Tuesday, September 24, 2013



By Jock MacKenzie – Twice voted one of 50 best radio sports broadcasters in the United States.

I’ve heard it said that golf is the only sport in which a competitor will put down a cigar to eat a hot dog.  not being a smoker, i can’t verify that but the hot dog will get me after every 18-hole round at pine lakes or cypress knoll.

The most important wordage of all, however, came from golf tour spokesman Peter Kostis. when he stated the FOLLOWING, our ears began to pop: “Golf simply cannot grow unless we can get kids out onto the golf courses!”

we have youngsters in high school who show us great talent but once graduating we seem to lose track of those fasinating golf swings.
but then i thought, whoa buddy, have you looked at what the grand club is doing?
little by LITTLE, i began to view the young talent that director of golf mike tsouklaris has brought to the grand club and to palm coast in general.  i mean these golf professionals are good, very good, in the office or on the links.  and he has done it carefully despite bouts of rain the likes of which has not been seen by me and the thousands who left new england, staten island, philly and anywhere else you care to name.
One of the young troopers i have come to know is rick vaders who joins the team at pine lakes for morning duty.
if you can believe this, vaders was on the hitting range at the age of four.  he was on the links taking lessons somewhere around the age of 10 and turned pro at the age of 19.  and now here he is as one of the tsouklaris troopers.
nothing of this nature, of course, simply happens.  vaders credits his grand father in philadelphia for his golf ability now.  he told me proudly, “i would not be in this without my grand father in philadelpia.”
vaders had moved to key west when his grandad passed away while in hi 80’s but he pays tribute to this day.
in his golf bag is a one iron that stays there and is never used.  vaders said, “it will always stay there to honor my grand father!”
he makes no bones about how much he loves pine lakes.  he says, i live here with my parents, i golf here, i teach the game here and i don’t want to go anywhere else.”
he turned pro at the age of 19 and that’s when tsouklaris hired him.
vaders, as one of the tsoukaris specials, works a morning shift at pine lakes but is through around 12 p.m. and heads for the range where he teaches the many who value his ability.
what’s his lowest score for 18 holes?  He shot a round of 68 and at the Pine is always in the low 70’s.
more importantly, he loves the golf course, his family lives on the golf course including himself and every one of them love it here.

and all of this became possible because rick vaders worked for and got his pga ticket at the age of 19.
but don’t ever forget, it’s the solid staff at the grand club, the knowledge and work of tsouklaris, henry angle and brian melanson, that know exactly which way the cup must spin to make these golf courses among the best in florida!

Friday, September 13, 2013


Dreams do not have to be given away but father time took some pretty good swings at the Grand Club’s pine and cypress golf courses and a full bag of many more from river bend to grand reserve and all in between with rain that simply would not stop. 
the grand club, to my way of thinking, took the heaviest belt because these new owners are working their hearts out to make these exceptional golf courses the best in Palm Coast and beyond.  but their dreams and hard work go down the tubes as it does for those of us who love to play the wonderful game that is golf because of the constant onslaught of rain.
but knowing many of them as i do, - golf enthusiasts like Henry Angle, Michael Tsouklaris and Brian malanson - they’ll swing back better than ever and the format is already underway via brand new golf carts that members here and those from the north including montreal, canada will enjoy more than ever. 
Pine and cypress are two beautiful golf courses – the first built   by arnold palmer and the second by gary player.  both were designed for us to enjoy, and by golly, playing either or both is top drawer.
i arrived in palm coast at the urging of bob and sylvia jones way back in late 1995.  the population then, i believe, was about 20,000 and possibly less.  but in all this time Pine, Cypress and others have never suffered the endless rain that fell on us this summer.
few may not be aware today that these golf courses, the roads, a beautiful hotel, were built and managed by itt. they designed every highway, managed every course including palm harbor, pine, cypress knoll and yes, even matanzas of that era and beyond.
but in all that time we have never seen or had to dawn rain garments such as we’ were called upon this summer.
there is an old saying seldom used that pretty well describes this marvelous game we play: “golf can best be defined as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle followed by a good bottle of beer!
If I wasn’t an alcohol purist I’d drink to that day by day!

John Sbordone is an expert at organizing and directing stage plays of the first order.  it’s his life and a superb director for the best from new york to palm coast.
he’s also a golfer, an avid player, although he rarely admits it.  for the many years we met in golf situations he consistently asked me, “why can’t i break par!”
break par?  my word, the guy’s a demon on or off the links.  every time i get a look at golf results there is john sbordone at the top of the winner’s circle probably muttering to himself, “why can’t i break par?” 
meanwhile, the latest results from Director bob schultz shows him in first place ten numbers ahead of terrific golfers like david ragsdale and mickie mann.  and he does it week after week.
don’t you wish you could break par like that?  i know i would.  either that or join one of his stage groups where he probably also consistently mutters, “why can’t i break par?”  break par?  Hell, he smashes it to ribbons!

jim canfield is the other part of the story.  this native of staten island, new york, who grew into life as an orphan became the first mayor of palm coast and served a growing community for two terms. 
i was so lucky to enjoy part of his first campaign.  i took him to radio stations where we could get the word out and continued his speeches even to small groups that we attended.
thus, jim canfield became the first official mayor of palm coast and still helps out when he can to this day.
is he a golfer, a good golfer?  you bet he is, although he wouldn’t admit it.
playing pine and cypress courses as does sbordone, canfield is a demon on par three holes.  while you or i may be sweating out the numbers canfield’s golf ball is usually seen four or five feet or less from the pin. 
basically, jim canfield is one very special guy – golfer or person – and all of palm coast should feel lucky to have him here.
stop and think for a moment, how many men do you know came into life as an orphan, educated themselves including college, took on a top job as an educator, came to palm coast and twice became a top-rated mayor?
jim canfield, my friends, is one of the nicest persons in the united states.  we of palm coast are lucky to have him and should the grand club post another hall of fame event this former major leads the pack.
thank you, jim canfield, for being the wonderful person you are and that comes out in spades from the Sludge hammer golf group he plays with and for at the grand club.