PRESS PASS
Joe Logan 
 
My official Masters pick. Ugh.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
By Joe Logan

Okay, here’s the thing:  I hate doing "picks" going into a major.

 

Even 10 years ago, when Tiger Woods was at the peak of being Tiger Woods, doing the obligatory "picks" for The Inquirer on the Sunday before each major felt like an exercise in futility bordering on dumbassery.  No fool, I’d pick Tiger as first among my "Five to Watch," but after him, it was like picking lottery numbers.  Still, my editors wanted it, so I did it.

 

All these years later, out of habit, whenever a major rolls around, I find myself doing "picks" in my head.  It gives me a headache.

 

You can spend an hour on the PGA Tour website studying players’ stats and stuff like it was the Daily Racing Form, and you make a what feels like a semi-educated guess.   But golf being golf, it all unravels quickly.  I mean, c’mon, who among us didn’t see Charl Schwartzel coming last year?  

 

That, of course, brings us to this year’s Masters.

 

I might have picked Dustin Johnson, who I think is overdue to win a major, but that putz just WD’ed because of a back injury – something about trying to life a jet ski.  I’m shaking my head here.

 

I like Phil Mickelson, and he is a true Masters stud, but Phil seems to have lost half a step at 41.  I’ve also found myself questioning Phil’s thought processes ever since he started wearing those too-tight shirts with the weird collars.  Any man who can stand in front of a mirror wearing one of those shirts and think he’s good to go, can no longer be trusted to make completely sound decisions on the back nine at Augusta on Sunday.

 

Who else?

 

Luke Donald, who is back to No. 1 in the world now? I want to believe but, sorry, I don’t.  Hunter Mahan?  Possible.  Lee Westwood?  Also overdue, but no. Heck, I could go on like this for a while, but I won’t .  For me, I keep coming back two guys:  Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.

 

Right now, I’d take Rory and Tiger against the field and be happy.  We all saw what Rory did last year in the Masters, right up to his tee shot at the 10th on Sunday.   He is to be greatly admired for the way he held his head high afterward, and for the way he rebounded with his win at the U.S. Open two months later.  He is the first to admit that he has much to prove this year at the Masters.  Don’t bet against him.

 

Still, after that performance at Bay Hill, I keep coming back to Tiger.  Damn, he looks good, confident, determined.  Truth is, he looks "back" in ways I didn’t think was possible.  If you look at the PGA Tour stats, he pretty much leads in every stat that matters.

 

So, why do I feel all queasy in the stomach about picking Tiger?

 

Seriously, why do I feel like a teenage girl who finally broke up with my badass boyfriend, but now he wants back in my life and he’s on the phone, begging?  I know he’s bad for me, and I know can’t trust him, and I can hear my mother in the next room, yelling, "Hang up! Don’t you go back to that boy!   He will hurt you again!"

 

But I’m all weak in the knees.  Please, stop me before I believe again.


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Tiger needed this; golf needed this
Monday, March 26, 2012
By Joe Logan

I don’t know if Tiger is back.  After that long-overdue and commanding victory Bay Hill on Sunday, he sure looks back.

 

Who I do can say is back, for sure, is me – back watching golf.  As I planted myself in front of the high-def, big screen yesterday, I couldn’t remember the last time I had cleared the afternoon to watch the final round of a PGA Tour event, from the introductions on the first tee shot to the tap-in on the 18th.

 

I can’t remember the last time I watched every shot Tiger hit, studied every swing, looking for clues into the State of Tiger.  Was he back for the day?  For the tournament?  Or, you know, really back back?

 

For all the good to great shots he hit yesterday, I thought the look on Tiger’s face was more revealing than anything else.  Gone were the displays of disappointment and disgust with himself and his game we’ve seen of late.  Tiger looked confident, in control, steely, in ways we haven’t seen in...well three-plus years.

 

Until now, we’ve only seen flashes of what we hoped would be "back."  There was his win last fall at his own tournament, which wasn’t terribly convincing.  There were the pair of 68s earlier this at the AT&T Pebble Beach, there was the 62 in the final round of the Honda Classic and there was the 65 on Friday at Bay Hill.

 

But there was also a closing 75 at Pebble Beach, and there was a worrisome collection of missed putts at a variety of tournaments.  Then, there was the limp-off exit at the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral a couple of weeks ago.  When that happened, who among us didn’t go, "Oh, no, here we go again."

 

But this hard-charging 5-shot win at the Arny Invy is enough to get me and millions of golf fans excited again.  Frankly, I’m tired of be smug and disgusted over what and how Tiger imploded his life a couple of years ago.  I’m ready for him to give us a reason to be exited about his golf again.  Now, he has done just that.

 

Of course, it couldn’t some at a better time, only a week before the Masters.  Can you imagine the buzz?  Can you imagine the hype?

 

Golf needs this.  Tiger needs this.  Golf fans need this.


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Gil Hanse 
All hail Gil Hanse
Thursday, March 8, 2012
By Joe Logan

Gil Hanse, homeboy, has been a rising star in the world of golf course design for more than a decade.  Suddenly, he is an international superstar.

 

That’s the effect of his selection Wednesday to design the golf course for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – a selection, we might add, that came over a Who’s Who of finalists: Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Gary Player and Robert Trent Jones II. 

 

It’s almost impossible to overstate what designing the Olympics course is going to do for Gil’s career.  His growing reputation in the U.S. will go worldwide. He’s already designing one course in China but after 2016, with the eyes of the world on Rio, Gil will be in demand in every corner of the earth where golf is beginning to take hold.  He will become one of the leading ambassadors of American golf, mentioned in the same breath with Tiger Woods, not to mention the single most influential golf course architect in the world.

 

"This is a career changer," said golf writer Jeff Silverman, a friend of both Gil’s and mine, when we shared the news yesterday.

 

Gil has already left a substantial mark on Philadelphia golf.  His first solo design project was Inniscrone GC, in Avondale, Chester County.  Then came Applebrook GC in Malvern and French Creek GC in Elverson.  Gil has also done renovation work at Paxon Hollow CC and restoration work at Cobbs Creek GC and Gulph Mills GC.

 

Of course, it was Gil’s work alongside Tom Doak, lead designer of Stonewall GC in Elverson, that gave him the confidence and push to go out on his own and launch Hanse Golf Course Design, based in Malvern, in 1993.

 

Since then, Gil’s work as improved and his reputation has grown exponentially.  Among golf course design aficionados, Gil’s courses are known for their subtle simplicity and purity;  he has become the modern-day master of understatement.  It is a philosophy that is winning him fans, fame and, increasingly, fortune.

 

In 2009, Gil was named "Architect of the Year" by Golf magazine. Just a couple of weeks ago, Donald Trump hired Gil to redo the Blue Monster at Doral.  With his selection to design the Olympics course, the sky is the limit.  Thing is, all this couldn’t be happening to a nicer guy.  Gil is soft-spoken, reserved, humble -- and insanely talented.

 

All over the golf world, people are sitting up and saying, Gil Who?  They are about to find out.


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Rory McIlroy 
The inevitable rise of Rory McIlroy
Monday, March 5, 2012
By Joe Logan

I’ve just finished reading The Big Miss, Hank Haney’s revealing new book on his six years as Tiger Woods’ coach.   I know several people who didn’t like it, dismissed it and accused Haney of betraying Tiger; maybe so, but I couldn’t put it down.

 

Haney has come under some criticism for writing the book at all, even from fellow coaches Butch Harman and Rick Smith, who suggest PGA Tour swing coaches assume a vow of confidentiality, like a priest or any attorney.

 

On the other hand, The Big Miss is No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, a rare feat for a golf book.  That’s because it is the most intimate insider-look we are likely to get at one of the most dominant, remarkable figures in the history of sports.  Haney goes where no authorized biography of Tiger is ever going to go.

 

True, there were several anecdotes and stories that caused me to wince, agreeing that Haney had wandered in to territory that probably should have been off-limits.

 

To wit: Haney writing about what appeared to him to became a rather distant, cool, relationship with his then-wife, Elin, before the crack-up in his personal life.   Haney also writes that at dinners in the couple’s home, when Tiger would finish, he was up and outtathere.  It’s a small thing, but Haney even recalls one evening, when he and Tiger were watching a ballgame on TV together, when Tiger went to the kitchen and returned with a Popsicle for himself, never offering one to Hank.  That small slight stuck in Haney’s craw for years, seeming to perfectly illustrate Tiger’s self-absorption or narcissism.

 

The objection that many people, including me, have about Haney including some of those details is that he came by them as a result of being a frequent overnight guest in the Woods’ home.   Compared to the kind of knife-in-the-back recollections we get in the typical Washington or Hollywood tell-all memoirs, Haney’s stories are tame.

 

Who can blame Tiger for feeling his privacy has been invaded by a man he called a friend.  But let’s be honest: Nothing Haney reveals about Tiger or his marriage is nearly as devastatingly revealing as Tiger’s own self-destructive behavior.

 

Actually, whether Haney and Tiger were "friends" or not is very much a running theme throughout The Big Miss.  Tiger called Haney a friend, and Haney certainly wanted to be his friend, but in the end, he wonders whether Tiger is even capable of true and deep friendships.

 

Much of the book details what Haney believes is the impenetrable bubble Tiger has constructed around himself.  Tiger knows everybody, and he is cordial with plenty of people, often referring to them as "friends." But in his time around Tiger, Haney observes little of what he considers genuine friendship.

 

From Haney’s vantage point, Tiger was never really close to famous athletes like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.  And when Tiger’s personal life exploded, he even shut out the few guys who thought they were true confidants, like Mark O’Meara and John Cook.  Haney knew he certainly was no intimate confidant.  The only two people Tiger seemed close to were his agent, Mark Steinberg, and a neighborhood high school kid he played practice rounds with at Isleworth, Corey Carroll.

 

Much of what I liked about the book is that it confirms so many suspicions we all had about Tiger:  That the expectations heaped on him and strain of being Tiger Woods weighed on him much more heavily than he ever let on; that even at his peak, in 2000-2002, Tiger had much more self-doubt than we knew; that despite his protestations to the contrary, Tiger knew exactly what people (and the media) were saying and writing about him; that Tiger can be an aloof, remote, cold-hearted bastard, even to the handful of people seemingly closest to him.

 

Haney doesn’t knock Tiger off his pedestal The Big MissTiger had already done that to himself.  But Haney does give us plenty of insider information and evidence to show that Tiger was, and is, just another flawed human being, albeit one with nearly superhuman ability and determination.

 

As Haney has pointed out time and again, most of the book is quite positive about Tiger.  Haney regards Tiger as the greatest player who ever lived, even if he doesn’t break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.  Haney is flat-out in awe of Tiger.  He finally just decided that the pressure of being Tiger’s coach and the indignities of dealing with his mood swings, was sucking the life out of him.


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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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