GOLF CHRONICLES
A golf buddy on the tee at Old Head 
 
 
A golf trip to Ireland
Sunday, September 25, 2011
By Joe Logan

We are entering my favorite month of golf all year long.

 

For as long as I can remember, these few weeks, after the summer heat and humidity have finally subsided, but before the winter darkness and doldrums have set in, offer the most ideal golfing weather and optimum course conditions.

 

There is, I don’t know, a certain peacefulness about fall golf. I like the slightly late cool afternoons, when a sweater or light fleece pullover are plenty against the chill.  The summer days of baking in the sun, or sweating underneath, are over.  It’s just right, perfect.  And when the leaves start to turn, causing the golf course to explode with color, it couldn’t get any better.

 

It’s also a time of the year when the courses tend to be in near-perfect condition.  After a season of nurturing, rain and growth, fairways are thick and full and the greens are lush, fast and true.

 

Then there is the condition of my golf game.  I play some of my best golf in the fall.  By then, I’ve usually worked out whatever swing flaw tormented me for most of the spring and summer.  I’m just grateful to be out on the golf course, in the fresh air, doing the thing I most like to do.

 

Not surprisingly, my favorite time of the day to play golf has always been the late afternoon, as sunset looms.  There’s a calmness about the golf course.  Courses are rarely packed then.  Most people are already at home, gathering for dinner, or having family times, especially if it’s summer when it doesn’t get dark until 8:30 or later.  In the hour before sunset, what you find on the golf course are the hearty few – the guy sneaking in nine holes after work, a foursome of kids, a father and son (and daughter) enjoying peaceful time together.

 

Fall golf is the best.


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The Muni Golfer[9/30/2011 11:08:10 AM]
Joe, hope youíre having a great time. Have a pint for me!

Phil Mickelson 
My World Golf Hall of Fame vote and me
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
By Joe Logan

Should Phil Mickelson make it into the World Golf Hall of Fame?  I don’t mean ever?  Of course, he should.  I mean now, while he’s still got several good years left in his career.

 

That’s the question put to me and everyone else who votes each year on who gets elected to the WGHOF. I take my vote very seriously, and I’ll tell you how I voted, but first a little background on the process.

 

Who gets on the ballot? The qualifications are:

 

- Minimum of 40 years old

- PGA Tour member for 10 years

- 10 Tour wins or 2 Majors or Players Championships

 

What does it take to get elected?

 

- A candidate must be voted for on 65 percent of the returned ballots

- If no candidate receives 65 percent, the candidate with the most votes is elected, provided he or she receives 50 percent of the votes cast

- Any candidate who receives votes in less than 5 percent of the returned ballots for two consecutive years is dropped from the ballot.  Otherwise, a candidate remains on the ballot indefinitely.  After 10 years on the ballot, candidates are considered for the Veterans Category.

 

(Current members of the WGHOLF)

 

Who votes?

 

- Senior executives of golf organizations ( PGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association and PGA of America), various industry executives and advisors, previous inductees to the WGHOF, select TV industry representatives involved in golf coverage, select writers picked in concert by the WGHOF and the Golf Writers Association of America.

- Voters can choose up to 30 percent of the candidates on the ballot, which in 2012 means 4 candidates.  You can vote for fewer, or even none, if you think no one on the ballot deserves to make it to the WGHOF.

 

The 2012 Candidates

 

There are 14 candidates this year, three of them on the ballot for the first time.  They are: Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Loren Roberts.

 

The others are (along with vote totals last year, if they were on the ballot):

 

- Miller Barber (9%)

- Fred Couples (32%)

- Don January (12%)

- Tony Lema (14%)

- Davis Love III (27%)

- Harold (Jug) McSpaden (7%)

- Mark O’Meara (29%)

- Macdonald Smith (23%)

- Dave Stockton (12%)

- Ken Venturi (20%)

- Fuzzy Zoeller (18%)

 

Kenny Perry and Jay Haas were both dropped from this year’s ballot after receiving 2%.

 

(Note: There is also an International Ballot. Candidates are: Peter Allis, Darren Clarke, Max Faulkner, Retief Goosen, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Sandy Lyle, Graham Marsh, Colin Montgomerie, Norman Von Nida, Ian Woosnam)

 

How I voted and why:

 

This year I voted for one candidate: Mickelson.   I’ve talked to colleagues who vote who wouldn’t think of voting for a candidate who is still an active player.  They argue that almost by definition, selection to the hall of fame in a given sport should come only after a player’s career has ended.  Indeed, in baseball, players are not eligible until they’ve been retired for five years.  Obviously, not so in golf.

 

My thinking is that Mickelson has already posted the necessary numbers – 39 PGA Tour wins, including three Masters, a PGA Championship and a Players Championship, and been a member of virtually every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team since he turned pro – to earn him first-ballot election into the WGHOF.  Why suggest otherwise just to make a point.

 

My thinking on some of the other candidates:

 

Furyk: One major (U.S. Open), 16 PGA Tour wins and multiple Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams make him a stronger candidate for the future, but he is not there yet.  Another major title, or a Players Championship, along with hitting the 20-win mark for his career would probably put Furyk in the WGHOF.

 

Couples: One major (Masters) and a Players Championship, 15 PGA Tour wins, six Champions Tour wins.  As popular as he is, Couples has long been saddled with the reputation of being an underachiever.  Blame his bad back, if you want.  If he can win a couple of majors on the Champions Tour, Couples will eventually enter the WGHOF.

 

Love: One major (PGA) and two Players Championships, 20 PGA Tour wins.  Another very popular, highly-regarded player who didn’t quite win as many majors as people expected.  Now past his prime, Love must make his case with his Ryder Cup record and maybe a couple of Champions Tour majors, when that time comes.


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Joe Logan[9/15/2011 6:22:42 AM]
Acer - Check out the story I just posted under Latest Headlines. I wasnít a voter when the original qualifications were drawn up. Iíve heard occasional grumbling from a voter here and there about the early-age threshold but not any real effort to raise it.
Acer3x[9/15/2011 6:05:29 AM]
Joe, Is there a movement among the eligible voters to change the eligibility requirements to a higher age? MLB,NFL,NHL&NBA all do not allow active players to be in their HOF. Why does golf?
Joe Logan[9/14/2011 8:03:22 PM]
So far as I can tell, there is no provision for abstaining. If you try to abstain by not returning the ballot, you will be dropped as a voter. If you return the ballot without checking his name, it is recorded that you didnít vote for him.
Acer3x[9/14/2011 7:21:00 PM]
I would abstain until such time as the WGHOF changes the eligibility age to 50. Itís ridiculous to have active players in the HOF.

Seven Days in Utopia isnít that bad.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
By Joe Logan

The reviews for the new golf movie, Seven Days in Utopia, are so rancid, so brutal that naturally, I had to see it.

 

For one thing, I am a sucker for a golf movie, any golf movie.  I can’t help myself.   In the case of Seven Days in Utopia I also had to see for myself if it could really be the worst golf movie ever made, as one headline suggested.  Of course, with competition like the cinematic turds Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius and The Legend of Bagger Vance, I found that hard to believe.  Could it possibly be hokier, with less convincing golf scenes, than Tin Cup?  More inane than Happy Gilmore? 

 

We’re talking about a genre of films, after all, where the crowning achievement is a goofball comedy turned cult-classic, Caddyshack.

 

Now that I think about it, the only golf movie I can recall that didn’t have me ducking out of the theater embarrassed for the entire game was The Greatest Game Ever Played, which didn’t suck, and before that, Follow Sun: The Ben Hogan Story, but that’s a reach going back 60 years.

 

Given the laughable history golf movies, and given the cruel and usual reviews, my expectations for Seven Days in Utopia could not have been any lower.

 

Based on David L. Cook’s novel of the same name, the book and the move have overt Christian undertones. The story is about a down-and-out young pro golfer (Lucas Black), who has just choked in a big tournament, humiliating himself in the process.  Running from his failure, he somehow finds his way to the tiny Texas of Utopia (pop. 373).  There, he falls under the spell of a wizened and compassionate old rancher (Robert Duvall) who, it turns out, was once a pretty fair pro golfer himself.  From there, it’s all about what really matters in life, which is where the movie takes a turn for the spiritual. (Oddly, even Christianity Today gave it a thumbs-down.)

 

The only thing that gave me the slightest cause for hope that Seven Days in Utopia might not stink was the disparity of reactions on Rotten Tomatoes between professional film critics and ordinary film-goers.  Professional critics, who can be a snooty, finicky crowd, killed Seven Days in Utopia: 13 percent approval; regular folks, however, give it a 73 percent approval.  Huge difference.

 

My personal approval rating: 50 percent.

 

I mean, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as awful as I expected.  If you made it through Bagger Vance, you’ll make it through Seven Days in Utopia.

 

And I will say this: Unless they used trick photography, or superimposed his head on a real pro’s body,  Lucas Black has the best golf swing you’ve seen in a golf movie in a long time.

 

So, then, why is Seven Days in Utopia getting pounded by the critics?  Because is indeed corny, corny, corny – and preachy.   It is one of several movies and books in recent years that tries to spread the Christian message in more subtle fashion.

 

Oh, and the dialog is often stiff and stilted.  A sampling:

 

Duvall: "The first step to finding a good golf game is finding some conviction."

 

Duvall:  "All golf shots start with a blank canvas.  We create the shots in our mind so we can reproduce tem with our bodies."

 

Duvall: "S-F-T: See it, feel it, trust it."

 

Still, as I left after Seven Days in Utopia, I’d gotten my golf fix on a rainy afternoon.  And considering that I was prepared to nod off or walk out, I was somehow vaguely pleasantly surprised.


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Terry L Edgar[12/3/2011 7:13:06 AM]
I saw the movie without any previews (I do that at times) and I really felt the message of the film "life is more than the materialistic details". If thatís corny, corny, corny, well perhaps you should write an inspirational article that relates the dynamics of life to a sport and critique the corniness. Truthfully, I really needed to see that movie today, not because of golf but because of life. However i completely agree it would be great to have a golf movie just about golf worth watching.

Joe Bausch 
The Bausch Collection adds six more course galleries
Monday, August 29, 2011
By Joe Logan

The Bausch Collection of golf course galleries is growing again.

 

Since early July, when Joe Bausch, Villanova chemistry professor, unrepentant golf addict and itchy-fingered amateur photographer, uploaded three more course galleries, he has another six, a mix of private and daily fee: Skippack GC, Blackwood GC, Clayton Park GC, Torresdale-Frankford CC and Saucon ValleyOld Course and Weyhill Course.  The total is now up to 112.

 

If you are unfamiliar with Joe’s course galleries, they are the most complete assemblage of golf course photo galleries in the region, as well as an invaluable resources for golfers.

 

If you haven’t already done so, check them out.  Tell your golfing friends.  Even golf courses that offer photos of their courses on their own websites often do not provide the kind of complete overview that Joe comes up with, snapping away with his point-and-shoot camera as he plays.

 

Thinking about trying a new course?  Joe has probably already been there and photographed it.  Considering joining a private club?  You can probably narrow the list of possibilities thanks to The Bausch Collection.

 

Not surprisingly, Joe’s biggest body of work is from Pennsylvania (87 courses), followed by New Jersey (18 courses), then Delaware (4) and Maryland (3).  More are always on the way, especially since joined the ranks of course raters for Golfweek magazine.  Now, he has even more incentive to try new courses.

 

Enjoy.


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Coach Brian Quinn 
Sometimes coaching is about more than Xs and Os
Friday, August 19, 2011
By Joe Logan

For Temple golf and golf coach Brian Quinn, these are the best of times and the worst of times.

 

In the current rotation of Featured Stories on MyPhillyGolf, there are two stories that involve talented young Temple golfers.  One is about Andrew Mason, who just finished his eligibility at Temple.  He is riding the hottest of hot streaks right now, having won the Philadelphia Open, the Pennsylvania Amateur, the Patterson Cup and, soon enough, Player of the Year from the Golf Association of Philadelphia.  Next week, Mason will tee it up in the U.S. Amateur.

 

The other story involving a Temple golfer is nothing short of tragic.  It’s about Connor McNicholas, another talented young player who will be a sophomore a few weeks, assuming he returns to school.  He could be in jail.

 

McNicholas, who is only 19, faces 20 charges, including homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, following the Aug. 6 high-speed crash that killed two of the four teens who were in the car with him that night.

 

As it happened, the fatal crash involving McNicholas occurred while I was researching the story on Mason.   You can imagine the tone of the conversation I had with Coach Quinn.

 

It started out upbeat, because my early questions were about the phenomenal success of Mason.  Quinn was so proud of Mason and so happy for him.  The coach couldn’t stress enough what a great young man and student athlete Mason is, in addition to being a golfer with an unlimited future.

 

Eventually, unfortunately, I had to broach the subject of McNicholas.  There was silence on the other end of the phone as Quinn gathered his emotions and his thoughts.  At that point, the toxicology reports on McNicholas were not back yet, so he had not been charged.  But there was so much sorrow in Quinn’s voice.  Even in a best case scenario,  if McNicholas were not charged, Quinn and I both knew that he would live the rest of his life knowing that two of his friends died that night.

 

Quinn did not want to speculate on how things would play out for McNicholas. The coach couldn’t get past the needless hurt and suffering, for all involved.   "Your life changes in an instant," he said, sadness in his voice. 

 

Quinn’s pain was only compounded by the fact that he also had high praise for McNicholas.   What a likable kid, fine young man and promising golfer.  Oh, and he misery of his family.  How could something like this happen?

 

I saw in the paper a couple of days ago that when McNicholas appeared in court to be formally be charged, there to support him were his parents of course, but also his golf coach.  I wasn’t surprised.  Sometimes coaching is about more than "Xs" and "Os."


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Tiger Woods 
Golf moves on, Part II
Saturday, August 6, 2011
By Joe Logan

When Tiger Woods announced that his big return to golf would be at this week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would end up eating my own words.  My last blog posting, after all, had been about my current indifference to Tiger and the future of his career.

 

Still, when he teed off  at 1:40 in the first round on Thursday, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I had taken up my usual position in front of the hi-def big screen, in my big leather chair.  I had to see what he would do.

 

So I watched, and I watched some more.

 

But then, something very strange happened.  I got a little bored.  Soon, I had my laptop on my lap, uploading stories to MyPhillyGolf as I kept one eye peeled to the TV.  A few minutes later, I was up puttering, loading the dishwasher, gathering up all the old newspapers and magazines that tend to pile up around my chair.  Next thing you know, I was away from the TV altogether, upstairs throwing a load of washing into the washing machine.

 

True, I continued to pop downstairs to check on the progress of Tiger’s round.  But I wasn’t glued to the TV, like I used to be whenever he played.  I wasn’t frozen in place, noting every loose shot, evaluating every birdie opportunity.

 

Here’s the real kicker.  Midway through Tiger’s back nine, I was totally disengaged.  I switched off the TV and went to the range to hit a bucket of balls.  You know, my own game over Tiger’s. It was clear by then he wasn’t going to shoot 64 and he wasn’t going to shoot 78, anyway.  As the cops say in the movies, "Move along, folks, nothing to see here." 

 

It’s just not the same any more.


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SteveMG[8/7/2011 9:22:32 PM]
From what I am hearing about the way Steve Williams is handling himself, I think Tiger did the right thing.
SteveMG[8/7/2011 9:17:27 PM]
I rarely watch golf if itís a nice day. Even when Tiger was at his best, I hardly ever saw any of his victories.

Rickie Fowler 
Golf moves on
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
By Joe Logan

The longer Tiger Woods is missing in action, the less I miss him.  My curiosity about him, the condition of his leg/knee/Achilles, the state of his game and, of course, the timetable for if and when he ever returns, stir very little interest or me these days.

 

If he shows up again, okay.  If he doesn’t, that’s okay, too.

 

Meanwhile, golf moves on, and I am finding other people to watch and like.  I like this Rickie Fowler kid.  I hate his hat.  I hate the flat brim, and I hate the way he pulls it down over his ears and his goofy haircut.  I’m not crazy about those Kandy Kolored Kool-Aid Klothes he wears, either.  But, hey, Rickie could probably find a few nits to pick with in my golfing ensemble, too, so I suppose it’s a wash.

 

What I like about Rickie is that he is exciting to watch.   He’s got flare and style and he goes for broke, like Phil Mickelson at that age.  I also have to admit I was very wrong about Rickie.   At the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, when he was still a hot-shot college amateur, I stood behind Rickie on the range for 30 minutes watching him balls. I turned to my friend and said, "With that whippy, home-made swing, no way he makes on the PGA Tour.  Rickie hasn’t won yet, but Rickie appears to be making it.

 

I also like Rory McIlroy.  Gorgeous swing, hard-working, ambitious, humble.  Once he learns how to handle all the fame and success that is going to come his way, Rory McIlroy could easily settle in for a long run as No. 1 in the world.

 

Dustin Johnson I like watching but I cannot figure out him out.   He is perhaps the best athlete on the golfing scene today, and he kills it the ball.  Obviously, he has been at or near the top of the leaderboard at most every major for the past couple of years, biding him time for his big breakthrough.

 

But I don’t know what to make of that almost vacant-look on Dustin Johnson’s face so much of the time.  I wonder what he is thinking, if he is thinking.  I’ve sat through three or four of his press conferences and I come away yearning for some of the intelligence and sophistication you hear from the Australian players, like Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy.

 

I don’t know who is going to winner a major sooner, Dustin Johnson or Jason Day.  My money is on Day.

 

It’s good to see Matt Kuchar finally coming into his own, after a major swing change a couple of years ago.  It’s also good to see Steve Stricker, who is one of the most earnest guys on the planet, become one of the top players in the world.  I never would have guessed Stricker had it in him.

 

If you didn’t smile when Darren Clarke won the British Open, then you haven’t followed golf or you haven’t been following Darren Clarke.

 

I’m also rooting for Phil Mickelson to remain competitive and maybe win another major, preferably a fourth Masters.

 

John Daly?  I lost interest.

 

If Tiger ever returns and starts to mount some kind of career comeback, I might even find it in my heart to pull for him.  It would help if he would stop acting like a complete ass.


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SteveMG[8/4/2011 8:05:45 PM]
I would still root for Tiger Woods to get it back. The PGA Tour is more fun with him around. There may be a few hot players right now, but McIlroy is the only one with legs. It seems like every week the commentators of the Golf Channel are touting this weekís winner as the guy about to break through and contend in every major. It seems to me that the last few years, most of the major winners are guys that leapfrogged the "best contenders". (McDowell and Kaymer wouldnít fit that description, but they are mostly European players, not PGA Tour players). When I would look at a typical leaderboard, there arenít that many players I really care about. Take a look at the WGC leaderboard. Of the first couple dozen names, there arenít that many I really can get into. Some good guys, Iím sure, but does it really matter whether Jason Day or Adam Scott win? Adam Scott won The Playersí a couple years ago. Didnít make him a more compelling player one bit. Stewart Cink (cheater) won (I mean Tom Watson lost) the British Open 2 years ago. Yawn. Y.E. Yang took down Tiger (though now we know that Tiger was unravelling). Since then, anything?
acer3x[8/4/2011 9:15:03 AM]
The WGC event at Firestone is on TGC today at 1:30pm. Strangely enough, TWís tee time today is at 1:40pm.
Ben M.[7/28/2011 6:59:06 AM]
I am so over Tiger.
Ben DíAntonio[7/28/2011 6:17:33 AM]
Feeling the same way about Tiger. Never thought it would come to that but it has. Iím even using non Nike products which in the past was tantamount to sacriligeous. Unfortunately, for me, no one has stepped up in both game and wardrobe.


 
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