Sunday, June 20, 2010


Tolerated sins fall short on Sunday afternoons at the U.S. Open.
Puzzled fans watch their exalted march past with a thud,
wondering why sense makes no sense with the USGA at the

Our trophy fell to McDowell, toasting his countrymen to wee
in the morning.
Joe Dahl

DENNIS MALONE: (+7) (+4) (+8)=(+19) TIE 3rd

JANE NASER: (+3) (+7) (+9)=(+19) TIE 3rd
72-77-73-74-PERRY, K

JOE DAHL: (+6) (+1) (+13) (+13)=+33 EMBARRASSED
79-75-OUT-------------------------MOLINARI, F
75-72-72-79-MOLINARI, E
72-77-73-74-PERRY, K

FRAN KELLY: (E) (+6) (+16) (+13)=+35
72-77-78-79-JOHNSON, ZACK

COTTMAN-MAN: (+1) (+3) (+20) (+10)= +34
73-76-83-79-MARTIN, P
72-75-82-68VAN PELT

GREG MARTOCCIO: (-2) (+5) (+23) (+29)=+55
78-83-OUT-----------------------CAMPBELL, M

BILL CARTER: (-1) (+6) (E) (+14)=+19 2nd PLACE!
71-70-66-82-JOHNSON, D
72-77-78-79-JOHNSON, Z

DORIS: (-1) (-2) (+15) (E)=+12 WORLD'S CHAMPION!
72-77-78-79-JOHNSON, ZACK

One for Us

Raw and real meets Mr. Watson, neither presumes a thing. A ton of flesh, no more no less, outlasted hands too damp to pull the trigger. Sixty year old Tom Watson needs a top fifteen finish today for an exemption to next year's U.S. Open, advantage us.
The Journey-of-Hope denies all but the winner except today, ''get 'em Tom, we're with ya all the way!"

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Buggers and beer-unlucky or kind? The cliffs of doom spun wedges and minds, blame and credit to an ocean fog on cut day at the U.S. Open, Pebble Beach style.
Bump-ups, sliders and skippers, lost battles to victorious pin locations that hardly amused the world's best. PGA champion, Y.E. Yang, fell to yesterday's mischief with 49 on the home nine.
Seaside trees, showing losses to past winds, barely moved, advantage Phil. A tournament low 66 rewarded Mickelson with a 4:45 p.m. tee-time, beware.
Joe Dahl

Monday, June 14, 2010


Living on a boat and playing the winter tour mixed poorly, too far from the action and rocking boats made for wobbly legs. Doctor Art produced pictures of a spine gone wrong and suggested a new sport. The Olympic drinking team felt like a fair trade. The advantage: negotiable starting times, no penalty for lateness and a flexible dress code, playing alone is frowned upon but never a deal wrecker and no rulebook. No one complains about slow drinking and few keep score. The gods rested.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Three wins at the Saint Jude Memphis Classic should be remembered, few do. Not tall but firm, he found greens and fairways in regulation; a two-toothed old woman, in a mu-mu dress, pulled out of the gallery would have putted better than he. A voice, damaged from years of smoking, never complained.
Once quoted on his thoughts of the USGA's decision on knee high rough in the U.S. Open, he said, "They don't flood the outfield for the World Series." Outspoken,yes, concernedno, Dave Hill is his name. As an upstart pro, I watched him on the range for years: sliders, draws, high or low, always on command.
Hill played cards with the caddies, one brought him beer on the course, unfortunitly the part I learned the best.


Other than Cott taking a well-dressed man by the throat on the way up the elevator at The Waldorf, the boys enjoyed the night out. An ill-advised comment, from a weekend wannabe, toward Tina eliminated any chance of a complicated good-bye.

Our pro-am team came from the Bronx. Cott said, “They weren’t much to look at but they had some great handicaps.” They resembled convicts in street clothes. The big guy tried to hide a pop-tart complexion, calling attention to the loose skin below his chin. My imagination rallied, knowing he scared street mutts, and some forms of unsolved germs.

His brother landed in our foursome, another blessing. Before seeing his smooth swing and high handicap there were concerns over sibling ego wars, dropped immediately when his first shot left the clubface headed for Long Island.

The brothers told me that our fourth man transformed himself into a nervous wreck with the help of low-end vodka and lower end women. The unknown agencies that run The Cott approved. He smiled.

They rejected my offer to help their various peculiarities on the range after the round. Cott assured me that my invitation went unheard on their sprint to the bar.

The team finished second and we took third individually. The mood justified ignoring the two-hour ride back to the Poconos. True champions find time to tell war stories. The first two crippled them. I said, “That story reminded me of one that happened at Fernwood.”

The big guy never took his eyes off of mine and still flagged down two waitresses. I said, “One day this dig it's and baby type guy waltzes in the pro shop with rings on every finger and a semi wanna be Elvis hairdo. He was loud and he wanted what he wanted.”

The drinks arrived. No one seemed distracted.

“Under tow was his innocent looking girlfriend with center-fold credentials. She had a deep Bronx accent. Cott asked her if she was from Maine. She said, ‘I don't know.’ "

Cott’s laugh disrupted interplanetary communication.

“The guy was a player. He wanted everything, a golf pro's dream. ‘Get my girl some golf shoes, golf bag and a good set of clubs.’ My heart went to where hearts go when the mother load walks in. Now he says, ‘She's gonna need a glove.’ That’s all well and good but with werewolf finger nails, the fitting looked tough until The Cott here cut the fingertips off of all five fingers of a fresh out of the wrapper glove, my man. Then the guy said, ‘We'll need a couple dozen balls, tees and a scorecard.’ So there I am adding as fast as I can and come up with a number like the national debt of Costa Rica. Cott chimes in, ‘The score card’s on us.’ I wanted to kill him.”

My terrible trio and faithful caddy pounded the table just loud enough to get a look from the manager.

“The poor bastard hands me a grand and heads for the door. Two seconds later he makes an about face and says, ‘OH, yeah, we need a cart for eighteen holes. What da ya need pro?’ I said, ‘Twelve bucks.’ Sifting through his money he looked up and said, ‘How much for three holes?’ ”

Friday, June 11, 2010



Some are smart enough to design their own life; some go with the tide.

The illusion of luck stumbled. Arm in arm with a crumbling future, reality once again asked me to step down. Gavel down, request denied.

It was hot. Fumes chased vapors off of Pocono roads. Ripples of hot air wiggled upward just to rub it in. Spit refused to land.

Heat and I were friends. Pretenders used it for an alibi, giving up early on savable rounds. Grinders never quit.

Club pros rarely played practice rounds, too busy with kids or a demanding female. The dreaded cold six-pack or a live pick-six-ticket at the track tempted single pros.

Morning found me cutting the fairways and the greens to show the difference. The bunkers seemed good enough to skip a day but a Mosaic eye never sleeps.

Around four that afternoon Cott said, "The clubs are in the Charger. Let's go." We drove to Fernwood Resort to check out the course with a reputation for eating egos. Our best finish there was tied for showing-up.

On arrival the place looked empty. By the sixth hole Cott read my mind. "The man who can spin the ball can win here, Mick. Hit 'ol Cott a few of them low two irons."

Some believed that Cott ran on the eye of fait but he knew his stuff, that time simplistic in design but sound. His freedom of thought deserved respect. The Norms flinched when he spoke.

The ground felt as hard as algebra. Our strategy would work unless it rained.

Spending a few bucks at the host club was just good business, nothing more J.V. (junior varsity) than accepting the hospitality of the club and spending the jingle down the street. We went in. The view in the bar overlooked a shaded creek, sparking memories of jumping in without worrying about what others would think. The sound of the rippling water changed bad moods. The place smelled fresh. No one was there.

That all-important third draft beer arrived just in time. We had just about worn out the little bar maid when a curly haired gentleman strolled in with an economic grin and a semi-automatic personality. People with employee dog tags moved faster.

Never knowing who’s who, we found little downside in starting a conversation with a stranger. Positive connections were fun. Cott needed to be talked down from killing the blockheads. I said, "Did ya play today?"

Donating a stingy turn of his head, he said in borrowed laugh, "Ha, play, ha, not today. What’d you think of the course?"

Internal wars began between good and evil. Say something positive, fought with …did the guy cutting down the trees die?

An awkward delay needed words. My arbitrator settled for, "It's a tough year to grow turf. I'm Mickey Knight from Mo-Nom-O-Nock, how about a beer?"

He waved off the offer with a shake of his head and no eye contact. “I'm Peter."

Cott ordered three anyhow.

The conversation lacked direction before the curly headed one persisted. “Truthfully, did you like the course?"

"Great."(I should have quit there.) “Was the designer in a bad mood when he built the last three holes?”

Peter gave me a non-answer stare.

I said, “They’re brutal. Back to back to back as finishing holes makes it tough. It’ll take good nerves to win here.”

Our pleasantries finished with a bone-braking handshake. Peter left without paying. I looked around, no Cott. Since he rarely used the head, I knew we were leaving.

Four miles down the road Cott started acting up. He locked two hands around his throat, hung his tongue out and made panting sounds. No explanation needed, he had the thirsties.

Just then he startled me. "TURN HERE."

Doing sixty-five it took talent. On route #209, an old gray building made of shingles, lay injured on the left side of the road. A turn-slide dumped us in the cobbled stone dust bowel known as THE STUMBLE INN.

Cott had changed into plaid pants and a canary yellow golf shirt after the round. Bad idea, he didn't care.

Native studies 101, considered outsiders the enemy. They believed interlopers stole the good job, meaning the applicant could count to eleven. Marrying family members since Nero quite explained it.

The good ol' boys wore jeans, scotch plaid shirts, suspenders, and work boots. We hardly fit. In a tone that needed a whisper, Cott asked me, "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS JOINT?"

My kaki pants and white shirt kept them from killing us. It helped when I asked the toothless grandmother behind the bar, "Young lady, can ya get the house one on me?" Involuntary auras circled the room. Condemning thoughts turned exalted.

The jukebox banged. The patrons shuffled. They spun around the floor in some thigh-slapping rendition of an old Indian ceremony. Suddenly the top half of the door to the kitchen opened just behind the bar. The door fit the d├ęcor, blending with the cobwebs and antique tools hanging on the walls. An old coot with a mangy gray beard yelled out. “ARE YOU READY?"

The faithful yelled back. ''WE BE READY."


"WE..." The lower door kicked open with a thud. Everyone rushed the door. We looked at each other expecting a Candid Camera sneak attack.

A small pig, greased with a years worth of K-Y jelly for newly-weds, ran out squealing like a trailing politician. People dove over each other to catch the little guy. The temptation to leave surrendered to an auditioning beer. We stayed.

I could hear the pig examining his plight. The chasers appeared to be from our planet, none of the Pocono bourgeois, purely coincidental. Each thought prompted the next. Does the pig know he’s naked? That he needs a hat? Too busy to laugh, I focused on the fairness of the fight, a little pig versus a band of bar rats who grew up studying: mithmatic, cousin humpin’, trappin’ squirrels and jammin’ animal waste in transmissions before traded-in time, a tough lot, but trickable.

Through twisted arms, some flabby, some for bending steel, they bounced off of each other on unscrubed floors reaching in vain with fingers that looked like thorns to the frightened little rascal. Their knees squeaked like dock lines in a storm. The chasers were not pacing themselves. As they tired, it became easier to define them. Most showed leathered necks with criss-crossed lines from decades in the sun. A woman in a nurse’s outfit, far from delicate, accentuated a hump on her back. No doubt she took body parts home from the hospital to feed her dog.

The pig began looking more confident, realizing he had the superior mind, he maneuvered back and forth inspecting his flank, me, hoping he had checked his horoscope.

An older man, accelerating his own demise, sat down on the floor, allowing the others to drop dead first. He smelled of shrimp, his hair rustled, black with white, resembled electrical wire. No doubt the tooth fairy possessed his mind.

The odds were narrowing in the pigs favor when the wind blew the front door open. Imagining his death as route #209 bacon stopped me. I needed to settle down. It didn’t work. The pig required management to make for fairer fights, a chance to take a bar rat home if victorious.

Encouraged but breathless, the warrior pig slowed. The magnitude of his courage inspired me. A woman the size of Aunt Jemima cornered the little guy after the other patrons passed out.

Cott said, "Good joint. No one will ever believe us."

W/C 1267



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Thursday, June 10, 2010



Social prejudges never existed in Cott’s world. He regarded everyone as a snail eating low-life until proven wrong. He believed in capital punishment and wanted executions to take place during grade school recess and televised. On the lighter side, he showed a soft spot for personality disorders and reformed criminals. This, the mind that held mine together, his with a dead bolt, mine looking for the light. He accepted malfunction after malfunction, cheering me on, lifting damaged hope up and down the coast, year after year. I taught him what he knew: some good, some unyielding, and outcomes always deserved. Thank the patron saint of the truly dangerous.

It was amusing to watch him maneuver through life: hustling bets, draining the life out of the tabloid wannabees and chasing older women. Nothing better than seeing him make pro-ams fun for those wanting to rub shoulders with the limelight, just for a day.

Relationships with caddies were crucial. Trusting their every move took the pressure off. Accepting the responsible for their livelihood heaped it all back on. Cott making big tips during pro-ams helped reduce the load.

“WHAT’S ARNIE REALLY LIKE?” That’s the main question pro-am players asked Cott. We needed a few Masters wins before they’d ask about me. Egos wilt watching fans straining to see your name on the bag, usually below the name of whatever vodka refinery that had extended my career.

It became an extra long day, even for a pro-am. Time took on the attitude of the last rationed martini, waiting for tomorrow.

A monstrosity of a man paid the $400 entry fee, knowing he would get his moneys worth. From the moment of introduction until Cott took him to drop off his clubs, the man asked golf questions. Two or three made sense, the rest came from a secret surveillance bunker in his head.

He called himself Bob. He stood tall and thin. Bob wore the too-busy-to-eat look poorly. His complexion resembled a windshield after a long ride through the Everglades during Love Bug season. His strut hinted of John Wayne.

Bob wanted to know about the proper thought process for hitting a long iron with a No-See-‘Em in his ear.

I asked, “What time of year?”

“Mostly summer.”

I said, “I’ll check my notes and get back ta ya.”

After the round we went to the range to weed out twenty years of bad lessons. It took six minutes for him to explain what he thought about standing over a basic shot. He seemed to think he was onto something when he shared “the benefits of an exaggerated ass-angle on side hill lies.”

I could feel the fungus in my socks gaining confidence but somehow we survived. Bob’s final words, “I’ve always been a big fan of yours MEL. Keep it up.”

The parasites in Cott’s pants acted up, waiting on me to finish helping Bob with his slap shot, ranked way down on Cott’s happy list. Bob, unknowingly, had flapped the unflappable. They headed to the adventures of the parking lot.

All of the zippers on Bob’s bag blew open right before the pilgrims landed. Bob kept enough golf balls jammed in there to open a driving range. To help aggravate Cott, the no-good forgot where he’d parked.

The mood justified Cott’s conviction process. Bob qualified for a low-end spell but Cott recanted.

Still greasing the tip chute, “What kind of heap are we lookin’ for here, BOB?”

“Ah, it’s a classic, a 1955 Buick.”

“Ahhhhhh-ha, one of those beauties with the three holes in the side. Are they for storage?”

Bob’s expression could drag down motivational speakers. Cott, not worried over his ill-timed comment said, “What color is it?”



They walked and walked. Finally, Cott spotted it under a tree at the far end of the lot. “THERE IT IS!”

They shuffled to the car in a communication dead zone. It sat covered in bird warnings. Cott laughed out loud. Bob’s attitude hit a trip wire. “Those fuckin’ birds.” Bob’s huff bent the palm trees.

Cott said, “They did it on purpose.”

Bob made a deflated nod. Cott set the bag down, watching Bob’s brain sift through locked doors with no idea where he’d put his keys.

The search went on for five minutes. Balls and broken tees fell out of every pocket. The nitwit acted as if he’d just been released from Mother-in-Law duty when he found them under an old ham sandwich.

The trunk popped open. Cott jumped back. “BOB, how the hell am I gonna get this bag in there?”

“Let me move a few things for you, son.”

Cott said, “Mickey, I’ve seen a lot. This was really sump-thin’. The guy stuck his head in the trunk. He’d stuffed index cards with twenty years of his swing thoughts in a shoebox. The bas-ted said, ‘There’s a lot of value in there.’ There was one of those HOLD YOUR HEAD STILL machines with the helmet and all the gadgets. He showed me West-Coast-Wedge-School catalogues. Bob was movin’ all of this shit around when I asked him if we should put the bag in the back seat. The guy said, ‘Na, it’s cluttered with useless golf stuff.’ ”

Listening to Cott’s energy accented his dedication to my cause, silently hoping to look the list of critics in the eye one day, the ones who said I couldn’t.

Then Cott said, “The guy wrote an essay on ‘Nine holes I played with my eyes shut.’ ”

“Come-on Cott. You’re makin’ this up.”

“Stay with me Mick. He showed me an eight-degree driver on a seven-iron shaft. He said it worked better south of the equator. There were four sets of Tommy Armour irons, a golf bag full of utility clubs, four back issues of Golf Digest, a dozen box of medium cadet Power Gloves, a cooler full of x-outs, two putter heads from ‘when he could still putt,’ two broken umbrellas, a case of Old Milwaukee empties, a fifth of Jack and six football tickets. The shit-head had a range finder from the fifties, a bottle of Viagra and some old sun screen.”

“Cott, did ya see anything unusual in there?”

“Yeah, he had a bucket full of divots in sandwich bags, labeled with: what course, the date and how the shot affected all of his bets.”

I was making unreasonable promises to the journal-gods in exchange for a few memory cells to kick in when Cott said, “Oh yeah, he had a box of $20 bills. He gave me five of ‘em. Great guy, a little eccentric.”

W/C 1104




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Monday, June 7, 2010


In the streets of Philadelphia, he’d get a beating for showing up in an Orange County lock-up suite. Rickie Fowler slipped today, once getting dressed and twice on the par three #12, but he never rattled. Nebbish lies, that scare the rest, never bothered the man in orange; he’ll be back.

Only dogs can hear Phil’s frequency. Strengthened winds and a pushed drive on the back nine left Phil Mickelson on a service road; he played it. The ball flew over the announcer’s head and forced the TV crew to scramble for an angle. A mistimed seven ruined his run for the top, but he’s ready for the U.S. Open.

Winner of thirteen PGA events, Mark Calcavecchia retired from the tour today. Always ready for a beer, a brats or a burger, Calc shook off a triple at the last, now headed to play with his friends on the Senior Tour.

The sky looked higher for Justin Rose. After fourteen holes, he’d taken but eighteen putts, a tall order indeed. Six birdies without a stumble separated him from the rest. Tournament host, Jack Nicholas, rose from a Wal-mart beach chair to welcome the Brit to the winners circle.

For you weekend blasters, be freed, your belief that GOLF CAN’T BE TRUSTED turned true. Last weeks winner, Zack Johnson, fashioned a tie for forty-seventh. Walk tall, think taller, your day is near.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

...and he knows it.

…and he knows it!

Ricky Barnes is good and he knows. Leading after three rounds in last year’s U.S. Open barely raised his marquee value.

One look at him tells all: he strides with confidence, takes you eye to eye and he never looks at the changing numbers in crowded elevators, bet it. Saturday’s 62, eight birdies and an eagle closed the gap between the ie spelling of the leader Rickie Fowler.

Some comments are irreversible. Once upon a time, when all was well in Rory Sabbatini’s head, he made mention that the Tiger was beatable. After three rounds they are tied at 6 under. A savvy committee would pair them.

Phil Mickelson’s putting stroke is perfect; reading the greens is the problem. His caddy, Bones, reads the line from where he’d stand over Phil’s ball if putting. Mr. Bones is right handed and reads greens with his feet. Let’s watch today, is Phil ready for the U.S. Open?

Saturday, June 5, 2010



Fear or greed, sometimes both, leads us to temptation. Major championships change lives. A list of past winners missing the cut before this year’s U.S. Open raises questions. Cabrera, Els, and Glover, just to stir a thought, Weekly, Weir and Watney trip sirens for the rest. Vijay’s where-abouts needs a look, or are we looking for non-existent trouble, an opening 71-72 kept him from obituaries.

Years of chasing the dream, from farther away than these, makes me doubt an early retreat from the prize money offered at Muirfield Village in Ohio.

Quick draw Fowler leads the pack, worried of nothing: time, money or image. His antidote to slow play is a lesson to the rest.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Joe Dahl

There he stands; alone in thought, hidden in fear, confident all systems read go; they’d better be, it's game time.

Understand, this isn't just about sports or jocks in general, it's about you. Yes you: the wife or husband, the dead or soon to be; you the workers and leaches, you the fan yelling at the tube throwing bricks of criticism at will.

The TV shows the shiny suits, the cheering fans and the zillion dollar pay. Please be me, listen please, be open to what I say.

We never see the years nor pain or wars with parents standing in mud, mending hearts of disappointment last. We are blind to discouragements along the way: lonely nights, insecurities, sprains and aches and broken bones to name a few, practices in the dark, the hitch-hike home, the wake up calls in towns unknown, to catch a dream, to take a chance, not any different than your own.

So there they stand: in the ring or on the green, the mound, the ice or field that you see. Warriors they are, no matter their skill, they stand before you to be enjoyed not judged.

Please remember the biggest bricks are thrown by those who’ve never been. Enjoy your team, encourage those you see, win or lose, but most of all be a star yourself, be thankful for the fun.



To boo from afar is a sign, a sign to those who do, that you are perfect, without flaw with what you do. No need to worry, we won't boo.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010



Joe Dahl

The mind is a fragile thing. Golfers know.

Intention meets reality: disciplined practice, play and putting vs. job, kids and complaining spouses, none aware of our bruised egos, bent self esteem and warming bomb-grade tempers.

The Kingdom of Golf waited for Bryce Molder. One of four collegiate players named to the first team All-American list four consecutive years, Molder left Georgia Tech to take his throne. But wait, after a third place finish in his first tour event his train left the tracks: tempting tips from golf’s muckety-mucks, well intended sidekicks and a dash of self doubt blended for all but a trip to the land of BA-BA-SHU.

Nationwide Tours are not for kings, qualifying schools and No-Name Opens sour the mind. T.V.’s best critics find no flaws in Molder’s swing. Recent strong showings should set him free but eyes never lie, he doesn’t believe. Fellow suffers and readers of The Other Side of the Divot understand Bryce Molder, let yourself go, we’re with you.