Shop a wide variety of Callaway Golf accessories at Callaway's official online store! Eyewear, bags, gloves, and much more. Click Here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Good Mental Tip from T. Woods

I'm a huge advocate of focusing on the mental side of golf, especially since I've recognized that it may be the biggest weakness in my own game. Of course, you cannot be a physical wreck but have a perfect mental approach and expect to play well. However, when you have some decent skills and want to take your game to the next level, your attitude and what goes on in your head will make all the difference.

I was surprised to read that Tiger Woods had never played Oakmont until this past weekend. He was there to prep for the U.S. Open and to put on a little show for some heavy Amex users. This little exchange (full article) between Tiger and one of the "regular folks" at Oakmont really says a lot about how Tiger thinks about his game.

Woods hit a stinger 3-iron on the 428-yard third hole with a slight breeze at his back, making sure he stayed out of the "Church Pew" bunkers that separate the third and fourth fairways, long strips of grass in the sand that look like benches.

"Can you hit one from the Church Pews?" someone said to him.

"No," Woods replied with a grin.

"Will you teach us how?" the man said.

"How to play out of it? You hit it right here," Woods said, pointing to the short grass in the fairway. "I go crazy when I watch guys in practice round play shots from a drop area. Why bring negativity into your thoughts? I only practice from where I expect to play."

Tiger's golf game is so good, that he might not need much practice out of fairway bunkers, unlike the rest of us. Still, having a positive attitude and almost KNOWING that he'll be in the fairway illustrates one reason why he is so good. This an excellent lesson for the everyday hacker like me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Golf and Business

Some cool things have happened in the world of golf in the past week, including Boo Weekley breaking through in Hilton Head and Curtis Strange and Hubert Green being elected to the Golf Hall of Fame.

But rather than rehash what you've already read, I thought my faithful readers would want to read about why playing golf is good for business and one's career. Here's a quickie that makes the case for golf improving one's career, especially if you are of the female persuasion.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Logo Watch

Last week when Jay and I were in Augusta for a Masters practice round, we got a kick out of checking out which logos the patrons had on their shirts and hats. We called it being on "Logo Watch".

At first, we noticed the logos unconsciously. But after a while we began to notice that the patrons were "bringing the heat", meaning they were sporting their best logo wear, and we couldn't help but try to decipher every logo that passed by.

It was amusing how hard everyone was trying to show off their best logos. I had a shirt on from Cabo del Sol, and Jay was without a logo entirely. Probably 40% of all the people had something on from Augusta or the Masters, and just about every top golf course and country club from around the world was represented. I gave extra credit to those who wore shirts or hats from their home courses. This demonstrated a significant amount of pride in courses that most people would never recognize by sight or by name.

For logo connoisseurs, there are a few logos that are immediately recognizable. Some of the ones that come to mind (and we saw most of these) are Pine Valley, Merion, Shinnecock, Burning Tree, L.A.C.C., Winged Foot, Bandon Dunes, Pinehurst, Seminole, Cypress Point, and Kapalua. It's difficult for a designer to come up with an original logo these days that stands out without explicitly naming the course beneath the logo.

Even with originality at a premium, I find it frustrating when a logo is some sort of crest or shield that looks very much like other crests and shields, forcing logo watchers like me to have to squint to read it or walk right up next to the guy to identify it.

Logo design shouldn't be taken lightly because you never know who's looking. Especially at the Masters.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

No Official USGA Handicap? Check Out MyGolfRecord

If you're not a member of a country club, obtaining and maintaining an official USGA handicap is a real hassle. Thankfully, there are plenty of websites where you can track your handicap using the USGA formula. I have kept my handicap on several of these sites, and the one I like the best is MyGolfRecord.

MyGolfRecord was recently redesigned, and the owner of the site solicited suggestions from the users to make the site better. As far as I can tell, he listened to what people were saying, and the site is easier to use and has more features than ever before.

What I really like about the site is how one is able to keep track of statistics like fairways hit, greens in regulation, sand saves, putts per GIR, and even driving distance. It also keeps track of eagles, birdies, pars, etc. My favorite new stat is stroke average. I believe stroke average is the most important stat of all. Currently, my stroke average is a bit over 91, and my goal by July 4th is to get it to 89.

If you don't have an official USGA handicap or you haven't found a good site online to keep track of your scores and statistics, look no further than MyGolfRecord.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Update on Gorman Bros. Golf Weekend

The details for the Gorman Brothers Golf Weekend in South Jersey are nearly final. We are still tying up a few loose ends, but the major pieces are in place.

Friday, April 27th
--We have three groups teeing off beginning at 7:51am at the Bay Course at Seaview.
--We have six groups teeing off beginning at 2:06pm at Twisted Dune.
--Dinner back at the house after Twisted Dune around 7:30pm.
--The draft party will begin at 9:00pm.
--The Calcutta/Parimutuel Hybrid team selection event takes place at around 9:30pm.

Saturday, April 28th
--Gorman Brothers Invitational begins at 1:05pm at Sand Barrens.
--Tournament winners, long drive winner, and closest-to-pin champion will be crowned after the tournament.
--Dinner back at the house around 7:00pm.
--We have a bus reserved for AC leaving around 10:00pm.
--In AC, the champions of the Gorman Brothers Invitational will wager their winnings at the roulette wheel or blackjack table.

Sunday, April 29th
--We have five groups teeing off beginning at 10:16am at McCullough’s Emerald Links.
--Go home.

A comprehensive document about the weekend's activities will be emailed to all participants within the next seven days.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Masters -- A Few More Items

Yesterday's final round of the Masters Tournament was a welcome surprise. Zach Johnson did what I've been waiting so long for other players to do -- stand tough against Tiger in a major. Tiger did his part to beat himself, but Johnson by no means backed into the winner's circle. Hopefully something will click for other Tour pros, and they will begin to believe that Tiger is not invincible. If there is a Tour-wide shift of mindset, the next few years will be very exciting.

Like many people, I was glad to see the back nine birdies and eagles on Sunday. Had yesterday been like Saturday, the Masters' unique position as the baddest tournament in the world would have been in jeopardy. I'm sure Fazio, Hootie, et al breathed a sigh of relief that +5 did not win the tournament.

I found this little gem of an article a few days ago and have been waiting to post it. It is a tremendous account about how tough of a ticket the Masters is. It makes me think that the easiest way for me to get access to the tournament in the future will be to have a press pass issued to Networked Golfer. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Test Time at Augusta

I'd like to write a scathing story about the train wrecks all over Augusta yesterday afternoon. I hadn't been that sick to my stomach since the ride home from Magic Mountain in fifth grade at Eric Atkinson's birthday party when Jared Chow took the brunt of my churros and nachos grande. However, reviewing what happened to 10+ of the top players in the world when they made the turn in front of Tiger Woods would only make me feel worse.

Instead, I want to talk about three tests that should be administered at Augusta before every Masters Tournament. One test is for the players, the second test is for the patrons, and the third test is for the members.

Test One - Psychological Test
Each player in the Masters field save Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw, Fuzzy Zoeller, and Gary Player should be required to take a psychological test shortly after arriving at Augusta. After an intensive written and oral examination, the doctor should take each player's pulse and blood pressure. During these tests, the doctor should mention things like "Tiger Woods", "Buick Spokesman", "Earl Woods", "Cablinasian", "Elin", "Green Jacket", and "Tee Shot on 12". If there is a spike in the player's heart rate or blood pressure, the player might be disqualified from the tournament. If his blood pressure spikes only at the mention of "Elin", he'll be allowed to play. The reason for this test is to weed out early everyone who doesn't deserve to win the tournament because of their mental weakness.

Test Two - Masters Knowledge
During the Monday practice round, Jay and I kept shaking our heads in amazement at how uninformed the patrons (esp. the louder ones) around us were about the Masters, Augusta National, and golf in general. We decided that as a pre-requisite to obtaining entrance for practice rounds and tournament rounds, you have to answer at least six out of ten correctly on the following test. Here are the questions:

1) Which holes comprise Amen Corner?
2) Who won the first Masters?
3) How many Masters did Arnold Palmer win?
4) What is Ben Crenshaw's nickname?
5) Among these players, who won the most Masters titles? a) Jimmy Demaret, b) Bernhard Langer, c) Tom Watson, d) Seve Ballesteros
6) Which two men founded Augusta National?
7) What "trophy" does the winner of the Masters receive?
8) Name the two par 5s on the back nine.
9) Name three holes on the course that have water in play.
10) How many Masters titles did Gren Norman win?

Test Three - Bobby Jones Appreciation Assessment
Augusta National has been changed quite a bit in the past ten years, and now it hardly resembles the course Bobby Jones envisioned back in the early thirties. I don't think Jones would be disappointed with all of the changes concerning added length, but nearly all of the other changes made to the golf course run counter to his design philosophy. Holes one, four, seven, eleven, fourteen, fifteen, and seventeen most definitely have him rolling in his grave.

Fortunately, many of these changes can be undone if the members say so. The third test that I'm calling for is a full-blown assessment of each Augusta member's appreciation for Bobby Jones' vision for how Augusta should be played, why he thought the way he did, and how the course as it plays today is contrary to what was intended. After the assessment, each member would be required to write a 600 word essay on what he could personally do to restore the design elements Jones and Mackenzie desired.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thoughts from Augusta

Needless to say, I had a great time at the Monday Masters practice round. As you have all heard a million times, you can't quite understand what makes Augusta so special until you walk the grounds. Here are a few of the highlights from Monday:

Chatting Up Steve Stricker: This wasn't as lengthy a conversation as we had in 2001 with Jim Nantz, but my friend Jay Payne did offer up some words of encouragement to Steve Stricker, whom we followed around for a few holes. Steve seemed like a cool guy, and though we're pulling for him, his opening round 75 isn't looking very stellar.

Watching Brett Wetterich Hit Bombs on Eleven: We spent some time hanging around the 11th tee box, and were fortunate enough to see Wetterich hit two MONSTER drives. He didn't like the first one (it only went about 300 and was a little to the right), but he gave the patrons a wry, knowing smile after his second one, which had to have traveled about 330. I also overheard him talking to one of his playing partners, Larry Mize, and he seemed very deferential to Mize, a former Masters champion. So, Jay and I immediately became Wetterich fans and were glad to see him leading after the first round.

Seeing Seve Chip on Three: We made sure to catch a few holes of The Spanish Armada (Seve, Miguel Angel, and Ollie), and it was worth it. We dubbed them the "Nina", the "Pinta", and the Jose "Santa Maria" Olazabal. Seve might hit it sideways, but we saw him hit about eight chips to a precarious part of the green that must be one of the traditional pin placements. It was incredible to see him stop each of the chips on a dime only a few feet from each other with his buttery hands. Even though he probably won't break 80 this week, he still has a ridiculous short game. This one knucklehead near us asked his buddy if he thought he could beat Seve if he was given two a side. Moron...

Watching Tom Watson Play Thirteen: I've always liked Watson, and if he could put together a few days of solid putting, I think he could contend. That probably won't happen, but when watching him, it's obvious that he loves Augusta and won't be giving up his privilege to play anytime soon, a la Faldo. Strangely, he was playing his practice round with Andy North, who is not exempt from the Masters. It was cool watching Watson hit pitches over Rae's Creek and spend lots of time on and around the green hitting to various pin positions. He made a comment about how things would go on Sunday, so we just knew he still has that competitive fire.

Hanging Out at the Putting Green: One of the coolest things to do at Augusta is to watch the players on the practice green. Here, we saw nearly everyone. They all have different drills and routines, and Henrik Stenson stood out for his focus. We really liked how all of the players came over to Adam Scott to congratulate him and give him guff for his win in Houston last week. We couldn't hear much of what was said, but he seemed to take the ribbing like a champ. Another highlight was listening to O'Meara give Vijay a bunch of crap about how Vij will probably never play on the Champions Tour because he won't need the money. Vij was smiling, but he also looked like he wanted to rip O'Meara's head off.

More commentary tomorrow...