive prose:

"Breathtakingly overlooking the Rio Grande River just north of Laredo ... The golf course is strategically situated on 270 acres of atypical South Texas Mesquite land. The site has almost a mile of Rio Grande River frontage with the clubhouse and Holes 8, 9, 15 and 16 playing directly alongside and overlooking the river. It is a par 72 golf course that has an excellent balance of drama, playability, risk and reward that will make for exciting and enjoyable golf for all levels of player."

An article on cybergolf.com adds: "It also traverses deep arroyos and navigates through 30-foot-tall mesquite woodlands and open farmland."

One of the interesting things that RTJII did in his design of The Max was the creation of three loops over the back nine: "... the closing nine present(s) returning loops of three holes and six holes flanking the practice facility." So if you don't have time for 18 - or even nine - you can just play three holes or six holes, or play the back nine. A beginning golfer, or a child just starting out, can learn on the 3-hole loop.

That's a great, family-friendly, beginner-friendly touch. There are also five sets of tees, and wide fairways.

And it looks great in the photos, doesn't it? Next time you make a run for the border, take your sticks and include a stop at The Max.

And if you've played Laredo's Max A. Mandel Municipal, leave your course rating and comments below.

Leonard Leads Texas Hall's Class of 2012

The Texas Golf Hall of Fame inducted its Class of 2012 on Monday in a ceremony at San Antonio Country Club. The seven inductees are:
  • Justin Leonard: University of Texas star, 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, British Open champion.
  • Robert Dedman Sr.: Inducted posthumously. Founder of Club Corporation of America, better known to golfers as ClubCorp.
  • Charlie Epps: Longtime Texas club pro, head pro at Redstone Golf Club; instructor to Angel Cabrera and Blaine McCallister.
  • David Price: Pro at Bent Tree Country Club, Golf Professional of the Year in 1995, member PGA of America Hall of Fame, prominent rules official.
  • John Grace: Texas Amateur champion, member of US Walker Cup team.
  • Mina Hardin: 5-time Texas State Women's Amateur champion, Texas Women's Open winner, US Senior Women's Amateur winner.
  • Sam Goldfarb Sr.: Inducted posthumoustly in Pioneer category. Chairman of San Antonio Golf Association in the 1940s and 1950s, chairman of Texas State Junior events at Brackenridge.
Also, the Hall added Champions Golf Club in Houston to the Texas Registry of Historic Golf Courses, which now includes Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Dallas' Cedar Crest Golf Course and Brook Hollow Golf Club, and Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth.

Leonard, of course, is the headliner. He'll forever be remembered for that long putt he made to cap Team USA's historic comeback at the 1999 Ryder Cup. He's also a 3-time winner of the Texas Open, and told the San Antonio Express-News that his connection to San Antonio, and the Hall's location in the Alamo City, made the honor even more special:

"I think it's a big reason I am here," he said. "I've had a lot of success in this city. It's been a special place to me and our family and our career. The fact that it's down here just adds to all that."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Justin Leonard Has One More Shot to Keep His Card

Texas' own Justin Leonard is struggling through the worst season of his PGA Tour career. Perhaps that's not suprising. He is over 40 now, a time in pro golfers' careers when many of them - even major championship winners like Leonard - start to see their tournament results sink a little lower, and to have more inconsistency, more poor performances.

Leonard, who has 12 career PGA Tour wins, hasn't won since 2008. His exemption status in 2012 is based on the multiple-winner exemption, but that expires at the end of the season. He currently sits 138th on the PGA Tour money list. Only the Top 125 retain fully exempt status for 2013, and there is just one tournament left in the season.

That's the Disney, which takes place Nov. 8-11. Leonard has played all the Fall Series tournaments, and picked up a little ground with a 30th-place finish at the Timberlake Shriners event. But he missed the cut at the Frys.com Open, and last week was 69th at the McGladrey Classic. Although he cashed there, he dropped on the money list.

Leonard's previous worst finish on the money list was 109th in 2006, which was (until this year) his only time outside the Top 100. Eight times in his career Leonard finished in the Top 15 of the money list.

So what happens if Leonard can't find some Disney magic and move into the Top 125? Don't worry - there are other exemptions Leonard can call on to remain a full-time PGA Tour player in 2013. For example, golfers who rank in the Top 50 on the career earnings list have a one-time exemption they can use at any time to retain their card. Leonard is 9th in career earnings.

Depending on where he finishes on the money list, Leonard will probably save that exemption, however. (There's also a second one for being in the Top 25 on the career money list.) So long as he's within shouting distance of No. 125, Leonard will get into enough tournaments through his partial status that, combined with a sponsor exemption here and there, he should still be able to play a full or very nearly full schedule in 2013.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Nearly 800-Yard Drive That Happened at the Texas Open

That headline sounds like something ol' Bogey is just making up. But I'm not! This is what I learned while surfing the web today: Once upon a time, a PGA Tour golfer hit a drive that measured nearly 800 yards in length. And it happened at the 1992 Texas Open.

I learned this from About.com's account of the incident, which includes this:

The golfer was Carl Cooper, who at the time was a 31-year-old journeyman. The tournament was the 1992 Texas Open, played that year at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio. ...

... On the par-4, 456-yard third hole, Cooper launched his drive ... On the fly, the ball hit a downward-running concrete cart path and took off.

The ball rolled past the fifth green. Then it passed the sixth tee. It eventually left the cart path and veered onto an unpaved maintenance road. And finally it came to a stop behind the No. 12 green.

According to the story, Cooper's caddie measured it at 787 yards from the third tee. Read the rest of the story here.