For the love of the game: celebrity foursome shares thoughts on golf and travel

By Mike BaileyMarch 17, 2014, 4:47 pm

Recently, I had the chance to talk golf with a foursome of celebrities at the Patrick Warburton Golf For Kids charity tournament in Palm Desert, Calif., benefitting St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Warburton, known best for his roles in "Seinfeld," "Rules of Engagement" and "Family Guy," is the most challenged of the group as a mid-handicapper. His "Rules" co-star Oliver Hudson (pictured with Warburton) has been as low as a plus-2, while pro football Hall of Fame member Eric Dickerson, who still holds the NFL's single-season rushing record, is a 7-handicap who shot his career low, 71, a few months ago at his home club of Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley, Calif. Joel Gretsch, who played the immortal Bobby Jones in "The Legend of Bagger Vance," is a 2-handicap who says the role creates a lot of expectations about his game when he plays in charity tournaments. Dickerson (who hits it about 320 off the tee) and Hudson are left-handed. The common thread is that all of them love the game, just like we do.

Golf Channel: Tell us about your golf game?

Warburton (16 handicap, Wood Ranch G.C.): I probably started playing when I was about 26 or 27 (before Seinfeld). I'd get out with some buddies on a Friday, and we'd see how much beer we could drink and how many bad swing habits we could cultivate. When I play with Oliver (Hudson), sometimes I feel like I'm playing with one of these Web.com Tour guys. He's got an amazing game. And he's a southpaw. None of that computes.

Hudson (scratch, Mountain Gate CC, Bighorn G.C.): I started when I was 15 years old, but about 10 years ago is when I really started to play golf. I went to the Jim McLean Golf School here (in Palm Springs), and it sort of set me on a path of obsession. I went from a 12-handicap to a 4 in four months. (On playing with Warburton and "Rules co-star David Spade), there's a lot of cursing, a lot of anger; Spade's actually sneaky good. Patrick's going to hate me, but he beat Patrick. He's actually a good golfer.

Dickerson (7 handicap, Wood Ranch G.C.): I didn't start playing golf until after I retired. Not long after that, I was playing with Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan and Roy Green in Michael's tournament in North Carolina. I was hitting the ball everywhere, and he (Barkley) told me, 'You football players think you can play, but man, you're a bum; you can't play golf." I told him that one day I was going to beat him, and he said, "You'll never beat me." So I went back home and practiced, practiced and practiced. A year and a half later, I played him and beat the hell out of him. He says to this day that I'm the most improved golfer he's ever seen.

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Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson waiting his turn.

Gretsch (2 handicap, El Caballero C.C.): I grew up in a small town in Minnesota, and there wasn't a lot to do. In the summer, every day we were out there at Albany Country Club. I didn't have a lot of time to think about (playing Bobby Jones in "Bagger Vance"). I got the role and they sent me off to go film it. It was daunting, but more daunting was what the man accomplished outside of golf. He was extremely bright.

Golf Channel: What are your favorite golf destinations?

Warburton: A lot of it depends on where you're at and your mood, but I love Bandon Dunes, which is up by our cabin in Oregon. I haven't played all the courses there, but I've walked three of them. I usually make a trip or two there in the summer to play Bandon. I'm looking forward to (playing in Ireland or Scotland) someday. I've got my big 50th coming up next year. That could be the trip.

Hudson: Pebble Beach. It's the invitation I look forward to every year. When it comes in the mail, it's like Christmas. I've played Pebble with my dad (Kurt Russell in the AT&T) twice now. Walking down 18 with your dad at Pebble Beach with the crowd going nuts, you just take it in. I'm also fortunate enough when I play Pebble to get to play Cypress Point. I just read "The Match." Not only is it an amazing golf course, you're walking on a piece of history.

Dickerson: I've had so many great golf experiences, but my best friend, Charles Drayton, my fullback at SMU, and I about five years ago played a course in Ireland called Old Head. I love that course. We flew out there in a helicopter, and I was amazed by it. I'm hoping I can go out to Ireland again.

Gretsch: I really liked Palmetto Hall in South Carolina. We all went there one weekend (during the filming of "Bagger Vance" and really enjoyed it. And, of course, the Ocean Course at Kiawah is great but ridiculously difficult. I got the invitation once to play Pebble (in the AT&T), but I couldn't do it. I was terrified, and I've never been invited back. Of course, I would love to play Augusta. (If invited), I would be on a plane in a heartbeat.

Golf Channel: What do you love about golf?

Warburton: It's great when your game comes together. You feel like it's going to be solid and stay there, but of course, it doesn't. I've taken a few lessons this year, so it's not quite as bad as it used to be.

Hudson: The handicap system is awesome, so everybody can play and compete. I've got to give Patrick strokes; it's competitive. That's what makes golf so much fun.

Dickerson: It's never the same. The swing is never the same. I was at the driving range earlier and saying to myself, "Man, why can't I repeat this swing?" One day you're chipping well, but you can't putt. Another day, you're hitting your irons well, but you can't get off the tee. It's just hard to put it all together. It doesn't happen that often.

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Joel Gretsch, aka Bobby Jones in "Bagger Vance."

Gretsch: When I go back home to Albany (Minn.) in the summer, I take the kids. My daughters (Kaya, 11, and Willow, 8) get a lesson from the same amazing guy I did (Pete Herges). He taught tempo. Everything was like a metronome -- don't rush it, which really helped me for "Bagger Vance," because of those hickory sticks. Willow loves the game. Kaya is more into horses, which I know nothing about, other than it's expensive.

 

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.