Let’s Take a Closer Look at Larry David’s Golf Warm-Up Routine

P1080271 On the day the Secret Service searched my golf bag—at Farm Neck Golf Club, on Martha’s Vineyard—I also watched Larry David warming up on the driving range. The photo above (you will recall) shows the first part of his routine. And here’s the second part: P1080267 Several readers have asked how these warm-up components are connected. With graceful swoops? With tiny hops? With deep knee bends? Showing is easier than describing, and, I’m happy to say, I shot some video. Here’s what it looks like fully assembled:

I also took some more pictures of the Secret Service, because my wife, our daughter, her husband, and I ran into the President’s entourage again, that night in Oak Bluffs, where we had also gone to dinner. I recognized some of the guys from the golf course. The ones on the balcony (across the street from the Sweet Life Cafe, where the adult Obamas were eating) were unzipping their “golf bag.” The guys with the untucked shirts are Secret Service agents.


This morning, Tim-o and his daughters came over from Wood’s Hole. Their ferry was escorted by two Coast Guard boats with machine guns mounted at the bow. Every time a non-Coast Guard boat came within a couple of hundred yards of the ferry, Tim-o said, one of the Coast Guard boats would zoom ahead to shoo it away.

coast guard

Golf on Martha’s Vineyard With the President of the United States

Making the turn, Farm Neck Golf Club, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, August 11, 2013.

Making the turn, Farm Neck Golf Club, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, August 11, 2013. The thing the guy in the blue shirt is holding isn’t an attache case.

I knew the President was about to arrive on Martha’s Vineyard because my cell-phone reception suddenly went from no bars to three. The Obamas are staying about two miles down the road from where my wife and I are staying, and because their house is close to the road all traffic is being diverted around it. That has made the road much quieter than it usually is—a second benefit. And this afternoon Alan, Leslie, Wendy, and I played golf nine holes ahead of him, at Farm Neck Golf Club, in Oak Bluffs.

Leslie, twelfth hole, Farm Neck.

Leslie, twelfth hole, Farm Neck.

We finished just before the President made the turn, and we stood near the cart path leading to the tenth tee, hoping to see him. While we waited, a Secret Service guy searched my golf bag, had a look at the stuff in my pockets, and waved a metal-detecting wand over my back.

Two Secret Service guys.

Two Secret Service guys keeping a close eye on the divot mix.

There were also lots of guys wearing bulletproof stuff and driving around in golf carts. The things strapped to the back of their carts were not golf bags, presumably.


I could see lots of Secret Service guys, and one of them told me that there were lots more I hadn’t noticed: on boats, in kayaks, on paddle boards, in the woods. The ones I could see were wearing sunglasses, ear pieces, microphones, and little star pins near their shirt collars, like miniature badges. Their eyes were constantly moving.


They also had a bomb-sniffing dog, and they checked absolutely everything—including a wooden trash barrel that looked like the sort of place where Wile E. Coyote might try to hide from the Roadrunner.

Note the coyote-height eye hole in the trash barrel.

Note the coyote-height eye hole in the trash barrel.

The President was playing from the blue tees—just as I had done!


Just before he teed off, a couple of Secret Service guys in a huge black SUV pulled up right in front of me. Luckily, the windows lined up pretty well:


President Obama wasn’t the only famous person on the golf course. We also saw my close personal friend Larry David, on the practice range. His warm-up routine has two parts. Here’s the first:


And here’s the second:

P1080271And here’s a last look at Farm Neck (the fifteenth, a par-3):


And also at the President:



Great Golf Course: Riviera

2008 Joann Dost All Rights Reserved

In 1947 and 1948, Ben Hogan competed in two Los Angeles Opens and a U.S. Open at Riviera (where the Northern Trust Open is currently being played). He finished first, first, and first. He would have won again, at the 1950 L.A. Open, his first tournament following his car accident, if Sam Snead hadn’t closed with consecutive birdies to tie him in regulation, then prevailed eight days later in an anticlimactic rain-delayed playoff. No wonder they still speak of Hogan’s game in the present tense at Riviera. His portrait hangs in the clubhouse over a fireplace that is always lighted, like an eternal flame.

Hogan, Riviera, 1950.

Hogan, Riviera, 1950 L.A. Open.

Riviera opened in 1926, in a flood-carved canyon in what was then sparsely populated farmland west of Los Angeles. It cost almost a quarter of a million dollars to build, and for a time it was the second-most expensive golf course on earth (after Yale). W.C. Fields, Douglas Fairbanks, Olivia De Havilland, Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn, and Howard Hughes all played there regularly. Will Rogers, Gary Cooper, and Spencer Tracy competed every weekend on the polo grounds, which are the source of the kikuyu grass on the golf course. Elizabeth Taylor and Greta Garbo, whose house overlooked the thirteenth fairway, were often seen trotting along a bridle path that encircled the course. Television didn’t exist, and martinis and cigarettes weren’t bad for you yet, and golf at Riviera was a party.

Katharine Hepburn, golfer.

Katharine Hepburn, golfer.

The Los Angeles Open was a very big deal in those years—more of a major, in many ways, than some of the majors.  Humphrey Bogart, who in his prime was close to scratch, used to sit under a tree near the twelfth green and sip bourbon while Hogan, Mangrum, Snead, and Nelson played by.

Bogey, scratch.

Bogey, scratch.

I played quite a few rounds at Riviera in 1995, on assignment for Golf Digest. The P.G.A. Championship was going to be held at Riviera that year, and I was working on a preview article. I arrived in L.A. one afternoon, checked into my hotel, and, because it was too early to eat dinner, decided to make sure I could find the course. A guard waved me through the gate, A tournament official let me through the fence and told me I should meet the club’s greens chairman, who had just finished playing and was having a beer with friends. We chatted for a few minutes, and then he asked, “Where are your clubs?” I ran back to my car. We teed off maybe five minutes later, and got in twelve or thirteen holes before it was too dark to see. When we’d finished, my new best friend asked me where I was staying, and when I gave him the name of my hotel he said, “You ought to be staying here.” So I moved into a lovely bedroom in the clubhouse, overlooking the eighteenth green. I woke up the next morning to the sound of members rolling putts on the practice green, and after a quick shower I ran downstairs and joined them.

My home away from home for four days.

My home away from home for four days.

Over the next few days, I played with two lawyers, who met in court while representing opposite ends of a personal-injury lawsuit; a guy whose company publishes hotel room-service menus; a guy who had recently retired from the garment business; the actor who played Frank Fontana on “Murphy Brown”; the father of Robby Krieger, who played guitar for the Doors; and Larry David, the co-creator of “Seinfeld” (and later the star of his own show).

My close personal friend Larry David.

My close personal friend Larry David.

I also met Walter Keller, who was Amy Alcott’s teacher. He said that he first met Alcott on the practice tee at Riviera when she was a young girl. “I fell in love with the kid right there,” he told me. “She hit a beautiful shot, and I said, ‘Hit another.’ She did. ‘Hit another.’ She did. I turned to her mother and said, ‘You are a blessed woman.'” Keller arranged for Alcott to become a member of the club. She had a difficult relationship with her father, he said, but club members looked out for her. “She had twenty fathers here,” he said. “Dean Martin would see her on the driving range, swing by in his cart, and say, ‘Hey, Amy, let’s play nine holes.”

Amy Alcott, Walter Keller, and Tony Sills (who was also a student of Keller's) and a significant collection of junior-golf trophies.

Amy Alcott, Walter Keller, and Tony Sills (who was also a student of Keller’s) and a significant collection of junior-golf trophies.

Alcott won the first of her twenty-nine LPGA Tour events in 1975, when she was nineteen. Keller died in 2003, at the age of ninety-five.