Waiting is the hardest part

By Mercer BaggsJune 7, 2011, 3:47 pm

Jack Newman waited. And waited. And waited. He went back to his hotel room. He sat in his car and listened to music. He played games on his phone. He talked to friends. And finally – finally – he got the message he was patiently waiting on: he was in a five-man playoff for three spots in the Melwood Prince George’s County Open.

Newman’s 5-under round was just good enough during qualifying last week for the chance to compete on the Nationwide Tour.

He sent a text message at 5:36 p.m. ET saying that he was waiting – and waiting – on everyone to finish up their rounds to see if his number was good enough. At 7:57 p.m. he sent his next message: Sank a 40 footer for bird on first hole. Boooooom baby!

“I hit a 3-wood into the rough and had 155 (yards) to the hole,” he recounted this past Monday. “I had a gnarly lie so I hit down on an 8-iron and gave it everything I had. It just got over the first bunker, in front of the green – there was also water there.

“I had 40 feet. It was right-to-left, about 4 feet, with a 2-foot ridge. I hit a decent putt but didn’t know if it was enough. It went in with about a half-a-ball roll left.”

Boom, baby!

Due to inclement weather, the qualifier was pushed to Tuesday. With a pro-am on Wednesday, Newman was able to play but nine holes prior to competition, before walking the back nine.

He didn’t make the cut, shooting 73-77. Steve Wheatcroft won the tournament with rounds of 66-60-65-64.

“That was incredible,” Newman said of Wheatcroft’s tour-record 29-under total. “Most players on the PGA Tour wouldn’t have been able to beat him that week.”

Two weeks prior, Newman shot four under-par rounds to tie for 16th in the Hooters Tour’s Cherry Blossom Classic in Georgetown, Ky. That gave him confidence heading into his 2011 Nationwide Tour debut. But confidence is fickle, especially when you are still trying to put together the pieces of a new swing.

“It’s still just a matter of trust,” he said. “A good example is during the qualifier, on one hole it should have been 4-iron-sand wedge, but I hit a poor tee shot and had an 8-iron into the green. I knocked it to 7 feet and made the putt.

“During the tournament, though, I expected every shot to be perfect. I wasn’t accepting of a poor shot. Instead of rolling with the punches, like in the qualifier, I was trying to be perfect and getting upset when I wasn’t.”

It’s easy to relate. From weekend hacks to the greatest of professional players, no one is exempt from the pressures of live competition. Hitting the ball well on the range is one thing; taking it to the course is another. Even Tiger Woods, holder of 14 major titles, can attest to that.

Newman didn’t cash a check in College Park, Md., but he gained some valuable experience. He also got a close-up look at the differences from playing on a mini-tour compared to that of playing on the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit.

“It’s a lot different out there than on the Hooters Tour,” Newman said. “There’s more people. The fairways are firmer, the greens are firmer – not faster, but harder. The rough is higher and, there is a lot of talent on the Hooters Tour, but these guys are just one step away from the PGA Tour.'

From Maryland, Newman traveled to Greensboro, N.C., for another shot at qualifying on the Nationwide Tour. He didn’t make it, but he was far from disheartened as he was making the car trek back to his home base in Oxford, Ohio.

“I feel really good about my game. I feel like I’m definitely headed in the right direction and getting better,” he said. “I just have to have confidence in myself – not doubting what I’ve been working on when I put it into play.

“When you’ve done something your whole life, and now you’re doing something different, it takes time to find your comfort zone. I’m trying to hit the ball both ways now, left to right and right to left. My (swing) plane is different.  I know that no one ever really owns their game, but I’m working to get as close as possible.”

And so the road continues – literally.

“I’m at 2,176 (miles) right now on this trip,” Newman said. “I went from Oxford to Kentucky to North Carolina to Maryland back to North Carolina and now back to Oxford.”

After a return to Ohio and a week’s rest, it’s off to Oklahoma for a Hooters Tour event and then to Texas for another. He’ll then head to his true home in Iowa and try to Monday qualify for the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in nearby Silvis, Ill., where he received a sponsor’s exemption to play in 2009, the same year he competed in the Masters Tournament after winning the ’08 U.S. Public Links Championship.

“I’m staying positive,” he said. “You have to. Even when you’re not playing well, if you keep working at it, things will pay off eventually.”

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:

Ian Poulter:

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: