As the sun begins to slowly set on the 2014
golf season, a few odds and ends come to mind:
--- Once or twice a year, I’ll get a call from
an old friend I grew up with in a small town in North Carolina.He’s quite successful and he’s an out-of-town
member of Merion.He brings up
friends or business associates for a weekend of golf at Merion, and he’ll
occasionally invite me to fill out their foursome.
My friend was up a week or so ago, and I got
one of those calls.We played
Merion on beautiful fall Sunday morning.If golf gets any better, you couldn’t prove it by me.
The day left me with a few lasting impressions:
(1) Merion truly deserves all the accolades and
U.S. Opens.It is a special place
in American golf.No matter how many
times I play it, I find something else to appreciate.
(2)Your good friends in life are your good friends for life.Alex and I have known each other since
before kindergarten and we’ve never lost touch.We’ve played golf together since we were
about 9, and I swear his swing hasn’t changed a bit.I’m convinced that your golf swing is as
personal as your fingerprint.How
these Tour pros remake their swings every year or so is beyond me.
(3) Life is precious.Alex updated me on another of our boyhood
friends who is battling cancer.It
didn’t sound encouraging.This is
one of the most vigorous guys I have ever known.You never know when your time is coming,
so don’t waste a day.
--- My goal for the season was to get my
handicap back down to the high single digits.I would have settled for 9.9 USGA
Index.It didn’t quite happen.I’m ending the season with an 11.4 Index.
For somebody who was once as low as a 3, that’s
discouraging.But on the other
hand, at my worst, when I had bum hips, then newly-replaced hips, I was a 15
Index.So I’m fighting my way back
Actually, my swing feels better than it has in
years.I’m getting stronger and I
no longer worry on every swing that one or both of my titanium hips will pop
out and I’ll crash to the ground in agony.
--- Two of my good golf buddies are sort of
sideways with each other now.I
don’t know how long it is going to last, but I hope they are back to normal
soon.It’s weird and
--- I’m still having a hard time wrapping my
head around the PGA Tour’s wraparound season.Yesterday, I tried watching the first
round of The McGladrey Classic in Sea Island,
Ga.After about five minutes, I was
so bored I was starting to tidy up around my house.Golf should be winding down this time of
year, not winding up.
---About this time last year, I wrote a blog
post about my favorite round of the year:It was at the Militia Hill Course at Philadelphia
Cricket, where I was a guest of my daughter’s boyfriend, Quinn.Rounding out the foursome was
Quinn’s dad, Mike, and my son Travis, who had just returned from a year in
Kuwait with the Pennsylvania National Guard.
This year, for my favorite round, I’ve got to
go with the same course and the same folks, minus Travis, who was out of town
that weekend.The reason?After we’d hit our tee shots on the 18th,
Quinn came over to me sitting in the cart, next to his dad, and said, "I’m
planning to ask Kelly to marry me and I’d like to have your blessing."
Now, is that a fine and proper young gentleman
or what?I was honored and
thrilled, and I know Mike was proud of his son.
When I was in high school, I
played most of my golf with my buddies.Our families all belonged to a little small-town country club down South
and we were, for better or worse, the golf team.
But some days, I (or we)
would get paired on the first tee with an older gentleman who was gray-haired
and must’ve been retired because he seemed to play golf every day.Nice man.I don’t remember much about him, except
that he was what I have come to think of as a "One Club Guy."
Oh, he had a driver, or
something that more or less qualified as his driving club.Driver clubheads
were much smaller back then, and his was small even by the standards of those
days.It was permission, like
drivers used to be, and it was all scuffed and scratched from years of use.
One Club Guy also had an
ancient-looking putter that he probably inherited from his Dad, or maybe bought
at K-Mart 30 years earlier.And he
had some kind of rusted-out lofted club, like a 9-iron/PW, that he used around
the greens and whenever he was in the bunker.
But by far, One Club Guy hit
most of his shots with One Club, this kind of clumsy-headed mid-iron-looking
thing that served the purpose of about nine clubs, from his 3-wood down through
his 8-iron.I suppose it was sort
of forerunner of today’s hybrids.At the time, I’d never seen anything like it, and I have no idea where
he got it.
One Club Guy would hit his
driver off the tee (unless he was playing it safe with the One Club), then he
would proceed to bunt that One Club thingy up the fairway until he got to the
green.He could only advance
the ball 75-100 yards at a time, and he wasn’t very good anyway, so you can
imagine how many times he might whack that One Club on a par 5.Over the course of a typical round, he
must’ve hit that club 40 times or more.
What has me a little
concerned is that I might be gradually becoming One Club Guy.
I’m not quite there
yet.I still carry 60-, 56- and
50-degree wedges, and I still hit my PW thru 6-irons, and I’ll pull the 3-wood
once or twice a round.But I’ve got
this 22-degree TaylorMade hybrid that I hit, I don’t
know, 15 times a round.
I’ll often hit it twice on a
par 5, I hit it on all long par 3s and, increasingly, I hit it on any shot from
about 160 yards through 205 yards.If I’m playing to an uphill green, I’ll even hit it from 150 yards.I haven’t carried a 3-iron in years, I
pulled the 4-iron out of my bag around three years ago and I’m not sure why I
still lug around my 5-iron.I’m
even hitting my 6-iron and 7-iron less than ever.Why should I hit them when my trusty One
Club hybrid will do the trick?
There are bigger things in
life to worry about, and I do – when I’m not obsessing about my slow,
worsening slide into One Club Guydom.
I worry about what kind of
world we’re leaving our kids.I
worry about the clown car of yahoos that Congress has become.I fret over the world of crap going on
in the Middle East, and it has gotten so I watch less and less pro football
because I get queasy at the sight of another player lying motionless on the
field after getting blindsided to the head.There is all kinds of stuff to keep me
up at night.
When you put it that kind of
perspective, I suppose, the prospect of getting paired on the first tee with
some kid who thinks of me as his One Club Guy is not so bad.Still, I’m not happy about it.
There can’t be any fan of Philadelphia radio
who won’t be saddened to learn of the death this morning of WIBG-AM and WOGL-FM
legend Don Cannon at the age of 74. For a time, Cannon also hosted "Inside
Golf" on Comcast SportsNet. He will be missed.
I got to know Cannon more than 25 years ago, when
I covered the local radio scene for the Philadelphia Inquirer, before I ever
wrote a word about golf.What I
remember most is that Don Cannon enjoyed life about as much as anybody I’d ever
Off the radio, Cannon was an avid and pretty
good golfer.We must have played a
dozen rounds together over the years.Once, I was his "guest" in the weekend Member-Guest tournament at his
club, Cedarbrook CC.We didn’t win anything but we laughed a
lot.As much time as Cannon spent
on the golf course at Cedarbrook, he probably spent
more time in the card room, just off the locker room.
In 2000, I played a round with Cannon and his
best buddy, Bobby Rydell, the teen heartthrob, for a story
for the Inquirer’s Sunday golf page.
Here’s a passage from that story about Cannon’s
Cannon is a
different story. He's got game. His legs weren't much to look at in those shorts,
but his swing was. It's fluid, natural and athletic, the swing of a man who has
aged well and has entirely too much leisure time on his hands. Cannon maintains
a 13 handicap at Cedarbrook, but it has been lower -
single-digit lower - and he still pulls off the occasional shot that is beyond
the grasp of a 13-handicapper.
problem, in as much as a man as happy with his life as Cannon is can have a
problem, is that into each round he sprinkles a few chunks, tops, chilly-dips,
foozles and flame-outs, which cost him big-time.
day at Blue Bell, for example, Cannon opened with birdie-par-birdie-bogey,
before stone-cold topping one into a festering pit of nastiness at the fifth,
setting the stage for a dreaded double-bogey.
had it for the few first holes," Cannon moaned in frustration.
Rydell, good friend and sage
counsel that he is, looked at Cannon with pity. "Remember," he said,
"you never own it, you only rent it."
nodded at the grim reality and drove on.
Cannon actually comes with a certain golf
pedigree. When he was growing up in Yonkers, N.Y., when dinosaurs still roamed
the planet, he caddied at Elmwood Country Club. But he had actually started
playing the game in third grade with a couple of neighborhood buddies, Wes and
Jon Voight, who were pretty serious about the game
because their father was a club pro. Jon Voight, you
may know, would later have some success as an actor.
Don Cannon The legendary voice of Philadelphia Morning Radio
passed away Friday morning August 22, 2014 after a brief and sudden illness. He
Don Cannon’s voice was a top rated morning radio fixture in
Philadelphia spanning five decades starting in 1969 with WIBG (WIBBAGE) through
his retirement in 2004 from WOGL 98.1. "Cannon in The Morning" entertained
millions of people each day for thirty five years as the handsome and
entertaining radio star on WIP, WFIL, WIFI, and WSNI and Oldies 98.1 WOGL. Don
also spent time on the management side of the industry as Program Director of
WSNI and WPGR. From 1990 until his retirement in 2004 WOGL FM 98.1 was home to
the legendary "Cannon in the Morning"
Cannon, born Dominic Canzano is
considered by many as one of the main originators of conversational, irreverent
humor based personality morning radio that opened the way for future talent
like Howard Stern. First to release top selling comedy albums based on his
on-air humor and listener pranks, Cannon is a member of The Broadcast Pioneers
who regard him as the "Dean of Philadelphia Morning Radio" because of
the benchmarks, success and contributions he made to the community and
Throughout his career and into his retirement, Don worked with
hundreds of charities, raising millions of dollars throughout the region and
was awarded the March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement Award.
Cannon an avid golfer was also the host of "Inside
Golf" on Comcast Sports Net.
His signature voice and style that was a morning staple for 35
years in Philadelphia and then globally online for listeners tuning into WOGL,com is also part of motion picture history. Cannon’s
signature voice with a smile was part of a pivotal scene from the original
"Rocky" motion picture. As Sylvester Stallone readied for his run throughout
Philadelphia it was Don Cannon’s energetic voice on then WIBG that was Rocky’s
soundtrack to drinking his signature raw egg drink.
Cannon is survived by his wife Terri and sons Chris, who
continues the family dynasty in Philadelphia broadcasting as a talent and
manager, Russell in Las Vegas, grand children, family and millions fans who
will never forget their moments connecting with the legendary Don Cannon.
A service for family, friends colleagues and the public is
schedule for Sunday Levin Funeral Home 4737 Street Rd, Feasterville-Trevose, PA 19053.
We’re coming down the home stretch of another
summer and Joe Bausch, Villanova chemistry professor and curator of the unique and
comprehensive array of golf course photo galleries that is the Bausch
Collection, has wasted no time.
Since my last update on the Bausch
Collection, in early May, Joe has added another 30 new course galleries,
plus revisited and updated another 13.The total number of course galleries has grown to 223.
The New York Times has a
today on the evolution of Rory McIlroy, as the young winner
of the British Open seeks to charm a new generation of golf fans.
In it, Times golf writer
Karen Crouse mentions that McIlroy’s ascension comes
just as we find ourselves in the "autumn of Tiger Woods."
The autumn of Tiger Woods. I
love that.It so perfectly
describes the slow career fade-out that Tiger seems too helpless to stop or
even slow.But with every major,
every tournament, we are faced with more evidence – doses of reality --
that Tiger’s run of domination is over, that he will never come close to
recapturing what he once had.
Remember those days when it
was a foregone conclusion that he would top Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18
majors?Heck, who didn’t
think Tiger would ultimately win 25?
Now, we are left to wonder
how long he will play.We he retire
at 40?He always said he would hang
it up when he could no longer win.These days, does he still have the inspiration and desire?
It’s not time yet to think
of Tiger’s career in the past tense, but it’s not too early to begin to ponder
the great sports question:
Who was the greatest golfer
of all-time?Jack, with his 18
majors, longevity and a Masters title at 46?Or Tiger, who shot across the sky like a
meteor, a mesmerizing figure who dominated golf for a decade like even Jack
Every September, Pine Valley, the most
exclusive club in Philadelphia – maybe in the country – opens it
doors to the general public for one day.It’s called the Crump Cup, named for the club’s founder.
Consider this a heads-up that non-members can get
an up-close look at two more very good, very private clubs in the area in the
coming days.If you can make it to
either one, or both, you’ll thank yourself.
On Wednesday Applebrook GC in Malvern, a 2001 Gil Hanse design,
will host the Philadelphia Open, the
most prestigious event on the annual calendar of the Golf Association of
isn’t longby modern standards,
6,815 yards from the back tees, but it is choice real estate and, dare I say,
one of the finest modern courses in the area, rich in subtleties and nuances.
It was also designed to be a walking-only
course, which will become evident when you realize that several of the tees are
only steps away from the last green, much like the first green and second tee
at the Old Course in St. Andrews.
Then, next Monday, July 28, Bidermann
GC in Wilmington, which I have dubbed the "Most Exclusive Course You Never Heard Of," will host a qualifier for the U.S. Mid-Am.Again, we’re talking about a very
place, which began life as a private course on a DuPont estate.
Given the success of the U.S. Open at Merion GC
last summer and Aronmink’s GC’s guest-hosting of the AT&T National in 2010
and 2011, why in the heck does a historic hotbed of golf like Philadelphia
still not have a regular stop on the PGA Tour?
Whatever your feelings about golf, this hole on Philadelphia's
scorecard is, like the Phillies front office, difficult to comprehend. After
all, if you were ranking potential PGA sites by purely objective standards, few
cities would seem to compare.
Consider some of the Philadelphia area's attributes
as a golfing venue:
Its golf history and traditions are as rich as
those of any American city.
It's home to dozens of classic courses, including
two of the top 10 - No. 1 Pine Valley and No. 6 Merion - in Golf Digest's
rankings of America's top 100.
It displayed Tour-worthy passion and interest
during those two AT&T events at Aronimink and again during last year's U.S.
Open at Merion.
It's the nation's fifth-most-populous city and
fourth-largest television market.
All good points.Fitzpatrick goes so far as wonder aloud
why the biggest, baddest corporation in town, Comcast, owner of NBC Sports and
Golf Channel, doesn’t step forward to bring a tournament to town?
It is the same
question I asked in the Inquirer in 2002, in a post-mortem
column on why the SEI Pennsylvania Classic couldn’t make a go of it at
Waynesborough Country Club.I, too,
went so far as to propose a Comcast Championship:
So, imagine, if you will, the $5.7 million Comcast
Championship at Waynesborough, Aronimink, Merion or maybe that new ACE course
they're building in Lafayette Hill.
Imagine a prime date, maybe in late June, when the
weather is perfect, the kids are out of school and everybody is not at the
Now imagine Pat Croce out there working the golf
circuit, talking up the tournament to the players, pointing out to the players,
by the way, that Comcast owns their beloved Golf Channel and would very much
appreciate it if they supported the event by vying for the $1 million winner's
You think things would fall into place?
happened then and, I suspect, nothing will happen now.If the golf-hungry crowds at the AT&T
at Aronimink, and the fever pitch of the Open at Merion, couldn’t jumpstart a
conversation at Comcast to sponsor at tournament in Philadelphia, nothing