Sunday, December 30

Oops! Armchair Golf Misquotes Neil Armstrong




“In much of society, golf means to investigate something you do not know or understand.”
(not said by) Neil Armstrong






Biographical note: Neil Armstrong is a former American astronaut and the first person to have set foot on the moon.

This misquote brought to you by The Armchair Golfer.
Getting it wrong for the love of the game.

Friday, December 28

Armchair Golf Year in Review

I didn't wear a jumpsuit like these pro caddies when I looped for Orville Moody this year. (Glasson/Flickr)






Not too bad a year for this golf blogger. I made many new golf connections, including other golf bloggers and writers and several Tour pros -- men, women and a handful of legends.

I was invited to cover golf for MVN (Most Valuable Network) in the spring and started Down the Middle.

At the time, I didn’t know how I’d write for the ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG and Down the Middle (plus a book, plus my clients). Seven months later, I still wonder.

Legendary Connections

My colleague Walter introduced me to his family friend John Derr, who happens to be a legendary golf broadcaster. John shared some great stories about Sam Snead and Ben Hogan that I published here. That led to other new golf connections, including my friend and Ben Hogan aficionado George who passed me along to Jack Fleck, the famous underdog who beat Hogan in an 18-hole playoff to win the 1955 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Jack and I now talk often, and I enjoyed getting out on the Champions Tour this year to meet him and many other golf legends such as Dow Finsterwald, Bobby Nichols, Billy Casper, Doug Sanders, Fred Hawkins, Gene Littler, Don January, Lee Elder, Charlie Sifford, Howie Johnson, Orville Moody, Bob Goalby, Gay Brewer and Doug Ford.

Voices of the Game

I was fortunate to interview some PGA Tour and LPGA Tour pros, including Pat Perez (twice), U.S. Women’s Open champion Cristie Kerr, U.S. Solheim Cup team member Paula Creamer, Jack Fleck and Fred Hawkins. I also interviewed two authors, Chris Lewis (The Scorecard Always Lies) and John Coyne (The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan).

Plus, I did a Q&A with Rand Jerris of the USGA, who, along with other USGA staff, was quite helpful when I spent a couple of days in May at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, New Jersey.

Augusta and Ryder Cup Bound

I won two lotteries for dream golf tickets. I am the proud recipient of four Monday practice round tickets for the 2008 Masters. Stepping onto Augusta National for the first time will be a life highlight. I also was awarded a pair of practice round tickets to the Ryder Cup in Louisville. I better go to that, too.

I did play some golf this year, mostly in the summer, mostly on my home course, Great Oaks Country Club. Worst round: 86. Best round: 75.

Many thanks to you for reading the ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG. I started this blog on a lark a couple of years ago. It’s been more fun and surprising then I ever could have imagined. I’m going to stick around a while longer and see what happens next.

The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, December 26

Golf Tales for Christmas

I got one golf-related gift for Christmas: a little golf book authored by Don Wade called “And Then Jack Said to Arnie …” The subtitle is “A Collection of the Greatest True Golf Stores of All Time.”

And when I say little I mean teeny tiny. This hardcover measures about two inches by three inches. It’s not much bigger than a cell phone.

This book has been around since the 1990s, but the miniature version came out a few years ago. It’s a good gift for anybody who can’t get enough golf and likes a story.

My mini version has stories about Augusta National, Winston Churchill, Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, Howard Hughes, Bing Crosby, Jack Lemmon, Byron Nelson, Lee Trevino, Willie Nelson and a few more.

The Armchair Golfer

Monday, December 24

Armchair Golf: Christmas Edition

I rarely stray off topic, but since it’s Christmas Eve I thought I would offer some advice that could come in handy, especially tonight.

Following are some tips on how to fend off a charging reindeer:

Stand your ground.
(Most reindeer will run around a standing person.)

Watch for front-leg kicking.
(Agitated reindeer tend to kick out with front hooves.)

Watch for antler display.
(Males typically display antlers before goring.)

Back up slowly.
(Don’t make sudden movements.)

Don’t raise your arms over your head.
(Bulls can interpret this as a challenge.)

If the reindeer attempts to gore you, grab its antlers.
(Try to steer it away from you.)

Move to the side quickly as you release the antlers.
(Maybe the reindeer will simply move away.)

Call for help.
(But not too loudly.)

Merry Christmas!

The Armchair Golfer

Source: The WORST-CASE SCENARIO Survival Handbook: Holidays

Saturday, December 22

Lorena Ochoa: The Best Dame Athlete, Period



Lorena Ochoa is not just the best female golfer. She is also the best women's athlete of 2007, according to The Associated Press.

No argument here.

Lorena Ochoa won her second straight AP Female Athlete of the Year award in a landslide, collecting 71 votes. Tennis star Justine Henin was a distant second with 18 votes.

"My main goal is to maintain myself as the No. 1," Ochoa said in an email to the AP. “Therefore, I can promise to keep improving.”

"I have a lot of respect for Lorena. I think she’s a fantastic player," Annika Sorenstam, the player Ochoa dethroned, told the AP. "She deserves to be No. 1. She’s playing consistent every week. She’s playing as good as anybody can play.”

Besides Ochoa, other consecutive award winners in women’s golf are Sorenstam, Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Babe Zaharias.

The Armchair Golfer

2007 Golf Quiz Knocks Me Off My Armchair

“Maybe you thought you were paying attention to golf in 2007,” writes Golf.com columnist Gary Van Sickle, “but this Killer Year-End Quiz says you probably weren’t.

“You’ve got a good chance to go low with this Quiz -- as in, not get many correct. Go ahead and test your memory, if you dare … ”

OK, Gary, I accept the challenge. I keep up with golf. Kinda.

(A short while later...)

You were right, Gary. I’m glad I didn’t have you in middle school. It was tougher than winning the U.S. Open with my wife ready to give birth at any second. Out of the first 14 questions, I only got half right. There are many more questions, but I gave up (for now) because I have to get out into the Christmas shopping madness.

Who else wants to try? If you get more than 10 of the first 14 questions correct, you may want to check yourself into Golfaholics Anonymous.

Take the Killer Year-End Quiz

The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, December 20

‘A Disorderly Compendium of Golf’

The title of this post is actually the title of a book by Lorne Rubenstein and Jeff Neuman that my brother-in-law gave me for my birthday, along with a volume of golf short stories edited by William Hallberg called Perfect Lies.

A Disorderly Compendium of Golf is a random collection of anecdotes, trivia, rules, tricks, nicknames, history, quotes and more. As the authors write in the introduction, “We … share a fascination for the minutiae of the game.”

Examples?

How about Three-Hanky Golf, touching vignettes that would make the biggest golf sourpuss wail like a newborn, or the Ten Most Memorable Lines from Caddyshack (“I tell you, this steak still has marks from where the jockey was hittin’ it”), or Famous Collapses in Majors (Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, etc., etc.), or How to Rake a Bunker Like a Professional Caddie (which I attempted this fall during an outing with Orville Moody), or What Nobody Ever Tells You About Augusta National and Beyond the Green Jacket.

And, one of my favorites, Most Famous Shots by Club, including honorable mentions.

You get the idea. Not just any minutiae, but a goldmine of golf minutiae. Stuff you don’t know or haven’t heard, and some you have but don’t mind revisiting.

I know of Lorne Rubenstein, an author of eight books and a golf columnist for The Globe and Mail of Canada. I will try to reach Mr. Rubenstein to see if he will grant a Q&A. He sounds like my kind of golf guy.

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, December 18

Is Annika Sorenstam on Her Way Back?

(N Gottwald/Flickr)

Annika Sorenstam capped a tough year with a victory this past weekend at the Dubai Ladies Masters, avoiding her first winless season since 1993.

In 2007 Sorenstam lost her world No. 1 ranking to Lorena Ochoa and ruptured a disk in her neck that sidelined her for two months. Now that she’s healthy, Annika has one thing in mind.

“I want to get back to the top and this is definitely extra motivation to work hard and be ready for 2008,” she was quoted as saying by the BBC.

And at her blog, Annika wrote, “It was so great to be in contention again. I had almost forgotten how much I love the feeling of coming down the stretch and battling for the trophy.

“My adrenalin was flowing and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. I finally got a win and it was a nice way to end the season. I am excited for 2008, because my motivation is back!”

I think it will take every ounce of motivation she has to reclaim the top spot in women’s golf. The competition on the ladies circuit is not backing down. Annika has her work cut out for her.

The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, December 16

Jim Furyk Tries to Read Drug Policy on Blackberry

The PGA Tour will adopt a drug policy and random testing in 2008. The times we live in. Sheesh.

Jim Furyk shouldn’t have any problems. He takes prescriptions for allergies, and when his neck acts up he pops an Alleve.

Still, Jim thought it would be a good idea to read the new policy, so he pulled it up on his Blackberry.

“It was like 41 pages,” Furyk told the AP. “I got to page two on the Blackberry and realized there were 39 more pages to go. Forty-one pages of that? I don’t think I can do it.

“I may read if it I feel it’s necessary. For me, the idea is to make sure we can go to the workshops and have all the people in place to help us out.”

The policy manual lists 10 categories of prohibited substances that include anabolic steroids, human growth hormones, narcotics and beta blockers.

According to the story I read a couple of days ago, Tiger was about midway through the manual. Zach Johnson hadn’t read a word -- he sent it to his trainer for review. There’s a mandatory drug policy meeting for players in January. Random testing will begin July 8.

The sad thing is at some point -- I don’t know when -- a Tour player will fail. (I guess it’s already happened overseas with an Italian golfer, I believe.) If we don’t think it could happen in golf, we’re probably naïve.

The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, December 15

Golf Privileges for a Good Cause

I just found this in my email inbox. Maybe it’s an option for you or a golfer on your gift list.

Dear A.G. (if I can be so familiar),

I’m helping the American Lung Association spread the word about their 2008 Golf Privilege Card, and I’m hoping you might mention this on your blog.

The Golf Privilege Card offers discounts on greens fees, pro shop purchases and golf outings. And proceeds from the card go into the American Lung Association’s fight against asthma, tuberculosis and all lung-related diseases. It's a great last-minute gift for all concerned.

The national map showing where cards are available is here.

Thanks very much for your consideration, and happy holidays.

Nancy Purcell

The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, December 13

Tiger Woods’ Protégé

(Delores Knowles/Flickr)

Imagine you’re a 17-year-old blasting balls out of a sand trap and a guy walks up to you and says, “What are you trying to do with this bunker shot?”

Oh yeah, and the guy is Tiger Woods.

That’s what happened three years ago to Corey Carroll, an aspiring pro who attends Rollins College and recently failed to advance in the first stage of qualifying school. I read about it in a new Golf Digest profile on Tiger Woods penned by Jaime Diaz.

The two have become friends, with Tiger in the mentor role.

“The context of our friendship is a mutual admiration of work ethic,” Carroll told Diaz. “We practice together and work out together, talk about the methods of different players, just anything golf.”

Tiger said Carroll knows how to work hard, which is the toughest part. Now Carroll just needs to keep learning new stuff and see how far it takes him.

Diaz suggests that, by mentoring, Tiger “might be consciously or unconsciously finding another way to emulate his father.” Whatever Tiger's motivation, I think it’s neat the world No. 1 would approach a young golfer in a bunker and befriend him.

The Armchair Golfer

Monday, December 10

Ernie Els Describes Dunhill Collapse

Ernie Els imploded on the 72nd hole at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
(Flickr photo)



Ernie Els had played beautifully all week. On the last hole, a par five, his ball was in the middle of the fairway, 190 yards from the green. A comfortable six iron, he said. And a comfortable two-shot lead. Make his birdie (or par) and get out of there. It was a mere formality.

Then things went terribly wrong for the Big Easy. Here are excerpts from the account Ernie posted today at his Web site:
To be honest with you, yesterday is about the most disappointed I’ve ever felt walking off a golf course. I was gutted. But hey, let’s keep things in proportion. This is sport. It’s not like anyone died out there. I just have to take it on the chin and move on.

I had a two-shot lead playing the last and bombed a great drive down the middle of the fairway. I’m sure some people today might say I should have laid-up short of the water, but hey, I had only about 190 to the front edge and for me that’s just a comfortable 6-iron. I really didn’t feel like it was a lay-up situation. Like I said, people will disagree, but it’s easy to be smart and make judgments after the event. I went with what I felt was the right shot at the time.

I just didn’t get all of that 6-iron. Then on the pitch shot I got a bit quick with the hands and pulled it a fraction, so it went a few yards longer through the air than it should have…into the water again. Anyway, you know the rest. It was horrible, but it’s history. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. If you look back over the years, some of the best players in the world have thrown away tournaments on the last few holes.

Really, what more can you say?
Well, he’s right, of course. Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer come to mind. So do Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson.

At least it wasn’t a major Ernie threw away. That would be far worse. Still, it's highly disturbing.

The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, December 8

Oops! Armchair Golf Misquotes Norman Mailer


“The function of golf is to raise suffering to a higher level.”

(not said by) Norman Mailer






Biographical note: Norman Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, playwright, screenwriter and film director. He died in November.

This misquote brought to you by The Armchair Golfer.
Getting it wrong for the love of the game.

Thursday, December 6

2007 Putt of the Year


Sergio Garcia came close at Carnoustie.
(Brian Doyle/Flickr)


Golf Central is running an online poll to determine the putt of the year.

And the nominees are...

• Zach Johnson's birdie on the 15th hole during the first round of The Barclays
• Tiger Woods' 70-footer on the ninth hole during the first round of the TOUR Championship
• Tiger Woods' birdie on the eighth hole during the last round of the PGA Championship
• Tadd Fujikawa's eagle on the 18th hole during the second round of the Sony Open
• Padraig Harrington's double bogey to force a playoff at the British Open

OK, I have a confession. I don’t remember much about any of these. There’s an obvious reason: I didn’t see all of them. The ones I did see apparently weren’t that memorable, or else senility is setting in, or a little of both.

Here's my nomination for putt of the year, with a twist...

It’s a putt that didn’t drop. Had it gone in, it would have changed everything for one talented but tortured young player.

• Sergio Garcia’s eight-foot par putt on the 72nd green to win the British Open

Garcia’s effort burned the edge. Heading into 2008 Sergio still has the “Never Won a Major” monkey riding his back.

Watch video clips of Golf Central’s putt of the year nominees here.

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, December 4

Tiger Woods’ Only Non-Nike Golf Club


Tiger Woods tests a green at Augusta National.
(Flickr photo)


Tiger Woods is in south Florida this week talking up Nike golf clubs. But the most important club in Tiger’s bag doesn’t have a swoosh. It’s his beloved putter, a Scotty Cameron. In fact, it’s the only non-Nike club in Woods’ arsenal.

Tiger does have a backup putter that’s a Nike model, but it hasn’t helped him win 12 majors. I don’t expect the Nike putter will see much action.

Setting aside the Scotty Cameron would be like benching Tom Brady. It's not happening.

The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, December 2

Bob Charles, 71, Makes Cut in New Zealand Open


Bob Charles at Turnberry for the 2006 Senior British Open.
(Flickr photo)


In 1963, Bob Charles, an earlier "Lefty," won the British Open.

On Friday, at age 71, Charles fired a second-round 68 to make the cut in the New Zealand Open.

How's that for longevity?

"Although officials could not confirm it yesterday, it's thought Sir Bob's effort to make the cut at 71 years of age is either a European Tour or even world record," the New Zealand Herald reported.

Bravo.

The Armchair Golfer