Monday, June 23, 2014

The Best Thing the USGA has done in a long, long time

            There were complaints from people who didn’t understand, and that’s OK.  There are always going to be people who can’t see the forest for the trees.
            Because what Mike Davis and the USGA did by having back-to-back U.S. Opens at a revamped Pinehurst No. 2 was the execution of the best idea they’ve had in . . . well, maybe since choosing Bethpage Black as a U.S. Open site . . . or maybe ever.  Honestly, it sounds like hyperbole, but in 30 years from now, this single event might very well be considered the watershed moment (no pun intended; keep reading . . .) for the governing body of the sport.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On statistics and hating probability

            In the throes of a hockey season, and hours before one of the NHL’s showcase games outside at Yankee Stadium, I’m brought back to an essential question:
            Do you root for the probable outcome?
            In the age of advanced statistics, ones that go well beyond the realm of sports and into things that actually matter, like science and politics, there is a deep divide that separates two distinct types of people – those wanting the numbers to be proven true, and those that want the inexplicable.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fred Shoemaker, TrackMan, and interpretation of reality

            One of the joys of reporting this book has been meeting Fred Shoemaker.
            He is the man behind Extraordinary Golf, and wrote a terrific and successful book called Extraordinary Putting, along with a broader work, Extraordinary Golf.
            Fred is very smart, and kind, and engaging.  His philosophy is based on being present, and relying on the intuition of human beings.  He is far from a swing mechanic.  The way he approaches life is fascinating, and it translates to his coaching.
            So I ask him about science and technology and how he deals with all of the modern equipment to measure and calibrate the golf swing.  He gives me an answer that is part anthropology, part neuroscience, and part new-age existential philosophy.  Here is some of what he said, with the bolding as my choice, obviously.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Against Our Ever Getting Better"

            The people at the Shivas Irons Society are as nice a group as you could ever want to meet.
            Last year, I walked the fairways of Bandon Dunes with them, and it was a wonderful and enlightening experience.  This group of people enjoyed the game more than any other I’ve ever seen.  I mean, really enjoyed it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hunter Thompson and the vibrancy of voice

My new (old) copy of Fear and Loathing, with my ever-
changing book outline behind.
            In the midst of writing about my time in Big Sur, and Oregon, and San Francisco, about all the strange mysteries of life (and golf, sometimes) in reporting for this book, I’ve reengaged an old friend.
            Hunter Thompson was one of the reasons I began to love reading, and soon thereafter, writing.  As a freshman in high school, a friend named Rory turned to me in second-period study hall (I remember it so clearly) and said his older brother read this little orange-and-yellow paperback, with pages that were faded and fragile and smelled like the library.  Rory had read it, and said I might like it. 
            He handed me Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

There is nothing quite like a U.S. Open

ARDMORE, Pa.—The driving range for this U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club is all the way on the West Course, a good mile and a half from where the tournament will take place.  Players and hangers-on have to get in eight-person vans to travel back and forth, over bumpy makeshift roads.  Media and gallery members are left to their own devices, or a real people-mover shuttle.
It’s early Sunday afternoon, about 2:30.  Yet to show up is fan favorite, Phil Mickelson.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Time and Memory and Golf

            The NHL season drags on, and so do I.  From watching the Islanders in Philadelphia, then the next night seeing them wrap up their regular season in Buffalo. . . to five nights in Pittsburgh, where the playoffs start. . . to Long Island, where I go straight to the arena without stopping at home. . . to Pittsburgh again . . . to Washington, D.C., for the Rangers. . . to Boston for the Rangers. . .
            It all becomes one big blur, with months of time crunched together into a conglomeration of small moments, memories.  Hockey arenas are different, but the same.  Some nights are better stories than others.  Some nights are more memorable for what happened after I walked out of the arena.  Some nights are utterly forgettable.
            So I get a day off, a Wednesday, in mid-May.  The sun is out.  It’s warm enough.  I meet my Dad for a casual round of golf at 11 a.m.