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!

General

Park aces NVCC fifth

Written by Bob Oliver on .

A hole-in-one is a golfer's dream. An elusive dream.

But sometimes dreams come true.

Jung Park found that out recently at Northampton Valley Country Club, where he stepped up to the tee on the par-3, 172-yard third hole. He swung, hit his shot with a five iron and found his ball in the cup. 

It was the first ace of his golfing career.

Aces are wild at Bensalem TOwnship Golf Club. John Lotkowski bested the fourth hole with an 8 iron shot from 146 yards out, while Leonard Knobbs scored an ace on the par-3 11th hole. He used a 9 iron to strike the perfect 144-yard shot. Vinay Shah sced the par-3, 190-yard sixth hole, using a 5 wood, while from the 162-yard tees Timothy Scanlon struck a great shot into the cup with a 3 iron. 

Brittany Benvenuto played two strong rounds at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in Wisconsin, but failed to make the 36-hole cut.

Benvenuto carded 1-under-par 71s in both rounds but missed the cut by two strokes. 

Callantine aces NVCC 5th

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Is there any doubt that a hole-in-one is thrilling...and elusive.

Think about it. Most courses have four par-3s. The average golfer plays 22 rounds a year. So that averages out to 88 tries a year at a hole-in-one. Yet most golfers never bag that elusive perfect shot in their career.

Cross Doug Callantine off the never list. The local golfer, playing Northampton Valley Country Clubs' fifth hole, struck a perfect shot in the Monday night league, holing our his 7 wood shot from 171-yards. 

Congrats! A listing of more than 1000 local hole-in-one shots over the years can be found in the Area Acers section of this site. Also there is the ace by Bob Loftus at Bensalem's 4th hole, where he used a seven iron to ace the 160-yard test.

Brittany Benvenuto is playing well on the LPGA Tour, but not making much headway. 

"My game is close," said Benvenuto, a Neshaminy grad, who is playing on a medical exemption this season. 

Benvenuto missed recent cuts at the Mejier (73-74--147) and ShopRite Classics (76-70) and failed to gain entry into this week's Wal-Mart Arkansas Championship. She attempted to Monday qualify for the event, but her 3-under-par 69 was shy of the 65 needed to earn one of two spots in the final field. 

Hidden Creek will challenge USGA seniors

Written by Bob Oliver on .

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. -

There is more to mere beauty at Hidden Creek Golf Club. More, as in razor sharp teeth. More, as in difficulty, opportunity and challenge.

The Coore-Crenshaw Design annually earns a berth in Golfweek Magazine's Top-100 Modern Courses for a good reason - it is that good of a golf course and a special experience.

This is not a course tricked up for difficulty, it's a course that is designed to give a player multiple options and tournament officials with the same to protect par. Qualifiers to the United States Golf Association's 61st annual Senior Amateur which starts September 26 with two rounds of qualifying for 64 match play spots will be bedazzled by the course.

The event, for amateurs ages 55 and above, was captured in 2008 by the Delaware Valley's own and Fox-TVs George "Buddy" Marucci, who is exempt from qualifying and will participate in the championship. 

"I truly look forward to playing this event, and Hidden Creek is a very special venue," said Marucci, a two-time Walker Cup captain. "It will bring together a field of true amateurs who love the game and will enjoy the competition. Oh, everyone wants to win, of course, or they would not be playing. But it's a little less keyed up than, say, a U.S. Amateur."

Being just minutes from Atlantic City and all that comes with that destination, from restaurants to casinos and the beach, will give players and their families opportunity to stay and play. Spectators are welcome and will be up close and personal with the competitors. 

"We are proud to be hosting a National Championship," explained owner Roger Hansen, who, when owner of nearby Blue Heron Pines, oversaw Blue Herons Pines and the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. "We believe Hidden Creek is a special venue. We look forward to sharing our golf course with the nation."

On hand will be one player who has been on a special streak, Vienna, Va. 61-year-old Patrick Tallent. The Virginian won the 60th playing of the event last year, then crossed the pond to win the Senior British Amateur this year.

"My win last year (in the USGA event) was oh so very special," said Tallent, who defeated Bryan Norton from Kansas in the final match, 2 and 1. "I had been in the mix many times before in a USGA event, but never had been able to seal the deal. To win last year's Senior Amateur was a very special accomplishment. Frankly, I never thought I'd win one. I'm overjoyed and there is nothing like winning to get those competitive juices ready to defend."

For Tallent, a USGA event provides a unique challenge. "There is a lot of pressure in golf. There's pressure each time you tee it up. But one is more nervous in a USGA event as there is so much on the line. These are national championships."

Tallent is slated to defend his crown, and the Delaware Valley's Chip Lutz, a two-time British Amateur champion will join Marucci as area competitors.

The Delaware Valley has seen Marucci as well as J. Willard Platt, William Hyndman III and O. Gordon Brewer claim the Senior Amateur. 

Area qualifying for the event will be held at White Manor Country Club on August 31.

The golf course itself boasts numerous set up options, from risk-reward driveable par-4s to dastardly pin placements that will can bedazzle the competitor and test every bit of creativity imaginable. It is possible, for instance, that the 329-yard 8th hole could be shortened at least in one round to less than 300 yards tempting a player with length and skill to hit the gree with his tee shot and be putting for eagle.

Playing to the "proper" side of the green is imperative, as the flat stick will be challenged when playing from the wrong angle. "There are," admitted Hansen, places you don't want to beat times because of the location of the flagstick. Our greens are quick (approximately 11.5 on the Stimpmeter)and there are various degrees of undulation. They are challenging."

Designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw loved the property from the first time they laid eyes on it. "We were able to allow the golf holes to sit on the ground as we found it without moving lots of dirt," Crenshaw has said.

USGA officials believe the primary round will be about 3 inches thick, but any wayward shots will find higher rough and confounding fescue grasses will confound players with errant shots.

It's certainly not a course to be tricked out, as it is clearly a golf course at its natural best. The USGA Senior Amateur competitors will be treated to a test which is difficult yet fair.

CHIP SHOTS: Hidden Creek and the Senior Am will use a unique set of volunteers. Each group of scorers and marshals will be in a "pod" with each group. In other words, the Pod will move with the group from hole to hole rather than have marshals and other volunteers stationary on each hole. That will add to the inside the ropes feeling for the volunteers...Hidden Creek has served as a qualifying site for the United States Women's Open, U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Open...Tallent lost in the final match of the 2010 Senior Am finals...While Tallent won the U.S. and British Amateurs in successive years, American Kemp Richardson (2001) and Paul Simson (2010) went one better as they captured both titles in the same year. Richardson also won the 2003 United States and 2004 British as Tallent did, while William Shean Jr. won the 1998 and 2000 U.S. Senior Amateur titles sandwiched around the 1999 Senior British Amateur.

# # #

Elsewhere, the Peddie School's Kyle Sterbinsky stood up to the test of playing local professionals, carding a three-day 206 total to finish one stroke behind ACE Club assistant Billy Stewart in the Pennsylvania Open held at Rolling Green. Sterbinsky, who will attend Wake Forest University in the fall, posted rounds of 75, 67 and a day low 64....

Neshaminy graduate Brittany Benvenuto has seven events on the Symetra Tour to earn enough cash for a 2016 LPGA Tour playing card. Benvenuto is coming off a top-10 finish at the PHC Classic, where she boosted her seasonal earnings to $26,258. That places her 18th on the money list, with the top-10 earning tour cards.

Benvenuto has compiled three top-10s this year.

Erica Herr suffered a disasterous 9 on a par-4 hole in the second round of the United States Women's Amateur in Portland, Ore., leading to an 84 after a sparkling first round 71. In doing so she missed earning a berth in the stroke play portion of the event. The New Hope resident is an incoming sophomore at Wake Forest University. 

 

 

Drive for 1,000 courses

Written by Bob Oliver on .

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...

 

Ramesh soars to PIAA crown

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Is there a blue moon? Did you hit the lottery? Will the Flyers win the Stanley Cup?

Ah, who knows?

One thing is for certain, Pennsbury High School's Vinay Ramesh is the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association's Class AAA State Golf Champion. Ramesh became the second player from Pennsbury and fourth Lower Bucks County golfer to win the coveted boys crown with a sudden death playoff win over Manheim Township's Ryan Dornes in play at Heritage Hill after both recorded 36-hole scores of 145. Ramesh won on the third hole of the playoff.

The Pennsbury golf scored rounds of 75 and 70 for a 145 closing from fifth place to first on the final day. Also posting a top-10 finish was Holy Ghost Prep's Steve Cerbara at 77-74--151 for eighth, while Council Rock North's Logan Fugelstad was 13th at 155 and Council Rock South's Lukas Clark 29th at 165. New Hope-SOlebury's Roland Massimino was second in the Class AA boy's division after a 77-72--149 effort.

In girls play, Pennsbury's Jackie Rogowicz shot 75-79--153 to place 5th in Class AAA action behind Radnor's Brynn Walker, who outlasted Canon-McMillan's Lauren Waller in a playoff for the title after each finished at 146. Council Rock North's Madeline Herr was seventh after a 78-77--155 effort. New Hope-Solebury's Nina Kouchi was sixth in Class AA play at 90-82--172.

Ramesh became the first Pennsbury player since Russ Elkan claimed the coveted crown at Hershey Parkview in 1975 with a 148 two-day score. Also winning from Lower Bucks have been Council Rock's Brian Killough (1981) and Jon Rusk (1997). Other notable state champions have been Arnold Palmer (1946, 1947) and Jay Sigel (1960, 1961).

Council Rock North's Erica Herr, now competing at Wake Forest, is a two-time girls' state champion.