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The day we made Phil Mickelson cry

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There used to be a junior event in Southern California called The MacGregor Cup Matches. It pitted the best players from all the chapters, and almost 30 years ago there was a clash of the titans. A virtual “Celebrity Death Match” of golf.

It was Phil Mickelson and Harry Rudolph (another great junior player from San Diego who had a similar success on the Web.com Tour that I did) against Bob May (for those who don’t remember, he had a great struggle with Tiger at the 2000 PGA) and door No. 4: namely me.

We were teenagers. I was the oldest, but the least accomplished of the four, which was not a disgrace as these were three of the greatest players in the history of junior golf in Southern California. I will just say, Phil was acting like a punk and it started on the very first tee.

“Harry, you don’t even have to play, I can beat these guys by myself,” he said.

That sounds like a playful boast among competitors, but it was obvious to the three of us, it was not — and that “‘tude” continued without relent. By the third or forth hole it was so bad, even Harry was becoming annoyed. We then began discussing a subject that was not golf related.

I won’t reveal the subject matter, but let’s just say it was something that is at the forefront of the minds of teenage boys and this time, Phil was the least accomplished. OK, fine, it was teenage girls and Phil was a bit of a dork at the time and not likely to be suave with the ladies.

Trying to fit into the discussion, Phil made — how do I put this? — a faux pas. Well, the three of us sensed weakness and jumped on him without remorse and it continued through the turn. By this time, Phil was walking down opposite side the fairway by himself and was crying.

The funniest part was that he was still lighting it up on the scorecard, and despite some exceptional play from Mr. May and myself, we lost.

I did not see Phil after that for about six or seven seven years.

The question begs:

“Monte, why are you telling this story about Phil? Are you trying to make yourself look cool that you had the upper hand on one of the all time greats because you had a little more experience with teenage girls.”

No, that is not why. At best it could be said I was just as afraid of girls as he was at the time, but I was just a little funnier and drove a fancier car. I tell this story because I am a huge fan of Phil and have been ever since he has been on Tour and this story is at the heart of why.

A few years ago, athletes of several sports were polled about which athlete in their own sport is the biggest jerk and most hated by his peers. To no one’s surprise, Terrell Owens topped the list. It surprised many that Phil was also on the list — the only golfer who made it. He has a nickname on the PGA Tour among many players and caddies who don’t care for him, FIGJAM, which stands for “(Expletive) I’m Good, Just Ask Me,” and I don’t get the animus.

Now back to my experience. Throughout the 90s, I lived at PGA West in La Quinta, where some famous rounds of the Bob Hope were played. One year I was hitting balls on the range because I was getting a sponsor exemption into the Bob Hope (it was later given to Mac O’Grady before the tournament started, but that is a story for another time) and here comes Phil walking right toward me. He was the new star on Tour and the darling of all the fans.

“Monte, how are you?” he asked.

“Good Phil, thanks,” I said.

“Congratulations on winning the long drive championship, how’s the rest of your game doing? Hoping to see you out here soon,” Phil said.

“Thank you, I am hoping to be out here soon too,” I said. “Um, Phil, forgive me for saying so, but I am surprised you are talking to me, since the last time I saw you, Bobby, Harry and I weren’t very nice to you.”

“Nah, I was being a punk and I deserved it, good luck this week,” he said.

I saw him a few more times after that and he went out of his way to say hello and encourage my progress to join him on the Tour. It is the opinion of this golfer that Phil is a class act and many of his peers don’t like him because he does what he wants and doesn’t care what other people think. The number of fans that love and root for him is second only to Tiger.

He is always there for the media, the autograph seekers and pro-am partners. The same cannot be said for many of the other Tour stars. Even though I was a player myself, I am still a fan of golf. And I put Phil’s first major victory at Augusta as one of favorite golf moment as a fan.

It was a long time coming, and for all he has done and continues to do for golf, he deserves it.

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Monte Scheinblum is a former World Long Drive Champion and Web.com Tour player. For more insights and details on this article, as well as further instruction from Monte go to rebelliongolf.com

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Patrick Wells

    Jun 13, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Awesome article! I hope he wins it. Plus I think he figured out the girl thing….Amy is a babe!!!

  2. Princeton_tn

    May 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    This was a great read, for those that know Phil, his Brother and Sister, the entire family is first class. We all have a bad day now and then and you hope your bad day isn’t a day that makes first impressions. Phil is long a fan favorite, for a reason, there are not many that stay out signing autographs for the kids and adults for an hour after a round. He does, never says No, and his encouragement of others on tour is unsurpassed. He like the rest of us, can make people feel small especially when they deserve it. Sometimes with nicknames like FIGJAM you must first consider the source.

    Thanks for sharing Monte, great story, even better read!!!

    All the Best…

    Princeton

  3. Blanco

    May 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Can’t stand the JAM.

    Best article ever.

  4. Shawn

    May 30, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Great Story Monte! Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Nora Grove

    May 30, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Phil Mickelson has been playing golf from his childhood. He is a classical player. He has many achievement in this side. I like him so much.

  6. Pingback: My latest GolfWrx story | Monte Scheinblum's Blog

  7. Joe

    May 29, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Wow, This story is an attention grabber, who are you? Phil cried when he was a boy, I bet you still cry yourself to sleep…

    • Jetski

      May 31, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Joe, is English your first language? Do you actually understand the point of the story? Did you make it all the way to the end? One day the internet is going to destroy itself through the weight of the inane stupidity dumped on it by the likes of you.

  8. Servost

    May 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Ive never heard that Phil was unliked on tour.

  9. Steve

    May 29, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Nice story. I had heard all that negative stuff about Phil as well. I tended to believe it until I met him one day. He was hanging out at a pool in San Diego. He must have been there for a couple of hours. He would throw a ball to his kids (perfect spirals right handed) and chatted with strangers who approached him. He seemed like a great guy.

    • MtnGgolfer1

      Jun 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      I am sure there are countless stories out there about how good of a guy Phil Mickelson is. He is deservingly so a fan favorite.

      I will go way back over a dozen years ago I can’t even remember the year. It was at the old International PGA event in Castle Pines, CO. The tournament was played at the Castle Pines Golf Club. The adjacent course is the Country Club course. I was still single at the time and every year at tournament time I spent every spare minute I had either watching or playing golf in Castel Pines Village. I had played an afternoon round with family members on the Country Club course and after the round we were having dinner in the club house and I caught word Phil Mickelson was on the putting green. ( I was and I still am a huge Phil fan) I excused myself from the table and went out to the green. Of course grabbing my putter from my bag on the way to the green. Phil was doing his famous putting drill where he putts from around the hole. I did my best not to be a distraction, members for the most part left the tour players alone but, every now and then someone walked up to say hello. I just watched and putted around trying to putt like Phil without much success though. After about an hour Phil walked over to me and asked what I thought of the milk shakes I was like huh what? He chuckled, asked my name and said let me see you roll a few. I putted a few and he gave me a couple quick pointers. Phil then excused himself said it was nice to meet you calling me by name and went on his way.

      My interaction with Phil was only a few minutes but, I still cherish it today. I noticed how he always smiled and never seemed annoyed no matter how many people interrupted his routine. I followed Phil without fail every year of the tournament and not once did I ever see him deny a autograph or sign without a smile. I admire his confidence, but I also admire how humble he is with his fan base. The chocolate Milk Shakes at CP are awesome BTW.

  10. naflack

    May 29, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Great story! Thank you for sharing it.

  11. JMD

    May 29, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Phil has consistently proven for over 20 years to be the CLASS Act ON AND OFF THE COURSE!!I’m tired of the bringing up of the “poll of biggest jerks” story of other sports stars who obviously were jealous of Phil and never were revealed. A story that grew wings at the time an IMO was a bunch of BS, but hey that is the press for you.

  12. Sean

    May 29, 2013 at 8:10 am

    ps: what also impressed me was that Phil was still able to play good golf even though we was upset with teenage shall we say angst?…as a teenager that’s not always easy to do. 🙂

  13. Sean

    May 29, 2013 at 8:05 am

    I enjoyed that story Monte. Thanks!

  14. greg

    May 29, 2013 at 6:25 am

    well, i guess if we ever hear figjam shouted out on tv at the tee box after phil’s tee shot, we know your a wrx’r

  15. Chris

    May 29, 2013 at 1:30 am

    Nice story Monte. You both turned out well!

  16. Long Drive Sheriff

    May 28, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Monte, you won the 1992 National Long Drive Championship. It was not called the World Long Drive Championship until the late 90’s

    • Monte Scheinblum

      May 29, 2013 at 12:24 am

      Good grief. I just had this discussion with Brian Pavlet. It’s the same contest, people know what the Remax World championship is, it’s just easier rather than explain what you are forcing me to explain now.

      Just like saying a web.com event instead of Nike or Ben Hogan event. Most people don’t know what a Hogan Tour event is.

      Did it make you happy to be the sheriff?

      • Long Drive Sheriff

        May 29, 2013 at 2:19 pm

        It’s not the same contest. It was called the National Long Drive Championship because the qualifiers were all held nationally. There was no international participation or qualifying participation from Europe, South Africa, Australia, Japan, etc etc etc at that event. I’ve never heard Big Cat say he is a 2 Time WORLD Long Drive Champion.

        • Snake Ize

          May 30, 2013 at 2:57 am

          It’s OK Monte…..LDS is likely jealous of your “World” Long Drive titles because he can’t get it past the ladies tees! It’s also likely that it was LDS who called CBS to rat out Tiger on his illegal drop at The Masters! Go figure!

  17. memphisunited

    May 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Monte – Great story and insight on Phil. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Reid

    May 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Super write up!

  19. G

    May 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    So, Monte, are you apologizing, is that it? Why not just say that you’re very sorry for not knowing how to not be a jerk. :-p

    • Monte Scheinblum

      May 28, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      Show me a teenage boy who knows how to not be a jerk…lol

    • R?K.Laury

      May 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      I have always found Phil Michelson to be great with the fans and always stays around to sign autographs. He sm a good father and husband and is not afraid to poke a little fun at himself. In my mind, he has proven himself as a great champion, especially in light of arthritis, a wife who suffered cancer and a difficult childbirth, never using any of those things as excuses. Dial in his last Masters win and look at the love between him and his wife after the victory. Truly a classy human being if I ever saw one.

  20. Mat

    May 28, 2013 at 11:59 am

    FIGJAM!

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Opinion & Analysis

Top 5 wedges of all time

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Wedges. They are the “trusted old friends” in our golf bags. They inspire confidence inside of 100 yards and help us get back on track when we hit a wayward approach.

There was a time not too long ago when a bunker was considered a true hazard, but over the last 80 years, as agronomy has evolved on the same trajectory as club an ball technology, wedges have changed a great deal along the way—from the first modern prototype wedge built by Gene Sarazen to clubs featuring various plating and coatings to increase spin and performance. There are a lot of wedge designs that have stood the test of time; their sole grinds, profiles from address, and performance bring back memories of great hole outs and recovery shots.

With so many variations of wedges in the history of golf (and so much parity), this is my top five list (in no particular order) of the most iconic wedges in golf history.

Original Gene Sarazen Wedge

An early Gene Sarazen wedge. (Photo: USGA)

Gene is famous for a lot of things: the career grand slam, the longest endorsement deal in professional sports history (75 years as a Wilson ambassador), the “shot heard around the world”, and as mentioned earlier—the creation of the modern sand wedge. Although not credited with the invention of the original  “sand wedge” he 100 percent created the modern wedge with a steel shaft and higher bounce. A creation that developed from soldering mass to the sole and flange of what would be our modern-day pitching wedge. Born from the idea of a plane wing, thanks to a trip taken with Howard Hughes, we can all thank Mr. Sarazen for the help with the short shots around the green.

Wilson R90

The next evolution of the original Sarazen Design, the Wilson R90 was the very first mass-marketed sand wedge. Its design characteristics can still be seen in the profile of some modern wedges. Although many might not be as familiar with the R90, you would almost certainly recognize the shape, since it was very often copied by other manufacturers, in their wedge lines.

The R90 features a very rounded profile, high amount of offset, and a great deal of bounce in the middle of the sole, with very little camber. Although not as versatile as modern wedges because of the reduced curve from heel to toe, the R90 is still a force to be reckoned with in the sand.

Cleveland 588

You know a name and design are classic when a company chooses to use the original notation more than 30 years after its initial release. The 588 was introduced as Cleveland’s fifth wedge design and came to market in 1988—which is how it got its name. Wedges were never the same after.

The brainchild of Roger Cleveland, the 588 was made from 8620 carbon steel—which patinad over time. Not unlike the Wilson before it, the 588 had a very traditional rounded shape with a higher toe and round leading edge. The other part of the design that created such versatility was the V-Sole (No, not the same as the Current Srixon), that offers a lot more heel relief to lower the leading edge as the face was opened up—this was the birth of the modern wedge grind.

Titleist Vokey Spin Milled

The wedge that launched the Vokey brand into the stratosphere. Spin-milled faces changed the way golfers look at face technology in their scoring clubs. From a humble club builder to a wedge guru, Bob Vokey has been around golf and the short game for a long time. The crazy thing about the Bob Vokey story is that it all started with one question: “who wants to lead the wedge team?” That was all it took to get him from shaping Titleist woods to working with the world’s best players to create high-performance short game tools.

Honorable mentions for design goes to the first 200 and 400 series wedge, which caught golfers’ eyes with their teardrop shape—much like the Cleveland 588 before it.

Ping Eye 2 Plus

What can you say? The unique wedge design that other OEMs continue to draw inspiration from it 30 years after its original conception. The Eye 2+ wedge was spawned from what is undoubtedly the most popular iron design of all time, which went through many iterations during its 10 years on the market—a lifecycle that is completely unheard of in today’s world of modern equipment.

A pre-worn sole, huge amount of heel and toe radius, and a face that screams “you can’t miss,” the true beauty comes from the way the hosel transitions into the head, which makes the club one of the most versatile of all time.

Check out my video below for more on why this wedge was so great.

Honorable mention: The Alien wedge

To this day, the Alien wedge is the number-one-selling single golf club of all time! Although I’m sure there aren’t a lot of people willing to admit to owning one, it did help a lot of golfer by simplifying the short game, especially bunker shots.

Its huge profile looked unorthodox, but by golly did it ever work! Designed to be played straight face and essentially slammed into the sand to help elevate the ball, the club did what it set out to do: get you out of the sand on the first try. You could say that it was inspired by the original Hogan “Sure-Out,” but along the way it has also inspired others to take up the baton in helping the regular high-handicap golfer get out of the sand—I’m looking at you XE1.

That’s my list, WRXers. What would you add? Let me know in the comments!

 

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The 19th Hole: Meet the world’s most expensive putter and the man behind it

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Host Michael Williams talks with Steve Sacks of Sacks Parente Golf about the idea and implementation of their revolutionary Series 39 blade putter. Also features PGA Professional Brian Sleeman of Santa Lucia Preserve (CA).

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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A day at the CP Women’s Open

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It’s another beautiful summer day in August. Just like any other pro-am at a professional tour event, amateurs are nervously warming up on the driving range and on the putting green next to their pros. As they make their way to the opening tees, they pose for their pictures, hear their names called, and watch their marque player stripe one down the fairway. But instead of walking up 50 yards to the “am tees,” they get to tee it up from where the pros play—because this is different: this is the LPGA Tour!

I’m just going to get right to it, if you haven’t been to an LPGA Tour event you NEED to GO! I’ve been to a lot of golf events as both a spectator and as media member, and I can say an LPGA Tour event is probably the most fun you can have watching professional golf.

The CP Women’s Open is one of the biggest non-majors in women’s golf. 96 of the top 100 players in the world are in the field, and attendance numbers for this stop on the schedule are some of the highest on tour. The 2019 edition it is being held at exclusive Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ontario, which is about an hour north of downtown Toronto and designed by noted Canadian architect Doug Carrick. The defending Champion is none other than 21-year-old Canadian phenom Brooke Henderson, who won in emotional fashion last year.

From a fan’s perspective, there are some notable differences at an LPGA Tour event, and as a true “golf fan,” not just men’s golf fan, there are some big parts of the experience that I believe everyone can enjoy:

  • Access: It is certainly a refreshing and laidback vibe around the golf course. It’s easy to find great vantage points around the range and practice facility to watch the players go through their routines—a popular watching spot. Smaller infrastructure doesn’t mean a smaller footprint, and there is still a lot to see, plus with few large multi-story grandstands around some of the finishing holes, getting up close to watch shots is easier for everyone.
  • Relatability: This is a big one, and something I think most golfers don’t consider when they choose to watch professional golf. Just like with the men’s game there are obviously outliers when it comes to distance on the LPGA Tour but average distances are more in line with better club players than club players are to PGA Tour Pros. The game is less about power and more about placement. Watching players hit hybrids as accurately as wedges is amazing to watch. Every player from a scratch to a higher handicap can learn a great deal from watching the throwback style of actually hitting fairways and greens vs. modern bomb and gouge.
  • Crowds: (I don’t believe this is just a “Canadian Thing”) It was refreshing to spend an entire day on the course and never hear a “mashed potatoes” or “get in the hole” yelled on the tee of a par 5. The LPGA Tour offers an extremely family-friendly atmosphere, with a lot more young kids, especially young girls out to watch their idols play. This for me is a huge takeaway. So much of professional sports is focused on the men, and with that you often see crowds reflect that. As a father to a young daughter, if she decides to play golf, I love the fact that she can watch people like her play the game at a high level.

There is a lot of talk about the difference between men’s and women’s professional sports, but as far as “the product” goes, I believe that LPGA Tour offers one of the best in professional sports, including value. With a great forecast, a great course, and essentially every top player in the field, this week’s CP Women’s Open is destined to be another great event. If you get the chance to attend this or any LPGA Tour event, I can’t encourage you enough to go!

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