Olivia Mehaffey to Play Youth Olympic Golf for Ireland

Olivia Mehaffey with her caddie in Morroco.

Olivia Mehaffey with her caddie in Morroco.

Rory McIlroy announced on June 18th that he will play for Ireland, not Great Britain, in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. But he won’t be the first to play Olympic Golf for Ireland, Olivia Mehaffey will as she tees it up in the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China in August.

Mehaffey set to break new ground in China.

Olivia Mehaffey will make history in China later this year as Ireland’s first female golfer at the Summer Youth Olympic Games.

The sport will make its debut in Nanjing during the August 16-28 tournament – the second Summer Youth Olympic Games – with the Scarva teenager selected thanks to Order of Merit rankings success.

The 16-year-old member of Tandragee Golf Club will compete across 54 holes in the singles then team up with Ireland’s male player for the team event. The overall entry field for Zhongshan International Golf Club is set at 64 players from 32 nations.

“It is such a wonderful honour and I am so excited,” she said. “We will spend some time first in Hong Kong to try and acclimatise then it is down to the real work in China.

“I also feel so proud to be the first female player to represent Ireland in golf.”

Mehaffey has domestic tournaments planned alongside events in Estonia and Slovenia as part of preparations for the China showpiece.

Photograph of Olivia Mehaffey with her appointed caddy in Morocco during the 16-year-old’s Ladies’ European Tour debut. The Scarva teenager will head off to China later this year for the Summer Youth Olympic Games.

Story & Photograph Courtesy of the Portadown Times. Portadown is a town in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Byron Nelson, Golf’s Legendary Gentleman…

The statue of Byron Nelson looks normal size from 30 yards but up close his story is so inspirational it is bigger than life.

The statue of Byron Nelson looks normal size from 30 yards but up close his story is so inspirational it is bigger than life.

I went to Dallas to capture the Spirit of Byron Nelson. I spent three nights at the Four Seasons Resort & Spa in a villa overlooking the 18th green of the TPC Four Seasons Resort/Las Colinas Course. The HP Byron Nelson Championship has been in existence since 1944 when Byron Nelson won the inaugural event. Since 1983, when Ben Crenshaw won, it has been played on the TPC Las Colinas Course. There is golf history everywhere on this resort property but especially on the Byron Nelson Plaza where, in the watchful eye of a clock tower (Byron loved clocks), there is a nine foot statue of the Legend of Golf.

What I realized is that when you are 30-40 yards away from Mr. Nelson’s statue he looks almost mortal, no bigger than any of the golfers that pass by, even another charter member of The Sports Club, also named Byron Nelson (true fact, no relation). But when you come closer, talk to folks who knew him personally and absorb the memorabilia in Champions Hall you get a sense of the Spirit of Byron Nelson.

Andy Reistetter with Mrs. Peggy Nelson at the 2010 BNC.

Andy Reistetter with Mrs. Peggy Nelson at the 2010 BNC.

I had the pleasure of corresponding with Mrs. Peggy Nelson who I met at the 2010 BNC when she released her book, Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance, and Lessons Learned from Golf’s Greatest Gentleman. Here is a Q&A with Mrs. Nelson:Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf:   What are your personal thoughts about the Olympics? What is your favorite event, favorite Olympian, most memorable moment and why? Did you and Byron watch them on TV or ever attend in person? Do you have any recollection of conversations you had with Byron about the Olympics in general?

Mrs. Nelson:     Byron and I always admired Olympic athletes and the dedication and sacrifice it takes for both them and their families to reach that highest point of endeavor, no matter which sport it is.  My favorite event would be figure skating, and Peggy Fleming was quite a heroine for me–I was honored to meet her one day many years ago and she was so lovely and gracious–every inch the champion still.  Of course, her Olympic victory was before the event became so prodigiously athletic with all the requirements for multiple jumps, so grace and fluidity were more important.

Byron and I never attended an Olympic event  but watched quite a bit on TV, and were always amazed at the talent and determination the athletes displayed.  We didn’t talk about it a lot nor do I recall Byron saying anything specific about the events, though he enjoyed watching.  I think he liked the summer sports more, because he was never a fan of cold and snow!

Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf:     Byron played on two Ryder Cups and captained a third team. What did it mean to him to play for his country? What emotion would characterize it best? What thought or story was his favorite about the Ryder Cup?

Mrs. Nelson:     Byron loved playing and captaining in the Ryder Cup–he said being selected captain by the team was the greatest honor he ever received in golf.  Of course, he loved America and so was very proud to play for the USA; at the same time, when the Ryder Cup was held in Portland, Oregon in ’47 and the British team’s expenses were provided by an American. Byron was very pleased to be part of that team as well as being glad the competition could resume.  As for stories, you might check his autobiography How I Played the Game, because there are several in there.

Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf:     Golf will be played in the Olympics for the first time in 112 years in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In your opinion, what would it have meant to Byron to be an Olympic Golfer? How do you think he would have defined the “Olympic Spirit for Golfers?” How would it have differed, if in any way, from his Ryder Cup experience?

Mrs. Nelson:     One of the things Byron admired about both the Ryder Cup and the Olympics was the spirit of good sportsmanship that pervades both types of competition.  I don’t know that he ever realized there had been golf in the Olympics so long before he was even born, but he surely would have loved to be on the American team–well, if he could maybe have qualified ….!

Good luck with your Olympic Story!

Peggy Nelson

Thank you Mrs. Peggy Nelson for your wonderful insight and sharing Byron with his admiring golf fans through your book and theses responses.   Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf

CLICK here for Part 1 of a Video Interview with Tim Cusick, Director of Golf Instruction, Four Seasons Resort & Spa Dallas.

CLICK here for Part 2 of a Video Interview with Tim Cusick, Director of Golf Instruction, Four Seasons Resort & Spa Dallas.

Andy Reistetter with Vail Tolbert, Director of Public Relations at the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas.

Andy Reistetter with Vail Tolbert, Director of Public Relations at the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas.

I received an awesome tour of the property from Vail Tolbert, the Director of Public Relations. Then  I interviewed Tim Cusick, the Director of Golf Instruction and Rob Cowan, The Sports Club Manager along with the other Byron Nelson, an amateur member of the Sports Club.

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Rob Cowan, Manager of the Sports Club, Four Seasons Resort & Spa Dallas.

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Byron Nelson, an amateur member of the Sports Club with a familiar name.

The highlight, of course, was playing the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas course (no pun intended). My playing partners were Tom Horan, host of the popular Golf Talk America radio program “Speaking of Golf,” and a delightful father Steve & son Joey duo from Denver, Colorado. We surely felt the presence of Byron on his golf course at his home club.

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Tom Horan, host of “Speaking of Golf” on the 17th tee at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas.

Here are my pictures and comments from this inspirational visit to the professional home of Byron Nelson:  

The Schmid Golfing Family of Uruguay!

With Carla & Gregor Schmid and their daughter Priscilla.

With Carla & Gregor Schmid and their daughter Priscilla.

One of the most delightful days of the “Journey to Olympic Golf” was New Year’s Eve Day, December 31st. It was a day right out of Steve Martin’s 1987 comedy movie “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.” My version was more spiritual and would be called “Ferry, Buses & a Taxi.” It started in Buenos Aires, Argentina and ended at the incredible New Year’s Eve celebration in Punta del Estes, Uruguay. The highlight of the highlights of that day (there were many) was meeting the Scmid Golfing Family (most of the family) at the Golf Club of Uruguay in Montevideo, Uruguay. The video interviews speak for themselves and the message is clear that the spirit of family and golf is alive and flourishing in Uruguay!

CLICK here for Video Interview with Carla & Gregor Schmid.

CLICK here for Video Interview with daughter Priscilla, a junior golfer.

The 12th green, note the two approach shots! The picture does not do the view of the water justice. It is spectacular!

The 12th green, note the two approach shots! The picture does not do the view of the water justice. It is spectacular!

A life-changing moment occurred for me during the round of golf that afternoon with a mystic former diplomat. Her name was  Rasha and we were walking to the 12th green. The Golf Club of Uruguay sits on a perched corner of land surrounded by water. One end vista overlooks the steepled 1700s city of Montevideo while the other end is coastline forever with nothing but water in between. Seeing the vast water it occurred to me that this was the first time in nearly three months that I had seen the Atlantic Ocean and felt a twinge of homesickness for Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida far to the north but on the same ocean.

Satellite view of Rio de la Plata, courtesy of Wikipedia. To the lower right of the brown river is Buenos Ares, Argentina.Tthe white star upper right is Montevideo, Uruguay.

Satellite view of Rio de la Plata, courtesy of Wikipedia. To the lower right of the brown river is Buenos Ares, Argentina.Tthe white star upper right is Montevideo, Uruguay.

The wise and articulate Rasha corrected me stating that what laid before us was the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver). It is the widest river in the world at 140 miles wide at its mouth with the Atlantic Ocean and separates Uruguay from Argentina. Punta del Estes (Point of the East) was another 83 miles to the north along the forever coastline and that is where one finds the Atlantic Ocean.

She was right, I was wrong. She was a humble Swede, me a male American so of course I had to counter with something of intelligence. I looked for the late afternoon sun in the southwest sky  and pointed with authority over the vast waterness confidently towards where I knew Buenos Aires to be. After all I had woke up there and it was simple geography and geometry. Then she said something that I will forever remember and let it impact me for the rest of my life.

“No,” my sincere host said, “the sun is in the north.”

The Monserrate Sanctuary high above Bogota, Colombia.

The Monserrate Sanctuary high above Bogota, Colombia.

Then  she pointed ninety degrees to the left of where I had pointed and though I could not see it I knew that was the correct direction of Buenos Aires. I realized at that moment for the first time in my life that things I take for granted and to be fundamental to my way of life could be askew, even possibly the exact opposite of what I know to be true. At the same moment I was driving up the mountain at night to Reunion in Guatemala and experiencing the fiery red lava flow of a volcano. I was at the Monserrate Sanctuary high above Bogota, Colombia. The location of the sun, so simple a thing, so prominent a thing in my life wasn’t were I thought it could be.

What else may I have miscalculated in my life? Assumptions of childhood, relationships and pursuits of my life? Why did this brief interchange, something so easy to discount, laugh about and forget  stay so central to my thoughts ever since that final afternoon of the old year? I guess we don’t really need to factor in the exact location of the sun as we go about our daily proceedings but maybe the sun is a good place to start when we look within to our attitudes, perspectives and view of life. For one it is always shining down somewhere in the world. Secondly even if it is a dark and raining day it is still shining above the clouds. There is always hope for later today and tomorrow and I hope I never forget that sunny afternoon revelation so graciously given to me by Rasha of Uruguay.

 

 

Alberto Valenzuela, Mr. Colombia when it comes to Golf!

Alberto Valenzuela, the premier Golf Course Superintendent & Architect in Colombia.

Alberto Valenzuela, the premier Golf Course Superintendent & Architect in Colombia.

The third chapter of the “Journey to Olympic Golf” started with a flight from Panama City, Panama to Cartgena, Colombia and a visit to the Karibana Golf Resort. It was a privilege to meet and play golf with Joseph Mildenberg, part owner and  the Sales & Marketing Guru of the only seaside golfing resort in Colombia. He was a happy owner taking note of the extraordinary work down in a short period of time by his new golf superintendent Alberto Valenzuela. The Jack Nicklaus design was lush and a sea of its own emerald green adjacent to the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Joseph would tell you he has brought the Karibana golf course back to life!

CLICK here for a VIDEO INTERVIEW with Alberto Valenzuela at Karibana.

With Alberto Valenzuela at Karibana.

With Alberto Valenzuela at Karibana.

Alberto was born in Cali and raised in Bogota. He played golf and was educated at Fresno State in California before constructing golf courses around the world for various designers. Now, back home for good with 29 years of experience in the golf course business he simply says “I am from Colombia” and “golf means everything to me, I sleep, breathe, and eat golf, it is my passion.” That’s why I nicknamed him “Mr. Colombia” when it comes to golf. Of course, that title goes to Camilo Villegas when it comes to playing competitive golf at the highest level and being a champion on the PGA TOUR. The ‘Cheerful Colombian,’ a friend of the Villegas family pointed me in the direction of Camilo’s hometown of Medellin and the Llanogrande golf course he grew up on.

CLICK here for a VIDEO INTERVIEW with Alberto Valenzuela at Llanogrande.

With Fernando Villegas & Alberto Valenzuela at Llanogrande for

With Fernando Villegas & Alberto Valenzuela at Llanogrande for breakfast.

From Cartegena I flew to Bogota for a few days and then to Medellin as a guest of Sergio Saldarriaga, the President of Club Campestre Medellin at both their ‘country’ Llanogrande course and their ‘city’ Medellin course. In Medellin I met and interviewed Camilo and Manuel’s swing coach Rogelio Gonzalez but that is another story to tell and post along with my interview with Sergio. I played the Llanogrande course and spent the next day with Alberto and Fernando Villegas who is the father of Camilo and Manuel. What a day of insight into the minds of two great architects. Plus to be where Camilo grew up and to walk the golf course as he did as a kid before going onto the University of Florida and fame and fortune on the PGA TOUR was an awesome adventure. The video below speaks to the teamwork and resulting creativity between Alberto and Fernando. It also includes an interview with Fernando (with Alberto acting as translator) speaking to raising two champion golfers, having them partner together in a World Cup representing Colombia and the possibilities of them playing golf in the 2016 Olympics.

CLICK here for a VIDEO INTERVIEW of Fernando Villegas and Clips of Two Working Architects.

Enjoy these pictures from Llanogrande Medellin:

Enjoy these pictures from Karibana:

 

 

Harry Horton, Golf’s All-Time Gentleman…

Garnet & Harry, two love birds forever...

Garnet & Harry, two love birds forever…

The world lost a dear soul today and Heaven is more special with Harry Horton teeing off there late this afternoon, embracing his new life. If you knew Harry Horton you knew that he transcended both worlds- a generous soul, always thinking of others and the truest gentleman I have ever known. My heart goes out to his widow Garnet who, like the precious gemstone, is the pretty version of Harry (not that he wasn’t a handsome man) with such a loving and gentle spirit. Their love for each other was so special that all in their presence felt it. I remember the crystal ball that hung over their kitchen sink, how it radiated all the colors of the rainbow. Their love was like that, it made everyone feel accepted and special.

The Three Musketeers in knickers!

The Three Musketeers in knickers!

I remember the day I met Harry walking out to join his group at Cherokee CC in Madison, Wisconsin. I went there after meeting Dick Donovan, the world’s foremost bibliographer of golf’s written word and being introduced to the Golf Collector’s Society (GCS). As I reached the par-3 fifth hole I saw this gentleman in knickers sink a 25-foot putt for a deuce with a hickory-shafted putter. From that moment on Harry and I knew we were “kindred spirits” as we share the same day of birth- the 15th of October. His birth year was the same as my mother’s- 1924. We would all be blessed to live the 89 years of life like Harry Horton did. God bless him and his dear departed soul tonight.

I just did a search on my PC for Harry and the list is rather long. Soon after we met there was the road trip home from the GCS show in Dayton, Ohio in January with the Horton’s and Joe and Elaine DeWulf. I drove Joe’s van and we had a merry time even though it was a few weeks after Christmas.

Harry Horton, Mr. Hickory Golfer.

Harry Horton, Mr. Hickory Golfer.

There was the time Harry flew to my hometown of Binghamton, New York. Why? Just because he was my friend and wanted to see my hometown and the golf course I grew up on- Ely Park Municipal Golf Course. We spent time with Dick Donovan and my brother “LP” who is a Cornell University golf course architect, trained in the same curriculum as Robert Trent Jones Sr. We played one of the golf courses Larry redesigned. What fun we had- four amigos- the book guy, the hickory club guy, the architect and me!

I read once that there is an old Chinese proverb that every 40 year old man needs an 80 year old man for a friend and every 80 year old man needs a 40 year man for a friend. Harry and I are 35 years apart and having known him for the last twelve years I could not agree more.

Harry was the world’s foremost restorer of Hickory-shafted golf clubs. I can go on-and-on but will let the pictures do a little talking too.

Harry Horton taught me a lot about restoring hickory clubs and a lot more about how to live and enjoy life. Good bye for now, I love you!

Harry Horton taught me a lot about restoring hickory clubs and a lot more about how to live and enjoy life. Good bye for now, I love you!

Of course there are tears and sadness tonight but more importantly there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having known Harry Horton the way I and many others did. There is that old golf joke about there being good news and bad news. The good news is that there are unbelievable nice golf courses in Heaven. The bad news is that you have a tee time tomorrow morning. If that is God’s will for me then so be it as I look forward to teeing it up some day with Harry, my dad and Uncle George among others. But until then, when I can (are there Scottish pubs in Lima Peru?), I will find a Guinness and toast my dear friend and kindred spirit Harry Horton.

The “Journey to Olympic Golf” started at the Glen Echo Country Club in St’ Louis playing with my hickory clubs (rather Harry’s). This journey has always been inspired by Harry’s love of golf and life. In fact one the earliest versions was to have Harry and Jack Fleck join in on the hickory golf kickoff. So let’s make it official, this “Journey to Olympic Golf” is hereby officially dedicated to Harry Horton!

God Bless you Harry Horton and a big hug to you Garnet!

Paula Caray, Going to Panama City to Win the Series!

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Paula Caray.

Andy Reistetter with Paula Caray, Panama City, Panama.

Andy Reistetter with Paula Caray, Panama City, Panama.

I first saw Paula Caray sitting at a window seat having breakfast at the Courtyard Panama at Multiplaza Mall in Panama City, Panama. Something drew me to her so I said good morning, introduced myself and asked if I could join her for breakfast. Only a few minutes into our conversation I knew she had a story to tell. An inspirational story, not many people know the details about. How many people, maybe I am alone in this, know someone intimately involved with utilizing stem cells to improve their health? I want to know more about this potential futuristic cure.

You might recognize the name if you are a baseball fanatic. A Cubs fan knows the name Harry Caray and a Braves fan knows the name Skip Caray. Now you will know the name Paula Caray and her struggle with throat cancer, thyroid issues and arthritis. She is taking the initiative with stem cell treatments in Panama City, Panama. Let’s hope the healing takes place, the pioneer becomes the settler, and Paula and her beloved Braves go all the way to another World Series and beyond in 2014!

 

 

Connie & Ernesto Cantu

CLICK here for Video Interview with Connie & Ernesto Cantu at the Hostel Ulap Tasica in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

Connie & Ernesto Cantu outside their room at the Hotel Ulap Tasica in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

Connie & Ernesto Cantu outside their room at the Hotel Ulap Tasica in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

There are some people you are destined to meet and some places you are destined to visit on an odyssey like “Journey to Olympic Golf.” Connie & Ernesto Cantu and the Hostel Ulap Tasica in Matagalpa, Nicaragua made me know that statement to be true. I first heard of them from a tout who helped me at the Guatemala/El Salvador border. From his stories of a couple that was many weeks ahead of me I knew they were someone I wanted to meet along the way and get their story. So I asked for and he gave me their email. As Ernesto says in the video why not meet someone that comes into your life. JTOG is about finding inspiration, the inspiration to be an Olympic Golfer and the inspiration to be good people sharing a little time and space on this Earth with others I think may be the same inspiration. Golf is like life after all. Even if one does not play golf, we all play life.

Connie & Ernesto quietly rocking their life away in Matagalpa...

Connie & Ernesto quietly rocking their life away in Matagalpa…

So I ventured off the main road to Managua to a little town called Matagalpa arriving as the sun set. We simply visited the evening away and upon awakening the next morning headed to the Hostel Ulap Tasica which was nearby. Connie and Ernesto stayed there for 12 nights when they first came to Matagalpa. We went there for breakfast and I could see how it would be hard to leave before lunch a week or two later in one’s life. So here is to the inspiration of Connie & Ernesto Cantu, gosh, I love how you love and love life to its fullest. As Ernesto said “live life until you die.” Always, all the best to you!

 

Perry Dye in El Salvador at El Encanto

I had the distinct pleasure to meet and interview Perry Dye in San Salvador, El Salvador. Here is a three-part video interview where Perry tells stories about how golf came to the Dye Family, explains his passion and mission in life and shares the vision of golf in the future.

CLICK here for Video Interview with Pete Dye Part 1 of 3   How golf found the Dye Family.

CLICK here for Video Interview with Pete Dye Part 2 of 3   Perry’s Passion & Mission in Life.

CLICK here for Video Interview with Pete Dye Part 3 of 3  Drive Dye’s Designs in Central America.

 

Dye Designs has established a worldwide reputation for unique, environmentally sensitive, ecological, championship, resort and public golf courses.

Perry Dye (excerpted from www.DyeDesigns .com)

perry Perry Dye is the elder son in a family whose contributions have become an integral part of the history and tradition of golf course design and construction.  In 1922, Perry’s grandfather designed and constructed a nine hole golf course in Urbana, Ohio.  This is where Perry’s father, Pete Dye, grew up and received his early training. This heritage, which began in the Midwestern United States, has been carried from generation to generation and has provided the foundation for the creation of some of the world’s finest golf courses.

All members of the Dye family have contributed their unique talents and knowledge to the improvement of the game.  Altogether Perry, his father Pete, his mother Alice and his younger brother P.B. have placed the “Dye” name on over 200 courses around the world.  Golfers enjoy over 4 million rounds of golf per year on Perry Dye/Dye Designs golf courses alone.

Perry began his apprenticeship under his father at the early age of 12.  Perry’s tutelage began at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, IN, and The Golf Club in Columbus, OH, and continued at other Midwest courses until the early 70s.  During his college years, Perry worked on the construction of such well known courses as Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, OK;  The Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs, CO;  and Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.  Full-time work in golf course design and construction began in the 80s, with Plum Creek Golf and Country Club in Castle Rock, CO;  Glenmoor Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, CO; Riverdale Dunes in Brighton, CO;  and Rancho Santa Fe Farms Golf Club in  Rancho Santa Fe, CA.

During his travels and work in the golf industry, Perry recognized the growing demand and market for worldwide golf services and challenging Dye golf courses.  Realizing there were no companies in the industry that could provide technical assistance and expertise to land developers/owners in creating golf operations that would enhance the environment and the community, Dye Designs went international in 1986.

Perry first took Dye Designs to Japan in 1986 and has since been involved in the design, construction and maintenance of 22 courses there.  Perry realized that golf courses can be a catalyst for bridging the gap between cultures and countries.  Designs for and completed golf course projects in Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Australia, Austria, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, and the United States are keeping Dye Designs busy around the globe.  The logging of millions of air miles are an indication of the amount of time Perry devotes to visiting projects to ensure that every detail of the design gives the course the Dye trademark of excellence.

Perry’s dedication and contributions to golf are evidenced by his work to promote the growth and economic structure of the golf course industry through mutual cooperation and support of allied industry and professional groups, civic organizations, and the general public.  Perry has been a featured speaker at conferences held throughout the world on various topics that affect golf course design and construction.

Dye Designs has received several awards of recognition for entrepreneurial leadership and contributions to the growth of business in the state of Colorado, including Colorado Company of the Year in both 1988 and 1989.

In March, 1996, Perry O. Dye was accepted into the prestigious American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA).  The Society states, “A member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects is one by virtue of his/her knowledge of the game, training, experience, vision and inherent ability, in all ways qualified to design and prepare specifications for a course of functional and aesthetic perfection.  An ASGCA member is further qualified to execute and oversee the implementation on the ground of the plans and specifications to create an enjoyable layout that challenges golfers of all abilities and exemplifies the highest standards and traditions of golf.  He/she will counsel in all phases of the work to protect the best interest of the client.”

Perry 0. Dye is unique among golf course architects in his participation and support of the Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA).  Perry is a Charter Member and past president of the association.  In 2004, Perry received the inaugural Perry Dye Award, which honors “exceptional individuals who have unselfishly contributed their influence to foster positive changes for the association and have continually endeavored to make it better.”

Dye Designs has established a working relationship with many of the “certified golf course builders” who are members of the GCBAA.  These companies have been certified by the GCBAA as a result of their experience and on-going participation in the golf course construction industry.  Dye Designs will gladly provide introduction to these companies during the cost estimation and bidding phase of the golf course project.

Perry was recently recognized by the country of Guatemala for his contributions to the tourist industry. To contact Perry, email him at perry@dyedesigns.com.

Jack Fleck, 1955 United States Open Champion

With Carmen & Jack Fleck at the Outback Steakhouse in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

With Carmen & Jack Fleck at the Outback Steakhouse in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Right after starting the “Journey to Olympic Golf” at Glen Echo CC in St. Louis I headed south to Fort Smith, Arkansas to visit my friend Jack Fleck and his wife Carmen. I first met Jack and his buddy (and now my Czech mate) Ed Tallach at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. We met again at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach where I interviewed Jack and since then we have always seen each other at The Masters as well. I was excited to interview Mr. Fleck again to capture his insights on the “spirit of golf within” as I felt that he, as well as anybody, had that special feeling when he won the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in 1955.

Jack Fleck at lunch at Hardscrabble CC.

Jack Fleck at lunch at Hardscrabble CC.

Jack gave me all the time in the world for our interview early the next morning. His life in golf started as a caddie at age 14 during the Great Depression when he traveled 14 miles to get to the golf course. Immediately after high school he declared himself a “pro” and combined managing golf courses as a “golf professional” with traveling south during the winters to compete as a “professional golfer.” He spoke about his devotion to the game and his evolution into an “ambassador for golf.”

 

CLICK here for the VIDEO INTERVIEW with Jack Fleck, the 1955 United States Open Champion.

With Jack Fleck and Jeremy Moe at Hardscrabble CC.

With Jack Fleck and Jeremy Moe at Hardscrabble CC.

Jack drove me over to Hardscrabble CC in Fort Smith, Arkansas to introduce me to his friend Jeremy Moe, the Head Golf Professional. He wanted to give me a tour of his home golf course. I wanted to meet Jeremy and see Hardscrabble CC too. In addition I wanted to get a golf lesson from Jack, something I had dreamed of doing for the last 20 years since I saw an article where it noted he lived in Northwest Arkansas and gave golf lessons. If Jack Fleck is a stand-up golfer, a lover of the game and quite proficient at it (an understatement) then Jeremy Moe is his younger version. What a great guy! You can tell immediately there is something very special about him and Hardscrabble CC. I like that Jack Fleck introduced Jeremy in the video interview and the camera captures a bit of the special friendship between these two men.

CLICK here for VIDEO INTERVIEW with Jeremy Moe, Head Golf Professional at Hardscrabble CC.

Jack driving me around Hardscrabble CC.

Jack driving me around Hardscrabble CC.

What a treat to have Jack Fleck give me a personal tour of Hardscrabble CC. If Fort Smith, Arkansas is home to Jack Fleck (it is) then the Hardscrabble club is like his personal golf library or his favorite room in the house. As host of the LPGA and the Web.com Tour for 13 years (last in 2010 when called the Nationwide Tour) this golf course is a world class venue tough enough for the pros and enjoyable for the members. Jack loves trees and the trees and pleasant terrain at Hardscrabble make for a refreshing walk in the natural outdoors every round.

CLICK here for the VIDEO of Andy’s golf lesson with Jack Fleck.

Presenting a Champion at Olympic CC with an Olympic Golf Gold Medal.

Presenting a Champion at Olympic CC with an Olympic Golf Gold Medal.

What a treat to have a golf lesson with Jack Fleck, the 1955 United States Open Champion! What a great sense of humor this man has. Of course I hit a right-to-left shot and after seeing my swing his comment was “I hope it was a dogleg left!” I will always remember his summary comment of “you have a good swing and you should play more.” I will take his advice for sure. For the record and in response to Jack’s concern that I might not get to play much on the “Journey to Olympic Golf.” In hindsight it was a disguised golf trip where I played 42 times on 35 different golf courses!

CLICK here for VIDEO of Jack Fleck receiving an Olympic Golf Gold Medal.

Having come to Jack’s place directly from the Glen Echo CC in St. Louis an idea came to me on the drive south (unfortunately along with a speeding ticket for Torch). The wonderful folks at Glen Echo gave me a full-sized replica of the 1904 Olympic Golf Gold Medal. I realized Jack and his generation missed the opportunity to play golf in the Olympics. I knew that he won the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club and that club was named for and based on the modern Olympics which started in 1896. I thought it proper that Jack receive the Olympic Golf Gold Medal so I presented it to him just before saying good bye and leaving him at Hardscrabble CC.

Here are the pictures  and more stories in the captions from my visit with Jack and his wife Carmen in Fort Smith, Arkansas. What an honor and privilege!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Epps, Houston’s Preeminent Golf Professional

I spent the last two days interviewing Charlie Epps, also known as “The Golf Doctor” and the longtime coach, friend and trainer of two-time major champion Angel Cabrera. Charlie is a fascinating, generous and endearing sort of guy and I can easily see why he is such teaching golf professional and coach that can help professional golfers to the highest level.

I realized that as the “Journey to Olympic Golf” goes through Mexico, Central & South America there is only one World Golf Hall of Famer on the way- Argentina’s Roberto De Vicenzo. He was Charlie’s idol as he himself grew up in Argentina from age nine to twenty-one. Cabrera is likely to be the second Hall of Famer from Argentina.

Interestingly, Charlie did a similar road trip to the “Journey to Olympic Golf,” driving from Oakland, California to Buenos Aires, Argentina with some friends in 1967.

Here is a video interview I did with Charlie at Redstone

More videos, pictures, & posts coming… what would you like me to write about?