Awards (2001 Edition): Not Just Another Tin Statue!
WILLIAMSBURG, VA - I think it's safe to say people are sick of awards. Not getting 'em, of course, but seeing awards-ceremonies on TV. Essentially, such shows feature a collection of largely over-exposed stars, wearing all the latest outlandish fashions--gathered together to celebrate themselves. Talk about narcissism, this is idolatry at its highest. No wonder the tabloids swarm over them like sharks at a feeding frenzy.
At the same time, awards are essential for recognizing hard work and exceptional performance. If you win a championship, you should get a trophy. If you write a memorable screenplay, you should get an Oscar. I've got no problem whatsoever with awarding large silver cups or gold statues for triumphing over your peers in an even contest. Competition is good.
So I'm stuck in between despising awards shows and appreciating those who win. Therefore, I think I'll do something a little different with my 'awards' for OldDominionGolf.com's best of 2001 'show.' I'm not going to give a top-10 list, a bronze statuette or a blue ribbon. And I won't seek a major television sponsor.
I also realize I'm leaving out tons of people I've met in ODG.com's first full season. I'll do my best to give attribution to a good portion of the great folks I've met and talked with in the last year-and there are many!
For those who aren't on the list, I apologize. Think of it as an acceptance speech at the Oscars-if I tried to thank everyone, the show would last four hours and fifty minutes instead of four hours and twenty minutes. And this article would be 5,000 words long instead of 1,700. I'll also note that the places I visited in 2000 are ineligible for this list, too, since I'm trying to highlight 2001. I'm going to try and revisit some of the outstanding places from 2000, so you'll get your chance in 2002!
Confused? I'm not even taking nominations, have no set categories and my vote solely determines the winners. Autocracy defined. At least you'll know who to send the complaints to. Let's begin!
The Winner For 'Best Editor': Doug Carey. I couldn't possibly have an awards show for ODG.com without thanking the man behind the scenes who does an incredible job molding what I give him into a product that's not only presentable, but looks pretty darn good, too. Doug not only lends his magic to OldDominionGolf.com, he handles the content for the entire TravelGolf.com system. He's a 'star' and a champion at the same time-and is the big secret behind our success.
The Winner For 'Good Guy of Virginia Golf': Cliff Holtzclaw.
Cliff's in charge of golf for the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and I had the pleasure of playing a couple rounds with him in 2001, as well as trading numerous phone calls on the best ways to promote Virginia Golf. I'm not the only one who thinks highly of him, either-I've heard an awful lot of praise for Cliff's work from folks I've talked with, and through Cliff's efforts, Virginia will be even more known as a first-rate golf destination.
Honorable mention goes to Kevin Gaydosh at the Meridian Group, which represents Kingsmill Resort and Bay Creek. Kevin's been extremely helpful in setting up visits to the aforementioned golf destinations, as well as showing me the ropes at the Michelob Championship (taking place on Kingsmill's excellent River Course). He's a first-class professional through and through-and a 'good guy,' too.
I'd also like to thank Jeff Rouse in Stafford County for his help on setting up dates at some of his courses. Definitely a 'good guy' to call on in a pinch.
Women are eligible for the 'good guy' category, too, so I'd also like to thank Betsy Harrison for doing a stand-up job in arranging our Virginia Beach visit, and Sharon Freeman for her continually solid advice on Prince William County golf and public relations in general. Breaking my own rules, I'd like to honor Kendall Nelson from Wintergreen Resort, which I visited in September of 2000-she was a constant supporter of OldDominionGolf.com in 2001, which makes her eligible for this award!
The Winner For 'Most Articulate Head Golf Professional': Carey Hodsden at Bay Creek. I always seek to include comments from the 'people in the know' at the courses/resorts I review, and I'd say the 'standard' interview takes about fifteen minutes. Well, Hodsden's took about 45 minutes, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Carey is one guy who loves where he works, and speaks eloquently about it!
The Winner For 'Best Director of Golf': Tie--Don Ryder and Glen Byrnes. There's no way to give this award to just one person, and realistically, I'd have about ten people to name for this category. But it wouldn't be an 'award' if I wrote out a list!
Don hosted us on our visit to The Homestead in June, told us numerous Sam Snead stories at dinner, and tolerated some poor play for a round at The Lower Cascades. There aren't many Directors of Golf who'll be more than happy to roll up their sleeves and go in after lost golf balls, but Don's one of them-and one of the reasons why The Homestead's Cascades Course is ranked number one in Virginia on many publications' lists.
Glen Byrnes helped set up my review of The Golf Digest Schools at The Golden Horseshoe in July-and has been one of OldDominionGolf.com's staunchest supporters since I started the publication back in August of 2000. There are several other folks at the GH and Colonial Williamsburg that have also been instrumental in arranging visits and making sure our needs were taken care of. It's no secret why The Golden Horseshoe rates as one of Golf Magazine's Gold Medal resorts. Simply outstanding.
The Winner For 'Best Ownership Group': The Birneys of Atlantic Golf Fame. We travel north to Maryland for this award. It's hard to name just one owner or ownership group for this category, but I'd have to say the Birneys deserve special mention because of the glowing way their employees speak of them, as well as their outstanding reputation for ensuring the best golf experience possible for their patrons. Even Brian Ault noted their contributions to golf in Maryland.
Honorable mention goes to Dick Foster of Baymark Construction, for giving Virginia golf Bay Creek and The Signature at West Neck (which we'll visit in a few months). Foster doesn't even play golf, but he sure knows what it takes to build first-rate golf courses and facilities-and provide them for an incredibly reasonable price.
Ed Seay, Palmer's longtime design partner, adds, "Bay Creek's site was unusual for a couple reasons. First, because it's got a seaside location, which is extremely difficult to find these days--due to extensive development of prime coastal areas. Second, it gave us some natural sand dunes to work with—and placing golf holes in between the natural dunes is, to me, the most ideal site in the world."
Further mention goes to ClubCorp and the Pinehurst group, owners and operators of The Homestead. It's hard to find enough hyperbolic language to describe the job they're doing in restoring some of the country's finest classic resorts. Kudos as well for retaining John Kelly at The Glickman Group-a 'good guy' who was exceedingly helpful in arranging several things for us.
The Winner For 'Best Course Architect For the Mid-Atlantic Region': Ault, Clark & Associates. AC&A is the mid-Atlantic's 'home team' course design firm, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing a great deal of their work in 2001. I'd also have to say that Tom Clark, Brian Ault and Eric Ault were serious contenders for the 'good guy' award, too, but we do like to spread things around a little!
Honorable mention goes to Palmer Course Design. Several gentlemen at Palmer Course Design were instrumental in writing up solid treatments of Palmer courses in Virginia, and elsewhere. Speaking specifically of Ed Seay, Erik Larsen and Harrison Minchew, with an 'assist' given to Liz McCarthy for her professionalism and enthusiasm, and Ron Howell for his good sense of humor. They all certainly espouse the 'ambassador of golf' image radiating from their firm's founder.
The Winner For 'Best Newcomer in Virginia': Bay Creek Golf Club. Simply put, Bay Creek is destined for greatness. It's one of the few courses I would say is definitely worth paying a $10 toll (each way) to reach, which you'll have to shell out in order to get to Cape Charles on the eastern shore. As Carey Hodsden (Most Articulate) said, 'Bay Creek is the quite literally the perfect blend of nature, beauty, playability and challenge in golf.' That about sums it up.
Honorable mention goes to Independence Golf Club in Midlothian, Stonewall Golf Club on Lake Manassas, and Brickshire near Williamsburg. All show tremendous potential for blossoming into exceptional layouts in Virginia.
The Winner For 'Best 'Foreign' Course' (for those not in Virginia): Bulle Rock. Strange category, but we can't have an awards show without including some 'foreign' winners, right? Seeing as we're going to be including a lot more Maryland content on OldDominionGolf.com this year, this might be just a one-time category.
Bulle Rock deserves all that's been said about it. Not really a lot more to say-it's even a good value at $140, the most expensive daily fee in the region.
Honorable mention goes to Whiskey Creek (which photographer Jeff Janas says is his 'favorite' course) and Worthington Manor. One of the reasons why we're looking to expand our Maryland content for next year is because the courses up there are outstanding. I haven't seen a bad one yet in Maryland-beautiful country, outstanding golf.
Our final category: The Winner For 'Best Kept Secret': Keswick Hall I'd never even heard of Keswick until it was suggested by a fellow travel writer. If there was ever a place to go for a few days of the ultimate un-crowded luxurious relaxation, this is it. Its close proximity to Jefferson's Monticello doesn't hurt, either, because I love visiting such an American landmark.
Honorable mention goes to Ford's Colony, the TPC at Virginia Beach (not nearly well known enough) and the 'new' Traditional Golf Clubs (formerly the Legends group, but under new management, more reasonably priced and committed to making these courses more playable and enjoyable).
Thus concludes my OldDominionGolf.com 2001 awards 'show.' Once again, I'm at a loss to mention everyone who's meant so much to what we did last year, and I apologize to those who were 'left off' this 'show.' The fact is, there are so many great people and places to visit in this region that it's not possible to mention them all in one 'show.' But that's one of the best things about having OldDominionGolf.com and its archives-there's 'honorable mention' found throughout.
Here's a hearty thanks for all who did so much in 2001 to make OldDominionGolf.com what it is-Virginia's Golf Authority!
January 14, 2002