Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Punch Shots: Which Am Tour major makes the best golf vacation centerpiece?

Am Tour Major Championships

Left: Ivan Marin shows off his winning crystal from the Puerto Rico Open's Sr. Jones division. Right: Bayonet/Blackhorse hosts the Northern California Championship May 19-20. 

What makes the perfect golf vacation? For some, it's the chance for competition on a world class golf course. 

With major championship season under way on the Golf Channel Am Tour, we asked veteran travel writers Jason Deegan and Mike Bailey which major venue they'd most make the centerpiece of their golf vacation.

Jason Deegan: Kohler, Wisconsin
It’s hard to turn down playing on U.S. Open venues (Chambers Bay and Pinehurst No. 2) and PGA Tour stops (the TPC of Sawgrass, Disney and PGA National), but if I were forced to pick one Am Tour major, I’d tee it up at Blackwolf Run for the Midwest Classic May 19-20. It offers arguably the best combination of tracks on the circuit, although fans of Pinehurst and Troon North could certainly argue their sites are just as good or better.

The Meadow Valleys and River courses at Blackwolf Run are championship tests one hour north of Milwaukee in sleepy Kohler, Wis. Nine holes on each course were recently renovated to create a composite layout that will host the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. Golf Digest ranks both courses among the "Top 100 Public Courses in America" (River No. 15, Meadows Valley No. 60). The setting of the River course might look pretty, but the meandering river creates a dangerous place for golf. More elevation changes characterize Meadow Valleys.

Looking for more? There’s a PGA Championship and future Ryder Cup course right down the road in Haven. Just don’t ground your club in any of the thousand or so bunkers on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits.

The five-star digs at the old-world American Club are gorgeous, but too pricey for many. Stay at the resort’s Inn on Woodlake to save a few bucks. It isn’t warm enough in May to truly enjoy the beaches of Lake Michigan. However, it should be just fine for golf. Kohler is the kind of place where players could bring some buddies, the wife or even the entire family. It’s a relatively affordable destination (away from the resort) and packed with great golf. Not everybody will secure victory against these two tough Pete Dye courses, but at least those who play in the event will head home feeling like a winner.  

Mike Bailey: Black Horse at Bayonet in Monterey 
When asked what my favorite golf destination is, more often than not, I point to one region: the Monterey Bay area. It is, of course, where you'll find Pebble Beach, but the location is special for so much more than that, including the site of the Golf Channel Am Tour's Northern California Championship at Bayonet/Black Horse Golf Club in Seaside on May 19-20th.

The tournament will be conducted on the Black Horse Course, considered the easier of the two layouts, but by no means a pushover at more than 7,300 yards. Like its sister course, which has hosted U.S. Open qualifiers as of late, Black Horse was covered by a 2008 $13 million renovation led by architect Gene Bates. This wasn't just a restoration; this was a complete makeover, better than the original. Despite the great history of this 36-hole complex that was once part of the old Fort Ord military base, these two courses have never looked better, especially Blackhorse. What you have now is a beautiful all-bentgrass championship layout with cool fingerling bunkers, wonderfully complicated greens complexes and views of the Pacific that most golfers didn't even know existed before.

As a golf destination, though, the Monterey area is unparalleled. The event takes place in May, and for some of us in the South, it's already unbearably hot, so the sweater weather temperatures of Northern California are already welcome. Add to that the rest of the courses in the Monterey collection: I am particular fond of century-old Del Monte and even some inland gems such as Carmel Valley Ranch, Quail Lodge and Rancho Canada, and you could spend a terrific week of playing golf. And don't forget nearby Pacific Grove, the back nine of which runs along the ocean and shares the same designer as Pebble Beach.

You can also chalk up the charming ambience of Monterey Bay with its cafes, boutique hotels, Cannery Row, Old Fisherman's Wharf and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. There's nothing more beautiful or relaxing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

2012 Puerto Rico Championship Crowns 10 first time Major Champions

Coco Beach, PR—Golf Channel Amateur Tour’s 2nd annual Puerto Rico Championship concluded on Sunday morning.  Sunny skies, no wind, and soft greens proved amicable to good scoring.  Tour Players across all flights were able to take advantage and go low in the final round, with the top three finishers and ties, per flight, securing their spot in the 2012 National Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Ten out of the eleven winners were first time major winners. 

Pedro Feurtes of Carolina, Puerto Rico used a birdie, par finish on Sunday to shoot a low round of the tournament 74.  He overcame a two shot deficit coming into the final round to get into a playoff with Victor Cabreara of Bayamon, Puerto Rico.  In the playoff Pedro won the first playoff hole with a par to become the Puerto Rico Champion at 9-over par 153. 

In the Palmer Flight Troy Rogers of Louisville, Kentucky overcame first round leader Eduardo Vizcarrondo of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico to win by four shots over 2nd place finisher Daniel D’Loughy of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  Rogers won the flight at 18-over par 162

In the Hogan Flight, Chris Cagnolatti from Long Beach, California won in a playoff over local favorite Juan Zalduondo of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.  Robert Simpkiss from Palmer, Massachusetts was the first round leader with a 78 but he could not hold onto the lead as Cagnolatti and Zalduando each surged past him as they each made two birdies on the back nine to pass the first round leader.

Randy Throgmorton of Carbondale, Illinois overcame a tough Sarazen Flight to win his first Sarazen Major Championship trophy.  Sebastian Renta of Caguas, Puerto Rico could not hold onto his overnight lead as seven Sarazen players shot in the 80’s to try to win the coveted title in the Sarazen Flight.  Jose De Armas of Miami, Florida made up 17 shots from his previous round as he shot a low final round of 82.

The Jones Flight saw some great scoring on Sunday.  Frank Rohrschneider of Renton Washington shot an 84 to hold off Scotty Wade of Lithia Springs, Georgia.  Wade fired the low round of the day in the flight, an 80, but it was still not enough to catch Rohrschneider who claimed the flight by a narrow stroke. 

In the Snead Flight Lathan Lewis Atkinson of Tampa, Florida opened up the tournament with an 85 that included an eagle to be the first round leader but could not keep the momentum as William Dawsey of Tampa, Florida came from behind as he matched the low round with an 85 of his own to win the Snead Flight at 33-over par. 

In the Senior Palmer Flight, Bob Tartaglia of Wallingford Conneticut was a wire to wire winner as he held off last year’s champion Peter Sorrentino from Pampano Beach, Florida by two shots.  Tartaglia opened up with a great round of 74 on the first day to take a two shot advantage that he was able to hold onto to win his first two day Major Championship.

In the Senior Hogan Flight a first time major champion was also crowned as Jerry Edwards from Louisville, Kentucky played consistently for two days to win by three shots over Don Jongewaard of New Berlin, Wisconsin and four shots over Ross VanDooser of Knightdale, North Carolina. 

In the Senior Sarazen Flight Jim Stone of Palm Harbor, Florida overcame a four shot deficit to win his first major championship by beating Bruce Legrand of Houston, Texas by three shots and Stewart Campbell of Dennisville, New Jersey by four shots.

In the Senior Jones flight, Ivan Marin of Miami, Florida shot two consistent rounds of 85 to win by six shots over new member Steve Bostic of Atlanta, Georgia and seven shots over Roberto Goas of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In the Senior Snead flight, Ken Gold of Franklin Park, New Jersey won by two shots over first round leader Tommy O’Harte of Tequesta, Florida to win his first two day major championship.

A special Thank you goes out to all the players of the Puerto Rico Championship as they raised $1300 for the Troops First Foundation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Local Spotlight: Cool in Kerrville - Kerrville Championship Recap

Scott R Chilcutt, Kerrville, TX (February 11, 2012)  Perched high on a mountain top just south of the upper Guadalupe River the clubhouse at The Club At Comanche Trace greeted players to carts for the decent down a few hundred feet to the registration and practice facilities.

Rains on Friday morning with overcast skies gave way to a cold front that moved through the Hill Country that cleared the skies Saturday morning but made for chilly conditions.

Labor Finders, an industrial labor staffing company, extended their Oklahoma Tour sponsorship to The Hill Country and Dallas tours to present the Tournament Champion Trophy.   Xavier Bardy from San Antonio barely missed out on the award by a scorecard playoff during the Winter Classic - Hill Country in December made the best of this day, taking the trophy by 3 strokes over Carlos Cruz.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Duel in the Desert 2012 Pictures

View all of the 2012 Duel in the Desert Pictures HERE

Duel in the Desert Crowns 8 Team Champions

Las Vegas, NV – The Golf Channel Amateur Tour held the 9th annual Duel in the Desert golf tournament for the first time in Las Vegas, NV.  2-person teams competed on the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort’s three courses (Wolf, Sun Mountain, Snow Mountain) with three different formats of 2-person scramble, best-ball, and modified alternate shot. 

The two-person team of Melvin Barnes and Pete DeTemple roared back in the final round by firing an unbelievable round of 7-under par 75 in the modified alternate shot.  Barnes & DeTemple won by a single shot at 8-under par 208.  Richard Hunt and Paul Jansak led after rounds 1 & 2, and finished up in second place at 7-under par 207.  Cory Gladstone and Joseph Omahen fired the low round on day 2 and wrapped up third place at 3-under par 213. 

In Flight 2 the team of Ron Finnerty and Mark Miller were the only team standing under par at the end of 54-holes to win the flight.  Finnerty and Miller were crowned Flight 2 Champions at 5-under par 211.  Wendall Sheffield and John Taylor fired the low final round in the flight, a 3-under par 69, to grab up 2nd place at even-par 216.  John Crane and Steve Senecal found themselves just a stroke out of 2nd after 54-holes, finishing up in 3rd place at 1-over par 217. 

In Flight 3 Stephan Ballentine and Jon Mojica rode their opening round of 5-under par 67 in the scramble format to the crown, winning wire-to-wire.  Mojica and Ballentine were the only team in the flight to finish under par, winning at 1-under par 215.  The team of Kenneth Griffith and Kevin Macgillivray wrapped up 2nd place at 5-over par 221.  Clint Ball and Darrell Carpenter Jr grabbed 3rd place at 10-over par 226. 

In Flight 4 Clint Jones and Keith Kamimoto led wire-to-wire and won by a full six strokes, finishing up at 3-over par 219.  The team of Gord Salyn and Larry Schlichenmayer shot three straight rounds at 75 to finish up in 2nd place at 9-over par 225.  Robert Kirby and Kendall Utley fired the low final round of 73 to move up to third place in Flight 4 at 12-over par 228. 

The team of Jeremy and Jerry Henson also won wire-to-wire in Flight 5.  The Hensons won the flight by 10 strokes at 11-over par 227.  Ronald Gilchrist and Bob Kirkbright were right there on the final day but faltered a bit with an 84.  They were still able to hang onto 2nd place at 21-over par 237.  Dave Chelf and Arthur Patterson made an eagle 2 (on a par 4 no less) in the final round to vault into third place at 24-over par 240. 

Flight 6 saw some very close competition and a great final round for the flight champions.  David Arnold and Peter Brohn wrapped up the title at 14-over par 230.  Olan Benge and Larry Viktorin had a 1-shot lead heading into the final round but could not keep up with Arnold and Brohn and their outstanding final round.  Benge and Viktorin still had a nice 2nd place finish at 20-over par 236.  Robby Ball and Darrell Carpenter finished in 3rd place in their flight, joining their sons who had the same finish in Flight 3!

Flight 7 saw the closest competition coming down the stretch in the final round, with three teams separated by only three strokes.  In the end Steve Griffin and Randy Tubbs made the key putts down the stretch to claim the flight by just a single stroke.  Griffin and Tubbs won Flight 7 at 28-over par 244.  Simon Tao and Keith Wilson finished up in 2nd place at 29-over par 245.  Robert (Robbie) Burkhart and Joseph Lallier wrapped up third place at 31-over par 247. 

Flight 8 saw a runaway, with Matt McDevitt and Mark Sasser winning by 14 shots.  McDevitt and Sasser won wire-to-wire at 20-over par 236.  The competition for second place was an exciting one, with the team of Gary Balavitch and Bryan Mathis taking home runner-up honors at 34-over par 250.  Donald Bouge and Daniel Carroll rounded out the top three at 37-over par 253. 

Thank you to the 288 competitors that teed it up in the 9th annual Duel in the Desert!