The Course Report
The Course Report is a chance for you to find out more about regional golf, golfers and courses with staff writer Bob Jarzomski.   Read more about this blog.
Posted: June 17th, 2014

Erik Compton had a tough time in four appearances in the Nationwide Tour tournaments at Peek’n Peak, but that was a piece of cake compared to what the 34-year-old has endured in his life.

Compton, who finished tied for second in the U.S. Open behind runaway winner Martin Kaymer, survived two heart transplants, one as a youngster at age 11, and another at age 27, not long after missing the cut at Peek’n Peak in the 2007 Lake Erie Charity Classic.

Compton, born in Miami and who played golf for the University of Georgia, was a natural athlete who could not play fast-paced sports because of his condition.

He was the major story line behind Kaymer’s brilliant performance.

Compton missed the cut in the 2002, 2005 and 2007 Nationwide events, now known as the Web.com Tour. The only time he made the cut, he tied for 32nd with a 287 total and earned $3,192.

Though Compton did not make any noise at the Peak, with the second-level Tour here for six years (2002-2007) that had many unknown stars in the making (Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, for example), his miracle story reached the hearts of golf fans viewing the action at Pinehurst No. 2.

Bob Jarzomski

Posted in: PGA, web.com.tour
Posted: June 17th, 2014

Former Erie softball star Ralph ‘Dusty’ Dunton recorded his first hole-in-one Monday while visiting with buddies at the Links at Firestone Farms Golf Course in Columbiana, Ohio, just south of Youngstown.

Dunton, who lives in Richmond, Va., knocked a 3-iron into the cup from 165 yards out on the par-3 17th hole at Firestone Farms. Dunton, a top catcher in the City Rec Fastpitch League in the 1980s when softball was still in its heyday, was playing with Al Baumann, another Rec Fastpitch star, Jack D’Andria and Ryan Hasek.

– Bob Jarzomski

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 11th, 2014

Golf fans will be focused on the 2014 U.S.  Open played at fabled Pinehurst No. 2 course this week, with many pulling for Phil Mickelson to finally break through and win our national championship.

People who follow the LPGA will be very familiar with the course, since the U.S. Women’s Open will be played there the following week. This is the first time the USGA has held both tournaments on the same course in back-to-back weeks.

The women have been drawing more interest the past year, with Americans breaking through the domination of Asian players. No. 1 in the world is Stacy Lewis, the former University of Arkansas star who has earned $1.15 million this season while overtaking Inbee Park for the top ranking.

Michele Wie, the focus of Erie golf fans in the 2004 U.S. Amateur at the Kahkwa Club is second in earnings with nearly $870,000. Park, who beat Wie in the second round of match play in the Amateur, won last week and is fourth in cash with nearly $745,000.

Paula Creamer, who lost in the semifinals at Kahkwa, continues to wear pink while she has not won a tournament in recent months. Creamer was the 2010 U.S. Open champion.

– Bob Jarzomski

Posted in: LPGA
Posted: June 11th, 2014

The Erie District Golf Association’s 2014 schedule begins in earnest this week.

On Saturday at Riverside Golf Course, the Father & Son tournament gets it rolling. Rick Carlotti and his son Mike are the defending champions, with Thad and Cameron Zbrzeznj the 2013 runner-ups who won the event in 2012.

On Wednesday, June 18, the second Flagship Junior Tour sponsored by the Erie Sports Store opens at Downing Golf Course with an 8:30 shotgun start. The 18-hole stroke play event is the first of nine tournaments on the schedule for boys and girls up to age 18.

The boys are in the spotlight the next day with the first round of the EDGA Junior Stroke Play tournament, which concludes on Friday, June 19.

– Bob Jarzomski

Posted in: EDGA
Posted: August 30th, 2013

Retired Erie attorney Dennis Williams said his son-in-law, Jeffrey Barton, is not much of a golfer. But Barton, a former San Diego Padres minor leaguer who married Leah Barton seven years ago, was not even playing in a golf outing at PAA-Ko Ridge Golf Club near Albuquerque, N.M. on Aug. 22, when his name was pulled out of a hat to take a swing for $1 million with five other players who shot well enough to qualify for the chance from 150 yards away.

Barton was in a clubhouse bar with his boss from a hospital machinery distributor when his name was picked, and did not have his clubs with him. So he had to borrow a left-handed 8-iron.

After the first four players hit the green, the fifth guy hit it into the water, and, according to Williams, Barton was relieved.

“He said  ‘I can’t embarrass myself any more than that guy’, then his boss handed him a beer and told him to chug it, then swing away,” Wiliams said. “You can see that the guy taking the video was trying to follow the ball in the air, then it lands on the green and starts rolling toward the hole. The people are cheering for it to go in, and everybody goes crazy when it does. It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen.”

Barton earned an annuity of $25,000 a year for 40 years.

The brief video of the moment has naturally gone viral.

– Bob Jarzomski

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 27th, 2013

June 28, 1971 Morning News

June 28, 1971 Morning News

As the first round of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open begins at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., Thursday, it brings to mind when Erie’s Kahkwa Club played hosted JoAnne Carner’s runaway win in the 1971 open.

Forty-two years ago to the day, Carner’s even-par 288 bested the field by seven strokes thanks to her one-over-par final round of 73 that she finished before nearly 5,000 fans on Kahkwa’s 18th green. A total of 14,716 fans attended the four-day tournament and 45 million more watched on a national television broadcast on ABC.

Carner’s humble cash prize of $5,000 illustrates how times have changed in women’s sports and sports in general. By comparison, this year’s winner will earn nearly $600,000.

In another reminder of days gone by, check out this excerpt from the following day’s edition of the Erie Morning News, which repeatedly referred to the “strawberry blonde” and summed up Carner’s win in a way only vintage sports writing can:

The hard-hitting lass didn’t even raise a sweat – despite the humid 88-degree weather yesterday – on the course. After the round had ended, however, happiness just oozed out of her.

Carner returned to Erie and to Kahkwa to play in the now-defunct Erie Charity Classic in the 1990s.

- Joe Cuneo

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 26th, 2013

Last Friday, June 21, marked the first day of summer. And, in typical Erie weather fashion, a switch was seemingly flipped, bringing hot and humid summer days with it.
But it was a long time coming for some area golf courses, which had to deal with double the usual amount of rain in May. Some courses had to shut down for several days and encouraged players to “lift clean and place” and play winter rules in the fairways.
Erie Golf Course was one of the clubs that had to deal with the inclement weather.
“We had to do cart path only for a while,” said Colin, a clubhouse attendant at Erie. “It was slow for a while, but we were lucky that we didn’t have to shut down.”
Erie, which relies on business from leagues Monday through Thursday, did have to cancel three days of leagues, however. But it was a small casualty when compared to other courses that were flooded thanks to the numerous downpours.
Needless to say, the rain (or lack thereof) is a “fluid” situation.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 28th, 2011

The Facts:

Green Meadows Golf Course

Address: 2451 North Brickyard Road, North East, PA 16428

Phone: (814) 725-5009 ‎

Par: 72

Yardage: 6307 (Blue), 5881 (White), 5177 (Red)

URL: www.greenmeadowsgolfcourse.com

The Best:

1. The change of pace between the front and back nine

2. The paved cart paths

3. The price

4. The driving range and putting green

5. The owners (Everyone I talked to was very nice)

6. The flat course caters to beginners as well as those with some experience

Before/After

1. The Clubhouse

2. Townline Tavern

3. The Ruffled Grouse Bar & Grille

Alcohol

Golfers can bring their own alcohol. Alcohol cannot be purchased at the clubhouse.

I knew I was getting close to Green Meadows Golf Course when I suddenly found myself surrounded by the grape vines that define North East so well.  The course is located among countless acres of farm land just off of Buffalo Road.

The overall flatness of Green Meadows Golf Course helped me realize that a farm was once located there, but I was able to speak with Adrienne Hassenplug to find out more.

Green Meadows was opened to the public in 1975 by Robert Boyd Sr. (Adrienne’s grandfather) and the rest of his family.  The course was built simply because the Boyd family had a passion for the game of golf.  During the early years of the course’s existence, the Boyds continued to manage the farm they owned.

But golf courses and farms can be difficult to manage – even individually.  I imagine that worrying about both at the same time could be a nightmare.  It wasn’t long before the Boyd family decided to sell the farm and fully concentrate on the course for which they had so much love.

Many people may not realize that Green Meadows was only a nine hole course until it became an 18 hole course around 1989.  The front and back nine seem to have completely different personalities due to the time difference in their construction.

The front nine was built exclusively on farm land and is very flat.  This, combined with the layout of the trees, created a very open front nine.  It isn’t as important for golfers to have straight tee shots when faced with the wide holes.

In order to make accuracy more valuable, the greens on the front nine are quite small.  It may take an extra shot or two to find the green (yet this makes putting easier).

The back nine is much more scenic due to the amount of trees and the land that borders the course.  The last nine holes appear to have been cut right out of some woods, so there are plenty of trees for golfers to run into.  A small creek also runs through five of the nine holes to give the course another dimension.  Also, grape vines literally border the 14th and 15th holes.  They look great up until you lose a ball within them.

The owners at Green Meadows strive to give golfers everything they might need while out on the course.  Benches are located at the tee boxes to give players a place to rest.  There are two bathrooms out on the course that the owners constructed themselves.  These restrooms also serve as rain shelters.

The entire course benefits from paved cart paths and an irrigation system.  The cart paths offer a smooth ride as well as a place for your cart when it is a bit too wet outside.  But the irrigation system constantly works to try and prevent the course from any sort of flooding.

In addition to the course itself, Green Meadows owns a driving range across the street.  The driving range opens as early as February, when golfers hit from a sheltered area out into the open.  The course also features a small putting green right behind the clubhouse.

Green Meadows’ current clubhouse was built in 1997 and is apparently a great improvement on the original clubhouse.  Inside, golfers can find a pro shop to stock up on anything they need to.  A banquet room is located upstairs for parties and other types of get togethers.  Green Meadows also features a small concession stand where snacks and hotdogs can be purchased.

At the moment, Green Meadows does not sell alcohol, but they allow golfers to bring their own.

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 18th, 2011

The Facts:

Downing Municipal Golf Course

Address: 1351 Troupe Road, Harborcreek, PA 16421-1032

Phone: (814) 899-5827 ‎

Par: 72

Yardage: 7092 (Blue), 6653 (White), 5829 (Gold), 5568 (Red)

The Best:

1. Downing is open all year (weather permitting)

2. Paved cart paths

3. The price

4. The flat terrain for easy walking

5. The specials and deals

6. The putting green, chipping green, and nearby driving range

7. The friendly staff

Before/After

1. The Clubhouse

2. Lake Erie Driving Range (right next door)

3. Buffalo Road – plenty of places to eat, drink, or shop

Alcohol

Alcohol can be purchased in the clubhouse. Players cannot bring their own alcohol.

At the request of a friend, I chose Downing Municipal Golf Course for this week’s profile.  Downing is one of two municipal golf courses in the Erie area (with J.C. Martin being the other).  I hadn’t been out to Downing in a year or two, so it was fun to discover the course again,

Downing opened in 1962 and gets its name from Charles “Bus” Downing, who was a member of City Council.

The golf course was built on mostly flat land, which makes for an easy trek.  The holes are tightly packed together, but the fairways remain wide open for golfers to approach the greens.  Numerous trees define the holes to make sure the course isn’t too forgiving.

I found that some of the holes had sand traps, while others did not.  Downing also has two ponds and a creek, which come into play on three holes total.  Even with the lack of consistent hazards, Downing still finds ways to infuriate golfers.

As I drove a cart around the course, I started to remember the holes.  I also remembered the troubles I had on them.  Downing is a deceptively long course and the hazards the course does have were cleverly placed.

A giant putting green is located directly behind the first tee box so golfers can warm up while waiting to play.  Chet Widowski, who works at the course, told me that Downing also has a chipping green that they like to call the “Bullpen.”

I was surprised to find out that Lake Erie Driving Range (owned by Dan Steen) is not associated with Downing even though the parking lots connect to each other.  At one point in time, the driving range was a part of Downing, but that is no longer the case.  Either way, the range’s proximity to the course cannot be beat for those looking to hit some extra golf balls.

Downing has a lot of big things to offer golfers, but it is also important to make note of the little things.  I was happy to find paved cart paths all across the course (something that is a rarity among Erie golf courses).  I also noticed that benches were located on all of the tee boxes and there were even a few rain shelters.

A restroom is also located on the course that can be accessed from both the sixth and 13th holes.  A concession stand sits between the front and back nine, so golfers can grab a snack if they are craving something.  Downing also has a few vending machines and tables around the clubhouse.

Downing’s clubhouse is unique in appearance.  After the original clubhouse burned down, this one was built in its place.  It is made of a white stone and looks a little too artsy to be found on a golf course.

A pro shop can be found on the first floor along with both men and women’s locker rooms.  The second floor of the clubhouse is usually reserved for parties and other gatherings.

I was impressed by all that Downing had to offer golfers, but one thing stood out from the rest.  I was told that Downing is open all year around as long as the weather permits.  I had never heard of something like that considering the fact that Erie gets pummeled with snow every year.

But apparently Downing opens on the nicer days of the cold months and people actually go and play.  I have never golfed in the winter before, and I’m willing to bet that is the case with most people (golfing down south doesn’t count).

I’m sure many Erie golfers get the itch to play some golf while waiting for spring to arrive, so this seems to be a perfect solution.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 8th, 2011

The Facts:

Riverside Golf Club

Address: 24537 Highway 19, Cambridge Springs, PA 16403

Phone: (814) 398-4537 ‎

Par: 71 (72 for Women and Seniors)

Yardage: 6334 (Blue), 6028 (White), Senior (5560), Red (5221)

Website: www.riversidegolfclub.com

The Best:
1. The driving range

2. The practice sand trap and pitching range

3. All of the sand traps and other hazards

4. The flat land that is friendly to walkers

5. The Clubhouse/restaurant

6. The scenery

7. The staff

Before/After

1. The Clubhouse/restaurant

2. The driving range

3. The practice sand trap and pitching range

Alcohol

Alcohol can be purchased in the clubhouse. Players cannot bring their own alcohol.

Riverside Golf Club has been open for almost a century, but the current owners have only been in possession of the land for a few years. Patty and Jon Flood, along with friends Linda and Bruce Christiansen, have done well so far in their attempt to take care of the course designed and built by William Baird in 1915.

I’ve noticed that Riverside’s location can deter potential golfers, but it really isn’t far from Erie. All you need to do is head up Peach Street and continue up Route 19 and you’re there.

Riverside is built on a flat piece of land, which is great for people who want to walk. A flat course is usually thought to be less challenging than a hilly course, but Riverside has done everything possible to make a flat course challenging. The course has over 45 sand traps and 6 ponds.

Trees are also a challenge to golfers of any skill level. Riverside is an old course, but the trees are even older. They’ve had decades to grow and form the fairways as well as obstruct the path to the green.

The flat terrain certainly welcomes walkers, but it is also worth mentioning that Riverside has paved cart paths. That’s something most courses in the area can’t say.

Even though the course isn’t the toughest to walk, the owners make sure to have water coolers at every tee box on the hotter days. A restroom is also located amongst the holes for those who drink too much water.

Riverside’s gigantic clubhouse serves as the center point for everything the course has to offer. The Pro Shop is the place to buy green fees and golf supplies and also leads down into the locker rooms. The locker rooms, which even have showers, allow for golfers to clean up and head to the lounge or restaurant after a round.

Riverside’s restaurant, which overlooks the 18th hole, is a place to relax and grab a bite to eat. Even as I talked to owner Patty Flood, people called ahead to order some burgers.

The banquet area conveniently has its own entrance due to the number of events Riverside holds. The room holds a few hundred people, making it ideal for wedding parties and golf outings. Riverside even has special deals with nearby hotels. The people at Riverside will even organize group outings for you. If you’re planning a golfing trip, this is something to take advantage of.

In addition to the golf course, Riverside also has a putting green, driving range, practice sand trap, and chipping range. The putting green is standard; most courses have one. But the driving range is nice because it is rare to find one paired with a public course. Lake Pleasant and Mound Gove, two courses I previously covered, recently closed their driving ranges.

The practice sand trap and chipping range are also nice to have. Riverside is the first course I’ve covered to have either one.

Although Riverside has plenty to offer, the course doesn’t have a hotel associated with it. The course was once associated with the Riverside Inn & Dinner Theatre, but different ownership has separated the two. The course and inn are two separate entities, but they still make a great pairing for those traveling to Cambridge Springs.

I really had no idea what to expect from Riverside Golf Club. I had never been out there for a round of golf. There was much more to the course than I would have thought.

Posted in: Uncategorized