Diamond Resorts Inv. podcast: Colt Ford talks country music, golf and rednecky things

Country music artist Colt Ford used to play professional golf, back when he went by the name Jason Brown. He used to compete against the likes of Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk. Now some people call him a “country rapper,” which sort of sounds like an oxymoron, maybe in the league of “peacekeeping forces.” Anyway, Colt talks about golf and music and more with Jeff Rude here at this week’s Diamond Resorts Invitational, a 54-hole celebrity event for athletes and entertainers. Listen here: 

The stars are aligned: Don’t overdue it in youth sports

By Jeff Rude

  ORLANDO, Fla.–Too much, too soon, too early,  too young, too hard, too often, too fast and, sadly, too bad. Hall of Fame baseball pitcher John Smoltz looks around youth baseball and that’s what he sees and feels. It’s to the point that he calls for the elimination of the radar gun in youth leagues because kids and parents have become enamored of how fast pitches travel, to the detriment of the participants’ health.

   “That would be a step in helping get kids away from RPMing their engine until it blows,” Smoltz said Tuesday at a youth sports’ health symposium at Florida Hospital Orlando, the beneficiary of this week’s Diamond Resorts Invitational for sports and entertainment celebrities.

   Joined by three local doctors and former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien and nine-time NHL all-star Jeremy Roenick, Smoltz was emphatic when addressing the health of youth as they pursue rewards derived from sports. His message: Use your patience and head and watch your arm.

  “Kids are throwing too many pitches at a young age at too high of a velocity,” Smoltz, who figures six surgeries cost him 1 1/2 big-league seasons, said, citing youths ranging from age 7 to high school. “They’re throwing too hard and too often. Tendons and ligaments don’t keep up. Year-round (baseball) is absolutely killing these kids. … (Parents) are buying into the factory mindset that you can produce athletes by doing 100 games a year.”

   Hence, youth baseball is in a “sad state,” Smoltz maintains, because “we’re trying to make athletes.”  He not only suggests rest, he says this: “If you took a child who is athletically gifted and let him rest for two years, I think he’d be the same gifted athlete.”

   Roenick and the others concurred those in charge need to be smart and careful. Roenick said parents’ “living through their child is the worst thing.” Dr. Raymond Woo, an orthopedic surgeon, said he strives to tell parents to instill balance in their kids, including balancing between contact and non-contact sports.

    Rypien, the former Washington Redskins star, says he didn’t wear pads in football until he was 13 but now sees some pee-wee players in full gear at ages 5-6. “I don’t know if that’s the best message,” he said. “Small athletes are getting pummeled at an early age. As a parent, you’ve got to find out if your child is built to play football.”

   Fully grown athletes regularly get  battered as well. Football has had concussion issues for years, as addressed in the current movie “Concussion.”  (Rypien says he saw a “lot of flaws” with the flick.)

    The good news is that concussions “are finally in the forefront now,” said Dr. Melvin Field, who started the concussion program at Florida Hospital. The challenge remains for athletes at all levels to recognize concussions and receive treatment, Field said, but big strides have been made in that area. “Now if you have a dinger, you don’t go out and play,” he said.

   Those with “properly managed” concussions should be OK, Field said. Dr. William Felix-Rodriguez, a sports medicine specialist, added that “90 percent of concussions go away in 7-10 days.”

    Roenick figures he knows too much about such matters. Having played in a sport where skaters can collide coming from opposite directions at 25 mph, Roenick says he had 14 or 15 concussions that we documented and treated.

   “I don’t like the word ‘concussion,’ Roenick said. “It’s a brain injury. If you see stars, if your vision is blurry, you probably have a brain injury. The key is acknowledging it and treating it. If you don’t, the next one will be worse.”

   The three former athletes will be among those playing in the Wednesday pro-am and the 54-hole inaugural Diamond Resorts Invitational Thursday-Saturday at Golden Bear Club in Windermere, Fla. 

   The 81-person field competing for a $500,000 purse will feature a mix of past and present. Current major league stars Josh Donaldson, Justin Verlander and Jose Bautista will be joined by the likes of other Super Bowl MVPs Jerry Rice, Marcus Allen and Richard Dent; other former baseball stars Roger Clemens, Reggie Jackson, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and entertainers Larry The Cable Guy, Jake Owen and Colt Ford.

 

Podcast: WGC not as simple as ABC

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Jeff Rude don’t hold back when talking WGC effectiveness, Mickelson-Harmon split, Woods’ fall to 378 in the world, Weekley’s criticism of wraparound season and Steve Williams’ contention that his book publisher took his “slave” comment out of context. You need to listen here if for no other reason than to find out what professional golf and massage parlors have in common:

Podcast: Multimillion-dollar ‘slave’

Steve Williams, who made millions and became famous while carrying the golf bag of Tiger Woods, has stirred emotion with a new book in which he said sometimes he felt like a “slave.” Hawk (@JohnHawkinsGolf) and Rude (@JeffRudeGolf) go deep on the topic. They also delve into golf’s youth movement and Woods’ future. Listen here:

Examining the appeal of Bermuda

By Jeff Rude/COMMENTARY

SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda–This little fishhook-shaped island in the Atlantic Ocean can name-drop. President Eisenhower and Sir Winston Churchill discussed world affairs here. Mark Twain wrote here. Babe Ruth swatted golf balls out of play here. A couple of famous Michaels, Douglas and Bloomberg, own homes here.

The name also has been associated with a triangle, shorts, grass and dunes. But what a trip here represents is an escape into endless beauty. Little wonder Twain said, “You go to heaven if you want to, I’d rather stay right here in Bermuda.”

Then there’s golf. It was Twain, of course, who supposedly maintained that the ancient game could spoil a nice journey afoot. But a golfer of any skill level won’t be disappointed with the course options here. Name-dropping can continue, for the terrific Mid Ocean Club was designed by Charles Blair Macdonald, and beautiful Port Royal, of PGA Grand Slam fame, was constructed by the Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the universe.

Mid Ocean, which Jones touched up in the 1950s, can compete with the world’s best tracks, no hyperbole. The collection of holes has an old-school charm, the ocean is always a glance away and the history is told through urban legend and photographs upstairs on a clubhouse wall. 

There’s no disputing Eisenhower and Churchill met in a 1953 summit. Less clear is how many golf balls Ruth lost on the 433-yard dogleg-left fifth hole, called Cape. Various accounts have the sultan rinsing a dozen or so on the left side while trying to drive the green almost a century ago; perhaps a more accurate tale has him making a watery 11 on the hole.

The remade Port Royal is another visual delight, featuring the island’s most photographed hole–the cliffside 16th, which tips out at 235 yards. But then the views here never stop. The island has seven courses, four of which your correspondent played on a recent trip, and blue scenery is a constant. That goes for the sky and about five shades of blue in the Atlantic.

Bermuda wants to be a golf destination and arguably has enough to qualify. A bonus is Turtle Hill, a fun but challenging 18-hole par-3 track that features constant ocean views and elevation changes. It again will host the Grey Goose World Par-3 Championship in March and, get this: You can play. The first 120 to sign up are in.

Bermuda has some reasonably priced golf packages available (gotobermuda.com/golf). That’s good news for the Great Unwashed because Bermuda is not inexpensive. Jewels are known to be pricey, and that applies here, from the multi-million-dollar real estate down to a $14 glass of wine. So bring a high stack of chips. Also bring a significant other and/or a foursome of golfers, depending on mood and mission.

You should be cautioned on two other fronts. One, don’t head off to the Caribbean, for 21-square-mile Bermuda fools the geographically challenged since it is stationed some 700 miles off the North Carolina coast. Translated, that’s a two-hour flight from Atlanta.

Two, beware pouring too many Dark ’N’ Stormy cocktails,  for the local specialty goes down like lemonade. Behind that smoothness is  the dark (Gosling’s Black Seal rum) and the stormy (ginger beer).