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Rubenstein: Using golf in a time of need
2010 ended with an emphasis on a collective achievement: individuals joining to help somebody in need
Published on Monday, Jan. 03, 2011
It was the last day of the year, and I was 37,000 feet above somewhere in New Mexico, according to the airline’s on-board information system. En route home from San Francisco, and in, shall we say, an elevated mood, I was thinking about the two-club tournament I’d played on Dec. 30th at the Quail Lodge course in Carmel, Calif..
By “two clubs,” I mean just that. I chose a five and a nine-iron. The event was a fund-raiser for Ernie Benetti, a gentleman who has been suffering from cancer and who has been facing serious financial challenges because of medical expenses. Benetti grew up in San Francisco, where he knew 1964 U.S. Open champion Ken Venturi well. He’d attended the famous match in 1956 at the Cypress Point Club where Venturi, then an amateur, and fellow amateur star Harvie Ward, played against Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. Benetti was steeped in golf.
|Bob Evans, Geoff Ashton
& Colin Campbell
Nearly 90 golfers showed up on a clear, brisk morning at Quail. This was four times the usual turnout. Spirits were high. Some people brought spirits—single-malt whiskies such as Laphroaig and Ardbeg were on the menu in my foursome. Quail felt like the perfect place for the event: a pleasant, easily walkable course in a valley. Tour pro Bobby Clampett has spent a lot of time around the course, and still gets there. His book The Impact Zone was prominent in the clubhouse. Quail is also the place where Ben Doyle, a well-known instructor in the approach called The Golfing Machine, has taught for decades.
It was a surprise to me that I was even playing. I’d been in Palo Alto, 90 minutes north, and visiting family. Prior to heading west, I’d received a wonderful e-mail from Colin Campbell, a Scotsman who had read my book A Season In Dornoch. He mentioned that he was helping run the two-club tourney, along with co-organizer Frank Pokigo. I couldn’t think of a better way to play my last round of 2010 than with two clubs, and all for a good cause.
|Dave Buckingham, Greg Cole & Steve Cohen
So there I was, hitting a few putts on the practice green with the back of my five-iron (I putt left-handed and swing right) when I ran into the genial Steve Cohen. Steve is the force of will and good nature behind the Shivas Irons Society. The two-clubber the previous year was a benefit for the SIS, and allowed the Society to send some underprivileged kids to golf camp. The SIS was kicking in $500 toward the fund-raiser.
Steve and I had met over the years, although we’d not seen one another for some time. Shivas Irons, of course, is the main character in the classic Michael Murphy novel Golf in the Kingdom. Steve informed me that a film based on the book had been completed in September. It was filmed at rambling, glorious Bandon Dunes on the Oregon coast. It’s being shown around now, as the filmmakers search for a distributor.
“No bumping, no cleaning, no kicking, no crying,” Colin Campbell soon announced to the gathering, as he went over the rules of the round. Colin was wearing the full Scottish outfit - kilt, sporran, high socks - and he had put me in his foursome along with Thomas Moore, a local venture capitalist, and Geoffrey Easton. Geoff was also wearing a kilt; he’s a Liverpudlian whose great-uncle was once the greenkeeper at the famous Hoylake links there. Tiger Woods won the 2006 Open Championship at Hoylake.
Off we went. Tom Moore spoke about his lessons with Fred Shoemaker, the man behind the Extraordinary Golf way of teaching the game, or, more properly, allowing a golfer to find his or her own game. Shoemaker invites participants to throw a club down the fairway, and shows them that they do so smoothly and without thought. The idea is to feel the motion and repeat it with a golf swing.
We played. We contrived a variety of shots. We enjoyed a few wee drams of whisky. A couple of guys came toward us in a cart on one hole. “It’s a two-club game and he lost one of his clubs,” one of the fellows in the cart said.
A fellow named Jerry Ledzinski shot 74 with two clubs to win the low gross. Chuck Davis shot 93, net 69, and was the overall winner. I shot either 97 by Colin’s reckoning, and 101 by mine. I think I had close to 50 putts.
Winners received a percentage of the entry fees and funds from a raffle. Every winner donated the money back to Ernie Benetti. Ernie was too ill to attend, but sent a message of thanks. The two-clubber had raised $5,655. Every bit helps.
Flying home, as 2010 faded away, I thought about Clampett’s book The Impact Zone. It occurred to me that the two-clubbers were in the impact zone all day - making a real impact.
The 2011 PGA Tour begins Jan. 6th with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii. Tournament winners from the 2010 season will compete. The focus will be on individual achievement. Meanwhile, I toast the way 2010 ended, at Quail Lodge, with its emphasis on a collective achievement: individuals joining to help somebody in need.
Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and, most recently, he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 11 books, including The Natural Golf Swing, with George Knudson (1988); Links: An Insider’s Tour Through the World of Golf (1990); The Swing, with Nick Price (1997); The Fundamentals of Hogan, with David Leadbetter (2000); A Season in Dornoch: Golf and Life in the Scottish Highlands (2001); Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); and his latest, This Round’s on Me (2009). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at email@example.com.