Monday, November 30

Tiger’s Trickiest Recovery













IN LIFE, LIKE IN GOLF, sometimes you get a bad lie. And sometimes you hit it in the rough. Tiger is in the rough. He admits it is his own doing. Now he must play it as it lies.

A brief aside: The story of Tiger’s accident and other alleged personal failings is not one I enjoy covering. I’ve always been most interested in covering what happens on the course. Yes, I make my living as a writer. But I’m a golf fan, not a golf journalist. (I don’t aspire to be a golf journalist.) However, I realized on Saturday morning that it would be silly to ignore this story. Tiger Woods is the face of golf for this generation.

Tiger has gotten a lot of unsolicited advice over the years from the media, players, swing gurus, PR types, fans and others about how he should conduct himself on and off the course. It seems that he has largely ignored it. Tiger calls his own shots. That’s who he is. As overwhelming as it may be, I doubt that his current predicament will change that.

So think of this situation as Tiger’s most difficult recovery shot. He’ll check his lie, get a yardage, consider the obstacles, listen to Steve Williams and pull a club. He’ll decide the shot he’s going to play and won’t look back. He’ll take his bogey, double bogey—or worse—and move on.

Tiger is smart. I have a hard time believing he hasn’t considered all his options in his current situation. I also have a hard time believing that those counseling him have been totally clueless as some have suggested. I’m pretty sure they’ve presented all the shots he could play, including the pros and cons. Tiger has made his choice and, I believe, is willing to face the consequences of that choice. Maybe they’ll be disastrous. Maybe not. I think he’s trying to protect his wife and family, which I can understand, but who knows?

I’m not a Tiger apologist. If you think I’m an unabashed Tiger lover, you would be dead wrong. I grew up playing and watching golf in the pre-Tiger era. Although I greatly respect Tiger’s golf prowess—Tiger is on his way to being the best ever—he is not among my favorite players.

Tiger may owe a more detailed explanation about his recent “situation” to his wife, family, friends, IMG, attorney,  sponsors, the Florida Highway Patrol, the PGA Tour and others. But he doesn’t owe me a thing. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Sunday, November 29

Tiger Woods Statement: ‘This Situation Is My Fault’

TIGER WOODS RELEASED a statement on Sunday afternoon about his single-car accident on early Friday morning.

Excerpt:

This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.

Saturday, November 28

Tiger Woods Accident: Bad Year in Golf Just Got Worse

















UPDATE: Tiger Woods released a statement on Sunday afternoon.

IT’S ODD TO THINK that the biggest golf story of the year happened in the early morning hours of November 27, the day after Thanksgiving. But that may be the case. As you’ve probably heard by now, Tiger Woods was involved in a single-car accident outside his home in Isleworth, a gated community in Orlando, Florida.

According to reports, Tiger, driving a Cadillac Escalade, struck a fire hydrant and tree at a fairly low speed. (The airbags didn’t deploy.) His wife, Elin, hearing the accident from inside the couple’s house, came to Tiger’s aid. She broke the back window of the vehicle with a golf club to rescue her husband. Tiger had cuts and blood in his mouth, and was unconscious for several minutes. He was treated at a local hospital and released.

The good news: Tiger is apparently OK. The bad news: the story doesn’t end there.

The accident came just two days after the National Enquirer published a story that Tiger was having an affair with Rachel Uchitel, the Director of VIP Services for Pink Elephant, a company involved in the nightclub scene. Ryan Ballengee of Waggle Room interviewed Uchitel on Friday and published her denial early Saturday morning. (Other outlets have also reported that she denied the affair, including the Associated Press.)

Late on Friday celebrity news site TMZ.com wrote that Tiger’s facial scratches were, instead, the result of a domestic dispute with his wife. TMZ.com also wrote, “… but according to our source, Woods says his wife followed behind with a golf club. As Tiger drove away, she struck the vehicle several times with the club.”

I don’t know what’s fact and what’s fiction. I do know the feeding frenzy has only just begun and that this story must be the worst-possible nightmare for the intensely private world No. 1 golfer. Bad news for Tiger is almost always bad news for golf.

2009 was already set to go into the books as a dismal year in golf. It just got worse. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Friday, November 27

Golf’s Top 10 TV Talkers
















Nick Faldo signs an autograph.

GOLFWEEK’S MARTIN KAUFMANN WROTE a column the other day about his favorite golf broadcasters, a top 10 list. It’s a great topic. Everyone who watches golf on a regular basis seems to have a strong opinion about the broadcasters and commentators.

“I’ll limit my list to 10 … ” Kaufmann wrote. “Here’s one man’s very humble opinion.”

(Note: I’ve included a tidbit from Kaufmann’s comments in quotes under each name, followed by my brief comment in parentheses. Please also note that the list is limited to American golf broadcasters.) 

1. Brandel Chamblee, Golf Channel
“Thoughtful, provocative and persuasive.”
(My comment: I like Brandel.) 

2. David Feherty, CBS
“TV’s sharpest on-course reporter.”
(My comment: Funny, but sometimes sounds forced.) 

3. Johnny Miller, NBC
“Makes for must-listening.”
(My comment: I’m in the Miller camp.) 

4. Dottie Pepper, Golf Channel/NBC
“A fiery player who adapts well to broadcasting.”
(My comment: Well prepared and opinionated, a nice combination.) 

5. Paul Azinger, ESPN
“Crisper, more assured commentary following Ryder Cup captaincy.”
(My comment: I like Zinger.) 

6. Curt Byrum, Golf Channel
“Underrated.”
(My comment: Not familiar with his work.) 

7. Nick Faldo, CBS/Golf Channel
“Suffers from erratic performances.”
(My comment: Nondescript.) 

8. Judy Rankin, ESPN
“Hard worker.”
(My comment: Old school, less is more. Like.) 

9. Peter Kostis, CBS
“On-course analysis is spot on.”
(My comment: Comes across as knowledgeable.) 

10. Frank Nobilo, Golf Channel
“Steady.”
(My comment: Maybe not the best, but earnest.)

After watching a few European Tour events, I was reminded that America’s golf talking heads are a noisy bunch. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but TV is a visual medium. Well-chosen words can help frame the action. Words can also detract from telecasts. The European Tour events had fewer words and commercials, a welcome difference for this viewer. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Chase McAlpine/Flickr)

Wednesday, November 25

Lee Trevino Has an Opinion on Everything












Lee Trevino in his heyday.

IT’S NOT OFTEN I read a seven-page article online. But I did read the Lee Trevino interview by Jaime Diaz at GolfDigest.com. It was thoroughly entertaining.

Trevino, who turns 70 on December 1, talks and opines about his roots, the Marines, his playing days, Tiger Woods vs. Jack Nicklaus, yesteryear era vs. today’s era, the golf broadcast booth and more. His breakdown of Tiger (he’s a big Tiger fan) and Jack is on the money.

I stumbled across the interview after seeing a tidbit at Golf.com about Lee’s jab at contemporary PGA Tour player Paul Goydos. Goydos was quoted as saying “There are 10 Lee Trevinos” on tour today. Lee quipped, “ … tell him [Goydos] to send me the list of the 10 guys out there who have won six majors and 29 tournaments.”

Sorry, Paul. I have to side with Lee on this one. 

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, November 24

Q&A: Donald Ross Statue at Pinehurst
















A FEW WEEKS AGO I was in Pinehurst, North Carolina, for a national amateur event hosted by RSM McGladrey and the PGA of America. I spent some time with Natalie Gulbis, Chris DiMarco and Zach Johnson (story to come).

I also had the opportunity to visit with Donald Ross, the legendary golf course designer who was a mainstay at Pinehurst. Ross designed four Pinehurst courses, as well as Seminole in Florida, Oak Hill in New York, and Oakland Hills in Michigan.

Actually, Ross died in 1948, so I talked to his famous statue, who stands near the entrance of the Walk of Fame at Pinehurst No. 2. I confess that it didn’t go very well. Most of my questions just hung in the air, and the following transcript doesn’t convey the long, uncomfortable pauses between questions. At one point I lost my cool. For that, I apologize. 

Q. Thanks for taking the time. It’s an honor to speak with you.

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q. What do you think about golf returning to the Olympics?

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q. Did you ever think you’d see golf became a worldwide sport?

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q. Do you have any thoughts on the grooves change?

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q. Equipment sure has changed since back in the day (chuckling).

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q. How do you get along with the Payne Stewart statue?

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q. Are there any generational issues, or is your common interest in golf a bonding thing?

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q. Are you on Twitter?

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q: Pete Dye said your mother wore army boots.

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q. Sorry. Actually, Pete didn’t say that at all. That was totally uncalled for.

DONALD ROSS STATUE: (Silence.) 

Q: OK, one final question. Of the 600 golf courses you designed or redesigned, which one do you consider to be your masterpiece?

DONALD ROSS STATUE: Pinehurst No. 2.

(Note: While the answer seemed like it came from the Donald Ross statue, I did hear rustling in the bushes. It could have been a dog—or maybe something larger. A Pinehurst employee?) 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: cmiked/Flickr)
(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Monday, November 23

Will Westwood’s Dubai Domination Lead to a Major Victory?














LEE WESTWOOD HAS CONQUERED all challengers in the Race to Dubai. In fact, the Englishman ran roughshod over a very respectable field that included names such as Harrington, Garcia, Fisher, McILroy, Ogilvy, Kaymer, Casey, Poulter and Els.

On Sunday, Westwood capped off a brilliant performance in the Dubai World Championship by carding eight birdies on his way to a 64 and a six-shot margin of victory. His 23-under total—the same total by which he won the Portugal Masters in October—propelled him to the top of the Race to Dubai final ranking. Westwood collected $1.25 million for winning the season-ending event plus a $1.5 million bonus for finishing first on the European Tour money list.

“This is definitely the biggest moment of my career today,” Westwood said. And he shed a few tears to prove it.

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter tried to put Westwood’s torrid golf into perspective.

“Having covered the Tour for the last seven seasons I am struggling to recall a more dominant performance in such a significant event,” Carter wrote. “You probably have to go back to Nick Faldo’s 1996 demolition of Greg Norman at Augusta before you can identify better golf from an Englishman.”

Then Carter tackled the next logical question on the minds of some golf observers.

“His objective from here has to be to harness that mental approach at the majors. If he does watch out; green jackets, claret jugs and the rest of the most prized trophies in the game could easily be making their way to Westwood Towers.”

Although he has had some dry spells in his career, I’ve always been an admirer of Westwood’s game. He’s a splendid ball striker who has contended at the majors (eight top tens). Although overshadowed by Watson’s tragic ending, Westwood could have won the claret jug this year had he not faltered, bogeying three of the last four holes. He also came up one stroke short at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, which will forever be remembered as the epic duel between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate.

Westwood definitely has the game. Time is of the essence. At 36, he is in his competitive prime and needs to capitalize on his chances before they start to run out. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Steve Bailey/Flickr)

Sunday, November 22

King of Golf Cartoons: ‘Puke’




























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

When you play with people who have a bad golf swing, do you watch them or do you look away?

−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 a regular feature at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Saturday, November 21

ARMCHAIR GOLF Briefs











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

Golf Products and Services

SwingCzar (swingczar.com) is a resource for golfers of all skill levels. Customers can upload their golf swing to the SwingCzar site and have it analyzed by PGA professionals.

Pink Diva Golf (PinkDivaGolf.com) has just published their first annual “Girl’s Golf” Holiday Shopping Guide.

• The new Golf Privilege Membership, in support of the American Lung Association, is $39.95 and includes over 3,300 courses. More info at alagolfmembership.org.

• The Amphibian Towel ($29.95) is a golf towel that stays both wet and dry simultaneously. The BrushPro ($17.99) is a user-friendly retractable clubface brush with replaceable brush heads and a flip-out groove-scraper for shoes. More info at Frogger.com.

The Golfing Caddy (TheGolfingCaddy.com) is a multi-compartment tote and beverage holder that easily clips to a golf bag.

The Antigua Group has added an additional golf apparel delivery for the holiday season featuring its DESERT DRY™, and introducing its new light weight DESERT DRY™ XTRA-LITE (D2XL), moisture management styles.

Bag Boy® has introduced the Express Auto Three-Wheel Push Cart.

STUFFITTS SHOE SAVERS (stuffitts.com), which are cedar inserts, allow golf shoes to last longer and remain odor-free.

Andrew Rice, Director of Instruction at Berkeley Hall in South Carolina, has a new book coming out called It’s All About Impact – The Winners of Over 100 Majors Prove It. More info at ItsAllAboutImpact.com.

Golf Destinations


• Winter golf travelers can experience all Fairmont Mayakoba has to offer with the resort’s Sweet Deal Package with Spa & Golf Bonus.

• Some of the worlds most unique golf courses can be found at Deckchair.com. More info at Deckchair.com/355/.

Golf Events

• The 2009 Handa Cup will be held on Saturday, December 5 through Sunday, December 6, 2009, at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida. The annual match-up will be played on World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire championship golf course, and will feature top international and United States legends of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) who will compete in a match play competition. The event is open to the public and single-day grounds passes are $10.

• More than 4,400 golf facilities across the country registered to participate in the third annual Patriot Golf Day and $1.9 million was raised to benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation.

Joe Steranka, the PGA of America’s Chief Executive Officer, will be awarded the Sports Leadership Award by the March of Dimes New York Division at its 26th Annual Sports Luncheon on Wednesday, December 2 in New York City.

The High Meadow Ranch Team from Magnolia, Texas, claimed the 2009 OB Sports National Team Championship presented by GPS Industries in Las Vegas.

Golf Entertainment


Handicapped: A Documentary About Bad Golf will be released on DVD on November 24. More info at BadGolfMovie.com.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, November 20

ARMCHAIR GOLF Swing Vision: Camilo Villegas

I’D LIKE TO INTRODUCE a new feature. I’ll call it ARMCHAIR GOLF Swing Vision. Let’s take a look at the swing of Camilo Villegas, who is playing at this week’s Dubai World Championship.



“Notice how well Camilo sets the club at the top.”


“Great rotation. Look at how he hits against his left side.
The club continues down the line.”


“Nice finish. Nice veins.”

OK, I’m being facetious. Am I the only one who questions swing analysis on the golf telecasts? Please tell me I’m not.

My absolute favorite.
PGA Tour player has just hit his tee shot a mile right. Then we hear: “Let’s take a look at that swing.” Then, “He’s in good position right here, everything looks good, but on the downswing—you can see it right here!—he blah, blah, blah (fill in the blank) and the ball just goes straight right.”

Funny how they always spot the swing flaw that made the shot go right after they first saw the shot go right. Granted, it might be fairly obvious at times. But when a tour-caliber player swings a golf club at 110-plus miles per hour and has basically the same tempo, swing plane and balance on each swing, how can someone pinpoint the exact flaw in an instant, on-the-spot analysis?

I make an exception for Peter Kostis. His swing analyses have me totally hypnotized. He just sounds believable.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Images: nsaplayer/Flickr)

Thursday, November 19

2009 LPGA Tour Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes



















Paula Creamer. (dnkbdotcom/Flickr)

UPDATE: The Golf Channel will televise live coverage of the LPGA Tour Championship today (Monday) from 3-5 p.m. ET, followed by a prime-time replay from 6:30–8:30 p.m. ET.

THE 2009 LPGA TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at the Houstonian Golf & Country Club in Houston, Texas. Lorena Ochoa is the early leader after shooting a 6-under par 66.

Purse: $1.5 million
Defending champion: (inaugural edition)

Tournament preview
Tournament interviews
Final field

2009 LPGA Tour Championship Leaderboard

More coverage:
Preview and predictions (Mostly Harmless)
Overview (Golf Channel)
Shin in control of POY race (USA Today)

TV SCHEDULE

Eight hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 LPGA Tour Championship.

Thursday, Nov 19
4:00-6:00 PM ET Golf Channel

Friday, Nov 20
4:00-6:00 PM ET Golf Channel

Saturday, Nov 21
4:00-6:00 PM ET Golf Channel

Sunday, Nov 22
3:00-5:00 PM ET Golf Channel

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, November 18

Is Rory Ready for America?
















Rory McIlroy at TPC Sawgrass. (LTBeyer/Flickr) 

Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a regular contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following piece is excerpted from his blog, Irish Golf Desk. 

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


THE DEBATE HAS STARTED. Is Rory McIlroy making a mistake by joining the PGA Tour at this stage of his career?

The Guardian’s Lawrence Donegan thinks the youngster may well have boobed by trying to play both the U.S. and European tours. There is no doubt, as Lawrence points out, that spending lengthy periods of time in the United States means you simply don’t get home to see your coach as often as you might like. Just look at Harrington’s disastrous DIY swing tweak this year. Then there’s the travel, as McIlroy’s World Cup partner Graeme McDowell can attest after a nefarious PGA Tour foray cost him a Ryder Cup place at the K Club in 2006. McDowell’s manager at the time was Chubby Chandler.

Maybe that’s why Chandler was trying to persuade McIlroy to stay put in Europe and his Oct 21 email to the SportsBusiness Journal telling them that “Rory has decided not to join the PGA Tour in 2010” appears to have backfired on him spectacularly.

When I asked McIlroy about it before the Volvo World Match Play in Spain, he said: “I saw that. That’s not accurate.” And he said it in a hurt tone that hinted that he was not totally happy that a decision had been taken on his behalf or that he was being railroaded into doing something he was not quite sure he really wanted to do.

Given his inexperience, you could argue that he might be better off winning a few Italian or Portuguese Opens and improving his putting before committing to the PGA Tour. Then again, we are dealing with an extra special talent. He has agonised over this move, and being 20 and ambitious and wonderfully talented, he’s decided he’s going for it.

Knowing McIlroy, he truly believes he is right. It’s not a prerequisite for good golf, but McIlroy is highly intelligent—a gifted student who didn’t much care for school but still achieved outstanding SAT results when he was toying with the idea of going to East Tennessee State University. He decided not to take that route, left school around his 16th birthday and was a full-time golfer in 2005. It was a decision that backfired in the short term because he irked the Walker Cup blazers by skipping a series of big championships to play in a few European Tour events on invitations. England’s Oliver Fisher, not McIlroy, became the youngest Walker Cup player in history.

McIlroy shot 61 around Royal Portrush soon afterwards, left Peter McEvoy and Garth McGimpsey to rue their decision, and waited another two years to turn pro. McIlroy’s father Gerry believes Rory’s non-Walker Cup selection in 2005 was the best thing that ever happened to a kid who listens, weighs up his options and makes fearless decisions. Over the years, some of those decisions have been questionable, but McIlroy has never doubted his own ability.

Can he putt better? He must. Will America help? He has to go there to find out.

He could have been forgiven for going backwards last year but fought his way out of a slump instead. In fact, he emerged from that slump on his own initiative by seeking out Paul Hurrion for help with his putting. No agent interference there. That gesture made a deep impression on Padraig Harrington.

No doubt the U.S. media will start asking questions if he fails to win on the PGA Tour before the Masters. You fear for him should things go pear-shaped in America, but he’s been on an upward curve his entire career and the sky’s the limit.

America can wait, but when you have a talent that big, why hide it? 

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

Tuesday, November 17

Q&A: Washington and Lee’s Matt Langan

Editor’s note: Matt Langan plays on the men’s golf team at Washington and Lee University located in Lexington, Virginia. The Generals play in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) against teams such as Guilford College, Randolph-Macon, Bridgewater, Hampden-Sydney and Roanoke College. I hope you enjoy this slice of college golf with Matt. 

Q: How did golf hook you?

Matt: I grew up playing just about every sport competitively—basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball, golf, football—so the fact that I ended up just focusing on golf definitely meant that somewhere along the line I must have gotten really hooked. My grandfather introduced me to the game when I was an eight-year-old, and I fell in love with it because I associated the game with the fantastic opportunity to play his beautiful home course—Big Spring Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky—and to spend the afternoon with him. After being introduced to the game, I became addicted to it. My mom would drop me off on a typical summer morning around 10 and I wouldn’t call her to pick me up until the sun went down. I really love the individual aspect of the game. Once I started playing in junior events, I loved how my success or failure fell entirely on me. 

Q. How did you choose Washington and Lee University?

Matt: I applied to nine schools. I knew I wanted to play golf, but my main priority was to go for the sure thing: a great education. I’ve been blessed with great parents who always emphasized the importance of doing well in school. I was originally introduced to W&L by my dad’s golf friends who attended the university, and spoke very highly of it. W&L was one of many schools that I looked at when I took a trip along the East Coast to browse those that fulfilled the characteristics I wanted the college to have: medium to small in size with solid academics, in a relatively warm climate, and with a beautiful campus. Playing golf was a huge bonus, and the success I had on the golf course in high school helped me with the admissions process because I was one of the team’s top recruits. 

Q: How is the golf team doing?

Matt: Overall, I would say the golf team is doing well, but I know we haven’t reached our potential. This year, of the top five players who travel, three or four of them are seniors, so we aren’t lacking in experience, patience, or skill. Our spring season—the one that really matters—will be dependent on how well the seniors (including myself) are able to focus on golf amidst the pressures of finding a job, applying for graduate schools, and/or wanting to soak up the last available bit of the college lifestyle. 

Q. What is your home course and where else do you like to play?

Matt: I am from Prospect, Kentucky, which is just outside of Louisville. When I started playing the game, I spent it on a local public links course that was only a half mile from my home called Nevel Meade Golf Course. Once my parents realized my addiction to the game wasn’t a fly-by-night thing, we became members of Harmony Landing Country Club. We’ve been members there since I was eleven or twelve, and it kills me to think that I won’t be a playing member there upon graduating. Getting the chance to become a member myself is actually one of my greatest motivators to be successful soon after graduating. 

Q: How do you prepare for a new golf season?

Matt: Recently, it’s been tough to dedicate as much time to preparing for an upcoming season as I would like to, because of summer jobs and internships. As a result, I’ve really had to make the most out of the time that I do have. I know it sounds trite, but it’s all about the short game. I will spend a couple of hours chipping and putting (although mostly chipping), in the weeks leading up to the season, because I’ve found that this is the part of my game that sneaks away from me the fastest. I do a pretty good job of staying in good physical shape, because I work out a few times a week and eat properly. This isn’t something I see as preparation for a new season, as it is an obligation I think we all have for living a happy and healthy life. 

Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your golf game?

Matt: My strength has always been putting. I am just able to see the lines easily, and it’s just a matter of trusting them that decides whether the day on the green will be OK or great. My weakness must be my mid-iron play. I have a difficult time sticking iron shots to within 10 feet or less, so getting on birdie streaks or shooting especially low rounds has always been a struggle for me. 

Q: What is it like competing at the collegiate level?

Matt: It’s great, although being a student-athlete is definitely difficult at times. As a Division III student-athlete, my priorities must still be geared towards academics, because we don’t really have the aspirations to go pro. However, our coaches expect us to put in as much time on the course as a Division I player, so there really aren’t any corners that are being cut. I’ve pulled my fair share of all-nighters to catch up on work I’ve missed as a result of being out of town for three or four days, but it’s entirely worth it. One thing I love about being a college golfer is the ability to get off campus and see new places and people—it’s like going on vacations all the time. 

Q: What are your plans after you graduate?

Matt: I plan on working for a year or two and then attending graduate school in business. Finding the job is going to be more difficult than finding the business school, so my plans could flip come this May, depending on how things play out. I would really like to fit in some travel throughout Europe somewhere in there too, because one of my greatest regrets as a college student is not studying abroad—something that’s not really an option for a golfer. 

SHORT SHOTS:
Most trusted club in your bag: Putter
Favorite golf course: The sentimental answer: my home course, Harmony Landing Country Club in Goshen, Kentucky. My favorite design: The Homestead’s Cascades Course.
Favorite sport other than golf: A tie between basketball and cycling.
Dream foursome: My dad and both of my grandfathers (one of which I never had the opportunity to play golf with). 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Washington and Lee)

Monday, November 16

FREE Drawing for Michelle Wie book, ‘THE SURE THING’




















MICHELLE WIE WON HER FIRST LPGA title on Sunday by playing steady golf alongside veteran Cristie Kerr in the final group at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico. As has been widely chronicled, Wie has endured about everything the game, the media and golf fans can dish out since she surfaced as a Tiger-like golf prodigy in her early teens.

To celebrate her first professional victory, I will give away the 2009 book, THE SURE THING: The Making and Unmaking of Golf Phenom Michelle Wie. It’s autographed by the author, ESPN The Magazine senior writer Eric Adelson.

I haven’t read the entire book and the reviews I’ve seen are mixed. I can tell you the early chapters offer plenty of insight into Michelle’s parents and their influence on her golf career. Also, near the end of the book, Adelson addresses two big questions: Can Michelle make a comeback? (That one is in the process of being answered.) And the other: Can she still be the next Tiger Woods?

If you want to learn more about Michelle Wie and what makes her tick, this book will likely add to your knowledge. 

Enter the FREE drawing at above right. UPDATE: The drawing is now closed.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Sunday, November 15

A Tiger Woods Love Letter
























November 15, 2009

Dear Tiger,

Where did the time go?

It seems like it was just yesterday that you were stepping off your Gulfstream at Essendon and were whisked away in a limo. We now realise this past week went way too fast.

Good on ya, mate. You have once again proven yourself as the world’s greatest golfer. Our sincere congratulations for winning the “other” Masters. We are so honored to have you as our champion. To be perfectly candid, we were rooting for you and are thrilled you got the job done. (Relieved, actually. Ha ha!)

We love our own—Chalmers, Nitties, Scott, Appleby, Ogilvy, Parry, Pampling and all our boys—but they have had their chances over the years and will have many more. This was the year of the Tiger.

Please, please, please do not stay away so long between visits. We are accustomed to hardship. It is part of our national identity. But 11 years is a very long wait, even for us. We will do everything humanly possible to make any visit unbelievable. We think you know that.

Or just drop by whenever you are in the neighborhood. (Maybe on your way back from Asia next year.) We promise not to make such a terrible fuss. It could be a small bash. (We would not have to tell Brumby or other pollies and curtail the journos and earbash.)

Thanks again for coming. It exceeded our expectations in every way. Hugs and kisses and camera clicks! (Not when you are in mid swing, of course.)

Love always,
Australia

P.S. Do write. Even if just an occasional email from your agent.

P.P.S. If for some reason you cannot make it back to Oz, we will always have Kingston Heath.


(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Saturday, November 14

Golf Shot: Michelle Wie














MICHELLE WIE IS TIED for the 54-hole lead with Cristie Kerr at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. One shot back are Song-Hee Kim, Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer. Wie shot a 70 in the third round. She and Kerr are 10-under par. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)


FREE Drawing for THE SURE THING
(UPDATE: The drawing is now closed.) I will give away THE SURE THING: The Making and Unmaking of Golf Phenom Michelle Wie, a 2009 book by Eric Adelson. Enter the drawing at above right.


Friday, November 13

2009 Is a Rim Out for David Duval












CRAZY AS IT SEEMED, David Duval was in position to win at Bethpage Black in June. Duval was back from the golf doldrums, contending for a major. The U.S. Open, no less.

He was playing with resolve. After going four-over par on the first three holes of his final round, Duval had gotten all the strokes back by the time he reached the 17th tee. He reeled off three straight birdies on 14, 15 and 16. It was oddly familiar, for David was once the world’s No. 1 player and main Tiger Woods challenger.

On the 17th green, Duval stood over a par putt. As I remember it, it was a four or five-footer. There was no hesitation. He stroked it firmly. The putt hit the side of the hole, dipped down and spun out. It was unjust. He needed that putt. You might even say he deserved it, especially after all he had been through. But it didn’t fall. Duval went on to finish in a tie for second with Phil Mickelson and Ricky Barnes, two shots behind winner Lucas Glover. It was a fat check for David, who had made few cuts in recent years and banked little money. But it wasn’t a win, or a major, or an exemption, or redemption after years of wandering through a golf wasteland.

That rim out on the 17th green at Bethpage Black summed up 2009 for Duval. He was close, very close, to breaking back into the game in a big way. It didn’t quite happen.

It didn’t quite happen this week either at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. Duval entered the tournament at No. 125 on the money list, the precarious final spot to earn full playing privileges for 2010. All he had to do was play well enough—and earn enough—to hold his spot. Instead, David missed the cut by seven shots.

What now?

Duval will more than likely lose his card, although his top 150 status will get him into a dozen or more events. His runner-up finish at this year’s U.S. Open and 2001 British Open title will get him into three majors in 2010. Just in case, he had already signed up for Q-school.

It’s not a position you want to be in, he said today after a 73 that followed a 76. It’s a position that’s all too familiar. The hoped-for comeback of David Duval plods on. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Gusick/Flickr)

Thursday, November 12

2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational TV Schedule and Tournament Notes





















Lorena Ochoa. (Lancaster-Jones/Flickr)

THE 2009 LORENA OCHOA INVITATIONAL is underway at Guadalajara Country Club in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

Purse: $1.3 million
Defending champion: Angela Stanford

Tournament preview
Tournament interviews
Final field

2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Tens hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Thursday, Nov 12:

Golf Channel 4:00-6:30 PM ET

Friday, Nov 13:

Golf Channel 4:00-6:30 PM ET

Saturday, Nov 14:

Golf Channel 4:00-6:30 PM ET

Sunday, Nov 15:

Golf Channel 4:00-6:30 PM ET

−The Armchair Golfer

2009 Children’s Miracle Network Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes





















Davis Love defends. (McAlpine/Flickr)

THE 2009 CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK CLASSIC is underway at Disney’s Magnolia and Disney’s Palm Course in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Rickie Fowler holds the early lead at 6 under.

Purse: $4.7 million
Winner’s share: $846,000
Defending champion: Davis Love III

Inside the field
Where they rank on money list
The Live Report

2009 Children’s Miracle Network Classic Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Children’s Miracle Network Classic.

Thu, 11/12:
GOLF 1p - 4p ET

Fri, 11/13:
GOLF 1p - 4p ET

Sat, 11/14:
GOLF 1p - 4p ET

Sun, 11/15:
GOLF 1p - 4p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, November 11

Veterans Day Tribute: Pro Golfers Who Served in WW II











(Pictured: Lloyd Mangrum) 

“From the first days of World War II, players put away their sticks and picked up rifles to defend America.” 

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


WORLD WAR II WAS CALLED the last “good” war and Tom Brokaw wrote of the men and women who fought in it as, “America’s greatest generation.” They came of age during the Great Depression and served their country in World War II.

Many of this greatest generation were golf professionals. Herb Graffis, founder of Golfing magazine, in his history of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) writes how golf professionals served in combat during WW II, and did a hundred other volunteer jobs relating to golf to help the war effort. From the first days of World War II, players put away their sticks and picked up rifles to defend America.

They would not be the first players to fight in a war. At the outbreak of World War II, it is estimated 900 members of the PGA were veterans of World War I. By the end of WW II, 20 percent of the members of the PGA had served in the armed forces, another 15 percent in war production jobs. Eleven pros were killed in action, three more died while in the service.

PGA pros, throughout the war years, were involved in construction, equipping and operating practice putting greens, practice tees, courses and indoor nets at more than 62 armed services hospitals. Professionals and superintendents often got together and built small golf installations at hospitals, and the pros kept going back to instruct patients and maintain the golf playgrounds.

In addition to that work, tournament circuit prize money during the war was in government bonds. In 1945, prize money was approximately $500,000 in war bonds. That year exhibitions by PGA members raised over $100,000 for hospitals, the USO and the Red Cross. According to Graffis, “Those wartime tournaments and exhibitions had a great deal to do with establishing the pattern of today’s tournament circuits, since most of the events have hospitals, boys’ clubs, and other welfare operations as promoters and beneficiaries.”

Not to be overlooked was the celebrity drawing power of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby at golf events. In 1943, Hope and Crosby took to the road for six weeks of exhibition matches with pros and amateurs. Joining them on tour were Sam Byrd, Byron Nelson, Joe Kirkwood, Gene Sarazen, Harry Cooper, as well as early LPGA stars Louise Suggs, Patty Berg and Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Hope and Crosby started at the Dallas Country Club with a gallery of about 5,000 who bought $4.5 million in war bonds and an ambulance for the Red Cross. They finished at the Edgewater Golf Club in Chicago. Bob and Bing paid their own expenses through out the tour, and the PGA gave them money clips as tokens of appreciation. 

War Toll

The war took a toll on the PGA. By the end of 1945, dues-paying membership was down to 1,565. That was 570 fewer members than when hostilities began. When the war was over, there were 4,817 courses in the U.S. and roughly 2,250,000 golfers, but few of these players had ever been to a golf tournament.

But all of that was about to change. Lloyd Mangrum, while training for the D-Day landings, was offered the professional job at the army’s Fort Meade golf course, which would have kept him out of combat, but he declined and went to the front lines in Europe. He would receive from his combat tours two Purple Hearts, and was wounded a final time at the Battle of the Bulge. However, when he was discharged from the army, he immediately won the 1946 U.S. Open, the first Open held after the war.

Other name professionals who served in the army and were back on tour within days of being discharged from service were Tommy Bolt; Jack Fleck who was in the Navy and also part of the D-Day invasion; Herman Keiser; Ted Kroll, who earned three Purple Hearts, and was wounded four times; Ed “Porky” Oliver; and the great amateur Smiley Quick, who won the ’46 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and then turned pro.

The golf professionals of the greatest generation were home from the war and back on the links. It was the start of the modern PGA Tour that we know today. 

John Coyne is the author of The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan and The Caddie Who Played with Hickory. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Tuesday, November 10

The Tiger Woods Australian Stimulus Plan
















“THANK GOD IT’S NOT NORMAL,” Tiger Woods said at his Monday press conference in Melbourne. A presser, by the way, that was broadcast live throughout Australia.

Tiger was referring to the 7,000 Australian golf fans who followed him during a practice round in advance of the Australian Masters. TV network helicopters circled above as Tiger and Craig Parry played nine holes. Another oddity: a sold out sign was posted at the ticket booth.

“No one could remember the last time a tournament had no tickets available,” wrote the AP’s Doug Ferguson.

It’s been 11 years since Tiger visited Down Under. The 1998 Presidents Cup, to be exact. He was 22. To Aussies, it must seem like another golf lifetime. The Great White Shark, Greg Norman, defeated Tiger in singles as the International team notched its only win in the event’s history.

Tiger’s arrival in Melbourne on Sunday was like the return of golf’s prodigal son. He was transported by limousine from Essendon Airport and his movements seem to be as secretive and closely guarded as  those of heads of state. Security is extremely tight, including double what it would normally be at the Australian Masters. The tournament will be played at Kingston Heath Golf Club. Tiger is fond of the track.

“Unbelievable golf course,” he said.

“I always have been a huge fan of the sandbelt courses. The bunkering is just phenomenal. You never get a chance to see bunkering like this is any other place in the world. You don’t need a golf course that is 7,500 yards for it to be hard. You can build it just like this and have it nice and tricky, and it’s just a treat to play.”

The $3.3 million price tag to bring Tiger to Australia is expected to net $20 million in economic benefits, according to reports I’ve read. The Australian Masters is also expected to attract a global TV audience of 380 million. Not too shabby for mid November. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Monday, November 9

Golf Pet Peeve: The Golf Channel Guy

























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

By Robert Bruce
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


HOW DO I EXPLAIN The Golf Channel Guy?

Perhaps there’s a better name for this character—such as “wannabe”—but I’ll do my best to tell you about this peculiar fellow. The Golf Channel Guy watches a lot of The Golf Channel. Consequently, he’s picked up the mannerisms, fashion sensibilities, and general external qualities of the professional golfers who often appear on said Golf Channel.

Problem is, The Golf Channel Guy is a mediocre golfer at best. Most of the nation’s reported Golf Channel Guys have handicaps in the 15-18 range. He may look and sound the part, but that topped 7-iron and bladed wedge tell you otherwise.

If you’ve played golf long enough, you can smell The Golf Channel Guy from a mile away. He talks a big game. Braggadocio is his thing. After all, with those pleated khakis and svelte Nike shirt, who wouldn’t believe this guy is a scratch golfer?

The Golf Channel Guy is closely related to The Mulligan Golfer and Distance Exaggerator. All three fellows are quite concerned with image upkeep on the golf course. To help you spot The Golf Channel Guy at your local course, I’ve compiled a list of The Golf Channel Guy’s characteristics:

• Carries a pro-style bag.
• Applied for Big Break on multiple occasions.
• Wears pleated khaki pants on the golf course in August.
• Reads every putt from six angles.
• Treats every par as if he just made a birdie.
• Enjoys reverse sandbagging–in actuality, that 15 is probably a 20.
• Offers on-course instruction without prompting.
• During practice swings, he stops mid-swing to check his plane. Though he’s off plane by a foot, he seems pleased.

They try so hard. They try too hard. They are golfers in the midst of an identity crisis. Lord bless the Golf Channel Guys. 

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

(Image: Jeff Wallen/Flickr)

Sunday, November 8

Shanghai Phil Ride
























THIS SHANGHAI ADVENTURE had everything in it except Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu. You had a lurking Tiger. You had a hard-charging Big Easy. You had a strong cast of young stars: Nick Watney, Rory McIlroy and Ryan (don’t call me Roger) Moore. It was one incredible Phil ride, with plot twists and a highly charged ending. Could it be any other way with Lefty in the mix?

And if you live on the U.S. East Coast (like I do), you had to stay up until 3 a.m. to see the finish. I only made it to 1 a.m. but caught part of the replay on Sunday afternoon.

Phil Mickelson’s victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday brought his 2009 win total to four. The last time Lefty had a four-win season was in 2005 when he won the PGA Championship. He appears to relish his opportunities to go head to head with Tiger. He certainly doesn’t appear to be intimidated. Actually, Phil showed the kind of resilience in the final round that we’re used to seeing from Tiger, who struggled mightily on the opening nine and was never a factor. He finished in a tie for sixth with Martin Kaymer.

What’s up with Tiger? The putts aren’t dropping. He’s supremely hacked off. That’s certain.

It was Ernie Els who could have, should have, would have stolen the prize had he been able to negotiate the lake fronting the 18th green. His play was brilliant up until that point. He was on his way to a 62 or 61. Of his 5-wood shot that splashed down well short of the putting surface, Ernie said he “basically duffed it.”

The event was a huge hit in Shanghai. Massive galleries lined the fairways on Sunday at the Sheshan International Golf Club.

“Sunday’s was the largest crowd to watch a professional golf tournament in China—by far,” wrote Shanghai-based writer Dan Washburn at ESPN.com. “Some estimates put the total at around 18,000 fans, more than double the official number for Saturday.”

According to reports I read and from what I saw on the telecast, the Chinese fell hard for Phil. He might now be more popular than Chan and Liu put together. Stay tuned. There will be a sequel. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: van der Chijs/Flickr)


Saturday, November 7

I Feel Sorry for Doug Barron

I ADMIT IT. I FEEL SORRY for Doug Barron, the 40-year-old journeyman who this week became the first player to be suspended by the PGA Tour for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Someone had to be first and it happened to be Barron, whose tour career was going nowhere fast. He will be suspended from all tours for one year.

An unflattering photo of a shirtless Barron has appeared at many sites and he’s become a bit of a laughing stock. Whatever he was taking wasn’t working has been the refrain.

Barron issued an obligatory statement and then disappeared as quickly as he appeared. I would, too.

“I would like to apologize for any negative perception of the tour or its players resulting from my suspension,” Barron said in a statement released by the PGA Tour on Monday. “I want my fellow tour members and the fans to know that I did not intend to gain an unfair competitive advantage or enhance my performance while on tour.”

The thing is, Barron hasn’t played on the PGA Tour in three years (although he did play in one event this year). He also played in four Nationwide Tour events in 2009, and won no official money on either tour this year. In 2008, Barron won $33,446 on the Nationwide Tour.

If Barron violated the drug policy, I’m not defending his actions. We’ll probably never know if he is a sacrificial lamb as some have suggested. It’s just too bad this episode will very likely be his biggest claim to fame in golf. 

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, November 6

The 8 Things My Daughter Knows About Golf


Sergio Garcia is dreamy. (Glasson/Flickr)

By The Amchair Golfer’s Daughter
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF
SINCE MY DAD RUNS a golf blog, you would think I would know at least a little bit about the sport. That’s a bad assumption a lot of people make all too often.

When I try to explain my dad’s blog, it brings up all kinds of questions. People think I’ll have interesting, intelligent things to say about the game just because my dad happens to have a blog on the subject.

Let me tell you now, there are only a few things I know about the sport. And I can list them for you in less than ten items:

1. Sergio Garcia is dreamy.

2. Even though the whole golf course is green, there is a specific patch of grass called a green. This is where you want the ball to end up eventually.

3. Tiger Woods is really good.

4. If you win a lot, you get a lot of money.

5. The commercials for golf clubs are usually very stupid.

6. Some golfers tend to wear vibrant pants.

7. Nick Jonas plays golf.

8. The minus sign in front of your score is actually a good thing.

That’s all I know about golf, so the conversations people try to have with me about the sport usually aren’t long. Ask me about Shia LaBeouf in The Greatest Game Ever Played, however, and I could talk for hours.

Thursday, November 5

Road Hole Augmentation: Sir Henry Cotton Shares Blame


A 1930s era golf postcard of Henry Cotton.

“ … in an attempt to deflect their [critics’] ire the R&A claimed the inspiration for the changes to the Road Hole came from Sir Henry Cotton, who said in 1964 that he would like to see the hole lengthened and a new tee built.”
−Lawrence Donegan, guardian.co.uk

SHOULD GOLF PURISTS get their knickers in a knot over the lengthening of the world-famous Road Hole by 35 yards?

I’m still trying to make up my mind. Probably. It’s St. Andrews, after all. The home of golf.

The 17th, the Road Hole will play 490 yards for next year’s Open Championship. A new tee will be built on an adjacent driving range. The Royal & Ancient (R&A) said it had to be done.

“Over the years we have seen the threat from the road behind the green, and to a lesser extent the Road Bunker, diminished as players have been hitting shorter irons for their approach shots, allowing them to avoid these hazards more easily,” R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson told guardian.co.uk. “This change will ensure that the hole plays as it was originally intended.”

Fine, but did they have to bring Sir Henry Cotton into the discussion?

Three-time Open Champion


To brush up on our golf history, Henry Cotton was a gifted player. In one nine-year stretch in the 1930s, Cotton never finished out of the top 10 in the Open Championship. During that span, he won twice and had two third-place finishes. He won his third Open in 1948 and finished his career with 17 professional wins and later earned a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Of course, Sir Henry can’t comment about the Road Hole changes since he passed on to the heavenly fairways in 1987. But if he could, the three-time Open winner might say, as is fashionable these days, that his remarks were taken out of context. They were certainly taken from another century.

−The Armchair Golfer


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

Wednesday, November 4

Tiger Is Back on the Job


Tiger puts in some range time.
(TheGordons/Flickr)
)

TIGER WOODS WILL TRY to add to his record 16 victories in World Golf Championship events at this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China. Tiger has yet to win the HSBC Champions, elevated to a WGC event for the first time.

Besides Woods, the WGC-HSBC Champions features three of the four 2009 major winners: Y.E. Yang (PGA Championship), Angel Cabrera (Masters) and Stewart Cink (Open Championship). The field also includes 2007 HSBC Champions winner Phil Mickelson and defending champion Sergio Garcia. 

TV Coverage Starts Tonight

GOLF CHANNEL will air the WGC-HSBC Champions live at 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday and Thursday and at 10 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday. Coverage will be replayed at 11 a.m. ET and 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. ET and 6:30 p.m. ET on the weekend..

−The Armchair Golfer

Cristie Kerr Graces Cover of VIVmag


(Sunshine, Sachs & Associates)

LPGA TOUR STAR CRISTIE KERR is featured in the November/December issue of VIVmag.

“Golf is an obvious love of mine, but I have a number of other passions in my life—including fashion—which I know is shared among VIVmag women,” Cristie said in a statement.

“I am honored to be on the cover of VIVmag’s annual ‘Giving Back’ issue because advocating for breast cancer awareness is a cause very close to my heart—an important message that will resonate with their readers who also are committed to wellness and awareness.” 

Cristie’s Fashion Statement

I know, I know. This is not where you turn for fashion. Still, since I have it, I’ll run down what Cristie is wearing. It just seems like the right thing to do.

• The classic black cocktail dress is from Prada and Proenza Schouler
• Jewelry is courtesy of Roberto Cavalli and David Yurman
• The watch, her own, is from Audemars Piguet

To read the story, which is titled “Cristie Kerr’s Crusade,” go to vivmag.com/cristiekerr. 

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, November 3

Q&A: Natalie Gulbis at Pinehurst


Natalie Gulbis.

NATALIE GULBIS IS ONE of the most recognizable female golfers on the planet. Only 26, Natalie is completing her eighth season on the LPGA Tour. Yes, eight seasons. It’s kind of hard to believe.

Natalie has won one LPGA title and played on three victorious U.S. Solheim Cup teams. She has five top 10 finishes in majors. And, of course, she is a golfer-model, with looks and sex appeal that attract legions of admirers and land her in magazine spreads and on TV programs such as “The Celebrity Apprentice” and her own reality show on the Golf Channel.

What is Natalie like up close? What is it like to talk to her?

I can tell you—at least a little bit—because I stood with her under a canopy on the 10th tee of Pinehurst No. 8 last week.

I was a sponsor’s guest at the finals of the McGladrey Team Championship, a national best-ball amateur tournament. In addition to attending the festivities and VIP activities such as a skills challenge, I had the opportunity to talk to Natalie, Zach Johnson and Chris DiMarco, the three RSM McGladrey tour pros.

I didn’t know exactly when or where I’d have my chat with the three tour players. Although I had prepared some questions and carried a tiny digital voice recorder in my pocket, I knew I better be ready for anything. This would not be sit-downs or in-depth interviews. I was there to take in the experience, including my encounters with Natalie, Zach and Chris.

Natalie was first. I introduced myself and shook her hand. We talked, sometimes whispering, as amateur teams teed off in the three-day competition. She stepped away a couple of times for photographs with the teams, as did Zach, who stood nearby.

Natalie is personable and direct. She is totally at ease and an eager advocate for the women’s game, charities and her sponsors. Although she has fielded thousands of questions, this may be the first time she was asked this opener.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: I have to ask you a couple of questions for my daughters. My 9-year-old wants to know your favorite color.

NATALIE GULBIS: My favorite color is purple.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: My 14-year-old daughter wants to know if you have any pets.


NATALIE GULBIS:
I don’t have any pets. I had pets growing up, but now since I turned professional it’s too hard to be on the road and have pets. Stuffed animals is about the extent. My family does, though. My family in Sacramento has a dog and a cat.

Monday, November 2

Weary of Golf, God Rains Out Viking Classic


(AdamXC/Flickr)

“IT HAS BEEN A LONG SEASON,” God said in a statement about the rainy conditions that led to the cancellation of the 2009 Viking Classic in Madison, Mississippi. “I thought the PGA Tour players could use an extra week’s rest.”

The last PGA Tour event to be canceled was 13 years ago. Does this mean God is not a fan of the Fall Series?

“I would discourage anyone from jumping to conclusions about what this means, as people tend to do. Of course, I’m still omnipresent. That will never change. Let’s just say football and the World Series between the Phillies and Yankees are a heightened focus.”

What about the many players who are on the bubble and depending on the final events to secure their 2010 PGA Tour playing privileges?

“They need not worry,” God said. “I have a plan for all of them. It will all work out in the end.”

−The Armchair Golfer


(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Sunday, November 1

ARMCHAIR GOLF Briefs


(Josh V-R/Flickr)

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


GOLF DESTINATIONS


PGA Golf Catalunya Resort has confirmed its position as one of the finest golf estates on the Continent after being ranked in the Top 10 of Golf World magazine’s Top 100 European Courses.

Linna Golf in Finland has taken its place among the best resorts on the Continent after being ranked in Golf World magazine’s new Top 100 Courses in Europe.

KPMG announced that its seventh annual Golf Business Forum will take place at The Gloria Resort, Turkey, May 12-14, 2010. Leading figures from the golf business world, including Greg Norman, will attend the conference in Belek, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, voted Golf Destination of the Year by IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators) in 2008.

Marriott Golf announced that Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., was recognized as one of the Top 50 Resort Golf Facilities in the United States, according to Golf World magazine’s 2010 Reader’s Choice Awards.

GOLF EVENTS

• On Monday, Oct. 26, special displays recounting the historic paths each of the 2009 Inductees took to the World Golf Hall of Fame opened to the public. The opening was one week prior to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Christy O’Connor, José María Olazábal and Lanny Wadkins becoming official members of the Hall of Fame at the annual Induction Ceremony, set for Monday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. (airs on Golf Channel at 10 p.m. ET).

Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy (Hank Haney IJGA) announced BMW Southern Region as the presenting sponsor of the Hank Haney Invitational to be held November 13th-15th at Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

GOLF ENTERTAINMENT

• The Golf Poet (golfpoet.com) writes about the connection between golf and poetry and has been featured at the Boston Globe.

Skill Technology, an independent game studio in Chicago, has launched their first online game, Gimme Golf (gimmegolf.com), offering players the opportunity to compete in real cash tournaments.

GOLF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES


• A men’s outerwear collection, led by the new Ultimate Jacket V2, highlight the new 2010 Sunice® Outerwear Collection, which showcases golfwear that combines science and fashion-forward style.

• Updated from years past, a Golf Privilege Card (golflungcard.org) membership provides golfers savings on rounds of golf at courses throughout the country, the convenience of scheduling tee times online and a $250.00 PGA Tour Experiences Gift Card to the TOUR Academies located at some of the top resorts in the country. The purchase of a membership directly benefits the American Lung Association in your local community.

• Arik Nordby is a bad golfer, good drinker and creator of BogeyPro® (bogeypro.com), the brand for the average-to-bad golfer, including humorous products and gifts.

TurfNet.com, an online community for golf course superintendents, has teamed with Endavo Media, an Atlanta-based Internet TV platform provider, to add the latest online video features to its site.

• In conjunction with the debut of adidas Golf’s revolutionary new TOUR360 4.0 golf shoe, PrideSports, maker of Softspikes® cleats, has announced that the Company’s proprietary new THiNTech cleat design will be used as original equipment in the new shoe line.

−The Armchair Golfer