Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘golf’ Category

In between majors, golf on TV can be prosaic. Lack of name players. Tournaments that mean little. Competition from other sports. Decreasing interest in golf throughout the country, except for the majors. I, for one, find it both entertaining and instructional watching golf on TV between majors. I often turn off the sound, read a book or Sunday paper, and occasionally look up to study swings, strategies,attitudes, and scores on the PGA, LPGA, and European tours. First, check out Mike Ritz, announcing for the Euro tour these days.  He’s the Vin Scully of golf: dynamic, exciting, play by play, with great background info. This guy makes Frederick Anderson Hed look interesting. How about more Mike Ritz announcing for the PGA Tour? Then there’s Kevin Na. Other than John Daly, Na is golf’s biggest potential train-wreck. He badly screws up one shot and is guaranteed to screw up the next four, or more. You can see his mind twisting, churning, and gears grinding until metal hits metal and his teeth start gnashing. It’s the pace that showcases the mind. He gets real speedy over three-foot par putts, way out of his routine. For those few moments, he’s given up, the death knell for a professional golfer. Na’s a record holder around this behavior. He made a 16 on one venture into the woods last year at the Texas Open (only JD’s beat him with an 18 once). Take a look at what Na does during these meltdowns, and don’t play that way. Take a deep breath after a poor shot. Get back into your routine, your pace, your rhythm. Re-find your game. This year, Na got to +7 at the Texas Open and withdrew. Here are a few other tips I picked up watching golf (more…)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

We’ve all felt it. A tightening of the muscles around the neck. A lump in the throat. A rising of blood to the forehead. A quickening heartbeat. Sweaty palms. In golf, it’s particularly troublesome, we are told. It’s a game that requires precision timing and coordination. It requires being in the moment, dealing only with the matter at hand, namely wielding an unwieldy metal club, attempting to hit a small white dimpled ball to a target over 300 yards away. Any tightening, sweating, beating, or blood rising beyond the norm will truncate that process and dynamite any chance for success. We feel it elsewhere too, like at work when the our supervisor comes by and asks to have a “word with you,” or when a cop pulls us over, or when our spouse “needs to talk.” Pressure greets us almost daily with its bared teeth and a scowl. An overdue phone bill. Noisy neighbors that need quieting. Humans have always known it. We have much experience dealing with it, yet it’s as difficult to handle now as it was in the caves of France thousands of years ago.

In golf, no tournament is as pressure packed as a match play event, like the one being played this week in the Arizona desert. Every hole is as pressure packed as the last, and the last may well be your last before your flight home. How do these guys handle it? How do they maintain their level of concentration? How do they keep their swings from crumbling (more…)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »