Tag: Online shopping

Where I Break Down the Quiet Feet Infomercial

With much of Golf Twitter having a school cafeteria food fight over the pissing match between Brandel Chamblee and Jason Dufner, we go live to their ongoing feud:

To borrow a phrase from the Brits, their feud is really the stuff of handbags at 10 paces.  Either drop the mitts and settle it that way, or zip it.  I thought so.

Of a more pressing nature is another installment of my multi-part series on old Golf Channel infomercials.

The 1990’s and early 2000’s were an interesting time for Golf (and Golf Channel).  They didn’t have early-round PGA Tour rights, and hadn’t yet decided we needed to see Tin Cup, Bagger Vance, Caddyshack, and The Greatest Game Ever Played (at some point Michael Breed is going to break down the swings of Matt Damon and Shia LeBoeuf for the gong shows that they are).  And when you’re on 24 hours a day, you need filler (didn’t have Feherty either).  Which meant Infomercials, which I will watch because they’re never not accidentally hilarious.  I’ve started a series of these here and here for your reading pleasure (along with my Magnum Opus here).

For those of you unaware, Brandel Chamblee isn’t just a talking head.  He spent several years on the PGA Tour and won an event so the “he never played the game” tripe that some serve up at him is unfair (and if you think it’s easy to get on Tour please remove your head from your rectum).  He also made an infomercial, and it’s something.  So today, we pay tribute and break down The Quiet Feet infomercial.  As always, my sincere thanks for the inspiration to my spirit animal Down Goes Brown.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

0:13: The PowerPoint 1997 graphics are awesome.  I’ve only sat through about 12,000 meetings that had PowerPoint 1997 decks.  If I start having bad flashbacks, this is why.

0:17: Why hello there, Brandel.  Double pleated slacks, a shirt that would fit me (so on him it’s only about 3 sizes too small) and a fantastic head of hair.  Am I the only one that thinks he needs to grow a mustache?

0:28: WTH?  Is this golf after hours or something?

0:45: Cross-branding with the folks at Golftec, and a teaching professional who probably has his own system and routine (my routine is a heavy diet of bourbon and painkillers which explains why I have a 10.4 index and nobody asks me for help on their golf swing).

1:10: If you were playing a casual round and some guy in your group put this thing on of their own free will, you’re questioning a lot of your decisions, right?

1:18: Hi Brandel!  Looking good mate!  You totally do not sound like you’re reading this off of cue cards.  Not one iota.  Nope.

1:42: Close-up time.  I’m not saying he’s half in the bag, but if this were me I’d be completely in the bag by this point because these other two have the personality of a desk lamp.

2:22: Wardrobe change, and they’re outdoors now.   We’re using kids as props for this thing?  Really?

2:54: I’m picturing the cue card people getting blackout drunk.  Look, if you needed this 50 Shades of Crap strap thing to make you a better teacher, maybe you’re the problem.

3:01: DVD Alert.  With a user guide?  Free, if I call now?  Oh my god melt this down and inject it into my veins!

3:12: Tell me how to order.  Tell me.  TELL ME!  An 800 number AND a website designed by Prodigy Internet?  Take all of my money!  I mean, look at this poor schmuck moving his feet around- if only he could keep his feet quiet, the world would be a better place!

3:37: This thing is $49.95 plus shipping and handling.  They’re straps.  You can buy this at Home Depot or Lowes for less than 20 bucks.  But the DVD and the user guide!  Far be it me to be critical of Brandel, but if you honestly think that not having this thing kept you from winning, please get help.  I mean, just think how good Tiger might have been if he used this thing!

3:50: Oh, it comes in a waterproof detachable bag!

4:12: It comes in 3 junior sizes.  How many kids got this for Christmas and never touched a club again?

4:21: If you saw someone using this at work, you’re going to HR pretty much immediately, right?  I mean, this guy’s work internet browser history is going to be something; you can just tell.

4:53: Now they’re pimping Beaver Dam Falls (the course they’re at).  Oh shit, Kenny Rogers designed the course!  The same guy who wrote “The Gambler” and sang “Islands in the Stream” with Dolly Parton!  The namesake for Kenny Rogers Roasters?  Where is this place?  I MUST KNOW NOW.  I mean, when you can design a chicken restaurant AND a golf course, AND sing duets with Dolly Parton…that’s living the High Life.

SONG OF THE DAY:

Come on, was there any doubt on this?  Turn this on full volume in your car and drive around with your windows open.

 

 

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.

 

Potomac Shores Course Review

When I think of Jack Nicklaus-designed courses, I think of private country clubs with members who enjoy their enclaves of solitude (Muirfield Village in Ohio comes to mind pretty quickly).  In that I’m decidedly not a member anywhere, I accepted that this was the way things were.  So when I heard about a Nicklaus-designed course down in Dumfries, VA named Potomac Shores being open to the public a couple years ago, I’ll confess I was interested (especially given Potomac Shores‘ rather interesting history).

Driving range & practice area at Potomac Shores.

Driving range & practice area at Potomac Shores.

There’s little question that if there was a Mount Rushmore for American golf architects that Nicklaus would be on it; the sheer volume of his work (I’m convinced if someone wanted a course on the moon that Nicklaus would not only design it but would incorporate his own style along with the natural contours of the moon) and that his work has become as much of a brand as anything else he touches (I haven’t had his ice cream yet but you know it’s probably good).

From the 1st tee at Potomac Shores. Not a handshake hole by any means.

From the 1st tee at Potomac Shores. Not a handshake hole by any means.

Rather than go hole-by-hole with some comments, I’ll separate this into a few different parts:

WHAT I LIKED:

  1. The course is more than playable for low, mid and high handicappers.  I play (not nearly enough but work and life get in the way) with a former colleague who plays to an index in the low 20’s, while my index is closer to 10.  I’m a bit longer off the tee and my years of practice around the greens pays off on occasion.  But you don’t have to be a low-digit handicapper to enjoy this course.  From the silver tees (that we played) it’s less than 6,000 yards but still plays to a 132 slope which is no pushover.  If your index is in the 20’s and you play from the gold tees (because you see just under 6,400 yards and think ‘piece of cake’) you’re going to be in for a long day (and by that, you may want to make sure you have plenty of balls).
  2. Fairways are generous but bad shots get punished.  It’s not impossible to put the ball in the fairway off the tee and leave yourself a decent chance to get the ball onto the green in regulation.  Which leads me to my next point…
  3. Greens are big and require accuracy.  Greens are often multi-tiered and being on the wrong side or wrong tier is, in some cases, worse than being off the green.
  4. Service.  Too many courses still fail to see golfers as customers.  Not the case here.  Everyone I ran into was unfailingly polite and hospitable.  The starter was competent and made us feel welcome.  The people in the pro shop were friendly and helpful.  The course is managed by Troon Golf if that matters to you.
  5. Ice water stations.  The day we played was quite hot and humid.  Being able to stop for a cup of ice water was pretty darn nice.  Makes you wonder why more courses don’t do this especially in the mid-Atlantic.
  6. Beverage cart.  It’s hot, and occasionally you want something besides ice water.  Saw the beverage cart twice (we went out early so I don’t expect to see them early on).  Can’t complain.
  7. Lack of houses.  Even though Potomac Shores is part of a larger housing development, it didn’t feel like it (in 4-5 years this may not be the case).  It felt like a course by itself that was adjacent to a housing development.  I played South River a few years ago (before it went private) and it felt like I was in someone’s backyard.
  8. Free range balls.  We paid $100 each to play which isn’t free.  Including range balls and use of their excellent practice facility is a nice touch.  The range (picture above) was country-club level nice.
  9. Conditions.  Despite the heat wave we were in, the course was, for the most part, in great shape (the photo below you can see some brown spots in the fairway but these were few and far between).
9th hole at Potomac Shores (their 'signature' hole).   Tee is more than a bit elevated.

9th hole at Potomac Shores (their ‘signature’ hole). Tee is more than a bit elevated.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  1. The horse flies and other biting insects.   If you play here in the summer, bug spray is pretty much a requirement.  Not remotely kidding on this one.  On the scorching hot & humid day we played, you can tack sunscreen on.  Re-apply often.  A hazmat suit might not be a bad idea.
  2. Bunkers.  A few bunkers are good.  A lot is too many.  I know that Nicklaus uses them and that’s fine, but on two occasions I didn’t have a rake anywhere near the bunker.  For a place that does so many things right, this seemed odd.  Did Michael Greller come and take them or something?
  3. Sizes in the pro shop.  I’m big & tall and would occasionally like to come home with a souvenir beyond the logo ball.  I’d have happily handed over money for a shirt if they had one in my size.  I can’t be the only person who thinks this.  This happens a lot at higher-end courses (although if I’m being honest, She Who Is Really In Charge probably likes that I’m not throwing down $60 on a golf shirt with regularity).  But it would be nice to have it as an option.
  4. No GPS in carts.  Given that rangefinders and wearable devices are pretty common, having carts with GPS would help (especially for first-timers) especially with pace of play.  We were first out and finished in 3 hours 40 minutes playing as a foursome (we got paired up with a couple who were members).

IF YOU GO (AND YOU SHOULD):

  1. The course is right off I-95 just south of Potomac Mills.  If you don’t normally trek this way, traffic sucks.  I mean, it really sucks.  So give yourself plenty of time to get there (they have free range balls- did I mention this?).
  2. A yardage book isn’t a bad expenditure if they don’t have GPS on carts, because several holes are target variety and you can (and will) end up in trouble if you don’t know where to avoid.  Measurements are to the centre of the green, NOT to the pin (and the greens are huge so take heed).
  3. Play it forward.  I played from the silver tees and didn’t feel the least bit shame in doing so.  I prefer to hit short irons as approach shots rather than long irons and hybrids.   It’s more fun (not to brag but I made two birdies and should have had 1-2 more).
  4. The greens are huge.  Being on the right side of the green is a huge advantage.
  5. A couple holes have views of the Potomac river (notably from the 3rd tee).
  6. There are several holes that have lengthy rides between holes (even on a cart) so the course really isn’t a walker’s paradise.
Third hole at Potomac Shores. Pro tip: don't get too cute at cutting off the dogleg.

Third hole at Potomac Shores. Pro tip: don’t get too cute at cutting off the dogleg.

OVERALL:

To the best of my knowledge it’s the only Nicklaus designed course in the area that’s open to the public (if you can get on Creighton Farms contact me and I’ll be happy to join you).  I’m not a guru of golf architecture but this course is definitely a Nicklaus design.  Lots of elevated tees and greens, plenty of bunkers, and playable for a variety of levels.  Golfweek has it ranked in the top 10 for ‘Best You Can Play’ in their 2017 rankings for the state of Virginia if that matters to you.    Most importantly, I had a good time and I’d happily come back.  If you haven’t been, it’s worth the drive.

 

Where I Break Down The Alien Wedge Infomercial

Today is December 26th, so depending on where you are you might be doing a host of activities.  If I were back home in Toronto we’d be drinking heavily while planning backyard rink skates (since unlike last year it’s cold enough) and watching the start of the World Junior Hockey Tournament on TSN.  People in Australia are watching the Boxing Day cricket test (and drinking heavily), while people in Britain are watching soccer (possibly rugby) and drinking heavily.  Here in America it’s post-Christmas sales, college bowl games of middling consequence (locally, Maryland is playing in something called the Quick Lane Bowl although given that She Who Is Really In Charge (SWIRIC) is a Maryland alum I’ll not joke that much about it), and trying to get all those electronic games and toys to work (hint- when in doubt, a glass of bourbon works wonders).

Photo courtesy Johnnie Walker

The finest tool for putting together those Christmas toys.  Trust me.

While SWIRIC is out shopping with her friends today (it’s a holiday tradition and I’m thrilled she’s doing it), I’m revisiting a classic infomercial from the days when Golf Channel used to air these all of the time.  Previously, I recapped the genius that was the Perfect Club, then the GolfLogix GPS.  Today, it’s the Alien wedge (full admission- I bought one years ago after a particularly brutal day when i seemed to find the sand on every hole and my playing partners started calling me Sandman).  Unfortunately, the commercial is for British audiences (thus the price in pounds sterling); not sure why but the US version isn’t on YouTube.  Let’s watch this, shall we?

Let’s be honest; infomercials were almost made for golfers struggling with their game (or 99.99% of them).  You’re at home half in the bag at 2:00 a.m. and maybe you don’t have Skinamax or ShowMeAGoodTime.  So you watch Golf Infomercials (somewhere, there’s a Golf Infomercial cosplay group and I will believe this until I’m dead).  So let’s review this bad boy, shall we?

0:02: Oh god, it’s a real alien!  Oh may gawd!  It’s coming for the world!  Oh, it’s just the Alien Shotsaver Wedge.  Watch as it blasts through sand…shot in glorious standard definition!

0:15: Somewhere there is a large group of men with nondescript British accents whose only jobs are voice-over work, because if you can’t have a great product, have a guy with a British accent describing it.  It’s a wedge!  A sand iron (which is a term nobody uses)!  It’s…the Alien Wedge!

0:25: Deep roughs?  Who uses that term?  I’ve heard it called rough, cabbage, tall stuff, junk, “you’re screwed” and ‘yeah, good luck finding that one’ but never roughs.  And who hits the ball off a cement cart path?  Oh wait, nobody.  You drop it closest point of relief no nearer the hole.  That’s a fantastic way to break a club and/or a wrist.  Maybe if the paths are hard-packed sand (or shells) you give it a go, but otherwise…use the rules.

0:35: Now we get to the regular golfer focus group portion.  Young guy with British accent?  Check.  Middle aged dopey white guy?  Check.

0:45: This isn’t the original Alien wedge (that I bought in a store) it’s the NEW Alien wedge.  It looks slightly less ridiculous (hint- if someone has one of these in their bag it’s a small cry for help…and I was that guy for a while).  The one I had didn’t have grooves; it had dots.

1:00: They show all of these shots out of various lies but they don’t show but one or two actually landing on the green.  Kind of makes you wonder.

1:11: Was wondering when the nondescript female golfer would show up.  You better believe she has a southern accent and a big straw hat (I can’t wait until this becomes a thing again).  You know, 20 years ago she’s got a pack of Virginia Slims in her pocket.  My aunt (god rest her soul) could break 80 in her sleep and could manage a dart and a razor-sharp short game better than anyone I’ve ever seen.  The curb-stomping she delivered to a pair of idiots who didn’t want to play with a woman (especially one who could say ‘bless their hearts’ and mean go f**k yourselves in a way I’ve yet to see replicated) is the stuff of legend.

1:16: And we have the young junior male golfer.  See kids- you can be cool too if you buy one of these.  No, really.  Do you think Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler had one of these?  I feel like if Rickie Fowler had one he’d use it to play motorcycle polo.

1:22: Graphics.  Probably done on a Commodore Vic-20.  To quote Ben Wright and Peter Alliss, majestic.  No expense spared.  The 12-year old who did these was well worth the 50 dollars they gave him.  Earned every penny of it.

1:30: Sound effects are off.  Don’t use the sound of an iron shot from the fairway for sand shots.  You hear that from someone in a greenside bunker, I’d suggest ducking and protecting your “one meat, two veg” if you catch my drift (or at the very least try to help the guy find what hole his ball ended up on).  You want that thump sound.  Any golfer knows that.  And hey, look, it’s old man in a straw hat…come on down!  Greg Norman looked good in that.  Maybe Jim Thorpe (because I’m afraid to tell him it looks bad).  Nobody else does.

courtesy National club golfer

The only man who looks good in a hat like this.

1:42: If you can’t trust someone trying to pull off the Bryson Dechambeau look long before he did, I’m not sure what you can trust.  You know who looks good in the Hogan/newsboy hat?  Hogan.  You know who doesn’t?  Anyone not named Hogan.  Stop trying to make this a thing.  Between this and the flat-bill hat thing, can people not wear a regular hat?  While we’re on the subject, you know who didn’t wear a hat for years?  Arnold Palmer.

courtesy GolfWRX.

Bryson Dechambeau and his Hogan hat. Want to make a personal statement? Win tournaments. As you were.

courtesy GQ

No hat. No gimmick. Just here to kick ass and take names.

Arnie’s gimmick?  It’s called winning and being one bad ass mo-fo.  And being cool as hell.

2:00: More shots from a variety of lies, and yet, you don’t see them land.  It’s almost like…no, that can’t be true.

2:07: Five bucks says the goober that takes that giant pelt of a divot doesn’t replace it, and then complains if his ball ends up in a divot.  Any superintendent sees this must be quietly sobbing in a corner.  Bad enough when the pros do it, but when a 20-handicapper takes a hairpiece-sized divot and leaves it (not even filling it)…inexcusable.

2:16: Hey look- old white guy in a straw hat!  Gee, I wonder who he voted for in the last election (gonna take a wild guess he’s not a BernieBro).  I’m surprised he took the big cigar out of his mouth long enough to use words.  Unrelated, you know this guy is a total Judge Smails at his club.  While we’re at it, let’s just say that the chances he says “Happy Holidays” are zero.  You do you, Tex.  Hook ’em Horns.

2:23: Cargo shorts on a guy whose grip is something out of a What Not To Do seminar whose knees are locked…must turn away and not see…must turn away.  Next to popped collars, my other men’s fashion choice I’d like to kill with fire is cargo shorts.  Most regular shorts come with two back and two front pockets.  Other than a survival mission in the Sahara Desert, you can get by without cargo shorts.  Put your keys in your golf bag along with any coins (please- the noise is distracting to the other players in your group).  An extra ball in one front pocket and some tees, a divot repair tool and a ball marker in the other front pocket.  Your phone goes in the bag (on silent/vibrate).  Take a photo by all means and then quietly (and quickly) put it back.  Hell for me is a world where every guy wears cargo shorts and every woman wears leggings and ugg boots.

2:35: Free top-quality headcover?  Take my money!   Headcovers on irons and wedges are morally wrong.  Don’t.  Those neoprene things?  Don’t.  No serious golfer has them.  It’s like having a stroke counter tool.  Save your money; that beer you buy at the turn will do your game a world of good more than a stroke counter tool or iron covers.  If I see a guy in a cart with neoprene covers on his irons, the following things will be undoubtedly true:

1) He will have a ball retriever in his bag and will be better at retrieving balls than he is at playing (oh, and if you hit one in the drink I promise you he’ll fetch it for you…and five other balls).

2) He will get indignant if you mention “we should pick up the pace a bit”…because he’s got nowhere to go and all day to get there but if he gets close to the group in front of him he’ll complain about how slow they are.

3) He will want to keep score for you even if he doesn’t know you and will ask you what you had.  Especially if he doesn’t know you.

4) He will give you a swing lesson that he heard from someone that will make no sense.  Probably a scramble tournament.

5) He will have a poker chip that he uses to mark his ball.

2:45: The “act now and you’ll also get…” portion.  Discount vouchers!  And it comes in a box so the UPS/FedEx/DHL delivery person knows you’re a golf junkie who buys stuff from infomercials.  It’ll look good next to the two ball retrievers you have in your bag, and that’s what counts.

So enjoy the trip back in time to the days of standard definition and Infomericals.  As I find more, I’ll post recaps because if we can’t laugh about them, then what’s the point?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where I Break Down the GolfLogix GPS Infomercial

The latest in 2009 technology Infomercials with 100% less Peter Kessler!

The latest in 2009 technology Infomercials with 100% less Peter Kessler!

Maybe it’s just me, but I will watch infomercials.  I won’t buy anything but let’s be honest, the whole idea of them is a bit hilarious.  Golf infomercials are just as hokey as anything out there.  Previously I reviewed the infomercial for The Perfect Club, which is, in my opinion, the apex of Peter Kessler’s career.  But hearing that Nike will no longer make clubs, balls or bags got me a bit nostalgic for some of these inventions (I know I’m linking to Golf Digest and I do so knowing what a complete gong show their website is in terms of navigation).  I suggested on Twitter that if Tiger Woods is going to no longer use Nike clubs, maybe he should use an Alien wedge and a Perfect Club.  Who knows, if he has the chipping yips maybe it can help him.

In any event, before we had wearable GPS devices and they weren’t a fairly common device to carry, GPS devices were rare (I remember the first time I played with a guy who had a Sky Caddie and thought we’d never improve upon that).  But even before that, we had the GolfLogix GPS Infomercial on what seemed like an endless loop on Golf Channel.  Behold:

Let’s watch this in all of its SD glory, shall we?

0:02: That didn’t take long.  If you look at a 150 yard plate and are confused about what club to hit, maybe we need to have a chat.  Guy in a cart with 2 bags with no passenger.  This will never end well; kind of screams out “who likes slow play…THIS GUY!”

0:08: I like Gary McCord but for the love of everything, can someone tell him that the landing strip below his lip is…disturbing?  Why is this a thing?  I don’t mind his duster, but the landing strip…holy crap.  Kind of makes you want Peter Kessler, doesn’t it?

0:16: I’ll say this for the GolfLogix GPS; it’s not that big.  No bigger than a modern sky caddie or the Bushnell range-finder I use.

0:44: Garmin, a world leader in GPS.  Admit it- you wanted him to say “it’s made in Germany- they make great stuff over there!”  Oh, and nobody is walking an Arizona resort course that’s target golf, and the guy who is walking wouldn’t be seen with that fancy technology.  He’ll step it off himself.  Oh, and that guy who’s walking?  You can bet cash he’ll have a ball retriever.  Possibly two.

0:52: Practically bullet-proof?  What exactly does that mean?  Is that like practically bikini-waxed?  Too soon…I know.

0:55: It took 54 seconds before we know Peter Kostis is in this thing?  Let’s just say that the fact he’s reading cue cards is about as obvious as it is he’s wearing a blue shirt.  I like Kostis (he’s one of the few good things about a CBS golf crew that needs a major overhaul), and his swing analysis is always bang-on but wow…to borrow a slogan, buy a stamp and mail it in!

1:20: Audio cut out briefly.  You didn’t miss much.

1:25: More confidence AND more fun?  If I see two bathtubs rolling out I’m stopping this.  Just saying.  Not judging but that kind of gets out of my purview.

1:38: Those swings they’re showing are all kinds of ugly.  These people don’t need a GPS.  They need lessons.

1:57: No pressing buttons or pressing through complicated screens?  Far be it me to speculate but the Venn diagram of people this was geared for and the people who own a Jitterbug phone are two circles on top of each other…right?

2:09: It knows where you are on every hole…showing a guy near a hazard.  So does it say “hey goober, might we try to find the fairway at some point today?” because that would be funny.

2:12: It will speed up your round?  Really?  If somebody hands one to Jason Day and tell him “hey, this will speed up your round” I will pay you cash.  The fact that he named his kid Dash and his pace of pay is glacial is him trolling us, right?  Seriously, Jason- if you’re reading this…let’s pick up the pace a bit.

2:40: The part where Kostis and McCord are talking like regular guys about “how we need to get more people playing the game” but wait- I didn’t think anyone cared about growing the game?   A GPS isn’t going to help you find your ball if you hit it into waste areas.  Just saying.  And now we have a montage of people looking for their ball.  Crazy idea- play your next shot and then help the guy look for his ball.

3:15: Yes, the USGA has approved DMD’s (distance measuring devices) but I’ll still get at least one idiot a month who will see me use mine and tell me it’s cheating.

3:17: Which one should you pick?  Ooh…I know!  The GolfLogix GPS!  Let’s see if I’m right!

3:25: Yup, old people can’t use lasers….or use the computer unless they’re screaming about kids on the internet.

3:43: Hot damn!  They picked the GolfLogix Golf GPS!  Damn, I’m good!  And hey- it’s powered by Garmin.  Garmin!  I’m just going to assume that Gary McCord’s safe word is Powered by Garmin.  It probably is, but who knows for sure?

4:02: The numbers change while I walk…I can only imagine how explaining him how the sun and moon work must have gone.

4:18: Yes, distances to front/middle/back.  FYI, the Sky Caddie does the same thing if you were wondering.  I almost bought one several years ago but went with the laser range-finder.

4:35: If you’re a regular player and see 258, three words: JUST HIT IT.  You don’t have that shot.  Or this guide from a sprinkler head with a sense of humour:

Just hit it.  Follow instructions.

Just hit it. Follow instructions.

4:42: That was an awkward transition; now they’re wearing different clothes (it’s called continuity, people) and Kostis is talking about pushing a little button.  Nope.  Not gonna go there.

4:50: Yes, it’ll show you the distance of your last shot.  When I caddied I did that as well once, telling this old geezer who asked me how far he was to the green “you hit your tee shot 120 yards; you’ve got 320 to the front, 335 to the pin 350 to the back” being serious about wondering if he could reach the green (yes, in probably 2-3 more shots).  This was in the mid 1980’s when persimmon woods were still common.  So from 320 to the front he thought he could reach the green with a 3-wood.  So no, slow play didn’t start because of Tiger Woods.

5:20: Kostis is sending McCord out on a mission.  Is he coming back with breakfast?  Maybe some beer?   I’m hoping that McCord is looking for his former comedic foil, David Feherty.  At the risk of having a hot take or blowing up golf twitter, Feherty’s interview show is really in need of something new.  For starters, he needs to ask better questions and quit fawning over the people he interviews.  Second…he’s falling victim on NBC/Golf Channel of being unable to tell me, the viewer, something I don’t know.  He was a former professional who won on the European Tour and played in a Ryder Cup.  Enough of the same tired jokes.  Mix humour with actual information and quit fawning over the players.  It’s okay to be critical; tell us why!

5:33: He’s in he right rough.  It’s okay.  Put the milk cartons down, everyone.  I’m going to say this again.  Gary, you seem a swell guy, but I’m begging you- shave that goddamn landing strip off your face.  Leave the Rollie Fingers duster if you want.  Let’s be honest, a GPS is not a secret weapon.  We call that a foot wedge.  He’s 142 to the center, folks and naturally he knocks it stiff.  How is it that when he hit the shot it was sunny and clear and when it landed it was overcast?  In film they call that “continuity” problems.

6:02: “Thanks, Gary” is Kostis’ safe word.  I’m serious.  Now we get to the “Gary McCord is so dumb (HOW DUMB IS HE?)” part of the show.  And if you haven’t been watching, ABC’s remake of the original Match Game has been genius.  Alec Baldwin as host is…how do I put this…is an inspired choice?  As in, he’s good at it?  If you’re asking, of course they brought back the Gene Rayburn long skinny microphone.  I’m just going to say that having people drink while playing…works.  The Canadian reboot has Sean Cullen and Debra DiGiovanni (both are hilarious but criminally under-used).

6:22: Another badly-edited transition and with McCord off huffing glue (allegedly), Kostis is now giving the sell.  I mean, if you can turn it on, you can use it!  He didn’t say what you could use it for (I mean, could I use it to kill a bug?), but I’m going to go with the idea that the intended use would be getting distances.

6:37: More ugly swings from regular golfers…that GPS device won’t help someone who’s in the Charles Barkley arena of ugly swings.

6:53: Didn’t know GolfLabs were the leader in independent testing…okay.  While we’re talking about improving pace of play, why is it that I see 4 guys playing and only 1 ball?  Hint- whoever is next should be ready to go.

7:23: Look, 7 minutes over 9 holes isn’t bad, but continuous putting, playing ready golf, and playing from the appropriate set of tees will cut even more time.  We also don’t know what the normal difference between the front and back 9 times are.  I’ve played with guys who, if you give them the number they still look completely befuddled.  Or they’ll ask me what they should hit.  This is why I drink.

7:45: I’m not Nate Silver but 16 golfers on an Arizona course is not exactly what I would call a significant sample size.  But go on…

8:25: Is adding and subtracting that hard?  IF you’re a legit 8 handicap and you can’t figure out basic yardages, that handicap is the equivalent of a lot of Botox treatment.  It’s called vanity.  I’m calling malarkey on that guy’s 8 handicap index unless he putts as well as touring professionals.

Look, if you don’t have a rangefinder or a GPS it’s not a bad investment assuming you know how far you hit each club (and are honest about it).  There are smartphone applications that can assist (the free ones are uniformly bad) as well.

 

 

 

 

The 2016 Predictions You Didn’t Ask For

As we say adieu to 2015 and hello to 2016, I thought I’d whip out my crystal ball and see what my magic crystal ball has in store for golf this coming year.

Only slightly more accurate than most.

Only slightly more accurate than most.

PGA Tour: With the season starting on Thursday of this coming week (in Hawaii so get ready for lots of pictures that will make you want to get on the first thing smoking to Hawaii), it’ll be interesting to see who gets off to a hot start and generates much of the early ink.  For the life of me, I’ll never understand why someone wouldn’t play in the Kapalua event (no cut, limited field, plenty of FedEx Cup points).

I know that everyone has a hot nut all over Jordan Spieth, but he’s coming off of a 12-month stretch where he was the dominant player in the world.  I see him struggling early on and don’t see him repeating at Augusta.  The schedule is brutal especially from June onward with three of the four majors being played from mid-June through the end of July.

I'm sure this will look fantastic with a green jacket.

I’m sure this will look fantastic with a green jacket.

What’s interesting (and worth keeping in mind) that the last PGA Tour event to make the top 60 for the Olympic tournament is the Greenbrier Classic (the cutoff date is July 11th), so players will go into the Open Championship the following week already knowing who is or isn’t qualified for the Olympics (and will also play the PGA Championship after the cutoff date for Olympic qualifying, which means that half the majors this year won’t count towards Olympic qualifying.

I’m also curious as to what the attitudes will be toward the Olympic tournament.  It’s a 72-hole stroke play event (same as the week-in, week-out tournaments on the PGA Tour).  Remember- this is a course that was built for the Olympics, so it’s really a case of nobody really knowing what to expect.

Predictions: I think we’ll see a dark horse/first timer win at Augusta; my crystal ball thinks one of Jason Day (has played well there), Patrick Reed or Ian Poulter will be the last man standing.  It would be great for golf to see Rory McIlroy win the Masters and complete the career grand slam, but I don’t see it happening this year.

Poulter is ready for the PGA Tour's "Disco Appreciation Day"

Poulter is ready for the PGA Tour’s “Disco Appreciation Day”

At the US Open, thankfully they go back to Oakmont.  Hopefully the USGA will manage to not f*** the course up that much (they don’t need to, and they should resist any attempts at trying to gin something up).  I don’t know why, but I have a wild hunch that this will be the year Phil Mickelson finally gets over at the US Open.  I like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka to contend.  I’d scratch anyone who changed brands in the off season; historically that rarely ends well.

At the Open Championship, the last three times that the Open Championship has been held at Royal Troon (this year’s venue), it was all won by first-time Americans who had not won majors previously.  Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed are, for me, the guys this year (your previous winners at Troon were Todd Hamilton, Justin Leonard, and Mark Calcavecchia).  The last time a non-American won at Royal Troon.  Bobby Locke in 1950.

The PGA Championship is held in late July (two weeks after the Open Championship and the week after the Canadian Open) at Baltusrol in New Jersey.  The last time it was held there (2005) Phil Mickelson won.  I think this will be the major that Spieth wins this year, which will put him an Open Championship shy of the career grand slam.

Ryder Cup: When last heard from, the Europeans won (again) and the US team spent several months trying to figure out what the hell happened (Europe played better).  So this time we go to Hazeltine National in Minnesota.  Seriously?  This is the best we can do?  Is it beyond the PGA of America to play the event on the West Coast or somewhere in the Rockies?  Your US captain is Davis Love III, the European captain is Darren Clarke.  Barring injuries, I think the Europeans will win yet again.

Locally:

I think at least one fairly well-known public course doesn’t survive 2016 barring a sea change in the economy.  It could be in Maryland or Virginia, but I really have a bad feeling (and I hope I’m wrong).

I think at least one private course either goes public or goes to some kind of a public-private relationship where they allow more non-member play.  I’d like to see the gong show that is Turf Valley open themselves up to public play during shoulder months or at least release tee times within 72-96 hours to the public.

To that, with private courses struggling to attract new members, they could do worse than start to try to attract new members by selling tee times inside 48-72 hours that would otherwise go empty.

Four Wishes for the local area:

1) With the PGA Tour’s annual stop moving around (it’s at Congressional this year and 2018…2017 is up in the air), I’d like to see the LPGA return to the DMV.  I’m not counting their event in Williamsburg; I’m talking something within an our of DC or Baltimore.  The LPGA Tour has done so many things right in the last few years that I’d like to see locals get to see what a fantastic tour they have.  Ideally, you’d shoehorn an area event before the tour stop in Atlantic City which would be an easy trek for the players to make.

2) I’d like to see public courses step up their game in terms of playing conditions (talking to you, Renditions and Timbers at Troy) and start to enforce pace of play and time par (pointing at you, Waverly Woods).  Yes- you might make a few golfers upset, but you’re going to make dozens more happy.

3) On a personal level Howard County needs an additional public course.  Ideally you’d look to Western Howard County where you have cheaper land than you would in the Columbia/Elkridge/Ellicott City area.  I’d also like to see a MCG-type situation in the county, where you’d bring several courses under one jurisdiction and one umbrella.  MCG isn’t perfect but there’s no doubt they’ve improved playing conditions at their courses.  Even if you went in with some kind of partnership with Baltimore County, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it meant better course conditions and improved pace of play.

4) To see Golfdom or some form of competition come into the Maryland suburbs and compete with the Golf Galaxy/Dick’s Sporting Goods duopoly.  I remember the old Washington Golf Centers and mourned the demise of Mammoth Golf.  It’s not that Golf Galaxy and Dick’s Sporting Goods are bad, it’s that I’d like to see competition and more options.

Two Wishes for me:

1) I know that the schedule makes it hard, but I’d like to see the PGA Tour do a better job of giving the Canadian Open a better spot on the schedule.  What they’re doing this year is particularly offensive.  The event always does great attendance, and their National Open deserves better.

2) To play more, and improve course reviews.  The first one is simple, the second part isn’t.  I want to have course reviews that you, as a reader, would find useful.  I’m not sure how this will look, but I’m looking at changing how I review courses to make it relevant to ordinary golfers and ask the kind of questions an average golfer might have.  I’ve long argued that Golfweek and Golf Magazine’s course reviewers aren’t bad at their job, but 99% of their course reviews are destination tracks, and some of their ratings sound a bit jaded.  When it’s your job it’s one thing, but when you’re paying out of pocket to play somewhere, you want to know you’re seeing something worth your dollars.  Nobody reimburses me for my green fees and my guess is if you’re reading this you’re in the same boat I am.

My sincerest wishes to all of you for your best year ever in 2016.  Hit ’em straight, and make lots of pars and birdies.

Song of the day:

Before they became huge, U2 did one of their first US tours in 1983 to support the War album.  They did a concert at Red Rocks Ampitheatre and filmed it.  Below is my favourite track of theirs.  Hard to believe this is 30+ years old.  Still sounds great.

Shoe Review- New Balance NBG2002

With the untimely demise and departure of my beloved Foot Joy XPS-1 shoes (damn you Foot Joy for discontinuing them), I was forced to look elsewhere for a new pair of shoes this year once the XPS shoes starting coming apart (to be fair, I had them for 3 years and wore them in a variety of conditions.

My options are limited because I have a very wide foot; I’ve had minimal luck with Adidas  (they were okay comfort wise but I wanted a more stable platform), so I started looking.  I’ve never had good luck with Nike (I bought a pair of their shoes 20 years ago and regretted it after one round- uncomfortable and two spikes came out mid-round) and Puma just feel terrible on my feet.

I’ve been a fan of the soft spikes since they came out, and trying on a pair of spikeless shoes, I immediately scratched this off my options.  Since I tend to play early morning rounds and given that we do get a bit of rain here, a spikeless shoe made no sense (I immediately began having concerns about safety and stability).  If I was going somewhere like Palm Springs or Scottsdale (dry areas that get little rain) I’d probably reconsider, but in our climate?  No thanks.

Seeing that New Balance were entering the golf shoe market, I was intrigued.  They make wide width sneakers that I’ve had decent luck with (currently I’ve leaned toward Asics but I still have a pair of New Balance shoes in rotation), so I did some digging.  They make a “minimal” shoe but my size and need for stability ruled that out pretty much immediately.

After some digging and research, I settled on the NBG2002 shoe (photo from New Balance) because they had it in a 4E width and it met my requirements.

New Balance 2002NBG shoes (photo New Balance)

New Balance 2002NBG shoes (photo New Balance)

I put them in rotation in late June, so the review is after a dozen rounds (a good sample size, it seems)

Comfort: Out of the box, the initial feel was very light and very comfortable.  There’s ample cushion.  They’re very light.  If you’re not used to this (and I wasn’t) it’s a bit of a pleasant surprise.  While I do ride when I play, as we know, you still end up doing a bit of walking.

Grip/support: The spike design isn’t bad (see photo below taken after 12 rounds).

Spike pattern (2 in the heel, 5 in the forefoot).

Spike pattern (2 in the heel, 5 in the forefoot).

The spikes provide plenty of grip in both flat and hilly lies as well as in the sand.  In terms of support, the base of the shoe isn’t as wide as my XPS-1 shoes were.  Ideally it would be wider but it’s not horrendously different.

Waterproofing: So far, the waterproofing has held up.  If I do have one complaint, the shoes aren’t that breathable compared to other shoes I’ve owned.  If you buy a pair and you keep them in a shoe bag, I HIGHLY recommend taking them out of the bag after your round and let them dry naturally.  They have held up in early morning rounds, but they do make my feet sweat something to beat the band.

Appearance: I’m something of a traditionalist when it comes to shoes, so you’ll never see me wearing the Rickie Fowler orange.  I don’t mind a bit of colour, but from the so-called “mirror test” I’m happy with how these look.  My photos don’t really show it but I like the tone-on-tone hexagonal motif (the first picture from New Balance picks it up).

Side View NBG2002.  The yoga mat is not mine.

Side View NBG2002. The yoga mat is not mine.

Durability: After 12 rounds, frankly it’s hard to say.  They appear to be holding up okay, but being somewhat large, my added tonnage probably doesn’t help things.

Overall: The lack the shoe breathing notwithstanding, they’re comfortable.  If you wear orthotics the sockliner insert comes out (it’s the green thing you can see).  They grip fairly well (no slips so far), and are pretty comfortable.  I’m not that happy that New Balance isn’t making a 4E width in their higher-end models (seriously- WHY NOT?).  If I was to add things to my want list, I’d like to see a customize option where I could get a pair with a certain English Premier League Team logo that happens to wear New Balance (if they do that or figure out how to let me get a Maple Leafs logo…then here- just take my money).

Top view NBG2002.

Top view NBG2002.

 

Small Business Saturday in the HoCo

This past Saturday November 30th was “Small Business Saturday” which encourages folks to shop at local stores. It’s a great idea after the orgy of stupidity and mayhem that often accompanies the so-called “Black” Friday after Thanksgiving. Since golf stuffs are always in good taste and honestly- why not buy for yourself (my arguement is that I know I’ll like it, and I’ll be happy to have it…and other than maybe a bottle of good scotch there’s not much else I’d want)?

So armed with money and my sanity, I set out to find out how I could do that.

The trouble started when I did some online searching- Howard County is a lot of things, but clearly, we’re not larded up with golf retailers. And by “not larded up” I mean “none exist”…which is okay, I thought- I can go to courses and they’ll have stuff- surely they’ll want to get in on the fun, right?

Not so much. The Columbia Association courses were shuttered. Empty parking lots and dark pro shops mean no revenue (and if we’re being honest, the pro shops at Hobbit’s Glen and Fairway Hills are, at best, poorly stocked afterthoughts). Calls to Waverly Woods and Timbers at Troy found no success either. Yes- we had a horrible cold snap and we had heavy rain in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and I’m sure that this impacted things. Nonetheless, it’s frustrating when, as a consumer, you have money to spend and a desire to spend it, and you have zero luck trying to support a local business.

Having lived here, I supported the now-defunct Mammoth Golf from its infancy to its death (I was deeply saddened to see it close up) and still try, whenever possible, to support local businesses. With that being said, as a golf consumer, I had two options in Howard County- go to the dueling big-box retailers on Rt. 175 (that would be Dick’s Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy). Of the two I’ve always preferred Golf Galaxy even though they’re the same parent company- the people at Golf Galaxy are more in the know about golf.

Never mind that they don’t sell big and tall sized golf apparel (nor do they even offer it online- for golf apparel I have to shop online (I’ve had my best success buying shoes through TGW and buying apparel through Cutter and Buck’s online store)- even shoes (I have a wide foot and wear a wide width) has become an online-only episode (although at Golf Galaxy they did have a few wide sizes in a few models) as well.

I don’t want to be made to feel as though my only option for buying clothes and shoes is online. While it’s convenient, I like to try before I buy.

As much as it pains me to point this out, the Montgomery County courses had specials and did a much better job marketing Small Business Saturday (they sent out emails with specials and have indoor simulator packages).

Hopefully next year we’ll see a Small Business Saturday that golfers can participate in. I hope.