Tag: LPGA (page 1 of 2)

Giving Thanks in 2017

Being able to play in the desert is always worth giving thanks.

Being able to play in the desert is always worth giving thanks.

It’s been a few weeks since I updated my blog; after returning from the desert a few weeks ago, things have been less than ideal on several levels.  I’ll spare you the details, but it’s been the things that nobody should ever have to endure.  If you’d have told me on October 25th after getting up and down for a 79 that I wouldn’t touch a club at all in November I’d have thought you were crazy (I guess it’s for the best that the weather has been uncooperative).

So it’s from there that I wanted to pause for a moment and offer up some holiday thanks (since this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US; if you’re curious She Who Is Really In Charge and I will be having a quiet dinner) to some people in the golf world who deserve it.

To the LPGA, thanks for providing a blueprint on how to grow the game and engage fans.  It’s a travesty that all four rounds of their Tour Championship this past weekend weren’t being shown live on TV (bump it to USA Network or MSNBC if needed; surely a bunch of USA Network reruns of NCIS and whatever “Prison Lockup” show MSNBC is showing could be bumped to show live golf).

To the USGA and the R&A, thank you for making progress towards simplifying the rules.  I still argue that bifurcation is the way forward with the rules (and equipment) but you’re making an effort.

To all of the local maintenance staffs, superintendents, starters and people who work at golf courses, thank you.  Profusely.  While it’s all good and well to thank the local teaching professionals (and they do great work), if you didn’t have maintenance people doing what they do at zero dark hour things wouldn’t be that much fun for us.  They get next to no credit and blamed for pretty much anything and everything.  Yes, putting on punched greens isn’t fun but it’s punching them that keeps them in great shape.

To Golf Channel, thanks for ensuring I never go more than a week or so without a rerun of the Golf Movie Trinity (Caddyshack, Tin Cup, Bagger Vance).  Can you maybe air the unedited/non-condensed versions after 11pm?  Just a request (and while we’re at it, could you possibly acquire the rights to Dead Solid Perfect which remains the greatest golf movie nobody’s ever seen).

To Alan Shipnuck, thanks for writing a terribly-sourced piece of click-bait on the supposed impending dominance of the Americans in the Ryder Cup.  A US team that has exactly one win on European soil in 35 years (I distinctly remember reading about how the Americans were going to be dominant with Tiger as their anchor; didn’t quite work out that way) should probably avoid talk of a dynasty just yet.  I’m not saying the US doesn’t have what could potentially be a great core of the team, but things happen (Anthony Kim anyone?).  Call me old fashioned but i prefer to actually WIN before pounding my chest.  And while it’s all good and well to point out what a folly it was to have Tom Watson captain the 2014 side I remember reading dozens of pieces about how he’d be the steady hand on the tiller (didn’t quite work out that way).  I also read stories galore about US dominance before the 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012 matches.

Thanks to the PGA Tour for doing your dead-level best to ensure the DMV doesn’t have a tour stop anytime soon.  The level of support the events here get despite every attempt to let them fail is nothing short of amazing.  The weather issues this event has dealt with (going back to the old Kemper Open days) look like end-of-days stuff.  And yet, people come out in droves to volunteer, buy tickets, attend events, and watch with amazement.

Thanks to our local golf retailers for continuing to fail to stock my size in clothing and footwear and saving me from having to fight traffic in hopes of finding something.  When you wonder “why is retail dying?” see me quietly buying stuff online because I literally don’t have any other options.  When the inevitable fail happens, a lot of good and decent people will lose their jobs as a result.  Please start catering to a wider audience.  Or don’t.  I can literally update my blog and buy a pair of shoes at the same time while enjoying a couple scotches.

To my friend Real Name Redacted, thanks for putting up with my admitted insanity and more-than-occasional OCD behavior (I could write 500 words about tee colour, towel usage and why #2 balls are bad luck and that’s not even my top 5) as we trek all over the DMV to play golf (I may seem normal, but I’m most decidedly not).  It’s been fun seeing you go from curious enthusiast to full-blown addict and putting a unique spin on the Circle of Trust.

Photo from GNNstore.com

Somebody’s Christmas gift available at gnnstore.com

To my putters who’ve endured unspeakable insults and threats, thank you for not rising up in the middle of the night to attack me.  If having conversations with my putters and giving them rum and cigars is wrong, then maybe I don’t want to be right.  Worked for Cerrano in ‘Major League’ so why not, I say.

This may or may not be me before I tee off, trying to wake up my putter.

This may or may not be me before I tee off, trying to wake up my putter.

To all the people who are on Golfchat on Twitter on Tuesday nights, thanks for sharing your insights, opinions, and perspectives.  It’s interesting to hear from other people and learn from their experiences on this game we all love.  We may not agree on every issue but it from hearing each other, maybe we learn something we didn’t fully understand prior.

Best wishes for an enjoyable Thanksgiving if that’s your thing; otherwise thanks as always for reading.

SONG OF THE DAY

For a lot of reasons, this song always brings me back to a happier place.  I’ll pause from my current state of affairs to give thanks, and one small reason is this song which brings a lot of happy memories.

 

Bulle Rock RIP?

After hearing from several people through the grapevine that Bulle Rock golf course, consistently ranked as the #1 public access course in the state, may be on its last legs.  An article cites several issues that Harbor East Management Group (who owns the development) has with taxes and abatement charges (read the article).  Lest we forget, they own the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel in the Harbor East development and pay a grand total of $1.00 in property taxes (according to the article).

Here’s the problem- people work at the golf course, and people spend money to play the golf course.  Not just in green fees, but food and beverage (money that gets redistributed in Harford County), and likely helps with tourism given its lofty ranking.

Its closure would signal a massive shakeup in public-access golf in the region, and more worrisome, could have a domino effect of sorts.

This should be a year to celebrate golf in the region as three professional tournaments are being held in the area; the Senior PGA Championship was held over Memorial Day weekend at Trump National in Sterling, this week sees the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac (played it in 2012 and was very impressed), and the seniors return in mid-July to Caves Valley for the Senior Players Championship (if we could just get an LPGA event in the DMV…oh to dream).  Instead, it looks like what is arguably the best ‘course you can play’ in the region may be going away.

IN VIRGINIA…

On the other side of the Potomac River, Landsdowne Resort is being sold to an Asian developer, but according to someone in the know, plans to continue operating the course ‘for now’ which doesn’t exactly sound promising.

OTHER LOCAL GOLF NEWS

Congrats to the fine people at Golfmatch announced that they have entered into a partnership with Troon.  Full disclosure- I use Golfmatch and find it useful.  I played in one of their events and enjoyed myself.  It’s a great way to meet other golfers and share experiences (and as much as I want argue otherwise, the reality is that we all want experiences).  If I didn’t use it I’d still mention it because Troon has one of the more impressive portfolios just from their Americas portfolio.

Long weekend coming up- sure, it’s going to be hot but who cares!  Get out there and tee it up!

The Language of The Game

Remember kids, Aloha Means Hello. And Goodbye.

Remember kids, Aloha Means Hello. And Goodbye.

As part of an occasional series geared towards newer golfers, I humbly present a list of terms you’re likely to encounter on the golf course that may confuse you.  We have a host of ways to describe shots that don’t quite come off the way we planned it.  Some people just throw a club while others will often use various terms of endearment.  Some of these terms are regional in nature, but I find it’s good to have a solid level of understanding.  Others of these are terms I’ve conjured up as a means of not offending people with the usual stream of profanity that I’m frankly quite good at.

Chili Dip: Nothing to do with chili, or dip.  When you are hitting a chip or a pitch shot and stick the club in the ground rather than hitting the ball.

Enter Sandman: When you take more than one shot to get the ball out of a bunker.   Also a famous Metallica song.  You have a hole where it takes you 7 shots to get the ball out of the bunker and you never live it down.

Pinball Wizard: When you manage to hit multiple trees with one shot.  Don’t know what a pinball machine is?  Ask your parents.

El Hozel: Otherwise known as the lateral vomit, la hozela, a hosel rocket, or a word that rhymes with banks that we simply do not say for fear that it will show up.  It’s like a virus.  You go to Tijuana for a fun evening of donkey shows and cheap tequila and you end up with some kind of infection.  El hozel works the same way.  I’ve seen people do everything short of animal sacrifice to get rid of el hozel.

Slice: For a right handed golfer when the ball goes unexpectedly right in the arc/shape of a banana.  For a lefty, the ball goes to the left.  Common miss for most amateurs.  Distant cousin of the power fade.  You can talk to a power fade.  You can’t talk to a banana slice.

Hook: The opposite.  Ball goes to the left for right handed players and to the right for lefties.

Skull: hitting the ball with the leading edge of your iron.  Often results in a ball that doesn’t get airborne and doesn’t go very far.  Used to end up cutting the surface of old balata balls.

Whiff: Making a swing and missing.  Also known as stiff breeze, air shot, 0 and 1, 0 for 1, etc.

Rinsing the Balata: Hitting a ball into a water hazard.  Balls used to be made out of balata.

Teenage Beer Pong: The act of getting on the green in two shots on a par 5 and then three-putting.  Much like teenagers who think it’s going to go great…and then it doesn’t.  Helps if the birdie putt just misses.

Sacrifice fly: A short tee shot that goes very high in the air but not very far.  Often followed by the ‘the runner will score on the sac fly.’  Don’t know what baseball is?  Ask your father.

Swing Oil: Alcohol quickly consumed.  A chugged beer, an airplane bottle of alcohol consumed in one shot.  Not to be confused with actual Swing Oil which is a supplement some golfers take.

La Hozela: El hozel, but for women.  Equally maddening.

Decell: Slowing your swing down on a chip or pitch shot which results in the ball either not making it on the green or just trickling on leaving you with a long and difficult putt.

Hairpiece: The pelt-sized divot that comes from hitting too far behind the ball.  Please replace if at all possible or at the very least fill that crater with some divot mix.  Sometimes called a toupee.

Topper: A topped shot; often a tee shot where you hit the top half of the ball and the ball rolls a few dozen yards.  Sometimes known as Free Toppings, Topper Shutt, Top of the Pops, or Big Top Pee Wee.

Moped: A guy who has a golf swing that looks ugly as sin but ends up scoring fairly well.

Commercial: A putt that ends up in tap-in range is said to be Commercial.  Not to be confused with the ads CBS runs to infinity during their broadcasts (it’s a pity that the golf gets in the way of their never-ending ads).

Donna Shalala: A short shot that goes left.  Named after the former Clinton cabinet member.

Rush Limbaugh: A fat shot that goes hard right.  Named after the conservative talk radio host.

Fat: Hitting behind the ball, causing the ball to not go as far as intended.  The cousin of the chili-dip.

Three Waggle: Taking three strokes to hole out on the green.  Also known as three-putting, going three-Jack City, three hole Monty, or just being bad at putting.

Socialist Roid Rage: A shot that gets hit hard left and long.

One: The thing that you can be guaranteed someone will say if your ball falls off the tee while you’re getting ready to hit your tee shot.  I think it’s required.

Caddyshack: Golf movie of some renown.  Someone is legally required to quote from the movie during your round or someone has to die (I think this is the rule…but I could be wrong).

Mrs. Doubtfire: Professional golfer and Scotsman Colin Montgomerie.  Use Google Images.

All Bag: Term of derision to describe guy that has pro staff bag and matching clubs but couldn’t break 130 to save his life.  The golf equivalent of soccer’s Full Kit Wanker.  Often will wear full Nike stuff with red shirt.  Impossible for him to play in under 5 hours.

Action: Wagering.  Many people will wager during a round of golf because they need ‘action’ to keep things interesting.

Fugly/Fungly: Decent and fun player to play with who has horrible-looking swing.

Sandbagger: See ‘cheater’.  Someone who keeps an artificially high handicap and during competitive events will play much better.  Will often use words like ‘I never putt this well’ or ‘I guess I was due for a decent round’ and the like.  The Brits like the word ‘bandit’ and I prefer cheat.

Man Bun: A generic term to describe something wholly inappropriate.  Think ‘chipping on the putting surface’ or using the word ‘sh***k’ on a golf course.

Evel Kenevel: Famed stuntperson and doer of stupid things.  Used to describe people who think a golf cart makes a great racing car.

Flying Lady: Generic term used to describe lower-compression golf balls some women and older men use.

 

 

 

 

 

Bulle Rock Course Review

1st hole at Bulle Rock. Let the bludgeoning commence!

1st hole at Bulle Rock. Let the bludgeoning commence!

When I moved to the DC suburbs from San Francisco 20 years ago this month, I didn’t know that I’d still be here (in the back of my mind I thought I’d live here a few years and go on to the next place).  When I first moved here, public courses were your typical scruffy muni tracks that were constantly busy.  It was either that or your tony private clubs and I’m decidedly not the kind of blue-blood (nor do I have the bankroll) person to join a private club.

It was shortly after moving here that the upscale, member-for-a-day, higher end daily fee courses started to open.  In Maryland there’s Queenstown Harbour, Links at Lighthouse Sound, PB Dye, Worthington Manor, Maryland National, Whiskey Creek, Lake Presidential, Blue Mash, and of course, Bulle Rock (if I missed one my apologies).

While as a collection these are all fine courses, Bulle Rock has always stood far and above.  Golfweek has consistently ranked it as #1 in their annual “Best Courses You Can Play” for Maryland, and it’s the only Maryland course to feature in Golf Digest’s recently released list (current rank is 52nd) for US courses.  It hosted the LPGA Championship from 2005-2009 (a major) and it’s not hard to see why it’s worthy.

So despite all of this, the truth is that until recently I hadn’t made the trek to Bulle Rock.  I had talked about it on several occasions, but it never happened.  Finally, I pulled the trigger through a GolfmatchApp outing, and that was that.

When you arrive at Bulle Rock, the first thing you notice is that it’s all golf.  No tennis, no swimming, just golf.  While there is a housing development, you only see homes on the first hole.  Warm-up and practice facilities are as good as anything I’ve seen anywhere.  Short game area, range, practice green all included in your green fee.   With the shotgun start we didn’t play the course 1-18 (we started on 17, which is a tricky par 3 to a protected green).

17th hole at Bulle Rock. Do. Not. Miss. Right. I did and I regret it.

17th hole at Bulle Rock. Do. Not. Miss. Right. I did and I regret it.

The photo may not show it but there is a large bunker and rocks protecting the green.  The bail-out area short isn’t a bad place to be.

The 18th hole (the finisher, our 2nd) is a brute worthy of a great finish.  Water the entire left side and a multi-tiered green.  I was very happy to be in the fairway off the tee given the difficulties a couple players in our group dealt with off the tee.

18th tee at Bulle Rock.  Don't recommend going left.  Not even a bit.

18th tee at Bulle Rock. Don’t recommend going left. Not even a bit.

The first hole should be a handshake hole but the green is small and well protected (if you get wild with your approach shot like I did, there’s ample trouble to be had).

The 2nd hole is a par 5 that should play easier (but as was my day I managed to make a hash of it…when you drain a 30 foot putt for a 7 you’re not exactly doing cartwheels).  The front nine offers a nice variety of holes that all feel unique (the course definitely felt like 18 unique holes and not a case where I was playing the same hole over and over).  Short holes, long holes, and everything in between.

The back nine starts with the 10th hole, a dog-leg par 4 protected by a waste area right and bunkers left.

From the 10th tee at Bulle Rock. Just find the fairway and ignore the bunkers, waste area and wind.

From the 10th tee at Bulle Rock. Just find the fairway and ignore the bunkers, waste area and wind.

Not visible from my photo, from the tee it’s a bit clearer.

The 11th hole is the longest hole on the course (at a robust 599 yards from the blue tees that we played from- the black tees has it in the 600’s).  It’s a dogleg par 5 with a litany of hazards.

11th hole from the tee. Only 599 yards to go.

11th hole from the tee. Only 599 yards to go. Longtime friend of the website is in blue, striping one straight and true.

If this wasn’t enough of a challenge, any shots long are likely to end up with a brutal downhill chip or possibly wet.

Still a ways to go. Don't miss left. Or right. Or long.

Still a ways to go. Don’t miss left. Or right. Or long.

The one good thing with the hole is that a miss short and straight isn’t particularly penal (several of the holes were like that).

If the photos don’t show it, the fairways, roughs, tee boxes and greens were all in superb shape as you might expect.  No un-filled divots in the fairways, the greens rolled pretty true (with the intermittent rain and wind we had I had a hell of a time with the greens but that’s on mother nature and me…not their staff).  The staff in the pro shop were all friendly and helpful to a fault.  If making you feel like a member is what they’re trying to do, then mission accomplished.

The course is a brute and there’s no nice way of sugarcoating it.  Small mistakes get magnified, and it’s easy to get into trouble.  As with many Pete Dye courses, it’ll make you want to pull your hair out at times, but isn’t that the point of testing ourselves as golfers?  If you haven’t made the trip up to Bulle Rock, go this year.  Bring a good supply of ammo and your patience (and your A-game), and you’ll see why Bulle Rock is the best public course in the state.

 

 

Major Championship Rules Snafu Version 3.0

For the third time in 10 months, a major championship will be best remembered for a terribly managed rules issue rather than for great golf and a worthy champion.  Lexi Thompson was denied the title last night at the ANA Inspiration because someone emailed the LPGA that she thought that Lexi Thompson moved her ball illegally on the 17th hole of Saturday’s third round.   Below is a clip from Golf Channel’s coverage last night:

I’ll point out that at no point did her playing partner nor the walking rules official see any issue with it (who are the primary sources for bringing up any issues).  Nobody on Golf Channel’s coverage (their own rules expert as well as the broadcast team- all experts at golf) saw an issue with it at the time.  None of the print journalists saw an issue nor did anyone covering the event.

No other sport entertains cranks who call in to report this kind of stuff other than golf.  Tennis (golf’s closest comparable) has a fantastic replay system that takes 5-10 seconds to review.  Call the ATP or the WTA about a foot-fault and you might as well yell at clouds.  The professional golf tours should act similarly.

It wasn’t until someone emailed the LPGA after play had ended (the LPGA didn’t see the email until Sunday) to report the issue.  This is wrong on two accounts (besides the larger issue of why professional golf should EVER give these people so much as the time of day):

1) If the viewer waited until Sunday to send the email (or after Saturday’s round), then this is a whole new level of being a shithead, because in doing so you’re setting up Lexi Thompson to fail knowing that she already signed her scorecard which brings in an additional penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard (how much money did this asshole have on someone other than Lexi Thompson because this reeks of some dickhead who had money on someone else and was scrambling trying to figure out a way to not lose?  Oh, am I not being fair to this asshole?  Tough.  In one email he effectively changed the result of a major championship- I hope this person has nightmares about it for the rest of their life, and may the 877-KARS-4-KIDS song be stuck in your head for the next 1000 years).  The word you’re looking for here in entrapment.

2) If the viewer sent the email on Saturday, why did the LPGA not immediately contact Lexi Thompson and say “please come back here NOW” and at the very least, administer the penalty BEFORE the start of Sunday’s round?   Surely it would have been better to let Lexi know where she stood BEFORE teeing off on Sunday (and if you’re so damn worried about protecting the field announce it then as well).  That way, everyone knows what’s going on and can plan accordingly.  In this case, telling her after finishing her 12th hole of the final round is absurd.  Most of the field had finished their round so this idea of protecting the field goes out the window (if you teed off thinking you were 6 or 7 shots off the lead as opposed to 2 or 3, your thinking is going to be entirely different).

So this jerk that thinks he’s a hero is anything but a hero.  Either way you look at it, what this person did was patently wrong.

So how do you go forward?

1) Effective today, professional golf and any governing body has to agree that any rules issues brought up by a viewer is to be ignored.  The role of protecting the field and enforcing the rules has to be the dominion of the players (as specified by the rules of golf) and the on-site rules officials.  The tours should immediately enact a local rule at all tournaments that advice from an outside agency/TV viewer is not to be considered.

2) Players and on-site rules officials should be reminded that they should act immediately if they see something.  I don’t have an issue with a rules official saying “let’s take a look at this on TV” if they’re not sure but the decision has to be made at that point and before the player signs their scorecard.

3) If you want TV to step in, then the professional tours should immediately set up a remote TV rules bunker/war room (MLB, NHL and the NFL have these, as does both codes of rugby).  This means that every player has to be viewed on every hole (otherwise you’re not enforcing the rules evenly).  If the TV war room/bunker see an issue they can contact one of the on-site rules officials and review the infraction with the player immediately.

4) You can’t have things be subject to review after the round is finished.  They don’t do this after the final round, so why is it accepted after the first three rounds?  If there’s any doubt from anyone, the player should be advised to not sign their scorecard until they can review it.

Three incidents in 10 months regarding rules infractions that have been badly managed is three too many.  This simply cannot continue.

My 2017 Predictions (and Wishes)

After saying farewell to a truly terrible 2016 (a year that can be summed up as “well, that’s over”), 2017 is in its infancy which means that the PGA Tour is starting up this week (NBC running promos for the Hawaii swing is equal parts brilliant and torture).  Which means new seasons for the PGA, LPGA and European Tours.  The PGA Tour’s promo video has plenty of visuals to torture you as we endure a cold snap here in the DMV and a couple light snows.

With Nike out of the hard-goods equipment business (that’s clubs, balls, bags), it’s been interesting to see how the former Nike players shake out.  Rory McIlroy has gone to a multi-brand approach (notably back to a Titleist ball); and a fist bump to the fine fellows at No Laying Up for breaking the story (I’d call them competition but they’re 1000 miles ahead of your humble scribe).  Tiger Woods is doing something similar, but honestly for him it’s about being physically able to complete 72-hole stroke play tournaments.  I don’t think it’s crazy to think that, if healthy, McIlroy will have a very good year.

I’ve played Ko’olau on Oahu.  This sort of captures why this is remains one of my two favorite places I’ve played.  The video is a pretty good indicator why.

The other big player has been PXG.  Only in their second year of existence, they continue to add players to their stable; focusing on the LPGA at the moment (Lydia Ko and Christina Kim are solid names to get under their umbrella).  I’ll admit I was skeptical of their approach last year, and it’s curious that they’re staying out of the big-box/online retailers to this point.  With that being said, their clubs are striking in appearance.  The question that others have asked is reasonable- is a $5,000 set of clubs worth it (and is there really a market for this)?  I don’t know, but it’s certainly going to be interesting to see how it shakes out (full disclosure: my website is hosted by GoDaddy which was Bob Parsons’ company- I pay for the hosting and have not accepted any compensation from PXG or GoDaddy).

Former #1 Jason Day made news this week by saying he’s going to play even slower than he has been because he felt he was rushing things.  I will start a GoFundMe for the first official who hits him with a stroke penalty for slow play.  If it’s taking  him more than 35 seconds to hit a shot, then he’s clueless about what he’s doing.  My fear is how many people are going to watch him go from glacial to stationary and think “that’s what I should do!” and then wonder why 6 hour rounds are commonplace at public courses.

In terms of majors, the men visit an unknown entity in Erin Hills for the US Open (so having Fox on the broadcast makes me fear the worst since they have nothing to go off of), go back to Royal Birkdale for the Open Championship, and to Quail Hallow in Charlotte for the USPGA Championship (the Wells Fargo championship skips Quail Hallow for Eagle Point GC in Wilmington).

I’m still not a Joe Buck fan and I still think that Fox does more wrong than right, but there are a couple things I do like about their telecasts.  For starters, they use a ProTracer or something similar on most shots (this should be the standard by now), and Paul Azinger is a competent 18th hole tower analyst.  They still get way too much wrong, but Azinger and Brad Faxon are good at what they do.  For Fox’s other three high-profile events (US Amateur, US Women’s Open, US Senior Open), it’s to Riviera (fantastic call) for the US Amateur, Trump National in New Jersey for the US Women’s Open (so the best women in the world will be upstaged by the venue’s name when it should be all about the players), and to Salem Country Club in Massachusetts for the Senior Open).

NBC/Golf Channel will cover the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.  They did everything you could have asked for at the 2016 Open Championship (and the Olympic tournaments).  Wall-to-wall coverage, and on Sunday got out of the way and let that memorable Mickelson-Stenson duel play out (which can be the hardest thing to do).  Nothing against Dan Hicks but if Hicks were to move on, Mike Tirico is tailor-made for the 18th tower and probably becomes the best in the business (better than Buck and yes- even better than Jim Nantz).  If they can figure out what to do with David Feherty (seriously), they’d be near perfect.  I still don’t know what the best use of him is.  Is he a tower analyst?  Raconteur?  Replacement for Roger Maltbie?   One suggestion for David- when you ask guests on your show a question, don’t frame it to give them an easy answer.  Frame it to make them think about an answer.  And then follow up.  Saying you’re something and actually walking the walk are two different things.

CBS will have the Masters and the US PGA Championship.  For me, CBS remains something to watch this year.  Their coverage has gotten stale (if not out-and-out bad), and frankly their problems start with Nantz and Faldo.  Nantz sounds like a guy phoning it in (I’ve said I think the issue for him is his workload is way too heavy), and Faldo seems to be perfectly happy to go months without saying anything remotely interesting.   The problem is that they’re not going to blow it up (they should), which means another 6 months of Nantz on autopilot, and Faldo droning on about nothing.  Meanwhile, Peter Kostis and Dottie Pepper do great work and get lost in the shuffle.

Golf Channel will have the bulk of the LPGA season.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Judy Rankin is outstanding on their coverage (her and Terry Gannon have good chemistry).  She knows how to inform the viewer and be critical without being bombastic (we used to call this “being smart”).

Note to Michael Breed: Love your work…have you considered cutting back to 1 or 2 triple espressos a day?  If nothing else, you clearly have a passion (which is good).

For Golf Channel- please, pretty please give the endless loop of the trilogy of golf movies a rest.  Develop original programming geared towards average golfers.  Showing Tin Cup or Caddyshack 27 times a month isn’t serving that need.

Major Predictions (use at your own risk): Mickelson (Masters), McIlroy (US Open), Shane Lowry (Open Championship), Dustin Johnson (USPGA).  For the women, Christina Kim (ANA Inspiration), Brooke Henderson (US Open), Jutanugarn (USLPGA Chp), Piller (Open Championship), Lydia Ko (Evian).  Again- using these at your local wagering house is your decision, not mine.  Most likely they’re all wrong.

Some wishes:

1) Both tours (men and women) decide to start seriously cracking down on slow play.  If this means handing out penalty strokes, do it.

2) The LPGA continue to gain traction and grow their TV audience.  And while they’re at it, add an event in the DMV (Williamsburg doesn’t count).

3) The R&A take over as the sole body for rules, and that they bifurcate the rules.  The cutoff can be national amateur and above competitions.  Let average golfers have a few advantages.

4) The tours agree to roll back the ball, which will negate the need for 8,000 yard courses.

5) The USGA does not decide to fiddle about with golf courses at their national championships.  Less is more.  Stop worrying about protecting par.  If someone goes lights out and shoots -15 it’s not a bad thing (see Tiger Woods 2000 at Pebble Beach).  People want to see great shots and birdies.

6) We see Tiger Woods healthy at the start and finish of the season with a healthy sense of humor.

7) The Solheim Cup is contested with passion and great golf, and is remembered for the quality of golf and not a dispute over a rules issue.

8) We see no more ‘scripting’ of outfits for majors.  Make this stop being a thing.

9) We see a return to professional tour rounds finishing under 4 hours.  No exceptions.

10) That everyone have their best season possible, and if you see me lumbering about, say hi.  It may not appear to be the case but I’m not as cantankerous as I appear to be.  That the DMV continues to grow and thrive and become a region with strong public courses that do well.  Hit ’em straight and make those putts.

Enjoy some pre-2000 Tragically Hip.  Forgot they played Woodstock 1999.  Courage.  Much thanks to Mike in Toronto for posting all 4 hours of The Hip 30 from the Strombo show.  I was too busy watching the Centennial Classic on New Year’s Day to tune in.

 

The 2016 SGIC Plays Santa Awards- The Falling Down Drunk Edition

photo from William Kendall Books

Dead guy, meet imaginary guy. So you see where this is going.

So, 2016 has been something in the same way that having the stomach flu and the norovirus at the same time is something.

2016 summed up quite succinctly.

2016 summed up quite succinctly.

Santa is listening to a 7-hour mix tape of Duncan Sheik, Joy Division, and Werner Herzog Polka so he’s a bit tied up (he’s also just finished eating 7 Arby’s Beef N’Cheddar sandwiches in one setting after butt-chugging a bottle of Jim Beam).  Before Santa passed out while choking on that 7th Beef N’Cheddar he asked me to hand out some gifts to the local golf community.  So here we go…

So how was 2016 for you?

So how was 2016 for you?

For the Public Courses in Howard County, Santa brought you a comprehensive social media campaign!  The Twitter accounts at most Howard County courses are the equivalent of Twitter eggs.  The Facebook pages aren’t much better.  It’s a great way to engage with your existing players and…wait for it…hopefully find new players!  If you haven’t sent out a tweet in over 12 months, what exactly is the point?  Not saying you should be posting a dozen times a day, but weather-related updates, specials, or the occasional promotion is exactly what you should be using these tools for!  And while you’re at it let’s give that photography a touch up and have something done that looks professional.  People are visual.  Have recent, relevant and professional photos (and while you’re at it, buy a drone and take some flyover photos of holes).

For Willow Springs Golf Course, Santa got you a new clubhouse.  Seems the least he could do what with the old one having burned down.  And don’t worry, it’s got a fully stocked pro shop and a grill with local beers on tap.   A great option for golfers who want something shorter but still challenging.

For Hobbits Glen Golf Course, it’s a new bridge to replace the one that got damaged in the July storms that damaged downtown Ellicott City!  No more backtracking!

Hey there Compass Pointe!  For tweeting out cart path only on Christmas Eve (makes sense in the rain), you get an increased maintenance budget!  So let’s really make your courses shine.  Offer not valid on #1 on the South/West routing.  It gets a big lump of coal.

For Waverly Woods Golf Course, Santa got you your very own Pace of Play program!  Use this, and watch pace of play improve!  Be amazed at on-course marshals enforcing pace of play guidelines and helping groups move along faster.  Watch as weekend morning groups complete their rounds in four hours or less!  You’ll be shocked when the slow-poke groups get named, shamed and moved along!

For the local area, Santa dug deep and got you an LPGA Tour stop!  For a few years the LPGA had an event at Bulle Rock up in Havre De Grace, but that’s no more and the LPGA hasn’t been back in almost a decade.  It’s time to end that.  Williamsburg, VA and Atlantic City are NOT the DMV so quit trying to pass that off.  Between UMD Golf Course, Laurel Hill, TPC Potomac, and Worthington Manor there are several fantastic layouts.  Ideally, you’d have an event after the Williamsburg and before the DMV event and then go on to Atlantic City afterwards…so a nice mid-Atlantic swing.

Timbers at Troy…you’ve been naughty more than you’ve been nice of late, but Santa is going to give you karma and plenty of dollars to get your badly-needed bunkers and restoration work done.  Let’s hope for a completion date in time for what Santa hopes will be an early start to spring.  Golf in Howard County is best when you have everyone working to be the best.

Sligo Creek, Gunpowder, and Patuxent Greens…you get extended leases.  Losing Sligo Creek or Gunpowder would hurt a lot of aspirational golfers in the area.  Patuxent Greens is a tricky layout; I’d like to make it a point to play it in 2017.

For Renditions Golf course, you’re also getting some money to put into maintenance and signage.  Seriously.  Your course should be in better shape.  Make it happen.

Enjoy some Christmas music (the first few seconds are off- then it gets better), and your holiday.  A year-end roast and another Infomercial Review are forthcoming.

 

 

 

 

Silly Season Suggestions

It’s now December (and Verne Lundquist is signing off for the last time and will be missed by everyone), and unlike last year, the weather isn’t going to be conducive to any mid-month golf in spring/fall dress.  So your golf fix is largely going to be televised.  This coming weekend is the Franklin-Templeton Shootout which ends on Saturday (Golf Channel had the Thursday-Friday coverage and Saturday coverage went over to Fox).  So just when you thought you were done with Fox and their golf coverage…you’re not (in a perfect world Fox would just use the Golf Channel crew but we can’t have nice things, so there’s that).  However, Joe Buck was not there.  Whew.

Take the weekend off. Please.

Take the weekend off. Please.

While we’re talking about this tournament, Lexi Thompson is playing with Bryson Dechambeau and his sidesaddle putting stroke.  Which made me wonder?  Why not just pair up an LPGA pro with a PGA Tour pro?  Let them choose up sides if you want, or even better, have a fantasy draft!   You’re telling me Golf Channel wouldn’t air this live?  They’d air it live and run it back several times over.  The NHL All Star Game did this (starting in 2011; since discontinued), which gave us this bon mot:

I’m a died-in-the-wool Leafs fan and I still don’t know what the hell this was.  You can’t not watch but you can’t turn away.

What I’d do is have the guys seated, and draw a female player out of a hat.  She comes on stage, and picks her playing partner.  I’d allow trades (make the rules up as you go along-mostly to give the USGA an aneurysm).  Drinking?  Oh HELL YES.  Talking trash?  By all means.  I’d have all the players miked up.  Similar to what they do now, I’d play 2-man best ball two days, and a shamble the other day.  Have the women tee off a bit closer (7-8%).  Oh, I’d let them ride in carts.  With music.  The point is that it’s supposed to be fun.

So that’s problem #1 solved.

If it’s December, it also means that Golf Channel is in filler mode once the silly season events end (I’d expect that counter for the start of the PGA Tour season to be up any day now).  For the remaining two people who get Golf Channel and haven’t seen the edited-for-TV versions of The Trinity (that’s Caddyshack, Tin Cup, and The Legend of Bagger Vance), December is your lucky month.  I’m not remotely kidding.  I had a weird dream last night (and I have a lot of them) that someone decides to turn Tin Cup or Caddyshack into something similar to what Rocky Horror Picture Show is or The Big Lebowski (I’ve seen something similar at Lebowskifest, which was a tribute to The Big Lebowski).  Look- if I can’t get someone to play Judge Smails, Lacy Underalls or Danny Noonan, than my faith in humanity is for nothing.   Note to anyone from Golf Channel: if you’re reading this and you’re not thinking about it,  pour another tumbler of bourbon and think about it some more.  You could put this on tour and people would come, Ray.  People would come.

Tennis icon Arthur Ashe Playing golf during The Superstars.

Tennis icon Arthur Ashe Playing golf during The Superstars.

But more to the point is this…we need a new silly season event.  It came to me a few weeks ago, when after a long night of drinking (that’ll be enough judgement from you) I was watching ESPN Classic and the 70’s show The Superstars was on.  Take a bunch of professional athletes from all sports and let them compete in a bunch of silly events.  TV magic!  Arthur Ashe playing golf (see above).  Reggie Jackson swimming!  Roger Staubach riding a bicycle!   Short-shorts, and the likelihood of there being off-camera drinking at about 99%.

photo courtesy Getty Images

The buttery smooth swing of Charles Barkley. He’s committed. Or should be.

This got me thinking (as often happens when I’m watching TV and I’m half in the bag).  If you ever see me half in the bag with a steno pad and a pen, it’s a good time to be marginally worried.  We know that pro athletes love golf and many are really good at it (and a lot of NFLers are very good).  We also know that, in the 21st century, golf is one of those rare activities teams don’t mind players participating in.  So then I started thinking about something beyond a stroke-play event (NBC already shows a celebrity tournament from Lake Tahoe that features professional athletes, actors/actresses, and “other” celebrities).

Very talented basketball player plays golf. Film at 11.

Very talented basketball player plays golf. Film at 11.

But what about a team event?  At first I was thinking about something where the Championship teams would play against each other, but then it dawned on me that this could be difficult to pull off.  Then, much like that episode of Seinfeld when Costanza’s dad decides to bring back Festivus, it hit me like big shiny Festivus pole to the head-  have teams made up of players from each league!

NHL players playing golf? Why, I've never heard of such a thing!

NHL players playing golf? Why, I’ve never heard of such a thing!

If you timed it right (say July) you would have 3 of the big 4 team sports in their off season (NFL, NBA, NHL).  With 12 spots per team each league would have no problem finding willing participants (open it up to retired players if you want, or let each league pick 2 retired players to fill out their rosters).  If you wanted to include baseball players you could go with former players (and there’s a fair few who are pretty good).  Don’t want that?  Fine- find some former Olympic athletes (nice cross promotion for NBC/Golf Channel) and call it a ‘Team USA’ or something.  I’d have the players riding in carts and playing no more than 18 holes in a day (that should keep teams from concerns over health/safety).   Play the tournament over 3 days; crazy idea here but do a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday dates.  That means no overlap with PGA/Euro/LPGA/Champions events (honestly, how many repeats of the Final Round of the John Deere Classic do you need?).

NFL kicker likes golf. Alert the news media.

NFL kicker likes golf. Alert the news media.

Have a purse that goes to the Players Associations benevolent/emergency funds (or they can name a charity); very little work (I’m sure you could find a few willing sponsors to put their name on this) would get you a $200K 1st place, $150K 2nd, $100K third and $50K 4th place (that’s $500K total).  If you were to sell tickets at $25 a pop (very reasonable) and sell 15,000 tickets TOTAL (5,000 per day), that’s $375,000 right there.  Throw up some premium seats and the purse is more than covered and you haven’t even sold advertising, concessions, parking, etc.

Golf Channel could produce it and control the rights (file under “hey, look at this content we have”).  Think about all those Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf and how those get edited down…bingo.  You could easily condense the final round into a 90 minute segment, which is wonderful filler.

How would this work, you ask?  Simple.

Monday: 3-man shamble.  Each “league” gets 4 groups (4 groups x 4 teams= 16 groups).  Run a 2-tee start and things get going quickly.

Tuesday: 2-man best ball.  Each “league” gets 6 groups.  Put 2 groups together and it’s 12 foursomes.  Again- 2-tee start to get things moving quickly.

Tuesday night: After two rounds, the team that’s in first plays the team in 4th, and the team in 2nd plays the team in 3rd in 9 holes of match play.  Teams submit orders.  Team that finishes first picks if they want to play the front 9 or back 9.  2nd/3rd match plays the other 9 holes (so things move quickly).  Ties settled by sudden death playoff by teams picking one player from their 12.

Wednesday: Teams play 9 holes of match play in the morning (just like the Ryder Cup; 12 singles matches).  Teams that win those matches play back 9 in championship match.  Tied after that?  Anchors (guys who went out 12th) play sudden-death playoff.

Think about the effort they put into the old Tavistock Cup; with a replication of effort they’d be able to put together a decent event and they’d have something they could re-air later in the year.  Not that the odd showing of one of The Trinity isn’t enjoyable, but we’re approaching Law & Order rerun territory, folks.  Don’t suppose you’d run that Perfect Club Infomercial again?

Where to hold it?  Not sure it matters; off the top of my head I’d say either the West Coast (California), or somewhere in the Great Lakes area (Michigan/Traverse City area, Kohler, etc.).  I’m saying no on Vegas because it gets ungodly hot in July, but if that would work then by all means go for it.  Play it at night under the lights if you want to!

Song of the Day

I heard Nice as F**k on SiriusXM a couple months ago.  If you can get past the NSFW name, the song is great.  Everything a pop song should be.  Have a listen.  Nobody will tell.

 

 

Where the PGA and LPGA Tours borrow my brilliance

In January of 2015, I wrote about an idea of having a PGA/LPGA Tour All Star Game.  I came up with this idea after a few whiskies and watching the drunken mayhem that was the 2015 NHL All Star Game Fantasy Draft.  I often do my best thinking under the influence of whiskey.

Where the good ideas come from. Get in mah bel-lay!

Where the good ideas come from. Get in mah bel-lay!

Below is what I wrote (italics mine) in January of 2015:

So armed with that idea, a piece of paper, a pen, and a barely functioning brain, I came up with a plan- the 1st Annual LPGA-PGA Tour All Star Weekend!

We have a trade to announce...see ya Phil.

We have a trade to announce…see ya Phil.

Each Tour selects their best 12 players.  Players that are nominated but decline are deducted FedEx Cup points/CME Globe points.  Players that show up get the equivalent of a top 10 finish in a marquee event and guaranteed status for two years (same as winning an event).

Take one of the spring events.  For some reason I keep thinking Dallas would be a great “first option”…some time in April (after the Masters in that nine week period between the Masters and the US Open).

Pick two playing captains…don’t overthink it.  Mickelson and Woods?  Sure!  Think high profile.   Have fun with it.

Each team picks 12 players (6 men, 6 women).  You know…like, oh, I don’t know…the Solheim, Ryder, and Presidents Cups?  Have the “draft” on television.  I’m dead certain the Golf Channel would show it.  Allow a trade?  Hell yes!  Encourage drinking?  Oh hell yes!  Have Feherty or someone similar act as emcee.  When they go on stage they get their team bag and shirt (you make up bags for each team…the unused ones get raffled off for The First Tee or Donors Choose (have fans vote among a few selected charities).  The last player picked gets a car.

Format?  Team format, obviously.  Day one (Friday)- everyone plays one round of fourballs (teams are one man/one woman).  Day two (Saturday)?  everyone plays one round of foursomes (alternate shot).  Day three (Sunday)?  Match play.  Have the women play the odd numbered games, the men the even (so women take slots 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, the men 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12).  Tied?  Putting contest on the 18th green as to who can make the longest putt.  I’d chop down the rough.  We’re encouraging birdies and eagles here.

Nobody has to play 36 holes in a day.  The winning team gets FedEx/CME Globe points.  Shit, I’d let ’em ride carts if they want to.  I’d even let it be known quietly that a little on-course wagering won’t offend anyone’s tender mercies.  Everyone at this event is wearing a mic.

But what of tradition, you say?  Please.  You’re telling me that a tournament wouldn’t want this in lieu of a pedestrian 72-hole event?  People would buy tickets and quite happily (in fact, my guess is that a lot of places would be happy to host something like this).

It’s still golf.  Would you like to see, say, Rickie Fowler and Michelle Wie as teammates for a day or some tournament that nobody cares about?

I mention this because on Friday, the PGA and LPGA tours announced they would form a strategic alliance, which is something I’ve been pushing for since they announced golf was returning to the Olympics.

Naturally, the golf press ate this up and began speculating on a possible event.  Gee, fellas, I wrote about this and gave  you a nice blueprint more than 13 months ago.  As for fitting it in the schedule, you could simply schedule in on an off-week for the LPGA and double-up for the PGA Tour (like they do for limited-field WGC events).

And while we’re at it, it’s time for the PGA Tour to jettison their stay in Doral (for a litany of reasons).  I didn’t suggest this previously because at the time I had a potential conflict of interest, but that no longer exists.  I’d move the WGC event up to Streamsong Resort in Polk County (it’s just over an hour from Orlando).  For the Orlando-based players they’d get two weeks being able to stay close to home (I’d make sure that the Streamsong event and the Bay Hill event were played over consecutive weeks).  I doubt Golf Channel would object (they’re based in Orlando).

Shifting gears, Northwest Park has all 27 holes open, Falls Road is open, Hampshire Greens was shooting to be open today, and Waverly Woods was hoping to be open tomorrow.  Timbers at Troy is open today as well but no news on condition of the course.  With things expected to warm up this week, should be a good time to get out there for some early season golf!

An Honest Man’s Guide to Golf for Beginners

If you’re anything like me (I’m really, really sorry), you love golf, and it would be nice if other people loved the game too.  We want the game to grow, and if I had a dollar for every poorly written work of fiction on how the game is dying, I could probably afford to go buy a new box of Pro V1X’s (mostly because I don’t read this garbage, and neither should you).

They look happy but inside they're emotionally dead and wondering where the beverage cart is.

They look happy but inside they’re emotionally dead and wondering where the beverage cart is.

However, if you’ve ever stumbled upon a golf course and seen the looks of sorrow, frustration and agony (and that’s just using the port-o-let…rim shot!), maybe you’ve thought “these people need help” and you wouldn’t be wrong.  Or, you thought “you know, I could use something that will take my money and my time, and leave me a complete disaster of a human being” but didn’t feel like heroin was addictive enough for your taste.  Worse, you stumbled upon a couple drunks swearing like sailors and mocking each other (otherwise known as the 19th hole) and thought “they look normal…this could be fun!”

Maybe, just maybe, you watched golf on television (remember that brutal weekend when everyone was snowed in a few weeks ago) and thought “wow, they’re outside in the sunshine and they look happy…and that looks like fun” and wondered about taking up the game.  That’s lovely what you’re thinking.  I can understand it.

Most golf publications have written articles geared towards beginners (yes, there are magazines devoted to golf!), except they’re written by people very much part of the golf industry.  The analogy of drug companies peddling drugs isn’t completely off base (they need people to buy their magazines, support their advertisers, and buy golf equipment).  These folks are well meaning but honestly, they have long forgot what it’s like to take up the game, and how to speak to someone who wants to join our fraternity of insanity.

Okay, so you’re still reading and aren’t in a coma…so you’ve got that going for you.  You want to learn the game.  So now what?  I’ve tried to spell out my version of a guide to the game for beginners, written for someone who doesn’t care (because I’m not vested if or where you spend your dollars) how you get into the game.  I hope you find the game enjoyable, and if this helps, then all the better.

I could joke about having someone come hit you in the head with a tire iron, but frankly that seems cruel.

You’re going to need equipment, lessons, and patience (and alcohol).

Equipment:

If you watch golf on television and don’t fall asleep, you’re what’s known as a captive audience.  If you’re watching the commercials during golf telecasts, you’ve noticed that it’s equal parts alcohol, cars, boner pills, and golf equipment (this is not what they mean by Golf’s Grand Slam, if you’re wondering) and ads for whatever company is sponsoring the tournament (if you don’t know, it’s okay- they’ll bring the CEO of the sponsor into the booth where Jim Nantz (Nantz’s safe word may or may not be “Hello Friends”) or Dan Hicks will verbally fellate them).  You already have at least one of these things (a car), to play golf you’ll need equipment (and possibly alcohol).  I’ll let you fill in your own answer about the boner pills.

Despite what you hear, you do not need the latest and greatest driver technology, and honestly, what kind of idiot spends $500 on a new driver?  Clearly, dropping $400 is a much more reasonable and rational decision.  Really.  I mean, that’s a smart investment!  Actually not really.  Let’s not judge what someone spends on a new driver…even if that new driver has 12 adjustments (12!) and increased my…I mean someone’s driving distance by 20 yards.  You don’t need this.  Not right now at least.

You, on the other hand, can buy an entire set of clubs for far less than $500.  If i were starting out, I’d look at used equipment.  Even the stuff that is 3-4 years old is still relevant in terms of technology for the most part.

Some brands (Wilson, Spalding/Top Flite) even make starter sets that include clubs and a bag.  Worth a look.

A limited starter set will include a driver (that club with the giant head), a hybrid club, a few irons, a wedge or two, and a putter which will get you started.  They sell mens, womens, and left handed clubs.  Left handed women?  Clubs are out there but in all honesty it’s not the easiest to find.

There are golf sections in most large sporting goods stores (Sports Authority, Dick’s), golf-specific stores (Golf Galaxy, Golfdom are your options here in the DMV).  You can look online, but I’d be careful about e-bay, as a good chunk of the stuff they have are fakes.  There is a site (Second Swing) that sells used clubs.  There are numerous online shops for golf equipment, but make sure they’re licensed to sell the brands they’re selling (selling cheap, knockoff equipment is more common than you’d think, and like other counterfeiters, the money you give them isn’t exactly supporting the Girl Scouts).

In addition to clubs, you’ll need golf balls.  Initially go cheap.  There’s no reason to pay $30-$45+ for a dozen balls.  Shop around and you can find good quality balls for less than $20 per dozen.  A golf glove isn’t a bad thing, but you should buy something synthetic (they will last longer and they’re cheaper).

You’ll need some accessories.  Sunscreen, bug spray are absolute must-haves.  For sunscreen I’d recommend something that can be sprayed on- I like the Coppertone Sport.  Bug spray?  Think a spray that has some deet in it.  I’d also carry a mosquito bite stick (you can rub it on bites).  You’re going to be outside, so don’t be dumb.  Protect yourself.  A hat isn’t a bad thing, and some people like to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes.  You’ll also need some golf tees (cheap), a divot repair tool (a few bucks will get you taken care of), and ball markers.  Golf shops sell ball markers, but in all honesty what you probably have on you right now will work just fine (you can put this stuff in a ziploc bag- they can be sealed to keep moisture and other things out; you can buy small ditty bags or, if you’re like me, the Crown Royal pouches are a great and free option).  A small coin (penny, nickel, dime, quarter) will suffice (keep a couple just in case).  A ziploc bag with a couple band-aids and some antibiotic ointment isn’t a bad thing to have

Golf shoes are a nice thing to have, but a decent pair of running shoes will work in the short run (trail running shoes work great if you have those- I wore a pair several years ago playing a late-day round while walking and carrying my bag and they worked fine even though it was a bit damp and dewy).  They should be comfortable above all else.  Golf shoes have rubber spikes or are what’s called spikeless (with little rubber nubs).  They look more and more like athletic shoes.

You’ll need a golf bag to put all this in.  You can buy what’s called a staff bag (the pros use these), a cart bag (best if you’re going to be playing full time in a cart and/or need a lot of storage), or a stand bag (if you’re going to walk and carry your bag this is the way to go).  I have a big bag for cart golf that I use, when I travel I have a lighter stand bag that I use because of airline restrictions on bag weight.  Go with a stand bag to start.  You want light, ideally with dual shoulder straps (then you can carry it like a backpack).

Example of a stand bag with shoulder straps.  Wear it just like a backpack.

Example of a stand bag with shoulder straps. Wear it just like a backpack.

 

Lessons:

If nothing else in this blog resonates, let this be that one thing- when it comes to learning the game, seek professional help!  By that, take lessons from someone who knows what they are doing.  Your local golf course has a teaching professional.  There are community colleges that offer beginner golf lessons (not the worst option), and the PGA of America has been running a Get Golf Ready program geared at adults (5 lessons for a nominal fee).  They will teach you grip, stance and swing fundamentals.  I will say this- there’s a basic athletic stance (feet shoulder with, knees slightly bent) that, if you’ve ever played other sports you’ll be familiar with.  Same goes here, but let a professional work with you on this.

Any option other than the person you’re intimate with is the way to go.  Seriously.  I don’t care if you’re going out with a touring professional.  Go elsewhere for learning how to play the game.

Be reasonable with your goals.  None of us are turning professional.  I love this game, and I’m content with being a mid-handicapper (my index will fluctuate between an 8 and a 12; if I break 80 it’s a fantastic round).  Even if your goal is to make solid contact on every swing, that’s a great goal.  And remember- joking aside the goal should be to have fun.  If you take this game up, at some point, you’re going to have that perfect swing (at least once) and that ball is going to fly high, far, and straight.  It’s going to feel AWESOME.  And you’ll wonder why you can’t do that every time.  Welcome to the club.

Want to read/watch?  Jack Nicklaus’ Golf My Way remains one of the best options you can find.  Ben Hogan’s Five Fundamentals is another gold standard option.  I can’t recommend any of the newer books that are out because I haven’t read them (or seen the DVD’s).

Any golf professional will tell you what I’m about to tell you…when you practice on your own, start with your putting and work out to hitting shots with your driver.  Work on chipping and shots around the green.  From experience, I’ve seen plenty of golfers that are 30-50 yards shorter than me off the tee, and yet these players almost always have great short games.  They hit their chips, pitch shots and wedge shots close to the hole and usually make the putt.

You can work on your putting in a lot of places.  If you have an office with typical office carpeting, that makes a great surface to putt on.   You’ll need a putter, a ball, and a target.  An empty can of pop works fine; it’s the same size as a hole give or take.

One important thing to learn before going out on the course is to gauge how far you hit each club.  I’m going to go off of what I learned over 20 years ago…pick a mid-iron (a 7 or 5 iron will work), and hit it about 15-20 times.  See how far you hit it on average.  If you hit your 7-iron 130 yards, figure the 8 will go 120, the 9 will go 110…the 6 iron will go 140, 5 iron will go 150, and so on.  If you need to write this down to help you remember, write it down and keep it with you.

After your initial set of lessons, take more if you need it, but try to have an idea of what you want help with (maybe it’s the driver and your woods, maybe it’s the short game).  There are more people teaching golf than there needs to be (mostly these people who have “systems”).  Remember, the person you’re taking a lesson from is there to help YOU (not the other way around).  If they’re not helping, go elsewhere.   In the end, swinging a golf club (athletically speaking) isn’t significantly different from swinging a baseball bat or a hockey stick.  Same idea…solid contact using your body to generate power.  Swing thoughts, hand position, path…there’s a million swings.

Look at Jim Furyk’s swing (you can watch it here), then watch Jack Nicklaus here.  Two guys who have both been very successful with wildly different swings.  Remember- golf isn’t a game of how…it’s a game of how many.  It’s not a beauty pageant (thank god).

Patience:

You’re not going to go out and break 80 for an 18-hole round the first time out.  Suggestion would be to start with 9-hole rounds on shorter courses, and work your way up.  Sligo Creek, Northwest Park, Needwood all have 9-hole courses that are great for a novice.  In Virginia Hilltop is a decent 9-hole track.

As someone who’s played the game for close to 25 years, I say this with all sincerity- I’ve never met someone new who I haven’t gone out of my way to be helpful.  One big ask- nobody is asking you to play speed golf, but let’s keep things moving along.  How do you do this?

  1. Take one practice swing before your actual swing.
  2. Note where the ball went (if it didn’t go dead straight).  Watch your ball (it’ll make finding it that much easier).
  3. If you’re at more than double par on a hole, pick up.  It’s okay.
  4. If your ball is in a divot in the fairway, move it to where you can make a swing at it (later you’ll learn this shot but for now, make it easy on yourself).
  5. Play from the forward tees.  Even if the other golfers in your group are playing from the back tees, move up and make it easy on yourself.  When you get better you can move further back.
  6. Practice good etiquette.

Etiquette:

More than any sport, golf can be flat out confusing to a beginner.  It’s okay.  There’s a few basic ideas we’re dealing with.

  1. Don’t do anything to disrupt golfers in your group when they’re hitting.  This includes standing far back from them, making sure your shadow doesn’t interfere with them (if they can see your shadow, move to where they can’t), not talking or moving when they’re hitting, and not standing on their line when you’re on the green.
  2. Leave the course as you’d hope to find it.  If you take a divot, replace it.  If your ball goes into a bunker, rake it (there will be a rake provided) when you’re done.  If your ball makes a pitch mark or divot on the green, repair it.  Learn how here.
  3. If your ball mark is in the line (meaning someone’s putt would roll over it), offer to move it.  Learn how here.
  4. If you’re in the fairway, typically whoever is furthest out will hit first.  HOWEVER, if you’re closer and not ready to hit and someone is on the other side and ready, then let them go.  It’s called playing ready golf.  Same thing on the tee (normally, whoever had the lowest score on the previous hole would go first, but if you’re all playing from the same set of tees and you’re ready, have at it), but make sure everyone is good with playing ready golf.
  5. If your putt is holed, walk over and pick it up out of the hole, being careful to not walk on anyone’s line.  Then stand back so you’re not interfering or casting a shadow on your fellow golfers.
  6. If your putt is close to the hole (say 3-12 inches) your competitors may say “that’s good” or “pick it up” in which case, you can do just that.  It’s called a concession.  They’re saying “we know you’d make that tap-in so go ahead, add a stroke, and pick it up so we can move along”).

Alcohol:

First off, if you don’t drink or have no desire to drink alcohol, then don’t feel compelled to imbibe.  You shouldn’t be drinking during a round to the point of intoxication, but a cold beer during a summer time round can be awfully tasty.  The key word being moderation, if you’re one to enjoy a cold one.

Many a round of golf has been saved or killed with this bad boy.

Many a round of golf has been saved or killed with this bad boy.

You have two ways of going about this.  One is to buy beer at the snack bar/restaurant/halfway hut at the course, the other is if the course has a beverage cart.  The cart is almost always driven by a young lady (you’ll find an interview I did with a beverage cart driver on my blog- it’s pretty good if I don’t mind saying so), and the over/under on how many times she’s been hit on is about eleven billionty.  Don’t do it.  The beverage cart is like a pit stop in auto racing.  Designed to be quick, helpful and get  you moving.  Most beverage carts will have beer, sodas, gatorade/powerade, and snacks.  You’re paying a premium for convenience, so accept it, pay up, and move on.  And tip- minimum a buck per drink.

So that’s it…have a great time and welcome to the game!

 

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