Jeff Clark Blog

By Win McMurryAugust 10, 2010, 10:45 pm

Jeff Clark is insane. That’s how he became a legend—not a legend in golf, but in a sport that, to an outside observer, would seem to be on the other end of the spectrum.

Jeff Clark grew up on the coast of Northern California in Half Moon Bay. There, surfing is a way of life. Take a drive down Highway 1, and you’ll pass surf spot after surf spot, packed with locals outfitted in wetsuits ripping it up on the breaks that dot the rugged coastline.

Clark was just a kid when he first began riding waves. He would go out surfing with his little league team after practice in Half Moon Bay. By age 17, he couldn’t get enough of the water, and during recess, he would wander to the cliffs behind his high school. He would stare out at waves breaking close to a mile off shore in a spot that his little league coach once referred to as “Mavericks.” Clark watched the waves reach in excess of 60 feet throughout the winter months. No one before had dared to surf Mavericks. It was considered unsurfable and too dangerous. But Clark didn’t buy it.

He prepared for months, planned his attack and paddled out. His friends thought he was crazy and stayed behind to watch him from the shore. And for 15 years Clark surfed Mavericks alone.

Clark was driven to push himself to the limit, to achieve the impossible. And eventually, word spread of this big wave surf spot off Half Moon Bay. It took 15 years before professional big wave surfers from the North Shore of Hawaii joined Clark at Mavericks. One of them, Mark Foo, was claimed victim by the epic surf, and since then, Mavericks has grown to become the most infamous surf spot in the continental United States, and Clark has become a legend.

Now in his fifties, Clark continues to surf Mavericks 35 years, a hip operation and spinal fusion surgery later, but it was ten years ago when he discovered another sport that now has him completely obsessed. I traveled with a crew to interview Clark on his dual-life as a big wave surf legend and a golf-obsessed amateur who won his club championship at Half Moon Bay Golf Links.

Clark shared so many stories with us over our whirlwind trip from Orlando to Northern California. We spent time in his surf shop where he sells the boards he shapes for himself and others to surf Mavericks, which only about 200 people in the world are skilled and daring enough to do.

We set up shop for the majority of our conversations at Half Moon Bay Yacht Club, where Jeff is a member. This is not your typical yacht club. In fact, the building that houses the club was transformed from an old, weathered waterfront beach cottage that Clark briefly lived in with some surfing buddies when he was in his early twenties.

We hit Half Moon Bay Golf Links for a round of golf with Jeff and three of his friends—fellow professional surfers who also brave the waves at Mavericks. And through the misty and fog-laden air, we also ventured out on a very bumpy boat ride to Mavericks on the “Queen of Hearts.” The 60-foot-long boat is no stranger to Mavericks. It frequents the heralded surf spot, hired out each year to take surfers, photographers and spectators to the annual Mavericks Surf Contest. Twenty-four elite surfers receive a special invitation, on 24-hours notice, to fly in to Half Moon Bay to compete by surfing the biggest waves of the year for one of the biggest big-wave surf purses of the year.

Jeff Clark began it all, and it came from his drive to achieve what others deemed impossible and utterly insane. His story is one of the most incredible I’ve heard. I hope you enjoy watching the legend reveal his two passions—surfing and golf—and how he believes the two, for him, are deeply connected.

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Casey comes up short (again) to Bubba at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:07 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – Staked to a four-shot lead entering the final round of the Travelers Championship, Paul Casey watched his opening tee shot bounce off a wooden wall and back into the middle of the fairway, then rolled in a 21-foot birdie putt off the fringe.

At the time, it appeared to be a not-so-subtle indicator that Casey was finally going to get his hands on a trophy that has barely eluded him in the past. Instead it turned out to be the lone highlight of a miserable round that left the Englishman behind only Bubba Watson at TPC River Highlands for the second time in the last four years.

Casey shot the low round of the tournament with a third-round 62 that distanced him from the field, but that opening birdie turned out to be his only one of the day as he stalled out and ultimately finished three shots behind Watson, to whom he lost here in a playoff in 2015.

Casey’s score was 10 shots worse than Saturday, as a 2-over 72 beat only five people among the 73 others to play the final round.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I mean, I fought as hard as I could, which I’m proud of,” Casey said. “Not many times you put me on a golf course and I only make one birdie. I don’t know. I’d be frustrated with that in last week’s event, but it is what it is.”

Casey led by as many as five after his opening birdie, but he needed to make a 28-foot par save on No. 10 simply to maintain a one-shot edge over a hard-charging Watson. The two men were tied as Casey headed to the 16th tee, but his bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 combined with a closing birdie from Watson meant the tournament was out of reach before Casey even reached the final tee.

Casey explained that a “bad night of sleep” led to some neck pain that affected his warm-up session but didn’t impact the actual round.

“Just frustrating I didn’t have more,” he said. “Didn’t have a comfortable swing to go out there and do something with.”

Casey won earlier this year at the Valspar Championship to end a PGA Tour victory drought that dated back to 2009, but after being denied a second victory in short succession when he appeared to have one hand on the trophy, he hopes to turn frustration into further success before turning the page to 2019.

“I’m probably even more fired up than I was post-Tampa to get another victory. This is only going to be more fuel,” Casey said. “I’ve got 12 events or something the rest of the year. So ask me again in November, and if I don’t have another victory, then I will be disappointed. This is merely kind of posturing for what could be a very good climax.”

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Watch: Gary Player tires people out with sit-ups

By Grill Room TeamJune 24, 2018, 11:33 pm

Well all know Gary Player is a fitness nut, and at 82 years young he is still in phenomenal shape.

That's why it was incredible to see two mere mortals like us try to keep up with him in a sit-up competition at the BMW International Open.

Watch the video below.

The guy in blue makes the smart decision and bows out about halfway through. But give the other guy an "A" for effort, he stuck with Player for about 60 sit-ups, and then the nine-time major champion just starts taunting him.

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Japan teen Hataoka rolls to NW Ark. win

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 11:07 pm

ROGERS, Ark. - Japanese teenager Nasa Hataoka ran away with the NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday for her first LPGA title

The 19-year-old Hataoka won by six strokes, closing with an 8-under 63 at Pinnacle Country Club for a tournament-record 21-under 192 total. She broke the mark of 18 under set last year by So Yeon Ryu.

Hataoka won twice late last year on the Japan LPGA and has finished in the top 10 in five of her last six U.S. LPGA starts, including a playof loss last month in the Kingsmill Championship.

Hataoka began the round tied with Minjee Lee for the lead.

Austin Ernst shot a 65 to finish second.

Lee and third-ranked Lexi Thompson topped the group at 13 under.

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Tour investigating DeChambeau's use of compass

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 10:09 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Bryson DeChambeau’s reliance on science to craft his play on the course is well known, but he took things to a new level this week at the Travelers Championship when television cameras caught him wielding a compass while looking at his yardage book during the third round.

According to DeChambeau, it’s old news. He’s been using a compass regularly to aid in his preparation for nearly two years, dating back to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2016.

“I’m figuring out the true pin locations,” DeChambeau said. “The pin locations are just a little bit off every once in a while, and so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot. And that’s it.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But social media took notice this weekend, as did PGA Tour officials. DeChambeau explained that he was approached on the range Saturday and informed that the Tour plans to launch an investigation into whether or not the device is allowable in competition, with a decision expected in the next week.

It’s not the first time the 24-year-old has gone head-to-head with Tour brass, having also had a brief run with side-saddled putting earlier in his career.

“They said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know that we’re investigating the device and seeing if it’s allowable,’” DeChambeau said. “I understand. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.”

DeChambeau won earlier this month at the Memorial Tournament, and the Tour’s ruling would not have any retroactive impact on his results earlier this year. Playing alongside tournament winner Bubba Watson in the final round at TPC River Highlands, DeChambeau shot a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for ninth.

“It’s a compass. It’s been used for a long, long time. Sailors use it,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just funny that people take notice when I start putting and playing well.”