VOLUME 30 NUMBER 2
THE STATE OF YOUR GAME
GETS DEFENSIVE Reigning U.S. Open Champ Opens Up on Success, Faith and Anchoring
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TRADITIONAL VS. SPACE AGE New gear offers something for everyone. Equipment: page 28
VOLUME 30, NUMBER 2 - SPRING/SUMMER 2013
Webb Simpson Gets Defensive
Webb Simpson has one major and the grittiness and game to contend for more for many years to come. An easy-going offcourse demeanor hides the intensity of one of today’s toughest grinders.
This and cover photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
17: Regional News: Dallas The Courses at Watters Creek (formerly Chase Oaks Golf Club) is now owned by the City of Allen, but it’s an atypical muny and perhaps a prototype for sound golf operations. TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
25: Regional News: Hill Country Austinite Joe Ogilvie joined a task force called We Are Golf in a meeting with Congressional leaders in Washington D.C. to raise awareness of golf’s positive contributions.
23: Checking In: CostaBaja Dramatic golf meets a quiet seashore in La Paz. James McAfee discovers unexpected thrills at Gary Player’s first design south of the border. Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 1
VOLUME 30, NUMBER 2 - SPRING/SUMMER 2013
33: Going Big The Long Drive Association has come a long way in this decade, but 2013 may prove to be the year the golf’s extreme sport picks up a large mainstream audience.
IN THIS ISSUE: 39: Travel: With the arresting allure of a scenic coastline, the irresistible charm of the locals and sensational golf at every turn, Northern Michigan is a can’t miss destination.
8: Know Your Pros Royal Oaks Country Club pro Randy Smith has carved a unique legend as a club pro. In the new book Pro’s Pros, Smith’s story is told in thoughtful detail. 12: Texas Bound For Golf aims to make Texas a top-of-mind golf destination. 35: YOU 2.0 Work smarter, not harder with advice from Dave Pelz, fitness guru Bobby O’Dell and a new Ben Hogan book on… putting.
43: The Architect’s Digest: Houston-based golf course architect Mike Nuzzo makes a thrilling trip Down Under to consult on some incredible future golf sites. See the exclusive sneak peek. 2 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 3
If you’re a golfer, there’s a good chance this is your favorite time of the year. The weather here in Texas is really nice and it’s time to get in as many rounds as you can with the excuse “the weather is just too nice not to play”. Also, we all know that the heat and, most likely, another blistering summer are right around the corner. Not that the temperature would stop most of us from participating in our biggest addiction anyway. I am excited to get to start playing again after about five weeks off with a back problem. My brother-in-law, a great physical therapist who owns three clinics, is helping me get back in shape. We have been talking about maybe putting together a class on golf stretches that will help the average golfer be more flexible. I know it is helping me and my back is feeling stronger each day. I hope all the Mothers had a great Mother’s Day. You’re such a valuable part of our lives, and at the same time, you give us another reason to play golf! With Father’s Day coming up, be sure to look for some great golf devices featured in the magazine that would make great gifts. Order now! This issue, I would like to thank our loyal advertisers for their patronage for they are the ones that make this magazine possible. Please take a couple of extra minutes and look at what they are offering and if you do happen to respond to their ad, then let them know you saw them here.
VOLUME 30, NUMBER 2 - SPRING/SUMMER 2013
Chief Executive Officer/ Publisher Zane Russell email@example.com COO/CFO Mike Moore firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief Carl Mickelson email@example.com Art Director Chet Polo firstname.lastname@example.org D/FW Regional Editor James McAfee Contributing Writers John Andrisani, Tina Bradley-Mayers, Brad Lardon, Bobby O’Dell, Mike Nuzzo, Dave Pelz, Joel Zuckerman Contributing Photographers Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group, Randy Michael Korwin Distribution Jennifer Holbrook email@example.com Assistant Publisher C. Scott Talley firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Sales Representatives
I get a chance to meet a lot of great people, play a lot of nice courses and hear a lot of wonderful stories because of Texas Golfer. Thank each and every one of you for making our magazine a part of your trip to the club or course. I hope you all enjoy this beautiful weather.
Steve Bliman | 480.473.7663 email@example.com Shawn K. Lively | 512.825.1303 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hit 'em long and straight! Zane Russell email@example.com
4 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
Copyright 2013 by Texas Golfer Magazine. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted or otherwise reproduced without written permission from Texas Golfer. Texas Golfer Magazine is published by Texas Golfer Magazine, Inc., 15721 Park Row, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77084 ISSN #0889-4825
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COUPLES TOUCHED TO ENTER WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME
t Fred Couples’ recent World Golf Hall of Fame induction, CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz recalled how, while enrolled at the University of Houston in the 1980s, he and suitemate Couples would rehearse their Butler Cabin speeches. Couples played the role of Masters champion and Nantz was the announcer. They famously lived that dream in 1992, but looking back on his friend’s celebrated career, Nantz was at a bit of a loss. “We never rehearsed the World Golf Hall of Fame speech,” he said, emotionally. Couples, too, was moved when reminiscing on his 15-victory, one-major career and the people who inspired him along the way. He choked up while closing his speech with “Thanks for taking a kid from Seattle and putting him in the Hall of Fame. This is the coolest night of my life.” When asked how he thinks he’ll be remembered, Couples was modest.
“He’s the guy whose ball stayed on the bank at 12 at Augusta. They know I won Augusta. He’s the guy that doesn’t wear a glove. He’s got a smooth and slow swing.” “I think I’m a very good competitor, but I’m never one to worry about really achieving things,” Couples
admits. “I felt like when I worked with (renowned Houston instructor Paul Marchand) all those years, if I could be ready at a golf tournament, then that was the good start.” Couples went into the Hall of Fame in May with Ken Venturi, Colin Montgomerie and Willie Park, Jr.
WHITSETT CARPENTER BRUN SELECTED TO PALMER CUP TEAMS
labama junior and recentlynamed SEC Player of the Year Cory Whitsett (from Houston) and Abilene Christian senior Alex Carpenter will represent the United States this summer at the 2013 Palmer Cup. The annual Ryder Cup-style competition will be played June 7-9 at Wilmington Country
6 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
Club in Wilmington, Del. For the second consecutive year, French-born Julien Brun of TCU will represent the European team. Brun helped secure 2.5 points for Europe in the 2012 Palmer Cup matches which Europe won 13.5 to 10.5. Carpenter, who previously represented the U.S. at the 2011 Palmer
Cup, has recorded five victories this season and recently accepted his fourth Lone Star Conference Player of the Year award. Carpenter is believed to hold the NCAA career record for individual collegiate wins (20), having surpassed the previous record of 16 set by Phil Mickelson from 1989-92.
Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 7
THE CHAPTER ON RANDY SMITH… NEW BOOK, “PRO’S PROS” INCLUDES LONGTIME ROYAL OAKS PRO
Randy Smith has earned many awards, so his inclusion in Pro’s Pros: Extraordinary Club Professionals Making Golf Great comes as no surprise. Enjoy this sneak peek at author Joel Zuckerman’s profile on one of the state’s most celebrated club professionals:
exas has a legacy of producing superb club professionals. One of the leading lights of the current generation is the highly-regarded, longenduring Randy Smith, approaching 40 years of tenure at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas, where he has served as the club’s head professional since 1980. Smith hails from Odessa, a town known for oil and football, not necessarily in that order. But it’s also a little-known hotbed for golf professionals. When he was honored as National PGA Professional of the Year in 1996, Smith was actually the third Odessa native to win the most prestigious award available to a club pro. Jerry Cozby and David Price preceded him, honored in the same capacity. “I have had several mentors who helped shape me into the professional I became, and I begin with Harvey Penick. His thumbprint is on so many club professionals in Texas and beyond, and he taught me lessons in kindness and attentiveness that are indelibly etched to this day.” Smith graduated from Texas Tech, where he spent his first two years on the golf team before going to work for professionals Gene Mitchell Sr. and his son, Gene Mitchell Jr., at Lubbock Country Club, while still an undergrad. His first post-college job was as an assistant pro at Tulsa Country Club, which is when he called Penick and asked for help with his short game. He made the six-hour drive south where the icon had served the membership of Austin Country Club for fifty years, and was still teaching. “I hit balls for about three hours,” reminisces Smith, still marveling at the memory. “Mr. Penick only offered 8 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
about four pieces of advice the whole time, and did so in simple, easy-tounderstand language. He would make a slight grip modification, for example, watch me hit a dozen balls, and then get in the range picker, and let me hit balls with this new adjustment for 30-odd minutes.” The scene repeated itself several more times. Penick would make another suggestion based on the ball flight Smith was hoping to achieve, watch him hit a dozen, then let him imprint the new alteration as he went back out to pick up the range. “He taught me ‘less is more.’ He used simple analogies with me, like trying to get the feeling of swinging a scythe. He was emphasizing reducing tension in the body, and the swing. I’m a talker by nature, but I learned that day to say far less during lessons, keep it simple, and keep repeating the key points so they will really sink in. He taught based on the student’s wants, needs and limitations. ”
As as anything else, Smith learned true kindness and selflessness. At lesson’s end, he was profusely thanking Penick for his time and expertise, and then casually mentioned they never discussed the short game, which was his primary concern. “He was mortified,” recalls Smith, named on four separate occasions as the North Texas Section Teacher of the Year. “Even though his club was closed the next day, he insisted on meeting me at 8 am regardless, and we spent 90 minutes on my short game the following morning. It was an amazing experience for me, and I’ve never forgotten it.” Perhaps it was malaise over a fizzled high school football career, but moping around Odessa Country Club one afternoon and wanting to avoid an important junior event, Smith received a vital lesson from another essential mentor. “Jake Bechtold was the head pro at the club, and he was surprised I wasn’t entered in the tournament,” recalls the 2005 inductee into the PGA of America’s Hall of Fame. “I told him I didn’t have the $10 entry fee, which was my lame excuse, because I was down on myself and my game. He reached into the cash register, took out $10, and told me I was on the tee in 30 minutes. He believed in me, and taught me the value of tenacity, and never quitting. I also learned that the best pros have their tentacles in lots of different places. They are concerned with all their members, even sulky juniors, and not just the club’s power brokers,” says Smith, who surprised himself, but not the pro, by winning that very event. “That small gesture by Jake Bechtold, urging me into the event, jump-started me again, and might have been the catalyst for my eventual career in golf. Who knows? TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 9
If he hadn’t done what he did, I could be a pipeline fitter in west Texas instead of the head professional at Royal Oaks in Dallas.” Later on, as a promising junior player, another soon-to-be-mentor delivered another unforgettable lesson. “I shot 80 at a junior event, and was dismayed with my performance. I convinced one of my playing companions that it was actually 79, which looks better on the scoreboard, but wasn’t nearly competitive, nor did it fool some other players who knew what I had actually shot. I was sick about it on the ride home, couldn’t sleep a wink, and the next morning back at the event I admitted what I had done to the pro, Mr. S.A. Smith, and asked him to disqualify me,” recalls Smith. The words spoken to him by the wise and compassionate pro were never forgotten. “Son, I can tell by looking at you that you’ve already paid for this transgression. We’ll raise your score to what it should be, and then I want you to go out and finish the tournament.” In the ensuing decades, throughout his long career at Royal Oaks, Smith has run into similar situations with junior players half-a-dozen times or more. “Mr. S.A. Smith taught me that day that the ‘letter of the law’ is less important than looking at the big picture, observing who the kid is, his character, his potential. The longterm ramifications are what matters, not the final scoreboard in a junior tournament. I’ve applied this crucial 10 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
lesson of keeping things in perspective, and feel strongly that the young golfers in question were far better off than if I had just brusquely disqualified them.” One junior player who never came into question was eventual British Open champion and Ryder Cup hero Justin Leonard, who has been under Smith’s tutelage since elementary school. “We were euphoric when Justin mentioned Royal Oaks in his thank you speech as he held the Claret Jug aloft,” reminisces Smith, thinking about that magical summer day in 1997. “To think back to when he was a skinny six year old with legs like toothpicks, who first came for golf lessons, to what he turned into, is remarkable. I was just as overjoyed when Harrison Frazar, finally won his first Tour event in 2011, in his 355th attempt. Like Justin, Harrison has also been a member at Royal Oaks since he was a kid. Smith distinguishes between “Royal Oaks guys” like the aforementioned, along with former US Amateur winner Colt Knost, up-andcoming PGA Tour player Martin Flores, and other stars-in-the-making like Matt Weibring and Paul Haley. “I am their swing coach and also their head professional,” explains Smith, “as they have all been around the club a long time. I also have taught or continue to teach touring professionals like John Rollins, Ryan Palmer, Gary Woodland and others, but in those cases I am their instructor only, not their head pro.” “Randy has been instrumental in everything I’ve done in the game of golf.” So begins Justin Leonard, who has a dozen Tour wins and more than 30 million dollars in career earnings. “There was never any over-coaching or over-teaching, but he gave me just the right amount of information, which is so critical when you are young. I’ve now been a professional for about 20 years, and he still makes things exciting. He is a feel-oriented instructor, which is crucial because when you are on the golf course all you can rely on is your feel.” “He’s incredible with junior golfers,” continues Leonard, who
has represented the United States a dozen different times as a member of various Ryder Cup, President’s Cup, Walker Cup, Dunhill Cup and World Cup teams. “He takes as much pride in helping a member lower their 15 handicap down to single digits as he does when one of his professionals wins on the PGA Tour.” Buddy Cook was another key mentor to Smith, and helped imbue his incredible work ethic. “I’ve been working for him in one capacity or another since I was 13 years old, and continue to do so,” states the acclaimed instructor, whose various students have received more than a hundred college golf scholarships around the country. “I caddied for him as a kid back in Odessa, helped his sell fireworks so he could get through college, he hired me to work for him in Tulsa, and when he got the top job at Royal Oaks he brought me along as his assistant,” recounts Smith, who took the reins about four years later when Cook left to pursue other opportunities. Comparisons have been made between Smith’s tutelage of Leonard and Frazar, and his great mentor Harvey Penick’s similar role in the Hall-of-Fame careers of Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite. “I suppose there are some similarities,” concludes Smith, “but I will be the first to tell you that I am no Harvey Penick. Nobody has ever been quite like him.” Truthfully spoken, but there is nobody quite like Randy Smith, either. Pro’s Pros is ONLY available at www.prosprosbook.com.
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TEXAS Bound for Golf NEWPORT DUNES AT PALMILLA BEACH RESORT & GOLF CLUB (PORT ARANSAS)
t never fails. You get back from a great golf trip and your buddies start telling you about all the courses you should have played and all the restaurants and awesome local landmarks you blew right past. Sure, it stings, but there’s always next time. If the operators of Texas Bound for Golf have it their way, more and more of those “next” buddy trips will be a discovery of Texas and its dynamic array of golf and culture. The innovative Austin-based golf tourism and concierge service is having a breakthrough year introducing out-of-state golfers to the wonders of golf in Texas and the bounty of “after golf” activities in destinations all over the state. “We want Texas on the menu for those people organizing multi-round golf trips,” says Texas Bound for Golf president and founder Chip Gist. “We know they’re eventually going to go to Scottsdale and Myrtle Beach and Alabama, but we’re happy to have them in Texas for next year’s trip and I feel strongly we’re going to put an experience together that matches the fun and quality of golf.” These days, it seems every other state has branded a golf “Trail”, so why not Texas? “Texas is essentially five or six destinations all in one state. That’s the biggest reason no one has taken on a project like this before,” Gist suggests. “It’s a lot to get your arms around, but we have a clear vision and a unique approach to service that’s getting an enthusiastic reaction from our visiting golfers,” Gist says. 12 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
Texas Bound for Golf isn’t as much a purveyor of “stay and play” packages as it is a full-service golf and travel concierge intent on making each trip booked a custom-designed experience that scratches the individual itches of every group. If your group wants a fishing expedition in addition to rounds of golf, fine. If you want a tour of the finest barbeque or Tex-Mex in the area, Chip’s team has got you covered. Texas Bound For Golf has helped groups secure tickets for professional and college sporting events, live music and, in one case, even chartered a boat for a group who inadvertently booked their golf on the opposite of Lake Travis from their lakehouse. “Everybody approaches golf travel differently and we have such a good network and such a deep frame of reference for golf and recreation across the state, it only made sense that we go that extra mile by rounding out the golf trips with the local flavor and authenticity Texas is known for,” Gist says. “It would be a shame, for example, for
a group to play golf in Austin and miss out on (barbeque at) The Salt Lick or play in Dallas and not swing by the original Bob’s Chop House. What other group that books golf trips bundles tickets to college football games for their clients? That’s just one of the ways we’re at a unique advantage. We know the difference between booking a package and a true travel experience.” The biggest mission right now is to get golfers from outside the state aware of the compelling quality of golf Texas offers. It’s an education process Gist says, adding “It’s no one’s fault, but people just don’t know about the great geography Texas has. There’s so much terrain that’s diverse: from the coast to the Hill Country to desert-type golf out in West Texas and Dallas, believe it or not, offers a mix of it all. Houston has high-quality golf with towering pines and a very familiar brand of golf like you’d find in destinations like Georgia of Alabama.” Gist is a PGA professional with ties all over the state and a background in golf TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
BUTTERFIELD TRAIL (EL PASO)
resort operations. The economic upside to marketing golf as heavily as other states have, he says, could be immense. “In 2008, a study showed golf in the state produces $7.4 billion of direct and indirect economic output annually. When you look at that versus what we’ve done as a state to market golf, those figures don’t match right now, but the right people are starting to realize the potential of what this golf market can be if we proudly position Texas as the dynamic and cool destination that it is,” he says. “All the infrastructure and quality of experience is here. It’s now time to market and bring more golfers here.” Gist has found that raising the national profile of Texas’ golf properties is an appealing thought to many. Presently, only the Canyons Course at Austin’s Barton
Creek Resort & Spa represents Texas on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses. Michigan has eight properties on the list. Wisconsin has six. Wisconsin, for cryin’ out loud! “We’ve known for a long time that San Antonio has been the only Texas city really working to drive tourism with golf. We’re ready to move on to the next phase and a new chapter for the rest of the state.” With a diversity of terrain, more than 800 golf courses, a climate that’s conducive to year-round visitors, Texas is poised for a healthy spike in golfing tourism. Gist thinks once those numbers grow, Texas could have a bona fide golf trail (or series of trails) on its hands “We’re seeing a nice percentage of groups who travel with us and actually re-book,” he says. “We had a
BARTON CREEK RESORT & SPA (AUSTIN)
group spend the week in Austin in 2011 and call back recently to say they want the same program but they want to see San Antonio this time. We can keep him coming back to Texas, but to his group, it feels like a different destination each time.” It’s an ambitious plan, but Texas Bound For Golf has a growing number of golf courses, resorts, hotels and CVBs who buy into its cooperative marketing program. Gist reports that those partners have seen returns of up to 900 percent on their investment and no less than a 100 percent return. “We can’t help but think this about to get really fun and we’re on the brink of exposing a large number of people to the magic of golf in Texas,” Gist says. For more information, visit www.texasboundforgolf.com.
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Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 13
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The Case For
Rule 33-7 By BRAD LARDON
iger Woods and The Masters rules committee certainly brought the rules of golf to the forefront again. In many ways this was a good thing. There are several things we know as facts. When Tiger hit his ball off the flagstick and into the water hazard on number 15 at this year’s Masters golf tournament he had three options under Rule 26. He could use the drop circle, he could drop his ball as far back as he would have liked keeping the point the ball crossed the hazard in line with the flagstick or he could have dropped as “near as possible” to the point of his previous shot played. In the heat of the moment, while trying to maintain his composure after the terrible misfortune he suffered, he made an incorrect drop approximately four feet behind where he had previously played.
14 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
Did he try to take advantage of the rule? I don’t think so. He was flustered and did not think properly. The series of events that took place after that is what is amazing to me. First, the fact that there was not a rules official present to correct the drop on the spot is amazing. I have played in four major championships and rules officials are typically everywhere for these events. The fact that the rules committee was aware of the drop and discussed the drop prior to Tiger finishing the round (deciding that is was OK) and did not discuss it with him before he signed his card is also amazing. And finally, the following day deciding not to DQ him using the new rule 33-7 to keep him in the tournament was unprecedented. In my opinion, the rules committee put Tiger in a very bad position by not acting quickly and doing a thorough investigation of the situation prior to Woods signing his card. Ironically, in my most recent event at Miramont, The Tower Invitational (Our National Senior Amateur Invitational) we had a rules situation that I
incorrectly ruled upon. A player had marked his ball on the putting green. While standing next to the water hazard the ball inadvertently popped out of his pocket, bounced off the head of his putter and shot backward into the pond. I had thought because this was an accident that a penalty would not be incurred and told the player. I was wrong. According to the rules, he had to finish the hole with the ball he was playing. This player had already finished the round and had signed his card when I told him that this mishap would be a two stroke penalty. Because of my mistake I was able to invoke rule 33-7 and not disqualify him. I love the new rule. In the past, he would have been disqualified and I would have been the reason. Golf is the only sport in the world that will allow viewers to call in rules violations after the fact and affect the outcome after play. Frankly, I feel this does not allow for a level playing field since only a very few leaders each week are shown on television and the rest of the field is not subject to this scrutiny. Maybe in the future the USGA will
define “as near as possible” by using a measurable distance that is acceptable. In reality, how many of us have abused this rule by dropping a ball on a slightly better piece of turf a few inches to one side as opposed to the other side (which might not be as good)? Is this intent any worse than the Tiger’s error? I think not.
Brad Lardon is the well-respected Director of Golf at Miramont Country Club. His ongoing series of articles, "From the Pro," will appear in each issue of TEXAS GOLFER. Brad can be reached at: Lardon@miramont.cc
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NEWPORT DUNES TO BE RE-BRANDED AS PART OF HIGH-END RESORT COMMUNITY
eal estate development firm Koontz McCombs has announced the purchase of the acclaimed Newport Dunes Golf Club, the awardwinning, links-style Arnold Palmer Signature Course in Port Aransas. This purchase adds 222 acres of golf course and approximately 500 acres of partially developed property to the Koontz McCombs Port Aransas portfolio, transforming its existing
Palmilla development into a newlybranded Mustang Island destination named Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Club. With the acquisition of the golf course, Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Club is now the only one of its kind on the Texas Gulf Coast. This master planned, resort-style community spans more than 700 acres that occupy beach, bay, golf and marina-
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front properties, plus hundreds of acres of nature area. Koontz McCombs has engaged leading urban designer Mark Schnell of Schnell Urban Design to offer a walkable mixed-use community with a relaxed and elegant coastal architecture. The architectural style promises to mix the influences of classic American coastal cottages with diverse European colonial influences such as St. Augustine, New Orleans, Cartagena and the San Antonio missions. “Mark has done amazing work developing communities like Seaside, Fla. where people can walk everywhere and enjoy an incredible lifestyle that takes full advantage of the setting and surrounding, says, says Koontz McCombs President and Chief Executive Officer Bart Koontz. The residential portion of the plan calls for two communities, Village North and Village South. With already-existing streets and utilities, the waterfront Village North will be the first in development with 75 single-family lots, as well as multi-family condominium lots, mixed-use spaces, swimming pool and an expanded clubhouse in the master plan. In addition to the residential offerings at Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Club, the master plan includes three hotels—a resort-style hotel on Island Moorings Marina plus two beachfront hotel sites that are currently in the conceptual planning stage, one of which includes the permanent location of the future clubhouse. The marina-front hotel is envisioned to encompass more than 100 rooms and 5,000 square feet of conference space. This development represents a game-changer for the sleepy coast of Port Aransas and Mustang Island. A truly upscale resort community has never taken off in this area, but the Koontz McCombs plan means this area of low-key Port Aransas could transform into one of the country’s premier waterfront resort destinations. Watch and see! For more information, visit www.palmillabeach.com. TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
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DALLAS/FORT WORTH News & Notes By JAMES MCAFEE
COORE, CRENSHAW TO DESIGN NEW DALLAS COURSE greens, wispy native grasses, scraggly bunkers and waste areas, but no trees or lakes. The City of Dallas joins other municipalities who have embraced the idea of building courses on landfills, beautifying lifeless tracts of land. Dallas will spend $12 million on remediation of the site, something that it was already obligated to in accordance with a state order. The city will own the course and any improvements on the land. The project will be funded by a private not-for-profit entity that will include AT&T, Southern Methodist University, civic partners and business associates. This group will be required to raise the millions of dollars necessary to complete the project by the spring of 2016 and then manage the facility.
he renowned golf course design firm of Coore & Crenshaw have been retained to design the new Trinity Forest course, located on decades of trash on a landfill six miles south of downtown Dallas.
based in Austin, said it was an honor for the firm, which takes the minimalist approach to designing golf courses, to be selected for what is hoped to be a world class golf course.
The Coore & Crenshaw design firm’s philosophy is that traditional, strategic golf is the most rewarding, and the creation of courses that present this concept with the greatest artistry is the ultimate goal. They have blended their personal experience and admiration for the classical courses of Ross, Mackenzie, Macdonald, Maxwell, and Tillinghast to create a style uniquely their own.
“It’s not the most dramatic site in the golfing world,” Bill Coore said. “No one will confuse this with Cypress Point, but I was surprised, quite frankly, at the natural rolling terrain. It has great character and is inherently appealing for classic golf. It has the potential to yield an outstanding golf course.”
Ben Crenshaw, a native Texan TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
Coore added that the layout will have a links feel, taking advantage of the rolling hills. There will be expansive fairways, slightly elevated
The semi-private club will include an 18-hole championship course, a 9-hole short course, a practice facility and clubhouse. It will include a teaching center for the First Tee of Greater Dallas. The SMU golf teams will have full use of the course and the practice area. Since AT&T takes over sponsorship of the Byron Nelson Championship in 2015, there is already speculation that the event could be moved to the Trinity River course. That decision will be up to the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. In addition, some early conversations point to even higher goals for the course, like hosting the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship or the Fed Ex playoffs. Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 17
The Courses at Watters Creek: Entering a New Era
he 18-hole Traditions Course at the City of Allen’s newly redesigned municipal golf venue, The Courses at Watters Creek, opened in January. Featuring multiple courses for players of different abilities, the new golf course is building a reputation as one that’s player-friendly, in stark contrast to the golf course it has replaced, Chase Oaks Golf Club. “We’re trying to do our part in growing the game, making it enjoyable for every level of golfer,” said Jeff Holt, head golf professional and golf services manager. “It may look easier, but it’s still tough.” The transformation begins with the D.A. Weibring and Steve Wolfard renovation of the old Blackjack 18 holes, a Robert von Hagge and Bruce Devlin design that was regarded as one of the most challenging public links in DFW. Weibring notes that steps have been taken to protect homeowners, including the rerouting of some
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holes, widening the playing corridors and adding trees, bunkers and other features along the edges of the property to direct play away from the homes. To protect golfers, some of the steep burns have been softened, landing areas expanded and greens made more receptive. Overall, the routing has been reversed with the No. 1 tee now starting where the old No. 18 green was located, but regulars will see a lot of holes that run in the same direction which look familiar with only subtle changes. The signature par-4 thirteenth is now No. 6. It still features a drive from an elevated tee to a fairway with trees on both sides. The approach shot must still carry a creek with a large retaining wall, but the green has been lowered three feet, making it more receptive. In addition, there will be a local rule that allows for a drop on the green side of the hazard as one way to speed up play.
Among the most noticeable changes: The lake on the old No. 8 was relocated to make room for the new par-3 No. 11 and the new short par-4 No. 12, playing in the opposite direction. No. 18 is located in the corridors of the old Blackjack No. 8 and the Sawtooth No. 1, finishing at a green right below the clubhouse. The six-hole Futures Course, featuring holes from 40 to 120 yards, is now over-seeded with rye. It will be open for preview until May and then re-opened in August. Located right next to an expanded driving range, The Futures Course will be lighted for evening play and is designed as a place for beginners, and those looking for a quick game. The nine-hole Players Course will also open later this year and features six par 3s and three par 4s. Additionally, The Courses at Watters Creek offers a short game area with three greens and four bunkers. TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
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HOUSTON News & Notes
ESCALANTE GOLF BUYS REDSTONE’S HOUSTON-AREA GOLF PROPERTIES
ne of the Houston golf community’s most recognizable “brand names” now has a new owner as the Redstone Company recently completed the sale of its four golf properties (a total of six 18-hole golf courses) in the Houston area. Escalante Golf is the new owner and operator of Redstone Golf Club (Tournament and Member Courses), Shadow Hawk Golf Club, The Houstonian Golf & Country Club and BlackHorse Golf Club (North and South Courses) in Houston. Escalante is a Fort Worth-based firm with an impressive portfolio of luxury golf properties across the country, including The Golf Club at Dove Mountain (Marana, Ariz.), The Crosby National Golf Club (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.), Country Club of the North (Beavercreek, Ohio) and Black Diamond Ranch (Lecanto, Fla.) among others.
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“We’re excited to have such a balanced and extremely well-respected collection of courses join our family of properties,” says Escalante operating partner David Matheson. “Redstone was passionate about what they built in Houston and the standards they upheld with each of these operations. Our longterm goal, really, is to share and continue on with the vision that helped elevate these properties to some of the best in the state and the country.” In the short term, Redstone Golf Club will maintain its name but, according to the terms of the sale, the 36-hole property will need to be re-named within the next 12 months. Escalante has brought on Mike Mefford, former superintendent from The Golf Club at Dove Mountain which hosts the WGC Accenture Match Play Championships. “It’s important
to maintain what Redstone has done in creating ‘Augusta-like’ conditions for the Shell Houston Open,” Matheson says. “We’ll work closely with the Houston Golf Association to ensure top conditions.” No replacement has been names for former Redstone director of golf Charlie Epps who took over the same position at Champions Golf Club in May, replacing long-time Champions pro Tad Weeks. Former Redstone superintendent Randy Samoff was also recently hired by Champions. Matheson says, Epps left behind a capable and talented staff, so Escalante has the luxury of time when considering Epps’ replacement. “We’re excited about the future of each of these properties,” Matheson says. “We’re honored to continue the legacy and enhance every aspect of membership and public play,” Matheson says.
SPEEDGOLF GETS BOOST FROM MASTERS WEEKEND TELECAST
peedGolf may not be the magic bullet that solves slow play globally, but it proves that it’s possible for golfers to shoot great scores in blindingly short amount of time. Last fall’s inaugural SpeedGolf World Championships was showcased right before the recent Saturday round of The Masters on CBS and opened eyes to how the events are staged and scored as well as many of the personalities involved in the small-but-growing pastime. Chris Walker, a native of The Woodlands and a talented former member of the Notre Dame golf team, beat a field a 14 speed golfers in that 36-hole event which was played at two acclaimed layouts at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Old MacDonald and Bandon Dunes. Walker posted a score of 77 in 53 minutes, 29 seconds in the first round, then fired a 76 in 56:59 for a two-day total of 263.28. An official SpeedGolf score combines the number of strokes with the time it took to complete the round. Playing in his first professional
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SpeedGolf event, Walker nipped the organization’s founder Tim Scott (who scored 264.47) by one. Walker’s birdie on the final hole clinched the victory. Splitting time between the Adams Pro Golf Tour and qualifing for Web.com tournaments, Walker was pleased to collect the $18,000 first prize for the SpeedGolf World Championships title. On sinking the deciding putt, Walkers recalls “I just dropped to my knees. Probably more out of exhaustion than actually winning.” Scott says the CBS telecast has sent a steady stream of inquiries to his inbox, but he realizes the challenges of growing such a unique hybrid sport. “Anyone could have fun doing this but it’s a unique combination of two specific disciplines. People usually find they play better or at least up to their usual score when they try SpeedGolf for the first time, but running 18 holes isn’t for everyone.” The lowest SpeedGolf score ever recorded is a 65 in 44 minutes. “This may not be THE cure for the five-hour round, but I think we’re opening eyes to people who look at SpeedGolf as a way to play more golf in less time, Scott says. “If you can play 18 holes in about an hour and still have the rest of the day ahead of you, that’s appealing to a lot of people who’d like to play more golf.” For more information, visit www.speedgolfinternational.com.
Play A Round. Then Play Around.
Alles in Fredericksburg! Find it “all in Fredericksburg.” The $2 million renovation of the Lady Bird Johnson Golf Course and more extras than you’d expect. Play on re-contoured fairways built to USGA standards with 48 challenging bunkers, water in-play on over half the holes, lush Champion Ultra Dwarf underfoot and spectacular Hill Country views. Plus, your 19th hole is Fredericksburg! Enjoy our scrumptious cuisine, award-winning brew-pub, winery tours and live music. Or the 150 boutiques and art galleries, hiking, spas, museums and more. As far as getaways go, it’s your ace in the hole. H VisitFredericksburgTX.com | 866 997 3600
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CLUB CHAMPION REVOLUTIONIZES THE FITTING EXPERIENCE
hen the USGA ruled that adjustable clubs would be allowed within the Rules of Golf in 2007, everyone wondered what exactly the impact would be on the game. We’ve come a long way in the ensuing years and perhaps the best example of the power of adjustability can be seen in custom fitting. By pairing the power to “play God” with hundreds of shaft and club head combinations with the use of the latest technology like launch monitors and Track Man analysis, fitters can get down into the DNA of a golfer’s swing and make prescriptions for custom club fittings that are more accurate than ever before. Fitting has evolved rapidly since 2007 and a prime example can be seen within and on the walls of Houston’s new Club Champion store (10321 Katy Freeway). Around 350 shafts line those walls alongside the heads of the most current models of drivers, irons, hybrids, fairway woods, wedges and putters. Forget “off the rack” buying. This is a club enthusiast’s paradise: all custom fitting, all the time. “There’s a serious segment of golfers who want the latest and greatest in club technology and shafts and they’ve been waiting for a store like this. This is their candy store,” says Trevor Sauntry, Club Champion’s general manager and master club fitter. “There’s no reason to buy any golf club without knowing that it’s the perfect fit for you. We can find it and get it in your hands and through the fitting process, give you the confidence that you’re putting the best clubs for your game in your bag.” Club Champions approach to selling clubs flies in the face of
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conventional golf retail, but Sauntry says the fitting experience is the kind of process that can win a customer over for life. “Once we’re getting instant data on a golfer’s swing and we’re making adjustments that improve their performance, the light goes off,” he says. “They’re feeling the weight of the club during the fitting process and they’re feeling the shaft load and unload for them. Most golfers have never felt that or seen their ball flight improve as a result of going from the wrong shaft or lie angle to the right one. It’s a big difference. They discover the feeling they should have had five years ago when they first bought that last set of irons.” From satisfying one customer, Sauntry says word of mouth then becomes his most powerful form of advertising. “We want the golfer to leave here understanding why we’re giving the recommendations based on the data. That way, he can tell his buddies ‘Well, my launch angle 14 degrees with 5,000 RPM spin rate and now it’s 12 degrees with 2,500 RPM and I’ve picked up 10 yards. My shaft was too stiff and now I’m hitting it straighter,’” he adds. Club Champion is like the ultimate equipment trailer (like on the PGA Tour). Most custom orders can be fulfilled within seven to 10 days and a full range of fitting options can be booked in the state of the art store including a custom putter fitting. Fitting prices at Club Champion range from $90 for Wedge Fitting to $350 to the full-set Ultimate Bag Fitting (which is designed to last more than three hours). Visit www.clubchampiongolf.com for more information. TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
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HILL COUNTRY News & Notes Barton Creek, Wolfdancer Announce New Directors of Golf
ndustry veteran Michael Sizemore recently took on the role club of director of golf and recreation at Austin’s Barton Creek Resort & Spa, overseeing all golf operations at Barton Creek, including day-today management of the resort’s four championship golf courses, Barton Creek Country Club’s tennis and recreation operations, golf instruction, tournaments and new experiences for members and guests. “Barton Creek is known for its top-ranked golf courses, but there is also this welcoming culture and
olf Dancer Golf Club at The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines in Bastrop recently welcomed back an experience club professional who helped open the property in 2006. Kelly O’Donnell follows up a stint at White Bluff Resort on Lake Whitney with a homecoming of sorts. “It’s a really cool feeling to see the connection from what the property was like when it opened to what it’s become,” O’Donnell says. “As Austin has grown so has Hyatt Lost Pines and Wolfdancer. It’s interesting that we were new and now, in a lot of ways we’re leaders and innovators in hospitality and service. O'Donnell brings more than 30 years of experience to his new role as director of golf, including his years TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
family atmosphere here that make it such a wonderful place to visit,” said Sizemore. “It is a privilege to join the Barton Creek team and I look forward to enhancing the golf experience further, introducing our golf program to more players, and maintaining our status at the top of golfers’ lists both regionally and nationally.” Prior to joining Barton Creek, Sizemore most recently served as the director of club operations at PGA Village in St. Lucie, Fla. where he was responsible for the development, implementation and execution of golf operations, course maintenance, food and beverage, sales and marketing, and membership services. Additional golf professional experience includes positions at PGA Village at Coyote Springs in Coyote Springs, Nev., Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore., and the Resort at Red Hawk in Sparks, Nev.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of Barton Creek,” Sizemore says. “The history and the prestige and all of the accolades Barton Creek has received obviously mean a great deal, but the true treasure is the people.” Sizemore says the club and resort business is evolving to be more family-centric and the Barton Creek team is implementing activities and infrastructure to cater to all ages. He adds that other changes are afoot at Barton Creek: “We had a meeting recently and we agreed to something very special. Coach Darrell Royal’s wife Edith agreed to let us rename our member-guest the DKR. From here on, we’re taking ‘member-guest’ out of the vernacular and we’ll honor one of our most beloved members by making him synonymous with one of our most cherished annual events,” Sizemore says. as the product marketing manager for Ben Hogan Golf Company and as the founder and sales operations vice president for Reid Lockhart Golf Company. "We are truly thrilled to welcome Kelly back to Hyatt Lost Pines and Wolfdancer Golf Club," said Steve Dewire, general manager of Hyatt Lost Pines. "His industry knowledge and relationships, talent and love of the game made him the best candidate to fill this position. Since the day we opened, he has been a wonderful ambassador of our destination, and we're excited about his return and his plans to further expand and enhance the award-winning Wolfdancer golf experience." Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 23
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What Can You Learn From Valero Texas Open Champ Martin Laird
artin Laird won the Valero Texas Open on the strength of a 22-putt final round on his way to a course-record tying 63 at the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio. “(That) week, I went back to my old faithful putter that I won Bay Hill with a few years ago and probably had my best putting spell with. Now I'm wondering why I ever stopped using it,” Laird said. “For some reason I could see all the lines. The putter felt great. I had the speed of the greens.” Laird’s putting helped him to a 63 when the rest of the field was averaging 70.82 in the final round and the next-best score of the day was a 66 by Rory McIlroy.
Laird was certainly in a comfort zone. “If you watched Laird during this week, you would notice a key component in his pre-putting routine. As he looked at the hole, he would simulate the movement of his stroke with his right hand. He is getting into what I call ‘the feel zone’, says Dr. Gregg Steinberg, author of Mental Rules for Golf. “To putt your best, you will need to let go of being too line oriented and get into the feel zone like Martin Laird did at the Valero.” Sometimes going back to an old putter or an old routine can help a golfer refocus on the fundamentals that netted them earlier success. It’s worth a try! For more information on the Valero Texas Open.
TopGolf Brings the Party to Austin
opGolf recently opened its newest location in northwest Austin with a rousing grand opening event that welcomed seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry and University of Texas golf coach John Fields to a festive night of cocktails, revelry and golf shots. The 65,000-square-foot facility, featuring 102 hitting bays, a rooftop terrace and full-service restaurant is now Austin’s largest sports bar. “The TopGolf concept is something completely novel for the city of Austin, and we offer entertainment for all ages and skill levels,” said General Manager Brad Spofford. “I think nearby residents are as excited as we are to open the doors – we’ve already booked more than 100 private parties and corporate events for the coming year.” TopGolf modernizes the traditional driving range experience with six competitive games and advanced technology to track every player’s shots. The three-level facil-
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ity includes: climate-controlled hitting bays, 2,900 square feet of event space, an extensive food and beverage menu, and more than 200 high-definition flat-screen TVs. This
summer, TopGolf Austin will host golf tournaments, golf clinics for children and live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
“WE ARE GOLF” Contingent Visits D.C. E
arlier this spring, Austin-based PGA Tour player Joe Ogilvie joined a coalition of golf’s leading associations and industry partners called WE ARE GOLF in Washington D.C. to share stories and new data on the powerful and positive impact golf brings to the economy and the community.
“We really just want to make Congress aware of the impact golf has from a financial standpoint and where golf is trying to go with environmental initiatives, with charitable causes and the impact golf has with kids in programs like the First Tee,” Ogilvie says. “Right now, this is an awareness campaign, but that said, Congress has the power to incentivize people to play or not play and we think there are plenty of reasons for more people to play and enjoy the game.” WE ARE GOLF brought a cast of storytellers to Capitol Hill on the sixth annual National Golf Day to discuss what golf has meant to them. Reports about golf’s economic contributions to cash-strapped states around the nation were shared with influential policy makers who may not have otherwise been aware. AdditionTEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
ally, light was shed on the how the golf industry can lead in unexpected ways, like sound environmental practices. “A big initiative in the industry is that we’re trying to minimize the amount of water used on golf courses and make it as much of a closed loop system as we can. That kind of example can filter down
to communities and help make a difference in water management,” Ogilvie says. WE ARE GOLF exists because golf has undeniable impact on local and national scales. “Our primary goal is to communicate to Congressional members that golf is a $68.8 billion per year industry and generates almost $4 billion annually for charities, the majority of which is donated to causes unrelated to the sport,” says Steve Mona, CEO of World Golf Foundation (WGF) and administrator of WE ARE GOLF. “(The D.C. visit) highlighted our six-year-long initiative that has brought industry stakeholders, large and small, to Capitol Hill to describe how the game affects their lives and should be regarded like any other small business. Ogilvie adds: “This is a big business. When you look at the two million jobs in the golf industry, you know there’s a profound impact. Local and state governments benefit from the sales taxes generated by golf businesses. Golf’s going to grow because the country is growing and we want to make sure our leaders understand the dramatic role golf can play in bettering people’s lives.” For more information, visit www.wearegolf.org
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NEW MEXICO News & Notes Sun Country Golf Marathon Supports Youth Initiatives
Celebrity’s Alaska. 7-Night Alaska Tracy Arm Fjords Cruise on board Celebrity Solstice® Seattle, Washington round-trip May 17 – September 6, 2013 Ocean View Starting from $964 †* Ports include: Ketchikan, Alaska • Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska • Juneau, Alaska • Skagway, Alaska • Alaska Inside Passage • Victoria, British Columbia Mention this ad and receive $100* onboard credit.
† CELEBRITY CRUISES RESERVES THE RIGHT TO IMPOSE A FUEL SUPPLEMENT OF UP TO $10USD PER GUEST PER DAY ON ALL GUESTS IF THE PRICE OF WEST TEXAS INTERMEDIATE FUEL EXCEEDS $65.00 PER BARREL. * Prices are in U.S. dollars, cruise-only, per person, based on double occupancy, on select sailings, and subject to availability. Itinerary and prices subject to change without notice. Government taxes and fees are additional. Onboard credit offer is valid on select sailings. Onboard credit is quoted in US dollars. Onboard Credit is not redeemable for cash and any unused amounts will expire at 10 pm on the last night of the cruise. Offer is not combinable with any other savings offer, or onboard credit offer, or other offers. Offer is based on availability. Onboard credit will be applied by Celebrity Cruises prior to the departure date. Certain restrictions apply. ©2013 Celebrity Cruises Inc. Ships’ registry: Malta & Ecuador. 13033373 • 3/2013
he Sun Country Golf Marathon enters its third year gaining momentum from very successful years in 2011 and 2012. Golf professionals, amateurs and junior golfers have committed to play 100 holes of golf in one day! Pledges and donations help the Sun Country golf Association’s efforts to the grow the game of golf for young people in New Mexico and El Paso, TX, as well as supporting other worthy causes. Proceeds from the Golf Marathon are shared between the Foundation and a charity of the marathoner’s choice. In its first two years, committed volunteers made up of PGA Professionals, amateurs and junior golfers have raised over $72,000. Eric Eggleston from The Links at Sierra Blanca helped raise more than $1,500 for junior golf and Donnie Torres, director of golf at Los Alamos Golf Course in Santa Fe, played a staggering 306 holes to raise money. Part of the proceeds have gone back to many deserving charities in New Mexico, Texas and across the country, while the balance has gone to the Sun Country Junior Golf Foundation, a joint charitable effort of the Sun Country PGA and Sun Country Amateur Golf Association. With the Junior Golf Foundation’s share, the organization is able to bring a golf curriculum to P.E. classes in elementary and middle schools and funding other growth of the game and junior golf programs. Visit suncountry.pga.com/marathon to support this effort.
Sandia Rolls Out Champions Club Loyalty Program
andia Golf Club in Albuquerque is selling $199 memberships into its Champion’s Club, a customer loyalty and rewards program. Similar to an airline miles program, the Champion’s Club rewards customers for their loyalty to Sandia Golf Club. The program is designed for the local golfer who has flexibility with their golf schedule and can take advantage of the discounted green fees with a shorter reservation window while earning points towards free golf. If Sandia’s the course you like playing most regularly, a nice list of perks, including two free rounds of golf for joining, a 15% on all in-stock merchandise, eight free range passes and unlimited rounds at the Champions Club rate might just be incentive enough to join the program. Visit www.sandiagolf.com for more details.
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THE ROUNDUP: Checking In
COSTABAJA REVEALS MEXICO’S QUIETER CHARMS By James McAfee
If you ﬁnd the pace a little “hectic” at such luxury Mexican destinations as Acapulco, Puerta Vallarta, Cancun and Los Cabos, LazPaz might be the hidden gem you’re seeking. La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, is truly a rare pearl in this fast-paced world. It’s a place where vacationers come for an easy-going lifestyle that soothes the soul— as you might expect since “paz” translates into peace in English. Home to more than 250,000 residents, LaPaz has all the amenities needed for a happy life. Situated at the gateway to the Sea of Cortez, called “the world’s aquarium” by Jacques Cousteau, it offers spectacular sport fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and other water sports on beautiful beaches that are great places to swim—unlike most of the ones at the tip of the peninsula. The malecon (boardwalk) offers a great place to view the beautiful sunsets and see the locals enjoying themselves after a day of work. It’s sunny more than 340 days a year, with temperatures ranging from 75 to 95 degrees. Yes, it’s hot in the summer. What was missing? Golf resorts and communities with world class courses. Grass just didn’t seem to grow here and water was in short supply, reportedly because the water wells were poorly managed and the region got less than four inches of rain annually. However, developers found the answer thanks to desalinization and the introduction of a less water-hungry turf called paspalum that was tolerant to salt and waste water. Once TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
again, innovation makes the desert bloom. CostaBaja Resort & Spa, sitting on a hillside east of town with breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez, is definitely a hidden gem, deserving of its five-star recognition and worth a visit on its own merits. There is a marina and plenty of housing choices already available with condos and villas at Visa Mar and townhomes at Las Colinas. The 115-room hotel offers luxurious accommodations Gary Player’s first design in Mexico, which took three years to build, offers all the challenges that golfers want. I have to agree with Carl Rygg, the course manager with Troon Golf, who said, “Gary Player hit one out of the park here.” Panoramic views of the deep blue sea are visible from 14 of the holes. Rygg also was pleased that Player’s first design in Mexico was named the seventh best course in Mexico. Having played most of the courses in Los Cabos, it can definitely hold its own with most. Better yet, you can play more times as the green fees are lower. CostaBaja is player friendly if a golfer will pick the right set of tees based on his ability level. You get the “wow” factor when you see your drives stay in the air and go forever on seven holes that play downhill. The ball sits up beautifully on the paspalum fairways. The biggest drop is
180 feet to the 14th fairway. It looks intimidating, but I hit the fairway all three times and had chances for birdies on the par 5. Long hitters can get home or close on two short par 4s. As one might expect from a Player design, there seemed to be more holes turning to the left, favoring a nice draw or a hook, his favorite shot. However, hook it or even slice it too much and you are in the desert, played like lateral hazards. The only water on the course is a large lake on the par-3 eighth where I would recommend hitting at least one or maybe two more clubs than you think as the wind seems to come around the townhomes into you more than it appears from the tee. CostaBaja is definitely a viable vacation option, especially for those on the West Coast, a two-hour flight from Los Angeles. Many golfers like the idea of playing other courses on such trips and the two nearby options are Paraiso del Mar, located across the bay, and Bahia de los Suenos, 40 minutes south. The Arthur Hills-designed Paraiso del Mar is currently not in the best of shape as home owners battle to try and save the project. A better option worth the drive might be the Tom Doak-designed Bahia de los Suenos with summer green fees less than $100. Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 27
f you’re ready to make a splurge on a new piece of golf equipment, now’s not a bad time. The game’s top manufacturers have been working overtime and the results are an enticing selection of technology-packed goodies designed to help you enjoy the game more. If it’s performance you seek, we humbly suggest the follow items:
Golfers loyal to fairway woods or hybrids with rails on the sole will tell you it’s the only way to go if you like a clubs that’s as reliable out of the rough as it is from hardpan. The Cleveland Classic hybrid reduces turf drag for more launch and speed oﬀ the face. A deeper center of gravity promotes higher launch and a piercing ball ﬂight. Available in lofts from 15.5 to 26, this sleek, compact hybrid is one of the most versatile on the market. www.clevelandgolf.com
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While not as new to the shelves as some other driver oﬀerings, Titleist’s 913 D3 bears mention because in an era in which most drivers are designed to essentially correct everything you do wrong, the 445cc classic pear-shaped 913 D3 allows for more workability. Engineers sought increased distance and less spin with more eﬃcient weighting and a lower center of gravity. Forged Variable (Face) Thickness Insert oﬀers a thicker, hotter face and a thinner surface away from the center, allowing for more distance on oﬀ-center shots. www.titleist.com
Adams Golf has been the leader in “combo” hybrid iron sets for the past decade and the Super S might be the company’s best yet. The 3- and 4-iron employ Adam’s Velocity Slot technology for consistent launch and high ball ﬂight. The 5-iron through pitching wedge are designed with an enclosed cavity that sits behind the lower half of the face for improved forgiveness. The design moves some of the cavity’s weight higher and closer to the face for improved MOI and feel. Expect some wow factor when the ball leaves the Super S club face. www.adamsgolf.com
The golf shoe market has responded well to consumer feedback that golfers want a product that marries equal parts comfort and performance in a stylish package. The new adidas AdiCross Tour takes the comfort shoe upscale with a premium, full-grain aniline leather upper and lining. A low-proﬁle seven-spike THINTECH sole provides stability and traction. PLUSFLEX technology allows your foot to move more naturally throughout the swing. www.taylormadegolf.com/adidasgolf
Odyssey is always sure to pack plenty of technology into their putter oﬀers. The new Versa is one of the brand’s most innovative designs in years. High-contrast alignment technology highlights the proper face angle from address to impact, allowing you to align the putter throughout your stroke. Contrasting black and white alignment guides keep your eyes aware of your face angle all the way through impact. The White Hot face insert provides has been tweaked for consistent sound and feel. www.odysseygolf.com
T E XTexasGolfer 29 A S G O L F E R M AWinter G A Z I N 2013 E.COM
Cobra’s adjustable AMP Cell Pro driver gets a patriotic makeover that’s a little Rickie Fowler meets Apollo Creed. A red, white and blue paint job enhances the popular driver’s cosmetics, but it’s the club’s huge sweet spot and fast ball speeds that draw devotees. A workable 440cc head and the ability to adjust your loft, manage trajectory and dial in the club to match your game makes this a player’s driver worth checking out. www.cobragolf.com
If your performance on iron shots is suﬀering, consider the TaylorMade’s RocketBladez irons. The innovative Speed Pocket, a 2mm-wide slot in the sole that ﬂexes and rebounds at impact, promoting faster ball speed, a higher launch angle and shots that stop softly. TaylorMade studies indicate that 68% of iron shots by amateur golfers are mis-hits below center-face. The Speed Pocket allows improved ball speed for those low-on-the-face shots. www.taylormade.com Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 29
The leaders in sports performance eyewear are at it again. Oakley’s RadarLock sunglasses now come with a golf speciﬁc G30 lens that helps golfers see lines contours and subtle shades and tones more easily while getting the same UV protection and durability Oakley has always oﬀered. Switchlock™ Technology makes lens changing fast and hassle-free and a variety of colors and interchangeable lenses let you display your personal style. www.oakley.com
The Putting Stick is a feedback device that helps golfers learn and improve on every stroke. Barely wide enough for a ball to roll along its narrow surface, the Putting Stick reveals if a putt was hit with an open, closed or squared stroke. The device also helps measure eye alignment, stroke length and is adjustable so you can practice putts of diﬀerent lengths. www.tpkgolf.com
The Star Putter was developed by San Antonio-based teaching professional Rita Schuenemann to help golfers aim their putts and truly see the line of their putts. The star-shaped device points directly down the aiming point of every putt and the straight edge of the front of the device helps golfers square the putter face at address. The more a golfer uses the device when practicing putting, the more he recognizes the intended target line of each putt. And this builds conﬁdence on the greens. www.starputter.com
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For a limited time, you can visit www.SecretGrip.com and print a voucher to have one free sample of the Boccieri Golf’s Secret Grip installed at a Dick’s Sporting Goods or Golf Galaxy. Endorsed by Jack Nicklaus, the product features a patented grip compound that is 40 percent heavier than standard. Meanwhile, a 17-gram tungsten weight in the butt-end raises a golf club’s balance point. This promises to promote consistently contact, greater control and distance shot after shot. www.SecretGrip.com TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
Webb’s Winning Ways DEFENDING U.S. OPEN CHAMPION STILL LOOKING TO IMPROVE By Carl Mickelson
f you try really hard, you can almost feel sorry for Webb Simpson. OK, look past the beautiful family, his ability to excel in tough conditions and the U.S. Open trophy sitting on his mantle and consider all the things he’s missed experiencing. He won last year’s U.S. Open so early in his career (at age 26), he never had time to be slapped with the “Best Player Without a Major” tag. He’s been on such a consistent rise with his game, the media hasn’t even had a chance to suggest the sky is falling on him. His most agonizing defeats have come in near misses, but they’ve shaped him into one of the PGA Tour’s toughest fighters down the stretch. Heading into this year’s U.S. Open at Merion Country Club near Philadelphia, Simpson is excited to defend his title and anxious to return to the course that captured his imagination when he competed there in the 2005 U.S. Amateur Championship. “I tell people all the time it is my favorite golf course in the world. What it demands out of the players is so different than most golf courses,” the
three-time winner on Tour says. “It seems like most golf courses now are evolving to be bombers paradise. Every par 4 is 500 yards and you hit driver on every hole, where Merion's the opposite. I only hit a few drivers. For me to try to defend such a big title, it's an honor, but it's even more of an honor at a place I love. I can't wait to get there.” Simpson’s path to winning his first Major might seem like it happened on an accelerated pace (in just his fourth full season on the PGA Tour), but his steady rise doesn’t surprise the folks who have seen his game develop over the years. His coach at Wake Forest Jerry Haas recalls, “He had an unorthodox swing when he got here, but he also always had an unbelievable knack for getting the ball in the hole and he’s got a wonderful short game. His ball-striking is so much better now than it was in college, so I think got a lot more to show.” How does Simpson like his chances on the course he calls his favorite? “I think I’m doing things better than I was a year ago,” he says. “But this is a funny game, so
a lot of times your results won’t show what you’re actually doing. “This U.S. Open is going to be so unique in the sense that I don't think a long player or short player has an advantage. I think a guy with a good wedge game and a good mind will have the advantage because you'll have your birdie opportunities, but what I remember about Merion is the second that you think you’ve got an easy hole, an iron and a wedge, is the second that you probably will make a mistake.” Simpson is currently 12th on the PGA Tour’s money list and 9th in the Fed Ex Cup points race. His best finish of the season was a near-miss at the RBC Heritage where he lost sudden-death playoff to fellow U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell. Earlier this spring, Simpson visited Champions Golf Club in Houston to participate in unique event for Chase Sapphire, a shoulder-to-shoulder walking clinic and closest to the pin competition for valued cardholders. During his visit, he spoke with Carl Mickelson. Here’s that conversation: (continued)➤ Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 31
What do you enjoy about interacting closely with the fans at an event like the Chase Sapphire Golf Experience? It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen for fans. Stewart Cink and I will do three-hole walking clinics and they get a chance to get inside our heads and see what golf inside the ropes is all about. We’ll talk strategy and why I choose certain clubs for certain shots and it’s super fun for me because I get to explain my profession and they’re excited to meet us and then get to play some of the nation’s best courses. What’s the question you get most often at these events? They want to know how to hit the tough shots like the high draw or the flop shot over a bunker to a tight target and lot of time my answer is ‘I don’t know. I just do it.’ You see a lot of amateurs make a lot of swings. Some, obviously, better than others. What’s the most common fault you see amateurs fall into? They all think way too much. They’ve got Golf Digest and the Golf Channel and they’re thinking about 10 different things in a swing that lasts less than a second. My advice is one thought per swing and nothing else. Even trying to do one thought per round might be a good rule of thumb. If I ask an amateur what they’re thinking, a lot of them will rattle off seven different things. They really need to think less. Has winning the U.S. changed your approach or the way you set goals for this season on Tour? Not really. I don’t ever sit down and say I want to win three tournaments and a major in a given year. I don’t set result-oriented goals. I’ve always believed in the principle that if I keep trying to get better, I will and the results will sooner or later take care of themselves. I just want to better at the end of 2013 than at the end of 2012. So if I win zero times or seven time, who cares? As long as I’m getting better, that’s all I’m worried about. It does seem like your work is paying off as we head into major season. It does feel good to work out some things and start to see it pay off on the course. The game is about managing highs and lows and it’s going to see what I’m working on hold up under the pressure. Does winning a major take some of the pressure of the weekly grind off of you? I think what’s done for me is make me more confident. You certainly don’t relax when you win a major because you look at Tiger and see that he’s as hungry as ever after winning 14 of them. If you become complacent, guys start passing you left and right. The Tour is more competitive than ever. You’ve got guys in their 20s, 30s and 40s—and even Vijay in his 50s—playing great golf, so the second I slow down my drive and passion, that’s when guys will start whizzing by me. The Tour really is deeper and stronger than ever. The argument that there were better players in Nicklaus’ era misses the fact that, 32 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
back then, 10 to 15 guys could win each week and now 100 different guys could. Also, today, if you finish in the top 125 on today’s Tour, you’ve probably made $1 million. If you finished 125 in Jack’s day, you had to find a second profession. In 2011, you had some tough losses in tournaments where you played well enough to win but the outcomes went in some other guys’ favor. In hindsight, did those close calls make you realize you were playing well enough to win, you just needed to stay patient and ride the momentum you were building? No doubt. I like to think I learn from successes and failures and I learned in 2011 at Tampa. I bogeyed the last hole and I got a tough ruling in New Orleans. I felt like I handled the pressure well of playing in the last group with Bubba and it came down to the wire. When I did finally break through and win, I realized the experiences in those close calls helped me build confidence and experience.
How concerned are you about the proposed anchoring been? Not that concerned. I’ve always felt like putting was a strength of mine and I always putt conventional with a short putter when I’m home just to continue to ingrain that feel I’ve always had. I haven’t gone back to it in tournament because I’ve putted well (with the belly putter) these past few years. As far as the ban, we’ll see what happens. I disagree with the ruling completely but what happens is going to come down to someone else’s decision… probably some time soon. Is one of the most frustrating aspects of this issue that no one has presented any quantifiable data that anchoring gives a golfer an advantage? That’s just it. There is no advantage and even if there was, there’s no way to prove that it’s helped anyone. In 2011, no one in the top-20 of the Strokes Gained putting statistic anchored. In 2012, there was one guy. If it was really that much of a proven advantage that made you shoot lower scores, more than 10 percent of the Tour would be doing it. For guys like Carl Petterson and Tim Clark, it’s super-unfortunate because they’ve learned
the game that way and 15 years into their professional careers, it’s illegal? How did you start anchoring in the first place? I was in the golf shop at Pinehurst with my family during Thanksgiving vacation in 2004 and tried it almost as a joke. Then I realized “Man, this thing feels pretty good.” I took it on the putting green and made everything with it and I took it out for nine holes and made everything out there. It was kind of by default. What I found was I just became a more consistent putter. I don't get hot quite as much. I don't get cold quite as much. With the short putter, I was a real streaky putter, so in my head I figured if I want to play this game for a long time, I don't want my putting to be such highs and lows. The best players in the game who have had long careers have been steady players, so that's kind of why I switched. I just want to be ready. You’ve always been vocal about your faith, your Christianity. A lot of guys on Tour have, too. Is it special to be in a profession where so many guys share the same faith? Do you feel that kindred spirit when you travel? It would be hard to do what I do for a living if I didn’t have my faith. We’re put on sort of a pedestal and we’re examined from every angle, I feel like. My faith keeps me grounded. As for the Tour, I feel blessed to be around so many different types of people. My closest friends are those who have the same faith. Times can get tough on the road when your family’s at home, you might be playing bad and those are the times when you need a good group around you to lean on and I’ve been blessed. It’s been an interesting five years because the Tour is a lot different than what I thought it would be like. I thought it would be much more interactive and hanging out with players, but it’s a lot more individualistic out there. Interesting. Ben Crane and Bubba Watson are two guys I’m really close to on Tour. They’re super close to me, but we draw the line. I told them no matter how close we get, you’ll never see me in a Golf Boys video. No desire to be the fifth Beatle, the fifth Golf Boy? No. I was never recruited, but I do think they’re hilarious. How do you like your chances at Merion? A lot can happen. Winning last year, though, my confidence grew tremendously. I experienced what it's like in a Major on the back nine and so my confidence just skyrocketed. It proved to me that the in the most pressure packed situation—and, the U.S. Open's the hardest test of golf on every level-- and for me to with a play well that Sunday on the back nine was a huge relief just knowing, hey, I've been here, I can look back and say I've been here before, I know what to do, I know what to expect and I was able to perform under the pressure. That definitely helps. TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
GOING BIG Golf's Extreme Sport Aims to Make 2013 The Year of the Long Ball by Carl Mickelson
Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 33
TWO-TIME RE/MAX WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPION JAMIE SADLOWSKI
rt Sellinger walks and talks these days with an energy that suggests he’s a man on the precipice of something big. Having inked a deal with NBC and Golf Channel to air his Long Drivers of America events this fall and winter, Sellinger anticipates a groundswell of fan support and participation for a pastime that’s thrived a bit on the game’s fringes for nearly two decades. “I feel like this has been 18 years in the making, but we’re riding a lot of momentum and more and more fans are coming to discover what we’re all about,” Sellinger says from his Roanoke office. “I think once people see our competitors on television in a way that’s relatable and fun, they’re going to get swept up by the action.” While some view Long Drive as golf shots with healthy doses of rock n’ roll and barbarism in the mix, the sport has evolved and so has its stable of stars. Take current LDA leading man Jamie Sadlowski, a Canadianborn talent who is known as much for breaking Golf Channel’s simulator
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with a prodigious tee shot as he is for making a cut in a Web.com event. He’s average height, thin, muscular but pretty unassuming until you put a driver in his hand. He’s like the guy in the action movie who sits quietly at the end of the bar until it’s time to get up and whip eight villains into martial arts submission. “We still have a number of hulking, huge athletes,” says Sellinger, but to see a guy who is 5’11” and 170 lbs become a dominant figure in the sport is certainly cool.” Sadlowski won back-to-back Re/Max World Long Drive Championships in 2008 and 2009 and his 418-yard drive in the 2008 event is still a record distance in the Finals. One draw Long Drive has immediacy. The plot moves quickly because the pressure is on almost every shot. In a regular golf tournament, it might take 72 holes for a defining moment. In Long Drive that moment could come with any swing. Sellinger hopes that element and the personalities of his athletes hook a nice-sized viewing audience.
Golf Channel is said to be making October the network’s “Long Drive Month”, dedicating a great deal of programming to LDA regional qualifiers and building excitement for the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship, the Super Bowl for bombers, schedule for Oct. 30 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “We’re excited that Golf Channel has committed to four consecutive weeks of prime time programming plus 16 re-airs of the shows and two live hours at the end of the month,” says Sellinger who is equally excited about an hour-long Long Drive special that will air on NBC Sports in December. “Open Division participation has increased from levels of the past few years, as the lure of a $250,000 winnertake-all payday has proven to be undeniable (along with) the unprecedented coverage Golf Channel is promising,” Sellinger says. For more information, visit longdrivers.com and golfchannel.com. TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
You 2.0 - FIND WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU
Find What Works Best For You
ne of the problems many of us have on the road to improvement is the inevitable comparison to great players. We want their swings, their balance, their consistency and their ability to pull off seemingly every shot. We just all can’t quit our jobs and dedicated the long hours and dedicated practice it takes to get there. Like it or not, we have to improve in baby steps in this
game. In this edition of You 2.0, we’ll explore some simple methods for improving your approach to preparation, practice and putting in ways that are simple to think through, try and implement on the course. Let’s just take some simple techniques and see if we can get a little more limber, a little more dialed on the wedge game and if one of the history’s greatest players can inspire us to make more putts.
GET LOOSE AND GET READY Join Austin Golf Fitness owner Bobby O’Dell, PT (Titleist Performance Institute Certified Medical Professional Level 2 Instructor) in a couple of brief warm up exercises that are critical to prepping you for your round: Even though golf fitness has become a critical part of the game in the PGA ranks, most amateurs have not embraced introducing even the most simple of warm up exercises to prepare the body for a round of golf. Let's review these basic exercises that can be performed prior to your round in less than five minutes and will enable you to play better earlier in your round while avoiding injury. Starting your warm up with squats (above left) will properly activate your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The squat is a dynamic and powerful exercise utilized to engage the glutes and muscles in your hips. Strengthening your glutes and core are critical to maintaining a stable base for the upper body to move from. Try to slowly lower yourself in a seated position with the goal being to get your hips level with your knees To challenge yourself further, try holding a club overhead while performing the squat. This will promote proper upper back posture to help facilitate the necessary upper body turn in your swing. Perform 2 sets of 10 squats. The lunge (above right) is another great core and hip-engaging TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
exercise. I like to challenge my clients by adding an upper-body twist with the lunge to help promote hip and core stability while adding upper body mobility. In the ideal swing, your lower body forms a stable base that allows the upper body to turn and coil, thus generating rotational torque. By allowing greater tension and separation between your upper and lower body, you are now able to create a larger "X-factor". Think of it like a crossbow. This stored energy is then able to be transmitted or relayed to the next sequence allowing for greater speed and power in your swing. Perform this exercise slowly and prevent your knee from passing your toes and work hard to avoid losing your balance. Perform one set of 10 lunges with twist for each side. Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 35
You 2.0 - LEARN FROM THE LEGENDS
An Excerpt From Hogan On the Green By John Andrisani
The following lesson describes putting techniques Ben Hogan learned from Jack Burke, Jr. in 1960. The new book Hogan On the Green (available on amazon.com) goes into greater and more fascinating detail on Hogan’s putting prowess and search for perfection with the flatstick. Enjoy this insight into a great player’s approach to putting, courtesy of author John Andrisani: ne does not need to read the works of Carl Jung to conclude that Ben Hogan's recurring dream, in which he scored aces on 17 consecutive holes before lipping out on 18, and waking up angry about failing to play the perfect round, indicates that, to Hogan, learning golf meant mastering the game through a lifetime process. As it pertained to his putting game, Ben Hogan sought to accomplish this ambitious goal through tireless experimentation on the putting green, in his living room, and in hotel rooms and hotel hallways when on the road; by looking at old photographs in books and magazines showing golfers putting; plus talking to the best putters in the game, such as Bobby Locke, Claude Harmon, two of the most talented teachers he grew up with
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at Glen Garden, Dick and Jack Grout, as well as Henry Picard, Jimmy Demaret, and a man who liked to remain low-key and still does, yet is one of the finest players and teachers in the world, the 1956 Masters and PGA champion: Jack Burke, Jr. While Burke will never take credit for helping Jack Nicklaus or Ben Hogan, the fact is he helped them both. Nicklaus speaks about how Burke helped him by suggesting he alter his right-hand grip, such that he could better push the club through the impact area. When you turn the right hand under the club in a stronger position, yet still keep your right thumb down the shaft, it is far easier to employ the push action that Nicklaus putted so well with in tournaments and major championships. When Jack Burke Jr. putted, Ben Hogan was all eyes, looking to see how Burke employed a practice stroke and stroked his putts by employing a natural-feeling, easy-to-repeat right-sided putting action that Burke helped Hogan refine, as in the book's accompanying photographs. The irony is that Hogan learned the palm-grip position and stroke action before Nicklaus; in fact, Hogan learned it in 1960, 2 years before Jack was given a putting lesson from Burke. If you pick up a copy of Hogan On the Green, you’ll see I have gathered photos that show Hogan and Burke working together on putting technique on the practice green of Augusta National during the 1960 Masters. Burke demonstrates the proper setup position and stroke while Hogan watches, then Hogan sets up and strokes short putts, employing the all-important right palm-right forearm push action through impact, while Burke watches. When Ben Hogan tries to emulate “Jackie”, Burke watches Hogan carefully, making sure his setup and stroke techniques are up to the strict standard Hogan demands of himself, as in the
book's incredible photographs. Hogan's weak left hand and strong right, his head position with eyes over the target line behind the ball, 80% of his lower-body weight on the left foot in what he calls the anchor position, the back of his left hand slightly ahead of the ball, and elbows bent in close to his body are all setup positions that must be checked. On the back-stroke, the priority in checking technique is to be sure that Hogan keeps his body still and works off a hinge action of the right wrist while making sure that the club swings back along the target line, never in an exaggerated shut position (pointing down at the target line on a sharp, oblique angle), but square to the hole, and never dramatically along a path inside the target line. On the down-stroke, the priorities in checking technique relate specifically to making sure that the right wrist straightens in time with the push triggers of the right forearm and palm, and that the club returns along the same line it swung back along. It should be returned in a streamlined manner, too. You should never hit down on the ball. I have seen only one pro make this work, through various compensatory moves and much manipulation of the putter: Isao Aoki. But make no mistake: There are far easier ways to putt well, as Ben Hogan proved over and over again thanks to some special things he learned early on from studying pictures of Australian amateur great Walter Travis and then later in his career from Jack Burke Jr.--and Jack Nicklaus! While the setup of Travis, the weak lefthand and strong right-hand grip, and the right-wrist-hinge back-stroke trigger he employed all helped Hogan greatly, the refinements of the address and putting stroke came from Burke. The latter was such a help to Hogan at the Masters in 1960 that a few months later Hogan almost won the United States Open for a record fifth time.
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You 2.0 - PRACTICE SMARTER
Dial In Your Distances By Dave Pelz
y backyard practice area has a unique feature: target pads set at 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards from my hitting area. The circumference of each target corresponds with the average “leave distance” of PGA Tour players from those yardages. At 10 yards, that’s 27 inches, 54 inches at 20 yards, 81 inches at 30 yards and 108 inches at 40 yards. If I can hit shots into the targets consistently, I’m doing pretty good. I’m playing those shots as well as a PGA Tour player. OK, easier said than done, but it is a benchmark and a good way to practice. Not only do the sizes of the targets provide feedback on the quality of the practice session, the practice of hitting several balls to each target greatly improves a golfer’s ability to learn their individual distances and the corresponding swings that land shots at the targets. The more you know how much of a backswing with which club produces which shot to which yardage, the better you’ll be on the course. You will be amazed at how quickly you can improve around the greens just by hitting shots with different swings to known yardages. Even if you just have a small space in your backyard, set up targets at specific distances and hit 10 shots to each target. Take note of how many hit the target out of 10. You’ll want to try shots with low, medium and high trajectories to see which ones you’re better at hitting to specific distances. Definitely hit shots in which the length of your backswing controls the distance of the shot as you then accelerate your wedge swing to a full finish. Keeping that consistent technique and tempo will help you learn better distance control. If all you’re changing is the length of your backswing and the club you’re using, you’re going to get better and more consistent as you learn your yardages. Soon, you'll have a shot for almost any shot around the green! Try this and send us your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. 38 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
★ TEXAS GOLFER ★
Northern Michigan Seduces with Tremendous Golf and Natural Wonders By Carl Mickelson
his is a golf trip. I should probably be in a fairway somewhere, but the sign said “Farm Fresh Blueberries”, so I stopped. I’m in a wonderfully time-warped town square in Empire, Michigan, an idyllic beach village attached to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the incredible locale recently voted “The Most Beautiful Place in America.” The Dunes and the endless panoramas of Lake Michigan were breathtaking, but I’m now headed to witness a diﬀerent kind of beauty on my day oﬀ from swinging the clubs. As a local farmer hands me a pound of some of the freshest I will ever taste, she mentions the Masters logo on my cap and informs me I’m 20 miles from Alister MacKenzie’s famed Crystal Downs Country Club (ranked 12th Golf Digest’s current list of America’s 100 Greatest Courses).
Silently, in my head, I correct her as I pay for the berries. “22.1, according to Mapquest.” I don’t have a tee time, but I’ve just got to see the creation every noticeably-above-average course in the state inevitably is measured by. Crystal Downs is the standard in Northern Michigan. The MacKenzie- Perry Maxwell collaboration is a playfully hilly track situated in a gorgeous expanse between Lake Michigan and Crystal Lake. Built three years after Cypress Point and two years before Augusta National, Crystal is equal parts subtle and audacious (take the boomerang green at #7, for example). At 6,518 yards it’s all strategy and execution with untamed slopes on and around the greens and uncompromising native grasses bordering the fairways. Not sure how, but I’ll be back.
With the tone set for the week, it’s time to dive into one of the most captivating golf destinations in the country. Golf Digest ranks the Traverse City area the 10th-best spot in the U.S. for buddy trips. There is quality golf and rich scenery everywhere and some of the game’s best architects have left their mark here. The next day, I drive east across Traverse City (home of the Cherry Capital Airport and some of the best water sports recreation in the region) and up to Petoskey’s exquisite Inn at Bay Harbor and the 27-hole Bay Harbor Golf Club. You could have a completely satisfying golf vacation all right there.
Spring/Summer TexasGolfer 39 TREETOPS,2013 SIGNATURE COURSE
★ TEXAS GOLFER ★
TRAVEL GUIDE Bay Harbor Golf Club (www.bayharborgolf.com) is home to three completely diverse and utterly fun nines. The Links Nine winds along a dramatic coastline for more than a mile. The expansive views of Little Traverse Bay are unforgettable. A former shale quarry creates extreme visuals and wild shot values on the Quarry nine, while The Preserve nine is a traditional, well-treed parkland design with a dramatic ﬁnish on Lake Michigan. A great practice area and expansive clubhouse complete the makings of an ideal golf resort experience. The waterfront Inn at Bay Harbor is a perfect upscale family hotel with beautiful rooms, views and a bevy of outdoor activities. Traveling inland, we visit Shanty Creek Resort, (www.shantycreek.com) home to 72 holes of golf, nifty elevations and relaxing views of Lake Bellaire. It’s like a high-end campout at Shanty Creek. You feel escapist when you wind into the lush forest and discover the resort’s rugged beauty. We tackle one of the most playable designs
on our rota, the unbelievably scenic Tom Weiskopf-designed Cedar River course. It’s a straightforward parkland delight in excellent condition and with tons of variety. Shanty Creek is divided into three distinct villages within its 4,500 acres of towering trees and ski mountains. Guest enjoy a cool “campy” lodge vibe throughout the property. Driving east of Traverse City, we hit what local calls the golf “mecca” at Treetops Resort (www.treetops.com). Within 3,500 acres, you’ll ﬁnd thrilling ski runs, 238 hotel rooms and suites, 20,000 square feet of meeting space and ﬁve golf courses that have made the sleepy small town of Gaylord a destination synonymous with golf. Picking a favorite Treetops course, just comes down to taste. Like, which Sports Illustrated swimsuit model would you rather take to lunch?—there’s no wrong answer. Renowned teacher Rick Smith designed three acclaimed courses at Treetops with an artistic eye and a sensibility grounded in traditional, classic
golf architecture. The Signature, Smith’s ﬁrst 18-hole designed course, makes dramatic use of upland areas and features undulating greens and wide, forgiving fairways. The Tradition plays homage to classic, walkable links-style courses and rises and falls in warm, tree-lined setting. The famous par-three course, Threetops, is earmarked by great elevation changes and heart-pounding shots values. The Treetops collection also includes the excellent high-elevation Premier Course by Tom Fazio and Robert Trent Jones, Sr.’s Masterpiece, located at the headwaters of the Pigeon River and showcasing sensational views of natural valleys, ravines and broad plains. It’s hard to imagine a better guys’ getaway than Treetops. There’s really only one way to say this. Forest Dunes Golf Club (www.forestdunesgolf.com) is best-conditioned golf course I’ve played all year. It’s mind-boggling how perfectly-maintained this 7,116-yard Tom Weiskopf layout is presented. Tucked away
BAY HARBOR, LINKS
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★ TEXAS GOLFER ★
TRAVEL GUIDE in the seclude town of Roscommon, Forest Dunes astounds with a brilliant design and a memorable collection of holes like the windy 203-yard ninth and the risk-reward 302-yard 17th where a ﬂip-wedge birdie is a possibility as is hitting bunker shots from three separate locations (Not naming names…) The designer has been quoted as saying. “(Forest Dunes) is stunning beauty contrasted with natural sand dunes, beautiful deciduous hardwoods and pines, along with perfect contours and changes in direction.” With the addition of the exquisitely cozy 11,000-square foot, 14-room Au Sable Lodge on property, Forest Dunes is now a turn-key destination and deﬁnitely the kind of course you’ll want to play more than once. Before leaving town, we got a special invite to a private club near Traverse City. It wasn’t Crystal Downs but there are ties to the famed course at Kingsley Club, an extraordinary layout in a heavily forested expanse of rolling terrain. Golf course architect Mike DeVries, who grew up playing Crystal Downs interpreted an earthy, minimalist links style course by letting the land dictate the playability and routing. It’s ﬁrm, it’s fast and lets you use your imagination from tee to green. Not surprisingly, Kingsley Club has been climbing Golfweek’s list of Best Modern Golf Courses.
SHANTY CREEK, CEDAR RIVER
A week in the region and we haven’t even scratched the surface of all the great public and resort golf in Northern Michigan. That would take all summer… and a lot of golf balls. The region around Traverse City and coastal Lake Michigan is nothing short of a golfer’s and outdoorsman’s
paradise with natural beauty and nice folks everywhere you go. It’s the kind of destination you’ll want to return to as often as you can. Visit www.michigan.org/golf to start planning your trip!
# AT FOREST DUNES
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The Truth About Gaining Distance By TINA BRADLEY MAYERS, PGA
here has been much said about how technology has improved our ability to hit the ball farther. Equipment certainly has come a long way, so you should definitely explore ball fittings and Demo Days to enhance your options for distance. More importantly, understanding the power sources within you will be the key to helping you “Go Long.” There are four Power Sources and when you practice, isolate one during each session to better understand where you may have a power leak. 1.Hands/Arm Rotation – Your arms are in a constant state of rotation in the golf swing. Allow them to rotate freely by having firm (but not tight) grip pressure. This will allow you to have speed in your swing. 2.Torso Rotation - The speed that your shoulders move around your spine will greatly enhance the path and face of the club for speed. 3.Hip Rotation - Your hips create tremendous power when sequenced properly and must be trained correctly. 4.Feet and Legs - The ground has the most influence on sequence. However, they are reactors to the hands to support the club. Remember to start your downswing, your feet move first, then your legs, then your hips, then your shoulders, which move your arms that ultimately fire the hands and swing the club. That’s the sequence, but they all react to your hands as they move freely and smoothly to a good finish position.
In these photos, take note of what’s happening in my downswing. 1.Half way down, my weight is shifting approx four to six inches laterally toward my forward leg as my legs and hips are firing through the shot. 2.At impact, I’ve rotated my hips around twice as much now, about eight to 12 inches from where I was when I first initiated the downswing. 3.Half way through my follow-through, my weight is on my forward leg and my hands and arms have rotated and released the club. As you develop a good swing that happens in the proper natural sequence, practice learning how it feels for your hands to work through impact to supply speed to your swing. You’re going to see yourself hitting it longer! Tina Bradley Mayers is a PGA teaching professional at Grey Rock Golf Academy located in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at 512.413.0574 or email@example.com 42 TexasGolfer Spring/Summer 2013
The Architect’s Digest
Tassie, Tassie, Tassie! By MIKE NUZZO
-plus hours on a plane-- IAH>LAX>SYDney> MELbourne>Launceston (or Lonnie, the easierto-pronounce nickname locals use—and I finally reach Tasmania, the southernmost state in Australia. What a beautiful place! Tasmania, also Australia’s smallest state, is one-tenth the size of Texas with one-fiftieth the population, or in non-Texas terms, it is the size of West Virginia with a population similar to Tucson. Hobart, which is Tassie’s capital, is just a little more populated than Amarillo. From Launceston, it didn’t take long to get to Barnbougle (home two to astonishingly great linksland courses, Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm) or to see my first wallaby, which is a smaller version of a kangaroo. Like a wallaby, Barnbougle is wild and beautiful. Sand is everywhere, the turf is firm, drains incredibly well and the dunes heave and dance across the 36-hole property. It was one of the better sites in the world to build a pair of golf courses. The holes are varied, fun and bold, playing across and around the dunes, beaches and ocean. It was so much fun to play I did not lose interest for a single hole or did I lose a ball. Keeping a ball in play is indicative of a course with lots of options and not too penal. We drove down the eastern coast and through the mountains. It was like crossing a continent filled with a variety of landforms-- from heaving, rolling farmland to mountains to dramatic coast lines-- all in one afternoon. The coastline is as dramatic as California’s with far fewer people and far more modest homes. TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
The primary reason for my trip was to consult on two different sites. One project stalled six years ago; the other is in the planning process. Both are stunning peninsulas surrounded by seas and mountains and more seas. They both have a variety of views from all sorts of locations. So not only are there great waterfront holes, but the views are always changing and interesting. Tee shots align with distant mountains, and you can smell the fresh sea air and see the beaches on more holes than you can on Pebble Beach. The distance traveled is easily worth the opportunities. My client’s goal is to continue to develop great golf until there is a Tasmanian golf trail that traverses the entire state. He is off to an impressive start with Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm. The reason I was brought on was the golf course construction budget was far too expensive for the region, especially given the economic era. Our client had visited Wolf Point and really wanted the details, great greens and our practical approach to build their project. I had maps and a general feel for the site before I arrived, but I was not prepared for the overall beauty of the site. It originally looked like there was a hole or two along the sea. I was wrong. The views were far more compelling than I anticipated. Even the holes on the other side of the road had costal and mountain views in the other directions. This site is totally surrounded by beauty, but the original routing did not take advantage of the site. The other main problem was the golf course was unwalkable. It was filled with long walks between holes, uphill holes away from the vistas and a few holes that would be so Spring/Summer 2013 TexasGolfer 43
artificial when built, they would always be a problem to maintain and stick out like a sore thumb.
There are five beaches and eight bluffs that look like Cypress Point or Pebble Beach. There will be tee shots across beaches, over bluffs and greens sitting on points with waves crashing below. It is incredible. It isn’t all sand, and it is a tiny bit steep, but those conditions are minor and easily overcome.
My goals were to scour the land looking for any and all types of features on the property and their views. It was three days of hiking and photographing the entire site looking for better solutions. Back in the office, my first goal would be to make One problem with such an attractive the course walker friendly and hope some site is to try and get to every scenic spot. I incredible holes would develop. As of now, spent a whole day photographing the coast “Option E” has seven more holes along the line and barely finished by sunset. It isn’t coastline and it is much, much easier to possible to use every feature, so the goal walk. The variety of holes and directions is would be to build the best course possible ideal, especially when considering condi- that is easily walked. It is worth traveling tions and wind.8+ ThisYEARS routing willEXPERIENCE. be signifi- to this site just to hike around the property. INSIGHTFUL. cantly more practical to build and maintain It’s that attractive. THOUSANDS FITTINGS. for the future, too. The previous plan OF placed
you have to do something a little different. Royal Melbourne was the crown jewel, especially when one plays all 36 holes. There is such variety across the board. Greens, bunkers, hole lengths, directions and strategies. The examples of each hole were some of the best. A short uphill two shot hole had an enormous bunker directly in line with the green, tempting almost anyone to be more aggressive. The one shot holes were phenomenally bunkered and some of the best bunkered one-shot holes in the world. The greenside bunkers we so tight against the green edges, one actually takes a huge bite out of the front middle of a green. In all, I don’t remember losing more than one or two balls between all my rounds. There was a freedom to play
UNBIASED. BRAND AGNOSTIC. COMBINING THE ART AND THE SCIENCE.
an emphasis on difficult holes. The best parcels and land forms were used for the most challenging holes, even if it meant shoe horning a forced fit. Our approach lays the best possible hole at each location. So some of the best features may be used on a shorter hole, which is often better in my opinion.
After working in “Tassie”, I got the chance to visit Melbourne. The Sandbelt has plentiful sand-based soils with moderate conditions ideal for golf. And as a result, some of the best courses in the world are here.
I played Royal Melbourne West & East, Kingston Heath and Victoria Golf Club. LOFT. LIE. LENGTH.They SWING WEIGHT. are beautiful, affordable, practically The second project is a collaborative maintained, easy to SST PURE. BEND. GRIND. GRIP. walk and play fantaseffort. Our client has put together a team tically fun. Kingston Heath is one of the of architects fromSTAMP. Australia, Scotland easiest walking courses I’ve ever played PAINT.and PRECISION. Texas (myself). The local firm has been and completely validated our approach working on the overall plan as well as on keeping a golf course as walkable as FIT...LOWER SCORES. the routing. We’llBETTER be responsible for the possible. Every hole fits together better irrigation and detail design as construc- and flows so much more naturally. There tion begins. This is a public project on the are not cart paths either. Victoria had some coolest looking peninsula I’ve ever seen. very interesting land forms and green The course is similar to Old Head in Ireland, complexes. It was the most manicured of but on a piece of property larger and more the courses I’d seen, probably because suitable for a golf course and public access. when you compete with your neighbors,
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and have fun and try to recover when hit in a less than best position. A few pointers are in order if you are interested in playing the best courses: Long socks are required if you prefer to wear shorts, and it is perfectly acceptable to use a trolley, or push cart. In fact, they are encouraged, as golf carts are very rarely seen. The trolleys even have a nifty device to drop soil on your divot marks. It was an incredible trip. I hope many Texans and fans of world-class golf can also visit. As for me, maybe Adam Scott wasn’t the only winner this spring. Hopefully, we’ll make a great global trade, and soon many will get to see some of our work in his fantastic home country. Good on ya mate! TEXASGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM
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