Podolak, Kuhn to play side by side

Podolak, Kuhn to play side by side

Mike Podolak and RickKuhn have gone head-to-head over many a golf course over the years. This weekend, though, it will be a side-by-side configuration for the North America Cup competition at Hawktree Golf Course.

Today and Sunday eight top North Dakota golfers take on eight of their Manitoba counterparts in an international showdown at Hawktree. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 8 a.m. Sunday’s action begins at 9 a.m.

“It’s just like the Ryder Cup format with one point if you win a match and half a point if you tie,” said Steve Bain, executive director of the North Dakota Golf Association. “It could be 8-0 on Saturday and Sunday there will be eight more points.”

Manitoba and North Dakota field eight-man teams.

The North Dakota team includes three Bismarck golfers – Rick Kuhn,Mike Huber and Parker Dire. Kuhn was the 2007 NDGAgolfer of the year.

This morning four foursomes will play four best ball matches with four points at stake. The afternoon event consists of four alternating-shot matches with four more points up for grabs.

Sunday’s schedule calls for eight singles matches, each worth a point.

North Dakota’s team, which also includes Podolak, Greg Melhus,Clint Nelson,Jeff Lamp and Chad Skarperud, was selected on the basis of a point formula applied to the 2007 NDGAtournaments.

“They have different criteria (for team selection) up there than we do,”Bain said. “… Ours is based on a point system in (NDGA)tournaments we sponsor in North Dakota.

“We probably have 150 golfers with points and whoever comes out on top is on the team. TomHoge from Fargo is one of the top collegiate golfers and he was invited but because of a schedule conflict he couldn’t participate.”

Bain said one name jumped off the Manitoba roster. “Irecognized Garth Collings…. He’s one of the top golfers in Manitoba,” he said.

Several of the North Dakota golfers have previously played together in a team format.

“Rick Kuhn has played on at least one team and Mike Podolak has been the captain four or five years,”Bain said. “Melhus and Nelson have played on the team before.”

North America Cup play occurs in even years. In odd years the NDGAsends a three-man team to the USGA state team event. Podolak, Nelson and Melhus are all three-time veterans of the USGAteam event.

Bain said making a team of golfers who are normally opponents makes for a positive situation.

“These guys all compete against each other all year long and for one tournament they get together as teammates and it’s a different atmosphere,” Bain said. “… You’ve got the same pride associated with it that you do on the national level with the Ryder Cup. The guys really go after it.It‘s a lot of fun, and we have a good weekend.”

This is the 12th North American Cup matchup, the first in Bismarck. North Dakota has won six of the first 11 with one draw, but Manitoba has won two of the last three matches.


Manitoba:GarthCollings, Winnipeg; Jesse Skelton,St. Francois Xavier; Scott Markham,WInnipeg; Brad Kirton,Winnipeg; Peter More, Winnipeg; Tyler Mancini, Winnipeg; Stewart Bannatyne, Winnipeg; Scott Borsa,Selkirk; DonCook (non-playing captain), Winnipeg.

NorthDakota:RickKuhn (captain),Bismarck, Mike Podolak,Oxbow; Mike Huber, Bismarck; Greg Melhus, Oxbow; Parker Dire, Bismarck; Clint Nelson, Fargo; Jeff Lamp, Fargo;Chad Skarperud, Fargo


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Hardy juggles career, golf ambitions

Though there was a time not long ago when she might have wondered what it would be like to turn professional and try to grind her way onto the LPGA Tour, the 27-year-old is quite content pursuing her career in pharmacy and keeping golf as her favourite hobby.

“It’s fun to have both,” Hardy said after a recent practice session at Elmhurst. “I like what I do.”

Truth be told, golf is still more than just a hobby for Hardy, who is playing out of Elmhurst this year.

But working in the CancerCare wing at the Health Sciences Centre has also helped Hardy view her sport of choice a little differently.

“I have fewer expectations,” said Hardy. “I’m working full-time and I had a job where I’m working with a lot of patients who are sick, so it puts things in perspective.”

Despite her own dampened expectations, Hardy is in the field and will be considered one of the favourites when the Manitoba Women’s Amateur Championship gets underway tomorrow at Transcona Golf Club.

The Senior Women’s Amateur is also set for Transcona.

Hardy, who won the women’s crown in 2001 and 2004, will try to wrestle the title away from Kaitlin Troop of Brandon — the two-time defending champ who recently completed her second season with the UBC Thunderbirds golf team.

“I just want to go out there and enjoy it,” said Hardy. “I’m playing not too bad. I’m hitting it fairly well, having a little trouble with some hooks here and there but my putting has improved a lot. I’m not as tentative. I’m trying to be a little more aggressive. It’s a different mindset.

“I really enjoy being out there and I enjoy the competition. It’s nice to have butterflies in your stomach and to go out there and compete.”

Hardy competed in the CN Women’s Tour event held at Glendale last week and has her sights set on playing the fourth and final stop on the tour in Ottawa in a couple of weeks.

“The calibre of player has really improved a lot the last few years,” said Hardy, who played in the event in London, Ont., earlier this spring. “It’s helped improve the calibre of the game in Canada.”

Hardy admits it’s “challenging” trying to juggle golf and work, but she’s having more fun on the course these days, even if she’s not playing as often.

“I practise and play a little bit during the week, but not as much as I’d like but it’s good,” said Hardy.

One of the other big changes is that Hardy has been working with a new coach, Andrew Park of the renowned Leadbetter Academy in Florida.

“I go down there about two or three times a year and then do some Internet stuff as well,” said Hardy. “I’m not as focused on technique this year, I’m just trying to hit my targets and go with it. It’s actually working out better than I expected it to.

“There are a lot of (swing) changes I’ve been making. I used to play a lot of competitive fastball. We’re working on a lot of the same hip action. We’re trying to get more power through the ball and transfer some of those athletic moves from baseball and incorporate that into golf.”

During her trips to the Leadbetter Academy, Hardy had the opportunity to meet Michelle Wie, who has generated plenty of attention since coming onto the scene as a highly touted amateur.


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Transcona Golf Club

Since we’ve spent much of the first several weeks scouring the rural courses, we figured it was time to go somewhere within the city limits. With the Manitoba Women’s and Senior Women’s Championships set for Transcona Golf Club this week, it was a natural fit.

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Children start their athletic ‘careers’ earlier than ever

“Just the time alone spent on skating made for a little more pressure … just the fact that we were there for skating,” Lindsey said.

n The parents of Davenport’s Randi Jensen drove her to Chicago several nights a week last year so she could play for the Team Illinois 16-under hockey team. She spent this past school year at the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vt.

n Former Quad-City Mallards icon Garry Gulash and his wife, Cheryl, drive their 9-year-old son, Gavin, to Minnesota three weekends a month in the summer and took him to Chicago two nights a week in the spring so he could play for hockey teams in those locales. Gavin played for a U.S. team in an international tournament in Winnipeg earlier this month. It’s the second year in a row he has done so.

“If he didn’t love it, we wouldn’t do it,” Cheryl Gulash said. “If he didn’t have such a passion for it, with gas prices the way they are, I think I could think of other ways to spend my weekend.”

Early, early starts

Gavin Gulash got his first pair of skates when he was 11 months old, although he couldn’t skate well until he was 3.

It’s an indication of just how young kids are starting their sports careers.

Madison Keys was swatting tennis balls at the age of 4.

Most local gymnastics academies say it’s normal for aspiring Shawn Johnsons and Carly Pattersons to begin taking classes at the age of 3, although some facilities will accept pupils before they turn 2.

John Doak of the Alleman Jr. Pioneers Wrestling Club said many wrestlers now get started at the age of 5, although several top collegiate wrestlers claim to have started when they were 4. Every local high school of any size has a youth wrestling program to feed it.

While Davenport’s First Tee golf program typically does not take golfers younger than the age of 7, players as young as 5 are taking lessons from private instructors such as DeNike.

Ian and Connor Bedell of Davenport were hitting live pitching (albeit with a plastic ball from a short distance) from their father, Daniel, before they reached the age of 3. Now 8, they already have played hundreds of organized baseball games for travel teams and in various youth leagues.

They play more than 50 games each summer, and in the winter months, they spend two nights a week at the K Zone in Bettendorf, keeping their batting eyes and pitching arms fine-tuned. Both have had their fastballs clocked at more than 50 mph.

The twins have dabbled in other sports. They took karate classes when they were 4, and they’ve played YMCA basketball and soccer. They were introduced to football in the Rising Knights program last fall.

“But we play baseball the year round,” Daniel Bedell said.

Competitive necessity

Whether or not the modern trend toward very early starts and specialization is good or bad is highly debatable. What seems beyond dispute is that it has become necessary in order to compete at a high level in the current athletic arena.


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Winnipeg Stop for Golf Tournament – Pine Needles to host ‘Swinging for Supper’

It’s about golf, singing and special entertainment, lots and lots of food and beverage, and it’s for a special cause, the Mobile Food Pantry Operation.

It’s a new event on the local charity golf circuit this summer and it’s offering a totally different touch.

Noted Canadian musician Tom Jackson will be the celebrity guest for the ‘Swinging For Supper’ tournament at the Pine Needles Golf Club on Tuesday, July 15.

Besides playing in the tournament, Jackson will be the headline singer at a concert and barbecue hosted by the Great Canadian Pub on Orange Lane on Monday, July 14 at 6 p.m. A highlight of the evening will feature an auction for Jackson, a keen golfer, to be a part of their team.

The Great Canadian Pub, Crowne Plaza Hotel and T-Bones Restaurant, Molson Canadian, Rallye Motors, Town of Riverview and Safety Resourses Consulting were announced as part of the local sponsorship group yesterday.

The Swinging for Supper concert and golf tournament here is one of six events Jackson will host this summer. Other stops are in Halifax, Calgary, Regina, Selkirk and Winnipeg, Man.

Mary-Lee Dawson, one of the tournament organizers, said an application was made to the Jackson tour to come to the Maritimes.

“This is a first for Moncton and a first for Halifax and another good thing is we have a three-year commitment,” she said.

“Tom Jackson has been doing charity and raising money for foods banks for over 20 years. He’s very devoted to projects like this.”

Dawson said all expenses for Jackson, a singer and songwriter who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000, are covered by national sponsors.

“What we raise locally stays locally,” she said.

Officials set an objective of pulling in $10,000 for the Mobile One operation.

Mobile One is the only provider of meals to people in need during evening hours and weekends. It’s hours of operation are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at six different locations, six days a week. Dawson often hears that some are abusing the service and she knows better.

“We serve two slices of bread, a slice of lunch meat, a bowl of soup and a beverage,” she said. “We have people standing in line in public parking lots in the cold and the rain. I don’t think they are abusing it. They need it and with the help of various efforts like this golf tournament we can keep on providing it.”

Cost of the tournament is $600 for four-player teams and $150 per player.

The price also includes free entry into the Monday evening concert with Jackson and musical guest Shannon Gaye.

The concert and barbecue will also be open to the general public at a cost of $25 a ticket.

To secure a spot, participants can fax or mail registration and payment to: Mobile One Community Services, Swinging for Supper, 128 Preston Cresent, Moncton E1C 6H8, fax 506-854-7222.

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