Monday, December 31, 2007

Down at the Ol' Pea Patch ...Make That the New Patch

The Beaumont newspaper had a nice story recently about The Patch golf course in Groves and the two childhood friends who bought it, fixed it up and reopened it.

The course used to be named Port Groves Golf Club, but locals had always referred to it as "the old pea patch" because of its often questionable conditions. But Brad Bailey and Dwayne Romero always had plans for the 9-holer, the Beaumont Enterprise reports:

"I was a pitcher, and Dwayne was a catcher through the youth leagues and on the Port Neches-Groves baseball team," said Bailey, now 42 and also mayor of Groves. "We used to say that when we won the lottery, we were going to buy the Pea Patch and fix it up."

Well, Bailey and Romero, now a real estate developer in Aspen, Colo., haven't won the lottery, but they have bought the Pea Patch, and boy, have they ever fixed it up.

"In March of '06 when I was in Aspen on a skiing trip, Dwayne and I were sitting around sipping on coffee, and he said, 'What do you think about us making a run at the Pea Patch?'" said Bailey. "Over the years, he and I had purchased some properties together, so we decided to take a stab at this one.

"We sent a letter and a check for $35,000 to the Doornbos family as earnest money, and we eventually wound up putting together an agreement."

While closure on the deal didn't take place until months later, work on the course and the clubhouse actually began soon after it closed.

"It was almost sad to see the course the way it had deteriorated," said Bailey. "There was still a lot of hurricane damage, and it needed an enormous cleanup.

"We took out seven or eight trees; we planted 25-to-50 new trees; we pruned dozens of other trees. We started cutting the grass and weeds back to a manageable level.

"We put in 11 new tee boxes; we re-sodded all of the greens, and all of the greens and tee boxes are now fully irrigated by well water. We enlarged the putting green to 4,400 square feet - before, if more than three or four golfers tried to putt at one time, they were rubbing elbows with each other.

"We dug in three new ponds, and we enlarged another. We put in a covered scoreboard area with tables and chairs. It's what I call the fussin' and cussin' corner for the guys when they're getting their games organized and for when they're settling up after the games. And there's a covered patio out back with tables, chairs and a television."

By "we," Bailey meant himself, hired workers and, most importantly, dozens upon dozens of volunteer workers. By all means, The Patch is the result of a total community effort.

Bailey goes on to describe the work in more detail, and gives a shoutout to golf course personnel in Beaumont and Port Arthur who helped Bailey and Romero out in the project:

"I also want to stress the cooperation we received from George Brown of Aquila Golf, who sold us 25 golf carts and how wonderful Clint Martin (the professional at Bayou Din Golf Club) and Ed Campbell (the pro at Babe Zaharias Memorial Golf Course) have been in giving us pointers," said Bailey. "Also, Bryan Jackson, who is a Class A superintendent (now at Belle Oaks Golf Club), was most helpful as a consultant for our green work."

Read the full story.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

UT Golf Club Clubhouse Destroyed by Fire

(Photo by Karen Phillips/KVUE)

The new, $8 million clubhouse at the University of Texas Golf Club was nearly complete and two months away from its grand opening. But on Wednesday, most of that clubhouse was destroyed when fire broke out, was whipped up by high winds, and consumed the structure.

According to the Austin American-Stateman report, the clubhouse was 70-percent complete and due to be 22,000 square feet in size. Thirty-mph winds pushed the fire, which was first spotted on the roof, quickly through the entire building. No other buildings were affected by the fire, which, because of the winds, took firefighters about 90 minutes to bring under control.

Firefighters said the building is a total loss.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mabank's Adrienne Gautreaux on Next "Big Break"

adrienne gautreaux - big break kaanapaliTexas will have a representative on the next "Big Break" series on the Golf Channel. Adrienne Gautreaux, who was born in Dallas and raised in Mabank, will take her golf game and her very thick, very wonderful Texas twang to the airwaves beginning in the spring on "Big Break: Kaanapali."

At Mabank High School, Gautreaux was the four-time MVP of the golf team, and also found time to play on the basketball, tennis and track teams, plus serve on student council, on the school newspaper staff, and earn her way into the Beta Club and Honor Society.

Adrienne started her college career at Sam Houston State, where she was the MVP of the women's golf team in 2000. She later transferred to, and graduated from, the University of South Carolina. She posted one collegiate victory and in 2004 was a member of the All-SEC team.

Gautreaux turned pro in 2004 and has spent all or part of the past four seasons on the Futures Tour. Her best so far was 2005, when she played in 18 tournaments and made 11 cuts, including her best finish to date, a tie for fourth. Adrienne was 51st on the money list that year. She was runnerup in the 2006 Texas Women's Open.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TGA Expanding Statewide League Play in 2008

News from the Texas Golf Association:

Dallas, TX -- The Texas Golf Association is pleased to announce new, exciting changes for Statewide League Play for 2008. League Play was started by the TGA in 2006 with a single conference of 8 teams in the D/FW area. In its second year League Play grew to 28 teams in 5 conferences in Dallas (3), Houston (1), and Austin (1). The TGA expects League Play to continue to grow and hopes to add conferences in new regions throughout the state. Male golfers from TGA Member Clubs (ages 21 and older) from all skill levels are encouraged to enter a team and participate in this unique and exciting team event.

New for 2008, there will be both a spring and fall season. The spring season will be played on Thursday afternoons from March 6th through May 8th, with the finals being played May 22-23 at The Hyatt Lost Pines Resort in Bastrop, TX. The entry deadline for the spring season is February 13th with an entry fee of $500 per team (visit to print an official entry form). The fall season will be played from August 28th through October 30th, with the finals being played November 13-14. If a club chooses to enter a team for both seasons, and does so by the February 13th deadline, the entry fee is reduced to only $900 per team.

League Play is offered to all TGA member clubs for 2008. However, a minimum of 4 teams from a specific geographic region is required to establish a new conference. League play gives male amateur golfers the opportunity to play competitive rounds in a team atmosphere on quality golf courses, while building friendships and camaraderie with fellow club members. Players receive their full handicaps as reported on the GHIN handicap system.

In League Play, a team of (8) eight players square off against another team within their conference in 4 separate Four Ball matches and 8 Singles matches, simultaneously. Matches are scheduled for Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. The winner is the team that accumulates the most points in the overall match. At the end of the season the conference winners will advance to the statewide playoff matches to be conducted on neutral sites. For a complete explanation of the League Rules visit the TGA official website.

The entry deadline for the spring season is fast approaching. For more information please see the League Play homepage, under "Championships" on or contact the TGA office at (214) 468-8942.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Midland Pair Wins Texas Team Challenge

Midland golfers Brian McKinley and Steven Young teamed up to take the trophy at the TaylorMade-adidas Texas Team Challenge, played recently at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in San Antonio.

The tournament features twosomes of golf professionals from both the Northern Texas PGA and Southern Texas PGA.

McKinley and Young posted rounds of 67-64, good for a 13-under 131 total. But they were forced to a playoff by the Benbrook team of Michael Henderson and Troy Denton before being crowned champions.

Philip Bleakney and Vince Jewell of Dallas finished third.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Houston's Altemus Heads STPGA Award Winners

The Southern Texas PGA has announced its award winners for 2007, with David Altemus - director of golf at Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston - being named Golf Professional of the Year.

What follows is the news release from the STPGA. It's rather lengthy, but everyone gets their due ...

David Altemus, the director of golf at Houston’s Royal Oaks Country Club, has been named the Southern Texas PGA’s 2007 Golf Professional of the Year. Altemus is the 40th winner of the STPGA’s highest honor.

The first STPGA Golf Professional of the Year award went to the late Hardy Loudermilk, shortly after the STPGA’s creation in 1968. The winner of the award is chosen on the basis of his or her overall performance as a golf professional, level of service to the STPGA and to the Association, leadership, image and ability to inspire fellow professionals and other criteria.

“Obviously, this is one of the best honors you, as a Southern Texas PGA golf professional, can receive,” said Altemus, 37 years old and one of the youngest winners in the history of the award. “Just being nominated was a surprise, but to win the award is a real honor.”

Altemus, who has also been named the STPGA’s 2007 Eastern Chapter Merchandiser of the Year, has been a member of the PGA of America since 1996. He achieved that status when he was an assistant professional in Pennsylvania. He began his career in the northeast in 1993 and relocated to Texas to take an assistant professional position at the Golf Club at Cinco Ranch in Katy in 1997. Altemus became the head golf professional at Royal Oaks, then under construction, in 1999 and became the club’s director of golf in 2004.

Altemus was promoted to his current position when Paul Levy, the vice-president of club operations for Sunrise Colony Company, left Royal Oaks to relocate to the management company’s Toscana Country Club, where he serves as general manager and chief executive officer. Levy served as the STPGA’s president in 1999 and 2000 and was its Golf Professional of the Year in 2000

“I owe a lot to Paul Levy. He’s the one who brought me to Texas and Cinco Ranch, and he got me involved in the Southern Texas PGA’s leadership,” said Altemus, who was elected to the Section’s Board of Directors three years ago. Altemus is currently serving as president of the STPGA’s Eastern Chapter.

“My involvement in the Southern Texas PGA is, I’m sure, why I received this year’s Golf Professional of the Year award,” Altemus said. “I’ve tried to dedicate myself to helping the STPGA get better and to helping our professionals improve themselves. My passion really is helping make the game of golf better . . . I love what I do and I thank God every day that I do what I do for a living.”

Altemus has previously been recognized as the STPGA Merchandiser of the Year (in 2004) and was four times honored as the Section’s Eastern Chapter Merchandiser of the Year. (prior to 2007). He was the Eastern Chapter Golf Professional of the Year for 2006.

Altemus and his fellow 2007 STPGA award winners will be formally presented with their honors during the STPGA’s 2008 President’s Dinner, to be held Feb. 17 at San Antonio Country Club.

The bi-annual Dick Forester Quarter Century Award is presented to a professional who, in addition to having been a PGA member for 25 years, has “has promoted golf, inspired fellow professionals, provided leadership and service to the Section and the Association.” The winner of the award for 2007 is Bob Putt. The general manager and chief operating officer at Columbia Lakes Resort and a Life Member of the PGA, Putt was the 1993-94 president of the Southern Texas PGA and was twice honored, in 1979 and 1993, as the Section’s Golf Professional of the Year. He was the PGA’s National Merchandiser of the Year (Resort Facilities) in 1980. Putt was the first PGA Professional in Texas to earn “Master Professional”— he achieved that status in 1988.

Marty Fleckman, the director of instruction at Blackhorse Golf Club, is the STPGA’s 2007 Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year. A PGA member since 1976, Fleckman was honored as the STPGA’s Eastern Chapter 2006 Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year, is a member of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. Fleckman played on three University of Houston national champion golf teams and was the 1965 NCAA individual national champion.

The 2007 STPGA Junior Golf Leader, present to a member who focuses his or her efforts on support of junior golf throughout the region, is Kevin Kirk, the director of instruction at the Cypresswood School of Golf in Spring.

The STPGA presents a pair of annual awards that are dedicated to the internal support of PGA member activities and operations within the Southern Texas PGA Section. The STPGA Horton Smith Award is given to recognize outstanding and continuing contributions to improving educational opportunities for PGA members— Alan Wooley, a member of the PGA of America Board of Directors and a past president of the Southern Texas PGA, is the recipient of that award for 2007. Wooley is the director of golf at The Club at Waterford in Austin.

Steve Termeer, the director of golf at The University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, is the 2007 STPGA Bill Strausbaugh Award winner. The award honors members who devote special effort toward club relations and building the image of the game of golf and the golf professional.

Merchandising plays an increasingly vital role in the careers of successful PGA professionals, and the STPGA honors three golf professionals annually for their efforts in that arena. The 2007 STPGA Merchandisers of the Year are: Susie Womack, director of golf at Hyatt Hill Country Golf Club in San Antonio (Resort Facility); Steve Termeer, director of golf at The University of Texas Golf Club in Austin (Private Facility); and Russell Roten, head golf professional at Blackhorse Golf Club in Cypress (Public Facility).

Aaron Chilek, an assistant professional at Austin Country Club, is the 2007 STPGA Assistant Professional of the Year. Chilek has been in the golf business since 1997 and was elected to PGA of America membership in May 2007. He was recognized as one of the “Top 25 Assistant Golf Professionals in the Nation” in Golf Digest’s “Golf Shop 2006 Yearbook.”

The STPGA President’s Plaque Award is given to a member who has provided significant leadership contributions through mentoring and sharing with other PGA Professionals about “Play Golf America” and growing the game of golf, and who is a member of the PGA President’s Council on Growing the Game. Will Borowski, director of instruction at The Club at Cimarron in Mission, is the 2007 honoree in that category.

In addition to the STPGA member awards described above, the Section also presents a number of awards for significant contributions in areas related to the STPGA’s work and functions.

Houston’s Gill Barnett, who represents five companies (Calvin Klein, Club Glove, Bushnell, US Kids and Heritage Creations) in southern Texas, is the STPGA Golf Sales Representative of the Year for 2007. The award is presented to a golf industry salesperson who is actively engaged in the promotion of golf and the support of STPGA golf professionals.

The 2007 STPGA Amateur of the Year is Stacy Lewis of The Woodlands. The annual honor recognizes amateurs whose conduct exemplifies professional ethics at the amateur level.

The STPGA recognizes two junior golfers each year for their strong character, sportsmanship and regard for the ideals upon which golf is based. The 2007 STPGA Junior Golfer of the Year honorees are Caitlin Bliss of Katy and Brenden Redfern of Austin.

The STPGA Media/Public Relations Award recognizes members of the media for their exemplary support and promotion of the game and the PGA professional. Austin’s Ed Clements, is broadcaster with KLBJ-AM, receives that honor for 2007.

Southern Texas PGA Special Service Awards are presented periodically to “friends of the STPGA whose exceptional efforts and donations to golf have not gone unnoticed.” Mary Carriker, director of The First Tee of San Antonio since 2002, is the recipient of a 2007 STPGA Special Service Award.

Each of the Southern Texas PGA’s three Chapters selects its own slate of award winners annually. For 2007, the recipients of those award winners are as follows.

Eastern Chapter: Golf Professional of the Year and Merchandiser of the Year, Jeff Strong, head golf professional at Eagle Pointe Golf Club in Mont Belvieu; Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year, Chris Rowe, head golf professional at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity; Junior Golf Leader, Jennifer Burdette, teaching professional at Blackhorse Golf Club in Cypress; and Merchandiser of the Year, David Altemus, director of golf at Houston’s Royal Oaks Country Club.

Southern Chapter: Golf Professional of the Year, Bruce Haddad, head golf professional at the Kings Crossing Country Club in Corpus Christi; Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year and Junior Golf Leader, Will Borowski, director of instruction at The Club at Cimarron in Mission; and Merchandiser of the Year, Doug DeSive, head golf professional at Corpus Christi Country Club.

Western Chapter: Golf Professional of the Year, Chip Gist, director of golf at The Golf Club at Circle C in Austin; Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year, Tim Hobby, director of instruction at The Club at Sonterra in San Antonio; Junior Golf Leader, Wes Skaggs, head golf professional at Leander’s Crystal Falls Golf Club; and, Merchandiser of the Year, Garry Rippy, the owner of Golf . . . Austin Style.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Plaudits for El Paso's Butterfield Trail

Butterfield Trail Golf Club in El Paso, owned by the city's Department of Aviation and designed by Tom Fazio, has earned recognition from Golf magazine as one of the "Top 10 New Courses You Can Play" in the magazine's Jan. 2008 issue.

Butterfield Trail is No. 2 on the list, trailing only Chambers Bay Golf Course in Washington on the publication's ranking of the 10 best new tracks open to the public.

Golf says of the El Paso course:

Tom Fazio is known for his sylized, flawlessly landscaped, big-budget designs that are as polished as a Beverly Hills trophy wife. At Butterfield Trail, not far from El Paso International Airport, each hole is named for a different Stagecoach stop on the 2,800-mile Missouri-to-San Francisco trail used by the Butterfield Overland Mail Company from 1858 to 1861. The fairways are wide enough to accommodate shots in the roaring west Texas winds, but there are sufficient strategic options to keep you interested. The Trail's final stop is its finest, a classic gambler's par-5 of 566 yards that buttonhooks to the right around a lake. If you want an on-time arrival at the green, your approach had better be letter-perfect.

Back in February we wrote about Butterfield trail here, in a post that included several photos.

Golf Digest has its annual rankings, too, in its Jan. 2008, issue, and Hal Sutton's Boot Ranch in Fredericksburg was named No. 10 on GD's ranking of the Best New Private Courses.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

This and That

Here and there, hither and yon ... in other words, a few notes:

  • The Western Refining All-America Golf Classic in El Paso has been one of the top tournaments in the country for male collegiate golfers for decades. It's even been called "the Masters of College Golf." But now its future looks bleak:

    It's been a late fall tradition that 30 of the nation's top male college golfers have looked forward to for 33 years, but a rule change by the NCAA may make the most recent showcase in November the last.

    The NCAA eliminated the board responsible for deciding what college sporting events would be exempt from a rule that limits the number of playing days for student athletes. The El Paso tournament had previously been an exempt event for golfers.

    For the golfers, the change means that they may have to choose between the El Paso tournament, a sort of all-star event, and regular-season team events that help their teams earn a shot at the national championship.

    "One of my fondest memories as a college player was to be able to play in that tournament," said Buddy Alexander, the men's golf coach at Florida. "It's a travesty."

  • The Valero Texas Open is the biggest fund-raiser on the PGA Tour. What does that mean to the local community? From the San Antonio Business Journal:

    ... more than 50 San Antonio-area children's charities have now received a share of $1.5 million from the record-breaking $8 million generated during this year's Texas Open and the Valero Benefit for Children Golf Classic.


    Golf San Antonio, the longtime organizer of the Valero Texas Open, raised more than $2 million. That money will also benefit a number of area schools and community groups in and around San Antonio.


    The list of recipients includes Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas, the Children's Shelter of San Antonio, Healy Murphy Center, Slam Dunk for Life and the Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children.

    The $1.5 million represents the San Antonio area's share of the $8 million total.

    The remaining funds will be distributed to children's charities throughout the areas where Valero does business.

    In addition, Valero Texas Open organizer Golf San Antonio will award more than $2 million to 200-plus not-for-profit organizations and area schools through its Pro-Am events Birdies for Charity program and Chip In for Schools.

  • Want to buy a Texas golf course? A company, called Fairway Advisors, that specializes in brokering sales of golf courses has two for sale. One is Los Rios Country Club in Plano (view listing), the other is The Shores Country Club in Rockwall (view listing).

    And if you have several million dollars lying around and wind up purchasing one of these courses, just remember: Bogey plays free!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Kelli Kuehne Earns Back LPGA Tour Card

Congratulations to Kelli Kuehne on her fourth-place finish at the Final Stage of LPGA Tour Q-School on Sunday. Kuehne regained her fully exempt status on the LPGA Tour. She was in great position the first three rounds, then stumbled a bit in the fourth round with a 76. But she rebounded with a superb 67 in the pressure-packed final round, becoming one of the 17 players to earn cards for 2008.

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