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Archive for the ‘confidence’ Category

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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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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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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In winning the 2011 U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy broke 12 records, the most significant of which was the number of strokes he took to do it: 268. The previous best: 272 by Jack Nicklaus. That is a monumental achievement. And this is the most endearing character in golf since Wee Bobby Jones. This man has talent, guts, and class. He looks the camera in the eye and answers whatever question put before him with honesty, sincerity, and wit. He is truly the real deal.

I expect he will win a fair share of majors. Is he the next Tiger Woods? No. He is Rory McIlroy, a man of much more integrity than Woods. Not only did Woods fail off the course, I suspect he used steroids to accomplish his feats on the course. Rory will have none of that nor any suspicion of that. This lad from Northern Ireland just loves golf, and shows it (more…)

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The U.S. Open is arguably the greatest tournament in golf. It is open to all comers, for one thing. If you qualify, you’re in. True, that is a daunting proposition. Even well ranked touring pros don’t make it, so if you do qualify, it’s a major accomplishment (no pun intended). Open courses are tough, set up to punish any wayward shots. Since it’s played in June, the temperatures are often hot and baked. U.S Open greens are as slick as pool tables but with ridges and breaks and false fronts. Three-putts can send the Open competitor into mental misery faster than a meter maid writing a ticket. And the whole world, seemingly, is watching.

When I was a kid I’d fantasize about playing in the Open. Those were heady days of hope when Palmer and Nicklaus were slugging it out, Kennedy was in the White House, and I was second man on my high school golf, a shy kid who could chip and putt my way to pars. Obviously I didn’t realize my Open dreams, but I’d watch the Open each year and be there vicariously. 1960: Palmer charging from seven (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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