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>Loudmouth

>Is it just me, or does it make perfect sense that John Daly wears pants from Loudmouth Golf (http://www.loudmouthgolf.com/) ?

>I LOVE my new driver

>I got the call from the proshop last Wednesday that my new Ping G10 driver was in. I was very excited to have it for last weekend’s round. I hit a few balls with it on Friday, and it felt every bit as good as I remembered from my fitting exercise.

Played 18 at a muni in McKinney yesterday, with two of three of my usual foursome (the fourth guy had some weak excuse like taking a cab home from the bar the night before, and his girlfriend locking the keys to her car inside his car, which was still at the bar). The course is almost empty, and it’s VERY windy (30-40 MPH).
I used it on all 14 long holes, and hit the fairway with half of them. When I connected it was very long. Even into the wind I would get 220-230 off the tee, and with the wind in my back I knocked one 390 straight down the gut of the fairway (my longest drive ever).
I played the Titleist ProV1x most of the time, and it really gave me a lot of pop. I tried a Pinnacle a few times, and didn’t feel the same dynamic energy out of it.
We’ve all heard the old adage that you “Drive for show, and putt for dough”, and I would probably still agree that’s true. But, if you don’t put the ball in play well off the tee you’re putting for double-bogey, and there’s very little dough in that. I was able to take 11 shots off my score from two weeks ago, and my driving was a big contributor to that.
I look forward to getting to know this club even better, and it will definitely provide a good foundation for my game going forward.

>The Byron

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I just got word this week that I will be getting a Press Pass to cover the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Las Colinas, TX (suburb of Dallas) for TGS (http://www.thegolfspace.com/) in about a month.
In the preceding weeks I will be preparing articles about Byron Nelson himself, a history of the tournament, and a preview of this year’s tournament.
It’s held at the gorgeous TPC Four Seasons course in Las Colinas (http://www.fourseasons.com/dallas/golf.html), and the tournament is organized by the Salesmanship Club in Dallas (http://www.hpbnc.org/salesmanshipclub/). Over the years this organization and the Byron Nelson Championship has raised over $100 million for charity, which puts it at the very top of PGA Tour fundraising efforts.
I’m very excited about this opportunity, and I look forward to sharing more information with you in the upcoming weeks.

>Book Review – Golf on the Edge (by a fellow TGS member)

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Greg Norman made headlines a few months ago when he suggested that professional golfers should take a pay cut in light of the financial crisis we’re in. While it may appear inappropriate that a tournament winner will take home a million dollars for a four day tournament while thousands of people are losing jobs and savings due to a near collapse of our financial system, it’s important to remember that for every millionaire on the tour there are thousands of professional golfers who struggle and fight for every single dollar and who are losing money for every tournament they play in. “Golf On The Edge” is the book about these golfers.

THE AUTHOR

“Golf On The Edge” was written by English sportswriter and journalist (and The Golf Space member) Ross Biddiscombe. Ross has been a journalist and writer for over 30 years, working for major daily newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and golf publications like Golf Monthly and Today’s Golfer. He’s a single-digit handicapper, a long time Tampa Bay Bucs fan and marathon runner.

THE BOOK

“Golf On The Edge” chronicles one year in the life of seven golfers as they’re preparing to play in the European Q-school at the end of the year. The seven candidates approach Q-school from very diverse backgrounds, from having struggled on the tour last year and having to qualify to being a long time PGA Professional who decides to pursue the dream of a PGA card. Some are young, some are old. Some have been at the top and have fallen down and some have no idea what it takes to bridge the gap between missing the cut and taking a cut out of the winners’ purse.

Each chapter in the book covers one month in the lives of the seven players, and it provides an intimate and honest view into the lives of the players who don’t have the big endorsement contracts and who are covered in the big golf magazines. They’re on the edge of making it, on the edge of making their finances go around, and on the edge of making it big, but they’re also on the edge of sanity and on the edge of risking everything in the pursuit of their dream.

The mental aspects of these golfers’ quest for a tour card is discussed in excruciating detail, and the helplessness they feel when things go against them is covered in painful candor. How do you tell your wife, who’s been supporting your pursuit of the dream for four years, that you want to try it one more year, and that this year it will be different? How do you tell your parents, or your sponsors, or your girlfriend, to get into a hole with you with no guarantees whatsoever that you will be able to get out?

The book concludes with a detailed review of how the players do at Q-School, and it’s an interesting look deep inside the incredible pressure involved in this tournament. Many would argue that the pressure of winning a tournament when you already have your own jet is nothing compared to the pressure of Q-school, where the losers return home with less than nothing, an little more than a job laying tiles waiting for them.

CONCLUSION: BIRDIE

Ross’ writing is eloquent, and his research effort very thorough. The seven stories are told in a very personal manner, and it’s clear the author invested a lot of passion and hope into his subjects. From his voluminous experience he’s able to convey all the different facets of success and failure, hope and despair, that go into these golfers’ journey.

Although the book covers European golfers and venues this will in no way deter you from enjoying the book if you’re not familiar with this environment. The core of the book is in the personal stories of these aspiring golfers.

For further information, please see the Pleasant City Press web site or contact Ross directly on TGS (http://www.thegolfspace.com/rossbidd).

>Pro Tour Review – 4/20/09

>The following is a Tour Review I wrote for JT Munson’s local newsletters in the Kansas City and Chicago area. See http://jtmunson.googlepages.com/jtmgolflines for more information about his publications, or contact JT directly at jtmunson@gmail.com.

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There was some great golf on display in this past month, including a couple of very closely contested majors and another ho-hum 72:nd green victory by you-know-who.

Arnie usually draws a very high caliber field to his Invitational at Bay Hill, and this year was no different. Sean O’Hair opened up with a 67, 65 and 71 to allow himself to go into Sunday with a five-stroke lead over his playing partner Tiger Woods. The talented youngster seemed out of sorts on Sunday, with three bogeys and one birdie on the first 10 holes. Meanwhile Tiger was two under for the same stretch, and had already gained four shots on O’Hair. After a few twists and turns on the back nine they came to 18 tied for the lead. With light fading quickly Tiger holed a 15-footer for birdie, and the fist-pump was on. O’Hair parred the hole to take second place.

The Houston Open drew unusually good competition, for being held the week before the Masters. The organizers were promoting the course as “Augusta Prep”, having configured the greens and rough to simulate Masters conditions as much as possible. As it turns out, the Wind was the most dominant factor of the week, with play having to be suspended on Thursday and the tournament struggling to catch up the rest of the weekend. Englishman Paul Casey defeated JB Holmes in a playoff, and with the win he rose to #6 in the world rankings.

Then it was time to head for Magnolia Lane, and one of the most anticipated Masters in years. How would Tiger do in his fourth tournament back after major knee surgery? Would two-time winners Ogilvy and Mickelson continue their hot play? Would Harrington win a third straight major (Oddly referred to as the “Paddy Slam”)? Would the roars return to Augusta, with the course as long as ever but this week blessed by warm and dry weather?

Any questions about whether good scores could be had were answered quickly on Thursday. Texan Chad Campbell opened with a new record five straight birdies on his way to a 65, as 19 players shot in the sixties. Friday belonged to Anthony Kim, who recovered from a disappointing 75 in his debut round at Augusta with a 65 of his own, including a record 11 birdies. Windy conditions brought the scores up a bit on Saturday, with five players shooting 68 as the day’s low score. Notable players who missed the cut were Couples, Els, Scott, Cink, Karlsson, Norman, Leonard, Weekley, and Zach Johnson. Tiger ground out rounds of 70, 72, and 70 to be at four under par. After three rounds Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera were tied for the lead at 11 under.

The roars started early on Sunday, as Phil and Tiger were paired together several groups ahead of the leaders, drawing huge crowds throughout the entire round. Phil lit up the front nine with a 30 that included some very sharp iron play. Tiger wasn’t far behind with an eagle on 8 and a 33. The leaders started steady, and at this point Phil was only one shot behind the lead. Phil’s back nine played out very anti-climactically with a 37 that included a double-bogey on 12 and missed short putts for eagle and birdie on 15 and 17. Tiger birdied 13, 15, and 16, but fell off the leaderboard for good with bogeys on 17 and 18.

As the leaders walked up 17 Kenny Perry were two shots ahead of Cabrera and Campbell for the lead. It seemed the moment got to Perry as Phil and Tiger’s crowds swelled back to follow the leaders, and Perry bogeys the last two holes. With two sets of pars, Campbell and Cabrera put themselves in position for the three-player playoff. Campbell hit a poor iron shot from the fairway as they replayed 18 for the first playoff hole, and he dropped off with a bogey as Perry and Cabrera took their pars to the 10:th hole. Two drives found the fairway, but while Perry’s second was pushed far left of the green Cabrera stuck a sharp iron below the hole. Perry fails to get up and down from his tough lie, and Angel Cabrera comfortably two-putts to win his second major title.

On the LPGA tour Pat Hurst won the MasterCard Classic and Karrie Webb won the highly regarded Phoenix LPGA International before they headed for their first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills CC in Rancho Mirage, California. Brittany Lincicome shot a 66 in the first round, and handfuls of players broke 70 in the first three rounds. The final pairing on Sunday included Linciome along with Christie Kerr and Kristy McPherson. It was a rollercoaster round for all three of them, but as they stepped onto the 18:th tee McPherson led by one over Kerr and Lincicome. Brittany bombed her drive almost 300 yards, and after her partners laid up on the daring par 5 she struck a hybrid 210 yards over water and onto the green in two. Kerr one-putted for birdie, and McPherson tapped in for par before Brittany Lincicome finished them both off by holing her eagle putt.

Lorena Ochoa was one shot back at the MasterCard and continued to play well but not great and finished T15 in Phoenix and T12 at Kraft. Michelle Wie barely made the cut in both tournaments she played in, finishing T57 in Phoenix and T67 at Kraft after two 71s and two 81s.

The European Tour took a break for the Masters, and many of the top players played in the US around the first major of the year. Dane Soren Kjeldson won the Open de Andalucia in Spain, and Michael Hoey won the Estoril Open de Portugal.

The next month includes the PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass, and the beginning of the revamped Texas Swing with the Texas Open in San Antonio and the Byron Nelson Championship outside Dallas. The LPGA plays the Corona Morelia Championship in Mexico before heading to the North-East with tournaments in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York. The European Tour includes Open tournaments in Spain, Italy, and Ireland before the prestigious European PGA Championship at Wentworth in England.

>Underrated Tournament – Heritage at Hilton Head

>I don’t know about you, but I think this week’s PGA Tour stop is highly underrated. It’s in as gorgeous locale as any stop throughout the year, the weather is usually perfect, and the course is very unique. And there’s a friggin’ lighthouse at the end of the 18:th hole, how cool is that?

The course has one of the longest set of par 3 holes anywhere, ranging from 185 to 200 yards. There’s water in play on 12 holes, and several of the doglegs require a creatively tactical approach where precise control is far more significant than raw power.

Unless you have claustrophobic tendencies the course looks great. It’s the kind of a place that if nobody visited for two years you wouldn’t be able to find it again, because the growth all around it is so dense. My wife travels to South Carolina on business fairly regularly, and she reports a definite sense of semi-claustrophobic unease due to the vines and crawling vegetation that appears to be covering every bare surface.

On some holes it looks as if the fairway is going in a canopy under the towering trees on either side. I think Luke Skywalker had more daylight in the cave in “The Empire Strikes Back”. On other holes it looks like they started with a swamp, threw down some vertical boards and walls, and dug up on one side of the wall and built up on the other side to form a fairway or green.

The overall appearance is very dramatic, and it’s a good thing the weather usually cooperates. If they got a dark rainy day they’d have to cancel play due to a shortage of light … in the middle of the day.

>My date with the fitter

>Spent some time with Dave The Club Guru at my range today (DA’s Spring Creek Golf, http://www.dasspringcreekgolf.com/scg/scgv2/home.html). He took some measurements, put me in front of a sensor, and had me start hitting shots with various clubs. I’m in the market for a new driver, and I’ve been test-hitting some of the big sellers here over the past couple of weeks.

He first determined that my swing speed is about 105 MPH with a 6-iron, which would put me in the “stiff” shaft range.

My favorite driver of the ones I’ve tried was the Ping G10, and I’ve also heard very good things about it both on line and in talking to the guys at the shop. Having played Ping Eye II irons for over 25 years this is obviously a company I have a lot of faith in.

I started out with a 9 degree club with the standard stiff shaft, and I hit a couple of decent shots, but Dave didn’t like the ball flight I was getting with it.

He switched me to the 10.5 degree, and stuck a stiff Grafalloy Prolaunch Red shaft on it. Allegedly this shaft has less whip in the bottom of it, which would give me more consistent hits. This combination felt and looked great, and the computer agreed. It put me at a launch angle of 14 degrees, and a spin rate of about 2,700, which I guess is the look you’re going for.

Dave then found me a grip that’s appropriate for my hands (which isn’t easy), and it turns out the orange Ping grip (+ 1/16″) is what I need. He said that having a correct grip will also help me be a little less wristy.

He said the Ping drivers already come with a pretty long shaft, but he was going to have it taken up to 46 inches to allow for my height.

All in all Dave did a great job for me. I ordered the club right there, and all the customizations he specified were part of the standard price, and the fitting was free. His analysis was part art and part science, in part based on him just watching me hit and watching the ball flight, and in part relying on the instruments. Given that the service was free and the adjustments we came up with were all included I never felt like he was trying to over-engineer my requirements.

Now for the tough part … waiting for my new driver to come in.

>The Golf Space – Happy 3:rd Birthday

>Happy Birthday to www.thegolfspace.com, as it’s turning big 3 this week. If you haven’t checked it out it’s a very entertaining forum for discussions about all things golf, from training tips and equipment recommendations to candid and humorous conversations about the latest news. The people on there are great, and Tony does a fantastic job running the thing (Tony is also the author of www.hookedongolfblog.com).

It has 4,100 members, over five million visitors, and over 15,000 articles, blogs, and forum comments. I highly recommend you check it out.

>Ramblings From The Masters Rough

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What a tournament! I was able to watch several hours of the first three days, and almost all of it on Sunday, and I loved every minute of it.
The course looked fantastic, and by all accounts it was very fair. Low scores could be had, but if you brought anything less than your A+ game you would be punished.
Congrats to Angel Cabrera on his victory. Many are making this out to be the Masters that Kenny Perry lost, but I feel like this is very inappropriate and disrespectful to a worthy champion. Golf is a game of swings and streaks, and just because Kenny played poorly in the end it doesn’t take anything away from Angel’s accomplishment. Angel played the final six holes in regulation in three under par, and he hit a hell of a shot into 10 to ice the playoff. That’s hardly having something handed to you.
I did find it interesting that KP started playing poorly right around the time the big crowds from Tiger and Phil’s group circled back to join the leaders. The guy was sheer class after the tournament, even though you know he just had his heart ripped out and shoved through a wood chipper. I foresee a US Open title in his near future. Bethpage is another stern yet fair test, much like Augusta National this week.
I enjoy the great young flat-belly pros with the perfect cookie-cutter swing as much as the next guy, but I did find it refreshing to see a couple of overweight 40-something with quite unorthodox swings battle it out for the Masters championship. Like Ishmael said in Kingpin: “Its kind of intimidating to be in the presence of so many great athletes.”
Sergio Garcia chose to celebrate a strong 38:th place finish by complaining about how difficult and unfair the course is. When the low score is around 66 every day, you can not possibly blame the course for your own performance. Como se dice “Sergio, you’re an idiot.”
I was touched to see Gary Player’s last round end on Friday. I’ve always appreciated his style and integrity, and even at 73 years old he’s got a hell of a game. I wore all black to my round on Saturday to honor The Black Knight. As he approached the 18:th green he dropped to one knee and put his hands together. The announcers said he appeared to be praying, but I feel like his pose was more that of a medieval knight, kneeling before his queen, sword in hand. Wright Thompson wrote a fantastic piece on ESPN about the way Mr. Player and Danny Lee spent Masters Week: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=090413/masters
If Aflac isn’t talking to Cabrara’s people about a sponsorship deal they’re blithering idiots.
I think Tony jinxed KP with his statement that “I’m so happy for Perry, who will become the oldest major champion in the history of golf.” as they walked up the 17:th fairway (http://www.hookedongolfblog.com/2009/04/12/2009-masters-sunday-blog). Great blog, Tony. Good job on the jinx, too.
Cool picture of Angel and his caddie getting their respective nerves in order.

Very funny pictoral montage of CBS’ coverage of Sunday’s golf, courtesy of Jay Busbee with Yahoo’s Devil Ball Blog: http://sports.yahoo.com/golf/blog/devil_ball_golf/post/A-visual-montage-of-CBS-s-Sunday-Masters-coverag?urn=golf,155149. He may be exaggerating it a bit, but he makes a good point.
Best analysis of the day: After Tiger mis-read his eagle putt on 15 they remarked that the mistake made Phil’s putt considerably more difficult. Sure enough, it’s not even close to the hole.
Once again the mystery of golf is rearing it’s unpredictable head. Someone brought up a statistic to indicate that in the 29 tournaments Cabrera has played in between his US Open win in 2007 and this year’s Masters he has one top ten finish, and he’s missed the cut 10 times (including at Bay Hill and Houston leading up to the Masters). Not exactly setting the world on fire.
If Chad Campbell would have won the Masters, would they have hired Andy Warhol to paint his champion’s portrait?
Jason Sobel hands out his own set of awards from the Masters: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4063428&name=sobel_jason.
This article includes this gem: “The ‘Alice Cooper Award’ goes to … Tiger Woods. The avid golfer/musician would love the comparison, but instead it’s some of his lyrics that apply to the top-ranked player’s final-hole struggles. Woods made bogey on No. 18 in three of four rounds, his worst tourney total at Augusta’s final hole ever. ‘Eighteen/I just don’t know what I want/Eighteen/I gotta get away/Eighteen/I gotta get out of this place.’ ” Classic!
Rumor has it the mood between Phil and Tiger was surprisingly warm, with consistent praise for each other’s good shots.
My LORD did Phil hit some iron shots on Sunday (except for 12, which was a real clunker). Who would have thought his putting would let him down? It’s sort of comforting to know that even at their level they have a hard time having all parts of their game working at the same time.
But if I have to hear or read one more guy say “If Phil would just have stayed out of the drink on 12 and made those two putts on 15 and 17 he would have won the tournament” I’m going to whack an L-Wedge across my shin. ENOUGH already.
Geoff Shackleford put together a nice summary of post-tournament commentary from around the world: http://www.geoffshackelford.com/homepage/2009/4/13/2009-masters-final-round-clippings.html
Until next year, that is all.

>Masters Rant – Midway through the second round

>It seems the scores are a lot closer to par today than yesterday, and there’s a storm that’s supposed to blow in this afternoon. The weekend weather should be nice, so we may see some lower scores, especially on Saturday if the greens still are soft from the rain.

Chad Campbell’s birdie on 18 today was crucial for him. After bogeying 17 and 18 yesterday Nick Faldo was all over him about “feeling the pressure”. Then he bogeys 17 today, but comes back with a bird. Ballsy.

Larry Mize has come back to earth a bit with a 76 today.

Did anyone really expect Vijay to play this well? He’s in 7:th at -3 after four holes today.

There’s some logjam at -2 right now: Ogilvy, Harrington, Woods, Weir, McIlroy.

AK is picking things up a bit, being -3 through 12 today to get back to Even for the tournament. If he gets hot he’s the kind of a player who could tear a course apart. There hasn’t been a lot of that happening this year, but he does have the temperament to do it if things fall into place.

Zach and Hunter are having a rough day. A bit surprising there’s not more consistency from these two, as they’re very solid players with good all-around games.

Speaking of a rough day: Tom Watson shot 45 on the back nine.

Outside the cutline right now: Els, Immelman, Couples, Cink (five over par for 10, 11, and 12), Choi, Goosen, Zach Johnson, Weekley,

Rory just eagled 13. Tiger got a par.

>"The Green Jacket" – A Masters Martini

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INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 oz Midori
1 1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
3 oz Vodka
PREPARATION
Mix ingredients in shaker, and add lots of ice.
Shake vehemently, and let sit for about a minute.
Shake vehemently again, and pour into cold glass.
Decorate with slice of peach and golfing accessory of your choice.

>Ramblings From The Rough (Masters Week)

>Golf.com had a discussion a few weeks ago about what Tiger’s drink would be, given that an “Arnold Palmer” is lemonade and ice tea. My buddy Jo-Jo is way ahead of this, as he invented the “Skyy Of The Tiger” last year. On hot days, as we get many of in Dallas, Jo-Jo’s concoction of Skyy Vodka and TW Gatorade is very tasty. You rehydrate while you dehydrate.

There’s a record number of people in space at the same time ever right now, 13. With that many people, for such a long time, you just know someone’s done the nasty in space. Why are we not hearing about this?

In ’97 Tiger shot 40 on his first 9 at Augusta, then went 21 under par on the remaining 63 holes. That’s decent golf.

Congrats to Paul Casey on his win at Houston. He moved up from 12:th to sixth place in the world ranking. Is it just me, or does anyone else think it’s odd that just one victory lets you pass five of the top 11 players in the world? I can see moving up to 16 from 22, but that big a move that high up in the table doesn’t ring true to me.

A BBC Commentator has gotten reprimanded for commenting on a jockey’s teeth after a big win: “Let’s see your teeth. He hasn’t got the best in the world but you can afford to go and get them done now.” This seems a little hyper-sensitive to me. I mean, if you’re standing next to a horse, and they notice YOUR teeth, you don’t really have too much to complain about, do you?

I may have to permanently boycott Rory in my fantasy team. He’s a Manchester United fan. But hey, some of my best friends are Manchester United fans.

Masters players I’ve never heard of: Ken Duke, Drew Kittleson, John Merrick, Jack Newman, Reinier Saxton, Lin Wen-Tang. All are first-timers, so I don’t feel so bad. “HELLO … Newman.”

In preparation for the Masters Jim Nantz is recording himself say “A Tradition Like No Other” again and again to make sure he’s doing it right, while Jimenez is smoking a stogie during the practice round. Who would you rather be?

Several golf club makers manufacture adjustable drivers (and looking at the price tag it’s obvious they’re VERY proud of them). Educate me please: How is altering the head to be open or closed 2 degrees different from just holding the club slightly open or closed? Having said that, being able to alter the loft is very cool.

I know there are some concerns about ESPN broadcasting the first two rounds of the Masters, the fear being that they, well, “ESPN” it too much. While that risk may well come to fruition, I do have to say that Andy North and Scott Van Pelt make a formidable booth. Andy in particular is probably my favorite golf color guy. He’s honest and insightful, and his commentary consistently adds value to whatever we’re watching.

I think it’s classic that Tiger felt it necessary to update his readers about his kids’ progress in golf: “Charlie has touched a club, but he can’t hold one yet. Sam didn’t grab a club until she was able to crawl. She’s still not swinging a club; she’d rather throw the ball.”

Is grey this year’s black on the golf course? Ben Hogan never knew what a trend-setter he was.

That is all.

>That Bethpage contest in Golf Digest

>It seems the finalists have been chosen, and ain’t it a homogenous group. Four middle-aged single-digit handicap caucasian males with admirable jobs from large urban areas in the North-East (with one Arizona transplant thrown in for good measure, probably to provide diversity).

Way to go out on a limb, Golf Digest … NOT. You’re reinforcing almost every sterotypes about golf.

This isn’t personal about either of these winners. I’m sure they’re great guys, and they’re clearly good golfers. They all emphasized their vocation in their six-word essay, and it was witty enough I guess. As Doctors, a Fire Chief and a Police Lieutenant they obviously do a lot of good in society. I congratulate all four of them for reaching this stage in the contest, and I’m sure whomever wins will have a great time on Long Island.

They’re just so very same.

Now more than ever “Bethpage needs a golfer in kilt”.