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Mitch Juricich - Off the Hosel

What Did You Expect?

Posted by Mitch Juricich

Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 9:38 AM

If I was challenged, as a native San Franciscan (19th & Noe), to pick one word that best describes my home city I would probably consider; beautiful, charming, alluring or even mystical. In the end I think the word would be tolerant.

You see, our little corner of the marble can put up with just about anything. We are culturally diverse and politically scattered. Even though we have mild summers and winters and no big bugs flying around, we also know that the very ground we trod will rock and roll once in a while, and we have no problem with that. We accept it. And as the #1 tourist city in the world, heck, we really don’t mind if you do wear a flower in your hair when you visit. We put up with just about anything

But this past week the word I would choose would have to be, ‘perfect’. Humbly I submit that my fair City is pretty damn good most of the time, but this week with the shroud of the US Open, it was off the charts.

The weather was perfect. The course set-up was perfect. The greens were perfect. The blimp shots (oh the blimp shots!) were straight from heaven. And the burgers on a hot dog bun….please.

But perhaps above all else, The Olympic Club was dead solid perfect. And why wouldn’t it be?

The Olympic Club is unlike any private club I have ever encountered, largely, in my opinion, because their membership shares the very diversity of the city in which it resides. My insurance agent is a member and so is the guy who painted my house The guy who did some electrical work for me belongs there as well as the guy who performed knee replacement on me. The Olympic Club Foundation has raised millions of dollars over the years for local youth sports, largely targeted at inner city and underprivileged areas. This is a great club that gives back and does great things, including putting on a US Open for all of us to enjoy while their members are shut out of playing their own course. Even the media chairman wasn’t half bad.

Yeah, this week was perfect; perfect city, club, course conditions, weather, even the winner. Webb Simpson fits right in with the other winners at Olympic since he wasn’t the guy who was supposed to win, was he? 

“Bird Man” notwithstanding (only in San Francisco -but he was kind of cute, by the way) the whole thing was Matt Cain-like, wasn’t it? Yeah, flawed and goofy as we may seem to some, we can even handle perfection....

A 64 at Augusta

Posted by Mitch Juricich

Friday, April 6, 2012 at 2:55 PM

 Age has always been just a number to me and it has never been an influence on how I felt or acted, until recently.

I guess most people see some sort of significance in certain “numbers”.  In my younger days I sincerely can’t recall any reveling when I became a teenager, or when I turned 18.  Turning 21 meant I could vote and I remember that being kind of cool.  But I had no horrific feeling when I hit the “Big 3-0”, nor did I notice that my life suddenly began when I hit 40.  I remember someone saying, “Well, you’re half dead now that you turned 50.”  At the time, the life expectancy for a male was 76 so I figured I was already 12 years past the half way point.

It’s probably at this point you’re wondering what this has to do with golf.  Well, it involves the Masters.

In years past the honorary first tee shots were hit by the likes of Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson, all legendary players of the God-given game.  Regardless of my feelings for these great players, they were from a different era.  They always seemed old to me. 

A few years ago the honorary tee shot privilege fell to Arnold Palmer, and later he was joined in the ceremony by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Watching three of my child hood heroes in that role suddenly took on a whole new meaning There was a time when Palmer and Nicklaus alternated winning the Masters, and Player became the first foreign born winner.  They were “The Big Three”.  Now they are past their prime.  They don’t play much anymore.  They have taken over the role of Snead, Sarazen and Nelson, and watching The King, The Golden Bear and The Black Knight hit the opening shots at Augusta has had an impact.

Suddenly, my posture seems to be a few degrees forward and my back is a bit sore.  I reflect on the fact that my barber has had to pay more attention to the hair growing out of my ears.  And speaking of hair, I start to wonder where most of it went?  And come to think of it, I now pull my car out of the garage using mirrors because turning around is absolutely out of the question.  I realize that when I fill out a questionnaire or an application I now have to check the very last box under the age category.  I wonder how many invitations I’ve received to join AARP?

My age is still 8 under par at Augusta and I have a ton of memories of the tournament, memories that do make me feel my age for Masters Week.  Monday I’ll be fine, if it doesn’t rain.

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Inside the Ropes

Posted by Mitch Juricich

Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 2:31 PM

As the Forty-Niners and Giants battled during a five-hole “Whiskey Run” shoot-out for charity, there were obviously a few highlights and anecdotes.   

*Emcee Brian Murphy, from the KNBR morning show, almost forgot to introduce his boyhood hero, Will Clark!  Once introduced and ready to tee off, Clark, who was teed off by the gaffe, said (during mid swing) “Y’all don’t have to be quiet for me,” as he smacked one about 275, right down the middle.

*Clark’s partner, Giants pitcher Matt Cain, bombed a tee shot on the first hole over the corner of the fairway that settled pin high near a greenside bunker.  From there, in the alternate shot format, Clark hit a beauty of a flop shot onto the green, ultimately leading the Giants winning the opening hole.

*After Cain reached the par 5 second hole with a 203 yard, 6 iron that sounded like a gunshot, Forty-Niner coach, Jim Harbaugh, went over feel Cain’s shoulder and biceps.  Was he thinking ‘strong safety’? 

*If it hasn’t been obvious to the reader thus far, Cain was the star of the shoot-out.  To say his drives are prodigious is to say Jennifer Lopez is kinda cute.  His tee shot on the par 4, third hole was about 40 yards from the green.  His launch on the par 5, 18th was rumored to have scrambled the bombers at NORAD!  It flew directly and over the two trees in the middle of the fairway then turned slightly left to end up less than 200 yards from the green!  Distance estimates ranged from 330-340 yards.  In almost 50 years of watching the AT&T this observer has never seen anyone hit tee shots like Cain.

*Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow continue to be rock stars with the fans.  Kuipe, even though on the DL, agreed to caddy for Kruk this year.  That employment opportunity lasted and estimated 83 yards before Kuipe bailed!  Meanwhile, no one since the great Payne Stewart has been able to rock the plus fours like Kruk.  It’s all he wears when he plays.  He even wore quite a pair to the Golf Writer’s Dinner at Spanish Bay, which had some believing that his room might be missing some curtains.  Kuipe was replaced on the Giant’s team by fellow play by play announcer, Dave Flemming, another fan favorite.  After a couple of days at the Inn at Spanish Bay, golf at Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach, Flemming was off to Spokane, Washington, Logan, Utah and Waco, Texas for basketball broadcasting duties.  Talk about culture shock.

*When the two teams reached the 17th tee, they were held up by a group that jumped ahead a few holes.  No problem though.  It was only Kenny G, Anthony Anderson and George Lopez.  Play away, guys.

*Statement of the obvious: Isn’t it funny how Alex Smith is now worshipped?  Win a few games, get invited to the AT&T.  Partnering with his coach, Smith can also make a golf ball travel farther than I go on picnics, often only mere yards behind Cain.  After his huge tee shot on 18, Harbaugh hit the team’s second shot to 18 which bounced off a corporate tent and back onto the course.  Harbaugh, in the midst of congratulatory “high fives” said, “Keep giving me high fives.  It makes it look like a good shot!”

*With about 2,500 adoring fans soaking up the frivolity, it was ended on the 18th with Niner great, Dwight Clark, sinking a tricky four footer to win after Cain’s five footer hit the back edge and jumped out.  Before Cain’s attempt that would have won the match, Clark was heard to say, “I almost hope he makes it so I don’t have to putt.”  When someone suggested his putt would be just like making “The Catch”, Clark retorted, “That time I knew what the hell I was doing!”

The Niners/Giants Tuesday shootout is the best thing added to this event in the last 25 years.  It is light, fun and a ton of laughs.  More importantly, the fans love it.  Bing would have loved it, too!

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