It's Chase with the ace!

by Casey Griffith

 Apr 05, 2018 at 3:22 PM

The pros, trainers, and coaches of McConnell Golf love nothing more than to foster and celebrate member successes. In this spirit, we’re launching the #MCGkudos campaign. You’ll see it used by our clubs throughout the year to initiate a round of well-deserved congratulations across the sister properties.


Meet 10-year-old Chase Duncan.

He recently shot his first hole-in-one at TPC Wakefield Plantation, acing hole No. 7 while playing with his father. He is the youngest McConnell Golf member to do so at any property.

“My Dad shot the yardage at 90 and he said maybe an 8 iron,” says Chase. “I said, ‘I think it’s a 9.’ I was right. When I saw it go in, we both yelled and were excited.”

For his father, Jon Duncan, it was both a proud and humbling moment.

“Anything that your child accomplishes that makes them truly excited is always a blessing to watch in person,” he says. “Then when they remind you that you have never accomplished that same thing, you realize that a 10-year-old is better at golf then you.”

Prior to his hole-in-one, Chase was named the 2017 Junior of the Year at WP. He started playing when he was four years old; now, he’s a strong member of the 2017 PGA Junior League squad. Last year, he won the Junior Club Championship Nine & Under Division with a solid round of 39, seven strokes better than his nearest competitor.

This past summer, Chase teamed up with his Dad to post a stellar score of 37 and claim a Modified Pinehurst Parent-Child event at WP. Needless to say, the father-son duo have a lot of golf ahead of them. We’re certain there’s an ace out there for Dad in the future!

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Elby Bikes Zip & Zoom at McConnell Golf

by Casey Griffith

 Mar 08, 2018 at 8:55 PM

McConnell Golf recently caught up with partner Elby bikes to discuss the booming popularity of a classic machine, re-imagined. The electric bike. 


Why the decision to venture into the private golf segment?

E-bikes generally offer a great way for people to get around, from young urban dwellers all the way up to active retirees in residential communities. With so many of these communities featuring golf as well, the move is natural: golfers appreciate being outside, spending time with others, and need to travel distances ideally without getting in cars. The Elby enables all of these and adds the bonus of a really fun ride.


How do electric bikes translate from urban settings to suburban?

E-bikes are all about taking the time-tested benefits of traditional bicycles and removing some of the exertion and effort that may make them less of an option for others. So, a good e-bike, like a good traditional bike, is useful in any setting. Where a bike like the Elby has an edge in the suburbs is around its extended range. With more ground to cover in the suburbs, an 80+ mile range on the Elby battery is a huge help.

The Elby’s also incredibly adjustable, so entire households, regardless of age, gender, and physical size can enjoy one Elby bike. That makes it a great replacement for a car, which is really the best case for any electric bike.


Share a little about the need Elby bikes serves its patrons.

The nice thing about a bike like the Elby is how it serves different needs for different people. Right off, and most universally, the Elby is a pure joy to ride. That first feeling of silent, electric boost to your pedaling recalls your first pedal strokes as a kid. It’s just a magical feeling.

More practically, Elby provides an efficient, green, and fun way to get to work, run errands, grocery shop, or make that morning tee time. Getting where you need to go on a bike instead of a car is nearly always more pleasant, more personally engaging, and better for the environment.

There’s also the "sneaky workout” side of things. While you’re not really breaking a sweat on an Elby, you do see a basic increase in heart-rate with all the stress-reducing benefits of exercise.  We hear from Elby users all the time that they dropped weight and were less stressed and angry at work and home after switching to an Elby.


Where do you see the company in five/ten years? And electric bikes in general?

E-bikes are already saving the cycling industry. Almost every segment of the industry, from mountain bikes to kids helmets, is seeing a decline in business metrics from previous years. In stark contrast, e-bike sales and growth are up. This is an extremely positive sign. Urban and suburban residents are just beginning to see how much better their morning commutes, and health, could be with an e-bike. We only expect this trend to continue as e-bikes become a ubiquitous sight in cities across the globe. In five years, ten years, and even twenty years, we expect Elby to continue to be a leader in the e-bike space.

Since the beginning, Elby has been about creating a better mobility solution for people, whether that’s replacing a car or just adding a new way to move through our communities. The S1, our step-through model, we accomplished this through the most size-adjustable frame on the market, enabling the Elby to serve entire homes, offices, or even large planned communities. With the newer C1, we've created an extremely capable, reliable, and enjoyable e-bike at a great price. We're now seeing urban planners considering bikes more than ever as our cities and towns are becoming more efficient with space and more supportive of healthier transportation options.


What has surprised you about the way Elby bikes have been received?

We've been most surprised by just how positive cities have been towards e-bikes. We're working with communities in the US and Canada to help them develop roads, housing, and even hotels to be more friendly to e-bikes, because people realize how important diverse transportation options are to their health, their environment, and their quality of life.


Has Elby inspired those not already into biking to give it a try? What do you think non-bikers find appealing about it?

All the time! By design, Elby is encouraging to ride. Its bright colors and aerofoil-inspired design are definitely eye-grabbing. Once riders feel the electric boost provided as they pedal ahead, it's impossible not to see the appeal. For non-cyclists, the Elby is really able to meet them where they ride, commute or play and remove most of the barriers associated with traditional bikes. You don’t need training or specialized gear or spandex to get on an Elby and go. The Elby is fun, fast, and easy, regardless of fitness level. There’s no hill too tall!


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The McConnell Golf Dream 18 Course

by Brad King

 Dec 13, 2017 at 6:44 PM

With the 2016 additions of Providence Country Club and Holston Hills Country Club, McConnell Golf encompasses a dozen 18-hole, private golf courses throughout the Carolinas and Tennessee.

For those of you scoring at home, that’s a total of 225 golf holes in the McConnell Golf portfolio, and they are undoubtedly among the finest you’ll play anywhere. McConnell Golf properties feature courses designed by legends such as Donald Ross, Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, and Hale Irwin. In 2017, as they do year in and year out, McConnell Golf courses dominated the various state rankings.

So picking the 18 “very best” McConnell Golf holes is no easy task. But through nominations from pros and member votes, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’re pleased to present the final course in the words of those whom know it best.

Head over to Facebook for photos, descriptions and tips on each hole >>

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Giving Back with The First Tee

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Dec 13, 2017 at 5:57 PM

Gently-used golf donations go a long way.

Take a look around your garage. Chances are, there are some golf items you just don’t use, or need, anymore. But instead of throwing these things away, one group of Sedgefield members found a way to donate items where they’re needed most.

The First Tee of the Triad serves 1,500 kids, ages seven to 18, through golf clinics, classes, and camps. Last spring, the Cardinal Ladies Golf Association at Sedgefield’s Dye course, led by Nancy Patefield, collected gently-used golf bags, clubs, apparel, shoes, and more for The First Tee. And coming up soon, another donation is planned.

“We realized we have so much extra stuff that we take advantage of,” says Patefield. “How many golf towels do we really need? We all have an abundance of things to donate.” Patefield moved to Greensboro from Texas last year, where her home club did a collection drive for USGA.

“We collected our old clubs, bags, balls, clothes, shoes, basically anything that was gently used or new, to donate to those girls,” she recalls. “So when I got to Sedgefield, I found out about The First Tee and asked about the possibility of donating to that cause. We put it out to the Sedgefield Dye membership and pretty soon collected a van full of stuff for both boys and girls.”

The initial donation was a big success, and Patefield hopes now that the word is out, even more Sedgefield members will make a bigger effort to help The First Tee. Donations will be accepted through May 2018, making it the perfect time for early spring-cleaning.

“We donated everything from golf towels and balls to shoes, hats, skorts, and even a seven-wood, because it was giving one member a fit!,” says Patefield. The items that help kids in The First Tee may seem insignificant, but to those kids, even the smallest things make a difference.

“Some of these kids don’t have a collared shirt,” says Ellen Lapierre, director of volunteers and girl’s events for The First Tee of the Triad. “They love to wear those — it makes them feel like a golfer! Junior clubs are most beneficial, but womens’ clubs are great too, especially for teenagers who come in and don’t have any of the gear.”

According to Lapierre, the program gives kids a road map not only for success on the golf course, but for life in general. “We want these kids to have the best future they can have,” she says. “We want to make these kids good golfers, but make them even better people. Sure, we teach them skills like putting, chipping, and course management. But we’re also teaching them, right from the beginning, how to shake someone’s hand, how to look people in the eye, and how to introduce yourself to someone. And most importantly, how to create and attain your goals.”

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Where Are They Now?

by Matt McConnell

 Dec 04, 2017 at 6:08 PM

When Grayson Murray was seven years old, his dad took him and his older brother to Triangle Golf Complex, not far from their home in Raleigh. Using his mother’s clubs, Grayson took a few swings and struck some impressive golf shots. His family looked on in disbelief, jaws dropped.

“Where’d you learn to do that?” they asked. Grayson shrugged. “I saw it on TV once,” he said.

Since that day, Grayson has come a long way during his golf career — but 2017 was a record year. In July, the 23-year-old rookie won the Barbasol Championship for his first PGA TOUR title. The come-from-behind victory in Alabama secured his TOUR status through the 2018–2019 season, and even qualified him for the 99th PGA Championship at Quail Hollow last August. After shooting three-under on the first day in Charlotte, Grayson would finish tied for 22nd in his first major. Hopefully, his 2018 will be even better.

Breaking Records

TPC Wakefield Plantation’s junior scholar, 15-year-old Akshay Bhatia, played lights-out golf this past summer at the 42nd Boys Junior Championship, hosted by The Country Club of St. Albans. Shooting 22-under-par 266, the lefthanded Akshay posted an all-time course and championship record 61 that Sunday. His finish beat the previous record of 62, held by TOUR pros Jordan Speith and Miguel Cabrera-Bello, among others.

At the end of September, Akshay helped the US Team in the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup to a 14-10 victory and is already on the radar of many colleges for the 2020 recruiting class. The real question is — will he bypass college and turn pro?

Carter Jenkins Makes His PGA TOUR Debut

Raleigh Country Club’s junior scholar Carter Jenkins made his PGA TOUR debut at the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point Golf Club this year. With his dad, Bobby, by his side as his caddy, it was an unforgettable week.

“The magnitude of what this could be started to hit me a little bit,” says Carter of the moments before teeing off on the PGA TOUR. With four bogeys on the front, it took some time for him to wear off the pressure. Bobby recalls, “We were walking up on seven and I told him, ‘Son, I’m proud of you. You’ve worked through the nerves and it took you eight holes for it to be just golf again.’”

After that, Carter got in a good rhythm. He may not have made the cut, but he finished the day +3. And that’s a score both he and his dad are proud of. Currently, Carter is trying to secure his Tour status. Regardless, we expect to see him play well at the 2018 Rex Hospital Open.

The McConnell Golf Scholarship Program

In 2008, McConnell Golf announced their first elite class of young golfers who were awarded with McConnell Golf High School Golf Scholarships. These impressive golfers are nominated by their high school coaches or golf pros based on their level of talent, need, and commitment to the sport — as well as their proven dedication and value to the sport’s future.

This innovative program is designed to offer limited membership opportunities to talented young golfers who may not have the financial ability to play challenging courses. The awarded group has access to all McConnell Golf facilities and participates in a structured program designed to help elevate their game. Scholarship recipients are eligible to play in events that are for McConnell Golf members, and are consistently exposed to quality players and courses.

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Wellness Beyond the Workout

by Natalie Clemens

 Nov 28, 2017 at 7:09 PM

New physical therapy and expanded massage therapy offerings enhance the member experience.

There's no doubt that taking the proactive, “apple-a-day” approach to healthy living has gained measurable traction over recent years. But beyond its lighter menus and modern fitness offerings, McConnell Golf is taking further steps in its commitment to wellness. So, what’s next? Massage therapy and physical therapy.

McConnell Golf recently introduced Concierge Physical Therapists to its clubs. Their network of therapists is based on the belief that clients need more than what most high-volume physical therapy clinics can offer. According to Bryan Williams, founder of CPT: “I believe in one-on-one, hour-long appointments with a physical therapist specializing in manual techniques complemented with neuromuscular re-education and exercise.”

Concierge Physical Therapists has grown substantially throughout the mid-Atlantic area and now serves eight private clubs, including TPC Wakefield Plantation and Providence Country Club, with plans to add the service to Sedgefield Country Club, Country Club of Asheville, and Old North State Club soon.

“Club members benefit from several aspects of our service, including the convenience of receiving physical therapy at their club’s fitness center,” says Williams. “Members get high-level service due to our one-on-one intensive approach.”

All of CPT’s therapists hold doctoral degrees or have 20-plus years of experience working with golfers, tennis players, and non-athletes. In addition to physical therapy, two McConnell clubs offer massage therapy — Sedgefield and Old North State. Sedgefield offers treatments Monday through Friday. Members can schedule appointments directly with therapist Lisa Gagnon or with Fitness Director Sherri Tallant. In bringing massage therapy to Sedgefield, Tallant says that her goal was to offer a one-stop shop club experience for members.

“The more amenities we can offer on property, the more convenient for our members,” she says. “Massage therapy is a great idea for golfers, tennis players, and anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of a relaxing massage.” As Sedgefield member Lynn Burgio affirms, these new wellness additions have been a big hit.

“I have been receiving therapeutic massage for several years now,” she says. “These massages helped my body heal incredibly well from recent knee replacement surgery.” Old North State currently offers 60-minute massages April – September each Saturday by appointment only. According to Chris Callicutt, director of tennis and activities: “We added massage therapy to complete that resort-style feel and to add a spa element to a club with already bountiful amenities. This offering helps reach our goal of holistic wellness for our members.”

ONSC member Lucy Mullen raves about the program. “Men and women alike are enjoying this. The massage therapy room is well-appointed and provides a calm, relaxing atmosphere for each session.”

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Arnold Palmer Comma

by Irwin Smallwood

 Apr 25, 2017 at 5:22 PM

Award- Winning Golf Writer Irwin Smallwood reflects on the life and legacy of golf's greatest friend. 

What Follows is what I saw and heart and came to understand about the man who is responsible for making golf the sport it is today. And how does one begin when writing about Arnold Palmer? By using what I call the Bob Drum rule, of course, and therein lies a story. Perhaps a half-century ago, in the late 1950s or early 1960s, some wag in the press room at the Masters decided to have some fun and expose the provincialism of those of us laboring at our typewriters (yes, typewriters). When he got around to Drum, a Pittsburgh golf writer widely known as Palmer’s man, it was easy.

Every story he wrote began the same way. “Arnold Palmer,” — no more, no less. Just his name, a comma, and whatever The King happened to be doing, whether he was leading some tournament by a dozen or lagging behind.

So now, after golf’s greatest friend passed away, let us not be different.


Arnold Palmer was born and bred and remained a Pennsylvanian to his death, though he lived much of the year at Bay Hill in Orlando, and with his substantial fortune and jet could live for spells wherever in the world he desired. But, to our good fortune, he was also “one of us.” 

The Arnold Palmer we all knew was raised, to a large extent, at Wake Forest University. Just ask any Deacon die-hard you know. He tops everybody’s list of most important Wake alums. 

He also was a great friend of the Wyndham Championship’s illustrious forbear. Only Sam Snead contributedmore to the success of the old Greater Greensboro Open in its salad days. Wyndham executive director Mark Brazil puts him in a threesome with Snead and “possibly Davis Love III” as the tournament’s most important figures from the past, with little fear of contradiction.

The fact that he never won the GGO always nagged him. I mean, really nagged him. To the end, few things haunted him more than the mistake he made on the 70th hole of the 1972 tournament. He was leading by two strokes with two holes to play when he hit his tee shot on the par-three 16th at Sedgefield (No. 7 as they play it today) into the branch and suffered a triple bogey. Dream dashed.

When the Wyndham moved back to Sedgefield, it was an historic event. And who was there for the occasion? Arnold Palmer, of course. All the ceremonies were taking place in the clubhouse that in 1953 was the Sedgefield Inn and scene of the founding of the Atlantic Coast Conference. A year later, in the spring of 1954, Palmer won the first ACC golf championship at Old Town Club adjacent to the Wake Forest campus. And just like that, his storied career as one of the game’s fiercest competitors and most successful players was off and running.


Just listen to what he had to say in his 2005 commencement address to the university: “I have had a love affair with Wake Forest since my undergraduate days, but I didn’t realize until many years later what I had truly learned at Wake Forest, both in and out of the classroom, about the meaning of a productive and meaningful life.”

Actually, if it had not been for Wake Forest and its then-athletics director Jim Weaver (later, the first ACC commissioner), there might never have been an Arnold Palmer as we have known and loved for all these years.

I remember Jim telling the story years later, when he was presiding over the ACC from his office on the mezzanine inthe old King Cotton Hotel in downtown Greensboro. His duties at Wake included coaching the golf team.

“I got tired of Dumpy Hagler and Chuck Erickson beating my brains out,” he said, recalling Hagler as golf coach at Duke and Tar Heels coach Erickson. “I decided I was going to get me a golf team, and somebody told me about this kid named Buddy Worsham.”

Worsham was the young brother of 1947 U.S. Open champion Lew Worsham and a hot prospect. Weaver offered him a scholarship. But Worsham said he’d come only if Weaver ive his best friend a scholarship as well.

“I asked Worsham if his friend could play golf, and he said yes, so I said bring him along,” Weaver said. His friend, of course, was Arnold Palmer.

Weaver was a strong father figure for Palmer for years to come, but admitted that he did little or no coaching. “I mainly had to carry a trunk load of putters in my car,” I remember Jim telling me one day. “In those days, Arnold would change putters on every hole if he


Palmer’s Wake Forest connections are many and well documented: three terms a member of the board of trustees, recipient of an honorary doctorate, fundraiser par excellence, and generous contributor, including one of the finest practice facilities in collegiate golf.

The most celebrated of these, however, are the scholarships that he has endowed. The first was born of tragedy. His close friend Buddy Worsham was killed in an automobile accident returning from a dance in Durham (Palmer had turned down a ride and went to a movie instead, the story goes). The grief of this largely led to Palmer’s withdrawal from school and three-year stint in the Coast Guard, and he promised himself that he would memorialize his friend as soon as he was able.

Thus evolved the Buddy Worsham Scholarship, and later an Arnold Palmer Scholarship, and the two of them (and six added later) have played a significant role in the success of the Deacon golf program: three NCAA titles and 18 ACC championships.

In addition to present Deacon Coach Jerry Haas, his brother and PGA TOUR veteran Jay and nephew Bill, a former FedEx Cup winner, these scholarships have produced three major champions: Lanny Wadkins, Curtis Strange, and still-competing Webb Simpson, as well>as former PGA Tour winners Billy Andrade and Joe Inman.

Among the permanent campus tributes to Palmer are a residence hall and one of collegiate golf’s best practice facilities that bear his name. But my personal favorite is his statue in front of the practice facility. I’m told that it is the only statue on the Wake campus, an in the days following his death, among the items placed at the statue was a can of Arnold Palmer iced tea, his favorite tea-and-lemonade drink that helped make him one of the richest athletes of all time, and Wake Forest one of his prime beneficiaries. 


In 1958, the Azalea Open in Wilmington wasthePGA Tour stop just ahead of the Masters. It was a fun time, with Palmer as the defending champion and looking good for Augusta. That is,beforeHowie Johnson tied him at the end of 72 holes, forcing a playoff that ended with Palmer shooting 78 and losing to Johnson’s 77. All was forgotten, however, the following Sunday when Palmer won his first Masters. Ah, those were the days. There were no entourages. Just players, wives, and writers, most of them staying at the old Richmond Hotel in downtown Augusta. On Sunday morning before the final round, as I entered the hotel dining room for breakfast, there sat Arnold and his wife Winnie.

“Come join us,” he said, and we did. Such was the friendliness and charm that made them both the envy of the sports world. No wonder that when Palmer died, most of the tributes from around the world seldom mentioned his exploits on the golf course that won him four Masters titles, two British Opens, and one U.S. Open.

The remembrances mainly told stories of little things, warm and fuzzy gestures that endeared Arnold and Winnie to those around them. And, of course, their financial generosity in the untold millions that helped build two hospitals in the Orlando area, and cancer centers in his hometown of Latrobe, PA, and another in California.

Among the many stories of Palmer’s connection with the common man, none tells it better than the one of the man who was eating a ham sandwich while watching from the tee box in some tournament while a hungry Palmer was waiting to hit. The man offered up his sandwich, and Palmer came over and had a few bites.

Personally, I’ll always remember the day in Augusta when I needed to talk with him about something regarding the GGO. I figured the best place to catch him was coming off the par three after the traditional competition. The teeming crowd engulfed him on the golf cart. Seeing the throng ahead, he hollered, “Just hop on the cart and ride with me.”

I did, and for the next few minutes, I just rode there on the back of the cart waving to the thousands around us. Nobody had the faintest notion who was waving at them, and I wasn't about to let on that I was a nobody myself. 

Arnold Palmer, ... RIP.

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