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

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.

 

Radick claims 5th NVCC championship

Written by Bob Oliver on .

One thing is certain these days at Northampton Valley Country Club: If the club championship is going on, Jonathon Radick will be in the thick of it. The 2014 season was no exception, as Radick claimed his fifth NVCC men's club championship with a strong effort in the finals beating Matt Kothe.

Radick set up his three-peat by storming to a six-up lead after 18 holes of their 36-hole finale. Kothe, however, didn't led down. He cut the lead in half before Radick won the 33rd and 34th holes of the day to claim the championship. He also won the 2004 and 2009 championships.

Dave Drabot captured the First Flight championship, defeating J.J. Johnson, 3 and 2. "Dave was a par machine today," stated Johnson.

Mike Conway claimed the Second Flight championship over Eric Green, 5 and 4, while in the Senior D Flight Dr. Edward Betof nipped Henry Vogt in a tight match, 2 and 1.

"As always, the competition was tough," explained head golf professional Vin Ciarlone. "This is the highlight event of the summer."

Drabot, incidentally, claimed a golfer's dream shot on NVCC's 15th hole recently. Playing from the 161-yard tees the 11-handicapper watched his tee shot find its way into the hole for an ace. He used a 5 iron for the shot.

In other action, Jonathon Radick teamed with uncle John "Buff" Radick to capture the NVCC Member-Member championship with a sparkling 4-under-par 31-35--66 effort. John Schikal and Brian Bohlman teamed for the net division title with a 72-112--net 60.

NVCC Notes: The annual Fall Classic is slated for November 9. Details available from the pro shop...Long-time member and champion Herb Rolland retired from competitive play on his recent 90th birthday. He was honored recently at the home of Paul Edwards, last year's senior flight champion...In Pinehurst, NC, the NVCC duo of Jeff and Kevin Hilton claimed their division of the Pinehurst Member-Guest. At Pinehurst No. 5, they combined for a gross 71, while at Pinehurst No. 6 they scored a 73. With handicap their net team total was 31-30--61.  

 

Bucks crowns club champions

Written by Bob Oliver on .

 

Cheryl Seamans is making it a habit to win women’s club championships at Spring Mill Country Club. The former Pennsylvania State Women’s Amateur Champion won her sixth Spring Mill crown in 2013. Previously, Seamans captured the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011 titles.

 

But Seamans wasn’t the only area player to add to the club championship resumes. Jonathan Radick added a fourth title to his trophy case, having won the 2004, 2009, 2012 and 2013 men’s titles at Northampton Valley. Lookaway saw Joanna Neely claim a fourth women’s title, having also won in 2004, 2007 and 2009.

 

At Yardley, Chris Ault claimed title number three, adding to crowns he claimed in 2009 and 2012, while Bensalem Township saw Steve Gerhart regain the title he also won in 2010 and 2011. Myla Sklar won the woman’s crown at Philmont, a title she also won in 2010 and 2013.

 

A number of players successfully defended the crowns they won in 2012, including Joseph Gunerman (Jericho National) and Neil Gordon (Five Ponds) among men and Veronica Howell (Doylestown) among women.

 

Roc Irey scored in 2013, adding to the title he won in 2010 at Lookaway, while Zach Smith won at Doylestown after claiming his first crown in 2009. Dave Gardener won at Middletown, adding to his 2010 crown.

 

Men’s first time winners included Charles Jones (Bucks Club), Connor Sharp (Torresdale-Frankford), Patrick Welsh (Makefield Highlands), Zachary Low (Trenton) and Chris Crawford (Spring Mill).  Women winning for the first time included Emily Garrett (Bucks Club), Theresa Roberts (Jericho National) and Karen Klemp (Yardley).

 

Twelve-time club champion Glenn Smeraglio (9 at Yardley, 2 at Mercer Oaks, 1 at Commonwealth National) title find a place for number 13, but did capture his 8th Mercer Metropolitan Open.