Russ, RJ and Mary Wren 
Holes-in-one for the entire family!
Monday, July 9, 2012
By Joe Logan

It’s holes-in-one for the entire family!


Hardly week passes that a course in the area doesn’t send me an email about a golfer who made a hole-in-one at their facility.  But this one, from Donna Horvath at Honeybrook GC, stood out from most.


All three family members of the Wren family, from Morgantown, have aced a hole at Honeybrook.  Mom Mary Wren is the latest.  Who’s next, the family dog?


Thanks to Donna for the following note on the Wrens:


One Family; Three Hole-in-ones


Honeybrook, PA  In order to spend time together, many families share the same hobbies and interests. For three members of the Wren family from Morgantown it’s more than just a hobby. Thirteen-year-old RJ, his mother Mary and father Russ are all skilled golfers. Once or twice a week they golf together to bond and improve their game. And now, the Wren’s have achieved something never before done at their home course, Honeybrook Golf Club. Each family member got a hole-in-one.

In March of 2010, RJ Wren was the first member of his family to score an ace. While out golfing with his father Russ and two friends, RJ drove his ball onto hole 17’s green with a 5-wood and watched it roll right into the hole. He was only ten years old.

A year later in May 2011, his father Russ followed it up with the whole family there to witness. On a difficult par 3, with environmental hazards and

sand traps surrounding the green, Russ hit his 6-iron the perfect distance and received the family’s second hole-in-one.

The Wren’s weren’t satisfied yet. On June 15, 2012 it was Mary’s turn. On the exact same hole her husband completed in a single shot, Mary finished the family legacy with a 7-iron to receive her first hole-in-one ever (and the family’s third).

While RJ’s parents have mostly picked up golf for fun, RJ hopes to someday play college golf. He began golfing when he was 7 and has since won over 30 tournaments. He was two-time Philadelphia Jr. Player of the Year and was GAP (Golf Association of Philadephia) Boys’ Jr.-Jr. winner in 2011. This spring RJ qualified for the 2012 Kid’s World Championship Tournament at Pinehurst, NC. While RJ continues to improve his game and lower his 3-handicap, his contribution to the Wren’s three hole-in-ones won’t be the last history he makes.

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Joan Horvath[7/9/2012 2:09:21 PM]
Way to go Wrens!

It finally happens for Joe Daley
Monday, July 2, 2012
By Joe Logan

After that win at the AT&T National, I’m officially giving up trying to figure out what to make of Tiger Woods and whether he is back or not, or whether he will break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.


I now peek at his career through my fingers, like it was a scary movie – everything is fine until suddenly somebody jumps out from behind a door and whacks you with an ax.


I’d much rather spend a time trying to figure out what the heck suddenly came over Joe Daley winning the Ford Senior Players Championship.   Joe, from Plymouth-Whitemarsh, has been a bridesmaid but never a bride for his entire pro career.  The guy has banged around the various tours for years, never complaining, just moving on to the next tournament, wherever he could get in the field.  A great guy who never quite got it done – and nobody could ever understand why, most of all him.


Even yesterday, as he marched up the 72nd fairway with a stroke lead the victory his to blow, I squirmed in my chair, fingers crossed that something wouldn’t go horribly wrong.


It has happened before, you know.  Remember a few years ago when Joe got that horrible break at PGA Tour Q-School?  He was about to finally earn his card, when a short putt hit the back of the cup and popped out.  Jaws dropped.  No card.  Never seen anything like it, before or since.  At the time, I remember thinking, "That could only happen to Joe Daley."


Now the guy’s won a major on the Champions Tour.  You won’t find a more deserving guy.


Here’s a little video a nice column on Daley by Larry Dorman of the PGA Tour.

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I hate to think...
Monday, June 18, 2012
By Joe Logan

Whew, did Tiger Woods just do that?


Did he really get pretty much every sports fan in the world psyched up over the possibility of watching him work his magic of old at the U.S. Open, only to fizzle on the weekend without so much as a whimper.  I mean, watching him shoot 75-73 on Saturday and Sunday to become a non-factor, was embarrassing to watch.  Imagine what it must have been like for him.


In the old days, after failing to mount any kind of final-round change in the major, Tiger would have been seething, furious at himself.  But yesterday, in his post-round interview, it was as if the fight had gone out of him.  Tiger shrugged off mediocrity and defeat like he didn’t have a care in the world.


I hate to think this is the new Tiger.  I hate to think he can live with himself as a guy who slides down the leaderboard on Sunday.  I hate to think Tiger no longer has what it takes.




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Golf, gambling, Idaho and me
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
By Joe Logan

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho -- Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had heard of the golf course with the floating green – not the island green, like the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, but the floating  green.  But I had no idea it was in Northern Idaho, of all places, and I didn’t know it was at an upscale resort on a giant lake, Coeur d’Alene Resort and Hotel.


Now I know, and now I have played (bogeyed) the famous "floating green" at  Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course, where a boat actually ferries you from tee to green, which on the recent day I was there was playing 175 yards (185 into the wind).


I came out here to Idaho a few days ago with a group of golf and travel writers.  We were brought together by Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel, in nearby Worley, so they could show off the $100 million upgrade to their casino, hotel, steakhouse, spa and their top-notch resort course, Circling Raven GC. 


To make the trip even more worthwhile, they threw in a round at the aforementioned Coeur d’Alene GC, plus a third round at another course about 90 minutes north, The Idaho Club Lake & Golf Retreat, a swanky affair with pricey mountaintop homes overlooking a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.  When we weren’t on the golf course, we were treated to a couple of sumptuous dinners – the kind where the chef comes out and explains each course – and a deep-tissue massage at the spa.


There were seven of us writer types on the trip, mostly from the Western U.S. (San Diego, L.A., Portland) and western Canada (Calgary), because all three properties we visited pull most of their business from the West and Canada.   One writer in the group was from Michigan.  I was the token East Coaster.  Northern Idaho is hardly a destination for gamblers or golfers from Philadelphia but they extended the invitation and, hey, I’d never been to Idaho.


Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel


Back home in the heavily populated East, we might be inclined to describe the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel as being out in the middle of nowhere.  Technically, it is out in the middle of nowhere, just off the cloverleaf near U.S. Route 95, which is not to be confused with I-95.


Here, they think of their casino/hotel as being a beacon of entertainment, gambling and quality golf free from the congestion and traffic gnarls of, say, Center City Philadelphia.  All I know is that your to get here, you fly into Spokane, WA., then hop a shuttle bus for the 40-minute ride to Worley, in the Idaho panhandle.


Naturally, I wondered why they call it Coeur d’Alene Casino Hotel if it’s in Worley, 27 miles from the town of Coeur d’Alene?  That’s because just about everything is called Coeur d’Alene, after the Indian tribe of the same name.  The land, the casino hotel and golf course are owned and operated lock, stock and barrel by the tribe.   Not so for the town of Coeur d’Alene nor the similarly-named resort hotel.


My fellow writers and I were in new part of the hotel, where suites are equipped with two big-screen TVs and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a sort of botanical garden and preserve.  They told me that if I look out the windows long enough, I might eventually spot a moose or two.  I never did, although a moose did wander by one of our foursomes on the golf course.


I’m not a much of gambler so the casino downstairs was wasted on me.   I walked it several times on the way to a restaurant and the gift shop, however, and I couldn’t help but notice it had one of the best ventilation systems I’ve come across in any casino anywhere.  The cigarette smoke wasn’t that bad.


Circling Raven GC


A two-minute walk from my hotel room was Coeur d’Alene Casino Hotel’s golf course, Circling Raven.  I played it Monday afternoon, half-pooped from the long flight, and again Tuesday morning, when I was much fresher.


Designed in 2003 by Gene  Bates, design partner of Fred Couples, Circling Raven is spread out over a vast expanse of 620 acres.  It’s a terrific resort course, with generous, forgiving fairways, big easy-going greens and vistas of the Idaho countryside and mountains beyond.   There’s very little water to worry about and no beastly forced carries, assuming you play from the proper tees; in two rounds I lost only one ball, when I plunked a tee shot into an environmentally protected area.


I was not surprised to see that Circling Raven ranks 66th on Golfweek’s 2012 list of Top 100 Resort Courses, or that Golf Digest ranks it among America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses and Golf Magazine includes it among Top 100 Courses You Can Play.


Coeur d’Alene Resort and Hotel


I’d never been to Idaho before, but I imaged it would be full of rugged terrain, ski resorts, and craggy rock formations set against rich blue skies.  What I did not envision was a ritzy high-rise resort and spa on a 25-mile long lake with a marina like you see at the Jersey Shore.  Nor did I expect to find a $200-plus-a-round golf course that hugs the coastline of the lake, which is so deep the U.S. Navy supposedly uses it for submarine training and testing.


As pricey as it is, Coeur d’Alene Resort and Hotel attracts precisely the kind of affluent clientele you’d expect.  The golf course turned out to be not only much better than I expected, it was as immaculately groomed and conditioned as any course I can recall playing in years.  It’s one of those courses where you are required to take a cart and a forecaddie.  (The forecaddies wear those white Augusta National-like jump suits and dash around from ball to ball, with a laser gun.  By the time you get to your ball, your forecaddie has all the pertinent info: yardage, pin placement and recommendations about where to miss and where not to.


I must also say that in 50 years of playing golf, it was the first time I encountered custom-built carts, with tilted steering wheels, carpeted floors, tee dispensers, built-in trash cans and a hood that opened to reveal an ice chest and a place to store sandwiches and sodas.


The star of the course, obviously, is the par 3 14th, which is billed as "the world’s only floating green."  Golf Channel did a story on it for Golf in America. The green is 15,800 square feet, weights 5 million pounds (give or take, depending on the moisture in the soil) and can be moved to play anywhere from 95 to 200 yards.  On average, they set it up at about 147 yards.


It’s a cool hole, obviously, if slightly gimmicky.  If you ask me, even without the 14th, it’s a memorable round of golf.


The Idaho Club Lake and Golf Retreat


On our last full day, they piled us back into the shuttle bus for the 90-minute ride north  to the town of Sandpoint for a taste of Idaho that fulfilled every expectation I had.   If Coeur d’Alene Casino and Hotel is a getaway for casino day trippers, weekenders and "buddy" golf trips, and Coeur d’Alene Resort and Hotel is a vacation spot for couples and families with a few more bucks to blow, The Idaho Club Lake & Golf Retreat is the private playground for the moneyed class – at least that was the original idea.


It was clear from the moment the guard waved our bus through the gate, The Idaho Club was built to be a second club and getaway for people accustomed to living on Easy Street.  Photo gallery.


It’s got a first-class, rough-hewn Jack Nicklaus Signature Course that wends its way through the trees and streams, overlooked by multi-million dollar dotting the hillsides.  In the promotional brochure, The Idaho Club notes that the New York Times described Sandpoint as "Old West Atmosphere in a Sporting Paradise" and Rand McNally named it the "most beautiful small town in America."


All has not gone well for The Idaho Club.  Not long after they threw open the doors, the economy tanked, the housing market bottomed out and the golf boom fizzled.   Lawsuits flew, lenders foreclosed, then, if that wasn’t enough, the magnificent log cabin clubhouse burned to the ground. 


Still, The Idaho Club limps on, with a steely resolve and sunny outlook, if only about 75 members.    The people who own it and run it couldn’t be nicer.  They are convinced that times will get better and that The Idaho Club will live out its potential.  I wish them luck.








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White Manor CC: Over-looked, under-appreciated
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
By Joe Logan

If anyone is interested in starting a debate about what is the most-overlooked, under-appreciated course in the area, I hereby nominate White Manor CC.


I played there last week with a group of 25 or 30 course raters from Golfweek magazine and, so far as I could tell, every one of us came away highly impressed – a couple even mentioned being blown away. (Bausch Collection Photo Gallery)


I know that Bradley Klein, the architecture editor for Golfweek, was more than pleasantly surprised.  And after the round, over beers and conversation, I talked to raters in town from Chicago, upstate New York, Maryland and North Jersey who all wanted to know why White Manor, in Malvern, doesn’t get more talk and more respect on the Philadelphia golf scene?


I didn’t have a good answer, except to say it’s a tough league around here.


It’s not like I’m a stranger to White Manor; I’ve played 10 o 12 rounds there in the past 10 years.  I walked it but didn’t play it in the late 1990s, before the club brought in architect Bobby Weed (GC at Glen Mills) in 2002 to do a complete overhaul.  Boy, did he ever.


With the club’s approval, Weed took out hundreds of trees, transforming White Manor’s original early 1960s layout from tight, tree-lined corridors to a course with wide-open vistas.  Weed also shifted several green complexes, repositioned and rebuilt bunkers, and reimagined shot angles across the course.


In those days, White Manor one of a handful of predominantly Jewish country clubs in the area, along with Meadowlands, Green Valley, Radnor Valley and Philmont.  Not all the members at White Manor bought into the idea of the renovation, let alone the cost, and the club suffered an exodus of about 80 members.  There were concerns about the club’s future.


In 2003, when they unveiled the new-look course to much fanfare in the local media, I was fortunate enough to play the round with Weed, who painstakingly explained every change he made on every hole.  I remember liking the course, but nothing like I do now.  At the time, I didn’t have a full appreciation of the dramatic changes Weed and the club had pulled off.  Plus, it somehow felt too new in a city where the golf scene is largely defined and dominated by classic-era gems.


In the years since the renovation, White Manor has recouped many of the lost members; the club has also developed enormous pride in its course, with good reason.  No conversation with a White Manor member goes on too long before they ask: (a) What do you think of the course? (b) Why doesn’t it get the love we think it deserves?


Perhaps because of the love denied, White Manor members are constantly on the lookout for a tournament, a qualifier, an event --  anything that will get the course better known on the local and national stage.


Until my round last week, I thought they were largely kidding themselves.  Yes, White Manor is now first-rate, but even among modern courses, a couple of locals stood taller in my mind: Philadelphia Cricket’s Militia Hill course and The ACE Club.


Now, I’ve come to believe that White Manor gives nary an inch to either Militia Hill or ACE.  It has matured and evolved oh-so-nicely in nine years, and superintendent Donald Brown had the course groomed to perfection last week.


As much as the course has changed in nine years, so has the membership – it’s now 60 percent non-Jewish.  The golf chairman is a proud Irishman.


Whether White Manor has a shot to crack Golfweek’s list of Top 100 Modern Courses, I don’t know.   But I can say with certainty that it’s no longer a wallflower on the Philadelphia golf scene.

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Bill McCrossan[6/12/2012 10:53:18 AM]
Thanks Joe for your kind words regarding our fantastic course! The Proud Irishman / WMCC
RC[5/24/2012 5:15:16 AM]
Thanks for the piece on White Manor Joe. A terrific golf course and the Weed renovation work is indistinguishable from what pre-dates it. Glad that the rater group was impressed. I have only played it once thanks to a mutual friend and canít wait to get back.

The GolfFit Chronicles, Week 4 & 5
Thursday, May 10, 2012
By Joe Logan

The FitGolf Chronicles, Week 4 & 5


Now, we’re really getting somewhere.


In my first three weekly sessions at FitGolf, physical therapist and owner David Ostrow concentrated on "releasing"  the major muscles in my hip and lower back.  In each case, Ostrow,  a large man with fingers and thumbs that could puncture a propane tank, spent 40 minutes or more working his fingers deeper and deeper into my tight and constricted muscles until they finally released.


It’s hard to describe the resulting sensation, other than to say you get up from his treatment table feeling like a rusty Tin Man who just got a couple of drops of oil in the right spots.  


During each session, Ostrow would explain why he was doing what he was doing, when he was doing it.   He likened the process of unlocking the new and more limber me to constructing a house.  Things have to be done in the proper, logical order.  You can’t build the roof until you’ve laid the foundation and erected the walls.  Four weeks in, we’re still laying foundation.


Which brings us to my hamstrings. With my hip and back muscles, I sort of knew they were tight and inflexible; it’s hard not to know that when your golf swing has devolved into mostly arms, without benefit of much shoulder and hip turn.


Eggs, no hammy


But my hamstrings are another story entirely.  I didn’t need Ostrow to tell me just how bad, how tight, they had become -- I could feel it myself.  For years, I’ve been trying to stretch my hammys, to little or no avail.  I’d work out at my neighborhood YMCA, where Jim, the PT guy, would get me down on my back and push of first one leg, then the other.  I’d cringe in pain and misery.


Until Ostrow enlightened me, one thing I didn’t realize about the sorry state of my hamstrings is that they affect so much else, up to and including my posture when I’m addressing a golf ball.  I’m 6-foot-1 and at address, I tend to slump over the golf ball.  My back, from hips to head, is not ramrod straight, as it should be.  But according to Ostrow, my poor posture wasn’t a back issue so much as a hamstring issue.  Get those puppies stretched out properly and my back would straighten.


Once I was on the treatment table, it didn’t take Ostrow long to determine that my left hammy was much tighter than my right.  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, my left hammy was a 6 or 7 on the tightness scale.  Lying on my back, he could only lift my left leg about 45 degrees off the table before I was crying, "Uncle."  Normal is about 90 degrees.



Ostrow rolled me over onto my stomach and went to work "releasing" my left hammy.


"It’s the tighter of the two, and it’s shorter," said Ostrow, as he worked.  "I envision it as knotted and bunched, like a wound up rubber band."


Four sessions


So important are the hamstrings to the golf swing that we will spend the next four sessions getting them released and stretched out:   An hour on the upper part of the left hammy, an hour next week on the lower part of the same muscle.  Then, two weeks on the right hamstring, upper and lower.


"What you have a job hazard," said Ostrow.  "I call it the executive disorder or executive dysfunction."


Like millions of golfers, I spend the bulk of my day sitting at a desk in front of a computer.  In the sitting position, your hamstrings are contracted by about three inches -- even more if you tuck one leg under the other.  This affliction isn’t confined to desk jockeys – same thing applies sales reps who spend all behind the wheel of a car.


The problem, said Ostrow, is that over time, you hamstrings comes to believe that the shortened position is the normal, relaxed position.  They adapt accordingly, becoming permanently shorter.  Ironically, in our quest to stretch the hamstrings, we can occasionally do more harm than good. 


"A lot of people stretch too hard, until it hurts," said Ostrow.  That, in turn, can activate what he calls the body’s "stretch reflexor."


"When we stretch too much, the body gives us pain to warn that you are going to strain the muscle," he said.  "The body’s reaction to that is to actually contract the muscle that is being overstretched."


Week 5


The following week, Ostrow was out of town on business, so my session was with his deputy, physical therapist John LaRue.  While Ostrow worked on my upper left hammy, LaRue worked lower down, closer to the back of the knee.


Midway through the session, as John was describing several ways in which a bum hamstring limits your mobility, he took a not-so-wild guess at a case in point: how he suspected I retrieve a golf ball from the bottom of the cup.


"I’d put money on it that one leg comes up, you bend your back down as much as you can, then give a little in the front knee as you reach down with your left hand," said John.  "Meanwhile, you’re learning on your putter with your right hand."


That is exactly how I fish a golf ball out of the cup.


In the days since, the work on my left hamstring has made more difference in my golf swing and, indeed, my non-golfing activities than anything so far.  I can bend over more easily.  It is a noticeable improvement.


This afternoon, we move to my right hamstring.  I look forward to it.



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There is a reason The Big Miss is No. 1
Thursday, May 3, 2012
By Joe Logan

I’ve just finished reading The Big Miss, Hank Haney’s revealing new book on his six years as Tiger Woods’ coach.   I know several people who didn’t like it, dismissed it and accused Haney of betraying Tiger; maybe so, but I couldn’t put it down.


Haney has come under some criticism for writing the book at all, even from fellow coaches Butch Harman and Rick Smith, who suggest PGA Tour swing coaches assume a vow of confidentiality, like a priest or any attorney.


On the other hand, The Big Miss is No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, a rare feat for a golf book.  That’s because it is the most intimate insider-look we are likely to get at one of the most dominant, remarkable figures in the history of sports.  Haney goes where no authorized biography of Tiger is ever going to go.


True, there were several anecdotes and stories that caused me to wince, agreeing that Haney had wandered in to territory that probably should have been off-limits.


To wit: Haney writing about what appeared to him to became a rather distant, cool, relationship with his then-wife, Elin, before the crack-up in his personal life.   Haney also writes that at dinners in the couple’s home, when Tiger would finish, he was up and outtathere.  It’s a small thing, but Haney even recalls one evening, when he and Tiger were watching a ballgame on TV together, when Tiger went to the kitchen and returned with a Popsicle for himself, never offering one to Hank.  That small slight stuck in Haney’s craw for years, seeming to perfectly illustrate Tiger’s self-absorption or narcissism.


The objection that many people, including me, have about Haney including some of those details is that he came by them as a result of being a frequent overnight guest in the Woods’ home.   Compared to the kind of knife-in-the-back recollections we get in the typical Washington or Hollywood tell-all memoirs, Haney’s stories are tame.


Who can blame Tiger for feeling his privacy has been invaded by a man he called a friend.  But let’s be honest: Nothing Haney reveals about Tiger or his marriage is nearly as devastatingly revealing as Tiger’s own self-destructive behavior.


Actually, whether Haney and Tiger were "friends" or not is very much a running theme throughout The Big Miss.  Tiger called Haney a friend, and Haney certainly wanted to be his friend, but in the end, he wonders whether Tiger is even capable of true and deep friendships.


Much of the book details what Haney believes is the impenetrable bubble Tiger has constructed around himself.  Tiger knows everybody, and he is cordial with plenty of people, often referring to them as "friends." But in his time around Tiger, Haney observes little of what he considers genuine friendship.


From Haney’s vantage point, Tiger was never really close to famous athletes like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.  And when Tiger’s personal life exploded, he even shut out the few guys who thought they were true confidants, like Mark O’Meara and John Cook.  Haney knew he certainly was no intimate confidant.  The only two people Tiger seemed close to were his agent, Mark Steinberg, and a neighborhood high school kid he played practice rounds with at Isleworth, Corey Carroll.


Much of what I liked about the book is that it confirms so many suspicions we all had about Tiger:  That the expectations heaped on him and strain of being Tiger Woods weighed on him much more heavily than he ever let on; that even at his peak, in 2000-2002, Tiger had much more self-doubt than we knew; that despite his protestations to the contrary, Tiger knew exactly what people (and the media) were saying and writing about him; that Tiger can be an aloof, remote, cold-hearted bastard, even to the handful of people seemingly closest to him.


Haney doesn’t knock Tiger off his pedestal The Big MissTiger had already done that to himself.  But Haney does give us plenty of insider information and evidence to show that Tiger was, and is, just another flawed human being, albeit one with nearly superhuman ability and determination.


As Haney has pointed out time and again, most of the book is quite positive about Tiger.  Haney regards Tiger as the greatest player who ever lived, even if he doesn’t break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.  Haney is flat-out in awe of Tiger.  He finally just decided that the pressure of being Tiger’s coach and the indignities of dealing with his mood swings, was sucking the life out of him.

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