For as long as I have looked
at old photos and news reels from an earlier era of golf, I’ve wondered about
the difference between those old hickory-shafted clubs of yesteryear and the
high-tech armaments have enjoy today.Now I have a pretty good idea.
On Sunday, to commemorate
the centennial anniversary of the 1910 U.S. Open at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’sSt. Martin’s
course, the club invited members and a handful of guests to play nine holes using
authentic equipment from back in the day.
Nobody had to rummage
through attics or yard sales to come up with the equipment.It turns out there are companies
that rent out the stuff, like Play
Hickory in San Diego, which shipped
the Cricket Club two crates full of bags,
clubs and modern day versions of the old Bramble ball.
To make day feel even more
authentic, quite a few of the 50 or so members participating went to the
trouble to dress up in the garb of the day.
How did the old clubs
play?Not nearly as bad as I
My feather-light canvas bag
came with six clubs:a brassie, a small-headed fairway wood
with about 15 degrees of loft; a long
iron with the loft of a 2 or 3 iron; a mid-iron
with the loft of about a 6-iron; a mashie
niblick, which approximated an 8-iron; a niblick, which was sort of combination PW and SW; and a simple
None of the clubs had
anything like the heft of today’s equipment, and the grips were simple wraps of
leather.The ball, which had
convex dimples, felt like any harder rubber ball.
From my first swipe of a tee
shot with the brassie, it was obvious
this was going to take some getting used to.The hickory shaft had the whip of, say, today’s senior
shafts, only without the consistency.But the more noticeable difference was the torque.You could actually feel the club head
twisting during the downswing.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take
long to get a feel for the clubs and adapt my swing.The key was maintaining an even tempo.
On my first tee shot, I teed
the ball too low and hit a bit of a worm-burner foozle.On my next tee shot, I over-compensated
and hit a shallow pop-up.But by
three holes into the nine, the brassie
and I were on the same page -- I was nailing tee shots.
Of course, "nailing" is a
relative term.I don’t think my
best effort went more than 200 yards, even when the shot felt solid.
Come to think of it, the
short irons took more getting used to.No shot with the niblick
seemed to fly true or consistently, and I never quite got the feel for
I came away with two
double-bogeys, four bogeys and three pars.The highlight of the round was definitely the 30-footer I
snaked in from the fringe.I’d
definitely do it again.
Suddenly, the prospect of
him playing in the AT&T National
goes from questionable to likely.
At Monday’s press conference
at Aronimink, Woods promised to
defend his AT&T title, if he had
returned to action after the neck injury that forced him to pull out of the
final round of the Players
Championship last week.
Now, with a diagnosis that
requires only soft tissue massages, rest
and anti-inflammatory medications, Woods says he expects to tee it up in
the Memorial Tournament,
beginning June 3.
That’s almost a month before
the AT&T National the week of June 28-July 4.
During his press conference for AT&T National, Tiger Woods cleared up one rumored
factoid once and for all:He has
never played a round of golf in the Philadelphia area.
"I have not," Woods said,
when asked directly."No, I have
not.This is the first time."
"This" being the AT&T National (July 1-4), assuming
he is back to playing by then.Tiger
did not play a round of golf during Monday’s media day.
Having never played here is curious,
almost inexplicable, considering how well-traveled Tiger is and we have two of the Top 10 courses in the world in our
back yard, Merion GC in Ardmore and Pine Valley GC in Clementon, N.J.
Other great golfers have
made time for Merion and Pine Valley when they were in the
area.I remember a few years ago
at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship
at Bulle Rock, Annika Sorenstam mentioned that in the days following the tournament, she
intended to play both.She
couldn’t miss the opportunity while she was in the area. And she did play both of them, and she
What makes Tiger’s failure to make the time for Merion and Pine Valley all the more curious is his professed respect and love for
classic courses, which certainly describes both.And considering the history of Merion and the mystique of the cloistered Pine Valley, you’d think his curiosity would have gotten the best
And heís a golf course designer too. I guess playing the top rated course in the world and a perennial top 10 course couldnít be fit in to his busy schedule back in the day. Now, he has more time as his endoresement time committments are down.
If the whole Tiger Woods scandal left you disappointed,
dismayed and in disbelief, you are not alone.So was Bob Rotella, the sports shrink to many PGA Tour stars, as well as most of the players themselves.
"The guys on Tour were as shocked as the rest of
said recently. "I haven’t talked to anybody on Tour who had a clue."
Rotella, who was in town to speak to the annual fundraiser for Women Golfers Give Back at
Valley CC, feels bad for golf and the PGA
Tour.But he feels even worse
for the millions of youngsters who idolized Woods.
"Every time somebody comes
along that looks like they are going to be a great role model, too many of them
just end up being nothing like who we thought they were," said Rotella."It‘s heartbreaking. I mean, we need some people to be role
For Rotella, like many of us, the
revelations about Tiger’s
infidelities forever changed how he regards at the golfer.
"I have great respect for
how he plays golf," he said."But
I have totally changed my perception of him as a person, or at least as a
husband and father."
After finishing tied 4th
in his return to golf at the Masters,
Tiger missed the cut at his next
tournament, the Quail
Hollow Championship, where he shot 79 on Friday.But Rotella
doesn’t believe for a moment that Tiger won’t soon be back to his old winning
Even with all the upheaval
and distractions in Tiger’s life
these days, Rotella
wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls off major victory No. 15 this year.The big reason is Tiger’s amazing capacity for mental self-discipline and
self-control on the golf course, if not off the course.
"He has always been great at
separating what is going on on the golf course from
what it going on off it," said Rotella."It is
the one place in the world where he is totally comfortable.This has been his thing since he was
three years old."
Watching Tiger’s now-famous 13-minute apology
statement back in February didn’t clear up anything for Rotella.For starters, once he found out Team Tiger had hired a PR consultant to
help with the speech, Rotella
decided he wouldn’t believe a word coming out of the golfer’s mouth was
And then there was what he
couldn’t help but notice as Tiger
delivered the mea culpa.The whole
thing made Rotella
think back to his daughter’s wedding a few years ago, when he, a man who speaks
regularly to large gatherings, was left speechless by the emotion of the
moment, when he stood up to toast his daughter and her new husband.
Yet, there was Tiger, admitting to his humiliating transgressions
before the world and his sainted mother in the front row, and he was as cool as
a cucumber."There was no
emotion," said Rotella,
Rotella shook his head, reflecting on that moment and on
what we all thought we knew Tiger.
"All I know is I bought the
whole Tiger image hook, line and
sinker," he said."I bragged about
him and his family, about how it was just so wonderful that we have this role
model that we have.And I loved
what he was doing with the Tiger
Woods Foundation.To me, he
just ruined that."
How will Tiger’s career fare going forward?Rotellafully
expects he will win again, and win big, because he is that confident in himself
and his golfing ability.He came
to that conclusion watching the way Tiger
handled himself at the Masters,
especially his post-round interview on Sunday with CBS’sPeter Kostis, in which he registered disappointment in his
own performance, never congratulating Phil
"A lot of people had trouble
with Tiger’s interview, and I
understand that," said Rotella."But the other side is, he can’t
believe he wasn’t going to win that tournament.What it really tells you is that the absolutely believed he
was going to go there and shock the world and win that tournament.And he couldn’t believe that he didn’t.That probably means he hasn’t changed a
In the past hour I posted six
stories from a project I am calling the State
of Golf in Philadelphia.
There is a lot of stuff
there, and I hope it helps shed some light on where things stand right now.
I cannot write another
sentence without thanking the folks who lent their time and expertise thatt enabled me to pull this thing together:Mark
Peterson at GAP, Geoff Surrette
at the PGA Section, Donna Horvath at Honeybrook GC, Tony Gustaitis at Whitemarsh Valley CC and Dick Naumann
I went to Mark Peterson first with the concept.He liked it, and so we began to kick
around ideas for a format and who we might invite to participate.Geoff,
executive director of the
Section, was obvious.Tony has been a reliable and articulate
source for me for years when it comes to the maintenance side of the game.Dick
is a real pro at one of the top clubs in the country, let alone in
Philadelphia.And Mark and I almost simultaneously suggested
Donna because we know her to be
smart and forward thinking, plus she is one of the few women at or near the top
of a golf course or club.
Once we all convened around
the board room at Aronimink
(thank you very much), each member of the panel delivered exactly what I was
hoping for – their particular perspective on where the game stands going
into the 2010 season.
You’ll notice that in their
presentations, some were brief succinct, some were longer and more
detailed.That was fine by
me.All were good.
Even with Tiger Woods’ severely stained image, the
announcement that he will play in the AT&T National over
the July 4th weekend is great news for the tournament, Aronimink GC and sports fans in the area.
Say what you will about him
as a husband, father and man, but Tiger
is still the best golfer in the world and the biggest attraction in the
game.Without him, the AT&T would have been like throwing
a party and having the guest of honor be a no-show.
With Tiger in, the buzz around the tournament will increase, ticket
sales will get a good bump and whatever hospitality packages remain unsold will
become a lot easier to sell.Best
of all, for the first time in his storied 14-year career. Philadelphia sports
fans will finally be able to see him do what he does up close and personal.
If you’re wondering where Tiger will stay during the tournament, don’t
expect him to occupy the Presidential Suite of a luxury hotel.The talk is that he has already rented
the home of an Aronimink member in
the vicinity of the course.That’s fairly common for Camp
An unannounced visit to Aronimink by Tiger in the coming weeks is not out of the question.So far as I can tell, he has never
played the course, and he might like to sneak in a preview round or two.
Staff and members at Aronimink talk of only one previous
visit by Tiger.That was more than a year ago, shortly
before the announcement that the AT&T
was temporarily relocating to Aronimink
for 2010 and 2011.
That, too, was unannounced,
catching even Aronimink staff off
guard.Tiger and a staffer from the Tiger Woods Foundation,
which runs the tournament, showed up at the Newtown Square club, took a tour of
the course in a golf cart, then left as quietly as they arrived.
I’m a big believer in the
rules of golf and the honor of golfers, but what happenedto Brian
Davis on the first playoff hole against Jim Furyk in the Verizon
Heritage leaves me shaking my head.
If you haven’t yet seen the videotape, in his quest
to claim the winner’s check and that hideous plaid jacket, Davis left his approach into the 18th at Harbour Town Golf Links short and left
of the green, in the waste area hazard.
Considering how nasty that
waste area can be, Davis caught a
break.He had a little flip wedge
shot up and out of the sand and weeds; saving par was definitely not out of the
That didn’t happen, however,
because Davis, an Englishman looking
for his first victory on the PGA Tour,
called a two-shot penalty on himself for grounding his club in the hazard.Game over.
As Davis told the rules
official, he wasn’t positive he deserved the penalty.Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he might have seen a
piece of grass or straw move slightly as he drew back his club to begin his backspin.
the rules official reviewed the videotape and, sure enough, a piece of grass
that was nestled just behind the ball did move slightly on his backswing.If that piece of grass had been growing
out of the ground, no problem, no penalty.But because it was loose, it was technically a "loose impediment," meaning Davis had a problem under the unforgiving
rules of golf.
As much as Furyk wanted the win, he felt awful for
Davis, and he said so.Today, Davis is being hailed for his honesty and integrity, as he should
Me, I realize the rules of
golf see the world only in black and white, no shades of gray.You broke the rule or you didn’t, regardless
of whether you meant to or not.No
excuses about the "rub of the green," the unwanted intervention of Mother
Nature or extenuating circumstances.
I don’t know, it just seems
heartless and unfair to me.And I
sure hate to see such a minor infraction determine the finish of a golf
I also agree with you, Joe. Itís not like Brian Davis tried to touch the twig, or like it had any affect whatsoever on the outcome of the shot.
Of course, this rule is no dumber than that rule that penalizes a player when a gust of wind causes the ball to wobble while he is addressing a putt.
[4/19/2010 12:27:07 PM]
Joe: I couldnít agree more. I am an avid golfer but one who thinks there is no honor in applying the rules of golf blindly. There was obviously no advantage gained from this inadvertent touch of a broken reed. I think a no harm/ no foul policy is "honorable" approach.
All this harrumping about the nobility of this tight-assed, inflexible, application of the rules of golf is silly.