Sports

TPC EAGLE TRACE …… A CLUBLINK ACQUISITION

TPC EAGLE TRACE …… A CLUBLINK ACQUISITION

By Brian Weidenbacher

With the acquisition of TPC Eagle Trace, ClubLink has definitely set itself apart as the premier golf organization in South Florida.  With Eagle Trace in the fold, ClubLink now has a total of twelve 18-hole championship courses, and two 18-hole equivalent academy courses in the state of Florida.

In the Fort Lauderdale area, in addition to TPC Eagle Trace, ClubLink owns the 54-hole Palm Aire Country Club, the 36-hole Woodlands Country Club and Heron Bay.  ClubLink now owns or operates 53.5 18-hole championship, and six 18-hole equivalent academy courses in Florida, Ontario, and Quebec.  “The acquisition of this prestigious golf club demonstrates our commitment to providing our more than 20,000 members, the opportunity to truly experience our One Membership, More Golf theme”, said ClubLink President and CEO Rai Sahi.  “Since our founding in 1993, that has been our unique business model and one that continues to be very successful”, added Sahi.

Opened in 1983 as the first member-based club in the PGA Tour’s Tournament Players Club network, TPC Eagle Trace is a great, challenging golf course, designed by the renowned architect Arthur Hills.  It became only the second TPC in existence, following the establishment of TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship.  Home of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic for nine years, Eagle Trace is the centerpiece of a luxury gated community of approximately 900 homes.  Members in the “ClubLink family” will now have an even wider array of courses to choose from in South Florida, all within 30 minutes of each other in North Broward County.  ClubLink Members will now be afforded the luxury to play one of the finest courses available in the network.

ClubLink Members and guests will find six sets of tees that will certainly challenge their games.  From the Championship Tees, the course plays to more than 7,000 yards, while the most forward tees measure a little over 5,100 yards.  “TPC Eagle Trace is truly one of the best tests of golf I have ever played”, said Derek Fox, Head Golf Professional and Interim General Manager.  ‘We have Members who have played here for 30 years and never get tired of the challenge”, Fox added.  The layout has some unique characteristics for a Florida golf course, including an island green, and three greens surrounded by wooden bulkheads.  Not one palm tree can be found on the property, which is a rarity in South Florida.

“All four of the Par 3’s require precise tee shots as water and bunkers protect each green”.  The 13th hole is our signature Par 4, demanding a well-struck tee shot to find the fairway.  Out of bounds and water protect both boundaries of the hole.  The Par 4 18th is perhaps the best finishing hole in Broward Country, as it can be stretched to 470 yards”, said Fox.

Fox also made it a point to explain that while the PGA Tour is not part of the yearly schedule at Eagle Trace, “the golf course has stood the test of time as it currently plays host to the Champions Tour Q-School Final Stage every other year”.

Located east of the Sawgrass expressway in Western Broward County, Eagle Trace is easily accessible from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.   Whether a novice, or tour-caliber player, Eagle Trace is a golf course that offers every player a golf experience that will not soon be forgotten.   ClubLink’s unique membership program has many different opportunities and price ranges to fit everyone’s budget.  ClubLink ….. “One Membership, More Golf”.

THE HAMMERHEADS

THE HAMMERHEADS …… JUPITER’S BOYS OF SUMMER

By Brian Weidenbacher

If you would like to spend a day, or night, watching great baseball, I strongly urge you to take a drive up to Jupiter and catch a Jupiter Hammerheads game at Roger Dean Stadium.  Set in a beautiful, spacious stadium that captures the essence of minor league baseball, the Jupiter-based Hammerheads are the Florida State League’s affiliate of the Miami Marlins.  The talent is plentiful, and the games are exciting …..  young, enthusiastic athletes hoping for that celebrated day when they get called up to “the Show”.   Hopes, dreams, and heart, along with talent, will hopefully get them to that next level.  It all starts in the minor leagues for these “boys of summer”.

As we sat behind home plate on a beautiful Saturday evening with my belly full of Louisiana crawfish,  I thought about how lucky these talented kids were to be playing the great game of baseball, and getting paid to do it.

After missing the playoffs last season with a dismal 68-69 record, this 2014 version of the Hammerheads promises fans a different scenario.  This season’s team begins the year with an abundance of prospects.  The most significant name to watch is third baseman Colin Moran, the top pick of the Miami Marlins from 2013.  The sixth overall player chosen in last year’s draft out of the University of North Carolina, Moran has all the tools to be with the parent team in 2015.  Moran batted .299 last season with Greensboro, and was quickly called up to Jupiter after that stellar campaign.  He’s a base hit away from joining the Marlins.  He’ll have to prove himself to the Marlins’ front office, but that seems to be a mere formality.

Outfielders Jesus Solorzano and Viosergy Rosa patrol two of the outfield spots for the Hammerheads. Solorzano, Miami’s 11th best prospect according to MLB.com  stole 33 bases last season for Greensboro.  He was only caught four times.  Rosa, also with Greensboro last season, slammed 23 home runs, the second most dingers among all Miami minor leaguers.

Pitcher Colby Suggs returns to the Hammerheads after spending part of 2013 with the Marlins.  His fastball is clocked between 94-96 MPH, and can lift it to 98 MPH when needed.  Trevor Williams, a second round pick in the 2013 draft by Miami out of Arizona State adds depth to a strong pitching staff.  Former major league catcher Brian Schneider takes over as the manager of the Hammerheads.  A 13-year veteran, Schneider knows the intricacies that help bring out additional talent to an already talented player.  The team has a very a great schedule that runs through August, including “promotional” game nights that create excitement and fun for the entire family.  For information about the Jupiter Hammerheads, and the “Great 8” promotional games on the schedule, just call 561-775-1818, or visit the website at www.RogerDeanStadium.com.  Hammerheads baseball …….

 

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Sports Nostalgia… Heroes, Legends, And Controversy

By Brian Weidenbacher

sports backgroundMany individuals argue politics and religion on a daily basis. People awake in the morning to a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee, a newspaper full of political and religious stories, and television commentary laden with additional political dealings. Everyone has different beliefs on many levels. If everyone liked chocolate ice cream, Baskin and Robbins, with their “31 Flavors”, would be out of luck.

The only true American thing to argue about, or should I say disagree on, is sports! All males relish delivering their view on the greatest players, teams, catches, or any controversial issue in any of the major sports.  Controversy keeps sports in our daily conversations, especially comparing today’s athletes to players from my generation and before. It’s Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays versus Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. The “clean” athlete, that set their records on hotdogs, alcohol, clean living (Mays and Aaron), and pure talent, against the “contaminated” players that juiced their way to breaking not only records, but the hearts of their adoring fans.

While wondering, “What ever became of David Clyde”; here are my humble opinions as to those I consider the best athletes at certain “talents” in the major sports… Cheaters not included.

GREATEST RUNNING BACK IN NFL HISTORY

…..Jim Brown.  Retired at the age of 29 as the leading rusher in the Nation Football League. Highest yards gained per carry (5.2) than any other running back in the HOF. He never missed a game, or took himself out after a long run, and never ran out of bounds to avoid contact. When it was third  and two, the opposing defense, and every person in attendance at the game, knew number 32 was getting the ball… and they still couldn’t stop him!

GREATEST MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER…..

Being a Mickey Mantle fan, this one stings a little….. Willie Mays. There may have been better hitters, better outfielders, and better runners, but Willie did all of it better than anyone!

GREATEST MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL “PURE” HITTER …..

Ted Williams. Nothing else has to be said concerning this selection.

GREATEST “THROWING” QUARTERBACK IN NFL HISTORY ….. Tom Brady. I have never witnessed an “average quarterback at best” come out of college, and mature into the type of quarterback he has become. He possesses the finest mechanics of anyone at the position since Joe Namath.

GREATEST ALL-AROUND NBA PLAYER …..

Michael Jordan. It’s tough to go against this choice.

GREATEST “SHOWMAN” IN NBA HISTORY …..

“Pistol” Pete Maravich. This guy was in a class by himself. He was a pure magician with a basketball.

GREATEST HOCKEY PLAYER …..

Wayne Gretzky. Hard to select someone better than “The Great One”. 

GREATEST NFL RECEIVER …..

Jerry Rice. Great receivers are a dime a dozen in professional football, but this wide-out separated himself from all of the competition.

GREATEST NFL GAME OF ALL-TIME ….. 1959 Championship Game between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts. This one, single game showcased the NFL with the first ever over-time game. 

GREATEST GOLFER OF ALL TIME …..

Jack Nicklaus. This gentleman has 18 Major victories, and 19 second places finishes in a span of 25 years. He was humble in victory, and gracious in defeat. Not a bad person for anyone’s children, and grandchildren, to emulate on a golf course.

GREATEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER …..

Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal is a very close second. 

GREATEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER …..

Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams. I would hate to have to live on the difference between these two great players.

GREATEST SOCCER PLAYER …..

Pele. He brought notoriety to the sport, creating legends of fans (Americans) that would have never watched a game of “futbol” in the United States if not for him.

GREATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACH …..

Paul W. Bryant. *

GREATEST PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL COACH …..

Vince Lombardi. *

*Both of these selections need no further comments.

Well, that’s my list, and I’m sticking to it. The strength of my opinions, hopefully, does not exceed my knowledge on the subject. My opinions are my symptoms. Disagreements on any, or all of the above selections, are welcome. It’s sports ….. the paramount thing to disagree about!

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College Football And The Bowl Championship Series

 

By Brian Weidenbacher

 

nick sabanThere’s nothing better than hearing men, and ladies for that matter, argue about their favorite college football team and how the BCS should have their team ranked higher in the polls. For the past 15 years, the Bowl Championship Series has reigned supreme in the selection of ranking teams, and dictating their positions, and in some cases, the bowl games they participate in. All this ends next season… the BCS format will be replaced by the College Football Playoff in 2014. Plans are still being ironed out, but basically, the top 4 teams in the rankings will compete in a playoff format to determine the National Champions. College football is the only inter-collegiate sport that does not have a “playoff” system in place.

The BCS, whether applauded or criticized, was the best formula used since the inception of the “rankings polls”. Formerly, the UPI Poll (coaches) and the AP Poll (sports writers), were the governing masters of the rankings. These two extremely different polls were so incredibly diverse, that on various occasions, named different teams “National Champions”. The Coaches Poll (UPI) is sprinkled with coaches that have prejudices and distastes for certain colleges, or coaches, that flaw their votes. The Associated Press (sports writers) is just absurd. This group is composed mostly of individuals that have never played the game, and probably have only worn an athletic supporter to go swimming, and that’s in waist-deep water. These characters know as much about football as I know about nuclear physics.

Case in point… In 1966, Alabama was coming off consecutive National Championships, looking for three in a row. This fete had never been accomplished. The team was ranked pre-season No. 1 in both polls. That season, Alabama went undefeated, and buried a great Nebraska team 34-7 in the Sugar Bowl. For their efforts, the Crimson Tide finished THIRD behind Notre Dame and Michigan State. The Irish and Spartans played against one another during the regular season and played to a 10-10 tie.  To add insult to injury, neither team engaged in a bowl game that year.  The UPI and AP split their vote, and Alabama was left out in the cold.  Oh well, kiss that ring good-bye…

Then there’s the Computer Rankings… Now you’re insulting my intelligence. A computer knows only the information that someone feeds it. Injuries, “team letdowns”, complications a certain star athlete is going through, girlfriend problems, school grades or exams, trends, and numerous other difficulties are never taken into consideration.

Now it seems that every major publication has gotten into the “Rankings War”.  Last season, before any games were played, ESPN ranked Southern Cal as the top team.  In their pre-season magazine, the question was posed, “Do you think USC is the best team in the nation”?  NO GAMES HAVE BEEN PLAYED, how would anyone know?  Ah, the excitement od college football ….. hype, hope, and hoopla, nothing better!

NO system will ever be without flaw, but I think I have the perfect solution to this timeless dilemma. This will definitely never happen in my lifetime, but it makes the most sense of all. In my humble opinion, there is only one group of individuals that should be the determining factor in the selection of the college rankings… the Las Vegas odds makers. Think about it for a second. These guys know more about the teams than the coaches do. It’s their livelihood. It’s their business to know EVERYTHING about the players, coaches, injuries, and overall insight regarding every team in the nation. They know more about the teams, and certainly in most cases, have a better perception about the team than the head coaches do. The bookies are the “Masters of the Football Domain”.

Somewhere, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder has a smile on his ugly face as wide as the Mississippi River. He and I discussed this exact thing over dinner one Saturday night long ago in New Orleans before a Saints’ game. He loved the notion, but the NCAA and it’s disdain for gambling, plus the ramifications it would bring concerning organized crime and “point shaving”, would definitely kill the idea. He was the best. He gave me “7 to 1 odds” this would never come to pass. He died before I could “officially” make the bet. Thanks for picking up the dinner check. By the way, Jimmy, did the odds go up, or down, after all these years with everything that’s happened in sports?

“JUICING” …. THE DOWNFALL OF PROFESSIONAL ATHLETICS

By Brian Weidenbacher

mickey-mantle-portrait-956x1277Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays are rolling over in their graves, and Willie Mays isn’t even dead yet!  These great athletes set standards on the playing field that are now being challenged, and many broken, by imposters.  True talent is being replaced by insecure players using anabolic steroids, human growth hormones, or anything else they can swallow, needle into their buttocks, or smear on their person.”Juicing” is now the norm.  In this modern era of sports, it’s become a guessing game as to whether natural talent exists, or purchased through doctors or individuals at various laboratories.  It’s a travesty in every facet of the word.

Major League Baseball and the National Football League have implemented penalties on athletes found guilty using performance enhancing drugs.  But, are the penalties severe enough to deter players from committing this wrongdoing repeatedly?  Evidently, the answer is “NO”.  It seems that many players do “what is needed to do”, to remain a step superior than their own teammates and opponents.  Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, and countless others are enhancing their playing ability now, and destroying their later years of life.  Is it worth it?  If still alive, I’m guessing Lyle Alzado, and any other athlete that killed themselves and ruined their legacy with illegal substances at an early age, would do it differently.  Killing yourself in the long run, ruining your reputation, and destroying your family and friendships for a few years of glory, just doesn’t quite add up to me.  Vain and insecure individuals create their own despicable world.

Mickey Charles Mantle was a God to me, and most every other young male growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.  For all we knew, it was a time of innocence in the world of sports.  A professional athlete playing center field for the New York Yankees in those decades had to be the most surreal thing a naïve, country boy from Oklahoma could be a part of.  Alcohol, for many of the athletes in that era, was the “drug” of choice.  In the long run, it proved to be just one of Mickey’s demons.  For three glorious days in 1987, I was Mantle’s bodyguard at a Baseball Card Show in New Orleans.  It was magical.  Here was my idol, and I was given the opportunity to be constantly by his side, stay in his hotel suite, and shelter him from his public.  He came to realize, too late in life, just what he meant to people, and how in some obscure manner, managed to touch their lives.  He was Mickey Mantle …… and he was finally acting like it.  He was charming, funny, couldn’t sing worth a damn, and kind.  But above of all, he was giving.  Even in death, he gave his fans something better then he gave them while he played.  For those three short days, I was a kid again.  When he died from liver cancer due to years of excessive alcohol abuse, my childhood ended.  It wasn’t fair to me, his legends of fans, his family, and most importantly, himself.  Mickey finally “grew up”, but like I mentioned before, it was too late.  Many athletes either consider themselves invincible, or have a “Peter Pan” disorder and don’t want to grow up and live in the real world.

Pete Rose bet on baseball games, and every other sport for that matter.  For his sins, he was banned from baseball for life, plus it cost him enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  In the managerial position Rose was in, I fully understand the penalty he received.  But is his crime any more serious than current and past athletes?  Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were banned for an entire year in the early 60’s for gambling.  Hornung is a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame.  There’s something wrong with this picture.

Roger Godell, Commissioner of the National Football League, proclaims that the NFL is against gambling, and the use of performance enhancing drugs.  You have a better chance of baptizing a cat than to believe those words.  If the NFL does not condone gambling, why does it release an “Injury Report” to every newspaper across the country on the Thursday before a game?  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy betting on games during football season as much as anyone.  But don’t insult my intelligence by implying that the league doesn’t want me to bet on the games, and then “help me out” by informing me as to which players are injured, or will not play.  Why don’t you include the players that are on some sort of “juice”.  That would help me out immensely.

Lastly, and certainly not least, we have Lance Armstrong, deceitful winner of the Tour de France for seven consecutive years from 1999 to 2005.  The United States Anti-Doping Agency banned him for life in 2012 for doping and using illicit performance enhancing drugs.  Armstrong chose not to appeal his sentence, and in 2013, finally admitted his guilt.  The USADA cited that he was engaged in “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”.  John Wayne once said, “Life is tough.  It’s even tougher if you’re stupid”.  The only positive from this incredibly refined scheme, is that the Livestrong Charity has garnered 325 million dollars in proceeds.  Something this wonderful, coming from years of ignorance, is the only saving grace.

Gambling will NEVER be the downfall of any sport.  Most true American males enjoy the “action”.   And why not ……. It creates a “rush”, and doesn’t cause bodily harm like drugs.  Drugs, doping, and stupidity will one day be sports’ demise, similar to the effect it has on society today.  I’m glad my better days are behind me.  And besides, I don’t like needles.

SPORTS

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