Golfers Who Give Back: Bill Clinton

By Golf DigestNovember 30, 2012, 7:30 pm

Less than a week after his stirring speech at the Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton brought that same charisma and a healthy golf game to Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J., where for six hours he took 'about 85' strokes in Mario Batali's annual charity event. Engrossed as ever with the game introduced to him at age 12 by an uncle, Clinton, 66, can talk golf for hours. Especially if the conversation includes the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge and the Clinton Foundation's partnership through its Health Matters conference that's making the former Bob Hope Desert Classic one of the California Swing's important events.

Q: Seems like golf's a priority for you again.

A: I've really tried to get it back this year. I've probably played 25 rounds in 2012.

Q: Which round was most memorable?

A: This summer I got to go back and play Shinnecock with my friend Jimmy Dunne. I just adore it there. You get in those first seven holes, in that bowl, it's eerily quiet - magnificently quiet - and you realize you're living in a temple of golf. The wind was blowing, and I always figure if I break 90 there, I'm doing all right.


Golfers Who Give Back: Michael J. Fox | Michael Phelps | Morgan Freeman


Q: What's the best 18-hole score of your life?

A: I think I shot a 76 once on a little course down the hill from Camp David. On the back nine there's a par 5 nearly 600 yards long. One time when I was president I got within five yards of getting there in two. Another time, I was playing a course in Calgary, and after I made a 30-foot birdie putt on 16 I had a chance to shoot 78 or 79 even if I bogeyed out. But I had to quit because I was late to give a speech.

Q: You credit a 5-iron to an inch on a par 3 when you were 15 as the shot that hooked you on the game. Was there a moment in the past few years that has kept you hooked?

A: My best golf came during the first year I was out of the White House. I was still strong, could hit the ball a long ways, and I got down to a 10-handicap. And then when I started working in Haiti and didn't stop anything else, I quit playing for a couple of years except at odd times. I also had a second heart procedure that made me change my diet and made me weaker, and I just wasn't playing very well. I went out and broke 85 one day and started hitting the ball a long way again. I thought, Well, I'm not dead yet. That's the way it is. Just when you get ready to give up, something wonderful happens.

Q: Golf Digest readers love our What's in My Bag feature with tour players. What's in your bag right now?

A: I have the newest TaylorMade driver, 3-wood and 5-wood. I've had trouble the last several years getting a 3-wood I can hit consistently, but I can hit this one. I've got an old 23-degree Callaway hybrid club. And I've got some TaylorMade irons that are not the latest edition, but I hit them pretty well. I play some old Callaway irons when I'm home. And I've got an old Odyssey 2-Ball putter with a black insert, not a white insert. It's a mallet head that I like for two reasons: One, I can putt from off the green pretty well with it and judge the distance fairly well, and two, ever since I turned 40 my eyesight's not so good, and this one has three lines so it's easier to line up a putt. Most of the time I don't carry a 3- or 4-iron. I'll take a lob wedge 'cause I'm in bunkers a lot, and it helps me get out and not go over the green as much. [Laughs.]

Q: President Bush (43) said it was inappropriate for him to play golf while those in our armed forces were risking their lives overseas, and President Obama has been criticized for playing too much golf. How do you feel about the president playing golf?

A: I never feel bad when I see a president on a golf course. Presidents need to rest their minds, not just their bodies. They need the exercise, the fresh air. And they need to do something that, literally, takes them away from what they're doing. The day I played with President Obama, I'd had about three hours' sleep, and I was so exhausted I could barely stand up. But when the president calls and asks you to play golf, you show up.

Q: Who won?

A: He actually beat me by a stroke that day. Normally he wouldn't because I've been playing so much longer than he has, but he did pretty well that day, even though he's prone to scoop it a little bit instead of hit down to it. The skills that make him good on a basketball court, the fact he's long, wiry and fit, give him a nice swing. When he leaves the White House, he could be down in the single digits if he wants.

Q: The Clinton Foundation's partnership with the Humana Challenge effectively resuscitated the former Bob Hope Desert Classic. What did you learn in year one?

A: I learned that these golfers really do care, that they wanted to see Bob Hope's legacy kept alive, and that they like to give. I've also been impressed with golfers' commitments to health, and one of my favorites is Notah Begay. He's had a very successful career as a player, but if he had cared less about his people and improving health and other things for Native Americans, he would've won a lot more tournaments. I've found a lot of golfers who do this not because it's a mark they check for their accountant but because they want to make a difference. Phil Mickelson is very serious about it. I was at the opening of Tiger Woods' school in Southern California, and it's as good of a program as I've ever seen. Tiger's trying to have a discernible impact on the education of kids who he knew wouldn't get those opportunities otherwise. Those are just a few examples. I could give you more.

Q: Where do you get this passion for improving the health and wellness of our younger generation?

A: We spend over $140 billion in this country treating completely avoidable health problems. Many of them are rising out of diabetes, including heart problems, stroke problems and a lot of other things. If we want to bring down our health-care costs, we've got to take better care of ourselves.

Q: Are there health benefits to playing golf?

A: Absolutely. If you walk a hilly course on a windy day and you play all 18 holes, you won't say golf isn't a sport and golfers aren't athletes. I'm convinced one of the reasons my late stepfather lived to 89 and lived as well as he did was because he played a lot of golf.

Q: Do you walk or ride when you play?

A: When I can, I like to walk. Even if you walk just half the time, playing golf makes a big difference to your health as you get older. That's one of the great things about this game.


Interview conducted by Craig Bestrom; Click here to visit GolfDigest.com

Photography by Walter Iooss Jr.

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

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

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

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.”

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.”

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:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.