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 on 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.

Wednesday, February 3

Portugal, an Idyllic Golf Destination and Lifestyle

IN THE SOUTH OF THE SMALL COUNTRY of Portugal, situated in a corner of Europe, is the region of Algarve.

Image courtesy of 360 Golf Holidays.
This paradise is considered to be among the best golf destinations in the world, according to various magazines and international associations. It has marvelous golf courses with breathtaking sceneries and pleasant architecture, both near the sea and the mountains. It is also possible to play golf under sunny skies for nearly the entire year.

Nowadays, Algarve is visited by golf lovers from around the world, including some who come every year. Those who share this passion might want to consider making Portugal their residence and enjoy the great benefits the Portuguese tax system has recently created. 

A Tax Friendly Lifestyle

This tax sets out a new income tax regime for non-usual residents within the scope of personal income tax (IRS). This regime offers a number of benefits and extremely favorable conditions to anyone wishing to settle in Portugal, and is also appropriate for emigrants wishing to return to Portugal. The measure is principally aimed at attracting foreign investments and investors. 

The new arrangement also makes Portugal a tax-free jurisdiction for individuals with pensions. And individuals can also benefit from income obtained through business, professional activity, interest and dividends.

These benefits cover high value-added activities, which can receive a special rate of 20%. The only requirement is to become a Portuguese tax resident.

Investors and retired people from around the world have, in Portugal, the opportunity to create a quality lifestyle for the whole family and also benefit from this new measure, which could allow them to live almost without paying taxes.

To learn more, visit the website of Sandra Gomes Pinto, an attorney with 20 years of national and international experience helping a wide range of clients.

This is a sponsored post for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal, tax, or financial counsel.

Tuesday, February 2

Do Walter Hagen's Words Apply to Donald Trump?

I JUST SAW THIS DONALD TRUMP golf tweet from December 2013 at USA Today Golf.

"It's increasingly hard to figure out if Walter Hagen actually said this at all," wrote Luke Kerr-Dineen, "but regardless: It's a sentiment that has been uttered by many great athletes over the course of human history."

Maybe The Donald will find solace in another golf saying: "One shot (or state?) at a time."

Monday, February 1

Mother Nature Dominates at Farmers Insurance Open

THEY COULDN'T FINISH THE FARMERS Insurance Open at Torrey Pines yesterday because the weather showed up and battered the field. The players who finished their final rounds averaged higher than 78.

Meanwhile, Brandt Snedeker put together a 69 in the wet and windy (up to 40 m.p.h.) conditions. "It will stand as one of the best rounds of the year when things are done," wrote Mike Purkey in Global Golf Post.

Sneds is the clubhouse leader at 6 under, but Jimmy Walker is currently ahead by a shot, among a group of Monday finishers. Due to dangerous conditions with high winds, there are no spectators at Torrey today.

Patrick Reed withdrew after an 81 in the third round. Something about his ankle. Hmmm. Graham DeLaet was not sympathetic.

"Does anyone have Pat Reed's #?" DeLaet tweeted. "I need to call him for WD'ing and leaving us as a twosome in the final group off 10 in brutal weather."

Someone responded to the tweet, and DeLaet added, "No I shot 82 because I missed 13 greens and couldn't chip or putt. I'm still playing (Sunday) though."

Finally, below is Colt Knost, who didn't want to hit this putt because his ball was oscillating. Watch what happened.