A Quick Round with Bob Toski

By Randall MellMay 28, 2010, 6:12 am

Bob Toski is more preacher than teacher.

At 83, he still possesses a passion for the game that can turn any little patch of grass he’s standing on into a bully pulpit. You never know when a question will lead to one of his fire-and-brimstone rants at the Toski-Battersby Golf Learning Center in Coconut Creek, Fla.

Though he weighed just 118 pounds, Toski was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner in 1954. After leaving the Tour ranks, he would become one of the giants of the golf teaching business, helping establish the Golf Digest Instruction Schools and becoming the first living inductee into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame.

With the PGA Tour stopping at Colonial Country Club this week, Toski took on topics ranging from Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods in a Quick Round:

You played the PGA Tour with Ben Hogan, what’s your favorite memory of him?

That he allowed me to watch him practice, but he never talked to me.

Allowed you?

I probably watched him practice about 12 times, usually for about an hour. That’s about 12 hours I watched him practice, but he never talked to anybody when he was out practicing on Tour.

Did you try to talk to him?

One time, I made the mistake of standing too close to him at the Los Angeles Open. I would stand in back of him when I watched. You stand behind a player to see how they aim and where they are swinging. I took a couple steps too close. He turned, put up his hand and looked at me with those steely hawk eyes, as if to say, “Get your butt back there, boy. I can see those white shoes of yours.”

But he didn’t actually say anything to you?

I’ll never forget, afterward, we met in the locker room. He was taking his shoes off. My locker was down a few lockers. He looked over at me, and he said “You were out there long time today, Bob.” I said, “I was out there as long as you, Ben.” He says, “Yeah, did you learn anything today?” I said. “Every time I watch you, I learn something.” He says, “Good,” and he threw his shoes in his locker and walked out.

What did you learn watching Hogan practice all those times?

How well he aimed the club on the line of play, and swung on the line of play. In other words, he aimed at the target and his golf swing was from online to in, from online to in. It wasn’t inside out or outside-in. When he swung through the golf ball, his golf club would travel left so fast it looked like he shanked it.

Why was that?

He didn’t want the club face to go right and turn over because he was a duck hooker. You’ve got to understand what he was confronting. He was a hell of a hooker of the golf ball. That is what plagued him. He found a grip and a swing to get rid of the hook.

Did watching Hogan help you become a better player?

Oh yes. Hogan’s best year was 1953. My best year was ’54.

You learn by watching. How the hell do you think kids learn? Kids learn things looking at their mothers and fathers. You learn by mimicking. Now, today, they’ve got video, audio. It’s such a science now, you would think we were flying to Venus to learn how to play golf.

What did you try to mimic watching Hogan?

How well he moved. There are three motions you make in a golf swing. You swing, you turn and you shift. That’s all your body does. Those are absolutes. When you swing the golf club, you have a swinging force, a turning force and a shifting force. Hogan synchronized those three. The timing of which he did that was relatively fast, which, I think, is what Hank Haney tried to get Tiger to do, which I don’t think Tiger should have tried to do because he’s not Ben Hogan.

What do you make of Tiger’s swing these days?

Tiger’s become the world’s worst driver for a great player that I’ve ever seen. I think he was trying to do something he shouldn’t have tried to do.

The worst driver for a great player?

I thought Phil Mickelson was bad until Tiger came along.

What do you see in Tiger’s swing that makes him “the worst driver for a great player?”

I think he was a better swinger of the golf club when he was with Butch Harmon. His golf swing in college was a better swing than he has right now. Since he’s tried to make all these changes, he doesn’t deliver the club head toward the target and change direction with control like he used to. He gets in a position where he is so far inside, and he blocks everything to the right because of what he’s trying to do, which I don’t think is correct, which is only my opinion.

So what should he do now?

If he is smart enough, he would learn how to work it out by himself. He has enough information, and he’s old enough to become his own best teacher. There comes a time in life when you have to become your own best teacher.

What problem did you see changing from Harmon to Haney?

One guy wants him more upright, one wants him flatter. The golf swing can’t be standardized. You get enough different information from different teachers, you can get confused about what you want to do. You talk to enough doctors, you don’t know whether to crap or wind your watch.

You think Tiger will right his course and win more majors than Jack Nicklaus?

He has the potential to do that. It’s a matter of whether his mental psyche will be strong enough to overcome all these problems, as a competitor and as a person. He’s lost a lot of confidence in himself as a person because of what’s happened with his family.

He won’t win a major this year, that’s for sure. He can’t mentally focus and apply his concentrated effort to do what he has to do to win a major because of the problems he’s got, because of all the things he’s gone through. It’s going to take him a couple years.

But you can see him beating Nicklaus’ record?

Yes. He’s 34. He can play until he’s 50.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.