Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Chubby Chandler

Q&A with Chubby Chandler

Chubby Chandler turned professional in 1974 and his first event was that year’s Italian Open, the same event that Seve debuted in as a professional golfer.  He spent the following 15 years playing the European Tour, which is a solid feat.  He never did claim a victory on the European Tour but he hoisted the trophy at the Sao Paulo International in 1985!  Chubby retired from the professional game in 1989.  After retiring from golf Chandler started his own sports management business.  Chandler’s list of not only golfers but other athletes in other sports is beyond impressive.  He manages athletes who play professional Cricket, Football (soccer), and Snooker.  His stable of golfers includes or HAS included the likes of Westwood, Clarke, Rory, GMac, Els, Schwartzel, Oosthuizen, David Howell, Simon Dyson, and many other fine players (I am close to signing with his company just working out the details).  For additional details on his management company visit  great website with lots of good information including a link to Chubby’s blog.  You can follow Cubby on twitter @chubby6665 .  

1.       Favorite golf course?
Too many to mention, but Pine Valley and Royal Birkdale would be up there plus some in the Middle East and particularly Dubai and Turkey.

2.     I know nothing about Cricket, how big is the sport internationally? 
 It was a toss-up for me between golf and cricket because I enjoyed both and I still love to watch cricket.  The English game is played internationally and mainly where there has been a historical connection to Britain including Australia, South Africa, India, West Indies, New Zealand.  My American friends still can't get their heads round why Test matches are played over five days and sometimes you don't get a result.

3.     Practice round playing partners when you played on the Euro Tour? 
 I had quite a few, but mostly with the likes of those I first represented once I retired - Derrick Cooper, Denis Durnian, Phil Harrison, and Carl Mason plus David Jones.

4.    You debuted the same year Seve did on the Euro Tour, did you know then that he was someone special?  
I actually made my European Tour debut in the same 1974 Italian Open that Steve made his first start.   Our paths went in different directions after that, but it was obvious right from the first time I saw him that he had a very special talent.

5.     You represent Clarke and Westwood, but it seems like it’s more of a friendship than business relationship, true?
 Darren and Lee joined within a year or so of one another.  They became good friends with me and one another fairly quickly and it extends to this day.

6.    Playing the Euro tour back in the day had to be a blast.  Any good stories that you want to share about your experience?  
It was probably more of a blast for me than it should have been, but they were great times and I made many good friends who remain so today.   If you have a month to spare I can tell you all the stories, but there are too many for here. (ok I’ll fly over and spent a month hanging out).  But I do have bragging rights over Darren and Lee in one respect, because of all their many wins throughout the world none has come in South America. 

7.     IMO Westwood has made one the greatest comebacks from the depths of the professional golfing life that few could fight all the way back from.  Anything particular Lee did to bounce back?  
All golfers suffer slumps at stages in their career and Lee is no exception.   It says everything about his character and dedication that he worked on every aspect of his game and bounced back bigger and better - eventually deposing Tiger Woods as world number one.

8.     Your top 3 keys to being a successful agent/businessman?
 Attention to detail, attention to detail, attention to detail.

9.    When, if ever, you decide to retire what does it look like?  You don’t seem like one to sit still long.   
Retirement isn't something I have given a great deal of thought to, but when it comes I can see myself laying on a beach with a sea breeze cocktail in one hand and the Racing Post in the other followed by visits to Test matches and St. Andrews for the Dunhill Links.

10.Number of languages you speak?
Only English, but I can order from a menu in a few others.

11.    Life motto?
Learn from history, but look forward not back.

12.  You can pick one guy to make a 12’ putt on 18 at Augusta to win the Jacket who you picking?
Up to six years ago it would have been Tiger, but now probably Jordan Spieth.

13.  Assuming you played Augusta, favorite hole?
 Had the honour and pleasure of playing there in 1992.  There are many great holes, but the short 12th is extra special.

14. Toughest decision you’ve made in your life?
 It's a very long list and they don't get any easier, but deciding between cricket and golf would be up there.

15.  You get one final round of golf to play what course you picking?
I'd actually want to play 18 holes on 18 different courses taking in all the continents.

16. Strongest part of your game during playing days?
It certainly wasn't my putting, but chipping was my strength when I first joined the European Tour.

17.  Favorite city in the world?
 Once again, too many to mention, but London, New York, Dubai, Cape Town, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai and Sydney would definitely be in the top 10.

18.  In your opinion what should the European Tour do to keep players from heading to the PGA Tour?  
I don't think you'll ever stop players heading to America because there are so many very big events there.  What the European Tour is doing is trying to make as many events as possible more attractive to play in by increasing prize funds.

19. Does Tiger win another major?
Never say never with Tiger

20.                      Advice to a young European pro trying to make a living playing?
Practice, practice, practice

21.  How often do you play nowadays?
Once a blue moon, but always the Dunhill Links.

Friday, December 9, 2016

John Cook

There are a few things I know to be true in the golf world.  Fred Couples and John Cook were cool.  If you don’t remember how cool, let me jog your memory with this Ashworth ad.

John Cook grew up in Southern California the son of a former PGA Tour official.  Obviously he could play some stick because both Nicklaus and Weiskopf personally invited him to attend Ohio State University, which he did.  No official records on hand but my guess is ‘Cookie’ as they like to call him, had OSU ladies diving into his dorm room windows.  John won the US Am in 1978 and lost in the finals in ’79 to Mark O’Meara.  Without going into full blown detail let’s just say John Cook’s amateur career was top shelf.  Strong enough that he was pegged as one, in a short list of players, to come along as ‘The Nicklaus’ (I never was on that list?). 
John won 11 times on the PGA Tour, spanning between the ages of 23 and 43, now that is impressive!  He has also picked off 10 wins on the Champions Tour.  Throw in the 1995 Mexican Open and you have a guy that proved he could win in different areas of the world. 
John has played in 61 majors….let me repeat John has played in 61 MAJORS!  Not sure I have watched 61 majors.  John had several near misses, once at The Open and once at the PGA Championship among other impressive finishes.
I was fortunate to get to know John this past summer when he came to Portland to commentate the LPGA event we host at Columbia Edgewater CC.  We played a round of golf with Jerry Foltz, and a stud amateur golfer and friend of John’s David Jacobsen at Waverley.  It was a treat for a golf geek like me to watch these three players and more importantly to pepper John with questions about everything golf.  Afterwards we had lunch and I sat and listened to all the stories John, Jerry, and David told about various golf pros.  I could easily still be there checking off questions I have.  John has been kind enough to put up with me and my constant stream of golf questions.  He was mentored by Ken Venturi.  If you don’t think that is fantastic we might not get along.  Ok let’s get to the Q&A.

1.     Favorite golfer growing up?

Always liked Nicklaus and Weiskopf and got to know them quite well, but I'm going old school through my ties with Venturi... I was a big fan of Hogan and Nelson. Never saw them compete live but spent enough time around them and talking to them to have a major influence on my golfing life.

2.    How did it come about that Venturi was your mentor?  

Kenny was a huge auto racing fan and my father, after coaching football, was with Firestone and then into the operation side of INDYCAR. They struck up a friendship and my father in his not so subtle way, bragged he had a 14 year old son that was a pretty good player and would Kenny take a look at him. Like Kenny never heard that before. But KV agreed and we met at Mission Hills CC in Rancho Mirage in April 1972.  The relationship lasted until he passed in 2013.

3.    You told me that at the 2000 US Open you told Johnny Miller that Tiger was going to win by 10 shots.  Impressive you called that, any particular reason you knew a blowout was coming?

After playing Mon and Tues practice rounds together along with Mark O'Meara, our usual major practice round group, TW of course was pretty spot on but Wed practice seemed a little different. The calmness and quality of each swing was so impressive. When we got to the 12th at Pebble, MO and I were trying to hit these sky ball 4 irons and if we cleared the gaping front bunker, they ball bounced over the green. TW hit these controlled 6 irons that hit the green and stopped like a full sand wedge into the wind. Johnny Miller had just pulled up to the green to observe. He asked MO and I want we thought and I said the course was great and was really looking forward to the week. He shook his head and looked in TW direction and I then said that he was going to win by 10 shots. Johnny rolled his eyes and I explained what we just saw and it wasn't a fair fight!!! I was dead wrong, he won by 15!!

4.    One shot you could have over in your golfing career?

My 2nd on the 72nd hole at The Open Championship at Muirfield in 1992. While most think the 2footer I missed the hole before might be the one, I had regrouped and striped a drive down 18. Always priding myself on controlling my golf ball, I forced a 3 iron instead of hitting a low running 4 up the front of the green to chase back to the flagstick.

5.    Craziest thing that ever happened to you during a tournament round?

1993 World Series of Golf, third round paired with Peter Senior.  We were playing the 6th at Firestone CC, a long par 4 where you hit over a hill and down a slope so you can't see where your ball finishes. Peter hit his ball down the left that looked to easily catch the fairway. I hit mine down the right with a slight draw also easily catching the fairway. We both walked to what we thought to be our balls, me up the right side and Peter up the left never thinking the balls could have crossed. Peter pulled his second shot into the left bunker and I hit mine to 25 feet short of the pin. Peter blasted out just inside of my second shot.  My caddy cleaned his ball while his caddy raked the bunker. I putted up, missed and tapped in for par. Peter missed, tapped in and we walked to the Par 3 no. 7.  Not paying any attention to the golf ball, I played my tee ball, Peter checked his ball and it was the right brand but different type.  Puzzled, he switched back to his type and played his tee shot. Oblivious to what was happening I walked off the tee then realized that I must have hit the wrong ball, but how and where? Couldn't have on 6 as our golf balls were never near each other. As we called for a rules official we scratching our heads as to what could have possibly happened. Only thing we could come up with was the balls were switched when my caddy cleaned them. That wasn't the main issue as we both teed off the next hole therefore both DQ'd for not correcting the original issue. That was in the day where you marked your ball with pencil marks, not Sharpie dots. From that time on I mark my ball with sharpie dots and in different colors. Lesson learned.

6.    Tell us something about John Cook that most people would be surprised to know? 

What makes me most proud: My wife and I started dating in 1975, except for a few months in 1978, we've been together for 41 yrs, married 37.

7.    If a young tour pro came to you today for advice what do you tell them?

I would advise that player to compete as much as possible. Practicing and playing are night and day from competing. You are a professional golfer, that's what you do, you compete.

8.    Has technology been a good or bad thing for the elite level in golf?  

I would say that yes, technology for the most part have kept players competing at older ages. Yes, the ball goes far and straighter.  Drivers are the size of small cars, 3 woods go far and the hybrid is a game changer but as far as irons and wedges go, the clubs that you score with, very little has changed.

9.    Do you own Ohio State pajamas?


10.  Life motto?

 "What is understood, doesn't need to be discussed."

11.  Toughest hole at Augusta for you over the years?

#11 gave me fits. Each year I had a chance, I'd make a 6-7 there to derail any hopes of a Green Jacket

12.  Favorite major when you were on Tour?  Does it differ now as a non-competitor? 
 I always thought I would do better at Augusta, I studied so hard and loved it so much from my first year in 1979 as an amateur to my last in 2003.
13.  Thoughts on longevity of the Champions Tour?  I just don’t see the young guns playing that late into their careers due to injuries and being filthy rich well before age 50. 

As a policy board member for the Champions Tour I always questioned our long term goals as the next generation of 50 yr olds have made so much money. What needed to be done to get them to play. I think for another couple years, we are fine, 5 years from now, I'm not so sure. If we make the events special, guys like to compete, that's what we've since we were kids. PGA Tour Champions must give these newer players a reason to play.

14.  Biggest fear, if any?   

In answering the same question my kids asked me 20 yrs ago, my only fear in life is losing my wife.

15.  You get one last meal who are you inviting to the table? 

I'm going with my family, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen and Archie Griffin. Among those that have passed, Jimi Hendrix, Hogan, Nelson and Venturi. How about that table?!!

16.  Give me a Bruce Lietzke story.  I loved Leaky!   
Most of us know the banana story but what I remember was back in the early '80s, Leaky travelled around in the most bad ass TransAm!   A funny car minus the nitro!

17.  Best caddie nickname of your generation?  

Bruce Edwards, may he Rest In Peace, nicknamed everyone. "The Duke" comes to mind as one caddy had a head the size of a football.  NFL footballs were Wilson balls that had The Duke on them.

18.  Early in your career who did you play practice rounds with and was there always a money game? 

Played a lot of practice rounds with Weiskopf. Mostly O'Meara, Armour and the Byrum Bros. Not really money games unless I was home and some knucklehead wanted a piece of me.

19.  Favorite club in the bag?

As Ken Venturi once told me, "Fall in Love with your Driver!" When you can drive it on a string with the pressure on during the final round, it puts pressure on your opponents!

20. Being an Ohio State guy and knowing you spent time around Nicklaus do you have any good stories about the Bear?

As a young married couple with a 1 year old living in Dublin OH, on some nice summer evenings, we would walk on the golf course, Muirfield Village GC where I was a member and Jan would push the stroller and I would play holes.  Once in a while we would run into Jack and his kids playing golf.  How cool to just casually play and chat with the Nicklaus family on a summer evening!!! Much like Tiger during his career, Jack was really one of the best pairings. They both showed such respect for their playing partners.

21.  Having Ken Venturi as a mentor, you obviously played with him, any good stories that would impress upon how good he truly was?  I am not sure a guy my age fully understands how good he was.

Venturi's playing career was cut short due to hand and circulatory issues but 14 PGA Tour wins including '64 US Open in 8 yrs, not too shabby. As a college kid, when I use to down to Florida to work with him on weekends or breaks, he would always have a couple other pros there to pick his brain and work with him. Ken and I would always play them and I would always go back to Columbus with some spending dough courtesy of the pros and Ken carrying the load!!!! He was 10-15 yrs retired by then but he still got jacked up to play with me and Curt Byrum.

22. Best or most impressive shot you hit or you saw a playing competitor hit?

I hit some really nice clutch shots in my career and some I'd like to have over but the one I remember best was '93 Ryder Cup at The Belfry. Session 4, Saturday afternoon, Chip Beck and I sent out for our 1st match of the Cup against Faldo/Monty. Easy point for the Euros, right?!!!  Not so fast my friend! Chip and I hung around long enough to take a 1 up lead to the 18th, securing a 1/2 pt but we wanted the full point. Chip drove into the bunker but safe, I piped one down the slot as did Faldo and Monty. Chip lay-up, Monty jerked his 2nd left of green side bunker and Faldo pulled his 2nd into that bunker.  I then rifled a 4 iron right at the flag with the ball stopping 10 ft. from the cup.  Monty and Faldo failed to make their next shots so GAME OVER!!!  An important point for our US team as we went on the win the Cup, the last time US won in Europe.

Follow me on twitter @ghostofhogan for more golf talk!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Jerry Foltz Golf Channel Commentator

Below is a Q&A with Golf Channel Commentator @jerryfoltz or otherwise known as Foltzy.  Jerry is honest, witty, and unbelievable smart.  He’s as comfortable at a black tie corporate sponsor dinner as he is hanging out at the caddy tent post round telling and listening to jokes.  He answers questions from his playing days to his current role as a commentator.  The Phil Mickelson shot is fantastic but more impressive was his answer to my how does the LPGA grow the fan base.
 Quick set up as to how Jerry and have become friends:
I used be a complete ass on twitter to people in the golf business and professional golfers.  I was rude, mean, and a first class jerk.  This lead to getting blocked many times and one of the blocks was Foltz.  Long story short but another pro told him to unblock me and this lead to us meeting in Portland for dinner when Jerry was here for the Web event at Pumpkin Ridge four years ago (I was fully expecting him to flush me upon meeting me).  From then on a great friendship was born.  Jerry and I partner up once a year in what is called ‘The Match.’  The Annual 18 hole battle the last day of the LPGA event at our course.  We take on my boss and whatever ringer he brings in.  Foltz and I are 3-0. 
People may not see the humorous and witty side of Foltzy but it is clearly there if you have spent time around him.  His knowledge of the game is strong and he works hard to maintain it.  Jerry Foltz hands down is the MOST underrated golf commentator in the business. 

  I don't think I really ever thought that far ahead.  I simply fell in love with the game at an early age and pursued that passion day to day.  Forethought has never been my strong suit.  Also, many of my peers would argue that the golf I played would be a stretch to be termed "Professional."
Loved it.  Fighting yourself is one of the sheer beauties of any individual sport, especially golf.
I took lessons from the local Las Vegas Muni teaching pro, Jerry Belt, so I would consider him my mentor.  He taught me far more about life at a young age than he did golf, but that's one of those things you don't realize until later in life.  Speaking of which, my mentor now is @ghostofhogan
My father worked in the casino business so I learned from an early age that, "Gambling money has no home."  I did witness quite a few.  There was one guy a couple of years older than me named Stacey Hart and he would take down the best of the hustlers.  He would find me working around the golf shop when he was making the turn and tell me to call his dad to bring some money in 2 hours in case he lost.  But invariably his dad would be there just in time to watch Stacey shake hands on the final hole with the smile of another profitable day.
Steve Haskins (son of the late legendary UTEP basketball coach Bear Haskins)and I were pretty good friends but never really leaned on each other for too much help.  Tommy Tolles was a good friend who I would turn to for help when my game was in shambles.   And that seemed to happen all too often.

Wow.  Now there's a strong question.  I would say the one thing I miss about playing is something that isn't there any longer, at least not as strong as it was.  And that is the camaraderie.  We had to stay 3 or more to a hotel room, drive to events together, and occasionally caddie for each other when possible.  Now, at the highest level (a place I seldom visited), there are 144 different corporations competing each week.  They are all colleagues and friends and they support each other in many ways, but the closeness of living in the trenches together just isn't possible.
 My mother always said I would figure out a way to B.S. my way through life.  I guess I'm just proving her right.  God rest her soul.  The fact is I absolutely love my job and consider myself beyond fortunate to even have it.  I may not always appear like it, but I take each day, each show, and each shot very seriously.  The job is to inform and entertain, but the art of the job is to know that if what you're about to say accomplishes neither, then just shut up.  As Ken Venturi once told me, "It's a visual medium and the best in the business say the most while talking the least."
I love the corporate tents.  Great contacts, good people, awesome stories, and free um....refreshments, but I grew up a blue collar kid and the people I identify with are more often found in the caddie tent than the corporate tent.  I invariably end up out to dinner with far more caddies than players or sponsors.  Their stories are real life and the work ethic is incredible.
They're one in the same: travel. I absolutely love to travel but always hated being away from home.  Now days, with my son in college and a big change in my personal life, I'm starting to really take the time to enjoy the different places I get to visit and I'm spending far more time travelling for pleasure and not just work.
To brag a bit, Tom Lehman still says the greatest shot he'd ever seen was by me.  It was a team event in Scottsdale when I hit a 5 iron out of a bush.  The ball was suspended about knee high and jostling in the wind.  I hit it down a valley to a tucked pin and it ended up 3 feet away.  It was an easy two-putt for par.  But in my job I have seen so very many incredible shots I can't even count them.  Many authored by Phil Mickelson.  The one that stands out the most was at Liberty National during the Barclay's.  He had 87 yards out of a fairway bunker and not a very good lie.  The hole was cut on the back left edge of the green on top of a slope that fell off  just to the right.  He clipped this piercing sand wedge that landed 20 right of the hole and spun left quickly, up the slope to about 4 feet.  I stood there speechless and he caught the look on my face that must have appeared as though I'd just seen a ghost.  He said, "Don't tell me you don't have that shot Foltzy.  Just a little side-sauce on the sand wedge."  Not only did I not have that shot, I'm pretty sure nobody else in the world could make the golf ball do that.
My short game was my strength.  It was so good it started at the tee.
Ryan Palmer is probably my closest friends on tour and I always get together with him whenever possible.  Chad Campbell is typically a member of that dinner as well and I also consider him a good friend.  And we always have both of their caddies with us, James Edmondson and Judd Burkett respectively.  They are very close friends of mine.
It happened a year ago this week at the Hero World Challenge.  I was following Bubba Watson and on the 3rd hole he stepped off the shot and was visibly annoyed.  Our mics picked up his audio as he told Ted Scott that he could hear every word I was saying.  In 20 years of doing good this job, I've never distracted a player.  I wanted to crawl into the nearest hole forever.  On the next green, Bubba walked over and apologized to me as if it was his fault.  That meant a lot to me, but it wasn't remotely his fault.
Probably wouldn't surprise anyone, but I don't lose many games of pool.  I can hold my own in darts and ping pong.  I'm not a bad bowler, and I own a Foosball table.  So I guess I excel at sports with waitresses.  (The Ghost assessment: if it involves sweating Foltz is out)
I think that ship is already sailing and doing so at a pretty good speed.  The LPGA ratings and attendance has increased significantly each year that I've been covering it (which has coincided with the main reason...Commissioner Mike Whan) and with the global impact of the Olympics, we're just scratching the surface.

 If the "Crouch and Plow" movement really takes off, you'll be the front runner for the Green Helmet.  I just want to be there calling the shots.

Friday, November 25, 2016

PGA Tour Caddy Q&A

I’m a huge fan of the behind the scenes people in everyday life.  So many people in this world never receive the full recognition they deserve, but most of these people also don’t want the light shining on them anyway.  I grew up caddying as a kid.  I used to caddy a bit in the summer when I was in high school for a University of Oregon player named Steve Rintoul, who is now a PGA Tour rules official, when he played local amateur events.  I was fortunate to caddy for Steve Elkington in a Champions Tour event in Seattle a few summers ago.  The PGA Tour caddy is truly a professional.  The work looks like a grind, long hours, physically challenging, mentally exhausting, and stressful would be my guess.  I doubt any have contracts that guarantee pay if they get fired.  It appears the PGA Tour wouldn’t cross the street to help them out.  I have heard some horrible stories of how tournaments treat them with regards to facilities (metal tent to hide under during a lightening delay), no entrance into clubhouses, having to park well offsite, etc.  I don’t know many caddies but I’m guessing I’d enjoy hanging with them in the caddy tent more than hanging out in the clubhouse with big wigs. 
I hope you enjoy the following Q&A with a PGA Tour caddy who asked that I not use his name due to several outstanding warrants for his arrest (just kidding).

1.     How did you get into caddying on Tour? 

I started caddying when a young pro I played amateur golf with asked me if I would.

2.    On a scale of 1-10 how are caddies treated on tour?

Caddie treatment differs. The good people who care treat us fabulous. Can't scale it

3.    I've always been curious how a caddy arranges his schedule.  Do you sent up flights, hotels, etc well in advance or is it week to week?

Travel schedule is a pain in the ass. I try to book as many rooms as possible in advance. Flights are usually very easy to find as are rental cars, but you're always looking for a better price. PGA Tour travel is very helpful as well.

4.    At the Tour level the players cannot allow themselves to let doubt creep in, does a caddy take the brunt of blame when things go wrong?

Depends on the player. The best players are accountable for their game. He tries to play without mistakes and I try to caddy without mistakes. You both know who made the mistake.

5.     Physically carrying those big staff bags has to take a toll on the body, do you do anything in the off season to keep your body from breaking down?

Taking care of your body is the most important thing you can do. Eat healthy and always be doing activity and working out. During season and off season.

6.    Do caddies still share rooms/expenses these days?  Or is it more like the players these days were you're more on your own?

Some caddies share rooms some don't. Some stops are much more expensive and it's nice to save a bit. Houses are commonly shared.

7.    Funniest thing that ever happened to you on the course?

Funniest thing to happen on the course... I'm hoping something funny happens soon.

8.    Player you respect the most for his professionalism?

Graeme McDowell

9.    Do swing coaches try to use caddies to get inside info on their player, in a good way?

Cannot speak for all, but my man, his coach and I are always communicating during practice.

10.   Have you ever been late to a tournament round?  If so how did that go?

I have never been late to a round.  Cut it to under a minute once to the tee. He was not happy, coach was very happy he didn't have to carry.

11.  Do most players carry too much gear in their bags?

Most players carry way to much gear. Some are straight mental when it comes to what needs to be in a golf bag, but they pay you to carry their stuff, so...

12.  Has the heckling gotten worse since when you first started on tour?

Heckling comes and goes. Some places are much worse than others for sure. I don't care. It's usually funny as hell. I'm not sure the level has changed.

13.  Best and worst thing about being a caddy on Tour?

Best thing about being a caddy is being in contention. The worst thing is everything else.

14.  What are the typical expenses in a full year?

      50-90K depending on overseas travel.

15.  Funniest player on Tour? 

Not many are funny.  Appleby, Gore, Kuch, Dufner, and Knost are pretty funny.

16.  Are you a grab the flag on 18 if your player wins guy? 

The Flag is our trophy. Have to get it.