Thursday, April 19, 2007

Let the Madness Begin!

A new beginning has started at the Missouri Golf Association. The first two Senior Series events, presented by Callaway Golf, have been completed. The events were held this past Monday and Tuesday at Leawood South Country Club and Swope Memorial. From the response of the players it was a huge success! With having the inclement weather last weekend in the Kansas City area, we still finished the rounds. Both golf courses were in great condition considering the amount of rain they received a few days before. I am looking forward to this series this summer and I think it is going to be a big hit for everyone involved!!

I am on my way to the USGA Committee meeting held at The Woodlands in Houston Texas for the next couple of days. It is a chance to learn and see what is going on with the USGA for the upcoming year, there are also break out session to attend. I am looking forward to hearing USGA Director of Regional Affairs for the Midwest Region and fellow blogger Wendy Uzalec,, give her presentation on the proper way to mark a golf course for a competition. Also, I am looking forward to hearing David Fay, Executive Director of the USGA, speak and inform us on what is new in the world of golf as he sees it. This should be a very good meeting.

From there, I fly back to Kansas City Sunday morning and head straight to Hutchinson, Kansas for the Big 12 Championship. The event is being held at Prairie Dunes Country Club, which is ranked in the top 20 best courses in the country each year. When I played for Kansas State back in the 90’s Prairie Dunes hosted the Big 8 Championship each year. They also have hosted the Women’s US Open and just recently the US Senior Open. What a great and tough golf course. I have not been back since my senior year when I competed in the last Big 8 Championship, before they converted into the Big 12. As you can imagine the wind is always a factor on that course. I remember my sophomore year playing the 5Th hole in a strong wind, the hole is only about 440 yards, however I had to hit driver, then another driver off the deck and then a full 8 iron to get to the green. Then two holes later on the 7Th hole I hit a driver and sand wedge straight down wind to a 512 yard par 5. That is what makes the course great and that much more challenging. It should be fun being a walking rules official for two days and watching some of the top college golfers in America compete in one of the best golfing Conferences. I will be keeping you all informed with what is going on from the event each day.

Finally, if you have not entered the Senior Series events for the Springfield area, you need to go online and enter them, they are filling up quickly. Also do not forget to enter the Missouri Am, the deadline for this is May 17Th.

See you soon on the first tee.


Monday, April 9, 2007

Midwest Boys Finish Strong at Masters!!!

What a great week of golf! Yes, the weather was not the normal warm and perfect Masters weather however, it brought out some great golf. What a great weekend for the Midwest boys!!! First off with our very own 2006 MGA Player of the Year, John Kelly, becoming the low Amateur at the Masters. What a great thrill for us to have one of our own walking down the historic fairways of Augusta National and playing well.

Then, having another Midwesterner, Zach Johnson, end up winning the Masters!! It was an emotional and great thrill for me as well watching Zach. I had the pleasure of playing many rounds of golf with Zach in college when he was at Drake. For some reason our college teams got paired together a lot. In college Zach was 150 pounds soaking wet and did not hit it that far, however he could get it up and down out of a trash can. I remember one round in particular at the University of Kansas tournament at Alvamar, in the morning round when it was cold and windy (imagine that in Kansas) that Zach hit only five greens and had 24 putts and shot two under par. That was a normal round for him back then. After college when we both turned pro, we traveled together to the mini tour events. You will not find a more down to earth person with a work ethic second to none!! It just shows that you do not have to come from a well known college or be a big time junior to make it on the tour!! Way to go Zach!!!

Two weeks ago, I got the pleasure of going out to Scottsdale, Arizona for a few days and playing some golf at Desert Mountain. What a beautiful place with some great golf courses. If you want a challenge then go play Renegade from the gold tees to the gold flags. Each hole has two sets of hole locations, the white flags are the easy of the two. Each gold flag is tucked behind water or a bunker. We did not play gold to gold, thank goodness. We played blue to gold and that was more than enough for me!! On Thursday I experienced one of the top five golf experiences of my life when I had the opportunity to play Whisper Rock. For those of you who do not know, Whisper Rock is an exclusive all men’s club in Scottsdale. The likes of Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Paul Casey and many other PGA pro’s as members. Last year in the Club Championship Geoff Ogilvy (2006 US Open Champion) took second place in the club championship by 10 strokes. Gary McCord won his third Senior Club Championship title. Pretty good competition. They have 36 wonderful holes, the upper and lower courses. We played the upper course that day, each group has their own forecaddie and if you would like you could have your own caddie as well. Even though I was just a guest I was treated like royalty, each staff member that was working new your name and made sure that you had everything you needed. The ambiance is what made it that wonderful. I did not want to leave and I hope to get a chance to go back again someday.

We are under one week before our first event and we here at MGA are excited to see you all real soon.

See you on the tee,


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Getting Ready!

Kelly Plays Final Practice Round at Masters
Senior tees off Thursday at 7:44 a.m.

by Kyle Photographer

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Mizzou senior John Kelly (St. Louis, Mo./CBC) completed his third and final practice round today at Augusta National Golf Club. Starting his day at at 8:30 a.m., Kelly and his caddie, friend Barr Blanton, walked the back nine before taking a break for lunch and and a nap before the par-3 contest.
Kelly enjoyed the par-3 contest he competed in Wednesday afternoon, paired along with Davis Love III and 2006 Ryder Cup team member Vaughn Taylor. The Tiger senior finished the contest 1-over.

Kelly is grouped with Love, a two-time Masters runner-up, and Ben Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion, for Thursday's and Friday's rounds. "Playing with Davis and Crenshaw tomorrow is going to be a thrill of a lifetime. I just have to stay in the moment," said Kelly.

"It's going to be the start of the biggest stretch in my life thus far and if I can just keep my emotions in check, I think I am going to be ok. That is going to be the hardest thing, I am sure I am going to be extremely nervous. But I'll just try to maintain my composure, and put my best foot forward," said Kelly.

Kelly will tee off at 7:44 a.m. (CT) on Thursday and 10:51 a.m. (CT) on Friday. The Masters will be televised on USA for the first two rounds, and then CBS on the weekend.

"Whatever happens, happens. It's going to be an unbelievable experience, and I am looking forward to tomorrow."

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Just Another Day!!!

Kelly Joins Crenshaw, Ballesteros
for Practice at Masters
Tiger senior also lunched Tuesday with two-time champ

by Kyle Coburn Photographer

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Mizzou senior John Kelly (St. Louis, Mo./CBC) completed his second practice round today for the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Starting on the back nine, Kelly was joined in a dream foursome by Ben Crenshaw, Masters Champion in 1984 and 1995, Seve Ballesteros, also a two-time Masters winner in 1980 and 1983, and Jerry Pate, who won the 1976 U.S. Open.

Kelly played the front nine alone after having lunch with Crenshaw, who along with Davis Love III will join Kelly for first- and second-round pairings on Thursday and Friday. The Tiger senior received many tips from Crenshaw, a veteran of 36 Masters tournaments. "Ben Crenshaw kept reiterating to me that you cannot get aggressive on the greens, you have to play high and soft and let it die in the hole," Kelly said.

Support for Kelly was once again strong on the course, as fans came from every direction to shake his hand and take photos with him between holes. "I am loving the support and hopefully I can play well for everybody," Kelly said. "I played with Vaughn Taylor yesterday and he kept saying that he had never seen anyone that has had so much support from one school. I was kidding with him that if I heard one more `Go Mizzou' I might have to switch bags to get a little more under the radar."

Kelly will complete another practice round on Wednesday morning and then will compete in the Par 3 contest in the afternoon. Tournament rounds begin on Thursday and will be televised on USA Network.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Check Out the MGA Player of the Year!!

Soaking It All In
U.S. Amateur Runner-Up Kelly
Relishing First Masters Experience

By Dan O'Neill

Augusta, Ga. – The actuality of John Kelly’s Excellent Augusta Adventure began to sink in on Sunday night when he used the facilities, so to speak, at Augusta National Golf Club.

"You just think about who slept in your bed, who went to the bathroom in the same toilet … well, that’s kind of gross, but you know what I mean," said Kelly of his first evening in the Crow’s Nest. "You know your walking in the same footsteps of greatness. It’s just really neat."

Be it personal hygiene or putting one foot in front of the other, the bunkhouse that sits atop the clubhouse at Augusta National is filled with history and ambiance, a place where legends like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods snoozed in their first appearances at Augusta.

Kelly, 22, a senior at the University of Missouri, is staying in the Crow’s Nest with three of the other four amateurs playing in the Masters: Richie Ramsay, the Scotsman who defeated Kelly in the U.S. Amateur final, U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Casey Watabu and U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Dave Womack. British Amateur champ Julien Guerrier, of France, made other arrangements. John Kelly is hoping for another memorable week at the Masters like he had last August at the U.S. Amateur.

Oddly enough, Kelly said he had no trouble sleeping in the imposing environment. "I was surprised, but I slept pretty well," he said. "I was really tired."

On Monday morning, Kelly had breakfast at the club and got another jolt to his senses. "I had my grits and bagels," said Kelly. "Then I looked over and there’s Phil Mickelson grabbing a bite to eat. It was cool. Just so many things like that about being here, it’s unbelievable."

Kelly played nine holes of a practice round with 2006 Ryder Cup member Vaughn Taylor on Monday. Taylor, an Augusta, Ga., native, quit after nine, but Kelly finished the round and nearly had a hole-in-one at No. 16. He was slated to play with two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw on Tuesday.

"I think it was good for him, actually, to play by himself," said Rob Sedorcek, a St. Louis teaching pro who is on hand to watch his protegé. "It gave him a chance to really practice some shots and gather his thoughts. If he can keep it straight, he should be fine. The guys with the measuring devices told me he had one of the longest shots all day at No. 14 and Nos. 17 and 18."

On one hand, the challenge for the St. Louis native this week is intimidating. No amateur has ever won the Masters, and few make the cut for the weekend. Since 2000, just eight of the 34 amateurs that have earned invitations at Augusta have stuck around for the weekend. On the other hand, Kelly can’t lose.

"It’s a little bit of both," he said. "The competitive side of me wants to play and beat the heck out of these guys. Then there is the other side that says, ‘Hey, up to this point in my life, this is the coolest thing to ever happen to you.’ So I want to make sure I take it all in and just enjoy the moment."

In addition to his parents and Sedorcek, Kelly’s gallery includes Missouri golf coach Mark Leroux. Flooded with caddie offers, Kelly finally chose friend Barr Blanton to carry his bag this week. A former player at Wake Forest, Blanton lives in St. Louis.

"I had a lot of people to choose from," Kelly said. "But I’ve known Barr for a long time from playing golf and I think he’ll be a big help. We’re just going to go out and have a good time with it."

Dan O’Neill is a freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on

Monday, April 2, 2007

Gearing Up for the Season

After a long and very white winter, we are finally seeing green and the golf season is just around the corner! With the first year under my belt as the Executive Director of the Missouri Golf Association, I am trying hard to continue the momentum of a great first year, and continue leading us to better things for years to come.

First of all we are trying to make everything more User friendly for our players by moving all of our entries online for the first time, eliminating bulk mail to all our participants. So far it has been a huge success and we look forward to improving the process even more in the future.

Another new addition for the MGA this year is the Senior Series for players 50 and over. We are going to have twelve separate 1-day events throughout the state, leading up to the Tour Championship to be held in October. What makes this series so wonderful is that it’s geared to all levels of golfers. In each age group players are competing in both gross and net divisions, providing an opportunity for all players to have a chance to win. We’ve had an overwhelming response to this series so far and we are looking forward to this new venture.

The week of June 18th we are having our 100th Missouri Amateur Championship at Jefferson City Country Club. This event is rich in history with many great names in golf that have won this prestigious honor; Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Jim Colbert and Don Bliss to name just a few. I encourage golf fans from all over the Midwest to come see some of Missouri’s best compete for this prestigious title.

Last, but certainly not least, for the first time in MGA history, young ladies will be able to compete in our one day Hieronymus Junior events. There are five of these events during the summer for kids ages 10 to 18. We also have a Junior Event in June for boys and girls under the age of 10. I can hardly wait for my 3-year-old daughter, Taylor, to become a participant! The Junior Golf program is a great place for young people to get involved with such a great sport.

As you can see, we are trying to build the Missouri Golf Association to be among the best in the country. If you like the game of golf and you like to compete, I encourage you to come out and join us. For additional information about the MGA, or specific information regarding certain events, check us out on the web at I hope to see you soon on the first tee.