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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Champion Course for Champions at PGA National

Planning a trip to PGA National Resort and Spa? Be forewarned: the Champion Course, home of the Honda Classic, is a hard, hard golf course. That's not say you shouldn't play it--it's a great golf course well worth the exertion--just keep your expectations under control.

Remember that the course was really designed for professional competitions. It opened in 1981 and hosted the Ryder Cup two years later, followed by the PGA Championship in 1987. It was the home of the Senior PGA Championship from 1982-2000.  After a major renovation, it became the home of the Honda Classic in 2007. It's interesting to note that during those last nine years, only twice has the winner pushed the final score to double digits below par for four rounds.

When Jack Nicklaus took on the renovation in 2002, he basically designed a new golf course, attempting through modifications of the fairway and green contours to make it a little more forgiving for the average player.  While that was accomplished, little was done to change the routing and the heavy influence of water hazards on play.  Coupled with thick, sticky rough, the course well deserves its high ratings and slopes.  From the 6,719-yard gold tees, those are 73.4/145. Most of us will tackle the Blues, which play 6,367 but carry a 71.8/138.  For a real indication of how tough the course plays, though, look at the White tees.  Many players will ignore them because the card shows they measure only 5,934.  The 69.9/129 rating/slope, though, is more like many 6,300-yard courses I've played around the country.

Looking for a challenge? The Champion Course is it. Fifteen of the holes have water in play that dictates strategies both off the tee and during your approaches.  Another caution: the green surrounds generally don't release a short approach shot unless it's a briskly-struck bump and run, so don't expect to trickle a lucky miss onto the putting surface. I played the course this year while the fairways were still narrow after the tournament, so I got to experience plenty of play out of the rough.  It wasn't particularly long, just thick and sticky, so digging out with a short iron is almost always your only option.

The famous Bear Trap gets all the TV coverage, but there are plenty of other tough holes on the course.  Number 6, which looks like a pushover 468-yard par five on the scorecard, plays as a par four for the pros.  Water lines the entire left side just a few yards away from the fairway and bunkers encroach on the right off the tee.  The green has three levels, too, so distance control is paramount on the approach. Number 7, a 186-yard par three, plays downwind but has a front bunker that makes it all carry.  The green is long with a Biarritz-like swale in the center just to make it extra interesting.

One of the strongest holes on the course is Number 11, par four at 395 yards from the Blue tees. Getting off the tee isn't a big problem, but the approach is a killer.  Water runs from the landing area all the way to green on the right. The green itself sits diagonally to the fairway, making for some interesting pin positions. If you overshoot the green, you're left with a shot from a treacherous bunker back toward the water.

Water and wind are hallmarks of the famous Bear Trap, holes 15 through 17.  The two par threes are relatively short (153 and 155 from the blue tees), but both play all-carry with water wrapping around the right side of both greens to drown slices.  Sixteen, 391 yards, calls for an iron or hybrid off the tee to stay in the short grass, but that sets you up for a long approach over water to an elevated green. How tough is it?  Even the bailout for the second shot is over water!

The finishing hole is a classic double dogleg par five that provides all sorts of excitement. It truly is one of the best finishing holes in the game, playing 527 from the blue tees and forcing the player to negotiate fifteen bunkers and water on every shot.  A strong drive sets up a wonderful risk and reward second shot, too.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the Champion Course is not an easy walk in the park. It's hard. But for golfers who want to challenge a real player's course, it can't be beat.

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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Antigua in the High Cotton

I don't know about you, but I've never been fond of the "plastic" feel of the typical high-tech fabrics used in golf shirts these days.  Granted, they have advantages, but they also make me feel like I'm trying to swing while covered with Saran Wrap.  Antigua has just released a solution: Desert Dry Performance Cotton.  It adds fine cotton fibers to the synthetic filaments that promote moisture wicking. The result is dry comfort with a natural feel against the skin.

Ron McPherson, President and CEO of Antigua, explains the company's thinking in this short video:

I reviewed the Antigua Spring Collection earlier, but hadn't tried the Desert Dry Performance Cotton at that time. I have now, and can say that I found it very comfortable and almost retro in the way it feels against the skin -- Retro as in what golf shirts used to feel like before they started making them out of plastic. Maybe I'm getting too particular in my old age, but I'll leave that conclusion up to you.  By the way, I don't wear Spandex when I ride my bike, either.

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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gary Player Reaps Award from Met Golf Writers

The Player Foundation and World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player are slated to receive the Winnie Palmer Award from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at the organization's 64th National Awards Dinner on Tuesday, June 9 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, NY.

The Player Foundation provides quality education, nutrition, medical care and extra-curricular activities for underprivileged children around the globe. It was established by the Player family in 1983 and to date, through several annual events staged in the U.S., Asia, Europe and South Africa, the foundation has raised more than $50 million for these important causes.

Each year, Black Knight International, in conjunction with The Player Foundation, manages and runs
a series of four prestigious golf events on four continents which raises more than a million dollars annually.

"What the Gary Player family and their entire company has done for others is remarkable," MGWA President Bruce Beck said. "The Player Foundation provides hope, just like Winnie Palmer did for so long."

The MGWA's Winnie Palmer Award acknowledges an individual consistently given their time, energy and enthusiasm to those less fortunate. The Award is named in honor of Winnie Palmer, who devoted much of her life to charity work for literacy programs and health care. Past recipients include Barbara Nicklaus, Dolores Hope, Vivienne Player, Betsy King, Peggy Kirk Bell, and Ernie Els.

Created by the Met Golf Writers Association in 2000, the Winnie Palmer Award has been sponsored by Rolex Watch USA since its inception.

Other MGWA award winners Nick Price (Gold Tee Award) and Ron Sirak (Werden Golf Journalism Award) will join Player on June 9. Additional MGWA award recipients will be announced in the coming weeks.

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Disabled Vets to Learn Golf Free with Met PGA Pros

Met PGA Hope (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) got off to a good start yesterday at the John Kennedy Learning Center at Westchester Country Club when dozens of local pros gathered to find out how they can help veterans with disabilities benefit from the game of golf.

"There's a special link between golfers and our veterans," said Charles Robson, Executive Director of the Met PGA. "With West Point in our backyard, it just seems like a natural."  The eight-week golf instructional program for veterans with disabilities is slated to roll-out at West Point GC this spring.  "For us, it all comes down to giving something back to these people to whom we owe so much. For the vets, it's a great chance for them to benefit from the game."

Elmwood CC's Pete Stefanchik
swings wrong-handed on one leg
The pros attended a morning presentation by PGA Professional David Windsor, an expert in teaching adaptive golf programs for individuals with physical and cognitive challenges.  In the afternoon, they experienced first hand what the vets feel like trying to play golf while coping with various disabilities. The pros wore various devices that forced them to hit a ball on one leg, or with the opposite hand like a switch hitter in baseball, or with only one eye.

"The sensation is totally different," said Heath Wassem, Met PGA President and head pro at Fenway Golf Club. "It really gives you a great appreciation of what they go through."  There were also several disabled vets in the crowd who demonstrated their prowess.

PGA HOPE is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. It is designed to introduce golf -- at NO cost -- to veterans with disabilities in order to enhance their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being. The HOPE program, led by PGA professionals, helps veterans assimilate back into their communities through the social interaction the game of golf provides.

Interested participants should contact the Met PGA to learn more.

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

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Squeeze -- a Sure Bet Golf Movie

Jeremy Sumpter, Jillian Murray,
and Terry Jastrow (seated)
Any golfer who plays for money -- all of us, in other words -- needs to see The Squeeze, a soon-to-be-released movie about gambling, golf, and Las Vegas. It's also about the loss of innocence, how young love conquers all, and why you should never trust anybody who wears a hat indoors. But mostly it's about life-or-death gambling on golf.

Here's the plot in a nutshell: Young muni golf phenom who can't lose becomes the stakes horse for a high-rolling gambler who rides him to Las Vegas to play in a million-dollar match. The Squeeze happens the night before the match, when the small-town phenom is threatened with death by either side, one if he wins, the other if he loses.

I saw the movie in a preview and found it fun, exciting, and full of choice bits.  It's not Tin Cup, but it's not Bagger Vance, either (thank goodness). What really distinguishes it from other golf movies is that the players are really players. They know which end of the club to hold and how to swing it, which is more than you can say about just about any other golf movie ever released. The golf sequences -- and there are many good ones -- are believable and a pleasure to watch.

The verisimilitude is in large part a function of the director's background as a senior producer/director of golf for ABC Sports for 22 years. Terry Jastrow conceived and wrote the story based on what he says is the true story of Keith Flatt, which he heard over the dinner table one night.  Also on the production team was Jastrow's wife, Anne Archer, whom you might remember as Michael Douglas' wife in Fatal Attraction, Michael Doven, whose credits as an associate producer include Mission Impossible II, and many others with substantial film credentials.

Golf is at the center of the story, but the characters are what make it fun.  Twenty-two-year-old Augie Baccas (Jeremy Sumpter) is the young phenom whose fractured family life and need for ready cash enable the smooth-talking gambler, aka Riverboat, to persuade him to give up dreams of playing in the US Open for a career hustling golfers with more money than sense. Riverboat is played by Chris McDonald, who played a similarly smarmy bad guy, Shooter McGavin, in Happy Gilmore.

Augie's longtime sweetheart, Natalie (Jillian Murray), is against the deal, of course, but comes through for him in the end.  Las Vegas gambler Jimmy Diamonds (Michael Nouri) looks the part and plays it better. The best character in the whole flick, though, is Riverboat's over-the-top wife, Jessie, played by Katherine LaNasa.  She delivers the cleverest double entendres as well as the most flamboyant strut you'll ever see on screen.

The story arc is rather predictable, but there are enough sidebars and minor characters to make it worthwhile to pay attention. Augie struggles with his conscience in the beginning, but greed and/or need wins out and he plays in ever-larger matches set up by Riverboat until all the available sheep are fleeced and they move to the really big money games in Las Vegas. There, Riverboat sets up Jimmy Diamond for the coup de grace in a poker game and pits Augie against the reigning "US Champion" (I suspect the USGA wasn't crazy about allowing use of the term "US Amateur Champion" in this context) at Wynn Las Vegas.

The night before the match, Augie has another confrontation with his conscience, but overcomes it with vodka and cranberry juice. That's when the threats come from Jimmy Diamonds and Riverboat.  Heads you win, tails you lose, but in either case, you die. Not the kind of quandary that makes for happy swing thoughts on the first tee. The story arc is predictable but the ending isn't, so I won't offer any spoilers. Trust me, though, it's worth hanging around for.

Reaction from other early screeners has been very positive. Here are a few comments:

Jack Nicklaus: "I watched The Squeeze with Barbara and really enjoyed it. It’s a fun movie that tells an interesting story, and the golf elements are so real you actually believe it could happen."

Phil Mickelson: "The Squeeze is the best golf movie ever because it’s so authentic. It hooks you in the beginning and stays interesting and entertaining right to the end. I’m looking forward to seeing it

Tom Watson: "The Squeeze depicts actors (lead actor Jeremy Sumpter in particular) who are truly believable as pro quality golfers. Director Jastrow’s true understanding of the game (with 22 years directing sports, in particular golf on ABC Television) injects reality into the scenes with a stream of golf humor that golfers will find both familiar and believable, which are sadly lacking in all previous golf movies. With his athletic swing, Sumpter made this entertaining tale believable from the start. The catalyst for the film is the character “Riverboat”, whose role is wonderfully played by Christopher McDonald. His guile and salesmanship together make for an intriguing surprise ending. The Squeeze is indeed an enjoyable adventure into golf and big time gambling."

The bad guys are evil, the hero is kind of hapless but you root for him anyway, and the golf is more than just credible.  The Squeeze is a delightful diversion.  It releases April 17th in selected theaters and video on demand.

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mitchell Spearman Joins Golf Channel Academy

Mitchell Spearman
The newly formed Golf Channel Academy has named another local facility and leading teacher to its lineup. Mitchell Spearman, founder and owner of the Mitchell Spearman Golf Academy with locations in New York, Virginia and Maryland, has been named one of the inaugural instructors.

“I’m very excited to be among the first teachers associated with the new, dynamic Golf Channel Academy,” said Spearman, member of GOLF magazine’s “Top 100 Teachers in America” list since its inception. “This is a chance for golf instructors to work together, learning from one another and adopting best practices in both teaching and the business of teaching. I think it’s going to propel the coaches and coaching forward in a big way.”

Golf Channel Academy is the first network of its kind devoted to efficiently growing the business of golf instruction. With 44 charter locations already committed, Golf Channel Academy will be inviting additional coaches to become part of the network as it officially launches in April 2015.

A native of Great Britain, Spearman has been teaching golf for 30 years. He was first exposed to the game by his aunt, two-time British Ladies’ Amateur champion Marley Spearman, and proved to be a fast learner, breaking par for the first time at age 12. By the time he was 18, he had also qualified for the British PGA Championship.

Mitchell decided to make his mark in teaching, however, and in 1988 traveled to America to become David Leadbetter’s chief lieutenant and Worldwide Director of Instruction, a position he held for 10 years. During that period, he worked with several major champions and World Golf Hall of Famers, including Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Tom Watson, and Nick Price. Other past and present students include Craig Parry, Laura Davies, Jan Stephenson and Billy Hurley III.

Golf Channel Academy will feature Spearman and his staff of instructors at the following locations: Doral Arrowwood Golf Club in Rye Brook, N.Y.; Belmont Country Club in Ashburn, Va.; Dominion Valley Country Club in Haymarket, Va.; and the Oak Creek Club in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Spearman and his coaches will benefit from a wide-spectrum of business consulting services and products addressing marketing, sales, technology and back-office solutions needs, as well as shared best practices across the network. Coaches also will have the opportunity to appear on instructional programming across Golf Channel’s television and digital platforms. Students at Golf Channel Academy locations will be able to track their progress using advanced software to measure specific goals under the direction of their personal coach.

“Golf Channel Academy will align the top coaches from across the country to run their business within a robust, collaborative operation,” said Todd Wilson, CEO of Golf Channel Academy. “Our members will have a unique opportunity to tap into best practices and proprietary data that will assist each member instructor and academy operation to grow their business while operating under one unified brand.”

A featured host and instructor on the international television show Golfing World, Spearman has written articles for such golf publications as GOLF and The Met Golfer, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of “AIM of Golf,” which uses visual imagery to help optimize performance, and was one of the first golf instructors to produce a mobile app (Golf Shot Fixes) to assist golfers who need instant help on the course.

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

Friday, March 13, 2015

St. Andrew's Adds to Teaching Staff

Tyler Jaramillo
Tyler Jaramillo is joining the professional staff to beef up teaching capabilities at Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings. Jaramillo, a well-known PGA Assistant Golf Professional in the Met Section, will focus on teaching and operations at the new Apple Tree Learning Center that opens at the club in May.

Jaramillo, a native of Albuquerque, NM, joins Saint Andrew’s with many years of experience at private clubs, most recently at The Seawane Club on Long Island. Prior to Seawane, Jaramillo was an assistant golf professional at Tamarack Country Club, Ardsley Country Club, and Fenway Golf Club, all in the Met Area. He has been a PGA of America Class A member since 2008 and is FlightScope Certified, as well as a TPI Level 2 Certified Coach and a US Kids Certified Instructor.

Additionally, Jaramillo is the owner/director and co-founder of Golf In Schools in Seattle, Wash., where he works with 25 elementary schools and more than 150 children to grow the game of golf.

Jaramillo will report to St. Andrew’s Head Golf Professional Greg Bisconti, joining PGA Director of Golf, Charlie Hicks and PGA Assistant Golf Professional Ambry Bishop to round out the professional staff. His focus will be teaching, both in the center and on-course with members.

A quality player, Jaramillo qualified for the PGA National Assistant’s Championship last year, as well as notching a win on the Met PGA Assistant’s tour at Patriot Hills. He also serves on the Met PGA Assistants Board as well as the Met PGA Tournament Committee.

A graduate of New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Jaramillo grew up playing most sports until he concentrated on golf starting at age 15. When not on the links, he is an avid snowboarder.

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Antigua Features New Fabric Combo for Spring

An all-new fabric combining the best of two technologies--one old and one new--will be featured in the Spring 2015 collection from the Antigua Group. It's Desert Dry Performance Cotton (D2PC).

"The Spring 2015 Men's Golf Performance Cotton Collection includes this amazing new fabric," says Ron McPherson, President and CEO of Antigua. "It combines the moisture-wicking features of our proprietary Desert Dry moisture management technology with the natural fibers of cotton, to create a performance product that offers the best of both."

Cotton as a fiber alone absorbs moisture quickly, but doesn't allow the moisture to travel across the knitted cotton fibers for quicker release like synthetic micro-filament fibers. By engineering fabrics utilizing synthetic micro-filament yarns and blending them with fine natural cotton fibers, D2PC offers the look and casual comfort of cotton while maximizing the wicking properties of a performance fabric.

The D2PC styles have been developed sharing the same color palette that's carried throughout both the men's and women's Spring 2015 fashion collections. For more information, visit www.antigua.com.

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

Worthington Named to Trump Ferry Point

Brad Worthington
Brad Worthington, well-known (and liked) local golf professional and past president of the Metropolitan PGA was hired today to become Director of Golf at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, according to Donald Trump.

Worthington’s professional career includes serving as Head Golf Professional at Brooklawn Country Club (1994-2014) in Fairfield, CT and Atlantic Golf Club (1991-1993) in Bridgehampton and Assistant Golf Professional at Winged Foot Golf Club (1988-91) and Rockaway Hunting Club (1985-87).

"It is an honor and privilege to be appointed to the position as Director of Golf at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point," Worthington said. "I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact The Trump Organization has made to the game of golf and with Mr. Trump’s support I look forward to working with the City of New York to make sure the golf experience here is both exceptional and memorable."

Worthington joins renowned golf instructor Michael Breed and a staff of dedicated professionals at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point headed by General Manager Joe Roediger.

One of Worthington’s main priorities is to introduce the golf experience to new players with a special focus on youth and women. Worthington was a member of the PGA of America National Diversity Committee from 2009-2010, encouraging diversity in golf and increasing opportunities for women.
Worthington was a major contributor in organizing The First Tee Program in Bridgeport, CT, and strongly supported Suzy Whaley’s successful campaign to become Secretary of the PGA of America. Whaley became the first woman since Babe Zaharias (1945) to qualify for a PGA Tour event, earning a spot to play in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open.

Worthington played for the University of Houston and was teammates of 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples and top CBS golf announcer Jim Nantz.

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Trump Ferry Point Ready to Play

Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point
Finally! As of tomorrow, March 11 at 10 AM, you'll be able to reserve a tee time to play Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point. The much-anticipated official first day of play is scheduled for Wednesday, April 1, weather permitting. Golfers can reserve tee times by visiting www.trumpferrypoint.com, calling (718) 414-1555 or emailing info@trumpgolflinks.com.

Donald Trump said, “I’m thrilled to bring what will be one of the country’s great courses to New York City, something residents have been looking forward for decades. Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point is truly a world-class, wonderful and exciting course and can be played by golfers of all skill levels. We expect to have many major championships at Trump Golf Links – just minutes from Manhattan. This will be a tremendous economic development engine for the City of New York. Once the Trump Organization took over the development, I am glad we were able to get it open so quickly.”

Jack Nicklaus, designer of the course and winner of a record 18 major championships, believes Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point quickly will become a New York City signature sports facility.
"Ferry Point was created to be a unique public golf experience and it is our collective hope that the golf course will add to New York City's global reputation, enhance New York's reputation for quality golf, and give its proud residents a place to play and call home,” Nicklaus said. “Donald Trump has a deep-rooted love for New York City and he deserves a great deal of credit for getting Ferry Point to the finish line and for delivering it to the golfers and golf fans of New York."

“The official opening of this new premier public golf course at Ferry Point gives us the opportunity to showcase the City’s golf facilities on a national stage," said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. "NYC Parks' 14th golf course will offer New Yorkers and visitors a unique recreational experience on the City's first tournament-quality golf course, free summer programming, and has transformed what was once a landfill into a regional destination."

The city’s newest golf facility is located in the Bronx with easy access to all five boroughs, just minutes outside of Manhattan and situated at the foot of the Whitestone Bridge.

“We are excited to be working with Donald Trump and a golf legend like Jack Nicklaus on this project,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz.   “This world-class golf course will help re-brand The Bronx as a premier golfing destination, and I am proud to support it. I look forward to welcoming new visitors to our borough as they not only play a round of golf, but shop in our stores and dine in our restaurants.”

Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point will offer a public golf course comparable to the nation’s top-ranked private and public courses. Golfers will enjoy a state-of-the-art, lighted practice facility overseen by highly-acclaimed instructor Michael Breed and the Michael Breed Golf Academy. Breed is recognized as the number one golf instructor in the state of New York and 13th on Golf Digest’s list of the Top 50 Instructors in the United States.

In 2016, a $10 million clubhouse designed by the noted architectural firm of Hart-Howerton will greet golfers on their way to playing this memorable 7,400-yard course.

Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point is part of a city-funded redevelopment project. The 18-hole links-style Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, designed in consultation with Sanford Design, will be operated by the Trump Golf team and will be a part of the global golf portfolio of native New Yorker and avid golfer Donald Trump. The course is designed specifically to take advantage of spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, East River and the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges. Trump Links at Ferry Point will be the city’s 14th public course and first course built since 1964 when Robert Moses oversaw the opening of the Robert Trent Jones Marine Park Golf Course in Brooklyn.

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

Monday, March 9, 2015

Brynwood Extends Hospitality to LPGA-USGA Girls Golf

Image result for girlsgolf.org
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Brynwood G & CC will be the new home to LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of Rockland and Westchester this season. The program to introduce girls 7 to 17 to the game will hold instruction clinics, practice time on the range and short game area, and mentored play on the Armonk course under the tutelage of head pro Michael Mercadante.

In addition to the rudiments of the golf swing, participants will learn the rules and etiquette of golf, course safety, and, most importantly, how to have fun with the game.  Members of the Westchester chapter of the Executive Women's Golf Association will mentor the students on the course.  In addition to instruction and play, participating girls will have the opportunity to attend local tournaments and fairs as well as play in local competitions.

Registration is required, as is a small fee to cover costs.  For complete information, contact Anne-Marie Brillantes, Site Director, at amb.girlsgolf@gmail.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, March 7, 2015

KPMG Women's PGA Championship Field Begins to Fill


Eligibility criteria has been announced for the field that will compete in the 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, to be conducted June 9-14, at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship features a $3.5 million purse, among the highest in women’s golf. The Championship will be operated by the PGA of America in partnership with the LPGA and broadcast in partnership with NBC and Golf Channel.

The 2015 field has begun to take shape, with several players entered as of March 1 including defending champion Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Jean Bartholomew and Liz Caron.

The 156-player field will be determined as follows:

Active LPGA Hall of Fame members (To be considered Active, an LPGA Hall of Fame member must have participated in 10 official LPGA tournaments within the 12 months prior to the commitment deadline)
Past winners of the LPGA Championship
Professionals who have won an LPGA Major Championship in the previous five (5) years (2010-2014) and during the current year
Professionals who have won an Official LPGA tournament in the previous two (2) calendar years (2013-2014) and during the current year
Professionals who finished top-10 and ties at the previous year’s LPGA Championship
Professionals ranked No. 1-30 on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings as of May 12, 2015
The top eight (8) finishers at the 2014 LPGA T&CP National Championship
Members of the European and United States Solheim Cup Teams in 2013
Maximum of two (2) sponsor invites (Invitees must be ranked within the Top 200 on the Rolex Women’s World Rankings at the time of the invitation.)
LPGA Members who have committed to the event, ranked in the order of their position on the 2015 Official Money List through the conclusion of the Manulife LPGA Classic.
If the event is not full, the remainder of the field will be filled by Members who have committed to the event, ranked in the order of their position on the 2015 LPGA Priority List as of the commitment deadline.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship brings together a world-class, annual major golf championship with a women’s leadership summit and an ongoing community initiative to inspire and develop new generations of female leaders.

Golf Channel will televise the first two rounds of the championship, Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET. NBC coverage of the final two rounds is Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET.

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

Friday, March 6, 2015

Billy Casper Golf to Manage Forest Hill Field Club

Forest Hill Field Club

Billy Casper Golf (BCG) has been selected to manage the iconic Forest Hill Field Club in Bloomfield, NJ, less than 15 minutes from Manhattan and once a favored course of legendary New York Yankee Babe Ruth.

For the private, member-owned Forest Hill, BCG will direct club operations, golf and grounds maintenance, membership marketing, staffing and training, member activities, food and beverage, merchandising, golf instruction, public relations, special events and financial management.

“We are deeply honored to manage Forest Hill Field Club,” says Peter Hill, Chairman and CEO of BCG.  “Our talented team will introduce new membership programs, special events and other initiatives to build on the history of Forest Hill as one of the Northeast’s premier country clubs.”

“Billy Casper Golf’s unique approach to bolstering financial performance and enhancing services for members is unmatched,” says Peter Kelly, President of the Board of Forest Hill.  “We will work with its experts to create even more structure and value to memberships which promote the highest level of exclusivity with world-class amenities.”

Opened in 1896 and anchored by an A.W. Tillinghast-designed course, Forest Hill presents members and their guests with a classic-style layout and dramatic views of the New York City skyline.  The 18-hole, 6,547-yard, par-71 layout features several elevation changes, tree-lined fairways, fast, undulated greens and a view of the Empire State Building from the first tee.

Arguably Forest Hill’s hardest hole is the 396-yard, par-4 11th that challenges golfers with an uphill tee shot and a green that severely slopes from back to front.  The signature hole is the 200-yard, par-3 18th with a two-tiered green guarded by deep bunkers and heavy rough.

BCG also operates Hudson Hills GC, the Westchester-County-owned course in Ossining.

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ron Sirak Honored by Met Golf Writers

Ron Sirak
Award-winning golf writer and author Ron Sirak will receive the Lincoln Werden Golf Journalism Award from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at the organization's 64th National Awards Dinner on June 9 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, New York.

Sirak, who was instrumental in the transformation of national coverage of women's golf, is a senior writer for Golf Digest and the former executive editor of Golf World. Prior to joining the magazines in 1998, he worked for the Associated Press for 18 years, beginning in 1980 as a news editor before becoming deputy sports editor and then golf writer.

To date, Sirak has covered more than 140 men's and women's major championships, along with 10 Ryder Cups and seven Solheim Cups. In 2005, he became the first journalist to cover four men's and four women's majors in a season. When the LPGA added a fifth major, Sirak covered nine total major championships in 2013.

Sirak's impact on golf journalism is more than just covering tournaments. He has always pushed to expand the scope of what it meant to cover golf. Among his countless bylines, a few stand out – Payne Stewart's death in 1999 writing 2,200 words in three hours on a Golf World deadline; and a piece in 2001 on how 9/11 impacted both private Winged Foot, which lost members in the terror attacks, and public Van Cortlandt Park, where many first responders played.

One of golf’s most respected journalists, Sirak joins select company. Past Linc Werden Golf Journalism Award recipients include Dan Jenkins, Jack Whitaker, Dave Anderson, Jim Murray, Jim McKay, and Jim Nantz.

Sirak is the author of three books with noted golf instructors Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott: “Every Shot Must Have a Purpose,” “The Game Before the Game” and “Play Your Best Golf Now.” He is a past President of both the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association and the Golf Writers Association of
America, an organization from which he has won more than a dozen writing awards; including top honors for a piece on a humanitarian trip to Rwanda, Africa with six LPGA players led by Betsy King to help orphans in the war- and AIDS-ravaged country. He was also honored by the AP Sports Editors in 1997 for best overall writing for his feature on the economic impact of Tiger Wood's first year as a professional.

On April 8, Sirak will receive the PGA of America Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award in Augusta, Georgia.

"Ron Sirak gets us to the heart of a story, connecting us with amazing personalities in our game while also delivering balanced reporting on issues affecting our industry," said PGA of America President Derek Sprague. "Ron is one of the most trusted voices in golf."

Nick Price (Gold Tee Award winner) will join Sirak at the MGWA National Awards Dinner.

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Elmwood, Bethpage to Host U.S. Open Qualifiers

Elmwood Country Club
Ready to take your shot at the U.S. Open?  Unless you are otherwise exempted, the path to the field in Chambers Bay begins with the local qualifiers, which this year will be held at Elmwood CC in White Plains and the Red Course at Bethpage among some 111 sites in 43 states.

Elmwood is a tough not-so-little Tillinghast track that demands accurate play off the tee and the ability to hit and hold small, well-contoured greens.  It's flourishing under the leadership of Pete Stefanchik, who took over as head pro last year.  The qualifying tournament will be held there on May 13.

The Red Course at Bethpage is considered a near-equal to the more famous Black Course, even though it doesn't have a sign warning less-than-good players to stay away.  Play there will be on May 14.

The U.S. Open will be contested June 18-21 at Chambers Bay, in University Place, WA, the first U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest. Local qualifying, conducted over 18 holes at 111 sites in 43 states, will take place between May 4-21.

“U.S. Open local qualifying represents the start of an exciting two-tiered process in which thousands of golfers from around the world, both professional and amateur, pursue a place in this year’s field at Chambers Bay and the opportunity to compete for our national championship,” says Diana Murphy, USGA vice president and Championship Committee chairman. “U.S. Open qualifying is conducted with the support and expertise provided by state and regional golf associations, and we appreciate their effort and commitment.”

Those players who advance out of local qualifying will compete in sectional qualifying, which will be conducted over 36 holes at 10 U.S. sites on June 8. For the 11th consecutive year, Japan and England will host international sectional qualifying, both scheduled for May 25.

In 2014, the USGA accepted a record 10,127 entries for the championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2, in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C. That total eclipsed the 9,860 for the 2013 championship at Merion Golf Club, in Ardmore, PA.

Just in case you think you're exempt from qualifying, check out the changes made to the local exemptions that were amended prior to 2014. The top 500 point leaders and ties from the Official World Golf Ranking (as of March 2) will be exempt. Any player in the OWGR’s top 500 (as of April 27) who has filed an entry prior to the deadline of 5 p.m. EDT on April 29, will also earn a local exemption. In the past, only the top 150 point leaders were exempted.

Additionally, any player who has had multiple finishes in the top 400 of the year-ending OWGR in the past five calendar years (2010-2014) will be exempt from local qualifying.

Ken Venturi (1964) and Orville Moody (1969) are the only players to win the U.S. Open after qualifying through both local and sectional play. Last year, 24 players advanced through local and sectional qualifying to the 156-player U.S. Open Championship field at Pinehurst.

Oh, and one other thing--very important: To be eligible to play in the qualifier, a player must have a Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4, or be a professional.

Online player registration for the 2015 U.S. Open will begins this week.

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

Monday, March 2, 2015

An App to Dress You

Galvin Green // Gear Up - screenshot thumbnail

Just in case you don't know whether you need shorts or a parka for a given day on the course, Galvin Green has launched ‘Dress for the Weather,’ a free app combining course-specific forecasts with advice on optimum attire for any playing condition. Galvin Green makes functional golf clothing for serious players and says its the No. 1 global golf partner of GORE-TEX.

Offered on the App Store or Google Play, ‘Dress for the Weather’ allows golfers to choose from thousands of courses in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Europe. It then provides detailed five-day forecasts and recommends the ideal layering solution for expected levels of precipitation, temperature and wind speed. A brief demo video is available at vimeo.com/118823848.

“We’re constantly exploring ways to add more value to the experience of our customers in connection with the Multi-Layer Concept we pioneered,” says Nicholai Stein, Brand Manager of Galvin Green. “Facing desert heat, howling Scottish winds or anything in between, golfers can stay ahead of the competition by choosing the proper outfit.”

Aligned with premiere of Galvin Green’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection, the app also lets player’s challenge their friends to a match, locate the nearest stockist and stay updated with the latest brand news.

Based in Sweden, Galvin Green developed the Multi-Layer Concept, golf’s first apparel layering system, more than a decade ago. This distinctive approach uses leading-edge fabric technologies to ensure the dry comfort, thermal regulation and outer protection that helps players optimize performance. Details on this and other elements of the company’s “We Never Compromise” approach can be found at the new GalvinGreen.com.

The line is worn in competition by leading Tour players including David Lynn (European Tour), Lucas Bjerregaard (European Tour) and Caroline Masson (LPGA Tour).

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