Taking that first 2013 look into the wonderful world of golf

A month ago we were all wondering if spring would ever arrive. Over the last two weeks we have reaped the joy of watching Mother Nature do her thing. The weather has been awesome and that can only mean it’s time to break out the clubs and head to the links.

Yes, the bowling season is finally over and that means this writer’s attention will turn to the game of golf. Though the golf season has just begun in our neck of the woods, it has been going on for a while now in other parts of the world. In this column I will take a look at golf on the PGA Tour as well as catching up on some local news.

Let’s start with some changes that have area golfers chirping and not just about birdies. New ownership has come to two local golf courses in 2013 and following an ownership change two years ago at Seneca Hills Golf Club golfers cannot help but wonder what changes might be in store for both the Fostoria Country Club and Loudon Meadows Golf Course.

Golfers are aware of the myriad of changes Bobby Pollitt has brought to Seneca Hills. They have been met with overwhelming praise and are continuing to be made. If you have not been to Seneca Hills lately, by all means take in a round of golf there and see what the buzz is all about.

Two local men have purchased Fostoria Country Club and are in the process of trying to bring the facility back to preeminence. FCC was built in 1916 and the 100th anniversary is coming up soon. Larry Downing and Andy Clouse have already made some noticeable improvements and will continue to do so. The landmark celebration in three years should be quite an event.

A deck has been added to the clubhouse, which has also undergone refurbishing. The course is in excellent shape and though the new owners want to restore the facility to past glory, they will not go back to country club status. All area golfers will have a chance to play this outstanding track.

At Loudon Meadows, Bob Maurer is retiring after a lengthy career in the golf course business. Bob and wife Linda will be missed, but any time a new owner comes on board, golfers take notice. Tom Young and Brad Miller, who own Birch Run near North Baltimore, have added Loudon to their portfolio.

The clubhouse at Loudon Meadows has been remodeled. The course, which has always been in great shape under the care of groundskeeper Keith Scaife, is still considered one of the best kept secrets in northwest Ohio. There is a rumor that No. 10 may see a major change. One of the toughest holes in the area, the green is likely to be moved down off the hill, which should make the hole considerably easier.

For those golfers who have recorded double digit scores on the par-5 (yes, that would include me) that will be a welcome change.

On the PGA Tour, a golfer named Tiger has made a lot of news this season. From recording four victories, to illegal drops, to a controversy with Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods has been a lightning rod for golf fans that are news hungry. Tiger also has found a new girlfriend, former Olympic skier Lindsay Vonn.

If I could give Tiger some advice about the last issue – and I will – I would suggest that he not allow her to teach him to ski. Seriously, where did you think I was going with that?

As for his drop at the Masters, it was illegal. Did he do it knowing that it was wrong? I don’t know. Was the committee’s ruling to assess him a two stroke penalty but not disqualify him legit? Yes. That was the purpose of the new rule.

Golf has a number of obscure rules. Players cannot possibly know them all. The penalty of disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard when the player didn’t even know he violated a rule has always been too severe in my estimation. Just ask Craig Stadler (got it right this time, Marie) about the towel incident in San Diego.

As for his four wins, I think you can say without reservation that Tiger is back. He is healthy, he is playing well and that is good for the game of golf whether you are a Tiger fan or not. As for his little incident with Sergio, I wish he would have just apologized for the distraction. Whether a marshal told him that Sergio had already hit or not, Tiger’s action caused the crowd to react while Garcia was still in the process of hitting his ball. Most golfers would have apologized even if they felt they had not done anything wrong. Then again, Tiger is not like most golfers.

Finally, let’s go back to the local golf scene. New Riegel’s Steve Lauer aced the par-3 No. 16 at Fostoria Country Club last week. I ran into him at the same venue the next day and asked him if the hole-in-one was his first.

Lauer looked down at his hands and started counting digits. First one hand and then halfway through the other, before he looked up with a smile and said “Yep, it’s the first!”

Leave it to Steve to add a little humor to the conversation. Nonetheless, congratulations Steve on your accomplishment as many golfers have not experienced the feeling that goes with a hole-in-one. Most of us that do have an ace only have the one.

My guess is that more accomplishments will be forthcoming as the 2013 golf season begins in earnest.

Al Stephenson is The Advertiser-Tribune’s golf columnist.

Read his blog at: