Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas to all...and to all, a good night!!!

This is the first opportunity that I've had to post all weekend...we started a home improvement project bright and early Saturday morning...7AM and the work commenced...

We ripped out the blue/grey hi/lo carpeting that we installed about five years ago that NEVER looked quite right, and put in Armstrong/Exotics/Tiger Maple laminate hardwood floors from

The living room is about 90% completed, but I just decorated our Charlie Brown Christmas tree at about 10PM on Christmas Eve...we only bought it two nights ago from the Conejo Valley YMCA Christmas tree lot on the corner of Agoura Road and Kanan Road, and it's been in the kitchenette ever since....

The flooring is BEAUTIFUL, and makes the house look SO much larger, cleaner and more attractive...

One of the cool parts about living in Southern California is that it was 80 degrees today...we worked on the flooring with Wayne, our handyman from 7AM til noon, and then ran out to finish up some Christmas shopping...the malls were WAY less busy than we expected, but the day was was SO warm and pleasant - I LOVE living in Southern California, even though it doesn't feel like the "traditional" Christmas, but it's SO awesome being able to finish your Christmas shopping in t-shirts and shorts!!!

Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Day 3 and 4 - Target World Challenge

OK, without further ado, I've procrastinated enough, and it's time to let the story be told - Saturday was a WILD day at the Target World Challenge, and it wasn't just the WEATHER that was wild...

First of all, the weather forecast was for rain to move in after 3PM, so all of the volunteers figured that we had it made...we'd get our day in by 2PM-ish, and be outta there and safely home to watch the day's action on TiVo by the time the liquid sunshine started falling.....WRONGGGGG!!!

We were chomping on our doughnuts (The KrispyKreme's were SORELY missed this year, by the way...the master developer for Southern California and KrispyKreme Korporate are both having difficulties, and many of the KrispyKreme outlets are now vacant...and therefore, we had "traditional" doughnuts this year...hmphhhh....) at about 9AM when the first exploratory raindrops began to dance on the roof of the big white volunteer tent...

By 9:15, they weren't just dancing, they were doing the CHARLESTON, and the bulky, yellow 'Target' ponchos were being distributed...

Fortunately, I had gotten to Sherwood Country Club EARLY that day (to beat the weekend traffic), and had time enough to catch the shuttle DOWN to the parking lot, grab my large MicroStrategy umbrella, and make it back to the volunteer base of operations by splashdown time...

By the time we got out to #6, the rain was coming down quite steadily, the wind was picking up, and it was turning into a raw, cold morning...

All the players were significantly shorter off the tee on Saturday morning, and Colin Montgomerie was the one player who corkscrewed his drive left into the base of the hill that I was working past the crossover...

Now it's important to mention that I and my partner on the left fairway had agreed that we were going to run a tight ship on the spectators that use the cart path above the sixth fairway, while they make their way down to the large viewing area at the green...ESPECIALLY for Colin Montgomerie, who prefers the quiet of a library when taking his shot...even though birds chirp, dogs bark, people shuffle and the wind blows outside on a golf course...nevertheless, we were bound and determined to provide him with the peace and tranquility of a diamond-cutter's studio to the best of our least that was our INTENT...

People don't realize that the noise from their footsteps and casual conversations TOTALLY funnel down the hills into the fairways, and the players can hear it me, I've been down on the course with the players as a standard bearer and walking scorer, and YOU HEAR IT down there!!!

So here we are...the wind is blowing hard...people want to get out of the open areas and under the trees where there's a bit more shelter, and people want to leapfrog the pairings ahead of Tiger so they can see Tiger play through...and Colin's group was ahead of Tiger's on Saturday, and so were Tiger's fans...and Colin's ball was BURIED in the deep-shtuff at the bottom of the hill alongside the left side of fairway #6...

You could barely see the top of the ball, and the grass was long, wild and WET from the I watched the ball settle comfortably into its little grass nest at the bottom of the hill, I scampered down the wet hillside, umbrella in hand - pointed into the wind, which was howling up the fairway from the tee to the green.

When I got to the ball, I looked for Roy, my partner to coordinate our crowd control efforts. He had stayed up by the cart path to direct traffic, while I scampered down to the ball to point it out to Mr. Montgomerie. When I got down there, I looked up the fairway to check his line into the green...not a prayer, as he hadn't hit it far enough to clear a crown in the fairway, and his line to the pin was blocked by an overhanging oak tree that guards the left side of the green...I assessed the situation, and determined that he had to take his medicine, and lay up to within 100 yards on the right side of the fairway and improve his shot into the pin to take a par and move make matters WORSE, the ball was a good 4-6 inches below where his feet would be on the hillside, making a blocked shot to the right quite possible, given that lie....

"Monty" purposefully strode up to where I was standing, that ever-present pained expression on his face. I had been tempted to offer a pleasant comment about the weather being a taste of "home" (Scotland), but when I saw his dour expression, I simply pointed out the position of ball in the salad, and started to scamper back up the hill, to my position near the crossover.

To my HORROR, "Monty" evidently made a quick assessment of the situation, and possibly out of frustration with the outcome of his drive, waited for his caddy to appear with the bag, extracted his weapon of choice, and with one swift, smooth, fluid move went RIGHT INTO HIS STANCE and TOOK HIS SWING!!! (He DOES have a BEAUTIFUL swing, by the way...)

No practice swing to gauge the depth of the shtuff, no deliberations with his caddy, NOTHING - just STRAIGHT INTO HIS SWING!!!!

Roy's view of the goings-on was blocked by his umbrella and the natural vegetation on the hillside between the cart path and the ball's location at the base of the hillside. Worse, a large group of spectators was moving towards him, many talking loudly about the weather and all moving quickly to get to the next stand of trees that would provide them with protection from the rain and wind, which was growing in intensity by the moment.

At the VERY instant of the beginning of "Monty's" hatily executed downswing, the crowd surged forward on the cart path and Roy LOUDLY called out "Stand, please!", in an effort to create a quiet environment for "Monty" to work his magic...the ball squirted out of the salad, to the right, but probably to within 125 yards into the flagstick...altogether NOT a bad shot, given the lousy weather conditions, and that the ball was just a fleck of white surrounded by a tangle of long, swirly grass stalks that OBVIOUSLY hadn't been mowed in a week and a half...maybe more...

"Monty" was VISIBLY upset at the sound that had been uttered right at the start of his downswing, and he WHEELED to stare at the SCOUNDREL who had DARED utter that SOUND during his swing...

Realizing that he had just inadvertently done EXACTLY the opposite of what we had agreed to do for Mr. Montgomerie, Roy started down the hill, visibly shaken, stuttering an apology for his inadvertent transgression. At THAT exact moment, a large gust of wind WRENCHED Roy's umbrella from his grasp, and it cartwheeled crazily down the hillside, headed RIGHT for Mr. Montgomerie, who continued to stand at the bottom of the hill, GLARING up the hill, his gaze BURNING holes into Roy with laser-like intensity...incinerating his victim with his visual death-rays (death-Roys???). FORTUNATELY, the golf tiki prevented the wayward umbrella from careening down the hill INTO Mr. Montgomerie, but it stopped close enough to him that it fueled his fire for ANOTHER five to ten seconds, which felt like minutes for me AND Roy...

"Monty" finally exacted his punishment on his victim, and stalked off, muttering under his breath, and angrily swinging his club at the damp earth, while he walked to his ball, now resting safely on the right side of the fairway, about 125-135 yards out from the pin...

I don't know for sure, because I had to talk Roy out of committing Hara-kiri right there on the hillside, but he was distraught for the remainder of the day...heck, he was still self-flaggelating on SUNDAY morning...but I THINK that, to his credit, "Monty" salvaged par on the hole.

I told him that if this had been baseball, "Monty" would have committed a "quick-pitch", and Roy's action was well-intentioned, and he had not committed an intentional action intended to interfere with "Monty's" shot...his view was impeded by the natural hillside vegetation, and the crowd surged upon him in an attempt to get out of the deteriorating weather conditions...and "Monty" had taken his shot MUCH more quickly than one would expect, especially given his lousy lie...

Needless to say, "Monty" reported Roy through whatever channels exist to report such matters, and the volunteer chairman approached me when we were working #15 in the afternoon to get my report on what transpired. After hearing my explanation, the complaint was basically dismissed as one of "Monty's"'s kind of sad, but "Monty's" proclivity to complain about EVERY little noise, motion or perceived slight on the course works against him, and REAL complaints get lost in all the noise from the perceived slights....

That was it for the on-course fireworks for us for the weekend...everything else was pretty routine. I got on television from a distance on #15 on Saturday, and I'm the bright white spot on the back hillside because I was wearing a long-sleeved white turtleneck under my black volunteer polo shirt...

The other big news was that I shared the Heinz ketchup bottle with Wayne Gretzky at the snack stand outside #15 on Sunday afternoon. I put the bottle down, and Wayne reached out to intercept it from me as I was putting it down...he was wearing a free Grey Goose Vodka baseball hat and I immediately recognized him from seeing him around town....

One of the volunteers that I've worked with for the last five years or so used to work at the same CPA firm that I started my career with, and he's now a VP with Countrywide Financial Corporation. Dave and I requested the early January volunteer "play date", and we're playing with Jan from 21st Century Insurance.

I'll take pictures next week during our round, and post our day's experience at that goal THIS year is to play the round with the same SLEEVE of balls that I start with, and hopefully to break 100... Sherwood is a beautiful, UNFORGIVING course with smallish, potato-chip greens that have roller-coaster breaks that make it difficult to score well REALLY makes you appreciate the pros ability when they end up SO far below par, and they play from the TIPS, while we mere mortals play from the WHITE tees...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Day 2 - 2006 Target World Challenge

It was only 74 degrees with high clouds out on the course Friday at the Target World Challenge.

Hey, you know what? Tiger Woods is a REALLY good golfer!!! And you know what else??? Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a GOLF TOURNAMENT on our hands here...almost half the 16 player field is within four strokes of guess who...

So is Padraig Harrington - today was Padraig's day as he was 5 under for the round, and Chris DiMarco and Tiger were 4 under for the day...

It was about 54 degrees when I got to the course at about 8:30 AM, and the amount of traffic was significantly higher than yesterday, which was surprising for a Friday. Many of the volunteers said that today FELT like a Saturday, but that was probably because there was so much movement on the board. What started as the Henrik Stenson show is now much more interesting, as Tiger currently holds the lead, and almost half the field of 16 is within striking distance of #1...

TODAY'S totally cool thing that happened to me was a couple of Tiger's inner circle sightings...

I was working the sixth hole crossover, which is a major shortcut from the major traffic pattern alongside #6. We allow the spectators to cut over the fairway on six to get to the middle of the fairway on seven, which is a HUGE timesaver, and allows them to see the approach into #6, the drive landing area on #7 and the approach into the green on 7, too.

Well, Tiger's pairing ALWAYS has a huge crowd, and it grows day by day...on Sunday it's literally about ten people deep...

I had put the rope back up and Tiger had put a three wood out about 310 yards, and Henrik Stenson had driven his about 300 yards. The two golfers passed below us, and I turned to make a comment to whoever was to my left on the other side of the ropes, and as I turned to see who was there, I first noticed a broad-brimmed visor.....

Then I looked more closely to see who was wearing the visor, because it looked familiar...

It was Tiger's MOM, Kultida Woods!!! I was in the midst of golf ROYALTY...

I hope I didn't actually make the recoiling sensation that I FELT, but I immediately forgot whatever stupid comment I was GOING to make, and instead greeted her warmly with something like "Mrs. Woods!!! How nice to see you!!! How are you today?"

Realizing that THIS probably was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, I reached for my black Sharpie pen that I keep clipped to my button placket and asked, "Mrs. Woods, would you please autograph the back of my volunteer badge?"

Her response was precious - she replied "I'll go one BETTER - I'll give you one of these - I'll give you a Tiger Woods PIN!" and she proceeded to reach into her handbag and procure a small, gold lapel pin. It has an image of a Tiger's eye and stripes on the left side, and the interlocked "TW" logo like on the Nike golf apparel on the right side in a tiny little Ziploc bag.

I thanked her profusely, and by that time the guys had hit their approach shots into #6, and it was OK to take down the ropes and open up the crossover to #7. Mrs. Woods and her entourage made their way down the slope and across the fairway and up the hill on the other side to #7 along with about 150 other was probably 30 seconds, but it was a MEMORABLE 30 seconds...

THANK YOU again, Mrs. Woods! The pin is a keeper!!!

After we finish up crowd management on six, we cross over to the street behind the #7 green, and grab a Chevy Yukon SUV for a ride over to #15, which is probably close to a mile we had to wait for the rest of the crew, so our shuttle driver (Andrew) and I went through the concession line and grabbed a hotdog and a Diet Coke for the ride over...since I'm one of the more LIMBER team members, I usually grab the spot in the very back of the Yukon...and while I'm back there applying my relish to the hotdog, who ELSE should happen by???

The OTHER woman in Tiger's life, ELIN!!! HOLY SMOKES - in the span of five minutes, I talked to Tiger's Mom, and had Tiger's WIFE walk right past where I was having my lunch!!! How cool is THAT???

I saw the younger Mrs. Woods AGAIN, with her entourage as they bypassed #15 to go on ahead to #16 - that's twice in one day...I've worked this event for at least the last seven years, and this is the first day that I've actually seen Elin in person....Tiger IS a lucky man...

Since I worked the green yesterday, today I was assigned to work the player chute, which is a special roped off area that leads to the teebox on wasn't as much fun as yesterday, because I only got to see a couple of shots land, and no putts, so I didn't get as involved who did what at the hole...

The weather's supposed to deteriorate Saturday afternoon, so I'm going to try to get assigned down to the green for the weekend, because the wind's supposed to be running 15-25 mph on Saturday afternoon, and it swirls alongside the canyon walls that delineate the hole, frequently altering the flight of the ball and making for some interesting shot outcomes...

The GOOD news is that says that the rain is supposed to hold off until 3PM, and we've been wrapping up our days about 2-2:15PM, so we might avoid getting damp tomorrow...I hope so...I've done it before, and it's not much fun to get soaked out on the course...

We get our "play dates" signups tomorrow...the volunteers get to PLAY a free round at Sherwood in January, and we get to request our dates tomorrow...I'm probably going to request the first available date, because the second date is late in the month, and I don't want to be rained out...I'm gonna play the odds and hope that the nice weather that we usually get right around New Years will go on for about ten's a gamble either way, but remembering all the rainy days at the Nissan Open in late Jan/early Feb, I'm thinking that early Jan. is the way to go...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Day 1 - 2006 Target World Challenge

Greetings from sunny Southern California, where the temperature out on the golf course at Sherwood Country Club was 82 degrees today (did you see the perspiration marks on the players shirts on the USA feed?). 82 degrees in this a great place to live or WHAT??? (Oh sure, it's way too expensive to live here, and there's way too many people, and way too much traffic, but on a sun-kissed day with a touch of a breeze, spectacular foliage and some awesome golf being played, all that other stuff melts away...)

Today's assignment was marshaling holes #6 and #15 (the signature waterfall hole that they use the boom camera on during the 'bumper shots' into commercial breaks), and out on the course, it was pretty quiet all things considered...

Adam Scott won the long-drive championship on hole #6 with a blast that we estimated at 325 yards or so, and John Daly was second at ~315 yards...

The "Hey, I can do THAT" award went to Jose Maria Olazabal who topped one off the tee into the salad about 150 yards out on the left....

The subsequent "Hey, I CAN'T do THAT" award ALSO went to Jose Maria Olazabal who managed to dig his drive OUT of the salad with an approach shot that flew about 200 yards, setting him up for a 125ish yard approach shot into the green that he converted for par...amazing stuff...

That's the difference between the pros and us mere mortals...THEY make mistakes
and then follow them up with brilliant recovery shots that salvage par or better...WE make mistakes, have an emotional breakdown, or a physical chokage and end up with a snowman or worse...

Oh, I forgot to mention, before I headed out to work with Tracy and the guys on #6, I headed out to the oak tree grove at the dogleg bend left on hole #1 to check out a few EACH of the first three pairings, one of the guys dorked their drive...Davis Love III unfortunately found an oak tree squarely with his second shot, but proceeded to follow up with a dug-out approach shot that was about six feet from the pin...missed the putt for an opening bogey, but still...nice recovery, Davis!

Later on, David Toms pushed HIS drive into the oak grove, and had SERIOUS tree problems, but HE punched out and rolled it out onto the fringe for a par...HOWEVER, yours truly was on the SPECTATOR side of the ropes, and took the initiative to remove the rebar that the ropes are attached to, and lower the rope so David had a clear shot into the green...

After David worked his magic, I was replacing the rebar into its upright position (by jumping up and down on the "t"), and my left hand slipped off the rebar "t". There was a burr on the top of the rebar...holy smokes, I friggin' OPENED up my palm, RIGHT along my was one of those gashy wounds that freak you out because it HURTS when the air hits it, but there's not much blood flow there, so you can see the flesh opened up, but it's not bleeding...creepazoid-city!

I actually had to FORCE it to bleed, so I could get it clotted up and glued back together...I stopped by those Porta-Sinks to wash my hand (PRAYING that they didn't fill it with recycled water
), which was a religious experience when the water and soap hit my new self-mutilation...i finally got it calmed down, but I've now got a mini-stigmata in my left palm to show for my dedication to being Rent-A-Marshal on the spot...

Hole #15 was even QUIETER, as all the guys hit the green (yawn) with their drives...#15 is actually #6 (they reverse the hole order for this tournament) and it's the "signature hole" at Sherwood Country Club. It's a very scenic par-3 186 yard launching pad from an elevated tee, over a canyon with a lake and waterfalls and rocks and stuff in front of the green, with a big amphitheater behind the hole...

On a calm day, it's actually a pretty easy for the guys to hit the green, and today was one of those days...I was watching the USA feed when I got home this afternoon, and they said the guys were hitting 7 and 8 irons...OK, so you take 10 yards off for the elevated tees, and these guys are hitting 7 IRONS??? Geez - I'd be hitting an easy 7 WOOD 175 yards....

The National Weather Service says the wind is supposed to kick up to 15-20 mph tomorrow as a cold front begins to push southward from Oregon, so it'll probably be a BIT more exciting tomorrow, because the wind SWIRLS inside the amphitheater and makes that benign 186 yards turn into a snarling, angry cauldron of potential frustration where balls plop harmlessly into the lake guarding the green, or fly long and hit the big boulders that line the amphitheater and careen crazily all over the putting area...

They've lined the front edge of the putting service with a yellow line, so we're not going to be able to relive the magic of a few years ago when Davis Love's drive ended up on a small grassy ledge on the front of the rockpile that reinforces the green from the lake...Davis took a mighty swing with his lob wedge cranked FULLY open, and SOMEHOW managed to hit the ball basically VERTICALLY with enough forward momentum to land on the putting surface...sure, he bogeyed the hole, but if it were ME, we'd be posting Mr. Snowman, or Ms. Lollipop, or WORSE!!!

Now, onto the FUN part of the day, the time AFTER the round...I headed back to the putting green and driving range area to see who was out there, and attempt to deliver the "artans" and grips that I designed for the guys...

Davis Love was out on the driving range, languidly hitting low irons...joined by David Toms and Jose Maria Olazabal...Davis was looking quite serious and unapproachable today, so I headed over to the putting green to see who was there...

JACKPOT - Michael Campbell was out on the practice green, just DRAINING putts one after I joined the line of seven year old kids waiting for an autograph on their hats, flags, programs and anything else their parents could jam into their hands to resell on eBay when the kids forget about the autograph...

Let's put it this way - my volunteer hat's brim is now RESPLENDENT with a silver-ink Sharpie autograph, and one professional golfer from New Zealand now has two REALLY beautiful golf grips, one with the New Zealand National tartan, and the other one that has "The Pride of New Zealand" tartan, shown at right. I customized the text for Michael's nickname, and incorporated his logo into the 'artan' design...I HOPE it was appeared to be...

Even MORE interesting was a chance meeting with a prominent Hollywood personality (of Scottish heritage), who was spotted walking alone... we approached said celebrity, introduced ourselves and proffered a business card, and enjoyed a very brief, but very enthusiastic response to our products and designs.

THAT was fun...

More tomorrow - the Weather Service is continually refining their weekend forecast, and the rain seems to be getting pushed into a Saturday night/Sunday early morning event, so we might be able to dodge the dreaded winter rainstorm scenario...keep your fingers crossed....

Monday, December 04, 2006

LPGA '07

Congratulations to Pepperdine alum and LPGA '07 player Katherine Hull, and also to 2007 LPGA Tour player, Erica Blasberg.

Both players finished in the top fifteen at the recent LPGA Qualifying School in Florida, where Katherine tied for seventh, and Erica tied for fifteenth.

I had the good fortune to be a walking scorer for both players at the recent Longs Drugs Challenge in Danville, CA, and it will great to have both of them back on the 2007 LPGA Tour with exempt status.

Congratulations to both of you, and best wishes for the 2007 LPGA Tour campaign - I hope to see you again at Blackhawk Country Club, and in the winner's circle before that!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tiger's Tournament Field - Welcome "Cambo"!

Here is the field for the upcoming Target World Challenge, presented by Countrywide (and some of the "Artans" that I've designed for this capstone of the 2006 PGA Tour season):

  • Paul Casey
  • Michael Campbell * (Replacing Darren Clarke, who withdrew)
  • Fred Couples
  • John Daly
  • Chris DiMarco *
  • Luke Donald
  • Padraig Harrington *
  • David Howell
  • Davis Love III *
  • Colin Montgomerie
  • Geoff Ogilvy
  • Jose Maria Olazabal
  • Adam Scott
  • Henrik Stenson
  • David Toms
  • Tiger Woods

*Players that I'm developing "Artans" for....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tiger Time underway...

This is the first of probably several postings about the upcoming Target World Challenge, to be held December 14-17, 2006 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California.

This will be the sixth year that I've volunteered at the event, and last year I split my time between marshaling holes #6 and #15 (the signature/waterfall par 3 hole), and being a standard bearer ("Sign Boy") on Fri-Sun. This year appears to be shaping up similarly to last year. (They tend to run short on marshals on Weds and Thurs...)

Today's big news is that "Cambo" aka Michael Campbell will be added to the field, replacing Darren Clarke, who has withdrawn. While I was really looking forward to Darren's participation, he's had a tough year, and I hope he's back next year!

It will be nice to have Michael back, as he had a couple of really exciting days a couple of years back, and I was extremely impressed with how pleasant he is on the golf course, and how cool he was with the volunteers!

Welcome back, Michael!!! (Make sure you bring your broken-in shoes this time, so you don't have to hassle those nasty blisters that you encountered last time...)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving remembrances....

My Dad served in the 28th Infantry Division in World War II. He was drafted out of high school in 1943, and served with distinction until January 1946. During the summer of 1943, he had gone through basic training, and had been identified as one of the "Quiz Kids" who showed above average intelligence and aptitude, and had been identified as potential officer material, even though he hadn't been to college yet. He had been diverted to a special program for officer development training, but was reunited with his division at the rank of Private First Class when reserves were called up during the Battle of The Huertgen Forest during mid-October 1944, and Dad was part of the Ardennes offensive during November 1944 that culminated in The Battle of The Bulge.

Dad's division was known officially as "The Keystone Division" and by the Germans as "The Bloody Bucket" division, due to their vicious fighting tactics during the Normandy Campaign and their distinctive red shoulder patches. Dad's division was the first to set foot on German soil on September 11, 1944. The division was deactivated on December 13, 1945, and Dad was mustered out in early 1946.

Dad relayed some stories about how difficult it was to be away from home over Thanksgiving and Christmas of 1943 and 1944, and how nice it was to get something from home, just to be reminded that someone was thinking of him, the way he was thinking of them...

In that spirit, this Thanksgiving, in Dad's honor and memory (he passed away rather unexpectedly in August 2003), we're making a contribution to Treats For Troops. Treats for Troops was founded in early 2003 by Denver businesswoman Deborah Crane, who was determined to make it safe and simple for every American to send packages and messages of support to our men and women in uniform year round. Since the Treats for Troops Gift Shops opened in June of 2003, friends, family members, groups, organizations and individual sponsors have sent over twen
ty tons of treats to American soldiers through Treats for Troops.

Regardless of your political views on our American troop deployments, we need to let the soldiers know that we remember them, and appreciate their sacrifices and commitment. In Dad's honor, we sent a $50 "Gift for Him" package to "Charles", deployed from the PA National Guard on behalf of the War on Terror to let him know that he's remebered this holi
day season. We hope that you'll be so motivated, and let our American soliders (both men AND women) know that we appreciate them, and remember them this holiday season.

Treats for Troops puts together packages of materials for men and women soliders, and usually includes a phone card to make phone calls home, and they also have really practical stuff like halogen keychain flashlights, cooling stuff, Gatorade powder, and other great holiday treats and munchies stuffed into little Christmas stockings and stuff...they are AWESOME little care packages from the home front, and I can just imagine how good receiving one of these packages would make ME feel if I was far away from home during the Holidays.....

Here's some 28th Infantry Division History: The 28th Infantry Division is the oldest division in the armed forces of the United States. The Office of the Chief of Military History certified that General Order No. 1, dated March 12, 1879, officially established the Division.

Elements of the Division can trace their histories back to 1747, when Benjamin Franklin organized his battalion of "Associators" in Philadelphia. Other Pennsylvania units of the 28th Infantry Division had their beginnings in the Revolutionary War. Troop A, 1st Squadron, 104th Cavalry, was organized on Nov. 17 ,1774. The 109th Artillery Regiment was formed Oct. 17, 1775 as the 24th Connecticut Militia. Both units served with distinction in General George Washington's Continental Army during the war.

My dilemma...well, one of them....

Congratulations to Julieta Granada on her first LPGA championship....oh yeah, she won a cool million dollar payout for it, too...

I was fortunate to draw Julieta along with Kris Tschetter for my Sunday pairing as a volunteer walking scorer at the Longs Drugs Challenge last September.

I knew then that this young lady, with the megawatt smile, and length off the tee that belies her petite stature would one day light up the course with her solid technique and consistent play.

Little did I know that a scant two months later, she'd be lighting up the course at Trump
National to take home the first ever million dollar purse on the LPGA Tour.

One of the perks of being an on-course volunteer is that the players frequently autograph a golf ball for you after the round, and Julieta autographed a Titleist ProV1 for me....

It's an insight into the happy go lucky, warm, funny personality of this young LPGA star - this one ball features:
  • A solid blue line above, and a solid red line below the ProV1 - 392 marking, representing the colors of the flag of Paraguay.
  • A solid black line emanating from the Titleist logo at a 45 degree angle, that turns into a series of dots that extend halfway around the ball, probably as a putting alignment aid. The unusual angle in perspective to the ball's graphics tend to indicate that the line was determined with the aid of a Check-Go or similar machine.
  • The word "Julie" written on the obverse of the brand/alignment aid.
  • Two eyes and a smiley face made out of the number "4", using the 4 as the nose.
  • An autograph in pastel purple ink.
Here's my I keep this ball as a souvenir, or do I test the waters on eBay to see what the market thinks the ball is worth???

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wandering Golfer goes Wild...

For those of you who want that "Field of Dreams" experience on the golf course - you're in luck...

Well, you're in luck if your cable package includes the Fine
Living channel, and the "Wandering Golfer" series.

Tune in (or program those TiVo's) on Monday, December 4, 2006 at 6:00 PM (Pacific) when the "Wandering Golfer" takes you to pastoral Gothenburg, Nebraska and the beautiful and FUN TO PLAY Wild Horse Golf Club. That's right - you can have your own "Field of Dreams" experience on the golf course, and you don't EVEN have to leave the comfort of your couch!

I got to play nine holes at Wild Horse Golf Club
over the Fourth of July weekend this past summer, and I'm kicking myself that I didn't stick around to play the back nine, because I had more FUN on this beautiful golf course that has been hewn out of the Nebraska cornfields than I have had on many others that cost much more to play! Wild Horse is literally surrounded by cornfields on three sides, and you have to take a nondescript road out of Gothenburg (population 3,619 (2000 census)) about three miles to an even MORE nondesript DIRT road that leads you to Wild Horse. On more than one occasion, A.P. (my father-in-law) and I thought we were on the wrong road and almost turned back to get our bearings, but we followed the instructions that we'd been given, and eventually we got there...

You can tell when more people are coming to the course to play by the plume of dust that their car/truck kicks up on the dirt road!

Once you've parked your car in the parking lot, however, you're in for a TREAT!!! Wild Horse is one of the new breed of "minimalist" courses, where the golf course architects (Dave Axland and Dan Proctor) worked with the existing topography to release the course from the original layout of the land, and did a phenomenal job!

Wild Horse is ranked #21 in the United States according to the Golfweek rankings of courses built since 1960. Check out the hole by hole online course tour before you visit this "Field of Dreams" on the "Wandering Golfer" December 4 edition.

For those of you who care about such matters, Gothenburg was FORMERLY known as the hometown of former Dallas Cowboy Pro-Bowl tight end Jay Novacek, who's got this latest business venture going. And I thought that Nebraska was just flat and boring - the country in central and western Nebraska is GORGEOUS! Check it out!

In space, everyone can hear you slice...

OK, it's a bad play on an old cliche, but it turns out that no gravity has no bearing on the human tendency to slice a golf ball...

Well, THAT'S a relief!!!

Turns out Russian cosmonaut (How come THEY'RE cosmonauts, and WE'RE astronauts? Can't we all just get along???) Mikhail Tyurin sliced his space-shot to the right, just like hundreds of millions of us earthbound golfers do
. has the details...

If you check out the details, it turns out that Mikhail was getting a bit steamed (LITERALLY!) throughout his golf-in-space experience, caused by a balky space station hatch door and a spacesuit that was overheating. Turns out he was 77 minutes late for his tee-time, which will get MOST people steamed...same thing happens to me - I get ticked off, start swinging too hard, and I'm off in the weeds to the right...

Maybe this game IS 90% mental...

Friday, November 17, 2006

LPGA quarterfinals comments

WOW - a LOT of surprises at today's LPGA ADT Championship!

Congratulations to Lorena Ochoa's comeback performance today, shooting 70 to claw her way back into the final 16 for the Saturday semi-finals.

Only eight shots separate the first and 16th players, and on this course, the positions could change drastically....

The eighth place players finished at 142, and the 16th place players are only three back at 145, so tomorrow's round will likely feature some shake-ups in placement to the final eight on Sunday.

Several players have experienced 3-5 stroke swings in their scores from day to day, so it'll be interesting to see how the weekend plays out....

Saturday's round calls for morning showers and 76, and Sunday's weather is supposed to be sunny and clear and 76, so it looks like a good weekend for golf.

Here's how they finished:

Ai Miyazato

Julieta Granada

Natalie Gulbis

Karrie Webb

Wendy Ward

Il Mi Chung

Paula Creamer

Se Ri Pak

Diana D'Alessio

Jeong Jang

Mi Hyun Kim

Hee-Won Han

Cristie Kerr

Juli Inkster

Lorena Ochoa

Morgan Pressel

Why I like living in Southern California

Temperature at 12:45 PM today at the Westlake Village Driving Range: 78 degrees with a slight breeze out of the NW at 5-10 mph. skies....leaves are turning beautiful colors - the range was about half full for the Friday lunch crowd - probably 95% guys (I only saw one woman on the range, actually, so the percentage is probably even higher for the guys...)

A colleague sprung the question on me this morning: "Wanna hit the range at lunch?" (And to think I was looking out the window all morning, thinking "Man, what a beautiful day - wish I was out playing GOLF")

Now I haven't hit a ball in almost two weeks- I've been spending my weekends either at the golf show, getting READY for the golf shows, or working on the website and shopping cart redesign...last time I touched a club was 11/6 for the Driving4Life charity tournament at Riviera Country Club.

We split a large bucket, and while I was a little wild...I was hitting the ball cleanly, getting it airborne without any difficulty, but experiencing a bit more fade than I was happy with....

I adjusted my shoulders closed a bit, and also strengthened my grip a touch, and that seemed to help a bit...the BIGGEST help seemed to come from a tip that was relayed by Tom Watson at the Driving4Life event...I "flattened" my spine, and whenever I did that, I hit the ball LASER straight, without any indication of any fade whatsover...

Flattening my spine made me feel like I was sticking my tail feathers out, but if I de-rolled my spine angle and held it through the swing - I was getting probably 20-30 more yards per shot, and they were in a tighter dispersion pattern, too! (Thanks, Tom!)

We always finish our practice session with a "chip-off", and I went two for three to the green on the orange flag at about 75 yards, and won today's event. (No prize, just bragging rights for the day...)

I'm scheduled to play Sunset Hills on Sunday at 1PM, and tomorrow's the Orange County Celtic Festival so it's going to be a hectic weekend.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

MY life in golf...

I just realized that I've published "What's in the bag", but I've never published why I got into golf, so here goes...

I first got into golf when "I Shot The Sheriff" (by Eric Clapton, not Warren G or 386DX) was topping the charts (a year that had some AMAZING songs, by the way), and Mom had to give me a ride to the
Los Angeles Unified School District summer school program lessons at Taft High School in eastern Woodland Hills. I remember hitting whiffle balls for hours on end with my best friend, John Forrest. John's dad Jack was a hard-core golfer; always had his clubs in the trunk of his car - house was LITTERED with Golf Digest magazines - you know the type...I remember being curious about WHY Jack was SO into his golf game....he was a HUGE Jack Nicklaus fan...I was more into Arnold Palmer - I respected his elegance, class and way he played the game - I am STILL an Arnold fan to this day...

The reason I remember the year is because I distinctly remember going to practice with my Mom and Dad one hot summer night at the driving range that used to be on Topanga Canyon Blvd, just south of Victory Blvd.. (Behind the miniature golf course/arcade where we used to have our birthday parties. They used to have one of those three or four story fiberglass slides featuring three or four whoop-de-doos - you know, the ones that you'd slide down on burlap bags...)

I distinctly remember schlubbing Dad's old set of Spalding clubs through the arcade area to get to the driving range out back that hot summer evening, and Clapton's "I Shot The Sheriff", Paper Lace's "The NIght Chicago Died" and Hues Corporation's "Rock the Boat" were all blaring over the PA system while we were hitting balls... (I'm having one of those "Field of Dreams" moments here - remember when James Earl Jones' character described "the memories so thick you could cut them with a knife"???

My Dad and I never played golf at the golf course, because golf just wasn't Dad's sport, but we spent a bunch of evenings smacking balls at the range, and then headed over to the drive-thru dairy that used to be where Green Jug Liquors now is on Platt Avenue to get a Drumstick ice-cream... 21st Century Insurance's second building is now built on the site of that former driving range...I'll bet they unearthed THOUSANDS of golf balls when they were digging the foundation for that 21st Building...

(Dad's sport was BOWLING by the way, and he taught me well...)

I gave up golf for basketball during the rest of Jr. High, and High School...gave up basketball for marching band when I and my friend Mitch got cut from the JV team two weeks into the fall semester of our 10th grade year...although getting cut from the basketball team (huge failure at the time) turned into one of the biggest blessings in my life as my experiences in marching band were probably the most continual FUN that I've EVER had in my life, and resulted in an opportunity to join and win the Drum Corps International Championships as a member of the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps out of Concord, California.
(Tonight's shameless name drop: I went to Jr. High and High School with Brad Garrett back when he was Brad Gerstenfeld, and he was funnier than heck, even back's nice to see a local boy done good...also got to play vibes with Mark Schulman in the HS jazz band - Mark's played drums with Foreigner, Richard Marx, Billy Idol, Cher and others - he's a great, funny guy whose story is inspiring in its own right...)

Total elapsed time in golf: Two years ('74-'75)
Player most admired at the time: Arnold Palmer

My golf game stayed dormant throughout my college years, and was resuscitated when I got my first job out of Cal State Northridge with a public accounting firm. We had significant audit activity going on down in the Palm Springs/Palm Desert area during January and February, which was quite convenient. Never made it out to the Bob Hope or the Dinah Shore because we were too busy PLAYING golf on the weekends.

Because we were sent down to the desert for weeks on end, many of the guys took their clubs and stayed down there to play golf over the weekends, rather than hassling the drive back into LA.

Realizing that I would have been laughed off the course had I brought along my Dad's '50's era Spaldings, I bought my first set of clubs, a set of MacGregor Golden Bear woods and Wilson K-28 irons from some discount catalog outfit in Northridge, CA, and a Ping knock-off putter from the Walter Keller Golf Shop in West Los Angeles (near where I was working in Century City).

After struggling with the old persimmon woods, I was smitten with the new Spalding Cannon woods that I read about in the golf magazines, and bought a set during my SECOND year of auditing down in the desert. I still have those clubs, and a friend was using them to get started playing golf...

Total elapsed time in golf: Two years ('83-'84).
Player most admired at the time: Greg Norman (I still admire his business acumen, sense of cool/style, and his wine is AWESOME...)

I got out of that firm for another, and gave up golf for skiing and water-skiing for about ten years.

Didn't touch my golf clubs until about '93 when I started dating my wife. She had played volleyball in college, and excelled at softball and tennis, and expressed an interest in trying her hand at golf, so we packed up my Cannons and K-28's and headed out to the driving range at Westlake Village Golf Course. We played her first round at Westlake, and then both of us got busy finalizing our education; she completed her Finance/IT degree at Cal State Northridge, and I completed my MBA at Pepperdine University.

We got married in '98, and a couple that she had worked with asked us out to play golf with them in 2000...

That was the start of the madness that we currently find both of us experiencing...the "golf bug" bit both of us really hard, but probably me harder, as all those memories from the years gone by came flooding back, and the happy, peaceful feeling that I always got (and get) out on the course became intoxicating...

We took lessons together through the Pierce College Extension Program, and became good friends with our instructor, "Coach Pete" Argiriou. "Coach Pete's" weekend classes at Pierce College in Woodland Hills are a GREAT, COST EFFECTIVE way to get introduced to the fundamentals of the golf swing.

When some flaws crept into my swing in 2004, I took my first "professional" lessons from Ted Lehmann at the Westlake Village Golf Course. Ted is AWESOME!!! Ted's instruction corrected the flaws in my setup, grip and alignment, and we developed the ol' "inside/out" swing plane that enabled me to FINALLY hit a nice draw, instead of the slow, leaky, power-robbing fade that I had been hitting on my own...Ted's instruction features video training, and he shows your swing side-by-side with PGA Professional's swings (usually Tiger's) that helps you work out the kinks's also kinda fun to watch your swing develop over time, because Ted kept files to help me in line, and on-plane.

We are truly blessed because we have approximately 25 golf courses within a 25 mile radius, and the variety of courses is amazing.

We got a membership at Sunset Hills Country Club in Thousand Oaks, CA in 2004, and have played courses from Kapalua in Maui, to Pebble Beach, to Sand Hills in Mullen, NE where my wife's cousin works. (It's an awesome course, by the way - another is Wild Horse Golf Club in Gothenburg, NE)

Total elapsed time in golf: Six years and counting...during which time my handicap has fallen from 24.5 to 18, reaching an all-time low of 17.4 during a time when I was "between jobs" and had LOTS of time to practice...low all-time score is 82 at Rustic Canyon Golf Course in Moorpark, CA.

PGA Player(s) most admired at the time: Padraig Harrington and Chris DiMarco with Jason Gore ascending and Michael Putnam waiting in the wings on the Nationwide Tour...Go Waves!
LPGA Players admired at the time: Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome (watch out for Brit - this girl's got game, and she is LOOOONG off the tee - super sweet, too - I was "Sign Boy" for her at Office Depot '05 at Trump National LA), Sherrie Steinhauer (met HER on the rental car shuttle bus this year at Sacramento, following the Longs Drugs Challenge - became a BIG fan after talking with her...), Katherine Hull (Go Waves!), Kris Tschetter (Grace and class on the golf course - plus she dresses impeccably)

Honorable mention: PGA:Fred Funk, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, David Toms, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, David Howell, Davis Love III, Fred Couples, John Daly (saw him SING with Hootie and The Blowfish in Memphis, TN - he's great!), Charles Howell III, Adam Scott, Mike Weir, Ben Curtis, Tom Lehman, Jesper Parnevik, Kenny Perry, John Cook, Jay Haas, Hank Kuehne
LPGA: Jenna Daniels, Julieta Granada, Morgan Pressel, Maggie Will

Total elapsed playing time in golf: 10 years...I'm really sorry that I didn't play during the ensuing years, and wish that golf had been "cooler" back in the day, rather than considered "an old man's sport plaid by beer-bellies in ugly polyester plaid pants". (Ahhh, the '70's and '80's - fashion's Dark Ages...)

The more I studied the history of golf, the more I LOVE's the one last sport that hasn't been completely ruined by inflated salaries and poor sportsmanship (although Tiger and Phil's withdrawals from The Players' Championship at the end of this year may cause me to re-think that hypothesis).

Because of golf:

  • I've gotten to talk to Ray Romano while waiting for our clubs to come off the plane at LAX,
  • I've met Jason Gore on the flight back from Phoenix to Burbank the weekend he won his "battlefield exemption" to the PGA Tour from the Nationwide Tour (Because I knew who he WAS),
  • I've gotten to play "Ocean Trails" about a month after the eighteenth green gave way into the Pacific Ocean.
  • I've volunteered for the last five years at the Target World Challenge as a marshal and standard bearer, and for the LPGA Tournaments at El Caballero in '04, Trump National LA in '05 and the Longs Drugs Challenge in '04 and '06...
  • I've met three-time women's British Open champion Sherrie Steinhauer, and talked on a personal level...
  • I've made a BOATLOAD of happy memories along the way...and they're not done!!!

I believe that golf truly IS the greatest game ever invented, and the rich history and traditions that are associated with the game make it a truly special experience.

I recently was fortunate enough to play a round at Riviera Country Club, and fulfilled a long-term dream to play the 18th hole well, lasering a 270 yard drive (where did THAT distance come from??? Thank you, Callaway Tour56's!!!) and a 170 yard approach into the back of the green/fringe, where I proceeded to chunk a wedge and finish with a bogey, but I didn't care - I'd already HAD MY fun...

My list of All-Star Golf Courses and Holes through the years:

My future dreams in golf include taking my Mom back to Scotland to sightsee her childhood home and play golf at St. Andrews' Old Course (and hopefully at Course No. 7, which I hope to succesfully name Tayboir Mor or Seachdadhar Brae), playing Carnoustie and Ballybunnion, playing Bandon Dunes and Whistling Straits, and another round at Pebble Beach, this one with Mark ("Doc") Fletcher (now that I've reduced my tendency to slice, and won't be so nervous that I put three straight seven-wood tee-shots on the condominium roofs to the immediate right of the first tee).

Dream foursomes:

  • (PGA): Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Padraig Harrington
  • (PGA Runners-up): Fred Couples, Jason Gore, Stewart Cink
  • LPGA Tour: Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, Lorena Ochoa
  • LPGA Tour (for all the wrong reasons): Natalie Gulbis, Katherine Hull, Kris Tschetter
  • Nationwide Tour: Michael Putnam, Jason Allred, Kenny G (OK, so he's not REALLY a NT player, but we need SOMEONE to round out the foursome)
  • Duramed Futures Tour (also for all the wrong reasons): Dana Lacey, Bridget Dwyer, Leigh Ann Hardin, Christina Monacelli, Blair O'Neal, Anna Rawson, Katie Ruhe, Linda Sorensen, Elizabeth Stuart, Perry Swenson, Kristina Tucker, Briana Vega, Heather Zielinski
That's the BEST part of golf - there's always something more to look forward gives you something to live for...

So THIS is what heaven is like...

I just got some of the best news I have ever gotten....

Time Warner Cable has taken over our Adelphia cable provider here, and they have rejiggered the channel lineup as of November 14, 2006...

The Golf Channel is now channel 78, which means I no longer have to go downstairs to watch it on the digital cable box...

I am now watching 'The Shark Encounter" with Greg Norman on the office TV upstairs, one of my favorite all-time golfers ever, and the guy I wanted to BE when I took up golf for the second time in my life in my 20's...(that will make another post later)

Between CNBC on 48, and now The Golf Channel on 78 - I may need to remind myself to go downstairs to eat...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Big news in Golf Retailing

Holy smokes - I just read that Dick's Sporting Goods is going to buy Golf Galaxy for a 19% premium over today's closing price!!!

And I was hoping that Golf Galaxy would one day make their way to California....

Whew - at least the management team appears to be staying on board...

Ryder Cup analysis

For one of the great articles about Paul Azinger's Ryder Cup captaincy, click here....

THIS closing paragraph made me laugh out loud so hard, I almost lost my swig of coffee (you KNOW where...I almost DROWNED...):

"While you’re at it, see if you can somehow doctor Camilo Villegas’ Colombian birth certificate. South America is still America, right? You need somebody to trash-talk Sergio Garcia in Spanish. (“¿De dónde conseguiste esos pantalones amarillos? ¿De tu hermana?” “Buen putt, Alice. ¿Tu juego del marido golf?”)"

Roughly translated - "Where did you get those yellow pants? From your sister? Nice putt, Alice - Does your husband play golf?"

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Scottsdale Golfest Part II

Wow - that was pretty fun!
It was a beautiful weekend in Scottsdale - the weather was perfect, and we got the opportunity to meet with lots of people at Golfweek's Golfest.

Every major club manufacturer was there with AT LEAST a dozen staff bags STUFFED with all the latest clubs - some of which haven't even been released to the public!!! (I got to test hit some new Callaway irons that are pretty sweet looking, and VERY easy to hit...)

We got a nice location for our tent, located adjacent to the big putting green that was being shared by Yes! putters, and Eyeline Golf, a company that makes a line of putting and golf training tools. We were located right on the main walkway between the demonstration tee at the end of the manufacturers and the "Fun Zone" where all of the contests were being held. We had a lot of visitors as people made their way from the various demonstrations over to try their skill at closest to the pin chipping contests.

The Yes! putters had a LOT of visitors, and from the looks of a lot of the people that tried them, I understand why Yes! is growing as rapidly as they are...between the huge variety of head styles, and the way people were draining putts with them, I wish that Yes! were a publicly traded company, because I'd be buying their stock. I actually own several Yes! putters myself, and I appreciate the fit, finish, feel and general quality of their putters. There DOES seem to be something about those "C-grooves" on the face of their putters, because the ball does seem to track straighter!

We also had the opportunity to see Dennis Walters' performance. For those of you that haven't seen Dennis' show or heard his story, he was an aspiring professional golfer who suffered an accident about 30 years ago that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Dennis' story includes his own personal journey, and how he turned his setback into an inspiring story of perseverence, hard work and amazing performance.

Dennis hits FLAWLESS drives and shots with a variety of clubs, including his "3 iron", which has three heads forged together, and "drivers" that have shafts that are made out of radiator hose, and another that has about 3 universal joints for a "shaft". He also hits drives with several golf balls that are rolled down a ramp in rapid succession, and also with a left-handed club turned upside down and backwards, and each one is dead-straight solid, long and perfect. He is AMAZING!!! If you ever have a chance to see Dennis' show - go!

Most importantly, Dennis also has an absolutely ADORABLE sidekick that he rescued from the Miami animal shelter, a cute little dog named "Benji Hogan". He's trained to answer numeric questions by barking the correct number of times, and he also never misses. Read more about Benji's story'll melt your heart. We bought two Benji Hogan headcovers, which are really good representations of this little cangel (canine angel). I'm putting mine on the ol' 5-wood (or is that now 5-WOOF???)

Surf on over to Dennis' website and spend a few minutes reading about him and'll inspire you to look beyond what you now think are setbacks, and how to persevere and succeed.

We met a lot of really nice people that were interested in, and it will be interesting to see how the site traffic and sales develop.

All in all, it was a very successful weekend on a number of fronts...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Golfest Scottsdale - Part I

I arrived in Scottsdale tonight from Burbank - the traffic out of Thousand Oaks to Burbank Airport was just B R U T A L!!!

It took me almost 90 minutes to go 35 miles!!! I was listening to XM #222 for the LA traffic reports, and they indicated that the 101 was averaging 24 miles per hour, so I jumped off at Valley Circle Blvd, and tried to jet up to the 118. Even the surface streets were packed and slow!

Finally got up to the 118 and DeSoto an hour after I left work, and made it to BUR in 30 minutes. Valet'd the car, and the Golf Tiki was smiling on me - there was NO ONE in line at America West...(sorry, I just cannot accept that they merged with US Airways...I'm STILL bummed about that...I used to really LIKE America West Airlines - at least I still have my Frontier Airlines - if we could get Frontier to fly out of BUR, life would be complete!)

Got my gear checked in without difficulty - I pressed my ValSurf bodyboard bag into use as an equipment bag, and it worked FLAWLESSLY!!! It held all my signage materials from, PVC framework parts, my 9' putting green, and half a dozen putters and my attack wedge with the "Artan" design grips on 'em.

The flight was about 3/4 full, and I had seat 22A, the last row in the back. True to form, US Airways DOES NOT board from the front and rear of the plane like everyone else does at Burbank Airport (Bob Hope Airport), so there was a big logjam in the middle aisle (shades of the 101 freeway)...

Again, the Golf Tiki was smiling on me, and I had the ENTIRE ROW TO MYSELF!!! HUGELY comfy - I stretched out across the other two seats, whipped out my Wall Street Journal, and enjoyed an ice-cold Diet Coke. (What??? No PEANUTS or SUN CHIPS, US Airways??? America WEST used to at least give you some munchies in flight...I am SO bummed at that merger...)

My bags were amongst the last to be unloaded in Phoenix, and I trundled off to the rental car shuttle bus station...

The rental car depot is off-site in Phoenix - WAAAY off-site...we musta drove for 15 minutes to get to the rental car depot, which is about as big as a major metropolitan shopping mall, and is lit up like a Christmas tree - it's HUGE!!!

Alamo got my rental car biz this trip, and they let you pick out your own car from a different section after you've checked in - I'm going on the cheap this trip, so I asked for an "Economy" car - when I got down to the Compact/Economy section, there was this zippy little white Chevy number with a gaudy little rear deck spoiler that I snagged...

Drove the 20+ miles to Scottsdale, and pulled into the Wingate Inn - SCHWEET's a "Built for Business" hotel right across the street from JDA Software, located amongst an office park/shopping/retail district...because their business is predominantly business, their weekend rates were a STEAL for the quality of the room!!! AWESOME - and free wireless or wired high-speed internet access, too!!! Like I said - SCHWEEET!!! =) (You know the type of hotel rooms where the bathrooms have granite countertops and the shower has matching granite walls, and the place smells really GOOD from the expensive European botanical body wash and lotion products - and the bed is really comfy and overstuffed with about eight pillows??? THAT'S what we're talkin' this weekend, folks!!!

I got checked in, and went down to get my gear - decided to go grab a quick bite to eat at a Carls Jr. that I passed by on the way to the hotel. Well, the LIGHTS were on, but no one was home...the place was lit up like the Phoenix rental car city, but no one was inside...

Undaunted, I headed down the street to the Islands Restaurant (Go ahead, click on that link to Islands if you want to see one of the most IRRITATING splashpages - make sure the sound is down), that was ALSO lit up like the Phoenix rental car city - these people faked me out SO badly - I even parked the car and hit the door handle - ONLY TO FIND IT LOCKED!!! At 10:30 on a freakin' FRIDAY night??? GEEZ!!!!

What's UP with this place??? It's a happenin' Friday night in Scottsdale, and the sidewalks are rolled up!!! (***Note to self: Check to see if there are any publicly traded AZ power companies - these people leave ALL the lights on, all night long...between the lights being on all night, and the A/C's being on all day...the AZ power co's must be makin' BANK!!!)

Disappointed (and HUNGRY), I headed back to the Wingate Inn - whaddya know - they have a convenience store behind the front desk - and the prices are REASONABLE!!! (The Golf Tiki is doing well tonight...) I paid $4.50 for a Pepperoni Pizza Lean Pocket (individually wrapped - never seen one of THOSE before...), 12 oz. Diet Coke, and a Grandma's Cookies Chocolate Chip Cookie two-pack....SCHWEET!!!!

Took it on up to my room, and nuked 'er up in the in-room microwave (you know, the one sitting on top of the small black REFRIGERATOR) and chowed down...

Moved my fragile stuff from the suitcase to the bodyboard/putter gear bag, and sat down to capture the night's activities for you here...

It's gettin' kinda late, and I've got to get an early start in the morning to get my booth set up, so I'm gonna sign off for now, and go get my beauty sleep....

Wish me luck at tomorrow's Golfweek Golfest! More later...

This is becoming an obsession....

I dunno - there's just something really compelling about this contest to name the Course No. 7 at St. Andrews....

Maybe it's because I was born on the 7th (September), maybe because 7 has been a lucky number for me throughout my life (along with the number 23 - both of which were coincidentally worn by two of the greatest athletes in their fields, namely John Elway of the Denver Broncos and Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, respectively, but I digress...), maybe it's because the winner gets to go play the course after they win the contest and it's been a lifelong goal/dream of mine to take my Mom back to her hometown of Edinburgh, maybe it's just a really cool idea to open it up to the rest of the world... I dunno...

I awakened this morning, head spinning about my preparations for the Golfweek Golfest Show down in Scottsdale, and all of a sudden, ideas for naming this course just started FLYING about my imagination at 5AM...that's just WEIRD!!!

In any event, here are TODAY's submissions:

  • Piper's Moor or Pipers Moor
  • Piper's Glen or Pipers Glen
  • Tartans Brae or Tartan's Brae
  • Tartans Glen or Tartan's Glen
  • Tartan's Moor or Tartan Moor
  • Piper's Bluff
  • Piper's Brae or Pipers Brae
  • Misty Isle Links
  • Kenross Mhor
  • Craigduff Brae
  • Taylor Brae
  • Seachdad Mhor

VOLUME II for the day was:

  • Tyreboir Brae
    Thistle Dubh
    Tayboir Mor
Sigh - I hope they announce the winner right after December 1, because this is just nuts....

Off to go finalize my packing and preparations...wish us luck this weekend!!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Callaway leads the way in innovation...again...

11/8/06 - Callaway Golf Company announced yesterday that they are expanding their sales channel, to leverage their extensive network of "brick and mortar" retailers (especially "green grass"/on-course retailers that usually do not have a strong online presence) with a new sales channel at

As reported in yesterday's press release from Callaway Golf Company:

CARLSBAD, Calif., Nov 08, 2006 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Callaway Golf Company (ELY
Callaway Golf Company ELY ) today launched, an innovative alliance between Callaway Golf and its vast network of authorized U.S. retailers that provides a new level of service, security and convenience to online consumers. This breakthrough online shopping experience links consumers and superior golf retailers by permitting the consumer to place an order through Callaway Golf's website and have it fulfilled by a local participating retailer. The new site also will be accessible via the Company's main website,

A complete lineup of official Callaway Golf and Odyssey products will be featured at, including the latest in drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, golf balls, footwear, eyewear, apparel and accessories. Moreover, each and every product offering on the website is backed by the extensive inventories maintained by authorized retailers and Callaway Golf, making it far more likely that consumers will find what they want when purchasing through

"This is a breakthrough in retailer integrated e-commerce and an important step in the continued growth and evolution of Callaway Golf," said George Fellows, President and CEO. "It benefits consumers, retailers and Callaway Golf, adding confidence and convenience to the consumer's online experience while further enhancing Callaway Golf's market share and our partnership with our trusted retailers. Callaway Golf leads the industry with a commitment to innovation, and this superior online commerce tool furthers our leadership position."

"We are the first and only golf equipment manufacturer to act as the convenient and secure link between the growing number of online consumers and our vast network of authorized retailers," said Steve McCracken, Senior Executive Vice President. "With, we will link consumers with local retailers who have what they want, backed by the reliability of Callaway Golf's complete customer service and support infrastructure."

When an order is placed, it is in turn presented electronically to participating authorized retailers via a user-authenticated and encrypted site. These retailers then have the opportunity to fulfill the consumer orders. features an automated system that uses an algorithmic selection mechanism to determine the retailer that can most efficiently fulfill an order based on such attributes as geographic proximity and inventory availability. The selected retailer will ship the order directly to the consumer. is only available to consumers in the United States.

For most of our retailers - including most of the vast network of green grass golf professionals -- who do not currently have Internet capability, provides them with a presence on the web without the technological, marketing and customer service costs associated with e-commerce. Callaway Golf is the first golf manufacturer to build an electronic bridge between online consumers and the community of golf professionals that permits the two groups to do business with each other in a convenient and secure manner."

In related news reported in Barron's over the weekend of Nov. 4: By A.G. Edwards & Sons ($13.12, Nov. 1, 2006)
Callaway Golf CompanyELY ) to Buy from Hold with a $17 price objective.

We believe that in the next 12 to 18 months Callaway management will either: 1) correct operational execution errors of 2005 and 2006, allowing 2006 cost savings to flow to the bottom line, enhancing 2007 and 2008 fundamental earnings to a relatively sustainable earnings of at least $1.20 in 2008; or 2) should fundamental performance not materialize, public or private investors will likely force a change in control to enhance/unlock shareholder value.
Either way, we believe investors have an attractive risk/reward scenario that likely materializes if management succeeds or fails -- i.e., no middle ground. The ongoing long-term fundamental outlook for the golf industry remains challenging largely due to industry competitive forces, the maturity of major geographic regions and weather.

Help find a good name for Course No. 7...

How cool is THIS???

The fine folks at the St. Andrews Links and Trust (yep, THAT St. Andrews - let's be reverential for a moment, shall we...bow our heads...OK, good) need our help...and they're having a contest...

Well, they don't really NEED our help, but they're having a fun contest to name their latest course, which is now going by the institutional name of "Course No. 7". (Is that like Chanel No. 5 ???)

Details of the contest are available here, and in the spirit of fun, fair play, and an attempt to get some discussion going on the blog, I hereby respectfully submit MY proposed entries, dated November 6, 2006, for your consideration, discussion and idea generation...(although, mine are going to win, so you might as well just read mine and weep...neener, neener, neener - see Kristen, the candy corn hasn't worn off YET....ugh)

Without further ado - here are the soon-to-be winning entrants:
* Seachd Adhar Links or Seachdadhar Links
(Seventh Heaven Links or Heaven's Seventh Links)
(In Scottish Gaelic no less - look it up - hopefully
I get some brownie points for trying...)

* Seachdadhar Brae (Do you see a trend developing here???)
It's not so bad if you say it phonetically...Seek DAD har
BRAY...say it with me again...Seek DAD har BRAY)

* Kinross Brae

* Kinkell Brae or Kinkell Ross (It'll make sense when you
read the background)

* Castle Brae (Please see above comment)

* Craigduff Brae or Craigduff Ross

* Rosseachd Links (Rosseach Links) or Rosseachd Brae
(Rosseach Brae)

OK, class, talk amongst yourselves - no flames - whaddya
think??? Huh?
Pretty CREATIVE, huh? (He said with smug satisfaction...)

If I win - I'll take lots of pictures and post 'em here...

OK, I added these entrants too...I'm paying homage to the
best Denver Broncos quarterback ever - John Elway...
BTW - I saw one of his first-ever Southern California
football games whenGranada Hills came to El Camino to
play an early or pre-season football game in September
1976 - Elway threw for like 350 yards and
Granada stomped ECR into the dust...even then,
we knew he was someone special...)

Without further ado - I also proposed:
Obviously, the word is out - check out this press release from the St. Andrews Links:
November 9, 2006

Flood of entries for naming competition

Potential names for the seventh course at St Andrews Links are flooding in from around the world.

The naming competition for the seventh course launched last Wednesday on the internet and since then entries have poured in from golf fans and members of the public throughout America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the UK.

It is the first time in more than 600 years of history at the Home of Golf that people have been invited to suggest names for a golf course at the Links and the competition, run through the official website, has attracted nearly 500 entries in the last few days.

Some of the more interesting and imaginative names which have been suggested so far include "No 7 Cliffs of Heaven", "the Human Peace Course", "The Prince William Course" in recognition of his time studying in St Andrews, and "The Miracle."

Many people have been suggesting names focused on the location of the seventh course on a clifftop site at Kinkell Ness and near Brownhills Farm to the south-east of St Andrews. The course commands spectacular views out over St Andrews Bay to the hills of Angus and of the cliffs and rock formations of the rugged coastline such as the Maiden Rock and the Rock and Spindle. It was also formerly the site of Kinkell Castle.

Alan McGregor, general manager of St Andrews Links Trust which is running the competition said, "We were expecting a great deal of interest in the competition but we have been surprised by the sheer number of entries and the imagination and thought which has gone into them.

"It is quite clear that people from all over the world feel an emotional attachment to the cradle of golf and we have been very pleased to receive entries from far-flung parts of the world as well as much closer to home. I would urge people to keep their thinking caps on and send in their own suggestions. There is still plenty of time to do so."

The competition runs until December 1. The best names will be submitted to the Course No 7 Working Party to select the winning name. The name of the new course will then be announced in January. The competition winner will have the opportunity to play one of the first rounds on the new course when it opens in 2008 and will be a guest at the official opening ceremony along with VIP's from the world of golf.

Course No 7 is currently under construction and is due to open in 2008 when it will become the seventh course in the Links Trust's portfolio and a younger sister to the Old Course.

Full details for the competition and weekly information bulletins regarding the history and nature of the land at Course No 7 are being provided at To send in your entry please email The deadline for entries is 12noon on December1.

Media Contact:
Mike Woodcock
Communications manager
St Andrews Links Trust
01334 466610