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Thursday, May 31, 2012

GlenArbor Honors Golf Traditions

Like the game itself, the traditions of golf are often taken for granted. That's why GlenArbor Golf Club's annual Traditions of Golf Invitational stands out on my calendar every year. For no purpose other than to celebrate the sportsmanship and integrity inherent in golf, this private Bedford Hills, NY, club not only stages a first class event but honors someone who epitomizes those qualities and works to grow and improve the game. This year's honoree was Jay Mottola, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Golf Association. They couldn't have chosen anyone more deserving.

Head professional Brian Crowell MC'd the festivities. He introduced Jimmie Roberts, NBC Sports commentator, who gave a glowing video account of Mottola's career. Mottola then spoke for a few minutes, characteristically spending his entire allotted time talking about the many other people who contribute to the MGA's success.

A better ball tournament followed. I've never seen the course at GlenArbor in better condition, nor the rough so thick and gnarly. I am happy to report that my partner Tom Ralph and I placed second in the net event, losing out to Michael Beckerich and NY Times columnist Dave Anderson (who received the Traditions award in 2011).

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

There's More To Pinehurst Than No. 2

Photo courtesy of Pinehurst Resort
It’s tempting, but don’t spend all your golf time on No. 2. There are seven other courses at Pinehurst that are well worth exploring. Over 140 pot bunkers will complicate your round on No. 4, a 6,658 par 72 Tom Fazio design that was the site of the 2008 U.S. Amateur. It’s definitely a must-play.  Traditionalists should also play No. 5, designed by Ellis Maples, where you’ll encounter more water than on any other course at the resort. No. 6 was renovated in 2005 with new bunkers and faster greens, making it a real test. Hudson Valley golfers will feel right at home on No. 7, where elevation changes, wetlands, and large, undulating greens add to the challenge designed by Rees Jones. Tom Fazio built many traditional dips and swales around sloping greens to daunt players on the 6,698-yard No. 8, which commemorated Pinehurst’s centennial in 1996.

With so much golf to play and so many other things to do, Pinehurst is a place worth more than a three-day weekend. Available accommodations include the historic Holly, a boutique hotel with charmingly decorated rooms and public areas, the original grand copper-roofed Carolina, the Manor, a sportsman-style lodge, and numerous condominiums to handle groups of all sizes and budgets. Complimentary shuttle service throughout the property is responsive and efficient.

For lunch and/or libations, the Ryder Cup Lounge is hard to beat. Combine a Carolina Peach Tee (vodka, gin, rum, tequila, peach schnapps, and sweet tea) with a Pretzel Panini stacked with chicken breast, bacon, Monterey Jack, and slathered with aioli mayonnaise and you’re set the for the day. For dinner, the best choice is the 1895 Grille at the Holly Hotel, the only Four Diamond restaurant in the area. The lobster mac and cheese with broccolini is not to be missed—it’s the perfect accompaniment to prime filet mignon.

One other thing not to miss at Pinehurst is the extensive display in the Carolina of artifacts and photos chronicling the resort’s history. The team pictures from the 1951 Ryder Cup with Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jack Burke, Jr., et al is fascinating. The wide-angle shot of Payne Stewart pumping his fist on the 18th green just months before his death will send shivers up your spine. But there are fun displays, too, like the photos of Annie Oakley, who ran the Pinehurst Gun Club from 1910 to 1920 and gave exhibitions at the hotel twice a week. Makes you wonder what kind of golfer she was, doesn’t it?

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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pinehurst No. 2 Returns To Its Roots

When Peter Allen wrote “Everything Old Is New Again,” he could have easily been talking about Pinehurst Resort, where the recent restyling of famed Pinehurst No. 2 has breathed new life into the venerable North Carolina must-visit golf destination. Today, you won’t find men playing golf in ties and top hats, nor many women wearing bustles and shoes with a dozen buttons, but you will be able to play a unique and exciting golf course much the way it was originally envisioned. And the experience will delight you.

Photo courtesy of Pinehurst Resort
You’ll also find an enchanting village with a host of amenities and activities ranging from stellar restaurants to lawn bowling, croquet, and horseback riding, tours of historic homes, and a festival of some sort nearly every weekend. But golf is the main attraction and the Pinehurst Resort is home to not just one course, but eight, each one distinct and providing golf fun for players of every level. If those eight aren’t enough to scratch your golf itch, there are dozens and dozens of other courses within easy driving distance.

The main attraction, though, is Pinehurst No. 2, fabled for turtle-back greens and site of countless championship tournaments including two U.S. Opens (1999 and 2005), the PGA Championship (1936), and the Ryder Cup (1951). Walking the same fairways trod by Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Payne Stewart, and other luminaries of the game adds a whole other dimension to your round on No. 2. In 2014, today’s stars will light up the course as it sets another record, becoming the first venue to host both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open Championships within a week of each other.

The course the pros tackle will be completely different from the one where Payne Stewart punctuated his win of the U.S. Open in 1999 with an iconic fist pump that’s memorialized by a statue overlooking the eighteenth green. Today’s No. 2 has been restored so that it plays the way Donald Ross intended in the mid-1930s. Architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (who also managed the rebuild of Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle), took a long hard look at photographs of the course from that era and discovered that the modern course, with its lush fairways, even lusher Bermuda grass roughs, and sharply-defined bunkers, greens, and tees were nothing like Ross’s original design. The duo kept the routing and the basic green contours, but changed—for the better—just about everything else.

There is no more rough on Pinehurst No. 2, but before you start celebrating, take a close look at what replaced the thirty acres of thick but boring grass off the fairways. Now you’ll find sand, pine needles, hardpan, and hundreds of thousands of wiregrass plants, spikey tufts of toughness that will eat your errant ball and maybe even the club you used to hit it. Bunkers that had been covered by turf over the years were reclaimed while some of the existing ones were tugged further into the fairways to squeeze landing areas and torment those who dare challenge the layout. The characteristic Pinehurst No. 2 greens were restored to profiles that more naturally tie in to the surrounding grades, although they remain distinctly turtle-backed and can be devilishly cruel.

The result: there’s simply more to deal with on every shot.

The course not only plays differently, it looks different, too. The number of sprinkler heads was cut by more than half so that water reaches only the center of the fairways, which in turn blend into the sandy soil the way nature (and Donald Ross) originally intended. Tee areas, fairways, and even the aprons around the green are all mowed to the same height, making for a visually stunning and unique golf experience.

The second hole, which played as the most difficult in the 2005 U.S. Open, represents everything the restoration was meant to accomplish. As a 503-yard par four, it’s obviously long. What’s not so obvious from the tee though, is exactly where you’re supposed to hit the ball: aim straight for the green and you’ll end up in the hardpan or in a clump of wiregrass. And plan your approach carefully, too, since this is the first of the true turtle-backs on the course. More than one golfer has rolled off, chipped over, bounced back over, and more—all before getting a chance to putt.

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

Friday, May 25, 2012

Woodmere Club Celebrates One Hundred Years Of Class And Style

The Woodmere Club on Long Island's south shore sets the mark for classic style both in the club facilities and the surprisingly challenging golf course. Just a short drive from Manhattan, the club has a gorgeous Georgian clubhouse with a fitness center and dining venue, tennis, swimming, and a links-like Robert Trent Jones golf course that's both enjoyable and a fine test of shot-making golf. This year, Woodmere celebrates its 100th anniversary, a testament to the fact that class never goes out of style. The club was also chosen as the Club of the Year by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association.

At first glance, the course looks like a bit of a pushover. It's only 6316 yards from the tips and not weighted with extreme elevation changes or heavy forestation. What it does have--narrow fairways, demanding greens, perfectly-placed bunkering, and water in all the right (or wrong) places--more than makes up for any shortcomings in the yardage department. And then there is the wind, which is the course's real secret weapon when it comes to protecting par. Hitting onto a par three that's all carry over water into the teeth of an Atlantic breeze is a heck of a lot harder than whaling away with a driver on a 450-yard par four.

Above all, Woodmere is a thinking golfer's course. The double dog-leg fourth hole is a prime example of how important precise shot-making is to the game. It's "only" 358 yards, but the fairway snakes around trees on the left and then on the right, meaning you have to hit first a perfect draw and then a fade if you want to reach the green in regulation. Straight shots will get you in nothing but trouble on this hole!

Big hitters will drool on the seventh tee. At 293 straight-away yards, it's perfectly driveable. You'll see some cross bunkers, but they're really not in play. What is a danger, though, is a bunker 200 yards out on the right, not to mention the trees lining that side of the fairway. And whatever you do, don't get your ball above the cup on this funky two-tiered green.

The back nine is notable for a pair of 185-yard par threes, the eleventh and sixteenth holes, that play side by side. Both are fully exposed to the ocean winds and both greens are fronted by water. In match play, it's not unusual for competitors to lay up and play for a four, especially on the sixteenth.

The seventeenth presents a host of challenges. It's 370 yards and usually plays directly into the wind. Your tee shot has to carry the water, avoid the fescue rough, and stay out of the bunkers squeezing the fairway in the landing area. Even into the wind, it's not unusual for better players to hit something less than a driver off the tee. That leaves a tough iron shot into a small, well-bunkered green. A long bump-and-run isn't a bad play for the second shot if the wind is up.

Woodmere has hosted three Met Opens as well as numerous other events in its proud 100-year history. It was also the playground of many notables like "Diamond Jim" Brady, 20th Century Fox owner William Fox, Henry Zeigler of Steinway Pianos, and actress-singer Lillian Russell.

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Take On The Foot Wedge

TipTeeToe shoes can take women from the golf course directly to a night on the town in the first wedge sole “spikeless” golf shoes.  

With full leather uppers and durable rubber compound sole for comfort and durability, the look is colorful and contemporary. The wedge sole provides better balance and stability during the golf swing and helps the player maintain positive posture. It’s hard to say how they’ll perform on the dance floor, but TipTeeToe shoes come in a variety of fun colors and even have a built-in ball marker. 

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

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bill Pennington (Kind Of) Saved My Life

In the interests of full disclosure, I must confess that I owe Bill Pennington my life, or at least the use of my limbs. A couple of years ago, after more than forty years playing golf, I suddenly lost my ability to putt. It didn't just have the yips. I had the yaws, the yahoos, and the you've-got-to-be-kidding-mes. I tried a dozen different putters including some that were clearly not legal. I putted cross-handed, one-handed, and would have putted no-handed if I could have figured out how to hold the putter in my teeth, but I still counted as many as 45 putts on some rounds. I was about to give up the game and take up a sane sport like chainsaw juggling when I read Pennington's NY Times column about putting while looking at the hole instead of the ball. That column saved my game, not to mention my fingers.

So is this an unbiased review? Mostly.

In On Par: The Everyday Golfer's Survival Guide, Pennington writes about golf in a way that resonates with the regular golfer. The subtitle notwithstanding, this isn't a golf instruction book. It's more of an extended, rambling conversation about the game like the ones you have with your buddies at the nineteenth hole. The difference is, Pennington knows what he's talking about, whereas your buddies....

On Par is full of gentle, self-deprecating humor and dozens if not hundreds of little stories that illustrate the beautiful ironies of golf. Like a conversation he had once with Gary Player about how humiliating it is to hit a ball into the water. Or the time he almost killed the club president's wife with an errant six iron, a club selection that reminded me of the story in Weird Golf that begins "Just ask the guy in the tenth fairway staring at the six iron covered in blood." Pennington also reveals how jealous Annika Sorenstam is of her sister Charlotta, who won only one pro tournament but has three times as many holes in one. In other words, if you're looking for a book to fix your slice, look elsewhere.

There's plenty here to enjoy and learn from without pages full of illustrated swing tips. Pennington writes about nine places every golfer should play (hint: it's not a list of courses), what the pros are like and how they got that way, and one particularly distressing chapter titled "Shanks, Choking, and Other Tales of the Dark Side." Oh, and there's a section about putting while looking at the hole that you don't want to miss.

More than anything, I think, On Par expresses an attitude about golf that more of us should have. As Pennington says, "It is a silly game, somewhat childish....The allure of golf is its simplicity, which leads to a thousand complexities." And more than a few laughs along the way.

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

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Winter Work Pays Off For Mount Kisco CC

photo courtesy of Mount Kisco CC
I visited Mount Kisco Country Club today and was delighted to see the results of the work done over the winter. It's always refreshing to visit a club where the membership believes in the game enough to invest in their course.

I've always felt Mount Kisco is one of the most under-rated courses in Westchester. It has one of the best arrays of hole shapes and lengths I've encountered, with everything from short but tight par fours to three back-breaking monsters at 446, 453, and 466--all playing uphill! The par threes range from 163 yards to 208, and even the three par fives differ greatly from one another, running from 490 to 549 yards, one uphill, one with cross bunkers, another (the 17th) with water in front of the green. The greens themselves are small and devilishly difficult, adding extra teeth to the 6552-yard, par-71 layout.

Among other improvements, Mount Kisco spent a large, large sum during the winter months to upgrade the course drainage system. In the past, there were often problems with water in the fairways, not surprising when you consider that a network of streams meander through 13 of the holes. Today, however, even after three straight days of rain this week, we didn't encounter a single bit of water in any of the fairways. Not one!

The biggest change was to the signature tenth hole, a 201-yard one-shotter where the green is fronted by a pond and protected by flanking bunkers. Several superfluous trees were removed, mostly to improve turf conditions, and the pond was expanded and given a classic finished look with a stone wall enclosing it on three sides. The result is quite pleasing to the eye and serves to only increase the intimidation factor of a tee shot that has to carry the picturesque pond.

Also receiving a makeover of sorts was the sixth hole, a 349-yard par four with an island-like green surrounded by deep bunkers and swales. It used to be a dark and forbidding green crowded by grass-killing trees. Now, with the encroaching foliage gone, it has a whole new look that emphasizes the precision required for the second shot by making the green stand out from the topography. It's also a lot more difficult to judge the distance for the second shot since the back of the green resembles nothing so much as the eye-fooling edge of an infinity pool.

The changes made this winter were actually the continuation of a facility upgrade begun in 2007. Improved practice facilities, several new tee boxes and remodeled green complexes have been added through the last five years. There's still work being done and probably always will be given the highly commendable resolve of the membership to make Mount Kisco CC a stellar golf course.

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Weird Golf Named "Best Golf Book of 2012"

It warms an old scribbler's heart to be named "Best Of" anything. GolfbloggerUK gave that honor to Weird Golf today. Something tells me it was the "morally reprehensible" part of the title that garnered the praise.

Look closely and you'll notice that Colin Montgomerie's autobiography also received that accolade. I wonder if Monty knows he plays a role in one of the 18 tales in Weird Golf?

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

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mental Prep Wins Golf Tournaments

Greg Bisconti has some great advice for golfers competing at all levels: practice your mental game as well as your swing. The assistant pro at St. Andrew's in Hastings has plenty of cred when it comes to tournament play. He's competed in three PGA Championships and was in the winners circle as low club pro in 2009 at Hazeltine. Last year, Bisconti won both the Westchester Open and the Metropolitan Professional Championship. I heard him speak at this year's Met PGA Spring Forum.

"There are times when your knees are shaking," Bisconti says, "and you've got to rely on your routine to enable you to play." He's a big believer in visualizing the shot you're about to hit. "Do it while the other guy is playing," he recommends.

Mental practice can take many forms. "I spent two months preparing for the first tee shot in 2006 at Hazeltine," Bisconti says. "I would visualize the crowds and try to build up the pressure internally" while playing practice rounds. He also likes to practice putts with his eyes closed to develop confidence and feel.

When you're getting ready for a big game, Bisconti says, "Keep a diary that details all of your good and bad habits before, during, and after a round of golf. Writing down these experiences will help you take ownership of what happened and help you get past any obstacles that may present themselves in the future. Look for changes in eating habits, workouts, length of preparation on game day, how you handled adversity during the round, how you performed when in contention, shot tendencies, etc."

His best advice: Every round of golf should be a learning experience.

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

Friday, May 11, 2012

Free Weird Golf

Free books? How weird is that?
Check out this offer from Goodreads.com.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Weird Golf by Dave Donelson

Weird Golf

by Dave Donelson

Giveaway ends May 23, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tips For Tournament Golf From Frank Bensel

When Frank Bensel talks about winning golf tournaments, we should all listen, take notes, and study them over and over. The assistant pro at Century Country Club has so many trophies he needs a full-time staff just to polish them. Bensel offered some practical advice at the Met PGA Spring Forum on how to prepare for tournament play.

"Get your body ready for the tournament," he urges "You have to have stamina when walking several days in an event so it is helpful to walk on the course in practice rounds or just at the club carrying your bag." Bensel says he works on his own flexibility far in advance of playing a tournament. "I have to do a series of exercises on my hamstrings, hips, back, and shoulders that I can't stretch the day of a tournament."

Bensel also reminds us to have our clubs and equipment ready. "Make sure you have the correct set makeup for the course you will be playing," he advises. "If you need to add a hybrid or an extra wedge, be sure to have them ready."

When it comes to practice, Bensel says we should prepare specific aspects of our game for particular courses. He cites the need for an accurate driver and long irons for Bethpage Black, for example, or the ability to put on fast, undulating greens when playing Deepdale. "I try to play more prior to a tournament rather than beating balls," he says.

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

Friday, May 4, 2012

Michael Breed Preaches Better Putting

Who would have thought a high-energy, rapid-fire guy like Michael Breed would have the patience for scientific research? Yet that's just exactly what he did to confirm his approach to the putting stroke. The results are in Breed's latest book, The 3-Degree Putting Solution: The Comprehensive, Scientifically Proven Guide To Better Putting. The Sunningdale CC head pro and Golf Channel star wrote the book with John Steinbreder.

After a personal epiphany on the practice green, Breed spent years teaching his pupils to change their stroke to take the putterface from the normal positive loft to a negative one. That, he knew, would eliminate backspin and produce a truer roll. He based his approach on years of practice and observation with hundreds of pupils as well as his studies of putting greats like Dave Stockton, Billy Casper, and Horton Smith. Recently he funded research into the question by a golf lab in Dallas and determined that the optimum  face angle for a putt is three degrees of negative loft. His book details that research while providing much, much more useful information for the golfer serious about improving his performance on the green.

Breed provides a comprehensive guide to grip, posture, alignment, club path, and tempo as well as putterface angle. He also talks about mental conditioning and reading greens. With dozens of practice drills and 150 instructional photos, the book is a comprehensive guide to success with the flat stick.

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

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crystal Springs Makes Golf More Playable And More Fun

We all know golf needs a shot in the arm, which is why Crystal Springs Resort has stepped up with several initiatives based on the PGA of America's Golf 2.0. The northern New Jersey resort, which features seven golf courses just 60 minutes from New York City, is dedicated to finding ways to bring new and lapsed golfers into the game by offering packages and programs for families as well as players of all ages and skill levels.

For families, Crystal Springs has turned its two nine-hole courses, the regulation-length Cascades and par-3 Minerals, over to junior golfers and their kin. During the week, rounds on the 2,305-yard Minerals Golf Course, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., are only $15 per person all day long (slightly higher on weekends and holidays). On the 3,627-yard Cascades, afternoon rounds are as little as $79 for a twosome as long as there’s a junior in the group (rates are valid for 9 or 18 holes). Family golf also includes:

  • Special tees and larger cups for young players 
  • Four-seater carts 
  • TaylorMade clubs available for rent ($1 per child; $15 per adult) 
  • Roving golf staff to dispense advice and instruction to kids while they play 
  • Kid-friendly menu items, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the dining cart 
  • Children’s golf apparel in the pro shop 
  • Parent-Child tournaments (http://www.crystalgolfresort.com/Golf/Events.aspx) 

The resort’s commitment to junior golfers comes naturally, says Art Walton, vice president of golf. “We’re hoping more and more parents will encourage their kids to take up the game and Minerals Golf Course offers an easy environment to accomplish this, without the pressures and restrictions found on some adult-oriented courses.”

In another Golf 2.0-influenced initiative, the resort’s new “Fast Track Golf” program promises golfers will be able to play 18 holes in under four hours with no waiting on the group ahead and getting off the course before noon. “Fast Track” is the result of talking to hundreds of Crystal Springs’ golfers, who expressed overwhelming support for a quicker pace of play. On summer weekends, designated “Fast Track Golf” tee times will be in effect on the 18-hole Wild Turkey and Black Bear courses before 7:30 a.m., and on the 9-hole Cascades course before 10 a.m. “Fast Track Golf” is available both to daily-fee players and resort guests. To keep things moving, golfers taking “Fast Track” tee times agree to:

  • Maximum 7 strokes per hole 
  • Maximum 3 putts per hole 
  • Lost balls must be abandoned after a 60-second search 
  • No “honors”—play when ready

“We want our guests to have a great time here,” says Art Walton, Vice President of Golf Operations, “even if that means we actually shorten their time playing golf.”

The resort is doing even more to bring new players into the game. For those not ready to make a big investment in golf, starting in May Crystal Springs is initiating a “Pay Per Hole” program at Cascades Golf Course, charging just $4 per hole played with rental clubs included. And there’s more, including:

  • Free golf clinics from the David Leadbetter Golf Academy (Crystal Springs is Leadbetter’s northeast headquarters), held on the newly renovated Leadbetter practice range 
  • Use of the resort’s one-of-a-kind natural grass putting course. This massive, 18-hole putting green—home of the annual New Jersey Putting Championship—features multi-tiered greens, rolling terrain, rippling streams, and colorful landscaping. It’s perfect for fun and games or serious practice with the flagstick 
  • Coming this summer, the new Skills and Obstacles Challenge 

Purists may shudder at the thought of hearing childish giggles on the green or giving up on a lost ball with less than a full five-minute search while the rest of the course backs up behind you, but I'm delighted to see a facility take these creative steps to keep golf alive. In case you haven't noticed, golf is teetering on the brink--we need more places like Crystal Springs to bring more players into the sport and make it more playable for the rest of us.

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

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

MGA Tees Up 2012 Season

The Metropolitan Golf Association put the ball in play yesterday at Plainfield Country Club. The annual MGA Media Day featured a review of a very full calendar of competitions as well as a panel discussion featuring 2009 Met Open winner Andrew Giuliani, PGA Tour winner Bill Britton, and Plainfield head pro Scott Paris. Some notes from the event:

MGA Director of Competitions Brian Mahoney is praying for clear skies since there just aren't any dates to make up rainouts in a calendar packed this year with 22 events. The year begins with the MGA Senior Amateur Championship at Metedeconk on May 7-8 and ends with the French-American Challenge October 16-17 at Sebonack. Highlights include the Met Open to be played at Plainfield August 21-23, the Ike June 25-26 at Atlantic, the Met Amateur August 2-5 at Hollywood, and the MGA Senior Open August 27-28 at Garden City. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Met Junior Championship, which will be celebrated at Nissequogue Golf Club. Mahoney also pointed out that the MGA has teamed up with the Met Women's Golf Assn to present three events including the Women's Met Amateur June 5 at the Stanwich Club and the Women's Public Links Championship July 11 at Flanders Valley.

Plainfield CC head pro Scott Paris said that the Barclay's will return to the club in 2015 with another spot on the rota scheduled for either 2018 or 2019. The 2011 FedEx Cup event was shortened to 54 holes by Hurricane Irene. Paris explained that the Donald Ross masterpiece underwent a ten-year reconstruction under architect Gil Hanse, who also masterminded the Sleepy Hollow restoration. Using Ross's original drawings and photos of the course in its early days, Hanse removed a forest of trees, stretched the greens back to their generally expansive size, restored fairway widths and lines, removed two water hazards that were really just there to handle drainage anyway, and added a scant 150 yards to the course. The green contours weren't changed although seven collection areas were restored to add variety to the approaches that can be played.

Bill Britton, who won the 1979 Met Open at Plainfield as well the 1989 PGA Tour Centel Classic and tied for seventh in the 1990 Masters, pointed out that while the course has been substantially improved, the angles into the greens remain crucial to shooting a decent score. Britton is currently head pro at Trump National Colt's Neck

In addition to his victory in the 2009 Met Open, Andrew Giuliani won the 2005 Ike Championship at Plainfield. He also starred in the Golf Channel's Big Break series shortly after turning pro. The ebullient Giuliani said the experience was a positive one despite the reality TV sturm und drang that viewers see on the screen in their living rooms. "In regular golf," he says, "you have a few holes to settle into your game. On the Big Break, you warm up then sit on the bench for two hours before you have to hit one shot--perfectly. It was actually a good way to learn to focus on playing one shot at a time."

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