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Monday, August 23, 2010

Rules Knock Another Pro Out Of Contention

The rules of golf jumped up and bit another pro in the worst possible place again this weekend when Juli Inkster was disqualified from the LPGA Safeway Classic for using a weighted training aid during her round. The 50-year-old Hall of Famer had suffered through a thirty minute wait on the tenth hole at Ghost Creek at Pumpkin Ridge and slipped a "donut" on her nine iron to loosen up before she hit her tee shot.

NO CAN DO! According to LPGA Director of Tournament Competitions Sue Witters, a TV viewer noticed the infraction and contacted tournament officials. The LPGA checked with the USGA to make sure, but they found no wiggle room so Inkster was told of the DQ when she walked off the course after finishing the round.

Inkster left in a hurry, but later issued a terse statement:
"I had a 30-minute wait and I needed to loosen up," she said. "It had no effect on my game whatsoever, but it is what it is. I'm very disappointed."
Ralph Wimbish of the NY Post provides a few more incidents when tournament outcomes--not to mention golfers' brainwaves--were altered by the rules:
Roberto De Vicenzo — At the 1968 Masters, the Argentinian star carded a birdie 3 on the 17th hole but wrote down a 4 on his scorecard. Because he had signed his scorecard, he did not get into a playoff with Bob Goalby and was left muttering, "What a stupid I am."

Ian Woosnam — At the 2001 British Open, Woosy was in contention until he discovered an extra driver, a 15th club, in his golf bag. Once he realized he had violated Rule 4-4a/6, he gave himself a two-shot penalty, yelled at his caddie and threw the extra driver into a tree.

Craig Stadler — At the 1987 Andy Williams (San Diego) Open, Stadler used a towel to kneel on as he hit a shot from underneth a tree. Several TV viewers phoned NBC to say the Walrus had violated Rule 13-3 for building a stance. Stadler had finished second, but his failure to take a two-shot penalty resulted in a DQ and cost him $37,333 in prize money.

Paul Azinger — At the 1991 Doral Ryder Open, he was on the 18th hole when took his stance in a water hazard and used his left foot to kick away several rocks. A TV viewer from Colarado called the PGA Tour and said Azinger had violated Rule 13-4, subsection 3. Azinger, who shot a 69, was DQ’d for failing to assess a two-shot penalty.

Lee Janzen — At the 1998 NEC World Series of Golf, Janzen hung a putt on the lip of the cup and watched for more than the allotted 10 seconds before it dropped into the cup, a violation of Rule 16-2. His failure to take a 4 instead of 3 resulted in a DQ.

Bobby Jones — At the first round of the 1925 U.S. Open, Jones said his ball moved slightly just before he hit a shot of the rough, a violation of Rule 18-1. He called a one-shot penalty on himself and eventually lost a 36-hole playoff to Willie Macfarlane.

Michelle Wie — She’s been DQ’d for taking an improper drop in her pro debut, penalized at the 2006 British Open for grounding her club in a bunker and DQ’d from the 2008 State Farm when she failed to sign her scorecard. She was in second place when she was DQ’d.
Ah those pesky rules of golf.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Monday, August 16, 2010

Labritz Wins Club Pro Title At PGA Championship

Let's hear a hearty "Huzzah!" for Rob Labritz, Director of Golf At GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford and low-scoring club professional at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Labritz shared the awards spotlight with Martin Kaymer, the rising European PGA Tour star who won the Wanamaker Trophy.

Last year's low-scoring club pro was also from Westchester, Greg Bisconti, an assistant professional at St. Andrew's in Hastings.

Labritz has been blogging about his experience at the tournament at the NY Post with Ralph Wimbish. Yesterday, he announced he's taking the big plunge this year and heading for Q School in November. His performance at Whistling Straits convinced him he's ready to take his shot on tour.

And a fine performance it was. "HUZZAH!"

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rob Runs Into A Round-Wrecker

We've all had it happen to us. Rob Labritz, the only club pro to make the cut at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, had an excellent third round going for 17 holes. Then a quadruple bogey jumped up and bit him.

You can read the details of how one of Pete Dye's 1,000 bunkers snagged Labritz's approach shot on the 446-yard par-four ninth hole (his 18th of the round since he started on the back nine) at the blog he's writing with Ralph Wimbish at the NY Post. But we've all had it happen to us...an awkward stance, a bad lie, a little extra adrenaline and the next thing you know your scorecard has a blot on it.

Up until that point, Labritz was cruising. He'd started the round at even par, then scored a birdie on the first hole. Here's some video of the precise second shot that set up the tweeter that put him under par for the tournament.

He poured in this putt for another bird on the 12th hole.

Labritz added yet a another circled number at the 569-yard par-five 16th hole. He dropped a couple of shots in the early going on the back nine, but got one back with another kick-in birdie at the 507-yard par-four 8th hole, his 17th of the day. All together, a much-more-than-respectable round that shows Labritz, the Director of Golf at Bedford's GlenArbor Golf Club, can keep pace with the best.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Labritz Scores At PGA Using Positive Mindset

Rob Labritz, Director of Golf at Bedford's GlenArbor and one of 20 club pros competing in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, went to bed last night feeling mighty good about his chances for moving up the leaderboard. He told Ralph Wimbish of the NY Post that he felt great calm after finishing the first nine holes of his delayed second round.

Labritz had reason to feel good; he scored two birdies and parred the treacherous 18th hole (his ninth for the day) that had put him over par for the first round. With that out of the way, he went to the course this morning to finish the second round expecting much lighter winds and facing the much easier front nine.

A birdie on the second hole, a 593-yard par 5, gave Labritz a one-under 71 for the round and puts him at even par for the tournament. While there are still players on the course finishing their second rounds as of this writing, that should put Labritz well inside the cut line. We'll be watching (and rooting) this afternoon.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sweet Swing at Whistling Straits

Rob Labritz had a fine first round at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. The Director of Golf at Bedford's GlenArbor Golf Club shot a one-over 73 in a round that included four birdies on the front nine. He was one under going into the final hole, the treacherous 500-yard par-four 18th, which he told the NY Post's Ralph Wimbish has been his nemesis in the practice rounds.

Here's video of Labritz's tee shot at the 148-yard par-three 12th hole, which he safely two-putted for a par.

For the inside scoop on Labritz's experience at the PGA Championship, visit the blog he's writing for the NY Post with Ralph Wimbish.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Buddy Trip? Try Whistling Straits

Enchanted by the TV coverage of Whistling Straits? Consider it as a destination for a buddy trip.

First you fly to Milwaukee. Milwaukee? You bet. The land of polka fests and cheeseheads also happens to be the home of the Midwest’s only AAA Five-Diamond resort and the site of the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. When they played it there in 2004, you may recall, Vijay Singh won his third career major. The Straits course, which opened in 1998, is two miles of rugged Lake Michigan shoreline sculpted into brutal, windswept links by golf architecture’s bad boy Pete Dye.

At the same complex and just inland from the Straits Course, Dye built the deceivingly tranquil Irish Course, where the grassland and dunes are crossed by four meandering streams. There’s also a flock of Blackfaced sheep complete with bells, which makes for an other-worldly experience when they trot between the pot bunkers as you’re aiming your tee shot. Kohler also offers two slightly more conventional courses at nearby Blackwolf Run, also Pete Dye designs. All the courses—-and everything else in town—-are operated by Destination Kohler, a division of the well-known plumbing fixture company.

There are basically two places to stay in Kohler, a quaint, carefully manicured company town where stately elms line the streets and even the bricks in the old factories look scrupulously clean. The AAA Five-Diamond facility is the distinguished American Club, where every room features a Kohler whirlpool bath (it is a plumbing fixture company), down comforters, and memorabilia honoring famous Americans. Less posh but still comfortable is the Inn on Woodlake, a 121-room hotel overlooking an eleven-acre lake with private beach and its own putting green. The tiny village also offers ten places to dine, including the Whistling Straits Restaurant in the stone clubhouse overlooking Lake Michigan, which received the 2005 Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Inside The Ropes At The PGA Championship With Rob Labritz

Only 20 club pros made it to the PGA Championship that starts today at Whistling Straits--Rob Labritz from GlenArbor is one of them. He's chronicling his experience with the help of Ralph Wimbish in a blog for the NY Post.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eye-Popping Greens At Forsgate

Forsgate Banks Course #15
Scottish immigrant John Forster made many great decisions in his life. He founded Crum & Forster Insurance Company and made a boatload of money. He used some of it to buy 50 bucolic acres of farmland in central New Jersey and developed a dairy farm where he and his family and friends could escape the daily grind of Manhattan. The smartest thing he ever did, though, was buy some additional land and turn that farm into a challenging golf course designed by golf architect Charles Banks. Today, the Banks course is the gem of Forsgate Country Club, a private, non-equity club in Monroe Township, N.J.

The architect, known as "Steam Shovel" Banks due to his fondness for that particular piece of earth-moving equipment, created some of the most dramatic green complexes in the game for Forster's course. Sam Snead said in Golf Magazine that the Banks Course had "the most eye-popping greens" he had ever seen. The course has been upgraded many times since it opened in 1931, but the greens and their protective bunkers, swales, moguls, and fescue rough remain true to Banks' imaginative vision.

The course isn't long, 6,844 yards from the tips with a par of 71, but each hole is unique, making for a fascinating round of golf. Banks drew on his and Forster's favorite holes from other courses they had played around the world. Banks was also an associate of C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor, so many of their trademarks can be found on the course as well. The second hole, for example, is a 420-yard par 4 modeled after the 15th hole at Macdonald's National Golf Links while the fifth hole, "Punchbowl," a 417-yard par four, is a copy of the ninth hole at Hoylake, a fixture on many Banks, Raynor, and Macdonald courses.

The greens on Forsgate's Banks course are what you'll revisit in your dreams, though. I don't believe I have ever seen so many different ways to use tiers, terraces, ridges, humps, hog backs, false fronts, and other severe contours. While many courses have difficult putting surfaces, few of them have greens large enough to enable multiple--and fair--pin positions.

The par threes are truly unforgettable. The 216-yard third hole has a healthy ridge that effectively cuts the target area in half and forces you to challenge the deep bunkers on either side of the green to get close to the pin off the tee. Hole #7 is a true Redan and a real challenge at 216 yards.

Forsgate Banks Course #12Number 12 is a manageable 163 yards to a green completely surrounded by bunkers. It's called "Horseshoe" because the green incorporates a horseshoe-shaped ridge that circles the putting surface. The 17th hole is patterned after Willie Dunn's famous par three at Biarritz, France. This one features a long, narrow green divided in two parts by a chest-deep swale. It also plays 239 yards, so par is truly an accomplishment.

Forsgate is an RDC Golf Group property. The club also has a traditional course, the 6,625-yard Palmer Course, as well as family-friendly amenities like a fitness facility, aquatic center, tennis, and excellent dining options.

The practice facility and putting green are first-rate and you won't find a friendlier, more knowledgeable staff of golf professionals. They are led by Director of Golf Carolyn McKenzie Andrews. Also on staff are head pro Scott Barnaby and former PGA Tour and Nationwide player Bobby Gage.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the