The “Art Of” Golf: A look at simple yet artistic phenomena in the game of golf.

Sports, believe it or not, are art forms, and athletes are artists. Golfers are some of the most artful athletes in the world, and the art of golf takes on many forms.

Most clearly, golf course architects are artists. They have a vision for the layout of the course and use the land around them to bring this vision to life. They possess the master craftsmanship to create fairways and greens that challenge the golfer yet reward good shots.

Nature’s art complements golf courses, adding to their beauty. Augusta National in Augusta, Ga. is likely the most naturally beautiful golf course. Stunning magnolias line the course in the springtime. Each hole is named after a different flower, some of which are found on that hole or right on the course.

The actual game of golf is quite artistic, too. It’s always said that it’s not you versus the other golfers; it’s you versus the course. A golfer must play the course to its advantages and avoid hitting the ball in a spot that will make the hole even tougher.

It takes artful skill to play different kinds of golf shots based on the ground you are on. A seemingly flat lie can be deceiving; your golf ball might be resting on a tiny piece of uneven land. It takes precision to make clean contact with the ball anywhere, not only in the fairway.

Sand bunker shots and punch-out shots (where you’re stuck behind some trees and you can’t hit the ball normally) require techniques that take years to learn, let alone perfect.

But no matter how much you think you’ve “perfected” each shot, golf will always surprise you with another bad break.

Perhaps my favorite part of golf, and the most artsy, is the style. Of course, I don’t have enough money to buy the nicest golf clothes. However, as a college golfer, I make do with what I have and, nonetheless, stick by my motto of “look good, play good.”

My favorite tournament day outfit is a black EU golf shirt, black pants, white EU golf hat and white shoes. It’s clean, it’s professional and it makes me feel like I’m on the Tour.

But, looking at professional golfers’ outfits, they know how to combine colors and match shoes and hats to look super spiffy on the golf course. Whether it be plaid or checkered pants, bright orange everything or red and black on Sundays, golfers all have their
signature styles.

Just as a painter has their signature style or era of art, a golfer adheres to their style of play (or style of dress). Golf, although a sport, is artsy and beautiful, especially to those who can appreciate it.

The 2022 Masters at Augusta National: Scottie Scheffler wins the green jacket at the PGA Tour’s biggest event of the year.

The Masters is the PGA Tour’s biggest major tournament of the year, and every spring, invited golfers test themselves against the gorgeous Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Ga.

This year’s Masters champion was Scottie Scheffler, a 25-year-old from Ridgeway, N.J. and an alum of the University of Texas. Scheffler entered the tournament with the number one World Golf ranking and the number one FedEx Cup ranking.

Scheffler was hot coming into the tournament, and he kept this energy throughout the four rounds. He led by five strokes going into the third round, which ended up being a chilly day in Augusta, Ga. Scheffler powered through Saturday, along with Cam Smith, Shane Lowry and Charl Schwartzel, to gain a secure spot on the leaderboard going into Sunday.

On Sunday, Rory McIlroy made a surprising run for the jacket, finishing with a total four-round score of seven under par. Collin Morikawa, who was his playing partner, finished the tournament at four under par. The two chipped in a pair of sand bunker shots on the 18th hole to cap their final rounds.

Scheffler’s green jacket win comes as his fourth PGA Tour victory in about three months. He won the Waste Management Phoenix Open on February 13, the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 6 and the Dell Technologies Match Play on March 27. He has also not missed a tournament cut line since October 2021.

Scheffler was praised for his poise, strength and ability to overcome the adverse weather throughout the four rounds at Augusta National. In interviews after his win, he was vulnerable and disclosed that he was especially anxious going into Sunday’s round.

“I cried like a baby this morning. I was so stressed out. I didn’t know what to do. I was sitting there telling [my wife] Meredith, ‘I don’t think I’m ready for this…’” Scheffler said. Alas, Scheffler was ready, and he took the golf world by storm with his dominating finish on Sunday.

Despite the many successful golfers in the field, like surging Scottie Scheffler, Cam Smith and perhaps even Jon Rahm or Dustin Johnson, the talk of the week was Tiger Woods’s return to golf.

Woods has been slowly making his way back onto the golf course after sustaining severe leg injuries in a single vehicle car accident in February 2021. (See “Tiger’s Hopeful Return” on The Waltonian’s website.) Doctors were even considering amputating his right leg, so the recovery was a hefty one.

Woods surprised everyone when he teed it up at the Masters. He played well in the first round and managed to make the cut after the second round. Tiger struggled the last two rounds, but afterward, he still expressed his gratitude and progress.

“Even a month ago, I didn’t know if I could pull this off,” he said. “I think it was a positive, and I’ve got some work to do and [I’m] looking forward to it.”

Sources: ESPN, Golfweek, Golf Channel, Golf Digest, Masters, PGA Tour

Giroux Says Goodbye to Philly: The Flyer’s long-time captain Claude Giroux is traded to the Florida Panthers.

As the NHL trades continue to happen throughout the league and players’ contracts approach expiration, some surprising moves are being made. One of these trades that has shocked not only Philadelphia fans, but hockey fans in general, is Flyers captain Claude Giroux being dished off to the Florida Panthers.

Giroux was one of the best players to wear a Flyers uniform, and although the team had little playoff success in his 15 years, he still was a leader and fan-favorite.

Giroux has 291 career goals and 609 career assists with Philadelphia. 18 of those goals and 24 of those assists have come this season. Giroux also recently joined Bobby Clarke as the only two players to have played 1,000 NHL games exclusively with the Flyers.

So what does this mean for Giroux, the Flyers and the Panthers? The Panthers will surely benefit from Giroux’s arrival. They are an already dominating team, leading the entire Eastern Conference with a 42–14–6 record. 

Joining captain Aleksander Barkov and forward Jonathan Huberdeau, Giroux will help the already hot-streaking Panthers to retain their Eastern Conference power. The Panthers hope to use the quickness, agility and grittiness of Giroux along with that of Ben Chiarot and Robert Hagg to continue their success.

It’s true that bringing in new players as the season nears the playoffs can throw off team chemistry. It also is true that Giroux, only having played with one team his whole career, might have a hard time adjusting, having to communicate and cooperate with new teammates.

However, Panthers coach Andrew Brunette is hopeful. He understands that players need time to adjust but that won’t stop the team from playing and practicing at the top of their game. “There’s a little bit of an easing process that we have here with [the new guys],” he said.

Giroux also sounds hopeful that he will mesh with his new teammates. “The guys are fast. We’re having fun out there,” Giroux said. If fun really matters in sports, then Giroux and his new Florida teammates should have no problem coming to terms with each others’ playing styles.

The Flyers, although facing a pretty large organizational dilemma, will look to add depth to their roster with Owen Tippett, a young forward from Peterborough, Ontario. He joins Flyers stars Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny as they try to turn around their less-than-ideal season.

Sources: ESPN, NHL

Brady’s Back, and Maybe He’ll Stay: Tom Brady has decided to return for another season in Tampa Bay.

Well, that didn’t last long.

Legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady plans to come out of his very short-lived retirement to play at least one more season in Tampa Bay.

On March 13, Brady posted to Twitter, announcing his unretirement. “These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now,” his tweet said.

The day before, Brady attended a Premier League football game, where Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United defeated the Tottenham Hotspur 3–2. Ronaldo scored a hat trick.

Who knows why Brady decided to come back. Perhaps watching a great footballer in action—who, at 37 years old, is up in age for soccer players—gave him that final push of motivation to continue to play.

Maybe he didn’t need the motivation. Brady constantly seems physically and mentally ready to take on any challenge, especially in football. His strict diet and fitness program keep him healthy at a level that is almost absurd for men—let alone athletes—his age.

Maybe Brady was bored. Maybe he genuinely didn’t know what to do with himself. Maybe owning two clothing brands, running a fitness company and touching up his golf game were not enough to keep him busy. Maybe Brady has a visceral need for football.

After playing and practicing football non-stop and training in the football mindset, it must be brutal to step away. Brady is attached to not only his team but to the sport of football as a whole. It has become a necessity, like food or water—an inseparable aspect of his life that he can’t just quit cold turkey.

And Brady isn’t a quitter by any means. Despite winning 7 Super Bowl rings, he simply cannot stop competing. He always seems to want more. His drive and his determination, perhaps, are the biggest factors of his success.

As Brady returns for his 23rd season in the NFL, he might just win another Super Bowl. Maybe this season won’t even be his last. Maybe he won’t stop until he wins again.

Sources: Andrew Beaton and Josh Gay, The Wall Street Journal

PGA’s 2022 Players Championship: A look at the unusuality of this year’s tournament at TPC Sawgrass.

Off and on weather delays and play suspensions clouded the field of professional golfers in this year’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Play was halted several times over the four rounds in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., as heavy rainfall peppered the course.

The first round, scheduled for Thursday, March 10, concluded on Friday, March 11. On that same Friday, players were required to start their second round right after finishing their first round. 

Darkness shadowed the latter holes of some golfers’ second rounds, and they had to be finished up Saturday morning. This shift warranted a Monday final round, rather than a traditional Sunday.

Despite the unconventional finish and variant conditions, some unexpected players in the field, especially champion Cameron Smith, showed exceptional ability to overcome adversity on the golf course.

Cameron Smith showed the way during his final round and birdied his first four holes. He went on to one-putt 13 of the 18 holes in that same round. Of these one-putts, eight of them came in his last nine holes. Smith was on fire.

Not only did the Australian hit these putts, he was consistent in where he made them: the dead center of the cup. Smith read and understood the speed and slope of the difficult TPC Sawgrass greens, leading him to victory on Monday.

Anirban Lahiri, Joel Dahmen, Francesco Molinari and Viktor Hovland were some of the notable competitors that made their mark over the weekend. Big names such as Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Speith and Tony Finau all missed the cut.

Another highlight, as with every tournament at TPC Sawgrass, is Number 17. This course is home to the famous par-3 the “Island Green.” 

Over the length of the tournament, more than 65 balls were hit into the water off the edge of this difficult green. (Brooks Koepka has hit 10 balls into the 17th green’s water and has played this hole at 20-over-par during his career.) Players including Koepka watched ball after ball fall into the water after being set off track by heavy gusts of wind. Just bad luck.

Given the unpredictable conditions, brutal winds and longer-than-normal week at the 2022 Players Championship, golfers are glad to have a rest. Cameron Smith announced that he would not be playing in the Dell Technologies Match Play event in Austin, Texas to take a bit of a break and have some extended time with family.

Sources: Golf Channel, Golf Digest

The Hound of St. Dominic: A look at the elusive mystery surrounding this painting and its painter, Juan de Pareja.

During a trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, I encountered an exhibit set back in a small room on the second floor of the gallery. The exhibit was called “Juan de Pareja: A Painter’s Story.” The room looked dark; the only light visible from afar was shining on the painting the exhibit focused on: “Dog with a Candle and Lilies.”

As I walked closer to this canine figure, I began to examine the work. The dog’s eyes seem to gaze deep into your soul if you stare too long. The candle, lit in the dog’s mouth, burns bright, its flame leaping upward. However, the dog lies still and doesn’t seem like a threat. (If a dog was running around with a lit candle in its mouth, I’d be a bit more worried.)

The lilies lie on the ground as well, next to the dog. But they’re not wilted. In fact, there are buds that haven’t even bloomed yet. The flowers are still very much alive even though they lie on the floor. The artist signs his name in brown ink underneath the dogs’ paws.

Juan de Pareja was born in 1606 in Antequera, Spain and was enslaved to Diego Velázquez, a court painter to King Phillip IV. After working under Velázquez, Pareja gained emancipation and then freedom in 1654. He began to work as an independent painter.

Pareja’s name is attached only to 30 works, but 19 of them are now lost. It might be a miracle that this painting has made it to the eyes of scholars and institutions.

According to art historians, this rare painting might even be a fragment of a larger painting of St. Dominic. The rest of the painting has not been discovered, if it does exist. In Latin countries, symbols of St. Dominic include a dog with a candle and, you guessed it, lilies.

Why is a dog with a lit candle representative of St. Dominic? There is a legend that says that St. Dominic’s pregnant mother dreamed that a dog lept from her womb with a torch to burn down everything around them. The image of the dog might also suggest the pun on the word Dominicanus, the name for a Dominican friar that aligns with the Latin domini canis, meaning “dog of the Lord.”

And the bouquet-esque bunch of lilies? These flowers represent St. Dominic’s notable chastity.

I don’t know why this painting captured me. Perhaps it’s the mystery of St. Dominic’s hound and the legend surrounding it. Perhaps it’s Pareja’s incredible story from slave to free man. Perhaps it’s the contrast of colors between the mysteriously illuminated painting in that gallery room at the IMA.

Whatever it might be, Pareja’s inspiration is profound to not only me, but artists and nonartists across the world. His story shows that although you might not be Renoir or Monet, someone will find your legacy and put it in the spotlight it deserves.

Sources: Destination Indy, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Museo del Prado, Newfields, Providence College, Robilant+Voena

A Growing Child: A look at Grogu’s development throughout “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett.””

The “Star Wars” Universe was overcome with joy when the character formerly referred to as Baby Yoda made his debut in the Disney+ Star Wars series, “The Mandalorian.” Fans’ adoration for this character, now known as Grogu, has increased consistently throughout the two seasons of this show and the one season of the special series, “The Book of Boba Fett.”

It might be obvious that the Mandalorian, Din Djarin, is the character that carries this section of the franchise. However, Grogu is another key character that carries part of “The Mandalorian” and TBoBF on his back. His character has shown much growth and development during the timeline of these two shows.

Grogu starts as a fairly static character. I mean, how could he not be static? In the beginning of  the first season of “The Mandalorian,” he’s a small, green child who eats frogs and likes to play with the shiny top of a ship control stick.

Grogu does discover his Force powers during the first season of “The Mandalorian,” though, when he lifts a mudhorn into the air so Mando can defeat it, along with reaching out to other beings and even healing Greef Karga.

Grogu, although technically an infant, uses the force to protect and alert his friends. Despite the Jedi code that forbids emotional attachment, which Grogu isn’t a strict follower of yet, he uses his powers because he wants to help the ones he loves. This use was also for good, something Jedi are restricted to use the Force for.

In “The Book of Boba Fett,” spoiler alert, Grogu trains to be a Jedi with Luke Skywalker at his to-be Jedi Academy. Mando comes to visit him, hoping to see him, but since Jedi must forgo all attachment, Mando leaves him a gift: a shirt made of Beskar metal.

When Luke presents him with the shirt from Mando and Yoda’s lightsaber, Grogu is given a choice: if he takes Mando’s shirt, he is choosing to leave the Jedi order and be a Mandalorian foundling as he was throughout “The Mandalorian” seasons one and two. This was the choice Grogu made.

Even though he is a child, we see Grogu’s ability to make decisions that matter to him. Although he might not realize the long term effects that this decision not to be a part of the Jedi Order would have on him, he still chose an option that means something. Grogu knows that Mando has cared for him when he was abandoned by everything else. This decision implies that Grogu knows that without Mando as a fatherly figure, he would have been in serious danger.

Now, of course, Grogu was put in some pretty serious danger just going along with Mando and his adventures. But Grogu could have been snatched and taken to the Jedi Order when he wasn’t yet ready. He was still very much a child, and Mando always cared for him with the intention of one day returning him to “his kind,” where he could be properly trained as a Jedi. We see these post-training abilities in their prime after Grogu chooses to go along with Mando in “The Book of Boba Fett.” Grogu uses his Force abilities to defeat a Destroyer Droid in the Pyke attack on Tatooine. (Bonus: He also can jump significantly higher than he used to.)

Throughout the two seasons of “The Mandalorian,” Grogu’s Force abilities develop as he gets older. His training with Luke Skywalker helped, but his emotional attachment to Din Djarin, Mando, has proven to be the driving factor for his character’s growth.

500-Pound Black Bear Breaks Into California Homes: The bear nicknamed “Hank the Tank” has been stealing food from homes and causing damage but no harm.

A 500-pound black bear nicknamed “Hank the Tank” has been breaking into homes around Lake Tahoe, Calif., stealing food and causing damage. He was last spotted walking down a street in the Tahoe Keys.

The bear, as of now, has caused damage to over 30 Lake Tahoe properties and prompted over 150 calls to the South Tahoe police department. He has also broken and entered at least 28 homes over the course of his rampage.

The most recent incident occurred on Friday, Feb. 18, when Hank smashed a window of a house on Catalina Drive. He squeezed through the window as the family was still in the home. When police arrived, they banged on the door and the outside of the house, and Hank escaped out the back door.

The motive for the break-ins, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says, is that the bear is “severely food-habituated,” meaning that he has lost his fear of people and associates them with providing food.

Despite Hank’s immense presence and ruthlessness, he has not caused any harm to humans or pets in the area. But, because of the extensive damage to homes, wildlife officials are considering relocating the bear.

Options for relocation include a zoo, a wildlife preservation, another facility or, an alternative, euthanization. Relocation to the wilderness would not be healthy. Since the bear is food-habituated, “they [would] starve because they’re not used to hunting for food,” Peter Tira, a spokesman for the CDFW said.

Ann Bryant, executive director of BEAR League, a group that promotes humans living in harmony with bears, stresses that there are options better than euthanasia. Tira affirms that euthanasia is always the last resort. This is especially the case since Lake Tahoe’s bear population is at a healthy density.

With this in mind, authorities are still trying to capture the bear, who has been avoiding being caught for over seven months. The “conflict bear,” the CDFW calls him, has not yet been matched with a placement option that meets the organization’s Black Bear Policy.

As of Feb. 22, Hank has still not been captured by wildlife officials. The CDFW suggests that homeowners be smart about the disposal of their food waste, since bears like Hank are driven by the scent of food.

An Instagram post by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department urges people to apply for bear boxes, structures that can be installed on a property to safely store food and hopefully prevent further break-ins.

Sources: BEAR League, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, CNN, NBC Bay Area

The End of an Era: The age of Tom Brady is over, but whose age is beginning?

On Feb. 1, 2022, NFL quarterback Tom Brady retired from football after 22 seasons in the league. 

Brady spent 20 of those NFL seasons with the New England Patriots and another two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He won seven Super Bowls: six with the Patriots and one with the Bucs. 

According to ESPN, Brady, 44, formerly said he wanted to play football until he was at least 45. However, when rumors of his retirement leaked on Jan. 29, he confirmed that football’s physicality and the 25 sacks he faced this year have taken a toll on his health. The speculation grew, and despite the rumors, Brady said he wasn’t ready to finalize anything and was “still going through” the decision-making process. 

But, in an Instagram post on Feb. 1, Brady said that he doesn’t want to “make the competitive commitment” to play NFL football anymore. He said that it was time to focus his energy and time on other things that are important to him, like his family and his health. Brady has finally put an end to his thrill of a career. 

In the long-winded, five-slide Instagram post, Brady thanked his former Buccaneers teammates, the Buccaneers organization, the Buccaneers coaching staff and Tampa Bay fans. He failed to mention any of his 20 years in New England, even when they were the team that drafted him in 2000 and gave him a fighting chance at making a name for himself.

Former Patriots’ teammates, coaches and managers still expressed their immense gratitude and appreciation for him. ESPN reports that Patriots fans did get a bit of a thank-you via Twitter, when Brady responded to a statement by Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. 

Now that arguably the greatest quarterback of all time has left the league, the door has been opened for young stars to pave their roads to greatness. Patrick Mahomes has already shown immense skill, but even he has failed to make it to another Super Bowl, falling to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship. Josh Allen is in the same boat, except he is still seeking his first Super Bowl appearance. Patriots fans will be excited to see how their rookie QB, Mac Jones, develops as his career goes on after making the Pro Bowl in his first NFL season. None of them, though, will fill the void left by Tom Brady.

Sources: ESPN, The Sporting News

Olympic Athletes on TikTok: Why these stars’ accounts can bring a level of authenticity to an otherwise distanced event.

If your TikTok “For You” page looks like mine, you’ve seen a decent amount of Olympics-related videos. Whether they are videos of Shaun White eating a meal and reacting to a snowboard fail video, “haul” videos of athletes unpacking their two large duffel bags of apparel or tours of the Olympic village and hotel rooms, these posts are going viral.

If you’re not interested in sports, then you’re probably annoyed by these videos. However, there is still a lot to be said for these videos, as they give viewers a more human view of these physically (and perhaps skillfully) distant athletes.

Unless you’re bothered by the fact that most of these Olympic TikToks are showcasing the high lives of the athletes, these videos present an inside look into the Olympic experience that we otherwise wouldn’t get.

This is a plus of the immediacy and intimacy that social media provides; fans and viewers can get an insider’s perspective on an event that would otherwise be very distant. Instead of merely watching the events on TV and seeing the 60-second mini-stories for select athletes, TikTok allows fans, or just casual viewers, to see a little more of the Olympic lifestyle.

The personalities of these athletes are also shown. Shaun White, a US Olympic snowboarder, is most known for his TikToks where he “duets” videos and gives his reaction to them. However, when he traveled to Beijing for this year’s Olympics, he started documenting different parts of the experience. He recorded the dining hall, a face-recognition machine and his hotel room and answered questions about what he does with all of the clothing and what different parts of the Olympic village look like.

Other athletes, such as some of China’s women’s ice hockey players, posted trendy videos that showed fans around their Olympic hotel room. The TikTok was to the sound “Che La Luna” by Louis Prima, and the video was the trend, “things that just make sense.” The hockey players went around their hotel room and pointed out quirky features, just as in other videos for this trend.

This phenomenon is more interactive than past Olympic games. Fans are directly asking White and other athletes questions through their TikTok comment section, and these fans are getting the athletes’ genuine responses. They are also able to see the same TikTok trends that everyone else does used by these athletes to showcase their experiences. Relatability is established between viewers and otherwise distant athletes, making these competitors a bit more human. Fans are able to see the athletes’ personalities shine through.

Basic “Get Ready With Me” or “Outfit Check” videos are popular not only on YouTube but now on TikTok as well. Whether they are live videos or shorter “For You” page ones, these videos take watchers through athletes’ routines of getting ready for a day out at the Olympics. The athletes sometimes ask for advice on previous videos and then show their completed “outfits of the day” once they decide on what to wear.

Considering the large distance between, for lack of a better term, commonfolk and Olympic athletes, it would seem almost impossible for there to be a connection. Despite its downfalls, TikTok actually provides a platform where viewers and fans can feel closer to these high-level competitors.