PRESS PASS
Pine Valley clubhouse 
 
A day at the Crump Cup
Monday, September 21, 2009
By Joe Logan

It was good to take in another final match of the Crump Cup on Sunday and, as

always, the golf was incidental to the stroll around Pine Valley.

 

Certainly, some very good golf was played by the finalists, Gene Elliott from West Des Moines, Iowa, and Skip Berkmeyer from St. Louis, Mo, who eventually won 1-up by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

 

But, make no mistake, the star of the day was the ultra-private, almost mystical golf course.

 

"This place is unbelievable," an acquaintance said me as we walked a few holes together.  This from a man who isn’t even a golfer.  He’d heard some colleagues at the office talking about the Crump Cup and Pine Valley and decided to check the place out.

 

We were among a gallery of perhaps 200, a smallish turnout by Crump Cup final match standards.  The weather could not have been more ideal, and the course could not have been in better condition, but the match was competing against the Eagles at home against the Saints and the division-leading Phillies on the road in Atlanta.

 

Given the mystic surrounding Pine Valley, and the unlikely chance that most hacks will ever get a chance to play a round there, it’s easy to expect that the gallery would be filled by hard-core golfers who simply want to see the place in person.  Those people were there, easy to spot in with the logos of their home club or favorite course.

 

But this year, like years past, the Crump Cup final curiously attracted is share of people who don’t look at all like golfers or average golf fans.  They came in gym pants, various team jerseys, tank tops and a couple sported arms full of tattoos.  One young kid had a mohawk.

 

For Crump Cup repeat visitors, the day is a chance to marvel at the golf course and check for subtle changes from past years, maybe the occasional new tee.  Or to try to imagine how they’d play a certain shot, a particular hole or the entire course.

 

I chatted briefly with Pine Valley president O. Gordon Brewer, who couldn’t have been more cordial, and with Charley Raudenbush, the director of golf and general manager.  After the match, they invited me inside the clubhouse to attend the awards ceremony, where the drinks were generous and the hors d’oeuvres tasty.  The shrimp were as big as a fat man’s finger.

 

The winner, Berkmeyer, was humble and gracious in victory, insisting that had the match gone another two holes that Elliott would likely have won.  Berkmeyer thanked his caddie for all the good reads and the Pine Valley staff for their usual hospitality.  He made a particular effort to thank Brewer, for whom this was his final Crump Cup as president.  After more than a decade at the helm, Brewer will step down next year.

 

Being the manly place it is, the Pine Valley clubhouse is filled with dark wood and heavy, dark leather chairs and sofas.  Everything is understated, from the simple scorecard to the tables in the grill room.

 

The walls are covered with golf-related art work that tends to run toward photos and maps of the course, framed scorecards of legendary rounds and a glass case full of hickory-shafted clubs from a bygone era.  One wall is dominated by a large oil painting of Brewer’s predecessor as president, Ernie Ransome. Upstairs, the locker room is equally simple and understated, much like Merion’s.

 

As I made my way back to my car, the sun was setting, casting a glimmering light across the 18th, from the distant tee to the green.  What a view, what a hole, what a place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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TheWalkingGolfer
Friday, September 18, 2009
By Joe Logan

It’s always a treat to stumble across a cool website that I never knew existed.  It happened today when I spotted a link on GeoffShackelford.com to TheWalkingGolfer.com.

 

It turned out to be exactly what you’d expect from the name, with one additional pleasant surprise.  In addition to articles, interviews and posts promoting the virtues and health benefits of walking golf courses, it has a state-by-state list of courses rated by their walkability.

 

Just like MyPhillyGolf.com, TheWalkingGolfer is a work-in-progress.   They’ve got a long way to go before they’ve ranked every course in every state.  Not surprisingly, to finish the job, they’re seeking raters from among their readers/walkers.

 

Courses are given a color-coded rating on their scale of walkability:

 

 

- Course is Walking Only and/or an easy walk for any golfer

 

- Course is a manageable walk for most golfers

 

- Course is a tough walk for any golfer

 

- Course is essentially unwalkable

 

- Motorized Carts Only

 

From what I saw, the ratings are pretty much on the mark.  To wit: White Clay Creek in Delaware is indeed unwalkable.  So are Pine Hill in South Jersey,  Morgan Hill in Easton and Iron Valley in Cornwell.

 

If walkability is a major factor in whether you’ll play a course, TheWalkingGolfer is worth checking out.

 

 

 

 

 


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Mike Davis with Tiger Woods 
What Mike Davis learned
Monday, September 14, 2009
By Joe Logan

Moments after the U.S. victory was sealed in the 42nd Walker Cup Match Sunday at Merion Golf Club,  Mike Davis rolled up in his golf cart, walkie-talkie still attached to his ear, another championship under his belt.

 

Davis, senior director of rules and competition for the U.S. Golf Association, is the man who set up Merion’s East Course for the Walker Cup and the man who will do the same for the U.S. Open in 2013.  If anything other than lousy weather goes wrong, or if the golfers tear up the course, it’s usually on Davis.

 

His No. 1 takeaway from the Walker Cup?

 

"This is a national treasure in the world of golf and to expose it to the world, I feel good about that," said Davis.

 

Fair enough, but did he learn anything from the Walker Cup that will be useful in four years for the Open?

 

"Refinements," said Davis. "You learn the greens more, you learn the fairway contours and widths, grass heights, the way the grass is mowed.  They are little things but I probably have 14 pages of notes."

 

For example?

 

"Take the 3rd hole," said Davis.  "I didn’t get it right this afternoon with that back left hole location."

 

No. 3 at Merion is a tough uphill par 3.  Most days, it plays anywhere from 168 to 181 yards, into a deep, sloped green.  On Saturday, as an experiment for the Open, Davis actually used a nearby tee for the 6th hole for No. 3, making it play as a 278-yard par 3.  On Sunday, he returned the tees to the rear of the regular tee box, but introduced a tricky, back left hole location.  He learned a lesson.

 

"It’s a neat hole location, but you’ve got to hit 7 or 8 iron to it, and today they were hitting mostly 6 irons," said Davis.  "That’s a little too much for that location."

 

For some fans at the Walker Cup, where crowds ranged from 4,000 to 6,000 each day, one question they came away with is whether Merion can accommodate upwards of 10 times that for the Open.   Not Davis.

 

"First of all, it’s not 10 times," he said. "And believe it or not, there is a lot of room for grandstands.  We will have some challenges moving crowds, but you can seat crowds on the course.  It will work, it will absolutely work."

 

If anything, added Davis, Merion has better potential for viewing than some other Open venues, such as Winged Foot.  "All the greens sit up in the air there, and there are trees around every one of them and we can’t get grandstands around many of them," said Davis.  

 

Still, Davis noted that Merion will be a "small Open," with maybe 25,000 spectators each day.  But they knew that before they picked it for ’13.

 

Fact is, said Davis, the Walker Cup only confirmed his impressions from the 2005 U.S. Amateur, that Merion remains a viable and worthy venue for its fifth Open.

 

But after the heavy rains that soaked the course on Friday of Walker Cup week, he did come away with one concern for the Open.

 

"If I have a fear, it’s four days of wet conditions, where they are throwing darts, but I feel that way at every Open," said Davis.  A bunch of rain and it won’t play like Merion should play.  But I’m telling you, if we get firm conditions, this course will be an awesome test."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Steve[9/14/2009 12:04:49 PM]
Will the USGA consider using tarps to cover the greens to prevent "dart throwing" if it rains?

A day at the Walker Cup
Saturday, September 12, 2009
By Joe Logan

A tip of the visor to Jeffersonville Golf Club, the unpretentious muni in West Norriton Township, Montgomery County.

 

The reason for the nod of respect has nothing to do with the fact that the course is a 1931 Donald Ross design that underwent a major restoration back in 2004, or that it was in better condition than I’ve ever seen it.

 

No, what so pleasantly surprised me during a round early this week was that we played behind a threesome of kids – boys, maybe 11 or 12 – who were not only unaccompanied by an adult, they never once held us up. 

 

One was pulling a cart and the other two had their bags slung over their shoulders. (See photo) All three were smartly dressed, in golf shoes and tucked golf shirts, like they meant business.  And talk about meaning business, I watched from afar and they all had pretty fair swings.

 

First, I credit whoever taught those kids the game, the etiquette and the respect for golf.  Second, give credit to Jeffersonville GC for being unafraid to send out three youngsters alone, without some adult hovering over them, supervising.

 

What makes me smile about that whole scene is that I was once of those boys, except the shirt wasn’t tucked.  Me and my buddies, turned loose on a golf course, which in my case was a little small-town, sad-sack, nine-hole country club in eastern North Carolina.

 

One of the biggest problems with golf in America these days, if you ask me, is you don’t see enough of those kids out playing golf by themselves -- the golf-equivalent of kids playing sandlot baseball. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Man-up, Kenny Perry
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
By Joe Logan

Just when you think you have a pretty good sense about somebody, sometimes it turns out you don’t.

 

Take Kenny Perry, for example.

 

A veteran 14-time winner on of the PGA Tour, Perry, 49, a drawlin’ Kentuckian, sure comes off like a decent, likeable guy.  I’ve sat through a million press conferences with the guy and never got a bad feeling about him.  Remember how we all pulled for him to to make the Ryder Cup team last year, then do well before his home-state fans at Valhalla in Louisville?

 

And didn’t your heart ach for him earlier this year when his big chance to finally win his first major slipped away during the final holes of the Masters?

 

Well, see if this recent item from Doug Ferguson, the AP’s golf writer, changes your opinion of Perry.  It begins:

 

"In a peculiar move, Kenny Perry parted ways with longtime caddie Fred Sanders, with whom he has won most of his tournaments..."  Turns out Perry was dumping Sanders in favor of his own son, Justin, who played on the golf team at Western Kentucky.

 

But here’s the rub:  Apparently not one to man-up, look Sanders in the eye and deliver the bad news himself, Perry had his agent do the dirty work – after Sanders had just spent the week on his bag at The Barclays.

 

Asked about the firing, Ferguson reports that Perry  offered only a "terse" reply to two writers: "Guys, I really don’t want to talk about that."

 

Of course you don’t.


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The boys as Jeffersonville GC 
Good job kids, Jeffersonville
Thursday, September 3, 2009
By Joe Logan

A tip of the visor to Jeffersonville Golf Club, the unpretentious muni in West Norriton Township, Montgomery County.

 

The reason for the nod of respect has nothing to do with the fact that the course is a 1931 Donald Ross design that underwent a major restoration back in 2004, or that it was in better condition than I’ve ever seen it.

 

No, what so pleasantly surprised me during a round early this week was that we played behind a threesome of kids – boys, maybe 11 or 12 – who were not only unaccompanied by an adult, they never once held us up. 

 

One was pulling a cart and the other two had their bags slung over their shoulders. (See photo) All three were smartly dressed, in golf shoes and tucked golf shirts, like they meant business.  And talk about meaning business, I watched from afar and they all had pretty fair swings.

 

First, I credit whoever taught those kids the game, the etiquette and the respect for golf.  Second, give credit to Jeffersonville GC for being unafraid to send out three youngsters alone, without some adult hovering over them, supervising.

 

What makes me smile about that whole scene is that I was once of those boys, except the shirt wasn’t tucked.  Me and my buddies, turned loose on a golf course, which in my case was a little small-town, sad-sack, nine-hole country club in eastern North Carolina.

 

One of the biggest problems with golf in America these days, if you ask me, is you don’t see enough of those kids out playing golf by themselves -- the golf-equivalent of kids playing sandlot baseball. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Joe[9/4/2009 6:02:12 AM]
Steve - Youíre showing your age. Most schools didnít start until Tuesday. That was probably one last day of golf.
Steve[9/3/2009 6:48:54 PM]
Those kids all had very good swings. Why werenít they in school?

Is Golf Unethical?
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
By Joe Logan

 

As we all know, golf often takes it on the chin for having an image as being too elitist, a stereotype that isn’t always wrong in this country.

 

But I sit here slack-jawed, having just read one of the most unfounded, absurd, dare I say idiotic, attacks on the game I’ve ever seen.

 

It comes from a very unlikely source: Randy Cohen, the ethics columnist for the New York Times.  Now that the International Olympic Committee has given golf a tentative thumbs-up for the 2016 summer games, Cohen evidently felt compelled to question the wisdom of their decision in a column headlined, "Is Golf Unethical?"

 

You’ve got to figure the column isn’t going to play out well for golf when, early on, Cohen cites that authority on all things ethical, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who recently dismissed golf as a "bourgeois sport."

 

Weighing the IOC’s favorable take on the game against Chavez’ – "golf’s underlying ethos," Cohen calls it – he concludes that "on balance Chavez has the stronger case."

 

Say what?

 

Cohen goes on to concede that the golf community isn’t "monolithic nor immutable," but he does note that the "current customs and values of big-time professional golfers" who are most likely to play in the Olympics "seem remote from the Olympic ideal."

 

And don’t think Cohen is taking a swipe at only the millionaire Americans on the PGA Tour.  He finds the "international perspective" on millionaire golf pros in a piece in The Irish Times, by Bruce Selcraig, during the 2006 Ryder Cup: "They drive the same luxury cars, have the similar messy divorces, and whether they be from Denmark or Denver offer up the same golf cliches in a globalized TV-read English that pleases their corporate sponsors."

 

Not to quibble, but Selcraig writes from an international perspective only if you consider Austin, Tex., where he lives, not to be part of the US of A.

 

Then, in what Cohen clearly considers a kill shot from point-blank range, he reveals what he really doesn’t like about golf: PGA Tour golfers are too conservative.

 

Still citing that internationalist Selcraig, who found a Sports Illustrated poll of 76 PGA Tour pros, Cohen notes that the poll found that 91 of the pros favored the confirmation of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court; 88 percent supported the invasion of Iraq; and 0 percent had seen "Brokeback Mountain."

 

Haven’t seen "Brokeback Mountain?"  The nerve of not going!

 

Of course, you know what’s coming next.  That’s right, Cohen goes right to the issue of Augusta National, home of the Masters, not having a female member.  It also does not escape his attention that in 2002, during the Martha Burk-inspired protests over the club’s membership policies, that a certain Tiger Woods was "conspicuously willing to play at a sexually segregated club" and that his "complacency" was "especially sad."

 

Unsatisfied to simply cast golf as an elitist game that Chavez believes is not a "people’s sport," Cohen goes on the assert that golf courses are essentially a blight on the planet.  After all, they require pesticides and gulp too much valuable water, making the game not in keeping with the Olympic Movement’s declared intent to "encourage and support responsible concern for environmental issues, to promote sustainable development in sport."

 

Where to begin refuting this load of crap?

 

I know; I’ll begin by saying I’m a registered Democrat, yet this is the kind of drivel that makes me want to smack an Upper West Side wimpy liberal and spend the rest of the day watching Fox News.

 

To dismiss an entire game as unethical -- of course, golf has no ethics per se, no political bent -- because the .0001 percent of golfers who make it to the PGA Tour are generally conservative is total hogwash.

 

What made this column really stick in my craw is that I happened to read it on the very day that a friend’s 14-year-old son, who was trying out for his high school golf team, called me for advice.  It seemed he faced a situation that tested – you got it -- his sense of ethics.

 

During the round earlier that day, he had been paired with another kid who was also trying out, just the two of them.  The coach had instructed them to keep each other’s scorecards, like they do on the PGA Tour.  His dilemma was this: He didn’t think the other kid was counting all his strokes, whether deliberately or not.

 

A relative newcomer to golf, my young friend wrote down the scores the other kid told him, and even signed the scorecard after the round.  But not long afterward, it began to eat at him.  By then, the other kid had left, so it was too late to confront him.  My young friend’s question to me was this: Should he say anything to the coach or should he just keep his mouth shut?

 

My advice: Pull the coach aside and tell him what happened.

 

The coach handled it well.  He thanked my young friend for having the courage to step forward, even if it was a little later than was ideal.  At that point all he could do was say he’d keep an eye at the other kid the following day, when he’d be back for the second half of the tryout.

 

That, Randy Cohen, in a nutshell, exemplifies the ethics of golf.

 

Come to think of it, name me any other sport where the most elite players, regardless of their political leanings, routinely call penalties on themselves for infractions that nobody else would have ever known about.

 

If fact, in golf, if you want to cast a shadow over your integrity that will follow you for the rest of your career, simply give your peers reason to believe you breeched the game’s strict code of self-policing – in other words, its code of ethics.  Hey, just ask Vijay Singh.

 

While Cohen faults Augusta National for its lack of female members, which I also find regrettable, it is after all a private club and free to establish its own membership policies. Anyway, does Augusta National’s lack of a female member undo the good the club does by donating much of the proceeds from the Masters to local charities?  That figure was $3.4 million this year and $39 million over the past 12 years.

 

Oh, and let’s not forget that with the glaring exception of the Masters, neither the PGA Tour, the PGA of America nor the U.S. Golf Association will allow any of their tournaments to be held at clubs with similarly restrictive membership policies.  Actually, there is even some talk that Augusta National might finally be ready to reverse it own policy, in the person of no less than former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

 

As for golf courses generally being a detriment to the planet, hogging water, perhaps Randy Cohen missed a recent story that occupied a substantial chuck of the front page of his own paper, the New York Times.

 

The headline was "On the Fairway, New Lessons in Saving Water."  Datelined Atlanta, it was a lengthy and detailed report on how increasingly government officials and corporations are turning to golf course superintendents for their expertise in how to reduce water and chemical usage.  Apparently, necessity being the mother of invention, golf is leading the way these days.

 

As for PGA Tour players being too conservative for Randy Cohen’s tastes, even I have to admit that they do come by it somewhat honestly.  Golf, after all, is not a sport where players sign multi-million dollar, multi-year, no-cut contracts with teams.  In golf, there are no guaranteed contracts.  Pro golfers are lone wolves who eat only what they kill.

 

To Chavez’s point that golf is not a sport of the people, give me a break.  Like what, those other sports of the people in the summer games such as sailing, fencing and equestrian.

 

And did either of them bother to look beyond the gilded clubs like Augusta National to a local muni, like Cobbs Creek in West Philadelphia or FDR in South Philly, never mind much of England and most of Scotland, where the game is quite egalitarian.  Don’t blame a game for what some people have done to it.

 

"Is Golf Ethical?"  Don’t make me laugh.

 

 

 


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