May 21, 2009

"So, What's Your Handicap?"

By Billy Condon

With the U.S. Open less than a month away, the worldwide golf buzz has already started. People at bars, courses, and walking down the street are excited to watch Tiger & co. tackle Bethpage once more, and golfers are debating about how they would fare teeing it up with the big boys. This conversation often turns to: “So, what’s your handicap?”

Therefore, in tune with this week’s poll, we’ll tackle one of golf’s greatest mysteries…the handicap. True or false: every golfer keeps a handicap? False. Fact: every golfer SHOULD have an official USGA Handicap Index, even if they don’t entirely understand the purpose of that double — but hopefully one day single — digit number. Here is a quick overview of the handicap system and why, no matter the skill of the player, you should keep one.

1) It allows players of all abilities to compete on an equitable level…making it your only chance to beat Tiger Woods outside of video games
2) It allows players to track their games as they improve
3) It allows players to track their games as their game falls apart
4) It allows a player to enter tournaments, outings and other events where handicaps are required
5) And if nothing else, it makes you look like you are serious about the game…and it’s cheap!

Now that you are excited about the handicap system, here’s how to sign up:
-You can click here: I am ready to start my handicap journey
-If you are an existing member of a golf club, men’s league, or any other organized group, you can talk to your handicap chairman about getting started with an official USGA Handicap Index.
-If not, contact a club near you and sign up today!

May 12, 2009

Catch the Trend

By Billy Condon

Trends come and go, especially in sports. From the short-shorts in the NBA to the oversize visors in golf that were sported by the likes of Tom Kite and Laura Davies (sorry David Toms), sports trends are in and out of style as often as Sergio changes putters.

Like all trends, it just takes an individual to spark the idea before others adopt a similar routine. From LeBron’s baby powder toss before a game, Big Papi’s pre-swing spit-clap and Paula Creamer’s pink outfit and golf ball, athletes have become synonymous with their individual trends. Not to mention that guy who wears red on Sundays. Here is a short list of examples in golf that help make our game unique, exciting and the source of conversation at the 19th hole.

-Any outfit by Ian Poulter

-John Daly’s new clothing endorser

-Boo Weekley and camouflage

-Bubba Watson and pink shafts

-Camilo Villegas’s Spider-man approach to reading putts

-Jim Furyk’s “back-off” putting routine

-Anthony Kim’s belt buckles

-Shingo Katayama’s cowboy hats

-Gary Player’s all-black attire

Photo Credit: Stuart Franklin - Getty Images

May 8, 2009

Despite Unfavorable Outcome, MGA Enjoys the Emerald Isle

By Kate Keller

Thursday, May 7

Several of the MGA Team members departed this morning for New York Mike Reardon, Cameron Wilson and Robert Cronheim all stayed at Portmarnock to play in the Irish Amateur Open Championship beginning Friday, May 8 at Royal Dublin.

A few of us, Al Small and his wife Patti, Gene Westmoreland and his wife Mary and I, traveled to The North. The drive along the cost of Ireland is spectacular! Everywhere you looked there was natural beauty in some form, whether it was the mountains on our left or the Irish Sea on our right.

We visited Royal County Down Golf Club. It was just as picturesque as one can imagine, and all were raving about the experience of playing this world famous course. Mary and I toured the quaint town of New Castle and sampled the local shopping and cuisine. Then it was back into the car to head further north to Port Rush!

Wednesday, May 6

It was another great finish today, although the outcome didn't come out the way the MGA had intended. Members of both teams played great and the awards reception was lovely. MGA President Al Small and team captain Gene Westmoreland stressed how much pride they had in their team, and how impressive the caliber of play was this week. Gene said it best, "When we arrived on Monday, there were some new friends and some old friends, and after today, we are ALL old friends".

We made plans with P.J. Collins, President of the GUI, and Rollo McClure, Honorary Treasurer of the GUI, to meet up when they visit New York for the U.S. Open in June. They were also invited to join us at the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association Dinner on June 16th where Gene will be honored with the Distinguished Service Award. All in all, it was a great day for the game of golf.

May 6, 2009

MGA, GUI Tied After First Day of Carey Cup

The MGA and the Golfing Union of Ireland are tied after the first day of competition at the Carey Cup Matches at the Portmarnock Links and Hotel in Dublin, Ireland. Visit for complete coverage. Kate Keller, the MGA Director of Special Events, sent us another update from across the pond:

May 5
I never fully understood how difficult playing golf under true links conditions could be...until today. The wind knocked over golf bags, blew golf balls off tees, and almost sidelined a few golf administrators! Nevertheless, both teams played very well and impressed us all. The MGA team made a great comeback in the afternoon, winning two of the three matches.

The GUI treated the MGA and Portmarnock officials and staff to a wonderful dinner at Bon Appetite in Malahide. The 7 course tasting menu was exquisite—a truly special evening that we will never forget!

I also had a conversation with MGA team captain Gene Westmoreland on what he thought of the day’s play:

“Despite winds of 40-50 miles per hour, the caliber of play was incredible,” said Gene. “The fourball scores in all matches were unbelievably under par. We're happy to be tied 3-3 going into the singles matches and looking forward to another great day of competition.”

May 5, 2009

MGA Carey Cup Team Set for Matches

The Carey Cup Matches began Tuesday morning at The Links Portmarnock in Ireland. Visit for live scoring and full coverage. Kate Keller, Director of Special Events at the MGA, sent an update on the Matches:

May 4
Today the lads from the Golfing Union of Ireland arrived and both teams and officials played a practice round at The Links Portmarnock to get ready for the matches. Following golf, there was a cocktail reception and an official dinner to formally introduce the two teams. It was wonderful to see old friends from the GUI again and to meet new friends from both the GUI and The Links Portmarnock. MGA team captain Gene Westmoreland and MGA President Al Small spoke on behalf of the MGA and the Carey Family, expressing the spirit of the matches and the great pride everyone has in representing their respective group. Tomorrow morning the matches begin at "half 8"!

Kate Keller

May 4, 2009

MGA Carey Cup Team Arrives in Ireland

The six-man MGA Carey Cup team traveled to Ireland over the weekend for the 8th Governor Hugh L. Carey Challenge Cup, a Walker Cup-style event against a team from the Golfing Union of Ireland, on May 5 and 6 at the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links (left). The MGA team is led by 2008 MGA Player of the Year Joe Saladino of Huntington and includes 2008 MGA Mid-Amateur champion Greg Rohlf of Winged Foot, 2007 MGA Mid-Amateur champ Mike Reardon of Tuxedo, and Ed Gibstein of Engineers, who is playing in his ninth MGA international competition. Sixteen-year-old Cameron Wilson, the low amateur at the 2008 Met Open, and 20-year-old Robert Cronheim of Twin Brooks, who finished tied for 9th at the 2008 New Jersey State Open, round out a strong MGA team. MGA Director of Special Events Kate Keller will send updates on all the action from the matches:

May 3
WE MADE IT! We arrived this morning at Dublin Airport at 10:15 a.m. Our flight was a little late, but Seamus Smith, the General Secretary of the Golfing Union of Ireland, was there to greet us with our bus. We picked up our rental cars, loaded the bus and checked into the Portmarnock Hotel. The team got a quick bite to eat, then it was off to golf at the K Club, site of the 2006 Ryder Cup. The group reconvened for a lovely dinner at one of the hotel's three restaurants. The weather has been great so far with just a few showers throughout the day, but that's typical here in Ireland!

Kate Keller