Sunday, June 30, 2013

'Lord, He's Going to Run Us All Off the Tour'

Golf Digest has a slideshow up in which it collects some good caddie stories from its archives. You can read the full piece here. But this is the standout:

Jariah Beard, on caddieing at the 1963 Masters, when Jack Nicklaus won his first green jacket:

"I've got [Don] January, and Pete [Willie Peterson] has got Jack. On 13, Jack popped up his drive, and he's about 260 from the green. He says, 'Willie, can we get there?' and Pete says, 'No sir, Mr. Jack.' Jack kind of stands there for a minute before he says, 'Willie, now you know I can hit it as far as I want to.' So he takes the 3-wood and kills it at the green. When the ball lands, Don says to me, 'Lord, Jerry, he's going to run us all off the tour.'

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Amazing Video of the Effects of Calgary Flooding on Golf Courses

The great city of Calgary is still trying to recover - and will be for some time - from torrential and devastating flooding that occurred nearly a week ago. And the damage to golf courses in that flooding is pretty far down the list of things to worry about. This flood took people's lives, homes and dreams. But we're a golf blog.

So here is an amazing video showing the damage at one of Calgary's golf courses called Kananaskis:

And here are a few more videos showing the Calgary flooding at area golf courses:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

78-Year-Old Frank Stranahan Deadlifting 265 Pounds

You might have heard the news that two-time British Amateur champ Frank Stranahan passed away recently at the age of 90. Here's a video of what Stranahan did to celebrate his 78th birthday back in the year 2000:

To celebrate turning 78, Stranahan deadlifted 265 pounds. The video was shot by his son Lance and posted to YouTube. Stranahan was the first person in golf to take weightlifting seriously. Gary Player has credited Stranahan with turning him on to fitness. After Stranahan's death, Player tweeted this:

Stranahan wasn't just a prolific winner in amateur tournaments; he also won multiple PGA Tour events (some of them while still an amateur), and three times while an amateur was runner-up in a major (once at the Masters, twice at the British Open). That's impressive.

Deadlifting 265 pounds when you're 78 is also impressive. But I think I'm even more impressed that Stranahan managed to pull off wearing tights at age 78.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gary Player Explains the Nudie News

So you've heard that 77-year-old Gary Player appears nude in the 2013 Body Issue from ESPN the Magazine, right? What do you think about that? Here's what Mr. Player thinks about it:

Unveiling Sebonack

Sebonack Golf Club is the site of this week's U.S. Women's Open, and it's the coming-out party for this ultra-exclusive club on Long Island.

Located next door to Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links, the cost of joining Sebonack is reportedly anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000. That's a lot of zeroes, either way.

When a club costs that much to join, it better have a great golf course. And if the tweets from golfers playing the U.S. Women's Open are any indication, Sebonack is a great golf course. This, from Amy Yang, is typical:
So this week Sebonack goes from almost completely unknown (at least to everyone outside those who fetishize golf course architecture) to the spotlight. Here are a few of the photos of the course being posted on Twitter:


@golfnjeray/Twitter
@mscheyd/Twitter
@AdamMoeller/Twitter
@caro_powers/Twitter
@MeediumRare/Twitter

@mscheyd/Twitter

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Pro Golfers Who Were Hijacked to Cuba


There's a new book out called The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking by Brendan I. Koerner. It tells the story of a time in America when hijacking an airplane was commonplace, and not yet (at least most of the time) a deadly endeavor. A more "innocent" age of skyjacking, if you will.

From 1968 to 1972, more than 130 airplanes in United States airspace were hijacked and taken to Cuba (many, but not all of them, with Florida as their intended destination). Eleven hijackings happened in the first six weeks of 1969 alone.

An excerpt from the book appeared on the website of Wired magazine. Skyjacking was so common during this period that the airlines - remember, this was a time period during which there were no security checkpoints in airports, no X-ray scanners, when anyone could walk into an airport and buy a ticket without showing ID, when you could walk straight onto a plane without even having a ticket and then buy one once on board - trained all of their pilots how to land at Cuba's Jose Marti International Airport, just in case:

"To facilitate impromptu journeys to Cuba, all cockpits were equipped with charts of the Caribbean Sea, regardless of a flight's intended destination. Pilots were briefed on landing procedures for José Martí International Airport and issued phrase cards to help them communicate with Spanish-speaking hijackers. (The phrases to which a pilot could point included translations for 'I must open my flight bag for maps' and 'Aircraft has mechanical problems—can’t make Cuba.') Air traffic controllers in Miami were given a dedicated phone line for reaching their Cuban counterparts, so they could pass along word of incoming flights. Switzerland’s embassy in Havana, which handled America's diplomatic interests in Cuba, created a form letter that airlines could use to request the expedited return of stolen planes."

The book tells a fascinating tale. But what does this have to do with golf?

In 1968, the first year of the skyjacking epidemic, two professional golfers were on board flights that were hijacked to Cuba: Mason Rudolph and Barbara Romack.


Romack was a U.S. Women's Amateur champion, won once on the LPGA Tour, and at one time was a vice president of the LPGA Tour. Rudolph won the U.S. Junior Boys Amateur Championship and then became a 5-time winner on the PGA Tour (twice winning by one stroke over runner-up Jack Nicklaus).

Romack was the first to experience skyjacking. On Feb. 21, 1968, Romack was aboard Delta Airlines Flight 843 from Chicago to Miami. A man named Lawrence Rhodes pulled a gun on a stewardess, forced her into the cockpit, and ordered the pilot to fly to Cuba. And that's where Romack, the other passengers and the crew wound up for an unscheduled layover. The Associated Press story that appeared in newspapers on Feb. 22, 1968, said the passengers were treated well in Cuba:

Passengers said they were treated well during the airport stopover in Havana. Some were interviewed and photographed by Cuban newsmen, they said. Others brought back souvenirs including Cuban rum, some of which was consumed on the return flight, and political posters.
"They gave us Cuban coffee and juice and permitted us to go through the airport," said Lex Hawkins, 42, a lawyer from Des Moines, Iowa.
"We were given orange juice, lemonade, cigarettes and propaganda," said Don Bedwell, aviation writer for the Miami Herald, who was a passenger.

Romack, as a minor celebrity, received some attention from the press when the passengers arrived back in the U.S., photographed wearing a blazer with "Barbie" stitched on it.

"It was great," Romack said. "I got more publicity out of this than when I won the Women's Amateur."

According to the author of The Skies Belong To Us, the hijacker, Rhodes, eventually made it to Spain before being returned to the U.S. He later was found guilty of a different crime, armed robbery, and sentenced to 25 years in prison.


Rudolph's hijacking happened on Dec. 11, 1968. Rudolph was on board TWA Flight 496 from St. Louis to Nashville to Miami. The hijackers were a couple, a man (who carried a trumpet, according to news reports at the time) and a woman. Hey, love makes you do crazy things.

Once the plane landed in Havana, Rudolph told the Associated Press in articles that appeared in print on Dec. 12, 1968, a Cuban soldier came around and "took down your names, addresses and occupations - I had a hard time getting over to him what a professional golfer was."

Also on board Rudolph's plane was country music legend Tex Ritter (father of actor John Ritter). "It was not bad at all," Ritter said of the forced detour to Cuba. "I think most of the people rather enjoyed it."

Imagine that! Skyjacking was so new and (mostly) not yet violent that some passengers apparently looked on the experience as an adventure.

Once Rudolph and other passengers on the TWA flight were back in the USA, FBI agents showed them photos of fugitive Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, thinking Cleaver might be the highjacker.

The hijacker turned out to be James Patterson, who had brought his wife Gwendolyn along. After reaching Cuba, the couple dropped out of sight for a year, then turned up in Algeria alongside ... Eldrige Cleaver. According to author Koerner, their whereabouts today are unknown.

Next time you're going through airport security, and you're angry and frustrated with delays and intrusions into your privacy and personal space, just remember: Once upon a time in America, airplanes were being hijacked at the rate of one per week.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Time Jack Nicklaus Was Mistaken for Arnold Palmer

A Sports Illustrated reporter in Miami for Game 7 of the NBA Finals:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Justin Rose's Top 10 List on Letterman

After winning the 2013 U.S. Open, Justin Rose got himself on the tee-vee. He headed to New York and made the rounds on a few talk shoes. That included what is almost becoming a tradition: the Masters and U.S. Open winners delivering a Top 10 List on the Late Show with David Letterman.

And Justin Rose made the trip to the Ed Sullivan Theater to deliver Letterman's Top 10 on Tuesday, June 18. The video is below; if you want to skip watching and just read the list, look below the video.

Top Ten Questions People Ask Me About Golf delivered by Justin Rose
10. "There is regular golf, there is miniature golf - how come no giant golf?"
9. "Why don't all balls have dimples?"
8. "Does Obamacare cover the yips?"
7. "Ever get tired of Jim Nantz whispering?"
6. "Would you let President Putin hold your trophy?"
5. "How often do you slap your caddy?"
4. "Is a threesome better than a foursome?"
3. "Can you get me an autograph from PGA Honorary President Allen Wronowski?"
2. "Would you say this is my sweet spot?"
1. "Where's the strangest place you've ever made bogey?"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Careful with that US Open Trophy, Justin!

Here's a photo of new U.S. Open champ Justin Rose walking through the streets of Manhattan, U.S. Open trophy in tow:


Seems a little casual, no? You might want to be a little more careful with that trophy, Justin. Don't want something like this to happen:


Friday, June 14, 2013

The New Dufnering: Throw Your Wedge In the Water

Hey everyone, there's a new form of Dufnering! All together now, let's throw our wedges into the water hazard!

Dufner's wedge toss happened on the fourth hole of his second round at the U.S. Open.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How Merion Messed Up Its Memorial Plaques

There are two plaques at Merion Golf Club commemorating famous things that happened there. You probably know about the Ben Hogan plaque - it's in the 18th fairway at the site of Hogan's famous 1-iron shot in the fourth round in 1950. There's also a plaque on the 11th hole memorializing Bobby Jones' victory at the 1930 U.S. Amateur - the win that completed his Grand Slam.

But did you know that Merion originally screwed up both plaques?

The original Hogan plaque had the wrong date of Hogan's 1-iron shot. The shot happened on June 10, 1950. But the plaque Merion installed had the date as June 11. The erroneous plaque was replaced by a new one in 2000.

And the mistake on the Jones plaque was a real whopper. That plaque identifies Jones by his full name - Robert Tyre Jones Jr. Except that the original plaque gave his names as "Robert Trent Jones Jr." Trent Jones is the architect, not the golfer. Oops! Merion corrected that one by placing the correct name over the incorrect one through the use of a narrow metal strip.

You can see the errors pretty clearly by doing a photo search and comparing.

Let's hope if Merion ever installs a new plaque to commemorate another important event in the club's history that it does a little proofreading first.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Remembering Ouimet - and Why Isn't the 2013 Open at Brookline?

The 2013 U.S. Open is the 100th anniversary of amateur Francis Ouimet's victory that stunned the golf world in 1913, when the local boy beat British legends Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff at Brookline. Ouimet grew up across the street from The Country Club, he was 20 years old, and his caddie was a 10-year-old named Eddie Lowery.

Ouimet's story is told in the book by Mark Frost, The Greatest Game Ever Played, and in the movie of the same name starring Shia LaBeuf.

In 1963, Brookline was the site of another U.S. Open to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ouimet's win. So in 2013, naturally, the Open returned to Brookline on the 100th anniversary. Except that it didn't, of course: the U.S. Open is at Merion this year, not Brookline. Why not?

Former USGA executive director David Fay explained in a Golf Digest article:

That's a sensitive subject. Some members of The Country Club regarded the 2013 Open as a foregone conclusion, a birthright. I like The Country Club, but I think the composite course is the most overrated of America's great courses, if that makes any sense. I love the members' course, and I think the drive up to the clubhouse is one of the most charming in the world, but I didn't--and don't--see it as a good U.S. Open site. My views were formed during the 1988 Open and the 1999 Ryder Cup. I thought there were too many weak and indifferent holes on the course and too many spectator bottlenecks.

... But now came the tough part: convincing The Country Club to consider hosting the 2013 Amateur as a fitting tribute to Ouimet, a two-time Amateur champion. It was not easy, but eventually the club agreed to invite us. We accepted, with alacrity. It will be a terrific U.S. Amateur, but there remain some hurt feelings and anger toward me. That's understandable.


What became of Ouimet? He continued playing great golf, mostly at the U.S. Amateur which he won twice in the years after the 1913 U.S. Open. He also contended again at the Open, but never won it. He became a major figure in amateur golf internationally, working with the USGA, becoming the first non-Brit to captain the R&A. (His 10-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery because a wealthy businessman and major benefactor to amateur golf, and had a role in another event covered by a Mark Frost book, The Match.)

Ouimet also founded a scholarship fund, The Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund. Ouimet died in 1967, but the scholarship fund is still going strong, helping "deserving young men and women who have worked at golf courses in Massachusetts obtain a college education. We provide need-based undergraduate scholarships which are renewable and can be worth up to $10,000 – $40,000 (or more) for four years. The Ouimet Fund is the largest independent scholarship fund in New England."

The Ouimet Fund has posted multiple videos on YouTube, many of them having to do with the 1913 U.S. Open. Here is a recap that includes a few scenes from the movie:

Here is another video showing a reunion among Ouimet and Lowery on the 50th anniversary:

And here's a history of the Ouimet Fund:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top 10 Ways for Tiger, Sergio to Settle their Differences

Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia don't like each other. Their decade-long spat devolved into public insults just a few weeks ago.

Can they get over it? The two stars took a step to putting the controversy (if not the dislike) to rest by shaking hands and talking on the driving range at Merion on Monday prior to the 2013 U.S. Open.

But we think they can do more. We have 10 foolproof ways that Sergio and Tiger can put their problems behind them and move on to a better, healthier relationship.

Top 10 Ways for Tiger, Sergio to Settle their Differences
10. Two words: hot tub
9. Agree to stop hating each other and start hating Matt Kuchar
8. Flamenco dance-off
7. 3-irons at 30 paces
6. Exchange flowers and chocolates
5. Call a moratorium on tricking one another with the ol' pull-my-finger routine
4. Acknowledge the homoerotic tension and agree to "take it slow and see where this leads"
3. Slap fight
2. Oil each other up, pump each other up for ultimate pose-off
1. Girlfriend swapping

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Does the 'Prick Pairing' at the US Open Still Exist?

There's a legend about the U.S. Open pairings that says the USGA, each year, groups together three golfers who are known for being ... difficult. Prickly, you might say. Jerks, others might say. The infamous "prick pairing."

Well, it's not a legend, it's fact. At least it was the last time any USGA official was willing to go on the record to confirm its existence.

John Feinstein wrote about the U.S. Open Prick Pairing in his book The Majors: In Pursuit of Golf's Holy Grail, getting then-executive director of the USGA David Fay to fess up to its existence. The prick pairing was a USGA "tradition" started by Frank Hannigan.

From Feinstein:

"(Fay) had not, however, given up on one of Hannigan's more hallowed traditions: the prick pairing. Hannigan swears he did not give the pairing its name, but he admits that each year he would put three players together he didn't like or who were generally disliked in the golf world. Insiders loved guessing the prick pairing each year, although more often than not it wasn't that difficult."

But Fay retired at the end of the 2010 year. Does the USGA still do this? Fay's successors have certainly maintained the USGA's sense of humor in setting the first- and second-round groupings post-Fay. For example, in 2011 they grouped three guys with rhyming last names: Thomas Levet, Brian Gay and Gregory Havret (and perhaps that was a sly homage to David Fay).

But what about the prick pairing? Look at the 2011 pairings and see if you can spot it. I think I can. Now look at the 2012 pairings. Do you see it? I don't.

The 2012 groupings come out on Friday. Let us know if you think you spot a prick pairing.

Modano, Micheletti Get Engaged

We told you early this year about the romance between hockey legend (and avid golfer) Mike Modano, and onetime Big Break contestant (and pro golf aspirant) Allison Micheletti.

Now these two crazy kids in love have taken it up a notch: They're engaged. Modano made the announcement on his Facebook page in early June. Here's a screen grab:

 
 If you can't read the text (and you probably can't), Modano wrote, "It's official- we're engaged! #couldn'tbehappier".

Allison hasn't said anything directly on point yet on her social media outlets, but she did provide this career update on her own Facebook page: "Quick update! It's been a long road back to recovery after a torn shoulder and nerve issues in my left hand/wrist. Next week I leave for Montreal to start off my summer with a Canadian Tour event. Thank you for all of the support, its been a great year off the course and looking forward to adding to it on the course."

Congratulations to Mike and Allison, best of luck in the future.

Update: And now they are married

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Major League Baseball-LPGA Husband-Wife Both Have Triples on Same Day

There's an LPGA Tour player who is married to a Major League Baseball player, and on Saturday they both had triples! Alas, that's only a good thing in baseball. It was the LPGA player who pointed it out:

Amanda Blumenherst is married to Nate Freiman, who plays for the Oakland Athletics. Nate, who is a 6-foot-8 3B/1B/DH, tripled to deep centerfield in the fifth inning of Oakland's 4-3 win over the White Sox on Saturday, driving in one run.

Meanwhile, at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Blumenherst - who briefly had the second-round lead - was trying to play through very strong winds on a very tough golf course. And on the second hole, she scored a triple-bogey 7.

Two triples in one sporting family on the same day, one of them good, one of them bad. Well, for better or for worse, you know?