By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Photos By Jeffrey A. Rendall and Kevin Gaydosh
February, 2006 – It’s amazing how every year’s different, and it’s more than a cliché to say that you learn something new everyday. So far, 2006 has been a study in contrast, from living through the warmest January on record to the most recent snowstorm, which reminded us of exactly where we live (in a geographic sense), and when we’re at on the calendar.
Wintertime’s a great time of year to look back, and here at GolfTheMidAtlantic.com, 2005 provided the most distinctive year in our history. As usual, we saw quite a few new things and experienced some of the old, but the year also provided a unique opportunity to take a look at what’s overseas – both literally (in Hawaii, Jamaica and Mexico), and figuratively, as we saw at Bandon Dunes in Oregon.
|2005 was an important year for professional golf in the Washington area, as Congressional Country Club hosted the Booz Allen Classic in June.|
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t really cooperate in the effort, at least locally. April’s dreary skies and cold temperatures delayed the start of our season, then September and October’s rains postponed it – almost to the point of missing out on several tasty tidbits of area golf offerings. Fortunately, on our trips, we were more than able to make up for the odd local conditions. I believe I speak for most of the locals – they’re happy to see 2005 go, in terms of its mixture of cold and wet, and hot and dry. It was certainly one of the toughest on record for course Superintendents, a season where weeds gained a firm upper hand and players grumbled.
Despite the conditions, 2005 was a good year economically for local courses. After experiencing several years of near stagnant or negative growth, the season saw gains in rounds and visitation. The local economy, reflecting the national trend, rebounded somewhat, and people felt a little more at ease with spending extra income on their favorite pastime. 2006 is looking promising as well, and here’s looking forward to fully booked tee sheets and busy and vigilant course marshals (especially the latter).
With those things in mind, here’s our look back to 2005. At the beginning of every new season, we offer our GolfTheMidAtlantic.com ‘Awards Show.’ It seems every publication/organization has some sort of special acknowledgement for excellence, and we’re no different. But what sets us apart is a unique set of categories and recognitions. And while we don’t send out certificates, plaques, medals or statues to the winners, we’ve found that the titles themselves do carry some prestige, as we’ve been told on numerous occasions!
|Michael Campbell played the most consistently at Pinehurst #2, richly deserving the 2005 US Open trophy. Photo Courtesy of the USGA.|
We’re grateful for the attention, and by all means, we appreciate the effort that so many gave to helping us report the best in golf to the readers.
As always, we offer this 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 along our apologies and try to do better next year. One note – the nominations are open only to those places we visited in 2005. Many of 2004’s winners would certainly qualify for a serious look at repeating in 2005, but we can’t consider them because we didn’t actually play there last year.
With no further delay, let’s raise the curtain!
|Lansdowne resort's Norman Course was one of the most important and impressive openings in 2005. Here, the par three 18th hole.|
The Winner For ‘Best Technical Contribution’ to GolfTheMidAtlantic.com in 2005: Shari Rendall. In what’s always a very ‘personal’ category, last year’s winner is the unsung hero behind the publication, doing many of the little things that don’t show up in black and white on press day. Shari does a bit of everything – writes, edits, marketing, photo editing, photography, and helps plan the calendar. She also helps with the onsite visits by enabling the rest of us to go and do what we need to do – while taking care of the logistical hassles. Often a thankless job, here’s a little recognition in a desperately needed area.
Honorable mention goes to our web designer and programmer, Jason Willetts and his staff for troubleshooting, listening, creating and just plain working hard. Jason’s an American success story, a small business owner in western Maryland who’s taken a smart concept and honed it into a thriving and growing entity.
The Winner For ‘Good Guy of the Mid-Atlantic Golf Scene’: Fred Funk. PGA Tour star Funk lives in Florida, travels the world while on Tour and probably doesn’t get up this way very much, but there’s no denying that he made a major contribution to the local golf scene in 2005, and there’s also no doubting that he’s a ‘good guy.’
|Laurel Hill's been nominated for a slew of awards in major golf publications. It's already won one from GolfTheMidAtlantic.com.|
Funk’s perhaps taken the long road to notoriety when it comes to success on the big Tour, but he’s native to the area and his good-natured, crowd pleasing personality has made him a fan favorite inside and outside the ropes. But it was perhaps his victory at last year’s Players’ Championship that truly made him a household name across the country – and his appearance in September at the Presidents Cup gave everyone another opportunity to cheer for him.
We caught up with Fred shortly before his Players’ victory, and he was happy to share his time and thoughts about his role in golf, as well as his chances for success. A true ‘good guy,’ he also serves on the Board of Governors for our local Booz Allen Classic and continues to call our Washington DC area ‘home’ in his thoughts. Great job, Fred.
Honorable mention goes to Lee Koukes of Piedmont Country Club in Haymarket. Lee’s a longtime follower of GolfTheMidAtlantic.com, always forthright with suggestions and a tireless promoter of the Cold War Museum (and the golf tournament fundraiser on its behalf). An instructor of the game, when Lee heard that I’d been having some golf swing woes, he generously volunteered his time, vowing to ‘fix me’ in about five minutes. I’m happy to say, he got me going on the road to recovery, and the game’s fun again. Thanks, Lee, for being a ‘good guy.’
|Pine Needles recently underwent a major restoration, and is all set to host the 2007 US Women's Open. Here, the 4th tee.|
Further mention goes to our perennial ‘good guy’ favorites, Glen Byrnes of the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, Bob Baldassari of Cannon Ridge and GolfTheMidAtlantic.com Contributor Kevin Gaydosh for their friendship, advice and talents. 2005 was an odd year in another way – it was the first season we didn’t play one of our favorite courses, the Gold Course at the Golden Horseshoe… but we were still able to talk with Glen several times.
The Winner For ‘Most Articulate Head Golf Professional’: Scott Purpura of Lansdowne Resort. We’ve run across Scott for several years now, and I’ve had the chance to interview him on a few different occasions – and have always been impressed with his descriptive talents. But what put him over the top for this most-coveted of individual awards was a chat I had with him on a snowy day in December, talking about Lansdowne’s brand new Norman Course.
Scott tells a good story, which will certainly be reflected in the upcoming review of the golf course – but his great sense of humor is what sets him apart, and above, in the ‘articulate’ sense. Humble and honest at the same time, you just get a feel for his golf courses when he describes them, and he’s a big part of the reason why Lansdowne provides one of the finest golf experiences in the Mid-Atlantic.
|Jack Nicklaus joins Arnold Palmer on the eastern shore in Virginia at Bay Creek. Well worth the drive to get there.|
Honorable mention goes to Frank Nobilo of the Golf Channel. Though technically not a ‘Head Golf Professional,’ the longtime PGA Tour veteran from New Zealand qualifies handsomely in the ‘Articulate’ category. Nobilo was kind enough to volunteer his thoughts on the Presidents Cup in September, allowing us to offer an exclusive look into the event that other regional publications couldn’t match. Nobilo’s been there before, and seeing him on TV reminds us that it’s important to hear from someone who’s walked in the shoes of the leaders.
The Winner For ‘Best Director of Golf’: Edward Armentrout at The Vista Links. Here, too, we’re bending the ‘title’ part of this award, because Armentrout’s official title is General Manager and Head Golf Professional. ‘Director’ or not, Armentrout wins in 2005 because of his incredible enthusiasm and drive to make this new publicly owned golf course the best it possibly can be.
The Vista Links is a Rick Jacobson designed course in Buena Vista, Virginia, just a stone’s throw away from Lexington in the Shenandoah Valley. It’s an area that many people drive through, and the thinking behind building the course was to increase the area’s appeal to the thousands of tourists who pass by. Armentrout is determined to mold the Vista Links into the type of facility that demands a stop and stay along the way. If effort counts, then he’ll meet those objectives very soon.
|Carroll Valley is only a short drive away, but once you get there, it 'feels' far enough, indeed.|
Honorable mention goes to Chip King of Pine Needles/Mid Pines in Southern Pines, North Carolina. King has the luxury to preside over two of the United States’ best Donald Ross original golf courses – and both have an illustrious history to match their outstanding reputations. But nothing this fine could be accomplished without the loving care and attention of someone like King, and the terrific ownership contributions of Peggy Kirk Bell. Pine Needles will host the 2007 US Women’s Open, and is yet another reason why the greater Pinehurst area is sacred ground to those who love golf.
The Winner For ‘Greatest Ownership Vision’: Fairfax County Park Authority for Laurel Hill, in Lorton. In a year of firsts, this is the first time we’ve ever gone outside the norm and named a government entity the winner in any category. Frankly, the term ‘muni’ carries with it too many negative connotations. But like the Vista Links above, Laurel Hill bucks the stereotype of ‘muni’ in a big way – and most of the credit must go to the folks at the Fairfax County Park Authority for dreaming up one of the largest and grandest renovation projects in the Washington area.
Led by Tim Scott, the Park Authority is leading the way in turning the former Lorton Prison grounds into a recreational playground for the County’s constituents. Everyone who used to drive past Lorton in the old days and cringe at the thought of a prison being in our backyards must join us in glee at the way the land’s being ‘reclaimed’ for golf and other community interests, including the future site of the Cold War Museum.
|Sergio Garcia wasn't known for his putting during the 2005 season, but at Congressional Country Club, his flat stick was nothing but magic to win the Booz Allen Classic.|
For that reason, Fairfax County deserves a load of credit.
Honorable mention goes to the Forbes family at Packsaddle Ridge, near Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley. Bruce and Jeff Forbes have taken a stunning and rugged piece of land and turned it into one of the region’s most challenging tests. Soak in the beauty of the surroundings, admire its historical past and gaze at the views – and a good time is assured.
The Winner For ‘Best Course Architect for the Mid-Atlantic Region’ in 2005:
|It had a bit of a rough re-opening, but the River Course of Virginia Tech will certainly shine when it's fully back in shape.|
Bill Love. Here’s another shout to Laurel Hill, as architect Bill Love wins the award for his work on the course. Long known as one of the region’s environmental specialists, Love took the site of a former dairy farm and laid out a golf course that’s pleasing to the eye, sensitive to the property’s streams and challenging to players of all levels. Love is the first one to say he didn’t do it alone – in fact, he gives all the credit to the folks at the Park Authority and to Course Superintendent Rick Owens – but golf holes don’t design themselves.
Love’s also done great work at Penn National, Lee’s Hill and Hunting Hawk, amongst others. You don’t get ‘lucky’ four times, Bill. Great work.
Honorable mention goes to Rick Jacobson for his design at The Vista Links. Jacobson’s acquired a well deserved reputation for molding terrific visual layouts on reasonable budgets – and he’s done some of his best work at Vista. Rick worked for Jack Nicklaus before heading out on his own, and his hands-on nature provides just the right touch to the courses that he works on. Here’s another good one in the Shenandoah Valley.
|The Vista Links, in Buena Vista, Virginia, is long on beauty and a good bargain at the same time.|
The Winner For ‘Best Kept Secret’: Carroll Valley Resort in Pennsylvania. Carroll Valley is tucked away about fifteen minutes west of Gettysburg, at the base of Ski Liberty, and probably more well known for wintertime recreation than for golf, despite being decades old and offering one of the most peaceful settings for golf anywhere. This place feels like you’re nestled deep into the mountains – a great place to ‘get away,’ yet is about a two hour drive from metro Washington, DC.
The resort offers two golf courses, the Carroll Valley Course and Mountain View Course – and while neither will wow you with all the latest gadgetry of more contemporary designs, both are solid in the enjoy-ability sense, and provide beautifully serene surroundings. Both can easily be played in the same day, and still leaves time to take a drive around Gettysburg Battlefield – I know from experience.
Honorable mention goes to the Roanoke area and its golf product. Though we’ve only seen two of its golf courses (River Course of Virginia Tech and Hanging Rock) and stayed at a hotel (Mountain Lake Hotel) that’s a solid 45-minute drive from either, this southwestern part of Virginia is rich in quality and value for golfers, family travelers and those just looking to find a nearby place to try and do something a little different. ‘Tech alums know this area well, but it’s a ‘secret’ to a lot of other people. It shouldn’t be.
|Packsaddle Ridge provides quite a journey up, down and over hills, but also showcases its historical past.|
Further recognition to Bay Creek’s new Nicklaus Course and Virginia Beach in general. Bay Creek made headlines a few years ago when its Palmer Course made its debut, and now the quality’s been doubled with the opening of Jack’s layout. Beautiful and characteristically challenging, it’s destined to be a star, just like its older sibling. Meanwhile, as we’ve mentioned before, Virginia Beach is a terrific place to vacation – and it’s more than just a great tan!
The Winner For ‘Best of the Best’: The Pinehurst Area. As mentioned above, we made a trip to Pine Needles/Mid Pines to check out its two Donald Ross classics. But that trip over Labor Day was our second to Pinehurst in 2005, having first gone there in June to cover the US Open at Pinehurst Resort’s own classic Ross designed course, Pinehurst #2.
For pure golf enthusiasts, there are few places anywhere that can match the depth and quality of golf offered in the sandy surrounds of the Pinehurst area (which includes Southern Pines and other small towns, seemingly connected by golf courses). In addition to covering the US Open, we also attended Pinehurst Resort’s Wine Fest as well (in September).
|One of the more memorable walks in golf, moving up the 18th fairway towards the Inn at Mid Pines.|
Pinehurst calls itself ‘The Home of Golf,’ and that’s no exaggeration, and the reason why the whole area down there an hour south of Raleigh in the central part of North Carolina is the ‘Best of the Best’ for 2005.
We would be remiss without mentioning our extra-regional travel in 2005, as it occupied much of our time and attention during the year – and although these places are not eligible for consideration in our ‘Mid-Atlantic’ awards, they’re valuable to our publication in a host of different ways. Taking a look at these destinations provides new perspective for what we have here at home – and we’re all very fortunate that it seems like wherever we go, there’s always a great place to tee it up.
We had a lot of fun in Hawaii and Oregon, as well as Palm Desert over Thanksgiving and on our first cruise over the Christmas/New Year’s holidays. And we’ll continue to bring you those stories as well.
Thus concludes our GolfTheMidAtlantic.com 2005 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.
Here’s a hearty thanks for all who did so much in 2005 to make GolfTheMidAtlantic.com what it is — the Mid Atlantic’s on-line golf authority!
Check the links below for a sampling of stories from the 2005 season.
|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: