GOLF CHRONICLES
Phil Mickelson 
 
 
What does Phil Mickelson still have in the tank?
Thursday, June 2, 2011
By Joe Logan

Every now and then, something happens in golf that makes you wonder, what is wrong with this picture?  One of those things just happened.

 

It hit home for me as I was reading today’s story by Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press about Phil Mickelson yearning to win this week’s the Memorial Tournament, where living legend Jack Nicklaus is the host.  Other than the U.S. Open, the Memorial is about the only significant title in golf on American soil that Mickelson has yet to win.

 

Deep down in the story, we are reminded that ever since Tiger Woods arrived on the scene, Mickelson has been relegated to the second most-dominant player on the PGA Tour, perhaps the world.  He has 39 PGA Tour titles and four majors.  Nobody else is even close.

 

Yet,  for all his accomplishments, Mickelson has never won a money title, never been voted Player of the Year and never been the No. 1 player in the world golf rankings.

 

We note this on the very week when the new No. 1 player in the world is Luke Donald, a nice man and fine player, but one who has never won a single major and won only three times on the PGA Tour and three times on the European Tour, most recently the BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth.

 

I note this not so much to disrespect Donald or to criticize the methodology of the world golf rankings; Donald has, in fact, been a hot and steady player in the past year.

 

My point is more the absurdity of what has been denied Mickelson over the course of his career.  No golfer has labored in the shadows of Tiger more than Mickelson.  If not for Tiger, no golfer could have won more tournaments, more majors, more money and more respect than Mickelson.

 

At 41, Mickelson is entering a crucial stretch of his career.  He’s still very competitive, but there is no denying that the buzzer has sounded to commence the fourth quarter.  And with distractions such as his own health issues (arthritis) and his wife’s breast cancer, it’s hard to know how much Mickelson has left in the tank.

 

It’s had not to notice that even with Tiger missing-in-action for the past 18 months, Mickelson has been unable to take advantage and finally rise to No. 1 in the world.  If he is ever going to do it, now is the time.


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Tiger and Mark Steinberg 
What to make of Steinberg’s exit from IMG
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
By Joe Logan

There is a chance I am reading too much into it but the fact that IMG has effectively squeezed out Tiger’s longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, would seem to speak volumes: specifically that the international management company’s sense is that the most famous golfer in the world is now irredeemably damaged goods.

 

IMG, the 800-pound gorilla of sports management companies, had to know that when Steinberg walked, there is a very good chance Tiger would be right behind him.  In fact, no one should be surprised if Steinberg hangs his own shingle starting next week, with Tiger as his first client.

 

If you missed it, the news broke Tuesday that Steinberg, the head of IMG’s golf operations in North America, could not come to terms on an agreement to extend his contract, which expires in June.   Steinberg has been a huge player at IMG for years, with a stable of clients that includes Tiger, Annika Sorenstam and Steve Stricker.   Even more intriguing is that word leaked to a couple of well-connected writers that IMG pretty much offered Steinberg a deal they knew he would refuse.   You know, they wanted him gone. 

 

To appreciate the magnitude of Steinberg’s departure, it would help to have seen him and Tiger interacting at tournaments over the years.  Tiger calls him "Steiny." All smart and smooth, Steiny was never more than an arm’s length away at all times.

 

At press conferences, it was a slight nod from Steinberg that would give the okay to commence the questioning.  Another nod from Steinberg was the cue to bring down the curtain.  He advised Tiger on all things in golf and in life, and his fingerprints are on every endorsement deal Tiger has done for the past 12-plus years.  If Tiger becomes the first billion-dollar athlete, Steinberg deserves his share of the credit. Not surprisingly, he guarded Tiger like a mama guards her cubs, controlling any and all access.  More than a few golf writers thought of Steinberg as "Dr. No."

 

When Tiger’s personal life went into a tailspin, it was Steinberg who managed the damage control from behind the scenes – or at least he tried to.  If anything, it was what many regard as Steinberg’s failure to control any damage, his bungling of Tiger’s sordid crisis, that might have made IMG believe he had become expendable.

 

Even so, when keeping Tiger Woods as a client hangs in the balance, it’s hard to believe that IMG wouldn’t have kept Steinberg on so long as Tiger’s career continued to throw off a steady stream of huge commissions.  IMG is not known for leaving money on the table.  However, with his reputation in tatters and the future of his golf career uncertain because of one injury and ailment after another, the days of Tiger gushing million-dollar commissions for IMG or any other agent might be entering a downward trend.

 

All of this is speculation, of course.  But the fact is, Steinberg has been the golden boy – dare we say the Tiger Woods of IMG -- for the past decade.  If nothing else, his departure is further proof that nothing about Tiger or his career is the same any more.


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Steve[5/25/2011 9:13:49 PM]
TW can’t even get a sponsor for his bag. He dropped his price from 8M to 5M and still no takers.

A worthwhile charity pro-am
Friday, May 13, 2011
By Joe Logan

If you don’t mind, please indulge me for a moment as I promote a very worthwhile charity pro-am of which I happen to be the honorary chairman.

 

It’s called the 2011 Tournament of Champions and it’s being conducted by the Lower Bucks County chapter of the American Red Cross on May 24 at Makefield Highlands GC in Yardley.

 

You’d have a hard time finding an organization anywhere in the world that does more valuable or better work than the Red Cross.  Buy a sponsorship, a spot or a foursome in the pro-am and you can feel like you’ve done something worthwhile.  If you haven’t played Makefield Highlands, you’re also in for a treat of a round.

 

In these tough times, I don’t have to tell you how charities have to struggle to maintain their levels of contributions.  It is not easy for anybody or any organization, including the Red Cross.

 

A bunch of area club pros are pitching in to do their part, offering their time to play.  The list of pros is impressive.

 

I hope to see you at Makefield Highlands on May 24.


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My only Seve story
Saturday, May 7, 2011
By Joe Logan

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 circuit, Seve 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 concerned.

 

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 me.

 

"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, with Seve 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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 


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Bill W.[5/8/2011 8:16:50 AM]
Seve was a class act. He will be missed.

Calling all charity golf events
Friday, May 6, 2011
By Joe Logan

Calling all charity golf events.

 

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 Calendar.

 

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 Calendar.


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Some chump in the rain 
Enough with the rain
Friday, April 29, 2011
By Joe Logan

I am sick of rain.

 

I am sick of calling up the weekly forecast on my computer and seeing this:

 

Monday: Thunderstorms

Tuesday: Worse thunderstorms

Wednesday: Intermittent showers

Thursdays: Rain

Friday: Cloudy with afternoon showers likely

Saturday: Ha! Don’t even think about it

Sunday:  You might get in nine holes before it rains

 

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 Meatballs.

 

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 seasons.

 

Of course, most golf course owners, managers and superintendents are as optimistic (na•ve?) 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.

 

Me, I’ve got tee times Saturday and Sunday.


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Professor/photographer/golf addict Joe Bausch 
Again, say hello to The Bausch Collection
Monday, April 25, 2011
By Joe Logan

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 soon.

 

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 The Bausch 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.

 

Enjoy.


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