, Port Arthur, Texas


May 21, 2013

West golf notepad: The Palms driving range to open Friday


Barring unexpected bad weather or a mid-afternoon wild hog attack, golf balls will be flying off the tee Friday at The Palms at Pleasure Island for the first time since Hurricane Ike laid waste to Southeast Texas’ most beautiful golf course in September of 2008.

It’s only what President/GM Kevin Johnson calls a “soft opening” for the driving range, but it’s a significant step forward in resurrecting a facility many thought doomed to be a sad slice of Island history. The lighted range is set to open at 4 p.m., with balls priced at $7 per bucket.

According to Johnson, a more formal opening with a ribbon cutting is planned for Friday, May 31 at 3 p.m.

“We just wanted to have a week to get any bugs worked out,” explained Johnson. “We still have a lot of stuff on order for the pro shop that may or may not be here by Friday. But the range itself ready. There’s some fresh and beautiful Bermuda grass on the teeing area.”

Golfers who come out to the Island will also be able to enjoy snacks and soft drinks in the clubhouse. Beer won’t be available until the liquor license has been approved. Johnson expects that to happen soon.

“We have several flat screen TVs in there, and we think the clubhouse will be a nice place for folks to come and relax after work, maybe play dominoes and watch sporting events. Of course, we hope they will go out to the range and hit a bucket of balls.”

In the meantime, as work progresses on the golf course, the No. 1 obstacle continues to be destruction caused by wild hogs. Three different groups with dogs have been out hunting and setting traps, but with minimal success.

“We’re having to fix hog damage on an almost daily basis,” Johnson said. “We have no other choice but to work around them as best we can. We’re paying per head to get them out of here, and have held off working on the greens because of the hogs. We’ll get through it.”

Hogs or not, Johnson said the time has come to begin on the greens. Work began on No. 1 green and the putting green behind the clubhouse on Tuesday.

CHIP SHOTS: Nader Bood of Beaumont is the latest to score a hole in one at Bayou Din. Bood used a 7-iron from 145-yards on the second hole of the Bayou Front. Witnesses were Hank Harris and Tom O’Grady. It was Bood’s seventh hole in one . . . PN-G’s sophomore star Braden Bailey had a strong showing over the weekend in the Legends Junior Tour’s Bluebonnet Championship at Brownwood Country Club. Bailey fired rounds of 72-71 for a one-under par 143 that tied for fifth place in Boys’ 15-18. He missed being in a playoff for first by one stroke. Bailey’s next big tournament is the June 3-6, PING Phoenix  Junior on Arizona State’s Karsten Golf Club in Tempe, Ariz. Bailey also plans to take an unofficial recruiting visit to Arizona State that week . . .  Karlei Hemler, another rising star at PN-G, won Girls 15-18 in the Mizuno Swashbuckler 2 played at the National Golf Club of Louisiana. Hemler shot rounds of 84-86 for a 36-hole total of 170 . . . Chris Stroud, after skipping last week’s Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas, returns this week for the PGA Tour stop at Colonial in Fort Worth. Stroud is also playing in Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio next week, then will tackle the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier June 3 at Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Ohio . . .  Winners of the 2013 Babe Didrikson Zaharias Junior Golfers of the Year and Leadership Award honorees will be announced Friday night at a dinner at the Beaumont Plaza Holiday Inn and Suites. The dinner is a joint venture of The First Tee of the Golden Triangle and the Babe Zaharias Foundation . . . Several unique items, like a round of golf for three with Chris Stroud at Redstone in Houston, a round of golf for three with Wade Phillips at Carlton Woods Country Club in Houston and autographed jerseys from the Kansas City Chiefs Jamaal Charles and the Houston Texans J.J. Watt will be up for bid at the 36th annual Babe Didrikson Zaharias Golf Tournament and Dinner June 1 in Beaumont. The tournament, which is a four-person scramble, will be played at Brentwood Country Club, while the auction and dinner is set for the Beaumont Plaza Holiday Inn and Suites. Information on playing in the tournament or attending the auction and dinner can be obtained by going to Over its 36-year history, the event has raised enough money to endow six women’s scholarships at Lamar . . . Monday’s Babe Zaharias Senior 50 Plus was played in a 2 ball format. The front was won at minus 7 by the team of Tony Trevino, Dennis Wright, E.T. Robicheaux and Jobie Irvine. On the back, the foursome of Bob Barnes, Bill Draughon, Tommy Lemire and Robert Lynch won with minus 3 . . . The Babe Zaharias DogFight was won by the team of Drake Romero, Tony Borke and Ray Trahan. They finished at 17&2. Second at 16&7 was the foursome of Cody Metts, Paul Allemand, Butch Landry and Dwight Duck. Closest to the hole winners were Cricket Owen (No. 2), Steve Picou (No. 7, No. 15 ) and Tony Borel (No. 12) . . . The Super Saturday Game at The Babe was played in a two-ball format. On the front nine, there was a tie at minus 7 between the team of Rick Brunner, Cody Almand, Ivory Hatch and Glen Marino and the team of Steve Picou, Don MacNeil, Ryan Thompson and Charlie Leard. The back was won with minus 3 by the foursome of Larry Padia, Wes McDonald, Dennis Rountree and Jerry May . . . The Senior Game at The Babe was played in a flighted, 9-9 format. Larry Thompson-Gary Wagner won 1st Flight at minus 4, finishing two shots clear of Larry Stansbury-Dennis Frazier. Second Flight went to Dillard Darbonne-Randal Bedair at minus 2, with Cap Hollier-Dickie Robinson and E.T. Robicheaux-Bill Fears at even. Third Flight went to Bob Moore-Mike Hess at plus 2. Three teams tied for third at plus 4. Closest to the pin winners were Thompson (No. 2), Paul Bourgeois (No. 7), Orland Defrates (No. 12) and Frazier (No. 15 . . . Ron Somerville finished plus 6 to win the Monday Seniors at Belle Oaks. Bill Taylor was second at plus four, followed by Major Rising and Twyman Ash at plus 4. Ralph Childress was the closest to the pin winner at No. 15 . . . In the Friday Seniors at Belle Oaks, Jim Brown finished plus 11 to run away from the competition. Joe Vanderweg and Barry Jackson tied for second at plus 3. Brown was the closest to the pin winner on No. 8 . . . Registration is open for two summer junior golf camps hosted by The First Tee of the Golden Triangle for boys and girls ages 7 to 12. Each camp has a fee of $75. The Babe Zaharias Junior Camp is set for June 3-6 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Wildwood Junior Camp is set for June 11-15 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Contact for more information.

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  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    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