Whenever Matt Dobyns and Ben Polland play golf together, it sure is eventful. The two friends and fellow Long Island pros produced a stunning finish at the recent PGA Professionals National Championship, with Dobyns overcoming a two-shot deficit to win on the final hole. Their day was much less dramatic, yet eye-opening and productive, when they played Whistling Straits last week.
They learned a lot during 36 holes in Wisconsin. They flew in for a day to prepare for next week's PGA Championship, for which they both qualified in the tournament that Dobyns won. When it comes to the major championship, the two men -- each a protégé of Deepdale head pro Darrell Kestner -- are in it together.
Dobyns, the head pro at Fresh Meadow Country Club, is advising Polland, an assistant pro at Deepdale (Dobyns' former job). The PGA will be Dobyns' third major and Polland's first.
"I just told him to try and be himself,'' Dobyns said. "Paying attention to what all those tour players are doing during the day is not productive. He needs to figure out the best way for him to play the course and he needs to plan his day and not work too hard Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.''
Dobyns is impressed with the way his friend handled the three-shot swing on the final hole of the club pros' championship -- a story that will be told in a CBS preview of the PGA at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Polland is playing on the Canadian PGA Tour this weekend after having played well, finishing second, in the New York State Open at Bethpage Black two weeks ago. "Obviously the finish of the PPNC wasn't how we'd like it but it's always fun to be in the last group,'' he said at the time. The NYS Open will help him at Whistling Straits: "In a lot of ways -- the pressure of playing in a big tournament on a difficult golf course.''
Both golfers took a lot from their visit to Whistling Straits. They know that driving is at a premium and that you really have to be attentive to the different types of sand in various bunkers. They likely will play a practice round together before the tournament, although Dobyns does have a different game set up for one of the days: his college coach at Texas arranged for him to play with two-time major champion and fellow Longhorn Jordan Spieth.
Remembering Joe Cantwell
Once, when Joe Cantwell was a rules official at the U.S. Senior Open, an agitated golfer complained about not having been given a free drop. The golfer told Cantwell, "Jack [Nicklaus] would have gotten relief.'' Cantwell replied, "Jack wouldn't have asked.''
Cantwell, considered Long Island's foremost authority on golf rules, died this past week at 85. He is remembered for his passion for the game, his sense of humor and his list of achievements. He was president of both the Long Island and Metropolitan Golf Associations and received the distinguished service award from each.
"Over the six years that I was privileged to work with Joe, he taught me not only about the Rules of Golf, but more importantly, how to apply them in tournament competition and the importance of teaching others what I've learned,'' said John McGrath, director of competitions for the LIGA. "The golf world will miss his expertise and his smile.''
Albatross for Regan
Kevin Regan was undaunted about being in the right rough, 275 yards from the green, on North Hempstead Country Club's signature hole, the 543-yard par-5 eighth, in the members' July 4 tournament. Nor was he bothered by the sight of a cluster of bunkers and an infamous boulder.
He cleared those obstacles, landing his 3-wood shot on the front of the green. The ball rolled forward, hit the pin, lingered on the lip and dropped for a double-eagle 2, known as an albatross. Said Mike Morovich, who was in the foursome, "It was definitely the greatest shot I ever saw.''
Goats? No kidding
Radrick Farms Golf Course in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has added a unique set of employees: ten goats.
They were brought in to eat invasive plant species, including poison ivy, buckthorn and honeysuckle, according to the Golf Course Superintendents Association. Radrick Farms general manager Paul Scott said, "We're letting nature control nature.''