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Golfing Green: Online Resources Abound for Local Golfers

By Matt Hombach

The Internet offers users the ability to find a date, buy a used car and shop for and purchase any type of goods and services. And when it comes to learning about and exploring golf courses and golf destinations, there’s a wealth of information available, but you still have to know where to look. For golfers who regularly tee it up in Baltimore, there are a few key Web sites you can count on as your virtual golf caddy with all the information you need.

Add these to your favorites list as a can’t-miss golfing resource this season:

www.GolfinAmigos.com

As the name implies, this site was created by a group of golfers who enjoy playing courses throughout the Baltimore area and beyond. While the site offers golf tips and golf jokes, the most unique and useful feature of this site is the comment and review section. The forum allows golfers to post a review of a local course for other users to read and learn from. If you’re thinking about trying out a new course in southern Maryland, log on to www.GolfinAmigos.com and check out what other golfers are saying before you make the trip.

www.BaltimoreGolfing.com

The online home for the six public courses owned and operated by Baltimore County -- Greystone, the Woodlands, Rocky Point, Diamond Ridge, Longview and Gunpowder Falls. The site contains regularly updated news and information from all six courses. In addition, www.BaltimoreGolfing.com features easy-to-navigate rates and directions pages as well as details on promotions and contests the county courses offer to golfers.

In addition to online tee time booking capabilities the site now offers, www.BaltimoreGolfing.com will soon launch an online golf shop selling discount cards, gift cards and other goods online.

The site’s e-commerce feature is very popular during the holiday season and Father’s Day, allowing shoppers to purchase gift cards or other items for the golfers in their lives without having to make the trip to the courses.

www.Classic5Golf.com

This site offers information, directions, rates and online tee time booking capabilities for the five courses run by the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation -- Carroll Park, Clifton Park, Mount Pleasant, Pine Ridge and Forest Park. Site visitors can also find complete information on the city courses’ Junior Program and beginners clinics. The site also boasts details on BMGC’s popular tournament series that runs throughout the spring and summer months.

www.HarfordGolf.com

Harford County boasts some of the top golf courses in the state, including the highly acclaimed Bulle Rock. Harford County Tourism is stepping up efforts to market the county as a destination for golfers throughout the mid-Atlantic and beyond. A key component of this initiative is the revamping of www.HarfordGolf.com.

In the next few weeks, the site will be relaunched with tons of new content including blogs that will be updated regularly by the head pros at courses throughout the county, video clips showcasing the courses and extensive information on hosting golf outings at the county courses.

In addition, the site will offer detailed information and listings on hotels and restaurants in the area for golfers looking to “stay and play” in Harford County.

www.Waggle.com

What does a golfer do before he hits the ball? He waggles. Similarly, www.Waggle.com promotes itself as the place to go before you play golf in Baltimore or anywhere in the mid-Atlantic. The well-maintained site offers an exhaustive list of courses and golf shops including contact information and reviews of many courses.

Great information on local golf schools and lessons, golf etiquette, local pro events and area leagues and clubs is also posted at www.Waggle.com.

Golfers can also find details on outings and tournaments taking place throughout the mid-Atlantic. www.Waggle.com is also known for the regular e-mail newsletter they distribute to thousands of golfers each month. Visitors to the site can add their e-mail addresses to the distribution list by filling out a simple online form.

www.MSGA.org

The online home for the Maryland State Golf Association. The site contains details, registration information and results for the many tournaments the organization runs each year. The news page is a great resource for up-to-date information on tournaments past and present.

Golfers can also use the site to establish and maintain a USGA handicap. Scores can even be posted on the site.

In addition, www.MSGA.org is an outstanding reference on the rules of golf. From taking an online quiz on USGA rules to detailed information on local rules for Maryland courses and tournaments, the site has it all.

DOWNHILL LIE

By Ashley Campbell

Best-selling novelist Carl Hiaasen’s has a new book, “The Downhill Lie,” hitting stores and online sites this week. Hiaasen, a Florida native, is a regular weekly columnist for the Miami Herald, and his newest project is a 577-day diary documenting his misadventures when he decides to return to the fairway after a hiatus of over 30 years.

It was his father who initially sparked his interest in the game of golf, but Hiaasen quickly dismissed the game after a few bad attempts. It wasn’t until 2005 that he became a born-again golfer when his high school friend dragged him out to play nine holes. Hiaasen writes, “What possesses a man to return in midlife to a game at which he’d never excelled in his prime, and which in fact had dealt him mostly failure, angst and exasperation? Here’s why I did it: I’m one sick bastard.”

The 200-page book is filled with humor, but resonates with Hiaasen personal experience of golfing, or rather attempting to golf, with his father. He is persistent in his struggle to become an average golfer, at best, and his up and down battle sparks moments of both pride and embarrassment. Though his game is rusty, he foolishly agrees to compete in a 45-hole country club tournament against players much better then himself.

His reflection on the experience is hysterical and surreally funny, and his journey solidifies Hiaasen’s role as a patron for the everyday, ordinary hacker.

ARGYLE PAIR
TAKES TWO-MAN TITLE

By John Stewart, MSGA

The Argyle Country Club pairing of Ronnie Renner and Zach Lese made sure there would be no playoff when they combined for seven birdies in a bogey-free round of 33-32--65, winning the annual Maryland State Golf Association Two-Man Team championship at Lakewood Country Club in Rockville April 30.

This was two shots clear of Jeff McKnight-Tom Winegardner, Old South Country Club, who had a tournament-high eight birdies, but marred an otherwise superb effort with three bogeys in a round of 34-33--67. Three teams shared third at 68, and three more were at 69, with six of the first eight scores coming in the final one hour, 15 minutes of a day that had started with a two-hour frost delay in 38-degree weather.

The winning team, together in this event for the first time, but a veteran pairing in "A" Team matches, started at No. 10, and while Renner was going 5 over par on his first five holes, partner Lese was dipping 2 under with birdies at the 10th and 14th. Renner got on track with a birdie at the 16th (the 14th and 16th are par-5s), and Lese capped that side when he holed a 30-yard chip shot that went over a tree, took one bounce, and went in the cup on the 18th green.

Coming back, Renner had the birdies -- at Nos. 3-6-9. The tour also included par-saving putts from 6, 7 and 10 feet, the closest they came to a bogey.

Of the birdies by the runner-up team, McKnight had five and Winegardner three, but there were two 3-putts and a missed green at the 156-yard 17th that kept them from claiming the top prize.

Two years ago at Beechtree Golf Course, they thought they had it won outright with a 62, but ended up having to go an extra playoff hole before sealing the victory.

The high caliber of play had to share the spotlight with the golf course, as the renovated 7,000-yard, par-72 layout drew rave notices from the 104-team field. The event was at 6,956 yards but played longer, especially on the holes into the wind. From the cold overcast start, play for much of the day was in sunshine and mid-50s temperatures before getting cooler in the early evening.

Issue 3.19: May 8, 2008