I’m getting a ton of emails
about Island Green CC, or more
specifically, the item in
the Inquirer last Friday that
reported that the course is closing.
Here’s what I know:
A week ago, a story in the
business section of the Inquirer
Pharmaceuticals USA plans to build a new distribution facility in the Bustleton neighborhood, potentially employing 500 people.
The bad news for golfers is
that the item said the new distribution center will go on the 136 acre site
once occupied by the Budd Co.
railcar division, which since 2001 has been the site of a popular daily fee
course, Island Green CC.Inquirer review. Bausch
Collection photo gallery.
When I called Island Green CC general manager Scott Burek
to get details about the closure, he told me that it was news to him.He said he hadn’t talked to anybody from
the Inquirer, nor had he heard
anything from his bosses -- i.e. the owners -- that any sale was a done deal or
that that the course was closing.In fact, Burek
said, he was still booking outings for next season.
When I pressed Burek for
details or some kind of explanation of what is going on, he said he would have
one of the owners get back to me.That was three days ago.Since then, Burek and I have
been trading emails and phone messages about who will talk to me and when.
Truth is, I don’t know what
is going on.I don’t know if the Inquirer story is premature or flat out
wrong. Clearly, some kind of discussions or negotiations are going on behind
the scenes.I do know that in Burek’s last
email to me this afternoon, he said their position is that Island Green has not been sold.
swears that the Island Green owners
will fill me in as soon as possible.When I find out, I will pass it along.
Working with right hand man Jim Wagner, Hanse seems to get better with each new project.Meanwhile, on the business side, Hanse has kept his firm small; at a
time when most big-name architects are laying off staff or shuttering their
business altogether, Hanse is busy.
Along with Tom
Doak and the design team of Ben
Crenshaw and Bill Coore, Hanse is the object of respect
bordering on hero worship on the website GolfClubAtlas.com,
frequented by architecture enthusiasts. GCA Hanse
The reason is that Hanse is seen as not only enormously talented but as a purist and
minimalist when it comes to design.Indeed, he is all three.He also
happens to be one of the nicest guys in golf.
Hanse seems to raise the bar with
each new course.Three weeks ago, I
and several other course raters for Golfweek
were invited to play Boston Golf Club,
a Hanse and Wagner project that opened in 2005.
I expected it to be good; it is after all
ranked 36th on Golfweek’s
list of Best
Modern Courses.But I had no
idea.I was blown away.I’d put Boston Golf Club in my list of Top
10 courses I’ve ever played.
"This is what Gil can do when he gets a good piece of land," said another rater.
True, and with each new success, Hanse is going to get better and better
property and projects.
Don’t get me wrong, I have
the utmost respect for Lee Westwood.He has a beautiful, fluid golf
swing.He got to the top of golf a
few years ago, fell to nothing, then climbed out of the career abyss against
all odds.Who knows, maybe his best
golf is still ahead of him.
But for the life of me, I
cannot understand how a golfer who has ever won a single major championship
– hello, it’s the ultimate measure
of champions – can rise to the position of No. 1 in the world, unseating Tiger Woods, who,
tawdry scandal or not, has won 14 majors and more money than anybody in the
history of the game.
This, of course, is not Westwood’s fault.He is not in charge of the rankings and
he is suitably humble.
But something ain’t right.Is
the World Golf Ranking golf’s
equivalent of college football’s BCS?
I read somewhere that if rankings were done only on this yearís stats, Tiger would not be in the Top 50 in the world.
[10/31/2010 5:56:15 PM]
If the OWGR were to switch to a one year system as many have suggested,then Kaymer has more points won in 2010 than Westwood.Take a look at this:
Jack Connelly, GAPís Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
Congratulations to Huntingdon Valley CC head pro Jack Connelly and author James W. Finegan, two of the bright
lights and true characters on the local golf scene, both of whom have been honored by
Association of Philadelphia.
80,best known for his 1997 tome A Centennial Tribute to Golf in Philadelphia,
has been given GAP’s Distinguished Service Award.
Both men took a bow before a
packed room Wednesday night at GAP’s
Annual Meeting at Meadowlands CC.
I first met Jim Finegan in the fall of 1996, not
long after I began covering golf for the Philadelphia
Inquirer, when we played in the same golf outing and ended up seated next
to each other that night at the dinner. I had heard of Jim,
who had retired after a career in advertising, but I didn’t know much about
him, other than he had turned his attention to writing about golf and golf
As I learned that night, Jim is one of the most amazing
conversationalists you’ll ever meet.He is full of tales and he enjoys nothing more than regaling an audience
of one or a full banquet hall, with story after story, in his inimitable style.
It was that same night that Jim told me about a book he had spent
the previous five years researching and writing -- the aforementioned history
of the first 100 years of golf in Philadelphia.Five years?I get bored working on a story that takes more than a week.I wondered how anybody could spend
five years working on a book?
When A Centennial Tribute to Golf in Philadelphia was published the next
year, it was a 500-page beast that I could barely lift.The more I read and the deeper I dug
into the book, the more I became amazed that Finegan was able to produce it in only five years.
Ever since then, A Centennial Tribute has remained
perhaps the single most invaluable resource I’ve had writing about golf in
Philadelphia.It is never far from
my reach and only rarely does it fail to include a chapter or a passage telling
me exactly what I need to know.On
those few occasions when it doesn’t, I pick up the phone and call Jim, whereupon he proceeds to recall in
detail precisely what I’m looking for.
While Jim regards A Centennial
Tribute as his most important book, it is hardly his only one.He wrote a history of Pine ValleyGC, where he is a longtime member, he wrote separate
books on golf in Scotland and Ireland, where he has spent much time.And then there is his most recent
effort, a coffee table behemoth called Where
Golf is Great: The Finest Courses of Scotland and Ireland.
If there is anything more
fun than listening to Jim’s stories
over lunch, it is playinga round
of golf with him.He moves
slower these days, thanks to chronic pain in his legs, but when he steps up to
the ball it is not hard to appreciate that you are watching a four-time club
champion at Philadelphia CC.
a quick, whippy swing, and he complains constantly that he can’t hit the ball
out of his shadow any more, but he hits it dead straight again and again.On the green, Jim’s "circle of friendship" is as large as his circle of friends
in life, which is to say he will rake in a 4- or 5-footer rather than have to
bend over to pick it up out of the cup.
is a treasure.
As for Jack Connelly, all you need to know is that the man has survived 37
years at one country club – 35 as head pro.
For anybody who knows
anything about the life of a club pro – they are subject to being fired
on a whim -- it speaks volumes about Jack’s
work ethic, his smarts, above all, his masterful skills as a politician.What makes Jack’s longevity at Huntingdon
Valley all the more impressive is that the man is, at heart, a full-fledged
smart-aleck and wisenheimer.
Two stories, both of which
he told Wednesday night:
In 1975, when Jack had been at Huntingdon Valley two years as an assistant, the club informed him
that they were going make a change at the head pro job.Would he be interested in applying?
Jack thought about it and
said, "No, I don’t think I would."After two years, he told the club, he had either proved himself or he
hadn’t.They gave him the job.
Not long into his tenure as
head pro, Jack looked out on the
golf course and spotted a fivesome making its way up the fairway.Among Huntingdon Valley’s most rigid, unbreakable rules, championed by the
club’s Golf Chairman, O. Gordon Brewer,was "No Fivesomes,"
Immediately, Jack hopped in a golf cart and went off
in pursuit of the offending fivesome.When he pulled up to the group, who should among the fivesome but Golf
Chairman O. Gordon Brewer himself.
Undeterred, Jack pulled out a pad and pencil, and
said to Brewer and the others, "Can
you gentlemen give me your names so I can report them to my Golf Chairman."
For the rest of that day and
the next, Jack sat in his office
waiting to be fired.He never was.To this day, Brewer, who was sitting front and center Wednesday night, remains
one of his best friends.
Over the years, Jack got involved in the politics and
administration of golf.He started
small, after he was unhappy with the way the Philadelphia
PGA Section was running its
tournaments and he began to complain.To shut him, the Section put
him on the tournament committee.By 1983, Jack was the
president of the Section.
That led to his interest in
national office with the PGA of America, the 28,000-strong association of club pros.Jack climbed
through those ranks as well, culminating with a two-year term as president, beginning
At the end of this year, Jack will retire as head pro at Huntingdon Valley, transitioning into a
new role at the club described as "ambassador.""Basically, I’ll be running the outings," he says, laughing,
like he’ll be stealing money.
be blunt.If you don’t want an
honest answer, don’t ask him the question. But he is also a friendly, funny
guy, a fact I had forgotten until Wednesday night, when he gave an acceptance
speech that ran the gamut from tears to giggles.
and Jack Connelly are both special
people.Congrats to both of them.
I got one of those calls
yesterday that nobody wants to get – a friend had died.
wasn’t just my friend, he was a friend to about a gazillion people and a friend
to golf.A versatile long time
sports and golf writer for the Chicago
Tribune, he retired a couple of years ago.(Tribune obituary). Reid was not only
passionate about the game, he was quite the stick himself, sporting a
How unfair that Reid, a non-smoker, was taken by lung
I got to know Reid from the tournament circuit.He’d show up at the odd major, or any
tournament anywhere near Chicago.Reid wasn’t assigned to cover the Masters, but every year he and a Chicago
pal would come down for a couple of days to attend the annual awards banquet
for the Golf Writers Association of
America and hang around Augusta
National for a couple of days.During those trips, he’d dive on a couch in the house I shared with
three other writers for the week.
I don’t think I ever saw Reid frown.He was one of those guys who was always smiling when he
walked into a room. By the time he
left, everybody else was smiling, too.
I am delighted to report
that we are adding a terrific new feature and invaluable resource to MyPhillyGolf– The Bausch Collection.
That’s the name I
half-jokingly suggested for what is a remarkable collection of photo galleries
of golf courses in the region.Haven’t played a course but want to get a sense of what it looks
like?Check out The
The first few galleries have
already been uploaded to MyPhillyGolf.To
see them, on the home page, go to the upper right-hand corner of the menu bar and
click on the drop-down under "Photos."
Then click on the galleries
themselves, and each individual photo for an expanded version.
What you see is only the
beginning.In the coming weeks, we
will add photo galleries for another 50-60 courses in the region.To my knowledge, it will be the
most comprehensive assemblage of Philadelphia-area course photos anywhere.
The Bausch Collection is named for Joe
Bausch, a Villanova chemistry
professor with a passion for golf course architecture.As he plays courses, Joe snaps photos along the way, from
every conceivable angle.From the
quality of the images, I assumed Joe
was working with some sophisticated single lens reflex camera with a top-dollar
lens.Not so.He get these results with a small, high-end
MyPhillyGolf came by the photos because I happened to be playing a recent round of
golf with Joe at the GC at Glen
Mills (gallery coming soon) when he
mentioned that the growing collection of galleries was beginning to tax the
limits of his 10-year-old Mac and
wondered if we’d like to host them.
I had to think about it for
a full half-second before I said, "You bet we would."
The Bausch Collection has been a work in progress for quite some time, as Joe points and shoots his way through
the regional golf landscape.If
you know of a course that deserves to join the collection, let me know and I
will suggest it to Joe.
In the meantime, keep an eye
out as we add more and more course galleries -- and tell all your golf friends
about The Bausch Collection.
Congratulations on having your photo collections even more readily available! Great stuff Joe!
[10/20/2010 5:18:32 AM]
Joe Bausch is a really great photographer. Iíve spent days at my club taking pictures, but Joeís beats mine. Plus, he takes the photos while heís playing!
[10/1/2010 4:27:04 PM]
Wow, I just noticed yesterday (9-29)that there was a golf course photo section. Since Iíve been considering playing Inniscrone and Glen Mills it was great to be able to get a tour of the courses. I had a chance to play Blue Bell CC but saw that each hole had homes on either side of the fairways and i do spray my tee shots sometimes so I passed on the opportunity. Looking at the photos I remember why. Thanks. A good feature for the site might be photos of different courses people have played.
[10/1/2010 9:48:35 AM]
Joeís photographic sense and collection are first rate! Great addition, great "Name", too.
[10/1/2010 5:05:16 AM]
Wow. I just checked out a couple of the galleries. Great stuff.
[10/1/2010 1:56:56 AM]
The further impressive thing about The Bausch Collection is that while he is snapping photos, he is still playing faster than most golfers.
There was a time not too
many years ago when new golf courses were sprouting up all over the region,
public and private.
I can recall writing round-up
stories in the Philadelphia Inquirer
about the half-dozen or so courses that would be in various stages of planning,
construction or their first year of operation.
How many courses have opened
That course is Applecross CC in Downingtown, sister
course to Talamore CC in
Ambler, which the owners, the Talamore Group,
are promoting as a 2-for-1 membership.
"If there is a better deal in
town, I’d like to know what it is," said Jon
Hazelwood, general manager of both clubs.
Given the laws of supply and
which opened July 1, could be it the last new course in the area for a while.
even further, bluntly predicting, "Applecross will probably be the last new golf course built
in the state of Pennsylvania.There is no reason for there to be another one, unless the game of golf
Good point.Rather than grand openings, the talk in
most grill rooms these days are rumors about what courses and clubs are barely
hanging on or facing mergers or outright closure.
Why, then, did the Talamore Group, open Applecross?
Because he thought he could make
a go of it even in the down golf economy.
"The courses complement one
another – the courses and the distance between them," said Hazelwood."Applecross
was a great product to add to the products we already had. But to think it’s
not going to be a grind is very naive."
In 2005, when Applecross CC was first envisioned as the
centerpiece of an upscale residential development by the Pulte Group, the Talamore Group
wanted to develop the country club component.It lost out to ClubCorp,
at the time a big privately-held Dallas-based club management company.In 2006, ClubCorp sold off everything except the Pinehurst
Resort to private-held equity firm, KSL Capital Parnters.
"Well, apparently Applecross wasn’t
a good fit for KSL," said Hazelwood. In 2009, the Talamore Group
was back in the picture.
Any regrets, considering the
"No," said Hazelwood."Once we got involved, it was full steam ahead.If you’re not going to go full steam
ahead, then don’t get involved."
So far, said Hazelwood, the toughest part of
is getting potential members to appreciate and understand the 2-for-1
membership – 4-for-1, if you include two more sister courses in
Pinehurst, Talamore Resort
and the Mid South Club.
"The concept of multi-club memberships
is very new to this area," said Hazelwood."You have Philly Cricket with two
courses, but I don’t know of anybody else who has two different facilities."
A Tier 1 full golf
membership is a $12,500 refundable deposit with various incentive plans; annual
dues are $2,995.Like most clubs
in the area, those numbers are down from years past ($4,200 in 2009, $5,200 in
So far, Applecross has about 115 full
golf members and another 200 or so social members.Talamore
has 300 golf members. The goal is
for each to have 350 full golf members.
"We’re getting there," said Hazelwood."We’re continuing to grow, weathering the storm.I can tell you that in the times we are
in, it could be worse."