Friday, February 29, 2008

STPGA Scholarships Now Open for Application

If you're a junior golfer, or the parent of one, you'll want to take a look at the college scholarship funds available through the Southern Texas PGA Foundation. Each year the STPGA doles out thousands of dollars - $263,000 total, to 118 students, since 1999. A total of $21,500 is available this year.

Available scholarships are described below. Deadline for applications is April 2, 2008, and winners are announced on May 16. To get your application, visit the "Junior Golf and Scholarships" on the STPGA Web site (you can also visit STPGA offices at 21604 Cypresswood Dr., Spring, 77373). Requirements for application (GPA, residency, etc.) are also described on the STPGA page.

  • The Nicholas Battle Scholarship, named after a junior golfer who passed away in an accident, is valued at $3,000 and is available to all applicants.

  • Three Tommy Aycock Scholarships, named after the late PGA Professional who won the STPGA Section Championship six times, will be presented in 2008. Valued at $1,000 each, the Tommy Aycock scholarships will be awarded to students residing in the five-county area (Nueces, San Patricio, Aransas, Kleberg, Wells, Bee and Refugio counties) around which Aycock spent much of his career.

  • A $2,000 Hardy Loudermilk Scholarship, named for a long-time San Antonio golf professional who earned national PGA Golf Professional of the Year honors in 1968. The Hardy Loudermilk Scholarship will be presented to a student who resides in Bexar County, Comal County, Guadalupe County, Kendall County, Atascosa County, Medina County, Wilson County or Bandera County.

  • The Joe Finger Scholarship, valued at $2,000, was created in 2004 by the members of Riverhill Country Club in Kerrville, and Mark Caldwell, the club’s head golf professional. It is named in honor of the late golf course architect, Joe Finger— Riverhill is one of many course designed by Finger. The scholarship will be awarded to a resident of Kerr County.

  • The Byron Nelson Scholarship was created in 2004 by members of Riverhill Country Club— Mark Caldwell, Riverhill’s head golf professional, heads up fundraising efforts for the scholarship. The scholarship is named for the record-setting Hall of Fame professional golf, who teamed with Joe Finger to design Riverhill’s golf course. The scholarship, valued at $2,000, will be presented to a resident of Kerr County.

  • The Joe Moore Scholarship, valued at $1,000, is available to all STPGA Foundation Scholarship applicants. It is named for and was created by a San Antonio golfer whose history includes two San Antonio Amateur Championships and a role on a late-1940s NCAA Championship team at Louisiana State University. Moore, a member at San Antonio’s Woodlake Country Club, was the head golf professional at Lackland Air Force Base’s golf course when he retired in the 1980s and played on the PGA Tour for several years.

  • A pair of George Hannon Scholarships, valued at $2,500 each, will be presented to students whose primary residence lies with the Austin area (Travis County and the counties contiguous to Travis County). The George Hannon Scholarships are named for the former University of Texas golf coach who served as the president of the Southern Texas PGA in 1972-73 and was twice honored as the STPGA Golf Professional of the Year. Hannon is a member of the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame.

  • Established this year, the Ross T. Collins Scholarship is valued at $1,000. It was created by the members of Kerrville’s Riverhill Country Club to honor Ross Collins, the 1972 PGA of America Golf Professional of the Year. Collins spent the last six years of his career as the head golf professional at Riverhill and retired in Kerrville. The Ross T. Collins Scholarship will be awarded to a resident of Kerr County.

  • The new Bill Sitton Sr. Scholarship, valued at $2,500 annually (for four years; a total of $10,000) and renewable for up to four years, is available to all STPGA Foundation scholarship applicants. It was created to "assist aspiring college-bound students with furthering their educations." Billy Sitton Jr., the managing director of Club Corp’s international office, said the scholarship honors "a hard-working guy who enjoyed golf and introduced me to it." The Bill Sitton Sr. Scholarship is available to all applicants.
  • Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Whispering Pines Leads Again in DMN Course Rankings

    For the third year in a row, Whispersing Pines Golf Club in Trinity has been named the best golf course in Texas in the Dallas Morning News' annual golf section.

    The cover story, however, is an interesting read about the DFW area's impact on the national (and world) golf scene. It is teased thusly:

    Barney Adams used to sell his custom clubs out of Hank Haney's Golf Ranch in McKinney. About a decade later, Plano-based Adams Golf has 16 staff pros, the leading hybrid club on three tours combined, and sixth-best market share in iron sales. Haney's empire includes the industry's biggest giant, Tiger Woods. Adams and Haney are two examples of the Dallas area's impact on golf.


    You can read that cover story and check out all the rankings at the DMN's Texas Golf 2008 index page. Unless you've registered previously, you'll need a password to fully explore the section. If you don't want to register with the site, visit bugmenot.com to find a password you can use.

    It's the course rankings and awards that always draw the most attention (and scrutiny). Here are the category winners:

    Best Course: Whispering Pines Golf Club, Trinity
    Best New Course: The Club at Cordillera Ranch, Boerne
    Best Course (most expensive category): Crown Colony Country Club, Lufkin
    Best Course (high-priced category): The Rawls Course, Lubbock
    Best Course (mid-priced category): Memorial Park Golf Course, Houston
    Best Course (economy category): Comanche Trail (Arrowhead Course), Amarillo
    Best 9-Hole Course: Starr Hollow, Tolar

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Lamanna's New Video Tips

    Our old friend Michael Lamanna - formerly the director of instruction at the Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, now holding the same position at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. - has a new series of golf instruction videos posted at About.com. One of them is below; the rest are here.

    (I originally had one of the videos embedded here, but removed it because it's too wide for my template. So just go to the links above to view.)

    TGA South Four-Ball

    In the Texas Golf Association's South Four-Ball Championship, the winning team was John Dowdall of Houston and Jonathan Shipley of Katy. Here is the report from the TGA:

    With weather more like June than February many teams in the TGA South Region Four-Ball took advantage of excellent scoring conditions in the final round, leading to a close and exciting finish. John Dowdall of Houston and Jonathan Shipley of Katy caught fire on the back side with a seven under par 29 in route to a nine under par 63 to pass first round leaders Joey Gullion of Humble and Chris James of Austin to win by one stroke. Four teams tied for third, three shots off the pace.

    After a bogey on the first hole to start the round, Dowdall and Shipley birdied the next two holes and added another on the par five sixth hole to turn at two under par. Then the fun began as they birdied three of the first four holes on the back side, and on the par four 14th Dowdall holed out from the fairway for an eagle. Although this was the first time for the winning team to play together in a TGA event, they have some history together in come from behind wins. It was just last August that Shipley led Dowdall in the South Region Mid-Am with three holes to go only to suffer a double bogey and bogey over that stretch, allowing Dowdall to claim the victory.

    There was also a close finish in the Senior Division. 2005 Champions Bob Smith and Doug Escue of Houston were tied for the lead after the first round with Mike Arnold of San Antonio and Rusty Marshall of Schertz, two ahead of 2006 Champions Mike Rice and Jerry Hudgins of Houston. Rice and Hudgins shot the low round of the tournament with a 10 under par 62, but Smith and Escue almost matched them with a 63, which was good enough for a one stroke victory.


    Full Results

    TGA North Four-Ball

    The Amarillo pair of Casey Weiss and Luke Kane won the Texas Golf Association's North Four-Ball Championship over the weekend. Here's the report from the TGA:

    Players were greeted by a cold, cloudy morning for the final round of the 2008 North Four Ball Championship at the Golf Club at Castle Hills in Lewisville . Players battled through the cold for much of the morning until some much needed sunlight gave the players relief from the elements.

    As the temperatures rose, scores began to drop throughout the afternoon. There was a familiar result in the Senior Division as defending champions Chip Stewart and Larry Thomas again took home the title. Stewart and Thomas broke out of a three way tie to earn a one shot victory with rounds of 69 and 71. John Granger and Jody Vasquez tied for second with Gary Seaman and Don Seaman after identical rounds of 69 and 72.

    In the Open Division the team of Casey Weiss and Luke Kane took home the title with two rounds of 67 for a 134 total. Weiss and Kane, both of Amarillo , used a three hole birdie stretch from holes 10-12 on their way to a five shot victory. The team of Lewis Stephenson and Bob Neal finished in second place with rounds of 70 and 69. There was a five way tie for third place including the team of David Garrity and Andy Braun, both members of Castle Hills.


    Full Results

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    From the NTPGA

    A couple notes to pass along from the Northern Texas PGA:

    • The 2008 Texas Women's Open has been set for June 25-26 at Eastern Hills Country Club in Garland. The field is limited to the first 120 professional and amateur golfers to register, with the following player exempt they choose to participate: past champions; the top 15 professionals and ties from the 2007 Texas Women's Open; the top 10 amateurs and ties from the 2007 Texas Women's Open; PGA members and apprentices; and LPGA members. Shannon Fish, a member of the University of Texas women's golf team, is the defending champion. Entry forms will be available beginning April 25. See ntpga.com for more info.

    • The NTPGA has also announced additional opportunities for junior golfers, ages 7-18, in the form of the Camp Olympia NTPGA Spring Break Series, four tournaments in the DFW Metroplex and three in West Texas scheduled from March 11-20. Also, the Azalea Trail Junior Golf Classic will be played at Hollytree Country Club in Tyler on March 14. The Spring Break Series and the Azalea Trail event are open to members of the NTPGA Junior Golf Foundation. Visit juniorgolf.ntpga.org for more info.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    More Border Fence Shenanigans

    I wrote a couple weeks ago about some of the oddities of the proposed border fence that the federal government is planning in an effort to stem the flow of illegal aliens into Texas. For example, in Brownsville and Eagle Pass, the fence will cut off golf courses from the rest of the city. The golf courses in question would actually be outside of the current proposed fenceline.

    Now comes word that another course near Brownsville - the River Bend Resort, which is an RV resort and golf facility - is being oddly affected by the border fence. Or perhaps "unaffected" is the better choice of words. And perhaps it's not so odd what seems to be happening (or not happening). After all, remember the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.


    Tamez, a nursing director at the University of Texas at Brownsville, is one of the last of the Spanish land grant heirs in Cameron County. Her ancestors once owned 12,000 acres. In the 1930s, the federal government took more than half of her inherited land, without paying a cent, to build flood levees.

    Now Homeland Security wants to put an 18-foot steel and concrete wall through what remains.

    While the border wall will go through her backyard and effectively destroy her home, it will stop at the edge of the River Bend Resort and golf course, a popular Winter Texan retreat two miles down the road. The wall starts up again on the other side of the resort.

    "It has a golf course and all of the amenities," Tamez says. "There are no plans to build a wall there. If the wall is so important for security, then why are we skipping parts?"


    And it's not like River Bend isn't already seeing its share of aliens using it to cross into Texas. Now, it's going to present a gap in the wall? Who dreams up this stuff?

    A visit to the River Bend Resort in late January reveals row after row of RVs and trailers with license plates from chilly northern U.S. states and Canadian provinces. At the edge of a lush, green golf course, a Winter Texan from Canada enjoys the mild, South Texas winter and the landscaped ponds, where white egrets pause to contemplate golf carts whizzing past. The woman, who declines to give her name, recounts that illegal immigrants had crossed the golf course once while she was teeing off. They were promptly detained by Border Patrol agents, she says, adding that agents often park their SUVs at the edge of the golf course.

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    And Byron Nelson Qualifying, Too

    A couple days ago we reported on the qualifying rounds for the Shell Houston Open. Now qualifying registration is also open for the PGA Tour EDS Byron Nelson Classic. Non-PGA Tour members attempting to qualify must first go through pre-qualifying, which takes place Tuesday, April 15, at Sherrill Park in Richardson (with Firewheel in Garland as an overflow site). Those making it through pre-qualifying move into the Open Qualifier (a k a, the Monday qualifier) on April 21 at Sherrill Park.

    Entry deadline for the pre-qualifier is 5 p.m. Friday, April 11. You can find more info, and entry forms, at ntpga.com.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Houston Open Qualifying: Wanna Try?

    Want to try to qualify for a PGA Tour event this year? If you are a professional or an amateur with a very low handicap, you can take a shot in the Pre-Qualifying tournament played prior to each of Texas' PGA Tour stops.

    First to release info about its qualifying stages is the Shell Houston Open, played this year April 3-6 at Redstone Golf Club (Tournament Course) in Humble.

    The pre-qualifier is planned for March 26 at Cypresswood Golf Club (Tradition Course) in Spring. The top 50 in the pre-qualifier advance to Open Qualifying (what is traditionally known as the Monday qualifier).

    So, how do you get into the pre-qualifier? Any professional who is does not have status on the PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour is eligible, along with amateurs whose handicap index is low enough to generate a 2.0 or lower course handicap at Cypresswood Traditions. Entry fee is $200, and the deadline to register is March 21.

    The Open Qualifier follows on March 31, also at Cypresswood.

    For more info, visit stpga.com, click "Tournaments," and look for the Shell Houston Open Qualifying page. You can also call the STPGA office at 832-442-2406.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    STPGA 2008 Senior Series

    The Southern Texas PGA 2008 Senior Series schedule has 10 tournaments, beginning March 17-18 at Horseshoe Bay, the STPGA has announced.

    The STPGA Senior Series is open to golfers aged 50 and above as of Nov. 1, 2008. Annual membership dues are $125 and include eligibility for Senior Series tournaments, a dozen Bridgestone golf balls, as STPGA Senior Series Club Glove headcover, as STPGA Senior Series golf cap, as STPGA Senior Series Sharpie and a copy of the 2008-09 USGA Rules of Golf.

    Professionals playing in Senior Series events compete for cash; amateurs for merchandise certificates. And those golfers who finish in the Top 6 on the season-ending points list earn spots in the field at the 2008 Texas Senior Open Championship.

    The 10 tournaments on the 2008 schedule are all 36-hole stroke play events with tournament entry fees of $150. Players compete in one of two divisions, the Senior Division (ages 50-57) and Super Senior Division (58 and over).

    Here is the schedule:

    • March 17-18 - Horseshoe Bay Open, Horseshoe Bay Resort; entry deadline March 12
    • April 14-15 - Eagle Pointe Open, Eagle Pointe Golf Club in Mont Belvieu; entry deadline April 9
    • May 5-6 - The Woodlands Open, The Woodlands Country Club (Gary Player Course); entry deadline April 30
    • June 16-17 - Traditions Club Open, The Traditions Club in Bryan; entry deadline June 11
    • July 21-22 - River Crossing Open, River Crossing Golf Club in Spring Branch; entry deadline July 16
    • Aug. 11-12 - Houston National Open, Houston National Golf Club in Cypress; entry deadline Aug. 6
    • Aug. 25-26 - Onion Creek Open, Onion Creek Club (North Course) in Austin; entry deadline Aug. 20
    • Sept. 15-16 - Lake Windcrest Open, Lake Windcrest Golf Club in Magnolia; entry deadline Sept. 10
    • Sept. 22-23 - Woodlake Open, Woodlake Golf Club in San Antonio; entry deadline Sept. 17
    • Oct. 6-7 - Tour Championship, River Ridge Golf Club in Sealy; TBA

    Membership information and tournament registration info is available at www.stpga.com.

    Friday, February 08, 2008

    Notebook

    Rounding up a few things spotted on the news wires recently:


    • Lots of interesting stuff in the San Antonio newspaper the past few days. Check out Richard Oliver's profile of LPGA Tour rookie Violeta Retamoza. Violeta is a Mexican national who played collegiately at Tennessee, and recently moved to San Antonio to be near her coach, Tom Relf.

      Tapatio Springs Resort and Country Club is reverting from private to semi-private and opening 20 tee times a day for non-members. Those tee times will cost only $35, which is a great deal at Tapatio.

      And Gaylord Entertainment Company is now saying that its proposed purchase of the Westin La Cantera Resort is "not a high priority." One analyst is quoted saying he doesn't think the deal will go through.

    • If you're in Dallas and want to hear a legend speak, check out the Executive Women's Golf Association "Tee Party" on Feb. 25. Kathy Whitworth is featured speaker. The event is a fund-raiser for the EWGA; tickets are $40.

    • Austin golf course architect Roy Bechtol finally has a decent Web site online. Check it out at www.bechtolgolfdesign.com. Taking a look at Roy's "Courses in Planning" page reveals that Bechtol has a slew of projects in Texas on his docket: five projects planned in Austin; another half-dozen in the Hill Country; several on the coast around Corpus Christi; even one in Laredo. Of course, "in planning" could mean "in five years," or "it might never get built, but we're hoping it will" ... Still, it's surprising to see one architect with so many Texas courses in the planning stages.

    • Former University of Texas women's golf team star Perry Swenson will be featured in all 12 episodes of the Golf Channel's "Road Trip: Myrtle Beach." The first episode aired Feb. 5. Swenson, Charlie Rymer and musicians Josh Kelley and Mark Bryan play courses around Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the "reality series."

    Golf Courses for Illegals?

    So the U.S. government wants to build a big fence along the Texas-Mexico border, and to start that process it is attempting to send in surveyors. But at least in a couple places, the local governments are balking, and telling the surveyors to get lost. What gives?

    Well, in Brownsville and Eagle Pass, the proposed fenceline doesn't precisely follow the Rio Grande, but rather slices across Texas territory, separating spits of U.S. soil from the rest of those cities.

    What does this have to do with golf? In both Brownsville and Eagle Pass, the cities would be one side of the fence, but golf courses would be on the other. What's up with that?

    In Brownsville, the proposed fence line would separate University of Texas-Brownsville and Texas Southmost College from Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course. The schools are inside the fence, the golf course would be outside the fence.

    Huh? The fence-builders say they'll put a door in the fence to allow golfers access to the course. Double-huh? Let me get this straight: You say you want a fence to keep illegal aliens out. So you build a fence that cuts off some Texas territory from the rest of Texas. Then to get around that problem, you put a door in the fence. A door in the fence. What, do you place to put an "Exit only" sign on that door and expect the illegals to abide by that rule?

    No matter what you think of the idea of a border fence, you must admit that building a fence that cuts off parts of the state - and a fence with a door in it - seems pretty silly.

    More on the Brownsville fence and golf course here; more about Eagle Pass here.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    TGA Tournament Registrations Open

    Registration is now open for several coming Texas Golf Association state championship tournaments. Golfers can register now to play the following tournaments (listed with their play dates and sites):

    • North Region Four-Ball: Feb. 23-24, Club at Castle Hills, Lewisville
    • South Region Four-Ball: Feb. 23-24, South Shore Harbor, League City
    • North Region Mid-Amateur: March 28-30, Split Rail GC, Aledo
    • South Region Mid-Amateur: March 28-30, Lake Windcrest GC, Magnolia
    • Texas State Amateur: June 5-8, Houston CC, Houston


    In addition, registration for the State Club Team Championship opens on Feb. 11. For information about any of these tournaments, such as qualification criteria, visit txga.org.

    Monday, February 04, 2008

    PGA Tour Sells Naming Rights to TPC San Antonio Courses

    This isn't likely to have much impact except to the bottom line, but it's interesting because it's something that's rarely seen in golf. Selling naming rights to stadium and arenas is a given these days; and major corporations sign on as title sponsors to golf tournaments, tennis tournaments, college football bowl games and all kinds of other major sporting events.

    But selling the naming rights to a golf course? Not very common.

    That's what the PGA Tour has done, however, in San Antonio, with the two TPC courses now under construction that will be a part of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa. The two courses, one designed by Pete Dye, the other by Greg Norman, and both certain to be the new homes of the city's PGA Tour and Champions Tour tournaments, will be known as the AT&T Oaks Course and the AT&T Canyons course, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

    Officials with AT&T and PGA Tour wouldn't discuss financial terms of AT&T's sponsorship, but PGA Tour Director of Business Development Jody Brothers said the agreement would last "definitely more than 10 years."

    "San Antonio is an important market to us," said Jamie Burke, AT&T vice president of brand integration. "Not just because it's our hometown. It also attracts visitors from around the globe. This is about our branding, but it's also about having a great way to showcase our products and services."


    Will golfers visiting the resort notice anything other than the name? According to the newspaper:

    AT&T will provide innovative phone, Internet and video services at the courses, Burke said. It could, for example, provide equipment that allows visitors to film their lesson with golf pros, then send digitized versions of their lessons to their home computers, she said.

    "I could see a situation where there's wireless scorekeeping with hand-held devices out on the course," PGA Tour's Brothers said. "When the guest gets done, they'll realize they had a fantastic time, and AT&T was behind some of the programs."