GOLF CHRONICLES
Arriving in Phoenix 
 
 
My golf season officially begins in Scottsdale
Sunday, March 28, 2010
By Joe Logan

When the sun rose on me this morning, I was in Scottsdale, where I’ve come for a four-day Golfweek rater’s retreat.

 

If you rate golf courses for the magazine, every two or three years you are required to attend one of these gatherings – they stage several a year, in golf destinations all over the country – where you meet other raters and discuss and debate what makes a good golf course.  At least I think that’s what happens; I’ve been a rater for four or five years now, and this is my first retreat.

 

I picked this week’s retreat in Scottsdale because I like it out here, and because I enjoy desert golf.  Very different from the kind of courses we have in Philadelphia, or the kind of courses I grew playing in North Carolina.  I’m good for about one week of sand and cacti, however, before I develop a yearning to see green trees and green grass somewhere other than on a golf course.

 

Most of yesterday was spent getting here, using US Air miles to fly first to Charlotte, connecting to Phoenix.   Flying used to be fun.  Now it is awful.  Both flights were overbooked, nary a vacant seat.  I had planned to do some work on the Charlotte-to-Phoenix leg, but that idea went out the window as a soon as some guy who was about 6-foot-5 and weighed maybe 290 squeezed himself into his seat and about half of mine.

 

We’re scheduled to play five rounds over four days, and the selection of courses is sweet: Desert Mountain – Cochise course, Desert Highlands, Desert Mountain – Geronimo course, We Ko Pa Golf Club and Wildfire – Faldo and Palmer courses.

 

I’m a little antsy about today’s round.  Of the 30 raters here, more than half come from warm weather climates like Arizona, Southern California, Texas, Nevada and Florida.   Those guys (there’s one woman on the list of raters) are no doubt in mid-season form, whereas I am exactly one large bucket into my season.

 

So I will step onto the first tee shortly after noon today with pasty-white legs and without the foggiest clue of where my first tee shot is going.  As I was zipping up my golf travel back, it occurred to me to toss in an extra dozen golf balls.

 

Despite the potential for shanks, skulls, worm-burners, chili-dips and outright whiffs, I am excited.  The dawning of a new golf season is always a beautiful thing, made all the more beautiful this year by this exotic locale.

 

Details as they develop.


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Steve[4/1/2010 1:43:59 PM]
So...how about some details?

Ryan Gingrow 
Home on the Range with Ryan Gingrow
Saturday, March 27, 2010
By Joe Logan

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Ryan Gingrow, teaching pro at Whitford Country Club in Exton.  In addition to his PGA pro stripes, Ryan holds a degree in journalism from Penn State, where he did a little sports writing during his student days.

 

That’s why he was contacting me.  He was interested in doing some writing.  We talked about him writing up a few tips, but he has done that before and, frankly, he wanted to stretch his writing muscles.  I proposed he write a series of columns, or essays, on life as a teaching pro.  He was game.

 

I just posted his debut effort.  Check it out.  I think you’ll enjoy it.  If you have comments or questions, let him hear them.

 

Welcome, Ryan.


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Tom Rinaldi and Tiger Woods 
Why did Tigerís interviews leave me with an empty feeling?
Monday, March 22, 2010
By Joe Logan

Considering how much all of us wanted to see Tiger Woods grant his first interview, how come those two last night left me feeling so...empty?

 

Maybe the five minute limits made it feel so rushed and incomplete.  Maybe it was that the questions, being fairly predictable, made his answers feel so rehearsed and predictable.  Despite the best efforts of Kelly Tilghman on Golf Channel and Tom Rinaldi on ESPN, both interviews felt to me like Tiger was mouthing the words of some statement he might have been posted on his website.

 

On a positive note, it was nice to see Tiger back in golf attire, appearing reasonably relaxed and comfortable, smiling at times.

 

Thing is, after watching both interviews, I’m still not sure whether Tiger is sorry for what he did or just sorry he got caught.


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Jim[3/22/2010 7:55:51 AM]
Both interviews were so controlled. Does this mean he wonít take non-golf questions at the Masters? Thatís if he even does any interviews at the Masters.
Steve[3/22/2010 7:43:11 AM]
It seems that both interviewers had a list of questions on various topics. The time limits restricted follow up questions. For example, I would have asked about the deal with Menís Health. How could Steinberg not know the details of why TWís contract with Golf Digest was broken? What about his long time friend and employee of his foundation, Byron Bell, arranging for travel to Australia for Rachel Uchitel? What about the investigation of his doctor who visited him after his knee surgery?

Range balls 
My golf season began today
Saturday, March 20, 2010
By Joe Logan

My golf season officially began today.  I hit my first bucket of balls.

 

I was out in the yard, clearing away debris that had been under the snow, when it dawned on me that I was wasting the first perfect Saturday afternoon of the year – not to mention the first official day of spring – on a yard project that could wait. 

 

I took off my work gloves, grabbed my clubs and headed directly to the driving range, passing two courses full of golfers along the way.  The range was packed.  I got a large bucket and found an open mat at the far end.

 

There is no getting around the fact that I am getting older.  While I

was pretty good about hitting the exercise bike the over the winter, I did almost no stretching.  I paid the price this afternoon.

 

My muscles felt like old, dry rubber bands.  Trying to get loose, I did that exercise where you hold a club straight out with both arms, then twist back and forth like Chubby Checker. My body didn’t want to twist.  I tried to touch my toes but I’m not sure if I cleared my knees.  I did a couple of squats to stretch my legs and both knees popped like another kind of large bucket with butter.  Everything hurt.

 

After a few minutes, I realized it wasn’t going to get any better and that I might as well hit a few balls and see what happened.  I started with a few half-swing wedges.

 

The good news was, I didn’t whiff, shank or top a single ball.  The bad news was, my body felt like an old jalopy, where the guy is turning the key and the car is going aaannnhhh aannnnhhh aaannnnhhh, but it won’t start.

 

As I worked my way through the bag, from PW to 8-iron, to 6-iron, it felt a little better.  But the first shot with 4-iron was thin enough to send vibrations and a shooting pain up the shaft and up my arms.

 

Finally, the big dog had to hunt.  I unsheathed the driver.  There was a time in my golf career when I could hit tee shots 285 yards or longer, when I caught it.  Key words:  There was a time...

 

Now, I tend to rejoice when tee shots are airborne and reasonably straight.  If they go semi-far, that’s a bonus.

 

As the bucket of balls dwindled to the last few, I was quite pleased; but I’ve learned not to get too optimistic about these false-positives.  Over the years, I have discerned a pattern:  My first few buckets, and my first few rounds, go very well, causing me to foolishly raise my expectations.  I begin to wonder: Could this be my year?

 

No, it couldn’t.   Without fail, several rounds into the season, some swing flaw rears its ugly head. Sometimes it’s minor, sometimes it’s major.  Either way, it’s enough.

 

That’s okay.  For all the bad things advancing age may be doing to my body, it does wonders for my perspective about what truly matters in life.

 


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Joe Logan[3/25/2010 7:39:21 AM]
Are you trash talking, Cole? All I can say is, bring your A-game and your checkbook to our annual vacation showdown.
C. Williams[3/24/2010 3:52:42 PM]
Maybe it means this year you will par #18 at The North River Club
Kelly Logan[3/22/2010 7:47:19 PM]
Dad, Iíll go golfing with you only if I can drive the cart and make snow angels in the sand trap. Sound like a plan?
Eleanor Thompson[3/22/2010 8:22:09 AM]
Brother dear, I only hope that you continue to play and enjoy the game into your mid 80ís as our dad did. How he played wasnít as important as being outside on the course with friends.
The Muni Golfer[3/21/2010 8:25:52 PM]
I hit my first bucket of balls last Thursday evening. I too felt really tight from the winter, so I took it easy and didnít feel as bad as I thought I would. Never hit the Driver though. Think Iíll go to the range a few more times before I even think about stepping onto the course.
Thomas[3/21/2010 11:33:07 AM]
Reminds me of me.
Bob[3/20/2010 8:03:59 PM]
Good blog. I can identify.

Ari Fleischer 
Tigerís PR strategy: Next question
Thursday, March 18, 2010
By Joe Logan

If you expect to see Tiger Woods turn up on Larry King or Oprah’s couch or even say much more about --  well, you know – at the Masters, don’t count on it.

 

Judging from comments in Sports Illustrated this week from his newly-hired PR crisis management advisor Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, Tiger won’t be spilling his guts for a "public cleansing" any time soon, maybe ever.

 

"Obviously what Tiger did was horrendous in his personal life," Fleischer told Jon Wertheim for an item on Scorecard. "But he's under no obligation to tell anyone the details about it. I believe he should draw a line in the sand between his golf and private matters. Being in public life doesn't mean you have to succumb to the overwhelming curiosity factor that permeates everything in our society."

 

Can’t wait to see how this all plays out at the Masters.


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Jake[3/20/2010 8:08:27 PM]
This toadie worked for Bush. Who cares what advice he gives Tiger?
Steve[3/20/2010 8:07:15 PM]
Tiger doesnít have to answer questions if he doesnít want to. But I am never going to look at him the same way.

Tiger Woods 
Tiger favored to win Masters
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
By Joe Logan

Less than four hours after Tiger Woods announced he is returning to golf at the Masters, he is the runaway favorite to win his fifth green jacket at the UK’s premier sports book, Ladbroke’s.

 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Tiger is the 3-1 favorite, ahead of Phil Mickelson (7-1), Ernie Els (14-1) and Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker (both 16-1).


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Steve[3/16/2010 4:33:15 PM]
Heíll probably miss the cut.

Magnolia Lane, Augusta National GC 
The Masters and Tigerís ticking media bomb
Sunday, March 14, 2010
By Joe Logan

So it’s not just me who thinks this talk of Tiger making his big return at the Masters is crazy.

 

Nice guy Steve Stricker, who is a friend of Tiger’s, says as much here.  And now comes a column echoing that sentiment from Scott Michaux, straight out of the hometown Augusta Chronicle.

 

Michaux’s angle is that Tiger’s Return would drown out and all other stories at the Masters.  He’s right, it would, and that is absolutely the last thing Augusta National Golf Club wants.

 

The Masters is unlike any other tournament on the circuit.  It’s like going to visit at your creepy old great aunt’s house, where everything is pretty and nice and has a place but where you’re afraid to sit on the furniture or make too much noise or track mud on the carpet.  You’re glad when the visit is over, but not nearly as glad as your creepy old great aunt.

 

The thing is, Tiger knows this.  So does his agent, Mark Steinberg.  And nobody knows it better than Tiger’s chief PR guy, Glenn Greenspan, former longtime PR guy for Augusta National and the Masters, until he hired was hired away by Tiger’s company about two years ago.

 

Knowing full well that Augusta National does not want Tiger’s PR fiasco dumped in the middle of their annual rite of spring, I’ve got to believe that there will be some kind of "media opportunity" before the Masters.

 

Given the late date, we’re down to the Tavistock Cup, the Arnold Palmer Invitational or maybe some kind of sudden appearance on Oprah’s couch.  But I’m telling you, if he Tiger rolls down Magnolia Lane without having diffused the media heat a little, he will be the only four-time winner in the history of the Masters who is about as welcome as four days of rain.

 

 


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Eddie V.[3/20/2010 8:11:20 PM]
I went to the Masters a couple of years ago. Did you know they wonít let you walk down Magnolia Lane?
Eddie V.[3/20/2010 8:11:20 PM]
I went to the Masters a couple of years ago. Did you know they wonít let you walk down Magnolia Lane?


 
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