His raspy, literate, learned, Okie voice became my initial introduction to Matt McKay.
I listened to his The Elevated Tee golf radio program (Newstalk 920-AM KPSI, Palm Springs) on several occasions prior to my relocation to the desert.
In the years – and about 100 rounds since – Matt and I have become playing partners and colleagues of sorts. I have come to serve as "correspondent at-large" for The Elevated Tee.
Every Sunday from 8-10 a.m., listeners enjoy a regular host of local golf news, national guests, prize giveaways and a diverse array of golf tips, happenings, insights and travel suggestions.
With the Coachella Valley golf season in full swing and the Humana Challenge set to start Jan. 22, it's time to tap into one of SoCal's most learned golf minds.
Do you consider the Coachella Valley among the world’s top golf destinations?
"There's no doubt about it. Not only is it among the world's best, it has been since the golf world discovered the desert and its' primo conditions back in the '50s. It attracted the big money, and the big money produced the best clubs and courses. In fact, the desert is so well-established as one of the top golf destinations on the planet, you can trace its growth rings. There's the foundation clubs, the 60s expansion, the Landmark Land period, the latest wave coinciding with the Tiger Boom in the mid-'90s…you can't manufacture history, and the valley has it."
What has proven your favorite public course in the desert? And your favorite private club course?
"I'm a huge fan of Marriott Shadow Ridge and its Australian sand belt-style design. I could also flip a three-sided coin between Indian Canyons in Palm Springs, Desert Willow in Palm Desert, and Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells. As for private courses, it's tough to beat The Madison Club and that Discovery Land concept and service. In fact, like the other Discovery Land projects, the overall experience is so pleasurable it's difficult to separate out the golf experience."
In the nearly six-year run of the The Elevated Tee, who have been your favorite guests, both locally and on a national level?
"PGA Tour folks have told me The Elevated Tee has more tour pros on its airwaves annually than any other program. But I always look forward to speaking with my old golf media pals, because they know what's happening, and we have friendships off the golf course that come across on the radio. My old Dallas Morning News' colleague Jeff Rude comes immediately to mind, as does Golfweek's Jeff Babineau, Arizona Golf Hall of Famer Bill Huffman, Sports Illustrated's Gary Van Sickle, and of course our old friend from The Desert Sun, Larry Bohannon."
A few months back, I penned a piece on “Replacement” course suggestions after the pair of private tracks depart the (soon to be former) Humana Challenge rotation after this year. What would your choices be for two new courses?
"For me, that's an easy one. The Classic Club and SilverRock were basically built to be participants in the PGA Tour event rotation, so it seems totally logical to utilize the available logistics and go back there. When Arnold Palmer was on the show, he said he didn't think he would live to see the Classic Club play the way he intended it to play. Arnold is still around, but it has matured to the point that it might be time to reconsider his course anyway."
What are your Humana Challenge tournament predictions?
Humana sleeper: Paul Casey (ready for comeback)
Humana bust: Phil Mickelson (just tuning up, not looking to win)
Humana contender: Patrick Reed (runs on confidence and knows he can win here)
Humana winner: Billy Horschel (when you're hot, you're hot)
Judd Spicer is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. Have a golf tip or golf story idea to share? E-mail Judd: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Judd on Twitter: @JuddSpicer
See Judd's previous posts under Life on the Links.