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                                          Happy Spring! And with spring, that means a few things – all our great region superintendents and their 
                                     crews are preparing our courses for play – the golf professionals, course owners, and their staffs are 
                                     stocking the shops – (and most of all) – all of us who enjoy playing the game, are getting ready for the
                                    (2019) golf season…(no matter what that darn groundhog may or may not say)!
   So, with that in mind, I usually preach here every March about prepping for the season, taking lessons, etc…but instead, I am going in a different direction this time.
   I want to talk about you! - And - the people you are about to encounter at your local golf course. First – the course owners…it’s a tough job operating a golf course – long hours, differing weather conditions, trying to keep rates down with ever-increasing costs, and not making anywhere near the $ people thing you do. But, for most, it is not just their livelihood, but is their family’s life! - (and) – sometimes, for multiple generations. And, further, if you take a close look, you will see dozens of employees – local workers – because these courses are “job creators” – helping out many, who (also) love their work! And this applies for our many fine municipal and private course facilities who also work hard to stay afloat in a tough, challenging economy.
   So, to the point, I hope you will try whenever you can to help support these facilities when you plan dinner out (or) a special occasion. At least give them a crack at showing you what they can provide.
   But even more – on a personal level – you have probably seen many of these golf course employees many times – for many years in some cases…I want you to realize these are good people who care about giving you the best service, etc…trying to make your trip to the course fun – it sounds corny, but – let them know you appreciate them – it means a lot – they get a lot of flack some days!
Now, for the wonderful golf facility operators…I know how hard you work, but I want you to understand that your guests are spending their hard earned money to come to your course – be respectful of this & show them how much you appreciate them – this goes a long way to making their recreational time…their great time!
   Simply stated – you may not think about all the time – but you are all friends – and have a lot in common – enjoy this relationship – it sure beats the alternative of giving half-hearted service (or) not enjoying your time at the course.
   If this sounds a little “preachy,” I don’t really mind. I’m just trying to make a point. Our region is full of great people and sometimes we forget that – when it comes to region golf – we’re all in this together! Oh yeah – the title of this article “Who Loves Ya Baby;” when I was a young pro in the Chicago suburbs, one of the golfing guests for a couple days was a man named Telly Savalas – an actor probably best known for his role as T.V.’s “Kojak.” And for these days, I was kind of showing him around & getting to spend time talking with him, making sure he had a good time, etc. (And) this was a man who was pretty much at the peak of his stardom. Well, he could not have been nicer to the staff – he had fun – we had fun – and when he was leaving, he gave us a wave and said goodbye with that famous line…”Who Loves Ya Baby?” …so go ahead, admit it – you local course operators (and) you players, who frequent our great region courses – you know you both get a lot more out of your day together when you realize the bond you have – so grab a lollipop! (And) enjoy spending time together.
Golf Shots
   Since our winter edition was published in November, a lot has happened on all the world tours, including:
   On the LPGA Tour: At the CME Group Tour Championship, Lexi Thompson won – her 10th career win on the LPGA Tour – (and) Ariya Jutanugarn wrapped up the year-long race to the CME globe – giving her the 1 million dollar bonus. And opening the (2019) season, South Korea’s Eun Hee Ji wins the Tournament of Champions. Followed by (20) yr. old Nelly Korda, winning the women’s Australian Open - who - now in conjunction with her sister Jessica, are the 1st sisters to ever win on the LPGA Tour multiple times; and, in late February, veteran Amy Yang won the Honda LPGA Thailand event for her 4th career title.
   The European Tours: DP World Tour Championship was won by 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett – while Francesco Molinari won the year-long “Race to Dubai,” giving him a cool 1 and a quarter million dollar bonus; (23) yr. old Aaron Rai of England brought home his 1st Euro title at the 60th Hong Kong Open; the Australian PGA Championship was won by Cameron Smith in his home country for the 2nd year in a row; (25) yr old Kurt Kitayama of the U.S. got his first title on the European Tour at the Mauritius Open; the 108th! South African Open was won by veteran Louis Oosthuizen; The Abu Dhabi Championship was won by Irishman Shane Lowry; the Dubai Desert Classic was won by the incredible Bryson DeChambeau; Dustin Johnson won his 1st Euro title at the 1st Saudi International Tourney; (and) the World Super 6 Perth Tournament was won by veteran Ryan Fox of New Zealand.
   The Champions Tour opened their season at the Mitsubishi Championship in Hawaii, where veteran Tom Lehman won; the Oasis Championship in Boca Raton, Florida was won by Bernhard Langer – that’s now a total of (39)! victories on the senior circuit for the great German golfer; (and) in Naples, Florida, the always entertaining Miguel Angel Jiminez took home his 7th win on this tour.
   The U.S. Men’s PGA Tour saw Charles Howell III win for the first time in (4,291)! days at the RSM Classic; the 103rd edition of the Australian Open was won by Abraham Ancer of Mexico; the 59th World Cup was won by the team of Thomas Pieters & Thomas Detry of Belgium; (24) yr old Spaniard Jon Rahm won the 20th Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas; Patton Kizzire & Brian Harman won the QBE Shootout in Naples, Florida; the 67th Sentry Tournament of Champions was won by (25) yr. old Xander Schauffele – *name not familiar? He’s the 6th ranked player in the world – and now has (4) PGA Tour titles; the 54th Sony Open was won by Matt Kuchar – his 2nd win this wrap-around season & 9th of his career; the 60th Desert Classic – the old Bob Hope – was won in very popular fashion by (31) yr old tour rookie Adam Long; The Farmer’s Insurance Open title in Torrey Pines, California went to world #1 Justin Rose – his 10th PGA Tour title; the 81st! (*yes, a lot of these tournaments have been going on a long time!) Phoenix Open, with its huge crowds of over ½ million spectators, was won by Rickie Fowler; the 78th Pebble Beach Pro-Am was won by (48) yr. old Phil Mickelson – that gives him (44) wins on tour! The 93rd Genesis Open in L.A. was won by J.B. Holmes – his 5th win; (and) Dustin Johnson wins the WGC Mexico Championship – that’s (12) years in a row with a win on tour!...and (20) total wins on tour.
Quick Shots
   Some more notes from the world of golf:
   *The Web.com Tour Championship – The Fed-Ex Cup finals of this tour – announced a (10) year agreement to play this event at the beautiful Victoria National Golf Club in Evansville, Indiana – a real big deal for our state!
   * If you missed it – (9) different American born players won on the (2018) LPGA Tour – we love our worldwide great women players – however, the tour knows that without players from the U.S. winning some events, the U.S. T.V. ratings fall – so, congrats to our U.S. players on their resurgence – it sets up the entire world for success in the future.
   * Tiger will captain this year’s President’s Cup team in Australia – while Wisconsin native Steve Stricker was named the 2020 Ryder Cup captain, which will be held at the outstanding Whistling Straits G.C. in Haven, Wisconsin.
   *Real quick: Phil recently played in his 600th PGA Tour event – the record – want to win a bet? – Mark Brooks with 803! (2018) saw over 50,000 junior golfers participate in the relatively new PGA Jr. League – great job by all! The 66th PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida saw 40,000 industry leaders & golf professionals from (84) countries cover the 1,000,000 sq. ft. Orange County Convention Center with its (10) miles of aisles – the industry is healthy! (And) in one of the most exciting places in golf – the (16th) hole at the Phoenix Open – young Amy Bockerstette played the hole – hit it in the bunker – and then got it up & down for par – Cool – but really cool because Amy is playing on a college scholarship, and Amy has down syndrome – great par Amy!
More Stuff
   *Some rules have changed that will make our game a little different: 1st – go ahead and fix spike marks on the green! It’s about time; lost ball? Only (3) minutes to look now – so give it up & drop a little sooner; and, whenever you do need to drop – knee level is fine – no more shoulder height; (and) go ahead and leave the flagstick in whenever you want – even while putting! – There’s a few more – but these are the “biggies.”
   * If you missed it, Phil beat Tiger in the big (9) million dollar match this fall – it took 22 hours – and was just ok to watch – don’t see another match like this coming anytime soon – unless it’s for charity (then) maybe more folks might engage.
   *Golf’s “1st Lady” from the state of Indiana – Alice Dye passed away recently at the age of (90) – the woman who, along with her husband Pete, created some wonderful golf courses (and) is best known for her suggestion of building an island green at TPC Sawgrass. (And) more talented ladies – Suzy Whaley and Alex Baldwin were the 1st women to be named as Presidents of their respective golf bodies – Ms. Whaley as President of the PGA of America and Ms. Baldwin as President of the Web.com Tour.
   *Notes: Leagues are already forming – join this year! They are always a lot of fun & a great way to meet more area players; book your outings now – the best dates always fill up fast; new products are arriving daily at your local region golf shops & golf stores – keep up with the latest technology – it really makes golf more fun when you play well; (and) take early lessons!! Get your game off to a great start this year.
   Special thanks this month: To Mike Modrzejewski – who is going to marry the amazing Ashley Doreski! You are a great guy, a lucky guy, and a very much appreciated and great help to me every month.
   Almost forgot: The Players Championship – long considered the 5th major – has been moved to March – (so) – that means I have to make (2) picks this month: For the Players Championship – My pick is…Rory McIlroy – he is in top form. For the Masters, my pick…is Australian Jason Day – at (31), now it’s his time to make the “big move” winning a second major to go with his (2015) PGA Championship. Rory may win it some year – but I think the pressure will be too much this year for him to win his career Grand Slam.
(And) if you have a suggestion for a feature article you would like to see covered -or- if you just want to chime in – please contact me at our e-mail address: golfplus3@netzero.com or leave me a voicemail at (219)617-3276, and to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at golfplusonline.net.
   Lastly: A quote from the foreword to Johnny Miller’s book – and now timely because of Mr. Miller’s retirement from the T.V. booth after (29) years: “I wasn’t surprised when John became the game’s best T.V. analyst. The personality traits that made him a great player translated into a terrific announcing style.” (From) the foreword to J.M.’s book, “I call the shots” as written by Mr. Jack Nicklaus.
   See ya next month - Pete

March 2019 - Happy Spring! - “Who Loves Ya Baby?”
by Pete Mandich
GPO Correspondent