PRESS PASS
Joe Logan 
 
Is all fair in love and golf?
Monday, October 7, 2013
By Joe Logan

At a golf dinner a few nights ago, I sat next to a guy who runs a daily fee golf course at the Jersey Shore.   We touched on a couple of topics that I thought you might find interesting:

 

            -- When a course has recently aerated its green and/or fairways, what obligation does it have to give golfers a heads-up before a round.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        

            My dinner companion believes that it’s not necessary to post a warning, front and center, on the course’s website, or at the cash register in the pro shop.  But if somebody asks point-blank before plunking down their credit card if the course has recently been punched, he believes honestly is the best policy. 

 

In other words, no need to go out of your way, but don’t lie or mislead.   Same thing applies when a course has, say, lost a couple of greens is or undergoing a significant maintenance project that might affect the enjoyment of a round.

 

Personally, I agree with everything he said, but I think courses ought to go one step further.   On the phone, or in-person for walk-ups, tell them about aeration/maintenance projects, even if they don’t think to ask.  Just a friendly oh-by-the-way mention is plenty.  If a course has a monthly newsletter, let regular customers know that way, too.

 

To me, the logic is obvious and simple:  If a daily fee course fails to give golfers fair warning, they absolutely have it coming if those golfers march into the pro shop after the round and announce, "Don’t expect to see me back here anytime soon.  And I’m telling my friends why."

 

With private clubs, the same rules don’t quite apply.  For one thing, the pro shop is more likely to give members a heads-up in its regular emails.  Members of a club also tend to be more familiar with the rhythms of the annual course maintenance, plus they are less likely to go play elsewhere during an aeration.   

 

Bottom line: There is no such thing as too much information.

 

--  That same course operator was unsettled recently when a golfer, hot under the collar, came into the pro shop after his round and began to complain about the pace of play out on the course.  

 

The course operator apologized and even offered to give the guy a replay for a later date.  But that wasn’t enough for the angry golfer and he began making demands that the course operator found unreasonable.   That’s when the angry golfer began to threaten to go on the internet and trash his course on golf websites.

 

"Can he do that?" the course operator asked.

 

Yes, he can, rightly or wrongly -- at least he can on many websites. 

 

The internet has given us all the ability to weigh in an virtually every topic and every issue in the world, but it has also created something of a lawless, Wild, Wild West in certain corners of cyberspace.  Unfair, unsubstantiated, revenge reviews (and overly gushy ones) by readers have been around for a while on websites that review restaurants, hotels and travel destinations; now they are coming to the comparatively civilized world of golf websites.

 

In the case of MyPhillyGolf, I’ve been lucky. When somebody posts a comment or review, I get an automatic email alert.  I can give it a quick read and if I decide it is distasteful or profoundly unfair, I can nix it.  I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve had to do that since we launched in July 2009.

 

The problem is far worse on websites with millions of daily visitors, where reader reviews/comments are coming in by the hundreds, even thousands.  At dinner that night, a woman at the table knew of an angry traveler who exacted revenge on a hotel by going on a major travel website and accusing them of having bed bugs. 

 

 Lately, I’ve been reading that websites such as Yelp, the giant of the restaurant industry, are stepping up their policing of reader reviews/comments.  Good, they need to.  Personally, when evaluating reviews/comments, my rule of thumb is to toss out the highest highs and the lowest lows.  Go for the averages. 

 

 

             


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George W. Bush (Golf Channel photo) 
Golf as the great humanizer
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
By Joe Logan

I was not a big fan of George W. Bush as president.  I didn’t vote for him, either time.  If you gave me a week, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a single decision or appointment he ever made that I agreed with.  It’s strong, visceral dislike I’ve had for the man, which I’m not proud of and at times have a hard time rationalizing.

 

And so, I must confess that I was surprised last night when I found myself not loathing the guy – almost warming to him -- as I watched the former president being interviewed on the season finale of In Play with Jimmy Roberts on Golf Channel. Maybe golf truly is the great humanizer.

 

Full In Play feature

Extended interview

 

President Bush was a golfer long before he entered the White House.  He told Jimmy Roberts, in a fairly rare post-presidency interview, that he was introduced to the game as a 12-year-old at Cape Arundel GC, in Kennebunkport, Maine, at his family’s summer home.

 

During the first two years of his presidency, Bush played occasional rounds.  He wasn’t very good and he wasn’t very serious about the game; he played more as a release from the pressures of the office.  He quit playing altogether during the Iraq war.

 

"I didn’t want some mother whose son had died (in Iraq) to see me out playing golf," said Bush.

 

In the four years since he left office, Bush has become a more frequent player – three or four rounds a week  – and a more committed player. 

 

"I used to go out and hit balls," he said.  "Now I’m trying to be a player.  I’m really trying to get good and learn the game.  I didn’t know the game." 

 

He can now break 80 on occasion.  He shot 77 at Augusta National during an event for the First Tee.

 

In response to all yahoos who attack Obama for playing too much golf, Bush defended the president.  "I know what it’s like to be in the bubble," he said.  "I know the pressures of the job.  I think it’s good for the president to be out playing golf."

 

Finally, something George W. Bush said that I agree with.


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Hogan in skin and ink 
The best tattoo youíll see today
Friday, September 20, 2013
By Joe Logan

So, yesterday I was down at Twisted Dune in Egg Harbor Township to play a round with a dozen golf writers in town, mostly from Canada.

 

I was chatting with one 30ish fellow when I noticed the tattoo on his lower leg: Ben Hogan, in his famous Hy Peskin pose from the 1950 Open at Merion, with the inscription "For Grandad."

 

"Nice," I said, impressed by his commitment to the game.  "Mind if I take a picture?"

 

He said the tattoo was a tribute to his late granddad, who got him hooked on golf when he was in high school.


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Wobblegate and Tiger
Monday, September 16, 2013
By Joe Logan

Just when I thought that nothing about Tiger Woods’ life or career could possibly surprise me, along comes this whole Wobblegate episode on Friday at the BMW Championship.

 

Of all the things I thought we’d have to wonder about Tiger, going fuzzy on the rules of golf was not one of them.  But when I saw the video Saturday morning, I felt like I’d been called down to the station house by the cops to watch indisputable surveillance video of my kid shoplifting or my best friend beating his wife.  My heart sank.

 

Come on, Tiger, that ball moved – not much, but enough.  We all saw it.  Nobody ever said the rules of golf made sense, or were especially fair, but they are what they are, we all have to live by them and they are cast in stone.

 

By Saturday morning, Brandel & Boys on Golf Channel were shaking their heads in collective dismay, or disbelief, over Tiger’s...er, um, failure to readily recognize that the ball did, in fact, move, not oscillate, as he contended.   Truth is, Brandel & Boys walked right up to the edge of calling Tiger a lying’, cheatin’ dog, if you will permit me a bit of hyperbole.

 

They also cut to a report that said a number of Tiger’s peers had watched the video in the locker room and that everyone who saw it was "disturbed."

 

Still, Tiger was said to be "livid" after he watched the video several times with PGA Tour official Slugger White, who, let’s face it, is not going to come down hard on Tour’s marquee player and cash cow unless circumstances warrant it.

 

Tiger’s presser on Saturday:

 

Q.  We didn't get a chance to chat with you yesterday after your round.  How would you best describe what happened there beside 1 green?

TIGER WOODS:  Beside 1 green, I thought it was fine.  Afterwards, frustrated.

 

Q.  Do you feel like the twoshot penalty was warranted?

TIGER WOODS:  You know, it's one of those things where I thought the ball oscillated, and I thought that was it.  I played the shot, played the round, and then Slugger and Tyler in there, they replayed it and gave me two.

 

Q.  In a situation like that, how would you gauge your frustration level?

TIGER WOODS:  I was pretty hot because I felt like, as I said, nothing happened.  I felt like the ball oscillated and that was it.  I played the rest of the round grinding my tail off to get myself back in the tournament and then go from 5 to 7 behind, that was tough.

 

Q.  Was there a sense of, why is this happening to me again in 2013?

TIGER WOODS:  Just kind of the way it's been.  I fought back today, which was not easy to do.  Today was a tough round, but I fought and got myself back within striking distance.

 

Q.  I was going to say, how hard is it to concentrate when something like that happens the following day?

TIGER WOODS:  It's hard.  You know, there were a lot of thoughts going on last night, but the sun comes up in the east, and we start a new day.

 

Q.  After seeing the video did you think that you deserved a twoshot penalty after seeing the video?

TIGER WOODS:  After seeing the video I thought the ball just oscillated, and I thought that was it.  I thought that was the end of story.  But they saw otherwise.

 

Q.  Is this one tougher to take than the penalty at Augusta?  You seem to have moved on from that one a little bit easier.  This one seemed to linger.

TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, the one at Augusta after going through it on Saturday morning, yeah, I did take the wrong drop.  But yesterday I didn't feel like I did anything, and as I said, I described it in there and I said, I moved the pine cone right behind my ball.  I feel like the ball oscillated, and I just left it.  That's not‑‑ evidently it wasn't enough.

 

Q.  And it didn't occur to you that that was going to be an issue?

TIGER WOODS:  No, not at all.  We all have been in the trees before, and things can move and do move, and I felt like I tested it and felt like it just oscillated left and stayed in the same position, but evidently it didn't.

 

Q.  Was it a pine cone or a twig?

TIGER WOODS:  The pine cone was behind my ball, but there was a twig in front.

 

Q.  It looked like on the video that it dipped down, but I didn't see it dip back up.

TIGER WOODS:  As I said, from my vantage point, I thought it just oscillated and that was it.

 

Q.  On the video you didn't see any difference?

TIGER WOODS:  They replayed it again and again and again, and I felt the same way.

 

Q.  It's kind of weird when Slugger would say one thing and you would say another, and doesn't it usually fall on the side of the player?

TIGER WOODS:  I don't know, but I went from five back to seven back real quick.

 

Q.  Motivationally did that change you coming in here today?

TIGER WOODS:  No, today was going to be hard, just like Saturday at Augusta was hard.  When situations like that happen, I had to fight, and I fought my tail off today, and I'm very proud of that, and I got myself back in the tournament.

 

Q.  Did you watch it in the trailer before you turned in your card, and then how many times did you watch it at home last night?

TIGER WOODS:  I never watched it at home.

 

Q.  How much did you argue with them about it?  I mean, did you feel that you didn't get a fair argument with them inside?

TIGER WOODS:  No, we had a very good discussion.  I'll end it at that.

 

 

This is a completely different situation from the penalty Tiger incurred at the Masters earlier this year, when he made a bad drop, then signed an incorrect scorecard.  There, blame should be laid squarely at the feet of Masters officials, who were determined to come up with any rationale not to have Tiger DQed heading into the weekend ratings bonanza.

 

If you don’t believe me, check out the "My Shot" by David Eger in the current issue of Golf Digest.  Eger, a Champions Tour player and former PGA Tour rules official, is the guy who saw Tiger’s bad drop at the Masters on TV and immediately phoned tournament officials.

 

It turns out that Eger and Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters Rules Committee, aren’t each other’s biggest fans.  Here’s a pertinent, juicy excerpt from Eger’s "My Shot:"

 

IN 1998, I qualified to play in the U.S. Open at Olympic. The walking official in my group was Fred Ridley. After Casey Martin, Ed Fryatt and I finished playing the seventh hole, I noticed there was a wait on the eighth tee. The seventh tee also was empty. So, I practiced putting, which is not prohibited at the U.S. Open as it is at the Masters, the PGA Championship and on the PGA Tour. As I was stroking the putts, Fred walked over and said practice putting wasn't allowed. It was a serious objection, because if Ridley happened to be right, it meant I'd incur a penalty. I suggested to Ridley that he check with another official, which he went off to do while I continued to putt. On the tee at No. 8, Ridley returned to inform me that practice putting was indeed allowed. A lot of years passed, but when it became obvious he blew past my take on the Tiger drop, my 1998 opinion of his rules expertise was reinforced. In my view, Ridley's knowledge of the Rules of Golf was, and is, suspect.

I love this stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Sept. 11 is also a personal anniversary
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
By Joe Logan

For every American and millions of others around the world, today, Sept. 11, is a date we remember each year for tragic reasons.  For me, Sept. 11 is also a personal anniversary.

 

Five years ago today, on Sept. 11, 2008, I walked out the door of The Philadelphia Inquirer for the last time, after 26 years.  When I left, I wasn’t sure what my future held.  All I knew was that the trend lines for newspapers looked bleak, that the job I had loved so much was no longer fun or rewarding, and that the Inquirer was looking to trim the newsroom staff by offering yet another round of buyouts. 

 

As I mulled whether to take the leap, I kept coming back to what one Inky colleague told me when he took an earlier buyout:  "You’ll know when it’s your time."  It felt like my time.

 

The idea for a golf website or blog had been banging around in the back of my mind for a while.  Initially, while I was still at the paper, I had envisioned it as an outlet for golf stories that the Inquirer Sports section no longer had the room, or inclination, to publish.  The new Sports editor at the time – now long gone – had made it clear he did not share my enthusiasm for golf. 

 

Once I left the paper, I quickly came to see a golf website as an entrepreneurial endeavor – one that I hoped would fill a need for the local golf community, extend my career as a golf writer and, let’s face it, make money.

 

We launched MyPhillyGolf.com 10 months later, in July 2009.  Just over four years hence, MyPhillyGolf is surviving and growing, still becoming what I imagine it can be.  It has changed and evolved over time, as we have done our best to figure out what golfers and advertisers want and need.

 

There have been a couple of major redesigns and too many minor tweaks to mention.  We’ve added and dropped features, welcomed and bid farewell to bloggers and moved stuff around like chess pieces.  I now realize that it is a never-ending process.  Hardly a day passes that I don’t see something I want to improve or blow up entirely. 

 

Five years after I left the Inquirer, on what was a somber anniversary for the nation, I am happy to report (mostly to myself) that there is life after newspapers.  Building and maintaining MyPhillyGolf has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling – and, at times, maddening – experiences in my life.   With your support, there are many more anniversaries ahead. 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Muni Golfer[9/12/2013 8:13:57 AM]
Joe, while I miss your golf coverage at The Inquirer, I am glad that you started My Golf Philly. Congrats on the four years and keep going. Us Delaware Valley hackers appreciate it!

Golf writers wonít soon forget Bev Norwood
Friday, September 6, 2013
By Joe Logan

When I saw last night that Bev Norwood, longtime publicist for IMG, had died after a brief battle with cancer, I sat down to write a tribute.  Then I saw "remembrances" by two colleagues -- Adam Schupak in Golfweek and Ron Sirak in Golf World -- and decided there really wasn’t much more I could add.

 

If you covered the PGA Tour over the past 30 years, you couldn’t help but know Bev Norwood, and he was very much worth knowing.   Because IMG managed Tiger until a year or two ago, not only did Bev control much of the flow of information about Tiger when Tiger was the Biggest Thing in all of Sports, Bev was just plain fun to know.

 

He was diminutive man, wiry and wry, with a drawl from having grown up in North Carolina. He was also the source of a constant stream of commentary and wisecracks on golf and golfers, life in general and anybody who happened to wander into his field of vision. At tournaments, in the media center, Bev wouldn’t so much hold court as he would walk from one writer of cluster of writers to another, confirming or debunking rumors, or delivering the latest Tiger news that was suitable for public consumption, or just catching up on gossip.

 

One of his best friends was the legendary Dan Jenkins and the two of them (and oftentimes one or two others) would find a corner in the dining room of the media center, a couple of old-timers watching the world go by.  You could see them people-watching, then nodding in apparent agreement over something or somebody, or perhaps just over the absurdity of it all.

 

At night, Bev and often Dan and others would repair to the bar in the media hotel, in whatever city it was that week.   They never seemed to run out of things to talk about.

 

On any number of occasions, I would find myself at lunch tables or hotel bars or sitting around the media center with Bev.  It was always a joy.  By virtue of his job, he knew it all – the people, the places, the dirty laundry, which he was not inclined to air publicly, and all that was about to happen or not happen, if you know what I mean.  That, and his wry, running commentary, made Bev a man to know and like.


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Tigerís aching back
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
By Joe Logan

Watching Tiger Woods crumple to the ground in agony with a "back spasm" during the final round of The Barclays was an awful, painful spectacle, though admittedly more for him than for me.

 

Nowadays, every time we see Tiger, now a high-mileage 38, wince from yet another injury, the prospects of him ever breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors seem ever more remote.

 

The whole thing is enough to make me think back to the old days, circa 2000 and 2001, when Tiger was invincible, winning eight and nine tournaments a year, hitting shots that were previously unthinkable and oozing the supreme confidence of an athlete in total command.

 

The standard line back then was that the only things that could possibly halt the Tiger Juggernaut were a bad marriage or a bad injury.

 

Uh, well, a dozen years later, Tiger has hit the Daily Double in that regard.

 

From afar – and Tiger prefers we all remain afar -- his personal life appears to be no longer in humiliating upheaval.  Of course, who knew what was going on behind that gilded curtain before his notorious Thanksgiving Car Crash ’09?  And who knows when it might all blow up again?

 

But for now, it is the injuries that pose the biggest obstacles in his quest to overtake Nicklaus.  Of course, the laundry list of Tiger’s injuries – knee, knee; knee, leg, wrist, elbow – could prove to be mere annoyances compared to a bad back.

 

As anybody who has ever had serious back troubles can tell you, there is no all-consuming misery like a bum back.  It owns you; it rules your life. 

 

I have some experience with a back injury, although nothing that would get any sympathy from Fred Couples.  During a round five or six years ago, like a fool, I tried to power a ball out of heavy rough – you know, like we’ve all seen Tiger do a million times. 

 

I didn’t drop to my knees on impact but I knew instantly I’d done something to myself that was not good.  I was able to finish the round but by that evening, the muscles from my mid-back down through my lower back had seized up.  The next morning, I woke up in serious pain.

 

It didn’t bother me too much until I played another round a day or so later.  I was in pain on every shot, and it was impossible to take a decent swing at the ball knowing what was waiting for me at impact and on the follow-through.

 

After that round, I gave my back a rest for a few days, but it did little good.  Every time I would try to play, the searing pain would return.  It wasn’t always there on the first tee, but at some point during the round, I would take a swing that left me doubled over, crumpled like Tiger at The Barclays.  I tired Icy Hot, ice, heat, stretching, not stretching, whirlpools and serious couch blobbing.  The relief was always temporary.

 

I quit playing golf for two or three weeks to let the muscles heal.  Full of hope, I made my eventual return to the links.  Bad idea.  Horrible idea.  Two more failed attempts at playing later, I shut it down for the winter, figuring three or four months layoff would surely do the trick.

 

It didn’t.  For the entire golf season, and much of the year after that, the shooting back pains would return during most every round I played – without warning and without mercy  Every time, I’d go, "Here we go again."

 

Knock on wood, my back pain is finally gone.  In hindsight, I realize I was lucky.  Mine was only a pulled muscle(s) that I repeatedly aggravated, nothing compared to spine or disc problems.

 

Anyway, right now, I don’t envy Tiger.  Okay, maybe a little. 

 


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