Reader’s Trip Report: The U.S. Open by Periscope

Axum I met Steve Davis, a reader in California, at Tiger Woods’ World Challenge in 2012. He was easy to spot because he was carrying a homemade periscope, which he was using to see over the heads of people standing in front of him.  Note the beer holder:


Periscopes used to be common at golf tournaments, including the U.S. Open. These two are from 1988:


Many spectators at the 1993 Ryder Cup, which I attended (at the Belfry, in England), watched the tournament through periscopes that looked like the boxes that bottles of Johnny Walker scotch come in. (Johnny Walker sponsored the tournament.) The Belfry is a terrible course for spectators, because there are few good vantage points. The periscopes made things better for the people who had them and worse for the people who didn’t. (I saw one guy carrying a paint can, which he stood on until he got too drunk to keep his balance.) Davis’s periscope is a big improvement over those old ones, because the mirrors are separated by dowels rather than solid panels: if you’re standing behind him, you can see through it. He has taken versions of his invention to many tournaments, including this year’s U.S. Open:


Davis works for a copier company, and has “wallpapered” his periscope with color copies of golf mementos. His report from Chambers Bay:
I probably don’t have to tell you how great the U.S. Open was this year. The average person walking the course couldn’t see a lot, though. The fairways were so brown that it was hard to pick up the ball off the tee box. If you were lucky enough to be standing close to a green, you were set—but don’t move and think you’re going to find another spot like that one. My periscope saved my ass, because I could go pretty much anywhere and still see. Here I am on the ninth hole, a par 3:


Davis continues:
I let a lot of other people use it on Saturday and Sunday, and they were amazed at how well they could see from where they were standing—including one girl who was happy because she could watch Jason Day putting on No. 10. The periscope I took to Chambers Bay was an improvement over the one you saw at Sherwood Country Club. I changed the mirror angle, to give it a better field of vision, and I removed the belt strap, because I found that it was just as easy to carry without it, by putting my arm through the poles. I kept the beverage holder, though.

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.