GOLF CHRONICLES
The dollar bill in question 
 
 
Wish me luck in the Conrad Cup
Thursday, June 19, 2014
By Joe Logan

Now that the U.S. Open is behind us, I can turn my attention to perhaps the most anticipated event on my personal golf calendar.  I refer to the Conrad Cup, a heated intra-family competition that takes place every summer during our annual beach week in North Carolina.

 

Named in honor of my late father, the Conrad Cup, which is coming up on it’s 25th anniversary, is a dog-eat-dog – or, more accurately, a brother-in-law eat nephew-in-law, battle royale each June when my two sisters and our families descend on Emerald Isle for the one time of the year that we all get together.

 

No money is at stake in the Conrad Cup, only pride, dignity, suffering and humiliation.  Each evening after the round, somebody’s got to trudge up the steps to the beach house with his head hung, to be met by wives, sisters, fiances and assorted offspring, all trying to access the day’s outcome by the looks on our faces.

 

"Oooohhh, Joe does not look happy..." is an often-heard refrain from the peanut gallery. 

 

The actual Cup is a coffee can, which my sister Eleanor created years ago by painting it green, in the spirit and color of golf, then mounting it on a pedestal made of three golf balls.  Fancy, it is not.   Coveted, it is.

 

The field for the Conrad Cup is so-so.  There’s my brother-in-law Dan, from Raleigh.  He’s married to my baby sister, Jane.  Dan has been a good player for years, with a handicap that never climbed above the high single digits.  Dan is almost 10 years younger than me and he’s at least 10 yards longer than me off the tee.  He’s most dangerous with a putter in his hand.

 

There’s also Cole, from Durham, who is married to my niece, Julie.  Cole, who is 15 years younger than me, is also mid- to high-single digit player, and he also hits it past me.  A criminal defense lawyer, Cole hates to lose and he is not above resorting to gamesmanship if he thinks it will give him an advantage.

 

Then there’s me, a former mid-single digit player, whose game has been eroded by Father Time and two titanium hips that cost me considerable distance off the tee.  There’s also the undeniable fact that I’ve never met a putt I couldn’t gag.  My trend lines are not headed in the right direction.

 

In the early years, when my father was alive and still playing golf, we’d go out as a threesome – me, him and Dan.  Dan and I would call our match the Conrad Cup. We had some hard-fought matches, often punctuated with trash-talking and frequent cases of lock-jaw when one of us was facing a two-footer that meant something.

 

Eventually, my father turned 90 and put away his clubs for good.  But that was about the time Cole married into the family, launching a whole new competitive era of the Conrad Cup.   In fact, the last few years of the Conrad Cup have been the best.  We found a new and better golf course to host the Cup, and we all enjoy each other’s company.  Besides, what could be more fun (or agonizing for the loser) than a hole-by-hole review of the day’s Cup doings over dinner with the entire family.

 

For a stretch of three or four years, Dan dropped out of the Cup.  He couldn’t take the time away from work to make the trip, but he was also having knee issues that prevented him from playing much golf at all.  Then it was just Cole and me, mano a mano, for the Cup.

 

We all have our favorite matches and memories from the Cup.  If Dan or Cole want to boast of their victories, they can get their own blog.  Personally, my favorite Cup memory is from 2008, when it was just me and Cole.  We both were on top of our games the whole week, back in the days when we both were shooting in the mid- to high-70s.

 

Anyway, that year, the Cup came down to the final round, the final hole – a big, beefy 566-yard par 5, a classic cape hole design, with a tee shot that is about an 180-yard carry over a lake, into a banked fairway that turns left and wraps around the lake.  It’s a three-shot par 5 for sure, and the third shot is over the lake again, into a peninsula green that is buttressed and surrounded by heavy planking, like the island green 17th at TPC Sawgrass.

 

With the Cup on the line, Cole and I both had knots in the pits of our stomachs as we stepped to the tee.  Naturally, the previous 71 holes of very good play by both of us went straight out the window.  Trying to bite off too much of the dogleg, we both hit our tee shots into the lake.   We reloaded and found the fairway on our second tee balls.  But the our horrors were only beginning.

 

Lying three, I pulled my 4th shot into the lake, giving Cole just the opening he needed.  Too bad for him that he stone-cold topped his 4th into the lake.

 

By then, our grand finale hole was becoming a comedy of errors, as we both wilted under the pressure.   Going for broke, we each hit another ball in the lake, then Cole hit one more in for good measure.  That’s when I thought he was going to throw himself into the lake.

 

Now, it was on me.  Lying eight in the fairway, with a 9-iron in my hand, I took one last look at the flag and pulled the trigger.  As soon as I swung, I knew I hadn’t gotten all of it. 

 

"Go, ball, gooo" I yelled.

 

The ball landed on the planking fronting the green, bounced straight up into the air like it had hit a cart path, then came to rest 18 inches from the hole. 

 

I laughed.  Cole howled.

I won the hole, and therefore the Conrad Cup, with a 10.

 

As a reminder of that most satisfying of victories, stuck in the corner of the mirror over my dresser is a dollar bill that Cole gave me that day, with the inscription:  THIS IS THE EXACT WIDTH OF THE BOARD THAT SAVED YOUR ASS!!!

 

In all the years, the Conrad Cup has been cancelled only once.  That was last year, when Dan couldn’t make it to the beach and I was in the hospital undergoing hip replacement surgery.  It rained most of the week, anyway.

 

So, as you can imagine, we are all excited about this year’s Cup, which will be contested next week.  It promises to be doozy.  Dan will be back this year.  His knee is apparently better, and he is back to playing plenty of golf.  Plus, he recently retired his set of 25-year-old Titleist irons in favor of a brand new set of Mizunos. 

 

The pre-Cup trash-talking, posturing and excuse-making has already begun, mostly in a series of emails between me and Cole.   Because I now clank when I walk, I am trying to negotiate a stroke or two a side, or maybe special dispensation to play from the Senior tees.  Heck, I might even create a Senior Division and declare myself the winner.

 

Cole is claiming his game is rusty because he has only played five rounds since November, owing to some cockamamie problem with his elbow.   But he says he’s not worried, because he’s got a plan.  He’s threatened to steer the conversation toward politics, which he knows will get my more liberal blood boiling.

 

"You won’t make it past the turn," Cole wrote in an email, no doubt cackling as he typed.  "That’s the secret weapon."

 

I told him that was cheating, like winning a bass fishing tournament with illegal bait.

 

Anyway, wish me luck.


Send to a friend
2 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  
Jane Sellers[6/19/2014 9:11:25 PM]
Itís a shame you wonít be able to use those fabulous, I mean, fictitious, new golf head covers I knitted you. :-)
Dan[6/19/2014 9:10:30 PM]
Its ok to hit from the senior tees with me. Heck, you can hit from the ladies tee if you wear a dress.

How I watched, or didnít watch, the final round of the U.S. Open
Monday, June 16, 2014
By Joe Logan

We’re all very happy for Martin Kaymer.  Well, done young man.  He applied the precision and excellence of German engineering to a U.S. Open and came away a big winner.  Very impressive.

 

Now let me say this: B-o-r-i-n-g.

 

I mean, it’s not Kaymer’s fault or anything, but for the first time ever, I found myself watching the final round of the U.S. Open on my iPhone.  Technically, I wasn’t even watching, I was only checking in on the leaderboard every few minutes by refreshing my U.S. Open app.  If Kaymer had faltered, or if anybody had mounted a serious challenge, I would have made my way into the house and plopped down in front of the big-screen, high-def TV to watch things play out.

 

But it never got close.   And it was nice day – Father’s Day – and both my grown kids were over, and a couple of friends, and we had steaks, and my daughter had baked a special cake, and the weather was so pleasant out on the patio that, what the heck, how could it get any better than this?

 

It couldn’t.  Anyway, it’s not like the highlights wouldn’t be available on SportsCenter and Golf Channel.

 

In a way, it’s hard not to feel bad for the USGA.  Of all the thought and preparation that went into the Open, and the good luck with the weather, one thing the USGA never could have predicted or controlled was a wire-to-wire blowout victory that robbed their grandest spectacle of pretty much any and all drama.

 

Sure, there was the back story of Phil Mickelson trying to finish off the career Grand Slam, but that horse was out of the barn after Thursday.  And there was the heartwarming story of Erik Compton and the flourish of Rickie Fowler, but those are storylines that TV producers push when there is not battle to the finish to showcase.

 

I’m not complaining.  It was a special Father’s Day for me and for Martin Kaymer. 


Send to a friend
2 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

There is hope for golf and humanity
Monday, June 9, 2014
By Joe Logan

Every now and then something happens that should make us all proud of the game we love and the character golf seeks to instill in those who play it.  One of those things happened over the weekend, when a 24-year-old pro from Tennessee who had played his way into the U.S. Open via a 36-hole qualifier, DQed himself five days after the fact, citing a guilty conscience.

 

Jason Millard, a mini-tour rabbit with one start on the PGA Tour this year (missed the cut at the Honda Classic), had shot 68-68 last Monday at the sectional qualifier at Colonial Country Club in Memphis.  It was enough to get him into his first Open, the biggest opportunity ever for the former standout from Middle Tennessee State.

 

But there was a problem.   Millard could not get it out of his mind that he thinks he might have accidently grounded his club as he stood over a shot in the bunker of the 18th at Colonial, his 27th hole of the day.

 

At the time, Millard consulted a rules official on the scene, who advised him that the decision whether to call a penalty on himself was his and his alone to make.  Nobody else saw it.  It was on him.

 

Millard didn’t call the penalty and went on to qualify for Pinehurst by one shot.  But for five days, it kept eating away at him.

 

"I'm pretty sure I grounded my club in the bunker," Millard told the USGA, Jason Sobel wrote for GolfChannel.com. "I didn't see anything for sure, but I felt something and I saw a small indentation. It happened so fast, I really don't know 100 percent but deep down, I believe I did.

"I couldn't find peace about it. For five days, I practiced and I couldn't get it off my mind."

So Millard did the only thing he could do, if he wanted to live with himself.

The whole thing is enough to give me hope for humanity, especially for golfers.  Golf takes a lot of heat these days about being in decline, or being the extravagant province of rich, self-important country club types who too often adhere to the life principle of winning-at-all-cost.

There certainly is that side to golf, and it is neither pretty nor good for the future of golf.  But as long as there are people in the game like Jason Millard, who will do the right thing in golf and in life, there is hope.


Send to a friend
2 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Stupid game. Why do I have to be addicted?
Monday, May 26, 2014
By Joe Logan

I was about to tee off with my usual foursome this morning when one of the guys, Tim, said to me, "Hey, you haven’t updated your blog in quite a while.  What’s the matter?"

 

What’s the matter?  What’s the matter?

 

This, after he and his partner in golfing crime, Stan, took $20 off me and my partner, Jack, on Saturday.  And they would take another $20 off of us today.  And why?  Because I stunk. 

 

How can I even think about writing an intelligent blog post about golf when I am wandering so hopelessly lost in the dense, dark forest of golf?  You know, even when you are playing your best golf, they say you never "own" the game;  you can only "rent" it.  Right now I couldn’t rent it with a Platinum Amex card.

 

Strangely, this all comes after a couple of months of me driving the ball straight and solid.  But now, inexplicably, I have entered into another dimension of suckedness.  I hit tee shots sideways.  Fat.  Smother hooks.  I pop them up.  Today, I even topped one, which I never do.

 

Tim was only too happy to pull out his iPhone to videotape my driver swing to show me where it was all going wrong.  I use the term "swing" loosely, when in fact we are talking about a move that has devolved into more of a spastic lunge, or some kind of seizure, than an actual pass at the ball.

 

Of course, what’s wrong is all in my head, which leads to it getting into my swing.  For some reason, I can’t swing through the ball; I quit at impact.  I’m trying to guide it.  If they could hook me up and do some kind of brain scan during my tee shots, I’m sure it would look like an electrical storm.

 

For a time today, I left the driver in my bag and went with my good, reliable friend the 3-wood, until that rotten bastard betrayed me, too. 

 

A couple of times, after I hit tee shots that went so far off line that I almost collapsed in a heap, I would look at Tim and Jack and Stan and they would be standing there stone-faced, pity written all over their faces, like those monkeys that see on evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  Once, all three of them averted their eyes rather than bust out laughing.

 

Most baffling of all, just when I am sapped of all self-confidence and filled with self-loathing, I’ll crush one right now the middle.  Where did that come from?  Why can’t I do that every time?

 

The thing is, I’ve come to understand that these bouts of driver yips come and go, although lately they’ve been coming more than going.  And once they come, they stay too long, like a mooching relative. 

 

I could take a lesson, I suppose, but why bother?  Like the last time the driver yips barged uninvited into my life, they stayed until they were ready to go.  I can spend hours on the range pounding balls -- one straight rocket after another.   What’s the problem?  I ask myself.  I’ve got this thing figured out now.

 

But somewhere in the walk from the range to the first tee, the stomach starts to churn and the demons in the back of my head start whispering, "Psssst, Joe, we’re still h-e-r-e."

 

Stupid game.  Why do I have to be addicted?


Send to a friend
1 Comment   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  
Eleanor[6/2/2014 2:06:47 PM]
I guess this means you wonít be a contender for the Conrad Cup this year.

Bausch Collection adds four more courses, total now 192
Monday, May 5, 2014
By Joe Logan

It’s barely spring time but Joe Bausch, intrepid photographer and Chronicler in Chief of the Bausch Collection of golf course photo galleries is a it again.

 

So far this early season, Joe, who doubles as a chemistry professor at Villanova University, has added four more courses, raising the total number of galleries in the Bausch Collection 192.  More courses are on the way.  The latest additions are:

 

Pennsylvaniva

Bethlehem Golf Club

Butter Valley Golf Port

Fox Hollow Golf Club

 

New Jersey

Stone Harbor Golf Club

 

Each time Joe adds a new course, it offers the opportunity to re-post the video I shot of him working his magic when he played last fall.  Here is it:


Send to a friend
1 Comment   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Observations from 2014 Masters
Monday, April 14, 2014
By Joe Logan

n  Bubba Watson is better than we suspected, even after his first Masters win two years ago.  He is also getting better, evolving from a one-dimensional, hot-headed long-bomber into a much more complete player.  He went about finishing off the Masters (and Jordan Spieth) yesterday like a cold-blooded assassin.

n  If there is such a thing as horses for courses, Bubba Watson has found his track in Augusta National.  He could win the Masters two or three more times before he’s finished.

n  No adult male should be named Bubba.

n  Jordan Spieth is also better than we suspected, even if we already suspected he was very, very good, if not the second-coming of Tiger Woods.

n  Which was more impressive, that the 20-year-old Spieth played his way into a share of the lead going into Sunday – in his first Masters, no less --  or the incredible poise and maturity that he showed through out the week, most notably after Sunday’s disappointing finish.

n  That said, you knew Spieth was toast late in the front nine – the first time he slammed his club in the ground after a lousy approach shot.  You know that Bubba saw that, and you know that Bubba knew then that the Masters was his to lose.  To his credit, Spieth did not do a full Sunday meltdown (see Rory McIlroy, 2011).  He held it together to shoot even par. 

n  Jonas Blixt sounds like something you’d call an iPhone app.

n  Not having Phil and Tiger around on the weekend wasn’t as bad as most of us initially feared.

n  That Masters theme song with those tinkling piano keys has seemed so charming for so long.  Why is it starting to get a little cloying?

n  The guy who comes away the most disappointed in himself could very well be Matt Kuchar.  If he is going to start winning majors, his time is now.  But he fizzled again on Sunday, shooting 74.  Afterward, the always jovial Kuchar looked like he’d been hit by a bus.

n  It’s hard to know what to like more about Miguel Angel Jimenez, his warm-up routine or his ponytail.

n  Even more cloying than the tinkling piano keys is this absurd business of referring to Masters "patrons."

n  Why, why, why does Rickie Fowler insist on pulling his hat down over his ears?

n  On Golf Channel last night, they pointed out that since 2003, six of 11 Masters winners have been left-handed (Weir 2003;  Phil 2004, 2006, 2010; Bubba 2112, 2114).  Has Augusta National become a lefty’s layout? they asked. Intriguing question.

n  There is nothing like the Masters to remind you that the big-screen, high-def TV is the greatest invention since, what, penicillin? The internet? The beer helmet?

n  Did you even realize that Stewart Cink (T-14) and Darren Clarke (T-44) had made the cut?

n  Among the 50-somethings, Fred Couples (T-21) gets all the love and TV time but Bernhard Langer (T-8) deserves the respect.

n  It’s time for Joe T. Ford, the former Augusta National chairman who does those "Welcome to the Masters...." lead-ins to step aside.  Sorry to say it, but the drawling Arkansas native embodies the stereotypical image of Augusta National’s members – old, white, rich.

n  In all candor, I never did get excited about that Drive Chip & Putt contest Augusta National hosted last Sunday.  I felt guilty every time they re-ran the highlights.

n  Did you freakin’ believe Bubba’s tee shot at the 13th on Sunday?

n  During the opening ceremonies Thursday morning, it was impossible not to notice that Arnold Palmer is walking with a pronounced limp these days.  Looks like a bum hip to me.  As a guy with two titanium hips, I can’t help but wonder what kind of pain he might be in, and what kind of choices he might be facing at the age of 84.

n  No. 14 is a better hole than it appears on TV.  I have played Augusta National twice and I know that for a fact.  It may have the most unforgiving green on the course.

n  Craig Stadler looks like the box Kevin Stadler came in.

n  I wish I didn’t believe that Tiger had won his last Masters.


Send to a friend
1 Comment   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

The golf season is finally here!
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
By Joe Logan

And we’re off...This being April 1, up here in the Northeast, the 2014 golf season is officially underway.

 

It’s a little nippy outside as I write this, but the Weather Channel insists it will be clear and just shy of 60 degrees by late afternoon.  If you can’t sneak away for an afternoon round, maybe you can stop off at a driving range on the way home from work to hit a large bucket.

 

This day – this spring -- has been long in coming.  I’ve lived in Philadelphia  for 32 years and I cannot remember a winter that was so nasty, so relentless and so unforgiving.  Of course, maybe that’s because I’m suddenly tiptoeing around the ice on twin titanium hips.

 

I like to think of myself as a glass-half-full kind of guy, however, so I believe that as miserable as the winter has been, the spring an summer will be our big reward.  They will be glorious, at least they will if there is any justice in the universe.

 

I cannot wait to truly break in the new set of irons I bought at the end of last season, or the new 5-wood I ordered off the internet out of boredom and frustration, or the matching hybrid I added to the bag in late February, just because I liked his brother the 5-wood so much.

 

In my last blog three weeks ago, I mentioned that the forecast looked good enough for the coming weekend and I was going to try to get in the first round of the year.  Three golf buddies and I did, at Scotland Run GC, in South Jersey, where the weather was perfect and the course was brown and dormant but otherwise terrific.  I had played Scotland Run in several years and I’d forgotten what a great layout it is.  A nod of respect to architect Stephen Kay.

 

I even shot a video of the round, which I posted under Latest Videos.  If you missed it, check it out:

 

 

 

 

Masters

 

Nothing gets a golfer’s juices flowing like the Masters.   I miss going.  I miss spending all week in Augusta, walking the golf course for hours, hanging for hours at certain spots (Amen Corner, behind the 6th green, 15th green), visiting with friends in the media center and, last but not least, eating lunch with my old colleague Bill Lyon on the balcony of the clubhouse.

 

"I’ll have the club sandwich on toasted white bread, please, and the peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.  And a glass of iced tea." I could repeat that line in my sleep, and probably do.

 

I haven’t returned to cover the Masters since 2008, after I left the Philadelphia Inquirer.  But as a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, I am entitled to go to the Masters for a day mid-week, on Wednesday, to attend the GWAA annual meeting that morning in the media center.  After that, I’m free to spend the day on the golf course, which truly is one of the greatest pleasures in any golfing life.  That night, there’s the annual GWAA dinner and awards banquet, where the food is so-so but the company can’t be beat.

 

Okay I’ve just talked myself into going next year.

 

 

Masters, Part II

 

This could be the first Masters in more than 15 years in which neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson is a factor.

 

Phil seems to be stuck in the mud.  So far this year, the three-time Masters champ has finished T-19th, 14th, W/D, T-42nd, T-19th, CUT, T-16th and W/D.   That last W/D, just last week at the Valero Texas Open, was prompted by a back muscle he strained while hitting a shot.  It did not sound encouraging for the coming season, and surely not for the Masters.

 

Tiger, a four-time Masters winner, is faring no better.  In his limited schedule so far, he has finished T-80th, W/D, and T-25th.  Tiger is so battled scarred that he pulled out of Bay Hill, one of his favorite tournaments, before it ever started.  He says it’s unclear whether he’ll be good to go in Augusta, but my expectations are nil.

 

Bottom line is, we could be witnessing one of the most important changing-of-the-guards we’ve seen in a generation.

 

 

Sean O’Hair watch

 

West Chester’s Sean O’Hair continues to struggle through his own bad patch.

 

The 2005 PGA Rookie of the Year had to re-earn his PGA Tour card for this season and, so far, the results are at best mixed.   His missed four cuts in his first five starts, although he did manage a nice T-5th during that period at the Franklin Templeton Shootout.

 

Since February, O’Hair has been all over the place again.  He finished T-56th at Pebble Beach, missed the cut at The Honda.  There was one bright spot, at Bay Hill, where he shot 69-67 on the weekend, to finish T-10th.  But then he missed the cut last week in Texas.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 


Send to a friend
1 Comment   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  


 
MyPhillyGolf.com
  About MyPhillyGolf
  The Traveling Golfer
  Blog Archives
  Photos
  Reviews
Special Features
  Advertise with Us
  Course Finder
Links to Other Golf Sites
  EWGA- Philadelphia
  European Tour
  Philly Publinks
  USGA
  PGA Tour
   © 2017 MyPhillyGolf.com All Rights Reserved
   Privacy Policy | Terms of UseDeveloped by AppNet Solutions