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!

08 Jul

COVID-19: Pay attention....or...

Written by Bob Oliver

I'm not pontificating.  Just sayin.


We all know that the Pandemic is real, that COVID-19 is serious, and that our "Normal" is now the "New Normal".


Golf courses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland, as well as about 30 other states, were closed for months as Governor's developed game plans on how to deal with the disease. To reopen, golf course management teams followed federal and state guidelines to have the ability to reopen their operations to play golf.


Some went to non-touch payments, requiring pre-payments for green's fees, no cash exchanged, limited food and beverage services, masks inside buildings, cleaning of golf carts after usage.  Golfers were greeted with immovable golf flags with plastic inserts in cups, single players in carts, and after the round no handshakes.  


We were told to social distance, to be smart, and to do everything in our power to keep players safe.  Without saying, it was also a test of sorts as to whether golf clubs could continue to remain open for pay in these trying times. 


Which brings us to a point that came to the forefront on my drive for playing 1,000 golf courses. I'm over 900 played, and always looking for a new challenge on the road to 1,000.


There I was, playing at an unnamed layout, with two guys. We were joined together at the first tee, and they seemed to be fun, normal guys.  Expected was a nice day on the golf course. Unexpected was the political dialogue surrounding the pandemic. 


You see, these two guys insisted on removing the flagstick when on the putting surface.


"I hate leaving the flagstick in," said one. 


"It's not golf if you leave flagstick in on putts," said the other.


I was outnumbered and flabbergasted and, well, concerned. 


You see, we know there are little things that can mushroom into problematic situations. I mentioned to the two that the course pro said not to remove flagsticks upon arriving at the course. These two said who cares, bringing the Bill of Rights into the conversation. 


While I'm no scholar, I don't thing the Founding Fathers had such thoughts in mind when they were putting the document together. I mentioned that non-complience with the stated guidelines could lead to a disabling of playing privileges for others.


They could care less, as they were in the "it doesn't pertain to me" mood. 


Seeing reason would lose as an argument, I went along with their protest but didn't touch the flagstick at any time. To tick them off, I'd ask them to put the flagstick back in when I was putting, which infuriated them to no end. So much so they'd put first, out of turn, in sequence before I could putt. 


At least I got to see how the putts were breaking, but it was unnerving hearing them, after putting out, walking to their carts while I was still working on the putting green.


Oh well. Small price and point to pay.  Bottom line. Be aware of the COVID guidelines because you know that, if these are "broken" government types could pull the plus and nobody will be allowed to play golf.


Just sayin,  

17 Jun

"Dean" Bogan a Bensalem fixture

Written by Bob Oliver



There is not a bit of a doubt that over his tenure at Bensalem Township Country Club that Jim Bogan has seen it all.

Bogan caddied at the then-Cornwells Country Club in 1962, graduated to working in the pro shop, and after college joined Al Wilfong's professional staff. In 1971 he was named head professional. Suffice it to say he's the Dean of area golf professionals. 

Now known as Bensalem Township Country Club, the municipally owned club has undergone numerous upgrades and revisions over the years. Superintendent Jim Stauring has done a masterful job on the course, making it a challenge for all levels of player.

And through 2019 Bogan in his 50 plus years at the club thought he'd seen it all.  Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and the shuttering of the club for a couple of months.  These days, using the best of breed in COVID-19 policies and procedures, the club is welcoming players.

"We've been doing a land office business," said Bogan. "The phones are ringing off the hook as players had a pent up demand and were chomping at the bit to play once some of the restrictions were lessened.  We are complying with the restrictions - extended time between tee times, cleaning carts, ensuring players wear masks inside and social distancing - and we've worked hard to make it all work."

Originally designed by William and David Gordon in 1960, the layout is basically unchanged although great steps have been taken to improve playability by trimming trees, manicuring fairways and rolling greens. The course plays to a par of 70 and about 62200 yards and can be as challenging as a player likes. 

"We have a fair test of golf. The nice thing is we've been very busy after restrictions were removed. The players tell us the course is fun but always a challenge," said Bogan. "We've worked hard to give the players what they want both on the course and off."

Bogan has the course record of 64, a mark that has been tied but never broken. "This isn't an easy course!"

Over the years it has seen its share of great players.  PGA Tour Hall fo Fame player Johnny Miller played it numerous times.  Former Tour player Gary Hardin joined the professional staff for a while, and on the amateur side of things Keith Wilson earned numerous club championships. 

Bensalem Township Country Club has matured and is a fine test of golf.  Check it out!



14 Jun

Chamblee keeps it real

Written by Bob Oliver


Everyone has an opinion.  Cable channels are full of those spouting views that create havoc, that evoke emotion.

Sports talk radio receives big ratings in cities across the nation. Maybe not as much as the news, but after straight news people like to "speak" with their radio on the way to work or around town. 

The Golf Channel has long been a place where all facets of golf can be listened to and viewed, from instruction to information to, well, opinions. And these days, information and opinion, can generate controversy. And today's poster child for opinion is Brandel Chamblee.

Chamblee, a journeyman PGA Tour player at best, has developed into someone whose opinions shake and bake the golf world.  Like Johnny Miller, who grazed the NBC telecasts before his retirement, Chamblee is never at a loss for words. 

Chamblee keeps it real.

Chamblee unfiltered fires opinions from the hip. He calls things as his mind sees them, seemingly without regard for the toes he steps on or the players he offends. Heck there was even a dustup with Eldrick Tiger Woods that made headlines for weeks. 

Players never like being called out, a natural feeling. Criticism is a part of the game of course, and there are always many sides to a story or situation. Emotions come out. Chamblee isn't afraid of spouting his opinion and that results in talk, more talk and controversy. Still, it's something he excels at. 

That said, appearances aren't everything. Away from the red light of the camera he's also never at a loss for words, a great interview and willing to provide thought provoking dialogue. 

He smiled at the question. "I merely try to be myself and give the viewer my take on things. I'm not saying I'm right or wrong, but it's my option shaped by years of being involved in this great game," said Chamblee earlier this year. "I don't get paid to keep my thoughts to myself, to keep them hidden away. I get paid to think and them get those thoughts onto the air. Yes, I have some opinions that might be considered controversial, but so be it."

Philadelphia holds a special place in Chamblee's golf mind. 

"No question Philadelphians are sports fanatics. It is a great town for golf, and I wish the Tour was here more often. There are some great courses, from Merion to Philadelphia Cricket Club and Pine Valley. There is a storied golf history here.

"The folks here are passionate about sports, they are fanatics. And I love the area."

On the tube Chamblee is never at a loss for his opinion. 

"Look, the viewer is obviously watching things. They can see. I can help interpret or give   an inside the ropes analysis. What was a player thinking at that moment. What variables were present. How the player approaches a situation. How he executed play, how he didn't."

He does not shy away from opinion, although sometimes, upon further review, he might wish he's stated something a little differently.

"But I've got to be me."

Chamblee is one of a kind.  

09 Jun

Write down right score

Written by Bob Oliver


This is a Public Service Announcement for golfers who maintain a "real" USGA handicap. Write down the correct score on each hole you play.

Write down too high a score, and it will catch up with you. You'll be branded a sandbagger or worse. 

But this column is about the "other guy", the guy who in an effort to maintain a handicap he thinks he should have records score less than he actually had.  Many times it's inadvertent. Doesn't effect outcome of a game. Is purely for ego.

Don't know what I mean?

There's a guy at my club who maintains the same handicap as I do.  How then, when we play head to head, do I beat him nearly every time? Not logical, right?

The symptoms start as early as the first tee.  He's take a mighty swipe at the ball, hit it sideways, then re-tee a "Breakfast Ball"  Okay, but won't take a penalty. 

Likewise, somewhere along the round, he'd say he's taking a "Mulligan", again, with no penalty.

Let's say his drive ends up in a dastardly divot. Play it as it lies? Nope, he'll move the ball out because the shot was too good to be in such a precarious position. No penalty. 

Around greens he is a good chipper and putter. But nobody is that good. By that I mean, he;ll roll the ball toward the cup and immediately ask, "That's good, right". Now he'd probably make 9-of-10 four footers but that one he'd miss would be another stroke.

Similarly, he'll take a gimme when he misses by six feet if his opponent give him a free pass because he's out of the hole.  That's okay for match but not for handicap.

In some leagues gimmes are allowed at the discretion of partners, and surely are allowed in match play situations, but if from a distance one has to record the number that most likely would have been made. So if you have a 15-foot downhill sidehill putt, and it's given for the match, that's fine. But more likely for the scorecard it would be a two-putt. Add a stroke. 

Bottom like is that this player is mostly likely cheating himself out of a couple handicap strokes.  Don't tell him, because I like beating him the way things are. 

Oh, and it doesn't effect handicap, but the guy who hits two balls out of bounds before duffing a chip and says, I had a 7, that's the most I can take.  Well, okay. But you are kidding yourself.