Rubenstein: Nothing beats being out on the range
Published on Thursday, May. 09, 2013 12:01PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 02:31PM EST
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. – I’m at the Honda Classic, and I had a 10:15 appointment with Kevin Foley, whose brother Sean coaches Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, and others. Kevin is a filmmaker. His Toronto-based production company Project10 , is partnering with the International Management Group, which represents Mike Weir, on a film called Four Days in April. The film will take a close look at Weir’s memorable win in the 2003 Masters, as the 10th anniversary of his singular accomplishment approaches. The PGA Tour is providing what Kevin called “unprecedented access,” inside the ropes access, that is. Kevin said that Global and TSN will air the film in Canada.
“It will be on Global, likely leading into the live show on Sunday, and on TSN Wednesday and Thursday [of Masters week],” he told me. Kevin stressed that the air times weren’t yet firm. He and his crew interviewed Weir at his home near Salt Lake recently. “Mike was great,” Kevin said. The crew was also at the Riviera Country Club for the Northern Trust Open two weeks ago. Weir won the 2003 and 2004 Nissan Opens (now the Northern Trust) there. They’ve interviewed Wayne Gretzky, Fred Couples, David Hearn, among others, as they collect stories about what Weir’s victory meant and what people remember. Foley is scheduled to interview three-time major champion Nick Price this week; Price has always thought highly of Weir, even long before he started winning on tour. He’s also hoping to interview Jack Nicklaus about Weir on Thursday.
I was with Kevin and his crew for about 45 minutes for an interview that was conducted near The Bear Trap, the series of concluding holes here at PGA National’s Champion course. It was good fun and I hope I provided some insights. Kevin had a marked-up copy of my book Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters, with him, so I knew he’d done his homework.
Unfortunately, Kevin won’t be able to interview Weir at the Augusta National Golf Club. He’d hoped he and the crew could walk with and film Weir when he plays Augusta National on March 11th, a few weeks before the Masters. It looked good for a while. The plan was to follow Weir as he talked through the key 13th, 15th, and 18th holes, and then the 10th hole where he won the sudden-death playoff against Len Mattiace. “Defining moments,” Kevin said of these holes. That they were.
The Augusta National Golf Club considered the request to film Weir on March 11th, but ultimately decided against allowing Foley to do so. Foley said the club asked its members about allowing the access. The answer in the end was no. Augusta National didn’t want to set a precedent.
But Four Days in April will include CBS footage from Weir’s win. Four minutes will cost $40,000. Foley said the film, which was “technically” supposed to be 30 minutes long, would run for an hour. That means another four minutes, so the eight minutes will cost $80,000.
“This is Mike’s story,” Kevin said. “We’re really excited about this.” He’s working hard, and he and his crew are into it. That’s for sure.
There’s nothing like being out on the range. That’s where I’ve been spending most of my time Tuesday. I guess I’m just home on the range, where golfers, even the best pros in the world, try to find or hone their games.
Weir was out there when I arrived around 10. It’s just after 1 PM now and he’s still there, working with his swing coach Grant Waite. Somebody’s been filming every sixth swing or so. Waite and Weir then examine the images, and go back to work. Weir spent eight hours on Monday with Waite at the nearby Old Palm Golf Club. If he’s not the hardest working man in the golf biz now, I don’t know who is.
At one end of the range I saw Bob Toski working with Ken Duke. Toski is a mere 86 years old. He won five PGA Tour events, including four in 1954 when he was the tour’s leading money winner. Toski has been one of the great teachers for years. He basically saved Duke’s career, so that the 43-year-old who won twice on the Canadian Tour has been able to make a more than decent living at the game. He won $1,500,000 last year. Duke was working in a stiff wind and mentioned that he needed to hold off his swing to hit a penetrating shot. Toski said that was fine, and that there was also another way. “You could just ride the wind,” he said. Use the wind, that is. Don’t fight it. Toski was standing there in the heat and he even hit some shots every so often. Good for him.
David Hearn was working on the range with his swing coach Ralph Bauer, who came down from his home in the Brantford, Ont. area. Bauer is staying with Hearn and his family at their home in Delray Beach. We got to chatting about the vexing anchoring issue. Rory McIlroy had said in his morning interview that while the PGA Tour has come out against the USGA’s and R&A’s proposed ban on a player anchoring the putter, he expects the European Tour to go the other way. Here comes chaos. I asked Hearn what he would do if he were playing the U.S. Open, which the USGA runs. If the USGA goes ahead and does ban anchoring, the rule would come into effect in 2016. Let’s say the PGA Tour creates a condition of play allowing its members to anchor in its tournaments. Would Hearn go to a short putter a month before the U.S. Open, so that he could prepare for a tournament where anchoring wouldn’t be allowed? He could see that he would have to, if he were to prepare properly for the major. We started to joke around – hey, this was range talk. I suggested that maybe a compromise could be reached whereby a player could anchor for nine holes and then go short for nine holes. Hearn, by the way, played in an event Monday at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter. Jack Nicklaus, the course designer, hosted the event. It raised money for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was there. Hearn asked his American caddy Brent Everson if he’d heard of Chretien. Everson hadn’t. Hearn filled him in.
Ah, range banter. It’s been one of my favourite parts of the golf-writing gig for, oh, 35 years.
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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 he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein