Sunday, August 23, 2009

More drivel from golf announcers

It's said so often, that it has now become standard knowledge: "Donald Ross built small greens." Unfortunately, it's not true. I've never been a Ross course where the majority of greens were "small," no matter how "small" is designated.

On Saturday, I heard another one of this informational tidbits that are, in fact wrong, courtesy of, CBS annoucer, Bill Macatee during this week's PGA Tour Event, the Wyndham Championship that is played on the Sedgefield Country Club, a Donald Ross design.

"As with most Donald Ross courses, the greens are the primary defense."

I'm not sure where this misinformation came from but it might be that many of Ross's designs and redesigns have had the original random fairway bunkering removed. From what I've seen on many courses where Ross worked is that a properly placed tee shot leads to a preferred angle into the green. Thanks to Macatee, and others, though, most people don't know that.

Sunday update: Ian Baker Finch just walked viewers through the final three holes of the course, not even realizing he contradicted Macatee. On 16 he pointed out how getting the drive in the fairway was so important to score on the hole;there's a fairway bunker and a pond right. For 17, Macatee talked about how the difficulty is a result of the uneven fairway, leading to tricky stances on the approach shots. About 18, he described how the difficulty is that the second shot is from a down-hill lie to an uphill green.

Those three holes, from my experience, accurately sum up Ross's work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Arawana in the news and on the blogs

Here are two items, one from the Middletown Press (where I was once a sportswriter covering the Hartford Whalers) and the other from Thanks to Bob Samek for inviting me on.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

To the Nines are here

If you wish to purchase a copy of To the Nines ($10 plus postage and packaging), please email your return address to:

Indicate whether or not you would like the books signed and to whom.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Arawana Golf Course in the press

The Hartford Courant (Tom Yantz) and the Hartford edition of the Examiner (Tim Gavrich) have picked up on the story.,0,652060.story

Work has begun on the hire pressure oil line that will run through the proposed golf course site and all the way to the Kleen Energy power plant. That's good news for us since they are removing trees we would have had to take down.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Arawana update

The Arawana Golf Course project is progressing. The official proposal is in the hands of the Economic Development Commission. The photo shows members of the the EDC along with Bill Warner, director of the department of Planning, Zoning and Conservation. He's on the right, pointing to the route plan I provided. I was unaware of the walk-through, but that's not a problem. The bearded gentleman in the background is Dick Wheeler. He's the head of ArtFarm, which has submitted a proposal to use another parcel of land not near the golf course. When I moved to Middetown in 1989, Dick lived across the street from me.

Next up is the EDC meeting on Sept. 14 when I make the formal proposal to EDC. In the meantime, I'll be out there trying to find more investors.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A new direction: golf course development

I've entered the golf course development business and am in the process of trying to make the 9-hole Arawana Golf Course and practice area come to life in Middletown, Conn. For that to happen, I need to secure a lease for about 100 acres of land from the city, which I'm now in the process of doing.

Here is a brief outline of the golf course -- designed by Brian Silva (99.1 percent) and me (.9 percent) -- and the course routing. (Click on the image to enlarge. For inexplicable reason, the numbers for holes 2/11 and 8/17 do not appear.)


The Arawana Golf Course will be a unique, affordable, daily fee, nine-hole layout that will play like 18 holes, and includes a large practice area. Using two distinct sets of tees, two holes will play as either a par-4 or a par-5, while one hole will be a par-3 or a par-4. On the remaining four holes, tees will vary the length enough so that while par remains the same during both trips around the layout, play will be distinctively different each time through.

The course will vary in length from just over 5,000 yards to just under 7,000 yards, accommodating all skill levels of players. Par will be 72.

The practice area will be one of the largest located on a public golf course in Connecticut. It will include a driving range that has a 50,000 square-foot grass tee as a short game practice area, as well as a practice putting green.

The clubhouse will be small and will have a pro shop and a small dining/bar area designed to service only golfers. The restaurant will not be open after golf course operating hours nor will it be open during the months when the golf course is closed.


The golf course architect, Brian Silva, is Golf World Magazine’s 1999 Architect of the Year. The layouts he’s designed, as well as those he’s restored, have received accolades from golf publications on the national and regional level. For instance, his most recent original golf course, Old Marsh Country Club in Wells, Maine, was named one of the 10 best new courses to open in the United States in 2008 by Golf Magazine.

Silva’s design philosophy harkens back to the Golden Age of Architecture when men like Donald Ross, A.W. Tillinghast and Seth Raynor plied their trades. They not only produced visually interesting layouts but also ones that could be enjoyed by all golfers, from single-digit handicaps to the higher handicaps and even beginners. Silva, like his famous predecessors, wants golfers of varying skill levels to have fun during their time on the golf course, while also having the opportunity to test their game. His design philosophy is predicated on options, offering multiple routes along each golf hole to accommodate all levels of play. Unlike the other public courses in the area, Arawana will invite golfers to challenge the course and themselves. More information on Brian’s work can be found here:


Only a minimal amount of earth will have to be moved to create the tees, fairways and greens of the course since the natural topography lends itself perfectly to golf. There will also be a minimal amount of tree removal since much of the land is open. A swath of trees that would have to be removed during course construction is already scheduled to be taken down during the installation of the Kleen Energy high-pressure oil pipeline. A large barren area that is being used to store building material and heavy equipment for the Kleen Energy project will be converted to grass as a result of the golf course.


The grassing and maintenance of the Arawana Golf Course will be environmentally friendly. We intend to turf the fairways with a mix of fescue and bent grasses. Usually, in this part of the country, golf courses are seeded with a mix of bluegrass and ryegrass because they grow quickly and are a rich green color. Arawana’s turf varieties are more environmentally friendly; fescues and bents require less water than other varieties. As a result, they are less susceptible to disease and therefore require fewer pesticides to survive. The fescues will also create a look to which the vast majority of golfers who play Arawana will not be accustomed. Fescues and bents naturally lose their brilliant green color during the warmer months, changing to pale green and even light brown. Picture the great linksland courses of the United Kingdom and that will give you an idea of what the Arawana will look like during the summer and fall.

In keeping with this environmentally friendly approach, out-of-play areas will not be manicured or maintained, but allowed to grow naturally. Varieties of fescues will be interspersed in those areas to grow along with and bolster the native species. The areas will be mowed two or three times a year, the result of which will be the gradual eradication of invasive and unwanted species, which will be accomplished without the use of herbicides.

The impact on the small area of wetlands found on the property will also be minimal. Three bridges will cross Indian Hill Brook, one of the bridges will utilize the stream crossing created by the Kleen Energy Pipeline. The maintained areas of the golf course will not come near the brook.

Arawana Golf Course will also seek Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary status, an education and certification program for golf courses that requires participants to protect the environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf; Audubon International administers it.

The golf course will be maintained using Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. IPM is a method of controlling pests (weeds, diseases, insects or others) in which pesticides are only applied when a pest is confirmed to be active, rather than applying pesticides in anticipation of pest problems or under the assumption there will be a pest problem, thus reducing the use of pesticides.

The image is the Arawana routing laid onto a Google Earth image of the site, expertly done by Tommy Naccarato.

Monday, August 3, 2009

To the Nines goes out of print

I've just been informed by my publisher that To the Nines is going out of print. I have the option to purchase the remaining copies, so if you would like one, please contact me.

Contact me at