The 11th coming of Tiger and the USGA’s misstep of the month
Saturday, December 6, 2014 By Ron Romanik
The eleventh coming of Tiger: Yes, he’s back. Yes, the swing looks good. But he
will never be free of health issues while he plays. In this
Vine Video, watch how he’s still popping that left leg. His left foot
slides and turns its position on the ground.
Tiger’s first coming: Tiger was not impressed with his performance at the
1997 Masters, as reported in Golf Digest later that year, and recalled in
this Tweet from Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey. Tiger said he
"got away with murder" and saw "10 flaws in his swing" after watching the
entire televised tournament on tape.
Dan Jenkins doubling down: Jenkins breaks his Twitter silence Thursday with a
passing jab at Tiger’s first round performance at his invitational tournament, then
swings and shanks another "fake"
article about the Ryder Cup Task Force proceedings. Dan, sometimes picking
out a target aloft in the sky cures the shanks.
USGA misstep of the month: Geoff
Shackelford reported that the USGA has ruled out a convenient train stop at
Chambers Bay during this year’s U.S. Open. Once again, ticket-buying patrons
will have to endure an interminable shuttle bus ride, this time 17 miles.
Private Hole of the Week: Radley Run’s finishing
hole is one of the best in the Philadelphia region. But hard, every step of the way. To
have a legitimate shot at par on this long par four dogleg left, you have to
carry 250 yards to a fairway that slopes away from where you want to go. The
second shot, even with a mid-iron, is no bargain either, uphill to a shelf
green. And there’s plenty of fun to be had on the green to avoid a three-putt.
Public Hole of the Week: The second hole at Pilgrim’s Oak, in southern
Lancaster County, also plays long with a frustrating driving area. If you get
up to the crest of the ridge, you’ll have a mid-iron approach to a raised green
that looks like it has no depth. Aim for the middle and take your par, and feel
lucky for that.
Non-golf pointer of the week: I caught an episode of "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" recently that was actually compelling. It’s hard
to believe it’s really "In Depth" if it’s only 20 minutes of program,
especially when he splits the time between two guests. But in this episode with
doping cyclists Floyd Landis and Tyler
Hamilton, they reveal how
astoundingly different superstardom is. Landis explains how Lance Armstrong was
virtually untouchable, flouting airport security rules with abandon. Landis
admits: "The rules, as much as [Lance] didn’t believe they applied to him,
really most of the time didn’t apply to him."
Dan Jenkins shanks one into the Woods: After a satirical
fake interview with an imaginary Tiger appeared in Golf Digest,
long-respected golf writer Dan Jenkins needs a mulligan in the worst way. If
you missed the original article, I’ll save you time: Don’t bother. There’s just
no getting around the fact that the fake interview is falls flat as satire,
regardless of whether you think it is funny or not—or whether it rings true
or not. Satire is tricky business, I concede, but it seldom works as mere
More enjoyable reading, for the unnecessarily
flamboyant prose, are Tiger’s written
angry response, and the
letter from his agent to Golf Digest. Ever defiant, Jenkins Tweeted on Nov.
18: "My next column for Tiger: defining parody and satire. I thought I let him
off easy." Study those definitions carefully, Dan, because you’re still missing
the point. If your goal was merely to insult a person, as your tweet confirms, then
you succeeded. Next time, have a loftier goal.
Obligatory Tiger comparison: Tiger
dropkicked the ball once. Once.
Probably only once. Ever. (Not counting his Dan Jenkins response.)
Which reminds me: The
worst shot I ever saw on TV has to be a fairway wood shot by the notoriously
gifted short game wizard Brad Faxon. From my memory,
it was a three-wood shot off an uphill lie, and Faxon
stone cold topped it, the first bounce a mere 30 yards ahead of the strike. No
need to dwell on that, except that Faxon also fits
into this week’s theme of self-righteous personalities.
Random observation: Who is
left to carry the rebel torch of shoulder-length hair now that both Rickie
Fowler and Charley Hoffman have gone "under the scissors"? And where’s that truth-to-power-spokesman
Frank Lickliter when you need him? And how does a guy
like Lickliter go 62-62 in the pressure-packed first
two rounds of Q-School one year and fail to keep his card the next? A fickle
Non-Golf Item Pointer: If you
missed the Lenny
Dykstra interview by 97.5’s Mike Missanelli
earlier this year, do yourself a favor and click it. Lenny is quite open about
his life and mistakes, but the most interesting parts are when explains how he
approached the game with every possible angle scrutinized for exploitation. One
of my favorite parts is when he explains how he made pitchers work for every
out and extend the pitch count. As a leadoff hitter, this gives valuable
information to your teammates right off the bat, so to speak, and, after all,
Dykstra explains, "The first two strikes are yours."
Private Hole: Hole No. 11 at Philadelphia
Country Club is a medium-length par-three of about 170 yards with a green that
sits like an ornamental shelf in the hill behind it. The green is relatively
flat, but relatively shallow, so positioning yourself below the hole is
critical for a birdie chance. Trepidation on the tee comes mostly from judging
the distance and picking the correct stick to land comfortably pin-high.
Public Hole: Another hole that plays much
harder than the first perception from the tee is the par-three 4th hole at Cobbs Creek. The short, flat hole is fraught with peril,
both physical and psychological. There’s something about the visual impression
that makes committing to a shot feel too much like a guessing game.
Prediction Update I: No
sooner did I remark that Bubba Watson is the most exciting golfer on Tour than
he won the World Golf Championship in Shanghai in the most exciting fashion
possible. Bubba holed a long, miracle eagle bunker shot to get into a playoff,
then birdied the same hole a few minutes later to close it out.
Prediction update II: Michelle
Wie is bringing it home. I predicted a
breakout year for Wie back in February. With a
U.S. Open win and a Rolex
Annika Major Award under her white belt (or white sans-a-belt slacks),
she’s in a virtual tie for the lead with Stacy Lewis for the women’s version of
the FedEx Cup heading into the weekend of the LPGA Tour Championship.
USGA makes Hy Peskin photos available; LPGA’s colored balls
Friday, November 7, 2014 By Ron Romanik
For golf history buffs: The USGA Museum now has the "HyPeskin
Collection", where you can purchase
Hogan’s one-iron follow-through at Merion for as little as $245. Other graceful
follow-through pictures include Sam Snead, Barbara Womack, Mickey Wright, and, ahem,
Arnold Palmer. Come to think of it... Did Arnie ever hold a follow-through?
What’s missing: Not all the golf pictures made the jump from the HyPeskin
website, and the only one left there
is Hogan’s one-iron thumbnail, which links back to the USGA Museum site. One I
wish they would put back up for sale is a picture taken about 10 minutes before
the one-iron shot, as Hogan and Cary Middlecoff were
strolling through the valley in front of the 17th green. Middlecoff
is wiping sweat off his brow, visibly shaken on his way to a 79. Hogan’s demeanor
is as steely and resolute as ever. Also missing from HyPeskin’s site are tasteful glamour portraits of young
ladies with no tops that were there last year. I guess that was all part of the
USGA negotiations. The USGA Museum collection does, however, include two
versions of "Sam Snead with Car." I believe it’s that stylish 1950 Nash
Rambler, in case you were curious.
TIL (Today I Learned): Cary Middlecoff won more pro
tournaments than anyone else in the 1950s. Also, his legs were of unequal
Going Deep: And
because the 1950 U.S. Open was so epic, I point you toward a picture of the awards table that year, after the full-round playoff between Hogan, Lloyd Mangrum, and George Fazio. Lloyd Mangrum
looks as dapper and as devil-may-care as ever, but his squint might belie his
disappointment. What was bugging him was probably the bug he shooed away by
picking up his ball on the 16th green, which earned him a two-stroke penalty
when, at the time, he was only one stroke behind Hogan.
Because I can’t help myself: My Bubba Love continues despite his inexplicable and completely
indefensible decision to pass on the long drive exhibition during the practice
round of the PGA Championship. He’s still one of a shrinking number of players
that is truly fun to watch. In the second round of the HSBC World Golf
Championship overnight Thursday, Bubba hit a big, high cut out of the rough with fairway metal 250 yards to a green guarded by a
creek in front, for an easy two-putt birdie. Who else can pull that off? Then,
later, he chipped in twice in a row, once with a flopped sand wedge and once
with a bumped fairway metal. And he nearly chipped in a third time in a row on
18 for an eagle. Bubba finished with five consecutive birdies for a 67.
Random observation of the week: Non-white golf balls are back. And yes, I begrudgingly
approve. But the colors must be limited to the following: white, yellow,
orange, pink, lime green, and purple. To be honest, I’m not so sure about purple.
At one recent LPGA event, one threesome had three different color balls, and a
few PGA players are even experimenting with impure hues. (Full Disclosure: I
played orange ProStaffs in high school, and I might
regret that, but I’m not sure.)
Word of the day: Polychromatic; adjective. Having multiple colors. Used in a sentence: Piet Mondrian paintings sure are
In medias rant: "...and if you’re going to wear Mondrian shorts on the golf course, pick
the right color ball, for chrissakes. If you can’t
find one to match, please just use basic white. It’s not as difficult as
matching a white shade at the paint store, you know. All white golf balls are
pretty much the same white..."
Duval will have a resurgence in 2015. I’m not sure why his 68 on Thursday in Jackson,
Mississippi, gives me reason to believe, buthe deserves some irrational hype—and hope—now and then.
Prediction II: Adam Scott will use his broomstick putter up to the last possible day,
hour, minute, or second that he is allowed to use it. Or until they pry it from
his cold, dead hands.
Trump is a comedian, and let’s be done with Ted Bishop firing
Saturday, November 1, 2014 By Ron Romanik
Media topic you really don’t need to think about: The precise punishment that Ted Bishop deserves,
after his Twitter catfight with Ian James Poulter. It was very
unfortunate, he was justly fired, but now it’s time to move on already.
Speaking of attention seekers: Donald Trump claims "TGCFKAPH" (The Golf Course Formerly
Known as Pine Hill) rivals Pine Valley. He’s a comedian now; or maybe was all along. TGCFKAPF is a truly
fabulous golf course, both challenging and fun—but c’mon. If that comment
didn’t fuel your disgust for The Donald, you might want to check out the You’ve Been Trumped documentary, which details how he built his
Scotland course with scant regard for local people, political offices, or
ecosystems. The one redeeming thing about the movies is that it reminds one to
re-watch Local Hero, a 1983
warm-hearted allegory of individuals protecting their community from invasive
investors, also set in Scotland.
And while we’re talking movies: I feel guilty for not warning you about Seven Days in Utopia, which was showing in
October on Golf Channel. The movie is an attempt at a warm-hearted golf parable
starring Lucas Black and Robert Duvall. Lucas Black does a fine job as a golf
pro, in a Mike Weir vein, but the proselytizing is heavy-handed. No matter how
hard I try, I still can’t figure out why Robert Duvall signed up for this
In Medias Rant: "...and why is Matt Kuchar playing two of the
first three events of the PGA Tour 2014-2015 season? Geez, Matt, you’re No. 9
in the world, give some Web.com guys a chance to make a living. If you need a
little cash, it’s a good time to refinance your home and..."
Observation of the week: When you watch the "minor" tours, whether Euro, Web,
or Asia, one can’t help but notice that the players are more fidgety in their
behavior and less polished in their movement. Is it just because they’ve been
playing longer at that level, or does conservation of motion and effort go
hand-in-hand with golf success? A puzzler.
Word of the day: sangfroid (sang-fwah), noun; composure in
the heat of competition.
In case you missed it:
Idle random thought: Isn’t everyone jealous of a guy named Jhonny Vegas. He has a pretty straightforward life philosophy, too: "...Always try your best, and be a happy guy."
Private Hole of the Week: Good straightaway, or "Freeway," par-four holes are
often dismissed out of hand as boring, but they present unique challenges. For
one, the drive is often awkward as there is less of a target and less of a
suggested approach. The opening hole at Manufacturers Golf and CC is a great
example of such an experience. The severely elevated tee with a prevailing
crosswind adds substantially to the challenge of picking the shot to match the
task at hand.
Public Hole of the Week: Another freeway hole with an elevated tee is the
7th at Reading Country Club. The best angel into the back-to-front sloped green
is from the left side of the fairway, but a draw off the right edge of the
fairway is the safe play. The tendency, however, is to not aim enough right,
and end up in the left rough.
I’m supposed to discount Tom Watson’s 60-plus years?
Friday, October 17, 2014 By Ron Romanik
Media topic you really don’t need to think about: The FedEx Cup format. It’s an imperfect game, there’s no perfect
solution—just let ’em play.
In Medias Rant: "...and I’m supposed to
discount Watson’s 60-plus years of respecting the traditions of the game just
because some whiny, spoiled kids are too afraid to trash-talk Phil and too
lily-livered to speak on the record about..."
Word of the day: metanoia; noun; change in one's way of life resulting from
penitence or spiritual conversion.
In case you missed it: Bill Murray talks some
golf with Howard Stern, including his early caddying days. The non-golf
parts are also excellent, with the comedy legend speaking openly about a few
movies and the finer elements of his craft.
Private Hole of the Week: The long
at Moselem Springs Golf Club. One of the great
finishing holes in the region brings high drama to many amateur events held
there, including the annual Hawley Quier Memorial.
I’m usually "anti" water on finishing holes, but this is an undeniable classic,
also overlooking the fact that out-of-bounds is almost absurdly close to the
green on the right.
Public Hole of the Week: The
par-five eighteenth at Turtle Creek
Golf Club in Limerick, PA. Another water finishing hole, a pond guards the
green. The thirds shot is often a pitching wedge off a downslope, which makes
it dicey and fun.
Philly Insider: After birdieing the final
hole at Turtle Creek, you might want to treat yourself to one of the awesome
Prime Rib sandwiches at the Trappe Tavern
just down the road (also a great place to watch some NFL).
Irony of the week: The
slower you swing, the farther the ball goes.
"You Kids Get Off My Lawn" Comment: Golf in the Olympics? The
Olympics...really, the Olympics? Do I even need to explain?
Water Cooler Debate: Who is
most to blame for bringing golf to the Olympics—Tom Meeks, Judge ElihuSmails, or Vladimir Putin?
If this "experiment" lasts more than one Olympics, though, here
are a few good ideas to fix it from Shane Ryan at Golf Digest.
Stats of the Week: Courtesy
Digest’s year-end run-down, two mind-numbing putting stats. 1. Brian Stuard went 395 straight holes without a three-putt. Let
that sink in. 2. Gary Woodland just finished his second straight season without
missing a putt from inside of three feet. That’s 1,641 out of 1,641.
In case you missed it II: Rory McIlroyputts into a
bunker. It’s forgivable—it was the Road Hole Bunker at St. Andrews.
Chambers Bay is next year’s U.S. Open site, so the USGA posted some
stunning pictures of the course. The links course on Puget Sound near
Seattle reminds one of the Kohler
courses in Wisconsin—Whistling Straits and Blackwolf
Run—which run along Lake Michigan. Designed by Robert Trent Jones
II, Chambers Bay is also Audubon
Certified Silver Signature Sanctuary Courses. A brief history
of the course and a good definition
of a "links" course is here.
The 2015 season will start this coming Thursday at the Frys.com Open at the Silverado
Resort in Napa, CA. That beautiful location will hopefully lure some A-list
talent, but wouldn’t it be hilarious if an earthquake aftershock affected the
outcome, a la Danny Noonan’s final putt in Caddyshack?
Word of the week: Inveterate; adjective, long-established, as a habit.
Lady golfer on the rise: Is she the women’s version of John Daly? No, she’s
not a drinker and gambler, as far as we know, but she does have one of the longest swings you’ll ever see.
She’s Sakura Yokomine, currently No. 44 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings.
Media topic you really don’t need to think about: Rory. Anything Rory. His Twitter feed, wearing
kilts, yaddayaddayadda. He’s a good kid. Just let him live his life for a
Private hole of the week: The best short par-four in the region has to be No.
10 at Merion, a 300-yard dogleg left with
a green that runs away. There are risk/reward calculations each step of the
way no matter how you play it. The greatness of the design was evident at last
year’s U.S. Open, where some players used five-iron off the tee, some used
driver, and the rest used every other club in between those two. I’ll bet a few
players even used a different club each day.
Public hole of the week: Another devilish short dogleg par-four in the
region is No. 5 at Bella Vista Golf Club in Gilbertsville, PA. At just over 300
yards, a creek running across the hole forces a tough decision. Who wants to
lay up with an eight-iron, after all? If you go bold, you’ll often end up one
of the large,
deep bunkers fronting the green. So swallow your pride, and pull the
Prediction: Europe wins
15-13. Do I need reasons? If I do, then I’ll go with experience, vitality, and
verve. And home field advantage. And they are better.
you really don’t need to think about: Rory and Graeme and their lawsuit. I fear
it will come up once an hour on the telecasts. Yawn.
Word of the day: Omphaloskepsis – noun; contemplation of one's navel.
Navel-gazing, used as a criticism, means overly self-absorbed focus on a topic.
Example: "Media Wonders Why Media Over-Hypes Ryder Cup Rivalries."
In Medias Rant: "...and how
can the first time an award is given already be Ôprestigious.’ Wie only played four rounds in two of the five majors! And five majors is an abomination to all
that is natural and good..."
of the Week:
The 14th at Rolling Green (Bausch
Collection/Rolling Green). One of the most intimidating tee shots on a
par-three you’ll ever see. Uphill, an angled green, deep bunkers, and a steep
drop-off on the right. It feels like your best shot will also need some luck to
find the dance floor, and if you don’t hit the green, you’ll be lucky to make
Public Hole of
The 15th at Galen Hall. More infamously known as "The Moat Hole," famed
architect A.W. Tillinghast may have had a hand in
this unique par-three. Also extremely intimidating, top amateurs in competition
have been known to lay up for a better chance at par, on average.
Irony of the
The less time you have, the more you get done.
"You Kids Get
Off My Lawn" Comment: The Ryder Cup competition was established to promote
sportsmanship and camaraderie. They should change the name. It now promotes
gamesmanship and jingoism.
Stat of the
Billy Horschel was ranked 1st in putts from 15 to 20
feet for the 2014 season. In all other putting distance ranges, he ranked worse
than 50th. Does not compute.
Michael Jordan caused the USA team to lose the last Ryder Cup, in Chicago.
Because, in trying to get into Ian Poulter’s head, he
managed to achieve the opposite of the intended result. Poulter’s
defiant passion fueled the European team on to victory.