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Monday, 3 September 2012

My Thoughts on Golf

This is a guest post by our crazy friend Jeff from over at Random News From The Links

My wife and I tried to will it into the hole but to no avail.

Do you think the surgeon hollered FORE before going in?

Who are the last vestiges of proud American golf manufacturing?

Perhaps this is why you can learn more about a person during a round of golf than you can from being around him for six months.

Colorful ball markers, all-in-one tools, mugs or anything else you might find in the aisles of Sears, JC Penney, or other department stores. I don’t want to hurt you feelings when you see them gathering dust on the shelf and I am not a re-gifter. Stop the Xmas music! After re-reading the above, I have a better idea. Rather than worry about me, why not just take extra care of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq along with their families. Yes, I think doing that would be the best present of all.

What the f*%@ is wrong with these people!

To all the golfers out there across the world, may the new year bring you health, wealth and a few less strokes on your favorite 18

Yesterday’s traffic was nearly 4 times the norm. The cause? The posting about Sophie Sandolo. It appears that sexy golf sells. Well, sex sells.

This is my inaugural post for this category where I hope to help other beginners, and perhaps some concrete heads, by sharing what I have learned, and will learn, about the best game on earth

I can play golf as long as it is above freezing

If you have to think about your swing while on the course you haven’t practiced enough

On average, professional golfers are far above other celebrities when it comes to setting an example for our youth

The timing and tempo required to shoot par using the traditional finger grip swing is beyond the genetic capabilities of the vast majority of golfers

Some of the rules of golf simply suck the fun out of the game

If you can hammer a nail, you can become a great ball striker

A good golf swing is controlled by the subconscious which is programmed from hundreds of repetitions (practice). A swing thought actually helps prevent your conscious mind from interferring with your subconscious program

Hasn’t the NBA been re-coined the TBA. Thug Basketball League

Based on the response, I doubt customer satisfaction is a company value

In the future I will respond to my instinct and put in the effort necessary to achieve the desired results.

I think many golfers have a little NASA in them. Chasing after a better score by continuously spending money on the newest technology when the Walmart driver would suffice if they would simply work on their swing mechanics

Evidently I was bamboozled by a coworker.

What does this mean? Probably nothing.

This is more of a farce - as is the world ranking sytem

Hmmmm, very interesting. Similar results without all the complication. Sort of parallels the traditional golf method versus single-axis.

Will he have to add getting out of the starting blocks cleanly to his golf practice regimen?

Isn’t there a 2 shot penalty for misuse of a suggestions box?

I was under attack by a couple of parasites - yes, poker and porn - trying to load all my posts with comment spam... Why is it that respectable bloggers have to be bothered by the sewer rats of society?

The line of demarcation is not nearly as wide as the rhetoric.

The only “Fab” I have witnessed is Annika. With these media favorites, it’s more like the F.A.B. 4 - Faltered After Buildup.

Of course, evidenced by the results, I had some blow up holes resulting in bogeys, double bogeys and more after getting thoroughly acquainted with the plentiful hazards

But the path to par is clearer than ever resulting in a very high level of confidence. Now, if you would excuse me, I have to practice my putting.

It was very painful to watch the final round of the MCI Heritage.

I guess this is one way to make sure your drive clears the women’s tee box.

This appears to be a rare example of “landing on a hazard”.

Was it just another slow news day or is golf just the enemy due to its link to conservatives?

My ball mark repair tool now gets dirty

Honors at the tee box is no longer analogous to Broadway opening night jitters.

Bingo! Like sirens or fireworks going off, I realized I had regressed and started to mix traditional swing fundamentals, where the body is moving on multiple planes or axes, like clearing my hips, with my single-axis swing

Second, I finally got my money’s worth from my free subscription.

If you wait long enough, something positive can spring from almost anything.

I have reached a point where I have absolutely no interest watching professional sports with one exception - golf.

What drives me to spend hours upon hours - whether it be on the links, at the driving range or at home - hitting a small white ball with a specialized stick towards a target? Well, quite simply, it’s about the high and the challenge.

If he was playing billiards or HORSE he would have needed to call it. “Off the middle hardwood on the left and into the hole”.


This is a guest post by our crazy friend Jeff from over at Random News From The Links

Monday, 27 August 2012

Golfers are Weapons Apprentices

In the martial arts, weapons training generally begins in earnest after some milestones have been achieved, such as black belt. The logic behind this holds that once some fundamental body motions can be reliably performed they can then be further refined by demonstrating control at the range of the weapon. There is no advantage to rushing this process unless there is a war or famine and everyone is pressed into service out of necessity. Even the poorest hunter can occasionally bag a bird or hit the enemy and help the country or cause. But it’s not much fun to be forced into a pressure situation before you’re ready for it.

Consider the plight of the golfer, that is you and me. Without any significant preparation we are given the weapon, the projectile and the target and are sent out into the fray. It’s all awkward, uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Weird grip, standing astride not even facing the target, the left and right sides doing different things at the same time, new rhythm, timing and balance requirements all combine to set us adrift. It’s a lot more difficult then we think it’s going to be and when it turns out that we’re not so fabulous at the start we can even get into self esteem issues. This is a lot of downside.

It’s helpful to realize that learning golf skills is a long range process and being at odds with this reality mentally will only complicate the already difficult situation. Patience, persistence, discipline and determination are what we need to grow our game. However this does not fit into everyone’s picture of relaxation and escape. Improvement in golf is an acquired taste and it’s not for everyone. Often the more we know the more we want to know, but not always. The game can be experienced and enjoyed at a variety of accomplishment levels. It’s possible to be terrible at golf and still have fun with it. The scenery, the camaraderie, the fresh air, the occasionally well struck shot will suffice for many and what’s wrong with that? Golf does not need to be your highest priority in life for it to make sense. The problems arise when we demand skills that we are unwilling to spend the time required to achieve.

Golf is a game and games are supposed to be fun. If we demand higher skill levels of ourselves it’s critical that we realize how much time and effort will be involved. It’s hard to believe how much effort is necessary to achieve even a low level of mastery but that doesn’t change the reality. We often look at people, strangers or friends, displaying skills we want and forget or never realize how long and hard they worked to accomplish them. In our culture we have a problem with delaying gratification. We want it now! Golf, or anything else actually, does not work that way.

If we want to have fun and why shouldn’t we, it’s necessary to get the time line right. We must acknowledge that there are skills we may not have enough time to acquire. If we don’t get that right we are setting ourselves up for a very frustrating experience. For the game to be fun we have to like where we are in the process right now. That means accepting our current game right now with all its warts. Let go and smell the roses. A bad shot does not make us bad people. If you think it does or behave as if it does you have work to do and it’s not swing work.

So enjoy your weapons apprenticeship soldier, it won’t last forever.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Swinging into Twilight

golf twilight
Golf at twilight
At 9:00 PM in the middle of the summer it's starting to get dark. The first four holes at Westchester Hills, where we played as teenagers, loop back to the clubhouse. We would start at 9:00 and finish before 10:00. By the time we got to the second tee it was already quite dark. If you did not have an accurate sense of direction and distance to within say, 50 feet you were not going to find your ball. We learned pretty fast, and surprisingly, we didn't lose that many.

One evening recently I decided to go back in time and hit some balls into the dark. The gradual dimming of the light seemed to help me focus more and more on my swing. I found myself giving added attention, not so much to how my swing was supposed to be, but instead, to how it actually was. While being aware of my balance, rhythm and timing, I was really paying attention to how the ball and clubface were reacting to my swing motions without me consciously trying to control them. My objective became the experience of my swing, not the result of it. This internal shift of attention is helpful in learning to experience relaxation in the golf swing, and when we are relaxed we are most likely to produce our best efforts.

The entire orbit of a golf swing made by a driver measures approximately twenty-seven feet, yet during that swing, the ball is on the clubface for only 3/4's of an inch. Since the ball flight is a result of how the clubface and the ball dance together in that brief union through moment of impact, the more aware of ourselves we are at that point the better. There is no reason why, with a little imagination, we can't perform the essence of this twilight exercise in the middle of the day. You can swing with your eyes closed or you can swing with your focus funneled into that moment of your motion. This ability to focus will also will also save strokes in pressure situations when all of us are most in danger of losing our concentration.

Work to focus attention on what's happening thru impact and how it orients towards your imagined target in the distance. Work with a windup mode that is small enough to let you get back through the starting point (the ball), with a comfortable balance. Play with your movements and how they affect the extension of your arms and club shaft thru impact. We are looking for a 'repeatable', which is another word for balanced, accelerating motion toward the target thru impact. This motion, this 'repeatable,' is a relatively simple affair of winding behind and swinging back through the same place. Once we have a sense of how we want to move through the impact zone we can increase the size and effort of our windup knowing our movement is still oriented toward the target.

Your ability to take your swing from the dark to the light will enhance your experience of the game and lower your handicap at the same time. Enjoy the Moment.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Golf the Japanese Way

Several years ago, while traveling in Japan on business, I had the singular good fortune to be hosted to a day of golf by my honorable hosts. Notice that I said "Day" and not "Round" -- a very important distinction.

I know the large majority of my readers are only familiar with golf the American way, but let me recap briefly just to set the stage. You get to the local public course, change your shoes while sitting on the open trunk of your car, hit a few putts and maybe even a small bucket of balls, and off you go. If it's that time of day when you make the turn, maybe you'll grab a hot dog, and wolf it down as you make your way up the 10th fairway. After the round, you'll congregate with your buddies in the clubhouse (or out on the patio), quaff a few beers, settle the day's bets, and that's pretty much it. Maybe you walk, and maybe you ride a cart, but caddies are more of an exception than the rule.

Segue to Japan -- specifically the Kumomoto Country Club, near the Fukuoka Airport on the south island of Kyushu. We arrive at the club a full hour before our tee time in order to have plenty of time to loosen up, and familiarize ourselves with the greens. This particular club has two sets of greens, one for winter, one for summer (I've seen this on a few American courses too -- something about different kinds of grass).

As we made our way to the first tee box, I noticed a couple of people wearing coolie-style hats on their hands and knees trimming bushes with scissors. I take another look around at the landscaping by the clubhouse and practice green, and realize there isn't a leaf or a blade of grass that looks out of place.

We were then introduced to our caddies. Each foursome shared a caddie, a short woman of indeterminate age ("short", by the way, covers about 90% of the population). The caddy had a riding cart which held all four bags upright in front of her. She stood on a platform, and steered the cart motorcyle-style (steering with handlebars, hand throttle, etc.). I forget her name -- everyone called her "caddy-san", which basically means "Madame Caddy."

I'm used to playing in Colorado, where the air is thin and dry, instead of Fukuoka where the air is heavy and humid. So for any given distance, I needed to use at least one extra club. I was using rented clubs instead of my own, which are an inch longer to accomodate my height, so that's another adjustment I needed to make on my club selection. Then I always had to do some higher order math because Japan's golf courses are marked in meters instead of yards -- it's about a 10% adjustment, and it translates into another extra club. All of which is to say it usually took me a few moments to figure out what to hit. Caddy-san watched me make two shots, and after that, by the time I figured out what I wanted, she was always standing there holding out the correct club before I could ask her for it. And despite the fact that Caddy-san also had to supply three other golfers, it seemed like none of us ever had to wait for her, even if we were scattered all over the fairway. All the caddies wore big sunbonnets, and white outfits that looked like nurses' clothes, but baggier. They didn't show any skin except their faces (which were protected by the sunbonnets). They even wore white gloves.

The players all walked. I was told they'd be happy to supply me with a cart if I wanted one, but nobody else was riding, and Caddy-san had the bags anyway. And it turns out that there were refreshment huts every three holes. At the refreshment huts (which were very nicely constructed brick buildings, complete with air conditioning and electricity), you could get bottled water, soft drinks, beer (bieru), finger sandwiches, green tea, cold rice, and cold wet towels. It was the cold wet towels I most enjoyed!

Despite hitting some spectacularly bad shots into the woods, I never actually lost any balls. Caddy-san was uncanny in her ability to find lost balls. (I guess she knew every tree and shrub). She was also great at reading greens.


After we finished playing the front nine, we had a sit-down lunch in the clubhouse. And I'm not talking about a hot dog and potato chips either. They had a full menu of hot and cold dishes (including sushi -- yum!). We had a leisurely lunch, chatting pleasantly about business, the world economy, and Tiger Woods. Then one of my hosts checked his watch and announced our tee time was in 10 minutes. So we had a tee time in the morning for the front nine, reservations for lunch, and a tee time for the second nine in the afternoon. Seems perfectly obvious now, but it never would have occurred to me beforehand.

The back nine was much like the front -- gorgeous course, hand-manicured, hustling Caddy-san reading my mind, and the greens, cold wet towels at the refreshment huts... All too soon, the round was over. But rather than sitting around in our sweaty shirts (have I mentioned the humidity?), we retired to the locker room which has its own hot spring. There we luxuriated in the mineral baths, which were the same temperature as a hot tub, soaking our aches and pains and yips away. Then after a cold shower, and a dry shirt, we were ready for the serious business of post-round drinks and bet settling.

By the time we returned to the hotel, it was time for dinner, and sleep. Now that's a "Day" of golf!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

What is your handicap?

tiger woods scorecard
Sometimes, I get really frustrated that my handicap doesn't go down. After all, your handicap index is a direct indicator of how well you play the game of golf. If your handicap is low, you're pretty good. If it's trending down, you're getting even better. Unfortunately, mine index is kind of high (14.5), and it's not getting any better...

Other times, I get just as frustrated that my handicap doesn't go up. Have you ever caught yourself trying to console yourself after a bad round by saying, "Well, at least my handicap will go up so I'll get more strokes next time!" ? Funny thing -- it never happens.

Well, what the heck? I went to the USGA's website for a tutorial on the computation of handicaps.  The introductory paragraph of "Understanding Your Handicap" says the following:
A player can obtain a USGA Handicap Index after posting five scores, but a truer value comes when a player posts 20 scores, the 10 best of which are used in figuring the Handicap Index. The index demonstrates what a golfer would shoot on his/her best day

Well, no wonder! My 10 worst scores don't figure into my handicap at all! Also, did you notice that sentence about your best day? Here's another passage from an article in the same website:

The USGA's Handicap Research Team tells us that the average player is expected to play to his Course Handicap or better only about 25 percent of the time, average three strokes higher than his Course Handicap, and have a best score in 20, which is only two strokes better than his Course Handicap.

Some complicated mathematics follow, involving things like course ratings, slopes, 113, with some incense and magic words thrown in for good measure...

Yikes! And I've been giving strokes to people with honest faces who tell me their average score is about the same as my index!

How do you get a handicap? The best way is to go to the nearest golf course, public or private, and join the men's club, or the women's club if you're female. I think most places will let females join the men's club if they want to play from the men's tees, but the converse usually isn't true. Post five scores, and you're off and running. Having an officially sanctioned USGA handicap lends credibility to your negotiations with other golfers. But using the computer programs is better than nothing.

Conclusions? Well, if you want your handicap to go down, your ten best scores have to improve! And, as you've long suspected, nobody anywhere cares what your ten worst scores were. And if you intend to bet on golfing, don't do it on the basis of your opponents' averages!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Best Golf Movies of All Time

bill murry caddyshack gopher
When released in July 1980, it received bad reviews. It features childish lines and risque humor. Even director Harold Ramis wasn't sure about his production because very little went according to the movie script. But 20 years later, "Caddyshack" is viewed as a classic.
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"It's great to see it eventually worm its way into everybody's heart," Ramis says in an interview featured in the Special Edition version released in 1999. "I'm proud of it."

Fifty-seven percent of golf pros polled named it the best golf movie made. "Tin Cup," filmed at Houston's Kingwood Country Club and Deerwood Golf Club, received 29 percent of the vote with "Dead Solid Perfect" picking up the other 14 percent.

Other movies named among the top three choices of pros were "Follow The Sun," "Happy Gilmore," "Babe," and "The Caddy."

"It got together all these great comedians who it seemed were peaking at that time," Waldrop says. "Bill Murray was funny, Chevy Chase was funny, Ted Knight was funny and Rodney Dangerfield was on fire. In every scene, someone takes the lead and they are able to pull it off and make it funny. It's the best of all-time. I've watched it 20-25 times. "

The impressive list of comedians sent Ramis' movie in a totally different direction.

"We set out to make a movie about caddies and what it was like to be a caddie at a suburban golf course, and in the process we hired such high-powered adult talent that inevitably all our creative attention went to making those characters work," says Ramis, who also directed "National Lampoon's Vacation."

In the Special Edition documentary, Cindy Morgan, who plays the judge's beautiful nymphomaniac niece, says: "I don't think anything in the script ended up on the screen." and Chase agreed. "A lot of the movie was winged, improvised. We knew we were funny."

"Caddyshack" was Dangerfield's first movie (he was paid just $35,000 compared to a half-million paid Chase). He worried he was bombing on the set because no one was laughing at his lines. Someone had to point out that onlookers were not allowed to react because their laughter would be caught on the sound tract.

 Oddly, Chase, Dangerfield and Murray rarely turn up in the same scenes. Aware of such, producers devised a scene bringing Chase and Murray together where Murray tells Chase of his invention of a fairway grass that can be played on and then taken home and smoked.

However, the most famous scene is the swimming pool footage that includes a mass exodus from the pool upon the discovery of a large brown object bobbing around in the water. It turns out to be a Baby Ruth candy bar, but it is easy to miss the earlier flash showing the candy bar being removed from its wrapper and tossed in. The background music for the scene is what you would expect: the theme from "Jaws."

"Caddyshack is a classic," Herron says. "It's awesome and has some of the best comedian actors of all-time."

Lovers of "Caddyshack" are like the clones of Jim Rome. They can quote lines from the movie, which also has a Web site featuring a quiz page.

And who can forget the gopher that drives Murray, who plays the course groundskeeper, crazy. "They spent a bundle on a mechanical gopher and people love it and revere it," Chase says.

"Caddyshack II" came along in 1988, but it bombed despite having the gopher and special appearances by Chase and Dan Aykroyd. Directed by Allan Arkushmore, it stars Jackie Mason, Robert Stack, Dyan Cannon and Randy Quaid.

Ogrin favors "Tin Cup" for a good reason. "I'm in it, in the credits and still get royalties. Being in the movie was a tremendous experience." Ogrin is one of the pros on the practice tee when Roy McAvoy, a driving range pro played by Kevin Costner, gets the shanks before playing in the U.S. Open.
Kevin Costner: Generally the sign of a bad movie



Tin Cup, released in 1996, also stars Rene Russo, Don Johnson and Cheech Marin. Craig Stadler, Johnny Miller and Peter Jacobsen are among the pros in the movie. It also features the CBS-TV crew of Ken Venturi, Jim Nance and Gary McCord.

Randy Quaid is the star in "Dead Solid Perfect," a 1988 film based on Dan Jenkins' novel by the same name. Quaid plays Kenny Lee, a touring pro who finally gets it right - on and off the course.

"Happy Gilmore" (1996) and "The Caddy" (1953) both are slapstick comedy movies. Adam Sandler stars in "Happy Gilmore," which also features Lee Trevino. Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelsonhave cameos in "The Caddy," which stars Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.

The most serious golf movies are "Follow the Sun" and "Babe." Made in 1951, "Follow the Sun" was Hollywood's first major film about golf and is the story of Ben Hogan's life.

Hogan helped draft the story and enlisted real-life competitors Snead, Jimmy Demaret and Dr. Cary Middlecoff to appear in the film. He also had twice daily practice sessions with Glenn Ford, who played Hogan, so the actor could observe his mannerisms and techniques.

Anne Baxter and June Havoc co-star in the movie, which climaxes with the tragic head-on accident with a bus that left doctors feeling Hogan might never walk again.

"I'm old enough (43) to remember it," says Sutton, who plays Hogan equipment. "I admire the movie because I was a Hogan fan and I admire what he did after coming back from an almost fatal car accident. "Caddyshack" is funny, but it's not a serious movie. "Follow the Sun" is a serious movie about a person's life."

What next? Tiger Woods the movie?

Friday, 3 August 2012

A Great Chipping Tip

Hitting a good drive close to the green is great, but failing to get on the green from less than 100 yards is extremely frustrating. Poor chipping will cost you a lot more shots than errant driving of the ball will.

Obviously the best way to get good at chipping is to practice and practice on the range until you've gotten a feel for the club and know exactly how you'll hit it in any conditions.

However, this tip should help immensely.

Make your hands lead the clubface through impact.
 
What does this mean? Well, imagine a normal stroke. Your hands are parallel with the ball as you strike it, or in some cases ahead or behind. With a chip, you want them to be ahead, almost as if you're wristing it.
Why is this? It means that you'll hit the ball on the downswing, rather than the upswing. Hitting on the up can result in a topped shot that has no legs.

How to achieve this:
  • At setup, move more weight onto your left foot
  • Put the ball in the back of your stance
  • Hands lead the stroke, ahead of the ball at impact
  • This will lead to a "chop" on the downswing, which will get the ball sailing high into the air#
Have fun putting this into practice on the course - at least you won't leave it short with this advice.

Monday, 30 July 2012

The Power of Halves

One of my golfing companions (let's call him Dennis) had a set of goals this year that he called "The fourth power of halves". (Anybody that uses mathematical terms like "power" in normal everyday conversation is bound to be an engineer, and Dennis is no exception.)

The goals were:
  • To play half as much as Martin
  • To play half as well as Paul
  • To be half as competitive as John
  • To be half as negative as Rick

Let's look at each of these in turn.

Your humble author is the subject of Dennis's first goal. With another month and a half left in the year, I've played 210 nine-hole rounds. (Lots of times I play 18 holes, but then that would go on my list as two nine-hole rounds.) For some reason, Dennis seems to think either that a) he doesn't want to play as much golf as I do, or b) he aspires to increase his playing time significantly, and half as much as me is all that he can conceive of. Either that or he's secretly making fun of me for spending too much time on the golf course... Hmmm... I may be on to something...

"Paul" next. Paul is not actually a bogey golfer, which makes him a bit of an anomaly in our group. Paul actually has sub-par rounds every now and then. Dennis's goals here are a bit clearer. He wants to become a better golfer, but Paul is so far ahead of the rest of us, that to try to be actually as good as Paul is unrealistic. Hence the goal to be half as good. What does "half as good" mean? Good question. Half as many pars, maybe?

Now for John: John likes to have a game going on, at all times. The stakes don't have to be high -- dimes and quarters are just as good as dollars or fives (not that I've personally ever bet that much). The game can be best individual score, best team score, best ball with teams, rotating teams, the three little pigs, bingo-bango-bongo - it doesn't matter, as long as there's a game on. Even when John's not playing with us, we're usually trying to figure out how much we would owe him if he was. What's half as competitive? Maybe winning half the time -- even if that doesn't capture the true spirit of being half as competitive, I'll bet it would make Dennis happy.

And finally Rick: Rick is a believer in that old saying, "Always expect the worst and you won't be disappointed." If he hits a ball into the rough, he'll grouse, "Probably rolled in the water." If he hits it in the sand, he'll predict, "I'll bet it's in a footprint." If he hits it down the middle, he'll predict "It's probably in a pile of goose poop." Pretty soon we're all chiming in, "At the bottom of the cliff...", "... with a rattlesnake coiled around it", "... right where lightning is about to strike!" Half as negative? Maybe not predicting a triple bogey on every hole...

So how's Dennis doing?
  • He's right on track for half as many rounds
  • He's nowhere near half as good as Paul (although he is improving)
  • He's nowhere near half as competitive as John (and he's still losing bets)
  • He's struggling in the negativity department too, despite the fact that Rick once said "I like it!" after hitting a good drive last week.
Well, as Robert Browning famously said: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

So Bad It's Good

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose -- Kris Kristofferson
Today I was playing nine at the Olde Course. (Mid-November, 65 degrees, another brutal day in Colorado...). I teed off on # 12, which is a narrowish dogleg left. This hole always grates on me, just like fingernails on a chalkboard, mainly because I tend to hit fades with my driver. Why not hit an iron? Why indeed... But I digress...

I lost it right into the trees, as I am wont to do on this shot. I strode hopefully into the woods, wondering if I'd have a line. Lots of times when I hit into the woods, I can find a possible route out -- if you get just enough altitude, and hit just the right amount of hook, you can get around the big cottonwood, and just over the scrub junipers, and leave yourself a short chip from in front of the green. Most of the time when I see that line, and envision just the right shot in my mind's eye, I yank the shot off the heel of my club and ricochet off the tree trunk to my left. One thing usually leads to another in these situtations, and I fight back and scramble, at last managing to curl in a 30 footer to save an eight.

Today, there was no hope. I was completely in jail. Boxed in. No overhead route. No shaped shot -- neither a hook nor a slice -- could possibly weave through the trees, despite the fact that the deciduous trees had all lost their foliage. No land route either. Even on my hands and knees I couldn't spot a path between the tree trunks where I might be able to scoot a worm-burner through the woods and onto the green with my two-iron. I had nothing. Heaving a sigh of despair, I had no choice but to knock down a seven-iron chip back into the middle of the fairway. From there I hit a sand wedge to the back corner of the green, narrowly missed a 10 foot putt, and had to settle for bogey.

Damn, I hate that! To be forced into doing the right thing because of a complete lack of alternatives! Oh sure, I know, saving bogey after a drive like that is something to be proud of. And I would have been proud if I had chipped back to the middle of the fairway despite seeing a possible line for a miracle shot!!! Because then I would have made "the smart play". Then I would have been using "course management". Then I would have been "taking my medicine". But this way, I wasn't a noble Nicklauseque golfer calmly taking double-bogey out of the picture. I was just a guy that hit a bad shot into the woods. I didn't make the smart play, I had to settle for the only play.

My problem (one of them, anyway) is that I turn my back on the smart play when I have a choice. Deep down inside, I yearn to be, not Jack Nicklaus, but Seve Ballesteros. Seve sprayed bad shots everywhere, and then amazed one and all with miraculous recovery shots. Golfing scholars will immediately point out that Jack didn't tend to hit a lot of balls into the woods in the first place. And here I am digressing again...

I always thought that the object of the game was to make the lowest score you could. I think I just realized that, at a subconscious level, I haven't been trying for that at all -- I've actually been aspiring to make superhuman shots. Why would anyone do that? Why would you set yourself up for the frustration and heartache of repeatedly trying to make shots that are beyond your capabilities? Well, that's a no-brainer, as all you bogey golfers know... it's because, every once in a blue moon, you pull one off!!!

And just like that, for that one brief moment, for that split second before your common sense kicks back in, you get a momentary glimpse of what it must feel like to be Tiger Woods, or Phil Mickelson, or Ernie Els, or any of the touring pros who can make a golf ball do wonderful things, who can seemingly bend inanimate objects to their will, who can exert control on uncontrollable situations. It's certainly a grand and glorious feeling, to pull off a miracle shot. Of course, it misses the large majority of what the touring pros mostly aspire to feel themselves. They mostly want to feel like they're incapable of hitting shots bad enough to find themselves in the woods to begin with. It's not the one exciting shot they make in a round -- it's the 72 boring shots right down the middle! (or 66...)

And with that blinding realization, I'm off for the Senior Tour, right? Doh! No. Realizing it, and actually being able to do it, are still two completely different things... Hey! Let me tell you about the sand save I made on 15! It was a horrible downhill lie...

Golf Betting Games

At nodivot.com we recognize that a lot of matches are played with "friendly wagers" on the line. While we neither condone nor condemn this activity, the fact remains that it is illegal in most places. In fact, many golf courses have signs stating that such activity is illegal. We suggest that any of the games listed below (or any others for that matter) be played in accordance with the laws of the state, country, etc. in which you are standing at the time. We're not even sure that golf course betting is legal in Las Vegas. Remember, not all games require a wager.

With that said, on course betting (where legal) can be fun...but unless you are a hardcore gambler, it should be kept simple and friendly. Most of us have found ourselves in a match that was something like,

"Dollar a hole for total score, automatic double if you're down two; 50 cents for longest drive, closest to the pin, and first in; 25 cents for each bunker you hit; birdie after hitting a tree goes pig for the hole. Tie on 18 carries over to the putting green."

For starters, some poor bastard has to keep track of all that. Of course, no one else will know if he's right or wrong so he'll at least end up even. Second, people who are playing poorly that day will end up so angry that you won't want to play with them anymore. At betheball.com, we believe that betting games should make the round more enjoyable. Here are a few suggestions:

Strokes

This is an easy one if everyone has an official index. The only decision to be made here is whether to go with the Current or Low index. Those who have never established an index can often be a problem. These guys will make statements such as, "My last three rounds were 101, 105, and 103 so I guess that makes me about a 30. Just give me a stroke a hole." This never works as we all know that the way handicaps are calculated (stupid as it is) is based on the best 10 or 20 rounds and multiplied by 96%. In short, they have very little to do with what you shot over your last three rounds. Here are two recommended ways to settle this:


If you play with this guy often, everyone should have an idea as to his "potential." Why potential? Because that is what the USGA has designed the handicap system to be. To be fair, don't hold him to the 84 he pulled out of his ass five months ago. Still, you should be able to come to a consensus and assign him an index.


Make him negotiate. This can be the easiest way of all. After a couple of minutes you should be able to come to an agreement such as "I want 12." "I'll give you six." and so on.

A word of advice. Try to avoid giving strokes on Par 3's. This will put you at a huge disadvantage.

Games

For maximum enjoyment, games should be simple to understand, require no extra equipment, and start with a low initial bet (to allow for presses, etc.).


Skins - Probably the easiest of all games. Lowest score on the hole wins a skin worth whatever stake was agreed upon. Ties can carry over or not. The rule of validation that was used on TV is a pretty crappy one. I don't recommend it.


Wolf - Another easy one. One player is selected as The Wolf for the first hole. All players hit their drives and the Wolf selects his partner for the hole. Lowest individual score on the hole wins a point for his team. The Wolf may opt to go PIG if he believes that he can beat all of the other players on the hole. If he succeeds, he receives three points. If he fails, the other team receives two points per member. Each player takes a turn being the Wolf on successive holes (based on an established rotation).


Vegas - This game is played in teams. The low score between partners is put first. For example, on a par four one player makes a 4 and his partner makes a 5, the team score is 45. If the other teams scores 56, the first team receives eleven points. If one team makes birdie, the other team must reverse it's score. If the above example were on a par five. Team One's score is still 45, but Team Two's score becomes 65 and therefore Teams One receives 20 points. If both teams birdie, both scores are reversed to figure the points. It's up to you to decide the value placed on each point. Just remember that there are a lot of points at stake.

We will be adding more games in the near future. Check back.

Golf on the Monterey Peninsula

Pebble Beach: go here, now
The golfing world is full of guys who say, "I really want to play Pebble Beach but it's way too expensive." or "My wife would kill me if I took her on vacation to a golf resort." If you are one of those guys, the first thing you need to do is repossess your nuts, you've gone without them too long. Once that is done, click here, read, pick up the phone, and make a reservation. You will thank me.

Still need convincing? OK fine. If your worried about the price, you should be, it's really expensive. Once you're done with accommodations, meals, golf, spa treatments, gifts, etc., three days at The Lodge will cost you about the same as two weeks in Italy. To that I say, "Money well spent." This is no ordinary experience boys. The staff at this resort treats you like royalty. They prepare fires in your fireplace, drive you into nearby Pacific Grove or Carmel, tell you numerous stories about the history of the resort and its guests, etc. This is a five-star place and you never doubt that for a minute you're there. Life is all about experiences and this is one that should not be missed.

Now let's address the wife issue. Guys, this is a NON issue. Contrary to popular belief, women don't necessarily want to spend every waking minute with us. Sure it may seem like that, especially when we're trying to watch Sports Center or the entire final round of the U.S. Open but I'll bet you don't have a world class spa & beach club within five minutes of your front door (those who do have no doubt already been to Pebble). Get her a half or full day spa treatment that coincides with your tee time and you're golden. If you need to sell this idea to her, tell her to invite one of her friends on a couple's trip up there (make sure that her friend's husband, boyfriend, etc. is not a total knob). The girls will have their fun and you will get to play some of the most memorable golf in your life.

Still not convinced? Click here, this site will help you come to grips with the real you.

For those of you who don't need convincing, make sure to try some of the following places while you're up there.

The Tap Room - This is one of the all-time great bars. Dark wood, great beer and whiskey selections, tasty food, U.S. Open memorabilia hanging on the walls, it just feels good. If I lived within 10 miles of this place I would spend happy hour there every night...that is until my liver transplant.

The Whaling Station - Located across the street from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Ask the concierge to make a reservation for you and to drive you there (they will pick you up too). While the name is rather...politically incorrect...this place is a pretty good steak house with a good wine list.

Passionfish - Located in Pacific Grove and frequented by locals, this place changes their menu every day and serves some of the best food in the area. They also have an exceptional wine list with prices that make you look twice. In some cases you would pay more at retail (if you could still find the wine).

The Tap Room - Oh, I mentioned this one already didn't I? Well, it's that good.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Ty Webb's Guide to Golf Etiquette

Ty Webb
If you clicked on this link with the expectation of finding items such as the proper place to stand when your opponent is teeing off, you are in the wrong place my friend. Go have a Zima and come back when you are ready to learn about something that really matters.

Ty Webb's Guide to Golf Etiquette will help you with some of the more...esoteric...aspects of the game.

Mulligans

Unless specifically ruled out as part of a betting game, all players with handicaps exceeding 15 are entitled to a mulligan on the first tee. To limit embarrassment, this should be referred to as a "Breakfast Ball" (if you are teeing off at twilight, it is acceptable to use the Japanese form known as a "Breakfast Bar" (since they are eating breakfast there at the time). Breakfast Balls may not be saved for use on another tee box.

Anyone with a handicap of 20 or higher is entitled to one mulligan per nine holes. Breakfast Balls are not charged as official mulligans.

Scoring

Any putt that is called "good" (as in "That's good") is automatically considered to be jarred. The golfer may practice the putt and shall incur no penalty if it is missed.

The phrase "Pick it up." shall be used any time that a player with a handicap of 20+ is lying 8 or more while still in the fairway. The player shall receive a score of double par (Beagle) and will be grateful.

Unless you're playing in a tournament, no penalty shall be incurred for balls lost in the rough or fairway. Tour pros have tournament officials and spectators to point out exactly where their ball settled. Moreover, they don't need to worry about someone picking up their Pro V1 and putting it in their bag. As long as you are certain that the ball stayed in bounds and is not buried in a bush, etc., you are entitled to a free drop in a location agreed to by at least one other member of your group.

Pace of Play

"Ready Golf" was thought up by a slow golfer and is a load of crap. Anyone who takes a triple and tees off before the guy who made birdie should be required to play his second shot from a bunker. Keep up with the group in front of you. Make sure your playing partners keep up. Ready Golf my ass.

If you have a hole open in front of you, do not re-try your 30 footer after everyone else has finished.

If the group in front of you is a hole behind and someone re-tries their 30 footer, it is acceptable to yell at them to hurry up.

If the above happens twice, it is acceptable to hit your approach shot the very second they step off the green. Remember to yell "FORE" as we don't want any lawsuits.

Drink Cart Girls

The amount of your tip should be directly proportional to how hot she is and how willing she is to pretend that you have a chance with her.

An extra dollar should be added if she is wearing a short skirt rather than shorts, etc.

An additional dollar should be added if she is wearing those lacy bobby socks.

There is absolutely no obligation to tip a cart girl if she is a bitch.

Urination

Urinating on the course is as much a part of the game as putting (this is, of course, only true if it's not an activity which can get you arrested).

Whenever possible, players should face away from houses while peeing. This is however not necessary if doing so requires peeing into the wind.

Players should refrain from peeing on the course if the Cart Girl is on green or fairway in front of the group.

Urinating on your opponents ball is strictly prohibited (unless you are sure you can get away with it without him knowing).

Miscellaneous

Golf carts must be kept off the greens and out of hazards. Other than that, they are toys.

Any player wearing more than four logos must buy the first round.

Asking opponents if they inhale or exhale in their backswing is not only legal, it is hilarious if it screws them up.

Are you a "Be The Ball" Golfer?

ty webb caddyshack


"There is a force in the universe that makes things happen...and all you have to do is get in touch with it. Stop thinking...let things happen...and Be the Ball."
Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), Caddyshack



To the "Be the Ball" Golfer there are certain truths:
  1. Courses should be Par 72's.
  2. You should ALWAYS be able to hit driver from the tee of a Par 5.
  3. Any green fee of $75 or more should include a bag tag. $100 or more, it should be engraved with your name.
  4. You will always hit someone else's driver better than your own...until you buy it from him.
  5. The 25 footers that you made in the store before you bought that new putter are the last you will ever make.
  6. Cart paths are tilted toward the nearest OB post.
  7. The drink cart girl should always be cute.
  8. Beer and Bloody Mary's make for a better golf swing but increase 3-Jacks.
  9. Caddyshack is the all-time best golf movie and Ty Webb and Carl Spackler are Great American Heroes.
  10. The Downhill Speed Limiter on Golf Carts was designed by someone's wife.
  11. Guys who can only hit their drivers 200 yards suck...even if they beat you (anyone over 60 is exempt).
  12. Substitute "Guys who play with Top Flights or Pinnacles" to the above rule and it is still true.
  13. If one of the guys in your foursome cancels, you will always be paired with a single who talks, non-stop, for the entire round.
  14. When the above happens, your round will take a minimum of six hours.
  15. The newer the golf ball, the greater its desire to escape. You must beat the little thing into submission. Anyone who doubts this should check the pocket of his bag for the three year old, yellowish, egg shaped thing with multiple cart path scars.
  16. Vegas golf is way too expensive but we'll continue to play there anyway.
  17. Courses should reduce their rates every time they require "Cart Paths Only" or punch their greens.
  18. Trips to Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, or any other course that has ever hosted a major are perfectly acceptable destinations for a wedding anniversary. 
How many boxes did you tick, caddyfans?