It’s a Cruel, Cruel World

(L-R) Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, 2014 Ryder Cup / Image:

Golf Writer, Keith Cook, looks at the world today through a golf lens.


It’s a cruel, cruel, world. A world in which, we don’t hit it out of the park every time we pitch the next great idea to our boss. A world in which, we don’t win every game we play in. A world, yes, where we’re not the best at everything we do. It sucks, but, that’s life as they say.

However, this week reminds us not everyone lives in that same world with us.

Expectations and energy to win should always be there, but it’s in sport, where these expectations become blurred and the disappointing happens.


If this week confirmed to us anything about golf – it’s that golf is a very individualized game. One where climbing to the heights of success means you – and you alone – must dedicate everything to yourself. Practice, play, improvement, training … even eating right is an individual focus, if you’re going to compete at the highest levels. It’s all good when it’s you, but when it means you have to focus on others – or listen to others – golfers are generally done.

Phil Mickelson confirmed this fact to us once again this week, with his unfortunate comments, which took absolutely all the fun out of losing.

For those who missed it, Phil decided to share his “vision” of what works in an open press conference with Team USA Captains and teammates along side of him. To significantly boil down Mickelson’s remarks to their essentials: “We did it better in 2008,” and,  “I really liked Captain Paul Azinger’s way of putting us in Pods.” – MEANING – “I didn’t like the way we did it in 2014,” and, “I didn’t like Captain Tom Watson’s way of doing things.”

Honesty is a good character trait, but good judgement has to be thrown in there somewhere, too. When his comments were described as, “a pretty brutal destruction of the leadership that’s gone on this week,” by a reporter asking a follow-up question, Mickelson’s response was, “Oh, I’m sorry you’re taking it that way. I’m just talking about what Paul Azinger did to help us play our best.”

You know, one of those apologies, where someone apologizes to you for how you feel . . . and not really about what they said or did. Love those.

Ryder Cup FinalPODS, SMODS, ABCs, 123s

In the context of the open press conference with Captains and Teammates present, I feel Mickelson’s comments were out of line – even if he felt them to be true. To make matters worse, this was the first time Mickelson had shared his “vision” on how to win with Tom Watson, and I guess, felt like the right time to share was at the open press conference – after the Cup was over.

I’ve got some bad news though for Phil Mickelson. Pods, Triangles, Circles, alphabetic, height, lottery draws . . . NONE of it would have mattered in 2014. Take a deep breath, because whether you like to be led, consulted, partnered, or asked, Team USA was no match for Team Europe this year.  Sorry.

In the 2014 Ryder Cup, Team Europe shot -110 under par for the week. Team USA, -78 under. That’s a 32-stroke difference doing quick math. No PODs or any other system/captain/space alien would have made a difference in the butt kicking Team USA was handed. Tough to take, but that’s why Mickelson’s comments were even more destructive – they only made the outcome sting more, and linger longer.


I’ve always considered Phil Mickelson to be a classy golfer. One blurt – more than likely out of character and through frustration, won’t change that completely, but will certainly affect mine – and many other fan’s – impressions. I hope Mickelson will apologize for the timing of the remarks over the next few days – even if he still believes them to be true.

Moving forward, it’s almost a certainty Phil Mickelson will be a President’s Cup or Ryder Cup Captain (or maybe both) down the road. I wonder how he’d feel getting hit with the same bus in the future that he just drove over Tom Watson.


BIO: Keith Cook is a Writer and Contributing Editor for He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Graduate living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer

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Trysting Tree–Sweetheart of a Golf Course

Oregon State University’s, Trysting  Golf Course, is a comfortable, historically romantic venue, steeped in school tradition and alluring play.

A stately poplar tree, planted in the 1880’s near Benton Hall, the oldest building on the campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis, was a romantic meeting place for young students. After a couple of frequent visitors were admonished by the university’s president, the class of 1901 christened it The Trysting Tree.Trysting Tree

From this charming tale one of the highest-rated public golf courses in Oregon derives its name. Trysting Tree Golf Club, a flat, Scottish links-style course cradled in a bend of the broad Willamette River, is the designated home course for Oregon State University’s golf team. It is also a quite popular golf venue for a wide array of local golfers. On the Sunday of our visit my wife and I noted the variety in age and ability of the swingers of golf clubs using the extensive practice facilities. Or waiting for tee times. OSU students and juniors players enjoy discounted green fees at “The Home of the Beavers.”

Trysting Tree, about 90 minutes south of Portland, fits the character of the city of Corvallis (from the Latin cor vallis, meaning “heart of the valley”). It is charming, comfortable, lively – but anchored by a dignified maturity befitting a university town. The golfers following us were easygoing and cordial, local gentlemen who knew the course like the pockets of their golf bags.

Trysting Tree 1-courtesy Oregon State Athletics
courtesy Oregon State Athletics

Like any course, it can be difficult the first time out, but I suspect familiarity breeds lower scores. I scored half a dozen strokes over my handicap, but on the two hardest holes, I was only one over par. Hole #3 earns its designation as the number 1 handicap hole, especially when the flag on the elevated green is tucked behind the bunker on the right. Another elevated green, on the back nine, adds to the difficulty of hole #16, the number 2 handicap hole. I avoided the lake on the right and hit my best approach of the day for a well-earned par. And if water makes you nervous, take a deep breath at the turn. Hole #10 requires a tee shot threaded through trees and over a pond, and there is water down the entire right side all the way to the hole. For all its serenity, Trysting Tree demands focus and mettle.

Water is in play on only four holes, not counting the three along the river (including an unusual back-to-back pair of par 5s). The river view is obscured by thick shrubbery and trees. A fair number of trees adorn the course, many as picturesque as the namesake poplar beloved by those 19th Century sweethearts. Loyal alumni and charmed visitors alike will look forward to reunions at The Trysting Tree.


Practice facilities:
The course is proud of its practice facilities, which consist of a spacious driving range with three target greens, a large putting green, and a separate short-game area between holes #5 and 6, including a two-tiered green and practice bunker.

Green Fees:
Monday – Thursday 18-hole rate is $37 ($20 for nine)
Weekends: $39, $22
Discounted rates on Monday and Tuesday mornings: $28, $17
College student rates: $22, $13
Junior rates (17 and under): $10 on weekends, $5 Monday through Thursday
Carts are $6.50 for nine holes, $13 for eighteen.

RYDER CUP Edition / Weekend Wrap-Up In Golf (28 Sep 2014)

2014 Ryder CupGolf Writer, Keith Cook, provides the Weekend’s Wrap-up of the Winners, Losers, and Other News from the LPGA, PGA, Champions, and European Tours!


GLENEAGLES, Scotland /// Disappointing. I guess it’s all about perspective, but as an American, “disappointing” is the only word to describe the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland. The event had a ton of energy early and looked to be promising throughout, however, the balloon popped for the Americans after trailing 6-10 at the end of Day 2. And, even though we awoke on Day 3 dreaming of another Singles “Miracle” for the Americans, we all knew better.

After the dust settled, Team Europe dominated play and won the 2014 Ryder Cup by a wide margin, beating Team USA by 5-points. Final Score: Europe 16 ½ – USA 11 ½.

Ryder Cup Final

When golf’s analysts move forward and examine the 2014 Ryder Cup, it will be no secret the Americans lost – and the Europeans won – through their performance in Foursomes (Alternate Shot). Here’s why it’s so clear.

Team USA: 5 – 3 in Fourball play

Team USA: 5 ½ – 6 ½ in Singles play

Team USA: 1 – 7 in Foursomes play

Why did we lose so badly in the Afternoon Foursomes? Is it the format itself? Are we just terrible at Alternate Shot? Who knows, but if anyone has that answer, please let Tom Watson and the rest of Team USA know . . . because they obviously have no idea. Foursomes, aside, the Americans really lost based on the performances of their Ryder Cup veterans. Take a look.

In 2014, the Top three ranked Americans (Furyk, Watson, Kuchar) were 2-9-0 in Ryder Cup competition. When your veterans let you down, it makes it tough to pull through and win. However . . . and unexpectedly, a bright spot for the Americans were the rookies. In great performances, America’s rookies (Patrick Reed, Jordan Speith, Jimmy Walker) accounted for almost 40% Team USA’s points and finished the Cup at 6-2-5. That’s right, America’s Rookies carried the day for Team USA. Thank you to our Team USA Rookies for keeping the contest respectable in 2014.

Photo Courtesy:

Johnny Miller, World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, and NBC Golf Analyst, said it best in his post Ryder Cup analysis; “No doubt about it, the young guys have to figure out how to win these things, because the veterans don’t know how.”

Congratulations to Team Europe on their impressive and dominating performance in the 2014 Ryder Cup. See you in 2016, at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota for the 41st Ryder Cup . . . we’ll try to do better.

With the victory, Europe has now won 8 of the last 10 Ryder Cups and has three consecutive victories; 2010, 2012, and now 2014.




John Cook, 2014 Champion / Photo: Associated Press
John Cook, 2014 Nature Valley First Tee Champion        Photo: Associated Press

PEBBLE BEACH, California /// You can’t blame the world of golf for almost forgetting there was a Champions Tour event this week in California. Although on the quieter side of this week’s golf coverage, the Tour’s best came together for this 54-hole event at one of America’s Greatest Courses. In the end, John Cook was able to charge forward for the win; his 10th victory on the Champions Tour.

Cook’s final round, 3-under par/69 came in tough and overcast conditions at Pebble Beach. Cook’s tournament total of -11 under par/204, eclipsed 2nd place finisher, Tom Byrum by one stroke. With the victory, John Cook takes home the first place check of $285,000.



Alfred Dunhill LinksST. ANDREWS, Scotland /// The European Tour takes a one-week break for the 2014 Ryder Cup. The next tournament on tap is just down the road in Scotland at the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, October 2-5, 2014, in St. Andrews, Scotland. The tournament takes place over the period of 4-days and uses a rotation of three of Scotland’s greatest links courses; The Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie, and Kingsbarns. All competitors will play each course once, with the fourth, and final round, played at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Englishman, David Howell, is the defending Champion.




BEIJING, China /// The LPGA takes a one-week break and travels to China for the Reignwood LPGA Classic, October 2-5, 2014, in Beijing. China’s own, Shanshan Feng, is the defending Champion.


Race to the CME GlobeThe Race to the CME Globe is a season-long points competition in which LPGA Members accumulate points in every Official LPGA Tournament. At the end of the season, the winning player will be named the “Race to the CME Globe Champion” and takes home $1 Million Dollars – the largest payout in the history of Women’s golf.

Current Standings:

















NAPA, California /// With the conclusion of the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola in Atlanta, the PGA Tour 2013-2014 season is complete. The PGA Tour 2014-2015 tournament schedule opens Oct 9-12 at the Open in Napa, California. American, Jimmy Walker, is the defending champion.





BIO: Keith Cook is a Writer and Contributing Editor for He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Alumnus living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer

Read more from Keith, Click here