Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

The Traveling Golfer

With host Tony Leodora will travel both near and far to bring viewers a look at some of the most spectacular golf destinations in the world!

29 Nov
2017

Benvenuto at LPGA Qualifying

Written by Bob Oliver

 

This story describes Langhorne's Brittany Benvenuto and her quest for an LPGA Tour card playing in the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.

Nobody ever said five consecutive rounds of golf would be a vacation, and certainly not if it was under tournament conditions at the grueling LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in Daytona Beach.

Langhorne's Brittany Benvenuto, after missing nearly the entire 2017 season with injury, looked to retain LPGA playing privileges in the 90-hole event. 

It wasn't to be.

Benvenuto carded a final round 74 to finish the event at 365, seven shots out of the top-20 which secured playing privileges. 

Earlier... 

DAY FOUR - The fourth day of LPGA Tour qualifying finals was good and bad for Langhorne's Brittany Benvenuto. She scored a 1-over-par 73, with four birdies against five bogeys. Bad was the bogey on the 18th hole. 

Benvenuto made the 72-hole cut, but she will have to go low in the final round. Predictions are a 68 will be needed to advance into the top 20 ladies who will earn their LPGA Tour playing privileges. 

She's played consistent golf, with one par round and three one over par rounds. But to qualify she will need to get on the birdie train in round five.  

DAYS TWO-THREE: Brittany Benvenuto Continued the quest for LPGA Tour playing privileges in Daytona Beach, Fla., playing strong enough to stay in contention for a top-20 finish which would generate a tour card.

Benvenuto opened with an even par 72 then backed that up with a one-over-par 73 on day two. Day three saw her post another 72.

The second round saw her continue to best the par-5 holes with two birdies. Unfortunately a double bogey on the par-4 fourth hole took those strokes away. Still, a consistent effort from the Langhorne native.

On day three of the five round marathon saw Benvenuto birdied the final hole and carded an even-par 72 to stand at 1-over-par 217 and in 33rd place. She's three shots away from a top-20 finish. 

Georgia Hall, the European Tour stalwart who was a star in the Solheim Cup, rebounded from an opening round 77 to rounds of 69 and 66 to vault into the top 10.  Multiple LPGA Tour winner Vicki Hurst continued her strong play as well. 

DAY ONE____Langhorne's Brittany Benvenuto opened the first round of the 2018 LPGA Qualifying Tournament with an even par 72 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Benvenuto birdied three of the four par-5 holes, but bogeyed three par-4s. She's among 50 players at even-par or better. 

Final qualifying is over 90 holes. There will be a cut after 72 holes to the low 70 players and ties.  The top-20 players in the field earn LPGA privileges next season. Benvenuto will have some status on tour given her injured status for most of 2017. 

 

21 Nov
2017

Benvenuto entered in LPGA qualifying finals

Written by Bob Oliver

Vicky Hurst has been a fan favorite at the ShopRite LPGA Championship for years, but even though she's earned more than $1.6 Million on the LPGA Tour and was a 2011 Solheim Cup selection, she's back at Qualifying School attempting to gain full privileges for 2018.

Last year her 70-69-72 finish in Galloway Township saw her cash a nice check for her 32nd place finish.

Others in the LPGA finals include familiar names like Julieta Granada, Nicole Jeray and Min Lee. 2017 European Tour stalwart Georgiana Hall is in the field, looking for US playing privileges. 

Oh, and a lady from Langhorne, Brittany Benvenuto is at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Benvenuto missed nearly all of the 2017 season with an injury, and while she will have limited privileges in 2018 she's attempting to improve her standing. Nursed back to health, she's been working on her game in preparation for the event. 

 

10 Sep
2017

Smeraglio adds more trophies!

Written by Bob Oliver

If there's one thing Glenn Smeraglio doesn't need, it's another trophy. 

Who are we kidding? He needs more, more more. 

The Newtown resident has won dozens of crowns in his golfing career, but the most recent one was very special. Playing at Lehigh, Smeraglio carded an opening round of 5-under-par 65 to lead Chris Clauson by two strokes in the Golf Association of Philadelphia's Senior Amateur Championship. 

When inclimate weather cancelled the final round, Smeraglio, 57, was awarded the championship. 

Five Ponds Brian Rothaus tied for third after an even-par 70.

It's been a winning summer for Smeraglio, who plays out of LuLu. In the 58th Pennsylvania Senior Amateur Championship at St. Clair, he carded rounds of 73-69--142, tying Champion Lakes David Brown after 36 holes of regulation play. 

On to sudden death, Smeraglio made an emphatic eagle on the first playoff hole to claim the state championship. 

25 Jun
2017

Greenbrier Classic back, better than ever

Written by Bob Oliver

 

 

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV. - There was rain in the forecast a year ago in West Virginia, but nobody expected the severity of the eventual storm.

It started to sprinkle, evolved into a downpour, and escalated from there. Soon rain became a deluge, and as the day went into the night the situation only got worse. Torrential rains savaged and caused flash flooding of streams, with things only getting worse from there.

Down at the Greenbrier Sporting Club Bubba Watson was at his vacation home for a brief respite of PGA Tour play, planning some fly fishing and downtime with his family. That expectation was cancelled as Mother Nature had a really bad day last June 24.

“I’ve lived through hurricanes,” said Watson when the storm subsided. He remembered those hurricanes that hit the Florida panhandle. “I have to say none of those hurricanes hit with the power and intensity of this storm, I never saw anything like this.”

The storms devastated the area, ravaging homes, businesses and upending lives. Homes were captured floating down rivers in what was called a 1000-year storm. Streams overflowed, roads were turned into raging rivers, storm waters spread like a virus and destroyed everything in their path. Topping the disaster was a tornado.

Low lying fields became lakes, terror was in the minds of residents as possessions were gone and years of memories erased.

“The storm hit us with everything but the kitchen sink,” explained Greenbrier Resort Pro-Emeritus and golf Hall of Fame member Lee Trevino. “Heck, we have pictures of houses floating in the streets, of cars and refrigerators floating down rivers. This area (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia where the Greenbrier Resort is located) was devastated. It ravaged the infrastructure, it ruined businesses, and there was loss of homes and lives. I mean, storm water was measured in feet, not inches. We were wondering if Noah was going to show up at some point."

The aftermath of the storm saw 23 people killed in the West Virginia flooding, more than 1,200 homes and 100 businesses destroyed and more than 100 million dollars in losses to the area.

“I visited Louisiana after (Hurricane) Katrina,” commented Phil Mickelson, “and the devastation to this area was on that kind of scale considering the impact on the communities.”

The historic Greenbrier Resort was officially closed for business purposes but used for emergency housing as the weather’s devastating winds and rains wreaked havoc with the area.

The storm was clearly catastrophic. More than 40 counties were declared disaster areas.

Along the way, and merely a footnote to the storm losses, was the cancellation of the 2016 Greenbrier Classic, the PGA Tour event that generates millions of dollars of much needed economic value to the area.

Today, the Greenbrier County and surrounding areas are during an economic rebound, as people from all over have banded together to help with the area’s new look.

The Greenbrier Resort remains as an economic engine, and the 2017 version of the Greenbrier Classic is expected to provide a springboard step along the way to the area’s rebirth. A year ago the Greenbrier Resort served as emergency housing for displaced homeowners who saw their lives upended. Owner Jim Justice, who later in the year was elected Governor of the state of West Virginia, insisted that the Greenbrier Resort be a keystone to the after-storm actions.

“Our area was devastated, and we attempted to do whatever we could to help out the community,” explained Dr. Jill Justice, who now serves as CEO of the Greenbrier after her husband’s election to Governor. “As we look ahead to the golf tournament, we see it as an important step in normalcy. We will make it happen, as the entire community has rallied together.”

In the aftermath of the storms the entire area and friends from throughout the United States offered aid. One local program supported by the Greenbrier, Neighbors Loving Neighbors, has helped the area with its rebuilding efforts and with food drives.

“Over the last year we’ve been instrumental in the rebuilding of more than 600 homes,” explained Bibi Mamone, the Greenbrier Classic’s executive tournament director. “The NLN program has been such a success, providing support to area residents effected by the flooding, rebuilding of houses and community buildings (e.g., gymnasiums) and helping in any way we can.”

Support from The Greenbrier and the PGA Tour family has been quick and full of impact.

Donations of canned food gets one tickets to the 2017 event, following the footsteps of what was to be a hallmark of the 2016 event. For free ticket information, visit the Greenbrier Classic web site at http://www.greenbrierclassic.com/Tickets/Weekly-Badges/Weekly-Grounds

The Greenbrier golf courses – the Old White TPC designed by Charles Blair Macdonald, the Seth Raynor designed Greenbrier, and The Meadows – were decimated by the floods.

“The courses at the resort were essentially washed away. I was here with my son, and the rain started coming down in torrents, I mean, you could not see the trees on the other side of the parking lot it was coming down so hard,” remembered Trevino. “Mr. Justice made the decision to keep the courses closed after the storms and not simply do a patchwork fix on them. He wanted the courses to return in spectacular style.”

Noted golf course restoration guru Keith Foster was brought in to return the Old White TPC to MacDonald’s vision, while Mickelson will rework the Greenbrier course beginning this summer. That course was site of the 1979 Ryder Cup. The Meadows course will be updated and redesigned with the addition of 20 lots to the Greenbrier complex in the last year.

“Mr. Justice wanted, no, he demanded that we not endorse a band aid approach to the rework of the Old White TPC Course,” commented Greenbrier VP of Golf Burt Baine. “That was the correct decision. No stone was to be unturned. His orders were to do things the right way. Keith Foster took those marching orders and made sure it happened.”

On day one after the storm subsided, the Greenbrier Resort team understood the severity of the situation and plans began on how to right the ship.

“We knew how bad it was, and we committed to making all right again,” said Trevino. “Everyone got together and each aspect of the situation was divided into smaller pieces. Everyone played a part. What can we do here, what can be done there? How can we make the Greenbrier Resort a spectacular destination once again? There was no one thing, it was all encompassing. This is one hell of a team.”

All acknowledged that a strong Greenbrier Resort would be a strong centerpiece to the economic rebirth of the area. And with that knowledge, the idea that the golf courses be brought back imperative with a keen eye toward contesting a PGA Tour event on schedule a year later.

Mickelson says he’s circled the tournament’s July 3-9 dates on his playing schedule, and says he’s been lobbying other PGA Tour stalwarts to join him. Bubba Watson, 2015 “defending” champion Danny Lee, Kevin Kisner, John Daly and other top names will be in the field. As many as nine players with a major championship on their resume are expected to compete.

“I so much want to visit the Greenbrier and compete in the 2017 event,” explained Daly at the PGA Tour Merchandise Show in January. “I mean, wow, what that area had to go through a year ago with the storms. It was devastating. Anything we can do to help, we will.”

“The response I’ve been receiving has been tremendous,” added Mickelson, on site this week. “There is a strong association with the Tour, and I know there are scores of players who want to make sure this event shows the Greenbrier Classic and this area is back. We expect some real star power at the Classic.”

Tournament week will feature everything from its annual Concert Series to a Kids Zone, from autograph possibilities to the can’t miss “Learn with Lee” program put on by Trevino. Tributes to the first responders, people involved in the rebuilding of the area and friends will be front a center. And the PGA Tour players are expected to delight their fans with strong play.

It’s hard to imagine what has transpired in the last year, but the Greenbrier Classic is back.

“This place was beaten up, I mean, Mother Nature unleashed her fury,” explained Trevino. Pointing toward the flagpole near the golf clubhouse, he mentioned how high the water was at one point. “It rained a river. But while this place was down, you couldn’t count it out. We’re back!”

“Lee hit the nail on the head,” added Mickelson, who has been tasked with a redesign of what has been reduced by last year’s storm to a 12-hole course into a playable championship 18 over the next year.   “The Greenbrier Resort is back, wonderful as ever and ready for action.”

It has been a tough period for the area, but hard work and perseverance has brought the area back.

And the local community is making its way back in tandem with the resort rebirth.