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TexasGOLF FALL 2014


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FALL 2014

Editor’s Note Texas On Top THE FIRST CUT: Houston Steve Elkington’s Rural Golfer shows golf’s “real” side THE FIRST CUT: Hill Country Can Austin lure the PGA Tour with a new Coore-Crenshaw course? THE FIRST CUT: Dallas/Fort Worth NTPGA Professional of the Year Casey Paulson shares his insights Southern Texas PGA Spotlight: Two-time winner on the PGA Tour, J.L. Lewis continues to inspire COVER FEATURE: Jordan Spieth handles stardom like a FALL 2014 straight-in five-foot putt VOLUME 1, ISSUE 1 INSIDE THE GATES: Boot Ranch elevates the standard in Hill Country golf and lifestyle 02/&),%*/2$!.30)%4(s42!6%,-%8)#/3%8/4)#05.4!-)4! GOLF & TRAVEL The Four Seasons Punta Mita Mexico is pure paradise EQUIPMENT Get a sneak peek at the latest equipment offerings from top manufacturers MAJOR ATTRACTION Women’s U.S. Open champ Michelle Wie BOOT RANCH gets personal BRINGS THE HILL COUNTRY ALIVE THE LESSON TEE Q&A: MICHELLE WIE Expert advice from Dave Pelz, Tom O’Brien, Jr. INSTRUCTION: DAVE PELZ and amateur Paul Murphy COLLEGE GOLF UPDATE Which Texas schools have the best shot at the NCAA crown? On the cover: Boot Ranch Golf Club THE ARCHITECT’S DIGEST Photo: John R. Rogers, Mike Nuzzo solves a renovation issue on Long Island Visit us online at and be sure to LIKE us at

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TexasGOLF FALL 2014


Publisher Eric Woods Editor Carl Mickelson Art Director Long Tran Associate Editors Suzy Evans, Mark Spinn Website & Social Media Conner Penfold Contributing Writers Jim Dover, Mike Nuzzo Photographers John R. Rogers, Mike Nuzzo, Under Armour Equipment Editor Scott Kramer Contributing Instructors Tom O’Brien Jr., Dave Pelz Advertising Sales Steve Bliman – (480) 473-7663 Dick Holcomb – (770) 740-7120 Peter Muller – (631) 796-7753 Texas Golf + Travel is published by Golf Lab Media LLC 1224 Village Way, Ste. D Santa Ana CA 92705 Phone: (714) 542-4653 Texas Golf + Travel is published bimonthly and distributed to Texas Golf courses, country clubs, practice facilities, golf retailers, hotels, and resorts Entire contents of this publication is copyrighted Golf Lab Media LLC 2014, all rights reserved and may not be reproduced in any manner in whole or in part without the written permission from the publisher. For subscriptions, please send your name, address, phone number, and $20 to Golf Lab Media LLC at the above address. For advertising opportunities and editorial information: Please call (714) 542-4653 or email to


FALL 2014

TEXAS NOW. TEXAS FOREVER. Pardon us if Texas suddenly feels like the center of the universe. The current population explosion in the state is reaching historic proportions. Houston reportedly continues to have the nation’s fastest-growing economy (Thanks, energy industry!), San Marcos has been the country’s fastest-growing city couple of years running and the number of people relocating to Austin daily seems to fluctuate somewhere between 99 and the number of people who have ever purchased a guitar. According to data from the American Enterprise Institute, “Texas’s annual job gain of 413,700 through (Sept. 2014) represented 15.7% of the nation’s 2.635 million increase in nonfarm payroll employment over that period. Texas’s population is only 8.4% of the US total. In percentage terms, Texas payrolls increased by 3.7% over the last 12 months, almost double the 1.9% growth in US payroll employment.” Not only is everything bigger in Texas, right now, everything’s happening twice as fast. We have to ask, though, what legacies will we leave behind from this boom? Texas has had previous growth periods like this. The relics left are all around: our still-blooming master-planned communities, strip upon strip of shopping center and a Pappasito’s in every 2.5-mile radius. Culturally, we can look back wistfully on the times when Urban Cowboy and Dallas briefly influenced the rest of the country to buy boots and learn to two-step. Flash forward to now, and Texas is again in position to influence not only culture, but how new wealth shapes the way we work, live and interact. Our friends in the golf real estate sectors report promising benefits from this influx of new Texans. Ultra-luxury golf communities like Boot Ranch in Fredericksburg and Boerne’s Cordillera Ranch are reporting record land and home sales in communities that put quality of life and access to nature ahead of densely packing in homes to maximize profit. Our course architect friends like Mike Nuzzo and Bill Coore report that in addition to championship designs, innovative ideas for renovations and short courses are keeping them busy. TopGolf gives us hope that the game can become fun again and has a real chance of resuming growth. You have to love other “Texas is Everywhere” signals like heroes of the recent Ryder Cup (if a team that got trounced can have heroes), Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker and Hunter Mahan hailing from our state. State pride also beams over the accomplishments of reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gillman (a Lake Travis product) and Plano’s Will Zalatoris, who won nearly everything this past summer, including the U.S. Junior Championship. What legacies will be left behind from this boom? The cool thing is these generations living through this will get to define those legacies. Maybe in 2015’s version of Urban Cowboy, Matthew McConaughey will play a fed-up with software sales Austinite who decides to chase his dream as a brewer of finely-crafted beer. Will he open that little brewery in the scenic Hill Country? Will he win the heart of the manic pixie dream girl who teaches yoga by day and strums her heart out in an alt-country band by night? Will his East Austin rental property yield some ROI? Can he still stripe his driver like he did in that Al Pacino movie? Some people have given us funny looks when we tell them we’re launching a golf magazine at the end of 2014. After all, the game supposed to be shrinking, right? Honestly, we want to be a part of the growth and the “rebirth,” however it manifests. We’re excited to share the rich and growing legacy of the Texas Golf scene with you. We appreciate that you picked up this magazine and we want to do the best job possible bringing you stories that help you get more enjoyment out of the game. If you like what we do or if you have an idea about a story we should be working on, drop us a line at Keep Swinging, Carl Mickelson

The Place to Play in Las Vegas Registration is now open for the third annual Las Vegas World Amateur golf tournament. This prestigious amateur tournament combines championship golf with the glamour and excitement of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas World Amateur is to be played February 9-13, 2015, at some of the area’s best golf courses. There is no better way to combine your love of golf and the unique Vegas entertainment off the fairways. An early bird entry fee of $650 is in effect until December 23, 2014. Golfers may visit to register or receive more information. “The Las Vegas World Amateur has lived up to the hype in every way during the first two years, and we believe the 2015 event will go to an even higher level,” said Ann Sunstrum, executive director of the Southern Nevada Golf Association, the host organization of the event. “Las Vegas is the world’s perfect city to hold an event like this. The best measure of our success is the comments we have received from our participants. They love the tournament, the golf courses we play, the entertainment and parties we offer away from the course. Word of mouth is very positive regarding the Las Vegas World Amateur and we thank our sponsors and players for their continued support.” Participants will play three different golf courses in three days during the tournament. Several of the top golf courses in Las Vegas will be played during the tournament. Included in the course rotation for 2015 is Desert Pines Golf Club where you will experience the Carolina sand hills, tucked away minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, in the historic part of Las Vegas. This Pete Dye-designed golf course features over 4,000 mature pine trees lining the fairways with green grass running from tees to pins. You will feel transported to a place where you can enjoy the fresh, calming scent of real pine trees. White sand bunkers protect large,

The Las Vegas World Amateur package includes: • 54 holes of tournament golf, flighted by handicap, on a different course each day • Awards cocktail reception and dinner following round three • Tournament gift bag valued at $150 • Entrance to Scoring Central each afternoon which includes light hors d’oeuvres, prize drawings, and other surprises. • Thousands in prizes for flight winners and overall champions

Bali Hai GC

undulating, bent grass greens fashioned after those at Augusta National Golf Club. Although there are no forced carries, four lakes will add to the excitement and beauty of your round. New to the tournament rotation for 2015 is Angel Park Golf Club. There isn’t much more you need to mention about Angel Park Golf Club, other than it’s designed by Arnold Palmer and offers “The World’s Most Complete Golf Experience.” Palmer designed the two 18-hole golf courses, the Mountain and the Palm. Other amenities found at the facility combine to make it the total golf experience. The Mountain course features holes accented by rugged canyons and sparkling water. Gorgeous views of the entire Las Vegas valley and Red Rock Mountains are seen from fairways, greens and tee boxes. The signature hole of the Mountain Course is the 557-yard, par 5, 17th hole which plays to a two-part fairway separated by a dramatic desert canyon. A well-placed drive allows big hitters a chance to go for it in two but a challenging shot over a canyon waits on this risk/reward hole. Others will need an accurate layup to set up a short iron approach shot. Angel Park has been the recipient of several awards, including Best Golf Course in Las Vegas in the “Best of Las Vegas”, Las Vegas Review-Journal Readers Poll multiple times. The award-winning Bali Hai Golf Club which is located right on the Las Vegas Strip and in the shadows of major resorts will once again host the championship final round. Bali Hai Golf Club is a tropical golf experience that is played on the south end of one of the most famous boulevards in all the world. Bali Hai is a beautiful oasis in the desert and brings to Las Vegas a golfing experience that is typically found in the South

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Pacific. Hundreds of palm trees, lagoon water features, white sand bunkers and a spectacular clubhouse create a true golf beauty. Other courses to be played include Stallion Mountain Golf Club, Reflection Bay and Spanish Trail. The action does not stop at the golf course. Parties are a big part of the tournament package. All golfers are invited to an opening reception, to Score Central which follows golf each day as well as an Awards Dinner at the conclusion of the

event. The Gold Coast Hotel and Casino is the site of the Awards Dinner for 2015 that follows the final round of the Las Vegas World Amateur. The Gold Coast is true, old school Vegas with the all the bells and whistle of the 21st century. The 2015 Las Vegas World Amateur dinner will feature a full-course sit down meal created by top-level Gold Coast chefs in a professional and state-of-the-art setting. The champions of each flight will be revealed in a true Las Vegas fashion awards ceremony. The 2015 Las Vegas World Amateur is the place to play. Register before December 23, 2014 to save $100 off the entry fee. Please visit for more information.

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“We shoot for passion,” Elkington says. “We find people who love golf and what we film hopefully reveals why they love it so much. We’ve met a 102-year-old man in Jacksonville who walks nine holes twice a week. We’ve found love stories like a man and a woman who bonded over golf, fell in love and now run a golf course together in Alma, Georgia. The episode people talk about most is one we shot in Chicago on the Freedom Golf Association, showing an incredible program that gets amputees playing golf and loving life.” In addition to spreading a passion for golf, a core initiative of The Rural Golfer is to drive people to and There, golfers can join a community of passionate golfers and follow instructional modules designed to help golfers improve and build on their skills. Already boasting a healthy online following and a wealth of instructional content, has been an outlet for Elkington to connect with his fans and golfers determined to get better. “Between Jackie Burke and me, we have, I’d say, 150 years of experience in golf,” Elkington says. “We have a great system for helping golfers move forward.” Coleman says the blend of travel stories, human interest stories combined with the instructional elements make this show truly unique. “To be able to show the amazing power of the human spirit and how important golf is to so many people is a rewarding process. We can’t wait to see what who we’ll meet next because we never quite know where they stories will lead,” she says. Check your service provider to find RFD TV or visit for more information.

CHOATE JOINS LOFTY COMPANY IN TEXAS GOLF HALL OF FAME Steve Elkington has a golf swing so pure, it belongs in the Smithsonian. At 51, he should probably be playing tournaments, taking Ensure money from his Champions Tour buddies. Instead we find him uncomfortably atop a horse near Boerne’s Tapatio Springs Resort trying to lasso a rubber cow. There better be a good explanation for this. The Rural Golfer is the 1995 PGA Championship winner’s first foray into television hosting and production and it has already taken him on some wild rides. In three decades of traveling and playing professional golf, the Australia native (and longtime Houston resident) has met his share of characters. This new show on cable’s RFD TV is his chance to share their stories while also spreading some handy golf knowledge. Often that knowledge is dispensed with the aid of Elkington’s dear friend and legendary Champions Golf Club founder, Jackie Burke. A “slice-of-life” show, The Rural Golfer is less dependent on four-star resorts and tantalizing travel destinations and more focused on “human stories.” The team, including executive producer Judith Coleman, agreed to a staggering production schedule of filming 26 episodes across North America in 26 weeks.


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Longtime Sam Houston State University golf coach Ronnie Choate was honored in the Texas Golf Hall of Fame’s Pioneer category for helping lead the Bearkats to four national championships during two different stints as head coach. Choate joins Hank Haney, Chuck Cook, Bruce Devlin, Bob Rawlins, Bill Penn, Charles Dexter and Dallas Country Club as 2014 TGHOF inductees.


SHOOTOUT AT HORSESHOE BAY GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE Horseshoe Bay Resort is on a roll with its series of creative events luring in destination travelers. Hot on the heels of the Beer by the Bay musical festival, the famed Hill Country resort near Marble Falls recently conducted the first playing of the Shootout at Horseshoe Bay. The Shootout pitted 2004 British Open champion Todd Hamilton and LPGA veteran Kristy McPherson against long-hitting pro Jason Kokrak and LPGA player and former Big Break cast member Ryann O’Toole in a match play event on the scenic Jack Nicklaus Signature Summit Rock course. The match went down to the wire and tightened up considerably when McPherson holed a sand shot on the 17th hole to extend the proceedings. Kokrak (who reached the green on two of Summit Rock’s par fours) and O’Toole took their slim 1-up lead to the 18th then nailed a par putt to secure the win in the two-person Shamble format. “Our members and guests enjoyed getting an up-close and personal look at professional golfers and how they tackle a world-class golf course like Summit Rock,” said chief marketing officer Bryan Woodward. “We look forward to another great event next year.” Hamilton brought his Claret Jug trophy for the gallery to see and pose with and many guests found it to be

the fifth star attraction at the event. “Our members really enjoyed seeing a British Open Champion (Hamilton) play their course and we’re honored to have him play and be a guest of our facility,” Woodward said. The dates and contestants for the 2015 Shootout at Horseshoe Bay have not yet been named, but check out for future announcements.

TOUR-GROOMED COURSE COMING TO AUSTIN? Austin has successfully brought Formula 1 Racing, two of the world’s largest music and interactive festivals and the X Games to town in recent years. So why couldn’t this oncesleepy college town bring in a PGA Tour event or even a major? If you ask the folks behind Decker Lake Golf LLC, the barriers are few and upside could be tremendous. That team, led by Austinite and former PGA Tour player Joe Ogilvie, has already had officials from the PGA Tour and the United States Golf Association out to tour the 735-acre site at Walter E. Long Municipal Park (10 miles east of downtown Austin) where they would like to develop a 36-hole “world-class” golf operation. Phase One of a detailed plan presented to Austin City Council on October 23 calls for construction of a waterfront clubhouse overlooking Decker Lake and a first golf course


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to be designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. If the Decker Lake Golf group is awarded the contract to develop the project, the golf course, along with meeting, conference, dining and other amenities could be in operation as early as 2018, according to the proposal. Phase-Two plans call for construction of a second course five to 10 years after the completion of Phase One. City council must approve the granting of the contract to Decker Lake Golf LLC before anything moves forward. The land would continue to be owned by the city and golf course would be a luxury daily-fee operation with greens fees north of $100 for non-residents. “I foresee a Torrey Pines model where if you’re a local, you’re going to pay a little bit less and be able to get good tee times,” says City of Austin golf division manager Kevin Gomillion. “If you’re from out of

town, you’re going to pay a premium. The plan is to build a very sustainable property with very little water use, planting grasses that sip instead of drink.” Owners of land adjacent to the park have already expressed interest in building lodging. Gomillion says it’s exciting to consider what Coore and Crenshaw could do with property that has a variety of elevations, great trees and nearness to water. “The land has some native prairie grasses that remind a lot of people of the look Bill and Ben created on Pinehurst No. 2,” he says. “It also has views of downtown Austin in some spots.” At press time, Austin City Council had not yet ruled to grant the contract to Decker Lake Golf, so stay tuned to for updates on this proposed project.

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PAULSON NAMED NTPGA PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR Casey Paulson, vice president and co-founder of Dallas-based Beacon Land Development and former general manager and COO of Vaquero Club in Westlake, has been named the 2014 Golf Professional of the Year by the Northern Texas PGA Section. Paulson and Beacon co-founder Mike Abbott are well known for their innovative approaches to service and have grabbed recent headlines with their Bluejack National Golf Club project north of The Woodlands, which will feature a signature golf course design by Tiger Woods. We caught up with Paulson to discuss his insights on the industry and the latest developments at Bluejack National: Texas Golf + Travel: You are following in some big footsteps winning this award. Can you describe what it means to be part of a legacy of top golf professionals? Casey Paulson: I’m very proud of my relationship with the section and the professionals in it. It’s humbling to be a part of such a legacy. I just sought to do my best every day and treat members and guests as best as I can. This is really an honor. I can tell you that if I walk through the grocery store and somebody says, “What do you do for a living?” I can say, “I’m a PGA Golf Professional.” It’s a real honor for me. I want my fellow PGA pros to know that there’s no reason that you can’t run an operation. There’s no reason that you can’t be the most important person at your facility. TG+T: What pushes you to go that extra mile to create an excellent client or member experience? CP: Fist of all, it’s fun to see people have expectations. It’s fun to give people what they want before they ask for it. Not everything in service is about having a big budget. It’s about listening and caring and anticipating. It’s about, when you’re playing golf with a guy in your group and he says, “My battery ran out (on my GPS unit).” Then, you make a quick text message or radio call and one hole later, someone brings out a battery. That costs a dollar. It’s about making sure a guy’s iced tea that he likes, with a few Splendas, is in his car when he leaves. Again, the iced tea doesn’t cost anything. It’s that anticipating and acting. That can happen, and does happen, at every golf facility in the country. Great service can happen everywhere if people choose to be proactive and really connect with the customer. TG+T: Talk a little bit about being in the state of Texas in this new “boom time” and the optimism you have for what can happen at a property like Bluejack National. CP: I really think we’re in the right state at the right time, especially in an industry like ours. We’re cautiously optimistic about where things are going in the country and maybe it’s time for a development boom. If you look at a lot of the big-time clubs in the whole state, many memberships have spent a lot of money on renovations and upgrading their facilities in the past several years. That tells me that memberships and golfers and members are putting money back into their facility. Those are all really, very good signs. I think it’s nice to be in a healthy state.


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TG+T: At what stage of the development is Bluejack National now? If we walk on the property, what would we see happening? CP: I’m actually on the back porch of our little membership sales cottage. The whole front nine has been cleared. We’re basically ready to start the irrigation process and really get that going on the front nine. We’ll start some of the vertical development at the end of this year, in the next 90 days or so. We’re pushing towards an October 2015 opening of the golf course, on the first phase of the club house, which is a unique, cool building called The Porch. The last thing, at least for a golfer, is that the practice range has also been shaped and roughed in. We’re really excited, too, about our little thing we called the Playground, which is a little nine-hole short course, which is a lot of fun. Whether it’s for guys after a round of golf, looking to play an emergency gambling nine, or if it’s a couple of kids who just want to go out there all day and play a couple different shots. TG+T: Now that folks are seeing the plan and vision for Bluejack, how are they responding to seeing what you’re building? CP: People are excited about what we’re going to deliver. Knowing that we’re going to put the quality of the physical amenities in the golf course and the club house and the cool thing we have, called The Fort, which is kind of like a kid adventure-type place. The physical amenities are great and fortunately, people are pretty excited about the service culture that we’re going to offer. The realty team is excited. They’ve started taking reservations on some of the lots and they’re thrilled to open the gates and get going. TG+T: Reports everywhere say golf is on the decline in most categories- your luxury club category perhaps being one of the exceptions. What can we do to intelligently increase real golf participation? CP: I think you’re always going to have places that always work in certain environments, like some of the great private clubs in Houston and Dallas that will always be great because of the culture they’ve set up. The newer clubs need to embrace that golf may not be the same thing that it was at one time and it’s hard to get a kid off their wi-fi connection. I think, instead of fighting those things, we have to embrace it. It’s okay to make golf fun again. I think we’ve done a lot of things in the past 15 to 20 years to make golf not as fun as it could be. One of the things that we’re trying to make sure happens at Bluejack is we want people to find their golf ball. We want people to be able to play. We want people to be able to punch out. We’ve just brought back in some of the fun of the game. The game may need to be a little more causal than it has been before. Maybe a member has music playing in their cart. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t have to be as studious. Look at Top Golf, where it’s become fun and it has gotten beginners involved. It’s okay to let people have fun. Kids want to have fun, so if you’re going to grow to a game, it has to be that way.


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TWO-TIME PGA TOUR WINNER LEWIS IS WINNING HIS MOST IMPORTANT BATTLE Every life has its highs and lows. For J.L. Lewis, winner of 1999 John Deere Classic and the 84 Lumber Classic in 2003, the highs have been into the stratosphere and his lowest low has, frankly, been a little scary. Still, Lewis always seems to find life’s soft landing spots, coming back from adversity with a grounded perspective and an inspiring approach to helping others. In June 2012, Lewis was in Birmingham, AL, preparing to play in the Champions Tour’s Regions Tradition tournament when nagging pain in the middle of his back led him to seek a physician’s advice. Tests eventually led to the diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, a serious form of bone marrow cancer that is most likely to strike people (mostly men, and more than half of them, African American) over the age of 70. Lewis, now 54, was young to be battling the disease and perhaps that’s why he’s never really let it get him down. “When you go through something like this, you just face it and try to learn something from it,” he says. “I’ve learned a few things about patience and perseverance, realizing that there’s always somebody out there that’s got a tougher situation than you do.” Breakthroughs in medicine and genomics have turned what would have been a bleak prognosis into a hopeful one. In 2013, along with chemotherapy, Lewis received a stem cell treatment in which healthy cells were extracted from his neck, treated and then injected back into his bloodstream. “In the ‘90s, people were getting this diagnosis and being given three months to live,” Lewis says. “I’m told, if I stay healthy, I can live at least 15 to 25 years, maybe more, if the breakthroughs keep coming. Multiple Myeloma is treatable, but not curable. I’m always going to be fighting this and regular blood tests are just a part of my routine now.” In the time since his recovery, Lewis has found the Tour grinder’s answer to a “desk job.” He’s head golf professional at Salado’s Mill Creek Country Club and has rediscovered a passion for the lesson tee. “I think that helping people is my


FALL 2014

biggest purpose in life,” he says. “More than winning golf tournaments, the best way for me to help people is with their golf games.” Lewis also runs day-to-day golf operations at Mill Creek and he’s hopeful the property will grow into the kind of destination course he and its owners think it can be. “It’s an awesome piece of land and a really a special little layout,” Lewis says of the Central Texas hidden gem. “As the population of Austin grows north and Temple and Waco grow south, I really think we’re going to get recognition as one of the best courses in the area. The owners are committed to improving the place.” To look at the man, you would think he’s ready to strap on his spikes, tap his caddie on the shoulder and head down the fairway at a Champions Tour event. In reality, Lewis does feel great, until he doesn’t. “If I try to play two days in a row, I’m really tired,” he says. “I need more rest than I used to, but I’m hopeful that I can regain that energy someday.” The son of two Emporia, Kansas educators, Lewis has teaching in his blood and is enjoying helping Salado locals, including the high school golf teams, reach new heights. He also hopes he’s honoring the help he’s received from longtime friend and heralded Austin-

based teaching professional Bill Moretti. “I was blessed during my playing career to meet Bill when I was working in Lakeway. He helped me more than anyone I’ve ever met,” Lewis says. “He took me from being a shut-faced ball striker to a straight-ball hitter. After that, my mechanics became natural. I didn’t have to think about it. I could just go out there and focus on scoring because my golf swing was what I wanted it to be. He helped me with my career playing, but he also gave me a career after playing. We will be connected forever.” Lewis has always found ways to achieve balance. When he played on the PGA Tour, his wife Dawn and his children traveled with him. In times when he had only conditional status on the PGA Tour, he worked as a club professional, honing the business and teaching skills he now uses daily. Lewis could lament being stricken with a disease that rarely attacks someone his age, but he chooses to relish the rare opportunities he’s had before Multiple. “A very, very small number of people who get to play the Tour ever win. I feel very fortunate to have done it (twice on the PGA Tour and once in Mexico),” he says. “I’ve had 40 top10 finishes. I’ve been to Pebble Beach 20-plus times. I’ve played in every tournament at least ten times, and some of them fifteen times. It’s not like I haven’t had my shot. I’ve had a lot of shots.” Wherever that place is that survivors go to summon the strength and perspective they need to carry on, Lewis has clearly been there and, now he’s back. With a 30-year plan. “I’d like to see Mill Creek grow into the special destination I think it can be,” he says. “I’d like to keep improving as an instructor and a player, and I’d like to get in really good physical condition again. I want to watch my grandkids grow up. That’s big.” To join the fight against cancer and aid research like the stem cell breakthroughs that have helped J.L. Lewis, visit to see how you can help.

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itnessing Jordan Spieth’s transformative rocket ride to golf stardom is somewhat like watching Richard Linklater’s recent Oscar-worthy film Boyhood. In the span of 162 spellbinding minutes, Linklater introduces us to a likable six-year-old cloudgazer who, in a progression of touching scenes, builds character, learns who really has his back and discovers real strength while carving his path through adolescence. By the final moments, you’re gobsmacked at how proud you are of this fictional character. Over a jumbo Coke Zero, you’ve watched a boy become a man. As for Spieth, the 21-year-old Dallas native who seems to have the golfing world on a string, it only feels like minutes since we first saw the determined stare and fiery spirit that are now trademarks of the third-year pro’s burgeoning brand. After 54 holes at the 2010 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship, Spieth was conspicuous on the leaderboard, a 16-year-old high school junior tied for seventh (before slipping to a stillimpressive T-16 finish by the following afternoon). “I looked like I was nine years old,” Spieth


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quipped this past May when he saw the footage from 2010. Four and a half years later, he looks like he could play free safety for his alma mater, The University of Texas. At some point, without anyone really noticing, Spieth transcended the “overachiever” label and just started making a habit of achieving. With eight top-10 finishes and more than $4.3 million in earnings in 2014, he followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign with another elitelevel season, capped by a star turn at the Ryder Cup with partner and fellow Texan Patrick Reed. Spieth says while match play is miles away from stroke play and no week is like a Ryder Cup week, the confidence he and Reed garnered in heroically securing 2.5 points as a team for the losing U.S. squad will pay dividends when they return to regular tournament action. “Very rarely do you get to experience this kind of pressure, this adrenaline,” he says. “It’s only when you are in contention. It feels like the back nine Sunday of a major and you have it consistently, round-in-and-round-out in Ryder Cup play. I think the experience is going to do just loads for us on course individually in the future.”

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them. Some could take two years and some could take 20 years,” he says. “In order for it to actually happen, I’ve got to keep my head down, keep moving forward and work as hard or harder than anybody.” Anyone who spends time with Spieth echoes the assessment that he’s grounded and mature beyond his years. The son of two former college athletes, brother

time swing instructor, Brook Hollow Golf Club’s Cameron McCormick and trusted caddie Michael Greller. Both trust the 2013 John Deere Classic winner’s instincts and well-grooved swing. While stats suggest Spieth might be an “average” driver, he readily calls his tee game a major strength. “I don’t see a lot of players working the ball left or right the way I do. I focus on getting better angles into the greens rather than distance or making sure it’s in the fairway,” Spieth told Golf Digest earlier this year. The man knows him game. Proud of and grateful for his roots, Spieth gives back to the Dallas community that molded him into the champion and role model he’s become. He recently hosted the first-ever Jordan Spieth Shootout and Charity Concert at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas in Irving. The event benefited the Jordan Spieth Charitable Fund which supports initiatives for special needs youth, military families and junior golf. Jordan Spieth is in a good place. His beloved Dallas Cowboys are in first place. He’s just wrapped up a successful sophomore season on the PGA Tour. He’s still dating his high school sweetheart and even has a little time to hang out with the friends he grew up with. Still, there’s a determination in those eyes that suggests he can’t wait to get back to Augusta or any of the PGA Tour stops he now calls his office. “I play 30 times in a year, so that’s 30 opportunities to win a golf tournament. Each week, I come in thinking that I can win,” he says with a gleam. “Ultimately, if I’m having fun with it and really enjoying traveling like I am, I have the best job in the world.” Professional golf these days is impossible to predict, but it’s hard to count out a player with a win and five runnerup finishes in just 50 professional starts. Will 2015 be the year Spieth, who seems to do everything ahead of schedule, hoists a major championship trophy? Don’t count him out because he’s young. Even on the PGA Tour, they grow up fast. PHOTO: UNDER ARMOUR

Battle-tested at 21, Spieth has skills and a personality that have made him a headliner. He’s the man on the billboards he to use to look up to, yet he seems unfazed by the sudden fame and high expectations. “Time management is a little more difficult now, but when I’m on the course, I don’t feel any different at all,” he says. On rare occasion, the two-time U.S. Junior champion and former NCAA All-American shows glimpses of the impulsiveness of youth, but always seems to turn adversity into learning experiences. Spieth earned, then yielded a two-shot lead to Bubba Watson in the final round of this year’s Masters, but feels upbeat overall about the way he fought and performed. “I take a lot of positives going forward knowing that I was just a couple bounces away from being able to win The Masters,” he says. At 20, he would have been the storied event’s youngest champion. “So any other position I can be in now will be something I’ve already experienced, which is nice to draw back on. Just feeling more and more calm will allow me to keep on sinking into my game. I get very lucky on the golf course normally, so one of these days it will happen on Sunday.” A few weeks after his close call at The Masters, Spieth played in the final group at THE PLAYERS Championship and finished in an impressive but frustrating tie for fourth. Not only does Spieth believe he’ll pull through in the majors someday, so do his fans and peers. “I think he can be great,” Tiger Woods told the media this past summer. “He’s got plenty of power and confidence, and you can see how well he’s been playing. We played in a Presidents Cup practice round (in 2013), and I was, and still am, a big believer in what he can do in the game. He’s got all the tools.” A ringing endorsement from a 14-time major winner never hurts, but Spieth is well aware that leaving a historic legacy takes sweat and time. “I’ve set goals from when I was 15 years old. I still have yet to accomplish a couple of

Just 21, Jordan Spieth already has more than $8 million in career earnings in just two seasons on the PGA Tour.

to a college basketball standout and a heart-stealing 13-year-old sister with special needs, Spieth is an astute listener with a never-rattled pragmatism. “I’ve got a great team around me. I’ve got a great family. I’ve been blessed with both,” he says. “Ultimately, everything’s on path if I do my job. I think that if I’m having fun with it and not putting too much pressure on myself, I shouldn’t have a problem.” Also on Team Spieth is his long-

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Journey at Pechanga






2014 Christmas Classic presented by Callaway Golf DEL MONTE GOLF COURSE December 6-7, 2014

2015 San Diego Amateur presented by Callaway Golf AVIARA GOLF CLUB January 3-4, 2015

2014 Tour Championship presented by Callaway Golf POPPY HILLS GOLF COURSE December 20-21, 2014

2015 Temecula Valley Amateur presented by Callaway Golf JOURNEY AT PECHANGA February 7-8, 2015

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THE FINE ART OF LIVING: Boot Ranch Offers Hill Country Elegance Redefined


t’s almost impossible to imagine a community and golf club more emblematic of the prosperous and bold financial times Texas is experiencing than Fredericksburg’s magnificent Boot Ranch. Living there, or joining Boot Ranch Golf Club, is discovering the difference between having it all and having more than you could have ever envisioned. They don’t build communities like this in other markets because the acreage doesn’t typically exist. More importantly, the acreage is rarely this beautiful. Only a couple of miles from charming and historic downtown Fredericksburg and famous Enchanted Rock, Boot Ranch’s 2,000-acre luxury community has been artfully etched into the quintessential Texas Hill Country splendor surrounding it. The 55,000-square-foot castle-like Clubhouse Village sits high on a bluff, revealing 25-mile views of alluring hills, creeks, meandering oaks, stone formations and rapturous panoramas that somehow exhilarate and soothe your senses all at once.


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“When people tour Boot Ranch for the first time, it doesn’t take long to see what sets it apart,” says Andrew Ball, Boot Ranch co-director of marketing and sales. “People driving from Houston, for example, know we’re in the Hill Country but never imagine we’re situated perfectly in the geographical and spiritual heart of it. There’s really nothing like this.” Originally founded nearly a decade ago by former PGA Tour star and Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton, Boot Ranch was conceived as a destination club and residential community that combined the best elements of all the greatest clubs Sutton had visited and admired (and he’s seen them all). Today, Boot Ranch is widely considered one of the top 10 layouts in the state and the club’s amenities, unique infrastructure and

concierge-level service make the community stand tall as one of the most desired zip codes for golf-minded homebuyers and anyone who’s dreamed of living the ultimate Texas Ranch lifestyle. The panoramic Hill Country setting gives Boot Ranch Golf Club an almostunfair advantage in comparison to other elite golf designs in the state. Legend Jackie Burke once told Sutton “God sure used a lot of paint brushes when he painted this landscape.” The 7,250yard Hal Sutton signature design winds through a setting so hilly and picturesque, you feel as though you should be taking all that beauty in on horseback. This is the rugged, inspiring beauty that’s made the Hill Country famous. “The first time golfers play this course, it seems more about taking in all the natural beauty than shot values,

but they soon discover this is an exceptional championship layout that challenges you and holds your attention for all 18 holes,” says director of golf Emil Hale. “Whether you’re a scratch player of a 30-handicapper, the golf course is fun to play and the setting is just oneof-a-kind.” The golf course is the essential blend of everything experienced golfers have come to love about playing in the Texas Hill Country. Plunging elevation changes, vistas that go on for days, rippling creeks and rock outcroppings pull you into nature like few other settings can. The memorable par threes, elevated approaches and strategic fairway designs (that are generous but demanding) make Boot Ranch a great shotmaker’s course. The lush Bentgrass greens are a treat to try and master. The green formation on the short par-four 4 10th, with its waterfalls and cavernous creek fronting the putting surface, will you wanting to stay around to chip and putt there for hours. This hole was the filming location for a pivotal scene in the golf film Seven Days in Utopia, based on the popular book by local and Boot Ranch member Dr. David L. Cook. An unbelievable spot on the course where you can spend hours is the 34-acre practice park. Inclusive of a finely-groomed short course and massive driving range, this practice area is the envy of every club, or even golf academy, in the nation. “You can work on any and every aspect of your game here,” Hale says. Boot Ranch marries the best of ranch living with modern luxury, with three living options for discerning homebuy-

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ers. Estate Home sites range in price from $300,000 to $2,500,000 (2 acres – 18 acres) inclusive of club membership, with custom floor plans ranging from 2,500 to 15,000 square feet. An innovative, multi-structure offering, the Overlook Cabins are on 1/2 to 1-1/2 acres properties with all-in-prices starting in the $800’s, including lot, membership and completed structure of from one to eight bedrooms. These homes are designed in the traditional Fredericksburg architecture, mirroring the native stone and beloved farmhouse design seen in the area’s historic homes. Fractional ownership is available in one of several “Sunday Houses,” built as an homage to the small homes that area settlers built in Fredericksburg for use on their visits into town to attend stock up on food and supplies Saturdays before attending church on Sundays. Each Sunday House at Boot Ranch is actually a five-building complex clustered around a central courtyard, with four individual bedroom suites and a central “Gathering House.” Each Gathering house features a fully-equipped chefdesigned kitchen, a fireplace, room for


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large family gatherings, and large wraparound porches for taking in the stunning views and sunsets. Far ahead of its time and Texas’ current population boom when it first opened, Boot Ranch recently reported an eight-year record high for home and property sales. “We call Boot Ranch the ‘American Dream Texas Style’. The motivation for buyers seems to be for recreational property – somewhere where owners can golf, fish, dine, swim, relax and generally enjoy the Texas outdoors,” says Ball. “Many people say they just want to get their kids and grandkids out of the city, even if for only a few days or weeks at a time.” Owner and member privileges include access to the immaculate 55,000-squarefoot Clubhouse Village (beautifully designed in rustic native stone and handetched timbers that recall Tuscan village elegance), casual and fine dining with Executive Chef Aaron Staudenmaier, a fully-stocked wine cellar, golf shop, ReStore Spa & Fitness Center, the 4.5acre Ranch Club with pavilion, pools, tennis and sports courts, 10 member/ guest lodge suites, a trap and skeet range overlooking Longhorn Lake, hik-

ing, mountain biking, canoeing and fishing. Fredericksburg is growing in exciting directions. Still one of the most captivating and charming small towns in the South, this German village-inspired town is home to a thriving art scene, a farm-to-table culinary movement and, most noticeably, it’s become home to a wealth of high-quality and popular wineries, including the award-winning family-owned Messina Hof Hill Country Winery. “The quality of life here is hard to describe without sounding like you’re exaggerating, but it’s really incomparable,” says Ball. Just 75 miles from San Antonio and 85 miles from Austin on scenic routes, Boot Ranch is easily accessible and worth the drive. Just as it does on island time, the clock ticks noticeably slower in the intoxicating Texas Hill Country. And, man, those sunsets... If you think you’ve seen one finer than the ones enjoyed from the fireside terrace of Boot Ranch’s Clubhouse Village, you owe it to yourself to get there and compare. Visit to learn more about the singular Hill Country experience offered at Boot Ranch.




A picturesque fishing village nestled on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, Punta Mita is an oasis of white sand beaches and turquoise waters.


THE FOUR SEASONS RESORT PUNTA MITA OFFERS WORLD-CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS, GOLF, DINING, AND MORE Opened in 1999, The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is located in the gated community of Punta Mita in the Riviera Nayarit. Situated along Mexico’s Pacific coast just north of Puerto Vallarta, The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita features 135 guest rooms, 34 suites and four villas.




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The Resort’s architectural style of quaint Mexican-style casitas blends harmoniously into the surrounding natural environment. Amenities include three pools, two 18-hole Jack Niclaus-designed golf courses, a full-service spa, three renowned restaurants, a private yacht, tennis courts, and a Kids Club open year-round. The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita provides an extensive cultural concierge program, offering a vacation experience of unlimited variety plus the highly personalized service that Four Seasons guests expect and value around the world. Recent awards and honors for The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita include “Best of the Best Family Program” by Virtuoso luxury travel network (August 2012), as well as being recognized as one of the “World’s Best Places to Stay” in the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List (January 2013).


The Jack Nicklaus-designed golf club at The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is a spectacular attraction. The Pacifico Course, opened in 1999, is set amid vistas of white-sand beaches and the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains surrounding Riviera Nayarit. Eight holes border either the Pacific Ocean or Banderas Bay, and offer views of whales during their seasonal migration. Enjoy the novelty and challenge of Hole 3B, dubbed “the Tail of the Whale,” the world’s only natural island green. The Punta Mita peninsula’s tropical landscape of palms and flowering trees adds to the pleasure of playing this golf course, which is at once challenging for experienced golfers and friendly for beginners. At 7,001 yards, the Pacifico Course is par-72, and is spread over 200 acres. The Pacifico Course at The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is one of two Jack Nicklausdesigned championship courses available to guests.


The Bahia course features stunning lakes and water features, some meandering through multiple holes. In contrast to the original course, Bahia offers more undulating fairways and greens, making putting technique an important part of the playing experience. While the Resort’s beautiful natural landscape provides a stunning backdrop for the entire course, one of the most breathtaking holes has a downhill approach with a panoramic view of Bahía de Banderas. Another noteworthy hole is nestled on the beach just steps from Punta Mita’s famed El Faro surf spot. Play began on Bahia in 2009, and the course is 7,035 yards and a par-72. After golf, or for the non-golfer, The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita offers relaxing therapies in sun-soaked outdoor spas. Guests can enjoy massages, hydrotherapy and more, either on the beach with a panoramic view of the Pacific, or in the leisurely environs of our poolside cabana. Couples spa treatments are also available, with a private terrace available for postspa meals. When it comes to dining, The Resort proclaims “every meal is an experience.” Whether relaxing with a drink at a pool lounge or savouring one of world-renowned chef Richard Sandoval’s creations, guests are guaranteed a unique food and beverage experience at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita. The Resort’s beachfront dining options provide the opportunity to enjoy a range of grilled seafood and meats cooked on the expansive mesquite grill, or work with the chef to choose from a variety of fresh seafood right off a local fishing boat. Ketsi, open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is perfect anytime of day. Located near the pool with breathtaking ocean views, the restaurant is shaded by a traditional thatched palapa roof and serves modern interpretations of Mexican classics amid a chic casual Mexican-style décor. A la

In the style of Mexican beach homes, each guest room at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita offers simple, sumptuous décor and opens to a furnished terrace or balcony.

carte each morning features both American and Mexican favourites including the traditional chilaquiles. A variety of fresh, local fruits and vegetables are used throughout the dining menus, along with the catch of the day. At Sandoval’s Bahia, the restaurant takes full advantage of the daily bounty delivered to the Resort’s beach by local Puerto Vallarta area fishermen. Enjoy an innovative beach front grill menu that tastes just picked and just caught. Bahia is positioned to take advantage of the cool ocean breezes and some of the best views of Punta Mita sunsets. Three times a week, the chef gathers guests on the beach to participate in our famous “catch of the day” program, where guests can work with the chef to choose from a variety of fresh seafood right off a local fishing boat. The chef will prepare selections as requested.

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The holidays are already upon us, and there’s a lot to wish for come this season. The top manufacturers in golf have just revealed many of their new products for the winter. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, you’re gonna love these new clubs.


SCOTTY CAMERON’S FUTURA X5 PUTTERS Scotty Cameron’s Futura X5 putters ($375-$425/depending on model) come in several flavors, including a Dual Balanced edition. These wing-shaped, multi-material mallets e feature a stainless steel body and aluminum sole plate, plus an aluminum center that tha allows for a thicker face and higher MOI.

TAYLORMADE’S RSI 1 IRONS TaylorMade’s RSi 1 irons ($899/graphite, $799/steel) aim to improve shot consistency and distance on off-center hits. Slots at the heel and toe in the 3-8 irons -- just outside the score lines -are cut through the face and filled with an epoxy compound, for more consistent distance across the thin face.


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Cleveland Golf’s CG Black driver ($349) has a low CG and lightweight construction that collectively yield a high launch and revved-up clubhead speed. Which means more distance for slower swing speeds, seniors and women.

CALLAWAY’S BIG BERTHA HYBRID Callaway’s Big Bertha hybrid ($249) is adjustable for loft, lie and shot shape. A Hyper Speed face means high ball speed d for center and a offcenter hits. Available in lofts of 19, 22, 25, 28 8 and 31 degrees.

ADAMS GOLF’S TIGHT LIES HYBRID Adams Golf’s first-ever Tight Lies hybrid ($180) features a new nearly-invisible Ghost Slot in the crown that reduces stress on the face while creating a fast ball speed and high launch. Upside-down shaping and a low profile translate to a low CG.

TTITLEIST’S HIGH-MOI 915 Ti Titleist’s high-MOI 915 ($499) comes in tw two versions -- each designed for distance w with forgiveness through an “Active Recoil Ch Channel” on the sole, clubface that boosts ba ball speed on mis-hits, and adjustable loft. The pear-shaped 460cc D2 maximizes lo fo forgiveness and is easier to draw. The deepfa faced 440cc D3 has no draw bias, is more w workable and generates less ball spin.

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/ Q&A /






t’s hard to imagine a time when Michelle Wie was not in the media spotlight, beginning with her appearance at the USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship as a 10-year old in 2000. Now, after recently turning 25, Wie is still making headlines because of her breakout season with 12 top-10 finishes and two victories, including the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Currently in fourth place in the Race to the CME Globe, the season-long points competition currently led by American Stacy Lewis, Wie is once again a factor on tournament leaderboards after returning from a nagging hand injury that kept her away from competition during the months of August and September. We caught up with Wie, who graduated from Stanford in 2012 with a degree in Communications, for an exclusive interview with Texas Golf + Travel and asked about her recent great play and the resurgence of the Americans on the LPGA Tour.


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First of all, happy birthday and congratulations on such a great year. Are you getting used to being introduced as the current U.S. Women’s Open champion? Thank you. Being introduced as a major champion will never get old and I appreciate it every time I hear it. One of the great stories about your victory at Pinehurst, the week after the men’s U.S. Open was also held at No. 2 there, was that some of the PGA members shared their yardage books with you, specifically Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley. We don’t hear that much about the camaraderie between the PGA and LPGA, is it pretty prevalent? So many PGA and LPGA players live around Jupiter, and I’ve been lucky to find a good group of friends to practice and hang out with. I think it’s really beneficial practicing with some of the guys. I like the pressure and adrenaline that comes with trying to beat them and take their money. Everyone is chasing Stacy Lewis for the title. What do you feel is the strongest part of her game? I have said it before and I’ll continue to say it: Stacy Lewis is just so consistent. At the RICOH Women’s British Open this year, I jokingly called her annoyingly consistent, but it’s true. She’s always near the top of the leaderboard and even if she finishes second or third, she’s not happy. She wants to win no matter what. She’s become a good friend to me and she’s someone who really pushes me to be better. Honestly, I think the best part of her game is her motivation to be the best. I really admire that. You’ve been pretty open about how your college experience helped your game. You might be the only professional golfer who benefited from school by not playing golf. Why do you think it helped you so much? I have always felt that going to college was an important part of my life. It really helped me grow up. That’s the beauty of college – you don’t have anyone telling you what to do. You do it for yourself. I learned to better manage my time and how to create balance in my life. Was Stanford your first choice and what was it about that campus that made a difference? Stanford was definitely my first choice. In fact, attending Stanford was one of my goals growing up. My grandfather was a visiting professor there and my aunt and uncle both earned their degrees there as well. Being able to get my degree there will forever be one of my best achievements. You made a significant improvement in your putting, but we all know that putting can be streaky. Do you think since you have such a non-conventional putting approach that you would switch (techniques) more quickly if you started to putt poorly? I am committed to my current putting style and it’s been working really well for more than a year now. I think consistency is important even when things aren’t going well. As I’ve gotten older, I think I have a better perspective on changing things in my game. At this point, I expect to stay with the “tabletop” method for a long time. One of your keys to your success this year has been allowing yourself to not be so perfect, especially off the tee. Can you go into where that came from?

Well, I know that I’m not always the most accurate off the tee, but I also have a pretty good idea of what I can do with the golf ball. It’s really about course management. I’m really comfortable hitting the stinger 3-wood off the tee now and I can control it well. That shot helped me win the U.S. Open. You’ve been in the media forever and, as much as anyone, know the ups and down of being a public personality. Are you wary of the media at all, and, if so, how do you handle it? I have definitely had a lot of critics throughout my career, but I appreciate the media. I took a lot of Communications classes at Stanford and I’ve been on the LPGA’s Communications Committee for a couple years trying to help tell the LPGA story. Even now, the media is helping me to show my personality – my love of painting and fashion and cooking – which helps to grow my fan base. With success comes even more pressure to perform. Are you prepared for those expectations again, and are you more prepared to handle them? My career didn’t end because I won the U.S. Open. There is still so much more I want to do and I want the expectations. I have had a lot of ups and downs in my career and I think I am equipped to deal with whatever comes next. We’re a year away from the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany. How is the American team shaping up and are you guys already talking about it? We are definitely talking about it. We want to get the Cup back, but it doesn’t do us any good to say it. We just have to go do it. I promise you we are all excited and ready for Germany next year. The Americans have made quite a statement this year in women’s golf. Can you pinpoint any reason for that shift? I don’t know that there is one reason. We are all going out every week and trying to win. I think it just shows that the American players are more than capable. We need to keep winning to give American junior golfers some role models to chase after! You’ve worked very hard with your coach David Leadbetter on your swing. Is there one area that you still struggle with on the course? No, I wouldn’t say there is a real area of struggle, but I’m always working on every part of my game. In recent years, I’ve learned to really trust myself on the golf course. And I’ve also developed the mentality that one mistake will not be the end of the world. David has been an incredible source of help and advice with my golf swing and also with my approach to the game. You’ve had a great relationship with Nike and you’ve seen the quality of Nike equipment improve over the past few years. How has their equipment and your relationship with Nike impacted your game? Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of Nike. I’m so proud to play Nike equipment. I’m also a huge fan of the clothing styles they have developed. They are always so open to feedback and they do everything they can to help me play my best.


By Dave Pelz

WHY 14 IS STILL THE MAGIC NUMBER I recently had the pleasure of working with two very good friends who are also very talented PGA Tour players: D.A. Weibring and his son, Matt. During this fun coaching session I asked Matt to hit a number of 14-yard pitch shots with his eyes closed. D.A. chuckled. “Matt,” he said, “there are a lot of instruction theories out there, but only from Pelz will you hear that you need a 14-yard pitch shot.” I mention this because it comes straight from my research, which shows that what was true for D.A. when I first started working with him years ago is true for young Matt today. Research shows that the most frequent leave distance after missing a green is about 6 to 8 yards from the edge of the putting surface. In many cases golfers must carry this shot an additional 6 to 8 yards onto the green before letting the ball roll to the hole. This happens over a wide handicap range, including professionals. Hence my interest in Matt’s 14-yard pitch technique. I believe pros need to “own” this shot to the extent that they can hit it with their eyes closed. Try it using an X-wedge (64°), and stop the club when the shaft gets parallel to the ground in your backswing. Then accelerate down and through the ball and stop your motion when the shaft is straight up and down in your followthrough. This club/swing combination generates a 14-yard carry, a soft trajectory and ample backspin. You can use a lob, sand or pitching wedge with this swing to fly the ball a little lower, carry it a little shorter and roll it out a little longer. But get it right, because playing solid 14-yard pitches is a sure way to lower your handicap—and you’ll use it in every round you play.


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Paul Murphy recently fired a 62 on The Blue Course at Dallas Athletic Club

CAN YOU REALLY PLAY BETTER AS YOU AGE? On paper, 76-year-old Dallas Athletic Club member Paul Murphy is going about things all wrong. He’s never taken a lesson. He’s got a bum left knee and his fitness regimen is, well, nonexistent. On a scorecard, however, it appears Murphy does everything right. In May, Murphy fired a course-record 62 on the club’s famed Blue Course. That’s right, a remarkable 14 shots better than his age on the course where Jack Nicklaus captured the 1963 PGA Championship. Imagine playing the best golf of your life at the age of 76! Murphy’s no teaching pro, but that hasn’t stopped playing partners from pawing him for tips or any stray pearls of wisdom. He’s even had his fair share of autograph seekers. What works for Murphy may not work


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for everyone, but we gleaned a few bits of wisdom that may give you hope that it’s never too late to play your best golf. FLEXIBILITY IS A SECRET WEAPON As you get older, you don’t have always have flexibility you’d like to have. I go in the Jacuzzi almost every night and I also get massages. I walk out of that place and I feel like I have a new body. Flexibility on the golf course is crucial if you want to last all 18 holes. STAY PATIENT FOR 18 HOLES The day I shot 62, it was just one of those days I felt real good about the way things were going. I had made some nice birdie putts, but it wasn’t until I holed out for an eagle 2 on #12 that I felt like something special was happening. I made sure to enjoy the moment and stay in it.

From then on, I knocked in a few more putts, including birdies on the last three holes, but it wasn’t until that last eight-footer went in that I let myself celebrate. It went in and I thought, “Oh, my gosh. I just shot 62.” Then we started jumping up and down. I rarely shoot over my age and I break 70 about once a month, but that day, I only had 22 putts. I was calm and I made everything. NEVER FEAR NEW THINGS I have really worked hard on my putting and, in recent years, I’ve switch to the Claw grip. I wasn’t always a confident putter, but I feel much more comfortable over the ball now. Some days, I think I’m going to make most everything. You have to find what works for you. It’s just amazing, the difference in my game today versus 15 years ago.

KNOW THYSELF I’ve got a bad left knee. I’ve got bone touching bone and arthritis built up, so I’ve had to adapt to a different swing. Now, I can keep myself from shifting too much weight to my left side. If I shift too much, I can really feel that pain just shooting through my knee. I’ve gone to more of a narrow stance and it’s kept me from over-swinging. It’s also taught me how to swing within myself. I know exactly what I can do right at impact; how much I can release and how much I can’t. I know if I overswing or try to step too much weight with that narrow stance, I’m going to fall on my face. It’s really helped me slow down at the bottom and not lose my tempo. DON’T QUIT When practicing on the range, I often start off with half-swings to really feel what it’s like to go through the ball with decent acceleration. Some of the guys I see swing decelerate badly in their backswings. By the time they get to the ball, they don’t have anything left to hit it with. Deceleration is a killer. Same in putting; decelerating with the putter is awful. DECLUTTER YOUR MIND I’ve never had a formal golf lesson. I used to subscribe to everything having to do with golf and my head got so cluttered that I felt one day enough was enough. I did away with all my subscriptions. I really don’t watch lessons on the Golf Channel anymore. I’ve gotten rid of all my checklists. When I stand over the ball now, there’s not much going on in my head. I just try to make a good swing through the ball. That’s helped me probably more than anything, getting rid of all that clutter. GRATITUDE NEVER HURTS I still have no idea still why the good Lord blessed me to (shoot a courserecord 62). There are a lot of golfers out there that could have done the same thing or better. You can’t believe how many “lessons” I give now. I just get so much joy from helping people. I know what it’s like to play bad. I’m working with people on so many different techniques, I’ve made a lot of new friends. I never imagined getting so much satisfaction from playing a game.

GAIN CONTROL WITH THE “LOW BURNER” WEDGE SHOT By Tom O’Brien, Jr. Have you ever seen a PGA Tour player hit that low, burning wedge shot that looks like it was bladed, but when the ball hits the green, it bounces twice and comes to a screeching halt? You can hit that shot. You just have to create the correct bottom of the swing with a simple technique. Most people think the objective when hitting 70- to 110-yard wedges shots is making really solid contact and getting their hands well ahead of the ball at impact. That may work for some, but I think a perfect wedge shot feels like a “thin hook.” That may sound like an odd combination, but next time you’re practicing short game shots, try to nearly top the ball while hooking it (coming through impact with a closed clubface). This makes the bottom of your swing arc wide and shallow and this helps you hit reliable low-spinning wedge shots. The fact that the face is slightly closed and de-lofted keeps you from skulling or blading the shot. You will feel the hooking motion with your right hand (for righties). The club head will feel very low and aimed very much to the left when you’re hitting this shot. Feeling like you’re slightly “thinning” the ball will create that wonderful low wedge shot with great stopping action. A shortish backswing with no wrist cock will help, too. The great Ben Hogan used to tell people “I hit it on the second groove when hitting that shot.” Anyone who thought he was exaggerating should think again. I have found my distance control is significantly better when my wedge shots come in low as opposed to high. This is particularly true when the wind is blowing hard. So don’t try to make really solid contact with your full wedge shots. Try to hit thin hooks and magically, the low spinning wedge will become a valued shot in your arsenal! Tom O’Brien Jr. is the Director of Instruction at Wildcat Golf Club in Houston, Texas. E-mail for more information.

FALL 2014



BEAR RAID Baylor Strikes Early in Crowded Big 12 Race


nder the direction of new head coach Mike McGraw (who coached Oklahoma State to a national title in 2006 and was assistant coach on Alabama’s NCAA champion team last season), the 10th-ranked Baylor mens’ golf team has come out hot, asserting itself as rising force in the ultra-competitive Big 12 Conference. The Bears won their first tournament of the year, September’s Gopher Invitational (Independence, Minn.), by 16 shots. Senior Kyle Jones, who has finished no worse than 11th all season, tied for third at that event. One month later, senior Mikkel Bjerch-Andresen captured the Royal Oaks Invitational by one shot as team finished one shot behind Oklahoma State in solo second. The #5 Texas Longhorns, the team many experts picked to win the Big 12 and contend all the way to the NCAA Championship at Concession Golf Club in Sarasota, Fla., picked up an important victory in October, edging Virginia by a stroke at the U.S.

Collegiate Championship in Atlanta, Ga. The Longhorns went 21-under-par as a team in the three-round event, revealing the promise that Coach John Fields hoped he’d see from his young, muchtouted squad.

Mikkel Bjerch-Andresen and Kyle Jones (above) have Baylor in contention for a Big 12 title run.

Sophomore Gavin Hall (ranked #14 by Golfweek) leads the Longhorns with top-10 finishes in all three events he’s played, while fellow sophomore Beau Hossler and freshman phenom Scottie Sheffler have also pitched in with sixthplace finishes. Fields likes his team’s depth. So far, eight players have traveled and competed for Texas. All’s not so quiet on the Lubbock prairie as Texas Tech has opened its season with fourth-, second- and third place finishes, buoyed by strong play from senior Clement Sordet and freshman Guillermo Pereira. Look for seventh-ranked Tech to contend as its young talent develops going into the spring season.

AAC TEAMS START STRONG Bryson Dechambeau predicted in the summer the Southern Methodist University Mustangs would deal just fine with the sudden departure of coach Josh Gregory. So far, he’s done his part to lead the team, winning the Erin Hills Intercollegiate in October and propel-


FALL 2014

ling the 16th-ranked Mustangs to a second consecutive T-2 finish as a team. Freshman Ben Baxter has kicked off his college career with ties for second and seventh. The 28th-ranked Houston Cougars hope to give SMU a chase in the American Athletic Conference race. The Cougars captured the Miramont Invitational on the strength of a secondplace finish by senior Roman Robledo and a T-3 showing by freshman Michael Perras. If a deep Cougar squad heats up this spring, look for them to push SMU and fight for an NCAA Championship tournament bid.

(Above) Bryson Dechambeau leads a solid SMU squad. (Right) Baylor’s Hayley Davis won the Betsy Rawls Invitational this fall.

Szeryk opened the season strong, leading the team to a pair of T-3 finishes. Texas senior Bertine Strauss has recorded two top-10 finishes this fall to lead a struggling Lady Longhorns team. At October’s Schooner Fall Classic, Strauss set a new 54-hole pro-

gram scoring record by recording a 54-hole total of 207 (-3). The previous mark was held by Madison Pressel, who won the 2011 Big 12 Championship with a 208 total. For regular college golf updates visit

WOMEN’S BIG 12 PICTURE A MYSTERY With a two-under finish, Baylor senior Hayley Davis claimed individual medalist honors at October’s Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, helping her team claim third. Currently the 36th-ranked women’s collegiate player, Davis also finished second at the Schooner Fall Classic after closing with a 4-under 66. Her three-day 9-under 201 broke Baylor’s 54-hole school record by eight strokes. Led by freshman Maddie Szeryk and sophomore Marijosse Navarro, the Texas A&M women’s team is on pace to make a run for the Big 12 title and earn entry into the NCAA tournament.

Does Texas have another “Dream Team”?

FALL 2014




When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.” – Haruki Murakami By Mike Nuzzo


ld golf courses are special to us. They have developed character through their history, often with many and continued improvements. Sometimes you can make an older golf course significantly better and more enjoyable with just a few changes. Our team had that opportunity recently in New York and the work we did is a great example of how a fresh approach and some practical changes can really enrich a site. Located on the south shore of Long Island, NY (just three miles from John F. Kennedy Airport), the 102-year old Woodmere Club sustained extensive flooding and storm-surge damage during 2012’s devastating Superstorm Sandy. In over a century as a storied and revered private club, Woodmere-which was expanded to 18 holes by Robert Trent Jones in the 1950s-- has weathered it all: droughts, the Great Depression and wars. When Sandy covered Woodmere’s golf course and clubhouse in six feet of salt water, restoration became a must. The staff’s lack of ability to water killed several greens and compounded the problems brought by the sea salts. An especially unfortunate loss was a stand of 100 decades-old pine trees near the fourth and 10th holes. Their loss eliminated much of the strategy for the two bordering holes. Understandably, some members wanted the trees to be replaced, but take a look at the result and see if Woodmere made the right call. The work our small team (including Don Mahaffey, Joe Hancock and the superintendent Tim Benedict) constructed on the 10th hole was designed around the existing green. Previously, the hole had four bunkers that looked


FALL 2014

like symmetrical jigsaw puzzle pieces. We removed those dated bunkers as if they were pairs of bell bottom jeans. We then replaced the bunkers with tight green surrounds and one large greenside bunker that hugs the right side of the green. The sandy bluff was transformed into a large bunker complex that ate into the landform and separated the 10th and 4th holes. The new bunker complex entices players to challenge the sand, to receive better playing angles and to get more rewarding bounces. Woodmere was brought to prominence by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and his work included many of his trademarks, including several rectangular “runway” tee complexes. The club has continued to stretch out additional tees as an homage to the popular feature by Jones from the 1960s. One such complex served as inspiration, as we were able to build the 10th and 4th tees into a singular V-shaped runway tee. This allowed for a longer 4th hole and the proximity created a more intimate setting between holes for a greater sense of community. It’s now easier for members to talk to each other and see how other golfers are playing. We were also able to remove at least one dozen view-obstructing items from the tee-

ing area. Cart path, ornamental trees, curbing, fences, hedge rows, bushes were all removed. What remained was an expansive vista that immediately showcased the property as soon as a member or visitor entered the gates to the course. We were even able to connect and combine the two fairways into a massive conjoined 130-yard expanse. This past winter, we had the opportunity to see a group of players whose tee shots were spread out by over 100 yards and in an even greater variety of places. Now the 10th and 4th holes play with far more strategy and look fantastic. The member who brought us onto the project says our work was “a home run!” We will be getting another turn at the plate to improve another piece of Woodmere soon. We can’t wait! Mike Nuzzo is an innovative Houstonbased golf course architect. Visit www. to keep up with his recent work.


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Texas Golf + Travel  

Fall News

Texas Golf + Travel  

Fall News