Wish Come True

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 2, 2008, 5:00 pm
Editor's note: If you have a story of inspiration, or how golf and life have intertwined, e-mail Mercer Baggs at mbaggs@golfchannelclub.com
 
She took barely a second to ponder the question.
 
August, she answered. It hasn't been this hot since then.
 
Molly Esordi is a native of Grosse Ile, Mich., where temperatures peaked at 25 degrees on Thursday. Fortunately for Molly and her family, they weren't home, but in Orlando, Fla., where the mercury pushed over 80.
 
Gray slush and white ice was replaced by reddened skin from a bright yellow sun. And there was the 14-year-old high school freshman, her family ' dad, Thomas; mom, Leslie; sisters Sarah, 12, and Margaret, 10; and little brother Nicholas, 5 ' having the time of their lives.
 
Annika Sorenstam and Molly Esordi
Molly Esordi gets Annika Sorenstam's set of expert eyes on her swing.
This will be a day we, as a family, will long, long remember, said Leslie. And it will be a day Molly will never forget.
 
Molly and family were in Orlando as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In late 2006, Molly discovered a lump underneath her arm. It was quickly diagnosed as Hodgkins lymphoma and on Dec. 8, 2006 she was admitted to the hospital.
 
A couple of days into her treatment, a social worker came by to tell Molly she was able to make a wish. Molly responded quicker than she did when asked about the heat.
 
I knew right away (what I wanted), she said. There was nothing else I wanted to do.
 
Molly wanted to play golf with Annika Sorenstam.
 
Sorenstam has been associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for a year, which made the likelihood of an encounter all-the-more possible. All Sorenstam had to do was say yes.
 
There wasnt a bit of hesitation, said Mike McGee, Sorenstams fianc. She believes in everything the foundation stands for.
 
Im all about dreams, added Annika.
 
The process went smoothly and quickly. Molly was able to meet her idol Thursday at the Ginn Reunion Resort, which houses the ANNIKA Academy. Annika took Molly and her family on a guided tour of the facilities. They then had a little lunch, hit a few practice balls, and made their way out to the course for a round of golf together.
 
Along the way, Molly was presented with some matching Annika attire as well as a new set of Callaway clubs.
 
This is so cool, Molly said of the experience. Its unreal.
 
Molly is a shy girl, at least in front of tape recorders and cameras ' and there were a handful of media out at Reunion this day. She didnt have too much to say about her condition other than, It was hard.
 
Her parents, however, were a little more descriptive concerning the situation, if not still confused.
 
As a parent, still to this day, Leslie and I dont understand it completely, Thomas said. We just focused on Molly and the positive attitude she had.
 
The toughest part for us, her family, was we couldnt help her as much as we wanted. It was her battle.
 
And she was very positive, said Leslie. She was confident she was going to beat it.
 
Starting Day 1,' Thomas continued. 'she made up her mind that it was not going to change her life or ours.'
 
When asked how the disease had affected her life, Molly replied, It really hasnt.
 
Hodgkins lymphoma, according to the National Cancer Society, is characterized by the spread of the disease from one lymph node group to another. It usually affects young people age 15-35, or adults over the age of 55. It is also more prevalent in males than in females.
 
Being a 14-year-old girl, Molly was not in any of the target groups. But the disease found her anyway. Hodgkins, though, is the most curable form of cancer, usually through chemotherapy.
 
Mollys cancer is now in remission. If it stays that way for five years, she will be considered cured, Leslie said.
 
The most common misnomer about the Make-A-Wish Foundation is that it grants wishes to only terminally-ill patients. That is not the case. It does so for those facing life-threatening medical conditions.
 
We want to be able to give kids hope, a reason to keep fighting, said Mike Pressendo, the Director of Brand Communications for Make-A-Wish. This can be the light at the end of the tunnel.
 
The wish can be whatever their hearts desire. We want this to be the best time of their life.
 
Mollys heart desired to play golf with the greatest female player of all-time. Golf, as it turned out, was instrumental in her recovery process.
 
It helped take her mind off everything that was going on, Leslie said.
 
Molly learned the game at the Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club, where her family has a membership and both of her parents play.
 
She started at the very beginning of the junior program, said Dad.
 
This past fall, Molly competed on her high school team as a freshman. She says her low round is 102, which might seem easy to dismiss, but consider that shes 14, successfully battled cancer, lives in a northern state where the sport is shut down months at a time, and that career best came on a cold, wet and windy final day of the State Championship, and its far more impressive.
 
Apparently, Molly performs her best when the stakes are the highest ' in golf and in life.
 
Annika Sorenstam and Molly Esordi
Annika gives Molly a high-five after whopper of a drive. (Photo courtesy: Susan Pankau, Golfotos)
The stakes werent high Thursday, but the nerves were running rampant as she stepped on the Reunion range to hit balls next to a 69-time LPGA winner.
 
After a few indifferent iron shots, Molly grabbed her new Callaway driver. With Annika pausing to watch, she smoked one as straight and true as if it were struck by Annika herself.
 
That one even caught her mom by surprise. Wow! she exclaimed. Annika walked over and gave her a high-five.
 
Molly may live to be 100, but there wont be anything quite like those 10 seconds for the rest of her life.
 
One day Molly hopes to play on the LPGA, though Dad says, Lets focus on college first.
 
Her more immediate goals are: Id really like it if I could win the Miss Golf title when I get to be a senior. Maybe win the State title, too.
 
You certainly cant count out anyone whos already defeated an opponent like cancer.
 
As Molly and Annika headed out to play a round, a small gaggle of reporters and tag-alongs accompanied them. That lasted for two holes before everyone else peeled off and left the two of them alone, with only Mollys mom following from afar.
 
Come Saturday, the whole family is using a one-day Park Hopper pass to bounce around from one theme park to another. Just as the disease affects not only the individual but the entire family, this trip was for everyone as well.
 
We've all been excited about this for a long time, Leslie said.
 
This experience was one of family fun. It was a reward for all of them who had shared in this battle. But most of all, it was a wish made true for a young lady who had beaten back a life-threatening illness.
 
Were not going to think about that today, Annika said when asked about Mollys cancer. This is a day about golf.
 
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

    Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

    Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

    Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

    It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

    Goodbye and good riddance.

    The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

    “What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.

    Amen.

    The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

    Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.



    Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

    But at what cost?

    The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

    The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

    We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

    In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

    We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

    Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

    We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

    “What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

    Amen again.

    We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

    Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

    There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

    This is good governance.

    And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

    This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

    We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

    Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

    Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

    Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

    David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

    “Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

    Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

    “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

    Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

    Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

    Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

    1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

    2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

    While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”