Spending the Day With Hootie

By Kelly TilghmanFebruary 20, 2004, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: The Golf Channel's special presentation of 'Hootie &
The Blowfish: Mic'd For Play' premieres Tuesday Feb. 24 at 8:30 P.M. ET.

August 6, 1994. I remember my 25th birthday like it was yesterday. I was teaching golf in Stratton Mountain, Vermont and one of my best friends from high school flew all the way in from our home state of South Carolina so that we could celebrate our birthdays together.
We weren't rich so our gifts to each other were modest but heartfelt. He knew I had a passion for music so he bought me a Hootie and the Blowfish CD titled Cracked Rear View. At the time I had no idea who this band was but he assured me they were 'the next big thing'. He was especially proud to give it to me because they were a South Carolina band. 'We need to support our hometown boys' he said.
I popped it into the stereo that afternoon and enjoyed every single song. Little did I know Hootie and the Blowfish would eventually win two Grammy awards for the hit song Let Her Cry and would go on to sell more than 16 million copies of the multi-platinum album..
Darius Rucker and Kelly TilghmanSince those days, Hootie and the Blowfish have become a household name in the music industry and it's no secret that the four band members (Darius Rucker, Jim 'Soni' Sonefeld, Mark Bryan and Dean Felber) have an insatiable passion for the game of golf. They even have their own fundraising tournament called Monday After the Masters. It's a star-studded celebrity pro-am that raises money for the South Carolina Junior Golf Association and its 10th event will be held this April in Myrtle Beach.
To help promote the wildly successful pro-am, The Golf Channel invited Hootie and the Blowfish into its studios to perform a concert for our worldwide audience and the band graciously accepted. A proud South Carolinian was asked to host the festivities called Hootie and the Blowfish: Mic'd for Play. That fortunate and excited person was ME! Ten years ago I was unwrapping their breakthrough CD asking 'Who are these guys?' This time around, I had a front row seat mixed with a backstage and onstage pass. It was truly an honor.
I had briefly met the band the year before while co-hosting the Monday After the Masters show that aired on The Golf Channel. Seeing the guys for the first time since then, it was refreshingly obvious that none of them had changed a bit. Darius (lead vocals) still had amazing star power. Soni (drums) still had his trademark long hair and Mark (lead guitar) still had his boyish curly locks. Dean (bass guitar) was still the quiet one armed with that ever-charming smile.
They arrived approximately three hours before taping was scheduled to begin and meandered through the hallways of TGC, comfortably mixing with the employees as if they'd been there a hundred times. The band only needed an hour to rehearse. Shortly thereafter we began to tape the show that includes six of their greatest hits of all time. I can't tell you which songs they were but I can tell you three things about them. They nailed every one. The crowd was thoroughly entertained and several can be heard on their soon to be released Best of Hootie and the Blowfish album slated to hit the stores this spring.
Between songs, the guys shared personal stories about each other, a touching recollection of the 'trip of a lifetime' for the band and their most memorable moments on the golf course (one involving Tiger Woods and an unbelievable shot).
After the show, the guys kindly stuck around and took pictures with dozens of admirers, of course, I was one of them. Hosting this concert was a personal highlight in all of my time at The Golf Channel and I promise that it will be one of yours if you tune in to the premiere on February 24th.
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes - Hootie & The Blowfish: Mic'd For Play
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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    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."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    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.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    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."