Monday, October 31, 2005

Kinky Golf

Willie Nelson's golf fund-raiser for Kinky Friendman, held at Willie's Pedernales course, raised $170,000 for the unusual gubernatorial candidate.

Friedman dished out his signature one-liners along with a $1,000-per-person, buffet-style lunch of brisket, sausage, barbecue chicken, beans and rice. Another table offered vegan and kosher selections.

Nine contributors - including Dick DeGuerin, an attorney for Rep. Tom DeLay - paid $5,000 for a round of golf with Nelson, Friedman and (Jesse) Ventura.
Willie, Kinky, Jesse and Dick DeGuerin. What a foursome. I'm not sure if I'd laugh, or cower in fear, if those guys tried to play through my group. Maybe a little of both.

Friday, October 28, 2005

PGA Tour Q-School - First Stage Results

The first stage of PGA Tour Q-School is over. Three of the first-round qualifiers were held in Texas. Here are the Texans who made it through to the second round:

Black Horse Golf Club, Cypress
Chris Stroud, Beaumont, -15
Adam Meyer, Waco, -9
Kevin Messer, Missouri City, -8
Adam Babb, Arlington, -8
Matt Brost, Mansfield, -7
Richard Swift, Rockwall, -7
Stephen Reed, Houston, -7
Martin Flores, Mansfield, -6
Full Results

Lantana Golf Club, Lantana
Chris Parra, Dallas, -7
Casey Devoll, Cooper, -7
Jaxon Brigman, Frisco, -6
Stuart Deane, Arlington, -4
Michael Connell, Richardson, -4
Nicholas Loar, Rockwall, -4
Adam Rubinson, Fort Worth, -4
Edward Loar, Dallas, -3
Ryan Hanratty, Plano, -2
Chris Wheeler, Pilot Point, -2
Full Results

Cypresswood Golf Club, Spring
B.J. Staten, Dallas, -14
Jeff Burns, San Antonio, -14
Jamie Rogers, Amarillo, -10
Andy Doeden, Fort Worth, -7
Full Results

And there were a few Texans who qualified at first-stage locations outside the Lone Star State:

Greg Norman Course at PGA West, La Quinta, Calif.
Greg Hiller, San Antonio, -3

TPC of Tampa Bay, Lutz, Fla.
Colby Beckstrom, Colleyville, -13

San Juan Oaks, Hollister, Calif.
Craig Kanada, The Woodlands, -13

Esplendor Resort, Rio Rico, Ariz.
Chris Baryla, El Paso, -15
David Schultz, Fort Worth, -7

Second-stage qualifiers begin on Nov. 9, and two of those are being played in Texas:
  • Nov. 9-12: Deerwood Golf Club, Kingwood
  • Nov. 9-12: Stonebridge Country Club, Dye Course, McKinney

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Water Rights

I wouldn't have guessed that the Austin Chronicle would be a good place to find a story about golf, but there it was: a story about the water fight of which The Golf Club of Circle C finds itself in the middle.

Water issues are only going to become more and more pressing for golf courses, as they become more and more pressing for cities in drier climes all over Texas and the other parts of the U.S. When drought measures are adopted, golf courses - guzzling huge quantities of the precious liquid - are often among the first targets aimed at by conservationists. Rightly so, in my opinion. As Golf Digest course critic Ron Whitten has written, golf courses in the Southwest and West are going to have to start being built to different standards, and golfers are going to have to accept those standards: water to keep the greens alive, but let Mother Nature take care of (or not) the rest of the course. Play 'em hard and fast and save the water for more important uses.

The Golf Club at Circle C came up with a plan that it felt was eco-friendly and would save water that otherwise would come from other sources. It would capture rainwater, "store" it in an irrigation pond that would be so large as to qualify as a reservoir (water it would share with three neighboring developments), then take the water back out when needed for the course. This way, Circle C would drastically cut the amount of water it had to pump from the City of Austin's water supply.

But Texas has some byzantine laws when it comes to water rights. I'm not saying the laws are wrong; I don't know enough about them to make a judgement on that. But they are definitely complicated.

The Austin Chronicle explained the problems Circle C has run into with its plan:

The state officially owns all the surface water in Texas; entities wanting to use this water must apply for a state permit. The golf club's permit application deals with storm water, which is a bit of a fuzzy area in water law. The Texas Water Code includes storm water, rainwater, and floodwater within its definition of "state water"; however, the law has been interpreted to mean that these waters don't become a state resource until they flow into a body of water like a lake or a stream. In other words, a bucket of rainwater is yours. If you pour that water into a stream, it becomes state property. With its new irrigation system, the golf club essentially wants to collect a big bucket of rainwater, pour it in a streambed, and then take it back out again.

...

LCRA's associate general counsel, Lyn Dean, argued in a letter to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that the golf club's permit raises "potentially significant issues of precedent regarding the determination of when storm waters become 'state water.' " ... The LCRA's argument is based on the fact that the golf club plans to use a dry creek bed called Danz Creek to move the storm water into the SARISP (Southwest Austin Regional Irrigation Storage Pond, what the Circle C reservoir would be called). The LCRA points out that once water goes into a streambed, it belongs to the state. (Circle C general manager Chip) Gist, on the other hand, says the storm water is private water that wouldn't even be in Danz Creek in the first place if the Circle C irrigation system hadn't put it there – it would be sitting in three little detention ponds. "Way I see it, we're creating more state water," Gist
said.

It's a very interesting article. Go check it out.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hollytree Wins State Club Team Title

The Texas Golf Association held it State Club Team Championship over the weekend at Horseshoe Bay Resort in Marble Falls, and the team representing Tyler's Hollytree Country Club emerged as champions.

The event format was based on the USGA State Team Championships, in which teams of three representing each state compete. The two low scores among team members count for each day of competition. At the TGA, there were two days of play.

The Hollytree team of Darin Newhouse, Reggie Howell, and Paul Manziel edged Mansfield's Walnut Creek Country Club. In third was Golfcrest Country Club of Pearland.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Kudos for La Cantera

The November/December issue of Golf for Women Magazine includes a nice recommendation for the Westin La Cantera Resort and its La Cantera Golf Club. Or, more specifically, the Resort Course at La Cantera, rated by the magazine No. 40 on its list of 50 most women-friendly golf courses in America.

If you've been thinking of a husband-and-wife getaway to San Antonio that includes golf, click over to the article and scroll to the bottom. There's information on how to get a special rate by mentioning Golf for Women.

From JUCO to NAIA

The men's and women's golf teams at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College (don't be confused by the name - that's one men's team and one women's team, not four teams total) were supposed to play in the Mary-Hardin Baylor Invitational tournament next week, a JUCO event. Instead, they're looking for NAIA tournaments to enter.

The golf programs at UTB/TSC learned recently that they have been accepted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. They'll begin competing at the NAIA level as soon as they find tournaments with openings.

There aren't that many NAIA golf programs in Texas. By my count, there are 10 total:

Men's NAIA Golf Teams
Northwood (Cedar Hill)
Texas A&M International (Laredo)
Texas Wesleyan (Fort Worth)
Lubbock Christian
Wayland Baptist (Plainview)
UT-Brownsville and Texas Southmost

Women's NAIA Golf Teams
Lubbock Christian
Northwood (Cedar Hill)
Texas A&M International (Laredo)
UT-Brownsville and Texas Southmost

LPGA Awards

A couple of Texas professional are among the honorees recently announced by the LPGA in its annual Teaching and Club Professional section awards. The TC&P division of the LPGA annually names a Teacher of the Year, Professional of the Year, and Coach of the Year for each of its four sections. Texas is in the Central section.

Former touring pro Marci Bozarth, of Brae Burn Country Club in Houston, was named the Central section Professional of the Year.

Sylvia Ferdon of Baylor University was named Central section Coach of the Year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Driver's License Exam

A while back we told you about a driving range in San Antonio that had outlawed driving. The owner of Ten Cups Golf Center, David Fineg, just got tired of watching golfers who have no business hitting driver blasting his range balls into the woods around the range. Actually, what he got tired of was having to go into those woods to retrieve those wayward balls.

Now, Ten Cups Golf Center has a new test for those who want to bomb drives at the facility: the Ten Cups Driver's License Exam. Pass your drivers test, and you'll be allowed to hit driver at Ten Cups.

For the exam cost of $3, the golfer gets 10 swings with his or her driver. The goal is to put six of those shots into a grid marked off on the driving range. Successfully hit the grid 60-percent of the time and you'll be allowed to hit driver anytime you want at Ten Cups. Fail your driver's exam, and it's no driver for you.

Check out Ten Cups on the web at http://www.tencups.com/.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Signed Scorecards? Evidence

Have you been following the contretemps over President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers? There's an interesting article in the Austin American-Statesman about how Miers came into the Bush circle.

Bush hired Miers to represent him in lawsuit filed by a former caretaker at Bush's private fishing resort near Athens. The caretaker was claiming he was wrongfully fired after being injured on the job.

What does this have to do with golf? Nothing, really, so don't read the article unless you're interested in the relationship between Miers and Bush. But ...

There was this nugget in the article: members of the resort argued that the caretaker deserved to be fired because he was shirking his duties in favor of, among other things, playing golf. As evidence, they produced signed scorecards from the local country club.

Let this be a lesson to us all: Next time we shirk our responsibilities in favor of golf, don't sign the scorecard!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

England Has the Spirit

Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity was the site of the The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship over the weekend, a four-day event pitting teams of amateur men and women golfers representing 24 different countries.

And your winner: England, which finished at 43-under 553. Each country fielded a 2-person men's team and a 2-person women's team. The men's and women's team scores were combined each day, for one country score. Hence the odd stroke total.

The U.S. finished tied with South Africa in second place. If you want to know about The Spirit competition, check out the tournament website.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Corpus Christi's Pharaohs CC

Got an email the other day from my mother. No, it was not instructions on what to wear that day. She's a real estate broker in Corpus Christi, where I grew up, and she was writing to tell me that Pharaohs Country Club was on the market for $4.9 million.

Gee, only $4.8 million out of my price range.

But her note got me thinking about the golf situation in Corpus. Growing up, I was convinced - as was just about every golfer you'd run into at Oso Beach Municipal or Gabe Lozano Jr. Golf Center (Gabe's for short) - that Corpus was desperately in need of a third municipal golf course. Oso and Gabe's were always packed, they suffered greatly from the overplay, and the closest other public courses were in Sinton, Kingsville and Alice.

A couple years ago, the City of Corpus Christi hired the National Golf Foundation to study the issue of whether the city needed a third course. The NGF came back with a resounding "no." Take care of the courses you've got before you worry about adding another, was the conclusion. Too few city resources were put into the two existing courses. Adding a third would make a bad situation worse.

While I agreed that the city didn't take good enough care of its two courses, I disagreed with the NGF recommendation at the time. Now, however, after thinking over the fate of Pharaohs, I'm convinced that Corpus Christi does not need a third municipal golf course. Because the golfers there aren't supporting what is now the only other public golf course in town: Pharaohs.

Pharaohs went semi-private, opening to the public, about 18 years ago. I last lived in Corpus Christi about eight years ago, but in my time there I never saw a full parking lot at Pharaohs. Heck, I never saw people waiting on the first tee for a group ahead to clear. This despite the fact that Pharaohs was almost always in better shape than the two Corpus munis, and despite the fact that, with a cart added in, Pharaohs was cheaper than the two munis. The course just couldn't draw a crowd. Golfers I know who are still in Corpus tell me this situation hasn't changed.

How much of a need for another muni can there be when an additional course goes public and can't get anyone to play it? It's as if Corpus golfers are too busy complaining about the munis to notice there's another course now open to them.

I've always thought Pharaohs was a great opportunity waiting for the right ownership. Maybe the new owners will be the right owners. What they need to do is a major marketing push to publicize their semi-private status, their cheaper-than-the-munis status, and their not-overcrowded status. As far as I know, Pharaohs has never tried a big advertising push.

But the money is there waiting to be made. And Corpus Christi golfers might finally realize they can stop waiting for a third muni and start playing the semi-private course down the road.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Texas Tournaments Appear Safe in New PGA Tour Schedule

The intrigue on the PGA Tour for the past couple months has been on the shape of the PGA Tour schedule come 2007, when a new television contract will start. Commissioner Tim Finchem has favored some major changes, including the shortening of the schedule and the moving of some big events.

The worry here, and in some tournament offices, was that one or more of the four Texas events might be dropped from the schedule. Well, worry no more.

The current issue of Golfweek has a great article on what's in store when the new schedule is announced, believed to be sometime in November. And it's all good for Texas.

According to Golfweek's sources, the Houston Open will remain in its current slot, and the Byron Nelson Classic will move up behind the Houston Open. The Nelson in Dallas and Colonial in Fort Worth have traditionally been played back to back, but the two Metroplex events would split up under the new schedule.

The biggest change by far is that the Texas Open, played in San Antonio on the same weekend as the Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup, would move into primetime with a date in mid-May. The Texas Open, according to the Golfweek schedule, will take place the week after The Players Championship and the week before Colonial.

This article is not yet posted at golfweek.com, but pick up a copy of the magazine at the newsstand. It's worth a read.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

RIP, Sundance

Sundance Golf Course in New Braunfels, one of the most-honored practice facilities and with an ownership whose involvement in junior golf was equally lauded, has closed. It's a big blow to junior golf in the San Antonio area.

There were rumors for quite some time that the husband-and-wife ownership team of Rob and Sue Puetz were selling. Those rumors came true when the San Antonio investment firm of Koontz McCombs purchased the course. No word on what plans Koontz McCombs has for the property - apartments or a retail center are my guesses - but Sundance was closed as soon as the deal closed.

The facility, which combined practice areas, a driving range, a very good 18-hole executive course, and two great instructors, was the host site for the Central Texas Junior Golf Association. Sue Puetz served on the board of the CTJGA and created many other junior programs at Sundance; she wrote a manual on starting and running junior golf programs that is recommended by the USGA.

Sundance opened in 1995 and every year of its existence was named one of the Top 100 driving ranges/practice facilities in the U.S. by Golf Range Magazine.

PGA Tour winner David Ogrin, now instructor of golf with Boerne-based Foresight Golf, and himself based at Foresight's course in New Braunfels, The Bandit, is the new leader of the CTJGA. Which bodes well for the future of that organization, at least.

But the late, great Sundance will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Whatever Happened to ... Ty Tryon?

What happened to him on Monday is that he failed to qualify for this week's Permian Basin Open on the Nationwide Tour. Which explains why you'll find this feature about Tryon in the Midland newspaper.

(Quick aside: With Michelle Wie turning pro, there are a lot of people talking about Ty Tryon these days. Some of them are even suggesting that Wie might turn into another Tryon (a flameout, in other words). Well, anyone who thinks Michelle Wie has "Ty Tryon" written all over is ... how shall I put this? ... out of their freakin' mind.)

Part of the Midland newspaper's article about Tryon focuses on the round he played in Monday qualifying (a 72). The other part is about Tryon's travails, turning pro at 17, failing to make an impact on the PGA Tour, now relegated to mini-tours and stabs at Monday qualifying.

You remember Tryon, right? He was the kid who burst on the scene four years ago by becoming the youngest player since 1957 to make the 36-hole cut at a professional tournament. You know, the one who in 2001 became the youngest player to ever earn a PGA Tour card.

Four years later, Tryon has fallen off the map. He no longer has his tour card and has been relegated to playing on mini tours to prepare himself for the next tour qualifying school.
But maybe it's too soon to give on Tryon. He's only 20 years old, after all. And Sean O'Hair is proof that a teen prodigy can disappear into the wilderness and re-emerge later as a force on the PGA Tour. Ty hasn't given up on Ty.

As strange as it may seem, Tryon says he isn't far away from being the player that he clearly has the ability to be.

"I'm not far off at all," he said. "I'm more confident than I've ever been, and I know I'm a better player now than I've ever been.

"I'm going back to (tour-qualifying) school and I think I'm right there."


Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Golf Coming to Concan

Concan, where the Frio River flows clear and Garner State Park seems to always be packed with picnickers and campers, will soon be the site of an 18-hole golf course. The owners will be the husband-and-wife team who also own the area's Frio Country Store and House Pasture Cattle Company Restaurant.

You might have had the same reaction I did the first time I read of the couple's other businesses: sounds like this will be a typical small-town-Texas goat track. But then I read further into the story about the course that appeared in the Uvalde newspaper, and now I'm very excited.

The golf course is being designed by the Austin-based team of Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell, the duo behind the University of Texas Golf Club, the Ambush in Lajitas, and Comanche Trace in Kerrville (with Tom Kite). These guys are good.

The course will boast a 7,000-square foot clubhouse, complete with spa. And it will measure more than 7,300 yards while playing to a par-72.

It's going to be called Concan Golf and Country Club at Mountain Valley. Construction began in July and the owners hope to have it open for play by fall of 2006. You can read more here.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fort Worth Muni Pass

If you play a lot of golf in Fort Worth, and enjoy the city's municipal courses, you might want to check out the city's Annual Pass program. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the passes cost from $649 for an individual to more than $900 for a family of four.

I know what you're thinking: Sounds like a lousy deal! My city offers a golf pass for 25 bucks! But wait: Fort Worth's golf pass lets you play as much as you want during the year, for close to free. There's a $5 per-round surcharge to Annual Pass holders at the Pecan Valley facility, but just $2 per round at the other Cowtown munis.

Get more info at www.fortworthgolf.org.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Want to Write About Golf?

Now's your chance. At least, that is, if you live and golf in San Antonio or Austin.

A website called BunkerShot.com launched about a year and a half ago. What BunkerShot.com is doing is providing local editions and wrapping national golf headlines around those local editions, all in one easy to read (but not very pretty, I'll admit) package. Good ol' Bogey here is the new editor for the San Antonio and Austin editions, located at http://www.bunkershot.com/sanantonio/ and http://www.bunkershot.com/austin/, respectively.

The idea is to provide local golf headlines - news about upcoming events and who won the just-completed events, info on local golfers and golf pros, local courses and their conditions or specials ... you get the picture.

What I'm looking for are a couple golfers in each city who are interested in writing about golf in your town. You don't have to have any writing experience, although you certainly do need to be able to construct a sentence and spell correctly. Mostly, you just need to be passionate about golf and have a very good knowledge of your local golf scene.

So if you are interested in occasionally writing an article about the San Antonio golf scene or Austin golf scene, drop me a line at bogeymcduff - at - yahoo.com.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bring Wie to Texas, Part MMIX

OK, this isn't really my MMIXth post urging Texas' PGA tournaments to do all they can to get Michelle Wie into their fields. It just feels that way.

But, darn it, I'll stop yammering about it as soon as one (or more) of our tourneys take my advice! What are they waiting for, a Power Point presentation?

Michelle Wie, as all golfers who live on this planet now know, turned pro on Wednesday. She's the biggest name in women's golf right now in terms of drawing power. Easily. Bigger than Sorenstam. Perhaps even bigger than that fellow on the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods.

I've been agitating for two years for the folks who run the Texas Open, which desperately needs an injection of excitement, to do all they can to get Wie into the field. It's hard for me to fathom why they haven't made such an effort.

According to rumor, the Texas Open and some other PGA Tour events are afraid they'd suffer a backlash from PGA Tour members if they invited Wie. They point to the Colonial as evidence (which is ironic, since I also believe the Colonial should go all out to get Wie) that inviting a chick will cause some players to avoid the tournament. If that's true, I've got one word for such guys (and such tournament officials): weenies.

But I don't think it's true. Sure, Vijay Singh stopped playing Colonial when Annika was invited, but that was his fault, not hers. If he hadn't made such idiotic and sexist statements about that event, Vijay wouldn't have been bashed in the media as he was. He brought that on himself. But regardless, the Colonial field had been slowly dwindling for years. And regardless, some of the golf's biggest stars do still occasionally show up (Phil Mickelson played last year, for example).

And the Texas Open? It's already a tournament full of back-of-the-money-list grinders trying to cling to their Tour cards. Do the Texas Open officials really believe that any of these guys would pull out in protest? And if they did, who cares? I'll gladly suffer the absence of a few Patrick Sheehans and Daniel Chopras in favor of Michelle Wie.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rita Damage Assessment

Here's an article from the Beaumont Enterprise on damage to Beaumont and Southeast Texas golf courses by Hurricane Rita:

While Homberg's present clubhouse suffered some wind damage, the adjacent new one now under construction went unscathed.

Had Tuesday's optimistic foursome chosen Bayou Din Golf Club as their destination, they wouldn't even have gotten to the parking lot.

A chain blocks the entrance to the driveway, and next to it is a sign proclaiming, "Looters Will Be Shot On Sight."

While no one was on duty at Bayou Din Tuesday morning, Francisco Herrera, a member of the Iron Oaks Golf Club grounds crew, visibly went about his work of
preparing that facility for a hopeful reopening on Saturday.

"We've lost some shingles from the clubhouse roof, and we've had some damage to the cart barn and the maintenance barn," said Ronnie Pfleider, a co-proprietor at Iron Oaks. "Most of the rest of the damage is downed trees, and most of them are on Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 17.

"We will assess the course again tomorrow and make a decision then whether we will be able to open on Saturday."

Cypresswood's Tradition Restoration Near Completion

Doug Pike's local golf notebook in the Houston Chronicle this week included the news that the restoration of the Tradition Course at Cypresswood Golf Club is close to finished, and that Tradition will be re-opening on Oct. 11.

Cypresswood is a 54-hole complex in Spring, built on wooded terrain near the confluence of Spring and Cypress creeks. It's a great facility - Tradition has been voted best public course in the Houston area by the Chronicle four straight years - that was in need of some touchup work.

Foresight Golf, which bought the property earlier this year, is shelling out some bucks on Cypresswood and has more updates in store.

Monday, October 03, 2005

State Senior Four Ball

The dynamic Dallas duo of Chip Stewart and Larry Thomas were wire-to-wire winners of the Texas Golf Association's State Senior Four Ball championship over the weekend. It's the second time in three years the pair has won this title.

From the TGA news release:

Stewart & Thomas’s consistent ball striking allowed them to stay out of harm's way the entire tournament and capture a one stroke victory over Frank Duphorne of Bullard and Andy Wall of Tyler. Stewart & Thomas made 14 birdies and just one bogey on there way to victory. Wall and Duphorne rallied late with a birdie on the 17th hole to close within one shot heading into the final hole. However Stewart’s clutch second shot into the demanding par four 18th hole to about 12 feet, put the pressure solely on Wall & Duphorne to make birdie at the last. Wall’s birdie attempt finished just left of the hole leaving Stewart with just a tap for the victory. Making a charge up the leader board on the final day was Larry Trowell & Si Harris of The Colony firing the low round of the day, a five under par 66 to grab sole possession of third place.

For more, see the Championships section of the TGA website.