Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

The Traveling Golfer

With host Tony Leodora will travel both near and far to bring viewers a look at some of the most spectacular golf destinations in the world!

General

Flagstick in...or out?

Written by Bob Oliver on .

 

Nearly three months into the new year and new set of rules the questions continue on whether to leave the flagstick in the hole while putting or remove it as traditionally held. 

The new rules say one can leave it in, as their is no penalty for hitting the pin while putting as with the prior rules. However, some golfers are saying leaving the pin in the hole will cause putts to deflect or rebound out. 

For me, starting with several days in Florida in January, I've not removed the pin prior to any putt in 2018. In my experience, having the flagstick in the hole allows me to better view the putt. Now in the old days I'd have my caddie or a competitor "tend" the flagstick. But now I merely ask to leave it in. 

Not once have I regretted it. And, it speeds play. Nothing wrong with that. 

Of course, there are those who believe leaving it in will deflect balls. Only once this year, in 27 rounds, have I seen such a deflection. I have seen several times when a ball thought to have enough stream to speed past the hole - maybe even off the green - was slowed by the flagstick. Several have fallen into the cup.

Point it, there is no scientifically proven do or don't here. And I often side with speeding up play. So leave it in it is. 

 

 

Players settling in to new rules

Written by Bob Oliver on .

 
 
 
It has been said that rules are made to be broken. But in golf, for real golfers, rules are the standard of play wanted and desired so that all competitors can battle evenly. 
Oh, sure, 80% of golfers do not have a "real" USGA handicap. 
One hears on the first tee, "I'm a 15". And then you watch that player shoot 80....or 100.
Still, even casual golfers tend to frown upon mulligans on every hole, gimmie putts of 20 feet for par, or moving a ball from outside the stakes inside the playing course.
The USGA completed a massive re-write of the rules with goals such as speeding up play, making rules more understandable, and overall simplifying a difficult game. While this reporter consistently points out strangeness of the USGA brain trust, the rule changes implemented for 2019 do make some sense. 
Right off the bat, one may leave the flagstick in the hole while on the putting green. There is no penalty for hitting the stick.  
For me, this makes sense. Heck, my eyes are bad. It's a whole lot simpler to leave flagstick in the cup while putting than having this guy stomp here, that guy wanting you on other side of hole, pulling and leaving on green for one player, tending pin for another.  While this can still occur, many of the regular players I compete with leave the pin in at all times. 
On a January day in Florida, nobody removed the flagstick from the hole the entire round. Not once.  And there was nary a problem. 
Another change was dropping ball from knee height.  Other than some asking what is knee height, it seems simple enough.
Also, on those pesky lost balls, you have three minutes to look for it rather than five. A time-saver. 
One can ground their club in a penalty area, repair spike marks, remove loose impediments in bunkers and play ready golf. 
A few seconds here and there and minutes are cut from the length of time it takes to play a round. 
One major play change that affects most golfers is the alternative to the former stroke and distance penalty for a lost ball or out of bounds shot to add two strokes to their score and drop a ball in the fairway rather than trudge back to the tee and take another stab at things. Now, this is not the case if one has played a provisional ball. In such a case you check for the circumstances of the first ball (OB?, Lost) and if it is either playing the provisional ball is the option. 
Overall, the new rules appear to be speeding up play, which for most means a more enjoyable game. It's nice the USGA is taking a step forward in this area. 
 

 

Rain, rain go away

Written by Bob Oliver on .

It has been said, many times, many ways, that the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains.

Okay, I believe it.

On the east coast of the good old United States, it has been emphatically shown in 2019 that there was no lack of precipitation.

I don’t believe it, I KNOW it.

Courses were closed more often than any year in recent history as in some areas of PenJerDel there were more than 110 days of rain in 2019. Some of those days meant courses were closed because of the monsoon which caused flooding, lakes moved into bunkers and soaked fairways.

The typical year sees 41 inches of rain in this area. With time left in the year, the area has received over 60 inches of rain thus far.

“No question that 2018 will be remembered as a year of poor weather,” explains Shore Gate Director of Golf Harry Bittner. “We were hit hard, but not as hard as what we’ve heard from courses located along streams. They’ve had flooding and washouts. We’ve been down about 9 percent in rounds played this year given solely to the weather.”

Oh, golfers will play in a drizzle, but unless they have access to a float couldn’t play some of the area’s courses.

“Of course, we’ve been hit hard by the weather,” said Ron Jaworski golf VP B.J. Jaworski, whose course Riverwinds is along the banks of the Delaware River but situated on land well above the river but still lost play days to water issues. Still the course was closed due to conditions on numerous occasions.

“Our rounds (at Jaworski courses) were down about 10 percent. A linked problem was the slowing of play due to the wet conditions.”

Water wasn’t the only thing hurting courses. The wetness brought grey hairs to superintendents as grass diseases were able to flourish with the wet conditions.  

“We are in a consistent fight with the elements to maintain our wonderful golf course,” explained Damon Klepczynski, GM at the Bulle Rock Golf Club in Maryland and Neshaminy graduate. “There are courses in our area who have lost the majority of its fairways.

Rain, rain go away, please come back next year with less gusto is the cry of area golf course operators.

Collegiate Play

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Not to be missed was some fine play by area collegiate golfers in their fall seasons. 

Penn State University's Lukas Clark posted rounds of 78-73 and a career best 72 in the Bank of Tennessee Classic.

Penn State's Madelein Herr was 20th in the Princeton Invitational held at Springdale with rounds of 77-74--151.

Drexel sophomore Stephen Cerbara, of Langhorne, was 11th in the City Challenge played at Galloway National.

Makefield Highland's Dan Altieri playing for Swarthmore was fifth in the Anton Memorial.

Washington Crossing's Ambrose Abbracciamento was 16th in the Pioneer Creek Classic playing for San Diego University. 

Levine claims MHGA Stroke Play

Written by Bob Oliver on .

David Levine scored a two-day 36-hole total of 164 to claim the Makefield Highlands Golf Association Nicklaus Flight Championship.

The net winner was Greg Cady whose 157 total bested the field.

In the Palmer Division, Eric Kadish posted a 166 to win the gross diviion while Pat Bradley won the net title at 157 over Jim Kitzke at 163.

In the Sarazen Division, for players 55-65, Rich Driscoll scored a 158 to claim top honors. In the net competition Bill Chaykin at 145 scored a one stroke victory over Rich Eisner. Mark Monkhouse was third at 153.

Finally, in the Snead Division, Bob Woods claimed the gross title at 162. Regis Gaughan scored a 148 to claim net honors, over Frank Draper at 153. Also at 153, but losing a match of cards playoff was Mike Midash.