The Palms turns to YouTube for promotion.

As social media goes, YouTube isn’t exactly the cutting edge of technology. But the video-sharing web site remains extremely popular, and it can be used to promote a product as easily as it can be used to promote a video of a cat playing Mozart.

The folks who run The Palms Golf Club are taking an interesting step concerning YouTube. The Palms, like every private club in the country, is trying to get its message out to potential members. So the Palms has produced a five-minute video that is now posted on YouTube discussing the club, its membership, its facilities and other features.

Narrated by Emmy Award-winning and Hall of Famer Jack Whitaker, the video has the feel of a well-made and quite informative infomercial, complete with views of the golf course and plenty of information about the club.

In a time when most private clubs are scrambling to find new members to replace older members who are leaving the game, any promotional tool should be in play. For The Palms, YouTube might be the answer to getting some people outside of the Coachella Valley to take a look at the La Quinta club.

The Palms Golf Club on YouTube

Last day for National Drive, Chip and Putt registration

Today is the final day for junior golfers to register for the National Drive, Chip and Putt Championship, sponsored by the USGA, the PGA of America and the Masters Tournament Foundation.

The contest is designed to test juniors in three phases of the game, driving, chipping and putting. The event is open to played ages 7 to 15 and is free.

At 14, Tinalang Guan might be eligible for the National Drive, Chip and Putt Championship (AP photo)

This nationwide competition gives juniors of all skills levels a big prize at the end of the event for the finalists, a free trip for them and their guardian to the ultimate finale on Sunday, April 6 at the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament.

The competition is designed not only to test the skills of existing players but is also another efforts by the three presenting organizations to grow the game among young people.




Proof we have lost the slow-play battle

I had a chance to watch some pretty decent golf Thursday in the Desert Valley League match between La Quinta and Palm Desert high schools at SilverRock Resort in La Quinta. La Quinta won the match 191-205, but there was one overriding thing that stuck out at me.

All of the players in the match  were SLOW.  I mean like, take forever to play a hole or even hit a shot slow.

Just a few examples of what I saw that make play slow.

– Guys who are maybe 80 or 90 years from the green walking all the way up to the green to survey the shot, then walking all the way back to their ball before finally hitting the shot. Other players can’t hit as the guy is near the green, and the offending player must take extra time in doing all that walking.

–Guys waiting to hit shots that they can’t pull off, like carrying the corner on doglegs. The resulting shot makes a player have to consider options on a demanding second shot that maybe the players shouldn’t have been facing to begin with.

–Putting. Oh, this was the worst. Four guys on a green. Guy farthest away hits, say, a 40-foot to 2 feet. He walks up, marks the ball, walks away. The next players surveys his putt from both sides, then finally puts the ball down, hits a 20 footer, misses  by two feet, marks the ball, and the process begins again for the third and fourth players. Then they all have to hit their second putts. Yikes.

The result is a final group that took close to two and a half hours to play nine holes. And these are pretty decent players, the kind that are capable of shooting par on a given day. Did these kids pick up these bad habits from watching the pros on television, from their own teachers or even their own mental coaches?

Whatever the issue, these are players who have learned to play slow golf. And we might all be doomed to slow play very, very soon.



Colbert, Beard put on a desert show at Legends of Golf

It was a good trip to Savannah, Ga. this week for a couple of desert golfers who participated in the Demaret Division of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf.

Jim Colbert, left, and Bob Murphy celebrate their Legends of Golf win (AP photo)

Jim Colbert, a part-time Palm Desert resident, teamed with his old friend Bob Murphy to win a playoff in the team competition for players over 70 against Palm Desert’s Frank Beard and Larry Ziegler. Both teams finished the two-day, 36-hole event at 15-under 131, with Murphy and Colbert making birdied on the last hole to force the playoff.

On that first playoff hole, Murphy made a birdie to win the event and ear Colbert and Murphy $60,000 each. Beard and Ziegler, who also lost a playoff in the event last year, earned $34,000 each.

Local golf fans might remember that Colbert, who lives at Bighorn Golf Club, and Murphy teamed together to win the 1995 and 1996 senior title in the Diners Club Matches at PGA West in La Quinta. Colbert previously won the Demaret Division in 2000 and 2001 with partner Andy North.



Should a 14-year-old get a sponsor’s exemption?

Tianlang Guan, who was the sensation of the Masters by making the cut in the event at 14 years old, will be teeing it up again at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans this week.

Tianlang Guan will play in the Zurich Classic this week. (AP Photo)

At the Masters, Guan had qualified for the event by winning the Asia-Pacific Classic. At the Zurich, Guan is playing on a sponsor’s exemption.

So a few people have asked me this week if I thought a 14-year-old should be getting an exemption into a PGA Tour event, essentially taking a spot away from a tour member who might really need an extra start or two in an effort to keep their playing card.

The argument in favor of Guan is that at 14, he is a draw for galleries. He brings in different demographics to the tournament, and he has already made a name for himself in the game. If the point of a sponsor’s exemption is to increase the appeal of the event’s field, Guan fits the bill.

The argument against Guan is that while he is 14 and he did make the cut at the Masters, he’s not really a threat to win the Zurich Classic. Maybe that spot in the field would be better used by giving it to a golfer with PGA Tour experience, maybe even a win or two on the PGA Tour. That might strengthen the field and make for a better tournament.

Both side are right of course. Tournament organizers can use the sponsor’s exemptions to get good players who are not otherwise exempt into the field, or than can use the exemptions to add some star power to the field. It may sound strange to say a 14-year-old has star powers, but Guan is no ordinary 14-year-old. Most 14-year-old don’t play in the Masters or make the cut. I tend to error on the side of making the field more interesting, because every PGA Tour field is pretty deep. So I’m fine with Guan getting the chance.

If Guan misses the cut, critics will say he took a spot from a more deserving player. If he makes the cut, he’ll be hailed as the newest teen phenom

One thing is for sure. Guan will attract attention in New Orleans this week, and maybe that was the point of giving him the exemption in the first place.



Lots of locals in Legends of Golf action this week

The focus in the 70-and-over Demaret Division of the Legends of Golf in Savannah, Ga. this week is certainly on the pairing of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. But the two-day, 36-hole event also features plenty of desert golfers.

Jack Nicklaus is partnered with Gary Player at the Legends of Golf this week (AP photo)

For instance there is Palm Desert’s Jim Colbert renewing his long-time pairing with friend Bob Murphy. And there are a pair of desert golfers, Al Geiberger and Jimmy Powell, playing together.

Frank Beard of Palm Desert is also in the field, playing with Larry Ziegler. A pair of former desert golfers, Tommy Jacobs and Johnny Pott, are also back in the tournament as team. And there is Palm Spring’s Howie Johnson, playing with Fred Hawkins.

The Demaret Division, named after three-time Masters winner Jimmy Demaret, is one of the more popular portions of the Legends of Golf, the tournament credited in part with starting the Senior PGA Tour, now called the Champions Tour. The tournament started in Texas, was played in the Coachella Valley for three years and eventually moved to the Savannah area. Once a team competition for all players, it is now an individual tournament for the regular seniors as well as a team event but still only a team competition for the older guys.

The Demaret Division will end Tuesday.


First round after Kraft proves solid for the KNC storyline players

Remember back two weeks ago when Lizette Salas looked like she had a chance to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship only to suffer a double bogey on the first hole on the way to a 79?

Lizette Salas (Wade Byers/The Desert Sun)

Well, that was put in the past by Salas Wednesday in the first round of the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii. Salas, who has played solid golf all year, managed a 3-under 69 Wednesday, seven shots off the lead by far from the 79 she shot at the Kraft.

Inbee Park, who waltzed to a win at the Kraft and who is now the No. 1 player in the world rankings, shot a routine 70 and is tied for 27th entering today’s second round. So Yeon Ryu, who ended up second to Park at Mission Hills Country Club, shot a 67 and is tied for sixth. Ryu has a great game and is personable and has a chance to be a star on the tour for sure.

Stacy Lewis, who lost her No. 1 spot in the rankings last week during an off-week for the tour, shot 67 ad well and is three shots behind leader Ariya Jutanugarn. Lewis could easily regain the No. 1 spot on the tour this week pretty much by finishing ahead of Park at the end of Saturday’s final round.

So for many of the players who were involved in the drama of the final round at the Kraft, there has been no major hangover.


Readers respond to Tiger, the Masters and ruling

One of the thinks I’ve always liked about the people who ready my stories and columns either online or in The Desert Sun is that they are not afraid to share their own opinions on golf, for which they have an obvious passion.

Tiger Woods and the ruling are getting plenty of chatter (AP photo)

That proved true again over the last few days and people emails and called to talk about their ideas on the ruling that produced a two-shot penalty for Tiger Woods at the Masters for taking a bad drop, but how that violation didn’t produce a disqualification.

Here are a few examples:

Herb emailed some thoughts that prove Herb at least knows a lot more about the subject than some people ever will: “You may be correct that the Masters Committee decided it would be overkill to DQ Tiger after making an incorrect initial decision, but I would argue that that was not within their power under the Rules and Decisions as I read and understand them. (I am a Canadian certified Rules Official and the Rules and Decisions are the same in both countries). Under Stroke and Distance Mr. Ridley is correct that the Rules do not indicate exactly where one has to drop the ball but the wording of the Rule and common knowledge is that the player must drop at the spot from “where the previous stroke was played” – Rule 20-5. Tiger dropped about 2 club lengths behind that spot and hence played from a wrong place, which invokes Rule 20-7 which provides a two stroke penalty for such occurrence in stroke play. The Rule goes on and provides that if the player, in playing from a wrong place has committed a serious breach (defined as gaining a significant advantage (Note 1 to Rule 20-7) the error must be corrected before the player hits a shot at the next teeing ground. Failure to do so results in the player being DQ’d. In his press conferences after the round Tiger was quite clear and forthright in stating that he dropped where he did to assist in making the shot he intended. (Paraphrase is mine) For the Masters Committee to decide that such a drop would not be a significant advantage for players of this level of ability would be mind boggling.

Uh, wow, Herb.

John of Palm Desert (I’m not handing out people’s last names here) was a little more blunt: “What if boils down to is that if there had been no phone call and Tiger said the same thing, and a penalty imposed, he would have to have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. If the rules committee had done their job correctly, there would be no discussion. They failed, and in doing so, they have given the Masters, and golf in general, a black eye.”

John, more than a few people shared that opinion early, and they still raise an eyebrow over the was the Masters handled the situation even if the didn’t now the Rule 33-7 amendment at the time of the incident.

Todd, a former touring caddie, admits to being old school in his email:  ” I agree that if tiger was confronted by the committee prior to turning in is score card of the possible infraction, this might not be a conversation! But his admission “after the fact” of his infraction, which involves a 2 shot penalty, after his scorecard has been turned in and recorded, should lead to a disqualification. But I guess this new rule 33-7 protects such things happening in this day in age no matter what I think.”

Ted was less than pleased with the reaction of some of the experts on Golf Channel on Saturday morning: “Who would believe that golf would have a bunch of Monday Morning Quarterbacks? These supposed experts watched Tiger live do his illegal drop and didn’t say crap, Then they want him to disqualify himself before they knew the facts. Only one person to my knowledge out of 7 million viewers reported the violation . Because of new age HD, the Masters & Tiger played by the new rules. The irony is most of these people wouldn’t have jobs if it wasn’t for Tiger & HD. TB PS I’m SO happy Adam won!”

A lot of people were happy that the penalty didn’t have a direct bearing on the outcome, and a lot of people are happy Adam Scott won.

Brian of Palm Desert wades in with this: “The PGA and the USGA, along with the Masters, all ruined golf when they allowed a TV viewer to call in to dicuss anything that happens on the golf course. Point one: Did anyone see D. A. Points make an illegal drop on 15? No, because D.A. Points wasn’t on TV. He wasn’t the story. So if I play well then I have to worry about being on TV and Joe Shmuck at home calling a penalty on me?

Personally, I think letting some guy in his underwear and a torn t-shirt and a beer in his hand in Cedars Rapids make ruling in a golf tournament a thousand miles away makes no sense at all.

Ted of Palm Desert (a different Ted than a few comments ago) adds this: “The news media keep promoting the obvious lie that a random TV viewer called Masters officials to complain about Tiger Woods drop location on the 15th hole. Virtually anyone would find it hard to believe that a random person would have access to the phone numbers of the officials, let alone be allowed to talk with them during the tournament. Clearly, the person who complained was an insider, another pro player most likely, rather that someone from the general viewing public. Even more likely, there wasn’t even a phone call, but rather someone had a face to face meeting with the officials, further indicating that it was an insider.

The problem with that, Ted, is that the random caller to a golf tournament has happened so often now that we have to accept that these people do exist out there and they do have a way somehow to get to CBS or the tournament organizers or the PGA Tour. Personally, again, I think it;s silly that golf allows this to happen. And it has happened too often.

Anyway, keep those emails and phone calls coming.


What happened with local players while you watched the Masters

Three desert golfers played some pretty good golf over the weekend, not that you likely noticed. That’s because you were watching the Masters like everyone else in the golf world.

So here’s a recap:

Palm Desert's Byron Smith (Crystal Chatham.The Desert Sun)

–Palm Desert’s Byron Smith had his strongest week yet on the Tour in the WNE Classic in Midland, Texas. Smith played his way into contention with a 64 Saturday, then shot 70 on Sunday to finish second in the tournament. The finish moved Smith from 47th to ninth on the tour’s money list with just over $85,000 in five starts. That’s important because the top 75 players on the money list with join the players from 126 to 200 on the PGA Tour’s money list in the new series of events to determine PGA Tour cards for 2014. My guess is Smith has already assured himself of a top-75 spot for the year.

–Jesse Schutte of Indio, who reached the finals of the now-defunct PGA Tour qualifying process two years ago, managed a tie for 33rd in the PGA Tour Canada’s qualifying event in Beaumont last weekend. That give Schutte non-exemption conditional status on the PGA Tour Canada, formerly the Canadian Tour. Maybe that’s not as good as exempt status, but it might get him some starts in some tournaments, and that’s never a bad thing.

–Jiyoon Jang, a freshman at Palm Desert  High School, followed up a win at the SCPGA Tour win in Industry Hills with a second-place finish in the American Junior Golf Association event at Oak Valley in Beaumont on Sunday. Jang shot rounds of 73 and 77 to finish three shots behind winner Meridith Hirsch of Fremont. That AJGA will be in the desert at the end of June at Mission Hills Country Club.


Masters Day 4: Finally it was Adam Scott’s time

If you never believed in curses, you had to still think something strange was happening to Greg Norman at the Masters. Time and time again something deflected Norman from winning the tournament, whether it be a 46-year-old man shooting 32 on the back nine or an Augusta native holing a chip that by all right had no business going in or Norman’s own collapse from a six-shot lead in the final round.

Norman never won the Masters despite five top-five finishes from 1981 to 1989. And it was starting to look at little bit Sunday like fellow Australian Adam Scott was heading down the same road as Norman. Three top-10 finishes at Augusta National, including two in the last two years, combined with a painful second-place finish in the British Open last year to make it look like Scott was another closer-but-no-cigar player in majors. And when Angel Cabrera forced a playoffs Sunday, it was likley too much to bear for Scott’s fans.

But Scott doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. Two huge putts (yes, with the long putter) changed everything for Scott. A long putt on the final hole or regulation was follwed by a shorter but equaly important putt on the second playoff hole. And with those two putts, there will be no more questions about Scott or his drive or determination or his heart. He is a major champion, and all of Australia — and maybe particularly Greg Norman — can be proud.