The Aramco Retiree Golf Group held their eighth overall and first 2023 event in Ponte Vedra, Florida at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, March 27-31, 2023. It was a fun-filled 5-days of activities including four rounds of golf at TPC Sawgrass Stadium and Dye’s Valley courses, World Golf Village Slammer & Squire, and King & Bear golf courses. The evenings began with the group meeting up at the Marriott Sawgrass to visit with old and new friends, recounting their day’s golf games, listening to people’s recent ARAMCO Reunion memories, and groups heading out to some great restaurants nearby.
Special thanks to Brad Scott, Director of Shops, at Marriott Sawgrass who arranged the hotel accommodations and the Monday and Tuesday TPC Sawgrass golf rounds. He also directed us to Michael Hodgins, Golf Group Sales, at World Golf Village that hosted the Wednesday and Thursday rounds. Both men provided our group with excellent service within their respective golf facilities. These courses were some of the best we have played to date. The group offers up a BIG thanks to Ed Devlin and Troy Thompson for handling the golf competition using the Golf Genius scoring app. The top four winners for this event were Ed Devlin, Don Padgett, Mel Knotts and Taichien Dickerson.
The Marriott offered their guests an opportunity to practice hitting golf shots to an island green in the lagoon at the back of the hotel. Gary Lorentz took full advantage of this opportunity, but unfortunately never hit the postage stamp size green. Marriott graciously donated proceeds from this practice range event to a local charity. Gary lives on Moose Lake just outside Bonnyville, Alberta, Canada and he was ice fishing on the lake off his skidoo before heading down to Florida. Even though Gary did not play much golf during the winter, he ended up in the middle of the standings for the event. Big weather difference.
Monday began with an optional round at the world-famous TPC Sawgrass Stadium golf course that just held the PGA tour March 9-12, 2023 won by World #1, Scottie Scheffler. The course from the TPC tee box has a slope rating of 155 which is the highest recorded rating and our 16 players who played the Blue/White combo tees can attest to its difficulty. Noel Ginest, Chad Ginest (brother), Jimmy Phillips, Rick Yakel (friend), Troy Thompson, Ed Devlin, Mel Knotts, Don Marshall, Gary Lorentz, Mike Taylor, Wayne Giles (friend), Robin MacDonald, Robert Ross, Gregg Skinner, Carl Gossard and Ike Bellaci played Monday and checked the Stadium course off their bucket list. The #17 island green is iconic and recognized by golfers and fans around the world.
Ike Bellaci, Carl Gossard, Gregg Skinner and Robert Ross teeing off on the Stadium course first hole. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the course was in excellent shape. Brad Scott told us we were playing the Stadium at the perfect time after the PGA Tour event.
The Monday night Icebreaker held at the Marriott was a great opportunity to reacquaint with old friends and meet new ones. There were 19 non-golfers and 36 golfers totaling 55 with attendees shown in the photo below. Bottom Step L to R, Geraldine Gossard, Ann Rice, Lisa Bradford and Val Bellaci; Second Step L to R, Cathy Thompson, Ampron Cook and Ed Devlin; Third Step L to R, Andy Thompson, John Bova, Shayne Skinner, Don Padgett and Marti Knotts; Fourth Step L to R, Cindy Cavanaugh, Susan Bova, Debbie Lumpa and Mel Knotts; Fifth Step L to R, Jon Cavanaugh, Dawn Mack, Beth Padgett, Bob Lumpa, Gary Lorentz and Don Marshall; Sixth Step L to R, John Mack, Lavon Melton, Susan Ross and Roger Thompson; Seventh Step L to R, Carl Gossard, Dan Cook, Jim Rice, Tracy Thompson and Ike Bellaci; Eighth Step L to R, Gregg Skinner, Doug Melton, Robert Ross and Wayne Giles (guest); Ninth Step L to R, Mickie Haas, Troy Thompson, Mike Haas and Lena Krygsman; Tenth Step L to R, Mike Taylor, Ray Krygsman, Brad Coy and Thomas Hogan.
Not shown. Jon and Cindy Grosch, Robin MacDonald, Noel Ginest, Chad Ginest (brother), Steve Yakel (guest), Taichien Dickerson, Mike Fischer, Dave and Apichaya MacDonald, and Jimmy Phillips and Davida Highley.
Tuesday’s competition at the challenging Dye’s Valley golf course format was Stableford. The top three individual winners included Dawn Mack with 38 Stableford points, Thomas “Long Ball” Hogan with 36 points and Andy Thompson with 35 points. Ed and Troy cut Andy’s handicap after being a big winner on previous trips, but he continues to score well and win. Prizes were also distributed to the first, second and third-best two-ball total net Stableford score per hole and nearest the pin winners for all the par 3’s. Ed Devlin, Andy Thompson, Mike Haas and Doug Melton won first place in the team competition with 87 Stableford points.
Photo below L to R, waiting to tee off for first round at Dye’s Valley course at Sawgrass includes Roger Thompson, Gregg Skinner, Mel Knotts, Andy Thompson, Ed Devlin, Jon Cavanaugh, Don Marshall, Thomas Hogan and Mike Haas.
Wednesday’s second round of competition at the World Golf Village Slammer & Squire golf course format was Stableford and Nearest the Pin prizes. The top three individual winners included Ed Devlin from Philadelphia with 35 Stableford points, Tai Dickerson, who traveled all the way from France to join the group, with 33 points, and Noel Ginest, who splits time between Ireland and Florida, with 32 points. It was no surprise that Ed and Taichien won first and second places individually. Jon Grosch and Roger Thompson also won first place in the team competition with 83 Stableford points. I realize you are seeing the Thompson name regularly, but FYI Troy and Andy are brothers and Roger is often referred to as “cousin".
Photo below with World Golf Village Golfer Hall of Fame exhibit tower in the background includes L to R front row kneeling, Troy Thompson, Mike Haas, John Bova, Don Padgett, Jon Grosch and Mike Fischer, who lives in nearby St. Augustine with a condo located off the 8th green. Back row standing L to R includes Robert Ross, Mel Knotts, Thomas Hogan, Andy Thompson, Don Marshall, Roger Thompson, Doug Melton, Brad Coy, Dan Cook, Taichien Dickerson, Gregg Skinner, Wayne Giles, Ed Devlin, Ike Bellaci, Chad Ginest, Jon Cavanaugh, Noel Ginest, Rick Yakel, and Geraldine and Carl Gossard.
Ike Bellaci, Roger Thompson, Mel Knotts and Ed Devlin prepare to tee off at the World Golf Village Slammer & Squire course with the World Golf Village Golf Hall of Fame exhibit tower in the background with cool weather and beautiful blue skies.
Ike Bellaci readies to hit his fairway wood approach shot to the Hole #1 green at the World Golf Village Slammer & Squire golf course. Ike looks somewhat professional with ideal posture, grip and readiness to hit his golf ball on the green. However, I think the ball went into the sand trap.
Thursday’s third round of competition at the World Golf Village King & Bear golf course format was a Scramble paying four places and Nearest the Pin prizes. Congratulation to the top team shooting 17 under with a 15% handicap allowance that included Mike Taylor, Mel Knotts, Robin MacDonald and Roger Thompson. Second place at 15 under was Chad Ginest, Andy Thompson, Taichien Dickerson and Dawn Mack.
Group photo below taken at World Golf Village King & Bear course includes - Front Row L to R, Geraldine Gossard, Dawn Mack, Mike Fischer and Apichaya MacDonald. Second Row L to R, Dave MacDonald, Noel Ginest, Mel Knotts, John Bova, Roger Thompson, Mike Haas, Brad Coy, Thomas Hogan, Gary Lorentz, Andy Thompson, Troy Thompson, Robin MacDonald and John Mack. Third Row L to R, Rick Yakel, Chad Ginest, Don Marshall, Robert Ross, Ike Bellaci, Gregg Skinner, Mike Taylor, Taichien Dickerson, Doug Melton, Jon Grosch and Ray Krygsman.
The non-golfers had a great time getting together for breakfasts, a day trip to nearby St. Augustine for lunch and shopping, visiting the Shops at Sawgrass outside the hotel gates for dining and shopping, visiting relatives that live in the area, taking the hotel shuttle to the Atlantic Beach and enjoying the pool area. Ponte Vedra is a great place to visit and the area has lots of interesting attractions for the non-golfers.
Photo below L to R includes Shayne Skinner, Beth Padgett, Cindy Grosch, Marti Knotts, Davida Highley, Ann Rice and Val Bellaci in St. Augustine.
These Aramco Retiree Golf Group events are a great opportunity to spend time with our retiree friends and guests who traveled long distances to play golf and visit. The next events are being discussed with details to follow. I am always interested in hearing about great places to meet and play golf so let me know if you have any suggestions. Thanks to Robin MacDonald for recommending this Florida location as our trip destination.
If you are interested in being included in the database, please contact Mike Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com 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 to them.
Hope to see you on the next trip.