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Dell Match Play Championship Near

Blank Scoreboard

Blank Scoreboard

The Dell Match Play Scoreboard is in place at Austin Country Club, where the PGA Tour crews are working early and late to finish preparations for the event.  The match play format is unusual in that the field of 64 players will be divided into 16 groups of four.  Each group will have two days of matches, Wednesday and Thursday, against the players within that group to determine the final 16 players that will advance.  That format is reflected in the scoreboard.

Number 1 tee box is surrounded by bleachers and has a walkway over the cart path to allow players and foot traffic to gain access to the stands.  The bleachers are only a few feet from the tee box so spectators should have a close up look at the players.

Television towers, hospitality tents, vendor areas, signage for traffic, footbridges, tractor trailers full of golf equipment and television gear are appearing and finding their place.

Parking lots are filling up with tractor trailers of gear as the PGA’s traveling show settles in for the Dell Match Play Tournament.  The shot link trailer is parked immediately behind the practice tee.

shot link trailer

shot link trailer

For those fans who are not familiar with this technology, it is a system that feeds data to the announcers pertaining to distances that players face on a particular shot, as well as keeping stats on players performance.

Fences are being erected around the putting and chipping greens along with flags to add gaiety and an air of formality to the event. The putting green and chipping green both are in great shape in terms of the quality of the grass and it appears that the players will have quality conditions if the weather cooperates during the tournament.

cart path to the chipping green

cart path to the chipping green

The clubhouse lawn will serve as a food and beverage area where patrons with passes will be allowed to purchase food and drink as they watch the golfers.

Various ticket packages that have been sold that will allow access to different areas of the clubhouse and hospitality tents on the course.

Hospitality tents are everywhere on the back nine of the tournament course

clubhouse hospitality area

clubhouse hospitality area

which is normally the front nine for member play.  Holes 10 and 11 are on top of the hill then number 12 comes off the hill and runs along the lake.  Holes 13-15 run along Lake Austin in a links style golf course.  Number 16 begins the ascent back up the hill where 17 and 18 finish on top of hill.   This nine holes has room for spectators, hospitality and vendor areas that the other nine does not have available.

As anyone who lives in Austin knows, the “winter” has been mild.  All the trees, grasses, flora and fauna are in full tilt bloom and various shades of green adorn the hillsides.  It is a beautiful time the year and will provide great spectating.

number 12 tee box

number 12 tee box

It’s not Augusta but it’s nice scenery.

Shown here is the number 12 tee box with a flowering tree in the foreground.  The adjacent par three, number 11, has spectator seating behind the green and the hillside will allow spectators to stand or sit and view the action as well as the Lake Austin.

The tee shot on number 12 affords one of the best vistas on the course as players view the elevation change and can see the entire hole.   The fairway winds down the hill and zig zags toward the green alongside the water.  The bridge over lake Austin is cast against a background of the Texas Hill Country.  It’s worth seeing.DSC00026

There will be spectating opportunities from the water.  Boats will be allowed within 100 yards of the shoreline and there will be a no wake zone along the golf course from the bridge to the eastern most point of the course.

Information about parking, gate entrances, hours operations, etc. is available at this link.

More photos are available here.


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Photos Of Preparations At Austin Country Club

There are numerous projects underway at Austin Country Club in preparation for the Dell WGA Match Play Championship.  It’s a busy place as can be seen in the following photographs.

There are lots of logistical challenges for the PGA tour staff to overcome in staging this tournament.  As Austin golfers know, this course is situated in a residential neighborhood and the surrounding area is a high traffic area.

Media Center on the practice tee

Media Center on the practice tee

On top of all that, this year the tournament will take place on Easter weekend.  All of these factors combined require the tour staff to be creative and the Austin Country Club membership to be flexible and understanding of the challenges.  Creative solutions, such as locating the media center on the practice tee, are a byproduct of the situation.

Other accommodations are being made to make the course usable for the best players in the world.  For example,

Back of the range from 15 fairway during construction.

Back of the range from 15 fairway during construction.

the netting on the driving had to be raised to prevent players from driving balls out of the range into the course behind the range.  It was raised another 60 feet.  From the back of the range to the bottom of the fence is approximately 250 yards and slightly uphill.  The net is now about 120 feet high at the back of the range.  During construction, which lasted about a month, member were restricted to hitting shots of 100 yards or less to protect the workers.

Completed netting on the driving range

Completed netting on the driving range

The poles are now metal instead of wood and the construction quality is first class, which diminishes the somewhat distracting visuals of such a tall net.

Construction crews are busy and generally respectful of member play.  Staging areas for construction are located in the lower parking lots and there is continuous activity throughout the day. DSC00253 (2)Frost delays have slowed play more than the construction taking place and it has been interesting to see what is needed to stage an event of this magnitude.

The spectator views are spectacular on what will be the second nine during the tournament.  Shown below is a view of what will be the 12th hole as viewed from one of the hospitality areas. Spectators will be able to see tee shots land, second shots played and then follow the action to the green.DSC00256 (2)

There are approximately 11 structures in place and in speaking with PGA tour director of operations, there will be somewhere around 20 by the time all of the vendor tents are completed.

Some of these hospitality structures are substantial in size.  For example, the “1899” club that will house Austin Country Members and their guests is a three story facility.

DSC00249 (2)There will be some interesting shots available because of the hospitality tents.  For example, the tent behind the green on the 13th hole during the tournament might allow players to hit a tee shot directly at the green and use the tent for a backstop instead of laying up in the fairway.

From #4 tee box #(13 during the tournament) 280 carry to the green from back of the tee box

From #4 tee box #(13 during the tournament)
280 carry to the green from back of the tee box

Normally, it would not be prudent to aim at the green from the tee because the ball would run too far over the green if the player landed a ball on the green.

Players will also face interesting views as some of hospitality tents are plainly in the sight lines of some holes.

View from the 15th tee box.

View from the 15th tee box.

The 15thtee box during the tournament will look somewhat daunting as the players view the fairway that winds through the various hospitality areas.  Shown here is the view from that tee box.

World class players will probably not be phased by such a challenge but it is interesting to contemplate what will go through their mind.  It can’t be much different from of the situations they face in playing on a worldwide basis.  After all, they have to drive over a hotel on the famous road hole at the St. Andrews course in Scotland.











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Austin Country Club Undergoing Transition for Dell World Golf Championship

Austin Country Club is being transformed into a tournament site for the Dell World Match Play Championship and the changes are happening on a daily basis.  Beginning in early January, PGA tour staff appeared on site to begin supervising a series of construction projects.

There is a virtual city of corporate hospitality tents being erected.  These include the 1899 club, the beginnings of which are show in the photo below, along with nine other structures scattered along holes 3-7.

The most visible changes to the course are taking place on what is now the front nine.  This will be the back nine during the tournament.  Reversing the nines provides a number of advantages. First this nine comes out of the hills and runs along the Lake Austin in a links style layout.  The views of Lake Austin are spectacular and there is more room for spectators.

Secondly, it will provide the spectators with better viewing opportunities because the other nine holes wind through a hilly residential area that would not accommodate similar construction.

In addition, the boating public will have the opportunity watch some of the action from the water.  Rumor has it that even some of the media will take advantage of that viewing perspective.  It should be an interesting scene given the opportunities for Austinites to “keep it wierd”

The title sponsor, Dell Corporation, along with other Austin area businesses has purchased portions of various hospitality tents.  They will no doubt enjoy the views and the golf as well as entertain clients, family, and friends.

Another modification that has taken place is an extension of the netting on the back of the practice range.  Some of the players in the field can drive a ball extraordinary distances.   The net had to be raised to avoid launching balls over the net and into the 15th fairway.

The net was raised approximately 50 feet and the top of the net is now some 120 feet high.  From the back of the range the base of the net is 250 yards and slightly uphill.

The construction took several weeks and is now complete. It appears to be a job well done.  All the poles are aligned properly and netting is tight.  It looks better than many feared it might.  Whether the modification will be effective in terms of containing the bombers in the field, remains to be seen.

There are a number of interesting logistical challenges that are yet to come, including parking and spectator access to the course.   We will keep you posted as things progress.




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Austin Juniors Fare Well Over The Weekend

Texas Junior Golf Tour – Tour Championship Invitational

madelyn jonesMadelyn Jones of Austin finished in a tie for 1st place in the Girls 11-14 Division of The Texas Junior Golf Tour – Tour Championship Invitational  in Horseshoe Bay.  Click here for the leaderboard in this division.

Jones is compiling and impressive season record thus far with three first places and a fourth place finish in her last four TJGT events.  Click here for details.

Kaylee Vesely finished second in the Girls 11-18  Click here for full field scores in the Girls 11-18 division.

Thomas Bockholt finished 2nd and Evan Vo finished 4th in the Boys 11-14 division. Click here for full field results in this division.

Thomas Critch of Cedar Park finished 2nd in the Boys 15-18 Division and Trevor Brown of Austin was tied for third.  Click here for full field results in this division.

AJGA – CB&I Simplify Boys Championship at  Carlton Woods

Cooper Dossey

Cooper Dossey

Cooper Dossey, Reese Ramsey and Reid Davenport, all from from Austin, are in the field at this prestigious AJGA tournament.  The field includes seven of the top ten juniors in the National Junior Polo Rankings.  Dossey is in 10th, Ramsey in 16th, and Reid in 22nd headed into the third and final round.  There are 72 players in the field.  Follow the third round results via live scoring at this link.


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Muny Faithful Gather For Year End Putting Tournament

The “Muny Bulldogs” gathered December 26th for their annual putting tournament and reunion.  The event affords the group a chance to visit with old friends and spend a little time together under the guise of a putting tournament.  Although the competition is real, the primary reason for gathering is simply to celebrate their friendships and catch up on the news from each other. (Click on photo to enlarge then use back button to return to posting)

Muny Bulldogs 2015

Muny Bulldogs 2015

Dan Simpson usually coordinates the gathering and oversees the putting tournament while Ben Crenshaw hands out the winners gift certificates.  From left to right, Phil Warren and Steve Trafton, who won the putting tournament, Ben Crenshaw in the middle, Sonny Rhodes and Bobby Jones, who finished 2nd.

Phill Warren, Steve Trafton, Ben Crenshaw, Sonny Rhodes and Bobby Jones

Phill Warren, Steve Trafton, Ben Crenshaw, Sonny Rhodes and Bobby Jones



Shown below are a group of players that have strong affiliation with Lions Municipal Golf Course and quite a history with the course.   Among those that gather for the annual putting tournament, this group is referred to as the “Muny Board of Directors” because of their exceptionally strong connection to Lions Municipal Golf Course.  They all grew up playing golf at Lions and have all achieved recognition as good players.

Lester Lundell, Cary Petri, Ben Crenshaw, Billy Clagett, Dan Simpson

Lester Lundell, Cary Petri, Ben Crenshaw, Billy Clagett, Dan Simpson

Lester Lundell has won numerous local golf titles including four Austin Men’s City Championships and the Firecracker Open.  Cary Petri may have played more rounds at Muny than anyone else and has always been a fine player in the Austin golfing circles.

Ben Crenshaw, who won three consecutive Austin Men’s City championships during his teenage years went on to achieve international recognition as a professional golfer.  His career included 19 PGA Tour victories including two Masters and a World Golf Hall of Fame membership.

Billy Clagett, who is known as “Mr. Muny” because he has won the Firecracker Open six times, has also won almost every local golfing title available to him and has been a fixture at Muny for most of his life.  Clagett also achieved recognition at the state level by winning several Texas Golf Association titles.  And, because he had a successful career with EZ Go Golf Carts, knows a lot of people in the golf business in Texas.

Dan Simpson, known as “Suitcase” to local muny crowd,  worked for George Hannon at Muny and Morris Williams and has always been a fine player.  He organized this event.

All of the “Board of Directors” graduated from Austin High School and have literally shared a life together at Muny.  Pretty cool that they still celebrate their friendship and affiliation with Lions Municipal Golf Course.



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George Hannon Inducted Into PGA Golf Hall Of Fame

Georg HannonGeorge Hannon, one of the most influential golfing figures in Austin over the past 60 years, was recently inducted into the PGA Golf Hall of Fame.  Click here to see the video that was created for that occasion. It is truly inspirational.  Thanks to all who participated in creating this treasure and for honoring Coach Hannon.

Congratulations to George Hannon and his wife Jo for a life well lived.  They influenced a lot of people in a very positive manner.

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San Antonio Wins Rudy’s Cup

2015nRudy's Cup Teams -Austin in Blue, San Antonio in Red
2015 Rudy’s Cup Teams -Austin in Blue, San Antonio in Red

San Antonio won the 2015 Rudy’s I-35 Cup by three points over two days of play at Fair Oaks Ranch and Golf Club in Boerne, Texas.  Although the foursomes and singles matches resulted in equal points for both teams, San Antonio prevailed 5-2 in the four ball matches on Saturday afternoon and that proved to be the winning margin.

Saturday’s play was plagued by wind, rain and temperatures in the 50’s.  Sunday morning was cool and windy but the weather improved to ideal playing conditions about half way through the Sunday matches.

As usual, the matches were expertly conducted by the hosting team.  Golf San Antonio, the organization that conducts amateur golf in San Antonio as well as the Texas Open and the First Tee of San Antonio, provided rules officials and coordinated with Austin Amateur Golf to run the event.  Randy Reynolds and Austin Amateur Golf were the organization representing Austin.  Both groups provided excellent support and organization through some difficult conditions.

The staff at Fair Oaks Ranch and Golf Club were excellent hosts and the course was in good condition given all the rain that had fallen before and during the matches.  All the players and captains are very appreciative of the efforts made by those folks.

The sponsors of the event are to be congratulated for all their generous contributions that make this event possible.  Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q is the title sponsor.  Ameritas and Group 42 are presenting sponsors.  The support of these groups, along with all the players that participated in the “Rivalary Before The Matches” are responsible for the significant contributions to charity beneficiaries of the First Tee of San Antonio, The Capital Area Food Bank and African Life.  Over the seven years of the Rudy’s Cup Event, charitable contributions are approaching $300,000.  For a full view of participating sponsors and benefiting charities, click here.

View all the results and scoring during the matches at the Golf San Antonio website at this link.

Peach Reynolds captained the Austin Team along with Assistant Captains Kelly O’Donnell and Randy Reynolds.   The Austin team included:

Stephen Paterson
Robert Evans
Jeff Shell
Jay Reynolds
Erik Henson
Cole Esau
Paul Romero
Manny Bhakta
Matt Wernecke
Barret Sandefur
Ben Carter
Chris Hartenstein
Mike Allen
Gene Black

Thanks to all the Fair Oaks Ranch And Golf Club Members for the use of their facilities and their hospitality.




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Laura Gunia – PGA Professional – General Manager At Falconhead Golf Club

Contributed by Chip Gist:  is proud to partner with many fantastic individuals that make golfing in Austin so special.The following is one in a series of interviews conducted to highlight some of these individuals.

Laura Gunia - General Manager at Falconhead Golf Club

Laura Gunia – General Manager at Falconhead Golf Club

Name:  Laura Gunia, PGA

Facility:  Falconhead Golf Club

Position:  General Manager

Hometown:  Alliance, Nebraska



GA:  How long have you been the General Manager at Falconhead?
LG:  Since June , 2011

GA:  What’s the best thing about Falconhead?
LG:  The Golf Course.  It’s a Championship course with a championship feel.  The conditions match the layout.  And it’s a favorite of the Texas Golf Association and the United States golf Association to conduct Championship qualifiers.

GA:  How do you and the team at Falconhead help grow the game of golf?
LG:  We provide as much access to junior golfers as possible though tournaments, high school practice and affordable memberships.  We support and promote a strong ladies league for much of the year. And we provide leadership with many charity tournaments helping them achieve their fund raising goals.  We pride ourselves on taking an active role with the tournaments that are held here so we can use our experience to help them raise funds for their charity.

GA:  Other than Falconhead, what’s your favorite course in the world?
LG:   Firethorn Golf Club in Lincoln, Nebraska. I used to work there and it’s a Pete Dye design I wouldn’t mind playing every day.

GA:  How do you use technology to manage your golf operation?

LG:   Our tee sheet is online and our staff, including the starters and marshals,  are all connected (Laptops and Ipads) so everyone knows which players have checked in, what time they teed off and what time they made the turn.  It’s crucial that the entire staff has this information real time so we can manage the Pace of Play.

GA:  Do you prefer……

Cats or Dogs?
LG: Dogs

GA:  Country or Rock?
LG:  Country

GA: City or Country?
LG:  City

GA:  What are 3 things an amateur golfer should do if they want to lower their handicap in the short term?
LG:  Well first, consult your local PGA Professional to make a plan.  A major part of that plan should be practicing and primarily practicing the finesse part of the game.  The short game.  Amateurs have to spend some time practicing so they have to make that time if they want results.  Lastly, they have to play.  Get on the course for 2 holes, 9 holes, whatever.  Amateurs have to compete against themselves. They need a measuring tool to define personal bests.

GA:  Thanks for your time and what you do for golf in Austin.

LG:  Thank you.  It’s an honor.

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Austin’s Rudy’s Cup Team Announced

Austin Amateur Golf, which maintains a points list for a schedule of amateur events in Austin, has announced the players that will represent Austin against San Antonio in the 2015 Rudy’s Cup.   In addition, they have identified the Austin amateur player of the year,  the leading mid-amateur for the year, the leading senior for the year and the leading junior player of the year.  The points list and statistical information is available on the Austin Amateur Golf website.   Click here to access that information.

The Rudy’s Cup will be played on the Live Oak Course at Fair Oaks Ranch in Borne, Texas on November 7-8.

Peach Reynolds

Peach Reynolds

The Rudy’s Cup Captain for 2015 is Peach Reynolds.  Assistant Captains are Kelly McDonald, Chris Benestante and Randy Reynolds.  Benestante had acquired enough points to make the team but sustained a severe ankle injury that has sidelined him from golf for a while. He will be serving in the Assistant Captain role along with Randy Reynolds and Kelly McDonald.  Randy Reynolds has been the driving force behind the Rudy’s Cup over the history of it’s existence and is a former captain of the team.  He was the low senior in the 2015 Men’s City Championship.  McDonald has been a long time supporter of the Rudy’s Cup and a former Assistant Captain.

The Austin Team is composed of the top eight mid amateurs and the top three seniors on the Austin Amateur Points list along with three captains picks.  The mid-amateurs include the following and are listed in the order of points accumulated in 2015.
Steve Paterson
Jay Reynolds
Brian Noonan
Robert Evans
Jeff Shell
Paul Romero
Erik Henson
Manny Bhkata

Seniors include:
Gene Black
Chris Hartenstein
Mike Allen

Captains Picks include:
Matt Werneke
Ben Carter
Barrett Sandefur

Cole Esau was named as the alternate.

Steve Paterson

Steve Paterson

Steve Paterson, who won the Central Texas Amateur and the Horseshoe Bay Invitational in 2015, also qualified for the U.S Mid-Am and finished T14 in the Texas State Amateur.  He finished second in the Men’s City Championship and in the Chester Cup to compile the leading point total for the year and claim the Austin Amateur Golf’s designation as the Player of the Year and Mid-Am of the Year.


Jay Reynolds-2015 Bluebonnet Champion

Jay Reynolds-2015 Bluebonnet Champion

Jay Reynolds won the Men’s City Championship, the Bluebonnet Cup and the Austin Amateur Golf Championship in 2015.  His record setting 60 at Lions Municipal propelled him to a record setting 16 under par in the Men’s City Championship.  This was Reynolds first full year as an amateur after regaining his amateur status and he played beautifully.  He and his father Peach Reynolds, almost won the Texas Golf Association father-son competition this year and both have had a good year on the links.

Robert EvansRobert Evans broke through this year with wins at the Morris Williams Spring Mid-Amateur and the Chester Cup.  Evans, who has been a contender in numerous local tournaments in the past, seemed to have found something in his game that allowed him to win twice this year.  That’s not an easy thing to do in the Austin Amateur Golf schedule.  Congratulations to Mr. Evans.


Manny Bhakta and Brian Noonan

Manny Bhakta and Brian Noonan

Brian Noonan, who is soon to become a father and played professional golf for a while, has won almost every local golf title available to him including three Men’s City Championships, a Firecracker Open and the Harvey Penick Invitational.  He has played on several Rudy’s Cup teams.

Erik Henson and Manny Bhkata have played the Rudy’s Cup on several occasions in previous years.  Jeff Shell, who played once in previous years significantly improved his game this year and finished fifth on the points list.  He will be making his second appearance on the team.

Paul Romero

Paul Romero

Paul Romero, who stepped up his game considerably this year with several high finishes during the course of the season finished sixth will be making his first appearance on the team.

Gene Black

Gene Black

Gene Black was the dominate senior player in the Austin golfing circles and finished first in the senior points race.  He finished T2 in the Horseshoe Bay Invitational, third in the AAG Championship and played well in the Men’s City Senior Championship.  Black has played on several Rudy’s Cup teams in the past.

 Chris Hartenstein 2015 Men's City Senior Champion

Chris Hartenstein 2015 Men’s City Senior Champion

Chris Hartenstein finished second in the senior points race by virtue of winning his second Men’s City Senior Championship.  His playing schedule this year was somewhat diminished due to work and family obligations.   Congratulations to Mr. Hartenstein.

Mike Allen, who has played in several of the previous Rudy’s Cup teams, will be the third senior on the team.

Matt Werneke, Ben Carter and Barrett Sandefur were the captain’s picks for this year by virtue of being high on the points list and participating in the schedule of events throughout the year.  They have all played in previous Rudy’s Cup competitions and relish the opportunity to bring home another victory for the Austin team.

Cyrus Turner

Cyrus Turner

Cyrus Turner finished in the top spot for the Junior of the Year honors.  Turner, who is a senior at St. Andrews finished second in the Bluebonnet Cup one shot behind Jay Reynolds.  Reynolds made an eagle on the last hole to win by one shot.  Congratulations to Cyrus Turner on this achievement.

You can look at a detailed listing of players points for the year by going to the following link to on the Austin Amateur Golf Website.  Randy Reynolds, Steve Paterson and Robert Evans are to be congratulated on creating and maintaining this points list.  It requires effort and is certainly enjoyed by the local golfing community.  Thanks guys….




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Paterson, Noonan, Morales To Play In U.S. Mid Am Events

Steve Paterson, Brian Noonan and Anna Morales will be participating in USGA Mid-Amateur events October 3-8.

Paterson and Noonan will be playing in the Men’s U.S. Mid Am at John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, Florida and Morales will participate in the Women’s U.S. Mid Am at Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant, Louisiana.  Click on these links to view more information about the tournament, the field and the course.

Steve Paterson

Steve Paterson

Paterson, who is the current point leader in the Austin Amateur Golf Rankings, has won numerous local titles including both the Central Texas Amateur and the Horseshoe Bay Invitational in 2015.

Paterson qualified for the U.S. Mid Amateur at Falconhead Golf Club and was the only player to record an under par round during the qualifying event.


2014 Spring Championship Winner - Brian Noonan

2014 Spring Championship Winner – Brian Noonan

Noonan, who is a three time Austin Men’s City Champion, has also won the Harvey Penick Invitational, the Firecracker Open and the Spring Championship at Morris Williams.  He qualified for the U.S. Mid Am at Oak Hills Country Club with a one over par 72.  His round included a triple bogey, three bogeys and five birdies.  After making a triple and a bogey on the front nine, he rallied with four consecutive birdies on holes 9-12 to get back into contention.  It was impressive comeback and showed a lot of determination.

Anna MoralesAnna Morales, who played collegiate golf at Duke, has been the Women’s Club Champion at Austin Country Club on numerous occasions and plays some golf mixed with the duties of being a wife and mother of two boys.  She has qualified for the U.S. Women’s Mid Am on numerous occasions.

Good luck to all the Austin players on their Mid-Am adventures.

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