Tuesday, July 26

RICOH Women's British Open TV Schedule and Broadcast Notes

By Golf Channel Communications

WOBURN, England, July 26, 2016 – Historic Woburn Golf Club near London sets the stage this week for the women's fourth major championship of 2016, the RICOH Women's British Open, featuring a field that includes eight of the top-10 players in the Rolex World Rankings and 29 out of the top-30 in the 2016 LPGA money list. Golf Channel and NBC will air more than 20 hours of live tournament coverage Thursday through Sunday, the most number of live hours in the tournament's history and marking the tournament's return to broadcast television.

Twenty-two hours of live tournament coverage. Thursday and Friday, Golf Channel will air live coverage in two telecast windows (4:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m. ET / 9 a.m.-Noon ET). Morning Drive, Golf Channel's daily news and lifestyle show, will air in between to recap the action and preview the afternoon wave. Saturday and Sunday, live coverage will begin at 9 am ET on Golf Channel and will continue on NBC at 11 a.m. ET.

RICOH Women's British Open / NBC Sports Group Airtimes (all times ET)
Thursday, July 28        4:30-7:30 a.m. (Live) / 9 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Friday, July 29            4:30-7:30 a.m. (Live) / 9 a.m. -Noon (Live)
Saturday, July 30        9-11 a.m. (Live, Golf Channel) / 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (Live, NBC)
Sunday, July 31          9-11 a.m. (Live, Golf Channel) / 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (Live, NBC)

Monday, July 25

Pelham Country Club: Playing Well and Blooming (Conclusion)

Following is the conclusion of a two-part series on Pelham Country Club. Read Part 1.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

MOST GOLF ARCHITECTS KNOW GOD designs the greatest courses; the planners' job is to uncover the divine handiwork, not interfere with it. 

That's what happened when the Pelham Country Club was designed. Its architect, Devereux Emmet, looked at Mount Tom, the highest spot in Pelham Manor, and recognized that he could not improve on God's work. He created two holes where Mount Tom comes into play, and I don't exaggerate when I say that playing them is pretty close to a religious experience.

But before I talk about Mount Tom, let me give you some local Westchester golf-course history. There are courses more famous than Pelham—Winged Foot, Westchester and Wykagyl, for instance. These private country clubs host PGA Tour and LPGA events, and members can dine out on the big names that have played their courses. 

Pelham's only claim is that their club is "family oriented" with a "congenial atmosphere," though Pelham did host the 1923 PGA Championship won by Gene Sarazen in a match against Walter Hagen—a match that many experts consider to be the greatest in golf history.

I don't belong to any private club, but I do appreciate old courses and their history. And while Pelham may be small and unpretentious, there are many who love it. And for good reason.

Pelham's Golf History

Golf in Pelham goes back to a Dr. Charles R. Gillett and his brother, Will, who, in 1900, started to play the game in a makeshift way on Prospect Hill in Pelham Manor. In 1908, a Pelham Country Club (PCC) was formed with a few tennis courts and five golf holes carved out of a cow pasture. Then, in the summer of 1921 two influential members, Mont Rogers and Edmund E. Sinclair, formed a company—200 members paying $2,000 each—to buy a stretch of virgin woodland in the rolling, low-lying hills below the village of Pelham Manor. 

Searching for a designer, Rogers and Sinclair discovered a genius of golf architecture, Devereux Emmet of Long Island, and asked the man to create a championship course. A descendant of a founder of New York's Tammany Hall, Devereux Emmet was listed in Ward McAllister's First Forty Families in America. He was a golfer and a hunter, but, most of all, he loved nature, and envisioned a course of tall oak trees and groves of beeches, much like an ancient English woodland he'd visited, Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire, west of London. 

Emmet's vision of the Pelham course endured until 1955, when the government, in its wisdom, cut through the front nine with I-95. Today, only six of the original 18 holes are still in play, including the two on Mount Tom.

The Pelham course covers only 119 acres and, even from the more difficult back tees, plays to just 6,358 yards. Too short for touring pros, but to those who play for fun, it's a lovely course that demands strategic golf if one wants to score.

Three Architectural Schools of Golf

Golf design has taken a different architectural approach since its beginning in 1414 on the dune-links of Scotland. Those were the days of what came to be called the Natural School, where existing sand dunes determined the location of the holes, and little was done to change the natural wild topography.  
By the mid-17th century, this first school of golf-course design evolved into the Penal School, which moved bunkers and other hazards off the fairways and good players were rewarded for driving straight down the fairways and avoiding trouble.

Then, in the 1920s came the architects of the Strategic School. These men linked the natural course with one that discarded the straight-down-the-middle Penal approach in favor of a design that created interesting challenges. Devereux Emmet was such an architect. The net result was the kind of course we are familiar with today—one that calls upon the player to consider his or her options, based on ability and courage, to match par in a rural setting that usually resembles a pleasant English countryside. 

Among Strategic School architects, Emmet is noted for building courses with severe side-hill lies, blind shots, plenty of water and craftily designed bunkers. He gave Pelham narrow, tree-lined fairways, small greens, and water hazards on 11 of the holes.

Emmet's original Strategic School design is most evident in two holes on Mount Tom, a famous glacier rock at the epicenter of the Pelham Country Club. The holes are the 402-yard No. 9, and its companion, the 400-yard par-4 No. 15. Both holes are stamped into the terrain much like the index and middle finger of God's own right hand. They are perfect examples of how a Strategic School architect would use the natural setting to create a challenging course.

Standing on the tee boxes of either hole, a golfer can't see over the high ridge of Mount Tom 200 yards away. The player also can't see the landing area in the fairway, or see the green, or pin placement. 

Of these two historic holes, No. 9 is the most demanding, for beyond the high protruding outcropping of Mount Tom is a narrow fairway that falls precipitously to the left. No. 15 (God's middle finger), which is to the right of the outcropping, has a level landing area, and is more forgiving of a badly hit drive, since its fairway stretches smoothly to an inviting green.

No. 9, however, is another story: a blind tee shot into its sloping fairway funnels dramatically to the left-side rough and into trouble. As Ben Hogan once said, in golf it is the tee shot that matters most. Hogan, who lived by his famous fade, would play the Mount Tom hole by moving his ball left-to-right so it landed on the high right side of the fairway, leaving a short iron to a large green nestled in a grove of shading oak trees. 

These two holes, plus No. 10 and No. 14, are clustered around Mount Tom and, on any given round, a player is spending 25 percent of the game near this ancient outcropping that Devereux Emmet was smart enough to leave alone. The Mount Tom holes are Pelham's version of the famously difficult Master's "Amen Corner."

Mount Tom and Devereux Emmet gave Pelham Manor one more benefit. After a heavy winter snowfall, No. 9 is full of kids sledding downhill. One player's summer headache becomes a child's winter joy. In all these ways, the fairway of the Mount Tom No. 9 is a scene for all seasons.

That's God and Devereux Emmet's way. So, Pelham Country Club members will have to weight that fact before tinkering with this golf course masterpiece.

They best remember, don't mess with God's work!

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

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

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

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

Maintenance? Ha!

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

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

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