Monday, October 31

Halloween Costumes of LPGA Tour Players

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER WIN for Yani Tseng, her 11th worldwide title of the season. Tseng’s latest victory came at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China. Tseng closed with a 66 to win by seven shots. Sergio Garcia also won his second straight thanks to his one-stroke triumph over Miguel Angel Jimenez at the Andulacia Masters. And Rory McIlroy beat Anthony Kim in a sudden-death playoff to collect $2 million in first-prize money at the Shanghai Masters.

Now that we’ve covered all of that, let’s get to what’s really important today—Halloween costumes. Here’s what some lady professionals said they once wore (or didn’t wear) to go trick or treating.

Lincicome loves pumpkins.
Paula Creamer: California Raisin.

Natalie Gulbis: Genie. “My mom made the costume by hand. She hand stitched the puffy pants and tube top.”

Tiffany Joh: Village People. “In college, our team dressed up as the Village People. I was the Indian.”

Cindy LaCrosse: Dalmatian (inspired by 101 Dalmatians). “It was awesome.”

Brittany Lincicome: Big Pumpkin. (Because she loved pumpkins, of course. Who doesn’t?)

Paige Mackenzie: Football Player. She and her friend ran a play at every house.

Gerina Pillar: Puff the Magic Dragon. “I have a few first place ribbons underneath my belt in that costume.”

Beatriz Recari: None. “We don’t celebrate Halloween in Spain.” (But she did like to watch American Halloween movies.)

Karen Stupples: None, but her son is a Transformer this year.

Me? At a Halloween party on Friday night, I was the Green Hornet. My daughter was Kato. Others said we looked great.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:
Halloween Edition: Golf’s Spookiest Shots

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

Saturday, October 29

The Great Bobby Locke Putting




I FOUND THIS SHORT VIDEO of South African Bobby Locke putting. A three-time winner of the British Open, Locke is considered by many to be one of the greatest ever with the flatstick. Although he missed the medium-range putt shown in the above clip, you can observe the technique that holed so many putts: feet close together and a wristy pop stroke with no follow-through. Gary Player describes and demonstrates Locke’s method here.

I was reminded of Locke the other day when I received an email from a reader named Mike in response to my post titled 20 Greatest Putters of All Time. I ranked Locke No. 4. Mike mentioned Locke in reference to Ben Hogan.

Mike took exception to Hogan not making my top-20 list. (I did include Hogan as an honorable mention pick.) He said in his email that Locke called Hogan the greatest putter he ever saw. I can’t verify that, but I do agree with Mike that many people don’t give Hogan the credit he deserves because of his struggles on the greens late in his career.

In his prime, Hogan was a terrific putter who rarely three-putted and was adept at putting fast greens. As Mike asked, how do you win four U.S. Opens without being a great putter?

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, October 28

Concerto for Pitching Wedge and Bassoon

By Charles Prokop
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © Charles Prokop. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

MY MAJOR EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES in high school and college were band and orchestra. I was a fast, but gangly, receiver and would have been seriously broken when hit by the football players at my large Texas high school. (Think Friday Night Lights.) I had good friends on the golf team at that same school, but regular drubbings from them made it clear the golf team was not in the cards.

My family had a strong musical heritage. That’s my grandfather in the picture, decked out for his violin performances in the early 1900’s. My father played oboe, my mother played alto clarinet, and it was assumed that I would play something, too. I ended up playing bassoon.

I never became as good as I should have (golf, sandlot football, and daydreaming about girls demanded a lot of time that might have otherwise gone to practice), but I got to where I didn’t have to think much about what my body was doing as I played. I read the music or imagined the melody and translated it into sounds without thinking. It became automatic, like any well-learned physical skill should. In fact, too much thinking would ruin the music, as it got too mechanical and lost the flow. It would sound and feel clunky, even if the notes were right.

When it all felt right the sounds came out of the bassoon without any sense of the instrument being in between me and the music. It was like I thought the sounds, they somehow appeared, and I got lost in them.

The Music of the Game

It’s occurred to me that my golf swing is a lot like my bassoon playing used to be. With a lot of play and practice my swing becomes an overlearned physical skill. Too much thinking about my swing can wreck it. Too many swing thoughts, too much monitoring of muscle movements, and my swing becomes stiff and clunky. I may hit the right positions, but there’s no flow. The club feels unwieldy, and when I hit the ball I feel a noticeable bump.

But when I’m playing well I don’t think about how to execute; I just execute. I’ll plan the shot, just like I’d plan how to play, but when I swing it’s thoughtless. I don’t feel the club between my intentions and the ball. I just move my body and the ball goes. There’s no bump as I contact the ball. I’m immersed in the round, the feel of the course, the music of the game.

Jack Nicklaus said
that he’s played a lot of good rounds to “Jamaica Farewell,” and that it’s hard to play poorly to “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.” I generally play well when the right song is stuck in my mind, but I’ve never been very good at sticking the right song in there.

Maybe I’ve been approaching it from the wrong direction. Maybe it’s not just hearing the music. Making the music may be more important.

Charles Prokop is a clinical psychologist who writes about golf at fairwaywords.

Thursday, October 27

Luke Donald Named Player of ... Month

Short-game practice.
LUKE DONALD GOT SOME RECOGNITION for his stellar play—in October. This from PGA Tour headquarters:
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Luke Donald has been named the PGA TOUR Player of the Month for October.

Donald received the honor after turning in a clutch performance at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic to clinch the TOUR’s money title and the Arnold Palmer Trophy that goes with it.

The Englishman, who started the final round essentially knowing he needed to win to earn the money crown, made up a five-stroke deficit over the final 10 holes ...
It’s a start.

What Donald is more focused on and desirous of is player-of-the-year honors. He has a strong case. I can understand his disappointment about recent developments surrounding the vote. The World No. 1 golfer called the PGA Tour’s decision to delay 2011 Player of the Year ballots until after the WGC-HSBC Champions “sketchy at best.”

I said here my POY pick would be Keegan Bradley, but that was nearly two weeks before The Donald won the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic and PGA Tour money title.

Things look different now.

−The Armchair Golfer

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

Wednesday, October 26

A Look Back at Annika Sorenstam, 2012 Bob Jones Award Winner

ANNIKA SORENSTAM HAS BEEN SELECTED as the recipient of the 2012 Bob Jones Award, the USGA announced on Tuesday. The USGA’s highest honor, the award has been presented annually since 1955. Sorenstam, of course, is one of the all-time greats, a member of both the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame and World Golf Hall of Fame. She has served as an ambassador for various golf associations and bodies, including the USGA.

Following is a piece I published here not long after Annika retired from golf. The site was the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.

***
We all know about the 72 wins, the 10 majors and the $23 million in career earnings, a Hall of Fame career that may or may not be over. It all went exactly as planned by Annika Sorenstam, the undisputed queen of golf. Well, no, actually it didn’t.

Presented by equipment sponsor Callaway and looking relaxed in a pink pullover and black slacks, Annika sat on stage today at the PGA Merchandise Show and recounted a career that was filled with surprises and accomplishments beyond her wildest dreams. I had a front-row seat.

Golf was her parents’ game, Sorenstam said, so she followed them to the golf course, even though she would rather play soccer or tennis at a young age. But golf got under her skin (in a good way) because it was “so tough.” “That was the beauty of it,” she said. Plus she could practice without needing a partner.

Leaving Sweden to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson was a major adjustment, but Annika adapted and excelled at the college level. Maybe she could succeed at the pro game, although she didn’t know if she could win.

The first win “caught me by surprise,” Sorenstam said. That initial title was the U.S. Women’s Open, a major victory that literally made her ill. Annika told how she had to retreat from the world for a few weeks until she could get a better handle on her success and the public adulation. In a later anecdote, Sorenstam shared how her shyness caused her to intentionally three-putt to avoid winning tournaments. Why? She didn’t want to give a speech. One of her coaches noticed the trend, so the coach had first, second and third give speeches. That solved the problem.

When asked about her friendship with Tiger Woods, Annika said, “I’m not sure how the texting got started.” The two have practiced together and got in the habit of texting each other when they won a major. “I think he’s kind of competitive,” she said, sparking audience laughter.

As for her current status, Sorenstam said she is not using the “R” word, instead calling her break from the game “stepping away.”

Notes
• “My drive is stronger than ever,” Annika said. She is channeling it into her academy, golf course design and other projects.
• When asked for her dream foursome, she didn’t specifically name anyone, saying it could be people from all walks of life who she would enjoy and learn from.
• She was once caught at an exhibition with dirty laundry in her golf bag.
• A 54 is definitely possible, according to Sorenstam. She took the audience through her round of 59 on March 16, 2001. She was 12 under after 13 holes and rimmed out her putt for 58 on the final hole.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Illustration: Gary Hisanaga, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, October 25

A New Era Begins for Rory McIlroy

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


RORY MCILROY’S NEW MANAGEMENT TEAM has starting transforming his world. And Dublin based Horizon Sports is making sure it doesn’t make the same mistake as Chubby Chandler by hogging the limelight and becoming “celebrity” managers. Silence is now the new rule when it comes to handling the world No 3 and allowing him to let his clubs do the talking.

Breaking a three-day news blackout since landing the hottest property in the game, McIlroy’s new manager Conor Ridge apologised for his recent silence, explaining: “We have no comment to make on anything. Hope you understand.”

Ridge jetted off to China yesterday for the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters where McIlroy will be the centre of attention after announcing his shock sacking of the ISM organisation last Friday. The Holywood star, 22, stunned Chandler by walking out after four years together. According to Bolton man Chandler, the Irish star was unhappy with his brand, his website, his public image and his sponsorship portfolio. And he also believes that McIlroy was irritated by talk of the Chubby Slam at the US PGA last August. McIlroy described his larger-than-life, former agent as a “celebrity manager.”

But Horizon has been low profile in their handling of McIlroy’s pal Graeme McDowell since 2007. They have already made changes to McIlroy’s image by launching a slick preview of his new website featuring a portrait by top photographer Kevin Abosch, best known here for his Faces of Ireland campaign.

Organising a coherent 2012 schedule and steering the sometimes impetuous US Open champion away from controversy wiil be top of Horizon’s list of objectives. This reporter does not expect to be asked to “play the game” ever again when it comes to questions.

The US Open champion has tweeted just twice since he announced his split with ISM. Apart from congratulating Luke Donald on winning the US money list, he posted a pic of an early morning tennis session for new love Caroline Wozniacki in Istanbul. Before jetting out to Shanghai, McIlroy politely refused to talk about his split with Chandler and prepared to move on with his career.

It appears that a new era has begun.

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: Titleist.com)

Monday, October 24

Who Are Those Guys? Bill Lunde Edition




Editor’s note: In “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) kept saying, “Who are those guys?” That line reminds me of the PGA Tour some weeks, including this last one.

LUKE DONALD WON IN DRAMATIC fashion in Florida. Yani Tseng collected her seventh LPGA title of the season in her native Taiwan. And Sergio Garcia torched the European Tour field in Spain for his first win in three years. Not a bad week in golf for so late in the season.

But I’m left wondering this: Who is Bill Lunde?

Lunde is the cat who took home the $1 million for winning the Kodak Challenge. The Las Vegas Review-Journal explained the season-long sideshow. “The competition consists of 30 PGA Tour holes—one at each of 30 tournaments throughout the season. The player with the lowest score on his best 18 Kodak Challenge holes wins the $1 million.”

Lunde collected the trophy and check yesterday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, even though he missed the cut. As you might imagine, Lunde was pretty tickled about the whole thing. “I’m just very relieved it’s over and I don’t have to worry about it anymore,” he said. “We’ve been looking at new houses, and this will make an easier decision.”

If you’re in the dark about Lunde like I am, here’s the sheet on him.

Lunde won the 2010 Turning Stone Resort Championship. (I obviously wasn’t paying very close attention.) So even though Lunde finished 130th on this year’s money list, he is exempt for the 2012 season. Lunde’s best finish in 28 events this season was a T12 at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Championship.

A San Diego native who now lives in Las Vegas, Lunde helped UNLV win an NCAA Championship in 1998. He said it was his biggest thrill in golf. (But maybe that changed yesterday.) He played the Nationwide Tour in 2008 before moving up to the PGA Tour on a full-time basis the last three seasons.

By the way, the two guys Lunde beat to win the Kodak Challenge are Fabian Gomez and Cameron Tringale. We’ll have to fill in their bios another time.

−The Armchair Golfer

More ‘Who Are Those Guys?’:
Scott Stallings
Gary Woodland
Keegan Bradley

Saturday, October 22

3 Hole Outs Propel Justin Leonard at CMNH Classic




MISS GREEENS? NO BIG DEAL—if you’re Justin Leonard. On Saturday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic Leonard had three hole outs in five holes en route to a 34. He went on to shoot a 2-under 70 and holds a share of the 54-hole lead with Kevin Chappell.

The first two chip-ins looked rather routine from the edge of the green. The second was a bladed wedge that rolled in like a putt. The last one was the masterpiece of the trio, a lofted wedge from well off the green that found the cup.

“The strength of my round was definitely from off the green,” Leonard said. “There are days when those things don’t go our way, and the round can get away from me.”

Leonard, whose last win came at the 2008 Stanford St. Jude Classic, could use a victory. But he is exempt for the 2012 season on the PGA Tour. After some confusion, that apparently got sorted out on Friday.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, October 21

Get Complimentary Tickets to the Dubai World Championship

Editor’s note: Complimentary tickets to the 2011 Dubai World Championship are available at www.DubaiWorldChampionship.com.

By Alan Ewens

World No. 1 Luke Donald.
THE DUBAI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP presented by DP World is set for yet another star-studded occasion featuring many of the biggest names in world golf. While there are still chances for some players to cement a playing place in the final top 60 line-up at the Earth course, Jumeirah Golf Estates from December 8-11, a quick glance at the current Race to Dubai standings shows that many of the game’s biggest names are already Dubai-bound for the $15 million showdown.

Among them, the world’s top three ranked players—World Number One Luke Donald, inaugural Dubai World Championship winner Lee Westwood and 2011 US Open Champion Rory McIlroy—as well as three other European big guns currently residing in the top twenty of the Official World Golf Ranking.

Germany’s World Number Six Martin Kaymer, winner of The Race to Dubai less than twelve months ago, is another player ready to tackle the Greg Norman-designed Earth course, while current Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel (World Number 13) and 2011 US Open Champion Graeme McDowell (World Number 15) will tee it up at the eagerly awaited finale to the season. And with no halfway cut in the tournament, an estimated 60,000 spectators are expected to take advantage of the complimentary tickets to see four days of guaranteed action from their favourite stars.

Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood.
One player who is relishing playing in the lucrative Dubai World Championship after his impressive victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland. His win by two shots at St Andrews—and the €588,148 first prize—launched him from 83rd to 15th in The Race to Dubai, not only guaranteeing exemption to the Dubai World Championship but also giving him a good chance of earning a share of the US $7.5 million end of season Bonus Pool.

“It’s just amazing what winning a big tournament can do for you,” said Hoey. “Winning the Dunhill Links will open a lot of doors for me and getting into huge tournaments like the Dubai World Championship is one of the biggest benefits. I’m ecstatic.

“Trying to get into the Dubai World Championship was one of my goals before winning in St Andrews but I don’t have to worry about any of that now. I can’t wait to get to Dubai—it will be a great way to end the season.”

For complimentary tickets to the 2011 Dubai World Championship, visit www.DubaiWorldChampionship.com.

(Photos: Alan Ewens, Dubai World Championship)

Thursday, October 20

J.B. Holmes Adds Titanium—to His Skull

J.B. Holmes at the Verizon Heritage in Hilton Head in April.



























J.B. HOLMES IS RECOVERING FROM brain surgery performed on September 1. The 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup star had a quarter-sized piece of his rear skull removed to alleviate pressure on his brain. Holmes is on schedule for a full recovery and told Jeff Rude of Golfweek that he kept the piece of bone to remind himself “how lucky I am to be where I am and have a second chance.”

Rude reported that the Campbellsville, Kentucky, native also got outfitted with something else as a result of the surgery:
As part of the procedure, a piece of titanium was inserted into his skull. That means he not only has that light but strong metal in his driver, but also his head.

“It should give me 5 extra yards,” cracked Holmes, who doesn’t need the yardage, considering he has ranked in the top 7 in driving distance in each of his six PGA Tour seasons, including first this year at 318.4 yards.
Holmes started experiencing vertigo in May and had headaches and balance problems throughout the summer. He eventually withdrew from the PGA Championship and opted for the low-risk surgery after being diagnosed with structural defects in the cerebellum.

A two-time PGA Tour winner, Holmes has been doing physical rehabilitation to strengthen his neck muscles. This month he has been chipping and putting, and will soon be hitting iron shots. Holmes hopes to be back in action in December at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, if he’s invited.

−The Armchair Golfer

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

Wednesday, October 19

Fred Couples Looks Cool Sitting in a Bunker

Fred Couples bunkered.
IF ARNOLD PALMER IS GOLF’S king, then Fred Couples is golf’s king of cool. I mean, seriously, does Freddie look like anything would ever bother him? (Including Greg Norman’s jabs about Freddie’s Tiger Woods pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team.)

What other 50-something could pull off the black ECCOs with melon-colored shoelaces and sitting cross-legged in an Adirondack chair in the middle of a sand bunker?

Couples has been busy. He shot 65, 62 and 66 for a 23-under total and a seven-shot win at the AT&T Championship.

Then, as others have reported, Couples fired back at Norman, who had taken aim at the U.S. Presidents Cup captain, saying, “I can understand the name of a Tiger Woods and his history of what he’s done on the golf course. But I pick the guys who I think are ready to get in there and play and have performed to the highest levels leading up to it.”

Couples was asked about Norman’s comments and took the bait, saying, “Robert Allenby [one of Norman’s captain’s picks] hasn’t won a tournament in 10 years.” Actually, Allenby has won as recently as 2009, just not on the PGA Tour. Whether intentional or not, Norman and Couples are drumming up some interest for the event, although maybe not much. The Presidents Cup only matters to the most diehard golf fans.

Let’s face it, Keegan Bradley deserves a spot on the team. He’s the only American who is a major champion at the moment. He has won twice this season and just bagged the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda. But it’s not really about who is playing the best right now, is it?

There are reasons for picking Tiger Woods that have nothing to do with his golf game. The kind that make Tim Finchem smile.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: ECCO)

Tuesday, October 18

Major Champions Battle in Bermuda

By PGA of America

Darren Clarke at Carnoustie in 2007.
MASTERS CHAMPION CHARL SCHWARTZEL, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, Open champion Darren Clarke and PGA champion Keegan Bradley will form the year’s elite foursome in the 29th PGA Grand Slam of Golf, beginning today at Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda. The season-ending showcase event, which boasts the most difficult qualification requirement in the game—a major championship victory—will be televised by TNT. Coverage is today at 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. ET/PT and on Wednesday from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Port Royal Golf Course joins the Fairmont Southampton as the official hotel site for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda. The 6,845-yard, par-71 Port Royal is a public course that opened for play in 1970.

The PGA Grand Slam of Golf has a $1.35 million purse, with the winner receiving $600,000, second place $300,000, third place $250,000 and fourth place $200,000. TNT’s prime-time broadcast of the event reaches a worldwide audience of nearly 100 million U.S. homes and international viewers in more than 100 countries.

Hosted by the Bermuda Department of Tourism, Port Royal Golf Course, and the Fairmont Southampton Hotel, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf was established in 1979 and has grown from an 18-hole, single-day event to a 36-hole annual showdown that matches professional golf’s best against each other. Ernie Els captured the 2010 PGA Grand Slam of Golf title at Port Royal.

Past PGA Grand Slam of Golf Champions include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Els, Tom Lehman, Ben Crenshaw, Greg Norman and Nick Price.

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

Monday, October 17

Choi Withstands Tseng Charge to Win in Malaysia

A great result for Choi.
NA YEON CHOI, WHO BEGAN the final round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia with a one-stroke lead on Brittany Lang, wasn’t shaking in her golf spikes until the back nine. That’s when Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, the winner of six LPGA events this season (including the last two), made a run at the trophy.

“I wasn’t nervous when I started today,” said Choi, “but starting getting nervous on 15 when I hear that Yani got birdie, birdie.”

Tseng had a number in mind—65. “Today before I’m going to play, I tell myself, just shoot 6 under and finish 14 under,” she said. That’s exactly what Tseng did.

But Choi didn’t wilt under the pressure of Tseng’s charge. The South Korean got to 14 under with a birdie on the 15th. Then she birdied the par-3 17th to take a one-stroke lead and parred the final hole for a 68 that secured the victory.

“I was so nervous,” Choi admitted, “but I had a great result. So it feels amazing.” It was Choi’s first win this season and fifth career title.

Tseng, golf’s new dominant player, increased her 2011 winnings to $2,563,269. I probably don’t need to tell you that’s a bundle of money, especially considering the LPGA Tour purses as compared to the PGA Tour gravy train.

Next up is this week’s Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship.

−The Armchair Golfer

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

Saturday, October 15

Fred Couples Races to 7-Shot Lead at AT&T Championship

Fred Couples fired a 62.
FRED COUPLES HAD A GOOD day at TPC San Antonio. The U.S. Presidents Cup captain carded 12 birdies en route to a 10-under 62 in the second round of the AT&T Championship. Freddie’s only blemish on his scorecard was a double bogey at the par-3 4th hole. He’ll take a 7-shot lead over Mark Calcavecchia, who had a 66 on Saturday, into the final round.

Couples opened with a 65 and is 17 under for the Champions Tour event. He has 20 birdies in two rounds. No surprise, he is first in greens in regulation and putting through two rounds.

“You don’t get leads like this very often,” Couples said.

The winner will take home a check for $262,500. I like Freddie’s chances. A lot.

“Odds are we’ve identified this year’s champion,” Calc said. “I don’t see Fred having a bad day.”

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Bill Spruce, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Friday, October 14

The Nation’s First Golf-Themed Memorial Park

Editor’s note: In an odd coincidence, my father-in-law is buried at the below-mentioned Sunset Hills Memorial Park. A lifelong golfer and longtime member of nearby Glendale Country Club, he surely would have gotten a kick out of this idea.

By Firmani + Associates

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON – Golfers understand the simple joys that accompany a day on the course: the smell of a freshly cut green, the sound of a well-hit drive and the satisfaction of watching a long putt fall into the hole. It is with these joys in mind that Sunset Hills Memorial Park and Funeral Home dedicates its new Memorial Golf Park, a complete golf hole which allows committed fans of the game to be buried or placed in a permanent golf setting, the nation’s first golf-themed memorial park.

The Sunset Hills Memorial Golf Park can accommodate more than 1,281 golf enthusiasts, between full-casket plots and cremation placements. The golf memorial also features an ossuary located under the green, accessible through the actual golf hole.

Designed by a professional golf course designer, the park includes a tee-box, 820 square-foot green, fairway and sand trap. The green features a custom-made bronze cup, which will be used as a passageway to the ossuary.

“We strive to serve families and individuals by celebrating lives with individually designed and themed experiences,” said Arne Swanson, market director for Dignity Memorials’ Seattle Region. “We are proud to be a leader in this area, and Sunset Hills Golf Hole Memorial is a great example of our approach.”

The concept of a golf-themed memorial park came to Swanson, an avid golfer, when he saw a group of golfers spreading the ashes at a local golf course, probably without the permission of the golf course management.

“My thought was that there were likely other golfers who would like to be memorized amid the surroundings of a verdant, peaceful golf course,” Swanson said.

According to Swanson, residents of the Pacific Northwest choose cremation at a higher rate than the national average. But with cremation and scattering often comes a problem: families miss out on visiting the grave or interment of a deceased loved one.

Swanson began working on his vision for the golf-themed memorial park so it would fit the need for this segment of golf enthusiasts. The park features both cremation placements and casketed burial plots. It will also feature five bench estates, giving family members the chance to establish a future place of rest together and inscribe a permanent message.

Thursday, October 13

2011 McGladrey Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 MCGLADREY CLASSIC is underway at the Seaside Course in Sea Pines, Georgia. Webb Simpson and Zach Miller currently share the first-round lead after carding 7-under 63s.


Heath Slocum won inaugural McGladrey Classic.
Purse: $4 million
Winner’s share: $720,000
Defending champion: Heath Slocum

2011 McGladrey Classic Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tour report
McGladrey Classic website


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 McGladrey Classic is on Golf Channel.

Thu, 10/13:
GOLF 2p - 5p ET

Fri, 10/14:
GOLF 2p - 5p ET

Sat, 10/15:
GOLF 2p - 5p ET

Sun, 10/16:
GOLF 2p - 5p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times


−The Armchair Golfer

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

Wednesday, October 12

Who Is Your 2011 Player of the Year?




THE PGA TOUR HAS IDENTIFIED five candidates for 2011 Player of the Year. Here they are in alphabetical order:

1. Keegan Bradley
Wins: HP Byron Nelson Championship, PGA Championship
Comment: Leading candidate for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year

2. Luke Donald
Wins: WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
Comment: Ranked No. 1 in the world

3. Bill Haas
Wins: Tour Championship
Comment: FedEx Cup winner

4. Webb Simpson
Wins: Wyndham Championship, Deutsche Bank Championship
Comment: Finished second in FedEx Cup

5. Nick Watney
Wins: WGC-Cadillac Championship, AT&T National
Comment: FedExCup points leader during regular season

This is tough. I would probably go with Keegan Bradley or Bill Haas. I’ll say Bradley. Yes, I’m giving a lot of weight to the major. I bet the other four players would trade any of their 2011 accomplishments for that PGA Championship.

PGA Tour players will cast their votes and the winner will receive the Jack Nicklaus Trophy.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, October 11

Tiger Is ‘Back’ When He Wins

A LOT OF FOLKS HAVE BEEN assessing Tiger Woods’s performance at the Frys.com Open. Local Knowledge, a Golf Digest blog, went a step further in a piece published last Friday.

Tiger Woods at the 2009 AT&T National.
“How do we know when Tiger is ‘Back’?” was one of the headlines for the article. A couple of excerpts:
It has become a popular phrase, whether watching in person or from afar, as we’ve followed Tiger Woods through these tumultuous couple of years. Woods does something right—anything right, really—and there are the inevitable cries of, “He’s back!”

The point is, even as he’s plummeted down the world rankings, there have been at least glimpses of the player that made us all so fascinated with Woods in the first place, something we’ve touched upon several times before. But it does inspire an important question: as he approaches his 36th birthday, what is now the definition of “back” for Woods?
That’s easy for me. As a couple of commenters at Local Knowledge said, Tiger is back when he wins again. First, a regular event. And then a major.

How could “back” mean anything else for the era’s greatest golfer, a man who has won 71 PGA Tour titles and 14 majors?

What do you think?

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Chase McAlpine, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Monday, October 10

Joe LaCava and PGA Tour Caddie Economics

Joe LaCava is Tiger’s new bag man.
JOE LACAVA WORKED HIS FIRST tournament for Tiger Woods this past week, a new employment opportunity LaCava called a “no-brainer.” It’s LaCava’s third bag this year. He started the year with long-time employer Fred Couples and then moved on to rising star Dustin Johnson at Freddie’s suggestion. Finally, he split with world No. 5 Johnson to loop for Woods.

Why? That’s easy. “Because he’s Tiger Woods,” LaCava said. “Enough said.”

Woods finished T30 at the Frys.com Open, posting 73-68-68-68—277.

But, as Karen Crouse of the New York Times reported, not all loopers share LaCava’s perspective. Money and future potential matter.
LaCava’s decision to leave Johnson for Woods surprised some caddies, who are like horsemen when it comes to picking their rides. They place great weight on recent performances, which makes sense since, in addition to a base salary for the week—roughly $1,500, a large chunk of which goes toward travel and lodging expenses—they also receive a percentage of their boss’s earnings: 6 percent for a made cut, 8 percent for a top-10 finish and 10 percent for a victory.
Caddies come and go. Sometimes they fire players, as PGA Tour veteran Paul Goydos noted, but mostly players dismiss caddies. It’s a constant. And it can happen in a variety of ways. Tour caddie Erik Bergerud once lost his job via email.

Ricci Roberts, who caddies for Ernie Els, might be counted as one of the bag men who raised an eyebrow when LaCava abandoned Johnson. Roberts called Johnson an “ATM machine.”

Roberts has lost track of the number of times he has been hired and fired by Els. Five or six, he decided. “It’s like a bad marriage.”

“I’m glad he keeps coming back,” Els said. “I don’t know how many times I can keep doing it to him.”

LaCava should fare better with Woods. Both men are accustomed to long-term player-caddie relationships. But there are no guarantees. Just ask Steve Williams.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, October 8

Keegan Bradley Relishes Possible Presidents Cup Spot

IN JANUARY PGA TOUR ROOKIE Keegan Bradley teed it up at Waialae Country Club, well known among Hawaii golf courses as the venue for the Sony Open. When Bradley finished in an invisible tie for 68th, did anyone think the 25-year-old rookie was on his way to a two-win season that included a dramatic playoff victory over journeyman Jason Dufner at the PGA Championship?

It has been a phenomenal freshman season for the nephew of LPGA legend Pat Bradley. After winning his first major in Atlanta, “Glory’s Last Shot,” Keegan is now famous in his own right. Currently ranked 26th in the world, he is a virtual lock for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

But Bradley didn’t earn enough points to automatically qualify for the U.S. Presidents Cup team and captain Fred Couples didn’t pick him, selecting Tiger Woods early and going with Bill Haas after Haas won both the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup. Some think it’s an injustice that Bradley didn’t make the American squad—and I can’t disagree with them.

“If I’m not on the (Presidents Cup) team, I’ll be devastated,” Bradley said two weeks ago after completing play at the Tour Championship. “But at the same time, I didn’t earn my way onto the team.”

Then came the Haas pick and a call from Couples.

“Freddie was very nice on the phone and explained to me why he made the picks,” Bradley told Tim Rosaforte. “I totally understand Tiger and Bill are great players. And what Bill did at the Tour Championship was remarkable and he deserved the pick. That’s not saying I’m not very disappointed. I hope to be on many more teams in the future.”

And yet Bradley still might board that flight to Australia. World No. 4 Steve Stricker is ailing with a neck injury. If he can’t play, Couples has already named his replacement: Keegan Bradley.

It would be the perfect ending to a storybook year.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Brought to you by GolfChannel.com and GolfNow.com.)

Friday, October 7

David Duval Struggles Through Another Season

David Duval (right) with U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love.
I SAW A NOTE ABOUT former world No. 1 golfer David Duval in my Golfweek 360 email. Duval made the magazine’s “5 Things” column after posting three rounds in the 60s for a 14-under total and T23 finish at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

It might be hard to imagine that a top 25 finish is noteworthy, but that’s certainly the case for Duval. The tour veteran had missed five of his last six cuts and 12 in all this season. His best finish in 21 events was a T9 at the Northern Trust Open and he has earned a little more than $400,000, which puts him at 145th on the money list.

I don’t usually study the stats page, but the numbers do tell a story. Duval is well below average in driving accuracy (51.24%) and his scrambling and putting are not particularly stellar. Nonetheless, a couple of top fives or 10s could vault him up the money list and move him into top 125 territory.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to happen this week at the Frys.com Open. The projected cut is at 1 over and Duval finished play with 71-73—144, or 2 over par. If that holds, he’ll miss the cut by one.

−The Armchair Golfer

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

Thursday, October 6

2011 Frys.com Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 FRYS.COM OPEN is underway at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, California. Brendan Steele, Briny Baird and Garrett Willis share the first-round lead after carding 4-under 67s.


Defending champion Rocco Mediate opened with a 71.
Purse: $5 million
Winner’s share: $900,000
Defending champion: Rocco Mediate

2011 Frys.com Open Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tour report
Frys.com Open website


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Frys.com Open is on Golf Channel.

Thu, 10/6:
GOLF 4p - 8p ET

Fri, 10/7:
GOLF 4p - 8p ET

Sat, 10/8:
GOLF 4p - 8p ET

Sun, 10/9:
GOLF 4p - 8p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times


−The Armchair Golfer

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

Wednesday, October 5

My Visit to the USGA Research Center

LARGE BANNERS OF LORENA OCHOA and Ernie Els hung at the entrance of the USGA Museum as I approached the Georgia Colonial mansion on Monday, a drizzly and chilly day in central New Jersey. Also known as the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History, the museum also houses the USGA Research Center, where I happily spent Monday and Tuesday amid stacks of golf books, periodicals and other fascinating historical materials.

The USGA Museum in Far Hills, New Jersey.
This is no ordinary library. For one thing, it’s all about golf. For another, it’s the world’s largest golf library, with more than 22,000 volumes, some of which date back to the 19th century. The research center also includes photographic archives and film and video collections. It’s the perfect place to jump start a golf book or a research or writing project.

The research center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday. It’s best to make an appointment. The staff is extremely helpful. (Librarian Nancy Stulack is a whiz.) Just follow the rules. More information here.

If you go, be sure to also visit the museum. It’s terrific. I seem to end up there once a year and always enjoy the exhibits. You can tour the museum in an hour (or less), or spend longer if you’re a golf history junkie like me. More information here.

The USGA is located on a large, attractive campus in Far Hills, New Jersey, a short hop from the village of Liberty Corner and just a few miles off I-78 and I-287.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, October 3

‘Lucky’ Ryder Cup Golf Cart Comes Through at Solheim Cup

By Landmark Media

A “LUCKY” RYDER CUP GOLF CAR used by European Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas previously played a frontline role at the 2006 Ryder Cup, it has been revealed. The vehicle was one of 179 Club Car golf carts supplied to the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle by The Buggyman, Ireland’s leading golf car specialist, which also provided cars for the Ryder Cup at The K Club five years ago.

“We kept the assistant captains’ Club Car, which had been driven by Sandy Lyle and David J Russell, as a lucky momento,” explained Liam Ross of The Buggyman. “So when we were asked to supply vehicles for the Solheim Cup, we thought the European captain should have a Club Car that had a history of winning.

“Call it the luck of the Irish, if you will, but we like to think we had a small part to play in Europe’s victory.”

As it turns out, The Buggyman and Club Car’s role may have been more than just good luck.

The morning after the victory, Alison Nicholas told BBC Radio that a pep talk on board the golf car that took the final three singles players back out to the course after a weather delay may have helped turn around their matches and deliver the dramatic victory.

“Suzann Pettersen, Caroline Hedwall and Azahara Mun├▒oz all shared a buggy going back out and gave each other a pep talk,” said Nicholas. “They said, ‘Come on, we need our points.’

“As it turned out, it was an incredible last half an hour.”

Saturday, October 1

Luke Donald No 3-Putt Streak Ends at 449 Holes

Luke Donald on a roll.
IMAGINE GOING THE EQUIVALENT of nearly 25 18-hole rounds without a three-putt green. Now imagine performing the feat week in and week out against the best golfers in the world. That’s what Luke Donald had accomplished until Thursday’s opening round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Donald’s deft skill with the short flatstick (no belly or long putter for this putting genius) is one rather obvious reason why he sits atop the golf world. Until the 7th green (his 16th hole of the day) at Kingsbarn, the world No. 1 Englishman had not three-putted since the Canadian Open. That was in the third week of July, folks.

At least Luke didn’t lose the streak on a routine-looking two-putt. He faced a 70-footer at Kingsbarn and lagged to eight feet. The second one didn’t drop. You can’t make all of them, even if you’re Luke Donald. Still, he was disappointed.

“I was a little upset, yeah,” Donald told reporters. “It’s the little victories in golf … that we look for. I didn’t want to miss. But 69 is not a bad score to start the week.”

No, it’s not.

−The Armchair Golfer

Visor tip to Geoff Shackelford

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