Introducing the Family to Golf

By Rich LernerJanuary 5, 2005, 5:00 pm
Next weekend we're planning a family root canal. Over the Martin Luther King holiday we're taking the gang to a three hour lecture on astro physics. But New Year's Day was perfect for the first ever Lerner family golf outing'me and my wife, Robin, and two sons, Jesse, 12, and Jack, 6.

Why waste a gorgeous 80 degree, Orlando day watching meaningless bowl games and getting orange Dorito dust on the sofa?

Robin's been a dutiful driving range companion through our 15 years of marriage but has never to my knowledge played a full round. With some formal dance training, she understands body movement and has a pretty solid swing. Plenty of times I've eschewed the teachings of Leadbetter and Flick and instead leaned on the sage, living room advice from Robin, who knows what a basket case I am. I was really looking forward to her debut.

My oldest has just taken up the game and played two full rounds with me while on vacation. Like most his age, he shows flashes but isn't yet refined nor experienced enough to break 100. Like most his age, he has realistic expectations. If he doesn't shoot 71 he lapses into a pre-teen funk that usually leads to an outbreak of acne, not for him but for his parents.

At six, Jack is blessed with so many adorable and wondeful qualities. Unfortunately, patience isn't among them.

Aware that he's yet to fully develop in that area, I steeled myself before leaving. 'Remember,' I said to my leery dad within, 'you're a loving, caring, patient father and under no circumstance will you lose your temper.'

Jack broke me by the fourth hole.

But it had begun well enough. Winter Park Country Club is almost 90 years old, a tiny nine hole track that meanders through the charming town of Winter Park. At 2,470 yards, it's just right for a beginning family.

On the first hole, a narrow 232 yard par 4, a sign is posted with seven rules like 'a shirt must be worn at all times' and 'no mulligans.' I wasn't confident that we'd be able to adhere to the latter, but then again the fellow teeing off ahead of us broke a rule by wearing brown socks with black saddle shoes.

Meanwhile, I'd packed a little gym bag filled with Capri Sun juice boxes and a few plastic bags filled with pretzels and goldfish. We don't go anywhere without the goldfish. We'd sooner leave the house without a wallet, without shoes, without my contact lenses than leave without Jack's goldfish. So not only did I have my own clubs to carry, I had the gym bag over the shoulder. As I walked down the first fairway, I looked like a bell hop at the Four Seasons.

On top of it all, a woman pointing in my direction said to her friend, 'That guy's the weatherman.'

In any event, I was soon extremely busy. The questions came in bunches.

'Daddy, where's my ball?'

'Daddy, can I play in the sand?'

'Daddy, where are the snacks?'

'Daddy, can I pee?'

'Daddy, what should I hit?'

My standard reply, whether from 150 or 50 yards, was, 'Hit the hybrid.'

Off the first fairway, Jack was in tears after his fourth whiff. He goes at it with everything he has, I mean really gives it the full 'Arnie.' When he finally connected he blasted it far and straight. He busted into a huge smile and ran after his ball.

'Jack,' I yelled,'hold on sweetie you can't run in front of Jesse while he's hitting.'

And for Jack, this is how it went for much of the afternoon. Whiff, cry, kill it, smile, pee, eat, argue with his brother, play in the sand, whiff, cry, kill it, smile, pee, eat, argue with his brother and play in the sand.

Jesse, on the other hand, is fairly serious about improving his game. A chip off the old block, he's already displaying a bit of golf course self loathing. Not yet a disciple of sports psychologist Bob Rotella, he missed a short putt at the par four fifth and proceeded with a hang dog face to play putting ping pong.

'Jes,' I said, trying to console, 'don't worry, you hit some good shots here.'

'No I didn't,' he said, obviously sad, 'I just tapped in for a 23.'
The fourth hole passes by a church and then winds around an historic cemetery not far from the train tracks. I had a decision to make.

Should I go pray, lay down and die, or hop an Amtrak to Cleveland?

I'd gut it out, though my own game began to crack. Number four's a dogleg par 5 and I blew my second across the street into the plant and flower shop. I dropped and then bladed a wedge into the cemetery. After paying my respects to a Mr. Lewis and Mr. Jackson, I dropped and then chunked my next.

When I finally tapped in, Jesse said to me, 'Don't worry Dad you hit some good shots here.'

'No I didn't,' I said, obviously sad, 'I just tapped in for a 23.'

As for Robin, she'd hit enough decent shots to consider a long and happy run in the sport. Of course, ever sensible, she wasn't going over board.

'Isn't two hours of beating your brains in enough,' she said knowingly.

By five, we'd set a new modern record. We had just let a 14th group play through. Jack had had enough golf and wanted to play hide and go seek over by the gazebo. We laid in the grass in the far right rough and laughed until it hurt.

We never finished the nine. The goldfish were gone by the sixth. Darkness would soon set in. On the walk into the tiny clubhouse, my load a little lighter with all the snack bags and juice boxes now empty, Jack said one last time, 'Daddy I have to pee.'

There was no bathroom in sight, just a strand of trees off to the right.

We may have broken one of the seven rules, but Jack did learn one final lesson.

I can hardly wait for the astro physics lecture.
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Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

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.

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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."