Meet the commissioner. He’s part business tycoon, part carnival barker, and part self-promoting publicist. From 1974 to 1994, Deane Beman presided over the growth of the PGA Tour. During his tenure, the circuit grew from $8.2 million in total purses to $56.4 million. What started as a loosely strung circuit of small-town events morphed into a nationally televised chain of big-city tournaments under major corporate sponsorships.
Former Golfweek senior writer Adam Schupak has done his homework. The result is an exhaustively detailed account of the deal making, backroom politicking and savvy – sometimes crackpot – vision by which men’s professional golf became a major business.
Business history is a notoriously difficult genre to make interesting. It helps here having a strong personality such as Beman, whose short-hitting, scrappy style of play afforded him only modest success as a PGA Tour journeyman after a stellar amateur career. But his business acumen – he had built an insurance agency before turning pro – gave him a leg up when dealing with players who did not share his capacity to see the long run.
The book excels in its account of how Beman beat back efforts by the likes of Jack Nicklaus and ...
The first nine holes of the Blue Course at East Potomac Park opened in 1921, the same year that Congressional Country Club – which is hosting this week’s U.S. Open on its own, somewhat more famous Blue Course – was incorporated. East Potomac’s Blue was designed by Walter Travis, whose work, like that of Devereux Emmet, the architect of Congressional’s Blue, always has been undervalued by historians.
That’s where the similarities end.
East Potomac Park is near the seat of power – the Washington Monument is the target line for several holes – but Congressional is where the power brokers actually convene. During the decade when I lived nearby, in Alexandria, Va., I never played at East Potomac Park. To the charge of being a golf snob, I plead guilty, Your Honor. But for all of its faults, or perhaps because of them, it’s East Potomac’s Blue, not Congressional’s, that is the quintessential Washington golf experience.
East Potomac draws an eclectic clientele, such as Mike Harrington, an Irish businessman who used a cross-handed grip that he learned playing hurling while growing up in County Cork. Some players arrive in dress slacks and button-down shirts, others in ...
BETHESDA, Md. – It’s a cold, damp Friday night in April, and the golf course – all 36 holes – is still struggling to emerge from winter’s chill. But inside Congressional Country Club, the joint is jumping.
There’s a rock band blaring 1960s tunes at a wedding in the main ballroom. Over in the Chop House, guests and members in proper attire (jackets and ties for men, dresses or skirts for women) hover over their candle-lit meals in hushed reverence. And downstairs in the Founders Pub, about 400 folks clad in TGIF garb (jeans and sneakers de rigueur) are making a racket while watching the Washington Capitals’ playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on oversized LCD screens.
In the hallway leading to the bar, party animals of another sort – four Republicans and a Democrat – preside. Photos of Congressional’s first five honorary presidents – Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge and Hoover – remind a visitor of how close this club always has been to the nexus of American power.
Industry titans abound, too, with images of black-tie gatherings and members Henry Ford, Walter Chrysler, William Randolph Hearst and John D. Rockefeller toasting one another’s good fortune.
In the 1920s, U.S. presidents ...
Villainous professional wrestler George Zaharias, an 8 handicap, met Mildred Didrikson when they were paired together during the first two rounds of the 1938 Los Angeles Open. He beat The Babe by a shot that first day, 83-84, and though neither made the 36-hole cut, they went on to form a colorful, if strained, partnership. He was the big galoot turned entrepreneur. She was the rough-hewn Texas tomboy who never met a sport she didn’t master.
Her life as a barnstormer, sports headliner, champion golfer and pack-a-day smoker (before her death from cancer at age 45 in 1956) is the subject of New York Times investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr.’s newest book. It tells the story of how Didrikson emerged from small-town poverty to become the most celebrated sportswoman of the first half of the 20th century, if not the greatest athlete of her age.
She was an All-American basketball star before gaining international attention for winning three track and field gold medals at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. She then undertook the only serious training in her life in an effort to master golf, and soon she was doing exhibitions with Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson ...
MAYETTA, Kan. – Standing near the adjacent tees at Firekeeper Golf Course’s ninth and 11th holes, Notah Begay III recently was describing how the wind would affect play on two holes. A hurting wind on No. 9 would help on the 11th, and vice versa.
“The net-net is balance,” he said.
The term “balance” comes up often when talking with Begay, who partnered with Jeff Brauer on the design of Firekeeper, which celebrated its grand opening May 15. Begay, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, usually talks about balance in terms of architecture – factoring in winds, finding the proper pacing between holes – but it also reflects a long-term objective he’s trying to accomplish in Native American communities, starting with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, which operates Firekeeper and the Prairie Band Casino & Resort across Q Road, just north of Topeka.
“Our intent is to act as a collaboration, not to build a better golf course but to build a better community,” said Begay, a Native American of Navajo and Pueblo descent.
For too long, tribal culture in the U.S. has been defined by extremes: poverty, addictive behavior, severe health problems, poor standardized test scores. Until relatively recently ...
KAUA’I, Hawaii – Kaua’i Lagoons Golf Club plans to reopen the Kiele Moana (Ocean) nine May 23 following renovations to six holes and the addition of three others. The changes create a half-mile of uninterrupted ocean holes, billed as the longest such stretch in the state.
The golf course is next to Kaua’i Marriott Resort and Beach Club on Kalapaki Beach. A $50 million renovation of that property was completed last year.
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Troon Golf is serving as technical advisor on a project to build a floating golf course in the Maldives, off the coast of India.
The $500 million project is being spearheaded by Dutch Docklands, a company that builds large structures on water using its floating technology. Plans call for a series of floating islands that will be connected by underwater tunnels. This would be the world’s first floating 18-hole course.
Visit www.troongolf.com; www.dutchdocklands.com.
Separately, Troon Golf was hired to manage The Prestige Golfshire, a golf and leisure property being developed in Bangalore, India. That project will include an 18-hole golf course, a Marriott hotel, and a clubhouse with restaurants, exercise facilities and meeting rooms.
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Dressed as if she should be starring in a Nike commercial, Cindy Davis, outfitted head-to-toe in swoosh-stamped gear, is hurdling tree roots, stomping through muck and tackling an ascent that would leave most gasping. It’s a chilly March afternoon, and Davis is trail running amid dense trees cloaked in fog and mist that make the place feel enchanted.
“I’ve run through here when the heavens have opened up, and it’s just incredible,” she says of her favorite local getaway, Forest Park, a 5,100-acre wilderness within Portland that gets nearly 40 inches of rain annually. “This is what I do to recharge.”
On this day, Davis is joined by her frequent running companion – Tilly, her 2-year-old German pointer mix, which she rescued from a shelter. Both politely slow the pace so a winded guest can keep up. Davis may not fly up the twisting path, but she looks as if she could run forever. A veteran of six marathons, she is a believer in holistic wellness and insists it’s the key to handling the rigors of her job as Nike Golf president. Asked just how tough her work can be, Davis, 49, answers quickly ...
ORLANDO, Fla. – Before hopping into her black Range Rover to head to a photo shoot, Paula Creamer took out the trash. She also laid out the ingredients for that night’s dinner (maple-braised pork chops) on the kitchen counter. The woman who grew up in a pink cocoon – coddled by loving parents, an entourage of supporters and fans from around the globe – even cleaned up after her rescue puppy, Tank, who chewed her patio furniture, but thankfully, not her Christian Louboutins.
“I never went to college, so my parents and I never had that separation,” said Creamer, a nine-time winner on the LPGA who purchased her nearly 4,000-square-foot home in the upscale Isleworth community two years ago. “It was time for me to grow up, do things a normal person has to end up doing.”
Creamer, 24, could step out onto her back patio, tee up a ball and hit the roof of her parents’ villa. But that’s not the point. She needed space. And while most 24-year-olds find that in an apartment filled by roommates and hand-me-down furniture, Creamer’s talent affords her upscale, “matchy-matchy” taste in a neighborhood of all-stars. As the only LPGA player who ...
Few tasks are more difficult for a writer than bringing new insight to a topic that your readers know as well, or better, than you. Try writing something fresh about a Super Bowl after America has hung a “closed” sign on the door and spent the day crashed on the couch watching a six-hour pre-game show, the game, the halftime show and post-game interviews and analysis that extend into the wee hours.
Or you can try to chronicle the 1986 Masters, which has been dissected more than a box of dead frogs in a ninth-grade biology class.
That notwithstanding, the silver anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’ final and most famous major championship has occasioned the release of several new books. Tom Clavin and John Boyette are the latest to weigh in, with the latter’s account leavened by the fact that he can call on his memories of walking all 18 holes with Nicklaus during the final round in 1986. (The cover of Boyette’s book also has a tease, “Includes an interview with Jack Nicklaus,” which seems superfluous in a book about Nicklaus’ greatest victory.)
Retrospectives such as these, by necessity, probably owe more to LexisNexis than enterprising reporting. We ...
Editors note: Reviewer played on XBOX 360
In EA Sports’ “Tiger Woods 12: The Masters,” the legendary sports video game company provides players with this deal: We’ll give you a tee time on Augusta National, the most exclusive golf course in the world. . . but you’re going to have to work for it.
Not only does this mean you have to work your way through a much-improved and fantastic career mode before earning a spot in the Masters, but you have to put in the time learning the game controls, as well. This isn’t a golf game for virtual 26-handicappers expecting to blister The Greenbrier and shoot 53. Rather, it’s a golf game built for “gamers” – one that takes plenty of practice to master – as evidenced by the intricacies of the putting stroke and the importance of a near-perfect swing path. But no matter how frustrating the first few holes may be for new players, those who stick with it will be rewarded with what is the most realistic, enjoyable golf video game available.
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Without a doubt, the first thing anyone should do upon purchasing or renting this game is to go straight to Quick ...
The adage that “golf is a lifestyle” has become accepted wisdom, particularly among many in the design world. You might leave the golf course, they believe, but you don’t leave golf.
In "Golf Style," Vicky Moon runs with this idea through a compilation of light personality features and short historical summaries on resorts and fashion. Moon’s choices of subjects seem random, held together only by the device of 18 chapters. Some work, others don’t.
At its best, "Golf Style" takes readers inside Duffy Waldorf’s home and 1,800-bottle wine cellar, which includes everything from Chateau Lafite Rothschild to Thunderbird, as well as Waldorf’s own label. One troubling note: Waldorf apparently wears those atrocious, ornate shirts even when he’s at home.
It also was fun to have a look inside Dornoch Cottage, better known as Donald Ross’ former home on the third hole of Pinehurst No. 2. Moon also walks readers through the renovations of Jonathan Byrd’s home in St. Simons Island, Ga.
Elsewhere, Moon’s choices seem dubious. One chapter is dedicated to the office and architectural work of Rees Jones, a man whose work always has seemed to elevate function over form ...
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The undeveloped 219-acre parcel on the west side of Golf Club Scottsdale is, by Lyle Anderson’s standards, barely a speck on the landscape. Anderson, the man largely responsible for shaping Scottsdale into one of America’s most desirable addresses, has developed properties 20, or even 40, times larger.
These days, however, his attention is focused primarily on this tiny parcel, which overlooks the golf course and has panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains and, in the distance, Four Peaks. When Anderson bought the land in 2006, he says nearby lots were selling for “a couple million dollars apiece.” He thought it would be a nice spot to build 50 luxurious homes, not unlike the thousands of others he had built in Scottsdale and elsewhere.
At the time, however, the real-estate market was on the verge of collapsing, and that fact would exact a particularly big toll on The Lyle Anderson Cos.
From 2000 to ’06, real estate’s boom years, a stunning 1,550-acre property Anderson was developing in Hawaii sat idle, awaiting resolution of a zoning lawsuit that ultimately was settled in his favor. But by that time, the real-estate and financial markets were convulsing and ...
Sometimes, credit is the other side of blame. Consider Thomas Bastis, superintendent of the California Golf Club of San Francisco.
A $13 million restoration by architect Kyle Phillips in 2007-08 might be responsible for launching the Cal Club onto the Golfweek’s Best Classic Course list in 2009, at No. 60. But it’s Bastis who looks after the retro-look layout that keeps the Cal Club moving up the charts – to No. 54 last year and an eye-popping leap of 19 spots this year, to No. 35.
“It’s so fresh and different from where it was,” Phillips said. “Thomas has done a great job at keeping the course firm and fast. It’s a happy story; the kind you want when you get involved in a project.”
The restoration included removing hundreds of trees, rerouting several holes throughout the front nine, moving the practice range to the center of the property, filling in two ponds, rebuilding and adding bunkers, converting 44 acres of mixed fairway turf to a blend of colonial bentgrass and fine fescue, and regrassing pest-infested Poa greens with A-1/A-4 bentgrass.
With the course heading into its fourth season since the restoration, Phillips’ work has the ...
We’re most likely to comment on the typical items of golf wear on this blog – pants, polos, skirts, gloves. But Martin Kaymer caught our eye during the Accenture Match Play Championship in Tuscon, Ariz., with something different – neckwear.
No, not a tie. Kaymer played wearing a Buff around his neck.
The man behind the Buff is artist and avid fly fisherman Vaughn Cochran. We flooded him with emails, phone calls and Facebook messages – and finally got a chance to chat with the man who could be behind the next big trend in golf – the Buff.
Tell us about yourself, the company and how overwhelming it has been to see the Buff burst on the golf scene.
I’m an artist, fly fisherman, designer and entrepreneur. My company is Black Fly Outfitter.
I’m also an owner of the Black Fly Bonefish Club in Abaco, Bahamas, and I’m a fly fishing consultant for the Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts in Bimini, Bahamas. I am a designer for the Buff company and the Buff that Martin Kaymer wore was my Black Fly Buff.
Buff was invented more than 20 years ago in Spain and the product has been in the fly-fishing ...
In October, the game’s leaders will be gathering at the St. Andrews World Golf Forum to discuss the sport’s future. The powers that be should leave the home of golf with one common aim – to speed up the game.
Speed is the key to the survival of this great game. Without it we will continue to see players leave the game and courses close.
Pace of play is the most important issue affecting the game right now. It is the proverbial elephant in the room, the one issue the governing bodies have failed to address.
I never thought there would come a time when I’d see courses going to the wall in Scotland, the birthplace of the game. Yet in recent months at least three clubs have had to close their doors due to financial problems.
The Machrie on Islay is in trouble and is in the hands of the bank. The future of Letham Grange near Carnoustie is in doubt. Meanwhile, Craibstone Golf Centre near Aberdeen has gone under.
The fairways of Lamerwood not far from where I live in Hertfordshire, England, are now overgrown after the gates closed last year. Clubs nearby are crying out ...