PRESS PASS
Coach Brian Quinn 
 
Sometimes coaching is about more than Xs and Os
Friday, August 19, 2011
By Joe Logan

For Temple golf and golf coach Brian Quinn, these are the best of times and the worst of times.

 

In the current rotation of Featured Stories on MyPhillyGolf, there are two stories that involve talented young Temple golfers.  One is about Andrew Mason, who just finished his eligibility at Temple.  He is riding the hottest of hot streaks right now, having won the Philadelphia Open, the Pennsylvania Amateur, the Patterson Cup and, soon enough, Player of the Year from the Golf Association of Philadelphia.  Next week, Mason will tee it up in the U.S. Amateur.

 

The other story involving a Temple golfer is nothing short of tragic.  It’s about Connor McNicholas, another talented young player who will be a sophomore a few weeks, assuming he returns to school.  He could be in jail.

 

McNicholas, who is only 19, faces 20 charges, including homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, following the Aug. 6 high-speed crash that killed two of the four teens who were in the car with him that night.

 

As it happened, the fatal crash involving McNicholas occurred while I was researching the story on Mason.   You can imagine the tone of the conversation I had with Coach Quinn.

 

It started out upbeat, because my early questions were about the phenomenal success of Mason.  Quinn was so proud of Mason and so happy for him.  The coach couldn’t stress enough what a great young man and student athlete Mason is, in addition to being a golfer with an unlimited future.

 

Eventually, unfortunately, I had to broach the subject of McNicholas.  There was silence on the other end of the phone as Quinn gathered his emotions and his thoughts.  At that point, the toxicology reports on McNicholas were not back yet, so he had not been charged.  But there was so much sorrow in Quinn’s voice.  Even in a best case scenario,  if McNicholas were not charged, Quinn and I both knew that he would live the rest of his life knowing that two of his friends died that night.

 

Quinn did not want to speculate on how things would play out for McNicholas. The coach couldn’t get past the needless hurt and suffering, for all involved.   "Your life changes in an instant," he said, sadness in his voice. 

 

Quinn’s pain was only compounded by the fact that he also had high praise for McNicholas.   What a likable kid, fine young man and promising golfer.  Oh, and he misery of his family.  How could something like this happen?

 

I saw in the paper a couple of days ago that when McNicholas appeared in court to be formally be charged, there to support him were his parents of course, but also his golf coach.  I wasn’t surprised.  Sometimes coaching is about more than "Xs" and "Os."


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Tiger Woods 
Golf moves on, Part II
Saturday, August 6, 2011
By Joe Logan

When Tiger Woods announced that his big return to golf would be at this week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would end up eating my own words.  My last blog posting, after all, had been about my current indifference to Tiger and the future of his career.

 

Still, when he teed off  at 1:40 in the first round on Thursday, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I had taken up my usual position in front of the hi-def big screen, in my big leather chair.  I had to see what he would do.

 

So I watched, and I watched some more.

 

But then, something very strange happened.  I got a little bored.  Soon, I had my laptop on my lap, uploading stories to MyPhillyGolf as I kept one eye peeled to the TV.  A few minutes later, I was up puttering, loading the dishwasher, gathering up all the old newspapers and magazines that tend to pile up around my chair.  Next thing you know, I was away from the TV altogether, upstairs throwing a load of washing into the washing machine.

 

True, I continued to pop downstairs to check on the progress of Tiger’s round.  But I wasn’t glued to the TV, like I used to be whenever he played.  I wasn’t frozen in place, noting every loose shot, evaluating every birdie opportunity.

 

Here’s the real kicker.  Midway through Tiger’s back nine, I was totally disengaged.  I switched off the TV and went to the range to hit a bucket of balls.  You know, my own game over Tiger’s. It was clear by then he wasn’t going to shoot 64 and he wasn’t going to shoot 78, anyway.  As the cops say in the movies, "Move along, folks, nothing to see here." 

 

It’s just not the same any more.


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SteveMG[8/7/2011 9:22:32 PM]
From what I am hearing about the way Steve Williams is handling himself, I think Tiger did the right thing.
SteveMG[8/7/2011 9:17:27 PM]
I rarely watch golf if itís a nice day. Even when Tiger was at his best, I hardly ever saw any of his victories.

Rickie Fowler 
Golf moves on
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
By Joe Logan

The longer Tiger Woods is missing in action, the less I miss him.  My curiosity about him, the condition of his leg/knee/Achilles, the state of his game and, of course, the timetable for if and when he ever returns, stir very little interest or me these days.

 

If he shows up again, okay.  If he doesn’t, that’s okay, too.

 

Meanwhile, golf moves on, and I am finding other people to watch and like.  I like this Rickie Fowler kid.  I hate his hat.  I hate the flat brim, and I hate the way he pulls it down over his ears and his goofy haircut.  I’m not crazy about those Kandy Kolored Kool-Aid Klothes he wears, either.  But, hey, Rickie could probably find a few nits to pick with in my golfing ensemble, too, so I suppose it’s a wash.

 

What I like about Rickie is that he is exciting to watch.   He’s got flare and style and he goes for broke, like Phil Mickelson at that age.  I also have to admit I was very wrong about Rickie.   At the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, when he was still a hot-shot college amateur, I stood behind Rickie on the range for 30 minutes watching him balls. I turned to my friend and said, "With that whippy, home-made swing, no way he makes on the PGA Tour.  Rickie hasn’t won yet, but Rickie appears to be making it.

 

I also like Rory McIlroy.  Gorgeous swing, hard-working, ambitious, humble.  Once he learns how to handle all the fame and success that is going to come his way, Rory McIlroy could easily settle in for a long run as No. 1 in the world.

 

Dustin Johnson I like watching but I cannot figure out him out.   He is perhaps the best athlete on the golfing scene today, and he kills it the ball.  Obviously, he has been at or near the top of the leaderboard at most every major for the past couple of years, biding him time for his big breakthrough.

 

But I don’t know what to make of that almost vacant-look on Dustin Johnson’s face so much of the time.  I wonder what he is thinking, if he is thinking.  I’ve sat through three or four of his press conferences and I come away yearning for some of the intelligence and sophistication you hear from the Australian players, like Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy.

 

I don’t know who is going to winner a major sooner, Dustin Johnson or Jason Day.  My money is on Day.

 

It’s good to see Matt Kuchar finally coming into his own, after a major swing change a couple of years ago.  It’s also good to see Steve Stricker, who is one of the most earnest guys on the planet, become one of the top players in the world.  I never would have guessed Stricker had it in him.

 

If you didn’t smile when Darren Clarke won the British Open, then you haven’t followed golf or you haven’t been following Darren Clarke.

 

I’m also rooting for Phil Mickelson to remain competitive and maybe win another major, preferably a fourth Masters.

 

John Daly?  I lost interest.

 

If Tiger ever returns and starts to mount some kind of career comeback, I might even find it in my heart to pull for him.  It would help if he would stop acting like a complete ass.


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SteveMG[8/4/2011 8:05:45 PM]
I would still root for Tiger Woods to get it back. The PGA Tour is more fun with him around. There may be a few hot players right now, but McIlroy is the only one with legs. It seems like every week the commentators of the Golf Channel are touting this weekís winner as the guy about to break through and contend in every major. It seems to me that the last few years, most of the major winners are guys that leapfrogged the "best contenders". (McDowell and Kaymer wouldnít fit that description, but they are mostly European players, not PGA Tour players). When I would look at a typical leaderboard, there arenít that many players I really care about. Take a look at the WGC leaderboard. Of the first couple dozen names, there arenít that many I really can get into. Some good guys, Iím sure, but does it really matter whether Jason Day or Adam Scott win? Adam Scott won The Playersí a couple years ago. Didnít make him a more compelling player one bit. Stewart Cink (cheater) won (I mean Tom Watson lost) the British Open 2 years ago. Yawn. Y.E. Yang took down Tiger (though now we know that Tiger was unravelling). Since then, anything?
acer3x[8/4/2011 9:15:03 AM]
The WGC event at Firestone is on TGC today at 1:30pm. Strangely enough, TWís tee time today is at 1:40pm.
Ben M.[7/28/2011 6:59:06 AM]
I am so over Tiger.
Ben DíAntonio[7/28/2011 6:17:33 AM]
Feeling the same way about Tiger. Never thought it would come to that but it has. Iím even using non Nike products which in the past was tantamount to sacriligeous. Unfortunately, for me, no one has stepped up in both game and wardrobe.

Aronimink board room 
It happened at Aronimink
Thursday, July 21, 2011
By Joe Logan

The AT&T National might be gone from Aronimink GC, but never let it be said that important developments in the life of Tiger Woods didn’t take place on the premises.

 

We learned after the fact that in 2010, the first of the two years Aronimink hosted the AT&T, Tiger finalized the divorce agreement from ex-wife Elin from his cell phone, supposedly in the Aronimink locker room.

 

Now, in the wake of Tiger axing long-time, loyal looper Steve Williams, we learn that the actual face-to-face firing took place in the board room at Aronimink after the final round of the 2011 AT&T.

 

Perhaps a couple of it-happened-here plaques are in order.


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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.


 
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