"Caracas Country Club: Where the 0.01% Await Socialism’s Collapse"

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Bloomberg’s Ethan Bronner takes us inside Venezuela’s Caracas Country Club, where the dress code standards have been slipping. But given what’s going on outside the club gates, it’s a minor issue for the historic club situated amidst a crumbling country.

It may seem remarkable, if not obscene, that a citadel like this exists, and thrives, in the middle of one of the world’s most violent and distressed cities, the capital of a country whose economy has collapsed and where malnutrition and disease rates are soaring. Millions have emigrated to escape the grind of finding enough to eat, of living without reliable electricity or tap water. And here, inside a gracious hacienda where chandeliers twinkle overhead, there is renewed focus on sartorial protocol.

Bronner’s piece goes on to consider the many striking and bizarre issues facing the country club set in a place of turmoil.

Former Cal Golfer Opens Rustic Canyon Round With 10 Straight Birdies

As co-architect I should be horrified but any course that rewards such incredible play must be a masterpiece, no?

Anyway, enough about me.

The Forecaddie reports on Brandon Beck’s 10-birdie start at Rustic Canyon in August and suggests that it’s a record given how few documented 10-straight moments have been recorded.

Oh, and he lipped out on the 11th.

Three-Year Suspension For A Bird Flip After Phone Goes Off Mid-Swing?!

Ryan Lavner reports for GolfChannel.com on one of the more extreme suspensions in sports history after Bio Kim flipped off a ringer-on gallery member.

The incident took place on the Korean PGA’s DGB Financial Group Volvik Daegu Gyeongbuk Open—aka the DGBFGVDGO—where Kim heard a cell phone camera and slammed his club into the ground. The club slamming was, frankly, more bothersome in a golf context given the course destruction.

He went on to win the tournament but lose his plea for forgiveness, reports Lavner:

Apparently that mea culpa wasn’t enough to avoid a suspension, as the Korean Tour cracked down by unanimously voting to ban Kim for three years and fine him the U.S. equivalent of $8,350. After the emergency tour meeting Tuesday, news-wire photos showed Kim kneeling in front of a row of television cameras.

In a statement, the tour said: “Kim Bi-o damaged the dignity of a golfer with etiquette violation and inappropriate behavior.”

I poked around a bit and have yet to find an explanation for why the bird-flip is so offensive in Korean culture, but did learn this about the arm wave, just in case you are headed to South Korea.

Don't hail a cab or wave someone over to you with your palm facing up in South Korea. That's how Koreans summon their dogs. The proper way to wave is to move your hand up and down vertically with your palm facing down.

Avoid Using In: South Korea.

There you go.

But back to Bio Kim. Here is the video:

Tripp Isenhour and I discussed this bizarro story on today’s Golf Central:

$39.5 Million: Listing Price For Tom And Gisele's Estate On The Country Club

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It’s a nice club and neighborhood, a Richard Landry design and good economy, but is it rude to say that this is still a little excessive for five acres?

Bill Speros with the details for Golfweek of Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s home overlooking The Country Club in Brookline going on the market.

Ladies European Tour "Moonlight" Event This Week Is Finishing Under LED Lights

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We won’t get it on Golf Channel this year with several other events on the schedule, but the simulation of the LED lighting package being employed to finish a Ladies European Tour event under the lights looks interesting. Jessica Marksbury with details for Golf.com.

From their Tweet:

Topgolf Happy Ending: Lil Pump Gets His Ring Back

Lil Pump Gets His Ring Back

Lil Pump Gets His Ring Back

I know readers of this site are all fans of Lil Pump—rapper of course—who has made enough to wear a $100,000 ring to Topgolf.

But not enough apparently to take it off and pay someone to hold it while he swings away at golf shots.

Not to worry though, this craftsman of the English language has been reunited with his bloated rock. Somewhere, desperate-to-reach-the-kids golf organizations are jealous.

Wimbledon Park Members Accept £63.75m Offer

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The Guardian’s Kevin Mitchell reports on Wimbledon Park Golf Club members accepting a huge offer to sell their course to the neighboring All England Club.

The course is already used during the fortnight and would see further expansion of the tennis grounds if the deal goes through.

Naturally, the final decision yielded a Brexit reference.

The club will decide finally in December whether or not to accept the once-and-for-all bid by the All England Club, which owns the dwindling lease. As a Wimbledon member remarked: “This is their Brexit. They have to make a call one way or another – in or out.”

Valentino Dixon Freed After Golf Digest Investigation, Profile

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Six years ago Golf Digest’s Max Adler profiled and co-wrote a piece by Valentino Dixon, convicted of killing Torriano Jackson and an avid painter of golf scenes even though he’d never played the game in his life. (He was also profiled in this excellent Ryan Griffiths-produced piece for In Play with Jimmy Roberts.)

Fast forward to this week where Dixon, serving 39-to-life, had his murder conviction vacated after Golf Digest’s story and several others worked to get Dixon freed for a crime he insisted he did not commit.

Adler’s follow up piece on Dixon, who served 27 years.

Although Dixon has never hit a ball or even stepped foot on a course, the game hooked him when a golfing warden brought in a photograph of Augusta National’s 12th hole for the inmate to render as a favor. In the din and darkness of his stone cell, the placid composition of grass, sky, water and trees spoke to Dixon. And the endless permutations of bunkers and contours gave him a subject he could play with.

“The guys can’t understand,” Dixon has said. “They always say I don’t need to be drawing this golf stuff. I know it makes no sense, but for some reason my spirit is attuned to this game.”

Dixon leaving the courthouse and understandably grateful to Adler for helping his cause:

Much Needed Animal Golf Course Video Surfaces! Fox Steals Golf Ball

It's been too long. With slow play fights leading to severed digits and other bleak news in the world, we are faced with the FedExCup and it's completely moribund format as a diversion.

Thankfully a wee critter has come along to give us hope for humanity. Or, at least for young animals.

From Springfield CC and while I recognize it's no dancing bear, we'll take it:

York, PA Golf Club Owner Calls Police On Supposedly Slow Golfers

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Then it gets appreciably worse, as an unbylined AP story notes of Grandview Golf Club apologizing to a group of five black women--known as Sisters of the Fairway--who were harassed by the course co-owner and his father for not playing fast enough. 

At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.


And there was this dreadful image...

Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

Former Secretary Of State Tillerson To Resurface At Masters As Berckmans Place Greeter

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Rex Tillerson, the former Secretary of State and Augusta National member who has not been seen publicly since his firing last month by President Donald Trump, will resurface at this week’s Masters in a "working" capacity.

According to four sources privy to conversations between Tillerson and new Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley, the former Secretary volunteered for "just about" any committee role. Tillerson has told friends “that any job would be better” than the one he just held for a year, including working on the media committee. 

“Tilly offered to do anything, even give tours of the members’ wine cellar,” said one club source. “But that’s a job for new members like Finchem. Chairman Ridley thought Rex needed to get acclimated with every day working folks again and assigned him to work as a Berckmans greeter for a few hours Monday morning.”

Berckmans Place is the club’s $6000 a ticket, all-you-can-imbibe luxury pavilion opened in 2012 and spearheaded by Chairman Billy Payne as another patron experience opportunity. Tillerson will share meet-and-greet duties with another former Secretary of State and member, Condoleeza Rice. Current USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann is also a regular Berckmans presence. 

“Having Rexy join Condi down there allows Berckmans patrons to ask probing questions about our most hostile foreign powers," said another member. "How cool is that?"

Another club source said part Tillerson's transition to non-government life, which has included getting re-acclimated with flying on Gulfstream V's and VI's, will be a special gesture from Chairman Ridley.  While it's not normal practice, the Chairman is allowing the former Secretary to leave two patron badges for Jared and Ivanka Trump at Will Call. The badges have been deactivated and anyone trying to use them would be subject to arrest by the Sheriff.  

"Rex is pretty beaten down, but the Chairman thinks it might even lift his spirits to passive-aggressively leave badges for 'Jarvanka.' It's a key component of Rex's Acceptance and Commitment Therapy program."

Inspired By Trump, Lydia Ko Working On Spin-Off Of The Apprentice


Lydia Ko has a grander goal in mind than returning to No. 1 in women's golf: establishing herself as a reality television star.

Barring a setback like winning a major or a Race For The CME Globe, the former World No. 1 expects to channel her passion for hiring and firing into a business. 

“We’ve got a great plan going forward,” Ko said when contacted about a pitch document leaked on a Reddit community forum. “It really just allows me to monetize what I do best: firing caddies and coaches."

Ko admitted that her virtually annual process of changing caddies and coaches has been cumbersome and at select times, stressful. Ko says she was inspired to pitch Golf Channel on her idea thanks to Donald Trump's rise from reality show host of The Apprentice to the presidency.

Ko has penciled in the fourth quarter of 2018 to film the first pilot for "The Caddy Apprentice," where the golfer will conduct a contest to be her next looper as cameras record the interview and audition process. Former instructor David Leadbetter is expected to replace current instructor Ted Oh by then and will serve as a sidekick, though Ko said that could change three or four more times.

Ko admitted to being oddly comfortable at the thought of replacing current caddie Jonny Scott with cameras rolling.

“I can better deal with all the whimpering and whining by monetizing my love of replacing team members. I mean, like, who wouldn't want to say, ‘Bones Mackay, YOU’RE FIRED!'”

Besides Mackay, Ko hopes to lure caddies Fluff Cowan, Steve Williams and a hologram of Herman Mitchell for season one, though she hasn't worked out how Mitchell would actually carry her bag.  Ko already has written a pitch for The Swing Instructor Apprentice.

"Eventually there will be two shows running concurrently if all goes well and we can consolidate the production. There are so many people to fire. This is so much more fun than playing!"

Ko denied any plans to fire equipment supplier PXG and its founder Bob Parsons.

"Not yet, but the tax implications of all his free gifts have started to become a pain."

R&A Hits Pause On Plans To Sell Open Merchandise At Swilken Bridge, Other Famous Locations


Following backlash for covering over golf’s most historic storefront in the name of selling Open merchandise, the R&A and St. Andrews Links Trust have quietly squelched ambitious gift shop expansion plans.

For now.

Sources close to R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers and Links Trust CEO Euon Loudon say the leaders were caught off guard by outrage surrounding their decision to smother the historic Tom Morris storefront signage with The Open’s logo. The same storefront that Bobby Jones sought refuge in after winning The Open, and where golf architects like C.B. Macdonald, A.W. Tillinghast and Donald Ross were inspired.

"We're just trying to grow the game and slow down the damn ball!" Slumbers could be heard yelling to Loudon as they bemoaned golf tourists during a meeting at a St. Andrews coffee shop. Out of their get together came a top secret agreement to put Open merchandise satellite shops on hold, including Slumbers' ambitious plans to erect one on the 18th fairway.

"Slumbers took inspiration from Peter Dawson and thought they could slow down drives on 18 by making it blind, ala the Road hole," said an R&A staffer. "Then he figured, 'while we're at it, why not sell some nice Open chotskies too.'" 

Images obtained for the planned Swilken Bridge satellite shop suggest the additional retail location would have been hawking Open-branded trinkets, caps and other gear as golfers cross the centuries-old landmark while blocking clubhouse views. 

Multiple sources confirmed other planned locations for conversion into Open merchandise shops included the lighthouse at Turnberry, a turf island on Muirfield’s 18th greenside bunker and the Cavern Club in Liverpool. The R&A refused comment on those plans but did issue a statement denying rumors of a merchandise shop floating through Carnoustie's Barry Burn during this year's Open.

Televised Topgolf Competition Is Coming And It'll Probably Be Huge

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No one should underestimate the popularity of Topgolf and given that they fill arenas now to watch people play eSports, I like its chances of engaging and showing another side of golf.

The Shotmakers team names sound like cultish Crossfit wannabes or strip clubs, but hey, there are only so many names you can grab without getting sued these days.

For Immediate Release:

Inspired by the Topgolf Experience, Nine Co-Ed Teams Battle in Innovative Golf Channel Shotmaking Competition
Shotmakers Sizzle: www.Shotmakers.com
ORLANDO, Fla., (March 12, 2018) – Shotmakers, an innovative new golf competition where precision shotmaking meets intense strategy in a fast-paced format, was announced today. Premiering Monday, April 9 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel, Shotmakers will feature the fun, social experience for which Topgolf is known, blending entertainment, golf and technology throughout the competition. The announcement was made today by Phil Piazza, Golf Channel senior vice president of programming and Topgolf Media President YuChiang Cheng.
Surrounded by the Topgolf experience in Las Vegas, nine co-ed teams of two will pair up in head-to-head competitions that test precision, distance and control, all while facing intense pressure and strategic decision-making. The 18 competitors include a former PGA TOUR professional, mini-tour professional golfers, an Olympian, former collegiate athletes, a former World No. 1 World Long Drive competitor, a trick-shot artist, decorated military veterans, and champions from the Topgolf Tour.
“Shotmakers is a great opportunity to introduce a progressive approach to golf competition, featuring dynamic personalities from across the sports landscape,” said Phil Piazza, Golf Channel senior vice president of programming. “Shotmakers also will showcase what Topgolf has been doing for 17 years – evolving the narrative around golf and redefining golf participation.”
The competition will utilize Toptracer by Topgolf, the leading technology used on PGA TOUR televised broadcasts that immediately shows players their ball’s flight, speed, distance and curve on screen, as well as the games made popular at the 41 Topgolf venues around the world. Teams will compete for cash and prizes in each competition and will be eliminated until one team is left standing as the champion of Shotmakers.
“Topgolf is proud to partner with Golf Channel for Shotmakers. This show advances our mutual commitment to growing the game through original content that inspires and entertains our audiences,” said Topgolf Media President YuChiang Cheng. “Through Shotmakers, Topgolf blends our unique brand experience with sports, creating compelling content that can be enjoyed by everyone.”
Shotmakers is co-hosted by 3-time college national player of the year Amanda Blumenherst and golf host Shane Bacon, along with Golf Channel reporter Chantel McCabe and social media correspondent Alexandra O’Laughlin. Shotmakers will feature seven rounds of competition airing two nights a week– Monday and Tuesday nights – at 9 p.m. ET beginning April 9 and concluding April 30. The series will also be distributed across Golf’s international platforms, airing in more than 60 countries worldwide.
IMPACT, sponsored by CDW:
SUSANA BENAVIDES (27, Cochabamba, Bolivia) Professional golfer, only Bolivian-born golfer to compete on the LPGA Tour, former top-ranked amateur in South America.
TOMMY BIERSHENK (44, Greenville, S.C.) Former PGA TOUR professional, two-time All-American at Clemson University, golf course owner.
SHARKS, sponsored by Corona Premier:
TANIA TARE (29, Auckland, New Zealand) Professional golfer, trick-shot artist, record-holder for lowest single round while competing for Florida International University with a 63.
MAURICE ALLEN (36, Pine Hills, Fla.) Former World No. 1 World Long Drive competitor, 3-time World Long Drive winner, All-American at Florida A&M in track.
STRIKERS, sponsored by Travelocity:
VICTORIA LOVELADY (31, Sao Paolo, Brazil) Professional golfer currently competing on the Symetra and Ladies European Tour, Olympian who represented Brazil in 2016 Rio Olympics.
ROBBIE BIERSHENK (41, Greenville, S.C.) Driving range owner, former mini-tour player, featured on Golf Channel’s Chasing the Dream series.
LIGHTNING, sponsored by MGM Grand:
KENZIE O’CONNELL (26, Denver, Colo.) Golf teaching instructor, Women With Drive ambassador.
CHAD PFEIFER (36, Caldwell, Idaho) Professional golfer, decorated U.S. Army Corporal (retired) who credits golf saving his life, two-time Warrior Open champion, amputee (lower leg).
SEEKERS, sponsored by Waste Management
CHRISTINA LECUYER (35, Conway, Ark.) Professional corporate/charity golf host and media personality, two-time All-American from the University of Central Arkansas, former professional golfer.
MATT COUSENS (26, London, England) PGA teaching professional, 2017 Topgolf Tour Championship runner-up with fellow Shotmakers competitor Brad Barnes.
WARRIORS, sponsored by Avis:
NIKKI BONDURA (25, Sacramento, Calif.) Golf lifestyle blogger, co-owner of Women With Drive.
BRAD BARNES (23, London, England) 2017 Topgolf Tour Championship runner-up with fellow Shotmakers competitor Matt Cousens.
ACES, sponsored by Topgolf:
TISHA ABREA (24, Murrieta, Calif.) Professional golfer competing on the mini-tours in 2018, co-owner of Women With Drive.
JAMIE PUTERBAUGH (33, Carlsbad, Calif.) PGA of America professional and teaching instructor, 2016-17 Topgolf Tour Championship finalist with fellow Shotmakers competitor Peter Campbell.
RINGERS, sponsored by Massage Envy:
HAILEY OSTROM (24, Phoenix, Ariz.) Professional golfer currently competing on mini tours.
ANDREW BACHELDER (36, Fort Worth, Texas) 2015 Warrior Open champion, decorated U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant (retired) who credits golf with saving his life.
HAWKS, sponsored by Topgolf:
CHELSEA PEZZOLA (25, Scottsdale, Ariz.) Professional golfer, standout junior golfer at IMG Academy, two-time Academic All-Big Ten at University of Michigan.
PETER CAMPBELL (33, Carlsbad, Calif.) Former PGA TOUR professional, golf instructor, 2016-17 Topgolf Tour Championship finalist with fellow Shotmakers competitor Jamie Puterbaugh.

Michael Bamberger On T. Bone Burnett, Golfer

One of the world's best music producers is also a golfer who is old enough to have seen Ben Hogan during his Shady Oaks days.

Michael Bamberger of Golf.com speaks to the legendary T Bone Burnett about his youth in Fort Worth and his views on the game.

His hometown is a recurring theme. In one email he wrote about how he grew up playing at Fort Worth's Shady Oaks Country Club, where Hogan lunched daily:

"Hogan would sit in the clubhouse at a table in the window above the range. It was always a possibility that he would be watching the cats out there trying to dig a swing out of the dirt. You got used to that.

"But some days, you would be hitting balls on the range and suddenly feel a presence behind you. You would look back and Mr. Hogan would be standing there looking at you. You would turn back around and try to forget he was there and keep hitting balls. After a few shots, maybe a particularly solid one, you would look again, and he would have vanished."

R.I.P. Ed Lee, Golf-Loving SF Mayor

What a shame to lose the gregarious sports (and golf) loving San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to a heart attack. The man loved his golf, was instrumental in numerous events coming to the Bay Area and was looking forward to more. I'll never forget chatting with him during the 2012 U.S. Open as he walked inside the ropes, watching the golf as an avid fan.

The SF Chronicle's Ron Kroichick remembers the Mayor in two pieces, including one on Lee's love of sport, and this one on his love of golf.

Lee’s death early Tuesday morning stunned the Bay Area golf community. Lee, an avid player, was instrumental in bringing the 2015 Match Play Championship and 2020 PGA Championship to Harding Park.

“It’s a huge loss for golf in San Francisco, no question,” Dillon said. “We wouldn’t have the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park without him. He was a big supporter of the First Tee and a big supporter of women’s golf. … I’m just in shock.”

Lee also worked on the Presidents Cup, held at Harding in October 2009. Lee was city administrator at the time, and he met Presidents Cup Executive Director Tom Clark for breakfast nearly every Friday in the 18 months preceding the event.

The Mayor was a strong supporter of saving Alister MacKenzie's embattled Sharp Park design as well.


San Francisco Public Golf lost a great friend.

Rest in Peace Mayor Ed Lee, and thank you for all you did. #SaveSharpPark pic.twitter.com/cF2OYAQIUu

— SF Public Golf (@SFPublicGolf) December 12, 2017



Best Of Halloween Golf Costumery: Putter Boy

Just tremendous on many levels...

The best golf-related #Halloween costume EVER. #pinehurst #pinehurstresort

A post shared by Pinehurst Resort (@pinehurstresort) on

Not Everyone Is Ashamed Of Their Golf Ties: Actor Christopher McDonald DUI Edition

Now I know it's been a rough patch for golf of late, what with OJ Simpson rushing to get a club in his hand within hours of leaving prison and an assortment of other shady characters attaching themselves to the royal and ancient game.

But look at the case of actor Christopher McDonald. With a mile-long oeuvre that includes roles in Thelma & Louise, Fatal Instinct, Unforgettable and even television roles on Boardwalk Empire and Law & Order, McDonald could have name-dropped none of those award-worthy artistic vehicles.

Instead, after crashing his Porsche in Lake Arrowhead, he touted his work in Happy Gilmore to the arresting officers. TMZ says the officers weren't impressed to be in the midst of Shooter McGavin.

I believe in this time of crisis and irresponsible living (this is DUI 2!) which should get him forbidden from ever driving a car again, we still need to support McDonald for not shying away from the game he clearly loves (and still earns nice residuals from).

Reminder: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred On Callaway Live

You can set a reminder and get a preview here of Major League Baseball Commissioner (and big golf nut) Rob Manfred appearing on this week's Callaway Live, obviously recorded just prior to the Commish's busy time of year.

The show debuts at 6 pm Pacific Tuesday and can be viewed on YouTube any time after that.