Thursday, June 29, 2006

Take Your Daughter to the Course Week

As part of the Play Golf America campaign to draw new golfers into the game, the PGA of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association team up for Take Your Daughter to the Course Week.

take your daughter to the course week Take Your Daughter to the Course Week is, this year, the week of July 10-16. It's the seventh year of the program that is, as its name indicates, designed to introduce golf to more young girls by encouraging their fathers and/or mothers to bring them along for a round of golf or an outing at the driving range.

Many of the courses taking part in the promotion offer clinics for young girls during the week; all of them offer some sort of deal. It might be that girls play free when accompanied by a parent; or there might be some overall discount.

It's a worthwhile program, one that wouldn't seem to have any drawbacks for golf courses. One wonders, then, why only 28 golf courses in Texas have, as of this writing, signed up to take part in Take Your Daughter to the Course Week.

Twenty-eight? There are somewhere around 1,000 golf courses and practice facilities in this state, and only 28 have so far registered? That's pathetic.

But it's apparently a national trend. So far, only 700-something courses across the U.S. are taking part in Take Your Daughter to the Course Week. Again, pathetic.

You can see which courses in Texas are taking part by visiting this page on the Play Golf America Web site.

If your home course is not yet registered to take part in the program - and chances are it isn't, given that only 28 Texas course have signed up so far - then call the GM, Director of Golf, or head pro, and tell them to get off their duffs and help encourage more young girls to play golf.

Second-Chance Qualifying for Texas State Open

The Texas State Open tees off in Tyler at The Cascades for four days of play beginning July 11. And while most of the qualifiers for the prestigious event are over and done, there is still one more chance - a second chance for some - to get in.

Second-chance qualifying for the TSO is scheduled for Thursday, July 6, also at The Cascades. If you tried to qualify in an earlier play-in and didn't make it, or if you missed an entry deadline for an earlier qualifier, or if this is the first you're hearing about it, you've got another shot.

The second-chance qualifier is open to any golfer, whether residing in Texas or not, who has a handicap index of 5.0 or less. Sixteen spots will be available in the TSO field through this qualifier.

Online entry forms, and more info, are available at the NTPGA Web site. Entry deadline is Monday, July 3.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Deerwood Duo Wins Pro-Assistant Title

Carl Baker and Chip Craig of the Deerwood Club in Kingwood combined for a 36-hole score of 64-67—131 to win the 2006 Titleist/Cobra/FootJoy Texas Pro-Assistant Championship, presented by Sky Golf and Bobby Chan (think they've got enough sponsors?), at Barton Creek Country Club in Austin.

Baker and Craig won the tournament, a two-man best ball event featuring competition between teams of golf professionals from the Southern Texas PGA, the Northern Texas PGA and the Sun Country PGA, by a single stroke over Kyle O’Brien and Ken Fothergill of River Place Country Cub in Austin.

The winners took home $2,350 each for their victory, while the runners-up earned $1,850 each.

The full results are available here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Renovations Under Way at Crenshaw Cliffside

Austin American-Statesman golf writer Kevin Robbins writes on his Backspin blog that Barton Creek's Crenshaw Cliffside course is undergoing renovations:

The upper five inches of soil under the greens is being replaced, the resort reports. When finished, the surfaces will be covered with Champion bermudagrass, the same grass on the Palmer Lakeside and Fazio Canyons courses.

Some of the bunkers are being returned to their original form, as Ben Crenshaw and design partner Bill Coore sculpted them.

Two new back tees will be built, stretching the par-4 seventh hole to 375 yards and the par-4 14th — one of the best risk/reward holes in Travis County — to 323 yards.

The new projected yardage will be 6,650 yards.

That yardage is increased over the current 6,553 yards, with the red and middle tees also gaining some additional yardage.

Kevin says the work is expected to be completed sometime in September.

See the Crenshaw Cliffside homepage.

Monday, June 26, 2006

U.S. Women's Open - Texan Tee Times

The U.S. Women's Open begins Thursday at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island, a links course that offers a different look from most U.S. Open courses. Here are the pairings for the first and second rounds that include Texas golfers (times have been converted from EDT to CDT) :

Hole 1 Thursday/Hole 10 Friday
6:00 a.m. Thursday/11:30 a.m. Friday - Wendy Ward, San Antonio; a-Jane Park, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Virada Nirapathpongporn, Thailand

6:22 a.m. Thursday/11:52 a.m. Friday - Cristina Baena, Colombia; a-Ashley Knoll, The Woodlands; Amy Hung, Chinese Taipei

6:55 a.m. Thursday/12:25 p.m. Friday - Brittany Lang, McKinney; Suzann Pettersen, Norway; Michelle Wie, Honolulu, HI

7:28 a.m. Thursday/12:58 p.m. Friday - Maria Hjorth, Sweden; Jimin Kang, Korea; a-Taylor Leon, Dallas

7:39 a.m. Thursday/1:09 p.m. Friday - Laree Sugg, Pinehurst, NC; Kristal Parker-Manzo, Cable, OH; Cindy Currier, Austin

12:03 p.m. Thursday; 6:33 a.m. Friday - Angela Stanford, Saginaw; Young Kim, Korea;
Liselotte Neumann, Sweden

1:31 p.m. Thursday/8:01 a.m. Friday - Randi Gauthier, Sugar Land; a-Ayaka Kaneko, Honolulu, HI; Kristina Tucker, Sweden

Hole 10 Thursday/Hole 1 Friday
6:55 a.m. Thursday/12:25 p.m. Friday - Karen Stupples, England; Heather Bowie Young, Fort Worth; Aree Song, Korea

12:58 p.m. Thursday/7:28 a.m. Friday - Soo-Yun Kang, Korea; Jamie Hullett, Mesquite; Laura Davies, England

1:42 p.m. Thursday/8:12 a.m. Friday - Michelle Murphy, Milwaukie, OR; a-Lauren Espinosa, Hickory Creek; Denise Munzlinger, Columbia, MO

So, does anything stand out here? Well, Brittany Lang is paired with Michelle Wie - which could be good or bad for Lang. Everyone paired with Wie wants to beat her, and Brittany will likely outdrive Wie on many holes. But will she get caught up in trying to do just that, to the detriment of her swing? Lang comes into the Open off a strong showing at the Wegman's, but I suspect her driver is a little too wild at this point in her career for her to contend on a links course lined with tall, thick fescue.

Keep an eye on the amateurs Ashley Knoll (Texas A&M) and Taylor Leon (University of Georgia). Both are college golf stars. Neither has a realistic chance of winning, but making the cut is a possibility for each. And one of them might sneak into the Top 25. Leon, in particular, will - mark ol' Bogey's words - be a star on the LPGA Tour in about five years.

But the Texan with the best shot at winning is Wendy Ward. She hits greens and she comes into the tournament playing well. Her putter isn't great, but she's streaky, and if she gets on a good streak she can finish high.

Full pairings are available here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

New Braunfels' Williams Wins Texas Publinx

Congratulations to 19-year-old Nick Williams of New Braufels for winning the 2006 Texas State Public Links Championship, complete Sunday at Pecan Valley Golf Club in San Antonio. Williams, at sophomore at Texas Tech, defeated Keedae Lee of Dallas in the championship match, 3 and 1.

Here is the report from the Texas Golf Association:

San Antonio, TX: Nick Williams turned a close match in his favor during the middle of the round with back to back birdies on holes #8 and #9, then got some help from his opponent -Keedae Lee - to post a 3 & 1 victory in the championship match of the TGA State Public Links at Pecan Valley Golf Club. With the match all square through seven holes Williams made a tricky 12 foot downhill putt on #8. Lee then missed his eight footer to give Williams a one-up lead. Williams sank a 20 foot birdie putt at #9 to take a two up lead at the turn, and that lead was never really threatened on the back nine.

“I didn’t want any match to get to #18,” said Williams, a 19 year old sophomore to
be at Texas Tech. “I told my dad (who was his caddy) that if I could get four up on the back I could play smart and not have to worry.” He did just that as he won his matches 3 & 2, 3 & 1, 4 & 3, then 3 & 1 in the finals.

Lee, who had been wielding a hot putter through his first three matches, suddenly lost his touch on the greens. He had back to back three putt bogies on #11 and #12, giving Williams that four up lead through 12 holes. Things got a little interesting when Williams went for the green in two on the par five 13th and hit his approach shot out of bounds. He conceded the hole, then missed a short par putt on #14 and was only two up. After halving holes #15 and #16, Williams stuck his approach on #17 to within three feet to close out the match.

Lee is a native of South Korea who moved to Texas five years ago at the urging of one of his golf instructors. He settled in Dallas area and played for Paris Junior College. He plans to attend Southwest Oklahoma State in the fall. He had battled #2 seed Corey Roberson for 19 holes in the semi-finals Sunday morning, and said he was a little bit tired.

Six rounds of golf in four days can lead to some fatigue, but Williams still had plenty of energy. He said the short putt he missed on #14 was the only key putt he had missed all week. “I’m not known for my short game, but that was the key this week,” Williams said. “I made a lot of important putts when I had to.”

A bracket with full results from the match play portion of the tournament is available here.

Women's West Texas Golf Association Championship

The Women's West Texas Golf Association Championship, the most prestigious regional women's tournament in this part of the state, wrapped up Saturday at Midland Country Club.

Defending champion Marian Barker of Lubbock defeated Midland Lee graduate and Texas Tech sophomore Tracy Stanford in the finals, 4 and 3. It is the record-setting sixth WWTGA championship title for Barker, who has played in the finals 11 times since 1983.

It was the first appearance in the championship match for Stanford, who earned her way into the finals: she beat two-time champ Denise Flores in the quarterfinals and 9-time Midland city champion Lisa Beck in the semifinals.

Barker rolled in a 35-foot eagle putt on the par-5 12th hole that gave her control of the match, and closed it out with a birdie on No. 15, the Odessa American reported.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hill Earns Medalist Honors at State Publinx

Alan Hill of Spring Branch, playing on his "home course" at San Antonio's Pecan Valley Golf Club, is the medalist at the Texas Golf Association's 2006 Texas State Public Links Championship. Rounds of 68 and 69 put Hill, the 2003 TGA Player of the Year, five strokes clear of runner-up Corey Roberson of Van, and gives him the No. 1 seed entering match play.

“I have been hitting the ball good,” Hill said. “I haven’t been putting very good so it was nice to be on my home course and have a little confidence on the greens.”

Sixteen golfers qualified for match play, which began Saturday morning. The eventual champion will play four matches in two days, 36 holes each Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Creekmore is Texas Women's Open Champ

Amateur Carolyn Creekmore of Dallas is the winner of the 2006 Texas Women's Open, played at Eastern Hills Country Club in Garland.

Creekmore's two-day total of 140 (69-71) bested the field of 87 professionals and amateurs for her first victory in the event. A birdie on the penultimate hole gave Creekmore a 2-stroke lead heading to the final hole, and a short bogey putt secured the win.

Creekmore is a highly accomplished player, having previously won the USGA Senior Women's Amateur in 2004.

Professionals Adrienne Gatreaux of Mabank and Suzanne Fisher of Broken Arrow, Okla., were runners-up at 141.

Full results are available here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bryan Muni Might Be in Danger

Texas A&M Health Science Center: "We're looking for a place to build our new, expanded campus, and one of the sites we're considering is the Bryan Municipal Golf Course, which would be a gift from the city of Bryan."

City of Bryan: "Um ... what?"

And that's what's happening in Bryan these days. The Texas A&M Health Science Center is looking for land on which to expand, and the center president said a few days ago the golf course is a possibility. If the center does build on the golf course, the president said, it would be the result of the City of Bryan handing its golf course over to the center. Only the Bryan mayor says he knows nothing about it, and that the city has never talked about giving away (or selling) the golf course.

Somewhere in there, there's an Aggie joke ...

However, the president of the Bryan Business Council says he's in favor of handing over the golf course. From the Bryan-College Station Eagle:

Mitch Morehead, president of the Bryan Business Council, said the city has "everything" to gain by recruiting the center to a Bryan location.

"I've always thought [the golf course] property has higher and better use to serve the community," he said. "We're excited that this site is one they're considering. If you look at anchoring our business corridor with the Texas A&M Health Science Center, the redevelopment potential in that area is tremendous, all the way into downtown Bryan. It's just a tremendous opportunity."

Morehead said he would like to see the City Council consider giving the land away.

"I believe it would be such a unique opportunity that I would support [it]," he said ...
Even if Bryan winds up giving away its golf course, that doesn't necessarily mean the city would no longer have a municipal course. Morehead said there are options for building a new course, perhaps alongside Lake Bryan.

The article in the Bryan paper goes on to note:

The City Council decided in February it would withdraw plans for a $60,000 feasibility study to determine the best use of the land on which the golf course sits. Instead the council approved a plan to upgrade the course. Needed renovations over time could amount to $4 million. About $165,000 has been authorized for golf course architect Tripp Davis and Associates to develop a plan to renovate the course. Necessary improvements include upgrades to the irrigation and drainage systems and a reworking of tee boxes, greens and fairways.

... The renovations, however, are on hold pending the outcome of the health science center site selection.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hot Off the Wires

Catching up with a few stories that have come across the news wires lately:

• Construction of Concan Golf and Country Club at Mountain Valley is well under way in the Hill Country near Garner State Park. The 18-hole layout was designed by the Austin team of Randy Russell and Roy Bechtol. Construction should be finished soon, with grand opening currently expected to take place in the fall of this year. The course is being built around 98 home lots and the development is planned to include a spa and a 4,000-square-foot clubhouse. "Spa casitas" will be available for spa and golf vacations. A map of the course and scorecard can be seen here.

Golf Inc. magazine has named Brian Dees, director of golf at Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, one of golf's "20 Most Admired Operators" for 2006.

• The Dominion Country Club in San Antonio, the former longtime home of the Champions Tour event now called the AT&T Championship, has been sold to a group of Austin investors.

• And here's a look at the First Tee in Longview, where the organization reaches out to kids through programs such as golf classes in elementary schools.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Become a Co-Owner of Golfsmith

Golfsmith, of course, is the mega-pro shop that started and is headquartered in Austin. Now, we can all become co-owners of the company.

Last week, Golfsmith had its initial public offering of stock as a publicly traded company. The stock is listed on the NASDAQ exchange and trades under the GOLF symbol.

The IPO generated sales of six million shares with the price on the first day closing at $11.50. The sale generated more than $61 million for the company, which was actually below the company's goal. Golfsmith had hoped to sell out at $14 to $16 a share, generating around $100 million.

Golfsmith has more than 50 stores with plans for another 25 or so to open in the next two years.

At the time of this writing, the Golfsmith stock has fallen to $10.68 a share.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Nicklaus and Pecan Valley

There's an interesting side note to Tiger Woods' missing of the cut at the U.S. Open. Woods had made 39 consecutive cuts in majors since his last one missed (1996 Masters), and that streak is a record.

It's a record he shares with Jack Nicklaus - and doesn't it seem appropriate that those two share a record? Nicklaus' streak of 39 cuts made in majors ran from 1969 to 1978. And here's the side note: Nicklaus' streak began after he missed the cut in the 1968 PGA Championship, played at Pecan Valley in San Antonio. (This nugget courtesy of Oliver's Twist.)

Visitors to Pecan Valley today will find photos on the walls taken during that '68 PGA (and during some of the other high-profile events the course has hosted over the years). There's an urban legend involving Nicklaus and Pecan Valley, however.

I've heard this legend told many times, including many times before I ever played Pecan Valley. It goes like this: "Jack Nicklaus missed the cut at the 1968 PGA Championship at Pecan Valley," the tale begins,"and he vowed never to play in Texas again ... and he never did."

The first part (missing the cut) is true. The status of the middle part (vowing never to play in Texas again) is undetermined, although it doesn't sound like something Nicklaus would say). The third part ("and he never did") is most definitely untrue - Nicklaus played in the Colonial and Byron Nelson numerous times after 1968. Nicklaus won the Nelson in 1970 and '71, and won Colonial in 1982.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Latest Boot Ranch Issue: Water Woes

Boot Ranch, Hal Sutton's high-end golf course development near Fredericksburg, has had troubles throughout its relatively brief existence. Funding issues, sales issues, permitting issues. All complicated by the fact that a major investor in the project is the State of Louisiana's police pension fund, and the fund managers have gotten concerned about progress.

The latest? Water woes, which is not a surprise at all for any golf course being built where this one is being built.

The Associated Press reported recently:

A luxury golf resort, envisioned by Shreveport golfer Hal Sutton and backed by millions of dollars from a Louisiana police pension fund, has a new foe: the Texans who live around it.

A judge, county officials, ranchers and others are fighting Sutton's Boot Ranch because they fear Palo Alto Creek will go dry keeping its lush greens watered. They're also calling for a state investigation into an allegedly illegal water reservoir on the property.

Boot Ranch wants permission to pump as much as 2,550 gallons of water per minute from Palo Alto Creek -- up from the current 88 gallons of water per minute. The creek is the only water source for many adjoining pastures and the livestock that graze there.

Carter Schildknecht, a district judge in Texas, said they want the project to succeed, but not at the creek's expense. Last week, she and nearly 125 others showed up for a hearing in Fredericksburg, Texas, near where the resort is being built, to urge Texas environmental regulators to nix the project's water permit request and investigate the reservoir.

Doesn't it seem pretty risky to built a golf course development in an area where the primary source of water is a creek? Not even a river or a stream, but a creek. And requesting an upgrade from 88 gallons of water per minute to 2,550 ... someone correct my math if I'm wrong, but I believe that's a requested increase of 2,900 percent.

Maybe the developers should have considered the water situation before they moved in ... nah, why would they do that? Texas laws are written by developers for developers.

For more on Boot Ranch (in order of our posts), see here, here, here and here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Starburst Wraps Up In Waco

The Starburst Junior Golf Classic, the annual behemoth junior event played over three days and seven golf courses in Waco, wrapped up on Wednesday. More than 1,000 kids from around the country took part this year, the largest field in the tournament's history.

The tournament features play in nine age divisions for both boys and girls, plus championship divisions for each. Below are the winners for each age division, plus the top three for the championship divisions. The full results are available here.

Championship Divisions
1. Key Young, Coppell, 213
2. (tie) Cabe Prieskom, Texarkana, 216
2. (tie) Michael Carnes, New Braunfels, 216
2. (tie) Ben Pounds, Austin, 216

1. Allyson Ferguson, Houston, 228
2. Kristen Hendrix, Houston, 230
3. Kirsten Spittler, Austin, 231

Boys Age Divisions
17: Kelly Kraft, 214 (Kelly's hometown is not listed in the official results)
16: Taylor Dio, Friendswood, 218
15: Conner Ribble, Texarkana, 223
14: Brax McCarthy, Fort Worth, 215
13: Jake Truss, Gatesville, 226
12: Jordan Spieth, Dallas, 200
11: David Lee, Houston, 225
9-10: Scott Scheffler, Dallas, 116
7-8: Bernardo Curbelo, Baco Raton, Fla., 107

Girls Age Divisions
17: Lacy McKinley, Huntsville, 225
16: Haley Millsap, Pace, Fla., 228
15: Kelsey Kirkpatrick, Golden, 233
14: Brittany Smith, Petrolia, 219
13: Christina Stringham, Pasadena, 214
12: Christine Lin, Austin, 248
11: Taylor Ramsey, Augusta, Ga., 228
9-10: Ashlan Ramsey, Augusta, Ga., 113
7-8: Monica Delgado Ayala, Monterrey, Mexico, 132

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy 90th, J.R.

With a hat tip to the Local Golf Insider column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, let's join in wishing a happy 90th birthday to Benbrook resident J.R. Taylor.

Taylor, the Star-Telegram reports,

... began caddying at Worth Hills Golf Course, which is now part of the TCU campus. He also caddied at Glen Garden Golf & Country Club with future golf legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.

Often, Taylor carried two bags at a time make extra money. Occasionally, the golfers he was caddying for would let Taylor hit their shots when nobody was looking.

By the time he was 12, Taylor owned two Model-T Fords and some cows. Later, he became an assistant golf pro at Worth Hills. Then, he got the head pro job and was the first head pro at Pecan Valley Golf Course.

Taylor first shot his age when he was 64, and continues beating his age regularly today. He retired from the life of a golf pro a while back ... all the way back in 1962. But for years afterward he continued teaching children, free of charge.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

U.S. Women's Open Qualifying

Amateur Taylor Leon (pictured at right), a Dallas native and freshman at the University of Georgia, won the U.S. Women's Open sectional qualifier at TPC at Craig Ranch in McKinney on Monday.

Taylor's 141 total earned her a spot in the field for the U.S. Women's Open, and was two strokes better than runners-up Taylore Karle, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Ashley Knoll of The Woodlands and Texas A&M. Karle and Knoll are also both amateurs.

Two more amateurs, Lauren Espinosa of Hickory Creek and Amanda McCurdy of El Dorado, Ark., along with professional Cindy Currier of Austin, also qualified.

Results of U.S. Women's Open sectional qualifiers are available here.

New Hyatt Resort Course Opens in Bastrop

wolfdancer golf club bastrop

I've always thought of Bastrop as one of the best small-town golf destinations in Texas. The city boasts two great courses - Colovista and Pine Forest - and another pretty good (and cheap) one, Lost Pines inside Bastrop State Park.

Now there's a new course in town, and it's a doozie: The Wolfdancer Golf Club is part of the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, the newest Hyatt resort in the country.

The resort complex officially opened on June 1. The hotel includes 492 rooms. It's located 13 miles south of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the property adjoins the McKinney Roughs Nature Park and boasts one mile of Colorado River frontage.

wolfdancer golf club bastropThe 18-hole Wolfdancer Golf Club was designed by noted architect Arthur Hills. The par-72 track tips out at 7,205 yards and, according to Hyatt's description, "its holes traverse three distinct ecosystems: rolling prairie land, a heavily wooded ridgeline and a river valley dotted with native pecan trees."

More information about the course is available here, including the scorecard and a hole-by-hole description (the latter two are .pdf files).

Dan Raley, a member of the Austin Golf Association, recently played Wolfdancer Golf Club and his comments are posted on the AGA site:

It's a nice layout with the first 12 holes in hills through woods, the last holes along the river bottom (last holes reminded me of Pecan Valley in San Antonio). The fairways are reasonably wide, but when you leave the fairways the second cut is very deep and balls are hard to find and harder to hit. If you hit beyond the second cut, you are in deeper trouble - trees, creeks, rocks - all typical for a new course. The prices are very high for this area - $165 for walk-on, $89 after 3 p.m. In addition, forecaddies are required - one per group. This can make for an expensive round. This resort is designed as a destination resort, not really pursuing daily green fee folks. Beers are $5 and sandwiches are $9.

Sounds like the course is best suited for those golfers who can afford a golf getaway, as opposed to an individual or group of golfers looking for a local place to get in 18. But it also sounds like a course worth splurging on at least once.

Keep in mind Dan's warning about forecaddies. Forecaddies, rare in Texas, are assigned one per group and have the job of keeping track of each player's shots, providing general advice, etc. They do not carry anyone's bag, but work to keep the round moving at a quick pace. They also are tipped at a steep rate, so keep this in mind.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Texas Golf Organizations Directory

At the behest of the folks who run the All Info About Texas Travel Web site, I've put together a directory of Texas golf organizations that now appears on that site. The directory is by no means complete, although I did manage to find about 60 organizations.

These groups range from the biggies - the Texas Golf Association, NTPGA and STPGA - down to local chapters of the First Tee and the Executive Women's Golf Association. There are surely many, many more out there, however.

So if you know of a Texas golf organization that is not on the list, please submit it to the Texas Travel site using this contact form; post it in comments below; or send me an email.

Is Lajitas Resort in Trouble?

The Lajitas Resort in deep West Texas - site of The Ambush golf course that features an extra hole whose tee shot is across the Rio Grande into Mexico - is the subject of a lengthy article in the San Antonio Express-News today.

While officials at the ultra-upscale resort - the brainchild of Austin's very wealthy Steve Smith - say things are going just fine, the report uncovered signs of possible financial trouble. For example, the resort has been late with tax payments. Room rates have never been above 50-percent occupancy and are down 10-percent in 2006.

The article reports:

Recent signs, however, suggest Lajitas is still struggling. While the resort claims 100 members and 50 corporate clients, it has never broken even and annual room occupancy hovers around 50 percent.

Figures filed with the state comptroller's office show that hotel room receipts for the past four quarters, totaling about $1.8 million, are down 10 percent from a year before.

And although real estate was supposed to drive the project, lot sales have been slow
and only five private homes have been built on the surrounding 25,000 acres of desert owned by Smith.

Various expensive resort projects have been on hold, including a 35,000-square-foot golf clubhouse and spa complex, and a controversial highway bypass.

Smith, who made his fortune with Excel Communications, declined to be interviewed.

Lately, even he has shown signs of financial strain. Since 2005, Smith has twice been sued over large sums of money allegedly owed. His lawyers are wrangling with the Internal Revenue Service over $140 million in contested tax shelters.

And in Brewster County, for a second year in a row, the resort's local tax bill was late. Finally last week, with the collection lawyers about to be turned loose, the
resort got some good financial news and the $295,000 tax bill was paid.

We've written before about The Ambush at Lajitas. The course designers - the Austin-based duo of Randy Russell and Roy Bechtol - wanted to build a desert-style course. After all, the course is in the desert. But Smith wanted a parkland-style course, a shimmering green oasis.

So a parkland course is what the designers created. But last year, The Ambush's total area of greenery was cut back with a re-design that brought more elements of a desert course into play.

In the Express-News article, there is this nugget:

... Smith has almost completely remade the place, modernizing the trading post, adding a 7,500-foot jet runway and a huge equestrian center and creating a golf course that once consumed about a million gallons of water a day.

In South Brewster County, long an outpost of eccentricity and self-reliance where the per capita income is just over $15,000 and some people still catch rainwater, Smith's extravagance has offended some locals.

Emphasis added above. See the full article. It's an interesting read, and is much more balanced than the excerpts we're posted indicate. I came away from the article thinking that the resort is not on the verge of bankruptcy, but is certainly not doing as well as its creators had hoped.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Georgia Tech Recruit Haley Wins Texas State Amateur

Recent high school graduate Paul Haley, who will be playing on the Georgia Tech golf team next year, won the Texas State Amateur with a birdie on the final hole Sunday. Here is the report from the Texas Golf Association:

Dallas, TX: Paul Haley just graduated from Highland Park High School less than a month ago, and is looking forward to continuing his golf career at Georgia Tech in the fall. Now he’ll be able to add 2006 Texas Amateur Champion to his playing resume in the Tech media guide.

On Sunday afternoon at Dallas Country Club he won what he said was “definitely the biggest, most exciting, most important” tournament of his life. Trailing Terrence Miskell by one shot going to the final hole, Haley calmly rolled in a tricky 20 foot birdie putt to win the 2006 Texas State Amateur. Miskell ended up making a double bogey six on the final hole to finish tied for second with Cody Gribble, who shot the low final round with a five under par 65.

The final round provided plenty of excitement for the hundreds in the gallery cheering on many local favorites, most of them high school and college players. It looked like Haley was going to run away with it after making birdie on three of the first five holes to maintain the four shot lead he had started the day with. Haley ran into some trouble during the middle of the round, right at the same time Robby Ormand and Miskell were making a charge. 15 year old Cody Gribble found a hot putter on the back side, and all of a sudden any of the three had a shot at the title.

“I learned a lot about myself today” Haley said while clutching the H.L. Edwards Trophy awarded to the winner of the Texas Amateur. “I learned that you never give up. No matter what happens or how far behind you are, you never give up.” After making bogey on holes #8 and #9 and a double bogey on #10, Haley’s four shot lead had become a two shot deficit when Miskell made eagle three on the par five 11th hole. A birdie on #13 got him to within one, and then he and Miskell matched birdies on #14 and #15 to set up the dramatic finish.

“You always want to win, but this is what it is all about” Miskell said. “Win or losem being there with a chance to win and competing is a lot of fun, a lot of fun.” At 39 Miskell had several years of experience on most of the contenders. As noted, Haley is a recent high school graduate, Gribble was the youngest player in the field at 15, and Ormond, and Robert Gwin (fifth place) are in college.

See also: Final Results

Texan Tee Times at the U.S. Open

The U.S. Open pairings and tee times are out. Here are the groups that include Texas golfers (times are Eastern):

Thursday (June 15), Hole No. 1; Friday (June 16), Hole No. 10
7:11 a.m. - 12:41 p.m. - John Rollins, Irving, Texas; Mathew Goggin, Australia; Steve Lowery, Birmingham, Ala.
7:44 a.m. - 1:14 p.m. - Jim Furyk, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; Adam Scott, Australia; Chad Campbell, Lewisville, Texas
8:17 a.m. - 1:47 p.m. - Davis Love III, Sea Island, Ga.; Justin Leonard, Dallas, Texas; Nick Price, Hobe Sound, Fla.

Thursday (June 15), Hole No. 10; Friday (June 16), Hole No. 1
7:22 a.m. - 12:52 p.m. - Brandt Jobe, Westlake, Texas; Keiichiro Fukabori, Japan; Richard Green, Australia
8:06 a.m. - 1:36p.m. - Rory Sabbatini, South Africa; Paul McGinley, Ireland; Rich Beem, Austin, Texas

Thursday (June 15), Hole No. 1; Friday (June 16), Hole No. 10
12:30 p.m. - 7:00 a.m. - Steve Stricker, Madison, Wis.; Oliver Wilson, England; Tommy Armour III, Las Colinas, Texas
12:52 p.m. - 7:22 a.m. - Ben Crane, Beaverton, Ore.; Mark Calcavecchia, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Mark Brooks, Fort Worth, Texas
2:31 p.m. – 9:01 a.m. - Tag Ridings, Southlake, Texas; Nathan Green, Australia; Greg Kraft, Belleair, Fla.

Thursday (June 15), Hole No. 10; Friday (June 16), Hole No. 1
12:41 p.m. - 7:11 a.m. - Brett Quigley, Barrington, R.I.; Tadahiro Takayama, Japan; Bob Estes, Austin, Texas
1:03 p.m. - 7:33 a.m. - Corey Pavin, Plano, Texas; Fred Funk, Ponte Vedra, Fla.; Allen Doyle, La Grange, Ga.
1:25 p.m. – 7:55 a.m. - Lee Janzen, Orlando, Fla.; Todd Hamilton, Westlake, Texas; Steve Jones, Chandler, Ariz.
2:20 p.m. - 8:50 a.m. - A-Ryan Posey, Dallas, Texas; Stephen Gangluff, Marysville, Ohio; Jason Allred, Scottsdale, Ariz.
2:42 p.m. - 9:12 a.m. - Andy Bare, Jacksonville, Fla.; Dustin White, Pueblo West, Colo.; A-Ryan Baca, Richmond, Texas

Of course, some of these "Texans" aren't real Texans, but Texans-come-lately. But this is how they are listed in the official USGA pairings.

You can view the full pairings here.

U.S. Women's Open Section in McKinney Monday

TPC at Craig Ranch in McKinney is the site on Monday of a sectional qualifier for the U.S. Women's Open. Unlike the sectionals for the men's U.S. Open, the women's sectionals don't generally including lots of established tour players. But among the 33 players vying for six spots into the U.S. Women's Open, there are some good storylines.

If you're in McKinney on Monday, hop over to the course and follow along (courtesy of the USGA):

  • Carolyn Creekmore of Dallas, Texas, won the 2004 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur and qualified for match play at the 2005 Women’s Amateur.
  • Sisters Jennifer (22) and Kate (19) Ackerson of Dallas, Texas, are both trying to qualify in McKinney. Jennifer played in the 2004 Women’s Open.
  • Kristin Dufour is celebrating her 26th birthday on the day of her sectional qualifier.
  • Taylore Karle, 16, of Scottsdale, Ariz., set a USGA stroke-play qualifying record when she shot a 36-hole total 130 at the 2005 U.S. Girls’ Junior at BanBury Golf Club in Eagle, Idaho.
  • Amanda McCurdy of El Dorado, Ark., was the runner-up at the 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
  • Tanya Wadhwa, 13, of India, is the second-youngest player to qualify for sectionals.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Judy Rankin Battling Breast Cancer

Midland resident Judy Rankin, a Hall of Famer as a player, perhaps the most underrated broadcaster on golf television, and an all-around good person, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Rankin has missed the past few tournaments she was scheduled to broadcast, undergoing two surgeries during that time period.

Said Rankin:

"I have cancer, I'm just having to deal with it," Rankin told "I don't at this point know what my timetable will be for the rest of the year in terms of work. I need a week to 10 days to figure that out.

"It is what they term a low grade of cancer. I have already done the testing, and now I have to take steps to get rid of it. I am told that I will be fine," she said.

Best wishes to Judy for a speedy recovery.

Nike Loves Fort Worth Hackers

Here's an interesting article from Bloomberg News Service about Nike Golf's mulitmillion-dollar Fort Worth testing center and its proximity to a $4.50-a-bucket driving range next door:

Brad Pope, a 44-year-old homebuilder, takes one dirt-digging swing after another at the Leonard Golf Links in Fort Worth, Texas.

Less than 50 yards away, U.S. PGA Tour players Justin Leonard and Chris Couch launch Nike Inc.'s latest golf balls into the humid Texas air at a $10 million research-and-design center. Tiger Woods, the world's No. 1-ranked player, stops by some days.

The proximity of Nike designers to a $4.50-a-bucket public driving range is no accident. Seven years after debuting as a golf-ball manufacturer, the world's largest athletic-shoe maker wants to be close to average players.

"Being connected to golfers that sweat a lot -- and they do sweat a lot in Texas -- is
a good way to stay connected to what we're trying to do with our equipment,'' says Tom Stites, Nike's lead club designer.

The article goes into details about Nike's growth in the golf market, and the growth of its Fort Worth production facilities. Some golfers hitting balls at the driving range have been summoned into the Nike Golf facility to try unreleased equipments. Others, even regulars at the range, aren't even aware Nike is right next door:

Wade Warren, a 19-year-old junior college student from Weatherford, Texas, who practices at the driving range about four times a week, has been in the Nike facility several times.

"It's pretty cool,'' Warren says in an interview. "They'll walk over here and just pick a few people out and tell them to come over and hit some balls and try out some of their new stuff that isn't out.''

The presence of a Nike research facility so close to divot-producing duffers is a shock to driving-range regulars such as Pope, of Aledo, Texas, who has an 18 handicap and stops by on his lunch break.

"Nike? Really?'' Pope says when told about the occupants of the one-story building next to the range. "I didn't even know they were there.''

Read the full article.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Gossett Still Plugging

david gossettMichelle Wie got all the attention during sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and I followed her attempt with interest, too. But one of her playing partners also caught my attention - David Gossett.

The former University of Texas standout and 1999 U.S. Amateur Champion is still plugging away, trying to find his way out of the wilderness in which he lost his game a couple years ago. Details of Gossett's downfall can be found in my post from last year, "Hey, didn't you used to be David Gossett?"

Golf World editor and columnist Ron Sirak said that, despite not playing well in the sectional where he was partnered with Wie, Gossett has much to teach the teen phenom:

Hopefully Wie was paying attention to one of her playing partners on Monday. David Gossett, a former U.S. Amateur champion whose game went on vacation a few years back and has yet to return, displayed a lot of what it takes to survive on the PGA Tour. He visited parts of the golf course that even Rees Jones never saw when he did his redesign at Canoe Brook, yet time and again he used his putter to save par and sometimes to save bogey. Gossett finished at four-over-par 146, three strokes behind Wie, eight strokes out of the playoff for the final qualifying spot and 15 shots behind medalist Brett Quigley. But trust me, he did not play anywhere near that well.

Gossett has continued to struggle on the pro golf tours in 2006, where he has played three events on the PGA Tour and four on the Nationwide Tour. He failed to make the cut in any of his PGA Tour events, although he did finish at 4-under-par at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

He's made two cuts so far in the Nationwide Tour, finishing 49th and 35th in those two tournaments. For Gossett, that's improvement. In 2005, he posted a score of 23-over in his one PGA Tour appearance. And in eight Nationwide Tour outings, he made just one cut and finished below 10-over-par just twice.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Gotta Be the Shoes: Elkington's WD Due to Spikes

Houston resident and former PGA champion Steve Elkington was scheduled to play in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Lakeside Country Club on Monday. But, as is shown in our post below about qualifying results, Elkington instead withdrew from the qualifier. Why? Because he wasn't willing to change his shoes.

Elkington showed up wearing metal spikes. While metal spikes are allowed on the PGA Tour and are allowed by the USGA in the U.S. Open, the USGA lets host sites set policy for qualifiers. And the policy at Lakeside is softspikes only.

When Elkington was told he couldn't play in metal spikes, he stormed out. The Houston Chronicle reports:

The plot at Lakeside began to thicken about 20 minutes before Elkington's scheduled 8:45 a.m. tee time. Jeff Kuhn, the USGA rules official in charge of the event, noticed Elkington was in breach of the course rule prohibiting long spikes. Kuhn, who has worked in 20 USGA national championship events, said Elkington could not play without changing shoes.

"I said, 'That's BS,' " Elkington said. "At Winged Foot, you're allowed to wear spikes. I said, 'Let me ask you this: You'll allow me to play at Winged Foot in spikes, and your rule doesn't apply here?' He said, 'That's what I'm saying.' "

Kuhn took up the matter with Mike Davis, the USGA senior director of rules and competitions. When Davis upheld Kuhn's decision, Elkington left the grounds. Two college players, Ryan Baca of Baylor and Ryan Posey of Oklahoma State, earned the two Open spots at Lakeside by shooting 6-under-par 136 for 36 holes.

"I hate to say it, but it's just one of those things where a rule is a rule," Davis said. "The worst thing you can do in the rules of golf is deviate from them. Can you imagine if one player out of 750 in these qualifiers were allowed to do that? We would get thrown under the bus — and deservedly so."

Elkington said it's horribly unfair because different qualifying sites might have different policies. But Davis also told the Chronicle that Elkington signed an application on which the local rule was acknowledged, and also that all players taking part at the Lakeside qualifier received a packet of information that included a reminder to abide by Lakeside's softspikes-only policy.

Elkington also said the fact that golfers playing at other qualifying sites where metal spikes were allowed thereby had an unfair advantage over the qualifiers at Lakeside. Our man Steve doesn't reason very well - the players at any other qualifying site were playing against each other, not against the golfers at Lakeside. Nobody at Lakeside was at a disadvantage to anybody else in the field ... except for the one who wasn't smart enough to follow the rules he'd been told about and showed up wearing metal spikes.

Elkington can boo-hoo-hoo all he wants - and he's boo-hoo-hooing a lot, even considering legal action, according to the Chronicle - but the fact is, all 31 other players at the qualifier managed to abide by the rules in place. And it was Elkington who made the choice not to participate - he could have simply changed shoes, after all.

U.S. Open Qualifying Results

Michelle Wie might have been big news in U.S. Open qualifying on Monday, but there dozens of Texas natives or Texas residents trying to get into the national championship, too. Here's a rundown of who made it and who didn't (we're listing only Texans, click on the location of the qualifier to see full results):

Lakeside Country Club, Houston
Ryan Baca, Richmond, 136
Ryan Posey, Dallas, 136
Failed to Qualify
a-Ryan Murphy, Austin, 137
a-Eric Bogar, Houston, 139
Tom Kite, Austin, 139
Anthony Rodriguez, San Antonio, 140
Brian Rowell, Houston, 142
Dawie Van Der Walt, Beaumont, 142
Andrew Dresser, Carrollton, 143
Jordan Hasbrouck, Spring, 144
Joey Zamora, Edinburg, 144
Vince Jewell, Fort Worth, 145
Nathan Camacho, San Antonio, 146
Jonathan Lenz, San Antonio, 146
Charlie Stevens, Fort Worth, 146
Scott Fawcett, Dallas, 147
Addison Awe, Dallas, 148
Brett Callas, Houston, 148
Michael Kullberg, Houston, 148
Henrik Simonsen, Bee Cave, 149
Lonny Alexander, New Braunfels, 151
Weldon Martin, Houston, 151
Steve Elkington, Houston (by way of Australia), WD

Woodmont Country Club, Rockville, Md.
Tommy Armour III, Las Colinas, 135
Failed to Qualify
Roland Thatcher, The Woodlands, 138
Omar Uresti, Austin, 142
Cameron Beckman, San Antonio, WD

Canoe Brook Country Club, Summit, N.J.
Mark Brooks, Fort Worth, 135
J.J.Henry, Fort Worth, 135
Phil Tataurangi, Flower Mound, 137
Failed to Qualify
Greg Chalmers, Irving, 139
Benjamin Dickerson, Plano, 139
J.L. Lewis, Austin, 140
Doug Barron, Plano, 141
J.P. Hayes, El Paso, 141
Tom Byrum, Richmond, 142
Jason Schultz, Dallas, 143
Chris Borgen, The Woodlands, 143
John Senden, Flower Mound, 145
Franklin Hatchett, Dallas, 148
Brad Weesner, Lindale, 149

Brookside Golf & Country Club, Columbus Ohio
Dean Wilson, Plano, 138
Tag Ridings, Southlake, 139
John Rollins, Irving, 139
Failed to Qualify
Jeff Maggert, Houston, 140
Joe Ogilvie, Austin, 140
Wesley Short Jr., Austin, 140
Trip Kuehne, Dallas, 141
Martin Flores, Mansfield, 143
Jim Bob Jackson, Denton, 145
Colt Knost, Dallas, 146
Ryan Palmer, Amarillo, 148

Double Eagles Golf Club, Columbus, Ohio
Failed to Qualify
a-Danny Briggs, Paris, 140
Matt Weibring, Dallas, 145
Ryan Blagg, Mansfield, 153

For the full results from each sectional (there were 15 in all), visit the U.S. Open Web site.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Texas Amateur Tees Off this Week

texas amateur It's a big week in the world of golf. The second women's major of the LPGA season takes place; men's and women's U.S. Open qualifying wraps up; the last PGA Tour tournament before the U.S. Open is on the docket.

There's a big tournament in Texas, too: the Texas Amateur. This is the 97th playing of the Texas Amateur, and it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Texas Golf Association. To commemorate that anniversary, the TGA moved the Texas Amateur back to the site of the very first one, the Dallas Country Club.

This will be the seventh time Dallas Country Club has been the site of the Texas Amateur. It previously hosted the event in 1906, 1912, 1915, 1921, 1949 and 1956.

There have been many big names win the Texas Amateur over the years, including Ben Crenshaw, Bruce Lietzke and Scott Verplank. A complete list of Texas Amateur champions is available here.

The Texas Amateur tees off on Thursday, and four days of stroke play culminate on Sunday. Pairings are available on the Texas Amateur Web site, and results will be posted there as well once play gets under way.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

STPGA Awards 2006 Scholarships

Congratulations to the 15 youths who are splitting $25,000 in scholarships awarded by the Southern Texas PGA. The STPGA announced the recipients on Friday.

“The number of scholarships we have available is a wonderful demonstration of the depth and breadth of the strong community support the STPGA Foundation and its scholarship program receives,” said Steve Termeer, the general manager and director of golf at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin and the chairman of the STPGA Scholarship Committee.

“I want to congratulate each of the scholarship recipients,” said Termeer, “and to express appreciation on behalf of the recipients and the STPGA Foundation to the scholarship representatives and to the STPGA Scholarship Committee for their efforts to provide financial support to deserving students throughout southern Texas.”

The stated goal of the STPGA Foundation is “to encourage and promote the attainment of higher education goals for youth who have demonstrated a high level of achievement during high school or college, have financial need, and have shown an interest in the game of golf.”

An explanation of the founding, naming and purpose of each individual scholarship is available here.

Here are the recipients:

Tommy Aycock Scholarships
• Adam Gwyn, Corpus Christi ($1,000)
• James Pocza, Corpus Christi ($1,000)
• Ryan Miller, Corpus Christi ($1,000)

Nicholas Battle Scholarships
• Hernan Borja, Kingwood ($3,000)
• Patrick Gunter, Bishop ($3,000)
• Elian Messenger, Katy ($3,000)

Joe Finger Scholarship
• Collin Coale, Boerne ($1,000)

George Hannon Scholarships
• Jimmie Jackson, Lago Vista ($2,500)
• Kelsey Thompson, San Marcos ($2,500)

Hardy Loudermilk Scholarship
• Richard O’Neal, Universal City ($1,500)

Todd Menefee Scholarships
• Alex Osmond, La Porte ($1,000)
• Lauren Martty, The Woodlands ($1,000)

Joe Moore Scholarship
• Ryan Vano, Brownsville ($1,000)

Byron Nelson Scholarship
• Sarah Turner, Harper ($1,000)

Warren Smith Scholarship
• Zach Strait, Bandera ($1,500)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Kite, Elkington In Field for U.S. Open Sectional

If you're in Houston on June 5, you might want to head over to Lakeside Country Club and watch the U.S. Open sectional qualifier, one of 14 taking place.

Thirty-two golfers will be competing for two spots into the U.S. Open. Among those are former U.S. Open champion Tom Kite and former PGA champion Steve Elkington. Tjaart Van Der Walt and Kevin Tway (Bob's son) are also in the field.

The full field is available here.

Kite and Elkington aren't the only notable Texas residents taking part in sectional qualifiying on June 5:
  • Tommy Armour III, Omar Uresti and Cameron Beckman are playing in the sectional at Rockville, Md.
  • Former PGA champion Mark Brooks, plus J.L. Lewis, Paul Stankowski, Tom Byrum, Harrison Frazar, J.P. Hayes, and Kris Cox, play in the sectional at Summit, N.J. (along with Michelle Wie).
  • In Columbus, Ohio, Trip Kuehne, Jeff Maggert, Joe Ogilvie, Ryan Palmer, Tag Ridings, John Rollins and Wes Short play. Matt Weibring plays at a second location in Columbus.

Look at those names - these are the golfers who have to go through qualifying - and you'll realize just how tough it is to get into the U.S. Open. Consider that Jeff Maggert won last week and still has to play his sectional.