Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tiger Woods wins Chevron

                                                Allan Henry/ USPresswire
A year ago I wrote a post called “Will Tiger Win Chevron” and he almost did.  If it were not for the phenomenal putting of Graham McDowell, Tiger would have won the Chevron World Challenge in 2010.  However, it was not his time; his game was not yet ready to win.  In March of this year I wrote another post called “When will Tiger Woods Win again”?  Well that was answered today as he beat out Zach Johnson to win the 2011 Chevron World Challenge.
I know we do not need stop the presses and announce to the world that Tiger is back.  However, I think the golf world has got to stop and take notice.  Even though this was not a full field event there were plenty of good players in the mix to validate this win.  The real test will come next season when he has to face the top players in the world on the grandest stage of all, major championship golf.  I would be willing to bet he will walk onto the practice ground in 2012 with a little more swagger.  I also bet the other players will take more notice as well.
The difference in Tigers game at this event in my opinion from 2010 to 2011 was three things.  First, he has control of his golf ball again.  At Chevron today he was hitting golf shots that he was visualizing.  He was controlling his ball flight, trajectory and distance.  Second, he drove the ball pretty well and kept it in play.  Thanks to the return of the “Stinger”, a shot Tiger made famous in his career.  The Stinger gives him the ability to hit fairways in a controlled manner, with very little risk.  One could argue that he stopped hitting the Stinger over the past few years because of his left knee.  Anyone that has ever tried to hit a knockdown shot with a long iron knows the tremendous pressure that you put on your leading leg.  In Tigers case since he plays right handed his left leg is the leading leg.  Now that his knee is healed from the surgery the Stinger shot is back and he can practice it.  The final difference in his performance is his putting.  He is making putts again when they matter.  He is making putts to save par, to get up and down and to win.  That is what he did today when he birdied the final two holes when it mattered and he won.
Although I have never really rooted for Tiger Woods I do enjoy watching him play.  As a golf fan he is fun to watch because he as the ability to do things on the golf course that very few ever will.  He has the ability at times it seems to will the golf ball into the hole.  That is special, rare and fun to watch.  So, if nothing else this win will make the start of the 2012 season pretty exciting and will make watching golf fun again.  After all, who can make the game as fun and exciting as Tiger Woods?  The answer is no one and for that reason alone the win today at Chevron was a great “W” as Tiger would say.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Seeing the Line

Source; lockedinputting.com
I had a rare experience on the golf course last weekend which leads me to this post “Seeing the Line”.  I somehow managed to shoot a record low five under par 31 on the back nine of Saturdays round.  I have only ever made five birdies in a round a few times but never in a nine hole stretch.  This comes after I managed to shoot a less than impressive forty two on the front nine.  Given the weather conditions around here this time of the year I was not all that disappointed with the score on the front.  The fairways and greens are soft and wet, we had a consistent breeze and the greens are bumpy from fall aeration.  However, given it is late November we are just happy to be playing.

After the round one of my fellow players asked me what the difference was on the back nine.  At the time I stated that I had more looks at birdie on the back than I did on the front.  On the front nine I could not get the ball on the green in regulation, so very few birdie putts.  Consequently, this lead to a bunch of bogeys as I was unable to get up and down for par.  I was striking the ball great but my chipping was horrendous.  So, like a lot of amateurs I squandered shot after shot with poor chipping.

However, after having some time to reflect on the round I came to the realization that the difference on the back nine was that I saw the line.  This usually happens to me a few times each season but it is pretty rare.  Allow me to explain what I mean by seeing the line.  When I line up a putt I have a standard routine like most people.  I get directly behind the ball and do the best to read the break, usually plumb bob the line and get an understanding and feel for the speed.  When I get over the ball, I line up my putt for the ball to travel on the intended line I have selected and attempt to roll the ball on that line.  On most days I make some putts and miss some others.  However, once in a while I see the line and nothing else.  I get the sensation while reading the putt that I cannot miss.  When I get over the putt, my focus narrows, everything else around me seems to silence and I get the feeling that the putt is going in.  I focus solely on holing the putt and not missing.  I do not concern myself with hitting it too hard, too easy or that I have misread the putt.  I trust my feel, touch and read, then release the putter head.

That is what happened to me on Saturday’s round on the back nine.  I wish I knew how to harness the feeling or call upon it at will.  I guess the lesson I can take from this weekend is that I should try and apply that focus, routine, concentration and confidence every time I stand over a putt.  Perhaps that will be one of my primary putting goals for next year.

What do you do in your putting routine to see the line? 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tiger vs. Stevie Part 2

Source; AP

In my previous post I talked about the Tiger versus Stevie breakup from Tigers perspective.  This time I thought I would try and understand the motives and actions of Stevie Williams from his perspective.  The primary difference from Stevie’s perspective is that he did not initiate the breakup, he was on the receiving end.  Like most long term relationships that suddenly end the person on the receiving end is usually angry and bitter.  That was certainly true in this case.  Stevie’s actions and comments on the 18th green at Firestone after his win with Adam Scott was indicative of that.  As a reminder here are Stevie’s comments after the Scott win.
"I have been caddying for more than 30 years now. I have won 145 times and that is the best win of my life," Williams said afterwards. "A lot has been said this week and it is great to back it up. I back myself as a frontrunner as a caddie and I have won again."
It is pretty obvious to anyone that follows golf that the comments were made in anger.  After all he won many major titles while on the bag of Tiger Woods along with a lot of World Golf Championship events.  These are no small achievements.
Although I must say I cannot blame him for his anger and disgust.  He stood by Tiger through Tiger’s most difficult times not only professionally but personally.  Stevie was asked repeatedly about his knowledge of Tigers affairs and he stated time and again that he had no knowledge.  Not to mention Tiger and Stevie were close friends by all accounts which had to add to the hurt.
In the end however, I think Stevie needs to let this go and accept Tigers decision.  After all, Williams made a lot of money over the years due to Woods’ success on the golf course.  I think it would be easy to say he made in excess of $10 million from that relationship.  Not a bad deal for carrying a set of golf clubs around the world’s most beautiful courses while witnessing some of the best golf every played. 
So, if I am Stevie Williams I move on to a new chapter in my life.  Let bygones be bygones and find success with a new player.  He seems to have done that with Adam Scott.  He had a great run with one of the greatest payers of all time and reaped the rewards from his work.  Lastly, Stevie needs to avoid the camera, spotlight and interview requests.  Leave that up to your player and do not fall into the trap that media is leading you into.  He should know by now that there are cameras and microphones everywhere.  Especially in any golf related events.
In the end,  I do not know if Tiger was right or wrong in his decision to let Williams go.  Nor, do I necessarily blame Williams for his anger and disgust.  What I do know is that the world of golf needs to see Tiger Woods playing great golf again and Stevie needs to go back to being a great caddy for Adam Scott.  Hopefully this handshake solidifies the end to this working relationship and begins the mending process of two of golf’s great characters.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tiger vs. Stevie

Source; Getty Images

Wow, what a soap opera the Tiger vs. Stevie show has become.  How is it possible that a partnership that worked so well for so many years could end up like this?  No one really knows what Tigers Woods’ motive was in the first place to replace Stevie.  Some have suggested that Stevie knew a little more than he let on about Tiger’s personal affairs.  Others suggest that Tiger wanted a fresh start and canned everyone including his Management Company, Swing Coach and Caddie.  Only Tiger knows his real motives.  Stevie on the other hand made a lot of cash from carrying Tiger’s bag over the years.   We do not know exactly what Tiger paid him; however, the standard pay for caddies on the PGA Tour is 7% for the week and 10% should the player win that week.   Even if Stevie was paid under the standard rate, he still made some big bucks during his years with Tiger.  So, why the break up and why all the controversy ever since?
I thought I would try and understand it from the perspective of both Tiger and Stevie.  Let’s start with Tiger since he is the one who initiated the break up.  I have decided to make this a two post series.  In this post I will focus on the Tiger Woods perspective.  Check back soon for my perspective on Stevie.
If I am Tiger Woods, one of the greatest players of all time, why do I fire my caddy?  Why do I get rid of a very close confidante and friend like Stevie Williams?  Not only did Stevie stick with Tiger through the entire “Tiger Slam,” but he was also a great caddy.  Do I fire him as a first step to clean the slate and start anew professionally?  Do I fire him because I want to distance myself from all the memories associated with a previous life?  Does he know some things about my past that I do not want disclosed?  Is it possible that there was a pre-nup between caddy and player?   Seriously, could it be possible that Tiger’s contract with Stevie prevents Stevie from disclosing anything he knows about Tiger’s personal affairs?  After all, how much could Tiger hide from a guy like Stevie?  They shared a lot of time together on the road, in planes, hotels, etc. 
Ok, enough of the conspiracy theory.  Perhaps it was as simple as Tiger saying enough is enough, I am cleaning house and starting over.   I am replacing everyone around me that is related to golf and my professional life.  I want no more reminders of the past and want to begin phase two of my life, Tiger Woods 2.0.
Only Tiger and Stevie know what truly happened and perhaps it will never come out to the public.  It may well be that Tiger’s lawyers have Stevie so tied to a contract that we will never know.  Only time will tell.
I hope this drama has come to an end so that we can get back to golf, but I fear we will hear more in the years to come from these two.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Feherty Show

Source: golfchannel.com
When I first heard that David Feherty was going to have his own show on the Golf Channel I was a bit surprised.  I really did not think we could pull it off.  However, I was impressed and really enjoyed his list of guests. 

It is rare these days to see Lee Trevino in an interview setting.  He has more or less faded from the professional “golf scene”.  As one of the great players in the history of professional golf it is interesting to hear his take on Tiger Woods or the state of the game today.  There will come a day when we will no longer be able to see an interview with players like Trevino, Player, Palmer or Nicklaus and that will be a shame.  The same goes for his interview with Tom Watson.  What a golfing icon he is and he still has serious game. 
Another episode I really enjoyed was the Greg Norman interview.  I always enjoyed watching Norman as a competitor and it is good to see him excel in his business endeavors.  After seeing his sprawling Colorado Ranch we all realize what a different world he lives in.  Feherty’s comment that it took him 45 minutes to get to Greg’s ranch after he found the driveway was hilarious.
It was obvious that David Feherty had to make a few phone calls to get the show off the ground but it was worth it.  I am not a big fan of reality TV and the only show I TiVo is Big Break.  So, it was refreshing to have another golf program to watch that was interesting and fun.  I am looking forward to a new season should the show get renewed.  It will be interesting to see who his guests next year are.  There is a rumor that former President Bill Clinton wants to be a guest.  There is no doubt that will lead to some interesting questioning from Feherty. 
In my opinion, the Feherty Show is the best interview program on the Golf Channel since Golf Talk Live with Peter Kessler.    Let’s face it most golf talk shows are quite boring and pretty repetitive.  It was fun to watch an interview style program that had some character and humor.  We all knew that Feherty would not ask the standard interview questions and he did not disappoint. 
Feherty is a one of a kind figure in the world of televised golf programming.  His style is unique and unpredictable.  Part of his charm is you do not know what he is going to say next.  I have no doubt he hears voices in his head that most people don’t.  After all, who else would talk to an electric chicken named Frank?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stroke Play Strategy

As a follow up to my post about Match Play Strategy I mentioned I would write a similar post on my Stroke Play Strategy.  Here are some bullet points I refer to prior to playing a stroke play round.  I also keep them in mind throughout the round to stay focused on my goal of shooting the lowest score possible.  I know this should always be the goal but sometimes I lose sight of it.
  • Hit fairways and greens- it is a simple concept but difficult to do sometimes.  However, in stroke play it is critical to shooting a good score.
  • Par is always a good score, 18 pars is never a bad thing- I focus on this because it can be hard to play conservatively at times. 
  • Stay patient- do not get ahead of yourself especially if you get into trouble on a hole.  Slowing down and making a good decision can be the difference in saving par versus making a bogey. 
  • Everyone is playing the same golf course- no matter how difficult the conditions are, everyone will face the same challenges on the course.
  • If you get into trouble, get out, do not be a hero- oftentimes your total score can hinge on a single hole.  If you find yourself in trouble get out, take your medicine and move on.  Do not ruin a good round on a single hole.
  • Take no more than a bogey-  a bogey can be recovered with a birdie but “other scores” are tough to come back from.
  • Go ahead and release the club, do not play tight- hit the shot and accept the result, your practice and preparation will pay off here.
  • SLOW DOWN- this is especially important in making decisions or when trying to get out of trouble.  I struggle with this one all the time.
  • When nervous take deep breaths and more practice swings- I have found this to have a calming effect.  It will keep you loose and allow for a more relaxed swing.
  • Do not hit the shot until ready- the way I like to think about this is that I only have one opportunity to hit this shot my entire life.  It sounds dramatic but it helps me to put it into perspective.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sucking it up in a Stroke Play Tournament

I recently tried to qualify for the Pennsylvania State Mid Amateur Championship which is being held later this month in Williamsport, PA.  The Mid AM is for players over the age of 25 and that have a handicap index less than 7.4.  I chose to enter the qualifier this year for three reasons.  First, I prefer to play competitive golf over social golf.  Second, the qualifier was held at Sunnehanna Country Club in my hometown.  Third, I wanted to test my game under pressure to see what I need to work on for the remainder of this year and next.  There is no better way to test your game and nerves than by playing competitive stroke play golf.  Unlike team sports you are out there on your own with no one else to blame and nowhere to hide.
The start of the event was delayed by two hours due to heavy fog.  So, after we warmed up we had a nice long wait before we teed off.   Any time I play stroke play in qualifiers I try and handicap the field to know what I need to shoot to make the cut.  In this case I was thinking 78 or 79 would make the cut and advance to Williamsport.  So, all I had to do is play reasonable well and I would get through.
Well, my plans were altered on the first hole as I had “one of those starts”.  Without reliving the events of the entire hole (in an effort to keep my sanity) lets pick up the action on my fourth shot from the greenside bunker.  The first hole is a par four and yes, I was laying four in the greenside bunker, not good.  The sand conditions at the course that day were heavy and wet due to the morning fog.  So, I tried to pick the ball a little cleaner than normal (hit closer to the ball) and harder since the ball was about sixty feet to the hole.  This is where the terror began, as I bladed the ball over the green, down the hill and into the woods.  I found myself with my ball against a rock, in thick trees on an uphill slope.  After a few whacks in the woods, a poor chip shot and two putts I walked off the green with a double digit score.  It was the highest score I have made on a golf hole since I was eight or ten years old.  Needless to say I was very disappointed and just a little angry at myself.
After that debacle I knew I was going to have to grind to post a respectable score and not embarrass myself any further.  I could have easily threw in the towel and gave up or not posted my score.  However, neither is my style.  So, I buckled down and fought all day to shoot in the mid eighties.  That was certainly not my plan at the start of the round.  However, I was proud of my effort, patience and stick to it ness.  I kept telling myself all day that every one that plays the game competitively has one of “those moments” at some point.
In the end, I hung in there, played my hardest on every shot and never gave up.  It was not my best performance by any means but I am proud of the effort I gave.  In stroke play golf every shot counts so whether you play well or poorly the scorecard does not lie.
What do you do to stay focused and positive in stroke play tournaments?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who will win the 93rd PGA Championship

Atlanta Athletic Club website

Who will win the 93rd PGA Championship this week at the Atlanta Athletic Club?  I cannot remember the last time I was so excited to watch the PGA.  There are a lot of great story lines leading into this event that it already has the feeling of being a great one.  Just consider what has happened in the game since last year’s PGA Championship when Martin Kaymer won his first major and DJ had the most unfortunate ending, losing out on his first chance to compete in the playoff.
Let's begin by looking back at last week’s “Caddiegate” episode with Steve Williams in his post- round interview on the 18th green with CBS.  He made an obvious dig at Tiger and you really cannot blame the guy for the pent up frustration.  Can you imagine if Adam Scott and Tiger are paired together this week?  Now, that will make for some exciting TV.
With Irishmen Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy winning the past two majors, will they contend this week for another major?  Of course we cannot forget another Irishmen, McDowell, who can play well in any big tournament.  Paddy Harrington also cannot be overlooked this week; he could show up and be the third Irishmen to win a major this year. 
Serious consideration also needs to be given to numbers one and two in the world; Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.  They both seem poised to win their first major and they've got to be feeling the pressure.  Every time they go into the press room at a major they are asked about winning a big one.
Tiger Woods - what else do you need to say?  He is coming off of his first start since returning from injury.  Oh yeah, plus the “Caddiegate” drama I mentioned earlier.   He can win anytime, anywhere. We all know that.
Phil Mickelson has to be a favorite this week for three reasons.  First, the primary rough will be cut shorter than it was in 2001 when Lefty almost won this event.  That will favor his tendency to hit the occasional wayward drive.  Second, the word is that the greens are really firm with this new grass so his high ball flight will be an advantage for him.  Finally, he almost won this event in 2001, the last time it was played here.
Adam Scott has to also be considered a favorite coming into the PGA after winning his first WGC event last week.  However, I believe we will see a letdown from Scott this week.  Between the emotional win last week and dealing with Caddiegate questions from the media I think he may be a little worn down.
Lastly, we cannot overlook all of the young guns on tour playing well.  Remember last week at Firestone how well Jason Day and Ryo Ishikawa played?  Also, Schwartzel put on a great performance at The Masters in April.
Who do you think is going to contend at the PGA this week?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Match Play Strategy

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be a finalist in my Club’s 2011 Championship Match.  With a lot of practice and a little luck along the way, I defended my 2010 title and won the event.
At our club, the qualifying rounds are played under stroke play format.  From there, the low eight scores move into the championship flight.  Three rounds of match play determine the winner.  I love match play, probably because it reminds me of my junior and high school golf days.  I’ve developed a strategy over the years for match play that I thought I would share in this post.  For anyone who has ever played match play golf under pressure, you might realize that that pressure you put on yourself to win each hole can disrupt your focus and strategy.  I have found this to be true in my own game, especially when I am down in the match or am struggling with my game.  
  • Par, Par, Par – meaning, make as many pars as possible; force the other player to beat you.  Do not beat yourself.  If you make a bunch of pars during the round, you will most likely win.
  • Play your own game – do not get distracted by your opponent’s play; stick to your own strategy.  You can watch what they do and react accordingly, however, do not be obsessed by it.
  • Rhythm 1, 2, 3 – this is a good drill to stay loose and not get too rushed.  Stick to a good rhythm and swing smoothly, especially as the round goes on.  Remember -- loose golf equals good golf.
  • Always leave a putt to win or tie the hole- one of the things that I love about match play is that you can turn a hole or an entire match around with a single stroke.  Many players panic and think they need to do something outstanding to get back into a hole or to win it.  Do not fall into that trap; get the ball on the green and try and sink a putt.  Also leave the putt back up the hill whenever possible, because it is easier to be aggressive when putting uphill.
  • Be patient early; the best golf is on the back- even if you are down early in the match or if you are not playing well, remind yourself that the best golf is still yet to come.  You will almost always play better on the back nine as you get loose and become comfortable in the round. Even if you are down on the front nine, you can stage a comeback on the back nine and win.  Don’t mentally defeat yourself too early. Remember Tiger Woods in the US Amateur?  I think he was down early in every final match and came back to win.
  • Remain confident to win- never lose confidence that you can win.  No matter how far down you are, stay calm and remain confident that you can win.  As long as there are holes left to play, you have a chance to come back.  You may suddenly start paying better or your opponent may start to struggle.
  • More practice swings- I always like to take more practice swings during a competitive match, especially on the short shots.  Since every shot has more at stake, make sure that you are completely ready to play the stroke before pulling the trigger.
  • Deep Breadths – sounds like a cliché, but it works.
I have a similar list for stroke play events that I’ll share in a future post.
What strategies do you use to win match play events?  Post a comment with your tips!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The warm up routine of Miguel Angel Jimenez

Last week in the 2011 British Open Championship at Royal St George’s Miguel Angel Jimenez from Spain offered up one of the funniest moments in golf this year.   Miguel Angel Jimenez aka "The Mechanic" (see my post of Golfers nicknames) from Spain is know for several things.  Besides being a great player he enjoys red wine and cigars.  He is very open about that and the noted cigar was present in this scene.  In the past I have written a post called “Where Have All of the Characters Gone?”  Well Miguel stepped to the plate and delivered on my request.  This Youtube Video Clip needs no commentary by me.  Watch and enjoy for yourself and a good laugh.

source; Youtube

Monday, July 18, 2011

Darren Clarke wins the British Open

source; BBC

Darren Clarke won the 2011 British Open Championship on Sunday at Royal St George’s in England.  Here in the USA we still call it the British Open whereas, the rest of the world calls it the Open Championship.  Clarke outlasted long hitting Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.  I know many of the pundits were surprised to see Clarke finally win a major championship.  I am not considering his track record and career success.  Admittedly, he said the links style golf at the British Open obviously favored his game.  After all, Clarke grew up playing links golf in Ireland where he once again resides.  Another factor to consider in the win is that Clarke is very good in match play situations.  If you recall he beat Tiger Woods in the Match Play Championship in 2000 at La Costa in San Diego.  As we are all reminded that was Tigers great year when he won just about everything including the US Open by twelve shots.  Sundays final round was similar to a match play event.  Given the weather and difficulty of the golf course Clarke did not need to shoot a crazy low number to win.  He simply needed to keep pace with the field and let them make mistakes.  Since they were chasing him they needed to play more aggressively and take risks.  That was a difficult golf course to have to play aggressively.
Another amazing fact to me is how many wins the Irish have had in the past few years.  Padraig Harrington got it all started a few years ago with his Open Championship win.  It was most recently followed up by other major wins from McDowell, McIlroy and now Clarke.  It is incredible how such a little country has produced so many major winners in such a short span of time.  As I discussed in my last post “who is the best young, American golfer” it is not surprising to see another major won by a non American.  However, it was great to see Fowler, Kim and Johnson make a charge especially given the weather conditions.  They could have very easily have mailed it in and moved on to the next event but they didn’t.  They hung in there and fought hard to win as did Phil the Thrill.
Darren Clarke comes across as a regular guy.  Over the weekend in one of his interviews he made the comment that he was a regular guy who liked to share a pint.   I have no doubt he will be a popular champion and I am hoping the win will propel him to play more events in the US.  You have to pull for a guy who always seems happy and has a smile on his face.  It was Clarkes time to win the Open Championship and it is well deserved.  He now holds the record for the most appearances before a win (twenty).  The record was previously held by Nick Price who played the event fifteen times before winning. 
Do you think Clarke will win another major or is this it for him?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Who is the best young American Golfer? That seems to be the topic of discussion every week now on the PGA Tour. Every talking head on TV seems to have an opinion as to why there are no dominant young American Golfers in the game today. The loss of Tiger as a major force in golf has left the media searching for an American player that can replace him. They simply cannot understand how or why the PGA Tour does not have a young dominant American Player.

Since the Tiger “Slam” crash in 2009 many players have been heralded with the title the next great American player. It first began with the veterans like Mickelson, Furyk and Toms but quickly shifted to the younger stars like Glover, Mahan and Johnson. Many others had the same label such as; Anthony Kim, JB Holmes, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler and most recently, Nick Watney.

So, why does America not have more young great players? With a population of 300 million people we should be overflowing with great talent. South Africa which has a population of 49 million has produced two major champions in the past year; Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. Northern Ireland which has a population of 4.5 million has also produced two major champions in the past year; Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy. So, why the lack of major wins for the young Americans? I have a theory about that down below. I do not think we lack talent or great players. I think we lack talented great players that can win at the highest level of the game, i.e. majors on a regular basis.

The media constantly reminds us that the United States is a great training ground for young golfers. Most great young amateur players have everything a player could want in order to have a successful career. They have great golf courses to play, world class instruction, state of the art equipment, fitness facilities, perfect weather and intense competition. In America, we have great junior, high school and college golf programs as well. I believe the one thing many great, young players lack is the intense drive to win. Allow me to explain. I believe that adversity and difficulty in life build character. This adversity and difficulty can drive a person to succeed. Without it you sometimes do not know have the burning desire to do whatever it takes to dominate. I am not saying that the young American players mentioned above do not have the killer instinct. Nor am I saying that the young foreign born players that have won major championships do. I do not know them personally so cannot say. I do believe that golfers that come from a wealthy background may lack the desire and drive to win. Who do you think has more motivation to dominate, Angel Cabrera who grew up in a house with a dirt floor? Or, a kid from a wealthy family who plays golf everyday year round and belongs to three different country clubs? So, if you are a great, young player that has everything you have ever wanted handed to you, then you may lack the killer instinct required to dominate. I have a second theory and will discuss it in another post and it has to do with the money in the game today.

I have been watching the new Feherty program on the Golf Channel and in his first episode he had Lee Trevino as his guest. David Feherty asked Lee Trevino who he looked up to as a young player. Trevino’s answer was “nobody” because they were so focused on existing from day to day they did not have that luxury. Do you think Trevino was motivated to succeed once given the opportunity?

Why do you think there are not more dominant, young, American golfers?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rory McIlroy wins the US Open, not a surprise

source; Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

It has been several days since Rory McIlroy stunned the world with his record breaking victory at the 2011 US Open at Congressional Country Club. I say surprising not that he won. Rather, they way he blew away the field, ala Tiger in 2000. Far be it from me to analyze his performance or the records he set. As usual I will let that up to the experts who do it for a living every day.

I have to recount a phone conversation I had with my brother just after the Tiger Woods accident in November 2009.  Like all other golfers we were discussing the Tiger Slam, errrrrrrr crash and who would benefit from Tigers absence on the Professional Golf scene. He asked me who I thought would benefit the most and I told him Rory McIlroy, while he picked Phil Mickelson. He thought Phil would benefit the most because of the fanfare. Given Phil’s life situation at the time and his connection with the fans he felt Phil had the most to gain.

He wanted to know why I thought Rory McIlroy would benefit the most. First, I told him that I believed that Rory had that something special that you see in very few players. He had that extra gear that most pros do not have and cannot call on at will. We all know what that extra gear looks like as Jack and Tiger have displayed it many times in competition. Very few players can command more from their game at precisely the right moment, under pressure to win golf tournaments. Not to take anything away from the other tour players, it is just there are those special few who can take their game up a notch in majors. In my opinion, Rory is in that category. I am NOT comparing him to Tiger and Jack, all I am saying is that he has the extra gear and we saw it at Congressional.

Second, I felt that with Tiger off the tour for awhile young players like Rory would have the opportunity to grow. They would have the opportunity to win more often, gain confidence and establish themselves as champions. We all remember how intimidating Tiger was in major championships to proven tour players, let along young guys like Rory. Much of winning at the highest level is confidence and a certain swagger. You need to believe in yourself, your game and your ability to win on the back nine of a major.

Finally, I felt that Rory has an incredible golf swing, great short game and flowing putting stroke. Now, one can argue that many players have those same qualities and I would agree to a certain point. The difference is that Rory brings that game to the course just about every time he plays. Most players are “on” any given week in one or two of those three areas but not all three.

So, where does Rory go from here? Only time will tell. I am sure like most major champions he will be burdened with press obligations, hounded by fans, hire a new swing coach, get new equipment and be travel weary for the next year. I hope that does not happen. I hope he comes out at the Open Championship next month, puts himself in a position to win and we get a chance to see that young, great talent compete once again for a major.

With all that talent, much less pressure and tremendous confidence, it is going to be fun to watch Rory the rest of his career.

How do you think Rory will do going forward?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Watching the US Open

                                   Source www.veteranticketsfoundation.org

The US Open begins this week at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda Maryland. For Americans this is our National Championship, our oldest running competitive golf event and holds special meaning to us. I love to watch the US Open because it is a unique event in golf. Not to take anything away from the Open Championship played in Great Britain. For most American Golfers it is difficult for us to relate to the style of golf played across the pond. I have had the opportunity to attend several US Opens in person, both men’s and women’s and they are a fantastic golf event to see live.

Here are some of the reason I love to watch the US Open on TV, in person and now on the Internet;

• The US Open tests the players like no other championship. Every aspect of their game is challenged and exposed throughout the championship

• As spectators we get a chance to see some of the great golf courses our country has to offer in perfect shape and splendid color. Since most of the US Open sites are played on private golf courses this is our only chance to see them

• The Championship is a true test of golf, not a driver wedge event like some many PGA tour stops

• We get a chance to see the players struggle like the rest of us. Most weeks on tour you do not see the pros three putt, hit shots fifty yards out of the rough, make triple bogey’s and so on.

• Leading up to the Championship I enjoy watching all of the coverage of the event by the experts. You get detailed analysis about the players, course, history, injuries

• In recent years we have seen some classic Phil Mickelson dramatics at the end of the US Open, they usually come on the back nine on Sunday. Let’s see what Phil the Thrill has in store for us this week

• There are usually a few “no name” players and international players that pop up on the leader board throughout the event. It gives us a chance to see players that we normally do not see on the PGA tour

• The US Open is the only major that has an 18 hole playoff should two or more players be tied after play on the final round. Remember Tiger and Rocco at Torrey Pines? Or, Ernie, Monty and Loren Roberts at Oakmont

• The US Open produces so many great memories and shots in the history of the game. Who can forget Watson’s chip in at Pebble, TC Chen’s double hit at Oakland Hills, Corey Pavin’s 5 Wood at Shinnecock, Tigers blowout victory at Pebble, Lee Trevino throwing the toy snake at Nicklaus at Medina. The list goes on and on, feel free to add your own in the comment section

• Last but not least Johnny Millers 63 in the final round of the 1973 Open at Oakmont. Not to mention that he gets choked up every year as he talks about the US Open and usually sheds a tear while doing the telecast

So, let’s gear up for another exciting US Open and see what drama unfolds this week on another classic American golf course

What do you like about watching the US Open, leave a comment.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2011 Sunnehanna Amateur

                                                          source; sunnehanna.com

The 2011 Sunnehanna Amateur begins this week in Johnstown, PA. The Sunnehanna Country Club is a hidden gem in this part of the country. The club opened in 1923 and was originally design by famed architect A.W. Tillinghast. Tillinghast designed many famous golf courses including current US Open Sites; Bethpage Black on Long Island, Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower and Upper Courses), and Winged Foot (East and West Course).

The Sunnehanna Amateur, which has been held annually since the mid 1950s, is one of the Premiere Amateur Golf events in the United States today. However, most people have never heard of the event because it does not get national attention such as the US Amateur or US Public Links Championships, both USGA events. Instead, the Sunnehanna Amateur is an invitational that attracts the top amateurs from around the country. The event is played over three days for 72 holes. The guys play 18, 36, 18 from Friday to Sunday.

I attended the event on several occasions, as Johnstown is my hometown. I had the opportunity to watch Phil Mickelson play there when he was a junior at ASU. Back then he had the flipped-up collar and was much thinner. I remember two things about that round. First, Phil was extremely long as an amateur, using the old Yonex Composite Woods. Second, he carried doglegs and trees that I did not think were humanly possible. In the early 90s, I also had the opportunity to watch Allen Doyle make eagle on the par 4 8th hole. My dad and I had just arrived at the course when we stopped to watch Allen hit his approach. The ball hit pin high, spun left down the hill and into the jar. Allen won the event four times then went on to win on the Champions Tour. Another notable amateur from Pennsylvania that won the event several times was Jay Siegel.

Other winners of the event over the years were Don Cherry, Tommy Aaron, Leonard Thompson, Howard Twitty, Ben Crenshaw, John Cook, Bobby Clampett, Brad Faxon, Scott Verplank, Billy Andrade, Lucas Glover, Web Simpson, and most recently Ricky Fowler who won in back to back years.

In case you are wondering if Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods played in the event, the answer is yes. Other popular players included Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Hal Sutton, Bob Tway and so on.

If you ever have the chance to watch the Sunnehanna Amateur, I recommend it. If history holds true, you will likely see some future tour winners and major champions. The event is always held in early to mid June. Another interesting thing to do is walk around the historic clubhouse and see all the photos and memorabilia and take in the rich, deep history this special club.

I’ve played the course several times and it’s fantastic. The greens are perfectly manicured and fast, and the course design is challenging. It’s been a few years since I’ve last played there, but I’ll have the chance again in a few weeks when Sunnehanna hosts the qualifier for the Pennsylvania Mid Amateur.


Friday, June 3, 2011

My wife came to me recently, asking about golf etiquette as it relates to business.

“If you invite a business client to golf and you’re playing a lot better than him, do you fudge a few shots so that you don’t embarrass him, or do you play your best to impress him?”

Golf Etiquette has a long history and is an integral part of the game. Traditionally, etiquette on the golf course is a learned behavior from simply being around the game for many years. I haven’t seen too many books or instructional videos on the concept.

I define etiquette on the golf course as a behavior that respects yourself, the golf course, your fellow players, and the history of the game. Like any sport, the game of golf is always attracting new players. Most beginning golfers, and even some who have been around the game for a while, never had the opportunity to learn the unwritten rules of etiquette that most seasoned players expect on the course. Most golf or pro shops don’t teach you etiquette when you buy a set of golf clubs for the first time. So, if you are new to the sport, take the time to learn the basics about golf etiquette before you hit the links.

Here are a few basics to golf etiquette

Before teeing off:

• Turn off the ringer on your cell phone or don’t bring it onto the course.

• If you do bring your phone, be mindful of talking, texting, taking pictures and tweeting, which can annoy and break the concentration of your fellow players.

• Remind yourself to play by the rules. Golf has a lot of them, so become familiar with at least the basic rules of play.

At the tee box:

Play by who has the honor system. Whoever has the honor gets to tee off first and the next lowest score goes second and so on.

In the fairway and approaching the green:

• Drive the golf carts in intended areas only; follow the signs!

• Replace your divots.

• Watch where you stand when a fellow player is about to play a shot. It is best to give them space and stand behind their plane of view.

• Do not talk, shout, yell or clap while a fellow player is hitting a shot.

• Keep up a steady pace. Don’t backup the course; keep play moving.

• If your ball travels to an unknown destination or towards another player- for their safety and your wallet - yell FOUR!

In a bunker:

• Rake the sand traps after hitting your shot.

• Knock the sand off of your shoes after hitting your bunker shot and before walking onto the green.

On the green:

• If your ball landed hard on the green, fix your ball mark. There are right and wrong ways to fix the mark. The best way is to insert your repair tool at the edge of the mark and pull toward its center to try to lift up the depressed turf, then tap down on the repaired area with your putter to make the putting surface even.

• Do not walk across the putting line of your fellow players on the green.

• If it’s a sunny day, be mindful of your shadow, not letting it fall across the putting line of your fellow players.

• Remember to tend the flag if requested, if asked or pull the flag when you fellow player is on the green.

After the round:

• After the round you should remove your hat, look your fellow players in the eye and shake their hands.

• If you used a caddie, it is customary to shake their hand as well.

Please leave a comment with some other golf etiquette tips.

source; lifestyle.resourcesforattorneys.com

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dustin Johnson chooses Joe LaCava as new caddie

Dustin Johnson announced this week at the HP Byron Nelson tournament that Joe LaCava will be his new full time caddie. Joe is one of the more famous caddies in the world of professional golf as he was the long time caddie for veteran golfer Fred Couples. Now that Fred is on the Senior Tour and playing a limited schedule due to continuous back issues, it was probably a good time to make the switch for LaCava. Fred and Joe have been one of the more famous player/caddie duos in the world of professional golf over the past twenty years. Because of that Joe LaCava has become synonymous with Professional Golf.

I think this is a great move for both Dustin and Joe. Dustin gets one of the best caddies in the world and Joe gets to work on the bag of a young, rising star on the PGA Tour. As Dustin is a young, rising star on tour, you have to think that having a veteran caddie on the bag like LaCava is going to benefit him tremendously. Not only does LaCava know most of the golf courses the Tour plays, he is used to working on the bag of a champion. While working with Fred Couples, LaCava won many golf tournaments including the Masters. Joe is an experienced caddie who knows the game, how to manage his player and is experienced in winning golf tournaments.

I already know what you are thinking. The caddie is not hitting the shots coming down the stretch trying to win a golf tournament so, how is he involved in winning. I say this because the caddies are trying to win the event just as the players are. They know if they provide a poor read on the greens or give a bad yardage it will impact the outcome. Should they make a mistake in the heat of the moment they will get their fair share of the blame should the player lose. Also, most Tour players reward their caddies with 10% of the purse when they win or 7% for weeks when they do not win. So, there is a financial impact on the caddie as well as, the player. With this said, having LaCava is only going to help develop Johnson and provide him with an experienced “Looper” who can help him develop as a player and win more often.

Over the years, there have been a few other notable player/caddie partnerships on tour. A few that come to mind are; Greg Norman and Tony Navarro, Phil Mickelson and Jim “Bones” MacKay, Jim Furyk and Mike “Fluff” Cowan, Tiger Woods and “Stevie”, Tom Watson and Bruce Edwards, Nick Faldo and Fanny Sunneson, Tom Lehman and Andy Martinez just to name a few.

You may also want to read my post in August of last year titled “The Caddy”.

How important do you think the caddie is? Who are some other famous player/caddie relationships can you think of?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Seve Ballesteros

It is well known by now that Seve Ballesteros passed away last weekend at the age of 54 from Brain Cancer. It is sad to see anyone die at such a young age and for us golfers it is especially hard when a legend of the game leaves us so young. For those of us who have followed golf for the past thirty years, we remember the excitement, passion, energy and dare I say, artistry that Seve brought to the game.

I n “Where Have the Characters Gone,” I wrote that that in today’s world of high profile, professional golf, there are very few characters; guys like Seve with personality and showmanship. Even if another player was to come along who had the same talent, passion, or excitement for the game, you have to wonder, would they be as expressive? Would they show the same level of emotion? Would they play with the same flair, charisma, or excitement? Will professional golf see a player like Seve again?

I do not purport to be an expert on the life or game of Seve Ballesteros. However, one memory that does come to mind is how he learned to be such a great feel player. I do not remember who asked the question or exactly how Seve answered it, but I will try and paraphrase.

The reporter asked Seve how he became such a great feel player. Seve said that when he was a young man in Spain, he would go to the beach and practice. He would hit balls from the sand without any shoes on to get the feel. He said that by doing this drill it taught him to have balance, establish good footing and stay centered. In golf, this is called playing within yourself. It means finding the game that works for you and your body, and not being a golf robot.

Source: http://www.waggleroom.com/

Golf robots don’t have feel, they don’t have passion, and they don’t show excitement on the course. My opinion is that many of today’s PGA players are too robotic. It not only affects their games, but it also drains the excitement from the game, for both the players and the spectators and fans.

Professional golf needs more feel-players like Seve Ballesteros. I also put Sam Snead and Bubba Watson in this category of great characters. The story has been told many times how Sam Snead learned to hit golf balls with a switch from a tree in the hills of West Virginia. Bubba Watson learned to work the ball by hitting plastic golf balls around his parents’ house as the course.

Maybe in the end, one of the great lessons that Seve leaves us, and his legacy, is the concept of playing the game of golf with feel and passion. Wouldn’t we all be so blessed to have the ability to merge those two traits into our own golf games. If we could, I think we would play much better golf and probably enjoy the game even more as well.

Do you think feel and passion are traits that professional golfers should strive for? Are today’s players too robotic?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mental Toughness in Golf

This post is part one of a two part series on the mental side of golf. Be sure to check back next week for my review of “Master the Mental Game,” by Greg Liberto.

Earlier this week, I played in the 8th R. Jay Sigel Amateur Match Play Championship. Although I lost in the first round, it was an exciting opportunity and a great experience. I was matched against a young man who is a student athlete at the University of Virginia. Playing as a twosome we had plenty of time to speak about the game and competitive golf. I was curious to get his perspective on the college game and some of his experiences. I was surprised to find out that college golfers play in the spring and the fall. Also, because most of these players are very good, they also play in many of the prominent amateur championships during the summer. So, competitive golf is more or less a part time job for these kids.

I asked him what the difference was at the college level between the good players and really good players. He thought for a moment, then stated that there are different reasons for the separation. He said some players have great short games, some are really long off the tee, and some make no mistakes. He continued to think about my question because a few holes later he brought the conversation up again, saying that the main difference is mental toughness. The best players rarely make more than a bogey. Even when they do, they bounce back and redeem themselves with birdie.

I think his answer was a good one. My personal observation is that most amateurs make very few birdies, so they can never truly recover their score when they make a mistake. If you have ever played competitive golf with really good players you learn that very quickly. There are a lot of great ball strikers out there. There are a lot of guys who have great short games or can putt lights out. There are few, however, that do all of those things really well in addition to grinding out pars and overcoming negative thoughts. Or, as Bobby Jones once famously said “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course...the space between your ears”.

When we think of mentally tough golfers in the history of the game, two players come to mind; Tiger and Jack. They have both demonstrated time and again the ability to overcome adverse situations on the golf course. How many times has Tiger Woods made a putt to save a par, or made a birdie to win a golf tournament? How many times did Jack Nicklaus make a putt on the 18th hole? Or, better yet, did he ever miss one?

It is also easy to remember guys who were not mentally tough enough. John Daly comes to mind. He had all the talent in the world but didn’t seem to have the mental toughness to match.

What do you think about the mental side of the game?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

8th R. Jay Sigel Amateur Match Play Championship

The competitive golf season is going to begin early this year. I stopped by our club last month prior to the Doral trip to get a few things and ran into our Head Pro. He informed me that I had been invited to play in the PA State Match Play Championship. I was shocked to say the least and inquired about the event and field. He then dropped the bomb on me saying it was a field consisting of the top fifteen amateurs in the state and me. Me, I said, why me? He said because we are the host site this year for the event and you are the reigning Club Champion. At this point I was a bit shocked and joked, hey; at least it is match play, right?

To top it off the spring this year has not been very cooperative for golf, cold and wet. So, with only a few rounds under the belt and no real practice or short game prep we shall see how it goes. With only nine days until the event I will only get in three rounds of practice at most so I will need to make it pay off. Thankfully, I have this coming Monday off for the holiday and it is going to be warm so I will be able to get some reps in.

The event is named after Jay Sigel one of the greatest amateur golfers in the state’s history. Jay won many USGA events, played on Walker Cups and went on to a successful Champions Tour career.

I have a list of reminders that I follow when I play match pay events to help keep me focused. So, we shall see if that helps against some of the best amateurs around.

Wish me luck I am going to need it.  Either way it will be a great experience and a lot of fun!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

2011 Masters - Rory McIlroy tied for the lead

The first round of The Masters Golf Tournament is in the books and what a day it has been. I watched an unusual amount of Pre-Masters coverage this week and there were plenty of storylines. Mickelson, Woods, Nicklaus got a lot of the headlines. One guy who did not get a lot of attention was Rory McIlroy. Of course, why should he? Although he is a young, talented, exciting player, he has only been to The Masters twice before today. The analysts told us several times this week that the past winners averaged six Masters Tournaments before putting on the Green Jacket. Since this is McIlroy’s third trip it would be unusual to see him win for sure. Of course, another young player won his third time around at Augusta, you may have heard of him – Tiger Woods.

So, will the young lad continue his good play? Will he make a run at winning the 2011 Masters Tournament? Will he wilt under the pressure or hang in there until the back nine on Sunday?

I have no doubt Rory has the talent to win any golf tournament he enters. He has the length, hits the ball way up in the air, and can move the ball on command. He also knows how to make a lot of birdies down the stretch as he proved last year in winning in Charlotte.

However, Augusta National is not your average golf course or tour stop. I know we will see a lot of changes to the course over the next three days as the weather heats up and the Superintendent makes changes to the course layout. Even though he has played many practice rounds and has charted the greens, the one thing he cannot prepare for are the conditions. Has McIlroy ever played the course firm and fast? Has he ever played the course at its full length?

If I were a betting man I would say Rory will play a fairly conservative round tomorrow and will likely shoot a couple under par. From there he will be at or near the lead going into the weekend. That is when we will find out what kind of player he has become. At some point he will face a tough stretch of holes or run into to some problems with his game. How he handles those moments will go a long way in determining his end result this week. He is young and relatively inexperienced at Augusta National. In the two previous years that he has played The Masters, I do not think he has seen the course play firm and fast.

Last December in my post titled 2010 Professional Golf Year in Review; Transition, I stated that Rory would dominate the sport within five years. If he does go on to win this year’s Masters that prediction will certainly be fast tracked. Finally, if he does win, I wonder if he’ll be as excited on the 18th green as he looks in the picture below. He just might.

Do you think Rory will hold on to win?

                                                               Source; Robert Beck/SI

Friday, April 1, 2011

2011 Masters Golf Championship - Predictions

Spring is right around the corner and we golfers are looking forward to it. For most people the sign of spring includes; longer days, the grass turning green or flowers blooming. Not for me, the sign of spring is the Masters commercials on CBS and the Golf Channel. Kind of strange, but once you see the images of Augusta and hear Jim Nantz say “The Masters” you know that golf season is nearby.

This time last year a group of us had the opportunity to go the Monday practice round at the Masters. We wrapped our spring golf trip around the event, if you recall we played Pinehurst and TPC Piper Glen. Needless to say, it was a dream come true as a golf fan to walk the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. Two things struck me throughout the day while we were there. First, how much grass there is on the property. I know I know it is a golf course so there should be a lot of grass. That is not what I am referring to, there is grass everywhere even outside of the course. This is no ordinary grass, it feels different to walk on it and it certainly looks different. You cannot find a weed, dead spot, brown spot or any blemish anywhere on the site. I could not believe it, the place is meticulously kept. The second thing that struck me was how nice everyone was. I was kind of expecting the staff and members to be a little stuck up. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as our day concluded we went to the practice tee to watch a few pros work on their game. The tournament director walked by, stopped and spoke to us for awhile. He could not have been nicer or more welcoming.

Now let’s get on to the predictions for this year’s Masters Golf Tournament. I believe it will be exciting as it always is because of all the young guns playing well right now. As always Tiger, Phil and Angel will be in the mix. However, I am predicting this year’s winner to be Dustin Johnson. My prediction is based upon a few factors. First, Dustin has been close in majors a few times now and is used to the Championship setting. He has felt the pressure, understands the expectations and realizes he needs to be patient. Second, he is VERY long, which is always a big factor in producing the winner at Augusta National. Finally, he has great touch for a big dude and we all know the importance of that at Augusta.

Others I see playing well are Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Bubba Watson. Some of the young guns to watch are Hunter Mahan, Rory McIlroy, Ricky Barnes, Rickie Fowler and Ryan Moore.

Who do you like to win this year’s Masters? Please post a comment with any predictions you would like to share?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Doral Golf Resort & Spa- Golf Course Review

I had the opportunity to visit the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami last week. I was there for our annual guy’s golf trip which we take each spring to kick off the golf season. After a long winter with limited play it is a nice break from the heavy clothes and cold weather.

The Doral Golf Resort and Spa is a full service resort facility. It has newly renovated guest rooms, great restaurants, spa facilities and of course, great golf. The facility is known for the “TPC Blue Monster” as it hosts the WGC Cadillac Championship. The WGC event was held the prior week so the course was still in championship form, the grandstands were still in place and it felt like a tour event. So, it was cool to play the course under those conditions.

TPC Blue Monster –We played the TPC Blue Monster out of the gate on day one. We would have preferred to get a round in before tackling the Blue but tee times did not allow it. As you would expect from a PGA site, it was a great golf course. We played the blue tees which stretched the course to 6701 yards. A forecaddie is required to play the Blue Monster so do not be surprised when they show up on the first tee. With the constant winds that blew the Blue was a tough test after a few months away from the game. There is a great variety of holes on the course and the par threes are quite difficult. Most holes have sand and water or both, so take plenty of balls before tackling the Blue. The golf course has very thick, coarse Bermuda rough throughout. So, you get some very difficult lies off the fairways and around the greens. Finally, it is quite a sight to stand on the 18th tee and look down the fairway. With water all along the left side of the hole it is quite a challenge. I managed to make par on 18 so that was a quite a thrill.

McLean Signature Course- We played the McLean Course on day two. The course stretches 6602 yards from the blue tees and is quite tight in spots. The McLean Course is completely different that the Blue Monster or Great White. It is a more traditional golf course that sets in and around homes. It has the feel of a Golf Course Community but is still a great golf course. The course is known for its “Bermuda Triangle” holes 13 through 15. It was my least favorite of all three courses but I would still recommend playing it.

The Great White- We played The Great White Course on the final day and for many of us it was our favorite. It is a Greg Norman design and is a unique course in two ways. First, there is no rough on the golf course. Second, The Great White Course is the only golf course of its kind in the Southeastern United States that utilizes coquina – crushed shells. So, if you miss the fairway you find yourself in these shells quite a bit. The shells make up large waste areas all over the course and they offer compact, tight lies. The course has a desert feel and a large number of King Palm Trees lining many of the fairways. I have never played golf in the Middle East but it has that look and feel. We found the golf course quite difficult and it was pretty wind the day we played. Our forecaddie told us that the course is not usually that windy. So, needless to say it was a difficult day but a lot of fun.

source; doralresort.com

Thursday, March 17, 2011

When will Tiger Woods win again?

Source; celebrity738.blogspot.com

The question is asked every time that Tiger tees it up, when will he win again? There are plenty of opinions on this subject. So, I felt like it was time to weigh in.

There are plenty of theories as to why he is not winning. First, the obvious personal challenges he has faced over the past eighteen months. We all know how difficult the game of golf is when your mind is focused let alone when there are distractions. The second common theory is that he is trying to find his golf swing and has a new coach Sean Foley. While there is probably some truth to that, when has Tiger not been tinkering with his golf swing? The point is he always has and probably always will be as he tries to improve.

For me, it is pretty simple, Tiger will win again when the putts start dropping like they used to. How many times over the past fifteen years have we watched Tiger make putt after putt when it mattered? How many times have we seen him hit the golf ball all over the course, yet, get up and down time and again? How many times have we seen Tiger make a putt that is extremely difficult? Remember the putt at the TPC a few years ago when Tiger made it on seventeen from nowhere?

This past weekend at Doral he showed signs of the “Old Tiger” when he only needed 25 putts in the final round and shot 66.

I can hear it now from my growing reader base, how can you propose a theory like that? How does Tiger making a few more putts make that much of a difference? In a “game of inches”, the difference between winning and losing IS subtle. Check out Tigers’ putting average for the past five years including 2011 year to date. I have listed a table below to demonstrate the stats. His putting average has been inching up every year which has shown in his tournament results.

Tiger has never been a great driver of the golf ball. What I mean is he has always been long but never terribly accurate. That is no different today than it was five years ago. However, five years ago he would find his way out of trouble, get the ball on the green and sink a putt. Today, he may still miss the fairway, he may still get the ball on the green, however, once or twice per round the putts are not dropping. That is difference between winning and a top ten.

There is one last point I would like to make on this subject. Anyone who has watched Tiger and followed his career closely knows he is a very calculating, structured person. As it relates to his golf game, he does not do things by chance. So, if you do not think he is struggling with his putter, then why would he switch putters mid way through a WGC Golf Championship? That is what he did last week at Doral when he used a different Nike Putter for the third and fourth rounds.

Tiger Woods PGA Putting average (pgatour.com)

2011 1.780
2010 1.751
2009 1.743
2008 1.735
2007 1.733

When do you think Tiger will win again? What will be the difference in his game?