Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trump Trumps Hudson Valley

About fifteen minutes West of me is a gorgeous 18-hole course that used to be a public course called Branton Woods.  Then it became a private course called Branton Woods.  Several of my fellow golf buddies joined the club in addition to Quaker Hill CC for an 18-hole alternative to our little 9-hole gem (see previous blog post http://sheputts.blogspot.com/2010/02/quaker-hill-country-club.html).

I played BW a couple summers ago with one of my friends.  It's a tough course and absolutely beautiful.  It is now known as Trump National Golf Club-Hudson Valley.  Donald Trump knows a beautiful course when he sees one.  As early as the beginning of November last year, unconfirmed rumors in the press were swirling that The Donald was sniffing around.  As prospective purchasers were required to sign confidentiality agreements to acquire any information about the property, the word was mum.

By December 21, 2009, The Poughkeepsie Journal quoted Dan Scavino, executive vice president and general manager of Trump National Golf Club Westchester, as saying The Donald had "extreme interest" in purchasing the course.  A mere two days later, on December 23rd, Scavino informed the Journal that Trump finalized the deal to purchase Branton Woods as well as Pine Hill Golf Club in New Jersey.  Trump promptly renamed the Stormville Road, Hopewell Junction course and is said to have plans to  upgrade to the 14,000-square-foot clubhouse and possibly add a swimming pool and tennis courts to its amenities.  Trump is now the proud owner of 11 golf properties.

How do the members feel?  Most of the people I know who belong to golf clubs belong to them to play golf.  Period. They don't much care about tennis courts and swimming pools.  They want a golf course that challenges them, delights them and sometimes shows them a little love, and is in amazing condition.  They want easy access to and availability of tee times, great service, a good lunch after they play, cart food and drink, and not to have to put up with slow play, lack of golf etiquette on the course and to have to put up with playing behind hackers who hit the ball 150 times a round and who don't belong on a "real" 18 hole course. I'm just sayin'.

The first thing Trump did when he took over the course was to raise everyone's dues by $900 a year and the food minimums by $400 per year.  He did this right smack in the middle of winter when people aren't able to take advantage of the golf.  It would appear to me that the timing wasn't so great on that increase - he might have been smarter to wait until they were lulled into a sense of idyllic serenity in the midst of golf season.  I know it's standard to send out the bills in January, but who thinks up these ideas to increase golf dues when the the course is ensconced in snow and no one can remember that last great shot that keeps them yearning for more while rolling over to the increase because they simply can't wait to get out there and hit the links again? 

On the brighter side, Trump National Hudson Valley members get to play at all of Trump's other courses in Westchester, NY; Bedminster, NJ; Colts Neck, NJ; Washington DC; Los Angeles, CA; Palm Beach, FL; Coco Beach, Puerto Rico; Canouan Island, the Grenadines; Pine Hill, New Jersey and, ultimately, Scotland. 

So, in all, it's a pretty good deal.  Maybe you'll even get to rub elbows with The Donald if you're lucky or not, depending on your preference.  At least when he's wearing a golf hat, it eliminates the need to gaze upon Donny boy's ridiculous hair! But holy waddle Batman - what happened to his chin?

Here's hoping for a repeat invitation to play this track 2010's Spring and Summer!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Golf Jewelry Contest Winner Yay Me - Thanks Heather

I'm excited to announce that I am one of the lucky winners of Heather Jones' http://realwomengolf.blogspot.com/2010/02/fore-winners.html FORE! jewelry contest Valentine's giveaway.  Woohoo and thanks Heather.  Heather has a great blog and always writes fun and interesting things about golf, golf fashion, and her on course fun - including her quest to get her handicap below ten this year; which she did (okay well almost) and it was inspiring.

I am looking forward to getting the golf inspired pony tail holders in the mail and encourage everyone to check out the rest of FORE!'s golf inspired jewelry collection at http://www.fore.com and don't forget to read Heather's blog for fun.

Cheers to all!

QHCC Among 25 Best Nine Hole Courses in America

Word has it that in this month's issue of GolfWorld magazine, my little oasis on the top of the hill, Quaker Hill Country Club, was recognized as one of the "25 Best Nine-Hole Courses in America." Now, as a player, I have long known it to be a stellar track, with spectacular views and a rich history that sets it apart from others.

The course was founded by the late Lowell Thomas, a world-renowned traveler, adventurer, collector, broadcaster writer and editor.  Oh yes, he also founded Capital Cities - later formed Capital Cities/ABC. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowell_Thomas) In the early 1940's, Mr. Thomas asked his friend Robert Trent Jones to design a course because he wanted to learn to play.  The clubhouse, known as The Barn, has now been redesigned, but it is the location where the famous broadcaster, Mr. Thomas, once performed his weekly broadcasts from a little control room that now houses Thomas memorabilia.

Not only that, it's one tough little course, with a slope of 131 from the men's tees and 127 from the women's.  I've taken many a very strong, low handicap golfer there as a guest to hear them scoff at the nine holes expecting to crush the course.  A few holes later, without a flat lie in sight, as they try to stick our tiny greens, they start begging me for tips, shot strategies and club suggestions.  The course is much the same as it was designed by Mr. Jones (except for a lot of tree removal to improve the condition of the greens) and our golf superintendent, Gary Lattrell is a master at keeping the course in superb condition.

With nine holes, but two very different sets of tees so you can play 18 and change it up on the turn, the course plays out at 6,110 yards with a par of 70 for the men and 74 for the women. Although let me tell you, on most holes the women don't get much of a distance break.  The greens are most golfer's nemesis on the course and if don't have local knowledge, you can really get in trouble. [Photo left: Club Champ Cindy Rosa tees it up at the women's 6th tee box (138 yard, par 3) during the last Sunday supper scramble event of the season.

The par (men/women) par 4/5 403/394 yard 5th hole boasts an elevated green that must be reached over a pond after a long fairway that slopes right the entire way.  A strong woman can reach it in 3.  In the spring, you can stick your shot to the green pretty well.  By mid summer, everything rolls off. If you are putting from the top left trying to hit the hole in the middle of the green, it will roll off like a rocket if you barely tap it.

The par 4 372/356 yard par 4 7th hole is the toughest hole on the course for me.  I think I've sunk par on this goldarn hole maybe 5 times in 12 years.  It's a long driving hole, and I just can't seem to get on in regulation - usually short by 10-20 yards.  Putting a chip close on this green can be next to impossible.  It's got a bowl in front with a double break in the back that slopes off to the left. Every putt breaks. Period. It's the hole I am determined to conquer. This shot is a sideways view of the 7th green.  Looks tame from here, but trust me, it's a killer.

This is a view of the 9th green from the women's tee box (118 yard par 3 over the water - and where I had my singular hole in one!) with the club house in the distance. The men's tee on this hole is a spectacular elevated tee with a narrow 170 yard shot to the green.


So when the magazine comes your way, check it out.  It's a great course, in a fabulous location.  We're seeking new members and the cost is ridiculously low for the ability to play on this amazing gem one hour north of New York - with no tee times.  (Full golf dues per family are $4250/year plus tax, plus low initiation which can be spread over several years)  It's never crowded - you can almost always walk on. You can literally drive up on a Saturday morning at 8 am and find 10 people on the course.  I kid you not.

What's not to love? Come on and join the fun.