Alum Exemplifies True Sportsmanship on World StageOne of the most appealing things about the game of golf is the sportsmanship; it’s a gentleman’s game. History has proven this time and again, and while there are individual hiccups here and there, you’ll never find another sport where players call penalties on themselves, in spite of the pleas of rules officials to do the opposite. It is because of this tenet that some of golf’s most notable moments have been recorded.
Take for example, the first round of the 1925 U.S. Open. Bobby Jones’ approach shot to the 11th hole's elevated green fell short into the deep rough of the embankment. As he took his stance to pitch onto the green, the head of his club brushed the grass and caused a slight movement of the ball. He took the shot, and then informed his playing partner Walter Hagen and the USGA official covering their match that he was calling a penalty on himself. Officials argued with Jones but he insisted and took a 77 instead of 76. His choice would cost him the Open. The one-stroke penalty obligated a playoff, which he lost.
How about Ben Hogan? In his first pro golf tournament, the Texas Open of 1930, he quit after making the halfway cut because he decided he wasn't good enough to compete at that level, which is nothing short of respectable. These are moments of true sportsmanship.
In a similar fashion, Maggie Budzar, a 2010 PGCC Orlando graduate, acting as a PGA Transport official at this year’s Ryder Cup, lent a hand to Rory McIlroy, European team player, and world No. 1. McIlroy would have missed his Sunday singles tee time were it not for the assistance of Maggie and another transport official, Erica Stoll. McIlroy’s error was chalked up to confusion over time zones; he had set his watch to the wrong time zone, throwing his timeline off by an hour.
In an earlier published interview with The Guardian, Maggie shared her experience, saying “It was 10:30am, I knew [McIlroy's caddie] JP Fitzgerald had left about an hour earlier. I knew Rory's tee time was 11:25 and he was the third group to go off. And we still hadn't seen him.” She continues, "I started getting worried that something had happened to him or that he had taken a different ride to the course. There was only one room still in use when housekeeping checked and a male voice said not to come in. We figured it had to be him because by now we knew he wasn't at the course.”
At that point, Maggie made an executive decision. "I called the guys at the driving range to see if they had seen him. They hadn't so I called the European Tour officials to alert them. At first I was going to drive him to the course because I knew the way and we didn't want to put a volunteer under stress in the courtesy car. I then asked a trooper at the front if he could take him with the flash light on. He said that would be ‘OK’. I gave Rory the choice and he went straight to the front seat of the trooper's car. That was about 10:52."
Ultimately, had he arrived within 5 minutes of his 11:25 tee time, he would have lost the first hole; had he been any later than that, the match would have been forfeited to the United States team. Because the US later lost to Europe you might think that there would be some inner turmoil about the choice to help seal their victory, but there isn’t. That’s what sportsmanship is about; setting an example, and doing the right thing.
Deputy Chief of the Lombard Police Department, Pat Rollins, sped McIlroy on the 12-mile journey from his hotel to the Medinah course, and as thanks, during their celebrations on Sunday evening, Europe's team autographed two Medinah flags for Rollins. In an interview with "BBC Radio 5 - Live” Rollins shared that: "I took it as a job well done. I'm getting ribbed at work for this but in the end I am very proud of our force and our community. We did the right thing and of course I would have done the same for the American team."
World Class Golf Instructor Hosts Clinic for StudentsFor those of us who feel like we’re running in circles when it comes to improving our game, I have good news. Accomplished clinician, speaker and author, Wally Armstrong, who is also a former PGA Tour player and world-class golf instructor, says we’re on the right track. According to Armstrong, who took some time to stop by The Legends Golf Club and host a clinic for our students, the key to improving your game is to become a “circle-maker”.
So why believe that it’s that simple? Because Wally Armstrong knows the game... and he can prove that it is that simple. Armstrong earned his lifetime PGA Tour membership after competing in more than 300 PGA Tour events in his career, and in the 1978 Master's, he finished fifth, setting a rookie scoring record of 8 under par at the time. In addition to those credentials, he has consistently been hailed as one of the most innovative instructors in golf, in great part because of his props. He uses everything from hula hoops to hockey sticks, hangars, extremely short clubs, long ribbons etc.
If you believe in the adage ‘if you can’t do, teach’ you couldn’t be more mistaken, Armstrong can do both. A 1966 graduate of University of Florida he earned both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Education, and All American honors in golf. Recognized by his peers as an unparalleled instructor, Armstrong earned praise from Gary Player who said “'Wally is a true master at teaching the feel of the swing."
Armstrong, who played on the PGA Tour from 1974 to 1984, and the Nike and Senior PGA Tours in the mid-nineties, led PGCC students through some of the basics of his philosophy, demonstrating along the way. Our students got the opportunity, some through volunteering and others through nomination, to test out his theories and training aids.
Director of USGA SW Region Talks TurfBeing a student at PGCC means you get to benefit from one of the greatest perks of our vast network of relationships…spectacular guest speakers. Southern California-based Patrick Gross is an agronomist, but he’s more than that, he’s also the director of the USGA’s Southwest Region, and he has made it a tradition to speak at PGCC Temecula for the last three semesters, with another visit slated for spring 2013.
It might not seem like the most rewarding work, to create something that is going to be trampled and marred repeatedly, but turf specialists see the higher purpose and resign their work to this fate. Famous golfers make headlines and big money because they play well, but beyond their instincts, skill and talent, one must also consider that these guys are playing on the best courses around the world. Looking at it from that perspective, turf specialists and agronomists are the unsung heroes of golf because their success is very much affected by the elements, and golfers better than anybody understand this. As a man who performs visits with the USGA at over 130 facilities each year, Pat Gross understands this.
According to Dennis Orsborn, instructor for PGCC Temecula’s Turf Management course, “USGA agronomists are employed to help managers of golf facilities provide the best possible playing fields and sound operations; they assist with the science of turf growing, and the business practices of golf maintenance operations.” He continues, “They will directly assist the golf course superintendent and provide Turf Advisory Services for the Greens Committee and management.”
Mr. Orsborn brings Pat out to speak because what better person for students to talk to than the guy who’s been at the helm at Pebble Beach prepping the course for the U.S. Open in 2010? “I have known of Pat for more than 30 years. I have also called upon Pat to visit and consult on several properties that I was responsible for in the past.” Guest speakers of his caliber always make for exciting classroom energy. “Pat was enthusiastic to come and share his experience and to help explain the role USGA plays in keeping golf healthy. He is well known speaker and golf turf expert, and he is renowned in our industry.”
Gross, armed with a power point on his experiences, always encourages comments and questions along the way. Orsborn continues, “It is always a pleasure! Pat is obviously a passionate and enthusiastic Ambassador for the game, and students are eager to interact and ask questions relating to his involvement and encounters in the industry.” Orsborn concludes that, “It’s exciting to have such a renowned and well connected individual in the golfing world.”
Pat spent time reviewing what the USGA does to prepare and manage a U.S. Open site such as The Olympic Golf Club in San Francisco, but Orsborn feels that “The best part of Pat's presentation is a countdown from 1 to 10 the most frequently asked questions by greens committees and course management. The number one, of course, is ‘Why do they have to aerate the greens just when they are getting good?’ So, why do they have to aerate the greens just when they are getting good? Maybe you should swing by the campus next spring, catch Pat in the halls and ask him.