Herman prepares to watch 'the boss' become POTUS

By Rex HoggardJanuary 18, 2017, 5:32 pm

It was early in the 2006 season at Trump National Bedminster (N.J.) when Mickie Gallagher walked into the club’s posh pro shop and told Jim Herman to lace up his golf shoes.

“You’re going to get to play with the boss,” Gallagher said.

The “boss” is now two days away from a new title – Leader of the Free World – but on that spring day in ’06, Donald J. Trump was just a competitor. It was perhaps the only time the president-elect didn’t claim Herman as his partner, and the future PGA Tour member won that day’s game.

Trump wouldn’t make that mistake again.

Herman, who was an assistant at Trump National at the time, would become the “boss’” regular partner and much more. The real estate-mogul-turned-politician would offer Herman advice, encouragement and eventually well-deserved congratulations.

“It was getting late in my career, just to get that added confidence boost was huge,” Herman said of his time with Trump.

On Friday, Herman will join thousands of Trump supporters and friends at the 58th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t know what to expect,” Herman said with a smile, “never been to one. Seen it on TV a bunch of times, but I’m very excited.”

No president has ever been so closely tied to golf than Trump, whose portfolio currently includes 15 complexes, and no professional golfer is as close to Trump as Herman.

Herman explains it was a “team” that helped guide him from the pro shop at Bedminster to the PGA Tour, and that Trump was an important part of that collective. Even after the 39-year-old earned his Tour card in 2011, he remained Trump’s regular partner including last month just weeks after the election.

“It was different,” Herman said of the round on Dec. 22 at Trump International in Palm Beach, Fla. “A lot more Secret Service [agents], but just a different feeling. He’s the president-elect and he was only three weeks away from the inauguration. I’ve been around him a lot and I’ve always enjoyed being around him, but this time was just a little different.”

Different than say the round the duo played in April or last summer just as the campaign was heating up, or the dozen of times the president-elect teamed with the now-Tour winner. But if the vibe was different post-election, Trump remained the “boss.”

Herman describes Trump as a serious competitor on the golf course with a sublime putting stroke and a keen sense of humor, and he added that their matches are for pride not money.

“His game has not changed a whole lot, he’s not playing a bunch but he’s a great driver of the golf ball and a great putter, in between he needs to work on it,” he said.

Herman also provided some insight into the incoming Chief Executive’s leadership style.

“Anytime I was around him he was very supportive, it’s a different industry than he’s used to working in but he’s jumped into golf full steam ahead,” Herman said. “He’s very loyal to his employees, you’ll see a lot of his employees are there for a lifetime. He’s extremely loyal.”

This loyalty was on display last April when Trump reached out to Herman, via a message from Gallagher, just days after he’d won his first Tour title at the Shell Houston Open. By the time Herman returned home to Florida he had numerous notes from Trump.

“He’s very good at getting his word to you,” Herman said. “Usually, he’ll take an article that’s written about you and he’ll write something on it and get it in the mail right away. I’ve got a bunch of those at home.”

Many consider a Trump presidency to be a potential boon for golf given his connection to the game. His facility in Bedminster is scheduled to host the 2022 PGA Championship and the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, and until this year Trump National Doral was a regular Tour stop and new commissioner Jay Monahan said earlier this month that, “we’re committed to finding a way to get back there [south Florida].”

Having a leader in the White House who is as closely linked to the game can only be good for golf, Herman figures.

“It will just bring people to the game, hopefully,” he said. “He’s great for the game of golf, and I hope we’re at some more of his venues because they are pretty good.”

Herman has played this week’s CareerBuilder Challenge each of the last three seasons, but he’ll miss the circuit’s first mainland stop of the year. Instead, he’ll fly to New Jersey on Thursday morning and he and Gallagher will drive down to the inauguration together that evening.

“I don’t know what the emotions will be,” he admitted.

The president-elect is many things to many people, but for Herman Trump is a friend, advocate, regular golf partner, and now – POTUS.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.