Bruno's Blog

A Look Back On Our Year PDF Print E-mail


Story and Photos by Jason Bruno


2013 is all but expired, but I can't help but look back . . . it was another great year for the game and

for us at LinksNation. If you're reading this, I'd like to thank you for supporting the site. There were so

many great experiences for us in 2013, and I'd like to share a few of my personal thoughts and

recollections of our year.

Demo Day on the eve of the PGA Show - Orlando





The PGA Show in January is always a great week form an industry standpoint, but when you throw

in the grand opening of a world class golf facility (Streamsong Red & Blue Courses) in the same week

it becomes special. The people at Mosaic teamed with Kemper Sports to host a gathering of the world's

most respected Travel & Course reviewers, as well other golf journalists from around the globe.



Crenshaw at the opening of Streamsong


I was fortunate enough to be paired that day with Doak's Design associate Eric Iverson, his brother

Neil (who works for Horizon Sports Turf) and Canada's Rick Young, who writes on the business and

equipment side of the game for Score Magazine. We enjoyed a "chamber of commerce" weather day

that January morning, and aside from misplacing my camera, it was a flawless day for golf. Tom Doak's

Blue course at Streamsong did not disappoint, our review:



You learn much about a person after riding in a cart for a 5 hour round on the links, and truth be told, I

felt like Rick Young was a longtime friend by the time we hit the back nine . . . great guy. Eric Iverson

was incredibly insightful on the design and construction of the Blue and other Doak projects currently

in the works. When the day was over, I knew it was one to remember and as usual it was as much about

the people as it was the scenery. Later in May, I went back to play the Red Course, and all I can say is

Kudos to Ben Crenshaw & Bill Coore on an amazing design.



Rick Young joined me on the Blue Course at the Streamsong Opening in late January.




Next was my one on one Q&A with Ben Crenshaw at the Allianz Championship just weeks after the

Streamsong Grand Opening. If you enjoy talking course design and architecture (I do), then Gentle

Ben will engage in great conversation . . . even after shooting 76, as I found out. We talked Payne

Stewart, '99 Ryder Cup, and of course, golf architecture & design. I've interviewed many tour players,

course designers, and superintendents . . .  no doubt this was among my favorite moments as a scribe.

To read the interview with Ben Crenshaw:




The crew from the 1st Annual LinksNation Cup Team Matches held the first week in March at Mission

Inn and World Woods.





Just a few weeks later, we were at Isleworth covering the Tavistock Cup - which was a blast as usual.


After observing Adam Scott at Tavistock, I proclaimed that he'd win the Masters, nailed it . . .

but whiffed on the other 3 major predictions.





The next trip on the agenda was a week in Philadelphia, a course review at the Classic Donald Ross

design - Aronimink (pictured below), then a week behind the scenes at Merion for the U.S Open.

The uphill ninth at Aronimink




The week in Philly started with a day at Aronimink hosted by Head Professional Jeff Kiddie. I was

paired with Jay Sigel, Dr.Jim McGlynn and Asst. Professional Pat Clark. Great company and a top

100 classic Ross design on a gorgeous June day, another highlight for sure. Our Aronimink feature:



Later that same day, I was enroute to my meeting at Merion just 7 miles away. Certainly I was the

only scribe who was working behind the scenes on the hallowed grounds of the Wickerbaskets. Being

part of Shaffer's grounds staff was an honor, our first major task on the Monday before the Open was

one of damage control - we rebuilt the greenside bunker on the famous 11th hole (where Bobby Jones

completed the "Grand Slam" in 1930. Along with Matt Shaffer, who I consider a friend . . . the guys in

our group (all experts in Agronomy throughout the world) bonded during the week. Guys like Paul Porto,

Patrick Haughley, Tyler, Greg, Big Pat, Robert, Keith, Andy, Dave Petfield and my partner in crime from

New South Wales Golf Club in Australia - Dean Lenerth. Images from the 113th U.S Open at Merion:

Rebuilding the bunker on eleven





Robert, Dean, JB and Greg on our last night of tending to the turf at Merion



We worked hours before the sun came up each morning and finished long after the sun set every

evening. It was a hectic week with all of the horrible weather that hit the Philadelphia area that

week, but Matt Shaffer showed nothing but grace under pressure. One of the highlights of the week

was when the Golf Channel interviewed Shaffer the day before the championship began, Chamblee &

Nobilo asked Matt how he'd handle his course getting shredded by the best players in the world

(because of the soft conditions), he fired back and let them know that Merion would not only hold up,

but it would come out on top when all was said and done. The herd of grounds masters gathered at

the hotel watching on TV roared like the patrons at Augusta when Nicklaus nailed the "Yes Sir" putt in

1986. In the end, Merion was the true winner (as Shaffer predicted) along with Justin Rose. I made a

half dozen lifelong mates, all who were very proud of what they accomplished. Matt Shaffer somehow

motivated us by his commanding presence and our own need to help him finish the job. We all can hope

to reach his level of excellence in our professions. I hope to return to Merion in 2014 . . . to see the

place a year after the Open, but mostly to see my friend Matt Shaffer.


A great view of the fifth hole at Merion, I shot this photo from the tenth green on the Sunday evening

before the U.S Open.





In late August I traveled to Laredo, Texas for the media opening for the Max A Mandel course designed

by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Guest of Honor Nancy Lopez was another memorable interview, and is one of

the nicest people in the game. "The Max" sits along the Rio Grande on the Texas/Mexico border, and is

a unique signature course in an area starving for a first class facility. Again the memory was as much

about new friendship as it was of business . . . Jason Veretto of the Back Nine Network was a pleasure

to get to know. Feature on "The Max":


The par 3 - fifteenth at "The Max"



In 2014 we'll start off with the PGA Show, and then it's off to the media opening at the new Trump

Doral Blue Monster designed by Gil Hanse. Looking forward to another great year in golf, and another

adventurous year in the LinksNation.







AC & Philly 2013 - Part 1 PDF Print E-mail


Story and photos by Jason Bruno

Aronimink GC was the site of my day with Jay Sigel, Dr.Jim McGlynn & Asst. Pro Pat Clark




It's been awhile since I've written about my personal experiences out on the road, so let me trace

back to June and my trip to Philly. I arrived early Saturday into Atlantic City Airport and drove straight

to Atlantic City Country Club to check on the conditions (after I had heard about all of the damage to

the area last fall from Hurricane Sandy). I wasn't able to visit with GM Charles Fahy, but I was told

that the only significant damage to the course was on tee boxes 14 & 16 that sit right up on the water.

Everything was rebuilt and looked great, then I revisited my second favorite grill room (Winged Foot is my

all time favorite), ACCC also has one of the classic locker rooms in all of golf.

History adorns the walls of the Grillroom at ACCC




Next it was off to my hotel on the shore line of AC, I had some time to kill and I was waiting on my

high school buddy Frank to arrive in from Connecticut for the evenings events in AC. I walked along

the south shore of New jersey and of course took my wedge and 3 brand new dimpled pearls with me.

The few people along the beach probably thought I was nuts, and they weren't far off . . . obsessed

would have been a more apt description.

They weren't aware that I was channeling a young Seve Ballesteros (I had always heard about how he

taught himself the game as a boy, hitting off the sand of the beaches in Spain where he grew up). I had

always wanted to do so, and what better time and place then a day off in Jersey, or so I thought. For the

most part, the short 40 yard pitch shots off the wet sand came off rather well, but one errant shot hit

a berm of large jaggedy boulders piled up along the nearby roadway and skipped across the paved road -

damaging nothing except for my right out of the box custom #61 Penta Ball (I know what you're thinking,

why #61? It's too long and too personal of a story, trust me). Finally, I decided I was no Seve and the

few people hanging around the beach were right, I'm nuts . . . so I decided to wait on my friend upstairs

in the hotel.


My old high school buddy Frank Bannon was driving down from Connecticut for a night of nostalgia, as in

the form of Rock music, not drinking or partying . . . those that know me, know that's not my style. We

were headed to the House of Blues in AC to see the Rebel Yell antics of Billy Idol. Seeing a great show

from an artist of your youth is a great and powerful experience, especially when it's right in front of the

stage . . . Rock on Billy!


Billy Idol on a golf website . . . there is a first for everything.



The following morning Frank and I once again parted ways, and as I drove west to Philly for a day

at Aronimink, and a week at the U.S Open, Frank headed north to Staten Island, New York to visit

his Mother's grave site, which coincidentally sits less than two miles from where both of my parents

are laid to rest. While driving, I reflected on our many times together during our teens and was happy

to have added another memory to our long history as friends.




Upon arriving at Aronimink Golf Club in the Philly suburb of Newtown Square, I was excited to see

and experience another classic Donald Ross design. I am always in awe of the atmosphere at these

classic Northeast clubs, like Winged Foot, Quaker Ridge, Siwanoy, and Merion. I can't put my finger on

it but it's just a special feeling. I met Head Professional Jeff Kiddie on the driving range where he

informed me that I'd be playing in a special group with Asst. Professional Pat Clark, Greens Chairman

Dr.Jim McGlynn and longtime Aronimink member and Philadelphia golf legend Jay Sigel. Although I've

played many great major championship venues and with many prominent people in the game, it was

an honor to tee it up with Jay Sigel on his home track. The classic Ross design exceeded expectations,

and as usual it was the great company that made the day exceptional. Dr.Jim is by far the best 5 index

I've ever played with, and as a person he's scratch. Jay Sigel is a class act, he took the time to show

me on every green where the original Ross runoffs were reclaimed during the restoration, and we chatted

between holes about where he plays during the winters in Palm Beach (He did mention that he also

belongs to Pine Valley, but the olive branch wasn't extended in my direction). Pat and I were down early

in our match against Jay and Dr.Jim, (Dr.Jim was on fire, I believe he was a few under on the front nine),

but just as we showed signs of life, Pat had to leave to give a lesson. From holes 14 thru 18 I held my

own against the dynamic duo, playing even on the back (shooting 75).



Afterward, we had drinks on the patio outside the clubhouse and Jay and Dr.Jim talked about the

club and their hopes for a future major at Aronimink. I agreed that the club and the course was

certainly worthy. Afterward, I wasn't able to see Jeff Kiddie and thank him in person, he was off doing

what golf professionals do best - helping members improve their game. Moments later I was headed

down the road 7 miles away to Ardmore for an afternoon meeting at Merion on the eve of U.S Open




To be continued . . .








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