Have a Problem? Ask the Top 100 Teachers!

January 26, 2010

Golf Magazine’s list of Top 100 Teachers holds a special place in the hearts of the Pine Needles and Mid Pines family, as our fearless leader Mrs. Peggy Kirk Bell holds an “emeritus” status on that list.

For many many  years, her name has graced that list for her outstanding performance and creativity in teaching the game of golf and she’s accompanied by the most elite teachers all over the country.  She’s one of six teachers who have been on that list since its creation in 1991, and on top of that the only woman!

Well the the Top 100 Teachers list has grown to be more than just a list since 1991.  Now the Golf Magazine website hosts a whole section about its Top 100 teachers with everything from a directory of all the teachers, to articles on instruction about certain aspects of the game, to what we find most interesting a blog to talk one on one to some of the top teachers themselves.

At the moment you can ask Top 100 teacher Brady Riggs of Woodley Lakes Golf Club in California, any question you may have.  As you peruse the blog, you see golfers all over the country writing in their problems whether it be how to gain more power or how to become a better iron player.  And you will see that Brady answers every question in an easy to understand and very conversational way.

This is a fantastic resource for golfers of all levels to get their questions answered for FREE!  You can’t beat that, especially getting advice from the best teachers in the country.  Visit the website and take a look yourself.



A Pre-Shot POSITIVE PICTURE: The Best Club In Your Bag! by Pat McGowan

January 6, 2010

There’s no question that practice is paramount to improving your golf game.  Consistent lower scores aren’t an accident.  It takes a committed and repetitive effort to become better in all aspects of the game.

This is universally understood….a “given” so to speak.  I would like to add something you may not have thought of, or, you don’t think is as important as physical practice.

The mental picture we have as we address each shot has more to do with the outcome than anything we do physically.  This is a strong statement so let’s take a minute to analyze.  Every golf shot results in one of two outcomes…you were pleased with the shot or you weren’t. Pretty simple…agreed?

A positive mental picture of a quality shot will allow our already honed skills to take over.  We “get out of our own way” when we picture or “see” a positive result…before we even hit the shot.  This good feeling (picture) relaxes us and lets our swing perform with no restrictions.

Conversely, what happens when you tell yourself, “stay away from that bunker, or, don’t hit it in that water.”  ? Your mind immediately focuses on this negative, you become tense, afraid, and restricted in your swing. It’s a terrible feeling to have this negative picture and we know what to expect when we play in this mindset.   Yuck!

Here’s your challenge…play 9 holes and picture the exact shot you want to hit each and every time.  It won’t be easy and it takes a lot of concentration.  Cast off the usual negative vibes that pop up.  Now, when you can consistently make it 9 holes with those positive pictures, you can start the process for the entire round.

There are two real truisms in golf…if you picture a negative outcome you will most surely “achieve” this result.  But, if you picture a good, positive outcome, chances are you’ll achieve this also….not every time; but, you’ve now given yourself the very best opportunity to hit a great shot.

Try this…you haven’t had to work on your swing, it costs nothing, and you will instantly become a better player.

Enjoy this great game,

Pat McGowan

Freezing Conditions for the Parent-Child Tournmanet

January 4, 2010

With temperatures barely reaching the low 30s this weekend, parent and child teams faced the freezing conditions this weekend in our annual Parent-Child Invitational at Pine Needles.   In a two day tournament getting the chance to play both courses, teams of all ages bundled up and hit the links.

Carts were completely covered to shun out the wind and portable heaters were the most popular gadget this year.  But despite the completely unfavorable conditions, it’s absolutely incredible how well some of the teams finished.  Listed below are the results for all winners in each division:

Father/Son Division (Age 14 and over)

Gross Division: Charles and Garland Green 70-68-138

Net Division: Dave and Joe Kastelic 66-66-132

Parent/Child Division (Age 11 and under)

Rich and Jake Grula 79-79-158

Mother/Son Division

Janet Alred and Tony McAlister 101-97-198

Father/Daughter Division

Gross Division: Carlos and Sophia Montenegro 82-80-168

Net Division: Terry and Rachel Strow 79-69-148

Professional/Son Division

Pat and Michael McGowan 65-67-132

Ever Wonder How Courses in the Sandhills Are Still Green in the Winter?

December 22, 2009

Well, as Fall turns to Winter you don’t have to put up the clubs just yet. Winter in the Sandhills is mild enough to get out and play some great golf. As for most golf courses in the winter, the turf will go dormant and the color is taken away from the course.

But at Pine Needles and Mid Pines, we plant Ryegrass over the entire turf grass area. The Ryegrass is seeded in the Fall making the grass grow all Winter long which produces the really nice green color all golfers love.

Many golf courses in the Carolinas have reduced the amount of Ryegrass they use on the  course to help save on their budgets. However, Pine Needles and Mid Pines  made a decision not to cut back. In fact we were able to apply a little more Ryegrass on our fairways, tees, and roughs this year due to lower Ryegrass prices.

We know that golfers want a golf course in great condition, and those golfers that play all year round are the most dedicated and deserve the best.  So enjoy that little piece of trivia and come enjoy our golf courses that are beautifully green 365 days of the year.

Picture taken on 12/16 from the 18th hole of Mid Pines

Ho Ho Ho…Santa Clause Comes to Mid Pines

December 7, 2009

This past Saturday Mid Pines hosted “Breakfast with Santa” for all associates’ children as an annual tradition at Pine Needles and Mid Pines.  Breakfast was served to all the children and parents as they waited anxiously for the arrival of Santa Claus.

Once he arrived, each child got the opportunity to sit atop Santa’s lap (played by our Mid Pines associate, Frank Catena), tell him what they wanted for Christmas and get a picture to take home.  Santa’s elves were also on hand to help make crafts and hand out treats.  

A special thanks goes out to Patsy Smith and Helen Downie for always putting the event together for all associates.  Thank you to Frank for being our yearly Santa and to all elves who helped make the day special!

Jo Kenzel's nephew takes his picture with Santa.

Michelle Leads Team to Solheim Victory

August 27, 2009

Remember when a young phenom named Michelle Wie barely missed the cut (1 shot) in the men’s Hawaiian Open?  Well, she’s back and playing better than that highly talented and fearless 14-year old from Hawaii.

Michelle was picked as a Captain’s Choice for this year’s Solheim Cup.  Not exactly a risky pick, however, with Michelle’s history of injuries and questionable attitude, Captain Beth Daniel was under a microscope.  The doubters quickly left the playing field.

 What Michelle did last weekend was brilliant!  She lead the team with a 3-0-1 record (31/2 pts. out of 4) and her prodigious drives and stellar putting sent inspirational roars heard everywhere on the course.  That, with her huge smile and fist-pumping, set the stage for a great day of singles matches on Sunday.  USA won the last day singles by a score of 8-4, which gave them the Cup 16-12.

 The two most important elements to becoming a great player (whatever level), in my opinion, are: 1. You must be very positive on the golf course (great attitude) and, 2. You must be an excellent putter.

 Michelle recently went to see Dave Stockton for some help.  Dave happens to be known for being one of the all-time best putters in the history of the game.  (And teachers).  I’ve played several times with Dave…the reputation is well deserved.

 Overall, this weekend we saw a young lady who broke away from the scrutiny of her overly “hands on” parents, played, smiled, and genuinely enjoyed the wonderful competition.  She did herself and her Country proud.

 Watch out for the newest version of “Wie” golf in 2010 as she rips it off the tee, makes putts, and I’m sure will win ALOT.

 Oh, did I mention that she’s “finally matured” and ready to win.  After all, she is the ripe-old age of……yes,….19!

 Enjoy this great game, everyone.

 All the best,                      

 Pat McGowan

Old World Danish Meatball Recipe – Perfect For Any Occasion

July 31, 2009

Chef Tom Christensen, Executive Chef at Mid Pines Inn, wants to share this great recipe for Danish Meatballs that is perfect as an appetizer for a dinner party or as a side dish with any meal. 

Chef Tom is a European trained chef from Denmark and has been at Mid Pines for over 20 years.  He specializes in traditional French Cuisine.  Bon Appetite!

Ingredients – Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 pounds ground pork
   shoulder or similar cut
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dehydrated onions
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 eggs
1 cup 2% milk
Butter or margarine
Vegetable oil


If you purchase pork already ground at the market, be sure that it is not seasoned pork sausage. Danish Meatballs can be frozen and reheated in the oven or microwave.

1 – Combine the ground pork with the flour in a bowl and mix well. Add the dehydrated onion, granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs and then the milk. Spoon the mixture into a deep plate and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours for easier shaping.

2 – Add enough equal parts butter and oil to a skillet to measure 1/4 inch in depth. Heat over medium heat. Hold the dish with the meatball mixture in the left hand and spoon the pork mixture carefully into the pan with a soup spoon, shaping it into balls with the spoon. Cook the meatballs until brown on both sides, turning once.

3 – Remove the meatballs to a plate. Serve warm with Red Cabbage* and Caramel Potatoes* or serve as a light lunch with Potato Salad*.

*Recipe courtesy of www.danishcooking.com

Pat McGowan’s Pre-Round Routine

July 24, 2009

Golfers often rush to the first tee and without a proper warm-up expect to play well.  It may happen occasionally, but most of the time you can expect a long day at the links.

If you want to perform well each time you play, you must take the time to warm-up.  I’m not talking about a long practice session.  So here’s a plan that will help you effectively prepare for your round when you only have 20-30 minutes before your tee time.

Get about 20 practice balls and head for the range.  Do a few long and slow stretches i.e. (club resting on neck and shoulders and do a full shoulder turn and hold).  Now, hit about a dozen wedge shots.  Some as short as 10 yards, all the way up to a full wedge.  All the while, swinging slowly (with good tempo) and taking a rhythmic practice swing between each shot.  Always have a target and use your pre-shot routine every time.  Now, hit a few mid-irons (6 or 7) and a couple of drives.  End this part of your warm-up by playing an imaginary 1st hole.  Select whatever club you’ll tee off with on your 1st hole, and then after playing this shot select the club you’ll play next and hit that “imaginary shot.”  This will help you with the transition from the driving range to the golf course.

Next, go to the putting green and (if possible) hit some chip shots.  Spend the last 5-10 minutes putting.  (After all, this is the most important club in your bag and it should get the bulk of your practice time.)  Practice your longer (lag putts) first and then end your session with several minutes on the short (2 to 4 foot) putts.  Make 3 short ones in a row before you’re done.  This way, you have a positive mind-set and you’re taking successful feed-back to the golf course.

Now as you head to the first tee you’re stretched-out, warmed-up, un-rushed and ready for an enjoyable round.

Follow this simple, yet effective routine and you’ll find yourself enjoying this great game more than you ever thought possible.

Make those putts!                  

All the best,                        

Pat McGowan

Have you seen a bluebird lately?

July 15, 2009

Although rarely seen by young people today, just a few decades ago bluebirds were the most prevalent songbird in America.

 A shortage of natural cavities for nesting and competition from house sparrows and starlings and other causes have eradicated 90% of the bluebird population. Only a massive effort by man to improve the availability of nesting sites can help the bluebird in its struggle to make a comeback. 

Pine Needles and Mid Pines are helping to bring back the bluebirds. We have 82 bluebird boxes on the golf courses and near the lodges. During the last 15 years we have an average of 325 fledglings each year, totaling over 4500 bluebirds. This year we are at 274 fledglings and still may get a few more, however a cold November and below average winter maybe the cause of our low numbers this year. 

When you come to Pine Needles and Mid Pines, you are more than likely to see a few bluebirds happily flying around looking for insects to feed their young.

-Written by David Frichte, Director of Golf Course and Grounds at Pine Needles and Mid Pines

Enjoy the efforts of Pine Needles and Mid Pines in saving the bluebirds

Enjoy the efforts of Pine Needles and Mid Pines in saving the bluebirds

The 82nd Airborne Arrives at Mid Pines

July 2, 2009

The beginning of the week brought the men and women of the 82nd Airborne to Mid Pines and Pine Needles.  Both properties worked closely together to host over 200 members of the Army and other government dignitaries for a day long symposium.  

To kick off the event, Mid Pines served a patriotic North Carolina Pig Pickin’ barbeque on Monday night under the tent and lawn off the 18th hole.  It was a perfect setting for all the attendees to relax and gather together before the symposium commenced on Tuesday.  

Pine Needles hosted the meetings in the Reception Center on Tuesday, with top-notch service provided by our staff and KLA Labs.  Any interested members of the 82nd Airborne were also invited to play both courses on Wednesday before departing back to Ft. Bragg.  

The whole event was a great success for both the 82nd Airborne and our properties.  We were honored to have them stay at both Mid Pines and Pine Needles and wish them well on their deployment in August.  We definitely look forward to having them back in the future!