Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

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?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Honda Classic, Why win when you can cash in

source; thinkgeek.com

I was watching a portion of the Honda Classic last weekend when I realized Rory Sabbatini had a sizable lead and would probably not lose the tournament. So, I switched it off and went to the gym assuming that he had it wrapped up. I got back and switched the TV back on just to see if that was the case and suddenly his lead had shrunk to two shots. I was not sure what happened but had to watch the finish. I played PGA National last year and had fond memories of “The Bear Trap” which ate my lunch. That’s when NBC was kind enough to provide me with the idea for this post. The camera switched to Charles Howell III as he was finishing the event and Johnny Miller said “Charles Howell III has won twenty million dollars on tour but only won a few tour events.”

HMMM, there is some food for thought, has golf become so rich a sport that winning is really not that important. I am not knocking Charles Howell III or any player for that matter; I do not know them or their level of motivation. I am sure they are all trying to win each week when the step on the first tee. However, what about the preparation that goes into becoming a world class golfer that wins tournaments versus just cashing big checks. Let’s face it, if you have twenty million to your name how hard are your going to practice? Are you going to stand on the putting green under the hot Florida sun and work on your stroke?

Which brings us to another question, how would previous generations have handled this very fortunate development? We have all read and heard stories of Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson driving from event to event hoping to cash a check to pay for the food, hotel and gas to get to the next stop? Ben Hogan was famous for his work ethic and practice. He often said the game could be found in the dirt. Meaning, you had to dig it out of the ground by beating balls on the practice tee. Would he have worked as hard if instead of trying to win gas money he could just jump on a private jet and go to the next tour event?

We have all heard the stories of how hard Tiger Woods practices and prepares. It is no wonder why he has so dominated the sport for the past fifteen years. So, I would venture to say that regardless of what era he or Ben Hogan played in, they would still do whatever it takes to win and would prepare accordingly. No amount of money, fame or success would deter them from their ultimate goal which is winning championships. So, I guess what it comes down to is that golf just like business and life has winners and losers. There are those people/players that will win regardless of the circumstances. They will work, practice, prepare and study until they figure out a formula that works for them.

How do you see money impacting the game of professional golf? Do you think it has changed or effected the player’s motivation or desire to win?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Jack Nicklaus, Great Champion

I ran across the article today on Golf.com titled “Golf has never had a greater champion than Jack Nicklaus” by Michael Bamberger. Ironically enough, I just got back from a business trip to Columbus, Ohio. While driving through Columbus last night, I passed the Jack Nicklaus Museum on the campus of Ohio State University. As most golf fans know, Jack grew up near Columbus and played his college golf at Ohio State University. As I was passing the museum, I told myself that I really need to stop in there one of these days and check out all the cool stuff inside. I can only imagine there are tons of great photos, trophies, clubs, etc.

Anyhow, to the real story at hand, which is: what makes a great champion?

When I think of professional golf and great champions in the modern era, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the first two who come to mind. I realize there are many others; Hogan, Snead, and Watson, just to name a few. However, since Arnold grew up less than thirty minutes from my hometown and Jack only about four hours away, I guess they stand out a little more to me than the others. In addition, since the dawn of golf on TV, these two gentlemen have defined the sport and dominated the coverage. Jack was, and still is, a great champion on so many levels. Below are a few thoughts as to why I believe he was one of the greatest champions to ever play the game.

• Other players claim that Jack was gracious in defeat. If you were fortunate enough to beat him, he would shake your hand, look you in the eye and congratulate you.

• Greg Norman said he learned how to lose from Jack. What he meant from that, I believe, is that Jack knew how to lose with grace and Greg learned that. Remember the embrace with Faldo at the 96 Masters? That loss had to sting, yet, Norman handled it like a champ.

• Nicklaus inspired millions of players around the world by his play as well as his book “Golf My Way”. Vijay Singh credits that book for making him the player he eventually became. For a guy who won more tournaments in his 40’s than any other player, that speaks volumes.

• Who can forget the 86 Masters, when Jack won the tournament with a back nine charge shooting six under thirty to take the title for the sixth time at age 46. Only a GREAT champion has the nerve to do that.

• Jack has fielded endless questions since Tiger was 18 years old about Tiger breaking his record. Jack has never avoided the questioning and in all of the interviews I have ever seen, he has never avoided the questions, always giving a sincere answer.

• When Jack was playing the tour full time, he always told his wife Barbara that he would never be away from home for more than two weeks in a row unless the family traveled with him. It’s sometimes hard to believe that the greatest champion of all time has that kind of commitment to his wife and kids, prioritizing them above golf.

I wanted to end with a bang and that last one describes Jack as a great champion. Perhaps, Tiger can learn something from Jack in the family department. Oops, too late. Tiger has already three putted that one.

Read more: http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,2056523,00.html#ixzz1FaDX7800