I don’t have any great stories about Seve Ballesteros.I wish I did.
When I started covering golf full time for The Philadelphia Inquirer, in 1996, the
best years of Seve’s
remarkable career were already behind him.He won the last of his three British Open titles in 1988 and the
latter of his two Masters in 1983.
By the time I began traveling the tournament
wasn’t officially retired but his appearances were few and far between.As a former Masters champion, however, he did enjoy returning to Augusta to
play each year, even if he had become something of a ceremonial golfer.It was there, at one of his final Masters, that I had my only Seve "enocounter," if you want call it that.
I don’t recall the story I was working on that
day; all I remember is that I was trying to get a quote from every big-name
player I could as they made their way from the Augusta National clubhouse to the first tee or the practice putting
green, a distance of about 50 yards.
Getting quotes from players can be a dicey
business, depending on the player (jerk or not a jerk?), the question (can you
tell me about that triple-bogey?), whether they are late and so on and so
forth.Getting blown off by a guy
who never breaks stride or pretends not to hear your question is not uncommon.
What I remember about that particular day is
that I was not having much luck.I
had a few weak quotes in my notebook and a deadline that was looming.I was starting to get a little
Suddenly, there was Seve coming out of the locker
room, headed in my general direction.As always, Seve
had that air about him, that dignity, that look of purpose and he oozed that charisma
that made him popular with other players and especially with the ladies.
I made my move. "Seve," I said, practically blocking his
path."Got a second?"
He stopped, looked me in the eye and listened
as I asked my question.For a
moment, he said nothing, just looked at me.I thought to myself, oh, great, he’s about
to blow me off.But Seve surprised
"Walk with me," he said."I’m going to putt."
We walked together from the locker room, across
the back lawn of the Augusta National
clubhouse, through the thicket of patrons, all the way to the putting green,
talking every step of the way.When
we reached the practice putting green, Seve paused again, speaking for another minute or two,
completing his thoughts and filling my notebook in the process.
When he was finished, I thanked him. He smiled
and nodded and ducked under the ropes to go putt.
I had what I needed.Elated, I hustled off to the media
center.I remember thinking, What a
gentleman, what a class act.
With the demise of two
publications that used to list charity golf events in the region, MyPhillyGolf is trying to do what we
can to fill that void.If you look
down the left rail of our home page, you will see a link called Charity Event
Nothing would make us feel
more valuable and useful than to fill that page with a long list events from
around the region.All you need is
a charity event and a webpage we can link to.It’s free, no charge.
If you are running a charity
golf event, or you know a friend or a colleague with a charity event to
promote, please alert to our Charity Event
I am sick of calling up the weekly forecast on
my computer and seeing this:
with afternoon showers likely
Don’t even think about it
Sunday:You might get in nine holes before
No kidding, this is the rainiest spring I can
remember in years.I don’t know
that to be an absolute prove-able fact because none of the eight
superintendents (they keep charts and graphs) I’ve called in the past 30
minutes answered their cell phones.My guess is, they couldn’t hear their cell phones over the pumps they
were running to try to get their courses in playable for the weekend.
I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining when half
the South got flattened by tornadoes in the past few days.And, hey, the forecast for tomorrow
(Saturday) looks good.I’ll believe
it when I see it.Heck, at this
point, I’d take Cloudy with a Chance of
Even if I don’t have the actual rain stats at
my fingertips, I know I am not imaging this.Last week I played a round at the GC at Glen Mills with the general
manager, Paul Stuhlmiller.(Naturally, it was spritzing).At one point, I asked Paul if this spring had been as bad
weather-wise as I thought.He
winced like I had touched a nerve and said, "Yes, awful."
Thing is, a tee time is a perishable commodity,
like fruit or an airplane that takes off full of empty seats.Courses will never get that revenue
back.Golf courses are used to
getting iffy weather in March but not so much in mid- to late April.We are getting into the meat of their
Of course, most golf course owners, managers
and superintendents are as optimistic (naēve?) as farmers.It doesn’t matter if rain or drought or
a swarm of locusts killed last year’s crop, they are farmers to the bone and
they are going to plant again next year.
Now that we are finally
getting some decent golf weather, it seems like a good time to once again draw
your attention to one of the most valuable assets this website has to offer
– The Bausch Collection.
The Bausch Collection, if you haven’t checked it out before, is a
remarkable assemblage of photos of golf courses in the region, both public and
private.There is a link to The Bausch Collection on
the green left rail of the MyPhillyGolf
home page, under Photos.Want to
check out a golf course before you make a tee time?Take a tour via The Bausch Collection.If it’s not there, it might be coming
The Bausch Collection isn’t the official name of the galleries.I dubbed the photos that a year ago,
when the golf addict who shoots them, Villanova chemistry profession Joe Bausch, offered to left us house
them on MyPhillyGolf.I jumped at the chance, recognizing a
good thing when I see one.
I wrote a blog
introducing The Bausch Collection last September, when we had only uploaded
a fraction of the courses Joe has
photographed.Now, we’ve uploaded
them all, except that Joe keeps
adding to the collection.
It is hard to believe that
he shoots these photos with a small point-and-shoot camera, not some $4,000
single lens reflex number like a professional photographer would use.I’ve also played with Joe as he is shooting a course.He does it quickly and discreetly,
without holding up the group.
Anyway, if you haven’t
looked over TheBausch Collection, I recommend you
do so.And if you know of a course that
would be a good addition to the collection, send me an email
and I’ll pass it along to Joe.
If you haven’t heard and seen all the fuss and
commotion over the TaylorMade
R11 driver, with its distinctive white head and
adjustable settings, you’ve either been in a cave or on a six-month
bender.The R11 is quite the talk on the PGA Tour and, therefore, a seriously hot item with amateurs who buy
every advantage they can afford.
If you follow this space with any regularity,
you might also recall that last year, I plunked down some serious change for a
new, fitted driver, a Titleist 909D Comp.It had a head on it about the size of a small
pumpkin, plus all the bells and whistles of the golf technology at that
moment.I liked it; I l still like
it a lot, mainly because I could really hit it.We made beautiful music together.
Then the TaylorMade R11 caught my eye.
My pal at TaylorMade said he would send me
one, if I would play it and write what I thought about it.I said I would, but that I would write what
I really thought.He said he and the
boys in the lab at TaylorMade
were willing to take that risk.He advised
me to get myself fitted in Philadelphia and send him the specs.
I knew right away who I would call: Just a few
weeks earlier I had gotten a PR release noting that the Golf Galaxy in Devon had been picked by Golf Digest as one of the Top
100 fitting facilities in the country, thanks to their fitting guy, Leigh Taylor, a PGA Master Professional
and Life Member. As it
happens, I know Leigh.He fits and sells all makes and models of
drivers and irons, and he takes this stuff as seriously as a heart surgeon
takes a triple bypass.
A few mornings later, I was in Leigh’s fitting bay."I’ve never seen a driver sell like the R11," Leigh told me as I loosened up."Never seen anything like it."
has high praise for several manufacturers, he offered a particular nod to TaylorMade,
which invented the metal-headed wood and, later, what he called MWT, or "moveable
weight technology."For the weekend
chop who doesn’t have the time, money or inclination for a series of lessons,
he can fight a slice with MWT by shifting the weights in the toe and heel of
has gone one further -- two, really.Not only does it have 1-gram and 10-gram weights that can be moved from
heel to toe, as needed, it has an adjustable shaft, enabling you to increase or
decrease the loft of the clubface by as much as a full degree.Finally, it has a bumper plate on the
bottom of the club that gives you another tool in the battle against hooks and
slices: an adjustable clubface, with settings of open, neutral or closed.
After an hour of hitting balls with a series of
shafts with different flexes and kick points, Leigh printed out a long sheet that measured the results: club
speed, ball speed, launch angle, ball spin, carry, deviation, even something
called PTR, which stands for "power transfer ratio," tech-speak for was I
catching it on the "sweet spot?"
I have hit a low ball all my life, so the
biggest puzzle for Leigh was the
elusive combination of ball speed/launch angle/ball spin.Finally, he had it: A Fubuki (stiff)
shaft, 10.5 degrees of loft, set ½ degree up, to 11 degrees; the heavier
10-gram weight in the heel, to fight my inclination to hit it right; and the
bumper plate set to neutral.
A week or so later, my new R11 arrived.
I have now hit about a dozen buckets of balls
and played four rounds with it.My
assessment: I like it more each time out.
In our maiden round together, I wasn’t sold. I
couldn’t hit a fairway.Everything
was going right because...well, because I occasionally battle a case of driver
yips, and because sometimes golf hates me and mocks me and loves to see me
suffer.I could not lay the blame
for those terrible drives at the feet of the R11 or any other club.
With each round since, as my confidence in my swing
has returned, my driving has improved .I played on Friday and only missed one fairway.On the three or four tee shots
when I truly connected, I strutted off the tee box hugging my new driver.The R11
felt as good as any driver I’ve ever hit.
The adjustability is, of course, one of its biggest
selling points of the R11.Now that I have it set to my liking, it
is hard to know whether I will make further adjustments from time to time.I’m keeping my little TaylorMade
wrench in the back of my car, just in case.
I’m enough of a traditionalist that initially,
I wasn’t crazy about the R11’s white
head.But it is growing on me, and I’m
starting to find it oddly soothing, although I have no idea why.
And one benefit I had not considered: the face
of the R11 is a dull black that
tends to show where on the club face you connected.If it feels like you caught one on the
toe, the proof is in the mark on the face of the club.
Joe, good luck with the R11. Sounds like its sets up for you well. Iíve previously tried TaylorMadeís r7 and R9, but was never able to dial it in and make the technology work for me on a consistent basis.
Just when it looked like the
final round of the Masters was as
good as it could possibly get, it got better.
Could you believe that final
Thrills, spills, birdies
galore, careers being made and, sadly, the heartbreak that was Rory McIlroy’s
humiliating moment in the global spotlight.To his credit, when it was over, young Rory, who is still younger than half
the golf shirts in my closet, stood there and faced the media like a man.He had wilted under the suffocating pressure
and there was no denying it.He
didn’t try to.The good news is,
what doesn’t kill him will make him stronger.Rory will be back, and I am willing to bet, he will win the Masters within the next three years.
It was also good to see Tiger Woods hitting on all cylinders
for most of the final round.Only a
couple of weeks ago, he looked totally lost.Now, suddenly, we see glimmers of the Tiger of old.That bodes well for the U.S. Open.
CharlSchwartzel has a gorgeous golf swing and, obviously, and poise
under pressure.But his name looks
misspelled and before today I couldn’t pick him out in a police lineup. Personally,
I was rooting for, in this order: (1) Rory
McIlroy (2) Tiger
(3) Adam Scott (4) Luke Donald (5) Jason Day.
Still, it’s hard to be
disappointed when the Masters set
the tone for a great season of majors.
That obit was a good story Joe. Check out this piece by Buzz Bissinger, http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-04-14/tiger-woods-is-never-coming-back-despite-brief-masters-moment/#
[4/12/2011 10:23:51 AM]
Muni Golfer - Yes, a glimmer, albeit a faint glimmer. Check out the very good story I posted today by Cam Morfit today -- itís an obit for Tigerís aura.
[4/12/2011 10:21:44 AM]
Sports shrinks have won exactly the same number of majors as swing gurus.
Come to think of it, Iím not sure McIlroy even has a sports shrink. Heís not old enough to have become a head case yet, although if the Masters didnít turn him into one, I donít know what will.
[4/11/2011 5:46:48 PM]
McIlroy should fire his shrink. They all should fire their shrinks. How many majors have the shrinks won? The only reason they can take credit for anything is the fact that they have so many clients, somebody has to win. Do the golf writers ever think of that? It never made sense to me that the advice for a 54 hole leader is to hide from the pressure on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Wouldnít it be better to walk around in circles all night and get used to the pressure? Schwartzl, Day and Scott saved this yearís Masterís. Until the last couple of holes, it was really a quest for a winner by default.
The Muni Golfer
[4/11/2011 7:03:07 AM]
"Now, suddenly, we see glimmers of the Tiger of old." Hmmm, didnít we say the same thing after he finished 4th at The Masters last year? Only time will tell...