Friday, September 30, 2005

We Are the Champions

It was a fantastic showing for Texas at the USGA State Team Championships, played Sept. 27-29 in Bluffton, S.C.: our men's team won, while our women's team tied for third.

The State Team Championships have been played six years, and Texas has won the men's championship twice. This year, Terrence Miskell of New Braunfels, Alan Hill of Spring Branch, and Steve Galko of Dallas combined to post a score of 10-under 422 over three rounds. (Each round, the two lowest of the three team members' scores are combined for a team score.)

Galko, Miskell and Hill are the three most-recent Texas Golf Association Players of the Year. For the story and scores, see here.

The Texas women's team was comprised of Mina Hardin of Fort Worth, Carolyn Creekmore of Dallas, and Toni Wiesner of Fort Worth. The team's total was 450; Georgia won with a score of 434. For the story and scores, see here.

Hurricane Rita Affects Jobs at Pinnacle Plant

Talk about unexpected consequences. A Texas plant that manufactures Surlyn, the hard cover that originally debuted as a cut-proof alternative to balata, was damaged by Hurricane Rita and is unable to meet demand.

So the Acushnet Company plant in New Bedford, Mass., where Pinnacle golf balls are manufactured, had laid off 200 of its employees because Acushnet is diverting what Surlyn is does have to its Titleist plant.

Here's the story.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

El Pasoan Named PGA Pro of the Year

Congrats to Bill Eschenbrenner of El Paso, recently named PGA Golf Professional of the Year. That's the highest honor a club pro can receive from the PGA of America. Eschenbrenner, PGA Master Professional at El Paso's Lone Star Golf Club, is the 52nd person to receive the honor, and the first from the PGA's Sun Country section (which covers West Texas and New Mexico).

Eschenbrenner, 67, has had quite a career:

A former caddie at Worth Hills Municipal Golf Course in Fort Worth, a facility made famous by author Dan Jenkins, Eschenbrenner made a career path to professional golf through his association and friendship with many of the premier players in the Lone Star State, including legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.

”I was fortunate to have known top Professionals, and I just wanted to be like them,” said Eschenbrenner. “Had I not had golf, I’m sure I would have been in the pool halls forever. I was friends with Ben Hogan, and knew him well. Just as I am a friend of Byron Nelson, and individuals like Ernie Vossler (1967 PGA Golf Professional of the Year), Fred Hawkins and Orville Moody. They guided me. The PGA of America card meant a lot to me, and being a member, I was able to set goals and pretty high standards. I am very honored to win this national award. I always tried to give back, and that feeling comes from those PGA professionals who got me started.”

Eschenbrenner, a PGA member since 1965, was also the 1994 national Horton Smith Award winner for contributions to PGA education. He has served as both a premier instructor and mentor to many of the games premier players. He is credited by Lee Trevino for helping him gain a PGA Tour berth.

Eschenbrenner helped Trevino attain PGA membership in the late 1960s, during a period when such membership was required to compete on the PGA Tour.

The list of Tour professionals under Eschenbrenners tutelage features eight current players, including 2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem, a former PGA assistant professional at El Paso (Texas) Country Club, where Eschenbrenner served 35 years as PGA director of golf and five years as consultant.

The developer of a city-wide junior golf program in El Paso, Eschenbrenner also served on the board of the El Paso Sun Bowl and Sun Carnival Association. In 1974, he founded the NCAA College All-American Golf Tournament, an event that has returned $546,000 in golf scholarships (prior to this fall’s tournament) to participating college programs. Past tournament champions include: Tiger Woods, Jerry Pate, David Duval, Davis Love III and Scott Simpson.

From 1976-77, Eschenbrenner served as president of the Sun County PGA Section, was District 12 Director for the national PGA Board of Directors (1995-97), and was a past board member of the Southwest PGA Section from 1965-74. He is one of the most respected instructors at PGA education seminars and employment workshops. Eschenbrenner and his wife, Janet, are the parents of a son, Scott, of Las Cruces, N.M., and a daughter, Tami Swingler, of Austin, Texas.

(Via Cybergolf)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"Big Break IV" A Big Yawn

Is it just me, or does "The Big Break" really stink this year? There's that silly U.S. vs. Europe format; none of the characters are much of a character; plus, the novelty has fully worn off.

I didn't even catch the second episode - was watching "R U the Girl" on UPN (or was it WB?). Yep, that T-Boz is a hottie! But at least Arlington resident Randall hasn't been eliminated yet. Reason to keep watching? I don't know how much more I can take.

Wake me when it's time for the next "Ladies Only" edition.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

USGA, R&A Come Over to Tight Lies' Side

Well, sort of. The big news from the world of golf today is that the USGA and R&A have revised the "Decisions on the Rules of Golf," including a revision that allows for the use of rangefinders by Local Rule.

Those of you with good memories will recall that the Texas-based Tight Lies Tour began allowing rangefinders in its tournaments this year. In fact, the Tight Lies signed on SkyGolf GPS as an official sponsor.

In allowing rangefinders, the Tight Lies Tour became the first-ever professional golf tour to permit (not to mention encourage) the use of distance-measuring devices. And what was the reaction of the USGA at the time? I can't find the specific articles to link to, but I recall the reaction very well: the USGA was furious, and informed the Tight Lies Tour that it would no longer receive rules support from the governing body.

Now, the USGA (and R&A) have bowed to technology and, beginning in 2006, rangefinders will be legal so long as a Local Rule is in effect.

Here's more on the changes to the Decisions.

Confirmation: TPC San Antonio Courses Closed to Locals

Last week, I posted about an article in Austin American-Statesman that implied the TPC San Antonio courses would be open only to resort guests (in other words, San Antonio golfers would not be allowed on the courses unless they paid for a room).

I've since corresponded a few times with the reporter who authored that article, Kevin Robbins, and Kevin has followed up on the subject with his sources. Yesterday, Kevin confirmed - after talking with a contact with the PGA Tour design services - that the courses would not be open to locals (unless they get a room).

Kevin wrote to me:

He told me that no, there will not be any "daily-fee," "public" or "walk-up" access to the TPC. He did say, however, that there might be a "membership structure" that allows someone to pay some money, presumably a lot, for the privilege of paying the green fee to play those courses without having to stay at the resort. To me, that idea excludes 98 percent of us who would like to play those courses.


Kevin is certainly right about that: Only a very, very small number of San Antonio golfers would be able to buy a "membership." And the membership plan is only a maybe anyway.

There's nothing unusual about a swanky resort being open only to resort guests. Although San Antonio's three existing resorts - La Cantera, Hyatt Hill Country, and, in Boerne, Tapatio Springs - are open for daily-fee access, that is probably the exception rather than the rule with upscale golf resorts.

But as I wrote last week, what gets me is not that a chi chi resort is going to be essentially a private golf club, but that TPC San Antonio has chosen this path after all the support San Antonio golfers have given the project, and all the financial incentives the city of San Antonio and Bexar County (and even the Texas Legislature) have given the project.

TPC San Antonio's response to all that support, the tax breaks, the financial incentives? "Thanks. And, oh, by the way - you can't play here."

Monday, September 26, 2005

TPC Courses Update

Our man Richard Oliver (actually, the San Antonio Express-News' man) spent part of his Sunday hanging out with Pete Dye, who was in San Antonio to walk the property on which his North Course of the TPC San Antonio project will be built.

Plenty of good information in Richard's column:

The coming Tournament Players Club of San Antonio, a 36-hole complex that breaks ground on construction in March, may be opened for business by 2008. The Texas Open may move to the site on roughly the same timetable, quicker than most projected.

The city's Champions Tour event, the SBC Championship, could be another tenant.

But when he rolled up in an SUV under a broiling sun Sunday afternoon, a cloud of milky dust swirling in a trail behind him, Dye was more concerned about the immediate horizon, rising above the blaze of green before him.

"When you keep on going up up here, you just get this great long view when you turn around and look backward," he said, nodding toward a rise to the north. "It's unbelievable, all up in there."

By next year at this time, under Dye's veteran gaze, a signature TPC landscape will be carved out of the snarl of cactus, cedar and rock. However, unlike his inaugural TPC facility near Jacksonville, Fla., constructed atop swampland, this project won't require creative artifice such as railroad-tie berms.

"Here you don't have to create anything," Dye said, "because it's already here."
Here's something that caught my eye:

When the Texas Open moves to the TPC at San Antonio, in 2008 or shortly after, the PGA Tour could place the event on either layout — or both.

Not many people know this, but when the second course at La Cantera - current home to the Texas Open - was being built, the PGA Tour planned to play the Texas Open on both of those courses.

It would have been a tricky re-routing, but the Tour's plans were in place to the tune that the new course, what's now called the Palmer Course, was built with the same turfs to match up with the Resort Course.

I'm not sure what caused the plan to be scrapped, but of course it was. The Palmer Course greens that had already grown in were torn up and the sod given to other San Antonio golf courses. The Palmer Course was then re-sodded with a different type of turf.

For San Antonians who remember the lousy turf conditions at the Palmer Course when it first opened, now you know why. Blame the PGA Tour.

Notes from the Weekend

• San Antonio sure likes to claim golfers who aren't from here and don't live here. San Antonio claims Wendy Ward, who attended high school here but was born elsewhere and now lives elsewhere. This city has claimed Notah Begay III, whose only connection is that his instructor, Bryan Gathright, works in San Antonio. Now San Antonio has claimed Robert Gamez.

Gamez won the Texas Open over the weekend, his first PGA Tour win in 15 years. Good on ya, mate. Gamez's father was born and grew up in San Antonio, and that's good enough for the local media to give Gamez a tongue bath for his "San Antonio connections."

• A real San Antonian, Jimmy Walker, was back in action after missing almost the entire PGA Tour season due to neck and back woes. Walker is playing several tournaments on the Nationwide Tour, where he was the 2004 money leader, to get back into playing shape.

At the Boise Open, Walker got back in action in style, shooting on a 31 on his first nine holes. He finished tied for 15th after going 67-70-72-68 for a 7-under 277 total.

• I'll be curious to see the final attendance figures for the Texas Open, if they are made public. I'm guessing this year's Texas Open will be the lowest-attended in many years - which is saying something, because this tournament is always among the lowest-attended on tour. The golf course just isn't conducive to following players around; plus, this year, there were even fewer names than usual among the field.

But the real downer this year was the heat: 102 on Saturday, 105 on Sunday.

• When David Duval made his first cut of the year on Friday, he stood in the middle of the pack going into the weekend. Then he shot 70-74. Not terrible, but 74 is pretty weak at La Cantera. Still, Duval cashed around $7,500. It's a start.

• I poo-poo'ed (that's right, I said "poo-poo'ed") Jack Nicklaus' choice of Texan Justin Leonard for the Presidents Cup, but Leonard did a pretty good job. Justin has one of the worst Ryder Cup records ever (no wins in 8 matches) and entered this Presidents Cup with a very weak record, as well (3-9-1 overall, 0-3-0 in singles).

But this year, Leonard went a stellar 3-1-1. He even managed, on Sunday, his first-ever singles victory in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. Justin, I'm sorry I doubted you. But I'll doubt you again if you're a captain's pick for next year's Ryder Cup.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Amazing! Duval Makes a Cut

Congratulation to David Duval, who made his first cut of 2005 at the Texas Open on Friday. Duval is at 3-under after two rounds, which puts him around the middle of the pack entering Saturday's third round.

Richard Oliver has an excellent column about Duval in this morning's San Antonio Express-News. Sounds like David is getting his confidence back, and with his confidence, his game. Get this: Duval is aiming to make next year's Ryder Cup team.

When Duval's wedge from 129 yards away settled 34 feet from the flag, resulting in a key two-putt par, it represented more than a lost highlight at the Valero Texas Open. For the first time in nearly a year, a span covering 18 events, the former British Open champion had made the cut at a PGA Tour event.

It was a glimpse of the past.

And hope for the future.

"Frankly," Duval said afterward, "I'm playing well enough to win golf tournaments."
They're fighting words, and a welcome arrival for those who wondered if the Florida native still had any in his bag.

...

"Confidence," he said, "is such a fragile and precious thing."

...

"I've been fortunate enough to taste the highest of highs, and — though this may sound strange — fortunate enough to taste it as low as it can be," he said. Of his standing in the game, he added with a smile, "I've tasted being No.1, and I've tasted No.1,000, and there's something to be said for that."

And it is this. Because of that experience, "I know how well I am playing now," said Duval, who admits he's aiming for a Ryder Cup berth next year.

Read the rest of Richard's column here (mysa.com registration required). Richard also writes the Oliver's Twist blog that is linked in our blogroll to the right.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Houstonian Wins USGA Senior Amateur

A Houston man, appropriately named Rice, was the winner of the USGA Senior Amateur Championship on Thursday.

Sixty-five-year-old Mike Rice beat the defending champion, Mark Bemowski of Mukwonago, Wis., 1-up, becoming the oldest winner of the event in 18 years. Rice is the first Texan to win the event since 1984.

Here's an article about Rice's victory, and here's an interview with the winner.

Texas Open Likely Safe from Rita

It looks like the Texas Open in San Antonio will be safe from Hurricane Rita after all. Earlier in the week, when it appeared as though Rita might strike the Texas coast farther south, it seemed a worst-case scenario for the Texas Open.

Imagine: The golfers and fans would spend Thursday and Friday slogging up and down hills in 100-degree heat, only to have a hurricane come along and wipe out the final two days of play. All for naught.

Now, it seems all that worrying was for naught. San Antonio might not get even a few rainshowers. Rita looks headed for the northeastern tip of the Texas coastline, or maybe western Louisiana. And so we hope for the best for our neighbors in Port Arthur and Beaumont, and Lake Charles and Alexandria.

Meanwhile, based on the few glimpses of the tournament I caught on ESPN and in news photos yesterday, it appears that San Antonio's golf fans are under a mandatory evacuation order for La Cantera Golf Club. Those bleachers that I saw were completely empty. If you heard the sparse applause after a good shot yesterday, then you understand what a "smattering" is.

I'm sure the attendance will pick up quite a bit over the weekend. But I'm also sure that the PGA Tour (and its players and fans) will be very happy to leave La Cantera when the TPC San Antonio courses open in a couple years.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

TGA Players of the Year

The Texas Golf Association, the body that governs amateur golf in Texas, has announced its 2005 players of the year. Here are excerpts from the TGA announcement:

The Texas Golf Association announced today that Steve Galko of Dallas has won the Association’s State Player of the Year and North Regional Player of the Year award for 2005, and that Jonathon Mathias of San Antonio won the South Regional Player of the Year.

Established in 2002, the TGA State Player of the Year trophy is presented to the player who earns the most points based on their performance in designated TGA and USGA events throughout the calendar year. To be eligible for the award, a player must play in at least one TGA event. The TGA North and South Regional Player of the Year awards were introduced in 2003, and serve to recognize outstanding individual achievement in TGA Regional Events.

Galko earned the 2005 State and North Regional Player of the Year honor by compiling an impressive record that included three victories (State Public Links, North Regional Amateur and Mid-Amateur), finishing 3rd in the State Amateur, reaching the semifinals in the Mid-Amateur Match Play Championship, as well as making it to the second stage of U.S. Open qualifying. It marks the first time that someone has captured both the State and a Regional title in the same year.

Mathias captured the South Regional Player of the Year title owing to consistent play throughout 2005. He won the South Regional Amateur, tied for 4th in the South Regional Mid-Amateur, and had solid performances in both the State Amateur and Mid-Amateur, finishing tied for 20th and tied for24th, respectively.

Next week Galko will team up with Terrence Miskell of New Brunfels and Alan Hill of Spring Branch to represent Texas in the 2005 USGA State Team Championship, being played September 27-29 at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton, South Carolina.

It’s an impressive line-up for Texas, featuring the 2003, 2004 and 2005 TGA Player of the Year winners (Hill, Miskell and Galko, respectively). It will be the first time competing in the State Team championship for Galko and Miskell, but Hill lends some experience, having played for the 2003 team that finished 11th at Charles River Country Club, located just outside of Boston.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Texas Open Charity

Say what you want about the lack of quality in Texas Open fields (and I have), but one big thing the tournament has going for it is its ability, led by title sponsor Valero, to raise beaucoup dinero. According to the San Antonio Business Journal, this year's charitable total is a record $5 million raised.

It's this fund-raising ability - and the coming TPC San Antonio courses - that should keep the Texas Open safe if the PGA Tour decides to dump some tournaments and shorten its schedule. See Richard Oliver's article in the San Antonio Express-News for much more on this theme.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Challenge TPC San Antonio's No-Locals Policy

Two days ago I headlined a post this way: "TPC San Antonio Closed to Locals?"

Within that post, I wrote this: "I've been a supporter of this project all along, and if the courses are difficult for us regular people to get onto, that won't alter my support. But it sure takes away most of the anticipation."

After checking with the reporter who wrote the original article in the Austin American-Statesman, I think we can remove the question mark from that headline.

And after a couple days thinking about this, it's more than a matter of having my anticipation lessened. I'm pissed!

Let's review: The Austin American-Statesman runs an article that is a good recap of and update about the TPC San Antonio project. It includes the following sentence:

His (Dye's) and Norman's courses in Bexar County will be open to guests of the resort, an arrangement similar to the one at the Four Seasons Resort in suburban Dallas.

Can this be true, I wonder? After the long struggle to get the courses built in San Antonio, after all the giveaways the resort developer received from San Antonio, would the resort truly be open only to resort guests, and not to the general San Antonio golfing public?

I checked with Kevin Robbins, who wrote the article for the Statesman. Am I interpreting this correctly? I asked. He replied that it was his understanding that only resort guests would be able to play the two TPC San Antonio courses (and said he'd look into it further). So yes, unfortunately, I interpreted that paragraph correctly.

Let's restate it clearly: The two TPC San Antonio courses will be open only to resort guests. San Antonio golfers? Hey, you want to play, get a room.

Have I mentioned I'm pissed?

Was this the plan all along? Is this only coming to light now because the resort principals knew all along this would be the case but hid it until well after they had sucked all the goodies out of the city and county that were available? (And is that why the resort principals admitted it to the Austin paper, but apparently have never mentioned this to the San Antonio paper?)

San Antonio promises not to annex the property for 25 years, saving the principals tens of millions of dollars in taxes. The Texas Legislature passes a bill that grants the developer a special taxing district, so the developer can raise money by levying taxes. And these things happen after the City of San Antonio bypasses public sentiment against the original project with an end-run around its concerned citizens.

The response of TPC San Antonio to all this largesse? Thanks, San Antonio; oh, and by the way, you can't play out here.

I don't think the PGA Tour is to blame; it will manage the golf courses, but the owner of the resort - the JW Marriot Corp. - sets resort policy. And Marriott's resorts are swanky, and many of them have the same policy: only guests can play the golf courses.

After all that San Antonio has done for this project, after all the support of local golfers, you can bet that San Antonio golfers will feel angry, betrayed, screwed when they hear this information.

Is there anything that can be done about it? Yes: Mayor Hardberger, County Judge Wolff, we are looking to you to raise some hell. Put on the pressure. Remind these greedy bastards that they pledged - as they took our handouts - to be good citizens of San Antonio. But you can't be a good citizen of San Antonio if you won't speak to your neighbors.

Hey, it's not like the TPC courses would be crawling with local golfers anyway. Ninety-percent of locals would probably not even consider playing those courses because the greens fees will be so high. The Four Seasons Resort in Dallas charges guests more than $150; guests of the guests are charged more. That's the neighorhood the TPC San Antonio courses are likely to be in. That's a damn ritzy neighborhood, and many of the neighbors won't do anything more than drive by to check out the property.

But San Antonio golfers who want to play should have that option. (The Hyatt Hill Country Resort and the Westin LaCantera Resort don't just allow locals to play, they encourage us to play.)

There may be nothing the city or county can do, even if they are so inclined, to legally challenge (as in threatening to rescind certain tax giveaways) a guest policy that says San Antonio's golfers aren't welcome.

But there is something else we can all do: Raise some hell.

Raise some hell. Protest the restrictive policies that appear to be in place at TPC San Antonio. Call the mayor. Call Judge Wolff. Call the sports talks shows on the radio. Put public pressure on. Embarrass Marriott; embarrass the PGA Tour. It might be Marriott's policy, but you can bet the PGA Tour can influence it, if they are forced.

Let's force them. They took our handouts. San Antonio golfers gave them a hand in getting this thing built; now, apparently, they're giving us the back of their hand. So let's give them the finger.

Raise some hell, and force TPC San Antonio to let locals play.

TGA State Mid-Am

Here's a wrapup of the 2005 TGA State Mid-Amateur, played at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas over the weekend (wrapup courtesy of the Texas Golf Association):

Dallas, TX - The final round of the TGA State Mid-Amateur saw many names on and off of the leader board, and in the end it was Dan Dunkelberg of Ft. Worth holding the champion’s trophy. Dunkelberg birdied the first hole of a sudden death playoff with Mike Healer of Gatesville to win the 2005 TGA State Mid-Am at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas. His also won this event in 2000. Dunkelberg shot a final round 68 to finish at even par 213 for 54 holes. Healer had a second straight round of 70 after an opening round 73 for his 213 total.

Dunkelberg got off to a fast start with birdies on #1, #4, and #5 to get to three under. He made one more birdie and a bogey to finish at three under par for the day, and even par for the tournament. However, second round leader Terrence Miskell also got off to a fast start with birdies on two of his first three holes to get to three under par for the tournament and three shots clear of the field. Miskell then ran into trouble with bogeys at #6 and #7, and a triple bogey six on the par three eighth hole. That left the door open for several people, including Dunkelberg and Healer.

“I wanted to let them know I was around,” Dunkelberg said. “I got off to a good start, and kept trying to press that. I knew if I could get in and post a round it might put some pressure on Terrence, but I didn’t know until I saw the leader board on 16 that I had the lead.”

Healer, playing in only his second TGA State Mid-Amateur, said steady play was the key to his weekend. “I only missed one green today (Sunday) and just played real steady the last two days. I just made a lot of pars because I thought even par would have a chance to win.”

It certainly did as Dunkelberg and Healer were the only players in the 120 player field able to match par for 54 holes. Tied for third at three over par 216 were Sandy Pierce of Dallas and Mac McGee of Midland. Two more players, Michael Cooper of Austin and Artie Starrs of Dallas tied for fifth another stroke back.

Complete final results are attached. They are also available on the Texas Golf Association web site (http://www.txga.org/) by clicking on the Live Scoring/Results link at the top of the State Mid-Am tournament home page.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

TPC San Antonio Closed to Locals?

There's a good article in today's Austin American-Statesman about the TPC project now being built in San Antonio. It's a good overview of the issues involved in getting this major resort going, and a look forward and what's to come. Check it out here (you'll need to have or sign up for a Statesman user name/passwood to read it).

One paragraph in particular caught my eye:

His (Dye's) and Norman's courses in Bexar County will be open to guests of the resort, an arrangement similar to the one at the Four Seasons Resort in suburban Dallas. That resort includes the TPC of Las Colinas, where the Byron Nelson Championship is played each spring. Texas has one other TPC Course - the TPC at Craig Ranch in the northern suburbs of Dallas - but it is a private club.


Unless I'm misinterpreting that sentence - "will be open to guests of the resort, an arrangement similar to the one at the Four Seasons Resort in suburban Dallas" - or unless the reporter has this bit of info wrong, this means that the TPC of San Antonio will be closed to local golfers. Only guests of the resort - or guests of the guests of the resort - will be able to play the two courses.

Maybe this has been reported elsewhere, but I certainly haven't heard it. Is this correct? Has anyone out there heard this previously? Maybe I've had my head in the sand (or elsewhere) all this time, but I thought these courses were going to be open to the public.

I've been a supporter of this project all along, and if the courses are difficult for us regular people to get onto, that won't alter my support. But it sure takes away most of the anticipation.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Back Nine

Got an email from a friend today about his latest golf outing:

"I played Olympia Hills a couple weeks ago, shot 43 on thefront nine ... With double bogeys on 7, 8 and 9. On the back, I startout double, TRIPLE, double. I'm 7 over on the back, 13 over on the last six holes, I'm about the kill somebody. But on the par 3 13th, birdie. The par 5 14th, I'm about 20 yards shortof the green in two, CHIP IN for eagle. Par on 15, par on 16, birdie on17, par on 18. A 38 on the back for an 81."

Alas, it's often the opposite for me: I open with a great front nine, only to collapse somewhere around 14 or 15. There's one round in particular that has always haunted me, because it contained the best of shots and the worst of times.

This was many years ago, at Oso Beach Municipal in Corpus Christi, and I was trying to break 80 for the first time in my life. I was in great shape. I needed to play the final two holes (a pair of par-4s) in 9 strokes to finish with a 79.

On the 17th, I hit a great drive, straight down the middle, leaving myself about 175 to the pin. This is a tricky green with some undulation and a little finger of water sticking out into the fairway about 10 feet in front. Like all the greens at Oso, it's a postage stamp.

I took out a 7-iron and hit what is still the best shot of my life. Bam, down on the green 1 foot from the flag! Knock it in for a birdie and I'm feeling golden. I still can feel every sensation of that shot.

So I go to No. 18 floating, needing only a lousy 6 for my first-ever sub-80 round.

I tripled bogeyed for an 80. Such is golf.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Navasota Muni Closing

The Navasota city council voted recently to close its municipal golf course, effective Oct. 1. As is the case with a lot of city golf courses these days, Navasota's was losing money. The losses were about $50,000 per year, which is a quite a bit of money to a small town like Navasota.

Once the golf course ceases operations, Navasota plans to turn the acreage into a "parks-sports complex," with the sports part of that consisting of youth sports fields.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Arlington Golfer on "The Big Break IV"

Randall Hunt is a 26-year-old youth consellor and mini-tour pro living in Arlington. He's also one of the 12 contestants on "The Big Break IV," which begins airing on The Golf Channel tonight.

OK, so Hunt isn't actually from Texas. He's from the hard streets of Compton, Calif. Wonder if he knows Ice Cube? Let's hope he never knew Easy E.

But I think we can claim Hunt as a Texan and get behind him on "The Big Break." He sounds like a great guy:

Randall's parents also protected him from his environment, sacrificing so he could attend private school. That opportunity eventually led to his proudest accomplishment – earning a full golf scholarship to Pepperdine University. In 1997, he received the Jackie Robinson Scholarship for academic excellence and would later be honored by the same organization with the Youth Motivation Award for his work in the inner city.

...

He also works as a youth counselor at Hope Farm, a non-profit organization that helps inner-city kids in the Forth Worth, Texas, area, and where Granny – Ben Hogan's cook for more than 25 years – whips up some of her favorite recipes for the kids. Referring to his life experiences, Randall hopes that winning "The Big Break IV" will provide him with a chance to give back and realize a dream of playing on the world's grandest stage.

Then there's this:

Over time, the injury to his arm worsened to the point where doctors said he would never play golf again. After soul searching and visiting dozens of doctors, Randall decided to undergo a complex surgical procedure that had a 30 percent risk of leaving him a quadriplegic. The surgery was a success and Randall was able to continue the pursuit of his dream of playing professional golf.

Hmm, not sure how smart that sounds. But thank goodness it worked. If someone told me I could either give up golf or risk a 30-percent chance of becoming a quadriplegic, my clubs would be on eBay within seconds.

(Excerpts taken from the contestant bios on About.com.)

People vs. the Pros at Barton Creek

This year's "People vs. the Pros" - the event that pits two amateurs against two tour pros in individual match play for lots of money - will be televised on ESPN next Monday night. But if you want to know the results now, you can.

It was played at Austin's Barton Creek Resort this year, and the two pros involved were Jeff Leonard and, in the over-50 division, Ben Crenshaw. Close to 200 competitors went through a multiple-round qualifying tournament, after which Jeff Jumonville of Austin emerged as Leonard's challenger, while Atlantan Jay Whiteside emerged to take on Crenshaw.

The championship matches were played on Monday of this week (yesterday, as I write this). At stake was $100,000 for the winner and $50,000 for the loser. And, of course, both challengers were using their handicaps.

We're not going to post the winners and the scores here, because some of you might want to watch the show on ESPN. However, if you'd like to know now who won, here's how: Read the article about the finals in the Austin American-Statesman. The Statesman website requires registration to get to any of its stories, but registration is free and quick.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tight Lies Tour Report

One of the things that I like about the Tight Lies Tour is that it's willing to stage tournaments in places like Victoria. That's where last week's event, the Victoria Open, was played at the Victoria Country Club.

The winner was David Faught of Jonesboro, Ark., who prevailed in a three-way playoff over Ron Whittaker of Little Rock, Ark., and Grover Justice of Lexington, Kent. (And how good a name is "Grover Justice"?)

The complete results are available on the Tight Lies Tour website.

Friday, September 09, 2005

About those Golf Range Rankings ...

Thanks to Connie Black for pointing out a problem with the list of Texas members on Golf Range Magazine's Top 50 instructors rankings (see post below). Namely, that one of the facilities mentioned is a goner, and the instructor honored is gone, too.

Connie writes: "Sadly the Training Station (between Sugar Land and Richmond) is no more. It is going to seed, a church has purchased the property and is using the old clubhouse office as their church. I would be interested to know where Jim Murphy lands, he is truly a great golf instructor and a heck of a nice guy."

There's also an interesting omission from this year's Golf Range Top 50 list: nobody from New Braunfels' Sundance is included. Sundance Driving Range and Golf Course has been included in just about every Golf Range ranking (instructors, top facilities, top short courses, you name it) since it opened about 13 years ago. Unfortunately, Sundance is on the block, and at least one of its great instructors, Lonny Alexander, has departed for a private club in Austin.

On the Range

Like its big brothers in the golf publishing business, every year Golf Range Magazine publishes a list of the best instructors in America. Golf Range's list is a Top 50, and it's limited to instructors working at driving ranges and short courses.

Here are the Texans who made this year's list:

  • Dana Bellenger, Leonard Golf Links, Fort Worth
  • Hank Haney, Hank Haney Golf Ranch, McKinney
  • Mark Maness, Golden Bear Golf Center, Carrollton
  • Jim Murphy, The Training Station, Sugar Land
  • Roy Pace, Alpine Target Golf Center, Longview

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Austin Katrina Benefits

Here's a golf tournament in Austin that benefits victims of Katrina:

  • The Hurricane Katrina Benefit Golf Tournament takes place on Sept. 13 at Avery Ranch. One-hundred percent of entry fees and sponsor fees go to the American Red Cross. Entry fee is $125 per individual or $500 per team and includes golf, cart, range balls, lunch, fajita dinner, four drink tickets, and chances to win numerous prizes. Call 512-248-2442.

(Thanks to Austin Golf Dude for the heads-up.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

San Antonio Katrina Benefits

Here's a golf tournament in San Antonio that benefits victims of Katrina:

  • The Hurricane Relief Tournament will be played Sept. 21 at The Republic. Entry fee is $60; money raised goes to the hurricane relief fund of the American Red Cross. Call 210-359-0000.

Houston-Area Katrina Benefits

Tom Kirkendall, of the Houston's Clear Thinkers blog, responded almost immediately to my post about Katrina benefit tournaments. He passes along this list of tournaments in the Houston area:

  • On Monday, Oakhurst Golf Club hosts a 2 p.m. scramble. Cost of $50 per player also buys one of owner David Preisler's famous hamburgers. Players who bring diapers, baby wipes, toiletries, toys or bedding receive a special door-prize ticket. Call 281-354-4653.
  • On Tuesday, The Club at Carlton Woods hosts a scramble on its Jack Nicklaus course that's expected to draw professional athletes and celebrities. Cost is $500 per player, including CW hospitality. Call 281-863-5820.
  • On Saturday, Sept. 24, Hermann Park Golf Club hosts an 8 a.m. scramble. Cost is $100 per player, including refreshments and prizes. Call 713-526-0077.
  • On Tuesday, Sept. 27, Woodforest Golf Club hosts a 1:30 p.m. scramble that includes lunch, beverages and a catered dinner. Cost is $150 per player. Call Howard Levinson, 936-588-8801.
  • Timber Creek Golf Club wraps up a two-day promotion in which it is donating 100 percent of greens fees (with a corporate match to $10,000) collected Tuesday and today. Call 281-993-1140.
  • Tour Golf Academy's Adam Arnett announced his "Change your swing to change a life" program this past week. He'll donate a fat portion of revenue generated this month to the relief effort. Lessons and school registrations purchased in September can be gifted, and they're valid during the next 12 months. Call 281-685-3891.

Thanks very much, Tom. If you know of Katrina benefit tournaments in your area, drop me a line at bogeymcduff - at - yahoo.com.

Nice Try

I subscribe to many (way too many) golf course email alerts. The kind in which you are likely to receive advance news of discounts and specials. One arrived in my in-box this morning from a course that is offering a free ticket to the Texas Open with a regular green fee purchase.

Nice try, guys. This "special" will get you exactly zero new business. A couple years ago, one of the Texas Open's secondary sponsors, Diamond Shamrock, had free tickets available in every one of its gas stations in the San Antonio area. All you had to do was ask for one.

So one day, when picking up my morning coffee (screw Starbucks), I asked for one. Now, this was a promotion that had been advertised extensively on TV and radio, and most Diamond Shamrocks even had in-store banners or placards up. But when I asked for my free Texas Open pass, the clerk didn't know what I was talking about. She had to ask the manager on duty. The manager wasn't sure where the tickets actually were, and a short search ensued.

When they finally found the stack of passes, it was a large stack. All of which was caused by the fact that nobody was asking for tickets.

Texas Open tickets ... you can't give 'em away.

Katrina Benefit Tournaments

I've been watching for announcements of Katrina benefit tournaments. I know they're out there, especially with so many New Orleans evacuees in Texas. But so far, haven't found any.

So just a quick request: If you know of a coming golf tournament that will benefit the Katrina survivors, drop me a note at bogeymcduff - at - yahoo.com.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina Relief Fund

Stealing this post whole-hog from About.com (it's about charity, so I'm sure they won't mind):

Just as they did following the Southeast Asian tsunami, the major U.S. golf organizations are coming together to help in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

The U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund has a goal of raising $5 million. "As the true scope of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of the Gulf Coast is revealed, many in the golf community have expressed a strong desire to provide assistance to those in the hurricane ravaged areas that are in such need," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "The U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund gives the major golf organizations, along with tournaments, sponsors, players, fans, and even The First Tee network of facilities an effective way to make a meaningful contribution to ease the suffering being felt by so many."

Leadership for the fund comes from the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA of America, USGA, The Masters Tournament and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

In the near-term, contributions to the fund will be held by PGA Tour Charities, Inc., in a separate account. The best ultimate use of the funds will be determined in consultation with former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Donations to the fund are tax-deductible. Contributions can be made at pgatour.com, or mailed to:

The U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
c/o PGA TOUR Charities, Inc.
Attention: Ron Price, Chief Financial Officer, PGA TOUR
Post Office Box 2904
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-2904
Texans are playing a major role in helping New Orleans' dispossessed. Here's another chance to for use to contribute. If you can give, please do.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

STPGA Section Championship and CPC

Houston’s David Lundstrom, a former PGA Tour and Champions Tour professional, won his third consecutive Southern Texas PGA Section Championship with a 2-under-par total of 70-73-71—214 on the new Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club in Humble.

Lundstrom finished a stroke ahead of New Braunfels' Lonny Alexander and two strokes up on a group of seven golfers that included two-time national Club Professional Championship winner Tim Thelen of Houston and Houston’s Steve Parker, who set a Redstone Golf Club Tournament Course competitive course record of 65 in the final round of the Section Championship.

Alexander and Parker led a group of eight golfers who qualified for the 2006 PGA of America Club Professional Championship through their play in the STPGA Section Championship. Joining them will be Houston’s Ken Kelley and Brian Smith, Troy Schleicher of The Woodlands, Chip Craig of Kingwood, John Gibson of Houston and Trinity’s Robert Thompson.

The 2006 PGA Club Professional Championship will be held June 22-25, 2006, at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y.

(Note: Report from the STPGA)