Playing golf with the kids

By Rich LernerFebruary 20, 2015, 11:50 am

I played golf with my 16-year-old son and two of his friends a few days ago at Winter Park C.C., hoping to do my part to grow the game. They’d finish and proclaim their love for the sport, I figured. 

My kid’s a high school basketball player and we’re nuts for hoops in our family, always have been. But one of my regrets is that my two boys never jumped headfirst into golf. 

“It’s ah-ite,” said Jack. That means that it’s OK, not great. “It’s too slow. But I’ll probably play more when I’m really old and can’t move that well.”

“How old is really old?” I asked.

“Like 55,” he said.  I’m 54.  After that kick to the gut, I hit my opening tee shot behind a tree, hard left. What a depressing way to start, old and crooked. 

No. 1’s a short, skinny par 4 set against a busy road to the right.

“What happens if I hit a car?” asked Jack.

“Aim over there,” I said, pointing far to the left.

He swung. It started high, drifting toward the street. We held our breath as if Mickelson had just flushed a 9-iron that hung over the water at 17 at Sawgrass on Sunday, tied for the lead at The Players.

It landed between two cars and bounded into a front yard.

“Was that a new ball?” Cale, Jack’s buddy, asked.

“Yeah, it was icy,” said Jack. That means it was new.

Off we went, in search of icy balls and a ray of hope that golf would reveal itself over the next two hours and nine holes.

My main goal wasn’t to make birdies, but to avoid a beef with Jack. I wasn’t going to micro-manage his game with instruction on every shot. The idea was to just have fun. 

“Stay down,” was my only advice, the old standby used by every dad who’s ever tried to teach his son the game. “I’m trying,” he said, slightly irritated after skulling another shot.

I thought we were doing great. We hadn’t hit a car through two holes. Plus, the maintenance man with the hedge trimmer drowned out the muttering. I could only lip-read Jack saying, “Good putt,” as he hammered one 20 feet past at the second.

By No. 4 I began to waver, offering a lesson I’d swore I wouldn’t give – butt of the club matched up to the belly button going back and going through. He half-listened.

“Don’t you want to be good at this?” I asked.

“I don’t really like it,” he said. That wasn’t as painful as the old man comment on the first tee, but close.

A train rolled by. Amtrak to Cincinnati crossed my mind.   

Then, a breakthrough, a good drive and he looked athletic, like a player. He made bogey, and then another and suddenly his mood brightened. The whole group was in a nice groove. If they could just understand that golf’s not an instant gratification activity, like so much in today’s world, they might appreciate it. 

This was suddenly going well. We even talked golf as we walked down the sixth.

“I watch most of the majors,” said Kevin, a long noodle of a boy. 

“Do you play golf with your dad?” I asked. “Not these days,” he said. “He has a bad back.”

Cale plays high school golf, works the bag room at a local club and is the most polished of the three. He’ll have a chance to be a low single-digit handicap when he gets a little stronger.

I was curious if they followed pro golf the way they do the NBA. If Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors are playing a Friday night game against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder our house is packed with teenagers. They’ll watch the game, at halftime heading out back where they’ll lower the driveway hoop to 9 feet and pretend to be Zach LaVine. Zach’s cool.

“Adam Scott’s cool,” said Cale. “I used to think Tiger was, but not anymore.”

“I like Rory,” said Jack. “He’s jacked.” That means he’s in shape.

“I like Bubba,” said Kevin. “He’s self-made.”

Jack hit another good shot, a slight draw from 140 yards that landed on the front of the green. We all traded fist bumps. Now we were bonding. “I can’t believe I almost quit a couple holes ago,” Jack said with a smile.

“What turned it around?” I asked, thinking he would say that my tip made the difference.

“I took my glove off,” he replied.

With bounce in our step we walked up to the green, expecting to see Jack’s approach 15 feet away.  But there’s a steep ridge on the left side and his ball ran off into the rough. He was disappointed.

“That’s dumb,” he said.

“That’s golf,” I said.

Cale birdied Nos. 6 and 8. Kevin made a couple of pars. Jack strung a few bogeys together. It had gone pretty well, all in all. 

We crossed the street to the ninth tee, our last hole. Church bells rang out. The sun peeked from behind the clouds. I was happy. My kid was happy. Who knows, I thought, in two months maybe we’d travel to Ireland, play Ballybunion and Royal County Down, the way fathers and sons do in our sport. He was getting the hang of this hard game called golf.

He stood over his final tee shot of the day. It would be a baby draw, left side of the fairway after a perfect follow-through.

He topped it, a skidder that went no more than 30 yards.

“That’s embarrassing,” he said.

“No,” I said.  “That’s golf.”

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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

THE MAJORS

Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


PHOTO GALLERIES

Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm