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Golf: McDonald business had Chi Chi as client

Sunday, March 10, 2002

It is tough to hide anything in the Washington County town of McDonald, especially one of the most recognized golfers in the world.

Larry Hawk tried that one day, discreetly turning his truck off Route 980 onto Laurel Hill Road, crossing the walking trail and turning left on the street where his business, L&L Golf Service, is located in his garage.

He opened the door to his club-repair shop and tried to sneak in Chi Chi Rodriguez without anyone noticing.

"Next day I see the police chief and he says to me, 'Was that who I thought that was in your garage?' " Hawk said.

From then on, Hawk's service -- hand-crafted clubs, regripping, even instruction -- has flourished. Word on the street was: Anyone who could take every of one of Chi Chi's clubs, reshaft them and regrip them in one afternoon, must know what he's doing.

Especially in his garage.

There is a picture of Rodriguez hanging in Hawk's shop, personalized with the words, "Larry, Many thanks, Chi Chi." It commemorates the day five years ago when Rodriguez, unhappy with his clubs after playing a practice round in the 1997 Pennsylvania Senior Classic at Quicksilver Golf Club, was picked up at the course by Hawk and whisked to his shop for a makeover.

"Since then, it's taken off," Hawk said of his business.

This is the time of year Hawk gets busy. Players eager to get started again, or planning their March sojourns to Myrtle Beach or some South Carolina golf destination, want their clubs regripped. Some want them reshafted. Others want a new driver, something that will give them the extra distance they read about in magazines or hear about on television.

Hawk, a Class A member of the Professional Clubmakers Society, can do it all, right there in his garage.

"I've been doing it now for 10 years and I love it," said Hawk, a retired Army green beret.

Hawk has all the equipment to fit players with the proper grip size, shaft type (steel or graphite) and clubhead. He also has an indoor hitting area, complete with Astroturf mat and net, where players can test their new hand-crafted equipment. Outside, there is a 1,900-square feet putting green that he uses to fit players with putters.

What's more, you just never know who you will meet in his garage.

Trivia question

Three of Tom Kite's previous four victories on the PGA Tour occurred on a holiday. What were they? Answer at end.

New Ohio course

Players who like to travel to Ohio to play Copeland Hills or Yankee Run will soon have another option.

The Links at Firestone Farms, an 18-hole real estate development located in Columbiana, Ohio, is hoping to open to the public in July with greens fees scheduled to debut at $35 to $45.

The course was designed by Brian Huntley, a former associate of architect Arthur Hills, and will be 7,200-plus yards from the back tees. It is located on an 850-acre site at the intersection of Route 7 and Route 14 in Columbiana, less than 20 miles from the Pennsylvania border.

Dave Chuba, a former assistant at Valley Brook Country and Hickory Heights Golf Club, is director of golf/general manager.

"We've made it for the public guy to play," Chuba said.

Ford at Doral

For the second year in a row, Oakmont pro Bob Ford qualified to play in the Genuity Championship at Doral in Miami. But Ford, who serves as head pro at Seminole Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., in the winter, missed the cut last week, shooting 73-77--150.

He was paired the first two days with Australian Peter Lonard, who finished third behind winner Ernie Els and Tiger Woods.

"I was OK for 27 holes, then the last nine holes I needed to get a couple under and I didn't get it done," Ford said. "I kind of wasted away."

EWGA tee off dinner

The Pittsburgh chapter of the Executive Women's Golf Association will kick off its 2002 season with a dinner March 21 at the Monterey Bay Fish Grotto in Mount Washington. Interested golfers should contact Joyce Vanetter at 412-429-2332 or visit www.realpittsburgh.com.

The EWGA, formed in 1991, has 97 chapters and more than 16,000 members in the United States and Canada. The Pittsburgh chapter has 88 members and is hoping to grow to 125 in 2002.

Dissa and data

Olde Stonewall Golf Club in Ellwood City has been ranked as the No. 1 daily-fee course in the state by Golfweek magazine. Mystic Rock at Nemacolin Woodlands was No. 4 in the annual rankings. Oakmont Country Club was voted No. 9 among the Top 100 classical courses (pre-1960) in America. Fox Chapel Golf Club was No. 94. The Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, W.Va., was ranked No. 5 among the top 100 modern courses (post-1960). Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport, Ohio, near Columbus, was voted No. 1 daily-fee in Ohio. Eaglesticks Golf Club in Zainesville was No. 5.

Tom Beeler has been named director of golf/general manager at Pheasant Ridge Golf Club, the 18-hole course in Gibsonia.

Scally's Golf and Training Center already is accepting applications for its summer camps and leagues. The range and par-3 course in Moon is offering a ladies' league that begins May 6, a Wilson Golf Camp (ages 9-16) June 10-12, a junior golf league (ages 9-17) that begins June 13 and a Nike Golf Camp (ages 9-16) July 22-26 and Aug. 12-16. Call 412-264-9940.

Walt Disney World Resort has been named one of the top golf resorts in the United States, earning Gold Medal status from Golf Magazine. Walt Disney World Resort is among 22 golf resorts -- 15 in the continental United States -- to earn such a distinction.

TaylorMade-Adidas Golf reported 2001 revenue increased 24 percent -- from $387.9 million to $479.3 million -- mainly because of the strong sale of the 300 Series metal woods, the No. 1 driver on the PGA Tour.

Trivia answer

Kite won the 1992 BellSouth Classic on Mother's Day, followed that with a victory in the 1992 U.S. Open on Father's Day and won the 1993 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on Valentine's Day.

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