Time to catch up  as we move into the fall season.  2014 has been a busy year for Spirit Golf and we have lots of good news to share.

Earlier this year, we began an agreement with Warminster’s Five Pond Golf Club to provide a Professional Golf Management contract.

In July, we successfully opened the new J.R. Smith Learning Center for the Monmouth Ocean First Tee Chapter. The construction began in September of 2013 and we were all very pleased to see the three hole course located in Ocean County Park open on time for the summer sessions.

Mill Race Golf and Camping Resort

Mill Race Golf and Camping Resort

In August, we also signed an agreement with Mill Race Golf and Camping Resort. We are very pleased to be working with the Williams’ family to continue the wonderful traditions they have created the past 30+ years.

We are also pleased to announce two new additions to our executive team in 2014. Frank Draper took the position of Director of Business Development in March of this year. Frank has been an advisor and involved in the golf industry for over 15 years.  Most recently Ron Stepanek was hired to head up our Southern Regional Office out of Palm Beach County Florida.  Ron will be Spirit Golf’s new Director of Player Development. Ron most recently was Director of Player Development for 10 years for the PGA of America. We are excited to have both gentlemens’ vast expertise in the game and business of golf as part of our team.

Spirit Golf’s facilities  also had some wonderful accolades in 2014.

  • Both Five Ponds and Makefield Highlands Golf Clubs were named the Best of Bucks by Bucks County Courier Times Newspapers.
  • Our team won four PGA Awards in 2014. Bob Doria , Public Merchandiser of the Year ( Bob’s second) and Ed Gibson, Player Development Award for the Philadelphia PGA Section. Mike Attara won both the Player Development ( Mike’s Sixth) and the Patriot Award for the New Jersey PGA Section.
  • Makefield Highlands Golf Club won the Top 50 Best Driving Range (Public Golf Course) in the Country.
  • Makefield Highlands Golf Club is also being honored as the 2014-2015 Club of the Year by the Pennsylvania Golf Course Owners’ Association.

It has been a terrific year and we are most excited by the number of rounds played at our facilities and the great conditions our golfers have come to expect. Our programming and instructional activities continue to grow at each of our facilities and we look forward to keeping the activities and fun going through the fall season.

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Stephen Edelson for Asbury Park Press | The patch of land near the entrance to Ocean County Park sits less than two miles from the Lakewood Community Center, where J.R. Smith first picked up a basketball as a 5-year-old.

Twenty-three years later, the Knicks guard made one smooth pass at the golf ball after another, launching short iron shots to one of three greens that will make up the First Tee of Monmouth & Ocean Counties facility, with the J.R. Smith Foundation signing on as the naming sponsor for the project.

“I’ve been given a great opportunity because of what I’ve done on the basketball court, and it’s put me in these situations where I can help with things like this,” said Smith, an avid golfer. “A lot of the guys I grew up with are still in the area and have kids, and as parents we all want our kids to be able to do stuff that we haven’t experienced.” Continue Reading »

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On Monday, September 09, 2013, Eagle Ridge Golf Club kicked off its Third Annual NJ Senior Masters Event.  The event raised $18,000 for the NJ Golf Foundation and First Tee of Monmouth & Ocean County.

Mike Attara, winner Javier Sanchez, and Eagle Ridge Golf Head Pro Kevin Beirne at the check presentation.

Mike Attara, winner Javier Sanchez, and Eagle Ridge Golf Head Pro Kevin Beirne at the check presentation.

Sponsor and member teams competed along with pros in an 18-hole event on the September 10th.  The Championship Round was held on September, 11th, 12th and 13th.  Congratulations to Javier Sanchez who won the event at 9 under par and to Danny Edwards who won the Super Senior Masters at 1 under par.

Local and national companies, as well as individual golfers, have embraced and supported this event and the tournament charity, New Jersey Golf Foundation.  Over $43,000 was raised in the past three years through this event to support golf in schools, including Lakewood, Jackson, Howell, Brick, Neptune, and Plumsted School Districts.

 $10,000 of this year’s proceeds will be staying right within the Lakewood community to help fund the “First Tee Three Hole Learning Center” in Lakewood Park.

 

“We really appreciate the work and effort PGA Professional and Spirit Golf President Mike Attara, has done to pull the local business community in to support both the charity and bringing the Senior Professionals to Lakewood, NJ,” says Tom Eubank, President of the Charity Pro Am Tour.

NJGF, Spirit Golf Management and Eagle Ridge Golf Club have been helping raise funds through the Senior Masters event to support the NJGF golf in schools program and the Monmouth & Ocean First Tee Chapter. In addition to helping raise $10,000 for the new teaching facility, Mike Attara of Spirit Golf Management has been  acting project manager for the new First Tee Three Hole Learning Center in Ocean County Park working with course designer Brain Ault and course contractor Tony Pavelec.

The new facility is scheduled to open late spring/early summer of 2014 and will provide the children of Lakewood with a chance to learn the game and life lessons provided as part of the First Tee and NJGF program.

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A Visit and Tour from the New Jersey Audubon Society

by Mike Attara on August 23, 2013

Last month, residents and members at Eagle Ridge Golf Club got to see course conditions through the eyes of New Jersey Audubon Stewardship Director John Parke.  They toured the property with John to see the habitat restoration and wildlife that calls Eagle Ridge home.

New Jersey Audubon Society at Eagle Ridge Golf Club

New Jersey Audubon Society at Eagle Ridge Golf Club

John also did a workshop prior at the clubhouse teaching residents how they can make simple changes in their own backyard and be a part of the Eagle Ridge Community Wildlife Habitat initiative.

Eagle Ridge Golf Club, assisted by the New Jersey Audubon Society has entered into a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to partake in a habitat restoration project on the course.  Since 2010, over 50 different species of birds, including bald eagle, eastern meadowlark, purple martin and blue grosbeak have been observed on the property as well as numerous reptile, amphibian, and mammal species.

These rare Red Headed woodpeckers were spotted near the 17th hole.

These rare Red Headed woodpeckers were spotted near the 17th hole.

Eagle Ridge Golf Club lies within the Atlantic Coastal Bay focus area of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program and represents a large tract of open space that is considered the “Core Habitat” area of the community.  Critical foraging and nesting habitat are available on the course to a variety of migratory birds.The partnerships with the New Jersey Audubon and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have added to the overall golf experience at the club.

“My love of wildlife, in particular birds, has caused me to really focus my attention on the environment. I am encouraging nesting for the native wildlife at Eagle Ridge in hopes of increasing species populations, and I believe it is working.  Golfers are coming up to me saying they have never seen so much wildlife here at Eagle Ridge compared to other courses.  It is a labor of love for me.”

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Bridging the Golf Gap from Gym to Course

by Mike Attara on May 3, 2013

When the PGA asked several sections in the country to pilot a program for the PGA Junior League Golf, Eagle Ridge Golf Club was ready. The concept wasn’t new to Eagle Ridge or Mike Attara, PGA Professional and founder of Spirit Golf, because they had already established a junior golf team that had been active for several years.  One of Mike’s goals as Chairman of the Golf in Schools committee for the NJGF has been to establish a link between middle school students who were being introduced to the game in their gym class and actually getting interested students on the local courses.

Eagle Ridge PGA  Junior League Golf in action.

Eagle Ridge PGA Junior League Golf in action.

The New Jersey Golf Foundation had already helped in achieving this goal in Brick Township, NJ.  Gary Paxton, a middle school teacher and advocate for the NJ Golf in Schools program, worked with Mike and his team to establish a program that brought interested students directly to the course. Having an established NJGF Golf in Schools Program lead to the development of a small grant that funded the intramural golf program for a group of students from the middle school.   With the funding in place to cover some of the instruction, course fees and practice balls, the PGA staff at Eagle Ridge were able to give these students an on course learning experience they may not otherwise have had.

Eagle Ridge already had several groups of interested young golfers including the Brick students and the Eagle Ridge Junior League players who had already been playing together in a league format. They even had a coach.  Teaching professional, Rylee Plitz had already been acting as the coach of the Eagle Ridge junior golf team so it was pretty easy for her to round up a dozen players for PGA Junior League Golf.

If you want to build a junior golf program and grow your business, an excellent way to start is to get involved in the PGA Junior League Golf.  This year the PGA is expanding the program throughout the country. If you happen to be lucky enough to be in NJ or another Section with a foundation like the NJGF then there is help out there for you to establish a junior golf league at your club or maybe a golf in school program in your community.

To take golf to the next level, we need to establish golf in school programs like we have done in New Jersey on a national level.  Then we need to build on that program by creating a bridge to our local courses that students and their families can easily walk across using programs like the PGA Junior League Golf. This year we are excited to be fielding two teams from Eagle Ridge Golf Club.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or to learn more about how we have established our golf in schools and PGA Junior League Golf Teams.

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