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Opinion & Analysis

Masters moments with Dad

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By Travis Clement  

GolfWRX Contributor

Some people have these great memories of holidays and special events like family vacations or first kiss or first car etc., etc.  However, my best childhood memories are the sound a flushed two iron hit by Lee Trevino at the far end of the practice range at Augusta. You see, back in the golden days of the 1970’s we could get into the Masters on practice round days for less than $20 (not a misprint) and there was no lottery or web address to go to bid at online auction for the chance to get tickets.  As Dylan sang, “The Times they are a Changing,” and boy how they have changed.  But I digress, the reason I bring this up is of course its Masters Week and with that brings back the memories of my youth and the giddy excitement of an event that rivals Christmas morning in my mind.

It all started every spring for me, the grass started to green up, the smells in the air and the official start of Golf for each year was and still is the Masters.  I remember fondly arriving at the event and the walk up to the clubhouse and my Dad pointing out the sights as we went along.  We went thru the gate and proceeded to the driving range where my Dad would make me watch the golfers he liked best.  We would watch intently at what clubs they used, how far they hit it, and how exact they seemed to be with each shot.  He would say to me to just close my eyes and listen to the sound of the balls being struck and I would.  We would watch Palmer and Nicklaus, in awe of the greatness in front of us.  I remember once seeing Tom Watson, who was sponsored by “Ram Golf” at the time, hitting children’s clubs on the range that were presented to him by the company for his young child and to see him hit those clubs that were made for a child just as good as most mortals could hit regular clubs was something else.  But the pinnacle of our time at the driving range was always waiting for my Dad’s favorite golfer to come to the range, Lee (The Merry Mex) Trevino.  He was always smiling and talking as he made his way to his designated spot on the range. He looked larger than life to me.  He would just swagger up to his bag, his caddy handed him a club, and he would start to hit balls, and as I did with all the other golfers on the range, I would close my eyes to listen for that sound of his club when it made impact on the ball and it was very distinct.  In my mind’s eye I would imagine the ball compressing against the clubface as it rolled up the clubface and then spring out forward on a rocket trajectory towards the target. Really I can’t explain it in words but I can still hear it today.  It was what my Dad called “pure” and that sound has ever since been burned into my mind as my litmus test for what a good golf shot should sound like.

After we were done at the range we would walk to the first hole down along the left side of fairway and watch a few groups tee off and see their second shots.  After that we would walk down to the 16th green and sit there for a long time watching the players come thru and hit multiple balls at different locations on the green for future pin placement and club selection.  The magnolias were usually in bloom and that hole has a great “echo effect” for golf shots.  It was truly a spectacle.  We would then go and watch on the 17th tee for a while and my Dad would critique the players as they came thru and tee off.  He, my Dad, had a theory about the 17th.  He said in his mind that this tee shot was the toughest on the course on Sunday and he wanted to gage how the pros handled it on practice rounds to see if it would hold up under the pressure of Sunday.  We would then head to the 17th green for a while and then watch the players tee off on the 18th.

I remember lots of things about those visits to Augusta like autographs, egg salad sandwiches, my Dad’s love for the game, cigarettes and cigar smells in the crowd, white hats, the flowers and just how green it all seemed to be.  You know, my Dad is gone now and I have my two boys who I have never been able to take because the tickets are so hard to get. But every year the sense of melancholy that I get at this time of year is strong and intoxicating.  It is, in my mind, the greatest memories of my childhood.  It represents who I am, where I came from and what my life was about.  So as I struggle to share these memories with my kids I am sad because I think they will never hear a ball strike like Trevino’s on HDTV and I am sure the tree on the left side of the 17th fairway really does not come into play anymore on a Sunday.  As we sit and watch it all on the TV and enjoy every second of it, my enjoyment of it is always somehow bitter sweet because I think that they are missing out.  So this year I want to change that, therefore, I think I am going to try to have them close their eyes and turn the volume up on the TV and try and capture the sound of ball that is struck “pure” and even though it is not like being there maybe the memories will stick and after I am gone maybe they will get giddy every spring in anticipation of the great Masters Tournament and the memories it will bring to their minds. Thanks, Dad.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

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Travis Clement has played golf his whole life. He grew up working at his local golf course and as adult has worked as a number of golf facilities. He lives in Athens, Ala., where he works in the defense industry. He is 45 years old, has been married for 20 years and has two teenage sons. Travis has a great love for the mystic of game and its traditions.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Masters moments with Dad | Augusta Blog

  2. Gifted Golfer

    Apr 5, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    I enjoyed the write up.
    Thanks!

  3. Dave T

    Apr 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Travis,
    great write up. I have been going for years and you described it wonderfully. You just don’t look at it the same once you have been there. I have had the pleasure of hearing many roars throughout the years at Augusta, nothing like a Sunday afternoon charge by one of the games greats. Hear the roar then watch for the leader board to change. I hope to take my children to the masters as soon as I get stationed close enough to make it work out. Last year I had practice round tickets and I was deployed overseas 2 weeks prior to the event. Oh well, maybe next year.
    Dave

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Opinion & Analysis

Clark: A teacher’s take on Brandel Chamblee’s comments

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Because I’m writing to a knowledgeable audience who follows the game closely, I’m sure the current Brandel Chamblee interview and ensuing controversy needs no introduction, so let’s get right to it.

Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player, now plays a role as a TV personality. He has built a “brand” around that role. The Golf Channel seems to relish the idea of Brandel as the “loose cannon” of the crew (not unlike Johnny Miller on NBC) saying exactly what he thinks with seeming impunity from his superiors.

I do not know the gentleman personally, but on-air, he seems like an intelligent, articulate golf professional, very much on top of his subject matter, which is mostly the PGA Tour. He was also a very capable player (anyone who played and won on the PGA Tour is/was a great player). But remember, nowadays he is not being judged by what scores he shoots, but by how many viewers/readers his show and his book have (ratings). Bold statements sell, humdrum ones do not.

For example, saying that a teacher’s idiocy was exposed is a bold controversial statement that will sell, but is at best only partly true and entirely craven. If the accuser is not willing to name the accused, he is being unfair and self-serving. However, I think it’s dangerous to throw the baby out with the bathwater here; Brandel is a student of the game and I like a lot of what he says and thinks.

His overriding message in that interview is that golf over the last “30-40 years” has been poorly taught. He says the teachers have been too concerned with aesthetics, not paying enough attention to function. There is some truth in that, but Brandel is painting with a very broad brush here. Many, myself included, eschewed method teaching years ago for just that reason. Method teachers are bound to help some and not others. Maybe the “X swing” one player finds very useful, another cannot use it all.

Brandel was asked specifically about Matthew Wolff’s unique swing: Lifting the left heel, crossing the line at the top, etc. He answered, “of course he can play because that’s how he plays.” The problem would be if someone tried to change that because it “looked odd.” Any teacher worth his weight in salt would not change a swing simply because it looked odd if it was repeating good impact. I learned from the great John Jacobs that it matters not what the swing looks like if it is producing great impact.

Now, if he is objecting exclusively to those method teachers who felt a certain pattern of motions was the one true way to get to solid impact, I agree with him 100 percent. Buy many teach on an individual, ball flight and impact basis and did not generalize a method. So to say “golf instruction over the last 30-40 years” has been this or that is far too broad a description and unfair.

He goes on to say that the “Top Teacher” lists are “ridiculous.” I agree, mostly. While I have been honored by the PGA and a few golf publications as a “top teacher,” I have never understood how or why. NOT ONE person who awarded me those honors ever saw me give one lesson! Nor have they have ever tracked one player I coached.  I once had a 19 handicap come to me and two seasons later he won the club championship-championship flight! By that I mean with that student I had great success. But no one knew of that progress who gave me an award.

On the award form, I was asked about the best, or most well-known students I had taught. In the golf journals, a “this-is-the-teacher-who-can-help-you” message is the epitome of misdirection. Writing articles, appearing on TV, giving YouTube video tips, etc. is not the measure of a teacher. On the list of recognized names, I’m sure there are great teachers, but wouldn’t you like to see them teach as opposed to hearing them speak? I’m assuming the “ridiculous” ones Brandel refers to are those teaching a philosophy or theory of movement and trying to get everyone to do just that.

When it comes to his criticism of TrackMan, I disagree. TrackMan does much more than help “dial in yardage.” Video cannot measure impact, true path, face-to-path relationship, centeredness of contact, club speed, ball speed, plane etc. Comparing video with radar is unfair because the two systems serve different functions. And if real help is better ball flight, which of course only results from better impact, then we need both a video of the overall motion and a measure of impact.

Now the specific example he cites of Jordan Spieth’s struggles being something that can be corrected in “two seconds” is hyperbolic at least! Nothing can be corrected that quickly simply because the player has likely fallen into that swing flaw over time, and it will take time to correct it. My take on Jordan’s struggles is a bit different, but he is a GREAT player who will find his way back.

Brandel accuses Cameron McCormick (his teacher) of telling him to change his swing.  Do we know that to be true, or did Jordan just fall into a habit and Cameron is not seeing the change? I agree there is a problem; his stats prove that, but before we pick a culprit, let’s get the whole story. Again back to the sensationalism which sells! (Briefly, I believe Jordan’s grip is and has always been a problem but his putter and confidence overcame it. An active body and “quiet” hands is the motion one might expect of a player with a strong grip-for obvious reason…but again just my two teacher cents)

Anyway, “bitch-slapped” got him in hot water for other reasons obviously, and he did apologize over his choice of words, and to be clear he did not condemn the PGA as a whole. But because I have disagreements with his reasoning here does not mean Brandel is not a bright articulate golf professional, I just hope he looks before he leaps the next time, and realizes none of us are always right.

Some of my regular readers will recall I “laid down my pen” a few years ago, but it occurred to me, I would be doing many teachers a disservice if I did not offer these thoughts on this particular topic!

 

 

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Opinion & Analysis

A trip down Magnolia Memory Lane: Patron fashion at the 1991 Masters

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Like a lot of golfers out there, I’ve been getting my fix thanks to the final round Masters broadcasts on YouTube via the Masters channel. Considering these broadcasts go back as far as 1968, there is a lot we could discuss—we could break down shots, equipment, how the course has changed, but instead I thought we could have a little fun taking a different direction—fashion.

However, I’m not talking players fashion, that’s fairly straight forward. Instead, I wanted to follow the action behind the action and see what we could find along the way – here are the 1991 Highlights.

I love the “Die Hard” series as much as anyone else but one fan took it to a new level of fandom by wearing a Die Hard 2 – Die Harder T-shirt to Sunday at the Masters. This patron was spotted during Ian Woosnam fourth shot into 13. Honorable mention goes to Woosie’s gold chain.

There is a lot going on here as Ben Crenshaw lines up his put on 17. First, we have the yellow-shirted man just left of center with perfectly paired Masters green pants to go along with his hat (he also bears a striking resemblance to Ping founder Karsten Solheim). Secondly, we have what I would imagine is his friend in the solid red pants—both these outfits are 10 out of 10. Last but not least, we have the man seen just to the right of Ben with sunglasses so big and tinted, I would expect to be receiving a ticket from him on the I20 on my way out of town.

If you don’t know the name Jack Hamm, consider yourself lucky you missed a lot of early 2000s late-night golf infomercials. OK so maybe it’s not the guy known for selling “The Hammer” driver but if you look under the peak of the cabin behind Woosie as he tees off on ten you can be forgiven for taking a double-take… This guy might show up later too. Honorable mention to the pastel-pink-shorted man with the binoculars and Hogan cap in the right of the frame.

Big proportions were still very much in style as the 80s transitioned into the early 90s. We get a peek into some serious style aficionados wardrobes behind the 15th green with a wide striped, stiff collared lilac polo, along with a full-length bright blue sweater and a head of hair that has no intention of being covered by a Masters hat.

Considering the modern tales of patrons (and Rickie Folwer) being requested to turn backward hats forward while on the grounds of Augusta National, it was a pretty big shock to see Gerry Pate’s caddy with his hat being worn in such an ungentlemanly manner during the final round.

Before going any further, I would like us all to take a moment to reflect on how far graphics during the Masters coverage has come in the last 30 years. In 2019 we had the ability to see every shot from every player on every hole…in 1991 we had this!

At first glance, early in the broadcast, these yellow hardhats threw me for a loop. I honestly thought that a spectator had chosen to wear one to take in the action. When Ian Woosnam smashed his driver left on 18 over the bunkers it became very apparent that anyone wearing a hard hat was not there for fun, they were part of the staff. If you look closely you can see hole numbers on the side of the helmets to easily identify what holes they were assigned to. Although they have less to do with fashion, I must admit I’m curious where these helmets are now, and what one might be worth as a piece of memorabilia.

Speaking of the 18th hole, full credit to the man in the yellow hat (golf clap to anyone that got the Curious George reference) who perfectly matched the Pantone of his hat to his shirt and also looked directly into the TV camera.

It could be said the following photo exemplifies early ’90s fashion. We have pleated Bermuda shorts, horizontal stripes all over the place and some pretty amazing hairstyles. Honorable mention to the young guys in the right of the frame that look like every ’80s movie antagonist “rich preppy boy.”

What else can I say except, khaki and oversized long sleeve polos certainly had their day in 1991? We have a bit of everything here as Tom Watson lines up his persimmon 3-wood on the 18th. The guy next to Ian Woosnam’s sleeves hit his mid-forearm, there are too many pleats to count, and somehow our Jack Hamm look-alike managed to find another tee box front row seat.

You can check out the full final-round broadcast of the 1991 Masters below.

 

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19th Hole

GolfWRXers Vote: Best U.S. Open venue showdown

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Following on from our Golf Movie Madness contest which saw GolfWRXers vote “Caddyshack” the best golf film ever, we thought it was time to up the ante and find out the GolfWRX consensus on one of the more debated subjects in golf—U.S. Open host venues.

We’re matching off the last 16 U.S. Open venues to find out what GolfWRXers think is the ultimate U.S. Open course.

As with our Golf Movie Madness contest, we’ll leave voting open for 48 hours for the first eight head-to-heads. At that time, we’ll determine the winners and matchups for the next four games.

So get voting below and let’s find out who GolfWRXers crown as the ultimate U.S. Open course!

 

*Years hosted, winners and avg. winning score from 1950 onwards*

Game 1

Pebble Beach

  • Years Hosted: 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
  • Winners: Nicklaus (+2), Watson (-6), Kite (-3), Woods (-12), McDowell (E), Woodland (-13)
  • Avg. winning score: -5.33

Torrey Pines SC

  • Years Hosted: 2008
  • Winners: Woods (-1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

U.S. Open Game 1

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Game 2

Oakland Hills SC

  • Years Hosted: 1951, 1961, 1985,1996
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Littler (+1), North (-1), Jones (-2)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.25

Winged Foot GC

  • Years Hosted: 1959, 1974, 1984, 2006
  • Winners: Casper (+2), Irwin (+7), Zoeller (-7), Ogilvy (+5)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.75

U.S. Open Game 2

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Game 3

Chambers Bay

  • Years Hosted: 2015
  • Winners: Spieth (-5)
  • Avg. winning score: -5

Baltusrol GC

  • Years Hosted: 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993
  • Winners: Furgol (+4), Nicklaus (-5), Nicklaus (-8), Janzen (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -4.25

U.S. Open Game 3

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Game 4

Pinehurst Resort (No 2.)

  • Years Hosted: 1995, 2005, 2014
  • Winners: Stewart (-1), Campbell (E), Kaymer (-9)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.33

Olympic Club

  • Years Hosted: 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012
  • Winners: Fleck (+7), Casper (-2), Simpson (-3), Janzen (E), W. Simpson (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: +0.75

U.S. Open Game 4

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Game 5

Oakmont CC

  • Years Hosted: 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016
  • Winners: Hogan (-5), Nicklaus (-1), Miller (-5), Nelson (-4), Els (-5), Cabrera (+5), Johnson (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -2.71

Bethpage Black

  • Years Hosted: 2002, 2009
  • Winners: Woods (-3), Glover (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.5

U.S. Open Game 5

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Game 6

Southern Hils CC

  • Years Hosted: 1958, 1977, 2001
  • Winners: Bolt (+3), Green (-2), Goosen (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

Olympia Fields CC

  • Years Hosted: 2003
  • Winners: Furyk (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -8

U.S. Open Game 6

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Game 7

Merion GC

  • Years Hosted: 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Trevino (E), Graham (-7), Rose (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: (+0.25)

Erin Hills

  • Years Hosted: 2017
  • Winners: Koepka (-16)
  • Avg. winning score: -16

U.S. Open Game 7

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Game 8

Congressional CC

  • Years Hosted: 1964, 1997, 2011
  • Winners: Venturi (-2), Els (-4), McIlroy (-16)
  • Avg. winning score: -7.33

Shinnecock Hills GC

  • Years Hosted: 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018
  • Winners: Floyd (-1), Pavin (E), Goosen (-4), Koepka (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

U.S. Open Game 8

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