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!


15 Dec

Uh oh, Old Man Winter is here

Written by Steve Gordon



All I can say is that it came too fast. I am sitting here in Lower Bucks County looking out the window at snow blanketing the ground and my push cart and golf clubs are still in the car. Of course yesterday coming out of the grocery store with a weekly cart of food and opening the trunk of the car I wasn’t so happy to see them there.

Not even two weeks ago I was playing golf with friends around here and while we weren’t in shorts and short sleeves we weren’t bundled up like Ralphie in The Christmas Story. You know, the kid who was going to shoot his eyes out with the Red Ryder BB rifle he wanted so badly for a present. Not that it’s related to golf I still have a working Red Ryder.

The bottom line is that there isn’t any golf being played around here with a thin layer of snow left from the other day and now another inch or two coming down. That isn’t unusual for this area but…winter came in too fast and the withdrawal that comes with it for avid golfers.

What is it Charlie Brown says when he gets frustrated? ARRRGH! Well that’s what I have been feeling for the past couple weeks, today and I suppose for the next few months. My long time golfing partner was out west last week playing golf every day and sending me texts with photos while I am here recalling all the new courses we played this past season and a career best round of 76 in the first round of my clubs Super Senior championship.

The snow is pretty and Christmas is a week away and that is all nice and fuzzy. BUT… that only goes so far and when the holiday season is over it becomes just snow that has to be shoveled and navigated on the roads. I don’t mind driving in the snow but these days it seems more and more that people have no clue how to drive in it as they all seemed to when I was growing up. Maybe part of the diving exam should include taking a second driving test in the snow?

Some people like the winter and winter sports and the snow and ice. I actually like snow but as the years pass clearing it away gets to be more of a chore than fun being out in it. As far as winter sports, those days are gone.

I used to take my son sledding to a local golf course with lots of hills. I guess he is on the hook to take his girls now. I’d love to do that with the grandkids but I hate to think of what might happen should the sled flip over dumping me in the snow to roll the rest of the way down the hill. Forget about snapping on a pair of skies. One of the worst falls I ever had was on skies and I got up and walked away. Of course that was 40 or so years ago.

Anyway, here is an avid golfer sitting inside watching a predicted couple inches of snow pile up on the lawn and driveway and no place to go. Well…I’d really like to get some photos of a local railroad running its steam engine on its annual Santa train but that’s not going to happen today.

Remember that aforementioned career best 76. Everything was working pretty well that day and it was great and even the guys I was playing with were happy (to a point) to see me have such a great round of golf. Well as much as I want to forget it I can’t put the second round of the 36-hole tournament to rest when the final tally was 92 where virtually nothing went right and it included an albatross on a simple par three. Don’t ask. I finished second and was pretty bummed out for a day or two about that. Chalk it up to an opportunity missed.

n the bright side there is next year to tee it up and go for the trophy.

Also on the bright side are memories of other very good rounds I had this past season and a bevy of new courses played. My longtime golf partner and I are already thinking ahead to more new courses and golfing together when winter clears out.

I had a couple rounds in the 70’s which is just something to enjoy as that kind of scoring is anomalous to my GHIN handicap. Mostly I scored in the low to mid 80’s with a few rounds in the 90’s and…one round over 100 which came near the end of the season on a coldish windy day.

Working part time at a local golf course as a starter and marshal I get the benefit of off peak time golf so needless to say I played a lot of my golf there, often without a scorecard and not always a full 18 holes. I just like to play golf and score is not always relevant to the enjoyment of being outside with a club in my hand trying to hit a little white ball into a 4 ½ inch hole in the ground.

Away from there my partner and I took road trips. Those road trips are getting longer and longer to play new courses as we’ve played all the local courses we like many times. Some were day trips and a couple required an overnight stay.

I’d have to say the highlight of the road trips was the Reading Country Club where Byron Nelson was once the club pro. It is a 94-year-old Alex Findlay design where the fairways follow the rolling terrain and the greens are pitched for natural drainage. Length wasn’t the challenge on most of the holes, putting your ball in good position on the fairways and greens was the test.

Conversely to the old school golf of Reading, my second favorite road trip was to The Links at Gettysburg. Lindsay Ervin designed this more modern layout that opened in 1999 and is as the name suggests, not far from the site of the epic three day battle in 1863 at Gettysburg during Americas Civil War. Here the challenge was avoiding a lot of water hazards along with some diabolical greens placed on hillsides or dug into the natural red rock of the area.

I played well at both courses and that of course goes a long way to liking a course after a first round.

Around those courses were trips to some old style courses like Hopewell Valley, Berkleigh and return visits to old haunts like the historic Stockton Seaview Resort. A great memory from Seaview this year was a scramble outing in early spring. It was on the Bay Course that annually hosts the LPGA ShopRite Classic.

They announced that anyone over 55 could play the forward senior tees. Well my partner and I just smiled as we were well qualified and within that guideline. The two other players we were paired with were no shows so we each got two shots on every hole. The forward tees on the Bay Course are something like 5200 yards. The bottom line is that with my driving and his wedge play we were rolling in putts all over the place and turned in a winning score of 59. It’s always great to win, but what a fun day that was. More people should play the shorter tees.

Other road trips took me to Rock Manor in Delaware, Royal Oaks in Lebanon, PA, Royal Manchester in Mt. Wolf, PA, Inniscrone in Avondale, PA, Ramblewood in Mt. Laurel, NJ, The Architects Club in Phillipsburg, NJ, Mercer Oaks in West Windsor, NJ, Centerton in Elmer, NJ and return visits Running Deer in Pittsgrove, NJ and River Winds in West Deptford, NJ.

That just scratches the surface of the golf we played that included rounds at old favorite places too numerous to name. They were all good times and the golf scores are mostly secondary.

It’s great to pull up the memories of those rounds on this snowy cold day and it just builds the anticipation of more to come next year. For the time being however the golf clubs are idle as I deal with the withdrawal.

A golfer goes stir crazy this time of year. A golfer, well, wants to play golf. Not practice putting on the living room floor or swings in the garage. It’s not the same as playing the game we love.

But wait…the television Meteorologist said that it’s going to be near 50 degrees next Tuesday.


08 Dec

Will Woods regain excellence?

Written by Bob Oliver
It has been said that there are liars and there are damned liars, stories and stories within the story.
It would clearly not be a lie that Dustin Johnson is currently the well-deserving World Number One golfer, a spot he’s held for nearly a year.
Johnson remains ahead of Jordan Spieth, with Justin Thomas right behind. A stellar season by Jon Rahm boosted him to fourth on the list, while Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Hendrik Stenson and Rory McIlroywound out the top 10.
All are great golfers and they have combined for a bevy of major championships. The are the face of golf’s future.
Clearly the PGA Tour has a bevy of fine young talent. Each week a player emerges in form and dazzles the fans. Yet heading into the Hero World Challenge, an 18-player event in the Bahamas, the buzz was all about one Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.
Remember him?
2017 was a disaster for him, as his reinjured back kept him from competition, playing just one PGA Tour event and one European Tour event before being shelved for the season. Oh, there was that little brush with the law.
He fell to 1,199th in the World Golf Rankings, and there was speculation he might have to leave his sticks in the shed and retire to do whatever an icon does in retirement.
Still, a lot of hard work and a little luck has propelled Tiger back into the spotlight.
He entered the Hero World Challenge with a sponsor’s exemption – given to himself by himself he joked at the time, and there was talk he might not complete four rounds pain free and even if he did hot perform in a Tigerlike way.
Those pundits were incorrect, as Tiger finished in a tie for 9th and looked good doing it. Is he back, only time will tell, but having him back means a great deal for the game of professional golf. Only a couple stumbles in the third round kept him from competing for the title.
The wind one heard around the golf world after that event was the collective breath of relief by the golf industry as he complete a great first step back.
Fact is, Tiger Woods elevates star power to a totally different level. Viewership and readership soars when Tiger is in the field.
This is not a dig at the top-10 listed earlier, or any PGA Tour pro for that matter.
They are fine players, living up to the “These guys are good” slogan.
But none of today’s players bring out the casual golf fan like Tiger. None creates his buzz of excitement. None says to the golf public, watch this event.
The Hero World Challenge has been the highest watched golf event over the 2018 season, which began a couple months back. NBC and The Golf Channel posted significant gains over other golf coverage. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse at Tiger. Everyone had an opinion on whether he’d have a successful return.
Years ago golf fanatics complained it was all Tiger, all the Time, when speaking of golf coverage. Good players were minimized as the cameras focused on Woods.
The Big Cat would be five shots back heading into the second, third or fourth round and the coverage would center around the possibility of him charging and winning.
He won so much, was in contention so often, that the fact that he was playing and contending brought those viewers to the tube.
But statistics don’t lie, as when he plays viewership skyrockets. He alone elevated PGA Tour purses by more than 1000% over the years, and witness the Hero ratings he still brings out the eyeballs
As evidenced by the Hero World Challenge, that star-power has not been dimmed. Tiger brings buzz to an exhibition.
To give some credence to Woods past impact, the 2009 Masters had twice the ratings as the prior British Open (where Tiger missed the cut) and three times the ratings of the 2008 PGA Championship which he missed due to injury.
When Woods is in contention, TV sets are turned on to see how he does. When he’s winning, it’s a bonanza for viewers, sponsors and the PGA Tour. Star power equates to numbers, and Woods brings out the best.
If you are a sponsor of a non-major, you want Tiger in the field, as that translates into thousands of ticket sales. If you are a golf fan, you want him there as added incentive to your golf “watch.”  
With 79 PGA Tour championships and 14 majors, Tiger is not a stranger to the victory circle. But the question is, what about now?
Will Tiger dominate in 2018? No way.
But if he stays injury free, he will contend and bring out his cache and star power.
It is expected he will play a few events prior to the Masters, which will have huge ratings if he could find his way into contention. Most likely he’ll play the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, a venue where he’s claimed seven championship. Likewise the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where a friendly Bay Hill site is close to home and another venue where he’s dominated with eight wins.
At this point, one has to surmise that Tiger’s comeback is week to week, as four rounds do not a season make,
Still, the Hero World Challenge was a good first step to the comeback story, and it’s clear that advertisers, tournament directors and golf fans are holding their breath and hoping it’s a long-lasting return.
Welcome back, Mr. Woods.