Sautter solo local to make cut at U.S. Senior Open
Saturday, July 31, 2010
By Joe Logan

Bill Sautter is the lone local survivor at the U.S. Senior Open.


Sautter, 54, teaching pro at Philadelphia Cricket Club, shot a second-round of 7-over 77, for a 150 total and made the cut on the number, 10-over.  His card and stats are here.


Amateurs Chris Lange (75-78, card) Buddy Marucci (76-82, card) and Mark Battista (91-81, card) missed the cut.

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Bill Sautter 
Sautter shoots 73, leads locals in U.S. Senior Open
Friday, July 30, 2010
By Joe Logan

Of the four locals in the U.S. Senior Open, only one, amateur Mark Battista, shot himself out of the weekend during Thursday’s first round at Sahalee CC in Seattle.


Battista, 50, a former Moorestown, N.J. resident who now lives in Rancho Mirage, Calif., shot 21-over 91, leaving him tied for 154th, last in the field.  Here is Battista’s card and stats.


The best round by a local was the 3-over 73 by Bill Sautter, teaching pro at Philadelphia Cricket Club, who is tied for for 29th.  His card and stats are here.


Amateurs Chris Lange, 55, from Bryn Mawr, and Buddy Marucci, 58, from Villanova, shot 5-over 75 and 6-over 76, respectively, leaving them tied for 55th and 68th.  Here is Lange’s card and stats; here is Marucci’s.

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Buddy Marucci 
Locals to watch in U.S. Senior Open
Thursday, July 29, 2010
By Joe Logan

There are three locals to keep an eye on in this week’s U.S. Senior Open, four if you count a former Moorestown, N.J., resident who still returns to the area several times a year to compete in tournaments.


Best known among the locals is amateur Buddy Marucci, 58, from Villanova, who captained the U.S. Walker Cup team to victories in 2007 and in 2009 at Merion GC, his home course.  A two-time Walker Cup player himself (1995 & ’97), Marucci is also the 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur champion and runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1995 U.S. Amateur.


This is Marucci’s third U.S. Senior Open; he missed the cut in his two previous efforts, in 2006 and 2009.


Chris Lange, 55, a real estate agent from Bryn Mawr, is a three-time Philadelphia Amateur champion, two-time Philadelphia Mid-Am champion and winner of the 2004 Philadelphia Open.


A member of Overbrook GC and Pine Valley, Lange is playing in his fourth U.S. Senior Open.  He missed the cut in his three previous appearances, in 2005, 2007 and 2009.


One local club pro made it into the field: Bill Sautter, 54, teaching pro at Philadelphia Cricket Club, who is playing in his second U.S. Senior Open.  He missed the cut in 2009.


Sautter didn’t start playing golf until he was 30, long after he was a two-time All-America in soccer at Temple and after he retired from a career in professional soccer.


Also in the field is amateur Mark Battista, 50, a Moorestown resident for eight years before moving to Rancho Mirage, Calif., in 2006.  A member of the Philadelphia Publinks, he returns to the area several times a year for PPGA events.

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My new weapon of choice 
My new driver and me
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
By Joe Logan

After three days of recuperating from my brush with heat exhaustion, I was up and about yesterday, rarin’ to go.


I was feeling much better, thank you, but the real motivating factor was the unexpected arrival in the mid-afternoon of the new custom-fitted driver I ordered three weeks ago.  The FedEx guy no sooner pulled away than I was out the door and on the range, tipping over a large bucket.

In 45-plus years of golf, I’ve never had a custom-fitted driver.  My putter is bent to my specs and, a year ago, I took my irons in to have them bent to the proper lie and loft to fit me.


But drivers?  No.  I’ve played the field, aimlessly flitting from driver to driver, a steady succession of off-the-rackers -- new and used -- that worked, semi-worked, worked for a time or didn’t work at all.  I have to admit, it has been a failed strategy.


I finally sprung for this new driver because it came down to two choices: start hitting more fairways or quit the game for the sake of my blood pressure and my sanity.


My problems date back to a year or ago when, for no good reason, I suddenly couldn’t drive the golf ball.  What had always been one of the strengths of my game and somehow become my Achilles heel.  The longer it went on, the worse it got, and my self-confidence spiraled out of control.


On the tee, I would stand over the ball with an electrical storm going on in my head.  The result: my first shot would generally sail OB right; on the reload, I’d over-compensate and snap hook it left.  Even if I could find that second ball, I’d be lying three in the left rough, usually under a tree limb, with a long approach shot.  You can only endure that for so long before you begin spending your evenings sitting alone in the dark, brooding.


Desperate for a fix, I have gone through every driver in my considerable basement stash: TaylorMade, Callaway, Titleist, another Callaway, Cobra, my son’s Callaway, a newer Titleist.   Each one had a little different shaft, different flex, different loft, different torque, none of which were actually fitted to me.  And none solved my tee ball problem.


Several revelations finally convinced me to bite the bullet and spring for the $400 custom big stick.  One was playing a recent round with a golf writer pal from New York who was in town for the AT&T at Aronimink. 


This is a guy who I have seen plumb the depths of misery and self-loathing like no one else on a golf course.  On any number of occasions, I have witnessed this man lying on a tee box, writhing in agony, often over another wayward tee shot.  And yet, there he was a few weeks ago, pounding tee shot after tee shot down the middle of the fairway, smiling and whistling as he went.


What happened?


He showed me his new, custom-fitted driver.  Made all the difference in the world.


My other justification was, hey, you hit a driver 14 times during a round.  Your tee shots are the foundation, the underpinning, of your entire round.  Along with the putter, the driver is the most important club in your bag.  Rather than waste time running through more ill-fitting, off-the-rack and out-of-the-bin drivers, why not spend the money once and for all to get one custom-fitted.


Three weeks ago, I did just that.  I went to my nearby big-box golf outlet, found a Fitter Guy and admitted I was powerless over my affliction.  "My name is Joe and I can’t hit a fairway," I confessed.


He nodded with understanding sympathy.


Soon, I was pounding tee shots into a net, as Fitter Guy and I studied the flight paths and patterns on the Fitter Machine screen. My last driver was a Titleist, which I liked, even if it didn’t like me back, so I opted to find something in the Titleist family of drivers.  It really is a matter of preference; every major manufacturer has an array of shafts and heads to suit your needs.


We quickly determined that my driver swing speed is consistently in 90-93 mph range, meaning I still just barely need a stiff shaft.  It was also clear that my tee shots were leaking to the right.  I like to think of it as a Jim Furyk power fade, although I don’t know who I think I’m kidding.  Anyway, to compensate, I needed a shaft with a low torque.


Next, we needed to take into consideration launch angle and backspin.  I’ve hit a low ball all my life.  My natural swing is also a little steep on the steep side, especially with a driver.  Fitter Guy had me try a half-dozen or more different combinations of shafts, lofts and head compositions; then we compared the various ball flight data to determine which was producing the best results for  me.


Answer: Titleist 909 DComp, 10.5 loft, with Matrix Xcon5 shaft.  The idea was to create a club that helps me hit tee shots higher, with less distance-robbing backspin, while also helping me control my rightward leak.


Yesterday, the club showed up and I could not wait to try it out. After a dozen or so 9-iron shots to loosen up, I gingerly unsheathed my new weapon.  I was a little apprehensive as I stuck the first tee in the ground; this first shot with a new club is a lot like a first date.  First impressions matter.


My initial swing was a little tentative but I could not have been more pleased with what I saw: the ball sailing dead-straight and higher than my usual tee shots. 


I hit another, and another, and another, and each was as good as the last.  I was deep into the bucket before I hit my first truly lousy shot, a big banana ball that could not be blamed on the club. By the time I got to the bottom of the bucket, I was berating myself for not doing this sooner.  


Today, I plan to get in a late-afternoon round, my maiden voyage with the new lumber. I know that this new driver is not going to solve all my problems.   I will still miss fairways, I will still hit low screamers.  The game of golf will find ways to test our budding relationship.  But deep down, I will know that my new driver and I are made for each other.

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Eleanor[7/30/2010 7:27:22 AM]
I trust you will bring it to the member/guest next weekend in Durham and blow everyone out of the water. Should I warn Cole you have a new weapon or do you want it to be a surprise?
The Muni Golfer[7/28/2010 9:46:53 AM]
Joe, good luck with the new driver. Hope it works out weel for you. I was at the range last night also hitting balls with a new TaylorMade R9 driver. Bought it slightly used, so itís not custom-fitted, but I think with work the head and weights Iíll get it dialed in.

Ken Venturi overcomes heat exhaustion to win í64 Open 
Beware the signs of heat exhaustion
Sunday, July 25, 2010
By Joe Logan

If you play golf in this heat wave, pay attention to signs of heat exhaustion.  It’s a lesson I’ve just learned the hard way.


As I write this Sunday morning, I am recovering from what appears to be a classic case of heat exhaustion.  I’m weak, woozy, I have very little appetite and the leg cramps are finally beginning to subside.


In all my years playing golf on hot summer days, mowing lawns and, years ago, working construction on steamy days in the South, I never felt overcome by the heat like I do now.


It began on Friday, when I drove down to the Jersey Shore for a round that afternoon, to be followed by a second round early Saturday morning.


When I got out of the car near Cape May at noon on Friday, I was immediately struck by how much hotter and more humid it felt there than it had a mere 60 miles away in Philadelphia.  A wall of heat hit me in the face, and for a moment, I questioned the wisdom of spending the next 4½ hours on the golf course.


Naturally, we teed off anyway and in no time at all, my shirt was drenched with sweat and I was on my second bottle of Gatorade.  By the time we finished the front nine, I was having no fun whatsoever, dreading another 2½ hours in this soup.


It was on No. 11 or No. 12 – three hours into the round and on my third Gatorade – that I began to notice I was feeling a little light-headed and faint as stood over tee shots.


As we played on, it got worse.  Over the next few holes, I became less concerned with whether my tee ball landed in the fairway than I was with whether I could hit it without falling over.


My putting stroke  - putting requires the greatest concentration and physical exactitude -- was a joke.  I couldn’t sink a straight-in 2-footer because I had no touch, no feel; lag putts came nowhere close to the hole.


As we slogged through the final few holes – I was gulping Gatorade No. 4 – all I could think of was getting off the course, getting into my car and cranking up the air conditioning to max.


Headed north on the Garden State Parkway, the light-headedness returned a couple of times, causing me to consider pulling over for a few minutes.   I continued on, however, because I was due at dinner with two business associates in an hour and I badly needed a shower – the colder, the better.


I made it to the dinner but I had no appetite, as little waves of nausea now washed over me.  I nibbled around edges of my dinner and failed miserably at holding up my end of the conversation.  All I could think about was getting back to my room and crawling into in bed.  By 9 p.m., I was between the sheets, besieged by leg cramps.


The next morning, I felt better – not great, but well enough to show up for my 7:30 a.m. tee time.


Big mistake.  Even at that early hour, it was absurdly hot and humid, and it was due to get worse as the day wore on.


I felt okay on the first hole, and the second, but by the third, I was beginning to feel weak and woozy all over again.


It only got worse as I struggled to remain standing after each shot.  I couldn’t have made a 10-foot putt if I was shooting at a peach basket.


By the eighth hole, despite two more bottles of Gatorade and a steady supply of cold, wet towels that had been placed in coolers around the course, I was toast.  I couldn’t hit another shot.  I told my playing partners I was done for the day. I drove the cart, swilled bottles of Gatorade and began grabbing the cold, wet towels two at a time.


When I got home yesterday afternoon, I laid down on the couch and soon fell into a three-hour nap.


Today, I’m still not fully recovered.  My appetite has not returned and I’m weak.  A few minutes ago, when I made a Gatorade run to the grocery store, the light-headedness returned for a moment.   I have a greater appreciation for Ken Venturi’s victory in the 1964 U.S. Open.


I have no plans to leave the couch or the air-conditioning for the rest of the day. I’m told it could take a week or more before I feel 100 percent.











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Steve[7/27/2010 9:10:24 AM]
Itís best to load up on water or Gatorade before playing and then keep going with plenty more as you play. I played last Friday morning at 8am just to beat the heat. Glad to hear youíre feeling better.
Joe Logan[7/27/2010 8:46:13 AM]
Thanks. I am feeling better, maybe 90 percent. Since Sunday, Iíve pretty much moved from the couch to the computer and back again, leaving the house only to buy massive quantities of Gatorade. (Grape has replaced red as my favorite).
Fran[7/27/2010 8:01:14 AM]
Iím glad to hear your feeling better and thereís no serious effects on your health. I had a simiular experience at Twining Valley about six years ago. I was weak, nauseous and overheating. I couldnít finish the 18th. I just ran to the clubhouse and drank 3 gatorades and stayed in the air conditioning the rest of the day. This heat this Summer is nothing to mess with. If your feeling not up to playing than your body is warning you to stay out of the Sun. hydrate well befroe going out and make sure you have cold compresses and plenty of ice on hand.
The Muni Golfer[7/26/2010 6:43:44 AM]
Joe, Glad to hear you were smart enough to abandon your second round before it got much worse. Iím also glad to hear that nothing serous happened health-wise. I hope you are feeling better today. I had a few incidents in the past couple of years, but not quite as bad as yours. One was at Wyncote. I was walking on a very humid day in June. I manged to get through 7 holes before I needed to climb into one of my playing partnerís cart. At the turn, I went in to pay for riding the back nine and the owner, who happened to be filming an Indie golf episode that day, told me not to worry about paying, he was just happy that I had the sense to stop walking and get in a cart before they had to call paramedics. The second was at The Rookery in Delaware, which you know, like Wyncote, has very little trees and shade. I got through 14 holes and just couldnít go on. I had to sit under a little tree between the 14th green and 15th tee for about 30 minutes before I was able to play the last 4 holes.

Tiger Woods 
Tigerís still knocking down $70 mil in endorsements
Thursday, July 22, 2010
By Joe Logan

Sports Illustrated is out with its annual list of the Top 50 earning American athletes and, despite his battered and bruised image, Tiger Woods is still No. 1.


On the golf course, his winnings in 2009 were $20.5 million, thanks to a $10 million payout for winning the FedEx Cup.  By the magazine’s best accounting, he pocketed another $70 million in endorsement money.


I’ve got one question:  Who in the heck is still paying Tiger that kind money?


Seriously, $70 million?  Just a few months ago, several of his biggest corporate sponsors (AT&T, Accenture, Gatorade) couldn’t get away from him fast enough.


Still, by SI’s tally, Tiger took an endorsement hit in 2009 of $22 million, dropping his total on-course and off-course take from $99.7 million to $90.5 million.


Nike famously stuck around, as did EA Sports.  But other than those two, you don’t see Tiger featured in too many TV commercials or print ad campaigns.


Just wondering.



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Steve[7/23/2010 9:22:21 AM]
Sales of the EA TW golf game are down substantially.

Five best and worst things about the British Open
Thursday, July 15, 2010
By Joe Logan

When it comes to favorite golf tournaments, put me down for the  British Open.


Oh, the Masters is wonderful, too, especially the first time you go, when you’re on sensory overload, soaking up every sight, every sound, every moment.  But even Augusta National in the spring, with all the dogwoods, pines and azaleas in full bloom, comes up No. 2 against the British Open in my book.


My other favorite tournament of the year is the U.S. Amateur, where you get to see tomorrow’s superstars today and you can’t take two steps without stumbling over a great human interest story begging to be told.


But, back to No. 1, which is the British Open by far.  No matter where it was played – Carnoustie, Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Royal St. George’s, Turnberry -- I looked forward to it for weeks, and I hated to come home when it was over.  I wouldn’t want to live over there, but it’s wonderful to visit.


Of course, the trip over the British Open is not without its difficulties.  So I’ve come up with a list of best and worst things about golf’s oldest championship.


Five Best:


The golf courses.  The difference between golf over here and golf over there cannot be overstated.


Whether you’re lucky enough to play one of the exalted courses in the British Open rota or some no-name loop on the outskirts of town, it is a different kind of golf in every way.  You will be called upon to hit golf shots we simply don’t have to hit over here: say, the 100-yard bump and run over an insane series of mounds, and the 80-yard putt from the fairway, come to mind


Leave your 60-degree wedge at home, because you won’t hit it more than twice during a week of golf in the U.K.  They play a ground game, and you learn to adapt pretty quickly.


On many courses, another issue is the gorse, or heather, which is a benign-sounding name for shin-deep wiry grass that is impossible to play out of – assuming you can find your ball.  Lay your bag down in that stuff and you can lose your bag.  Which is also why, if you aren’t straight off the tee, you are wise to leave the driver in the bag in favor of a long iron or hybrid.


The weather cannot be ignored.  During the course of a single round, it can go from sunny and calm, to windy and raining sideways, and back again.  Never a dull moment.


Change of scenery:  If the golf courses are different, so is everything else, starting with the surroundings.


British Opens tend to be played in small towns and villages far from the big cities. To get there, you generally must fly into a big city, then drive through small, ancient villages that are as innocent and picturesque as something out of Robin Hood.  Once you get off the thoroughfares, the roads are  extremely narrow, having been built in the days before modern, wide-body cars.


Because of the constant rain in the U.K, the fields and meadows you see from those roads are the richest hues of green and yellow that will stick in your mind forever.


It is, in short, like going back in time, to world you may never have known existed.


St. Andrews: Of all the British Open venues, none compares to the Old Course and no host city compares to St. Andrews, the small, medieval city that is the original home of golf.


Although it is home to the University of St. Andrews, the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world, St. Andrews is more like a small town, with only about 16,500 residents.


There’s a downtown commercial district several blocks away, but the heart and soul of St. Andrews is a short walk from the Old Course, where golf shops, souvenir shops, pubs and hotels abound.


If you walk off the back of the 18th green, turn right and proceed about 100 yards up that narrow street, you come to a busy corner with a major tourist-attraction golf shop on one corner and a popular restaurant/pub on the other.  During Open week, laughter and well-oiled golf fans spill out into the streets.


At the 2005 Open, I shared a house with three other writers that abuts the 18th fairway.  While most of our colleagues rented dorm rooms at the University of St. Andrews, we stumbled across this house on the internet – a one minute walk to the golf course.


The fans:  You can spend an entire week at the British Open and never once hear anybody yell, "Get in the hole!"


British Open golf fans tend to be very knowledgeable, very well-behaved and, above all, very, very proper.  In the event of a good shot, they offer up a polite round of applause.  If it’s a fantastic shot,  they ratchet up the enthusiasm a couple of clicks.


Golf fans over there also make sure to bring along a sweater or pullover and an umbrella for the inevitable afternoon shower and chill, although if the sun comes out, they slather on sunscreen so thick they look like Casper the friendly ghost.


The newspapers:  Newspapers in the U.K. are much more lively and fun to read than their serious and often bland counterparts in the U.S.


There are a couple of earnest and subdued papers – namely, the Times of London and the Guardian – but most are tabloids that scream at you from the newsstand with headlines that cannot be ignored. In the U.K., newspapers are more in the entertainment business than the news business.


Five Worst:


The flight over: Most flights to the U.K. leave Philadelphia in the early evening, fly all night (8 hours) and arrive about 8 a.m., just in time for rush hour in Europe.


If you can sleep on the plane, you’re fine.  If you cannot, and I cannot, you arrive stiff, cramped and exhausted, just as a new day is dawning.


Driving: Driving on the left side is not something you do without training and practice, except for when it is.


In 1998, when I was headed to my first British Open, I was concerned about the 45-mile drive from the airport in Manchester, England to Southport, home of Royal Birkdale.


One of my golf writer buddies who I was sharing a house with told me not to worry.  He was a veteran of several British Opens and of driving on the left.  He’d rent a car for the week and I could ride shotgun.


Sounded like a plan, until we were standing in the Hertz office at the Manchester airport and my buddy discovered he had managed to leave his driver’s license back home in New Jersey.  Hertz would rent him a car, but he was not allowed to drive.


"No problem," he said, handing me the keys.


Ten minutes later, I was behind the wheel, merging into morning rush-hour traffic on Manchester’s equivalent of the Schuylkill Expressway. 


By the end of the week, I was an old pro, weaving in and out of traffic, whizzing around narrow, country roads, negotiating round-abouts like a New York cabbie.


Smoking everywhere: The anti-smoking craze that swept across America years ago has yet to reach the shores of the U.K. Restaurants, bars, media centers, they’re all full of smoke.


The food: All the snarky clichés you hear about how lousy the food is in the U.K. – true, all true.


So much of cuisine is inexplicably bland and borderline inedible, which is surprising considering we’re talking about such an ancient and cultured part of the world.


Try starting the day with the "Full English" breakfast (eggs, fatty bacon, fried bread and baked beans, or Bangers and Mash (fatty sausage and mashed potatoes) or Shepherd’s Pie (minced lamb, veggies and mashed potatoes).


While in Scotland, be sure not to miss the haggis (don’t even ask).


Thing is, even when it is a food or dish you recognize and like back home, they have a way of preparing it in the most unappetizing way.  Even the pizza joints and Chinese "take-away" places don’t measure up.


One of the favorite meals over there – sort of their answer to a burger and fries – is fish and chips, or fried fish and fries.  Not a bad concept, except they have a way of making the fish and the chips so limp and greasy as to be revolting.


One year, one of the guys I was sharing a house with, left a half-eaten order of fish and chips in a paper bag on the dining room table.  The next morning, the grease had leeched out of the bag and eaten through the varnish on the table.


The good news is, I always counted on the British Open to help me lose five pounds.


The prices: Depending on the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the British pound, figure on everything costing 50- to 100-percent more than back home.


Hotels, restaurants, car rentals, soft drinks in a convenience store, a round of golf, everything is expensive.  You can drive yourself nuts pinching pennies, or you can grin and bear it.


Still, minor annoyances aside, the British Open is the best tournament in golf.  

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