Wednesday, November 29, 2006
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Today's big news is that "Cambo" aka Michael Campbell will be added to the field, replacing Darren Clarke, who has withdrawn.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
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 twenty 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 holiday 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.
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.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
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!
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.
http://www.thegolfchannel.com/core.aspx?page=15100&select=21288 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
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:
Il Mi Chung
Se Ri Pak
Mi Hyun Kim
Sunny....blue 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
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 then...it'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 efficiently...it'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 golf...it'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:
- Pebble Beach #4, #7, #8, #9, #11, #14, #17, #18
- Kapalua (Bay Course) #5
- The Links at Spanish Bay: #5, #7, #9, #14, #16
- Rancho San Marcos #3, #6, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18
- Elkins Ranch #17, #18
- Sandpiper Golf Course #5, #6, $10, #11, #13, #14, #18
- Glen Annie Golf Course: #7, #12, #15, #18
- Torrey Pines (South) #3, #4, #10, #11, #12, #13, #18
- Sand Hills #1, #4, #9, #10, #12, #15, #18
- Wild Horse Golf Club: #1-9
- La Purisima Golf Course: #1, #3, #6, #8, #9, #10, #13, #15
Rustic Canyon Golf Course: #13, #18
- Camarillo Springs: #6-11
- Tierra Rejada Golf Club: #4, #6, #8, #13, #14, #17, #18
- Lost Canyons Golf Course (Sky Course: #1, #2, #3, #6, #16-18
- Malibu Country Club: #1, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #11, #14, #17, #18
- (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
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
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...
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
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 here...it'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 Benji...it'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 TartanGolfGrips.com, 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
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 HalfPriceBanners.com, PVC framework parts, my 9' putting green, and half a dozen putters and my attack wedge with the TartanGolfGrips.com "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 place...it'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...
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
Off to go finalize my packing and preparations...wish us luck this weekend!!!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
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 shop.callawaygolf.com.
As reported in yesterday's press release from Callaway Golf Company:
A complete lineup of official Callaway Golf and Odyssey products will be featured at Shop.CallawayGolf.com, 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 Shop.CallawayGolf.com.
"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 Shop.CallawayGolf.com, 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. Shop.CallawayGolf.com 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. Shop.CallawayGolf.com 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, Shop.CallawayGolf.com 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)
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
OK, class, talk amongst yourselves - no flames - whaddya
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:
- ELWAY'S LINKS
- ELWAY'S DRIVE
- THE DRIVE
- DRIVE SEVEN or DRIVE NUMBER SEVEN
- NUMBER SEVEN'S DRIVE
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 www.standrews.org.uk 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 www.standrews.org.uk. To send in your entry please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for entries is 12noon on December1.
St Andrews Links Trust
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I played Riveria Country Club today....it was AWESOME!!! The greenskeeping staff gets "A" on their final exams, because the tees, fairways and GREENS were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
Also saw Tom Watson give a 45 minute clinic, where I actually LEARNED something...and applied it immediately, with successful results!!! (VERY cool)
Details and pictures will have to wait til later, because I'm getting a bunch of stuff ready to exhibit TartanGolfGrips.com products at this weekend's Golfweek Golfest in Scottsdale, AZ, and then again at the Orange County Celtic Festival at Irvine Meadows Fairgrounds.
OK - I'm taking a break from developing the catalogue (digging on Craig Ferguson's monologue tonight (11/9/06)) and I can't hold it any longer....here are my three highlights of my round at Rivier-AHHHHH:
1) My drive on #18 - we teed off on #17, so we had a hole to warm up (we bogied #17, but we were both cold from the road), and I stepped up to #18, took a deep breath to relax, set up, and absolutely RIPPED a LASER straight 270+ yard drive up the blind-hill fairway(454-180=274 - what can I say, the Golf Tiki smiled on me...). Walked up the hill to find the ball 180 yards out, on the right side of the fairway...took a 3-iron and put it 10 yards off the front of the green, right in the throat of the green....it was SO, SO, SO cool walking up that 18th fairway - you could just FEEL the history hanging in the air...Hogan, Nicklaus, Woods, Pavin...
Of course, I totally CHUNKED the attack wedge 20 yards past the hole, and we ended up taking my partner's par score for the hole, but it was MEMORABLE...
2) I birdied #4 - it's a par-3, playing 223. Took my Elway-7 wood and just hit it on the screws...drew it onto the left side of the green, made a friggin' divot the size of a Volkswagen (but fixed it FLAWLESSLY with my GreenFix divot repair tool - it works better than traditional divot tools - shameless plug there), and putted it in from 12 feet for BIRDIE!!! What a rush...
3) I played the ENTIRE ROUND with the same sleeve of Callaway Tour 56's. (Not that I didn't TRY to lose them, but our caddy, Jarod, has eagle eyes, not to mention a mastery of the putting surfaces - he gave me some advice on one line that I thought - "There's no way..." but I trusted his local knowledge, put it right on his target, and if I hadn't muscled the ball, it tracked RIGHT on line, swung about 5 feet to the left, and JUST rolled over the high side of the cup...NICE call, Jarod!)
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Congratulations also go to Karrie Webb for her end-of-season win in Japan.
Two more events to go, including the big season finale at the ADT LPGA Playoffs, with the big Million-dollar plus payoff in mid-November.
This means that we'll have ANOTHER Aussie in the mix to challenge Stuart "The Kapalua Kid" Appleby in a scant 60 days for the Mercedes Championships in January, and another champion in our midst at Tiger's little soiree at Sherwood Country Club in mid-December.
Congratulations, Adam - you won the "All Star Game" for the 2006 PGA Tour!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
What's in the TartanGolfGrips.com official golf bag:
Driver: Callaway ERC Fusion 10deg. with Aldila NV 65(reg)
3-wood: Callaway Great Big Bertha Hawkeye 3+
5-wood: Callaway Big Bertha Steelhead
7-wood: Callaway Big Bertha Steelhead
Hybrid: Callaway Big Bertha Heavenwood 2H (my "get of jail free" club with a TartanGolfGrips.com "Sinclair" tartan C-Thru Tour Mid #5 grip)
3-Approach: Callaway Big Bertha X-12 (RCH graphite) (sure they're old, but I love 'em)
Attack wedge: Callaway Forged Chrome 58deg (with a TartanGolfGrips.com "Taylor" "artan" with my initials on a C-Thru Tour Wrap #4 grip)
Putter1: Callaway TourBlue TT3 - 35" (with a TartanGolfGrips.com "Rust" "artan" with "TartanGrips.com" text on an Oversized Pistol putter grip)
Putter2: Yes! C-Groove Marilyn - 35" (with a TartanGolfGrips.com "Scott" "artan" with "Scott" text on a Pistol putter grip)
Ball1: Callaway HX Tour
Ball2: Callaway HX Tour56
Ball3: Callaway HX Hot
Shoes: Nike or Callaway
Sunglasses: Oakley (nothing else will do, except Callaway's new line of sunglasses)
Sunblock: Bullfrog or PreSun
Grips:Hybrid: C-Thru Tour Velvet #5;Woods and Irons: GolfPride Dual Durometer (Yellow Cap); Attack Wedge: C-Thru Tour Wrap #4; Putter: C-Thru Oversized Pistol (Primary) or Regular Pistol (Backup)
The next two years are gonna be interesting! This should be one of the most spirited team planning sessions - I just hope that the PGA Tour adjusts the team selection criteria, because this year's team just didn't do it for me...
On the other hand, I DO believe that Darren Clarke's inspirational and heart-wrenching presence and the Irish leprechauns were smiling on the Euro team...plus, the US team needs to play more team events. Tom Lehman did EVERYTHING right this year, it just seemed like karma was smiling on the Euro's...they're great, don't get me wrong, but things just seemed to go their way...
Plus, the weather is generally too nice over on this side of the pond...when it's raining over here in the summer, it's generally with lightning, and play is stopped...
If I were Ryder Cup captain for a team that was going over to the Euro side to play, I'd have our guys spend a couple of weeks playing Bandon Dunes or somewhere rainy and cool (Washington?) to get ready for the sometime raw weather that happens on that side of the Atlantic...
But I digress - I'm really excited that Zinger's gonna be our Ryder Cup Captain, and I can't wait to see how the team selection process develops, and how he manages the team.
We had an abnormally hot and humid July, and it stressed the trees, and they're now rewarding us for our $300 monthly electrical bills from runing the A/C 24/7 for most of the month of July with one of the most spectacular displays of fall foliage that we've had in several years.
With the changing of the seasons, and the playing of The Tour Championship, our thoughts here in Thousand Oaks turn to TIGER TIME!
Tiger Time means that the Target World Challenge will soon be here...I just surfed on over to their site and this year's field is going to be especially fun - it's too bad they limit it to sixteen golfers, because I'm gonna miss Stewart Cink, Fred Funk and Michael Campbell. I've worked for those gentlemen over the past couple of years, and they're all incredibly cool guys to go out on the course with.
Yep, I get to go out on the course with the players, because I've volunteered enough times that I've worked my way onto the standard bearer team. A couple more years and I'll be ready to graduate to the walking scorers!
I've worked as a walking scorer at several LPGA events, but I'm still waiting for my "Big Break" at the Target World Challenge...hey, it's all good - it's just an honor and privilege to work the event, and it's literally about five miles from home! I can see the BLIMPS hovering from my backyard - how cool is that?
This year's Target World Challenge field looks like an instant reply of this year's Ryder Cup - here's who's coming to Sherwood Country Club this December:
|2006 FINAL FIELD|
|Davis Love III|
|Jose Maria Olazabal|
I am signed up to work all four days, and I hope I get the pairings with Padraig, Adam, John, and Freddy...Davis would be nice, too - he's a totally cool guy, and I've worked for him before...
Padraig's one of my favorite players of all time, I've never seen Adam Scott play live before, John Daly's just a party and Freddy's Freddy...need I say more???
I saw John Daly do a knockout set of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" with Hootie and The Blowfish when we were down visiting relatives in Memphis two summers ago...ol' John can SING!!!
I got the urge to write this because the operations office from the Tiger Woods Foundation called me today - apparently they couldn't make out some information on my volunteer form, so they called to clarify it with me...it got me thinking that we're rounding the corner from Halloween, and now we enter that time-warp time when it's WHAM-WHAM-WHAM from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas/Hanukkah and New Year's...