Every year at this time, it is fashionable
among many golf fans and pretty much all of the golf media that doesn’t work
for CBS Sports to turn up their noses
the AT&T Pebble Beach
The big complaint, of course, is that CBS devotes entirely too much air time
to the pro-am luminaries and lame-o celebrities.For years, the stars of the pro-am show
have been the same: Bill Murray,
followed by Kevin Costner, Craig T. Nelson, Michael Bolton, Ray Romano
and the one and only Kenny G. Full
While I am in full agreement that even a
glimpse of ESPN blowhard Chris "Boomer"
Berman is too much, the AT&T
Pebble Beach is actually one of my favorite tournaments of the year –
or at least it’s in the top 50 percent – for all the reasons other people
First, what is not to like about watching golf
going on at Pebble Beach when we
have a foot of snow on the ground in Philadelphia.Second, if watching George Lopez and Tom Dreesen hack it around and ham it up drives you nuts,
either your intolerance meter is set too low or your life is too good by half.
If you ask me, there is something almost pleasurable
about witnessing millionaire celebs failing spectacularly at golf.I find it rather gratifying to see them
just as humbled by the game as I am.
I don’t even mind watching the occasional
ruthless and egomaniacal corporate titan – there are plenty of those also
in the AT&T pro-am field –
as they slap it around.Golf seems
to be the one thing in life they can’t conquer.
The whole celeb scene is really only borderline
too much for one day, on Saturday, since I no longer watch the early rounds of golf
tournaments because...well, they don’t matter.By Sunday, when I truly pay
attention, the cut has eliminated most of the amateurs and celebs and we are
down to the usual suspects – a few big-name stars and a field filled out
by journeymen Tour players who most of us couldn’t identify if they were
standing on the front stoop ringing the doorbell.
Sadly, the AT&T
Pebble Beach National Pro-Am doesn’t have the cache it once had, back when
it was the Bing Crosby Clambake and
the European Tour was a joke.Nowadays, in golf, the AT&T is overshadowed by the Dubai Desert Classic, where this week
Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the World Golf
Rankings – Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer
and Tiger Woods – are grouped
for the first two rounds.
That’s a shame and too bad for the AT&T and too bad for the PGA Tour.Personally, I can’t wait to hear Kenny G’s thoughts on the whole
Whoa, did I just see what I thought I saw at Torrey Pines?
Just as we all settled in to watch the final
two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open
– Tiger Woods’ first
tournament of 2011, at one of his favorite courses, where he has won six times,
plus his herculean victory at the 2008 U.S.
Open – what we saw was more or less an unmitigated disaster.
Forget exploding out of the blocks.Forget Tiger serving notice that the TigerOf Old is back, with a reliable
swing he retooled under Sean Foley.Forget him even doing anything of note.
After putting himself in decent position with a
pair of 69s on Thursday and Friday, Tiger
shot 74-75 on the weekend and fell 20 spots to finish T-44th,
leaving more than a few golf fans with their jaws on the floor.It was an unexpected embarrassment.
It was so bad that his playing partner in the
final round, a rookie named Brendan
Steele, told Sports
Illustrated afterward that he thought Tiger essentially mailed it in.
"I don’t think he gave it everything today,"
said Steele."Once it started going in the wrong
direction, I don’t think it had his full attention."
There was a time not so long ago that no golfer
alive would dare say such a thing about Tiger
– nor would there ever be reason to.
We are left wondering if the air has already
gone out of Tiger’s season, and
maybe even his career?Does he have
the desire required to get back to any semblance of what he was?
Joe Posnanski, in his Sports Illustratedblog,
notes that the circle of folks who think Tiger
will go back in time keeps getting smaller and smaller, that the "Tiger will be great again" school is
Steve Elling of CBSSports.com, in
Scrum blog with John Huggan, was even tougher: "Blunt assessment time.I saw a I guy who still can’t string
together four good rounds.He
barely pieced together two good nines.Right now, Tiger Woods isn’t
one of the world’s 40 best players.Last night in the San Diego airport, a bunch of scribes were actually
discussing what would happen if he never made it back to anything close to his
former levels at all.All of a
sudden, it didn’t sound like heresy."
joe, you are right on with your tiger comments. His performance at torrey Pines was not good. On thursday coming out of a fairway trap, he dropped the biggest F BOMB ever on live tv.Faldo had to apoligizes in his own humor.
Tiger lives with ANGER that is beyond belief. You cant play golf at any level with that many off course issues that will never go away.
2 years ago , he was on top of the world in life and in the public eye. today he lives with divorce, disgrace and being public enemy #1.
his best golf is behind him at age 35. and i was a tiger guy.
Is it more than mere coincidence that the very
same week that MyPhillyGolf
is unveiling a new, improved version of itself, so is Tiger Woods.
Me, I think new beginnings are usually a good
What to expect when Tiger tees it up for the first time in Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey
Pines GC, a course where he has dominated since boyhood, most recently at
the 2008 U.S. Open?
If you’re like me, you’ve had it up to your
coccyx with all of the unseemly, salacious details about the personal problems
that crashed Tiger’s life in late 2009.Most of us will never look at Tiger
the way we did pre-scandal, when he wasn’t merely the most dominant golfer in
the game, he was husband, father and role model who seemed too good to be true.
Turns out it was all too good to be
Still, I for one, will rooting for Tiger to have a big year.He needs it if he is ever going to achieve
his ultimate goal in the game of eclipsing Jack
Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship titles.More to the point, golf needs Tiger to be back. Without him in top
form, golf loses much of it’s sizzle.
Even if he starts winning again, don’t expect
him to ever own the game again, and he will never leave the other pros quaking
in their FootJoys when he strides onto the practice
Tiger has been brought down a
notch, by himself and by his fellow gunslinger pros.Did you see what U.S. Open champion Graeme
McDowell did to him at the final event of the year, the Chevron World Challenge, rolling in
20-footers to beat Tiger, just the way
he used to roll them in on everyone else?There is also the fact that Tiger
is now 35.If you check the stats
on who has won majors after 35, they do not bode well for beating Nicklaus’ record.
far from done. In the old days, when he was one of the most awe-inspiring
athletes in the world in any sport, Tiger
had to search for, and often create, motivation for himself.
Not any more.Not only did he go winless last year for
the first time in his career, just yesterday, he fell to No. 3 in the World Golf Rankings, behind Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, the up-and-coming German
who served notice by winning the PGA
Championship last summer at Whistling
While he disgraced himself, in some ways this
whole embarrassing mess has made Tiger
a more compelling figure.He is
human and quite flawed after all, and nothing is better than a come-back
story.You can talk all you want about
the rise of the Europeans and the exciting array of young guns, but if you ask
me, 2011 is still all about Tiger.
If you’re a regular visitor to MyPhillyGolf,
you might notice that our home page looks a little different.Please bear with us as we make some design
changes that are intended to better organize and display our content and make
the website more user-friendly.The
tweaks are likely to be on-going for another week or two, until we are
Change can be difficult, but it can also be necessary
and exciting.Our first full year
has been good, very good.
Without any advertising, marketing or promotion
golfers across the region have discovered MyPhillyGolf and, in many cases,
become regular, even daily, visitors.Through word-of-mouth alone, we’ve had 1.2 million page views this year
Our quest for 2011 is to build on that good
start to make for an even better sophomore year.The new look is only one of the
improvements and enhancements we have in mind.I’ll tell you more as they get closer to
In the meantime, all the features you’ve come
to enjoy on MyPhillyGolf
are still there – just maybe in a different place and with a different
I agree with Joe.However if I were not in Show biz and I was sitting in a bar back in my old neighborhood in Chicago I’d be saying "get those jerks out out there, I want to see real golfers play the game not those spoiled Hollywood brats"That being said, I always hope that somewhere out there is a guy like me who grew up poor and caddied as a kid to help feed his family and who could only dream that one day he might get a chance to caddy for some rich guy in the AT&T but now he’s actually playing in the tournament. If he’s out there then I hope he knows I’m playing for him too.(I’ll give him credit for all the bad shots.)
Fay prepares to retire as executive director of the U. S. Golf Association, it should not go unacknowledged that
Philadelphia owes him a debt of gratitude.
If not for Fay’s
adamant support, Merion GC would not
be preparing to host the 2013 U.S. Open,
a sporting spectacle that will put the city in the national spotlight and pump
millions of dollars into the economy.
Of course, even Fay had to be convinced that Merion,
supposedly a classic from a bygone era in golf, was up to hosting its fifth Open.That happened in 2002, after Fay had dispatched Mike Davis, senior director of rules and competitions, to Merion to break the news that from here
on out, the club would only host smaller events, such as the 2005 U.S. Amateur and the 2009 Walker Cup.
Once he got a closer look at the restoration
project at Merion, Davis thought otherwise, and he
returned to USGA headquarters in Far
Hills, N.J. and pitched his boss with the idea of bringing the Open back to Merion.Only after Fay was on board did Merion truly become a serious candidate
Here’s a passage from a story I wrote for Golf World in August 2009, headlined Resurrecting Merion.
"I remember it like it was
yesterday, walking into David Fay's office when I got back, saying, 'We can do
this, we can hold an Open at Merion,' " Davis recalls. Fay listened but
was not convinced. That soon changed, too, in September 2002, when Fay was
invited to be the keynote speaker at Merion's annual celebration of Jones'
Slam, a day that included golf and a black-tie gala.
During his round Fay began to grasp all
that Davis had been telling him. "You would have had to be blind not to
appreciate the changes that had been made," says Fay, who suddenly was
also in Merion's corner. Ultimately, though, the prospects hinged on whether
the logistics could be overcome and if Merion could stand up to the longest
hitters in the game.
As the 2005 U.S. Amateur approached, it
was clear the event, filled with college-aged bombers, would be a make-or-break
test for the Open. By the second day of stroke-play qualifying, the results
were in—Merion had passed with flying colors. Of 312 players, only six
broke par, and none of them had better than 69. The scoring average on the East
Course was 78.2.
"By Tuesday night, we were
high-fiving," says Iredale, general chairman of
the Amateur, knowing the verdict was unofficially in.
I’ve been so happy with the custom-fitted driver I got this past summer, I figured only good could
come of taking the plunge and getting fitted for a new set of irons.
I had no idea how right I
would turn out to be.
Now, as the golf season
draws to a close in the Northeast, I find myself swooning over my
newly-acquired, custom-fitted irons.I also find myself perusing the internet in search of discount deals to warm-weather
golf destinations – anything to extend the honeymoon with the new love of
my golfing life.
Why am I going ga-ga over new set of irons?
Because there is a sudden
and noticeable improvement in my iron game. Thanks to a combination of the process of
custom-fitting and my switch to a set of game-improving TaylorMade Burner 2.0 irons, I am
hitting the ball a few yards farther, a little higher, and there is an
unmistakable and much-appreciated forgiveness when I slightly mishit a shot.
A little background
My iron game, which has been
adequate at best for the past couple of years, was getting increasingly iffy
Sure, I could fault my
swing, which is no longer the well-oiled, finely-tuned picture of perfection
that I like to believe it once was.But why not lay some of the blame at the feet of the irons I’d been
playing for the past four or five years: Mizuno
Cut Muscle MP-60s?
course, is one of the premier manufacturers of irons, especially their top-of-the-line
stuff.Nobody in their right mind
would dispute that fact.If
anything, Mizuno has earned a
reputation as a "player’s iron," favored by plenty of pros and top amateurs.
Although I am neither a pro
nor a top amateur, I can tell you with some authority that a perfectly-struck
shot with a Mizuno Cut Muscle MP-60 iron
feels like a dream.It feels so
good it’ll send chills up your spine.
But I can also tell you that
on even the slightest mishit – anything less than a perfect, sweet-spot connection
– can feel like you clanked a shovel against the side of an Army tank,
sending shivers up your spine and down your arms.The negative feedback is instantaneous, right
down to the dead-buzzard flight of the ball.
I knew my Mizunos and I had
come to the end of our journey together during a round in September, when my
cart mate (I barely knew him) made some variation of the following observation after
pretty much every shot I hit: "That didn’t sound good.Did you get all of it?"
Problem was, well, yeah, on
most of those shots, I did get all of it – or about as much as I was ever
going to get.
The search for new irons
Within days of that round, I
was investigating the latest offerings in irons from all the manufacturers.The choices were mind-boggling.
About the only thing I knew
for sure was that getting a set of blades was out of the question.Regardless of the manufacturer, blades
are so unforgiving that even many PGA
Tour players have abandoned them in favor of perimeter-weighted irons.
I was also not wedded to any
particular manufacturer.Over the
years, before my Mizunos,
I’ve owned and played just about
every brand at one time or another: Clevelands (two sets), Titleists, Callaways, Hogans and Wilson Staffs.All I
knew was that this time around I wanted – needed – irons that were more forgiving and less judgmental
than my current set.
As it happened, that very
week I got an email from TaylorMade touting their latest game-improvement irons that
were about to hit the market, the Burner
2.0. Intrigued, I clicked
on the link and watched a video featuring Bret
Wahl, senior director of iron research at TaylorMade, explaining why the Burner 2.0s were "breakthrough"
technology.I liked what I saw.
What closed the deal for me
was a phone conversation with a longtime colleague at TaylorMade.This is a no-BS guy and he assured me
the early feedback the company was getting on the Burner 2.0s was very positive.
By the end of that week, I
was on the range at Manufacturer’s Golf
& Country Club, getting fitted under the watchful eye of a young
assistant pro named LowenLermitte.
First off, to determine
whether I needed stiff or regular shafts, Lowen he had me take a few cuts
to loosen up.Then he handed me
something called the Speed Stik, which is basically a golf club without the head;
instead, down at the tip, there is device that measures your swing speed.
Last time I got measured,
which was several years ago, my swing speed with a driver was 104 miles per
hour.That’s well below the average
Tour player (113) and nowhere close
to the longest hitters (Tiger is 120-130).This time, Speed Stik had me consistently in the
93-95 mph range, which means I still need stiff shafts – but just barely.
handed me a 6-iron with a stiff shaft and pulled out what looked like a
clipboard, or like one of those little rubber tee mats you see at a Putt-Putt course.Next, Lowen put a special kind of tape
along the sole of the 6-iron and had me hit several balls off the
clipboard.Where the sole of the
club made contact with the clipboard, the tape was scraped and darkened.
To the trained fitter, the
scrapes on the tape indicate whether my new irons should be the standard lie or
whether they needed to be bent slightly upright or flat. I’m 6-foot-1 so the presumption is that,
if anything, I would need clubs that are a degree or two upright.The scraped tape clearly revealed otherwise.Despite my height, I actually needed
irons that were 1-degree flat.
After I hit a couple of
dozen balls with the stiff steel shafts, I told Lowen I wanted to try the stiff shaft
in graphite.He shook his head,
like it was a bad idea."You’ll
like the steel better," he said.
Still, I wanted to give the
graphite a try, if only to see for myself.Ten balls into the graphite experiment, I handed the club back to Lowen.He was right.The steel shafts had a better feel, and
I swear there was less dispersion to the shot pattern.
The irons arrive
When the Burner 2.0s arrived late one afternoon about
a month later, there was still enough light to take them for a spin.I only got in seven holes before dark,
but it was enough to give me a sense that I was going to be very pleased.
I played my first full round
with new irons the next week, at Bidermann
GC near Wilmington.It was then that I fully came to
appreciate what I had stumbled into.
Early on in the round at Bidermann, I hit
mostly short irons into par 4s and a three-shot par 5.I liked the way the ball sounded jumping
off the club, and there was none of that clanky
sensation I got with my old irons on a slight mishit.
The most convincing evidence
– and the shot of the day -- came at the 8th , which at Bidermann is a
picturesque, 190-yard downhill par 3.I pulled my 5-iron, for what would be the debut shot with the longest
iron I carry.I made a good pass at
the ball-- good, not perfect --
but it felt as flush as if Ben Hogan
had hit it.
When I looked up, I was
watching a rocket, dead straight, and the ball was flying considerably higher
than I usually hit long irons.I
could play 10 rounds with my old irons and never hit a shot that felt that good,
that solid.And it didn’t just look
and feel good, it was good.The ball
landed on the back of the green, took one hop and stopped about 20 feet from
One of the truisms of golf
is that, if you are on good terms with your long irons, the other irons fall
into line, like baby ducks. The
rest of that round, and in three or four rounds since, things have only gotten
better between me and my new irons.
I’m not foolish enough to
think this honeymoon will necessarily last forever.I’ve got about a dozen putters in
various stages of "time out" in my basement now that prove otherwise.These new irons could eventually betray
me, just like those putters did.
For now, however, and
hopefully well into the future, we are happy together.I have to close now, because I
want to look for more discount golf trips online.
The real triumph will come if you can beat Dan/Cole on a regular basis.
[12/15/2010 6:27:04 AM]
[12/14/2010 8:49:43 PM]
Fran - These days, the cost of custom-fitting is usually included in the price of the clubs. But if your plan is to get fitted at a chain store or a private club, then buy the clubs online, the store will usually charge you a fee for the fitting (about $50).
[12/14/2010 5:20:59 AM]
Congratulations on the new custome fit sticks. Nothing better than the feeling that you made the right decision. I’ll have to do the same thing when I get some extra cash. i’d love to have fitted clubs. Does it add much to the cost of the clubs to be fitted?
This time of year, when the
fall colors are at their richest, nature offers few places more spectacular
than golf courses, especially here in the Northeast.
That’s why when photographer
Dan Husted and I were kicking around
ideas for MyPhillyGolf’s
first photo essay
a few weeks ago, we decided he should take advantage of the season’s changing
We considered several
courses, each abundant with deciduous trees, before Dan ultimately settled on Jeffersonville
GC, the Donald Ross-designed municipal course operated by West Norriton Township.
Dan had his
reasons.First, there is his
fondness for Jeffersonville as a
course he plays regularly (14.4 handicap).Second, he knew it had plenty of precisely the kind of trees he needed
to make the best photographs.
Fact is, Dan already had begun building a photo
archive of Jeffersonville.It also didn’t hurt that he had come to
know and like the staff at Jeffersonville,
and he thought they would be enthusiastic about his project. He was right.
By way of introduction, Dan spent 15 years as a professional
photographer in New York City, before moving to Philadelphia seven years
ago.In New York, he shot for
prominent advertising agencies and design firms, on assignments that took him
around the world.
Since moving to
Philadelphia, Dan has begun
concentrating on golf photography, for books and magazines.His clients have included the U.S. Golf Association, the U.S. Open program, Golf magazine, Senior Golf
Magazine, Links magazine and Perry Golf.
For more on Dan, his work and his complete list ofclients, check out DanHusted.com.
"I’ve always referred to
myself as a picture taker, not a picture maker," says Dan. "I let the situation at hand guide me.I think it creates a more spontaneous