Golf Central Mag- Vol 24 Issue 2

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WWW.GOLFCENTRALMAG.COM A Golf Experience Like No Other











Sam Snead once said, “When you finish playing The Cascades, you’re going to clean every club in your bag.” Celebrate the centennial of this iconic course, host to 8 USGA championships. Widely recognized as one of the finest mountain courses in the country, this William Flynn masterpiece has been described as “golf in its purest form.”






Sweetgrass and Sage Run: dramatically different, but equally exceptional!

Award-winning golf has become a centerpiece of the Island Resort & Casino, home to both Sweetgrass and Sage Run Golf Clubs. Sweetgrass is consistently ranked among Golfweek’s Best Courses, featuring an open layout with some of the game’s most fun greens to putt. Sweetgrass proudly hosts The Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass — part of the Epson Tour - “Road to the LPGA” and the future of women’s golf. Sage Run Golf Club provides a different kind of golf experience, where holes flow through hardwoods and around a ridge, providing a thrill ride for golfers of all abilities.

5 5 4 4 8 8 2 2 4 4 5 28 16 10 31 23 27 131 127 75 75 94 94 43 90 196 75 90 94 80 90 Green Bay Madison Eau Claire Iron Mt. Ironwood Ashland Dubuque Milwaukee Grand Rapids Chicago Lansing Detroit Grayling Traverse City Makinaw City Escanaba Houghton Marquette
2022 Late Season, Double Occupancy

Situated in Pennsylvania’s majestic Laurel Highlands, you will discover a golfer’s paradise at the always-adventurous Nemacolin.

Nemacolin presents two breathtaking courses designed by the legendary Pete Dye: Mystic Rock and Shepherd’s Rock, delivering thrilling shot values, sweeping mountain views, and esteemed recognition.

Golf Digest 2022 Best Golf Resorts in the Mid-Atlantic

Golfweek 2022 #1 & #5 Best Courses You Can Play in Pennsylvania

Golf Digest 2022 Editors’ Choice: Best Golf Schools & Academies

Sharpen your skills at The Nemacolin Golf Academy, where expert instruction, state-of-the-art technology, custom fittings, and multi-day bootcamps improve your game.

Book an ultimate getaway to this incomparable destination for golf, spa, world-class cuisine, art, wine, and all-season adventure. Your trip of a lifetime awaits!

All experiences are exclusive to overnight guests and members. 844.873.1708


Mad Respect!

As the only regional women owned and run golf publication, we have every reason to turn up the music because it’s time to celebrate Mother’s Day and Women’s Golf Day! Elisa Gaudet founded the Women’s Golf Day concept in 2016 that has now grown to reach global respect and participation, starting May 30th through June 6th. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, we encourage you to take part in this worldwide celebration and show your support for women’s golf. We’re honored to acknowledge all the incredible women taking significant strides in the game and industry. From the legendary Babe Zaharias to current champions like Lydia Ko, women golfers have demonstrated remarkable skill, athleticism, finesse, and sportsmanship...AND are making record purses.

Mad respect to our loyal, industrious and entrepreneurial women of the golf industry like the proud mothers of Beau Rivage, it’s always fun to hear about their children’s accomplishments, the women of Orca, and of course those who support and contribute to the publication! Among others, Jennifer Jolly, Bev Wise, Becky Galloway, Holly Geoghegan, Nafanua Marlowe, Amy Fox, Melahn Cable, Shannon Coates, and Angi Perretti! We are so proud to feature stories about women who are making a difference in the world of golf, and women who are excelling in their careers and personal lives on and off the turf. We hope that these stories inspire and motivate our readers to pursue their own passions, dreams!

We also raise a glass and recognize all the incredible mothers, especially my own fun and flirty mother (no idea where I get it), sweet Polly, and my stunning daughter, Tonyia Fulghum. We owe them all the love, respect, and gratitude for all that they do. The first Sunday of the month also gives us the opportunity to cherish bereaved mothers, therefore; to ALL mothers, stepmothers, single mothers we wish you a very joyful Mother’s Day and hope that you take time to reflect of your bad ass skills as a parent. Recognize the women who have made a difference in your lives, who’ve inspired the Young Guns, who raised the pros, taught the beginners, hold us accountable, and set new standards for us all in golf!


Publisher: Terrie L. Purdum (

Edi tor in Chief: Shannon Coates (

Graphic Design: Melahn Cable

Social Media Manager: Nafanua Marlowe

Golf The Wise Way: Greg and Beverly Wise, Photojournalists

Photojournalist: Greg Corbo

Photographers: Lynn Pelham, Brion Price, Peter Hakansson

Mike Coonan, Becky Galloway, Madison Coates, Mac Carraway

Senior Correspondent: Rick Harris, Sr.

Contributing Writers: Jay Golden, PGA; Bob Bolton, Greg Corbo, Elisa Gaudet, Holly Geoghegan, Mike Jamison, Mike May, Anthony Williams

Editor Emeritus: Joel Jackson, CGCS Retired

Regional Partner: Doug Hollandsworth, Founder-Georgia Golf Trail

Turf Pirate: Anthony Williams

Video Visionary: Amy Fox

Media Partners: DSP Media; John Gerber, JP Peterson, Nick Geddes, Holly Geoghegan, Golf Insiders, GMS; Tony Leodora, Traveling Golfer

Golf Central Magazine is published monthly by: Sand Hill Publishing & Public Relations 4313 Berwick Dr, Lake Wales, FL 33859

NEW PHONE: 863.875.6863


©2023 Golf Central Magazine. No portion of this publication may be reprinted without the prior written permission of the Publisher. Editorial contributions are welcome, but Golf Central Magazine assumes no responsibility for unsolicited proposals, manuscripts and photographs. All materials submitted not accompanied by a selfaddressed stamped envelope will not be returned. Mailing, electronic mailing or faxing of contributions constitutes an expressed warrant on the part of the contributor that all material is original and does not infringe on the rights of others. Golf Central Magazine retains all reprint rights and reserves the right to edit any submitted material to meet our specifications for publishing and or use in advertising or promotion. The Publisher and staff are not responsible for any loss or grievance by any person or persons whatsoever, due in any way or in part to the content of this publication. The Publisher reserves the right to refuse to accept any material deemed inappropriate or in bad taste.

6 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
from the publisher
Volume 24, Issue 2
2009 North Florida PGA Amateur of the Year 1. Shannon and her daughter, Madison 2. Melahn and her daughter, Lea 3. Nafa and her son, Jacob 4. My daughter, Tonyia, with her children Tyler and Sydney 5. Holly and her mom, Holly 6. Jennifer and her mom, Jenna 7. Angi and her new grandbaby 8. Beverly and her son, Travis 9. Becky and her sons, Dewayne and Chad 10. Amy Fox with her mother 11. Me and my mom, Sweet Polly

N e w l y r e n o v a t e d i n l a n d s t y l e 1 8 H o l e C h a m p i o n s h i p G o l f C o u r s e d e s i g n e d b y N i c k P r i c e a n d C r a i g S c h r e i n e r .

N E W m o d e r n i z e d c l u b h o u s e w i t h a v i b r a n t c a l e n d a r o f s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s y e a r - r o u n d , l i v e y o u r b e s t l i f e !

M e m b e r s h i p p r o v i d e s a c c e s s t o t h e e x c l u s i v e b e a c h - f r o n t

O c e a n C l u b S u b j e c t t o A v a i l a b i l i t y

S e a s o n a l l y i n s p i r e d d i n i n g o f f e r i n g a v a r i e t y o f l o c a l & r e g i o n a l

m e n u i t e m s

@grandedunesmembersclub @grandedunesmembersclub
8 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 FEATURE 10 Beau Rivage Resort & Casino Cart Girl 22 Pairlon Dunagen Florida Golf Central 12 Sugar Mill Country Club Golf Bachelor 16 Raymond Klaus Golf Bachelorette 14 Rhonda Spratt Golf Fore Charity 42 On Course Foundation Golf Travel 18 Gaylord, MI 34 Heliflight Improving Performance 32 Golf Depot Turf Life 52 Turf Pirate 54 Ron Kirby: Apes Hill 56 Old Corkscrew 58 Star Turf Farms Women in Golf 24 Suzie Whaley 30 Amanda Roberson Cencer 40 ORCA Golf Departments 20 Leader on the Links 28 Georgia Golf Trail 36 Private Times 38 Golf History 44 Country Club Socials 46 NFPGA 48 SFPGA 50 Product Showcase FeatureArticlePg10 Volume 24, Issue 2 34 WWW.GOLFCENTRALMAG.COM AGolfExperienceLikeNoOther 14 16
Must be 21 years or older to enter the casino. Gambling Problem?Call 1.800.9.WITH.IT or text INGAMB to 53342! With Pete Dye’s modern gem and a classic Donald Ross course together at the same resort (plus casino action after your rounds are in the books), southern Indiana hits that sweet spot of golf and gaming. French Lick Resort’s Pete Dye and Donald Ross Courses #1 & #2 in Indiana, 12 straight years | Golfweek’s “Best You Can Play” Top 100 nationally, 10 straight years | Golfweek’s “Best Resort Courses” Get started at Secure your tee time (888) 936-9360 Group planning (8+) (812) 936-5825 2X 2Xthe PLAY TIME SCAN TO PLAY

Bonding with the Boys Beau Rivage and Fallen Oak offer Epic Guys Getaway

Looking for your next guys getaway?

Put Coastal Mississippi on your radar. With a year-round mild climate, some of the nation’s best golf courses, endless outdoor activities and Las Vegas-style gaming and entertainment, the region has everything needed for epic bonding with the boys.

For golfers, the crown jewel is Fallen Oak, a Tom Fazio-designed masterpiece exclusive to guests of MGM Resorts International’s Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. Fallen Oak annually sits atop Golfweek’s rankings for Mississippi’s Best Course You Can Play and at No. 2 on the Best Casino Courses list, behind sister course Shadow Creek.

Nestled on the edge of the De Soto National Forest, Fallen Oak’s terrain of native wetlands, towering oaks, pecans and magnolias creates an ever-changing landscape. The atmosphere, which has been described as “a bygone Southern era,” stretches 7,487 yards and features sprawling bunkers, plush fairways, dramatic elevation changes and gently rolling greens.

Fallen Oak’s recent enhancements ensure exceptional challenges to golfers of all levels. Guests are greeted to the valet and bag drops area by newly-planted Japanese Yew flanked by Shishi and

Camellias, Lantana and Butterfly Irises creating a welcoming and enticing color palette. A hydrangea garden bordered by river birch trees directs golfers from the parking area to the stately clubhouse.

Nearly one mile of new cart path weaves throughout the course, where deer, turkey, herons and egrets are regulars. All of the course’s 10 wooden bridges that cross over natural streams and wetlands have been reconstructed, and all bunkers have been refurbished.

Aside from changes to the course itself, several “creature comforts” have been added for players, including climate control with air conditioning and heating in all of Fallen Oak’s rest areas. On the driving range, golfers can take a few swings to some of their favorite tunes from new solar-powered speakers.

Complementing the course, Fallen Oak’s 12,000-square-foot clubhouse resembles an Acadianstyle Southern mansion. Aesthetic and equipment upgrades in the restaurant and kitchen enhance the guest experience at the 19th

10 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 feature
The 19th Hole at Fallen Oak

hole, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the 18th green and a majestic fallen oak, which gives the course its name.

For those looking to test the waters, the Coast is a sportsman’s paradise, with more than 200 species of fish up for grabs in the Gulf of Mexico. Fishing charters that handle all of the licensing, bait and tackle are available, as are boat rentals, large enough to accommodate all of your buddies.

In addition to championship golf and world-class fishing, the region also offers world-class gaming and entertainment. Take a break and catch all the day’s sports action shown on 100 HDTVs at Beau Rivage’s BetMGM Book Bar & Grill, located on the resort’s 85,000-square-foot gaming floor that’s home to more than 1,400 slot machines, 80 table games and 15 poker tables.

Beau Rivage towers 32 stories and reigns as the state’s most extraordinary resort with 1,740 rooms that recently underwent a $55 million remodel. Inhouse dining options include 12 restaurants and four bars and lounges where live entertainment is offered nightly. Headline acts perform in the 1,550-seat Beau Rivage Theatre, with the worldfamous Jabbawockeez taking the stage in July. The AAA Four-Diamond resort also boasts a tropical pool, spa, retail promenade and the region’s only Topgolf Swing Suite.

To book your getaway or for more information, call 888.567.6667 or visit

Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
Fallen Oak Hole No. 7 BetMGM Book Bar & Grill World-Class Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico
Fallen Oak Hole No. 1 Fallen Oak Hole No. 18
12 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 florida golf central
13 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2

Where were you born? Did you grow up there? I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Most of my childhood summers were spent with my grandparents in Boley, Oklahoma or in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with my Uncle, Aunt and cousins. I resided in OKC until I relocated to Atlanta, Georgia over 25 years ago.

Is “acting your age” overrated? Yes, it’s overrated. I believe aging is a mindset. You’re never too old to pursue a dream or goal.

What do you do for a living? I am a commercial real estate professional for a local real estate developer and I am an entrepreneur.

Movies:…comedy, drama, action, romance? I am actually a huge movie buff and love all genres of movies so it›s difficult to choose only one genre.

Favorite Movies: Eat, Pray, Love. BraveHeart, Legends of the Fall, Man in the Iron Mask, Girls Trip. I’m also a huge fan of Marvel movies.

What else would you like for us to know about you? I am a breast cancer advocate and the Founder of a nonprofit organization, Bella Luve’ Goes Pink, Inc. The organization was created to honor the memory of my mom who lost her battle with metastatic breast cancer. I’m passionate and committed

Rhonda Spratt

to educating women on the importance of breast health & early detection. And, I am passionate about supporting the healing of women living with breast cancer and amplifying breast cancer awareness in the Black and Brown community.

Aside from golf; what do you prefer for fun and relaxation?  For fun, I enjoy travelling to different cities and countries and immersing myself in the culture. For relaxation, I love to carve out time to indulge in self-care. My Self-Care routine includes walks on nature trails followed by a Spa day which includes a massage, facial, mani and pedi. I also consider travel as a form of Self-Care.

Tell us something about yourself that only your closest friends know. I am an interior design fanatic and a Homegoods junkie. I have a keen eye for beautiful interior design and enjoy decorating my home and for family and friends.

What do you fear the most? I fear not fulfilling my God given purpose.

What three people would you most like to play with in your fantasy golf foursome? Barack Obama, Kevin Costner and Idris Elba.

Relaxed evening at home, or nightclub and cocktails? Cocktails (Lemon Drop Martini) and an evening at home.

Last book you read? The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

What golf apparel do you like to wear?  I like to wear A-line golf skorts with a flouncy hem.

Name the three most important things to you in this world. 1. My Peace 2. My Health  3. My Daughter

Favorite charity to support? CURE International

Whom do you most admire for their inner and outer beauty? Tabitha Brown

What is the most annoying habit people demonstrate on the golf course? Taking the game too seriously. It’s a sport, relax and enjoy yourself!

Tell us about your first kiss? My first kiss was so long ago I barely remember any of the details, I do remember the guy on the receiving end of my kiss though...LOL

14 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 golf bachelorette

Getting to BOYNE Golf has never been easier. Fly into nearby Traverse City (TVC) — or our newly renovated private 5200’ airport at Boyne Mountain. Our 10 magnificent courses are closer than you think. Call 855.427.6316 to plan your 2023 trip today. THE TRIP, EASY.

Raymond Klaus

Where were born? Did you grow up there? Born in Southern New Jersey, but was a child of coastal living. Is Acting your age overrated? Way overrated! Age refers to chronological number, youth is in your mind, body and soul.

What do you do for a living? I am a National Commercial Account Manager for CMR Construction and Roofing.

What would you like to do for a living? Working for CMR is excellent! We have a company culture that is top notch and I love being a part of the CMR Team!

Aside from golf, what do you prefer for fun and relaxation? I have traveled the world to surf, fish and enjoy any ocean-related activities.

What golf apparel do you like to wear? Ralph Lauren, Greyson and Travis Mathis.

Whom do you admire the most for their inner and outer beauty? Amanda Erwin.

Steak, Chicken or Seafood? –Seafood! Living in South Florida, it does not get any better!

Relaxed evening at home, or night club and cocktails? Relaxed evening at home with a fine bottle of wine!

Tell us something about yourself that only your closest friends know? I enjoy Oenology! “The Science of Wine”

Tell us about you first kiss. I snuck a kiss from a girl I was holding hands within the 7th grade and got punched in the eye! Lol!

What do you find the most annoying habit people demonstrate on the golf course? Not understanding golf course etiquette.

Given the choices, would you select love, success, or money to keep yourself happy? Love, because it is so powerful that it changes your chemistry and impacts how you relate to others.

What three people would you like to play with you in your fantasy foursome? Fred Couples, Paige Spiranac and Holly Sanders.

Favorite Comedian? Chris Rock, he always kills!

Last book you read? “Rationality, What it is, why it matters and why it seems scarce” by Steven Pinker.

Favorite Charity – The Susan G Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer and all the charities we support at CMR.

16 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
golf bachelor

Quality, Quantity, History Mark Gaylord Golf Mecca’s Destination Success

Gaylord, a Northern Michigan lumber town since the 19th century and known as the Alpine Village, has been the premier U.S. summer golf destination for 36 years, though its genesis of magnificent resort golf started decades before.

In 1987 Harry Melling, a flamboyant auto industry supplier and NASCAR team owner who had previously purchased a ski resort on the edge of town, branched into golf by unveiling the Masterpiece, the last major golf course design by the legendary architect, Robert Trent Jones Sr.

The award-winning work by Jones attracted golfers to what Jones and Melling decided to name Treetops Resort and quickly put Gaylord in the national golf conversation as the summer must-stop in the Midwest. As a result, that same year, 36 years

ago, the cooperative marketing group, the Gaylord Golf Mecca, was formed combining the shiny new resort with a surprising collection of golf that had been

created over the previous decades.

Gaylord Golf Club, with roots dating to 1924 but developed on its current site in 1975, was a shining example of well-

18 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 golf travel
By Greg Johnson
Treetops – the Masterpiece Otsego Resort

established golf in the region, the ever-developing Garland Lodge & Golf Resort had been welcoming golfers in some fashion since 1951 and the Classic Course at Otsego Resort first opened in 1957.

Over the years The Pines at Michaywe’ had been building a

Signature, Tradition and starpowered Threetops of Par 3 Shootout fame were fashioned by Treetops’ popular golf pro, renown teacher and course designer, Rick Smith.

The Natural at Beaver Creek Resort debuted in 1992. Black Lake Golf Club up in Onaway

marketing group in recent years. It is celebrating 100 years of golf on its classic and semi-private course this summer. The original nine holes were first built in the 1920s by Wilfrid Reid, a legendary member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

Today the Gaylord Golf Mecca is 17 courses strong in its membership with three multiple-course resorts and nine properties total, as well as 21 lodging partners. This year some 300,000 rounds will be played on the collection of courses, and there is room for more.

“I never envisioned the growth we have today,” says Paul Beachnau, executive director of the Mecca group since its inception.

“I imagined us to be reasonably successful in developing a cool niche of the golf market, but what it has led to in terms of the number of golf courses here in Gaylord and in Northern Michigan, the quality and the number of world class designers that have found us, that is just amazing.”

reputation as a championship venue since its opening in 1972, and in 1991 and 1996 hosted the Michigan Amateur Championship.

Lakes of The North’s first nine holes opened in the early 1960s and another nine were added in the early 1980s.

The Gaylord Golf Mecca expanded as the area was a central part of the golf course building boom of the 1990s, too.

Treetops Resort added the only Tom Fazio-designed course in Michigan, the Premier, and the

The Mecca’s current president, J.T. Aude, the head golf professional at Gaylord Golf Club, one of the original Mecca members, said the group has long realized that together they are stronger.

“Together we all strive to offer quality and quantity, and together we have unmatched price points, getaway golf, classic golf, resort golf, great country club style golf, some of the best-conditioned courses in the country. While we are competitors, we know what’s best for all of us is to work together to be the best summer golf destination we can be.”

19 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
Garland Lodge & Golf Resort Gaylord Golf Club Indian River

A Fresh Perspective: Doug Coors Takes The Reins of Edel Golf

Premium golf equipment

manufacturer Edel Golf has recently come under new ownership by former CoorsTek executive Doug Coors. Once a customer of the brand, Coors’ curiosity about Edel Golf’s innovative fitting systems and golf clubs led to his eventual ownership.

Doug Coors hails from the worldrenowned Coors brewing family. With a degree in engineering physics from the Colorado School of Mines, Coors chose to enter the family ceramics business. As an innovative executive at CoorsTek, Coors expanded the company’s product portfolio, invested in research and development, and committed the company to environmental sustainability.

In 2014, he was presented with the opportunity to get involved with a new startup outside of the family business of beer and ceramics. He oversaw the creation of North America’s first artificial surf pool, NLand Surf Park in Austin, Texas. In 2018, Coors sold the company to World Surf League and Kelly Slater. While in Texas, Coors was recruited by a friend to visit Edel Golf to offer suggestions on its manufacturing processes. Included with this visit was a putter fitting by the company’s founder David Edel. After going through this process, Coors immediately saw the potential of the company and acquired full ownership from David Edel in 2020.

While now his career, golf has always been a major part of

Coors’ life. In the seventh grade, his grandfather sent him his first set of golf clubs, a set of righthanded clubs even though he was left-handed. Being new to the game, Coors turned to his best friend and former PGA Tour player Craig Kanada for guidance.

Now boasting a 3.1 index, Coors loves the game and regularly plays at his home course in Golden, CO and around the world.

In December 2022, Doug Coors expanded Edel Golf by opening a new headquarters and assembly facility in Denver, CO.

20 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 leader on the links
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Where did you grow up? Gainesville, GA

Which group of people did you associate most with in high school? I wouldn’t say I was associated with a specific type of “group” in high school. I got along with everyone and had friends in different social circles.

What is your favorite sport to play? Favorite to watch? My favorite sport to play these days would probably be golf, but I also love playing basketball. My favorite sport to watch is football. Go Dawgs!

What do you feel makes this club special? I think the relationships I’ve developed throughout the club is what makes it so special to me. Between my coworkers and the members, we are all one big family.

What is your favorite part of being a cart girl? What is your least favorite part? My favorite part of being a cart girl is being out there for the golfers

Pairlon Dunagan Pairlon Dunagan

and bringing a smile to their faces. I hope I can be a positive part of their day, especially if they aren’t playing very well.

If you weren’t a cart girl, what would you be doing? If I wasn’t a cart girl, I would be a full-time wedding and portrait photographer.

What is your memorable moment working as a cart girl? Would probably have to be the few times I’ve had a flat tire. Towing the beverage cart is always an adventure, to say the least.

What is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen on the golf course? We have some hilarious members at Sea Palms. They never fail to make me laugh with their awesome dance moves and jokes.

What type of music do you prefer? I listen to a wide range of music from country, rap, and indie

but if I had to choose a favorite genre it would probably be R&B.

What hobbies do you enjoy? I love being creative so some of my favorite hobbies are painting, reading & photography.

Favorite comedian? Matt Rife

Favorite type of movie? Action and adventure, specifically anything with the Avengers!

Favorite charity to support? The American Heart Association. I have had several family members die of heart attacks, so this charity has always meant something to me on a personal level

What else would you like for us to know about you? I just graduated with my Associate in Arts from College of Coastal Georgia! My next step is to pursue my photography career and go into the family business.

22 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 cart girl

Whaley to receive Walter Hagen Award during 2023 PGA Championship

The 2023 PGA Championship, the second major of the PGA Tour season, will take place May 1821 at historic Oak Hill Country Club, in Rochester, NY. This will mark the fifth year since the championship moved from August to May and the fourth time Oak Hill has hosted the PGA Championship.

Rochester is located on Lake Ontario, alongside the historic Erie Canal, in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, . The city rose to prominence as the birthplace and

home of some of America’s most iconic companies, including Eastman Kodak, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb along with Wegmans, Gannett, Paychex, Western Union, French’s, Constellations Brands and more. It is also known for its culture, technology and education, and is home to several prestigious institutions including the University of Rochester and the renowned Eastman School of Music.

Perhaps one of Rochester’s little-known identities is the city’s love affair with the game of golf. Long before the King, the Golden

Bear, the Shark and Tiger, Rochester was the birthplace of one of the most colorful and successful professional golfers of his time, Walter Hagen.

Hagen, aka “The Haig,” was born on December 21, 1892, and grew to become one of golf’s most flamboyant and captivating characters of the early 20th century. He was considered the world’s first full-time tournament professional, a career that began at the age of seven, working as a caddie at the Country Club of Rochester to help pay the family’s bills. The club was locat-

by Holly Geoghegan
24 women in golf Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
A century apart in time, two Upstate New Yorkers are forever linked by the weight of their contributions to the game and the PGA.

ed across the street from Hagen’s home, where he became the head golf professional in 1913.

Known for his dashing clothes and showmanship, Hagen won his first professional tournament at the age of 21. His impressive career included 45 professional tour victories, including 11 major championships. He was the first American-born player to win The Open Championship and served as Captain of the U.S. team in the first six Ryder Cups. Hagen was a Founding Member of the PGA of America in 1916 and helped to popularize golf by playing hundreds of exhibitions around the world. He was the first golfer to earn a million dollars in his career and helped raised the status of professional golfers as well as their earnings.

In 2019, in honor of the legendary golfer, the Country Club of Rochester initiated and presented the first Walter Hagen Ambassador of the Game Award to recognize “individuals who contribute to the growth of the game.”

“Mr. Hagen opened the doors of

clubs and courses around the world to professional golfers, previously only open to the “elite,” said Matt Parrilli, President of the CCR Board of Stewards.

By doing so he crossed the threshold of inclusion for many to enjoy and compete in the game of golf.”

This year’s Walter Hagen Award recipient is LPGA Professional, Suzy

Whaley. A dual member of the PGA of America and LPGA Teaching & Club Professional division, Whaley is truly in a league of her own as one of the most accomplished anddistinguished female professional golfers and instructors in the game.

Whaley was the first woman elected to serve as an Officer of the PGA of America and the first female to serve as President of the PGA of America. She famously qualified and played in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open becoming the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to qualify for a PGA Tour event. This shortly after Whaley became the first PGA of America female professional to win the Connecticut PGA Championship. Her numerous state victories led her to being inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame.

Her tournament resume is long and prestigious including her recent participation in the 2022 PGA Cup, the PGA Club Professional Championship, The USGA Senior Women’s Open, and the LPGA Senior Women’s Championship.

“To receive an honor named after Walter Hagen is extremely

25 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
Walter Hagen was widely recognized for his stylish flair, but he had the substance to back it up, capturing 45 professional tour events and 58 total professional events. He was the first true US golf star and a founding member of the PGA of America. Like Walter Hagen, Suzy Whaley is multi-faceted. In addition to her administrative skills as the first female to lead the PGA of America, her playing skills helped her become the first female since Babe Zaharias to qualify for a PGA Tour event. (photo credit: USGA/Chris Keane)

gratifying and humbling because few people had a greater impact on the game than he did,’’ Whaley said. “He had few peers as a player. (His 11 major titles trail only Jack Nicklaus’s 18 and Tiger Woods’ 15). And people forget that he captained the first six U.S. Ryder Cup teams.”

The 56-year-old Whaley has been a trailblazer in her own right with her numerous accomplishments, awards, and break-theglass-ceiling moments for women’s golf along with her leadership roles with the PGA and LPGA in growing the game. She handles it all with a unique grace and ease, and a welcoming and approachable style, that is immediately apparent from her warm and radiant smile.

Second to none is Whaley’s love, dedication and commitment to teaching the game. Whaley has conducted hundreds of youth clinics and coached various teams that have won national and international tournaments. She has instructed more than 300 children who have gone on to play collegiate

golf and has been recognized as one of GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers in America, Golf Digest’s Top 50 Instructors and LPGA Top 50 Instructor.

Whaley has also worked as a head golf professional, is currently a golf commentator for ESPN and is a mom who raised a family along the way. There are few and far between her.

A native of Syracuse, NY, Whaley is a 1989 graduate of the University of North Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Whaley and her husband, Bill, are both PGA Members. Bill is the National Director of Golf for the PGA Tour Properties Division. They have two daughters, Jennifer and Kelly.

Whaley will be presented the Walter Hagen Ambassador Award on Wednesday during PGA Championship week at the Country Club of Rochester. She remembers fondly the city’s love affair with golf, reflecting her own, and the way it supported the LPGA when it was an annual tour stop in Rochester for 38

Whaley’s talent for teaching is also widely recognized as being among the best in the country by GOLF Magazine, Golf Digest and the LPGA. Above, she poses with Team Florida at the 2022 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship. Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America

consecutive years.

“When I reflect, golf has given me far more than I ever could give it back,’’ she said. “I met my husband Bill through the game. My daughters play the game. My mom was my first teacher and caddie. It’s been a part of so many facets of my personal and professional life. To receive an award named after somebody who made golf what it is today and to receive it in a place that means so much to me is truly exciting.”

Holly Geoghegan is President of Golf Marketing Services, host of the Golf Insiders podcast and former director of communications for the LPGA TOUR. She is a native of Rochester, NY, a junior champion from Oak Hill, and lives outside Orlando, FL.

26 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 Makef ield Putters 2023 ING Award Winner: Product Ingenuity; Emerging Companies New Year’s Resolution: MAKE MORE PUTTS New half moon T-F and T-F Tour debuted at 2023 PGA Show Visit or email to find out more about these sleek new models

Driving for show, putting for dough, and talking about golf in Georgia. That’s what Doug Hollandsworth, the Founder of The Georgia Golf Trail, has been doing in recent months. Last fall, Hollandsworth spent parts of three days as one of the main on-air ‘talents’ for a 26-minute video about The Georgia Golf Trail, which was produced by Georgia Public Broadcasting. The video, titled A Fork in the Road, was shot on-site at three state park locations in Georgia. In each section of the video, Hollandsworth

The Georgia Golf Trail is Showcased on TV

played golf with a representative of the three golf courses. The state park locations where the video was recorded were Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course at the Richard B. Russell State Park in Elberton, Georgia; The Creek Golf Course at the Hard Labor State Park in Rutledge, Georgia; and the Brasstown Resort & Spa in Young Harris, Georgia.

A Fork in the Road made its broadcast debut at 12:00 pm/ noon (Eastern) on Saturday, April 29. And it will be re-broadcast many more times on Georgia

Public Broadcasting in the coming months. It is expected to be seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers on television alone.

“We appreciate everyone involved at Georgia Public Broadcasting, David Zelski and his staff, the locations we filmed at last fall, and their staff and Georgia Grown,” said Hollandsworth. “We will be promoting this for months around the USA.”

Throughout the video, the ‘voice over’ was provided by David Zelski, who produced, wrote, filmed and edited this video.

“Our mission is to create, produce and distribute high quality programs and services that educate, inform and entertain our audiences and enrich the quality of their lives,” said Zelski. “The Georgia Golf Trail is a premier golf haven and a travelers’ paradise.”

The purpose of A Fork in the Road is to showcase the diversity of golf courses available along The Georgia Golf Trail

“Our state park golf courses are the cornerstone of The Georgia Golf Trail,” said Hollandsworth. “And, there are many recreational opportunities at these state parks for family members when other family members are playing golf.”

The video starts at Arrowhead Pointe GC, near Elberton in

28 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 georgia golf trail
By Mike May
Brasstown Valley 11th Green Doug Hollandsworth with TV crew at Hard Labor State Park

northeast Georgia. The overhead footage of Arrowhead Pointe surrounded by Lake Richard B. Russell Lake is superb.

“Arrowhead Pointe is one of the prettiest golf courses in Georgia,” said Hollandsworth. “This state park is a wonderful place to visit.”

Hollandsworth is correct as the camera doesn’t lie. And, the exemplary work of Arrowhead Pointe GC superintendent Clay Nolan is on full display.

In addition to playing Arrowhead Pointe, visitors can overnight in one of 20 two-bedroom/two-bath cabins which border Lake Richard B. Russell. During the day, visitors play disc golf, go boating, fishing, and swimming in Lake Richard B. Miller.

The second state park golf course featured is The Creek Golf Course at the Hard Labor State Park in Rutledge. This state park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to Hard Labor State Park manager Carol Sanchez, this facility has nearly 160 acres. In addition to a first-class golf course, visitors can go horseback riding and hiking. Cottages are also available to rent for overnight visitors.

This state park is easily accessible from Atlanta.

“We are an hour’s drive from Atlanta,” said Karl Gross, the general manager/head golf pro at the Creek Golf Course.

The third golf course showcased is at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, located in Young Harris. In addition to playing golf, visitors have access to a spa, pool, and equestrian activities. Inside the lodge is 50foot wood-burning fireplace.

“With Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest point, in the background and surrounded by mountains, the golf course sits in a valley,” said Steve Phelps, Brasstown’s director of golf.

This Scottish-style links golf course is in excellent shape and is a joy to play.

Inside the dining room at Brasstown Valley, visitors have access to a menu which is filled with locally grown options.

“Visitors enjoy coming to Brasstown Valley and can’t wait to return,” added Hollandsworth.

To watch A Fork in the Road, visit Georgia Public Broadcasting’s website.

29 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
Creek at Hard Labor, behind 5th tee Arrowhead Pointe Golf Club along Lake Richard B Russell
Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 women in golf 30
31 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2

The Golf

Depot in Gahanna, Ohio ( is Central Ohio’s premier golf practice facility with over 60 grass tees, eight covered heated hitting bays, a five-hole par-3 golf course, two large chipping and putting greens and an indoor TrackMan for all-weather practice.

Established for over 10 years, The Golf Depot provides golfers of all skill level the unique opportunity to work on all aspects of their game at one facility.

Owners and PGA members Gerry Hammond and John Gerber, along with local business entrepreneur Cy Chambers took over the facility in the middle of the pandemic. “The challenges of the pandemic were motivating for us, exclaimed Gerber. “It gave us an opportunity to provide some relief to people and get them exposed to an outdoor activity.”

The Golf Depot and The Hammond Golf Academy provide first class instruction with five PGA instructors providing personal

instruction, daily and weekly clinics, and summer camps for kids of all ages and ability.

In keeping with the sports community close to home in Columbus, The Golf Depot is the proud sponsor of the Ohio State Buckeyes Daily Blitz podcast, heard across the Fan Stream Sports broadcast network and hosted by long-time Columbus radio veteran and weekend host at 97.1 The Fan, Jeff “Tito” Thitoff.

In 2023, The Golf Depot will partner with The First Tee of Central Ohio. “The addition of The First Tee of Central Ohio brings two great organizations together to grow the game and enhance young people’s lives,” said Hammond.

Hammond enjoyed the privilege and honor of being the leader and director of the initial First Tee in Ohio almost 25 years ago.

Also in 2023, The Golf Depot will be breaking ground on a new 2,000 square foot indoor teaching and training facility. “This addition will provide a practice facility unlike any other in Central Ohio,” said Chambers.

For more information about The Golf Depot, check out our website at , contact us at (614) 861-8200, follow us on Twitter at @TheGolfDepot, or email us at

32 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 improving performamce

We’d Like To Put A Few Holes In Your Vacation Plans.

Quite a few in fact. You see, our Fairfield Glade Resort offers 90 dramatic and challenging holes of Championship Golf. And our Stonehenge course was named among the top public courses in Tennessee by Golf Digest, GolfWeek and Golf Magazine. But your vacation doesn’t have to be all about golf. There are also 11 pristine, cold water lakes for boating and fishing, miles of nature trails, a state-of-the-art Racquet Center and a convenient on-site restaurant. This year, plan to spend your vacation at Fairfield Glade Resort. Come see why we’re called the state’s holey land for golfers.

For information or reservations, call 931-707-2052 • www.fairfieldgladeresort .com. Located between Knoxville and Nashville, just a few miles from I-40 (Exit 322)

Now the fun

Heliflight? Heli yeah!

If you’re an avid golfer in the Northeast, you know that finding transportation to and from the course can be a challenge. Fortunately, when you depart from

a New York City heliport, you can be at any one of the world’s best golf courses in under 30 minutes.

When you choose to charter a private helicopter, you can be sure that you and your friends will arrive rested and ready for your golf game. Just let us know how many guests will be flying with you and how many sets of clubs. Our flight coordinators will take care of the rest!

South Florida is one of the premier vacation spots for golfers. With beautiful beachfront courses and lush green fairways, there’s something here for every skill level and player. With numerous championship courses, golf in South Florida offers a unique experience that can’t be found anywhere else. Visiting these courses in South Florida can be a blissful experience – but it’s not without frustrations. With heavy traffic and long commutes, transporting clubs and moving from course to course can take a lot of work and time. Fortunately, when you depart from a South Florida helipad, you can be at one of your favorite Florida golf courses within minutes.

Discover the ultimate golfing experience with a private helicopter charter to your favorite course. Imagine arriving at the greens refreshed and ready to play without the stress of waiting in traffic or lugging your clubs.

Whether you’re teeing off in the Northeast or South Florida, HeliFlite can get you there. Get in touch with a HeliFlite flight coordinator to book your helicopter charter to your favorite course.

34 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 golf travel
It’s well known that some of the best golf courses in the United States are in the Northeast and South Florida.

Lessons learned from taking a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane

As many Florida clubs sit back and take a breather from one of the busiest golf seasons to date, many on the Gulf Coast are hit with the instant anxiety of another summer of hurricanes.

David Kent, the General Manager of The Golf Club at Crown Colony in Fort Myers, Florida knows firsthand what managing a club after a hurricane is like. David’s club and community took a direct hit from Hurricane Ian just 9 months ago. It was later determined that Ian reached Category 5 status at land fall and The Golf Club at Crown Colony sits just 5 miles away as the crow flies.

As time passes, most folks forget about weather events of Ian’s magnitude if they don’t necessarily live there. Still today, Fort Myers is left with bent street signs, blue tarps and empty lots where homes once stood.

So, we thought we would revisit with David, and his superintendent Paul Bacon, to reflect on where the club has come since Ian left his wrath. Whether you are a golf enthusiast who loves to play or club official looking for some good ole’ fashion wisdom ahead of another hurricane season, David and Paul will share a few thoughts on their experience and managing the post-Ian effort.

David, looking back to the day after Ian hit, how impressed are you with how your team mobilized to get the club on track to reopen?

"I was absolutely amazed and proud of the resolve, efforts and collaboration of the entire team.  They truly expressed their love of each other and the club after the storm.  The efforts were above and beyond, thorough and tireless, resulting in the club opening just 2 weeks after the storm."

What was the support of the membership like during clean-up efforts and notifications of staff effected?

"The support of the Board of Governors and membership as a whole were beyond any expectation imaginable.  They showed their love of the club, staff,

fellow member and the future of the club through their time and financial support of the club and staff needs. The club had many of the staff lose their cars, homes, belongings, etc. The membership was there to support every step of the way."

As we enter yet another hurricane season, what are a few lessons learned in terms of preparedness that you will take with you in the future?

"Expect the unexpected.  Mother nature showed us the sheer power of water, when many presume the wind will be the primary source of damage. We have completely restructured our hurricane plan to be better prepared for another disaster such as Ian or worse."

Paul, the day after the event, and getting your first tour of the property, what did you think? How long did you realistically think it would take to clean up and did you beat that estimation?

"My first reaction was relief that our members and resident’s homes had been spared the flooding and people were safe, then shock set in at how it was possible for the Gulf of Mexico to cover the whole golf course. I was feeling fortunate that our entire course is Paspalum and

36 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 private times
Paul Bacon –Superintendent

therefore salt tolerant, I knew that the grass would survive if we could just get water to it.

After assessing the damage to the infrastructure and clearing access routes I thought we would be closed for a month or more, bridges were washed away, all electrical components were destroyed, we wouldn’t have irrigation water for a long time, salinity levels were through the roof."

Is there any advice you would share with other superintendents who might be in the path of a major hurricane in the future? Pre and post event.


• Take more precautions than you think necessary, the time spent preparing the golf course, facilities and infrastructure has the potential to save you very large sums of money and enable your members to be playing golf much sooner after the storm.

• Closing the course early gives you all the time you need to make preparations and one extra day before the storm could mean you open multiple days earlier after the storm.

• Give yourself and your employees plenty of time to make preparations for their homes and


• Make use of members who want to volunteer to help make ready the course and facilities, they care about the golf course too and extra hands always helps.


• Don’t be in a hurry to start getting the course back together, take time to evaluate the severity of the damage and how safe structures are before you and your employees get started.

• Set realistic goals for your team to accomplish daily so the whole recovery process doesn’t seem overwhelming.

• Start by making roadways and

access routes accessible for your members/residents and also your employees and support team so they can safely travel around the property.

• Use the support of other club employees if they are willing to help, their livelihood is likely tied to the golf course being operational.

• Allow yourself and your employees to take care of repairs on their homes and support their families.

• Reward yourself and your team when you get the golf course and facilities operational for your membership, you accomplished a huge undertaking that exceeds your general job description!

37 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
Crown Colony Grounds Staff
golf history

The Women Behind the Team Bags at Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown

You’ll notice the uniforms, and the flags, and the anthems and the comradery. If there’s one thing the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown does well, it’s to showcase the national pride from the best women golfers in the world.

This month at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco – one of America’s best public golf courses and the perfect spot for what is always one of the fieriest competitions on the schedule – fans saw the game’s best playing for their countries in a unique team format.

There’s nothing like putting on a uniform and playing for your flag to bring out the competitor in you. But you will also notice something else: the golf bags.

Each team will be sporting customized golf bags created by a dynamic duo of women who founded ORCA Golf, a company that not only supports women in the game, but whose founders give back in big and small ways to young girls.

“When it was time for us to do our ‘back nine’ in life, we thought about golf,” said Erica Bennett, co-founder along with her partner Deb Bennett. “Golf was part of Deb’s reality and she

40 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 women in golf
Courtesy of the LPGA
Erica Bennett Deb Bennett

encouraged me to play golf as well.

“Deb was always in charge of large teams. At one point she had over 300 engineers in nine countries. So, when we decided to do something for ourselves, we were thinking philanthropically. With Deb’s business acumen, we decided to form an investment company that would raise money for girls who were using AI coding technology.”

The pair would be successful at any venture. Deborah Bennett is the daughter of a West Virginia political family who spent many years in Washington working in politics, then NGO’s, then education. Her contacts and business acumen gave the pair a head start.

Erica was born and raised in Jamaica with five siblings in a house with no electricity or running water. The family read together by the light of a lantern her mother made out of a glass bottle, a cloth wick and some kerosene. “It was a modified Molotov cocktail,” Erica said, “but we gathered around that one light and read.”

An artist, author and television presenter in Jamaica, Erica wanted to use her artistic skills for good after immigrating to America. That’s where the idea for ORCA Golf came in.

“When we started this (investment) company, we needed a golf bag,” Erica said. “We thought, what better way to advertise what we are doing than through a golf bag, because we are approaching golfers.

“We started a journey to find a golf bag that represented us. We wanted something high quality. There was one company we found that could do it – our competitor, now – and they said, ‘We can do it but not in the detail that you want,’ and it was incredibly expensive.

“That is when we decided that our ‘back nine’ would be designing golf bags that the whole world

would talk about. We would make them high quality, and we would make them personal, custom designing them for the individual or the company (or the country).”

Deb chimed in to praise Erica’s efforts at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown.

“What Erica did for the Crown is she created a functional bag that a player will appreciate everywhere,” Deb said. “When it came to designing the team bags, because it was a women’s event, she chose the flower of each country and put it on the front pockets of each bag.” That idea came from Erica’s Jamaican heritage.

“I wanted to do something special for each country but that would also be personal and special for the individual players,” Erica said. “When I grew up in Jamaica, I loved flowers. When I would run to my grandmother’s home, there were always lots of flowers along the way. So, as I was thinking about the designs of these bags, I thought that I would go back to my 10-year-old self and ask myself, what would that little girl put on there? The answer was flowers.”

“The national flower of the United States is a rose,” Deb said. “It was so deemed by Ronald Reagan. So, on the American team bag, instead of finding a stock image of a rose, Erica used something from our garden in Virginia.

“The point is: every bag has a story. That’s one of the reasons

we have tried to keep our names and faces out front with the company – not because we want to be famous, but because we want people to know that there are real people behind these products, people who are creative and who care about what you want.”

They also care about giving back. ORCA Golf is a supporter of LPGA*USGA Girls Golf. And the couple continues to support young girls looking to excel in the areas of science and technology.

“It’s about giving back,” Deb said. “At this stage in our lives, that is our focus.”

41 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2

On Course Foundation Kicks Off Annual Fundraising Campaign During Military Appreciation Month

On Course Foundation kicked off its annual fundraising campaign during Military Appreciation Month (May), prompting wounded, injured and sick veterans to use golf as a vehicle for physical and mental recovery, and harvest newfound confidence into careers in golf.

Corporate and individual contributions are earmarked to expand On Course Foundation’s impact across America. The organization currently conducts free educational programs in 15 regional markets for Service men and women develop golf business and golf playing skills.

Apollo Global Management, Barclays, Charles Schwab, CSX, Callaway, Clubessential and Summit Golf Brands are among the On Course Foundation sponsors saluting the military, the game of golf and vastly improving lives which otherwise would have spiraled downward.

“Golf is a powerful tool during the rehab process and for a lifetime,” says John Simpson, Founder and Chairman of On Course Foundation. “There are countless psychological and physical difficulties in assimilating back into society, and golf eases transformations into

productive family, professional, social, financial and athletic lives.”

Thousands of On Course Foundation members have benefitted from the organization’s golf education and career services. Exhibiting profound changes of character, they are placed in full-and part-time jobs with, , Invited, Marriott Golf, TaylorMade Golf, Topgolf Callaway Brands, and TPC Network , as well as at golf courses, country clubs and resorts coast to coast.

Many On Course Foundation “members” never picked up a golf club before introduction to

42 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2

the organization. Through sheer determination, they often achieve single-digit handicaps and qualify for the annual Simpson Cup pitting U.K. and U.S. team in Ryder Cupstyle matches. The 2023 edition will be played August 28-31 at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club.

A poignant video about On Course Foundation and the Simpson Cup, produced by Charles Schwab, is here.

In 1999, Congress designed May as Military Appreciation Month, a time to pause to remember the sacrifice and service of past and present members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Space Force and National Guard. May also marks Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces Day. There are more than 4.5 million wounded, injured and sick Service people in the U.S.

About On Course Foundation

With offices in Orlando and London, On Course Foundation helps wounded, injured and sick military veterans use golf to facilitate their transitions back

into society. Founded in 2010 by John Simpson – former business manager to Nick Faldo, Vijay Singh, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price and winners of 17 major tournaments –the organization breathes newfound confidence into more than 2,000 members. Education focuses on myriad facets of embarking on a career in golf with part- and fulltime job placements at top golf companies, golf courses, clubs and resorts. Many members were first introduced to golf by On Course Foundation where they learned playing skills, overcoming lost limbs, mobility, mental acuity and other physical and psychological debilitations. On Course Foundation’s pinnacle event is the annual Simpson Cup that pits 13-person teams from the U.S. and U.K. against one another in Ryder Cup-style matches with many competitors amazingly carrying low, single-digit handicaps.

More information:, info@oncoursefoundationusa. org, 407.529.2674

Lake Ashton’s Canada vs. USA Golf Championship

We all get worked up when challenged, right?  How about a golf tournament with Canada vs USA in Central Florida at the Lake Ashton 55+ Golf Community.  They are retired seniors but when it’s country vs country, it gets spirited with at least a month of trash talking. It all started in 2022 (USA won) and now Canada just won Apr 2023. Overheard after this year’s win– “Those snowbirds will be leaving soon and it will be quiet around here again. Whew, too much bragging going on by Canada.”

Our reply – Game on, Cya next year!!

44 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 country club socials
PB september | october 2021
Natural beauty, exceptional golf, and nine great courses from which to choose. Scan this code to plan your golf getaway today, or visit Beautiful parks. Incredible golf. Shown is the golf course at Paris Landing State Park.

What made you want to get ADM certified?

I wanted to get ADM certified because I thought it would be a great way to continue my education and increase my knowledge about teaching and developing athletes in golf. The ADM Certification does a great job of providing information in a simple and effective way.

When did you get ADM certified?

I have had my ADM certification for nearly three years now (April 10th, 2020). I got my PGA Modern Coach Certification this past January  6th, 2022. I wish I had done them even sooner!

How long did it take you to get certified?

It only took me a few days or so to get certified. Once I got started on it, I saw how powerful of a tool it could be and how much it could help me in my teaching and development of golfers, especially as a young professional in the golf industry.

What are some things you learned during your PGA Coach training, and has it been useful?

There are a lot of things that I learned during the PGA Coach training, but one that has been very useful for me is to focus more on playing to improve, especially in our PGA Jr. League. It has made such a difference in our programs to get our athletes better at trying

to improve their skills versus trying to win. We see our junior golfers are more engaged, and more importantly, having fun! Everyone wants to win, but in our programs, it is just an added bonus if an athlete does win.

Another thing I learned more about is the fundamentals, and how it relates to practice. For younger athletes, practice can be ‘boring’, so we have to switch our approach to make it a fun learning environment. Instead of just going to the practice tee for an hour, our coaches put together a plan for each practice that includes both different drills and games that focus on the lesson for that week. This helps us keep practices fun, but still in a learning environment with our athletes focused on improving.

Have you adapted/implemented any of what you learned during the training into the way you teach?

Yes, I try to adapt as much of the ADM/ PGA Coach material into the way I teach. I do this because I believe that the ADM model is a proven system that helps young athletes develop and reach their full potential. With the PGA Coach training, I try to help build strong relationships by making my player the hero. Every person who comes to me has a difficulty they want to overcome. Whether it is the club championship or just simply trying to improve their game, they have the desired outcome. I make my coaching all about them. It isn’t about me getting credit, it is about getting them to where they want to be. My focus is on helping them identify where they are at, and how we can get to where they want to be. As a coach, there is no better feeling for me than to see a player achieve success and

their goals and know that I was a part of their journey. To me, that is Transformational Coaching.

What impact has having a PGA Coach profile had on your teaching sessions?

Having a PGA Coach profile has definitely caused greater traffic to my teaching & coaching. PGA Coach makes it so easy for someone to reach out and send in a request with what they are looking for. It was also very cool to see my name on the PGA Championship leaderboard for PGA Coaches in my local area!

Are there any benefits/useful tools with using PGA Coach?

Yes, it is a very efficient and organized way to keep track of my clients and business. I love how it separates your students from the different leads you have. Another great feature is the feedback tool. Like every other coach, I want feedback on my teachings to know where I can get better for my athletes. By checking in on the feedback I receive, I know what is good, and what I need to work more on.

Do you think it is important for other Members to get ADM certified and promote themselves with a PGA Coach profile?

I think that it is important for every PGA Member to get ADM certified and promote themselves with a PGA Coach profile! For starters, it is free to do. The only cost is your time. As PGA Members, I believe that it is our duty to our students to never stop trying to improve ourselves. After going through the ADM certification, I can confidently say it has helped me do that. Also, by creating a PGA Coach profile, you might even find a few new students as well!

46 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north
PGA Coach provides the tools to enable PGA Professionals to grow and manage their teaching and coaching business and aims to foster an engaging community that emboldens and inspires golfers.
A Q&A interview with Nick Nuzzo, PGA, an Assistant Professional at TPC Sawgrass, on the successes he has achieved with PGA Coach.

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Add a shock absorbing, dual density mid-sole, and get into a game improved technically, and made more enjoyable.

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Try on a Biion for 25% off with promo code: GOLFCENTRAL


My favorite golf shoe hands down

An Unexpected Connection Creates an Unforgettable Friendship

Every golfer has a point in their career where they have struggled with their swing, ultimately causing less than desirable play. When this happens, golfers will go to the extreme to find a solution, but when you are a two-time major champion with access to the best coaching in the world and that still doesn’t work, where do you turn next?

In 2000 an infomercial played during commercial breaks on the golf channel, caught the attention of Masters and Open Champion, Sandy Lyle who at the time, was struggling with this game. The infomercial was by a company called Natural Swing, a method instruction company that taught the legendary Mo Norman, single-plane swing method.

Lyle was intrigued by the method and called the 1-800 number on the infomercial. A young man answered the phone, unaware of who was on the other line until Lyle introduced himself. Catching the young man off guard, he responded, “you mean the seven-iron out of the bunker to win the Masters, that Sandy Lyle?”

From there, Lyle was connected with the President of the company, who connected Lyle with his Director of Instruction and current Keiser University Instructor, Ken Martin, PGA.

Ecstatic about the opportunity, Martin took a trip to meet Lyle at his Ponte Vedra home where he spent two days staying with Lyle while teaching him this swing method. After those two days, Lyle signed a contract for two years

with Natural Swing and Martin was locked in as his coach.

Why would an already six-time winner on the PGA Tour, and a player highly regarded by many as one of the best players of his generation put his full trust into a method swing company and a coach with no prior experience of working with PGA Tour players?

Insert, Ken Martin, PGA, a talented player in his own right with a deep obsession and understanding for the game. Martin played college golf at FIU before testing the waters in professional golf.

To support his professional golf journey, Martin took his first golf industry job at Moon Valley Country Club in Arizona where he was introduced to the Professional Golf Management Program in the mid-1980s, entering the associate program before ultimately obtaining his class-A PGA membership in 1988.

Still pursuing professional golf throughout the 90’s while also working, Martin’s passion drew him to teaching after two stints as a Head Professional, changing his PGA Member status to an A-6, self-employed teaching professional. During this time, Martin was introduced to the Natural Swing Company and joined as an Education Coordinator before becoming the Director of Instruction and receiving the opportunity of a lifetime to work with Sandy Lyle.

Throughout the two year’s Martin spent teaching Lyle, the two also developed a close friendship,

leading to Lyle bringing Martin on his bag for several events and even greater opportunities.

Martin vividly recalled one of his favorite moments that he had with Lyle. “During the 2005 Open Championship, on the last day every grandstand we walked by gave him a standing ovation. When we were coming up 18, you had the grandstands wrapped around 18 green and you had the Royal and Ancient clubhouse in the back and everybody was on their feet giving him a round of applause, it was just really really special stuff,” he said.

From caddying during the 2005 Open Championship at St. Andrews, meeting and working with the great Arnold Palmer and even being welcomed into the very sacred Masters’ Champion Locker Room at Augusta National, Martin and Lyle share a friendship that goes far beyond the golf course.

Just a couple weeks ago, Martin again had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, caddying for the seventh time for Lyle at his 40th and final Masters Tournament. During that week, Martin reminded himself of all the remarkable memories he was a part of during his time working with Lyle.

In conclusion, Martin ended with a quote from another Keiser University legend, Donna White, PGA, she says, “you never know where your golf ball will take you.” For Martin he said, “It’s not all me, that golf ball has taken me to a lot of great places and the opportunities are still bound.”

48 north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north south florida PGA south florida PGA south florida PGA south florida PGA south fl PGA south flor Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2


New Mom or Dad who can’t wait to get back on the golf course? Baby Caddie has the answer! Holding up to 12 clubs and featuring two large pockets for your golfing gear, the Baby Caddie attaches to the back of virtually any stroller for a trip to the course or the range.

Adjustable to fit bassinet, forward facing, rear facing or lying down configuration, your mini playing partner will glide the fairways in comfort. Bond with your baby, get back to the game you love, and give your partner a well earned rest. Everyone wins with the Baby Caddie!

Global golf footwear leader, ECCO GOLF, has unveiled all-new products and innovative updates as part of the Spring/Summer 2023 collection featuring the ECCO CLASSIC HYBRID, a timeless look with a modern twist.

The CLASSIC HYBRID offers a premium look and feel, with an upper fashioned from rich and embossed ECCO leather, a soft leather lining and a leather-covered OrthoLite® insole. It features HYDROMAX™ water-repellent technology and a welt made with 52 percent recycled leather fibers. For grip and comfort in all playing conditions, the CLASSIC HYBRID is set on the award-winning original E-DTS™ TWIST system, which has enlarged and rotated support bars that improve durability and multi-directional traction.

Adding to the shoe’s innovative comfort properties, ECCO FLUIDFORM™ Direct Comfort Technology ensures a finely tuned balance of cushioning and rebound that creates an integral and durable bond without the compromises common with stitched and/or glued assemblies. As such, despite its traditional look, the CLASSIC HYBRID still provides the wearer with a lightweight, flexible feel.

“The unique and exciting designs throughout this collection, whether it’s a brand-new product or an update to one of our all-time favorites, will appeal to a wide range of golfers,” said Jesper Thuen, General Manager, ECCO GOLF USA. “Finding a pair of golf shoes that fits your style is important, but what sets our shoes apart can only be experienced when they are worn.”

For further information about ECCO GOLF, please visit


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50 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2 product showcase

Turf Pirate's Journal $Classics $

Welcome back Turf

Pirates and I hope the seas have been kind and as we say here at the Galactic Headquarters of the Ancient and Honorable Tribe of Turf Pirates, “I hope that the grass is greener on your side of the fence.” God bless all you southern guys with Bentgrass greens as soon if not already you will be earning your salt on an hour-by-hour basis. May your moisture management be perfect. Which brings me to the point of this issues reflections, “Classics”. Quite a few times over the years my courses have been used to display, Classic Cars (see the accompanying picture from a car show in 2019) My Dad worked at General Motors Lakewood Assembly Plant for 38 years and

I toured the plant on occasion and I’ve always had a fascination about cars and what made a car a classic or for that matter what makes anything a classic. Classic cars have a style and performance that stands out and for that matter stands the test of time. It’s that combination of quality, style and longevity that is the synergy that conjures up the image of a classic.

In Turf Pirate lore we have featured quite a few classics in our salute to heroes and legends but today we focus on how one dares to become a classic when it comes to turfgrass management. We generally do the same things, right? Well not exactly just like all cars get you from point A to point B a Classic car as noted is unique in quality, style and longevity. Note

that nothing generally starts as a classic but earns that status over time and it’s the same with Turf Pirates. First, know that its’ OK to aspire to be a classic and never let anyone or anything tell you otherwise. This is the cornerstone of becoming a classic. Secondly, focus on quality in yourself, team and property. This is also the first legacy separator, out work and out perform the status quo every minute of every day, work hard and play hard and you will earn the first stripes of being a classic. The next gate keeper is a bit harder to define as style is often hard to quantify but we all know style when we see it. Style is Arnold Palmer wearing the green jacket in front of that red convertible at Augusta National. Style is how you tie your boots, how you wear your hat or when members know your headed to the Greens Committee meeting just at a glance. Style is often met with contempt at first, there will always be haters who want to talk you out of becoming a classic. Just be you but be your best most memorable you. A classic Mustang does not want to be a Bentley but both are certainly classics. Now the last element to be considered a classic is longevity and to some five years is a long time but as an industry we generally point to a minimum of 20 years as a journey well walked. Longevity requires perseverance. You will be right, wrong, supported and likely mutinied a time or two along the way but it is the Turf Pirate’s ability to never quit, rally their resources and deliver the ship safely to harbor that shines the silver. It’s also important to know that you can’t mow your way to the top.

Are you destined to be a classic upon the green seas of turf management? We all have the potential within us and yet so few make the grade. Take a moment Turf Pirates and think about what things come to mind when you think of classics. Now think about your profession, what actions, style and stick-to-it-ness would add your name to the unofficial lists of, “CLASSICS” then reach out and help others make the grade. Enjoy the journey!

52 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2

Sunn 28-0-0


ITEM #160031


Minors Blend


ITEM #160000


Total Magnesium (Mg) 0.50% Soluble Magnesium (Mg) 0.050% Soluble Iron (Fe) ................... 3.40% Chelated Iron (Fe) 1.60%

Sunn KTS


Item# 160041


Manganese (Mn) .......... 0.25%

Manganese (Mn) 0.25% Soluble Zinc (Zn) 0.10%

(S) combined 3.50% Derived from: Manganese Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, Iron Glucoheptonate, Iron Sulphate, Magnesium Sulphate.

Sunn 6-0-0 Blend


Sunn 12-0-0 Blend


ITEM# 160021


as Mn 2% Derived from: Urea, Iron Glucoheptonate, Manganese Glucoheptonate

ANALYSIS Total Nitrogen 28%
Slow release Nitrogen 7.8% ......................... Urea Nitrogen
Soluble Potash (K2O) .............. 25%
Sulfur (S) ......................... 17% 17% combined sulfur
free sulfur Derived from: potassium thiosulfate
0.50% Soluble Magnesium
0.50% Soluble Iron (Fe)
3.40% Chelated Iron (Fe) 1.60% Total Manganese (Mn) .......... 0.25% Soluble Manganese (Mn) 0.25% Soluble Zinc (Zn) 0.10% Sulfur (S) combined 3.50% Derived from:
Manganese Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, Iron Glucoheptonate, Iron Sulphate, Magnesium Sulphate.
ANALYSIS Total Nitrogen 12% 12% Urea Nitrogen
not more than 2% SECONDARY PLANT FOODS Iron as Fe ................................... 6%
Manufactured by SUNNILAND CORPORATION PO Box 8001 Sanford, Florida 32773-8001 Share your photos & videos #sunnilandcorp Follow us @sunnilandcorp • 800-432-1130

What made you decide to get into golf design?

Ron: My career began with a talent I had for sketching when I was a teenager, just north of Boston. If you had the means, you could get to the Museum of Fine Arts for free art lessons on Saturday mornings. My brother and I would ride the subway to get my art lesson, so I knew how to

Ron Kirby: Master Craftsman

Define Ron Kirby’s style…

sketch and handle a brush. Later I won a caddie scholarship, and I went to greenkeeper school. When it snowed in the winters, I went to Florida - where my dad had a club pro job - and I realised that the movie stars in golf were the course designers. There was a centrefold in Sports Illustrated with two architects who were the flavour of the month: Robert Trent Jones and Dick Wilson. They were superstars.

Ron: I’m just looking for fun, different holes to build. I look for a chance to make the short holes more exciting and I always want to make something that’s fair for the player. Because I was a greenkeeper, I want to build things that can be maintained, kept neat and manicured.

Tell us about the people you’ve worked with over the years. Who were the most influential and why?

Ron: Trent Jones was a visionary. He could take any piece of ground and he would get the best layout - he knew how to put the holes in the

54 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2

right position for the wind, the sun direction, and his routings were very good. Another thing I learned from working with Trent Jones is that he didn’t do it all. He did the layouts, but he had a team of people working for him. You need good staff. And I had a lot of good staff. I’ve also worked with Jack Nicklaus, who would always get the best sites and the best budgets. Nicklaus was a finishing school in golf design because of his strategy. He knew what a golf ball could and couldn’t do.

What advice would you give other designers from what you’ve learned?

Ron: Respect the ground. Try and make your golf course fit. It’s a lot

of fun being a golf course designer, but you’ve got to be patient to get the right assignments. I’m proud that I got a chance to put my two cents in. The best thing to do is get any job you can on a golf course - even pulling the carts out. I grew up on a golf course, and I’ve never worked anywhere else.

You have just completed work at Apes Hill in Barbados – what hole there most reflects your style?

Ron: The second, for sure. It was a par three; now we’ve got a twoway hole. We extended the green and moved the tees back. It was almost an unplayable par three: into the wind, uphill... nobody would love this hole, so you’d play two holes and already you didn’t like the course. We turned it into a really fun, friendly par four. You have a chance to get out of there smiling. I didn’t have to go too far to find a hole I would love.

How did you bring to Apes Hill what you learnt from designing Old Head?

Ron: Old Head is basically an island connected with a little isthmus at the gate. But you have almost 360° of cliffs, so you try to get as close to the cliffs as you could to use those features. When I saw Apes Hill, you’ve got some super vistas. You can look at two oceans in some places! So, I said, “all we’ve got to do here is make sure that players can take in the vistas”.

What is your message to everyone who is about to experience Apes Hill?

Ron: Well, if I could meet every one of them, I hope they would buy me a beer and say I did a good job. I want people to enjoy their game and want to come back again.

Over the years, what’s changed with sustainability and what has been done at Apes Hill?

Ro:n Sustainability means don’t build anything that you can’t maintain. Number one was the bunkers - we couldn’t maintain those, so we’ve eliminated two thirds of the bunkers. That’s cut

back on the maintenance of the bunkers, the sand and erosion, and of course the irrigation.

Zoysia grass is tolerant to drought, so we don’t have to keep pumping water on to keep it green and alive, it will maintain itself. We’ve taken away around 1,000 sprinklers, reducing irrigation by a third.

Supply here is from a huge lake, which collects the mountain rainfall instead of letting it run off into the sea, millions of gallons.  (Editor’s Note: Apes Hill Barbados is enrolled in the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, a certification program that helps properties employ environmental and sustainability best practices.)

There will also be a par 3 for kids and families. Tell us a bit about that…

Ron: We’ve taken inspiration from some of the world’s most famous par-three holes. It’s great for the kids and the families to go out and have fun, but a lot of golfers will say, ‘I’ve never played the Postage Stamp, I’ve never been to Royal Troon”, so they can come here and try it.

We also built a 19th hole similar to the famous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, where it’s so dynamic because it’s an island green. You’re either on the green or in the water.

Was it a priority to make the holes diverse enough that people of different skill levels could play?

Ron: Yes. We only needed four tees per hole, but we put them in spaces where they could cover all types of players, from guys who can hit it pure to the average guys and then the poor players like me. We have friendly tees for the ladies, challenge tees for the better ladies’ players. It’s fun for everyone. Pick your poison and see where you want to tee it up from.

How do you feel about the finished product?

Ron: What we’ve done here is the result of a lot of hard work and it wasn’t an easy job. The weather was hitting us hard with storms, Covid delayed us... but I’m proud to be part of it. I can sit back and say this is one of mine. I can say that about maybe 150 golf courses, but this is a special one.

55 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2

Old Corkscrew Opens Golfers To Florida’s Natural Charms

In a region that serves up more golf holes per capita than anywhere else in the nation, Old Corkscrew manages to stand out from the southwest Florida crowd.

Located in Estero, the daily-fee, public, Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary course and the area’s only Jack Nicklaus Signature Design puts all the region’s natural magic in play. A wide array of wildlife thrives among the big, multi-tiered Tif Eagle greens, Celebration Bermuda fairways and handsome bunkers studded with tufts of tall fescue. Barriers of native turf act as filters for ponds and streams that frame at least a dozen holes, backed by old growth stands of oak, pine and cypress. And because Old Corkscrew is situated a few miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, its highbar environmental efforts stay intact even when Mother Nature unleashes its fiercest forces.

Take last fall’s Hurricane Ian, the third-costliest weather

disaster on record and the deadliest storm to strike Florida since 1935. Though it unleashed a nearly direct hit on the Naples area — Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island took the brunt — and put dozens of nearby courses under feet of water, Old Corkscrew was back in business quickly.

“We’re inland enough that we were open within a week, week and a half,” says Jim Vajen, Old Corkscrew’s superintendent since 2019. “We got six inches of rain and lost some trees, but nothing to really obstruct the golf. Some of my buddies saw their courses get flooded completely and were closed for a couple months. Some couldn’t even reopen, they’ll have to redo their courses completely.”

Vajen and his crew, meanwhile, will oversee planned “redos” on their own terms while keeping their Audubon International Signature Sanctuary methods in effect (of course). First up this summer is re-grassing all 18 greens. “We’ll put temporary

greens out in the approaches and fairways in May, then kill off all the Bermuda grass on the greens because some of it has been contaminated by Celebration. In June we’ll get a near side cut around the greens , strip it all, dig down, get all the organic material to six to eight inches. We’ll bring in new greens mix, reshape and contour, then float them out and grass them.”

He expects the entire process to take about 10 weeks. “We’re looking to be back open a hundred percent by November 1.”

Beyond that, five or six years down the road, Vajen says that Old Corkscrew’s owners, the Hoffman family, are eyeing a “complete renovation.” In the meantime, they’ll continue to build their bona fides as a model of sustainability, with Audubon International’s guidance across the board. As spring set in, Vajen toured the property with Kat Welch, Director of Signature Sanctuary Certification, and Sarah Honan,

56 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
Old Corkscrew Hole #8

Environmental Program Specialist. “We went through everything — the entire golf course from tee to green. We went through the maintenance facility and the chemical and fertilizer storage areas, just making sure everything’s contained, that we have spill cleanup kits onsite and can dispose of anything properly. It’s very in-depth.”

This most recent Audubon International site visit — every Signature Sanctuary property must be recertified every three years — gave Vajen deeper insight of just how thorough the process is, from keeping close track of active ingredients in every turf application to monitoring water quality. These requirements only enhance what the course’s developers did on their own in the name of stewardship. “On greens [that border water features], for example, we have a special built-in system, almost like a levee system. Drainage goes through one end of a levee that filters the water as it rises, then overflows out of the green.”

“Jim and the Old Corkscrew staff demonstrated their commitment to environmental sustainability on our recent site visit,” Welch said. “Old Corkscrew blends into the natural landscape and truly feels like a sanctuary on course. I’m looking forward to continuing our partnership to ensure high quality play, and high-quality sustainability initiatives.”

Vajen adds that since Old Corkscrew is a public course, a lot of customers aren’t familiar with what goes into the certification process, but there’s change afoot on that front.

“Since part of the certification process is education and outreach, we will start doing bird tours, where folks can sign up and head out with an expert to see what kinds of birds they can spot,” Vajen says. “Bird boxes are also part of the plan.” Wildlife clubs, like golfers, are also bound to see the occasional bear, panther, bobcat, wild hog, deer, turtle and gator.

It’s all part of the pure “sanctuary” vibe that Old Corkscrew enjoys

alongside its Bear-built golf challenge. “Being a Jack Nicklaus Signature design, the greens are difficult with lots of undulations. It’s very testing,” Vajen says. “But there are no homes around the course. It’s all golf.”

And all-in for environmental stewardship, as anyone who snags a tee time will discover.

To learn more about how your local golf course can gain recognition for your environmental efforts and learn how to expand your initiatives through Audubon International’s numerous environmental certifications, visit

Audubon International, an environmentally focused nonprofit organization, offers members numerous certifications and conservation initiatives to protect the areas where we live, work, and play. Their certifications are designed to increase environmental awareness, encourage sustainable environmental efforts, and educate both their members and their communities.

57 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
Old Corkscrew Hole #4

Growing from the Ground Up: The Remarkable Journey of Star Turf Farms

Star Turf Farms is a wellrecognized sod business in Florida known for its superior quality and longtime farming operations established across the region. What started as a 600-acre cattlegrazing farm has now grown to 30,000 acres. The dedication behind this turfgrass operation and the people running the business are a testament to their success.


Star Ranch Enterprises Inc. was founded by a Poland native, Noel Shapiro and his brother Jaime Shapiro. Noel was born in 1927 but his family moved to Cuba in 1936 to escape as the Nazi regime started taking hold of their homeland. Noel went on and established his life in Cuba. He got married and started his family and everything was going well until dictatorship came into play. Noel fled the country with his family for the United States in 1959.

His grandson and the current owner of Star Turf Farms, Justin Sobie, shared that his grandfather came here without knowing the language and was in need of a job. Noel found his way by getting involved at a hardware business in Hollywood, FL which he eventually purchased.

“Little by little, through hard work, determination and the power of hope he got out of the hole he was in and started building condos, homes and apartments parallel to working

in the hardware business,” Sobie said. “And then came his love for the land. He started investing in agriculture which then led to him finding his love for the sod business. His visionary mentality and successful business acumen was beginning to define the true American dream.”

When he left the construction business, Noel purchased a few hundred acres of land and bought registered Brahman cattle, beginning Star Ranch Enterprises Inc. in 1969, which would later expand to also include Star Farms Corp. and Star Turf Farms. The fields had old Florida St. Augustinegrass that he let the cattle graze on until he would move them on the land so he could cut the grass. Noel sold sod for three-quarters of a penny per square foot.

They started with growing sod and over time added sugar cane, citrus and row crops. Sobie explained that it’s important they have the luxury to be a diversified business. “My grandfather always said don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. We are fortunate enough to have the land mass to expand different types of crops, commodities,

rock and peat mine operations.”

Star grew a lot of citrus from the 1990s until the early 2000s, which was also around the same time the market peaked. Now they’re fortunate to have converted most of their citrus farms in Martin County to sugar cane and row crops before the citrus market started to decline.

The Leadership of Richard Burns

In 1989, Star Turf Farms’ current Senior Vice President and General Manager, Richard Burns, started working for Noel when the farm had grown to 1,500 acres of land, consisting of two farms with a little bit of sod growing. At that time, Star Turf Farms owned the land and grew the product, but they would contract the work to cut, sell and install it.

Fortunately, Burns came to Star with robust knowledge of the turfgrass industry. When he graduated high school from Glades Day School in 1981, he went on to attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

58 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
Noel Shapiro, Justin Sobie and Jamie Shapiro CitraBlue Field at Star Farms

in Georgia. Then, he returned to Belle Glade in 1983 and started working for Mace Sod, which his longtime acquaintance, Robert Mace, owned. Burns was a hard worker and he advanced quickly from an intern to farm manager at Mace Sod, where he oversaw 14,000 acres of St. Augustine. “It was big volume, big numbers. It was the good old days,” he said. Burns has been married to his wife, Cheryl, for 37 years and enjoys his career in the turfgrass industry. Their son, Coulter, just graduated from Auburn University with an MBA. His favorite part of his job is getting up every morning and getting to do something he enjoys while seeing something new every day. He spends most of his days driving between their farms that span across five counties, staying very busy. “It’s hard work

Turfgrass Operations

Star Turf Farms produces over 5,000 acres of St. Augustine in a

given year, depending on sugar cane prices. Burns explained again this is why it’s important to have diversification of crops and hopes that the sod and

sugar cane markets stay as good as they’re going right now.

“We’ve been growing bermudagrasses since 2000, and now we’re heavily in it. We’ve got big plans now that we’re out in front,” he said.

Just three years ago, Star Turf Farms made a major adjustment as they decided to start their own harvesting and installation operations. “Getting into these new varieties and all these new names of grass types, we have to expose ourselves and show that we are the farmer, we are the landowners and we are the ones producing this grass and in some cases installing it,” Sobie said. “We’re changing the way we are viewed in the industry by wearing one hat that is vertically integrated from the farm to the home or golf course. We’re one team behind this from start to finish.”

Burns explained that they still use some of the same contractors they’ve worked with for 25 years, but they hired General Manager, Jonathan Lallement three years ago. He shared that Lallement has been a tremendous asset for the expansion of the company to oversee their own sales, harvesting and installations, which are mainly in Southwest Florida, in Lee and Collier Counties.

Simultaneously to vertically integrating the business, they’ve also increased the number of turfgrass varieties being grown to include more golf grasses to take advantage of where their regional

59 Golf Central • Volume 24, Issue 2
Star Farms Field Day 2023 Jonathan Lallement, Justin Sobie and Richard Burns

market is focused right now. “We’ve been successful so far and I think things are bright for the future,” Burns said. Sobie agreed, sharing his excitement for expanding their business to the next level by getting into the golf course grass industry.

Currently, Star Turf Farms produces 12 different turfgrass varieties, including Celebration® Bermudagrass, Celebration Hybrid™ Bermudagrass, NorthBridge® Bermudagrass, CitraZoy® Zoysiagrass, CitraBlue® St. Augustinegrass, EMPIRE® Zoysiagrass and Palmetto® St. Augustinegrass.

When it comes to the latest releases, Burns said Celebration Hybrid looks very promising in the golf realm, CitraBlue is growing a lot and CitraZoy is still in expansion mode across the state.

On March 21, Star Turf Farms held its first field day event at the farm to showcase all of these varieties. Sobie and Burns explained the business has always been one to fly under the radar, but now they’re going to start advertising what they do in a big way.

They look forward to continuing their relationships with sports, golf and landscape professionals by hosting more of these events in the future.

“The field day was a success and the weather was perfect. We were glad so many people could make it out to the farm,” Burns said.

Burns said there is a huge need for turfgrass across the state right now and they do their best to keep up with demands. They also have to work with various agencies for regulations and expectations, especially in regard to adversity with water to plan for valid solutions moving forward.

Sobie’s aspirations for Star Turf Farms would be to create more value for the product they’re selling, whether it be different turfgrass varieties, soil types or other ways they maintain what they produce. He also plans to continue his grandfather’s goals for the business by continuing to expand while maintaining renowned quality.

“My grandfather taught me a lot and we didn’t argue much.

When people hear about family businesses, this one was a special one. We were able to bond in and out of the workplace and expand the business. I would say in the last 10 years we have acquired close to 10,000 acres of land,” Sobie shared. He looks forward to moving the business forward in honor of everything Noel did to grow Star Turf Farms into what it is today. Noel passed away just last year at the age of 95.

Sobie is the only family member working for Star Turf Farms and shared that he had a special relationship with his grandfather and he took him under his wings at a young age. “What a role model he was to me. I enjoyed learning from him, being with him, having meetings with him, and buying and selling land together. He always reminded me that this is the best country in the world. We just had a special bond that continues. I learned the business from him and now I’m continuing my grandfather’s legacy.”

$10 C M Y CM MY CY CMY K TurfLife_Ad_HalfPg(12172019).pdf 1 12/17/2019 3:23:46 PM


The pH of this. The growth of that.

Too much moisture.

Not enough moisture. Looking out for the environment. Looking out for the health of the course. And that’s just over coffee.

To learn more visit

So say thanks to your golf course superintendent. Or make that, thanks a million.


Honoring Their Sacrifce Educating Their Legacy

Since 2007, the Folds of Honor has carried forth this singular, noble mission. To provide educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members. We’re proud to celebrate our 10th year, and have awarded nearly 16,000 scholarships. The need is still great with the millions in unfunded requests we recieve each year.

Become a Wingman who dutifully supports the pursuit of education for our military families affected by war by giving a recurring donation of $13/month.

Why $13? There are 13 folds that bring the flag to its triangle shape. Every fold, just like every dollar, is significant.


Designing Your Next Women ' s Golf Trip

B o o k i n g e x p e r i e n t i a l

g o l f t r i p s f o r w o m e n !

W e t a k e c a r e o f y o u & t h e p l a n n i n g .

Y o u s h o w u p w i t h y o u r

c l u b s & h a v e f u n !

J O I N U S i n 2 0 2 3

J o i n u s o n o n e o f o u r S w i n g & S i p G o l f

E x p e r i e n c e s - s m a l l g r o u p g o l f t r i p s f o r

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o w n w o m e n ’ s g o l f t r i p !

w w w . w o m e n o n f a i r w a y s . c o m


a l @ w o m e n o n f a i r w a y s
o l l o w u s o n s o

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