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

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21 Feb

Golf's Future might be non-conforming

Written by Bob Oliver


Do you consider yourself a golf traditionalist?

Do you have an official USGA handicap?

Do you regularly play in USGA sanctioned or governed events?

Do you religiously follow the Rules of Golf?


According to many studies, you are in a select group of about 20% of the golfing public. The rest of the golf world bends the rules a little, a bit or a whole lot?

Don’t believe that statement? Consider your last round of golf. Did you hit a ball out of bounds? Did you take a stroke and distance penalty, taking the walk of shame back to the tee to try again hitting three?

How about that unfair lie in a middle of the fairway divot that you tapped an inch onto green grass? Or maybe the gimme putts you and your playing partners granted? Or how about that extra driver you were trying out, bringing the number of clubs in your golf bag to 15?

Did you open your round allowing more than one tee ball on the first hole to get warmed up? Did you hit a second ball after a poor shot? Did you actually card a six on that hole and not a seven?

Does any of this remotely sound familiar? Be honest.

While 20% of all golfers religiously follow the rules, the vast majority of golfers enjoy the game by taking some liberties with the rules. Not every stroke, not every round, but somewhere along the way. That’s a fact.

Friends, golf is a game to be enjoyed. And while noone would condone playing in a USGA event and not following the rules, in a friendly game most golfers will manage to have some leeway in with the rules.

Golf is a hard, difficult, challenging, frustrating, you name it game. It has been said you play your foul balls, but the question is whether you count all the strokes!

Ask most golfers and you will hear how the game costs too much, takes too long to play and enforces too many rules that ruin the fun of it. These are players who never will play in the United States Open but enjoy being on the course. The game has seen its players reduced by nearly 20% from its heyday of 30,000,000 at the height of the Tiger Revolution. More golf courses are closing rather than being built, get greens fees are increasing.

The stewards of the game have tried to get more involved, from The First Tee program to the USGA’s Tee It Forward program. Still the numbers dwindle. So, the question is: how does the game turn from its tailspin and begin to accelerate growth?

Taking a page from skiing, which saw snowboarding introduced to goose participation, stories have been reported about Frisbee Golf and Foot Golf as ways to enjoy the concept of the game without all the frustration.

Others talk about Hack Golf, a concept where the USGA Rules of Golf are thought of but not necessarily followed. Thought of as a way to Grow the Game, Hack Golf supports different avenues to spark interest in the game. It uses 15 inch cups on the putting green to reduce the heartache of putting to a small target. It features large faced, non-conforming clubs including some that can be used playing a larger golf ball on a shorter course. As many as 100 existing courses are allowing such play.

According to Taylor Made, their MOAD club (“Mother of all Drivers”) allows beginners to hit the ball 160-180-yards off the tee. Hit it 180 on a 300-yard hole and all of a sudden that beginner can have a shot at a few pars that just might get them coming back to the course in the future rather than walking away from a too hard of a game.

Blasphemy to the traditionalists, when one of those newcomers graduates to “regulation” golf there might actually be some growth in the game.

Face it, basketball played in one’s driveway isn’t regulation. Nor is the game of HORSE or Follow the Leader. Don’t have 10 players? You can play one-on-one or any other variation and not be looked upon as a rule breaker.

Several smaller ice hockey rinks have been developed that feature three-on-three play, and others have temporary boards across the ice that allow half ice or third ice games for youth players.

In the golf world, there is more of a demand for Pitch and Putt and Nine Hole Courses, where a “round” of golf can be played in an hour or so, addressing the time and cost issue. Point is, the market is there for the playing of the game, just not by the traditional USGA Rules of Golf.

That’s not a bad thing. It might – despite distasteful looks from the traditionalists – save the game.


30 Dec

Bucks crowns club champions

Written by Bob Oliver


Cheryl Seamans is making it a habit to win women’s club championships at Spring Mill Country Club. The former Pennsylvania State Women’s Amateur Champion won her sixth Spring Mill crown in 2013. Previously, Seamans captured the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011 titles.


But Seamans wasn’t the only area player to add to the club championship resumes. Jonathan Radick added a fourth title to his trophy case, having won the 2004, 2009, 2012 and 2013 men’s titles at Northampton Valley. Lookaway saw Joanna Neely claim a fourth women’s title, having also won in 2004, 2007 and 2009.


At Yardley, Chris Ault claimed title number three, adding to crowns he claimed in 2009 and 2012, while Bensalem Township saw Steve Gerhart regain the title he also won in 2010 and 2011. Myla Sklar won the woman’s crown at Philmont, a title she also won in 2010 and 2013.


A number of players successfully defended the crowns they won in 2012, including Joseph Gunerman (Jericho National) and Neil Gordon (Five Ponds) among men and Veronica Howell (Doylestown) among women.


Roc Irey scored in 2013, adding to the title he won in 2010 at Lookaway, while Zach Smith won at Doylestown after claiming his first crown in 2009. Dave Gardener won at Middletown, adding to his 2010 crown.


Men’s first time winners included Charles Jones (Bucks Club), Connor Sharp (Torresdale-Frankford), Patrick Welsh (Makefield Highlands), Zachary Low (Trenton) and Chris Crawford (Spring Mill).  Women winning for the first time included Emily Garrett (Bucks Club), Theresa Roberts (Jericho National) and Karen Klemp (Yardley).


Twelve-time club champion Glenn Smeraglio (9 at Yardley, 2 at Mercer Oaks, 1 at Commonwealth National) title find a place for number 13, but did capture his 8th Mercer Metropolitan Open.