Friday, March 31, 2006

Nip-and-Tuck for Wedgewood

The Houston Chronicle's weekly golf notebook this week included news that Wedgewood Golf Club in Conroe is having some work done:

Jacobsen-Hardy Golf Course Design is giving Conroe's Wedgewood Golf Club a major facelift, including renovation of the first three holes and an island-green par-3.

On-course upgrades at Wedgewood GC come on the heels of the club's purchase in 2005 by Logeman Homes Ltd., which also plans a new clubhouse and driving range as part of a five-phase renovation. The course will reopen this fall.

STPGA Creates Another Tour to Play

Golfers who enjoy tournament play should check out the new Southern Texas PGA Associates Tour. The 10 events on its schedule are open to golfers who purchase an STPGA PGA18 Gold membership at an annual cost of $59.95. The format and eligibility requirements are:

Each of the tournaments will feature 36-holes of stroke play competition broken into four divisions. The tournaments will include an “Open Division” for amateurs and professionals ages 47 and under, a “Senior Division” for amateurs and professionals ages 48 to 57, a “Super Senior Division” for amateurs and professionals ages 58 and above, and a “Handicap Division” for amateur golfers with handicap indexes of 9.0 and above.

Entry fee for each event on the schedule is $150. Most of the tournaments are in the Houston area, with a couple each around Austin and San Antonio. The first tournament is in May at the Tradition Course at Cypresswood in Spring. For more info, see the STPGA website.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Showing Foresight

The Southern Texas PGA is relocating its headquarters from The Woodlands to Cypresswood Golf Club in Spring. It's a nice coup by Cypresswood, whose new ownership continues to restore the 54-hole facility to past prominence.

That owner is Foresight Golf, a company based in Boerne. The company began in the mid-'90s as a partnership between Dan Pedrotti and Ed Miller, who met while both serving as consultants on the construction of The Bandit in New Braunfels. Pedrotti, a Corpus Christi native, had been involved in golf course construction with a company in Arizona, while Miller was one of the most prominent golf course superintendents in America, having worked at Medinah and Cherry Hills, among others, before becoming director of agronomy at Pebble Beach.

After Foresight was formed, its first move was purchasing The Bandit. A couple years later, the company built The Buckhorn in Comfort, a fun course with wide fairways, huge greens, great conditions and a Hill Country setting. Next, in 2001, Foresight built The Republic south of Downtown San Antonio, the course that many now consider the best public track in San Antonio.

And then last year, Foresight purchased Cypresswood. And now it is home to the STPGA. Not a bad track record.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Veterans on the Links

Here's an article about a program that teaches golf to seriously injuried veterans returning from Iraq.

The program was developed by the San Antonio Parks & Recreation Department and the Texas Amputee Golf Association. Round Rock resident Roy McCoy - who lost a leg in the Vietnam War - is the president of the TAGA.

The TAGA was formed 30 years, mostly by returning Vietnam vets. The TAGA website says, "Working with the National Amputee Golf Assn. and their First Swing clinics, we have attracted many new golfers. People who suffer from a life altering event, namely the loss of a limb, often think their lives have been changed to the point where they could no longer participate in life activities. By participating in our golf clinics and tournaments, they have found out they are able to participate, compete in and enjoy golf."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Repairing Ball Marks

I was at Cimarron Hills Country Club in Georgetown a few years back, touring the golf course a month or so before it opened. The head pro tossed me a club-branded ballmark repair tool, and said that members of the club would be required to take a class on fixing ball marks before they were allowed to play. Yes, even after paying their sure-to-be-hefty dues. I don't know if they've stuck to that policy at Cimarron Hills, but more clubs (and public courses) should have this requirement.

I was reminded of that episode by Grouchy Golfer's post, Fix That Ball Mark Properly!

Only a small percentage of golfers repair ball marks. Most golfers don't repair any - their own or anyone else's. And some golfers want to do the right thing, they just don't know how. So they keep "repairing" ball marks when in fact they are just tearing up the roots of the grass and causing further damage.

The folks who do it the wrong way generally try to "pry up" the middle of the pitch mark, bringing the grass back up level with the edges of the mark. Wrong. (But at least they're trying.)

The correct way is to insert the tool at the edge of the ballmark and press or gently twist forward, moving the grass toward the middle of the "crater." Here's a refresher course on ballmark repair.

(Image from Golf Course Superintendents Association of America)

TGA South Regional Amateur

Here's the report from the Texas Golf Association on its South Regional Amateur, completed this weekend:

Montgomery - Ron Schroeder of Montgomery claimed a one stroke victory over defending champion Jonathon Mathias of San Antonio in the 2006 South Region Amateur at Walden on Lake Conroe in Montgomery. It was literally a fight to the
finish in a two man battle between Schroeder and Mathias. The two began the final round tied for the lead with Stephen Paterson of Austin, but Paterson stumbled early and was never in contention. Mathias had a three stroke lead with four holes to play, but Schroeder birdied holes 15 & 16, and when Mathias’ approach on the 18th hole found the water, Schroeder was able to two putt for par and claim the title.

Schroeder’s final round 73 left him at four over par 220 for 54 holes. The double bogey at the last hole gave Mathias a 74 (221). Marshall Piper was a alone in third three strokes back after tying the low final round score with an even par 72. Walden member John Beatty also had a final round 72 to move into a fourth place tie with Michael Whitehead at 226.

“I think Walden [on Lake Conroe] is the most challenging course in South Texas,” Schroeder says. He has a good track record on the course as the two time defending champion of the Devlin Cup, an amateur event hosted by the club each year. Schroeder is also the defending Houston City Amateur champion, and knows how tough today’s competitive amateur golf scene is. “Most of he time if you are four over par you don’t think you have much of a chance, but here you are going to be in the hunt.”

For complete results, visit the tournament page here.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Qualifier for the Houston Open Qualifier

This year, if you want to try to qualify for the Shell Houston Open, you'll first have to qualify for the qualifier.

Here's the explanation, and entry info, from the STPGA:

Qualifying for the 2006 Shell Houston Open, conducted by the Southern Texas PGA, will take place with a pair of events on Apr. 5 and Apr. 17.

The process has changed from previous years, in which a single “open” competition accounted for the qualifying process. This year, a Pre-Qualifier will precede the Open Qualifier.

The Pre-Qualifier will be held on Apr. 12 on the Tradition Course at Cypresswood Golf Club in Spring. The 18-hole stroke play competition is open to all professionals who are not 2006 PGA Tour or 2006 Nationwide Tour members and amateurs who possess a handicap index that, when applied to the qualifying course, will generate a handicap of 2.0 or less.

The top 50 (plus ties) golfers in the Pre-Qualifier will advance from the Pre-Qualifier to the Open Qualifying event, which will be held Apr. 17, also on the Tradition Course at Cypresswood.

The entry fee for the Pre-Qualifier is $200. Those golfers advancing to the 18-hole Open Qualifier will pay an additional $200 for that event. The low four (4) golfers in the Open Qualifier will advance to the Shell Houston Open, which will be played Apr. 20-23, 2006, on the Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club in Humble.

Additional information about both events, including entry forms, is available on the “Tournaments” page of the Southern Texas PGA web site (www.stpga.com). The entry deadline is 5 p.m. CST on Friday, Apr. 7, 2006.

Texas Open Dates

Here's a story about the Texas Open in San Antonio likely moving from its current September date to an October date in 2007, when it would be part of the PGA Tour's newly branded "Fall Series."

The San Antonio newspaper had another article this morning with columnist Richard Oliver passing along what he's heard while covering The Players Championship in Florida. Which is this: The Texas Open still looks like a very strong candidate to move to a much better date somewhere around 2010, which is now when the TPC project currently in development in San Antonio is expected to be ready for play.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Water Wars

Here's something we're going to see more and more of in the future: communities fighting to stop golf courses in order to preserve water supply. In this case, it's citizens of Blanco County - just north of San Antonio - fighting a housing development that is planned to include the county's first golf course.

Blanco County sits atop the often shallow Trinity Aquifer, where wells are known to run dry, and the city of Blanco also takes water from the Blanco River. And it's not at all unusual for the Blanco River to run dry. In fact, a few years back, the city fell completely out of water after the river dried up during the tail-end of a very bad drought (the city has since built a pipeline to bring in additional water from Canyon Lake).

So when a developer comes in and says it wants to build a golf course and will need to pump 185 million gallons a year from the Trinity Aquifer - more than three times the amount used by the entire town of Blanco - what reaction will many residents have?

Fight the power. And the fight is sometimes successful (although this one currently looks like it won't be). A couple years ago, a different Trinity Aquifer authority nixed a planned golf course along Cibolo Creek northeast of San Antonio that professional golfer David Ogrin wanted to build.

Golf Digest architecture editor Ron Whitten has predicted that more and more golf courses in the Southwest and other drier parts of the country will be converted to a Scottish seaside links style of play: hard and fast - and often brown - fairways; natural, unsculpted rough; and with only the greens receiving regular watering from greenskeepers.

TravelGolf.com had an insightful article about water issues called "How the West gets watered." Its focus is on Las Vegas and the Desert Southwest, but many of the issues raised apply in Texas, too.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Farewell, Ten Cups

Ten Cups is dead, long live Ten Cups.

Our pal David Fineg - a k a Bud Zenswing - has shut down his San Antonio driving range. The twin evils of pavement and insurance are to blame. The lot next to Ten Cups is being cleared. No word on what's to come, but you can bet a lot of pavement will be part of the deal. That means higher insurance premiums, plus the need for netting along the boundary shared by the driving range and whatever winds up next door. Alas, David can't afford either.

So Ten Cups - where women could practice free (because, as David would say, he "loves the women" but men of a certain age were forbidden from hitting driver without first passing a driving test - has closed down.

David, however, will be pursing his passion: fun golf. More specifically, reminding recreational golfers to have fun while playing. "Recreate" is part of "recreational golfer," after all. Not too long ago, David initiated free seminars entited "Golf Is Fun." He's hoping to take this show on the road - the rubber chicken road - with corporate gigs and tournament clinics. Anyone interested in scheduling a thought-provoking - but most of all fun, and funny - golf clinic should contact David.

To do that, visit the Ten Cups website, where David will continue to post his columns about golf, and his videos.

We'll leave you, and Ten Cups, with a taste of David's approach to golf and life. It's our favorite video yet shot by David:

The Monkey Man 1000

Friday, March 17, 2006

Fate of Panhandle Courses Unclear

The conflagration over the past week in the Panhandle has sent around 700,000 acres up in smoke as a result of fast-moving and hard-to-contain grass fires. Think of it this way: over the last week, more than 2-percent of Texas' land has been scorched.

There are golf courses all over the plains in the farthest northern reaches of the state. Some of them great little hidden 9-holers, others about what you'd expect in dry, dusty little towns. I've spent some time going through the Amarillo Globe-News' special section on the fires, but have not yet found any mention of the fate of the golf courses in places in Childress and Spearman, Borger and Pampa, Shamrock and Canadian, Perryton and McLean.

Of course, golf is the least of the concerns for residents of the area these days: homes and lives have been lost, livestock have been killed, power grids have been damaged.

If you'd like to help, contributions can be made to the Eastern Texas Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross (P.O. Box 1036, Pampa, TX 79065). Call the chapter at (800) 297-2270 for info.

The Texas Farm Bureau is also seeking hay, fence posts, fencing wire and money for farmers and ranchers in the area. If their livestock survived, those cattle now have nothing to eat. For information on helping the area's ranchers, contact the Gray-Roberts County Farm Bureau at (806) 665-8451. More info is available on the Texas Farm Bureau website.

If you want more details about what's been happening up north, check out the Globe-News' coverage on amarillo.com (registration required).

New Golf Course Development in DFW

From PGA.com:

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Bluegreen Corporation (NYSE: BXG) has acquired a 1,579-acre parcel of land in Grayson County, Texas, near Dallas, on which it plans to develop its fourth golf community in the state, company officials have announced.

The new community will offer 1/4- to 1-acre homesites, with the first phase of development expected to begin immediately and sales expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2006, officials said. Amenities are planned to include an 18-hole championship style golf course, owner's clubhouse and swim and tennis center.

All I can say is: Thanks goodness it's a "championship style" golf course. I'm getting a little tired of all these companies building sixth flight style golf courses.

Question: Has there been a single golf course - other than municipals - built in the last 20 years that was not touted as a "championship style" golf course? Where's Bud Zenswing when you need him?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Honk If You've Seen Lucy the Goose

Corpus Christi Country Club is the place to be for well-to-do golfers in CC. Originally designed by John Bredemus (of Colonial Country Club fame), later reworked by Robert Trent Jones Sr., CCCC draws not only golfers, but also all the members of the upper-class see-and-be-seen crowd.

And the Country Club's upper crust are looking for their goose.

An ill-tempered goose named Lucy has lived on the course since 1964, near the 17th tee. She was known for charging players who hadn't been kind enough to bring food for her. Now Lucy is missing - she hasn't been seen in two weeks.

When last seen, Lucy was being herded into a facility garage by former PGA Tour player Phil Blackmar, whose wife, Carole, is the golf coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. A&M-CC was hosting a collegiate tournament at the course, and Lucy had been bothering the visiting players.

Now she's gone.

Reports the Corpus Christi Caller-Times:


About two weeks ago, during the Islanders' women's annual NCAA golf tournament, competitors didn't have corn. So to ease the fear of some, who cowered behind golf carts as Lucy honked and lunged, Islanders' coach Carole Blackmar's husband tried goose-sitting.

"I lured her to a back corner of the course and fed her some crackers," said Phil Blackmar, onetime pro golfer. "As I drove away, she followed."

Wearing gloves and a thick jacket, he carried her to a storage room. "She tore at my jacket," he said, "but I fed her once inside, and that evening after play, they let her go."

No one has seen Lucy since.


Hmmm. Could the Blackmars have been enjoying a fine pate' over the past couple weeks? Or mabye one of those cowering college kids is now sleeping peacefully on a goose-down pillow.

Don't get the idea Lucy was all bad. CCCC regulars brought their kids by to pet her, and most adored the goose.


Lucy recognized regular golfers, Harper said, and would approach them when they drove their carts near the 17th tee.

"She would peck at my golf bag knowing that's where I kept my cracked corn," he said. After getting a pat on the head and a toss of corn, she would waddle away.

Lucy also was a good watchdog, Harper said, and often protected ducklings who were nesting in high grass near her territory.


So what happened to her? She likely just flew the coop. Or, at more than 40 years of age, Lucy might finally have "gone south for the winter," if you know what I mean.

(What's up with the geese down on the Coastal Bend? There's another Caller-Times article about an elderly woman suing New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson after she was attacked by a good that lives on land owned by Benson in Rockport. If you don't have an account at caller.com, you'll need to first visit bugmenot.com to read these articles.)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Hollytree Defends TGA State Club Team Title

From the Texas Golf Association:

Defending Champion Hollytree Country Club overcame a five shot deficit to successfully defend its title and win the 2006 TGA State Club Team Championship. Darin Newhouse (70) and Reggie Howell (74) combined for an even par 144 that allowed the team from Tyler to edge past Cimarron Hills by one stroke. The TGA State Club Team is a 36 hole tournament played by the USGA State Team format with the low two scores of the three player team accounting for the team total each day.

The final result at Pine Dunes Resort and Golf Club in Frankston came down to the very end. Hollytree had already posted a 292 total and anxiously waited as the final groups completed play. Wayne Smith of Cimarron Hills in Georgetown found the water on 18, which lead to a double-bogey and a final round (76). His teammate, Grady Bruce, had posted a 71, which gave Cimarron Hills a second day score of 147 for a 293 total. Bruce ended up posting the lowest individual total (72-71=143).

Brook Hollow Country Club made a charge with a one over par final round of 145 (Artie Starr-72 and Billy McBee-73) for a third place finish two shots back. First round leader Dallas CC struggled to a final round 156 to fall well back into the field.


Full results are available here.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Golfweek Rankings

Golfweek's annual "America's Best" golf course rankings are out, and Texas does better in these rankings that it does in just about any other. That's due in part to the nature of these rankings - which are actually two rankings, one for "Classic" courses (built prior to 1960) and one for "Modern" courses (built 1960 and after) - and in other part due to a new arrival.

Two Texas courses make the Classic Top 100: Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth is at No. 50, and the Cypress Creek course at Champions Golf Club in Houston at No. 92.

Three Texas courses make the Modern Top 100: Dallas National Golf Club at No. 24, Briggs Ranch Golf Club in San Antonio at No. 39, and Crown Colony Country Club in Lufkin at No. 87.

Briggs Ranch is the newcomer to the list. Briggs Ranch and Dallas National are two of three Tom Fazio-designed courses to open in Texas during 2002, the third being The Vaquero Club in Westlake. Fazio made no secret at the time that he expected all three courses to wind up on Top 100 lists. The Vaquero Club is the one of the three with the celebrity membership. Every professional golfer in the Metroplex is a member, along with just about every golfing celebrity in the Metroplex. But that's probably a result of the fact that Vaquero is in the suburbs while Dallas National is downtown.

The Golfweek rankings also include a state-by-state listing of the best public-access courses. Here is Golfweek's list of the Top 15 such courses in Texas:

1. Crown Colony, Lufkin
2. Rawls Course at Texas Tech, Lubbock
3. Barton Creek, Fazio Canyons Course, Austin
4. Pine Dunes Resort, Frankston
5. Barton Creek, Fazio Foothills Course, Austin
6. Memorial Park, Houston
7. The Bandit, New Braunfels
8. Waterwood National, Hunstville
9. Cowboys Golf Club, Grapevine
10. Horseshoe Bay Resort, Ram Rock Course, Horseshoe Bay
11. La Cantera Golf Club, Resort Course, San Antonio
12. TPC at Las Colinas, Irving
13. Texas Star, Euless
14. Horseshoe Bay Resort, Applerock Course, Horseshoe Bay
15. The Quarry, San Antonio

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Junior Long Drive Championships in Fort Worth

The Long Drivers of America (LDA) have announced that the 2006 Remax Junior World Long Drive Championship will be held in Fort Worth, July 13-16, at the Doral Tesoro resort.

The championship will feature age-group competition for boys and girls in four divisions each: 9-under, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18. Entry fee is $100 and every child registered by May 31 is guaranteed a spot in the field.

What kind of distances does it take to win a junior long drive event? Well, here are the winning drives from last year's competition:

  • Boys 16-18: Jamie Sadlowski, St. Paul, Alberta, Canada, 400 yards
  • Girls 16-18: Ashley Patterson, New Braunfels, Texas, 252 yards
  • Boys 13-15: Trent Travis, Carthage, Mississippi, 365 yards
  • Girls 13-15: Kaitlin Allen, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 279 yards
  • Boys 10-12: Collin Blenker, Albany, Minnesota, 273 yards
  • Girls 10-12: Daffodil Sanchez, Mesa, Arizona, 274 yards
  • Boys 9-under: Dane Walton, Thousand Oaks, California, 221 yards
  • Girls 9-under: Sierra Langlie, Andover, Minnesota, 166 yards

A girl aged 10-12 is driving the ball in the 270s. Wow.

Entry forms are available on the LDA website here.

Albatross

There's an article over on the Golf Digest website, in its Masters preview section, about double-eagles, a k a albatrosses. The albatross is a much more rare accomplishment than the ace. While the odds of an ace are somewhere around 13,000-to-1 for average golfers, the odds of a double-eagle are variously said to be anywhere from a million-to-1 to 6 million-to-1.

The article is a good read, and you can read it here. It includes the following story:

Manuel Land, a 74-year-old retired auto-parts salesman from Pleasanton, Texas, was in the pro shop at Pecan Valley GC in San Antonio a few months ago, ready to pay his green fee when one of the pros told the other, "This is the guy in the [newspaper] article on the wall." The pro comped Land's golf, all because of what happened to Land on May 21, 1982, as he played Pecan Valley's 525-yard par-5 finishing hole with friends Louie Smith, Tom Adams and Roy Halpin.

Smith, who ran a club repair business, was the first to play his second shot to the elevated green about 225 yards away. He hit a 3-wood. Land selected a 4-wood. Both men hit solid shots but assumed they would have chips for their third shots. "I was going around the back of the green to see where our balls were," Land says, "and Tom said, 'They're both in the hole.' "

The double eagles by two golfers in the same group was a first...

The article also includes this bit about Byron Nelson:

But a long golf résumé doesn't guarantee one of the long wonders in tournament play. Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer each have two in casual rounds -- Woods knocked in a pitching wedge for a double eagle practicing for the 1995 Walker Cup at Royal Porthcawl GC in Wales, and they share a deuce on Isleworth's par-5 seventh hole -- but haven't recorded any in competition. Neither has Byron Nelson, though he was known for hitting his fairway woods as straight as a row of corn. Even for a legend, even if it was just for kicks, you don't forget an albatross.

"I've had one double eagle, and I remember it well," says Nelson, who turned 92 this year. "It was the 16th hole at Texarkana Country Club in 1934, the last year I was pro there. I was playing with Mrs. Farr, whose husband was president of the club. It was more or less a playing lesson -- I wasn't paying that much attention to my own game. The hole was about 575 yards but downwind and with no watered fairways. I hit a good drive and took a 2-wood. I hit it well, and I thought I'd get close to the green. The ball went out of sight in a little swale in front of the green, but then we saw it run right onto the green and in the hole."

Nelson has eight aces to his lone albatross, a ratio that hints at the probability of the two feats.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Go Fly With Kite

Stumbled across this earlier today: For the low, low price of just $13,000, you can fly to the 2006 Senior British Open in a private jet with Texan Tom Kite, plus Fuzzy Zoeller, Dana Quigley and Jerry Pate, to attend the Senior Open, play some Scottish golf courses, and dine with the Champions Tour members. Sound like a deal to you? Check it out.

Clubmaker of the Year

The Professional Clubmakers Society (PCS) has named its 2006 Clubmaker of the Year - the one PCS member recognized as "the best clubmaker in the world" - and it's a Texas.

Philip Keith Chatham Jr. of PrecisionFit Golf in Kerrville is this year's honoree. The PCS says of Chatham:

Chatham was honored for his excellence in golf clubmaking and his contributions to PCS. He is a 14-year member of the Society, joining just one year after beginning his clubmaking career. In 2004-05, he received the Golf Clubmakers' Society (GCA) Texas Clubmaker of the Year Award ... He has served six years as PCS Membership Committee chair and currently is a member of the PCS Education and Training Committee. He is a contributor to Fitting Solutions for Physically Challenged Golfers, which is an on-line publication PCS will release in 2006. His Kerrville, Texas, business serves a large clientele, many of whom are senior golfers who require equipment adaptations to continue playing golf.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Brack

Last week, the San Antonio Express-News' annual golf section came out with a cover story on the 90th anniversary of the city's famed Brackenridge Park Golf Course. Brack, as it's called by, well, just about everyone, was the first 18-hole municipal golf course built in Texas, designed by A.W. Tillinghast; hosted the Texas Open numerous times; and hosted golfers over the years ranging from Walter Hagen to Byron Nelson to Ben Crenshaw.

It's funny what some of those golfers recall about the course. For Bruce Lietzke - and apparently many others - it's a backyard snack bar. One Elizabeth Schriever lived in a house that backed up to Brack's 12th hole. She set up a snack bar in her backyard sometime in the 1920s, and through into the 1960s was serving sandwiches, tacos and more to passing golfers. And most golfers waited to visit with her, rather than enter the clubhouse between the 9th and 10th holes.

Lietzke told the Express-News: "She had the greatest lemonade. ... and the sandwiches were delicious."

After the article appeared, sportswriter Richard Oliver apparently got quite a reaction from readers, because he wrote about that backyard snack stand again in today's paper. Check out the article - it's good stuff.

Also in the article about Brackenridge were such quotes as these: "(Brackenridge is) like the home of golf in Texas," said Bill Rogers.

Rogers also talked of a recent visit he received from Ben Crenshaw. Crenshaw wanted to go see Brack, so Rogers and Crenshaw drove to the course. "We walked around in the cold and the mist and rain," Rogers told the Express-News. "(Crenshaw) was like a kid in a candy store. It brought back great memories."

There are so many great memories at Brackenridge, and that's what makes the course's deterioration - which we touched on last month in this post - so sad. All the history that lives at Brackenridge could be celebrated, and the course restored, to make it a destination again not just for San Antonio golfers but for visitors who'd like to walk the fairways walked by Hagen, Hogan and Nelson.

The course can never be what it once was, completely, because in the mid-1960s it lost a chunk of its acreage when U.S. 281 was routed around the back nine. Brack was short (by today's standards) to begin with, but when 281 went in, numerous holes were shortened, re-routed, and crammed together.

Still, there are rumors from time to time of big plans for Brackenridge. For example, last year I was told by a golf pro who himself was told by one of the principles that Ben Crenshaw and a partner were preparing a proposal for the city: let us take over the management of Brackenridge. Ben and his partner wanted to renovate the course, turn part of the clubhouse into a museum, place historical markers around the layout. They wanted a return to glory.

Sounds like a fantastic idea to me, and perhaps Crenshaw and his partner are still considering this, but nothing ever came of it.

Another big idea for Brackenridge has been floated: extend San Antonio's famed River Walk all the way to the golf course. River barges would pick up golfers at the Downtown River Walk hotels and transport them to and from the course.

These big ideas are great, and maybe someday something like this might even happen. In the meantime, there are dozens of small steps that can and should be taken to prop up Brackenridge.

And in the meantime, we can all enjoy the memories.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Champions Golf Tour - No, Not the Old Guys

I got in the mail today a fancy-shmancy postcard from the Champions Golf Tour, a DFW-based outfit. After checking out the tour's website, I'm embarrassed to admit I'd never heard of these guys before.

The tour's events are open to golfers of all skill levels who want to compete for cash. Tournaments are played throughout Texas, plus Louisiana, Oklahoma and soon a few other states. First place is guaranteed to earn at least $1,000, with prizes up to $15,000 available in certain events.

There are Open and Handicap divisions, and the tour even welcomes amateur and women competitors. Events range from 18 to 54 holes. Yearly membership dues are under $200 (although golfers can play as a guest, rather than joining the tour), and individual tournament entry fees range from $160 to $190 (and up to $600 for one of the four "majors" on the Champions Golf Tour).

The money leader in 2005, Brad Bessler, racked up just over $20,000 in winnings. Bessler is a plus-1.3 handicapper. But a a 22.9-handicapper finished 8th on the money list with around $5,500 in winnings.

If you're looking for a place to test yourself in tournaments with money on the line, check out the Champions Golf Tour.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Honoring Dick Harmon

The Houston Chronicle has a brief recap of a recent memorial held for Dick Harmon by his three surviving brothers, Butch, Craig and Billy, at Minute Maid Park. Included is the news that the Houston Golf Association is renaming the main building at The First Tee of Houston at Redstone Golf Club the Dick Harmon Learning Center.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Catching Up with the Canadian Tour

I neglected to mention ahead of time that the Canadian Tour is in Austin this weekend for the first of back-to-back tournaments at Barton Creek Resort.

But it is. Craig Kanada, a Texan appropriately named for this event, leads after the first round of the Yes! Golf Barton Creek Classic, being played on the Fazio Canyons and Crenshaw Cliffside courses.

Next week brings the Yes! Golf Barton Creek Challenge. There are a few familiar names in the fields - Omar Uresti and Blaine McCallister, for example - and plenty of Texans.

If you're near Austin, check 'em out. There are far worse ways to spend a day than strolling one of the Barton Creek tracks.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Top 50 Teachers

The magazine Golf For Women issues its own list of Top 50 instructors each year, in this case the best female golf instructors in America. Five Texas instructors made the list this year. They are:

  • Rosey Bartlett, Trophy Club Country Club (817-430-8096)
  • Lori Brock, D.A.'s Spring Creek Golf Center, Plano (214-850-0193)
  • Betsy Cullen, Pine Forest Country Club, Houston (281-815-8514)
  • Amy Fox, Tierra Verde Golf Course, Arlington (817-477-9894)
  • Deb Vangellow, Sweetwater Country Club, Houston (281-980-4653)