Golf writers tackle TPC, course wins

When a professional golfer tees it up on Tour, let it be known that that particular course is not an easy one. The pros are playing the “back” or “gold” tees or those known on the Tour as “the tips.” Members of the Texas Golf Writers Association met for their 13th annual event last week at The Woodlands, just about 15 minutes south of Conroe. It’s an annual tournament that I’ve played since becoming a member of TGWA six years ago. The outing isn’t just for the golfer/writer, but for his spouse/significant other. My wife seems to enjoy the activities as much as I, what with shopping, massages, facials, visiting art galleries, etc. The particular resort hosting the happening is usually among the top in the state in facilities, amenities and hospitality. THE WOODLANDS Resort and Convention Center, headed by general manager Bob Nelson, and Paul Lazzaro, vice president of marketing/public affairs of The Woodlands Operating Co. put on quite an show for event that ran from June 25-27. The city of The Woodlands is a new one. Developed in the mid-1960s and carved out of a forest of tall pine trees, it’s grown to a population of 62,000 and most of them live very well indeed. There are 81 golf holes on the layout with one 18-hole magnificent Jack Nicklaus Signature course to be open in November and another on the drawing board. (The 2 1/2-acre lots on the course go for over $1 million.) But getting back to the pros, they are much better than your run-of-the-mill golf writer. We found that out on Monday during our annual tournament which was played on the TPC The Woodlands. It’s the one the “Big Boys” played last April during the Shell Houston Open. The course measures 6,295 yards from the “whites,” which is not particularly long, but the layout has much gnarly bermuda grass in the rough as well as mucho sand traps and water. The course, of course, is manicured, lush and in excellent shape. The “tips” are a legitimate 7,018 yards, which, of course, is a ton. I WON’T GO INTO the handicap system, etc., but most of us are within 10-15 strokes of being the same in talent. When the scores were posted, the numbers were mostly in the 90s and 100s. My cart partner was Harry Phillips, editor/publisher/janitor of the Houston Golf tabloid, along with his charming wife, Mary. They have been married for 54 years. Harry’s really a fun-lover, regardless of his 74 years. We moaned and groaned about our shot-making, but after a while we began laughing. You see, we each carded a 101, the first triple digit score I can recall since my high school days. And I’m sure Harry hasn’t had too many in his entire career. He attended North Texas on a golf scholarship in the late 1940s. Our group played the “white” tees, which is just behind the “red” ladies’ tees and in front of the “tips” and the “blues” that the more advanced golfers utilize. After we finished, Harry and I determined that we had both been disqualified during the round and should not have to live with the indignity of scoring over the century mark. I had inadvertently hit a playing partner’s ball on the second hole, and Harry ran out of balls with some four holes to play. So actually, we should have had a DQ after our names instead of an ugly 101! AFTER PLAY I HAD a tremendous amount of respect for those guys on the PGA Tour. The course record on TPC The Woodlands is 62, set on May 2, 1992 by Fred Funk. The TGWA golfers played two other times on The Woodland courses. On Sunday afternoon we were matched up on The Oaks and Tuesday morning we attempted to master The Palmer course. I had a lengthy discussion with Bob Nelson at our banquet/dinner Monday evening, and he promised that he would play with me sometime in the near future. That is if I ever scrape up enough intestinal fortitude to tackle the TPC track again. (More on the mini-vacation next week or even the week after.)

Leave a Comment