Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Quaker Ridge to Host 2018 Curtis Cup

Fifth Hole at Quaker Ridge
photo by Evan Schiller
I walked off the 18th green at Quaker Ridge today to find this announcement from the USGA in my inbox:

The United States Golf Association has selected Quaker Ridge Golf Club, in Scarsdale, N.Y., as the host site of the 2018 Curtis Cup Match. The dates of the Match are June 8-10.

This will be the second USGA championship conducted at Quaker Ridge Golf Club. The club hosted the 1997 Walker Cup Match, won by the USA Team over a GB&I Team that included a future U.S. Open champion in 17-year-old Justin Rose. The USA, captained by A. Downing Gray Jr., regained the Cup by an 18-6 margin, having lost two years earlier at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Wales.

“The USGA is excited to return to Quaker Ridge Golf Club for this celebration of women’s amateur golf,” said Daniel B. Burton, USGA vice president and chairman of the Championship Committee. “Quaker Ridge provided a stern and fair test for the 1997 Walker Cup competitors, and we are confident that it will do the same for these elite female amateurs in four years, when the Match is contested for the 40th time.”

Quaker Ridge will become just the third club in the United States to host both the Walker Cup and Curtis Cup, joining The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis (1957 Walker Cup, 1998 Curtis Cup) and Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. (1954 Curtis Cup, 2009 Walker Cup).

“We are honored that the USGA has selected Quaker Ridge Golf Club to host the 2018 Curtis Cup Match,” said Marc Friedman, Quaker Ridge club president. “We are thrilled that outstanding amateur golfers from the United States and Great Britain and Ireland will be competing on the Quaker Ridge course in another historic match. Our members and staff look forward to providing a true test of golf for the players, and a wonderful viewing experience for the spectators.”

Quaker Ridge was founded in 1915 under the name Metropolitan Golf Links and featured a nine-hole course designed by John Duncan Dunn. In 1916, the club name was changed to Quaker Ridge Golf Club and renowned architect A.W. Tillinghast was commissioned to redesign seven holes and create 11 new holes. The course opened in its current configuration in 1918, and Robert Trent Jones (1965), Rees Jones (1993) and Gil Hanse (2009-12) have overseen modifications.

Quaker Ridge has a long history of hosting elite competition, both professional and amateur. It has hosted three Metropolitan Open Championships, including the 1936 championship won by five-time major champion Byron Nelson. It has also hosted four Metropolitan Amateur Championships and four Metropolitan PGA Championships.

The 2018 Curtis Cup will be the 71st USGA championship conducted in the state of New York. On Aug. 4-10, 2014, Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove will host the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck will be the host site of the second U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2016.

The Curtis Cup Match is a biennial team competition contested by female amateur golfers. One team representing the United States and one team representing Great Britain and Ireland alternate hosting the Match. The teams consist of not more than eight players and a captain.

The United States leads the all-time Curtis Cup series with a record of 28-7-3. The United States won the 2014 Match, which was conducted in June at St. Louis (Mo.) Country Club, by a 13-7 margin.
The 2016 Curtis Cup Match will be held June 10-12 at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, near Dublin, Ireland.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Monday, July 28, 2014

Silvertip Brings Out Your Inner Mountain Man

If Grizzly Adams played golf, you’d find him on the tee at Silvertip Resort in Canmore, Alberta. Silvertip is true mountain golf, beginning with several holes in a valley but climbing steadily with a switchback layout until it climaxes with a finishing hole that descends so fast it will make your ears pop. The course rises—and falls—600 feet in total.

It also features panoramic views, crows the size of eagles, gophers, elk, and frequent visits from bears, coyotes, and wolves who take advantage of the property’s two wildlife corridors and certification as an “Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.”

Silvertip is also an eminently enjoyable golf course, with six sets of tees stretching as long as 7,140 yards and as short as 4,822.  Both fairways and greens are heavily contoured so you’ll never have a level lie or a straight putt, yet it never calls for an impossible shot.Many of the holes are visually intimidating but much easier to play than they look—or vice versa depending on how you’re swinging the clubs that day.  The 510-yard eighth looks short but plays long, for example, and brings water into the equation off the tee.  The typical hole on the back nine (if there is such a thing), features a soaring shot from an elevated tee then squeezes your scoring attempt with an approach to an elevated green.

One of the great innovations at Silvertips is the Short Course within the regular track.  Separate tee boxes on every hole create a 2,666-yard par 58 course ideal for the resort guest of any age who can’t handle the length of regular golf course but wants to enjoy the beautiful, thought-provoking green complexes.  It’s ideal for kids or the once-a-year resort golfer who wants to join in the fun.

Silvertip is a modern design by Les Furber that contrasts perfectly with the classic Stanley Thompson courses in the region like Banff Springs and Jasper Park.  It's a must-have on any golf trip to the Canadian Rockies.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Trump Triumphs at Ferry Point

Trump Ferry Point photo by Dave Donelson
Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point
The countdown to the opening of the most significant new course in New York--if not the country--is moving into single digits.  Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point will open next spring and accolades are already rolling in.  I had a private personal tour last week and I'll add my praise to the heap right now.

The single most striking aspect of Ferry Point is its location.  Everyone knows it's built on top of a landfill and that it cost the city of New York a gazillion dollars to build.  We also know that Donald Trump was apparently the only guy with the know-how and cajones to get it finished. What you don't realize until you stand on the first tee, however, is just how mind-bogglingly urban the site is.  You drive under the Whitestone Bridge to get there--something most New Yorkers don't even know you can do!  The bridge itself sets against the sky without dominating the vista, sort of like a citified version of a snow-capped mountain.  The Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, and the rest of the full expanse of the Manhattan skyline is in glorious view on almost every hole.  The Long Island Sound sparkles on the finishing holes and jets are seen but not heard departing LGA and JFK airports. Amid all this urban splendor is a splendid golf course.

Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point will be a challenging but fun track for daily fee duffers while providing a spectacular test for professional championships like the Barclay's, which is strongly rumored to be coming in 2017.  The Jack Nicklaus design currently measures 7,407 yards from the tips, which will probably be longer once the final measurements are in. There are a few details still to be worked out on the course and a temporary clubhouse/grill will be completed this fall, but the golf course is in the final stages of growing in and should be in perfect shape next spring.

Nicklaus provided wide, playable fairways for the daily fee player, with many measuring easily over 50 yards across in places.  They're full of bumps and swales, though, so there will be plenty of irregular tee shot roll-outs in the tradition of links golf.  Fairway bunkering is moderate on most holes, with placement to challenge the big-hitting pros without damaging the chances of a shorter hitter, even from the forward tees.  Fairways and greens are surrounded and separated by thousands of man-shaped moguls to accommodate NY-sized crowds of spectators.

photo by Dave Donelson
The current temporary scorecard lists 6,824 yards as the length from the blue tees.  There is a short par four on each nine (298-yard #7 and 335-yard #11) and the par threes meet my criterion for maximum variety and shot values (#3 is 226 yards, #8 170, #12 139, and #17 142).  Donald Trump made the first-ever hole-in-one on the course, believe it or not, during the first round ever played at Ferry Point. A plaque marks the spot and I love it!

The long holes are really, really long from the blue tees.  Most of the par fours approach 450 yards and will play significantly longer given the wind and green fairways.  The par fives aren't too bad, with the longest clocking in at 570 and the shortest at 466 yards, although it hasn't really been decided whether that hole will play as a par four or five.  I'll be highlighting individual holes from my tour in future posts.

Another decision in the works is creation of a set of tees between the blues and the current whites, which are only 6,071 yards.  While that would be fine for most of us, a length in the 6,200-6,400 yard range would have more appeal.  I also believe there should be a course shorter than the currently-listed 5,278-yard red tees.  The addition of some tees in the 4,000-yard neighborhood would make the course more accessible for youngsters, seniors, and very-occasional golfers.  That's a trend in the industry that's gaining a well-deserved toehold and the Trump organization would make a natural leader in bringing more players into the game.  Where are the stairs? I need to step off my soap box.

Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point photo by Dave Donelson

Although Ferry Point has "links" in it's name, you won't see any brown fairways a la Pinehurst No. 2.  Most golfers believe (erroneously) that green is good and brown is bad, so the turf here will be as green as hundreds of thousands of gallons of water can make it in order to appeal to the daily fee customer.  Playing conditions aside, the green fairways stand out in gorgeous contrast to the brown and yellow fescue in the rough.  It will definitely look fabulous on television (much better than Pinehurst did during the U.S. Open), but it remains to be seen if the course can play hard and fast with fairways that lush.

The design does include other links trademarks, however.  Wind will play a major role in your strategy on every hole since there are no trees or anything else to block it.  The prevailing breeze is from the southwest, but it can swirl in from the northeast off the Sound in a heartbeat.  Nicklaus did a great job on routing the course so that you will never play the same wind on two consecutive holes.

Small but nasty cross bunkers and chocolate drop fescue-covered mounds dot many fairways and make the approaches to some greens a bit more interesting. Many of the greens can be accessed with a bump-and-run or with a putter from the fairway if you take the soft turf into account.   The greens themselves are large enough to support the many pin positions needed for heavy daily fee play.  They are well-contoured but not fun house roller coasters.

Donald Trump threw out the initial permanent clubhouse designs because they didn't meet his high standards, but the facility is expected to be finished next year and promises to have magnificent views of the course, Long Island Sound, the Whitestone Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline, not to mention many of the first class amenities that are standard at Trump's private clubs.

One thing Ferry Point will also have is a practice facility to rival anything in the NY market, public or private.  There's a small warm-up green next to the first tee, but the real practice green is 15,000 square feet. It's next to a 65-yard short game area and not far from the 400-yard driving range that's 120 yards wide.

What makes Ferry Point so significant?  It will be far and away the best daily fee golf experience in the New York market when it opens.  You can count on one hand the truly fine public golf courses within an hour of Manhattan, and on one finger those within fifteen minutes.  That finger points to Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, July 26, 2014

PowerBilt DFX Driver Takes Next Step

Seldom do we equate Mixed Martial Arts with golf, but somehow there is a connection when it comes to the DFX Driver from PowerBilt.  The new iteration of the Air Force One Driver has a muscular feel and "anything goes" look that makes you believe you, too, can pound the bejesus out of your opponent in the, the tee.

DFX stands for Deep Face Extreme and you can see the difference standing over the ball. The clubface is now 5 mm deeper than the previous version, so it gives you a greater opportunity to catch the ball higher on the clubface for greater altitude.  The use of nitrogen under pressure rather than structural bracing inside gives the DFX a larger sweet spot, too.

The Air Force One DFX features Nitrogen N7 "Nitrogen Charged" technology, a newly patented method to reinforce the clubface without adding any weight. The forged titanium body comes with titanium cup face technology, as well as aerodynamic clubhead shaping.

Still not convinced a golf club can crossover to Mixed Martial Arts? Just ask Cub Swanson. PowerBilt has signed the MMA athlete to promote the DFX driver and all of its latest golf equipment.  An avid golfer who grew up mostly in the Palm Springs area, the MMA pro Swanson is part of a new marketing campaign to position PowerBilt with an edgier personality.

The DFX Driver is available in both the high MOI and Tour Series, in lofts of 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5° and 12.5°. Standard shaft length is 45 ½". The club is offered in several leading shaft models from the top OEM shaft brands, so that golfers will achieve the optimum launch angle and spin rate for their unique swing. MSRP starts at $299.99, and there is an upcharge for some shaft models.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Friday, July 25, 2014

Running Deer Challenges Your Game

Everything at Running Deer Golf Club is over-sized--some might even say over-done.  The fairways are collections of large mounds surrounded by impossible ravines, monstrous bunkers, and/or encroaching trees.  Sometimes all on the same hole.  The greens were contoured with a heavy hand, too, so that even if you can reach them in something near regulation, you'll have a tough two-putt to come close to par.

But then, what would you expect from an over-sized owner like ESPN personality and Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame quarterback Ron Jaworski?  Running Deer is one of several golf properties the sports star has collected under the umbrella of Ron Jaworski Golf Management.  Among them are Valleybrook Country Club and Blue Heron Pines, both in New Jersey.  Running Deer is his most recent acquisition.

Skilled players won't have much trouble with Running Deer, but then they don't have much difficulty anywhere, do they?  Anyone who occasionally sprays a tee shot or can't handle anything but a level lie is going to have their work cut out for them, however.  Still, the course is fair--it plays equally difficult for everyone--and all the trouble is right there in front of you.

Running Deer measures 7,100 yards from the tips and 6,400 from the more-reasonable white tees.  There are a few forced carries, but length isn't as necessary as accuracy on almost every hole.  Consider club selection carefully, especially on the short par fours.  And bring an extra sleeve of balls, too, since several holes have water and/or tangled rough not far off the fairway.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Time to Play 9

Play 9 Day

If you haven't started, now is the time to Play 9, the theme of a grow-the-game promotion from the USGA and American Express.  In fact, today has been proclaimed "Play 9" Day and the dynamic promotional duo has created a keen website to help you get into the nine-hole habit.

The site includes a clever PSA starring Rickie Fowler that you may have seen during 2014 U.S. Open. It shows the 25-year-old PGA Tour pro finding time to play the game with family and friends while still fulfilling other daily commitments and interests.

“I don’t always have enough time to play a full round between practice and spending time with friends and family,” said Fowler. “I’m happy to join the USGA and American Express on ‘Play 9’ to encourage golfers to play a nine-hole round, especially if that’s what’s going to get them out onto the golf course to play more often.”

The program is a big part of the USGA’s ongoing efforts to make the game more accessible, sensitive to time considerations and sustainable.

“During our extensive conversations with golfers, we’ve learned that they feel challenged by the time it takes to play,” said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA. “By creating awareness of the nine-hole round, and the many ways that one can enjoy the game in less time, we hope this creative program featuring one of the game’s more dynamic and progressive players will energize and remind golfers how they can fit the game into their days.”

“American Express is excited to partner with the USGA and Rickie Fowler to support the game by encouraging more people to play nine-hole rounds,” said Deborah Curtis, vice president of sports and entertainment marketing at American Express. “With their support, we want ‘Play 9’ to demonstrate how golf can fit into the everyday lives of players – giving golfers everywhere a chance to play more often.”

Industry research indicates there is growing interest in this format of play. According to the National Golf Foundation, 27 percent – more than 4,000 – of America’s courses are nine-hole facilities. In addition, nine-hole rounds can be played at most 18-hole public facilities. However, just 24 percent of total rounds played last year, among those surveyed, were nine-hole rounds.

A separate study conducted in 2013 by Sports & Leisure Research Group for the USGA found that 33 percent of core golfers (those who play eight to 24 rounds annually) and 38 percent of casual golfers (those who play seven rounds or fewer) would play more nine-hole rounds if the format were “more strongly encouraged.”

The “Play 9” program will provide golfers and golf courses with resources that will allow them to celebrate the nine-hole round and the game in a variety of ways, including finding time to enjoy a nine-hole match with friends and post an official score, or even take a lesson.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Great Offer for 2015 Open Championship

Photo little

Have you made your plans for the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews?  If you still have some options, consider a unique offer from the author of St. Andrews – In the Footsteps of Old Tom Morris. Golf historian Roger McStravick has produced a beautiful photo-rich book that guides readers around the historic sites of this ancient town known as The Home of Golf.  The new book presents remarkable new findings about St. Andrews and legendary Old Tom Morris, who is considered golf’s founding father.

In order to publish St. Andrews – In the Footsteps of Old Tom Morris, McStravick, who resides in St. Andrews, has turned to the fund-raising site Kickstarter with the goal of raising $38,000 to cover the print and production costs for 2,000 books with an anticipated late fall or winter 2014 release.  To make a donation to help publish this engaging guide, visit

Here's the unique offer: A pledge of $8,500 will reward the first donor with use of a two bedroom house for seven days during the 2015 Open Championship in St. Andrews, plus a personal tour of the town and lunch in The St. Andrews Golf Club, overlooking the 18th green of the Old Course. Short of a spot playing in the Open, I don't know how you could top that!

McStravick’s exhaustive three years of research in the University of St. Andrews’ golf collection archives resulted in the discovery of new information about Old Tom, many unpublished rare photographs, and unknown stories about the Old Course, including the naming of its bunkers. The 240 page book offers a fresh perspective on St. Andrews and the town’s famous 19th century residents who made it truly special.

An important part of McStravick’s mission in writing St. Andrews – In the Footsteps of Old Tom Morris, is a campaign to get signage on the town’s historic sites so visitors can identify and locate the homes of famous past golf champions. The book’s guided tour starts at Old Tom’s house at 6 Pilmour Links and ends at his grave in the ruins of the cathedral’s cemetery.

McStravick recently produced and wrote scripts for an iPad application, “Golf History with Peter Alliss.”  Roger is an avid collector of rare books on St. Andrews and a keen competitive golfer.  For the 2014 St. Andrews Links Yearbook, he has written a history of the Eden Course, which is enjoying its centenary year, and a story on the evolution of St. Andrews’ Old Course.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf