, Port Arthur, Texas


July 9, 2013

West golf notepad: Sale of Belle Oaks could be in the offing


    Big news could be imminent in relation to the Southeast Texas golf scene. Rumors are flying hot and heavy that the Port Arthur Renaissance Group, which is in the process of getting The Palms at Pleasure Island up and running, is attempting to purchase Belle Oaks Golf Club from Jerry Braxton and Bryan Phelps. Braxton and Phelps, who have owned Belle Oaks since December of 2002, sustained heavy losses from Hurricane Ike in 2008 and have entertained offers on selling it from time to time. There is also a rumor circulating that Renaissance might make a run at securing a management contract on Babe Zaharias Golf Course. Aquila Golf, which has operated Zaharias for nearly 20 years, has been told to prepare a bid to be retained as the management group for Zaharias. Other proposals will be considered. A pre-proposal conference between City of Port Arthur representatives and any interested groups is scheduled Thursday. Sealed bids are due on July 24. The Port Arthur News has not been able to get confirmation that Renaissance plans to submit a bid . . . Chris Stroud, who is taking a second consecutive tournament off from the PGA Tour for a long-planned family vacation in Florida, plans to return for next week’s Sanderson Farms Classic in Madison, Miss., that runs opposite the British Open. Having already earned a spot in the Aug. 8-11 PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Pittsford, N.Y., it’s mostly gravy for Stroud between now and the start of the Fed Ex Cup playoffs two weeks after the PGA Championship. He sits at No. 36 on the money list with a career best $1,402,809 in official earnings and is No. 33 in Fed Ex Cup points. Under a rule implemented this year, the 2013 season ends with Sept. 19-20 Tour Championship. Four fall events, starting with the in October, count toward the 2014 season . . . While Stroud’s playing card has long been secured for 2014, his former Lamar University teammate Shawn Stefani is on the proverbial bubble. Stefani is No. 121 in Fed Ex Cup points — you have to be in the top 125 or play the next season on the Tour — and likely will be grinding to the very end of the schedule to keep his PGA Tour card. Stefani is currently eligible for five more 2013 events — this week’s  John Deere, the July 25-28 Sanderson Farms, the July 25-28 Canadian Open, the Aug. 1-4 Reno-Tahoe Open and the Aug. 15-18 Wyndham Championship . . . On the local golf scene, congratulations to 74-year-old Roy Martinez of Nederland for pulling off the rare feat of shooting his age. Martinez actually posted one under his age with a 73 from the white tees at Babe Zaharias. Witnesses included Danny Maxwell, Don Rucker and Pete Chauvin . . . Congratulations also to PN-G junior-to-be Karlei Hemler for a sparkling two-day-total of 148 (75-73) at Grey Plantation in Lake Charles that enabled her to run away with Girls 15-18 in the Mizuno/USSSA Regional Championship and advance to the national finals July 19-21 in Orlando . . . Tyrone Cooper of Beaumont is the latest to join the 2013 hole in one club. Cooper sank a 6-iron on the 166-yard, second hole on the Bayou Front at Bayou Din. Witnesses were Bruce Morris and Jamie Smith. It was Cooper’s first ace . . .  One of my favorite area tournaments, Wildwood’s Old Glory Invitational, was played last weekend. As usual, the course was in terrific conditions and a large cast of community volunteers enhanced the tournament experience for participants. Playing in a partnership format that called for best ball on Saturday and two-man scramble on Sunday, the team of Chris Rieve-Charles Heider shot 128, but needed a playoff to claim the top spot in Championship Flight over T.J. Lingle-Braden Riley. Other flight winners included Kendall Wright-Jacob Terrell (127 in 1st), Chris Nelson-Clay West (136 in 2nd), Clint Hatton-Jared Wallace (140 in 3rd), Jason Bell-Jeffery Terrey (146 in 4th), Lance Slaten-Chris Rowe (152 in 5th) and J.T. Greak-Ronnie Keel (158 in 6th). Closest to the pin winners on Saturday were Cullen Williams (No. 4, No. 12), Zane Hoffpauir (No. 8) and Crew Charlton (No. 15). On Sunday, winners were Matt O’Neal (No. 4), Bob West (No. 8, No. 12) and Jack Wiggins (No. 15). In a really nice touch, head pro Richard Cockrell created an honesty award for Barry Talbert, after Talbert found a wallet with $500 in cash and returned it to owner Larry O’Neal. Talbert received a round of golf for four at Wildwood and a reward from O’Neal . . . Thaine Tillie of Nederland shot a 79 in rainy conditions to win Boys 16-18 in the Southern Texas PGA Junior Tour stop at Eagle Pointe. Other flight winners included Peter Peng of Katy (76 in Boys 13-15), Collin Todora of Port Arthur (82 in Boys 10-12), Ashlyn Hendricks of Baytown (78 in Girls 16-18), Nadia Davila of Houston (89 o Girls 13-13) and Denise Pan of Houston (100 in Girls 10-12) . . . Raymond Rice finished plus 3 to win the Monday Seniors at Belle Oaks. Jim Brown finished second at plus 2. Brown also won closest to the pin on No. 8. In the Friday Seniors at Belle Oaks, Joe Vanderweg and Gene Jones tied for first at plus 3 . . . The team of Cody Metts, Adam Noel, Bill Fears and Harold Wilkinson finished with 29 points to win the Babe Zaharias DogFight. Placing second with 27 points was the team of Jim Jordan, Mark Petry, Cap Hollier and James Moore. Closest to the hole winners were Adam Noel (No. 2, No. 7), Don Duplan (No. 12) and Paul Allemand (No. 15) . . . The Super Saturday Game at the Babe was played in a 2-ball format. On the front nine, the team of Thad Borne, Tom Lawton, Harrell Guidry and Robert Calloway won with minus 5. On the back, the foursome of Troy Touchet, Wes McDonald, Dennis Frazier and Darin Hodgeson finished first with minus 5 . . . The field is already over half filled for the Aug. 2 Port Arthur Sertoma Club Bryan Jackson Benefit at Belle Oaks. The event, which is a fund raiser to help Belle Oaks pro Jackson with medical bills from his cancer treatment, is a three-person scramble with an entry fee of $75 per player. Due to cart limitations, only 36 teams can be accepted. Play will begin with a 10 a.m. shotgun. Entry forms are available at Belle Oaks and Babe Zaharias. As of this writing, there is better than a 50-50 chance that Chris Stroud will make an appearance at the tournament and perhaps participate in some way. Stroud has already donated an autographed golf bag that he used on the PGA Tour. It will be auctioned . . .  Entries for Saturday’s Nederland Heritage Festival flighted two-person scramble will be taken until noon Friday. The entry fee of $20 per player does not include greens fee or cart. Call the Zaharias pro shop at 722-8286 . . . Upcoming Junior Golf Camps sponsored by The First Tee of The Golden Triangle are set for July 15-18 at Henry Homberg Golf Course in Beaumont and July 16-20 at Wildwood Golf Club in Village Mills. The Homberg camp is for boys and girls ages 7-12, runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and has a fee of $75. The Wildwood camp is open to boys and girls ages 7 to 17 and has a fee of $75 . . . Entry deadline for the July 19-21 Brett Walters Allstate Agency Neches River Four Ball Invitational at Beaumont Country Club is Friday afternoon. A Friday, July 19 practice round, as well as breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday and merchandise gifts from Games People Play are included in the $550 team entry fee. Six flights of 12 teams each are planned, with a first place payoff of $1,000 per team on the line. Call Rob Lietzke at 898-7011 for more information.

    Golf news should be e-mailed to or faxed to 724-6854.


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  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

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    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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From the Fieldhouse blog