February 17, 2013 - 6:26pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tiger Woods and Tim Rosaforte
Getty Images
Tim Rosaforte presented Tiger Woods with an award back in 2007; on Sunday, he broke the news of Woods' round with President Obama.

As we all know by now, President Obama played golf with Tiger Woods down in Florida today.

The news of this presidential pairing – Obama and Woods played with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, who also owns the private Floridian yacht and golf club, where Obama is spending the three-day Presidents Day holiday – was broken Sunday morning by Tim Rosaforte, who writes for Golf World and also appears on the Golf Channel.

In his dual roles, Rosaforte has become one of golf's most visible and valuable chroniclers – I'd rank him among the top five golf writers working today. He's also a nice guy – though he didn't make any friends among the White House press corps this weekend by scooping them so thoroughly.

Having lived in Washington, D.C., for almost two decades and having worked in both Congress and the government-covering media for several years, I know all too well that nothing irks the reporters who cover the White House like not having access to the President. In situations like today, reporters generally aren't allowed to accompany the golfers in an attempt to give them a modicum of privacy to enjoy their round – presidents sometimes allow media to tag along, but usually not.

And in fact, this weekend, the traveling press corps has been confined to what The Washington Post described as a ''party bus'' while Obama has been on-site at The Floridian. However, Rosaforte got access to the pro shop – not exactly riding in the cart with Obama and Woods, but way better than where the White House reporters have been stranded.

That, as you might suspect, has caused some hard feelings among the political scribes – who apparently haven't even laid eyes on Obama – especially after Rosaforte tweeted about Woods meeting up with Obama on the practice range and then beginning their round a little later.

''For much of this outing, the small contingent of the White House press corps accompanying Obama has lobbied with little success for more information about where precisely on the Floridian grounds the president is staying, who he is staying with, and how much contact he has with other people on the grounds,'' wrote Scott Wilson on The Washington Post's 'Post Politics' blog Sunday afternoon. ''A photo of Obama on the course with someone as famous as Woods is commonly a moment the 'traveling pool' of about a dozen journalists is allowed to witness. White House officials declined to allow that Sunday.''

Because the President's motorcade hasn't left the compound, White House officials explained, there was no reason for the pool to track the President's activities or to know who he is spending time with on a personal vacation. That is an argument often respected by the White House press corps, Wilson wrote, except this time Obama isn't staying in a private home.

''The debate over access had grown near-Talmudic in its intensity and detail,'' Wilson wrote. Rosaforte's presence ''prompted a sharp complaint from the White House Correspondents' Association over the way this trip — and Sunday's outing, in particular — has been handled by the administration in a way that has rendered it largely hidden from the traveling press.''

And, unsaid, is the fact that Rosaforte tweeted out the news of Tiger's presence at The Floridian and his round with Obama well before anyone in the White House press corps could do anything about it.

I haven't spoken to Rosaforte about how he found out about the Obama-Woods pairing or how he got better access than the White House reporters, but at this point it doesn't matter. He's the undisputed heavyweight champion of the golf journalists' world today.

February 17, 2013 - 12:47pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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President Obama and Tiger Woods at the White House
White House photo
Tiger Woods and President Obama have met in the White House but, until today, never on the golf course.

While several of golf's big stars are walking the fairways at Riviera today, it's fair to say that the game's most powerful pairing is playing a round 3,000 miles away in Palm City, Fla.

President Obama, as we all know, is spending this weekend down at The Floridian, playing golf and taking lessons from the likes of Butch Harmon and his son, Claude Harmon III.

And today, the President is putting those lessons to good use – he teed off with Tiger Woods, who made the quick trip up from his home in Jupiter, Fla. The round hasn't yet been confirmed by the White House, which has said very little about the golf weekend. But Tim Rosaforte of Golf World and the Golf Channel is at The Floridian, and has tweeted a few reports.

"The President is arriving at The Floridian range. Awaiting is Tiger Woods and club owner Jim Crane. Historic day in golf. Their first round," Rosaforte said on Twitter about mid-morning.

No media was allowed to accompany the golfers, but Rosaforte, hanging out in the pro shop, tweeted that "we received word that TW holed out greenside bunker No. 1 for birdie." Soon thereafter – obviously as word spread – Rosaforte reported that The Floridian website had crashed. "Bandwidth limit exceeded."

So we'll leave it at that for now. 

February 16, 2013 - 12:20am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Old photo of golfer anchoring belly putter
Keegan Bradley via Twitter
Keegan Bradley took to Twitter on Friday to show us this photo of a golfer from many decades ago anchoring a putter to his body.

By now, we all know Keegan Bradley's stance on the issues of belly putters and the proposed anchoring ban.

On Friday, he let a picture do the talking in his ongoing contention that the USGA and R&A ought to drop their plans to ban the anchoring of putter strokes and, therefore, keep long putters legal and valid.

While walking through the clubhouse at Riviera on Friday, he ran across the photo posted above. As you can see, it shows a golfer clearly anchoring a putter to his body many decades ago. Looking closely, that flat stick doesn't exactly look like a long putter, but it is definitely anchored.

To golfers interested in the anchoring debate, this photo is a bit like an archaeologist discovering new fossils that indicate the presence of humans farther back in time than anyone had thought. Photos like this show that at least some golfers have been anchoring for many decades, if not centuries. That fact might or might not change anyone's mind regarding whether anchoring should be okayed or outlawed, but it certainly adds a new dimension to the debate.

When he posted the photo on Twitter, all Bradley wrote was, ''Picture in Rivera clubhouse. Early 1900's.''

Clearly, that caption was his "drop the mic" moment.

 

 

February 15, 2013 - 11:27am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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President Obama
OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA
President Barack Obama is headed to Palm City, Fla., for some golf instruction from Butch Harmon and son, Claude III.

 

President Barack Obama will be headed to Palm City, Fla., to play some golf this weekend. 
 
President Obama -- The First Lefty (?) -- won't just be playing golf at the immaculate The Floridian GC.
 
Tim Rosaforte reports on GolfDigest.com that the Harmons -- Butch and his son Claude III -- are also headed to Palm City. The Harmons will be providing Obama with some instruction.
 
Rosaforte wrote:
 
The President's host, club owner Jim Crane, also owns the Houston Astros. He received a call last week playing the AT&T National Pro-Am about the President's interest in his facility. As part of his remodeling of the club, Crane hired Butch Harmon to design and build a state-of-the-art learning facility that includes a gym, indoor hitting bays, launch monitors, a putting lab and the latest in video cameras.
 
"He's a left-handed player, I've seen film of his swing before," said Harmon, who analyzed Obama's swing when the President first took office. "It'll be fun to get him down in the learning center, show him stuff in his golf game and see how he takes it to the course. He's just like all of us that play golf. He wants to get better."
 
 
GolfDigest.com also has a photo gallery of President Obama playing golf. You can view that here.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
February 14, 2013 - 11:37pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Courtesy of Matrix Shafts

Valentine's Day prompted several of golf's most prominent equipment and accessory companies to get creative in their commemoration of love and golf. Some were blatantly commercial, but most were clever and kinda fun. We picked out a dozen or so of the best images and have assembled them in a special photo gallery.

And we closed it out with one very ''punny'' entry from one of our favorite golf characters. So be sure you go to all the way to the end for his groaner of a curtain-dropper.

Click here to see the gallery – and Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

February 14, 2013 - 6:18pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Trevor Immelman
Getty Images
The 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, Trevor Immelman, was surprised by the USGA's decision to end the almost century-old event. Like all past champions, Immelman has fond memories of the tournament.

The USGA’s recent announcement that one of its oldest championships, the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, would be eliminated after 2014 caught a lot of people off guard, including some of the event’s most prominent past champions.

“I must say I was definitely caught by surprise,” said Trevor Immelman, who won the Pub Links at Torrey Pines in 1998.“ After reading through the release I understand what they’re saying. Back in the day, the Pub Links was for people who were not members of the USGA because only members of the USGA were allowed to enter the U.S. Amateur. Now that all those rules have changed and anyone can enter the U.S. Amateur and compete, there really is no need for the Pub Links. But, man, there is such a great history behind that tournament.”

Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Moore, Billy Mayfair, Tim Clark and D.J. Trahan all won the Pub Links, but the event also showcased such colorful champions as Omer Bogen and Smiley Quick. Reactions have varied, but all living champions are wistful that an event dating back to 1922 is being kicked to the curb.

“I’m sure they have their reasons,” Immelman said. “Maybe the casual observer doesn’t realize how many tournaments they put on between the men’s and women’s Amateurs, the U.S. Junior, the Mid-Amateurs, it is quite a busy schedule, so I guess they’re trying to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of so they can grow. That’s the tricky part. Change is difficult for everybody. [The Pub Links] is almost 100 years, so that part of it is tricky, because people obviously have an emotional attachment to it.”

For years the Pub Links has not only allowed public course golfers their own championship, it has given top-flight amateurs another avenue to earn an invitation to the Masters. That is how Immelman made his first trip to Augusta National in 1999.
 
“It was always a goal of mine to play in the Masters as an amateur,” he said. “I lost in the finals of the British Amateur the year before, which was devastating, but [the Pub Links] provided me with another avenue to earn an invitation.”
 
Now that avenue will be gone.
 
“Augusta National has the tournament in Asia [the Asia Pacific Amateur] now, so there’s another chance for an amateur to play in the Masters,” Immelman said. “It’s the USGA’s call. Like I say, I was surprised when I heard about it, but it’s one of those things.”