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Archive for the ‘Ben Hogan’ Category

I was watching the first couple of tournaments recently and was astounded at how lackluster the field was. I would guess the ratings were in the tank, as the only things that would draw viewers were the warm venues. Personally, I tuned into the match between Sam Snead and Bob Hope instead of seeking out David Toms and Mark Wilson. Over at the Champions Tour, there was Brad Bryant apologizing for his 65, more surprised than anyone that he chipped and putted his way to the top of the leaderboard. Tiger hadn’t started his season yet, flying off to Dubai for a huge appearance fee and a joust with the crackerjacks of the European Tour. This blog has predicted he will win just about everything this year, and has advised him to do so then quit competitive golf and concentrate on his foundation. Bobby Jones did this, as did Byron Nelson, and they had no sex scandals to face down. Whether Tiger stays or goes, professional golf goes downhill. He could stay and dominate, or he could go and fade away. Either way, golf suffers. The current crop in their late 20s and early 30s are not strong enough to hold up the high bar of professional golf on all levels of accomplishment. Woods was the last of the lot, and look at the bloody mess he left behind, an irreparable heap of emotional horsecrap laying by the side of the road. And please, don’t feed me all the sanctimonious BS about Tiger haters. I don’t hate Tiger. I’m angry at him for taking himself down along with the game he built up.

Golf requires what the Buddhists call impeccability, which is (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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How many times have you scored a triple bogey and essentially given up on the round? I’ve even stopped keeping score I’ve been so demoralized. Keegan Bradley, after chipping into the water, had a triple on the 15th hole on the last day of the 2011 PGA Championship–the first major he’d ever played in–and came back to win the tournament. That takes guts and courage and the ability to never say die, traits any golfer could use more of. These are traits of the mind, traits of character, traits of a person who can turn adversity into the seed of an equal or greater benefit. After Bradley’s triple, he was five shots behind Jason Dufner, a 34 year old journeyman. Bradley then birdied his next two, one with a 40 foot putt, and parred the 18th, arguably the most difficult hole on tour. He tied Dufner in regulation, a gutsy feat that has to be one of the great comebacks in the history of the majors. How he did it is a lesson we can all learn from.

Simply said, in golf, as in life, you never give up. Golf tests the resiliency of the mind to come back after disaster. The mind is conditioned generally to give up rather than come back and try again. It’s an organ of memory and we tend to remember the bad (more…)

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Golf involves such an intricate array of muscle movements that if you are out of balance just slightly, the flight of the ball will be affected negatively. Being a student of meditation and a teacher of Tai Chi, I have observed how a loss of balance can catapult you out the present moment and into a precarious flirtation with chaos. In golf, that chaos translates as miss-hit shots, poor decisions around course management, and letting big numbers affect your entire day. In life, losing one’s balance can be much more catastrophic, like the sad case of three hikers in Yosemite who waded into a pool above Vernal Fall, slipping, and going over the edge to their death. Other examples include elderly people who land in nursing homes because of a fall, and those who lose their emotional balance, resulting in serious psychological disorders. With golf, the effects of imbalance are not as dramatic as I’ve just described–it’s a game, after all–but if you’re serious about golf, it can be no less frustrating and aggravating when (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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Lately, it’s been raining a lot in northern California. It’s cold too. And it’s the busy holiday season. And to top it off, I’ve caught a nasty cold. So I can’t even sneak a half day in to play nine, or even go the range. Of course, there are people worse off than I, like my brother in Philadelphia who has to hang up his clubs every winter and tough it out till spring. When I was a kid in Philly, I’d put three sweatshirts on and go out and play on frozen ground, hitting the ball a mile after it hit the ground. I was obsessed with golf, and when you’re 15 nothing will stop you from playing, except maybe a blizzard. So what’s a golfer to do? Watch the Golf Channel? Watch tournaments from South Africa? Pretend you’re buying a club and hit balls into a net at the store? Buy every app you can find on golf instruction? Well, sure. But there’s more and better ways to improve your game when you can’t play.

One of my favorites is (more…)

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