For the 31 we lost in 2016 – Thanks for the Memories!

As each year passes we mourn the loss of loved ones, people we knew or people we did not know personally but knew through the magic of television.  Many became heros, some became legends!  To all of those who touched our lives in more ways than they will ever know, thank you so much!  RIP, 2016! Thanks also go to  of Golf Digest who reminds us that all things must pass.
A King, a General, and a Bull died in 2016, but he was one and the same with a distinctly singular name, Arnie. Known by those titles (yes, Bull was early and lesser known), when golf immortal Arnold Palmer passed away on Sept. 25 at age 87 from heart issues, it was more than just the death of the year. It was the end of the game’s focal point for the last 60. If golf history ages well from this point on, Arnie will certainly remain as vibrant and as much of a measuring stick of how a pro golfer interacts with the public as he ever did. Yet it is a real dilemma we are just now starting to comprehend: How will golf go forward without the Golfer of the People and what his presence meant to the game? A seven-time major champion, Palmer was the reason golf exploded out of the elitist realm it lived in to be a populist sport. He did it by a combination of a bold, spirited performance on the course with a touchy-feely hold on the fans. He made the game feel fun because you could sense he felt it permeate his spirit right down to the blood rush he’d get on both great and poor shots. Palmer was iconic in so many ways: his connection with the Masters, his place among the Big Three and his 1960 U.S. Open charge. He was Ike’s pal, an expert pilot and an advertising giant, a matinee idol, a course designer and a charity leader. He helped revive the Open Championship and made hitching your pants a thing. He knew from epic losses, proudly called Latrobe his home and Winnie his wife, had a drink named for him and an Army that stood at attention wherever he played.
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All of it is familiar because he let it be so, his openness to the world a result of traits he learned from his mother but the toughness and determination from his Pap. Palmer enjoyed it all and wouldn’t have changed his life path to gain a few more majors if it meant losing fans. He will endure in the minds of all golfers present and future as the most beloved golfer in history. A king whose realm wasn’t walked but felt in the heart. Other deaths of notable golf personalities in 2016 include: Jules Alexander, 90, Aug. 19: The notable golf photographer whose best known images were of Ben Hogan, beginning with the 1959 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, but whose career also lasted through Tiger Woods. Phil Cannon, 63, Oct. 27: Volunteered at the Memphis PGA Tour stop at age 14 and stayed involved with the event for much of his life, working as tournament director from 1999-2015. Dawn Coe-Jones, 56, Nov. 12: An LPGA player from 1984 to 2008, Coe-Jones won three times on tour, had 44 career top-10 finishes and is a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
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2003 Getty Images
Dawn Coe-Jones
Steve Cohen, 76, Aug. 12: Founder of the Shivas Irons Society nearly 25 years ago, created based on the book Golf in the Kingdom. Bob Cupp, 76, Aug. 19: A former president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the 1992 Golf World magazine Golf Architect of the Year, he designed courses for 40 years, including Liberty National, Pumpkin Ridge and Old Waverly. Jack Davis, 91, July 29: A prolific illustrator who worked for decades at Mad magazine and who did work for magazines such as Time and Golf Digest, where his style was used to illustrate unusual feats. Manuel de la Torre, 94, April 24: The Spanish-born teaching legend and son of Spain’s first golf professional, Angel de la Torre, Manuel was a constant presence on the Golf Digest list of 50 Best Teachers since the inaugural group in 1999. De la Torre attended Northwestern and settled in as a longtime fixture at Milwaukee Country Club, becoming well known for teaching amateurs and stars alike, notably Carol Mann and Loren Roberts. He is a member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame.
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Manuel de la Torre
Dwight Gahm, 96, March 7: The founder of Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, who hired Jack Nicklaus to design the course and has a statue of himself and the Golden Bear at the club. Rudolph (Hubby) Habjan, 84, July 5: A PGA member since 1955, he was the noted golf pro at the Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest, Ill., and the creator of highly sought custom-made golf clubs. Thomas Hartman, 69, Feb. 16: The monsignor, who with Rabbi Marc Gellman was part of “The God Squad,” often appeared at golf events, he would be the straight man in their religious dialogue. Peggy Kirk Bell, 95, Nov. 23: One of the greatest women’s figures in golf history, she starred as an amateur standout before becoming a renowned teacher, owner of the Pine Needles resort and an advocate for women in the game. Among her honors was the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in 1990.
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Peggy Kirk Bell
Bill Kratzert Jr., 87, Aug. 21: A PGA member since 1960, he was the father of tour players Bill Kratzert III and Cathy Kratzert Gerring and was the longtime head pro at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Country Club. John Margolies, 76, May 26: A legendary photographer of vernacular architecture, his 1987 book Miniature Golf is a treasure of golf nostalgia. Hubert Mizell, 76, March 3: Writer and columnist who worked for the St. Petersburg Times for 27 years, and in 1973-1974 was an Associate Editor at Golf Digest; he wrote 23 pieces in all for the magazine.
To see the rest of this prestigious list – go here! Source:   Golf Digest Pictures: Getty Images

Without Old Tom Morris, would we have had this wonderful game?

I have always loved and respected the history of golf.  One of my favorite books on golf is Tommy’s Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf’s Founding Father and Son by Kevin Cook.  If you love reading and love golf then this is a must read for you.  It puts into clear perspective the way professional golf started and began the great journey of competitive golf and playing for money.  Mark Donaghy  of Golfwrx gives us a great insight on those early days and what a profound impact Old Tom Morris had on our most beloved game.  

The Grandfather of Golf: Old Tom Morris

 I don’t normally do requests, but a GolfWRX reader asked me to consider penning an article featuring Old Tom Morris.
I was lucky enough to be a member of the New Club in St. Andrews for a few years while I worked in Edinburgh in the 1990s. The club and the town hold fantastic memories for me, and I considered my time playing there to be a privilege. Just by being in St. Andrews you get a sense of history. Golf is in the blood; it is part of the fabric of the town. The game that is now played all around the world really stemmed from here, and we have Tom Morris to thank for that. He didn’t invent the game, but you would be hard pressed to find an individual who made such an impact. So I feel like I have a link to the town and the man, who spent a lot of his later life in the New Club. Imagine working a 12-hour day, including some heavy laboring, digging out gorse, humping sand from the beach, mowing the greens, repairing clubs, making golf balls, giving lessons and then acting as starter for some foursome matches and allocating caddies. Sounds like a busy day, right? But then imagine playing three rounds of golf the very next day (12-hole rounds) to win The Open. Well that’s what Tom Morris did in the 1864, beating 15 other competitors at Prestwick in the fifth British Open. The prize then was £6, a good return when you considered the average annual wage was just twice that. But you can bet Old Tom was back at work the next day. In fact, that seemed like the norm for the average club professional back then. There was little glamour and a lot of hard work.
To read the rest of this facinating story of Old Tom Morris, go here! Source : Mark Donaghy   Golfwrx

Ted Ray was the early John Daly. They obviously didn’t throw away the mold!

The original triumvirate was Ted Ray (pictured above), Harry Vardon (pictured below) and James Braid.  The real character in that group was Ted Ray, who was an early day John Daly, as he loved to hit the ball hard, play for lots of money, and generally have a good time.  (Sound familiar?)  They don’t make them like that anymore,  says Mark Donaghy of golfwrx.com
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Ted Ray was a US Open & British Open Champion and remembered for being part of the playoff in 1913 with Vardon and Ouimet An interesting look at a golf swing from 100 years ago. My question is how did they swing in coats and jackets in those days?
Colorful personalities on the professional tours have become a very rare thing these days. Occasionally, characters like Seve and John Daly have come along and added a bit of personality to what can only be otherwise classed as the somewhat boring, stereotypical golfer profile. Today, Bryson DeChambeau with his Hogan hat and outlandishness is about as entertaining as it gets. It seems that the media has played a big role with golfers keeping their heads down. Showing a personality or having an opinion nearly always ends in trouble for the player. It seems that our forefathers in this game had much bigger personalities, and worried less about what the world thought of them.
One of the biggest and most colorful characters of the game was the Englishman Ted Ray. Born Edward Rivers Ray in 1877, Ted was one of several top players to come from the Isle of Jersey, off the coast of England. He followed his idol Harry Vardon into professional golf, and became one of the top players of his time over a 30-year period. He was probably best known for his role in the 1912 U.S. Open, playing with Harry Vardon in a playoff along with the historic winner Francis Ouimet. You may recall Ray portrayed in the Disney movie “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” In one of the scenes, he was depicted in a bar fulfilling a drunken bet to drive a ball through a telephone directory, which of course, he duly obliged. Ray was a towering, stocky man who was known for his prodigious power off the tee (think John Daly). He had a philosophy reflected in the advice he once gave a golfer who wanted to hit the ball farther: “Hit it a bloody sight harder, mate!” He favored an attacking style (think Phil), and had to develop phenomenal recovery skills to be able to compete (think Seve). He played with a pipe invariably clenched between his teeth, and usually wore a felt trilby hat, plus fours, waistcoat and flapping jacket, making him a good target for the cartoonists of the day. And he only had six clubs in his bag, including the driver and putter; so that only left four irons, his favorite of which was his niblick (his wedge). He developed a reputation for the ability to play a variety of niblick shots in a major tournament conditions, and his recoveries with that club from seemingly impossible places had to be seen to be believed. TedRayGolfDonaghy
To read the rest of this interesting story on Ted Ray, including video footage of his powerful swing, go here! Source : GolfAus    Golfwrx  Mark Donaghy Pictures : Secret in the Dirt  Golfwrx

One of the most famous scorecards in golf!

Wow, when I saw this article by  of Golf Digest I just had to share!  Look at the signatures on that scorecard, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Norman Von Nida and Georgia golfer Charles Harrison!  This has to be one of the most famous scorecards in golf! Not only did Charles have the privilege of playing with the game’s greats, he beat them soundly!  As they say in the south “He opened up a can of whoopa**”  I hope he also kept the $35 he plucked from Hogan’s pocket!  That should be in a frame along with the scorecard.  Congratulations Charles Harrison, you are my idol!

Charles Harrison is a Georgia golf icon, a career amateur who is in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. He qualified for the U.S. Amateur 16 times and played in two Masters.

Harrison has had many memorable moments in golf, but maybe none as impressive as the round he played at Augusta National on April 1, 1960. It was the Friday before Masters week and he was playing a practice round with Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Australian professional Norman Von Nida.

On Thursday, the website ClassicGeorgia posted on Instagram a photo of the scorecard from that round. It shows Harrison shooting a 65 and beating Palmer by eight shots, Hogan by seven and Von Nida by nine.

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To see the rest of this interesting article on the match, go here!

Source :   Golf Digest 

Picture : ClassicGeorgia

Who are the Top 10 Putters who ever lived? #8 is my pick!

I was fortunate enough to play quite a lot of golf with Bobby Locke when I was the assistant pro at Observatory Golf Club just outside Johannesburg.  I still feel that Bobby was the best putter that ever lived and even in those days when his career was well over, he could still putt like a champion!  It was an honor and a privilege to know him.  DEREK CLEMENTS of Swing by Swing brings us their take on the Top 10 Putters of all time.  Check it out!
  We all love to see a top professional bombing it 340 yards from the tee or crunching a fairway wood to the heart of a par five. We love it when a long iron is rifled to a putting surface and finishes ten feet away, and we look on in awe as one wedge shot after another bangs into the surface and screws back to a couple of feet. But it is all about what happens when they get on the greens. If you CAN’T PUTT then you CAN’T WIN. We take a look at ten of the greatest putters the world has seen.

10. Bob Charles

In an era when most top golfers used a wristy putting stroke, Charles was one of the first to work out that if you took your wrists out of the putting stroke, your results were likely to be far more effective. He was effectively one of the first world-class golfers to use a perfect pendulum action, and the left-hander quickly established himself as one of the best putters in the business. He used a Golden Goose center-shafted putter for years and was simply deadly with it. And it didn’t matter whether he was playing on fast or slow surfaces. Well into his seventies now, he is still one of the greats.

9. Billy Casper

Much is made of pre-shot routines and anybody who thinks it is a product of the modern game should try to dig out footage of Casper in his prime. He had a routine and he never, ever deviated from it. And he never had anything less than 100% faith in his ability to hole out. When he won the US Open in 1959, beating Ben Hogan, Casper never fretted when he missed a green. He chipped and single-putted time and time again. Casper used his left wrist as a hinge and pinned his upper arms to his body to eliminate any extra movement.

8. Bobby Locke

Anybody who ever saw Bobby Locke play will know that he hit EVERYTHING from right to left. No player ever had a more controlled draw than the South African. He also hit the ball low, which is why he enjoyed so much success in The Open championship – his game was made for links golf. He holed everything he looked at in Britain, and he didn’t do too badly in the United States either… In his first 59 events, Locke finished in the top three 30 times, and also won the 1948 Chicago Victory National by 16 strokes. He did all this despite an extraordinary putting stroke that was a mirror image of his full golf swing in miniature. He took the putter back on the inside and imparted right to left draw spin on every putt he hit.

7. Seve Ballesteros

The Spaniard looked more comfortable with a putter in his hand than any other golfer of his generation. He held his hands quite low and the toe of his putter sat up in the air. He had a reputation for being able to produce miraculous recovery shots, but he was a master on the greens and had an uncanny ability to will the ball into the hole. When Ballesteros stood over a putt you always felt that he was going to hole it. His swing deserted him when he hit the age of 35, but his putting stroke never did. Seve would shoot a round of 80 but would only have 23 or 24 putts.

6. Loren Roberts

The best putters in the world have a silky smooth rhythm to their stroke. And the Boss of the Moss, as Roberts was universally known, had the silkiest stroke of them all. It was a thing of beauty and, as he continues to make a good living for himself on the Champions Tour, it still is. While most of his rivals use broomhandle putters, belly putters, left hand below right, claw grip and horribly jerky putting strokes, Roberts remains Mr Smooth in everything he does on the greens.
Check out the rest of the top 10 putters of all time right here! Source : Swing by Swing   DEREK CLEMENTS Pictures : Swing by Swing

Mitch Laurance Interviews the Legendary Old Tom Morris! Really?

Landing an interview with Old Tom Morris must have been quite a coup for Mitch Laurance, host of Golf Connections, as Old Tom has been dead since 1908!  But enter David Joy, historian/actor/storyteller who portrays the legendary character.  Check out the link below to listen to this captivating interview and learn about the early days of golf!   Check out the great interview here! golf, Scotland, Old Tom Morris

 Mitch Laurance catches up with a golf icon through historian David Joy, the man who carries on his spirit of the game

By MITCH LAURANCE / @MitchLauranceAs The Open Championship arrives in St. Andrews again this year, to be played at The Old Course for an historic 29th time, wouldn’t it be great if it were possible to get the thoughts and feelings of the man more connected to the history of the game at St. Andrews and more responsible in many ways to the spread of the game worldwide than any other? If only Old Tom Morris could speak to us now. Perhaps he can. In this edition of “Golf Connections,” Old Tom might as well be with us all, as the one and truly only David Joy, fourth-generation St. Andrean and master actor/writer/painter/historian, brings his portrayal of Old Tom to life, giving us a first-hand account of life in St. Andrews and Scotland from the 1840s through Old Tom’s demise in 1908 — from the first Open Championship in 1860 at Prestwick to its move to The Old Course and other venues. Old Tom details his “Grand Matches” teaming with Alan Robertson (which drew 10,000 people!), the changes he made to The Old Course when he moved back from Prestwick in 1864, talks about the great players of the day, including his extraordinary son Young Tom, and reminds us just how much of a debt we owe to this singular figure in golf history.
Source : Golf Connections with  Mitch Laurance Pictures : Golf Connections with Mitch Laurance   Son of Groucho