Childs Play at the Masters

By Associated PressApril 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Boy, does Browning Benton have a story for his pals when he goes back to school.
 
I got to see Tiger Woods, the 8-year-old gushed Thursday. Up close!
 
At the Masters no less.
 
The best part? His grandfather didnt have to pay a thing to get him in. Well, aside from that barbecue sandwich Browning ate for lunch and the big bag of souvenirs his grandfather was carrying.
 
Augusta National is hosting quite possibly the coolest play date ever this year, letting youngsters 8 to 16 in for free as long as they come with a paying patron. Toughest ticket in the sports world? Its childs play for the teen-and-tween set thanks to the new Junior Pass Program.
 
Thats one of the single best things I ever saw, three-time Masters champion'and very proud grandfather'Gary Player said. The youth of the nation are trustees of posterity. These are your future golfers.
 
Industry reports indicate the number of U.S. golfers has decreased in recent years, and Masters chairman Billy Payne has made it a priority to reverse that trend. Getting kids hooked on the game is the easiest way.
 
The Royal & Ancient has been admitting juveniles to the British Open for free the last few years when theyre accompanied by an adult, and Payne decided a similar initiative would work at Augusta National. Under the Junior Pass Program, each Masters tournament badge holder is allowed to bring one child free of charge. The Masters and British Open are the only majors that allow kids in free.
 
Despite the new policy, dont expect Amen Corner to be the site of a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party anytime soon. After all, this is still Augusta National. But the place had a definitive bounce to it as little people'mostly boys, but a few girls'mixed in with the genteel patrons whove been coming here for decades.
 
Golf Mini-Mes arrived looking spit-shined and polished in polos and khakis and clutching an adults hand so they wouldnt get lost in the crowds. Every one of them wanted to go see Tiger'Mr. Woods, some politely called him.
 
I thought it was the best thing theyve ever done, said David Clark, who brought his 9-year-old son, also named David. Ive been trying to talk him into playing golf and hes never been interested. Now that hes come out here, hes already asking if we can go play.
 
Which is the whole point.
 
Golf rounds are going down. The average golf course is getting so long. All the clubs you go to are making their golf courses longer and longer, so all the costs are going up and up, Player said. Golf is going to have to do a lot of thinking in the future. Thats why we need a lot of young people to be playing golf.
 
Augusta National has never really been adults-only. Season ticket-holders could bring a baby if they really wanted to'provided that child had an official Masters badge affixed somewhere. David Smither of Aubrey, Texas, was 8 when he came to his first Masters back in 1970, and hes come back about every other year since then.
 
But that meant a friend or a golf buddy'or worse, another family member' got shut out.
 
That was the most refreshing thing Ive heard, Smither said, referring to the Junior Pass Program. It just opens up an opportunity for all the kids who ordinarily wouldnt get a ticket.
 
Like his son, Jake.
 
The 7-year-old made his Masters debut this year. He had his own ticket'the trip was his reward for getting to the final of a U.S. Kids Golf tour event. Next year, his dad plans to bring Jakes 87-year-old grandfather, but thanks to the new program, Jake will still get to go.
 
Next year, Jake will be here without a badge, Smither said. Hes going to be able to come with me and my dad. Thats a nice thing. It allows the three generations to come together.
 
When Larry Roberson heard about the program, he immediately made plans to take Browning, his oldest grandson. Browning started hitting golf balls when he was 2, and it was Roberson who took him to play his first nine holes.
 
This is his first tournament, and the first tournament he came to was the Masters, Roberson said as Browning sat in front of him near the second green. Its amazing. Its very exciting.
 
And very hectic for Ron Draper.
 
The Augusta resident has two sons, 8-year-old Samuel and 7-year-old Paul, and there was no way he could take one and not the other. Both boys are golf fans and play at a local club. Paul is even a graduate of a golf etiquette course. So Draper brought Paul with him in the morning, and his wife was going to drop Samuel off in the afternoon.
 
They each get two hours, Draper said. My wife is doing the minivan swap.
 
Theres an idea for Payne for next year: Car pool lanes.
 
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    Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

    After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

    Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    “The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

    Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

    Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

    His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

    “When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

    Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

    Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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    Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

    By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

    The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

    Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

    Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

    He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

    There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

    In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

    So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

    The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

    Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

    When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

    Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.



    Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

    Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

    “The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

    This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

    The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

    It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

    “The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

    Pay per view does that.

    “You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

    If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

    Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

    Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

    Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

    By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

    AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

    District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

    Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

    Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

    Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

    LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

    By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

    LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

    View this post on Instagram

    Finally got it down lol

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

    Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

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    How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.