Sunday, 25 August 2013

Meet Isabel, golf's new star

My granddaughter Isabel, who is going on 6 months, will do more for the human race than Mother Teresa and Billie Holiday combined. Why not? She's got some of my genes, and there's never been a plan like this:

Mickey Wright has agreed to teach the infant the swing-Mickey's swing. We'll keep the child down in the old family room. It's best that Isabel see nobody except me and Mickey-until she's got the swing down cold.

After Mickey leaves, Nancy Lopez will move in. What she'll do is teach putting-the putting stroke Nancy had 20 years ago. And then comes Karrie Webb, the first woman I've ever seen who hits knockdown wedges and makes the ball dance.

For the mental part, Isabel's coaches will be Anna Freud-if she's still alive-and Margaret Thatcher.
For the last piece of the package, I counted on securing for Isabel the twinkle in Hollis Stacy's eyes. But Hollis, who can be tough on these matters, says she wants 3 percent of the gross. To me, 3 percent seems awfully high for a twinkle. I'll bet we can get one of Laura Baugh's dimples for 2 percent. I asked Helen Alfredsson for her hair, but she just cursed in Swedish.

What do I care? This little lady will make the world forget Joan of Arc and Roseanne.

I've already talked to Nike. Phil Knight very much wants a diaper deal with that swoosh thing right across the front. I threw out $10 million to him, but he said that's way too much if the baby happens to toilet train early. I argued that with a baby in a swooshed diaper, that tired and corny Nike phrase "Just do it" will take on a whole new meaning and come back to life. I informed him it's no sweat, Isabel is going to be bigger than Madame Curie and Oprah rolled together. But he wouldn't budge off his number of $5 million.

So I took on Michael Ovitz to represent us. So far he's made just the one commitment. There will be a book to come out to celebrate her third birthday-My Life So Far-as told to Danielle Steele and Lady Antonia Fraser.

He asked if she's ready to do lunch with the producer of "Seinfeld," who wants her to appear as a baby who is left outside Jerry's apartment in a basket with a 60-degree wedge. Why not? She's predestined to make people forget Shirley Temple and Golda Meir.

Ovitz did say he's not absolutely in love with "Isabel" as a marketable name with big-time resonance. He could be right. I just might have her name changed to "Bubbles" in honor of Bubbles Castellano-a guy from Brooklyn who just about saved my life by volunteering to do my weekend KP back when I was occupying Germany and had a weekend pass to Hamburg.

I almost forgot about a lawyer. We need a perfect lawyer. It'll be one of those two lady golfers from the Supreme Court-Sandra Day O'Connor or Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The only thing that could be tough about pulling this off is prying the kid loose from her parents. They are both tough Chicago lawyers who couldn't care less about golf. They are baseball wackos, obsessed with the White Sox. Maybe they would be willing to trade Isabel for a ball signed by Albert Belle.

Once we cut a deal with the parents, we're off to Florida. I think we'll buy Fisher Island, with what we save by beating state income tax.

Professional Golfers Are Not Entertainers

The ugly face of golf
For golfers to be entertainers presumes that professional golf as we know it would not exist were it not for television coverage. That notion is wrong. Professional golf exists at many levels that are not televised (local PGA, mini-tours, developmental tours, etc.) Many PGA Tour events were once held untelevised.

Without television and the ad revenue it produces it may be true that professional golfers would not be playing for the same amount of money they play for now. But make no mistake about it, professional golf can exist without television. Television, although it can exist without golf, cannot exist without programming. And golf is programming.
We have all witnessed the powerful effect of television when it comes to new-reporting and politics. TV is full of “pseudo-events”, i.e., events that occur only to be reported. If it weren't for their need to act as programming to be “reported” these “pseudo-events” wouldn't occur. That is not the case with professional golf.

Without TV the US Open, the Masters, the PGA and British Open would all continue as major championships. Much of the history of these events pre-dates TV. TV doesn't add to the events themselves it only adds to the coverage of the event. Players aren't to “act” on TV as professional golfers. They ARE professional golfers and these are professional golf events. All TV does is allow a wider audience to spectate.

TV has become the 9 foot gorilla in today’s world. The press for constant programming has caused news to be transformed into “entertainment”. New stories, instead of presenting facts are “scripted” for the “entertainment” value (“if it bleeds, it leads”). The worst of human frailties, foibles and morals are constantly portrayed. What gets portrayed most often usually becomes “accepted” after a while and “accepted” leads to “normal”. Thus the morality of a culture is changed, coarsened and degraded all because the pervasive medium of television needs its 24-hour programming.

Let’s not let professional golf ever become entertainment. If we do it will go the way of professional wrestling. All that is done is done for “the show”. If this mindset prevails and golf becomes entertainment what’s next? Fan participation?

TV and live-event golf fans already have to endure the constant verbal barrage of idiots who think it is their right to shout “get in the hole!” one nano-second after the pro makes contact with the ball. Soon we will have fans purposefully interfering with the flight or travel of the ball. We already have fans thinking they are “participating” in the Ryder Cup by verbally abusing players and taking them out of their games (re: Colin Montgomery at the ’99 Ryder Cup).

Let’s do all we can to preserve our game, this great game of golf with the distinctives that set it apart from today’s “entertainment sports”. Self-policing of rules infractions, gentlemanliness and sportsmanship all contribute to make golf unique among sports. Let’s be sure, in our “rush” to provide TV with its insatiable need for “exciting programming” that we don’t lose everything that once made golf different. And better.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

My Never-never Land: Golfing Rules They Don't Publish

People often ask me why I enjoy playing golf so much. I tell them it's because I have these rules I follow, rules I try never to break, except where money is involved.

Here are the rules to follow if you want to play better and live longer.

Never play golf with a guy who keeps a tee behind his ear.
 I don't think this needs an explanation. But it's the same reason I don't smoke with a guy who keeps a cigarette behind his ear.

Never play golf with a guy who wears a hard hat, smokes Camels and carries only seven clubs in his canvas bag.
 Play this guy and he not only beats you out of $700, he sets a course record doing it.

Never play golf with a guy who carries a towel to the green.
 Adds an hour to the round.

Never play couples golf.
 Matter of fact, my fee for playing one round of couples golf has just gone up to $10,000.

Never play golf with a guy whose head covers resemble Disney characters.
 He's a gut cinch to wear shorts and anklets.

Never play golf with a guy who wears shorts and anklets.
 Unless you can beat him. It's a horrible thing, losing to shorts and anklets.

Never play golf with a guy whose nickname is stitched into his gigantic leather bag.
 Makes you think about what his wife says at the dinner table:
"Would Big Bad Buck like to pass the butter?"

Never play golf with a guy who wears more than one gold wrist bracelet.
He's got a cell phone you haven't seen yet and will make 37 calls before you reach the ninth green.

Never play golf with a guy who can't seem to find something in his golf bag before you've even teed off on No. 1.
Cancel. Plead illness. Every hole, this guy is going to be digging around, trying to find a new ball, an old ball, a tee, a pencil, a ball marker, his peanut butter sandwich, his banana, the bottle of water, his muscle relaxers. 
He'll find the shoehorn he was looking for on about the 14th hole.
It was in his left shoe. That's why he was limping.

Never play golf with a guy who has one of those bags with separate compartments for all of the irons.
Each club will have to be soaked, rinsed, dried and polished after he uses it. And it will have to be stored in the proper sequence.
A 7-iron gets in the wrong compartment, there goes a half-hour.
The guy eats nothing but tuna on whole wheat. OK, once in a while he feels adventurous and goes for the eggplant.
He's a 24 from the whites.

Never play golf with a guy who keeps personal stats.
Writes it all down.
"That's my third sand-save this week."
I believe you're on the tee, Fred. Soon as you knock out that last chapter of War and Peace.

Never play golf with a guy who keeps those little sweaters on the clubheads of his irons.
You've got head covers on your irons? Are you kidding me?
He's a first cousin of the guy with the bag that has those compartments for the irons. Also eats nothing but tuna on whole wheat.
Yo, Tuna Man! How's it going with the color-coordinated closet?

Never play golf with the guy who feels it's his personal responsibility to keep the entire course in shape.
Mr. Groundskeeper. Repairs every divot in every fairway and on every green. Searches them out. He's never met a bunker he didn't want to rake.
The book on him is, he wants every round to take six hours. Otherwise, he has to go to the mall with Doris.

Never play golf with the guy who holds an arm of his prescription sunglasses in his teeth while he writes down a score on a hole.
"Let's see. I was two in the pond, three out, four over the landfill. Then what did I do? Oh, I know. I was six short of the bridge, seven on the other side of the bridge, then . . .hmmm . . . eight by the fence, nine behind the shed, 10 over the green."
Right. On in 11 and four putts. Can we move it along?

Never play golf on Ladies' Day.
It's been known to turn a perfectly decent gentleman into a serial killer.

Never play golf with a guy who writes about the game for a living.
It could be me.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

In search of the great, short par 4

They are not worried about vampires at Golf House. As for ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night, officials at the U.S. Golf Association are terribly brave and do not even sleep with the light on, or so I believe. Nevertheless, they are gripped by a neurotic, superstitious fear of the supernatural, in the form of a golf ball that will need only a gentle tap to make it soar off a quarter of a mile down the fairway.

The 16th at Cypress Point: A par 3 that would make the world's greatest short par 4
So what, you may ask? They are harmless. Let them hang up sprigs of garlic for all we care. The natural laws of physics make it impossible to add significantly to the distances a golf ball can be hit.

But the hysteria over the limitation of distance has created an unhealthy climate of opinion in golf, especially among architects who tend to believe these days that anything under 7,000 yards is a pitch-and-putt course. This obsession with length and power has led to a decline in one of the glories of golf, the short par 4, from 251 to about 360 yards. You still find them in new courses, but they are nondescript holes calling for a routine drive and pitch. The vanishing short par 4 that I have in mind is a rare jewel, the embodiment of the dictum that small is beautiful.

Good architects of the strategic school chortle with malicious glee as they draw their plans. "Every shot must challenge the mind and skill and the nerve of the golfer," the architect reasons. "There must be a straightforward way to play the hole, but I will deny the robot golfer his birdie with this little stratagem. I will entice him to drive over here into this broad expanse of fairway and then cut off his line to the green with an obtruding stand of trees.

"Now, for the man who thinks and can play all the shots, I will disguise his options and even if he detects the optimum placement I will make him play a superb shot to get there. If he falters I will grab him and punish him with this pond or this ravine. He must tread dangerously to follow this way but if he has the guts and the finesse and the power to find the promised land then I will offer him the reward of a likely birdie."

That is the philosophy behind the greatest of the short par 4s. On both shots through the green the player should be assailed by a barrage of emotions-from fear, to greed, to puzzlement-and he should be forced to assess his own capabilities with complete honesty. Power and bravado should never be enough to conquer a great, short par 4. Oddly, Augusta National does not have one. Both the third and seventh, which qualify by length, are difficult without being devious. The same goes for the eighth at Baltusrol and the 10th at Merion. I would qualify them as penal holes.

We are getting closer with the 17th at Pine Valley, a little brute of a hole at 344 yards, where you drive over a daunting desert to a deceptively generous oasis of fairway, tempting you to swing all out. What does it matter if the ball fades or hooks slightly? It matters. There is an area about the size of a tennis court that offers the golfer a chance to play a birdie-winning approach shot with confidence. That is the reward, if he is smart enough to recognize it and good enough to find it.

Breathtaking aerial view of 16th at Cypress Point
The finest short par 4 in the United States that I have seen exists only in my warped imagination. Everyone is familiar with the 16th at Cypress Point, the most photographed hole in the world-and rightly so. Clamber up the hillside with me in a journey of conjecture and let us build a tee 70 yards behind the real tee. We now have a hole of 303 yards, well within range of two shots by the most modest of hitters. But what shots they would have to be, absolutely precise and played under the most nerve-jangling stress. Yet, as you observe if you can achieve a moment of lucidity, the fairway is broad and the green generous. Draw the outlines of such a hole on a flat field, and a 24-handicapper would have no problem. Put it on its natural site and you have, for my money, the very essence of golf and a great, short par 4.

The only drawback is that in the process you would destroy the most splendid par 3, possibly, there is.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

John Daly, Tiger Woods and Golf's Sporting Heritage

There can be no denying that John Daly has brought the profession of golf into disrepute. Repeatedly so. He has blotted his copybook, let the side down, embarrassed his fellow professionals by making a frightful ass of himself and so on.

He has scrutinized his ways, however, and in the areas where he found them to be defective, he has mended them. The manner in which he has rehabilitated himself from the depths of dipsomania is commendable and deserving of continued encouragement.

But there is a fault line in human nature that emits gusts of noxious vapors that curdle the milk of kindness and forgiveness. Only people of impeccable virtue are afflicted by this poison, causing them--having given a dog a bad name--to pursue the wretched cur to the end of his days, baying for the noose.

A limited amount of sanctimonious tut-tutting is just about bearable from the self-appointed guardians of our moral standards, but they always overdo it. In particular they overdid it during golf's silly season, when we had some spurious and incomprehensible "world championship" every week for three months.

Daly played in a couple of those advertising stunts at the end of 1995, and he was something like 30 over par for six rounds of perfunctory golf. Letters to editors for favor of publication poured into newspaper and golf magazine offices, most of them oozing with venom. Daly was raked for bringing the profession into disrepute and also, overtly or by inference, betraying the game's heritage of royal and ancient and honorable and sporting behavior.

On closer inspection that heritage turns out to consist largely of drunken orgies and spectators deliberately kicking balls into gorse bushes to improve their chances of winning a bet. A most illustrious figure made a pact with a witch who transformed herself into a golf ball for him and flew unerringly toward his chosen targets.

An even more illustrious character prematurely celebrated victory over lunch in the inaugural U.S.Amateur, was beaten into second place in the afternoon, and then successfully demanded that the competition be declared void on the grounds that he hadn't won it. Some heritage.

These days golf is much more vigilant in enforcing the rules and monitoring standards of deportment and behavior, which is just as well since a lapse into the unsporting ethic that is increasingly infecting other popular sports would leave us without a game to play. It is impossible for an angry man or a dishonest man to play golf properly, although some still try it on. One competitor in a recent British Open was disqualified, and subsequently banned from professional golf for 45 years. When the referee was asked by how much the player had been moving his marker on the green he answered that it would have to be measured in fractions of a mile rather than fractions of a foot.

A Ryder Cup captain ordered his team not to help look for American balls in the rough, and when the players protested he sheepishly sought to justify his unsporting command by saying he was afraid of penalties for moving an opponent's ball. There is, of course, no penalty if you accidentally move an opponent's ball during a search.

The knowledge that your behavior on the course is liable to be relayed to the TV screens in 20 million homes, including the one watched by your wife and children, is undoubtedly a restraining influence on today's players.

Some of the game's more colorful characters simply could not have played tournament golf in today's conditions. There was one who released his internal pressures of frustration by head-butting trees, kicking himself on the shins and, on one occasion, knocking himself out with a self-inflicted left hook.

I had planned to offer a substantial cash reward from my personal fortune for the first reader to submit an all-correct list identifying the heroes of the above incidents. To my deep disappointment it has been officially deemed that any such competition would jeopardize the amateur status of everyone involved. That would never do.

Please note that Daly has never done anything as reprehensible as these examples. For all I know he may have grown a beard at some time, but that is no longer among the offenses officially designated by the PGA Tour as bringing the profession into disrepute.

We can all try to protect the game by doing our best to play by the spirit and letter of the law. Let our example rather than verbal outbursts of indignant censure show the malefactors the error of their ways. John Daly is trying his hardest. I earnestly suggest that we all get off his case and leave him to find his own salvation.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Improving your game with technology

Technology has always played an important role in the development of almost everything and sport is a field which demands various innovative technologies to improve the overall level of the sports. Although golf is not the most popular game but you will find most of the technologies are being used for this game as this game is the most technical one. I have listed down some of the popular technologies which are currently being used by golfers all around to improve their game.
X-Force swing trainer: This device produced by Callaway helps golfers develop a consistent and powerful golf swing. Since it is a club like structure with much more weight than a normal club, it helps in developing the muscles, rhythm and your tempo so that you can hit more powerful shots consistently. The weight also helps in warming up your muscles before any game. This is a must for every professional golfer.
X-Force swing trainer

PowerSwing trainer: The purpose of this aid is similar to the above x-force trainer i.e to add distance and power to your swing. However it takes a different approach for achieving the results. Instead of a club like structure it has a stretchable string which acts as resistance. Depending on your needs, they are available in light, medium and heavy resistance with colors as yellow, red and green respectively. Below is a video which demonstrates how it should be used.
Putting Alley: Golf is not only about hitting powerful swing, after all if  you are unable to do a proper finish by putting the ball in the hole all you swinging skill is useless. Putting alley is a very compact and portable training aid specially meant for practicing your putts. It improves all the five major factors involved in putting such as swing path, putter face alignment, putter face impact position, angle of approach and putter head speed. It is 27 inches long and is meant for improving your short putts but as you get control over your shot putts you will notice that your long putts have also improved.
Golf Simulators: When we talk about technology, then indoor golf simulator is definitely a breakthrough as it can be used for perfecting every aspect of your golf game. Some of the most talked about features of golf simulator is the swing analyzer, launch monitor, ball launch angle. In addition to these top class features, it also allows you to play on real world golf courses in a simulated environment. With this you can practice any international course at your home with your own set of clubs and balls. A basic simulator has a projector, a huge projector screen in front of you and the sensors to take all the information of the ball and club for the software to calculate the result of the shots.