GolfTheMidAtlantic.com's 2003 Awards - Looking Back To The Rainy Season

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Photos By Jeff Janas and Jeffrey A. Rendall

 

MARCH, 2004 – Spring is in the air.  Finally, after a winter’s sized dose of frostbite, gray skies and colorless landscape, the trees are starting to bud, the temperature’s golfing friendly and the days are getting longer.  Here in the Mid-Atlantic, it’s time to actually start doing what we’ve been watching on TV for the last four months – playing some golf.

 


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We didn't see the sun a lot in 2003, but here at Wintergreen's Devil's Knob, the sun and flowers were out for all to enjoy.

During the off-season we’ve logged the miles on the ‘ol exercise bike, studied our swing videos and tried to keep the spare pounds under control -- and now there’s a chance to get some real experience and exercise.  Hopefully everything was in order when you packed the clubs away last fall -- it’s a good thing the cart attendant at the last course you visited cleaned your clubs, because now they’re ready to go!  Pull ‘em out of the closet and head for the course.

 

But before we embark on the 2004 season, we’ll take a step back and recognize those who helped make 2003 a successful and memorable year.  Most will probably remember 2003 as the year of the monsoon, then the hurricane, but in between we managed to play some great golf on some very soggy fairways.  Never before was owning waterproof footwear more important.

 

In years past, we’ve tried to do our ‘awards’ a bit differently.  Golf publications are full of ‘best course’ designations and lists, so we’ll leave that to the other folks.  As we’ve sought to present more personalized golf coverage on GolfTheMidAtlantic.com, we’ll personalize the ‘awards,’ too.


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Golf the way it was meant to be -- beautiful and peaceful. Here, the view from Penn National's Founders Course.

 

Disclaimer:  there are far too many people to recognize in a format like this, and rather than take the easy way out and spotlight no one, we’ll take the risk of leaving someone out!  All we can do is send our apologies and try to do better next year.  One note – the nominations are open only to those places we visited in 2003.  Many of 2002’s winners would certainly qualify for a serious look at repeating in 2003, but we can’t consider them because we didn’t actually play there.

 

As always, we’re not taking recommendations, have no set categories and our votes solely determine the winners.  Autocracy defined.  At least you’ll know who to send the complaints to if your favorites didn’t win.  In that spirit, let’s begin!

 


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The Golden Horseshoe Gold Course's par threes are world famous. Here, you can see why.

The Winner(s) For ‘Best Technical Contribution’ to GolfTheMidAtlantic.com in 2003:  Jason Willetts and Russell Anderson.  As we’ve noted before (and you’ve certainly noticed), GolfTheMidAtlantic.com underwent a major transformation over the past season.  That change didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t accomplished without some major know-how making it work.  We first heard about Russell’s group, Affordable Creative Services, from his radio advertising on WMAL radio.  Russell’s people designed the new layout, then Jason and his assistants (Willetts Systems) wrote the code.  It’s nice to provide a list of ‘I wants,’ and have them carried out, to the letter.  Many thanks to Russell, Jason and their companies who helped create the ‘new’ GolfTheMidAtlantic.com.

 

Special mention also goes to last year’s ‘technical’ winner, Samantha Drennan.  Samantha helped with creating the concept of GolfTheMidAtlantic.com, answering all the tough questions and challenges along the way.  Needless to say, without her help, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

 

The Winner For ‘Good Guy of the Mid-Atlantic Golf Scene’:  Glen Byrnes.   Glen’s a two-time winner in our ‘Director of Golf of the Year’ category, and though he certainly deserves re-consideration there, we thought giving him a different designation in 2003 might provide a little variety.  Glen heads up the first-rate team at the Golden Horseshoe in Colonial Williamsburg, which includes some other mighty fine gentlemen (‘guys’) in their own rights, Jeff Winters and Del Snyder.  Glen’s always quick to help with questions, and provides timely advice and insight whenever it’s called for.


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West Virginia's Pete Dye Club defies description, so we'll let the images do the talking.

 

And we’re not the only ones who think highly of him – distinguished golf architect Rees Jones (who designed the Horseshoe’s Green Course and oversaw the renovation of the Gold Course) said Glen’s the nicest guy he’s ever met.  Here’s to you, Glen – thanks for everything.

 

This isn’t a category that should go solo with recognition, for there are too many ‘good’ people to name only one.  Honorable mention to Kelley Davidson at Wintergreen Resort – Kelley’s another constant supporter of our efforts, and it’s been a pleasure working with him and his staff on several projects – namely Frankee Love, Mike Mayer, Lance Reynolds and David Bartholomew.

 


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The 12th hole at Cannon Ridge. Don't forget your camera.

And, like last year, further mention goes to Judy Watkins (a ‘good gal’) of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.  When we first dreamed up the idea of starting a regional on-line golf publication, Judy immediately offered her assistance and support – and it’s been there ever since.  She features one of GolfTheMidAtlantic.com’s Virginia articles every month on the Virginia state website (www.Virginia.org), and therefore gives us a lot of additional exposure.

 

Additional honors to Rick Zarlengo, now at Cannon Ridge Golf Club, for his instruction article contributions to the publication; Mike Tanner for his excellent work in covering North Carolina’s Outer Banks; Kevin Gaydosh (last year’s winner) for his hard work and support; and Phil Owenby at Kinloch Golf Club, this writer’s favorite golf club.  Phil was gracious enough to allow us to play at Kinloch over Labor Day weekend, which was a big thrill, once again.

 

The Winner For ‘Most Articulate Head Golf Professional’:  Bob Baldassari of Cannon Ridge Golf Club.  In what’s become one of the most popular categories (and a competitive one!), Bob takes the 2003 nod.  This admittedly is a subjective category, but Bob’s passion for Cannon Ridge and golf in general came through generously in his interview, and he tells a good story, too.  Maybe it’s because he’d just returned from Ireland when we talked with him (and hence, in an exceptional mood), but Baldassari was literally gushing with praise on his new facility (well deserved, I might add).


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Arthur Hills, with a little help from nature, created Maryland National.

 

Honorable mention goes to Steve Clark at the new Old Hickory Golf Club.  It was a close contest between Steve and Bob, because Clark was just as forthcoming with enthusiasm about his new Tim Freeland designed gem in Woodbridge, Virginia.  We’d talked with Clark the previous years when he was at Raspberry Falls (same ownership group), and we figured he’d ‘articulate’ the best attributes of Old Hickory very well.  He didn’t disappoint.

 

The Winner For ‘Best Director of Golf’:  Bart Wolfe of Somerset Golf Club.  To say that Bart impressed us is an understatement – he’s not originally from the area, but made it his own when he took over Somerset early last year.  He took the time to give us a personal playing tour of the ‘new’ Somerset Golf Club, supplying good commentary with excellent company along the way.  Bart also hits the longest ball you’ll ever see – I don’t care if you’re a regular follower of the PGA Tour – go see this guy hit a driver.  350 yard dogleg par fours beware (but he’s been known to stress-fracture a shaft here and there)!

 


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Congressional Country Club's Gold Course received very little acclaim until Arthur Hills arrived to fix it up.

Honorable mention goes to Bill Klimkiewicz at Penn National.  Penn National is one of those places you’ll hear about at a golf show or possibly in an advertisement, but certainly deserves more ‘buzz’ than that.  It’s set in the middle of southern Pennsylvania farm country, and offers two very distinct and enjoyable layouts.  Klimkiewicz (known as ‘Bill K’) has served many years at Penn National, and he’s set the tone for the club, encouraging visitors to come ‘play it again.’  And he’s a nice guy, too.

 

Further mention to Doug Rook at Lansdowne, John Lyberger at Congressional Country Club (thanks for having us), Dennis Winters of Ruark Golf (Links at Lighthouse Sound and Rum Pointe), Mike Ahrnsbrak (Musket Ridge) and Mark Herrmann at Hog Neck.

 

The Winner For ‘Greatest Ownership Vision’:  Deane Beman at Cannon Ridge.  With Beman winning as co-owner (along with Gary Schaal, past President of the PGA of America) of Cannon Ridge, and Bob Baldassari winning in the ‘Articulate Head Professional’ category, that makes Cannon Ridge the ‘Lord of the Rings’ of GolfTheMidAtlantic.com awards for 2003.  But this was actually an easy one, since the Cannon Ridge project, together with Larry Silver’s Celebrate Virginia, really is quite a ‘vision’ indeed.  In what will be one of the State’s most ambitious tourism and business partnerships, Celebrate Virginia (Cannon Ridge is the golf component) seeks to represent the best of the Old Dominion State.  They’ve certainly got a good start, and who better to head a group developing the golf courses than the former PGA Tour Commissioner?  Beman’s the right man for the job.


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Stonewall Resort in West Virginia offers quite a lot to do -- and the golf isn't bad, either.

 

Like last year, honorable mention goes to Cliff Boyd at Virginia National.  Though Boyd’s ‘vision’ for Virginia National is a bit more limited than Beman’s for Cannon Ridge, it’s still a valuable one, nonetheless.  Boyd set out to make the best golf course he possibly could, and put a lot of personal effort into the endeavor.  He’s the epitome of someone who desired to provide a service to the public, and did it.

 

Same for Tom Ruark of Ruark Golf (Lighthouse Sound and Rum Pointe).  When compiling golf reviews, it’s certainly obvious when an owner has played a major role in the story behind the facility – and Dennis Winters, Arthur Hills and PB Dye were enthusiastic in their praise of Ruark, a real estate developer who put golf first.  Well done.

 


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The secret's out on eastern Maryland's Hog Neck Golf Course, and don't keep it to yourself.

The Winner For ‘Best Course Architect for the Mid-Atlantic Region’: 

Arthur Hills.  Hills has quietly entrenched himself in the Mid-Atlantic, and though his work is subtle to the eye, his accomplishments have been bold indeed.  In and around Washington, DC, anyone can play at Maryland National, Blue Mash and Waverly Woods, all north of the Potomac.  But Hills is also well known in Capital circles for his work in renovating many of the city’s legendary private clubs.  We saw his work at Congressional Country Club’s Gold Course last April, and were very impressed.

 

Honorable mention to the firm of Ault, Clark & Associates (2001’s winner, and probably the most pervasive presence in all of the Capital area), Pete Dye, who continues to amaze us every time we see one of his creations; Tom Fazio (who also gives a great interview), the Palmer Design team, who built Stonewall Resort in West Virginia and the new course at Dominion Valley; Lindsay Ervin, designer of Queenstown Harbor and Hog Neck; Rees Jones; Lester George and Tim Freeland, who’s made a name for himself at Raspberry Falls, Musket Ridge and flying ‘solo’ at Old Hickory.

 


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Pinehurst Resort's Course 2 will host the 2005 US Open, but you can still play it before and after, without being a member of the club.

The Winner For ‘Best Newcomer in the Mid Atlantic’:  Stonewall Resort in West Virginia.  Stonewall Resort’s one of those places you know is special just from the drive onto the property.  It’s not flashy with huge sand bunkers, dramatic mounding or cut through stands of hundred-year-old hardwoods.  But its gently rolling waves of green weaving in, around, up and over its hilly landscape – will leave you remembering it.  Add in the famous West Virginia hospitality and it’s a no-brainer.  Kudos to Randy Hernly and the staff, as well as Palmer Course Design for ensuring the trip to central West Virginia a very worthwhile one.

 

Honorable mention goes to Old Hickory Golf Club, Cannon Ridge Golf Club and the ‘new’ Somerset Golf Club, which didn’t just open, but it might as well have.  Somerset literally came back from the dead in 2003 with a new design and best of all, a fresh attitude.

 

The Winner For ‘Best Kept Secret’:  Hog Neck Golf Course in Easton, Maryland.  It baffles me how a golf course that’s almost thirty years old and sits beside a well-traveled highway can be considered a ‘secret,’ but Hog Neck qualifies.  This Talbot County owned and operated course is one of the finest pure golf experiences you’ll see in the Mid-Atlantic, but resides in a sparsely populated area – and most of that traffic along Route 50 is either going to, or returning from, the beaches on the eastern shore.  With completely new greens, Hog Neck now has conditions to match its outstanding layout.  Go there and discover it for yourself.

 

For private clubs, the 'secret' award goes to The Pete Dye Club in Bridgeport, West Virginia.  The Dye club’s not really a secret, so to speak, since it’s reasonably well known to golf enthusiasts in the region.  But its somewhat remote location (to a large population center, at least) makes it a bit of an anomaly in the Mid-Atlantic.  For those fortunate enough to be members and play it on a regular basis – you’re lucky, indeed.

 

Our final category:  The Winner For ‘Best of the Best’:  Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.  They don’t call it the ‘Home of Golf’ for nothing.  Pinehurst is so special that you almost feel like you have to wipe your feet before treading on its fairways.  The legend of Donald Ross and the multitude of important golf historic events that have taken place there – not to mention the outstanding golf courses and blushingly attentive service – will have you leaving with a satisfied feeling (and hankering to go back).  Pinehurst again will welcome the game’s finest players next year for the 2005 US Open, and now’s a good time to head down there to try it out for yourself.

 

Thus concludes our GolfTheMidAtlantic.com 2003 awards ‘show.’  Once again, we’re at a loss to mention everyone who’s meant so much to what we did last year, and we apologize to those who failed to be recognized.  The fact is, there are so many great people and places to visit in this region that it’s not possible to mention them all in one setting.  But that’s one of the best things about having GolfTheMidAtlantic.com and its archives — there’s ‘honorable mention’ found throughout.


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Here’s a hearty thanks for all who did so much in 2003 to make GolfTheMidAtlantic.com what it is — the Mid Atlantic’s on-line golf authority!



Related Links   Comments on this article?
Maryland National Golf Club
Hollow Creek Golf Club
Rocky Gap Resort
PB Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville
Whiskey Creek Golf Club
E-mail Jeff Rendall, Editor:
jrendall@golftheunitedstates.com