It’s good to catch up with you again. You’ll remember I’m the Entertainment, Trademark, Internet, and Sports lawyer that’s also a golf writer – that colorful little skinny guy that usually dresses in all black, (sort of like a short, Italian version of Chi Chi Rodriguez, but I digress…). We’ve met a few times at tournaments and talked golf, but today I’m reaching out to you about the Haney Project.
Hank, I am perfect fit for the Haney Project and the Haney Project is a perfect fit for me.
Let me explain: my golf game sucks platypus eggs.
Let me further explain: I’ve played this game for forty years, and I’m getting worse, not better.
I started playing at age three. Our family was the quintessential ardent golfing family you find all across America. Mom and Dad have been married 50 years, and I’m certain golf was the cement of their marriage. Any time there was an argument, we all went to the golf course and patched things up. The family that plays together, stays together. Mom played 27 a day when I was a kid – 18 with the ladies, then nine more when Dad got home from work. In the summers, I’d be at the course at sunrise, and play until I couldn’t see the ball that night. Then I’d bring my girl to the practice green for a little night putting a la Ty Webb/Mitch Kumstein from Caddyshack (although she wasn’t the 15 year old daughter of the Dean…).
I played on my high school team and my college team (Division III), and I even got down to single digits before law school got in the way and I had to put the clubs aside for a while. But the game never leaves you, and perhaps in a bit if synchronicity, fate, or the will of the Golf Gods, (fickle as though they may be), I’ve become a golf writer as well as a lawyer.
But now my practice time has vanished. Where once I’d show up and hit my driver, my fairway woods, my irons, my wedges, and putt, now I show up, talk to the pro and the super, get literature on the course, shake hands with the club ambassadors, and race to the first tee, sometimes without even rolling a few putts. I’ve gone from a 10 or 11 to low-mid 20s, and there’s no reason for it. I’ve taken lessons from Laurie Hammer, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Bernie Hercig, and Hank Furgol, (nephew of Ed, who won the ’54 Open at Baltusrol).
I don’t have to suck platypus eggs, because sometimes I’m terrific:
—I can work the ball both ways,
—I love playing the ground game on links courses,
—I’m a whiz-kid when it comes to golf design and architecture, so I understand the proper shots to play,
—I have a sterling short game. I can roll in putts from three different area codes. With my wedges I can get up and down from the deck of a sinking ship. I’ve holed out bunker shots a bunch of times, (once with the pin twelve feet above my head), and once went an entire year without leaving a single ball in a bunker.
If I did any of those things in a Texas money game they’d shoot me on general principle. I can play this game, and have a great head for creative shots…
…but lately, from tee to about 100 yards away from the green, I’ve played absolutely hopeless golf.
—I’ve twice hit a tee marker and had the ball catapult backwards into the woods behind me – once in a Tour pro-am,
—As co-captain of the NYC golf writers’ team, I opened our yearly match against Philly last year triple, triple, quadruple, triple…and those are the easy holes,
—I once lost a match 8&7,
—And in the most mortifying moment of my entie golf life, while playing with the PGA head pro and Director of Golf of a chichi northeast country club, I was standing in the middle of the fairway with a wedge in my hand, (my money club), and hit a goofy slice. I turned to the pro, said “let me hit another and do this properly” whereupon I promptly reverse pivoted-smother-topped it so badly, the ball popped straight up in the air, and while I was holding my finish, bounced twice on the top of my head before dropping down next to me.
I think it smirked impudently at me as it lay there.
The pro still dines out for free on that story. (“Remember that shot you hit on 17??!! Blah-blah-blah blah??!!”)
Despite all that, I’m still the right guy for you to pick for the show, because I will get better, and I have interesting story lines as a subject. You want to work with me because I’ll go from a 25 to a 10 just as quickly as I went from 10 to 25. You’ll make a huge difference with me quickly, and every fan watching on TV will see that, which is exactly what the show is designed to do.
Moreover, as I have some experience doing golf podcasts and broadcast pieces, I can handle myself on camera. I can laugh at my bad shots, (everybody else will, that’s for sure), and I’m quick with a quip, so we’ll have some cracking good dialogue between us. I’m recovering from injury, (a separated shoulder – something is bumping and grinding in my arm like Miley Cyrus at the VMAs…). So that’s one good angle.
For another, I have lots of interesting golf-loving entertainers as clients, so you can work the celebrity angle into the show as well. Rock band Bowling for Soup – Texas’s favorite sons, for example – are golf crazy. Imagine a 350 lb. guitar player with a buttery-smooth shoulder turn and a sublime short game! Or a wild-haired, “Clown Prince of Rock ‘n’ Roll” lead singer with rapier wit and a laser beam long game…That’s a runaway ratings smash hit! Then there’s my girlfriend – the mega-gorgeous uber-hottie I’m teaching to play the game. She’s more gorgeous than Lindsey Vonn and Paulina Gretzky combined! There are countless compelling story lines here to keep viewer interest. The sky’s the limit.
Plus I’m an adopted Texan…by way of Dallas and Denton to be exact. Hook ‘em Horns!
Most importantly, this is about making my life that much happier. I am a golf writer, so I have to get better at my chosen profession. Remember what they said to Alister Mackenzie before he left for Australia to build his world famous Sand Belt courses:
“Alister, don’t ever let them see you play golf, they’ll never hire you again.”
I’m not yet at that point, but I’m getting close. Am I as bad as Charles Barkley or Barack Obama? Of course not – nobody is, (except maybe the platypus whose eggs my golf game sucks). But things are devolving rapidly, and when the wheels of my golf game come off on the course, comedy ensues, and it is not fun to be the focal point of the laughter. Backstage perhaps it’s particularly amusing, but not as the subject! Bottom line is, I hit the ball well on the range, I just need to learn how to take it out on the course and sustain it for 18 holes.
So there it is. Like I said – I’m a perfect fit for the Haney Project, and the Haney Project is just right for me. If you truly are the greatest golf coach in America, then here is the challenge for you: I need a Batman teacher to save me from my Joker golf game.
Are you up for it? I know I am. Let’s do this.
THIS ARTICLE WILL ALSO APPEAR AT CYBERGOLF.COM
Great catch here by Tony Korologos on poor Pablo getting stung 20 times by vicious hornets, then making a birdie. Well done, Pablo!
You know what we say at moments like this – That’s Reedonkyoulous!! Let’s go to the video:
“I’m gonna have to work on my 350 yard, left-handed slice for next year. Wish me luck,” quipped Graeme McDowell, after Bubba Watson claimed his second Green Jacket in three years with a shot that proved to be the defining moment of the 78th Masters. It was actually a 366 yard drive, it soared over the trees guarding the dog-leg of the iconic 13th hole at Augusta National like the Goodyear blimp, and it left Watson with just a 56-degree wedge into the green on perhaps the most famous par-5 in America. It was a jaw-dropping shot, a thunderous carronade that left everyone – patrons, media, and fellow golfers absolutely shell-shocked.
You’d have thought Godzilla was razing Tokyo again.
“It’s outrageous. It’s crazy,” said Bubba when they put his second Green Jacket on him. He meant winning the tournament, but the rest of us knew it was that drive that he was describing.
“They’re going to have to Bubba-proof 13,” joked ESPN’s Bob Harig, and while we hope he’s only joking, you can’t blame him for the metaphor. Watson not only secured a three shot lead he would take to the house with the resulting birdie, he made the final five holes of the tournament an afterthought.
“I’ve had wedge into 13 there a couple times,” he explained. “I knew it clipped a tree and it was cutting a little too much. But I knew I hit it hard, and when I heard the roar, I knew I could breathe again.”
Bubba’s closing 69 gave him an 8-under total of 280 for the week, three shots clear of both super-rookie Jordan Spieth, and rising European star Jonas Blixt. Miguel Angel Jimenez was fourth at 4
Bubba ruined the story of the tournament – maybe even the story of the decade – by holding off Spieth, who was trying to become the youngest winner in Masters history, (and in doing so win the Green Jacket on his first trip to Augusta National). Indeed, early on, it looked to be Spieth’s day. He electrified everyone by holing out a bunker shot at the difficult par-3 fourth hole to take a momentary two shot lead. He also birdied the tough par-3 sixth and looked unflappable, playing far beyond his 20 years of age and inaugural trip to the Masters.
But Watson matched both birdies, keeping his deficit to just two shots before powering past Spieth with additional birdies at the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth, while Spieth carded bogeys at both.
As an aside, it’s the second time Watson defeated a player who holed out a spectacular shot. Watson broke Louis Oosthuizen’s heart in 2012 after Oosty holed out for a double eagle in the final round.
Eight and nine were a seismic momentum shift, and you both could see and feel the sea change. Spieth, so sublimely calm and poised for 61 holes, suddenly looked human. They were his only back-to-back bogeys of the week, and the bogey at eight was the only six he carded all week.
“That was the turning point,” Watson confirmed during his post-round interview. In the course of 12 minutes Spieth’s two shot lead was now a two shot deficit, and after he committed the quintessential mistake at 12 – coming up short and rinsing his ball in Rae’s Creek – it was Bubba’s tournament to win.
And with that 366 yard cannon blast at 13 Bubba all but put a wrap on the Masters.
“Boy it’s a good thing the U.S.G.A. and R&A have done such a great job controlling technology,” deadpanned seminal European golf writer John Huggan. “Otherwise he might have driven the green.” Hall of Famer Dan Jenkins was even more laconic.
“Bubba sees throats, Bubba steps on throats,” he Tweeted, and – as usual – he was dead solid perfect. After keeping his ball dry through the 16th hole, Bubba’s last two holes were essentially a victory lap.
Now the self-described “New Age Redneck,” (his words), joins a pretty select group: players that have won two Masters titles in three years. How’s this for an exclusive club – Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Eldrick Tont Woods, Philip Alfred Mickelson, and now Gerry Lester Watson.
“Gerry Lester Watson?” asked golf fan Tim Ducey. “That’s almost as strange a name as ‘Thomas Brent Weekley.’” (That’s Boo, for those of you scoring at home.)
All day Bubba did what Bubba does best – he catapulted gargantuan drives into the fairways, he got up and down from the Waffle House on Washington Street, and he made medium length putts for clutch birdies and pars. Like a chess player who caught an opponent in a blunder, he took the lead, tightened the noose, and closed the deal. Bubba finished T-5 in the most important statistic at the Masters – Greens in regulation – now the ninth winner of the last 12 to be top five in that stat. He was also first in Driving Distance, (averaging 306 yards), T-13 in driving accuracy, and T-20 in putting, a strong week all around.
He’s an unlikely golf star. Charming, down home, humble, and grateful, he’s as great an ambassador for golf as a fan could ask for. It’s shocking that a few Internet trolls and atheists actually vilify him for his class and humility. But what can you do? Just keep doing what you do, that’s what. Haters are gonna hate, so players gotta play. Winning may not cure everything, but it will make the critics look stupid.
Meanwhile Jordan Spieth won the fans with his gutsy, plucky week. Sure he fizzled on the back nine, especially on the par-5s, (three over on last three par-5s won’t get it done on championship Sunday). But nobody made a Sunday charge this year, so you can’t point the finger at just Spieth. It was a great tournament for sixty three holes, but no one could keep pace with Bubba. It was as though that drive at 13 took the life out of the rest of the field.
“We knew right then it was Bubba’s day,” said McDowell, and he was right.
So as spun the club in his hands a la Tiger Woods on that final approach into 18 Bubba knew he could finally relax and enjoy that well-earned walk up 18. Who cares that he doesn’t fist pump? Who cares that Madison Avenue consistently underestimates him? Golf fans know one inalienable truth – people love a warm dweeb far more than a cool jerk. They don’t let you down when it matters most – as an ambassador of the game.
“I told Adam Scott we should just alternate putting the Green Jacket on each other,” Watson said in his victory speech. And you know what? As far as great golf and great people go, that sounds pretty darn good.
THIS ARTICLE ALSO APPEARED AT CYBERGOLF