That’s the question I’ve gotten in a handful of
emails, ever since it became clear that this year’s venue for the Open, Pine Valley, was going to attract more
than the usual number of golfers trying to make it into the field of 72.
Most years, GAP conducts two or three qualifiers for the Open. This year,
because of the allure and mystic of Pine Valley, GAP increased it to four.
Just over 600 club pros and elite amateurs competed
to try to claim one of the 41 spots up for grabs in the four qualifiers (31
players were exempted into the field).According to GAP’s website,
club pros paid an entry fee of $185, amateurs paid $135, for an average of $160
per player, multiplied by 600 .Ballpark total: $96,000.
On Friday, I put the question to Mark Peterson, executive director of GAP: Is it the financial windfall it appears
to be?Where is the money going?
"There will be a little bit of overflow, but
not at the level people think doing the calculations in their heads," said
Fact is, said Peterson, on virtually all other years, GAP loses money on the Open.Even with this year’s bump from Pine Valley, if you cost-average over
the past five years, GAP still loses
money on the Open.
"Year in and year out, we lose money on this
event," said Peterson."We are going to break even this
year and potentially make a little profit, but not at the level you presume."
The reason, he said, is the cost of putting on
the Open, includingthe expense of spectator control
(1,500 are expected) recruiting and feeding lunch to 150 volunteers who will
work the event, plus coordinating emergency services with the township.
This year, GAP
used some of the revenue from the qualifiers to increase the purse from $35,000
to $50,000.(First place is
$10,000, second is $6,500, third is $4,500).
At most GAP
events, 100 spectators or less is the norm.For the Open, they have sold 1,506 tickets (proceeds to the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust).
"When you conduct an event at Pine Valley, there are logistical
things that don’t exits for a regional golf association," said Peterson."It is exponentially more
GAP does a wonderful job running their events. First class all the way. My understanding is that participation is at a high. kudos to all involved.
Not sure about the GAP Open, but it would be nice to see GAP lower the cost to enter their tournaments. If the role of GAP is to promote the game of golf, they would be well served to lower the cost of entry. $135 + cart/ caddie for a qualifier is steep. And if qualifed, the cost continues on for each day of the event. How many potential players do not participate due to the high cost?? $135 + + + is steep for a young player (or even an employed adult). Multiplied by how many events?? Lowering costs would truly be promoting the game and GAP should take a serious look at the hurdles they create to participation due to elevated cost of entry & playing.
GAP is a first class organization, but their costs just may be restricting access for a good number of players who desire to participate. It should be looked at for future years.
Hardly week passes that a
course in the area doesn’t send me an email about a golfer who made a
hole-in-one at their facility.But
this one, from Donna Horvath at Honeybrook GC,
stood out from most.
All three family members of
the Wren family, from Morgantown, have
aced a hole at Honeybrook.
Mom Mary Wren is the latest.Who’s next, the family dog?
Thanks to Donna for the following note on the Wrens:
One Family; Three Hole-in-ones
Honeybrook, PA –In order
to spend time together, many families share the same hobbies and interests. For
three members of the Wren family from Morgantown it’s more than just a hobby.
Thirteen-year-old RJ, his mother Mary and father Russ are all skilled golfers.
Once or twice a week they golf together to bond and improve their game. And
now, the Wren’s have achieved something never before done at their home course,
Honeybrook Golf Club. Each family member got a
In March of 2010, RJ Wren was the first member of his family to score an ace.
While out golfing with his father Russ and two friends, RJ drove his ball onto
hole 17’s green with a 5-wood and watched it roll right into the hole. He was
only ten years old.
A year later in May 2011, his father Russ followed it up with the whole family
there to witness. On a difficult par 3, with environmental hazards and
sand traps surrounding the green, Russ
hit his 6-iron the perfect distance and received the family’s second
The Wren’s weren’t satisfied yet. On June 15, 2012 it was Mary’s turn. On the
exact same hole her husband completed in a single shot, Mary finished the
family legacy with a 7-iron to receive her first hole-in-one ever (and the
While RJ’s parents have mostly picked up golf for fun, RJ hopes to someday play
college golf. He began golfing when he was 7 and has since won over 30
tournaments. He was two-time Philadelphia Jr. Player of the Year and was GAP
(Golf Association of Philadephia) Boys’ Jr.-Jr.
winner in 2011. This spring RJ qualified for the 2012 Kid’s World Championship
Tournament at Pinehurst, NC. While RJ continues to improve his game and lower
his 3-handicap, his contribution to the Wren’s three hole-in-ones won’t be the
last history he makes.
After that win at the AT&T
National, I’m officially giving up trying to figure out what to make of Tiger Woods and whether he is back or
not, or whether he will break Jack
Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.
I now peek at his career
through my fingers, like it was a scary movie – everything is fine until
suddenly somebody jumps out from behind a door and whacks you with an ax.
I’d much rather spend a time
trying to figure out what the heck suddenly came over Joe Daley winning the Ford
Senior Players Championship. Joe, from Plymouth-Whitemarsh,
has been a bridesmaid but never a bride for his entire pro career.The guy has banged around the various
tours for years, never complaining, just moving on to the next tournament,
wherever he could get in the field.A great guy who never quite got it done – and nobody could ever
understand why, most of all him.
Even yesterday, as he
marched up the 72nd fairway with a stroke lead the victory his to
blow, I squirmed in my chair, fingers crossed that something wouldn’t go
It has happened before, you
know.Remember a few years ago when
Joe got that horrible break at PGA Tour Q-School?He was about to finally earn his card,
when a short putt hit the back of the cup and popped out.Jaws dropped.No card.Never seen anything like it, before or
since.At the time, I remember
thinking, "That could only happen to Joe
Now the guy’s won a major on
the Champions Tour.You won’t find a more deserving guy.
a little video a nice column on Daley by
Larry Dorman of the PGA Tour.
Did he really get pretty
much every sports fan in the world psyched up over the possibility of watching
him work his magic of old at the U.S. Open, only to fizzle on the weekend
without so much as a whimper.I
mean, watching him shoot 75-73 on Saturday and Sunday to become a non-factor,
was embarrassing to watch.Imagine
what it must have been like for him.
In the old days, after
failing to mount any kind of final-round change in the major, Tiger would have
been seething, furious at himself.But yesterday, in his post-round interview, it was as if the fight had
gone out of him.Tiger shrugged off
mediocrity and defeat like he didn’t have a care in the world.
I hate to think this is the
new Tiger.I hate to think he can
live with himself as a guy who slides down the leaderboard on Sunday.I hate to think Tiger no longer has what
COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho -- Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had heard of
the golf course with the floating green – not the island green, like the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, but the floatinggreen.But I had no idea it was in Northern
Idaho, of all places, and I didn’t know it was at an upscale resort on a giant
d’Alene Resort and Hotel.
Now I know, and now I have
played (bogeyed) the famous "floating green" at Coeur
d’Alene Resort Golf Course, where a boat actually ferries you from tee to
green, which on the recent day I was there was playing 175 yards (185 into the
To make the trip even more
worthwhile, they threw in a round at the aforementioned Coeur
d’Alene GC, plus a third round at another
course about 90 minutes north, The Idaho Club Lake & Golf Retreat, a swanky affair with pricey mountaintop homes overlooking a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.When we weren’t on the golf course, we
were treated to a couple of sumptuous dinners – the kind where the chef
comes out and explains each course – and a deep-tissue massage at the
There were seven of us
writer types on the trip, mostly from the Western U.S. (San Diego, L.A.,
Portland) and western Canada (Calgary), because all three properties we visited
pull most of their business from the West and Canada.One writer in the group was from
Michigan.I was the token East
Coaster.Northern Idaho is hardly a
destination for gamblers or golfers from Philadelphia but they extended the
invitation and, hey, I’d never been to Idaho.
Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel
Back home in the heavily
populated East, we might be inclined to describe the Coeur d’Alene
Casino Resort Hotel as being out in
the middle of nowhere.Technically,
it is out in the middle of nowhere,
just off the cloverleaf near U.S. Route 95, which is not to be confused with
Here, they think of their casino/hotel
as being a beacon of entertainment, gambling and quality golf free from the congestion
and traffic gnarls of, say, Center City Philadelphia. All I know is that your to get here, you
fly into Spokane, WA., then hop a shuttle bus for the 40-minute ride to Worley,
in the Idaho panhandle.
Naturally, I wondered why they
call it Coeur d’Alene Casino Hotel if
it’s in Worley, 27 miles from the town of Coeur
d’Alene?That’s because just
about everything is called Coeur d’Alene,
after the Indian tribe of the same name.The land, the casino hotel and golf
course are owned and operated lock, stock and barrel by the tribe. Not so for the town of Coeur d’Alene nor
the similarly-named resort hotel.
My fellow writers and I were
in new part of the hotel, where suites are equipped with two big-screen TVs and
floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a sort of botanical garden and preserve.They told me that if I look out the
windows long enough, I might eventually spot a moose or two.I never did, although a moose did wander
by one of our foursomes on the golf course.
I’m not a much of gambler so
the casino downstairs was wasted on me.I walked it several times on the
way to a restaurant and the gift shop, however, and I couldn’t help but notice
it had one of the best ventilation systems I’ve come across in any casino
anywhere.The cigarette smoke
wasn’t that bad.
Circling Raven GC
A two-minute walk from my
hotel room was Coeur d’Alene Casino Hotel’s golf course, Circling Raven.I played it Monday afternoon, half-pooped
from the long flight, and again Tuesday morning, when I was much fresher.
Designed in 2003 by GeneBates, design partner of Fred Couples,Circling Raven is spread out
over a vast expanse of 620 acres.It’s a terrific resort course, with generous, forgiving fairways, big
easy-going greens and vistas of the Idaho countryside and mountains beyond.There’s very little water to worry
about and no beastly forced carries, assuming you play from the proper tees; in
two rounds I lost only one ball, when I plunked a tee shot into an
environmentally protected area.
I’d never been to Idaho
before, but I imaged it would be full of rugged terrain, ski resorts, and craggy
rock formations set against rich blue skies.What I did not envision was a ritzy
high-rise resort and spa on a 25-mile long lake with a marina like you see at
the Jersey Shore.Nor did I expect
to find a $200-plus-a-round golf course that hugs the coastline of the lake,
which is so deep the U.S. Navy supposedly uses it for submarine training and
As pricey as it is, Coeur
d’Alene Resort and Hotel attracts precisely
the kind of affluent clientele you’d expect.The golf course turned out to be not
only much better than I expected, it was as immaculately groomed and conditioned as
any course I can recall playing in years.It’s one of those courses where you are required to take a cart and a
forecaddie. (The forecaddies wear
those white Augusta National-like jump suits and dash around from ball to ball,
with a laser gun.By the time you
get to your ball, your forecaddie has all the pertinent info: yardage, pin placement
and recommendations about where to miss and where not to.
I must also say that in 50
years of playing golf, it was the first time I encountered custom-built carts,
with tilted steering wheels, carpeted floors, tee dispensers, built-in trash
cans and a hood that opened to reveal an ice chest and a place to store sandwiches
It’s a cool hole, obviously,
if slightly gimmicky.If you ask
me, even without the 14th, it’s a memorable round of golf.
The Idaho Club Lake and Golf Retreat
On our last full day, they
piled us back into the shuttle bus for the 90-minute ride northto the town of Sandpoint for a taste of
Idaho that fulfilled every expectation I had.If Coeur d’Alene
Casino and Hotel is a getaway for
casino day trippers, weekenders and "buddy" golf trips, and Coeur d’Alene
Resort and Hotel is a vacation spot
for couples and families with a few more bucks to blow, The Idaho
Club Lake & Golf Retreat is the
private playground for the moneyed class – at least that was the original
It was clear from the moment
the guard waved our bus through the gate, The
Idaho Club was built to be a second club and getaway for people accustomed
to living on Easy Street.Photo gallery.
It’s got a first-class,
rough-hewn Jack Nicklaus Signature
Course that wends its way through the trees and streams, overlooked by
multi-million dollar dotting the hillsides.In the promotional brochure, The Idaho Club notes that the New York Times described Sandpoint as
"Old West Atmosphere in a Sporting Paradise" and Rand McNally named it the "most beautiful small town in America."
All has not gone well for The Idaho Club.Not long after they threw open the
doors, the economy tanked, the housing market bottomed out and the golf boom fizzled.Lawsuits flew, lenders foreclosed, then,
if that wasn’t enough, the magnificent log cabin clubhouse burned to the ground.
Still, The Idaho Club limps on, with a steely resolve and sunny outlook,
if only about 75 members.The people who own it and run it couldn’t be nicer.They are convinced that times will get
better and that The Idaho Club will
live out its potential.I wish them
If anyone is interested in starting a debate
about what is the most-overlooked, under-appreciated course in the area, I
hereby nominate White Manor CC.
I played there last week with a group of 25 or
30 course raters from Golfweek
magazine and, so far as I could tell, every one of us came away highly
impressed – a couple even mentioned being blown away. (Bausch Collection Photo Gallery)
I know that Bradley
Klein, the architecture editor for Golfweek, was
more than pleasantly surprised.And
after the round, over beers and conversation, I talked to raters in town from
Chicago, upstate New York, Maryland and North Jersey who all wanted to know why
White Manor, in Malvern, doesn’t get
more talk and more respect on the Philadelphia golf scene?
I didn’t have a good answer, except to say it’s
a tough league around here.
It’s not like I’m a stranger to White Manor; I’ve played 10 o 12 rounds
there in the past 10 years.I
walked it but didn’t play it in the late 1990s, before the club brought in
architect Bobby Weed (GC at Glen Mills) in 2002 to do a complete overhaul.Boy, did he ever.
With the club’s approval, Weed took out hundreds of trees, transforming White Manor’s original early 1960s layout from tight, tree-lined
corridors to a course with wide-open vistas.Weed
also shifted several green complexes, repositioned and rebuilt bunkers, and
reimagined shot angles across the course.
In those days, White Manor one of a handful of predominantly Jewish country clubs
in the area, along with Meadowlands,
Green Valley, Radnor Valley and Philmont.Not
all the members at White Manor
bought into the idea of the renovation, let alone the cost, and the club
suffered an exodus of about 80 members.There were concerns about the club’s future.
In 2003, when they unveiled the new-look course
to much fanfare in the local media, I was fortunate enough to play the round with
Weed, who painstakingly explained
every change he made on every hole.I remember liking the course, but nothing like I do now.At the time, I didn’t have a full
appreciation of the dramatic changes Weed
and the club had pulled off.Plus,
it somehow felt too new in a city where the golf scene is largely defined and
dominated by classic-era gems.
In the years since the renovation, White Manor has recouped many of the
lost members; the club has also developed enormous pride in its course, with
good reason.No conversation with a
White Manor member goes on too long
before they ask: (a) What do you think of the course? (b) Why doesn’t it get
the love we think it deserves?
Perhaps because of the love denied, White Manor members are constantly on
the lookout for a tournament, a qualifier, an event --anything that will get the course better
known on the local and national stage.
Until my round last week, I thought they were
largely kidding themselves.Yes, White Manor is now first-rate, but even
among modern courses, a couple of locals stood taller in my mind: Philadelphia Cricket’s Militia Hill
course and The ACE Club.
Now, I’ve come to believe that White Manor gives nary an inch to
either Militia Hill or ACE.It has matured and evolved oh-so-nicely
in nine years, and superintendent Donald
Brown had the course groomed to perfection last week.
As much as the course has changed in nine
years, so has the membership – it’s now 60 percent non-Jewish.The golf chairman is a proud Irishman.
Manor has a shot to crack Golfweek’s list of Top 100 Modern Courses, I
don’t know.But I can say
with certainty that it’s no longer a wallflower on the Philadelphia golf scene.
Thanks Joe for your kind words regarding our fantastic course! The Proud Irishman / WMCC
[5/24/2012 5:15:16 AM]
Thanks for the piece on White Manor Joe. A terrific golf course and the Weed renovation work is indistinguishable from what pre-dates it. Glad that the rater group was impressed. I have only played it once thanks to a mutual friend and canít wait to get back.