Magicians on the European Tour

Promo video for the European Tour with some amazing tricks (I’m still not sure how he catches that ball) but perhaps the most impressive one was hitting an approach off the back of the club to within 15 ft of the hole. (Click here if you don’t see the player below).

There have been magicians on the pro tour for some time – check out this highlight of Seve Ballasteros putting magic at a 1984 exhibition match. (Click Here if you don’t see the player below).

Shot of the Year?

Another contender for shot of the year.

Bubba Watson is known for his distance and for his skill with a driver. But at this year’s Masters, he became known for his shot shaping.

After Watson and Oosthuizen recorded final rounds of 68 and 69, respectively, the two golfers found themselves deadlocked at -10 for the weekend. On 2nd playoff hole against Louis Oosthuizen, Bubba found himself in the trees with no direct shot at the green. What does a 40 yard hook with a 52 degree wedge look like? The picture to the right shows the flight of his ball, to within 5 feet of the hole.

What did the shot look like live? Check out the video below. Amazing.

Tom Watson on the Charlie Rose Show

The indepth, benevolent interrogation by Charlie Rose doesn’t escape the game we know and love. When I heard that Tom Watson would be on the other side of the round, oak table I knew it would be something to TiVo. Below is the 32 minute interview and the summary that follow.

– Charlie opens the interview with a look back at Watson’s chip-in on the 17th at Pebble.

– Watson truly believed he could win the Wednesday night before the start of the tournament.

– His example of what makes his experience beneficial is fantastic; trust and confidence in the course made his 6 prior experiences at Turnberry such an advantage.

– Watson on links golf “That’s links golf, you just don’t know.”

– Tom’s hatred of failure is what drove him to succeed.

– The caddy-player relationship in Watson’s life is amazing. Bruce Edwards spent over 30 years on the bag with Watson.

– When the ball was in the air on 18 at Turnberry in 2009, Watson thought it would be 77′ all over again.

– Watson’s major motivation for great play at the Masters this year was his son being on the bag.

– To be great at anything, you’ve got to have conviction that you’re great. Tom believed that.

– Everyone always talked about Jack and his strategy around the course. Watson puts it in much simpler terms by saying, “Jack was the best at taking the element of risk out of an individual shot.”

Two Questions Watson Asked Hogan: it surprises me that Tom only met Ben once.

– Do you ever think a tall golfer will ever be one of the best players?” Hogan responded by saying “Absolutely.”

– How nervous did you get when you were playing in competition? Hogan replied, “Tom, I was so nervous I was jumping out of my skin.”

– Charlie asks “Why would you wake up and not warm-up well if you in the lead?” A simple question, but yet, it cuts to the heart of the enigma is that is the game of golf. Watson replies that is just the way the the game is and feel is such a big factor.

– The snowball effect of losing confidence happened to Tom midway through his career.

Watson finds “it.”

– His practice session on the range in 1994 is where Tom Watson discovered his secret. There are many similarities to Tom’s secret and the one of Ben Hogan.

– Wow, did not know Tom Watson thought about quitting the game.

– Learn from the best through observation.

– Watson equates ball striking to pitcher’s and their control of the movement of their pitch.

– The modern golf swing is epitomized in Sam Snead’s swing.

Jon @

Newsman golfs across Detroit to explore his city

Last month Fox’s Charlie LeDuff took on an epic challenge to play golf from the tips of Detroit – literally, an 18-mile, par 3168, single hole stretching from one end of the city to another. Besides smacking a driver down highway 75 this unusual expedition had an underlying purpose: an attempt to learn more about the city and the day-to-day living of its citizens.

The 46 year old Pulitzer Prize winning writer carried just 4 clubs in his bag while facing extraordinary hazards, abandoned houses, dying landmarks and grassy fields. On his trek through Detroit he learned more about the troubles facing city residents as they struggled to get by, including a mom trying to find her suicidal daughter, an unhappy cop, and a generous deacon.

LeDuff didn’t opt for a caddie (though he did have a crew with him) and took no mulligans – Detroit rules are to play it as it lies. By the time he holed out his final putt at the Belle Island Golf Club, LeDuff counted 2525 strokes (an astonishing 643 under par). You can watch this great piece of golf/journalism below:

I’m thinking back to what I saw behind me – a city, its people holding on, waiting for a savior, a savior who may not be coming. I wonder if the people know the savior might be found within themselves, their neighborhoods, their families. The old saying is true, ‘No man is an island’

– Charlie LeDuff

War Hero Becomes Golf Inspiration

Mike Reeder, 63 years old, lost both of his legs in the Vietnam War. Instead of losing all hope after his accident which left him in a wheel chair, Reeder became an inspiration to golfers and non-golfers, alike. In 1988, eighteen years after his accident, Reeder found himself in a pro-shop and decided to pick up golfing. Since that day, Reeder has participated in amputee golf tournaments, both locally and nationally. He is an accomplished golfer, who has shot par, made a hole-in one, and has a golf handicap of less than ten.

Due to his one of a kind story, the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), which provides disabled individuals with opportunities to get involved with sports, granted Reeder the honor of being featured on ESPN’s E: 60. In July of this year, CAF funded Reeder’s dream of playing at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, making him the first handicapped golfer to play where golf originated. Continue reading “War Hero Becomes Golf Inspiration”

Luckiest Golf Shots Ever?

We’re starting a new competition on the Scratch Pad – luckiest and best golf shots ever. We’ll post two competing shots and you let us know which ones you think is best. Or if you think you have a better one, point us to it.

For this round, we have two competing shots – one from the PGA and one from the European tour; one in a tournament, and one in a practice round; both involving water.

First up, Darren Clarke on a long par 5:

Next up, Vijay Singh on a short par 3:

So, whom would you vote for?

Greatest Masters Shots Ever

As we prepare for the quest for another green jacket, we thought it would be fun to relive some of the greatest masters moments in history.

2010 – Mickelson’s shot from the pine needles

With two pine trees, a creek, and over two hundred yards between him and the pin, Mickelson delivered a blistering iron off the pine needles through the trees to four feet. it was perhaps one of the gutsiest shots ever played – the birdied hole led to a 67 and his third green jacket.

2005 – Tiger’s chip from the collar

Trailing Chris DiMarco, Woods knocked his tee shot over the green, where it came to rest against the collar of the first cut of rough. After taking stock of the situation, he hit a low spinning pitch, landing the ball 25 feet above the hole. The ball bit and then trickled down to the cup, hanging ever so briefly onto the lip before dropping in. The crowd erupted, and Tiger went on to win the green jacket in a playoff.

1987 – Larry Mize’s chip in

At the end of 72 holes, Larry Mize and Greg Norman both led the pack in the 1987 Masters. On the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, Norman hit his approach shot to the edge of the green, while Mize sprayed his second some 150 feet right and long. Norman looked destined to win his first green jacket until Mize bounced his third shot onto the green and into the hole. With Norman unable to sink his birdie putt, Mize won his first and only major championship.

1987 – Nicklaus’s Final Masters

At the 1987 Masters Nicklaus made a monumental back-nine charge, shooting a 30 that featured an eagle-birdie-birdie stretch on 15, 16, & 17. The round featured a number of clutch shots, but the tricky 12-footer he holed for birdie on 17 most resonates in people’s memories. Nicklaus went on to par the 18th and carded a 65 – he then watched his competitors falter, giving him his 6th green jacket.

1935 – Gene Sarazen’s Double Eagle

Unfortunately we don’t have a video, but Gene Sarazen’s historic hole-out for double eagle went a long way toward helping popularize the Masters (then called the Augusta National Invitational). Deciding between a 3-wood and 4-wood, he chose the latter and hit a towering shot that flew some 235 yards, cleared a greenside pond, and dropped into the hole. The deuce tied Sarazen for the lead with Craig Wood – he then went on to win the only 36-hole playoff in Masters history.

The Game, The Tournament, The Man, — Bob Hope

I didn’t grow up watching Bob Hope — I wish I did, but that era was a bit before my time. I knew the man through the game and through his tournament. Through Bob’s influence, his Hollywood connections, and his sincere love for the sport, he was able to connect audiences to the game because he made it relatable and more entertaining.

I view the Bob Hope Classic like I do IBM.  Back then, an entire golf tournament hosted, played, and produced by a celebrity was new. Parallels lie within IBM; a company that changed the way businesses do business. Both have been through their growth stages and now live in their more established, mature years. Companies like Google and players like Tiger have come on the scene and progressed both fields. Bob Hope was a lodestar of his time that took his extraordinary amount of popularity and created things bigger than himself that still live on.
Continue reading “The Game, The Tournament, The Man, — Bob Hope”

The Comeback of Ben Hogan at Merion Golf Club

One of golf’s greatest feats is the comeback of Ben Hogan. After being struck by a Greyhound bus, doctors predicted Hogan would never walk again. His legs were crushed at impact and a main reason he survived was his selfless act to protect his wife by throwing himself on her lap right before impact.

Hogan was always someone who beat the odds: the odds of him making it to the Tour, of overcoming his father’s suicide, and battling back from his car crash.

That summer Monday in 1950 is stated best by the NY Times: Yesterday his challenge to the disbelievers was on the line.

What escapes the average golfer is that Hogan had a 1 stroke lead over Lloyd Mangrum and a three stroke lead over Tom Fazio; however on the sixteenth hole, Mangrum incurred a two stroke penalty which gave Hogan a three stroke lead on both competitors with two holes to play. Hogan dropped a two tier putt for a birdie two on the long par-3 seventeenth.

The New York Times article ends the story by referring to the nickname Ben had growing up:

Then the bug alighted on Mangrum’s ball at the sixteenth, and the penalty for handling the ball sealed the victory for Little Ben.

Below is a great interview with Hogan discussing not only his comeback, but also his mental approach. A great gem: