Check out this blog from one of our hosts in Florida 2015 winter training camp…Lorne Rubenstein blog from Scoregolf
JUPITER, Fla. — In the interest of demonstrating to myself something I know but sometimes forget — that there’s more to golf than Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and pro tour golf in general — I’m writing about an illuminating experience I had at the Loxahatchee Club here. Wilson Zehner, the club’s congenial head professional, invited me to play in a recent fundraiser for the Jupiter Medical Center. And so I did.
Loxahatchee is one of my favourite courses and clubs here in Florida. I attended the course opening in 1985. There are strong Canadian connections to the club. Gordon Gray, a successful real estate developer in Toronto, made Lox, as it’s known, happen. He had gotten to know Jack Nicklaus, and invited him to design the course on an old abandoned dairy farm.
Nicklaus took on the project and would often work on his game at Loxahatchee with Jack Grout, his only instructor. Grout had a home at Lox, as does Gray. Gray recently completed writing a comprehensive book about the club’s history. I might add that the club maintains a strong caddie program, under the direction of Hugh Stacy. Here’s apiece I wrote about Stacy a couple of years ago.
I didn’t know that Wilson, a very fine player, teacher and organizer, had arranged for me to play with Gabrielle Macdonald (pictured at left), a Saint. That’s right. She is a member of the University of St. Andrews golf team. Gabrielle won the 2014 Scottish Ladies Amateur Championship at Prestwick. She’s a fourth-year geography student who plans to turn pro after graduating and then play the Ladies European Tour. Assuming things go well there, and her play and demeanour suggest they will, Gabrielle plans to get herself onto the LPGA Tour after a couple of years gaining experience as a professional.
Wilson had provided another treat for me. Or two. Kevin Hale, the long-hitting, personable women’s golf coach at the University of St. Andrews, was in our group. So was Loxahatchee member William Van Faasen. Bill has done a tremendous amount for the game, as I would learn.
He’s done so much, to be sure, that The Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund will present Bill with its Spirit of Golf Award during a gala reception and dinner on February 9th in Boston. Bill has been instrumental in the Ouimet organization, named after Francis Ouimet, the 1913 U.S. Open champion from Brookline, Mass., who came out of the caddie ranks. Funds raised from the dinner will go to education scholarships for inner-city kids.
A further word about Bill. He’s a five-handicap golfer in his mid-60s who has played many local and state tournaments. He told me, though, that he likes nothing more than playing recreational golf and making new friends on the course. He’s been on the executive committee of the Massachusetts Golf Association since 2005. Bill was general chairman of the 2010 Curtis Cup at his home club, the Essex Country Club. I could go on and on about his commitment to the game, and his accomplishments. You can read more about him here.
Back to Gaby, who was in the middle of a tour of courses in the Jupiter area with her coach and teammates. Watching her, I realized — for what must be the 1,478th time in my life — that nothing works better in golf than an efficient swing grounded, well, in the ground. Gaby works hard on her posture, and I don’t think there’s any wasted motion in her swing. She told me how careful she and her teammates are about all aspects of their training. (Golf Canada’s players also train carefully; no wonder so many talented young players are coming out of various programs around the world today.)
Gaby is careful about her diet as well. I couldn’t convince her to partake of Loxahatchee’s special treat after nine holes: frozen yogurt that comes swirling out of a machine, topped with chocolate chips, sprinkles and other delicacies. But I didn’t feel guilty about making my way to the machine.
Gaby grew up in Edinburgh, getting her start in golf at the local Prestonfield Golf Club, which James Braid designed. Braid, by the way, won five Open Championships between 1901 and 1910. Gaby eventually moved over to the Craigielaw course that Donald Steel designed. She did so because of its very good junior program. She obviously benefited from the association. Meanwhile, she caddied at Muirfield Golf Club and the Renaissance Golf Club. She was getting a deep education in the game.
The 10th was our last hole in the shotgun event. Gaby’s tee shot found a bunker on the left side of the fairway. She had 161 yards to a back left pin. The hole was cut behind a bunker. There was little room for error. No matter. She didn’t make an error. She clipped the ball cleanly with a five-iron. The ball was all over the flag, and finished behind the hole. Her putt was centre cup. Bill was impressed, as he had been for the entire round. Nice way to finish. Gaby has game. And, I’d say, the promise of a very good career in the game.
The next morning I met Gaby, Kevin Hale and the rest of the Saints team at a local Starbucks. We talked about their golf program, and about their course tour that would end in two or three days. I’d made a few friends and expanded my knowledge about the golf program at the University of St. Andrews. That’s what I call a good day in the grand old game.