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

"The Dirty Thirty" makes debut

Written by Bob Oliver on .

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

Courageous Brentz blasts to paralong drive title

Written by Bob Oliver on .

 

MESQUITE, NV --- The world is complete with folks who have a diverse set of views on just about anything. To some, the glass is half full, while others believe it’s half empty.

Jared Brentz is generally an optimist. But after his final round at “The Grid” here at the ParaLong Drive World Championships the 26-year-old Murfreesboro (near Nashville) resident had the look generally associated with defeat.

“I just felt I hadn’t done it, I didn’t think I’d hit the ball where I wanted to hit it,” said the highly competitive and internally motivated Brentz, who last May cranked a paralong drive world record 409 yards in winning a third national title and regularly bombs 350-yarders. “I know I didn’t hit it as far as earlier in the day, I wasn’t sure I’d hit the winner.”

A small smile appeared shortly after when it was announced his drive of 340 yards was good enough to win the world championship over a field which included nearly 50 inspiring competitors.

Brentz clipped runner-up Tim Herrmann of Minnesota by six yards in the world finals.

In long drive competition, players get less than three minutes to hit six drives that must come to rest on the grid to be counted. Competitors are hitting two or three to a group in the same timeframe, so one doesn’t really watch what others are doing.

“But, we can hear others, we can here the crowd when someone cranks one,” commented Anthony Netto, the paramobile 2-arm champion who claimed his division with a 289-yard blast. “You have a sense of what’s happening while you are hitting.”

In a sport where each of the competitors has a severe physical condition, Brentz has never been one who says “why me” or simply “why”, choosing instead to say why not. He’s faced more challenges than can be imagined, and while not always successful he knows deep down he tried his best.

Born with a condition known as arthrogryposis and club feet, he lived with that condition - and three surgeries along the way - until just after his 12th birthday. Then came the enormous decision: continue the pain and struggles of the disease with the alternative of amputation of both legs below the knees.

Wise and confident beyond his years when his parents and doctors described the alternatives, Brentz selection Option B and began a new life that, after extensive rehabilitation resulted in his playing for the high school varsity wresting and golf teams.

“There’s just something about me, when someone says I can’t do something, I turn it around and tell them to watch me. I love a challenge,” said the world champion paralong driver. “Today, well, this is really something.”

It was something as the assembled fans and media – The Golf Channel had a team to chronicle the event – can attest. Competitor after competitor entered the grid a smoked drives that would embarrass most of us. These guys and gals are long, uber long, ultra long.

And to a person they not only have a competitive spirit but are generally at rest with their physical challenge. 

Champions were crowned in 20 divisions, and overall champion Brentz found himself interviewed in prime time on The Golf Channel.

“That’s kinda cool, but the big story here isn’t me it’s all the competitors,” said the champion, who also won his division (two leg amputated below knees) with a 360-yard poke.

True, but he can’t deny his performance was not only stellar but inspiring.

“This trophy obviously means a lot to me, it’s a great accomplishment and I am proud to have it in my possession. Yet I know the real winners are all the competitors. They are all special in what they do.”

Assembled and competing were wounded warriors, victims of accidents of all kinds, from both sexes and ages. There was a blind division, a paramobile grouping and long drivers who blasted 300-yard pops with one arm by itself or with the aid of a second arm device.

Courage was the key word of the event, as each and every competitor displayed the guts that spring boarded a sense of optimism. Being there and competing made everyone a winner, clearly, but the bottom line was that these guys and girls are really good too.

Not a lot of woe is me in the group. Rather, as Brentz said, a sense of we can do this. We can accomplish goals.

Watching the ParaLong Drive Worlds wasn’t just watching a golf event. It was an inspirational story about dedication, desire and courage.

ParaLong Drive Blasts: Three-year-old Tommy Morrissey started the final day activities at the Mesquite Sports and Entertainment Complex with a ceremonial first drive. The one-arm youngster recently appeared on the “Ellen” television show and is quite a character…Bryce Brantz, Jared's twin brother, plays professional baseball including 9 games this year with the Boston Red Sox...Josh Williams won the one-leg below knee division with a  322-yard blast…The Casablanca and Eureka Resorts were among the stellar Mesquite businesses hosting the event…Ten countries were represented at the championships.