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Archive for the ‘Bobby Jones’ Category

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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We hear a lot about what golf needs to thrive. First, let me say golf will survive now and for as long as people walk this beautiful Earth. Golf will never not be. The bug was released the first time a Scotsman fashioned a club and struck a ball of some sort. Others saw this, tried it for themselves, heard and felt a certain clickit, or thrump, or whompit, and needed to try that again. Golf is not a sport or game: It’s a habit, and it embeds deep within. My father tried to play golf but his extra-ego wouldn’t allow it. Golf will pulverize an extra-ego. He gave his Bobby Jones signature clubs to me and inadvertently got me started on a lifelong journey. I was the first in my family to play the game and would have turned pro if I’d gotten any support to do so. But once I’d experienced the exhilaration of a finely hit golf shot, I was hooked, and have stayed hooked (with a few years off the hook for good behavior) for over 50 years.

So not to worry about the fate of the game. As long as a ball stings the sweet spot of a club from time to time, the game will remain intact. It might ebb and flow according to the vicissitudes of society, TV ratings may vary according to whether Tiger is in the field, golf courses may go bankrupt, but golf will endure. There are, though, a few things that golf needs and doesn’t need.

1. Power carts. Seeing a couple of 25 year old yahoos in carts is an abomination of what golf was intended. Golf was and is a game (more…)

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He has been with us longer than Tiger now. He has played in the wake of Tiger, sometimes awash in that wake. As Tiger has made several major swing changes, Phil has essentially stuck with the same swing. It’s familiar to us, his fans. He approaches the ball like a gladiator, pulls the trigger, and whips back his flail just past parallel, and unleashes a drive that no one, no where , knows exactly where it will land. He looks apprehensively to the right or the left, as do all golfers in heaven. The very Earth tilts farther in the looking. Quakes and volcanoes trigger. Rivers flood. Fish leap. Mountains slide. Golfers spill their beer. Phil tips his cap. Earth breathes a sigh. He’s in the fairway.

Phil’s a good guy. People pull for him. People want him to win, especially lately. Phil is running out of time, and it shows.  He has some kind of arthritic condition, the name of which sounds much worse than arthritis itself. Phil has experienced a perfect storm of maladies. His wife Amy is being treated for cancer, as has Amy’s mom. One of Phil’s daughters had a seizure and spent the night in a hospital. This shouldn’t be happening to one as blessed as Phil, but Phil takes life, and golf, as it comes, with a strong dose of courage and guts and perseverance.

Phil has won four majors. He knows, we all know, it should be double that, and not just because of Tiger. Phil takes chances. Phil the Thrill, all the guys at Bennett Valley call him. A train wreck (more…)

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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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There are two Tiger Woods. One is Tournament Tiger with the game face, with the head down, determined, focused, take no prisoners attitude, give no succor, defeat all comers, Sir Lanciliger who will even dally with whores to satisfy his desires. This Tiger ignores his fans, speaks only to his caddy, gives clipped interviews, considers no others, will go to any means to win, answers no questions, is in a state of recalcitrance. The other is Twitter Tiger, kicking back, smiling, one of the boys, joking, hanging, easy, cool, cap on backwards, T and shorts, playing with his kids, watching TV on a Saturday night by himself, helping Notah with his foundation, helping thousands, if not millions, of kids with his own foundation. Yes, despite the scandals and obnoxious behavior on and off the course, Tiger has continued to help children succeed and gain confidence with his very effective foundation. Let’s not forget that. He does not profit from this work, as far as I know. It is a self-less giving to the community that his father, Earl, and he started in 1996.

Woods is proud of his foundation, and rightly so. You can see it in his face when he is pictured with some of the kids he’s helped or leading a clinic. It’s that old Tiger smile, relaxed yet energized, humble yet excited for what he has accomplished, impassioned.

Here’s my advice to Tiger Woods, for what it’s worth, on this second day of 2012. As did Bobby Jones, set yourself the task of winning the Grand Slam this year. Upon succeeding and having a ticker tape parade in New York, retire from competitive golf, as did Jones, tied at 18 majors with Jack Nicklaus, and devote the rest of your life to the Tiger Woods Foundation. Judging from your last two tournaments, you could accomplish this. You’ve got your mojo back. Your name would be immortalized in the annals of golf for you would have done a noble deed, sharing the podium with Jack, and leaving the game a hero, as did Jones and Nelson before you. They decided enough was enough, putting ambition aside, assuming an emeritus role in golf’s highest echelons. Even if you didn’t achieve the Grand Slam, even if you fell short of Jack’s record, such an action would tell the world you are a man with a higher purpose than just to win golf tournaments. Your Foundation, and the children it helps, would still prosper, perhaps more so than now. And most of all, you would know and feel the spirit of your father smiling down upon you. Wishing you well in the New Year, Tiger. Thanks for helping all those children.

And you, dear reader, a very happy, healthy New Year. May this game of ours bring you continued pleasure and joy.

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I take exception to golfers referring to their evangelical announcements about how the Lord is so intently interested in their winning golf tournaments. The Lord has enough on his or her hands to waste time helping so and so play a game. And why would the Lord (a euphemism for Jesus Christ) pick out one born again golfer over another born again? I cringe every time I hear a pro praise the Lord for guiding his winning ways. Please, keep your religion to yourselves, boys. It has no place in championship golf as it has no place in the affairs of the government.

Webb Simpson is the latest in the line of evangelicals who uses his wins as a soapbox for how he couldn’t have pulled it off unless the Lord hadn’t helped him, implying the Lord knew the difference between a nine iron and a putter. Did the Lord help Gene Sarazen make that double eagle or invent the sand wedge? No, and The Squire (more…)

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As with the previously mentioned monkey traps of South America, where monkeys trap themselves by holding on to the food in a simple gourd hung from a tree, only having to let go the food and go free, many golfers are like those monkeys and hold on too tight to the club, from address on through the critical impact zone. By clutching the grip like a splitting maul, tension builds up throughout the swing, and when the first significant resistance is encountered, at impact, the likelihood of letting go the club is great.

Tension is the archenemy of the golf swing, be it mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual. And tension starts with the grip. The hands are so sensitive that they translate any tension generated by the above factors. And that translation is usually one of tightness. We think the tighter the better, but golf is often counter-intuitive. Unfortunately most instructors emphasize holding the club tightly with the last three fingers of the non-dominant hand. The brain often interprets that as a kind of death grip that also affects the other fingers. And it’s there we monkeys are caught in the trap of no return. For with a grip of such intensity, there’s only one way to go: (more…)

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