A few takeaways from the BMW Championship at Aronimink:
- First and foremost, the fact that
Philadelphia does not have an annual, first-class stop on the PGA Tour is a
crime against golf.Seriously, a
As expected the crowds at Aronimink
were big and enthusiastic, in the way that knowledgeable golf fans are.I love walking the course,
people-watching.You see the
upscale crowd donning shirts and hats and pullovers bearing high-end logos --
Pine Valley, Merion, Cricket and Philadelphia Country Club, etc., not to
mention out-of-town clubs like Chicago Golf Club, Shinnecock,
Pebble Beach and all manner of tournaments, like the Masters and the U.S.
Open.And then you see no-logo folks
in cut-offs, tee shirts and flip-flops.
The whole scene at the BMW Championship was a
reminder that Philadelphia is one of the premier golf cities in the country, a fact
we demonstrate every time big-time golf comes our way.We saw it at the AT&T at Aronimink in ’10 and ’11, we saw it at the U.S. Open at
Merion in ’13, and we saw it again these past few days at the BMW at Aronimink.
The biggest crowds were following Tiger Woods, of
course.And why not?Fans here are Tiger-starved and have
been for most of his whole illustrious career.How many times have Philadelphia fans
gotten to watch Tiger in the flesh?The ’10 AT&T at Aronimink, the ’13 Open at
Merion and now this.
If the PGA Tour were to try to stick us with
some off-week stop with a weak field, this town would shrug with in difference.We saw that at the SEI Pennsylvania
Class almost 20 years ago.But a full
field event in June or July with a rich purse and the biggest names in the game
– hmmm, maybe the Comcast Championship? – and Philadelphia would
It wouldn’t have to be at Aronimink
or Merion; in fact, neither club wants a regular event.But there are at least a half dozen
courses in the area capable and worthy of hosting an annual PGA Tour event.Lest we forget, Philadelphia is one of
the biggest markets in the country without a regular stop.
So, come on business leaders.Come on PGA Tour.Make it happen.
- Aronimink got
screwed.You’ve got to feel for the
club.It did everything it could
possibly do to stage a successful event.What happens? A gully washer descends upon Philadelphia and much of the
Northeast.Could the timing be any
worse?No.That is freakish bad luck.
- Tiger Woods. I don’t know about you but I am
forced to bow with respect.A year
ago, all indications were that he was done, career kaput.This comeback, with a fused back no
less, is a bonus for Tiger and a blessing for golf.The man who carried the game on his back
for almost two decades is doing it again.For how long, who knows.One
bad swing and he could drop to his knees in agony.But for now, hey, who isn’t pulling for
scores.The 62s and 63s at Aronimink were other-worldly.Aronimink is
no easy golf course, even if they made it look like it.It tough and it is 7,200-plus yards,
even at par 70.
True, all the rain made for soft conditions but
it was more than that.PGA Tour
players today are just that much better than even top amateurs and club
pros.Also credit, or blame, the
modern golf ball. Until the dial back the golf ball, which they will not do, no
golf course can contain today’s players.
For once, I don't mind eating my words.Like now, after what Tiger Woods did at Aronimink in the first round of the BMW Championship.
It was one of those 8-under par 62s that makes
you shake you head in disbelief, good enough for a share of the lead with Rory McIlroy.
A 62 would have been impressive during Tiger's heyday
but now, with a fused back and a career that everybody, including him, thought
was shipwrecked, that is well beyond impressive.
Going into this season, I was among the many
people who firmly believed that Tiger had no chance – zero, zip, nil
– of resurrecting his career.I said that to anybody who asked me.He had fallen too far and his back was
too damaged and fragile and heck, he is on the wrong side of 40.Even Tiger told people that he was
finished, no chance of coming back.
But back he is.He didn't win this year but he could win
this week and he can certainly win next year.Even the possibility of him winning a 15th
major is no longer unthinkable.(See PGA Championship, 2nd place, with rounds of 66, 66, 64).
So I will be back at Aronimink
tomorrow. Tiger Woods is still the show.
The last time I checked in with Joe Bausch,
the good professor was marinating in the joy of Villanova basketball -- because
his beloved Wildcats were on a run that would culminate with its second
national college title in three years.
Bausch’s non-hoops time was devoted to
chemistry, of course, which he seems to understand and enjoy, and golf –
specifically playing and photographing as many new golf courses as is humanly
Since last July, Professor Bausch has added 119
more courses to his golf course photo gallery, the Bausch Collection,
for a total of 469.
Of that total, new courses: 52
Updated albums: 18
Destination courses: 49
The breakdown of new courses,
scattered across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and New York is
1. Rookery South
2. Rookery North
6. Forsgate Palmer
7. Hopewell Valley
8. Mystic Rock
9. Shepherd's Rock
10. Fox Chapel
11. Vince's Par 3
15. Green Spring
17. Quogue Field
19. South Fork
20. Jericho National
21. Wyoming Valley
22. Glen Maura
23. Fiddler's Elbow
24. Fiddler's Elbow
26. Forest Hill
27. Carroll Park
28. Willow Brook
29. Harbor Pines
33. Springfield Golf
34. Pines at
35. Highlands of
36. Laguna Oaks
37. Heritage Links
38. Village Greens
40. Mercer Oaks West
41. Hooper's Landing
42. Briarwood East
43. Royce Brook East
44. Royce Brook West
45. Island Hills
48. Bethpage Red
49. Bethpage Green
52. Country Club of
1. Pinehurst No. 2
2. Streamsong Red
3. Streamsong Blue
4. Pikewood National
9. University of
10. Country Club of
11. John's Island
12. Dunes Club
14. Pine Tree
Straits - Irish
16. Yeamans Hall
17. Ocean Course
18. Barefoot Fazio
19. Barefoot Love
20. Barefoot Dye
21. Barefoot Norman
24. Palm Beach Par 3
25. Breakers Ocean
27. Princess Anne
28. PGA National:
29. French Lick Ross
30. Mountain Lake
31. Pinehurst No. 4
32. Pinehurst No. 8
34. Cotton Creek
35. Gulf Shores
36. Rock Creek CC
37. Pete Dye Golf
38. Abbey Course at
39. World Woods Pine
40. World Woods
41. Lake Jovita
43. Lake Jovita
44. Streamsong Black
45. Boston Golf Club
48. Royal New Kent
49. Old Hickory
Updated photo albums:
2. Huntingdon Valley
3. Jack Frost
4. Timber Trails
7. Architects Club
9. Country Club of
12. Spring Ford
17. Broad Run
18. Hickory Valley
After this latest addition
of courses, I asked Joe to do me and his readers a favor.From these new courses, pick his five
favorites and write a sentence or two explaining why they stand out in his
Here is what we wrote:
at Clermont: You're down at the Jersey Shore and a number of courses
await you. Wait, you've never heard of Pines at Clermont, have you?!
It is a fun, very cheap, 9-hole course that really serves it purpose.
This private club, located in Winterthur, Delaware, has a serene
atmosphere and excellent Dick Wilson-designed layout. I'm fortunate to
know a member and gosh I'm glad I do! Joe Logan’s
story on Bidermann
Lick: Donald Ross course: In the hometown of Larry Bird (The
hick from French Lick!) is a fabulous example of the genius of the golden age
architect Donald Ross. This resort course nicely demonstrates how Ross
could come up with a fun, challenging layout on a small piece of land.
Woods: This destination site in Central Florida contains two Tom
Fazio layouts and is a perfect place to play two in a day! The Rolling Oaks
course is an Augusta National inspired layout, while the Pine Barrens has some
looks and feel of Pine Valley.
Black: The latest course part of the Streamsong Resort in Central
Florida is designed by local architects Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner. It has
a look and feel unlike any course I've played. If you enjoy being able to
utilize a ground game and watching your ball roll and twist and turn, this place
is for you.
From time to time, I get an email from a reader
unhappy that I have posted yet another story about Donald Trump.
I got one just this morning. I’m guessing it
was because I posted a story
yesterday on the fact that Stormy Daniels, the porn star Trump is accused of
having paid off, is bringing her strip-show act to a gentlemen’s club across
the street from Trump’s International GC, just up the street from Mar-a-Lago.
I won’t identify the reader but here is his
Might want to lay off
the anti Trump crap on your site. Stick to golf.
In my email reply, I told
him what I would tell anyone with a similar complaint:
Thanks for your advice, which I am sure is well-intentioned and heartfelt.
Thing is, Trump is so much a part of golf, it is
hard to ignore him. Even before he was president, he was one of the major
golf course owners in the country; since he has become president, he has become
the face of golf, as much so as Tiger Woods. That is a fact, not crap.
This is not a
political website, to be sure. Generally, I avoid politics. That
has become more difficult since Trump was elected, because of his involvement
I’ve got readers who
hate Trump and I’ve got readers who love Trump. My rule of thumb is, post
Trump-related stories only if they are somehow connected to golf.
Anything else Trump-related or political, I steer clear.
My other rule of thumb
is, if I find a story interesting, or compelling, or disturbing, I believe many
of my readers will also. I post stories all the
time that I disagree with or that I find distasteful, or mule-headed. To
me, it’s part of the job.
Thanks for taking the
time to write. I hope you’ll visit myphillygolf.com as often as possible.
I do post plenty of Trump stories.I don’t apologize for that.Like it or not, the man dominates
every news cycle and his every move is scrutinized, even on the golf course.But like I said, I don’t stray from the
I also don’t deliberately
dwell on the negative Trump stories.I have all kinds of Google alerts set up to funnel stories to me, among
them "Trump golf," which makes no distinction whether stories are positive or
negative.I posted a positive
today, a CNN International report crediting him with having a "pretty good"
golf swing and a golf game that stacks up well against his presidential
As I said in that email, I
post stories all the time that I take no pleasure in passing along, often golf
business or golf industry stories that report that rounds are down, or that yet
another course is closing, or that golf’s business model is out of whack, or
that millennials find the game stuffy and too
I operate on the presumption
that the people who come to myphillygolf.com
are knowledgeable, sophisticated news consumers.I try to give you anything that I think
you might want to see, or ought to see, or at least have the opportunity to
see.And I try to err on the side
of letting you evaluate the information for yourself.
Until I become convinced
that is the wrong way to operate, I’ll continue doing it.
In the months since my last blog post I have
been busy, but not nearly as busy as Joe
Bausch, curator/photographer of the Bausch
Collection, MyPhillyGolf.com’s invaluable repository
of golf course photo galleries.
Since I last updated his progress a year ago, Bausch,
a Villanova chemistry professor, has played more golf than Tiger Woods and Phil
Mickelson combined and likely visited more golf courses than a fertilizer
rep.With Villanova out for the
summer, Bausch is up and out of his house every morning, off on another golfing
quest – always with his trusty camera.
The results of Bausch’s passion (some might say
obsession) are readily visible on MyPhillyGolf.com – the Bausch Collection
is now up to 370 galleries and growing by the day.
In addition to the 29 new galleries, Bausch is
most pleased about the expansion of the Bausch Collection from a regional resource
to include a new category we’re calling "Destination Courses."
The first destination course Bausch posted was
Erin Hills, host of last month’s U.S. Open.In recent days, he has added 10 more Destination
Here is a breakdown of the courses Bausch has
added or updated:
The outpouring for Arnold Palmer has been
heartwarming and deserved.He was
truly one of the most remarkable American icons of the past century.
When the news alert hit my cell phone last
night, and the generous and respectful tributes began to pour in, I couldn’t
help but think back over my own interviews and personal encounters with The
King over the years.
- Whenever Palmer was in the room, it was a
pleasure to stand back and watch the adulation, the adoration.Everyone smiled when they saw Arnie.Everyone wanted to get a moment with
him, to tell him how much they loved him.Even very rich men swooned like little kids.Women melted, no matter how old he was.Arnie just exuded magnetism and charm.
Unlike many celebrities who shrink in such
situations, or become aloof, Arnie basked in it, loved it.He knew that to make fan for life, all
he had to do was be cordial and, say, "Hello, nice to meet you."
One such moment still stands out in my
mind.It was late in Palmer’s Champions
Tour career, when he was pretty much a ceremonial golfer but still the biggest
draw in the field.One day, when he
walked off the 18th green, he was approached by a woman who began to
gush over him.
I’ve seen plenty of famous people –
plenty of famous golfers – who would have blown right past that woman.Palmer did not.He stopped and listened to what the
woman had to say.
"Arnold, you probably don’t remember me," she
began.His ears perked up; he was intrigued.
She launched into a tale about how 25 or so years
ago, when she was a girl, she had shyly run up to him at a tournament and asked
him to autograph her visor.He had stopped
then, as now.Now, years later,
that little girl was having her second moment with Arnie, holding out that
visor to show him that she still had it.
Palmer looked at the visor, then at the
woman.It was obvious he had no
recollection of her or of autographing her visor.But he didn’t tell her that.He smiled and said, "It’s so good to see
Palmer left that woman on Cloud 9, just like he
left so many other people in life.
- The first time I ever interviewed Palmer was
in 1983, at a Champions Tour event outside Boston.He was 53 at the time, no longer
competitive, frustrated with his game.But he was still Arnold Palmer, in all his glory.
For much of the hour-long interview in his
hotel room, he sat at a table, autographing the stack of photos and memorabilia
that get sent to him every day.
always gave some of the best press conferences in golf.Many of today’s star players go through
the motions of press conferences reluctantly, sometimes sullenly.More than a few of them only show up for
press conferences because the PGA Tour requires it. They don’t need think they
need the press any more. If they have something to say, they’ll say it on
Twitter, not to the media.
Not Palmer.He valued his relationship with the
press, and even cultivated personal relationships with many of the writers and
TV people who covered him.Ask
Palmer a question and you’d likely to get a long, thoughtful, candid
answer.And he never ended a press
conference until all the questions had been asked and answered.
- It was no secret that Palmer’s relationship
with Ben Hogan was chilly at times.Even when Palmer was the biggest star on the PGA Tour, you wouldn’t know
it from Hogan’s reaction.
I once asked Palmer about his relationship with
Hogan.There was a long silence
before Palmer finally said, "He never called me by my name..."
- I shook hands with Palmer a number of times
over the years.He had maybe the
best handshake ever.Here
is a blog post I wrote about it in 2013:
When NBC’s Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller welcomed
Arnold Palmer into the booth at Bay Hill a few moments ago, Hicks joked that it
was good to feel Arnie’s handshake again.
I totally agree – you never forget Arnold
It’s not that Arnie is one of those bone-crusher
guys, not at all. His is just a firm, friendly, manly
handshake. Two quick pumps and he releases.
What makes it so unforgettable is Arnie’s hand
itself: it’s big and strong and as padded as a major league catcher’s mitt.
The fingers he wraps around your hand are as thick and beefy as sausages.
You feel like you’ve fallen into the embrace of a mama bear or something.
And I don’t care who you are, or what you can or
cannot do for him, Arnie looks you in the eye, smiles and says it’s good to see
you. It’s one of the reasons Arnold Palmer is one of the great
ambassadors the game has ever had.
- In the early days of Golf Channel, before they had a
stable full of high-priced on-air talent, it was a leaner operation.Most nights, primetime programming
consisted of Peter Kessler hosting interview shows.
For one of those shows, on
Sunday nights, they flew in a steady stream of newspaper and magazine writers
down Golf Channel studios in Orlando.Oftentimes, they’d put you up overnight at Bay Hill Resort because Palmer,
who owned Bay Hill, was one of the founders and early investors in Golf
I was one of the writers
they flew in, probably a half-dozen times.One Monday morning after the Sunday night show, I walked into the
restaurant at Bay Hill for breakfast, before heading to the airport.It was early and the place was almost empty,
except for staff and one table over in the corner.There sat Arnie and Winnie, just the two
of them, having breakfast.
Arnie looked up in my
direction and nodded.I nodded back.I didn’t want to intrude; I took a table
on the other side of the restaurant to give them their privacy.
- I once spent the morning
at the offices of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, across the road from Latrobe
Country Club and only steps from Palmer’s home.The offices also serve as a sort of
Palmer Museum, full of memorabilia from his legendary career.
Palmer’s longtime, loyal
assistant Doc Giffin, had promised to give me a
tour.Palmer himself wasn’t expected
to be there that day but it turned out he was. At one point, he came out of his
office, shook my hand and we chatted for a few minutes, before he was off to
make a phone call.
A day later, I was back,
along with a couple of fellow golf writers.Doc had invited us to play Latrobe
CC, the course where Palmer grew up and which he has owned for many years.Afterward, we had lunch in the Latrobe
grill room, a comfortable, no-frills place.It still ranks as one of my Top 10 days
As I watched
Bill Lyon toss out the first pitch at the Phillies game last night on TV, I
must confess my eyes got a little watery.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Bill Lyon,
the retired Inquirer sports columnist who is chronicling his battle with Alzheimer’s
in the paper, is one of the all-time greats.
Besides being a superb and deservedly-celebrated
columnist, Bill is one of the most decent men I have ever known.He grew up on a farm in the Midwest and
he has made his way through life like -- well, like a man who grew up on a farm
in the Midwest.
In 33 years as the Inquirer’s premier sports
columnist, Bill never wrote a cheap hit-piece on anybody, at least not that I
saw.Oh, he would take somebody
down a notch or two, if they needed it, but he never did it in a mean-spirited
or snarky way.Why clobber somebody
over the head with a bat when you can do the job with a hatpin?
During my 26 years at the Inquirer, Bill
sightings were rare, even after I moved to the Sports Department in 1995.You might see him in the old office at
400 North Broad Street once, twice a year, tops – the joke was that Bill
was required to present himself in person to the editors at least once a year.
The beat writers who covered the Phillies,
Eagles, Sixers and Flyers saw Bill more often, usually in the press box at
games.Since my beat was golf, my
sightings were less frequent.
But every year, I could count on seeing Bill
for a week, at the Masters.For a
stretch of years there, the Inquirer sent me and Bill to the Masters.The Inquirer had prime seats,
side-by-side, in the media center, and I always looked forward to spending
serious time with a man who earned his place in the Philadelphia Sports Hall of
Fame at the keyboard.
For an entire week, Bill and I would talk
– about Augusta National, about Tiger, about office politics back home,
about his dear wife Ethel, who was battling cancer and emphysema.If he said it once, he said it a
thousand times, "She’s the toughest woman I know, like a linebacker."
Our daily routine at the Masters was to arrive
at the media center in the morning, check our emails, read what other writers
and columnists had written that day, then take a stroll around the golf
course.Bill called Augusta
National the "cathedral of sports."He isn’t much of a golfer, if at all, but he always said the Masters was
his most fun week of the year covering sports.
We especially liked walking the back nine at
Augusta, lingering for an hour or so at Amen Corner.We might follow the leaders, or we might
not. It would be early in the day so the daily deadline pressure had not yet
kicked in.We were both waiting to
see what would unfold before we could begin planning what to write for the next
day’s paper.(This was in the days
before you had to live-blog every hole, every shot, every development.)
One of the truly great benefits of covering the
Masters is that press credential gives you access to the clubhouse.Most days, Bill and I would enjoy our
lunch --leisurely and luxuriously for a couple of newspaper hacks -- on the
clubhouse balcony overlooking the course.You never knew who might sit down at the table next to you – Amy
Mickelson and a couple of other player’s wives, big-time sports agents, a past
Masters champions, anybody from the world of golf.
No matter what we ate (burger, club sandwich,
chicken sandwich), both of us invariably ordered Augusta National’s famous
peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert.Once, when ordering the cobbler, I joked
to the waiter, "And don’t be stingy with the ice cream."
Bill laughed out loud.He loved that line.Thereafter, every time he would order
the peach cobbler, he would wink at the waiter and say, "And don’t be stingy
with the ice cream."
Big fan of Bill
One morning, when we were about to head out on
our daily trek around the course, Bill needed to pop into the restroom. As I waited by the door, I noticed a vaguely
familiar face approaching, headed out to the course.
After a moment, it dawned on me who it was: Joe
Queenan, the acerbic author, critic and essayist.Queenan has lived in NYC for years but
he has written extensively about having grown up in Philadelphia. As is his custom, I gather, he was
dressed in black, perhaps to reflect his often dark moods. "Aren’t you Joe
Queenan?" I asked.
Queenan didn’t know me from lunchmeat, so he
looked at me quizzically, then looked at the press credential hanging around my
neck."Philadelphia Inquirer," he
said, nodding.Queenan told me he
loved reading the Inquirer as a kid, especially the great sports columnist Bill
"Well, if you stand here for another minute or
two, you can meet him,"I said. Instantly,
Queenan’s scowl turned into a smile."Seriously?"
"Seriously," I said.
When Bill walked up, I introduced him to
Queenan, who proceeded to gush over him like a teenage girl meeting Beyonce.Bill stood there with his aw-shucks
modestly, thanking the stranger for his gracious comments.When Queenan left, Bill admitted he had
no idea who Queenan was.Later, back
at our laptops, I had Bill do a Google search on Queenan.He was suitably impressed.
Like many newspaper scribes of his generation,
Bill adapted to the transition from portable typewriters to laptops as best he
could.But he was no techie, not
even a little.Fortunately, Bill’s son
was a techie and he had rigged Bill’s laptop to function with almost one-button
ease.Compose a column?Two buttons, tops, to get it ready to
go.Send the column to the
Not everything worked every time, though.Occasionally, something would go horribly
wrong and Bill would panic that he might have accidently deleted his
column.Not that I am tech-savvy
myself but I would stop whatever I was writing and plunge in to assist, often
as my own deadline loomed.When we
would finally resolve the problem, the look of relief that would sweep over Bill’s
face was unmistakable to total.
Bill’s son also had his laptop set up so that
when Bill turned it off, the shutdown process would end with a photo of his
grandkids that popped up, in their jammies, saying, "Night, night, Pop-Pop."That was music to Bill’s ears.He would listen and watch his
grand kids with glee every evening, then turn to me with a satisfied grin, like
the fawning Pop-Pop that he was.
From a beat-writer’s perspective, there was another
important thing about Bill that was impossible not to appreciate.Even though he was the big dog, the lead
columnist, before he settled on a topic for his column, he would run it past
me."What are you planning to
write?" he would ask."I don’t want
to get in your way."
That was flat-out, nice-guy courtesy.He didn’t have to do that.If he wanted, Bill could have stepped
all over whatever I was planning to write – that’s the prerogative of the
lead columnist.I would have had to
adapt.But he never did.If I was already halfway through a story
similar to what he had in mind, Bill would pick another topic.He always had two or three good ideas he
Meatloaf and pancakes
In the early years, when Bill finished his
column and packed up to leave the media center, I would often invite him to
join a few of us for dinner, or take in one of the many functions and parties
that go on in Augusta during Masters week.
Thanks, but no thanks.Bill had his routine and he stuck to
it.Year after year, he stayed in
the same modest motel on the edge of town – I think it was a Days Inn –
where he could dine alone over a meatloaf dinner, or maybe the roast turkey
special, then return to his room to watch whatever ball game he could find on
TV.In the morning, after a hearty
breakfast and the morning paper, Bill would return to the golf course and we
would do it all over again.
One of Bill’s annual rites of spring was to buy
another item of Masters merchandise.Since he is not one to drop a bundle, his trip to the merchandise center
Most of us come would out of the merchandise
shop with two or three bags full of swag for ourselves and our friends and
family back home.Bill was a
one-bag guy, usually a shirt with the Masters logo – well-made, carefully
picked. That was it.That was enough.
Bill is what he seems like
I miss those weeks at the Masters with
Bill.Of all the high-profile
people in the media I have known over the years, Bill may be the most
genuine.He does not present one
face to his reading public and another behind the scenes.He’s no Jekyll and Hyde prima donna. He is exactly what he seems like.
As I watched Bill toss out that baseball last
night, it was obvious that advancing age and Alzheimers are beginning to take
their tolls.It makes me sad.I makes me pine for the old times on the
balcony of the clubhouse at Augusta, where we could dine like kings and joke to
the waiter, "And don’t be stingy with the ice cream."