Sunday, May 23, 2010

Golfdom (including me) Wins TOCA Award

Golfdom magazine, for which I'm a regular contributor, took home, as usual, a number of awards at the annual Turf & Ornamental Communicator Association's 21st annual meeting held in Tucson, Ariz., recently.

In the past 10 years, Golfdom has won more editorial and design awards combined than any other magazine covering the green industry, including golf course maintenance.

Kudos, once again, to Larry Aylward, Golfdom's editor in chief.

I was part of the award for Best Series, which went to "Water Wise." Besides Aylward and me, Christopher S. Gray Sr. and John Walsh were also honored.

My contribution to the series was, "Architects Have the Answers," where I interviewed Pete Dye (my first time talking with him), John Fought, Mike Hurdzan and Brian Silva about the role of architects in helping golf courses conserve water.

(Pictured is the par-3 15th hole at the Silva-designed Renaissance Golf Club in Haverhill, Mass.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

9-Hole Courses and the Success of Golf

In a May 15 Wall Street Journal article writer Matthew Futterman authored a piece entitled, Golf's Big Problem: No Kids. In it, he discusses how golf has difficulty bringing and keeping young kids to the game and goes on to explain the tact tennis has taken to make the game easier and less intimidating for beginners with much success.

According to the National Golf Foundation, the number of golfers age 6-17 dropped 24 percent to 2.9 million from 3.8 million between 2005 and 2008, the most recent statistics available.

In the article, the NGF makes a connection between attracting young players and 9-hole golf courses.

"Greg Nathan, a spokesman for the NGF, said participation growth has always been accompanied by growth in accessible, affordable facilities, including nine-hole and par-3 courses. Resort and premium courses built by entrepreneurs more interested in real estate than golf drove the latest boom. Although there are 492 more golf courses in the U.S. today than in 2000 (15,979 compared with 15,487) the number of nine-hole courses has dropped to 4,441 from 4,768 while par-3s have dropped from 854 to 895."

Later in the article, Dan Van Horn, president of U.S. Kids Golf, manufacturer of youth golf clubs, advocates teaching the game from the green back so that children learn to be successful with a shorter swing then gradually move back to longer and longer swings.

The article makes some wonderful points that I have made in regard to the nine-hole Quinnetucket Golf Course. One of our major goals is to bring young players to the game in an environment where they can learn to golf in a way that makes it enjoyable for them, no matter the age, size or skill level.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Golfing Paradise that is Hawaii

Since the 1920s, golfers have been making the journey to play the challenging, fun and, of course, incredibly scenic Hawaii golf courses.

Seven of the islands have layouts allowing golfers a wide variety of choices from high-end resorts and daily fee courses to more affordable 18- and nine-hole ones. Even the island of Lanai has two stellar layouts.

Hawaii is also a veritable who's who of modern architects as Robert Trent Jones, Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Tom Weiskopf and Greg Norman all have designs there.

At least four of the layouts are familiar to fans of professional golf. The Plantation Course at Kapalua, Kapalua and Waialae Country Club are PGA Tour venues while Royal Kaanapali Golf Course Hualalai Golf Course host Champions Tour events.

With over 50 courses, getting Hawaii tee times is easier than ever.

(Photo: 12th hole, Challenge at Manele)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Quinnetucket -- Another Dumping Ground Discovered

Over the past two years or so, I've spent a lot of time on the site I hope to one day be the Quinnetucket Golf Course. A certain segment of the Middletown population thinks the 95 acres that would make up the golf course are, "pristine" and "should be left alone."

Since there is a tree farm on the site and aerial photographs show it was a hay field, vegetable farm and chicken farm for much of the last 70-plus years, the site can not be considered pristine.

What has surprised me, though, is the amount of dumping areas I've found on the site. Some are recent and some date back to the farming days. Not too long ago, I was walking the western side of Duck Hill with Jon Johnson when we came across another garbage dump on a steep slope that appears to have been active prior to the construction of the Riverview Hospital. The garbage looks to be the contents of a house, including tubing to hold wiring and a woman's perfume spray bottle. There were also a number of empty liquor bottles scattered over the same area. I hope this is the last of the garbage that we come across.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yale Golf Course Feature in the New Haven Register

It's all too rare for an American newspaper to feature an article on a Classic Era golf course, never mind one that also delves into the architect and/or the superintendent.

In a recent New Haven Register piece, however, Assistant Sports Editor Bill Cloutier did just that. He not only profiled the Yale Golf Course that will host the Eastern Regional NCAA Div. I Men's Golf Tournament May 20-22, but also interviewed golf course superintendent Scott Ramsay, allowing him to enlighten readers into the efforts to restore the Seth Raynor-designed layout, including the removal of thousands of trees. (The Biarritz green of the 9th hole is pictured here.)

Here's one of Ramsay's quotes:

“Technology aside, we’re presenting a golf course that will stand the test of time. Yes, we do need a little more length but we were the shortest (NCAA) golf course in 2004 and the winner was 2-under par. All the other regionals they were in the teens under par and they were all over 7,000 yards."

The entire piece is worth a read.

For me, Yale is easily the finest golf course not just in Connecticut but in New England.

One side note: Cloutier and I worked together for a short time in the late 1990s at the Record-Journal newspaper in Meriden, Conn.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Arawana now Quinnetucket Golf Course

The Arawana Golf Course will now be known as the Quinnetucket Golf Course. (the site of the third green is pictured at left)

Quinnetucket is how some of the first Europeans who visited the area pronounced and spelled the Native American word that became Connecticut, meaning, "Long Tidal River," or "Long River."

Jennifer White-Dobbs, Director of Education at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, Conn. told me that there is no official way to spell Quinnetucket since the first dictionary in the United States did come about until the early 1800s, some 150 years after Europeans journeyed here. She has seen at least 8 spellings of the word including, Quinetucket and Quinnetuket.

While I liked Arawana because that was the name of the first golf club and then golf course in Middletown, there were some problems. The large bridge that crosses from Middletown to Portland is the, Arrigoni -- once known as the Arrawanna Brige. The (How should I put this?) very, very inexpensive hotel on Main Street was once known as the Arrawani, and as has been pointed out to me buy a number of friends, Arawana rhymes with marijuana. For me, all these factors added up to a name change and after mulling a few alternatives, I settled on Quinnetucket.

As you read this, a logo is being developed and it should make it's worldwide debut in no time.