Never Too Old

By Michael FechterOctober 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
Great victories do not have to be celebrated by millions. Sometimes it can be the silent victory of one. Although, the greatest victory is the one shared by two, which makes my friends win in the Charleston City Senior Amateur ' a triumph shared and understood by his twentysomething son, Mark ' perhaps the greatest victory since Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters.
 
Warren Peper is no seasoned touring amateur. Warren is not Buddy Marucci. Warren is our local Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man on local TV. Warren has been the most popular sportscaster for 20-odd years and the lead anchor for the past four or five at WCBD. As Pep said, 'I can't take myself too seriously. I put on make-up and read aloud.' So not only is Pep our local Walter Cronkite; he also easily channels Rodney Dangerfield.
 
OK, you may not think that winning the Charleston City Senior is a big deal, but it is when you look at Warren's background in golf. He did not even pick up a club until late in college, when he tagged along with buddies and used their sticks when they were far enough away from the clubhouse. As Warren said, growing up, golf seemed like a game of 'privilege and opportunity' and it had 'no appeal' as he became a local high school and college basketball star. But when he saw his 'cool' buddies enjoying the game at local municipals, Warren was hooked.
 
I remember Warren from when I was 18 years old and playing for the College of Charleston golf team. Warren was already a successful sportscaster and as we practiced on a local range, my only thought about Warren was 'Wow, he is such a nice guy; it's a shame that he's such an awful golfer.' At the time, I thought that shooting 83 was a disease and Warren was badly afflicted. Such is the arrogance of youth.
 
So, last fall when I saw that Warren had shot 68 in the last round to win some local tourney and then saw that he had won the City Mixed Championship with an 18-year-old girl, Ellie O'Brien, I wondered what in the world had happened to our universe? If Warren Peper was now a tournament winning champion then truly anything was possible. I half expected Fidel Castro to rise from his deathbed and win the New York City Marathon.
 
And if Warren Peper could become a champion then certainly I could rise from the ashes of my golf game and get at least as good as Warren is now.
 
Then, as the final cherry on top, I read in the local paper that Warren had won the City Senior by again shooting 68 on the final day to come from nine strokes back to beat 'golfing royalty' Bubba Hightower, our local John Daly, and Tommy Ford, our local Bobby Jones.
 
Was Armageddon upon us? Or had the planets mysteriously aligned? I had to get the story from Pep and he graciously met with us after his 7 p.m. show at the WCBD conference room.
 
First, I was straight with Warren. I told him that while I always admired him, I thought his golf game was pitiful all those years ago. Pep readily agreed with a laugh. And so I queried, 'What happened to make you a champion?' 'And how can I do the same,' I silently wondered.
 
These are the basics of my time with Senior Peper:
 
At age 50, about six years ago, after a lifetime of playing pick up and league basketball Warren decided that he 'hadn't hurt anybody and nobody had hurt him' and it was time to give up competitive basketball. He decided to devote himself to golf and was looking for a place to play with his college-age sons, Mark and Brad, figuring that 'golf is a sport that we could always play together.' Discovering the Saturday Morning Blitz at the Charleston Muni, Warren and his boys found a home where Warren says he has had the 'best times' of his life. Yes, golf will do that for a family.
 
But how did Warren get better?
 
Well, it turns out that Warren did not get a coach. He did not tinker with clubs. He did not sell his soul to Satan. Warren just played.
 
As Warren said, 'One of the beauties of having a job from 2 p.m.-midnight is that I have my mornings free and I filled it with golf.' Warren was on the course four days a week and when you do that for years, you can get pretty good. I remember that. To get good at golf, you have to play golf.
 
And to get good at tournament golf, you have to want to 'hit the shots when it matters the most,' as Warren told me. You have to want the pressure, relish the pressure, want the ball in your hands as the clock ticks down, and you have to want to win.
 
And when you figure that Warren does have great hand-eye coordination from his basketball days, is highly competitive from his basic nature, has good flexibility from genetics and exercise, then I did see that there was no reason for Warren to not become the scratch golfer that he is today. Even if I could not see it through the cloud and arrogance of my youth.
 
As Warren told me all about the 68 that he shot to win the City Senior, I realized that Warren and I shared something minor to everyone in the world except us: We both were former hacks, whose greatest victories were both at the Charleston Muni.
 
On that fateful final round, Warren tossed in six birdies with a single double-bogey and 'gagged two 5-footers in on both 17 and 18' to win by one shot. Warren Peper beating Bubba Hightower and Tommy Ford was the equivalent of Jack Fleck beating Ben Hogan. Only this time, the TV and print people were interviewing Warren about his grand victory instead of Warren interviewing Phil Mickelson. How sweet that had to be for Warren.
 
After giving his acceptance speech in front of friends, TV cameras and gracious losers on that day, Warren told me that he fell back on the many Masters he had covered as he remembered to thank 'the greenskeepers; the guys I played with; the assistant pro, Jim, who suggested I move the ball back a couple of inches.' And as I made this speech I realized this 'meant a lot to me.'
 
Then my pal, Mr. Peper, took his trophy and headed to the local Mount Pleasant Christmas parade where he was riding and waving from the WCBD float.
 
And that's just 'the way it is' as Walter Cronkite would say. When you have 82 victories like Sam Snead the meaning for each one is not the same as when you are Warren Peper or me and you have one single victory. That victory is as sweet as a grape that somehow never leaves your mouth.
 
After the round, at the suggestion of his wife, Warren made a call to his son, Mark. As they went over every shot on a course they had enjoyed hundreds of times together, Mark said, 'No matter what, no matter if you never play again, you'll always be the City Senior champion. That's something that they can never take away.'
 
Every Masters and U.S. Open champion know this and now, Warren Peper knows it too. Nothing could make me happier, because Warren has got this feeling. And better yet, he got to share it with his sons.
 
Email your thoughts to Michael Fechter
 
Editor's note: Michael Fechter, orphan worker and humorist, has the best job in golf: he's paid to be the Ambassador of Fun for golf courses across America. His 'job' is to make the courses he represents across America more interesting, unique and fun. Enjoy his humorous series on getting back into the game as he struggles to get his game into the shape it was nearly 30 years ago when he won his only personal junior 'major,' the Al Esposito, on America's easiest muni with rounds of 71-71-75.
 
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    Woods: New putter should help on slower greens

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:35 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.

    The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”

    To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.

    “You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”  

    For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.

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    Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:26 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.

    “I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.

    “Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.

    That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.

    “You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

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    "Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

    Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

    Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

    To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

    “It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

    Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

    • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
    • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
    • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.

     

    “This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

    that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange

     

    “I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico

     

    Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

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    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)