Naty Alvarado Jr. playing handball

Naty Alvarado Jr. Honored, and Other Members in the News

Posted Sept. 14, 2017

In August, the Southern California Handball Association (SCHA) honored Naty Alvarado Jr., a member of Spring Valley Lake Country Club in Victorville, Calif., by inducting him into the SCHA Hall of Fame. Alvarado, who recently retired from the sport, started playing handball at age 15, winning 63 tournaments - the most career wins in the history of the United States Handball Association. The third person in his family to be inducted into the SCHA Hall of Fame, Alvarado follows his father, inducted in 1998, and brother-in-law, inducted in 2012.

Posted Dec. 14, 2016

The Atlanta Business Chronicle named Rubicon Global co-founder Marc Spiegel, a member at the Buckhead Club in Atlanta, to its 2016 "40 Under 40" list in November. Rubicon is a leader in sustainable, cloud-based waste and recycling solutions. Spiegel, who comes from four generations of waste and recycling hauling experience, oversees the company's hauler/vendor management team, which helps businesses reduce operating expenses, implement recycling programs, and save money by finding new and innovative ways to reduce, re-use, and recycle waste.

Posted Aug. 19, 2016

Two junior members traveled to Omaha, Neb., to compete in the Olympic swim trials at the end of June hoping to place high enough to represent the United States in the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Maddie Murphy and Zoie Hartman, both from Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville, Calif., qualified for the important swim meet by achieving very fast times in various races back in California. Murphy, 18, swam the 100-meter butterfly, the 100-meter freestyle, and the 50-meter freestyle, and 15-year-old Hartman swam the 200-meter breaststroke. Although neither of them swam fast enough to join team USA in Rio de Janeiro, they were able to compete with some of the nation's greatest swimmers.

Posted Jan. 29, 2016

In January, member Rick Yancey hosted a party at Club LeConte in Knoxville, Tenn., to celebrate the premiere of The 5th Wave, a major motion picture based on Yancey's debut young-adult science-fiction novel of the same name. Despite a winter storm that brought inches of snow to Knoxville that same day, Yancey's supporters showed up and first watched the film at a historic theatre downtown, and then traveled to the club for drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and autographs from the New York Times-bestselling author.

Posted Aug. 28, 2015

Junior member Matthew Ruel, of East Lake Woodlands Country Club in Oldsmar, Fla., won the 20th annual Sam Parks Junior Invitational, held at Belleair Country Club in Belleair, Fla. on Aug. 23. The 17-year-old birdied three holes early on to get his lead, and eventually ended up three shots ahead of the runner up.

Posted June 10, 2014

Members Larry Pivnick and his wife, Linda, held a launch party at their home club, the Clubs of Prestonwood, on May 20 for Larry’s new novel The Kilgore Curse: A Literary Thriller of Treachery, Murder, and Revenge. Set in Dallas, the novel’s plot centers on the events that ensue after an attorney uncovers a family secret by a chance encounter at his wife’s gravesite. More than 150 guests attended the wine and cheese event. Also in attendance was Chris Meadows, whose real-life family story was the inspiration behind the book. To order the book and find out more information, visit his website here.

Posted April 18, 2014

On April 15, Shahla Niazi officially launched her cookbook Shahla's Kitchen, Cooking with Fire and Ice: Healthy Recipes for Balanced Energy at her home club, Gleneagles Country Club in Plano, Texas. Niazi served platters of fresh fruits, breads, nuts, and feta cheese to more than 75 friends and family who were in attendance, including renowned cardiologist, Dr. Sarah Samaan of Baylor Heart Hospital, who endorses these recipes as heart-healthy. While the guests munched on Niazi's light bites, images of her recipes like Green Beans and Rosemary Rice, and Buffalo Steak with Mushrooms were featured on a slideshow presentation. In the book, Niazi discusses her grandmother's influence on her cooking, including how the balance of "hot and cold" energy foods can keep our bodies vital and active, and also helps alleviate ailments such as an upset stomach. Books are available online and in bookstores. For more information, visit her website at

Posted Feb. 26, 2014

Shannon Russo, a member of Country Club of the South in Johns Creek, Ga., made a hole-in-one at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Course last fall. She made the memorable 109-yard shot on the course's second hole with her 9-iron. Russo, CEO of Kinetix, an Atlanta-based recruitment process outsourcing firm, is just the second woman to hit a hole-in-one on the course since 1995.

Posted Sept. 24, 2012


Member huddles up with football-lovin' buddies to hit major college rivalry matchups each year

College football's allure hinges on legendary rivalries. But for Scott Andrews, it's not enough to watch the games on TV; he wants to be a part of the action. Andrews, a member of Countryside Country Club in Clearwater, Fla., participates in the College Rivalry Football Tour, a 13-year-old group that attends one major college rivalry game each year.

"We have a core group of about five people who go every year, and [the group's size] changes every year," Andrews says. "Some people come once and are never able to do it again, and some go every year."

While the group comes together over a mutual love of college football, it's about much more than the game, acknowledges the group's co-founder, Jeff Watkins. "The game becomes almost an afterthought," Watkins says. "It's more about getting together and catching up. There is a lot of anticipation and planning that goes into it. And there are things we do every trip, like have a darts championship and get in a poker game before going out to the ballgame."

They also schedule cultural activities in the various matchup cities, such as visiting historical landmarks. Group members take turns hosting and planning each event, and when they settled on the Florida State/Miami showdown as their game last year, Andrews hosted.

"It gave us the chance to take full advantage of what ClubCorp has to offer, because the University Center Club [in Tallahassee] is at the south end zone of Doak Campbell Stadium," Andrews says. "We started with lunch on Friday at the club." There, one of the university's past Chief Osceola mascots visited with the group and explained the mascot's history.

The group's rivalry wish list was shortened when Texas A&M announced it was leaving the Big 12 Conference after the 2011 season. They had never made it to a Texas/Texas A&M game, although that rivalry was voted the top college rivalry in a USA Today online poll.

"That game was always held in reverence, but we had agreed not to leave our families on Thanksgiving," Andrews says. "That was the game we always talked about."

The loss of that rivalry won't slow this group down, however. "We'll be doing this as long as we can still stand up," Andrews says.  - PAULA FELPS

Click here for a gallery of the College Rivalry Football Tour gang.

Posted July 2, 2012

As he's done for the last seven years, Fred Badyna, an Armor Wealth Management adviser and member of Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, Texas, was behind the DJ boards - aided by wife Mercedes - for the Citizens Development Center's annual Summer Bash in Dallas on June 29. The celebratory event honors the more than 160 men and women with severe disabilities who participate in the CDC's Work Center Program, which gives them a place to work although they are unable to find work in the community or prefer to work in a protective environment. A lifelong music lover, Badyna often DJs at friends' parties and weddings, and volunteers for several charitable organizations. He serves on CDC's Board of Directors. "CDC has opened up a whole new excitement for us as they are the best and most appreciative audience we have ever been around," Badyna says. "We have been touched by their friendship, their thoughtfulness, and gratefulness that they have a safe place to go every day, see their friends, and be productive citizens."

Posted March 27, 2012

The Westmoreland County Winners' Circle will honor Susan Nelson, a member at Diamond Run Golf Club in Sewickley, Pa., with a 2012 Athena Award on May 16. Nelson, senior vice president and senior trust executive for First Commonwealth Advisors, will be recognized for her devotion to improving the quality of life of others, her efforts in mentoring women to reach their leadership potential, and her professional excellence.

Posted Feb. 7, 2012

• NFL great Chris Doleman, a member at Country Club of the South in Johns Creek, Ga., has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During his 15 NFL seasons, mostly with the Minnesota Vikings, the defensive end instilled fear in quarterbacks, racking up 150.5 sacks. He made the Pro Bowl eight times during his career. He joined Curtis Martin, Cortez Kennedy, Dermontti Dawson, Willie Roaf, and senior selection Jack Butler in the Hall's Class of 2012. They will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 4.

Posted March 17, 2011

Jenn Greacen and Jarret Crawford, members of Centre Club in Tampa, Fla., are taking their bows after their company, Red Frog Marketing, recently took home four 2011 Addy Awards for one of their ad campaigns. Greacen is executive director and Crawford operations manager at the boutique agency. The winning "Lucky" campaign, created for the University of Tampa, educates students on the hazards of irresponsible behaviors. The Addys is the world's largest advertising competition with more than 50,000 entries each year.

Posted Sept. 17, 2010

• Next time you see the 4.0 Senior Men's tennis team from Le Club in Milwaukee, give them a high-five. In August, they won the USTA Midwest State League Championship in Fort Wayne, Ind., and took home the division trophy. Next, they move on to the national tournament, scheduled for October.

Posted Sept. 2, 2010

• In August, Beth Weems Pirtle, a member of Brookhaven Country Club near Dallas, won the new senior division of the American Dreams Pageant, held in New Orleans. The 74-year-old beauty also won the pageant's "People's Choice" award, and her gown, a Terry Costa creation, was picked as best evening dress.

Posted April 26, 2010

Charlie Bruce, a member of Capital City Club in Raleigh, N.C., has been recognized by American Honda Motor Co. for achieving one of the highest sales volumes in 2009, while meeting the company's high standards for customer satisfaction and product knowledge. He is one of just 33 out of more than 12,000 Honda sales consultants nationwide to receive the honor.

• Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, a member of Diamond Run Golf Club in Sewickley, Pa., was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his cornerback career with the Detroit Lions. LeBeau was profiled in Private Clubs ("Connect") in the Fall 2009 issue.

Posted Feb. 4, 2010

Dick Babush, a member of the Buckhead Club in Atlanta, will receive the 2010 Greater Good Award from the Georgia Planned Giving Council on May 11. The award recognizes exemplary service by Georgia's charitable advisers. Babush currently serves on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, a top fundraising organization in the city. "It's truly fulfilling to witness the positive impact that gifts made through planned giving arrangements have on the community," he says.

Posted Sept. 25, 2009

• It's been a wild ride for Steve Olson, a member of the Greenspoint Club in Houston. The vice president of sales for Rigid Building Systems, a leading steel-building company, was chatting with clients at the SunTrust Indy Challenge this summer when he got a phone call from the pit crew. "I was joking with my clients that the pit crew needed my help during the race," Olson said. "But when I walked down there, the crew handed me a fire suit and asked me to help pull flat tires off cars. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will never forget." Olson's company sponsors Dreyer & Reinbold, a racing team that had two drivers at the race.

Tyler Whitehurst, an 18-year-old autistic golfer and member of Countryside Country Club in Clearwater, Fla., recently won the gold medal in the Florida State Special Olympics Tournament in Clermont. He took top honors in the 18-hole golf division with scores of 85 and 91. It was his first time to register for the 18-hole competition. He hopes to be invited to the national games next July.

Posted July 14, 2009

• Actor Chace Crawford, who maintains a membership with his family at Gleneagles Country Club near Dallas, is all over the press these days. The Gossip Girl star was recently named "Summer's Hottest Bachelor" by People magazine, and is set to begin filming the musical remake of the '80s classic Footloose in March.

Katherine Perry, a 17-year-old junior member at Lochmere Golf Club in Cary, N.C., ultimately may not have made the cut for the Women's U.S. Open in Bethlehem, Pa., July 6-12, but what a journey it was. After earning a spot at the Open by winning the Women's U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Sanford, N.C., earlier this year, the young golfer made it to the second round of the Open. She ended strong with four pars and one bogey over the final five holes, but missed the cut with a 20-over-par.

Posted June 9, 2009

• Good news for PGA golfer Chad Campbell, a member at Gleneagles Country Club near Dallas. The calf injury he sustained while playing in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on May 29 has been diagnosed as a strain rather than anything more serious. Though he had to withdraw from the Colonial, he is preparing to play in the U.S. Open June 15-21.

• Junior golfer Jordan Spieth, a member of Dallas' Brookhaven Country Club who was featured in "Connect" in the Spring 2009 issue of Private Clubs, shot a 7-under-par 65 to win the Class 5A boys title at Texas' state high school golf championships. He ended with a two-day score of 139.

M. Yousuff Hussaini, a member of the University Center Club in Tallahassee, Fla., has been elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at Florida State University. Hussaini established the university's computational science and engineering program, focusing on such mechanical engineering aspects as nanomaterials and cryogenics.

• Giving spirit: James L. Weidner, a member of City Club on Bunker Hill in Los Angeles, has been honored with the 2009 Spirit of Life Award, City of Hope's top philanthropic award. City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center in Duarte, Calif., for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Upon announcing the honor, Michael Sandler, City of Hope's director of development, said: "For nearly 20 years, James Weidner has been an avid advocate for City of Hope and its mission. His leadership and dedication has made a significant impact in helping our physicians and scientists move the latest discoveries into improved treatments for patients everywhere."

La Cima Club near Dallas has presented members Dan and Earlene Matkin with its annual John R. Hill Jr. Legacy Award. The award recognizes individuals who are instrumental in pioneering achievements at the club and its surrounding community

Posted May 5, 2009

Yousif Ghafari, a member of the Renaissance Club in Detroit, has been named 2009 World Trader of the Year by the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation and the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership. Ghafari is founder and chairman of Ghafari, a full-service organization of architects, engineers, and consultants that serves a global clientele in aviation, manufacturing, government, and commercial sectors. The award recognizes high-profile people who have made significant contributions to the promotion of international trade in the region.

• The Centre Club in Tampa, Fla., has had quite an influence on its community. Tampa Bay CEO Magazine recognized 12 of the club's members on its list of Tampa Bay's 100 Most Influential Business Leaders. Honorees were toasted at a special reception on April 30. The club's influential dozen are: Greg Bryant, David Fischer, Judy Gay, Kevin Hourigan, Nancy Howe, Thomas James, Joyce Mitchell, Stuart Rogel, Ron Rotella, Matt Silverman, Gwendolyn Stephenson, and Malcolm Teasdale.

Michele Thomson, a member with her family at Hearthstone Country Club in Houston, logged her first professional win in her first event as a pro golfer. The 21-year-old Scot from Ellon Golf Club in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, shot a 220 after 54 holes to win the $2,000 top prize at the SunCoast Ladies Tour on April 19.

Posted April 14, 2009

Joseph J. James, a member of Capital City Club in Columbia, S.C., recently received the Purpose Prize from Civic Ventures in recognition of his "Greening of Black America" initiative. The program, developed through James' nonprofit company, the Corporation for Economic Opportunity, creates new jobs, revitalizes rural communities, and helps black farmers retain their land. Each year, the Purpose Prize awards $100,000 to five people over 60 years old who are addressing societal challenges.

• California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced the appointment of City Club on Bunker Hill member William Gailey of Los Angeles to a second three-year term on the California State Bar Board of Governors. Gailey is chairman and founder of Gailey Associates, an investigation and intelligence-gathering firm.

• Super, indeed. Beverly Hall, superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools since 1999 and a member of Atlanta's One Ninety One Club, has been named 2009 National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators. As part of the honor, a $10,000 scholarship in Hall's name will be presented to a high school student.

Sandra Forster of Garland, Texas, always puts others first - and has the award to prove it. The member of La Cima Club near Dallas was recognized by Rotary International with its RI Service Above Self Award, the organization's highest honor for individual Rotarians. Each year, up to 150 Rotarians nationwide are acknowledged for their humanitarian service. Forster's volunteer work has included distributing wheelchairs in Texas, Mexico, and Peru; and various Rotary projects in Europe, Africa, India, and South America.

Mike Simpson, a member of Stonebriar Country Club near Dallas, received the Tom Landry Leadership Award from Dallas Baptist University on March 23. Since joining the Arts of Collin County near Dallas as the new executive director last December, Simpson has helped raise $1.5 million toward the final $20 million needed to start construction on a new arts hall. The award honors individuals who "exhibit exceptional leadership, are committed to serving others, and demonstrate integrity in their personal lives."

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