The Legends Golf Club Celebrates 1st Anniversary

AJGA November 5th marks the one year anniversary of the grand opening of The Legends Golf Club, and what a year it has been. It seems like just yesterday the Professional Golfers Career College opened our fourth campus as a means of providing our students with unparalleled access to hands-on experience. Beyond what the course offers to students, The Legends Golf Club is rapidly becoming a premier event destination in Southern California. In the last year the AJGA Junior Open, the CIF-SS Team Qualifier to State Regional Tournaments, the SAFE Tournament and the Student Venture Tournament selected The Legends Golf Club to be their home. In addition to these events, The Legends has hosted numerous clinics from world famous clinician, and former PGA Tour player, Wally Armstrong.

The truth is, though it appeared to have been an overnight transformation, the course’s success can be chalked up to dedicated teamwork, every single day. Nick Bland, Head Golf Professional, shares that “One of the things I love about my job is pouring blood and sweat into a property and project and seeing not just the aesthetic results, but also how we’ve had a community-wide impact on re-growing the game of golf in the area.” The Legends has become a truly one of a kind course and Bland continues, “My favorite event highlights are anytime we hold our ‘Masters Experience’ events. No one in the country besides Augusta itself does this.” So what exactly is the “Masters Experience?” PGCC students caddie for tournament players, outfitted in white jumpsuits and green caps after greeting their players in the parking lot and carry their bags to the course. Over the last year this type of extra-mile service has earned the course a loyal following, and that’s one of the most important things to Bland, and everybody on staff.

“We want to strive to become known in the local and surrounding areas to have the best customer service and overall experience. Not only is our golf course improving, we continue to hear great comments from our members and guests that our friendliness and ‘above and beyond’ approach is getting noticed.” Community outreach has been a priority from day-one, Bland continues, “The impact to the community is the biggest and most positive response. Even now, a year into taking over the property, there are still homeowners that stop by the clubhouse to give us their heartfelt ‘thank you’ for improving the golf course, the reputation, and their peace of mind.” Sandi Somerville, Chief Financial Officer and First Lady of Golf at PGCC, agrees “The course is looking great, and our men’s and women’s clubs are growing. We are so grateful for the continued support of our community!”

Beyond the scope of what the course has come to mean to the community, is the role it plays in the education of students at the Professional Golfers Career College. Seniors host open golf lessons every Thursday as a means of giving back, and learning to become better teachers. “Our Thursday Lesson Program is still is a big hit in the area, and we are seeing newcomers every week,” Bland noted, continuing, “engaging students to get first-hand experience in teaching the game of golf is one of the best classes at the golf college.”

Alum Exemplifies True Sportsmanship on World Stage

AJGA One 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.

AJGAIn 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 Students

AJGA For 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.