I’ve run into enough wildlife on golf courses to fill an ark. This zoo parade includes a three-legged alligator named Walter, deer, elk, coyotes, sheep, wild boars, bobcats, even a rattle snake or two.
I must admit, though, we never expected to see a crew of cows freely roaming one of the magnificent seaside links courses in Wales, the 6,500-yard, par 71 Aberdovey Golf Club (top photo).
Aberdovey dates back to 1886 and was the home course of Ian Woosman, the 1991 Masters champion and 2006 European Ryder Cup captain.
For much of our round, we rode herd, giving the cattle wide berth until reaching the par 5 13th hole. There, on the tee box, we came face-to-face with a future hunka, hunka of burning beef with a case of the major munchies (bottom photo).
Aberdovey Al, as we named him, seemed too busy at the munch counter to heed our urgings to “get along little doggie” and other cowpoke platitudes. He wouldn’t budge. Call us chicken, but for safety’s sake, we moved 20 yards down the fairway to tee off, shortening this par 5 to a puny 416 yards.
We knew these tee shots were the closest thing to “cattle drives” we’d ever experience…just thought I’d share.
GolfScript: Still bogeyed the damn hole--I am, after all, the Bogeyville Blogger. And, to my PETA pals, I assure you that no cattle, or humans, were harmed that glorious day at Aberdovey.
Gauguin, van Gogh and Gulbis, a triple threat in the wonderful world of art.
Gauguin and van Gogh, of course, remain unparalleled as post-impressionist artists. And Gulbis? It’s Natalie Gulbis, the LPGA Tour’s resident hottie, who represents a purely magnificent post-pubescent art form. I appreciate art, and the Gulbis form is a masterpiece.
That appreciation blossomed when Gulbis emboldened the pages of the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, wearing only a hand-painted bikini on her bum and bust. Talk about wondrous flesh tones.
I confess that I’m old enough to be Natalie’s father--maybe even grandfather, some cruel hearts would say. While many summers of golf have come and gone, I still possess fine motor skills, and Natalie definitely revs my engine.
The two of us have history.
Months after the swimsuit issue, we ran into each other at the LPGA Tour stop near Toledo. I was in near-jog, head down, rushing toward a concession stand for a health snack--OK, it was a damn hot dog, heavy on the grease, please. Natalie was steaming toward the practice tee, head down in her iPhone. We both looked up at the last moment, exchanging “excuse me’s” as we sidestepped each other.
It happened so fast I didn’t have time to attempt any surefire pick-up lines, like inviting her over to view my etchings, although I fear the only etchings she might have noticed are those crinkle cut on my weathered face.
Then last year at the same Toledo tourney, I found myself stalking--scratch that--FOLLOWING her group on the back nine. She hit a short iron to within easy birdie range, then made a beeline across the fairway toward me.
Me? Yes, she was coming right at me. Natalie obviously remembered our run-in from the year before. She closed so fast, in fact, I didn’t even have time to apply the Facelift In A Jar cream that I always carry. Then as I reached out to receive her warm embrace, she was by me, hugging some dude named Josh standing two yards to my left.
Word is always a little slow to reach Toledo, but apparently everyone but me knew that Josh and Natalie had announced their engagement a couple weeks earlier.
While I’m unequaled as a romantic rascal, Natalie went ahead and married Josh boy anyway, leaving me to stumble down the lonely cart path of life without her, unhinged from reality as always.
This isn’t the first time the Bogeyville Blogger won’t make any sense, but I think tour players should lay down their belly putters now, long before the Jan. 1, 2016, ban begins.
Why? I can’t shake the feeling they’re sort of cheating. I know, I know--they can legally use these weapons of mass money-making for another 16 months to fatten their bankrolls, but I’d have more respect for them if they returned to conventional putting immediately.
Major winners Keegan Bradley (2011 PGA Championship), Webb Simpson (2012 U.S. Open) and Adam Scott (2013 Masters) along with senior tour stars Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples come to mind as renown belly-putter proponents.
I like their games…don’t hold personal animus toward them…I just detest this putting style. Maybe that’s why I bellyache so much. I did give it a thorough try once--10 whole minutes--the longest, most uncomfortable time in my life, missing every putt attempted. From that point, I bid belly putting bye-bye.
The supreme rulers of golf, the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient, exorcised anchor/belly putters from the body of golf last year.
In some respects, I loathe siding with these stodgy codgers, the protectors of golf tradition. This isn’t the first time the terrible twins have raised a fuss over putting. Forty-six years ago, they banned croquet-style putting used by Sam Snead in his attempt to overcome the yips.
The USGA deemed the between-the-legs croquet stroke “too bizarre,” while Bobby Jones said it didn’t look like golf. Tradition ruled over putting practicality. When the ban took effect on Jan. 1, 1968, the 50-something Snead switched to side-saddle putting and heard no further nays from the USGA and R&A. The Slammer successfully competed on tour well into his 60s.
Now, a half century later, I suggest players take immediate steps to wean themselves from belly putters. I don’t know if I can stomach seeing the extreme delirium tremors these great golfers may exhibit if they wait until 2016 to go cold turkey.
The Bogeyville Blogger is an avid collector of fine golf art, memorabilia and artifacts.
A divot off the blade of a five-time Major champion and a cigarette butt off the lips of a U.S. Open contender are among those keepsakes that some sophisticates might not treasure.
Years ago, I snatched up a Phil Mickelson divot on the fifth hole of ESPN’s Par 3 Shootout at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, MI, and hours later presented the patch of grass to a female acquaintance as the ultimate romantic gesture.
She planted the divot in her yard where it flourished and bloomed, while her interest in me died in a shroud of gloom. Since then, your Bogeyville Blogger has refreshed his views on what women think qualifies as romantic. Flowers rank No. 1 on the charts and No. 1 in their hearts. Divots? Not on anyone’s chart-busting Hot 100 acts of romance.
The cigarette butt? Discarded by Taiwan’s T.C. Chen during his final-round crash at the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. Chen led the Open by four shots when he played the 457-yard par 4 fifth hole. He took a quadruple bogey 8 there, highlighted by one of the most famous mistakes in U.S. Open history, a double-hit chip shot from the rough near the green.
When Chen tossed his cigarette butt to the ground in disgust, the Bogeyville Blogger swooped over to pick it up. I gifted the butt to a buddy, and it ended up encased in a display of honor at a sports bar in Maryland.
Haven’t heard much from Chen since. I think I saw him in a televised Champions Tour event a few years back. My guess is there have been more sightings of his cigarette butt at that sports bar than T.C. Chen playing golf in recent years.
GolfScript: BTW, Chen rallied from the disaster on No. 5 to finish tied for second at the ‘85 U.S. Open, just one shot behind winner Andy North.
I knew I would see the greatest women golfers in the world at the 2014 U.S. Open in Pinehurst, N.C., but I never dreamed I would touch the hand of women’s golf history.
It happened when I stopped by the renowned Old Sport & Gallery art shop to look up Tom Stewart.
A life member of the PGA of America, Stewart was a well-known club pro in Michigan before opening the Old Sport & Gallery some 20 years ago in this quaint village that nestles next to the famed Pinehurst No. 2 course, site of this year’s men’s and women’s U.S. Opens.
It was in Stewart’s wondrous shop that I met Catherine Lacoste, the only amateur ever to win the U.S. Women’s Open championship, a fete she accomplished in 1967 in Hot Springs, Va.
Lacoste was in town to attend a gala honoring past U.S. Open champions the next night and to watch the most prestigious championship in women’s golf.
I had the good fortune to chat with her for a few minutes at the Old Sport & Gallery, where she graciously posed for a picture with me (above) and autographed the book, “1967-1969 Catherine Lacoste’s Slam” that details her triumphs in the 1967 U.S. Open and the 1969 U.S. Amateur and British Ladies Amateur championships.
Her parents reached their own legendary athletic status in the 1920s. Rene “The Crocodile” Lacoste was a renowned French tennis champion, while her mother, Simone Thion de la Chaume, became one of the great women golfers in the same era. Together, they created the Lacoste clothing line with its crocodile logo, one of the respected luxury labels in the world.
Catherine Lacoste’s U.S. Open victory came on July 2, her father’s birthday. Her British Ladies Amateur title two years later is the same championship her mother won in 1927.
GolfScript: Tom Stewart’s Old Sport & Gallery in Pinehurst, N.C., is one of the largest stores in the world specializing in golf art. Part art gallery, bookstore and memorabilia museum, Old Sport is located a couple hundred yards from the first tee of the famed Pinehurst No. 2 course. Check out the website at www.oldsportgallery.com.
Note to golf’s big boy bombers: Stop quaking in your boots. You won’t be facing the Bogeyville Blogger in this year’s RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship in Las Vegas.
A recent viewing of six golf videos, each promising to add from 30 to 50 yards to my tee shots and each failing to produce any measurable results, clinched my decision to stay home. These videos were my way of dialing up long distance information, but as usual I keep getting the wrong number.
I’ve endured a lifetime power outage in golf, but I’ve never stopped searching for that one magic move that will produce significant extra yards.
But these videos--The Rocket Shot, Explosive Power, Bombin’ It Long, Ultimate Distance Secrets, Unleashed Power and 4 Keys to Maximize Your Power--didn’t unlock any secrets.
Let me see, in my world of weird math, six videos times a minimum of 30 extra yards per video, plus my normal 220-yard tee shots, should equal drives of at least 400 yards. Of course, my fuzzy-minded math doesn’t compute so I will leave the heavy hitting to the big boys.
It’s best for all concerned. We’re definitely different breeds and move at different speeds. Their swings are faster than Ferraris, and mine is more like a 1960 Volkswagen Beetle coughing up engine blood.
And, frankly, these long drive monsters intimidate a scrawny guy like me. They all look like they’re about 6-5, 250 pounds with arms like Hulk Hogan (FYI, the Hulkster is no relation to that other Hogan dude, Ben). Me? About 155 pounds with twiggy-type arms.
They also make these loud guttural growls that wake the dead when they smash their drives four football fields long. I don’t make any noise when I nudge my patty cake drives, but I’m afraid if I did, it would sound like one of those annoying Maria Sharapova high-pitched squeals on the tennis court.
So relax, boys. Unless a Pray for Power Miracle Network somewhere out there answers my call, I’m leaving Las Vegas to you.
Your Bogeyville Blogger concurs with the outrage vented by LPGA Tour players over the May cover of Golf Digest magazine that features model, actress and non-golfer Paulina Gretzky.
Golf Digest shows no respect for the top women players in the world when it puts Gretzky on the cover of its annual Golfit edition, striking a provocative pose in skintight Capri pants and sports bra, clutching an
They have a legitimate beef over this cheesecake photo, especially in light of the fact that only 11 LPGA Tour players have appeared solo on Golf Digest covers since 1969. The last was Lorena Ochoa in 2008.
And yet here’s Pretty Paulina, grabbing the cover and no doubt grabbing the attention of Golf Digest’s predominantly male audience. The cover headline says “6 Moves to Lower Scores with Paulina Gretzky,” and the inside story shows her demonstrating six exercises that will help golfers improve their scores. I’m thinking most men aren’t thinking about lower scores but just plain scoring with Paulina.
Golf Digest editor in chief Jerry Tarde offers this weak-kneed defense for the May cover: “Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell.”
Compelling story? What a bunch of BULLCRAP. Her primary connection to golf is that she’s engaged to PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson, and even Golf Digest admits she’s no fitness fanatic.
Still, she lands the Golf Digest cover. There’s at least a dozen LPGA Tour stars who could have been chosen for the Golfit cover. Unlike
Gretzky, they embrace fitness and know first-hand how it improves their
Just remember this bottom line: 11 LPGA players on Golf Digest covers in the past 45 years. As for Pretty Paulina, may you enjoy a successful career as a fitness poser. But you’re not the right fit for the cover of Golf Digest. Hell, I wonder if you can break 100 playing putt-putt.
Photo courtesy of nydailynews.com
When a guy named Tiger and a guy named Me played Royal Porthcawl in Wales, the picture of my wretched golf game came into clear perspective.
We were on the par 5 17th hole at Royal Porthcawl, a championship links
course overlooking the Bristol Channel and Swansea Bay in southern
Tiger Woods stepped up and launched a rifle shot so very, very far down the fairway. He hit it so long his ball could have landed in England. Well, maybe not that long. But I’d have to rent a car to ever drive
I knew this Tiger dude was good, but, geez, he followed his tee boom by holing out his second shot for an albatross. Say what? Albatross. That’s golf speak for a 2 on a par 5.
My drive resembled a marshmallow musket shot, sort of soft and puffy. And my fairway wood second still landed shy of Tiger’s drive. So thanks
Tiger, for splashing insult on my long-held feelings of golf impotence. I ended up taking a 7 on the 17th and finished with my usual high 80s
Oh, did I mention that Tiger and I weren’t playing together or even in the same year at Royal Porthcawl? Tiger’s fete came during a practice round at the 1995 Walker Cup matches, pitting top U.S. amateurs against the best ams from Great Britain and Ireland.
I took my shot two years later, playing Royal Porthcawl on a buddies’ golf trip through Scotland, England and Wales. The reason I know where Tiger’s drive landed is because Porthcawl course officials marked the spot with a plaque.
Incidentally, Porthcawl officials tell me Tiger’s plaque no longer exists. They removed it years ago because it slowed up play. Golfers
would hit extra shots from the plaque site to see if they could match Tiger’s albatross.
The only plaque I’ve ever owned also is being removed--at my next dental appointment in two weeks.
“Is this heaven?”
“It’s Augusta National...it’s the place where dreams come true.”
“Maybe this is heaven.”
April 9, 2013, a date they can chisel on my tombstone, marks the day I visited golf’s version of heaven on earth.
I’ve prayed for decades to visit this Field of Dreams, the Masters at Augusta National, but never thought I’d get the chance.
Over 60-plus years, I’ve attended U.S. Opens, PGA Championships, a Ryder Cup, even the 1997 Open Championship at Troon in Scotland, but never the Masters.
My Masters dream came true last year when we secured Tuesday practice round tickets. My daughter (Chicago teacher/artist Kristie Keenon--visit kristiekeenon.com) and I spent a morning and afternoon exploring the course where the golfing gods have competed since 1934.
We’ve all seen the majesty of the Masters cathedral on TV--the towering pines, live oaks planted 150 years ago, dogwoods, azaleas and ornamental shrubs that adorn the Augusta National golfscape.
These heavenly images are marvelous, but you don‘t get a true sense of Augusta’s rolling terrain, course layout and how each hole fits until you walk it, until you “feel it with your feet.”
We spent five hours on the course before we recorded our first bogey. And it was a MAJOR MASTERS BOGEY. We lost our car, couldn’t remember where we parked. Tournament workers rescued the clueless couple, assuring us we weren’t the first patrons (err, idiots) to forget where they parked. They squired us around on a golf cart for TWO AND A HALF HOURS over acres and acres of parking areas before we found our ride home--right where we left it.
Our final Masters scorecard reads: 5 hours on course, 2 ½ hours looking for car. We’d really like a mulligan on that one, a second shot at visiting the Masters.
Is this heaven? Yes it is, and we’ll keep knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door, praying to God they’ll let us back in.
Best “cheap eats” at a major sporting event? The Masters Tournament is the runaway leader in the clubhouse.
While food prices at most big-time sports events cost a pretty penny, you pay a pittance at the Masters.
Sandwiches range from $1.50 to $3, beverages from $1.50 (soft drink) to $4 (imported beer), and snacks from $1 to $2. Good golly, Masters Molly, you can’t get a decent sandwich and drink anywhere on the planet for under $10.
The Masters dishes up tasty fare, too, good enough to satisfy this pedestrian palate. We wolfed down the Masters classic, a pimento cheese sandwich, along with an egg salad sandwich, washed down with Diet Coke chasers. Total bill for our twosome: $6. I passed on dessert, the Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich, for an extra two bucks. A blogger has to maintain his figure, after all.
Cheap eats, yes. Our fat wallets lost their load, however, after a visit to the Masters merchandise area. The continuous cha-chings of the cash register still ring in my head a year later. But you can’t leave the Masters without souvenirs, right? Bottom line: Lunch, $6; Masters merchandise, several hundred dollars.