Like many of you reading this, I grew up (and currently reside) in northern Lake County Indiana. A place with a long history of fine golf, a diverse and challenging grouping of golf courses, and, a mostly urban
Here in the (da) region, we grew up fully understanding the “irony” of the heavy truck traffic, long waits at
RR crossings, and poor air quality (which) – may have tested our health – but most certainly put food on our table.
And as much as we love our neighbors, the density of homes in many areas leaves little breathing room – (if I feel like messing with my next door neighbor, I point the TV remote towards his kitchen (and) turn his set to the “Oprah” channel! -or- even worse…to the Cubs game!
So every once in a while, it is a nice change of pace to spread our “golfing wings” and visit our (very nearby) countryside… with its extra elbow room, its (2-3) hour rounds! And its overall more leisurely pace/lifestyle.
A Perfect Place
To do this – is to travel east – to the southwest St. Joseph County, Indiana area (to) the wonderful Whispering Pines Golf Course. Bordering the two fine communities of North Liberty, IN (pop. 1,896) and Walkerton, IN (pop. 2,144), Whispering Pine GC truly reflects the people (and) the lifestyle of this beautiful, expansive, rural area.
Although challenging in some areas of the course, WPGC is a laid back “no pressure” style course, with several chances for birdies – (or better!) – room to “let it fly” off the tee, and, all set in a very peaceful and relaxed environment.
Whispering Pines GC was opened in late 1967 by then owner/builder, Mr. John Bellinger, who operated the facility – (with one short change-over) – until the approx. 1989 purchase of the facility by veteran golf professional (best known for his multi-year stint at the marvelous Lincolnshire CC in Crete, IL) – John Niespodziany – who continues to operate this beautiful facility to this day.
The par (72) lay out, with its (2) sets of tees, measures from 5,200 to an approximate maximum of 6,000+ yards – again, offering that opportunity for some low handicappers to make a cool #, as well as, a chance for the medium & higher hdcp golfers to (also) enjoy their round(s)… that being said… the tree-lined fairways, fairway and greenside bunkering, the number of smallish sized greens (with their run-offs), the closely mowed (but dense rough), and a “smattering” of water hazards - will - get your attention!
The overall conditioning of the course is outstanding – (thanks in no small part to the efforts of golf course Superintendent Mr. Chris Hayes and his staff) – the course is well marked for yardages, the carts are in great condition (with covers), there is a nice putting green, great drainage! – The course loses very few days to rain annually!; the course is extremely walker friendly & provides pull carts, the rates are among the best I have seen anywhere!; the clubhouse is very clean and well organized – (thanks to mostly Rachel, Megan, and Loren) -and- includes a fully stocked golf shop, a snack bar w/ hot dogs, snacks, etc. – with room for approx. 80+ inside (and) an outdoor pavilion which includes a grilling & patio area with picnic tables – and is – perfectly organized for outings/events – providing the sight for the annual (25+ years MDA Charity Outing – which has now raised over $500,000 for this fine cause; (and) the Men’s Club – having run for over 20 years – is very active + just a lot of fun!
Do yourself a favor – grab some friends (&) venture out to Whispering Pines Golf Course – enjoy the course with its park-like setting, the peace, quiet, and sweet smelling air of the surrounding countryside – and as the fine folks of the town of Walkerton suggest in their small park in the center of town – Just - …sit a spell!
WPGC is located on State Rd #4 in North Liberty, Indiana. The phone # is (574)656-3295. The facility is easy to get to – just (15) minutes south of LaPorte, Indiana on RD #4 & very close to the Indiana Toll Road / as well as / the towns of Michigan City, IN (&) New Buffalo, Michigan (&) their attractions. And is on Eastern Time.
*Note: This would be a great place for your next mixed scramble! Check it out!
Around The Tour(s)
On the European Tour: Swede Alexander Noren wins the Nordea Masters – Chris Wood won the Lyoness Open – and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal takes home the BMW International Open title.
LPGA: Manulife LPGA Classic was won by veteran Suzann Peterson (her 15th career title) – the Women’s PGA Championship was won by young (26) S. Korean star Inbee Park for the 3rd year in a Row! This is her 6th major (&) returns her to world #1! And, another young S. Korean star Na Yeon Choi wins the Walmart Championship.
The Champions Tour: Featured a win by Mark Calcavecchia at the Principal Charity Classic – another wire-to-wire victory by Bernhard Langer at the Senior Players Championship (a major) – for his 5th career Champions Tour major. *Nicklaus also owns the record for most majors won on the Champions Tour (8)! Go figure?! And a couple weeks later, Jeff Maggert won his 2nd major of the year at the US Senior Open.
The US Men’s Tour: Saw the Memorial Title go to David Lingmerth of Sweden – an event that saw Tiger shoot (85) on Saturday – and because of the uneven cut line - played alone on Sunday. *That same week saw his niece (Cheyenne Woods) set a course record (63) at the Manulife Classic! The Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic was won by Argentine Fabian Gomez – his 1st ever win; and Bubba Watson won the post-US Open Travelers Championship in a play off.
And Oh What An Open – This 115th US Open – ending on Jun 21st – will be talked about for years! First of all, young (21) year old, Jordan Speith backs up his April Masters title (&) now enters the British Open as the youngest player to ever pull this off – additionally, he is the youngest US Open winner since (1923) – Bobby Jones – and is making history at a time in our game – (with so much high quality competition) – that has many experts scratching their heads!
But for all that saw the event on TV – the 1st ever played in the great northwest – (an hour south of Seattle) – the course was as much the story as Jordan! Players complained about the greens, the (10) mile walk?! That the course afforded – the fact that (6) of the par 4’s were over 500 yds (with) (3) par 4’s passing the 540 yd mark! The elevation changes (totaling 1200’) and the violent undulations were all controversial. Several players suffered dehydration & Jason Day persevered through an attack of vertigo so severe that he may have… well we don’t know? But with all the (7) hour practice rounds, complaints, or what have you, this 7,600+ layout provided us with a true champion (and) we should all cheer him on July 16th-19th as he goes for the 3rd leg of the grand slam! *And while watching, I just could not help but recall that Jack played in (44) straight US Opens?! (And) (146) straight majors – the best golfer of all time? You decide!
Now: Local History – Was set – as young Purdue – Calumet student Pat Mudd (of Crown Point) earned his 1st Gary Amateur title at the challenging South Gleason Park Golf Course in Gary, Indiana. The senior division title went to Chuck Crawford for the 2nd year in a row – (and in another tight battle with the “Kat Man”) – Frank Katsinis. The super senior division victory went to Chuck Welter – (his 1st) – in another close race with last year’s champ Marv Selby – the women’s crown was won by Donna Howell – and the “A” flight was won by Kevin Cunningham – great event folks – congrats to all the participants & to the staff at SGPGS as well!
Want to join in? Make your own history? Sign up today for the Lake-Porter Classic being held Sat & Sun July 11th & 12th at the beautiful Palmira GC of St. John, IN. This event was first played in 1931 and has several flights & age brackets – info? (219)365-4331.
Want to see some great golf? Go follow the senior stars of golf – as the Champions Tour returns to North Sore CC in Glenview, IL for the Encompass Championship July 6th-12th – an event where all kids under (18), as well as, all active & retired military get in Free! Log on to encompasschampionship.com for info.
Helping the kids – The 1st Tee of Hammond – located at the outstanding Lost Marsh GC – is holding a tourney for adults August 3rd – this event will help aid this marvelous junior golf program (&) continue to provide “Life Lessons” through golf – for our areas’ youth info / or to help / (219)932-4046.
More help for kids – the 10th Annual Make-A-Wish Foundation Golf Outing – sponsored in large part by Carstar – will be held Thursday August 6th at the excellent White Hawk CC in Crown Point, IN – to help/play please call Charlotte at (219)663-0989. (And) the Crossroads YMCA Golf Outing – with all proceeds going towards assisting youth programs in our area – will be held Monday August 10th at the terrific Youche CC – also in Crown Point – details – call Carl or Ray at (219)750-1082.
(And) another reminder – my good friends at Duck Creek GC in Portage Township will be holding their (17th) Annual Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation “Rally For A Cure” Golf Outing on Sat July 11th – call (219)759-5870 for all the info.
Happy Fourth of July – here’s hoping for some nice summer weather – so we can enjoy all the golf we missed in June (&) the festivals our fine local Chambers have put together - as well as – the marvelous “Festival Of The Lakes” which returns to the Wolf Lake Pavilion in Hammond, IN July 15th-19th – www.festivaloflakes.com. (And) Wolf Lake will also be home to “The Festival Of The Lakes Annual Fishing Derby” – co-hosted by my friends at the Hammond Optimist Club – Saturday July 18th – always a lot of family fun – (219)577-6199 for details.
One more – for all my friends who enjoy a good brew – Wicker Memorial Park in Highland, IN will be holding their famous “Pints In The Park” event Saturday August 8th – food – over 100 craft beers – and live entertainment by Dick Diamond & The Dusters (21+ over only) – questions? (219)923-3830.
Special thanks this month to: John Niespodziany, Rachel, and everyone at Whispering Pines GC, to new friend Phil Buckmaster at the town hall in Walkerton, IN, to Mike Modrzejewski who is the best, and to my lovely wife Mary (Mystica) Mandich – who, if you have never seen her perform her musical (singing) “magic” live – you are truly missing something! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for info. (And) a big congratulations to: Brian, Randy, Tony, John, Beverly, and Lou – who called in on June 20th – and correctly answered last month’s quiz question – they will all be receiving passes good for (2) rounds w/cart to one of their favorite courses – look here in this column in August for your chance to win!
As Always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions, questions, stories, etc. Please contact me at our e-mail address: email@example.com or leave me a voicemail at (219)947-4314, and to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at GolfPlusOnline.net.
Lastly: During the prep/practice for last month’s US Open, many of the pros were experimenting with a #1 iron – (because of the nature of the course) – and this reminded me of a quote from noted sports columnist Jim Murray who once said – “The only time I took out a #1 iron was to kill a tarantula. And it took me (7) tries to do that!” See ya next month - Pete