Can a 47-year-old underachieving mid-handicapper find long-sought golfing glory by turning things around and learning to play left-handed? The world is about to find out.

Some Nice Publicity

Big thanks to Dennis McCann for his nice blog post at! (And to Coach Carl for saying such nice things about my lefty game!)

The staff and management at Scratch in the Mirror appreciate your interest and support.

Crossing the Finish Line

Well, the official "learning to play left-handed golf" part of the project came to an end last weekend, with the 2011 "White Lake Classic." This venerable event began 25 years ago when a group of friends were invited to a family cottage on White Lake in Michigan to perform manual labor in exchange for free lodging and golf. It has since evolved into the golf season's true "fifth major," with bragging rights and a true monstrosity of a traveling trophy on the line for the winner.
     This year, it was also the designated "finish line" for the Scratch in the Mirror book project, the official end of the one-year commitment.
     How does it all end? You'll have to buy the book to find out! Suffice it to say that a great time was had by all, as usual. I'll also go so far as to divulge that I did not win the trophy (for what would have been a record-extending seventh time!). No, the coveted title this year went to Dr. Tom Scaggs, who overcame severe injuries incurred in a recent ATV accident (lesson: friends don't let friends videotape and drive) to win rather handily. Congratulations, L.T.! ("Little Tommy")
     Pictured here are the six surviving participants on the first tee at the White Lake Golf Club (a.k.a. "The Burial Place of Old Man Gloom"): Mike "Zim" Zimmerman, Rob "The Glacier" Twardock, Mike "Scruffy" Neuses, Tom "Scagg-bagger" Scaggs, Tom "Serbo" Lessaris, and Keith "Keith" Staggs.


A Memorable Chance Encounter

UPDATE: I managed to reach Charles Barkley's rep -- who told me that Charles has given up on left-handed golf! (I think this may be a scoop -- remember, you read it here first!) He also told me that the Round Mound declined my request for an interview. Oh, well. No reason I can't ask again when the book is farther along and I have more "credibility"! I'd still like to talk to him about his experience giving it a try.

I'll have more information on this as things develop, but for now, long story short: I met NBA legend Bill Walton at the top of 6,000-foot Mt. Laguna outside San Diego yesterday. I had ridden a motorcycle to the top; he had ridden his bicycle. How impressive is that? And he's as nice as he is fit. During the course of our conversation I told him about my book project, and he's going to help me get in touch with Charles Barkley for an interview about his foray into left-handed golf!
     Here's the photographic evidence of our memorable meeting:

UPDATE: I did manage to get in touch with Charles Barkley's manager, who passed my interview request along to Sir Charles. Unfortunately, he wasn't interested in talking to me. Oh, well. At least I tried!

Breaking Lefty News ...

From the AP, via

Barkley may switch to lefty for Tahoe celeb golf

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- June 9, 2011 -- It's hard to tell sometimes when Charles Barkley is joking, but it's also hard to watch him play golf.
     So, there's a decent chance he wasn't kidding when he told reporters on Thursday he's seriously considering playing left-handed next month at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.
     As Barkley put it: "It can't be worse."
     The NBA Hall of Famer turned TV analyst said it isn't like he's enjoyed a whole lot of success playing right-handed.
     Known for the hitch in his stop-and-go swing, Barkley routinely finishes last at the annual tourney at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. He's a 500-1 longshot to win this year's tourney July 15-17.
     Barkley says he's just as bad from the left side but seems to be more relaxed.

I'd heard inklings that he was working on this. Go HERE to see a YouTube video of Barkley's work-in-progress lefty swing at

On the Tee: My Official Lefty Debut


You can tell I'm a little nervous by the way I ignore/forget about the camera after the shot and immediately walk over to the cart, already thinking about the next one. The tee shot (with a 5-wood) ended up clipping the trees on the right before bending back onto the right side of the fairway, very short. I ended up with a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 opening hole, but followed that with a double, then a bogey, a par, and then very nearly a birdie (I missed about an 8-foot putt) on the short par-3 5th. After that I started thinking a little too much about scoring, instead of taking it shot by shot, hole by hole, but ended up with 49-53 for a 102.
     Not bad for the first time out! It could have been a little better (I wasted more strokes around the green than I would have expected), but it certainly could have also been a lot worse. I'll take it!

Later, on the 18th tee, Rob, Keith, and Scruffy took a turn from the sinister side:

On June 3, three good friends and I are scheduled to play what will be my first official 18-hole round of left-handed golf – at Morningstar Golfers Club in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Why Morningstar? Simple: it's going to be free! (And because it looks like a very nice course.)
     Back in March, my son Jack and I attended the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Golf Show at Wisconsin State Fair Park. If you've ever been to a golf show like this one, you'll know that there are LOTS of opportunities to enter drawings. Jack, being 9, was very interested in trying to win some fabulous prizes. So I told him he could enter as many drawings as he likes as long as he fills out the entry slips himself. Surprise, surprise, that condition severely curtailed his interest in winning a new car or golfing vacation. But he did still manage to scrawl his name and contact information on a few entry forms.
     Much to my surprise, a few weeks later we got a call that Jack had won four free passes for 18 holes of golf at Morningstar! A few days after that, four coupons showed up in the mail – with no designated recipient and no fine print that I could see about them being "non-transferrable."
     Now, officially these passes belonged to my son, of course. But Jack is not ready to play such a course yet – nor did he seem to have have any particular interest in doing so anyway. So I made him a deal: I would take the passes off his hands in exchange for a new Wii Sports Resort game and the promise to take him to a "real" golf course (as opposed to a par-3) more his speed sometime soon. As long as it has sand traps, he said (he has a strange fascination with sand traps), that would be awesome.
     So I contacted three of my best golfing friends and set a date to join them at Morningstar for what promises to be a rollicking good time: nerve-wracking and challenging for me; entertaining and potentially hilarious for them. I expect they will show no mercy as I put my lefty game to its first official test. Nor would I want them to, as this is how golf is meant to be played: amidst the heckling and laughter of your best friends in the world.

Welcome to the 'Lefty Dome'

Officially, it's called the "Bob Charles/Phil Mickelson Indoor Backhanded Practice Facility," but I usually just call it the "Lefty Dome" for short. In truth it's much less glamorous than the name suggests – it's a back room at GS Design, where I work, with a blanket hung against the wall and a little piece of carpet for "turf" for hitting practice balls. But it's where I've done most of winter practice.
     Coach Carl told me that the winter before he won the Ohio State Amateur, he spent an hour a day swinging a club in his mother's bedroom (it was the only room in the house with enough space, including high ceilings). An hour a day! Not hitting balls, just swinging a club! That's amazing dedication, and something I think about when things get tedious back among the ladders.