PRESS PASS
Under new policy, PGA Tour players could be required to eat free food, put on  
 
Wise up, fool
Thursday, October 15, 2009
By Joe Logan

Every now and then some knucklehead on the PGA Tour says or does something that reminds you of just how out of touch with the real world many of those guys are.

 

If you’ve seen the Golf Plus section of this week’s Sports Illustrated, you know what I am talking about.  To wit: An anonymously-penned column with the headline: "Bellyache: A new PGA Tour policy is giving rank-and-file players like me indigestion."

 

In logic so ill-considered and whiny it’ll snap your head back, an unidentified PGA Tour player moans and groans about a new Tour policy intended to appease sponsors at a time when too many of them are heading for the exits.

 

Each week at tournaments, guys who are so marginally known or successful that fat cat businessmen are not exactly falling all over themselves to fork over $5,000 or $10,000 for the pleasure of their company (or brooding silence) in a pro-am, are going to be on the hook to show up for 90 minutes at a sponsor party on Tuesday or Wednesday.

 

Are you kidding me?  A party? With icky regular people, even if they do underwrite my lifestyle?  What’s next, high-mileage courtesy cars?

 

"We know we have a bad economy and have to do something to help the companies that write our checks,"  Mr. Anonymous writes incredulously.  "And it’s not that we don’t appreciate the sponsors.  But to tell guys that 52 of you may play and another 30 are on the hook to visits sponsors – that’s a nightmare."

 

That’s a nightmare?

 

He’s not done.  "I can tell you that every player would rather endure a five- or six-hour pro-am round than put on a happy face and hang out at a two-hour dinner."

 

Wait, there’s more.  "It may not sound like much, but you’re there to entertain, and have to be "on" the entire time," he writes.  "And you can’t no-show or leave early or hide in the bathroom, since I’m sure Commissioner Finchem’s disciples will be taking attendance."

 

Oh, the horrors of having to show up at a party, where I can assure you the food is free and fabulous, the bar is open, the fat cats are fawning and the women are flirtatious.

 

And let’s be clear about who we are talking about.  As Mr. Whiny makes clear, it’s not Tiger and Phil and other big name players who have to show up to eat free shrimp and make small talk.  No, those guys are further up the PGA Tour food chain and they are required to play in the pro-am.  The guys who have to come to the parties are they guys who don’t rate the pro-am, the guys who rank between 50th and 110th on the money list.

 

A quick check of the money list shows that 50th is Paul Goydos, who so far this year has pocketed just over $1.6 million in winnings; 110th is Michael Bradley, who has made $689,147.

 

Paul Goydos is a very nice guy and way too smart to be the dope who wrote this column in SI. But let’s be honest, if he wasn’t playing on the PGA Tour, Goydos would probably return to teaching school.  I’d tell you what I think Michael Bradley would be doing if it he wasn’t on the PGA Tour, if I wasn’t so vague on who he is. Is he the skinny, red-headed guy?

 

Either way, if Goydos or Bradley, or anybody in between them on the money list, thinks he can make more money doing something else, without having to make "happy face" or eat free shrimp for 90 minutes a week, they ought to get on with it.    Go. Now.  Don’t waste another moment  in the shackles of the PGA Tour.  Come on, you don’t have to put up with these kind of outrageous demands.

 

Or maybe they could just take a look at what’s going on in the real world around them and wise up.

 

 


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Kevin Walsh[10/16/2009 7:28:55 AM]
Great blog. The PGA Tour is simply fantasyland. Iíd like a guy like Goydos to give a State of the Tour Address to call those prima donnas out on their bs. Sometimes people donít know what an a-hole they are until someone has the balls to call them that.

Vijay Singh 
The mystery of Vijay
Monday, October 12, 2009
By Joe Logan

In all my time covering golf tournaments, one guy I never could figure out was Vijay Singh.

 

Actually, I never much cared for him.  I admired his talent, work ethic and longevity, but I didn’t admire the guy.

 

Even at the height of Singh’s career, when he won back-to-back money titles in 2003-’04 and had every reason to be all smiles, he wasn’t.  Or at least he wasn’t around the media.

 

Singh’s relationship with the scribbler’s was so prickly that whenever his name would rise to the top of a leaderboard, you could almost hear a collective sigh bordering on a groan go up in the media center.  Why? Because it meant we’d have to deal with him.

 

Dealing with Vijay was not fun.  He’d arrive in the media center, looking sullen and disinterested, like he’d been dragged there kicking and screaming by a media official.  He’d settle into his chair with all the anticipation of a man about to undergo a root canal.

 

Then the questions would start?  Usually, they weren’t hard, awkward, probing questions -- just basic stuff.  How do you feel going into the final round tomorrow holding the lead?  What’s it going to take to close the deal?  Worried about Tiger lurking two shots back?

 

More often than not, Vijay would respond in a tone so indifferent it just oozed contempt for the question and the questioner.  Sometimes, he’d glare at the questioner.  If the question came from a prominent writer he particularly didn’t like, Vijay would just pretend he didn’t hear it.

 

I never could understand why he maintained such an arm’s-length relationship with the media.  Other players didn’t, not even Tiger.

 

Funny thing is, if Vijay had made even a half-hearted attempt at pretending to get along with the media, he could have skated by on a smile and a song.  As it was, because he seemed to be so deliberately disagreeable, few in the media liked him and few were inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

 

From time to time, you’d hear from another player that the media had Vijay all wrong.   He was a good guy, generous and popular with the other players, they’d say.  Which, in my mind, only further begged the question of why he didn’t show that side of himself to the media?  It would have taken so little effort to soothe the relationship and win them over.

 

Over time I concluded that Vijay either didn’t care about his relationship with the media or, if he did, he wasn’t about to show it.  So he just kept on doing what he did.

 

Given all this, I have to give Vijay credit when credit is due.  On Sunday at the Presidents Cup, he did a very sportsmanlike thing.  In his singles match against Lucas Glover, on the 18th hole, he conceded a 7-foot birdie putt that halved the match for the American. At that point, the halve didn’t matter.  Tiger had already won the match that clinched the victory for the U.S. six holes back.

 

What the concession did do was enable Glover, the U.S. Open champion who was having a frustrating week, to salvage a shred of dignity by earning ½ point.  If Glover had missed the putt, he would have gone 0-4 and been the only American to get skunked for the week.

 

True to form, afterward, Vijay claimed he didn’t realize the concession was for the halve, and that Glover would have made the putt anyway.

 

"It was great. It was a good gesture," Glover said. "I'm not sure he knew what the score was, because he came up afterward and said, 'I didn't know that was for a halve. I thought I was 1 up.'"

 

That’s called Vijay being Vijay.


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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?


 
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