Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Kosciusko (Did Somebody Sneeze?)

There's a very interesting article in the Wilson County News - published in Floresville - about the Kosciusko Open Golf tournament, which benefits the Kosciusko Athletic Association. (Kosciusko, by the way, is pronounced "Kah-SHOO-skoe".)

What makes it interesting isn't really the information about the coming golf tournament; it's another small-town fund-raiser. What's interesting is the history of a semi-pro baseball league that used to operate in the Polish communities of this part of Texas, southeast of San Antonio.

The Kosciusko Athletic Association used to field a team in the semi-pro Bluebonnet League.

It seemed to all start in the 1940s. Baseball was the game of choice, and anyone who was anyone played it. The Bluebonnet League, as it was called back then, included teams from Kosciusko, Panna Maria, Karnes City, and Falls City.

“It was a gathering of the community,” former player and manager Albert Pruski said. “It held us all together.”

Like clockwork, every Sunday a game would start at around 3 p.m., and communities from all around would come to watch.

But when World War II broke out, the league fizzled a bit, with all the men overseas. Once the war was over, the Bluebonnet League was replaced with the Flax League (the name later was changed back to the Bluebonnet League).

“We had guys on the team in their mid-30s,” Pruski said. “You played once you were good enough to.”

The league consisted of teams from Stockdale, Nixon, Falls City, Poth, Karnes City, and Kosciusko, among others. Pruski, a resident of Kosciusko, started playing with the league in 1951 and began coaching in 1965.

“It was our only form of entertainment,” Pruski said. “It was a very big deal.”

And this league proved just as popular as the Bluebonnet League, drawing an average of 300-400 people every Sunday.

“It was nothing to get a thousand fans out here on a Sunday,” Pruski said.


It's a lengthy article, but it's a great read. Check it out.

Walk This Way

How many of you walk when playing the golf course, how many ride, and how many do a little of both? Up to about age 28, you couldn't have forced me into a golf cart. Since then ... well, it wasn't just marriage that put all these extra pounds on me.

Doug Pike's weekly golf notebook in the Houston Chronicle has some good information about the benefits of walking while golfing, plus a list of courses in the Houston area that are considered easy walks.

There's much speculation about why fewer and fewer golfers walk. In some sense, it's chicken-and-egg: do today's golfers walk less than those of 15 years ago because they got fat, or did they get fat because they no longer walk while golfing?

I grew up in Corpus Christi, where, for most of my time there, there were only two courses in the city open to the public. The cart fee was equal to the green fee, and we didn't have any money back then. So we always walked. The Corpus Christi courses had push carts available, but we carried our bags.

Then I moved to San Antonio. A couple things changed: I got older and started putting on pounds. The courses here are much hillier - not to mention longer - than the ones in Corpus Christi. But I still walked more often than not for my first couple years in San Antonio.

The real "problem" is this: it's just too easy to take a cart. Most daily fee courses these days include any cart fee in the greens fee; you automatically get a cart, in other words. Some still discount for walkers, but many don't. You pay the same price whether you use the cart or not. Hey, if I'm paying for it, I'm using it. And over time, the idea of walking gets lost. The less you walk, the less you want to walk.

I don't mean to sound like one of those fuddy-duddies bemoaning the diminishing role of walking in golf. There's nothing magical about walking as opposed to riding - I have no patience for those people who see something mystical in golf.

But, c'mon, all of us need to do a little more walking, if for no other reason than our well-being. And how can golf courses help? There are two very simple things:

1. Have at least a handful of push carts available, and put them in a place to be noticed by golfers walking to the clubhouse. Most daily fee courses no longer provide the option of renting a push cart.

2. Provide some sort of discount, even if it's only a small one, for golfers who prefer not to use a cart.

See, told you they were simple. Anyone who wants a cart won't be dissuaded from using one. But those people who used to walk and want to start walking more might get the impetus they need.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Gathright Takes Over at Oak Hills

Oak Hills is one of San Antonio's oldest, most exclusive clubs, and one of its best golf courses. Oak Hills is the one that all of San Antonio's biggest movers and shakers want to join.

It's a historic course, designed by A.W. Tillinghast. It hosted the very first Tour Championship in 1987, for many years was the site of the PGA Tour Texas Open, and now is the site of the Champions Tour SBC Championship.

For the past four years, it's also been the home of Bryan Gathright, a perennial selection to Golf Magazine's Top 100 teachers list. Gathright, a Harvey Penick protege, is the teacher of Jimmy Walker, Dorothy Delasin and Notah Begay III, among others.

And now he's the director of golf at Oak Hills. Cary Collins, who previously held the position, is leaving for opportunities not yet known. Gathright left his position as director of instruction at The Academy at La Cantera about four years ago because he was tired of dealing with the public. Now, he's director of golf - a position that requires dealing with people. The difference is that at Oak Hills, those people aren't "the public" - they're "the members."

The chosen ones, in other words. Gathright is certainly a chosen one, so this should be a good fit.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Galveston Muni Mash

It's not uncommon these days, at least in Texas, to see cities struggling to figure out what to do with low-performing municipal golf courses. They might not have the money to keep their munis in good shape, or there might have been an explosion of upscale daily fee courses drawing players away from the city courses. Or the city might simply be losing a lot of money.

Galveston is going through this right now. A man named Tilman Fertitta, who owns the Landry's restaurant in town and has other tourism-related businesses, is offering to manage the Galveston municipal golf course. Landry's would lease the business from the city; Fertitta would upgrade the course (and raise green fees) and cover all losses or keep all profits.

Muni golfers are often torn about these situations. On the one hand, they want a better golf course. On the other, they most certainly do not want higher fees.

Dolph Tillotson, the publisher of the Galveston Daily News, has an interesting editorial about what's happening in his city. He comes out in favor of giving control over Fertitta and Landry's. It's a persuasive argument in this case. Go check it out.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Old Glory Open

The Texans Taking Care of Texans Foundation is an organization whose mission is to provide education benefits for spouses and children of Texans who die or become fully disabled while on active military duty.

Alas, a lot of Texans fall in that category these days. The foundation is staging its very first fundraiser, and it's a golf tournament in San Antonio (Fair Oaks Ranch, just outside of San Antonio on Interstate 10, to be exact). The Old Glory Open is slated for Fair Oaks Ranch Country Club on Sept. 19.

Registration information is available on the tournament website. The format will be modified shamble - everyone tees off, the team selects the best driver and all play their own ball for the remainder of the hole. Two best balls on each hole make up the team score; two randomly selected holes will be deducted as a team handicap.

Speaking of shambles: If you've ever wondered just what the heck that wacky format your golf club is playing next week really is, check out the Golf Tournament Formats and Golf Bets glossary on About.com. It's the best such glossary I've yet to run across.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What Ever Happened To ...

... Jimmy Walker? You remember him - money leader on the Nationwide Tour last year, most promising rookie on the PGA Tour this year.

The San Antonio resident got off to a rough start this year, straining neck muscles while in Hawaii at the start of the PGA Tour season. After a few weeks off, he came back in February and missed four straight cuts. Then he posted a couple Top 20 finishes before his physical ailments started acting up again. He missed two more cuts, and hasn't played since the Wachovia Championship in May.

By this point, there's very little chance Walker could make enough money to keep his Tour card for 2006, even if he managed to get back out there. But that hasn't appeared to be an option.

I've talked to Walker's physical therapist and to his instructor, both of whom were pretty closed-mouthed about what's going on. But it has been known that the original neck strain Walker suffered at the beginning of the year was later joined by back problems.

Here's what the San Antonio Express-News reported today: Walker's biggest problem has been a bulging disk in his back. Ouch! No wonder we haven't seen him. The good news, the newspaper reported, is that Walker is swinging again. He plans to play a few events on the Nationwide Tour at the end of the season to get back into competition. Walker has also applied for and been granted a medical exemption by the PGA Tour. That means he will keep his Tour card for 2006.

It's good to know that Walker will get another shot next year. If this guy stays healthy, he's a threat to the best players in the world. Walker combines booming drives with a great putting touch. His coach told me, about a year and a half ago, that he expected Walker to be a Top 5 player in the world within a couple years. And he was serious.

If he's healthy, then Jimmy Walker's future is, in a word, dyn-o-mite.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Greatest Game Ever Played" Advance Screenings

Via this post on About.com, we learn that advance screenings of "The Greatest Game Ever Played" are taking place this week in DFW and Houston.

"The Greatest Game Ever Played" is the movie version of the book of the same title; it's about Francis Ouimet's stunning upset victory at the 1913 U.S. Open. Yeah, that should pack 'em in.

When I hear about golf movies, my first thought is, "what we'll really see is the worst golf swing ever filmed." Like, for example, Jim Caviezel's swing in "Stroke of Genius," the movie about Bobby Jones. Caviezel should have saved a miracle or two from his previous movie, "The Passion of the Christ."

Shia LaBeouf is playing Francis Ouimet, which is appropriate since most people can't spell either man's name correctly. There's no way to tell if LaBeouf's swing is any good until we see the movie, but based on one still photograph I've seen, I'd say he's already way ahead of Caviezel.

Anyway, here's the poop on the advance screenings this week in Texas:

DALLAS/FORT WORTH
Sony Cityplace
2600 Haskell
Dallas 75204
August 24, 2005, 7:30 p.m.

HOUSTON
Edwards Greenway Grand Palace
3839 Weslayan St.
Houston 77027
August 25, 2005, 7:30 p.m.

To get a free pass, go to this page and print out the .pdf pass. Just keep in mind that having this free pass doesn't guarantee you'll get in; it's first-come, first served and if no seats are left when you arrive, you're out of luck. So get there early.

Also, there's at least one more screening in Texas planned. It will be in San Antonio; there might also be an Austin screening. Check back on the free pass page linked above to find out when new screenings are added.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Qualifying Sites for SPI Texas Senior Open

The South Padre Island Texas Senior Open is scheduled for South Padre Island Golf Club in Laguna Vista, Nov. 9-11. South Padre in November? Better bring your wind gear ... and your wind game.

The SPI Texas Senior Open - a Southern Texas PGA tournament - is open to pros and amateurs with a verifiable USGA handicap index of 9.0 or less, who were born on or before Nov. 8, 1955. A last-chance qualifier will be held at South Padre Island Golf Club on Nov. 6. But prior to that, interested golfers can qualify at one of 10 sites around the STPGA territory.

Here is the qualifying schedule:
  • Oct. 17: The Woodlands CC (East), The Woodlands, 281-863-1540
  • Oct. 18: Woodbridge Golf Club, Wylie, 972-429-5100
  • Oct. 19: Tangle Ridge Golf Club, Grand Prairie, 972-299-6837
  • Oct. 24: Tierra Santa Golf Club, Weslaco, 956-973-1811
  • Oct. 25: The Golf Club of Texas, San Antonio, 210-667-0027
  • Oct. 25: Timber Creek Golf Club, Friendswood, 281-993-1140
  • Oct. 26: Colony Creek Golf Club, Victoria, 361-576-0020
  • Oct. 26: Old Orchard Golf Club, Richmond, 281-277-3300
  • Oct. 26: Onion Creek Club, Austin, 512-282-2162
  • Oct. 27: Texas Star Golf Club, Hutto, 817-685-7888
  • Nov. 6: "Last Chance," South Padre Island Golf Club, Laguna Vista, 956-943-5678
If you're interested, call the number listed with the site at which you'd want to play. More info is available at the STPGA website.

Tight Lies Tour Report - Battle Creek Classic

The Tight Lies Tour Battle Creek Classic completed play on Sunday with Travis Hurst of Erie, Kan., the winner. Hurst posted a score of 20-under 268 to claim the $20,000 first prize. The tournament was played at Battle Creek Golf Club in Broken Arrow, Okla.

Runner-up was Ron Whittaker of Little Rock, Ark., two strokes behind. The top Texan was Frisco's Kevin Muncrief in fourth. Tour money leader Matt Brost of Austin placed ninth.

Complete results are available on the Tight Lies Tour website.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Get Kinky with Willie

Kinky Friedman is running for governor, and Willie Nelson is trying to raise money for his friend through golf.

Willie is hosting a golf outing and lunch at his Pedernales ranch and golf course, both of which will benefit Kinky's gubernatorial campaign. Former professional wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura (who was also a governor, according to rumor) will be there, too.

The date is Sept. 24. The cost: $5,000 for nine holes plus lunch. The event is limited to 20 people. Another 100 people will be able to join Kinky, Willie and Jesse for lunch only for $1,000.

If you want to get Kinky with Willie, head over to Friedman's website, www.kinkyfriedman.com, for more details.

Review: Redstone Tournament Course

The Tournament Course, the newest addition to Houston's Redstone Golf Club, opened recently and Tom Kirkendall has a great, in-depth review on his Houston's Clear Thinkers blog.

Tom writes:

Overall, the Tournament Course is an outstanding addition to the Houston golf scene. It is already a very good golf course, and has a chance to become a truly superior one. At this point, I would give the course a strong B+, but my sense is that the Houston Golf Association -- which did a wonderful job refining The TPC Course in The Woodlands over the years -- will make the improvements and modifications necessary to elevate the Tournament Course to one of the best golf courses in Houston and Texas.

The Tournament Course will be the new home of the Shell Houston Open.

Check out Tom's full review for much more on the course, including photos.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Norman Will Design Second TPC San Antonio Course

The PGA Tour announced this morning that Greg Norman has been selected to design the second golf course that is part of the TPC San Antonio project. Pete Dye is already at work on the first golf course, where the Texas Open is slated to move in 2010.

I'm excited about this. Norman is a very underrated designer. He builds big, bold golf courses with great shot values and great aesthetics. His TPC Sugarloaf hosts a PGA Tour event, and his course at Red Sky Golf Club in Colorado outshines the Tom Fazio course at the same venue. HIs two Tiburon courses in Naples, Fla., and the Doonbeg course in Ireland have also drawn much attention. Texas golfers know Norman through is Meadowbrook Farms in Katy.

Personally, I would have preferred the team of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore - as would have the PGA Tour, according to rumors. Those rumors had it that Crenshaw & Coore wanted the project and were in talks with the tour early in the TPC San Antonio process, but just couldn't find a way to add the project to their schedule.

If true, Greg Norman is a very good second choice. Jack Nicklaus or Tom Fazio would have brought bigger buzz, but Norman might just turn out the better golf course. Kudos to the Tour for not picking someone "safe."

From the Tour's announcement:

“I am excited about pooling the collective resources of Marriott, Lumbermen’s, Pete Dye and the TPC Network to create an unmatched resort destination,” Norman said. “I am confident that this golf course will positively reflect on the rich history and distinct character of San Antonio.”

The world-class golf resort, which will feature a 1,000-room JW Marriott Resort, will be located north of downtown San Antonio on a 2,855-acre tractowned by Lumbermen’s. Marriott will develop and manage the resort and will retain PGA
TOUR Golf Course Properties to operate the golf facilities.

“Greg Norman has established an outstanding reputation in the golf course design industry, which we’ve experienced first-hand through his course at the TPC at Sugarloaf,” said Vernon Kelly, President of PGA TOUR Golf CourseProperties, referencing the annual home of the TOUR’s BellSouth Classic near Atlanta. “Not only has Greg designed premier courses throughout the world, his dedication and passion for creating environmentally sensitive golf courses made him an absolutely perfect fit for this project.”

Headquartered in Jupiter, FL, Greg Norman Golf Course Design has opened nearly 50 courses worldwide and has another 20 projects under development. Since
establishing the company in 1987 in his home country of Australia, Norman has
become known as a champion for environmental stewardship in golf course design
and construction.

Norman serves as a Board of Trustee member for The Environmental Institute for Golf and chairs its Advisory Council. ...

“I begin each new project with a least-disturbance approach so as to maximize the natural features and incorporate them into the routing,” Norman added. “This course will utilize the natural hill country topography and indigenous flora to strengthen the environmental balance in the landscape.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

STPGA Assistants Championship

Here's a report from the Southern Texas PGA on its recent TaylorMade-adidas Assistants Championship:

Eric Bogar, an assistant golf professional at Westwood Country Club in Houston, defeated Tony Johnson, an assistant golf professional at San Antonio’s Siverhorn Golf Club, with a birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the 2005 Southern Texas PGA TaylorMade-adidas Assistants Championship.

Bogar and Johnson had finished 36-holes at The Club at Comanche Trace in Kerrville knotted at 8-under-par 136. Bogar, who won the event for the second year in a row, earned $1,000 for the victory; Johnson took home $800 for second place.

Nick Phillips, an assistant golf professional at Houston’s Royal Oaks Country Club, finished in third place at 68-70—148.

Bogar, Johnson and Phillips all qualified for advancement to the national TaylorMade-Adidas PGA Assistant Professional Championship. That tournament will take place Oct. 27-30, 2005, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Chip Craig, an assistant professional at the Deerwood Club in Kingwood, Thomas Woflenberger, an assistant professional at Houston’s Pine Forest Country Club, and Kyle O’Brien, an assistant professional at Austin’s River Place Country Club, are the alternate qualifiers for the national tournament.

Nicklaus Picks Leonard for Presidents Cup

Congratulations to Texas boy Justin Leonard for his selection to the Presidents Cup team. Leonard was one of U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus' two captain's picks.

Was Leonard the right choice? He's definitely in the just-below-the-top tier among Tour players (Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson are in a tier all their own right now). He's won twice this year, he was No. 11 on the points list and he has tons of experience in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups.

But I wouldn't have chosen him. Leonard is a very streaky player, and he's not on a good streak right now. He's missed the cut in his last two tournaments and was 52nd the year before that. And while he has tons of experience in these international team competitions, most of it is bad.

There's nothing wrong with Leonard's Presidents Cup record in limited time, but Leonard is one of the worst Ryder Cup players in the history of the event. He's just not a very good match-play player.

I would have selected Zach Johnson, a fiery competitor who would bring some intensity to the team. Johnson hasn't won this year, but he was No. 12 on the points list and has played better of late than Leonard.

But Leonard fits the "proven veteran" mold that coaches, managers and captains in all sports follow. They never choose a young first-timer unless they are forced into it.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Richmond's Old Orchard Closing

Old Orchard Golf Club in Richmond, one of the more respected daily fee courses in the Houston area, will be closing later this year - for good. The 22-person ownership group received "the proverbial offer they couldn't refuse" to sell the land on which the club sits to developers ... and so they didn't refuse.

Mike Bailey, writing for golftexas.com, has the story:

... Come late fall, southwest Houston will lose one of the best daily fee golf courses in the state. Old Orchard Golf Club, a 27-hole facility that has hosted numerous special events, championships and qualifiers, will close Nov. 11 if all goes as planned.

The course has 22 owners, which include Montgomery and Champions Tour player Keith Fergus, and is being sold to real estate developers for an undisclosed amount. Though Montgomery wouldn't reveal details, the profit on the land will far exceed revenues and the cost of the course, which opened in 1990.

The closure will leave the Richmond area, which is located about 30 miles southwest of downtown Houston, with a significant void in the daily-fee market. The Houstonian Golf Club, an excellent Rees Jones-design next door to Old Orchard, recently became private and The Houstonian's sister club, Shadow Hawk Golf Club, which is located on the same property, has always been private. That leaves only Greatwood Golf Club as the only viable quality daily fee facility in the immediate area.

It's a pity, especially given that Old Orchard is a successful, respected golf course. It's not one that was on the verge of going out of business, or that has allowed its conditions and reputation to deteriorate over the years. But great land around Houston becomes more scarce, and therefore more expensive, all the time I suppose.

If you've ever played any combination of Old Orchard's three nines, you probably went away saying that you'd like to come back some day. If so, better hurry.

Tight Lies Tour - Oklahoma Classic

After a few weeks off, the Tight Lies Tour was back in action this past weekend with the Touchstone Energy Oklahoma Classic, played at Traditions Golf Club in Edmond, Okla.

And the winner was ... Clark Dennis of Fort Worth with a 72-hole score of 24-under 256. That was five strokes better than the runner-up, Perry Moss of Shreveport, La.

The final leaderboard at this tournament shows what a strong regional tour the Texas-based Tight Lies has developed into: you have a Texas golfer, a Louisiana golfer, a Nebraska golfer, several Oklahoma golfers all near the top. Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Illinois are also represented high in the standings.

For the full results, visit the Tight Lies Tour website.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

PGA Re-Scheduling and the Texas Open

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how negotiations for the PGA Tour's next television contract might affect the Texas tournaments on the schedule, including the possibility that a tournament (or two) might even be discontinued.

In this morning's San Antonio Express-News, golf writer Richard Oliver has a column (subscription only) on just that topic. The good news is that it appears unlikely that many (or possibly any) tournaments will be canceled. The bad news is that Oliver believes the Texas Open in San Antonio will wind up in an even weaker position than it's in now.

Oliver writes:

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, heading into what is expected to be contentious negotiations for a new television deal, reportedly is considering a
momentous retooling of the circuit schedule that would trim the regular-season
lineup and significantly impact the Texas Open and other stops at the tail end of the calendar.

While the historic Open, which is expected to move to the new Tournament Players Club at San Antonio by 2010, is forecast to live on, by 2007 it may find itself toiling even further in the background.

(...)

The prevailing expectation is that the Tour Championship, held each November, will be shuffled up to September and serve as the unofficial finale to the regular season. What happens to events that currently come afterward, including San Antonio's longstanding date, is part of a whirlwind of conjecture.

(...)

Speculation persists that the Texas Open, like the 84 Lumber Classic, Southern Farm Bureau Classic and other less-hyped events that stretch into October, would become part of a postscript string of tournaments to be televised on cable, available for players fighting for tour cards to earn needed money.

Frankly, I don't see how that scenario differs from the one in which the Texas Open exists today. After all, the Texas Open is already "part of a postscript string of tournaments to be televised on cable" and is populated mostly by "players fighting for tour cards to earn needed money."

After all, the "Fall Finish" events are the stepchildren of the PGA Tour. So many of the biggest names on Tour skip these events already. The Texas Open is further hampered by going head-to-head with the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup every year.

If the worst that happens to the Texas Open is that it is enshrined in a post-Tournament Player Championship wasteland, that's not as bad as it could have been. It already functions in a wasteland.

The important thing is that the tournament survive so that when it moves to the new TPC course (expected in 2010) the Tour will have incentive to improve its standing.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Desert Overtakes Lajitas

A few years back, investors purchased the far West Texas town of Lajitas and turned it into an oasis in the desert. What was essentially a ghost town on the banks of the Rio Grande sprang back to life as a resort getaway for the well-to-do.

Part of the package was a very nice golf course (which includes Hole 11A, a tee shot over the Rio Grande to a small green in Mexico; alas, golfers are unable to cross the river to complete the hole, so it's really just a lost ball). There were originally two golf courses planned, the first a lush, green parkland-style course in the middle of the desert; the second, a desert-style course.

Looks like the desert-style course won't be built, but Lajitas will have a desert golf course anyway. The original parkland course is being converted to a desert-style. Six holes of turf are being removed to make room for desert features. Around 65,000 desert-friendly shrubs and 600 trees are being planted to replace acres and acres of turf and palm trees.

No word on why this decision was made, but here's a guess: they discovered that building a water-guzzling parkland golf course in the middle of a desert was a very expensive, very silly thing to do.

But, then, getaway spots for the wealthy tend to do those things.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Clean Energy

The high price of gasoline got you down? It's got a lot of people down. And unfortunately, prices are almost guaranteed to keep going up over the long term. The reason is that pumping levels are already near capacity, there's very little new, accessible oil out there to be found, and China and India have only just begun to require petroleum products for their young industries.

It's not a pretty picture. Making alternative fuels and cleaner-burning fuels cost-effective and more easily available should be a major priority for the U.S.

And a few golf courses are doing their part in a pilot program. Check out this interesting article in the Houston Business Journal: Golf Courses Take a Swing at Wind Energy. Fifteen clubs around Texas - most in the Houston area - have signed a deal with an Austin-based clean energy company to buy electricity generated by wind power.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Win for Former Sundance Pro

Lonny Alexander of Onion Creek Country Club in Austin was the winner of the Southern Texas PGA's Callaway Tradition Championship. The tournament was played at Austin Country Club.

Alexander shot 70-67, then survived a six-hole playoff with Robert Thompson (Whispering Pines Golf Club). Complete results are available here.

Alexander used to be with Sundance Golf Course and Practice Facility in New Braunfels. But we've heard for some time now that Sundance is on the block. That's a shame.

The husband-and-wife team of Bob and Sue Puetz opened Sundance about 13 years ago, and Sue led a junior golf program that developed into one of the best in the country. She wrote the book on developing junior programs - literally. A book she wrote on the subject is frequently recommended by the USGA when that organization is contacted for advice by fledgling junior golf programs.

We can only hope that whomever the new owners of Sundance turn out to be, they have the same dedication to kids that the Puetzes have shown all these years.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dallas Diamonds Tournaments

I've been completely out of the loop on this one, but, then, I imagine most people have been. Did you know there's a women's professional football league in the U.S.? I sure didn't. But there is. And it's called, you guessed it, the Women's Professional Football League (WPFL). The league is seven years old, and it's tackle football played under NFL rules.

One of the WPFL teams is called the Dallas Diamonds. The Diamonds play in the American Conference, along with the Houston Energy.

The Dallas Diamonds are the defending league champs, and they are 2-0 this year at the time of this writing (although one of the wins was a forfeit). If you're curious to learn more about the WPFL and its two Texas franchises, then click on the links above.

If you're interested in playing some golf in order to meet members of the Dallas Diamonds and raise money for the team, then plan on being in Grand Prairie on Sept. 19. That's when the Dallas Diamonds Golf Tournament tees off at Grand Prairie Country Club. It's a four-person scramble with a 10:30 a.m. shotgun start, $75 entry fee per person.

First place pays $800 and second $400. Third gets season tickets to Diamonds game. Fourth and fifth get Diamonds merchandise.

Want to play? Mail the names of your team members, plus a check made payable to "Dallas Diamonds Football," to:

Lesley Manuel
351 Conroe Circle
Lantana, TX 76226

If you need any questions answered, email Ms. Manuel. The tournament is being run by Fairway Golf Event Management & Promotions.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Businessmen (and Women) Love Golf

A recent article in the Houston Chronicle focused on how that city's business executives view golf. How do they view our game? Very well, thank you very much.

According to the survey, conducted by a company called Golf Solution:

Golf remains a "favorite tool" of executives, a release on the survey states, for making business deals and increasing personal time with decision-makers. Only 3 percent of respondents did not think golf was a good way to get close to the boss, and 92 percent considered the game a great way to generate new business.

It's not just men who understand golf's value in the corporate world, either.

"Many ... women are learning that in order to secure that 'client' or to gain exposure to upper-level management, they need to incorporate golf as part of their professional development," said Billy Thompson, president of Golf Solution, which conducted the survey.

That's why women long ago founded the Executive Women's Golf Association, which now has chapters in most major American cities. I remember talking to a past national president of the EWGA, who told me that "men have been doing this for decades - using golf to build alliances and to close deals. Women needed to get in on that, too, but first many women needed a safe place to learn the game."

More than half the people who responded said that people play golf similarly to the way they conduct business. Three-quarters of respondents believed that demeanor on the golf course is indicative of a person's motivation, and two-thirds said a person who cheats at golf also is likely to cheat in business.

STPGA Senior Section Championship

Here's a report on the Southern Texas PGA's Senior Section Championship and Senior Club Professional Championship:

Houston’s David Lundstrom posted a 36-hole total of 5-under-par 71-68—139 to win the 2005 Southern Texas PGA Senior Section Championship and Senior Club Professional Championship, held on the South Course of Blackhorse Golf Club in Cypress.

Chuck Cook of Austin won the tournament’s 60-69 division with a score of 78-71—69, and Pete Hessemer of San Antonio won the 70-and-over division at 82-81—163.

A former PGA Champions Tour member, Lundstrom earned $875 for his victory. In addition, Lundstrom and six additional members of the field participating in the Senior Club Professional Championship qualified to advance to the national PGA Senior Club Professional Championship, which will be held Oct. 21-24, 2005, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Those advancing to the national tournament with Lundstrom are: Chuck Westergard, San Antonio; Sammy Borden, Spring; Warren Chancellor, Houston; Chuck Cook, Austin; John Taylor, Rancho Viejo; and Jim Dickson, The Woodlands.

Here are the complete scores.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Austin's Falconhead Files for Bankrupty

News from Austin: Falconhead Golf Club has filed for bankrupty. Anyone who's played there likely isn't surprised to hear that business was bad. It was obvious on each of my several rounds there - there just weren't a lot of people driving out there (to the Bee Cave area) to pay $75 to play golf. Seventy-five dollars might not seem like a lot to some people, but in Austin Falconhead is the most-expensive daily fee course.

But it wasn't necessarily lack of play, but a major legal loss, that might have driven Falconhead into bankrupty court. The course was recently ordered to pay a settlement of more than $800,000 to the course's developer.

Falconhead does plan to stay in business, however, assuming it is successfully reorganized in backrupty court.

The full story is in the Austin American-Statesman, but you'll need a registration to read it. So here are a couple excerpts:

Falconhead Golf Club, a two-year-old course founded by three members of GSD&M Advertising and other prominent Austinites, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday.

The Chapter 11 filing, which indicates the club intends to restructure its finances and remain in business, came less than three weeks after Falconhead was hit with an $819,598 legal judgment.

Phillips & Jordan Inc., a Knoxville, Tenn.-based construction company, sued Falconhead's developer, the Spillman Development Group Ltd., saying it had not been paid all the money it was due for building the course.

...

Steve Gurasich, a minority partner in Falconhead and a founder of GSD&M, would not comment on the impact of the judgment against Falconhead and whether it prompted the bankruptcy filing.

But he said the golf club is simply "reorganizing its finances" and restructuring its debt. Gurasich said he expects no major changes at the club, which is on RM 620 near Texas 71 west of Austin, near Bee Cave.

"The golf course is doing well, given the competitive environment that is out there," Gurasich said. All Austin-area courses, he said, "are fighting for rounds and revenue."

The golf course is the centerpiece of a $125 million development with apartments, upscale homes and possibly a resort hotel between Texas 71 and RM 620, although the club is a stand-alone corporate entity.

The club, on 169 acres, was the first of the PGA Tour's signature series golf courses, with some features of the golf group's Tournament Players Club courses.

Gurasich said one of the project's original participants wants to withdraw, and filing for bankruptcy gives the club an opportunity to restructure financially. "It's a way to clean it up and move forward," he said, but declined to identify the participant.

Wonder if Falconhead will be having any "bankrupty specials" coming up to drive traffic to the course. Keep an eye out. It's a heck of a golf course.

New Owner Vows Improvement at Lake Waco

Waco was recently named the best golf city in Texas by Golf Digest. But one of the courses there has been suffering through a slow, steady decline. The semi-private Lake Waco Golf & Country Club has seen its membership drop by nearly 70-percent over the past few years as conditions deteriorated.

New owner Ray Lamb vows to change that. If you've ever played Lake Waco, you might know Lamb. He's run the Heart of Texas Golf Academy at the course for more than half a decade. Now, after spending $2.5 million, he owns the place.

According to the Waco Herald-Tribune, Lamb plans to keep the club open to the public for at least a couple years while improvements to the two courses - one regulation 18 and another par-3 18 - are made. He hopes to boost membership and take the club private again in about two years.

From the story in the Waco paper:

The club, which Lamb has renamed The Lake, had seen its 36 holes fall into such poor shape “that no one wanted to play,” he said.

Lamb said membership has declined from 438 when he joined 25 years ago to about 130 today.

“I don't think it will take that much to build the membership back up,” he said Tuesday. “This is the only course on this side of the lake and China Spring is a growing area.”

Lamb said “there is no telling” how much he will spend to improve The Lake. “I will do whatever it takes to make it into a good golf course,” he said.

The Lake includes an 18-hole regular course and an 18-hole, par-three course. Lamb said he will build two new tennis courts “and we're opening back up the RV park.” The club also has a swimming pool.

Lamb said he hopes to create a “better playable, better conditioned” golf environment. Changes to the regular course will include narrowing the fairways and relocating bunkers.

“The course will become more of a challenge to better golfers, but regular golfers will still enjoy it,” he said.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Mid-Am Match Play Championship

A report on the 2005 State Mid-Amateur Match Play Championship, from the Texas Golf Association:

Steve Gill of Sugar Land picked up his second championship win in the monthof July with a victory at the 2005 State Mid Am Match Play Championship.

Gill posted a 3&2 win over Randy Lance of Lufkin in the final match to earn the title. Gill had teamed with his son Brett to win the State Father-Son Championship at Riverhill Country Club earlier in July.

The championship match was a hard fought battle that went back and forth until the final few holes. Neither player was more than one up at any point until the 15th hole when Lance pulled his tee shot left and made bogey to go two down. After Gill hit his tee shot on the Par 3 16th to within 12 feet, Lance missed the green and failed to get up and down. Gill made par to secure the victory.

See the TGA website for more info.