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Instructional Program First Tee Comes To Westchester

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The First Tee of Metropolitan New York expands its program to the Westchester Golf Range in White Plains this year. The golf instruction program — which also teaches many lessons about life — adds the Westchester location to its home at Mosholu Golf Course in the Bronx, where some 700 kids each year learn not only which end of the club to hold but how to make healthy life choices as well. 

“In the Met area, there’s always been a strong emphasis on junior golf,” according to Metropolitan Golf Association (MGA) Executive Director Jay Mottola. The MGA and the Metropolitan Section of the PGA, along with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, created the program in 2002. 

Programs are open to youngsters from ages 7 to 17, costs (which vary according to the schedule) are minimal, and clubs are provided for kids who don’t have their own. Instruction on how to play the game (along with its rules and etiquette) is combined with lessons in health and wellness, productive conduct, self-management, and interpersonal communications. For more information, visit www.thefirstteemetny.org.

Fred Couples and Nancy Lopez Headline Dinner

Fred Couples, owner of one of golf’s smoothest swings, receives one of the game’s most prestigious honors, the Gold Tee Award, from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at the 63rd National Awards Dinner on Monday, June 23, at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown. The Gold Tee is awarded to an individual whose career achievements exemplify the best spirit and traditions of the sport of golf.

Couples, winner of the 1992 Masters, won 15 times on the PGA Tour, including two Players Championships. Last year, he captained the U.S. team to its third straight victory in the President’s Cup. Couples was named PGA Tour Player of the Year twice, and competed on five consecutive Ryder Cup teams (1989-97).

As a winner of the Gold Tee Award, Couples will be in select company. Among the luminaries of the game who received the honor in the past are Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez, Tom Watson, Annika Sorenstam, and Phil Mickelson.

Lopez, a star of the LPGA, joins Couples at the annual awards dinner. She is this year’s recipient of the association’s Winnie Palmer Award, named in honor of the deceased wife of golf legend Arnold Palmer, who devoted much of her life to charity work for literacy programs and health care. When told that Lopez would receive the award, Arnold Palmer said, “What a great choice! Nancy fits the description of the award perfectly. Winnie would be pleased.”

For the past 33 years, Lopez has hosted an annual golf tournament to benefit AIM (Adventures In Movement) for the Handicapped. Based in Ohio, AIM helps those who are mentally challenged, physically handicapped, or have special needs. The organization is noted for never charging for its services to handicapped children, and never turning a child away. Lopez is chairman and a national ambassador for AIM.

The MGWA National Awards Dinner has raised more than $1.5 million for caddie scholarship programs in the metropolitan New York area, the MGA Foundation, and the Dave Marr Memorial Scholarship for sports journalism at Columbia University.

Pound Ridge Upgrades Clubhouse

Pound Ridge Golf Club spent the winter spiffing up its clubhouse to bring the indoor amenities closer to the standards set by the demanding Pete Dye-designed golf course. The main building was expanded to provide permanent bathrooms, a full-service kitchen with new equipment, and men’s and women’s showers and small locker rooms. The breezeway between the building and the temporary structure was also enclosed. 

Floor, ceiling, and window frame moldings; chair rails; and other fixtures, features, and equipment were added, too, in an effort to give the facility a more finished look. Golfers now have the choice of relaxing in the refreshed interior or outdoors on one of Pound Ridge’s two alfresco seating and gathering areas.

“The end result is a significantly more appealing and single, integrated structure,” says Pound Ridge owner Ken Wang. “This is part of our long-term plan to provide facilities and amenities commensurate with the quality of the golf course.”

According to Wang, Pound Ridge’s clientele includes a large number of “business golfers” who are looking for a place to freshen up after their round. “Having a comfortable spot to grab a quick shower, change of clothes, and a bite to eat, perhaps before returning to the office or an evening function, is important,” adds Wang. “The layout is also very walkable, and those who carry or pull their clubs will appreciate the option of freshening up post-round.”

Westchester CC Looks Ahead

Plans for a proposed multiyear project to rejuvenate Westchester Country Club’s two 18-hole courses and expand the club’s teaching facilities got underway at the end of last season. The first step, a major investment in golf learning, broke ground in the fall. It includes reshaping the range to improve visibility; the expansion of the short game area; and building a new year-round teaching studio with five enclosed hitting stations, plus club fitting and other amenities.

Also on the drawing board are major changes to both courses. The West Course may be lengthened from its current 6,980 yards, and four holes may see new tees and/or green complexes. The South Course is slated for wider fairways and repositioned bunkers to improve playability for less skilled players and longer hitters. 

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