Friday, December 29, 2006

New to the Scene: Golf Foundation of Texas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holiday Lull

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rodriguez Leads Team USA

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 17, 2006

ACC's Morgan Named STPGA Pro of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kerrville's Comanche Trace Adding Another Nine


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Texas Courses in "Best Of" Rankings

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

Golf Digest - Best New Courses 2006

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Beckman, Hall Earn Q-School Stripes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 04, 2006

Whoops

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

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

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