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Something to cheer – golf is showing more color, personality

Golf and Twitter are making for good playing partners.

I follow a fair amount of golf, golfers, golf writers and golf instructors. I'm kind of weird that way. Some people on Twitter - ok, four million - follow Shaq. I'm one of 8,000 or so following Paul Goydos.

One Twitter account I fully recommend is that of Hank Haney, the teaching pro who has worked with everyone from Tiger Woods to Charles Barkley. Haney does a terrific job with his tweets, answering questions and dishing out advice. It's amazing to me how is he able to give such great tips in so few words.

It's also fun following numerous men's and women's tour players, seeing their banter and getting a glimpse into their personalities.

Several of the younger men pros seem to be into social media, and Twitter has made me an even bigger fan of such stars as Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Bubba Watson.

Golf is a social game, in many ways, and through Twitter you feel can feel like you're getting to walk the fairway with these guys.

And it's great to keep track of retired LPGA superstar Annika Sorenstam, even though this morning's post might have been more information than I needed to hear during breakfast: her daughter, Ava, peed this morning for the first time in her potty chair. Don't know where I'd be without such local knowledge ... but, again, I like being "inside the ropes," even for breaking potty-break news.

• Speaking of golf and personality - sometimes seemingly mutually exclusive - I love the idea of the bizarre new "boy band" of Beaverton's Ben Crane and fellow PGA Tour pros Watson, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan.

This foursome - calling themselves the "Golf Boys" - released their first music video this week, titled "Oh Oh Oh."

Reaction has been everything from "Oh, my" to "Oh, no" to "OMG."

While the music misses the cut and the rapping is mini-tour quality, I give these guys a lot of credit for grinding and finishing. What they've done takes more guts than a long carry over water at a tight pin.

My reaction was, 'Oh, neat'- neat to see some color and fun out of a PGA Tour membership that hasn't been known for much of that since Arnold Palmer led golf's rise to big money and big business (with notable exceptions such as Lee Trevino, Peter Jacobsen, Fuzzy Zoeller and others).

For years, Europe has had more unique and interesting characters, but guys like the "Golf Guys" may help lift the U.S. contingent in some respects.

Not that Crane, Watson and Fowler are wild Euros - they've made their Christian faith fairly well-known.

But I like how Watson, in particular, hasn't been afraid to show emotion - and I don't mean by screaming at photographers or slamming clubs into the ground when the ball doesn't do what he wants it to do.

These guys - for example, Watson and his camouflage pants for charity (military families) during Thursday's opening round of the U.S. Open - have a compassion for people and the fans that's great to see.

It's refreshing that they can also cut loose in a fun way off the course, and hopefully new and younger fans will relate to them.

• Along those lines, I am consistently drawn to all the young golfing talent that is emerging around the world. Some amazing players are going to make the next decade fascinating to watch. To me, even without Tiger, golf is more interesting and better to follow than ever.

• It's also great to see different styles of dress on the tours - shades of Payne Stewart, Doug Sanders and others - along with the occasional facial hair and guys these days letting their hair down, literally, with locks curling out of their hats or visors.

• Watson, with his camouflage pants, could have been taking a page out of Oregon Ducks football coach Chip Kelly's playbook.

I'd like to see Kelly come out this season with a new version of his trademark visor - going from white to camouflage.

• I'm really looking forward to the first Umpqua Bank Challenge, as host Peter Jacobsen recaptures some of the flavor and fun of his former event, the Fred Meyer Challenge.

A tip of the cap to the corporate sponsors who have come forward for this tournament, in spite of the economic climate.

The Umpqua Bank Challenge is Aug. 28-30 at Portland Golf Club. For anyone who likes golf, in my opinion, it's a must-see event.