Saturday, July 13

Matt Kuchar on Difficult Year: 'An Opportunity to Learn to Be More Generous'

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AS JOEL BEALL WRITES AT GOLFDIGEST.COM, it's been a hard year for Matt Kuchar, despite two wins for the 41-year-old tour veteran and current leader in the FedEx Cup standings.

Kuchar's reputation as a perpetually smiling good guy took a nosedive beginning in January when "Kooch" paid local caddie David Ortiz a pittance after his victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. The situation festered until Kuchar eventually wrote a much larger check to Ortiz and issued a public apology.

There were a couple more incidents during this season that challenged the perception of Kuchar as "Mr. Nice Guy."

Kuchar, who isn't on social media, knew things were in a new phase of bad when he started hearing from his grandmother. "Just the fact that she had called me to say, 'I can’t believe what they're saying' was hard," he said, as quoted by Beall.

Beall also quoted Kuchar on the takeaway:

"You know, whether it's home with the family, with the kids, with the wife, with the fans, with you name it, there's just so many opportunities to be more generous," Kuchar said, "and that's one of the things you learn. Sometimes the setbacks are hard, but those are the lessons that you tend to learn from and come out better from.

"You don't learn from victories very often; you learn from your setbacks. And I look at all this as an opportunity to learn to be more generous across the board."

Thursday, July 11

Review: 'Loopers: The Caddie's Long Walk'

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By John Coyne

Bestselling author John Coyne became a caddie at Midlothian Country Club when he was 10 and oversaw the caddie yard as a teenager. Learn about his golf novels at JohnCoyneBooks.com.

CADDIES HAVE FEATURED IN A surprising number of movies, including funny ones (Caddyshack), pretentious ones (The Legend of Bagger Vance), and even sexy ones (Tin Cup, although arguably the golfer in that one, Kevin Costner, is way sexier than the caddy, Cheech Marin).

But there has never been such a serious film about the second most important role in golf as a new documentary, Loopers: The Caddie's Long Walk.

Narrated by Bill Murray, who caddied as a teenager on the west side of Chicago, the film tells the story of golf from the caddie's point of view, beginning with the first royal golfer, Mary Queen of Scots, who is often credited with coining the term caddie.

The role of caddies has changed dramatically over the centuries as reflected in their growing importance. Loopers' director, Jason Baffa, and writer, Carl Cramer, trace this development against the backdrop of the world's legendary courses, including St. Andrews in Scotland, Ballybunion in Ireland, Canterbury in Ohio, Pebble Beach in California and, of course, Augusta National in Georgia.

So the scenery is great, but the focus is on tales of the generations of men, boys and girls who've caddied for a living, starting with Old Tom Morris at St. Andrews and ending with Michael Greller, Jordan Spieth's tour caddie.

Their funny, sometimes heartbreaking stories explain how a gig that once brought in just enough cash to buy another drink became a seven-figure career.

Case in point: Greller. In 2012, as a young, married middle-school math teacher, he took a risky leap and started looping for Spieth. Since then he has earned an estimated $5 million, between his cut of Spieth's winnings and his own lucrative endorsement deals.

Caddies, of course, serve at the pleasure of their players, and the film corrals a number of major ones.

Tom Watson speaks movingly about his longtime caddie, the late Bruce Edwards (what the two-time Masters champion doesn't say: that when Edwards became seriously ill, Watson paid all his medical expenses). Nick Faldo tells the story of how he sought out and hired Fanny Sunesson, the first woman caddie on the PGA Tour.

The film also tips a hat to Chick Evans. While never a caddie, Evans did change the lives of many caddies, young men and women, by creating the Evans Scholars Foundation in 1930. Now supported by private country clubs across the nation, the Foundation has sent more than 10,000 caddies to college.

The caddie creed was always, "Show up. Keep up. Shut up." While that is still good advice, this film illuminates how much the club carrier's role has changed as the social gulf between caddies and players has narrowed since the first days of the feathery balls. It also shows that caddies still have a lot of good advice to give their players, and a lot to say after the round about the game of golf and the players who play.

Country clubs and golf organizations can rent the film for private showings as it makes its theatrical conclusion at: www.loopersmovie.com/request-a-screening

The film can also be preordered on iTunes now at: apple.co/2z5i7aV

DVDs are due for delivery in late summer.

Tuesday, July 9

'Never Three-Putt Again!' and Other Golf Marketing Hype

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MAYBE THEY THINK WE ARE FOOLS. Maybe we should be insulted.

I'm referring to the golf equipment and instruction industry and its relentless marketing machine. We're fools if we believe the constant hype, such as more distance, more forgiveness, more whatever.

Perhaps the silliest one  and dare I say an insult to any golfer's intelligence  "Never three-putt again!"

Really?

I can name nearly 50 players on the PGA Tour who have three-putted this year. WITHIN FIVE FEET OF THE HOLE. See for yourself.

Several on the list have three-putted two dozen times or more during the current season.

So go ahead. Buy that putter, that gadget, that lesson. But please don't buy that ridiculous promise. Don't be a fool.

Thursday, July 4

Kids Play Golf Free in Myrtle Beach

By Kingfish Communications

THE MYRTLE BEACH GOLF COMMUNITY is offering families a reason to pack golf clubs along with sunscreen and surfboards when they head to the beach. More than 50 Grand Strand courses, including some of the area’s most prominent, are again allowing kids to play for free when accompanied by a paying adult.

While the Kids Play Free program is in effect throughout the year, area courses see a surge in junior golfers during the summer months when families flock the beach. While the sand and surf continue to the be the primary attraction, parents enjoy the opportunity to play a morning round with their kids, leaving plenty of time to hit the beach in the afternoon.

"Kids Play Free is a 12-month program that allows families to spend vacation time on the golf course, creating memories that last a lifetime," said Bill Golden, CEO of Golf Tourism Solutions. "The Kids Play Free program is one of our most rewarding initiatives because it enhances the vacation experience, and it introduces golf’s next generation of players to Myrtle Beach."

Among the courses participating in the Kids Play Free program are the four layouts at Barefoot Resort, Tidewater Golf Club, King’s North at Myrtle Beach National and Heritage Club, all among the area's most acclaimed layouts. Numerous Myrtle Beach area courses have junior tees, allowing new players to enjoy an introduction to the game without being overwhelmed by the challenge.

A complete list of participating courses is available online.

Wednesday, July 3

GOLF Films to Air 'Tom at Turnberry' on July 8



By GOLF Channel Public Relations


On Monday (July 8) at 9 p.m. ET, GOLF Channel will debut its next GOLF Films project, Tom at Turnberry, commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Tom Watson’s inconceivable run (at age 59) at winning The 2009 Open. In one of the most improbable sports moments in recent memory, the film – featuring commentary from Watson along with other key individuals from the week – will detail the circumstances that led to a magical week that no one could have anticipated.

The film also weaves in flashbacks to Watson's moments of triumph from his wins at The Open during the peak of his career, earning the "Champion Golfer of the Year" distinction a remarkable five times in the span of nine years (1975-'83). It also touches on Watson’s relationship with links golf, which he initially loathed early in his career for its penal nature, and later learned to embrace and ultimately thrive in. Tom at Turnberry is produced for GOLF Films by 13-time Emmy Award winner Israel DeHerrera and Emmy-Award winning producer Erik Rozentals.

"We live in a day where we feel like we have to compare everything. There's nothing that compares to this. It stands on its own merits." – Mike Tirico

THE ULTIMATE LONGSHOT: Despite having won The Open on five previous occasions, Watson was unmistakably a longshot to be in contention – let alone win – in 2009, as the oldest man in the field who was less than a year removed from having his hip replaced. Yet despite the odds stacked against him, Watson (26 years removed from his last victory at The Open) casually alluded to the notion of wrapping his arms around the Claret Jug for the sixth time during his pre-tournament press conference saying, "Now that'd be a story, wouldn't it?"

While it isn't plausible that anyone would have predicted Watson's fate, in many respects, the stars for the World Golf Hall of Fame member were aligned. His vast experience competing on links golf venues offered an advantage on a field that included only 21 players that competed in the most recent Open at Turnberry in 1994. Watson also was returning to the site of the most-celebrated of his five Open titles, where he masterfully outlasted Jack Nicklaus in The 1977 Open in what is famously known as the "Duel in the Sun." Above all, early in the week Watson implemented a slight change to his shoulder positioning with his putter that helped him hit putts more solidly. It led to Watson mentioning to his wife on the eve of the opening round that "he could win this tournament."

"If Arnold [Palmer] put The Open back on the map, Tom [Watson] really was the person who took it into the living rooms of America."
– Ron Sirak, Golf Writer

TURNING BACK THE CLOCK: Thursday's opening round saw Watson take advantage of calm conditions that were ideal for scoring, with an opening round 65 (5-under) that put him in a tie for second place. Beginning Friday's second round at 5-over par through 7 holes, it looked as though Watson might fall out of contention, but he rallied to finish even-par for the round, and was tied for the lead going into Saturday.

Watson's third round (1-over par, 71), put him in position to enter Sunday's final round as the solo leader at 4-under for the week, as Saturday saw only five players with an under-par round. In the film, Neil Oxman (Watson's caddie for the week) speaks to Watson's self-contained nature helping him to stay in contention, essentially blocking the outside noise and the magnitude of what he was attempting to accomplish by ignoring the totality of the situation.

"THIS AIN’T A FUNERAL YOU KNOW": Watson’s two bogeys through 3 holes on Sunday helped contribute to five different men holding at least a share of the lead at one point during the final round. However, when Watson birdied the 17th hole, he walked to the tee on the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead, needing only a par to shatter the record as the oldest major champion ever.

Following an ideal drive in the fairway, Watson's 8-iron rolled over the green and when he failed to get up-and-down, his bogey led to a four-hole playoff that Stewart Cink went on to win. In trying to make light of the situation during a post-round press center visit, Watson declared, "This ain't a funeral you know," in acknowledging the disappointment of coming up just short of the historic victory. "It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn't it?"

Golf Swing Wednesday: Tour Rookie Viktor Hovland and an Odd Double-Pump Swing


I CAN'T RECALL SEEING THIS ACTION, the double-pump swing, at least not done intentionally.

This, of course, is Viktor Hovland, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion who turned pro after a T12 at the U.S. Open. From Norway, Hovland played collegiate golf at Oklahoma State University.

Tuesday, July 2

U.S. Senior Open Notebook: Ageless Tom Watson Sets Enviable Record

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AS YOU PROBABLY KNOW, Steve Stricker won the U.S. Senior Open in record-setting fashion this past weekend in South Bend, Indiana. Good for Steve.

But I wanted to mention Tom Watson.

I continue to marvel at Watson's play as he nears 70. It was a decade ago Watson nearly won the British Open at age 59.

From the USGA's championship notes:
Tom Watson, the 1982 U.S. Open champion who made it a record 17-for-17 in cuts made in the U.S. Senior Open this week, matched or bettered his age (69) for the third time in four rounds. Watson carded a 2-under 68 for a 72-hole total of 278. 
"At this point in my career, I don't know when I'm going to stop playing," said Watson about if he'll play in the 2020 U.S. Senior Open. "But there will be a time when I stop playing, and I can't determine that right now." 
Watson is a poster boy for longevity in major championship golf.

Thursday, June 27

Golf Swing Thursday: Tony Jacklin Drives Across the Thames River in 1969


TONY JACKLIN TOLD ME HIS GOLF SWING came together in 1969, the year he won the British Open and also won five points in the Ryder Cup that ended in a historic tie, 16 all. A year later Jacklin won the U.S. Open at Hazeltine.

Jacklin played practice rounds with Tom Weiskopf, Bert Yancey and other Americans, and mastered his leg action, a departure from the wristy golf swings of many Brits at that time.

About the above...

"That was a publicity stunt," Jacklin said. "... There was a ship in the Thames with a ... light measuring the distances. They made a performance of bringing the golf balls on the silver tray. ... When you swing and looking at traffic down (there), you get this feeling you're going to go with (the ball). So I was on my back foot the whole time."