Friday, May 21, 2010

Weekend of the 16-year-olds

On Friday, a pair of teenagers made a little history in North Carolina and Texas.

First, 16-year-old Grayson Murray became the second youngest golfer to make the cut at a Nationwide Tour event.

Also, Jordan Spieth became the sixth youngest golfer to make the cut at a PGA Tour event.

From what I read about Spieth, the reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion, he is at 4-under after two holes in the third round of the HP Byron Nelson Classic in Irving, Texas. That puts Spieth tied for 22nd.

As for Murray, I didn't have to read about him. I witnessed most of his miraculous run of birdies on the back nine Friday at TPC Wakefield in the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh.

He birdied five of the last seven holes to for a 66 on the day, good enough for 3-under in the tournament. The final cut line, which had been at 2-under all day, eventually went to 3-under, and Murray was in for the weekend.

So far today, Murray is 1-over after nine holes and is tied for 57th at 2-under.

This has been a whirlwind month for Murray, a long hitter from Raleigh. Two weeks ago, sophomore at Leesville Road High School, won the state 4-A individual championship. Then, he earned a spot in the Nationwide event by winning the Rex Hospital Junior Invitational. He played in a U.S. Open qualifier on Monday.

And then he came to TPC Wakefield Thursday, where he scrambled to a 2-over 73 on the first day. After 11 holes on the second day, it looked as if Murray's wild golf ride was over for awhile - especially after he three-putted the 11th.

But he got mad and told his caddie that he was going to birdie out the round. Well, almost. Five out of seven ain't bad.

And it was good enough to keep him in the tournament.

Photos: Top, Jordan Spieth; bottom Grayson Murray

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not good enough to get mad

When I first started playing golf a few years back, I promised myself that I wouldn't become one of those crazy, wild-eyed hackers who threw clubs, spouted obscenities and sulked down the fairway after a poor shot.

Initially, it was easy. I'm not supposed to be good, I told myself. I'm supposed to hit all those bad shots. My mantra was: "I'm not good enough to get mad at my game."

And for the most part, I was a happy golfer. A drive that went 20 feet in front of the teebox was embarrassing, but I didn't get mad. Hitting into the water or woods never bothered me. Three- or even four-putting was OK by me. Airmailing a short chip shot over the green resulted in nothing more than a sarcastic smirk and a shake of my head.

I felt badly for my playing partners, to be sure. I hated that they had to suffer through such a round, but I never stewed. I never stormed off the green in anger. No temper tantrums for me.

I wasn't good enough to get mad at my game.

Oh, what a little improvement to your game will do.

Earlier this month, I played a couple of rounds that included triple-free golf. Always, I had scored at least one triple-bogey during a round. It was just a fact of life. Then, all of a sudden, I was hitting the ball better more often. Doubles and bogeys were even becoming fewer and farther between. Three pars in a row made me feel like Payne Stewart or Jack Nicklaus. I even had my first birdie on a par 5.

So, heading into the Carolina Pro-Am event sponsored by Oakley, I was getting excited. Maybe I can contribute a great deal. My handicap still was high, so if I can play well, knock down a few pars and maybe even a birdie, we might score well. Winning even crept into my head.

Big mistake.

During a practice round for the event at Little River Golf and Resort in Carthage, I was hitting the ball so well. To be sure, I still wasn't a good golfer, but I was playing a lot better than I had three months ago.

I tripled the first hole after knocking my tee shot into the water. Then, a par on No. 2 and a par on No. 3, a 510-yard par 5 that's ranked as the fifth hardest hole on the course, put me on top of the world. For the round, 12 bogeys, three pars, two triples and a double en route to a 92, my second-best round ever in my life.

I was ready. I knew it. I was going to help my team and impress my buddy Bryan, a golf pro, who helps me with my game.

The one thing I forgot: I'm not good enough to get mad at my game.

For the first nine holes or so, I played like I did a year ago. Driving the ball off to the left into the woods; topping fairway shots and watching them go about 20 feet; chili dipping; hooking; slicing; hitting the big green ball before I hit the white ball.

And I got mad at myself. I can play better than this. What am I doing? Why am I hitting it so badly? All kinds of negative thoughts ran through my mind. I was sulking, pouting, not talking, grumbling. I was doing things that I had frequently criticized other golfers of doing.

Then, when Bryan asked me: "When are you going to get your head out of your butt?" I remembered, I'm not good enough to get mad at my game.

I apologized to my partners for my behavior. I started having fun again. And then, I started hitting the ball better.

My best shot came on No. 7, a short par 4 with water on the right. We had started on No. 13, so this was halfway through our back nine. It was our second shot on the hole, and we had about 175 yards to the hole. Everyone else was in the water with their approach shot, but I stuck a beautiful 3-hybrid right on the green.

I still wasn't good enough to get mad at my game, but I was good enough to sprinkle in some good shots with the bad - just like I'd always done. It's just now, those good shots are better and more often. I just need to remember that when - not if - I hit a bad shot, it's OK.

Bryan also reminded me that day that I have teammates. And thank goodness for that. Mark and Tyler were pretty good amateurs, and we used Mark's drive fairly often. Bryan, the pro in our group, finished in the Top 10 among professionals at the event. Our net score of 57 still wasn't good enough to win, but we sure had fun.

Except for having to deal with that clown stomping off the fairway after a bad shot. Oh wait, that was me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Charity events in the Twin Counties

Here is an updated list of charity golf tournaments in the Twin Counties.

If anyone knows of any others not listed here, please let me know.

Saturday, May 15
What: UPS-sponsored golf tournament benefiting the United Way Tar River Region
When: 9:30 a.m. shotgun start
Where: Northgreen Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $65 per player includes green fees, carts, lunch and prizes: mulligans and red tee busters at $5 each
Format: Captain's choice
Who it helps: United Way Tar River Region
Contact: UPS Dee Hurley or Parley Potter at 977-0608 or Ginny Mohrbutter at the United Way at 937-2213.

Thursday, May 20 - Friday, May 21

What: Moose Charities Golf Tournament
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday meet and greet celebrities and auction; 8 a.m. Friday shotgun start
Where: Northgreen Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $10 entry fee for auction and meet and greet; $300 per team includes green fees, carts, lunch and drinks; $400 per team with celebrity.
Format: Super ball
Who it helps: Mooseheart Charities, which operates residences and schools for teens and children across the country, including North Carolina. Celebrities scheduled to play include Bonecrusher Smith, Ed Bradley, Dick Conn, Abe Jacobs, Bucky Waters, Chuck Ramsey and Billy Ray Barnes.
Contact: Betty and Mike Robinson at 908-2176

Friday, May 21
What: The first Nash Health Care Foundation Golf Classic
When: 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. shotgun starts
Where: Benvenue Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $150 per player includes green fees, carts, lunch, dinner and drinks
Format: Super ball
Who it helps: Nash Health Care Foundation's proposed Pediatric Emergency Department.
Contact: Brenning Daughtridge 443-8118 - extension 8583 or bjdaughtridge@nhcs.org

Friday, May 21
What: Edgecombe-Martin County EMC 14th Annual 4-H Golf Tournament
When: 11 a.m. shotgun start
Where: The Links at Cotton Valley in Tarboro
Who it helps: Edgecombe County 4-H organization
Contact: Gary Hicks 823-2171 or vivian_turner@ncsu.edu

Friday, May 28
What: The first O.D. Moore Scholarship Golf Tournament
When: 9 a.m. shotgun start
Where: Northgreen Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $65 per player includes green fees, carts, range balls, lunch and drinks
Format: Super ball
Who it helps: The O.D. Moore Scholarship Foundation/Nash Central Senior High Alumni Association for graduation high school student.
Contact: Patrick Ford 469-9805; Allegro Cordell 469-1299; Earl Coley 301-523-7889.

Thursday, June 10
What: The Chamber Annual Golf Classic
When: 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. shotgun starts
Where: Northgreen Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $400 per team includes green fees, carts, lunch and drinks; $700 co-sponsor includes team.
Format: Super ball
Who it helps: The Chamber
Contact: Bobbi Booth 973-1202 or bbooth@rockymountchamber.org

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tiger's mental game


I think people are reading way too much in the break-up between Tiger Woods and Hank Haney.

It's not that split that's caused Woods' game to go south. It's more likely that the root of his problems - in addition to his physical ailments - is the break-up between him and his wife, Elin.

You know the old saying: "Golf is a game of inches, and the most important are the 6 between your ears." Of course, if Stewie Griffin or that football head kid from Hey Arnold ever picked up a golf club, I guess you'd have to the 11 or 12 inches between the ears.

Now, I know what you're thinking. This sounds just like the Gil Gerard speech. Wait, never mind. That's not important.

Tiger's competitive golf experience over the past six months has included three tournaments. He finished in the Top 10 at the Masters; he missed the cut at Quail Hollow; and he withdrew from The Players Championship because of a bulging disc. That was disc.

During this time, he's endured intense media scrutiny because of his infidelities. It's no wonder that he's struggling. In addition to being rusty and having a bad back, he's also trying to get his life back on track, deal with an impending divorce, win back fans and sponsors and deal with the media.

I know he dealt with much of this when he was on top of the golf world. But the layoff and injury combined with the stress of a divorce make it difficult to play your best golf.

That's why the split with Haney, I think, is not a big deal. Tiger knows the mechanics of golf. He knows how to play the game. To be sure, a coach helps.

But right now, Woods is in need of a mental coach more than a swing coach.

Photo credit: Reuters

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Charity events in the Twin Counties

A few weeks ago, I helped organize the 2nd Annual Operation Nineveh Charity Golf Tournament at Northgreen Country Club.

And I've said this before: helping put together a charity golf event is no easy task. With that said, I want to help out others who are doing the same thing by promoting local golf tournaments here in this blog.

So here are a few events coming up, including two set for Friday.

Friday, May 7
What: 13th Annual Our Lady of Perpetual Help School Golf Tournament
When: 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. shotgun starts
Where: Northgreen Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $75 per player includes green fees, cart, lunch and drinks
Format: Superball, double shotgun start
Who it helps: Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and scholarships
Contact: David Sherrod 908-7376 or david.sherrod@ncfbins.com

Friday, May 7
What: 11th Annual Chris Griffin Memorial Golf Tournament
When: 1 p.m. shotgun start
Where: The Links at Cotton Valley in Tarboro
How much: $300 per team includes green fees, carts, mulligans, lunch and drinks
Format: Captain's choice
Who it helps: East Carolina University athletics through the Chris Griffin Endowment. "Griffin, a Rocky Mount native, was a graduate of East Carolina University and a devoted fan of ECU Athletics. He was an avid golfer and a tireless supporter of the Pirate Club." Cancer took Griffin at age 46.
Contact: Kelley Tyndall - fax: 446-0443

Thursday, May 20 - Friday, May 21
What: Moose Charities Golf Tournament
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday meet and greet celebrities and auction; 8 a.m. Friday shotgun start
Where: Northgreen Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $10 entry fee for auction and meet and greet; $300 per team includes green fees, carts, lunch and drinks; $400 per team with celebrity.
Format: Super ball
Who it helps: Mooseheart Charities, which operates residences and schools for teens and children across the country, including North Carolina. Celebrities scheduled to play include Bonecrusher Smith, Ed Bradley, Dick Conn, Abe Jacobs, Bucky Waters, Chuck Ramsey and Billy Ray Barnes.
Contact: Betty and Mike Robinson at 908-2176

Friday, May 21
What: The first Nash Health Care Foundation Golf Classic
When: 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. shotgun starts
Where: Benvenue Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $150 per player includes green fees, carts, lunch, dinner and drinks
Format: Super ball
Who it helps: Nash Health Care Foundation's proposed Pediatric Emergency Department.
Contact: Brenning Daughtridge 443-8118 - extension 8583 or bjdaughtridge@nhcs.org

Friday, May 21
What: Edgecombe-Martin County EMC 14th Annual 4-H Golf Tournament
When: 11 a.m. shotgun start
Where: The Links at Cotton Valley in Tarboro
Who it helps: Edgecombe County 4-H organization
Contact: Gary Hicks 823-2171 or vivian_turner@ncsu.edu

Friday, May 28
What: The first O.D. Moore Scholarship Golf Tournament
When: 9 a.m. shotgun start
Where: Northgreen Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $65 per player includes green fees, carts, range balls, lunch and drinks
Format: Super ball
Who it helps: The O.D. Moore Scholarship Foundation/Nash Central Senior High Alumni Association for graduation high school student.
Contact: Patrick Ford 469-9805; Allegro Cordell 469-1299; Earl Coley 301-523-7889.

Thursday, June 10
What: The Chamber Annual Golf Classic
When: 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. shotgun starts
Where: Northgreen Country Club in Rocky Mount
How much: $400 per team includes green fees, carts, lunch and drinks; $700 co-sponsor includes team.
Format: Super ball
Who it helps: The Chamber
Contact: Bobbi Booth 973-1202 or bbooth@rockymountchamber.org

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Northgreen Country Club deals


Northgreen Country Club once was the place to play golf in Rocky Mount.

The ACC Championships were held at Northgreen, where players like David Duval, Fred Funk and Stewart Cink roamed the fairways and greens.

After a period of lackluster maintenance, new owners Wayne Holloman and his dad Ed are in the process of putting Northgreen back in its place as a premiere golf club in this area. They've refurbished the greens, which are top-shelf now.

And the fairways are looking better than ever.

To be sure, more work needs to be done, but it's getting there.

If you haven't been to Northgreen in awhile, you should definitely check it out.

Right now, Wayne is considering offering a platinum membership at the club for $199 a month. The price would include unlimited green fees and cart fees, as well as a free bucket of range balls per round.

"By rack price, you would only have to play six rounds in a month to break even on the deal," Wayne said in an email. "This is a great deal, and I am considering it and will probably give it a try if I get enough interest."

Contact Wayne via email if you're interested: