Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

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.