Saturday, October 31

Golf Shots: Urban Golf in Chicago


(Photos courtesy of The Skillet Lickers/Flickr)

Urban golf is a game derived from the original game of golf,
in which individual players or teams hit a ball into a hole
or at a specified target using various clubs.

—Wikipedia


Playing it way back in the stance.


Someone call Hank Haney.


An urban golf caddie?


The dumpster recovery, one of the toughest shots
in urban golf.


Must be happy with his score.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, October 30

Halloween Edition: Golf’s Spookiest Shots

TOMORROW IS HALLOWEEN. But if you’re a golfer—especially a tour pro who plays the game for a living—it’s Halloween every day you tee it up. Because ghosts, goblins, haunted houses and Freddy Krueger are kid stuff compared to golf. Golf is sheer terror, a gruesome monster that will eat you alive.

Following are some of golf’s spookiest shots. (Note: The spookiness factor is on a scale of 1 to 10.)

The opening tee shot
Butterflies are common on the first tee, even for tour pros. That’s why you see hooks, blocks and all manner of tee shots until the jitters wear off. (If they do.)
Spookiness factor: 7
(9 if it’s the Ryder Cup)

OB right
Right-handed golfers who play a natural draw can somehow hit a push-fade when there are OB stakes down the right-hand side of the fairway. (Thanks to Shane Bacon for this one.)
Spookiness factor: 7

Any shot over water
This one always amazes me. I think, “They’re pros. No problem.” Then splash. This year I saw a journeyman dump a wedge shot in the drink while leading the Memorial. And it happens every year at the Masters. Someone hits it in the water when you least expect it.
Spookiness factor: 7
(10 if you’re leading in the final round of the Masters)

The three-footer

I have a theory: The more you hate three-footers, the more three-footers you’ll have. Actually, it’s probably a law. Careers are made or destroyed by the short putt. Sam Snead. Doug Sanders. Scott Hoch.
Spookiness factor: 8
(10 if it’s to win your first major)

The shank
“I think he shanked it.” You don’t want Johnny Miller saying that on TV after you hit a 4-iron from a perfect lie in the middle of the fairway. Once it happens, it’s in the back of your mind on every shot the rest of the way. Even on putts.
Spookiness factor: 10

BONUS: AN EVENT


Q-School
Is there anything scarier than playing for your golf life?
Spookiness factor: 10

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: jontimarsh/Flickr)

Thursday, October 29

Is New LPGA Commissioner a Magic Whan?

TOOTHPASTE, GOLF AND HOCKEY. Michael Whan, the newly announced LPGA commissioner, has excelled in all three as a marketing and brand guru. Most recently, Whan was the CEO of a small hockey equipment company called Mission Itech Hockey.

Described as a “superstar” and “world-class marketer” by Mark King, a former Whan colleague who is now CEO of TaylorMade Golf, can the 44-year-old Whan work his magic on the LPGA?

Don’t expect a quick answer.

Whan will officially take the reins from interim LPGA commissioner Marty Evans on January 1. But he was hopping a plane to San Diego after yesterday’s introductory press conference to attend the LPGA’s Tournament Owners Association meetings.

“I have a personal philosophy about leadership that maybe not everybody understands,” Whan said in a GolfChannel.com story by Randall Mell.

“I believe in listen, learn and lead, and you do it in that order. You’ve got to listen so that you can learn, and once you’ve listened and learned, you’re prepared to lead. So I tend to believe that my first few months in the position are going to be with pretty large ears and pretty small mouth because I’ve got more to learn than I’ve got to offer and beyond, but I can’t wait to jump in.”

More:

Daunting Challenges Ahead for LPGA Commissioner Whan (Golf Channel)
A Not-So-Revealing Interview with Mike Whan (Stephanie Wei)
After Troubled Season, LPGA Names New Leader (New York Times)

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, October 28

2009 Viking Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

UPDATE: The Viking Classic has been canceled.

THE 2009 VIKING CLASSIC begins on Thursday at Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Mississippi.

Purse: $3.7 million
Winner’s share: $666,000
Defending champion: Will MacKenzie

Inside the field
Inside the course
Big name bubble boys

2009 Viking Classic Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Eight hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Viking Classic.

Thu, 10/29:

GOLF 2:30p - 4:30p ET

Fri, 10/30:
GOLF 2:30p - 4:30p ET

Sat, 10/31:
GOLF 2:30p - 4:30p ET

Sun, 11/1:
GOLF 2:30p - 4:30p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, October 27

Chris DiMarco and the Corporate Outing

CHRIS DIMARCO IS THROWING golf balls on the practice range of Pinehurst No. 2 on Monday. He is trying to hit a small pane of glass stamped with a PGA of America logo that is perched on a metal stand about 30 yards away.

The object of this part of the skills challenge is to hit a low bullet-like shot that shatters the glass. (Maybe you’ve seen this stunt on the Golf Channel.) Fellow tour pros Natalie Gulbis and Zach Johnson break the glass. Gulbis succeeds in four or five tries; Johnson on his second attempt.

Chris can only come close. Now he is heaving golf balls in mock frustration until he finally hits the mark. Maybe it’s a small glimpse into the fiery competitive personality DiMarco is known for.

I admit I hadn’t thought lately about DiMarco, a top PGA Tour player a few years ago who battled Tiger Woods at the 2005 Masters, finished second in the British Open and sunk a Presidents Cup-clinching putt.

What happened to him?

The Outing

The McGladrey Team Championship is more than a corporate outing. It’s a national amateur tournament sponsored by RSM McGladrey and conducted by the PGA of America. The finals are at Pinehurst, considered by many as the home of American golf and a steward of golf tradition.

I use outing in a generic sense, an opportunity and obligation for a tour professional. While the caddie’s credo is “show up, keep up and shut up,” the tour pro’s outing credo could be “show up, keep up and talk it up.” Plus smile a lot. Outings are a perpetual photo op.

I’m at Pinehurst feeling a bit like the boy who climbed the country club fence and sneaked onto the grounds to witness what goes on there. I’m not an outing crasher, though. I’m an invited guest. I observe the seemingly odd intersection of corporate sponsor, famous golf resort, professional golf association, amateur competitors and tour professionals. This is a side of golf not visible on cable and network television.

The tour pros—Gulbis, Johnson and DiMarco—are here to smile for every photo, shake every hand and sign every autograph. They’re here to raise money for Special Olympics, the official charity, and talk about the team concept of their common sponsor, RSM McGladrey, a national accounting and tax firm. And they’re here to congratulate and mingle with the amateur golfers who have played their way to Pinehurst. There’s a lot to do in one day, including media, so they’re on a tight schedule.

DiMarco flew in on a red-eye from Phoenix, where he played in the Frys.com Open. He arrived in Charlotte at 6 a.m. and shuttled 100 miles east to Pinehurst. After breakfast and interviews, he walks to the practice range for the skills challenge. Maybe the brisk weather will keep him awake and alert after his all-night cross-country flight.

Forty-five minutes later Chris is winding up and throwing golf balls. He shows up and keeps up. I also remember that he never gives up.

Shoulder Injury

In 2005, DiMarco was ranked 10th in the world. In 2006—the year he finished second to Tiger in the British Open—he was still in the top 20. But in March of that year he noticed a pop in his right shoulder. Something was wrong. He played with it for the remainder of 2006 and the 2007 season. Meanwhile, his game went south.

“Six times a round, I’d pull it left when I didn’t mean to,” he told the Orange County Register earlier this year.

After surgery two years ago, Chris is now trying to hang on to his PGA Tour card. Once a mainstay in the top 20 on the PGA Tour money list, he is currently 138th, just outside the top 125 who enjoy exempt status. It’s why he’s playing in the Fall Series and took a red-eye from the Frys.com Open, where he shot four rounds in the 60s but made up no ground on the money list.

I walk to the 1st tee of Pinehurst No. 8 where DiMarco is stationed to greet amateur players. My hosts tell me I can grab a few minutes with him in between groups, photos and autographs. I have my questions and tiny voice recorder at the ready.

The groups clear out and it’s just Chris, the co-host of Chris’s radio show (called oPINionated with Chris DiMarco), a producer and me standing beside the 1st tee. The co-host says we have two short segments to record for an upcoming show. Let’s bang it out, Chris replies. I listen as the host asks many of the questions on my list.

Chris then turns to me. My questions and recorder seem pointless. I shove them into my pocket and reach out to shake his hand. We walk up the hill toward the clubhouse.

Chris tells me his shoulder is good. It’s good to feel healthy again, he adds.

It sounds like your game is coming back, I say.

He tells me he is hitting it well and just needs to make more putts. There’s determination in his voice. He will play the last two events on the schedule, this week’s Viking Classic in Madison, Mississippi, and the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in Orlando.

What about your status? I ask.

If he doesn’t make it into the top 125, Chris tells me he could use a one-time top 50 in career earnings exemption but would rather save it. Instead, he says he’ll probably rely on his top 150 money list finish, which will get him into 15 to 18 PGA Tour events in 2010.

I wish him luck and tell him it doesn’t seem that long ago that he was in a playoff with Tiger at the Masters. He nods, thanks me, and heads off to the next thing on the schedule. The fire is still there. I hope he makes it back.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:

Q&A: Natalie Gulbis at Pinehurst

Monday, October 26

Gulbis, Johnson and DiMarco Kick Off McGladrey Team Finals


Chris DiMarco, Natalie Gulbis and Zach Johnson
(Courtesy of Pinehurst Resort)


I JUST RETURNED FROM a quick trip to Pinehurst for the start of The McGladrey Team Championship, a national amateur best-ball tournament conducted by the PGA of America. About 40 teams teed off today in the three-day finals that will be contested on Pinehurst’s Nos. 2, 4 and 8 courses.

I attended a skills challenge on the practice range of Pinehurst No. 2 this morning that featured RSM McGladrey tour professionals Natalie Gulbis, Zach Johnson and Chris DiMarco. Special Olympics golf members and RSM McGladrey VIPs also participated. It was breezy and chilly (Natalie wrapped herself in a Pinehurst blanket between shots), but everyone had a good time and a few hearty laughs.

I drove home late this afternoon and will have more soon on my visit to Pinehurst, including my time with Natalie, Zach and Chris. I’ll also bring you a special interview with a surprise guest. Look for that early next week.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, October 25

A Trip to Pinehurst for The McGladrey Team Championship


(deltamike/Flickr)

I’M IN PINEHURST, NORTH CAROLINA, for The McGladrey Team Championship, a national best-ball amateur tournament conducted by the PGA of America. The amateur teams at Pinehurst have already advanced through a local qualifying event and a section championship. The finals are this week at the Pinehurst courses, and each amateur team will be playing with their local PGA golf pro.

I’ve known I was coming for a few weeks, but I don’t think it really sunk in until I exited onto NC-211 and covered the last 17 miles to the famous resort. I’m the guest of RSM McGladrey, with special thanks to Jake Rosen at Sports Media Challenge. Pinehurst is southern hospitality at its best. And the golf courses aren’t too bad either. This wasn’t a hard decision for me.

Also present are RSM McGladrey tour professionals Natalie Gulbis, Zach Johnson and Chris DiMarco. They will perform in a skills challenge on Monday and spend the day as event ambassadors.

On Sunday night I attended a reception that included silent and live auctions. The event’s official charity is the Special Olympics golf program. Judging from hefty bids on live auction items such as a Sheryl Crow-autographed guitar and a two-day outing with Natalie (who stands close to 7 feet tall in heels), I would say they raised a tidy sum.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, October 24

Golf Shots: Basra, Iraq


(U.S. Army/Flickr)

MAJOR JARROD MORELAND, 4th Region Department of Border Enforcement, drives a golf ball during the long-drive portion of a Tee It Up for the Troops competition. The event was held at the Contingency Operating Base in Basra, Iraq, on Sept. 11, 2009.

The Columbia, Maryland, native said the event went well and that it was a great morale builder for the troops on Sept. 11.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Source: U.S. Army)

Friday, October 23

Don’t Call Robert Allenby a Journeyman

YOU CAN CALL ROBERT ALLENBY a golf grump, a whiner and a sore loser. But please don’t call the veteran Aussie golfer “a run-of-the-mill journeyman.”

That’s an actual comment I saw—and others like it—after Allenby criticized Anthony Kim’s alleged behavior on the eve of the pair’s singles match at the Presidents Cup. (Allenby was whipped 5 and 3 by Kim.)

Allenby would have been smart to hold his tongue. Understandably, his comments unleashed the wrath of many golf fans. But his game took an unfair hit. Robert Allenby is a good player. Take a look at his record.

Allenby, 38, has won four times on the PGA Tour (three of the four in playoffs). He also has four wins on the European Tour. (That’s eight quality wins.) Allenby has five top 10s in majors and has played in five of the eight Presidents Cups. He ranks 19th in career earnings on the PGA Tour.

Journeyman numbers?

For comparison, here’s the PGA Tour win total of a sampling of European and international players:

Mike Weir 8
Sergio Garcia 7
Retief Goosen 7
Geoff Ogilvy 6
Adam Scott 6
Padraig Harrington 5
Darren Clarke 2
Henrik Stenson 2
Lee Westwood 1
Paul Casey 1
Ian Poulter 0
Justin Rose 0
Colin Montgomerie 0

After rounds of 64 and 66, Allenby is currently tied for the lead with Martin Kaymer after two rounds of the Castello Masters, this week’s European Tour event. You might call Robert a jerk, but he’s no run-of-the-mill journeyman.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, October 22

Special to Air on 10th Anniversary of Payne Stewart’s Death


The Payne Stewart statue on the Walk of Fame at Pinehurst.
(scbluedevil/Flickr)


SUNDAY WILL MARK the 10th anniversary of the untimely death of Payne Stewart, a multiple major winner and one of the PGA Tour’s charismatic personalities. In remembrance of Stewart’s impact both on and off the golf course, GOLF CHANNEL will air a one-hour special on Sunday at noon Eastern Time.

Hosted by Kraig Kann, Steve Sands and Charlie Rymer, the special will feature the most memorable moments in Payne’s career, including:

• The donation of his winnings to charity from the 1987 Bay Hill Invitational.

• His passion and patriotism for the Ryder Cup, and a look back at his five performances, including his concession to Colin Montgomerie in 1999.

• His three major championship victories, including the dramatic 1999 U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst over Phil Mickelson.

GOLF CHANNEL’s Scott Walker will visit with Stewart’s family at the recently opened Payne Stewart Golf Club in his home state of Missouri. The special will also include interviews with fellow PGA Tour professionals and friends in the golf community who will share their memories of Payne.

My Strange Coincidence

I could not have planned this, but I will be in Pinehurst on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of Stewart’s tragic death in a plane accident.

I will be attending the finals of the 2009 McGladrey Team Championship, a national best-ball amateur tournament conducted by the PGA of America. It will be a treat to be in Pinehurst. My awareness of Payne’s anniversary and tribute will make it even more special. I’ll be sure to visit the famous Stewart statue.

Can it really be a decade since Payne sank that 15-foot putt to win the U.S. Open and affectionately gripped Phil Mickelson’s head in his hands? It doesn’t seem that long ago.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, October 21

Lucas Glover Pockets Easiest $600K of His Young Life

LET ME SEE IF I have this right. You fly to Bermuda for two rounds of golf. If you beat three other guys, you fly home with 600,000 bones. The event has a fancy name—PGA Grand Slam of Golf—but still. Three guys. (Really, just two, because the other one flew the milk run from the Far East and was jet lagged into next week.)

Lucas Glover is your winner. The Clemson grad fired a 65-66 at Port Royal Golf Course to best Stewart Cink, Angel Cabrera and Y.E. Yang. I didn’t see a single shot.

OK, so Glover did have to win the U.S. Open to get into the foursome. And the other guys are also major winners. Still, it’s not a bad way to start your week.

Still Hungry?

If the PGA Grand Slam of Golf leaves you hungry for something more, there’s always the Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast: buttermilk pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. (Two of each.) And you don’t have to be a major winner. It’s yours for under 10 bucks.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, October 20

How to Wow Tiger Woods



YOU’RE AT A TIGER WOODS appearance. It’s one of Tiger’s course design projects and he pulls out his driver to hit a few ceremonial tee shots for a crowd that includes potential investors.

Tiger, as he’s apt to do, loses a couple of drives to the right. Who else wants to try? he asks.

The crowd goes silent. Some of the onlookers scan the group to see if anyone has the guts to take an impromptu golf swing in front of the world’s greatest golfer. That’s when you raise your hand.

“You’re up,” Tiger says.

You walk over, grab a driver and a ball, and tee it up. You take one practice swing. Then you pipe one right down the gut of one of Tiger’s soon-to-be-designed golf holes.

Cue cheers. Cue applause.

“Wow,” Tiger says. “Do that again. We got to see that again.”

You oblige.

“Well done,” Tiger says.

You act all casual about it. And then you wake up. Unless you’re Mark Benevento Jr. of Somers Point, New Jersey. Mark is 12 years old. A seventh grader. He’s also my new hero.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Source: Golf.com)

Monday, October 19

Ricky Fowler Has One Tricked-Out Set of Golf Wheels


Ricky Fowler and his custom golf ride.
(Courtesy of Puma)


TWENTY-YEAR-OLD RICKY FOWLER IS TOUTED as one of the next big things in pro golf. And although Fowler doesn’t have his PGA Tour card (yet), he finished T7 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open this past weekend in Las Vegas. Ricky will go PGA Tour-card hunting at Q-school this fall.

But let’s get to the golf cart, shall we?

According to PUMA, Fowler’s new sponsor, the above red buggy is “a tricked-out, motocross-inspired golf cart” and “features a roll cage, off-road tires, a push bar and a state-of-the-art stereo system.” Ricky used the cart in the pro-am of the recent Soboba Classic Tournament, a Nationwide Tour event.

A motocross-style golf cart. Hmmm. I think there may be a market for that. You could drive it right into those giant bunkers, splash through creeks and water hazards, and speed across off-fairway terrain in search of those wild “I’ll never find that” tee shots.

Fowler Bio

Once a promising motocross competitor, Fowler started playing competitive golf at the age of 14. As a freshman at Oklahoma State, he was the youngest recipient of the Ben Hogan Award, given to the nation’s top men’s college golfer. He also earned the Phil Mickelson Award the same year.

For the past two years, Fowler has been ranked as the world’s No. 1 amateur and was also part of two Walker Cup Teams. This year, he played in several tournaments on the PGA Tour, including the U.S. Open. He made his professional debut in September at the Albertsons Boise Open.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, October 18

ARMCHAIR GOLF Briefs: Golf Products and Services


(Jason Pearce/Flickr)

Assorted news items sent to ARMCHAIR GOLF. Endorsement is not implied. No consideration or compensation was received.

The Art of Scoring by Stan Utley (Gotham Books, on sale 9/17, $26). Golf’s short-game guru and “hottest instructor in golf” (Sports Illustrated) presents a ground-breaking guide for lowering your score with a powerful new approach to strategizing, decision-making, and management for every part of your short game.

Damage Control by Dave Pelz (Gotham Books, on sale 11/12, $35). In Damage Control Dave Pelz explains that it is a fact of golf that you will hit errant shots—into deep rough, into sand, into shallow water, or near obstacle that will inhibit your swing. Damage Control shows readers how to recover from these shots, and not make a bad situation worse by hitting the ball into deeper trouble.

Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA) established an official partnership with the Mexican Golf Federation, the governing body of amateur golf for Mexico under the United States Golf Association (USGA), which oversees both the United States and Mexico.

Bob and Linda Penett have recorded a comedy CD entitled Golf Amnesia (GolfAmnesia.com).

GolfGym tour pro and Coach Joey D client Tom Pernice Jr. won the SAS Championship in his Champions Tour debut. Pernice works with Coach Joey Diovisalvi, one of the elite biomechanics, strength and conditioning coaches on the PGA Tour, and uses GolfGym training products in the fitness trailers as part of his golf fitness program.

Sweet Spot Golf is committed to manufacturing performance based golf clubs while adding a unique sense of design and color. Current plans are to work exclusively in the women’s golf equipment arena.

Nothing Major, a new golf book by Bob Cayne, is now available. The book is 250 pages of laughs: funny stories, essays and interviews, according to Cayne. More at NothingMajor.net.

Motion Golf, LLC, the world’s most technologically advanced golf improvement system, has entered into a strategic partnership with Touché Golf Sports Private Limited, located at the Bangalore Golf Club in Bangalore, India, to feature a high-tech Motion Golf studio.

Phoenix Environmental Care announced its 2009 PERKs (Phoenix Environmental Rewards Kustomers) incentive program, which enables superintendents to financially support golf industry organizations and education.

• Late September marked the beginning of a new golf association in California, the California State Golf Association (CSGA).

GOLF CHANNEL’S Uneven Fairways, a documentary on the history of African-Americans in professional golf, is now available on DVD.

Golfpreserves® and the Allied Golf Associations of Colorado have begun the Colorado Golf Carbon Project, a project that will develop a carbon emissions data collection system as well as document the carbon present at participating golf courses.

Imperial Headwear outfitted the International team at the Presidents Cup.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, October 17

King of Golf Cartoons: ‘Couch’


Copyright © Jerry King. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Has golf ever come between you and a loved one?

−The Armchair Golfer

Jerry King is an award-winning cartoonist whose credits and clients include Golf Digest, United States Golf Association and Disney. His golf cartoons are regularly featured at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Friday, October 16

Hit Another One: October 17 Is National Mulligan Day


(Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club)

THAT’S JUST GREAT. Tomorrow is National Mulligan Day and I’m not playing. Maybe I’ll celebrate the golf holiday the next time I tee it up.

If you have never heard of National Mulligan Day, you’re not alone. Neither had I until a press release landed in my inbox last month. Was this just some clever promotion by a Florida golf resort? Apparently not. National Mulligan Day is also listed on Holidays.net.

Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club is offering its guests a mulligan with a twist. On October 17, anyone playing one of the resort’s four golf courses—including the PGA Tour Copperhead Course—will get to play the same course again for free. Throughout the day, Innisbrook will also offer various specials like two-for-one “Mulligan-tinis” at its bars, as well as other offers at its spa, retail outlets, driving range and tennis courts.

The resort also took a poll that determined Frenchman Jean Van de Velde was the sports figure in greatest need of a mulligan after his final-hole disaster at the 1999 British Open. I can’t argue with that.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, October 15

2009 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open TV Schedule and Notes

THE 2009 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE SHRINERS HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN OPEN is underway at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Purse: $4.2 million
Winner’s share: $756,000
Defending champion: Marc Turnesa

Live report
Inside the field
Inside the course
Tee times

2009 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open.

Thu, 10/15:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

Fri, 10/16:

GOLF 4p - 7p ET

Sat, 10/17:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

Sun, 10/18:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, October 14

Anthony Kim and My College Golf Days

ANTHONY KIM STAYED OUT DRINKING until 4 a.m. last Saturday night. Or he didn’t. What’s not in dispute is the drubbing he gave Robert Allenby in their Sunday singles match at the Presidents Cup. It didn’t sit well with the Aussie, and his words ignited a mini controversy that resulted in carefully worded apologies and a press release from the PGA Tour.

The story had me wondering, “How does a golfer stay out all night and play great the next day?” And then I remembered Ray.

Ray was the No. 1 player on our golf team at Antelope Valley College in California. He was also the best player in the Central Conference, averaging 73 the year I played on the team.

Sometimes I played No. 3. Other times I played No. 2, which meant I got a good look at Ray’s game because the No. 1 and 2 players were in the same group in dual-team matches. I remember one home match in particular. Ray shot 68 in heavy wind. (The wind almost always blew on the California desert.) Ray was superb at the knockdown shot. I was dazzled.

The rest of us? We were ordinary to mediocre.

There was also an AK quality to Ray. He could stay out most of the night and still play his butt off. I don’t know how he did it. Me? I would be lucky to shoot 75 if my mom tucked me in and I got nine hours of sleep.

I haven’t seen Ray since those college days. But a few years ago I was back in Southern California and played a championship course not far from our old haunts. I noticed a framed scorecard hanging on the wall in the dining room. I walked over to take a closer look. 62, the course record. Nice round, Ray.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, October 13

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Wendy Doolan’s Story


Wendy Doolan won the 2004 Evian Masters.
(evianmasters/Flickr)


WENDY DOOLAN IS AN LPGA Tour veteran and three-time winner. Her most recent victory was the 2004 Evian Masters. On June 22 Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following are excerpts from her first-person account at LPGA.com.

Early Detection


“It was a self exam—I just noticed a lump on my breast. I had the LPGA doctor look at it and he suggested I go see a breast surgeon and that’s when I was sent for a mammogram, an ultrasound and, following the next day, a biopsy.

“What saved my life was early detection—self exam. There’s nothing other than that; that’s what it was. I had no history in my family—no cancer history.”

Surgery and Treatment


“I had surgery on the 27th of July. She went in, took the lump out, checked the margins and closed me up. Due to the size of my lump, I was a candidate for five-day radiation, which is radiation twice a day for five days.

“After I got over the initial shock, I’d not had any doubts whatsoever that as soon as the radiation was done, I’d be back at golf. God’s given me strength through the whole time.”

Wendy’s Advice

“My only piece of advice is, doesn’t matter what you think is going to happen, do your self checks. The question is, ‘What does it feel like?’ You know when it feels different.

“Do your yearly check-ups, mammograms. Do it. Don’t put it off.”

Wendy returned to tournament golf at the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge on September 4 in Danville, California. Her golf wasn’t sharp, she said, but she was grateful to be there.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, October 12

Golf Pet Peeve: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer


Could these guys be shot-by-shot recap golfers?
(Gus Dahlberg/Flickr)

(Editor’s note: Robert Bruce of Game Under Repair has something he needs to get off his chest. Maybe you can relate.)

Contributed by Robert Bruce
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


YOU KNOW THIS DUDE. We’ve all played a round with him. Usually, the shot-by-shot recap golfer is a nice guy—a really nice guy. Chatty, even. He means well.

But, man, if this guy isn’t intent on telling you the specifics of every single shot on every single hole.

It’s bad enough when the shot-by-shot recap golfer is actually a good player. Sometimes, it’s even interesting. I wouldn’t mind listening to a friend recap his theatrical birdie on the 17th at Sawgrass. That’s nice to hear. Makes me want to birdie the 17th myself.

But really bad golfers who are intent on telling you about their snowman on a 320 yard par 4?

No, thank you.

I do not find it interesting to hear about your sliced tee shot, flubbed 3-wood, topped 4-iron, topped 8-iron, bladed wedge, and your two skulled bunker shots and five-foot saving putt for quadruple bogey. Please…no.

Maybe I’m just jealous. I don’t have that type of memory. I can probably remember half of my 81 shots yesterday, so maybe these dudes that remember every single duck hook and yip from their 122 in March make me jealous. Maybe.

One of the greatest traditions in golf is the 19th hole—the tradition of enjoying a cold brew with a friend and discussing (read: exaggerating) the highlights of the round. But, remember, unless you just shot a 59 or beat Tiger Woods in match play, no one wants a shot-by-shot recap of your round.

Keep it simple and short. Don’t be that guy.

Robert Bruce is a full-time writer and part-time golf blogger in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit his golf blog at www.gameunderrepair.com.

Sunday, October 11

Greg Norman’s Great Pick


Ryo Ishikawa at the PGA Championship.
(jpellgen/Flickr)


THE AMERICANS WON the Presidents Cup on Sunday for the seventh time in eight tries. The final points total was 19 ½ to 14 ½. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker—the world’s top three golfers—led the way.

While International team captain Greg Norman was questioned extensively about his captain’s choice of fellow Aussie Adam Scott, his other captain’s pick made an impressive debut in the Presidents Cup. Ryo Ishikawa, the 18-year-old, was one of only two International team players to post a winning point total. (The other was Ernie Els.) The Japan Tour player went 3-2-0, including a singles victory over Kenny Perry.

I hadn’t seen much of Ishikawa before this week. Obviously, he’s a terrific putter. Coming into the Presidents Cup, Ryo won three times this summer on the Japan Tour in a 10-week stretch. And he’s the youngest player to crack the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, currently ranked 47th.

“When Greg first picked me … I didn’t know if I was worthy to be a part of this team,” Ishikawa said. “But when I got here and all of the players looked after me, talked to me, gave me a lot of support, and that really helped me throughout this week.”

I look forward to seeing more of Ryo. It will be fun to see how he and Rory McIlroy fulfill their potential as golf’s future stars.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, October 10

Mysterious Diagram Possible Cause of O’Hair Woes



DAZED AND CONFUSED. That’s the way Sean O’Hair looked on the first two days of the Presidents Cup. Despite “confidence” talks and strong preparation, O’Hair couldn’t find his rhythm in his Thursday and Friday matches. He definitely couldn’t buy a putt.

Then things turned around on Saturday when Sean was paired with Phil Mickelson for a Foursomes match. The Americans won 5 and 3.

According to someone close to the team, a piece of paper fell out of O’Hair’s yardage book early in the round. Lefty bent over and picked it up.

“Where’d you get this?” Phil asked.

“I don’t know,” Sean replied.

“Sean.”

“OK, one of the coaches gave it to me.”

“Let’s just play some golf, OK?”

“OK.”

−The Armchair Golfer


(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

ARMCHAIR GOLF Mail Bag: Golf Sketch™

EDITOR’S NOTE: I get a lot of emails. Many are about worthy and interesting golf subjects. I read almost all of them and consider how to include them in my coverage, if possible. Despite good intentions, I can’t answer and cover everyone because I’m a staff of one and my intern is a cat. So today I had a new idea: I’ll publish an occasional email. This one is from Nick O’Connell. Endorsement is not implied. No consideration or compensation was received.
My name is Nick O’Connell and I am a Master of Science graduate in Golf Course Architecture and Toro Student Architect of the Year in 2006. As you can imagine, it’s not that easy to get many opportunities or chances as a young architect but I am fascinated by the subject.

One way that I am hoping to gain a bit more recognition is through Golf Sketch. I have just recently created Golf Sketch to show the pencil sketches that I create as an architect. The sketches are mainly of golf courses I have visited, but I will introduce more of my own designs over time. I look to draw out the raw essence of the place and I feel the sketches offer something very different to the perfect paintings and photos we are all familiar with.

Golf Sketch might then give me the opportunity to take more trips to study and learn about courses. I am also supporting Just a Drop water charity through my project, as the work they do is something I feel strongly about.

I hope to hear from you and please keep up the good work on your blog.

Best wishes,
Nick O'Connell
According to his Web site, Nick, a native of Wales, is currently working in Paris as a golf course architect.

Friday, October 9

Exclusive Q&A: Golf Reacts to Inclusion in Olympics

IN AN ARMCHAIR GOLF EXCLUSIVE, Golf talked about being reinstated to the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games after today’s announcement by the IOC from Copenhagen. Golf was approved by a vote of 63-27, with two abstentions. We spoke by phone.

Q: Thanks for taking the time.


GOLF: No problem.

Q: So, what was your reaction to today’s news?


GOLF: I was pleased. It’s gratifying. I haven’t been in the Olympics in a long, long time. It will be good to be back.

Q: Player reaction was strong. Jack Nicklaus said, “The impact is going to be felt all over the world.”


GOLF: Who?

Q: Jack Nicklaus.


GOLF: Oh, Jack. Good for him. Yeah, we’ll see.

Q: Is this validation for you?


GOLF: Validation?

Q: That you’re a sport, that kind of thing.


GOLF: I don’t need a bunch of old men on a committee to say I’m a sport. I’m comfortable with myself. I’m honored they’ve decided to include me. Really I am. But I don’t get caught up with labels—Am I a sport?—and all that nonsense. I just ignore it, to be honest with you.

Q: Let’s switch gears. What do you think of the Presidents Cup?

GOLF: I haven’t watched any of it.

Q: But you’ll be watching this weekend?

GOLF: No.

Q: That’s a little surprising.


GOLF:
I’m not too interested in myself after football starts.

Q: Really?


GOLF: Yeah. Big SEC fan. LSU Tigers, just like David Toms.

Q: You’re missing some good matches.


GOLF: I hope the fans are enjoying them. Personally, I get tired of watching myself on TV. It’s kind of boring. Oh, I might switch over during commercials to see how Tiger is doing.

Q: Enjoy the off season.


GOLF: I always do.

−The Armchair Golfer


(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Thursday, October 8

Woods/Stricker Romp as U.S. Takes Lead at Presidents Cup


It was all smiles for Tiger.
(jrodmanjr/Flickr)


THE U.S. TEAM TOOK a one-point lead over the International squad on Day 1 of the Presidents Cup at Harding Park in San Francisco. Thursday was Foursomes—also known as alternate shot—and all but one of the matches were competitive. On Friday the teams will compete in Four-Ball (best-ball) matches.

Americans Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker romped to a 6 and 4 win over Internationals Geoff Ogilvy and Ryo Ishikawa by making every putt they looked at. Or at least it seemed that way. Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson and Kenny Perry and Zach Johnson also won for the U.S. side.

Partnering with Ernie Els, Adam Scott holed the winning putt to earn a point against Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair. Vijay Singh and Robert Allenby also got a point for the Internationals. The final match of the day was halved when American Justin Leonard rimmed out a three-foot putt on the 18th hole.

Here’s what I like about watching the Presidents Cup.

Harding Park


I’ve watched a lot of tour golf over the years. I won’t say I have all the tour stops memorized, but I do know a lot of the golf courses, and especially their final nines. However, I know virtually nothing about Harding Park since the pros rarely play there. It’s interesting to watch them attack a different course, especially in a go-for-broke match-play event.

Match Play


Match play is so rare on the PGA Tour and other world tours that I find it fascinating to watch. I know that, unless it’s the Ryder Cup, match play is a ratings killer. But that’s not my problem. I enjoy it anyway. There’s a whole different vibe. And also a different kind of pressure, as everyone witnessed today on the 18th green.

Ryder Cup Lite


The Presidents Cup isn’t the Ryder Cup, and never will be. That’s fine. The atmosphere is not as intense; the players are loose. It is what it is. I actually like seeing the players display some emotion, smile more and be less robotic. It’s refreshing.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, October 7

2009 Presidents Cup TV Schedule and Tournament Notes


Steve Stricker at the Ryder Cup. He’ll team with Tiger Woods
on Thursday. (Proforged/Flickr)


THE 2009 PRESIDENTS CUP gets underway on Thursday at Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco, California. It’s a match-play competition, pitting the International team captained by Greg Norman against the U.S. team captained by Fred Couples. The Americans have won six of seven.

International team
American team
Live report
Presidents Cup history
Presidents Cup photo gallery
Harding Park, hole by hole

2009 Presidents Cup Scoring

More Presidents Cup Buzz

Michael Jordan Q&A
Internationals all about chemistry
Adam Scott: No pressure

TV SCHEDULE

More than 20 hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Presidents Cup.

GOLF CHANNEL

Wed: 7p - 8:30p
Thu: 3p & 8:30p
Fri: 2p & 8:30p

NBC
Sat: 11a - 9p
Sun: 12p - 6p

−The Armchair Golfer

A President Visits Presidents Cup


Former President Bill Clinton talks with Jim Gray.
(Courtesy of GOLF CHANNEL)


PRESIDENTS ABOUND THIS WEEK. We have the Presidents Cup. The course it’s being played on—Harding Park—is named after a President (Warren G. Harding). And now a former President, Bill Clinton, has visited Harding Park and talked about the Presidents Cup in a sitdown with Jim Gray.

The GOLF CHANNEL interview with the former First Golfer airs tonight on the golf network’s Live From The Presidents Cup Coverage. Topics include:

• Why the Presidents Cup is important to him.
• The history of golf in the White House, including Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy and Ford.
• The current state of his golf game.
• The current economic climate in golf.
• Tiger Woods’ impact on and off the golf course.
• The impact golf will have in the Olympics should it be voted in for 2016.
• His relationship with Arnold Palmer and Palmer receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.
• Dream foursome on the golf course.

Clinton and Harding as Presidential Golfers


How do Clinton’s and Harding’s golf games compare? (I actually had them facing off in my fictitious Presidents Golf Championship in January.)

“The 42nd president, Clinton is a liberal taker of ‘Billigans’—the do-over shots and gimme putts that are bestowed on him by willing playing partners smitten by the irresistible Clinton charm,” Don Van Natta Jr., bestselling author of First Off the Tee, told me earlier this year.

“Despite that, he’s long off the tee, hits a decent iron shot and owns a good putter (lessons from Dave Pelz have helped).

“Harding played golf during Prohibition. While drinking on the golf course, he bet on golf. He didn’t just bet on the front nine and the back nine; he had a bet on every swing. Harding lost many of those bets. He rarely shot lower than the mid-to-high 90s, but he never had a bad time.”

Bottom line: Van Natta Jr. would give Clinton the edge.

By the way, President Harding died in a San Francisco hotel room in 1923, which, I’m assuming, influenced the naming of Harding Park, a course that opened in 1925.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:

Harding Park Is Primed for Presidents Cup

Tuesday, October 6

Harding Park Is Primed for Presidents Cup


Harding Park in black and white, and some of the lucky hackers
who get to play it.
(LetThereBeMoreLight/Flickr)


WELCOMING GOLFERS SINCE 1925, Harding Park Golf Course, site of this week’s Presidents Cup, is a dandy municipal track. This week, with the American and International teams in town, the course will measure 7,137 yards and play to a par of 71. That doesn’t sound long—in fact, it’s rather puny by today’s tour standards—but remember: everything plays longer in damp, cool, hilly San Francisco.

I’ve never stepped foot on Harding Park, although I did visit the nearby Olympic Club last summer on a quick trip to the Bay Area. I’d love to, though. Harding Park is on a rolling peninsula, surrounded by Lake Merced. It’s gorgeous. A gem.

As you would expect, the golf course is in prime condition for the Presidents Cup, despite a major greens mishap that occurred two and a half months ago. Nine of Harding Park’s greens were damaged by fertilizer burn due to operator error. Temporary greens were used until repairs could be completed.

“It has been blown out of proportion a little,” said course superintendent Wayne Kappelman.

“It was repaired within a week. All 18 greens are in great shape and the whole course is where it should be.”

The greens are bentgrass Poa annua and are supposed to be rolling at 11 1/2 half on the Stimpmeter when the matches get underway.

In today’s press conference, Fred Couples said the greens were good. And then he said this: “I’ve played two rounds, and if I can make putts, any of those other 24 other guys can surely make them.”

Maybe so. But they might be harder to make on Sunday.

Harding Park Notes


• Named after President Warren G. Harding
• Designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting. Design fee: $300
• Began hosting national tournaments in 1937
• Boyhood home course of NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller and former CBS golf analyst Ken Venturi
• Hosted a World Golf Championship event in 2005 won by Tiger Woods

−The Armchair Golfer


(Brought to you by YourGolfTravel.com and the ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.)

Sources: GCSAA.org, Harding Park, ASAP Sports

Monday, October 5

ARMCHAIR GOLF Roundtable: Presidents Cup Captains Norman and Couples


U.S. Team Captain Fred Couples. (Jim Doeden/Flickr)

Editor’s note: These are real quotes and comments. The questions are made up. Welcome to the ARMCHAIR GOLF roundtable.

At the roundtable:
Greg Norman – International Team Captain
Fred Couples – U.S. Team Captain

Q. Greg, welcome to the roundtable. Let’s start with you since Fred is running a few minutes late. Obviously, you have a lot of diverse interests. How does this Presidents Cup captaincy fit in with everything else, including all the distractions?

GREG NORMAN:
I’m a very intense person. When I go after something, I want to go after it with everything I have. I want to push myself to the edge.

Q. The International side hasn’t fared well in the Presidents Cup. The Americans have won six of seven. Do you feel like your guys need some things to break your way early in the week in order to win?


GREG NORMAN:
You create your own luck by the way you play. There is no such luck as bad luck. Fate has nothing to do with success or failure, because that is a negative philosophy that indicts one’s confidence, and I’ll have no part of it.

Q. Here’s Fred. Welcome to the roundtable. You’re apparently confident about this week. Where does that come from?

FRED COUPLES: When you’re prepared, you’re more confident. When you have a strategy, you’re more comfortable.

Q. Greg, you’ve put a lot of yourself into this team and this week. How will you deal with it if you come out on the wrong end of things?

GREG NORMAN:
Sometimes things work out on the golf course and sometimes they don’t. Life will go on.

Q. Fred?

FRED COUPLES: Getting nothing is not the end of the world. I’ve gotten my share. So I’m tickled pink just to be here.

JOHNNY MILLER: Match play really exposes your character, who you are and how much of a will to win you have in your heart. It also exposes what kind of weaknesses your game has.

Q. Hi, Johnny. I didn’t see you come again. Thanks, guys, for taking the time, and good luck this week.

–The Armchair Golfer


Other ARMCHAIR GOLF roundtables:

Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo
Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson

(Source: The Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations, published by Skyhorse Publishing.)

Sunday, October 4

ARMCHAIR GOLF Briefs: Golf Destinations


(Josh V-R/Flickr)

Recent news items about golf destinations. Endorsement is not implied.

Makena Beach & Golf Resort, located ocean-side in the historic and scenic Makena region on the south side of Maui, announced the Daily Unlimited Golf Package.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera recently unveiled a slew of new golf packages for fall and winter travel.

• Nestled between St. Augustine and Jacksonville, Fla., World Golf Village offers 36 holes of golf, top-notch practice facilities and many dining options. The courses, which sit in the shadow of the World Golf Hall of Fame, and are the only ones in the world designed as collaborations between golf legends. Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus co-designed the renowned King & Bear and Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen served as player consultants on the Bobby Weed designed Slammer & Squire.

• The “Fall Stay-and-Play Golf Package” is available at the newly-renovated Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village in Northeast Florida.

• The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples received high accolades from Golf Digest in the 7th annual golf resorts survey. The resort ranks as the #1 golf resort in the state of Florida, and #32 out of the Top 75 Golf Resorts in North America and the Caribbean.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, October 3

Alexis Thompson Still Tops News About 14-Year-Olds

DESPITE FALLING OFF the pace today at the Navistar LPGA Classic, amateur sensation Alexis Thompson is still the talk of the LPGA Tour and golf this weekend and remains the big headline grabber among 14-year-old girls.

Playing against the world’s best women golf professionals, Thompson shared the 36-hole lead after shooting rounds of 65 and 69. Today she shot a two-over 74, but didn’t sound too disappointed.

“It’s just one of those days that your game is off,” Thompson said. “That’s golf.”

Lorena Ochoa leads by three going into the final round.

Other News About 14-Year-Olds


In other news:

• A 14-year-old Florida girl was grounded for downloading 1,871 songs on iTunes. She used her mom’s credit card without permission.

• A 14-year-old Indiana girl stopped being “bored.”

• A 14-year-old Colorado girl missed an entire week of school when she forgot to set her alarm clock on Sunday night and slept for 134 hours.

• A 14-year-old Vermont girl went boy crazy.

• A 14-year-old California girl used the word “like” in a sentence 59 times, perhaps setting a Guinness Book of World Records mark. They’re, like, checking into it.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, October 2

Palmer, Ballesteros and Nantz to Present at Induction Ceremony

JIM NANTZ, CHRISTY O’CONNOR JR. and Arnold Palmer will present 2009 Inductees Lanny Wadkins, Christy O’Connor and the late Dwight D. Eisenhower, respectively, at the World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony next month. Seve Ballesteros will present José María Olazábal through a videotaped message.

Nantz, who shared broadcast responsibilities with Wadkins from 2002 to 2006, said, “Lanny was a champion golfer at every stage of his distinguished career. What always impressed me the most was the way he represented the game with the utmost class and dignity.”

“I think it’s wonderful that he [Eisenhower] is being recognized on this level for the many contributions he made to the game,” Palmer said. “President Eisenhower received many honors in his life, but I think he would have really enjoyed this one.”

Olazábal has asked his good friend and fellow Spaniard Ballesteros, who was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor last year and has since undergone multiple surgeries and cancer treatments.

“It is fantastic knowing that Jose Maria will become a member of the Hall of Fame. He deserves it for all he has done and is still doing for golf,” Ballesteros said.

Golf Channel commentator Rich Lerner will host the ceremony, which will take place on Nov. 2 at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., and will air the same night on the Golf Channel at 9 p.m. ET.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Source: World Golf Hall of Fame)

Thursday, October 1

2009 Navistar LPGA Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes


Lorena Ochoa defends this week. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

THE 2009 NAVISTAR LPGA CLASSIC is underway at Capitol Hill/Senator Course in Pratville, Alabama. Alexis Thompson, a 14-year-old amateur appearing on a sponsor exemption, is the early leader after carding a 7-under 65.

Purse: $1.3 million
Defending champion: Lorena Ochoa

Tournament preview
Tournament interviews
Final field

2009 Navistar LPGA Classic Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Eight hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Navistar LPGA Classic.

Thu, Oct 1
8:30-10:30 PM ET GOLF

Fri, Oct 2
8:30-10:30 PM ET GOLF

Sat, Oct 3
8:30-10:30 PM ET GOLF

Sun, Oct 4
8:30-10:30 PM ET GOLF

−The Armchair Golfer