Thursday, March 31

Captain Annika



ANNIKA SORENSTAM WAS NAMED CAPTAIN of the 2017 European Solheim Cup team on Wednesday.

"It's an absolute honor to be named the 2017 European Solheim Cup team captain," Sorenstam said. "The Solheim Cup was a very important component of my playing career and I've enjoyed working as a vice captain the past three Cups to prepare for this opportunity.  The event has really grown over the last decade and we look forward to representing Europe in Des Moines, a tremendous golf market."

Sorenstam was a unanimous choice of the selection panel, which included the last three European Solheim Cup captains: Alison Nicholas, Liselotte Neumann and Carin Koch.

Sorenstam, of course, was one of the most dominant players in the history of golf, both men and women. She won 89 tournaments worldwide, including 10 majors. Annika also racked up 24 points in eight Solheim Cup appearances and won a record 22 matches (tied with Laura Davies).

Sorenstam and her European squad will aim for a sixth Solheim Cup victory when the matches are played at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in August 2017.

Wednesday, March 30

First Major: Brittany Lincicome Defends in the Desert

By Golf Channel Communications

The LPGA Tour stages the first major of 2016 beginning Thursday, with the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Golf Channel will showcase the elite field live and in primetime, Thursday-Sunday, with Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis headlining the field.

Lincicome defends: Brittany Lincicome outlasted Stacy Lewis with a par on the third playoff hole for her second career major championship win.

In the field: Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Sei Young Kim, Ha Na Jang, Brooke Henderson, Amy Yang, In Gee Chun, Shanshan Feng and So Yeon Ryu.

ANA INSPIRATION
Dates: March 31-April 3
Venue: Mission Hills Country Club (Dinah Shore Tournament Course), Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         Noon-4 p.m. ; 7-9 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-3:30 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              Noon-4 p.m. ; 7-9 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-5:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          5-9 p.m. (Live) / Midnight-4 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            5-9 p.m. (Live) / 1-5 a.m. (Monday replay)

Golf Channel Broadcast Team:
Play by Play: Terry Gannon
Analyst: Judy Rankin / Annika Sorenstam
Tower: Tom Abbott                            
On-Course: Jerry Foltz / Karen Stupples / Jim Gallagher Jr.
Interviews: Lisa Cornwell

Notes

The tournament, which was first held in 1972, has been played as a major since 1983.

On Wednesday, Golf Channel will air a special news conference show from 1:30-3 p.m. ET. Within the show (beginning at 2 p.m. ET), the Ladies European Tour (LET) will name the 2017 European Solheim Cup captain. The remainder of the show will focus on pre-tournament player news conferences from the ANA Inspiration, featuring defending champion Brittany Lincicome, and Stacy Lewis.

Following the conclusion of the ANA Inspiration, the top eight countries will be determined for this summer's International Crown competition. The field of eight countries represented in the event will be decided on Monday, April 4, based on the combined world ranking of the current top-four players from each country. However, the players competing in the competition will not be finalized until Monday, June 13.

Tuesday, March 29

Louis Oosthuizen: Using 14 Clubs and 1 Mattress

SOME PEOPLE TRAVEL WITH A FAVORITE pillow. Louis Oosthuizen travels with his favorite mattress. No, really.

Louis Oosthuizen
This item from GolfChannel.com's Ryan Lavner:
Tired of dealing with hotel beds that are either too firm or too soft for his liking, Oosthuizen gets his own mattress loaded onto an equipment truck and dropped off at his hotel each week on Tour. 
"Some weeks I use it, some weeks I don't," he said after losing, 5 and 4, to Jason Day in the WGC-Dell Match Play final. "If there's a mattress at the hotel that I’m not comfortable with, I'll use my mattress."
Pillows are relatively small, whereas mattresses are large and unwieldy. You can't put one in a bag or carry it under your arm. But that's not Louis's concern; it's his manager's problem.

"It's a piece of cake,” Louis Martin of International Sports Management said, laughing. "But if it makes him play better, I'm happy to do it."

Despite all of the conditioning -- including special exercise and golf equipment -- and despite all of the athleticism and strength of modern tour professionals, backs continue to take an inordinate amount of abuse and are often highlighted in golf news.

Does this suggest inherent flaws in the modern golf swing?

Beyond Tiger Woods and his well-documented injuries, I haven't thought a lot about it. But I'm thinking about it now. And I expect Brandel Chamblee has plenty to say on the subject.

Monday, March 28

WGC-Dell Match Play: Same Day, Different Week



JASON DAY COLLECTED ANOTHER TROPHY at the WGC-Dell Match Play in Austin, making it consecutive wins in consecutive weeks. Day dispatched Louis Oosthuizen 5 and 4 in the final, and is again on top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

"It's been an amazing week," Day told Golf Channel's Steve Sands. "I've really enjoyed this golf course. I've been able to not only utilize the great short game that I've had from last week to this week, but to be able to play the way I did from tee to green and then on top of it make tough matches and hit the clutch shots, it's been really fantastic."

Day certainly looks and sounds like a very confident golfer at the moment. And to think he almost dropped out early in the week.

"It was fifty-fifty when I woke up that morning on Thursday and was hitting balls on the range," Day said. "Everyone was standing behind me wondering if I was going to tee it up… As things went on… slowly the back got better and better. But the amount of therapy that I did this week was a lot. But very pleased with how it recovered so quickly."

Day also certainly looks like the Masters favorite, but he might not want to hear that. He has more work to do.

"One thing that I need to focus on is I can't really get too complacent with how I’m playing," he said. "I need to focus on the little things that make me great and really just go into Augusta and prep the exact same way that I always have in the past. And really try and focus on hitting it and executing the shots when I get there, and hopefully the rest takes care of itself."

Not surprisingly, the broadcast team was praising Day. Peter Jacobsen may have said it best.

"What impresses me about Jason Day is that he's a no excuses kind of guy," Jacobsen said. "He's been through a lot in his life, emotionally and now physically… This guy's just tough. It's impressive."

Jacobsen is right. Those are the qualities that make champions.

Day is supremely talented. But he is also a super hard worker. If he stays healthy and dedicated, he should win more majors.

Friday, March 25

Oops! Armchair Golf Misquotes Norman Mailer

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.

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

Thursday, March 24

Nick Watney: 'I've Never Had to Sit Out This Long ... It Stinks'

BACKS SURE ARE A PROBLEM on the circuit: Tiger Woods, Jason Day and, in case you haven't heard, Nick Watney.

According to an AP story by Doug Ferguson, Watney is out for the season due to a herniated disc in his lower back. He took a month off and thought he'd return for the Florida Swing, but the back isn't getting better.

''I just don't want it to turn into a chronic thing and have it every few years,'' he told Ferguson.

''I'm rehabbing. But I don't want to have surgery, and that's part of the reason I'm going to take the year off. I just want to rehab and get everything sorted out."

He added: ''I've never had to sit out this long, and so it stinks.''

The story tells how Watney is hanging around the house, changing diapers and watching basketball. It's starting to get to him, and he planned to visit the WGC-Dell Match Play this week to catch up with friends like Bill Haas.

Watney is 34, which is hard to believe. It seems like it was just yesterday that he was a young gun and considered to be one of the game's next stars. He has five PGA Tour wins. His best finish in a major was a seventh in the 2010 Masters.

On a personal note, I spent time with Nick Watney on a Pebble Beach outing in 2012. It included dinner at Clint Eastwood's restaurant in Carmel. Peter Jacobsen was also there. You would be hard-pressed to meet a nicer, more unassuming tour pro than Watney.

Related:
Dinner with Peter Jacobsen and Nick Watney

Wednesday, March 23

Golf on TV: WGC-Dell Match Play, Kia Classic, Puerto Rico Open



(The following edited content was supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.)

PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR shifts to Texas for the World Golf Championships Dell Match Play, with an elite field of 64 players competing in a round robin format (Wednesday-Friday) before narrowing to the single elimination round of 16 on Saturday with the conclusion scheduled for Sunday.

WGC-Dell Match Play
Dates: March 23-27
Venue: Austin Country Club, Austin, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     2-8 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Thursday         2-8 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-4:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              2-8 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-4:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Live) / 1-5 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Live) / 1-5 a.m. (Monday replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday          2-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            3-7 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Event format: The 64-man field will be assigned through the live bracket draw and divided into 16 four-player groups, competing in three round robin matches Wednesday-FridayOn Friday, the player in each group with the most points (1 point for a win, ½ point for a halved match) advances to single elimination match play with the Round of 16 and quarterfinals scheduled for Saturday and the semifinals and finals scheduled for Sunday. Each player in the field is guaranteed to play at least three matches. The top-16 seeded players are assigned to Group A, while their respective opponents in their assigned four-man group will be determined through a blind draw during the bracket special on Monday night. The remaining 48 players outside of Group A have been divided into three separate groups (via Official World Golf Ranking): seeds 17-32 in Group B, seeds 33-48 in Group C, and seeds 49-64 in Group D.

McIlroy defends: Rory McIlroy defeated Gary Woodland 3&2 in the finals at TPC Harding Park last year for his 10th career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Danny Willett and Branden Grace.

* * *

LPGA TOUR

The LPGA Tour will tee it up this week at the Kia Classic in southern California for a final tune-up before next week’s ANA Inspiration, the first major championship of 2016. Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis are in the field.

Kia Classic
Dates: March 24-27                                                                    
Venue: Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club, Carlsbad, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         8-10 p.m. (Tape delay) / 7-9 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Friday              8-10 p.m. (Tape delay) / 7-9 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday          6-9 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            6-9 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Kerr defends: Cristie Kerr finished two strokes ahead or Mirim Lee for her 17th LPGA Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Sei Young Kim, Ha Na Jang, Brooke Henderson, Shanshan Feng, Hyo Joo Kim, Suzann Pettersen and Cristie Kerr.

* * *

PGA TOUR

Puerto Rico Open
Dates: March 24-27                                                                    
Venue: Coco Beach Golf & Country Club (Championship Course), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday              10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          9 p.m.-Midnight (Tape delay) / 2-5 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Sunday            9 p.m.-Midnight (Tape delay) / 2-5 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)

Broadcast Notes

Cejka defends: Alex Cejka held off Sam Saunders, Emiliano Grillo, Jon Curran and Tim Petrovic with a birdie on the first playoff hole for his first career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Luke Donald, Tony Finau, Retief Goosen, John Daly, Patrick Rodgers, Peter Malnati, George Coetzee, Trevor Immelman, David Toms and Sam Saunders.

Tuesday, March 22

The Best Golf Lodging You've Never Heard Of

This is another installment about Oster Golfer Houses. Read Part 1.

RICK OSTER WAS INSPIRED BY A GOLF TRIP to Bandon Dunes on the Oregon coast about a decade ago – and not just by the amazing landscape and golf experience.

"We stayed in the $1,600 per night cottages and that's when I had the idea," Rick says. "I thought I could build a place twice as big and charge half as much, and that’s what I did."

Today, Rick is the owner of Oster Golf Houses, which are located on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama. One house is a very short distance from Oxmoor Valley in Birmingham and two additional Oster homes sit side-by-side at Capitol Hill in Prattville.

What's it like to stay at an Oster Golf House? A five-star experience say virtually all of his guests. (Actually, one guest said, "Five stars is not enough!")

"We could not have asked for a nicer and more accommodating home for our trip," Lee said about the Birmingham house.

That's evident as soon as you walk in the door (keyless entry). Each Oster Golf House has an open floor plan that includes a great room with a 60-inch plasma TV, a dining/poker table that seats eight and, nearby, a billiard room with a championship Brunswick table.


"The house is perfectly arranged for four couples or, as in our case, eight guys looking for a place to hang out," commented Frank from Northern California. "Great kitchen and dining room with everything you need to cook in. We used the barbeque several times, and during the evening sat out on the screened porch for a cool evening overlooking the golf course."

Whether you want to cook or would rather use a personal chef (additional service), the kitchen is fully equipped with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, an island with prep sink, wall ovens, a microwave and two large refrigerators with freezers.

"The house is exactly as advertised – HUGE!" Anne wrote after a golf trip that included a dozen ladies. "Four masters, each with two queens and adjoining bathrooms."

Each master suite has plush mattresses atop the two queen-sized beds, a 42-inch plasma TV and an iPod docking station for listening enjoyment. The adjoining bathroom features a walk-in shower appointed with designer tile and a large vanity with two sinks and a granite countertop.

"The house lived up to every expectation," noted Herb. "It was in great shape and served our needs perfectly. We enjoyed it so much over the four days we never went out for a meal."

Would it live up to your expectations? Take a look and see what you think.

Preview the Birmingham House

Comfortably accommodating eight people, the Birmingham house is situated on the 10th fairway at Oxmoor Valley, just 175 yards from the clubhouse. Built in 2011, this Oster Golf House is designed for comfort, fun and relaxation – "pampering" guests, as Rick Oster likes to say. Explore the floor plan, amenities, rates and reviews, plus view images and take a video tour.

Sponsored by Oster Golf Houses.

Monday, March 21

Day Leapfrogs McIlroy After Palmer Triumph

By Brian Keogh

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 excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.


Golf news from Brian Keogh's
Irish Golf Desk.
JASON DAY SNATCHED THE ARNOLD PALMER Invitational at Bay Hill to take over from Rory McIlroy as world No 2 and underline his credentials as a major contender for Masters glory.

As Rory McIlroy closed with a spectacular 65 to prove his game is not far away as Augusta National approaches, Day brilliantly birdied the 17th to take the lead and then got up and down from sand at the last, holing a clutch four footer for a 70 and a one shot win over Kevin Chappell on 17 under par.

"This is a really rewarding win for me," Day said. "To be able to get in the house and make the par on the last was very satisfying."

It was the eighth PGA Tour win of Day's career, the fifth in his last 12 starts and his third since he captured the US PGA at Whistling Straits last year. It also ended all doubts about his form.

"It does a lot of confidence for me knowing that everyone was asking what's wrong, what's going on, why aren't you playing well? I just kept on saying to myself, kept on saying to the people, the fans, the media, just be patient, I'm just going through the process and I'm going to keep working hard. Things take time. It happened this week. I'm just happy that I won."

Two ahead of Chappell, Henrik Stenson and Troy Merritt starting the day, he made three birdies and two bogeys in his first six holes before a tap in birdie after a towering approach to the ninth gave him a share of the lead heading into the back nine.

Merritt birdied the first five holes coming home to get within one of Day, Chappell and Stenson with four to play. But playing alongside Day and convinced he needed a birdie, he ended up finding water and taking six at the last for a 71 to finish fourth on 14 under alongside the Swede, who bogeyed the 14th and 16th for a 71.

Seeking his maiden win, Chappell had birdied the 13th and 16th to lead by one from Day and Merritt on 17 under. But he drove into the right rough at the 18th and bogeyed for a 69 that left him to settle for solo second on 16 under.

Day was far from his best but he hit a towering, 222-yard tee shot to 12 feet at the par-three 17th and poured in the putt to snatch the lead and then got up and down from the left green side trap at the last to take victory.

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

Friday, March 18

Spieth Goes With Spoon, PGA Ends Slam


JORDAN SPIETH AND CADDIE MICHAEL GRELLER star in the above "This Is Sportscenter" spot. According to Jason Sobel, it was real mac and cheese and Spieth "really ate a mouthful of it with every single take."

In other news, the PGA of America has discontinued the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, an annual 36-hole event with a very exclusive field -- the winners of golf's four majors. Here's what they said:
After carefully evaluating the PGA Grand Slam of Golf over the past few years and studying how this event fits with today's golf landscape and the PGA of America's long term strategic plan, the PGA has decided to discontinue the event. 
When the PGA Grand Slam of Golf was launched in 1979, the golf world was much different than it is today. The PGA Tour's wrap-around schedule, the European Tour's Race to Dubai, plus other important international events, make the fall schedule very busy and hectic for the top players in the world. 
It had also become challenging to attract fans, television viewership and media interest. While we have enjoyed staging the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, given those many factors, the timing is right to discontinue the event.

Thursday, March 17

Golf on TV: Arnold Palmer Invitational, JTBC Founders Cup, Tucson Conquistadores Classic, Hero Indian Open


(The following edited content was supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.)

PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR concludes its Florida Swing this week with the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard in Orlando.

Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
Dates: March 17-20
Venue: Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         2-6 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              2-6 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday          2:30-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            2:30-6 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Every defends: Matt Every finished one stroke clear of Henrik Stenson to successfully defend his 2014 title for his second career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau (a), Ernie Els and Maverick McNealy (a).

* * *

LPGA TOUR

The LPGA Tour returns to the United States this week with the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix, with eight of the top-10 in the world in the field, including World No. 1 Lydia Ko. 

JTBC Founders Cup
Dates: March 17-20                                                                    
Venue: Wildfire Golf Club, Phoenix, Ariz.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         6-9 p.m. (Live)
Friday              6-8 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          7-9 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            7-9 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Kim defends: Hyo Joo Kim won by three strokes over Stacy Lewis for her second career LPGA Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Ha Na Jang, Amy Yang, Sei Young Kim, Shanshan Feng, Brooke Henderson, So Yeon Ryu, Hyo Joo Kim and Suzann Pettersen.

* * *

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

Tucson Conquistadores Classic
Dates: March 18-20
Venue: Omni Tucson National Resort (Catalina Course), Tucson, Ariz.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              8-10 p.m. (Tape delay) / 6-8 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday          5-7 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            5-7 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Monday replay)

Broadcast Notes

Dawson defends: Marco Dawson finished two shots ahead of Bart Bryant for his first career PGA TOUR Champions win.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Jeff Maggert, Tom Lehman, Mark O’Meara, Corey Pavin, Kirk Triplett, Jeff Sluman, John Cook, Todd Hamilton and Lee Janzen.

* * *

EUROPEAN TOUR / ASIAN TOUR

Hero Indian Open
Dates: March 17-20
Venue: Delhi Golf Club (Lodhi Course), New Delhi, India

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Friday              5-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Saturday          6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday            6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)

Broadcast Notes

Lahiri defends: Anirban Lahiri defeated fellow countryman S.S.P. Chawrasia with a birdie on the first playoff hole to win his national open championship and earn his second career European Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Anirban Lahiri, Padraig Harrington, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Dunne, Marcus Fraser, Joost Luiten, Peter Uihlein, Marcel Siem, Scott Hend and Arjun Atwal.

Wednesday, March 16

Arnold's Week 'One More Time'

ARNOLD PALMER DOESN'T LOOK WELL. I've seen a few recent snaps of him and it's worrying. His tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, starts tomorrow at Bay Hill. Palmer will be around, but he's not up for his usual media conference or holding court in any other public way.

Back in the day: the Palmer finish.
In addition, when the Masters is played in a few weeks, Arnie won't hit a ceremonial tee shot alongside pals Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, although he does plan to attend the tournament and Champions Dinner. That's sad. Golf's greatest ambassador is fading from view.

Ron Green Jr. penned a fine column on "The King" in the current edition of Global Golf Post titled "Hat's Off To Arnie." Here's a snippet:
This week is the PGA Tour's moment with Palmer. It could be just another stop on a 47-event schedule but this is the only Tour event with a living legend's name on it. He loves Bay Hill, having found it in the late 1960s, and he turned it into his second home, a winter retreat from Latrobe, Pa. 
It's where he's kept a relatively small condominium just a short walk from the lodge and if you were around the neighborhood when the tournament wasn't in town, you might have seen Palmer out for a walk with his dog, Mulligan. 
It wasn't long ago that Mulligan passed away. 
Nothing lasts forever. Not even Arnold Palmer.
This is his week. One more time.
Read Green's column.

Tuesday, March 15

Introducing 'Par 3 Near Me' Plus My Interview

PAR 3 NEAR ME (located at Par3NearMe.com) is a par-3 directory founded by Josh Waldron, who runs a par-3 golf course in Waynesboro, Virginia, not far from where I live.

Josh says, "I launched Par 3 Near Me in late 2015. The site was born out of a vision to help push more traffic to smaller golf courses, as I believe they offer a number of advantages to beginners, professionals, families, ladies, seniors, and those who have time or budget limitations."

Josh reached out and interviewed me a few weeks ago. Read the interview here.

Here's an excerpt:
Q: I know you're a busy guy. Thanks for making time for this interview. I want to start by asking you how you became connected to the game of golf. What's your golf story? 
Neil: I started playing when I was about 12, not long after we moved to California from Indiana. My dad was a golfer. I tagged along and got the bug. When I was a ninth grader, I went out for the high school golf team. We were terrible, but got better. I played all four years. I spent much of my summers playing golf at our local 9-hole course. 
Q: You've been managing the Armchair Golf Blog since 2005. In just over ten years, you've contributed nearly 3,000 golf posts, which is quite impressive. How do you find the time and energy to post so regularly? What are your favorite golf topics to write about? 
Neil: Two things help me keep the blog going. One, I'm self-employed, so I have a lot of freedom to manage my schedule. Two, I'm a writer, professionally. I think that makes it a bit easier to write and edit content. It's what I do. My favorite topics are writing about players, tournaments and golf history. I also enjoy the occasional oddball story.
I hope to meet Josh this spring or summer and play his par-3 course, along with my brother and 89-year-old father.

Monday, March 14

Charl Schwartzel: 'You're Just Surviving'



IT TOOK A WHILE, BUT SOUTH AFRICAN Charl Schwartzel has now picked up his second PGA Tour title by winning the Valspar Championship on the brutal Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort. Charl's playoff victory came at the expense of Bill Haas, who led all the way on Sunday until he slipped into a tie at 7-under at the end of regulation.

Schwartzel, of course, won the 2011 Masters with one of the best finishes I've ever seen in a major. Maybe the best, period. For the record, the finish was 4-2-3-3 (four consecutive birdies for a 66). He has won in Europe, South Africa and Asia since then, but hadn't made much noise in America until yesterday.

"I think everyone's goal going out was basically just to keep bogeys off the card," Schwartzel told Golf Channel's Steve Sands after carding a 67. "You're just surviving. … It was really difficult with the wind gusting."

Knowing an opportunity slipped through his fingers, Haas (72) was gracious in defeat.

"Charl had the mentality of needing to shoot a good score," Haas said, "and he did, and that was a hard thing to do. I had the mentality, 'If I shoot even par, I win.' Pars were kind of good. ... I won't beat myself up too bad. I've got to give Charl credit."

Playing alongside World No. 1 Jordan Spieth in the final round, University of Georgia golfer Lee McCoy posted the best PGA Tour finish (fourth) by an amateur in a very long time.

"Surreal to say the least," McCoy told Sands about the experience.

"I've always dreamt of just getting a tee time here on Thursday [at this event]. Being in contention on Sunday playing with the No. 1 player in the world was something that never crossed my mind. I really had to pinch myself a few times today... It's really incredible to see a guy in [Jordan Spieth's] position have so much class. At the end of the day I'm still just a little college [amateur] scrub just playing out here with these guys trying to fit in. But he had nothing but great things to say and treated me like I belonged out here and it was pretty cool."

Quite a "scrub," I'd say. These college kids are fearless. McCoy even made 22-year-old Spieth look a little bit old. Ha!

Friday, March 11

Jason Dufner Takes BP With Toronto Blue Jays

A video posted by Jason Dufner (@j_duf142411) on


IT'S ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA to have a backup plan. PGA Tour player Jason Dufner took some cuts in the batting cage with the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday. Duf is also playing in the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course.

And if things don't work out for Jason on the golf course ... well, I think he should still keep swinging for the fairways instead of the fences.

Thursday, March 10

Golf on TV: Valspar Championship and True Thailand Classic



(The following edited content was supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.)

PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR stages the third leg of its Florida Swing as World No. 1 Jordan Spieth is set to defend his 2015 title at the Valspar Championship outside of Tampa. Golf Channel and NBC will televise the event – the third in a series of six consecutive weeks of exclusive NBC Sports Group live tournament coverage of the PGA TOUR leading up to the Masters in April.

Valspar Championship
Dates: March 10-13
Venue: Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club (Copperhead Course), Palm Harbor, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-10 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              3-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-10 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-3 p.m. (Live) / 7 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Sunday            1-3 p.m. (Live) / 7 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday          3-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Spieth defends: Jordan Spieth defeated Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair on the third playoff hole to earn his second PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Patrick Reed, Danny Willett, Ernie Els, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Justin Thomas and Martin Kaymer.

* * *

EUROPEAN TOUR

True Thailand Classic
Dates: March 10-13
Venue: Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin, Thailand

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday/Thursday             11 p.m.-1 a.m. & 3-6 a.m. (Live) / 6-10 a.m. (Replay)
Friday                                      1-3 a.m. (Tape delay) & 3-6 a.m. (Live) / 6-10 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday                                  6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday                                    6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)

Broadcast Notes

Dodt defends: Andrew Dodt outlasted Scott Hend and Thongchai Jaidee by one stroke for his second career European Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Kristoffer Broberg, Thomas Pieters, Marcel Siem, Peter Uihlein and Alexander Levy.

Losing Money on the Golf Course — to a Fox


This gives new meaning to losing money on the golf course. There must be a lesson in this. I'm sure of it.

Wednesday, March 9

New Golf Books: Olympic Lyon, 18 Holes With Bing, Golf Sense and The Anatomy of Greatness

Spring is almost here, and so are new golf books. The following book descriptions are from the publishers. They are not my reviews.

Olympic Lyon

(Publishes April 7, 2016) In Olympic Lyon, Michael Cochrane recounts the story of Canada's little-known golf legend, George Lyon, and his incredible journey from small-town Ontario to the final match of the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis. At age thirty-seven, the fire insurance salesman and natural athlete from Toronto picked up a golf club for the first time. Just a few years later, he faced the world's best golfers—men half his age—in a grueling week of competition for the ultimate prize: the first Olympic gold medal for golf and a magnificent Championship Trophy.

Meticulously researched and wildly entertaining, Olympic Lyon chronicles Lyon's remarkable career and the sudden rise in popularity of golf in North America, weaving the story through momentous events such as the War of 1812, the Louis Riel Rebellion, the St. Louis World's Fair, and the Great Fire of Toronto, to restore the memory of Canada’s first and only Olympic Golf champion.

18 Holes with Bing

(Publishes May 3, 2016) In this love letter to his father, former professional golfer Nathaniel Crosby shares memories of Bing Crosby on the golf course, and the lessons he taught him about the game and about life. With a Foreword by Jack Nicklaus.

In 18 Holes with Bing, Nathaniel introduces us to the Bing Crosby he and his family knew—not the beloved singer who played golf, but a golfer who sang to pay his country club dues. Nathaniel shares exclusive stories about this American icon golfing, working, and playing with some of the most famous people in history—royalty, titans of industry, stars of stage and screen, and champions of the green, including Bob Hope, Dwight Eisenhower, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Louis Armstrong. At the book's heart is an intimate account of a father and a son—how a mutual love of golf formed an exceptional emotional bond.

Golf Sense

You've just played two great shots to get onto the green.... and then fluffed the easiest of putts! How did that happen? Surprisingly it has little to do with your ability. It comes down to something you may never have considered; it's habit. Habits can make you do things you really didn't want to do, yet most golfers remain unaware of their influence.

The innovative techniques in Golf Sense (by Roy Palmer) will help you get into "The Zone" to break through the performance limiting habits  holding you back and let you take greater control over your game. You'll learn how to:

1) eradicate those annoying mistakes
2) increase your distance by using less effort
3) improve accuracy by not trying
4) simplify your golf

You can do all this once you get into The Zone, the ultimate state in which to play at your peak–and take your game to levels beyond your expectations.

The Anatomy of Greatness (Brandel Chamblee)

(Publishes March 29, 2016) In the first book from popular Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, the network’s “resident scholar and critic” (The New York Times) explores the common swing positions of the greatest players throughout history—and reveals how those commonalities can help players of every skill level improve our own games.

Every golf game begins with the swing, and no two are identical. Years ago, however, Brandel Chamblee, the highly regarded Golf Channel analyst and former PGA Tour professional, noticed that the best players of all time have shared similar positions in each part of the swing, from the grip and setup to the footwork, backswing, and follow-through. Since then, Chamblee, a student of game’s history, has used scientific precision and thoroughness to make a study of the common swing positions of the greats. Now, in The Anatomy of Greatness, he reveals what he has learned, offers hundreds of photographs as his proof, to show us how we can easily incorporate his findings into our own swings to hit the ball farther, straighter, and more consistently.

Tuesday, March 8

Slaying the Dragon of Golf Snobbery

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

LAST YEAR THE ROYAL AND ANCIENT Golf Club of St. Andrews allowed women to join for the first time in its 262-year history. Not only that, but since 2012 women are accepted as members of Augusta National, even African-Americans!

Yes, times are changin' in clubs.

The Midlothian Incident

There are, however, other key moments of social progress in the long history of the  game. One early historic moment came in 1914 and has forever been known as the "Midlothian Incident." It involved the famous and flamboyant Walter Hagen and the country club where I caddied as a kid.

Hagan was then a 21-year-old professional at the Country Club of Rochester. He had played his first Open at Brookline the year before and flamed out on the final hole where amateur, and former caddie Francis Ouimet, went onto win the 1913 U.S. Open in a playoff.

The stately Midlothian clubhouse
In July of 1914, a month before the U.S. Open was scheduled at Midlothian Country Club on the South Side of Chicago, one of the Rochester members, Ernest Willard, who owned the Democrat and Chronicle newspapers, offered to underwrite Walter's trip to  Chicago, based on how well Hagen had played the year before at Brookline and over the winter months down in Florida.

Hagen had gone south that winter -- yes, to play golf -- but also to have a tryout with the Philadelphia Nationals (later renamed the Phillies). Hagen loved baseball more than golf, and playing professional baseball at that time was more lucrative than golf. While he wasn't signed by the Nationals, he was invited back, especially because Hagen was a rarity in that he could pitch and hit from both sides of the plate. And, at the time, he was unsure if his future was with golf. 

Why he finally decided against baseball was the fact that he would be playing on a team. "To be perfect frank," he wrote in his life story, "I wanted to play my own game in my own way, and take my drubbings or win my victories all by myself…..while I was a better ballplayer than I was a golfer. It was individualism got me, I suppose."

In the summer of '14, still undecided about a professional career, he decided to go to the Midwest for the first time in his young life. He and a friend, also being paid for by Ernest Willard, took the train to Chicago, and stayed at the Great Northern Hotel. They then took the old South Shore Railroad out to Blue Island, the closest railway stop to Midlothian Country Club.

At the time Midlothian Country Club, as was the rule with most private clubs, did not allow golf professionals inside the clubhouse. Pros were generally perceived as "crude, unsophisticated, and subservient," as Stephen R. Lowe writes in his book, Sir Walter and Mr. Jones.

When Hagen arrived at Midlothian, he found the pros "grumbling about their accommodations." There were only a few pegs to hang their clothes on in another building. Such conditions were not unusual for most professionals. Home pros were used to comfortable, if still second-class, treatment at their clubs. But "unkempt restrooms and pegs on the wall at Midlothian," seemed degrading for a U.S. Open.

Faced with that situation, and having packed his best golf outfit, Hagen walked directly into the clubhouse locker room and changed there, not caring about any restrictions.

By doing so, writes Lowe, "it violated the USGA's ruling….In later years the whole episode -- the treatment of the professionals, Hagen's entry into the locker room, and the debate that followed -- became known as the 'Midlothian Incident.'"

The reaction and press following the Midlothian Incident resulted in the equal accommodations for professional players from then on.

Yes, the times were a changin' for golf. But not everywhere, and not for Walter Hagen.

The British Open and Class Snobbery

In 1920 when Walter Hagen went to play at Deal in his first British Open, the club secretary directed him, as well as the other pros, to the pro shop where there were "a few nails allotted" to use to hang their clothes. While the other players condescended to the offer, Hagen would not. 

Charles Bartlett in Professional Golfer writes how Hagen, who had rented an Austin-Daimler limousine for his time in England, changed into his golf shoes in the back seat of the limo as well as ate his lunch alone in his chauffeured car.

Hagen, however, wasn't done with English class snobbery.

After the 1928 Open, Hagen stayed in Great Britain at the invitation of the Prince of Wales to play a few rounds of golf with the future King of England. Playing a round at Royal St. George's Club, the Prince and Hagen entered the clubhouse for lunch.

Tom Clavin relates in his book on Hagen, Sir Walter, that when the prince and Hagen weren't seated, the prince summed the club's secretary who explained that a golf professional was not allowed into a British clubhouse, let alone to dine there. Hagen offered to leave so as not to cause the prince embarrassment.

"You stay right where you are," the future king said. He turned to the club secretary and told him, "You must stop this, here and elsewhere. If this man is not welcome here, I shall see that the name 'Royal' is removed from your club."

John Coyne
From that point on, professional golfers were never barred from British clubhouses, nor in the clubhouses of the United States.

Soon afterwards, a cartoon the New York World-Telegram and Sun showed Hagen dressed as a knight holding a long sword, and hanging on its tip was an empty garment labeled the "Clock of Snobbery." 

What began as a Midlothian Incident became the law of the land. Sir Walter had slayed the dragon of golf snobbery.

John Coyne is a bestselling author of three golf novels and more than 20 other books. Pay him a visit at John Coyne Books.