PRESS PASS
 
FedEx Cup finally works
Monday, September 28, 2009
By Joe Logan

I don’t know about you but I pretty much lost interest in all the FedEx Cup playoff tweaking sometime during the Bush Administration.

 

Until yesterday.

 

Watching the Tour Championship Sunday afternoon, as Tiger, Phil, Sean, Stricker, Paddy and Kenny Perry battled down the homestretch, what was not to like about the prospect of one of those guys finding himself standing over a $10 million putt on the 72nd hole?

 

Talk about a putt with a pucker factor....

 

Too bad it didn’t come to that.  Still, it was fun to listen to the boys in the booth scrambling to keep track of the various changing scenarios and outcomes as Tiger and cast jockeyed for position.  Compare that to last year, when Vijay Singh showed up at East Lake needing only to maintain a pulse for four days to win the FedEx Cup. I’ll take Sunday’s melodrama any day.

 

Although Tiger didn’t win a major this year, and he didn’t win the Tour Championship, it’s hard to argue that he didn’t deserve to lay claim to another FedEx Cup.  It is, after all, mule-headed to argue that he didn’t have the best year or that he isn’t the best player in the game – certainly of his era, maybe of all time.

 

If there is any disappointment, it is that somebody didn’t break out of the pack the steal the FedEx Cup out from under Tiger’s nose.  Sean O’Hair, the homeboy, would have been a good candidate, and he made a good run Sunday as he continues to distinguish himself as one of today’s handful of elite players.  And it would have been a storybook ending for the father of three young kids to take home the $10 mil.  But it didn’t happen.

 

My guess is, after the thrill ride at East Lake on Sunday, and after having the two best players in the game standing side-by-side at the awards ceremony, the PGA Tour is done tweaking the format for a while.

 

 

 

 

 


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Rolling Green 
All hail Wm. Flynn
Thursday, September 24, 2009
By Joe Logan

If you’re a golfer in the Philadelphia area, one of the best possible things that can happen to you is to get to play a course designed by William S. Flynn.

 

Anybody who belongs to a club with a Flynn-designed course or who has played a Flynn needs no introduction to the great architect.  Although he was born in Massachusetts in 1890, Flynn spent most of his adult life in Philadelphia and it was here that he truly left his mark.  Unless, of course, you want to talk about Flynn’s masterpiece, Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, host of  four U.S. Opens, most recently in 2004.

 

Closer to home, Flynn, who died in 1945 at the age of 54, left his imprint on the golfing landscape in the forms of some of the area’s finest courses:  Philadelphia Country Club is a Flynn, as are Huntingdon Valley Country Club, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club, Green Valley Country Club, Concord Country Club, Woodcrest Country Club, Lehigh Country Club, Lancaster Country Club, Atlantic City Country Club, Lancaster Country Club, Harrisburg Country Club, Philmont Country Club and Rolling Green Golf Club.  And although Hugh Wilson is generally credited with designing Merion’s East Course, Flynn also had a major hand in the course as we know it today.

 

So respected is Flynn that that there are two separate tournaments are held each year in his honor, the Flynn Cup and the Flynn Invitational.

 

Unfortunately for public golfers, Flynn courses tend to be private.  Still, with the quantity and quality of his work, it is safe to say that Flynn has provided more golfers with enjoyable, challenging rounds than any other two architects combined. It is also safe to say that the clubs with Flynns are indeed proud of their courses and show them off at every opportunity.

 

This week, that club was Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Delaware County.  First opened in 1926, when Flynn was doing some of his best work, Rolling Green has just undergone an extensive renovation.

 

Like so many Flynn courses, Rolling Green is a classic.  Built long before the days of massive earth moving, at 6,917 yards, par 71, it looks and feels as natural as a walk in a green, leafy the park.  Nothing feels forced or artificial.  Every hole fits the eye.

 

Working from old photos and club archives, Forse Design, which specializes in restorations, picked up where an earlier tree removal project left off, focusing on increasing and revitalizing bunkers and green complexes.

 

All hail Flynn.  He would be happy.

 

 

 

 

 


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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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