The Local Knowlege

News & Tours

Who is this man who crashed the Ryder Cup conversation?

Two days ago, it was inconceivable that Tom Watson could have picked Chris Kirk out of a lineup, certainly not one that included Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and others.

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(Getty Images photo)

“Does Tom Watson know who Chris Kirk is?” Arron Oberholser asked on Twitter Monday afternoon.

Watson, of course, is familiar with Kirk, who was 14th in U.S. Ryder Cup points, though a vivid imagination would have been required to suggest that Kirk was in Watson’s Ryder Cup purview before he elbowed his way in with a victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday.

Kirk likely received greater scrutiny from a late night comedian than he did from Watson. He was among those PGA Tour players singled out and mocked by Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon for their official tour mugshots.

Related: The top 10 earners in FedEx Cup history

“He was voted most likely to say, ‘Enjoy your stay. They all do,’ when handing over your hotel room key,” Fallon said, mimicking a deranged front desk clerk.

It was not a particularly accurate representation. Rather than a wild-eyed look, Kirk appears to play without a pulse, entirely void of emotion, which could explain how even before the Deutsche Bank he had collected more than $3 million this year in virtual anonymity.

But when you are in contention and playing the final round with the No. 1 player in the world, Rory McIlroy, and you shoot 66 and outscore him by four strokes to win for the second time this season, well, even a Ryder Cup captain has to take notice.

Credit Kirk for not nominating himself in the wake of his third PGA Tour victory. “Saying I’ve earned it would be a little entitled,” he said. “If I earned my way I would have finished in the top nine.” He acknowledged only that “I have put myself in contention.”

At the TPC Boston, he showed how good he is in contention, an asset with Ryder Cup pressure. He withstood a couple of challenges, one of them from Geoff Ogilvy, who was playing with house money in more ways than one. Ten days earlier, Ogilvy’s ocean-view tennis estate in Del Mar, Calif., sold for $5.95 million, enabling him to realize a $1.8 million profit from what he paid for the place five years ago. This was in addition to the fact that he never expected to qualify for the Deutsche Bank, before learning he was the last player to qualify.

Related: Who should Tom Watson pick?

But Ogilvy’s bid ended at the 18th hole, when he pulled a six-foot birdie putt that would have made Kirk’s task more problematic. Meanwhile, Billy Horschel needed a birdie to tie at the par-5 18, but hit his 6-iron second shot into the hazard and made bogey.

It gave Kirk a victory and Watson a headache he could not have expected. Even with $4.475 million in earnings, fourth among Americans on the money list, Kirk still might be overlooked by Watson, but he at least has progressed beyond recognition only as the butt of a comedian’s joke.

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News & Tours

Missing Links: 'Everyone but McIlroy wants to marry Caroline Wozniacki,' and Euro captain's Ryder Cup predicament

Stories of interest you might have missed…

The sport is tennis, but Rory McIlroy’s name turned up in virtually every story recounting Caroline Wozniacki’s fourth-round victory over Maria Sharapova in the U.S. Open on Sunday. “Everyone but Rory McIlroy wants to marry Caroline Wozniacki right about now,” Filip Bondy writes in the New York Daily News. In this Australian Associated Press story, McIlroy is called “the elephant in the room.”

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(Getty Images photo)

Will Stephen Gallacher’s performance in the Italian Open end up bumping Luke Donald from the European Ryder Cup team? That seems to be a consensus. Gallacher, needing to finish first or second in Italy to make the team on points, finished third. Still, it got captain Paul McGinley’s attention, as this story by Reuters’ Ed Osmond notes.

The 17th hole at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver will receive ample scrutiny at the BMW Championship there this week. It was the 17th hole, the 71st of the 1960 U.S. Open, that Ben Hogan let a possible record fifth Open title slip away. Tom Kensler of the Denver Post looks at the historic 17th and whether it will be a factor in the BMW Championship.

“Open winner Rory McIlroy could find himself unwittingly on the wrong side of the law if he tweets another ‘selfie’ from the Ryder Cup…the competition organisers have introduced a ban on uploading photographs to the internet via social media during the event at Gleneagles in Scotland later this month,” an unbylined story in the Telegraph says. Good luck with that.

Are drones destined to become the latest technology to come to golf courses. “The Eagles Golf Club in Odessa [Fla.] has used the unmanned aerial vehicles to create a virtual course book so players can better understand how to approach each hole before teeing off,” Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Tribune writes.

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News & Tours

Tweet suggests Tiger Woods isn't alone in being 'over-engineered'

There has been ample discussion in the wake of Tiger Woods having parted ways with instructor Sean Foley that he has been “over-engineered,” as Paul Azinger put it, over-coached, as it were, too concerned with swing minutiae.

Then along came this timely and amusing Tweet from Cleveland Plain Dealer sports columnist Bud Shaw (disclosure: an old friend) that suggests that perhaps Woods is not along among the “over-engineered,” the photo having been taken at West Pines Golf Range in the Cleveland suburb of Avon.

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News & Tours

Los Angeles Country Club makes its U.S. Open pitch to membership

It remains to be seen how the members at the Los Angeles Country Club feel about the possibility of the club hosting the U.S. Open in 2023, but its board of directors has begun its sales pitch to them with this letter:


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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

August 28, 2014

Dear Fellow Member,

Your Board of Directors has unanimously approved a preliminary agreement with the United States Golf Association to host the 2023 U.S. Open Championship, subject to the approval of our membership and completion of final contractual arrangements. The Championship will be conducted Thursday, June 15 through Sunday, June 18, 2023.

The USGA was formed in 1894 and first staged the U.S. Open Championship in 1895, two years before the formation of our Club. The 2023 Championship will be the 123rd U.S. Open Championship to be held in our country. We have already partnered with the USGA to host the upcoming 2017 Walker Cup Match, an event considered by many to be the finest amateur golf competition in the world. When the USGA leadership began more intensive planning for the 2017 Walker Cup through several trips to evaluate play on the newly-restored North Course, discussions ensued regarding the possibility of hosting a future U.S. Open following the Walker Cup. We have recently advanced those discussions.

The Club has an early history of professional and amateur events of the highest caliber. After hosting the inaugural 1926 Los Angeles Open, which served as the catalyst for George C. Thomas, Jr. to redesign the North Course, the Club hosted four more LA Opens in 1934, 1935, 1936, and 1940. The Club also hosted the 1930 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship and the 1937 Western Amateur Championship. However, after the passing of Joseph Sartori in 1946 and hosting the 1954 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, our Club's elite tournament tradition was allowed to lapse until our recent commitment to inaugurate the George C. Thomas Jr. Invitational and host the 2017 Walker Cup Match.

The discussions with the USGA are timely for several reasons. In the last few years the Board and membership have increasingly been engaged in discussions regarding the number and nature of tournaments we should be hosting. We have initiated the George C. Thomas Jr. Invitational which in its third year has attracted many of the best mid-amateur and senior-amateur golfers in our country and received national acclaim as one of the best amateur events in the nation. As the reputation of the North Course, our restoration architect, Gil Hanse, and our Master Superintendent, Russ Myers, has spread in the golf world, members and others have approached me and other Board members with ideas that would allow our course to host other national and international competitions. Our natural inclination is to partner with the USGA whose mission is to promote "the true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions." We share many of the values of the USGA in promoting the game of golf.

In addition, we have known for some time that the infrastructure of our Clubhouse and South Course will require restoration and the financial obligation will be significant. We have negotiated an attractive payment schedule that funds a portion of this financial obligation. We also anticipate substantial revenue generation during the Championship in 2023.

We believe hosting the U.S. Open Championship will provide other tangible benefits to the Club, including an increased demand for our Regular, Special, Non-Resident and Junior memberships.

The business arrangement with the USGA is essentially a lease of the Club's property for a two-week period in 2023. The USGA will manage all Championship-related arrangements and will assume almost all the direct costs for the Championship. When the Championship is completed, the USGA will restore the Club and our property to its pre-Championship condition.

I hope you share the Board's enthusiasm for this endeavor. Not only will the Club benefit in many ways in hosting the U.S. Open Championship, but the City of Los Angeles will be a beneficiary. While Los Angeles has been home to several World Series, NBA finals, Super Bowls, Stanley Cup finals and even two Olympics, our great City has seen only one U.S. Open Championship in 1948, won by Ben Hogan at the Riviera Country Club. With a hospitality infrastructure in Los Angeles second to none, the USGA, together with its broadcast partner Fox Sports, headquartered in nearby Century City, will expend every effort to make the event a crowning achievement. Bringing the U.S. Open Championship back to Los Angeles is long overdue and the Championship in 2023 could be "one for the ages."

Because the U.S. Open is an international sporting event and a departure from our more recent history, the Board has determined to seek approval of our membership to host the Championship. Members of the Board plan to describe the benefits of hosting the Championship and respond to membership questions at Club committee meetings during the next several weeks. We have scheduled two town hall meetings, providing members with an opportunity to discuss and ask questions of our Board members regarding the Championship. Our first such meeting will be held on September 10, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.in the Clubhouse and the second meeting on October 2, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. where Mike Davis, Executive Director of the USGA, will be in attendance. Proxy materials will soon be sent to our Regular members for voting at a Special Meeting to be held October 9, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.

We ask that you use great care and discretion in refraining from sharing this letter or information with those outside our Club, as the USGA considers its selection process to be a private matter.  

The Board is excited to have the opportunity to host our national Championship, but the support of the Club's membership is vital for the Club to move forward with this opportunity. We encourage our members to raise questions and express their views regarding the possibility of hosting the Championship directly with me or any member of the Board.

Warm Regards,

Richard A. Shortz
For the Board of Directors
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Courses & Travel

Tour players are way different, example No. 793: When they rank golf courses

Asking a PGA Tour star which top golf course he's still waiting to play is like asking an artist which color he'd still like to paint with. Before long, your options start to dwindle.

Still, in advance of this week's Deutsche Bank Championship, the Boston Globe pressed players on the courses remaining on their bucket list. The answers -- and sometimes the lack thereof -- were telling.

Already with exposure to gems like Augusta National and Pebble Beach, many mentioned uber-private destinations like Pine Valley and Cypress Point. Others, like Geoff Ogilvy, said it was more about getting a chance to experience a classic in a more casual context.

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Pine Valley is still a good get for many tour players.

“I’d love to do all of Long Island properly, and play them all as the members play them,” Ogilvy told the Globe. “We see these courses in such ridiculous setups.”

Other players, owing to the demands of the profession, admitted to a sort of golf fatigue.

“I don’t play any leisure golf," said Jonathan Byrd. "If I told my wife I was going to take a week and play some courses I’ve never been to before, she’d slap me silly.”

Added Phil Mickelson: "I’ve played them all. All the ones I’ve wanted to, anyway.”

The Globe question was a variation of one Golf Digest posed to some of the game's A-listers in 2011, as part of our package on America's 100 Greatest Courses: Of the countless American golf courses you HAVE played, what ranks in your top 10?


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In handwritten responses from the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Ernie Els, we got many of the usual suspects (Pine Valley, Augusta National, Oakmont, and Winged Foot). We got plenty of sentimental favorites: Davis Love III included his hometown Frederica Golf Club on St. Simon Island, Ga., while Palmer went with his own Bay Hill, Pennsylvania's Laurel Valley Golf Club, and Cherry Hills, where he won the 1960 U.S. Open.

And of course we got the expected from Donald Trump. He included five Trump courses, including Trump Bedminster at No. 1.

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News & Tours

Missing Links: Sean Foley's reaction ('not a sad day'), and Los Angeles Country Club's change of heart (maybe)

Stories of interest you might have missed…

How did Sean Foley handle the news that Tiger Woods had fired him? Better than most, probably. “I know the world won't want to believe that two people can go in different directions without being upset with each other,” he told ESPN’s Bob Harig. “It was a wonderful opportunity. I'm very grateful. This is not a sad day.”

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Sean Foley working with another of his charges, Hunter Mahan (Getty Images photo)

“All you see at the entrance on Wilshire Boulevard is a simple numerical address: 10101. Nothing to advertise the expansive clubhouse and championship golf courses behind the trees on either side of the driveway. The 1,500 members can speak of the facility in great detail; not many others can. That is about to change.” The Los Angeles Times' Mike James has the story of the likelihood that the U.S. Open will finally be going to the ultra-private Los Angeles Country Club.

“To listen to [Justin Leonard] talk about his week at Camp Mati is to suspect that Leonard's week in Colorado brought the same measure of satisfaction as being an NCAA champion at Texas, a U.S. Amateur champion, a British Open champion at Royal Troon, a Ryder Cup hero at Brookline or anything else he has done on the golf course.” The Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson writes about Leonard’s experience spending a week at Colorado’s Camp Mati, where kids with cancer and their families for for a respite.

Knowing history sometimes is more problematic than making history, as U.S. Amateur champion Gunn Yang demonstrated last week. Yang, from San Diego State, played a round of golf wilt another Aztec with a U.S. Amateur championship on his resume, Gene Littler. Yang had to Google him to learn that Littler is in the World Golf Hall of Fame, Tod Leonard writes in this story in U-T San Diego.

The headline to this story in the Vancouver Sun was sure to get golfers’ attention: “World’s best golf courses virtually packed into Vancouver’s downtown.” The story is about a restaurant/bar — the One Under, Urban Golf Club — that will feature six golf simulators featuring 22 golf courses (so far), including Pebble Beach and the Old Course at St. Andrews.

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My Usual Game

Tree trouble: Winter is coming, and Howard meets his match

There’s a maple near the bend of the dogleg on the first hole, and each year it provides one of the first clear signs that the golf season is winding down:

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The tree may actually mark one of the famous portals to hell, because there’s another tree behind it, and if your tee shot clears the first tree the second one will sometimes knock it into a lateral hazard -- like a pair of volleyball players doing a bump-set-and-spike. The second tree was planted, many years ago, in loving memory of a dead guy, whom few current members knew but many current members curse, on account of his tree. The lesson is that you shouldn't let your survivors plant anything in your memory 200 yards from the regular men’s tee on the right side of any fairway.

On the eighth hole, Howard’s second shot (or possibly his third) ended up next to the base of a tree near the green. It was sitting down in a little depression, with roots on either side, but he made a manful effort to knock it back into play:


Two holes later, I hit my second shot too far, and it ended up about four inches from a stone boundary wall that runs along the edge of a grassy swale just over the green. My only possible shot was to bash the ball into the wall with my wedge, and hope it ricocheted back into play. I did, and the ball ended up gimme distance from the hole: par. I don’t have a video of that shot, because I couldn’t swing my wedge and operate my camera at the same time. I am one man!


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News & Tours

Meet the 3-year-old golf prodigy born without a right hand

When Tommy Morrissey was 13 months old, he began watching golf telecasts with his father Joe and “he’d watch it as though he understood what was happening,” his mother Marcia said.

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

At 18 months, he began mimicking what he was seeing on those golf telecasts, meanwhile, getting angry when someone changed the channel.

So his parents gave him a plastic club and ball and he began swinging away and hitting the ball with uncommon efficiency for a toddler, more so for one born without a right hand.

“My husband plays golf and I play golf,” Marcia said. “Thomas became obsessed with it. He started watching YouTube instruction all on his own, mostly Bubba Watson, really. So we began nurturing his obsession. It’s unreal.”

Tommy is now three, has real equipment and plays as often as time and his parents allow, which is frequently, given that they’re members at Frenchman’s Reserve Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, near their home in Jupiter, and Linwood Country Club in Linwood, N.J., where they spend summers.

They took Tommy to Linwood’s professional Jeff LeFevre this summer. “He immediately took a very nice, natural square setup,” LeFevre said. “He took the club back to parallel and paused at the top. When he hesitates at the top he looks at the target, then back to the ball.

“He never whiffed one. And after watching him hit a couple hundred balls now it’s amazing to me that he never ever whiffs.”

Doctors at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia predicted that he’d have exceptional hand-eye coordination, Marcia said. “His body and his brain think he’s right-handed, but without a right hand his brain has to compensate in ways yours and mine would not.”

Marcia, meanwhile, is reading “Imperfect: An Improbable Life,” Jim Abbott’s autobiography. Abbott, who was born without a right hand and played 10 years in the major leagues, often spoke about his indifference to not having a right hand.

The same holds true with Tommy, Marcia said. “Thomas has no idea he’s any different than anybody else,” she said. “He just never even questions it.”

The first time LeFevre saw him hit balls, tears came to his eyes, he said, a reaction others have had, too. “You’re heartfelt for what he’s going through,” he said, “then you realize he doesn’t see it as a handicap, that he was just born with one arm and that’s the way it is.”

As for his passion for the game, he once temporarily lost his putter. “Boy, was he upset. He had such a fit,” LeFevre said. “His passion is just incredible.”


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Travel

Deal of the Week: See Hemingway's Sun Valley at a discount

Ernest Hemingway came to Sun Valley, Idaho for the first time in 1939 for a lot of the same reasons visitors come now -- the incredible mountain scenery, clean air and low key atmosphere. A-listers like Tom Hanks and Mark Zuckerberg still like it because they can walk around relatively unbothered and enjoy two distinct recreation seasons -- golf and skiing. 

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When you go, you can stay at the same resort Hemingway did. Suite 206 in the iconic, x-shaped Sun Valley Lodge -- where Hemingway finished writing For Whom the Bell Tolls -- isn't a part of the resort's fall Aspen Glow promotion, but you can get a standard room at the Lodge or related Sun Valley Inn and a round of golf at the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Trail Creek course for $179 per person through September 28th. A night in the Lodge normally starts at $324, and the green fee ranges from $79 to $149.

Don't let all of the snowy photographs of Sun Valley's world-class Bald Mountain ski area trick you. The average daytime high in September is still in the low 70s early in the month and mid 60s late, while average lows dip into the 30s. Play 18 holes and take meandering fall color tour around nearby Warm Springs, where Hemingway spent his final years in a house overlooking the Wood River. 

Head back to the Lodge afterward and lose the jackets and go for a nighttime swim in the famous circular outdoor pool adjacent to the lobby. It's open year round and heated to 102 degrees, perfect for nursing a cocktail and looking at the stars. 

The Hailey airport is 14 miles from the resort, and it has daily non-stop flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake and Seattle.
 
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Celebrity

5 things to talk about with your buddies on the course this weekend

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. "Brangelina": They got married! Last weekend! In France! And the best part? Almost no one seemed to know about it. OK, so it's a little weird that even Angelina Jolie's father, Jon Voight, was kept out of the loop, but at least they spared everyone all the breathless coverage and follow-up TV specials brought on by the recent nuptials of "Kimye." Thanks for keeping it chill, guys.

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Related: Photos of golf-crazed celebrities

2. The Emmys: Here's a brief rundown of TV's big awards night: "Breaking Bad" won EVERYTHING. This was made a lot more tolerable since, coincidentally, I started binge watching the series just two days before (I was well into Season 2 by the time of the ceremony). Still, as good as Bryan Cranston is, it's crazy to think that Matthew McConaughey didn't win for best actor -- something I declared was a LOCK after just the second episode of "True Detective." Oh well, he'll have to settle for just an Academy Award and a Golden Globe this year.

3. David Chase: Speaking of TV, the creator of "The Sopranos" chimed in (again) on the much-talked-about abrupt ending to the series finale after a report that Chase had finally divulged the fate of mob boss Tony Soprano. (SPOILER ALERT: There was an abrupt ending to the final episode of "The Sopranos" in which the screen went black and people watching completely freaked out.) Anyway, Mr. Chase said Tony Soprano didn't die -- but he also didn't necessarily live. In other words, his life went on and the audience is supposed to draw its own conclusions. Hmm. So now the debate goes on as well. Seven years later. Well played, David. What do I think happened in that scene? I think Tony ordered more onion rings.

Related: Rory and Jagermeister: An unauthorized history

4. Sean Foley: Golf Digest's No. 2-ranked instructor only charges $250 per lesson. If you're struggling with your game, maybe now is the time to give him a call. He's got a lot more openings in his schedule.

Related: Who will be Tiger Woods' next coach?

5. College football: The season officially got underway on Thursday night so there's plenty to discuss and be excited about. My level of caring, however, completely correlates with how good my alma mater's team is. (*Checks scores.* *Sees Wake Forest lost to Northern Illinois, 17-10.* *Let's out a big sigh.*) So the NFL starts next week, right?

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