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Archive for the ‘Gary Player’ 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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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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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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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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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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