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Archive for the ‘Arnold Palmer’ Category

This year’s Masters lived up to promise, yet with different contenders than predicted. Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen were on no one’s radar, and I mean no one’s. My ears picked up not one Golf Channel pundit uttering either name. Bubba Watson! Are you kidding me? I cringe every time I see him swing. I really do. The swing looks like a cat getting a bath. The guy has more club head rotation than a boomerang. He falls backwards as his front foot slips out to the right. He passes parallel almost as much as John Daly, but without the lovely rhythm and form of JD. The sound of his shots, at least from my limited auditory perspective on TV, is more a clunk or a clank than a click. And Bubba, when in contention, has more nervous ticks than a kipper has bones as he prances, twitching down the fairway. But damn, if Bubba Watson didn’t win the 76th Masters.

The man can curve a golf ball, can’t he. From a driver to a wedge, he can hook or slice, fade or draw, a ball at will. The wedge is the most remarkable. Nobody curves and carves a wedge like Bubba. You really shouldn’t be able to hook a wedge, but Bubba can. You really shouldn’t be able to slice a 6-iron 40 yards around a tree to the green, but Bubba can. You really shouldn’t be able to hit a 9-iron under a tree (more…)

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More than any other golf tournament in the world, the Masters carries a mystique that elevates golf to the gods. This year Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer, three of the greatest who ever played the game, will hit ceremonial balls off the first tee to start the tournament. Can you name another tournament that starts like this? All past Masters winners gather for a dinner the night before the start to feast on a meal sponsored by last year’s winner. Can you name another tournament that does that? The Masters was conceived and developed by Bobby Jones, winner of the Grand Slam, and perhaps the greatest golfer ever, all things considered. Can you name another tournament with those bona fides and ancestry? While we still debate whether to call The Open, the British Open, only one word is needed to identify the Masters, worldwide. And a win (or a loss) at the Masters can define a career.

Take Fred Couples, when, in 1992, we all held our collective breath as his tee ball somehow stopped on the steep embankment in front of the par 3 12th green. One more turn and it would have tumbled into Rae’s Creek, his Masters hopes dashed as he battled the formidable Raymond Floyd for the title. In 1996, we remember the loser much more than the winner. Greg Norman took a 6-shot lead into the final round, only to lose by five to Nick Faldo. Faldo shot 67 to Norman’s 78, (more…)

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Arnold Palmer says no. Sir Nick says, sure, why not. Keegan Bradley won the PGA with it, the first ever major won with a long putter. Adam Scott resurrected his career with it. As did Freddy Couples. It’s easier on the back. It takes the left hand, if held still, out of the stroke completely. It creates a pendulum action on par with a grandfather clock. But should it be legal? The King is very clear on this, saying that no golf club should be anchored to the body. Anchoring the club to the body, as with the belly or long putter, creates an advantage that a free swinging putter does not have. It removes a variable that has been with golfers since the inception of the game.  To hold the butt end of the club against the body provides a stability unavailable to those using putters of usually no more than 35 inches.

It’s a matter of confidence, which is at the core of successful putting. Putting simulates the movements of a pendulum, and a golfer’s skill is dependent upon how pendulum-like he or she can control the club. If the end of the club is fixed to the torso, (more…)

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OK, it’s not a penalty (as I’ve discovered from a number of readers who’ve commented), but why does one of the best players in golf history have to resort to looking in another player’s bag. Have you ever seen Nicklaus do it? Or Palmer? Or Player? Or McIlroy? Or Greg Norman? Or Hogan? Or Tom Watson? Or any of the other greats (OK, I’ll admit Snead might have)? TV would’ve revealed it. And why would Woods care what Zach is hitting? Their games are just a tad different.

He looked in his bag because the day before he hit into the water, and the man is so obsessed with winning, he’ll do something seedy like that, just to get a little edge. It’s true: a decision related to one of the rules of golf says a player can visually look into another player’s bag, but Tiger Woods checking out Zach Johnson’s bag to make his club selection? Come on. Give me a break.

What kind of model is that for a kid in the First Tee? In golf, we play against the course, and we can look at that course and the weather from all sides to Sunday. That’s part of the game: size up your shot and make your own club selection, not go nosing around in someone else’s bag. It’s legal but it’s unethical. It’s against the spirit of the game. It’s sneaky. It’s legal but it shouldn’t be. Spitting on greens is legal also, but should Woods and Garcia have done this when they did?

OK, Tiger, go ahead and keep your Chevron trophy, but play your own game, pal.

And one more thing: When Zach Johnson walked towards the first tee at the final round of the Chevron, he stopped to shake the hand of each tournament official who stood there by the grandstand. Class.

Tiger Woods walked to that same tee just after Zach and ignored all the officials. Ass.

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Honestly, I don’t know much about swing planes. Recently I saw Michael Breed on Golf Channel devote his show on the subject and my head started hurting. The subject baffles me. I know if my address and posture are right, I will swing on plane. And if the results are good, i.e. accurate and solid, I again have an indicator I was swinging on plane. We need these indicators for you can’t see or feel if you’re on plane. It’s all happening too fast. And golf is more a game of feel than technique. I know all the teaching pros will be angry at me for saying this, but the game is being made too daunting for most people to stomach, hence the marked decrease of players nationwide. The number of golfers in the U.S. has dropped by about 3 million since 2005, totaling now a bit over 27 million. And the National Golf Foundation, which represents 4,000 courses nationwide, states that the golf industry “has lost 100 clubs a year for the past four years.”

There are many reasons for these distressing trends, (more…)

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John Hawkins, the bad boy golf writer and commentator, said the other day that he didn’t want to live in the past,  commenting on Johnny Miller’s remarks that there were more players who could close the deal on Sunday back in the day, namely his day.  Hawkins didn’t want to  look back at golf history (“I’m tired of living in the past,” he barked), but golf is all about history. Present day players perform with the past shadowing them, and those who ignore the past strip their game of perspective and inspiration. One of the greatest icons of golf history is still with us: The King, Arnold Palmer. When I was a kid there was a phenomenon known as Arnie’s Army: The King’s Army. Fans couldn’t get enough of this guy who hit it a mile, not caring particularly where it went. He’d then dig it out of whatever dirt he landed and pull off shots only Hollywood could dream of. Arnie twisted his head, tugged at his pants, and flexed his artillery arms like Rocky Marciano going for the kill. In 1960, seven shots behind Mike Souchak at Cherry Hills starting the final round of the U.S. Open, Arnie, with his Army close behind, drove the green on the 346 yard first hole (more…)

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Tiger Woods is currently on a slippery slope. The “greatest golfer of all time” is in danger of becoming an asterisk within a parentheses. This self-professed Buddhist is doing things that no true Buddhist or any spiritually evolved person would do. Spitting on greens. Playing mind games during competition with Sergio Garcia. Throwing clubs. Ignoring fans. Rejecting TV interviews. Not trying when the tournament seems lost. Behavior unbecoming of a professional athlete…or of a conscious human being. His personal life is in an apparent shambles, perpetrator of a volatile and embarrassing sex scandal which has led to estrangement, divorce, and child custody discomfort for his kids. “I wasn’t thinking,” he said after apologizing for the spitting incidents, which led to a fine by the European Tour. Swing change or no, winning or losing, that about sums up Tiger Woods these days. A conscious human being of 35 years does think, and thinks clearly with (more…)

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