Love: Iron Masters event still thriving

One of the best run ladies’ golf events in the state will be held on Monday and Tuesday at Iron Masters Country Club.

The 19th annual Iron Masters Ladies Classic utilizes a two-person, best-ball format over two days to determine its champions. Barb Pagana and Patty Lang, from Selinsgrove and Meadville respectively, are returning as defending champs, having won during four of the past five years.

Over the years, ladies tournaments across the state have had a tough time attracting full fields, but that is definitely not the case with this wildly successful ladies event.

For many years now, the Iron Masters Ladies Classic has been filled to capacity – 108 teams, with five full flights. The event has even had a waiting list for hopeful entrants over the past several years.

No question, the reason for the tournament’s success lies with the tireless work of Iron Masters member Gwen Paden and fellow original committee members Patti Dodson and Deb Showalter. Iron Masters head pro Tom Koehle has also been very instrumental in raising the caliber of this event.

Interested spectators are welcome to watch some of the best women amateur golfers in Pennsylvania compete next week. Play begins at 9 a.m. on Monday and 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Passion lacking?

Tiger Woods’ return to golf a couple of weeks ago – at the Quicken Loans National – ended with a decided thud. The 14-time major champion winner missed the cut for only the 10th time in his 299 career PGA Tour starts.

As Woods continues to prepare for this year’s British Open, which begins next week, I felt sure he would enter at least one other event – just to get some additional tournament play before competing in golf’s oldest championship.

This week’s Scottish Open seemed like the perfect event for Woods to enter. Many tour stars use this tourney as a tune-up for the links-style golf played at Open championships. Woods, however, has declined to play in any additional events – deciding instead to practice in seclusion, as he often does.

Woods’ former swing coach, Hank Haney, made quite a bold statement about his former pupil earlier this week in an interview with golf writer John Huggin of the Scottish daily, The Scotsman.

“That he isn’t going to play competitively in the two weeks running up to the Open speaks to the fact that he doesn’t care as much as he used to,” Haney said.

Sinking Valley kudos

The 43rd annual Sinking Valley Classic begins today at the scenic Tyrone-area course.

This three-day tournament is always well-run, and no less is expected from this year’s tournament committee, and head pro Troy Monahan.

While the most talked about subject at any course is the condition of the course’s greens, tees and fairways, an often overlooked area is a club’s practice facility.

Without a doubt, Sinking Valley Country Club has one of the best driving ranges and practice facilities in central Pennsylvania. Its practice area includes a pristinely manicured practice tee, chipping green and practice bunkers – perfect for any serious golfer who wants to work on his game.

Kudos to Sinking Valley, and the club’s grounds crew for creating such a fantastic practice facility.

Touch of class

Last week’s PGA Tour stop was held at the Green Briar, West Virginia’s historic resort complex.

The tournament has become a favorite among PGA Tour stars in recent years due to the generosity of resort owner Jim Justice, who lavishes tour players and their families with extravagant parties and other perks during tournament week.

Last week fans at the tournament were treated to some of this same generosity – a tournament promotion was conducted that promised a gift to all fans if a player aced the par-3 closing hole.

On Sunday, PGA Tour player Bud Cauley stepped to the tee and used a 7-iron to knock his ball into the cup. Cauley’s hole-in-one helped him cap off a strong finish, for a 6-under-par score of 64.

More importantly to the thousands of excited fans who witnessed Cauley’s ace: Each member of the gallery was given a cool $100.

Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. His columns runs on Fridays.