Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Berlitz LPGA Tour

Looks like the LPGA is trying to line up Berlitz and Rosetta Stone as its new sponsors. What else can they be thinking with the announcement that the women’s tour is requiring its members to learn and speak English by the end of 2009 or risk losing their playing privileges? All players who have been on the LPGA Tour for two years will have to pass an oral evaluation of their English. LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens informed the players of the policy this week. Clearly, the LPGA is concerned about the preponderance of South Korean players on its tour and how they relate – or don’t relate – to U.S. golf fans. I recall seeing a leader board at one LPGA tournament this summer that read like the Seoul phone book: Kim, Lee, Park, Lee, Kim. Mr. Fairway agrees that the LPGA needs to address the influx of Asians on its tour but making them learn English is a bit much, especially when it’s not clear whether they have any personality in the first place. And what about the Swedes? Do they have to learn English, too? What about those LPGA events in South Africa, Singapore and Mexico? Will players be required to speak the native languages of those countries in order to compete? Will players who don’t speak French be allowed to enter the Women’s Canadian Open? Man, I hope the PGA Tour doesn’t follow suit on this one. There is some question whether Boo Weekley can even speak English, much less Spanish (Mayakoba Golf Class in Cancun), French (Canadian Open) or Arabic (Dubai Desert Classic). Who is going to teach Brad Faxon and Tim Herron to talk Texan so they can play in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio?

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Donna Caponi.

Azinger Has Choices

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger will announce his four choices to fill out the American team after this week’s tournament. The top candidates haven’t exactly distinguished themselves in the weeks since the PGA Championship. Steve Stricker was bumped from automatically qualifying for the team when Ben Curtis had a strong PGA and Boo Weekly finished ahead of him. Stricker bounced back with the 36-hole lead as he defended his Barclay’s championship but ballooned to a 77 in the third round. Sticker should make the team based on his putting and a nice record in last year’s President’s Cup. Woody Austin is next on the points list but his putting is atrocious and Azinger would be wise to look elsewhere. There is a lot of sentiment for Rocco Mediate who stunned himself and the golf world by taking Tiger Woods to a playoff in the U.S. Open. He certainly would be a sentimental choice. J.B. Holmes is a big bomber who could do well at Valhalla. Hunter Mahan got hot briefly and also had a nice President’s Cup where he teamed well with Stricker. If Azinger wants the young guns, Mahan and Brandt Snedeker would be good choices. David Toms can’t be overlooked, either as the veteran has played better of late. Mr. Fairway thinks Azinger will select Stricker, Mahan, Holmes and Mediate.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Duden.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Golf Is Not An Olympic Sport

As the Olympics wind down, it’s time to address the question of whether golf should be included in future games. Mr. Fairway’s view is that golf should not be included in the Olympics. First, golf is not an Olympic sport. I know that those who support putting golf in the Olympics will point out that the games now include tennis, BMX, beach volleyball, gymnastics with a ribbon and a host other questionable “sports.” But how does adding golf to the Olympics add anything to the games and become anything more than just another tournament? How many holes – 36, 54, 72? Would it be a team event or an individual event? How do you qualify? Amateurs or pros – probably all pros as is the case in every other sport in the games including basketball, tennis and swimming. Do you really want to watch four guys from Jamaica play golf? So Tiger Woods would win a golf medal. That’s nice for him. The professionals already complain about having to play in the Ryder Cup and the President’s Cup without getting paid. How do you think they would react to playing in the Olympics? With the major tournaments, the world golf events, international competitions, etc., golf really doesn’t need the Olympics. Just say no to golf in the Olympics.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Simon Hobday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Handy Dandy Rules Book

Mr. Fairway recently received a nifty little golf rules book that includes simple language and easy to understand illustrations for the most common situations encountered on the course. Golf Rules Quick Reference by Yves C. Ton-That is a plastic-coated spiral bound flip guide that fits easily into your golf bag. The back cover has a nice little chart that illustrates procedures for loose impediments, movable obstructions, immovable obstructions and abnormal ground conditions for questions covering fairway and rough, bunkers, water hazards and the green. The chart purports to cover 80 percent of golfers' rule questions. The inside pages cover most of the rules and procedures including drops, provisional balls, the teeing ground, identifying balls, lost balls, out of bounds, water hazards, unplayable lies, advice, etc. and the situations indicate the penalties in stroke play and match play. Mr. Fairway is putting this in his golf bag and recommends that you invest $9.95 and do the same. Check it out at http://www.golfrulesmadeeasy.com/.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ted Purdy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Orville Moody R.I.P.

Orville Moody, the former Army sergeant who won the 1969 U.S. Open, died recently at the age of 74. Moody was one of those unknown golfers who came out of nowhere to claim the U.S. Open and then disappeared into obscurity. Moody's victory over Deane Beman, Al Geigberger and Bob Rosburg was considered a fluke because nobody had ever heard of him. He bounced around the PGA Tour with little success, partly because he was horrible with the putter. One writer recalled that he only needed two putts from 25 feet to win the Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach over Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd in 1973 but three-putted and lost in a playoff. He soon went to the long putter and his career was reborn when he turned 50 and proved he was not just a flash in the pan by winning 11 tournaments on the senior tour, including the U.S. Senior Open. Then he disappeared again and yes, he was one of Mr. Fairway's first "whatever happened to" players.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mark Hayes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Match By Mark Frost

Mr. Fairway is at the beach this week and while lolling in the sun finished reading The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever by Mark Frost. The book chronicles an 18-hole challenge at Cypress Point between a team of pros Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson and top amateurs Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward. Two millionaires – Eddie Lowery (who caddied for Francis Ouimet) and George Coleman – made the bet on the eve of Bing Crosby’s 1956 pro-am at Pebble Beach. Frost, who also wrote about Ouimet’s 1913 U.S. Open victory (The Greatest Game Ever Played), offers a detailed account of duel interspersed with interesting background on the players and their relationships. Hogan was in his prime and Nelson had already retired to this ranch in Texas. Venturi had yet to turn pro and Ward was the most decorated amateur of the time. This is a great read that was especially interesting to Mr. Fairway because it brought back many memories of his round at Cypress Point a decade ago. Mr. Fairway’s only quibble is that the subtitle is a quite a stretch of literary license. But it’s a wonderfully written book that offers nice historical context to the rise in popularity of professional golf.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Carl Paulson.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Arnold Palmer Wine

The only thing Mr. Fairway knows about wine is that if the bottle doesn't have a screw top or come in a box, it must be pretty good. He was shopping at his local grocery store last week and noticed that the Arnold Palmer Chardonnay (retail $15 per bottle) was on sale. Always a big fan of The King (not Elvis, although Mr. Fairway likes him, too), he purchased two bottles. Arnold Palmer Chardonnay is now the official chardonnay of Mr. Fairway. It's not Chalk Hill by any stretch of the imagination, but Mr. Fairway loves the robust, oaky flavor of Arnie's chard and is looking forward to trying his Cabernet Sauvignon. Try it, you'll like it.

By the way, Palmer is not the only golfer to get into the wine business. Greg Norman, Nick Price, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, David Frost and Mike Weir all have their own wine labels. Mr. Fairway may try them in the future, but for now he is staying loyal to The King.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bret Ogle.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wie Shoots 80 for 0-8

Michelle Wie's latest attempt to make a cut in a PGA Tour event ended with rounds of 73-80 at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, marking the eighth time she is MC in a men's tour event. Message to Michelle: Enough already; hang it up; end the fantasy that you can play with the big boys. She missed the cut by eight shots in an event that included such "legends" as Guy Boros, Lance Ten Broeck (who most recently has been a caddie), Barry Jaekel, Scott Gump and Spike McRoy.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Danielle Ammaccapane.