Friday, May 27

My Tribute to Life in the Blue Ridge

After thousands of golf stories, I want to share on other topics. This commentary is autobiographical and appeared in the Sunday Roanoke Times a few weeks ago. Thanks for reading.

THE BLUE RIDGE BECKONS IN A THOUSAND WAYS, many of which are hard to explain in casual conversation with strangers. This ancient region casts a spell on wanderers. People think they're just passing through, but they'll probably be back. Some of them will stay forever.

I know this like I know my own name because it happened to me, and then, years later, it happened to my closest family members. I didn’t see any of it coming, even though now it’s as clear as a mountain creek.

Looking toward the Shenandoah Valley
from the crest of the Blue Ridge.
For a dozen years, I've been having this odd and slightly awkward conversation with new acquaintances. Their eyebrows may rise and they might lean a little closer when they hear me say "Seattle." "Did you say Seattle?" they ask. "How did you get here from Seattle?"

Even after 12 years in Floyd, near the crest of the Blue Ridge, my wife and I marvel about this very same thing. How did this happen?

I still stumble through an explanation when meeting new people. Do I give the short version or the longer story about our move from the "Emerald City" to a one-stoplight town in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains? I never seem to know what to say, so I mumble things such as lifestyle, raising our daughters, friends, slowing things down, adventure and cost of living. Often I'm unsatisfied with my explanation. In those brief encounters, words fail to convey the essence of our family's move from the urban Pacific Northwest to rural life in the Blue Ridge.

And yet this Blue Ridge life constantly explains itself in a thousand wordless ways. Like the misty view of Buffalo Mountain I see when I'm walking along Storker's Knob a mile from my brick house on the edge of Floyd. Or watching a high-school football game on a clear autumn night with seemingly the entire town filling the aluminum bleachers. Or driving along any road in any season, drinking in nature and spotting creatures in every direction—wild turkeys, buzzards and hawks; groundhogs and foxes; deer, always deer; and even the occasional black bear and her cubs.

In 2002 the Blue Ridge enchanted us like it has so many others. It took us a year to plan and make the cross-country move from a city and region we still love to the town and mountains that now feel as comfortable as a handmade quilt. Our daughters have grown up here. Our neighbors and community have accepted us, even though we’ll never be from here and will always be come-latelys.

I've come to realize that life in the Blue Ridge is a feeling, and a sense of place and being, that makes explanations elusive.

Now it has also attracted my brother, who is my only sibling, and his wife. They visited us on a few occasions in recent years. They traveled the Appalachian chain, from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Boone, North Carolina. These mountains still called to them long after they had flown back to the West Coast.

My brother and I are only two years apart in age, but we have been separated in distance by a thousand and more miles for the last three decades — until February 2015. That’s when he, my sister-in-law and our 80-something-year-old parents moved to Waynesboro, Virginia — from L.A! Now, I expect, my brother has to answer that same funny question: "How did you get here from there?"

Whatever his answer, here we are, two brothers and other family members reunited in the lush mountains and valleys of Virginia. What a strange coincidence that both my brother and I now live within a 10-minute drive of the Blue Ridge Parkway, his nearest entry point at Milepost 0 on Afton Mountain and mine at Milepost 165 in Tuggles Gap.

On the other hand, it's not strange at all. The Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway and surrounding locales are a magnetic force of nature. They pulled us close — not only to them, but to each other.

This unique place of family re-connection defies a simple explanation, whether to strangers or even to myself. And so, much like looking at Buffalo Mountain in the distance, I just shake my head in silent wonder and gratitude.

Thursday, May 26

Golf on TV: Dean & DeLuca Invitational, Senior PGA Championship, BMW PGA Championship, LPGA Volvik Championship

By Golf Channel Communications


Dean & DeLuca Invitational
Dates: May 26-29
Venue: Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         4-7 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              4-7 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Kirk defends: Chris Kirk won by one shot over Jason Bohn, Brandt Snedeker and Jordan Spieth for his fourth PGA TOUR victory.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Charl Schwartzel, Steve Stricker and Chris Kirk.

* * *


The PGA TOUR Champions will stage its second major in as many weeks at the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid at Harbor Shores in Michigan. Colin Montgomerie will be looking to win the event for the third consecutive year, while Bernhard Langer will attempt to become the first player ever to win five different senior majors championships. 

Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid
Dates: May 26-29
Venue: Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor, Mich.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1-4 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-3:30 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              1-4 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-3:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday          2:30-5 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live)

Montgomerie defends: Colin Montgomerie defeated Esteban Toledo by four shots at French Lick Resort last year to successfully defend his 2014 title and earn his third-career PGA TOUR Champions major title.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Kenny Perry, Jesper Parnevik, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman, Jeff Maggert, Duffy Waldorf and Kirk Triplett.

* * *


BMW PGA Championship
Dates: May 26-29                                                                       
Venue: Wentworth Club (West Course), Surrey, England    

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)
Friday              5 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)

An defends: Ben An finished six strokes ahead of the field to earn his first European Tour win.

Headlining the field: Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Russell Knox, David Lingmerth, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell.

* * *


LPGA Volvik Championship
Dates: May 26-29                                                                       
Venue: Travis Pointe Country Club, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         7-9 p.m. (Tape delay) / 4:30-6:30 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Friday              7-9 p.m. (Tape delay) / 4:30-6:30 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday          3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-6 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-6 a.m. (Monday replay)

Inaugural event: This is the inaugural edition of the LPGA Volvik Championship and is the first of two LPGA events held in the state of Michigan in 2016, with the Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids next month.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson, Sei Young Kim, So Yeon Ryu, Suzann Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome.

Wednesday, May 25

VIDEO: Jack Nicklaus on CBS Sunday Morning

THIS IS A GOOD SEGMENT on the Golden Bear, including why he continues to work so hard and fly around the globe at the age of 76.

Profile of Tommy Armour, The Silver Scot

Part one of two on golf legend Tommy Armour (1896-1968).

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

TOMMY ARMOUR, NICKNAMED THE SILVER SCOT, is today perhaps best known, if he is remembered at all, as a teaching pro, having written, with Herb Graffis, one of the great instruction books on the game, How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time (1953).

Armour offered little theory that was new or different for golfers, but for one piece of advice. He was among the first pros to advocate aggressive, all-out use of the right hand in generating power. This book when it was first published in '53 sold 400,000 copies in its first year, an impressive number of sales.

He wrote (or co-authored) several others books. One, A Round of Golf with Tommy Armour, is my favorite.

Born in Edinburgh, and educated at the university there, Armour left school to fight in World War I. A machine gunner, he transferred to the new Royal Scots Tank Corp and was caught in a mustard gas attack and lost his eyesight. Surgeons had to add metal plates to his head and left arm. During his convalescence, he regained the sight of his right eye, and also began playing golf again. Like U.S. Open winner Ed Furgol, Armour overcame a serious physical handicap to become a tour winner.

Coming to the United States, Armour turned professional in 1924. He would then go onto win three Canadian Opens as well as the U.S. Open (1927), PGA (1930) and the British Open in 1931.

His steady income, however, came from being a home pro. In 1929 he took over as the golf professional at the Boca Raton Club, in Florida, a job he held for more than 25 years building up the reputation as the best teaching pro in the United States. He also was pro at Medinah Country Club outside of Chicago, and a member of Winged Foot in Westchester where he would spend his summers.

Armour said he would rather teach than play, and his approach, at times, was different from your usual home pro. They tell the story of when he was at Medinah he was famous for firing at chipmunks on the practice range with a .22 rifle while giving lessons.

One day a member grew impatient with him and demanded, "When are you going to quit that and take care of me?" Armour swung the rifle around toward the member and commented, "Don’t tempt me."

More typically, he gave his lessons (for as much as $100) sitting in a lawn chair nursing a drink, saying very little while he watched the students hit away. Then he would declare something like, "Hit the hell out of it with your right hand."

That said, Armour is known to have helped pros like Julius Boros, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Patty Berg, Lawson Little, and others.


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

Also by John Coyne:
A six-part series on Bobby Locke
A two-part profile on Harry Vardon

Monday, May 23

Rory Snatches Irish Open With Two Flashes of Genius

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. RORY MCILROY choked back tears of joy as he produced not one but TWO perfect shots to seal a Dublin Duty Free Irish Open victory for the ages and ONE MILLION EURO for charity.

One behind Scottish warrior Russell Knox with just three holes to go, it looked like a soggy event would end up as a damp squib in front of 25,270 fans at The K Club. Instead, McIlroy hit a heart-stopping, career three wood into the heart of the 16th that set up a birdie that changed the destiny of the title and raised a roar that could be heard from The K Club to Cahirciveen.

As Knox three putted under pressure to go from one ahead to one behind, McIlroy then hit a Roy of the Rovers style five wood to 30 inches at the 18th to set up a tap in eagle three.

In the space of half an hour he went from zero to hero, carding a three under par 69 to win his first Irish Open by three shots from Knox and Welshman Bradley Dredge on nine under par. If Carlsberg are doing any ads about Irish Open climaxes, this one is the template.

Rating the win as high as a World Golf Championship, an emotional McIlroy said: "I don't normally cry over victories but I was trying to hold back the tears on the 18th green, just looking up and seeing all my friends and family and the support I have had this week.

"To win in front of them -- I don’t get a chance to play in front of my him fans that often -- to play like that and finish like that today, I will never forget it."

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

Saturday, May 21

SEC Chart: Phil Mickelson and Alleged Insider Trading

PHIL MICKELSON WASN'T CRIMINALLY CHARGED in an insider trading case that lasted five years. But he doesn't fare as well in the court of public opinion.

From ESPN:
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday alleged that golfer Phil Mickelson made $931,000 after purchasing stock on an insider trading tip from sports gambler Billy Walters and then used some of the money to pay back Walters, to whom he allegedly owed money. 
The SEC on Thursday said Mickelson, who was not criminally charged, has agreed to pay back "all ill-gotten gains," which, including interest, totals $1.03 million.... 
"Simply put, the money Mr. Mickelson made was not his to make," said Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC's enforcement division.

Thursday, May 19

Bothered Spieth Leads Jason Day Chase Pack

ONE OF THE THINGS I LIKE about Jordan Spieth is that he's pretty darn transparent. Ask him a question and he answers it, for the most part. He lets you know what he thinks.

Like everyone else, Spieth has been watching and admiring Jason Day on his run of seven victories in his last 17 tournaments. Day now has a firm hold on the World No. 1 ranking. Spieth is No. 2.

Spieth spoke about Day at the AT&T Byron Nelson on Tuesday.

"There's some motivation there," Spieth said. "He's playing his game. He believes his game is better than anybody else's, and he's on his game and so it is better than everybody else's. What he's doing right now, I think I can win the next two events and I'm still not going to surpass him in the world rankings. He's separated himself, and that bothers me and it motivates me."

Spieth missed the cut last week at The Players Championship while Day picked up another big win. The 22-year-old Texan has been struggling after a huge 2015 season during which he won the Masters and U.S. Open and contended in the Open Championship and PGA Championship. Spieth has determined he needs to lighten up a bit, to have more fun on the golf course.

"When I say get back to having fun, I mean it's not like I'm still not going to get frustrated with myself because that's healthy, you should," he said. "If you don't execute a shot that you feel that wasn't that hard to execute, there should be some frustration, but no lingering or negative talk is really what I'm talking about. Just eliminating that."

Hopefully, for Spieth, the home crowd in the Dallas area will spur him on as he tries to regain his form and catch the world's hottest player.

Wednesday, May 18

Golf on TV: Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, AT&T Byron Nelson, Regions Tradition, Kingsmill Championship

By Golf Channel Communications


The famed K Club (2006 Ryder Cup) will serve as the venue for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation this week, with World No. 3 Rory McIlroy and reigning Masters champion Danny Willett headlining more than 20 hours of live tournament coverage on Golf Channel. 

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation
Dates: May 19-22                                                                       
Venue: The K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup Course), Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland           

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)
Friday              4:30-8:30 a.m. / 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)

Kjeldsen defends: Soren Kjeldsen defeated Eddie Pepperell and Bernd Wiesberger with a birdie on the first playoff hole for his fourth career European Tour win.

Headlining the field: Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Padraig Harrington, Russell Knox, Martin Kaymer, Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood and David Lingmerth.

* * *


The PGA TOUR shifts to Texas for the AT&T Byron Nelson, with World No. 2 and Texas native Jordan Spieth in the field along with Dustin Johnson. 

AT&T Byron Nelson
Dates: May 19-22
Venue: TPC Four Seasons Resort & Club Las Colinas, Irving, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         4-7 p.m. (Live) / 11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              4-7 p.m. (Live) / 11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)

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

Bowditch defends: Steven Bowditch finished four shots ahead of Charley Hoffman, Scott Pinckney and Jimmy Walker for his second career PGA TOUR victory.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Bryson DeChambeau, Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar and Charl Schwartzel.

* * *


The PGA TOUR Champions stages the first of five majors in 2016 this week with the Regions Tradition in Alabama, the first of three majors over the next four weeks.

Regions Tradition
Dates: May 19-22
Venue: Greystone Golf & Country Club (Founders Course), Birmingham, Ala.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1-3:30 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-4:30 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              1-3:30 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-5 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          5-7 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-4:30 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            5-7 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-4:30 a.m. (Monday replay)

Maggert defends: Jeff Maggert outlasted Kevin Sutherland with a par on the first playoff hole for his second career PGA TOUR Champions win, and first major.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Kenny Perry, Jesper Parnevik, Mark O’Meara, Jay Haas, Tom Lehman, Jeff Maggert and Lee Janzen.

* * *


The LPGA Tour is in Virginia for the Kingsmill Championship, featuring the return of the top-3 players in the world  -- Lydia Ko (1), Inbee Park (2) and Lexi Thompson (3) -- after extended breaks and will be grouped together for the first two rounds. 

Kingsmill Championship
Dates: May 19-22                                                                       
Venue: Kingsmill Resort (River Course), Williamsburg, Va.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         9-11 p.m. (Tape delay) / 4:30-6:30 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Friday              9-11 p.m. (Tape delay) / 4:30-6:30 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday          3-5 p.m. (Live) / 4:30-6 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-5 p.m. (Live)

Lee defends: Minjee Lee finished two shots ahead of So Yeon Ryu for her first LPGA Tour win.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller, Brooke Henderson, Sei Young Kim, So Yeon Ryu, Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Lincicome.