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Friday, March 29, 2013

Four Million Lessons (And I Still Can't Break Par)

Some time in the next few weeks, likely in the middle of April, GolfTEC will give its four-millionth golf lesson. As the digital counter in the lobby of GolfTEC’s Denver headquarters clicks closer and closer to the magic number, the company is getting ready to celebrate this milestone event.

The first GolfTEC learning center opened on April 10, 1995, in the Denver Tech Center mall. Today, there are 176 centers in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Korea, with more on the way. GolfTEC employs more than 550 Certified Personal Coaches, most of whom are PGA professionals and apprentices; in fact, nearly 2% of all golf pros in the U.S. work for GolfTEC, which is responsible for 25% of the country’s private golf lessons.

While the party planning proceeds, GolfTEC’s first employee—Joe Assell, now CEO and president—reflects on the company's growth. “I couldn’t be more excited about our four millionth lesson,” says Assell. “Every step along the way, every time we open a new center, hire another coach, or help another golfer get better is proof that our idea works.”

That idea—which Assell developed with his then boss, Clayton Cole, the legendary past head professional at Denver’s Cherry Hills Country Club—was to bring computers and other technology to golf instruction. That might seem like a no-brainer now, but in the mid-‘90s the world was very different.“This thing called a computer was just becoming available to individual offices, schools, and homes,” remembers Assell. “To get some perspective, 1995 was the first year of two companies called Yahoo and Netscape. Technology wasn’t mainstream, so the idea of bringing golfers indoors and hooking them to a computer was very new.

“While the technology has improved beyond belief since those early days, the concept is very similar to what we started with back then,” says Assell. “From the day we opened we used body sensors and motion measurement, which remain at the heart of the computerized systems in every GolfTEC center today.”

As proud as Assell is of reaching the 4-million lesson mark, he is the first to say that the number of lessons given isn’t nearly as important as their quality. “What keeps every GolfTEC coach and employee motivated and excited is the success of our customers. We’ve had tens of thousands of golfers shoot their career rounds because of us, have tournament victories, win scholarships, club championships, and so much more.

“We like the numbers because they continue to validate our original idea of bringing the most up-to-date technology to golf instruction. And we still strive for that every day. But more important than any number is the fact that our customers are really improving. That’s the ultimate validation.”

There are two Golf Tec centers in Westchester, one in New Rochelle, the other in White Plains.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dustin Johnson Becomes First Contributor To Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson
PGA Tour star Dustin Johnson has made the first pledge of support to the new Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, an organization powered by SNAG (Starting New At Golf) designed to help bring golf in National Recreation and Park Association facilities across the country. Johnson's Foundation will make a $10,000 contribution to the effort.

The Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues (JNLL), powered by SNAG is supported by a non-profit entity known as G.O.L.F. (the Global Outreach for Learning Foundation).  Sponsor donations and funds are being raised to help reduce entry costs and to ensure JNLL will be successful for future generations.  G.O.L.F.’s mission is to help people develop golf skills and have fun through developmentally appropriate programs.  The goal is to ensure retention and provide a sustainable model for transition to other programs at golf facilities, in order to increase participation for current and future generations.

“Junior golf is the developmental cornerstone of our game, and it is critically important to the continued growth and popularity of the sport,” said Johnson.  “My Foundation and G.O.L.F. are both focused on the next generation of golfers, and I am proud to support Mr. Nicklaus and his new Learning Leagues with my donation.  Perhaps we will someday have a Jack Nicklaus Learning League here in my hometown of Myrtle Beach (S.C.).”

The Dustin Johnson Foundation was founded in 2010 for the purpose of supporting various youth initiatives with the primary focus of promoting and supporting youth and college golf programs. Johnson owes much of his success to strong youth golf programs that he participated in and believes that youth programs are important to give children and young adults strong foundations that they can carry throughout their lives both on and off the course.

The Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues will launch in May at select National Recreation and Park Association facilities in five major markets.  The innovative Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, combined with SNAG’s well-established, first-touch development program, will provide a golf learning experience for children, ages 5 through 12, in a safe, affordable and accessible environment.

The Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues will ultimately become a global philanthropic endeavor to bring the sport to emerging golf regions and countries that are embracing the game as part of the Olympic movement.  For further information about the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, powered by SNAG, call (866) 946-5092 or e-mail jnll@snaggolf.com.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Grand Slam? You May Not Win It, But You Can Read It -- Free!

Bobby Jones did it, Tiger Woods almost did it, but if the moon were full during the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship, could a werewolf win the elusive Grand Slam of golf?

Find out for FREE during this special promotion to celebrate the opening of the golf season in our neck of the woods. Right now you can download a FREE copy of Grand Slam for your Kindle or Kindle app from Amazon.com.

The story is my purely tongue-in-cheek look at the most coveted record in the game. My lupine protagonist stalks the fairways at Augusta National, Shinnecock, Carnoustie, and Winged Foot, not to mention TPC Sawgrass, The Olympic Club, and Whistling Straits, leaving behind a trail of bloody victims and sparking the ire of a golf-obsessed newspaper reporter who vows to stop him.

In case you haven't guessed, this is not your usual golf book! Download it today -- this special promotion ends Wednesday.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Teeth of the Dog Tops Caribbean Must-Play Lists

Teeth of the Dog - Casa de Campo
Teeth of the Dog Hole #7
If there's a soft, sentimental side to Pete Dye, I'd never seen it until I played Teeth of the Dog, the fabulous headline course at Casa de Campo in La Romana, Dominican Republic. For a guy who is renowned for designing brutal, tricky golf experiences, Dye gave the average player a break when he first laid out the course, which opened in 1971. He's tweaked it repeatedly since but Teeth of the Dog still offers regular guys and gals a chance to make a par now and then as long as they don't become besotted by the scenery.

Because views are what Teeth of the Dog offers in glorious profusion. Seven holes play along -- or over -- the sparkling Caribbean Sea, four on the front and three on the back side. The course is not quite as dramatic as Pebble Beach but it's very close. The biggest difference is that Teeth of the Dog has a more intimate relationship with the sea. You play directly over it on several holes and are close enough to bring it into play on more than you may like. You're not separated from the water by a beach either -- it's right there most of the time. When the sea isn't influencing your club selection it's drawing your eye.

Teeth of the Dog - Casa de Campo
Teeth of the Dog Hole #5
The par three fifth hole, one of the most photographed holes in the world, calls for a pinpoint 137-yard pitch over the crashing surf to a tiny seaside green while the longer seventh, 188 yards, presents much the same mix of beauty and terror on the tee. All measurements are from the blue tees, by the way. Holes along the water on the front side are dangerous for those with an over-active draw, while the seaside testers on the back punish the slicer. The wind, of course, beats everybody up all the time.

But the seaside holes aren't the only excellent challenges on the course. Teeth of the Dog provides an excellent mix of par fives that run from 457 to 555 yards, as well as a collection of par fours that bend left and right and stretch as long as 430 yards. There are also a surprising number of elevated greens. The course opens both nines with relatively easy holes, but the Pete Dye we've all come to know and love/hate shows up on the second hole, which has a waste area/lateral hazard that lines the entire left side of the fairway. The 170-yard par three 13th hole is jokingly (or not, depending on where your tee shot ends up) called the hardest par four on the course. It's the only one-shotter that doesn't play along the water but it's surrounded by an immense waste bunker and guarded by massive trees on each side of the green.

Greens are appropriately sized for the length of the shot you need to make coming in to them and contoured enough to make things interesting. Most of them are protected not just by well-placed bunkers but by grass collection areas that perhaps make up-and-downs even more difficult than sand.

Teeth of the Dog - Casa de Campo
Teeth of the Dog Hole #18
The three finishing holes capture the spirit of Teeth of the Dog perfectly. The 181-yard 16th has a green (larger than you think) perched twenty yards above the sea -- a place where aggressive fades will go to die a watery death. The 377-yard 17th is a gentle dogleg that hugs the cliff side in a beautiful risk-and-reward scenario. The closer, a 428-yard par four, plays away from the sea but holds your attention with a deep bunker that cuts the fairway in half right in most player's landing area, a lake that guards the corner of the slight dogleg, and an elevated green that drops off into a score-killing collection area and/or several bunkers.

Teeth of the Dog features five sets of tees ranging from 4779 to 7478. The blues, playing at 6,600 yards, are going to be more than enough for most of us. The course rating from there is 73.2 and the slope 137.

Teeth of the Dog is probably one of the most reasonably priced premier courses in the world, by the way. At $155 to $185 for hotel guests (and $175 to $259 for non-guests), it's a huge bargain. Caddies are required (and who wouldn't want one on a course like this?) and walking is encouraged. Need a swing tuneup while you're there? Casa de Campo is home to the only Jim McLean Golf School in the Caribbean.

But don't take my word for how spectacular Teeth of the Dog really is. You can see the entire course with a new smartphone app that allows users to virtually tour the layout with a moving aerial flyover.
Jointly released by Casa de Campo and Golf Digest/Golf World, the app also features course information, a yardage guide from all tee boxes for each of the 18 holes, tee time availability, tournament and personal scoring, and a photo gallery.  In addition the app provides information about the award-winning resort in the Dominican Republic, weather, a guide outlining things to do in the area, and convenient contact information. The free app is available now and can be downloaded by visiting http://www.bestapproachflyovers.com/TOD_teethofthedoggolf/.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Monday, March 18, 2013

Very Ready Golf at Casa de Campo

I just set a new personal golf record. It wasn't a super low score -- although I was quite happy with the number I posted -- nor was it a hole-in-one or double eagle or anything like that. It was an 18-hole round played on a full-length Pete Dye golf course in a foursome in two hours and eighteen minutes.

There weren't any gimmicks or bending of the rules, either. We putted everything out, raked every bunker, repaired every ball mark and divot, and even stopped to take a picture or two along the way plus spent a few minutes interviewing head pro Dave Pfisterer about the course. Most importantly, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had plenty of laughs during the round. By the way, one member of the foursome was a woman, fellow golf writer Alice Scott. Her husband Danny (the other half of "America's Golfing Couple") and freelancer Steve Habel rounded out the group.

Dye Links at Casa de Campo

The round was played on the Dye Links course at Casa de Campo, a fun companion to the better-known Teeth of the Dog at the fabulous resort in the Dominican Republic. The Links sits just east of its big brother and winds through the interior of the resort. It's not too long, playing 7,003 yards from the tips and 6,624 from the next tees up (the blues, which the guys played), but driving accuracy is paramount since water comes into play on five holes and Dye liberally sprinkled the track with well-placed fairway bunkers. The greens are small and many of them are elevated, so your iron play needs to be in top form, too. The course rating is 68.6 with a 122 slope.

None of us had ever seen the course, but that didn't slow us down. We are all experienced golfers, although not scratch by any means, so we could generally figure out the lines from cues Dye provided in his design. We even hit the ball there most of the time, which helped a lot. We didn't have a caddie so everyone in the group watched the other players' shots to cut down on time spent looking for errant balls. We were the first foursome off the tee, too, so we never had to wait for the group ahead.  But here are the real reasons we played so quickly:

  • We played ready golf -- whoever got to the tee first hit away. Same in the fairway.
  • We were in carts, but no one sat waiting for another player to hit before being driven to his or her ball. Instead, we tried to stop where both players could walk a few steps to their balls at the same time.
  • Nobody in the group had an elaborate pre-shot routine. We didn't rush, but typically the player checked the distance, picked a club, set up alignment, and hit the ball. Very few practice swings were taken.
  • Speaking of distance, we didn't waste time looking for sprinkler heads or fiddling with a GPS or laser range finder. We simply used the 100, 150, and 200-yard makers in the middle of the fairway and adjusted accordingly.
  • We didn't dally on the greens, either. Whoever got there first putted (if they could without stepping in someone else's line), then putted out if they missed the first one. We read the greens as we walked onto them, then took a quick look from behind the ball. Nobody rushed, but nobody plumb-bobbed, paced off distance, or read the putt from four directions either. There may have been a three-putt, but I don't remember one. I personally putted better than I had in either round on the two days previous.
That's the way golf should be played. Could I have shaved a couple of strokes by taking a little more time? Maybe, but I doubt it. I shot an even 80, which is three strokes under my handicap! How much fun is that?

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Friday, March 15, 2013

Why Buy When You Can Rent A New Driver?

Here's something new for equipment junkies (like me). It's sort of like Netflix for golf clubs.

It's GolfRedefined.com, a new membership plan where you can find the perfect driver to suit your game by selecting, testing and swapping clubs for a pretty reasonable monthly membership fee.  Try out the newest models as soon as they hit the market--without coughing up $400 or testing a demo covered with duct tape at your friendly driving range. All top brands are offered and almost every manufacturer’s driver is included in the product line-up.

“We created GolfRedefined.com to revolutionize the way golfers identify and select the best driver that works for them and the only way to do this is to test and play in real conditions with a number of models before the perfect match is found,” says Lorne Fierbach, CEO of GolfRedefined.com.  “Why pay $400 for a top driver only to learn that the club really doesn’t feel right or perform?  With one of our membership packages everyone now can try out the best brands to find the right club for their game.  GolfRedefined.com members might decide to keep one driver all season and swap the following year for the newest model.”

Golfers interested in joining GolfRedefined.com visit the website and select a membership category:  Birdie, Hole-in-One or Eagle.  Each membership tier offers different benefits and club choice options. Membership starts at $24.95 per month and goes up to $39.95 per month, or for an even better deal, you can sign up for quarterly packages.  Golfers not interested in a membership still are able to enjoy the benefits of the program through a “Rent Only” option. You pay the shipping one way--they pay for the return.

“We want golfers to rethink how they see the driver in their bag.  There is no need to purchase one because we allow golfers to have whatever driver they want, for as long or short a time as needed.  We offer flexibility and simplicity,” Fierbach commented.  “We’re providing a unique service as part of the industry effort to help grow the game, and making golfers happy is something we easily can accomplish.”

GolfRedefined.com initially will be offering right-handed men’s drivers with plans to introduce other clubs for both men and women as the company grows.

For more information, visit the website or call 877-493-6893.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mike Diffley's Sage Advice For Starting Your Golf Season

A guest post from Pelham CC Head Professional Mike Diffley

Mike Diffley
Mike Diffley
The golf season is about to start and hopefully you're excited for a great season. I know I am.

I have set my goals, physical, mental and achievement wise. Have you? Goal setting is the best way to stay motivated. Write them down, put them somewhere you can see them regularly, (keep them private if you like or share them with just a few people.)

If they are easily reachable, maybe they are too easy. Have some that are reachable, some that are a stretch, and some that are a dream. Yes a dream! If you don't dream, you might be selling yourself short. Why would we do that? Do you think Keegan Bradley when he was recruited only by St.John's still dreamed he was going to be a PGA tour player? Damn right he did.

How do we reach our goals? To succeed at golf we need some key physical skills, a repeatable motion, scoring skills, strength, endurance. Every good player has those traits, some more than others. That's what makes some players improve and get closer to their dreams.The following is a list of things on the inside that are invisible to the eye but that great players and high achievers all have:

  • Character
  • Strong work ethic
  • High level of competitiveness
  • Ambition
  • Grit or toughness

Do you know how much of the above you have? If you don't, you should, it doesn't matter how far you hit it or how great you swing. It's takes a combination of many facets to succeed at anything especially something as difficult as golf. Are you ready?

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Monday, March 11, 2013

EWGA Launches Season With Annual Luncheon At Hampshire

The Executive Women's Golf Association of Westchester will kick off their busy, busy season with their annual luncheon on Sunday, March 24, from 12 to 4 PM at Hampshire Country Club in Mamaroneck. If you've ever wanted to get in the swing of the game, this will be a great place to start.

The Tee-Off Luncheon launches the EWGA Westchester season and is the largest event of the year with 150+ women in attendance.  It is a great opportunity for members and non-members alike to see the calendar of events chock full of educational clinics and learning opportunities and to network with like-minded women.  Member registration for the spring and summer golf leagues opens at the Luncheon.  Sponsors and vendors are on hand to discuss member benefits, and sell great products and services.  Attendees also have the chance to bid on amazing silent auction items.

A cash bar cocktail hour is followed by a tasty luncheon.  Early-bird registration is $40 for Members and Non-Members; regular registration is $50 for Members and $60 for Non-Members.  To register, go to www.ewgawestchester.com and click on “CONNECT – Tee Off Luncheon” under “Upcoming Events” on the home page.

EWGA Westchester, NY is the local Chapter of the national women's golf association Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA), which provides affordable organized golf play, golf education, networking, and social opportunities for today’s working women.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Take a Lesson on Pebble Beach at Ashford Golf Academy

I've played Pebble Beach and I've taken a few (not enough) golf lessons, but I'd never done both at the same time until I visited the Billy Ashford Golf Academy at Bilancio. In case you're wondering, that's in Purchase, NY, not California. The Pebble Beach experience occurs on the About Golf simulator in Ashford's studio, which may not have sea breezes but does come complete with the sounds of shore birds and surf.

Billy Ashford
Billy Ashford
There are other places where you can play golf on simulators, but Ashford is the only PGA pro I know who incorporates the simulator into his teaching plan. I have to say it's a heck of a lot more interesting to try to work on a swing change using the pin on Pebble's eighth hole as a target than the usual driving range flag. Not only do you have some spectacular scenery to look at, but I have to believe it makes it easier to take the lesson from the range to the course for real when the time comes.

Another big advantage is that your swings are recorded on the simulator software so that you and Ashford have solid data about swing speed, efficiency, ball spin, and more to work with. This also means you can empirically track your progress from session to session.  Ashford also adds video of your swing to the lesson so that you get a really, really complete look at why your ball ends up in the Pacific instead of the fairway. He takes an extra step and emails the video to you with his analysis after the lesson, too, so you can work on it on your own.

Tired of playing Pebble Beach (don't you wish!)--there are dozens of other fabulous courses to choose from. The simulator and studio, which is located in the Bilancio personal fitness center, is available for a weekly round with your buddies, too. Ashford will also give group lessons and even arrange refreshments. It's all at Bilancio, 4 Manhattanville Road, Purchase, NY. For more information, email Billy Ashford or call him at (845) 222-9056. He also gives lessons to both members and non-members of Mahopac Golf Club during the regular season.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Brynwood Pro Josh Lowney Honored by Troon

Brynwood Golf & Country Club Director of Operations, Josh Lowney, was recently honored as “Golf Professional of the Year” by the club’s management company, Troon.  Lowney earned this significant distinction for his dedicated commitment to the membership, for his influential role in elevating the quality of the golf experience at Brynwood and for his spirited team leadership in 2012, according to Troon, which annually recognizes the “Best of the Best” facilities and individuals for their outstanding performance and dedication.

“Josh is the embodiment of Troon’s high standard of leadership and excellence in the field,” said Rob DeMore, Vice President of Operations at Troon. “We are proud to have him helping us elevate the member experience at Brynwood.”

Lowney, who has been with Troon since 2005, came to Brynwood Golf & Country Club in 2010.  He previously served as Director of Golf at The Crosby in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and prior to that he opened Lake of Isles in Connecticut in 2005 where he was the Head Golf Professional.  In 2011, Lowney was named one of the top three golf professionals within Troon worldwide.  During his tenure with Troon, each of the three prestigious Troon Golf private club golf shops he managed was designated as one of the Top 100 Golf Shops in the country.  Additionally, Lowney is a PGA member with extensive experience instructing students of all skill levels.  In 2009, he was elected to the exclusive PGA Ambassador Membership which represents a select group of PGA Professionals with expertise in the business and travel aspects of golf.

A Connecticut native, Lowney attended Eastern Connecticut State University.  As a member of the Windham High School golf team in Willimantic, Connecticut, he earned State and All League honors.  Lowney turned professional after high school and competed on several golf tours and in PGA Section tournaments around the country.  He and his wife reside in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Don't Miss Programs at Westchester Golf Show

The exhibitors, free club demos, contests, and chance to rub elbows with other golfers salivating for the opening of the season are all good reasons to visit the Journal News Golf Show this weekend at the Westchester County Center. But in case that's not enough, here's the lineup of informative and ofttimes entertaining programs on the schedule for Saturday and Sunday.

Brian Crowell demonstrating Slice-Free Golf
Saturday March 9, 2013

11 AM - Brian Mahoney
Tournament Director
Metropolitan Golf Association
Topic: "The Rules of Golf"

12 Noon - Brian Crowell
PGA, Head Professional
Glen Arbor Golf Club
Topic: Slice Free Golf

1 PM - Charlie Meola
PGA, Saxon Woods Golf Course
Topic: Open Forum: Any and all questions related to the golf swing

2 PM - Max Galloway
PGA, Mohansic Golf Course
Topic: Seniors Get The Most For Your Game

3 PM - Jason Gobleck
PGA, Westchester Hills Golf Club
Topic: Proper Grip, Stance and Alignment

Sunday March 10, 2013

10:30 AM - Frank Darby
Head coach of the Men’s golf team at St. John’s University
Topic: The College recruiting process, Developing junior golfers, and Questions & Answers

11 AM - Tom Avezzano
PGA, Sprain Lake and Maple Moor Golf Courses
Topic: Scoring Better Through Course Management

12 Noon - Bobby Grace
Bobby Grace Putters - 200+ Professional Tournament Wins.
Topic: Putter Insert Technology, Loft & Moment of Inertia plus Q&A.

1 PM - Brian Mahoney
Tournament Director
Metropolitan Golf Association
Topic: "The Rules of Golf"

2 PM - Brian Crowell
PGA, Head Professional
Glen Arbor Golf Club
Topic: Slice Free Golf

3 PM - Tom Sutter
PGA, Dunwoodie Golf Course
2004 Met PGA Teacher of the Year
Topic: Learn To Compete

See ya there!

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Rory McIlroy, etc.

Still obsessed about Rory McIlroy's change of equipment, withdrawal from the Honda Classic, and his dental health? Read this tidbit from the deep storage spaces of Howie Munck's capacious mental attic:

From "Special Moments in Senior PGA Championship History" (a handout at Ridgewood CC for the 2001 event):

1987 - "Trailing third-round leader Dale Douglass by six strokes and upset over a round of 76, Chi Chi Rodriguez preceded his round by purchasing a new set of clubs from PGA National Golf Club. The result: a 5-under-par 67 to give the popular native Puerto Rican a one-stroke victory."

This could put to rest second guessing the impact of Rory's change of clubs. Of course if you change clubs the same day you go out to play, there's no time for media reaction to seep into your head.

Thanks for putting it in historical perspective, Howie!

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Monday, March 4, 2013

Register Now to Compete In US Open at Merion

Player registration for the 2013 US Open at Merion opens today and continues through April 24 at 5 p.m. To be eligible to play in a local qualifier, a player must have a USGA Handicap Index® not exceeding 1.4, or be a professional. Local qualifying, which will be played over 18 holes at 111 sites in the U.S., takes place between May 3-16. If you're in Westchester, you can give it a stab at Willow Ridge in White Plains, NY.

The USGA also released the sectional qualifying sites today. Locally, Old Oaks Country Club and Century Country Club in Purchase, NY, will host the events on June 3. The two clubs have partnered as a sectional site in New York on four occasions since 2003.

The US Open will be held for the fifth time at Merion Golf Club. Olin Dutra (1934), Ben Hogan (1950), Lee Trevino (1971) and David Graham (1981) are past champions at Merion.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Caddying At St. Andrews

An American Caddie In St. Andrews
At least once in their life, every golfer should make the pilgrimage to the Old Course in St. Andrews. Oliver Horovitz not only made that trip, he turned it into a coming-of-age book about his experiences working as a caddie there during his college years. An American Caddie in St. Andrews is an enjoyable, light read that covers the young man's summers looping on the Old Course while completing his education at Harvard, chasing girls, and pub crawling through the ancient town.

If you're a golfer looking for hole-by-hole insights into the Old Course, you'll probably be disappointed in this book. On the other hand, if you'd like to know what really goes on in the caddie shack, you'll be rewarded by the many tales Horovitz tells. As most of us have long suspected, caddies don't exactly have positive opinions of their clients. A tip less than 100% of the standard fee is generally met with disdain, for example. The caddies also have a private language for ridiculing their players--often right in front of them--to other caddies. It's not unusual for a caddie to purposely give wrong information to a player just for the sake of having a funny story to tell when they get back to the shack. Basically, two types of golfers are accorded caddie respect: scratch players and celebrities. The former gives the caddie fewer errant balls to look for and the latter gives them something to gossip about.  If you don't fall into either of those categories, according to Horovitz, you're just another chump, at least as far as the caddies at St. Andrews are concerned.

There are some non-golf story elements that turn the book into a memoir of sorts. The author chases girls and catches a few, shares various bachelor-pad type apartments with other caddies, and spends one summer filming the caddies as an assignment for one of his classes at Harvard. He also develops a fond relationship with an elderly uncle who lives in St. Andrews. A recurring theme is the way he was treated by the old caddies at the course and how, over time, he earned their trust and respect.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf