Golf Loses Great Friend in Bob Hope
Hope died Sunday at 100 years of age. Golf lost one of its greatest ambassadors. As the late Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist Jim Murray once wrote, 'The really great sports passion of Bob Hope's life is golf. I don't suppose anybody has ever done more for the game, not Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, not anybody except possibly the Scotsman who invented it in the first place.'
Hope came on stage carrying a golf club during his routine, and the sport was never far away if he could get in a quick nine. He played with virtually everybody ' Presidents, kings, celebrities and common people.
If you watch a game, it's fun. If you play at it, it's recreation. If you work at it, it's golf. Hope said it, and rarely has one man taken it to heart so literally.
Hope had homes in Toluca Lake, Calif., near Los Angeles, and Palm Springs.
At the Toluca Lake home he lived adjoining Lakeside Country Club, where he could easily get out and practice chip shots ' which he did until just a few years ago. At Palm Springs, he lent his name ' and much of his energy ' to the Bob Hope Desert Classic, a staple on the PGA Tour since the 1960s.
He started playing to escape the boredom of a constant life of the road. 'During the spring of 1930 on the Orpheum Circuit I'd be waiting around the hotel lobby in the late morning when the Diamond Brothers, another act, would come down with their golf clubs, Hope said. They played every day. One day I said. Well, hell, I'll go out there with you. I've been playing the game ever since.
His first date with Dolores Reade, whom he married in 1934, was centered around golf. They had dinner at an Italian restaurant in New York City, then ruined a tablecloth drawing golf holes.
'We played all the time, together when he'd let me,' Dolores said in a GolfWorld magazine interview. 'And we've been playing since. I only beat him one time - in Vienna, Austria, where he shot 76 and I shot 75. I never let him forget it.
People ask Bob how we've stayed happily married for almost 70 years, and he says because he's only been home for three weeks. He says he had to work that hard to pay for his golf.'
Of course, his greatest contribution to the sports is probably the Classic. It was in 1965 that the Palm Springs Golf Classic became the Bob Hope Desert Classic. Hope had one demand ' that he didnt have to attend committee meetings.
Hope performed at the Classic Ball at the tournament for years ' for free, of course. And yet, he created the Eisenhower Medical Center, the Betty Ford Clinic and the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center. Hope and Dolores donated the 80 acres of land that the centers stand on. And the Classic has raised more than $38 million for Palm Springs area causes.
Hope, though, is renowned for his charitable work. His work with the television network NBC is almost as well-identified as his work was with the Classic. His daughter, Linda, explained that the Toluca Lake home and Hopes love for golf played a big part in his decision.
'The house was so close to the studio,' she says. 'ABC and CBS were much farther away. And he was able to be close to the golf course at Lakeside Country Club, where he could hit a few balls between (studio) setups.
A few of Bob Hopes golf jokes:
'Players occasionally have to contend with these gusty desert winds. I hit a ball into the wind one day... but I shouldn't have watched it with my mouth open. I'm the only guy around here with an Adam's Apple marked Spalding Kro-Flite.'
'I set out to play golf with the intention of shooting my age, but I shot my weight instead!'
'I asked my good friend, Arnold Palmer how I could improve my game, he advised me to cheat!'
'I've played some strange rounds of golf in my travels. One course in Alaska was hacked out of the wilderness. My caddy was a moose. Every time I reached for a club he thought I was trying to steal his antlers.'
'The Scottish caddies are great. One old fellow at St. Andrews told me, 'I had a golfer who was so lousy he threw his clubs into the water. Then he dived in himself. I thought he was going to drown, but I remembered he couldn't keep his head down long enough.'
'You all know Jerry Ford -- the most dangerous driver since Ben Hur. Ford is easy to spot on the course. He drives the cart with the red cross painted on top. Whenever I play with him, I usually try to make it a foursome -- the President, myself, a paramedic and a faith healer. One of my most prized possession is the Purple Heart I received for all the golf I've played with him.
'Whenever I play with Ford these days I carry 13 clubs and a white flag. I try to win only enough from him to pay my extra insurance premiums.'
About former vice-president Spiro Agnew, Hope said, 'I was his partner one day at Palm Springs, although I didn't realize it until my caddy handed me a blindfold and a cigarette.'
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.