>It’s been a good year so far from a Golf Lit point of view, as I’ve had the pleasure of reading not one but two books of original golf poetry. Today’s offering is “Golf Sonnets” by James Long Hale. In his own words, the author is “an avid amateur golfer who freely gives and gets Mulligans, understates his handicap, and desperately needs the proceeds from this book to cover his losses. He owns seven drivers, five putters, and his widow enjoys gardening.”
This charming little book is roughly the size of a golf course yardage guide, and it contains 18 very well written golf poems of very disciplined, consistent syntax. The syncapation is quite Prussian, and the author clearly has wrestled significantly with the content in order to make it fit his meter. The end result is funny and witty and insightful, and it’s clearly the product of a mind who spends many hours a day thinking about the game of golf.
>As the tournament is minutes from kicking off, here are my aces in the hole this week:
He obviously has the power, but the rest of his game is underrated. He’s won this year, and although he’s dropped off the radar a bit after his win he did have three straight Top 20 finishes before his win.
One may be tempted to dismiss his two early victories in Europe as they were against less than stellar fields, but then he’s come to the PGA Tour and he’s landed T9, 2, and T3 in four events. His game is definitely primed, and he doesn’t seem to be suffering from much of a culture shock in America.
Lee may be playing as well as anyone in the planet over the past six months. He has a 1, T3, T3, 2, T9, and T8 in his last nine tournaments. His ball striking will allow him to not only get the ball on the gree, but to get it in the right part of the green, which is key at Augusta.
I really don’t expect him to win, but I still give him a better chance to win than almost any other player in the field. He’s physically healthy, and by all accounts his ball striking is good. The question marks are pressure putting and basic competition experience.
While I’m at it, here’s why I’m picking these four over other some of the other names that are bandied about:
Strick – I just don’t think he’s long enough. When you are forced to hit Augusta’s green-inside-the-green it’s key to have as short a club as possible in your hands. I know non-bombers have won at Augusta, but it’s more the exception than the rule.
Phil – He has the game to win, but he’s been too inconsistent this year. Maybe he needs Tiger around to bring out the best in him.
Furyk – Not long enough, and with the exception of his win he’s been inconsistent as well.
Casey – I don’t think he’s 100% healthy. Augusta will kick your ass if you go in with less than your A-game.
Poults – He had a great run going at the end of last year, but he’s struggled with inconsistency this year.
Ernie – We didn’t really see his double wins coming this year, did we? I’ll be cheering for him, but I don’t know that he’s all the way back yet. It’s one thing to reach the winners’ circle, quite another to maintain that level of play. Having said that, he was going to be my next pick.
Ogilvy – He should do well here, with his short game, but I think he’s distracted right now. He’s the kind of a player who might benefit from having to play a bit loose, and he could get on a run.
AK – He’s playing well, and I’m very happy to see that. A LOT of things have to go right to win a tournament. In addition to playing lights out you have to have that little bit of luck to separate yourself from the other handful of players who also are playing lights out. It’s not likely he’ll A) Reach that level of play again this week, and B) Have all those things go right for him again this week.
>I think everyone is familiar with the term “Addition by subtraction”, but sometimes that phrase comes true in surprising situations.
Take the element of color in golf, for instance. To me, it’s a critical aspect of my visual enjoyment of golf. The green of the grass. The blue of the sky. The white of the ball. The blinding white of the all-too-inviting sand traps. Hell, even the red of Tiger’s polo on a Sunday afternoon. It’s all part of what makes me love this game so much, whether I’m playing or watching it on TV.
>I exchanged a couple of tweets with young Mr. Rickie Fowler (www.twitter.com/@rickiefowlerpga) this week. He complained about his errors on the course. I asked him if they were mental mistakes or bad swings. He said they were a little of both. I recommended “Zen Golf” for the mental side of golf (as I do to anyone who will listen). Rickie replied, and I quote: “na that stuff isn’t for me…thanks though…I’m an old school guy.”
So, before I get to my final messages back to young Mr. Fowler, let’s have a bit of fun, shall we? Let’s play “How Old School Is Rickie Fowler”:
>A few months back I talked about some of the big names that hadn’t won anything in 2009 (http://golferinkilt.blogspot.com/2010/01/biggest-golf-losers-of-2009.html).
One of them was Ernie Els, about whom I stated “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“.
Well, clearly I was wrong, and nobody is happier about this than I am. He’s now won twice in a row on difficult courses with world-class fields. I love having that silky smooth swing back in contention on a regular basis.
As a tall golfer myself Ernie is one of the few pro players I have a chance to pick up a few moves from. I can read Hogan’s fundamentals until I’m blue in the face, but the fact remains that my left leg weighs more than Hogan does, and I can never do the things he talks about in the book.
I took a few lessons last year, and at one point my pro showed my swing next to Ernie’s on the computer. This was quite humbling, to say the least, but also very inspirational.
I’ve said many times that there’s nobody I’d rather watch hit golf balls than Ernie and Fred Couples. It really doesn’t matter what the competition is. And now they’re both at the very peak of their game, which makes it even more exciting.
On a personal level Ernie comes across very genuine, and he’s clearly had to deal with some significant personal hardships. The fact that he’s come out of it all swinging (literally) and performing at the very highest level is a testament to his talent and perseverance.