Sunday, September 25

Arnold Palmer Transcended the Game of Golf

ARNOLD PALMER DIED ON SUNDAY IN PITTSBURGH. HE WAS 87.

Arnold Palmer, aka "The King."
"Arnold Palmer will always be a champion, in every sense of the word," the United States Golf Association said in a statement. "He inspired generations to love golf by sharing his competitive spirit, displaying sportsmanship, caring for golfers and golf fans, and serving as a lifelong ambassador for the sport. Our stories of him not only fill the pages of golf’s history books and the walls of the museum, but also our own personal golf memories. The game is indeed better because of him, and in so many ways, will never be the same."

"Arnold transcended the game of golf," Jack Nicklaus said. "He was more than a golfer or even great golfer. He was an icon. He was a legend. Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport. He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself. Along the way, he had millions of adoring fans—Barbara and I among them. We were great competitors, who loved competing against each other, but we were always great friends along the way. Arnold always had my back, and I had his. We were always there for each other. That never changed.

"He was the king of our sport and always will be."

When I interviewed Arnold in 2010, I asked him about his stirring, come-from-behind victory at the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. He made up seven shots in the final round to claim his first and only national title. 

"Do you think you were a little bit more focused and a better player when you played from behind?" I asked.

"Let's just say I never ruled out the possibility of winning," Arnold said. "Until it was figuratively impossible, I always thought I had a shot."

That was always Arnold's style, and it took him a long way in golf and life and won him legions of fans.

Palmer won seven major championships: four Masters, one U.S. Open and two British Opens. He collected 62 PGA Tour titles and made seven Ryder Cup appearances. He also won five senior majors. "The King" is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2004) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2009).

Friday, September 23

Oops! ARMCHAIR GOLF Misquotes Ernest Shackleton

We had seen golf in all its splendors, heard the text that nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man.
– (not said by) Sir Ernest Shackleton

Biographical note: 
Ernest Shackleton was an Irish explorer who, along with his crew, survived a famous ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic.

This misquote brought to you by The Armchair Golfer.
Getting it wrong for the love of the game.

Thursday, September 22

2016 TOUR Championship TV Schedule and Broadcast Notes



By Golf Channel Communications

The PGA TOUR season will culminate at the TOUR Championship in Atlanta, with each of the top-5 players in the current FedEx Cup standings guaranteed to claim the FedEx Cup and accompanying $10 million bonus with a victory this week. NBC Sports Group will provide more than 20 hours of live tournament coverage from East Lake Golf Club, and once the final pairing makes the turn to the back nine on Sunday, NBC will present the duration of its final round coverage free of national advertisements.

PGA TOUR

TOUR Championship
Dates: Sept. 22-25
Venue: East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1-6 p.m. (Live) / 7 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Friday              1-6 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          10 a.m.-Noon (Live) / 10 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            Noon-1:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
                                                                             
Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):                                                              
Saturday          Noon-3:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            1:30-6 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Reversal of nines at East Lake: For the first time, the traditional nines at East Lake will be reversed and, instead of the final hole being played as a par-3 as it has in the past, the 18th hole will be a par-5 (previously played as the 9th hole.)

Top-5 in FedEx Cup Standings have clear path to winning FedEx Cup: With points reset ahead of the TOUR Championship, every player in the field has a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup. However, the top-5 in the standings are guaranteed to win the FedEx Cup and $10 million first place bonus with a victory this week. The top-5 in the standings include: Dustin Johnson (1), Patrick Reed (2), Adam Scott (3), Jason Day (4) and Paul Casey (5).

Final U.S. Ryder Cup team captain's pick to be announcedFollowing the conclusion of the TOUR Championship on Sunday, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III will announce his final captain's pick during halftime of NBC’s Sunday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys.

Spieth defends: Jordan Spieth finished four shots clear of the field in 2015 to win his fifth event of the season, along with the FedEx Cup.

TOUR Championship field: Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Russell Knox, Emiliano Grillo, Jimmy Walker, Brandt Snedeker, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Kevin Chappell, Matt Kuchar, Hideki Matsuyama, Si Woo Kim, Kevin Kisner, Gary Woodland, Roberto Castro, Kevin Na, William McGirt, Bubba Watson, Sean O’Hair, Daniel Berger, Jason Dufner, J.B. Holmes, Jhonattan Vegas and Charl Schwartzel.
                                                                                                          
Golf Channel / NBC Broadcast Team:
Play by Play: Terry Gannon (Golf Channel) / Dan Hicks (NBC)
Analyst: Frank Nobilo (Golf Channel) / Johnny Miller (NBC)
Tower: Gary Koch / Peter Jacobsen
On-Course: Roger Maltbie / Notah Begay / Billy Ray Brown
Interviews: Steve Sands
Essays: Jimmy Roberts

Wednesday, September 21

Playing Clinic: Harry Cooper

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


While interviewing golf legends for my book Playing with the Pros: Golf Lessons from the Senior Tour (1990), I arranged some of their answers into a separate chapter I called "Playing Clinic." Following are words of wisdom from some of the best players.

Next up is Harry Cooper (August 4, 1904 - October 17, 2000). Nicknamed "Lighthorse Harry," Cooper won 30 PGA Tour titles and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1992. He also was awarded the inaugural Vardon Trophy in 1937, a year in which he won seven times on tour.

Q. Do you ever master the game of golf?

COOPER: No. I don't think so. I'm 85 years old and have been a professional since I was 18, and I'm still trying to get it right.

Q. Is there more than one good golf swing?

COOPER: Of course. Just look at the likes of Lee Trevino, Walter Hagen, or Jack Nicklaus. There is no perfect swing. All that matters is the grip and the address. Make your own swing as simple a physical movement as you can. Then go practice that swing.

Q. How much time should I spend practicing?

COOPER: Go to the practice tee to develop a swing you can trust. Go to the golf course to develop the confidence you need to play. If you are a good player already, spend more time on the golf course than on the practice tee. However, always loosen up before you play.

Q. How can an average golfer improve his game?

COOPER: Take some lessons from a PGA professional. He'll get your score down.

Q. How far away from the ball should I stand?

COOPER: Make sure your arms are extended but you're not stretching for the ball.

Q.  What's the most important part of any golf swing?

COOPER: The first 10 inches. The greatest player in the world is Jack Nicklaus, and he establishes his tremendous swing in the first foot. It all happens there: the club head speed, timing, and tempo.

TO BE CONTINUED.

More Playing Clinic:
Bruce Crampton

John Coyne is a bestselling author of three golf novels and more than 20 other books. Pay him a visit at John Coyne Books.

Tuesday, September 20

How 1969 Changed a Boy's Life and the Ryder Cup

This originally published at this blog on September 1, 2014, and also on The History Reader by St. Martin's Press. During the run-up to the 2016 Ryder Cup, you might hear about the 1969 Ryder Cup and Jack Nicklaus's famous act of sportsmanship. I wrote the book on it.

By Neil Sagebiel

1969 was a big year in my life and the life of my family. Natives of Indiana, we moved from the Hoosier state to "The Golden State."

California, here we come!

A cross-country move is a significant life event for anyone, and especially for a boy of 11. I said goodbye to my friends and traveled 2,000 miles to a strange new world in the back seat of our blue 1965 Plymouth Belvedere, my older brother alongside.

The changes were extreme: from the Ohio River Valley to the Mojave Desert, from a brick house with a walk-out basement to a one-level home made of stucco painted yellow, from neighborhood buddies to the new kid on the block who, I later found out, was supposed to get beat up not long after arriving in Palmdale. I somehow dodged that fight.


My few memories of the summer of '69 are blurred. They include a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim. The third week of July also stands out. That was when Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto the surface of the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission. My family watched the historic moment in black and white on our Zenith television.

Armstrong famously said, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." The "a" wasn't audible, but an audio analysis nearly four decades later confirmed that he did, in fact, say the "a."

The astronaut with whom I shared a first name also was quoted as saying, "It's good country for golf up here...you could drive a ball 2,000 feet."

I don't recall any of Armstrong's words from that long-ago summer.

Golf?

That was a game my dad sometimes played on his day off. My sports were basketball and baseball. But within two years of moving to California, I was playing golf with my dad and brother. And now, 45 years later, I've written a golf story that took place during the summer of '69 and involved Hall of Fame players such as Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, Lee Trevino, Peter Alliss, Raymond Floyd, Neil Coles and Billy Casper.

That would have seemed far-fetched to the 11-year-old boy, but so did a moon walk until that other Neil visited the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.

Eight days before Armstrong walked on the moon, Tony Jacklin, a 25-year-old from the industrial town of Scunthorpe in northern England, became the first British golfer to win the British Open since Max Faulkner in 1951.

It changed his life and it changed golf, for Jacklin would go on to lead his British teammates that September against the mighty Americans in the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England.  

Great Britain had lost 14 of 17 Ryder Cups dating back to the official beginning in 1927 when English seeds tycoon Samuel Ryder donated the gold trophy. In September 1969, few people, British included, held out much hope for the 12 men playing for Great Britain, even though they were the home team playing a familiar style of golf on a seaside links course.

Just like America was first to the moon, it was also first in golf. In fact, at the time, the United States was seemingly first in everything.

This time, however, led by new Open champion Jacklin and fiery Captain Eric Brown, the British players didn't bow to American supremacy. What followed, according to many who witnessed it, was the most controversial and compelling Ryder Cup ever played.


Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin on September 20, 1969.
(Bob Thomas/Bob Thomas Sports Photography/Getty Images)
All tied up after three days and 31 matches, the 1969 Ryder Cup came down to the last two men in the last match putting out on the last green. The matter would be decided by Jacklin and Nicklaus. That's when one of the most famous moments in golf occurred, a rare act of sportsmanship that sealed the first tie in the 42-year history of the Ryder Cup.

Great Britain rejoiced, for a draw was nearly as sweet as a victory. The United States was far from enthusiastic about the stunning outcome. Yet, in the ensuing years and decades, most would agree the 1969 Ryder Cup had a perfect ending.

Eight players from those two 1969 teams went on to become Ryder Cup captains, including Jacklin (four times) and Nicklaus (twice).

The summer of '69 that changed one boy's life also forever changed the Ryder Cup.

The epic battle at Royal Birkdale breathed life into the matches during a period when they were struggling to survive. It also helped make the Ryder Cup what it is today--the biggest event in golf and a biennial sports event that attracts worldwide attention.

Neil Sagebiel is the author of DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World. It includes a foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. Sagebiel is also the founder and editor of Armchair Golf Blog.

Monday, September 19

Francesco Molinari Claims Historic Victory at Italian Open


By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.


FRANCESCO MOLINARI HELD HIS NERVE in a titanic final day duel with Danny Willett to claim a historic victory at the Italian Open. He recorded a closing 65 to get to 22 under and beat Willett by one shot, so becoming the first Italian to win his national Open twice since the event became part of the European Tour in 1972.

The 2006 champion also became the first Italian to win any European Tour event twice, as he claimed his fourth win and his first since the 2012 Open de EspaƱa.

Followed by an enormous gallery, he turned in 31 and held a four-shot lead with six holes to play; but Masters Tournament winner Willett is nothing if not resilient, following up a birdie on the 13th hole with an eagle on the next to cut the gap to one shot.

There were nervy moments from both players in the closing stretch, and Molinari was forced to produce a miraculous recovery shot from the trees after pushing his drive right from the 18th tee. 

When Willett holed for par from 12 feet on the 18th green to sign for a round of 66, Molinari needed to follow him in from three feet and duly did so to become the second home player to win his national Open in as many weeks, following Joost Luiten's victory at the KLM Open.

Spaniard Nacho Elvira and England's Chris Paisley both secured their European Tour cards after finishing in a tie for third place on 18 under par, courtesy of respective rounds of 65 and 68.

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

Friday, September 16

Happy 90th Birthday, GCSAA!

A GOLF TRADE ORGANIZATION MIGHT NOT strike you as very exciting. But if you play golf on real golf courses, then these guys deserve our loud thanks, praise and birthday wishes.

The old days. (GCSAA)
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) turned 90 years old. Here's a little perspective from the GCSAA's First Cut newsletter and blog:
GCSAA, which was formed in 1926 by Englishman John Morley to further greenkeeping ideas among middle America golf courses, is celebrating 90 years as one of the most important organizations in the game. 
Morley, who was a vegetable grower and greenkeeper at Youngstown (Ohio) Country Club, would hardly recognize the organization he formed. First known as the National Association of Greenkeepers of America, the group started with 60 greenkeepers coming together on Sept. 13, 1926, at Sylvania Country Club in Toledo, Ohio, to share ideas. 
Today, GCSAA has 17,500 members from 72 countries, and its members are science-based college graduates who manage all aspects of golf course management, from agronomics to environmental sciences.
Next time you're on the golf course take a moment to thank the grounds crew, who are some of the unsung heroes of this great game.

Thursday, September 15

2016 Evian Championship TV Schedule and Broadcast Notes



By Golf Channel Communications

The LPGA Tour this week stages the final major championship of 2016, where World No. 1 Lydia Ko is set to defend at the Evian Championship. 

The Evian Championship
Dates: Sept. 15-18
Venue: Evian Resort Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5-8 a.m. / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              5-8 a.m. / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          6:30-11:30 a.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            8 a.m.-Noon (Tape delay) / 5:30-11:30 a.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
                                                                             
Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):                                                              
Sunday           12:30-2 p.m. (Tape delay) / Streaming on Golf Live Extra and the NBC Sports App

Broadcast Notes

Ko defends: World No. 1 Lydia Ko finished six strokes clear of the field to earn her first major championship.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim, In Gee Chun, Stacy Lewis, Amy Yang, Anna Nordqvist, So Yeon Ryu and Gerina Piller.
                                                                                                          
Golf Channel / NBC Broadcast Team:
Studio Host: Mike Ritz
Play by Play: Terry Gannon / Tom Abbott
Analyst: Judy Rankin / Karen Stupples
Tower: Richard Kaufman
On-Course: Jerry Foltz / Sandy Mackenzie