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Monday, February 25, 2013

An Intro To Golf From EWGA Westchester

Whether you are new to golf or want to reconnect to golf for business and social purposes, the Executive Women's Golf Association of Westchester (EWGA) has an event that's perfect for you on March 6 at Westchester Hills Golf Club in White Plains, NY.

EWGA Westchester is teaming up with Elisa Gaudet, author of Two Good Rounds, to present a fun, informative after-work event for women golfers (or women who want to be golfers). You'll rotate through four instructional stations to learn everything you need to know about golf attire, etiquette, basic rules, terminology and how you can get easily involved in the game of golf. There will also be a fun putting competition!

No clubs or golf attire is required--and you don't have to be an EWGA member! The informative indoor session will be followed by an open wine, beer and soda bar and hors d'oeuvres and the opportunity to network with other like minded professional women. Admission is just $25. All attendees will receive a gift and Elisa Guadet will speak about the game and be available for book signings.

For more information, visit EWGAWestchester.com.

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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saint Andrew's Scores First After First

Here are a few historical facts about St. Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings, NY, guaranteed to astound your friends and golf trivia fanatics:

 • Saint Andrew’s is the oldest continuously existing golf club in the United States, established on November 14, 1888.

The first photograph of golf in America.
Harry Holbrook, A.P.W. Kinnan, J.B. Upham, and John Reid
 with caddies Warren and Frederic Holbrook at St. Andrew’s.
photo courtesy of the club
The first photograph of golf in America was taken at Saint Andrew’s in 1888.

The first recorded mixed foursome in America was played at Saint Andrew’s. Mrs. John Reid, paired with J. B. Upham, defeated the team of Miss Carrie Law and John Reid on March 30, 1889.

The first known American golf “clubhouse” with its rudimentary “19th hole” (the famous apple tree) was established at Saint Andrew’s in 1892.

Saint Andrew’s was a participant in the first inter-club team matches played in the US on October 9, 1894, along with Tuxedo (host), Brookline, and Shinnecock Hills. Saint Andrew’s tied for first place with Brookline but was unable to stay another day for a play-off, since the first US Amateur/US Foursome/US Open tournaments (October 11-13) were beginning in two days time at Saint Andrew’s.

Saint Andrew’s was the host of the first U.S. Amateur Championship, held under match-play format (as all the UK tournaments of the period were conducted), in 1894.*  The first U.S. Amateur Championship was won by a Saint Andrew’s member, L. B. Stoddart, in 1894.*

Saint Andrew’s hosted the first US Open Championship, in 1894.*

Saint Andrew’s hosted the first U.S. Foursome (two players per team playing alternate shots) Tournament, in 1894.  Held in conjunction with the above-mentioned U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open championships, this event was short-lived on the national scene.

The team of L.B. Stoddart and J.B. Upham from Saint Andrew’s won the inaugural US Foursomes Tournament, 1894. They defeated another Saint Andrew’s pair, T.C. Ten Eyk and W.E. Hodgeman, in the all-Saint Andrew’s final.

Saint Andrew’s member/official Henry O. Tallmadge suggested and organized the December 22, 1894, meeting of five golf clubs at the Calumet Club in NYC, which resulted in today’s USGA.

Saint Andrew’s published the first Club Yearbook (or Club Handbook) in the U.S. containing a list of members, officers of the club, the various committees, and constitution and by-laws, in 1895.

The first golf club in the U.S. formed by women was the Saegkill Golf Club, organized by Saint Andrew’s women (Mrs. John Reid among them), in 1895.

Saint Andrew’s organized and funded the first U.S. Public Links Tournament at Van Courtlandt Park (the first public course in the U.S.), with a field of 50 golfers officiated by John Reid, in 1896. This tournament was “for players who did not belong to a club in the United States Golf Association.”

Saint Andrew’s member Charles E. Sands won the first-prize gold medal for golf at the Paris Olympic Games in 1900, the first year golf was included in the Olympic Games.

*These championships are regarded by some as unofficial, as they were held prior to the formation of the USGA the following year. However, there is no dispute that they were the first amateur and open national golf championships ever held in the U.S.

For more Westchester golf history, check out the May issue of Westchester and Hudson Valley Magazines.

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Willow Ridge To Host Local US Open Qualifier

Itching to play with the big boys at the US Open at Merion this year? If so, your journey can begin at Willow Ridge Country Club in Harrison. Anybody (almost) can take a shot at competing in the US Open--that's why it's called an "open" !  All you have to do is get through a local qualifier like the one at Willow Ridge, then a sectional qualifying tournament, and you're on your way to Pennsylvania.  Of course, you do need a USGA handicap index of 1.4 or better to get into the local qualifier, but if you start now.....

Willow Ridge CC
Willow Ridge CC. Photo courtesy of the club
Willow Ridge is a great, fun course with plenty of water and multiple-tiered greens to challenge your ambitions.  You can expect some gnarly rough, too, not mention narrower fairways for the qualifier. The event is scheduled for Monday, May 13.

Willow Ridge recently completed some major course improvements that include a few new tees and the re-thinking of the fifth hole, a 380-yard par four that now calls for a straight tee shot instead of a draw.  The trademark ninth and eighteenth holes still play uphill, though, and are bound to dash more than a few hopes for advancement to the sectional qualifier for many players.

The club has been upgrading facilities throughout the property over the last few years. The members invested in a new greens and turf maintenance facility and upgraded utilities along with a fine new practice area recently. The interior of the clubhouse was redone and a 300-person covered alfresco dining terrace overlooking the course was opened at the end of last season.

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

Royal Isabela Sets A New Standard

Royal Isabella
Royal Isabela 12th Hole
Caribbean golf took a giant step forward beyond flat, ho-hum courses with beautiful views but not much challenge when brothers Stanley and Charles Pasarell created the Golf Links at Royal Isabela on Puerto Rico’s northwest coast. Their vision of a daunting links-style course opened in 2011 and is now fully mature and drawing accolades from around the world.

Your round at Royal Isabela takes you over natural dunes, deep canyons, and along breathtaking cliffs above crashing surf. Trade winds shape every shot while native grasses and sod-faced bunkers conspire to push your score over par. Fairways are wide but undulating and the greens are speedy, true, and heavily contoured. It’s a course you’ll want to visit again and again to challenge your game—or perhaps just to experience the natural wonders.

The course stretches over 7,538 yards, par 72, although an optional par 5 can make it play 7,667 yards, par 73. There are six sets of tees. From the blues, it’s a tough but playable 6,675 yards with a course rating/slope of 74.8/144.  It’s sited on 426 acres of ocean-front property that will eventually be home to other courses the brothers have in mind, all part of a larger 1,800 acre community.

You’ll want to rack up as many birdies as you can on the shorter, easier front side because you’ll find opportunities are few and far between on the incoming holes, which play along the ocean edge. The front side plays up and down hills where you’re faced with numerous blind shots and uneven lies. It also ends with an island-green par three that is loads of fun in the wind.

Royal Isabella
Royal Isabela 17th Hole
Royal Isabela really comes to life on the back nine. The par five tenth hole looks like a pushover birdie, but watch out for the green—it’s narrow and slopes strongly from front to back. Above all, stay out of the bunker left of the green or you’ll be blasting out over a sod face that’s higher than your head. There’s an optional “owner’s hole” you can play instead of (or in addition to) the regular par three eleventh. The bonus hole calls for a 125-yard wedge shot you should start over the ocean and hope the wind brings back to the green. Stanley Pasarell calls it the shortest par five in the world.

Other treats on the back nine include the 354-yard twelfth hole which starts with a knee-knocking drive off a cliff followed by a nearly vertical pitch up to a double green perched on a wind-swept precipice. You’ll see the double green again when you play the fourteenth hole. If Royal Isabela has a signature hole, it’s the par-three seventeenth, which plays from 178 to 200 yards depending on the tee you choose—all carry from one cliff edge to another. The green is steeply sloped right to left toward the ocean and has a difficult back tier just to make things more interesting.

The course was designed on site by the Pasarell brothers with the capable assistance of architect David Pfaff, Pete Dye’s original partner. “My friends and I would come out with some clubs and balls and envision the holes on the undeveloped land,” Stanley Pasarell says. “The land itself shaped the course.” The brothers worked to keep the golf course in harmony with its surroundings, using only native trees and indigenous plants propagated in an on-site nursery from seeds and cuttings gathered on the property. Aside from the greens, every blade of grass on the course is of native origin.

Royal Isabela is a semi-private golf club where guests of the resort are granted temporary membership. Currently, guests stay in expansive one-bedroom casitas with ocean views, private pools, multiple large-screen TVs, and bathrooms bigger than some Manhattan apartments. In addition to golf, Royal Isabela features tennis courts, croquet, pools, hiking, and a secluded beach that’s worth a trip for its own sake. Spa services, water sports, and just about anything else you’d like to do can be arranged by the extremely accommodating concierge.

La Casa from Royal Isabela 18th Fairway
The Restaurant at La Casa features farm-to-table dining, a wood-burning oven, and an excellent wine collection. Chef Jose Carles Fabrregas visits the property’s own River Farm and Organic Gatehouse Garden every day to create the menu, which fuses Puerto Rican and classic European cuisine. The Organic Farm itself is worked in partnership with La Tierra Prometida, a non-profit organization that assists homeless disabled men. Sale of the farm’s produce to other local restaurants supports transitional housing, food, and social services to the organization’s clients.

Royal Isabela is located about 90 minutes from San Juan International Airport or ten minutes from Aguadilla International Airport. Casita rates range from $609 to $1199, depending on season, and include breakfast and golf for two each day.

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

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Knollwood's Mike Miller Scores in Portuguese Open

Michael Miller
Mike Miller, the MGA and Westchester Player of the Year for both 2012 and 2011, moved a step closer to his dream of making the US Walker Cup team this year with a T-3 finish today at the Portuguese Open. Miller is the son of Knollwood Country Club head pro Bob Miller.

The 20-year-old had only one round over par on the Montado Golf Course near Pamela Castle, going 70-73-68-70 to finish at 7 under for the tournament. He scored 20 birdies and 13 bogeys to tie with England's Harry Casey for the number three spot four stokes behind the winner, Goncolo Pinto of Portugal. He poured it on in the final round, posting three birdies on the last four holes, but couldn't overcome the bogey-plagued second round score. Miller was the only American in the field.

This is Miller's first stop on a 25-day overseas excursion designed to give him more experience competing outside the US.  His next stop is the Spanish Amateur Championship. Last year, he traveled overseas for the first time in his life and placed fourth in the Lytham Trophy and Irish Amateur.

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

Start Your Season At The Westchester Golf Show

Sick of snow? Put it out of your mind at the Journal News Westchester Golf Show March 9 and 10 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. You may not be able to play 18 holes, but you can try out the latest equipment, take a lesson, and talk golf with over 75 exhibitors and experts who will help you get ready for the real thing in just a few weeks.

Westchester Golf Show
The popular indoor driving range will have stations for leading club makers like Titleist, Nike, TaylorMade, and  Tour Edge. Try out their newest clubs and talk to their reps about the features you need to bomb it, spin it, and put the ball closer to the hole.

The Metropolitan Golf Association will sponsor the Let's Talk Golf Stage with presentations by experts like MGA Tournament Director Brian Mahoney, who will answer your questions about the rules of golf, Max Galloway, pro at Mohansic Golf Course, who will help seniors get the most out of their game, and Frank Darby, head coach at St. John's, who will explain the college recruiting process and talk about how to develop junior golfers. Other presenters include Tom Avezzano, pro at Sprain Lake and Maple Moor, Charlie Meola, from Saxon Woods, and Jason Gobleck from Westchester Hills. Brian Crowell, head pro at GlenArbor, will demonstrate Slice-Free Golf--a presentation no golfer will want to miss.

Other popular features at the show will be free ten-minute lessons from PGA pros, a special lesson area sponsored by the Executive Women's Golf Association, and the Home Green Advantage putting and chipping area. You'll find fabulous deals on clubs, apparel, balls, and everything else you need for the season in the discount pro shop.

Admission is just $10 ($9 for seniors), but you'll get that back and more with plenty of free goodies like a "Bring a Friend to Play Free" voucher good at any of the six county courses and a free bucket of balls from Fairview Golf Center.

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

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Book With A Promise - Drive Like The Pros

Drive Like The Pros
As any golfer which he'd rather do, sink a 40-foot putt or pound a 300-yard drive, and there won't be a moment's hesitation. We may putt for dough, but we absolutely love to drive for show, for bragging rights, for the sheer joy of crushing the ball off the tee. If only we could.

Drive Like the Pros promises to make it possible. Unlike many instruction manuals, this one is dedicated solely to driving the ball--everybody's favorite shot.

Mike Neff, an expert in 3-D golf instruction, joined forces on the book with freelance golf writer Dave Allen and examined reams of data gathered by TaylorMade's MAT-T System (Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade) to show why our drives don't go as far as those of pros like Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Sean O'Hair, and Justin Rose. There's probably more data in the book than any of us actually need, but there's no quibbling with the frame-by-frame analysis of good and bad swings or with the suggested drills to correct common flaws.

The detailed descriptions of key points in the swing may be overdone for some readers, but I found it helpful in understanding the concepts Neff was trying to get across. One of the strengths of the book is the use of avatars as well as photos to illustrate key points. The avatars, screen shots from the MAT-T System, are enhanced by color-coded lines that demonstrate the measurements discussed in the text. Take your time, study them together, and you might learn a thing or two about the golf swing.

The first chapter describes the MAT-T System in excruciating detail and could be a turnoff for all but the most dedicated golf gear head, but that's because Drive Like the Pros also serves as TaylorMade's official instruction manual for PGA professionals certified in the MAT-T System. For the rest of us, stick with the book and take your time studying it--the remainder can be quite useful. Neff dissects each stage of the swing from set-up to follow-through. He compares the average over-the-top slash most of us make with the smooth, powerful swing of the pros. The measurements can be a little dense for casual reading, but the book really isn't meant for a quick thumb-through looking for swing tips. It's a serious book for those intent on improving their game.

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

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tough, Fair, Family-friendly Mayacoo Lakes

Mayacoo Lakes, West Palm Beach

Can your first be your best? Plenty of golfers think Mayacoo Lakes is the best golf course Jack Nicklaus ever designed—even though it was his very first. The par 71, 6,906-yard layout is tough but fair, challenging but enjoyable, and definitely a course you could play every day. Kipp Schulties refreshed the course in 2007. Head pro Cary McGaughey says he’s worked with three generations of members in some families. Purchase, NY, Old Oaks CC head pro Bobby Heins and his protégé, PGA tour winner Johnson Wagner, can often be found on the course during the winter months.

Thirteen holes feature water and melaleuca, pine, and palm trees line most of the fairways, so shot placement is essential. The greens are perfectly matched to the challenges of each hole, with tiny ones where accuracy provides par protection and larger, more undulating greens to accept shots on longer holes. Six sets of tees allow the course to be played from as short as 4,973.

Mayacoo Lakes, West Palm Beach

One of the biggest attractions for golfers at Mayacoo is the variety of challenges faced throughout the course. The first par 5, the fifth hole, is an easy par at 517 yards but a tough birdie if an aggressive approach finds one of the four bunkers surrounding the green. The sixth hole, a 370-yard par four, actually has two greens, both difficult, and both fronted by water and wicked bunkers. The eighth, at 359 yards, is a tough little bunker fest while the ninth hole, a short but fair par five at 505 yards, offers a birdie to those brave enough to challenge the water on the right front of the green.

Before you begin the back nine, sharpen up your aiming skills and make sure your driver is on board with your game plan. You’ll need both when you get to the eleventh (371 yards) and twelfth (386 yards) holes, both of which play over water off the tee, one tougher than the other depending on the wind. The fifteenth hole, a 422-yard par four, calls for two good shots to get your ball on the elevated green in regulation. The 333-yard sixteenth hole plays twice over water, which really isn’t a problem unless it gets into your head, which happens all too easily. The eighteenth hole makes for a great finish. It plays 402 yards, but the water in front of the green has drowned more than one player's hopes whose match came tied into the hole.

Members at Mayacoo also enjoy a pool, tennis courts, dining and grill room, as well as newly-renovated locker rooms and card rooms for both men and women with picturesque views. It’s a family-style club that puts golf front and center.

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

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Speed It Up!

USGA President Glen Nager
The USGA says the biggest threat to the game today isn't how you hold your putter, it's how fast you use it. It's about time (pun intended) that the game's leadership step up efforts to make a round of golf playable in less than five hours.

Speaking at the Association’s annual meeting in San Diego, USGA President Glen D. Nager said, “The cry that pace of play has become one of the most significant threats to the game’s health has become only louder over the last year. Industry research clearly shows that slow play and the amount of time it takes to play a round of golf detract from the overall experience and threaten to drive players away from the game. This problem touches every golfer, from the professional to the elite amateur to the collegiate player to the millions of recreational golfers at both public and private facilities.”

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis added: “It is appropriate for the USGA to examine pace of play issues in part because we experience them at our own championships. Six-hour rounds are just not good for the players, our championships or the game. Slow play is also incompatible with our modern society, in which our personal time for recreation is compressed. This is an issue that demands our complete attention.”

Stressing that pace of play cannot be tackled from a singular perspective Nager discussed in detail the various elements of the USGA initiative that will commence this year. Emphasizing that the USGA will seek to establish partnerships with various golf industry leaders, from allied organizations to media partners to golf course managers, Nager said, “We must be committed to addressing over the long term the amount of time it takes to play, armed with the determination to improve pace of play and a belief that the time that golf takes to play can be reduced through the dedicated efforts of everyone connected with the game.”

Included in the USGA Pace of Play Initiative:

Analysis of Key Factors: Factors known to influence pace of play include course design (overall length, green-to-tee walks, location and number of hazards); course management and setup (green speed, hole locations, height and location of rough); player management (most significantly, the proper distribution of starting times); and the effectiveness of player education programs.

Research to Produce Pace-of-Play Modeling: A major study is underway at the USGA’s Research and Test Center to create the first-ever dynamic model of pace of play based on quantifiable data – a model that will be applicable to both competitive and recreational golf. The new USGA model will draw from large-scale real-world inputs, including data from the PGA Tour’s Shotlink system. Once completed, analysis of the model should greatly increase understanding of the key factors affecting pace of play and allow recommendations for improving pace of play on a course-by-course basis.

Pace Rating System: The Test Center model will drive improvements in the USGA Pace Rating System, first developed in 1993 to help players complete a round of golf at an optimum, reasonable pace. The USGA Handicap Department will utilize data from the Test Center model to better customize the Pace Rating System for individual courses

On-site Assistance at Golf Courses: New programs to help golf course managers assess and improve pace of play will be delivered by the USGA Green Section through its Turf Advisory Service. The group will expand its educational efforts about aspects of course management that impact pace of play. The on-site visits will evaluate the overall playing quality of a golf course, of which pace of play is a central component. Recommendations provided by the USGA may also generate economic and environmental benefits, providing additional incentives for course managers to implement new practices.

Player Education Programs: Nager said the Association needs to “double down” on its efforts to educate players on the fundamentals of how to play faster. To this end, the USGA will use its communication channels to reach its Members and the larger golf community with messages on improving pace of play, such as picking up one’s ball on a hole once a player’s Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) limit is reached. Other efforts could include promotion of alternate formats such as match play, foursomes and Stableford scoring that are popular in other parts of the world and that take less time to play than the standard individual stroke-play format. The TEE IT FORWARD campaign, developed in conjunction with The PGA of America, will continue to be promoted as a way to speed play and provide more enjoyment. The Association will support these educational efforts with an online resource center at www.usga.org that contains information to help golfers improve their pace of play.

“Progress in improving pace of play will come only when the entire golf community is committed to working seriously to address the issue,” said Nager. “In this regard, I am pleased that the leadership of the PGA of America shares our concern about this critical issue. As our program develops, we look forward to engaging with the 27,000 members of the PGA, who can play an essential role in supporting our efforts to educate players and facility managers on how to improve pace of play.”

The USGA will also work to promote the nine-hole round of golf as a viable option for golfers who are pressed for time. Contrary to the beliefs of some golfers, a nine-hole round is fully compatible with both the Rules of Golf and the USGA Handicap System. The USGA will work over the coming months with partners across the industry to identify the best opportunities to help golfers and golf facilities embrace and value the nine-hole experience.

“As a governing body, we can look at the Rules of Golf, at the Handicap System, and at many other factors from our unique position within the game to help to advance the contributions made by so many individuals and associations who have addressed this problem in the past,” said Nager. “Significantly improving pace of play in the game is eminently possible, and we welcome the enthusiasm and contributions of the entire golf community as we work together toward this important goal.”

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