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Charlotte executive's pairing with Kaymer at Whistling Straits is one to be treasured

A BIG PRIZE: When Charlotte's John Pappas, a 52-year-old commercial real estate executive, received an email a month ago informing him he had won a BMW-sponsored contest to play golf with 2010 PGA champion Martin Kaymer at Whistling Straits on the one-year anniversary of Kaymer's playoff victory there, he didn't take it seriously at first.

Pappas had forgotten he had entered the sweepstakes from which three amateurs were chosen to play with Kaymer. He doesn't typically enter contests but had put his name in this one just for kicks. When an email from BMW's golf agency arrived, Pappas was "leery" about it.

An email and a phone call later, Pappas was set for one of the great golf adventures of his life.

He was flown to Chicago, where he met the other winners - one from Germany, the other from England - and they played 18 holes at Cog Hill on Aug. 14. Afterward, they were whisked to Whistling Straits north of Milwaukee, where they had dinner with Kaymer at the American Club.

The next day, the three amateurs played a best-ball match against Kaymer using their handicaps. They broke even after the amateurs good-naturedly penalized Kaymer for carrying 15 clubs. It was Kaymer's first visit to the course since his dramatic victory there.

They arrived on a good day. Pappas said LPGA Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez and Speaker of the House John Boehner were also at Whistling Straits and stopped to visit with the group.

"(Kaymer) was quite a nice guy and, as you would imagine, his golf game was incredible," said Pappas, a Charlotte Country Club member. "It was great to watch someone like that play from up close. He was so professional and willing to help in any way.

"But he really wanted to win the match. He was grinding a little at the end."

CHIP SHOTS: Joe Campbell, a former Belmont Abbey golfer, is one of 12 contestants on Golf Channel's upcoming "Big Break: Ireland" series. The show debuts Sept. 20. Campbell played at Belmont Abbey from 2007 through 2010 and now works at Carolina Golf Club. ...

John McConnell, whose McConnell Golf now owns seven private clubs in the Carolinas, said he wants to add a club in the Charlotte area to add to his company's collection but so far hasn't found one. McConnell said he looked at the financially troubled Firethorne Country Club but hasn't pursued it.

McConnell Golf owns Cardinal Golf and Country Club and Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro; Raleigh Country Club; Treyburn Country Club in Durham; Old North State Club in New London; Musgrove Mill in Clinton, S.C.; and The Reserve Golf Club at Pawley's Island, S.C. ...

The top 20 money winners on the eGolf Professional Tour earned paid entry into the PGA Tour's annual qualifying school, worth approximately $4,500. Among those who had their entries paid are leading money-winner Brice Garrett, two-time tour winner Corey Nagy, former Clemson golfer Phillip Mollica, former Georgia Walker Cup player Brian Harmon, former N.C. State standout Jerry Richardson and former North Carolina Tar Heel Dustin Bray. ...

Pinehurst Resort will honor the military Sept. 5 by providing free greens fees to active military on course No. 8 from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Over the past two years, more than 700 active military members have taken part in the event, which also provides 50 percent discounts on spa treatments for spouses along with other discounts...

OBSERVATIONS

Another hotter than average summer has taken its toll on bentgrass greens around the area for the second straight year. Several courses have struggled to keep the cool-weather grass alive through the extended heat, a few courses closing for a time.

Will it lead to more courses making the change to one of the new strains of bermuda?

That seems likely. Woody Allen, director of golf at the Golf Club at Ballantyne, said recently that representatives of several area courses have come by to take a close look the bermuda greens that were installed at Ballantyne last year.

Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson, the last three PGA Tour winners, all use the long or belly putter.

They're here to stay and growing in popularity. It has led to renewed questions about whether the USGA and the R&A will take steps to outlaw them. Don't count on it.

There are bigger issues, including controlling distance, that will likely get more attention. Should belly and long putters be outlawed? If they were that great, everybody would be using them. Maybe that's the way the game is heading...but hopefully not.

Just guessing, but it sounds like Tiger Woods is open to adding another PGA Tour event to his schedule this fall. If he does, hopefully it will be the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, Ga., Oct. 13-16. It would be fun to see Tiger on the Seaside Course there. Sounds like the gentle prodding of Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples may have been enough to convince Woods to add an event. Another win for Freddie.

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