PRESS PASS
My old pull cart 
 
Ode to a pull cart
Monday, July 18, 2011
By Joe Logan

I was cleaning out the basement late Sunday afternoon as I pondered what I might write about the British Open and Darren Clarke’s heartwarming and long-overdue victory, when I made a pleasant and unexpected discovery.  Back in the corner, under a pile of junk, I came across my old pull cart.

 

When was the last time I saw this thing, let alone used it?

 

My immediate reaction was to set it aside for the trash truck on Monday morning, which I did.  But as I returned to my cleaning and rummaging, I kept thinking of the history this old cart and I have together. 

 

It’s old and creaky and layered with crud.  But when I stretched out its legs and extended its arm, I could see there was still life in the old pull cart.  A touch of arthritis, maybe, but no serious sprains or broken bones.  A cleaning rag here, a drop of oil there, and it would be practically as good as new.  When I laid my son’s golf bag into its waiting arms and gave it a whirl around the basement, I realized there was no way I was parting with this valued relic from my golfing past.

 

I say it is mine, because it has been for the past 40-plus years.  Originally, it was my late father’s.  He passed it on to me when I was in high school and he got a new one for himself. 

 

My father was a firm believer in pull carts.  He loved golf, and he played with a passion until he was almost 90. But to him, the game was as much about the walk and the exercise as it was about hitting the ball – he walked briskly and with a purpose.  In all our rounds together, I saw him ride in a cart maybe a half-dozen times, and it was always at some fancy resort or vacation spot where carts were mandatory.  He endured it like he was wearing a hair shirt.

 

I didn’t quite inherit my father’s insistence on walking, although I did put thousands more miles on that pull cart.  Why I have hung onto it for all these years, through six states and 20 or more moves, I can’t say.  Truth is, I wasn’t even aware I still had it. 

 

Sad to say, but I rarely see a pull cart these days.  Most courses want the revenue from the carts.  And young golfers, if they walk, prefer to sling one of those new ultra-lite bags over their shoulder.  Who can blame them?  Those bags are way cooler than a pull cart.

 

It’s different in the UK.  In all the golf I’ve played in Scotland, England and Ireland, I can recall riding in a cart no more than three or four times, usually at an Americanized resort such as the K Club.  Many courses over there don’t even have riding carts.  Golf is a walking game over there, and more than likely with a pull cart, or "trolley," as they call them.

 

I’m glad I found my old pull cart.  I intend to nurse it back to health with a cleaning and some oil, then take it for a spin.  Like in the old days, I’ve got a feeling my old cart and I are going to be spending a few late afternoons together.


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Dave C.[7/20/2011 3:07:16 PM]
I am a member of a club where pull carts are allowed in the late afternoon. That works for me because I like to play 9 holes after work. I never ride. I always walk with my pull cart. It is the best way to play golf. As far as I am concerned, it is the only way to play golf.
Joe Logan[7/19/2011 8:18:12 AM]
Acer3X, thatís what they do in the UK. Outside the golf shop, there is a fleet of trolleys, owned by the club/course, that rent for a pound or so.
Acer3x[7/19/2011 5:35:41 AM]
The use of pull/push carts at private clubs is limited to those clubs that really donít what care others think- Merion West & Sunnybrook come to mind. Iím sure there are others in the area that allow them.Other clubs that allow walkers want them to carry their own bag if no caddies are available because of the "image problem"- that is that pull/push carts present a public course image. Why not have a uniform fleet and charge a modest rental fee to use them as Merion does at their West course?
Eleanor Thompson[7/18/2011 11:25:15 AM]
Daddy would be proud that you kept it. I think the biggest fight I ever saw our parents have was over his refusal to rent a golf cart for them to ride and play in a Scotch foursome. He was serious about his walking, but then, maybe thatís why he lived to be almost 93.

Joe Bausch, chemistry professor/photographer 
Bausch Collection adds three courses
Saturday, July 2, 2011
By Joe Logan

Just a heads-up that three new courses have been added to the Bausch Collection of course photo galleries: Applecross CC, Bellewood GC and Plymouth CC.  Skippack GC is not far behind.

 

If you are new to MyPhillyGolf or need a refresher on what the Bausch Collection is and who is behind it, here is a blog I wrote some months ago on Joe Bausch, introducing the him and his photos.

 

Enjoy the new course galleries.


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Andres Romero 
Another day at the golfing office
Thursday, June 30, 2011
By Joe Logan

I was out walking the course at the AT&T National on Thursday when I happened to witness up close one of those shots that serves a reminder as to why I type for living and those guys inside the ropes play golf for a living.

 

Technically, I suppose, Andres Romeo was outside the ropes when he hit the shot in question, which is why I and a few others were so close. But you get my point.

 

It happened at the 18th at Aronimink, a 436-yard uphill par 4, where Romeo had hit his tee ball 296 yards, according to ShotLink.  But he had sprayed it to the right, and it come to rest in the trampled, light rough between the 18th and the adjoining 9th fairways.  Romeo, an Argentinian with one win on Tour, had 156 yards to the hole, and he was hemmed in by trees, plus there was a bunker in the distance to negotiate.

 

I’m no PGA Tour pro, but I’m a not half-bad amateur, and over the years I have watched my share of PGA Tour pros hit roughly a million golf shots in all kinds of situations.  So I feel like I have a pretty decent feel for what they can do, as opposed to I (and most amateurs), can do in these situations.

 

To me, standing five feet from the ball, Romeo’s options appeared limited.  Trying to go for the green by hitting the ball up and over the trees was out of the question.  The trees were way too close and too tall.  Tiger in his heyday, at his best, could not have hit that ball over those trees.

 

I also quickly dismissed the likelihood that Romero would try to thread the needle of trees in the distance.  For one thing, they were too far off, and they were too close together.

 

(Don’t be fooled by the accompanying photo.  I shot it with a telephoto lens, which makes the trees appear closer than they really were.)

 

In my judgment, the only high-percentage chance for Romero to save par was to take his medicine and pitch back to the fairway to the left, at a 45-degree angle, leaving him maybe 50 yards to the green.  From there, he would have a decent chance of getting up-and-down for par, or at least avoiding double-bogey.

 

If I or most amateurs I know were to attempt some kind of hero shot from where his ball lay, the outcome would likely be one lf the following:

 

(1) Bounce it off one of those trees, sending it careening to the right, into the 18th fairway

 

(2) Hit it too high, straight into the trees, whereupon the ball would drop straight down, most likely behind a tree trunk

 

(3) If I tried to thread the needle, in the unlikely event that I kept it between the tree trunks and beneath the canopy of limbs and leaves, I would have hit it directly into the bunker, which is 20 or 30 yards short of the green. No way I could hit a frozen-rope shot 125 yards, eight feet off the ground.

 

As Romeo and his caddie talked among themselves, it was clear from where they were looking that my recommended safe play was not on their radar screen.  At first, I thought Romeo was considering playing it out to the right, up the 18th fairway, which didn’t make much sense to me.  But no, as he settled in over the ball, it became clear he was going for broke – he was going to try to thread the needle of trees.

 

This should be good, I thought.  Or bad.  I gave him a 5- or 10-percent chance of pulling it off.

 

Romero had what appeared to be a 7- or 8-iron, and he hit a kind of punch shot.  It only it took off like a rocket, low, beneath the trees, and it was bending from right to left.

 

To my amazement, the ball split the trees perfectly, and it had the oomph to clear the bunker in the distance; when it hit the ground, it took off running, coming to rest in the rough behind the green.

 

I was stunned.  So were the guys watching with me.  Did he just do that?  There was zero chance I or any of us could have hit that shot. I would never even have attempted it.  Plenty of Tour pros wouldn’t have chanced that shot. Yet, Romero shrugged at the result, as if it came off exactly as he expected.

 

From there, he pitched to within six feet of the hole and sank the putt to save par.

 

I watched in awe.


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The Muni Golfer[7/3/2011 2:39:33 PM]
Like the PGA Tour slogan says, "These guys ARE good!" I was there on Saturday and you really donít get the perception of how easy they make it look watching on TV.

Tiger at Aronimink 
A Tiger press conference ainít what it used to be
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
By Joe Logan

I’ll tell you what, sitting through a Tiger Woods press conference isn’t what it used to be.

 

Back in his heyday, the media would assemble early, because seats in Tiger’s audience were at a premium, even at those big-tent major championships.  A back door to the media center would open and in Tiger would sweep, trailed by an entourage worthy of a hip-hop mogul: agents, swing coaches, family, friends, security and at least a couple of people whose purpose and connection were anybody’s guess.

 

Tiger would take his place at the head table and face the media like the royal family looking out from that balcony at Will and Kate’s wedding.  When stirrings in the room settled down, his agent, Mark Steinberg, over in the corner, would offer a slight nod to the interview moderator as a signal to commence.

 

No matter what the event – the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship or some lesser event that he was gracing with his presence – it was merely the stage for Tiger’s superhuman heroics.  Even at Ryder Cups, where Tiger would file in with his teammates, it will still pretty much about him.  We knew that.  He knew that.  It was Tiger’s world and we were just living in it, watching in awe, grateful for a seat.

 

Once the press conference began, Tiger would make an opening statement but he never said anything...Blah, blah, blah. 

 

Even when the floor was opened to questions, Tiger never said anything provocative or revealing.  But he was so smooth in saying nothing, you didn’t much notice until you sat down at your laptop and started going over your notes.  Is there one usable quote here?

 

But it was okay, because Tiger had that aura of invincibility, that ability to leave us shaking our heads in amazement.  He did his talking with his golf clubs.  That gave you all the material you needed.  

 

Cut to now.

 

At Aronimink, Tiger didn’t so much sweep into the press conference as he limped in the side door.  The entourage is smaller, down to agent Mark Steinberg, who recently got axed from IMG; and Tiger’s spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, who left Augusta National for this job shortly before the Tiger Apocalypse.

 

Tiger press conferences are few and far between these days, and the audiences are smaller.  Some of it has to do with the shrinking of the media due to the economy.  More of it has to do with Tiger’s downfall, his disgrace, his loss of popularity – and, of course, with the fact that he is not winning and not even playing.

 

The first question at Aronimink was about when he would return to competitive golf.  The British Open in two weeks?

 

Tiger didn’t know.  Last time, he came back too soon and he ended up quitting after nine holes at the Players Championship.  This time, he is taking no chances, taking his doctors’ advice, setting no timetables.  He’ll come back when he’s ready and no sooner, whenever that turns out to be.

 

He still tries to look and talk and project like the Tiger of old, but it’s not working.  Very unconvincing.  It’s as if the air has gone out of him.  He seems sapped, scared.  There was something approaching sadness in the room, like a funeral.

 

As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think the whole thing would be more interesting and more productive if Tiger had had to answer the "thought bubble" questions hanging over people’s heads, not the questions they actually asked.

 

Say, Tiger, did you see that latest poll where a majority of golf fans think your career is toast?

 

Does it bother you knowing that every 20-something on Tour these days thinks he can kick your ass?

 

One of the financial magazines says you’re still making $70 million a year in endorsements.  I don’t see it.  Other than Nike and EA, who is left?

 

Ah, do you ever lie in bed at night and ask yourself, "How did I manage to screw up my life this bad?"

 

A couple of hours before Tiger’s press conference, I bumped into a powerful agent who represents several top players.  Quickly, the talk turned to Tiger.  We shook our heads, neither of us able to believe the gory details of one of the most spectacular downfalls in the history of sports.

 

"The thing is, I don’t think Tiger or Mark (Steinberg) understands how much the world has changed since he hit that fire hydrant," said the agent. "I don’t think they get it.  But believe me, the world has changed."

 

It has, and it’s a shame for Tiger, for golf and for golf fans.


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Needless worrying by nameless Tour pro
Friday, June 24, 2011
By Joe Logan

I try to keep MyPhillyGolf free of politics.  With all the mind-numbing debate and name-calling that goes on between liberals and conservatives in the country these days, I figure this website ought to be one place where you can take refuge.  You come here for golf, not politics.

 

But then somebody emailed me a link to this column on Townhall.com, a conservative website.  Geez.

 

It didn’t come as news to me that most of the guys on the PGA Tour are conservative.  Talk to one of them for five minutes and you’re likely to hear the gospel according to Rush Lumbaugh or Sean Hannity.

 

Even the Tour pros who grew up cushy, living the country club life in the suburbs, tend to see themselves as lone wolves, survivors, guys who eat only what they kill, metaphorically speaking. Unlike most other pro sports, Tour pros don’t get signing bonuses or no-cut contracts.

 

Still, I was a little surprised to read that the comments of the unnamed pro quoted in this column.  He worries that Golf Channel is going to be influenced, infiltrated, infected by he sees as the too-liberal mothership, NBC.

 

Here’s columnist Douglas MacKinnon quoting an unnamed Tour pro:

 

"I will speak for myself here. As a conservative, one of the things that has most bothered me is The Golf Channel partnering with ultraliberal NBC. CNBC is dominated by the liberal agenda, MSNBC is the liberal agenda and the NBC-controlled Weather Channel is driven by the religion of global warming and believes in smearing all who don't bow down to the 'settled science' of global warming. And now The Golf Channel is being big-footed by those with a liberal agenda, and no one seems to care.

"So now professional golf, where at least a majority of the U.S. players still believe in traditional values, is falling under the same control of the far left much like the entertainment world, the mainstream media and our colleges and universities. It's a disgrace, but many golfers are simply afraid to speak up.

The pro is not finished:

"Now The Golf Channel is using the NBC-employed or -approved likes of Jimmy Roberts, John Feinstein or Tim Rosafortenonathletes that many of us believe have a liberal agenda or openly espouse their liberal beliefs or allegiance to the Democratic party."

Okay, I have no idea what Jimmy Roberts’ politics are, and I don’t think anybody else does either, at least not from watching what he does and says on NBC and Golf Channel. 

As for John Feinstein and Tim Rosaforte, if the unnamed Tour pro doesn’t like them, don’t blame NBC. Both were working for Golf Channel long before Comcast, which already owned Golf Channel, bought NBC and joined them at the hip.

I know Feinstein and Rosaforte and I can tell you that both of them are smart enough to know that viewers of Golf Channel, like visitors to MyPhillyGolf, aren’t tuning in for their personal takes on politics.

Smartest of all in that regard is Philadelphia’s own Brian Roberts, chairman of Comcast and therefore the boss of NBC and Golf Channel.  Word is, last Sunday, when NBC aired the package with the edited version of the Pledge of Allegiance, Roberts was not happy and he was quickly on the phone trying to find out who approved this bone-headed move.

I’m betting he found out.


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Acer3x[6/27/2011 3:25:16 PM]
"Traditional values?" How about "Freedom of speech?" If this conservative golfer doesnít like NBC,CNBC, MSNBC or even The Weather Channel, then donít watch them. Geez....The Golf Channel has already had that doofus Rush Limbaugh on Hank Haneyís show. Maybe Glenn Beck will be the next politico there. That should be fair and balanced enough for him.
Steve[6/24/2011 3:10:52 PM]
Even if the whiner were right about the liberal bias, surely there are worse things than being, Heaven forbid, liberal.

David Feherty 
Check out Feherty on Golf Channel
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
By Joe Logan

If you missed last night’s premier preview of Feherty on Golf Channel, you’ve got another chance to watch it tonight from 9-10 p.m., when it officially debuts.  It’s worth checking out.

 

For candid, insightful golf commentary, Brandel Chamblee has overtaken Johnny Miller in my book.  But when it comes to wit, humor and entertainment value, nobody on the scene today can touch David Feherty.

 

Except for the over-the-top intros that have the star acting and looking goofy, Feherty is the freshest thing on Golf Channel.  In the span of a half-hour, the CBS and Golf Channel analyst is funny, brutally candid, somber, loosey-goosey and reverential.

 

Most of the premier episode is devoted to Feherty interviewing and essentially kneeling at the alter of Lee Trevino.  That’s okay, because Trevino is also an engaging character, with a great story to explore.  Besides, during his prime, Trevino never quite got the attention and respect he deserved, laboring in the shadows of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and the still competitive Arnold Palmer.  Feherty readily admits that he is perhaps Trevino’s biggest fan.

 

For years, Feherty was clever but largely unseen foot soldier for CBS, spouting hilarious one-liners as he walked the fairways.  Then, out of the blue, the funnyman revealed that he had spent years hiding the fact that he was a drug addict, a barely functional alcoholic, not to mention fighting a losing battle to depression.   Those close to him surely knew, but not the rest of us.

 

We didn’t find out until after the fact, when Feherty sobered up, lost what must have been 40 pounds, grew a goatee that makes him look like a smiling Lucifer – and reintroduced himself as a more complicated and compelling figure.

 

These days, Feherty can still do goofball quite handily when he wants to, but he can turn on a dime, growing serious as he lays bare his demons to the point you feel awkward watching from the distance and safety of your easy chair.

 

When I heard the news that he was a reformed alcoholic, I immediately recalled one night several years ago at Masters.  Each year during Masters week, CBS rents a big house with a sprawling yard in the Augusta suburbs; one night of the tournament, they throw a party for the media, network types, golf officials and all manner of movers and shakers. 

 

One year, a small cluster of us writer types were out in the yard, sipping beers and shooting the bull, when Feherty walked up and joined the conversation.  He probably had a beer in his hand, I don’t recall, but he certainly didn’t appear to be drunk.

 

Then, for whatever reason, he launched into an story about a well-known player (not Tiger) that was so out-of-school and raunchy that it made a bunch of hardly prudish middle-aged sportswriters blanche.  I remember thinking the CBS brass would croak if they knew he was out working the party with stories like that. 

 

A couple of years later, when he went public with his problems, it all made sense.  Feherty must’ve been in the tank that night, even if he hid it well.

 

These days, Feherty is a different guy.  I’ve got to believe he has removed that story from his repertoire.  Today, he would shake his head at the embarrassment of it all.

 

Feherty was a far better golfer during his career than he lets on today – self-deprecation is part of his shtick; he’s a hell of a golf commentator now, and he’s a polished and funny writer.  He’s also got a weekly show of his own that will likely get better by the week.


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Rory McIlroy Photo: John Mummert, USGA 
Careful with those expectations of Rory
Monday, June 20, 2011
By Joe Logan

Watching Rory McIlroy rewrite the U.S. Open record book and establish himself as the new darling of golf, it was hard not to wonder whether Tiger Woods was watching.

 

Was Tiger at home, lying on the couch, with his bum leg elevated, staring into some 70-inch plasma high-def, knowing that millions of his old fans have found a new fave – a likeable young fresh face, not unlike Tiger in 1997, when he blew minds as he blew away the field in the Masters by 12 shots?

 

Was Tiger lying there gnashing his teeth, aching for the moment when he is healthy again and able to get back out there to re-establish himself as the king of the golfing jungle?

 

Or was he sweating bullets.  He’s 35 now, not the kid he once was, not the same guy that used to cast the long shadow as he strode to the first tee.  With McIlroy’s herculean victory at Congressional, all four major championship trophies are now held by 20-somethings.  Rory McIlroy was 8 when Tiger won the ’97 Masters; Jason Day, the other superstar aborning, was 9. 

 

But as the day wore on and Johnny Miller and the NBC team hailed McIlroy’s amazing performance at Congressional, my curiosity about Tiger was eventually supplanted by concern that the media is already hailing this kid is the new Tiger.

 

McIlroy is obviously a big, big talent, and a terrific and humble young man with a very bright future, but he has won exactly one major.  He hasn’t lost sight of that and neither should we.  Let’s not saddle him with impossible expectations.  Let’s not set him up for failure, if he doesn’t begin winning majors at the rate of a young Tiger.

 

The next major is the British Open, in July.  You don’t have to be a genius to know what the story line will be:  Can this budding superstar deliver again?  Is he as good as we thought? If Tiger is in the field, the British Open will be billed as a showdown between the old star and the new kid on the block – i.e. Old Tiger vs. New Tiger.

 

For the media, the temptation is impossible to resist.  They need a story to tell.  Let’s just hope McIlroy doesn’t turn out to be collateral damage.


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The Muni Golfer[6/21/2011 7:53:34 AM]
This is certainly nothing new. How many young golfers who won majors or big tournaments in the early 1980s were dubbed "The Next Nicklaus"? Hal Sutton and Jeff Sluman come to mind. Both had nice careers, but fell far short of expectations. I agree with you Joe, letís let Rory be Rory...


 
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