When the U.S.
Golf Association named Mike Davis
its new executive director on Tuesday, they not only picked a capable executive
and good guy, they chose someone who was instrumental in bringing the 2013 U.S. Open to Merion GC.
Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules
and competitions, had had his eye on Merion for a while. A native of
Chambersburg, Pa., Davis was a longtime fan of the course and respectful of the
club's place in the game. He had also been in that original making-amends
meeting at Far Hills, so he knew the effort Merion was putting forth.
In the fall of 1998, Davis, then deputy to Tom Meeks,
had been invited to Merion to examine the changes, both underway and planned.
And there was something else.
"I was asked by Buddy [Marucci],
'Could you come down and tell our board why we can't have another Open?' "
recalls Davis. Therefore, it was not a trip Davis relished. "It is easier
telling somebody their kids are ugly," he says, "than telling them
their course can't hold an Open."
But a funny thing happened on that visit as Davis
played a round with Marucci, Iredale
and Greenwood: He became something of a believer in the possibilities for
Merion. He marveled at the improvements, especially the new tees and the
removal of trees that had clogged pedestrian traffic during the '81 Open.
As the Amateur approached, however, Davis
continued to visit. It was during one of those trips, in late 2001 or early
2002, over lunch in the Merion grillroom, that Davis dropped a bombshell. He
said he liked the changes so much he had broached the subject of trying to
figure a way to bring the Open to Merion with his boss, USGA executive director
"We were stunned," recalls Iredale.
Immediately, the conversation turned to the
outside-the-ropes obstacles. That's when someone at the table wondered aloud
about maybe using the acres and acres of wide-open space a stone's throw
away—the athletic fields at nearby Haverford College. During the '81
Open, those same fields had been used for parking. Why wouldn't they work for
corporate hospitality tents?
"We got up and went straight over to look at
it," says Iredale. The Haverford fields were
perfect, but given the scale of the modern Open, they would still need more
How about Merion's West Course, two minutes
further up Ardmore Avenue? And what about the mansions along Golf House Road,
adjacent to Merion? Could they put hospitality tents in their yards?
By the end of that day, Davis was all the more
convinced Merion could pull off another U.S. Open. Not a giant Open, such as
Bethpage or Pinehurst, with 45,000 spectators a day. But a smaller Open,
similar to Winged Foot, with room for 20,000 or 25,000 spectators per day.
"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.
After watching him go down in such ignominious fashion
to Thomas Bjorn in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, I think
it is time we all downgrade our expectations of Tiger Woods.
No longer does it appear to be an inevitable foregone
conclusion that he will break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major
championship.It’s not even clear
that he will ever win again, never mind add to his current total of 14 majors.
We all wanted to believe it when his close pal John
Cook played a recent round with Tiger and pronounced him to be thisclose to
being back to his old self.Of
course, then came Match Play, letting the air our of that balloon.
The thing is, besides lacking confidence in his
new swing, Tiger seems to also lack confidence in himself – an assertion
that I cannot believe I just typed.For so long, Tiger was the most confident athlete in any sport in the
world – and justifiably so.Now, at 35, he has lost his swing, lost his swagger and lost his way.
Tiger didn’t win a tournament at all last year,
for the first time in his career.In
three tournaments so far this year, he finished tied for 44th at
Torrey Pines, a course he virtually owns, shooting 74-75 on the weekend; he finished 20th at the Dubai
Desert Classic, stumbling to 75. And then there Match Play.
This once invincible athlete suddenly appears so...vincible.If it is hard for us to watch, imagine
what it must be like for Tiger, unable to recapture the magic, no longer able
to wow us with ease.
Who ever thought in a million years this is
what would become to Tiger Woods.
To everyone who stopped by our booth at the
Philadelphia Golf Show, thank you.
It was a great weekend, even if I did talk
about MyPhillyGolf.com until my lips
hurt and my voice was pretty much gone.That’s okay – anything for the cause.
I spend so much time working on and thinking
about this website, I forget that plenty of golfers in the region still don’t
know about us.There
was no end to the stream of golfers who walked by our booth, checked out our
9-foot wide banner, glanced at the computer screen showing off the home page,
then paused long enough for me to give them a tour of all that resides on MyPhillyGolf.
The reaction we heard time and again was just
what he wanted: Wow, it looks good and there is a ton of information.
Aside from the fresh content we upload daily,
the biggest hits with show-goers were the discounted tee times available via Golfnow.com, the Discussion
Boards and the Bausch
Collection, the amazing cache of photo course galleries on by Villanova
chemistry professor and golf addict Joe
We passed out 1,200 MyPhillyGolf pencils (with erasers) and collected several hundred
more email addresses for our new monthly e-newsletter.(If you signed up at the show and
haven’t received an e-newsletter by tomorrow, it’s probably because we couldn’t
read your handwriting.You can sign
up again on the home page.)
If you missed the Philadelphia show, or if you simply
can’t get enough of golf shows, there is another one is coming up this weekend,
the first-ever the Reading Golf Show.The Reading show is part of
the larger Sports and Fitness EXPO.One admission get gets you into
Vance Diezel, who is running the Reading
show, tells me in an email that they expect 8,000-10,000 people, and they’ve
got "big retailers selling golf equipment, bags, shoes, balls and probably
around 50 other vendors.""Basically
a smaller version of the North Coast type show but with different unique things
added in."They’ve also got raffles
and a silent auction.
Your are doing a great job here, Joe. Philadelphia needs a great golf website and you have certainly created on here. Good luck and best wishes on a successful venture.
[2/25/2011 5:33:49 AM]
JOE, GOOD SEEING AND TALKING GOLF AT THE NORTH COAST GOLF SHOW. YOU ARE A VALUABLE ASSET TO GOLF IN THE PHILLY AREA. AS I TOLD YOU I HAVE CONTACT MANY BUDDIES AROUND THE USA WHO ARE FROM HERE AND READ YOUR WEBSITE DAILY.
I AM REAL SORRY TO JUST READ ABOUT ISLAND GREEN. i ONLY PLAYED IT 2X, AND THOUGHT IT WAS A PLACE TO PLAY FOR THOSE LEARNING THE GAME AND IN AN AREA WITH MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO OTHER OPTIONS TO PLAY/PRACTICE.
GOLF IN GENERAL HAS SERIOUS PROBLEMS. JUST DONT SEE ENOUGH NEW/YOUNG GUYS STICKING WITH IT. THE ARE MANY LOCAL PRIVATE/PUBLIC COURSES THAT ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT COME 2012.
LOOKING FORWARD TO BETTER WEATHER, KEEP UP THE GOOD JOB,
The Muni Golfer
[2/19/2011 7:07:48 PM]
It was a pleasure to meet and talk with you at the golf show too. Keep up the great work!
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.)