Baltusrol, Brazil, Britain—And Golf!

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist

Thoughts turn to golf this weekend as the PGA Championship tournament culminates on Sunday with final round action from Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey. But—equally important—Saturday features the lone round of the annual Hogan Open at Waterville Valley, NH.

Paul Hogan (5th Hogan) and Mary Hogan (9th Hogan) are prime movers behind the annual Hogan Open.
Paul Hogan (5th Hogan) and Mary Hogan (9th Hogan) are prime movers behind the annual Hogan Open.

The Hogan Open is organized by Paul Hogan, the Director of Athletics at NHTI-Concord. A scholarship fund-raiser, the Hogan Open brings together members of the Hogan clan as well as many other friends. One of each of the nine holes is named after one of each of the nine Hogan kids, progeny of the late Plymouth State professor James Hogan, and his wife Nancy.
While the top scorer at Waterville Valley may not reap the same reward as winning at Baltusrol ($1.8 million), Coach Hogan does a great job with prizes for Hogan Open participants. There’s even an award for “Worst Shot of the Day!”
The Hogan Open is a great way to prep for the final round of the PGA, one of golf’s four major championships, along with the Masters in April, the U.S. Open in June, and the British Open in July. Usually the PGA is played in August, but the Rio de Janeiro Olympics will be the focus of the golf world next month, with the men competing for gold from August 11-14 and the women playing from August 17-20. At least 120 men and women from 41 nations are competing for Olympic gold, as golf returns to the Games after a 112-year hiatus.
A 72-hole individual stroke play tournament will determine the gold, silver, and bronze medalists. While the Ryder Cup also involves international competition, many fans just never warmed up to it. The Olympics are different. I’m pulling for the Americans, of course—those being Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, and Matt Kutcher. Unfortunately, there won’t be any Russian villains competing to root against.
Nothing compares to the drama of a close final round in a major golf tournament. Consider the fabulous finish of the British Open at Royal Troon earlier this month, which saw Phil Mickelson shoot an awesome 65 only to be outdone by Sweden’s Henrik Stenson’s 63. Their “Duel in the Mist” will be long-remembered. The 46-year-old Mickelson would have been the oldest Major winner ever—but it was not to be.
Modern technology makes golf a joy to watch on big, flat screen televisions, highlighted by expert camera work and fabulous graphics. Close-ups on the golfers’ heroic visages as they watch their shots provide priceless poignancy. The drama slowly builds over four days, coming to a crescendo on the final holes. Consider the 18th hole at Troon. Stenson led by two strokes and tried to play it safe off the final tee by hitting a three-wood instead of a driver. But with adrenalin coursing through his veins, the Swede hit his tee-shoot 310 yards—one yard short of a bunker that might have changed everything.
Those of us who try to play golf can relate to golfers more than to other athletes. Most of us will never race a stock car, kick a 50-yard field goal, or hit a baseball off a left field wall. But many of us DO know the joy of hitting a great golf drive, then a great follow-up onto a green, and then sinking a long putt for a birdie that Mickelson or Stenson would be proud of.
So check out the final round from Baltusrol on Sunday on CBS-TV Sports. If it’s anywhere near as dramatic as the final round at Troon, you’ll be in for a sports treat—one that will whet your appetite for Olympic golf competition that will hopefully culminate with an American in tears while wearing a gold medal and standing at attention for the Star Spangled Banner. That will be Sunday, August 14, on NBC.
As for Saturday’s Hogan Open, I’m sure it will also be another classic. I just hope I don’t win the award for “Worst Shot of the Day!”

Sports Quiz
What was the lowest average ever to win a Major League batting title? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on July 28 include New York Knick great Bill Bradley (1943) and MLB pitching sensation Vida Blue (1949).

Sportsquote
“Boston now knows how Britain felt when it lost India.”—Boston Globe sportswriter Ed Linn, on Ted Williams announcing his 1960 retirement from the Red Sox.

Sportsquiz Answer
Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox won the 1968 American League batting title with an average of .301.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.