Women of the Golf Channel (2018 Edition)

I find it interesting that my post Women of the Golf Channel is always a top visited page (even though it was written back in 2012). A lot has changed with the on-air talent so I thought I’d write an update.

From my post on March 8 2012:

Only two of the six women I highlighted in my previous post are still with Golf Channel. They are Kelly Tilghman and Lauren Thompson.

(1) Kelly Tilghman has a bio on the Golf Channel site but to be honest I watch a lot of Golf Channel and golf tournament coverage and I don’t see her that much except for “Life From” during major championships.

(2) Lauren Thompson is a co-host on Morning Drive. Back in 2012 she seemed to be a fill-in on-air talent for Holly Sonders (who left Morning Drive and went to FOX in 2014). Now Thompson is a key member of the morning team. You can read her full bio on the Golf Channel Website.

More Great Women on Golf Channel:

If you go to the bio page for TV personalities for Golf Channel you will see 11 women listed which is wonderful. I would break the list into two groups: On-air TV show personalities (e.g., Morning Drive, Golf Channel, etc.) and golf tournament coverage talent that do the on-air analysis for the tour coverage on Golf Channel.

As I did in my 2012 post, I am going to list just a few of the 11 women. At the end of the post is a list of links for the bios of all the women on Golf Channel’s website.

chantel-mccabe-golfchannel(1) Chantel McCabe is my new favorite on-air personality and seems to be the “go to person” for golf channel. By that I mean, McCabe is on Golf Central, Morning Driving, does interviews at PGA and LPGA tournaments, and does digital work for their website. It makes sense to me that the leadership at the golf channel would tap her for so many jobs because she is great on air. I like her style, her voice, she asks good questions, and she has a good sense of humor.

She is a seasoned reporter with experience working for FOX sports prior to joining the Golf Channel and was a reporter for a local television station in Springfield MA. She also scores points with me because she is a New England Patriots fan.

paigemackenzie_320x400(2) Paige Mackenzie is a co-host on Morning Drive. She joined Morning Drive while she was still on the LPGA Tour. The reasons I really like her is because she is very down to earth and relatable! For example, she chooses on-air outfits that any woman might wear. What I mean by that is sometimes (not always) other women, like Bailey Mosier, are so into fashion that their outfits seem over-the-top for a golf morning show.

I also enjoy Mackenzie’s tips when she does the “Watch and Learn” segments on Morning Drive. In these segments she reviews a player’s swing or a specific shot of a player from yesterday’s golf tournaments and explains what we can learn from it.

karenstupples_320x400(3) Karen Stupples is an on-course reporter and analyst for LPGA tour coverage. Stupples played on the LPGA and LET (Ladies European Tour) for 15 years and is the 2004 Women’s British Open Champion. She had an albatross (a 2 on a par 5) which you can watch in this Golf Channel video flashback.

I always find her insights interesting and her personality comes through even though you only hear her voice during coverage. She is funny and I often enjoy the banter with the other on-air analysts.

Golf Channel Bios

This would be a long blog post if I reviewed every women so below is a convenient chart with each woman’s name linked to their official bio on the Golf Channel website.

On-air Personalities Golf Tournament Coverage
Cara Banks Kay Cockerill
Lisa Cornwell Judy Rankin
Paige Mackenzie Karen Stupples
Chantel Mccabe Social Media Host for Tournaments
Bailey Mosier Alexandra O’Laughlin
Kelly Tilghman
Lauren Thompson

 

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Book Review: “The Making of the Masters” by David Owen

If you are looking for a book that is specifically about the course architecture of Augusta National, this book is probably not the one to read. However, chapter five does provide hole-by-hole descriptions and contains great photos. All photos are pre-1999 when the book was published. So for example, there is a photo of the Eisenhower tree in the book which was removed from the 17th hole in 2014.

The book is a biography. The history of Augusta National and The Masters are revealed by examining the life of Clifford Roberts, Chairman of Augusta National from 1931 to 1977.  I love biographies and found the life of Clifford Roberts to be very interesting. For example, Robert’s early life was depicted as happy but also shaped by his mother’s depression (and her suicide when he was 16). He struggled early his professional life which is not surprising given he started an investment firm in the 1920s (and faced financial ruin during the crash).

Roberts achieved great success as the chairman of Augusta National. He certainly had fascinating aspects of his life including his friendship with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Surprisingly Roberts had his “own room” at the white house while Eisenhower was president. Roberts is also portrayed as a very difficult man (labels such as “tyrant” and “dictator” were used in the press). As with all human beings, he was complicated and the book states that his friends and people that he helped experienced another side of Roberts. I found the end of his life rather sad, but I won’t spoil the book by revealing how his life ends.

The book details the impact Roberts had on what The Masters is today. And, many of his decisions also had an impact on how golf championships are run (e.g., tournaments equaling four rounds of golf, the way golf is televised, the importance of creating good “stadium” views for spectators, etc.). The limited commercial breaks during The Masters was a requirement placed on CBS (by Roberts) in the very early years of the tournament. Roberts also insisted that the television cables be buried on the course.

Roberts also had to manage the ups and downs of the founding of Augusta National golf club. It will shock most people to know that they had trouble getting members! It’s a great example of perseverance and a reminder of how things that are famous today could just have easily had a very different outcome if not for someone like Roberts at the helm.

If you like biographies and golf then definitely get a copy of this book at your local library (or by it on Amazon) and read it!

The Author: David Owen

If the name David Owen sounds familiar it may be that you read the New Yorker or Golf Digest. Mr. Owen also has a blog, “My Usual Game: Adventures in Golf.” His most recent non-golf book is “Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River.”

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.

Golf in the Catskills

There is nothing better than meeting friends for a long weekend of golf. As I drove up Route 23 west, to meet my friends in the Catskills, it was raining and I wondered what the weather would hold for us over the next three days. Later that night a beautiful rainbow illuminated the mountain.

Rainbow in Windham NYI saw the rainbow as a good sign because the first course we were playing was the Rainbow Golf Club in Greenville, New York. The other courses we played were Colonial Country Club in Tannerville, New York and Windham Country Club in Windham New York.  One thing is for sure, the golf courses in the Catskills provide beautiful views of the spectacular mountain landscape.

My friends, who are great planners, emailed me a list of golf courses before our trip. I was the one that suggested we play the Rainbow Golf Club because the website had a photo of a beautiful island green. Well, it did have an island green but it certainly was not like the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. The Rainbow Club island green looked beautiful on the website but in reality the water surrounding the hole was cloudy and full of algae (or some green vegetation). Even though the hole was visually disappointing it was still an island green. I am happy to report we all made it over the water. Overall, the Rainbow course was fun and very reasonable in price ($35 w/cart). However, if I rank the courses we played, for me, I would put Rainbow in third place.

Colonial was a 9-hole course. As my friend described it, the course had “lots of moguls” (which seems fitting given the Catskills is famous for ski resorts.) My favorite hole was the 6th, par 3, 134 yards.  It was just a fun hole because it was an elevated tee (and I love elevated tees). We played the hole around six p.m. so it was very beautiful in the gloaming. I would rank Colonial second because of the beautiful views. I really didn’t mind the uneven lies in the fairway (probably because I wasn’t playing that well anyway so I wasn’t concerned about my score.)

6th Hole, Par 3, Colonial

6th Hole, Par 3, Colonial

The Windham Golf Club was the final course of the weekend. The course was a short drive from the Albergo Allegria Bed and Breakfast were we stayed for the weekend. If you go to the Catskills, I highly recommend you stay in Windham.

It was a beautiful day for golf and it was very exciting when we were told the owner of the course recently spend 2 million on improvements. It was a great course for women because if you were striking the ball well you could reach the greens in regulation. That is not always true with a lot of modern courses which can be very long for women. There was only one hole that was strangely long. The 8th hole was a 163 yard par 3 and given that the average women hits her driver in the air 150 yards, it seemed unfair to most women.

The big negative for the Windham was that the course had no signs. Yes, no signs. A well marked course is important to the enjoyment of the game from many reasons, including keeping players moving along because they know where to go and what yardage to play.  And with a course, like Windham, that is in a tourist town it seemed very odd for the course not to have signs. The young man in the Pro shop said the signs were coming but a groundsmen on a tractor told us the “owner doesn’t like the look of signs so he doubts there will ever be signs installed.” We managed to get around fairly well. Also, I guess we were just lucky that various grounds crew were working near by when we had a question on a hole location. The course was in great condition but they really do need to add signs to the holes.

My biggest pet peeve is slow play. My friends and I may be women but we play fast.  At the Windham course we were to tee off before a foursome of men but the scorecards they gave us did not have ladies yardage so one of my friends had to go back to the pro shop (it was the first time I have ever seen a separate scorecard for women).

To make a long story short the men went off the first tee while my friend got scorecards.  We did not mind because they said they played the course all the time. We thought “great, we can follow them since the course has no signs.” By the third hole were we so frustrated because the group in front was painfully slow. We were hitting to within 100 yards of the green and just watching them.  By the fourth hole they asked if we want to play through because “we were only three players.” We gratefully accepted. I am so glad we played through. By the 12th hole, they were two holes behind us. We were enjoying our lunch in the pub room when we saw the group behind us on the 18th green (40 minutes after we finished our round.)  The folks behind them must have been going crazy. If we were behind them the whole time, I might have actually stopped playing and asked for my money back at the pro shop. Here are my questions. Where was the ranger? Why were they allowed to fall so far behind our group? Yes, we played fast but still the group should have not fallen so far behind us. They were certainly playing much longer than what is acceptable for each hole. Anyway, I am thankful we played fast and enjoyed the final round of our golf weekend.

The courses we played would not be considered high-end. All were priced reasonably.  The only time I felt the price of something was too high was Mulligan’s Pub at the Windham country club. A burger was $12 (other burgers were $14 and some entrees went as high as $23.99) and they did not provide free refills on soda or ice tea. My guess, the owner has to recoup the $2 million in improvements somewhere. The food was good but skip the pub and go in town for lunch.

Even with “no signs” and an expensive food, I would rank the Windham course as the top course we played. It gets the top spot because of the fairness of the course for women, the great condition of the course, and the beautiful mountain views. However, if I had been behind the slow group for 18 holes, it might have been the down fall of the course. I hope they add signs and rangers to make sure pace of play does not impact the experience of golfers visiting Windham Country Club.

Perhaps there were other courses in the area that might be more high-end but high-end does not equate to fun. Playing with your best friends on a beautiful day on a course that is challenging but fair is what makes golf fun!

Next stop, North Carolina. Come back to my blog at the end of June to find out where I played!

La Cantera Glof Club, Resort Course – Long for the Ladies

San Antonio, Texas in April. I thought, how lucky can I be to get to go on a business trip (with golf) in April. I packed my bags and left behind the long cold winter of 2014 on the east coast. When I landed in San Antonio, Texas it was in the 50’s — what? The weather channel said mid-70’s to 80’s was normal. I was confident the next day would be better.  Boy, I was wrong. Cold and rainy for the first day of golf on the Palmer Course.

View of Palmer Course Club House from the 1st Hole Tee box.

View of Palmer Course club house and 18th hole from the 1st hole tee box

The starter said the Palmer Course was a hard course but my playing partners and I all felt it wasn’t bad considering it was rainy and cold. We played better than anticipated given it was the first round of the season. At the end of the day, we didn’t have a drink at the 19th hole to talk about how much fun we had during our round of golf. Nope. All anyone wanted to do was go back to their own hotel room and take a hot shower to try and warm their bones.

A few days later it was a bit warmer and The Resort Course, at La Cantera was the site of a 2-person scramble. By now I had a “wicked bad” (for all my New England friends) cold with a fever and sore throat. The morning was still cold by was sunny; and everyone said it would warm-up.

Again, the starter said The Resort Course was a hard course. The PGA Tour played the Texas Open on the Resort Course from 1995 to 2009. At the turn, there are stones engraved with winner’s names from the tournament.

At the Turn, there are a number of large rocks with the winners from the Texas Open

At the turn, Texas Open winner’s name on every large rock – Justin Leonard from 2000

All the women that I played with felt the course was very long for us (even from the forward tees) but it was also a very windy day and a lot of times we were hitting into the wind. I am not the longest hitter off the tee but my second shots and short game fit nicely with my partner, who did hit it long of the tee.

I love the internet today because you can see a whole course, hole by hole. The Resort Course has a good 360 view. There are two holes that I had memorable shots on — Number 5 and number 12. Hole 5 is a 432 Par 5 with a dogleg to the right for the approach shot (or over the trees to the green). My partner said she did not have “the shot in her bag to go over the trees” but I felt I could do it. My pro had shown me how to do that shot last summer. Well, I am proud to say I did it! I grabbed my 4 hybrid, put the ball slightly forward in my stance, a slight forward press in my hands and my swing thought was to swing down on the ball. I watched my ball sail over the trees. When we got to the green (130 yards away) there was my ball. All golfers know it takes just one great shot during a so/so or bad round that makes a golfer want to keep playing. That was the shot of the day for me. I was so excited I forgot to take a photo!

The other fun shot was on the 12th hole, a par 288 yard par 4. The approach shot onto the green is over a hazard. I think the course designer wanted a visual that would intimidate golfers (you know, get in your head — “ugh, I have to carry that stuff?”) Below is the view of the shot I had to make it onto the green. The flag is hard to see but sits just to the right of the trees in front of the bunker on the left.

La Cantera Resort Course, Hole 12,

La Cantera Resort Course, Hole 12, Par 4 – Approach Shot

All my playing partners missed the green (short and in the junk). It really surprised me because they all had great shots until this approach shot. I hit my ball onto the green and was very happy. My partner said that I was “smart” because I went for the shorter distance over the junk by going for the middle-right side of the green. They all went for the flag. Another shot that made me feel good about my game. That’s the trick, think only about your good shots.

We had a fun time and to my surprise my team came in 2nd place in the 2-person scramble, high handicap flight. Did I forget to mention I am a high handicap. It is hard to be a low handicap when you can’t drive the hole in regulation (but I am working on my length.) I learned something about my game in that scramble. I may be a high handicap but I am a great scramble partner because I have a good short game and sometimes hit great approach shots.

The bottom line — La Canter Resort is beautiful, the courses are hard but not so hard that you shouldn’t give them a try if you are in San Antonio.  The yardage on the scorecard is deceiving because the front tees seem to be reasonable.  But what makes it long for ladies is the wind and some of the carries. My only advice – just don’t get my luck and have the weather be cold and rainy because you might come away with another experience — a “wicked bad” cold.

 

Caddie Books – Two Good Reads

This year I had the pleasure of playing a few private courses and had a caddie on my bag.  I was nervous at first but after a few holes it was fun.  Yes, it was nice to have someone else provide valuable information, like when to layup or go for the hole.  It was a treat to have someone rake the bunker and all the other small things they do to make your round enjoyable. What really added to the “fun” was the personalities and story telling of the caddies.  And that made me want to know more about caddies.

I have read two books and both are worth reading if you are an avid golf fan.  The books are very different. The first book is “An American Caddie in St. Andrews” by Oliver Horovitz. The second book is “Loppers: A Caddie’s Twenty-Year Golf Odyssey” by John Dunn.

If I had to recommend just one book, I would tell you to read “Loopers: A Caddie’s Twenty-Year Golf Odysey” because it takes you on a journey to so many famous courses: Augusta, Bandon Dunes, Shinnecock, and St. Andrews.  I really enjoyed the variety of courses and Dunn’s description of the caddie’s life at each place he worked.  Also, Dunn is living a nomads life and there is a underlying struggle he has with the idea that he should get a “real job” and the struggle with his father’s view of his job.  As a woman, I was also surprised by some of the behavior of the caddies. The term “frat boys” is what comes to mind with some of the stories Dunn shares about his life with other caddies.  The book is great at balancing the romantic view we all of have of the caddie life with the realities of being a caddie, and the personality you must have to live the life travailing from course to course.

The book by Oliver Horovitz is also a great read but as the front cover of the book reveals the story is about a young man “Growing Up, Girls, and Looping on the Old Course.”  The best part of the book is the “secrets” revealed about the caddies of St. Andrews. The book takes place in two places —  at Harvard (where Horovitz is a student) and St. Andrews. The chapters at St. Andrews are what I enjoyed most (no surprise, I’m sure). Horovitz also shares his personal story including the time he shares with his Uncle Ken, who lives in the town of St. Andrews. It was a very lovely back story, but I was reading the book to get a peek at the job of a St. Andrews caddie and the old course.  I must admit one of my favorite chapters was about Horovitz caddying for Lydia Hall in a qualifying round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Both books reveal that there is a pecking order in the caddie shack and it takes a lot of hard work to gain the respect of fellow Loopers.  However, the big difference between the books is that Oliver Horovitz is a student at Harvard and not living the “vagabond” life John Dunn experienced as a caddie. In some ways, Horovitz appears to be living the life of a privilege student just caddying for his summer job.  However, Horovitz, like Dunn, earns the respect of the seasoned caddies (no small feat at St. Andrews) and takes the job seriously.  Horovitz also has a wonderful understanding of the “once in a lifetime experience” playing St. Andrews is for most golfers and wants to make the round the best it can be for the golfer.

Both men have a passion for the sport we all love and reveal that if you are lucky you get to combine your passion with your job. Read both books and you will be exposed to very different roads taken in a very unique career.

The Spirit International – Watch if You Love Amateur Golf

The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship has been around since 2001 but many people that love golf don’t know about it.  The video below is a nice overview of the championship.

I learned about it because I follow Paige MacKenzie on Twitter and Paige is the captain of the 2013 United States team. Paige is also a former Spirit International competitor.  I watched the last hour of coverage on Thursday and Friday online and really enjoyed it. I wish I could have seen more but it is impossible to watch this type of event during a work week.  You can watch it Saturday (November 2, 2013)  via the live webcast at the Spirit International Website.

There are only four players for each country (20 Countries represented by 2 men and 2 women).  It may be a small field but the golfers are some of the best young players in the world and it is a nice preview of what we can expect to see in the coming years on the professional tours.  Past Spirit International competitors include US stars like Brandt Snedeker and Paula Creamer; as well as international stars such as Jason Day, Charl Schwatzel, Lorena Ochoa, and Ya-Ni Tseng. As they say, the list goes on and on.

The format is interesting because they have multiple competitions which include:

  • International Team- combined best ball of the men’s team and women’s team.
  • Men’s Team- Best ball of two players (four ball stroke play)
  • Women’s Team- Best ball of two players (four ball stroke play)
  • Men’s Individual- Most holes under par.
  • Women’s Individual- Most holes under par.

So you can cheer for your favorite country, men’s team, women’s team, and individuals.  I want the United States and Canada to do well because I have lived in the United States most of my life and feel an allegiance to the US; but I was born in Canada and I have a soft spot for athletes from Canada.  I hope that Brooke Henderson (a young Canadian golfer whose career I follow) does well. I am happy to report that as of the end of the second round Brooke is in first place for the Women’s Individual competition.

The United States is leading the overall competition. Check out the Leaderboard to see the other country standings. And if you can’t watch the live webcast then the next best thing is following the championship updates on twitter @thespiritgolf.

UPDATE (November 3 2013) – USA wins overall and Brooke Henderson wins Women’s Championship.  See all results at the Spirit Website.