August 12, 2016 - 11:04am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
There are few things T.J. Auclair (right) enjoys more than taking in a round of golf with his dad and brother.

I have never enjoyed playing golf as much in my life as I do now.

And the funny thing is, I'm not nearly the player I was 15 years ago (if you consider someone who hovered just below a 10 handicap at his very best a "player"). My scores may be higher these days, but my love for golf is as strong as it's ever been.

Maybe I took it for granted when I was a teenager, being fortunate enough to play 36 holes per day in the summer months when I was out of school, or the year before my first child was born -- 2013 -- when I logged 70+ rounds, four of which came at the paradise that is Bandon Dunes.

I have two boys now -- ages 2 1/2 and 6 months. Along with marrying my beautiful wife Erin, Tommy (my oldest) and Jack are the best things that have ever happened to me.

As anyone with children can attest, life gets hectic. Time -- at least personal time -- isn't what it once was. That's the way it should be. Being a father is the greatest "job" I've ever had and I wouldn't change it for the world.

RELATED: Here are the 9 things that drive me crazy on the golf course

Being a father -- or perhaps just being an adult -- gives you some perspective, at least that's what I've been told. As a 36-year-old man, that perspective has extended to the golf course.

Here are the nine things that I absolutely love about golf.

9. Being outside. This seems pretty basic, but when you're chained to a desk sitting at a computer most of the day, getting four straight hours in nature, breathing in that fresh air and freshly cut grass is just therapeutic, isn't it?

8. Discovering new courses. Anyone who plays the game regularly has a couple of "go-to" courses, the ones you play most of the time when you're able to get out. But how much fun is it when you get to discover something new? Maybe you're used to playing a parkland style course and, for you're next round, you're headed out to play a linkstyle course right by the water. While courses have plenty of similarities, no two are exactly alike. Rather than just walking up and hitting my shot, I like to take in each hole and appreciate its beauty. If you don't do that already, you might want to try it. You might discover that there are design elements to a particular hole -- even on a course you play all the time -- that you never noticed before.

7. The nerves. This is easily one of the things I love most about golf these days. It's an excited anticipation. Yes, I get butterflies when I get to the first tee for my casual rounds of golf. The score when I finish isn't always what I had hoped for (actually, it's rarely ever what I hoped for... but that's what keeps us coming back, right?), but I know it's going to be fun.

6. Pulling off a shot/Having a great hole. Isn't it the best when you decide to hit a shot you probably shouldn't even attempt, or have no business hitting -- maybe threading the needle between two trees -- and then somehow pull it off?

Just last week -- playing my regular course with my dad -- I smashed a drive on a par 5 and had just a 5-iron left to the green. The second shot was blind since there's a significant drop off 50 yards in front of the green. I struck a pure shot, knew I hit it great, but had no idea where it would finish. As we approached the green, I was delighted to see that it had nestled up roughly 2 feet from cup. A few moments later, I brushed in the short eagle putt. In hundreds of rounds at this course dating back to when I was 9 years old, I had never eagled it. Man did that feel good... until the next hole, a 135-yard, uphill par 3....

5. The game's humbling nature. So, fresh off the eagle, I have the honor on this straightforward par 3. Feeling good about myself and doing the "if I can par in these last three holes, I'll shoot..." in my head before sticking the tee in the ground, I immediately proceeded to top the ball and it traveled 30 yards. You've got to be kidding me. All I could do is look at my dad, shake my head, laugh and say, "This is some game, isn't it?" Shots like that is why this game will never get boring. Just when you think you've got it all figured out, it puts you in your place. It is worth noting I managed to card an all-world bogey!

4. Buddy trips. While I've played a bunch of insanely beautiful courses in ridiculously beautiful places through the years thanks to this gig, I've only truly had one stretch that would qualify as a "buddy trip." It was a two-day jaunt over to Bandon Dunes for 72 holes of golf with a dear friend and former colleague. If money were no object, I'd do it multiple times a year. It was that good. I'm not even just talking about the courses. Those were mesmerizing for sure. But, the banter between two friends; the matches; the dinners; the time together. It was just the ultimate golf experience. We were absolutely wiped out after walking that epic 72-hole trek, but we have pictures and created memories that will last a lifetime. Remember: This doesn't mean your buddy trip has to be to Bandon Dunes. It could simply be a trip for 2-3 days just far enough from home that you need to stay a night or two to play a few courses you haven't played. You'll love it.

3. My Uncle Manny. While I was fortunate to have two grandfathers all through my childhood, neither played golf. My great, great Uncle Manny, however, he was a golf junkie and the biggest influence in my life in developing my love of the game. Tell me another sport/activity that you can enjoy every summer for years with someone who is 60+ years your senior. He taught me lessons on how to play the game, how to act on the course, how to be a gentleman and -- most of all -- how to have fun. He swore. He got mad when he hit a bad shot. He made me feel like I was Jack Nicklaus in his prime when I hit a great shot. Quite simply, he was the best and the main man in the regular foursome -- my favorite foursome -- filled out by myself, my dad and my brother. When Uncle Manny passed away at age 87 in 2003 -- one month before my 23rd birthday -- sure, I was sad. But, I couldn't help but smile recollecting on all the incredible times we spent together on the golf course from when I first played at age 5, all the way up to the summer before his death. To this day -- some 13 years after he passed -- I'll be playing a hole and catch myself either remembering a shot he hit, a joke he made, or close my eyes during an early morning round and see him in his ridiculous outfit with his socks pulled up over the bottom of his pants almost up to his knees so that the morning dew "won't get my trousers wet, Skip (that's what he called all of us)."

2. Playing with my dad and brother. This one only happens because of what Uncle Manny created in No. 3 on this list. It used to happen all the time. By all the time, I mean literally every week-day in the summer months growing up. Now? We're lucky if the three of us get to play together 2-3 times a year. Whether it's at our local muni or a more well-known course, those 2-3 rounds have easily become my favorites of the year every year. Things are hectic for the three of us, but that time spent together on the course and the beer to talk about it afterwards is just priceless.

1. The anticipation for the years to come. I've spent nearly half my life in the golf business and and all but the first four years of my life playing the game. Friends joked with me that when I had children, their first "toy" would likely be a golf grip. The truth is, I couldn't care less if Tommy or Jack routinely shoot in the 70s when they get older, or never break 100 in their lives (of course I want them to accomplish whatever their goals are for the game). I just hope they develop a love of the game like I have and share with my dad and brother because -- God willing -- it's four hours we'll be able to spend together bonding, telling jokes, busting chops and overall just enjoying one another's company. At the end of the day, isn't that what it's all about?




The 9 reasons I love golf
August 10, 2016 - 11:42am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
Tiger Woods' "Tiger Slam" is one of the game's greatest achievements, but it isn't No. 1.

I've been tasked with the impossible: Ranking golf's 9 greatest achievements, in order. How do you even do that?

Who is this schmuck to decide which is better than the other when just about any one of us would dine on a haggis-only diet everyday for the rest of our lives to have accomplished just one of them?

With the realization that ranking these achievements in an order all of us could agree on, is nearly as difficult as reaching just one of the feats that follow. As I run to take cover, here goes nothing...

9. Jim Furyk's 12-under 58. OK. If I'm being honest, it felt dirty putting the number "9" in front of this entry. One, because Furyk is the only player in PGA Tour history to accomplish such a feat. Two, before shooting that number this past Sunday at TPC River Highlands (a par 70) in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship, he was the last player on Tour to shoot a 59. He did that on On September 13, 2013, at Conway Farms (12 under since the course was a par 71) in the second round of the BMW Championship. So why is this just No. 9 even though it's something that had never happened before on the PGA Tour? I guess the only logical explanation is because it's so new.

8. Jack Nicklaus' 19 runner-up finishes in the majors. Some may argue that this isn't necessarily an "achievement" since it didn't result in victory. I'd argue that there's an exception to every rule and this is one of them because of the man we're talking about. Nicklaus -- the winningest major champion of all time (more on that later) -- also has more runner-up finishes than any player in the game's history. That's almost unfathomable. As ridiculous as this sounds -- and no less than 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III pointed out recently -- Nicklaus could be considered the most snake-bitten golfer of all time based on that stat. The next-most runner-up finishes in majors? That would be 11 by Phil Mickelson. Back to Nicklaus -- 18 major championship wins and 19 times a runner up. Think about that.

7. Sam Snead's 82 PGA Tour victories. That's just astounding. Only two other players in the game's history have more than 70 PGA Tour wins (Jack Nicklaus, 73; Tiger Woods, 79). Here are some other incredible Snead fun facts:

- Oldest to win a PGA Tour event, the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open, at 52 years, 10 months and 8 days.

- By winning the 1960 De Soto Open Invitational, Snead became the first player to win PGA Tour titles in four different decades (since matched by Raymond Floyd).

- Oldest player to make the cut at a major: age 67 years, 2 months, 7 days at the 1979 PGA Championship.

- First PGA Tour player to shoot his age with a 67 in the second round of the 1979 Quad Cities Open.

- Oldest player to make a cut on the PGA Tour: age 67 years, 2 months, 21 days at the 1979 Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic.

- Only player to post a top-10 finish in at least one major championship in five different decades.

6. Francis Ouimet wins the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. This wasn't just an amazing singular accomplishment. It was also the reason for a golf boom in the United States. When Ouimet won the national championship as a 20-year-old amateur (on his home course, no less), he became the "father of amateur golf" in the United States by taking down the likes of famous, accomplished professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. When you think of American golf legends, you think of names like Jones, Nelson, Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer, Woods. Keep in mind, Ouimet was the first "hero" in American golf.

5. Byron Nelson's 1945 season. In all, Nelson won 52 times in his illustrious PGA Tour career, including four majors. Remarkably, 18 of those victories came in the 1945 season, including 11 in a row. He entered 30 tournaments that year and won 18 of them. Are you serious? In seven of those 30 starts, Nelson was the runner up. Nelson's scoring average in 1945 was 68.34, bettered by only one player in the game's history -- Tiger Woods. Woods had a scoring average of 68.17 in his historic 2000 season.

4. Ben Hogan's 1953 "Triple Crown" season. Just four years removed from a horrific car accident that nearly claimed his life, Hogan put together one of the finest season's in the game's history. He entered just six events total and won five of them, including three major championships (the "Triple Crown") -- the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. Hogan never had a chance to complete the "Grand Slam" that year because the Open Championship (July 1-7) at Carnoustie overlapped the PGA Championship (July 6-10). It was the only time that a golfer had won three major professional championships in a year until Tiger Woods won the final three majors in 2000 (and the first in 2001).

3. The Tiger Slam. Otherwise known as the "non-calendar year Grand Slam." Woods accomplished this feat by winning the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, 2000 Open Championship at St. Andrews, 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla and then the 2001 Masters. Since his four consecutive major victories did not come in the same season, he couldn't claim a "grand slam." While not deemed a "grand slam" holding all four trophies at the same time in the four biggest tournaments in professional golf was remarkable. Four majors in a row.

Whether you want to call it a "Grand Slam" or a "Tiger Slam" you can't deny that it's simply unbelievable.

2. Bobby Jones and the "Impregnable Quadrilateral." Before the majors were what we know them to be today (Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship), they consisted of these four tournaments: The Amateur Championship (also known as the British Amateur), the Open Championship, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur.

In 1930, legendary amateur golfer Bobby Jones won all four tournaments -- The Amateur Championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews; The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England; the U.S. Open at Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota; and the U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania.

O.B. Keeler, a legendary writer and friend of Jones, coined the feat the "Impregnable Quadrilateral" -- a phrase we know today as "The Grand Slam." Jones was the first -- and remains the only -- player to win all four major championships in a single season.

It's one thing to win all four majors in a season. It's another thing to "know" you're going to do it. Early in 1930, before the first tournament of the Slam, Jones placed a bet on himself to win all four with British bookmakers at 50-to-1 odds. After he did it, Jones collected over $60,000 in winnings.

1. Jack Nicklaus' 18 major championship victories. While you can easily make arguments for or against the order of the achievements listed above, is there any denying that this is the undisputed No. 1? Here's the breakdown:

Masters: 6
- 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986

U.S. Open: 4
- 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980

Open Championship: 3
- 1966, 1970, 1978

PGA Championship: 5
- 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980

That's a career Grand Slam triple. The next closest in major wins to Nicklaus is Tiger Woods with 14. You know how some sports have those seemingly untouchable records -- Barry Sanders' 14 consecutive 100-yard rushing games; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 career points; Wayne Gretzky's 2,857 career points; Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak; Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2,632 consecutive games played? In golf, the Golden Bear's 18 major wins is the pinnacle.  

Ranking golf's 9 greatest achievements
August 8, 2016 - 2:06pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Al Geiberger
@PGATOUR on YouTube
On June 10, 1977 -- 39 years ago today -- Al Geiberger became the first player in PGA Tour history to card a score of 59.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on June 10, 2016.

It's almost unfathomable to imagine a PGA Tour player winning a non-major without a single round in the 60s, isn't it?

But 39 years ago this week, that's precisely what Al Geiberger did in the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. In fact, only two of Geiberger's four rounds were under par that week on the par-72 layout at Colonial Country Club (not to be confused with the club of the same name in Fort Worth, Texas).

Geiberger's 15-under 273 total was the winning mark.

Only two sub-par rounds -- neither in the 60s -- and a 15-under total, you say? How is that possible?

It's possible because on this very day -- June 10 -- 39 years ago in 1977, Geiberger carded the PGA Tour's first score of 59 (11 birdies, 1 eagle) in the second round of that tournament.

It should be noted that the lift, clean and place provision was in place during that round, but as Geiberger -- an 11-time PGA Tour winner and a member of winning U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 1967 and 1975 -- told Bill Fields at Golf Digest a few years back, that didn't matter.

"We were playing improved lies, but I don't ever remember doing it," the 1966 PGA Champion Geiberger told Fields on the 35th anniversary. "As you came off every tee, there was a dip in the terrain where they had winter kill. But the fairways, where we were playing to, were pretty nice. I think the field staff didn't want to go chalk off every canyon. Most of the low areas that were damaged, we were playing over those."


If your a cynic about a sub-60 score with lift, clean and place -- and, seriously, who are we to judge -- give all the credit in the world to Geiberger for what he accomplished on the bumpy, grainy Bermuda greens.

Along with hitting every fairway and every green that day, Geiberger also used just 23 putts to become golf's "Mr. 59." Of those 23 putts, nine were birdie putts outside of 10 feet -- 166 feet of birdie putts overall.

Now are you impressed?

As it can be this time of year, the weather was a bit steamy in Memphis that day with temperatures topping out at 97 degrees.

"It was a miserable day, hotter than hell, and I was trying regroup, collect my thoughts," Geiberger told Fields.

Here's a down-the-line look at Geiberger's rhythmic swing:

Since Geiberger's magical 59, there have been just five others on the PGA Tour [editor: before Jim Furyk's 58] Chip Beck (Sunrise GC in 1991); David Duval (PGA West Palmer Course in 1999); Paul Goydos (TPC Deere Run in 2010); Stuart Appleby (TPC Old White in 2010); and Jim Furyk (Conway Farms in 2013).

Annika Sorenstam remains the only player in LPGA history to shoot 59. She did it at the Standard Register PING tournament in 2001. 

Celebrating the 39th anniversary of Al Geiberger's 59
Tommy Morrissey, pinehurst resort
YouTube / Pinhurst1895
Five-year-old Tommy Morrissey can do some spot-on impersonations of the swings of golf greats.

Tommy Morrissey is already a sensation. The 5-year-old golfer, who was born with one arm, has made headlines across the country and gotten to play and meet Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth and more.

His legend continues to grow, including qualifying for the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships this week at Pinehurst.

Leading up to the event, Pinehurst brought Morrissey to its golf academy to check out his incredible swing. Young Tommy did not disappoint, pulling out imitations of some of the most recognizable golf swings in the game, including Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and even Arnold Palmer.

Most importantly, Morrissey and his father never seems to lose sight of just how much fun the game can be.




Inspirational Tommy Morrissey imitates pro golfer's swings
bubba watson, olympics, golf shoes
Twitter / BubbaWatson
As you'd expect, Bubba Watson is looking to make a splash at the Olympics, unveiling some crazy American-flag themed golf shoes.

With all four majors of the season behind us, the focus of the golf world turns to pride for country with the Olympics this month and the Ryder Cup in September.

For someone like Bubba Watson, that means a lot of time representing the red, white, and blue. And the man that brought us the golf cart hovercraft and then the golf cart jetpack wasn't going to simply let that opportunity pass by without some extravagent something.

That something was revealed to us on Bubba's Twitter page.

The trend of high-top golf shoes has been going around recently, seen on such players as Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy. But I don't think it's ever been done quite like this.

With these walking American flags on his feet, Bubba Watson is going to be hard to miss at the Olympics in Rio.

Bubba Watson unveils patriotic shoes for Olympics
July 28, 2016 - 4:09pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
@tom_kocks on Instagram
This is one of the most dangerous trick shots we've ever seen.

This is one of the most dangerous trick shots we've ever seen.

According to The Big Lead, this is Tom Kocks -- golf coach at Indiana Tech -- going all "Happy Gilmore" with a wedge. No big deal, right? Except for the terrifying fact that there's a young man standing right in front of Kocks.

Check it out:


Happy Gilmore short game. #trickshottuesday

A video posted by Tom Kocks (@tom_kocks) on

Thank goodness that went over his head. My palms are sweating. 

Golf coach hits flop shot -- Happy Gilmore style -- over young man's head