Monday, July 31, 2006

Aces Up

Lubbock golfer Danny Leake, a 53-year-old insurance agent, played a tournament at The Rawls Course this past weekend. When he started the tournament, he'd never made a hole-in-one. By the time he finished it, he'd made two - and both on the same hole, using the same club.

The hole was No. 6, and the first ace came Saturday using a 5-iron from 174 yards. In the second round on Sunday, again using a 5-iron but from 178 yards, ace No. 2 dropped into the cup on No. 6.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ennis' Clark Wins TGA State Mid-Am Match Play Title

The Texas Golf Association 2006 State Mid Am Match Play Championship wrapped up on Sunday with Alan Clark of Ennis defeating Jeff Leach of Frisco in the championship match. The event was played at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas.

Here is the report from the TGA:

Dallas, TX: Alan Clark of Ennis and Jeff Leach of Frisco were the final two players remaining out of the starting field of 90 at the 2006 State Mid Am Match Play Championship. The two advanced into the finals on Sunday afternoon by handily defeating their opponents in the morning matches. After a brief respite from the heat for lunch, the two players teed it up at high noon and the battle was on!

The fifth hole set the stage for the rest of the match, when Jeff Leach holed a 40-foot putt for a birdie two on the 208-yard Par 3 at Bent Tree Country Club. Clark simply stepped up and then ran a 34-footer right on top of Leach for a halve. The large
following of Bent Tree members and spectators were treated to this brand of spectacular golf all day.

While both players traded jabs for the rest of the front nine, Clark found himself 1-up through 9 holes. Leach three-putted the 11th green, Clark went 2-up, and appeared to be in control. The players halved the 12th, but when Leach hit his tee shot into
the water hazard off the 13th tee on the long Par 5, Clark was looking good.

Feeling it was time to make a move, Leach hit a driver off the fairway and came up just short of the green, then got up and down to save par for a surprising halve. Leach then won the 14th hole to cut the deficit to one. After short siding himself in the left bunker on the 15th hole, Leach was staring at bogey, but instead holed the bunker shot for an improbable birdie. You could feel the momentum shift as the match went to All Square.

The momentum continued to swing Leach's way on the 16th hole with another birdie that put him in the lead for the first time in the match with two holes remaining.

But on the 17th hole, Leach was unable to get up and down from the right side bunker and Clark won the hole with a par to square the match heading into the final hole. Both players reached the green in two on the difficult Par 4 18th hole. Clark was first to play, and stepped up and drained a 30 footer for spectacular birdie
three. Needing to hole his putt to force extra holes, Leach missed is birdie try by just inches.

Semifinal Matches
  • Alan Clark, Ennis (13) def. Steve Trafton, Austin (8), 6 and 5
  • Jeff Leach, Frisco (2) def. Jeff New, The Woodlands, Texas (6), 6 and 4
Championship Match
  • Alan Clark, Ennis (13) def. Jeff Leach, Frisco (2), 1 up

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hardin Wins Women's State Amateur

Former LPGA Tour player Mina Hardin defeated TCU golfer Carrie Morris in the championship match Friday afternoon to win the Women's Texas Golf Association State Amateur Championship.

The event, played at Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler, began on Monday with stroke play qualifying, and continued through Friday with match play matches. The semifinals and finals were contested on Friday.

The victory is the fifth Women's State Amateur title for Hardin, who first won in 1996 on the same golf course. She defeated Morris by a score fo 5-and-4.

More details of the event will eventually be available on the WTGA Web site, although at the time of this writing the group has not yet updated its site with the final results or with a wrapup story.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Golf Is Lousy Exercise ...

... if all you do is ride in a cart and chug beer.

I think we all know that, yes? The Associated Press has an article about the unhealthy habits (and bodies) of most recreational golfers. It caught my eye because the golfers they talked to for the article were ones playing Grapevine Municipal. Only seems appropriate, given that Texas is home to several cities to wear the crown of "Fattest City In America" (San Antonio and Houston have both "earned" that distinction; Grapevine - DFW- in fairness has not).

Many recreational golfers play for the camaraderie, not for exercise. But if you don't want to fool yourself on the exercise front, there's a very easy way to turn golf into great exercise: walk instead of ride. And drink water or Gatorade instead of beer.

You can always ease yourself into it. If you're with a beergut who won't give up his cart, alternate riding and walking; walk three holes, then ride three. Most of us probably need all the help we can get.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

STPGA Wraps Up, TGA On the Way

One regional tournament wrapped up yesterday, while another big one is on the way this weekend.

STPGA Assistants Championship
The Southern Texas PGA held its Assistants Championship at Tradition Course at Cypresswood Golf Club in Spring. It was scheduled for two rounds, but rain shortened it to just one. The top four finishers advance to the TaylorMade/adidas Golf PGA Assistant Professional Championship, Oct. 26-29, 2006, on the North Course of PGA Golf Club at the Reserve in Port Saint Lucie, Fla. Those top four finishers were:

Brad Lardon, Austin, 64
Chip Craig, Kingwood, 68
Randy Jones, San Antonio, 69
Brandt Kieschnick, Huntsville, 70

TGA State Mid-Am Match Play
The Texas Golf Association's State Mid-Am Match Play tees off on Thursday and continues through July 30 at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas. The tournament is open to male amateur golfers who turn 25 by the the tournament start date, have a current USGA Handicap index of 5.4 or less, and belong to a club that is a member of the Texas Golf Association.

The 90-player field is headed by defending champion Steve Gill of Sugar Land. Following 36 holes of stroke play on Thursday and Friday, the top 16 advance to match play. The semifinals and finals are played on Sunday.

New Sponsor and Name for Colonial

The venerable Colonial tournament at the venerable Colonial Country Club in venerable Fort Worth is getting a new sponsor and a new official title.

Bank of America is out, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts is in. And the tournament is now officially named the "Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial." I suppose it's better than "Poulan Weed Eater Colonial."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Here and There

A few stories that have come across the transom lately (click the link within each blurb to read the full story):

  • Byron Nelson's wife called the bomb squad when an unusual package showed up in the mail. They detonated it, but it turned out to be banners from the Masters and a letter.
  • Port Groves Golf Club, a 70-year-old 9-holer in Groves, has closed. But the Groves mayor and a business partner are hoping to purchase the property and re-open the course.
  • Facilities at the University of Texas Golf Club keep growing. The UT men's golf coach says, "The Academy is now, with its continued improvements, reaching a point where it is one of the premier facilities in the country."
  • The Fina NTPGA Seniors Championship was played at Ridglea Country Club (South Course) in Fort Worth last week. Perry Arthur, representing Stonebridge Ranch Country Club-Dye Course was the winner with rounds of 68-68. It was his second straight win in the event.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Doughtie Wins Third West Texas Amateur

Tom Doughtie of Amarillo blistered The Rawls Course in Lubbock with a final-round 63 - a new course record - to win the Texas Golf Association West Texas Amateur Championship for the third time on Sunday. Jody Vasquez of Aledo was the Senior Division winner.

Here is the report from the TGA:

Lubbock, TX – Two-time West Texas Amateur Champion Tom Doughtie of Amarillo sat tied for the lead with 2005 Champion Trey Todd of Abilene after 36 holes, setting up a final-round shootout that will be remembered for years to come.

Doughtie came out the gate swinging with birdies on holes one, two, three and nine to shoot a front nine of four under par 32. Kevin Doskocil of Hillsboro was only one shot back heading into the final round and was up to the challenge, matching Doughtie’s front-nine 32 with one of his own.

The two traded birdies during the final nine holes, which included eight birdies and an eagle between the two. Doskocil’s eagle came on the demanding 499-yard par four fourteenth hole where he holed out his second shot from 199 yards, which vaulted him into a tie for the lead with Doughtie.

However, Doughtie would not be denied his third West Texas title, with birdies on the final two holes to claim the championship. Doughtie’s final two birdies not only claimed him the West Texas Amateur title but also allowed him to set a new course record of 9-under par 63. Doskocil’s spectacular final round of eight under par 64 would have tied the old course record.

Senior Division - 36-hole leader Jody Vasquez of Aledo continued his fine play in the final round, never opening the door to his fellow competitors. Posting two rounds of 2-under par 70, Vasquez continued his solid ball striking and opened his final round with a 1-under par 35 on the front side. Vasquez’s two closest competitors, Mickey
Jones of Odessa and Dee Johnston of North Richland Hills, couldn’t apply any pressure, each shooting 37s on the front side.

Vasquez coasted to victory by firing a 1-over par 37 on his final nine, allowing him to capture his first West Texas Senior Amateur Championship title. Chuck Bubany of Lubbock successfully defended his super senior title by shooting a impressive 1-over par 73 in the final round, leaving him tied with Bob Twaddell of Houston at the end
of 54 holes. In sudden death, Bubany defeated Twaddell with a solid par on the first hole.

Notable - Raul Lemus of Mission made a hole in one on the par-3 third hole from 158 yards. His ace was the third in as many days of competition. On Friday, Ryan Finn of Irving, also aced the third hole. On Saturday, Kenneth Beebe of Lubbock, aced the sixth hole.
Complete results are available on the TGA Web site.

Friday, July 21, 2006

River Crossing at Center of Spat with Homeowners

River Crossing Golf Club near Spring Branch, just north of San Antonio on US 281, opened several years back as a daily fee course, concurrent with the selling of lots and building of homes in a surrounding housing development.

It's a nice course and always in great shape, although in my opinion, also always overpriced.

We wrote a while back that River Crossing was planning to go private. Apparently, this turn took some of the homeowners who bought into the surrounding development by surprise.

A group of homeowners in the River Crossing subdivision recently asked a state district judge for a temporary injunction to stop the club from proceeding with privatization, claiming they were promised when they bought into the neighborhood that the course would be a daily fee.

The judge declined to grant the injuction, but failing some out-of-court settlement the case will likely continue winding its way through the courts.

Read the full story.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

More on the Heartland

We mentioned the Heartland Players Senior Tour in the post below. Here's a little more info about this tour:

  • Players age 47 and over are eligible to compete in tour events.
  • Willowisp Country Club in Missouri City is the "official host course" for the tour.
  • Tour events are played in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.
  • A full field of 57 golfers (where'd they come up with that number?) produces a first prize of $5,500.


The tour has been around for close to 10 years and in that time has donated $1 million to charity. Among the recognizable names to play the Heartland Players Senior Tour over the years are David Lundstrom, Keith Fergus, Ed Fiori, Rocky Thompson, Denis Watson, Rex Caldwell, Babe Hiskey, Robert Landers and Jackie Cupit.

Much more info about the tour - including how to play in its events - is available on its Web site. (Some advice to the folks who run the tour - you desperately need a more professional Web site!)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chasing the Dream

A few weeks ago, at the U.S. Senior Open, Chuck Ellenwood played two rounds with Fred Funk and Scott Simpson. Ellenwood, a 50-year-old real estate agent from Seguin, had gone through qualifying for the tournament and earned alternate status. When Scott Hoch dropped out, Ellenwood got the call: you're in the game.

And now Ellenwood wants to stay in the game. He posted a high number in the first round, but settled down in the second to a 72 that included an eagle. His confidence restored, Ellenwood now feels he has no choice: chase the dream.

Ellenwood was profiled in an article by Richard Oliver in the San Antonio Express-News today. Ellenwood told the paper:

"I'll probably have to catch lightning in a bottle again, but I have to try.
When I'm in my 60s or 70s, lying in my bed at night, I want to have peace in my
mind that I tried. To not do it, and always wish I did — I'd be miserable to
have those kinds of regrets."

That's a pretty good summary of the motivation of every person who has chased a dream.

Ellenwood plans to join the Heartland Players Senior Tour, a mini-tour for the 50-and-over set, to start the journey. Many senior golfers choose to prep for the Champions Tour by playing the Heartland Tour. Later in the year, Ellenwood will attempt to qualifying for the two Texas Champions Tour events, and late in the year, he'll take on the Champions Tour Q-School.

We certainly wish Ellenwood the best. He'll need his A-game and plenty of luck to make it. The Champions Tour - because of how stingy it is with awarding qualifying spots - has been called the toughest tour in the world to join.

Read the full article.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Is Austin's Lions Municipal In Danger?

Is the venerable - and venerated (so popular that it locally goes only by "Muny") - Lions Municipal in Austin in danger of being plowed under?

That seems to be the implication in this brief, 4-paragraph article in the Austin Business Journal about the University of Texas System's interest in the tract of land on which Lions sits. I say "seems" because the article is short, with so few details, that it's difficult to be certain that really is the implication.

The four paragraphs concern the Brackenridge tract, a 350-acre parcel of land adjacent to Town Lake west of Downtown. Those 350 acres currently include student housing, a biological field laboratory and leased commercial spaces, plus "a municipal golf course" (that would be Lions).

"The University of Texas System will form a task force to study how land should be used in Austin's Brackenridge tract," the article states, and then continues:

The landlocked, flagship UT campus in Central Austin is extremely limited for future development. University leaders have long pointed to the Brackenridge tract as a prime site for UT's potential growth.

As I said, it seems to be saying that UT might seek to redevelop those 350 acres, which would seem to imply that Lions could be redeveloped away.

If I were an Austin resident, I'd be calling my city council representative to find out what's going on ... and to tell them to tell UT to keep hands-off Lions.

West Texas Amateur This Weekend

We don't hear much news out of the Panhandle, so it's good to have a Texas Golf Association event coming up in Lubbock, one that might get some Panhandle (and West Texas) golfers a little of the cyber equivalent of "ink."

The TGA's West Texas Amateur is scheduled July 21-23, three holes of stroke play, at The Rawls Course in Lubbock. Here's the preview from the TGA:

The 2006 West Texas Amateur, conducted by the Texas Golf Association, will be
held from July 21 – 23 at Texas Tech’s The Rawls Course in Lubbock. Trey Todd of
Abilene, the champion from 2005, heads an exceptionally strong field and will try to become the first player to successfully defend the title in sixteen years.

Other notables in the 105-player field include Tom Doughtie of Amarillo, the last player to win the West Texas Amateur back-to-back in 1989-90; Robert McKinney of Houston, who also won consecutive titles in 1969-70; Jeff New of the Woodlands and Jonathon Mathias of San Antonio, the 2004 and 2005 South Regional Players of the Year, respectively; and Charlie Holland of Dallas, the 2006 North Regional Amateur champion.

In the Senior Division, Chuck Bubany of Lubbock will attempt to repeat his remarkable performance from last year at Hillcrest Country Club in which he captured both the Senior (age 55+) and Super Senior (age 65+) titles.

The West Texas Amateur is 54-hole individual stroke play. In the Senior division there is a separate champion for players 55 and older and one for players 65 and older. The overall Senior champion, however, will be the player with the lowest tournament total regardless of age.

Tee-times, pairings, as well as live scoring updates will be available throughout the tournament, and will be posted on the Texas Golf Association web site.

Check the first-round pairings on the TGA site.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

This and That

Congratulations to Carlton Wade, a Texas Golf friend and a friend of Texas golf, on his new gig as part of Bechtol Russell Golf.

Wade, the handsome fellow to the left, takes over responsibility for marketing, photography and general publicity for the Austin-based golf course artchitecture firm.

You probably are more familiar with both Carlton and Bechtol Russell Golf than you might first realize. Carlton is the former editor of Texas Golfer Magazine and owner, editor, head writer and chief bottle washer of Austin Golf Magazine. He's a great golf course photographer (that's his shot in our title bar up above) and produced the official Texas state golf guides for several years. You can see some of Carlton's photography at TexasGolfShots.com.

Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell, sometimes also working with Tom Kite, have designed quite a few notable golf courses around the state, including the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Comanche Trace (one of my favorite courses) in Kerrville, The Golf Club of Texas in San Antonio and The Ambush at Lajitas, among others.

A few other things to check out:

Another Wie Comment

Leave it to a naturalized Texan - Austin resident and former Longhorn golfer Joe Ogilvie, now playing in a PGA Tour event near you - to nicely summarize exactly what this native Texan was trying to say in my post about Michelle Wie yesterday:

"Everybody is like, 'Win, win, win.' She's 16. Chill out. Once she gets to winning, you'll get sick of her winning."


(Hat tip to About.com for finding this quote.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Kerrville Pros Weigh In On Wie

Michelle Wie is becoming quite the polarizing figure in golf. While there are many, many people (myself included) who are amazed by her talent and impressed by her drive, ambition, and willingness to entertain goals no other female golfer has ever reached, there are probably just as many people who believe she's heading down the wrong path and are, frankly, sick of hearing about her.

I'm always amused, however, by those people who complain about "Wie fatigue" but then spend half their time talking about her. There's a prominent blogger on the Web - one who's too much of a histrionic nitwit for me to bother linking to - who makes his living whining about too much Wie ... and yet 60-percent of his posts are about Wie. Dude, if you're so sick of the girl, then stop writing about her!

But I digress ...

As you've probably heard, Wie withdrew from the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic midway through her second round due to illness. She was taken to a hospital in an ambulance with an IV in her arm and treated for heat exhaustion. I hope her parents and those people who advise her parents are smart enough to realize that maybe - just maybe - they're going a little too fast with their daughter's career.

Everyone - fans, critics, and the Wies themself - need to step back and remind themselves of this: She's just a kid, she's got plenty of time, she doesn't have achieve the previously unachieved ... right ... this ... minute.

In the newspaper business, editors are always asking reporters for ideas on how to take a national story and "localize" it. The Kerrville newspaper did an excellent job localizing this story about Wie by talking to the golf pros at the courses in town.

Check it out here. It's a good read.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Grunewald Wins Third Texas State Open

texas state open Defending champion Kelly Grunewald of Grand Prairie successfully defended his crown at the Texas State Open, winning his third overall TSO championship on Friday at The Cascades in Tyler.

Grunewald is the third golfer to win the TSO three times. The other two are Ben Crenshaw and Jeff Maggert.

Grunewald entered the final round tied with Martin Flores of Mansfield, who was outright leader following the first and second rounds. Grunewald shot 66 in the final round to Flores' 69, and those three strokes were the margin of victory as Flores finished runner-up.

Texas State Open - Top 5
Kelly Grunewald, Grand Prairie, 67-66-63-66--262
Martin Flores, Mansfield, 63-67-66-69--265
Nick Beach, Fayetteville, AR, 68-64-68-66--266
Brad Weesner, Hideaway, 69-65-69-64--267
Martin Piller (a), Duncanville, 67-66-65-70--268
Final Results

Here is the recap from the NTPGA:

TYLER, Texas – The scene on the 18th hole Friday at The Cascades was one for the
ages. Kelly Grunewald from Grand Prairie, Texas had a comfortable three shot lead, and after knocking in a short par putt was greeted by his biggest fans. Grunewald’s two young daughters, Riley, age 7 and Reagan, age 3, ran onto the putting green into the arms of their father, giving everyone by far the best moment of the tournament. “There was not a better feeling than winning in front of my family and friends, not a better feeling in the world,” Grunewald remarked after being handed his third Texas State Open Championship trophy.

Grunewald, the 2002 and 2005 Texas State Open champion, shot rounds of 67-66-63-66 for a tournament total of 262 (18-under par) to add his name to the golf record books by becoming only the third player ever to win the Texas State Open three times. He joined two well-known PGA TOUR players, Ben Crenshaw, who was crowned champion in 1975, 1979 and 1980, and Jeff Maggert, Texas State Open champion in 1988, 1990 and 1994. Letting it all sink in, Grunewald said, “It’s a dream to have a place in history with those two men.”

Martin Piller, from Duncanville, Texas and member of the Texas A&M University men’s golf team earned top amateur honors and fifth place alone in the Championship by shooting rounds of 67-66-65-70 for a final score 268 (12-under par).

The low round of the day was turned in by Michael Boyd of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who tied The Cascades course record with a 31-32-63. “This was the best round I’ve ever played in competition, I just hit putts all day, it’s as simple as that,” added Boyd after play.

The third hole-in-one of the tournament was turned in from Bruce Smith, head golf professional at Pebble Creek Country Club in College Station, Texas, when his 6-iron found the bottom of the hole on the 194 yard par 3, ninth. It was Smith’s sixth career ace.

The 72-hole stroke play event consists of 156 contestants comprised of 24 amateurs and 134 professionals. 60 players made the cut at 142 (2-over par). 36 players
completed the tournament under par. The top 15 professionals and top three amateur will all gain an exemption into the 2007 Texas State Open at the Cascades. All four rounds of the Championship were contested at The Cascades a 6,868 yard, par 70 Mark Hayes design, located in Tyler, Texas. The total purse is $125,055, with $22,500 awarded to the champion, Kelly Grunewald.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Defending Champ Makes His Move at TSO

texas state openDefending champion Kelly Grunewald (Grand Prairie) - trying to win his second straight and third overall Texas State Open title - fired a third-round 63 on Thursday to move into a tie for the lead. First- and second-round leader Martin Flores of Mansfield had a 66 Thursday and matched Grunewald's 54-hole total of 14-under 196 at The Cascades in Tyler.

Full-field scores from the NTPGA

Here is the third-round recap from the NTPGA:

TYLER, Texas – Defending champion, Kelly Grunewald from Grand Prairie, Texas, is no stranger to the position he holds after the third round of the Texas State Open at The Cascades. Grunewald’s 31-32-63 (7-under par) round included nine birdies and a share of the lead heading into the final round. A two-putt birdie on the par 4, 15th hole, was the easiest of the day for Grunewald, as his drive found the putting surface. “Hitting driver on hole #15 today was a ‘no-brainer’ for me with the tees moved forward,” stated Grunewald.

Grunewald, the 2002 and 2005 Texas State Open champion, with a victory tomorrow, would become only the third player in history to claim the Texas State Open title three times. He would join a short list, which includes PGA TOUR greats, Ben Crenshaw and Jeff Maggert, the only two players to achieve this accomplishment. When asked about his feelings of being added to this list, Grunewald said, “Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as those two players would be unbelievable. I played with Jeff Maggert a few times on the PGA TOUR, and Ben Crenshaw has always been an idol of mine.”

Tied with Grunewald is second round leader, Martin Flores from Mansfield, Texas. Flores birdied both par threes on the front nine to go out in 34, and added a string of birdies on holes #13, #14 and #15 to finish the day 34-32-66 (4-under par). Both Grunewald and Flores sit atop the field with a 54-hole total of 196 (14-under par).

Martin Piller, an amateur from Duncanville, Texas and member of the Texas A&M University men’s golf team has put himself in position to become only the second amateur ever to win the Texas State Open. Homero Blancos won the first Texas State Open in 1960 as an amateur. Piller’s third round 32-33-65 (5-under par) puts him at a 54-hole total of 198 (12-under par).

The 72-hole stroke play event consists of 156 contestants comprised of 24 amateurs and 134 professionals. 60 players made the cut at 142 (2-over par). Of the 60 players to make the cut, six are amateurs. All four rounds will be contested at The Cascades a 6,868 yard, par 70 layout located in Tyler, Texas. The total purse is $125,275, with $22,500 awarded to the champion.

Round four will commence at 8 a.m. on Friday.

The Games of Texas are Upon Us

Each year, the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation (TAAF) puts on an Olympics-style event called The Games of Texas, in which amateur athletes across the state compete in myriad sports.

This year, The Games of Texas takes place outside of Austin, all events hosted by Williamson County municipalities. The event runs July 21 through July 30. More than 10,000 athletes and 40,000 spectators are expected to attend.

And golf is one of the games in The Games of Texas. The youth golf division plays July 27-28, and the adult golf division July 29-30. And there's still time to register to play.

The Games of Texas - Youth Golf
  • When: July 27-28
  • Where: Forest Creek Golf Club, Round Rock
  • Who: Divisions include Girls 10-11, Boys 10-11, Coed 7-9 (18 hole medal play); also Men 21 and under, Women 21 and under, Boys 16-18, Girls 15-18, Boys 14-15, Girls 12-14, Boys 12-13 (36 hole medal play)
  • Entry Deadline: July 21
  • More info: Event homepage or online registration

The Games of Texas - Adult Golf

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Texas State Open: Flores Maintains Lead in Round 2

texas state open First-round leader Martin Flores of Mansfield is still the leader following the second round of the Texas State Open at The Cascades in Tyler. Flores followed up his opening-round 63 with a 67 on Friday, for a 10-under 130 total. That's two shots better than Nick Beach of Fayetteville, Ark.

Go here for third-round pairings and tee times, or see the live scoring on the NTPGA Web site for complete results and updates.

Here is the second-round recap from the NTPGA:

TYLER, Texas – Martin Flores of Mansfield, TX played steady during round two of the Texas State Open, to increase his lead over the rest of the field. Four birdies and one bogey is what it took for Flores to stay atop the leaderboard, posting a 33-34-67 (3-under par), bringing his two round total to 130 (10-under par). Looking ahead at the spot in the final pairing for round three, Flores stated, “I’m feeling really good about tomorrow’s round, I need to get off to a great start, and keep doing what I’m doing on the course.”

Flores will be playing with Nick Beach of Fayetteville, AR in the last group of the three round. Beach made a big charge today, as his strategy to score played out. “I had a game plan to put the ball in play all 18 holes, and I stuck to it all day,” Beach commented following his bogey free round of 31-33-64 (6-under par). Beach stands at 132 (8-under par) heading into Thursday’s round.

Beach feels very comfortable with The Cascades layout, he made it into the Texas State Open starting field, by qualifying at The Cascades Open Qualifying event on June 20th. He also played collegiate golf at the University of Arkansas.

Defending champion, Kelly Grunewald of Grand Prairie, TX finished off his front nine today with birdies on three of his last four holes to go out in 32. He finished the day in a tie for third place at 133 (7-under par).

Two players made aces today, during the event. Justin Bates of Allen, TX struck a 5-iron 187 yards on hole #2 for his first career ace. The shot came at the right time as it helped Bates slide under the cut line at (2-over par) for the tournament. Jon Whaley of Dallas, TX added his first ever hole-in-one this morning on hole #16, hitting an 8-iron directly in the hole from 137 yards out. “It was awesome,” exclaimed Whaley after his round today.

Sixty players made the cut at 142 (2-over par). Of the 60 players to make the cut, six are amateurs. The total purse is $125,275, with $22,500 awarded to the champion.

Want to Buy a Golf Course?


The Links at Land's End, near Yantis on the shores of Lake Fork, is on the auction block. The course, located 60 miles west of Tyler and 90 miles east of Dallas, is built mostly on a peninsula that juts out into the lake, as you can see on the aerial photo above.

The Links at Land's End is currently owned by Las Vegas mogul Billy Walters and Joe Munsch of Evergreen Alliance Golf Limited (EAGL). Its value is put at $5 million by the auction company, so if you and five million of your friends each put in $1 ...

Here's an interesting note about Land's End: the head pro is Jacky Cupit. Sound familiar? Cupit was a touring pro for many years and played off against Julius Boros and Arnold Palmer for the 1963 U.S. Open title (Boros won, but Cupit beat Palmer by three shots).

The auction will take place Thursday, Aug. 10, at 10 a.m. at the Omni Park West Hotel in Dallas. Conducting the auction will be Hilda W. Allen Real Estate, Inc., and Hudson & Marshall of Texas Inc. Visit those company's Web sites if you can seriously entertain the notion.

Flores the Round 1 Leader at TSO

texas state openMartin Flores of Mansfield is the first-round leader at the Texas State Open. Flores' sizzling 7-under 63 on The Cascades course in Tyler is one shot better than Brian Marini of Austin and Franklin Hatchett of Dallas.

Click here for full-field live scoring.

Here is the Day 1 recap from the NTPGA:

TYLER, Texas – Martin Flores of Mansfield, TX is the clubhouse leader after the opening round of the Texas State Open at the Cascades. Flores got off to a quick start this morning by making five (5) birdies on the front nine to go out in 30. He hit his approach close on hole #10 and knocked in another birdie propelling him to a 30-33-63 (7-under par). Martin said of his round, “I played solid all day long, I was hitting my approaches well, and not leaving myself much work on the putting green.”

Flores is a 2004 graduate from the University of Oklahoma, where he played collegiate golf. He also won twice earlier this season on the Northern Texas PGA Players’ Tour, capturing victories at Fazio at Stonebriar and Timarron Country Club. This is the third appearance for Flores in the Texas State Open; he competed previously in 2000 and 2004.

The afternoon rounds saw great scoring conditions as well, two players are one shot back of Flores at the conclusion of play. Brian Marini of Austin, TX used a string of six (6) birdies to finish with a 33-31-64 (6-under par). “I just needed to hit the
green today. I was rolling the ball so well all the way around,” Marini stated at the conclusion of his round.

Joining Marini at six under par was Franklin Hatchett of Dallas, TX, who finished with birdies on holes #16, #17 and added an eagle on hole #18. Hatchett’s double bogey on the third hole got him focused, as he proceeded to make eight (8) birdies and an eagle to card a 34-30-64 (6-under par).

Also in the field, defending Texas State Open champion, Kelly Grunewald of Grand Prairie, TX sits four shots back of Flores after posting a round of 34-33-67 (3-under par.) Following round one, there are currently 32 players at even par or better.

The 72-hole stroke play event consists of 156 contestants comprised of 24 amateurs and 134 professionals. The field will play 36 holes before being cut to the low 55 scores and ties. All four rounds will be contested at The Cascades a 6,868 yard, par 70 layout located in Tyler, Texas. The total estimated purse is $125,000, with $22,500 awarded to the champion.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rankin Update

Midland resident Judy Rankin, and LPGA Hall of Fame member and one of the best golf broadcasters on television, was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago. Here's an update on Rankin's condition from Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson:

Judy Rankin sounded as upbeat as ever Tuesday, hopeful the hard part of cancer surgery was behind her. She cooked dinner for the first time, and even had the strength to take her dogs for walk at home in Midland, Texas.

But the ABC Sports golf analyst doesn't quite have the strength to go to the British Open next week.

"It's the hardest week I have and the one I love the most," said Rankin, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago. "But I'm not quite up to that. I'm trying hard to get to the Women's British Open. Nothing is a definite yet, but it looks very possible."

Rankin had planned to go to Toledo, Ohio, this weekend for the LPGA Tour event. Her family is talking her out of it, however, not wanting her to return too early and have a setback.

"I think I would be quite capable of sitting and talking for two hours," she said with a laugh. "It's the trip that's hard, and that's not an easy place to get to. What I need is my own airplane."

Then came more laughter.

"Maybe I'll go to the British if Tiger will take me," she said.

The Women's British Open is Aug. 3-6 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and Rankin remained optimistic she could make it.

"This has been hard, I must say," she said. "But I think I'm well through the worst of it now."

From Ferguson's weekly notes column.

PGA Tour Superstores Coming to Texas

The first two PGA Tour Superstores in the Southwest will open in Plano in the spring of 2007. They'll become the largest retail golf shops in the DFW area, each approximately 65,000 to 70,000 square feet. Later, another store will open in Houston.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Gills Defend State Father-Son Title

Steve and Brett Gill of Sugar Land successfully defended their Texas Golf Association State Father-Son Championship title over the weekend, defeating Malcolm and Charlie Holland of Dallas on the first playoff hole.

Here is the recap from the TGA:

In what became a two team battle for the 2006 TGA State Father-Son Championship, the final nine holes provided a back and forth battle at Beaumont Country Club. Defending Champions Steve and Brett Gill of Sugar Land battled Malcolm and Charlie Holland of Dallas for 54 holes, and the two teams ended up tied. On the first hole of sudden death father Steve Gill made a six foot birdie putt to secure the win and enable Team Gill to successfully defend the title.

The Gills started the final round two shots ahead of the Hollans, and four shots ahead of Rob and Robby Ormand of Austin. When father Malcolm Holland birdied the 9th hole the Gills and Hollands were tied going into the final nine. The Ormands never made a charge, and it was a two team battle. Charlie Holland then birdied five of the first six holes on the back nine to give his team a three shot lead with three holes to play. Then both Hollands made bogey on #16 while the Gills made birdie, then followed that with a birdie on #17 to leave the two teams tied going to the last hole. Both Brett and Charlie had close birdie putts, but neither could convert. That set up Steve’s birdie on hole #1, the first playoff hole, for the win.

The low round of the day was turned in by Gary and Eric Durbin, who had a 63 to move into a third play tie with the Ormands, who shot 67.

Full results are available on the TGA Web site here.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Update on Fate of Bryan Municipal

Last month we posted about the situation in Bryan involving the Texas A&M Health Science Center and the Bryan Municipal golf course. The university was looking for land on which to expand the Health Science Center, and the A&MHSC president stated that they were considering the golf course, which, if they selected it for the location of the medical facility, would be a gift from the City of Bryan. The Bryan mayor responded by saying he had no idea what the A&M folks were talking about.

He does now. The Bryan City Council recently unanimously voted to try wooing A&M to place its Health Science Center expansion on the land where the Bryan Municipal now sits. It's not a given that A&M will ultimately choose that site, as the university is sure to be wooed by other interested parties, too. But by all appearances the golf course is the clear frontrunner.

So what happens to golf in Bryan if the muni goes the way of the dinosaurs? The same articles gives an indication that Bryan city leaders are interested in building a new municipal in another part of the city.

According to the article, Bryan city leaders contacted College Station city leaders and broached the idea of going in on a new golf course project together. Sounds like a fine idea to me ... but not to the folks who run College Station, who rebuffed it.

Bryan city leaders also approached the folks at Briarcrest Country Club about selling the course to the city, and were rebuffed on that idea, too.

A third idea is to build a new course near Lake Bryan, where the city already owns land. But the president of the Brazos Golf Association opposes that site because it's not convenient for many of the Bryan-College Station golfers.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Texas State Open Tees Off in a Few Days

The field for the Texas State Open is set - 156 players tee off on July 11 and conclude play on July 14, 72 holes of stroke play at The Cascades in Tyler.

The Texas State Open, based on its list of past champions, must be considered the biggest tournament in Texas outside of the PGA events. Those past champions include Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Homero Blancas, Jeff Maggert, Cameron Beckman, Blaine McCallister, Jack Burke Jr. and Keith Fergus.

The field this year is made up of 133 professionals and 23 amateurs, most of whom gained entry through 26 different qualifiers - played not only in Texas but also in Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma during the month of June. Also in the field is NFL quarterback Tommy Maddox, a Roanoke resident who received a special exemption.

Kelly Grunewald, the 2002 and 2005 champion, is back trying to become the third three-time winner of the Texas State Open (Crenshaw and Maggert are the other two). And Stuart Deane, the Australian resident of Arlington who recently won the Trump Million Dollar Invitational and is a cofounder of the Birdies for Kids charity, is in the field.

The Texas State Open groupings and tee times are available here. The tournament homepage - which will be updated with results throughout - is available here on the NTPGA Web site.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!

Gotta love those Aussies, and for more than just the accent and their prowess at golf. As we noted below in the post about the Trump Million Dollar Invitational, Australian-turned-Arlingtonian Stuart Deane won the event and pledged to use part of his $1 million prize for a DFW charity.

Deane and six of his fellow Australians who live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area started a childrens charity a couple years ago called Birdies for Kids. Each year, the seven get together to play in a fundraising event.

This year, the Birdies for Kids Fundraiser takes place at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas on July 31. Each of the seven plays 72 holes, trying to make as many birdies and eagles as possible. I believe the way it works is that each birdie or eagle results in contributions from individuals or companies who have pledged a certain amount per birdie.

Deane said that fundraisers in the previous two years raised $104,240. This year, proceeds benefit the Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation and the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.

"We all feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work here (in DFW)," said Deane, "and simply wanted to do something to give back to the local community."

And I'm sure the local community feels very fortunate to have these gentlemen, as well.

Let's here it for the Aussies who founded Birdies for Kids:

  • Simon Buckle, assistant professional at Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas
  • Stuart Deane, teaching professional at Great Southwest Golf Course in Arlington
  • Nick Griffin, assistant professional at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas
  • Travis Johns, assistant professional at Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas
  • Dean Larsson, assistant professional at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas
  • Cameron McCormick, director of instruction at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas
  • Mark Harrison, director of operations with the Northern Texas PGA

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

New Tours in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston

Three new golf tours - tours for "regular" golfers - have been formed in Texas, all of them part of the "Golf Connect Nationwide Network of Tours" sponsored by, among others, Golf Galaxy and Callaway.

The three tours are the Mission City Golf Tour in San Antonio, the DFW Metro Golf Tour, and the Gulf Coast Golf Tour in Houston. Since they share an affiliation with each other and numerous other tours across the U.S., the rules and formats are pretty much the same for each.

Here are the basics:

  • The tours host events for "average" golfers, and any golfer who normally scores 95 or less on a regulation, 18-hole course is welcome.
  • Tour events are 18 holes with 2-person teams, either best ball or scramble formats.
  • With a full field, each event pays out more than $1,000 in prizes to the top 30-percent of teams.
  • Tour membership is not required to play in any tour event, although golfers have the option of signing up for a "V.I.P. Membership" that includes extras.
  • Entry fees are usually only $15-$20 more than the normal cost of playing at the host course, and includes shared cart and range balls.
  • Tournaments are always held on Saturday, with tee times from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at various courses around the metro area.

Many more issues are addressed on the FAQ page for each tour, which you can easily find by visiting the Web sites linked above.

Each tour is in the process of setting up events for the late summer and fall of 2006. For more information, visit the Web sites above, or send an email:

San Antonio - info@missioncitygolftour.com
DFW - info@dfwmetrogolftour.com
Houston - info@gulfcoastgolftour.com

Monday, July 03, 2006

Texans Face Off in Trump Million Dollar Invitational

Two Texans, one naturalized and one native, squared off in the finals of the Trump Million Dollar Invitational, and in the end the naturalized Texan walked away the biggest payday of his (or most other golfers') professional career.

The naturalized Texan is Stuart Deane, an Australian who lives in Arlington. The native Texan is Gibby Martens, a San Antonian now living in Arizona while playing the mini-tour circuit.

The event, played in The Grenadines, pitted members of the U.S. Pro Golf Tour in a shootout format - one player eliminated on each hole, the rest moving on to the next hole.

At the end, only Deane and Martens were left, and they had to go to a playoff hole before Deane emerged the victor to claim the $1 million first prize. Martens picked up $150,000 for finishing second, almost certainly the biggest check of his career, too.

Deane was, as you can imagine, very happy with his payday.

"What this will allow me to do is devote more time to becoming a better golfer and take the pressure off paying bills for awhile." But it will also allow him to indulge his love of cars: "I'm a big automobile nut, so I'm going out and buying a great new car."

Deane is also going to set aside some of the $1 million prize for charity. He and six of his fellow Australian golfers who live in the DFW area started a charity called Birdies for Kids, and some of the money will go to support that organization.

"We started (Birdies for Kids) because we simply wanted to say ‘thanks’," Deane said. "We all feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work in the United States and wanted to do something to give back to our local community. Basically in our own small way, we simply want to help make a difference."

Proceeds from Birdies for Kids fund-raisers benefit the Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation's Golf In Schools program.

For more info on the event, see the Trump Million Dollar Invitational Web site. For more info on the NTPGA Junior Golf Foundation, go here.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Austin's Firecracker Open

The Austin American-Statesman had an interesting article a couple days ago about the Firecracker Open, the traditional Fourth-of-July weekend tournament in Austin that wraps up its 60th playing on Tuesday.

Tom Kite won the tournament in 1968, and Ben Crenshaw and Omar Uresti are a couple other big-name winners. Six-time winner Billy Clagett is back in the field this year, and he says of the event:

"A lot of really good players come here and see how short Muny is, and they think they will just tear it up," Clagett said. "That doesn't necessarily happen. Muny is short and tight, and you have to get out and play it if you want to be prepared.

"There does seem to be a trend that the younger guys are doing really well," Clagett added. "Not only are they really good players, but they are putting in the time to prepare. For any tournament, you have to prepare for that particular golf course. These young guys seem to be doing that. For older guys like me that initiative to put in a lot of preparation has subsided."

"Muny," by the way, is what Austinites call Lions Municipal Golf Course, the tournament's home.

The Firecracker Open was first played in 1945, although under a different name. It acquired the "Firecracker" monicker in 1968, and only three times has it been played at a course other than Lions.

Read the full article. (Go to bugmenot.com to get login info, if you need it to access the article.)

Aces Up at Dallas Junior Golf Championship

Congratulations to Dallas 14-year-old Amy Ruengmateekhun, who won the Girls Open division at the Dallas Junior Golf Championship in style: with a course record that included a hole-in-one.

Ruengmateekhun shot 5-under 67, a course record from the forward tees at Tenison Highlands, in the final round to finish at 3-under 213 and win by six strokes. She aced the 93-yard No. 13.

The Boys Open division champion was Ben Blundell of Rowlett.

Brouhaha at Houston Community College

Here's an article in the Houston Press, the alternative newsweekly in H-Town, about a brouhaha at Houston Community College involving golf.

The ruckus is over a 3-hole, par-3 golf course that the community college system built, with taxpayer money, at its Northeast College campus. What's the problem? The problem is that HCC has been bemoaning a fiscal crisis and laying off staff members at the same time it's been building these three golf holes.

The purpose of the golf construction is to be able to make golf instruction available at the Northeast Campus, whose mission is supposed to be "workforce education." The cost of the golf instruction will be $50 an hour.