14 Apr 2016 Alec’s Utopian vision is a winner Golf club owner Alec Fernihough doubled his membership with a Utopian scheme – and his vision has won a top England Golf award. Alec, of Gaudet Luce Golf Club in Worcestershire, was presented with the Membership Award at a gala dinner last night at the England Golf annual conference, which celebrated the golfers and golf clubs who make the game great and inspire others to play. The award recognises Alec’s innovation in introducing Utopian Golf, a flexible membership package which is based on a points system, but has no annual fee. “I am delighted to receive this award,” said Alec. “The way that people live their lives has changed hugely over the past few years and I believe that golf club memberships need to reflect this. “We wanted to make sure that our flexible membership was as flexible as possible for our customers. We believe that Utopian membership provides this.” The scheme offers full membership benefits and has had widespread appeal, attracting newcomers to the game as well as time-challenged 20-40-year-olds, juniors and older players who want to continue their membership but are reluctant to pay full seven or five-day fees. In the two years since it was introduced the club membership has doubled from around 400 to just over 800. Utopian members include new father Mike Hyde who said: “I joined early last year just after the birth of my first child and it was the perfect solution. I play mostly off-peak and it’s great to have membership options that allow people in my situation to carry on playing the game they love.” Mark Laing, the England Golf County Development Officer for Hereford and Worcestershire, commented: “It’s crucial that we have clubs like Gaudet Luce, creating lots of new members, year on year. Utopian membership has played a major part in their success.” Alec’s initiative supports the England Golf’s strategic plan, ‘Raising Our Game’ which calls on all who care about the sport to work together to create a brighter future for the game, including more members, more players and stronger clubs. Alec Fernihough (left) receives his award from Morten Backhausen, Danish Golf Union Chief Executive (Image © Leaderboard Photography).
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, left, laughs along side teammate Michael Robinson as the participate in a media availability Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. (AP Photo)JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Down at the end of a hotel hallway, about 50 people gathered along with a dozen television cameras to record the thoughts of a running back who doesn’t much like the idea of sharing his thoughts.Marshawn Lynch was in true Beast Mode, though he surely couldn’t appreciate the irony he was actually helping fuel the insatiable beast that is the media surrounding the Super Bowl at a time the game was in need of another good story line.“I’m here, man,” Lynch said. “So, I don’t have to pay the fine, boss.”Lynch likely succeeded in that mission, escaping the wrath of the NFL for not speaking with the media. But the image of him glaring out from beneath a hat and hoodie, gold headphones on top of his head, may be one that sticks this week with the Seattle Seahawks, just as sure as Richard Sherman’s postgame rant did the week before.They’re the designated bad guys in this Super Bowl. And they seem to be enjoying the role.“What is there to get?” asked receiver Doug Baldwin. “He doesn’t like talking to the media.”Worse crimes have been committed, of course, and there are more than enough other players on the Seahawks to fill the void. Sherman himself has emerged as a loquacious spokesman for the team, showing a great depth of thought while answering all questions that have come his way.But a team built behind a ferocious defense by a coach who left the college ranks under a cloud has some rough edges around it. Chief among them is the suspension of seven Seattle players for substance-abuse or performance-enhancing drugs violations by the NFL since 2011.Matched up against Peyton Manning’s great season and his quest for a second Super Bowl ring late in his career, and it’s easy enough to paint the Seahawks in the role of villain.“We don’t worry about reputations and things like that,” said Sherman, who himself was suspended by the league last season for PEDs before winning an appeal. “We worry about football and we have a tremendous football team that goes out there and executes week in and week out. At the end of the day this is the NFL and that’s all that matters.”At the end of the day, the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl, too, which is all that matters to any NFL team. They’ve also got a bit of a different take on the teammates they spend most waking hours with than the media that gets a glimpse just here and there of their varied personalities.That showed with their spirited defense of Sherman in the wake of his tirade against Michael Crabtree following the spectacular play that beat the San Francisco 49ers and put the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. And they were more than happy to line up in support of Lynch’s right to do whatever he wants leading up to the big game.“He’s a misunderstood person, a great guy off the field,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “He’s been through a lot in his life and sometimes the media puts words in your mouth and makes a guy mad. He’s not the person you want to make mad.”Still, it was telling that the first two questions to coach Pete Carroll at his Wednesday press conference weren’t about how to defend Manning or stop the touchdown scoring machine that is the Denver Broncos. Instead, they were about Lynch’s refusal to talk and the perception that the vaunted Seattle defense was built on the backs of players taking banned PEDs.Carroll’s answers often meander on any topic, and this one was no different. He talked about how his team is young but is learning from its mistakes and that he doesn’t mind allowing them to be individuals as long as they stay within the team concept.He said the coaching staff has constantly preached the message of having to play clean, despite the suspension as recently as last month by cornerback Brandon Browner for substance abuse and cornerback Walter Thurmond in late November for the same thing.“I’m not concerned about the message,” Carroll said. “We would like to do right and get better, so we’re trying to improve and learn from everything that comes along.”What comes along next is the biggest game any of the Seahawks have ever played. Much has been made of the fact it’s the first Super Bowl any of them will play in, and they’ve made much of their intention to play it as physical as any game they’ve ever played.Odds are they’ll deliver on that promise, though that’s no guarantee of success against Manning and Denver’s precision offense. Seattle isn’t likely to win a shootout, but most handicappers like the Seahawks to win their first Super Bowl trophy if the defense plays like it has all season and Lynch runs the ball effectively.If that happens, all the talk about bad behavior will suddenly go away.And chances are Lynch might even have something to say about that.____Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at [email protected] or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
CHAMPIONS–Serena and Venus Williams of the United States, hold the trophy after defeating Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic in the women’s doubles final match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, England, July 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)I am a tennis fan. But more specifically, I am a Serena Williams and Venus Williams fan. If they are playing, I drop everything and watch Serena or Venus play tennis. Here’s my caveat: I only like to watch Venus when she is healthy because I don’t like to see her lose.If Venus and Serena are playing each other in the finals, I am glued to the television. It’s an event. I almost lost my mind and voice the last time they played each other for the Wimbledon championship. It was epic.Part of the reason I enjoy watching them is because they are African-American females who have mastered their craft. Recently, Serena Williams won her 18th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open in September. Her elder sister Venus has won seven Grand Slam singles titles.The sisters are passionate, beautiful, strong females who have advanced the sport globally. They don’t look like their competitors. They don’t sound like their competitors and they don’t play like their competitors.That’s why I love them.And that’s why several people hate them as well.Traditionally, tennis was not a sport that African-American women played or excelled at. It was a European sport. Well, once again, the Williams sisters had to be reminded that they do not share the prototypical look or desired pedigree of the players that some traditionalist would prefer.Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev, left, shakes hands with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, right, after the final match at the Kremlin Cup tennis tournament in Moscow in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. Tarpischev has been fined $25,000 by the WTA Tour and suspended from tour involvement for a year for questioning Venus and Serena Williams’ gender in comments on Russian television. The WTA Tour said Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, that the $25,000 fine is the maximum allowed under tour rules and that it is seeking Tarpischev’s removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup tournament for one year. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)Elena Dementieva, the former Olympic singles champion was on a late night Russian talk show with Shamil Tarpischev, a prominent member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). When Dementieva was asked what it was like playing against the Williams sisters, Tarpischev interjected and called them the “Williams brothers.” He also said that “it’s scary when you really look at them.”Here is some more insight into this man’s position and how intricately he is involved with Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Shamil Tarpischev, Russian Tennis Federation president, has been chairman of the Kremlin Cup, Russia’s only WTA event, for the entire 18 years as a women’s tour event.He represents the sport in an official capacity and his offhand comments were absolutely mind-numbingly foolish, dense and showed an utter lack of progressive thinking and tolerance.WTA chief Stacey Allaster said: “The statements made by Shamil Tarpischev on Russian television with respect to two of the greatest athletes in the history of women’s tennis are insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place in our sport.”After the comments, the WTA banned him from tennis for a year and fined him the maximum $25,000 fine allowed under their rules. I personally think that the rules should be altered to create stiffer fines.Not only were his comments upsetting and disparaging to two females who have helped create relevance in the sport internationally but they are telling. It makes a person pause and think, if he is so comfortable with saying these comments in public. What must he be saying in private?“I think the WTA did a great job of taking [the] initiative and taking immediate action to his comments,” Williams said Sunday in Singapore ahead of her WTA Finals defense. “I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.”Why is the WTA’s number #1 tennis player having to use words such as “racist,” “extremely sexist,” “bullying,” and “very insensitive” to describe a prominent member of the IOC and the Kremlin Cup chairman’s behavior?Because no matter how talented or dominant the Williams sisters are in their craft, there will always be people who do not want them to succeed simply because the Williams sisters do not have skin the complexion of milk.But this is the part that gets me really angry. Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press on Saturday at the Kremlin Cup that the program on which he spoke was “a humorous show.” When asked about his ban, Tarpischev said: “I can’t comment. I don’t understand it.”YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND IT?!You don’t understand how your off-hand comments, which you intended to be funny, were in fact supremely offensive?You don’t understand how calling two of the sport’s most notorious female players “brothers” is demeaning, cruel, and off putting for the international tennis community?Well, considering the fact that you are a person of limited thinking, who does not embrace all races, finds it appropriate to make disparaging comments about the # 1 ranked female in a sport you represent, and a sport you are supposed to uplift and promote; then I completely understand.You probably don’t comprehend why anyone would be upset that you used your foolish mouth to spew out the hateful thoughts that you hold so dear.Enjoy your year off, Tarpischev. By that time you return, I’m sure the sisters will have added to their grand slam titles.Be sure to keep the lights on when you watch them since you frighten so easily.(Two Sources for this story was ESPN.com and AP )Alexis Sara Cobb may be reached at: [email protected] or (724) 561-8082 Follow her on Twitter: @alexissara
By Anastasia MillickerWhile the skies over Red Bank, Rumson and Sea Bright will be quiet this Fourth of July holiday, towns around the Two River area will host a variety of events – including fireworks – that will be sure to light up the holiday week.From fairs to fireworks, Monmouth County is celebrating the country’s 236th birthday. Only a few towns have scheduled fireworks shows for Wednesday, July 4 but several others are planning brilliant displays on Tuesday, July 3 or later in the week.Asbury Park will celebrate the Fourth with a fireworks display on the 5th Avenue Beach from 9 to9:30 p.m. July 4. On-street, metered parking is available throughout the city.Festivities in West Long Branch are set to begin at 7 p.m. July 4 with a performance from Greaseband in Franklin Lake Park on Locust Avenue. Fireworks will follow the concert.Bradley Beach will hold its Independence Day celebration on July 7 with music from local bands and fireworks beginning at dusk. The rain date for the event is Saturday, July 14.Union Beach fireworks are set to explode around 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 3 on the beach. A rain date of Thursday, July 5, has been planned, if needed.Keansburg will hold a fireworks display on both July 3 and July 4, beginning at dusk at the Keansburg Amusement Park, 275 Beachway Ave. On-street, metered parking is available by the theme park.Hazlet will celebrate with a fireworks display on July 3 at Veterans Park on Union Avenue. The rain date for the event is planned for Friday, July 6.Those looking for an early start or to extend their Independence Day celebration can head to Colts Neck, Manasquan, Atlantic Highlands or Wall for holiday celebrations and fairs before and after the Fourth.The Colts Neck Country Fair will take place June 29-30 at Bucks Mill Park, 105 Bucks Mill Road. The fair will feature rodeo attractions, food, rides and fireworks each night.Long Branch will hold its 22nd annual Oceanfest on July 4. Vendors and local bands will line up along the beachfront during the event sponsored by the Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce and the City of Long Branch. Oceanfest will end with a fireworks display.Manasquan will hold an Independence Day celebration a day early on Tuesday, July 3 with multiple events around town. In keeping with an annual tradition, the borough will host a bicycle decorating contest at the Little League Field beginning at 5 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., an Independence Day parade will begin at the Manasquan Coast Guard Station. After the parade, at 7:30 p.m., people can head to the beach to hear local musical acts. Fireworks will close the day with a display beginning at dusk. If necessary, a rain date for the fireworks will be July 7. The Manasquan Tourism Commission is sponsoring the holiday festivities.Atlantic Highlands Fire Department will host its annual Fireman’s Fair Tuesday, July 3 through Saturday, July 7. The fair will feature rides, games, food and a fireworks display scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 6. The fair is located on Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor at Simon Lake Drive and begins at 6 p.m. each night.Wall will kick off the holiday early with its annual Wall Township Fair. The fair, will open with a 5 p.m. parade Thursday June 28, will close with a 9:30 p.m. fireworks display Sunday, July 1. Hours for the fair, located at 2700 Allaire Road, 5-10 p.m. each night.