Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tasting the Fruits…make that the Ice Cream…of My Labor

NOTE: This story is indirectly about golf, but it is related to the US Open at Pinehurst, therefore posted on NC Golfer.)

When I slowly but surely tasted my first spoonful of “Chocolate Rocker,” the wonderful flavor of my favorite chocolate ice cream ever made many years ago by the Fairview Dairy (it’s gone but there’s still a Fairview Dairy Bar in Sanford) hit my taste buds. “I’m gonna love this,” I said to myself.

As I sampled the “Charleston Sea Salt Caramel,” the distinct tastes of salt and caramel and the crunch of vanilla wafers (not soggy from being in the ice cream) were wonderfully evident. “This one, too!”

And, then there was the “Nana’s Banana Pudding.” Let’s just say throwback thoughts of good old creamy banana puddin’ with lots of bananas and more of those crispy vanilla wafers, not the mushy type of real banana pudding, were my immediate reaction. “Great on a hot summer afternoon, or a cold winter day, spring, fall, early morning, late night, anytime,” I thought.

My sampling, an indirect request of the Mooresville Ice Cream Company, was complete. It was not until the week of the US Open that I came to understand that writing about the golf tournament held at the Pinehurst Country Club was my ticket to free ice cream, North Carolina style.

My story (Open for Viewing: The US Open in Pinehurst) about viewing the US Open went up on Raleigh &Company the morning of Monday, June 9, and a few hours later, I posted on my frequent golf blog, NCGolfer, a short intro to the Raleigh & Company narrative, linking the two. Disclaimer: I write because I enjoy writing, not to gain perks but if someone wants to give me something for my toils, well, then so be it.

The next day at 2:39 p.m., an email appeared in my inbox from Laura McGuire, an account supervisor at Concentric Marketing in Charlotte. The text of the note with reference to NC Golfer: We found your blog with the recent article on the big event of the week..... U.S. Open at Pinehurst! Wanted to let you know we represent Front Porch ice cream which is a Carolina brand being served at Pinehurst during the Open. We're thrilled with the partnership. We assume you're going to be at the Open.... we'd LOVE for you to sample Front Porch while you're out there and let us know what you think! We'd be happy to overnight several Front Porch flavors to you in Cary, NC, if you would be interested in mentioning it on your blog while you're writing about Pinehurst this month. 

Obviously, Laura and others at Concentric didn’t really read my blog which, along with the Raleigh & Company post, said I would be watching the golf tournament from the comfort of my easy chair in front of my 60” VIZIO HD. But who was I to turn down ice cream. So we started an email exchange.

I responded: I appreciate your email and I would love to sample Front Porch at the US Open, but I was unable to secure tickets this year (if you have any extra passes, please let me know). However, if you’ll send those samples to my home, I’ll gladly sample them and post in my blog and on another site, mentioning your participation in Pinehurst and my thoughts on Front Porch.

Laura McGuire: Jim, thanks for your reply! We sure will get some ice cream sent to you. Would you be able to receive and sign for an overnight package containing dry ice to keep the ice cream.... well, ice cream?!! :) What days this week would be best to receive? Do you have any favorite ice cream flavors? How many hits do you get to your blog? Do you plan to continue writing about the U.S. Open at Pinehurst throughout the tournament? Unfortunately, we do not have any extra tickets ourselves. 

Me: Yes, I work from my home, so I’m here most all day every day. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday are good days as long as it’s in the morning. Favorite flavors? Hmmm…just about any! I’m partial to cookie dough, but anything with fruit, nuts, caramel, chocolate, etc….just about anything. Hits on my blog really vary with the subject. I’ve been as high as 3000 a day and as low as 30 a day. I’ll probably not post every day about Pinehurst, but after I taste your ice cream I’ll write about it and say something about your presence there. Are you just sampling or selling? Inside the gates? Outside the gates? Tell me more of your locations. After I write about Front Porch, I’ll add a link on my website to Front Porch.

Laura McGuire: Jim, great! I will follow up with the shipping info so that you know when to expect it. Here's a bit of info about us. Thanks! 

Front Porch® Served at U.S. Open
Designated Official Ice Cream of Pinehurst Resort
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 10, 2014) – The Front Porch® Carolina Churned ice cream brand proudly announces its partnership with the Pinehurst Resort as their official ice cream. To kick it off, Front Porch will be offering the perfect cool down treat at the U.S. Open 2014. Front Porch will be sold to the public and offered to the media during the two weeks of U.S. Open events at Pinehurst, including the Women’s Open beginning June 12th.

Classic Southern-inspired flavors will be available like Nana’s Banana Pudding, Chocolate Rocker, Charleston Sea Salt Caramel, Caroline’s Coffee and Caramel, Scarlett Red Velvet, and Dreamy Vanilla Cream. Front Porch Ice Cream will be available in perfect-for-sharing pints at various public outlets over the course of the U.S. Open and at the Grab ‘N’ Go Convenience Store, which will be set up on site. The Front Porch brand has approximately 20 different Southern-inspired flavors and is available at several local retailers, including Harris Teeter. In addition to at-event distribution, Front Porch Ice Cream will also be available to guests of the Pinehurst Resort throughout this year. A custom flavor is in development for Pinehurst.

About Mooresville Ice Cream Company, LLC:
Mooresville Ice Cream Company, LLC, maker of Front Porch Carolina Churned Ice Cream, has been using the freshest and highest-quality ingredients to produce premium ice cream since 1924. Founded by B.A. Troutman and R.C. Millsaps in Mooresville, N.C., this family-owned business focuses on producing exceptional, hand-crafted ice cream. Its latest brand, Front Porch Carolina Churned Ice Cream, offers flavors inspired by memories of Southern summer nights rocking on the front porch. Front Porch flavors can be purchased in Southeast grocery stores, including Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, BI-LO, and Food City. It is also available at the authentic ice cream parlor next to its original creamery in downtown Mooresville, NC. For additional information, please visit Front Porch Carolina Churned Ice Cream.

It was Thursday morning, the day of the opening round of the US Open, when the FedEx truck pulled into my driveway with a box about the size of a case of wine. Inside, packed in dry-ice in a Styrofoam container were three pints of Front Porch: Chocolate Rocker, Charleston Sea Salt Caramel, and Nana’s Banana Pudding. While grateful for the samples, I was a little disappointed because Front Porch’s website features photos of 21 flavors including Lemony Sunshine, Sassy Strawberry, and Peachy Keen, all of which I should have requested. But, along with the three pints were three coupons, each covering the cost of a pint so I’ll probably make those selections sooner than later.

As far as my critique of the ice cream, well, it’s decadent, to say the least, and a very nice North Carolina product that rivals the Ben & Jerry’s that anyone and everyone who loves ice cream has come to enjoy. Now, here’s the “downside” (skip to the last paragraph if you don’t want to know) and reasons for its scrumptiousness. In a half a cup of ice cream, the Chocolate Rocker has 180 calories, 9 grams of fat and 19 grams of sugar; the Charleston Sea Salt Caramel has 190 calories, 10 grams of fat and 19 grams of sugar; and, Nana’s Banana Pudding has 180 calories, 10 grams of fat and 17 grams of sugar; but, so what?!?!?

I didn’t make it to Pinehurst for the US Open, and I’ll not make it to the US Women’s Open, but I did get to enjoy some delicious ice cream—the real stuff, not the yogurt or non-fat fake ice cream—as I indulged watching my favorite participation sport. It was a double victory for me. Even if you’re not a golfer, I strongly suggest you forget the calories, the fat and the sugar reported on the side of the container and make every attempt to try Front Porch Carolina Churned ice cream. My goal is to sample all 21 flavors and those soon to come.

Writing about the US Open from a distance is just okay. I would have preferred to be on site. But, either here in my comfortable office or there walking the grounds of sacred Pinehurst No. 2, there’s nothing like enjoying the fruits…make that the ice cream…of my labor. This story is to be continued...

Monday, June 09, 2014

Viewing the US Open & a Lonnie Poole Golf Course update

The US Open is this week and the US Women’s Open is next week, both being played on Pinehurst No. 2, a wonderful (who am I to give it that description) creation of Donald Ross. Many say it’s his most creative, his best. Will I be there? Maybe, but probably only in spirit. I do not have tickets, didn’t even make an effort to get one, so, most likely, I’ll be watching in the comfort of my home, in front of my 60” VIZIO HD.

At the end of the four days, Thursday-Sunday, weather permitting and ties not welcome, there will be a Champion, but I believe the winner will be the golf course in particular and Pinehurst in general. Instead of using this space to write more about my take on this week’s tournament, I’ve penned a story for a new and creative website, Raleigh & Company. You may putt your way there by clicking on that link and take a look at the entire website, or you can drive directly to my story by going to Open for Viewing: The US Open in Pinehurst.

In my last post, in this space, NCGolfer, much of the article centered around the Rex Hospital Open golf tournament of the Web.com tour moving to Lonnie Poole Golf Course (LPGC) from the TPC at Wakefield Plantation. Nothing official yet on the move, but renovations at LPGC are underway with the touranment change in venue in mind and at an estimated price tag of $1,000,000! Yes, one million dollars, just four years after the course opened on the NC State University Centennial campus in Raleigh.

In the project, as written about earlier, there is a complete sand bunker overhaul. The sand is being removed down to the clay; the bottoms of the bunkers are being flattened to some degree; a layer of rock is being laid and then covered with a glue (for lack of a better explanation) over which will be a topping, then a liner and then new sand. Balls that land in the faces and walls of the bunkers should roll to the bottom to offer the golfer a flat and much easier shot. Some of the sand bunkers will be reshaped and be made smaller. Some of the islands will be removed. Work on the sand bunkers began in May with the completion date unknown.

In addition to the sand bunkers, all par three tee boxes will be rebuilt, according to those in the know. There are five par threes, and about 19 different teeing locations for the various tee markers. At LPGC, there are six different sets of tee markers with all but the NC State Competition tees out every day. View the scorecard at LPCG Scorecard. The reason for rebuilding the tee boxes is because: 1) they were too small to begin with; 2) more than 38,000 rounds a year are being played at LPGC; and, 3) the maintenance staff does not move the markers enough to prevent major destruction in specific spots (see reason No. 1).

And, it appears, just for the Rex Hospital Open, the 17th hole will be played from a new, temporary tee box. In the last post, I wrote that the second hole would change, but that idea has been nixed because of the cost of building a green to PGA Tour standards. But, the PGA Tour, we understand, is concerned about traffic flow from the 16th green to the 17th tee, so instead of the current tees for the 17th hole, a special tee is on the drawing board. It will be placed to the right of the 16th green between the 16th fairway and the 18th fairway. That’s actually a cost that does not need to be taken on by anyone. Despite the confluence of the 13th green, the 14th tee, the 16th green and the 17th tee, and the desire to spread the traffic flow, the course is fine just as it was designed. If it is built, those teeing off on No. 17 will be in danger or stray drives from the 16th and 18th tees, but the traffic flow will be better. Hah!

And, last but not least is the continuation of a drainage project that was started last year. There was not enough money to complete the project at that time, so it’s being rolled into the other renovations.With solid clay soil under all fairways, and with lots of low spots developed while building the course, drainage has been and probably will always be an issue at LPGC.

Again, total cost is said to be One Million Dollars (click the link) as Dr. Evil said in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. The question is: from where does the money flow? My guess is that some of it comes from the PGA Tour, if indeed the Rex Hospital Open is being moved to LPGC, but the remainder is a puzzle. No word from Dan Adams, NCSU Associate Vice Chancellor of Enterprise Services which oversees the entire operation of LPGC, but this is one case of the University putting in money to bring the course up to par with either a cash contribution or a “loan” of sorts to be repaid with donations. Inquiries have been made; no response has been forthcoming. Was that Dan Adams asking for the ransom money?

By the way, now that the course rankings for 2014 by the North Carolina Golf Panel are out, if the Rex Hospital Open moves to LPCG from TPC at Wakefield Plantation, the Web.com even will be moving from the 73rd ranked course (Wakefield) to No. 78 on the list: NC Golf Panel CourseRankings for 2014. In that ranking, Wakefield rose from No. 90 to No. 73 while LPGC dropped from No. 72 to No. 78, most likely the result of Wakefield hosting the NC Golf Panel one day last year and LPGC not.