By Bruce Meadows
Windsor Golf Club is the home turf Jason Schmuhl, but Silverado CC, site of the PGA’s Safeway Open Oct. 13-16, is definitely a home away from home for the head pro at Windsor.
Assuming Jason can fully recover from an injury to his left wrist, the 44-year-old Analy grad plans on teeing it up with the top PGA players.
“I hurt it in a practice round at the NorCal Open and it didn’t seem so bad at the time,” Schmuhl said, explaining he had been practicing plugged bunker shots. “But the next day I swung hard on the first tee and that was the last shot I’ve taken for a while.”
Schmuhl saw a doctor, who gave him cortisone shots, which didn’t help all that much. Then the doctor said it could be tendon damage.
He had another cortisone injection and it still didn’t feel so good, then the doctor indicated it could be a stress fracture.
“It’s starting to feel better,” said Schmuhl, who just started practicing again. “I’m still optimistic I’ll be able to play . . . I’ve been icing the wrist and taking Aleve and I think it’s getting better.”
He has a good history at Silverado and really likes playing the course. The Safeway Open will be held on the North Course, one of two 18-hole layouts at Silverado. It is actually the first event on the 2017 PGA Tour.
“I feel comfortable there and have done very well over the years,” he said. “The North Course is straight forward, no gimmicks . . . I was there for section match play a few years ago and shot a 68.”
Schmuhl, who qualified for the Safeway Open by winning an NCPGA stroke play event at Almaden CC, also has a course-tying record 63 at Silverado, sharing the mark with legendary pro Johnny Miller.
Schmuhl heads for Sunriver (Ore.) early next year where he will attempt to qualify for the 2017 PGA Championship.
Jason is a three-time NCPGA “Player of the Year” (2015, 2010, 2008) and has competed in numerous PGA events, including the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, the fry’s.com Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Reno-Tahoe Open to name a few.
He captured the NCPGA Championship this year as well as 2014, 2010 and 2008 and was the 2015 NCPGA Match Play winner in 2015 and runner-up in the 2012 NorCal Open.
He resides in Windsor with his wife, Tracy, son Riley (14) and daughter Averie (14) and also has a 22-year-old daughter, Kristina.
Arnie gone but definitely not forgotten
Golfers and golf fans in general had a variety of reactions to the recent death of Arnold Palmer.
Jim Strong, who owns Strong’s Golf Shop in Santa Rosa, had a couple of experiences with “The King.”
He had his photo taken with Palmer in the 1960s during a Kaiser tournament at Silverado. He recalls asking Arnie if he could get a photo of the two of them.
“So he stopped right there and poses next to me, we take the photo and he thanks me,” Jim remembers. “Nowadays that would never happen . . . and I still have the photo.”
Also in the 1960s, at the Lucky Invitational at San Francisco’s Harding Park, Strong recalls stopping at a snack shack for a hot dog. As he stood in line, he realized Arnie was half a dozen spots ahead of him.
“He said ‘hi, how are you?’ and I was speechless,” according to Jim, who said he later ran into Palmer at the mustard dispenser. “Just a normal guy, no special treatment . . . I found it amazing he would stand in line, not assuming he could go to the head of the line, or not send his caddy or someone to get the hot dog.”
Strong knows we lost “a special person . . . he made golf what it is today.”
Safeway Open draws big names
The Safeway Open, which is taking the place of the frys.com event at Silverado, will not be lacking for star power.
Most significant to most golf fans will be the appearance of Tiger Woods, who announced in September he would be in Napa.
He said he “can’t wait to compete again,” after not playing in a PGA Tour event since August of 2015. His appearance in Napa will follow tournament participation in Turkey and the Bahamas, weather permitting.
In his last competitive round, he shot a 70 in the last round of the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.
“It’s great to have Tiger back on the PGA Tour, especially in Northern California,” said Jeff Sanders, executive tournament director. “It’s a great place for him to start.”
Also scheduled to play is Phil Mickelson, coming off a successful run at the Ryder Cup, where the United States turned in a memorable Sunday round of singles to crush the Europeans, 17 to 11, the largest U.S. margin of victory in the event since 1981 and the first victory in that competition after three European wins.
Mickelson, at age 46, produced 2½ for the Americans, including halving a match with Sergio Garcia.
Captain of this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team, Davis Love III, has also committed to play at Silverado and will no doubt get a rousing welcome from fans, as will Mickelson.
Quite a few well-known players have committed to play in Napa, including Ricky Barnes, Keegan Bradley, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Bryson DeChambeau, Retief Goosen, Charles Howell III, David Toms, Ryder Cup competitor Matt Kuchar, , Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan, Kevin Na, Jhonattan Vegas, Boo Weekley and Nick Watney.
And for those of you who like to use a ball bigger than a golf ball, take note that the Warriors’ Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala have signed up to play in the pro-am portion of the tournament Wednesday, Oct. 12.
“We’re excited to have Curry and Iguodala play in our tournament,” said Sanders. “From what I hear, they have game on the grass, too.”
In fact, Curry is close to a scratch golfer and he and Iguodala both played this year at Augusta National, a round promised to them by Golden State coach Steve Kerr in 2015 after they won the NBA Finals.
Tickets can be purchased for the Safeway Open in various forms, including a five-day ticket ($100 in advance, $125 at the gate) or a good-any-day ticket ($40 in advance, $50 at the gate).
Kids 15 and under are free with a paid adult, and admission is free for active and retired military who present a valid ID at the ticket sales window.
Parking is $10, with free shuttles available to take you to and from Silverado. General admission parking is located at 575 3rd St. in Napa.
Live music will be featured after golf – X Ambassadors Thursday, Charles Kelley Friday and Third Eye Blind Saturday. Admission to the music venue is included in your admission ticket.
There will be a Safeway Food and Wine Pavilion, over 27,000 square feet in a big air-conditioned tent.
Safeway has entered into a five-year contract with the PGA Tour that will take the event through 2020.
Silverado hosted the PGA Tour from 1968-80, producing winners such as Jack Nicklaus (1969), Ben Crenshaw (1980), Tom Watson (1978) and two-time winner and host Johnny Miller (1974-75). Silverado also was a Champions Tour venue from 1989-2002.
For additional information, go to www.safewayopen.com
Adams Springs battles back . . . slowly
Adams Springs GC on Cobb Mountain , a popular 9-hole Lake County layout, reopened in November of last year after being hit hard by the devastating Valley Fire.
General manager John Berry, longtime golf coach at Kelseyville High, said “we lost our pro shop/clubhouse as well as close to 1,000 trees and worked out of the cart barn for 10 months.”
He opened a modular pro shop in June “so now you can play golf, have a beer and watch some sports on television.”
John said business is bad throughout the Cobb Mountain area, noting “we’re bleeding red ink and a lot of businesses are struggling.”
He called the drive from Middletown to Cobb on Highway 175 “brutal with burned-out trees, abandoned cars and “houses turned to rubble.”
John added that membership at his club is down 40 percent “and some of our regulars have simply moved on with their lives, relocating near their kids and grandkids in other areas.”
Twilight play, which had been popular, “is zero since nobody lives up here and next to no one is playing in the late hours of the day.”
John had several chances to see Arnold Palmer in person, including when he was 10 and Palmer was involved in a Monday playoff with Julius Boros and Nicklaus at the Western Open in Chicago.
Four years later John was caddying at Beverly CC and got a chance to follow Arnie a few rounds. He remembers “those funky mirrored periscopes” so popular with fans in those days.
Three years later, he was assistant caddymaster at Beverly and had a chance to watch Palmer “hold court” in the clubhouse during a rain delay.
“Arnold was promoting the idea of Americans playing in the British Open that summer at St. Andrews and I recall Miller Barber complaining about the weather, the food, the cars and the courses.
“Arnie shot back that he would never be seen as a great golfer if he never played overseas and never played in the British Open.
“I think he influenced a lot of golfers that morning, most of all Tom Weiskopf, who decided to go, finished in the top 15 and later won at Royal Troon, his one and only major title.”
John also was in the gallery watching Palmer when he played in senior events at Silverado, “and I was amazed how often he engaged the crowd, winking at people, patting little kids on top of the head, giving people the thumbs-up . . . he was still competitive and yet he was able to make the fans feel as though he was their best buddy.”
Berry says he regrets the fact “Tiger and Phil can be aloof, stand-offfish and distant to today’s golf fans . . . I always wished they could be more like Palmer.”
John and so many others saw Palmer as a great ambassador for the game, maybe THE best ambassador in many ways. But John knows he may be too harsh in his judgment of current players, adding that ‘maybe only Arnold Palmer could truly be like Arnold Palmer, one of a kind.”
I had numerous chances to interview Palmer, and unlike a lot of his contemporaries, he never seemed rushed or anxious to end the conversation. What I remember most is a man who was patient, gracious and a real gentleman on and off the course.
Pendleton makes it a half dozen
Lakeport’s Brad Pendleton claimed his sixth consecutive Lake County Amateur at Adams Springs this past weekend, shooting 1-under-par 67 and withstanding a cold, wet Sunday for a five-stroke victory over Juan Lopez. Pendleton shot 67-70—137, Lopez 69-73—146.
Pendleton, who plays in the Lake County TOC later this month, will then turn pro and enter the PGA of American program. His win tied him with legendary Lake County golfer George Hoberg Jr.
Rick Gabehart of Lakeport won the net division (66-67—133) and Jerry Pendleton claimed senior flight (77-72—149).
Get out there and compete to improve your game
Daniel Stewart, lead golf instructor at Fairgrounds GC, has some thoughts on one way to improve your game.
“I’ve always thought competition was the best practice. Golf is a pressure game and to become a better golfer one has to learn how to deal with such pressure,” says Daniel. “If you’re one of those players that practices a lot but never plays, I encourage you to play competitively. You will never know where your game truly is until you test it.
“Whether it be a local city tournament, a club tournament, or an NCGA amateur tournament, you should sign up and put your skills to the test . . . don’t waste all that practice for nothing.”
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