Sep 22, 2015 | 09:52 am

Sad History

“Gimmegate”—Suzanne Pettersen’s refusal to concede a pivotal putt during last weekend's Solheim Cup—sadly is just the most recent in a history of instances of bad sportsmanship during the past two decades or so of international team competition. Consider: 1993: Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson, at a dinner prior to the matches, refuses to the sign the dinner program of his opposite captain Sam Torrance; 1989: Captain Ray Floyd introduces his U.S. team as the "12 best players in the world”; 1991: Seve Ballesteros audibly coughs as Paul Azinger plays a shot, prompting Azinger to brand him “the king of gamesmanship" and Seve to refer to Team USA as “11 nice guys plus Azinger”; 1999: after Justin Leonard sinks a seagoing birdie putt on the 17th green of The Country Club, American players trample the green in premature celebration, with Leonard’s opponent Jose-Maria Olazabal still having a putt to tie (the same year Colin Montgomerie, arguably the real hero of the matches, suffered a torrent of verbal abuse by fans and Mark O’Meara, David Duval, and Tiger Woods hinted they’d like to be paid to play in the Ryder Cup);  2000: Annika Sorenstam holes a chip shot during the Solheim Cup and America’s Kelly Robbins makes her replay it because Sorenstam has hit out of turn; 2007: NBC announcer and former LPGA player Dottie Pepper, unaware that her microphone is open, calls two of the American Solheim Cup players “choking freaking dogs”;  2014: In the post-mortem press conference, Phil Mickelson throws his captain Tom Watson under the bus. It all suggests that we’ve begun to take these matches—intended to foster international good will—a bit too seriously. Better to remember 46 years ago when Jack Nicklaus conceded that 18th hole putt—twice the length of the one Pettersen refused to concede--to Tony Jacklin, allowing the 1969 Ryder Cup to finish in a tie. 

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Sep 21, 2015 | 06:23 am

Keeping Up With Jones

No matter who you think the best golfer is today, the list of best all time must include Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones, who won 13 major championships—including the "Grand Slam"—between 1923 and 1930 (when the majors were the U.S. and British Open and Amateurs), created Augusta National and The Masters, and was one of the most popular sports figures of his day. Through the end of November, an exhibit of Jones artifacts is on display at Emory University in Atlanta, where, according to, Dr. Robert Tyre Jones IV recently attributed his grandfather’s greatness to three key factors. First, Bobby “believed a golf tournament was won or lost before the first ball had even been struck,” Dr. Jones said. Second, he stayed in the moment, something Jones was so good at, his grandson said, that sometimes Bobby had no memory of a shot after he’d hit it. And third, he played the course, not the competitors. Other facts about Jones, according to his descendant: He didn’t eat solid food until he was five, he played his first tournament at age 6 and won a small silver cup that he kept the rest of his life, and from 1916 until 1930 he never lost in match play to the same opponent twice.

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Sep 18, 2015 | 01:08 pm

Sehr Gut!

The club hosting the Solheim Cup this weekend is the Golf Club St. Leon-Rot and it's located in Germany between Frankfurt and Stuttgart. Never heard of it? Well, the club was founded by Dietmar Hopp, the CEO, as well as one of the founders, of software giant SAP (think of the logo on the front of Ernie Els's hat), which has its corporate HQ nearby. Hopp, a single-digit handicapper, wanted to create a great club that was commited to developing junior golf. The Hannes Schreiner-designed Rot course opened in 1997 and hosted the Deutsche Bank/SAP Open in 1999 and 2001, both of which Tiger Woods won. Woods also won the event in 2002 on the club's newer St. Leon course, which English architect Dave Thomas designed and is the one the ladies are playing this week. Apparently Hopp wasn't too fond of the tight, hilly courses in the area, so the both courses are relatively flat and wide open with generous fairways. Both courses are always in immaculate condition, while length and lots of water in play will be the biggest factors during the Solheim Cup. The coolest thing at the club is the indoor practice green, which you can see in the video above. Clearly, it's a popular spot in the wintertime.

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Sep 17, 2015 | 01:02 pm

A Little Something For The Effort

Let’s start with the obvious question: Who knew there was a Caddie Hall of Fame? Lots of people will now, after Bill Murray and his five brothers were inducted into it last night. The informal (judging by their attire, at any rate) ceremony was held after the pro-am for this week’s BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois. The five Murray boys—Bill, Andy, Brian, Ed, Joel, and John—caddied as kids at Indian Hill Club in Winnetka, Illinois, and their exploits became the basis for the movie “Caddyshack,” which was written by Brian and starred Bill and Brian. The Caddie Hall of Fame was created in 1999 and has been administered by the Western Golf Association since 2011. The Murrays join such illustrious company as former caddies Jack Nicklaus (who carried for his dad), Bandon Dunes creator Mike Keiser, instructor Harvey Penick, Francis Ouimet, Old Tom Morris, and Tour caddies Steve Williams, Greg Rita, and Mike “Fluff” Cowan. Asked about the event, Bill said, “I’m just afraid they’re going to make me caddie again.” Now that would be a Cinderella story.

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