PORT ARTHUR —
Golf balls will be flying at The Palms at Pleasure Island long before the projected mid-November re-opening of the Hurricane Ike-ravaged links layout hard by the Intracoastal Canal.
Plans are to have the course’s driving range up-and-running as soon as possible, hopefully in six-to-eight weeks. Land saturated by heavy rains in January and February has finally firmed up enough for bushhogs to be able to navigate the terrain without getting stuck.
The thinking on having the range open long before The Palms is ready for play is to allow golfers to come out to the Island, hit balls and see the progress being made on the course’s restoration. Visitors would also be able to enjoy beverages and food in the refurbished clubhouse.
“It’s a good way to draw people out there so they can see the activity on the golf course, see the things that are happening and clearly understand bringing back The Palms is more than just talk,” said Kevin Johnson of Port Arthur’s Renaissance Group. “We think it will create excitement and lead to word of mouth publicity for what we’re doing.”
Latest positive step for the Renaissance Group, which is rolling the dice that a casino gambling bill is going to clear the Texas Legislature, and that Pleasure Island will be awarded a casino, is reaching agreement with Troon Golf to be its management company. Scottsdale, Ariz., based Troon is the largest third party manager of golf and club operations in the world.
“We are kind of learning as we go and we knew we needed help in making some decisions,” explained Johnson. “Troon is the best at what they do. Having them on board kind of takes us out of the dark on some things.”
Meanwhile, activities have been ongoing at The Palms clubhouse since a Super Bowl party was held there the first weekend in February. Last weekend it hosted over 100 people for a barbecue. Upcoming is what is being billed as a “Casino Night” for invited guests to get a glimpse into the future.
On display will be the architectural designs and renderings for the proposed Palms Hotel and Casino Resort. Hernandez Design Associates of Pasadena, Calif., which has been involved in hotel/casino ventures in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and the Bahamas, is the project coordinator.
CHIPS SHOTS: Port Neches-Groves, as you would expect, dominated the schoolboy Mid-County Invitational it co-hosted with Nederland last weekend at Babe Zaharias and Belle Oaks. With medalist Lonnie Labove firing rounds of 72-73 to claim medalist honors at 145, the Indians won by a whopping 70 shots with a 603 team total. Tyler Rawson at 151 (73-78), Braden Bailey at 152 (74-78) and Brandon Soileau at 155 (77-78) rounded out the Indians top four. Jarrod Brown added a 158 (77-81). Thaine Tillie’s 164 (80-84) led the way for runner-up Nederland. Other Nederland scores included a 167 (81-86) by Michael Glover, a 171 (85-86) by Hunter Huff and a 172 (86-86) by Cole Trevino. PN-G’s B team, paced by Cameron Keith’s 162 (80-82), finished third at 678, followed by West Brook at 702 and Orangefield at 732 . . . PN-G and Lamar ex Chris Stroud jumped into the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list with a second consecutive solid week at the Puerto Rico Open. Stroud, on the strength of a T18, won $44,100 and is now No. 113 with $166,692 in 2013 earnings. Stroud’s finish in Puerto Rico also earned him a spot in Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational next week in Orlando. He’s playing in the Tampa Bay Championship this week in Palm Harbor, Fla . . . The clubhouse at Babe Zaharias hasn’t been quite as lively since the Feb. 5 passing of longtime golf shop Bobby Pastorella, who was an avid golfer, a skilled artist with a No. 2 pencil and also pretty good with a needle. Pastorella will be missed by regulars at The Babe . . . Bob Grusecki of Nederland holed a wedge from 120 yards for an eagle 2 on the 378-yard, 5th hole at Babe Zaharias. Brycen Grusecki was the witness for what was Bob’s first eagle on a par 4 . . . Buddy Sepeda of Port Arthur also had an eagle on a par 4 at The Babe — the 398-yard, 17th. Playing for the first time after having knee surgery, Sepeda holed a driver from 230 yards. The shot was witnessed by David Evans and David Colten . . . The team of Kenneth Belaire Llowel Benoit, Roger Baumer, Maurice Ross and Harold Wilkinson won the Babe Zaharias DogFight at 19&3. Second at 18&5 was the team of Darrell Dugas, Adam Noel, Harry Green and Steve Wisenbaker. Closest to the hole winners were Hilario Padia (No. 2) Steve Childree (No. 7, No. 12) and Trey Elmore (No. 15) . . .The Senior Game at The Babe was played in a 4-person scramble. Winning team at minus 12 was the foursome of Hilario Padia, Bill Jones, Paul Duplantis and Paul Bourgeois. Second at minus 11 was the team of Harrell Guidry, Rick Pritchett, Tom Hatcher and Gene Noble. Three teams tied for third at minus 10. Closest to the pin winners were Gary Wagner (No. 2), Harrell Guidry (No. 7), Jim Cooper (No. 12) and Cap Hollier (No. 15) . . . In the Super Saturday Game at The Babe, played in a 2 ball format, the team of Gene Jones, Raymond Darbonne, Cole Lee and Gene Hardy won the front in minus 8. On the back, the team of Larry Thompson, Gary Fontenot, Cap Hollier, L.J. Hardy and Jim Thompson won with minus 2 . . . The team of Bill Hammond, Bob Barnes, Paul Brown and A. Yellett carded minus 3 in a 2-ball format to win the front nine in the Senior 50 Plus Game at The Babe. On the back, the team of Adam Noel, Pat Waite, Ron Theriot, A. Benion and Roger Lloyd won with minus 7 . . . Major Rising finished plus 7 to win the Monday Seniors at Belle Oaks. Norm Shannon was second at plus 6 and Rufus Mier third at minus 2. In the Friday Seniors at Belle Oaks, Bill Worsham won with plus 4. Twyman Ash and Barry Jackson tied for second at minus 3. Jackson was closest to the pin winner on No. 15.
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