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!

30 Jan
2017

Daly and Loudmouth Golf a true team

Written by Bob Oliver

 

If ever there was a person who was clearly an enigma, it would be John Patrick Daly.

On one hand, he’s a two-time major champion, a guy who shocked the world by winning the 1991 PGA Championship after surprisingly getting into the event as the ninth alternate. On the other hand, he’s battled alcohol, gambling and an assortment of vices that kept him from winning more than four times on the PGA Tour.  

John Daly’s life would easily be defined as “My Way.” A winner of championships on the PGA Tour, European Tour (1995 British Open), Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and Web.com Tour, Daly has earned a fortune playing golf. Living life, he’s spent a fortune and been involved in numerous on and off course incidents. Along the way he wore out more welcomes than an obnoxious relative.

Still, his long drive prowess (he was first to record an average drive distance of more than 300 yards on the PGA Tour) and renegade bad boy attitude made him loved or hated by millions of golf fans. Love him or hate him, he always garnered headlines.

Now a member of the PGA Tour Champions, Daly is competitive but has yet to win.

“I’m playing well, I’m hitting the ball well and managing my game but I just haven’t put it all together there (on the Champions Tour),” explained the man alternately known as Wild Thing, Long John and The Lion. “It’s all about my putting. I’m not making any putts.”

At the PGA Merchandise Show, where he was endorsing the Loudmouth Golf line of clothing, Daly was cautiously optimistic that his putting stroke would come around. When reminded that he had always been a streaking putter, Daly smiled that shy yet knowledgeable smile of his.

 

 

“You are exactly correct!” he commented. “That’s been a trait of mine. There have been times when I step up to a putt and know I’m going to make it. I get that confidence going and all of a sudden things are good and all is well. I just have to get into that mode to win out there.”

He’s tried various putters, grips and strokes, but nothing is working to his hopes at this point, and no doubt a putter or two might accidentally “drown” if not working properly. But there’s hope and confidence that putts will soon start dropping and a win will follow.

Daly is a good old boy with lots of interests, and fun is at the top of the list. Fun could be course design (he has a handful to his credit), music (he’s recorded a few songs), but it’s golf that is a passion.

“I love the game, but there are times when the game doesn’t love me back,” he said with a smile.

Daly’s association with Loudmouth Golf is a perfect match. He loves his (Arkansas) Razorback, Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Cardinals, Candy Crush and Graffiti sets, garners attention on the course with his ensemble, and garners attention for the brand.

“The absolute great thing about Loudmouth is that you can get dressed in the dark,” joked Daly with a huge grin. “Everything matches! But seriously, we have so many colorful designs we have something for everyone. I know you never know what the public will take a liking to, but Woody (Loudmouth’s Scott “Woody” Woodworth) will try just about anything.

“Loudmouth is reflection of a really cool lifestyle, it’s great to be involved with them. Its style fits my style.”

“JD has been a great addition to our team,” said Woodworth, who said the association with Daly was years in the making. “He’s not just a spokesperson, he actually gives us great advice and helps with our products. He has some great ideas and we have put some of them into play. It’s a good team.”

Woodworth said Loudmouth borrowed conceptually from golf’s past, when crazy colors were turned in by designs worn by golfers such as Johnny Miller. By the 80s such designs were passé, but became rejuvenated by Caddyshack’s notorious Al Czervick played by Rodney Dangerfield.  It took a while before Loudmouth led the new resurgence of colors, but their splash has been felt worldwide.

Woodworth founded the company in 2000 and has stuck to its core business model since. “We want to entice the world to enjoy our product,” said Woodworth. The company has long had the slogan, to develop products for those who want to stand out, smile and have fun.

Daly is the perfect spokesperson for the company. His fans will be able to see him up close in personal in Loudmouth outfits on the PGA Champions Tour, but he also hopes to play a couple PGA Tour events including the Greenbrier Classic, as well as a couple Senior Asian Tour events and the British Open.

“Mr. (Jim) Justice has that great event, and they went through so much with the cancellation last year due to the horrific floods. I’d like to help out in any way I can,” said a serious Daly, who corrected himself by calling Mr. Justice "Governor." Justice was elected governor of West Virginia last fall.

Wherever he plays, the fans will follow.

“Awesome, the fans have always been awesome. I can’t explain it,” said Daly, attempting to explain the unexplanable. “Maybe a lot of fans just love a guy who is real, who has his ups and downs. People relate to me in some way. I am simply a guy who is different, who’s crazy, who’s done dumb things. I’m honest about it, though, I admit it when I do stupid things.”

Daly has done scores of stupid things over the years, no doubt, but he’s also done a world of good with his play and his support of charitable organizations. No if he can get that putting stroke to begin firing on all cylinders, victories will come.

Daly Notes: Daly’s first album “My Life” included guest vocals by Willie Nelson, Darius Rucker and Johnny Lee, and he wrote/co-wrote eight songs on his album including “I only know one way”.  He sang back up to Kid Rock on the song “Half Your Ago”…Daly has put a new Vertical Groove driver in his bag and serves as that company’s goodwill ambassador...Daly has fond memories of Philadelphia area, and is amazed the PGA Tour no longer has a tour stop. "We played the Senior PGA at Philadelphia Cricket Club, and that was a nice track."

17 Nov
2016

Golf a four season sport - Jersey Gems

Written by Bob Oliver

Well, there you have it. Don't put your golf clubs in the deep recesses of the garage or basement for the winter. 

It's a given there has been frost on some recent cold Bucks County mornings. Heck, it will probably snow for Christmas. But look, many have been playing their best in recent months after a great season on area courses. Why mess up that great swing by putting one's clubs away and starting over next spring?

Why go through the agony of rekindling that grooved swing? Playing to your lowest handicap of the year at a time when you haven't hit a golf ball in months?

Okay, we are not all jet-setters who can dump the clubs in a G-4 and head to Florida or another warm location. 

Here's are a few suggestions.

1) When the weather gets into the 50s without a great deal of wind, make sure the clubs are in the car and get out even if only for nine holes. Winter golf is generally faster as less people are on the golf course.

2) Basements are great places for practice swings. Just make sure the munchkins aren't lurking around. 

3) Make some notes of the great, and not so great things you accomplished in 2016. Think of a plan to build on them. 

4) Sneak away for a long weekend of golf, using a cheap air fare to the south or anywhere warm. If that doesn't fit the budget, think of a drive that will accomplish much of the same. Winter golf at the Jersey Shore, Ocean City Maryland, WIlliamsburg Virginia can be found inexpensively and the weather can be much warmer than Bucks County. Not significantly warmer, but warmer.

While thinking of these items think about places you want to play in 2017. My goal this year was to play 30 "new" courses. That is, courses I've never played before. I am sitting on 29 and am ready for another!

Make sure you don't miss playing great courses within driving distance. Two of my particular favorites are the Atlantic City Country Club and Shore Gate Golf Club, both on the Jersey Shore and within a 90 minute ride with traffic.

Atlantic City, renovated in 1999 by Tom Doak, is a classic seaside gem. Located in Northfield, just a couple miles from Atlantic CIty, the "Home of the Birdie" provides an outstanding test of golf with upscale amenities. Great challenge on the course, great food inside the clubhouse. And a wealth of history.

There have been six USGA events held at Atlantic City, including the 1948 (Babe Zaharias), 1965 (Carol Mann) and 1975 Women's Open (Sandra Palmer). It was also the site in 1980 of the first Senior PGA Tour event, the PGA Inaugural Seniors.

Atlantic City and its sister courses, Ballamor and Scotland Run, have long been rated among the best places to play in the state of New Jersey. It's a quick ride and great test.

We've long loved the Shore Gate Golf Club, located just off the Garden State Parkway Exit 17, where one finds a true sparkling oasis amid the Jersey pines. Shore Gate (see story in the New Jersey section of courses on this site) has always been a top-notch layout, but if possible has only gotten better with age.

The fairways are superb, the greens are tantalizing but smooth and true, and the overall venue outstanding.

Recent years has seen the integration of new fescue which frames the course, giving a pleasing view and direction of where one goes with their tee ball. It also can be found near bunkers, almost like a do not hit here sign.

Shore Gate is a must play shore course.

As Sayresville's Jon Bon Jovi sings, "Who says you can't go home again?? 

 

18 Aug
2016

"The Dirty Thirty" makes debut

Written by Bob Oliver

 

Everyone has a little bit of dreamer deep inside. That special something one wants to accomplish despite the odds being totally against the mere thought of success.

 

While most people think of motion pictures as glitz and glitter, red carpets and agents, Rob Thorp and Bill Schlavis found time after their demanding day jobs were complete to make a full length feature motion picture about growing up at the Jersey Shore. The dark comedy follows a group of friends as they grow up, navigating the highs and lows of life in their 30s.

 

Call Thorp and Schlavis dreamers. Yet this week for two area educators – er – filmmakers, that dream will come to fruition.

 

The full length feature film, The Dirty Thirty, will be unveiled to the film’s supporters Thursday night in Asbury Park at Porta Bar and Restaurant.

 

Filmed in Asbury Park, Red Bank and Ocean Township over the summer of 2015, the twosome who are the brains behind Rucksack Films lived a long recurring dream to film The Dirty Thirty, feeding off the thought that some men are still boys after reaching adulthood. They live life, growing and expanding horizons while navigating the speed bumps of life.

 

No doubt that pulling together all the components needed to create a feature film without a major Hollywood backer could be considered, well, crazy, the two believed in their idea and themselves. Call them a little crazy for attempting to make an independent film while others merely pitch ideas to the movie studios, this labor of love was accomplished of for the most part over summer break.

 

“Several years ago we tried to launch a feature film – we’d completed some music videos and short films prior to then --- and it just didn’t happen. We were angry with ourselves for that failure,” explained Thorp, who teaches English and Film at Bridgewater Raritan High School and Brookdale Community College. “We regrouped and discussed various ideas, and kept coming back to one that centered around the existential dilemmas of relationships, modern dating life, the internet and thoughts about men still being boyish into their 30s. The youth culture is celebrated, and we felt we could tell an authentic story about the trials and tribulations of growing up.”

 

They started a working theme and outline of where they wanted to take the project, and worked hard collaborating on a story that had strong characters and felt logical and smooth and quickly agreed they were dead set on making the film themselves instead of pitching to Hollywood.

 

“We’d exchange ideas, develop the story line and agreed we wanted to do the film ourselves,” added Schlavis, who teaches history and coaches cross-country at Metuchen High School. “The final story centered around a group of friends, now in their 30s, who were over-worked, over-connected to social media and treading down a worn path of being adults with a bend toward acting like teenagers.”

 

“The script came directly out of conversations we were having with each other and our other friends,” added Thorp. “We basically just took these existentially bleak ideas and turned them on their head.”

 

Both dabbled in the arts in their own high school years, with Thorp taking a film class in high school and attending film schools in New York. He worked on a handful of short films, documentaries and music videos. Schlavis came into filmmaking through his audio background.

 

The team had a shoestring budget, helped in part by friends but also by a successful Kickstarter campaign, the idea of actually making the film became reality. They began assembling a cast, culled from an original notice that nearly 1,000 actors responded. That number was whittled down with auditions in New York City for the six ensemble parts   Most were relatively new to the feature filming process, instead having worked primarily in web series productions, off-Broadway plays and student films.  Each saw something they liked about the project and the creators.

 

Crowd funding with the Kickstarter platform clicked, as the team quickly raised over their expected goal and saw this as a good sign that their project might resonate with people.

 

“We had 82 sponsors, a lot of the donors were people we had never met,” said Schlavis. “They believed in the project. Every penny went to cast salaries, travel and crew meals. And we can’t say enough about friends and co-workers who believed in us and helped the cause in any way they could.

 

Co-lead Joshua Dye, was a lead on a music video the duo produced the preceding year, “I met Bill and Rob a year or so back on another project and when they told me about The Dirty Thirty, I was in before I read the script. You don’t often meet writers who tell stories the way they do.”

 

Another Co-lead, Ryan Patrick Wesen, who the story centers around, echoed Dye’s sentiments, “It was a top-to-bottom, great experience for an artist. Bill and Rob both believed in the actors and gave them room to work out their own dialogue. It’s pretty rare to have writers who trust their actors enough to ad lib.”

 

Also in starring roles are Mike Sause, Caralyn Collar, Jessie Ruane and Comfort Clinton, with Amanda Bear, Laura Winters, and Erica Boozer.

 

With the principal cast ready, Rob and Bill assembled a small, skeleton crew of local artists that could quickly transition between roles as needed. Using local talent (film students from the Tri-state area), they found eager, talented and hardworking members who felt as they did about taking ownership of a shared experience.  Everyone chipped in, shared work and laughs long into the night.

 

“There were times when we were on set for 12 or 14 hours,” said Thorp. “Things can get bad fast, emotions and feelings can easily get in the way of the project if people don’t respect each other. That never happened on our set, not once. We genuinely had fun every day.”

 

The Dirty Thirty is as much about location as the characters and plot. Both Thorp and Schlavis live in Monmouth County and spend a lot of time in Asbury Park and Red Bank areas.

 

“We wanted the film to reflect the Jersey Shore we love,” added Thorp, who thanked all for permission to film at some of the area’s premier locations. “Businesses like Jamians, America’s Cup, Happyness opened their doors to us and let us shoot. The result was an authentic feeling atmosphere to film and to act in for our cast.

 

“It was a whole lot of fun filming in the area,” added Clinton, whose recent career has seen stints appearing on Law and Order, Special Victims Unit and other television shows. “It added to the realism and local flavor.”

 

Over the course of roughly 7 weeks, the small crew and cast made their way around the Jersey shore, filming 5-6 days a week until, on the last night of summer, at Bill’s parents’ house, they wrapped the film. Filming done, the team spent time in their editing suite (Schlavis’ bedroom) the team would review, take notes and work implementing revisions and building film toward its final cut.

 

“We’d meet when we could – we have full-time positions remember – and we’d be amazed at how the film slowly took shape. We both can be hyper critical of our own work, but we saw we were hitting on all cylinders. From raw cut to color correction to sound and music being added we thought we were going to have a product we’d be proud of. As we continued the project we liked what we were doing.”

 

Thorp was complimentary of his teammate. “Bill’s a renaissance man, he can play 5 instruments and is always in a band or two at any given moment. When we decided to do original music for the movie, Bill stepped in and basically scored it by hand with songs he had written and would write directly for the project.”

 

After this week’s screening the duo will be applying The Dirty Thirty to film festivals nationwide and hoping for a slightly larger audience to see the film.

 

Movie completed, Thorp and Schlavis are preparing for the new school year. This isn’t Hollywood where one takes meetings in hopes of the next project.  

 

Movie Notes: The Dirty Thirty was written by Bill Schlavis and Rob Thorp in the fall of 2014 and stars Ryan Patrick Wesen, Joshua Dye, Lauren Wickel, Mike Sause, Jessie Ruane and Comfort Clinton. Rob Thorp directs, with Bill Schlavis editing and scoring the music…Golf Bucks County’s own Robert B. Oliver is an Executive Producer and appears in the film as an elder “Skirt Chaser in Bar” role…The film will be submitted to various competitions for review.

 

 

 

11 Aug
2016

Bartolacci, Smeraglio claim 4-ball title

Written by Bob Oliver

You would need an adding machine to calculate the number of championships Tom Bartolacci and Glenn Smeraglio have captured in their illustrious careers. 

They added another with the 57th Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Four-Ball Stroke Play at LedgeRock, where they claimed a two-shot win over Laurel Creek's Joe RUsso and Mark Walker, 66 to 68. 

Bartolacci, who plays out of Saucon Valley, and Smeraglio, of LuLu savor the challenge. They scored 30 on the front nine with a birdie and eagle on the card, and played near flawless golf throughout. It was the second championship in the event for the twosome, who also claimed the 2010 tournament.

Jericho National's Mark Metaxas and Jim Gavagan finished at 72.

CHIP SHOTS: A familiar face will be competing in the USGA Mid-Amateur Championship at the beautiful and challenging Stonewall next month. Yardley C.C. Chris Ault earned a berth after a strong 71 at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.