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A day at the 2016 PGA Championship July 30, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Golf, Health, Media, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
4 comments

I spent my Friday with my father Bill at the second round of the PGA Championship, held this year at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. The championship was held two weeks earlier this year because of the Olympics. This is a photo recap of our day. Regular cameras weren’t allowed, so all pictures were taken on my iPhone 6.

A few months ago, I listened to the Audible version of Love That Boy, a book by National Journal senior political columnist Ron Fournier. (I ended up buying the book and then buying a copy for my dad for Father’s Day.) It’s mainly about his relationship with his son Tyler, before and after he was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 12, about five years before I learned I had it. After the diagnosis, Ron began taking Tyler on trips to presidential museums and to meet a few living presidents, whom Ron covered while a reporter. My dad and I have also taken trips since my diagnosis: to golf tournaments, especially major championships. He used to go to golf tournaments with his friends and father, my grandpa Carmen. In particular, he attended the 1986 and 1995 U.S. Open Championships at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, and the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol. Since 2002, when the U.S. Open was first held at the Bethpage Black Course in Bethpage State Park, we have been to six majors and a handful of regular tournaments. The majors we’ve been to, counting the one that’s the subject of this post, are:
2002 U.S. Open, 3rd Round – Bethpage Black Course
2004 U.S. Open, Final Round – Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
2005 PGA Championship, Final Round – Baltusrol Golf Club
2006 U.S. Open, Final Round – Winged Foot Golf Club
2009 U.S. Open, 3rd/Final Round – Bethpage Black Course
2016 PGA Championship, 2nd Round – Baltursol Golf Club

In 2005 and 2009, play was suspended due to thunderstorms (PGA) and darkness (U.S. Open). I watched the rest of those two majors on TV the following day. In 2009, I also went to the course twice before the first round; once with my mother Lisa and once alone. Here’s how that went.

Dad and I didn’t plan on going to this year’s PGA Championship, even though it was in the tri-state area, but earlier this month, my uncle Jim gave us two grounds tickets to the second round. We would be going, after all.

Rain was in the forecast for Thursday night and yesterday, which I thought would mean no trip or a wasted trip. But play was only delayed 45 minutes and the rain subsided shortly before we left Wantagh around 10AM. General parking was about a half hour away from Baltusrol at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, New Jersey. We arrived there a little after noon.

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Shuttles traveled to and from the park and Baltusrol around the clock.

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We got to the grounds just before 1PM.

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The 2019 PGA Championship will be at Bethpage Black:
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We watched Soomin Lee, Joost Luiten, and William McGirt finish their second round starting at 16.

The 16th green:
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The MetLife blimp:
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The 17th green:
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The 18th hole:
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The clubhouse:
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We reached the practice green just in time to see Phil Mickelson leave it and make his way to the 1st tee:
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Phil won the last time we were at Baltusrol in 2005.

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In his second round, he recovered from a triple bogey at the 1st to shot an even par 70, making the cut at +1.

Gregory Bourdy chipping off the green:
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He went on to shoot a 68 after starting at the 10th tee. At -3 for the championship, he was six shots back of Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb (-9) after two rounds.

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Brian Gaffney’s ball adjacent to the 6th fairway:
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Gaffney reached the green and was able to save par, but he shot a 74 (+4) in the first round and 73 (+3) in this second, missing the cut by five shots.

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The 7th fairway:
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The 11th tee and 10th green:
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From there, we watched two groups that started at the 10th:
1) Omar Uresti, Greg Chalmers (who had an autism awareness patch on his bag), Ross Fisher
2) David Muttitt, Smylie Kaufman, Zac Blair

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The view from the grandstand by the 10th tee and 9th green:
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Here, we watched a few groups:
1) J.B. Holmes, Brian Stuard, Hideki Matsuyama
2) Matt Dobyns, Tyrell Hatton, Harris English
3) Ernie Els (whose son is autistic), Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson

We left the grandstand before Jimmy Walker’s group reached the 9th green.

The 13th green:
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The aforementioned Harris English’s ball adjacent to the 13th fairway:
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He did make the cut and was five shots back (-4).

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Walking through Patron Plaza…:
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A misting fan:
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After 4 1/2 hours, our day came to an end:
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Since it was rush hour, the shuttle ride back to Oak Ridge Park took about 40 minutes. From there, Dad and I drove home, listening to the coverage of the rest of the second round on SiriusXM’s PGA Tour Radio. Heading up the coverage was the voice of the New York Giants, who play a half hour away at MetLife Stadium, Bob Papa. We arrived back at the house at about 8:30.

It was a memorable day at the PGA Championship. Thank you, Uncle Jim, for the tickets.

I will update this post after the final round.

7/31, 7:30 PM UPDATE: The rains came yesterday (Saturday) afternoon and suspended play until this (Sunday) morning. Jimmy Walker briefly trailed in the third round this morning, but regained the lead heading into the final round this afternoon. Moments ago, Walker held off defending PGA Champion Jason Day, and his own nerves, to win the 2016 PGA Championship. He won wire-to-wire, leading or tied for the lead after every round. Day showed class by congratulating Walker on the 18th green.

I’m glad to have been part of the tournament as a second round spectator.

7/31, 8:41 PM UPDATE: Post-championship links:
PGA/CBS Sports: Walker’s winning par putt
PGA/CBS Sports: Wanamaker Trophy presentation and interview
Nick Menta, Golf Channel: Walker bests Day by one to win PGA Championship
Kyle Porter & Robby Kalland, CBS Sports: PGA Championship 2016 leaderboard, highlights: Breaking down a wild ending

8/1 UPDATE: More links:
Matt Stypulkoski, The Star-Ledger: Jimmy Walker continues trend of first-time major winners
Steve Politi, The Star-Ledger: Jimmy Walker’s PGA Championship victory is a win for grinders everywhere
Hank Gola, The Star-Ledger: Is it still Jimmy Walker’s day if he had been paired with Jason Day?
Andy Vasquez, The Record: Walker holds off Day for first major
Tara Sullivan, The Record: Walker’s wire-to-wire act was dynamite (a reference to “dynomite!,” the catchphrase of J.J. Evans on Good Times, portrayed by namesake Jimmie Walker)
Michael Bamberger, Golf Magazine: Jimmy Walker Edges Jason Day, Wins 2016 PGA Championship
Art Stricklin, Golf Magazine: Party Awaits Jimmy Walker at His Home Club in Texas

8/2 UPDATE: Even more links:
PGA: Full Sunday Highlights
PGA: Full Tournament Highlights
PGA: Jimmy Walker’s Full PGA Champion Press Conference
PGA: Top 10 Shots of the 2016 PGA Championship (#9 spoiler: I saw John Senden on the practice green after he completed his second round.)

An afternoon at the Fire Island Lighthouse July 16, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in History, Jazz, Military, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, Weather.
7 comments

Two weeks ago, Lori Downing, a co-worker of my mother and sister, invited me to visit the Fire Island Lighthouse. Her father, Bill Laghezza, is among its volunteers. I agreed, not knowing what to expect.

Lori’s original plan for yesterday – a hot and humid day, even by the ocean – was to pick me up at 10:30. That became 11:30. We took the Wantagh Parkway to Ocean Parkway, planning on getting on the Robert Moses Causeway, proceeding to Robert Moses State Park, and walking to the lighthouse. We knew there would be a Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride until 1:00, but we thought it stopped at the State Boat Channel Bridge. It actually ended on the Ocean Parkway, which meant eastbound traffic was diverted back west at the finish line. So, we had to reverse course, taking the Ocean Parkway west, Wantagh Parkway north to Exit W4E, the Southern State Parkway east to Exit 40, then take the Robert Moses Causeway south to the park. By this time, the Soldier Ride was over.

Lori and I parked in Field 5 and walked the path to the Fire Island Lighthouse. I brought my Nikon D5500 and snapped away. Below is our photographic journey. Enjoy.

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The lighthouse’s 15th Annual Benefit Art Show was in its third-to-last day. Here are the exhibits:
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Time to climb to the top:
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It was tougher than using a stairmaster.

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The view from the top deck:
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It was jarring at first being up so high, but I adjusted.

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Lori took my picture:
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Then, Bill joined us and I took a picture of him and Lori:
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Here are a couple of videos I shot while on the top deck while Bill was with us.

“C.I.” is Central Islip.

Time to head back down:
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It was easier going down than it was going up.

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All visitors that climb to the top and come back down get a certificate of accomplishment. Another lighthouse volunteer, Angela, took my picture after filling out my certificate:
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Angela and I had a brief conversation about Earl Klugh and I told her about the show I went to a few nights earlier.

One last piece of business: signing the guest log:
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As a privacy precaution, I blurred out last names, locations, e-mail addresses, and the file location of the log.

I’m so glad I decided to join Lori on her trip to the lighthouse. As I wrote in the guest log, it was worth waiting in traffic to get there. I will never forget the sights, the sounds, or the volunteers I met.

Earl Klugh at the Blue Note July 13, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
4 comments

It took many years, but last night, I finally saw guitarist Earl Klugh (“clue”) perform live. It’s been 40 years since he made his solo debut with a pair of albums, Earl Klugh and Living Inside Your Love. Most of his early albums were released on Blue Note Records, and the show I saw was at the infamous Blue Note jazz club in Greenwich Village. It was my fourth time at the Blue Note, and won’t be the last.

The show I saw was the first of 12 over six nights. As usual, I opted for the 8:00 show over the 10:30 show.

My sister drove to the Wantagh LIRR station at 3:45 for the 4:02 train to Penn Station. As fate would have it, the 3:27 train was running a half hour late. So, I boarded that train a few minutes earlier than the train I planned on taking.

Just before 5:00, I arrived at Penn and proceeded to the 34th Street subway station for the downtown A train to West Fourth Street. Just like my previous trip to Blue Note for Spyro Gyra, I was so early that I was the first in line outside the club. After 5:30, a line began to form behind me. At exactly 6:00, the door opened and I was let in. I chose my center stage table seat and ordered dinner. A father and daughter from Japan sat to my left, which made me wish I spoke enough Japanese to carry a conversation. I was rewarded a half hour later when a man from Ottawa, in town for his daughter’s dance competition, took the seat across from mine. We had a nice, prolonged conversation. It was great.

The show I was about to see was even greater.

Earl Klugh, as he has throughout his 40-year career, played acoustic guitar:
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David Lee was on keyboards:
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Tom Braxton played alto sax (seen below), soprano sax, and flute:
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Al Turner, the Bass Burner, on electric bass:
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…and Ron Otis on drums:
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There were also two special guests, as you’ll see in the set list below:
1. Brazilian Stomp
Originally heard on: Collaboration (with George Benson), 1987

2. Midnight in San Juan
Originally heard on: Midnight in San Juan, 1991

3. Last Song
Originally heard on: The Journey, 1997

4. Across the Sand
Originally heard on: Move, 1994

5. Cabo Frio
Originally heard on: Finger Paintings, 1977

6. Wishful Thinking
Originally heard on: Wishful Thinking, 1984
Special guest: Barry Eastmond, keyboard

7. Vonetta
Originally heard on: Earl Klugh, 1976

8. Living Inside Your Love
Originally heard on: Living Inside Your Love, 1976

9. Dr. Macumba
Originally heard on: Finger Paintings, 1977

10 (Encore). Twinkle
Originally heard on: Crazy for You, 1981
Special guest: Michael Lington, alto sax

Here are various shots of each musician, including the special guests, starting with Earl Klugh:
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David Lee in emcee mode:
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…and at the keys:
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Hearing him on the Kurzweil synthesizer reminded me of Bill Heller, who also uses that model:
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David was quite the character. I loved his antics.

Tom Braxton on alto sax:
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…on soprano sax:
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…and on flute:
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Al Turner:
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Ron Otis:
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Barry Eastmond appeared on “Wishful Thinking,” just as he did on the original in 1984:
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Michael Lington joined the band for the encore, “Twinkle”:
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Wide shots:
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The last note:
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With that, the 8:00 set was complete.

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I complimented Al Turner and Michael Lington as they left the stage, and let Earl know that this was my first time seeing him live. “Really?” Yes, and I hope it isn’t the last time. I spoke to Tom Braxton before the show, but didn’t have a chance to talk to him again afterward.

I got a picture with Al before I left:
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If you’d like to see Earl and the band at Blue Note, you have five more nights to do so. Come on down to the Village and see them play. You won’t be disappointed. I was enthralled. Thank you to Earl, David, Tom, Al, Ron, Barry, and Michael.