Musicians Lewis, Torres rock the golf course

By Rich LernerFebruary 10, 2015, 1:00 pm

Huey Lewis, 1980s pop-rock star, describes himself as a small businessman, happily playing what are, by now, oldies at countless charity golf events, sing-alongs for aging boomers who know all the words to “If This is It” and “I Want a New Drug.”

I’m in show business,” Lewis, who is playing in this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, says with a laugh. “I’ll do anything for attention and money, usually in that order.

“Golf people are great people. Golf is a great game.”

Lewis loves golf as much as music. He’s not alone. Plenty of rock-‘n’-rollers tear it up at night, then tee it up in the morning.

In the old days a lot of things came with a night of rock 'n’ roll,” says Tico Torres, the longtime drummer for Bon Jovi.  “But the older you get the more sensible you get. Golf’s probably the only reason I would get up early in the morning after I go to sleep at 3 [a.m.]. You know, I would definitely get up at 7:30 to go play a round. It’s a special place that’s comfortable for us where there are no crowds. It’s just us.”

What happened? Rock 'n’ roll used to be anti-establishment. Golf is ultimate establishment. When did it become “Hip to be Square”?

“We dropped back in after the '60s, because the '60s were too scary,” Lewis explained. “I love the game and I don’t care if it’s cool or not.”

One of the first rock legends to unabashedly declare his love for the sport was Alice Cooper. His drinking had gotten out of control. Golf provided a healthier release. He claims the game saved his life.

Nicko McBrain, the drummer for the English metal band Iron Maiden, plays regularly, as do Ed Roland from Collective Soul and Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains.

“I think it’s a musician’s friend,” says Torres. “It gives you a little bit of sanity.”

Torres is known as the Hit Man, with albums like “Crush,” “Bounce,” “Keep the Faith,” “Lost Highway,” and hit songs including “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Miracle” and “Never Say Die,” each one a perfect metaphor for golf.

He grew up in New York City, the son of Cuban immigrants. His introduction to golf came while having lunch at Willie Nelson’s house, to which I replied, “When I think of lunch with Willie Nelson, you’ll forgive me, but I think greens were on the menu.” Tico laughed. “Yeah, we had a few greens. I’ll tell you I’ve met more interesting people through golf than my career as a musician.”

A solid 12 handicap who once shot 72, Tico estimates that he’s played with tour pros 60 times, including with Ernie Els at the Dunhill Links, where he learned that Ernie’s capable of busting more than golf balls. “After 16 holes,” remembers Torres, “he turned to me and said, ‘You know, Tico, for a drummer you have the worst timing in the world.’”

King Curtis’ sax player, a cat by the name of Willie Bridges, once gave Tico some musical advice that he finally applied to his golf game. “You ain’t the most technical drummer in the world, but you got good feel; so don’t try, just play.”

And so he does, from the heart, by feel, like his favorite golfer ever, Seve Ballesteros. Tico’s also an artist who’s cast the hands of golfers in bronze and not surprisingly he says the best set of mitts he’s ever seen belonged to the Spaniard.

If Seve was a musician, what instrument would he have played? “Violin,” says Tico. “Without a doubt, he’s a virtuoso.”

As low as a 6 handicap at one time, Lewis is an inveterate golf junkie. He wrote an album called “Fore,” and he’s glued to Golf Channel.

“We’re on the road a lot on the bus,” he explains. “We get satellite television. Brandel’s great. Brandel [Chamblee] says what he thinks. Sometimes I want to come in there and argue with him. You guys just fill air with like, who’s going to win and we all know it’s golf and nobody knows who’s going to win. But you’re going to try and tell us.”

Good shot, Huey, who’s also played plenty with the pros. His first AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am came in the mid-’80s after he watched Jack Lemmon on television. “Lemm was playing 18 on Saturday,” recalls Lewis. “And they showed every shot, all 12 of them. And I thought to myself, I’m so glad that’s not me. I’m so glad I didn’t do it. And the very next year, there I was on 18 striping it into the gallery.”

Lewis has learned to take it easy on the course. “You have to swing smooth,” he says. “And the same thing with hitting high notes.”

It can be unnerving when they’re out of their element, but rockers and golfers relate. They both perform before crowds. Both are measured by numbers, a score on a card or album sales.  

You know, it’s funny,” says Torres with a smile. “It’s like we want to be pro golfers when we play with them, but they want to be musicians. And it’s like, well, I’ll trade with you. They do pick your brains, stuff like how do you relax in front of 100,000 people?”

Even with the inevitable nerves that come with playing alongside the best in the world, Lewis will never get beaten in a game of who loves golf more, saying, “It’s a great game. It’s as competitive as you want it to be. It’s a great test of your character. It’s a sport of integrity. And it’s a great social sport. There are a million reasons to love golf.

“Golf absolutely fascinates me, because you have to surrender to the game.”

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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