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Whitley: 19th Hole: Share your passion for golf in East Texas

March 18, 2017 at 10:52 p.m.

Jayden Randall of Pine Tree tees off on hole ten, on Monday January 30, 2017, during the Spring Hill Invitational Golf Tournament at Wood Hollow Golf Club. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

Monday was first official day of spring and we are proud to have launched our first installment of the 19th Hole on the same day.

As the colder temps give way to a warmer climate, you can expect many a weekend golf enthusiast to take the clubs out of hibernation, dust them off and head to the course.

In less than three weeks, the 81st playing of the Masters, golf's equivalent to the NFL's Super Bowl, commences. With the azaleas in full glory, even the most casual golfer finds it hard to stay indoors when the flowers begin to take bloom. A chance to go out and chase that little white dimpled ball around is all too enticing.

This space is provided as a chance for our local linksters to share their passion. We want to know their stories. Golf is a sport that provides certain independence with limitless opportunity for self reflection. From your scratch golfer, to the eight-handicapper and the plain ol' duffer alike, it's a lifetime sport, availing itself to those of varied degrees of ability.

Golf doesn't have an expiration date, there is no age limit and it's often been said that a bad day on the golf course beats any day at the office.

Golf is a game that challenges a person on so many levels.

As for someone like myself who holds the dubious title of duffer deluxe, I'm reminded of what Will Smith's movie character in "The Legend of Bagger Vance" said: "You don't win golf. You play golf." That, as much as anything else, sums up this dedicated discipline.

There's a certain serendipity involved in the game. You may chili dip an approach shot, lose a tee shot in the woods. If there's water anywhere in the vicinity, promise you I'll be wet. I've found myself playing in the sand more than my eight-year-old daughter.

But for all those wasted shots that left you taking a snowman on a par-4, there's that one golden moment you'll talk about once you get back to the clubhouse.

Was it the perfect tee shot on a par-3 where you hit the flagstick and landed within the leather? Maybe you snaked a 40-foot putt to win the hole? Or is it possible you drove a tee shot far and straight down the middle of the fairway and actually peaked in your wallet for your non-existing tour card?

Whatever it was you did that afternoon, you know you're coming back for more. The game is played out over acres upon acres of well-manicured green grass, surrounded by trees, peppered with sand traps and sprinkled with a water hazard or two.

The views can be breathtaking and East Texas has no shortage of quality golf courses to play and sharpen one's craft.

We want to know about the many weekend warriors, their stories and why they love the game of golf. We're interested in learning everything from weekday and weekend scrambles to club tournaments to the all-elusive hole-in-one.

Maybe a local course has someone who plays every day of year, rain, shine, sleet or snow. Okay, maybe not sleet or snow. But we want to know the unique stories that make golf such a grand game.

We'll be interested to find out if someone shoots under par or even sets a course record. Your club may have the next Jordan Speith or Lexi Thompson and we'd like know about it.

The 19th Hole offers such a platform to report the comings and goings on the links throughout our area. We're interested in weekly scramble results, upcoming club tournaments, any special instructional classes offered — anything else of special significance.

All club information should be reported each Thursday by 5 p.m. in order to be included in the next week's wrap.

Send all scramble results, upcoming special events and story ideas to either gwhitley@news-journal.com or jstallard@news-journal.com.

It's important to note that we can only accept reported scores and other club news from employees of the particular golf establishment. However, anyone who may have a special story to share can submit their ideas for consideration.

Until then, may all your birdies drop and eagles soar.

Look forward to seeing you on the course this spring and always remember to yell "fore."

(Follow George Whitley on Twitter: @GPigskinprof)

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