Johnny Headline: 10 Ridiculous Johnny Manziel Headlines You Might Actually See Before Training Camp Opens

Image

         If you’ve followed the sports news cycle, especially as it’s reported by a certain NFL-manic sports cable channel out of Bristol, you know that you can turn on the TV at most any hour and expect to see a Johnny Manziel story.

         Johnny Football’s ability to make headlines is now only rivaled in the sports realm by pal LeBron James and Tiger Woods. The difference, though, is that those two have actually done something recently to merit the coverage. Johnny, a back-up quarterback in Cleveland who according to the company line isn’t going to play this year, does nothing, or does something, or is rumored to have done something and that’s all that necessary for a story and a sensational headline.

         In that regard, his career has already reached Tebow-esque proportions without him even haven taken a snap in the NFL. On that note, it really wouldn’t surprise me if a headline appeared that read, “Tebow With More Career NFL Completions Than Manziel; Bad Omen?” Ok, that might be one for the Onion, but the headlines about Manziel these days aren’t far from being that absurd.

         Since we’ve got a whole entire month left before NFL training camp, I thought I’d throw a few absurd fake headlines you might see between now and then that aren’t that far from being plausible.

         The gist of these is that the kid can’t win. I don’t completely get it, but that’s the media vibe of Manziel Mania so much so that he finally had to retort, “I really don’t think I’ve done anything wrong” to the latest most ridiculous scrap of news that appeared virtually out of thin air.

         So in that spirit, and David Letterman style, I offer the top 10 headlines about Johnny Manziel that actually have half a chance of appearing in print.

10. Manziel Eats Donut Hole; What Does He Have Against Full-Sized Pastries?

9. Manziel Visits Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame; Country Music Industry Asks What It Ever Did to Him

8. Manziel Spotted Sitting Between Weight Lifting Reps; Work Ethic Called Into Question

7. Manziel 5 Seconds Late for Team Meeting; Has He Already Lost a Step?

6. ‘Hangover 4’: Manziel Drinks a Beer on 4th of July

5. Bottle Caps in Bottle Cap Alley Dusted for Manziel Fingerprints

4. Manziel Looks at Playing Field; Obviously Still Eyes Starting Job

3. Manziel Gets a Dog; Will Cat People Cancel Season Tickets?

2. Manziel Scolds Dog for Bad Behavior; Johnny Hypocrite?

1. LeBron Not Returning to Cleveland; Manziel to Blame

 Enjoy your summer, Johnny. Or least try to.

Rick Reilly, the Road Hole and the Story That Inspired Me to Become a Golf Writer

Image

If you’re a golfer, you don’t need to be told what hole this is.

I’ve known what I wanted to do with my career ever since I was a sophomore in high school. I wanted to be a sportswriter.

That dream was realized shortly thereafter when I started writing for the sports section of the local daily back in Iowa. It manifested itself more fully after I enrolled at Iowa State University. I soon found myself covering college football and basketball and even the NCAA Tournament, making me realizing how attainable my sports writing dreams really were.

The fodder for those dreams was something that arrived in the mailbox of our farmhouse in rural Iowa every week: Sports Illustrated. Without him knowing it at the time, my dad’s subscription was delivering sports writing textbooks to our door, and I was going to school. I read every issue cover to cover, even when the sport/topic (tennis, curling, fencing, etc.) didn’t interest me. I wanted to learn every literary trick and secret possible from those pages and was willing to search every paragraph and sentence to find it.

My thirst for SI continued into college, where I had my own subscription. I continued to pour over every piece and dream of the day my sports writing copy might match those pages.

Where golf comes into this story is a piece Rick Reilly wrote about attempting to par the infamous Road Hole at St. Andrews in advance of the British Open. I know I’d read golf pieces prior, but this the only one I can recall. The important thing is that it probably ranks among the 10 most influential pieces I’ve ever read. At the time, I only dabbled in actually playing the game and would watch the majors on TV. Golf didn’t bat nearly as high in the sports order for me as it does now.

Reilly’s piece made me realize, however, how fun writing about golf could be.

The gist of the story, which was published in July of 1995, was Reilly making a bet with a friend that he could par the Road Hole, widely regarded as the world’s toughest par 4. So Reilly booked a room at the Old Course Hotel and set out to do it, although noting he hadn’t made one single tee time.

What followed was Reilly flailing and failing, making all the classic strategic errors players have historically made at No. 17. After each failed attempt, Reilly would retreat to a local pub in search of a sage local caddie, Tip Anderson, who knew the secret to parring the Road Hole. He had caddie for major champions – Tom Watson, I believe – and was thereby the de factor Yoda of the Old Course.

(I should note that my original intent was to paste a link to the story. The SI Vault though at the moment seems to be working about as well as Al Capone’s. I was able to find a cached version of the story, but only able to access the first page. If you want to try, the article is headlined, “Road Test.” Search Road Hole, St. Andrews and Rick Reilly and you’ll find it quickly.)

Reilly’s search for Tip, and par, continues in vain until he’s down to his final round. He finally tracks down Anderson and gleans the wisdom of how to play the Road Hole, which generally goes like this: “If you play it for a three, you’ll make a five. But if you play it for a five, you just might make a four.”

That’s probably not 100 percent, but it’s close: Basically don’t attack it and end up on the road or in the feared Road Hole bunker.

Anywhere, here’s where the story really gets my sportswriter goose bumps going. To play the hole the final time, Reilly sneaks on the course and claims to make par – using Tip’s advice – just before security escorts him off the course.

I rediscovered the Reilly’s piece years ago in SI’s online archives – to quote “American Pie”: “God bless the Internet.” –  and had revisited it often, especially since my own move into the golf writing arena basically a year ago after relocating to California.

I’d been looking forward to writing this post since I started the blog and was waiting for the British, but Reilly’s recently announced retirement from sports writing (he was at ESPN) gives this another point of relevance.

For those who of you who didn’t grow up to do what I do (have done), Reilly’s retirement probably means little to you, but for me it matters just as much as an athlete like Michael Jordan or Walter Payton calling it a career. Those who recall reading Reilly at SI probably remember his columns, which followed his days as a long-form writer. Those days are when Reilly really shined and expanded what was possible. He and Gary Smith writing bonus pieces (the long take-outs at the back of the magazine) were like having a features line-up of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. One of them, or both, took it over the wall every issue.

When Reilly was limited to columns, it was like telling Michael Jordan to only be a jump shooter. Still effective and creative in that role, but not as breath-taking as before.

Anyway, Reilly’s Road Hole piece was fun, funny, insightful and brilliantly told. For those who grew up on George Plimpton, this was Reilly doing his own “Paper Lion,” although tryying to a par a hole on a PGA course and trying to play QB for the Lions are two totally different animals of participatory journalism.

Reilly’s piece seemed a little Plimpton, a little Hunter S. Thompson, a little modern-day David Feherty and possibly a little Anthony Bourdain at present. Come to think of it, Reilly’s piece was probably the first travel story that really stuck with me as well.

I guess more than anything, the story showed me how far you really can go with sports writing and what a golden ticket being able to tell a story really can be. I’ve had my own Reilly-at-St.-Andrews moments in my career, although I’m still waiting for that moment in golf. I’ve got a few opportunities coming up, however.

Anyway, hopefully you can read the piece and, if you care, glean a little insight into why I like to do what I do and where I’d like to see it go.

(An aside: Since moving to CA, I’ve met people who have played the Old Course. My favorite story is from a local pro who told me: “You know what isn’t awesome about the Old Course? Nothing. There’s nothing that isn’t awesome about the Old Course.”)

I hope to understand that statement even more fully in the future. The closest I’ve come is playing a replica of the Road Hole at Royal Links in Las Vegas. For the record, I parred it, carving a draw around the sign welcoming you to the course right into the fairway.

Just as St. Andrews is a bucket-list course for every golfer alive, Reilly’s piece is a bucket-list read for me. So obviously if you enjoy reading about the game as much as you do playing it, it’s worth your while to track it down.

If the SI Vault works out its glitch, I’ll repost the story on the blog in full. Thanks for reading and for all the support. I’ve enjoyed, and appreciated, every word of it. It’s a joy and privilege to be able to do what you love to do.

 Image

A Little Piece of Personal Publishing History

Image

This is the latest cover of Southland Golf, which scored me my first cover story out here, a feature on Callaway Golf Marketing VP Harry Arnett. I’ll get the articles and links posted at the end of the week when the digital issue will hopefully be available.

I started writing for Southland Golf a year ago and this was favorite issue yet for several reasons. I got to work with two of my former mentors at the Golf Academy (Senior Instructor Mike Flanagan and Mark Hayden, now the GM at Eagle Crest) and make two new connections (Harry and Susan Roll of the Carlsbad Golf Center) I’d been wanting to make for a while. 

Hope you enjoy the issue.

JC Golf: Drive, Chip and Putt at Encinitas Ranch Q & A

 

 

Image

          A year ago, the PGA instituted its answer to the NFL’s long-standing “Punt, Pass and Kick” youth skills competition with “Drive, Chip & Putt.”

          The competition culminated in the finals being held at Augusta National the week of the Masters, which got the attention of youth golfers everywhere – and their parents.

          Seeing the finalists on television at the Masters, including 11-year-old Lucy Li, who played in last week’s LPGA U.S. Open, has already sparked a rise in this year’s turnout. To handle the anticipated increase, the Southern California PGA has expanded the number of Southern California local qualifiers from 10 to 14, including one for the first time at Encinitas Ranch on July 7th.

          Finalists in the four age divisions for boys and girls at Encinitas Ranch will advance to a sub-regional on Aug. 18th at La Costa Resort and Spa and then on to Torrey Pines on Sept. 13th to compete for the trip to Augusta.

          Matt Gilson, Player Development Manager at the Southern California PGA, took a few minutes recently to answer some questions about this year’s competition.

Q. Southern California had two winners at last year’s inaugural competition at Augusta. What was their experience like?

A. Everybody had a blast. They got to meet (past champion) Adam Scott and (current champion) Bubba Watson. Going to the Master is every golfer’s dream come true. And they got everything covered for them and one parent, including tickets to the practice round on Monday. The whole package was really good.”

Q. How much has seeing all that one TV stirred interest this time around?

Sign-ups were a little slow because we were competing with school, but they’re starting to pick up. We’re definitely seeing an increase in participation. And I’ve seen kids who’ve never picked up a club before now going to the range the week before. There’s definitely motivation there with kids realizing they could end up on TV.

Q. Besides the increased number of qualifiers, how has the competition changed in year two? And what are the age categories?

Last year, we maxed out our qualifiers at 120 participants and this year it’s 200. The age ranges are 7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15 with both boys and girls division. And those ages are determined by how old they would be on April 5th, 2015, which is the date of the national championship, so the youngest age to enter would be 6 if they would but 7 on or by April 5th, 2015.

Q. How does the competition work?

It’s a nine-shot competition that starts with putting. There’s a 6-foot putt, a 15 foot and a 30 foot. The hole is surrounded by scoring rings that provide points for how close they get. The max is 25 points for a holed putt.

They then have three chip shots, from about 12-15 yards, to a hole with scoring rings out to 10 feet and a make, again, is worth 25 points.

Then they have three swings on a 40-by-300-yard grid on a driving range. Beyond 300 yards is 25 points.

The highest total score wins and the top three in each age division advances from that age group’s qualifier to the next round. The top two in the sub-regional advance to Torrey Pines and the boy and girl winner in each division advances to the championship at Augusta.

Q. How do players or parents register, and how much does it cost?

Registration is free, and players sign up at www.drivechipandputt.com.

Q. What’s the atmosphere like at these events?

It’s competitive, but we still want kids to have fun. That’s the most important thing.

 

Friday Photo Post: The San Diego County Fair

Image

Just going to do a quick photo post today. That preening fellow above is on display at the San Diego County Fair, which runs through July 6th.

There are several reasons I love this fair, but I’ll just give you two.

1. The fair was one of the first things I did after I moved here, so it gives me fond memories of my introduction to San Diego. And the fair was much more rural than I expected, which …

2. … Speaks to me, because I’m a farm kid. This event takes me back to my roots and gives me a little of what I’d have in Iowa in San Diego. I actually used to show livestock in the fairs in Iowa, one of the talents you won’t discover on my resume.

Anyway, going this week makes it three years straight, which is the closest thing I’ve established out here to a tradition. So go, enjoy, eat too much and embrace a great event in San Diego.

photo-292

The Joy of Being Taught

Image

          About a year ago right now, I was just beginning a six-month stretch of what would produce the best golf of my life. Great courses. Career rounds. Shot after shot that I still see in my dreams, and putts that found the hole more often than not. I experienced it all.

          A year later? Not so much. My opportunities to golf are still great, but my ability to take advantage of them and play golf at a high level is not.

          My alibi for the state of my game is something I’ve come to term “the Golf Academy hangover.” It’s what happens when you don’t hit 100 practice balls a day and get to see yourself on video as I did for my two semesters attending the academy.

          To try to rediscover my old game, I finally called on my former mentor, Mike Flanagan, this week to look at my swing. Another instructor started the crafting of my new swing at school, but Flanagan, as he does for many, finished it.

          And, sure enough, within 15 minutes at the range on Tuesday, he had me hitting balls like my old self.

          Besides helping me recapture a little lost joy for the game, the whole experienced reminded me what I miss most about school: the lessons.

          I used to have one every week, sometimes two. Those were the moments where the magic happened. In those 20-30 minutes, you got a glimpse of what you were capable of and what your instructors knew, and you learned how good they were at relaying it. In that regard, every lesson was two lessons in one – if you were really paying attention – because this is what the school was supposed to be training you to do someday.

          I’ve written a little on the blog about some of my lesson experiences in school, but I literally could probably sit here and pound out posts for hours recalling certain great teaching moments. Those moments were what school was all about for me. They were much more fun than the tournaments or even the open rounds with friends.

          My lessons with Flanagan in particular were a joy as I not only routinely got better, but I would take it to the course that afternoon and have immediate results. As anyone who has taken lessons knows, that’s not always the case. But with Flanagan it was. And if I couldn’t play that day, I’d at least go to the range and enjoy what new gift my swing had been given that day.

          For those who don’t know him, Mike Flanagan is the senior-most instructor at the Golf Academy and a revered figure in San Diego teaching circles. He’s a bit like the Obi Wan-Kenobi/Yoda/Mr. Miyagi – chose your sage movie mentor – of the school. You know when go to see Flanagan you’re going to get one thing about your swing – the truth.

          Students at the school will tell you that if you’re not ready to hear that about your swing, you’re not ready for him to teach you. But eventually you look forward to hearing the truth – as I did Tuesday – and know it’s the fastest way to improvement. It’s like agreeing with the doctor on the diagnosis so you can move on to the treatment that will give you the cure.

          The truth with Flanagan arrives straightforward and usually quickly, after just a few swings. On Tuesday, I was describing the recent failed experiment with changing my grip and some other mechanical faults – things I never worried about, by the way, when I was playing well – when Flanagan hit me with truth.

          “I want you to forget about all that and focus on the target. You’re way too mechanical right now. I just want you to focus and swing.”

          And sure enough, within a few swings, my hook was gone and I was dropping balls next to the 150-yard mark Flanagan had told me to focus on. It wasn’t quite magic, but it was a start. The magic would come next.

          Flanagan got inside my grip and changed the two things – the placement of my left pinkie and left thumb – that had been causing me to close the club face. After a few swings to get comfortable, I was making flush contact again and flying the 150 sign with my 7 -iron as I would’ve in my prime of last year.

          He then taught me a method for “feeling” that grip every time and before every swing so I can easily replicate it. And like that, I had my old grip back.

          Of course, there was more work to be done, but that was the start. The relationship of the club face to the ball is the most important element of the golf swing.

          Praise with Flanagan is never effusive, but it’s there. And it sometimes arrives as a back-handed compliment, as it did Tuesday.

 “I don’t care that you’re over the line, past parallel and your left arm is breaking down a bit; we both know you can that club face back to square and hit good golf shots,” he said.

For the rest of the lesson, we mostly worked on tempo and regaining the pause in my backswing so I could load properly for the forward swing. And soon I was effortlessly flying balls to the back of the range. And effortless, by the way, is what the best golf feels like, and my swing had become anything but. Tortured and laborious would be just a few words to describe what I had been doing through.

The bigger gifts of my lesson on Tuesday were hope and confidence that I can play the game again the way I used to. That might take few more lessons and little more practice, but it’s worth it to experience the game that way again.

 And that’s also something that I wish more golfers could experience. For all that we’re told ails the game (cost, time, pace, etc.), the elephant in the room is that many people don’t play very well. All the evidence of that you need is a walk to your local driving range. You’ll such much more wrong that right.

And it doesn’t have to be that way. I wish the barriers (money, time, etc.) to people taking lessons were less so people would enjoy the game more. Because thinking you’ll figure this stuff out on your own, for most of us, is like trying to perform your own brain surgery or build your own car – it just isn’t happening.

The swing is too complicated and too technical and, as my experience shows, too tough to self-police to figure it all out on your own. Training aids, golf magazines, YouTube and all that can help you a little, but without a foundation in the fundaments you won’t get very far.

But beyond just playing better, lessons are fun, especially once the frustration of the struggle and the self-imposed pressure to perform are removed. And once you get to a certain stage in life, how many things are you still being taught to do? Unless you’ve signed up for a cooking class or personally training, chances are not much. And if you’re a parent, you’re likely the one doing the teaching now.

My most teachable role has been as an editor. I consider one of my abilities as a writer the ability to teach it to others. I’ve helped numerous people, especially those who didn’t think they could write or write well, do this. I think that’s a gift.

Moreover, I not only can help you write, I can help you write like you, which not everyone can do. Others can make you write like them, the equivalent of a method teacher in golf.

That’s not Flanagan. He makes you swing like you. And moreover, a better you than you maybe imagined.

We’ll start finding out today whether I can take it to the course, but I’ll at last tee it up with the belief that I can and a plan. And’s more than I had before Tuesday.

Note to Readers: Southern California Golf Blog Is Now on Facebook

Image

        Six months after its creation, the blog has its own Facebook page, so you can now find us on both Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook, you have to search Southern California Golf Blog.

        We were doing a little experiment with Twitter since that was a somewhat unknown social media entity to us, but it’s time to utilize all of the social media sphere and see if we can get word out about the blog to a few more interested golfers. The times the blog has been linked, the hits have soared. You can’t hate us for wanting to be popular.

         So please find us, like us and continue to follow us. I’m thankful for all the support and encouragement the blog has received, especially recently.

         See you on FB.

JC Golf: U.S. Open Preview & Picks By The Pros

Image

          As the year’s second major, the U.S. Open, arrives, storylines abound that, refreshingly, don’t involve Tiger Woods.

Unlike the Masters, Woods’ absence at Pinehurst has been barely a blip on the media radar this week. Instead, players who are actually playing in the tournament have been the storyline and, of course, the course itself.

According to my golf-centric Twitter feed, these are the lead stories going into the tournament.

  1. Can Phil Mickelson complete his career Grand Slam?

After his win at the British Open last year, Mickelson has now won them all, save for the Open, at which he’s finish second an incredible six times, including at Pinehurst 15 years ago. Despite his clout of having won five majors, a Mickelson victory seems a bit unlikely when you consider his atypically quiet year on Tour. And he’s tinkering with his putting grip (going to the claw), which is already drawing doubters. As one columnist wrote, “There goes Mickelson, out-thinking himself again.”

But a Mickelson victory would certain give the Tour season a shot in the arm. As would …

2. Will Jordan Spieth Finally Break Through?

The Next Big Thing in golf would erase the “Next” with a major championship. To do it, he’ll have to learn to close, something he’s been unable to do thus far this season. But after finishing second to Bubba Watson at the Masters, a breakthrough at the U.S. Open would announce an arrival that seems inevitable. But as Jack Nicklaus says of Tiger Woods’ major chase: You haven’t done it until you’ve done it.

3. A Classic Venue Restored

Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore oversaw a $2.5 million renovation of the No. 2 course to restore it to the original Donald Ross design and a more natural state. Among other things, that meant removing turf and restoring bunkers and waste areas. As a result, this Open isn’t expected to play like an Open in that it won’t have ankle-high rough. However, in the practice rounds the pros have reported that the greens have been tough to hit, thus the winner’s chance possible riding on a strong short game, which (back to No. 1) … hello, Lefty.

But the course setup has some forecasting controversy …

4.  Could We See A Rules Controversy Like the 2010 PGA?

The 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits is where a rules controversy erased Dustin Johnson’s best chance at a major victory. He grounded his club in what he believed to be a waste area instead of a bunker. He thus invoked a two-stroke penalty that cost him the championship.   

Similar course conditions at Pinehurst abound, meaning the rules official is certain to get a workout this week. Something to watch for, but here’s hoping we don’t have another major overshadowed by a rules controversy.

There’s also the chance for Bubba Watson to notch a second major and really put some sizzle into the Tour season. But none of our JC pros chose him. Their picks are listed below.

Erik Johnson, General Manager, Encinitas Ranch

Rory McIlroy – I think he has momentum on his side and his game 9and mind) are now sharp enough to return to top form

Adam Scott – He has become one of the most consistent players on the planet (hence his No. 1 world ranking), he is one of the best ball-strikers in the game, so if the putter is working he should be a favorite

Long Shot…..Webb Simpson – Wait a second, a former champion as a long-shot?  After the 2012 championship, his game has fallen off, but he is getting hot at the right time and has the experience to prevail.

Jay Navarro, Tournament Director, Temecula Creek Inn –

Webb Simpson – Played well in the FedEx.

Troy Ferguson, Head Golf Professional, Twin Oaks –

Graham DeLaet. Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Blake Dodson, Director of Golf, Rancho Bernardo Inn

Jordan Spieth – Too young to be scared of the U.S. Open.

Lloyd Porter, Head Professional, Reidy Creek and Oaks North

Sergio Garcia – My wife’s favorite.

My Favorite Scene in “Tin Cup”: The 7-Iron Speech

Image

I meant to time this to the next time the Golf Channel runs a “Tin Cup” marathon, as it periodically does, but the approaching U.S. Open as timing seems just as good a reason.

Besides being the most anticipated tournaments of the year, the majors are just a great time in general to celebrate golf. That said, I’d to like to pay tribute to my favorite scene in the greatest golf movie of all time, “Tin Cup,” which we all know culminated in Roy McAvoy playing in the fictional U.S. Open.

I’ve watched golfers quote this movie, and even sing the songs, verbatim, showing how ingrained into the golf souls of people who love the game “Tin Cup” has become since it was made 1996 with, legend has it, input from Gary McCord, among others.

I’ve never tried it, but I’m sure a debate about a favorite scene in this movie could rage on for hours in the right crowd, and why wouldn’t it? Save from the romantic comedy scenes, what golf scene in this film isn’t iconic and, many times, relatable?

Roy getting the shanks on the range? Tin Cup: “Romes (his caddy), something’s terribly wrong!” What golfer can’t relate to the hopelessness of that? Or Romeo’s diagnosis: “The shanks are like a virus. They just show up.”

There’s the scene of Roy hitting the shot as David Simms’ caddie. There’s Roy knocking the pelican off the post after a bar bet. There’s Simms’ cunning bouncing of his 7-shot down the road to win a bet with Roy. And then there’s the culminating scene where Roy holes out to take a 12 on No. 18 at the Open after refusing to lay up – again.

But out of all that, if you’re telling me I only get one scene to take with me to a desert island to watch ‘til infinity, it’s the 7-iron scene.

The 7-iron scene is where Roy blows up on the course in his first Open qualifier in a dispute with his caddie, Romeo (Cheech Marin), about laying up on a par-5. We all know what happens next: Following Romeo’s lead, Roy breaks all the clubs in his bag – except his beloved and trusted 7-iron.

I believe the dialogue that follows to be the closest thing we have to golf poetry in that it speaks to the misgivings we’ve each had at one point or another about every club in our bag, and our unshakable faith in our 7-iron. You know it’s a day gone wrong on the course when your 7-iron betrays you.

In fact, a trust hierarchy of clubs probably starts 7-iron/putter/wedge … and ends somewhere with your long irons and possibly your driver, depending on how it’s going on the time.

Anyway, besides the sheer comedy and absurdity of the scene (it’s a bit like when Gene Hackman chose to play with four in “Hoosiers), I believe it’s the innate and universal truth about golf clubs that comes out amidst Roy’s rage that I find so endearing about this scene.

So for your amusement, appreciation and study (if you’ve never bothered to slow it down and catch every word) here’s my translation of the 7-iron speech.

To set the scene, Romeo (R in the screen play) and Roy (TC) are standing over Roy’s second shot on par-5, dogleg left. Roy wants to go for the green in two (“I’m going to go over those trees, with a little draw.”) while Romeo is preaching caution (“You don’t need the course record to qualify. You need to practice playing it safe.”)

And thus a golf feud for the ages plays out …

TC: Qualify? I want the course record. Now give me the lumber.

R: You’re not going to listen to me, are you?

TC: Now give me the driver and shut up.

R: You want the driver? (Snaps it over his leg.) Hit the driver, Tin Cup.

TC: I changed my mind. Give me the 3-wood.

R: You can’t clear that dogleg with a 3-wood.

TC: Want to bet?

R: Fine, take the 3-wood. (Breaks it and throws it.)

TC: (To the gallery) Guess I’m going with the safe shot, boys. (Takes the 2-iron from the bag.)

TC: But you know, sometimes I fan that 2. (Snaps it over his leg.)

TC: You better give me the 3. (Romeo hands him the 3-iron.)

TC: And sometimes I catch that 3 a little thin, too. (Snaps it and throws it on the ground.)

TC: I’ve hit fliers with the 4. (Snap.)

R: (Softly implores while looking ashen) Hit the ball, Roy.

TC: I’ve hooked my 5. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve shanked my 6. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve skulled the 8. (Steps on it. Snap.)

TC: I’ve fatted the 9. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve chili-dipped the wedge. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve bladed the sand. (Snap.)

R: Putter? (Handing him the putter.)

TC: Yeah, there is Mr. Three Wiggle, isn’t there? (Snap.)

(Roy grabs the 7-iron with Romeo looking on in disgust.)

TC: Then there’s the 7-iron. I never miss with the 7-iron. (Kicking club debris aside.)

“It’s the only truly safe club in my bag.”

Before Roy can hit, Romeo walks off the course, shouting in exasperation, “What the hell’s wrong with you?!?”

The classic extension of Roy’s rant is that, before hitting the shot, he challenges the gallery: “Anybody want to bet me I can’t par in with a 7-iron?”

Of course, none of Roy’s supporters takes the bet, and Roy proceeds to qualify by playing out with just his 7-iron.

Anyway, most of the scenes in “Tin Cup” will stop me and pull me in when I find this movie at random, but especially the 7-iron scene. For all the reasons listed above, I believe it’s the greatest golf scene ever written not involving a fight with Bob Barker – which is for another blog post entirely.;)

The Midwest – Somewhere In Middle America

Image

To many people I meet, this would be an answer key

          I’m from Iowa, or as it’s known in California – Idaho. Or Illinois. Or Ohio. Or really any somewhat centralized state between, say, Canada and Texas.

This blog post was inspired by people I’ve met recently from Michigan and Wisconsin who live in California and have had similar experiences to my own. And this is meant in no way to be a complaint about the status quo; it’s simply a statement of fact, one I’ve just learned to accept in my two years now of living here.

You quickly learn native Californians know relatively little about the Midwest, and this applies to some of the transplants to. For instance, someone who moved here from Connecticut years ago introduced me to friends three times one night as being from Idaho. No anyone asked me any potato questions so I just let it pass.

I do the same now when people ask where I went to school. I tell them “Iowa State” and they reply, “Go Buckeyes!” Sigh. That’s Ohio State.

And this is how it goes.

I’ve decided that my part of the Midwest may as well be called the Vowel Belt because people out here seriously could look at a map and not correctly identify Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, etc. Of this, I’m fairly certain.

And truth is, if I was from California, I probably wouldn’t know either. Why would you? Why would you ever leave here?

But that only makes it all the more refreshing when you do run into a Midwesterner out here who does know where you’re from. It feels a bit like homecoming when it happens.

The interaction commonly goes like this: You acknowledge you know where the other person’s state is, and possibly even the city they’re from. You share whether you’ve visited there or not. If you have, you share a story (for instance about going to Wrigley Field if they’re from Illinois). Then you immediately commiserate about how much you don’t miss winter, which leads inevitably to a discussion about how great life is out here. And so forth.

Sometimes it goes beyond that, but that’s the base offense.

Whereas when I meet a Californian and tell them I’m from Iowa, the reply is often silence or a blank stare, but rarely an association. And that’s OK. It just is how it is.

Compared to shoveling snow, golfing in oppressive heat and humidity and the other factors that make people flee life in the Midwest, you would categorize this as little more than an inconvenience.

Life in California is largely a day at the beach. Even when you’re from Idaho.