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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Winter Golf Blues? Try This!

Has anybody else just about reached the end of their emotional rope trying to play golf on dormant grass, no grass, even mud?  I've come close to slitting my wrists more than once over the last month as I've skulled chip after chip and watched my ball perform what would in other circumstances be a stunning imitation of Hans Brinker on his Silver Skates as it zipped across the green, inches from the cup, coming to rest in what in April will be the second cut of rough but what is right now a snarled tangle of dormant grass, leaving me an impossible 4th shot just to get to the putting surface on a par-4 I routinely bogey.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Golf, Oui -- Jihadis, Non

I generally maintain an impermeable boundary between what I write here and the larger world of war and politics and global epidemics.  To be sure, I'm aware of and sensitive to the depths of human misery and suffering forged in those crucibles, but this is a place where I write about the mysteries surrounding the game of golf and, in a compact with my readers, this is a place apart from the human tragedies that surround and bombard us to which you, my readers, can retreat for a brief respite.

Tonight I'm breaking that compact.  To my sorrow, France -- that nation that provided the intellectual synergy and enlightenment that inspired the American Revolution, the culture that set the 20th century standard for sophistication and inclusion, that place where fine food is a taken-for-granted basic human right, where street vendors ply their trade with a panache that escapes ordinary folk elsewhere, the nation that has suffered and resisted and survived occupation, a place I have visited again and again, and a place that I love despite the haughty scorn I endure when I attempt to communicate in French (I long ago gave up and turned to the more universal language of American Express) -- has joined the ranks of jihadi's victims.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Endings, Beginnings, & A Meditation on the Game of Golf

Alma Barnes, Me & Bonnie Bell (left to right)
Despite the problematic weather I got in my traditional New Year's Eve and New Year's Day rounds again this year.  I typically play these two rounds solo and use my time alone on the golf course for some quiet meditation and reflection -- about the year that's passing, about the year that's promising, about how I'm doing managing my life -- but when I offered last week to make a New Year's Eve tee time for the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association a number of women perked up and said they'd enjoy a round too.

We were all monitoring the long-range forecast and the sun was predicted to make a brief appearance between two winter storms marching across the continent.  Still, after several days of cold rain I wasn't too surprised when I arrived at the golf course to find that our number had dwindled to three: Alma, Bonnie, and me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Come On! Let's Just Get In A Quick One!

Wes has dropped in for a quick Christmas visit, tucking me in between a stop in Florida and his Virginia holiday blowout.  I had a short list of chores only a son can complete ready for him, and he had a short list of things I needed to help with, including a particularly delicate shopping assignment, but then the sun peeked out.  You know what happened!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's Cold. It's Raining. It's Saturday. I'm Golfing!

What's with this golf obsession?  The weather outside is frightful . . . and I'm planning on teeing off at my usual Saturday morning time.  What am I thinking?  There are three shopping days remaining until Christmas.  My shopping isn't finished! I can't imagine that any other Star Fort Ladies Golf Association members will be teeing it up on this cold, west Saturday morning.

My list of undone tasks is way too long -- pay bills, change the parrots' papers (a healthy parrot poops every 15 minutes, around the clock and there are five healthy parrots in my life happily pooping in concert), shop for stocking stuffers, get the guest room comforter off the shelf and into a duvet cover and onto the bed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why Not Front Page News? Some Thoughts on Ben Martin, Shanshan Feng & Laetitia Beck

Ben Martin's putting clinic at Shriners Hospital fort
Children-Greenville, SC.  Photo credit: Scott Chancey,
Greenwood Index-Journal.
As November has segued into December and 2014 begins its rollover into 2015, we've been bombarded with a wave of devastating and horrifying media images ranging from videotaped beheadings to mass protests difficult to distinguish from the freedom marches of the 1960s to the wholesale destruction of Syria, town-by-town, to the slaughter of a school full of children and their teachers in Pakistan.

The 24-hour news cycle has made it possible to follow, almost shot-by-shot, the search for a crazed cop-killer in Pennsylvania and the attempt to liberate a cafe packed with terrified customers being held hostage in Sydney by a crazed jihadi, or was he?

Have I omitted something?  Probably.  It's been almost too much to absorb.  Am I getting desensitized to mass violence?   Or am I, in the golf season interregnum, just more attuned to the 24-hour news cycle blood and guts filler?

Let's get back to golf, the sport with a social conscience, played by folks at all levels who have the capacity to forge bonds and partnerships, friendships and economic alliances that transcend the divisions of race, religion, and political ideology.

To achieve that refocus, allow me to share with you three of my current favorite golf cameos:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Time With Mickey Wright & Harvey Penick, A Guest Post by Sam Adams


Sam Adams, Essentially Golf
I met Sam Adams through the Google+ Golf Community (if you love golf and aren't a member of the Community you're missing an opportunity to connect with others who share your passion) and discovered that while we've never met Sam's living and teaching golf within about 30 miles of my home base.  As our conversations unfolded I also discovered that his approach to teaching draws on his friendships Mickey Wright and Harvy Penick, golfers I admire enormously.  

Mickey Wright played on the LPGA Tour from 1955 to 1969, was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1964, has been named all-time top woman golfer by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine, and penned Play Golf the Wright Way, a book I return to again and again as I continue to refine my relationship with this pesky, humbling, befuddling game that so engages me.  I was more than a little impressed when Sam shared with me that he's actually played a round or two with her.

My son Wes introduced me to Harvey Penick and his little red books several years ago when he tucked a couple of the volumes into my carry-on bag at the conclusion of one of our golf matches and said, You'll enjoy reading these on your way across the country at 32,000 feet.  Wes was correct.  I've read them all now, but my favorite is For All Who Love The Game: Lessons and Teachings for Women.  Although he's best remembered as Ben Crenshaw's coach (it's said Harvey continued to provide guidance to Crenshaw from his deathbed), like my current swing coach, Tommy Pendley, Harvey Penick had that rare capacity to nurture the golfer who lives inside many women and his writings speak to me and inspire me.  

How could I go wrong with a guest post from a fellow South Carolinian who's learned his trade from these two golf luminaries?  I couldn't.  So here's Sam's guest post on the wisdom and the inspiration he gained from Mickey Wright and her coach, Harvey Penick:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Bethel Wars: Round 3, Wes By 5

ASU Karsten Golf Club, 8th fairway
The fat lady did not sing for me in our final round of the 2014 Thanksgiving edition of the Bethel Wars.  David Bates had picked the ASU Karsten Golf Course for our third round.  It's a links-style course carved out of the Sonoran Desert and quite frankly I struggled from my first drive to my last putt.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Bethel Wars: Round 2, Mom By 1

On the way to the 1st tee at Dinosaur Mountain
We went back to Gold Canyon Golf Resort and played the Dinosaur Mountain track for our second round.  Wes had forewarned me.  His knee was ready for action.  I had a foreboding of what was in store for me as I watched him warm up on the driving range.  He was still limping but he was transferring his weight and his shots were flying long and straight.  His drive was back and I knew before we teed off that the second round was going to challenge me.  I can't beat Wes off the tee when he's on his game.   But I can generally beat him when we're inside 100 yards and wielding our flat sticks if I stay in the short grass and hit straight until I get to the putting surface.