Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nelson Lands Lee

Nice "get" for the HP Byron Nelson Championship, announced today: Danny Lee.

Lee is the young New Zealander who won the 2008 U.S. Amateur at age 17 - breaking Tiger Woods' record for youngest champion of that event - and ealier this year on the European Tour won the Johnnie Walker Classic at age 18. He thus became the youngest-ever winner on the Euro Tour.

Lee turned pro after The Masters and he'll be playing at the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas in Irving May 21-24. The tournament announced today that Lee has accepted a sponsor exemption.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Here's an Idea: Make LPGA Part of Fiesta San Antonio

The Duramed Futures Tour makes its first visit to San Antonio this week for the Hill Country Classic at The Dominion. And while the weather so far during tournament week has been soggy, and this is the inaugural tournament, my guess is that the Futures Tour players will leave San Antonio believing this is one of the better tournaments on the tour. Playing in a big-time city and at an exclusive club that has previously been home to PGA Tour and Champions Tour events is not something the women on the Futures Tour get to do too often.

But I hope the Futures Tour leaves San Antonio. As long as it is replaced by the LPGA Tour, that is.

Several years ago there were rumors that Buddy Cook and Bill Rogers were trying to bring an LPGA event to Briggs Ranch Country Club. Nothing came of it, mostly because they (reportedly) had trouble drumming up big-dollar sponsors. San Antonio already had PGA Tour and Champions Tour tournaments, after all, and most of the companies in San Antonio at that time that were interested in sponsoring golf were already committed to one or both of those events.

Then, just last year, the folks behind the Texas and Mexico GolfTec franchises landed the Futures Tour. They got a three-year commitment to play the tournament in San Antonio, but they also said their ultimate goal is an LPGA tournament in the Alamo City.

Is the landscape better for an LPGA presence in San Antonio now that it was a few years ago when Briggs Ranch was in the hunt? Well, no, because of the lousy economy.

But here's an idea: Make a future LPGA stop in San Antonio part of Fiesta San Antonio. An official Fiesta event.

The Hill Country Classic this week is being played just a week after Fiesta ended. So our future, theoretical LPGA tournament would only have be moved one week earlier to get into the Fiesta scene. That would have the added benefit of putting a little more space between such an LPGA tournament and the PGA Tour Texas Open, which is now played in May. (Fiesta usually takes place over two weeks in mid-April.)

The LPGA players (and women touring pros in general) are far more willing to sell their tour and its events than are PGA Tour pros - because they have to. They know how to get out there and drum up support. Imagine the early part of tournament week being filled with LPGA players hitting other Fiesta events around town.

They could design their own Fiesta medals and trade them around town with other partygoers. The LPGA could have a float in one (or more) of the parades through Downtown San Antonio (some of which are attended by a quarter-million revelers.) They could model Coronation gowns and visit schools with El Rey Feo.

Imagine the boost in marketing the tournament would get from being tied into Fiesta and the dozens of daily Fiesta events around town. A whole lot of eyeballs would have the LPGA tournament put before them - hundreds of thousands of San Antonians - and probably as many tourists - flock to Fiesta events every year. It's a two-week party, a family-themed Mardi Gras.

And the LPGA tournament could get into the party spirit, too, with on-site Fiesta-themed parties, and with a couple holes designated the "party holes," ala the 16th hole at the PGA Tour's Phoenix tournament. The LPGA could even set up hospitality tents to mimic the biggest Fiesta events - an Oysterbake tent here, a NIOSA tent there.

Think about it. It could work.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Registration Open for Texas State Junior

Ben Crenshaw, Bruce Lietzke, Scott Verplank, Jeff Maggert, Angela Stanford. Those are some of the golfers who have won the Texas State Junior Championship over the years.

The 2009 Texas State Junior, conducted by the Texas Legends Junior Tour, takes place July 27-29 in Austin at Roy Kizer and Jimmy Clay golf courses. There are four divisions of play: Boys 15-18, Boys 14-under, Girls 15-18 and Girls 14-under.

Registration is now open to boys and girls, ages 18-under, who are Texas residents and not yet enrolled in college. The Texas Legends Tour further states on eligibility requirements:

For the boys, there are two different ways to gain entry into the Championship: earning an exemption through play in Legends Junior Tour and prominent national events or earning a spot through local qualifiers. Entry for the girls will be done on a first-come, first-serve basis but entry is limited to the first 108 players (90 Girls 15-18 and 18 Girls 14-under).

Junior golfers need not be members of the TLJT to enter. Registration closes at noon on June 23. For more info, or to register your junior golfer, visit the Texas Legends Junior Tour Web site.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cowboys QB Romo Wins Twice on Golf Course

It was a pretty good week on the golf course for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo: He won two tournaments.

Over the weekend Romo was in Crete, Ill., playing the Will County Amateur Championship. He was three strokes behind entering the final round, but shot 69 and wound up winning by three.

Then Romo high-tailed it back to Texas to play in the Northern Texas PGA's Adams Golf Pro Scratch Championship. Romo and partner Mark Walker won that event on Tuesday by two strokes. For winning that event, Romo, an amateur, receieved a gift certificate. Perhaps he'll use it to buy a going-away present for Terrell Owens.

Here is the report from the NTPGA on the Pro-Scratch:

McKinney – Mark Walker, PGA Member, and his amateur partner, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo captured the Northern Texas PGA Pro-Scratch Championship at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney, Texas. Walker and Romo fired 63 on Tuesday to follow the 65 they shot on Monday for a two round total of 128 (16 under par).

They beat the team of Cameron Doan, Head Golf Professional at Preston Trail Golf Club, and his amateur partner Joel Eastman by two shots. Walker and Romo were paired in the final group with Doan and Eastman and knew exactly where they stood in relation to their fellow competitors. Romo, who turned 29 today, coincidently fired a 29 (seven under par) on the front nine with his partner Mark Walker. Doan and Eastman shot 33 (three under par). Walker and Romo then headed to the back nine with a commanding five stroke lead for the tournament.

However, Walker and Romo lost momentum as they started the back nine with six consecutive pars. Doan and Eastman cut the lead to just one shot after Doan eagled the par five 549 yard 16th hole. However, Walker then proceeded to birdie the 17th hole to open the lead back to two strokes headed to 18. Romo, then secured the two stroke victory with a 10 foot par saving putt on the 18th hole.

The four-ball stroke play Northern Texas PGA major championship featured 83 teams of one PGA professional teamed with one scratch amateur competing at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club (Dye and Hills Courses) located in McKinney, Texas.

The 83 teams competed for a share of the $16,090.00 purse. Walker and Romo shared $1,500.00 for first place. Amateurs were awarded gift certificates.

The full scores of the NTPGA Pro-Scratch are available here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

R&A Brings British Open Qualifier to Texas

Just as the USGA holds qualifying tournaments for golfers trying to play their way into the U.S. Open, so does the R&A hold qualifiers for the British Open. One of those qualifiers is played in the United States for golfers competing on the PGA Tour who cannot get to a qualifying location in Britain or Europe.

And this year, that International qualifier will be played in Plano.

The R&A has placed the qualifier at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano. It's a 36-holer that will award eight golfers with spots in the field for the 2009 British Open. The date of the qualifier is May 25.

Why Plano? The qualifier takes place a day after the conclusion of the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Las Colinas, and before the PGA Tour moves on to the Colonial in Fort Worth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Texas Practice Facilities Get Kudos from GD

Each year, Golf Digest publishes a supplement called the Golf Digest Index. It's one of those golf magazines dedicated to luxury - you know the kind: articles about fast cars, expensive liquors and cigars, and so on.

This year, among the golf articles in the Index was a ranking of the Top 75 practice areas in America. And Texas facilities did pretty good in the rankings. Here are the ones that made the list, along with the short blurb that accompanied each ranking:

19. Dallas National Golf Club. Covering nearly 12 acres, this double-sided range also has three putting greens - two with undulations and one that's flat.

22. The Club at Carlton Woods, The Woodlands. Both courses have a double-sided range and a short-game area where you can practice different lies.

30. Boot Ranch Golf Club, Fredericksburg. "Land was not an issue for this club, and the practice facility reflects it," says one panelist. A three-hole practice course is included.

50. The Vaquero Club, Westlake. The two-sided range accommodates a variety of wind directions. There's also an 8,000-square-foot chipping and putting green.

53. Whispering Pines Golf Club, Trinity. Take your pick from among a double-sided range with 23 covered bays, a three-hole practice course and an indoor area.

62. Briggs Ranch Golf Club, San Antonio. Oak trees let members seek shade without sacrificing quality turf. They can also practice bunker shots of up to 150 yards.

65. Champions Golf Club, Houston. This double-side range has recently had new grass installed. It also has short-game practice areas at each end.

This is a better showing for Texas than in almost any national course ranking I can recall. The bad news, for most of us, is that these are all high-end private clubs and most of us won't have the chance to experience the facilities.

"Get Golf Ready in 5 Days" Program

Polo Field Golf Center in San Antonio was recently refurbished and reopened as the headquarters of the San Antonio First Tee program. The driving range and practice area is inside Brackenridge Park, very close to historic Brackenridge Golf Course.

Now the Polo Field Golf Center will be offering a special instructional program for adults with limited or no golf experience. Have a spouse or sibling you've been encouraging to take up the game? Know some friends who want to learn to play golf?

If you're in San Antonio, point them to the Polo Field program, and if you're another Texas city, check the Play Golf America Web site to find a similar program near you.

The "Get Golf Ready in 5 Days" program will take place at the Polo Field in three different date ranges, May 4-8, May 18-22, or June 8-12. The 2-hour sessions run from 6-8 p.m. each evening, and the 5-day program costs $99.

The sessions of introductory lessons are led by by PGA and LPGA professionals. Pretty sweet price for five lessons with a teaching pro.

Check out the Get Golf Ready section of the Play Golf America Web site. You'll be able to plug in a ZIP Code and find the program nearest you. In San Antonio, call the Polo Field Golf Center at 210-736-9592.

Monday, April 06, 2009

TGA's First State Title of '09 Goes to Memorial Park

The first statewide championship of the 2009 Texas Golf Association tournament calendar was the State Club Team Championship, completed Sunday in Horseshoe Bay. Here is the report from the TGA:

Horseshoe Bay, TX – Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston assembled a trio of TCU alumni to win the 2009 State Club Team title. David Leiss (class of ’80), Aaron Hickman (class of ’03), and Kyle Flodder (class of ’02) all played college golf for the Horned Frogs and reunited to win the first TGA state championship of the year, and the first state title for each of the players. Flodder (76) and Hickman (81) battled in some very tough conditions to card 156 on Sunday which was good enough for a four stroke margin of victory.

The high winds made for very difficult conditions on the Apple Rock course at Horseshoe Bay Resort. Winds were a constant 15-20 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. Some of the best players in the state all shot scores in the 80’s. The scoring average was a full three shots higher on Sunday.

Sherrill Park Golf Course of Richardson finished in second place with a two day total of 301. John Schaefer (78), Mark Motes (78), and Steve Galko (79) were the only team that had all three players shoot in the 70’s on the final day. Steve Galko can thank his teammates for helping him pick up some valuable state player of the year points.

Lakewood Country Club in Dallas and the Medalist Golf Club (North Texas) finished tied for third at 304.

Other Notables
Lewis Stephenson (Medalist Golf Club) was the low individual for the championship with rounds of 70 & 77 for a total of 147.

Grady Bruce (Cimarron Hills C.C.) had the low round of the day on Sunday with a 73 that may have been as equally impressive has Rob Couture’s (Lakewood C.C.) 65 on Saturday.

For the complete results, visit the TGA Web site.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Van Der Walt Goes Low for Adams Tour Title

How low can you go? If you're Dawie Van Der Walt, you can go all the way to 30-under par.

Van Der Walt, a South Africa native now living in Beaumont, blitzed the course and the field to win the Adams Golf Pro Tour Series' Lake Charles Open. The tournament concluded Saturday at Mallard Cove Golf Course in Lake Charles, La.

Van Der Walt posted three consecutive 64s in the first three rounds of the tournament. Then, feeling the final-round pressure, he ballooned to a 66. His 258 total was 30 strokes below par and five shots ahead of runner-up Randy Lowry of Houston.

Top Finishers
Dawie Van Der Walt, Beaumont, 64-64-64-66--258
Randy Lowry, Houston, 65-64-67-67--263
Judd Cornell, Omaha, Neb., 70-68-65-66--269
Jerod Turner, Hurst, 69-67-66-67--269
Mike Wendling, Oklahoma City, 71-66-64-68--269
Casey Clendenon, Houston, 64-69-69-67--269
Full Results