Thursday, August 17, 2017

Watching Golf Can Be Good For You (If You Do It Correctly)

It is generally known that playing golf has health benefits, particularly if one walks instead of taking a cart—and carrying your bag as opposed to using a push- or pull-cart increases the benefit. But did you know that watching golf can also be good for you?

Of course, we’re not talking about sitting on the sofa with snacks and a cold beer, watching the weekend’s pro tournaments—that’s not a pathway to better health. But studies have shown that spectating, on site, at a live tournament, carries health benefits. It’s not difficult to figure why, either—it’s all about walking.

Depending upon the length and layout of the golf course, walking while playing a round of golf involves anywhere from three to four and a half miles of walking, and spectators following a favorite golfer during a tournament will log a similar distance. A study conducted by the University of Edinburgh in conjunction with the Golf and Health Project at the 2016 Paul Lawrie Match Play, an event on the European Tour, showed that of 339 spectators surveyed, 82.9% met the recommended daily step-count levels while at the event, averaging 11,589 steps. The full text of the report on that study can be found at http://bmjopensem.bmj.com/content/3/1/e000244.

Golf is unique among sports in this regard. Spectators at a tennis match, or a football, baseball, or basketball game—basically almost any other type of sporting event—are generally sitting down, in the same location, for the duration of the event, fulfilling the promise of the origin of the word, which is from the Latin spectare, which means “to gaze at or observe.”

Spectators at a golf tournament, however, are afforded the opportunity to engage in an activity while observing play; in fact, if they want to see all of the play of a certain player or group of players, they are required to be active, because not even the most compactly laid-out golf course can be viewed from a single location. Walking along outside the ropes to follow a group of players is the only way to see an entire round of golf.
Some information on the health benefits of
walking while watching golf.
(Graphic sourtesy GolfandHealth,org)

Dr Andrew Murray, from the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh, urges golf chiefs to emphasize the physical benefits of golf spectating:

“Walking is one of the best things you can do for you health, adding years to life, and increasing health and happiness. These pilot findings show that golf spectators can gain physical activity that could benefit their health—while watching top quality sport at close quarters. This is something that could have huge implications in terms of event attendance and encouraging more people to get interested in the sport.”

For more information on the health benefits of being an active spectator at a golf tournament, visit http://www.golfandhealth.org/spectating/

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Steph Curry holds his own in first round of Ellie Mae Classic

It started with an e-mail message to Steph Curry from the organizers of the Ellie Mae Classic, a Web.com Tour event which is held at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, inviting the Warriors’ 3-pointer wizard to play the tournament—as a competitor, not just a pro-am partner—on a sponsor’s invite.

The message came during the NBA Finals, at a time when Curry had other things on his mind—like winning the NBA Championship. Once that task was wrapped up (sorry, Cleveland…), Curry accepted the invite, igniting a medium-sized flurry of support as well as bashing on social media.

Supporters of his invitation contended that having a high-profile local athlete like Curry playing in the field, not just schmoozing with the pro golfers in a pro-am, would bring welcome attention, from both the media and fans, to this lower-tier event. The bashers mostly beat a one-note anthem—“He’s taking a chance at a win away from a Web.com Tour pro who needs to make a living!”—which ignored the fact that Curry’s invite was one of several sponsor’s exemptions that can be handed out to anyone they see fit to invite.

Another sponsor’s invite went to Colt McNealy, younger brother of just-graduated Stanford Men’s Golf star Maverick McNealy, with no notice or push-back on social media. The younger McNealy will follow in his brother’s footsteps as a freshman at Stanford in the fall.

Curry’s presence in the field certainly raised the profile of the event—tournament organizers issued more than 175 media credentials this year, compared to fewer than 20 for last year’s tournament. A gallery of between 300 and 400 fans and media followed Curry and his grouping, pros Sam Ryder and 2016 winner Stephan Jaeger, a bigger crowd than players on the developmental tour are accustomed to seeing.

Curry was welcomed by most of the players in the event during the week; a few even asked for his autograph. One Cleveland Cavaliers fan in the field, Justin Lower, poked a little good-natured fun at Curry, displaying a wedge that was stamped with the letters “L L W L W W W” on the back, recalling the Cav’s championship-winning record against the Warriors last year.

Betting lines in Las Vegas and elsewhere reflected the fact that a win, or even making the cut, would be a huge accomplishment for the Warriors point guard, with odds of 1:2500 to miss the cut, 900:1 to make it, and over/under on a low score of 76.5, high score 79.5.
Even experienced observers underestimated Steph Curry’s golf game today. Curry shot 37-37—74, confounding the oddsmakers — and more than a few bettors.

Accustomed as he is to big events in his own sport, Curry was so nervous on the first tee that, as he told reporters after the round, he could barely feel his hands. His round got off to a rocky start, with a left miss off the tee—a theme that would repeat throughout the day—on the tenth hole (his first), and an unlikely hop off the cart path into the cup holder in a parked golf cart.

After an opening bogey that might have wrecked a lesser man’s round right out of the blocks, Curry went par-par-bogey-bogey before getting a shot back on the 15th hole, the lone par-5 on the back nine of TPC Stonebrae. The birdie on 15 was a beauty, coming on the strength of a center-cut drive, followed by a hybrid shot to within 100 yards, a pith to about six feet. After draining the putt he gave a fist pump, accompanied by the roar of the gallery.

Curry closed out his first nine holes with three pars to turn in 2-over 37. His second nine was a wilder ride, with three bogeys and a double, counter-balanced by a pair of birdies, on the third hole—the other par-5 on the course—and on the par-3 sixth hole, a clutch bounce-back birdie that came on the heels of the double-bogey on the fifth hole.

Even though he finished with a bogey on the par-5 ninth hole for a second 37, at the end of the day Curry had (mostly) silenced the naysayers, putting together a workmanlike 4-over 74 that beat the oddsmakers’ predictions – and bested playing partner Sam Ryder by a stroke.

Wild off the tee with a consistent left miss, Curry hit 7 of 13 fairways and 8 of 18 greens, taking only 27 putts—numbers which reflect the strength of his short game.

Though he is unlikely to make the cut to play the weekend, the Warriors star was happy with his round, “If you told me I was going to shoot 74 in the first round, I’d take that all day every day,” he said.


Curry sits 11 strokes back of Nicholas Thompson, the first round leader at 7-under, and is tied for 142nd place among the 154 players in the field. He tees off Friday afternoon at 2:15 PM.

With the stars of the PGA Tour in Akron, Ohio this week for the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, a parallel event, the Barracuda Championship, in Reno; and the LPGA in Scotland for the Ricoh Women’s British Open, there is no live television coverage of the Ellie Mae Classic. On–the-scene leaderboard updates are available online at http://www.pgatour.com/webcom/leaderboard.html, and blow-by-blow reports can be had by following the San Frncisco Chronicle’s Ron Kroichick on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ronkroichick).

Saturday, July 29, 2017

There’s a New Ball Game in Town at Greenhorn Creek Resort

Greenhorn Creek Resort, located in the Sierra foothills two hours from San Francisco, is home to a championship Robert Trent Jones II golf course, and now there is a new ball game at this premier Gold Country resort – bocce.

Bocce is an outdoor bowling game which has spread from Italy to many parts of the world, and is similar to the French game petanque. The rising popularity of the game has led to bocce courts being installed up and down the Bay Area and Central California, in public parks and at commercial venues, either standalone or associated with a bar or restaurant.
The new bocce courts at Greenhorn Creek Resort, installed just last spring, are proving to be popular with members and guests. (photo courtesy Greenhorn Creek Resort)

Installed last spring at the resort, which is located outside of Angels Camp in the Gold Country foothills, the two bocce courts have become instantly popular with members and guests. The new facilities were featured in the July 2017 issue of PGA Magazine, in an article highlighting the attraction of adding supplementary facilities to strengthen membership retention and help attract new members.

“A small investment not involving golf has made a big impact at Greenhorn Creek Resort,” according to the monthly publication. “Last spring, the facility transformed a spot outside the clubhouse, near the first tee and 18th green, into a pair of bocce ball courts. The addition has changed the vibe at the entire facility.”

In response to the new activity, the resort’s PGA Head Professional, Jim Dillashaw says, “It has kept a lot of our members engaged, especially those who aren’t quite so golf-active. For spouses who have given up the game of golf, it has kept the family as members.”

The new attraction features an outdoor pizza oven and bar/barbeque area, and is located adjacent to the resort’s award-winning restaurant, CAMPS, and the Cellar Room, which features wines from many of the vintners in the growing local wine community. The courts are proving to be a hit, with 40 four-person teams already signed up for a spring and fall Thursday night member/guest league.


For further information about Greenhorn Creek Resort, call (209) 729-8111 or visit www.greenhorncreek.com.
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(This article features press release information provided by Greenhorn Creek Resort)

“Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf”, by Kevin Robbins ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Last summer when my former outlet, Examiner.com, went dark, five years’ worth of my online articles disappeared from the internet.

Much of that work was specific to the time at which it was published—tournament coverage or articles relating to then-recent events in the world of golf. Some of that work, though, had more lasting value – though I say it myself – so I will, from time to time, revisit my archives and re-publish some of my “lost works” from the Examiner.com days here at Will o' the Glen on Golf.

************************************************
(Slightly abridged from the original February, 2016 article)

It has been over twenty year since the phenomenon that is Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf hit the market, so you, the avid golf reader, can be forgiven for thinking that there must already be a Harvey Penick bio out there. Well, until now there wasn’t—but now that there is, let me tell you, it has been worth the wait.

This bio of golf’s gentle genius, Harvey Penick,
by University of Texas journalism professor
Kevin Robbins, belongs in every golf fan’s library.
Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf, by Austin, Texas-based journalist and University of Texas journalism professor Kevin Robbins, is a deeply-researched and lovingly written book which brings to life the story of the soft-spoken man whose wisdom and dedication to the game of golf has touched literally millions of golfers the world over.

Some of the anecdotes from Harvey’s life as a golf pro and teacher will be familiar to those who have read the Little Red Book and its successors, but the detail on Harvey’s early life, his journey to an increasing level of understanding of the game of golf and how to teach it—as well as the fascinating story of how the Little Red Book and the follow-on volumes came about—is information which you will not find elsewhere. Robbins has done the world of golf a tremendous service by bringing together the whole story of Harvey Penick, his Little Red Book, and the far-reaching touch of this gentle, unassuming genius who was one of the most important figures in the game of golf in the 20th century.

Harvey Penick’s impact on and importance to the game of golf—in Austin, where he lived all of his life; in Texas, a state with as rich and varied a history in the game of golf as any state in the Union; and the world over, though he saw little of the rest of the world—simply cannot be overstated. There are names mentioned in the book, people associated with Harvey over the years, which will ring with familiarity in the ears of any golf fan: Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Davis Love (II and III), Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw; and some which may only be familiar to the more dedicated fan of golf history: Morris Williams, Jr., Billy Munn, Don January, Kathy Whitworth, Sandra Palmer.

Harvey’s association with the big names and important figures in the game is only part of the story, though—he touched thousands whose association with the game extended only to country club and muni golf, monthly member-guests and Saturday skins game between friends.

Harvey became a caddie at the nascent Austin Country Club at age eight, became a golf pro at age 13, and in 1922, at the age of 17, became the head professional at the Austin Country Club. At the age of 26 he took over the head coach position for the University of Texas golf team—with plenty of experience teaching the game of golf, but none coaching a team. He made a success of it anyway, in his low-key, unconventional manner, and remained in the position up until the mid-1950s.

Along the way, Harvey had started keeping notes in a red Scribbletex notebook – a 9-1/8 by 5-3/4 composition book that became probably the most famous notebook in the history of sports. His accumulated wisdom was gathered in this unassuming book over the years, but shown to no one. No one, that is, until he finally decided, in 1991, at the age of 87, to share his observations, to share with the world what he had learned by watching his students, and fellow golf pros, and the talented players of all ilks whom he had observed over the years, and what he had learned from thinking about golf practically full-time for most of 80 years.

The man to whom Harvey entrusted the Scribbletex notebook, and with whom he collaborated in turning the thoughts and observations of 80 years into the most beloved, and best-selling, sports book of all time, was Texas legend of another kind – Bud Shrake.

I initially thought that author Kevin Robbins was dedicating too many pages in the book to biographical information about Shrake, but as I read on I saw the purpose behind the depth he went to in bringing to the reader the background on Harvey’s collaborator. What becomes apparent in this section of the book is that Robbins is using the extensive background on Shrake to establish the character, and bonafides, of the man who would bring Harvey Penick’s golf wisdom to the world.

Bud Shrake was a friend and contemporary of Texas sportswriting legend Dan Jenkins, and had worked with Jenkins on the Fort Worth Press when they were both still in college. Later Shrake moved on, and up, to the Dallas Times Herald and then the Dallas Morning News. He branched out into novels and screenplays, and later joined Dan Jenkins at Sports Illustrated, transplanting himself to New York City. Years of hard living never seemed to blunt the edge of Shrake’s talent, though he eventually calmed down, quit booze and drugs, and returned to Texas, to the Austin area this time, where he took up golf.

When Bud Shrake was contacted by Harvey Penick’s son, Tinsley, in 1991, he thought it was about Bud’s younger brother Bruce, who had tried out for the UT golf team in the early 1950s, and had lessons from Harvey in later years. Instead, Tinsley wanted Bud to meet with his father – a meeting that resulted, eventually, in The Little Red Book. The book became a publishing phenomenon that outstripped the expectations of all involved, even as they realized the genius of the concept—even the man who had recorded all the profound thoughts and observations that comprised it. The section of Harvey Penick which recounts the birth of Harvey’s Little Red Book is truly a joy to read.

Sadder to read, even though parts of this section of Harvey’s story are fairly well known, are the final chapters of the book, recounting Harvey’s declining health even as his book and its successors reach tens of thousands of golfers the world over, and the inspirational, but still sad, story of his death shortly before the 1995 Masters tournament. Most golf fans know about the ascendant victory, 11 years after his first Masters win, and just days after Harvey’s death, of Ben Crenshaw, who along with Tom Kite was the most famous of the tens of thousands of golfers who had benefitted from Harvey’ tutelage over the years.


There have been some excellent golf-related books hitting the market in the last couple of years, and it has been my joy and privilege to read most of them, but I can state, categorically, and with no disrespect to the authors of those other fine works, that Kevin Robbins’ Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf is the most important book of the last decade in the sports genre. If you are a golf fan, you owe it to yourself to read it.

Harvey Penick is available in hardback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other book retailers. A paperback edition, with a foreword by Ben Crenshaw is coming spring 2018 from University of Texas Press.