The Ruth Park Driving Range in University City opened earlier this month. Located just minutes from downtown Clayton off Old Bonhomme Road, the facility offers unprecedented convenience for area players. High school golf coaches and teams are excited with the new practice facility, too. Twenty-five hitting stations overlook a rolling terrain with target greens and bunkers. For evening practice, state-of-the-art lights, both on the ground and in the air, allow perfect view of the ball flight while casting minimal dispersion of lumens to surrounding footage outside the active range area. Automated ball dispensing accommodates cash, tokens and e-cards that may be loaded and renewed. Professional instruction is available for all skill levels.
The driving range was funded primarily through a grant from the Municipal Park Commission, with additional financing from the City of University City, the City of Clayton, and the Woods Foundation. In recognition of Clayton’s collaboration, Clayton golfers enjoy resident rates at the Ruth Park Golf Course. Facility design was handled by the renowned golf course architectural firm Hurzden Fry of Columbus, Ohio.
The competitive golf season has wound down, and Skip Berkmeyer demonstated yet again why he is consistently one of the top amateurs in the region. At River Hills, Wis., Berkmeyer earned the top match-play spot in the U.S. Mid-Amateur, shooting a 1-over 71 at Milwaukee Country Club for a one-stroke victory over Tim Mickelson in stroke-play qualifying. He finished first in the stroke-play portion with 264 golfers. Berkmeyer, who lives in Ballwin, had a 2-under 138 total.
“I’ve played well all summer, and I’m pretty pleased,” 34-year-old Berkmeyer said. “My game has gotten better as I’ve gotten older. I feel now like I belong and I’m more comfortable out here.” Berkmeyer defeated Dan Horner of Sandy, Utah, 3 and 2 in his opening match. However, he lost his second-round match. Chris Lange, 53, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., eliminated Berkmeyer 1-up. Lange was the oldest player in the field.
54th USGA Senior Amateur Championship
Chesterfield’s Don Bliss, 57, shot a 148 in stroke play in the senior amateur tournament at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth. The course played to 6,597 yards and was a par 71. Kirkwood’s David Lucks missed the cut with a two-round score of 160. The cut was 154. Bliss, a four-time Missouri Amateur champion and winner of many other tournaments, lost in the first round of match play. Stephen Bell, of Denver, Colo., topped Bliss 6 and 4. Bliss serves as executive director of the Gateway PGA.
Senior Amateur Championships
Scott Thomas swept both of the top senior events. The Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association concluded its regular tournament season with the playing of the 16th Metropolitan Senior Amateur at Norwood Hills Country Club. Thomas, who turned 50 last November, won the championship with a two-round score of 135 to best runner-up Darrel Huisinga of Aberdeen Golf Club by eight strokes for the George F. Meyer Memorial Trophy. His victory at his former home course marked the first time in his long career that he has won a Metropolitan Association championship.
Thomas now plays out of Meadowbrook Country Club. The win also secured the 2008 Metropolitan Senior Player of the Year honors for Thomas. Other flight winners included: Age 50-54: Gross: Clinton Hill’s Bob Suarez; Net: Gateway National’s John Schranck; 55-59: Gross: Far Oaks’ Randy Gibbs; Net: Aberdeen’s Ron Lipovsky; 60-64: Gross: Normandie’s Dave Lough; Net: Normandie’s John Purdy; 65 and up: Gross: Country Club of Legends’ Don Dupske; Net: Four Seasons’ Andy Shanfeld. Boone Valley’s Jim Holtgrieve was the event’s defending champion. In the Misssouri Golf Association’s Senior Amateur Championship at Old Warson Country Club, Thomas also finished first. Thomas won by a stroke over Dee Sanders of Columbia. Thomas shot a 144 to finish 2-over for the championship.
College men’s golf
Illinois sophomore Scott Langley finished fourth in the Fighting Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields, Ill. In a line-up filled with national contenders, the Illini bettered the field, which consisted of three of the top five teams in the country and seven ranked teams in all, by 11 strokes to capture the tournament title. Langley (74-70-67) joined the birdie parade with five in his first 10 holes and finished fourth individually at 1 over (211). Langley is a graduate of Parkway South.
College women’s golf
Missouri State freshman Catherine Dolan recently was named Missouri Valley Conference Golfer of the Week. She finished eighth at the Johnie Imes Invitational in Columbia, Mo. Dolan fired 75-74-73—222 to record her second top 10 finish in as many collegiate tournaments; she finished third in the season-opening MSU/Payne Stewart Memorial. The Ballwin, Mo., native led the Bears to an 11th-place finish in the 18-team tournament, which included several highly rated regional opponents and 90 players at The Club at Old Hawthorne. Dolan is off to quite a start in her first season, averaging 73.8 in her first five collegiate rounds. She also recorded her first career hole-in-one during the practice round, a 4-iron shot on the 168-yard second hole.
The St. Louis Country Club Ladies won The Gross Division Team finals for the St. Louis Women’s District Golf Association. They defeated St. Albans on the 19th hole of the deciding match at Glen Echo Country Club. St. Clair Country Club defeated Westborough Country Club in the Net division. The St. Louis Country Club team consisted of Ginny Orthwein, Allison Engelsmann, Linda Whitelaw, Peggy Behan, Abby Giles and Sally Johnston. The St. Clair Ladies team was Barb Constance, Kathie Renner, Carol Christiansen, Missy Riley, Judy Whitehead and Terry Kastner.
Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association banquet
The annual banquet to look back on 2008 will be held Nov. 13 at Old Warson Country Club. The cost is $55. The honorees are: Skip Berkmeyer (Player of the Year); Scott Thomas (Senior Player of the Year); Chelsea Schriewer (Women’s Player of the Year); and Barbara Berkmeyer (Senior Women’s Player of the Year). In addition, the association also will recognize the Junior Cup team. Some new awards handed out this year are Round of the Year, Shot of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year, which will be conducted by an online vote at www.metga.org.
Well, the spring and summer are now memories and so is this year’s golf column. We’ll return in April. Keep hitting the ball straight until we meet again.