Friday, August 31, 2007

Senior Series Returning to Action

From the Southern Texas PGA:

After a year’s hiatus, the former Southern Texas PGA Senior Associates Series is returning.

Renamed simply the Southern Texas PGA Senior Series and supported by sponsors Bridgestone Golf and Yes!Golf, the group will offer three tournaments in September and October of this year, with a return to a full schedule of 10 tournaments in 2008.The group's tournaments will be open to all professional and amateur golfers ages 50 and over as of Nov. 8, 2007. The entry fee for each tournament, consisting of 36-holes of stroke play competition, will be $150 (there will be no membership fee for 2007) and will include prizes, golf, golf cars and refreshments after the first round.

The field of each tournament will be divided into two age groups (50-57, 58-and-above). The entire field will also play for an overall championship in each event.
Professionals competing in the STPGA Senior Series will play for cash prizes and amateurs will play for merchandise certificates.

In addition, golfers finishing in first and second place (overall) in each of this fall's tournaments will earn exemptions into the field of the 2007 South Padre Island Texas Senior Open, which will take place Nov. 8-10 at South Padre Island Golf Club in Laguna Vista.

The Southern Texas PGA Senior Series tournaments scheduled for this fall are: Sept. 24-25 at Woodlake Golf Club in San Antonio; Oct. 15-16 at Columbia Lakes Resort in West Columbia; and Oct. 29-30 at River Ridge Golf Club in Sealy.

The entry deadline for each tournament will be the Wednesday prior to the first round of each event.

For more information about the 2007 STPGA Senior Series, please visit the Southern Texas PGA web site at www.stpga.com.

"Texas Grand Slam" at Briggs Ranch

There were rumors a few months back that Briggs Ranch Golf Club, a golf-only country club in San Antonio designed by Tom Fazio, was working on bringing a high-profile event to the course. About 18 months earlier there had been much talk about Briggs Ranch and the LPGA Tour working to put an LPGA tournament in San Antonio. That never happened (Briggs Ranch wasn't able to drum up enough support from the San Antonio business community that already has PGA Tour and Champions Tour events to get involved in).

What would this "major announcement" turn out to be?

The answer: the Texas Grand Slam. Color me unimpressed.

You might not even know what the Texas Grand Slam is. It's a made-for-TV foursome of Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Mark Brooks and Justin Leonard - four Texas grand slam winners - playing 18 holes, with the telecast airing around Thanksgiving Day on Fox Southwest. This is the third year the event has been played.

Yawn.

Don't get me wrong - I completely understand why Briggs Ranch would want this at their course: It gets them on TV. That's very important to a course that is trying to sell lots and houses and memberships. And maybe it will serve as a showcase for officials with the pro tours.

Briggs Ranch has also put in a bid to steal the San Antonio Champions Tour tournament away from Oak Hills Country Club, but I doubt that will happen. The AT&T Championship always draws one of the strongest senior circuit fields of the year, in October, near the very end of the Champions Tour season, only because the golfers love Oak Hills so much.

If Briggs Ranch and other newer, top clubs in Texas want to get on the radar screens of the USGA, PGA of America, and the top professional tours, they need to do it the old-fashioned way: by recruiting USGA and PGA of America officials. By applying to host low-level USGA championships and regional PGA tournaments.

The Club at Carlton Woods, for example, is this year hosting what is probably the most obscure USGA championship, the State Team Championship. Assuming the club proves a good host, expect in a couple years to hear an announcement that Carlton Woods is getting a bigger and better USGA championship.

If Briggs Ranch wants a top-level tour event, it can also go after a three-year deal to host a Futures Tour tournament (especially if it is still interested in the LPGA, since the LPGA now owns the Futures Tour). That would give the club experience hosting a full-field tournament, a chance to prove it can run such a tournament successfully, without the pressure of having to immediately find oodles of sponsors in a tight sponsorship market.

The Texas Grand Slam gets the club on TV, and might lead to home, lot or membership sales. It might also simply be an example of "we'll take what we can get."

See the San Antonio Express-News article for more on the Texas Grand Slam.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fight Over Missouri City Courses May End in Eminent Domain Claim

Quail Valley Country Club in Missouri City is at the center of storm that has several different outcomes as possibilities: the current owners keep the courses open and begin turning a profit; the current owners close the courses and redevelop them into something different; the city of Missouri City buys the courses and opens them to the public; the city seizes the courses through eminent domain and has itself a new municipal facility.

The Houston Chronicle details the brewing battle in an article entitled, "Missouri City aims to save Quail Valley." (Visit bugmenot.com if you're asked for a password.)

Quail Valley has 54 holes of golf, two regulation courses, one 9-hole executive and one 9-hole par-3. The club opened in the 1960s as the centerpiece of one of the very first "master-planned communities" in the Houston area. Its 18-holers were well-regarded, too: Quail Valley is a past site of the PGA Tour Houston Open.

But as the club and community around it aged, and golf options exploded in the Greater Houston Area, Quail Valley lost much of its sheen. Now, the club owners say, they are losing $1 million a year. And rumors abound that the owners want to plow under the courses and replace them with more houses. The owners deny that:

The Quail Valley Country Club is owned by the Ohio-based Renaissance Golf Group. Its president, Mark Voltmann, said the company's goal is not to redevelop the course but to operate it profitably.

"Clearly it is not our plan and never has been our plan," Voltmann said of rumors that the company wants to convert the golf courses into housing developments.


Quail Valley residents and Missouri City city leaders can be forgiven if they aren't reassured. They claim the loss of the golf courses would devastate the housing market, causing rapidly falling home prices (and lower tax revenues).

And Renaissance Golf Group hasn't endeared itself to the Houston golf community at large: The same company owns Inwood Forest, and that club is now closed; it may or may not re-open. The same company owns Clear Lake Golf Club, wants to redevelop it, and is currently in a battle with the city of Clear Lake whose water authority values the course for flood-control purposes.

So Missouri City has made an offer to Renaissance to purchase Quail Valley. If the city is successful, it will have a new municipal golf facility. If it isn't, it might take the course through its eminent domain powers, and settle in for what likely would be a lengthy court battle.

Full Story

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Larsson Leads Qualifiers at NTPGA Assistants Championships

Dean Larsson, of the Australian pros living in the DFW area who organize the annual Birdies For Kids Fundraiser, won the Northern Texas PGA Assistants Championship and now advances to the TaylorMade-adidas Golf PGA National Assistant Professional Championship. So do two other golfers who qualified through the NTPGA Championship, Paul Norris and Jon Antunes.

Here's the report from the NTPGA:

ANNA – Dean Larsson, an assistant golf professional at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas, captured the 2007 TaylorMade-adidas Golf Northern Texas PGA Assistants' Championship and earned a spot in the field at the 2007 TaylorMade-adidas Golf PGA National Assistant Professional Championship with a 66-69-–135 (9-under par) total.

Larsson's fine play came as no surprise as he also qualified for the PGA Professional National Championship earlier this month. Larsson will lead two other Section PGA Assistant Professionals in the 2007 TaylorMade–adidas Golf PGA National Assistant Professional Championship scheduled for October 25-28, 2007 at The PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Qualifying along with Larsson were Paul Norris of Dallas Country Club (70-68-–138) and Jon Antunes of HOT Golf Inc. in Waco (73-72-–145). The National Championship field will be comprised of 120 of the top Assistant/Apprentice Professionals from each of the 41 PGA of America Sections.

The TaylorMade-adidas Golf NTPGA Assistants' Championship also served as a team qualifier for the 2007 James P. Jordan Cup Matches to be held on November 5-6, 2007 at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club – Dye Course in McKinney. This Ryder Cup-style event is conducted annually between a team of twelve PGA assistant golf professionals from the Northern Texas Section and the South Central Section of The PGA of America.

The TaylorMade-adidas Golf Northern Texas PGA Assistants' Championship was conducted at Hurricane Creek Country Club, a 7,027-yard par-72 course located in Anna. TaylorMade-adidas Golf is the title sponsor of the Championship. A field of 43 assistant golf professionals competed for a share of the $5,100 purse. Larsson took home $660 for his victory.

Qualifiers
Dean Larsson, Bent Tree Country Club, 66-69--135
Paul Norris, Dallas Country Club, 70-68--138
Jon Antunes, Hot Golf, Inc., 73-72--145 +1

Alternates
Travis Johns, Preston Trail Golf Club, 74-72--146
Christopher Brown, Mira Vista Golf Club, 73-73--146
David Braxton, The Shores CC, 71-76--147

Full Results

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jimmy Walker Back on the Radar Screen

It was great to see Colt Knost winning the U.S. Amateur championship, but for me the biggest news of the weekend was Jimmy Walker's victory in the Nationwide Tour National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic. Walker began the day seven strokes off the lead, but shot 67 and wound up winning by one as the leader collapsed.

Walker is from Cibolo, one of San Antonio's bedroom communities, and plays out of Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, where his instructor, Bryan Gathright, is the director of golf.

I recall talking to Bryan about five years ago - before Jimmy had even gained exempt status on the Nationwide Tour - and being told that Walker would someday be the No. 1 golfer in the world. It seemed believable as Walker's career took off from there, and as Jimmy display the booming drives and deft putting touch that made Gathright so confident.

Walker gained status on the Nationwide Tour in 2003, then was that circuit's money leader and Player of the Year in 2004. A race up the world rankings to the elite level of golf seemed possible as Walker embarked on his 2005 PGA Tour rookie season.

But in the very first tournament of the year, Walker hurt his neck, and he never recovered. He missed almost all of 2005, got into some tournaments in 2006 on a medical exemption, but essentially fell off the radar screen.

So this year it was back to the Nationwide Tour, where the results have been mixed. Walker has made all but five cuts, but had only one Top 10 prior to last weekend. He was 62nd on the money list prior to the Pete Dye Classic, well outside the Top 25 who automatically earn PGA Tour cards.

Now, after the win, Jimmy has jumped all the way to No. 16 on the money list, and the PGA Tour appears within his grasp again.

It's good to see for a player who is a nice guy with a world of talent.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Colt Knost Brings U.S. Am Title to Texas



(Photo by John Mummert/USGA)

Colt Knost of Dallas is the 2007 U.S. Amateur Championship winner.

What I love above the photo above is the cutline the USGA put on it, calling Knost's reaction to a putt "a monstrous fist pump."

Colt defeated Michael Thompson of Arizona 2 and 1 in a match that everyone is describing as hard-fought and closely-contested. This is Knost's second big win of the summer. Earlier in the year he won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. According to About.com, that makes Knost just the sixth person ever to win two USGA titles in the same season, and just the second to win both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links titles in the same year.

You can read all about it at the U.S. Amateur Web site.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Texans Lead the Way at U.S. Amateur

The state of Texas is well-represented at the U.S. Amateur Championship. As I write this morning, there are four golfers left, and three of them are Texans (or at least Texas representatives).

Colt Knost is having a great year. The Dallas golfer who just finished his Southern Methodist University career won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship earlier this year, and was recently named to the Walker Cup. He'll turn pro after the Walker Cup.

But today he'll face Venezuela native and former University of Texas golfer Jhonattan Vegas in one semifinal. Vegas seems to have caught the fancy of many in attendance at the championship in San Francisco, judging by this Art Spander column.

The other semifinal pits University of Alabama golfer Michael Thompson, of Tucson, Ariz. (how'd he get in there?), against another Texan, Casey Clendenon of Houston and Lamar University.

Quite a week for Texas golf at the U.S. Am. You can keep up with the action at usamateur.org.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

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

We've written a couple times about the Birdies For Kids Fundraiser organized by a group of Australian golf professionals in the DFW area. Including here, a preview of this year's fourth playing of the fundraiser, in which the Aussies were joined by hockey star Brett Hull.

That fourth Birdies for Kids Fundraiser was played this past Monday, Aug. 20 at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, and produced a record haul, nearly $200,000 for charity.

The seven Australian golf professionals participating were: Stuart Deane, PGA Member from Arlington; Nick Griffin, an assistant professional at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas; Travis Johns, an assistant professional at Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas; Jeremy Langdale, an assistant professional at Green Tree Country Club in Midland; Dean Larsson, an assistant professional at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas; Cameron McCormick, the director of instruction at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas and Mark Harrison, the director of operations with the Northern Texas PGA.

Along with Hull they each played 108 holes of golf on Monday, earning pledges for each birdie and eagle made. In total, the eight golfers produced 178 birdies and one eagle during the course of the golf marathon. Somehow, the golf seemed to get better as the long, hot day wore on:

"Through four rounds this year we had 116 birdies and one eagle. As a group it just felt like we were playing much better this year," said Nick Griffin. The Aussies saved their best for the final 36 holes, when as a group they made 62 birdies, an average of almost four birdies per player, per round. "Heck fellas, it looks like we’re just getting warmed up, let’s play another 18 holes for the kids," joked Travis Johns as the group finished the final round at 8:00 p.m.


The fundraiser produced just over $194,000, funds which this year go to the Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation's Golf-In-Schools program and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. In the four years the event has been played, the Aussies have raised nearly $400,000 total for children's charities in the Metroplex.

The professionals also got help this year from some junior golfers, who raised even more money themselves:

This year, the Aussies asked members of the Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation and Texas Legends Junior Tour to become “honorary Aussies” for the summer to help raise money for kids. 57 kids participated by asking for support from friends, neighbors and relatives in an effort to raise money for the fundraiser. The kids raised $30,416.00 for the respective charities this year.

Michael Young, a senior at Dallas’ St. Mark’s School of Texas and Johnny Antle, a junior at Graham High School in Graham were the leading fundraisers of the kids that participated. Amazingly, both Michael and Johnny raised $7,375.00. For their efforts, both Michael and Johnny will receive a complete set of Titleist golf clubs. In addition, both young men will receive two round trip tickets on Qantas from the United States to Australia.


Congratulations to all involved in this great effort, and thanks to the Australian golf professionals (and to Brett Hull) for being such great members of the Texas golf community.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Texas Squad Announced for USGA State Team

The USGA State Team Championships - separate men's and women's tournaments - are being played in Texas this year, at The Club at Carlton Woods (Fazio Course) in The Woodlands. The Texas Golf Association has announced the men's team members representing Texas, and they are:

Men

  • Terrence Miskell, New Braunfels

  • Jonathan Mathias, San Antonio

  • Trip Kuehne, Irving


The women's team members were previously announced by the Women's Texas Golf Association, and those golfers are:

Women

  • Carolyn Creekmore, Dallas

  • Mina Hardin, Fort Worth

  • Anna Schultz, Rockwall


Those are two very strong teams in this USGA championship, for which high school and collegiate golfers are ineligible. The Texas men's team, in particular, looks like a juggernaut. I'll be a little surprised if Miskell, Macias and Kuehne don't win the title. Texas is the defending champion in the men's tournament, and the 2005 team was led by Miskell.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Simonsen Edges Lardon for STPGA Title

Two former PGA Tour players finished at the top of the leaderboard in the Southern Texas PGA's Memorial Championship. The tournament was played at Houston Country Club. Here's the report from the STPGA:

Henrik Simonsen, director of golf at Austin's Spanish Oaks Golf Club, posted a 36-hole total of 67-71—140, 4-under-par for the golf course at Houston Country Club, to win the 2007 Club Car Southern Texas PGA Memorial Championship, The victory earned Simonsen a check for $3,300.

Brad Lardon, director of golf at Bryan's Miramont Country Club, and Carl Cooper, golf school director at the Humble Oil Patch Golf Center, finished in a second-place tie at 141, good for winnings of $2,250 each.

Houston's David Lundstrom won the tournament’s Senior Division with a score of 67-71—138, taking home $1,500 for his effort.

The Woodlands' Jim Dickson, at 71-71—142, was the runner-up amongst the seniors and won $1,100.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Big Comeback at Texas Senior Am

The winner of the TGA Texas Senior Amateur Championship had to come from seven shots behind to claim the trophy. Congratulations to Mike Arnold of San Antonio, who did just that. Here is the report from the TGA:

Dallas, TX – Mike Arnold from Windcrest (San Antonio) fired a blistering 66 to come from seven shots back and win the 71st Texas Senior Amateur Championship. Arnold’s impressive 6-under-par round was the lowest of the tournament by three shots and was the lowest of the day by four.

Arnold, who is no stranger to big tournaments (2 Senior Opens, 2 U.S. Public Links and 2 U.S. Amateurs), picked the right time to card his career low round as a Senior during the final round of the State Senior Amateur. His 6-birdie, no-bogey scorecard was a testament to his solid play, but his putter won him the trophy.

Although he didn't know it at the time, Arnold's 20-foot putt on the 18th green to save par won him the ultimate prize.

"The course didn’t play easy today, but I went out today and just tried to improve my position," said Arnold. Indeed he did, and won his first TGA championship for his efforts.

Jimmy Chapman of Irving made a run for the title and came up just few feet short. Needing to make birdie on the difficult par-5 18th hole on the Gold Course, Chapman pushed his approach shot into the right bunker and was forced to try to hole his bunker shot for a share of the lead. The shot landed a few feet short and left him with a 3-footer for the runner-up position, which he made. Chapman carded a 2-under-par 70 for the day and a tournament total of even par 216.

Andy Wall from Tyler, who was the 54-hole leader in both divisions, slipped to a tie for third place in the overall division, but won the Super Senior division by nine shots over Mike Rice of Houston. Also tied for third in the overall division was 2006 U.S. Senior Am runner-up, Tom McGraw of Montgomery.

The State Senior Amateur is open to male amateur golfers who will have reached their fifty-fifth birthday by August 17, have a current USGA Handicap index of 8.4 or less, and belong to a club that is a member of the Texas Golf Association.


Top 5
Mike Arnold, 215
Jimmy Chapman, 216
Thomas McGraw, 218
Andy Wall, 218
Gary Hardin, 220
Full Results



Ashley Knoll Goes Pro

ashley knollOne thing I like to follow in Texas Golf are the young players along their paths to glory. Even if that path takes them through College Station (I'm a UT guy, in case you couldn't guess).

Ashley Knoll is a Texas golfer who I just noticed turned pro. Knoll is from The Woodlands and was a great collegiate player for the Aggies. She won three tournaments in her junior season and finished second in four others, was Big 12 Player of the Year and an All-American. The Aggies' Web site calls it "the greatest season in A&M history." She won three more times as a senior, and Knoll also made the cut in the U.S. Women's Open during that stretch.

Pretty good stuff.

I was checking the Cactus Tour results the other day and noticed that Knoll was playing in Phoenix. (If you're not familiar with the The Cactus Tour, it's a third-level women's tour that plays all of its tournaments in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. First-level is LPGA, of course; second level is Futures Tour; third level is Cactus Tour and Women's Canadian Tour. But the Cactus Tour draws more of the top prospects than you might expect because all of its tournaments are in one metropolitan area, which gives the golfers a chance to save lots of money on travel expenses.)

On the Cactus Tour results page, I see that Ashley finished sixth in Event No. 15 (they don't bother to name their tournaments). That's the first professional appearance I'm aware of for Knoll, although she might have gotten into a Futures Tour or some other event on a sponsor exemption.

I just wanted to point out the matriculation of another top Texas golfer to the pro ranks.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Newport Dunes Brings Changes to Port A

Do you love the trinkets-and-t-shirts feel of Port Aransas? A Texas beach town where flip-flops and shorts are the out of choice.

Well, those flip-flops and shorts might soon give way to a lot more Foot-Joys and khakis once the big-time resort under construction right next door to Port Aransas is completed. The golf course is due to be finished in mid- to late 2008.

The development is called Newport Beach and Golf, and the golf course is called Newport Dunes. Arnold Palmer's company is designing the course, and Arnie sounds pretty excited about it. In a press release the developer sent out, Arnie said, "Newport Dunes is the most unique golf course design I have constructed because it is my first true ocean location, and it is designed in a Scottish style."

As a golfer, I'm pretty excited to see a true links course (assuming this one lives up to its billing) come to the Texas coast. But another part of me is a little leary of this project. I don't want Port Aransas to lose its kitschy charm, and I hate seeing Texas dunes give way to another development of conrete and steel.

The golfer in me can't wait to see the finished product and give it a go. Another part of me wishes this project (and others like it) had never come along in the first place.

Corsicana's Williams Wins NTPGA Pro Championship

A recap of the NTPGA Professional Championship:

PROSPER – Chad Williams, head golf professional at Corsicana Country Club, captured the NTPGA Professional Championship after firing 2-under par 70 during the final round. Williams will lead eight NTPGA Section PGA Professionals to compete in The 41st PGA Professional National Championship on June 19-22, 2008 at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia.

Williams holed a 15-foot par-saving putt on the 36th hole of the Championship to finish at 4-under par 140 and claim a one shot victory. Chris Winton, assistant golf professional at Hank Haney at Vista Ridge, and Paul Earnest, director of golf at Four Seasons Resort & Club, finished the Championship one shot back at 3-under par 141 and will also be competing in the PGA Professional National Championship.

Williams, Winton and Earnest will also be joined at Reynolds Plantation next June by: Michael Hurley, head golf professional at Grayson County College Golf Course, Dean Larsson, assistant golf professional at Bent Tree Country Club, Vince Jewell, assistant golf professional at Brook Hollow Golf Club, Craig Pullen, director of golf at Stonebriar Country Club and Greg Sikes, head golf professional at Hogan Park Golf Course.

Greg Sikes claimed the final qualifying spot for the PGA Professional National Championship in a four-person sudden-death playoff after making birdie on the 18th hole.

This 36-hole NTPGA Section major championship is the third of the four individual stroke play championships that comprise the Cleveland Golf / Club Car NTPGA Player of the Year Points Challenge, as well as a qualifier for points to make the 2007 Texas Joe Black Cup team. Titliest/FootJoy/Cobra, Buick, Club Car and the PGA Tour are the proud sponsors of the event being conducted at Gentle Creek Golf Club on the 7,236 yard par 72 layout located in Prosper, Texas.

The Northern Texas PGA Professional Championship featured 110 Section members competing for the $29,760 purse with Williams taking home $3,300.

The 2008 PGA Professional National Championship will feature a purse of approximately $500,000, with live television coverage of all four rounds. A field of the nation's finest PGA Professionals will assemble at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga. The top 20 players from the 2008 PGA National Professional Championship will compete in the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Michigan.

Top 8 Finishers
(note: the Top 8 qualify for the PGA Professional National Championship)
Chad Williams, Corsicana Country Club, 70-70--140
Chris Winton, Hank Haney at Vista Ridge, 68-73--141
Paul Earnest, Four Seasons Resort, 70-71--141
Michael Hurley, Grayson County College GC, 72-70--142
Dean Larsson, Bent Tree Country Club, 73-69--142
Vince Jewell, Brook Hollow Golf Club, 72-70--142
Craig Pullen, Stonebriar Country Club, 70-72--142
Greg Sikes, Hogan Park GC - Quail, 72-71--143
Full Results

TGA State Senior Am at DAC This Weekend

Dallas Athletic Club will be the site, beginning Friday, of the Texas Golf Association's State Senior Amateur Championship. Here is the preview from the TGA:

The Gold Course at Dallas Athletic Club will be the site for the 2007 State Senior Amateur from Friday, August 17 through Sunday, August 19. This year marks the 70th playing of the Senior Amateur. It is the second oldest championship conducted by the Texas Golf Association - only the State Amateur, which dates back to 1906, has a longer history.

The Championship is open to male amateur golfers who will have reached their fifty-fifth birthday by August 17, have a current USGA Handicap index of 8.4 or less, and belong to a club that is a member of the Texas Golf Association. There are two divisions: one for players 55 or older (Senior) and one for those who are 65 or older (Super Senior).

Scheduled for 54-holes of stroke play, the field will be cut after 36-holes to the low 54 scores and ties in the Senior division and low 12 scores and ties, plus any player within five (5) shots of the lead, in the Super Senior division. Each division will have a separate champion but the overall champion will be the player with the lowest tournament total, regardless of age.

Headed by defending champion Chris Larsen of Houston, a number of other past titleholders are in this year's 144-player starting field. They are two-time winner Mike Rice of Houston (1999,2005), Andy Wall of Tyler (2004), Mike Hopson of Lufkin (2003), and Austin's Billy Clagett (2002).

Some top finishers from 2006 looking to be in the hunt come Sunday afternoon include runner-up Fred Clark of Kingwood, Jerry Hudgins of Houston (3rd), along with Tom McGraw of Montgomery and Larry Trowell of Dallas (tied 4th).

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

• Championship Note: Recently, two players used their good performance in the State Senior Amateur as a springboard for success on the national stage. After winning the 2005 State Senior, Mike Rice went on to capture the U.S. Senior at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Georgia. Last year, Tom McGraw finished in a tie for fourth place in the State Senior then a month later made it to the championship match in the U.S. Senior at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburg, Indiana, eventually losing 1-down on the final hole.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

UT Golf Club Renovations Near Completion

It sounds a little funny to say that a golf course that opened to rave reviews as recently as 2003 is "undergoing a renovation." But that's what's happening at the University of Texas Golf Club.

Cybergolf reports the UT Golf Club renovations "affect virtually every hole," and will add nearly 300 yards to its length, up to 7,412 yards.

The renovations to the course designed by Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell were prompted by comments from the University of Texas's bevy of touring professionals after the course hosted three pro-ams and the Big 12 Women's Golf Championship in 2005. The UT Golf Club has already been named as host for one of the 2008 women's NCAA regionals and it was just awarded an NCAA regional for the spring of 2009. Club officials are also in hot pursuit of hosting the 2012 NCAA Championships.

"Roy helped us gather the outstanding thoughts of minds of our heralded golf alumni, like Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Mark Brooks, Justin Leonard, Harrison Frazar and Omar Uresti," said Steve Termeer, the UT Golf Club's general manager and director of golf. "This was a great and challenging golf course before the renovations, but now we expect it to be even more so."

...

At Kite’s suggestion, the green on the par-4 13th was moved behind an expanded pond to capture the beauty and make the hole more challenging. He has also made several of the holes friendlier (especially on approach shots) and added to the par-4 finishing hole to make it even tougher. It will now play a whopping 525 yards from the back tees. That’s what you call a Texas-sized par-4, folks.

"The most significant renovations come on the stretch of holes from Nos. 5-8, which are generally regarded as our version of ’Amen Corner,’ and where the stroke average is very high," Termeer said. "The changes introduced on No. 5 were to level and expand the fairway, provide more layup space and add bunker right of green. On No. 6 we leveled and expanded the right side of fairway and captured a plateau of additional fairway to help the higher handicapper."


Read the full report.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hot Couture at TGA North Mid-Am

From the Texas Golf Association:

Three straight days of intense heat tested the players mentally and physically at the 2007 North Regional Mid-Amateur Championship at Texas Star Golf Course in Euless. The players showed their toughness as six players managed rounds of par or better on Sunday. The co-leaders were six shots clear of the field starting the day, making it seem like a one and one contest.

It didn't take long for the first momentum shift between co-leaders Rob Couture and Aaron Hickman. Couture, of Dallas, made a triple bogey 7 on the par four second hole, opening the door for Hickman. After falling 3 shots behind, Couture quickly answered back with a birdie on the par 2 second hole. Hickman, of Tyler , watched his lead slip away on the 7th hole as he made double bogey and Couture made birdie.

The back nine was a back and forth duel, with the two men tied going into the signature 15th hole. Hickman made a costly bogey and Couture made par to take a one shot lead. Couture carried his lead to the 18th hole that was not short of dramatics. Couture tried to carry a creek crossing the fairway, but found the water hazard with his second shot. Couture then made an amazing up and down from about 100 yards to save par and secure the title. Rob Couture also locked up the North Region Player of the Year award with his stellar performance throughout the regional events this year.

Aaron Hickman battled all day, but finished in the runner-up position, just one shot behind Couture. Steve Galko and Lelan Chiles used the two best rounds of the day to jump into a third place tie. Galko shot an impressive 66 Sunday even with two penalty strokes, while Chiles fired a round of 68.

The North Regional Mid-Amateur was the last chance for players to move up the regional points list. The top three finishers in the final standings earn a spot on the Texas Shoot-out team. The three players that can claim that honor this year are Rob Couture, Steve Galko, and John Bearrie.

Final Leaders
Rob Couture, Dallas, 209
Aaron Hickman, Tyler, 210
Steve Galko, Dallas, 212
Lelan Chiles, Granbury, 212
Scott Maurer, Dallas, 214
Chip Zahn, Irving, 214
Full Leaderboard

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Obit: San Antonio's Joe Jimenez

joe jimenez

I was playing at The Republic in San Antonio several years back, waiting beside the No. 1 tee while the group ahead of us teed off. An old man stepped to the tee. But not the senior tees, the second-from-the-rear tees that I was going to be playing, too. And then he let it rip.

And the ball soared and soared, gently faded, and dropped down right in the middle of the fairway, about 270 yards ahead. The marshal, who'd been watching with my group, leaned over and whispered, "That's Joe Jimenez." Ah, that explains it. "He's 77 years old."

Former Senior PGA Championship winner and Champions Tour player Joe Jimenez passed away in San Antonio on Saturday at the age of 81. The San Antonio Express-News reported he died of renal failure brought about by lung cancer (although Jimenez had never smoked).

The Express-News obituary is a great read and a fitting tribute to Jimenez, who rose from the caddie ranks, through the Army, through early years when - because of his ethnicity - access to many of the top golf facilities was not open to him, to become a highly respected and very accomplished golf professional.

He was also, by every account, a genuinely nice man.

You can read the obituary here.

(Photo courtesy of Carlton Wade; used with permission)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lundstrom Takes Another Senior Title

From the Southern Texas PGA:

Houston’s David Lundstrom posted a 36-hole score of 69-69—138 to win the 2007 Sun Mountain Southern Texas PGA Senior Professional Championship at The Woodlands Country Club’s Gary Player Course.

The victory marked the fourth time Lundstrom has won the STPGA’s Senior Championship and qualifies the Houston professional for the 2007 Callaway Golf Senior PGA Professional Championship, which will be played Oct. 18-21 at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Lundstrom also received exemption into event qualifying for three Champions Tour events— the Administaff Small Business Classic, the AT&T Championship and the FedEx Kinko’s Classic.

Lundstrom will be joined at the 2007 Callaway Golf Senior PGA Professional Championship by five fellow qualifiers from the Southern Texas PGA — Gordon Johnson of Houston, The Woodlands’ Jim Dickson, Jeff Hunter and Chuck Westergard of San Antonio, and Marty Fleckman of Cypress.

In addition to the previously mentioned prizes, Lundstrom earned $700 for winning the 60-69 Division of the STPGA tournament. Fleckman finished in second place in that group at 146 to win $500.

Gordon Johnson won the 50-59 age division with a score of 71-71—142, good for $700 in earnings. Jim Dickson finished second at 144, taking home $500, while Hunter and Westergard posted scored of 145 to tie for third place winnings of $375 each.
Spring’s Dave Findlay won the 70-79 Division and $450 with a score of 78-80—158.

Top 5
David Lundstrom, Houston, 69-69—138
Gordon Johnson, Houston, 71-71—142
Jim Dickson, The Woodlands, 69-75—144
Jeff Hunter, San Antonio, 74-71—145
Chuck Westergard, San Antonio, 73-72—145

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Let's Hear It for the Boys (and Girls)

The Southern Texas PGA's Little Linksters Championship was played recently at Cypresswood Golf Club in Spring. The division winners were Benjamin Arnett of Houston in the Boys 10-12 division; Michael Glover of Nederland in the Co-Ed 7-9 division; and Kelsey Canalas of Corpus Christi in Girls 10-12 division. Congratulations to these great young champions.

Here's the wrapup from the STPGA:

Benjamin Arnett of Houston carded an 18-hole score of 3-over-par 37-38—75 to win the Boys 10-12 Division of the 2007 Southern Texas PGA Academy Sports & Outdoors Little Linksters Championship at the Tradition Course at Cypresswood Golf Club in Spring.

Arnett finished three strokes up on runner-up Alex Smith of Bellaire and five strokes ahead of a trio of junior golfers knotted in a third-place at 80. Scorecard playoffs broke the ties, with Justin Jeggle of Magnolia taking home the third-place trophy, Jacob Veerman of Sugar Land the fourth-place prize, and William Martinez of Austin the fifth-place trophy.

“I was just coming out and playing. I wasn’t worried about anything,” said 11-year-old Arnett, who has been playing golf for eight years and has been a member of the Southern Texas PGA program for the last four years.

Nederland’s Michael Glover won the Co-Ed 7-9 Division with a score of 38-38—76.

“I can’t believe it right now,” said Glover, 9, of his victory. “Looking at everyone else, my gosh, they just seemed to much better.”

Glover finished two strokes ahead of Missouri City’s Terry Strickland II, who finished in second place at 41-37—78. Three golfers finished in a third-place tie at 82.

Cade Bormet of San Antonio won a scorecard playoff for third-place honors, while Curtis Brady of Houston and Patrick Rhodes of Cypress won trophies for fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Kelsey Canales of Corpus Christi won the Girls 10-12 Division with a score of 42-44—86, finishing two strokes ahead of runner-up Brooke McDougald of The Woodlands.

Blaire Brevell of Groves finished in third place at 45-47—92.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Kudos for Horseshoe Bay

A golf travel expert named Larry Olmsted writes a blog for USA Today called The Golfer's World, "tips and trips to take your game on the road." He often posts about his favorite golf resorts and hidden gems.

And in this post, he gives a great shout-out to Horseshoe Bay Resort near Marble Falls:

Horseshoe Bay is one of the best kept secrets in U.S. golf, but also one of our premier golf resorts, and the only one to feature three courses all by Robert Trent Jones Sr. Located in Texas "Hill Country," where many of the state’s best courses reside, the resort and its golf courses hug the shore of 26-mile long Lake LBJ. Horseshoe Bay was conceived nearly 40 years ago by a slightly eccentric developer, Norman Hurd, who used the site to bring his fantasy dreams to life, so the grounds of the resort teem with giant rocks, pools, streams, waterfalls and fountains, all extensively landscaped and full of exotic birds such as pink flamingoes and macaws. At night, Horseshoe Bay trades its colorful plants and birds for an equally extensive sea of colored lights. You know right away you are someplace different.

But what really counts here is the golf, and the three courses, Slickrock, Ramrock and Applerock are all good but difficult layouts, built in Jones’ masochism phase. From the tips, at 6926 yards, Ramrock is known as one of the toughest courses in all of Texas, with a scary 74.5 rating and 140 slope. Applerock is almost as difficult, and the "newest" course here, widely considered one of Jones last great works.

The bad news is that these three courses might bring you to your knees. The good news is that they are a steal to play. The Unlimited Golf Getaway Package offers just what it advertises, unlimited golf on all courses, plus practice and carts, with overnight accommodations, and it is available year round, from $168 per person at The Waters at Horseshoe Bay Resort, or from $187 at The Horseshoe Bay Marriott. The latter is pricier, but throws breakfast into the deal.


That sounds like a fantastic deal, indeed. Ol' Bogey might be heading up Horseshoe Bay way ...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Houston's Dowdall South Mid-Am Champ

The report from the Texas Golf Association:

John Dowdall of Houston shot a final round of three under par 69 to edge second round leader Jonathan Shipley of Katy and Ron Kilby of McAllen by one shot to win the 2007 TGA South Mid-Amateur Championship. The event, being played on the Tradition Course at Cypresswood Golf Club in Spring, was plagued with rain and a wet golf course for much of the first two rounds.

The final round had typical southeast Texas heat and humidity, and some hot golf as well. Shipley, the overnight leader, turned at three under par and looked to be on his way to the win. Back to back double bogeys at #16 and #17 gave Dowdall a two shot lead. Shipley birdied the final hole to put pressure on Dowdall, but he got up and down from just off the green for his fourth straight par to finish the round and the win. Kilby, playing in the group just ahead of the leaders, had gotten to two under par for the day and was finished at one under par for the tournament. His final round 70 and Shipley’s final round 71 left them one shot short.

Jonathan Mathias of San Antonio and Buzz Baker of Houston tied for fourth after both posted final round 70’s to finish the 54-hole championship at one over par 217. There was a three way tie for sixth another shot back at 218 between Robert McKinney of Houston, Dean Hall of Montgomery, and 2005 South Region Mid-Am champ Mike Booker of the Woodlands.

Despite coming up one shot short of a playoff both Kilby and Shipley earned exemptions into the 2007 TGA State Mid-Amateur Championship at Miramont CC in Bryan in September as the top three finishers gained exemptions into the State Mid-Am.

Top 5
John Dowdall, Houston, 214
Ron Kilby, McAllen, 215
Jonathan Shipley, Katy, 215
Jon Mathias, San Antonio, 217
Buzz Baker, Missouri City, 217
Full Results

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hicks/Warnecke Win TGA Stableford Handicap

The report from the Texas Golf Association:

The team of Mack Hicks and Bob Warnecke earned a wire to wire victory in the 2007 TGA Stableford Handicap tournament held at Riverhill Country Club, in Kerrville. Hicks and Warnecke held a three shot lead in the overall standings going into Sunday's final round after posting an even total of zero points through two rounds. Hicks and Warnecke held on with a round of -2 points for a 1.25 point win over Dan Raley and Robert Allison.

Hicks and Warnecke also took home the first place prize in the Nelson Flight. Defending champions, DJ and David Allen came up short in their bid to defend the title, but finished in second place in the Nelson flight with a -10.5 point total.

In the Hogan flight, Chris Cummings and Sam Floca earned a comeback victory with an excellent round of +3.75 points. Joel Broussard and Trip Owen led the first two days, but couldn’t match the strong play of Cummings and Floca, slipping to second place in the flight.

In Crenshaw flight action the team of David Morrison and Doyle Feaster made a big move on Sunday to claim the flight championship. Going into the final round Morrison and Feaster trailed the leader by 5.5 points, but an impressive round of +5.75 points vaulted them to the top of the leader board. Dwayne Johnson also used a round of +5.75 points to jump into a second place finish in the flight.

Dan Raley and Robert Allison added the Kite flight title to their second place finish in the overall standings. Raley and Allison erased a 3.5 point deficit with a round of +5.25 points on Sunday. Ron and Winn Keeney had to settle for second place in the flight after leading heading into the final round.

Tournament Web site

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

STPGA Assistants Championship

The TaylorMade Southern Texas PGA Assistants Championship was just completed at Eagle Pointe in Mont Belvieu. Here's the report from the STPGA:

Stephen Ubernosky, an assistant professional at The Deerwood Club in Kingwood, posted a 36-hole score of 68-71—139 to win the 2007 TaylorMade-adidas Southern Texas PGA Assistants Championship at Eagle Pointe Golf Club in Mont Belvieu.

Ubernosky’s finished one stroke ahead of Thomas Wolfenberger for the championship and earned $1,500.

Wolfenberger, an assistant professional at Houston’s Pine Forest Country Club, earned $1,000 for his second place finish.

Tony Johnson, an assistant professional at Escondido in Horseshoe Bay, finished in third place at 73-71—144 for $800 in earnings.

As the top three golfers in the STPGA tournament, Ubernosky, Wolfenberger and Johnson will advance to the national TaylorMade-adidas Golf PGA Assistant Professional Championship, to be played Oct. 25-28, 2007, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Magnus Dohlvik of The Academy at La Cantera in San Antonio, and Steve Parker of Houston’s Northgate Country Club, finished in a fourth-place tie at 146 and took home $650 each.

Parker won a playoff to be designated the first-alternate qualifier for the national tournament.


Top 5 Finishers
Stephen Ubernosky, Kingwood, 68-71-139, $1,500.00
Thomas Wolfenberger, Houston, 72-68—140, $1,000.00
Tony Johnson, San Antonio, 73-71—144, $800.00
Magnus Dohlvik, San Antonio, 71-75-146, $650.00
Steve Parker, Houston, 72-74—146, $650.00