First it was the Early-Bird Special. Now it is the Weekender.
When the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. implemented its Early-Bird program three years ago, it filled a weekday void on the back nines at Mount Pleasant and Pine Ridge golf courses in the first 1 1/2 hours of operation.
Play is for nine holes and is suspended when the first group off the first tee crosses over to No. 10. In effect, the program, operating April through August, allows 9-to-5 workers a chance to play before going to their offices.
Now, in an attempt to make play seem less intimidating for Juniors and new players, a similar program, also at Mount Pleasant and Pine Ridge, will be in effect this year during weekend and holiday late afternoons. "We will continue to use two crossovers -- morning and afternoon -- but when the first and 10th tees are cleared in the afternoon, we have about a two-hour window when we will make nine-hole play available," said Jon Ladd, director of golf for the BMGC.
Ladd explained this would fill a niche that had been overlooked -- new players, couples and those who might want to play just nine holes, for instance -- and that staff would be available for assistance.
Another innovation is being expanded, as Ladd and the five course professionals work on a program for educating golfers, ,, old and new alike.
"In our old 'Keep Pace' program at Mount Pleasant and Pine Ridge, there were timers at the fifth and ninth greens to monitor the pace of play," Ladd said. "Now, in addition to starters at these courses, there will be a 'tee manager,' a host/hostess if you like, who will inform the players of any out-of-the-ordinary conditions, emphasize pace and etiquette and be available for other situations as they may occur.
"A captain will be appointed for each group, one who will keep the group moving and provide comments and suggestions at the end of the round. It's an idea we picked up from a course in Overland Park, Kan. Where we had negative enforcement in the past, now we want to provide a positive atmosphere."
In other BMGC news, Ladd announced there would be no increase in fees this year, and released 1991 usage figures. Each of the five courses showed an increase, with the overall total rounds up from 358,504 to 380,475. The individual courses, with the 1990 figures in parentheses: Pine Ridge 84,190 (81,092); Carroll Park 80,634 (80,433); Mount Pleasant 77,889 (73,692); Clifton Park 76,090 (67,696); Forest Park 61,672 (55,591).
The 1992 BMGC tournament series:
June 20-21--Publinx championship, Mount Pleasant and Forest Park; July 3-4-5--Maryland Amateur Stroke Play championship, Mount Pleasant; July 20--Women's Two-ball Team championship; July 27--Junior championship, Pine Ridge; Sept. 26-27--Baltimore Two-Man Team championship, Mount Pleasant; Oct. 16--Middle Atlantic PGA Pro-Senior tournament, Clifton Park.
A change in the qualifying format for its Mid-Amateur championship, and an increase in 1992 purses for its Open championships were among the latest announcements by the U.S. Golf Association.
Taking into consideration the large number of entries for a few available places, the Mid-Amateur, which had a 1-26 ratio of qualifying berths to entries last year, will go to two courses for on-site qualifying in 1994, a program similar to the current U.S. Amateur format.
This will enable 240 players to advance to the championship, about 90 more than in the current plan.
Prize money for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Calif., June 18-21, has been raised to $1.5 million, an increase of $200,000.
Purses for the Senior Open (Saucon Valley CC, Bethlehem, Pa., July 9-12), and Women's Open (Oakmont CC in suburban Pittsburgh, July 23-26) have been boosted $100,000 to $700,000 each.
The Amateur Status and Conduct Committee expanded a portion of the expense rule to allow younger players to accept a reasonable amount of expenses to any amateur golf competition until Sept. 1 after graduation from secondary school, or a 19th birthday, whichever comes first.
The committee also banned head wear bearing commercial names and/or logos in the qualifying and championship rounds of its 10 amateur championships.
+ The 1992 USGA competitions:
June 5-6--Curtis Cup, Hoylake, England; June 18-21--U.S. Open, Pebble Beach, Calif.; June 24-28--Women's Amateur Public Links, Sacramento, Calif.; July 9-12--Senior Open, Bethlehem, Pa.; July 13-18--Amateur Public Links, Brooklyn Park, Minn.; July 23-26--Women's Open, Oakmont, Pa.; July 28-Aug. 1--Junior Amateur, Milton, Mass.; Aug. 3-8--Girls' Junior, Indianapolis; Aug. Women's Amateur, Hawthorne Woods, Ill.; Aug. 25-30--Amateur, Dublin, Ohio; Sept. 19-24--Mid-Amateur, Detroit; Sept. 23-25--Senior Women's Amateur, Tucson, Ariz.; Oct. 10-15--Women's Mid-Amateur, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Oct. 19-24--Senior Amateur, Jupiter, Fla.