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.
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.
- 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
- Davis Love III (27%)
- Harold (Jug) McSpaden (7%)
- Mark O’Meara (29%)
- Macdonald Smith (23%)
- Dave Stockton (12%)
- Ken Venturi
- Fuzzy Zoeller
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
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
My thinking on some of the
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.
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.
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.
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.
[9/15/2011 6:05:29 AM]
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?
[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.
[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.
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
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
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.
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.
The Bausch Collection adds six more course galleries
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
In the current rotation of Featured Stories onMyPhillyGolf, 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
another talented young player who will be a sophomore a few weeks, assuming he
returns to school.He could be in
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
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."
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."
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.
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.
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?
[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.
[7/28/2011 6:59:06 AM]
I am so over Tiger.
[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.