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Preview: Backspin

Austin Golf: Backspin



Kevin Robbins shares his drives, chips and putts about the local golf community.



Published: 2012-11-07T08:34:19-06:00

 



Darrell Royal: 1924-2012

2012-11-07T08:34:19-06:00

Former Texas football coach Darrell Royal — winner of three national and 11 Southwest Conference championships, mentor to All Americans and third-stringers who never saw the field, the namesake of a stadium, the custodian of the Wishbone, a long-ago quarterback at Oklahoma, the fashioner of funny sayings, father, husband, grandfather and an incredibly devoted, passionate and, at one time, skilled golfer — died Wednesday morning in Austin after 88 years of life. Royal was a longtime member at Barton Creek, where, eight years ago, I spent his 80th birthday with him and Larry Gatlin on a ribald afternoon at the Crenshaw Cliffside course. It was maybe the most fun I’ve ever had writing about golf, mostly for what was too rich to include.

The story no longer exists on the internet. But this does:

width="444" height="333" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/C0xRHtTMf1E" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>



Golfsmith names new CEO

2012-11-06T11:19:30-06:00

Gary Dinges of the Austin American-Statesman delivers the news that Sue Gove, formerly president and COO of Golfsmith International and Golf town, has been promoted to chief executive officer:

Gove joined Golfsmith in 2008. She previously held executive-level positions at car parts retailer AutoZone Inc. and jeweler Zale Corp.

“Golfsmith International is changing the face of golf,” Gove said in a statement. “Our business is stronger, larger and well-positioned to meet the needs of golfers throughout North America.

“We remain committed to exceeding customer expectations while keeping our passion for golf and the customers we serve at the center of all we do.”




Jim Flick: 1930-2012

2012-11-05T18:36:21-06:00

Noted golf instructor Jim Flick died Monday from pancreatic cancer. He was 82 years old.

PGA.com has the story:

One of the most prolific instructors in golf history, Flick taught the game in 23 nations while elevating the business of golf instruction. Flick was elected to PGA membership in 1959, and served as director of instruction for Golf Digest’s Schools and guiding more than 1,000 multi-day programs. He was co-founder with Jack Nicklaus of the Nicklaus-Flick Golf Schools (1991-2003); operated his own Jim Flick Premier School in 2002; and served as a lead instructor for the ESPN Golf Schools (2003-05). Since 2006, he had served as the ambassador for TaylorMade Golf.

“Known widely in the golf world for his knowledge of the swing, enthusiasm for teaching and boundless energy, Flick left a permanent mark on the game,” said his family in a statement. “Throughout his five decades as an instructor he authored several books, hundreds of magazine articles, made numerous appearances on the Golf Channel and, most important, gave hundreds of thousands of lessons. He worked with numerous Tour professionals including long-time student Tom Lehman, winner of the 1996 Open Championship and 2012 Charles Schwab Cup; and in 1990 Jack Nicklaus entrusted Flick to monitor his swing.

“Yet for all the work Flick did with accomplished players, he said often that the most rewarding of all his students were juniors. Though he lived to teach, Flick himself never stopped learning, and one of things the game taught him, he said last week, was that golf is not about searching for the perfect swing or working at golf — it’s about playing golf.”

James Achenbach has a remembrance at Golfweek.com. Roger Schiffman has one at Golfworld.com.




San Antonio rallies to tie, retains Rudy's I-35 Cup

2012-11-04T20:09:07-06:00

A rally on singles Sunday gave San Antonio custody of the Rudy’s I-35 Cup for the fourth consecutive year.

The team of 14 amateurs from Austin built an impressive 8.5-5.5 lead Saturday in the four-ball and foursome matches at Cimarron Hills Golf & Country Club. Chris Hartenstein and Grady Bruce won both team matches for Austin, as did Peter McGibney and Kody King

The San Antonio team won 8.5 points in the singles matches. The tie gave San Antonio, which held a 3-0 lead in the history of the matches, the cup for another year.

McGibney lost the opening singles match to Gordy McKeown, 3 and 2. Manny Bhakta tied the second match, and Gene Black won the third. With 1.5 points through three matches — and a cumulative 10 points for the weekend — the Austin amateurs looked to be in fine shape to finally win the cup. But San Antonio swept the next five matches.

Hartenstein won the ninth singles game to reverse the spiral. The 10th went to Christopher Payne of San Antonio, who beat Bruce. Then King beat Jacob Bowen in the 11th match. Chuck Ellenwood then won the 12th match, 1 up, over Wayne Smith, assuring the tie.

Austin won the final two matches. But the matter had been settled. And the amateurs from San Antonio went home with the cup again.




Austin, San Antonio ready for Rudy's I-35 Cup

2012-11-01T21:34:47-06:00

The fourth annual Rudy’s I-35 Cup opens this weekend at Cimarron Hills Golf & Country Club, where teams of 14 amateurs from Austin and 14 from San Antonio will play team matches Saturday and singles on Sunday. The San Antonio team holds a 3-0 lead in the matches.

Doug Smith of the Austin American-Statesman has the story about the Austin team, captained by Dean Lundquist, a member at Cimarron Hills, and including, for the first time, reigning city and Austin Country Club champion Brian Noonan.

Richard Oliver of the San Antonio Express-News has the story about the San Antonio team, captained by Pat McMahan. Oliver spoke to Austin assistant captain Randy Reynolds, who has been involved in the matches since the beginning:

“What we have between our cities is really unique,” said Reynolds, president of Austin Amateur Golf and one of that team’s assistant captains.

Reynolds noted entries into Austin’s tournament schedule are up by more than 300 since the Cup was created. Janina Schmit-Collins, amateur tournament coordinator for Golf San Antonio, notes a similar upswing in her entries for men’s events.

Of course you can go watch. Of course there’s no charge. If you’ve never walked Cimarron Hills, that’s incentive enough.

It’s a Jack Nicklaus course. Of course it’s stunning.




Fields elected to GCAA Hall of Fame

2012-10-31T14:05:10-06:00

Texas men’s head coach John Fields is one of six coaches named Wednesday to the 2012 Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame induction class. Fields joins former Texas coaches George Hannon (1982), Harvey Penick (1986) and Jimmy Clayton (1998) in the hall.

“It’s a really nice honor,” Fields said, noting the honor quietly recognizes people who helped it happen.

“To me it has a lot to do with my family and my players and my former players,” Fields said.

From the GCAA announcement:

Fields became the Longhorns’ golf coach in August 1997, and has guided UT to four top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships, including the 2012 NCAA Championship, and six appearances in the top 10 in the final national rankings. He also has produced 14 All-Americans at Texas who have earned a total of 21 All-America honors. The architect of a Texas team that won eight team titles last season, Fields’ Longhorns held the No. 1 national ranking all but two weeks during the 2011-12 season and Fields received the Dave Williams Award presented by Eaton Golf Pride as national coach of the year after leading Texas to its first national title since 1972. Fields came to Austin after leading the University of New Mexico to nine NCAA Championship appearances in 10 years. While at the helm of the New Mexico men’s golf program, the Lobos won three Western Athletic Conference titles and placed in the Top 15 a total of five times at the NCAA Championships. He tutored four WAC Players of the Year, three WAC individual champions, nine All-Americans, 24 all-conference players and six Academic All-Americans with the Lobos. Fields’ efforts also helped bring the NCAA Championships to Albuquerque in both 1992 and 1998. He served eight years on the GCAA National Advisory Board including two seasons as the Association’s president.

(image)




Longhorns finish sixth at Betsy Rawls

2012-10-30T21:16:11-06:00

The Texas women shot the worst aggregate score among the Top 10 teams Tuesday at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, taking 304 strokes — 16 shots over par — to finish in sixth place in the 15-team tournament at The University of Texas Golf Club. Florida nipped Alabama for the trophy in the last fall start for Texas.

Sophomore Bertine Strauss began the third and final round in fourth place individually. She shot 7-over 79, finishing in a team-best tie for 15th place.

“I think my nerves played a little part in my performance,” Strauss said.

“I think overall we played a lot of good golf,” head coach Martha Richards told TexasSports.com. “I don’t think our scores reflected that as much as we’d like to see. That’s the hard part in golf. It’s hard to feel good all the way around when your scored don’t reflect it. I still saw a lot of really good things that our team is doing, and I think we just have to find a way to put together a whole tournament.”

Richards also told the website of her plans for the break. The message, it seems to me, is pretty clear.

“I think the biggest thing we have to do is get more competitive at everything we do,” Richards said. “Whether it’s playing basketball with putting trash in the trash can fastest, or playing ping-pong, we need to be more competitive. I think we’re a little to content with making sure everything looks perfect instead of just getting the golf ball in the hole. I think that is the nature of golf.

“The golf in this country is all about having the perfect golf swing and perfect approach. But in reality, golf isn’t about being perfect. It’s really about getting the golf ball in the hole. Everything we do this offseason will be about competition. We’re going to get after it. Like I said, we’re doing a lot of really good things, and I think (being more competitive) is the missing link. I love this group. They’re a great group of girls. Now, if we can just get them to be a little more consistent, then we’re going to be a really good team.”




UT women rise at the Rawls, men split matches at Cypress

2012-10-29T22:37:13-06:00

The Texas women shot 1-over-par 289 on Monday in the second round of the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational to move into a tie for fifth after 36 holes. The Longhorns finished at plus 10, tied with Tulsa and 13 shots behind Florida and Alabama, who shared first. Texas sophomore Bertine Strauss continued her fine play, posting 3-under 69 to finish at minus 4 for the competition. She’ll start the third and final round Tuesday in fourth individually.

“The biggest thing we have to do is trust that we know how to play this golf course,” Texas head coach Martha Richards told TexasSports.com. “We need to trust our golf swings and be ready from the get-go. We’ve got some birdies out there because I’ve seen all these kids make a ton of birdies on this course. If we make as many birdies as we’re capable of tomorrow, we can make things interesting.”

The second-ranked men, meanwhile, finished the first day of the Stanford Classic at Cypress Point with a 1-1 split.

Seeded No. 1 in the eight-team match-play event, the Longhorns beat Michigan and lost to UCLA. TexasSports has the details.




Texas women open Betsy Rawls in sixth

2012-10-28T22:06:08-06:00

The Texas women’s golf team finished the first round of the 15-team Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational in sixth place, 13 shots behind leader Alabama, the only team, at minus 4, to close under par. The Longhorns shot 9-over-par 297 on Sunday at The University of Texas Golf Club.

Sophomore Bertine Strauss led Texas with a 1-under 71, a card that included three birdies and two bogeys. Strauss finished the first round in a tie for fifth individually.

The men, meanwhile, begin play Monday at the Stanford Classic at Cypress Point. (I thank them, personally, for the opportunity to type, for legitimate journalistic purposes, the words Cypress and Point. Can we get some pictures next?)




Betsy Rawls begins Sunday at UTGC

2012-10-27T21:37:45-06:00

The Texas women’s golf team opens its last tournament of the fall season Sunday at the 39th annual Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, where 15 teams, including six in the national Top 30 and three in the Top 10, will play 54 holes through Tuesday at The University of Texas Golf Club. Golfstat.com has live scoring and TexasSports.com has the preview.




From San Antonio to Streamsong, revisited

2012-10-26T20:38:50-06:00

The lads at the AT&T Championship south of the city played through some atypical Texas conditions Friday. Some didn’t even finish.

A long weather delay at TPC San Antonio kept the first round of the Champions Tour stop at TPC San Antonio — the last full-field start of the season — from finishing. But a snugly sweatered Mark Calcavecchia signed for a 5-under-par 67 at the Canyons Course, where Tom Kite took an early claim at third with a 2-under-par 70. Ben Crenshaw birdied the first hole. That was about as good as it got. Crenshaw shot 80, with a double on the 18th hole.

But Crenshaw has been up to some pretty incredible things elsewhere. His fascinating design project in central Florida, the highly acclaimed Streamsong resort, continues to draw excellent reviews and produce sensational photography, the latest of which comes in high-bore color from a Larry Lambrecht gallery on Golf.com.

I ask you this: Have you ever seen another golf course in the state simply live on the land as these two do?

(image)




Hilltopper men finish fourth in California

2012-10-24T11:51:28-06:00

The St. Edward’s men ended the fall season Tuesday with a fourth-place finish at the Otter Invitational at the Bayonet Golf Course in Seaside, Calif.

The Hilltoppers shot 34-over-par 898 in the 54-hole tournament of 17 teams. CSU-Monterey Bay won at plus 10, followed by Nova Southeastern (plus 14) and Western Washington (plus 33).

Drew Bell of St. Edward’s (68-79-73) finished in ninth place individually at 4 over par. Jose A. Hernandez tied for 18th at plus 8.




Texas men finish in fourth in Florida

2012-10-23T17:39:25-06:00

The No. 2-ranked Texas men dropped another place Tuesday in the final round of the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, finishing in fourth behind California, New Mexico and Alabama. Led by sophomore Jordan Spieth (68-74-74), who finished in fifth individually, the Longhorns shot 12-over-par 296 in the last of three rounds to end at plus 15.

The report from TexasSports.com.




Texas men slip to third at Isleworth

2012-10-22T22:09:13-06:00

The Texas men’s golf team fell a spot Monday at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, finishing two rounds with a share of third place after a 7-over-par 295 at Isleworth Country Club. The defending-champion Longhorns — who began the day in second place, four shots behind No. 1-ranked California — stood at plus 7 through 36 holes, still four in back of Cal and, now, a shot behind Illinois.

Sophomore Jordan Spieth (68-74), who won the tournament last fall, remained T-2 in the individual standings at minus 2, three shots behind Michael Kim of Cal. Senior Cody Gribble (69-76) finished in a tie for 10th at plus 1.

Texas, California and Illinois play together Tuesday in the final round at 8:40 a.m.




Lee named STPGA professional of the year

2012-10-22T08:18:16-06:00

Glenn Lee, the general manager at Escondido, has won the Southern Texas PGA Professional of the Year Award for the second time in his career, the STPGA announced. The chapter will distribute that award and the rest of the 2012 honors in February at its annual ceremony at Horseshoe Bay Resort, where Lee was director of golf until October.




Texas women finish last in California, men start in second in Florida

2012-10-21T22:26:19-06:00

The Texas women concluded play Sunday with a last-place finish at the 17-team Stanford Intercollegiate, where they shot 52-over-par 904. Haley Stephens (76-74-71) led the Longhorns with a T-32 individually at the Stanford Golf Course.

The No. 2-ranked men, meanwhile, opened the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational in second place after an even-par 288 at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando, Fla. Sophomore Jordan Spieth finished tied for second with a 4-under 68; Cody Gribble tied for fourth at 3-under 69.

The second round of the 15-team tournament, which top-ranked California led at minus 4, begins Monday.




Couples WDs from AT&T Championship

2012-10-19T11:38:29-06:00

Defending champion (and former Austin resident) Fred Couples withdrew Friday from the AT&T Championship, the Champions Tour scheduled for next week at the Canyons Course at TPC San Antonio.

From the news release:

Tournament officials announced today that Fred Couples, the AT&T Championship’s defending champion, has been forced to withdraw from this year’s event due to back problems.

“Obviously, given my success in San Antonio last year, I was really looking forward to defending my title at this year’s AT&T Championship. However, my back has been an issue throughout my career and it’s just not going to allow me to play next week,” Couples said. “I hope I feel better and will be able to play in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Scottsdale the following week.”

“With or without Fred, it is still undoubtedly the strongest Champions Tour field of the year,” said AT&T Championship tournament director Colby Callaway. “We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him back at TPC San Antonio in 2013.”




Dreaming of Streamsong, all these miles away

2012-10-18T09:07:23-06:00

It’s been a while since we’ve talked here about Streamsong, the 36-hole resort complex built on a retired phosphate mine southwest of Tampa that, to me, represents the most exciting development in resort golf since the opening of the original course at Bandon Dunes. Tom Doak designed one Streamsong course; Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore did other other; I can’t imagine a more thrilling tandem in modern architecture. But enough of the hyperbole from someone who hasn’t even seen the property.

The Metropolitan Golf Association recently reviewed both courses and created a gorgeous photo gallery to publish alongside:

It’s clear from the first glimpse of the site why the world’s best architects were clamoring for this job. Streamsong is roughly 55 miles west/southwest of Tampa — geographically it’s the middle of the state, but feels like the middle of nowhere (in a good way). It sits in an area of rural Polk County dotted with lakes, farms, and infrastructure supporting the region’s number-one industry: phosphate mining.

It is these mines, or rather the land that used to serve as mines, that form the basis of Streamsong’s existence. The organic remnants of the mining operations resulted in tens of thousands of dunes — “sand piles,” as they’re called here — which for years have shifted with the winds and sprouted grasses and vegetation. The result is a playing environment that, while not “natural” in the traditional sense of the word, is also not an artificial creation of bulldozers and earthmovers.

Later:

Streamsong, which is managed by Kemper Sports, is also investing time and energy in the smaller touches that make the experience memorable. For the hole markers, they are using remnants of old railroad ties that once transported the phosphate off the property. Greens and tees are very close together and players will be strongly encouraged to walk and utilitize the resort’s caddie program. Near the clubhouse is a short par three over water that can be used as an extra hole to play for fun and is also accessible in the evenings for clubhouse guests. And the lodge, already well under construction, is low-slung and barely visible from just a few holes, adding to the overall vibe of a place where the natural takes precedence over the man-made.

You had me at sand piles. Built for walking? I’m in, sight unseen.

Ready to peek? Have a tour of the photo gallery.

(image)




Perfection at the top of the hill: St. Edward's women sweep fall season

2012-10-17T14:19:47-06:00

The No. 2-ranked St. Edward’s University women’s golf team swept its fourth tournament of the season Tuesday, winning the 17-team Dallas Baptist Invitational by six shots at the Golf Club of Dallas. The Hilltoppers finished the fall with four championships in four starts — undefeated, if you prefer. (How often do we get to dust off that definition of perfection in, of all things, team golf?)

The Hilltoppers shot 20-over-par 596 in Dallas, beating Midwestern State by six shots and hos Dallas Baptist by 11. Haley Haught (69-77) led St. Edward’s with a tie for fourth at plys 2; right behind her was Wallis Spears (77-70), who tied for sixth at plus 3 and shot the best second round in the field of 91. Ryanne Haddow (74-78) tied for 12th at plus 8.

“They battled to the finish for every single shot,” head coach Jennifer McNeil told the Hilltopper athletics website. “I couldn’t be more proud of this group. I can’t wait for the spring to start.”

That, for the record (and maybe the record books), happens in February.




New swing, new resolution -- and maybe a new book

2012-10-16T19:47:57-06:00

My protracted absence requires an explanation or two, and maybe three. I’ll start with a promise — to myself, more than anyone or thing — to again populate this place as frequently as a used to, back when I was a staff reporter for this newspaper, posting with some measure of pride a near-daily reflection of golf in Austin, the state of Texas, the greater American Southwest or, say, Brazil. Yes, I remember the days when I’d happily share golf news about the Olympics in Brazil. Those days are back. That’s my promise to myself. Now about that part where I wrote that I used to be a reporter. This will be quick. I left the Austin American-Statesman about a month and a half ago. I told the newspaper I wanted to keep this blog. I’ve had it since 2005, after all. And I’ll still write occasionally for the newspaper itself. But I no longer have a desk at 305. S. Congress, a telephone number, a functional badge or a season credential for Texas football. I already miss all of it — even the football games. But I’m doing something incredible in other, different ways. I’m teaching a sports-reporting class (and next semester a course in long-form feature writing) at the University of Texas. If that’s not amazing enough, let me share something else: I have an office. In a new building. With a desk. And a door. That explains to some degree my inconsistency here. There are other dynamics at work. My appearance late last month at the Texas Mid-Amateur Championship at Dallas Athletic Club, for instance. I finished last. I’ve mentioned this once, and it really bears no further reflection beyond the ramifications of my poor play, namely lessons. I’ve begun a series of swing changes under expert instruction, which is something in my two decades of playing golf I’ve never done. It’s an enormous commitment, full of little joys and profound agitations, that I intend to see through until March. I shall debut my retooled action at the city spring mid-am. I will then show the world, or the two people stuck with me in the first round at Morris Williams, a swing that is proper, efficient, repeating, reliable and worthy of my trust, which is something I have never had and most certainly did not have last month at DAC, where I shot 91-89 to shore up 132nd place, in a field of 132, by an astounding six strokes. Never again. (I suppose that’s promise 1B.) And there’s one other thing. I’m a bit reluctant to share this, and not because I absolutely believe in jinxes. It’s just not a reality. But it’s very close. Five months ago I began work on a book proposal to write the biography of Harvey Penick. It’s the longest single piece of writing I’ve ever done, measuring 15,000 words, including a sample chapter, chapter summaries, an expansive overview and a marketing plan. The proposal went to nine publishing houses about a week ago. It’s been rejected by two. Four have expressed interest. I had a telephone interview this morning with editors from one of them. I’ve got another scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. I don’t know what will happen, but the fact that two large publishers want to talk with me on the phone tells me what I’ve believed since I started this project in May. It’s good to be back here again. Writing every day — even if it’s aggregating dispatches from the U.S. Open or linking to developments in Rio — is mighty good for the soul. The St. Edward[...]



Hilltopper women win third straight

2012-10-09T22:32:05-06:00

The No. 2-ranked St. Edward’s University women’s golf team won Tuesday for the third consecutive time this season (that’s three for three, for those keeping track), finishing five strokes ahead of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the Harold Funston Invitational in Huntsville. The inspired Hilltoppers shot 32-over-par 290-297-297—884 to beat a field of 10 teams, some from NCAA Division I, at Raven Nest Golf Club.

Wallis Spears (68-71-79) finished second. Jessica Tamen of the Hilltoppers finished tied for third (71-75-73).

Ryanne Haddow (76-72-73) tied for the sixth.

Head coach Jennifer McNeil clearly has something special this season. “I am very proud of how we played this week,” she told the St. Edward’s athletics website. “I feel like the girls really fought hard and worked together to get this win. They really picked each other up, when others were struggling and pushed each other to grind. I learned a lot about their mental toughness and am excited going forward.”

Four in row? We’ll find out Oct. 15, when the Hilltoppers play in the Dallas Baptist Invitational in Dallas at the Golf Club of Dallas.




Hilltopper women win again, D-1 coaches rank Texas (again)

2012-10-05T06:14:08-06:00

The St. Edward’s University women won their second consecutive tournament of the fall this week, the RCB Classic in Oklahoma City, by six strokes over Southwestern Oklahoma State. Wallis Spears of Kerrville shot a two-round score of 144 and finished tied for second.

The Division-II Hilltoppers are ranked second in the nation — and on the subject of rankings, both Division I polls were released this week.

The Golf World/Nike poll has the Texas men at No. 2, while the Golf World/Women’s Golf Coaches Association poll has the Texas women at No. 19. The Texas Tech women earned the No. 13 spot; the Texas A&M women, No. 23.

On the men’s side, the Longhorns got seven first-place votes, two fewer than Cal, which had nine. Texas A&M is No. 10.

The St. Edward’s men fell from No. 14 to No. 18 in the newest Division II poll.




Davis Love: Blame me

2012-10-04T06:05:30-06:00

I found this Wednesday night on Facebook (of course I did). Maybe you’ve read it already. It was posted Monday on Golf.com.

I began it with a considerable amount of skepticism. But I read every word, and now I’m sympathetic, and glad I finally saw the pice.

A lot of people wanted to assign blame for what happened Sunday at the Ryder Cup. Not me. I wanted to assign credit to a European team that accomplished something incredible, something historic. I know some American players played badly, especially on the final two holes at Medinah. But more often than not, a European player — I think instantly of Luke Donald, Paul Lawrie, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and, for one profoundly significant putt, Martin Kaymer — achieved a level of golf that simply transcended what he’d seemed capable of in the previous two days, and maybe his career.

Anyway, back to Davis Love III.

The U.S. team captain wrote this awfully nice confessional, and I thought it should be shared.

I spent 20 months getting ready for three days of golf. My shot as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain has come and gone. I feel a sense of satisfaction. I gave it my all. (My team gave it more.) I feel a sense of emptiness. (Losing stinks.) I feel a sense of pride. My team handled its 48 hours of prosperity without ever being cocky and handled its Sunday defeat with true graciousness. From start to finish, in good times and bad, José María Olazábal’s European team showed nothing but class. Golf is better now than it was last week.

True words right there. Golf is better than it was the week before the Ryder Cup. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or where you live.

If you cheer for transcendent golf, Singles Sunday was as good as it gets.




Open to debate: Does the president play too much golf?

2012-10-03T13:54:13-06:00

On the eve of the first presidential debate of 2012, what I learned from Don Van Natta Jr. and his “Secret golfing life of Barack Obama,” which also appears in the Oct. 15 DC issue of ESPN the Magazine:

The president plays Nike clubs. We think he plays Titleist balls. He plays a lot. We think he’s an 18.

He prefers not to play in the klieg-light glare — some would call it the sunshine — of the media.

He also knows when and when not to be at the golf course.

How? We read the opening scene in the piece:

IT IS THE FIRST Sunday morning in May 2011, and the president of the United States tees off on the East Course at Andrews air base. It is Barack Obama’s 66th round of golf as president, and as usual, the media and the public aren’t invited. Like nearly all of Obama’s previous outings, the only witnesses are his playing partners — a trio of White House staffers — and a platoon of Secret Service agents.

Obama’s favorite game is basketball, a love affair that began at age 10 when the father he barely knew gave him a ball. But by his third year in office, golf has become his most cherished escape. The press corps is forbidden from following the president from hole to hole or even taking his photograph on the course. For a man who laments that he “misses being anonymous,” the golf course has become the one place he can disappear.

On this morning, Obama calls it quits after nine holes, a curious turn for a golfer who typically insists on 18 holes during rounds that last as long as six hours. No explanation is offered to the media. The lone pool reporter is forced to guess at the reason, blaming the somewhat “chilly weather and rain.”

Back at the White House, Obama, still clad in a white golf shirt, khaki pants and a navy blue windbreaker, doesn’t return to the residence, as he usually does after a round. Instead, he strides to the Oval Office, swaps his black-and-white cleats for dress shoes, hustles downstairs and takes a seat inside the Situation Room. Here the president, still dressed for a Sunday round, watches a monitor as Navy SEAL Team Six storms a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and kills Osama bin Laden.




'It means everything'

2012-10-01T17:52:56-06:00

A collection of interviews immediately after the Team Europe won the Ryder Cup:

width="444" height="250" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/i5JYIUAcBGA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

Good enough to let stand.