Like most everybody else, I have only the vaguest of notions of what Hell is like. The whole fire and brimstone thing never actually clicked with me – hey, if it’s warm it can’t be all bad. No, my vision of Hell involves mostly images of cold and dark. And reality television. I’m guessing that Keeping Up With The Kardashians is broadcast 24/7 there.
The reason I bring this up is because the end result of my recent trip to the Bob Hope Classic is a guaranteed reservation in Hades. You see, I snuck a Flip Videocam into a PGA Tour event. And used it. Here is the damning evidence…
To enjoy golf in January in the desert, you have to acquire a taste for sunshine, zero humidity and temperatures in the upper 70’s. It’s not too bad, if you like that sort of thing. As luck would have it, I do – but that was not the motivating factor in including the Classic on the “It’s Game Time Somewhere” Tour schedule. I was actually there to see a celebrity.
This was where it all began. Well, not exactly here in San Jacinto, CA. But it did begin with this tournament. Back when it was called the Buy.com Inland Empire Classic, and it was played at Empire Lakes Golf Course in Rancho Cucamonga. And I was the Special Assistant to the Operations Director. In other words, I was a volunteer with a job description heavy on “Other Tasks As Asasigned”.
Tasks like pounding hundreds of stakes into the sun-baked desert ground, and then stringing miles of yellow nylon rope along them, so as to keep the anticipated crowds from surging onto the course and interfering with play. You know how rabid those golf fans can be.
It was my very first event in my newly chosen career in the golf business, and I went at it with gusto. A week of precious little sleep and not much to eat. Days filled with long hours in the hot sun. It was heaven. The first step on my eventual path to succeed PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem – a progression so natural they wouldn’t even have to change the monogramming on the executive suite hand towels.
The U.S. Women’s Open started play today in Oakmont. And while Brittany Lang ended up as the first round leader, it was the leader in the clubhouse for most of the day that received the most attention. And absolutely nobody knew who Kelli Shean was.
But I did.
In fact, while attending the NCAA Women’s Golf Western Regional in May, I had a nice conversation with the father of Kelli Shean’s University of Arkansas teammate, Kristin Ingram. While we were talking, Kelli walked by and said something to Mr. Ingram, using a combination of spoken words and sign language.
After she had passed I asked if she was hearing impaired, and was told that yes, she was – but that she hated that term and didn’t consider herself handicapped at all. In fact, she was a decorated junior golfer that had been recruited from her native South Africa — and had been Arkansas’ #1 player all year.
I thought that to be noteworthy and included it in my Mother’s Day post, “For The Golf Parents”. So as the golf media scrambled today to get some background on this unknown golfer, I recognized her immediately. And I was happy to see that dozens of people received their first introduction to her background information via my blog today.
Ahh, the advantages that come with always knowing that It’s Game Time Somewhere.
Posted in Alerts & Updates, Golf | Tagged Brittany Lang, Kelli Shean golfer, Lang golf lead, NCAA Women's Golf Western Regional, U.S. Women's Open | Leave a comment
Show of hands – How many of you think I picked the PGA Tour to wrap up my Tour de Tours because it’s the best of the four that I covered?
OK, it’s an intelligent guess…but it’s wrong.
I came to Hartford for the final round of the Travelers Championship for much the same reason that I started my mini-journey with the Futures Tour’s City of Hammond Classic. It gave me an opportunity to go home. And while the Futures Tour represented going home professionally, the Travelers Championship involved going home personally.
The Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, as I assume is the case with most Champions Tour events, is compact and user-friendly. Like Futures Tour events, the competition takes place over three days rather than the four day timeframe of LPGA, Nationwide and PGA Tour events. The fields are also smaller, so there is no need for a cut in order to trim the number of players down for weekend play.
Still, in order to maximize time and course usage, the 78 player field in this event was divided in half – with each pro assigned a tee time that saw them begin their round on either the 1st or 10th hole. All of this enabled the festivities to begin at an extremely civilized 9:30 AM. Consequently, despite a 90 minute drive, my friend – the noted golf savant JC – and I arrived in time to grab a cup of coffee before the first tee shot of the day was struck.
Meet JC and Phyllis, my dear friends and hosts for stops #2 and #3 on my Four-Tours-In-Five-Days expedition. Two of the most accommodating people you’ll ever want to meet, you’ll notice that in preparation for my arrival, they had gone to the trouble of installing a set of bleachers in back of their house.
OK, I made that up – the grandstand was installed by the previous owner to hold plants, but the “most accommodating people” part is absolutely true.
On tap this day was the LPGA Championship, the second “major” tournament on that tour’s 2010 schedule. Held at Locust Hill Country Club outside of Rochester, NY, right from our arrival it was obvious that this was going to be an entirely different experience than that of last week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Lost Marsh Golf Course in Hammond, Indiana is a modern marvel of civic engineering and land use. Built entirely on a landfill in the industrial corridor southwest of Chicago, the course is truly an oasis in every sense of the word. I get the sense that the course is always kept in good shape, but on this particular week each year, when Lost Marsh hosts the Futures Tour’s City of Hammond Classic, I arrived to find it in impeccable condition.
The fairways were lush, the tees were neatly manicured, and the greens rolled quick and true. Most impressively, given the plot of land to work with, the course routing is surprisingly interesting (and I mean that in a good way). Sure, water comes into play on a lot of holes, but then again water on one hole proves to be a formidable challenge for me.
I feel bad for women professional golfers. I really do.
I’ve spent a fair bit of time around women’s golf, so I feel qualified to say this – I have yet to see a female pro truly grasp the essence of the golf swing. I’m not trying to get all Hank Haney or anything, but they all seem to labor under the misconception that swinging smoothly and rhythmically through the golf ball will somehow propel it adequately. Please.
This is Betty the Cat. You may not be able to tell from the picture, but she’s a big golf fan. Unfortunately, the U.S. Golf Association feels the same way about pets as it does about amateur photography, so she, like my camera had to stay home when I went to the U.S. Open.
You may have noticed in my previous post that I didn’t describe much of the golf action. Well there’s a reason for that…
See, the very thing that makes Pebble Beach a spectacular location for viewing golf also makes it a very difficult place to view golf. The eight holes that run along the ocean are by definition “one-sided” holes, meaning that only one side of the fairway can accommodate a gallery. Add to that the fact that the tees and greens are located very close to each other on these holes, eliminating the possibility of creating viewing areas in between tee and green. Consequently, entire swaths of the golf course are roped off and inaccessible. And lastly, because it is a links course, there is precious little terrain that provides a natural amphitheatre.
According to various myths and legends, there are tribes of indigenous people scattered throughout the world who believe that to have their picture taken is to have their soul stolen. While I haven’t been able to verify the exact genealogy of these people, I’m pretty certain there’s a connection to the U.S. Golf Association. There’s really no other rational way to explain the USGA’s relentless assault on the harmless pastime of recreational photography.