Golf Bag: National to Improve Course
BY HOWARD WARD
National Golf Club has embarked upon a series of golf course enhancements, many of which were recommended by architect Jack Nicklaus during a course inspection last year.
"Overall, Mr. Nicklaus liked what he saw, but did recommend some improvements," said Director of Golf Tom Parsons. "We're determined to set our sights high and meet the standards that he expects of his signature courses."
One of the key aspects involves bunker work. Several bunkers are being renovated throughout the course, while three bunkers have been removed. Nicklaus suggested taking out two bunkers near the first green and a fairway bunker on the third hole.
Superintendent Dave Bowbliss is also in the process of redefining the perimeters of several greens that have become smaller. The goal is to return the putting surfaces to the sizes originally designed by Nicklaus in 1988.
Trees and underbrush affecting turf quality are getting special attention, as well as waste bunkers that have washed out or have become filled with pine straw over the years.
A revamping of the cart path system, which began in 2002, will be complete in March when the path on the par-5 fourth hole is converted from sand and gravel to white concrete. At that point, work will begin on adding curbing to the paths around select tees and greens.
"The process we have taken is a hole-by-hole evaluation to make each one more playable and aesthetically pleasing," Parsons said. "Dave Bowbliss and our general manager, Ken Crow, have a very good vision of how far this course can evolve. It may take a year or so, but everything is on paper and we know what we need to do."
National is a private club that allows a limited amount of outside play. For tee times or stay-and-play packages, call (800) 471-4339 or visit www.nationalgolfclub.com.
Tin Whistles: Bill Lewis, a former president of the Tin Whistles Club, has assumed the job of acting club captain from Jim Jones.
Jones had served as interim captain of the century-old club since the illness and death of longtime captain Bob Hunt.
Lewis began the duties on Monday. He urges members of the Tin Whistles to drop in at the office and pay him a visit.
Winternational: Michael McGowan, son of Champions Tour player Pat McGowan, prevailed in a battle of Winternational Junior Series All-Americans to win the junior/senior division on the Pinehurst Resort No. 8 Course last weekend.
On a brisk weekend when temperatures hovered just under the 50-degree mark and winds gusted to as much at 30 miles an hour, McGowan forged a four-shot lead on Saturday with a 1-over-par 73.
But it was a bitter struggle the second day as a determined Howell, who had won the week before, fought his way to a 75, while McGowan shot 77 for a 150 total, two strokes better than the Raeford native.
Howell made an early run on Sunday, trimming two shots off the deficit through the first four holes. He picked up another stroke on the eighth hole and trailed by only a shot.
McGowan responded with a birdie on the ninth, however, making birdie while Howell bogeyed, and the lead was three again.
Howell threatened again with a birdie on 11, but McGowan answered with a birdie on 15 to move the margin back to three. Howell finished with a birdie on 18, but it was too little, too late.
Brandon Jobe of Fayetteville won for the third straight time in the freshman/sophomore division. Jobe began the weekend with the event's low round, a level-par 72, and held an eight-stroke advantage entering Sunday's final round.
A 77 in the difficult conditions gave Jobe a two-round total of 149 and was more than enough to keep runner-up Douglass Johnson of Pinehurst at bay. Johnson had rounds of 80-82, while Bert Subin of Pinehurst was third at 163.
Desire Blaauw of West End posted rounds of 78-89 to win the Girls' Division.
Craig Distl, a free lance writer and golf publicist from Charlotte, contributed to this article.
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