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!

19 May
2015

Benvenuto strong on Symetra Tour

Written by Bob Oliver

The road to the LPGA has many turns, detours and speed bumps. 

The road can be crowded and more terrifying than traveling Route 95 during rush hour --- without any brakes. 

But this road can be a road of dreams, hopes and anticipation.

Brittany Benvenuto is on the road, and she can see her destination. The question is, can she make it?

Benvenuto, a Neshaminy High School and University of Arizona graduate, has a nice portfolio of accomplishments, including the 2008 Pennsylvania Women's Amateur Championship. She's currently 11th on the Symetra Tour Money List, no small factor, as the top 10 finishers on that list at the end of the 23 event schedule earn 2016 LPGA Tour status. 

Of more importance, she's playing well, making the cut week in and week out and earning two top three finishes this season with nearly $20,000 in earnings. It's anticipated that $50,000 in earnings will earn a tour cards.

At the Mission Health Wellness Classic, Benvenuto earned $6,311 for a second place finish after rounds of 67-69-70 for a 206 total. The Volvik Championship saw her finish third after rounds of 71-68-76--215, earning $6,683. 

Her goal right now is a victory, and posting strong finishes gets her mind into the mode for grueling competition. The road is a hard one, but she's paying her tolls along the way. She has game, and time will tell if she can elevate it to the next level. 

06 May
2015

Lewis to defend ShopRite crown

Written by Bob Oliver

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, NJ - Stacy Lewis has a huge heart and, when prompted, a friendly smile. Oh, that smile isn’t always plastered to her face, as she’s more likely to be concentrating on her game or some such thing.

The golfer who earned the LPGA Rolex Player of the Year, Vare Trophy and Money List title for 2014 has a lot to smile about – except she’s also her own worst critic. This year has seen her win exactly zero championships.

This isn’t to say she’s been coasting, as she’s had what most mere mortals would call a stellar season. Yes, there are zero wins, but her bank account has seen more than $700,000 in earnings on the strength of seven top-10 finishes that brought her lifetime earnings over the $10,000,000 mark.

Later this month she will defend the crown she won last year at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer (May 25-31 - ticket information at www.shopritelpgaclassic.com) The event is slated for 54 holes over the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.

“It’s been a mixed season for me, in that I’ve played really well and have challenged for several titles but just haven’t won,” said the 11-time LPGA winner. “I’m doing the right things, hitting good shots, and there will be wins. And, coming back to Seaview is a plus because, well, I love it here.”

Lewis is a two-time winner at the Bay Course, having won in 2012 and 2014. She finished 16-under-par last year including a closing 67 on a course she calls tantalizing.

“The Bay Course is very special, it’s not long but it is very challenging, especially with the winds off the bay,” said Lewis. “I love this golf course. It is all golf, no houses, just a Donald Ross gem. It features tricky greens and you don’t need to be a big bomber to win here.”

Lewis is from a long line of great players who have won the Classic. Annika Sorenstam and Betsy King claimed three titles, while Juli Inkster two. Other greats who have hoisted the championship crown include Nancy Lopez, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, Dottie Pepper, Brittany Lincicome and Cristie Kerr.

“You need to be precise, but you also need to have a number of shots in the bag because the challenges are great,” added Lewis. “This is an Old School course, and it can frustrate players. There are subtile breaks on the greens. It’s demanding and the best players will challenge.”

Already committed to the event are 19 of the top 20 players off the 2015 money list and 94 of the top-100.

“The players love to come here, there’s so much to do outside golf. Many of us have stayed with the same families for years,” said Lewis with a smile.

Oh, she doesn’t smile as much as some, but her grace is second to none. 

CHIP SHOTS: Lewis has been ranked among the top-3 women in the world of women's professional golf for the last 18 months...Tips on reading Seaview's Bay Course greens. "They don't break the way they look, but they do break they way they feel. I'll walk the green to get that feel."...Crowd favorites Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson have committed to play. Super 17-year-old Brook Henderson was given a sponsor's exemption.

Follow Bob Oliver on Twitter: @Arbyoliver

05 May
2015

Jaworski golf snares Downingtown

Written by Bob Oliver

Downingtown - Leave it to Ron Jaworski Golf to continue it's goal of overseeing stellar golf courses. 

Jaworski, along with Ken Kochenour of GF Management, Ira Lubert and Joe Williamson, has acquired the historic Downingtown Country Club. 

The George Fazio design, which made its debut in 1967, was updated by Gil Hanse and is a true test. It features a strong mixture of holes, strong bunkering complexes and rolling fairways. It has long been known for its strong conditioning. Par is 72, with the back tee yardage at 6,619.

RJG - Jaworski Golf is known for taking over courses and sprucing them up. Witness Bue Heron Pines, Running Deer and RiverWinds which all have joined the Jaworski Group and saw immediate improvements. 

Stay tuned for more details. 

Follow Bob Oliver on Twitter at @arbyoliver

 

04 May
2015

Drive for 1,000 courses

Written by Bob Oliver

It is no secret that I am a golfaholic.

Seriously.

I love playing the game, and while I enjoy covering professional and amateur events it's the playing that has me hooked. The worst golf course in the world - I remember one in Aruba - is better than sitting at home. 

Those who know me know I have a goal to play 1,000 golf courses in my golfing career. Given the choice of playing a layout where I've played before, or playing a new course, the new course will win most of the time. 

There are courses I want to play and haven't. There are courses I've played an must play again. But variety of playing different challenges just whets my appetite. In the last week I've played two new courses: the fun Royal Manchester Golf Links near York, Pa., and the outstanding Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian facility in Florida.

Royal Manchester was fun. Each hold separated from adjacent ones my mounds, very few trees, and the opportunity to bounce the ball onto the greens similar to the shots one has in Ireland or Scotland. A pleasant course, fun, and while a bit out of the way a special place to play. 

It was the 92nd course I'd played in the State of Pennsylvania, which made it special too as I'd like my home state to join New Jersey (107 courses played) on my most played list. I've played 91 courses in South Carolina, 72 in Virginia, 58 and Florida and 50 in both North Carolina and California. All told there are more than 900 courses played, but who is counting?

Golden Ocala was a very special Ron Garl designed private layout in the horse country of Ocala, Florida. What a distinctive, fun, challenging layout. Garl took pages from outstanding holes around the world to construct 8 replica holes and intertwined them with his own classic handiwork. Playable, memorable and simply superb was the experience. 

Garl gives the player the opportunity to play as much course as liked, so picking the right tee box makes for a great memorable experience. 

I particularly enjoyed the two Augusta National replica holes, although on both I dunked a ball into the pond fronting the greens. Oh well. Golden Ocala's 11th hole mimics Augusta National's 12th hole, while its 6th hole is a replica of Augusta National's 16th holes. Other replica holes used Royal Troon, Muirfield, St. Andrews and Baltusrol as starting points.

Loved both courses, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend!

An old favorite should be played if possible, as while I've played it dozens of times it never gets old: Seaview's Bay Course. This Donald Ross designed gem is different every time its played as the winds off Reeds Bay plays havoc with your precision. Don't miss it.

CHIP SHOTS: Wake Forest University freshman Erica Herr has played 24 rounds this season with a low score of 70 on her way to a 76.46 scoring average...