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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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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Off-Course Play

by Jessie Ammons

 Dec 19, 2016 at 6:41 PM

How to make your golf game last between seasons

With short days and colder weather, wintertime usually means retiring your clubs and hunkering down, at least for a few weeks. Yet it can be a time of opportunity. “When we’re in the spring and summer months, we focus on what the golf ball’s doing,” says Wakefield Plantation Director of Golf Josh Points. “In the winter months, you have an opportunity to focus on how your body shifts and rotates during a swing. What can you do to improve your personal mobility and physical fitness?”

As it turns out, you can do plenty — in much less time than a round on the course would take.

Time to Focus

Points knows firsthand how beneficial the winter can be. At the Wakefield Plantation Learning Center, two indoor-outdoor bays and an indoor putting area are equipped with video technology to offer players instant feedback on their swing. “Carl Pettersson, David Mathis, Cameron Percy — in the winter months, we see a ton of our tour players use the indoor practice ranges,” Points says. “It takes them out of the elements and into a more controlled environment.” Points says that, once there, “they can focus on the things they’re trying to change in their golf swing.” Likewise, he says golfers of every level can treat the off season as a “time to change things physically in your game. Winter is a great time to focus on certain changes that you postpone all spring and summer.”

Sedgefield Country Club Director of Fitness Sherri Tallant agrees. Tallant is not just a personal trainer but is TPI certified, which means she’s gained a deep understanding of how the body’s strengths and weaknesses affect a golfer’s swing. “In the spring and the summer, most of our members’ time should be spent playing golf,” she acknowledges. “But in the winter, don’t just put your clubs away and forget about your golf game until spring.” Tallant recommends going to your club’s fitness center or multi-purpose room — any space outfitted with mirrors. “Just watch your golf swing,” she advises.

“When you have that time in the winter, you can focus on practicing and changing small movements,” Points agrees. He recommends investing in (or borrowing from a fellow member!) a weighted club. “Practicing your swing with it throughout the winter is a nice way to keep your game in shape and prepare for your schedule in the spring.”

Even more specifically, Tallant says cooler months are the best time to start working on your short game. “Putting and chipping tend to be the two things that get rusty the fastest,” she says. “Stick to practicing in the mirror and you’ll stay tee-time ready come spring.”

Be Flexible

Less time on the course also means more time to spend on stretching and strengthening. “In the off season, golfers should spend more time in the gym doing things like yoga classes,” Tallant says. Sedgefield offers a six-week yoga program that meets for an hour once weekly, and most of her members sign up for two back-to-back six-week sessions. “Through yoga, you’re not necessarily making your muscles longer, but you’re keeping them from getting shorter, which they would do if you don’t use them,” Tallant explains. “Strength training and stretching lengthens that muscle right back out and helps with rotation, which speeds up your clubhead speed. It’s absolutely awesome for golfers to do in the off season. There’s a lot of really good things about yoga.”

If your club doesn’t offer yoga opportunities, focus on flexibility and mobility in any way possible. Points says it just takes a moment of self-scanning. “What parts of your body make-up need improvement? Are your hips tight? Are your abs weak? If you’ve had back pain throughout the season, it’s probably not going to go away. Now is an opportunity to get a little bit stronger and alleviate any pain. You have time to focus on body movements, from big muscles to small rotations.” Hip stretches, core strengthening, and a combination of leg strengthening and stretching are crucial, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned player.

“It does not have to be very time consuming,” Tallant insists. “You don’t need hours in the gym or a lot of heavy weight lifting in order to get huge benefits.”

Beyond group classes or home stretching, your club’s pro team is a great resource for ideas to stay tunedup. “This is a time to reset and prepare for next year,” Points says. “Your golf swing, your golf game, your flexibility, everything else.”

Video Series: Tips from the Pros

Visit the McConnell Golf You Tube channel or watch below for step-by-step instruction from Josh Points as he and Assistant Golf Professional Erica Britt explain indoor practice tips to keep your golf swing in good shape during the winter months. 

 

 

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Amateur Stars

by Shayla Martin

 Sep 09, 2016 at 7:14 PM

At McConnell Golf the sport of golf is more than just a leisure activity. Members across all 12 clubs train competitively in the hope of one day playing among their idols. Three McConnell Golf members have progressed to amateur and professional levels, and we’re proud to share their latest updates.

Standout Scholars

After receiving a McConnell Golf Junior Scholarship in 2008, Grayson Murray has wasted no time ascending the ranks to the PGA Tour. After the 22-year-old started the year with conditional status on the Web.com Tour and missed the cut in his first event, he tied for 10th place at TPC Wakefield Plantation and then tied for eighth at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. He earned his full-time PGA Tour card for the upcoming season in mid-October by finishing among this year’s top 25 money winners on the Web.com Tour.

“I received the McConnell Golf Junior Scholarship in the eighth grade, and it was perfect timing. It elevated my game so much just getting to go out to Raleigh Country Club every afternoon after school,” said Murray. “I don’t think I would have been the player I am without that scholarship.” The MCG Junior Scholarship is a program designed to offer instruction, practice, and playing opportunities to young golfers who may not have the financial ability to work on their games at first-class facilities. Murray was selected based on his level of talent, need, and commitment to the sport — as well as his proven dedication and value to the future of golf.

A fellow McConnell Golf Scholar is Raleigh native Carter Jenkins, a 2010 recipient who also played in the Rex Hospital Open as an amateur. Like Murray, Jenkins excelled in the amateur and collegiate ranks and is currently playing as a professional on the PGA Canada Tour. A fun fact about Jenkins: He and Grayson Murray were high school golf teammates at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh.

Member Competitor

A celebrated Sedgefield Country Club member is Scott Harvey. At the end of 2015, Harvey represented the U.S. in Manchester, England on the Walker Cup team, one of the most prestigious tournaments for an amateur golfer.

In April he won the Carolinas Mid-Amateur Championship at Dataw Island Golf Club in South Carolina, then two days later represented the U.S. in the Concession Cup in Bradenton, Florida, an international amateur tournament with teams from Great Britain and Ireland.

Most recently he played the U.S. Mid-Amateur in September and was a fourth-time medalist in the stroke play, setting a record. Next up he will represent North Carolina in the U.S. Men’s State Team Championship in Birmingham, Alabama. At the end of the year, he’ll again be considered for the Carolina’s Men’s Player of the Year by the Carolina Golf Association, an honor he’s received six consecutive years.

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Ringing In the Big 5-0

by Brad King

 Jul 29, 2016 at 9:31 PM

Brook Valley Country Club marks its fiftieth anniversary by celebrating royal beginnings, Maples golf course architecture and celebrity contests 

In 1760, a tract of land in Greenville, N.C., now occupied by Brook Valley Country Club, became part of a royal grant bestowed by King Charles to a family who later sold the property to another family, the Brooks. They maintained the land for centuries before selling the large tract for development. Brook Valley reflects the family name, and today a copy of the royal charter adorns the club’s front walls.

Ellis Maples, who worked under and learned from Donald Ross, designed the Brook Valley golf course. Brook Valley’s rich history includes an exhibition match between legends Sam Snead and Ben Hogan. Reynolds May - one of the development’s original investors and a promoter - was friendly with many of the world’s best golfers at the time. After helping develop the golf course, he established the Reynolds May Tournament that featured many top professionals. The trophy from that event still resides at the club, bearing names of many great champions - including a young Curtis Strange, who captured the inaugural event at Brook Valley, as well as 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.

Today, Brook Valley’s future appears bright following the club’s 2015 purchase by McConnell Golf. The golf course and practice area were renovated under the tutelage of renowned Greensboro-based golf course architect Kris Spence whose work included bunkering and one green modification (No. 2), along with significant tree removal and the relocation of a number of cart paths. Spence called Brook Valley an “out of the box” design for Maples, mostly due to its intricate cross bunkering.

“We have brought the Ellis Maples bunkering back, as well as adding a few bunkers to modernize the golf course,” Spence says. “Brook Valley is a very nice mix of golf holes with a lot of variety. The par-5s, in particular, are some of the best three-shooters I’ve seen. It’s not long, but it is a great membership golf course.”

The difference is noticeable. PGA Tour professional Will MacKenzie grew up in Greenville and regularly played Brook Valley. “Everyone always said Brook Valley was the best layout in Greenville” says MacKenzie. “It’s definitely got some of the best rolling terrain we have in Greenville. Brook Valley’s golf course was always a step above the others (in the area) in shot quality and feel, how the golf course was routed. But it needed to be restored. McConnell Golf came just in time.”

Watch History Unfold

Don’t leave it to your imagination, catch a smile and wave from Sam Snead and Ben Hogan via YouTube.com/McConnellGolf.

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Experience of a Lifetime

by Jessie Ammons

 Jul 26, 2016 at 6:02 PM

Holston Hills Country Club golf shop manager Tom “Tee-time” Seymour recounts a memorable Masters

One of my bucket list items was to be at a Sunday round in Augusta. I didn’t know I was going until the Tuesday before the Masters - tickets fell into my hands. Our head golf pro, Chris Dibble, encouraged me and assistant golf pro Jordan Fairbank to go. We stayed about two hours away the night before and drove in on Sunday morning. I didn’t sleep at all the night before, not a wink. I was so excited. I’m 55 years old and I’ve played golf since I was five. It’s always been my passion. I grew up watching Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer at Augusta.

On Sunday, we had been following the crowds all day; but right as Jason Day teed off, I decided to go over to hole 16. I got there five minutes before Shane Lowry knocked his hole-in-one in. He hit it exactly where you need to hit it on Sunday in Augusta.

At the time, there were probably only 300-400 people around the hole. It wasn’t super crowded. Of course, by the time Louis Oosthuizen came later, people were going insane. But first Davis Love came up. When he hit his hole-in-one, he hit it behind the hole. Everybody thought it was going to be 10-15 feet away, but the ball stopped for a second and made a U-turn by the water.

Nothing can compare to Louis Oosthuizen hitting his ball off of J.B. Holmes. I almost missed the holein- one because after Oosthuizen hit Holmes, I looked over at Jordan to get his reaction. He screamed at me to look back at Oosthuizen and I saw the last six inches of the ball go into the hole. The crowd was going absolutely crazy.

All I wanted was to hear that roar of a crowd on a Sunday at the Masters, and I got to hear it three times. It was incredible.

What are the odds on this? They’ve got to be in the billions and trillions that there are three hole-in-ones, on the same hole, and I get to see them all because I’m at the Masters on a Sunday. It was almost a religious experience.

The next day at work in Knoxville, it was all Jordan and I could talk about. I’ve probably told the story to every member at the club. I’ve been there 17 years now, and the people at Holston Hills have become my family: It felt like coming home to tell all my brothers and sisters what had happened.

The only thing that would be better than this is if I actually get to play the course one day, which I know is never going to happen.

Although, I never thought I’d get to be at a Sunday round, either — never say never in golf. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. I will definitely try to get down to Augusta again. If I don’t, it’s all good. I just wanted to be there one time for that final round. It was amazing.”

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Proper Impact, A Tip from the Pros

by Kevin Reardon

 Jul 11, 2016 at 7:53 PM

In the first episode of McConnell Golf's "Tips from the Pros" video series, Director of Golf Kevin Reardon and Head Golf Pro Justin Mathers of Providence Country Club explain how to diagnose one of the most common mistakes they routinely see golfers make - not connecting properly with the ball. Watch below as they demonstrate three types of impact and how you can ensure the best possible connection with each and every swing.

Providence Country Club of Charlotte, North Carolina, is the newest of twelve properties owned by McConnell Golf. Reardon joined in 2016 and looks forward to working with the thriving member community as he considers new golf programming in addition to building from the existing club culture of competitive family fun.  

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