Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Texas Open Keeping Eye on Tampa Bay

Richard Oliver, in his Oliver's Twist blog on mysa.com, has some interesting news on the future of the Texas Open:

They're nervous in Tampa Bay these days, and Valero Texas Open head Tony Piazzi empathizes.

It wasn't that long ago that his tournament was on the ropes, getting pounded by the PGA Tour for not having a sponsor and just waiting for the final blow to put it out of its misery.

Today, however, the Open is standing tall, thanks to Valero's last-minute largesse, and the future looks brighter than it ever has. In Tampa-St. Pete, however, the mood is starkly different.

There, the Tampa Bay Championship, scheduled for March 8-11 next year as part of the new FedEx Cup series, finds itself without a sponsor. It's nerve-wracking for the event, especially considering that when 84 Lumber announced a few weeks back that it was pulling its sponsorship from the annual 84 Lumber Classic in Pennsylvania, the PGA Tour immediately yanked the date away from the tournament and handed it over to Hartford.

The tour has stepped in to help Tampa find a sponsor, and there's expectation that something can be done in coming weeks. But, if not, it's fair to wonder what's next.

The Texas Open would wonder, as it's contractually obligated for the next available spring date.


What caught my eye is the "contractually obligated" part. The Texas Open gets killed every year by either the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup, which it's been directorly up against. In 2007, the tournament likely will move into October, but will still be burdened with the weakened fields that show up to PGA Tour events late in the year.

A new spring date - whether it turns out to be the Tampa Bay slot on the schedule or not - is just what the tournament needs. My guess is the new date will coincide with the first year of the tournament's play at the TPC San Antonio course currently under construction.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More on Maggert

Steve Campbell has a nice profile of Woodlands resident Jeff Maggert in the Houston Chronicle (visit bugmenot.com if you need a user name/password to read):

... To be sure, Maggert has needed a sense of humor about his game lately. Maggert is 42, and he had made 180 starts since his most recent victory at the 1999 Match Play Championship. He finished a career-worst 106th on the money list last year, and the 2006 season was starting to look like more of the same aggravation. In his first 12 starts of the season, he missed five cuts and cracked the top 15 only once.

"Seven years goes by fast," said Maggert, a former Texas A&M All-American who spent his formative years honing his game in The Woodlands as part of the Houston Golf Association's junior program. "I can't believe it's been seven years, but it's been seven good years for me. I played a lot of good golf in that span. I haven't won, but this is just a good win for me."

...

"I've certainly played well enough to probably win seven, eight, nine, 10 times," Maggert said. "But this is a tough game. You can put yourself in contention a lot, and success breeds more success. When you win a few times out here, the second, third, fourth, fifth wins become a little easier. I just had a lot of time in between a win."

Maggert has more career runner-up finishes than Cook, who has won 11 times while making only one Ryder Cup team. Maggert has more runner-up finishes than Houston's Steve Elkington, whose 10 victories include the 1995 PGA Championship. Maggert has more runner-up finishes than David Toms, a top-10 player whose 12 victories include the 2001 PGA.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Look at that Little Maggert Go!

In my best Howard Cosell impersonation ...

Texas A&M grad Jeff Maggert won for the first time in seven years Sunday at the St. Jude Classic. Maggert, a native of Missouri but now a resident of The Woodlands (that means we can claim him when he wins), did it in style, firing a 65 in the final round.

It was Maggert's third career victory. Isn't that surprising - that Maggert has only three wins on the PGA Tour? He's a guy who always seems to be in the hunt, and has had some great majors. Seems like he should have won more often.

It was a pretty good tournament for native Texans, too, with Ryan Palmer finishing tied for 10th, Justin Leonard tied in 22nd and Bob Estes tied in 28th.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Golden Triangle Golf Community Mourns Durham's Passing

The lead item in Tom Halliburton's weekly local golf column in the Port Arthur News brings the sad news of the passing of Henry Durham, one of the top amateurs from this part of the state and a great benefactor of the junior golf community.

Halliburton writes:

For more than 40 years, Henry Durham's special shadow made its way around
Southeast Texas golf courses.

The first African American to capture a major city tournament in the Port Arthur area, Durham lived virtually all of his adult life in the Golden Triangle.

Area golfers mourned the death of the 71-year-old former refinery worker, who passed away from injuries sustained in an auto accident on Texas 105 last week.

Around the start of this decade, the Lufkin native became instrumental in forming the Henry Durham Foundation to help provide youths with facilities where they could play golf.

One of those area golf dignitaries to attend Durham's services on Tuesday morning was Babe Zaharias golf professional Ed Campbell. A co-founder of the First Tee junior golf program in Port Arthur, Durham was recognized by Campbell for his outstanding and rich contribution to the sport.

"Henry was one of the best amateurs in this area for years and years," Campbell said. "He really was one of the greatest players to ever come out of this part of the country.

"He was a perfect gentleman, a real good player and a great asset to our golf community. One of his main purposes later in life was to get the First Tee (junior golf program) to Port Arthur. He was not the only force by any means but he certainly was the driving force behind making that happen."

Henry Durham lived a special life and lived it to the fullest. To all of his friends and family, the golf community in Port Arthur has lost a guy who definitely deserved to step into that tee box and hit first. Henry was a champ. He will be greatly missed ...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Houston's Thelen Wins Callaway Tradition Championship

The Callaway Tradition Championship, one of the Southern Texas PGA's "majors," was played last weekend on the Player Course at The Woodlands Country Club. Here's the recap from the STPGA:

Houston’s Tim Thelen posted a course record-tying score of 6-under-par 66 for a 36-hole total of 137 to win the 2006 Callaway Tradition Championship at The Woodlands Country Club Gary Player Course by two-strokes over first-round leader Chip Craig of Kingwood.

Thelen, a two-time PGA of America Club Professional Championship winner and a five-time Southern Texas PGA Player of the Year, earned $2,100 for the victory. It was his second victory in a “major” STPGA tournament this year . . . he won the Srixon Spring Classic, presented by Mizuno, two months ago.

“It was really a pretty easy 66,” said Thelen, tongue firmly in cheek, of his record effort. “I missed one fairway by a foot and one green by a foot. It could have been better.”

Thelen took eight straight pars to begin his second round. He then scored birdies on four of the next seven holes and an eagle on No. 16 to reach the 6-under mark. Pars on the 17th and 18th holes closed out the bogey-free round.

Craig, the 2005 STPGA Player of the Year, took home the runner-up check for $2,100. Houston’s Eric Bogar and Jackie Montgomery of Sugar Land finished tied for third place at 1-under-par 143 for winnings of $1,500 each.

San Antonio’s Chuck Westergard and Jeff Cooper of Orange finished regulation play
knotted in a first-place tie at 3-over-par 147 in the tournament’s Senior Division. Westergard took the victory wit a par on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

Creek Scott Crosby finished in third place at 154 and won $550.

Full results are available here.

Corpus Christi Muni Makeover

Gabe Lozano Sr. Golf Center, one of the two municipal courses in Corpus Christi, is getting a new strain of grass for the first time in 40 years. Given all the advances in turfgrass over that time period, this should result in smoother putting surfaces and softer fairways.

Of course, assuming anything about a municipal course is always tricky. Gabe's, as the locals call it, has struggled for years with turf conditions, including turfgrass boo-boos that killed many of the greens a couple years ago.

But at least the city is trying. For golfers, this means that 9-holes of Gabe's regulation 18 will be closed at any given time during the process, which will be taking place from June through October. While one nine is closed, golfers can make their 18-hole round by playing the open nine twice, or by combining the open nine with the facility's 9-hole executive course (the executive course is not being upgraded).

The $1.19 million makeover also includes the installation of some new sand bunkers and grass bunkers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Colonial Wrapups: Texas-Two Step Ending, Crenshaw's Anger Management

A couple of interesting wrapups in the wake of Colonial.

In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jimmy Burch points out that this is the last year (as far as we know) of the "Texas Two-Step," the back-to-back weeks in the Metroplex (the Nelson followed by Colonial). Much is up in the air, however:

Until further notice, the PGA Tour has performed its last Texas Two-Step through Dallas-Fort Worth.

When professional golfers return in 2007, they will compete in events scheduled in different months.

Both the EDS Byron Nelson Championship (April 26-29) and the Colonial tournament (May 24-27) will provide points to golfers' totals in the race to win the inaugural FedEx Cup, the tour's new method of identifying its top player.

How many points? That's to be determined.

The Colonial title sponsor? Also, to be determined.

Will the four-week gap between local tour stops become permanent? Once again, to be determined.

As for Crenshaw, I think I've written before how his nickname, "Gentle Ben," was given to him as a matter of sarcasm because of his on-course temper tantrums. Crenshaw played in the Colonial and made the cut this year, and he writes on SI.com about his love of the golf course and his respect for Ben Hogan. But he also writes about the permanent damage he once did to one of his big toes at the course:

In 1979 I was in contention when I three-putted the 16th hole on Sunday. I was mad, and as I walked off the green I kicked a big trash barrel so hard that I'm still paying for it. I've had surgery on the big toe on my right foot once, and probably will again, because the toe is arthritic. Plus, I've developed some back problems from walking on the side of my foot because of the toe.

The temper that got him sarcastically called "Gentle Ben" was much more on display in his early years, but it cropped up from time to time on the PGA Tour, too. During a 1987 Ryder Cup singles match, Crenshaw broke his putter in anger and had to use his 1-iron and sand wedge on putts the remainder of the match (he lost).

Cano's Season in Jeopardy

A few months back we posted about the travails experienced by many young, unproven golfers who struggle to find sponsors and make cuts. San Antonio golfer Christi Cano had just qualified for the LPGA Tour was in that boat, and we used her as an example. At the time, she was trying to find enough money for the week-to-week travels to and from tournaments.

Cano hasn't had a very good time of it in 2006, making just one cut. Last week, she went 80-85 and finished dead last at the Sybase Classic.

Today, she revealed that she's been suffering all season from a hand injury she originally incurred during the LPGA Q-School and which prevents her from practicing ... at all. Cano told the San Antonio Express-News she'll likely seek a medical exemption for 2006 with the hope of being healthy for 2007.

What is it with San Antonio golfers and medical exemptions? Jimmy Walker led the Nationwide Tour in earnings in 2004, winning his way onto the PGA Tour. But he hurt his neck in his first tournament of 2005 and is playing this year through the medical exemption he applied for last year.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Last of the U.S. Open Local Qualifiers

Midland and McKinney were the sites of the final two Texas local qualifiers for the U.S. Open. Here are the golfers who advanced into sectional qualifying out of those two locations:

Midland Country Club
Weldon Martin (a), Houston, 70

McKinney - Stonebridge Ranch Country Club
Colt Knost, Dallas, 67
Ryan Baca, Richmond, 68
Andrew Dresser, Carrollton, 69
Anthony Rodriguez, Spring Branch, 69
Matt Weibring, Cleveland, Ohio, 69
Vince Jewell, Fort Worth, 69
Matthew Ballard, Burleigh Heads, Australia, 70
Ryan Murphy, Austin, 70
Scott Fawcett, Dallas, 70

These players advance into sectionals, where many more recognizable names will be playing, as well (more experienced and accomplished professionals who were exempt from local qualifying).

One of the sectional qualifiers will be played in Texas, June 5 at Lakeside Country Club in Houston.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Brook Hollow GC Team Wins State Four-Ball

Here's the report from the Texas Golf Association on the TGA State Four-Ball Championship:

Plano - Artie Starrs and David Leachman, both from Dallas, said they had played well throughout the 2006 TGA State Four-Ball Championship, but couldn’t get many putts to fall. But the putts fell for them over the final nine holes during the final round at the King’s Course of Gleneagles Country Club in Plano. Starrs and
Leachman birdied the first five holes on the back nine en route to a 7-under-par 65 and a two shot victory to claim the title.

“We finally made some putts on the back nine,” Starrs said. That included a lengthy par save on the 16th to keep the margin at two strokes. Starrs and Leachman were paired with John Stollenwerck and Malcolm Holland, but Holland didn’t arrive at the course until the group was making the turn to the back nine. He had been attending his daughter’s high school graduation activities. “When Malcolm showed up it was
like the whole group relaxed and we just started making the putts,” Leachman
said.

It was the first TGA State Four-Ball championship for the duo that are both members at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, and play quite a bit of golf together. They finished two shots ahead of defending champions Chris James of Austin and Kent Wiese of Houston, 2003-04 champions Terrence Miskell of New Braunfels and Titus Harris of Houston, and the team of Mark McEntire of Hutto and Deron Zinnecker of Austin (who shot the low round of the tournament with an 8-under-par 64). Gleneagles members Greg Smith and Mike Chisum of Plano, who were tied for the lead going into the final round, finished alone in fifth three shots back.

Full results are available on the TGA Web site.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hodgepost

Here is some "stuff" I found interesting recently:

• The May 20 issue of Golfweek magazine has a couple articles of interest to Texas golfers. One is on the first University of Houston team to win a national championship, back in the mid-1950s. This team launched what would become one of the great dynasties in NCAA sports history - at one point, Houston won the NCAA men's golf championship in 16 out of 19 years! And in the back of the book is a nice column about Byron Nelson by Jeff Rude. Don't believe these articles are online yet, but check www.golfweek.com in a week or so, or pick up a copy at the newsstand.

Here's a video that will be funny or pathetic, depending on your view of Bobby Knight. Knight, now the men's basketball coach at Texas Tech, is an avid golfer. During his time at Indiana he hosted a weekly golf show, and the video offers outtakes from the taping of his golf shows. Let's see, do you suspect Bobby Knight is a calm, cool, courteous golfer, or a profane screamer? Warning: This video is not child- or work-safe. Lots of very bad language flying around.

• While David Fineg's Ten Cups driving range is no more, David continues to update the Ten Cups Web site with his newest videos and articles. What was it that Bill Cosby used to say as he wrapped his introduction of the latest "Fat Albert" episode? "Be careful, or you just might learn something.

• And here's a profile of Killeen golf pro George Antunes. I always enjoy reading about golf pros at the lesser-known courses or in the smaller towns. Many times these are some of the most interesting characters in golf. They work hard and have stories to tell. Which reminds me: if you see an interesting golf article in your local newspaper, send me a heads-up by using the email address listed at the bottom of the sidebar.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hogan Special on CBS

A quick (and late) reminder that CBS will air a special on Ben Hogan prior to the start of its Colonial coverage on Saturday. The special, titled "Ben Hogan: The Quest for Perfection," is a 1-hour documentary and will air beginning at 1 p.m.

Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth was Hogan's home course, but he was always associated with the Colonial tournament and was usually a major presence during tournament week, in one way or another. Many of the pros who were staples at Colonial in the late 1960s, the 1970s and early 1980s, talk about their favorite part of Colonial week being the opportunity to drive over to Shady Oaks to watch Hogan practice.

CORRECTION: CBS has sent out a correction to its original press release. The Hogan documentary will air on Saturday, May 27, prior to the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Barton Creek, Other ClubCorp Properties For Sale

Austin's esteemed Barton Creek Resort, considered one of the top golf resorts in the world, is up for sale. So is Kingwood Country Club, at 1,000 acres considered "the world's largest private country club."

Barton Creek and Kingwood CC are two of the more than 170 clubs and courses across the U.S. owned by Dallas-based ClubCorp, which recently announced its plans to sell all but one of its golf properties. The one it is keeping? Pinehurst.

Twenty-five of ClubCorp's properties are in Texas, and many of them are among the most-recognizable in the state. They'll all be getting new owners. Those 25 clubs are:

  • April Sound Country Club, Montgomery
  • Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin
  • Bay Oaks Country Club, Houston
  • Brookhaven Country Club, Dallas
  • Canyon Creek Country Club, Richardson
  • Club at Cimarron, Mission
  • Club at Falcon Point, Katy
  • Fair Oaks Ranch Golf & Country Club, Fair Oaks Ranch
  • Gleneagles Country Club, Plano
  • Hackberry Creek Country Club, Irving
  • Hearthstone Country Club, Houston
  • Kingwood Country Club, Kingwood
  • Lakeway Golf Club, Austin
  • Las Colinas Country Club, Irving
  • Lost Creek Country Club, Austin
  • Oakmont Country Club, Corinth
  • Shady Valley Golf Club, Arlington
  • Stonebriar Country Club, Frisco
  • Stonebridge Ranch Country Club, Frisco
  • The Hills Country Club, Austin
  • Timarron Country Club, Southlake
  • Trophy Club Country Club, Trophy Club
  • Walnut Creek Country Club, Mansfield
  • Wildflower Country Club, Temple
  • Willow Creek Golf Club, Spring
ClubCorp officials say the company will take six months to evaluate offers, then hopes to sell all its properties in one chunk to a single buyer. The company also says that all current ClubCorp members will continue to have access to Pinehurst.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

U.S. Open Local Qualifying, Part 2

More results from the round of local qualifying for the U.S. Open (the San Antonio qualifier was played Monday, the Houston qualifier Tuesday):

San Antonio Country Club
Brett Callas, Houston, 68
Joey Zamora, Edinburg, 68
Lonny Alexander, New Braunfels, 70
Jonathan Lenz (a), San Antonio, 70
Nathan Camacho, San Antonio, 70

Houston - The Club at Carlton Woods (Fazio Course)
Jim Bob Jackson, Denton, 67
Jordan Hasbrouck, Spring, 67
Roland Thatcher, The Woodlands, 67
Michael Kullberg, Houston, 69
Brian Rowell, Houston, 69
Tjaart Van der Walt, South Africa, 69
Chris Borgen, The Woodlands, 70
Brad Lardon, Huntington, N.Y., 70
D.A. Points, Pekin, Ill., 70

Good to see someone named "Jim Bob" make it out of local qualifying in Texas.

Where Have All the Texans Gone?

That's the title of Jason Sobel's latest "Weekly 18" posted on espn.com. Sobel begins with this:

Chad Campbell owns three career PGA Tour victories. He's currently ranked sixth on the money list. And if there's a ranking of best players without a major championship title, he's creeping closer to the top every day. In short, the guy's a pretty solid professional golfer. At 17th in the World Ranking, Campbell is the top Texas native around.

Same goes for tour veterans Scott Verplank, Bart Bryant and Justin Leonard. Good players, but hardly Hall of Fame talents.

This quartet of Texans -- the only four Lone Star State natives ranked in the world's top 50 -- are the best Texas has to offer these days. As a whole, however, they don't exactly conjure up memories of Hogan, Nelson, Demaret, Trevino, Kite and Crenshaw, to name a handful of major championship winners from the state.

In April of last year, I ranked the then-best Texans on tour, and made a similar observation in passing: that the current crop of Texans fails to live up to the state's storied golf history.

Well, duh! Hogan, Nelson, Trevino? Unless you're Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods these days, you're going to have a hard time living up to that!

In other words, I've come to believe that this angle on Texas golfers is way overplayed right now.

Imagine this: there's a national fourball tournament in which one twosome from each state enters. Texas' twosome would be Chad Campbell and Justin Leonard. What other states could produce a twosome that is clearly better than that?

By my count, one: California (Woods and Mickelson). There are other states that might be slight favorites over Texas' twosome, but any differences would be small. Campbell, as Sobel pointed out, is currently sixth on the money list. But he's one of only seven Americans currently in the Top 20 (Scott Verplank just misses the cut at No. 21 as of this writing).

Campbell is clearly one of the Top 10 American golfers on Tour right now, arguably one of the Top 5. And Scott Verplank is arguably in the Top 10, but is certainly in the Top 20. Leonard isn't having a great year, but I put him in my twosome to demonstrate a point.

That point is this: Leonard, considered for the strength of his career, isn't out of place in a discussion of the next-best American golfers, behind Woods and Mickelson, over the past 10-15 years.

Sure, Jim Furyk and David Toms are much stronger candidates. OK, they're just stronger, not much stronger:

Justin Leonard - 10 wins, 1 major
Jim Furyk - 11 wins, 1 major
David Toms - 12 wins, 1 major

The difference is that Furyk and Toms are in contention more often and therefore pile up more money (and TV time). But Leonard is a highly accomplished player. His career totals, right now (when he presumably has some good years left in him), place him a notch above the Scott Hochs and Kenny Perrys of the PGA Tour - and that ain't nothing to sneeze at.

So the reason people can ask "where have all the Texans gone?" isn't because the current crop of Texans isn't very good or isn't very deep, it's because the best Texas golfers were among the best-ever. And that's a high bar for anyone to live up to.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

U.S. Open Local Qualifying Results

Here are the results from U.S. Open local qualifiers held around Texas (only those players who qualified to move on to the sectional level are listed):

Austin - Spanish Oaks Golf Club
Jhonattan Vegas (a), Venezuela, 69
Corbin King, Round Rock, 71
Henrik Simonsen, Bee Cave, 71
Franklin Hatchett, Dallas, 72
John Crysler, Austin, 73

Grand Prairie - Tangle Ridge Golf Club
Addison Awe (a), Dallas, 67
Martin Flores, Mansfield, 67
William Haas, Greensville, S.C., 67
Charlie Stevens (a), Fort Worth, 67
Colby Beckstrom, North Muskegon, Mich., 68
Robert Garrigus, Portland, Ore., 68

Another Texan who made it through local qualifying was Hernan Borja (a) of Kingwood. Borja is a junior at Barry University in Florida and won his qualifier in Boynton Beach, Fla., with a 67. All of these players advance to the 36-hole sectional qualifiers that will be played June 5-6.

Local qualifying continues at numerous sites around the country through May 22. Three sites in Texas are still to host local qualifiers:
  • May 16 - The Club at Carlton Woods, Houston
  • May 19 - Midland Country Club
  • May 22 - Stonebridge Ranch Country Club, McKinney
Qualifying results from around the U.S. can be viewed here.

U.S. Women's Open Local Qualifying Results

Results from the Texas location of local qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open (only players who advanced out of local qualifying are listed):

Houston - Westwood Golf Club
Amanda Blumenherst (a), Scottsdale, Ariz., 72
Catherine Matranga (a), Fort Worth, 72
Jennifer Ackerson (a), Dallas, 74
Lauren Espinosa (a), Hickory Creek, 74
Ashley Knoll (a), The Woodlands, 74
Paige Martin (a), Ardmore, Okla., 74
Patricia Beliard, Houston, 75
Sara Brown (a), Tucson, Ariz., 75
Adrienne Gatreaux, Mabank, 75
Meghan Gockel (a), Dallas, 75
Kim Rowton Hall, San Antonio, 75
Lisa McCloskey (a), Montgomery, 75
Ginny Brown (a), Austin, 76
Ashley Deatherage (a), Bryan, 76
Jackie Smith (a), Magnolia, 76
Kate Ackerson (a), Allen, 77
Lauren Johnson (a), The Woodlands, 77
Rebecca Kuhn (a), Miami, Fla., 77
Mallorie Underwood (a), Mongtomery, 77

All of these players advance to sectional qualifying, which will take place during June 5-13. Local qualifying continues at 10 more sites through May 22, but Westwood Golf Club is the only Texas site to host a local qualifier this year.

State Four-Ball Begins Friday in Plano

For the first time in its 30-year history, the Texas Golf Association State Four-Ball Championship will be played outside of Kerrville. The tournament begins on Friday at Gleneagles Country Club (Kings Course) in Plano.

Defending champions Kent Weise of Houston and Chris James of Austin are back to defend their title in the 54-hole event. Other former State Four-Ball champions in this year’s field include threetime champions Chris Goodspeed of Farmers Branch and Bill Steen of Abilene (1996, 1997, 2002), back-to-back champs Terrence Miskell of New Braunfels and Titus Harris of Houston (2003, 2004), and 2001 winners Alan Hill of Spring Branch and Jeff Harvey of San Antonio.

Tournament pairings are posted on the TGA Web site, where those interested can also find live scoring once the tournament begins.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pharaohs on Life Support

Last October, I wrote about Pharaohs Golf Club in Corpus Christi being put up for sale. The post was actually about the long-running commentary in Corpus Christi over the need for a third public golf course in that city of nearly 300,000.

I should say, the alleged need. Most Corpus Christi golfers like to whine about the need. I say this as a former resident of Corpus Christi who did a lot of whining on that topic myself during my many years there.

But now, I think, I was wrong. Because Pharaohs Golf Club went semi-private somewhere around 1990, and has never garnered crowds despite its fees to the public being equal to or even less than those of the two municipals.

Now, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports, there may be so little interest in Pharaohs that the course might disappear altogether.

The price for Pharaohs when it went on the market was $4.8 million. There've been no takers so far. So the club owners are now considering selling half the course to developers who would build apartments or possibly dormitories for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi students.

If a decent course like Pharaohs (nothing special on its merits, in my opinion, but certainly - at least - on the same level as the two municipal courses in town) can't find the patronage to remain in operation, then once and for all the claim that another public golf course is necessary in Corpus Christi should be put to rest.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Byron's Medal

The day before the EDS Byron Nelson Championship teed off, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to award Byron Nelson the Congressional Gold Medal:

The medal is intended to honor the 94-year-old Nelson for his philanthropy, said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, who sponsored the bill approved by a voice
vote Tuesday.

"Through his outstanding accomplishments as a golfer and a humanitarian, Byron Nelson has proved to be an exemplary citizen," Burgess said in a statement.

The bill now must be approved by the Senate.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Byron Nelson

byron nelson As golfers tee off today in the EDS Byron Nelson Championship (live scoring available on the PGATour.com tournament page), don't forget the man whose name is the name of the tournament.

The great Lord Byron won 54 times on the PGA Tour, despite retiring from full-time competitive golf at the age of 34. He won 18 times in 1945 (plus once more in an "unofficial" tournament), including 11 wins in a row.

That 1945 season came during a stretch in which Nelson finished in the top 10 in 65 straight tournaments. During the streak, he was first 34 times, second 16 more times - 50 out of 65 times in the top two!

And as his protege Ken Venturi once said, "You can always argue who was the greatest player, but Byron is the finest gentleman the game has ever known."

If you want to read a short profile of Nelson, here's one on About.com, and here's another on the World Golf Hall of Fame site. And here's an argument for Nelson's 1945 season as the best in golf history.

Speaking of articles about Byron Nelson, the June issue of Texas Highways magazine has one that I highly recommend. Very enjoyable reading - the article is pretty much just one long golf tale by Nelson.

Who else is left who can start a story by saying, "I picked up Arnold (Palmer) and then we drove over to pick up Ike (Dwight Eisenhower)." Nelson talks about the many rounds he played with President Eisenhower at Augusta, including one where Ike outdrove him on two holes. Eisenhower said nothing while the round was in progress. But after, in the clubhouse, he walked in and spotted Nelson, and bellowed out to all around, "I outdrove that duffer twice today!"

Then there's the time Jug McSpaden made off with Byron's favorite putter, then broke it ... Unfortunately, the story is not yet posted on the Texas Highways website. But look for it.

You can have Ben Hogan. I'll take Mr. Nelson. I know which one I'd want to play golf with, or just sit and chat with. People respected Hogan. They admire Nelson.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Look

As regular readers will notice, I've changed the look of the Texas Golf blog again. The photo in the title bar is courtesy of TexasGolfShots.com.

I switched things up again just for a little more consistency in appearance (colors, ad units, etc.). I stuck with a standard Blogger template because, well, I'm not very bright (something else regular readers probably notice).

If you have any thoughts on the new look - good, bad or otherwise - share in comments.

The Remarkable Case of Bruce Hooper

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that San Antonian Bruce Hooper had won an international tournament for blind golfers in Japan by shooting rounds of 80 and 82. Pretty remarkable, don't you think, to shoot those scores when you can't see the ball, can't see the clubs, and can't see the course?

Here is a profile of Hooper in the San Antonio Express-News. Hooper played in the city senior championship a week ago and finished in the Top 25 with consecutive 79s.

What makes Hooper's sightless success all the more amazing is that he didn't lose his sight until he was in his 50s. Macular degeneration took his vision in 2002. That's just four years ago. Think about that.

Mr. Nelson and Mr. Mickelson

Back in the week preceding The Masters, there were a couple news stories that mentioned Ben Crenshaw's role as master of ceremonies for the Champions Dinner at Augusta. Crenshaw had been asked by Byron Nelson to take over those duties because Nelson was ill and couldn't travel.

None of the stories ever mentioned what Mr. Nelson's illness was, or whether it was serious. It's safe to say now that it wasn't serious, but all the same, I'll be very happy to see Mr. Nelson on the first tee tomorrow, greeting the players as they begin their rounds at the Byron Nelson Championship.

Phil Mickelson, however, is feeling a bit under the weather right now. Or more accurately, he's dog tired. So, unfortunately, Mickelson withdrew from the Nelson on Monday.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Byron Nelson Qualifying

Monday qualifying for the Byron Nelson Championship took place on - you're not going to believe this! - Monday at the Timarron Country Club in Southlake.

Four spots were up for grabs, and one of those went to PGA Tour veteran Cameron Beckman of San Antonio. Beckman lost his fully exempt status last year and is splitting his time between the Nationwide Tour and those PGA Tour events that he can get into. Beckman shot a 66 in his qualifying round.

Also playing their way into the Nelson were Martin Flores of Mansfield, Clark Dennis of Fort Worth and Chris Parra of Irving, all of whom shots 67s. Flores is a former Class 5A state champion, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports it will be the first PGA Tour appearance for Flores and Parra. Dennis previously played in the Texas Open last September.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mongtomery County = Great High School Golf

There's an article in the Houston Chronicle detailing the great success over the years of the high school golf teams in Montgomery County (the teams from Montgomery and The Woodlands high schools). What could it be that makes these teams so successful? Hmm, well, the kids on those teams have a very good chance of being the children of wealthy parents, and that always helps (in golf and everything else).

Then there's this nugget:

Fred Couples and Vijay Singh have fought for pro titles at TPC at The Woodlands — the place The Woodlands golf teams now call their practice course.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Stan Altgelt Passes Away at Age 57

Golf instructor Stan Altgelt died last Tuesday at his home in San Antonio, the result of a blood clot on his lung.

Altgelt, a Corpus Christi native, spent the last third of his life as a golf instructor. His approach was to focus on the body's role in the golf swing - how the muscles work to put it all together. "When you practice for months on one movement," Altgelt told the San Antonio Express-News in 2004, "you get a real awareness of one part of the body. As you start working on the whole swing, you really know and sense what everything is doing. You even know what your eyelashes and earlobes are doing."

What made Altgelt's approach all the more unusual is that since 1994, when he suffered a spinal injury in a fall from a deer blind, Altgelt had been confined to a wheelchair.

Stan Altgelt was a star of Texas golf in the late '60s and '70s. He played on the SMU golf team from 1969-72, then spent 1975-84 on the PGA Tour. His results weren't great, but his reputation was:

"He was a very strong, physical ball striker," said Ben Crenshaw, who first met Altgelt when both were in college. "He had a beautiful swing. He struck the ball with a lot of authority, but he also hit the ball with the middle of the clubface so many times."

Briggs Ranch partner Bill Rogers, who won the British Open in 1981, said Altgelt was one of the tour's most revered players.

"Stan had as much talent as anyone that has picked up a golf club," Rogers said. "He had strength, mechanics, fundamentals and no one worked harder. It was beautiful to watch him play."

Chronic back problems that first appeared in his rookie season on tour limited what Altgelt would accomplish as a tour professional. But not even the spinal injury suffered in 1994 would limit his accomplishments as a teacher.

Altgelt applied lessons learned from ballet - his mother was a ballet instructor and, his obituary in the San Antonio paper said, he was taught "the mechanics of physical motion" by a Russian ballerina - to the golf swing, hence his focus on the phsyicality of the swing.

While Altgelt wasn't the best-known instructor in San Antonio - he felt potential students were often scared off by the thought of taking lessons from someone in a wheelchair - he was among the accomplished. His students - including Alan Hill and George Fillis - have dominated the San Antonio city golf championships over the past decade.

From the obituary:

"He really helped you in accomplishing your goals, but he would also become your friend," Fillis said. "That pervaded our relationship. If you showed some interest, he would go the extra miles for you."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Texas Indoor Golf Opening in Grapevine

Texas Indoor Golf, a 24,000-square-foot golf center, opens on Saturday in Grapevine. It is touted as being the first of its kind in Texas, a "revolutionary concept in indoor golf practice, instruction and entertainment."

The facility is located on Highway 121 North, across from Grapevine Mills and Bass Pro Shops north of DFW International Airport.

Texas Indoor Golf makes it facility and equipment available to golf instructors, who conduct lessons and give fittings to their students. Golfers can use the facility with no membership fees.

Among the (many) features available to golfers are:

  • 8 golf course simulator bays featuring proprietary launch monitor data, teeing systems and 57 premier golf courses from around the world including Pebble Beach Golf Links and St. Andrew's Old Course.
  • 8 high-tech instruction/practice bays (one ambidextrous) equipped with high speed color cameras, launch monitor and performance data, balance and weight transfer analysis, and computer-controlled teeing and ball-return system.
  • Fully equipped workshop for professional club building and repair.
  • 3,500-square-foot retail golf shop offering pro-line equipment, soft goods and golf course simulator-equipped club trial bay.
  • Two 7.5-foot x 10-foot TV screens overlooking a large and open atrium area.
  • Free WiFi Internet access throughout the building.
  • Food and beverage service with 50-person dining deck and additional seating at each bay.
  • 1,800-square-foot professional-grade putting green also equipped for video analysis and instruction.

Sounds fancy.

(Any readers who check it out, post your impressions in comments or drop me a line.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Onion Creek Club Sold

The historic Onion Creek Club in Austin has been sold. The new owners are a group of locals who also own River Place Country Club on the northwest side of town, a property they purchased in 2003.

Onion Creek includes 18 holes designed by Texas golf legend Jimmy Demaret, and another nine more recently added by Ben Crenshaw. The picturesque course, known for having some of the prettiest holes in the state, was the first host course of the Legends of Golf, the tournament that gave rise to the Seniors Tour (now Champions Tour).

The press release about the sale is available here.

Golfest Dallas This Weekend

Golfest Dallas, presented by Golfweek magazine, takes place at Hank Haney's City Pointe facility this weekend. If you're anywhere in the DFW area and enjoy demo days and free clinics, it's probably worth checking out.

The Re/Max Texas Shoot Out long drive competition will be going on during the "festival," and the Long Drivers Association of America will be putting on events for attendees throughout. Suzy Whaley will be offering free clinics and trick-shot artist Peter Johncke will be performing.

Then there's all the equipment that golfers will be able to test-drive. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the gate (16 and under get in free). See www.golfest.com.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hollywood Henderson and John Daly Walk Into A Rehab Center ...

Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn't it?

John Daly has a new book coming out next week. It's called "My Life In and Out of the Rough: The Truth Behind All that Bull**** You Think You Know About Me."

But when it comes to Daly, you really don't need BS because the truth is so strange. Or pathetic, as the case may be.

In the book, Daly says that he has lost around $50 million to $60 million gambling during the course of his career.

What does former Dallas Cowboy Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson have to do with this? In the book, the Associated Press article about it relates:


(Daly) recalled former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson telling him at a Tucson, Ariz., rehab center in 1993 that Daly would find something he loves as much as drinking, and that he would have to be careful.

"The people around me ... were hoping, of course, that the 'something' would be practicing golf. No such luck," Daly wrote. "What I found was gambling."


That's how bad it's been for Daly: When Hollywood Henderson is the one making sense, and you reject that good advice and continue the spiral into addiction.

(Actually, Henderson turned his own life around and has been doing good work for a while now - at least according to the most recent news about him I've heard.)

I've never been a Daly fan and don't get the adoration so many fans seem to have for him. He's mostly wasted his talent, except to use it to feed his addictions (and his wives and children). That's why I don't understand why some are campaigning for Daly to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Think about it: What's one way for a professional athlete to win back millions of dollars lost at gambling tables? Bet against yourself - or your team - and then make sure you don't win. I don't believe for a minute that Daly has done that, or would ever do that. And because golf isn't a head-to-head competition (except in instances such as the Ryder Cup) but is one player-against-the-field, winning money by betting against oneself would be hard to do. But you get the point: If you're the commissioner of a sport and find out that one of your players has lost upwards of $50 million gambling, you'd have to be, to put it mildly, concerned.