Friday, December 29, 2006

New to the Scene: Golf Foundation of Texas

A press release crossed the transom in the Texas Golf wire room not too long ago, a press release announcing the 2007 Golf Expo in Austin on March 9-11.

Described as the "largest golf exposition in Central Texas," the 2007 Golf Expo "will feature new products and seminars, and welcome golf professionals, retailers, manufacturers and golfers of all skill levels to gather, train, educate and see the latest, up-to-date equipment in the game today." Admission will be $8 to $10 at the door, or free for those who join the Golf Foundation of Texas.

And that's what caught my eye: Golf Foundation of Texas. What is the GFT? What's its purpose? Who's behind it? The GFT was new to me.

The Golf Foundation of Texas was announced in early December, it turns out (by the well-connected PR firm of Meng & Associations, which has many high-profile clients in the golf industry).

Here is part of the press release announcing the formation of the GFT:

AUSTIN, Texas — The future of Texas golfers has never been brighter, and the newly established Golf Foundation of Texas plans to ensure that future with new
financial scholarships for young Texas golfers. Created to educate and inspire Texans that have an interest in golf, the all-new Golf Foundation of Texas (GFT) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for the purpose of promoting golf and fostering interest in the game.

As its primary mission, the Golf Foundation of Texas is awarding financial scholarships to high school seniors who are planning to attend Texas-accredited institutions.

"Many young adults enjoy sports of all kinds, and it’s through their participation of sports and golf that they learn important life skills," says Amy Blakely, marketing director for the Golf Foundation of Texas. "Golf offers the opportunity to experience the rewards of personal achievement and teaches self-discipline, co-operation and respect. Our primary goal is to provide young Texans with the chances they need to receive those rewards and to create educational opportunities through the advancement of golf."

In an email, Ms. Blakely identified the Golf Foundation of Texas board members:

  • Nick Spiropolous, Lakeway (interim executive director)
  • Don Blakely, Liberty Hill
  • Matt Morrow, Georgetown
  • Kelly Webb, Round Rock
  • Guy Gabarino, Round Rock
  • Theresa Carney, Austin

The Golf Foundation of Texas is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

"Like many Texans, we want to make a brighter future for the next generation. By joining the Foundation, or by making a contribution, golfers and businesses can make these scholarships possible," Amy Blakely said. "It’s up to all of us to ensure the golfing lifestyle is enjoyed by Texans, now and in the future."

The 2007 Golf Expo in Austin in March is considered the group's kick-off event. For more information on the expo, or the Golf Foundation of Texas, visit the GFT Web site at www.txgolf.org, or call 800-694-8680.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holiday Lull

Hope everyone is in the midst of a great holiday season. There hasn't been much going on lately in the world of Texas golf, as the relative dearth of posting here indicates. But here are a couple stories that have popped up recently:

• Hal Sutton's Boot Ranch is getting the boot from the Municipal Police Employees Retirement Fund, the Louisiana police pension organization that has been a major funder of the problem-plagued Fredericksburg luxury development. MPERS says it is selling off its interest in Boot Ranch.

• An injuried Iraq war veteran is given a customized golf cart by friends and supporters in Friendswood.

• "Big Break VI" contestant Jeff Mitchell from Frisco tells his hometown paper the participating on the show was an "intense" experience.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rodriguez Leads Team USA

Congratulations to Texas A&M product and San Antonio resident Anthony Rodriguez for being named MVP of Team USA in the inaugural event held by the Pro Team Golf League (PTGL).

The PTGL's plan is to have "teams" of golfers representing cities across North America, just as teams do in the NFL, for example. These teams will meet in a regular-season schedule of Ryder Cup-style competitions, but with a twist: registered fans - the PTGL calls them "Pro Coaches" - get to set team strategy (pairings, order of play) by voting on the league Web site.

The PTGL tee-off event was a USA vs. Canada match, featuring players from the Canadian Tour, played in Jamaica over the weekend.

Rodriguez went 3-0 in the competition, winning a foursome and a fourball match, along with his singles match, and was named "most valuable player." (Seems like that should be MVG.)

You can read more about this event, plus watch video from the competition and read up on the PTGL's plans and "Pro Coaches" procedures, at www.ptgl.com.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

ACC's Morgan Named STPGA Pro of the Year

The Southern Texas PGA's Professional of the Year for 2006 is Dale Morgan, just the third head golf professional in the history of Austin Country Club.

It's the second time Morgan has won the STPGA's top honor. He joins George Hannon, Bob Putt, Charlie Epps, Charles Eskridge and Ron Coville as the only two-time winners of the award. The only three-time winner is David Findlay.

"To win that award once is awfully humbling," said Morgan. "To be recognized by your peers twice is so very special . It's something I’ll never forget."

Morgan is only the third head pro Austin Country Club has ever had, following Harvey Penick and Tinsley Penick.

Morgan has served as the STPGA's president for the past two years and as the Section's vice-president and secretary prior to that. He has spent the past 13 years as an STPGA officer or member of the STPGA Board of Directors.

Morgan has received the STPGA's Bill Strausbaugh Award four times (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003) for his work in the club relations arena; he worked on the PGA of America’s national Club Relations Committee in 2001 and 2002. He was named the STPGA's Merchandiser of the Year (Public Facilities) in 1994 while serving as the head golf professional at River Place Country Club in Austin.

Morgan and his fellow 2006 STPGA award winners will be formally presented with their honors during the STPGA's 2007 President's Dinner, to be held Jan. 7 at Austin Country Club.

Neil Wilkins, director of instruction at Sienna Plantation Golf Club in Missouri City, is the STPGA's 2006 Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year. Wilkins, previously honored as the STPGA's 1996 Assistant Professional of the Year and the STPGA Eastern Chapter Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year in 2003 and 2005, has worked with a number of prominent golfers, including PGA Tour winners Ryan Palmer, Chad Campbell, Jason Bohn, Craig Perks and Keith Fergus.

Jim Baetge, owner and head golf professional at College Station's Lone Star Golf Academy, is the 2006 Southern Texas PGA Junior Golf Leader. The award is presented in recognition of members who dedicate themselves to the support of junior golf and golfers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kerrville's Comanche Trace Adding Another Nine


The Club at Comanche Trace, one of the best golf courses in Texas, is getting a new nine holes.

The new nine is scheduled to join the existing 18 in Fall 2007. Construction is under way now, and photos of the construction are being posted on the Comanche Trace Web site at www.comanchetrace.com/golfcourse_ThirdNine.htm.

I like the photo above (taken in November) because it shows why building golf courses in the Hill Country can be a challenging and expensive proposition: all that rock to deal with.

Interestingly, the new nine is being designed by Jay Morrish & Associates, and not the designers of the original 18, Tom Kite, Randy Russell and Roy Bechtol. There's certainly nothing wrong with hiring Morrish's company - Jay Morrish is among the first rank of golf course architects. (It's my understanding that Jay Morrish is mostly retired these days, with his son Carter Morrish taking the lead on most designs, although the Comanche Trace Web site makes it sound like Jay and Carter will be collaborating.)

But the Kite and Bechtol-Russell team did such a fantastic job with the original 18, you'd think the club's first inclination would have been to go back to them for the addition. Assuming the club did check first with the original team, the reason for their not doing the job could be any number of things (too busy with other projects, for example).

At any rate, look for the new nine to one of Texas' best layouts next year.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Texas Courses in "Best Of" Rankings

Golf Digest and Golfweek magazines have both recently released their annual golf course rankings. Here's a look at how Texas courses fared in each.

Golf Digest - Best New Courses 2006

  • Best New Private: 3. Fazio Course at The Club at Carlton Woods, The Woodlands
  • Best New Public $75 and Over: 9. Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club, Humble

Golfweek
  • Best 50 New Courses: 33. TPC at Craig Ranch, McKinney

Golfweek's Top 15 Courses in Texas
1. Crown Colony, Lufkin
2. Rawls Course at Texas Tech, Lubbock
3. Barton Creek (Fazio-Canyons), Austin
4. Pine Dunes Resort & GC, Frankston
5. Barton Creek (Fazio-Foothills), Austin
6. Memorial Park, Houston
7. The Bandit, New Braunfels
8. Waterwood National, Huntsville
9. Cowboys GC, Grapevine
10. Horseshoe Bay (Ram Rock), Horsehoe Bay
11. La Cantera, San Antonio
12. TPC at Las Colinas, Irving
13. Texas Star, Euless
14. Horseshoe Bay (Applerock), Horseshoe Bay
15. Quarry, San Antonio

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Beckman, Hall Earn Q-School Stripes

Cameron Beckman and Kim (Rowton) Hall led the way for the Texas contingent at the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour Q-Schools, respectively.

Beckman, who lives in San Antonio, is a native of Minnesota who traveled to Seguin to play collegiately at Texas Lutheran University. He's spent all or part of seven seasons on the PGA Tour, with one victory, but had to return to Q-School this year after finishing 176th on the money list.

No worries, though. Beckman was strong throughout Q-School, finishing in a tie for fourth place.

Hall is a native of San Antonio who grew up in the Alamo City and now lives in Las Vegas. She had conditional status on the LPGA Tour in 2006, her first year with status of any kind on the big tour. She had 11 starts and earned just under $32,000 this year, for 136th on the money list.

But no worries, redux. Hall also finished fourth, earning fully exempt status for the 2007 LPGA Tour.

PGA Tour Q-School scores
LPGA Tour Q-School scores

Monday, December 04, 2006

Whoops

Promo just spotted on The Golf Channel for "Playing Lessons with the Pros":

Follow along with young golf phenom David Gossett, and find out how he hits it
so far and scores so long.

Um, Golf Channel, you might want to check Gossett's stats over the past four years or so and rewrite that promo.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Palmer Working on Mustang Island

An article in the Orlando Sentinel details Arnold Palmer's move from golfer to full-time golf course architect. Arnie has moved his design business to his home base at Bay Hill and is taking a much more active role since deciding to permanently hang up his spikes.

And that means Palmer is more personally involved in the golf course he has under development on Mustang Island, near Port Aransas, as part of a major development there.

According to the article:

Over the next three years, Palmer's staff will unveil five courses around the world that will feature a combined 30 holes of golf along the seashore. The courses are located on Mustang Island in Texas, the islands of St. Lucia, Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, plus along the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

"Think about that -- 30 holes with the impact of the 18th at Pebble Beach," Larsen said. "I don't think we have gotten our just recognition. Three to five years from now, I think the Palmer guys are going to be viewed among the best of all the architects. I feel pretty strongly in the sites, the clients and the staff, especially now that Arnold is involved."

That certainly raises expectations, eh?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Texan Dill Still Swinging - This Time In Europe


Terry Dill has played the PGA Tour, then the Senior PGA Tour (now called the Champions Tour, of course). Next year, he'll have a new home: the European Seniors Tour.

Dill is 67 years old now, but he gained conditional status on the Euro Seniors by finishing 11th in the qualifying tournament.

He'll be returning to golf after time of for various activities, one of which was running for the Texas Legislature. He lost in the Republican primary.

"I thought I was a right wing Republican," Dill told USA Today, "but I wasn't right wing enough." Yep, that'll happen to you in Texas these days.

Read the full article

Monday, November 20, 2006

PGA Tour Qualifying - Second Stage

Six second-stage qualifiers for the PGA Tour wrapped up over the weekend, and the next step for the golfers who advanced is Q-School finals. Two of those second-stage tournaments were in Texas, and here is the list of Texans who advanced out of each site:

Deerwood Golf Club, Kingwood
(Top 20 and ties advance)
2. Adam Rubinson, Benbrook, 285
t7. Roland Thatcher, The Woodlands, 288
t9. Mark Walker, Hurst, 289
t13. Richard Swift, Rockwall, 290
t18. Cameron Beckman, San Antonio, 291
Full Results

TPC Craig Ranch, McKinney
(Top 19 and ties advance)
1. Anthony Kim, Dallas, 274
t5. Paul Stankowski, Flower Mound, 276
t10. Franklin Hatchett, Dallas, 279
t13. Edward Loar, Dallas, 280
t13. Kelly Grunewald, Grand Prairie, 280
Full Results

Other Sites
Southern Dunes Golf Club, Maricopa, Ariz.: 8. Jason Schultz, Dallas, 274

There are always a lot of recognizable names - past PGA Tour winners and members - who can be spotted in these results, and many such players who fail to advance. You can see the full results from each of the six second-stage qualifiers here.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Latest on Boot Ranch

Boot Ranch is the controversial luxury golf course development outside of Fredericksburg that is the brainchild of Hal Sutton.

It's been controversial because of part of the financing for the development came from the pension fund of Louisiana police officers, and the members of that pension fund are unhappy with how their retirement money has been invested; and because of water issues in the Texas Hill Country, including decreased supply and increased demand. (Gee, nobody could have seen that coming, eh?)

But the golf course itself has been open for a while. Now Sutton's challenge is to sell home lots, and to sell club memberships.

The San Antonio Express-News has a lengthy article detailing the rocky road to fruition that Boot Ranch has traveled. Among the things we learn in the article are:

  • Membership initiation fees are $175,000, and dues are a minimum of $1,000 per month.
  • Sutton has sunk northwards of $30 million of his own money into the development.
  • Former President George H.W. Bush is an honorary member, although he has no plans to visit the club.
And that the pensioners continue to fight, and that area water rights owners continue to fight. You can read the full article here.

Also, the Boot Ranch Web site is now up and running.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Improvements Complete at Austin's Circle C

The Golf Club at Circle C in Austin has had a "please excuse our construction" sign out for a while. But the various upgrades and improvement projects are over after nearly a year of work. What's the verdict?

The Austin American-Statesman reports: "Already top facility now even better."

Monday, November 13, 2006

PGA Tour Winner Edwards Takes Title at SPI Texas Senior Open

From the STPGA:

Danny Edwards of Scottsdale, Ariz., shot a final round score of 66 for a 54-hole total of 4-under-par 75-71-66—212 to win the 2006 South Padre Island Golf Club at South Padre Island Golf Club in Laguna Vista, Texas. Edwards’ victory was worth $14,000 of the tournament’s total purse of $80,000.

Edwards, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, was five shots out of the lead when the final round began. He birdied three of the first five holes before taking his lone stumble of the day, a bogey on the par 4 ninth hole.

“I had a good solid day,” said Edwards of his final round. “When I birdied #11 and eagled the (par 5) 13th, I figured I had to be getting close to the lead.”

Edwards scored another birdie on the 16th for the final margin of victory, even though he didn’t know it at the time.

The southerly prevailing winds at South Padre Island Golf Club had dominated play through the first two rounds, and then a cold front blew through the night before the final round. The accompanying north winds turned the final rounds into a survival of the fittest. Cases in point:

  • Defending champion Chuck Moran of Houston led after the first round and was tied for second place after two rounds. He moved to 4-under par through 12 holes during the final round, but a bogey on the 14th hole dropped him to 3-under . . . he finished in second place at 69-74-70—213 for $10,000 in winnings.
  • Tony Peterson of Blythesville, Ark., was tied with Edwards at 4-under-par when he reached the final hole. His approach shot, played directly into north winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour, died in the pond just short and right of the 18th green. The resulting double bogey left him in third place at 70-74-70—214 for a check of $8,000.

Fort Worth’s Lindy Miller finished in fourth place at 74-70-71—215 ($6,000), followed by James Blair of Ogden, Utah, in fifth place at even-par 72-71-73—216 ($5,000).

Richard LaPierre of San Antonio (73-73-74—220) and Tom Takes of Weatherford, Texas, (78-70-72—220) contested a sudden-death playoff for low amateur honors, with LaPierre taking home the trophy with a birdie on the second extra hole.

Friday, November 10, 2006

North Texas Pros Rumble in Jordan Cup

The James P. Jordan Cup Matches - pitting teams representing the Northern Texas PGA and the South Central PGA sectionals in Ryder Cup-style competition - wasn't much of a contest this year. The NTPGA team played the role of Europeans, and the SCPGA team looked like the Americans.

Here's a report from the NTPGA:

BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma – The Northern Texas PGA team played three solid rounds of team golf to capture back the Jordan Cup from the South Central PGA team in the 2006 James P. Jordan Cup Matches. The 15.5 to 8.5 victory by the NTPGA brings the Cup back to the Northern Texas Section after a one-year absence. Captained by Dean Larsson, an assistant golf professional at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas, the NTPGA team really turned up the play during the
Foursome Matches when they won the Monday afternoon session 5 – 1.

The James P. Jordan Cup is a “Ryder Cup” style event contested between a team of twelve of the top playing assistant golf professionals in the Northern Texas Section against a team of the twelve top playing assistant golf professionals in the South Central Section (Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Kansas). The Northern Texas PGA Team now leads 14-2 all time in the Matches.

The NTPGA had an 8 – 4 point lead following the Four-Ball (best-ball) matches and the afternoon Foursome (alternate shot) matches on Monday. The NTPGA took seven single matches and halved another to solidify a great team win.

The James P. Jordan Cup Matches are an annual competition between teams of assistant golf professionals from the Northern Texas PGA Section and the South Central PGA Section. The Matches are named for the late James P. Jordan, a past chairman of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas and Northwood Club member.

Match results can be found on the NTPGA Web site.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

San Antonio's Loss is Scottsdale's Gain


Michael Lamanna, director of The Academy at La Cantera in San Antonio over the past several years, has announced he is leaving the Westin La Cantera Resort to join The Phoenician - another Troon-managed property - in Scottsdale, Ariz.

I've had the pleasure to get to know Lamanna during his time at La Cantera, and it's tough to think of a nicer guy in golf. And that makes him one of the best teachers you'll run across, too. How many golfers are intimidated out of ever taking lessons because they've heard stories about gruff or even rude instructors, teachers who lost patience or expressed frustration when the student wasn't grasping a given concept?

My guess is that Lamanna never once had such a moment with a student. His methods are simple and direct, and the nice-guy part of the equation makes working with Michael a joy.

He will be missed in San Antonio. But if you're ever in Scottsdale, go visit him at The Phoenician, and tell him Bogey sent you.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

South Texas Retains Joe Black Cup in Tie

For the first time in the 26-year history of the Texas Joe Black Cup Matches, the teams of golf professionals representing the Southern Texas PGA and Northern Texas PGA played to a tie - the competition ended with both teams having accumulated 12 points and the Southern Texas PGA, lead by Captain Mike Higgins of Bryan, retained the Texas Joe Black Cup by virtue of its point total and its victory in the 2005 matches.

The two teams entered the deciding singles matches tied at six points each following six four-ball and six foursome matches. The Northern Texas PGA team, led by Captain Tom Campbell of Bullard, earned five points in the first eight singles matches and appeared well on its way to the 12-1/2 point total it needed to wrest the Cup away from the STPGA, but Ken Kelley, Carl Baker and Henrik Simonsen won the next three matches to insure the STPGA of at least a tie. When the NTPGA’s Cameron Doan defeated the STPGA’s Bruce Smith, both teams had won 12 points and the STPGA retained the Cup.

The NTPGA holds a 13-12-1 lead in the Texas Joe Black Cup Matches series.

The Ryder Cup-style tournament began in 1981 and was named in honor of Joe Black, a native of Snyder, Texas, who was then serving as president of the PGA of America. Black is currently living near Austin.


Here are the individual match results:

Day 1

Four Ball Matches

  • Ken McDonald/Gordon Johnson, STPGA, def. RonnyGlanton/Billy Harris; 1 Up
  • Tony Johnson/Matt Trevino, STPGA, def. Lindy Miller/Chad Williams, NTPGA; 1 Up
  • Cameron Doan/Duff Cunningham, NTPGA, def. Henrik Simonsen/Dale Morgan, STPGA; 1 Up
  • Carl Baker/Ken Kelley, STPGA, def. Larry Bryan/Greg Sikes, NTPGA; 2 & 1
  • Britt Patton/Robert Boisvert, NTPGA, def. Garry Rippy/Rick Arnett, STPGA; 3 & 2
  • Bruce Smith/Steve Bowman, STPGA def. Greg Antunes/Tom Strueber, NTPGA; 4 & 3
Foursome Matches
  • Lindy Miller/Tom Stueber, NTPGA, def. Ken McDonaldGordon Johnson, STPGA; 6&4
  • Tony Johnson/Matt Trevino, STPGA, def. Billy Harris/Greg Antunes, NTPGA; 1 up
  • Cameron Doan/Duff Cunningham, NTPGA, def. Henrik Simonsen/Dale Morgan, STPGA; 4&3
  • Carl Baker/Ken Kelley, STPGA, def. Ronny Glanton/Chad Williams, NTPGA; 5&4
  • Britt Patton/Robert Boisvert, NTPGA, def. Garry Rippy/Rick Arnett, STPGA; 2&1
  • Larry Bryan/Greg Sikes, NTPGA, def. Bruce Smith/Steve Bowman, STPGA; 3&2

Day 2

Singles
  • Dale Morgan, STPGA, halved Ronny Glanton, NTPGA
  • Robert Boisvert, NTPGA, def. Gordon Johnson, STPGA; 3&1
  • Tony Johnson, STPGA, def. Greg Sikes, NTPGA; 3&2
  • Lindy Miller, NTPGA, def. Garry Rippy, STPGA; 1 up
  • Ken McDonald, STPGA, def. Chad Williams, NTPGA; 3&2
  • Greg Antunes, NTPGA, def. Matt Trevino, STPGA; 3&2
  • Steve Bowman, STPGA, halved Britt Patton, NTPGA
  • Larry Bryan, NTPGA , def. Rick Arnett, STPGA; 6&5
  • Ken Kelley, STPGA def. Tom Strueber, NTPGA; 2&1
  • Carl Baker, STPGA, def. Duff Cunningham, NTPGA
  • Henrik Simonsen, STPGA, vs. Billy Harris, NTPGA; 3&2
  • Cameron Doan, NTPGA, def. Bruce Smith, STPGA; 4&3

Lardon Wins PGA Assistant Professional Championship

Congratulations to Brad Lardon of Austin on his recent victory in the 30th TaylorMade-adidas PGA Assistant Professional Championship, played at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Here's the tournament report, courtesy of the STPGA:

Former PGA Tour player Brad Lardon of Austin, Texas, came from behind to capture the 30th TaylorMade-adidas Golf PGA Assistant Professional Championship
at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Lardon began the final 18-holes two-shots behind third-round leader Faber Jamerson of Amherst, Va., and battled back with a final-round 4-under-par 68 for a Championship total of 14-under-par 274. Jamerson finished in second place two shots back with a 12-under 276.

Lardon and Jamerson played in the final group this morning, along with Ryan Helminen of Appleton, Wis., who finished in tie for fifth place. They went head-to-head throughout the round and Lardon took the lead on the par-5 542-yard
hole No. 6, where he hit a 4-iron into the green and two-putted for a birdie, while Jamerson carded a par. From that point on, Lardon never looked back and took complete control of the national Championship.

“I played very solid today and kept the ball in play and birdied all the par-5’s,” said Lardon, the PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Escondido in Horseshoe Bay, Texas, who won the Southern Texas PGA Assistant Professional Championship, the STPGA Professional Championship and the STPGA Club Car Memorial Championship earlier this year. “I never took anything for granted and I was fortunate that Jamerson didn’t have his best day and opened the door to let me back in the game early.”

Jamerson did in fact have a difficult day early with three bogeys on the front nine on Nos. 4, 7, and 9. He then made the turn determined to fight back into the Championship. He carded birdies on Nos. 13 and 14, then followed with a bogey on No. 16, but ended on a strong note with two ending birdies.

“The atmosphere for my day was hitting the ball close to the hole but not making any putts,” said Jamerson, who recorded his highest round of the tournament with an even-par 72. “When I birdied No. 14 from 12-feet, I knew that I still had a realistic chance to win the Championship if I could take advantage of my length on the upcoming par-5. However, I unfortunately left the ball short and was not able to capitalize.”

Three-time Champion (2002, 2003, 2005) Kyle Flinton of Edmond, Okla., entered the clubhouse with the lowest round of the day, 6-under 66, to jump from a tie for 15th place after the third round to a tie for third place for the Championship at 70-72-71-66-279. Joining Flinton in a tie for third position is Grant Masson of Little Rock, Ark.

“I am honored to win this PGA of America national Championship which is full of tradition,” said Lardon, who earns a first place check of $9,000 out of the total purse of $100,000. “The field was very strong and I am so proud to come out on top as the Champion this year.”

Jamerson is invited to participate in the 2007 Australian PGA National Futures Championship, by finishing as the low apprentice in the Championship.

The 30th TaylorMade-adidas Golf PGA Assistant Professional Championship was comprised of 41 PGA Section assistant champions, section qualifiers, the defending Champion Kyle Flinton and assistant/apprentice champions from Australia, Canada and Great Britain.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Private Side of Boerne

The number of golf courses in Boerne, just outside San Antonio on IH-10, has doubled. From one to two. And both are great. Unfortunately, the new one is private, and the older one is going private.

The older one is Tapatio Springs, which boasts 27 holes, some of which are spectacular, all of which are set in a gorgeous valley or along a ridgeline. The good news is that Tapatio is planning on adding another nine to create two 18-hole layouts.

The bad news: Tapatio Springs is going private, effective Jan. 1. It will thereafter be open only to members, their guests, and people staying at the resort.

The new course is Cordillera Ranch, which is having a soft opening in advance of its official opening next spring. It's a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, and it sounds pretty nice. Too bad most of us will never get to play it.

More info on both these courses and the new developments can be found on the San Antonio Express-News Web site:

Big plans in works as Tapatio goes private
Nicklaus' vision realized

(If you need login info to read the articles, first visit bugmenot.com.)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Notebook: Rolex Junior All-Americans

Several young Texas golfers earned berths on the Rolex Junior All-America golf teams, recently announced by the American Junior Golf Association:

  • Boys First Team: Conrad Shindler, Coppell
  • Boys Second Team: Cody Gribble, Dallas; Josh Jones, The Colony
  • Boys Honorable Mention: Will Griffin, San Antonio; Paul Haley, Dallas; Cory Whitsett, Houston
  • Girls First Team: Lisa McCloskey, Montgomery
  • Girls Honorable Mention: Lila Barton, Dallas

Congratulations to all.

Other notes from around the state:

• You don't often hear of a golf course design firm being called in to redesign a driving range, but that's what happened recently with Austin-based Bechtol Russell Design and The Golf Club at Star Ranch in Hutto.

Star Ranch's driving range ran alongside Highway 685, the area's main artery. But when big-box developers show up needing land, sometimes things have to change. So Star Ranch called in Randy Russell and Roy Bechtol to find a new location for the range, and make it fit into the property.

The new range features landscaping, rock walls, target greens, bunkers and contouring, and is located near the No. 8 green and parallel to the No. 9 fairway. That meant having to install a protective fence for safety reasons. But Star Ranch GM Ricky Heine wasn't concerned about the asthetics of the fence.

"Augusta National has one, so I don't feel so bad about having a fence here," said Heine.

And here's an article from Cybergolf that rounds up this and other recent projects from Bechtol-Russell.

• The Austin American-Statesman has a story about two former University of Texas coaches and their newfound love of golf. The coaches are Leon Black, who coached the Longhorns men's basketball team, and Dave Snyder, the onetime Horns tennis coach.

For two men who were outstanding athletes and intense competitors as coaches, Black and Snyder take a laid-back approach to golf. They shoot in the 90s, but score barely matters.

"I'm not sure what the term for it is in golf, but in tennis we call it hit and giggle," Snyder said. "We just enjoy being outside and appreciating the scenery and the camaraderie. Sometimes we keep score. Sometimes after a bad hole we just forget about it."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

PGA Tour Qualifying - First Stage

... and they're off!

This year's crew of aspiring PGA Tour pros (and a good number of past and present PGA Tour pros) began its journey through the arduous qualifying process over the past few days. The golfers hope to play their way first into the final stage Q-School tournament, and then onto the 2007 PGA Tour.

Two first-stage qualifiers were held in Texas. Here are the Texas golfers at each site who made it through to the next stage:

Lantana Golf Club
Chris Parra, Dallas, 278
Anders Hultman, Irving, 284
J.J. Wall, San Antonio, 286
Adam Rubinson, Benbrook, 287
Kelly Grunewald, Grand Prairie, 288
Jaxon Brigman, Frisco, 289
Anthony Kim, Dallas, 289
Mark Walker, Hurst, 290
Will Dodson, Dallas, 292
Full Lantana Results

Cypresswood Golf Club, Spring
Anthony Rodriguez, Spring Branch, 275
Richard Swift, Rockwall, 277
Adam Babb, Arlington, 280
Brad Weesner, Hideaway, 282
Randy Lowry, Spring, 283
David Schultz, Dallas, 282
Adam Meyer, Fort Worth, 284
Shawn Stefani, Baytown, 285
Andy Doeden, Fort Worth, 285
Bryan Novoa, San Antonio, 285
Bronson Burgoon, Montgomery, 285
Chris Borgen, The Woodlands, 286
Matt Brost, Mansfield, 286
Full Cypresswood Results

Also, Franklin Hatchett of Dallas qualified at the Dayton, Nevada, site. Six more first-stage qualifiers are scheduled this coming week.

Friday, October 27, 2006

AAGT Gets a Major Boost, New Name

Good news for amateur tournament players in DFW, Austin, San Antonio and Houston: The American Amateur Golf Tour has received a major boost and should continue to grow, offering more and better tournament opportunities to Texas golfers.

The AAGT, a national organization that operates metropolitan "tours" across the country - including ones in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin-San Antonio and Houston - has partnered with The Golf Channel. The new name of the organization is the Golf Channel Amateur Tour.

The Golf Channel Amateur Tour will continue to operate in dozens of cities, including the three Texas cities/regions. Amateur golfers compete in flighted, single-day, stroke-play tournaments and accrue points on the Order of Merit which are used to determine season-ending prizes, as well as entry into special tournaments leading up to the national championship tournament.

Click one of the links below to learn more about the Golf Channel Amateur Tour in your part of Texas:

Austin-San Antonio
Dallas-Fort Worth
Houston

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Report: San Antonio's Brackenridge Closing For A Year

San Antonio Express-News columnist Richard Oliver was writing from the Champions Tour AT&T Classic last weekend about Ben Crenshaw, and Crenshaw's love of San Antonio's venerable and historic Brackenridge Municipal Golf Course.

Down in the column is this nugget of info: Brack is going to shut down for a year for an overhaul. Oliver writes:

Brackenridge, which turned 90 last month, is about to get a needed facelift.

In coming days, the city is expected to officially announce that the renowned expanse will be shut down for a year or more, beginning next spring, to undergo an aggressive renovation.

As part of a planned multimillion-dollar outlay championed by deputy city manager Pat DiGiovanni and councilmen Chip Haass and Art Hall, fairways will be resodded, some bunkers overhauled and a new irrigation system installed, among other improvements.

The whole column, with Crenshaw reminiscing and interesting historical tidbits about Brackenridge, is a good read. But the part about Brack being renovated is what should catch every San Antonio golfer's eye.

I eagerly await details of the project.

NTPGA/UST Fall Pro-Scratch Championship

Here's the recap of the Northern Texas PGA/UST Fall Pro-Scratch Championship:

Dallas, Texas – Coming into round two of the NTPGA / UST Fall Pro-Scratch Championship, held at Oak Cliff Country Club, the team of Michael Henderson,
assistant golf professional at Stevens Park Golf Course, and scratch amateur partner, Roger Marcincuk, sat two shots off the lead.

Henderson made birdie on the last two holes to put the team in the clubhouse with a 4-under par 32-33 – 66. Along with the 66 today, and a two day total of 67-66 – 133, the final birdie on hole #18 sent the team into a playoff with the first-round leaders, Chris Hughes, head golf professional at Eastern Hill Country Club, and amateur partner, Scott Wagoner, who shot 33-35 – 68 (2-under par) in round two.
Hughes and Wagoner also finished the tournament with a 65-68 – 133.

Henderson and Marcincuk didn’t take long to close out the Championship, they made par on the first playoff hole to claim the 2006 UST Fall Pro-Scratch Championship title.

The four-ball stroke play NTPGA major championship features 36 teams of one PGA professional teamed with one scratch amateur competing at Oak Cliff Country Club located in Dallas. This is the inaugural UST Fall Pro-Scratch Championship.

The 36 teams were competing for a share of the $8,775.00 purse. The team of Michael Henderson and Roger Marcincuk took home $1,500.00 for first place.

NTPGA Web site

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Roundup: LPGA's First Winner

I don't like posting two obituary items in a row, but the Grim Reaper waits for no one ...

So: Polly Riley, the Fort Worth amateur who won the first-ever tournament played on the LPGA Tour, recently passed away from cancer at the age of 75.

Riley won the 1950 Tampa Open, finishing five shots ahead of LPGA cofounder and Hall of Famer Louise Suggs. Riley also captained the 1962 U.S. Curtis Cup team and was a member of six of those teams. She was runner-up at the 1947 U.S. Women's Open to Betty Jameson. And at the 1948 Texas Women's Open she defeated Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the championship match by the lopsided score of 10-and-9.

Riley is a member of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame and Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

The famous author and fellow Fort Worthian, Dan Jenkins, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Riley "helped put Fort Worth golf on the map. In terms of grabbing national headlines, Polly was the next biggest thing we had going, behind Ben (Hogan) and Byron (Nelson)."

Other notes:

• TravelGolf.com has a good profile of Jim Apfelbaum, a golf junkie and journalist from Austin. Apfelbaum has hosted a golf radio show in Austin, on KVET-AM, for nine years. He runs a Web site dedicated to golf literature called The Hearthstone Review. And he recently started his own golf blog called Golf Digress (although he badly needs to adjust the width of that blog to make it easier to read).

• And more hog trouble on Texas golf courses. This time the pesky critters are tearing up the Uvalde municipal course. The course has captured three of the hogs but believes a fourth is out there still causing damage. What's the secret to luring a feral hog into a trap? The Uvalde course has been using ... raspberry Jell-O.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Passing of a Semi-Legend

I was greatly saddened by the recent news of the passing of Jimmie E. Taylor. That name probably means nothing to Texas Golf readers. But perhaps the name Red Taylor does. It's a sure bet that if you ever spent any time playing golf in Corpus Christi - in the 1940s, '50s or '60s, the 1970s, '80s or '90s - you knew, or at least knew of, Red Taylor.

Red Taylor worked in the golf business in Corpus Christi for 55 years, and all of it as an assistant pro or head pro at the same course: Oso Beach Municipal.

Red joined Oso in the late 1940s as an assistant professional. He oversaw construction of the clubhouse, with its distinctive arches, in 1967. He ascended to head professional in 1978. And he was still the head professional until very recently.

And that, frankly, amazes me. Because as a kid and young adult to who played Oso probably 500 times in the 1980s - there were only two golf course in Corpus Christi then, and today - I would have guessed that Red was around 70 years old back then.

But when he died last week, he was 79. Perhaps his war service and the thousands of hours he spent in the sun and South Texas wind over his lifetime weathered him. And he probably seemed older than he actually was because he couldn't hear anything.

I always hated getting Red on the phone when I called for a tee time, because it would mean having to repeat myself three or four times before he understood what I wanted. "Hi Red, I need to make a tee time for a foursome, walking." And Red would reply, "There's two of you and you need a cart?"

Every conversation with Red - at least for me - was like a "Who's on First?" routine.

Red was a great player, too, with a career low round of 64, and he was shooting his age just three months ago, according to his obituary.

For me, Red was a crusty ol' codger, and I'd guess he qualified as a "codger" even as a younger man. He was the sort of guy you didn't always appreciate when he was around. But I'm absolutely certain that if I ever visit Oso again, Red Taylor's absence will be a source of sorrow and wistfulness.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Flower Mound's Elliott Claims Back-to-Back Match Play Titles

The report from the Northern Texas PGA on the Cleveland Golf NTPGA Match Play Championship:

CARROLLTON, TEXAS – The final match of the Cleveland Golf Match Play Championship featured the #10 seed Jamie Elliott playing Vince Jewell the #9
seed.

Elliott, the director of instruction at Bridlewood Golf Club in Flower Mound took extra holes before he put his second consecutive Cleveland Golf Match Play Championship in the books. Elliott had a 1 up lead after hole #17 over Jewell, an assistant golf professional at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas. But after Elliott’s drive on the last hole found the fairway bunker, Jewell saw an opening and took it. Jewell placed his drive in perfect position to defeat Elliott on the last hole and extend the match. When Elliott missed a short putt for par and the title, Jewell did just that.

The match went back to hole #18, which would prove to be the final hole of the Championship. Elliott redeemed himself on the extra hole and finished with a birdie to win the final match over Jewell in 19 holes. This was not Elliott’s first major championship title at Columbian Country Club, he also won the FINA NTPGA Section Championship back in 2001.

The Cleveland Golf Match Play Championship was contested October 17-19 at the 7,018 yard par 72 Columbian Country Club located in Carrollton. The top 32 players on the final 2006 Cleveland Golf NTPGA Player of the Year Points Challenge were invited to compete in the season-ending major championship. Elliott took home $3,000.00 of the $23,000.00 purse for his victory.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Professional Team Golf League

I'll give the people behind the new Professional Team Golf League credit: they've got guts. They're trying something brand new in golf - a league of teams comprised of professional golfers who play home and away "games" against each other over the course of a season; and also something brand new in sports - allowing fans of the teams to have at least a little bit of control over the strategies employed by those teams.

I was going to do a lengthy post on the PTGL today, but I see that Golfchick and About.com have beaten me to it.

So instead, I'll point out that the PTGL's "coming out" party is a USA vs. Canada match in December, and that one of the golfers representing the U.S. is well-traveled Texas pro Anthony Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is a native and resident of San Antonio who played collegiately at Texas A&M. He's been an All-American, a member of the PGA Tour and a member of the Nationwide Tour. In 2006 he played on the Canadian Tour (as did all the pros taking part in the PTGL kickoff event). Learn more about Anthony at his PTGL profile page.

And lots more details about the PTGL can be found at www.ptgl.com.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Texas Site of Palmer's Last Stand

Augusta Pines Golf Club in Spring and the Champions Tour Administaff Small Business Classic today became the answers to a future trivia question: What was the last course and the last tournament in which Arnold Palmer played tournament golf?

Palmer, making just his second start on the Champions Tour this year, called it quits Friday, citing an inability to play well enough to make his fans happy. Palmer is 77 years old.

Palmer played through the third hole at Augusta Pines before putting two balls into the water off the No. 4 tee. That's when he told his playing partners he was withdrawing, although he played out the round without keeping score. Following the round, he announced it was the final competitive tournament appearance of his long and glorious career.

From the AP:

Palmer's eyes welled with tears as he went through interviews following the round with a large delegation of "Arnie's Army" huddled around him at Augusta Pines Golf Course.

"I made every move in the bag today to make a good shot and I wasn't very successful," Palmer said. "That's not surprising. It just didn't come today. It's been working its way into my repertoire. It's tough and it's emotional for me because it's my life."


We'll miss you, Arnie, but thanks for all the great memories.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tom Kite: 0-for-Texas

Texas golf great Tom Kite will be teeing it up this weekend at the Champions Tour Administaff Small Business Classic at Augusta Pines in Houston. The next week he'll be at the AT&T Championship at Oak Hills in San Antonio. Maybe one of these two tournaments will be the one that allows him to finally get off the 0-for-Texas schneid.

You see, Tom Kite has never won a professional tournament in Texas. He's played 103 pro events in the state, but none of his 19 PGA Tour victories or 9 Champions Tour wins have come in Texas.

This nugget is found in the Houston Chronicle's weekly golf notebook, which this week advances the Champions Tour event there.

Midland Monday Qualifiers

The Nationwide Tour's Permian Basic Classic tees off on Thursday at Midland Country Club. And the Monday qualifier was played ... um ... on Monday. Seven golfers played their way into the field, and it's nice to see that five of them are Texans:

Adam Babb, Arlington, 67
Anthony Rodriguez , San Antonio, 67
Bryan Novoa, San Antonio, 68
Brian Guetz, Scottsdale, Ariz., 69
Wynand Snyman (a), Midland, 69
Aron Price, Scottsdale, Ariz., 69
Marcus Jones, Graham, 69

Play well on Thursday guys.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

More from Hal Sutton on Ryder Cup, Boot Ranch

Honorary Texan Hal Sutton (he's actually from Louisiana, but has a ranch at Junction and is about as Texan as a person can be without actually being Texan) is talking more about the Ryder Cup and his fancy Fredericksburg development called Boot Ranch.

You might recall a post here about two weeks before the Ryder Cup: Sutton had talked to The Associated Press about the Ryder Cup and had provided a few details about Boot Ranch, too.

Now, he's done the exact same thing, only this time he spoke after the Ryder Cup and with Golf Magazine. Hal's doing a great job talking up Boot Ranch in the national press, that's for sure.

The Golf Magazine article says that Boot Ranch "has been called the Augusta of Texas." Gee, I wonder who called it that. Hmmm, Hal Sutton maybe? The article introduces Boot Ranch this way:

Boot Ranch’s course designer and co-developer, Sutton has spent four days a week here since his 12-man team of Yanks lost by a margin that Tom Lehman’s guys (surprise!) equaled two weeks ago. Boot Ranch has been called the Augusta of Texas (members get a pair of black alligator cowboy boots in lieu of a green jacket), but with slow membership and home sales it’s not all azaleas for Sutton. Still, the U.S. Ryder Cup team is in far worse shape.

And later adds:

When Sutton was a kid at Northwood Country Club in Shreveport, Louisiana, he says, the pro took time to sit and talk over a Dr. Pepper. It isn’t hard to guess the subtext of that comment, that our academy-sponsored race for the perfect swing has forsaken our childlike “joie-de-golf.” Dismayed at the game’s massive, intractable bureaucracy, Sutton seeks to reverse that trend and more, this time from the outside, from Boot Ranch.

“We’re already teaching juniors here,” he said. “We have around 15 high school kids, 10 to 12 younger than that. We’re going to do our part here. I challenge everybody else in the country to do their part, and if they already are, I applaud them."

The bulk of the article is about Sutton's thoughts regarding American problems in the Ryder Cup, and what to do to fix them. Sutton speaks about what he says as the four biggest problems for today's American Ryder Cuppers:

  • 1. They aren't aggressive enough on Ryder Cup putts because as tour pros they play nothing but super-fast greens week-in and week-out, and guys tend to lose their aggressiveness on putts when that would mean blowing one by five to 10 feet. The PGA Tour should alter greens conditions on its courses, Sutton say, to provide a variety of putting conditions.
  • 2. Every American's swing looks the same. They all grow up copying that one ideal swing. Everything is perfect, no ability to adjust to differing conditions of play.
  • 3. The American system and PGA Tour produces golfers who almost all know only one way to play: high and long. Hit the ball high, and hit it far. That doesn't work as well on European courses, and it limits the creativity of and availability of different shots to American golfers.
  • 4. We whine a lot about losing, but ultimately we only do one thing about it, and it's the same every time: blame the captain.

I don't blame Hal Sutton for 2004's debacle, and never have. Hal might have been over the top in some of his pre-play pronouncements, but all he could do - all any captain really can do - is send the guys out to play. It's up to the players to perform.

Read the full article

Friday, October 06, 2006

Remembering the Babe, and Other Stuff

babe didrikson zahariasIn 1939, Time magazine described Babe Didrikson Zaharias, a Port Arthur native who grew up in Beaumont, as a "famed woman athlete, 1932 Olympic Games track & field star, expert basketball player, golfer, javelin thrower, hurdler, high jumper, swimmer, baseball pitcher, football halfback, billiardist, tumbler, boxer, wrestler, fencer, weight lifter, adagio dancer..."

Whew! The occasion was her marriage to George Zaharias, a professional wrestler. And that reminds me of one of my all-time favorite lines about marriage. George Zaharias, at the time of his wedding to Babe, was a very fit, muscular man, handsome and buff. By about 15 years later, he'd ballooned in both weight and laziness.

The Babe said of him then: "When I married him, he was a Greek god. Now, he's just a goddamned Greek."

The quote above - the first one, describing the Babe's athletic exploits - is taken from a Guardian article remembering the great Didrikson Zaharias.

The Babe - whose team once won the Amateur Athletic Union track and field national team title even though she was the only person on the team - was being celebrated in a London newspaper because it was the 50th anniversary of her death in 1956.

I find it kind of sad that I didn't see any celebrations of Didrikson in Texas newspapers around the time of that anniversary. She was arguably the greatest female athlete of all-time, and definitely one of the greats in the history of women's golf.

The guardian article is a terrific read. Check it out.

Elsewhere:

• The American Junior Golf Association's HP Scholastic Junior All-America team was recently announced, and it includes one golfer representing Texas. Michael Whitehead of Sugar Land is on the boys' team.

Whitehead will get to attend the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet Nov. 19 at The Cloister in Sea Island, Ga. To be eligible for the HP Scholastic Junior All-America Team, boys must have placed in the top 10 of an AJGA event. The selections are then based on grade-point average, class rank, SAT/ACT scores, leadership skills, community service and writing ability. Candidates were required to submit an essay no longer than 400 words that creatively focused on the game of golf.

• The UT Golf Club in the Steiner Ranch area of Austin announced it has sold two-thirds of its memberships and is entering "Phase II." That means they're ready to start building the real clubhouse. The clubhouse will be 16,000 square feet and include indoor/outdoor dining facilities, private dining rooms, 19th Hole/Bar, Golf Shop, Men's and Women's Locker Rooms and the UT Walk of Fame.

Once the new clubhouse is finished, the facility the club is currently using as its clubhouse will be converted to a fitness center. More info on the club is available at www.utgolfclub.com.

Here's an article in the Victoria Advocate on Ben Johnson. Johnson was the boys golf coach at Victoria High for 20 years. When Victoria High and Victoria Stroman High were consolidated in 2001, Johnson took over the Victoria ISD boys program. During his tenure, Johnson's teams won 13 district titles, reached the regional tournament 20 times, and the state tournament twice.

Johnson is retiring from coaching to focus full time on his other job as Spanish teacher.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

El Paso's Eschenbrenner Headed to the Hall of Fame

Last year, Bill Eschenbrenner, PGA Master Professional at El Paso's Lone Star Country Club, was named PGA Professional of the Year.

This year, he's going one step farther. Eschenbrenner has been elected to the PGA Golf Professional Hall Of Fame in a class of seven inductees that includes Jack Nicklaus. The inductees will be honored in a ceremony, Friday, Dec. 8, in conjunction with the 10th PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, Dec. 6-10, at the PGA Learning Center at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

In addition to Eschenbrenner and Nicklaus, 2006 inductees include PGA of America President Roger Warren of Kiawah Island, S.C.; 1958 PGA Champion Dow Finsterwald of Colorado Springs, Colo.; 1986 PGA Teacher of the Year Manuel de la Torre of Milwaukee, Wis.; PGA Master Professional William Heald of Westchester, Ill., and 1987 PGA Teacher of the Year Gary Wiren of North Palm Beach, Fla.

The announcement was made by the PGA of America, which has this to say about Eschenbrenner:

A PGA Master Professional at Lone Star Golf Club in El Paso, Texas, Bill Eschenbrenner was the 52nd recipient of PGA Golf Professional of the Year in
2005, the highest annual honor bestowed by The PGA of America on a PGA Professional. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, but an El Paso resident since 1961,
is a former caddie at Worth Hills Municipal Golf Course in Fort Worth, Texas, and 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.

Elected to PGA membership in 1965, Eschenbrenner was the 1994 national Horton Smith Award winner for contributions to PGA education and winner of the 1984 Bill Strausbaugh Award for mentoring fellow PGA Professionals and community service. Among those guided by Eschenbrenner was the legendary Lee Trevino, who credited Eschenbrenner for helping him gain a PGA Tour berth.

Eschenbrenner served 35 years as PGA director of golf at El Paso Country Club, and five years as consultant. He developed a city-wide junior golf program in El Paso. In 1974, he founded the NCAA College All-American Golf Tournament, an event that has returned more than $600,000 in golf scholarships to participating college programs. 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.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What Now for the Byron Nelson Classic?

I wanted to wait a few days before writing this post, so it wouldn't seem inappropriate in the wake of Byron Nelson's death. But when I heard about Nelson's passing, about the third thing that popped into my little pea-sized brain was this: I wonder if the tournament will go along with him.

Without the pull of Byron Nelson, will the Byron Nelson Classic be able to survive as one of the top destinations on the PGA Tour? Most all of the top players - even Tiger Woods - showed up annually for the Nelson. And that's not because the players love the courses the tournament is played on (they don't). It was solely because it was Mr. Nelson's tournament, and today's stars felt the need to show up out of respect for Nelson.

Sadly, Nelson is no longer with us. And if you're wondering whether the PGA Tour, officials with the sponsor EDS, and other tournament officials are a little worried about the future of the event, well, the answer is yes.

And they should be: They need only look across town to The Colonial to see what can happen to a tournament when its drawing card departs. The Colonial was always one of the top spots on Tour. The course was "Hogan's Alley," and while the tournament itself didn't belong to Ben Hogan, his presence loomed large over the event. I've seen interviews from the 1970s in which pros named Colonial as one of their favorite stops on Tour, simply because they could watch Hogan practice. And often, they didn't even watch him practice at Colonial Country Club - they drove over to Shady Oaks just to sit and watch Hogan.

In the more than 10 years since Hogan's death, the status of The Colonial on the PGA Tour has fallen dramatically. The tournament that Nicklaus, Trevino and Watson always showed up for now calls Kenny Perry a big name.

And there's a strong possibility that's the fate that awaits the Byron Nelson Classic. I don't expect Woods, Els, Singh and other top players to start skipping the event immediately. They'll want to show up in 2007 to honor Byron Nelson. But in the next few years, expect to see the Byron Nelson Classic start to fall out of the upper tier of PGA Tour events.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Another Texas Course on the Auction Block

Sure seems like there've been a lot of courses across Texas sold on the auction block lately. Now another one is up for grabs.

Shallow Creek Country Club in Gladewater can be all yours ... if the your price is right. The Piney Woods track comes attached to an RV park and 223 acres of land. It's an 18-holer measuring 6,765 yards.

The semi-private Shallow Creek was built in 1989 and has a 7,500 square foot pro shop and clubhouse that includes a grill serving "the best hamburger in East Texas," according to the sellers.

The danger in these golf course auctions is always that the purchaser is buying with the intention of razing the golf course and developing the land for other uses. The auction house, in this case, appears to be touting the course for purchase as a business investment (meaning the course would remain operative), but you never know.

If you have millions of dollars laying around and want to make a bid, click for more info.

Bi-State Pair Wins State Senior Four Ball Title

Congratulations to Garry Kirwan of McKinney and Jerry Hudgins of Houston on pairing to win the Texas Golf Association's 2006 State Senior Four Ball championship. The Ryder Cup format of Four Ball, as a reminder, is played by 2-person teams, each golfer playing his own ball, and using the one low score of the teammates on each hole.

The tournament was played on the Fazio Course at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco. Here is the report from the TGA:

Garry Kirwan of McKinney and Jerry Hudgins of Houston went wire to wire to capture their first TGA State Senior Four Ball title. The consistent ball striking of Kirwan & Hudgins allowed them to stay out of harm's way the entire tournament and capture a 2- stroke victory over Larry Trowell and Si Harris, both of The Colony.

Kirwan & Hudgins made 19 birdies, one eagle and just one bogey on their way to victory. Harris and Trowell rallied late with a birdie on the 16th hole to close within one shot heading into the final two holes. However, Hudgins' clutch third shot into the par-5 18th hole to about five feet put the pressure solely on the team of Harris and Trowell to make birdie at the last. Both Harris and Trowell missed their birdie attempts, however, on the final hole, leaving Hudgins two putts for the victory.

Finishing in sole possession of third place was the team of Lloyd Hughes of Dallas and Mike Hopson of Lufkin who finished with a solid round of 68.

The 36-hole leaders in the Handicap division, Bob Dyer and Jimmy Dunn of Longview, completed their wire-to-wire victory by shooting a spectacular final round score of net 63, to capture their first TGA title. Leading the charge from the pack was the team of Bill Thomas and Eddie Bock of Dallas, firing a net 60 in the final round to tie Dyer and Dunn at the end of 54 holes. Dyer and Dunn ultimately take the title through a scorecard playoff. Finishing in third place was the team of Bob Romero and Scott Jordan, both of Irving.
Full field results can be found on the TXGA State Senior Four Ball tournament page.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

STPGA Junior Winter Tour Series

The Southern Texas PGA has announced the schedule for its Junior Winter Tour Series, an 8-event lineup for boys and girls who are ages 10 to 18 as of March 15, 2007.

The schedule is:

Nov. 4-5 - Onion Creek Club (Austin)
Nov. 18-19 - The Woodlands Country Club (The Woodlands)
Dec. 2-3 - Cypresswood Golf Club (Spring)
Dec. 16-17 - Wolfdancer Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines (Bastrop)
Jan. 6-7 - Barton Creek Country Club (Austin)
Jan. 27-28 - Hyatt Hill Country Resort (San Antonio)
Feb. 17-18 - The Club at Comanche Trace (Kerrville)
March 14-15 - The Clubs of Kingwood (Kingwood)

Here is the info on participation from the STPGA:

The Southern Texas PGA Junior Golf Program has schedule eight events for its 2006-2007 Junior Tour Winter Series, sponsored by Academy Sports and Outdoors, for young golfers ages 10-18.

All eight tournaments will consist of 36-holes of stroke play competition and are available to boys and girls ages 10-18 as of Mar. 15, 2007. All juniors who were members of the 2006 STPGA Junior Tour and boys and girls ages 10-12 who were members of the 2006 STPGA Little Linksters (and completed that program while competing in its “9-hole, Red Tee” Division) are fully eligible to play in all 2006 STPGA Junior Tour Winter Series tournaments.

Juniors ages 13-18 who did not participate in the 2006 STPGA Junior Tour program may establish eligibility for the winter schedule by paying a membership fee of $65 and then taking and passing the STPGA Junior Golf Skills and Rules Test (There is a fee of $25 for the Skills and Rules Test; please call the STPGA Junior Golf office at 832-442-2404, ext. 208 for information).

The fields of all eight tournaments will be divided into five age and gender divisions for competitive purposes. Those divisions are: Boys 16-18; Boys 13-15; Boys 10-12; Girls 14-18; and Girls 10-13. The results of all STPGA Junior Tour Winter Series tournaments will be included in rankings compiled by Junior Golf Scoreboard.

The entry fee for each tournament is $150.

For more information about the 2006-07 STPGA Junior Tour Winter Series, including on-line entry opportunities, please visit the “Junior Golf & Scholarships” page of the Southern Texas PGA web site (www.stpga.com).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Nelson Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

A shame it wound up being a posthumous award.

As we told you before (here), Byron Nelson had been nominated for a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor the U.S. Congress can bestow on citizens. Sort of the congressional equivalent of a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The nomination was made in recognition of Mr. Nelson's efforts on behalf of charity. Over the years, the Byron Nelson Classic has raised nearly $100 million for its charities.

The House of Representatives had previous OK'd the award. On Wednesday, the Senate also approved the award. The bill now goes to President Bush for his signature.

Said Texas Sen. John Cornyn: "It is entirely fitting that as we mourn the passing of Byron Nelson this week, we honor his life and tremendous service to his fellow Americans with the passage of this legislation today."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Qualifying Deadline Approaching for Nationwide Tour Permian Basin

Monday qualifying for the Nationwide Tour's Permian Basin Charity Classic in Midland takes place on Oct. 9 at Green Tree Country Club in Midland. The entry deadline for the qualifier is Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 5 p.m.

Fourteen golfers will advance out of the qualifying and into the Nationwide Tour event. Odessa Country Club will serve as the spillover site if more golfers enter than can be accommodated at Green Tree.

Professionals or amateurs who have a USGA handicap index of 2.4 or lower are eligible to play in the qualifier. Entry fee is $350.

More information about the qualifier, along with a downloadable entry form, are available on the Northern Texas PGA Web site here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Byron Nelson Dead at 94

Texas - and the whole world of golf - mourns.

See the AP obit, and more links here.

"Big Break VI" Contestants Have Texas Ties

"The Big Break VI" debuts on The Golf Channel tonight. If you plan on watching the series, and need someone to cheer for, you might consider adopting one of the several contestants with Texas ties. They are:

Annie Mallory - Annie (pictured) is a native of Canada but played collegiately at the University of Texas at El Paso. She was a second-team All-WAC selection twice and three-time WAC All-Academic team member.

Sid Corliss - Sid is a Harlingen native who played collegiately at Odessa Junior College and at West Texas State in Canyon (now West Texas A&M). Sid has played in the U.S. Senior Open and four times in the British Senior Open. He's been a teaching pro in Dallas and San Antonio, among other locales.

Jeff Mitchell - Jeff is from Llano and currently lives in Frisco, where he's a member at McKinney's TPC at Craig Ranch. He played collegiately at Texas Tech. He was the Texas Tech women's golf coach beginning in 1990, then also coached the men's team from 1998-2000. Jeff is the only "Big Break" contestant with a PGA Tour victory, having won the 1980 Phoenix Open. He also once shared The Masters lead with Seve Ballesteros.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Why the U.S. Lost the Ryder Cup

Because American captain Tom Lehman's four assistant captains - Corey Pavin, Loren Roberts, Duffy Waldorf and David Ogrin - are all past Texas Open champions.

I mean, a person would have to be nuts to think that having Texas Open champs on your side would be a good thing, right?

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STPGA Stalwart Honored by Alma Mater

From the STPGA:

Former Southern Texas PGA President Carl Baker was inducted into the Stephen F. Austin State University Lettermen’s Association Athletic Jacks of Honor on Sept. 23, 2006. Baker played golf for the Lumberjacks from 1976 to 1980. He is among six former Lumberjacks to join the school’s athletic hall of fame this year.

“This was something I didn’t expect at all,” said Baker of his selection for the honor. “It’s flattering and very humbling. It’s neat to be remembered with something like this from your university, especially considering I have been gone from there for 26 years.”

Baker graduated in May 1980 with Bachelor of Science degree in business and education. He was a member of the Lumberjack golf team and won 12 college and amateur tournaments, including the 1980 Center Invitational and the inaugural 1980 Temple Cup. In 1979, he was named co-champion of the Lone Star Conference, and he earned first-team, all-conference honors during his junior and senior years at Stephen F. Austin.

He won the 1987 Texas State Open as a professional and was the 1987
Southern Texas PGA Player of the Year. He has been a member of nine Southern Texas PGA Texas Joe Black Cup Matches teams and served as Captain of one of those teams.

Baker, the head golf professional at The Deerwood Club in Kingwood, was elected to membership in the PGA of America in 1985. In addition to serving as the STPGA president in 1995 and 1996, he served two-year terms as the Section’s vice-president and secretary/treasurer, plus six years as a member of the STPGA Board of Directors. He also served on the PGA of America’s national tournament committee in 1994 and 1995.

Baker was the Southern Texas PGA Golf Professional of the Year for 1995 and was the STPGA Merchandiser of the Year for private facilities in 1994. Baker has also received several Chapter awards within the STPGA.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why the U.S. Will Win the Ryder Cup

Because American captain Tom Lehman's four assistant captains - Corey Pavin, Loren Roberts, Duffy Waldorf and David Ogrin - are all past Texas Open champions.

Ogrin, by the way, is writing a Ryder Cup diary for the San Antonio Express-News Web site. Find it on the Sports front.

This, That and the Other

There's a fancy new private club being built on the shores of Lake Travis between Austin and Marble Falls. The Club at Waterford won't be open until early to mid-2007, but it's already hired one of the top club professionals in Texas.

Allen Wooley, most recently the general manager and director of golf at Plum Creek in Kyle, is now the Head Golf Professional at Waterford. Wooley has served on the Southern Texas PGA Board of Directors since 1995 and was president in 2002-2003. He won the STPGA’s award for Golf Professional of the Year for 2003, and won the Bill Strausbaugh Award for club relations three years in a row.

The Club at Waterford's golf course was designed by the Austin team of Randy Russell and Roy Bechtol. You can view photos of the construction progress on the club Web site, linked above.

Elsewhere:

• The Hill Country Amateur Classic that we wrote about a couple weeks ago has been pushed back to November, and entry fees reduced. Kevin Robbins has the details in his blog on the Austin American-Statesman Web site.

• We've also written a couple times about the Texas Golf League in Houston, a competitive league for four-person teams representing businesses or churches. League organizer Joey Gimenez dropped us a line a few days ago to pass along the URL of the league's new blog, where announcements and results will be posted. You can check it out at texasgolfleague.blogspot.com.

• Longhorns fans will enjoy this article on the UT sports site looking back at the 1971 University of Texas championship golf team that includes Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite.

• And here's an article on how timeshares are gaining in popularity in San Antonio. New timeshare resorts have opened or will open in conjunction with the golf courses at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and next to the Golf Club of Texas.

Stonebridge Ranch Pro Claims NTPGA Section Championship

The Top 5 finishers at the Fina NTPGA Section Championship, played at Ridgewood Country Club in Waco:

Perry Arthur, Stonebridge Ranch CC-Dye, 70-68-68--206
Lindy Miller, Mira Vista Golf Club, 73-68-68--209
Jamie Elliott, Bridlewood Golf Course, 70-76-66--212
Tom Strueber, Columbian Country Club, 73-68-72--213
Cameron Doan, Preston Trail Golf Club, 75-69-70--214
Michael Henderson, Stevens Park Golf Course, 68-74-72--214

Here's the report from the NTPGA:

Waco, TX – Perry Arthur, director of instruction at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club (Dye Course) not only maintained his over night lead, he increased it throughout the final round of the FINA NTPGA Section Championship at Ridgewood Country Club. Arthur finished the day with 34-34 – 68 (two under par) and a 54-hole tournament total of 70-68-68 – 206 (four under par). With his win today, Perry Arthur becomes only the second player ever to win the NTPGA Section Championship four (4) times, joining PGA Life Member Robert Hoyt with the distinct honor.

Perry Arthur (four under par) and Lindy Miller, director of golf at Mira Vista Golf Club (one under par) were the only players in red figures for the Championship. Arthur and Miller also finished first and second place respectively in the 2006 Cleveland Golf Player of the Year Points Standings.

The FINA NTPGA Championship presented by Art & Stone, Green Grass Golf Group, Straight Down Clothing Company, Sunbirds International and Yamaha Golf Cars was conducted at Ridgewood Country Club, the 6,640-yard, par 70 course located in Waco, Texas. The field consisted of 66 PGA professionals from the Northern Texas Section of the PGA of America competing for the $30,000.00 purse, with the Arthur taking home $5,000.00 and the title of NTPGA champion. Along with the trophy and prize money, Perry Arthur earns an exemption into both the 2007 EDS Byron Nelson Championship and the 2006 Permian Basin Charity Golf Classic scheduled for October 12-15, 2006.

The Championship is the fourth and final individual stroke play championship and Player of the Year points event of the 2006 Northern Texas PGA season. The four events, the Eastern, Western, NTPGA Professional and NTPGA Section Championship are used as qualifying for the year-end Cleveland Golf Match Play Championship and Player of the Year, the Ben Hogan/NTPGA Scoring Average Award and the ten (10) spots for the Texas Joe Black Cup team.
Full results are available on the NTPGA Web site.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why the Texas Open Has Survived

About a half-decade ago, the PGA Tour Texas Open in San Antonio was on the brink of extinction. There was talk of moving the tournament out of San Antonio, or of doing away with it altogether. The Texas Open, one of the oldest, most historic tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule, could easily have disappeared.

Why? Fields were weak, attendance was weaker, and, most of all, charitable contributions were weaker still. The PGA Tour makes clear to its sponsors and tournament committees that raising money for local charities is a big deal. Run the tournament, make it a good experience for the players, but raise money. How important it is for the Tour was demonstrated last year during the Tour's "Drive to a Billion" campaign. You can argue about what percentage of that policy is good corporate citizenship and what percentage is good PR. The end result is the same: millions and millions of dollars is raised for charity.

The Texas Open just wasn't raising much. It was near the bottom of the heap among all PGA Tour events. And that fact, combined with other factors, put the tournament on the ropes.

Then Valero came on board as the tournament sponsor, and everything changed. In the years prior to Valero's sponsorship, according to the Valero chairman, the Texas Open had raised a total of $4 million for local charities. In five years with Valero as sponsor, the tournament raised $21 million.

And that's why the Texas Open is safe and secure these days, even though field quality, attendance and local interest really never have picked up much.

And that was before Monday's announcement: In 2006, the Valero Texas Open has raised $7 million for charity. That's not just a tournament record - it's a PGA Tour record, the most money ever raised by any one tournament in a single year.

Can you say "moving to a high-profile date in the Spring?" The Texas Open can. And the tournament can thank Valero's money-raising talent not just for keeping the tournament alive, but - as soon as the new TPC course in San Antonio is ready - also for eventually restoring the event to one of the biggest on tour.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

DFW's Bear Creek Changing Owners

Bear Creek Golf Club, which boasts two 18-hole courses on the grounds of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, has a new owner and management company.

CNL Income Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on lifestyle properties, announced it has acquired Bear Creek from Bear Creek DFW Associates Ltd., an entity affiliated with Hyatt Corporation and Hunt-Woodbine Realty Corporation. CNL then leased the club’s two courses to an affiliate of Billy Casper Golf, LLC, for operation under a 22-year lease.

Real estate is complicated.

No word on whether the new owners plan any upgrades or changes, although the usual platitudes were bandied about:

“Billy Casper Golf is excited about beginning a relationship with CNL as a solid financial partner in the lifestyle industry and working with the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Board,” said Denny Minami, president of Billy Casper Golf. “The acquisition enables us to provide an enhanced golf experience at Bear Creek, and we are pleased to help create long-term value for our partner CNL.”

Bear Creek's East and West courses are two of my favorite in DFW. I always enjoy playing there, although it can be a nerve-wracking experience for some.

Because the courses are located right on airport property, the landings and takeoffs of the big passenger planes can feel like they are happening right above you ... because, sometimes, they are.

A former pro at Bear Creek once told me that the planes sometimes were so close to the course as they passed over that golfers could feel the "whoosh" of the airstreams and vacuums and eddies created by the planes' wings. They've never gotten quite that close when I've played Bear Creek, but the noise and rumble of overhead planes are never far off.

It's an interesting and even fascinating experience for some. Others just find it very annoying.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

San Antonian Claims State Mid-Am Title

Jonathon Mathias of San Antonio is the winner of the Texas Golf Association 2006 State Mid-Amateur Championship. Mathias rolled to a 5-shot victory over runners-up Darin Newhouse (of Tyler) and Seth Thornton (of Houston) at Champions Golf Club (Jackrabbit Course) in Houston.

Here is the report from the TGA:

Houston, TX: Jonathon Mathias was tied for the lead after each of the first two rounds of the 2006 TGA State Mid-Amateur Championship. He didn’t want to be in that position when the third and final round was completed, so he went out and promptly birdied two of the first four holes on his was to a final round of five under par 66 on the Jackrabbit Course at Champions Golf Club in Houston. That allowed the Air Force captain from San Antonio to separate himself from the field claim and his first TGA state championship. Mathias posted a 54-hole total of 7-under par 206 to finish five shots clear of runners-up Darin Newhouse of Tyler and Seth Thornton of Houston . Thornton had a final round 67 to move into the second place tie, while Newhouse, one back to start the day, had a final round of 70.

“Everything fell into place for me this week,” Mathias said. “My ball striking was awesome. It is the best I’ve hit the ball in a long time, and what a great place for it to happen here at Champions with all of the history and tradition of this place.”

The low round of the day came from Montgomery ’s Ron Schroeder who had a 65 to move into fourth place alone at one under par 212. The 65 matched the tournament’s low round, which John Bearrie of Arlington shot in Saturday’s second round. Bearrie had an even par 71 in the final round to finish fifth. John Dowdall of Houston , who was one shot off the lead starting the final round, tied for sixth with Kip Guidry of Missouri City at one over par. Guidry had a final round 69. Scott Loving of Conroe , who started the day tied for the lead with Mathias, had to a three over par 74 in the final round to drop back into eighth place.

The weather again was a factor, but only for the final group of the day. Shortly
after hitting their tee shots on the 18th hole play was suspended due to lightning near the Champions Golf Club course. The storm quickly passed and the last three players completed the final hole, with Mathias appropriately capping his week off with birdie.
Complete, final results are available on the tournament homepage.

Friday, September 15, 2006

McLean Opens Fort Worth Facility

Jim McLean, one of the most famous golf instructors in the world and the 1994 PGA Teacher of the Year, has opened his latest training facility in Fort Worth.

The Jim McLean Golf Center at Waterchase is a 48-acre facility abutting the Links at Waterchase golf club. The facility includes a fully lit practice range, with seven target greens; a short game area 11,000 sqare feet in size that includes a bentgrass putting green as well as a three-tiered practice bunker; and the Legends Scoring Nine, a short course designed in conjunction with the Tom Fazio Golf Course Design Team.

The Legends Scoring Nine sounds like a very different sort of short course, however. This is how it's described on the facility Web site:

The Fazio team and Jim McLean created a highly imaginative design for this unique practice facility. Although there are nine par-3s measuring 1,478 yards, the idea was not to build a par-3 golf course. The idea was a true practice course. Jim and Tom Fazio talked at length about intersecting holes, back and forth fairways and a central practice fairway. They created four basic driving zones separated by water hazards or mounding. This allows on-course playing lessons that include drivers being hit in different directions to very different fairway designs. The student will face almost any situation. From the central practice fairway iron shots can be played to 7 different greens. In the 22.5 acres, Fazio and McLean designed a practice dream for any golfer wanting real-life situations.


The Jim McLean Golf Center at Waterchase also boasts an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse with a full restaurant; a fully furnished fitness center; mental golf experts; and specialized club fitting.

McLean says:

I am very exited to have a school in Texas since I have so many fond memories of my years at the University of Houston. One of my very best friends, Bruce Lietzke, lives in Dallas. My all-time favorite mentor, Jackie Burke, is a Ft. Worth native. I will be at Waterchase often as my son is attending TCU and is playing on the golf team this year as a freshman.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

STPGA Professional Championship

Congratulations to Brad Lardon on winning the Southern Texas PGA Professional Championship, played at Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston this week.

Here are the Top 5 finishers:

Brad Lardon, Lakeway, 67-66-67--200
Lonny Alexander, New Braunfels, 72-69-69--210
Tim Thelen, Richmond, 67-76-68--211
Timothy Poulos, Tomball, 70-74-70--214
David Lundstrom, Houston, 73-70-71--214

And here is the recap from the STPGA:

Brad Lardon, an assistant professional at Escondido in Horseshoe Bay, powered his was to a 10-stroke victory in the 2006 Southern Texas PGA Professional Championship at Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston. Lardon, who opened the tournament with a front nine score of 7-under-par in the tournament’s first round, posted a 54-hole total of 67-66-67—200, 16 under par for the Royal Oaks track. The victory, his third win in a Southern Texas PGA tournament this year, netted him $5,600 in earnings.

Lonny Alexander, director of instruction at Onion Creek Country Club in Austin, finished in second place at 72-69-60—210 to take home runner-up money of $4,200. Tim Thelen, an assistant professional at Houston’s Bushwood Golf Center, won $3,000 for his 67-76-68—211 third place effort.

Timothy Poulos, an assistant professional at Cypress Lakes Golf Club in Cypress, and Houston’s David Lundstrom, the tournament’s defending champion, finished in a fourth-place tie at 214. Both earned checks for $2,150.

Lardon, Alexander and Thelen will be joined by Ken McDonald of Houston’s BraeBurn Country Club, The Woodlands’ Troy Schleicher, a Cleveland Golf sales representative, Tony Johnson of San Antonio’s Silverhorn Golf Club, John Gibson of Houston’s Bushwood Golf Center, Chip Craig, an assistant professional at The Deerwood Club in Kingwood, and Houston’s Billy Sitton of Club Corp at the 40th PGA Professional National Championship, to be played next June at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Monday Qualifying for the Champions Tour

A pair of Champions Tour events are coming in Texas during the month of October, and that means two opportunities for the over-50 set to take a shot at a Tour event through Monday qualifying.

The Administaff Small Business Classic will be played at Augusta Pines Golf Club in Spring Oct. 13-15. And the AT&T Championship will be played at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio Oct. 20-22.

The Southern Texas PGA is conducting Monday qualifiers for both events. These one-round qualifiers are open to professional golfers ages 50 and over. All entries must be directed to the Southern Texas PGA via FAX, e-mail or through on-line entry procedures. Entry fee for each qualifier is $400 for non-members of the Champions Tour, $200 for current Associate Members of the Champions Tour and $100 for current Regular or Veteran members of the Champions Tour.

The Administaff Small Business Classic qualifier takes place on Oct. 9 at the Tradition Course at Cypresswood Golf Club in Spring. The AT&T Championship qualifier takes place on Oct. 16 at Comanche Trace in Kerrville.

In both events, the fields are limited to 156 golfers, of whom only the top two stroke-play finishers gain entry into the respective Champions Tour event.

The entry deadline for the Administaff Small Business Classic qualifier is 5 p.m. on Oct. 6. The entry deadline for the AT&T Championship qualifier is 5 p.m. on Oct. 13.

For more details or for entry forms, visit the STPGA Web site.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TGA State Mid-Amateur Preview

The Texas Golf Association State Mid-Amateur takes place this weekend on the Jackrabbit Course at Champions Golf Club in Houston. Here is the preview provided by the TGA:

Champions Golf Club to Host 2006 TGA State Mid-Amateur

The 2006 State Mid-Amateur Championship, conducted by the Texas Golf Association, will be held from September 15 - 17 on the Jackrabbit Course at Champions Golf Club in northwest Houston.

"The club is really looking forward to hosting this year's event and we think Jackrabbit will be a real test of skill for the state's top mid-amateurs," said Tad Weeks, Head Golf Professional at Champions.

Of the 132-players in the starting field for the 23rd State Mid-Amateur, 96 earned their way in through one of eleven qualifiers that were held across the state during the months of August and September. Thirty-six players were exempt from qualifying based on past performance.

A number of former champions will be competing this year including two-time winner Alan Hill (1999, 2004) of Spring Branch, Mike Booker (2003) of The Woodlands, Kyle Coody (2001) of Dallas, Bob Kearney (1998) and Champions member Robert McKinney (1996), both of Houston, and Mike McClung (1987) of Marble Falls.

Also looking to be in the mix come Sunday afternoon are Ron Schroeder of Montgomery and Randy Lance of Lufkin, winners of the TGA South Regional Amateur and Mid-Amateur, respectively, along with back-to-back South Regional Player of the Year Jonathon Mathias of San Antonio.

Some top finishers hoping to improve on last year's performance at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas are runner-up Mike Healer of Gatesville and Mac McGee of Midland, who finished in a tie for third.

The State Mid-Amateur is open to male amateur golfers who will have reached their twenty-fifth birthday by September 15, have a current USGA Handicap index of 8.4 or less, and belong to a club that is a member of the Texas Golf Association.

Scheduled for 54-holes of stroke play, the field will be cut after 36-holes to the low 54 scores and ties.

Co-founded in 1957 by World Golf Hall of Fame members Jack Burke Jr. and the late Jimmy Demaret, Champions boasts two outstanding courses, Cypress Creek and Jackrabbit, and is considered by many to be one of the preeminent
championship sites in the country.

Designed by George Fazio in 1963, Jackrabbit underwent a major renovation in 2001 by acclaimed golf course architect Tom Fazio, who was an apprentice in his uncle George's design company when the course was first built.

Cypress Creek, which was designed by Ralph Plummer and opened for play in 1959, has hosted some of the biggest amateur and professional events in golf including the 1967 Ryder Cup, 1969 U.S. Open, 1993 U.S. Amateur and 1998 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur, and the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship.

Tee-times, pairings, as well as live scoring updates will be available once the championship gets under way and will be posted on the Texas Golf Association web site (www.txga.org).