Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Goofy Golf Gifts and Holiday Tradition

The holiday season is upon us and it is the time of year for holiday cheer, spending time with family and exchanging presents. 
It is also time for annual renewal of the goofy golf gift season.  That’s right, and every golfer out there has experienced this.  We have all been on the receiving end of some weird, obscure, off the wall golf gifts.  You know the drill, when well-intentioned friends and family feel the need to buy us golfers the one thing we must have.  The thing most golfers truly need is a five pack of lessons from their local golf professional.  Instead, we end up with Santa underwear, reindeer golf shoes, or exploding golf balls.
For those of us who have been playing golf for a long time, we usually experience this at least once a year.  Of course, when we open these gifts we act surprised, cheerful and excited.  But, in the back of our minds we are thinking “really, did someone actually pay for this?!?”
The goofy golf gifts I usually receive come in the form of decorations for the house, like statues of Santa golfing, signs that say “Oh Christmas Tee,” and miniature gilded golf shoes to hang on the tree.  I think to myself, “where am I going to put this?”  It usually ends up in my home office, which my wife has designated as the goofy golf gift zone. 
To think that there is actually a cottage industry for producing, marketing and selling this stuff.  I truly missed my calling in life.  To think that all this time I could have been selling golfing Santa ties or reindeer tees.  I even could have produced an infomercial to move the product to desperate, last minute shoppers.  We could have hired David Feherty as the spokesperson.  I can picture it now, Feherty on the Home Shopping Network hocking product to late night shoppers who can’t sleep and need to buy that one last gift.
Another holiday tradition I love is the holiday neighborhood golf clinic.  We have all seen our neighbors in their backyards swinging that new club or trying out the new swing aid that is going to fix all of those swing flaws (Ho, Ho, Ho).  They cannot wait to get out and try out the latest rescue club, sand wedge or putter that will change their game next season.  They have visions not of sugar plums dancing in their heads, but rather of long drives, birdies and eagles.  Of course, there are those true golfers who are never spotted outside swinging clubs in their winter coats because they have a hitting net in their basement or garage. 
Whatever you receive this holiday season, I hope you enjoy it.  After all, it is the thought that counts, right?  Or, for some members of my family, all that counts is the gift receipt.  I am sure you know what I am talking about, those sweet words of.  “It’s okay if you don’t like it, I saved the receipt.”
Have you ever received a goofy golf gift?  If so, Please share your goofy golf gift stories.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Birdie Balls -product review


I received an interesting gift under the Christmas Tree last year from my wife.  It was a golf practice system called Birdie Balls.  Normally I am not a big fan of golf practice aids as I prefer the real practice range.  However, this one intrigued me as it came in a small box.  The Birdie Ball practice system consists of two components.  The first component is the Birdie Balls themselves.  The balls are cylindrical in shape and slightly larger than a traditional golf ball.  The cylinder has a hollow core and a relatively thin shell.  The second component of the practice system is a plastic mat you can hit the balls from.  Or, you can just hit them off the grass the same way you would a regular golf ball.
The key to the system is that the balls are supposed to fly through the air the same way a regular golf ball does.  This is unique because if you have ever hit a plastic golf ball you realize that is not the case typically.  So, if you strike the Birdie Ball in a manner that causes the ball to slice, then the ball will slice.  Likewise, if you hit the Birdie Ball with a hooking motion the ball will hook.  Unlike, most plastic practice balls the Birdie Balls simulate actual ball flight.  The other neat things about the Birdie Balls are that they do not fly very far.  For example, I usually hit my nine iron about 140 yards from a good lie on the course.  With the Birdie Balls I can take a full swing and only hit the ball about fifty yards.  The same holds true for my mid irons.  I usually hit my six iron about 175 yards on course, whereas, with the Birdie Balls I can only hit it about 70 yards.
One more important aspect to the Birdie Balls flight is the trajectory.  Ball trajectory is very important in golf.  One of the main reasons for going to the driving range to hit real golf balls is to watch the ball take off.  Another added benefit is that the Birdie Balls also simulate my regular ball trajectory.  It is not perfect but it is close enough and far superior to other plastic practice balls.  For example, when I hit my six or nine irons I am used to seeing the ball take off on a certain path.  I do not lose this feedback when using Birdie Balls.
So, if you are looking for a training aid or a golf gift I highly recommend the Birdie Ball system.  It allows the player to take full swings, see the ball trajectory and receive immediate feedback on shot shape.  Whether the player is trying to correct a hook or a slice the Birdie Balls will provide that input.  Plus, you do not have to walk very far to retrieve them.  Lastly, if you are fairly consistent with your ball striking then the balls will land in a fairly tight pattern.  This makes retrieval very simple and quick.
If you have ever used Birdie Balls, leave us a comment on your feedback.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

British Open Week

                                                                       source; golf.com

The 2012 British Open Championship is upon us.  It is British Open week for the golf lovers out there.  In a press conference the other day Tiger Woods called the British Open Championship his favorite major.  As a golf fan I have to agree because it is such a unique event.  In the United States we do not get a chance to see very much “Links” golf played on TV.  Even when we do it is not true links golf.  Here are a few of the things I love about watching the “Open Championship” as the rest of the world calls it.
·         Peter Allis- The sound of Peters voice just says it British Open week.  The terms he uses, the stories he tells, the pictures he paints with words are priceless
·         The bump and run- who does not love seeing a player putt the ball from forty yards off the green
·         Flagsticks bent over from gale force winds- they do not stop play because it is a little breezy-play on they say
·         Heather, Gorse and all kinds of grasses- in the US we might call it hay or feed but in the British Isles they call it rough
·         Berns- those little streams that cross the fairways in strategic spots- not much bigger than a ditch but very penal and cool to look at as a spectator- Of course, Jean Van de Velde may not agree as a player
·         Manual scoreboards- I love to see the old, yellow, manual scoreboards- no fancy LED screens for the Open Championship- good old manual scoreboards with some guy behind it flipping names and numbers
·         Players struggling- It is fun to watch the best players in the world struggle from time to time- nothing like watching a top athlete staring at the ground, with his hands on hips trying to figure out what just went wrong
·         Seeing players from around the globe- it is fun to watch players from around the globe we have never heard of in the US.  Remember 1998 when seventeen year old amateur Justin Rose burst onto the scene and almost won the Open?
·         Architecture- it is nice to see the shots and scenes captured on TV of the old towns, buildings and houses of the British Isles.  There is something comforting about seeing a five hundred year old building
·         Tom Watson- he is synonymous with the Open Championship having won it five times.  You have to love watching old Tom standing in the fairway arms crossed, rain coming down and him visualizing a shot.  Then more times than not executing the shot.
What do you enjoy about the British Open?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Course reviews; Plantation Preserve, Emerald Hills and Jacaranda

source; plantation.org

We have returned from another successful, spring golf trip to Florida.  This year we chose to go to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area.  I was chosen to organize the trip this year.  This included the nervous task of selecting the golf courses.  As golfers we really do not care about the hotel or food choices, it really is about the golf.  However, picking good courses to play is essential to a successful trip.  Since I did not receive any course recommendations prior to the trip, I began the online quest.  After much reading and research I selected Emerald Hills, Plantation Preserve and Jacaranda Golf Club –East Course.  None of these courses were actually in Ft Lauderdale, two were in Plantation, FL. and one was in Hollywood, Florida.  One point to make when playing in Florida is the wind, water and sand.  Pretty much every course has a lot of each so take plenty of balls. 
Plantation Preserve
The Plantation Preserve Golf Club was the final course we played and was the best maintained.  The fairways, greens and tees we plush and were “country club” like.  You got the feeling you were playing a private gold club not a public course.  They also had a great pro shop with a nice variety of merchandise and an excellent lounge.  I also wanted to point out the quality of the service as it was great.  From the time we pulled in until the time we left the property the staff was very attentive.  I highly recommend this facility for a day of golf.
Emerald Hills
Emerald Hills was without a doubt the most challenging course we played. Of course, a thirty mile per hour wind all day did not help.  The pro shop worker warned us that we would face several holes where we could putt the ball off the green due to severe slopes in the greens.  This was true and if the greens had been faster that would have happened.  There are also a number of forced carries over water and into the greens.  I would love to play this course again under more favorable conditions but do recommend you play the course if given the chance.  Another note is that the course hosts pro qualifiers for tournaments such as the WGC event played at Doral.  I can see why as they could make this course quite difficult if they chose to.  The only knock on this course was a poorly stocked pro shop.  If you’re looking for a souvenir shirt or hat from Emerald Hills you may be disappointed by the selection.

Jacaranda Golf Club- East Course
Jacaranda was the easiest golf course we played and reminded me of a municipal golf course.  The fairways are very wide and the approach shots to the greens are quite generous. Like a lot Florida courses it is very flat with little elevation change.  I think it is a great course to play if you are a beginner or intermediate player. You will not be overwhelmed with forced carries or long, tight par fours.  With a variety of tee placements it is a very playable course.   It is the type of course where you do not feel rushed and can have a relaxing round.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Masters Week 2012

Master Week is finally upon us, yippee!!!!!!!!  When did the Master’s, US Open or British Open  begin having “Weeks” anyway?  Who started it?  I think it was the Golf Channel as they needed to fill a full week’s worth of programming air time.  Anyhow, I am glad they did as it is my favorite golf week of the year, TV wise.  I can watch hours of in depth analysis and interviews on the Masters.  It is such a unique event for many reasons.  First, it is an Invitational unlike most other PGA Tour stops or Major Championships.  We tend not to think of it that way but that is what it is.  If you do not earn your way in then you have to be invited.  Another unique aspect to the event is that the former players get to come back and play.  It is great to see guys like Couples, Stadler, Player and others grace the fairways once more. 
Another great feature to the event is the beautiful colors on the property and how they are displayed on TV.  Now with High Def TV you get even more amazing images of the golf course, conditions and sounds.  There is nothing like a well struck shot that echoes through the Georgia Pines.  It is a truly unique sound and one that I look forward to hearing each spring.
I respect the Commitment to tradition that Augusta National keeps intact.  They do not bow to pressure from outside influences.  They keep traditions alive that make Augusta National one of a kind.  Before I attended the Masters in 2010 I always thought they did so to be snobby.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I believe they do so to keep the connection back to the days of Bobby Jones.  They want to keep his memory and legacy alive.  They want the traditions he began to live on forever.
I think it is cool that they play the Par 3 tournament.  It is even better that they televise the event now.  It is always great to see Jack and Arnie tee it up one more time.  Even though it is not a competitive round it does not matter, watching The King and Golden Bear play is always a pleasure.
I Have to mention the lack of commercials during the competitive rounds of TV coverage.  Absolutely, it’s one of the best parts about watching the championship.  I also like the Internet streaming so we can watch at work when time permits.
It’s the one event each year where the TV commentators have to be on their best behavior.  Even David Feherty has to tone it down.  It is great to listen to the commentary of an event that is all about golf and not a commentators attempt at humor.
Last but not least, I love to watch the Back Nine on Sunday.  Is there a more exciting nine hole stretch of golf to watch anywhere?  More things can happen and usually do each year to determine the eventual winner.  The back nine has the perfect blend of reachable par fives, challenging par threes and difficult par fours.  The entire event can turn on one swing of the club or one putt. 
What is your favorite part of Masters Week?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

WGC Accenture Match Play - European dominance

The WGC Accenture Match Play is under way this week and it feels like a European Tour event.  Of course, 2012 is a Ryder Cup year so you have to take note of the European dominance this week at the WGC.  Since both the WGC and Cup are Match Play Style events one has to begin drawing comparisons.  If the Europeans continue to play well and perhaps go on to win this week questions will arise about their dominance in this format.
I did not get a chance to watch many of the matches on days one or two.  However, I flipped on the tube yesterday afternoon and saw what appeared to me as a European Ryder Cup roster.  Familiar European Tour players names filled the brackets such as; Westwood, McIlroy, Jimenez, Hansen, Lawrie, Laird and Kaymer.  In fact, seven players in total out of the sixteen remaining in the field were European.  Let’s not forget that Luke Donald won the event last year.  He is regular on the European Tour Ryder Cup roster.  Likewise, in 2010 Ian Poulter, another regular European Ryder Cup player won the event.
So, why are the Europeans so dominant in this event? By all appearances they are superior in most match play format tournaments?  What is it in their background, preparation or style of play that better suites their games?  Do they want the win more?  Do they play more aggressive?  Are they more consistent?  Are they better putters? Do they play more match play events on their tour than the PGA does?
I have my own theory as to why the Europeans are better at Match Play and it comes down to short game.  If you have ever played in Match Play style events you quickly realize that players who can scramble have a distinct advantage.  Match play is not really about distance or power.  It is about the ability to get the ball in the hole at the right moment.  Unlike stroke play the total number of strokes is not as critical.  You are playing against a single opponent not the entire field.  I believe in this area the Europeans overall are just better equipped to play that format.
I am not saying that the Americans do not have great short games or short game players.  They clearly do, however, we play a different style of game in the US than in Europe.  The guys on the PGA Tour play under perfect conditions each week and an ariel game.   European players play under less than perfect conditions both on course and due to the weather.  Also, they are forced to learn to play along the ground and learn to play a variety of short game shots.  One could argue why that matters if the WGC and Cup are being played in the US?  Because you either have the shots or you don’t.  Plus you must be comfortable and confident you can pull them off under pressure.
Why do you think the Europeans are so dominant in Match Play Events?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2012 Golf Goals

source; museumarts.com

Each year I set goals for all aspects of my life; financial, personal, spiritual and of course, golf.  This process begins in December of the previous year as I assess the goals of that year and start to outline what I wish to accomplish the following year.
 As I began my career out of college I took a class on goal setting.  In that class they taught us not only how to set goals but why we should set them.  Statistics show that people who set goals are much more likely to achieve them.  Research has shown that you not only need to set goals but you must also write them down.  By writing down your goals it provides you the opportunity to view them periodically.  This will keep you focused on the goals you have set.  This step also acts as constant reminder that the goal exists and your behavior needs to reflect that goal.   Last year I began the year with seven golf goals and only achieved four of them.  Not bad considering they were all fairly difficult to achieve in the first place.  Since I am not one to dwell on the negative here are the goals I did achieve.
2011 Golf Goals Achieved
·         Repeated as Club Champion
·         Improved Lag Putting
·         Reduced risk in shot making, playing smarter
·         Improved Greenside Bunker Play
As I reflect on the previous year’s goals I always ask myself, why did I achieve or not achieve each of the goals?  This past year it was clearly practice and focus.  I guess I could probably say that every year but last year that was the case.  I spent an inordinate amount of time practicing these areas in an effort to see marked improvement.
 I thought I would share my 2012 goals with everyone and we will have to check back next year to see how I fared.  Of course, some goals are more easily measured than others.  For example, qualifying for a tournament is very easy to measure.  Whereas, improving bunker play is not so simple.   The less quantifiable goals are more based upon your own judgment.  You need to ask yourself if you truly achieved the goal or not.  This is where being honest with yourself is key.  It does not pay to tell yourself you achieved a goal when in fact, you did not.  One last thing I have learned over the years is to have attainable goals.  They need to stretch you but they also need to be reachable.  Otherwise, you will lose interest early on in the process and probably shy away from goal setting in the future.
My 2012 Golf Goals
·         Defend the Club Championship
·         Improve my chipping around the greens
·         Improve longer bunker play
·         Improve pitching from 65-95 yards
·         Buy a new putter
One last Goal I wanted to achieve last year was related to my Blog.  I had hoped to exceed five thousand page views by the end of 2011 and we exceed that goal significantly.  Let’s see if we cannot reach the twenty thousand page view mark by the end of this year.
What are your golf goals for 2012 and how do you track them?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Preparing for the Golf Season

It is that time of the year again, spring is just around the corner and that means it is time to prepare for the upcoming golf season.  This year I was nominated to research and organize the spring golf trip in March.  The past few years all I had to do was buy a plane ticket and show up.  This year I was the “chosen one”, what were they thinking?  During the process I had the opportunity to play several key  roles including; travel agent, administrative assistant and research analyst.  I am sure after a few months away from the game I will also get a chance to play a Psychologist either on or after the trip.  I am not really a doctor I just play one on the golf trip.  I want to thank the other guys as they did help out as no one in their right mind would trust me to make ALL of the arrangements.
I usually go through a pretty consistent ritual in the winter in anticipation to the season.  The major objectives are replacing grips, replacing spikes (which by the way Soft Spikes do not last very long), what a racket.  I also get the clubs out and clean the faces and grooves to get rid of last years mud and bad play.  In past years I have begun to work out more, although, this off season I have done a good job keeping up with that.  I really should stretch more than I do especially now that I am over the big four zero.  At least I am not over the big five zero like some people I know, HEHE.  In the past I used to have to get all of my golf clothes out of storage.  Not this year however, thanks to a new closet organizer the golf clothes hang in there all year round.  Given the number of golf shirts I own that used to be a chore.  I Especially hated all the ironing, thank goodness for the invention of wrinkle free shirts.  The last big chore will be to replace a few of my grips.  I know my driver and three wood need new grips at a minimum and probably some of my short irons as well.  I do not enjoy changing grips but good grips are crucial to playing good golf, especially in the east where the humidity is higher.
In previous off seasons I have built myself a few new golf clubs but not this year.  I bought two new Titleist Sand Wedges last summer which I love.  Since my trusty driver is still doing the trick I do not need to replace it yet.  My next big purchase is a “Scotty”.  Yep, I am going to break down and get a new putter after fifteen years.  Although my putter did allow me to successfully defend my club championship last year I believe it is time to hang it up. 

So, come back to see my future posts with course reviews from this year’s spring trip. 
What do you do to prepare for the golf season?