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Kenny Perry and Charity

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“Tees and Tunes” Charity Event

My wife and I had the great pleasure of attending Kenny Perry’s “Tees and Tunes” Charity Event with several friends in Franklin, Kentucky on the 6th of September.  The event proceeds were raised to support the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin-Simpson.  The event was held at The Arling, a venue owned and operated by his sister Lydia Perry Petersen and her husband Chuck on the grounds of Kenny’s Country Creek Golf Course.  The event included dinner and a concert by Vince Gill.

Franklin is a small community in south central Kentucky located just above the Tennessee line along interstate 65.  It is about an hour straight north on I-65 from Nashville, Tennessee.  In Franklin, everyone knows Kenny…he grew up there and still lives there with his family.

A History of Charity

Kenny Perry is well known for his charitable efforts.  In 2009 he won the prestigious Payne Stewart Award.  The Payne Stewart Award is given to a player whose “values align with the character, charity and sportsmanship that Stewart showed”.  These values include respect for the traditions of the game, commitment to uphold the game’s heritage of charitable support and professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct. In 2002, he was named the winner of the Charles Bartlett Award, given to a professional golfer for his unselfish contributions to the betterment of society, by the Golf Writers Association of America.  His other awards include being inducted into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame, the Western Kentucky University Hall of Fame, the Western Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni and the Lipscomb University Athletics Hall of Fame.

The PGA website lists his charities as:

Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee – Franklin
To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.


Lipscomb University
Lipscomb University is a private coeducational institution whose principal focus is undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, combined with a number of pre-professional fields and masters degree programs. Its primary mission is to integrate Christian faith and practice with academic excellence. The mission is carried out not only in the classroom but also by involvement in numerous services to the church and the larger community. Institutional Values The core values that under-gird the works of Lipscomb University include: Christ-likeness Lipscomb exists because of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. The constant aim is for each member of the Lipscomb family to grow in His image. Truth Truth is sought in each class and should be lived out in the behavior and speech of each employee and student. Excellence In every facet of our work, Lipscomb University seeks the highest level of performance and service. “Perpetual improvement” is the mantra for each class, department, or administrative area. Service Everything we do and teach should reflect the second great command “to love your neighbor as yourself.” Knowledge acquired and skills gained are to be used to bless the lives of others.


Potter Children’s Home and Family Ministries
The mission of Potter Children’s Home & Family Ministries is to be a tool in the hands of supporting churches of Christ and individual Christians to deliver God’s justice and mercy to children and families in need.

I chatted with several folks during the evening and understand his charitable connection with Lipscomb began as a promise to return through a percentage of winnings the favor of support he received as a struggling pro starting out.  He still tithes a percentage of each purse.

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Vince Gill and Charity

Vince Gill’s performance was very personal and entertaining.  With only a microphone, a stool and his guitar, he held the 250-ish crowd spellbound with stories and music.  During one of the songs, a young man proposed marriage to the surprise of all but a select few.  A scratch golfer in his own right, Vince Gill has also had a long relationship with charities and golf with his course The Vinny in East Nashville (in my neighborhood!) and The First Tee.  Gill and Kenny are close friends and Vince provided an intimate look into his professional and personal life because of it – and all for the price of some great fried chicken.  Kenny showed his appreciation by presenting Vince with a custom set of Callaway Clubs and bag – all to Gill’s specs.  Nice.

Entertainers and Charity

It’s inspirational that these entertainers, one a professional golfer and the other a singer/song-writer would give so much of themselves in support of these worthy charities.

Gym Work and Golf

GolfGym.com

GolfGym.com

Is lifting weights compatible with golf?  I think it depends on the goals you set for your workouts and the results you’re looking for.

During The Open Championship this past week, Dan Hicks asked Johnny Miller what he thought might be going on with Rory McIlroy.  Miller, in his usual semi-acerbic tone replied, “I think he overdid the weight room, I don’t (think) that helped him at all. Same thing with Tiger Woods. You just get carried away with wearing the tight shirts and showing off their muscles.”  Miller might be just a bit jealous about how they look because they both look great, but he may have hit onto something about overdoing it in the weight room.

Tiger bulked up quite a bit during his last few years of playing and I think it may have affected his swing.  He got noticeably bigger in his chest and arms, that had to change things.  As he embarked on his last comeback try, you could see some of that bulk had “melted off.”  I’m not sure he didn’t grow to think the same thing and slimmed back down, or it was just coincidental.

Rory, on the other hand, is sporting quite a chiseled physique these days.  He may like to “show off his muscles” with tight fitting shirts like Johnny suggests, but I see nothing wrong with that and I am sure Nike loves it.  I don’t think he displays the kind of bulk that Tiger acquired however.  In fact, golfgym.com says, “Golf Fitness Ain’t Bodybuilding.”  (You can read their blog post about Rory at this link if you like: http://golfgym.com/Blog/golf-fitness-aint-body-building/) I agree, golf fitness is exactly that, getting and staying fit to play better golf.  As I suggested at the start, it all depends on what you want.  It seems Rory is doing it with the right purpose, let’s hope he doesn’t cross a line that affects his game.  Now, if it isn’t weights, then what else could be going on with Rory’s game – if anything?

Olympics, the Zika Virus and Golf

mosquito-circHow important are the Olympic Games for golfers?  That’s the question for players as some have already made the decision not to go to Rio and others are still considering.  Some of the biggest names in golf have opted out – Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordon Spieth, and Rory McIlroy, the top 4 professional golfers in the world.  On the other hand, our Champion Golfer of the Year – winner of The Open – Henrik Stenson has been quoted as saying he is not afraid of mosquitoes and will attend.  So what is it about the Zika Virus that keeps some away?

 

Zika Virus

I have included some FAQs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website that should clear up some of the controversy.  Since most of these professional golfers are youthful and still (or about to be) in the “family-making” business there are some obvious risks and limitations the Zika virus presents if infected.  Interestingly, no woman golfer has opted to drop out from the competition that I am aware of.  In fact, a few weeks ago the LPGA made a statement to that effect.

Q: What is Zika?

A: Zika virus disease is caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week, and many people do not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.

Q: How do people get infected with Zika?

A: Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). A pregnant woman can pass Zika to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Also, a man with Zika can pass it to sex partners. We encourage people who have traveled to or live in places with Zika to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.

Q: What health problems can result from getting Zika?

A: Many people infected with Zika will have no symptoms or mild symptoms that last several days to a week. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, is also very likely triggered by Zika in a small number of cases.

Once someone has been infected with Zika, it’s very likely they’ll be protected from future infections. There is no evidence that past Zika infection poses an increased risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.

Q: Should pregnant women travel to areas where Zika has been confirmed?

A: No. Pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika. Travelers who go to places with outbreaks of Zika can be infected with Zika, and Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.

Q: If I am traveling outside the United States, should I be concerned about Zika?

A: Travelers who go to places with Zika can be infected with Zika, and CDC has issued travel notices for people traveling to those areas. Many people will have mild or no symptoms. However, Zika can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects. For this reason, pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika, and women trying to get pregnant should talk to their doctors before traveling or before their male partners travel. It is especially important that women who wish to delay or avoid pregnancy consistently use the most effective method of birth control that they are able to use. Those traveling to areas with Zika should take steps during and after they travel to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.

Q: What can people do to prevent Zika?

A: The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites:

Zika can be spread by men to their sex partners. People whose male sex partners have traveled to or live in an area with Zika can prevent Zika by using condoms condoms correctly every time they have sex or by not having sex.

Q: What are the symptoms of Zika virus disease?

A: The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms, which can last for several days to a week.

Q: How is Zika diagnosed?

A: To diagnose Zika, your doctor will ask you about recent travel and symptoms you may have, and collect blood or urine to test for Zika or similar viruses.

Q: Can someone who returned from a country or US territory with Zika get tested for the virus?

A: Zika virus testing is performed at CDC and some state and territorial health departments. See your doctor if you have Zika symptoms and have recently visited an area with Zika. Your doctor may order tests to look for Zika or similar viruses like dengue and chikungunya.

Q:What should pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area with Zika do?

A: Pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area with Zika should talk to their doctor about their travel, even if they don’t feel sick. Pregnant women should see a doctor if they have any Zika symptoms during their trip or within 2 weeks after traveling. All pregnant women can protect themselves by avoiding travel to an area with Zika, preventing mosquito bites, and following recommended precautions against getting Zika through sex.

To Go or Not To Go

I suppose the decision to go is at its core a personal one and comes down to the level of risk one is willing to take on.  Rio is in the hot zone for Zika-carrying mosquitoes and I for one completely understand if an athlete declines based on their concerns.  To compete for one’s country is an honor and a privilege, but it is not a requirement or a duty.  These are professional athletes and are allowed to make personal decisions for themselves regarding their health and the health of their families.

 

(Picture of Mosquito from CDC&P Website)

Patriot Golf Day / Folds of Honor 2015

logo-medIt is always a good time to honor those who keep our freedoms and protect us.  It is also a good thing to combine efforts such as those of Folds of Honor with activities many Americans love…such as golf.  From the FoldsofHonor.org website:

On Labor Day weekend, golfers across the country are asked to add an extra dollar to their greens fees to fund Folds of Honor scholarships. The Patriot Golf Day campaign is jointly supported by The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association. In the last eight years, golfers nationwide have been instrumental in raising donations through Patriot Golf Day events, resulting in over 7,500 scholarships in all 50 states and 41 PGA sections.

Patriot Golf Day 2015 will again be held during the Labor Day weekend, September 4 – September 7.  If you are interested in joining our mission to empower the lives of deserving military families with educational opportunities, then please become a participating facility in 2015. PGA Professionals who host an event and submit funds to the Folds of Honor Foundation will receive 2 MSR credits.”

Look for your nearest participating golf course during Labor Day weekend and play!  This is an easy way to do what you love to do and feel even better for it – giving a little so that many have a better chance at life.  If your course isn’t yet planning to participate, speak with your pro and get started!

This is why:

“Of the one million-plus dependents adversely affected by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly nine out of 10 do not qualify for federal scholarship assistance. Folds of Honor seeks to meet this need by providing annual educational scholarships to the military families of those who have been killed or disabled while in active duty. These help support private education tuition, tutoring and educational summer camps for children K-12, as well as higher education tuition assistance for spouses and children. Since its founding in 2007, the organization is proud to have awarded over 7,500 scholarships, including over 2,000 in 2014 alone.”

The Man Behind the Putter – Part Deux

This past Sunday I made 8 birdies in 27 holes.  I actually heard the words from a competitor as I struck a putt from 20 feet into the hole for a second straight birdie, “Okay, we’re just about sick of this performance…”  Corey Pavin, thank you for the “palms out” putter grip.  Also, Odyssey putters, thanks for the white hot mallet!  34″ of pure joy and perfection. Yes, I changed again ONE FINAL TIME!

This Wednesday I play in a Virginia State Amateur qualifier at Virginia Beach National Golf Club (formerly a TPC).  It was to take place last Wednesday, but a tropical depression precluded play.  I actually avoided getting wet because my tee time was so late, most were soaked after – for some 8 or more holes – and relieved beyond words that it was finally cancelled.  I played one practice round a couple of weeks ago and timing and schedule has precluded another.  I am hoping that putting as described above coupled with the Hogan chipping technique on the par 5s discussed in the previous post will win the day (thanks Tom McCarthy, Jim McLean, and Mr. Hogan).  My iron play has improved dramatically (thanks PING S56s), but my driving has been a bit streaky.  Driving the ball is a personal thing requiring confidence, connection, and care.  Patience and trust will be their own reward I think.  I am a nearly 52 year old man who will be competing with high school and college players as well as established amateurs in the area.

I am a long shot and underdog.  I love underdogs!  My morning tee time is the next to the last on number 10, which means, for the afternoon round (of 36 holes total) I will be in the next to last group playing into number 18.  I want to own this opportunity – I want people waiting for MY SCORE!

Oh yeah – how can I forget my inspiration?!  My wife encourages success for me at the golf course every step of the way.  The photo shows not only the red, white and blue club head covers she made for me, but also the putter head cover – my “Sock Monkey” putter head cover.  The other night sitting in the den watching television she suddenly declares – “I made something for you!”  Hmm…”what is it sweetheart?”  “A putter head cover Chris!”  I immediately loved the idea of it, my wife making something for me without coaxing – a surprise – and something as cool as a sock monkey for my putter!  How can I putt badly after that?!  Look at that sock monkey peaking out over the top of the bag…he really wants the putter to be great…

The Ben Hogan Collection and More!

Ben Hogan

I bought The Ben Hogan Collection interactive CD set a couple of years ago. It had been some time since I reviewed it in any detail, so I broke it out a week or so ago and went through all of it again.  I am as impressed now as I was then with the quality of work, archive films, and the analysis of Jim McLean.  The folks at McTee’s Champions LLC have done a wonderful job of putting this together.

The set provides a “Legacy DVD” which is a brief biopic of Ben Hogan, two instructional DVDs (Swing Revealed 1 & 2), and a software CD.  I normally look for things on Amazon.com first and the package can be purchased there for just under $60.00.  Unfortunately, the set is “temporarily out of stock” on the Amazon website.  With a quick google, I found the set on PracticeRange.com for $35.00.  If you are any kind of a golf aficionado then this is a must for your library and continuous review.   

As I re-reviewed it and listened carefully to McLean’s analysis while watching the vintage footage, I had a couple of epiphanies.  One especially enlightening segment for me was in the chipping/pitching segment.  McLean shows the viewer in detail how Ben Hogan pitches the ball with a “mini-swing.”  Interestingly, McLean uses the cigarette, still in Hogan’s mouth, as a reference point for analyzing his head movement through the pitch.  I have incorporated Hogan’s pitching technique to great reward!  (8 birdies in 27 holes yesterday!!!  Won a few “cuts” thanks to Mr. Hogan, Jim, and McTee…)

McTee Champions LLC has some exciting new products out and coming.   Tom McCarthy of McTee –  “Thanks for the compliments on the dvd set.  I worked really hard to get that done over the course of several years and Jim McLean was terrific. 

We have put together a couple of new things recently.  One is the iPad app called Ben Hogan 5 Lessons.  It works on the iPad and Android type tablets.  The spirit of the Five Lessons book is in there plus some!  We are also building and soon to release the Ben Hogan 5 Lessons mobile app that marries the critical information in the Five Lessons book to the V1 instructional software.  It will include some Hogan video clips for swing comparisons. 

Jim McLean and I just finished in January a new book with Wiley & Sons called ‘The Complete Hogan.’  I took old pre-accident footage of Mr. Hogan’s swings and made stills with Jim providing observations and analysis over 30+ frames for each of 3 swings.  Plus, Jim has some incredible additional information in the book.  I am pretty hyped up about it.” 

Whether a seasoned player or a beginner, The Ben Hogan Collection will inform and entertain.  Spend the few dollars and put it in your library.  Also, look for the new McTee products  – I am excited to get the mobile APP and book Tom describes above!

 

 

2012 World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

I watched with interest the World Golf Hall of Fame presentations Monday night (May 7, 2012).  There, Hollis Stacy, Sandy Lyle, Dan Jenkins, Phil Mickelson, Peter Alliss, and were inducted – each had a unique perspective and story.

  • Hollis Stacy – An 18-time winner on the LPGA which includes 4 majors as well as 3 consecutive U.S. Girls titles.
  • Sandy Lyle – A Scotsman and 29-time winner world-wide with a British Open, a Masters (first British player to win), and a Players Championship included in that number.
  • Dan Jenkins – He is only the third writer to be inducted and the first still living.  From Fort Worth, TX, Jenkins is a revered and celebrated writer winning recognition for his golf coverage and his books.  A best-selling author, Jenkins has written arguably the “best ever golf book” – “The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate.” 
  • Peter Alliss – A professional player in his early career, Alliss was inducted as a broadcaster.  The distinctive British announcer was inducted as a result of his lifetime achievement for excellence in broadcasting.
  • Phil Mickelson – He has 48 world-wide victories, with three Masters and one PGA included. 

Hollis Stacy is still active in promoting women’s and girls’ golf.  A product of a large family of ten children (fourth) she attributed her competitiveness and spirited nature and ultimately her success to her family.  She did not really talk about her car wreck in 1988, but some attribute that event to effectively ending her career.

Through his words, Sandy Lyle provided insight into his personality that I would otherwise never had known.  Not unlike Billy Casper was overshadowed  by the big three in his time (even though his numbers should have made him the number two to three of that cohort), Sandy Lyle was overshadowed in his time by names such as Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, and Ian Woosnam. 

I loved listening to Dan Jenkins.  I knew of him for years and hadn’t read much of his stuff.  I recently bought the book referred to previously and it is not cheap!  It is out of print (or whatever the right term is) and so there are only so many out there.  I found one with Dave Marr and Al Geiberger autographs in it (lucky find) and am halfway into it.  I have already found quips and quotes that have made me laugh out loud. 

Peter Alliss is quite a character.  A little self-deprecating, but knowing of his status, he played the crowd beautifully.  He did acknowledge that he was “quite beautiful” when he was young.  He finished his speech with a bow to his parents above in Heaven and “the finger” to a grade school teacher (if she were watching from wherever) who wrote in his report that though he has a brain, he was loathe to use it and she was afraid for his future.   

PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem provided some commentary prior to Phil Mickelson’s introduction.  In his words he essentially called Phil a great role-model and ambassador for the PGA Tour.  He lauded Phil’s conduct and comportment on and off the course and implied all should take his example.  I second that assertion.

Phil mentioned briefly in his commentary and more directly in pre-event interviews that perhaps 40 was too young an age threshold for consideration.  Like Ernie Els last year, he said he still has a lot to do and a lot of game left.  In fact, he said that he may be entering the best part of his career.  When asked in an interview pre-Players recently, Tiger agreed with Phil’s questioning the age threshold, but came to no specific conclusion with what the right age should be.

Phil made another interesting comment in a pre-induction interview at the World Golf Hall of Fame.  He was asked about the state of the game and its future.  He took a different view than many.  Essentially, instead of creating strategies to “hurry along” the game (referring to tee it forward, fewer holes, etc…), let’s find a way to make the golf course a place people want to be.  Make it more “family friendly.”  He said part of what he loves about golf is not only playing the game, but “the hang” at the club with friends and family after a round.  I think there are some valuable nuggets there…

A Message From Matt Adams

I listen to the SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio channel practically every day driving to and from work…and on the weekends as I make my way to and from the course.  I thoroughly enjoy the banter of Matt Adams, Brian Katrek, and John Maginnes during their respective shows and especially like it when they team up as they occasionally do.  They each play off the other very well, it feels like the guys talking at the course. I find each has a great way of talking positively about the game, its history, its heroes, and all of the personalities who surround it – technicians, teachers, builders, authors, and architects.  The guests they bring on are first rate – I had thought myself a fairly learned student of the game and its history, but since I started listening a year or so ago I more often than not learn something new.  And no matter how stupid or goofy a caller may seem, they are always polite and positive – they each know their audience and it is us – the weekend golf warrior.

I recently posted a commentary on Matt Adams and his Fairways of Life show on the SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio show.  I heard Matt use some interesting phrases one morning, was nearing the front gate of the military base where I work so I couldn’t call in, so I wrote a blog article about it – all in fun.  I gave Matt a few “19th hole jabs in the ribs” about -what I call – his damn-nearisms.  As I said in that post, if we were at the course and I heard you say those things, I would have stuck the needle in right then.  Not unlike the needling I took this past weekend at the course for wearing a pink Kangol cap!  I expect it, like I did in the ready room when I was flying helicopters for the Marines and like I did in the locker room when I was a ball player in school.  I don’t have those things now, but I have golf and expect that kind of give and take with the gang at the golf course…fun and spirited banter…like Matt, Brian, and John provide.  (Oh yeah, I get a regular healthy dose at home with my wonderfully fun wife too!)

Matt wrote me about the article –

“Thus, I’m glad to be of some enjoyment! In all honesty, I am simply what I am (to quote Popeye) and I’ve never claimed that what I say, or how I say it, is any better (in fact, more often than not, it is worse) than any other’s. I can’t help the fact that I am a book author and the Network certainly enjoys it, but if you notice, I hardly ever make note of it myself. I don’t view myself as an author or as a broadcaster, I am simply someone that works in golf and loves the game. I am fortunate to have found some really good editors over the years to turn my slop into proper English. After that, it is just me, I couldn’t care less about sounding like something more than what I am, the guy that pulls up the cart before your round.”

Matt – thanks for the gracious response and for taking the ribbing for what it is, 19th hole fun.  You’re great just as your are, great show, great guests, excetera, excetera, excetera…

Bubba Watson Wins at Augusta!

Bubba Watson

PGATour.com

2:23 PM.  It is the final day of The Masters – Sunday – and Phil is in the final group, one behind Peter Hanson.  Hanson is unproven in this position, while each of the three wins Phil has had at The Masters has come as a member of the final twosome on Sunday and in each case he shot no worse than 69.  It is a beautiful day at Augusta today and Phil is on the practice green awaiting his tee-time at 2:40 – seventeen minutes from now.  There are players within reach of the -9 total Hanson currently holds.  Mahan, Harrington, Westwood, Kuchar, Bubba Watson, and Oosthuizen are lurking and trying to make a move…it may take some help from Hansen and Phil.

2:55 PM.  Boy was I wrong that it would take some help from Hanson and Phil…Oosthuizen just double eagled the second hole to go to 10 under!!  It was one of the most perfect shots I have ever seen.  It has changed the complexion of the tournament in a single shot.

3:28 PM.  Phil holds on to 8 under par through the third hole, Hanson drops a second shot to go to 7 under, and Oosthuizen drops a shot on the fourth hole.

3:41 PM.  Watching Phil fall apart on the fourth hole.  He hit his tee shot left off the stands and into the bamboo and finally in with a triple bogey 6 taking him to 5 under par.

7:35 PM.  I couldn’t make any entries until now, I couldn’t pull away from viewing the tournament long enough.  Bubba is in tears after tapping in a 6 inch putt for par and the win on the second playoff hole (number 10) with Louis Oosthuizen.  Louis played near flawless golf, but could not reach the green on the final playoff hole from 235 yards after hitting trees on his drive.  Bubba hit an amazing hooking wedge from the trees right of the fairway from 155 yards to about 15 feet.  The new father of a two week old adopted son, he shed tears even as he was pulling the ball from the hole.  He was met on the green by his mother and his pals, Rickey Fowler and Ben Crane.

I was glued to the television during this final round.  My poor dogs only got a hurried walk because my wife had to get back to watch.  Matt Kuchar made a valiant run, but fell short at 8 under.  Phil made the strokes back he lost on his triple bogey on number four, but it was not enough as he finished at 8 under.  And, Peter Hanson hung in there shooting 1 over par today to also tie at 8 under par for the tournament.

Today Bubba out-“Phil-ed” Phil.  He is a swashbuckler on the course, with Seve-like imagination and the heart of a lion.  It is great to see him win the green jacket.

Darkness and Light

The Masters is magical.  The Augusta National Golf Club always has their course in pristine condition for Mr. Jones’ grand old tournament.  The azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom and are gorgeous against the dark green hues of Georgia pines and freshly leafed deciduous trees and the closely mown fairways and putting greens.  The club membership rules the media with an iron fist, allowing only a certain number of minutes of advertising during each hour of telecasting.  The media adores the venue as they provide grand music on intros and exits and creative graphics and flowery words from color commentators, former players, and past champions.  Fans migrate to this special shining place in Georgia every year, and while it costs a mortgage payment to attend, once there the sites are profound, the food and drink is famously delicious and inexpensive, and the access to golf’s great past and present is awesome for the crowd who gather outside of the ropes.  It is golf’s Mecca.

But, as we stroll through the heavenly gates of this paradise and absorb the intended greatness and beauty we see an occasional dark smoky shadow pass through as profanity and ill-behavior come to the fore.  We watch in awe and wonder as one of the greatest golfers of all time goes to battle with the golf course, then wretch back instantly in revulsion when this same golfer spits a venomous God Damn It or throws his club and kicks it with disgust!  And we wonder, “Was I the only one to hear that? Was I the only one to see that?” as the commentators, former players, and past champions go on as if nothing happened.  Like a rotten seed in a bowl of rice, this warrior’s behavior belies the acts of a knight doing battle.  It is more recognizable as the rants of a frustrated toddler.  How do we cheer for this knight, rising from the depths of personal shame?  How do we enjoy his moments of brilliance when they are tainted with a continuing color of vulgarity and offensiveness?  We want to so badly, but he poisons his own well of greatness.  He is searching, that is clear.  It is not his golf swing that needs repair, but his soul.  The swing coaches of the world cannot help, others watching his motion cannot comment, he must look through his image in the mirror and find the real problems and seek to repair them.

Like King Arthur, we have come to both love and hate this bright knight Lancelot.  We abhor the darkness yet empathize and remain optimistic for his return to greatness and purity.

There are other dark clouds that waft around and through this mecca as well, they are waning, but still present and will be the subject of later discourse.


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