A Nation Full of Playing Partners
And the dream came true. I'm at a nice but not pretentious club near my home in suburban Orlando. And even though my wife gets to play more than me (should I be worried that a bunch of guys court my bride, and her handicap strokes, for club competitions?), I love to go over and practice or squeeze in a quick round before work.
But private clubs are not the only golf versions of 'Cheers' -- you know, where everybody knows your name (and membership number). Public courses, often municipal tracks, have their regulars ('Norm!'). And although I love club life, I sometimes miss one of the joys of the public course player: making new friends on the golf course.
Traveling around the country as I do, I get lots of chances to remedy this. Just last week, I covered the U.S. Amateur Publinx Championship in Bremerton, Wash., across Puget Sound from Seattle. West coast events offer the best chance for me to play after work. If 'Golf Central' starts at 7 p.m. in the east, I need to satellite all my stuff by 4 p.m. Pacific time ' and it stays light forever in the northwest this time of year.
McCormick Woods Golf Club, a pine-lined gem with very nice greens, serves the Bremerton-Port Orchard area. It was raining when I started, but I didnt care; I dashed right out. Bad idea to head out without a warm-up: in the first four holes, I sent half a dozen balls into the pine forest and berry thickets.
I managed to calm myself down. The rain stopped, I got out of the rain suit, and began to enjoy the scenery. Now, there are times when I love to play golf alone. But other times, companions complete the scene. And right on cue, here were two.
Henry and Peter, two Korean gentlemen, waited on a tee for me to catch up. I yanked my drive ' I wasnt completely calmed down yet ' and Henry, the middle-aged one, said, Oh, I think thats in Peters house. He lives up there. We all laughed.
We had a good time learning about each other. Henry had just moved up from Los Angeles, and so far, so good, he said. Certainly easier to get a tee time. Peter, who looked to be about 30, said he liked the Bremerton-Tacoma area very much. But October to March, he said, shaking his head, well, you better like rain.
Peter suggested a sushi bar near my hotel in Tacoma. Henry surveyed the shaft in my 3-wood and we chatted about tip flexibility. We all at one time or another hit shots worthy of praise by the others. I left feeling a lot better about the last 14 holes than I did about the first four.
A couple nights later, after the Publinx had wrapped up, I played at Gold Mountain Golf Club, which is run by the city of Bremerton. But this is no overplayed muni ' Gold Mountain has 36 excellent holes, and one of the courses was good enough for the Publinx. I played the Cascades course with locals Rick, Mike, and Dennis, all mid-40s guys like me. In the cart with Rick was his 12-year daughter, Danielle.
It was good to go around Cascades with someone who knew where to hit it. They didnt mind that I walked as they rode. Rick and I discussed his irons and trajectory in general. Once you get out there, you realize how many students of the game there are in golf.
Danielle, eternally patient, seemed to delight in just riding along. She kept her Dads score and drove the cart, doing a brake-stand every time she needed to stop. After awhile, I got her to admit she likes soccer, but isnt much into golf, at least not playing it. So naturally, I made her hit my par putt on No. 7. She didnt miss by any more than I would have.
They take me back, these meetings with new golf friends. When I was learning the game in Pittsburgh at Oakmont East, the hilly public track near Oakmont Country Club, my happenstance companions ran the gamut from an old Japanese man (who invited me to his home for a beer in his perfectly manicured garden) to a pot-bellied fellow in a stained orange-shirt and a bucket-hat (whose habit it was, while others were putting, to raise himself up and down on his toes as he popped his entire ball into his mouth to clean it).
So many columns, mine included, are full of sentences that begin, The golf community should, as if we are picking on some shortcoming. But this is something golf does right. Public golf helps people make new friends, either formally (McCormick Woods has a weekday Nine and Dine golf-dinner event) or otherwise.
So even if youre in a club, branch out from time to time. You never know what sort of memorable characters youll meet.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball
Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.
In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.
"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’
Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.
“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.
“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’
Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.
The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving
Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.
The major championships I'm certainly proud of, but Barbara, the kids and my grandkids are the best things to ever happen to me. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/wkma1Q9LlK— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) November 23, 2017
GC Tiger Tracker:
Mixing Thanksgiving and waiting for a week from today. pic.twitter.com/u9m9WxQNYx— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 23, 2017
Happy thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. #Thankful— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) November 23, 2017
Was reading about Thanksgiving. Originally they ate waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Seems a bit tastier than Turkey!— Frank Nobilo (@FrankNobiloGC) November 23, 2017
Literally food for thought.
Tyrone Van Aswegen:
Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017
Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.
Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan
Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.
Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.
Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:
“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”
Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.
“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”
Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.
“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”
Best Greg story: coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes “Yep, caddied for her, her, her and her” Legend— Matthew Galloway (@matthewgalloway) November 23, 2017
In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.
“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”
Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.
“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”
The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time Tour caddie, Greg Sheridan. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP pic.twitter.com/QKy0YdK249— LPGA (@LPGA) November 22, 2017
Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.
“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.
Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:
Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:
Sad to hear the passning of Greg Sheridan. This photo brings back many memories. Always respected his caddy skills and devotion to womens golf. @natalie_gulbis @LPGA #RIPGreg pic.twitter.com/lHU3Ixz9Vk— Annika Sorenstam (@ANNIKA59) November 23, 2017
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:
Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:
Professional caddies are often overlooked and underrated. But they're just as often the unsung MVP of a player's success. We just lost a great one. RIP Greg Sheridan. He was the 1st to welcome me to my LPGA assignment years ago. He will be missed eternally.— Jerry Foltz (@JerryFoltzGC) November 22, 2017
Rest with the Angels now, Greg Sheridan. ❤️— Christina Kim (@TheChristinaKim) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:
RIP Greg Sheridan. One of the most successful and great caddies of World Golf, period.— Shaun Clews (@shaunclews1973) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:
Sad to here that long time tour caddy Greg Sheridan has passed away! RIP Greg, you will be missed. — Jonny Scott (@stixy76) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:
The world is a sadder place today without our buddy Greg Sheridan, a caddy and a friend for lifetimes...Godspeed buddy— Kevin Casas (@TheKevinCasas) November 23, 2017
LPGA pro Jennie Lee:
So sad to hear the news of long time LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan. I️ remember sitting next to him on the plane from Walmart to the US Open one year and he gave me the best words of wisdom on player/caddie chemistry. He will be missed greatly. Thinking of you @natalie_gulbis ❤️— Jennie Lee (@JennieLeeGolf) November 23, 2017