West on golf: TGA does great job for state’s golfers

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, July 30, 2014

As someone who is an avid golfer, and who writes about the game on a weekly basis in the Port Arthur News, I’ve always had a healthy respect and admiration for the Texas Golf Association. Those feelings were enhanced after playing in the TGA’s recent Father-Son Championship over spectacular Comanche Trace in Kerrville.

    Having never been to Kerrville, it was a huge treat to see a part of the state I’ve heard so much about but never had the opportunity to experience. Getting to the Hill Country effort, but the five-hour plus drive  was certainly worthwhile. Both the area and the golf course left an indelible impression.

    This column, however, is more about the TGA, the numerous contributions it makes to golf in the Lone Star State and how smoothly it operated an event like the Texas Father-Son. In existence since 1906, when it was founded with the stated goal to “promote the playing and advancement of the Royal and Ancient Game of Golf in Texas,” the TGA has done that and much more.

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    Among its many functions is working with the United States Golf Association (USGA) to oversee the system which provides handicaps for anyone playing at a member club. Most of you would know that as the GHIN system — Golf Handicap and Information Network. An estimated two million golfers at more than 12,000 clubs have a GHIN index.

    The GHIN system is not infallible, but it does a terrific job of leveling the playing field from weekend games at member clubs to flighting for tournaments across the country.

    Other major undertakings for the TGA are hosting some two dozen events on its competitions calendar and its partnership with the Northern and Southern sections of the Texas PGA to oversee the Legends Junior Tour.  The latter, which includes an HP Byron Nelson Junior Championship, the Jackie Burke Cup and the Texas State Junior Championship, has enhanced top-level opportunities for the state’s best junior talent.

    The TGA does a most admirable job of providing attractive tournaments for amateurs, starting with the Texas State Amateur. Some of the other top tourneys are the Texas Public Links, the state Four-Ball, the Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur and, of course, the Father-Son.

    Sites for TGA events this year are among the state’s most-heralded venues, from Crown Colony in Lufkin, to Horseshoe Bay, to Comanche Trace and Riverhill in Kerrville, to Miramont CC in Bryan, to the Dallas Athletic Club to Whispering Pines.

    If you are interested in the playing opportunities that are available, just go to txga.org and check out the entire competitions list.

    The Texas Father-Son, meanwhile, is a special event wherever it’s played, just because of its nature. For three-days of competition, as well as a practice-round, it gives fathers and sons of all ages some of the best quality time they can share. Especially when they don’t see each other often.

    Grayson and I have been playing in the Father-Son off and on off the past 15 years, getting together at sites like Crown Colony, Horseshoe Bay, The Bandit, Stonebriar in Frisco and Comanche Trace. We’re not close to being able to compete at the top level, but that’s why you have handicapping and flights.

    This year, for the first time, we actually won something. Grayson’s birdie on the 54th hole enabled us to claim a one-shot victory in the Tom Kite flight.

    It’s always fun to win, but in this tournament that’s secondary to the hours spent together doing something we love, and getting to know other fathers and sons who share our feelings for a great game. And, thanks to the way the TGA operates the event, you have the feel of playing in something special.

    It all starts with a pre-tournament dinner. Prior to every round, each player gets introduced on the first tee, with name and hometown. There’s a giant scoreboard to check out the results. For those lucky enough to slip into the winners circle, there’s a neat trophy and a team photo.

    Any dads out there with golf-playing sons should give participating in this event some serious thought. Even if you don’t, appreciate the fact you play golf in a state where such a quality and efficient organization as the TGA is doing so much to promote the game.

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at rdwest@usa.net.