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The Eternal Summer Review

Summer of 1960 – The Eternal Summer

Curt Sampson wrote The Eternal Summer which was published in 1992, almost 20 years ago.  I happened to find a signed copy of the book and read it over the course of the last couple of weeks.  It is required reading for those who profess to follow and know golf.  1960 was a year to remember.  It was literally a turning point for American society shifting out of the post World War II Eisenhower era and the societal innocence of the 1950s into a more hip and rebellious period.  It was also the year I was born – an important year indeed…

The Eternal Summer and the Changing of the Guard

Television was a catalyst for this change – it changed how we viewed candidates for president of the United States and how we viewed golf and its heroes.  It was the year Arnold Palmer was born as a golfing superstar, the birth of Arnie’s Army and a seed for sports management that sparked the path for players to treat the PGA Tour as a major business venture.  It was also the year that the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills marked the changing of the old guard in golf through Ben Hogan’s last stand, Arnold Palmer’s triumph, and a glimpse of the promise of the champion to come, Jack Nicklaus.

In The Eternal Summer, Curt Sampson takes us through the year by way of the brief histories of the three gentlemen mentioned above and the year’s major tournaments.  He fills in the blanks with personalities of golf, personalities around golf, the birth of the modern PGA Tour, and the shift of golf as an exclusively rich past-time to a game of the masses.

Irrepressible Dan Jenkins provides the forward where he calls 1960 one of four significant years of the game.  Arguably, there are now five as we have since realized the “Tiger Era,” but of course, that is accounted for I am sure in countless books that I have yet to read.  Come to think of it, we may have six as I believe we are in the “post-Tiger Era” now defined by his instant downfall a couple of years ago.  More of that in my analysis of the implications of Tiger’s fall in a later post.

The Eternal Summer – A Must Read

As I said, it is a must read about what Curt Sampson calls “golf’s golden year.”  The Eternal Summmer is entertaining, informative, and quick.  It will stay on my shelf as a reference for this important historical point for the game we love.  It is a great place to start, a nexus if you will for exploration of the history of the game.  Buy and read The Eternal Summer, you won’t be disappointed.

Rory McIlroy Wins 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional

What a U.S. Open Weekend!

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy wins the U.S. Open,  his first major, in a storm of scoring on a weakened, yet still long Congressional Country Club golf course. As I watched Rory throughout the tournament I was impressed with his poise and patience, not only on the course, but off as well. I can only imagine how many times he has answered the questions regarding his Masters back nine fall a few weeks before. Even Bob Costas’ ill-timed inappropriate question about The Masters during the championship award ceremony did not phase Rory, but who would have blamed him if it did? (Come on Bob, save those questions for the post tournament press conference!) But Rory has grown up in preparation for this moment. He has proven to be gracious in losing, and now gracious in winning. He is delightful to watch.

A Vulnerable U.S. Open Golf Course

The course was vulnerable this week. With the rough down somewhat in anticipation for hard and fast greens and then rains softening the greens during the tournament, the course was ripe for better than normal U.S. Open scoring…and there was better than normal U.S. Open scoring. Not taking anything away from Rory’s performance as he did lap the field, but there were lots of players under par (20 including Rory). Also, an accomplishment of very few in past, he was not the only player to shoot all four rounds under par – he was joined by Robert Garrigus (T3), although Rory did so with all 4 in the 60’s (65/66/68/69). Garrigus shot 70 3 times making a tough clutch par putt on 18 to make it happen.

Who Showed at the U.S. Open & Who Didn’t

Jason Day once again showed brilliance in a major finishing alone in second. We saw some small glimpses of the Sergio of old. Chappel and Garrigus were the lone Americans in the top 10 at 6 under par, T3 along with Y.E. Yang and Lee Westwood. Where was Phil, Luke and Martin?  The amateur Patrick Cantlay (pictured behind Rory), an incoming 19 year old sophomore at UCLA and the world’s number one amateur, did spectacularly carding an even par score for the tournament and taking low amateur honors.  His next amateur competitor was Russell Henley, a Georgia Bulldog, finishing at 4 over par.

U.S. Open Coverage

It was an interesting dynamic to watch the U.S. Open as broadcasts switched from ESPN to NBC then to ESPN again on Thursday and Friday. What a dichotomy of announcers and styles! I also listened to part on Sirius/XM ESPN. NBC televised the Saturday and Sunday rounds and we got our fill of Johnny Miller. I have to say, I would much rather watch and listen to Curtis Strange (he was broadcasting on radio) than Miller. Miller seemed to be manufacturing scenarios to make it more “interesting.” He was a little out of character I think in his incessant praise of McIlroy’s swing. Usually he will find something wrong somewhere.

What was NBC thinking when they edited out “under God” from the American pledge of allegiance in their tribute to American patriotism? Does that strike anyone else as a strange juxtaposition, to edit a pledge in a tribute to patriotism?! Did they think that most people hadn’t said it in so long that no one would remember it and it would just pass? The apology was lame. As if they simply mistakenly edited out the words. There is no doubt in my mind that it was intentional. What arrogance! Whoever made that decision needs to be fired. We just don’t change the words to fit our agendas…

U.S. Open Repercussions?

A thought came to me that maybe this is just the kind of motivation to bring Tiger out of his funk. Sure, he has injury, but motivation is key to recovery. Doubters of this theory would say that surpassing Jack’s major total is enough motivation. Is it? Now, after the personal failures and the inner searching Tiger is obviously undertaking to find his new self? Maybe this surge of 20-something talent will bring out a hungry Tiger. Just a thought.

Thanks Rory for a great U.S. Open showing!  You’re a great Champion.

The U.S. Open is Coming Soon!

U.S. Open on Television

I do not blog for a living (some of you might say that that’s a good thing).   Yes, this is a business that I do on my free time, but of late my free time has been scarce.  Last Thursday I had knee surgery for something long overdue, a torn meniscus in my right knee.  It went well and I am recovering, and with that recovery comes some down time from my primary job that will free me to contribute as I watch this year’s U.S. Open on the couch.  I am really excited about the positive that brings to this down time from playing golf and other activities.

I love the U.S. Open

The first golf professional tournament (and only) I have ever attended was the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.  Watching the players up close is worlds away from seeing them on TV.  It was a great experience, albeit wet and muddy.  Katie and I stayed in Manhattan and rode the “U.S.Open Train” in every day for the event.  I am targeting next year’s U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco to visit once again.  I live relatively close to Congressional, but alas, priorities of life have superceded my presence there this year.

U.S. Open Story Lines

The story lines are many, to include the absence of Tiger (please let’s not dwell on this!), the rise of Luke Donald, the continuing battle for number 1, and the growing cadre of players who have closed the talent gap since Tiger’s fall and Phil’s apparent issues with performing.  Who is the favorite?  You have to like Steve Stricker and Luke Donald whose games are well suited for a U.S. Open set up.

Talking about story lines, let’s not forget Ken Venturi and his win at the U.S. Open at Congressional in 1964.  He prevailed even through his heat exhaustion and the warnings from his doctor.  It’s going to be another hot one this year, figuratively and in reality.  More later on the U.S. Open as the week goes on…