PRESS PASS
Beano Cook 
 
R.I.P. Beano Cook
Friday, October 12, 2012
By Joe Logan

If you’re a fan of college football, you might have read today that Beano Cook, the great ESPN pigskin prognosticator, has moved on to the hereafter.  NYTimes obit. Video: The Wit and Wisdom of Beano Cook.

 

Once upon a time, before he was famous, I knew Beano Cook and used to spend hours with him on the phone.  It was 30-plus years ago, when I was a reporter at the Minneapolis StarTribune, writing, among other things, a weekly column on sports media.

 

Back in those days, Beano was the PR guy for ABC Sports in New York, when Monday Night Football was in its heyday and Keith Jackson was dominant voice of college football.  Beano and I would talk at least once a week and oftentimes, two or three times a week.

 

What I remember most about those conversations is that we’d quickly discuss the business at hand – i.e., whatever or whoever ABC was promoting – then we’d spend 30 minutes gabbing and gossiping about everything from the sports departments at the other networks, to what athletes or sportscasters were jerks, to movies, to politics, to comedy. 

 

Beano was so funny and so acerbic, with a New York sense of everything, and it was like getting a one-man performance from Don Rickles.  He knew everything about college football.   I used to say, "Beano, why don’t they put you on TV?"

 

Up to that point, Beano was a voice on the other end of the phone.  I got my answer when I finally saw a photo him.  As smart, quick-witted and lovable as Beano was, he was not the network’s idea of hunky sports talent.  He looked like a middle-aged, balding man and a paunch, who likely took the subway to work.

 

Of course, ESPN eventually became part of the ABC/Disney empire and somebody in power there realized that Beano’s mug be damned, he was a real talent.  They put him on TV and he had a great, long run.  Meanwhile, every time his mug popped up on my TV screen, I’d think back to our wonderful phone conversations.

 

R.I.P. Beano Cook.


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Tiger breaking Jackís record? Ainít happening
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
By Joe Logan

A guy came up to me at a wedding reception last weekend and said, "You’re a golf guy, do you think Tiger will break Jack Nicklaus’ record?"

 

"No," I replied without hesitation and, frankly, without a doubt.

 

Remember when Tiger Woods was winning a major every year, sometimes two a year? (Once, three in a year).  Back then, it was a foregone conclusion that Tiger would not just break Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors but most likely shatter it in spectacular fashion.  I can remember conversations where we kicked around the possibility of Tiger winning 25 or 26 majors before he was done.

 

In 2006, when the U.S. Golf Association announced that Merion GC would host the 2013, I can even remember realizing that Tiger could very well break there record in our back yard, making the East Course the setting for yet one more historic moment in the game.

 

Now, like golf fans everywhere, I watch Tiger and shake my head in dismay over what once was.  I know, I know, Tiger won three times this year, and he has climbed back to No, 2 in the World Golf Rankings.  But he hasn’t won a major since the U.S. Open in 2008, and he didn’t exactly grow his legend with that performance in the recent Ryder Cup.

 

I never thought I would write or utter these words but suddenly, the man can’t putt.  Four- and five-footers, which used to be his stock-in-trade, now bedevil him.  It used to be, the more crucial the putt, the more sure you were that he would bury it.  He was ice.  Not any more. Really, would you be surprised to see him show up at a tournament with a belly putter, or maybe going to the "claw."

 

I read something somewhere not long ago that suggested that Tiger can’t handle the pressure any more.  It’s like his gears have been shredded.  He wants to win majors and Ryder Cups too much now, to show the world that he has indeed fought back to reclaim his rightful place atop the game.  Sounds plausible to me.

 

All I know is, I have finally begun to believe that Tiger will be lucky to win one more major, never mind the four he needs to tie Nicklaus and the five he needs to eclipse him.  I don’t see it happening.


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The Muni Golfer[10/12/2012 11:13:39 AM]
Joe, Hope your hip is coming along. I agree with you. There was also a time when Tigerís worst round at a tournament would be anywhere from one under to one over at the very worst. Now, it seems like he canít put four decent rounds together. How many times this year did we see him get into contention on Thursday or Friday, then shoot a very un-Tiger like score of Saturday or Sunday and go tumbling down the leaderboard. That just didnít happen before.

Why, Jack, why?
Thursday, September 27, 2012
By Joe Logan

Is it just me or was anybody else a little surprised and disappointed to turn on the TV yesterday and see Jack Nicklaus standing on a stage in Ohio introducing and endorsing Mitt Romney.

 

I’ve been a great fan and admirer of Jack Nicklaus for most of my life.  It certainly doesn’t surprise me that he is a Republican or that he supports Romney in the presidential race.  But I must admit, it bothers me that he felt compelled to go so public with his politics.

 

Why? Because to me, Jack Nicklaus is all about golf.  Okay, he’s also known as a family man, a successful course designer and doer of good deeds for various causes and charities.  But mostly, Jack Nicklaus’ public life has always been about having earned the distinction of being the greatest golfer of all time.

 

Now, suddenly, he’s just another celebrity who has inserted himself into the national food fight of politics.  I hate that, because golf is one of my few escapes from the ugliness of modern politics and many other harsh realities of life, especially the realities that divide us as a nation.

 

Would I feel the same if it had been President Barack Obama he was endorsing?  Yes, I  would.   About the only thing I want to see Jack Nicklaus endorse is the next PGA of America initiative to grow the game.


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Jerry Segal and friends 
Time for The Jerry Segal Classic
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
By Joe Logan

I try to stay away from plugs for charity events because there are so many good charities for good causes doing great things.  But from some reason, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for The Jerry Segal Classic.

 

The 23rd Segal Classic is this Friday the 21st, at the ACE Club and Green Valley CC, both in Lafayette Hill.   Over the past years, The Segal Classic has raised more than $10 million to benefit patients at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, which takes on some of the toughest cases around.

 

They’ve still got a few spots left in this year’s Classic.  Here’s a link to the event website.  To play, register here.

 

The Jerry Segal Classic is an all-day thing: breakfast, golf at two of the finer courses in the area and a banquet in the evening.   It is, in fact, the largest one-day charity golf event in Philadelphia.

 

If you are not familiar with Jerry Segal’s story, he was a prominent local attorney whose spinal cord was injured during surgery.  Jerry was sent to Magee and, weeks later, against all odds, he walked out.

 

Segal made a vow then and there to give back to the hospital as much as it had given back to him.  It’s a promise he has never forgotten.


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So long couch life -- Iím back!
Friday, September 14, 2012
By Joe Logan

My life on the couch, I am happy to report, is over.  I’m very close to being back in the game.

 

On Wednesday – six weeks and day since my hip replacement surgery – I paid an office visit to my surgeon.  He studied a set of fresh x-rays, poked and prodded me on his examining table, then pronounced me pretty much good to go.

 

"Everything looks good," he said, clearly pleased with my progress and his handiwork. 

 

My left hip, which is now a foot-long titanium thingy that on the x-rays looks like some kind of  Medieval weapon, is healing nicely.  My right hip, which wasn’t replaced but was sort of cleaned of dead and dying bone tissue, is regenerating, just as the doctor hoped it would.

 

Can I finally lose the crutches, I asked my doctor?  Yep.  The cane?  Not unless I need it for balance until I get my strength back, he told me.

 

"Now the big question," I said.  "When can I play golf?"

 

"Any time, now," said my doctor, much to my surprise.  "But you might to go with an easy swing for a while." 

 

He smiled.  I smiled.  

 

When I got home, first thing I did was take my crutches and my cane down to the deepest, darkest recesses of my the basement.  With any luck, I’ll never need them again.  Then I went for a walk around my neighborhood.  I was a little weak and a little wobbly, but I’ve gotta say, it felt good – and no pain.  Seven weeks ago, before the surgery, the 50-foot walk to the mailbox felt like somebody was stabbing me with an icepick on every step.

 

Tomorrow morning, my plan is to hit a bucket of balls, two or three buckets, if I can muster the stamina.  I won’t push it, though; I’m still a little afraid of the twisting and turning involved in pulling off a golf swing.  If it turns out all I can manage is chipping  and a few pitch shots, I’ll take it and be happy.

 

On Monday, I start the serious three-times-a-week rehab work to rebuild my strength.  Six weeks of doing almost nothing has left my lower body weaker than I could have imagined.  For now, I am taking three or four walks around my neighborhood every day.  I can feel I am getting stronger.  It feels good.

 

 

 


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Joe Logan[9/19/2012 11:10:29 AM]
I did hit a bucket of balls, from wedges to driver. My hip felt a little tender, and I was definitely pooped afterward. But it felt good to be outdoors hitting golf balls. My plan was to play a round this week. On Monday, when I went to my first rehab appointment, the physical therapist told me Iím not ready yet for a full round of golf. He said it was okay to chip and putt, maybe hit a few pitch shots, but that my hip was not ready to take the pressure and torque of a full swing. He wants me to hold off for a couple of weeks while he puts me through a series of strengthening exercises, both in his office and at home. So thatís what Iím doing. Much as I hate to wait, I think he is right. I donít want to damage my hip in my rush to return.
The Muni Golfer[9/19/2012 10:59:17 AM]
Glad to here things are going well Joe. I do echo Steve, take it easy with the swing until the strength is fully back.
Steve[9/14/2012 6:00:49 PM]
Donít overdo it. Swing easy and youíll be surprised.

Life on the couch
Monday, August 27, 2012
By Joe Logan

It is four weeks since I had hip replacement surgery and I’m doing much better, thanks.  I’m getting around on crutches, and I’ve been able to cut way back on the painkillers, meaning my head is clear – at least clear by my standards.

 

This past week I even began to putt on the living room carpet.  I cannot tell you how good that felt.  It’s the simple pleasure in life.  In another couple of weeks, I’ll start out-patient rehab to build up the muscles in my legs and hip.  My return to golf, however, is still four to six weeks away.

 

Limited as I am, I’m afraid I’ve spent way too much time stretched out on the couch, watching TV.  The result is, I have come to hate TV.  I’ve got the deluxe cable package that cost about as much as a car payment  -- a gazillion channels, premium movie channels galore, On Demand – and I still can’t find a damn thing I want to watch.

 

I cannot abide reality shows – any and all of them.  "American Idol," I hate it.  "Big Brother," I hate it even worse.  "Dancing with the Stars?" No, thank you, I’d rather not.

 

I have come to loathe and avoid local TV news in ways I never did before.  Every day, all day, from morning til midnight, it is nothing but a unending assault of the worst humanity has to offer: punks killing punks over drugs, in neighborhoods I wouldn’t go into on a bet; crooked politicians; perverts; thieves; innocent children getting caught in crossfires, fires that are almost always arson.  It’s horrible and depressing and no way to spend a day. 

 

The only thing worse is flipping around the cable news channels, like Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.  They are as predictable as they are hyper-partisan.  And just when I think it the network hosts are the most insufferable, unbearable people on earth, they prove me wrong by showing the talking-head idiots and buffoons who are the Congress of the United States, which is the scariest thing of all.  These people are in charge?  God help us all.

 

Books

 

To get away from it all, I have found myself reading more.  Books have become my refuge.  I finished the Steve Jobs biography I had started weeks ago, then quickly polished off Frank DeFord’s breezy memoir, "Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter."  

 

Needing my golf fix in some fashion, I made my way to the wall-to-wall bookcase of golf books that dominate my home office.  I’ve got hundreds of golf books, most of them sent to me by publishers, ranging from instructional manuals to travel books, novels to biographies, collections of stories and essays to 20-pound coffee table picture tomes – great stuff and trash that should have never been published.

 

Right away, I dove into John Updike’s literate collection of essays, "Golf Dreams," for what must be the 10th time.  I took another run at "Golf in the Kingdom," the cult classic that I have never understood, appreciated or been able to finish, for that matter; once again, I got bogged down pretty quickly.

 

I started rereading another of my favorites, "The Fine Green Line," the account by Wall Street Journal golf scribe John Paul Newport on his year-long effort to make it to the PGA Tour.   If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  Newport, a Texan with a Harvard degree, is such a wonderful writer the book is impossible to put down.

 

I read a few chunks of "My Usual Game," the delightful collection of essays by David Owen, who writes for Golf Digest and The New Yorker.  Owen has such a light touch I am jealous.  I’m also spending time with a book Owen co-edited, "Lure of the Links: Great Golf Stories," with everything from formal treatises by Bernard Darwin to modern-day stories by Jaime Diaz, Dan Jenkins and Rick Reilly.

 

One book in particular caught my eye, Michael Bamberger’s memoir, "This Golfing Life."  Bamberger, of course, is the senior writer for Sports Illustrated who lives in Philadelphia.  He also happens to be a friend of mine, dating back to our days together at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

 

I don’t recall "This Golfing Life" getting much publicity or fanfare when it came out in 2005.  That is a shame, because it deserved better.  I am enjoying it again, page by page.  Bamberger is one of the best golf writers of his generation, and his knowledge of the game, the golfing scene and the people who inhabit it is second to none.

 

Bamberger knows everybody and he’s been everywhere.  He wrote two books about his time caddying, for crying out loud: "The Green Road Home," about the PGA Tour, shortly after he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania;  and "To the Linksland," about his time on the European Tour, which he wrote with his then-bride, Christine, in tow.

 

Truth be told, I figure into one chapter of "This Golfing Life."  It’s the chapter about his years at the Inquirer, which he joined shortly after the publication of "The Green Road Home."  I wasn’t the golfer writer at the time but I was known around the office to be a golfer, so they gave me the book review.

 

As Bamberger tells the story, my review was very close to  rip-job, and it was published just as he was interviewing at the Inquirer.  He worried that my review might cost him a job offer, which it did not.   Later, after he had joined the Inquirer and we had become friends, he called me out on the review.

 

"You ripped me," he complained.

 

"Ah didn’t rap ya," he recalls me saying, mocking my Southern drawl.  "Ah, lukewarmed ya."

 

Even if that anecdote wasn’t in the book. "This Golfing Life" would still be worth the price of admission.   

 

No matter how fast I read, the stack of golf books next to be reading chair seems to grow.  Next up is "America’s Gift to Golf," a collection of golf writing by the peerless Herbert Warren Wind.

 

I also intend to reread John Feinstein’s memorable account of a year on the PGA Tour, "A Good Walk Spoiled."  Next time you’re in a bookstore and see that book, check out the blurb on the jacket cover: If you plan to buy only one golf book this season, A Good Walk Spoiled is the one – The Philadelphia Inquirer.

 

I wrote that sentence as part of a review of about a half-dozen golf books that all landed about the same time one year.  They’ve run that blurb on the cover of "A Good Walk Spoiled" ever since.  For years, whenever I would bump into Feinstein at a golf tournament, he would thank me and say, "The check is in the mail."  Yeah, sur.  So far, no check.

 

Also in the stack is are a couple of books by James Dodson: "Final Rounds," "The Dewsweepers."

 

I could go on.  I haven’t even put a dent in the list of books I keep pulling down from my bookcase.   If I’m missing a particular favorite of yours, let me know.

 

 

 

 


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Steve[8/27/2012 7:07:44 PM]
Hi Joe, I suggest some humor for you, in particular, Dan Jenkinsí Fairways and Greens,a collection of short stories. I particularly like The Perfect Driver. You will too.

For Augusta National, the damage is done
Monday, August 20, 2012
By Joe Logan

Everywhere you look today, Augusta National and chairman Billy Payne are being heralded for finally inviting two women to join the vaunted host club of the Masters.

 

Key word: finally.

 

This is all fine and good.  I’m sure former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore will be wonderful additions to the club.  They are certainly everything Augusta National was looking for in a couple of, well, dames: accomplished in their careers, very proper, very rich, comfortable in world of the Old Boys’ Club, and the kind of golfers who know to pick up their ball when they lie 8 in the fairway.

 

Still, if you ask me, this all comes just a little bit too late.  I think the damage to Augusta National’s reputation is already done.

 

The unfortunate thing is, Augusta National has worked so hard in so many respects over the years to be a good and proud corporate citizen.  They conduct the Masters with the kind of precision and eye for detail that is unmatched by the USGA, the R&A or the PGA of America.

 

For the TV viewer, they keep TV commercials to a minimum.  For patrons at the tournament, they keep the tickets, the sandwiches and the beer artificially cheap.  For the players, they keep the field small and uncluttered and the perks unbelievable.  For the good of charity, Augusta National gives millions and millions of dollars to worthy organizations that need the money.

 

Strictly from a selfish standpoint, for the media, they give you the finest media center in the business and they give you run of the clubhouse.  I cannot overstate the guilty pleasure of lingering over lunch on the balcony of the Augusta National clubhouse, enjoying a simple turkey club, sweet tea and the peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream

 

That’s the irony and shame of this whole membership dust-up.  Members of Augusta National, as you can imagine, tend to be men of wealth, influence, intelligence, conscience and pride in their sense of civic duty.  Look no further than two members: Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Comcast chairman Brian Roberts.

 

It is precisely because these men are who they are that I have found it so confounding for the past 10 years that they so steadfastly refused open the membership to women as a matter of principle.

 

Who’s kidding whom?  They did it because they could.  They did it to demonstrate that nobody but nobody was going to push them around -- nobody was going to strong-arm or shame them into opening their doors to anybody they didn’t want.

 

"At the point of bayonet" is how former club chairman Hootie Johnson put it back in 2002, when he was resisting pressure from Marta Burk to embarrass Augusta National into inducting a female member.

 

Hootie and Augusta National made their point back then, but that what cost?  Well, at the cost of painting themselves into a corner.  By waiting so long, by showing everybody who’s the boss, they’ve managed to damage their brand in the process.

 

Every year a the Masters, Augusta National wanted to talk about their considerable and noble efforts to grow the game among poor kids and in impoverished counties around the world, which was fine. But they got snippy and irritated when the media started asking questions about elephant in the room. It was almost surreal, and it surely wasn’t the kind of demonstration of PR crisis management you expect from guys at the helm of America industry.

 

Give Billy Payne and Augusta National is moment in the sun.  But face it, when the eyes of the world were on them – eyes that included their own daughters, granddaughters and young people looking for some wisdom, -- they handled it clumsily. 


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One Putt Dan[8/24/2012 5:23:38 AM]
Do they have to build a new set of ladies teeís?


 
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