Yeah! Yeah! No? Are the Beatles connected to golf?

By Jason SobelJuly 14, 2014, 3:15 pm

The world’s best golfers converge this week upon the city of Liverpool, a city best known for being home to the Open Championship every so often.

Oh, and some rock-and-roll band, too.

The Beatles were formed in Liverpool in 1960, and by all accounts they had a fair amount of success. You know, if 45 gold albums, 21 No. 1 hits and an entire “mania” named in their honor is your kind of thing.

Clearly, living their formative years in such a golf hotbed, the game must have endeared itself to John, Paul, George and Ringo. Surely, there must be plenty of links between the Beatles and, well, the links. Undoubtedly, there was a mutual love affair between the two.

So I set out to find some answers.

I went in search of how golf impacted them.

I needed to know those connections.

“The Beatles and the connection to golf,” Beatles historian Martin Lewis told me, “is what might best be described as less than a trace element.”

OK, maybe this wasn’t going to be so easy.


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“None of the Beatles had the sporting bug,” he continued. “Neither as participants, nor spectators. John enjoyed swimming when he was a kid. George followed Formula 1 motor racing from his 30s. But none of the four were sports players or major spectators – and certainly not players of golf. To the best of my knowledge, none of the four even followed golf.”

As if that wasn’t definitive enough, he closed with this:

“There are very few rock musicians who have been into golf, but the Beatles are not among them.”

I believed him and yet, I still couldn’t believe it.

The signs are too numerous.

I mean, “Getting Better” sounds like it was arranged on a driving range. “Here Comes the Sun” during a rain delay. “With a Little Help From My Friends” matches up to match play. “Help!” after a particularly disappointing round.

And don’t even get me started on “I Am the Walrus,” which is obviously one of the top-10 songs ever written as an ode to Craig Stadler.

No, I didn’t believe the Beatles didn’t love the game of golf, so I kept on searching for connections.

“There’s barely no connection between the Beatles and golf,” declared Mark Lewisohn, another Beatles historian. “They weren’t interested. In fact, they weren’t interested in sports, period. But …”

Hey! A crack in the case! There’s a “But …” to give us all hope!

“The Beatles also shot videos on a golf course,” he explained. “For ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ in 1967. And in 1963, they posed for publicity photos on a golf course. But these occasions were more about using the wide open spaces than sports.”

The course seen in those two videos is Knole Park Golf Club in Sevenoaks, Kent. The one on which they posed for photos was Allerton Municipal Golf Course.

Of the latter track, Lewisohn said, “It was a short-cut route between Paul’s childhood house and John’s.”

So there’s a connection. Sort of. But still, I wanted more. I needed more. I refused to believe that none of the Fab Four had ever been indoctrinated into the game. It had to have made some impact on them at some point.

And so I kept trying.

“A claim has been made – and I use the term loosely – that John, Paul and George served as caddies,” explained Bruce Spizer, yet another Beatles historian, “and used some of this money to purchase their instruments.”

Eureka!

There’s the answer. There’s the connection. The Beatles were caddies! What a great backstory about the …

“It sounds good and gives people a reason to sell golf balls with their logo on it,” Spizer continued, “but the fact is that can’t be confirmed.”

Well, that doesn’t mean that it can’t not be confirmed … uh, right?

“McCartney said he sometimes went to the golf course trying to work as a caddie, but older kids got the job instead,” he said. “He has no recollections of being a caddie.”

There’s not even, like, a small chance?

“Bootle Golf Club would have been fairly close. That’s the one that’s cited when they talk about the three Beatles serving as caddies. If anything, I think it’s more of a myth as opposed to reality. That happens a lot with the Beatles.”

Not only is it a myth, it’s one so widely cited that Spizer already had a line ready to go in response to my questions.

“That story sounded a bit off course to me,” he offered. “The fair way to go without being in the rough is to say there’s no evidence they were ever caddies.”

Punny guy.

But he’s got a point.

As you watch this week’s edition of the Open Championship from Royal Liverpool, you can be confident in the knowledge that there’s really not much of a connection between the Beatles and golf.

Me? I’m not giving up. I’ll be spending the week listening to “Let It Be” backwards, just hoping for more clues.

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With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”


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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.


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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”


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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.


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Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1