Bruno's Blog

This blog is based on the observations of Jason Bruno - an obsessed Traveling Linkster, Competitive Mid-Am & Golf Scribe.



Summer 2012: On The Road Again PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bruno   

 

It has been a whirlwind since returning from our recent summer journey last week, tropical storm

Isaac's arrival brought an extremely harrowing plane flight home and had rendered the home

compound under water which obviously changes your normal everyday order of things.Now that

the water has receded and the family compound has risen from the proverbial "moat", stories will

be written, course reviews will commence and new product features will be presented.

 

This traveling episode started with the usual family visit to Staten Island, N.Y . . . where there is

a pizzeria on every corner, and Tebow/Jets sports talk all day-everyday, in a city where Big Blue

are the reigning Super Bowl Champions (and are somehow under the radar).

 

Michael Kartrude, J.B and Matt Alwin at the Ace Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . photo by J. Salamone

 

 

The first of our course visits was out to the south shore of Long Island and the Woodmere Club.

The club was founded in 1912, but in 1954 Robert Trent Jones Sr redesigned the layout that

exudes loads of character and variety.I was given the tour by Head Pro Jeff Cowell, and was visited

by GM Donald Mollitor beside the 15th green.Woodmere Club is celebrating their centennial

anniversary, and will be our next layout featured in the Course Review section.

 

The 17th at Woodmere

 

 

 

Day two was clear across the other side of New York harbour to N.J and Bayonne Golf Club.The

vision of Eric Bergstol, Bayonne was a concept that seemed unlikely to many given it's location

and the origins . . . as it sits today, Bayonne rivals Whistling Straits and Chambers Bay as courses

that are faux links that have done the most with the least amount of natural topography.My guide

for the day was Assistant Professional Dave Polchinski, also known as the resident stick (and also

a fellow S.I native).From an industrial wasteland to a links stunner, Bayonne made the camera

say wow, look for the feature on Bayonne in the coming weeks.

 

The clubhouse and one of the largest American flags in existence are present everywhere at Bayonne.

 

 

The next leg of the journey was down to Atlantic City and Philadelphia to pick up the rest of the

traveling party, namely Michael Kartrude and Assistant Professional Matt Alwin.Once in Philly (Alwin

met us at the Ace Club), we took a quick spur of the moment detour and a 25 minute tour of Merion

and it's updated changes for the 2013 U.S Open.Let's just say that Matt Shaffer and his crew are

preparing a test that the games elite will not soon forget.Once on the grounds at Merion, it's hard

to describe the feeling . . . to say I'm looking forward to being part of Matt's volunteer staff at

Merion for next years national championship, would be a major understatement.


 

The short par 3 thirteenth at Merion is the first sight you see when you arrive at the legendary

Hugh Wilson layout.

 

 

 

After the buzz of seeing iconic Merion, we raced to Lafayette Hill and a round at the prestigious

Ace Club.If ever there was a moment to be let down by a course, this was it . . . surely anything

after seeing Merion would disappoint.


We kept an open mind, having heard good things about the Ace Club.A Gary Player signature course

that is managed and operated by the folks at Kemper Sports . . . if there is a company that does it

better than Kemper Sports, I've yet to see it.The Ace Club was one of the most aesthetically pleasing

parkland designs we've been lucky enough to experience, and that is exactly what a day at The Ace

Club is, an EXPERIENCE.The service here is top notch, Thanks to GM Kris Fair, Assistant Pro Mark Douglas,

Erv in the clubhouse and the great John Salamone looping for us. At 7471 yards (rating 76.1/slope 143),

this is a big ballpark worthy of any event.

 

The amazing 5th at the Ace Club

 

 

Next, it was a long trek (about 200 hundred miles) on to North Central Pennsylvania and the small

town of Eagles Mere in the shadow of the Pocono Mountains.We stopped about halfway up the ascent

into oblivion at the local Wawa convenience store/gas station and the temperature was about 15

degrees cooler than it was at sea level in Philly . . . as night fell it was nice to be chilly in August for

a change.


Eagles Mere Golf Club is a 1911 William Flynn design in an area where it feels like time has stood still.

When you go from Midtown Manhattan to Philadelphia, then to a rural habitat where cell phone

service is not a given . . . it's a nice reprieve (I can see why members of prestigious clubs in the

city retreat up here).The staff of Seth Kanaskie, Matt Alwin and Jenna Rothermel give the club a

warm and friendly atmosphere.The Flynn layout appears to be a pushover at first glance (at only

6150 yards), but it's greens are as resistant to scoring as anything you've ever rolled the rock on.

 

6th at Eagles Mere

 

 

Next it was on to Atlantic City, but while heading into southern N.J, I had an idea . . . I looked over

at M.K in shotgun mode "look it up on your iphone, I know we're close to Pine Valley in Clementon

. . . navigate us to The Valley".As it turned out we were only four miles away, and since it's a future

endeavor, I wanted to know exactly where it was.

 

This discreet security booth guards the entry to the #1 ranked course in the world: Pine Valley

 

 

 

The last stop on the journey was actually where it began, in Atlantic City.Atlantic City Country

Club is a unique place in the history of American Golf. ACCC professional Johnny McDermott, was

the youngest and first American to win the U.S Open in 1911, and the coining of the actual term

"Birdie" took place on the twelfth hole in 1903.The people that have passed through this club over

the last 115 years is an amazing list, and the club has it all documented and on display.GM Charles

Fahy is the perfect caretaker of this piece of Americana, his vast knowledge and passion for the

history of his club is infectious.

 

Amongst all of the history in the clubhouse, I noticed a party of 10 guys in the famed Leo Fraser

room . . . as I peaked in to observe what all the hollering was about, it was a fantasy football

draft and somebody apparently just took the 49er's defense in the first round, I was amused and

moved on to the Mens Lockeroom.

 

 


Par 3 twelfth at ACCC

 

 

Arnold Palmer spent many days at ACCC during his days in the military (he was stationed in Atlantic City)

. . . "The King" had his 82nd birthday dinner in the Tap Room & Grill last year.

 

 

 

The Tap Room & Grill, and men's locker room is worth the trip alone . . . some of the lockers of past

members and guests at ACCC: Arnold Palmer, Willie Mays, and my favorite . . . the notorious Al

Capone.

 

 

 

The following day, the flight home was exactly what you don't want - eventful. We were so

fortunate to land safely, after 30 minutes of trying to land through extreme turbulence, the

passengers gave the pilot a roaring ovation for getting the plane down safely.


Hoping the next flight flight to Chicago for the Ryder Cup doesn't come with the same drama.

 

 

 

 

 


 
A Day At Chambers Bay PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bruno   

This very modest clubhouse overlooks the entire course and the Puget Sound at Chambers Bay, site of the 2010 U.S Amateur and 2015 U.S Open.

 

 

It's never advisable to overload golf and mega miles of driving into a golf excursion,

and certainly not a short one . . . but I could not deny my appetite to see and play

Chambers Bay during my trek to Bandon Dunes and the Pacific Northwest.Back in

October in Puerto Rico, I was lucky enough to spend some time getting to know

Bruce Charlton (design associate of Robert Trent Jones II and co designer of

Chambers Bay), it was during that meeting that the fire was stoked for this visit to

the home of the 2015 U.S Open.


The drive from Bandon Dunes back to University Place, Washington is a long one

(well over 400 miles) and just about 7 hours, so the idea of driving that far after

having walked 5 rounds in two and a half days, then getting out of the car and

playing one the toughest courses in the U.S, would be a challenge, even for a links

lunatic like myself.


Luckily, on the shuttle to the driving range (which is a ways from the pro shop), I

met a gentleman named Ralph Cummins from Virginia and since we were each on our

own, we agreed to tee it up together at 2:12 p.m pacific time.Ralph is a fellow die

hard linkster who belongs to Kinloch GC, and travels across the pond every year with

the same group of guys to play links golf in Ireland, and Scotland.Joining us was

another rogue golfer who goes by the name of Ahjay.Ahjay is from India, and is an

amazing ball striker who travels back and fourth from Chicago and Seattle.


Carl, Ralph's Caddy was a great looper, but he also helped fill the time by telling us

tales from the U.S Amateur in 2010 . . . as well as showing us the modifications

underway for the 2015 U.S Open, he played the part of host quite well.

It was a great day in the Pacific Northwest, around 55 degrees, sunny and

very little wind to speak of, quite different from the 5 rounds at Bandon.Chambers

played soft and long, not the firm conditions I'd seen on TV during the U.S Am, and

certainly not the terra firma of the southern Oregon coast.After all, this is the

Seattle area where it stays cool and it rains often (luckily not on this day).I'm

planning a return trip after all of the U.S Open modifications are finished, so hopefully

we'll get the links like experience then.

 

 


This is the view from the pro shop, the vista is amazing, and the #2 ranked Muni course in the U.S awaits below

 

 

 

The Rolex clock overlooks the practice green and first tee

 

 

 

Carl, and Ralph (right) with me under the "Lone Fir"

 

 

 

 

 

This bunker in the middle of the 18th fairway is a good 12 feet deep, being in here is atleast a full one shot penalty if not more . . . although Ralph didn't hit his tee shot in the pot bunker, he couldn't resist the urge to try the escape.

 

 

Carl mentioned that PGA Tour pro Ryan Moore can be seen around here playing

often, so he may be a good choice when the open arrives in '15.It wasn't a great

scoring day for any of us (but luckily I kept it under 80 atleast), but it was a very

memorable experience in a magnificent setting.


A few of the holes have temporary greens (as the original putting surfaces are being

modified to make them more suitable for our national championship in 3 years) and a

few tees are being lengthened, so Chambers is in temporary flux.I was told in the

spring by the people at Chambers that these changes will be finished in the next few

months, so call ahead if you're in need of playing the actual U.S Open set up, but be

careful because that will be well over 7700 yards.


After the round, we had dinner in the small restaurant within the clubhouse at

Chambers (the food and service from Joe behind the bar were first class) and

watched first round Masters coverage . . . Ralph and I exchanged contact info, then

it was a mad dash to Seattle-Tacoma Airport for the red eye flight back to West Palm

Beach.I arrived back on the east coast on Masters Friday, weary from too much golf,

too much driving, and too much airport time . . . but I can't wait to do it all over

again.

 

To see our full feature on the golf course, go to our course review section.


If playing U.S Open courses in beautiful settings is your thing, then you'll want to

visit Chambers Bay.To find out more info on Chambers Bay, click the link below:

 

http://www.chambersbaygolf.com/chambersbay.asp?id=232&page=7996

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
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