GOLF CHRONICLES
Joe Logan 
 
 
Tiger has no chance at the Masters
Monday, March 28, 2011
By Joe Logan

The more I watch Tiger Woods fumbling his way around golf courses, the more inconceivable I find it that a player of his skill, success and confidence can be so totally lost.

 

C’mon, the guy has been a natural and preordained superstar since the moment he picked up a club while he was still in diapers.  Add to that the support system that was his parents, a work ethic that is second to none, a competitive drive to match, and the result was that run of greatness that we all got used, even began to take or granted.

 

So to see him mired in such frustration and ordinariness now pretty much defies the imagination.  How can he have gotten so lost?  How can he have become so uncertain of the most natural motion he has made in his 35 years -- his golf swing?  Outwardly, he still tries to project a certain bravado, but it’s all a front.  The man must be desperate by now.

 

Friends of Tiger’s have said that his primary emotion of these past 18 months is unspeakable shame and humiliation.  That’s understandable.   Aside from Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign the presidency during the Watergate scandal, it is hard to name another public figure who has fallen so far, so fast, as Tiger.  For that matter, at least before his troubles, Nixon was already a controversial political figure.  No so for Tiger, who had enjoyed an unblemished climb to the top as the ultimate athlete, success story, role model and corporate pitchman.

 

That he hit rock bottom and lost his image and his family, was unfortunate but to be expected.  You do the crime, you do the time. 

 

But given Tiger’s incredible ability to focus on the task at hand and to overcome all odds, I must say I imagined, even hoped, he would rise up out of the ashes better than he has so far.   We all know how badly he wants to win again, to regain his old superiority, to reestablish some semblance of his old life.

 

So to see him self-destruct with a 74-75 on the weekend, as he did at the Farmers Insurance Open, or shoot 74, as he did on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, or watch him finish bogey-double bogey on Sunday at Bay Hill...I don’t know; it just makes me sad.

 

With the Masters a week away, we are coming up on a year since Tiger’s return to competitive golf. I give him virtually not shot to win.  I expect him to make the cut, maybe attract some attention with a 69 or Friday or Saturday, then fade. I hate that I expect that. 

 

Put me in the camp that believes that if Tiger can resurrect his career, it will be the greatest story of redemption and recovery in modern sports.   I’m pulling for him.  Not because I like what he did or have any naive notions about who he is as a person.  I’m only pulling for him because how can I not?


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A new golf season dawns
Friday, March 11, 2011
By Joe Logan

If you haven’t played your first round of the year yet, what are you waiting for?

 

I hit my maiden tee shot at Talamore CC last Saturday, when skies were clear and the thermometer was flirting with 60.  The fairways were surprisingly full and green and the greens were slow but true, for this early in the season. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to hit 58 and I’ve got 10:20 a.m. tee time.

 

Across the region, courses are awakening from their winter slumber, sprucing up as the new season dawns.

 

"We’re off to a normal start," said Darin Bevard, senior agronomist with the U.S. Golf Association’s Mid-Atlantic office in Glen Mills.   "Most courses are getting opened, if it would stop raining on them."

 

At Whitemarsh Valley CC, superintendent Tony Gustaitis agreed.  "It’s a relatively normal spring, except for the rain last night."

 

As both Bevard and Gustaitis noted, yesterday’s day-long deluge, which ranged from 1½ to 3 inches, was a bit of a soggy setback.    Some courses, including Whitemarsh, were closed today because of the deluge.

 

"Courses only need 2-3 days to dry out," said Bevard.  "But we need some warm weather. We haven’t had any warm weather yet to speak of."

 

Some winters are harder than others on golf courses.  Gustaitis rated this winter as a 6 on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the worst. Bevard described this winter as pretty much average.   We had snow cover for about seven weeks, from right after Christmas to late February. Snow cover is not necessarily bad; it can a protective blanket for turf grass.  The good news is, we didn’t get much in the way of damaging ice storms.

 

The most damage to courses resulted the wet, heavy snow we got back in late January or early February, said Bevard.  That caused tree damage at many courses, as did high winds that whipped the region on several occasions.

 

"Conditions are...well, this is still the first week or so of March," said Bevard.  "Most courses are okay but guys haven’t had much chance to do much grooming."

 

Conditions are not the same everywhere.  In the Poconos, there are still some courses with snow.  The Jersey Shore, on the other hand, is a week to 10 days ahead of Philadelphia, said Bevard.

 

"The Shore doesn’t get as much snow as we do, and their courses drain a little better – at least some of them do."

 

Barring any weather setbacks, Bevard predicts Spring-like conditions will arrive right on time, around April 1.


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Mike Davis and Merion
Thursday, March 3, 2011
By Joe Logan

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.

 

Here’s the pertinent passage I wrote in a 2009 story for Golf World headlined "Resurrecting Merion."

 

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.

Then, later...

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 David Fay.

"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 room.

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.


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Downgrading expectations of Tiger
Monday, February 28, 2011
By Joe Logan

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.


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The Philadelphia Golf Show
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
By Joe Logan

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 Bausch.

 

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 everything.

 

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.

 

Enjoy.


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Adam Dean[3/6/2011 3:40:07 AM]
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.
HANK CHURCH[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, HANK CHURCH
The Muni Golfer[2/19/2011 7:07:48 PM]
Joe, It was a pleasure to meet and talk with you at the golf show too. Keep up the great work!

In defense of Kenny G
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
By Joe Logan

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 National Pro-Am.

 

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 list.

 

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 mock it.

 

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 RankingsLee 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 situation.


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Dave[2/9/2011 11:15:11 AM]
I could do with less of Gary McCord.

Tiger in the tank
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
By Joe Logan

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 OpenTiger 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 Tiger Of 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 Illustrated blog, 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 shrinking.

 

Steve Elling of CBSSports.com, in his Pond 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."

 

Unfortunately, no it doesn’t.


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hank church[2/3/2011 8:42:47 AM]
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.


 
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