Tiger and Phil – 40 is the new 20

I was working on this blog post and then the unexpected happen — Jack Nicklaus tweeted exactly what I had been thinking.

Jack Nicklaus Tweet

Jack Nicklaus Tweet after the Valspar Championship

I almost decided not to publish this post but then I thought, “great minds think alike” and my take on this is slightly different from Jack’s tweet.

In the last few years, as a golf fan who loved watching Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods for so many years, it was both fun and sad watching the changing of the guard as Jordan Spieth and other young players won majors and began making their mark on the sport I love.  I do enjoy the young guns. Jordan Spieth is my favorite but it seemed odd to me to think of Phil and Tiger as “old” and to hear so many golf analysts write them off.  After all other professionals won in their forties. In fact, Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters at the age of 46.

So as a fan of Phil Mickelson, I was thrilled to see him play so well in February and early March. As you can see from the chart below, he had a great run and won the World Golf Championship in Mexico.

Phil 2018 Record

Phil’s finishes in the last four PGA Tour events

Everyone knows about the turmoil (on and off the course) that Tiger Woods has faced the last few years. I will admit that although I was amazed by Tiger’s talent, I was never a Tiger fan. I was always a Phil fan. I guess it was partly because Phil seemed more approachable and nice to his fans but mostly I loved “Phil the thrill” because you never knew what golf shot Phil would try when he got into trouble.  That being said, I have now become a golf fan that hopes Tiger does achieve success in his comeback because it appears he is a changed man and everyone deserves a second chance. In his 40’s, Tiger appears grateful to be healthy and able to play golf again.

So my hope for the rest of the 2018 golf season is that 40 is the new 20! I hope Phil and Tiger contend at the majors and win. I would love to see Tiger win The Master and Phil Mickelson win The U.S. Open (the one that Phil has yet to win).

And let the summer of 2018 be a reminder to all of us that “age is just a number” and “golf is a game for life!”

 

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Mink Meadows Golf Course on Martha’s Vineyard is a Gem!

If you ask most people how many golf courses are on Martha’s Vineyard I think they would say one. And if they could name that course, it would most likely be “Farm Neck” because Presidents of the United States (Obama and Clinton) have played Farm Neck while vacationing on the vineyard.

There are, in fact, four golf courses on Martha’s Vineyard. They are: Farm Neck Golf Course (semi-private), Vineyard Golf Club (private), Edgartown Golf Course (Private), and Mink Meadows (semi-private).

I played Farm Neck last fall and it was a beautiful 18-hole golf course. It was what one would expect from an ocean course —  a challenging course with beautiful views of the ocean, windy on the ocean holes, relief from the wind on inward holes that are tree lined. The course had its fair share of water hazards and bunkers. The post-round 19th hole atmosphere is great with a wonderful bar and restaurant. If you are vacationing on the vineyard and love golf you must play Farm Neck.

So you may be thinking, isn’t this a course review of Mink Meadows? Yes, it is but I wanted to give a comparison with the more well-known course on the island.  So how is Mink Meadows like Farm Neck? Mink Meadows and Farm Neck are both semi-private and the courses are both in beautiful condition and fun to play but that is where the similarity ends.

Mink Meadow is a 9-hole course with two sets of tees (or alternate tees for a back nine that allows you to play a full 18-hole round). There are no water hazards at Mink Meadows and only one ocean view (but it is a beautiful view).

8th Hole Mink Meadlow

View of the Ocean from the green on hole eight at Mink Meadows

Don’t let the 9-hole setup and no water hazards on this course lull you into a state of ease. It is a challenging course! It can be very windy too! If you drive the ball straight you will have an advantage because the fairways are lined with trees or wispy grass. However, if you do find yourself off the fairway, the grass is not too tall (at least not in June) so you could actually find your ball. The bunkers are strategically place and make you think off the tee. The greens are particularly interesting and even a perfect shot will roll off the green if you don’t know the slope. If you have the pleasure of playing with a member, you can soak up local knowledge about the best approach shots/landing spot on the greens when you play the front nine. And then you have that knowledge for the back nine. Or make sure to ask the Golf Pro for a few tips before you tee off. One tip – on the 9th/18th hole everything rolls right (towards the ocean even though you don’t see the ocean).

The first nine holes are perfect for anyone! Expert golfers will enjoy the challenging greens and beginner/intermediate golfers won’t feel overwhelmed because it is a bit shorter than the back nine. And when you play the alternate tees on the back nine you really do feel like you are playing a different set of holes. It was really amazing to me how different the holes felt off the tees. I played two rounds of nine and two rounds of 18 and enjoyed the course more and more each time.

The atmosphere is another plus! It is relaxed and everyone I met was friendly and welcoming. There is a nice practice range at Mink Meadow but there is a distance limit (165 yards) so if you hit your driver a long way, you won’t be using a driver on the practice range.The pro shop has a nice collection of clothing and snacks (for the turn) but there is not a fancy bar or restaurant. Mink Meadows does have a nice porch so you and your friends could buy a soda and snack in the pro shop and sit outside on the porch, rehash your round or watch the golfers on the 9th hole.

So let’s talk fees. The green fee for 18-holes at Farm Neck (in season, between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.) is $170 (includes cart and range balls). The green fee for 18-holes at Mink Meadow is $100; with “a la carte” fees for cart $18 and small bucket of balls $4.

My recommendation: If you are looking for value (a great course and price), play Mink Meadows. You will have a great time. And if you want a 19th hole “experience” — drive over to Farm Neck after your round and use the bucks you saved on green fees to paid for your meal.

Ryder Cup: My take on the pivotal moment might surprise you

This will be a short post because like most golf fans cheering for the USA, I am still shocked (or amazed) that the European team won the Ryder Cup.  The USA had a great lead going into Sunday (10 to 6).  Heading into the singles matches on Sunday the USA only needed 4 1/2 points to win and Europe needed 8 points to retain the cup.  Who would have thought Europe would get 8 points and win!

There will be many opinions as to what happened.  Some might say it is the fault of Ryder Cup veterans Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker (and Captain’s picks) because neither played their best.  Some might say it was because the pairing of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker did not win.  Others might say it was the fact so few of the American players could deliver in the singles matches.  However, that doesn’t seem fair to players like Jason Dufner (in my opinion, the MVP of the USA team) who did win.  I’m sure the debate will go on for days on the Golf Channel.

Since second-guessing is part of the fun of being a sports fan I decided to give it a shot.  Here is my take on what was the pivotal moment in the 3-day event.  It was not a particular match on the final day but a decision by Captain Davis Love III to sit down the hottest American pair on Saturday — Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson.  The reason I believe this is the pivotal moment is that the momentum changed Saturday afternoon.  Yes, you can give huge credit to the European player Ian Poulter who won a critical match on Saturday; but I think the fact Bradley and Mickelson were not playing was a huge mistake.  It was a mistake because the success of Bradley and Mickelson inspired the USA team and ignited the crowed.

During the TV interview (after winning the Saturday morning match) Mickelson said that “statistically” no golfer that played all 5 matches in the Ryder Cup played well in singles so don’t be surprised if they (Bradley and Mickelson) sit out Saturday afternoon.  In retrospect that would sound wise if Bradley and Mickelson had won their singles matches but they both lost (that’s two points).  If the hot team of Bradley and Michelson had played the 4-ball Saturday afternoon and won a point — that might have kept the momentum on the side of the USA.  You can argue that my view is simplistic but I do believe in momentum.  Not to mention the fact that all the golf pundits said, in post round discussion on Saturday night, that 11 points would have been “insurmountable.”

The MVP of the European team is Ian Poulter because he was the catalyst for the European team’s belief that they could still win.  Poulter’s play during the Saturday afternoon 4-ball match was amazing with five straight birdies to win his match and inspire his team.

Final words — Congratulations to the 2012 European Ryder Cup Team.