COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho -- Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had heard of
the golf course with the floating green – not the island green, like the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, but the floatinggreen.But I had no idea it was in Northern
Idaho, of all places, and I didn’t know it was at an upscale resort on a giant
d’Alene Resort and Hotel.
Now I know, and now I have
played (bogeyed) the famous "floating green" at Coeur
d’Alene Resort Golf Course, where a boat actually ferries you from tee to
green, which on the recent day I was there was playing 175 yards (185 into the
To make the trip even more
worthwhile, they threw in a round at the aforementioned Coeur
d’Alene GC, plus a third round at another
course about 90 minutes north, The Idaho Club Lake & Golf Retreat, a swanky affair with pricey mountaintop homes overlooking a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.When we weren’t on the golf course, we
were treated to a couple of sumptuous dinners – the kind where the chef
comes out and explains each course – and a deep-tissue massage at the
There were seven of us
writer types on the trip, mostly from the Western U.S. (San Diego, L.A.,
Portland) and western Canada (Calgary), because all three properties we visited
pull most of their business from the West and Canada.One writer in the group was from
Michigan.I was the token East
Coaster.Northern Idaho is hardly a
destination for gamblers or golfers from Philadelphia but they extended the
invitation and, hey, I’d never been to Idaho.
Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel
Back home in the heavily
populated East, we might be inclined to describe the Coeur d’Alene
Casino Resort Hotel as being out in
the middle of nowhere.Technically,
it is out in the middle of nowhere,
just off the cloverleaf near U.S. Route 95, which is not to be confused with
Here, they think of their casino/hotel
as being a beacon of entertainment, gambling and quality golf free from the congestion
and traffic gnarls of, say, Center City Philadelphia. All I know is that your to get here, you
fly into Spokane, WA., then hop a shuttle bus for the 40-minute ride to Worley,
in the Idaho panhandle.
Naturally, I wondered why they
call it Coeur d’Alene Casino Hotel if
it’s in Worley, 27 miles from the town of Coeur
d’Alene?That’s because just
about everything is called Coeur d’Alene,
after the Indian tribe of the same name.The land, the casino hotel and golf
course are owned and operated lock, stock and barrel by the tribe. Not so for the town of Coeur d’Alene nor
the similarly-named resort hotel.
My fellow writers and I were
in new part of the hotel, where suites are equipped with two big-screen TVs and
floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a sort of botanical garden and preserve.They told me that if I look out the
windows long enough, I might eventually spot a moose or two.I never did, although a moose did wander
by one of our foursomes on the golf course.
I’m not a much of gambler so
the casino downstairs was wasted on me.I walked it several times on the
way to a restaurant and the gift shop, however, and I couldn’t help but notice
it had one of the best ventilation systems I’ve come across in any casino
anywhere.The cigarette smoke
wasn’t that bad.
Circling Raven GC
A two-minute walk from my
hotel room was Coeur d’Alene Casino Hotel’s golf course, Circling Raven.I played it Monday afternoon, half-pooped
from the long flight, and again Tuesday morning, when I was much fresher.
Designed in 2003 by GeneBates, design partner of Fred Couples,Circling Raven is spread out
over a vast expanse of 620 acres.It’s a terrific resort course, with generous, forgiving fairways, big
easy-going greens and vistas of the Idaho countryside and mountains beyond.There’s very little water to worry
about and no beastly forced carries, assuming you play from the proper tees; in
two rounds I lost only one ball, when I plunked a tee shot into an
environmentally protected area.
I’d never been to Idaho
before, but I imaged it would be full of rugged terrain, ski resorts, and craggy
rock formations set against rich blue skies.What I did not envision was a ritzy
high-rise resort and spa on a 25-mile long lake with a marina like you see at
the Jersey Shore.Nor did I expect
to find a $200-plus-a-round golf course that hugs the coastline of the lake,
which is so deep the U.S. Navy supposedly uses it for submarine training and
As pricey as it is, Coeur
d’Alene Resort and Hotel attracts precisely
the kind of affluent clientele you’d expect.The golf course turned out to be not
only much better than I expected, it was as immaculately groomed and conditioned as
any course I can recall playing in years.It’s one of those courses where you are required to take a cart and a
forecaddie. (The forecaddies wear
those white Augusta National-like jump suits and dash around from ball to ball,
with a laser gun.By the time you
get to your ball, your forecaddie has all the pertinent info: yardage, pin placement
and recommendations about where to miss and where not to.
I must also say that in 50
years of playing golf, it was the first time I encountered custom-built carts,
with tilted steering wheels, carpeted floors, tee dispensers, built-in trash
cans and a hood that opened to reveal an ice chest and a place to store sandwiches
It’s a cool hole, obviously,
if slightly gimmicky.If you ask
me, even without the 14th, it’s a memorable round of golf.
The Idaho Club Lake and Golf Retreat
On our last full day, they
piled us back into the shuttle bus for the 90-minute ride northto the town of Sandpoint for a taste of
Idaho that fulfilled every expectation I had.If Coeur d’Alene
Casino and Hotel is a getaway for
casino day trippers, weekenders and "buddy" golf trips, and Coeur d’Alene
Resort and Hotel is a vacation spot
for couples and families with a few more bucks to blow, The Idaho
Club Lake & Golf Retreat is the
private playground for the moneyed class – at least that was the original
It was clear from the moment
the guard waved our bus through the gate, The
Idaho Club was built to be a second club and getaway for people accustomed
to living on Easy Street.Photo gallery.
It’s got a first-class,
rough-hewn Jack Nicklaus Signature
Course that wends its way through the trees and streams, overlooked by
multi-million dollar dotting the hillsides.In the promotional brochure, The Idaho Club notes that the New York Times described Sandpoint as
"Old West Atmosphere in a Sporting Paradise" and Rand McNally named it the "most beautiful small town in America."
All has not gone well for The Idaho Club.Not long after they threw open the
doors, the economy tanked, the housing market bottomed out and the golf boom fizzled.Lawsuits flew, lenders foreclosed, then,
if that wasn’t enough, the magnificent log cabin clubhouse burned to the ground.
Still, The Idaho Club limps on, with a steely resolve and sunny outlook,
if only about 75 members.The people who own it and run it couldn’t be nicer.They are convinced that times will get
better and that The Idaho Club will
live out its potential.I wish them
If anyone is interested in starting a debate
about what is the most-overlooked, under-appreciated course in the area, I
hereby nominate White Manor CC.
I played there last week with a group of 25 or
30 course raters from Golfweek
magazine and, so far as I could tell, every one of us came away highly
impressed – a couple even mentioned being blown away. (Bausch Collection Photo Gallery)
I know that Bradley
Klein, the architecture editor for Golfweek, was
more than pleasantly surprised.And
after the round, over beers and conversation, I talked to raters in town from
Chicago, upstate New York, Maryland and North Jersey who all wanted to know why
White Manor, in Malvern, doesn’t get
more talk and more respect on the Philadelphia golf scene?
I didn’t have a good answer, except to say it’s
a tough league around here.
It’s not like I’m a stranger to White Manor; I’ve played 10 o 12 rounds
there in the past 10 years.I
walked it but didn’t play it in the late 1990s, before the club brought in
architect Bobby Weed (GC at Glen Mills) in 2002 to do a complete overhaul.Boy, did he ever.
With the club’s approval, Weed took out hundreds of trees, transforming White Manor’s original early 1960s layout from tight, tree-lined
corridors to a course with wide-open vistas.Weed
also shifted several green complexes, repositioned and rebuilt bunkers, and
reimagined shot angles across the course.
In those days, White Manor one of a handful of predominantly Jewish country clubs
in the area, along with Meadowlands,
Green Valley, Radnor Valley and Philmont.Not
all the members at White Manor
bought into the idea of the renovation, let alone the cost, and the club
suffered an exodus of about 80 members.There were concerns about the club’s future.
In 2003, when they unveiled the new-look course
to much fanfare in the local media, I was fortunate enough to play the round with
Weed, who painstakingly explained
every change he made on every hole.I remember liking the course, but nothing like I do now.At the time, I didn’t have a full
appreciation of the dramatic changes Weed
and the club had pulled off.Plus,
it somehow felt too new in a city where the golf scene is largely defined and
dominated by classic-era gems.
In the years since the renovation, White Manor has recouped many of the
lost members; the club has also developed enormous pride in its course, with
good reason.No conversation with a
White Manor member goes on too long
before they ask: (a) What do you think of the course? (b) Why doesn’t it get
the love we think it deserves?
Perhaps because of the love denied, White Manor members are constantly on
the lookout for a tournament, a qualifier, an event --anything that will get the course better
known on the local and national stage.
Until my round last week, I thought they were
largely kidding themselves.Yes, White Manor is now first-rate, but even
among modern courses, a couple of locals stood taller in my mind: Philadelphia Cricket’s Militia Hill
course and The ACE Club.
Now, I’ve come to believe that White Manor gives nary an inch to
either Militia Hill or ACE.It has matured and evolved oh-so-nicely
in nine years, and superintendent Donald
Brown had the course groomed to perfection last week.
As much as the course has changed in nine
years, so has the membership – it’s now 60 percent non-Jewish.The golf chairman is a proud Irishman.
Manor has a shot to crack Golfweek’s list of Top 100 Modern Courses, I
don’t know.But I can say
with certainty that it’s no longer a wallflower on the Philadelphia golf scene.
Thanks Joe for your kind words regarding our fantastic course! The Proud Irishman / WMCC
[5/24/2012 5:15:16 AM]
Thanks for the piece on White Manor Joe. A terrific golf course and the Weed renovation work is indistinguishable from what pre-dates it. Glad that the rater group was impressed. I have only played it once thanks to a mutual friend and can’t wait to get back.
In my first three weekly sessions
physical therapist and owner David Ostrow concentrated on "releasing"the major muscles in my hip and lower
back.In each case, Ostrow,a large man with fingers and thumbs that
could puncture a propane tank, spent 40 minutes or more working his fingers
deeper and deeper into my tight and constricted muscles until they finally released.
It’s hard to describe the
resulting sensation, other than to say you get up from his treatment table feeling
like a rusty Tin Man who just got a couple of drops of oil in the right spots.
During each session, Ostrow would explain
why he was doing what he was doing, when he was doing it.He likened the process of
unlocking the new and more limber me to constructing a house.Things have to be done in the proper,
logical order.You can’t build the
roof until you’ve laid the foundation and erected the walls.Four weeks in, we’re still laying
Which brings us to my
hamstrings. With my hip and back muscles, I sort of knew they were tight and
inflexible; it’s hard not to know that when your golf swing has devolved into mostly
arms, without benefit of much shoulder and hip turn.
Eggs, no hammy
But my hamstrings are
another story entirely.I didn’t
to tell me just how bad, how tight, they had become -- I could feel it
myself.For years, I’ve been trying
to stretch my hammys, to little or no avail.I’d work out at my neighborhood YMCA,
where Jim, the PT guy, would get me
down on my back and push of first one leg, then the other.I’d cringe in pain and misery.
Until Ostrowenlightened me, one thing I didn’t realize about the sorry state
of my hamstrings is that they affect so much else, up to and including my
posture when I’m addressing a golf ball.I’m 6-foot-1 and at address, I tend to slump over the golf ball.My back, from hips to head, is not
ramrod straight, as it should be.But
according to Ostrow,
my poor posture wasn’t a back issue so much as a hamstring issue.Get those puppies stretched out properly
and my back would straighten.
Once I was on the treatment
table, it didn’t take Ostrow
long to determine that my left hammy was much tighter than my right.On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the
worst, my left hammy was a 6 or 7 on the tightness scale.Lying on my back, he could only lift my
left leg about 45 degrees off the table before I was crying, "Uncle."Normal is about 90 degrees.
Ostrow rolled me over onto my stomach and went to work "releasing" my left
"It’s the tighter of the
two, and it’s shorter," said Ostrow, as he worked."I envision it as knotted and bunched, like a wound up rubber band."
important are the hamstrings to the golf swing that we will spend the next four
sessions getting them released and stretched out:An hour on the upper part of the
left hammy, an hour next week on the lower part of the same muscle.Then, two weeks on the right hamstring,
upper and lower.
you have a job hazard," said Ostrow."I call
it the executive disorder or executive dysfunction."
millions of golfers, I spend the bulk of my day sitting at a desk in front of a
computer.In the sitting position,
your hamstrings are contracted by about three inches -- even more if you tuck
one leg under the other.This
affliction isn’t confined to desk jockeys – same thing applies sales reps
who spend all behind the wheel of a car.
problem, said Ostrow,
is that over time, you hamstrings comes to believe that the shortened position
is the normal, relaxed position.They adapt accordingly, becoming permanently shorter.Ironically, in our quest to stretch the
hamstrings, we can occasionally do more harm than good.
lot of people stretch too hard, until it hurts," said Ostrow.That, in turn, can activate what he
calls the body’s "stretch reflexor."
we stretch too much, the body gives us pain to warn that you are going to
strain the muscle," he said."The
body’s reaction to that is to actually contract the muscle that is being
following week, Ostrowwas out of town on business, so my
session was with his deputy, physical therapist John LaRue.While Ostrowworked on my upper left hammy, LaRue worked lower down, closer
to the back of the knee.
through the session, as John was
describing several ways in which a bum hamstring limits your mobility, he took
a not-so-wild guess at a case in point: how he suspected I retrieve a golf ball
from the bottom of the cup.
put money on it that one leg comes up, you bend your back down as much as you
can, then give a little in the front knee as you reach down with your left
hand," said John."Meanwhile, you’re learning on your
putter with your right hand."
is exactly how I fish a golf ball out of the cup.
the days since, the work on my left hamstring has made more difference in my
golf swing and, indeed, my non-golfing activities than anything so far.I can bend over more easily.It is a noticeable improvement.
afternoon, we move to my right hamstring.I look forward to it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
whether Haney and Tiger were "friends" or not is very
much a running theme throughout The Big
Miss.Tigercalled 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.
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.
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.
knock Tiger off his pedestal The Big Miss – Tiger 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
have you been working on since the Masters?
is your favorite trophy of the four majors?
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.
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.
Last week at FitGolf
in Conshohocken, physical therapist David
Ostrow released the Iliascus
muscle on the front of my pelvis.This week, to "release" the corresponding muscle in my lower back, he
flipped me over onto my stomach and went to work on my left quadratus
lumborum, which resembles a flank steak, wraps along the side of your back,
between the 12th and 11th ribs.When it become tight and contracted over
time, as my has, it contributes to the asymmetry of my entire body, with my
left shoulder being lower than it should be and my left hip being higher than
it should be.
The resulting affect on the golf swing is that the
rotation on my back swing is restricted.No turn, no torque.No
torque, no distance.
After a few minutes of working on the muscle, Ostrow had me roll over onto my right
side, whereupon he gripped my left pelvis with his left hand and the bottom of
my rib cage with his right hand – and then me began to pull them apart,
stretching my entire left side.
"We are releasing the back muscle," he told me.
It didn’t hurt but it was not altogether pleasant, either.
Afterwards, Ostrow took me out into the main studio to show me a side-stretch
exercise for the coming week.After he demonstrated, I tried it.It felt good – rather, it felt good for me.I won’t mind
doing it all week.
With my swing and my body fully
evaluated at FitGolf
in Conshohocken in Week 1, it was time for David
Ostrow and me to get down to work.The goal in the coming weeks being to
improve my flexibility and range of motion, both of which have more or less
ossified over time.
In Ostrow’s judgment, the place to
start was pretty much a no-brainer: my hip flexor.
In laymen’s terms, the hip
flexor is the group of muscles around the hip and pelvic area that control the
rotation and movement of your hips.In my case, my right side is okay.It’s my left hip and pelvis that are tight to the point that I can’t
rotate properly when I swing a golf club; it’s bad enough, in fact, that when I
walk long distances, I tend to limp slightly or almost waddle because my left
side won’t turn and flex as it should.
"We’re in the Keystone state
and I think of the pelvis as almost being the keystone area of the body," said Ostrow. "It unlocks a lot."
Digging in the Iliacus
Key to addressing my hip
flexor was "releasing" my Iliacus
muscle, a teardrop-shaped affair that attaches to the hip by a tendon, then
heads north before fanning out and attaching across the upper rim of the
pelvis.It helps pull your leg
forward when you walk.
To work on it, Ostrow had me
lay face-up on his examining table and he began working the fingertips of his
right hand into the Iliacusmuscle.He pressed firmly and steadily with his
fingertips without really messaging the area; it didn’t hurt but it was mildly uncomfortable.
Ostrowlikened what he was doing to pressing on skin of an onion until that outer
layer began soften; then he worked his fingertips in a little deeper, until the
next layer of the onion, or my Iliacus muscle, was
soft.Ostrow would continue working
his fingertips until the Iliacus eventually, almost magically, released.
In some people, this process
takes five minutes, said Ostrow; in others it takes three hours.My Iliacustook about 30 minutes to release, which is about average -- and
there was, as always, a warning.
"When the muscle is about to
release, my fingertips get warm to the touch," said Ostrow, holding out his hand for
a moment for me to feel his fingertips.Sure enough, they were warm.He returned to his work and within a few moments, done.
"When it releases, some people
say they feel Ôlight,"said Ostrow. "Some
say Ôlooser."Some say Ôsofter.""
When I stood, I too could feel
a difference.My left hip felt, I
don’t know, looser, freer.When I
took a few steps, my left hip felt like it was moving better.
The point in dealing with my
hip flexor first was to begin to deal with what Ostrow called the "asymmetry" of
my entire body.Because my hip
muscles on left side were so tight and contracted, it actually made my left leg
slightly shorter, which has all kinds of ramifications on other muscles in your
midsection, not to mention your golf swing.
Out in the studio, Ostrow assigned
me an exercise
to do at home every day for five minutes to keep the hip flexor loose.Basically, I lie across a giant rubber
ball, with my left hip muscles stretched out.I’ve done it almost every day and, while
it doesn’t hurt, I do find myself watching the minutes and seconds bleed off
the clock until I can quit.
Seriously, my what
As our second session was
told me what we’d tackle next week; frankly, it sounded a little creepy:For reasons he cannot explain, the
muscles up and down the left side of my upper torso have tightened and shrunk
to the point that my left shoulder is slightly lower than my right shoulder,
and my left hip is slightly higher than my right, truncating the area between
my left shoulder and left hip.
While it sounds bizarre, Ostrow said that
upwards of 90 percent of people have this same phenomenon to some degree.It can happen on the left side or
the right side, and there is no apparent explanation for which side it happens to.The fact that I am left-handed has
nothing to do with the asymmetry affecting my left side, said Ostrow.
What especially surprised me
was that I had never noticed any of this until Ostrow had me standing in front
of a wall full of mirrors examining my reflection.Sure enough, my left shoulder is
perceptively lower than my might.
The golf test
Nothing puts Ostrow’s work to
the test more than playing a round of golf.I did that three days after our session,
on Saturday, monitoring my body at every step.
While my score didn’t drop
dramatically – at all, really -- I could definitely feel difference in my
left hip.I walked better, more
loosely, and at least in my head, I imagined a slight improvement in my hip
rotation when I swung.