Friday, September 30

Dave Hill, 1937-2011

DAVE HILL, A 13-TIME PGA Tour winner who died this week at the age of 74, was called the Don Rickles of the golf tour by Sports Illustrated because of his outspokenness and derogatory comments. A solid performer who won the Vardon Trophy in 1969 and played on three U.S. Ryder Cup teams, Hill was a frequent tour leader in two categories: fines and suspensions.

The most famous instance was in 1970 when the U.S. Open was played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. Hill finished second to England’s Tony Jacklin, who cruised to a seven-shot victory.

Did Hill like the course? Maybe they shouldn’t have asked. All those pros who recently criticized Cog Hill during the BMW Championship have nothing on golf’s Don Rickles.

When asked what he thought of the course, Hill said, “I’m still looking for it.” When asked what Hazeltine needed, he said it only lacked “80 acres of corn and a few cows. They ruined a good farm when they built this course.”

Hill also said that famed course architect Robert Trent Jones had the blueprints upside down when he built Hazeltine. If Hill had won the U.S. Open, he reportedly planned to ride a tractor on the golf course, trophy in hand. He was fined $150 by commissioner Joe Dey for “criticism that tends to ridicule and demean the club.”

With Nick Seitz, Hill wrote his book Teed Off in the late 1970s. He won six times on the Champions Tour and later praised Hazeltine after its 1990 redesign in advance of the 1991 U.S. Open won by Payne Stewart.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, September 29

2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE SHRINERS HOSPITALS FOR CHILDREN OPEN is underway at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada. With the first round still in progress, Nathan Green is the clubhouse leader after a 7-under 64.


Purse: $4.4 million
Winner’s share: $774,000
Defending champion: Jonathan Byrd

2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Field
Course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tour report
Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open website


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is on Golf Channel.

Thu, 9/29:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

Fri, 9/30:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

Sat, 10/1:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

Sun, 10/2:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times


−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, September 28

Last Chance for 2012 Ryder Cup Tickets Drawing





















IT’S TIME TO BE THINKING about the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club near Chicago—if you want tickets. The below email just landed in my inbox. I’m passing it along and invite you to click the below link to apply for Ryder Cup tickets. THE DEADLINE IS THIS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3O. Get moving!
Dear Neil,

The 2012 Ryder Cup will be one of the hottest and most sought after tickets in sports. And today, right now, you can register in the Official Random Draw for tickets to this prestigious event.

Simply click on the link below to complete a Random Draw Ticket Application to the most exclusive and riveting event in all of golf. And don’t forget to forward this email to all interested friends and family [only one registration per email address].

CLICK HERE TO ENTER RANDOM DRAW

The Official 2012 Ryder Cup Random Draw will continue through Friday, September 30, 2011, and you will be notified of your standing during October. Should you have any questions, please contact us at 1-800-PGA-Golf.

We wish you the best of luck and hope to see you there.

The 2012 Ryder Cup Team and Medinah Country Club
This is doable. I entered the drawing in 2007 and received tickets for the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Louisville. Good luck!

Ryder Cup Team USA on Facebook

Ryder Cup Team USA on Twitter

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, September 27

David Toms Credits Grandparents for Good Decisions

David Toms didn’t want to let his grandparents down.
2011 PAYNE STEWART AWARD WINNER David Toms was well aware of good decisions and bad decisions as a teenager growing up in Bossier City, Louisiana. Toms made mostly good ones, thanks in large part to his grandparents who helped raise him.

“(My grandparents) were the ones I thought about before I made any decision,” Toms told his hometown newspaper last week. “I didn’t want to let them down. That carried over to my adult life.”

One regret for Toms in receiving the annual award given to players who uphold the game’s traditions of charitable support and professionalism was that his grandfather, Toms’s “biggest influence,” couldn’t be at the Tour Championship for the award ceremony. Tom Toms died last December at the age of 88.

“This honor is at the top of the list for my career,” Toms said. “I can’t really compare it to anything else.”

Toms has banked $37 million on the PGA Tour in a 19-year pro career that includes 13 tour titles, including the 2001 PGA Championship. But, through his foundation (David Toms Foundation), he has also given back by helping at-risk and disadvantaged kids, focusing on character, self-esteem and career opportunities. In addition, his foundation has helped victims of Hurricane Katrina. Last year the Golf Coaches Association of America created the David Toms Award, an annual award given to a men’s collegiate golfer who overcomes adversity and achieves excellence.

Toms isn’t the first Shreveport resident to receive the Payne Stewart Award. Hal Sutton won it in 2007. Other winners include Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tom Watson.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Monday, September 26

We Understand. Bill Haas Won the FedEx Cup



BILL HAAS BOGEYED THE 18TH on Sunday and watched as Hunter Mahan made a scrappy par on the final hole to force a winner-take-all sudden-death playoff. That is, the man who prevailed in the fading light at East Lake would go home with both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, a $11.44 million jackpot.

A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, the talented Haas has had trouble finishing tournaments. His playoff record going into Sunday’s showdown with Mahan was 0-2. After getting to 10 under for the tournament and 4 under on his round with birdies at 13 and 15, Haas wobbled home with bogeys on two of the last three holes. He was nervous, and admitted it to NBC’s Jimmy Roberts. Who could blame him?

Then Haas did his best impression of Tiger Woods (when Tiger Woods was still Tiger Woods). He made two of the best up-and-downs you’ll ever see—on back-to-back playoff holes.

The lake shot beside the 17th green has been well chronicled. I figured Haas would get the ball up on the green 10 or 15 feet by the hole and have to sink a par-saver. Obviously, he did much much better than that.

But forget the lake shot for a second because there’s no lake shot without the all-world par at the long par-3 18th, where Haas fouled off another 4-iron down the right-field line. The above video shows what happened next—a delicate pitch and a sublime putt that rolled slowly on a left-to-right arc and fell into the heart of the cup. That putt was exquisite.

Then came the lake-hole magic and another gutty up and down from 50 feet on the playoff’s second visit to the 18th. Somehow Haas had won despite some swings he’d like to have back. To his credit, Mahan hung in there and dropped a few clutch putts to give himself a chance.

It was great stuff.

The fact that Haas apparently didn’t know he’d won the FedEx Cup until the trophy presentation made it even better. Yep.

“I saw Tim Finchem,” Haas told reporters. “I said, ‘I didn’t know I had won this [FedEx Cup trophy],’ and he was like, ‘Congratulations, you won both.’ That’s what he said, both are for you.”

Can you imagine hearing “you won both”—and not having to wake up?

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, September 24

Grab a Rake: Bunker Etiquette Basics




ONE OF THE KEYS to a good golf experience is to be aware of where you and your playing partners are on the golf course and to understand particular situations. Bunkers, unfortunately, come into play a lot for most golfers. And while getting in, out of and raking the sand may seem pretty simple, there’s a right way and wrong way to do it. The above video demonstrates.

Do you have any bunker-etiquette tips or tricks?

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, September 23

Dustin Johnson to Make Debut at Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Dustin Johnson
ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND – Top American golfer Dustin Johnson is to make his first appearance in next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews. Johnson, 27, showed how much he enjoys playing links courses earlier this year when he finished runner-up in the Open Championship to Darren Clarke at Royal St.George’s.

One of the longest drivers on the US PGA Tour, regularly knocking his tee shots 350 yards, Johnson is currently No 6 in the world rankings and is fresh from victory last month in the The Barclays in New Jersey, his fifth Tour victory. Johnson has had an excellent year in the major championships. As well as finishing second in The Open, he was eighth in the US Open and fifth in the US PGA.

Also in the field are three of this year’s major champions—Darren Clarke, who won an emotional Open Championship at the age of 42 at Royal St George’s in July, his fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, runaway winner of the US Open at Congressional a month earlier, and US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, the latest in a long line of South African major winners to take part in the event.

In one of the strongest line-ups in the history of the Championship, also playing will be current world No 1 and No 2, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, and major championship winners Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Todd Hamilton, Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, Sandy Lyle, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen.

Defending champion Martin Kaymer, who last year also won the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and headed the European Tour money list, will be bidding to become the first golfer to win back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Links titles.

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses—the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links. The Championship this year takes place from September 29 to October 2.

With a prize fund of US$5 million, the championship incorporates two separate competitions—an individual professional tournament for the world’s leading golfers and a team event in which the professionals are paired with some of the most celebrated amateur golfers.

Entrance to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship will be free at all three courses on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A ticket price of £15 (concessionary £10 ) will be charged for the final day’s play over the Old Course on Sunday, October 2. Entry for under 16s and students is free. Tickets are available through the ticket hotline on 0870 010 9021 or at the entrance gates.

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Thursday, September 22

2011 Tour Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP, the concluding event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, is underway at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. With the first round still in progress, PGA champion Keegan Bradley leads after a 6-under 64.

Jim Furyk defends in Atlanta.
Purse: $8 million
Winner’s share: $1.35 million
Defending champion: Jim Furyk

2011 Tour Championship Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tour report
FedEx Cup guidebook


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Tour Championship is on Golf Channel
and NBC.

Thu, Sept 22
1-6 p.m. ET (GOLF)

Fri, Sept 23
1-6 p.m. ET (GOLF)

Sat, Sept 24
1-2 p.m. ET (GOLF) & 2-6 p.m. (NBC)

Sun, Sept 25
12-1:30 p.m. ET (GOLF) & 1:30-6 p.m. (NBC)

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Wednesday, September 21

Michelle Wie Defends Mixing Books and Birdies

Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission. 

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


MICHELLE WIE HAS HIT BACK at European vice-captain Annika Sorenstam again and insisted that hitting the books has made her all grown up. Ten-time major winner Sorenstam believes the big hitting Hawaiian has made a mistake by mixing the tour with her degree at Stanford University and isn’t “mentally strong enough to finish at the top.”

Michelle Wie is a proud Stanford student.
But as she prepares to lead the US in Solheim Cup battle with Europe at Killeen Castle this week, Wie reckons that mixing books and birdies was just what she needed to make up for a lost childhood.

Set to graduate next March, Wie said: “I think that going to college is a very good decision for me. I think it’s a very personal decision. I didn’t have the normal childhood, per se, growing up in the spotlight.

“Obviously, I was very connected at the hip with my parents, going to every tournament and spending a lot of time together.

“I think for me going to college was a step for me to grow up, for me to go out there in the real world and kind of live out by myself and get an education. I’ve never felt so proud when I got that acceptance letter for me to go. It was a very personal decision. I don’t regret it at all.”

Wie turned professional with Tiger Woods-style hype just before her 16th birthday, signing contracts with Nike and Sony believed to be worth over $12m. But she has won just twice on the LPGA Tour since and Sorenstam reckons she’s got her priorities all wrong and failed to live up to the fanfare.

Sorenstam said: “I think really her focus, in my opinion, should be more on the golf. She’s very distracted with school, doesn’t really play as much full time as I thought she would. I think she needs to come out here and compete more regularly.”

Wie insists her studies make her work even harder on her game and she’s hoping to prove it by grabbing her second Solheim Cup win and America’s fourth in a row. She won three and half points out of four on her debut in 2009 but insisted: “I feel like a rookie. I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen this week.”

The Americans are odds on favourites with the bookies but US veteran Angela Stanford is claiming that they’re the underdogs.

Stanford said: “This is my fourth time and this is the most consistent European team I have faced from top to bottom. They’re solid, and they’re at home.”

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

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, September 20

Justin Rose Has ‘Stiff Feet’

BMW CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER JUSTIN ROSE may have a smooth golf swing, but he also has “stiff feet,” reported The Tour Van.

adiStreet: Justin Rose’s new golf shoe
So, what the heck does that mean?

“The English pro doesn’t have natural flexion in his feet,” wrote The Tour Van’s Jennifer Gardner, “and, as a result, he often has pain in his feet from the golf swing. He trains barefoot or in barefoot-style shoes.”

Rose, who until the BMW Championship wore Adidas’ adiPure footwear, debuted a new shoe called the adiStreet. The shoe is spikeless (rubber cleats) and has the flexibility of a running shoe. It will be in retail stores on November 1. I bet adidas couldn’t be happier about Rose’s well-timed win.

Rose’s victory at Cog Hill moves him into third in the FedEx Cup Standings heading into this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta. He is now ranked 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

And Justin has some cool new kicks. If the shoe fits … um, you know the rest.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, September 19

Lexi Thompson: To Be 16 and an LPGA Winner

Lexi Thompson (CobraGolf.com)



LEXI THOMPSON WON THE NAVISTAR LPGA Classic on Sunday at the age of 16 years, seven months and eight days, making her the youngest winner in the 61-year history of the LPGA Tour. Marlene Hagge owned the record until Thompson tapped in to complete 72 holes at 17-under par for a five-shot victory. Hagge won the 1952 Sarasota Open (an 18-hole event) when she was 18.

Thompson is obviously an incredible talent who can help lift the LPGA as it competes for sponsor dollars and fan attention. But as a father with a daughter who turns 16 in a few weeks, it was refreshing for me to read the transcript of a golf prodigy who also happens to sound like a pretty normal teenager.

Following are excerpts from Lexi’s post-round press conference.

Q. If it’s not too private, what did you tell your dad [Lexi’s dad is her caddie] or what did your dad tell you after you won?
LEXI THOMPSON: He just said to me, he just said that I was amazing. He said, I can’t believe you just did that. (Laughing.) It was really a great feeling. When I was on my second shot on 18, he was like, You know, I’m probably going to cry so I’m not going to walk up with you. I’m keeping my sunglasses on. I’m like, All right dad. I’m going to cry, too. We can just cry together. But it was awesome.

Q. What does a 16-year-old do with $195,000?
LEXI THOMPSON: I have no idea. (Laughter.) I mean, I already have a car, so I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. Just going to have fun and relax and hang out with my family and celebrate.

Q. Who drives tomorrow, you or your dad, and how good of a driver are you?
LEXI THOMPSON: I’m not driving. My dad is driving. I have my comforter in the back and my pillow. I am laying down. I pretty much bring stuff for like half the way on the way up here, watch movies.

Q. I don’t know how far in the future it is, but do you want to going to college and be a pro golfer? Have you thought that far ahead, or do you want to leave the academics for later?
LEXI THOMPSON: I haven’t really thought about it that much. I’m still in high school. One more year left, so I’m definitely finishing high school. For college I haven’t even thought of it. It’s always there, so I can definitely always do the courses.

Q. Is there anything you would say publically to your dad right now?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I love him, of course. Of course if it wasn’t without him, I would definitely not be here. Having him on the bag and going through that experience with him, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, September 17

VIDEO: Justin Rose Has a Sweet Golf Swing




I TALKED TO MY BROTHER-IN-LAW today about his recent golf trip to Ireland. But before we got on that subject, he said how much he admired the golf swing of Justin Rose, who is the 54-hole leader at the BMW Championship. Rose finished three rounds at 13 under par and has a four-shot cushion on John Senden.

I agreed with my brother-in-law and retrieved the above video of Rose to have a look. Two things stand out for me with the full-speed swing (view from behind). One, I love Rose’s address. Everything is so square. I also like his posture.

As for the slow-motion view of the swing, Rose’s position at the top is near perfect. And nothing looks forced. He releases the club with ease. (At least he makes it look easy.) Rose works with swing coach Sean Foley, the man under so much scrutiny because of his association with Tiger Woods.

Whose swing (or swings) on any of the pro tours do you fancy?

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, September 16

Miniature Golf Innovator Dies in Scranton

Ralph Lomma revolutionized miniature golf.
DID YOU KNOW THAT MINIATURE GOLF has been around since the early 20th century? I didn’t.

But it didn’t become the game it is today until Ralph J. Lomma came along. Lomma, who died at a hospice in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on September 12, put the windmills, paddle wheels, blinking traffic lights, castles, clown-faced finishing holes that swallowed colored golf balls and other zaniness into the game.

Lomma decided mini-golf was too easy and a bit boring after playing a popular course in New Jersey with his brother Alphonse. The Lomma brothers opened their first miniature golf course in Scranton in 1955. They succeeded at tricking up the game and it caught on in a big way. The rest was history.

“Ralph Lomma was a shrewd businessman,” mini-golf historian Susan Chandler told The Washington Post. “He and his brother Al took what might have been a passing craze … and helped establish miniature golf as a fixture in American recreational life.”

Within a few years, the Lommas began building prefabricated courses that were easy to assemble and maintain. Ralph called them “money machines” and said the game was recession-proof, cheaper than a movie ticket, a fun-filled family activity. Starting in a basement, the business grew into a company that shipped nearly 6,000 courses to 37 countries. It even had its own tractor-trailer fleet.

Lomma’s courses popped up in far-flung places such as Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, on top of a Holiday Inn in China, and on cruise ships and military bases. Before becoming the king of miniature golf, Lomma was in the skillet business and sold ornaments. He was 87.

−The Armchair Golfer

Visor tip: Press Tent Blog

(Photo credit: marbla123, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Thursday, September 15

2011 BMW Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 BMW CHAMPIONSHIP, the third event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, is underway at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Illinois.

Purse: $8 million
Winner’s share: $1.35 million
Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (at right)

2011 BMW Championship Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tour report
FedEx Cup guidebook


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 BMW Championship is on Golf Channel

and NBC.

Thu, Sept. 15
3-6 p.m. (GOLF)

Fri, Sept. 16

3-6 p.m. (GOLF)

Sat, Sept. 17
10 a.m.-12 p.m. (GOLF) & 12-3:30 p.m. (NBC)

Sun, Sept. 18

12-2 p.m. (GOLF) & 2-6 p.m. (NBC)

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Wednesday, September 14

BMW Championship Moved to Wrigley Field




IN A LAST-MINUTE SURPRISE that caught virtually every player off guard except Dustin Johnson, the BMW Championship, the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, has moved from Cog Hill Golf & Country Club to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. (See video.)

Despite being ranked 89th in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the United States, Cog Hill’s Dubsdread course has been heavily criticized by PGA Tour players since a $5 million renovation overseen by famed course architect Rees Jones. Even the mild-mannered Steve Stricker was critical in recent comments made to the Daily Herald.

“The redo is not conducive to our tournament there,” Stricker said. “It was a little severe. It’s playable, but a little tricked up and goofy in spots. I feel real bad for the Jemsek family (owners of the course). They stuck a lot of money into (the renovation), and they’re great people. I liked it before, but the players just don’t like it (now). The redo isn’t good. It’s sad for the Jemsek family.”

The rash of criticism may explain the BMW Championship’s 11th hour move to Wrigley Field, where Dustin Johnson was seen practicing earlier this week. A small ball park, Wrigley will surely negate Johnson’s distance advantage, although he appeared upbeat as he belted wedges toward a giant target in left field.

In another shocker, “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks, will tee it up in the tournament despite having zero FedEx Cup points. Banks practiced alongside Johnson, who complimented the Hall of Fame shortstop on his golf swing.

No word on whether the Chicago Cubs’ weekend series with the Houston Astros will open at Cog Hill.

−The Armchair Golfer

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Tuesday, September 13

Sarazen Wanted 8-Inch Cup Long Before Nicklaus

L to R: Johnny Farrell, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen.
JACK NICKLAUS WAS RECENTLY IN the news for fiddling with the size of the golf hole. Jack deviated from the standard 4¼ inches in diameter, nearly doubling the size of the cup to 8 inches at his Muirfield Village Golf Club. If that weren’t enough, the winner of 18 professional majors held 12-hole tournaments during Labor Day weekend. Players were required to finish their rounds in 2½ hours or be penalized for slow play.

Jack said he’s thinking in non-traditional ways about an ancient game that’s losing players in droves. Naturally, like a lot of people, Nicklaus is concerned and looking for new answers.

But, as I discovered yesterday by accident, the Golden Bear isn’t the first Hall of Famer to look at that elusive golf hole and decide that maybe it needs to be larger. Seven-time major winner Gene Sarazen apparently promoted the idea in the first half of the 20th century, according to legendary golf scribe Hebert Warren Wind.

In The Story of American Golf, Wind wrote:
He [Sarazen] made winning golf do for him what a smash hit does for an actor or a specialized process does for a shoe manufacturer. He cashed in when his irons were hot, and adroitly kept himself a leader in the eyes of the public even in the periods when he was not winning. Gene had an understanding of publicity superior to that of any of his colleagues. There was always some innovation in the Sarazen-model clubs—the reminder-grip, the sand-iron, the 4-wood that he popularized with his double-eagle [at the 1935 Masters]. He knew the value of dissenting. He once plumped for an 8-inch cup; he criticized the selection of the Ridgewood course for the 1935 Ryder Cup; he had qualifying clauses whenever he discussed the heroes of the day.
Indeed, Sarazen was an innovator and promoter. He could also play. Nicknamed “The Squire,” Sarazen is one of only five men to win all four major championships (The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship). The other four are Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Tiger Woods.

As Wind also wrote, after Sarazen won his first U.S. Open at Skokie Country Club in suburban Chicago, he summed up his golf ability this way: “All men are created free and equal, and I am one shot better than the rest.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, September 12

World Golf Hall of Fame Ballots for Class of 2012

ACTIVE TOUR PLAYERS PHIL MICKELSON, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Mark O’Meara and Fuzzy Zoeller have been placed on the PGA Tour Ballot for consideration as the Class of 2012 of the World Golf Hall of Fame. A complete listing of players on the PGA Tour and International ballots is below.

Hall of Fame members, golf journalists, golf historians and dignitaries will cast their votes between now and October. Inductees will be announced before the end of the year. The World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held in May on the Monday before the Players Championship.

PGA Tour Ballot
Miller Barber
Fred Couples
Jim Furyk
Don January
Tony Lema
Davis Love III
Harold (Jug) McSpaden
Phil Mickelson
Mark O’Meara
Loren Roberts
Macdonald Smith
Dave Stockton
Ken Venturi
Fuzzy Zoeller

International Ballot
Peter Alliss
Darren Clarke
Max Faulkner
Retief Goosen
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Sandy Lyle
Graham Marsh
Colin Montgomerie
Norman Von Nida
Ian Woosnam

Mickelson is in. That’s certain. Who else should be voted in? Who shouldn’t?

Let’s face it, we’re in an era during which there are few multiple majors winners. Mickelson aside, O’Meara has two, as does Lyle. Whether now or later, those two should enter the Hall. Goosen, too, for that matter, with his two U.S. Opens, 14 European Tour wins and seven PGA Tour titles. (Note: Two of Goosen’s victories are counted on both tours.) And there’s Zoeller with two majors but only 10 PGA Tour victories. Tough call.

There are a bunch of one-major guys with 15 or so tour wins. What do you do with them?

Then you have Monty: 31 European Tour wins and an outstanding Ryder Cup record. But the Scot has zero majors and no PGA Tour wins. (Woosnam has 29 European Tour wins and a Masters.)

My hunch is that the bar for Hall entry will continue to be lowered.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, September 10

Top 10 Tigerisms

WE’VE ALL HEARD THEM. And last month Golf Digest published them in a piece called “Our Favorite Tigerisms.” I’ve selected my favorites from Golf Digest’s favorites and turned them into a Top 10 list a la David Letterman.

Tiger Woods
10. “Stevie” (the ex-caddie).

9. “Getting stuck” (the swing flaw).

8. “Steiny” (the agent).

7. “My swing was more of a wipey swing, just kind of wiping it out there, so I wasn’t getting a full transfer of energy, so now I’m swinging easier.”

6. “It all depends on the pins.”

5. “I figure there is no point in going to a tournament if you don’t think you can win.”

4. “It’s right there in front of you.”

3. “#&!?@%!!!”

2. “It’s all part of the process.”

1. “It is what it is.”

Honorable Mention

“My start lines were good. They were nice and tight.”
“I’m hitting it so much more flush.”
“If I can’t control my ‘traj’ I can’t hit the ball the right distance.”
“Marko” (the friend).
“I hit a lot of beautiful putts.”

Did we miss any?

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons License)

Friday, September 9

Kentucky High School Girl Shoots 61—Twice

Lydia Gumm as a freshman
(Courtesy of CoachesAid.com)
WHILE HER TEAMMATES ARE POSTING scores in the 90s, Lydia Gumm, a junior at North Hardin High School in Radcliff, Kentucky, is playing a different brand of golf. A little more than a week ago Gumm fired a 61 on the par-70 Lakewood Country Club to win the Kentucky Invitational Tournament.

It was Gumm’s sixth straight victory in the event. I think they should go ahead and give her the trophy for next year’s invitational, don’t you?

With birdies at 2, 3, 4 and 5, Gumm carded a 32 on the opening nine. She was just getting warmed up. The prep golf star birdied six of her final seven holes, sinking a seven-footer on the final green for a 29. She thought it was pretty cool.

“I’ve always wanted to do that [shoot in the 20s],” Gumm told The News-Enterprise. “It was definitely a special day. It’s a great feeling.”

Um, the 61 wasn’t a fluke. She shot the same score last year (her fifth consecutive Kentucky Invitational title).

“I don’t know what it is about that course,” she said, “but I love playing on that course and in that tournament.”

I guess.

A southpaw, Gumm has appeared in Sports Illustrated (Faces in the Crowd) and Golfweek. She was named Kentucky’s Miss Golf at the age of 12, the youngest athlete to receive the honor. Her father, Greg Gumm, is her high school golf coach and a Kentucky Hall of Fame baseball coach.

About that latest 61—it included a missed two-foot birdie putt and a three-putt green. Lydia Gumm could go even lower.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, September 8

The Specs on Phil Mickelson’s New Belly Putter

Phil Mickelson’s latest addition (Courtesy of Odyssey)
MAYBE YOU HEARD. PHIL MICKELSON slipped a belly putter into his Callaway golf bag last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship. I’m being facetious. Of course you heard. The belly putter is all the rage. It’s dominating golf news.

So, in case you’re curious, here’s the dope on Phil’s new magic wand, as reported by Hot List 365, a golf equipment blog at GolfDigest.com:
According to Odyssey, Mickelson’s belly putter is an Odyssey Sabertooth with a White Hot XG insert. The club is 45.5 inches long with a lie of 70 degrees. The putter also was custom weighted to put more weight behind the face. Lefty worked with Austie Rollinson, Odyssey's principal designer, on the putter.
The plan was to build Phil a belly putter like the one used by PGA champion Keegan Bradley, a Mickelson pal and practice partner. But Rollinson made some tweaks after he and Lefty met recently at the Odyssey Putting Lab in Carlsbad, California. The Mickelson version is a half-inch shorter and two degrees more upright than Bradley’s.

Phil had mixed results with it last week outside of Boston, finishing in a tie for 10th. His 9-under total included a 63 in the third round.

Do you think the switch will help Lefty putt better and win more?

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, September 7

9/11 Tribute at Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Includes Free Admission

Yani Tseng
TO MARK THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY of 9/11, all active and retired service personnel (along with family members) and all fire, police and emergency employees will be admitted free to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship during the entire week of the LPGA tournament. The event is held at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas.

On Sunday, September 11, the tournament’s final day, American flags will serve as pin flags on all 18 greens. Representatives from the four military branches and fire and police personnel in full uniform will serve as pin flag bearers. Hosted by U.S. Representative and military veteran Steve Womack, a brief 9/11 program will be conducted on the 18th green at the conclusion of play.

This year’s championship will have its best-ever field, with 47 of the top 50 players in the Rolex Rankings and the top 10 players on the LPGA money list competing in the event. Since the tournament’s inception in 2007, the purse has risen from $1.25 million to $2 million, and is now the highest non-major U.S. purse on the LPGA Tour.

World No. 1 Yani Tseng will defend her title. Last year Tseng fired 13 under (67-68-65) to beat Michelle Wie by a shot. Tseng has four wins this season, including two majors.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons License)

Tuesday, September 6

Bjorn Again—Ryder Cup Captaincy Ahead?

Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission. 

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Courtesy of CallwayGolf.com
PAUL MCGINLEY FANS WILL BE appalled but Thomas Bjorn must be regarded as a likely candidate to skipper Europe when the Ryder Cup is played at Gleneagles in 2014. Judging by the blistering 62 he shot to win the Omega European Masters and jump to the top of the 2012 Ryder Cup qualifying table, the 40-year old Dane is playing well enough to make the 2014 team as a player. After all, his four-shot triumph over Martin Kaymer was his second win in a row and his third of the year.

Add to that the fact that he finished fourth in the Open and he fits the identikit picture of a Ryder Cup captain that McGinley and others declared as the standard when Colin Montgomerie was given the role two years ago.

Bjorn is very much a respected, current player but along with Darren Clarke, he is also the biggest threat to McGinley’s hopes of winning the ‘14 captaincy. The list of those likely to succeed Jose Maria Olazabal is not massively long but while it was always assumed that Clarke or Bjorn would do the job in the US in 2016, leaving 2014 to McGinley, that is far from clear cut with three years to go before the next home match.

One thing is sure, like Clarke and McGinley, Bjorn would have the respect of the young guns on tour, such as Rory McIlroy. The 22-year old opened with two birdies in Crans to top the leaderboard but then missed a series of chances on the greens and by the time he made back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th, Bjorn was out of sight.

“I’ve really gotten to know Thomas well over the years,” said McIlroy, who finished five behind in joint third after a 68.

“He was assistant at the Ryder Cup and when I played the Vivendi in 2009, he was the captain of the European team. To shoot a 62 is very impressive and I don’t think I could have done anything to beat that.”

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

Monday, September 5

The 4-Passenger, Street-Legal Luxury Golf Car

GARIA, A EUROPEAN MANUFACTURER OF LUXURY golf cars, has introduced a new model that seats four passengers. As shown at right, the Garia 2+2 comes with a rear seat and space for two more passengers.

“The Garia is essentially a very versatile vehicle that can be used for local transportation, golfing and daily errands,” said Anders Lynge, designer of the Garia. “It is also a great option as a utility vehicle for hotels and resorts.”

Garia 2+2 features include:

• Spacious carpeted 15 U.S. gallons
• 58 liter storage room under the seat
• Seat belts on rear seat
• Gas damper to keep seat bench in upright position when accessing the storage space under the seat
• Non-slip floor foot rest
• Additional storage space between the seats suitable for umbrellas, jackets, or other items

Seat belts!?! (See photo at left). Why? I guess because the Garia 2+2 has everything and it’s street legal. (It comes in street-legal and off-street versions.)

The Garia 2+2 also offers the same body and seat color choices as the other models (Garia Golf Car, Garia LSV and Garia Monaco). Other options include a refrigerator built into the dashboard.

Although it’s called a golf car, I have no idea where you put the golf clubs.

The street-legal Garia 2+2 starts at $29,000. Want to drive one?

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:
You Could Walk Or You Could Ride in This

(Photos: Courtesy of Garia)

Saturday, September 3

Free Golf for Military at Pinehurst on September 5


















(Photo: Pinehurst No. 8)

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Pinehurst Resort will host its third annual Military Appreciation Day on Monday, September 5, providing complimentary golf and special discounts to active members of the military and their spouses.

Golf will be offered on Pinehurst No. 8, with tee times running from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Active duty military also will receive a 50 percent discount on all spa services, a 20 percent discount off merchandise in the resort’s retail shops and a 15 percent discount at resort restaurants.

“With the sacrifices the military makes for all of us, we wanted to show Pinehurst’s appreciation,” said Chad Campbell, Pinehurst’s director of golf.

More than 700 active military members took part in the event’s first two years. Pinehurst anticipates this year’s total to surpass 1,000 participants.

Active duty military will need to show a military ID upon arrival, but are encouraged to make advance reservations. Tee times can be booked beginning September 1 by calling (910) 235-8760. Appointments for the spa can be made immediately by calling (910) 235-8320.

Friday, September 2

2011 Deutsche Bank Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 DEUTSCHE BANK CHAMPIONSHIP, the second event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, is underway at TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts. Troy Matteson has the early clubhouse lead after a first-round 65.


Purse: $8 million
Winner’s share: $1.35 million
Defending champion: Charley Hoffman (at right)

2011 Deutsche Bank Championship Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tour report
FedEx Cup guidebook


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Deutsche Bank Championship is on Golf Channel and NBC.

Fri, Sept 2
3-6 p.m. (GOLF)

Sat, Sept 3
3-6 p.m. (GOLF)

Sun, Sept 4
1-3 p.m. (GOLF) & 3-6 p.m. (NBC)

Mon, Sept 5
12-2 p.m. (GOLF) & 2-6 p.m. (NBC)

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: zzazazz, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Thursday, September 1

How I Caddied for Long Putter Pioneer Orville Moody

IF IT HADN’T BEEN ORVILLE MOODY, some other name player would have been the first to win regularly with the long putter. The 1969 U.S. Open champion, Moody put the broomstick in his bag after turning 50. He went on to win 11 times using the long putter on the senior circuit, including the 1989 U.S. Senior Open.

It was controversial. Other players didn’t like the long putter and tried to get it banned, Moody told me four years ago at the Baltimore Country Club. He was an unpopular pioneer. But for the first time in his life he could roll putts with consistency and confidence. An Army veteran, Moody soldiered on with the long stick.

I can tell you from firsthand experience that Orville was a character. He was funny and had more than a few golf tales. I enjoyed his company on a couple of occasions. Following is the story of how I caddied for Moody in 2007 at a Grand Champions event that preceded the Senior Players Championship.

***
“You want to ride with me? It will be easier to keep up.”

Sure, I said to Orville Moody.

I was at a Grand Champions event in Baltimore, the prelude to the Senior Players Championship. I had been on the golf legends circuit throughout the year, attending events in Savannah, Hickory (North Carolina) and then Baltimore.

I’d had unique access to many golf legends—players I watched or knew of while growing up. Thanks to my association with Jack Fleck, I ate in the players’ dining rooms, hung out in the locker rooms and shuttled back and forth to hotels where I rubbed elbows with several former tour pros. You can bet I heard plenty of golf stories, too.

‘Sarge’

Back to Moody, or “Sarge,” my companion for 18 holes at the Baltimore Country Club East Course, a rolling, old-style layout with sloping greens created by famed architect A.W. Tillinghast.

Nicknamed Sarge because of his Army days, Moody was the last local qualifier to win the U.S. Open, coming from virtually nowhere to claim the trophy in 1969 at Champions Golf Club in Houston. It was the only tour win for a sweet ball-striker who couldn’t putt.

When the Champions Tour (called the Senior Tour at that time) was cranking up in the mid 1980s, Sarge turned 50 and started winning tournaments in bunches, thanks, in large part, to his long putter, considered a novelty in those days. Moody is one of only four men who has won both the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open.

That weekend four years ago Sarge was partnered with Jack Fleck in a best-ball tournament that featured several legends—Jim Feree, Fred Hawkins, Gene Littler, Don January, Billy Casper, Bob Goalby, Dow Finsterwald, Doug Ford, Doug Sanders, Lee Elder and Billy Maxwell, to name most of them.

Caddie by Default

Many of the legends don’t hire caddies for these events, so as we rolled down the second fairway I realized I could caddie for Sarge. I would steer clear of yardages, club selection and reading greens. I’ve been around golf, but I’m not going to pretend to be a real caddie. Still, for 40 or so years Moody had been accustomed to handing his golf ball and clubs to somebody. In Baltimore, I was that somebody.

There was some chit-chat, mostly initiated by Orville. I was not going to yap at him or do anything to distract him from his work, which I could tell he took seriously, even if it was just a legends best-ball event for a quarter-million dollar purse.

How serious?

On the 8th hole Sarge removed his shoe and sock to have a go at a ball in a greenside pond. He slipped on the bank and almost fell in the drink. Then he slashed at the ball with his 60-degree wedge, splattering mud on his dark slacks and pale green shirt.

There I was on the green toweling off his muddy, grassy bare foot. It seemed like the right thing to do. (Orville’s lower back bothered him and I figured bending over to towel off and slip on his sock and shoe would be a problem.)

Sarge was a mess and a bit flustered, too. It was awkward. Yet my instinct was to help my player.

I enjoyed watching Moody’s shot preparation. I did, in fact, give him yardages off sprinkler heads, adding and subtracting based on the pin placements. Once Sarge pulled a club and got over the ball there was no hesitation. His compact swing produced low straight shots with the hint of a fade. His speed on the slick, sloping greens was good. Determining the correct lines was another matter.

After coming off the 18th hole, I thanked Moody for allowing me to ride along. “I’ll probably see you at the Legends in Savannah next April,” I told him.

I knew Sarge wasn’t thrilled about his play—especially on the back nine—but he said I made the day more enjoyable. I felt good about that.

Postscript: That was the last time I saw Orville Moody. After a massive stroke, he spent much of the following year in a nursing home. He died in August 2008.

−The Armchair Golfer