Updated: Chance to play Merion East, Riviera, Olympic Club, Erin Hills, East Lake Golf Club and More!

5/30/2011 3 comments
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Ballyneal Member (ME) Invites Others (YOU) to Join 108-Hole Fundraiser

5/25/2011 0 comments

Below is a copy of a press release that our friends at Ballyneal sent out about The Ben Cox 108:

HOLYOKE, CO -- On June 20th, Ballyneal Golf Club member Jim Colton will set out on a mission to walk 108 holes of golf in one day to raise money for the healthcare of Ben Cox, a Ballyneal caddie who was paralyzed from the chest down following a downhill skiing accident in March.

In addition to collecting lump-sum and per-hole pledges, Colton is offering the opportunity for others to take an active role in the event. Colton has pledged to pay the Ballyneal guest fees for up to 16 non-members who raise at least $500 for the cause and commit to the "half-marathon" of 54 holes or more on the 20th.

Cox, a 2006 graduate of Haxtun High School, grew up about 25 miles from Ballyneal in northeast Colorado. He attended Wayland Baptist University in Texas before transferring to Texas Tech, where he was studying civil engineering at the time of the accident. Cox hopes to return to school in January 2012 to complete the last two semesters needed for his degree. He is expected to be discharged from Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., on June 14th and hopes to be at Ballyneal six days later to greet Colton and the other golfers as they finish their rounds.

Ben's mother, Melinda Cox, doesn't know the total amount of the medical bills resulting from Ben's care, but related that just one surgical bill was $330,000. Cox is expected to have additional medical needs moving forward.

"I get real emotional talking about the support shown by Jim Colton, Haxtun residents, Wayland Baptist, Ballyneal and others," said Melinda Cox, a teacher's aide in Haxtun who has remained with her son in Denver since the accident. "I thank God each day. It's amazing how people have rallied around us."

"I've definitely had more good days than bad," Ben said. "You've got to keep a good attitude about it. It is what it is. You can either look at it that you can't do this or that, or you can figure out what you can still do."

Colton resides in Wheaton, Ill., and is known for being a golf fanatic through his blog, and his 2009 book entitled, "One Divot at a Time: Diary of a Full-Fledged Golf Addict." He has received pledges of more than $20,000 and hopes the chance to play Ballyneal will raise even more money. "The Coxes are a great family with a positive attitude and tremendous faith in the face of this life-changing injury," said Colton. "As soon as I heard about the accident, I knew I had to do whatever I could to help."

Thanks to June 20 being one of the longest days of the year, Colton plans to tee off for his first round at 4:45 a.m. and golf until dusk at 8:45 p.m.

"Although the event is called 'The Ben Cox 108,' I view 108 holes as the starting point instead of the finish line," Colton said, relating that numerous contributors have creatively structured their pledges with bonuses for playing more than 108 holes. "Knowing that each extra hole will be worth hundreds of additional dollars to the cause will motivate me to keep going."

As an additional incentive to donate to the cause, Colton is collecting prizes that will be awarded by raffle. Contributors will get a raffle ticket for every $50 donated, with the raffle set to take place on Saturday July 9th. The list of raffle items includes rounds of golf at some of the best and most historic golf courses in the world. [To see an updated list of raffle prizes, go here:]

To learn more, call Ballyneal at 970/854-5900 or e-mail head pro Matt Payne at

Ballyneal is a private golf club located in the sand hills of northeastern Colorado, 2.5 hours from Denver. The Ballyneal land is referred to by locals as the "chop hills," due to the unique characteristics of its dunes. Ballyneal was Travel + Leisure Golf's Best New Course of 2006 and currently is ranked No. 6 Best Modern by Golfweek, No. 48 in the U.S. by Golf Magazine, and one of Golf Digest's America's 100 Greatest Courses. Ballyneal includes the golf shop, a fine-dining restaurant and three lodges with private suites. For more information, visit or call 970/854-5900.

Marathon Training

With The Ben Cox 108 less than four weeks away, I admittedly began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew. The outpouring of support for the event and the Cox family has far surpassed my initial modest expectations, and along with that has brought the pressure of actually walking at least six full rounds of golf. This past weekend, I spent four days trying to prepare for the marathon. I'm happy to report that the legs feel fine, but the state of my game is in disrepair. If you've entered the 'guess the score' contest, you might want to revise your guess upwards. The pro shop might run out of Pro V1's before I run out of daylight on June 20th. Thankfully there is still time to right the ship.

I spoke to Ben and his mother the night before leaving for Denver. Ben is still in great spirits and the family is busy preparing for bringing him home. He is scheduled to be released from the hospital on June 14th. He is determined to meet this date as he desperately wants to be at Ballyneal on the 20th to cheer me and the half-marathoners on. He's also firmly committed to getting back on the golf course this year, and is using that engineering brain of his to figure out the best way to grip a golf club and make contact. We're hoping to get a specialized golf cart out at Ballyneal for Ben on the 20th so we can play a couple holes together.

The support from friends, fellow members, the staff and caddies at Ballyneal has been tremendous. I've gotten so many offers for guys to caddie for one of the rounds, I'll probably have an entourage of two or three helpers at any given time. Just call me Allen Iverson. Just in the past few days, we received three additional items to add to the raffle, including accommodations and golf at the Fairmont St Andrews (a convenient excuse to go play the Old Course while you're there), a threesome of golf at Skokie Country Club here in Chicago and a threesome of golf at a amazing golf course that I'm only contractually allowed to announce is a site of a future US Open (try to guess which one it is from the list below).

2011111thCongressional Country Club, Blue CourseBethesdaMarylandJune 16–19
2012112thThe Olympic Club, Lake CourseSan FranciscoCaliforniaJune 14–17
2013113thMerion Golf Club, East CourseArdmorePennsylvaniaJune 13–16
2014114thPinehurst Resort, Course #2[5]PinehurstNorth CarolinaJune 12–15
2015115thChambers BayUniversity PlaceWashingtonJune 18–21
2016116thOakmont Country ClubOakmontPennsylvaniaJune 16–19
2017117thErin HillsErinWisconsinJune 15–18
2018118thTBAJune 14–17
2019119thPebble Beach Golf LinksPebble BeachCaliforniaJune 13–16

Here are some pics from a memorable weekend.

The par 3 5th hole. Obviously the world didn't end on Saturday evening, but if it had I was definitely going out in style!

The par 4 10th hole at sunrise.

Breaking Down the Golf Digest Rankings, Part Two

5/10/2011 0 comments
Last month, I analyzed the category rankings that comprise Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest courses. In that post, I tried to help the reader determine which of the seven categories was most important of them, thus identify which golf courses on the list they were more or less likely to enjoy.

Along those same lines, I listed each of the top 100 courses below and listed 10 other courses on the list that were either most similar or least similar in terms of relative category strengths. For example, if you think of Augusta National more highly than the typical Golf Digest rater, then your personal tastes might gravitate towards the Memorability, Aesthetics and Ambience categories which are a relatively big part of Augusta's overall score. In other words, your personal weights for those category might be higher in those categories than the flat 1.00 Golf Digest assign's to each of the categories (aside from Shot Values x2).

So in the Augusta example, other courses which are relatively strong in the Memorability, Aesthetics and Ambience categories are Cypress Point, Fishers Island, Maidstone, NGLA, Pebble Beach, etc. Makes sense when you think about it. Go down the list and pick out the courses you feel strongly about. You might find a few new top 100 courses to add to your list of targets.

#1. Augusta National
 - Similar: Cypress Point, Maidstone Club, Fishers Island, Monterey Peninsula (Shore), Sage Valley, National Golf Links of America, Pebble Beach, The Alotian Club, Garden City, Pacific Dunes
 - Dissimilar: Hazeltine National, Bethpage Black, Spyglass Hill, Victoria National, Pinehurst (No. 2), TPC Sawgrass (Players), Forest Dunes, Olympia Fields (North), Butler National, Galloway National

#2. Pine Valley
 - Similar: Fishers Island, The Prince Course, Cypress Point, Maidstone Club, Pebble Beach, Pacific Dunes, Somerset Hills, Ballyneal, National Golf Links of America, Bandon Dunes
 - Dissimilar: Diamond Creek Golf Club, The Quarry at La Quinta, Double Eagle, Eagle Point, The Preserve, Canyata, Forest Dunes, Sahalee (South/North), Sage Valley, Hudson National

#3. Shinnecock Hills
 - Similar: Fishers Island, Maidstone Club, Pacific Dunes, Winged Foot (East), Cypress Point, Winged Foot (West), Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Bandon Dunes, Merion (East)
 - Dissimilar: Forest Dunes, The Quarry at La Quinta, Eagle Point, Galloway National, Canyata, The Club at Black Rock, The Preserve, Rich Harvest Links, Boston Golf Club, Diamond Creek Golf Club

#4. Oakmont C.C.
 - Similar: Butler National, Winged Foot (West), Hazeltine National, Baltusrol (Lower), Crooked Stick, East Lake, Aronimink, Bethpage Black, Winged Foot (East), Oakland Hills (South)
 - Dissimilar: Cypress Point, Maidstone Club, Fishers Island, Pebble Beach, The Club at Black Rock, Kapalua (Plantation), Arcadia Bluffs, Wade Hampton, National Golf Links of America, Bandon Dunes

#5. Cypress Point
 - Similar: Fishers Island, Maidstone Club, Pebble Beach, National Golf Links of America, Monterey Peninsula (Shore), Pacific Dunes, Bandon Dunes, Somerset Hills, Shadow Creek, Shoreacres
 - Dissimilar: Hazeltine National, Butler National, Bethpage Black, Olympia Fields (North), Oakland Hills (South), Aronimink, Oakmont C.C., Baltusrol (Lower), Inverness, Southern Hills

#6. Pebble Beach
 - Similar: Fishers Island, Cypress Point, Maidstone Club, The Prince Course, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Dunes, Monterey Peninsula (Shore), National Golf Links of America, Whistling Straits (Straits), Shadow Creek
 - Dissimilar: Butler National, Double Eagle, Hazeltine National, Olympia Fields (North), Baltusrol (Lower), Eagle Point, Aronimink, Oakland Hills (South), Forest Dunes, Oakmont C.C.

#7. Merion (East)
 - Similar: Fishers Island, Maidstone Club, Winged Foot (East), Winged Foot (West), Cypress Point, Pacific Dunes, Somerset Hills, Garden City, The Country Club, National Golf Links of America
 - Dissimilar: The Quarry at La Quinta, Forest Dunes, Diamond Creek Golf Club, The Preserve, Canyata, Eagle Point, The Club at Black Rock, Hudson National, Galloway National, Sahalee (South/North)

#8. Winged Foot (West)
 - Similar: Winged Foot (East), Aronimink, Hazeltine National, Pinehurst (No. 2), Butler National, East Lake, Baltusrol (Lower), Merion (East), Crooked Stick, Los Angeles C.C. (North)
 - Dissimilar: The Quarry at La Quinta, The Club at Black Rock, Canyata, Forest Dunes, Sage Valley, The Estancia Club, Cypress Point, Arcadia Bluffs, The Preserve, Diamond Creek Golf Club

#9. Sand Hills
 - Similar: Cypress Point, Fishers Island, Maidstone Club, Monterey Peninsula (Shore), Augusta National, National Golf Links of America, Somerset Hills, Shadow Creek, Shoreacres, Sage Valley
 - Dissimilar: Hazeltine National, Bethpage Black, Spyglass Hill, Victoria National, Pinehurst (No. 2), TPC Sawgrass (Players), Forest Dunes, Olympia Fields (North), Galloway National, Oakland Hills (South)

#10. National Golf Links of America
 - Similar: Cypress Point, Fishers Island, Maidstone Club, Pebble Beach, Somerset Hills, Monterey Peninsula (Shore), Pacific Dunes, Shadow Creek, Shoreacres, Bandon Dunes
 - Dissimilar: Hazeltine National, Bethpage Black, Butler National, Oakland Hills (South), Olympia Fields (North), Aronimink, Oakmont C.C., Baltusrol (Lower), Eagle Point, Spyglass Hill

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