Thursday, December 31

Days of Christmas Giveaway: Golf Gloves

IT’S TIME TO CLEAR my shelves of golf books, golf DVDs and a few golf accessories. So welcome to Day 5 of the Days of Christmas Giveaway at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Today’s giveaway: Two high-quality golf gloves with college logo

If you don’t despise the Virginia Tech Hokies, you will like these well-made and comfortable golf gloves. Both are left-handed. Size is medium.

How to win this giveaway: Send an email to armchairgolfer@gmail.com that includes your name and mailing address. I’ll notify you if you’re the winner and drop your prize in the mail.

Keep coming back for more Days of Christmas giveaways!

−The Armchair Golfer

Day 1: Golf: The Art of the Mental Game: 100 Classic Golf Tips by Dr. Joseph Parent
Day 2: Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer
Day 3: Jim McLean Golf School DVD
Day 4: CADDIE CONFIDENTIAL: Inside Stories from the Caddies of the PGA Tour by Greg “Piddler” Martin

Cypress Point and Carolina Blue

I AM NOT A TAR HEELS fan. In fact, I’m mostly neutral in the North Carolina-Duke rivalry. But the following anecdote from Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson struck me as an uplifting way to cap a turbulent year in golf:
One of the most poignant moments of 2009 came on the Monterey Peninsula for Phil Mickelson’s caddie, only it wasn’t a tournament.

Jim “Bones” Mackay helped arrange a golf trip for close friend Bob Carson, father of Eve Carson, the North Carolina student body president who was shot to death in 2008. They wanted him to get away for a week and spend time with friends on a golf course.

As Carson later noted, it was a trip of incomparable camaraderie, a time for sharing burdens, some larger than others, and a chance for a friend to be lifted up. Mackay said the first round of golf was at Cypress Point on a peaceful morning of stunning beauty. What took his breath away, however, was when he walked into the pro shop.

By coincidence, the staff that day was dressed in a shade of Carolina blue.
Happy New Year and all the best from ARMCHAIR GOLF.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Image: schnaars/Flickr)

Wednesday, December 30

Days of Christmas Giveaway: Caddie Confidential Book

IT’S TIME TO CLEAR my shelves of golf books, golf DVDs and a few golf accessories. So welcome to Day 4 of the Days of Christmas Giveaway at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Today’s giveaway: CADDIE CONFIDENTIAL: Inside Stories from the Caddies of the PGA Tour by Greg “Piddler” Martin

Behind-the-scenes anecdotes from PGA Tour caddies. Author Greg Martin has been a PGA Tour caddie for 24 years, 21 of them for Dan Forsman.

How to win this giveaway: Send an email to armchairgolfer@gmail.com that includes your name and mailing address. I’ll notify you if you’re the winner and drop your prize in the mail.

Keep coming back for more Days of Christmas giveaways!

−The Armchair Golfer

Day 1: Golf: The Art of the Mental Game: 100 Classic Golf Tips by Dr. Joseph Parent
Day 2: Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer
Day 3: Jim McLean Golf School DVD

Tuesday, December 29

Sergio Garcia ‘Worried’ About Injured Hand


















“THE HAND IS NOT WELL,” Sergio Garcia told The Associated Press in a story that published today at GolfChannel.com.

“I haven’t played for three weeks and I still feel pain. It’s not healing as fast as we thought it would. What’s clear is that even with the rest it’s not better and we’re a little bit worried.”

So Sergio, the world’s 11th best golfer, will see a specialist in hopes that he can make his 2010 debut at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on January 21. The Spaniard sprained his right wrist in the third round of the Dubai World Championship. He went on to finish seventh, but the hand hasn’t been without pain since the season-ending event.

“I’ve tried to swing and I can’t,” said Sergio, who won once in 2009 and banked $2.4 million in his 11th season as a tour professional.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Steve Newton/Flickr)

Days of Christmas Giveaway: Jim McLean Golf School DVD

IT’S TIME TO CLEAR my shelves of golf books, golf DVDs and a few golf accessories. So welcome to Day 3 of the Days of Christmas Giveaway at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Today’s giveaway: The Building Block Approach DVD by Jim McLean of the Jim McLean Golf School

Jim McLean’s Building Block Approach to golf is based on his critically acclaimed 8-step swing series.

How to win this giveaway: Send an email to armchairgolfer@gmail.com that includes your name and mailing address. I’ll notify you if you’re the winner and drop your prize in the mail.

Keep coming back for more Days of Christmas giveaways!

−The Armchair Golfer

Day 1: Golf: The Art of the Mental Game: 100 Classic Golf Tips by Dr. Joseph Parent
Day 2: Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer

Monday, December 28

2010 Bob Jones Award Winner Wowed Hogan



HINT: IT’S A WOMAN, arguably the greatest to ever play the game. It’s not Annika Sorenstam or Patty Berg or Kathy Whitworth. The winner of the 2010 Bob Jones Award is Mary Kathryn “Mickey” Wright, the holder of four U.S. Women’s Open titles.

Presented each year since 1955, the Bob Jones Award “is given in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf” and “seeks to recognize a person who emulates Jones’ spirit, his personal qualities and his attitude toward the game and its players.”

Mickey Wright dominated women’s golf with a swing Ben Hogan called the best he’d ever seen. Byron Nelson concurred. Wright collected 82 LPGA victories, including 13 majors. She recorded 10 or more wins in four consecutive seasons, from 1961 to 1964. She quit playing the tour full-time at the age of 34.

“The USGA has always meant a great deal to me, and it means a lot that they think enough of me to give me the award,” Wright said in a USGA announcement.

Wright will receive the award on February 6 at the USGA’s annual meeting in Pinehurst, North Carolina. She is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and was named the greatest female golfer of the 20th century by The Associated Press.

Other women who have received the Bob Jones Award include Patty Berg (1963), Joanne Carner (1981), Betsy Rawls (1996), Nancy Lopez (1998), Judy Rankin (2002) and Louise Suggs (2007).

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, December 27

Days of Christmas Giveaway: Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer

IT’S TIME TO CLEAR my shelves of golf books, golf DVDs and a few golf accessories. So welcome to Day 2 of the Days of Christmas Giveaway at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Today’s giveaway: Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer (two packages)

Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer is the cure for slipping grip in wet, cold, hot, humid, or sweaty conditions.

How to win this giveaway: Send an email to armchairgolfer@gmail.com that includes your name and mailing address. I’ll notify you if you’re the winner and drop your prize in the mail.

Keep coming back for more Days of Christmas giveaways!

−The Armchair Golfer

Day 1: Golf: The Art of the Mental Game: 100 Classic Golf Tips by Dr. Joseph Parent

Saturday, December 26

Days of Christmas Giveaway: Art of Mental Game Book

IT’S TIME TO CLEAR my shelves of golf books, golf DVDs and a few golf accessories. So the Days of Christmas Giveaway begins today and will continue for a week or so.

Today’s giveaway: Golf: The Art of the Mental Game: 100 Classic Golf Tips by Dr. Joseph Parent (Foreword by Tom Watson)

Dr. Parent, bestselling author of Zen Golf, offers mental tips that include drawings by sports illustrator Anthony Ravielli.

How to win this giveaway: Send an email to armchairgolfer@gmail.com that includes your name and mailing address. I’ll notify you if you’re the winner and drop your prize in the mail.

Keep coming back for more Days of Christmas giveaways!

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, December 25

Merry Christmas from ARMCHAIR GOLF


I’ll be back soon to talk more golf. Best holiday wishes to you and yours from ARMCHAIR GOLF.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, December 23

Test Your Knowledge of Player Nicknames

I LEAFED THROUGH MY copy of A Disorderly Compendium of Golf yesterday. It’s a 2006 golf book of anecdotes, vignettes, trivia, myths, rules and more authored by Lorne Rubenstein and Jeff Neuman. I thought I’d share many of the player nicknames I found in the book, as well as some listed at The Sand Trap.

See how many players you can identify. On Christmas Eve I will add the player names beside the nicknames.

(WARNING: Many of the following player nicknames are from earlier golf eras.)

UPDATE: The player names have been added. How did you do?

The Squire (Gene Sarazen)
Popeye (Craig Parry)
The Joplin Ghost (Horton Smith)
Walrus (Craig Stadler)
The King (Arnold Palmer)
Gentle Ben (Ben Crenshaw)
All Day (Glen Day)
Long John (John Daly)
Boss of the Moss (Loren Roberts)
Georgie (Nick Dougherty)
The Big Easy (Ernie Els)
Skippy (Al Geiberger)
Radar (Mike Reid)
Sir Walter (Walter Hagen)
The Hawk (Ben Hogan)
Volcano (Steve Jones)
Thurston (Charles Howell III)
Lord Byron (Byron Nelson)
Lumpy (Tim Heron)
Mr. X (Miller Barber)
Thunder Bolt (Tommy Bolt)
Moose (Julius Boros)
The Stylist (Harry Vardon)
Hound Dog (Gay Brewer)
Chachi (Billy Andrade)
Dr. Dirt (Bart Bryant)
Buffalo Billy (Billy Casper)
Lighthorse (Harry Cooper)
The Mechanic (Miguel Angel Jimenez)
The Emperor (Bobby Jones)
Champagne Tony (Tony Lema)
Phil the Thrill (Phil Mickelson)
Gene the Machine (Gene Littler)
DL 3 (Davis Love)
Wild Bill (Bill Mehlhorn)
Zinger (Paul Azinger)
Doc (Cary Middlecoff)
The Shark (Greg Norman)
Porky (Ed Oliver)
Jumbo (Masahi Ozaki)
Chocolate Soldier (Henry Picard)
Black Knight (Gary Player)
Mouse (Bob Toski)
The Bulldog (Corey Pavin)
Super Mex (Lee Trevino)
Towering Inferno (Tom Weiskopf)
The Chin (Lew Worsham)
Boom Boom (Fred Couples)
The Angry Ant (Gavin Coles)
Tank (K.J. Choi)
Desert Fox (Johnny Miller)
Mrs. Doubtfire (Colin Montgomerie)
Sarge (Orville Moody)
The Golden Bear (Jack Nicklaus)
The Italian Bandit (Constantino Rocca)

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, December 22

The Southernmost Course in Continental U.S.

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN is the only U.S. president who vacationed regularly in Key West. He spent 175 days at the Key West Naval Station Commandant’s house from 1946 to 1952. In the Keys, Truman wrote his State of the Union addresses, drafted legislation, fine tuned the national budget and issued an Executive Order on Civil Rights. He loved the weather and late night poker games at this winter White House which was cheek by jowl to Mallory Square, about as far south as you can get on U.S. 1.

What Truman didn’t do was play golf, not that there was much golf to be played on an old nine-hole course located five miles up U.S. 1 on Stock Island.

There is the story told that when Truman assigned General Dwight David Eisenhower to perform a series of military tasks around 1948-49 and the General came down with ileitis, the doctors suggested Ike get some rest. So Truman put the General on the Presidential plane and sent him to Key West. After a week Ike had had enough of the hot weather and no golf. An aide to the General called Clifford Roberts at Augusta National and asked if Ike could rest up in Georgia. Thus began Eisenhower’s long love affair with Augusta National.

The lack of a good golf course in Key West lost a presidential visitor to Margaritaville, though President Eisenhower would return once again to Key West in 1955 while recovering from his heart attack.

It is a shame that Augusta National’s most famous member didn’t have a chance to play the new Key West Golf Club on Stock Island. It is the southernmost golf course in the United States, the first of what we might call a Caribbean course which favors dense mangroves, lakes, nesting egrets and the trade winds of the Gulf of Mexico.

Redesigned in 1983 by Rees Jones, the course is 18 holes, 6,531 yards long and from the back tees plays to a par 70. It has 51 bunkers, greens seeded with SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, and water just about everywhere.

The public club is owned by William Smith, who also owns Deer Creek in Monee and Rail Golf Course in Springfield, both in Illinois. The course is run by the head pro Eric Favier with Matt Harris as his teaching assistant. And it is open 365 days a year. Last year over 50,000 rounds were played by tourists and club members.

Hemingway, Azinger and Howell III

True, most people don’t go to Key West for the golf. It is famous more for fishing and sunsets, Hemingway’s home, and bar hopping down Duval Street in Old Town, but according to Eric Favier when the winds blow and fishing is put on hold the players flock, like the egrets, out to Stock Island for a round of golf.

Paul Azinger turned up one day at the club. He had come south to go fishing but when the winds picked up, he stopped by the pro shop, not to play but to say hello, and spent a few hours talking golf with Eric and Matt. He even answered the phone and booked tee times for the members. PGA Tour pro Charles Howell III, in town for a friend’s wedding, was another golfer to stop by the club. He played twice in his long week in Key West, just like any other snowbird who traveled south to the Keys for the warm weather.

Unlike the more famous Central Florida courses in Brooksville, Lake Wales, and Deland Ridges (Southern Hills, Diamondback and Sugarloaf, to name three) the Keys offer limited places to play golf. The next closest to Key West is north on Highway 1, at Marathon, this big town in the stretch of Florida Keys which has a private club.

But, in Key West, the Key West Golf Club has clubs to rent, a pro shop, lockers and a short, but challenging 18 holes. The two toughest holes are No. 8, a 143-yard par-3 that is a tee shot over thickly intertwined tropical mangroves, and No. 6, a par-4 that is 434 yards in length, but has mangroves left and right down the fairway for 250 yards. Anything off line is a lost ball.

So, the next time you are down in the Keys, or off one of those cruise ships that dock near the Westin Marina, grab a Friendly Cab and head out to Stock Island. There are 200 acres of foliage and wildlife and always an available tee time.

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.

(Image: SuperStar/Flickr)

Monday, December 21

A Hard Year for The Big Easy


















2009 WAS THE FIRST season in nearly 20 years that Ernie Els didn’t win a pro golf tournament. Ernie’s first win was on the Sunshine Tour at the Amatola Sun Classic. His most recent PGA Tour victory was at the 2008 Honda Classic. Ernie’s 60 worldwide wins include 16 PGA Tour titles and three majors.

“It hasn’t been a great season for me on the golf course—my first calendar year without a win since 1990—but the emails and messages of encouragement and good wishes that I receive via this website is gratifying and genuinely means a lot to me,” Ernie wrote today in his weekly diary.

“There are many of you out there who continue to have a lot of faith in me and I hope I can repay that with a few wins in 2010.”

I often check Ernie’s site because he is one of the few tour pros who writes regular entries. And not just a token paragraph or two. Ernie writes and writes, week after week. Often times, I’ve found him to be surprisingly candid and introspective.

Today, among other things, Ernie wrote about his desire to win again.

“That’s obviously going to be my main goal when my new season kicks off again in mid-January. I had some great chances in 2009, especially in the Open at Turnberry and the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, but I didn’t get the job done. I don’t want a repeat of those experiences in 2010. I need to keep putting myself in positions to win and next time, do a better job of grabbing them with both hands.”

I like Ernie, and I’ve always felt as if he had another major in him. Maybe next year. Or maybe a regular win or two somewhere along the tournament trail for the globetrotting golfer.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Mike Davis/Flickr)

Sunday, December 20

Exclusive Q&A: Red and Black Talk About Tigerless Tour

IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with ARMCHAIR GOLF, Red and Black talk about their partnership with Tiger Woods and how Tiger’s absence will affect them and the sport. 

Q. With you two coming forward, it makes us realize the enormity of Tiger’s break from golf and the widespread impact it has.

RED: It really caught us off balance. The whole situation has been surreal. 

BLACK: Yeah, Sundays will never be the same for me. I’m not coping very well, to be honest. 

Q. Is there any truth to the rumor that you’re going to drop Tiger?

RED: None whatsoever. We just want to respect his desire for privacy to work through things. We’ll be here for Tiger when he returns to golf. 

Q. I guess you heard about PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem’s comments the other day about the tour and Tiger’s absence.

RED: Sure. 

BLACK: Yeah. 

Q. Do you know the commissioner?

BLACK: Not really. We’ve seen him at dozens of trophy presentations, but I wouldn’t say we’re buddy buddy or anything. 

Q. What did you make of Finchem’s comments? Do you agree that golf isn’t all “doom and gloom” and the tour will still be strong?

RED: Absolutely. I think we all know Tiger’s absence will have an impact but that golf, as a whole, will be successful and the tour will be successful in ‘10. Why not? Why can’t it be like he says? 

Q. Black?

BLACK: Golf as we knew it is over. It’s over. My career is over, in golf and probably all sports. I hate myself. 

RED: C’mon, Black. Try to keep it together, will you? 

BLACK: Don’t tell me how I feel, Mr. Bright Side. 

RED: Sorry, Black. You know I care about you. Your career isn’t over. Tiger will be back. There are other players. It’s not like Tiger was going to be around forever. C’mon now. We’ve gone over this. 

Q. What about other players?

RED: I can’t say much. We’re in talks. 

Q. Are we going to see you two on the course before Tiger’s return?

RED: Let’s just say Tiger isn’t the only player to ever wear us. With all due respect to Tiger, we were around before he came on tour and we’ll be around when he calls it quits. 

Q. Anything to add, Black?

BLACK: Tiger’s chip-in on the 16th hole during the final round of the 2005 Masters was amazing, just amazing. And at Hoylake, when he broke down and fell into Stevie’s arms … 

RED: He’s been like this since November 28. 

Q. Thanks for taking the time, and good luck to both of you.

RED: My pleasure. 

BLACK: Expect anything different? Expect anything different? That putt to tie Rocco on the last green at the U.S. Open! Expect anything different? 

−The Armchair Golfer

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

(Image: Chase McAlpine/Flickr)

Saturday, December 19

ARMCHAIR GOLF Briefs











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


GOLF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Ruthless Putting (RuthlessPutting.com) by Mike Southern is available as a paperback for $13.99 or an ebook for $8.99.

Wintering Into Wisdom (PathBinder 2009) by M. Ernest Marshall is a Southern novel that focuses on the lives of four friends and golfers.

OnPar, the world’s leading touchscreen golf GPS rangefinder, has expanded into the Canadian golf market.

“Annika,” the women’s fragrance by pro golfer Annika Sorenstam, has rich aromas of amber, vanilla, white flowers and citrus, and is available at AnnikaFragrance.com. All domestic orders ship free in December.

aboutGolf has installed a highly-customized PGA Tour Simulator in the new studio set for Golf Channel, which will launch in January 2010.

Phoenix Environmental Care has added Thrasher™ herbicide, a low-odor, water-based herbicide, to its line of products.

PUMA® has announced a new partnership for its North American golf business, forming PUMA Golf North America, which will act as the official distributor and licensee of PUMA Golf in the United States and Canada.

RoboCup, the ball-return robot invented by Fine Tune Golf in 2009, has expanded its retail distribution. Retailers include Golfsmith.com, TGW.com, PGA Superstore (10 stores), GolfTown Canada (48 stores) and Edwin Watts Golf.

Slotline Golf has introduced the SSi-600 Series putters, which includes the SSi-691, SSi-692 and SSi-693. The 600 Series is a high-performance putter line that incorporates multi-metal construction and Slotline’s Moment of Inertia (MOI) designs.

Thomson Perrett & Lobb, the golf course architecture practice founded by Peter Thomson, has been appointed by Emirates Golf Club to modernize its flagship Majlis Course, home of the Dubai Desert Classic. 


GOLF DESTINATIONS

The Pete Dye golf course at French Lick Resort has been selected as America’s best new course by Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine.

Sandy Lane (SandyLane.com) in Barbados is offering a new Tropical Escape package to travelers visiting the resort between January 7 – February 7, 2010 and February 22 – March 26, 2010.


GOLF EVENTS

White Plains Hospital Center will be the beneficiary of the Ahmad Rashad Golf Classic to be held June 27-28, at the Quaker Ridge Golf Club, Scarsdale, New York.

• Tickets for the Transitions Championship (at lower prices for 2010) are on sale at nearly 200 Florida Gulf Coast area Publix locations and through Ticketmaster.

Waste Management is the new title sponsor of the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open.


GOLF PROGRAMMING

The First Tee will be the subject of a one-hour special, “Celebrating The First Tee,” featuring The Golf Channel Invitational for The First Tee. The show will air at 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009 on Golf Channel.

Donald Trump will star in a new celebrity reality series on Golf Channel.


GOLF-OTHER

Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy (Hank Haney IJGA) has signed Richard Werenski (Georgia Tech) and Stephanie Meadow (University of Alabama).

Turner Sports and the PGA Tour have launched a redesign of PGATour.com.

The First Tee will receive the National Golf Course Owners Association’s (NGCOA) Award of Merit for its contributions to the game of golf.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, December 18

King of Golf Cartoons: ‘Score’

























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

Can you remember your highest 18-hole score? I’ll go first. As a ninth-grader, I once carded a 109 in a high-school match.

−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.

Thursday, December 17

More Skins Action for 50-Year-Old Fred Couples

THE SKINS GAME IS OVER—at least for now. This past Thanksgiving Day weekend was the first time the Silly Season event wasn’t played since the early 1980s. That’s not a problem for the “King of Skins,” Fred Couples. Now 50, Freddie will make his Champions Tour debut by playing the old guys version next month in Hawaii.

To be played at Royal Kaanapali on Maui on January 16 and 17, the Champions Skins Game will feature two-man teams playing alternate shot format. Couples will team with Nick Price. The other teams are defending champions Ben Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller, Loren Roberts and Gary Player, and Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.

The purse is $770,000, and don’t be surprised if Mr. Couples wins his share. In nearly 600 PGA Tour events, Freddie earned $21 million. Add $4 million in just 14 Skins Game appearances. If they had a Skins Game Tour, Freddie would rule the world.

“I could not think of a better way for me, personally, to start on the Champions Tour than to play in this format and have the chance to hang out with this group of players,” he told the Associated Press.

Hang out and win a healthy share of skins might be more like it. We’ll see if Freddie can ring up as many birdies in January as he has in November.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Image: Chase McAlpine/Flickr)

Wednesday, December 16

Tiger Woods Is Athlete of the Decade






















IN THE NEVER-ENDING Tiger Woods news cycle, there’s finally a bright spot for the world No. 1 golfer. On Wednesday Tiger was selected as Athlete of the Decade by the Associated Press.

As AP golf writer Doug Ferguson noted, “It wasn’t much of a contest.” Woods received 56 of the 142 votes from editors of U.S. newspapers. More than half the votes for Tiger were cast after his November 27 car accident that triggered the media tsunami about his personal failures. Cyclist and six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong finished second with 33 votes. Tennis great Roger Federer was third with 25 votes.

Tiger was the right choice. He won 56 PGA Tour events during the decade, nearly one in three he entered. Twelve of those victories were major championships. And Tiger held the top spot in the world golf rankings for all but 32 weeks of the decade. No golfer has ever been as dominant during a similar stretch of time.

The question now on the minds of golf fans and people throughout the sports world: Where does his career go from here?

−The Armchair Golfer


(Image: Chase McAlpine/Flickr)

Tuesday, December 15

Mike Weir: Pride of Canada

WHEN I THINK OF Canadian golf pros, I think of Mike Weir, Stephen Ames, George Knudson and Mo Norman. The first one, Weir, a player I’ve always liked, was recently inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.

Mike has eight PGA Tour wins, including the 2003 Masters. He has more PGA Tour wins than Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen, Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott. Not bad. He also knocked off Tiger Woods in singles at the 2007 Presidents Cup played in Montreal.

I asked Lorne Rubenstein, the well-respected golf columnist for The Globe and Mail, for his thoughts on Weir. First, I wondered how Weir stands all-time among Canadian golf pros.

“Mike ranks at the very top of Canadian pros,” Lorne said in an email. “He and George Knudson are tied for most PGA Tour wins by a Canadian. But Weir won a major. Knudson, who died in 1989, tied for second in the Masters but never did win a major.”

I also asked how Weir is viewed in Canada.

“Golf fans in Canada follow Weir very closely,” Lorne said, “although many would also like to see more Canadians on the PGA Tour besides Weir and Stephen Ames. Two more will have their cards next year, making four. Sports fans who aren’t necessarily into golf also watch what Weir does, and they get more interested when he’s in contention. They certainly followed his every shot during the weekend of the 2003 Masters, and would do so again should he contend in a major.”

Lastly, I asked Lorne about the state of Weir’s game and his future prospects.

“Mike will turn 40 next May. He believes he has more wins in him and is working as hard as ever. He’s gone back to his instructor Mike Wilson and feels he’s getting himself back into the mode where he’s playing golf rather than thinking too much about his swing. There’s no reason he can’t win again.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, December 14

Golf Pet Peeve: The Distance Exaggerator

(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


THE DISTANCE EXAGGERATOR is pretty much a self-explanatory fellow. But I’ll give you an example.

You’re on a sharp dogleg left par-4 that measures about 350 yards. The fairway turns almost 90 degrees at the 100-yard marker. So you have a decision. Pop your drive 250 yards out there, or fly the tree line and get closer to the green.

Now, most of us know that holes aren’t measured as the crow flies. The measurements follow the fairway. So, theoretically, if one was to land the ball on this green, one would not have hit a 350-yard drive, no matter how great a drive it would be. The Distance Exaggerator, however, looks for any opportunity to inflate his ego. On the hole described above, this fellow lands his drive about 60 yards from the green—probably a nice drive of 270 yards. But, perhaps to compensate for poor self-esteem, the Distance Exaggerator adds 30-40 yards, at least, on every drive. So that 270-yard drive became a 310-yard drive simply because he’s within a pitch shot on a sharp dogleg par-4.

In his own mind, the Distance Exaggerator is one of the longest hitters at his club. After all, his friends the Mulligan Golfer and Golf Channel Guy tell him so. In reality, he pokes his Titleist out there about 260 on a career day, giving myself and Corey Pavin company in the fairway.

The problem with the Distance Exaggerator is that he actually makes club selections based on his faulty sense of distance. Last summer, I played in a scramble with a guy who actually thought he could hit his lob wedge 110 yards. The guy was probably a 20-25 handicap. He swung out of his shoes with a lob wedge! The ball didn’t even sniff the flag—or the green.

The Distance Exaggerator—much like the Golf Channel Guy—talks a big game. Golfers who can actually hit 300-yard drives have no need to talk about it. They are used to bombing the ball.

But the Distance Exaggerator is like the dude in high school who always bragged about all his lady friends, when, in reality, he was sitting at home alone on Friday night, playing World of Warcraft and wondering if that stale dutch oven in his sheets smells as bad as last Friday night’s offering.

Let’s be honest. You’re not hitting 300-yard drives, buddy. You’re not even close.

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

(Image: Courtland/Flickr)

Saturday, December 12

Tiger Gone Indefinitely
























AFTER ENDURING A MEDIA SPOTLIGHT that’s made coverage of the Kennedy assassination look like a town council meeting, Tiger Woods issued a statement late on Friday saying, “I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf.”

“I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused many people, most of all my wife and children,” Tiger said at his Web site. “What’s most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.”

About the “indefinite break,” Tiger said, “I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.”

Of course, Tiger’s latest statement and the circumstances surrounding it will be parsed, examined and debated in the days and weeks ahead on Planet Earth with great zeal. A zillion theories will be hatched and debunked. And the media bonfire will rage on.

As a golf fan, I have a simple response to Tiger’s statement and his desire to call a timeout: OK.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it once again: Tiger is not my favorite golfer. I grew up in the pre-Tiger era. The players of my youth were from a different generation and mold. They played with different equipment on classic golf courses for thousands instead of millions. Some players may have cursed and thrown clubs, but most controlled their rage. (The great ones certainly did.) And even the fiercest competitors won and lost with grace.

Although I greatly admire him as a transformative figure in golf (and sports), I don’t actively root for Tiger. But I will definitely root for him now, as well as his wife, Elin, and children, Sam and Charles. I root for marriages. They’re not easy for anyone and harder for some. I also root for families, especially children, who have the most to lose when moms and dads fracture.

And I will root for golf.

Ben Hogan once said, “I don’t like the glamour. I just like the game.” To borrow from him, I don’t like the scandal. (It’s “joyless” one national golf writer said to me earlier this week.) I just like the game. So I will continue to sit out the endless speculation and offering of PR advice, endorsements advice, marital advice, family advice, or any kind of advice. There’s no joy in it for me.

While golf will never be the same in the Tiger era—especially since the Tiger golf economy may implode like the U.S. financial system did a year ago—it will survive as a game and professional sport. Golf made Tiger; Tiger didn’t make golf. He just made it thrilling, heroic and much, much richer.

The luster may be gone, the money may dry up, the TV ratings may tank—which is all very sad and detrimental to the livelihoods of many people—but the game that Hogan liked is still a great game. This scandal, and any future scandals, can’t change that.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Image: Chase McAlpine/Flickr)

Friday, December 11

Common Courses: Desert Aire Golf Course

Editor’s note: They’re not Pebble, Bandon, Kiawah, or Pinehurst. Common courses are the modest 9- and 18-hole munis and semi-private clubs that most golfers play. Following is the first installment of what I hope will be an occasional series.

LOCATED IN PALMDALE, CALIFORNIA, on the edge of the Mojave Desert, Desert Aire Golf Course is a flat, short, 9-hole public track with few distinguishing features besides the Joshua trees that are native to the area. It is not a difficult course. It is not a course anyone is dying to play. It is the course on which I learned to play golf.

For that reason alone, I love Desert Aire because it introduced me to the game. It was where I spent my summer days as a teen. And it was where I spent many hours playing alongside my dad, brother, friends and golf teammates.

I was a pretty good baseball player, but I gave up the national pastime at 12 to pick up a different kind of stick and hit a small white ball with dimples instead of one with laces. I made the high school golf team as a freshman. I was terrible. I fit right in. We finished eighth out of eight teams my freshman year. I got better. I played three more years in high school and on the local community college team. Because I fell in love with golf at Desert Aire and learned to play the game on my humble home course, I enjoyed the privilege of competing at private country clubs and public resort courses throughout California.

In my early golf days, I sometimes rode my bike three miles on sandy trails to Desert Aire with a small carry bag slung over my shoulder. I had a little shag bag of scuffed and cut golf balls that I hit to a lone practice green over and over and over again. I learned to hit off hardpan because lush grass was scarce. I pretended to be the pro golfers I watched on television.

I played on 110-degree days and I played a lot. One day I made five trips around Desert Aire, walking 45 holes. That was my record.

I never had a formal private golf lesson from our head pro “Red” Simmons or assistant pro Ron O’Connor. I did take group junior lessons, during which Ron refined my grip. And somewhere along the way—maybe while playing with him—Red gave me a tip about the shoulder turn. I still rely on that swing thought.

Wind was the one thing that turned Desert Aire into a little beast. The wind regularly blew 25 miles per hour at Desert Aire, with gusts up to 40. (If you wanted to play in calm conditions, you played in the morning, the earlier the better.) There was out of bounds along the perimeter of the course, and the strong winds would quickly turn a fade into a slice and a draw into a hook, blowing errant shots into the desert or the street, whether Ave. P or 40th St. East.

I remember one story about an unfortunate motorist on Ave. P. C.L., Red’s son, smashed a tee shot on No. 1 that hooked into the street and struck the windshield of an oncoming car. The driver parked his damaged vehicle in the gravel lot and stormed into the clubhouse where Ron, the assistant pro, was working behind the counter.

“Somebody just hit a golf ball into my car and broke my windshield!” shouted the man. “What are you going to do about it?”

“I’m going to tell C.L. to turn his left hand a little bit to the left to weaken his grip,” Ron replied.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: DesertAireGolfCourse.net)

Thursday, December 10

Michelle Wie Scores a 113

















MICHELLE WIE EXCELS in golf and, um, college-level stats. On Thursday morning, Michelle tweeted about her final-exam score of 113 out of a possible 120. She’s a junior at Stanford and the 12th-ranked women’s golfer in the world.

Stina Sternberg wrote about it for Golf Digest Woman:
“In Dubai for the Ladies European Tour’s season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, Wie, a junior at Stanford University who’s managed to reach number 12 in the Rolex World Rankings between classes, was pulling all-nighters earlier this week studying for her final statistics exam. After shooting a three-under-par 69 in Wednesday’s first round (good for a T5), Wie logged onto her computer at midnight Dubai time (the set exam time considering the time difference between Dubai and Los Angeles), and completed the test over the Internet.”
I’m impressed. I actually think statistics might be harder than golf. As an Economics major, I had to take at least two stats courses in college. It was brutal, even at a different California institution of higher learning: San Diego State. (Not that there’s anything wrong with SDSU. Go Aztecs.)

OK, I’ve returned to my senses. While difficult, stats can’t be harder than golf. Who am I kidding? Nothing is harder than golf.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Wednesday, December 9

Hall Monitor: Is Monty Worthy?




















SOME HAVE SPECULATED WHEN Colin Montgomerie will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Monty was on the 2009 International Ballot but didn’t receive enough support. (There are two ballots: the PGA Tour Ballot and the International Ballot for players who spent most of their careers competing outside the United States.)

“With the open-door policy that the WGHF [World Golf Hall of Fame] seems to have, Montgomerie will one day be enshrined,” wrote GolfChannel.com managing editor Mercer Baggs last month. “But he wouldn’t get my vote.”

Baggs’ knock on Colin is his lack of a major title and no PGA Tour wins.

Monty’s career numbers are impressive: 31 European Tour wins, eight Order of Merit money titles (including seven straight) and a 20-9-7 career record in the Ryder Cup. Only Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer have won more Ryder Cup points for the Europeans.

I can look past Monty’s lack of success on the PGA Tour. He dominated the European Tour, and that’s his home turf. The hole in his resume is the zero majors. Fellow international player José Maria Olazábal, who was inducted this year, won two majors, both Green Jackets. Ollie also had 21 European Tour wins and six PGA Tour titles. He was an airtight choice.

Monty came agonizingly close to winning at three U.S. Opens, lost a playoff to Steve Elkington in the 1995 PGA Championship, and flirted with the Claret Jug in 2005. Just one of those would have put him into the Hall with ease. As it is, he’ll have to wait longer and endure more debate.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Image: Steve Newton/Flickr)

Tuesday, December 8

Q&A: Zach Johnson at Pinehurst

2009 WAS GOOD to Zach Johnson. The Iowan won twice and finished fourth on the PGA Tour money list. His scoring average was under 70 and he had 10 top-10 finishes in 27 events. Zach also played on the victorious U.S. Presidents Cup team.

Johnson, 33, has six PGA Tour wins, including the 2007 Masters, and one Ryder Cup appearance in a pro career that began on the Prairie Golf Tour and progressed to the Buy.com Tour (now the Nationwide Tour). He played collegiate golf at Drake University because he didn’t have the game for big-time college golf programs.

I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Zach at Pinehurst in late October. Along with Chris DiMarco and Natalie Gulbis, Zach was on hand for the McGladrey Team Championship, a national best-ball amateur event. (All three of the tour pros are sponsored by RSM McGladrey.)

Zach was the same good guy in person that I’ve seen on TV. I don’t think he has a negative bone in his body. He answered my questions between signing autographs and standing for photos with amateur teams on the 10th tee of Pinehurst No. 8.

(Editor’s note: A lot has happened in the six weeks since I spoke with Zach, namely Doug Barron’s drug case and the revelations about Tiger Woods. It’s something to keep in mind as you read his answers, including his involvement on the PGA Tour Policy Board.)

ARMCHAIR GOLF: I was looking at your [2009] numbers. I knew you had a great year. What was the difference for you this year?

ZACH JOHNSON: Certainly, to compete out here and be in contention you’ve got to putt well. I putted well most of the year. That’s probably what took me into those stats that you were talking about. My game was pretty solid all around. The parts of my game that were not very positive going into the year I’m continuing to try to raise. My consistency was good. I think I missed three cuts, and I just really never took myself out of it. I’m proud of that, but at the same time the best part about it is I know I can improve. There are still a lot of goals out there and still a lot of things to accomplish. I’ve got a great team. Certainly, my sponsors, but my coaches are fantastic. They trust me; I trust them.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: That seems like that’s a real theme for you, the whole team concept.

ZACH JOHNSON: No question. I’m the one hitting the shots, but there are a lot of people helping me out.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: What’s it been like for you to be associated with RSM McGladrey and this event?

ZACH JOHNSON: As a professional athlete, you have the opportunity to associate yourself with individuals, with companies, and I’m very selective in that. I want the right mix. I want people and companies that treat their job the way I treat my job and have the same values and ideals that I have. From day one, it’s been a perfect fit. The whole slogan with their golf division, if you want to call it that—Natalie, Chris and myself—is Team McGladrey. And it is just that. And I think even beyond that, the team has turned into a family. That’s what I respect and I feel privileged and honored to be a part of. You can tell the way they go about their business is exactly how you’d treat your family or your friend or your closest people. It’s been great in that respect.

As far as this event goes, it’s a staple of my schedule. I love it. You have individuals from all around the United States coming to play golf at a world-class facility under [RSM] McGladrey and the PGA of America, and it’s just fun. They get to play three classic golf courses here at Pinehurst. So you have the history involved. Being here and seeing their energy and seeing them compete, it just fuels us a little bit. I like seeing that energy and seeing that fire these guys have.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: I was watching you at the Presidents Cup. I know it’s not the Ryder Cup, but it seems like that kind of event really gets your juices flowing.

ZACH JOHNSON: I love team sports. We play such an individual game. Aside from my caddie, I really don’t have a teammate out there, inside the ropes. So having a team element brought into golf, that chemistry, that camaraderie that comes with it, just makes it that much more special. Then you throw in the fact that you have your nation’s flag on your sleeve, and it makes it even more special.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: You feel like you bear down a little bit more when you’re playing with a guy and he’s depending on you?

ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, yeah. I try to. You’re going at it together; you’re going at it as one. I think it’s just a lot of fun that way.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: How has it been for you serving as a player rep on the tour policy board?

ZACH JOHNSON: It’s been great. I’ve only done it one year. This is my second year in 2010. I’m learning about the tour. I’m learning about the inner workings of exactly what takes place. There’s nothing that’s a secret. It makes me proud to be associated with such a great entity, because they’re very thorough and they give a lot back.

−The Armchair Golfer


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

(Image courtesy of RSM McGladrey)

Monday, December 7

Tiger’s Stand-in Earns Masters Invitation












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


GRAEME MCDOWELL SURGED BACK into the world’s top 50 and secured an early Masters invitation when he finished a stroke behind Jim Furyk in the $5.75 million Chevron World Challenge. Standing in for absent host Tiger Woods, McDowell needed to hole his second shot at Sherwood’s 18th to tie with Furyk, who posted a final round 67 to set the 13-under par target.

The Ulsterman failed by six feet but certainly gave Furyk a fright as he rifled his approach at the flag and eventually tapped in for a closing birdie and a round of 70.

With world ranking points on offer for the first time, McDowell moved from 55th to 38th and can start booking his hotel accommodation in Augusta. (Rory McIlroy, incidentally, slipped out of the top 10 to 11th with Padraig Harrington remaining fifth.)

No, McDowell wasn’t too disappointed to step in for an under-siege Woods at the last minute.

“It was such a bonus to get in here, and obviously the circumstances, we all know why,” McDowell said. “You know, it was a bit of a blow for the event, but like I said, I feel very fortunate to be here, and to play as well as I have been playing.

“This year has been a funny year for me. I just feel like I started to play good the last few months, and I was running out of tournaments really, and it was nice to add another great tournament like this on the schedule and to play as well as I did, very satisfying. And the boost up the world rankings is obviously just huge for me really.

“It’s been a frustrating year. I’ve got nothing out of all the work I’ve put in, and in a funny way this kind of puts a bit of a shine on it and gives me a little something back for all my hard work this year.” 

Related:
Graeme McDowell Web site
McDowell racks up style points
2010 Masters field (as of 11/16/09)

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

Sunday, December 6

Aussie Double: Adam Scott and Robert Allenby Win

IT WAS A GOOD week for Australian golf. Adam Scott won the Australian Open at New South Wales Golf Club, his first win on his native soil. Scott’s 15-under par total  gave him a five-stroke victory over fellow countryman Stuart Appleby.

Scott must feel a tremendous sense of relief after such a discouraging season on the fairways that at times has included heavy criticism by the media.

“I’ve worked really hard even though I’ve played terrible all year. But it pays off. You’ve got to stick with it,” Scott was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “This is going to be very sweet and something I will treasure for the rest of my career.”

Greg Norman, who was widely criticized for picking Scott to play on Norman’s Presidents Cup team, presented the trophy. Both men must have been beaming.

Appleby fans must also be happy to see their man contend after his plummet to No. 137 on the PGA Tour money list. He and Scott can take some positive vibes into the 2010 season.

Meanwhile, in Sun City, South Africa, Robert Allenby won the Nedback Challenge by beating Henrik Stenson on the third playoff hole. Allenby has been playing solid golf in recent weeks, sharing the 36-hole lead at the Castello Masters in October and the first-round lead at the Dubai World Championship in November. It was his first win in four years.

Based on what I’ve read, many Aussies were annoyed that Allenby, a man known for his feistiness and contentious comments, wasn’t playing in the Australian Open. That’s understandable, but they still might take national pride in his triumph in Sun City. Two tournaments on two continents with two Australian winners. That’s good stuff for the Land of Oz.

−The Armchair Golfer 

(Image: The Gordons/Flickr)

Saturday, December 5

How Does Winter Affect Your Golf Game?












THE FIRST SNOW FELL in our mountains early this morning. It snowed all day, a wet snow that’s not ideal for sledding but makes a dangerous snowball. Although winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21, snowfall and temperatures dipping into the 20s make me feel as if winter has arrived. It also signals the end of golf for some.

I saw a poll at PGA.com that asks how the winter months affect readers’ golf game. I took the poll, but I was more interested in the results (so far):

39% Golf is year round for me, there is no off-season
22% I will read articles online, in books and magazines
15% I will travel somewhere that I can play
13% I will find some place that is open outside, even if I hit balls into the snow
11% I will take lessons at an indoor facility

The truth is, winter will not affect my golf game at all. I haven’t played a round of golf or even hit a ball since July. I’ve been hampered by a strained left shoulder. Nothing too serious, but it’s kept me off the golf course.

My “Armchair Golfer” moniker is well earned. 

Winter Golf in Seattle

There was a time when I was an avid winter golfer. It was years ago when I lived in Seattle. I played with a golf buddy named Russ who was a former college golfer at the University of Washington. Russ hit a nice ball. His college golf days included tournament rounds with players such as Fred Couples and Corey Pavin.

For a couple of years, Russ and I were members of a small private club south of Seattle. Our rule of thumb for winter rounds: If it was 40 degrees or above, we teed it up. If it rained, we played. (It always rains in Seattle.) We put on our rain suits and golf boots. We slogged through nine holes after work and 18 on Saturdays. We tried to keep our golf gear from getting completely soaked. (We never succeeded.) We always walked. On weekends, we ate lunch in the clubhouse and watched sports.

The days weren’t all that pretty, the course was often a bog, and the ball didn’t go very far in the cold and wet. Still, I loved it. I never regretted being on the golf course on those gray winter days. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Jeff Cushner/Flickr)

Friday, December 4

Jesper Parnevik and Frank Sinatra


















I WAS THINKING of Jesper Parnevik, who popped up this week with some harsh words for You Know Who. I ran across a set of photos of Jesper at the Traveler’s Championship at TPC River Highlands (one of which I included above).

When others zig, Jesper zags. That includes attire. The black and white—but especially the little hat—made me think of Frank Sinatra. Hmm, Sinatra. That might just be the right way to end a long, disturbing week in golf.

So, I invite you to sit back, relax and listen to “How Little We Know” by Ol’ Blue Eyes. It can’t hurt. Promise.



−The Armchair Golfer


(Image: R Glasson/Flickr)

Thursday, December 3

Scottish Golfer Wins ‘THE SURE THING’ Drawing

CONGRATULATIONS TO BRUCE ROBERTSON, winner of my free drawing for THE SURE THING: The Making and Unmaking of Golf Phenom Michelle Wie.

“This is a great surprise,” Bruce said in an email.

Bruce is a test engineering manager who works in Glasgow, Scotland, and lives nearby. He is married and has two sons.

“They have taken all my time to keep them involved in their pursuits, leaving me no time to concentrate on golf,” said the 21-handicapper. “A weak excuse but I am sticking to it.”

Bruce is a member of Torrance House in East Kilbride. “I am part of a group of around 20 players who are out on the course all year on a Sunday morning at 8 sharp come rain or shine. They are a great bunch of guys ranging in ages from the late 30s to mid 80s with all levels of ability.”

Bruce is also part of a professional group of 20 engineers that plays for the Auld Alliance Trophy. The annual golf event alternates between Scotland and France. This year the competition was contested on Scottish soil at Crail, Kingsbarn and St. Andrews.

“It is a mixture of the finest golf and malt whiskey,” he said, “so always a great time.”

Thanks to all who entered this book drawing. There will be future drawings, so keep coming back and entering. 

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, December 2

Tuesday, December 1

South Australian Course Plays Even Better With Greens
















SOMETIMES THE SIGN says it all. Strathalbyn Golf Club is a 9-hole course on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. It sounds like the kind of quirky course I would enjoy playing with my mates.

“This is a great place for anyone of any ability,” notes one of the user reviews at iseekgolf.com. “A fantastic place to learn the game without fear of judgment or of striking nearby houses.”

Perfect.

There’s also this: “Interesting use of garden gnomes as tee markers give this course a cheekiness found nowhere else I have seen.”

Very cool. (I wonder if the garden gnomes warn you if you’re outside of them so you won’t incur a two-stroke penalty.)

There is a con: “Creeks are deep, and sometimes it’s better to cut your losses.” Indeed. 

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Mundoo/Flickr)