The Aramco Retiree Golf Group held its ninth event at Horseshoe Bay (HSB) Resort on Lake LBJ in Marble Falls near Austin, Texas. Golf activities included three rounds of golf at HSB Resort Ram Rock, Slick Rock and Apple Rock golf courses. The first two days were Stableford golf format and the last day was a Scramble that is an easy format for everyone, especially after all the late nights visiting with our ARAMCO friends.
Our next trip is planned for April 15-19, 2024, to Palm Springs, CA. We will be staying at the Renaissance Esmeralda (Marriott) in Indian Wells and playing the two courses at the Indian Wells Gold Resort next door, the Celebrity and Players courses. We will also play the nearby Classic Golf course. The trip is currently full with 48 golfers, but we are taking standby golfers if you are interested, and always a good chance to get in.
The top five winners in order for this event were Paddy Rogan, Gary Lorentz, Dan Cook, Brad Coy and Rosie Daud. Paddy and Rosie traveled over from Ireland, Gary is from Northern Alberta, Canada, Dan drove from Tennessee and Brad flew in from Florida. Congratulations and their names and scores have already been passed on to the Handicap Committee for the next event.
The group offers a BIG thanks to both Gregg Skinner and Chuck Baldwin for handling the golf competition that included player handicaps, groupings, collecting and distributing prizes, and liaising with Kaitlyn James for the Golf Genius online scoring.
Special thanks to Brandon Poel, HSB Golf Sales Manager for arranging the special resort and golf package for the group, Carolina Hernandez, HSB Group Housing Coordinator for interacting with the group about their golf and resort accommodations, and Kaitlyn James, HSB Golf Tournament Coordinator for handling the Golf Genius online scoring system that determined winners and prizes for all the golfers. The weather was absolutely beautiful, resort accommodations were very nice and the golf courses were in excellent shape including bent greens.
The traditional Monday night Icebreaker was held onsite at the Whitewater 360 Sports Club to visit with old friends and to meet new friends. Half the fun of these golf trips is visiting with other ARAMCO ExPats that you have a lot in common with even though you may have never met them while working in Saudi Arabia. It was also a good opportunity to plan your activities for the week including daily excursions for the non-golfers and making dinner plans for the week.
We were able to corral most of those attending the icebreaker for a quick photo above as the sun set. Photo above, Bottom Row L to R. Ampron Cook, Paula Owen, Cindy Grosch, Nabila Bukhari, Holly Marshall, Gayle Baldwin, Rose Auflick, Taran Gill, Jerry Thompson and Kathy Owen. Second Row L to R, Yale Logan, Brad Coy, Adrian Vandenbroek, Thomas Hogan aka Long Ball, Mickie Haas, Shayne Skinner, Margaret and Al Griffith, Gary Lorentz, Rosie Daud, Tom Owen, Chuck Baldwin, Mike Haas, Val Bellaci and Gregg Skinner. Back Row L to R. Roger Thompson, James Durley aka Honey Bear, Jim Schultz, Don Marshall, Paul Titley, Paddy Rogan, Ike Bellaci, Jon Grosch, Harmohan Gill, Tahir Bukhari, Mike Auflick and Dan Cook.
Not shown. Anthony Bellaci, Brett Bouldin, Scott Crossett, Gill Dominy, Mike Ferguson aka El Taco, Wayne Giles, Johnny Grabner, Ryan Haas, Bruce and Ellie Jefferies, Scott Jennings, Dawn and John Mack, Randy McClarren, Tim McGhee, Robert Ross, Keith Stripling and his wife, Dan Thost, Dean Warnken, Timmy Williams, Richard Zamora and Ron Zbitowsky.
We had late morning tee times because of the cool fall weather that allowed most to have a leisurely breakfast in the hotel which was a perfect time to visit with others. Photo below, L to R are Paddy Rogan, Rosie Daud, Paul Titley and Adrian Vandenbroek. The breakfasts were very tasty with a little Texas Hill Country cuisine included.
The weather was cool with no wind and beautiful clear blue Texas skies. We had consecutive tee times and aimed to take a starting tee box photo each day to capture as many players as possible who were preparing to tee off.
Photo below, Bottom Row L to R includes Adrian Vandebroek, Mike Haas, Tim McGhee, Rosie Daud, Tahir Bukhari, Dan Thost, Tom Owen and Roger Thompson. Back Row L to R includes Yale Logan partial, Don Marshall, Dan Cook, Gill Dominy, Gregg Skinner, Brad Coy, Paul Titley, Jim Schultz, Paddy Rogan, James Durley, Harmohan Gill, Richard Zamora, Chuck Baldwin and Jon Grosch.
The first round was played at the Ram Rock golf course with 32 players for the Stableford format competition. This was the most difficult of the 3 courses, which cut through the hill country wooded area with tight fairways and an overabundance of water hazards. I guarantee there were a lot of golf balls that ended up in the woods, rivers and lakes. The bent grass greens were slick and a 3-foot putt could end up 6 feet below the hole.
Prizes were awarded for the top three 4-ball groups based on the best net 2-ball Stableford scores per hole totaled for the 18 holes, the top eight individual player Stableford scores and Nearest the Pin on all par 3’s. Tahir Bukhari and Rosie Daud tied for first place with 37 Stableford points and Tim McGhee, Anthony Bellaci, and Gary Lorentz tied for third, fourth and fifth places with 34 Stableford points. The first-place group was Greg Branch, Tim McGhee, Paddy Rogan and Rosie Daud with 89 combined points and Tahir Bukhari, Richard Zamora, Mike Haas and Harmohan Gill took second with 82 combined points.
Randy McClarren’s group was spellbound as he launched his golf ball on Ram Rock Hole #17 Par 3 and the ball had a direct trajectory toward the pin. They later recounted that the ball appeared to have the perfect distance to reach the 141-yard pin placement. The ball hit the green and rolled up to less than one inch of going in the hole. They were the last group that day and Randy easily won Nearest the Pin. However, if the ball had gone in the hole, he would have won $25 from each player for accomplishing a very difficult and rare feat in the game of golf. However, as tradition goes, he would have been responsible for buying a round of drinks in the bar. The group’s last hole-in-one occurred in October 2019 in Sarasota, Florida at Long Boat Key Resort by Adrian Vandenbroek. Oh, Randy’s ball was so close to going in the hole.
The players met up at the Cabana Bar and Grill after the round to relive some of the best and worst shots of the day, rehydrate and have a little food, and watch the Texas Hill Country sunset. It was a great first day of the tournament.
Photo below, Bottom Row L to R Jon Grosch, Al Griffith, Tim McGhee, Greg Branch, Anthony Bellaci, Wayne Giles, Yale Logan and James Durley. Second Row L to R Harmohan Gill, Paul Titley. Dan Cook and Brad Coy. Third Row L to R Gregg Skinner, Chuck Baldwin, Paddy Rogan and Gary Lorentz. Fourth Row L to R Tahir Bukhari, Mike Haas, Mike Auflick, Adrian Vandenbroek and Rosie Daud.
The second round was played at the Slick Rock golf course. This was the easiest of the three courses with generous fairways and not so many trees. There were plenty of water hazards and the bent grass greens were slick, and you had to hit your ball to the pin because once the ball dug into the green, there was not too much roll.
The early arrival Slick Rock players below included L to R, Dan Cook, Tom Owen, John Mack, Mike Auflick, Yale Logan, Robert Ross, Dan Thost, Paddy Rogan, Brad Coy, Roger Thompson, Don Marshall, Adrian Vandenbroek, Rosie Daud, James Durley, Mike Haas, Dawn Mack, Tim Williams, Gregg Skinner, Tim McGhee, Chuck Baldwin, Paul Titley, Jon Grosch and Gary Lorentz.
There were 27 players on the second day for the Stableford format competition. Gregg Skinner, Brad Coy and Gary Lorentz tied for first place with 37 Stableford points, and Dan Cook and Paddy Rogan tied for fourth and fifth places with 36 Stableford points. Gary Lorentz, Tim McGhee, Jon Grosch and Dan Cook won first place team with 97 combined Stableford points and second place went to Greg Branch, Don Marshall, Wayne Giles and Roger Thompson with 93 Stableford points. The winning team's scores on this day were much better than the first day because it was an easier course.
We had a number of ARAMCO retirees come to the event to attend the social activities. Timmy Williams who lives nearby showed up to see the “gang” before the round started. Below L to R includes Paul Titley, Paddy Rogan, Timmy Williams and Adrian Vandebroek. Other non-golfers who attended were Brett Bouldin, Ron Zbitowsky, Dean Warnken and Paula Owen. Paula who also lives nearby commented that it was an excellent opportunity to come out and see friends from those good old ARAMCO days.
I can’t tell you how many times people have reached out to get emails of old friends they recognized in these golfing photos. As an example, Paddy Rogan sent the below photo of L to R Jim Schultz, Yale Logan, Paddy Rogan and Mike Haas to his friends back in Ireland, Marc Doherty and Patrick O’Rourke. Both of them wrote back and told Paddy to tell Yale hello from them because they all worked together in Udhailiyah. It is a small world in the oil patch, especially the ARAMCO oil patch.
The third round was played at the Apple Rock golf course which was similar to Ram Rock with tight fairways, lots of trees and numerous water hazards. The format was Texas Scramble where the best shot of the four golfers was selected and all hit their ball from the same spot and the sequence was continued until the ball was holed out.
The early arrival Apple Rock players included below front row L to R, Paul Titley, Al Griffith, Mike Ferguson, Jon Grosch, Adrian Vandenbroek, Mike Haas and Keith Stripling. Standing L to R includes Gregg Skinner, Tom Owen, Paddy Rogan, Rosie Daud, Scott Jennings (Yep, your eyes are not deceiving you. Scott still plays golf once a year and won a nearest-the-pin prize.). Robert Ross, Yale Logan, Roger Thompson, Wayne Giles, Dawn Mack, John Mack, Gary Lorentz, Chuck Baldwin, Brad Coy, Jim Schultz, Mike Auflick, Tom Owen and Harmohan Gill.
There were 35 players on the third day for the Texas Scramble format competition. The first-place team shot an outstanding 9 under-par score with Gregg Skinner, Gill Dominy, Mike Ferguson and Dan Cook. The next 3 teams were 5 shots back, tied at 4 under par, and many of the players recounted how they left a few shots out on the course that could have made a difference in the final standings.
The second, third and fourth place teams that tied at 4 under par included Gary Lorentz, Paddy Rogan, Johnny Grabner and Dawn Mack, and Brad Coy, Don Marshall, Mike Auflick and Tom Owen, and Randy McClarren, Chuck Baldwin, Mike Haas and Ryan Haas (Mike’s nephew).
Harmohan Gill, Greg Branch, Yale Logan and Keith Stripling pictured below had high hopes of a top 4 performance but unfortunately finished up at +1, slightly out of the prizes.
I am sure by now that you have noticed Paddy Rogan and Rosie Daud’s names showing up a lot in the winner’s circle. Many of their playing partners, including myself, commented on how those two just kept hitting the ball straight down the middle of the fairways and onto the greens which allowed them to score very well. I also noted that Gary Lorentz from Northern Alberta, Canada usually does not play well in the spring event, but plays well in the fall event. I put two and two together and realized that Gary does not get much practice during the Winter in Northern Alberta for the spring event, but has lots of practice during the summer for the fall event.
Most of the group dined at the nearby Bay View restaurant on Thursday night overlooking beautiful Lake LBJ. The outside veranda was ideal for enjoying the cool weather and outstanding cuisine. One of the groups included the following (photo below) L to R Gayle Baldwin, Al and Margaret Griffith, Tom and Kathy Owen, Jon and Cindy Grosch, Ampron Cook, Ellie Jeffries, Dan Cook, Bruce Jeffries and Chuck Baldwin.
The non-golfers had a great time getting together for breakfasts, day trips to nearby Marble Falls for shopping and dining, various antique and outlet stores and playing the 18-hole par 3 grass putting course onsite.
The HSB Resort has a collection of exotic birds. Kathy Owen, Margaret Griffith and Gayle Baldwin got up close to a beautiful Macaw bird. Again, beautiful cool weather throughout the entire week.
If you are interested in being included in the ARAMCO Retiree Golfer database, please contact Mike Haas at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or cell 361-257-5933. If you are interested in getting in contact with any of the players or non-golfers, please send me your contact details and I will pass them along.
Again, please let me know if you are interested in joining the Palm Springs golf trip April 15-19, 2024 on the standby list. There are a number of people planning to attend for the social aspect and bringing their clubs to get in a round or two. With 48 people already signed up, there are always changes along the way and a good opportunity to join the competition. The Indian Wells Golf Resort Celebrity golf course shown below is fabulous.
The Palm Springs area is a Golfers' Paradise. Hope to see you on the next trip.