Wednesday, May 31

What I Recieved in the Mail That Will Change My Life

Day 2 without playing golf

What, exactly, did I get in the mail last Saturday that will change my life, at least in terms of golf?

An invitation to Great Oaks Country Club.

Yes, indeedy! We (my family) had been on the waiting list for a year and a half and were hoping that our invitation would arrive in time for summer.

Obviously, there is a God. This is just one more thing to be thankful for.

Excuse me while I do a few cartwheels. On second thought, I better not stupidly injure myself and remove myself from golf action.

Great Oaks is not a fancy country club. In fact, it's more "country" than "club," which is why folks in our income bracket can swing a membership. But it's a fine track, with plenty of undulating tree-lined terrain and excellent greens.

The beauty of this is that it works great for the whole family. There's a pool for the wife and kids, and my oldest daughter (who is 10) wants to take up golf.

As George emphatically said in a "Seinfeld" episode, "I'm back, baby!"

The Armchair Golfer

Monday, May 29

Things Are About to Change

Day 9 without playing golf

When I started this blog late last summer, I hadn’t played much golf for a number of years. (Like 10 years.)

Kids, work and family life had turned me into an armchair golfer -- someone who, at best, might catch a little golf on TV and play a few times a year. Being a family man -- and someone who had the good fortune of playing a lot when I was young -- I accepted this. It was a different season in my life, a season that didn't include much golf. Plus, I always figured I would get back to playing this great game again.

Well, I got something in the mail on Saturday, and things are about to change. The timing couldn’t be better. And I look forward to telling you more. Come on back.

The Armchair Golfer

Friday, May 26

Only Four Club Pros in History of Winged Foot

Day 6 without playing golf

Winged Foot, the site of next month’s U.S. Open Championship, has had just four club pros in its 83-year history.

Current club pro Tom Nieporte succeeded the legendary Claude Harmon in 1978. The 77-year-old Nieporte knew he had landed his dream job. And after 28 years, he’s in no hurry to step aside -- especially since Winged Foot is hosting this year’s national championship.

“It’s going to be a tremendous Open championship,” Nieporte said at USGA.com. “The course is as good as I’ve seen it.”

The other two Winged Foot club pros were Mike Brady and Craig Wood, who won The Masters in 1941.

The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, May 24

Overheard on Tour

Day 4 without playing golf

"There's no way you can inspire somebody unless you're truly inspired yourself. Nobody loves the Ryder Cup more than I do. I promise you, nobody loves it more."
--Tom Lehman, U.S. Ryder Cup Captain

(Source: Associated Press, May 23)

The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, May 21

Lumpy Proud to Wear Plaid

Day 1 without playing golf

"This winning thing isn't that easy," Tim Herron told the Associated Press.

The Tour player known as "Lumpy" surrendered his lead only to sink a nine-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff at the Colonial.

Herron's birdie on the second playoff hole secured the victory over Richard Johnson. It was Tim's first win since Bay Hill in 1999. Lumpy collected $1.08 million and an ugly red plaid jacket for his trip around Hogan's Alley. He couldn't be happier.

In a side note, David Duval shot four rounds of par or better at Colonial, finishing at five under with a final round 68. It was the first time in two years Duval completed a tournament with four rounds of par or better.

The Armchair Golfer

Friday, May 19

Another Sad Tale of the Golf Deprived

Day 4 without playing golf

As I say in my profile, "I know there are others like me -- the golf deprived." One of those may surprise you. It's none other than Rich at Eat Golf.

It seems that Rich has had a very long layoff. How long? Approaching 200 days. He's definitely in the big leagues of the golf deprived.

Here's what Rich relayed to me in a recent email:

"October is my biggest golf month. So I took a break for a few weeks after the 'Calabash' at Calabasas CC and then got in work mode. The next thing I know a couple months went by and then a couple more. And then I hurt my left arm and could not make a full backswing.

"I've been going to the range sometimes just to practice chipping and putting (which I can do pain free) and usually try to hit just one ball with a full swing but just can't do it.

"I've been exercising the arm and it is almost good enough to swing again. Yesterday I did a full push up. So I'll be back soon!"

Hope so, Rich. In the meantime, keep blogging.

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, May 16

Day 205: Golf, At Last

Day 1 without playing golf

The weather was cool with a threat of rain, but the conditions were agreeable to me. After 204 days without golf action I wasn’t about to complain.

My partner, Walter, and I had teamed up last year in the Young Life Tournament at Blacksburg CC and fared pretty well. I had no expectations this year.

Like me, Walter, a former collegiate golfer at East Carolina, hadn’t played since last fall. If you haven’t played in a long time and decide to tee it up in a tournament, at least make sure it’s a scramble.

Surprisingly, my swing was pretty reliable early on. I hit some golf shots, including a two-iron that covered the flag on a 200-yard par three, although we didn’t hole the 10-footer for birdie.

In the middle of the round I got wild with the driver. I had a serious case of the “rights.” I was blocking the ball big time and couldn’t get it corrected. My irons were not particularly stellar either. Meanwhile, we were on a par parade.

I got my swing back, and starting on 13 we caught fire. (At least for a couple of hackers who don’t play much.) Walter knocked a wedge to two feet on the par five. Birdie.

On 14, I drove it down the middle and then knocked a five iron to 10 feet. I drained it for another birdie. On 15, a par three, I hit a four iron to 9 feet. Walter holed it -- birdie. On 16, my drive and 9 iron put us 12 feet away. That’s right, another birdie. Four in a row.

Hey, this game is fun. I should play more.

We were four under going into the final hole, a par five. Another birdie was conceivable but two poor drives doomed us. We ended up with a six-foot left-to-right breaker for par. We both missed and carded a 69.

It was a lucky break. The cutoff for the second flight was 69, so we tied for first, good for four free golf passes to Hanging Rock CC in Salem. I also won closest to the pin on 15, picking up a couple of gift certificates.

It won’t be a long layoff. I play in another tournament on Saturday. I go 204 days without golf and will now play twice in one week. Go figure.

The Armchair Golfer

Monday, May 15

Unexpected Golf News Roundup

Day 0 without playing golf

You never know what will happen in golf. Not really.

This past weekend Annika Sorenstam missed her first cut since 2002 at the Michelob Ultra Open in Williamsburg, VA.

Raymond Floyd shot his age, no small feat when you’re 63 and still knocking around on the Champions Tour. He fell one stroke short, though, losing to Bobby Wadkins in the Boeing Championship in Destin, FL.

"I can't remember playing a round of golf where I really never missed a golf shot," Floyd was quoted as saying.

Me neither, Ray.

And in perhaps the most surprising golf news, I halted my golfless streak at 204 days, playing in a two-man scramble at Blacksburg Country Club (Virginia).

How did I do after such a ridiculously long layoff? I’ll report soon. Come back.

The Armchair Golfer

Friday, May 12

Golf Rule of the Week

Day 202 without playing golf

Q: A competitor accidentally causes his ball to move after he has addressed it in breach of Rule 18-2b. He is unsure whether the ball must be replaced or played from its new position. He announces that he will invoke Rule 3-3, places a second ball on the spot from which the original ball was moved and states that he wishes the second ball to count if the Rules permit. He plays the second ball first and then plays the original ball. Is the competitor’s procedure correct in terms of the order in which the balls were played?

A: Yes. Rule 3-3 does not require the original ball to be played first and, therefore, the competitor’s procedure was acceptable.

The Armchair Golfer

(Source: USGA)

Thursday, May 11

Overheard on Tour

Day 201 without playing golf

"Fuzzy Zoeller keeps saying I'll never make it to 50. But if he did, I think I will."
--John Daly

(Source: Golf World)

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, May 9

The Golf Gods Smiled on John Daly

Day 199 without playing golf

Recently I posted about Fred Couples and mentioned his amazing golf giftedness.

Today I think about JD as his new book, John Daly: My Life In and Out of the Rough, comes out. John, now 40, has more talent in his pinkie finger than most foursomes.

John Saraceno at USA Today related an anecdote from the book about a Daly encounter with Tiger:

"Indeed, Daly's book includes an anecdote about the time he was in the clubhouse enjoying a beer and Mr. Woods strolled past en route to one of his workout sessions.

"'Hey, man, don't you ever get tired of (exercising)?' Daly asked. 'Come and have a few beers.'

"'If I had your talent,' deadpanned Tiger, 'I wouldn't have to work out.'"

Tiger might have meant every word. John Sadie, Daly's former Arkansas teammate, was quoted as saying "Daly has more talent than Tiger and anyone else out there."

The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, May 4

How Mickelson’s Caddie Became ‘Bones’

Day 194 without playing golf

A Golf World story published in March tells how Phil Mickelson’s caddie Jim Mackay got the nickname “Bones.”

While in Paris working for Larry Mize, Mackay went to a group dinner. It was 1990.

“Back then, I was thin. Really thin, maybe 150,” Mackay told the magazine. “Freddie (Couples) wanted me to pass the salt or something, but he didn’t know who I was. So he just called out ‘Bones.’ It stuck. Did it ever stick.”

If there’s a guy on Tour who likes caddying better, I don’t know who it would be.

But then toting Phil’s sticks isn’t such a bad gig. I’m sure many of us would gladly trade places with Bones, if only for a season.

The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, May 3

Earl Woods Dies

Day 193 without playing golf

The man who helped turn Tiger into a household name died Wednesday at his Southern California home after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer.

Earl Woods once told Golf Digest “my purpose in raising Tiger was not to raise a golfer. I wanted to raise a good person.” He did both.

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, May 2

Wachovia Championship: Here I (Don't) Come

Day 192 without playing golf

Gotta work, otherwise I'd be tempted to take a spin down I-77 to the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, NC, this week. It's just a two and a half hour drive from my mountain abode.

With the exception of Tiger, all the big boys will be there: Phil, Ernie, Vijay and Retief. Unfortunately, I won't.

The Armchair Golfer

Monday, May 1

Ballesteros at British?

Day 191 without playing golf

This won't keep you awake tonight, but there's news that Seve Ballesteros might play in the British Open this July at Hoylake.

"A realistic possibility," Seve was quoted as saying last week.

Ballesteros, 49, has been bothered by back and knee problems in recent years, the AP story said. (Not to mention various problems with his golf game.)

The British Open entry deadline is June 1.

The Armchair Golfer