Golf season opens in the Mahoning Valley

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Golf courses take a swing at improving facilities

By Kevin Connelly

Legendary golfer Bobby Jones once said, “Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course — the distance between your ears.”

Since the actual courses were covered in a blanket of snow for what turned out to be a lengthy winter, some area golf pros had to find other ways to keep their minds sharp.

So they did what any restless golfer would do.

They tweaked.

The most drastic change in Northeast Ohio can be found at The Lake Club in Poland.

More specifically at the ninth hole.

“No. 9 has kind of been our signature hole for a while,” the club’s PGA head professional, Michael Ferranti said last week. “We got the idea just to try and make the best par 3 that we can.”

From the beginning, the goal was to create something unique to the area, and according to Ferranti that started with retired PGA professional Jerry McGee. It was his distinctive golf eye and club owner Ed Muransky’s creative mind that got the ball rolling on the project.

Their main objective: utilize the lake more.

“We really wanted to try and incorporate that more,” Ferranti said. “We couldn’t put anything out onto the lake, but we wanted to find a way to bring it into the playability of the hole without necessarily being out on the water.”

The result: they brought the green in roughly 50 yards — it now plays roughly 120 to 170 yards — and got as close to the water as they could.

With the left side of the green now playing next to the lake, Ferranti thinks the changes will provide a nice new challenge.

While that concept may have attracted the most inquiring golf minds, other courses kept it more simple.

Matt Rura is in his second year as head pro at Tamer Win Golf and Country Club in Bazetta Township. He held the same position at Rock Creek Golf Course in Washington D.C. for five years prior to moving back to the Valley, which is where he grew up.

He’s also returned with a golf bag full of ideas on how he can improve the course he learned to play on.

“I learned a lot of different lesson programs and things in terms of specialized skills, whether it be short game, driving, or how to hit it out of the bunker 200 yards,” Rura said. “So we offer a lot of one-time workshops on specialized shots or a series of shots.”

Tamer Win opened around the first of the month and Rura is hoping to add to his already growing list of students.

“The winter was awful,” he said. “It seemed like we were closed, more or less, from the first week in November until April 1. I was just climbing the walls and I’m sure the golfers were too.”

Another club pro who couldn’t resist returning to a familiar setting was Jeff Meyers. He’s left his mark at courses across the area and is in his 37th year in the golf industry.

After spending a year away from the work side of golf, he’s back as head pro at Candywood Golf Course in Vienna and feels rejuvenated with a fresh outlook.

“Some people have been like, ‘Now that we know you’re there, we’ll come more often,’” Meyers said. “It’s a great golf course that we want to make a little better.”

Like Rura, Meyers plans to do more personal instruction, particularly with younger players.

“You don’t see a lot of kids because there’s so many tournaments now for kids to play in,” Meyers said. “When I played junior golf, we only had about one or two tournaments a year.

“We didn’t know what traveling was.”

A weekend full of sunshine should have cured the antsy golfer by now.

If not, another couple days of tweaking should do the trick.

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