Tiger and Mark Steinberg 
What to make of Steinberg’s exit from IMG
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
By Joe Logan

There is a chance I am reading too much into it but the fact that IMG has effectively squeezed out Tiger’s longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, would seem to speak volumes: specifically that the international management company’s sense is that the most famous golfer in the world is now irredeemably damaged goods.


IMG, the 800-pound gorilla of sports management companies, had to know that when Steinberg walked, there is a very good chance Tiger would be right behind him.  In fact, no one should be surprised if Steinberg hangs his own shingle starting next week, with Tiger as his first client.


If you missed it, the news broke Tuesday that Steinberg, the head of IMG’s golf operations in North America, could not come to terms on an agreement to extend his contract, which expires in June.   Steinberg has been a huge player at IMG for years, with a stable of clients that includes Tiger, Annika Sorenstam and Steve Stricker.   Even more intriguing is that word leaked to a couple of well-connected writers that IMG pretty much offered Steinberg a deal they knew he would refuse.   You know, they wanted him gone. 


To appreciate the magnitude of Steinberg’s departure, it would help to have seen him and Tiger interacting at tournaments over the years.  Tiger calls him "Steiny." All smart and smooth, Steiny was never more than an arm’s length away at all times.


At press conferences, it was a slight nod from Steinberg that would give the okay to commence the questioning.  Another nod from Steinberg was the cue to bring down the curtain.  He advised Tiger on all things in golf and in life, and his fingerprints are on every endorsement deal Tiger has done for the past 12-plus years.  If Tiger becomes the first billion-dollar athlete, Steinberg deserves his share of the credit. Not surprisingly, he guarded Tiger like a mama guards her cubs, controlling any and all access.  More than a few golf writers thought of Steinberg as "Dr. No."


When Tiger’s personal life went into a tailspin, it was Steinberg who managed the damage control from behind the scenes – or at least he tried to.  If anything, it was what many regard as Steinberg’s failure to control any damage, his bungling of Tiger’s sordid crisis, that might have made IMG believe he had become expendable.


Even so, when keeping Tiger Woods as a client hangs in the balance, it’s hard to believe that IMG wouldn’t have kept Steinberg on so long as Tiger’s career continued to throw off a steady stream of huge commissions.  IMG is not known for leaving money on the table.  However, with his reputation in tatters and the future of his golf career uncertain because of one injury and ailment after another, the days of Tiger gushing million-dollar commissions for IMG or any other agent might be entering a downward trend.


All of this is speculation, of course.  But the fact is, Steinberg has been the golden boy – dare we say the Tiger Woods of IMG -- for the past decade.  If nothing else, his departure is further proof that nothing about Tiger or his career is the same any more.

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Steve[5/25/2011 9:13:49 PM]
TW can’t even get a sponsor for his bag. He dropped his price from 8M to 5M and still no takers.

A worthwhile charity pro-am
Friday, May 13, 2011
By Joe Logan

If you don’t mind, please indulge me for a moment as I promote a very worthwhile charity pro-am of which I happen to be the honorary chairman.


It’s called the 2011 Tournament of Champions and it’s being conducted by the Lower Bucks County chapter of the American Red Cross on May 24 at Makefield Highlands GC in Yardley.


You’d have a hard time finding an organization anywhere in the world that does more valuable or better work than the Red Cross.  Buy a sponsorship, a spot or a foursome in the pro-am and you can feel like you’ve done something worthwhile.  If you haven’t played Makefield Highlands, you’re also in for a treat of a round.


In these tough times, I don’t have to tell you how charities have to struggle to maintain their levels of contributions.  It is not easy for anybody or any organization, including the Red Cross.


A bunch of area club pros are pitching in to do their part, offering their time to play.  The list of pros is impressive.


I hope to see you at Makefield Highlands on May 24.

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My only Seve story
Saturday, May 7, 2011
By Joe Logan

I don’t have any great stories about Seve Ballesteros.  I wish I did.


When I started covering golf full time for The Philadelphia Inquirer, in 1996, the best years of Seve’s remarkable career were already behind him.   He won the last of his three British Open titles in 1988 and the latter of his two Masters in 1983.


By the time I began traveling the tournament circuit, Seve wasn’t officially retired but his appearances were few and far between.  As a former Masters champion, however, he did enjoy returning to Augusta to play each year, even if he had become something of a ceremonial golfer.  It was there, at one of his final Masters, that I had my only Seve "enocounter," if you want call it that.


I don’t recall the story I was working on that day; all I remember is that I was trying to get a quote from every big-name player I could as they made their way from the Augusta National clubhouse to the first tee or the practice putting green, a distance of about 50 yards.


Getting quotes from players can be a dicey business, depending on the player (jerk or not a jerk?), the question (can you tell me about that triple-bogey?), whether they are late and so on and so forth.  Getting blown off by a guy who never breaks stride or pretends not to hear your question is not uncommon.


What I remember about that particular day is that I was not having much luck.  I had a few weak quotes in my notebook and a deadline that was looming.  I was starting to get a little concerned.


Suddenly, there was Seve coming out of the locker room, headed in my general direction.  As always, Seve had that air about him, that dignity, that look of purpose and he oozed that charisma that made him popular with other players and especially with the ladies.


I made my move. "Seve," I said, practically blocking his path.  "Got a second?"


He stopped, looked me in the eye and listened as I asked my question.   For a moment, he said nothing, just looked at me.  I thought to myself, oh, great, he’s about to blow me off.  But Seve surprised me.


"Walk with me," he said.  "I’m going to putt."


We walked together from the locker room, across the back lawn of the Augusta National clubhouse, through the thicket of patrons, all the way to the putting green, with Seve talking every step of the way.  When we reached the practice putting green, Seve paused again, speaking for another minute or two, completing his thoughts and filling my notebook in the process.


When he was finished, I thanked him. He smiled and nodded and ducked under the ropes to go putt.


I had what I needed.  Elated, I hustled off to the media center.  I remember thinking, What a gentleman, what a class act.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


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Bill W.[5/8/2011 8:16:50 AM]
Seve was a class act. He will be missed.

Calling all charity golf events
Friday, May 6, 2011
By Joe Logan

Calling all charity golf events.


With the demise of two publications that used to list charity golf events in the region, MyPhillyGolf is trying to do what we can to fill that void.  If you look down the left rail of our home page, you will see a link called Charity Event Calendar.


Nothing would make us feel more valuable and useful than to fill that page with a long list events from around the region.  All you need is a charity event and a webpage we can link to.   It’s free, no charge.


If you are running a charity golf event, or you know a friend or a colleague with a charity event to promote, please alert to our Charity Event Calendar.

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Some chump in the rain 
Enough with the rain
Friday, April 29, 2011
By Joe Logan

I am sick of rain.


I am sick of calling up the weekly forecast on my computer and seeing this:


Monday: Thunderstorms

Tuesday: Worse thunderstorms

Wednesday: Intermittent showers

Thursdays: Rain

Friday: Cloudy with afternoon showers likely

Saturday: Ha! Don’t even think about it

Sunday:  You might get in nine holes before it rains


No kidding, this is the rainiest spring I can remember in years.  I don’t know that to be an absolute prove-able fact because none of the eight superintendents (they keep charts and graphs) I’ve called in the past 30 minutes answered their cell phones.  My guess is, they couldn’t hear their cell phones over the pumps they were running to try to get their courses in playable for the weekend.


I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining when half the South got flattened by tornadoes in the past few days.  And, hey, the forecast for tomorrow (Saturday) looks good.  I’ll believe it when I see it.  Heck, at this point, I’d take Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.


Even if I don’t have the actual rain stats at my fingertips, I know I am not imaging this.  Last week I played a round at the GC at Glen Mills with the general manager, Paul Stuhlmiller.  (Naturally, it was spritzing).  At one point, I asked Paul if this spring had been as bad weather-wise as I thought.  He winced like I had touched a nerve and said, "Yes, awful."


Thing is, a tee time is a perishable commodity, like fruit or an airplane that takes off full of empty seats.  Courses will never get that revenue back.  Golf courses are used to getting iffy weather in March but not so much in mid- to late April.  We are getting into the meat of their seasons.


Of course, most golf course owners, managers and superintendents are as optimistic (na•ve?) as farmers.  It doesn’t matter if rain or drought or a swarm of locusts killed last year’s crop, they are farmers to the bone and they are going to plant again next year.


Me, I’ve got tee times Saturday and Sunday.

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Professor/photographer/golf addict Joe Bausch 
Again, say hello to The Bausch Collection
Monday, April 25, 2011
By Joe Logan

Now that we are finally getting some decent golf weather, it seems like a good time to once again draw your attention to one of the most valuable assets this website has to offer – The Bausch Collection.


The Bausch Collection, if you haven’t checked it out before, is a remarkable assemblage of photos of golf courses in the region, both public and private.   There is a link to The Bausch Collection on the green left rail of the MyPhillyGolf home page, under Photos.  Want to check out a golf course before you make a tee time?  Take a tour via The Bausch Collection.  If it’s not there, it might be coming soon.


The Bausch Collection isn’t the official name of the galleries.  I dubbed the photos that a year ago, when the golf addict who shoots them, Villanova chemistry profession Joe Bausch, offered to left us house them on MyPhillyGolf.  I jumped at the chance, recognizing a good thing when I see one.


I wrote a blog introducing The Bausch Collection last September, when we had only uploaded a fraction of the courses Joe has photographed.  Now, we’ve uploaded them all, except that Joe keeps adding to the collection.


It is hard to believe that he shoots these photos with a small point-and-shoot camera, not some $4,000 single lens reflex number like a professional photographer would use.  I’ve also played with Joe as he is shooting a course.  He does it quickly and discreetly, without holding up the group.


Anyway, if you haven’t looked over The Bausch Collection, I recommend you do so.  And if you know of a course that would be a good addition to the collection, send me an email and I’ll pass it along to Joe.



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A TaylorMade R11 is in the bag
Monday, April 18, 2011
By Joe Logan

I have officially joined the R11 Nation.


If you haven’t heard and seen all the fuss and commotion over the TaylorMade R11 driver, with its distinctive white head and adjustable settings, you’ve either been in a cave or on a six-month bender.  The R11 is quite the talk on the PGA Tour and, therefore, a seriously hot item with amateurs who buy every advantage they can afford.


If you follow this space with any regularity, you might also recall that last year, I plunked down some serious change for a new, fitted driver, a Titleist 909D Comp.  It had a head on it about the size of a small pumpkin, plus all the bells and whistles of the golf technology at that moment.  I liked it; I l still like it a lot, mainly because I could really hit it.  We made beautiful music together.


Then the TaylorMade R11 caught my eye. 


My pal at TaylorMade said he would send me one, if I would play it and write what I thought about it.  I said I would, but that I would write what I really thought.  He said he and the boys in the lab at TaylorMade were willing to take that risk.  He advised me to get myself fitted in Philadelphia and send him the specs.


I knew right away who I would call: Just a few weeks earlier I had gotten a PR release noting that the Golf Galaxy in Devon had been picked by Golf Digest as one of the Top 100 fitting facilities in the country, thanks to their fitting guy, Leigh Taylor, a PGA Master Professional and Life Member.    As it happens, I know Leigh.  He fits and sells all makes and models of drivers and irons, and he takes this stuff as seriously as a heart surgeon takes a triple bypass.


A few mornings later, I was in Leigh’s fitting bay.  "I’ve never seen a driver sell like the R11," Leigh told me as I loosened up.  "Never seen anything like it."


Although Leigh has high praise for several manufacturers, he offered a particular nod to TaylorMade, which invented the metal-headed wood and, later, what he called MWT, or "moveable weight technology."   For the weekend chop who doesn’t have the time, money or inclination for a series of lessons, he can fight a slice with MWT by shifting the weights in the toe and heel of the club.


The R11 has gone one further -- two, really.  Not only does it have 1-gram and 10-gram weights that can be moved from heel to toe, as needed, it has an adjustable shaft, enabling you to increase or decrease the loft of the clubface by as much as a full degree.  Finally, it has a bumper plate on the bottom of the club that gives you another tool in the battle against hooks and slices: an adjustable clubface, with settings of open, neutral or closed.


After an hour of hitting balls with a series of shafts with different flexes and kick points, Leigh printed out a long sheet that measured the results: club speed, ball speed, launch angle, ball spin, carry, deviation, even something called PTR, which stands for "power transfer ratio," tech-speak for was I catching it on the "sweet spot?"


I have hit a low ball all my life, so the biggest puzzle for Leigh was the elusive combination of ball speed/launch angle/ball spin.  Finally, he had it: A Fubuki (stiff) shaft, 10.5 degrees of loft, set ½ degree up, to 11 degrees; the heavier 10-gram weight in the heel, to fight my inclination to hit it right; and the bumper plate set to neutral.


A week or so later, my new R11 arrived.


I have now hit about a dozen buckets of balls and played four rounds with it.  My assessment: I like it more each time out.


In our maiden round together, I wasn’t sold. I couldn’t hit a fairway.  Everything was going right because...well, because I occasionally battle a case of driver yips, and because sometimes golf hates me and mocks me and loves to see me suffer.  I could not lay the blame for those terrible drives at the feet of the R11 or any other club.


With each round since, as my confidence in my swing has returned, my driving has improved .  I played on Friday and only missed one fairway.   On the three or four tee shots when I truly connected, I strutted off the tee box hugging my new driver.  The R11 felt as good as any driver I’ve ever hit.


The adjustability is, of course, one of its biggest selling points of the R11.  Now that I have it set to my liking, it is hard to know whether I will make further adjustments from time to time.  I’m keeping my little TaylorMade wrench in the back of my car, just in case.


I’m enough of a traditionalist that initially, I wasn’t crazy about the R11’s white head.  But it is growing on me, and I’m starting to find it oddly soothing, although I have no idea why.


And one benefit I had not considered: the face of the R11 is a dull black that tends to show where on the club face you connected.  If it feels like you caught one on the toe, the proof is in the mark on the face of the club.  


Bottom line: the R11 is staying in my bag.

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