Golf Digress

Physically cultured commentary on Sport and Wellness

Category: PGA Tour

That’s Golf! 2.23.14 First segment script

The year before she won the '38 U.S. Open in Illinois, Patty Berg won the match play event in Aiken where P.G. Wodehouse won the coveted hotel umbrella against a field of rotund retired businessmen.

The year before she won the ’38 U.S. Open in Illinois, Patty Berg won the match play event in Aiken, South Carolina where P.G. Wodehouse captured a coveted hotel umbrella against a field of rotund retired businessmen.

ONCE AGAIN, TIME FOR THE VALUE MEAL PORTION OF THE ZONE’S SUNDAY IS FUN-DAY LINE-UP.

LESS DANGEROUS THAN HALF-PIPE, WHATEVER THAT IS. LESS CONTROVERSIAL THAN  FIGURE SKATING…I MEAN, THE BALL’S EITHER IN THE HOLE, OR IT ISN’T. IT’S A ZIRCONIUM MEDAL EDITION OF THE LONGEST-RUNNING GOLF RADIO SHOW IN TEXAS.

YOUR HOST AND SHAG BOY. WRITER-FOR-HIRE – 5’ 9” 150 LB. 16 YEAR, LIFETIME CATAMOUNT,  BATS RIGHT, THROWS RIGHT.

THANK YOU FOR FINDING THE TIME. IT MAKES IT SO MUCH MORE MEANINGFUL, SITTING IN THIS DARK ROOM UNDER THE FAKE PALM FRONDS KNOWING THAT SOMEONE’S HERE WITH ME, EVEN VICARIOUSLY, IN THE SHAG-ENCRUSTED CONFINES. WITH LUCK, YOU’RE IN A MORE HEALTHFUL ENVIRONMENT.

…IT’S NOT COMPLICATED. THE ENDEAVOR IS TO ENHANCE OUR APPRECIATION AND UNDERSTANDING OF GOLF. WE DO THAT BY TALKING TO INTERESTING PEOPLE DOING INTERESTING THINGS. TODAY WILL BE NO EXCEPTION.

I WON’T SURPRISE YOU.  I KNOW YOU’RE BUSY SO I LIKE TO LAY THINGS OUT UP FRONT IN THE HOPE THAT YOU’LL STICK AROUND. JUST AS LONG AS I’M NOT KEEPING YOU FROM PRACTICING YOUR SHORT GAME, OR, HEAVEN FORBID, FROM MAKING YOUR TEE TIME.

HERE’S TODAY’S SPECIALS:

PAULA LAVIGNE WILL JOIN ME. WE’VE NOT MET. PAULA AUTHORED A INVESTIGATIVE PIECE FOR ESPN’S ‘OUTSIDE THE LINES’ ON THE FINE PRINT OF THE PGA TOUR’S CHARITY COMMITMENT. SHE CRUNCHED TAX FIGURES, EXAMINED THE TOUR’S TAX EXEMPT STATUS, AND LOOKED INTO SEVERAL SPECIFIC EVENTS. HER FINDINGS ARE ASTONISHING, TO PUT IT MILDLY. AS SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL NOTED: QUOTE: JUST AS THE TOUR IS ABOUT TO CELEBRATE HITTING THE $2BILLION MARK IN TOTAL GIVING EARLY THIS SEASON, CRITICS SAY THE PERCENTAGE OF CONTRIBUTIONS COMPARED TO THE TOUR’S TOTAL REVENUE DOESN’T ADD UP.”

NEXT SEGMENT, PAULA LAVIGNE WILL TALK ABOUT HER FINDINGS, AND THE FALLOUT.

…LATER, AT ABOUT HALF-PAST THE HOUR, WE’LL WELCOME BACK OUR ERSTWHILE DIRECTOR OF GOLF. BRYAN GATHRIGHT CHEERFULLY MANS THE SWING CRISIS HOTLINE. ANONYMITY ALWAYS GUARANTEED, NO LAST NAMES NECESSARY. STELLAR SWING ADVICE AT CUT-RATE GOLF SCRIBE PRICES. KEEP THE NUMBER NEXT TO THE DUDE’S ON YOUR SPEED DIAL: 390-5483, 390-LIVE.

OUR FORECAST:

FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, WE’RE AN EXCLUSIVE PRESENTATION OF SPORTSTALK AM 1300 THE ZONE, AND YOUR AUSTIN AREA CHURCH OF THE INVETERATE DUFFER.

OUR CUSTOM ON SUNDAY MORNING IS TO OPEN WITH A SHORT INSPIRATIONAL READING.

OUR SELECTION THIS MORNING COMES FROM P.G. WODEHOUSE’S IMMORTAL COLLECTION, ‘DIVOTS,’ THE FIRST STORY, ‘THE HEART OF A GOOF.’ THERE’S AN INTERESTING DEDICATION TO THE BOOK, WHICH YOU MAY HAVE HEARD. HE DEDICATED IT TO HIS DAUGHTER “WITHOUT WHOSE NEVER-FALLING SYMPATHY AND ENCOURAGEMENT THIS BOOK WOULD HAVE BEEN FINISHED IN HALF THE TIME.”

ANYWAY, HE BEGINS:

IT WAS A MORNING WHEN ALL NATURE SHOUTED “FORE!” THE BREEZE, AS IT BLEW GENTLY UP FROM THE VALLEY, SEEMED TO BRING A MESSAGE OF HOPE AND CHEER, WHISPERING OF CHIP-SHOTS HOLED AND BRASSIES LANDING SQUARELY ON THE MEAT. THE FAIRWAY, AS YET UNSCARRED BY THE IRONS OF A HUNDRED DUBS, SMILED GREENLY UP AT THE AZURE SKY; AND THE SUN, PEEPING ABOVE THE TREES, LOOKED LIKE A GIANT GOLF BALL PERFECTLY LOFTED BY THE MASHIE OF SOME UNSEEN GOD AND ABOUT TO DROP DEAD BY THE PIN OF THE 18TH. IT WAS THE DAY OF THE OPENING OF THE COURSE AFTER THE LONG WINTER, AND A CROWD OF CONSIDERABLE DIMENSIONS HAD COLLECTED AT THE FIRST TEE. PLUS FOURS GLEAMED IN THE SUNSHINE, AND THE AIR WAS CHARGED WITH HAPPY ANTICIPATION.”

THE HEART OF A GOOF BY P.G. WODEHOUSE. HE NOTES THAT THIS COLLECTION OF STORIES WAS WRITTEN IMMEDIATELY AFTER QUOTE “I HAD WON MY FIRST AND ONLY TROPHY – AN UMBRELLA IN A HOTEL TOURNAMENT AT AIKEN, SOUTH CAROLINA, WHERE, PLAYING TO A HANDICAP OF SIXTEEN, I WENT THROUGH A FIELD CONSISTING OF SOME OF THE FATTEST RETIRED BUSINESSMEN IN AMERICA LIKE A DEVOURING FLAME.”

AIKEN, YOU LIKELY KNOW, IS NEAR AUGUSTA, GEORGIA. I’M GUESSING HE’S REFERRING TO THE HIGHLAND PARK GOLF COURSE AND HIGHLAND PARK HOTEL. ALMOST TO THE DAY THERE, 77 YEARS AGO, BABE DIDRIKSON SET THE PACE ON A SOGGY 5,418 YARD COURSE TO TAKE MEDALIST HONORS IN QUALIFYING FOR THE INAUGURAL WOMEN’S GOLF INVITATIONAL. BABE SHOT 73. PATTY BERG WOULD GO ON TO WIN THE MATCH PLAY EVENT BEATING AUGUSTAN BARBARA BOURNE, WHO WOULD LATER MARRY HORTON SMITH, THE WINNER OF THE FIRST MASTERS. THE TOURNAMENT, NOTED THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, WAS HAILED AS A HUGE SUCCESS. MARCH 20, 1937.

A match play tour de force, and your medalist in a soggy Aiken, c. 1937

A match play tour de force, and your medalist in soggy Aiken, c. 1937

AS A MATTER OF FACT, WE HAVE EXCITING MATCH PLAY ACTION UNDERWAY. JUST A MATCH PLAY APPETIZER TO THE FESTIVITIES IN SEPTEMBER IN SCOTLAND, IT BEING A RYDER CUP YEAR. WE MIGHT JUST TAKE A GLANCE AT THE STANDINGS FOR CAPTAIN TOM WATSON’S SIDE BEFORE THE HOUR SLIPS AWAY.

JASON DAY AND RICKY FOWLER IN ONE OF THE SEMI-FINALS. TWO GOLFERS WITH TREMENDOUS UPSIDES, OBVIOUSLY. FOWLER THIS WEEK BESTS: IAN POULTER, JIMMY WALKER, SERGIO GARCIA AND JIM FURYK. RYDER CUP MATERIAL, CERTAINLY.

THAT’S THE MENU. I HOPE IT MEETS WITH YOUR APPROVAL. ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES.  JUST THE SORT OF INFORMED GOLF TALK THAT YOU’VE GRADUALLY GROWN TO TRUST OVER THE YEARS.

ALSO THIS WEEK: PADRAIG HARRINGTON TELLS IRISH RADIO: QUOTE: “I’ve had a number of skin cancers removed off my face.”

SKIN CANCER, THE MOST COMMON OF ALL. NEARLY 1 MILLION CASES IN THE U.S. ALONE ANNUALLY, ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY. ANY UNUSUAL SORE, LUMP, BLEMISH, OTHER SKIN MARKING, OR CHANGE IN THE WAY AN AREA OF THE SKIN LOOKS OR FEELS MAY BE A SIGN OF SKIN CANCER OR A WARNING THAT IT IS LIKELY TO OCCUR. WWW.CANCER.ORG.

  • PERCENT OF GIVING WATCHDOG GROUPS SAY MAKES A GOOD CHARITY: 65 PERCENT.
  • PERCENT OF EXPENSES EXAMINED TOUR EVENTS DONATED IN 2011: SIXTEEN PERCENT.

AFTER THE BREAK (THERE ARE NO TIME-OUTS IN GOLF) PAULA LAVIGNE AND HER FINDINGS: “TAX BREAKS POWER PGA TOUR GIVING.” YOU’RE LISTENING TO THAT’S GOLF ON SPORTS TALK AM 1300 THE ZONE.

Advertisements

Not available in stores

It seemed prudent to keep a safe distance. (Starkcenter.org)

It seemed prudent to keep a safe distance.
(Starkcenter.org)

More destructive than supplements, at least as unregulated, golf practice aids remain a healthy sub-category of golf commerce. The afflicted, riddled by addiction, despondent for answers and quick fixes, are especially vulnerable. Preying on them like vultures, those pro endorsers should be ashamed of themselves.

“The weed cutter is still my favorite learning tool,” Harvey Penick wrote with typical frugality, “but if you can’t find one,” he added, “use a broom.” What?! No three easy payments? No infomercial? There must be a catch. What gives? The reference was in Harvey’s final memoir. By the time The Game for a Lifetime came out (1996), there was, sadly, the inevitable backlash to such seismic success – and simplicity. Some people, as Harvey noted, just didn’t care for a straight answer. Dan Jenkins got a wry column out of the discontent with the withered, self-effacing  “grown caddie.” He noted pros jealous to cash in with their own pithy homily, “take live aim” and so forth. It wasn’t all that much of a stretch. I heard the sniping.

Little known, there was a practice aid of Harvey’s own devise. I don’t believe it had a name. I’m only sorry that the thin tissue label affixed to the top of the shaft that stated “Harvey Penick, patent pending, Llano, Texas” is gone. It came from an elderly neighbor’s garage sale. She’d briefly taken lessons with Harvey at Austin Country Club.

I showed it to John Rhodes. A North Texas teacher, John had worked over the years with successful tour players like Tom Kite and Peter Jacobson. He’s the kind of teacher who can’t walk into Lowe’s or Home Depot without finding new construction materials to fashion homemade practice aids. He’s really a wizard, very enthusiastic, and obviously entrenched in the D-I-Y tradition. Inventive, I guess is the word. I haven’t seen nor heard of John in years. I hope he’s well. The last time we crossed paths he was in the Colonial press room.

Working for the Star-Telegram, he was tracking something rarely discussed, typical of his active mind. I’ve never tired of noticing his line of inquiry. He was simply tracking what happened to tour players after shooting those terrific low rounds. What he determined, and I’m simplifying for the sake of brevity (sorry, if it’s not really working) was that, often as not, those low rounds routinely presaged rounds eight or 10 shots higher. Or, at least several shots higher. I’ve since discussed this with players but I’ll let that go. John’s point was that someone who shoots, say, 63 and then follows it up with a 74 the next day is, in their way, not all that different from the golfer who shoots 80 one day and is (justifiably) miserable the next day with a 92. Of course, both golfers are justifiably steamed.

John was intrigued by Harvey’s training aid. He enthusiastically started hitting a few balls with it, not well. It’s just about impossible. I stood at a safe distance, fearful of getting brained.

Here’s Harvey’s reference to the aid from And If You Play Golf, You’re My Friend (1993).

Another [training aid] was a chain with a grip on one end and an iron on the other. I could hit a golf ball 150 yards with that contraption, but I quit using it when the cotter pin came loose one day and the iron ball flew off down the range. It could have killed somebody.

He also mentions another aid with a special grip but discarded that. You may be able to see that the rubber grip on his novel design is rectangular rather than round. John described what he thought Harvey had in mind but I’ve forgotten, likely timing. Walter Hagen had his name on a little aluminum shaft with a clicker inside. The object was to swing the club so the click would come at the very bottom of the downswing – at the ball – where you want it. Mine always clicked on the way down, symptomatic of various faults. I should’ve bought the Hagen aid, fiendishly simple, but I had the sense to realize it would lead to madness.

(Tell me this, oh, gullible golfing public. Have you ever seen a touring pro use a commercially-sold practice aid, other than a stick placed strategically at his or her feet?  I mean, not when the camera was rolling and they were getting paid.)