Fathers Golf and Generations
That third Sunday in June, now always the day of the final regulation round of the U.S. Open, opens for many a stretch of warm afternoons and warmer memories. They often involve golf. (Moms, dont worry. If theres any justice, all year is Mothers Season.)
As our numerous contacts with Golf Channel viewers for our first-ever Fathers Day promotion showed, thousands of golfers of all ages recall learning and playing the game with their fathers ' men who likely enjoyed the same gift from their own dads. That special triangular bond between a father, his children and the game has been much discussed in barrooms, by firesides, on airplanes, and naturally, in books. James Dodsons Final Rounds, about the authors trip around Scotland with his terminally ill father, was a notable one.
But just as fatherhood is eternal, so does this subject seem inexhaustible. The latest invigorating read on fathers and golf is Golf Dads, by Curt Sampson, author of The Lost Masters, Royal and Ancient, and a number of other golf books.
Sampson, a former touring pro, recently lost his own golf dad, Bob. After examining his relationship with his father, he set out on the trail of other father-son golf stories. Some are famous (Lee Trevino, Peter Jacobsen), while others are not (one mans father, an expert in butterflies, took his family to Mexico every summer, where the son learned the game on a course tucked way back in the jungle).
Why golf and fathers? Because dads so often introduce their children to this sport that is as much a culture as a game, Sampson said recently from his home in Ennis, Texas. Because almost every big golf pro Ive ever met was anxious to talk about his father. And because the game makes visible the dramas of childhood and parenthood.
Those dramas, whose significance might not be realized as theyre being played out, are the scripts many children rerun later in life, contemplating the changes fathers and children must go through.
Ive long been fascinated by the giant Xs our lives make, such as the moment when a fathers declining physical strength is momentarily equaled by his son, then, seemingly a moment later, surpassed. Sampson said. But strength is only the most obvious and easily tracked intersection. Skill, wit, success, experience, and wisdom advance and decay in the son and the father at different rates, and sometimes the metaphor of lines on a graph isnt adequate to explain whats going on.
Weighty stuff. But Golf Dads is not a heavy read. Golf ' and golf courses ' appear again and again as opportunities for parental gift-giving.
Fathers care about passing something of themselves to their kids ' attitude, philosophy, religion, a game. Sampson said. Golf is the best stage ever for the attitude part, in my opinion. Plus you get that shared challenge deal from your five mile stroll together.
And the more innocuous parts of those strolls, the ones that now or later will bring involuntary smiles to the faces of the children involved, figure large in the tales Sampson relates. Theres poignancy, yes, but never syrup. Returning long after his late father has netted his last butterfly, Gilbert the lepidopterists son hears the old Mexican man who carried his bag intone his name ' Heel-bare ' and the sound alone brings back memories of the father and all those summers, decades ago. Peter Jacobsen recalls rounds with his father and brothers and sisters, some light-hearted times that belied Erling Jacobsens stoic exterior (a war hero, he never discussed the war; not an overly demonstrative man, his children nonetheless were sure of his love).
Those who have golf, or a dad, or both ' or perhaps will soon become a dad ' will enjoy this book.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.