Wednesday, April 1

First Set of Golf Clubs: Recalling Lloyd Mangrum Irons, Lady Ben Hogans and More

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST SET of golf clubs?

I've spent part of the morning trying to answer that question for myself.

I started playing golf at the age of 12 at Desert Aire Golf Course, a public 9-hole course in Palmdale, California.

Lloyd Mangrum Golfcraft Irons
I'm pretty certain my first full set of golf clubs included a used set of Lloyd Mangrum irons. They had black shafts made of glass. After doing some research, I've determined the model name was Golfcraft (see photo).

The irons were castoffs from somebody my dad knew. I played with them during my first two years of high school. Then I acquired a used set of Wilson Staff irons. They were blades, of course. I loved them.

My woods? That was a mixed bag as I went through adolescence. They included Hagens, Hogans and MacGregor Tourneys.

To be honest, I've rarely owned new golf equipment, playing mostly with used woods, irons and putters for decades. My current set includes Adams woods (from my brother) and a used set of Ping i3 irons. It's never been more convenient to find used golf clubs at online golf stores such as Golf Avenue.

A few years ago Julie Crichton, a writer and avid golf fan, told me about her first set of golf clubs. They were Hogans.

Julie's brother had reminded her one day when they talked on the phone.

A set of Ben Hogan
Princess clubs
"He began to tease me," Julie said. "'Sister, your first set of clubs were Lady Ben Hogan Princesses in a baby-blue bag.'"

They were hand-me-downs from her grandmother.

"I adored the Lady Ben Hogans and used them well past their prime into the '80s," Julie said, "though, of course I had them all regripped and replaced the miserable blade putter with a Bullseye."

At that time, Julie still had the clubs stored in a closet as a keepsake.

She added, "My grandmother did, after all, win a few Emporia Country Club ladies championships with them back when the greens were sand."

A reader named Peter commented, "Modern super fancy golf clubs may be high qualityquality and super game improvementbut nothing is better than clubs which remind us of people we appreciated."

I couldn't agree more. I still have some vintage golf clubs in storage. I just can't part with them.

Sponsored by Golf Avenue.

Monday, March 30

ICYMI: USGA Names U.S. Women's Open Champion's Medal After Mickey Wright

Mickey Wright died in February. This USGA announcement (edited) came earlier this month. The U.S. Women's Open has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced that the medal presented each year to the winner of the U.S. Women's Open Championship has been renamed in Mickey Wright's honor and redesigned with an image of her iconic swing, ensuring that every future champion is forever linked to one of golf's greatest pioneers and competitors.

The gold medal, which until now has not had a formal name, dates to the 1953 U.S. Women's Open when the USGA first began conducting the championship. Beginning in June with the 75th U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, each champion will receive the Mickey Wright Medal along with the U.S. Women’s Open Trophy.

Over the course of her career, Wright, who died on Feb. 17 at the age of 85, won four U.S. Women's Open titles, which ties Betsy Rawls for the most ever. In addition, Wright has seven top-three finishes and 10 top-five finishes in the championship.

She was the first player to win consecutive Women's Opens, in 1958 at Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and in 1959 at Churchill Valley Golf Club in Blackridge, Pa. She added victories in 1961 at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., and 1964 at San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista, Calif.

European Tour Pros Urge Support of 'Real Heroes'

Thursday, March 26

Golfweek's 5 Tips for Safe Golf During Coronarvirus

GOLF COURSES ARE CLOSING ACROSS the United States. But some remain open, including a former country club in my community. Today, as I drove by, I was surprised to see so many cars in the parking lot.

The Golfweek article by Larry Bohannan (link above) offers a handful of tips for playing golf during the pandemic. They include walking instead of riding, riding alone if you must ride, bringing your own disinfectant and more.

Tuesday, March 24

Golf Instructor Pete Cowen: 'I'm Feeling Horrendous and Wouldn't Wish This on Anyone'

Embed from Getty Images

PETE COWEN, A GOLF INSTRUCTOR who works with Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Graeme McDowell and others, believes he is sick with COVID-19, according to a report by The Telegraph.

Cowen, 69, has been laid low by the virus.

"I'm feeling horrendous and wouldn't wish this on anyone, no matter how young and fit they may be," he said.

Cowen was helping players at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach before the tournament was canceled after the first round. He hasn't been tested.

"After a few days of self-isolation," Cowen said, "we decided to ring the ambulance and the medics said I ticked every box on the corona sheet.

"They were fantastic, but said they were not allowed to test me unless I was admitted to hospital and then the staff there decided to keep you in."

Cowen delivered an ominous message.

"I don't want to alarm anyone, and I might just have been particularly vulnerable to it, but I'm not sure how anyone with an underlying illness could cope with this."


Saturday, March 21

Golfworld: Golf Continues at St. Andrews as Pubs Close Doors Due to Coronavirus

Embed from Getty Images

WHILE THE UK BATTLES COVID-19, the Old Course at St. Andrews remains open to golfers. It's a small slice of normalcy during these surreal days of a global pandemic and what might be the term of the year: "social distancing."

In these difficult times, there remains a soothing constant in the golf world: The Old Course at St. Andrews is open for play. 
That doesn't mean everything is normal at the Home of Golf during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews sent an email to its membership on Saturday morning with the announcement that the club was immediately closing its dining room and drink service, while the locker room would remain open until Wednesday evening, after which it would be closed....
According to data kept by Johns Hopkins University, as of Friday, the UK reported 3,297 cases of the coronavirus, with 168 deaths. The total cases are reportedly the sixth highest for COVID-19 in Europe, behind Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Switzerland.
About half of UK courses are closed, according to Leonard.

The seven courses operated by St. Andrews Golf Links are among the other half that are still open for play (at the moment).

Monday, March 16

Golfworld: Advice From an Infectious Disease Expert on Playing Golf During Coronavirus

Embed from Getty Images

I'VE BEEN MENTALLY PLANNING a golf outing at my semi-deserted municipal course in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Golf is played outside. What could be healthier?

Especially when there are no crowds. In fact, practically no one around and only a few cars in the parking lot. That's the norm where I play, even before the coronavirus.

Golfworld asked an infectious disease expert, "Can you play golf amid coronavirus concerns?"

The answer: "With proper precautions, yes."

An excerpt:
According to Dr. Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, golf as it's normally played—outdoors, with natural social-distancing built in—"would be fairly safe." 
Generally, the key is to be more than six feet away from others. Stay out of gimme distance. 
"As much as we know anything for now, we know that if you're more than six feet from somebody, they're not going to spread it to you. So even within your foursome, you just stay a little bit farther away than you might ordinarily," Troisi said.
Read the entire article.

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

Friday, March 13

Goodbye Golf: PGA TOUR Statement on Canceling PLAYERS and Other Tournaments

FOR A BRIEF MOMENT, I THOUGHT maybe there will be professional golf to watch. This thought flashed after seemingly every other sport cancelled or postponed games and seasons. It began with the NBA on Wednesday.

This golf thought was short-lived, though.

Yesterday the PGA TOUR slammed the trunk on its flagship event, THE PLAYERS Championship, and more. Here's the Tour's statement:
It is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of THE PLAYERS Championship.
We have also decided to cancel all PGA TOUR events – across all of our Tours – in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open. 
We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate.  But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.
The Masters isn't cancelled ... yet. It's postponed.

Today, PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan said: "As we step back and we think about when we're going to play, we need to do all the things that led us to this decision. We need to continue to understand what's happening on the ground in the markets where we would be returning to play, continue to work with our partners in those markets, continue to understand what's happening with the CDC and the World Health Organization, and then ultimately that will guide our decision.

"We're going to make sure that we protect the safety and well-being of all of our constituents as we make that decision."