The Local Knowlege


Book Review: Al Michaels' You Can't Make This Up

Each week will highlight a book that it finds of interest to readers. This week is:

You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television, by Al Michaels, with L. Jon Wertheim, William Morrow, $28.99, hardback, 288 pages.

If you are familiar with sportscaster Al Michaels, it's because he's been all over the sports landscape. Recently turned 70, Michaels' 40-plus year career has taken him to the championship moments of the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, Triple Crown races, and most legendarily, to the Olympics. His "Do you believe in miracles?" call as the United States ticked down to an improbable hockey victory over the Soviet Union in 1980 will be a broadcasting moment replayed as long as TV sports highlight packages are compiled. He presently does NBC's Sunday Night Football. 


There is not as much golf as I would like to recommend this autobiography to a pure golf fan, but given that the Brooklyn-born Michaels is a golf fanatic, the sport does figure into his account. The latter half has enough golf anecdotes interspersed to make it interesting for the golf fan, including how Michaels made a call to O.J. Simpson to play golf on the day Simpson's wife and an acquaintance of her's would later be murdered. Early in the book, Michaels writes about how his father, Jay, a talent agent-turned TV rights negotiator had worked with legendary agent Mark McCormack on buying rights to sports events. Michaels' father ended up founding and running Trans World International, IMG's television division.

During his career with ABC from 1977-2006, Michaels covered golf at events such as the Tiger Woods "Showdown at Sherwood" night-time specials played under the lights with the likes of David Duval.  He writes about those events, as well as his rounds of golf with athletes and celebrities. Throughout the book, Michaels drops a lot of famous names, but it's not obtrusive or excessive. He's simply telling his life's story and the people he met along the way, many of whom became or were famous. 

I particularly enjoyed: The nostalgic nature of Michaels' life. He begins by talking about growing up in Brooklyn with three baseball teams in New York to follow. His remembrances of New York's great athletes and how they impacted his life to what it became is something all sports fans can relate to from their own childhood when it is common to adore athletes. Michaels was able to continue that adoration of the players of his youth when his family moved to California, coinciding with the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles. 

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News & Tours

Missing Links: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus still linked, this time by (course) design

Stories of interest you might have missed…

“Jack Nicklaus designed the neighboring course, and there is more than a touch of irony that the Golden Bear's latest in a long list of projects opened a mere 12 days before Woods christened El Cardonal at Diamante [in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico] to a good bit of fanfare this week. The two men's names have been linked for more than two decades, from the time Woods noted Nicklaus' golf accomplishments as a youth and decided he wanted to surpass the 73 PGA Tour victories (Woods has) and the 18 major championships (Woods has not).” ESPN’s Bob Harig writes about the two legends’ different approaches to their design businesses.

tiger jack.jpg
(Getty Images)

European Ryder Cup player Stephen Gallacher is the latest to go off on slow play in professional golf. “Certain forms of slow play is tantamount to cheating,” Gallagher said in this Scottish Express story. “Guys who know they are slow and get fined all the time but don’t do anything about it are putting people off. They are certainly putting viewers off. The bit I think is akin to cheating is their two paces - when they speed up once they’ve been put on the clock.”


Jason Palmer of England has earned a European Tour card for the first time, after a long and debilitating battle with the chip yips. How did he persevere? “[W]henever he finds himself within 40 yards of the pin but off the green, he will pitch or chip one-handed, be it from a bunker, rough or fairway. Yes, he does so with only his right hand on the club. Riath Al-Samarrai has the story in the Daily Mail.


We’ve had disc golf for a while now. Then came foot golf. Now we have smash golf, played with a racket and a rubber ball. “The fact that [Daril] Pacinella was offering a new idea to help business was the clincher, and so Smash Golf had an official home base in Rockledge {Fla.},” Brian McCallum writes in Florida Today. “[Justin Horton, the general manager of Turtle Creek Golf Club] is working to establish a league for the new sport…For now, he's simply hopeful.”

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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. "The Interview": In an unprecedented move, Sony decided to pull this new Seth Rogan-James Franco comedy about assassinating Kim Jong Un after being hacked and threatened. The FBI has confirmed the threats came from the North Korean government, but many people are still upset the studio (and big movie theater chains) caved to the demands of those angry about the film's message. We're more upset North Korea didn't care as much about the release of Bubba Watson's latest music video.

Related: Our favorite golf movie scenes

2. "Homeland": Maybe this Showtime series can cover a similar type of cyberterrorism on Hollywood in its next season. If you gave up on this show after a disappointing third season, we don't blame you, but you really need to start watching again. Season 4 has been so good (Hopefully, we're not jinxing Sunday's finale) it deserves some sort of comeback player/thing of the year award. And CIA operative Peter Quinn has become the biggest badass on TV. We're convinced he could have handled this whole situation with North Korea by himself.

3. "Taken 3": Liam Neeson is another tough guy who could help us take on North Korea, but "Taken 3"? As in a third "Taken"? Seriously? Hollywood really is running out of good ideas.

Related: NBA stars who love playing golf

4. Rajon Rondo: After years of being on the trading block, the Celtics finally moved their talented guard to the Dallas Mavericks. As if the NBA's Western Conference wasn't stacked enough. Spurs, Warriors, Thunder, Clippers, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Rockets, and Trailblazers. FOUR of those teams will not make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Golf Digest might be able to round up a pick-up team that could contend in the East. Speaking of fellow, um, colleagues. . .


5. Kate Upton: The Golf Digest cover model was named People magazine's "Sexiest Woman Alive." Congrats, Kate! We're all so proud of you here! But please come back to the office soon. Those reports aren't going to write themselves. . .

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Courses & Travel

Here's a how you can play some of the best golf courses in the country in 2015

Do you have a golf course -- or perhaps a list of courses -- that you've made it your goal to play next year? Golf Channel posed that question on Morning Drive a few days ago, and we thought it was a good one, so we explored it a little further.

It turns out that The First Tee of Central Ohio is auctioning off a handful of rounds at some of the swankiest, most-desirable courses in the country. It'll cost you, but split it between a group of other people and it's not totally unreasonable. And besides, it's for a good cause.

Bidding on most of them doesn't end for another six months, but each has a "buy it now" price that hovers around $5,000. You can check out the full list here.

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News & Tours

Golf instruction loses one of its most influential figures

teacher-rudy-obit-250.jpgOne of the legends in golf instruction passed away December 15 -- quietly, just as he taught. Ben Doyle was not only a charter member of Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers list, but a mentor and friend to dozens of top-rank instructors around the world. He also helped craft three of the most beautiful swings in the game in the form of Mac O'Grady, Bobby Clampett and Steve Elkington.  

Doyle was probably most famous for his relationship with the Golfing Machine teaching manual -- a complicated golf textbook written by Homer Kelley in 1969. Doyle was the first teacher to become certified to teach Kelley's method, and spent more than 40 years advancing its core principles.

He did it from a cart filled to the top with bags of old clubs, vintage televisions, video equipment and household items like mops and brooms -- all designed to get students to feel and see a technically sound swing. I went to see Doyle in the early 2000s with another of Doyle's proteges, 50 Best Teacher Tom Ness, and the cart didn't look much different during my visit than it did in this image from the August 1983 issue of Golf Digest. It was probably sitting in the exact same spot, too, at the end of the driving range at the Quail Lodge & Country Cub in Carmel Valley, CA. The two days of lessons I saw all went essentially the same way, with the student making small, body-controlled swings in a bunker while trying to strike a specific point in the sand. 

Doyle's dogmatic devotion to the Golfing Machine manual and less-than-charismatic teaching style often led to him being dismissed as a one-note "method teacher." But many top teachers credit Doyle for being one of the true trailblazers in incorporating science into golf instruction. He was one of the first instructors to film each lesson and provide the student with the tape at the end of the session.   

"There's a lot of recent proof that has come out that the best way to learn is through analogies--showing a person similar things that he's done before, like dragging a mop. Ben was way ahead of his time," said 50 Best Teacher Chuck Cook, who started working with Doyle in the mid-1980s. "My whole teaching is built around what I learned from him. The core information--get good impact, on plane with lag--those are my three goals in every lesson I give."

Doyle's influence within the teaching business extended across generations, from Cook, Ness and Gregg McHatton to Brian Manzella, Michael Finney, Michael Jacobs, Tom Stickney and dozens of other nationally-renowned instructors.  

"If you did a teaching tree, Ben's branches would be right there with the best," said fellow 50 Best Teacher Brian Manzella, who made his first trip out to see Doyle in 1987. "He was a true pioneer. Even if you went away from the Golfing Machine, his idea still held--that there's an answer for anything, and there's a way for the average guy to do it. He had it down to the essence."

Despite his influence, Doyle was never recognized on the sectional or national level by the PGA of America and isn't in the teaching Hall of Fame, something Cook calls a "tragedy." Manzella said Doyle's unwillingness to listen quietly to information he thought would hurt players ended up hurting him politically. "They basically re-wrote the rules of the PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit around him, because they were panic stricken that he'd get up and whisper a question that would show that what everybody was teaching was wrong," said Manzella, who published a heartfelt obituary for his mentor on Facebook Wednesday night. "He never got the recognition he deserved." 

But Manzella said Ness framed the devout Christian Scientist's legacy the most appropriately on Tuesday, when word came of Doyle's passing in San Francisco. "He said Ben is in the real Hall of Fame now."

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Does high-altitude-simulation training work?

On paper it seemed like a fair fight: Rory versus Rickie. McIlroy came into this past September's Ryder Cup as the No. 1 golfer in the world, and Fowler was enjoying the best year of his career, having finished no worse than T-5 in all four majors. But by the sixth hole of their singles match, it was over. McIlroy was 5 up and showed no signs of fatigue from having played 70 holes of pressure-packed golf during the previous two days.

fitness-friday-rory-oxygen-mask.jpgWhy did Rory look and play so invigorated? One doctor believes it's because of the way he trains in the gym. McIlroy often runs on a treadmill wearing a high-altitude-simulation training mask (pictured). Known as hypoxia or altitude training, it restricts the flow of air while McIlroy is running sprints and doing other cardiovascular exercise. The goal is to improve endurance by training the body to require less oxygen for muscles to function optimally for longer periods in a sea-level atmosphere. Working with trainer Steve McGregor, McIlroy alternates between 90-second sprints and walking to vary his heart rate, says Dr. Ara Suppiah, a sports-medicine expert whose patients include PGA Tour stars Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker, Henrik Stenson and Hunter Mahan.

"It's a legal performance-enhancer," Suppiah says. "It increases endurance because the oxygen-extracting capacity in the muscles goes up. You don't produce lactic acid as much in those muscles, and when you do, that burning feeling dissipates much quicker."

There has yet to be a definitive scientific answer on whether this type of training works. In 2010, the National Center for Biotechnolgy Information published a report that stated "hypoxia as a supplement to training is not consistently found to be advantageous for performance at sea level." However, many elite athletes are now donning masks or working out in oxygen-deprivation rooms in the hopes of gaining an edge.

"You should not try hypoxia training if you have pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, poor circulation, diabetes, etc.," Suppiah says. "Everyone should be vetted by a doc first."

Regardless of whether you wear the mask, the type of interval training McIlroy does on the treadmill is great for golfers because it improves function of the fast-twitch muscle fibers needed to swing a golf club powerfully.

"Golf is a sport where you need explosive power for a second or two every few minutes, and then you rest," Suppiah says. "This type of training mimics those needs."

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Video: Manny Ramirez whiffs two more times...on the golf course

Manny Ramirez, former perennial all-star for the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, struck out 1,813 times in his long career, 16th on the all-time list.

So perhaps we should not be surprised that he is seen here whiffing a few more times, though the game is golf and the ball is stationary. The occasion was the recent David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic, his annual charity event in the Dominican Republic.

Hey, it’s a hard game.

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News & Tours

Paula Creamer looks like she's really enjoying her honeymoon

Paula Creamer married Derek Heath last Friday (12/13/14 was a hot wedding date) in Windermere, Fla. This week, the LPGA star looks like she's really enjoying her honeymoon in "paradise."

Mrs. Heath... Honeymoon.. @beachbunnyswimwear 👍👙❿ᅬ

A photo posted by Paula Creamer (@paulacreamer1) on

After having numerous tropical island experts weigh in (reading some of the comments), we believe "paradise" is Bora Bora. Creamer pokes fun at her feet tan lines, but you don't post a full-body mirrored selfie of yourself in a bikini if you don't think you're looking pretty good.

Related: Creamer gets married and Rickie and Alexis go to the Bahamas

A month ago, Creamer posted this photo of herself working out ("Sweating for the wedding") in preparation for the big day:


Another quick glance at the comment sections of her two latest photos indicates people are in agreement. Her hard work in the gym has paid off.

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News & Tours

That time sharks invaded an Australian golf course and scared everyone

Between the Australian PGA and the Australian Open, there's been a lot of golf played Down Under recently. So it's only fitting that we return there for Throwback Thursday.

Back in 2011, all the lakes on Carbrook Golf Club in Australia flooded after a heavy storm. Aside from lots of excess water, a group of eight 10-foot-long bullsharks found their way into the pond by the 14th green.

For whatever reason, the course opted not to remove the sharks (it's a salt-water pond), but they did put up a fairly scary sign. They also added a new tournament to the club's schedule: "The Shark Lake Challenge."

Here's the original segment from Sky News:

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Records & Rarities

This local legend just became the oldest golfer to ever make a hole-in-one

At 103, Gus Andreone was already the oldest member of the PGA of America. Now, he's also the oldest golfer to ever record a hole-in-one. had the story of Andreone's latest feat, a hole-in-one on Wednesday at Palm Aire Country Club in Sarasota, Fla. According to the report, Andreone used a driver from 113 yards for his ace on No. 14 at the Lakes Course to break the previous known record held by 102-year-old Elsie McLean in 2007.

Related: Want a hole-in-one? Head to Bend, Oregon

"I hit it solid and the ball then hit the ground about 30 yards from the green and kept rolling, rolling and rolling," said Andreone, who shot 83 on the 4,535-yard layout and earned an $80 skin for the shot. "It fell into the hole, which was cut on the right middle part of the green. Miracles do happen once in a while."


Photo: Bob Denney/PGA

Once in a while is right. Andreone's latest hole-in-one was the eighth of his life. His first ace came all the way back in 1939, meaning he gets one about once per decade. Not too shabby.

Here's a Suncoast News Network report from earlier this year on Andreone, who plays three times a week and has been a PGA member for more than 75 years. You go, Gus!

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