There are certain celebrities who we see regularly in Celebrity Pro Ams like the AT&T at Pebble Beach. But here is a list of Celebrities who have been keeping their games under wraps! Until today. Sam Weinman of Golf Digest has just uncovered 23 celebrities who absolutely love golf. Check it out!
The Olympic star’s golf career has been fruitful enough to land a Golf Digest cover, a Golf Channel show, and anendorsement contract with Ping. “This is a passion that I have and I’m going to do everything I can to improve and get to where I want to be. I have friends that are single-digit and scratch golfers that I would love to be able to compete with,” Phelps told Golf World’s E. Michael Johnson. “I know it is a very challenging sport. It’s the most humbling sport I’ve ever played in my life.”
The former “Friday Night Lights” star was one of several celebrities to play in the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am in Haikou, China in October of 2012. Did she play well? “I’m learning,” Kelly told reporters. “It’s not easy.” At the time Kelly said Ian Woosnam is her favorite golfer — presumably not because she watched endless footage of the 1991 Masters as a little girl, but because Woosnam gave her swing tips during their pairing together in the pro-am.
One of the traditions at the Masters tournament each year is where golfers try to skip their golf balls across the pond on Augusta National’s 16th hole.
How hard is it to accomplish this shot? Let’s turn to the Golf Digest video series called The Sexiest Shots in Golf to watch golf professional Blair O’Neal and also Sports Illustrated swimsuit model& collegiate golfer Kelly Rohrbach perform this shot.
These 2 gorgeous women make it look easy!
Skipping golf balls across water is one of the traditions at The Masters every year, where golfers try to skip their balls across the pond on Augusta National’s 16th hole.
But what does it take to pull off the ball-skipping shot? Just how hard is it to accomplish? For the answer, let’s turn to the Golf Digest video series called The Sexiest Shots in Golf. Blair O’Neal (above) is one of the regulars in that series, and for the ball-skipping video she is joined by Sports Illustrated swimsuit model (and collegiate golfer) Kelly Rohrbach (photo below). No, neither of them is in a bikini in the video, but they are both beautiful, because, well, they can’t not be.
Even as a young man in South Africa, I had heard of the legendary Titanic Thompson. Gambler, golf hustler, accused murderer, and more were monikers attached to this man. Titanic Thompson traveled the USA wagering at cards, billiards, shooting, golf, and more. He had extraordinary eyesight, terrific hand-eye coordination, and was also ambidextrous. The renowned pool player, Minnesota Fats, considered Thompson a genius and “the greatest action man of all time.” His line of ‘work’ attracted a criminal element intent on robbing him, and Titanic killed 4 men in self-defense. There was a fifth death on a boat that the Sheriff deemed ‘iffy’ but Thompson released the deed to the boat and left town, rather than stand trial.
Titanic Thompson didn’t start his golf career until his early 30’s, but his natural physical skills served him well. After taking some lessons in San Francisco and playing a great deal, he became good enough to turn professional. But he replied, when asked if he’d ever turn Pro, “I could not afford the cut in pay.” In the 1930’s, top pro golfers were lucky to make $30,000 in a year and Thompson was making that most weeks, hustling wealthy country club players!
Hall of Fame golfer Ben Hogan traveled with Titanic Thompson in the early 1930’s for money games, and he later called Titanic the best shot-maker he ever saw. “He can play right or left-handed, you can’t beat him!” said Hogan. One of Thompson’s hustles was to beat an opponent playing right-handed and then offer to play the course again left-handed for double or nothing. Usually the opponent was unaware that Titanic was an ambidextrous golfer, so you know how that went!
Many golfers, who later became famous, have left documented accounts of their matches and dealings with this colorful man. These golfers include Bryon Nelson, Sam Snead, Lee Elder, Harvey Penick, Paul Runyon, and Ben Hogan.
Thanks to renowned golf writer Dan Jenkins for his story ‘How I Met the Ultimate Hustler’ in Golf Digest, April 2015.
Of course you all know about the legendary baseball career of Babe Ruth. But how much do you know of his golfing life?
Ruth was 20 when he began to golf in 1915, during his rookie year with the Boston Red Sox. By the 1930’s, Ruth was playing and practicing as often as he could, and became a single-digit handicapper. After his last full season in baseball in 1934, the Babe spent most of his time golfing in New Jersey or in Florida. He told a New York reporter in the late 1930’s, “I played 365 rounds last year. Thank God for whoever invented golf.”
In 1941, Ruth staged his first headline-grabbing charity event with another baseball legend, Ty Cobb. He also created another charity match with himself and Masters champion Jimmy Demaret against Gene Sarazen and former heavyweight champ Gene Tunney. This event drew a boisterous crowd that loved the banter between Ruth and Sarazen, and it even included a live swing band that blasted tunes as the golfers swung.
But the wildest tournament Ruth hosted consisted of hustler and trick-shot artist Laverne Moore, playing with top amateur Sylvia Annenberg, and legendary golfer Babe Didrikson partnering with Babe Ruth. Promoters hoped to sell 6,000 tickets. . . . 12,000 people showed up.
Ruth ignited the crowd by arriving in his Stutz Bearcat car with the carcasses of his recent Canadian hunting trip strapped to his fenders and also slumped in the passenger seat. (a 250lb. Bear in that seat!) Spectators danced on the greens, they pocketed approach shots, they knocked Ruth off his feet, and they stole the tartan right off of a kilt-wearing referee.
At the height of the madness, Babe Didrikson lofted a fairway wood over the 6′ deep crowd encircling the 9th green, and the ball stopped one inch from the cup. Fearing a melee, the promoters declared the match over after 9 holes, with the Babes being the winners.
In this time period, Bobby Jones was the BEST golfer in America, but golf was a minor sport and the galleries were small. Babe changed that when he became the most famous golfer and made it look like fun for the average person, with his hijinks.
The Sultan of Swat, they called him. The Big Bam, the Jovial Giant, the Colossus of Clout, the Behemoth of Bust, the Wizard of Whack. During the Roaring Twenties, when he restored America’s faith in baseball after the 1919 Black Sox scandal, Babe Ruth reached a level of fame that redefined fame. He slugged more home runs than most teams hit. He hobnobbed with war heroes and movie stars who were dazzled to meet him. Crowds thronged railroad crossings just to watch his train go by. In 1923, when the New York Yankees spent a shocking $2.4 million on a new stadium, sportswriters dubbed it “the House that Ruth Built.” In 1930, a reporter asked how a ballplayer could get paid more than the president of the United States. Ruth said, “I had a better year.” The Babe also played some golf.
In fact, Ruth was once the most famous golfer in America. Bobby Jones was the best golfer in Ruth’s day — the game’s superstar — but it was a minor sport then, far behind baseball, boxing, horse racing and college football in popularity. It’s true that Jones drew crowds of thousands while chasing his 1930 Grand Slam, but far more often he played for galleries that would disappoint Briny Baird.
“Jones was a celebrity to golf fans, but there weren’t that many of them,” says Doug Vogel, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research who has spent nearly ten years researching a book about Ruth’s golf game. “In contrast, Babe Ruth was the most famous athlete in the world. He played a big role in making golf a spectator sport in America — arguably, bigger than Jones.”
We’ve grown accustomed to the sight of robust galleries at PGA Tour events. It’s estimated that 50,000 spectators per day attended the men’s 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. A few months earlier, a record 563,008 fans turned the Phoenix Open into golf’s biggest party. In the 1930s, it was Ruth who made the game look like fun, and whose passion for golf not only generated large crowds but motivated millions of average Americans who had never pictured themselves playing the rich man’s sport.
Ruth was 20 when he took up the game in 1915, during his rookie year with the Boston Red Sox. The Sox trained in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a gambling-and-golf mecca where baseball players rubbed shoulders with crime lords like Al Capone and hustlers like Titanic Thompson. The six-foot-two jock whaled at the ball, sometimes snapping the shaft of his driver. He launched 300-yard drives (using wound-rubber Haskell balls, no less) as well as hooks and slices that were still rising as they sailed out of bounds. “With broken clubs and lost balls taken into account, golf is a pretty expensive pastime for Babe Ruth,” quipped one news account. To his credit, he always took his penalty strokes and putted out. No gimmes for the Babe. And he improved in a hurry. Despite his image as a roly-poly powerhouse, he was a terrific athlete and light on his feet.
On January 5, 1920, Ruth was in Los Angeles, playing a round at Griffith Park, when news arrived that after five years with the Red Sox, the team had sold him to the Yankees for $100,000. Three months later he reported to the Yankees’ training camp in Florida but skipped his first practice to play 18. He was falling under the game’s spell, improving from a scattershot hundred-shooter to someone who could occasionally break 80, and discovering that this country-club diversion suited his appetites and talents. A golfer could drain a flask of whisky while playing and eat a hot dog or three between holes — what a game!
In his first year with the Yankees, the 25-year-old Ruth (who pitched for the Sox but was moved to the outfield by the Bombers) batted .376 with 54 home runs. His feats on the links were somewhat less Ruthian. “Everyone saw him as this big, jolly character, but he cared about the game, and it frustrated him,” Vogel says. Once, during a radio interview, the Bambino was talking about his passion for golf when his wife, Claire, chimed in: “And I’ve often heard you come off the golf course saying, ‘Baseball really is a great game!'”
Ruth took lessons from Alex Morrison, a golf guru to the stars who pioneered swing-sequence photos by hanging a lantern from a club swung in a dark-room. “He got better,” says Vogel, “and he could play under pressure. Whenever the Babe teed it up, the papers covered it. He became a single-digit handicapper, but his putting held him back. I discovered one scorecard with a 69 — I think it’s the only time he broke 70.”
By the 1930s, the late years of his baseball career, he played almost daily with Sammy Byrd, a substitute outfielder known as “Babe Ruth’s legs.” Ruth was heavy and gouty by then; Byrd would pinch-run for him. More important to the Babe, Byrd was probably the best golfer ever to play major league baseball. After eight years with the Yankees and Reds, Byrd joined the PGA Tour and won six times. He finished third in the 1941 Masters, fourth in the 1942 Masters, and lost the 1945 PGA Championship in a match-play final against Byron Nelson. During his baseball days he tutored Ruth on the golf course, but it was the Babe who gave Byrd a practice tip golfers still use. During batting practice one day, Ruth tucked a hand towel in his armpit to keep his front elbow close to his chest. Byrd tried the trick, passed it on, and golfers have tucked towels on the driving range ever since.
In 1934, the year of his last full season as a ballplayer, Ruth announced his desire to manage the Yankees. Owner Jacob Ruppert promised the aging icon the job but was just stringing him along, hoping to keep the greatest Yankee loyal to the franchise. In private, Ruppert asked cronies, “How could Ruth manage a team when he can’t manage himself?” The Babe’s reputation as baseball’s Falstaff stuck, despite the fact that he was now a family man, happily ensconced in an Upper West Side apartment with Claire and their two daughters. “I don’t think Mr. Ruppert realizes I have matured,” he fumed to reporters. “I’m a grown man, not the playboy I was in 1919.” Still, he was snubbed again and again. After his retirement in 1935, he’d play 36 holes in New Jersey, then hurry home and ask, “Did the phone ring?” His wife knew what he meant: Did anyone call about a baseball job? She hated telling him no.
“It’s hell to get older,” the Babe said.
Seventy-nine years later, in 2014, I found Julia Ruth Stevens sitting in a quiet, comfortable house in Henderson, Nevada. “Daddy was dying to manage a ball team,” she said. Now 98 and legally blind, Ruth’s surviving daughter can still see “how his face fell when Mother gave him bad news. He was so hurt not to be managing. But he still had his golf. When it got too cold to play in New York and New Jersey, we’d pick up and go to Florida.”
As Ruth told a New York reporter in the late 1930s, “I played 365 rounds last year. Thank God for whoever invented golf.”
In 1939, the 44-year-old Ruth represented Long Island against teams from New Jersey and Westchester County in the annual Stoddard Cup. “This was serious golf,” Vogel says. “The club champions on his side usually carried him because they were good sticks and he was, well, Babe Ruth.” With nine holes to play, Ruth’s squad looked beaten. “Then he reeled off the best nine holes of his life,” Vogel says. “At his best, if his putter was working, he was a scratch player. That day, when it counted, he was better.” The next morning’s New York Times carried a six-column headline: Babe Ruth’s Double Victory Helps Long Island Capture Golf Trophy.
Babe’s golf exploits sometimes drew more attention than he wanted. A year after his Stoddard Cup heroics, Ruth played New Jersey’s Pine Valley for the first time. New York newsmen flocked to the course, and Ruth bet them five dollars apiece that he’d break 90. He shot 85. That evening, celebrating his victory, he called Pine Valley “a pushover” and offered the writers double or nothing. “I’ll break 85 tomorrow,” he said. “Who wants some of that?” Eleven writers anted up, along with a pair of Pine Valley waiters. The next day Ruth was whistling while he swung, looking like a million bucks, when he hooked a shot into the trees on the long, uphill 15th. Several swats sent his ball in several directions. When a playing partner asked if he needed a line to the green, he said, “Hell, I don’t need to know where the green is. Where’s the golf course?” Ten minutes later, putting out for a 12, he had no chance to break 90. He paid off his bets and bought drinks for the house.
“Daddy thought it was funny — the way one bad hole ruined his day,” his daughter Julia recalls. “In baseball, he could strike out and still win the game his next time up.” Ruth liked to say that the main thing in golf was to hit the ball to center field.
In 1941 Ruth staged a headline-grabbing charity event with fellow baseball legend Ty Cobb. Rather than flip a tee for first-tee honors, the old rivals grabbed a driver and played hand-over-hand like sandlot players. Ruth gave the fiery-eyed Cobb a pat on his bald head and got a slightly bemused look for it. Cobb, a fierce competitor and a better putter than the Babe, won two rounds out of three in what he called “the Ruth Cup,” and the victory meant so much to him that he put the trophy over his fireplace.
Another charity match from around that time pitted Ruth and Masters champion Jimmy Demaret against Gene Sarazen and former heavyweight champ Gene Tunney. Sarazen, who mocked the decorous hush that hung over the game, had a kindred spirit in the boisterous Babe. That day, with a festive gallery shouting huzzahs at Connecticut’s Shorehaven Golf Club, Fred Waring and his band blasted swing tunes while the golfers swung. At one point Ruth backed off a putt. He turned to the crowd, cupped his hand around his ear and said, “C’mon, let’s hear it!”
Tin Cup is my favorite golf movie of all time! Yes, Yes, I know Caddyshack is everyone’s favorite movie, but for me, as a golf professional, I understand what Roy McAvoy (played by Kevin Costner) is going through. As Tour Players we all had (or have) our demons, and conquering them is a victory in itself!
Scott Sterling, Golf Expert, tells us about this most famous golf course that made Tin Cup possible.
When asked about important and historic golf courses, your mind might immediately go to the obvious answers like St. Andrews, Augusta and Pinehurst. So many great moments in the game have occurred at those courses that it’s hard to argue their prominence. But what if I told you that one of the greatest moments in golf history occurred at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa in Arizona?
Ever heard of it? Probably not, but you’ve seen it. Tubac hosted the “US Open” depicted in the classic golf movie Tin Cup. Yes, you too can make a 12 on the same hole that Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy pridefully blew his chances at the championship, although in real life that hole is the fourth, not the 18th as shown in the film. If you really want the authentic experience, break all of your clubs – except the 7 iron – on the third hole tee box and play it from there.
The goal is simply not to make a 12
Tubac Golf Resort & Spa is located between Tucson and the Mexican border and is made up of 27 holes of golf and 98 suites, casitas and posadas. The spa is recognized as one of the leading spas in Arizona and features all of the treatments you have come to expect from fine resorts.
The village of Tubac is known as a bohemian village rich in artisans plying their trade, historical sites and culture. The Tumacacori National Historical Park, about four miles away from the resort, contains the ruins of three Spanish colonial missions that date back to the turn of the 18th century.
There are plenty of courses around the world that served as backdrops to golf history, but there are very few that were backdrops to fictional, but equally important, golf history.
Michael Jordan should know. He has experienced fame, fortune and the rigors of a professional sport. But his interesting insight about Tiger Woods’ future in his chosen sport is now playing out to be true. Can Michael’s advice help the struggling Tiger?
Tuesday March 17th, 2015, marks Michael Jordan’s 52nd birthday, which gives us a chance to recognize both his basketball career (apparently he was pretty good), and his statesman-like standing within the game of golf.
When he’s not burning people on Twitter, or trying to entice the President into another money match, Jordan’s actually an astute observer of all things golf, especially when it comes to Tiger Woods, with whom he was quite close early in Woods’ career. Like this, for example, which Jordan told Golf Digest’s Bob Verdi in 1998 that looks very prescient in hindsight:
We talk a couple of times a week on the phone. But not a whole lot about golf. I guess he looks at me as kind of a big brother, which is fine. He’s got a lot to deal with. He’s 22 years old, but people want to project him to be older. Just because he hits the ball nine miles and wins the Masters by 12 strokes, he’s supposed to have all the answers. He’s supposed to be perfect. That’s not fair, but he’ll be fine. He’ll deal with it. . . . Don’t forget, though: A lot hit him in a short time. His first instinct at being in the spotlight was to become a recluse. Well, that’s wrong. Believe me, I know. You can’t just go to the golf course and when you’re done, go back and lock yourself in your hotel room. I’ve been there; it’s miserable. You can’t just stare at the TV. You lose your sense of society. You’re not living life. My God, he should be having fun doing what he’s doing. . . . The more he learns to relax with his job, the more he’ll enjoy it, and the better he’ll become.
Jamie Sadlowski, a two-time winner of the Amex World Long Drive Championship, joined forces with Callaway and Dude Perfect to produce one of the best trick shot compilations I’ve seen.
Besides smashing various things with a golf ball…. I particularly liked the Captain America shot and the sleeve of golf balls shot…. Jamie performs target shots. Check out the one where he is on an aircraft carrier.
The subject of gay and lesbian members at golf clubs has been a hotly debated issue for many years now. As more and more “come out” and openly declare their sexual preferences, sometimes, after that membership has been approved, the question is “How well are they being accepted by the membership?” The news is encouraging.Roger Hockenberry has done a great job of describing what he and his partner David went through in search of a club they would like to join. I’m glad that they have found one that meets their needs and are playing golf and having fun!
by Roger Hockenberry
Posted: Wed Mar. 4, 2015
I like Patrick Reed. His swagger. His talent. His cherubic good looks. But when late last year microphones caught Reed uttering a gay slur after he missed a short putt, I was disheartened, if not all that surprised. After all, the f-word isn’t exactly uncommon.
The incident and ensuing uproar made me think not only about the absence of openly gay players on the PGA Tour but also about my own experience as a gay golfer: Did I putt like a f-ggott? Was I effectively a one-man gay pride parade every time I teed it up? And why are my partner David and I the only openly gay men we know with a golf club membership?
That last question especially interests me.
I took up golf at 39, when I became a partner at a large consulting firm near Washington, D.C. Our company, where David is also a partner, was hosting a scramble, and I wanted to show my support by participating. I’m athletic; I used to play lacrosse competitively. How hard could golf be? That misguided thinking led me to our local golf shop where a persuasive saleswoman talked me into $3,000 worth of clubs. (I was officially all in!) I picked up some new duds, too, because if my game wasn’t going to look good, I sure as hell was.
The golf bug bit me hard. Despite flubbing virtually every shot at the outing, I wanted to play more. A lot more. David was amused. After my equipment splurge, he looked at me and said, “If you’re spending that much, you are going to play.”
“If I’m playing, so are you,” I said.
A loyal partner and fierce competitor, David couldn’t resist. He dashed out and bought his own clubs. That was almost seven years ago, and so began an adventure that will last the rest of our lives.
The Search for a Club
Neither David nor I ever imagined we’d join a golf club. We both come from blue-collar backgrounds — country clubs just weren’t in our DNA. Besides, what club would welcome in a same-sex couple? We pressed on, though, motivated mostly by economics. At the time we were playing four to six times a month. Green fees and travel expenses were a significant investment. Also, we weren’t playing enough to truly improve. A club membership, we reasoned, would allow us to save money, play more and — who knows? — maybe find more golfers like us.
We live in Arlington, Va., right outside Washington, D.C., a hotbed for golf clubs. Financially, not much was off limits to us. Our priority was finding a spot near our home that offered amenities beyond golf. We toured many clubs, some nationally renowned. We listened to pitches, zipped around properties on golf carts, and inquired about initiation fees and waiting lists (10 years and a non-refundable down payment? Are you serious?!).
At the end of each meet-and-greet, we’d ask a simple question, “How do you deal with us?”
The response would generally come in the form of awkward “ah-hems,” restless shifting in seats and the occasional mumbled “Sorry, what do you mean?” When our search began, we’d agreed not to disparage clubs that rejected us for being gay. After all, private clubs are by nature self-selecting associations, and while their homogeneity has undoubtedly contributed to their long-term struggles, we weren’t on a crusade. We simply wanted to find a membership that would embrace us.
Several clubs subtlety refused us or said that we could each join as single members, which would require us to pay twice the dues, fees and initiation. That hardly seemed fair. But that’s the thing with private clubs—they can make arbitrary rules that are difficult to challenge. We walked away from those clubs wiser, if somewhat despondent. Perhaps we needed to reassess our strategy and wait for clubs to catch up with modern times, assuming they survived that long.
Then we visited Army Navy Country Club.
ANCC, as it’s known, was established in 1924 and has two campuses: one in Arlington, near the Pentagon, and another in the nearby suburb of Fairfax. At the time, the club was undergoing a major renovation of both its clubhouse and course (some of the 54 holes were designed by Donald Ross) with the goal of revitalizing its membership. ANCC was perfect. It was just two miles from our home, we felt comfortable there and it already had a number of gay members, if not openly gay members.
David and I are quite “out.” We don’t hide our relationship from anyone and have no interest in assuming a lifestyle that would force us to do so. We knew that if we joined ANCC, we would be outliers, the only truly openly gay couple. We had to be certain that we could handle the heat if we inadvertently created an “issue” for the club. After two weeks of weighing the pros and cons, we decided that we wanted in.
When the paperwork cleared and we were officially approved as members, the darndest thing happened: The earth didn’t open and swallow the club in a hail of fire and brimstone. We weren’t met at the gates by a pitchfork-toting mob. Our initiation was remarkably… unremarkable. That was nearly three years ago.
Life as a Gay Member
As new members, we felt that it was important to be seen and to be active — to help demystify what it means to be gay. David and I prepared ourselves for the inevitable microscope and decided that for the first few weeks we’d “man” up our appearances a bit. With new, tightly cropped haircuts and more conservative clothes (yep, polos and khakis), we entered into country-club life.
In our first round at ANCC, we were paired with an affable retired one-star general who had served in Iraq. On what was our 16th hole, David skulled a chip that hit the general squarely in the chest. He took it well but hasn’t played with us since. I’d like to think that’s because of our shaky swings and not because of our orientation. A week or so later we encountered a fuller measure of country-club life when we were paired with an older gentleman who still played with persimmon woods. It was a Sunday morning and, as is customary, the pace was a bit slow. The man, probably in his 70s, glared at the group ahead of us and remarked with disgust, “That wouldn’t have happened in my day.”
The foursome was all women
In his day, he explained, spouses (read: women) were not permitted to play before 11 a.m. We didn’t have the heart to tell him our situation.
Our first real “issue” came a few months later. During a busy holiday weekend, David and I were playing as a threesome with a new friend. In the middle of the round, David chipped his ball over a green and into some woodchips. A player in the group ahead picked up the ball and slipped it into his bag. When I asked for the ball back, he became agitated, explaining that he had “waved” the ball in the air. Because no one claimed it, he contended, it was his to keep. After a few more moments of heated discussion about just “wanting to have a nice day” with his daughter who was home from college, he hurled the ball at David. Uncertain of the ruling, we allowed David to play the ball as it lied without penalty and went on our way.
After the round, another retired one-star general (there are many at ANCC) confronted us and demanded to know what had happened and why we had used profanity. David chirped up: “This gentleman was totally in the wrong. He picked up a ball in play and wouldn’t return it. Aren’t my partner and I entitled to enjoy our round at least as much as this member and his daughter, or does that only apply to straight people?”
After a moment of perplexed calculus, the general quickly retreated.
Being gay in the golf world is an odd dynamic. A couple of months ago, David and I took a road trip through the South. Our last stop was at a well-known golf resort where we had booked a single room with a king bed. Shortly before arriving, I called to confirm the reservation and learned that the hotel had changed our request to two full beds. They hadn’t realized we were a couple.
“But we are a couple…” I began.
They told us they would amend the reservation, but when we checked in we discovered the booking was still for two beds. I don’t believe there was any malicious intent. I just think the notion of a gay couple on a golf trip was more than they could process.
Back at the club, David and I have made great friends, and others who turned out not to be the kind of friends we’d hoped for. (Note to those of you who like the idea of having a token “gay friend”: We are not something to be collected.) On the course, we’ve encountered no other major issues beyond the latent homophobia that permeates most sports. It’s disturbing how frequently I hear male golfers calling themselves a “fag” or a “Mary” for leaving a putt short.
David and I have made a game of seeing how long it takes our golf partners to figure out our relationship. Golf talk with strangers typically begins with questions about marriage, kids, dogs, where you live. As David and I respond with the same answers, one after another, our playing partners eventually catch on, usually somewhere between the 9th and 13th holes. We’ve had only a few partners quit on us at the turn, having suddenly “remembered” a previously scheduled appointment. Some members have really engaged with us, but most couldn’t care less who we are as long we don’t hold up play.
Why Golf Clubs Should Loosen Up
Private golf clubs in America are struggling. According to the National Golf Foundation, private club memberships are down on average 13% since their peaks and rounds are down 17%. Many clubs are cemented in a bygone era and haven’t made enough of an effort to enter the new millennium. “Build it and rich white people will come” seems to be a mantra that they can’t get past, even though it’s no longer a sustainable business model.
For clubs to thrive and remain relevant in our society, they should aim to attract a wider range of members and establish ecosystems that will allow them to prosper. Our club, for example, has made a concerted effort to attract a younger and more diverse membership. We’ve redone the clubhouse, added tennis courts and junior tennis courts, along with more outdoor space. There’s talk of expanding the swimming facilities and re-doing the secondary clubhouse in Fairfax. The average age of our membership has dropped from the late 60s to the 50s.
David and I made a great choice. We love the game and we’ve come to love our club despite the occasional hiccups. We’ve shaken things up and altered how at least a few people think. Or at least we hope have. We’ve even helped a few closeted gay members come out at the club without fear; one member, an Annapolis grad, told us he didn’t add his partner as a “spouse” or “guest” member lest people learned that he was gay. We’ve also acted as a sounding board for members with gay children. Perhaps what these members see in us is that their kids can do or be anything. They can work for the CIA, run a business, or, yes, even join a golf club.
To Love and be Loved. Gay Liberation in New York City.
ltimately, though, David and I don’t want to be seen as trailblazers or pot-stirrers. We simply want our fellow members to see us for exactly who we are: two guys who are crazy about golf.
Tiger is getting older, as we all are, and with time comes wisdom. Tiger is putting his priorities in order and I think this will put him in a more relaxed and a more “quiet” place in his mind. Jack Nicklaus went through the same thing. When his kids came along he found it difficult to manage his golfing time and his family time and it showed in his game. As soon as he was able to prioritize his commitments he came back strong. This is what I think will happen to Tiger in the near future. Here is Brendan Mohler of GOLF.com’s take on the “New Tiger”
Sean Foley, Tiger Woods’ former instructor and as insightful a mind as any on tour, spoke favorably Tuesday at the Honda Classic about Woods’ desire to trade time spent practicing for time spent with his children.
“Compared to when I started working with him,” Foley told the Toronto Sun, “I’d say he’s in a far better place with that.”
Foley is learning firsthand just what that’s like. With two young sons of his own, Foley, like Woods, has scaled back his workload. The 40-year-old instructor said he is now limiting himself to three players, and in years past he was so overworked that he often mixed up the names of his students. According to the Toronto Sun, Foley admits that the baggage associated with coaching the world’s top player (and arguably most recognizable athlete) took a toll on him more so than the long hours logged with Woods on the range.
At this point, both Woods and Foley seem to be feeling the effects of the tremendous time and efforts each has spent honing their craft. They’re also experiencing a new source of satisfaction and accomplishment that is more fulfilling and less momentary than hoisting a trophy.
“If you win a tournament, it feels good, but you go home and your kid takes a bee-line at you and jumps in your arms that just feels better,” said Foley. “So I’m sure, as we all get older, we all have this kind of discussion with ourselves. And I’m sure [Tiger’s] had that.”
In February Woods acknowledged that he’s spending less time practicing now than ever and more time with his kids: “I just have to manage my time practices differently. Over the years, especially now that they’re getting a little older where they’re getting more activities after school, that plays a role in my practice time and it’s just life. It’s just the way it is. I would much rather have it that way than not be able to see my kids.”
Priorities for both Woods and Foley are changing, and Foley has admiration for Woods’ public disclosure of that fact.
“The golf world doesn’t want that, but he’s my friend, and to watch him with his kids, he’s easily one of the most patient fathers I have ever seen,” said Foley.
“My hat’s off to him because I think he’s seeing things for how they matter, and if that upsets the golf world, then so be it.”
It seems as though Foley attributes Tiger’s recent woes not to injury or a lack or trying, but rather to Woods’ changing views on what’s important in life. Does Tiger even want to return to top form? Regardless, Foley hasn’t ruled out Tiger rediscovering the kind of play his fans are longing for.
“He’s Tiger Woods. If he wants to, he will. It’s that simple.”
We all know that former NBA Star Charles Barkley loves to golf, even though his swing is so bad it makes everyone laugh.
Charles is a good sport about his shortcomings in golf, and he also gives generously of his time to charity tournaments. This clip shows his driver breaking on the first hole of The Regents Tradition tournament in Shoal Creek, Alabama in 2011. In this Champions Tour event, Fuzzy Zoeller was Barkley’s partner.
For priceless, hilarious reactions by Barkley, Zoeller, and the television crew from ‘Inside the NBA,’…