The bad news was that Jeff Gove didn't survive qualifying school and isn't on the regular PGA Tour this year. The good news is that the developmental Nike Tour on which he will play again has two tournaments instead of one this year in Washington.
Talk about home cooking - Gove was phenomenal within the state's boundaries last year.
"The state was really good for me," he said. He earned $122,250 of his $145,500 in '95 winnings in Washington.
The in-state hot streak for the Kenmore golfer started in May when he won the Ernst Washington Open and $11,250 at the Glendale Country Club and qualified for the Ernst Championship in August. In the Ernst Championship, he shot a course-record 61 at Overlake Country Club to finish second and win $75,000 in the two-day tournament that featured eight of 12 U.S. Ryder Cup members.
In September, Gove won the Nike Tour's Tri-Cities Open at the Meadow Springs Country Club. The paycheck was $36,000. He won the playoff by hitting the flagstick on the par-3 second playoff hole and tapping in for a birdie.
How does the 24-year-old golfer from Inglemoor High School and Inglewood Country Club explain his home-state success?
"I don't know," he said in a recent interview from Palm Desert in California, where he is fine-tuning his game. "It was sure fun. I feel comfortable on those courses and I've played them a lot before."
Gove will try to qualify tomorrow for one of four berths in this week's PGA Tour stop in San Diego. He finished 12th in a tournament in Panama recently and his first Nike Tour event is late this month in San Jose.
Gove's goal this year is to finish in the top 10 in the final Nike standings and earn an automatic "big tour" exemption for 1997. He figures the familiarity he gained last season on Nike courses should benefit him this year when he returns to those courses.
The additional Nike stop in Washington this year will be the Olympia Open at the Indian Summer Country Club Oct. 3-6.
Gove's reputation for home-state success was well-known among fellow Nike Tour members before the entourage arrived in Richland last September.
Gove's roommate, Brent Geiberger, joked to other golfers, "We're going up there to play for second place."
He was right.
Geiberger's other memorable line of the season followed Gove's amazing performance in the Ernst Championship. Gove and Geiberger, who both played collegiate golf for Pepperdine, room together on the road. Gove arrived in Odessa, Texas, in the middle of the night after the Overlake event. Geiberger rolled over in bed and drowsily asked, "How'd you do?"
Gove replied, "Shot 61 and finished second."
Geiberger, son of the noted pro golfer, Al, fell back to sleep. The next morning, he sat up and asked Gove, "You did WHAT?"
Gove had hoped to be on the regular PGA Tour this year but a bad fifth round - 76 - at qualifying school in early December torpedoed his hopes for a second straight year.
"I missed a couple putts here and there and hit a couple bad shots at the wrong time over water and it caught up to me," he said.
Gove hopes to be invited to play in the Ernst Championship, which this year has moved to his home course of Inglewood.
It's only natural that Gove wants to play in the lucrative Ernst event hosted by Fred Couples at Inglewood.
"I've played there since I was 6 or 7," he said.
Besides, it's in the state of Washington.
New reservation system
Beginning in April, golfers making tee reservations at any of the three Seattle municipal courses will deal with a Portland-based company, the Golf Network.
The company presently handles phone-in tee reservations for seven Portland-area courses.
Chris Redo, head of Municipal Golf of Seattle (MGS), said the arrangement will enable Seattle pro-shop personnel to do a better job of serving customers in the shops rather than spending so much time on the telephone. Golfers still will be able to make reservations while in pro shops.
Redo said another advantage is that golfers will be able to book at Jackson Park, Jefferson or West Seattle through one telephone number instead of three.
The Golf Network plans to have its own home page on the Internet in May.
-- Caroline Spiegelberg, three-year varsity letter-winner on the University of Washington team, has left the squad for what Coach Mary Lou Mulflur says are "personal reasons." Apparently relations deteriorated between Mulflur and Spiegelberg, the 1994 women's state open champion.
Spiegelberg was among the top three golfers on this year's team and had played in the fall matches. She remains in school at the UW and on scholarship.
-- Mary Margaret Pless, former head pro at West Seattle, has been named tournament director for the 62nd Seattle City Men's Championship on the three municipal courses July 4, 6-7. Pless resigned as head pro last year to devote more time to her family, and Matt Amundsen was promoted to head pro. Sharon Lorenzo, previously at Riverbend in Kent, has joined the West Seattle staff as an assistant pro.
-- The Nile Shrine Golf Course, located west of I-5 at the King-Snohomish county line, has announced a change in status from private to public. Actually, semi-private had been a better description in recent years because the course had been available for public play.
The nine-hole existing layout is par-36, 2,861 yards (from back tees). The new nine is expected to open in July if weather cooperates. The entire layout will be par-68, 5,000 yards when completed.
Pro Randy Puetz says greens fees of $14 for nine holes and $24 for 18 including weekends) will remain in effect all year.