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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.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Bethel Wars: Round 1, Mom By A Lot!

Wes and me at the turn, Gold Canyon Golf Resort Sidewinder
We played the 2014 Thanksgiving edition of the ongoing Bethel Wars in the Phoenix metro area.  Why Phoenix?  With good winter weather and good golf, why not Phoenix?

We hadn't been in town 24 hours when Wes and I left the other Bethels still settling into our rental and took off for the first round of our 3-round Thanksgiving match at the Gold CanyonGolf Resort Sidewinder course on a beautiful Arizona Tuesday afternoon.  ( If you're in the area and looking for a course, check out my Discount Tee Times review of Sidewinder. ) 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Bethel Wars: Thanksgiving 2014

We're going to Phoenix for our Thanksgiving match play 3-round series.  I am so ready.  My clubs are tucked into their traveling case, the pups and parrots are going respectively to Dog Came and Bird Camp for the week, and I'm going to take on Wes while the rest of the family chooses sides and functions as our personal gallery.  And all this is going to take place under sunny skies and 70-degree mid-day temperatures!

Friday, November 21, 2014

There's An Elephant On The Tee Box!

I've always been grateful that my self-esteem isn't linked to my handicap or my scorecard, but I must confess that there's simply no better feeling in the world than a perfectly executed golf shot.  Whether it's a long, arcing drive that flies up over the middle of the fairway, landing with that forward bounce and leaving me with an unobstructed target for my second shot, or a putt that curves along a break on the green and drops pleasantly into the cup, there's simply no better feeling to be had.  I live for those rare and fleeting moments of perfection.  But what about all those other not-so-perfect shots?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Fantasy Foursome

IBM CEO Virginia Rometty waited two years for her
Augusta National membership invite.
Photo credit:
With IBM CEO Virginia Rometty's invitation to join Augusta National Golf Club, the Dynamic Duo, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, has been transformed into a Terrific Threesome and it's time to start dreaming about the next step in Augusta National's amazingly slow progress toward joining the rest of us as we bravely go forth into the 21st Century.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ted Bishop Take-Aways

How we talk about things is most certainly a lens into how we think about those things.  Yes?  No?  Well, perhaps not always.  Perhaps it only counts if we put those things in writing, yes?  Because if it's not in writing then we could be misquoted, or misunderstood.   Yes?  No?  Does it count if we delete those offensive things, like from our Twitter and Facebook accounts?  Yes?  No?  I'm confused.  When does it count?

Ted Bishop has suggested it doesn't count in his case because both his children are female and they've both made their careers in the golf industry and he's always been "a great advocate for women and girls in golf."

Feminist psycholinguists tell us that when men resort to gender-loaded insults there's more than a hint that those men not entirely comfortable with women as equals, but I'm not confident that the psycholinguists are widely read outside fairly narrow academic circles.

Still, is calling another guy a "L'il Girl" or saying he sounds "like a little school girl squealing at recess" insulting?  And if it's insulting, who's being insulted?  The guy who got called "L'il Girl"?  Little school girls?  All women?  All men?  The cosmos?