Rory McIlroy, “Golf’s Next Superstar?” Welcome To The Conversation.

Photo Courtesy:

Photo Courtesy:

Rory McIlroy is now on the larger radar of the sports and news world as “Golf’s Next Superstar!” Golf Writer Keith Cook says, “Welcome to the Conversation.”

RORY MCILROY – “You mean that guy, who dated that girl …”

For those of you who don’t follow golf, say as much as a golf writer, you’re waking up today hearing about this new guy on the golf scene, Rory McIlroy. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of McIlroy before. Don’t worry if you’ve only heard of him because of his high-profile relationship with another professional sports star, which ended earlier in the year.  I say don’t worry, because you’re not alone.  As of today, the larger sports and news world has just joined the conversation as well, and is discovering Rory McIlroy, “Golf’s Next Superstar!”




With his victory at the 2014 PGA Championship, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, Rory McIlroy has accomplished something many golfers never have the opportunity to do, which is to be famous as a golfer, outside of the golfing world. McIlroy’s skyrocketing success in 2014 has now officially caught the attention of the larger sports and news worlds, moving him into the lofty heights of being, not only in the sporting news, but also a part of the news “everyone” else watches.

It’s good for golf when a golf story makes its way onto SportsCenter. But, it’s great for golf when a golf story makes its way into the national news, the morning news shows, and reaches the masses of people who don’t follow golf regularly.

For those of you just finding out about Rory McIlroy, let me let you in on a little secret.  He’s pretty good, is dominating the sport of golf right now, and I think you’ll be hearing about a lot more about him in the future.  Here’s some more about Rory McIlroy.


Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke (Courtesy:

Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke (Courtesy:

Rory McIlroy is a young sports superstar, bringing with him all the flash and brashness we associate with the modern athlete. However, with McIlroy, we also see a quiet, reserved, and respectful person who seems to be well grounded in who he is, and where he comes from.

McIlroy is a proud Northern Irishman, is very well liked on tour, and smart enough to both respect and listen to those older than him.  Those who may have “been there, done that”, like good friend and Major Champion, Darren Clarke.

There are a lot of thoughts of where Rory McIlroy’s current streak started and where his big boost of confidence came from, but I’m a big believer, it had a lot to do with Rory finally winning a few pounds off his close friend Darren Clarke. If true, Rory may owe Darren some thanks . . . and some royalties. What say you, Darren?

With Rory McIlroy winning the 2014 PGA Championship, he wins the fourth Major Championship of his career, at the age of 25. That’s a big deal in the golf world, because McIlroy is now in the history books as only the fourth player in the last century of golf to win four majors at the age of 25 or younger. The others are Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Bobby Jones, three of the game’s greatest players.

THE NEXT . . .

Only the future will show us what’s in store for McIlroy, but right now the inclination seems to be to try and attach a label to McIlroy as the “Next Tiger.” I’d like to see the labeling of McIlroy slow down a bit, and I’m hoping instead of Rory being crowned the “Next …”, we’ll all allow the 25-year old to the be the “First Rory McIlroy” for a while and just sit back and enjoy the journey along with him.



Editor’s Note:  What are your thoughts of one of golf’s superstars now being recognized on the larger world stage? Please share a comment in the comments section. We would love to hear from you. 

BIO: Keith Cook is a Writer and Contributing Editor for He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Alumnus living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer

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Robert Trent Jones III Puts Name on Local Tournament

RTJ III talk about the importance of bringing young people into the game.

RTJ III talk about the importance of bringing young people into the game.

DSCF6214Famed course designer, poet, and artist enthusiastically supports Southern Oregon’s Eagle Point High School Legacy Benefit. participated in the 2nd annual Robert Trent Jones Jr. Eagle Point High School Legacy Benefit at Eagle Point Golf Club on Friday. Jones, the original designer of the course, and former owner, has taken a renewed interest in the course since Bob Hyer purchased the course last year. Hyer and Jones have been DSCF6202acquaintances, and friends, since a chance meeting in Washington at Chambers Bay.

Since acquiring the course, Hyer has done significant improvements to the aesthetics and playability of the 18 hole championship track. Improvements include added shrubbery and landscaping around the club house and outbuildings, refurbished golf carts, manicured fairways, firm fast greens and and a general tone of classic quality that the course enjoyed in its early days. Hyer’s steady stewardship has provided a motivational turn-around that has put a spring in the step of staff members who are dedicated to helping him make a success of his business venture. Long time head pro, Patrick Oropallo, is now General Manager, and he has brought on Logan Genaw, formerly of Grants Pass Country Club, as his DSCF6207First Assistant.



And it doesn’t hurt to have former owner Robert Trent Jones III taking a renewed interest, either. Short of saying so, because he doesn’t want to play favorites, or downplay the quality of the other myriad courses he’s designed, Jones does admit to Eagle Point Golf Club having a special place in his heart, since it is the only course he has ever owned. During the award portion of the tournament, he told the guests that he was happy to see the course in the shape it is in, and is pleased with the friendship that has come out of his getting to know Bob and his wife, Chana (pronounced Shawna), over the last year. He went on to say that young golfers are golf’s future, and tournaments like these are vital to growing the game.


1st Place Gross winners, R to L, Jim Bullen, Brooks Hodapp, Jim Overmyer, Hunter DeLange and GM Patrick Oropallo.

1st Place Gross winners, R to L, Jim Bullen, Brooks Hodapp, Jim Overmyer, Hunter DeLange and GM Patrick Oropallo.

The tournament was quality all the way. Students met the players out front and carried their bags to the practice tee. Lunch and dinner, golf cart and donation was provided with the green fees. Lunch was a chicken wrap with vinaigrette dressing. Dinner was a three course meal served by the chef of the Talon Grill.


Honey Pot award.

At the end of the day, tournament winners were Brooks Hodapp, Hunter DeLange, Jim Bullen, and Jim Overmeyer–Gross, and Norm Blandel, Mike Frey, Tisha Oehman, and Susan Shoemaker–Net.

A good time was had by all, and over $2,000 was raised to benefit Eagle Point High School’s boys and girls golf programs.

There was one unexpected award.  One of the golfers got into a bee’s nest and was stung more than once.  At the dinner, Hyer awarded him with the “Honey Pot Award,” and Jones read a “pointed” poem he wrote for the occasion. team members Cliff Cowley, Bryan Edwards, Dave Rush and Arn Wihtol place out of the running, but were happy with their performance, overall. Notably, Dave Rush and Bryan Edwards both drove the green on the 278 yard (Grey Tees), Par 4, 5th hole.  Dave sank his putt for an eagle.  “I think we left a few shots out there today,” said’s West Coast Director of Operations, Cliff Cowley, “but we hope to keep the team together and perhaps we can win one of these things in the future. The course is in great shape. The best I’ve seen it in years. It’s amazing what Bob [Hyer] has done to make Eagle Point Golf Club one of the premier golf courses in the Oregon, if not the Northwest.”

Dave Rush points to his drive on the Par 4 5th hole while Arn Wihtol looks on.

Dave Rush points to his drive on the Par 4 5th hole while Arn Wihtol looks on.'s team with Robert Trent Jones III, and Bob Hyer’s team with Robert Trent Jones III, and Bob Hyer


Gamble Sands: Destination Golf Arrives in Central Washington

DSCF5975_cropDavid McLay Kidd’s true links design caters to the scratch player as well as the high handicapper.


David McLay Kidd

David McLay Kidd had finally had enough. Time after time, and course after course, he’d see the magazine rankings and hear about the accolades of his latest design. But the Scotsman wasn’t satisfied with the love he was receiving from the pundits; he had more important targets in mind. “I quit hearing players say the word fun,” said Kidd, adding “I wanted to make a course that would be fun to play.”

Kidd saw this goal come to fruition in his latest design, Gamble Sands, which opened this past Saturday in the north central Washington town of Brewster. The player friendly layout, which sits atop a bluff overlooking the Columbia River, has five sets of tees that allow it to be played from between 4,700 to over 7,150 yards. Fairways are nearly the size of football fields, and many green complexes are over a quarter acre in size. This was intentional, as were the friendly contours that accompany them.

DSCF6004_cropIn his speech before the official opening of Gamble Sands with his ceremonial first drive, Kidd talked at length of his philosophical 180 from designing for challenge to producing a course that is not only fun for the scratch golfer, but for his family as well. The shaping of the fairways will feed an errant drive back into play, rather than out of bounds. Greens similarly will feed a poor shot closer to the hole rather than farther. This is not to say, however, that a good player won’t find a challenge at Gamble Sands. Holes like the16th, a long Par 3, with a shallow kidney shaped green, guarded by a pot bunker in the front, makes it just as hard for a quality player to make birdie as it does for the average player to make double bogey.

Family and Community Pride

The goal according to Cass Gebbers, was to build something that could kick start an economy that finds itself still struggling after last decade’s recession. As the CEO of Gebbers Farms, he oversees one of the country’s largest apple and cherry producers headquartered right in Brewster. The opening couldn’t come at a better time after the area was ravaged by weeks of wildfires. In fact, visibly emotional, Gebbers had to pause a few times in his address to the media. “We [members of the family] just came in from fighting fires,” he said, fighting back tears. “There are a few people who are not here today, because they had to go out on another fire this morning.  Ultimately, we wanted this place to bring a sense of pride to the residents of this area.  I think we’ve accomplished that.”

Completing the Loops

Bolstering an already strong golf lineup which includes the Don Barth designed Bear Mountain Ranch, and the Jack Frei designed Desert Canyon, Gamble Sands turns the region into a true golf destination. Bear Mountain and Desert Canyon, which are approximately 45 minutes and 30 minutes South of Gamble Sands, respectively, have both been lauded on their own, previously dotting many “Best in State” rankings from multiple publications. But it’s the addition of the no-frills Gamble Sands that make the region a must play for golf fans.

“David told us he envisioned the course falling on the land,” said Orrin Vincent, Founder and Chairman of OB Sports. “We moved less than 50,000 [cubic feet of soil]…and that’s only so we could make those bunkers,” Vincent added. OB Sports (who oversaw the development for the Gebbers family) and DMK Designs also decided not to go over the top with the clubhouse. The subdued and modest frontier style design houses a smallish pro-shop that features boutique Northwest brands such as Seamus head covers and Jones Golf Bags. A small restaurant and bar is also included in the building for post-round refreshments.

If Gamble Sands has a theme, it’s that golf is the star. The project, which is nearly a decade in the making, is truly a game changer for Central Washington and the Okanogan Region. A golf experience that is unmatched by anything east of the Cascades makes Gamble Sands a course that is not to be missed.

3rd Hole-photo credit Bryan McLean_crop

3rd Hole-photo credit Bryan McLean

At a Glance
The Course:
5 sets of tees play between 7,169 (Medal) to 4,797 (Forward) yards. The rating/slope from the Medal tees is 74.2/128 and 66.9/110 from the Forward tees. The course has no “turn,” meaning you do not return to the clubhouse until the 18th hole. Walking is encouraged, and is very easy due to the relatively flat terrain; however carts are offered for a fee.

5th Tee-photo credit Bryan McLean

5th Tee-photo credit Bryan McLean

Best Par 5:
The 633 yard 3rd hole offers a tee shot over a ravine to a gigantic fairway. If you find yourself in attacking range, a large mound protruding from the right and two bunkers both front and left of the green encourage the player to lay-up.
Best Par 4:
The 5th hole’s 517 yards and Par of 4 might seem counter intuitive to the “friendly” philosophy of

6th Hole-photo credit Bryan McLean

6th Hole-photo credit Bryan McLean

the course, but the tee shot is both downhill and downwind. The hard left-to-right sloping fairway is best attacked at the left fairway bunker, where your ball will feed to the lower portion of the fairway. Deep faced bunkers both left and right guard the large, but surprisingly gentle green.

Best Par 3:
The 265 yard 6th hole is Kidd’s take on the “Redan” concept. A redan, is best attacked from the

2nd Hole-photo credit Bryan McLean

2nd Hole-photo credit Bryan McLean

right side of the green as plays straight at the pin will be repelled off the back by the front to back slope, or even worse, gobbled up by the enormous front bunker. A shot properly placed in the hill is rewarded by feeding down the slope and into prime birdie position.

Camera’s Ready:
The drivable Par 4, 2nd hole sees you tee off directly at the bend of the Columbia River and towards the town of Brewster. One of the most picturesque tee shots in all of golf, it’s also one of the most fun holes you will ever play.


Editor’s Note:

Bryan McLeanBryan McLean is a young traveling professional based near Seattle, WA. His job takes him around the Northwest where he has indulged his affinity for golf by playing nearly 200 courses in Washington and Oregon. Sensing a dearth of honest content in the Northwest golf scene, he started his website in 2012. He can also be found ranting on twitter @golfbybryan.”

Is It Just Me? Tiger, Rory, and Sergio.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 7.12.31 AMIn his “Is it Just Me?” series, Golf Writer Keith Cook discusses some of golf’s hottest topics.


Tiger Woods: I’m not sure if Tiger is a reader of (if not, he should be), but if so, I have one thing I’d like to ask. Tiger, please “shut it down” for the year.  We get it, you’re super-competitive, which is why you’re great. However, even Superman would have to take some time off after major back surgery.

Tiger has to decide between two paths; short-term or long-term. No doubt Tiger could focus short-term on the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup, and the rest of 2014. But, short-term is not where Tiger’s mind should be. I’m hoping Tiger, and those around him, begin to focus BIG TIME on the long-term. The long-term outlook tells us that Tiger is only 38 and still “could” have many significant and competitive years ahead if he gets and stays healthy. Jack Nicklaus won his 18th Major Championship at the age of 46, and if you give a fresh start to a healthy and recuperated Tiger Woods beginning in 2015, the “Greatest Golfer of All Time” debate may start again. Sadly however, if Tiger continues to focus on the here and now, an amazingly great golfer – with a bad back – almost becomes stereotypical.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 5.13.45 PMRORY MCILROY … “Hello World”

Rory McIlroy: Say what you want, but Rory McIlroy is beginning to dominate – and dare I say, intimidate – fields like we’ve seen in the past from Jack Nicklaus, and in recent times with Tiger Woods. McIlroy is so dominant right now that he’s beating the field with his driver, his irons, his putter … and also his “presence” on the leaderboard. When he’s on, he’s tough to deal with because he just keeps coming.

In a ridiculous stat from the WGC-Firestone, McIlroy averaged 334.8 yards off the tee for the week, hitting over 60 percent of the fairways in the process. With those numbers, it should be no surprise McIlroy finished #1 in the Tour’s all-around ball striking stat for the week. Want to get even more ridiculous? In the third round of the WGC, McIlroy hit all 14 of his drives off the tee over 300-yards.

Now #1 in the Official World Golf Rankings, and playing lights out golf, is Rory McIlory ready to stay at the top and become the next Major Superstar in golf?

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 11.17.56 AMSERGIO 2.0 … The Year Continues

Sergio Garcia: I’m not sure there could be another player in the world having the kind of year Sergio Garcia is having, and still be both liked and disliked to the degree he is. Talk about stats; Garcia was both one of the most popular players at Firestone last week, but also made the least popular list as well. How’s that happen? It’s no secret Sergio brought some (well, most) of the negative attention on himself by past actions, but doesn’t the obvious change and growth in a person deserve some credit as well?

However, bottom line, whether you’re pro-Sergio or con-Sergio (not many sit in the middle); he is having an amazing year in 2014. At or near the top of every leaderboard, at every tournament he enters, and now #3 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Sergio is only missing one thing – a Major Championship. Can Sergio get it done this week at the PGA Championship at Valhalla or is it too late for him? If you think it’s over, keep in mind Phil Mickelson won his first Major (The Masters in 2004) just short of his 34th birthday. Phil has now won 5-Majors in his career and is just a U.S. Open away from completing the Grand Slam. Sergio turned 34 in January. Too late … not even close.

Editor’s Note:  What are your thoughts on Tiger, Rory, and Sergio? Should Tiger “shut it down” for the year? Please share a comment in the comments section. We would love to hear from you. 

BIO: Keith Cook is a Golf Writer and Contributing Editor for He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Alumnus living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and  @LocalGolfer

Read more from Keith, Click here