Jim Finegan 
Jim Finegan update
Sunday, February 10, 2013
By Joe Logan

The good news for friends and fans of Jim Finegan is that he is out of Bryn Mawr Hospital and in Devon Manor, a rehab center, where he could be for a couple of weeks. 


Finegan, 83, the golf historian and author, broke his hip and two bones in his leg when he slipped on the stairs in his Villanova home on Jan. 30. 


"He has been through so much, but he was fine this morning," Harriett, Finegan’s his wife of 60 years, told me Saturday night.  His pain is largely gone, now that doctors have adjusted his medication, she said; his spirits are also better.


"He was talking like a maniac this morning," said Mrs. Finegan.


Finegan is already asking when he can go home, but signs are he’ll be at Devon Manor for a couple of weeks, maybe more, said his wife.  "We’ll see how it goes," said Mrs. Finegan.


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Jim Finegan, golf historian and author 
Say a prayer for Jim Finegan
Monday, February 4, 2013
By Joe Logan

Say a prayer for Jim Finegan.


Finegan, 83, golf historian and author, has been in Bryn Mawr Hospital since Wednesday, after a fall on the stairs in his Villanova home.


Finegan, with his arms full of ice cream and Diet Coke per his usual routine as he headed off to bed at 1 a.m., fell only one step, but it was enough to break his hip, his femur and a third bone in his leg. He underwent surgery to repair the breaks on Thursday.


"Saturday was terrible but the past two days have been very good," said Harriet Finegan, his bride of 60 years, who heard the commotion when he fell and discovered him.


No word on how long Finegan will be in the hospital.  As of this afternoon, Mrs. Finegan said he was not yet up to having visitors or taking phone calls. 


Also no word on whether this will bring down the curtain on Finegan’s golfing life.  No one is more avid and, in his day, Finegan was quite the amateur player, winning multiple club championships at Philadelphia Country Club.


Finegan was already used to enduring chronic pain, suffering from a bad back for more than 15 years. 

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Merion and the í13 Open, Part 1
Thursday, January 31, 2013
By Joe Logan

With the U.S Open at Merion GC only five months away, our vast staff here at MyPhillyGolf (me) is looking for ways to start teasing the big event.


So I called my pal Jeff Silverman, who for the past couple of years has been working on a new history of the great championships at Merion’s fabled East Course over the past 100 years.  The book is due out in the months after the Open.


Jeff’s exhaustive research has made him one of the foremost experts on Merion.  He dug up details nobody else knew about, he discovered a myth or two and he spent hours on the phone interviewing big names and anyone who could help tell the story of Merion.


All this stuff is rattling around in Jeff’s head, which is why I asked him to sit down and chat – in front of my video camera.  We spoke for an hour in his home office, and I am in the process of cutting the video into 10 or 12 bite-sized morsels.


The first one, which I posted this week on the MyPhillyGolf Youtube page, runs the longest, just over six minutes.  I’ll post the others in the coming weeks, as I edit them.


Here is Part 1:








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What the nurse saw
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
By Joe Logan

Last night, for no particular reason, my mind began to wander back to early August and the days after I had returned home to recover from hip replacement surgery. Ugh.


Even with all the narcotic painkillers, I was dopey and uncomfortable, unable to think straight.  It took me 10 minutes to get up and down the stairs, and once I got to the top or the bottom, I needed a walker get across the room.


I was constantly worried about falling, which would have been disastrous, potentially ripping out all the metal staples that sutured my hip.   Taking a shower was an ordeal.  Talking a walk outside was out of the question.  I was homebound, limited to spending my days moving (slowly) from a dining room chair to the couch.  I felt like crap and looked like crap.


Two or three times a week, a nurse came to my house to draw blood and a rehab lady would check on me, too.  They were kind enough not to comment on how exactly disheveled I looked.


One day, as I waited for the nurse to arrive to draw blood, I turned on the TV and began flipping around the channels.  Wouldn’t you know, I stumbled across an encore presentation of an episode of Inside Golf on Comcast SportsNet, where I am a frequent member of the guest panel on the show’s weekly segment called "Teed Off."


In a bit of remarkable timing, just as that week’s Teed Off segment began, my doorbell rang.  It was the nurse.  I hobbled to the front door, then ushered her into the den.  In an even more unlikely bit of timing, as the nurse and I stood there, whose mug should fill the big-screen, high-def TV but my very own?


"Look, I’m on TV," I said to the nurse.


She looked at the TV, then at a me.  The me on TV was smiling and neatly turned out, happily gabbing about golf. (The show had been taped a few weeks earlier, after all.)  The me standing in front of her was pathetic, whimpering mess, unshaven, hair sticking in her every direction, in cruddy gym shorts and a tee shirt.


"Hmmm," said the nurse, which I took to mean, "Seriously, that’s the same person?"  She looked skeptical and, frankly, maybe a little creeped out.


"Should I know you?" she asked.


"Do you play golf?" I asked.  She didn’t.  "Then no," I said.


Without another word, and with my image still flickering on the TV screen, we both assumed our usual positions for the bloodletting.


I’d love to know what she told her friends.

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Golf: It could be worse -- a lot
Sunday, January 20, 2013
By Joe Logan

We hear so much about the woes of golf – rounds are flat, many courses and clubs are fighting for their lives – that it’s easy to forget that our game has fared better than most.  Many recreational sports and activities are hurting worse.  Tennis, camping, hiking, canoeing, biking – they’ve all got their own battles.


There is a big story in today’s (1/20/13) Travel Section of the New York Times that says snowboarding is in steep decline.  Just a few years ago, snowboarding was hip and growing, seemingly destined to overtake skiing.  It hasn’t happened.  The momentum has shifted, reversed even.  Skiing is back; snowboarding is looking more and more like a fad that could fizzle.


"Simply put," says the Times story, "it’s cool to be on two planks again." 


Golf, while facing its share of troubles, has been around for 400 years and is no passing fad.   Golf has a history, tradition, devoted following and, dare I say, future that is the envy of just about every sporting endeavor there is, with the possible exception of the NFL.  Of course, it remains to be seen whether the NFL will be around in 400 years, especially now that we know that brain damage is on the table when it comes to football.  The only brain damage golf has ever caused is from humiliation, self-loathing and torment.


While golf as an industry always has and always will ebb and flow, golf as a game and best possible way to spend four hours outdoors will enjoy an audience for another 400 years.  

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Steve8x[1/22/2013 8:07:47 PM]
One of the problems with golf is that it takes more than 4 hours to play on a weekend overcrowded public course. Add in travel time to and from and itís a burden on families with young children who are playing soccer, baseball, etc. Factor in the difficulty of the game and itís easy to see why the game is losing ground among young marrieds.

Abagail Van Buren  
Remembering Dear Abby
Thursday, January 17, 2013
By Joe Logan

This has nothing to do with golf, but when I saw today that the original "Dear Abby," Pauline Phillips, had died at the age of 94, I had to smile.  Not because she died, but because I couldn’t help but think back to our time together.


Long, long ago, in a faraway galaxy – specifically, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, circa 1980  -- before I took to writing about golf to put Cheerios on the table, I wrote about TV and movie stars and famous writers and celebrities of all sorts.  I interviewed hundreds of them.


I’d come up with three or four story ideas, pitch them to my editors, then hop a flight to Hollywood or New York for a few days of leg work and interviews.  On one of those trips to Los Angeles, I did a profile of "Dear Abby," then very much at the top of her game.  Syndicated in more than 1,000 newspapers, with millions of devoted readers, Abby was quite influential and served as a sort of moral compass for the nation, in some ways.


We had corresponded in letters – yes, it was so long ago people wrote letters – but I had never met her or spoken to her when she came to pick me up at my hotel, the Century Plaza in Beverly Hills.  At the appointed hour, I stood outside the hotel, watching as Mercedes, Bentleys and limos rolled up to the front door, picking up and dropping off.


Eventually, a long, black limo stopped in front of me and the back window went down. "Joe?" said a female voice from inside the car.  "Are you Joe?"


"Yes," I said, lowering my head to look into the backseat.


There, in the dim glow of the backseat, swathed in a luxurious mink coat, sat the tiniest little woman I had ever seen.   "Dear Abby" couldn’t have been 5-feet tall standing on an apple crate.  Her lips were bright red, her dark hair coiffed to perfection.  She was definitely dolled up for our "date."


I climbed into the backseat, and off we went to some very small, very swanky French restaurant in Beverly Hills.  It was an evening I will never forget. 


For one thing, Dear Abby wouldn’t let me use a tape recorder.  The reason, I was left to conclude, was because she had a slight speech impediment, a sort of lisp, that she was sensitive about.  No tape recorder meant that all dinner long, I would have to scribble notes as fast and furiously as I could.


The other thing is, like many celebrities, Dear Abby was demur and didn’t want to talk too much about herself – until you got her going.  Which I did.  Then she talked and talked and talked – about her early life growing up in the Midwest, about her life as a rich, powerful columnist married to a millionaire businessman and, of course, about her millions of readers.


At one point, I had written so many notes in my notebook, Dear Abby took pity on me and stopped talking so I could catch my breath.  She took my cramped hand and massaged it until I was ready for Round 2.


After dinner, we hopped back into the limo for the drive over to her home, which was not on the poor side of town.  She showed me her office, where she, not some assistant, actually tapped out responses to readers on an IBM Selectric typewriter.  I remember wondering how a woman who lived a life of such privilege, and who was so far removed from the troubles and concerns of ordinary folks, could possibly dispense such sound advice.  But more often than not, Dear Abby did just that, offering 40 years of smart, sensible, sensitive replies. 


Somewhere, in a box in my basement, I still have a handful of letters from Dear Abby.  I might go try to find them now.

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Eleanor[1/21/2013 8:03:46 AM]
Do you still have that collage you gave to Daddy that had her picture and I think a letter from her? It hung on his wall until he died.
Joe[1/19/2013 9:18:37 PM]
Yes, we talked at length about Ann Landers. They did indeed grow up twins, "Eppie" and "Popo," in the Midwest. As columnists, they were actually competitors and rivals.
steve8x[1/19/2013 3:39:44 PM]
Joe, Did she talk about her twin sister- Ann Landers?

My golfing agenda for 2013
Thursday, January 10, 2013
By Joe Logan

Here it is 10 days into 2013 and I am still fooling around writing a blog about the coming year.  So far, I’ve got nothing – but not for lacking of trying.


I’ve made two or three false starts.  I’ve begun typing furiously and with the best of intentions about what I’d like to see happen in golf in 2013.  I’ve also taken a run at my Top 10 predictions for the year.


Of course, no way I could have predicted the first tournament of the year, in the paradise of Maui, would get rained out and blown out for four straight days.  More of my navel-gazing has been devoted to thinking about what Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy will do.


I’ve made lists, jotted down witty observations and dark forecasts.  And each time, afterward, I read over the blog, then hit the "spike" key.  That’s because I eventually realized none of that stuff mattered to me this year – not like it used to.


If Tiger finally ends his majors draught and wins No. 15, good for him. But whatever happens with Tiger won’t keep me up nights.  Ditto for Phil, who seems to be at a stage in his career where he’s looking for fresh challenges.  Rory is good, obviously, the best there is, but nothing he says or does moves my "Excite-o-meter" very much.


What I’ve come to realize is that for me, all that really matters in golf during 2013 are (1) the U.S. Open at Merion and (2) my own enjoyment of the game – not necessarily in that order.


Who among us doesn’t want the Open at Merion to be a huge success for Philadelphia,  for Merion and for old classic golf courses everywhere?  I can’t wait.  I think it will be the most memorable Open in years.


But personally, I’m ever more pumped about my own golf game.  I want to play more this year, I want to enjoy it more and I want to get back to golf courses I haven’t played in years, maybe ever.  I want to take a good golf trip this year.  I want to his fewer stupid shots, fewer putts that don’t even sniff the hole.  I want to play rounds with friends during which we never write down a score on a hole.


That’s another thing: I’ve reached a point in my golfing life – perhaps inevitable with age and perspective – when I care less and less about my score, or my handicap.  When I play a crappy round, I don’t beat myself up like I used to.   Because, let’s face it, what’s the point?


I’ve got a couple of young friends I like to play with because they blow the ball 50 yards past me.  It’s fun watching them go all Dustin Johnson.  But I also enjoy playing with a couple of older buddies who are constantly waving me to move up to the forward tees with them, where the golf course is so much kinder and gentler.  For a while there, I felt guilty moving up; not any more.  With age come certain entitlements, and I’ve earned them.


I’ll tell you something else, nothing has made me appreciate good health and an active life like the hip replacement surgery I had last summer.  I hated being sidelined for three months during pre- and post-surgery.  I hated missing the lazy late summer afternoons on the golf course, sneaking in a quick nine holes before the sun went down.


Every measure of success I have for the coming year of golf wouldn’t have meant diddly-squat to me a few years ago.  Now they mean everything.


Happy golfing in 2013.  I hope you’ve got goals of your own.

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