GOLF CHRONICLES
Pete Trenham (right), with Harry Hammond 
 
 
A new local golf website, Trenham Golf History
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
By Joe Logan

When it comes to the history of golf in Philadelphia, I humbly bow to two men.  On the amateur side, it’s James W. Finegan, author of the authoritative tome A Centennial Tribute to Golf in Philadelphia, for the Golf Association of Philadelphia.

 

On the pro side, the undisputed authority is Pete Trenham, who spent 29 years as the head professional at St. David’s Golf Club.

 

Quite the stick in his day (former captain of the University of Florida golf team), Pete got involved in Section politics and worked his way up through the ranks of the Philadelphia Section PGA, becoming the 27th president in 1987.  When the Section created a Hall of Fame in 1992, he was an original inductee.

 

Along the way, Pete indulged his fascination with the history of golf in Philadelphia and over time, he became the Section’s official historian. Pete researched and wrote all of those vignettes that ran on the home page of MyPhillyGolf in 2011 commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Section.

 

Pete does this stuff not for money but because, well, it is his passion and he has the time and energy to do it.

 

Now comes his latest labor of love, the culmination of his work, a website he has launched with the help of a couple of enthusiastic and computer-savvy buddies, Bill Orr  and Jack Darcy.

 

The website, Trenham Golf History, is now up and running; that said, it is a work-in-progress.  Pete, Bill and Jack plan to add more and more stuff – documents, blueprints, videos, anything that people might find interesting.

 

For now, the strength of the site is the history of the PGA Section and its many professionals.  But when we had lunch at St. David’s recently, Pete, Bill and Jack were all interested in growing and expanding their archives in all directions of golf history.

 

Welcome and good luck to the latest golf resource in town, Trenham Golf History.


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Jack Nicklaus 
Only 1 of Nicklausí grandkids plays golf
Monday, January 30, 2012
By Joe Logan

Just when it seemed the storm clouds over golf couldn’t get much darker, Jack Nicklaus laid a factoid on us last week that is truly alarming:

 

Of Nicklaus’s 22 grandkids, only one, 9-year-old G.T., son of Gary Nicklaus, has more than a passing interest in the game.

 

If the greatest golfer of all time, whose grandkids presumably enjoy every advantage and opportunity to get dawn into the game, aren’t hooked, what is the future of golf?

 

I heard this discouraging bit of information from Nicklaus himself last week at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, sitting in on a roundtable discussion on the PGA of America’s latest initiative, Golf 2.0.

 

PGA president Allen Wronowski began the session with an upbeat but less than convincing opening remarks on why Golf 2.0 will be any more effective than earlier well-meaning but largely failed programs.

 

Then, Wronowski turned the microphone over to Nicklaus, who cited his own family to paint just how bleak the picture is.  Here’s a little of what Nicklaus said:

 

We've lost 23 percent of the women in the game since 2006 and we have lost 36 percent of the kids in the game since 2006.  That's not a good stat.

 

     Now, it's not something that we are proud of.  When we finally kept looking at this thing and saying, we need to do something, The PGA of America with their 2.0 program, it's the most comprehensive and complete and well‑thought‑out program and I think it's something to get behind. That's what I'm here to try to help do.

 

You know, this relates to my own family.  I had three of my kids that became golf professionals.  They stopped playing to golf, all three of them have got their amateur status back.  Steve is not a pro but he's a pretty good player and he doesn't play much anymore.  I play about once a month.  My wife doesn't really play.

 

The grand kids ‑‑ I've got 22 grand kids, and I've got ‑‑ they all play a little bit, but I mean, a little bit ‑‑  it's really a little bit, they play less than I do, and that's not very much.

 

Other sports are grabbing attention and time from our kids.  The parents are being dragged to the parks and the park systems and they are playing soccer, lacrosse, football, baseball, basketball, you name it.  And they don't have the time to play golf and the kids are not being introduced to it and that's exactly what you were just saying.

 

 

Nicklaus’ sons don’t play much.  For crying out loud, Nicklaus himself only plays once a month.  He’d rather fish -- or hang with his posse, I suppose.  Or design golf courses that are too hard for 95 percent of today’s average golfers.

 

If you want to read more about Golf 2.0, click here or here.


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Strong venues for local 2012 tournament season
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
By Joe Logan

Not to make too much of the Q&A video with fans that Tiger Woods has posted on his official website, but I don’t think it’s good news for golf or for golf fans.

 

Never mind that the 15-minute, 19-question video is b-o-r-i-n-g. More concerning, it is further evidence of a growing chill between Tiger and the media and his desire insulate to himself from nosey scribes with pesky, embarrassing questions.

 

A little background.  At most tournaments -- all majors and anywhere he is defending champion -- Tiger goes to the media center for a 30-minute pre-tournament sit-down with the assembled media.

 

Lord knows those interviews can be boring, too, often full of softball questions or rambling non-answers from Tiger.  Tiger, after all, has never been one to spill his guts about anything.  In fact, if you read Hank Haney’s book, The Big Miss, Haney confirms that Tiger derives much mystique and power over other opponents by revealing nothing, letting no one inside his head.

 

But since his personal life crack-up, Tiger’s cordial but arm’s-length relationship with the media has deteriorated to the point of open hostility.  Monday, at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, Tiger declined to do the usual press conference and instead posted a video on his website of himself answering fan questions.

 

What’s wrong with that?  Nothing, per se.  I have read a few blogs by people who think the media is getting its comeuppance and deserves the stiff-arm from Tiger.  I won’t argue that point one way or the other.

 

What I will argue is that if this is what we are going to get from Tiger from now on, he might as well go into exile.  Did you get a load of the questions he hand-picked to answer on the video? 

 

-- What have you been working on since the Masters?

 

-- Which is your favorite trophy of the four majors?

 

Bottom line, if Tiger adopts a new communications policy of going straight to the fans, avoiding the media whenever possible, allowing only softball questions to penetrate his personal space, no nobody benefits. 

 

Tiger might think he does, but he doesn’t.  What’s good for golf and good for Tiger is him being compelling.  That fan video he posted is not compelling.


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Merry Christmas
Saturday, December 24, 2011
By Joe Logan

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.


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Jay Sigel 
Jay Sigel belongs in the World Golf Hall of Fame
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
By Joe Logan

I’m a little embarrassed that it took a column by Jim Nugent at GlobalGolfPost to make me sit up and say, "Good point: Why isn’t Jay Sigel in the World Golf Hall of Fame?

 

What makes it even more embarrassing is that I vote every year on who gets picked for the Hall.

 

Until Nugent pointed it out, however, I hadn’t given much thought to the fact in my time as a voter, no amateur’s name has ever made it onto the ballot.  That is determined by strictly pro credentials: At least 10 years on the PGA Tour, two major titles or 10 PGA Tour wins.

 

Of course, in this day and age, who remains an amateur long enough to deserve consideration for the Hall?  With so much money to be made on the PGA Tour, any amateur with a fighting chance turns pro and chases the pot of gold at the end of the golfing rainbow.

 

Come to think of it, the last truly good amateur I can recall not making the leap to the pros was Texan Trip Kuehne, who lost to Tiger Woods in the finals of the U.S. Amateur in 1994.   Kuehne thought he had a better chance of making it as a investment banker, and he has.  Although he is still active and competitive, Kuehne’s amateur career pales in comparison to Jay’s.

 

Kuehne and Jay were the last of a dying breed: career amateurs. As we all know, by the time Jay turned pro at 50, he had fashioned an amateur record that ranks him alongside Bobby Jones and Tiger Woods.   Only after his amateur legacy was firmly in place did Jay decide to measure his game against the pros on the Champions Tour.  Eight wins and $8.6 million later, it’s starting to look like a good idea.

 

But make no mistake, it’s Jay’s career as an amateur for which he will be remembered and for which he belongs in the World Golf Hall of Fame.


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Penn State. Ugh.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
By Joe Logan

For a couple of days there, I was following the latest chapter of Steve Williams Is A Dumbass, shaking my head over how golf had managed to embarrass itself once again. Or how he had managed to embarrass golf.

 

Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, the Penn State Scandal erupted.  It makes you realize just how tame golf’s blunders are by comparison.  And thankfully so.


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tim[11/17/2011 6:25:47 PM]
you forgot about Tiger

Trump National - Philadelphia 
Trump National - Philadelphia must be doing something right
Thursday, October 27, 2011
By Joe Logan

At a time when hardly a week passes that we don’t hear rumors about buzzards circling overhead of some club or course in the area, Trump National – Philadelphia must be doing something right.

 

Since high-flying tycoon Donald Trump took over the erstwhile Pine Hill GC on Christmas Eve 2009, Trump National – Philadelphia has added 200 members, for a total of 360 full golf members.   The goal is 380 members .  To hear GM Eric Quinn tell it, business is so good, they’re planning to add a giant pool that overlooks the Philadelphia skyline in the distance.  They also planning to bump the non-refundable initiation fee from $15,000 to $25,000.

 

In the current economic climate, that’s bold.

 

"The key is the Trump brand," GM Quinn told me Tuesday, after a round to show off some of the changes to the course and the clubhouse.  "That and the fact that Mr. Trump has sunk millions into the club since he took over."

 

Most of the changes to the course didn’t affect me, because they are new back tees on a half dozen holes that stretch the course by 500 yards, to 7,409 yards.  Back tees are in my rearview mirror.   (Naturally, the back tees are now called the "Trump" tees?) The one change to the course that did affect me and all golfers is at the par 3 5th, where a large tee-to-green waste bunker has been replaced by a lake.

 

Inside the 43,000-square-foot clubhouse, Trump has taken the interior from a dark, almost casual Adirondack style to a more formal, white-linen look that Quinn describes as "a statement of elegance."   The locker rooms have also been renovated.

 

Here is a background story on the sale of the club.

 

Given the dreadful state of the economy in general and golf in particular, the real story here is how Trump National – Philadelphia seems to be thriving while most other private clubs and daily fee courses are happy to be treading water.

 

Quinn attributes Trump National – Philadelphia’s newfound success to a couple of things.   First, he says there is no mistaking that the Trump name is a major drawing card.  Potential members like the swashbuckling upscale style the they believe the Trump name connotes.  Quinn hears it  from members they are luring from other clubs around South Jersey; he also hears it from business executives who move to the area and begin searching for a club to join.

 

Quinn also points to Trump’s ability to pour millions into improving the club while so many other clubs are dealing with defections and member revolts over costs. 

 

Finally, Quinn believes more and more people favor the concept of the non-equity club, where members aren’t constantly worried about being hit with assessments for course improvements, clubhouse improvements or various shortfalls.

 

"In our industry, people are saying, ‘I want to go some place that is going to be first class and at the end of the day, I know what I pay – no bill at the end of the year,’" said Quinn.

 

Given Donald Trump’s well-established ability to create a buzz about any project he undertakes, it’s impossible to know what is fact and what is hyperbole.  But I can tell you that the five-year member of Trump National – Philadelphia that we got paired with on the first tee approves of the changes under Trump.  Plus I bumped into another guy I know who has joined since Trump took over.  He also had nothing but good things to say.


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