Earlier this month, my PGA.com colleague TJ Auclair hopped on the Golf Buzz and posted a photo of a guy with a Davis Love III tattoo.
OK, TJ. I see your Davis Love and raise you a Bubba Watson.
Check out the photo above. It's of a guy with a huge Bubba tattoo on his calf. And while the Love tat is kinda fuzzy, this Bubba ink features a pretty clear Ping visor and a big, pink driver.
Even more impressive, I contend, is that this guy appears to be German – check out the German flag on his other calf. Also, the photo was taken by Ping Golf Europe on Tuesday at the European Tour's BMW International Open in Munich, Germany.
The Ping folks didn't provide any other details of this big-time Bubba fan, other than to confirm that the tattoo is real – and it's spectacular.
As we all saw, Phil Mickelson was mightily disappointed at his sixth runner-up finish in the U.S. Open on Sunday. K. Sean Packard has found a bit of silver lining: Mickelson saved a ton in federal and California state taxes.
The topic is pertinent, of course, because Mickelson went public with his concerns about his tax rate earlier this year. His comments prompted strong reactions both critical and supportive, and he ultimately apologized to ''anyone I might have upset or insulted.''
''By tying for second place, he earned $696,104. Had he held on and won the tournament he would have made $1.44 million,'' Packard, a CPA who specializes in tax planning and the preparation of tax returns for professional athletes, wrote on Forbes.com. ''He cost himself $743,896 in prize money by failing to close the deal on Sunday. Maybe Mickelson can take solace that he saved $76,100 in California income taxes?
''In November, the voters in Mickelson's home state chose to increase the nation's highest tax rate from 10.3% to 13.3%,'' Packard explained. ''California's tax on the difference between first and second place prize money would have amounted to about $98,900. Pennsylvania's 3.07% tax on the difference (roughly $22,800) would have been taken as a credit on his California return to avoid double-taxation. Thus the net California tax difference between Mickelson's first U.S. Open victory and yet another second would have been $76,100.''
But that's not all, Packard notes. Mickelson's bonuses from his sponsors – including Callaway, Barclay's, KPMG, Exxon Mobil, Rolex and Amgen – would have added up to about $2.5 million, according to a Forbes estimate. And that would have triggered an additional California tax bill of more than $300,000.
Adding in his tax savings from the prize money, and Mickelson likely saved $400,000 in California taxes alone (federal taxes would have eaten up another $1.3 million or so), he said.
Mickelson was spared the angst of paying an even higher tax bill, Packard said. But, he notes – and no doubt we all agree – ''something tells me he would have happily written the check to take home the trophy he covets.''
One of my favorite parts of one of my favorite golf trips ever was when a friend and I spent several days in Northern Ireland, playing courses like Royal County Down and Royal Portrush – after all these years, Royal County Down is still one of my all-time favorites. As a result, I've always had a soft spot for Northern Ireland, and have been pleased to see players like Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell earn some golfing glory for their homeland.
Northern Ireland is making headlines today and Tuesday because the Lough Erne Golf Resort near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh is hosting the Group of Eight economic summit. From what I've seen, President Obama and his G8 counterparts from the United Kingdom, Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan probably won't squeeze any golf in between their economic dealmaking sessions. That's a shame because, heck, why go to a golf resort if you're not gonna tee it up?
I haven't been back to Northern Ireland since Lough Erne opened in 2007 – it wasn't fully completed until 2009 – but it sounds like quite a place. It's described as the only five-star golf resort in Northern Ireland, and occupies its own private peninsula jutting out into Lough Erne.
The 120-room main hotel is ''a Provencal-inspired chateau, buttressed by a terrace of turreted rental lodges,'' according to a recent review on Boston.com. Inside the ''French facade was an interior of gentrified Anglo-Irish touches: roaring fires in the lobby, a lavish library to while away a morning with local literature, and a pleasing garden room for afternoon tea.''
Lough Erne has two championship courses – the Castle Hume Golf Course and the signature Nick Faldo Course, which was designed by six-time major winner Nick Faldo and consistently ranks among the top 100 courses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In fact, there's a big statue of Faldo on site, and Faldo has a special connection with the property. Lough Erne has the only Faldo Golf Academy in Europe, and last September the facility hosted the 2012 finals of junior golf's Faldo Series (McIlroy is a previous Faldo Series champion).
Perhaps not surprising given the global economic situation, the resort went into ''administration'' – the British equivalent of bankruptcy – last year, and is for sale. The entire property – including hotel, guest lodges, golf facilities and more, cost approximately $50 million to build, according to published reports, and now could be had for as little as $15 million.
There's a lot of bucket-list golf competition in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and, honestly, most of the standout courses are a lot more convenient to reach than Lough Erne. But then again, places like Bandon Dunes are thriving in part because of their remote locations. So $15 million sounds like a deal.
In fact, I know a young English chap named Justin Rose who picked up a check for $1.4 million just yesterday. That looks like the perfect down payment to me.