May Was Hole-in-One Month, Apparently

I was contacted recently by a lawyer who was looking for someone to serve as an expert witness in a lawsuit involving a hole-in-one prize. After last month, I almost qualify.

Eleven friends and I played Ballybunion, in Ireland, in early May. On the third hole, Addison made a hole-in-one from the back tee: 230 yards, downhill but into a stiff wind. My group was just leaving the fourth tee, and we watched his ball roll into the hole. There’s a plaque on the third tee commemorating a hole-in-one that Payne Stewart made from the same spot in 1998, the year before he died, during a buddies trip with Mark O’Meara and Tiger Woods. Here’s Addison:

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We returned home a week later, and in an effort to outsmart jet lag I pretty much went straight from the airport to my home course (after stopping by my house, briefly, to reintroduce myself to my wife). There were five of us, and on the seventh hole, which is slightly more than half as long as the third hole at Ballybunion, I made a hole-in-one:

P1180521-001Two weeks after that, Chris, during his first round ever with the Sunday Morning Group, made a hole-in-one on our twelfth hole, which is 185 yards long. Nobody in his group could see that far, so they weren’t sure his ball had really gone in until they got to the green. In the photo below, which was taken by Mike B., he’s retrieving his ball from the cup:
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And in the photo below, which was taken by me, Mike B. is taking the photo above:

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You can’t document these things too thoroughly (I learned from the lawyer who contacted me). Here’s my scorecard:

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One thing to note: Chris is beaming in his photograph because if you make a hole-in-one during our regular Sunday morning game you receive $500 from the Slush Fund. And Addison is smiling in his photograph because if you make a hole-in-one during an SMG-sanctioned event (meaning one that everyone on the email list was invited to participate in) you receive $250 from the Slush Fund. And I’m sort of frowning in my photograph because that post-Ireland round of mine was a last-minute thing that nobody bothered to invite everyone else to—so my Slush Fund prize was $0.

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Have a Cigar! Hey, Have Two!

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There are two approaches to turning yourself into a human billboard: the single-logo, less-is-more approach, typified by Tiger Woods (Nike) and Jordan Spieth (Under Armour), and the how-much-personal-surface-area-do-I-control approach, typified by Jim Furyk and NASCAR. My friends and I fall into the second category, and, even though by now we have virtually covered ourselves with umlauts (thanks to Jägermeister, the official all-weather intoxicant of the Sunday Morning Group), we haven’t finished selling out.

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Recently, we added another major sponsor: Famous Smoke Shop, which sells cigars online, by mail order, and in person (at the company’s headquarters and retail super store, in Easton, Pennsylvania). Famous Smoke is what is known in the business world as a “good fit” with a lot of the guys I play golf with.

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Famous Smoke was founded in New York City in 1939 by David and Rose Zaretsky, and it’s owned today by their son Arthur, who, whether he plays golf or not, is now an honorary member of the Sunday Morning Group. The company operates several cigar-oriented websites—not just Famous-Smoke but also CigarAuctioneer (which sells lighters and other accessories) and CigarMonster (which has the coolest golf hats):

monsterhat

When we played at Richter Park two weekends ago, we handed out a bunch of goodies that Famous Smoke had sent us during the courtship phase of our relationship: cigars, hats, shirts, towels, and other stuff. We gave those things to ourselves and also to random strangers, including this guy:

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It was like Man Halloween.

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Cigars have sort of been in the news recently, because the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba will presumably lead eventually to the normalization of relations between American cigar smokers and Cuban cigars. I asked our new friends at Famous Smoke about that, and learned that Arthur Zaretsky believes that an end to the cigar embargo would be good good for Cubans and for his company (and therefore, by extension, for the Sunday Morning Group), but that, for a variety of mostly legal reasons, he doesn’t believe it will happen soon. Even so, he’s optimistic, long-term; he told a local reporter, “I’ve been waiting 45 years to sell Cuban cigars.”

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Recently, someone told me that when the pros sell out they do it for money, not just for hats and shirts with awesome logos on them. Whoa! Maybe we’ll work on that next.

Golf Among the Zebras: Reader’s Report from Kenya

Jeff Mwangi is a reader in Nairobi, and, starting today, he is the official East Africa correspondent of this blog. He took up golf two years ago, at the age of 40. That’s him in the photo below, at the Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort, in Naivasha:
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He wrote to me recently to ask about golf simulators, for which he believes there is a large potential  market in East Africa: “I am looking for commercial ones to install in a shopping mall, and also in some of the golf clubs, for range training,” he said. I told him I would try to help put him in touch with some manufacturers. Do you hear that, manufacturers? I’ve got a couple of other ideas, too. In the meantime, I asked him to tell me a little about golf in Kenya, and about himself. From his report:

Golf in Kenya used to be reserved for old men (rich geezers), but times have changed. Tiger Woods has been an inspiration to many young Kenyans — who, incidentally, think that golf is an easy game. I thought so, too. I bought a second-hand kit, because kits are quite expensive here. I struggled on the the range, but a little training by the range-handlers gave me the confidence to try nine holes. I took countless strokes in my first game, but I managed to finish. I kept going, and for a while I played three times a week. But that was not sustainable, because it took up business time. Still, I did upgrade my kit, from a pro shop in South Africa.

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Now I play golf for leisure, and I am working on reducing my handicap. (Don’t ask me what it is.) I have won several prizes, including one called PIGA MINGI (which is Kiswahili for “hitting too many strokes”). I wish I had started at an early age — and that is what I want for my children, who have started playing, too. The two photos below were taken at Milnerton Golf Course, in Cape Town, South Africa, which has the best views on the planet. The sound of the Atlantic must have made me miss the ball, but I guess I am still learning the swing.

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Golf in Kenya can be challenging, and animals have the right of way. But the trends that will shape the future of golf are the same trends that are shaping the future of the planet: urbanization, the spread of digital technology, and resource and sustainability pressures. The middle class in Kenya are now looking at golf as leisure, and I am looking for a reliable supplier of golf simulators who wants to help encourage a golf explosion in Eastern Africa. Golfers here want a place where they will not be required to abide by an archaic, denim-phobic dress code, to speak in whispers in the clubhouse, or to be snubbed by the committee. They want to play fun golf on simulators that work! 

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Mwangi took the photo above at Lost City Golf Course, designed by Gary Player, at the Palace of the Lost City, in South Africa. “I drove there for miles,” he told me, “but I was turned away because it was invitation-only. So the only thing I could do was take a photo of the beautiful course from the clubhouse and cool down with a few pints.” Mwangi is still working on his game, and, if he keeps at it, maybe he’ll qualify for Kenya’s team in the East Africa Challenge Golf Tournament, which was held at Rift Valley in 2013 and at Entebbe Golf Club, in Uganda, in 2014. Kenya’s team won both times — its eleventh and twelfth victories since the tournament began, in 1999.

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The Day I T-Boned the Mercedes of the President of Pine Valley

Ernie Ransome, No. 18 tee, Pine Valley Golf Club.

Ernie Ransome, eighteenth hole, Pine Valley Golf Club.

Ernie Ransome, shown above, was the president of Pine Valley Golf Club from 1977 until 1988, and Pine Valley, as you surely know, is one of the two or three best golf courses in the world. Ransome died this year, and Jerry Tarde, the editor-in-chief of Golf Digest, wrote an essay in which he described Ransome, affectionately, as the club’s “all-powerful dictator.” He recalled that Ransome “presided over annual meetings that took no more than six minutes as, for example, the club treasurer would report, ‘I have not seen the financials, but I’m told income exceeds expenditures.’ At which point, Ransome would interrupt, ‘All in favor of the budget submitted by the treasurer, say, ‘Aye.’ All opposed, say, ‘I resign.'” Clifford Roberts, the legendarily gruff co-founder of Augusta National, would have approved. When Roberts, at a meeting of the club’s governors, asked Charles Yates, the board’s secretary, whether he had the minutes, Yates asked, “Do you mean last year’s, this year’s, or next year’s?”.

Clifford Roberts, the archetype of the golf-club benevolent dictator.

Clifford Roberts, the original golf-club benevolent dictator.

I’ve been lucky, over the years, to play quite a few rounds at Pine Valley. One day in 2001, while I was visiting as the guest of a man who, at the time, was also a member of my nine-hole home club, I set out in my car for the club’s driving range, to hit a few balls before our group teed off. At the little intersection nearest the clubhouse, I nosed out a few feet past the stop sign and, when I did, crashed into a Mercedes, which was coming down the hill from the right. Luckily, I recognized the driver as Ransome, and apologized profusely, even though I wasn’t certain the crash had been my fault. A maintenance cart with a trailer attached to it was parked across the intersection, and Ransome, in order to avoid it, had been driving on the wrong side of the road. He had also been driving quite fast. At any rate, he said that he was late for a doctor’s appointment, and asked me to let Lenny Ward, the club’s caddie master, know what had happened. I did, and when I met with Ransome that afternoon I told him to simply send me the repair bill. And that’s what he did.

Ransome Letter

The bodywork had been done at a dealership in Delaware owned by Buddy Marucci, a Pine Valley member and Tiger Woods’s opponent in the extraordinary final match of the 1995 U.S. Amateur.

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I happily paid the bill, and I didn’t make an insurance claim, because I didn’t want an adjuster to take a position that might upset Ransome and, as a consequence, make life unpleasant for the member who had been my host. I decided to think of the $2,889.20 as a retroactive surcharge for all the rounds I had played at Pine Valley over the years, and when I divided it by that number it didn’t seem onerous.

Owen letter

Here’s another Ransome story from Jerry Tarde’s tribute:

One day as Ransome was approaching his ball on 11, a golfer hit a particularly bad drive off 16 and, reacting viscerally, winged his club into the sandy waste in front of the tee. Ransome, with hands on hips, did what might be described as a slow burn in the fairway, which caught the eye of the angry golfer still standing on the tee. “We. . .don’t. . .throw. . .clubs. . .at Pine Valley,” Ransome finally boomed.

“I’m the member in this group,” yelled back the angry golfer. “Who the [expletive] are you?!”

To which, Ransome immediately replied: “Not anymore you aren’t.” Then, to the caddies: “Boys, take the bags in.”

You see, that’s what I wanted to avoid.

Ransome played lacrosse at Princeton. That's him in the center in 1946.

Ransome played lacrosse at Princeton. That’s him, in the center, in 1946.

Phil Mickelson’s Open Victory and the Difficulty of Mentally Influencing the Outcome of Recorded Sporting Events

Rick Hunt, a reader, was at the Open both days this weekend. He took this photo on Saturday

Rick Hunt, a reader, was at the Open both days this weekend. He took this photo on Saturday

In 2006, my wife and our two children and I flew from New York to Las Vegas so that we could rent an R.V. and spend ten days visiting the remarkable national parks in southern Utah and northern Arizona, after first taking a guided tour of the greatest man-made object in the universe, the Hoover Dam.

Me, standing in awe before one of the many fascinating dioramas in the visitors' center at the Hoover Dam, June, 2006.

Me, standing in awe before one of the many fascinating dioramas in the visitors’ center at the Hoover Dam, June, 2006.

Our flight coincided almost exactly with the final round of the 2006 U.S. Open, and because I am a good father I grumbled very little about having to spend the afternoon traveling with my loved ones rather than lying on the couch at home and staring at the TV. My saintly attitude was rewarded during the flight: there were video screens in the backs of the seats on our plane, and I got to watch the tournament anyway. In fact, the broadcast lasted almost exactly as long as the flight. The picture broke up as we were touching down at McCarran International Airport, in Vegas, but by then the tournament was all but over. Phil Mickelson had just pushed his tee shot on the final hole into the corporate tents to the left of the eighteenth fairway, but he had the thing sewn up, and, besides, the guy’s a magician. Good show, Phil!

The next morning, in my wife’s and my room at the Bellagio (or wherever), I turned on the TV to watch Open highlights. Weirdly, the guys on Golf Central weren’t talking about Mickelson; they were talking about Geoff Ogilvy, whom I scarcely remembered having noticed during my life, much less during the broadcast the day before. Suddenly, I worried that what I had watched on the plane had been not a live program but a videotape of some historical triumph of Mickelson’s. It took me five minutes of careful Golf Channel viewing to figure out what had happened.

Mickelson winged foot

Naturally, I blamed myself for Mickelson’s last-hole double-bogey, since I was mentally rooting for him toward the end of the tournament, and the in-flight broadcast cut out at the moment when he needed me most. And this week I blame myself for his victory, at Muirfield, because I wanted Tiger Woods to win but was unable to mentally undermine his opponents: instead of watching the golf tournament on TV, I was (selfishly) playing in a golf tournament of my own.

Rick Hunt, at the Open. If I'd been there myself, I might have had better luck influencing the outcome.

Rick Hunt, at the Open. If I’d been there myself, I might have had better luck at influencing the outcome.

Influencing the outcome of televised sporting events is harder than many people believe, because a technique that brings victory today may have the opposite effect tomorrow. Mumbling obscenities, swaying hypnotically, and making hula-like hand motions in front of the screen will usually keep a long putt from going in—especially if the hole remains on camera and the putter is Lee Westwood—but the same method sometimes fails disastrously, perhaps by accidentally nudging an errant ball onto the correct line.

Curiously, the best method for salvaging victory when things are going poorly is to turn off the TV—a tactic whose effectiveness is explained by quantum mechanics: unless they are observed directly, athletic competitions, like muons and mesons, exist in all possible states simultaneously. Turning off the TV during a big tournament restores the universe’s indifference to the final score, thereby giving Tiger (let’s say) a chance to rediscover his swing. This quantum effect may also explain why viewers are able to influence even videotaped sporting events—as long as the viewers don’t know in advance how everything came out.

For that reason, I had planned to remain ignorant of the Open outcome so that I could watch a recording of the final round when I got home and bring in the winner I wanted. Sadly, though, as I was standing in line at the scorer’s table I overheard some guy telling some other guy that Mickelson had won.

I watched the recording anyway, but without much enthusiasm. I had to hit the mute button many times, because the announcers were so annoying, and I found myself wishing that someone would invent an app (or whatever) that would turn Curtis Strange’s accent into something less grating (converting nahn, fahn, and mahn into nine, fine, and mine, for example); would automatically bleep out the phrase “plenty of green to work with”; and would prevent Andy North from referring to Royal Birkdale, where the Senior Open Championship will be played next week, as a “links-style” golf course.   

Hacker (real name), Royal Birkdale, May, 2010.

Hacker (real name), Royal Birkdale, May, 2010.

 

A Golfer’s Bucket List: No. 4 (T.P.C. Edition)

TPC at Sawgrass, February 9, 2009.

TPC at Sawgrass, February 9, 2009.

Play the Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass. Hacking your way around a memorable course that you can watch the pros play on TV is both exciting and instructive, and the Stadium Course is the most engaging regular tour venue that mere civilians can play for a somewhat reasonable price. Bay Hill, Cog Hill, Doral, Harbour Town, and Torrey Pines are also possibilities. So is Pebble Beach, although eighteen holes there, including the obligatory add-ons, may cost more than the annual dues at your home club, and your round will seem to last for several days, and the greens will disappoint you, and the people in the group in front of yours will turn out to have taken up golf the day before yesterday. The Stadium Course is fun to play, and when you later watch The Players Championship—the fifth major!—on TV you will recognize more than just the last two holes. Playing a tour course will help you appreciate how the pros make their living, and the next time Tiger or Rory or Rickie dumps one in the water on seventeen you can tell your buddies, “Hey, I’ve done that.”

Seventeenth green, TPC at Sawgrass.

Seventeenth green, TPC at Sawgrass.

Reader’s Trip Report: Annie Stegall’s First Masters

Annie Stegall and Will Stegall, Masters 2013.

Annie Stegall and Will Stegall, Masters 2013.

Will Stegall attended the Masters for the first time in 1993, when he was a teenager. “My grandfather would always give me a crumpled old copy of a Herbert Warren Wind article from The New Yorker to read as we drove from Birmingham to Augusta,” he told me in an email back in March. “I remember sitting on No. 16, about hole-high, on Sunday in 1996. Raymond Floyd’s ball landed on the front of the green, rolled up the ridge to the right, back down, and into the cup. The ball must have rolled for forty-plus feet and the whole crowd knew what was coming from the time it landed. It was the first time I had ever witnessed a hole-in-one and it almost inspired me to start wearing pants with just one back pocket.”

This year, Stegall, who now lives in San Francisco, took his daughter, Annie, who turned nine on practice-round Monday. At my request, Annie took notes during the tournament. She had a highly favorable impression of the Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches, which are new, and which she managed to try before the sportswriters in the Press Building had eaten all of them. More from her report:

This year was the seventy-seventh Masters. My great-grandfather got tickets a long time ago and always loved it. Once my grandfather was old enough, he started going and has now gone to fifty of them, my dad has gone to twenty, and this year was my first.

My dad and I flew from San Francisco to Atlanta on Friday, April 12, and drove to my aunt’s house in Augusta. I didn’t sleep very well because of the time change, but when it was finally morning we were so excited that we got up early. We had to get to the course to put our chairs on the left side of the eighteenth green. When I got out of the car in the parking lot, the first thing I said was, “It smells really good.”

Before I tell you about golf, I am going to tell you about the Augusta National golf course. First of all, let me tell you how green it was! It was so perfect that at first I thought the grass was fake. The grandstands were green, the concessions stands were green, the trash picker-uppers’ uniforms and their pokey things were green, along with the sandwich wrappers and even the beer cups.

And now to the main thing: the golfers. They could hit the ball so high and so long I couldn’t believe my eyes. I loved that you could be so close and nobody would tell you to step back. It was awesome watching an eighth grader beat Bubba Watson and other Masters winners. Angel Cabrera rolled me one of his balls and the forecaddie of the 16th hole gave me Tiger Woods’s tee. I also got an autograph from Brandt Snedeker.

My dad and I kept a notebook of bets on who would win, who would have the lowest round each day, and who would hit the closest on each hole. I crushed my dad. He predicted Brandt Snedeker would win but I said Snedeker would have a bad round at the end and Adam Scott would win. I was right!

Among Annie Stegall’s favorite Masters features was the absolute ban on cell phones, because it kept her father focused on the tournament and on her, rather than on his work. And her father didn’t feel deprived. “The Masters is a far more social event than some folks might expect,” he told me afterward. “And coordinating to meet up with buddies without the aid of cell phones is as much a throwback as the hand-operated leader boards. Pick a spot like the sixteenth tee, as Annie and I did on Sunday, and you end up chatting with strangers. Many of them have been sitting in that spot for decades and have great stories about miraculous or horrible shots through the years. I have some favorite Masters (several from the nineties, 2007, 2010) but they always have more to do with the people I’m with and less to do with the outcome of the tournament. It’s probably my favorite week of the year.”

On Saturday, Annie was picked by the Augusta Chronicle as the Junior Patron of the Day, so she got her picture in the newspaper, too (see below). Next year, I’m going get her press credentials, then turn everything over to her.

Annie Stegall, MyUsualGame special correspondent and Augusta Chronicle Junior Patron of the Day, April 13, 2013.

Annie Stegall: MyUsualGame.com special correspondent and Augusta Chronicle Junior Patron of the Day, Augusta, Georgia, April 13, 2013.

How to Watch the Masters on TV

This diagram is from the program of the first Masters, in 1934. It shows what were then the first and second holes, and are now the tenth and eleventh. Both holes have changed dramatically since then, but the elevations give you the basic idea.

This diagram is from the program of the first Masters, in 1934. It shows what were then the first and second holes, and are now the tenth and eleventh. Both holes have changed dramatically since then, but the elevations in the drawings give you the basic idea.

Every golfer should make every effort to get to Augusta National during Masters Week at least once. Television doesn’t do justice to the topography of the course. The drop in elevation from the tenth tee to the eleventh green is more than a hundred and fifty feet—fifteen stories. Once you’ve studied the place in person your brain can supply the missing third dimension when you watch on a flat screen at home.

That’s what I’m doing this year. I love being on the grounds during the tournament, but I don’t feel deprived when I watch from home. The Masters is the last unscrewed-up major event in sports, and the CBS broadcast is sublime. And if you stay home you can play golf with the gang while you wait for the show to begin.

The only challenge is to find something productive to do with your hands while you watch. On Friday afternoon, as Tiger was climbing the leader board, I polished all my golf shoes. Then I polished them again—an afternoon well spent.

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Tomorrow afternoon (after paintball with some friends from high school and college) I’m going to clean the grooves of my clubs.

[Just as I was posting this, Tiger made that extraordinary third shot on the fifteenth hole—the one that hit the flagstick and spun back into the water. That shot was unlucky but it was not, as David Feherty claimed, “unfair.” Nor was Tiger “cheated” by it (Feherty again). The flagstick was stationery, and it was in place when he lined up his shot. Golfers capable of hitting inch-wide targets from eighty yards away may need to aim a few inches to the right or left, but they’re not entitled to feel ripped off. And, Feherty notwithstanding, I would bet that Tiger doesn’t.]

New Year’s Day for Golfers

ANGC No 12

The modern golf season never ends, but it does begin. When the first contestant tees off at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday morning during Masters week, golfers all over the world reset their internal clocks. The first page in a golfer’s calendar is April.

For the world’s best players, the Masters divides one season’s aspirations from another’s. A tour victory means recognition, money, autograph requests, endorsements, exemptions—and an invitation to Augusta. As the first full week of April draws near, winless players juggle their schedules to maximize their chances, and television commentators count down the tournaments remaining. When the Masters begins, every competitor has a theoretical chance of matching Bobby Jones’s unduplicated feat of winning all four major tournaments in one year; when the Masters ends, the Grand Slam field has shrunk to one.

For tournament spectators, the Masters is an annual reunion where the passage of time is measured not in years but in the names of champions. The principal viewing areas have the settled feel of old neighborhoods; the course is as familiar as a friend’s backyard. In countless gatherings beneath the pine trees, acquaintances are renewed and records are brought up to date: deaths, marriages, children, grandchildren, new houses, old jobs. The dogwood blossoms are compared with the dogwood blossoms of previous years. A rebuilt green is examined and approved. Two veterans discuss the careers of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer—and then Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer walk by. A guest once said, “I rode here in the front seat and will be in the back seat going out so I can stay as long as I can.”

For distant golf fans, the first glimpse of Amen Corner on TV is proof that winter is gone. Northerners who haven’t swung a club since Halloween scrounge an old ball from the garage and roll a few wobbly putts across the family-room carpet during commercials. A swirling gray New England sky stops looking like a vestige of December and begins to seem like a harbinger of spring. The hours crawl from Saturday evening till Sunday afternoon. Meetings and social engagements are ignored or rescheduled; no avid golfer was ever married on Masters weekend. In 1987, two fans from Olympia Fields, Illinois, named their new daughter Tori Augusta National.

For sportswriters, the Masters is the plum assignment of the year. It is the first trip entered in a reporter’s appointment book, and it is written in ink. Journalists take the Masters personally. Herbert Warren Wind, The New Yorker’s incomparable golf correspondent for many years, once stopped another reporter upon arriving in Augusta’s airport and anxiously inquired about the state of the greens: “Are they firm?” Senior golf writers postpone hip replacements and cataract operations until just after the tournament, giving themselves a full fifty weeks to recover.

For non-golfers, the Masters is the one tournament of the year that compels attention. Over breakfast on Sunday morning, a golfer’s non-playing spouse may suddenly offer an informed observation about the chances of Woods, Mickelson, or McIlroy—the result of an hour’s seduction by the sports page or the TV. The beauty of the setting makes one’s love for golf comprehensible to the game’s antagonists. For four days, the national flower is the azalea.

Gary Player once said, “The Masters is the only tournament I ever knew where you choke when you drive through the front gate.”  The trip down Magnolia Lane may be the most dreamed-about entrance in sports. Although the Masters is not ancient as golf goes, no contest runs deeper in the imaginations of participants. Sam Snead once told me, “If you asked golfers what tournament they would rather win over all the others, I think every one of them to a man would say the Masters.”

ANGC clubhouse

Golf Periscope Update

Periscope woman 3-17-2013

Steve Davis, whom I met at Tiger Woods’s World Challenge back in December, has been tweaking and field-testing his golf periscope, which is considered by some to be the most important golf-related invention of the current century—and not only because it has a shoulder strap and a beer holder. Last weekend, he took it to the Toshiba Classic, in Newport Beach, California, an event on the Champions Tour. “I was following the final group Sunday,” he told me in an email. “There was this little old lady who couldn’t see anything. She understood right away how the periscope worked. The smile that produced was priceless. It was my feel-good moment of the day—and we were only at the first green.”

Steve Davis and his periscope at the Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines Golf Course, La Jolla, California, where, he reports, "Tiger was Tiger of old."

Steve Davis and his periscope at the Farmers Insurance Open, at Torrey Pines Golf Course, in La Jolla, California–where, he reports, “Tiger was Tiger of old.”

Davis apparently spends all his time either working on his periscope or trying it out at golf tournaments. He watched Tiger win at Torrey Pines in January (photo above). And last month he attended the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which Brandt Snedeker won. In another email, Davis sounded almost disappointed that there weren’t more people standing between him and the action. “The big surprise was how small the crowd at Pebble was,” he wrote. “We could stand alongside the green on almost every hole. It got crowded only around the end, at 16, 17, and 18.” The photo below was taken at the AT&T, and it shows him holding a modified version of the device I tried at the World Challenge. The differences may not be obvious to a layman, but they are significant. “I have a new system and have been having problems with it,” Davis confided, “so I’m having trouble trusting it.”

AT&T ProAm Pebble Beach 2013

Davis also took his periscope to the Northern Trust Open, at Riviera, last month. “What can I say with a two-playoff-hole victory for Merrick’s first tour win?” The guy on the right in the photo below, which was taken at Riviera, looks to me like he was contemplating a smash-and-grab, but apparently he was just eyeing Davis’s beer.

2013 Northern Trust Play Off

More periscope news as it develops.