Ryder Rout Recap

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Greetings from The Booth!

Well, I’ve had a little more than 48 hours to digest the European rout of the USA in the 44th Ryder Cup. After a 19-9 shellacking in the 2021 Ryder Cup, the American squad was trying to win (retain) the cup on foriegn soil, something they haven’t done since 1993. There have been many theories as to why we can’t win overseas, along with lots of blame and finger pointing over the last 30 years. In truth, our lives will pretty much go on as normal this week, and outside of the golf world, most do not care about the Ryder Cup. I care, so here are a few quick thoughts on what went wrong.

I think the Europeans, with their soccer DNA, embrace the team concept more than the Americans. Yes, the Europeans play on various tours as individuals like we do, but there’s something intangible that bonds them at Ryder Cup time. The Americans just don’t have whatever that is. Along with that goes the huge “home field advantage” the Europeans have on their side of the pond. With colorful costumes and creative chants and songs, the European gallery can be intimidating to Americans playing in the Ryder Cup overseas for the first time.

That “home field advantage” also applied to the Marco Simone course outside of Rome. Many of the European players were familiar with the course, while many of the Americans were not. In addition, many players from Team USA took five weeks off prior to the Ryder Cup, while most on the European side did not. That may partially explain the absolute drubbing the USA took on Day One, including the 4-0 sweep in the morning session.

That makes a nice segueway into the format. The Americans seem to struggle with the alternate-shot format. That may speak to the aforementioned point about the individual nature of the American golfers. We do a little better in the four-ball sessions, but the USA always seems to put it’s eggs in the Sunday singles matches. This time, it was too late by the time Sunday rolled around.

As for the players themselves, the American stars didn’t step up. On paper it appeared the top to bottom, the USA had the stronger squad. The Europeans did have some of the top players in the world, like Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, but the Americans had more depth. But matches aren’t played on paper, and the European stars rose to the top, while Americans like Jordan Speith, Brooks Koepka, Scottie Scheffler, and Xander Schauffele all underperformed. While we’re on the subject of players, why was Koepka the only LIV golfer on the American squad? Couldn’t we have used a Dustin Johnson or Bryson DeChambeau, both long hitters who were stars in 2021 at Whistling Straits?

Finally, there is Captain Zach Johnson, who has all the personality of a paper clip. More importantly, he made many bad decisions throughout the Ryder Cup (as he freely admitted), too numerous to list here. We needed someone with fire, and Johnson was not that someone. A Tiger or Phil might have been what the USA needed this past weekend.

I’m not sure if we need another Ryder Cup Task Force, but the planning needs to begin now if the Americans want to take back the Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black in 2025! Until then, there’s always the President’s Cup.

Until the next visit from The Booth…GO USA!

RW

 

 

 

Green Grass and Blue Skies

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Greetings From The Booth!

Before I get to this week’s main topic…a note to the Washington Nationals: SCORE A RUN, PLEASE! The 5-13 Nats were shut out by the Baltimore Orioles in back-to-back games this week. In one of the games, Oriole starter Dean Kremer entered the game with an ERA near 10! Washington hard-luck pitcher Josiah Gray, who deserved a better fate in that 1-0 loss, needs to “lawyer up” and sue for non-support. He is now 0-4, with a respectable ERA of 3.74, but has received little help this year from an offense that is near the bottom of most NL categories.

This past Sunday, I finally got the golf clubs out of cold storage and played my first round of the year. It was a perfect morning as we stepped up to the first tee of the Boulder Course of Rock Harbor Golf Club. The 7:40 tee time meant that my twosome would get out ahead of the pack and be able to play at a nice pace. I now play the orange tees (no longer called the “senior tees”) and at 63, this has made the game more enjoyable for me. I decided to try something different and hit a nice 3-wood from the tee box instead of the usual driver, and nailed it right down the center to within 100 yards. A well-struck pitching wedge rolled just off the green, and my chip for birdie came up just 2 inches short. The tap-in par was a great way to start the golf season. The rest of the way was filled with some good shots, and some not-so-good ones, and a solid 41 on the back nine allowed me to break 90 by a couple of shots, which is in my wheelhouse of 85-92.

I’ve made some resolutions this year about golf, and I hope I can keep them until at least June. This is what I’m going to tell myself this year:

You’re not a pro. You don’t practice on the range and putting green for 10 hours a day, so lower the bar of expectation. Enjoy the round, the green grass and blue skies, the songbirds, the companionship, and don’t focus so much on score. Everyone, and I mean, everyone (even the touring pros) hit bad shots. Have a beverage or two, laugh at the duffs, dribbles, and slices, and revel in the occasional pars and the elusive birdies. No one will remember what your score was last week, but they will remember the good time they had with you on the golf course and at the 19th hole.

So there you are. My approach to golf this season. The slow play, three-putt greens, and snowmen (8’s on the card) will still upset me a bit, but not as much. Remember the old saying, “a bad day on the golf course is better than a good day at work.” There are worse places to be.

And one other thing: if you have a tee time on your favorite course this Earth Day weekend, remember to take care of the planet and replace your divots…

Until the next visit from The Booth…FORE!

RW

 

 

Fore The Kitties Golf Tournament INfo

Join “The River Ringers” on Saturday, August 20th, 8:30am at Rock Harbor Golf Club in Winchester for the 3rd annual “Fore The Kitties” Golf Tournament. The event benefits Dakota’s Dream, a small non-profit animal shelter in Winchester. Teams and sponsors are still needed, so be a part of what should be a fun day! Deadline is August 1st, so don’t wait! Registration and Sponsor forms are attached (see below)

Golfer Registration Form 2022 Fillable

Sponsor Form-July 31

 

 

Best Golf Prank Ever

Greetings from The Booth!

A golf buddy said after our usual weekend round that this was a “nothing” time in the sports world, and there probably is some truth to that. Did anyone really care about the USFL after the first few games? Sure, Wimbledon is happening, and the Tour de France is certainly an acquired taste (although I like the event and will watch). NFL training camps are still a few weeks from opening. And then there are your Washington Nationals, who are on pace for a 100-loss season. How many of you would have thought that possible after their World Series title in 2019?

If you’re a golf fan, the sport’s final major, The 150th Open Championship, a.k.a. The British Open, happens next week at the Old Course at St. Andrews. St. Andrews is hallowed ground in the golf world, and I love the British Open, because it’s golf the way it was meant to be played: low to the ground, in the elements. When I think of The Open Championship, I think of cold, wind, and rain. I also think of 59 year-old Tom Watson almost winning the Claret Jug in 2009, as a bunch of us geezers were gathered around the TV at Rock Harbor cheering him on. Moments like that can only happen at the Open.

Speaking of golf, this time of year takes me back to what might have been the greatest golf prank ever played. It happened during a beach trip to Nags Head with a group of friends around 1987. It was a great week of beachin’, night life, and a round of golf during which the aforementioned prank took place. The group included longtime friend Kevin Funkhouser, who would be my best man 4 years later when I tied the knot. The foil of the prank was Todd Lyons, another member of our Martinsburg circle of friends and participant in the annual “Turkey Bowl” Thanksgiving football game at Rosemont School, among other things.

The round of golf started, as you might expect, with drink flowing freely, and somewhere on the front 9, Funkhouser was victim of the old “exploding golf ball” prank. If you’re unfamiliar, these are joke golf balls that explode on impact, and are good for a laugh. As we moved on to the back 9, no other gags were played as the laughs and libation continued. Late in the round, Lyons hit a beautiful approach shot within 3 feet of the pin. As we drove to the green, Funkhouser got out of the cart, walked onto the green to survey Lyons’ shot and said, “Hey Todd, is this your ball…great shot!” He then …well, let’s just say,  proceeded to water Lyons’ golf ball, if you get my drift. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard on a golf course.

They say revenge is a meal best served cold. In this case…best served wet.

I look forward to being back in the Booth the week of the 18th! FORE!

RW

 

 

Sports Dogs Podcast: Checking In With FR Golf Club

The Golf season is underway, and in this edition of the SDPC, we chat with Louis Nicholls of the Front Royal Golf Club, who updates you on the condition of the course, as well as other recreational activities are available to the general public. Grab your clubs, and play a few rounds this year at Front Royal Golf Club!!!

 

Sports Dogs Podcast: Ryder Cup Preview With Nick Ciattei

One of the great sporting events happens this weekend (9/24-26) as the USA tries to take back the Ryder Cup from Europe at Whistling Straits. Randy previews this pressure-packed golf event like no other with Nick Ciattei of Mid Atlantic Golf Getaways.

The Front Royal Golf Club

In our latest Sports Dogs Podcast, we join up with Louis Nicholls, who along with his wife Shawn, are the proprietors of the beautiful Front Royal Golf Club. Louis talks about the challenges of the past year, the layout of the course, and his vision of the future!

Let’s Go…While We’re Young!

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SU field oversight
Winchester Printers
https://winchesterprinters.com

Greetings from The Booth!

As of this writing, Shenandoah University Baseball is 2 wins away from an automatic NCAA D-3 Tournament berth, as they enter the Championship series of the ODAC Tournament. The Hornets, at 30-9, have cracked the 30-win plateau for the fifth consecutive full season. Good Luck to Kevin Anderson’s squad as they take on Lynchburg this Friday!

OK, with the PGA Tournament set for Kiawah Island this weekend, I wanted to write about a golf pet peeve of mine, knowing full well that I’m going to come across as the old curmudgeon shaking his fist at the sky. Nothing gets my dander up (see, I’m already talking like an old curmudgeon) like slow play on the golf course.

I respectfully blame Tiger Woods for slow play. Tiger brought thousands, probably millions of new players to the game, and with all those newcomers came crowded golf courses and golfers who simply don’t know the etiquette of the game. Those two things lead to slow play, and 4-hour rounds that become 5-hour rounds and longer.

A few weeks ago, I was playing with a friend at a local track, which was hosting a tournament on one of it’s 18-hole courses. Thus, anyone who made a tee time that day was placed on their other 18-hole course. For whatever reason, there were 4 groups waiting on every tee box. After 7 holes, we raised the white flag and retreated to the clubhouse for a sandwich and a beverage. I love my golf partners, but not for 6 hours.

Then, a few days ago my foursome was in a local charity tournament, which is actually a fun, well-run affair. These “captains choice” tournaments traditionally take longer to play than your garden variety weekday round of golf. These are fundraisers more than golf tournaments, and you know that going in.

But my team got behind a foursome that, on every shot, threw grass up into the air (to seemingly gauge wind direction, but probably just to look like the pros), pulled out GPS gadgets, slide rules, protractors, and Jenny Craig calorie conversion charts to figure the exact distance to the hole, then proceeded to slice the ball into the woods. They weren’t just on the clock, they were on the calendar.

A golfer of any ability can do his or her part to combat slow play by being “golf ready.” Think about the next shot as you’re driving to the ball. Have an idea about what club you’re going to use and the conditions before you get out of the cart. Don’t rely so much on the gadgets. GPS is nice, but most of us can’t dial up a 153-yard shot on-demand. If we could, we’d be collecting paychecks on Sundays. That $2 Nassau might seem like the US Open, but it’s not.

It’s also incumbent upon local golf courses to do all they can to insure that everyone is playing at a steady pace. I know it’s a busine$$, but space groups out so that each tee box doesn’t look like the lineup at the Daytona 500. And make sure course marshals are hurrying slow players along in a gentle way.

Or, we could just take a page out of Rodney Dangerfield’s character in “Caddyshack,” Al Czervik. When you see a player dilly-dallying ahead of you, just yell, “Let’s go, while we’re young!”

Hit ’em long and straight, and until the next visit from The Booth, GO HORNETS!

RW