Thursday, September 22, 2011
Did anyone notice that the Walker Cup was played for and lost to the UK and Ireland? It attracted little media attention in the USA, but should.
The amateur version of the Ryder Cup national team competition, the Walker and Ryder Cups grew out of the early animosity between American and British and Scottish golfers in the early years of international competition.
When Walter Travis, an American citizen born in Australia, who had won the US Amateur at the Atlantic City Country Club, won the British Amateur, he refused to return to defend his title because of what he considered shabby treatment. John McDermott, the first native born American to win the US Open(1911-12) and ACCC professional didn't fare much better.
McDermott helped inflame the nationalist tone of the competition in 1913 when he declared, after soundly defeating Harry Vardon, Ted Ray and Wilfred Reid at Shawnee that the foreigners wouldn't take the US Open trophy home with them, and they didn't, thanks to amateur caddy Francis Ouimet at Brookline.
But it took Walter Hagen to set the record straight when he refused to compete in tournaments at clubs that refused to allow golf professionals in the clubhouse, thus liberating the pros from their pro shop station.
Clarance Hackney, another Atlantic City Country Club professional who succeeded McDermott in 1914 and remained pro until he died in 1940, was one of the Americans to compete with Hagen in the first pre-Ryder Cup team events that were held between the Americans and the UK.
While Philadelphia department store owner John Wannamaker put the Ryder Cup into formal competition, it was George Herbert Walker - grandfather of the first President Bush who the Walker Cup is named after, for his leadership of the US Golf Association.
The Walker Cup was played for once in South Jersey, at Pine Valley, and this year's event was held at Aberdeen, Scotland, where James "Jolly Jim" Fraser lived before immigrating to America to be a golf professional.
Aberdeen has a long history of golf, and the town Fraser was from is called Fraserburg, where there is a golf club that is the fifth oldest club in Scotland and the seventh oldest in the world.
NEWS REPORTS OF THIS YEAR'S EVENT:
Britain and Ireland won the Walker Cup for the first time since 2003, holding off the U.S. in the afternoon singles for a 14-12 victory on Sunday at Aberdeen, Scotland.
Britain and Ireland took an insurmountable lead when 17-year-old Welshman Rhys Pugh beat U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft, 2 and 1, and Steven Brown halved with Blayne Barber. Paul Cutler than halved with American Patrick Cantlay in the final match of the biennial event between leading amateur players.
The U.S. leads the series, 34-8-1.
Walker Cup is tough act to follow
A stunning Walker Cup marked the start of a series of team matchplay tournaments that will add spice to the golfing calendar following the culmination of the major season.
The Seve Trophy pits the pros of Great Britain and Ireland against Continental Europe this week. Then it is the turn of Europe's professional women to try to overcome the United States in the Solheim Cup.
Pitching an individual sport like golf into a team environment has magical consequences as numerous Ryder Cups have proven and as the Walker Cup dramatically illustrated again atRoyal Aberdeen. GB&I's brilliant 14-12 success gave them victory in the competition for the first time in eight years.
How Alison Nicholas will want to emulate Nigel Edwards as she tries to inspire her European team to Solheim Cup success. It would be a victory that would be just as unexpected as the one celebrated by Edwards and co in Scotland.
If Nicholas is successful, it would also mean that the Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and Solheim Cup all reside on this side of the Atlantic.
Edwards led his young team magnificently against an American side that boasted supposedly the world's best amateur players. The chances of a home win were written off in almost every quarter bar the GB&I team room.
"Did I expect to be sat here winning? Yes, absolutely," Edwards said. "I had had a quiet look at the things people had said and written but I told the boys from the outset that they did not need worry about anyone else.
"All they needed to do was focus on themselves. They are very special and proved that this week. They did a great credit for themselves, their families and their countries."
Edwards led his team with a quiet confidence that gave him an inspiring authority. The Welshman's handling of the foursomes pairings was exemplary, with GB&I losing only one of the eight matches. It was perfect captaincy - and a similar level of leadership can be expected from Paul McGinley when he steers Britain in their defence of the Seve Trophy this week.
This event will not have the same intensity or resonance of the tournaments that sandwich it but it will give us another opportunity to measure McGinley as a potential Ryder Cup captain.
The Irishman was brilliant two years ago and his intelligence and passion for team golf will come to the fore even though the Seve Trophy pales in significance compared with the Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and Solheim Cup.
Much will be made of the absence of big names like Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer andSergio Garcia from this week's match but the fact that players skip the Seve Trophy tells you all you need to know about its true significance.
Should the stay-aways have made more effort to play in the year of the death of the man after whom the trophy is named? Perhaps, but it could be argued this match is a rather artificial memorial to Seve Ballesteros.
Yes, he was at the heart of its inception and it is his name on the trophy but he meant much more to the European game than this contest. It does not capture the imagination of the fans in the way his golf did or other team events do and, in all honesty, never will.
There are many other ways the game can honour the late Ballesteros and those not present in Versailles this week should not be regarded as snubbing his memory.
Indeed, many of them honour it by the standard of their play around the golfing world. No one did more than Ballesteros to demonstrate that there should be no ceiling on European players' ambitions.
This is well worth remembering at a time when the continent provides the top three in the world rankings - Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and McIlroy. Of those, only Westwood is competing in the Seve Trophy.
And while on the subject of team golf, it would be remiss not mention the PGA Cup this week. Great Britain and Ireland's club professionals are bidding to beat their American counterparts on US soil for the first time when they play in California.
Monday, September 5, 2011
In the fall of 1921 Harry Vardon and Ted Ray played an exhibition match against James Fraser and Walter Hagen at Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
Fraser, from Fraserburg, Scotland, was the Seaview Country Club (NJ) professional, whose ten year old son Leo would caddie for him that day. Leo would go on to become the Seaview pro, the owner of the Atlantic City Country Club and an important PGA administrator.
Harry Vardon and Ray Ted, both from the English channel Island of Jersey, were among the first UK professionals to take golf on the road and physically promote the game.
Walter Hagen, the obstinate Yank, would become known as the "great emancipator" for giving the golf professional the status of gentlemen and thus permitted in the club house, from where they were previously regarded as employees. Hagen was the first touring golfer to earn a million dollars.
Vardon, Ray and Hagen won 16 US and British Opens among them.
Ted Ray won the 1912 US Open and 1920 British Open, while Harry Vardon, said to be the greatest ever, won the 1900 US Open and the 1896,1898,1899, 1903, 1911 and 1914 British Opens. Walter Hagen, who would be the first successful touring pro, won the 1914 and 1919 US Opens and 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926 and 1927 British Opens.
James "Jolly Jim" Fraser had played in some early Open tournaments and while primarily a club professional, he was no slough, as Fraser and Hagen won the match with Vardon and Ray, said to be one of only two exhibitions they lost on that tour.
Vardon made three tours of America, playing an exhibition at the Atlantic City Country Club in 1900, and in 1913 was accompanied by Ray and Wilfrid Reid. All three played in the famous Shawnee Tournament and "The Greatest Game" at the U.S. Open at Brookline. Two years later Wilfrid Reid would assume Fraser's job as pro at Seaview when Fraser would be killed in a traffic accident. Reid would also lay out the original Lakeside course at the Olympia Club in San Francisco where the 2012 US Open will played.
The 1921 tournament at Pottstown was played over a course that was part of Hill School, but a few years before this match was played the Brookside Golf Club was formed by the citiens of Pottstown and today it remains a very respectable club rich, with history.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Sand box at the old first tee at the Atlantic City Country Club
Before a black New Jersey dentist invented the wood golf tee, golf balls were placed on small pinches of sand before they were driven with the first shot.
1911-12 US Open Champion John McDermott continued to use pinches of sand even after the golf tee became popular.
The modern tee
An early tee designer who gets a lot of attention today in websites and the popular press is Dr. George Grant, the first black graduate of Harvard's dental school. His version of the tee, patented in 1899, consisted of a vertical rubber tube attached at its base to a carrot-shaped piece of wood. It was not the first-ever golf tee as is often claimed, and in fact did not differ much from the earlier pegs that similarly combined a flexible ball rest and a rigid ground anchor.
Since Grant did not sell or promote his handiwork, it went unnoticed by the golfing public.
George Franklin Grant (September 15, 1846 – August 21, 1910) was the firstAfrican American professor at Harvard. He was also a Boston dentist, and an inventor of a wooden golf tee.
He was born on September 15, 1846 in Oswego, New York to Phillis Pitt and Tudor Elandor Grant.
He attended the Bordentown School for high school.
He entered the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 1868, and graduated in 1870. He then took a position in the department of Mechanical Dentistry in 1871, making him the Harvard University's first African-American faculty member, where he served for 19 years. Grant is also famous for his invention of the oblate palate, which is a prosthetic device he developed for the treatment of the cleft palate. He was a founding member and later the president of the Harvard Odontological Society and was a member of the Harvard Dental Alumni Association. Grant was elected president of the Alumni Association in 1881. He died on August 21, 1910 at his vacation home in Chester, New Hampshire of liver disease.
George Franklin Grant, 1847-1910". Harvard. Retrieved 2007-05-24. "Dr. George Franklin Grant (1847-1910) of Oswego, New York, received a degree from the Harvard Dental School in 1870 and then joined the faculty as an authority on mechanical dentistry. He was the first African-American faculty member at the university and remembered today for his invention and patenting of the golf tee."
New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-21. "He was born on September 15, 1846 in the small town of Oswego, New York, and he was one of seven children born to Phillis Pitt and Tudor Elandor Grant."
The Post-Standard. Retrieved 2007-06-21. "George Franklin Grant is the only one of Tudor E. Grant's four children who left much of a historical trail, but it's an intriguing one, notably for an invention used by millions of golfers. Born in 1847 in Oswego to Tudor and Phillis Pitt Grant, he was educated in Oswego but apparently left home at age 15 after an argument with his father over his taste in clothes. He went to work for an Oswego dentist named S.A. Smith, toiling in a laboratory for five years, according to a Boston Public Library document."
Taylor, Erica. "Little-Known Black History Fact: The Bordentown School", BlackAmericaWeb.com, May 13, 2010. Accessed June 6, 2010.
McDaniel, Pete (2000). "Birth of the tee: The story behind the man who gave the ball the perfect setup - George Franklin Grant, inventor". Bnet. Retrieved 2007-05-24. "Grant was born in 1846 in Oswego, N.Y. Unlike many modern-day heroes, his contribution to the game was through ingenuity and resourcefulness rather than playing ability. Grant received a patent for the golf tee in 1899. His was the blueprint for today's wooden and plastic tees. He owned the first patent, but it took almost a century to receive recognition for his invention."
While the turn of the 19th-20th century saw many tee inventions of various forms and materials, none of these novelties grew popular enough to threaten the centuries-old tradition of the sand tee. That situation began to change in the early 1920s, when New Jersey dentist William Lowell patented and sold a tee that would eventually become standard: the familiar one-piece wooden peg with a funnel-shaped head. The "Reddy Tee," as Lowell called it, was easy and cheap to mass produce, but most important to its success was Lowell's aggressive marketing campaign, which included hiring golf great Walter Hagen to show off the tees while touring.
Because of the Reddy Tee's unprecedented acceptance at both the professional and amateur levels, Lowell was for some time assumed to have been the inventor of the golf tee. More recently it has become fashionable, especially during Black History Month, to give George Grant the credit. Few people are aware of the tees preceding both Grant's and Lowell's, and as of this writing, scant reference to them can be found elsewhere on the Web. For a reasonably complete history, find the bookSingular History of the Golf Tee by Irwin R. Valenta (Greensboro, N.C. : I.R. Valenta, c1995).
William Lowell, Sr. (1863 – June 24, 1954) was a dentist, and an inventor of a wooden golf tee.
William Lowell was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and lived in Maplewood, New Jersey and had a son, William Lowell, Jr. (1897-1976). He first made 5,000 tees, that were stained green, but he soon changed to red, to make them more distinctive and named them "Reddy Tees". In 1922 Walter Hagenand Joe Kirkwood used his tees during their exhibitions. The Reddy Tee was patented on May 13, 1925, but in 1922 he signed a deal with the A.G. SpaldingCompany, for 24 dozen. By 1925 he was selling $100,000 worth of tees and they were being made of celluloid. By 1926 copycat versions were on the market, and he spent much of his time and money fighting patent infringement.
He died at Orange Memorial Hospital in East Orange, New Jersey on June 24, 1954 at the age of 91.
U.S. Patent 1,670,627 golf tee filed December 7, 1925
U.S. Patent 1,650,141 golf tee filed August 26, 1925
U.S. Patent 1,569,765 gold putter filed November 13, 1925
New Jersey, USA
Death: Jun. 24, 1954
William Lowell, Sr. (1863 – June 24, 1954) was a dentist, and an inventor of a wooden golf tee.
William Lowell was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and lived in Maplewood, New Jersey and had a son, William Lowell, Jr. (1897-1976). He first made 5,000 tees, that were stained green, but he soon changed to red, to make them more distinctive and named them "Reddy Tees". In 1922 Walter Hagen and Joe Kirkwood used his tees during their exhibitions. The Reddy Tee was patented on May 13, 1925, but in 1922 he signed a deal with the A.G. Spalding Company, for 24 dozen. By 1925 he was selling $100,000 worth of tees and they were being made of celluloid. By 1926 copycat versions were on the market, and he spent much of his time and money fighting patent infringement. He died in East Orange, New Jersey in 1954 at the age of 91.
Saint Peter's Cemetery
New Jersey, USA
Created by: Richard Arthur Norton (1...
Record added: Nov 23, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62081702
McDaniel, Pete (2000). "Birth of the tee: The story behind the man who gave the ball the perfect setup - George Franklin Grant, inventor". Golf Digest. Retrieved 2007-05-24. "Ten years later, the messy, wet sand tee was still in vogue when Dr. William Lowell, a Maplewood, N.J., dentist, made the late-in-life discovery that golf possessed certain therapeutic advantages. ..."
New York Times. May 14, 1976. Retrieved 2007-05-24. "William Lowell Jr., a former manufacturer of golf tees and an industrial packaging specialist, died Wednesday at Muhlenberg Hospital,Plainfield, New Jersey He was 78 years old and lived in Fanwood, New Jersey"
New York Times. June 25, 1954. Retrieved 2010-11-24. "Dr. William Lowell, designer of the Reddy Golf Tee, which came into universal use in the sport, died yesterday at Orange Memorial Hospital after a short ..."
Friday, September 2, 2011
Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Don January laughs during the 2001 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
Jun. 22, 2010 | http://www.pgatour.com/2010/s/06/21/30th-anniversary/index.html
By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
The memories of that first Senior Tour event have dimmed for Don January.
What hasn't faded during the intervening three decades is how much fun it was, from putting together the building blocks of something that would grow and flourish to making the key swings and putts down the stretch.
The 30th anniversary of the first Senior Tour event in Atlantic City, won by January, is Tuesday (June 22).
"That's a few years ago," said January, who won the first title. "No doubt about it, it has changed."
The Senior Tour was conceived in 1980 by a gang of six. It began with four events and purses totaling $475,000. Today, the circuit for golfers over age 50 has grown to 26 official events offering $51.5 million in official prize money. The average purse is just under $2 million.
Renamed the Champions Tour in 2002, its mission statement is to provide a competitive environment for those who are ready to embark on the next phase of their professional careers. The phrase "competitive environment" is the operative term. That's not how it was in 1980.
"Julie (Boros) put it best," January said. "He said, 'I don't care where we play or how much we play for - just get me out of the house."
January, Boros, Bob Goalby, Sam Snead, Dan Sykes and Gardner Dickinson were the shakers behind the movement.
Goalby vividly remembers elements of the January, 1980, meeting at Jacksonville International Airport that led to the first Senior Tour event. PGA TOUR
Commissioner Deane Beman was there.
The goal was a casual 10-event circuit.
"I don't think Deane thought there was any chance of doing much," Goalby said. "Money spent on senior golf wouldn't make the regular tour guys too happy.
"Julius was a slow-talking guy, easy-going, never in a hurry. He made that great comment. He had a bunch of kids and grandkids at home, he kind of liked the tour, the quiet life. Back home, there were 10 people in the house."
Goalby, Mike Souchak and January played together in the last round at Atlantic City. On the first hole, a par 5, Goalby reached the green in two shots and had a 12-foot eagle putt. He got it halfway to the hole.
"I hadn't played in a while," Goalby said. "It was embarrassing but I made the putt for birdie."
It isn't difficult for Goalby to prioritize the reasons why the Senior Tour succeeded. It was about playing in places that hadn't seen professional golf and embraced the idea and the men they knew from a distance but never before had an opportunity to see in person.
But a bigger reason, in Goalby's opinion, was the effort that was put into it by the golfers.
"Snead was our catalyst," Goalby said. "He played in every tournament the first three, four years, went to every clinic, did everything he could for us. We had three, four parties a week and all the players went to the pro-am draw.
"We had been put out to pasture and we knew the only way to make it work was to help sell it."
And sell they did.
"It took off because we paid the price," said Goalby, who served 16 years on the Senior Tour board. "Snead said it was more fun than anything he had done in his life. It was very exciting and a lot of fun. A lot of us had to quit the regular tour when we were 40, couldn't afford to hang on like you can today when you make $12,000 a week at the bottom.
"It was a chance for us to keep playing and we were hungry, it was a chance to compete. I remember Billy Caspersaying he was happy to show people we were better people the second time around."
Brian Henning came aboard in 1981 as administrator of the Senior Tour.
"My job was to go out and find sponsors to put up $125,000 and that's basically what I did," said Henning, who spent 22 years in the role. "Our goal was to get about 10 events to get the senior players in those days out of the house for a couple of weeks every year and that was basically it.
"Suddenly, everything just went wild."
The wildfire spread word of mouth. The deal was too good to pass up.
"I was able to go into cities and guarantee 50 of the best senior players in America, the world if you like, who would play in the pro-am," Henning said. "Sam Snead, Julius Boros, Bob Goalby, Arnold Palmer. We entertained them at their parties and they had a lot of fun. Word spread. Next thing I was getting calls from all over the country."
In 1983, Henning's title was changed to Vice President/Senior Tour Field Operations and eventually Vice President/Competitions. He retired in 2001.
Goalby has fond recollections of Henning.
"He was very instrumental," Goalby said. "He did a great job for us. He was the front man, did a lot of PR for us. He was very good."
Some components of the Senior Tour that Goalby, January and the others envisioned no doubt were whimsical.
"More or less, it was a reunion for us," said January, whose 22 victories is tied for sixth most all-time with Chi Chi Rodriguez. "We figured there might be a market out there for us, why not take a shot at it.
"We were trying to give back to the sponsor a little better deal than they had been getting and corporate America embraced us. I had a ball. It was a lot of work but we didn't mind doing that.
"None of us realized it would come to what it did. We always thought we had a good product but none of us had any idea it would get this big."
Ocean City - Somers Point Golf Club
The Old Clubhouse at Ocean City-Somers Point Golf Club - Now Greate Bay
Archie Struthers - April 2001
Just back from Augusta the day the Masters tournament began, Archie Struthers is exuberant, full of energy, like a kid on Christmas. Certainly not your typical golf club president, Archie is excited about golf, the game he loves, and he has some things to be excited about. He’s taking his golf club, Greate Bay in Somers Point, private, while at the same time preparing to open a new and exciting course – Twisted Dune, which has his signature all over it.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Archie Struthers moved to South Jersey with his family as a child, and began to caddy when he was eleven years old at Woodcrest Golf course in Cherry Hill, where he worked for Tim DeBaufre, now a pro at Greate Bay. After attending Cherry Hill H.S. and the University of Maryland, he went to graduate school, he says, “to kind of prolong my childhood, because I loved coming down the shore so much.”
Before joining a group on the back nine, Archie took me for a ride around to see Twisted Dune and talked casually about what he’s doing at Great Bay and his thoughts on the future of golf at the Jersey Shore.
Kelly: You were a golf pro for awhile.
Struthers: I was a golf pro for two years. I was in graduate school when I decided to turn pro. I thought I could be a good player and I found out I couldn’t, for whatever reasons. I went down to Florida and was playing pretty good. Then I started to take lessons and started playing worse. I retired because I couldn’t hit it straight. But that may have been a blessing in disguise because these guys are so good, they are such great players. I still have the occasional good round. I’ll break 70 once a year. I’ll break 80, and then I’ll go on the other side as well.
Kelly: You worked at Pine Valley for awhile, what was that like?
Struthers: Pine Valley is a unique place because you’re exposed to some of the great minds in golf every day there, on a regular basis. All the members are from all over the country, not all famous guys. Like the guy from Iowa, who’s just a nice guy, whose good to spend three days with and listen to his philosophies on golf. Mostly it’s all about golf, and a little bit about life. So I think it’s a great learning experience there for anyone, especially when you’re caddying there, because you get to interface with people so directly. It’s not like, “Hey, how are you? Good to see you. Goodbye.”
Now sometimes, I feel that I can’t spend much time with the people here at Greate Bay, as I like because I’m running in too many directions. Hopefully that will change, as I get more employees, and people working here, you don’t need me as much, even though I keep trying to do it. I think we have a great opportunity here to have some fun and be comfortable. As much as Atlantic City had all that tradition, it was a really comfortable place. You came in there and find all different things going on, and lots of action, local events and people from all walks of life. I’m not saying we can emulate that, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we don’t want to be an exact replica, and we can’t be. But there’s a lot of things that were good and we have a lot of things here that were good to start, and we’re trying to tie it all together and make it a nice club. And I think going private is a big part of that.
Kelly: How did you get from Woodcrest to Pine Valley to Greate Bay?
When I was 27 I went into the real estate business. I have to thank Gene Gatti for the opportunity here. There’s a man who made a deal based on wanting to do something good, not only for the community, but for me, for me to have a chance to do something I love. It wasn’t about the money for him, although we did have to make a good business deal because he’s smart.
He’s just a great guy. I was down his home in Florida this winter and played golf. He breaks his age four or five times a year, and if he could putt better he’d do it more often. He won’t use a long putter and I think he should, but he’s too much of a purist. He’s a very private guy, comes back here every summer and plays with his regular guys.
Kelly: What’s the philosophy of taking Greate Bay private?
Struthers: I still fell that given our location and our ability to prepare good food, have parties and fun, and we have a good golf course. We have a great core of members, some were here when we took over and a lot of them are expatriates from Atlantic City, and a lot of people now from Ocean City. They never realized that this was right in their backyard, and they just didn’t know about it. I think in the long run we have an opportunity to do something kind of unique here, because of our location as much as anything.
Kelly: Atlantic City gave you an influx of members?
Struthers: At the time we had a tremendous influx of members, but we really weren’t ready to take care of them in the style that a lot of them were accustomed to. Thy had a 100 years of preparation over there in running a private club and people that did it for a long, long time, an we were very good at it. Although we did our best, we just weren’t ready to deal with that situation as well as I would have liked. Because our intentions were always good, we kept a core of wonderful golf members who knew that it wasn’t quite what they waned, but knew there was an effort, and there was potential. And now I think we’re beginning to realize some of that potential, finally.
Kelly: The clubhouse is open to the public and has a liquor license and the Pub & Grill has good food and prices.
Struthers: One thing about having a great facility is we can have some really special events at Greate Bay. We’re going to do Wednesday night barbeque gab and golf sessions. I can bring in four or five guys – golf pros, and we hope to get 50 or 75 members to come out for that, and some will just come out to eat. But those guys can teach and talk and tell stories. We have a lot of things planned. Another night we’re going to have a party – a Midsummer’s Night Dream, out in the parking lot with tents. We’re going to have some big bands come in and do a lot of social things.
You have to come to the Greate Bay Pub & Grill. It’s not a stuffy place. It would be pretty hard for me to be too stuffy. It’s just not my MO. Once in awhile I have to put on a suit and tie and go out with my wife to a fundraiser in Atlantic City or someplace, but my wife is much better at that than I am.
Kelly: How will going private affect other things, like the course?
Struthers: I think it’s obvious we’ll have less play than before. It will never be a place that won’t be active. It won’t be anywhere near the level we’ve seen in the last five years, but we are continually improving the course. Superintendent Steve Lane is the head supervisor here at Greate Bay and he helped build Twisted Dune. He’s from North Jersey originally, from a family of superintendents. His father Charlie has also been helping us this winter, and his brother is a superintendent up at Hackensack. It’s a pretty good golf family. Steve was an assistant at Galloway when they built it, and he had two course he ran in Hawaii. He’s an great worker and a really good guy, but it’s hard to get two words out of him if you don’t know him because he’s very quiet. I think he’s made tremendous improvements in the golf course.
Kelly: You have the new Twisted Dune in Egg Harbor Township opening soon, you’ve had this dream and the vision and now you’re making it a reality, what’s that going to be like?
Struthers: I think Twisted Dune will be operationally simple. It’s going to be pretty much just golf. It’s a links type course, unique. We hope it’s going to be less commercialized, come in and have fun, but not play slow! Because I hate that. But come in and hang around awhile. It will have a small clubhouse, almost like the Greate Bay Pub & Grill, same motif, memorabilia, golf stuff on the walls, and hopefully we’ll get all the famous guys in the area, Stan Dudas, Gene Gatti, Tim Debaufree, Billy Care, and have them hanging out there occasionally and bring in some color and add some character to the place, because that’s important. That’s what I’m thinking.
Kelly: Who will be the pro there?
Struthers: It seems we have a million pros working here. We have Don Archer at Hamilton Trails, while here we have Tim DeBaufre, Tom McCarthy, John Appleget, Mike Carson. Mike will be the pro here at Greate Bay, though they all kind of interchange and work together. We have a tremendous amount of experience and talent on that staff. John Appleget is one of our better players and teachers around. Timmy Debaufre is a pretty legendary figure in golf. Tom McCarthy was at Pine Valley, Boneta Bay, Potesta Conch,…we have the best team of pros in the business. There’s also some new assistant pros, Marc Cerniglia and Chris Foster.
Kelly: So you have a lot going, the nine holes at Hamilton Trails, opening Twisted Dune and taking Greate Bay private?
Struthers: It’s interesting for us, because in a lot of ways we have to promote our business, we have to get over the hump and make sure we get enough members for Greate Bay. There’s a fine line between promoting too much and not promoting enough. If it seems like you’re selling everybody, it’s like, “Gee, how private are they?”
Kelly: How many members are you looking for?
Struthers: I don’t have a number in mind. What’s good now is the way our memberships are breaking down. It’s almost splitting down the middle between full members and weekday members. We have a lot of retired people and locals who either work on the weekends around here or don’t want to play on the weekends because they’re here year ‘round.
So if you would have a club where you have 250 full members and 250 weekend members, I mean 250 full members is a very exclusive, private club. So I think that’s a way we can keep our revenues up and dues prices down., because we can offer that weekday and full member plans. The prices vary from $100 to $3500, which is for full members with all the bells and whistles, lockers and stuff. And with the way golf prices are going up, I mean if you’re a member and use the club a lot, at some point it starts to get fairly reasonable.
Kelly: You’re young and seem to support the idea of young people playing golf.
Struthers: Not being an altruist, because we have a nice business and we do well, but golf course are a good thing for the community. It’s somewhere the kids can come and play. We have more kids now than ever, and they’re great players. We have both Mainland and Ocean City play here now. Ocean City’s been here a long time, and now that Larry Silk works here, he asked if Mainland could play here and we said absolutely. It’s going to be interesting to see, and I don’t want to get into trouble because I live in Ocean City, but Mainland has a awful strong team this year and it will be hard to beat them. But in golf you never know what’s going to happen. That’s a pretty good rivalry – Mainland and Ocean City, and now it’s extending beyond the football field to the golf course, which I think is fun. And I like the support we get from the high schools, hosting their banquets and events. We like to support the kids.
And that’s another point about our club memberships that most people don’t realize. If you’re a member at Greate Bay, your kids play for free as long as they’re a student and until they’re out of college. You can’t put a price tag on that.
You come out at 4 o’clock in the afternoon with your ten, eleven, twelve year old, and play five or six holes, whatever their attention span allows. You walk around with them, and spend some quality time together, and I think that’s something we can’t stress enough of. I think we have more young people play here at Greate Bay than any other club in the area, and it’s growing. The kids play on their own. We have twenty to thirty young guys and girls playing regularly. Usually you seem them lugging their bags and playing late in the afternoon. That’s great for us.
Kelly: What do you think is the future of golf at the Jersey Shore.
Struthers: I would say that in the last couple of years the prices got real high real quick, but there’s more competition, so its not like shooting ducks in a pond like it seemed to be. I still think the amount of people that live in the Delaware Valley certainly love to come to the Jersey Shore. Atlantic City is growing slowly, but it’s still continues to grow. The Airport is trying, Borgata is coming, MGM looks like they’re coming. I mean we have 9-10 golf courses close to Atlantic City, while there’s 75 to 90 in Vegas. I see a tremendous opportunity for those golf courses to really become very good at what they do. I’m going to temper that with the fact that I don’t think the state is going to allow them to build too many more, based on water restrictions, though I think that golf courses are much better for the community than housing projects. So in some ways golf courses should be given a break for creating open space, and I wish they’d give us a little tax break.
I think it’s good for a community to have a golf course. I think it certainly benefits Somers Point and I think Twisted Dune will benefit Egg Habor Township.
[Interview with Archie Struthers, first published in Golfers Tee Times, April-May 2001]