Wednesday, August 31

Golf World Loses Another 'Hawk': A Remembrance of Jules Alexander



By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


JULES ALEXANDER PASSED AWAY ON FRIDAY, August 19th, in Westchester, New York, at the age of 90. The report said he died peacefully in a White Plains hospital after suffering from a late-night fall.

That would be so like Jules, I thought. He never was one to call attention to himself.

Jules was a photographer.

His whole professional life was spent behind a camera, catching on black-and-white film the greatness of others. Jules wasn't one to seek glory for himself, but glory rightly came to him over time as those in front of the camera turned to bow and recognize the man who immortalized them.

First as a teenager, he photographed the likes of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra for Down Beat magazine; in World War II as an aerial reconnaissance photographer, and later as a high fashion photographer for magazines like Vogue and Glamour. Then he followed his heart and his love, and for most of his life, caught on film the great golf courses of the world and the greatest players of the game.

Collaborating With Jules

I was fortunate to have Jules as the photographer for our 1990 book, Playing With The Pros: Golf Lessons From The Senior Tour, published by Dutton Books. That book featured instructions from the likes of Billy Casper, Gene Littler, Bruce Crampton, Light Horse Harry Cooper and a half dozen other pros who played on the Senior Tour over its first decade.

At the time Jules was the photographer for Met Golfer, the magazine for the Metropolitan Golf Association of Greater New York, but he agreed to join me on my book project. For several weeks, stretched across the summer months of 1999, Jules and I traveled around the East Coast, and as far south as North Carolina, interviewing and photographing famous PGA Tour players.

While I was interviewing pros and writing notes on how they played the game, Jules was adding to my knowledge by telling me stories of the great players he knew and had photographed.

His Golf Hero

He told me, as he would tell everyone he could, how he took a train in 1959 out from the Bronx to Winged Foot and saw Ben Hogan up-close-and-personal. From that time on, Hogan was the "golf hero" of Alexander's life. Jules knew every story told about Ben, and photographed him whenever he could.

One of The Hogan photos, "Alone on the Green," Jules said, "is my favorite and a favorite of Hogan's wife. She selected it to hang over the fireplace in The Ben Hogan Room at the USGA Golf House in New Jersey."

That photo, taken at Winged Foot, caught Hogan on the green with his putter in hand and glancing off to one side. "He was talking to his friend and longtime professional at Winged Foot, Claude Harmon," Jules told me. Harmon is beyond the photograph's frame. "It shows a man," Jules said, "at peace with himself and his surroundings."

There is also a collection of Alexander's photographs at the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Mike Dougherty, sports reporter for The Journal News in Westchester, New York, quoted Jimmy Roberts of NBC, who tells of a recent stay at the Carnoustie Golf Hotel in Scotland, where Hogan won his one Open Championship. "I was walking through corridors," Roberts recalled, "and I'm noticing there are photos of Hogan playing at Winged Foot and also at Westchester Country Club. It really brought it home to me how well known Jules was. This is a famous and foreign place and there was Jules' work in the lobby."

Love of the Game

Not only did Jules love to photograph golfers and golf courses, he loved the game itself. When I knew him, he played to a 7 handicap and lived in a house where the kitchen faced the practice area of the Westchester Country Club. "This is convenient," I told Jules, nodding towards the course the first time I visited him at his home on Belmont Avenue in Rye.

The house was his wife Danna's idea, he told me. Knowing his love of golf she went looking for a home near a golf course when they moved out of New York City. Playing golf in Manhattan, Jules told me, meant he had to carry his clubs and ride a subway at dawn out to courses off the island.

It was a good move, and a career move. Danna opened a fashion store in town and their boys grew up to play the game. Both are golf professionals in New York and New Jersey.

Well known at Westchester Country Club for his knowledge of the game and his warm personality, Jules years ago was nicknamed "Hawk" by members because of his fascination with the original "Hawk," the nickname given to Ben Hogan.

A celebration of Alexander's life was held on Wednesday, August 22, at the Westchester Country Club for members and for the public who knew Jules not as a photographer, or a club member, but as a neighbor and friend from town.

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

Tuesday, August 30

PGA TOUR'S Doug Milne: 'Just Start, Then Make'

The PGA TOUR'S Doug Milne with World No. 1 Jason Day at The Barclays. (Image courtesy of Doug Milne)


PGA TOUR Media Official Doug Milne shared the following reflection on Facebook and granted permission to publish it here.

By Doug Milne

[SATURDAY] MARKED MY 25-YEAR ANNIVERSARY with the PGA TOUR.

When I started on August 26, 1991, I was like a kid with a piggy bank thrown onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Understandably, most in our Baymeadows office all but rioted at the thought of me lasting 25 days. I was openly in league with the naysayers.

Things, however, turned out a bit differently. It was the greatest bet I ever lost.

The prospect of a career in the golf business didn't discourage me as much as the fear of stepping into an arena I knew nothing about.

I've come to find real value in two ideas. The first is this: just start. The rest will take care of itself. I did. And, it is. The second thing I came to realize is that life is never there for the taking, but always available for the making. "Ya got whatcha got," I came to find, isn't always the disheartening echo off a brick wall.

We're often asked, "Where were you when….?" As I have been with the TOUR more than half of my life, odds are I was with the PGA TOUR "when."

[The above] picture with Jason Day, the world's No. 1 player, was taken Saturday at Bethpage State Park in New York. When I started working at the TOUR, he was three. I've had the pleasure of watching players like him take a step similar to mine into this arena, nervous and uncertain, then rise above.

And also like me, Jason just started. While his talent on the course may have resulted in slightly fewer bets against his future in golf as there were against mine, the premise levels all playing fields. Just start. Then, make.

Monday, August 29

Emphatic Reed Joins U.S. Ryder Cup Roster

PATRICK REED IS ALL IN. After his win at The Barclays on Sunday, Reed is an automatic qualifier for the U.S. Ryder Cup team and is off and running in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Patrick moved from a nervous eighth to a comfortable fourth in the final Ryder Cup Points Standings.

In case you haven't noticed or heard him, Reed relishes playing for the US of A. He was 3-0-1 in his first Ryder Cup two years ago at Gleneagles, one of the few bright spots in a losing effort.

Here are the eight American players who have earned their spots.

U.S. Ryder Cup Team
Dustin Johnson
Jordan Spieth
Phil Mickelson
Patrick Reed
Jimmy Walker
Brooks Koepka
Brandt Snedeker
Zach Johnson
Pick 1
Pick 2
Pick 3
Pick 4

Following are the nine automatic qualifiers for Team Europe.

European Ryder Cup Team
Rory McIlroy
Danny Willett
Henrik Stenson
Chris Wood
Sergio Gacia
Rafa Cabrera-Bello
Justin Rose
Andy Sullivan
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Pick 1
Pick 2
Pick 3

The all-important picks.

U.S. Captain Davis Love and European Captain Darren Clarke will round out their squads with picks. Clarke's three picks will be named tomorrow (Tuesday, August 30). Love will name three picks on September 16 and one more on September 25.

The 2016 Ryder Cup will be played September 30 to October 2 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.

Friday, August 26

Oops! ARMCHAIR GOLF Misquotes Richard Nixon

Golf isn't meant to be easy. It's hard to take being on the top -- or on the bottom. I guess I'm something of a fatalist. You have to have a sense of history, I think, to survive some of these things... Golf is one crisis after another.
– (not said by) Richard Nixon

Biographical note: Richard Nixon was the 37th President of the United States.

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

Ryder Cup Trophy Tour Begins August 29

The 2016 Olympics are over. The Olympic torch is put away and the Olympic flame is extinguished. But there is another important event approaching in the world of golf -- the Ryder Cup -- and the PGA of America is borrowing an idea from the Olympics and other sports to attract attention and rally fan support.

By PGA of America

In anticipation of the 2016 Ryder Cup, the PGA of America announced plans for the first U.S. Ryder Cup Trophy Tour, to build support and excitement for the United States Ryder Cup Team and the spirit of the Ryder Cup. 

The month-long tour, a part of the "We Are 13" fan-engagement initiative to connect, energize and educate fans on the Ryder Cup, tees off on Aug. 29 and concludes Sept. 23, four days before the biennial tradition of golf’s preeminent event begins at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. "We Are 13" refers to American golf fans across the country who will support the team like the 13th contestant on the 12-player squad.

Golf fans across the United States will have an extraordinary opportunity to show their support for the American team, and get up-close and personal with the Ryder Cup, as the Trophy makes an unprecedented tour later this summer -- traveling 5,000 miles and making 12 stops in 10 cities.

The below image is from the PGA of America. For Ryder Cup news and to sign up for Ryder Cup email updates, go to RyderCup.com.

Wednesday, August 24

Arnold Palmer's New Book and Free Golf Balls Offer

I JUST LEARNED ABOUT A SPECIAL OFFER associated with Arnold Palmer's new book, A Life Well Played: My Stories, set to publish from St. Martin's Press on October 25.

When you pre-order The King's book, you'll receive a sleeve of custom Callaway golf balls. (While supplies last and/or up until October 24.)

Pre-order book and enter information for free Callaway golf balls from Arnold Palmer.

Publisher's Book Description

No one has won more fans around the world and no player has had a bigger impact on the sport of golf than Arnold Palmer. In fact, Palmer is considered by many to be the most important golfer in history.

As a follow-up to his 1999 autobiography, Palmer takes stock of the many experiences of his life in A Life Well Played, bringing new details and insights to some familiar stories and sharing new ones. Palmer has had tremendous success but is most notable for going about it the right way and always giving back to the fans who made it all possible. Gracious, fair, and a true gentleman, Arnold Palmer is the gold standard of how to conduct yourself. He offers advice and guidance, sharing stories of his career on the course, success in business and the great relationships that give meaning to his life. This book is Palmer’s gift to the world―a treasure trove of entertaining anecdotes and timeless wisdom that readers will celebrate and cherish.

Tuesday, August 23

VIDEO: PGA Tour Players Talking to Their Golf Balls



DO YOU TALK TO YOUR GOLF BALL?

If so, you have a lot of company, including on the PGA Tour. Two incessant golf-ball talkers are Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth.

From the PGA Tour's YouTube channel, watch "the best of what we've seen from players on the PGA Tour."

Monday, August 22

A Gold for Park and Record Viewership for Women's Golf

THE RESULTS OF THE WOMEN'S Olympic Golf competition in Rio de Janeiro was yet another reminder of the dominant players (and nations) on the LPGA Tour.

Gold: Inbee Park, Korea, -16
Silver: Lydia Ko, New Zealand, -11
Bronze: Shanshan Feng, China, -10

"It definitely feels unreal," Inbee Park told Golf Channel's Steve Sands. "This is something I've really been dreaming of doing this week. To represent your country in the Olympic Games and to be able to win a gold medal is such a special feeling. There were so many Korean people out here supporting me and I almost felt like we were in Korea. That's how much support I've had this week… I've gone through some tough times, but this is definitely a big relief."

Silver medalist Ko said: "Today not many putts were falling. But for a crucial putt like that on the 18th [hole] to fall, I think I celebrated like the gold medalist… This means so much more to me. Since 2009 I've just dreamt and imagined myself to be here in Rio alongside the world's best athletes. Having this silver medal is just a dream come true. The Olympics isn't about [whether] somebody lost to another player. It celebrates each and every athlete and we've all won."

American Stacy Lewis, finishing T-4 (-9), fell short in her bid for a bronze medal after rallying with a 63 in the third round.

"To bounce back the way I did [Friday]," Lewis said, "and to have a chance to hopefully get a medal today was all I could have asked for… You're not so much looking at who's in first and second [place]. You're kind of looking at that third place [bronze] number a little bit more. I'm always trying to move up the leaderboard on Sunday no matter what position I'm in."

In addition, Golf Channel reported, "Golf's return to the Olympics posts record viewership for women's golf."

As I mentioned last week, especially with such low expectations, golf's return to the Olympics was successful. The sport will get another chance at the Tokyo Games in 2020.

Geoff Shackelford (GeoffShackelford.com) offered "six ways to make Olympic golf better." A team format and suspending tour play during the Olympics are two of my favorites, although convincing the all-powerful PGA Tour to allow a gap in its schedule might be wishful thinking.

Friday, August 19

RTJ Golf to Benefit Louisiana Flood Victims

News from the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Birmingham, Ala - While area golfers will soon enjoy a long Labor Day weekend on Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf (RTJ) Trail, they will be helping flood victims in Louisiana.

From Saturday, September 3 through Monday, September 5, the RTJ Golf Trail will donate $10 to the American Red Cross South Louisiana Flood Relief from every round of golf with a green and cart fees paid.

"Louisiana golfers have played the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail since it opened nearly 25 years ago and now Louisiana needs our help," said John Cannon, president of the RTJ Golf Trail. "We hope this Labor Day Weekend charitable promotion will provide financial relief to Louisiana residents in need."

All 11 RTJ sites across Alabama will participate in the Labor Day Weekend donations. Tee times should be made with the local sites and a complete list can be found at www.rtjgolf.com.  

The money collected will go to American Red Cross: South Louisiana Flood Relief, to benefit flood victims in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas.

Thursday, August 18

Olympic Golf Course Design Signed by Architect Gil Hanse

This item comes from ARMCHAIR GOLF reader and friend Howie Karasick.

The 2016 Summer Olympics continue in Rio de Janeiro. As you know, golf is back for the first time in more than 100 years. The women's Olympic golf competition is underway.

The architect of the Olympic golf course, Gil Hanse, has been kind enough to donate a signed copy of his original course design to help raise money for children with autism. All proceeds go to various child autism charities.


The above image is a low-resolution scan of the actual document. The colors are much more luminous than this low-resolution jpeg.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The actual document does NOT have "SAMPLE" on it.


This is a one-of-a-kind image (24 x 28 inches) that a golf enthusiast would prize and love to display in his or her home or office.


Learn more and bid on this collector's item.

Wednesday, August 17

An Enigmatic Player Who 'Lives Down to Expectations'

FOLLOWING IS A GOLF ANECDOTE. As you read it, consider the identity of the player on the range.
"Do you ever play out here?" [I said to a player who was hitting balls on the back of the range].
He looked at me like that was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard. 
Then he said, "Why would I do that when I can stay here and hit balls all day?" 
Sure enough ... seven hours later, he's still there hitting balls. 
From what I've witnessed though, he's great with the young guys, particularly with the ones who're struggling. He's always made time for them, helped them out. He's very generous.
Maybe, like me, a certain golf legend came to mind as you read the anecdote. It sounds a lot like Ben Hogan, doesn't it?

But it's not.

The player on the range is the "enigmatic" Vijay Singh. The person telling the anecdote is former PGA Tour player turned broadcaster Brad Faxon. It comes from a Global Golf Post story by Steve Eubanks. Read it here.

Reporting from the U.S. Senior Open in Columbus, Ohio (won by Gene Sauers), Eubanks wrote about Singh's troubled history with the media and the PGA Tour, which is nearly all we know about the three-time major champion from Fiji. Of course, as is often the case, there's more to Singh beneath the harsh veneer.

"According to many of his peers, he's a witty and interesting man with a lot of insight and an incredible life story."

But Vijay is reluctant to share it, or much of anything, at least publicly. Eubank's piece on Singh is an interesting read if you have a few minutes.

Tuesday, August 16

Women's Olympic Golf TV Schedule and Broadcast Notes

By Golf Channel Communications

This week the Olympic stage in Rio will belong to 60 of the most prominent female golfers in the world who will take part in the Women's Olympic Golf competition, Wednesday-Saturday, August 17-20. Lydia Ko (New Zealand), Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand), Brooke Henderson (Canada) and Lexi Thompson (United States) headline the field taking on the same Olympic Golf Course on which the men's competition was contested last week.

2016 RIO OLYMPICS

Women's Olympic Golf Competition
Dates: August 17-20
Venue: Olympic Golf Course, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-5 a.m. (Replay)
Thursday         6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          6 a.m.-3 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes

Format: The Women's Olympic Golf competition will consist of 60 players, competing in a 72-hole stroke play competition based on the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings. The top-15 players in the official world golf rankings are eligible, with a maximum of four players allowed from a given nation. Outside of the top 15, each nation is allowed a maximum of two players (based on world ranking). If a country has already qualified two or more players within the top 15, additional athletes are not eligible.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko (New Zealand), Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand), Brooke Henderson (Canada), Lexi Thompson (United States), Inbee Park (Korea), Sei Young Kim, (Korea), Stacy Lewis (United States), Anna Nordqvist (Sweden) and Gerina Piller (United States).

NBC Olympics Broadcast Team
Play by Play:   Terry Gannon / Steve Sands
Analyst:           Annika Sorenstam / Karen Stupples
Tower:             Tom Abbott / Curt Byrum
On Course:      Jerry Foltz / Kay Cockerill
Interviews:      Todd Lewis

Sunday, August 14

Rose Is Golden in Rio


In July Justin Rose expressed disappointment about Olympic no-shows.

MAKING A CLUTCH BIRDIE on the last hole, England's Justin Rose edged Sweden's Henrik Stenson to win the gold medal in Rio on Sunday. Joining Rose and silver-winner Stenson on the podium was American Matt Kuchar, who captured the bronze by firing a brilliant 63 on the final 18.

"It's a dream come true," Rose was quoted as saying in The Guardian.

"I've been thinking about Rio for a long, long time. I've been dreaming about coming here for a few years now. I was hoping my ranking would allow me to compete in the Olympic Games.

"I came here in good form and I felt excited about competing, excited about giving it 100%. Then when I actually got down to Rio and experienced the whole vibe of the Olympics, to come out of it with a medal is incredible. To come out of it with gold, unbelievable."

Kuchar and others were also ecstatic about their Olympic experience.

"My heart started pounding out of my chest," Kuchar said about his Sunday charge.

With expectations low, especially after stars such as Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson dropped out of the competiton, golf's first appearance in the Olympics since 1904 was a success.

On to Tokyo in 2020.

Skratch TV Presents '24 Hours in Dubai'



THIS IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT. This is Adventures in Golf (Season 1) from Skratch TV.

Documentary filmmaker Erik Anders Lang takes viewers on a tour around the globe searching for the craziest, most intriguing stories in golf.

I hope you enjoy the next episode, "24 Hours in Dubai."

Related:
Slum Golf in Mumbai

Wednesday, August 10

VIDEO: Feherty and Bob Costas Discuss Golf's Return to the Olympics



IN THE ABOVE CLIP, NBC broadcaster Bob Costas shares some thoughts about how golfers can approach their first Olympic Games. This Feherty episode airs on Tuesday, August 23, at 10 p.m. ET (on Golf Channel).

Men's Olympic Golf TV Schedule and Broadcast Notes



By Golf Channel Communications

Golf will return as an Olympic sport this week for the first time since 1904, when the men’s Olympics golf competition gets underway Thursday from the newly constructed Olympic Golf Course in Rio. The field of 60 players represent 34 different nations across six continents, featuring Americans Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar, along with Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Danny Willett (Great Britain), Sergio Garcia (Spain) and Emiliano Grillo (Argentina). 

Men's Olympic Golf Competition
Dates: August 11-14
Venue: Olympic Golf Course, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-5 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-5 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-5 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            6 a.m.-3 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes

Golf makes historic return to the Olympics: Golf's return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 112 years also marks a milestone for Golf Channel, becoming the first single-sport cable network to provide live coverage of its sport's Olympic competition. Golf Channel will feature more than 130 live hours of Olympics programming, and nearly 300 hours in total. Similar to NBC Sports' all-encompassing coverage of marquee events like the Ryder Cup, NBC Olympics' live coverage of the men's and women's competitions in Rio will begin with the opening tee shot and continue until the medals are awarded. NBC will feature live look-ins, highlights and updates on the golf competition throughout the Games. All Olympic competition, including golf, will be live streamed on NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports Live Extra app (powered by Playmaker Media), both of which require authentication.

Format: The Olympic golf competition will consist of 60 players on both the men's and women's (August 17-20) side, competing in a 72-hole stroke play competition based on world golf rankings. The top-15 players in the official world golf rankings are eligible, with a maximum of four players allowed from a given nation. Outside of the top-15, each nation is allowed a maximum of two players (based on world ranking). If a country has already qualified two or more players within the top-15, additional athletes are not eligible.

Headlining the field: Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Bubba Watson (United States), Rickie Fowler (United States), Danny Willett (Great Britain), Patrick Reed (United States), Sergio Garcia (Spain), Matt Kuchar (United States) and Emiliano Grillo (Argentina).

NBC Olympics Broadcast Team
Play by Play:   Terry Gannon / Steve Sands
Analyst:           Johnny Miller / Nick Faldo
Tower:             David Feherty / Peter Jacobsen
On Course:      Roger Maltbie / Curt Byrum / David Feherty
Interviews:      Todd Lewis

Tuesday, August 9

Hog Neck: Exceptional Public Golf on the Eastern Shore

Text and images by John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


GIVEN A CHOICE, I PREFER to play on public courses where foursomes are put together by chance. I often play with guys (and gals) just off work, firemen and construction workers, accountants and school teachers. It is reassuring to come into a public course where the parking lot is half full of pickup trucks and not BMWs.

The problem with such a game plan, however, are the courses. The majority of them don't measure up against private clubs that are manicured and groomed by a seasoned superintendent and grounds crew. 

There are, however, exceptions and this summer I played at one of the better public courses that I have come upon. 

On vacation on the Eastern Shore, I found Hog Neck Golf Course in Easton, Maryland, an 18-hole par 72 championship course, plus a 9-hole par 32 executive course. Both courses are spread over 255 acres of rolling landscape.

The Hog Neck Golf Course (with its unfortunate name) was, in fact, rated the "Finest Golf Course for 2012, on Maryland's Upper Eastern Shore" by Maryland Life Magazine's Readers Poll. It opened in 1976 on land given to Talbot County by Nettie Marie Jones, famous for her many gifts to the county. She played the game, as did her husband, W. Alton Jones, who was head of the Cities Service oil company (now Citgo) and one of Ike's "gang" of close golf buddies.

Alton also helped pay for the Eisenhower Cottage at Augusta National. He was a member of over 100 courses and kept clubs at all of them for his friends and himself. When he died his wife, Nettie Marie, gave the entire lot to the National Golf Foundation.

What separates Hog Neck from many public courses is that the county owns it and money and attention are spent on this course and buildings. The Eastern Shore is famous for its sailing but it also has some very fine public courses, Hog Neck being just one. 

There is a country club feel to the golf course once you arrive, having driven past flat fields of soybeans to reach the brick framed entrance and following a long curving tarmac road through groves of loblolly pines to a small pro shop, framed by parking lots, maintenance buildings, a practice range, putting clock and a separate short game area. There is also a café with a limited menu, but enough for a quick bite. You've come to play not dine. 

The two courses—championship and executive—are intermingled and the championship 18 is two different courses in one. The front 9 is tight with the holes surrounded by woods and water while the back side has an open, links-style feel. The championship course plays to a par 72 and is 7106 yards long. The 9-hole executive is 2182 yards from the back tees with a par of 32.


The head professional is PGA member Lance Houghton, who previously worked as the assistant pro. He is a local guy from Maryland, a schoolteacher before qualifying as a PGA professional, and before coming to Hog Neck he worked at two other fine public courses in the state, Queenstown Harbor and Prospect Bay in Stevensville.

What Houghton says, and what I would agree with, is what makes Hog Neck different is the attention to details. You see it on the course itself, and around the club house. There's friendly staff to help you find what you might need, from golf paraphernalia to coffee in the café. 

What else makes Hog Neck enjoyable is the lack of players. While there is a steady stream of golfers, it's more like a trickle compared to courses in major urban areas. And with the pro's help, it is easy enough to play around foursomes and golf outings when you just want to get in a quick nine playing alone.

Look for Hog Neck when you are on the Eastern Shore. You don't even have to book a tee time. Learn more at www.hogneck.com.

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

Monday, August 8

Jim Furyk's 8:41 Tee Time and Unexpected Excitement


AT 46, JIM FURYK ISN'T OLD ENOUGH to shoot his age, but he did something even more impressive: He fired a record-setting 58 in the final round of the Travelers Championship. Hitting all 18 greens in regulation and needing only 24 putts, Furyk carded nines of 27 and 31 to set a new scoring standard on the PGA Tour nearly 40 years after Al Geiberger was the first player to break 60.

Furyk said it helped that he had shot 59 three years ago at the BMW Championship.

"Having that experience in the past, and this one mimicked it a lot, it was comforting for me," he said in a Golf Digest story by Brian Wacker.

"You don't wake up on Sunday morning with an 8:41 tee time thinking that anything exciting is going to happen. I mean, really on those days the most exciting thing that can happen is the group in front of you plays quick and your flight takes off a little early and you get home is usually what you're looking to do. To get out there and make a bunch of birdies and get the juices flowing and feel like I was in the hunt in a golf tournament was kind of cool."

Furyk's peers were quick to acknowledge his feat. According to Wacker, Furyk had 85 messages as he exited the scoring trailer, his phone "buzzing in his pocket."

Was it the best round ever on the PGA Tour?

Many say no. Furyk's 58 came on a par-70 layout in pristine conditions. The debate continues on social media and elsewere.

But, until someone shoots 57, Furyk owns the lowest round. That's indisputable. So let's tip our cap to the longtime grinder with the odd swing, who now has a new moniker: Mr. 58.

Friday, August 5

Skratch TV Presents 'Slum Golf in Mumbai'



THIS IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT. This is Adventures in Golf (Season 1) from Skratch TV.

Documentary filmmaker Erik Anders Lang takes viewers on a tour around the globe searching for the craziest, most intriguing stories in golf.

I hope you enjoy the first episode, "Slum Golf in Mumbai."

Thursday, August 4

Nike Golf Drops the Ball and Much More

NIKE, THAT GOLIATH SPORTS BRAND, is dropping golf equipment, it said on Wednesday. Here's the announcement:
BEAVERTON, Ore. NIKE, Inc. announced today that it will accelerate innovation in its Golf footwear and apparel business and will partner with more of the world's best golfers. With this new focus, Nike Golf will transition out of equipment - including clubs, balls and bags.

"We're committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel," said Trevor Edwards, President, Nike Brand. "We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf."

"Athletes like Tiger, Rory and Michelle drive tremendous energy for the game and inspire consumers worldwide," said Daric Ashford, President of Nike Golf. "Over the past year the MM Fly Blade Polo, the Flyknit Chukka and Air Zoom 90 have all connected strongly with golfers. We'll continue to ignite excitement with our athletes and deliver the best of Nike for the game."
With Tiger Woods sidelined and the game moving on without him, and with Nike withdrawing from golf (except for shoes and apparel), it feels even more like the end of an era. But maybe I'm overreaching.

Wednesday, August 3

VIDEO: A Brief Look at Golf in the 1904 and 2016 Olympics


I'VE WONDERED ABOUT THE 2016 OLYMPICS. Would the event be derailed by the Zika virus and/or a host of other factors? In the end, no, here come the Olympic athletes to Rio de Janeiro and, very soon, the world will be watching.

In addition, as you probably know, golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years. Dan Arritt at ESPN.com wrote:
The absence of several top players in the men's tournament scheduled for Aug. 11-14 might keep adrenaline flow well below Ryder Cup levels. An untested Olympic course in a logistically challenged city might even make the experience downright uncomfortable.

But the man who endures to win gold within the Reserva de Marapendi in Barra da Tijuca will have perseverance in common with George S. Lyon, the reigning Olympic golf champion for the past 112 years.

Lyon had taken up golf just eight years before the 1904 Olympics. The 46-year-old Canadian survived a lengthy format, even longer odds and tumultuous weather conditions on the final day in St. Louis to defeat Chicago native H. Chandler Egan.
Read the entire story at ESPN.com.

Tuesday, August 2

Say Hello to Mr. 58



I'M LATE TO POSTING THIS on the blog, but I heard about it last week and you probably did, too. In any case, Stephan Jaeger shot a record-setting 58 in the first round of the Ellie Mae Classic on the Web.com Tour. The German native carded 12 birdies and six pars at TPC Stonebrae.

"I'm really happy with the way I played," Jaeger said, "especially on the back nine. You don't know when those days are going to come, and they come unexpectedly. Days like this are very, very, very rare."

Yeah, like never-happened-before rare. Absolutely amazing.

Jaeger went on to win the tournament by seven shots, finishing 30-under par. His rounds: 58, 65, 64, 63.

Monday, August 1

Heeeere's Jimmy!



JIMMY WALKER WON THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP on Sunday by sinking a 3-foot par putt on the final green at Baltusrol Golf Club. A few moments earlier Jason Day sank an eagle putt on the par-5 18th to pull within one stroke of Walker's lead. It made the 72nd hole more interesting, but Walker, despite an errant second shot that found the rough, handled the pressure and collected his first major title at age 37.

"It was amazing," Walker said after a final-round 67 and 14-under total of 266. "It was a battle all day."

And so 2016 is the year of the first-time major winner. Danny Willett at the Masters. Dustin Johnson at the U.S. Open. Henrik Stenson at the British Open. And Jimmy, the PGA champion.

Some might not like it. Some might prefer a dominating player or two. That might be better for the sport. I don't know. But I think all these first-time winners is pretty cool.