Saturday, July 30

Peter Jacobsen Is Recipient of 2012 Old Tom Morris Award

By Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER and golf course designer Peter Jacobsen has been selected to receive the 2012 Old Tom Morris Award by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). The award will be presented during the 2012 GCSAA Education Conference at Celebrate GCSAA! presented by Syngenta on February 28 in Las Vegas.

“Peter has done much for the game of golf, and he has been an advocate for golf course superintendents,” said GCSAA President Robert Randquist. “He is a perfect fit for the Old Tom Morris Award, and we look forward to recognizing him at the GCSAA Education Conference.”

GCSAA’s most prestigious honor, the Old Tom Morris Award is presented each year to an individual who “through a continuing lifetime commitment to the game of golf has helped to mold the welfare of the game in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris.” Morris (1821-1908) was greenkeeper and golf professional at the St. Andrews Links Trust Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland. Morris was a four-time winner of the British Open (1861, ’62, ’64 and ’67) and ranked as one of the top links designers of the 19th century.

Jacobsen won seven times on the PGA TOUR and owns two Champions Tour majors, the 2004 U.S. Senior Open and the 2005 Senior Players Championship. He played for the U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 1985 and 1995. In 2003 he was PGA TOUR Comeback Player of the Year after winning the Greater Hartford Open at the age of 49.

Jacobsen is president and CEO of Peter Jacobsen Sports, a sports marketing firm he created in 1988. He also co-founded a golf course design company with Jim Hardy (Jacobsen Hardy Golf Course Design) that has developed nearly 20 courses and renovated several others worldwide since 1995.

Jacobsen also has provided commentary for various TV golf broadcasts, including recent work as a commentator for NBC and Golf Channel at the 2011 U.S. Open.

Past Winners

Arnold Palmer was the first recipient of the Old Tom Morris Award in 1983. Other winners include Nick Price, Judy Rankin, Greg Norman, Charlie Sifford, Jack Nicklaus, Rees Jones, Pete Dye, Tim Finchem, Nancy Lopez, Ken Venturi, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Fazio, Byron Nelson, Dinah Shore, Tom Watson, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Gene Sarazen, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Patty Berg, Gerald Ford and Bob Hope.

(Photo: Courtesy of GCSAA)

Friday, July 29

How It’s Done: Andres Gonzales at the Greenbrier Classic




PGA TOUR ROOKIE ANDRES GONZALES demonstrates the chip-and-run shot to perfection on the 15th hole of Old White at The Greenbrier Classic. Gonzales, self described as “half man, half amazing,” went on to card a 69 on Thursday but slipped to a 74 on Friday to miss the cut.

Gonzales is perhaps best known for his one-way Twitter conversation with Tiger Woods. It began this way:

“@TigerWoods my name is andresgonzales and I am a rookie on tour. I like elephants.”

Tiger was his idol growing up. Now Gonzales wants to be friends. And perhaps play a practice round with the 14-time major winner. A tweet in June:

“@TigerWoods qualified for the open today. Hate to say I don’t need a roommate because my family is coming. But I would be up for a p. round.”

And on July 2:

“My wife is at my sister’s bachelorette, so I found a different party. I need a date. I doubt you’re here but it’s worth a try...@tigerwoods?”

So far, no Tiger. No matter, the 28-year-old rookie is having fun.

Webb Simpson and Brendon de Jonge are tied for the 36-hole lead at The Greenbrier Classic. 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman is one shot back. Phil Mickelson missed the cut.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, July 28

ARMCHAIR GOLF Roundtable: Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson

(Editor’s note: In honor of Sam Snead, whose longtime golf home was The Greenbrier, site of this week’s Greenbrier Classic, I bring you the following from the ARMCHAIR GOLF archives.)

These are real quotes and comments. The questions are made up. Welcome to the ARMCHAIR GOLF roundtable.

At the roundtable:
Sam Snead – 82 PGA Tour wins, 7 majors
Ben Hogan – 64 PGA Tour wins, 9 majors
Byron Nelson – 52 PGA Tour wins, 5 majors

Q: Gentlemen, welcome. Ben, let’s start with you. After all the rounds and practice sessions, tell us something you have learned about this game.


BEN HOGAN:
Golf is not a game of good shots. It’s a game of bad shots.

Q: Byron, how about you? What about the game comes to mind?


BYRON NELSON:
Golf is a lot like life. When you make a decision, stick with it.

Q: Sam?

SAM SNEAD: Playing golf is like eating.

Q: Eating?

SAM SNEAD: It’s something that has to come naturally.

Q: Ben, it didn’t come naturally for you. You constantly worked at your game.

BEN HOGAN: Very few times in my life I laid off two to three days. It seemed like it took me a month to three months to get back those three days when I took a rest. It’s a tough situation. I had to practice all the time.

Q: Byron, were you a natural like Sam or did you have to work hard on your swing?

SAM SNEAD: When I swing at a golf ball right, my mind is blank and my body is loose as a goose.

Q: Uh, thanks, Sam. Byron, any swing secret?

BYRON NELSON: Swing the club as though you were driving 60 miles an hour on the freeway. Not too fast, but not deathly slow. Once in a while, if the risk isn’t great, you can push your swing to 70, but never go faster than that.

Q: Ben, it’s well known that putting was not your favorite part of the game.


BEN HOGAN: There shouldn’t be any cups, just flagsticks. And then the man who hit the most fairways and greens and got the closest to the pins would be the tournament winner.

Q: Sam, are you with Ben on this?


SAM SNEAD: I shot a wild elephant in Africa thirty yards from me, and it didn’t hit the ground until it was right at my feet. I wasn’t a bit scared. But a four-foot putt scares me to death.

Q: How about you, Byron?


BYRON NELSON:
Putting affects the nerves more than anything. I would actually get nauseated over three-footers.

Q: You all had humble beginnings. Talk about that.

SAM SNEAD:
People think growing up in the hills was a handicap I had to overcome. In a lot of ways it gave me an advantage that has lasted me to this day. Just like with that stick, I’d have to overcompensate for just about everything.

Q: Anybody else?

LEE TREVINO: My family was so poor they couldn’t afford any kids. The lady next door had me.

Q: Lee? I didn’t see you come in. Any final thoughts, gentlemen?


SAM SNEAD:
The only reason I ever played golf in the first place was so I could afford to hunt and fish.

BYRON NELSON: I tried to give my best to golf.

BEN HOGAN:
Don’t ever get old.

LEE TREVINO: The older I get, the better I used to be!

Q: Thanks to all of you.


−The Armchair Golfer

(Source: The Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations, published by Skyhorse Publishing.)

Wednesday, July 27

U.S. Senior Open: Cochran to Attempt Langer Double

ONE LEFTY FINISHED SECOND at the British Open. That would be Phil Mickelson, whose final-round charge fizzled on the back nine. But the following week a lesser-known lefty won the senior British. The Champions Tour’s Russ Cochran claimed his first professional major at Walton Heath in England last Sunday.

Can Cochran win consecutive majors by capturing the U.S. Senior Open title at Inverness this week? Bernhard Langer performed the remarkable feat a year ago.

(Russ Cochran)

PGATour.com contributor Vartan Kupelian thinks Cochran can do it. Kupelian ranks the veteran lefty No. 1 in his U.S. Senior Open Power Rankings.

“Now that he’s [Cochran] back and fit again after a wrist injury,” Kupelian writes, “a back-to-back isn’t out of the question. Consider that Cochran’s first two Champions Tour victories, in 2010, came in successive tournaments last September in Korea and North Carolina.”

Cochran, a journeyman who won just once in 26 years on the PGA Tour, is flourishing on the second-chance tour. The 52-year-old Kentucky native has three victories since joining the Champions Tour in February 2009.

Cochran will face tough competition at Inverness. Other players have been knocking at the major door, including John Cook and Mark Calcavecchia. Calc perhaps only needs a good putting week to kick the door in. Troubled by a thumb injury this season, defending champion Langer might be rounding into form after last week’s T12 at the Senior British Open that included a pair of 69s on the weekend.

As Kupelian reports, there are five players in the U.S. Senior Open field who have won at Inverness dating back to 1973: Craig Stadler, Hale Irwin, Bob Tway, Paul Azinger (update: Azinger has withdrawn) and Bruce Lietzke. Inverness has hosted four U.S. Opens, two U.S. Senior Opens, two PGA Championships and one U.S. Amateur.

ESPN and NBC have the TV coverage.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, July 26

Heartbroken Pettersen Plays on at Women’s British Open

SUZANN PETTERSEN IS IN CARNOUSTIE, Scotland, this week for the $2.5 million Ricoh Women’s British Open, but her heart is in her native Norway where 95 people died in a terror attack by Anders Behring Breivik, who has reportedly confessed to the atrocities.

Pettersen wore a black armband during the third and fourth rounds at last week’s Evian Masters in Paris to show respect for the fallen Norwegians. Everyone would have understood if she had withdrawn from the tournament and flown home to Norway, where all sporting events were canceled through the weekend. Instead, the seven-time LPGA winner chose to keep playing.

“I think everyone at home would feel like you should go out there and play for us,” Pettersen told Golfweek’s Alistair Tait. “You go out there and you fight for your heart and you fight for your friends and fellow Norwegians at home.”

Pettersen has carried the burden of her homeland’s tragedy to Carnoustie, one of the world’s most demanding links courses. The Women’s British Open is an important championship, the season’s final major, but Pettersen has a different perspective on golf at the moment in light of the events back home.

“It’s still heartbreaking …. What’s amazing through all this is how we all stick together. We stay strong together.”

The Women’s British Open field includes 22 of the world’s top 23 golfers, including world No. 1 and defending champion Yani Tseng. Tseng’s 11-under total at Royal Birkdale last year edged Katherine Hull by a stroke.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: ktan.kh, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Monday, July 25

The Most Emailed Article at GolfDigest.com

I ADMIT THAT IT’S a trick question, but take a few seconds to give this some thought: What do you think is the most emailed article at GolfDigest.com?

Asking you to name the exact article is unfair, too much to ask. Just see if you can name the topic, issue, or person. Anything come to mind?

If I were guessing, I’d say Tiger Woods in a heartbeat. I’d be wrong.

The most emailed article at GolfDigest.com is “Dr. Bob Rotella: Inside the Golfer’s Mind.” Yes, the same Bob Rotella who helped 42-year-old Darren Clarke tame his putting demons, which helped the Northern Irishman win the Claret Jug, his first major championship.

Rotella is a longtime mental guru who has helped many a tour pro and countless other golfers. He knows the golfer’s mind. It isn’t pretty. It’s pretty creepy, actually. This is your brain. This is your brain on golf.

If Rotella can help you, or me, or Darren Clarke change a thought or two, he can help change our minds about this bedeviling game. And that can produce better results. (Hint: But don’t think about the results too much, or at all.)

From the popular article, following are Rotella’s “10 things a player must do in a competitive round.” Please note that he explains each of the following points in detail in the article.

1. Play to play great. Don’t play not to play poorly.

2. Love the challenge of the day, whatever it may be.

3. Get out of the results and get into the process.

4. Know that nothing will bother or upset you on the golf course.

5. Playing with a feeling that the outcome doesn’t matter is always preferable to caring too much.

6. Believe fully in yourself so you can play freely.

7. See where you want the ball to go before every shot.

8. Be decisive, committed and clear.

9. Be your own best friend.

10. Love your wedge and your putter.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these mental approaches on the golf course or in tournament competition?

I’ve definitely been guilty of playing not to play poorly, a scared, defensive brand of golf. I’ve done reasonably well at focusing on process rather than results. But that can break down if I realize I’m shooting a great score for me. I’m pretty good at being my own best friend. No use beating myself up if things are going badly. My little on-course pep talks are helpful.

What about you? Does any of Dr. Bob’s advice seem particularly helpful? Does any of it strike you as hopelessly unrealistic?

By the way, the second most emailed article is also by the good doctor: “Dr. Bob Rotella: My 10 Rules on Mental Fitness.”

Further proof that we’re all a bunch of mental cases. But that’s OK.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: VancityAllie, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Saturday, July 23

North-South Amateurs Praise Pinehurst No. 2 Restoration




EARLIER THIS MONTH TOP AMATEURS teed it up in the 111th Men’s North & South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst, North Carolina. It was the most significant tournament at Pinehurst No. 2 since the storied golf course reopened in March following a full restoration by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. A few of the amateurs share their thoughts about No. 2 in the above video. For the North & South, Pinehurst No. 2 played at 7,346 yards and to a par of 71.

Restoration Elements

Beginning in 2008, the $2.5 million restoration was undertaken to elevate the experience for members and resort guests, Pinehurst Resort said in April. The USGA was consulted throughout the process since it will conduct the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open at No. 2 on consecutive weeks in 2014.

Following are specific elements of the restoration.

• The wall-to-wall grass look synonymous with the modern era has been eliminated, leaving just two lengths of grass: greens and everything else.

• All rough has been eliminated from the course.

• Approximately 32 acres of grass have been stripped, returning natural areas of hardpan, sand, pine straw and wiregrass that were part of the original topography. More than 100,000 wiregrass plants were added.

• Fairways have been widened by almost 50 percent on average, offering more strategic options. Fairways also will be kept firmer, benefiting good shots and penalizing stray shots that continue to bounce into distressed areas, pine straw and native grasses.

• Almost 700 sprinkler heads have been removed, leaving about 450 operating heads along the single, center water line. These irrigation lines will define fairways, but leave other areas to be defined by the weather and natural elements.

• The removal of sprinkler heads coupled with no winter overseeding and the focus on firmer conditions will reduce overall water usage by as much as 50 percent.

• Eight new tees have been added to the championship course, increasing the total championship yardage to 7,485 yards from 7,214.

• All greens have been sodded with A1/A4 bent grass.

• Bunkers have been restored, eliminated or reshaped based on aerial images of the course from the 1940s.

• While No. 2’s famous greens went largely untouched, minor modifications were made to the 15th and 17th greens in order to create additional pin placements.

“My mouth literally falls open when I see the incredible work that they’ve done,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis.

I hope to get to Pinehurst sometime soon and see for myself.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, July 22

2011 RBC Canadian Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 RBC Canadian Open is being played in Vancouver, British Columbia, at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club. Kris Banks was the first-round leader with a 3-under 67. Scott Piercy is currently leading at 4 under with the second round in progress. Paul Goydos and Banks, who hasn’t teed off, are one back.


Purse: $5.2 million
Winner’s share: $936,000
Defending champion: Carl Pettersson (at right)

2011 RBC Canadian Open Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tour report
RBC Canadian Open website


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 RBC Canadian Open
is on Golf Channel and CBS.

Fri, 7/22:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 7/23:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 7/24:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Thursday, July 21

Steve Williams, Tiger Woods and ‘Fourteen Red Shirts’

WITH THE DISMISSAL OF longtime caddie Steve Williams, the dismantling of team Tiger Woods continues. Williams was on the bag for 13 of Tiger’s major victories, including the last win at Torrey Pines three years ago. In what was thought to be a temporary arrangement, Williams is now the permanent bag man for Adam Scott.

Tiger’s future remains cloudy. Who will be his new caddie? When will he be healthy and play again? Will he win more majors and chase down Jack Nicklaus?

Artist Steven Anthony Salerno has created a new limited-edition Tiger Woods print that depicts Tiger’s 14 majors. Salerno has intentionally left space in the last row for more “red shirts.” More details from the artist follow.

‘Fourteen Red Shirts’

The latest golf art release (at right) by artist Steven Anthony Salerno entitled “fourteen red shirts” is now available at SASgolf.com in the exclusive edition gallery. This art image, consisting of 14 small “swing portrait” paintings set in rows, highlights the 14 major championship victories of golfer Tiger Woods. The poses and even the various red shirts depicted are all from the final day of each corresponding championship event.

The artist purposely left some open space at the bottom of the composition to express his personal opinion that Tiger is certainly not done winning major championships.

“Fourteen red shirts” is a limited edition of just 100 signed and numbered prints. All of the artist’s golf art prints are printed on 100% cotton rag archival fine art paper with brilliant permanent pigment inks. The high resolution Giclee inkjet printing process used for the edition, sprays millions of continuous microscopic ink droplets with unsurpassed precision and color accuracy. This is the same reproduction process museums use to create print replicas of art in their collections.

For more information and a larger view of the “fourteen red shirts” print, visit SASgolf.com. You can read the artist’s blog post about “fourteen red shirts” here.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, July 20

Ireland: The Spiritual Home of Golf (Conclusion)

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on golf in Ireland by guest contributor Barry Ward.

By Barry Ward
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © Barry Ward. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

(CONTINUED FROM PART 1.) If you’ve the time, you should wander up the west coast where the counties of Galway, Mayo and Sligo have links that impoverish adjectives. En route, though, you must pop into Lahinch, in County Clare, where Old Tom Morris laid out “the St Andrews of Ireland.” I could tell a tale or two about this grand old links but I doubt you’d believe me…. OK. How about a blind par three and goats that forecast the weather? Told you.

The west coast is one of Ireland’s premier golfing destinations and its list of courses will tell why: Connemara, Enniscrone, Donegal, Carne, Ballyliffin and Rosses Point, where dinner at Aunties is a traditional imperative if you effect an escape from the club bar.

Another word of caution, though: allow plenty of time for navigation. You’ll frequently find yourself in the middle of nowhere, where the only sign of life is a solitary sheep which appears equally lost. Whatever you do don’t make eye contact or she’ll never leave you.

Great golf aside, there’s not a lot of activity hereabouts where the next stop west is Boston, USA. So golf tourism is a vitally important facet of the economy and the appreciative locals do a grand job in making you feel welcome. It’s a glorious bonus to outstanding golf. I once went to Connemara for two days and was trapped there for two weeks. I blamed the sheep. My expense claim took a bit of explaining but fortunately my then editor was Irish and most sympathetic.

That’s a quick Cook’s tour of golf holidays in the republic and we haven’t mentioned the K Club, venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup matches, or Mullingar, the Midland’s gem by James Braid, or Tullamore, where they lock the clubhouse doors when you go in for a post-round Guinness, or Woodenbridge, now 18 holes but a delicious nine holer when the timber clubhouse floated away after a storm prompted the river to break its banks: they say no one noticed until the Guinness ran out.

Then there’s the Mackenzie-designed Cork that’s a combination of parkland, heathland and links; and nearby Fota Island, and Rathsallagh, with its exquisite hotel, and Adare Manor, one of Ireland’s premier golf resorts with a course by Robert Trent Jones Sr. I really have had a misspent life….

Ulster’s Links and Parkland Beauties


And then there’s Ulster, up north. An indication of the quality that awaits here is that the Irish Golf Union, which commendably governs national golf without recognition of borders, has little difficulty in identifying Ireland’s number one links: they simply alternate each year between Portmarnock Old, Ballybunion, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush. Easy peasy, although the European Club is coming up fast on the rails.

That said, you’ll realise that County Down and Portrush, where Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy are members, are both in Ulster which has only 100 or so clubs. Most are parkland, and some beauties they have, too: Belvoir Park, Malone and Royal Belfast to scratch the surface. But I have fond memories of playing Royal Portrush, neighbouring Portstewart and nearby Castlerock over one glorious summer week on the Antrim coast. It’s an incomparable combination of links.

Those who prefer tournament golf on holidays would enjoy the Bushmill’s Blackbush tournament, played each June over the links of Portrush, Portstewart, Castlerock and nearby Ballycastle. It’s a 72 hole teams’ event with individual prizes too and huge fun if you like cutthroat golf. But go with a thirst you could hang your hat on and be prepared for 12-hour debates and lots of singing.

There are numerous such tournaments each year all over Ireland, staged by the regional tourist boards in conjunction with the local golf associations. They cater for all combinations of teams, male and female, pairs and fours and they don’t cut corners on the social side, either.

Or you could take the Royal Tour, playing the Royal courses of Belfast, Portrush, County Down and Dublin, where you could meet with Himself, Christy O’Connor Sr. Now there’s a blue-blooded itinerary for you.

And if none of that grabs you I’m afraid it’s back to the dart throwing.

Barry Ward is a veteran golf writer and the publisher/editor of www.posh-golf-travel.com, a guide to luxurious, family friendly golf resorts and destinations. He lives in golf-gorgeous Rutland, England.

(Photo: Courtesy of ctoverdrive, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, July 19

Ireland: The Spiritual Home of Golf

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on golf in Ireland by guest contributor Barry Ward.

By Barry Ward
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © Barry Ward. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

IF YOU HAVE THE HAND-EYE coordination to hit a barn door with a bucket of water, then I know how you can find the perfect golfing holiday destination with all the extras a chap needs: good food, friendly natives, oodles of après golf distractions and courses to make your eyes stick out like chapel hat pegs.

Here’s how. Pin a map of Ireland to the wall and throw a dart at it, then make tracks for where ever it sticks. You’re almost guaranteed to find a cluster of first-class courses with agreeable accommodation nearby, plus all the other things required to soothe the inner man.

Scotland may be the historical home of golf but Ireland is the spiritual home. The Emerald Isle has more first-rate courses, pro rata, than just about anywhere on the planet, most of them oozing history. For many years the number was static at around 230: now the figure is 440-plus and rising.

Land of McDowell, McIlroy and Clarke

Thanks to the exploits of the Irish contingent in the Ryder Cup of late, plus the success of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in the US Open and Darren Clarke’s epic victory in the recent Open Championship, the grand old game has long since overtaken horse racing, football and that other pastime enjoyed by two members of the opposite sex as the main topic of conversation in bars and clubs up and down the land. It’s become the in-game. Everyone wants to play. The architects are beside themselves.

Much of the nation’s coastline is now protected so few links are being built these days, but parkland courses continue to spring up in all corners of this green and pleasant land, much to the delight of the tourist boards, regional and national, whose work in keeping them busy with overseas visitors has become a central plank of the economy.

You’ll doubtless know of the golfing attractions of Dublin. Suffice to say that the there are 50 or so courses within easy reach of the city centre, and another 30 only half an hour further away. This may be the world’s dominant golfing city.

Numerically, only Myrtle Beach and Sydney are superior but neither has courses of comparable quality to Dublin’s. Just think of Portmarnock (Old and New), Baltray, The Island, Malahide, Royal Dublin, The Hermitage, Powerscourt, City West, Palmerston, Druids Glen, and Druids Heath, its new neighbour, another gem designed by the ubiquitous Pat Ruddy, whose links at the European Club is winning rave reviews world-wide. But that’s another story…

If your dart hits the south east corner of the country a quite different treat awaits. Bed down in the charming city of Waterford on the banks of the River Suir (you’ll be pampered to distraction at the Tower Hotel and the nearby après golf attractions would exhaust a hedonist in full fig) where a lustrous collection of parkland courses awaits your pleasure.

The region boasts of 30 courses and not for nothing is it known as the Sunshine Coast. I was there with the usual suspects in mid-October and on a couple of days we might well have been in Spain, although the club’s house wine at Waterford Castle was superior.

The Tower Hotel is convenient for Waterford Castle, Faithlegg, Tramore and Mount Juliet, and if you know of a finer collection of parkland courses you should drop me a line, post haste. There’s a good value green fee passport available, too. (see: www.irishgolftours.com)

The south west is your target?

Then your golfing holiday will become a pilgrimage as you drool over a collection of historic links in what’s known as the Ring of Kerry. Ballybunion, Tralee, Dooks and Waterville are the main attractions but there are scads of others, not least the two glorious parkland courses of the Killarney. Golf and Fishing Club, which gives a clue what awaits out there.

It’s a bit of a hike but you could fly into Shannon and the Great Southern Hotel at Killarney takes some topping, particularly since it was up-graded. And there are 20 or so cracking pubs within strolling distance on the main street. A word of caution: identifying the best pint of Guinness on offer is a local challenge not to be taken lightly.

TO BE CONCLUDED TOMORROW.

Barry Ward is a veteran golf writer and the publisher/editor of www.posh-golf-travel.com, a guide to luxurious, family friendly golf resorts and destinations. He lives in golf-gorgeous Rutland, England.

(Photo: Courtesy of ctoverdrive, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Monday, July 18

DarrenClarke.com Wanders Offline to Celebrate Open Triumph

NORTHERN IRISHMAN DARREN CLARKE IS a self-described regular guy who likes to puff on a cigarette and have a drink or two or three. Now he’s the highly improbable and popular Open champion whose head hasn’t hit the pillow since Saturday night.

“I have not been to bed yet,” Clark said at a Monday morning press conference at Royal St. George’s. “I probably won’t get any sleep until tomorrow at some stage. You have to enjoy it while you can. It’s been a very good night.”

And, like its namesake, DarrenClarke.com is a regular sort of website that enjoys its time away from the 24/7 pressures of the Internet. The site was in a celebratory mood after the final putt dropped and employer-hero Darren Clarke hoisted the cherished Claret Jug.

“Website will be back online soon,” announced DarrenClarke.com shortly after publishing the above photo of Clarke kissing the silver trophy. “Just doing some maintenance.”

Maintenance? Ha!

Sources have told ARMCHAIR GOLF that DarrenClarke.com was seen carrying on in the wee hours of Monday morning with RoryMcIlroy.com and GraemeMcDowell.com. RoryMcIlroy.com was described as the lightweight of the group. After a few drinks it slurs its links.

As far as the statement about being back online soon, don’t bet a Guinness on it. DarrenClarke.com might just party on for a month or longer.

It really wouldn’t matter much when you think about it. That homepage photo of Clarke kissing the Claret Jug pretty much says it all, don’t you agree?

−The Armchair Golfer

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

(Photo: Courtesy of DarrenClarke.com)

Saturday, July 16

Passionate Aussie Wins U.S. Hickory Open Championship




























TO SAY THAT ALAN GRIEVE has a passion for hickory clubs is an understatement. The Queensland Australian native was the first person to sign up for the United States Hickory Open Championship and traveled over 36 hours and nearly 10,000 miles to participate in the event at French Lick Resort in southern Indiana.

The trip was worth his while. The 39-year-old captured his first hickory championship this past week on the resort’s historic Donald Ross course. Grieve shot rounds of 75–75 for a total of 150 and a 5-shot victory over Rick Woeckener from Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Grieve was looking for a new challenge and found it 18 months ago when he picked up hickory clubs.

“I wanted to change my game and give myself a challenge,” Grieve said. “I love playing hickory clubs. When you hit a good shot you know you hit it. It feels so pure unlike modern-day clubs.

“I played in my first hickory tournament last year in Australia and took third place and decided I wanted to challenge myself even more, so I came to the United States to participate in their national event. I had a great week and this was the best I have ever played hickory clubs in back- to-back rounds.”

French Lick Resort was transported to the golden age of golf as the historic destination hosted the largest field for the U.S. Hickory Open Championship, a total of 81 hickory golfers from 27 states, as well as Canada and Australia. The golfers looked the part, sporting knickers, plus fours, dress shirts and ties straight from the 19th century.

“We congratulate Alan for his superb play and also French Lick Resort for hosting a perfect event,” said Chris Deinlein, President of the Society of Hickory Golfers.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of Fusion Media Strategies)

Friday, July 15

Darren Clarke Thrives Thanks to Doctor’s Remedy

Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following piece from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


DARREN CLARKE JUMPED TO ATTENTION under doctor’s orders to putt his way into contention for major glory at the 140th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. The Ulster veteran, 42, cracked five birdies for a super 68 to finish just three shots behind first-round leaders Tom Lewis and Thomas Bjorn and immediately thanked mental guru Dr Bob Rotella. Now Clarke’s second-round 68 has given him the clubhouse lead at 4 under par as play continues on Friday.

After using the blade just 28 times on Thursday, Clarke beamed: “I’ve been lucky this week and seen an old friend of mine in Bob Rotella. I haven’t seen him for quite some time and was able to catch up with him because my ball striking and tee-to-green stuff has been very good, very solid, but the putter has been poor.”

Asked what the Doc had ordered, Clarke said: “He charges me a lot of money, so I can’t tell you that. But he knows me inside out. We’ve worked together for a very long time.”

Clarke said before the start that he needed his putter to fire on all cylinders to win the Open at his 21st attempt. While he’s won three times since 2008 with his latest victory coming in Mallorca this season, his cold putter has prevented him from re-establishing himself in the world’s top 100.

Ranked 111th starting the week, he has been overshadowed in the ISM stable by major winners Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Rory McIlroy, as well as world No 2 Lee Westwood.

But Clarke showed he’s still a force to be reckoned with on links terrain as he survived some blustery early conditions and then took advantage of a drop in the wind late on Thursday afternoon.

Believing he’s got enough in the tank to keep it up, Clarke said: “I’m not that old yet, am I? I’m only 42. I still behave as if I’m 14.

“But no, I’m enjoying it. The golf course is great, fantastic. It’s the biggest and best tournament in the world. Why wouldn’t I enjoy it?”

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

(Photo: Courtesy of zrim, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Thursday, July 14

Q&A: TNT’s Jim Huber on ‘FOUR DAYS IN JULY’ (Tom Watson at 2009 Open)

TNT REPORTER AND ESSAYIST Jim Huber has penned his first golf book, FOUR DAYS IN JULY: Tom Watson, the 2009 Open Championship, and a Tournament for the Ages. Huber was at the ‘09 Open reporting for TNT, which included conducting on-camera interviews with Tom Watson as the 59-year-old golf legend came off the course. His first-person narrative of Watson’s age-defying romp at Turnberry is a delight.

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Jim a month ago at the U.S. Open. He has won the Edward R. Murrow Award for his sports writing and four Emmys for his sports reporting on Turner Sports and CNN. He recently answered my questions about FOUR DAYS IN JULY.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: You had the opportunity to cover this amazing story twice, first as it transpired in your broadcast role for TNT and then much later in book form. What were those two experiences like for you? How were they different?

JIM HUBER: The difference between covering the 2009 Open and then writing about it months later was enormous. Being there and part of it on a daily basis was its usual thrill but the impact of what was happening tended to get lost in the forest of immediacy. I was inundated by constant drama and so what Tom was doing was left for the late-evening suppers when we all gathered over fish and chips and put the pieces together. To spend the next year writing about it was a completely different exercise. I knew the outcome, knew the importance of what was happening, and so my job was to try and create a bit of theatrics, to give the story edges and corners and the chance for the reader to go “Oh, I had completely forgotten about that!” or “Geez, I didn’t know that!”

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Given the huge disappointment for the masses rooting for Tom Watson, it seemed like there couldn’t be a nicer “bad guy” than Stewart Cink. What struck you about Cink’s role in this tragedy and how Cink handled it?

JIM HUBER: Cink’s role was a curious one. He was the villain to the fans, for sure, and even to some of the writers and broadcasters who had not-so-silently cried out for the chance to document history. He handled it remarkably well, much better than most, I figure. He realized he was not going to be the lead in this drama and accepted that along with the Claret Jug with grace and a very genuine smile.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Through writing the book, what did you learn about Watson and Cink that you didn’t already know? Any surprises?

JIM HUBER: My history with Tom Watson was not a good one, quite frankly. We were never adversaries; he was simply always very cool toward me, eager to stare me down and silently admonish me for any questions he deemed silly or unworthy of him. I discovered, in writing the book, that there was a warmth there I had never seen or felt. It was mixed with equal parts pride and I just had never allowed myself—or he had never allowed me—to find that side. Cink, on the other hand, had always been warm and hospitable, generous with his time and thoughts, even when he knew the book would center around Tom and not him.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: The book does a great job of covering Watson’s longevity and ability to be competitive at nearly 60. Of all the factors, did anything stand out for you?

JIM HUBER: One of the qualities about Tom Watson—indeed about any competitor that age—was the ability to handle the enormous pressure, to simply put it aside and concentrate on the job at hand. He told me later that it wasn’t the physical ailments over the years that took the greatest toll but instead the fire inside. I had never given that much thought. He told me he wasn’t tired outside but surely was inside. Somehow, though, he overcame that until, perhaps, the putt on the 72nd hole at Turnberry when a tired Tom Watson lost a bit of focus for the first time all week and allowed that shove to return to his putting stroke.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: I really enjoyed the observations and perspective of Watson’s caddie, Neil Oxman. Did you know Oxman before the book, and how did his input help you shape the story?

JIM HUBER: I didn’t know Neil Oxman before I began writing the book. I was told he was a great guy, advised to take advantage of his intelligence and bravado. I had no idea, however, what an enormous role he would play in the compilation of the scenario. He took great delight, it seemed, in re-creation, to the point of even sending me his precious Turnberry yardage book. I had to immediately call him for a translation, for it was impossible for the average man to read or figure out, but he seemed to invest a lot of himself in the book and when I sent him a copy, he said he cried—and then ordered 40 for his clients from the political consultancy.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Do you think we’ll see something like this again, whether from Watson or someone else?

JIM HUBER:
I don’t know that we will ever see a tournament quite like this one again, with all of its inherent drama and excitement. I do think, however, someone of Watson’s age might come along and make the same kind of incredible statement—that age really doesn’t play that much of a role, especially along those grounds and in that particular tournament. We had Greg Norman in ’08 and then Watson a year later. I wouldn’t put it past a guy like Tom Lehman or Nick Price to make that kind of magic in the next few years. Guys are staying in better shape, both physically and mentally, and the Open Championship offers a vastly different avenue for those willing to invest themselves in it.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, July 13

2011 British Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes




























THE 2011 BRITISH OPEN, the 140th edition of golf’s oldest major, gets underway on Thursday at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, Kent, England. Louis Oosthuizen defends in an international field of 156 players.


Purse: $7.3 million
Winner’s share: $1,305,593
Defending champion: Louis Oosthuizen


The field
Tee times
Player profiles
Course overview
Open Championship news
The Claret Jug
Past champions
Royal St. George’s website

2011 British Open Leaderboard


TV SCHEDULE

There will be lots of live TV coverage of the 2011 British Open.

United States

Thu, July 14
ESPN 4 AM-6 PM ET

Fri, July 15
ESPN 4 AM-6 PM ET

Sat, July 16
ESPN 7 AM-2:30 PM ET

Sun, July 17
ESPN 6 AM-1:30 PM ET

United Kingdom

Thursday 14 July
BBC Two, HD, Red Button and online (0900-2000)
Highlights - BBCi (2000-2030)

Friday 15 July
BBC Two, HD, Red Button and online (0900-2000)
Highlights - BBCi 2000-2030

Saturday 16 July
BBC One, HD, Red Button and online (1000-1200)
BBC One, HD, Red Button and online (1210-1715)
BBC Two, HD, Red Button and online (1715-1900)

Sunday 17 July
BBC Two, HD, Red Button and online (1100-1245)
BBC One, HD, Red Button and online (1245-1900)

Canada

Thu, July 14
TSN 4 AM-1 AM ET

Fri, July 15
TSN 4 AM-1 AM ET

Sat, July 16
TSN 7 AM- 4 AM ET

Sun, July 17
TSN 6 AM-3 AM ET

Australia

(Australian TV times via Aussie Golfer.)

Thu, July 15
Fox Sports 6 PM-4 AM

Fri, July 16
Fox Sports 6 PM-4 AM

Sat, July 17
Fox Sports 7 PM-4 AM

Sun, July 18
Fox Sports 8 PM-4 AM


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of Richard Carter, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, July 12

The Open Makes 14th Visit to Royal St. George’s

By Landmark Media International

THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP RETURNS to Royal St. George’s Golf Club this week, the only venue in southern England for golf’s most prestigious major championship. This is the 14th occasion the historic links at Sandwich has welcomed the Open—it was the first venue outside of Scotland to host an Open, in 1894—placing Kent, known as The Garden of England, in the world golfing spotlight.

(Photo: The 1st tee, with clubhouse in background, at Royal St. George’s)


Previous winners of the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s include Greg Norman (1993), Sandy Lyle (1985) and golfing legend Walter Hagen (1922 and 1928). American Ben Curtis was the winner of the most recent Open Championship at Sandwich, in 2003.

The club has made changes to the bunkering on its 18th hole to make it more demanding for the Open Championship, as well as adding five new tees and 100 yards of length to the course.

Royal St George’s Golf Club forms part of Kent’s “Regal Golf Coast,” which includes Royal Cinque Ports (venue of the Open Championship in 1909 and 1920), Prince’s (the Open venue in 1932), Littlestone (a Final Qualifying course for the 2011 Open) and North Foreland. Overall there are more than 100 golf courses in the county, which also features modern classics such as London Golf Club (a European Tour Destination and home of the 2009 European Open) and Chart Hills (designed by Sir Nick Faldo and ranked 82nd in Golf World magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the UK and Ireland).

“In many ways, there is an argument to say the Open should come down this way slightly more often than elsewhere because we are the only one in the south,” Royal St George’s Secretary Christopher Gabbey told Kent Golf magazine. “It means a lot to the county. When the Open is in your neck of the woods, it’s terrific.”

More than 200,000 spectators are expected to descend on the Kent coast during Open week, with tens of thousands more from the UK and nearby European countries anticipated to take golf breaks in the county in the months before and after the event.

(Photo: Courtesy of Landmark Media International)

Monday, July 11

Golfweek: Evian Masters to Become 5th LPGA Major




























THERE IS A FIFTH MAJOR after all. No, it’s not the long-debated Players Championship. It’s the LPGA’s popular Evian Masters played in Paris, France, according to Golfweek:
Beginning in 2013, Evian will be designated as a major championship, the LPGA’s fifth, sources told Golfweek.

The LPGA’s number of major championships has been a moving target over the years. The tour’s current majors—Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wegmans LPGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open—have been a foursome only since 2001. Before the British Open achieved major status, the du Maurier Classic was the tour’s fourth major, from 1979 to 2000.
Golfweek also reported that the Evian Masters course will be lengthened and other changes will be implemented to make the tournament worthy of its major designation. Evian has been a mainstay on the LPGA schedule and boasts a $3.25 million purse, same as the U.S. Women’s Open.

Jiyai Shin told Golfweek Evian’s new major status created “more chances to win.”

But a veteran player and major winner who requested anonymity said, “I originally probably would be opposed to something like that.”

In other news, So Yeon Ryu won the U.S. Women’s Open in a three-hole playoff at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Ryu birdied the final hole to catch clubhouse leader Hee Kyung Seo at 3 under par. The event rolled into Monday due to numerous weather delays.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of Celso Flores, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Saturday, July 9

Family Golf Month Plus How I Got Started in the Game

JULY IS FAMILY GOLF MONTH. PGA and LPGA professionals at golf facilities around the nation are offering special events, rates and programs to families in July and throughout the summer, including:
  • Family Golf Clinics
  • Family Golf Play Days
  • Kids Play Free
  • Bring Your Kids to the Golf Range
  • Take Your Daughter to the Course Week (July 5-11)
  • Sticks for Kids
  • PGA Family Course
  • USGA-PGA Course Access (Junior Rates)
  • Other Special Programs
To find out more, visit Play Golf America Family Golf Month.

(Photo: Desert Aire Golf Course, where my family played when I was a school boy.)

My Start at Age 12

It wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say that golf was a family game during my youth. We all played, even my mom, the least avid golfer in the family. She was a nine-holes-after-supper player. She was good but expected far too much. The game frustrated her, and she put away her clubs for good in the 1970s.

My brother played in the summertime but never caught the bug like I did. The game became a consuming passion for my dad and me. A family pass was $30 a month at Desert Aire Golf Course in Palmdale, California. For less than $100 our family could play unlimited golf all summer long. And I did.

On the edge of the Mojave Desert, Desert Aire was a flat, short, 9-hole public course with few distinguishing features besides the Joshua trees that were native to the area. It was not a difficult course. Nor was it a course anyone was dying to play. But it was the course where I learned to play golf. I loved Desert Aire.

I gave up baseball for golf at the age of 12 and spent my summer days on the fairways. I sometimes rode my bike three miles on sandy trails to Desert Aire with a small carry bag slung over my shoulder. I had a little shag bag of scuffed and cut golf balls that I hit to a lone practice green. I learned to hit off hardpan because grass was scarce at Desert Aire. I pretended to be the pro golfers I watched on television. It was hot. Triple-digit heat was normal. The old-timers went off early, some at 6 a.m. My golf buddies and me played in furnace conditions during the early and mid afternoon when the course cleared out. One day I made five 9-hole loops around Desert Aire, walking 45 holes.

I never had a formal private golf lesson from our head pro “Red” Simmons or assistant pro Ron O’Connor. I did take group junior lessons. Ron refined my grip, and at some point in my junior career Red gave me a tip about the shoulder turn. (I still rely on that swing thought.)

I made the high school golf team as a freshman. I was terrible. I fit right in. Palmdale High finished eighth out of eight teams that year. I got better and our team improved to third place when I was a senior. I went on to play one year at Antelope Valley College. Because I fell in love with golf and learned to play the game at humble Desert Aire, I enjoyed the privilege of competing at private country clubs and public resort courses throughout California. I never once regretted putting down that baseball glove.

How about you? How did you get started in golf? Did your family play?

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of Desert Aire Golf Course)

Friday, July 8

The 200-Yard Lake-Skimming Gong Shot



FOUR EUROPEAN TOUR PROS and their caddies arrive at the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney. Ryder Cup veteran Paul McGinley, David Howell, Marcel Siem and Rhys Davies of the European Tour proceed to try a 200-yard lake-skimming gong shot that simply can’t be done. Or can it?

McGinley goes first, using a driver. Laughter follows.

“That’s really embarrassing,” says Howell. “Terrible.”

“PGA Tour, these guys are good,” says McGinley. “European Tour, these guys are crap.”

But McGinley keeps trying, along with the others. On one attempt, Davies actually misses the lake. Then more shots until ... well, watch and see.

Want more? See the European Tour’s every shot imaginable.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, July 7

2011 U.S. Women’s Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN teed off on Thursday at The Broadmoor (East Course) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and was halted due to weather. Cristie Kerr and amateur Amy Anderson are tied for the lead at 2 under par. Neither player has completed her round. Inbee Park and Ai Miyazato are 1 under par.

Juli Inkster finished with a 3-over 74, and, with one hole to play, Michelle Wie is 7 over par. Alexis Thompson is 5 over after 15 holes. Grouped together, defending champion Paula Creamer and four-time major winner Yani Tseng have not started play.

(Photo: Paula Creamer at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open.)

“It’s an exhausting golf course,” Creamer said on Wednesday. “It’s a long walk, lots of thinking. Definitely if you lose your mind on one shot, it’s gonna cost you big time here.”

“I feel less pressure this week than before,” Tseng said on Tuesday. “I always feel so much pressure on U.S. Open course. It’s such a tough, tough golf course. But after I see Rory McIlroy do it I feel much more relaxed. You just have got to come out here and have fun, enjoy the pressure and enjoy the big crowds.”


Purse: $3.25 million
Defending champion: Paula Creamer
Course: The Broadmoor, East Course, Par 71, 7,047 yards

2011 U.S. Women’s Open Leaderboard

Tournament preview
Final field
Pairings
Spectator guide
U.S. Women’s Open website


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open is on ESPN2 and NBC.

Thu, Jul 07
5:00-9:00 PM ET ESPN2

Fri, Jul 08
5:00-9:00 PM ET ESPN2

Sat, Jul 09
3:00-6:00 PM ET NBC

Sun, Jul 10
3:00-6:00 PM ET NBC


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: John E Kaminski, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Wednesday, July 6

Two Ping Engineers Qualify for Majors

THEY SIT NEXT TO EACH other in the engineering department of Ping headquarters in Phoenix. Now Ping engineers Marty Jertson and Mike Nicolette (pictured) will both tee it up in major championships this summer. The company said “it’s believed to be the first time two golfers who design golf clubs full time have accomplished the feat of qualifying for a major championship in the same year.”

These guys are good. They know how to design clubs—and play with them.

Jertson, a Class A PGA member, will play in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in August. He earned one of 20 invitations with his fifth-place tie at the PGA Professional National Championship. Jertson joined Ping as an intern in 2003.

Shooting a 66, Nicolette was the co-medalist at the U.S. Senior Open qualifier in Glendale, Arizona, earning one of two spots for the 50-and-over national championship to be played later this month at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Nicolette is a former PGA Tour player and winner of the 1983 Bay Hill Classic. With Ping since 1989, the 54-year-old employee recently won the Arizona Senior Open.

“Amazing,” said Ping Chairman and CEO John Solheim. “I couldn’t be happier for Marty and Mike. For one week this summer, they’ll get to put their talents up against the best in the game.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, July 5

The Quiet End of Celebrity-Named Tour Events

AS ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK, the Bob Hope Classic is now the Humana Challenge, which will be a four-round 72-hole event instead of the five-round 90-hole marathon that made the Hope unique. Celebrities certainly have their exalted place in American society, but their famous names can’t pay the multi-million dollar bills on the PGA Tour.

“The reality of it is that having celebrities’ names attached to these tournaments may have at some point driven notoriety,” David Carter, executive director of USC’s Sports Business Institute, told the Los Angeles Times, “but in this era, you need to have cash.”

Goodbye, Hope. Hello, Humana. It really was inevitable.

It’s kind of amazing that the Bob Hope Classic outlived Bob Hope as long as it did. (The comedy legend died in 2003.) The tournament’s genesis was the Palm Springs Desert Classic, which started in 1960. It became the Bob Hope Desert Classic in 1965. Billy Casper won the first Hope. It was Arnold Palmer’s last PGA Tour victory in 1973, although I’m sure 43-year-old Arnold expected to win again. From 1986 to 2008, the tournament was sponsored by Chrysler and called the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

You may remember other long-gone celeb tour events: the Crosby, Glen Campbell Los Angeles Open, Andy Williams San Diego Open, Dinah Shore Invitational, Danny Thomas Memphis Classic and Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open. Now they sound so quaint. (I guess we still have Justin Timberlake.)

Not all Hope is lost. Humana will award their tournament winner a newly created Bob Hope Trophy, so that’s good. The health-insurance company also plans to keep the Hope family involved.

I read that Bob Hope’s joke file is 85,000 scanned pages. You can bet he would crack a good one about last week’s Humana news. I have no idea what it would be, so I’ll leave you with this Hope one-liner:

“If you watch a game, it’s fun. If you play it, it’s recreation. If you work at it, it’s golf.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, July 4

Rory McIlroy Goes Back to School

WITH THE BLESSING OF his headmaster, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy left school at the age of 15 to pursue his career in golf. Recently, McIlroy, toting a large silver trophy, returned to Sullivan Upper in his hometown of Holywood, Northern Ireland. Headmaster John Stevenson must be proud.

The BBC’s Mark Simpson, also a former Sullivan Upper pupil, sat down with RMac for some light-hearted banter about school days and more.

First shocker: young Rory’s favorite subject was P.E. (Ha ha.) His least favorite subject was English Literature.

“All I wanted to do was play golf,” he said.

Lunches?

“A panini every day. That was me.”

The hair used to be shorter, he admitted, when mum and dad had their say.

And his favorite teacher?

“They were all great,” Rory said.

Of course they were. The charmer. The media are putty in his hands.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Titleist.com)

Saturday, July 2

The Real Marshals of the Dubai World Championship


























NO, IT’S NOT A REALITY TV show. The people pictured above with champion Robert Karlsson (wearing red shirt, white cap and, I believe, holding a scepter) are real volunteer marshals at last year’s Dubai World Championship.

Question: Why is the fellow on the far right holding up his “QUIET” sign? Doesn’t he know The Race to Dubai is over?

The European Tour is looking to round up volunteer marshals for this year’s Dubai World Championship to be played on December 8-11 at the Earth Course (Jumeirah Golf Estates) in Dubai. Of course, it’s the concluding tournament of The Race to Dubai (a series of 50 tournaments in 29 golf destinations) and a great opportunity to see and be alongside Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Karlsson and many other European Tour pros.

Jenni Hoskins, a 17 handicapper and member of Emirates Golf Club and Bearwood Lakes in England, has been appointed Chief Marshal of the volunteer marshal operation, which last year numbered more than 300 from Dubai, the UAE, the gulf region and overseas. Marshal perks include clothing, caps, tournament passes, parking and invitations to 200 volunteers for an appreciation day with a round of golf on the Earth Course.

To learn more about marshalling in Dubai, email Hoskins at jennih51@yahoo.com.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Dubai World Championship via Alan Ewens)

Friday, July 1

‘TEE IT FORWARD’: Joint PGA-USGA Initiative Begins July 5th

By PGA of America

“TEE IT FORWARD,” A NEW national initiative to help golfers have more fun on the golf course by playing from a set of tees best suited to their abilities, kicks off on Tuesday, July 5, at golf facilities nationwide.

Launched in May at the Senior PGA Championship, the new initiative encourages all golfers to play the course at a length that matches their average driving distance. Golfers can enjoy the game more and potentially speed up play by using tees that offer greater playability.

“We are excited that TEE IT FORWARD has been enthusiastically received by both PGA Professionals and consumers,” said PGA President Allen Wronowski. “The PGA would like to thank the USGA and Barney Adams, founder of Adams Golf, for their efforts in helping generate the tremendous interest in TEE IT FORWARD.”

Through TEE IT FORWARD, amateur golfers can play a golf course at the same relative 18-hole yardage as a tour professional. Golfers tee off from distances that are aligned with their abilities, resulting in fewer shots, shorter distances traveled on each hole, and, potentially, fewer lost balls.

The PGA and USGA are providing TEE IT FORWARD information, including a suggested distance chart, to more than 11,000 U.S. facilities. Jack Nicklaus, Paula Creamer and Dustin Johnson are featured on the poster.

To see a chart that provides guidelines for aligning driving distance with total course length, visit PlayGolfAmerica.com/TEEITFORWARD.

TEE IT FORWARD Feedback and Sweepstakes

Golfers who TEE IT FORWARD are encouraged to provide feedback about their experience at PlayGolfAmerica.com/TEEITFORWARD.

A sweepstakes will be conducted of all eligible persons who submit their comments prior to July 17, 2011. One Grand Prize winner will receive a stay-and-play package for four at Kiawah Island (South Carolina) Golf Resort. One runner-up will receive two tickets to the 2012 U.S. Open Championship. A second runner-up will receive two tickets to the 2012 PGA Championship.