The 4th of July to Me

By Michael CollinsJuly 3, 2008, 4:00 pm
I caddied for George (Lopez) on Tuesday. David Feherty had a golf tournament at the Chevy Chase Country Club called Fehertys IED of Golf: An Improvised Explosive Day presented by Troops First Foundation.
Jason Gore, Rod Pampling, Tom Watson and Frank Lickliter II were the PGA TOUR pros. Feherty, Lopez, Leeann Tweeden (guys, seriously, Google her if you dont know), and Tubby Smith (who I found out used to recruit in my hometown when he was an assistant coach at VCU) were the celebs.
George Lopez, David Feherty and company
George, David and company.
The day began with a chipping demonstration by Watson, but believe me when I tell you, do NOT let Tom ever become a teacher, great concepts for amateurs but BAD habits. The honest truth is a great short game is not teachable. You either have the touch of a skilled massage therapist or you have the touch of a lumberjack trying to do needle point. To prove this point, earlier in the morning when we were having breakfast chatting with Leeann, she mentioned to George and I how terrified she was hitting in front of people and how at one event she walked down the fairway after they announced her name to avoid throwing up. Oooops! George and I may not be the best people to tell that to before a chipping demo.
So while Watson is doing his thing, George sneaks over and tells Feherty to announce Leeann will chip next to demonstrate what Watson was just teaching. Of course, Watson chips in and the small crowd finishes clapping. And then: And now Leeann will come up and demonstrate. Now when I say she shrunk six inches right there it seriously looked like she turn into a dwarf. Too bad there was no where to hide and now the crowd is urging her on.
Sometimes its fun to get a really hot girl to give you the stink eye cause she realized you burned her. Its even funnier when she shanks a chip and makes a sound man jump a foot off the ground to avoid the screaming meemie golf orb traveling at an angle and speed my high school geometry teacher said wasnt possible! Two more shanks and Watson steps in to help. Three more shanks... Thats Tom Watson Golf School, only $8 dollars for a full day of short game lessons and you too are guaranteed to get the ball four inches off the ground while it travels Mach 5 at a 70-degree angle towards the cart you just parked on the other side of the green! Man my cheeks were hurting and we hadnt even teed off.
We were playing with armed service men and women who have combat wounds. Now losing an arm or a leg is not a wound; its a life change. And these heroes are telling George and I how they want to go back to Afghanistan to fight some more. David said these guys dont want sympathy, they want comedy, so on the first tee one of our guys who lost his left arm is putting on a specially designed prosthetic to hold the club and I say, I guess the one with the stiff shaft is for those quiet, alone times. It was the longest two seconds of silence I have ever experienced, then he turns and belly laughs along with everyone else in our group and says, Yeah but that one is ALOT longer!
And thats how the day went. The other kid (and he was a kid) who was playing had his right leg shot off from the knee down. He was told he should only wear his new leg at physical therapy. He said, Its my leg! You cant give a chick fake boobs and ask her only to wear them in the office. Thats not what was actually said but its the cleanest version I am allowed to tell yall. Two guys were driving carts for the group. One had half of his left leg missing; the other had been shot twice while tending to his buddy. All of them were in the same battalion and all of them would do it again in a second for our country AND each other.
Feherty got a special promotion to Private First Class, which is funny cause every time we see each other on the course thats exactly where we try and hit each other, and he cried something terrible trying to tell the guys what it meant to him. Sometimes it takes a citizen who wasnt born in this country to help us appreciate what we have here. David said something that put a lump in my throat, too: We hear so much in the news in this country about everyone hating America, but believe me, Ive been all around the world, if everyone hated America so much why are they all trying to get here?
Wow.... Have a great 4th of July weekend everyone, God Bless America.
p.s.: I took the picture thats why Im not in it ya knuckleheads!
Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
Email your thoughts to Michael Collins
Related Links:
  • Michael Collins Archive
  • Getty Images

    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

    Getty Images

    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

    Getty Images

    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

    Getty Images

    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.