Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Metro NY Golf Season Gets Underway

The Metropolitan Golf Association put the ball in play yesterday at Plainfield Country Club. The annual MGA Media Day featured a review of a very full calendar of competitions as well as a panel discussion featuring 2009 Met Open winner Andrew Giuliani, PGA Tour winner Bill Britton, and Plainfield head pro Scott Paris. Some notes from the event:

MGA Director of Competitions Brian Mahoney is praying for clear skies since there just aren't any dates to make up rainouts in a calendar packed this year with 22 events. The year begins with the MGA Senior Amateur Championship at Metedeconk on May 7-8 and ends with the French-American Challenge October 16-17 at Sebonack. Highlights include the Met Open to be played at Plainfield August 21-23, the Ike June 25-26 at Atlantic, the Met Amateur August 2-5 at Hollywood, and the MGA Senior Open August 27-28 at Garden City. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Met Junior Championship, which will be celebrated at Nissequogue Golf Club. Mahoney also pointed out that the MGA has teamed up with the Met Women's Golf Assn to present three events including the Women's Met Amateur June 5 at the Stanwich Club and the Women's Public Links Championship July 11 at Flanders Valley.

Plainfield CC head pro Scott Paris said that the Barclay's will return to the club in 2015 with another spot on the rota scheduled for either 2018 or 2019. The 2011 FedEx Cup event was shortened to 54 holes by Hurricane Irene. Paris explained that the Donald Ross masterpiece underwent a ten-year reconstruction under architect Gil Hanse, who also masterminded the Sleepy Hollow restoration. Using Ross's original drawings and photos of the course in its early days, Hanse removed a forest of trees, stretched the greens back to their generally expansive size, restored fairway widths and lines, removed two water hazards that were really just there to handle drainage anyway, and added a scant 150 yards to the course. The green contours weren't changed although seven collection areas were restored to add variety to the approaches that can be played.

Bill Britton, who won the 1979 Met Open at Plainfield as well the 1989 PGA Tour Centel Classic and tied for seventh in the 1990 Masters, pointed out that while the course has been substantially improved, the angles into the greens remain crucial to shooting a decent score. Britton is currently head pro at Trump National Colt's Neck

In addition to his victory in the 2009 Met Open, Andrew Giuliani won the 2005 Ike Championship at Plainfield. He also starred in the Golf Channel's Big Break series shortly after turning pro. The ebullient Giuliani said the experience was a positive one despite the reality TV sturm und drang that viewers see on the screen in their living rooms. "In regular golf," he says, "you have a few holes to settle into your game. On the Big Break, you warm up then sit on the bench for two hours before you have to hit one shot--perfectly. It was actually a good way to learn to focus on playing one shot at a time."

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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