Why I Play Where I Play
Thursday, May 27, 2010
By Joe Logan

Today, MyPhillyGolf launched what I hope will become a popular new feature: Why I Play Where I Play.


It is intended to be an occasional essay whose purpose is obvious from the title.  Let me be the first to admit that I totally appropriated the idea from Esquire magazine, which years ago had a similar feature called, "Why I Live Where I Live," featuring essays by some of my favorite writers.


To get "Why Play Where I Play" started, I cast out a line to several well-traveled golfing friends.  Steve Shaffer, a semi-retired lawyer and hopeless golf addict, was the first to take the bait.  He dubbed himself The Vagabond Golfer.


There are many reasons to favor a certain golf course or courses.  Quality, conditioning, price, proximity, the status of the club or course, difficulty (or ease) of the course, friendly staff and tasty hotdogs are only a few.  For some golfers, "Why I Play Where I Play" no doubt boils down to force or habit or lack of curiosity about what else is out there.  You might have different ideas of your own.


While I will seek out "Why I Play Where I Play" columns from golfers I think you might enjoy reading about, the feature will only reach its full potential if ordinary readers of MyPhillyGolf also get into the spirit.  Half the fun of being a golfer is talking about golf and golf courses.


All it takes is 500 or so words.  If you can write, terrific.  If you’ve got a good story to tell but you’re not so confident of your writing skills, I can help you with a little editing and ghostwriting.


One of my biggest goals for MyPhillyGolf is to help create sort of a virtual golf community in cyberspace.  "Why I Play Where I Play" can help.


If you’re game, drop me an  email.

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The Muni Golfer[5/28/2010 9:14:06 AM]
Joe, Great idea!

George Forster winning Haverford in 2008 
Haverford Trust Company Golf Classic
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
By Joe Logan

If you ever want to check out how well the local club pros can play, a good place to start would be the Haverford Trust Company Golf Classic, June 1 at Sunnybrook Golf Club in Plymouth Meeting.


What makes the Haverford a big deal?  It’s the biggest paycheck the club pros play for all year -- $42,500 this year for first place.


By virtue of the prize money alone, the Haverford qualifies as one of three majors for the Philadelphia Section PGA.  The others are the Philadelphia Open Championship in July, a prestigious event run by the Golf Association of Philadelphia, and the three-day, season-ending Section Championship in late September.


The Haverford, of course, is mostly, if not all, all about the hard, cold cash.   That’s the way Haverford Trust founder and vice chairman George Connell wanted it when he began the tournament 14 years ago, in 1997.


Connell’s idea was to create a tournament in which, say, a young assistant pro could make more money in one day playing golf than he could all year working in a pro shop.


Past winners include a Who’s Who of local club pros, including George Forster, head pro at Radnor Valley CC, in 2008; Dave Quinn, head pro at Links Golf Club, in 2001 and 2005; and Dave Roberts, assistant pro at Cedarbrook CC, in 2002.


Last year, Travis Deibert, an assistant pro at Commonwealth National GC, won in a play-off against Brian Kelly, head pro at Bucknell GC, collecting $40,000.  What made Deibert’s victory all the more compelling is that he was soon to be married.


For golf fans, the Haverford is spectator-friendly.  You can walk the course and follow your favorite pro, or you can do like most people and hang around at the 18th green, watching guys come away with high hopes or busted dreams.

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Pete Georgiady, hickory historian, at Philadelphia Cricket Club 
1910 U.S. Open Redux
Monday, May 24, 2010
By Joe Logan

For as long as I have looked at old photos and news reels from an earlier era of golf, I’ve wondered about the difference between those old hickory-shafted clubs of yesteryear and the high-tech armaments have enjoy today.  Now I have a pretty good idea.


On Sunday, to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the 1910 U.S. Open at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s St. Martin’s course, the club invited members and a handful of guests to play nine holes using authentic equipment from back in the day.


Nobody had to rummage through attics or yard sales to come up with the equipment.   It turns out there are companies that rent out the stuff, like Play Hickory in San Diego, which shipped the Cricket Club two crates full of bags, clubs and modern day versions of the old Bramble ball.


To make day feel even more authentic, quite a few of the 50 or so members participating went to the trouble to dress up in the garb of the day.


How did the old clubs play?  Not nearly as bad as I expected.


My feather-light canvas bag came with six clubs:  a brassie, a small-headed fairway wood with about 15 degrees of loft; a long iron with the loft of a 2 or 3 iron; a mid-iron with the loft of about a 6-iron; a mashie niblick, which approximated an 8-iron; a niblick, which was sort of combination PW and SW; and a simple heel-shafted putter.


None of the clubs had anything like the heft of today’s equipment, and the grips were simple wraps of leather.  The ball, which had convex dimples, felt like any harder rubber ball.


From my first swipe of a tee shot with the brassie, it was obvious this was going to take some getting used to.  The hickory shaft had the whip of, say, today’s senior shafts, only without the consistency.  But the more noticeable difference was the torque.  You could actually feel the club head twisting during the downswing.


Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to get a feel for the clubs and adapt my swing.  The key was maintaining an even tempo. 


On my first tee shot, I teed the ball too low and hit a bit of a worm-burner foozle.  On my next tee shot, I over-compensated and hit a shallow pop-up.  But by three holes into the nine, the brassie and I were on the same page -- I was nailing tee shots.


Of course, "nailing" is a relative term.  I don’t think my best effort went more than 200 yards, even when the shot felt solid.


Come to think of it, the short irons took more getting used to.   No shot with the niblick seemed to fly true or consistently, and I never quite got the feel for distances.


I came away with two double-bogeys, four bogeys and three pars.  The highlight of the round was definitely the 30-footer I snaked in from the fringe.  I’d definitely do it again.

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Tiger at Aronimink 
With Tigerís diagnosis, Aronimink breathes sigh of relief
Thursday, May 13, 2010
By Joe Logan

Needless to say, word that Tiger Woods has only an "inflamed neck joint" and not a more serious injury is good news for the AT&T National at Aronimink.


Suddenly, the prospect of him playing in the AT&T National goes from questionable to likely.


At Monday’s press conference at Aronimink, Woods promised to defend his AT&T title, if he had returned to action after the neck injury that forced him to pull out of the final round of the Players Championship last week.


Now, with a diagnosis that requires only soft tissue massages, rest and anti-inflammatory medications, Woods says he expects to tee it up in the Memorial Tournament, beginning June 3.


That’s almost a month before the AT&T National the week of June 28-July 4.

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18th at Pine Valley 
Tiger clears up rumor
Monday, May 10, 2010
By Joe Logan

During his press conference for AT&T National, Tiger Woods cleared up one rumored factoid once and for all:  He has never played a round of golf in the Philadelphia area.


"I have not," Woods said, when asked directly.  "No, I have not.  This is the first time."


"This" being the AT&T National (July 1-4), assuming he is back to playing by then.  Tiger did not play a round of golf during Monday’s media day.


Having never played here is curious, almost inexplicable, considering how well-traveled Tiger is and we have two of the Top 10 courses in the world in our back yard, Merion GC in Ardmore and Pine Valley GC in Clementon, N.J.


Other great golfers have made time for Merion and Pine Valley when they were in the area.  I remember a few years ago at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock, Annika Sorenstam mentioned that in the days following the tournament, she intended to play both.  She couldn’t miss the opportunity while she was in the area.  And she did play both of them, and she loved them.


What makes Tiger’s failure to make the time for Merion and Pine Valley all the more curious is his professed respect and love for classic courses, which certainly describes both.  And considering the history of Merion and the mystique of the cloistered Pine Valley, you’d think his curiosity would have gotten the best of him.


Evidently he had other things on his mind.

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Steve[5/13/2010 6:02:44 AM]
And heís a golf course designer too. I guess playing the top rated course in the world and a perennial top 10 course couldnít be fit in to his busy schedule back in the day. Now, he has more time as his endoresement time committments are down.

Bob Rotella 
Bob Rotella on Tiger
Thursday, May 6, 2010
By Joe Logan

If the whole Tiger Woods scandal left you disappointed, dismayed and in disbelief, you are not alone.  So was Bob Rotella, the sports shrink to many PGA Tour stars, as well as most of the players themselves.


"The guys on Tour were as shocked as the rest of us," Rotella said recently. "I haven’t talked to anybody on Tour who had a clue."


Rotella, who was in town to speak to the annual fundraiser for Women Golfers Give Back at Whitemarsh Valley CC, feels bad for golf and the PGA Tour.  But he feels even worse for the millions of youngsters who idolized Woods.


"Every time somebody comes along that looks like they are going to be a great role model, too many of them just end up being nothing like who we thought they were," said Rotella.  "It‘s heartbreaking.  I mean, we need some people to be role models."


For Rotella, like many of us, the revelations about Tiger’s infidelities forever changed how he regards at the golfer. 


"I have great respect for how he plays golf," he said.  "But I have totally changed my perception of him as a person, or at least as a husband and father."


After finishing tied 4th in his return to golf at the Masters, Tiger missed the cut at his next tournament, the Quail Hollow Championship, where he shot 79 on Friday.  But Rotella doesn’t believe for a moment that Tiger won’t soon be back to his old winning ways.


"My guess is, he is going to go on to play great golf," said Rotella.  "He now has the incentive of people like Phil catching him for the top of the World Golf Rankings.  He’s got three majors coming (U.S. Open, British Open, PGA) up that he wants so badly, and he loves those golf courses (Pebble Beach GC, St. Andrews, Whistling Straits)."


Even with all the upheaval and distractions in Tiger’s life these days, Rotella wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls off major victory No. 15 this year.  The big reason is Tiger’s amazing capacity for mental self-discipline and self-control on the golf course, if not off the course.


"He has always been great at separating what is going on on the golf course from what it going on off it," said Rotella.  "It is the one place in the world where he is totally comfortable.  This has been his thing since he was three years old."


Watching Tiger’s now-famous 13-minute apology statement back in February didn’t clear up anything for Rotella.  For starters, once he found out Team Tiger had hired a PR consultant to help with the speech, Rotella decided he wouldn’t believe a word coming out of the golfer’s mouth was actually his.


And then there was what he couldn’t help but notice as Tiger delivered the mea culpa.  The whole thing made Rotella think back to his daughter’s wedding a few years ago, when he, a man who speaks regularly to large gatherings, was left speechless by the emotion of the moment, when he stood up to toast his daughter and her new husband.


Yet, there was Tiger, admitting to his humiliating transgressions before the world and his sainted mother in the front row, and he was as cool as a cucumber.  "There was no emotion," said Rotella, amazed.


Rotella shook his head, reflecting on that moment and on what we all thought we knew Tiger.


"All I know is I bought the whole Tiger image hook, line and sinker," he said.  "I bragged about him and his family, about how it was just so wonderful that we have this role model that we have.  And I loved what he was doing with the Tiger Woods Foundation.  To me, he just ruined that."


How will Tiger’s career fare going forward?  Rotella fully expects he will win again, and win big, because he is that confident in himself and his golfing ability.  He came to that conclusion watching the way Tiger handled himself at the Masters, especially his post-round interview on Sunday with CBS’s Peter Kostis, in which he registered disappointment in his own performance, never congratulating Phil Mickelson.


"A lot of people had trouble with Tiger’s interview, and I understand that," said Rotella.  "But the other side is, he can’t believe he wasn’t going to win that tournament.  What it really tells you is that the absolutely believed he was going to go there and shock the world and win that tournament.  And he couldn’t believe that he didn’t.  That probably means he hasn’t changed a whole lot."




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Steve[5/6/2010 3:56:30 PM]
Tiger should read Rotellaís book: Golf is not a Game of Perfect.

The panel around board table at Aronimink 
State of Golf in Philadelphia
Monday, April 26, 2010
By Joe Logan

In the past hour I posted six stories from a project I am calling the State of Golf in Philadelphia.


There is a lot of stuff there, and I hope it helps shed some light on where things stand right now.


I cannot write another sentence without thanking the folks who lent their time and expertise thatt enabled me to pull this thing together:  Mark Peterson at GAP, Geoff Surrette at the PGA Section, Donna Horvath at Honeybrook GC, Tony Gustaitis at Whitemarsh Valley CC and Dick Naumann at Aronimink GC.


I went to Mark Peterson first with the concept.  He liked it, and so we began to kick around ideas for a format and who we might invite to participate.  Geoff,  executive director of the Section, was obvious.   Tony has been a reliable and articulate source for me for years when it comes to the maintenance side of the game.  Dick is a real pro at one of the top clubs in the country, let alone in Philadelphia.  And Mark and I almost simultaneously suggested Donna because we know her to be smart and forward thinking, plus she is one of the few women at or near the top of a golf course or club. 


Once we all convened around the board room at Aronimink (thank you very much), each member of the panel delivered exactly what I was hoping for – their particular perspective on where the game stands going into the 2010 season.


You’ll notice that in their presentations, some were brief succinct, some were longer and more detailed.   That was fine by me.  All were good.


Again, thanks to everyone involved.

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