The Doctor Is In And He Wants To See You…Tomorrow

This space has been dedicated to  the “Old Pro” before.  He defines the profession.  I knew that 15 years ago when our paths first crossed but last week he made par from the parking lot.

If you read my previous post on how, after a lifelong love affair with the ancient game, I found myself shooting 90 and caring zero.    It’s not that I stopped liking golf…no it was much worse than that,  I couldn’t care less.

Fast forward a few days and I’m on my way to the PGA Show in Orlando.  I’m just about to Jacksonville when the phone rings.

“Ricky, It’s your Pro.”  Not it’s Mike, but “Your Pro.”

Proey, what’s shakin?”

“What’s shakin’ is I read your BLOG and I need to see you”

“Love to see you Pro, what’s up?”

“If you’ve lost it for golf then that’s my business…I am your Golf Doctor and I want to see you, dig?”

So here it was.  Mike Harmon, the Old Pro, loved by every member at Secession, at least the ones that matter, called me to tell me he was taking my malaise for the dimpled grape to heart…it was “his business”.  Whoa.  The montage that had become my game meant more to him than it did to me…what in the world can you say about that?

He asked me how much of my recent downturn in enthusiasm had to do with how I was playing.  Fair question, it’s probably about 50%.  His prescription (it wasn’t advice) was to swing a weighted club 30 times a day in a specific manner.  He would show me when I saw him…fair enough.

I’m walking the golfer’s candy store trail which is the PGA Show an hour before my Doctor’s appointment when by karma I find myself squarely in the middle of the training aids section of the floor.  I look and look, talk and talk, and am convinced that I have found the gold standard in weighted clubs…of course you have heard of it, most of you own at least one I’m sure, yes… The Orange Whip.

Scared to purchase the Masters of all training clubs before I see my Pro, I take the brochure, supremely confident that Mike will give the all green to purchase.

The appointment came and my excitement waned as my Pro told me to throw away the brochure I had brought on the Orange Whip…he wasn’t interested.

“How many old sand wedges do you have?”  Only about 20 says I.

“Take one and saw it off.  Put it against another and duct tape them together…that’s your weighted club.”

That’s not Old School, that’s just School.

So we set aside a few minutes out of  our busy days and got together.

He cares about my golf game…how cool is that?

I wish I had something to teach him because he showed me something that day.

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Same As It Ever Was

I like Google News…always have.  It gives me headlines from several categories…national news…entertainment, sports, etc.  I can read coverage of the same event  from the Christian Science Monitor and the NY Times…that to me is useful, and cool.

It also helped me figure out why this is the first post on B.I.G in several months.

Quite simply I lost it.  Not that anyone but me really noticed or cared, but the game left me.  I enjoyed playing it only rarely and in circumstances I controlled. Who I played with , what  course, etc. all became far too important.  Slinging a carry bag over my shoulder for nine late in the afternoon was neither appealing or happening.

This morning (Saturday) started about as perfectly as one can.  I woke up early to a quiet house, made some coffee, and settled in to indulge the only addiction I have left…that’s right,  fishing shows.  My particular favorite is Hunt For Big Fish (VS. Network, 7:00 AM) where Larry Dahlberg, a true Minnasotan in every “Hey Stan wutcha eatin’ der ?” sort of way, travels the globe under the guise of catching fish…what he’s really there for is to make fun of the people and the culture he’s exploring…uniquely American.

One Larryism and then I promise to move on.   “The difference between fishin’ for Wolffish in the Amazon and fishin’ for Pike back home is the Pike won’t try to bite your leg off for catchin’ ’em.”

That’s right Virgina, there’s only Rednecks in the South.

Back to Google.  Two stories were directly across from each other.  The first was in US News and was about Scott Brown and his game-changing win in the Massachusetts Senate race. The other was in Sports and reported on Tiger checking into a sex rehab clinic in Mississippi.  How are these related?  Only to me.

You see they both represent badly needed do – overs…resets, restarts.   As a small businessman I know first hand the need for healthcare reform.  My little company’s coverage is adequate and more and more expensive every year. The system needs an oil change.  But I don’t like the rush through it was getting before Christmas from the Obama/Pelosi/Reed squad.  Anything this important needs buy-in from all…not just the majority…my opiniion only.

I  don’t think about healthcare every day.

Golf on the other hand is far more a part of life for me.  I was raised around it, went to college, met my great wife, and take  care of my family  because of it.  Then why over the last few years have I become less and less interested in it?

I think I figured it out.

I don’t blame Tiger Woods.  Repeat, I don’t blame Tiger Woods.  In a hyper-celebrity, media saturated world came along the greatest golfer of all time…sorry Jack fans but that’s just the  facts.  He captivated the world, won majors in dramatic ways, smiled at us, and made almost a billion bucks in the process.  Nothing wrong with that even if it were two bill…I’m a capitalist too.

But what happened to the game is what I mourn.  All of a sudden it wasn’t  little anymore where goobers played $2 Nassaus with their buddies at the muni, grabbed a dog and went home to mow the lawn.  It became million dollar lots on golf courses, $500 greens fees at resorts, drivers that cost as much as a vacation, and Donald Trump.

Well I don’t like Donald Trump.  And I miss the little things that make golf fun…at least I used to.  I’m pretty sure they are going to come back.  The game is shrinking.  That’s not a bad thing.  It’s a good thing.  It will find its natural level again and be better for it.

Fat cats won’t join the latest club on Long Island where you  take a helicopter in to make your tee time. Think for a second about just how sick that sentence is.  They won’t join them, not because they don’t have the money,because there will be plenty of that, but for a much more important reason…it will be unseemly.

We need to get our manners and our perspective back.  And thanks to Tiger’s downfall I think we have a fighting chance.  I hope he comes back and wins 20 more majors…I honestly do.  But it won’t be as important as it once was.

Yes I miss the way it used to be.  But I’m playing at 1:15 tomorrow with three great pals.  We are carrying our clubs and the stakes will be two $6 pitchers of beer…and for the first time in a long time I can’t wait.

Posted in Rants | 8 Comments

The Golf Pro Diaries-The Rebellion Cont’d

plNow Spike Lemon, otherwise known as The Old Pro,  has been the golf professional at Angel Oak for almost a quarter century and in that time has seen some pretty amazing sites on and off the mossy links of AOGC.

Like the time former Governor and 10- time State Am champ M. Tubby LaMoore shot 32 putting with his ball retriever.  You see there was little choice after tomahawking his 8802  into the swamp behind two green.

His victim in that 9 -hole match was club president M.F. Ferris, who later said of the exhibition “Tubby hit it in there tight as Dick’s hatband on every hole and rolled it in with that damned ball retriever…man that was a show!”

Gushed LaMoore after the victory, “ever since I took a lesson from that one-armed blind fella I’ve been hittin’ it purer than a Mama’s love.  Just can’t wait to get up to Pineville and defend the Carolina Four-Ball Dixie Seniors…man the Guv’s gonna bee-devil and bee-guile those choppers.  God Bless America!”

The Rebellion was about to start, the most anticipated event on the club calandar.  All were in high spirits on the eve of the competition, all but new member Porter James that is.

To be continued y’all.

Posted in The Golf Pro Diaries | 4 Comments

Trendy B.I.G.

As all Best In Golf loyalists know, we’re big on trendy here at the ol’ Blog.  If those snappy designs came in a little more athletic sizes (XXL +) we would be a lot moreso, that’s for sure.

Heard from O.O.T.G. (One of the Greats) today…the original…The Wizard of Wilshire.   He was filling me in on this great new company and website getting off the ground out there in the land of whey shakes and sprout burgers…Trendy Golf.

Well if The Wiz gives it one of his boney little thumbs up, that’s good enough for me…check it out.

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Where Did You Learn The Ancient Game?

cornell3 Something strange  and wonderful happpened to me last weekend and I’d like to share it with you.

A wedding in the family, my beautiful and talented niece Rosie was wed…my oldest brother George was the father of the bride.

It was a lovely affair in the countryside of upstate New York…Ithaca to be specific.

Ithaca in many ways is the land that time forgot…at least since the 60’s that is.   No interstates, lots of  old – fashioned dairy stores, and enough ponytails, Birkenstocks,  and Subarus to start your own commune.

It’s also the home of Cornell University and  where I grew up…kind of.

My Dad, George Sr., was an Old Pro (definition here), the Golf Coach and Golf Professional for the “Big Red” from 1937-1972 when he retired.  He was the personification of the club pro of that era.  You see we traveled as a family between Florida and New York loosely on the schedule of the Eastern Goose…that’s how it was done.

When the leaves turned we headed south and when the flowers started blooming it was time to get back to work. My parents would probably be reported to Family Services these days for a lifestyle like that but I’m here to tell you that a little travel and diversity can be a great education for a kid.

Back to my story.  My niece’s wedding was the perfect opportunity to take Michael and David to the place I grew up in the summer…a boy’s road trip. At 14 and 17 they had never been there…I hadn’t been there since college.

When George suggested a game  it was an instant yes.

cornell1I could see the pull carts in the corner and smell the grass.  The little tractor we used to pick  the range with…range balls that were Top Flites, Blue Dots, and smiley Titleists painted with a red stripe.

Cornell University Golf Club, as it was called in my childhood, was Robert Trent Jones’ (Cornell ’30) very first effort.  It has 10 holes (#1-#6, #10-#12, #18) that would stand up anywhere,  just superb.  That’s 18 from the fairway to the right.

September is track time, and while we were playing the cross-country team was training along the perimeter of the golf course…just one of the many quirky things that make college towns so cool.

The highlights were Michael’s drive on number one…none of us could remember seeing a ball that close to the green…and David’s lipout chip for birdie on six.

The chance to walk the fairways where I learned the game  with my boys and a few clubs was pure magic, at least for me.  They on the other hand liked the cheeseburgers at The Moakley House afterward…but that’s OK,  so did I.

So what’s your story?  Where were you when you first learned of the passion and the grief of golf?

Posted in Dads | 3 Comments

Theee Open

djDan Jenkins is on Twitter at The British Open (danjenkinsgd) and here is a sample of his Tweets…that sounds nuts coming from a guy covering his 201st major but you have to love it that he’s grabbed on to the technology. 

In fact with his quicker than my backswing wit you could say Twitter was invented for him.

Here’s a sample:

  • History lesson: Walter Hagen won four British Opens, but he never won a major Bobby Jones played in
  • If you’ve never been to Scotland: Turnberry & Troon, west coast; St. Andrews & Carnoustie, east coast. England down here; Ireland over there
  • In my experience at the Open, the best order of fish-and-chips is when the fish tastes like chips and the chips taste like fish
  • When there’s a lull in British Open action you can keep the mind alert by counting the toenails in your pork pie
  • Is it harder to hit an iron out of heather or swallow a mouthful of haggis? My vote goes to the haggis
  • In earlier days the only thing thicker than heather at a British Open was the nose hair on an R&A official

He’s the original…check it out.

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Every Golf Nut…

…needs to spend the time to watch this.

I’m not in the habit of posting links on B.I.G. but this is something special.  Jim Nantz and Jaime Diaz on the Charlie Rose Show talking about golf, The Open, and Dads. 

It takes a little time to navigate and at times it’s a little pedestrian for golf insiders, but the last two segments are magic and worth your attention.

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