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>No Work, No Haggis

>(Traditional Zen Story, paraphrased by Golfer In Kilt.)

Old Alister MacGregor had come over from Scotland, and he had been the Superintendant at The Dunes GC for more than half his eighty year long life. Though he’s now officially retired he still lived above the pro shop, and he still insisted on helping the ground staff around the course. Every single day , rain or shine, you’d see him out there weeding the sand traps, pruning the shrubs, or clearing the clippings off the green.

The rest of the staff felt sorry to see the old Super working so hard at his old age, but they knew he would not listen to their advise to stop. One day they all decided to take matters into their own hands, and they hid his tools from him.
That day Mr. MacGregor did not eat. The next day he didn’t eat, nor the next after that.
“Maybe he’s angry because we hid his tools,” the ground staff theorized. “we’d better give them back to him.”
The next day, old Mr. MacGregor was back working with them, side by side, and again eating all his meals as usual. After dinner that day he explained:
“No work, no Haggis.”

>"Of Course" – Golf Cartoon

>I’m always on the lookout for new, original golf media creations. After all, there are only so many books I can read about the swing plane or bios about some old golfer. This week I’ve gotten to take a look at not one but two such creations. The other one is a book about golf poetry I will review shortly.

I stumbled onto a production group called Skadaddle Media from the tweet-wire. They think of the relationship with their audience in terms of a Jager Bomb. Oh, and they also like to needle Bubba Watson.

One of the things they’re working on is a golf cartoon called “Of Course”. It’s about a regular foursome, and about the conversations they have on the course. The animation is primitive, but the real entertainment is in the verbiage, as they strive to capture the very personal nature of some of our conversations during a round of golf.

I spoke to Todd, who’s one of the creators and voice actors in the show. He refers to it as “Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments of intimacy”. The core of the show are the comments we make during a round but which we probably won’t make under any other circumstances, and topics which definitely falls under the “What happens on the golf course stays on the golf course” category. And then we come home and the wife asks what we talked about, and the answer is “Nothing”.
He also explained the production process, which I found very interesting. They record the conversations in the cartoon while actually playing a round of golf. They have microphones on them on the course, and then they edit the sound and put the cartoons on top of them. They have a basic topic in mind for a particular show, but most of it is ad libbed as they get into character and tee off. He said they found this method to give it a very authentic feel, much more so than if they wrote a word-by-word script. Also, it gets them on to the fabulous Eagle Falls course at the Fantasy Springs Resort in Palm Springs Valley, and if that’s not a good boondoggle I don’t know what is.
The show starts March 1:st on FoxSports.com. The guys are clearly huge golf fans, and I encourage everyone to check them out on line and when the show starts.
LINKS:
Skadaddle Media – http://www.skadaddlemedia.com/
Of Course (including trailer) – http://www.facebook.com/OfCourseGolf
Eagle Falls – http://www.eaglefallsgolf.com/
Fantasy Springs Resort – http://www.fantasyspringsresort.com/

>The Joy Of A Two-Inch Pencil

>

This morning I wore a fleece vest I haven’t worn a lot recently. As I headed out the door I put my keys in the pocket, and I found a short little scorecard pencil in the pocket. I smiled. I played GOLF the last time I wore this vest. Friggin’ Sweet.
It was the last time I played the Haney 9-holer with my buddy. Walked 18 holes in 3 hours. Played poorly, but had a great time. Went on to the bar to watch the football games over a burger and a couple of beers.
You know you’re onto something special when even little reminders like this can change your mood in an instant.
Maybe it’s finding a scorecard in a stack of papers you clean up. Can you ever throw it away without first checking how you played that day? Maybe it’s finding a tee under your seat in the car. Don’t you always put it between your fingers as if you were placing a ball into the ground? Maybe it’s hearing someone at work talk about a course you’ve played before. Do you not think back to the last time you were there?
I’m leaving this pencil in here. Who knows when next I’ll need a surprise. My day is getting better already.

>Secret Love Child

>The secret love child of Gary McCord and Nick Faldo has been identified …

>Oliver Wilson Q&A

>Oliver Wilson is a four-year pro from England who’s currently number 41 in the World Golf Ranking. In 2008 he earned the dubious honor of becoming the first player ever chosen for a Ryder Cup team without a professional victory under his belt. He finished 7:th in the European Order of Merit in 2009, still without a victory.

Oliver was stuck in an airplane on Heathrow on his way to Dubai. While he waited for the de-icing to kick in he launched an informal Q&A with his Twitter followers. Here are a few of the answers:
Q: Who’s your best mate on tour?
A: Jamie Elson
Q: Are you playing here in the US. If so, what events?
A: I’ll be over in February. I’m playing WGC Matchplay, Doral, Masters, Players.
Q: What is your favorite club?
A: My “Heaven Wood”, the best utility club I’ve used. Had it for a few years.
Q: Are you sad there’s only one competition in England on the European Tour?
A: Very much so! They will be back soon, though.
Q: Draw or fade?
A: Fade, all day long.
Q: Any good rookies to look out for on tour this year?
A: Sam Hutsby. Jamie Elson too, although not strictly a rookie.
Q: What’s your favorite golf course in England?
A: Notts Hollinwell GC
Q: Who do you think will be the world number 1 this year?
A: Absolutely no question: Tiger Woods
Q: Who do current British players consider to be the greatest British golfer of all time?
A: Nick Faldo
Q: What’s the best show you’ve played as a pro?
A: Driver off the deck at Gleneagles to seal my place on the Ryder Cup team in 2008.

>24 hours on Planet Twitter

>What can I say; I’m not exactly what you would call an early adopter when it comes to technology. I like it enough, but it’s just not that important to me to be on the bleeding edge. My TV is 15 years old. I still buy CDs rather than downloading. I love music, but don’t have an iPod. And, more to the point, I have worked in the IT field for over 20 years but before last year I had never ventured into the myspace/blog/twitter/facebook world. I’ve had my blog now for about a year, and it’s going pretty good, so last night I decided to take the next step and start tweeting.

Now, I’m not on Twitter because I want to tell the world I just burned a log, or had a beer, or saw something really exciting. My life is really not that interesting to anyone. I just want to see what the fuzz is all about, and if it can be a fun way to keep up with the people in and around the sport of golf.

I was intrigued by the ability to send commentary directly to the golf celebrities who are on this infrastructure. Got to say, it’s a LOT more fun than commenting on some article on Yahoo Sports.

I told Anna Rawson that if my buddy knew she did Yoga he’d be an even bigger fan than he already is. She replied and said she’s just getting into it. Cool. I told Ian Poulter to quit complaining about the weather in Orlando. He replied and said he knew, but that it’s really been rotten lately. Very cool. I asked Billy Horschel which Pings he plays, and he gave me the run of what’s in his bag. He plays a G10 driver, just like me. Coolness.

I sent various and sundry messages to people like Rickie Fowler and Christina Kim and John Rollins and Jason Sobel and Bubba Watson and Natalie Gulbis. John Daly is following ME (and 41,362 other close friends). Outside of golf I reached out and touched Eddie Izzard, Mythbusters, and The Ellen Show.

So far it’s been fun. Time will tell whether I stick with it or get bored. Eventually I will probably weed out the contributors who’s input I really don’t care about, and will settle on a few people I follow closely.

>The Biggest (golf) Losers (of 2009)

>As we enter into a new year and a new golf season it’s commonplace to talk about who the big winners were in the past year. Who won for the first time? Who won multiple tournaments? Who won by the biggest margin?

I think that this is one year when a major story can be told about who DIDN’T win golf tournaments in the year. There are some fairly substantial names on this list, and I thought I’d go through some of them and discuss whether I think their trend will continue to plummet or whether they’ll bounce back. For lack of any other system I’m going down the World Golf Ranking (which has a very interesting and useful site … http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/).

PADRAIG HARRINGTON, IRL (ranked 6) – Paddy’s swing work is very well documented, and his 2009 is truly a tale of two separate and disparate halves. He missed eight cuts before he even got to The Open. A tie for 65:th at Turnberry was no real indication that things were changing, but then somehow his game started to click. After The Open Paddy finished in the top six eight times, but somehow failed to win any of them.

Paddy is going to be fine. He has the mindset and now the re-vamped swing to compete for majors against any competitor and any odds. I expect him to have as good a year as anyone on tour.

SERGIO GARCIA, SPA (12) – It was only a year ago that we were discussing the mathematical possibility that he would overtake Tiger as the world’s number one. Fresh off a couple of victories at the end of 2008, he seemed primed for a great year. 2009 started promising enough with a couple of top-tens, but then he wouldn’t reach that plateau again until The Open. By the time the year was done he only had seven top ten finishes to his name, with his best performances a couple of 4:th place finishes.

Sergio did not look like a happy camper in 2009. His putting was off, and he’s going into the new year injured. Unless he can find a source of peace for his soul he won’t be able to do much with the ball, and he won’t be a threat again this year.

ERNIE ELS, S.AF (17) – 2009 was the first year since 1993 that The Big Easy didn’t get a W, and the first time in 18 years that he fell out of the top ten in the world ranking. Eight top ten finishes was all he had to show for his 2009 season. The latter part seemed to be better than the beginning, as he was competitive in the PGA Championship and came close to winning the HSBC Champions tournament in China.

Ernie changed swing coaches in 2008, after working with Leadbetter since 1990, and he has not truly regained his edge since. Ernie just turned 40, and one would have to wonder if time is running out on one of the best looking swings in the history of golf.

CAMILO VILLEGAS, COL (24) AND ANTHONY KIM, USA (25) – Both are young, flamboyant players who rose to the top with a couple of impressive victories each in 2008. Both were hailed as some of the new faces in golf to challenge the old guard, but for one reason or another they failed to build momentum in 2009.

Camilo only had five top ten finishes in the year, with his best being third at the Buick early on. AK had four top tens, the most memorable of which was his dismantling at the hands of Tiger at the AT&T National.

Both are young enough and talented enough to bounce back and compete for majors in the next five years. The big question mark with AK is his focus. He constantly gets knocked for lack of work ethic, and for partying too much. Over the course of the year he said several times after a good round that “I’ve been working really hard this past month”, but the end results would indicate differently.

VIJAY SINGH, FIJI (26) – Like Ernie, another aging former world number one. Vijay got hurt early in the year, came back too fast, and never really recovered. Coming up on his 47:th birthday, Vijay has been holding off father time in amazing fashion, winning 10 times from 2005 to 2008, but his 2009 included six missed cuts and only three top ten finishes.

It’s hard enough to maintain form and health at his age, but to repair the body and regain the form is infinitely more challenging. I would be very surprised if Vijay proves to be a consistent factor at the highest level again.

SO, in conclusion I guess my prognosis is good for three of these losers and not so good for three of them. Only time will tell. Time, however, is exactly what’s working against some of them.

>Kilted New Year’s Resolution

>I hope everyone in TGS and elsewhere in golf had a wonderful holiday. Mine was very low-key, but I went out of my way to re-charge my batteries both physically and mentally, and I’m ready and looking forward to a great 2010.

I’m not typically one for making New Year’s Resolutions, and the ones I make I normally don’t keep, but for 2K10 I’m going to not only make one but make it public as well: I will write about golf consistently.

I thoroughly enjoyed blogging about golf last year, and I appreciate everybody’s feedback, but it was very much a roller-coaster year as far as the frequency of my postings. Some months I had as many as 15, but other months I had less than a handful.It’s obviously easy to write about golf in April and June and July, when majors are on everybody’s mind, but if I am to be able to look myself in the proverbial mirror I need to be able to find ideas and stories week in and week out. I need to do this regardless of whether a tournament presents a neatly packaged fairy-tale finish, or whether it’s a bit of a dud. Anyone could have waxed poetically if Tom Watson would have won The Open last year. It’s a lot more challenging to cover Dustin Johnson winning at Pebble in a rain-shortened tournament.

Even though I’m still doing this as a hobby, I guess it’s called being a Professional. To make it a craft. To be a reporter rather than a supporter.

I caught a lot of the end of the year review pieces on TV and in writing, and it really bothered me how consistently broadcasters and journalists alike complained and whined about the major winners in 2009. This includes writers I have a lot of respect for. You should never lose track of the fan inside, but I feel like they were not being fans of a particular golfer, they were fans of the easy story. Kenny Perry winning his first Major. Lefty coming back from his layoff and winning the US Open. Tiger, well, any time.

If you’re a reporter it’s your duty and job to report on what happened, not complain about what didn’t happen. If you’re a writer, you should be able and willing to write well about any conclusion and to extract a spirited piece even if the dominoes don’t necessarily fall the way you would expect.

At the core of it all, it’s about the game of golf, and the game is greater than anyone in it. It always was, and it always will be. It’s about putting the ball in the hole 72 times in four days. The game was greater than Bobby and Ben and Jack and Arnie, and it’s greater than Tiger and Phil today.