Category: Golf

Playing Golf With A Caddie (or is it Caddy?)

Have you ever used a caddie? Or is it caddy? Either way, have you ever played 18 holes with a caddy? The other day I was running around my neighborhood, and saw several caddies running up the 18th fairway at TPC Scottsdale. These are called forecaddies, and will inform a player where to aim, then run ahead and prepare for the next shot after the player hits. Caddies are not required at TPC Scottsdale, but they are there if you want/need one. I have never played 18 holes with one… except for last Saturday when I played and one of the guys in my group WAS a caddie!

(See, I am going to spell it both caddy and caddie in this blog post. I just don’t know the correct spelling, apparently.)

We teed off, and I asked the guys if they had ever played the course before. They both had, and it ended there. We were playing Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. After a few holes, I asked Steve what he was up to these days. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and was curious what he was doing in the golf space. We chatted about his role and his time on the bag, so to speak. He also said he was going to be writing a book about his years as a caddie. He used to be at Bandon Dunes and now is at a private club here in the Valley. The book will be called Are You Sure? and will highlight stories on and off the golf course as a seemingly successful caddie.

Keeping in mind that he was a caddie, I asked him a few times about how a putt should break. Every time he read a putt, it either went in or was within the infamous 3-foot circle. It was funny, because there were a few times when he would tell me where to aim, and I would ask, “Are you sure?” PERFECT name for his book!

Guys on TOUR use a caddie, but I have never played a round with one. Maybe one day I will make enough money to afford one! Not only are they expensive, you also need to tip them when the round is over. If you are wondering what to tip, $20 is good. $35 is better. $40 is best.

Great, now I want to go play golf AND use a caddie!

The Legend That Is Jack Nicklaus

As an older golf fan who writes stories about current stars on the PGA, LPGA, and European Tours, I am probably as guilty as the next for loosing perspective. I know that for most of the younger fans today, and by younger, I mean anyone under the age of 50, you probably don’t have a connection with some of the super stars from the past.

I know that I have trouble connecting with players like Ben Hogan Sam Snead, and really even Arnie because they played and were the stars of an era that existed before I gained an interest in this great game. I am fairly sure that this would be your perspective on The Memorial Tournament host, Jack Nicklaus. Jack was the Tiger Woods of the day, when I become a golf fan back in the 1970’s and I will continue to see him as the young super star that he was, and not the aging honorary first day starter at The Masters.

To get a sense of Jack’s accomplishments as a player, one only needs to visit Wikipedia and take a trip down memory lane. Actually, you don’t even need to do that because I did it for you. Although he never caught up with Slammin’ Sammy Snead in total career victories, my thoughts are, Jack played in a time when the competition got a little tougher. There was Arnie, Lee Trevino, and Gary Player keeping him out of a few victory celebrations.

Jack is actually third on the all-time wins list behind Tiger Woods who tied his total last year at The Memorial. He still leads Tiger for Most Major Championships with 18. A number Tiger has in his sights which is currently 14. Being the true professional he is, Jack is actually rooting for Tiger to tie, and beat this record. He said in an interview earlier this year that if Tiger wants to beat his record, “at 37 years old, he better get busy if he’s going to do it”.

In 1978, Jack Nicklaus became the first player to win the “Triple Slam”. By winning the 1978 British Open at St. Andrews, he became the only golfer at the time to win all four of the Major Championships three times. This was a feat that stood until 2008 when , who else but Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate for his third US Open, which incidentally was tiger’s last major win.

To go along with Jack’s three British Opens, he won the US Open four times, the 1962 US Open was his first major, the PGA Championship five times, and of course The Masters a record seven times. His last major was the 1986 Masters where he won at age 46, making him the oldest player to win a major. A little known fact is he had a solo sixth place finish at Augusta in 1990 at age 60, and a tie for sixth place in 1998 at age 68. Father time finally caught up with him and he became an honorary starter. When you watch the Masters, and they tell you about all of the former Masters Champions, just remember, Jack Nicklaus was the king of Augusta.

To go along with his 18 major victories, Jack had 18 runner up finishes in major championships. Even when he didn’t win, he was there on Sunday with a chance to win. When you talk to him today, he remembers every one of those losses, and can tell you what mistakes he made in them. He doesn’t always recall the victories, but he does remember the ones that got away.

The victory I have the most connection with was the 1980 US Open. I watched every shot between him, and Isao Aoki as they played at Baltusrol Golf Course in Springfield, New Jersey. They began the final round tied, and Jack prevailed in one of the best head to head battles I had ever saw. Nicklaus won by two strokes for his third to last major. He also beat Andy Bean for the 1980 PGA Championship for his next to last major.

I know that Tiger Woods is the greatest player most of you have ever seen, and he rightly deserves that distinction. But there were some great players from my generation as well, and the greatest player from my generation was Jack Nicklaus.

Follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and in the Google+ golf community.

Credit: © Jack Nicklaus & the Nicklaus Companies

Golf Palm Springs: Classic Club

There are a lot of great golf clubs in Palm Springs. I was there a couple of years ago and played several courses, including the Classic Club. I also got the chance to play PGA West and the Celebrity Course at Indian Wells. I liked Indian Wells so much, I even stayed on property! Palm Springs reminds me a lot of Scottsdale, Arizona. They even call Palm Springs the “Valley”. There are golf courses all over the place, nice restaurants, plenty of shopping… and everyone in town is dawning a golf shirt. Palm Springs is my kind of place.

Yesterday, on a flight back from cold (and rainy) Seattle, I was looking at a pamphlet I grabbed at the airport. It was a feature of several Palm Springs golf courses, and the Classic Club was the first one mentioned. Each course listed showcases some photos of the golf course, an overview, driving directions, detailed information about the course, facilities, restaurant, and more. Below is what they had to say about the Classic Club:

Experience world-class golf at this nationally recognized championship golf course. Preview first-class amenities including a full-service golf shop, enjoy the Valley’s most innovative cuisine by premier Chef, Gerard Brunett at Bellatrix Restaurant and entrain your guests in style in our private banquet facilities or under the star or by our waterfalls and lakes.

Driving Directions

Approximately 15 minutes east of Palm Springs off I-10 and Cook Street. Exit Cool Street off I-10 from the east or west and Classic Club is on the north side of I-10 at Varner Road. Enter at Classic Club Blvd.

Golf Course

Experience what Golf Digest and Golfweek rate as one o the top-rated public courses in the U.S. Enjoy a challenging round of golf on an award-winning Palmer-Designed course while taking in the panoramic views of the Santa Rose, San Jacinto and Chocolate Mountains. Classic Club creates a new spin on desert golf with rolling terrain, 30 acres of water features, 14 bridges, as well as an abundance of pine, olive, and pepperwood trees, with pine-straw ground cover and 5 sets of tees on each hole. Yardage 7,322, rating 75.3, and slope 142.

Facilities

The Tuscan Village-inspired 63,000 sq. ft. clubhouse features a restaurant, bar, grill with outdoor patio seating, locker rooms, and full-service golf shop. Practice facility consists of a magnificent two-sided state-of-the-art teeing ground with putting greens, chipping greens, and a practice bunker.

Restaurant

Bellatrix Restaurant offers Mediterranean, Asian, and French accents along with traditional steak, seafood fare and an extensive wine list. Bellatrix is open to the public for lunch and dinner. For reservations or more information please call 760-601-3690.

As you can see, the Classic Club offers more than just 18 holes. I didn’t get the chance to eat at Bellatrix, but I did have coffee there before my round. The service at the Classic Club is world-class, and the golf course is challenging to say the least. I just love this property. Have you had the chance to play the Classic Club?

Rickie Fowler hits to a Texas-shaped green in downtown Dallas

I like Rickie Fowler. No, not because my name is Ricky… but because he is young, fun, and is playing on the PGA TOUR! Oh, and he spells his name wrong. Anyway, earlier this week, prior to the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Fowler and fellow PGA TOUR player Colt Knost headed to Dallas for a little friendly competition. The event was sponsored by Red Bull where players would hit shots from varying distances to a custom built green in the shape of Texas. Their final shots were from 140 yards off a parking garage and all Fowler had to do was hit the green. He did, and was crowned the champion. If you watch the video, he gets a nice parting gift. The jacket isn’t green, but still a fun event. Have you ever seen a green shaped like the great state of Texas?


Rickie Fowler hits to a Texas-shaped green in downtown Dallas

PGA TOUR Insiders Hangout: PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall

The PGA TOUR is doing a great job on Google+ and are taking advantage of Google+ Hangouts On Air. They have featured PGA TOUR players like Lee Westwood and spend countless hours discussing the TOUR with some of the brights minds in the game. D.J. Piehowski does a great job with these, and is always thinking ahead. This week they invited me to join the Hangout. They were featuring PGATOUR.com Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall. Jonathan has been working in the golf industry for as long as I can remember, and has been covering golf equipment for years. I am obsessed with his coverage on the latest and great equipment and the stories (or blog posts) where he features what is in the bag of players on TOUR. He is a good writer, his blogs are an easy read, and he is just fun. The Hangout was fun, and we talked about all the new gear on TOUR, and even what is in HIS bag.


PGA TOUR Insiders Hangout with Jonathan Wall

The PGA TOUR is doing these all the time, and have posted nearly 5,000 videos on their official YouTube page. You can connect with the PGA TOUR below. If they ever do a Hangout with Tiger Woods, I better get the invite. Boy, the questions I would ask Tiger…

Connect with the PGA TOUR:
Website: http://pgatour.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pgaTour
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pgatour
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/pgatour