Friday, July 22

Trick Shot Video: 'How to Really Practice at the Range (and Break a Few Clubs)'

PLEASE ENJOY THE ABOVE TRICK SHOT reel sent to me by Cameron Thayan. And as they said, "Thank you to Stoke Park Golf Club for not throwing us out."

Thursday, July 21

Pelham Country Club: Playing Well and Blooming

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

WE HEAR AND READ A LOT TODAY about country clubs failing and fading into history as millennials turn their backs on a game that takes them away from their smartphones.

This "decline" in golf has happened before.

The USGA statistics show a dramatic decline in membership during the 1930s. Over 1,100 clubs belonged to the organization at the beginning of the decade, but by 1936 the number had dropped to 763. At the same time, Business Week estimated that there were one million fewer members in 1936 than in 1925.

Again, during the war years, there was another decline. The New York Times reported that gas and rubber shortages had reduced play by approximately 50 percent. The Times would go onto write, "The unprecedented current situation [war-time measures] hits clubs after a decade of violent readjustments. Only a minority have recovered from the shock of the depression which began in 1929. Many a proud course .... is now a suburban housing development."

In the 1970s, there was a great growth in the game, especially linking private clubs to housing developments. The housing bust of 2008 forced new players to rethink the cost of membership. 

Another problem was the aging of members. When my wife and I first arrived in Westchester, the town's golf course, Pelham Country Club, was facing this familiar problem. 

Pelham Country Club solved it by creating junior memberships for Yuppie parents. They built new tennis courts and a family swimming pool that attracted mothers with toddlers to spend most of the summer days at the club, waiting at the pool when dad came home from work and ready to play a quick nine holes.

Pelham, however, was not safe from trouble. Recently, the theft of $335,000 by their controller resulted in a sizable insurance payment. I'm told the insurance money will be used to improve this legendary golf course.

Having weathered depression, wars and theft, the situation is still serious at Pelham Country Club. In the concluding part, I'll explain why.


John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest golf novel is The Caddie Who Won the MastersLearn more at John Coyne Books.

Wednesday, July 20

VIDEO: No Tiger Woods for Rest of Season

GOLF CHANNEL REPORT: "Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the PGA Championship and will miss the remainder of the 2015-16 PGA Tour season."

Monday, July 18

Jack Nicklaus: Stenson-Mickelson Eclipses 'Duel in the Sun'

WHAT DID JACK NICKLAUS THINK of the showdown between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson in the final round of the 145th Open Championship? He shared his thoughts on Facebook.

Via Jack Nicklaus on Facebook.
"I was fortunate to watch every second of today's final round of the Open Championship," the Golden Bear said, "and I thought it was fantastic.

"Phil Mickelson played one of the best rounds I have ever seen played in the Open and Henrik Stenson just played better—he played one of the greatest rounds I have ever seen. Phil certainly has nothing to be ashamed of because he played wonderfully.

"Henrik played well from beginning to end. He drove the ball well; his iron game was great; his short game was wonderful; and his putting was great. Henrik was simply terrific. To win your first major championship is something special in and of itself, but to do it in the fashion Henrik did it in, makes for something very special and incredibly memorable. I'm proud of and happy for Henrik.

"Some in the media have already tried to compare today's final round to 1977 at Turnberry, with Tom Watson and me in what they called the 'duel in the sun.' I thought we played great and had a wonderful match. On that day, Tom got me, 65-66.

"Our final round was really good, but theirs was even better. What a great match today."

Henrik Stenson: 'I Felt Like It Was My Time'

I'VE BEEN WATCHING MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF for a long time, and the final-round duel at Royal Troon between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson was the best I've ever seen. Stenson prevailed, of course, shooting an 8-under 63 that included 10 birdies. Winner of the 145th Open Championship with a total of 20-under par, the Swede is a major winner at last.

Stenson knew he had a worthy opponent in Mickelson, and it made a difference in his approach.

"In a way it makes it easy when you're up against someone like Phil," Stenson told NBC's Mike Tirico. "You know he's not going to back down and he’s going to try to make birdies on every hole. So I just tried to do the same and [I'm] just delighted to come out on top and [that I] managed to win this [Claret Jug]."

Mickelson was no slouch, carding a 65 on Sunday that would have won most majors going away. It was one of his greatest major championship rounds in a long career -- and it still came up short.

"I thought we played pretty good golf," Lefty said. "I hit a lot of good shots and Henrik made 10 birdies. He and I have been friends for quite some time and I really like and respect him. I'm really happy for him, as much as I'm disappointed with the outcome. He's a class act and he played phenomenal. He hit the ball so solid yesterday and today especially."

"I've been so focused this week, this day in particular," Stenson said. "I've just been trying to stay in the moment. I felt like it was my time. I believed it was my time and managed to pull through and have a great finish."

Friday, July 15 Wanders Offline to Celebrate Open Victory

(A spoof from the 2011 archives.)

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

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

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

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

Maintenance? Ha!

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

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

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

Thursday, July 14

Phil Mickelson's 63 at Royal Troon: 'It Was Kind of Easy'

PHIL MICKELSON GRABBED THE LEAD in the first round of the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon. The 2013 Open champion fired an 8-under 63, which included a lip-out on the 18th green that, had it dropped, would have been the first 62 in a major championship.

Mickelson had no bogeys on his card, hit a bunch of fairways and greens, and only needed 26 putts.

"I felt like it was kind of easy, like I didn't try to do too much," Phil told Golf Channel's Steve Sands.

"I just kind of kept the ball in play, and hit good shots and made some putts. I didn't feel like I was overworking… I knew walking up 17 if I could make [the putt] I've got a shot at the lowest round in a major. That 17th hole is a really hard par-3 and I hit one of the best 4 irons to have that putt at it and to see that ball go in."

As only he can (that is, a bit dramatically), Lefty also shared his thoughts on the missed putt on the final green. 

"It started on my line and it was right in the center of the hole with a foot to go. It breaks to the left and then it straightens out, and it went back to the right a little bit harder. [I] saw these highlights [from his round] and yet I feel like crying. I don't know what to say. I don't know how that ball missed because it was perfect speed in the center with a foot to go… As great a round as this was… I'm not going to have a chance to do something historical like that [again] most likely. Maybe if I'm lucky, one other time. That was a chance to do something historical right there. At least I could have hit a big old flail and not even had a chance, but that ball was right in the center. It's heartbreaking."

Martin Kaymer and Patrick Reed share second after 5-under 66s.

2016 Open Championship - Day 1 Review

THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP PODCASTS (via audioBoom). Richard Kaufman, Paul Eales and Raymond Burns look back on a dramatic first day at Royal Troon where Phil Mickelson almost made history, finishing with a 63 to take the first-round lead. Hear from the leader as well as from Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.