Friday, February 12

VIDEO: 'An American Golf Journey in Morocco'

GOLF MIGHT NOT COME TO MIND when you think of Morocco. But for 15 golf professionals (and their families), Morocco was an amazing adventure that exceeded their expectations in almost every way this past December.

The trip lasted seven days and included five golf courses, as well as sightseeing and other activities.

"The weather is just exceptional," said one pro. "It's beautiful to play golf in the wintertime and short sleeves. And enjoy all the great stuff."

"All the golf courses we've seen in Morocco have been outstanding," said another pro, who was especially impressed with the architecture.

"I've never been so welcomed to any place I've ever been to," said another participant, "and I've traveled extensively to play golf in different places. This has been the best so far."

Maybe I'll get to Morocco and see for myself. It might happen. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 11

Golf on TV: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Chubb Classic, Tshwane Open

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


The PGA TOUR visits one of the most prominent golf venues in the world this week with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The field – which is headlined by World No. 1 Jordan Spieth and No. 3 Jason Day – features 156 professionals and 156 amateurs competing across a three course rotation Thursday-Saturday, with the top-60 professionals (and ties) and top-25 pro-am teams advancing to Sunday’s final round. 

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Dates: Feb. 11-14
Venues: Pebble Beach Golf Links; Spyglass Hill Golf Course; Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Short Course), Pebble Beach, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. ; 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              3-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. ; 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-11 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6:30 p.m.

Broadcast Notes

Snedeker defends: Brandt Snedeker won by three strokes over Nick Watney for his seventh career PGA TOUR victory.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Shane Lowry, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker and Bill Haas.

Celebrities in the field: Mark Wahlberg, Justin Timberlake, Wayne Gretzky, Bill Murray, Toby Keith, Aaron Rodgers, Huey Lewis, Steve Young, Jake Owen, Colt Ford and Carson Daly.

* * *


The Champions Tour is in Florida for the second consecutive week, with the Chubb Classic (formerly ACE Group) in Naples, as Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer headline the field.

Chubb Classic
Dates: Feb. 12-14
Venue: The TwinEagles Club (Talon Course), Naples, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          3-5:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            3-5 p.m. (Live)  

Broadcast Notes

Janzen defends: Lee Janzen defeated Bart Bryant on the first playoff hole to earn his first PGA TOUR Champions win.

Headlining the field: Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Rocco Mediate, Jeff Maggert, Jay Haas, Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry, Duffy Waldorf, Corey Pavin and Lee Janzen.

* * *


The European Tour is in South Africa for the Tshwane Open, where major champion Charl Schwartzel headlines the field in his home country.

Tshwane Open
Dates: Feb. 11-14
Venue: Pretoria Country Club, Waterkloof, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3:30-5:30 a.m. / 7:30-10:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday              3:30-5:30 a.m. / 7:30-10:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live) 
Sunday            5-9:30 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Coetzee defends: George Coetzee finished one stroke ahead of Jacques Blaauw for his second career European Tour win.

Headlining the field: Charl Schwartzel, George Coetzee, Edoardo Molinari, David Horsey, Brett Rumford, Bobby Wyatt, Richard Sterne, Darren Fichardt and Oliver Fisher.

Wednesday, February 10

Called Shot: The Artful Golfer's Fourth Ace

I KNOW HIM AS THE ARTFUL GOLFER, who for many years documented his golf journey at a blog by the same name. And what a journey it has been. A disciple of Fred Shoemaker (Extraordinary Golf) and others, Richard experienced rapid improvement in this difficult game.

He shares some of his golf story below, including how he "called" his fourth ace on a California golf course in November 2013.

The Artful Golfer
Approaching the age of 50, I took up the game of golf. Improvement came quickly, first breaking 80, then breaking par one year after increasing my play to twice per week. I lowered my handicap to 8 in my first year, 4 in my second year, then 2 after two more years. I eventually reached a low index of 1.4 with a low round of 68.

I accomplished this without taking lessons or focusing on technology or technique. Instead, I approached the game creatively, learning to improve my inner game and discover my natural swing. I pursued the game of golf as art.

November 23, 2013.

Standing on the 176-yard par 3 13th tee at San Luis Rey Downs, I turned to my friend's 13-year-old son, Matthew, who was just tagging along with our foursome.

Without forethought, I asked Matthew, "Have you ever seen a hole-in-one?"

He answered no.

So, I replied, "Watch this."

I then teed up my Callaway, hit a solid 6-iron and watched it draw right towards the flag. I could tell it had landed close to the hole, but a front-side bunker hid the ball from sight. We figured I'd have an easy tap-in birdie, but I just I had this feeling!

As we approached the green, we didn't see my ball. Maybe it went over the back of the green?

With great anticipation, Matthew ran up and looked in the hole. I'll never forget the look on his face when he saw my ball sitting at the bottom!

Just like Babe [Ruth], I called it!

Tuesday, February 9

Bill Scheft Q&A: Treasured Memories of Uncle Herb (Herbert Warren Wind)

BILL SCHEFT WANTS TO TELL YOU about his uncle, who happens to be Herbert Warren Wind, widely considered to be the dean of American golf writers. It's a good time to revisit Wind, who died in 2005. Open Road Media has released seven of Wind's titles as ebooks.

Bill Scheft with Herbert Warren Wind
on Scheft's wedding day in 1990.
(Courtesy of Bill Scheft)
Wind, of course, was the legendary scribe who penned eloquent narratives for the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated, and who collaborated with golf legend Ben Hogan on Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, the gold standard of golf instruction books. He was also the one who coined "Amen Corner," that crucial three-hole stretch on the back nine of Augusta National Golf Club. Fittingly, the annual USGA book award is named after Wind. And he is also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

A stand-up comic, comedy writer, sportswriter and novelist, Scheft could also tell you about himself. There's plenty to tell. He was a writer for David Letterman for 24 years until Lettterman retired. During that time Scheft was nominated for 15 Emmys. There's more.

But I've noticed that Scheft loves to share about his Uncle Herb. One could say Wind's legacy also lives on through his nephew. Read on to discover why.

Q: What made Herbert Warren Wind such a great writer, and a great golf writer, in particular?

BILL SCHEFT: I always found him incredibly generous with his knowledge. Not just golf, it was clear that he wanted you to be as much of an expert as he was. He never left anything in his pocket to pull out at a cocktail party or to impress another writer.

What made him such a great golf writer is how he, and usually this is a bad word, compartmentalized the game between the personal, the journalistic, the technical, the historical and the architectural/ecological. They would eventually intersect. Because he had the benefit of long lead time at the New Yorker, his obligation to the reader (and himself) was to make sure he covered all these areas and put a result everyone knew about in perspective.

Let's face it, golf is the only game where on a given day you or I could skull a chip in flush off the stick for a 2 on the same hole Jordan Spieth gets a 3. So, there must be perspective. And there cannot be perspective without context. That's why you would get 5000 words on Royal Wurlington before 3000 words on the Masters. 

Q: How did he influence you?

BILL SCHEFT: You mean other than the fact I know Royal Wurlington? He was, quite simply, the most influential man in my life. He is the reason I became a sportswriter and eventually an author. Especially after I moved to Manhattan in 1980 and spent a lot of time with him. He showed me the possibilities of living the writer's life in Manhattan. And the possibilities of living a life on your own terms.

Now, for 95 percent of that time, I made a living as a stand-up comic, but I longed to be a writer, just a writer. And he would always say to me, "What you're doing is right. But I hope some day you could get a job writing for a guy like Bob Hope."

And when I got the job with Dave Letterman in 1991, he said, "This is exactly what you need." I spent 24 years writing jokes for Dave, but I also found the time, and courage, to write five novels, and return to sportswriting with regular humor columns, first at ESPN Magazine and then Sports Illustrated. The last time I spoke with Herb, he was fully in the throes of dementia, but he came out the other side for a second to say to me, "I hope you realize all the good work you've done."

I like to think he was saying that to himself, because he never ever gave himself the credit for being such a singular practitioner of his craft. And with rare exception, never let anyone else give him credit.

Q: What is your golf background?

BILL SCHEFT: I grew up with two golf-loving parents. My father, Bill Sr., was a very solid player. At one point he got down to a 6. My mother Gitty, Herb's sister, was a exemplary player. She won club championships at four different clubs. At one point, she was an 8 and I don't think ever hit a drive longer than 180. But I caddied for her, and let me tell you, you never ever ever looked for her ball.

Q: Do you have a favorite Uncle Herb story or anecdote?

BILL SCHEFT: In 2000, when my mother was 77, she shot her age at Sterling Acres in Massachusetts. I called Herb, who had moved into Carlteton-Willard, a multi-level assisted living facility in Bedford. I said, "How about your sister Gitty shooting her age?" There was a long, long, long pause. And he said, "It's great to play alone, isn't it?" 

Q: That's funny. Anything else?

BILL SCHEFT: I've made my living in comedy, but there have been few people wittier than Herb Wind. When my wife and I got married, in June 1990, he came back to New York with my parents. We only had 13 people at our wedding. It was in the Slocum Room at the Harvard Club, which is exactly the kind of room you would imagine. Wood paneled, spare and relentless elite. There was a portrait in the middle of the room, and my father looks at the plate and says, "Hey Herbie, what does this mean? (Russell) Slocum '86?" Without missing a beat, Herb says, "It means he had a bad round."

And a P.S.

BILL SCHEFT: My first novel, THE RINGER (2002), was the story of a 35-year-old New Yorker who makes his living playing softball and how his life changes when he has to take care of his celebrated sportswriter uncle, who has fallen ill. The uncle, Morton Martin Spell, was based almost entirely on Herb, especially his delivery and wit. When the book came out, Dave Anderson left this message on my machine: "Hey College Boy (the lead character's name), I loved the book. And you did a rotten job disguising Herb, which I loved even more."

Bill Scheft's latest novel is SHRINK THYSELF.

Monday, February 8

A Brief History of the Crosby Clambake (Pebble Beach Pro-Am)

By I Love Carmel California

IN 1937 FAMOUS CROONER BING CROSBY decided to get some friends together for a fun golf event that would also raise money for charity. He held the first event with about 60 players at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club in San Diego. Crosby donated $3,000 for the prize money. It was originally called the Bing Crosby Pro-Am, but many simply called it the Crosby Clambake. Sam Snead was the first winner.

Bing Crosby
(Image via
I Love Carmel California)
The tournament was suspended in 1942 because of World War II. It was revived in 1947 at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Crosby was named honorary police chief for that event. He played in eight of the events at Pebble Beach before dying in 1977 on a golf course in Spain. The event was first televised in 1958, making it one of the longest-running televised sports events.

[A complete guide to the 2016 Pebble Beach Pro-Am from I Love Carmel California]

Crosby's contribution to the popularity of golf is amazing. In the 1940s and 1950s he was often noted as the most admired man. In fact, in 1948 it was estimated that nearly half of radio time was devoted to his music. Crosby's star power was incredible.

Bing was also an avid golfer, with a 2 handicap, who played in both the British and U.S. Amateurs. By starting the Crosby Clambake, he brought a tremendous amount of recognition to the game of golf, as well as tourism to the Monterey Peninsula when the event moved to Pebble Beach Golf Links. Since 1937 the event has generated more than $120,000,000 for charities.

Since its inception, this PGA Tour event has had 5 name changes. It was originally called the Bing Crosby Pro-Am (1937-1952), then the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Golf Championship (1953-1958), then the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am (1959 – 1985), then the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (1986-2015), and now the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (2016). When AT&T became the title sponsor in 1986, Crosby's widow withdrew his name from the event.

With an event held in California, you would think the weather would be fantastic. However, this event has been known for inclement weather, including rain, fog and even snow in 1962. The Pebble Beach Pro-Am has been delayed, shortened and was even cancelled in 1996. And in 1998, the final round was held in August.

PGA Tour Highlights: Matsuyama 'Lucky to Come Out on Top'

JUST WHEN IT LOOKED AS IF RICKIE FOWLER was poised for another victory, he stumbled on the way to the trophy ceremony at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

A bold player and closer, Fowler coughed up a two-stroke lead on the last two holes of regulation and was edged by Hideki Matsuyama in a sudden-death playoff that went four holes. It was the second PGA Tour title for the 23-year-old Japanese player, who has the look of a rising star.

"Rickie opened the door for me," Matsuyama said, "and I was able to walk through it."

"The hard part is having all my friends and family and grandpa and my dad who haven't seen me win," an emotional Fowler told the media.

Matsuyama added: "Surprised and sad that Rickie finished that way, but all I can do is my best. I was lucky to come out on top."

Next up is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Friday, February 5

Rick Bragg: How to Grovel

(This is the first of what may be an occasional off-golf-topic piece because I want to share my other nonfiction writing with more readers. Thanks as always for following this blog.)

Rick Bragg
One afternoon I saw my wife reading Southern Living.

"Hey, can I see that when you're done?" I asked.

Not because I wanted to read about porches and gardens, easy bedroom upgrades, or the South's hottest food towns. (Actually, I did take a peek at the food towns.) No, I wanted to read Rick Bragg's Southern Journal, on the last page.

I love Rick Bragg. The former New York Times reporter wrote a series of memoirs about his family and growing up poor in Alabama and Georgia. Bragg is a wonderful storyteller. Read his books, if you haven't already.

In his Southern Living essay, Bragg tackled groveling. He got help.

"A few months ago, I asked readers for advice on how to grovel," he began. "The alternative -- to do right in the first place -- I rejected from self-awareness."

Bragg shared some of the advice in the column. It was good. A woman named Susan told Bragg not to worry about groveling. As Bragg noted, Susan seemed to imply that he shouldn't expect too much of himself, "being a man."

There was plenty more, including a funny anecdote about Bragg's dog (Woody Bo) eating his favorite shirt. He spilled crab soup on the shirt during a trip to Louisiana and dropped it on the bedroom floor when he returned home.

I was impressed by the groveling advice offered by David of North Carolina. He gave Bragg a three-point plan:
1. Grovel often. It's expected. 2. Admit you're wrong. It's quicker. 3. Don't worry about being sincere. They know.
By the way, asking for reader input is a shrewd strategy for generating essays, columns and blogs. So, if you're a writer, be like Rick. And, if you're a man, grovel often and without shame.

Thursday, February 4

Golf on TV: Waste Management Phoenix Open, Coates Golf Championship, Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Allianz Championship

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


NBC Sports Group will feature more than 25 hours of live programming from TPC Scottsdale surrounding the Waste Management Phoenix Open, including tournament coverage on Golf Channel and NBC. David Feherty is set to make his NBC Sports Group live tournament debut as lead analyst during Thursday-Friday first and second round coverage on Golf Channel.

Waste Management Phoenix Open
Dates: Feb. 4-7
Venue: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium Course), Scottsdale, Ariz.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-7 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Friday              3-7 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-3 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-3 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)    

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

Broadcast Notes

Largest crowds on PGA TOUR: The event attracts the largest galleries on the PGA TOUR, with a record 564,000 in attendance throughout the week in 2015, including nearly 160,000 during Saturday's third round alone.

Koepka defends: Brooks Koepka finished one shot ahead of Hideki Matsuyama, Ryan Palmer and Bubba Watson for his first career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka.

* * *


World No. 1 Lydia Ko is set to make her first start of 2016 on the LGPA Tour at the Coates Golf Championship, airing on Golf Channel. Alison Lee and Suzann Pettersen are paired together for the first two rounds, which will be the first time the two will complete alongside one another since their controversial match at the 2015 Solheim Cup.

Coates Golf Championship
Dates: Feb. 3-6
Venue: Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, Ocala, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     2-5:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-10 p.m. (Replay)
Thursday         11 a.m.-2 p.m. (Live) 
Friday              8-10 p.m. (Tape delay) / 3-5 pm. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday          3-5 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Choi defends: Na Yeon Choi defeated Lydia Ko, Ha Na Jang and Jessica Korda by one stroke for her eighth LPGA Tour win.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, So Yeon Ryu, Sei Young Kim, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist, Brooke Henderson, Charley Hull and Alison Lee.

* * *


World No. 3 Rory McIlroy will look to defend his title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, an event he has won twice in his career.

Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Dates: Feb. 4-7
Venue: Emirates Golf Club (Majlis Course), Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Live, Wednesday Overnight) / 6:30-8:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday              2:30-8:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          4-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-Noon (Replay)        
Sunday            3:30-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-Noon (Replay)

Broadcast Notes

McIlroy defends: Rory McIlroy won by three shots over Alex Noren to earn his 10th career European Tour victory, and his second time winning the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Headlining the field: Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Martin Kaymer, Bryson DeChambeau (a), Danny Willett and Lee Westwood.

* * *


Allianz Championship
Dates: Feb. 5-7
Venue: Broken Sound Club (Old Course), Boca Raton, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              11 a.m.-2 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          5-7 p.m. (Tape delay) / 3-5 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Sunday            3-5 p.m. (Tape delay) / 2-4 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)

Broadcast Notes

Goydos defends: Paul Goydos finished one stroke ahead of Gene Sauers for his second career PGA TOUR Champions win.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Jeff Maggert, Jay Haas, Kenny Perry, Tom Lehman, Duffy Waldorf, Mark O’Meara, Jesper Parnevik and Nick Price.