A Reason to Play Hooky

By Rex HoggardMarch 16, 2009, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. ' There is a refined elegance to these types of gatherings, no matter the contrived nature or competitive void, like a turn-of-the-century ballpark, however many of those remain, or a comfortable porch.
 
The Tavistock Cup will never be confused for team tilts of deeper meaning and even deeper roots ' Tiger Woods light-hearted offering of a pair of autographed tighty whiteies on the opening tee to Henrik Stenson all but cemented the events place among the games more buoyant gatherings ' but there is an ageless quality to golfs most high-profile club match.
 
The dichotomy between old and new is palpable. The driveway into Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, the cups posh south Orlando digs, is lined with pricey, high-powered ski boats and sports cars. Corporate tents frame the 18th fairway. Motorcycles and boats and all manner of adult toys are on the table for participants, as well as $300K for the stroke play winner. Not a bad take for two days of work.
 
And yet on the course, away from the trappings, there is a gentle aura that comes when fans ' those of the core variety, not the You da man, masses ' gather to watch a game.
 
As Woods drifted passed moss-draped oaks lining the 10th fairway early Monday, the crowds carelessly wandered with him. It was a scene void of the normal sprinting and maneuvering required when the world No. 1 plays the game in public, a civilized and to scale version of the Masters with crowds easing down the middle of fairways, moving to within feet of modern legends and gleaning a rare glimpse into the mind of a touring professional.
 
Its a snapshot from a bygone era. A scene pulled straight from grainy black-and-white photos and historic matches contested by golfs greatest ghosts. The only thing that has changed is the names on the tote boards and the galleries attire ' per Tavistock requests fans must wear either red, representing Isleworth, who else?, or blue, supporting the Lake Nona home team.
 
This must be what it was like for Vardon and Hagen and Sarazen. Back before we had drug testing and launch monitors and fitness trailers, appearances fees were not only acceptable but the only way to pay the bills. They played majors for glory and exhibitions for money and pure entertainment value and the masses gathered not because a marketing machine told them to, but for the experience.
 
In modern terms, the Tavistock Cup is little more than a curiosity for the fringe fan. Without official money or FedEx Cup point implications, wouldnt this be called a practice round? But for the lucky few who donned red and blue the matches are a scene straight out of the cinema classic The greatest game ever played, intimate and unhurried and as good as any reason to play hooky from work.
 
The helicopter service from Isleworth to Lake Nona, a span of less than 15 miles, may seem a bit much and the sprawling hospitality curiously out of place, but the competition is pure and the seats as unobstructed as they come.
 
Besides, part of the events contrived nature is part of the reason it works. Where else could one see Stenson, a European Ryder Cup thoroughbred, teamed with Chris DiMarco, an American cup workhorse? This made-for-the-masses one-off pairs Mark McNulty and Mark OMeara, now Champions Tour staples, with Darren Clarke and Ben Curtis, players still in the prime of their careers.
 
Best of all you get laughs. Laughs from Tour players more often than not blinded by competitive blinders and the moment. Where else would you here one player gush over the opportunity to play with Woods because of the laughs they were going to have?
 
Any time you get to play with Tiger is great. You get to watch him hit shots and in this format you can have a lot of laughs to, said Ian Poulter, Woods singles opponent on Tuesday, with a straight face.
 
Seriousness will envelop the game soon enough. The intensity of Augusta National will soon give way to the pressure of Bethpage Black and the U.S. Open. Soon enough the masses will be moved back behind the gallery ropes and the smiles will fade.
 
So for two days in March we turn the calendars back to before Tiger made the game the coolest ticket in town, and just enjoy the walk.
 

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  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

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    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: