Past ramblings

Other Golf Stuff

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Back From Vacation

Well, I don’t know whether I deserved it or not, but I got some time off and had a thoroughly enjoyable vacation. Birthday party, baseball game, golf, lake time. It’s all good. Looking forward to getting back to the golf blog. Here are a few things I’m going to write about coming up:

  • The WGC Firestone – One of the most entertaining Saturdays of golf in a long time. It was very close, with a bunch of very talented golfers performing at the very highest level.
  • The WGC Firestone 2 – Is it just me, or is this one of the most boring courses the pros play on all year?
  • Putting Mat – I’ve been using it, and it’s helped a lot. Will contain a noteworthy Larry Legend reference.
  • Course Review of The Golf Club Of Kansas – Nice, tough course laid out in an old quarry.
  • Book Review of Golf In The Kingdom – One of my more anticipated reads.
  • Seven Days In Utopia – New golf movie. What do we know about it?
  • Best golf books ever – There are two that stand alone above the rest for me.
  • My latest swing move – Tiger and Faldo are in agreement.
  • PGA Championship – I’m done trying to predict who’s going to play well.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Robert Matre’s US Open Photographs

If you follow my writing at all you know what a huge fan I am of the golf photography by Robert Matre. He’s just posted some of his shots from the US Open on his website.

I highly recommend you go out to take a look … http://www.robertmatre.com/congressional2011. As always it’s a mixture of course shots, player shots, and then my favorites; where he takes regular objects and turns them into extraordinary photographs with the cunning use of angles and composition.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Beginning Golf

I know in the mind of many women activities like fishing, hunting, and golf are things that guys get into as an excuse to be out of the house and away from the wife and family for as long as possible. This is not the case for me, and this year it’s gotten to be time to put my money where my mouth is and see about getting The Missus into the game.

(iStockphoto)

She’s never played before. She has swung clubs a few times at the range, but that’s it. Helping her get off the ground has forced me to think about the best way for someone to learn the game from scratch. I don’t know whether my approach is correct or not, and I can’t even say whether it’s the best approach for her, but here goes.

CLASSES

We have started out just going to the range, and I think we’ll continue doing this for some time before I get her into a formal class. There are several reasons for this. For one, I think less is more when it comes to the things a golfer has to think about. The swing a teacher is going to try to get her to aspire to would constitute a huge step for a beginner, and I think it would introduce a lot of frustrations and complications that are not necessary at this level.

As veterans of the game we have to make sure we keep it fun. This is a lot easier by making sure the beginner just worry about hitting the ball and not all the minutiae of the golf swing.

Also, in order to get your money’s worth out of classes you need to practice quite a bit between sessions. This requires a decent level of golf fitness. Most beginners don’t have this.

While I’m not a particularly big fan of his, this is one of the things I really agree with Harvey Penick about. I think it was his son in law who was taking up the game, and Harvey told him to hit balls by himself for six months before coming to see him.

The counter-argument is that you don’t want to develop any bad habits that are tougher to correct later on. This is a valid point, but I think it’s significantly less important than allowing her to build up her golf fitness and enjoy her time on the range.

ADVICE

I give very little advice, and I hardly ever correct her on the range, unless I see something glaring. She knows about the left arm being straight, and about not moving her head, and her grip basically along the right lines. At this point, that’s really all I want her to worry about.

Remember what’s important to a beginning golfer. When chipping, for instance, it doesn’t matter whether they’re able to get up and down. We just want to avoid having them scull it across the green or chili-dip it two feet forward. I tell her to ignore the flag and aim for the middle of the green. I currently have her chip with a 9-iron. It gets the ball air bound enough for most cases, but even if she hits it a little thin the swing is not such that the ball will shoot 20 yards over the green.

Encourage, encourage, encourage. She’s already intimidated by the fact that I hit the ball hundreds of yards. The worst thing I can do is to micro-manage and uber-critique her swing.

EQUIPMENT

She’s currently using 30 year old clubs we got at a garage sale, with new grips on them. For where she is right now, I don’t think it would make an ounce of difference if she had anything better. For one, until we know she’s going to be into it there’s no sense in spending a lot of money on gear. For two, until she starts to make somewhat consistent contact with the ball the quality of the clubs don’t matter much.

Once we determine that golf is something she likes we will upgrade her SOMEWHAT. This doesn’t mean we’re getting her a $1000 set of irons. We’ll probably get a irons-woods-bag combo for $200-$300, or something from eBay.

She currently has a half set, and again I think that’s fine when you start out. If you don’t make consistent contact and don’t hit it a consistent distance when you do make contact it won’t hurt you not to have an 8-iron.

The counter-argument here is that if you don’t have good equipment you won’t improve as fast and you are more likely to lose interest. This also is valid, but when you first start out it really doesn’t make any difference in my mind. Yes, once we know she’s going to enjoy it and stick with it we’ll get something decent. There’s already too much good money thrown after bad golfers in this sport, and I don’t want to perpetuate that.

COURSE PLAY

We’ve been out on the course a few times, and that’s useful so she learns the rhythm of the round, the rules of golf play and golf etiquette, and the applications of what she’s working on.

What I think we’ll do a lot more of, however, is to go to a par-3 pitching course. The holes are between 60 and 120 yards long. This will allow her to hole out every hole (which doesn’t always happen on the big course), and it will get her to be confident in those tricky shots around the green. I think once she has a nice foundation here it will be easier to extend her game from there. Plus, she has a real chance to get a par or a bogey here and there, and that’s really exciting to a beginner. We can’t forget how much fun it is when you have those good holes when you’re just starting out.

I don’t know who said it, but I’ve heard the theory that the best way to teach a beginner is from the green out, rather than from the Tee in. I think this makes a lot of sense.

Short game work makes a lot of sense to golfers of any level, as a matter of fact, so playing this course is going to benefit me (a 12 handicapper) at the same time as I get to work on her game.

SUMMARY

Keep it simple. Less is more. Encourage. Make sure they have fun.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Paraphrasing Crash Davis

I believe in the golfer’s soul, the driver, the putter, the gentle slope of a creek running across the fairway, the super-high peg, a hot dog after nine holes, Miller Lite, that the books by Harvey Pennick are self-indulgent, overrated crap.  I believe Bobby Jones stands alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing metal drivers and sports psychologists.  I believe in the sweet spot, LPGA calendars, playing the ball where it lies rather than using a foot wedge, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet pre-shot routines that last three days.

They Call Him “Eyebrow-Boy”

I was catching Rory’s interview after his round yesterday, when I had to do a double-take.  It had nothing to do with Rory himself, it pertained to the crowd behind him.

There’s this guy behind him who looks like a cross between Richie Cunningham and Ron Weasley.  Halfway through the interview he proceeds to … well … might as well look for yourself.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

RBC To The Heritage Rescue

Word just came down that the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has agreed to sponsor the Heritage Classic tournament for the next five years.  I’m very happy to hear that, as this is one of my favorite tournaments in any golf year. The Harbor Town course is unique and quirky, the Hilton Head vistas are second to none, and the list of champions is impressive.

Going forward the tournament is going to be called the RBC-Heritage Classic.

More plaid !!!

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Happy 75:th Birthday to my Dad

Today is my dad’s 75:th birthday. Unfortunately I can’t be there in person to celebrate, so I will have to rely on cross-Atlantic shipments and a quick phone call. Oh, and I can blog about it, of course.

(Sidebar comment to my friends at Fedex: It took three days for my package to go from Dallas to Addison to Indianapolis to Cologne to Paris and to Stockholm, Sweden. Then it sat in Stockholm for four days. What gives?)

I and my dad started playing golf together in the late 70s when I was about 13 and he was about 42. I had a friend who played, and he had a co-worker who played, and somehow I was able to talk him into taking some lessons. He’s never stopped thanking me for this. Golf has been a significant aid to keep him healthy and active as well as to help him manage stress both while he was working and as he transitioned into retirement. When I moved away from home he talked my mom into taking the game up so he had a partner, and the two of them have enjoyed many rounds and many golf vacations together.

As we started out playing our games progressed very similarly. We’re both big guys, and both with a history of playing various other sports, so we could always hit the ball a long way, even as a 30+ handicapper. But boy did we hit the ball a long way into the rough. And boy did we lose a lot of balls. Nothing but Top Flite XLs (if we felt we deserved new balls). Our home course was called Uddeholm GK, and it was notorious for deep ravines and high grass out in the rough, especially in the summer.

Because we usually practiced together and played together our handicaps dropped very similarly, and there was always an element of close competition when we played. Eventually we both dipped down into the single digits. I went off to college, and his golf journeys have taken him all over Sweden and Scotland, Ireland, Southern Europe, and Northern Africa (as well as visiting me in the US, of course). For a long time any trip across the Atlantic would include an empty golf bag going West, and a full one going back to Sweden, as golf equipment was extremely expensive in the old country.

These days he still plays several rounds a week, and walk every step of the way. He’s proud to be the rookie on the 75+ team that represents his golf club in local competitions. (For better or worse, it is the last team he can be a rookie on as there is no 80+ team or higher.)

Happy Birthday, “Pappa”.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Joining WordPress

Well, I finally got tired of the editing pickadillos of blogspot, and took my buddy Tony’s advice and joined WordPress.  My old blog was golferinkilt.blogspot.com. 

I don’t currently know whether I will be able to move my content from there to here.

Bear with me while I figure out this new system.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

>Golf Writing Snobbery

>I was just informed by an unnamed golf tournament that they don’t have enough space to allow web writers and bloggers to receive credentials to their tournament. This, of course, after the fact that The Colonial opened their doors to me last year, and I had a great time at their event (http://golferinkilt.blogspot.com/2010/06/my-day-at-colonial.html).

And I know that organizations such as Golf Writers of America still stick to their old-fashioned standards of writers having to have been published in print in order for them to even be considered for membership.

And as much as I dislike it and disagree with it I guess I can sort of understand this mind set, if it’s applied consistently. But then Golf Digest, one of the biggest Golf publications in the world, publish an article that’s made up almost exclusively of tweets by one of their writers.

I like the tactile sensation of reading a paper, but why would I bother if most of their golf and sports pieces are from newswires that I read 12 hours ago? If you’re going to put yourself up on a pedestal, you need to provide the kind of content that justifies it. If you just print electronic content that some generic news service published, how in the world can you look down at other writers of electronic media?

>Be aware, be very aware

>The mental aspects of golf is something that appears to hit home and strike out equally with all levels of golfers. There are pros who consider themselves “old school” and not in need of stuff like that, and there are 30-handicappers who swear by it.

My own maturity in this area has been slow, but thanks to books like “Zen Golf” I have started to improve in this department myself, and for this hacker the benefits have been significant. It’s a wonderful journey to start being aware and able to manage the things that go on in your own noggin, and the non-golf implications to this maturity may be even greater than what it does for me on the course.

I’m not a teacher, nor a writer in this area, but what I can share with you is a concrete example that has helped me significantly. To demonstrate, I will discuss the three phases of awareness that I migrated through in order to make progress. The problem is related to the thoughts you get popping into your head when you’re partway through a better-than-average round. You start to think about what your final score might be. Maybe this will be the first time you break 90. You think about what your handicap will be after this round, or whether you have a chance to win the tournament you’re playing in. Invariably, your level of play drops drastically and irrepairably.

Phase 1 – Not-so-blissful Ignorance

At this point, you usually don’t realize these thoughts are getting into your head until it’s too late and the round is over. Looking back you sort of have an idea what was going on, but at the time you were way too busy and you had way too many things going on in your head to notice these warning signs when they first pop up, much less actually do something about it.

Phase 2 – “Oh, shit” Awareness

As you start to read about these topics and think about what’s going on in your head you eventually get to the point where you notice when your head starts drifting in the wrong direction. The problem is, you don’t know what to do about it other than to go “Oh shit, here come these thoughts again.”

Phase 3 – Awareness and management

You will notice that at no point will I discuss what to do to avoid these thoughts, or how best to get rid of them. That’s because you can’t.

So what to do, then? You need to train yourself to recognize your thoughts and emotions without labeling, judging, or fearing them. You just observe what’s going on just like you would observe a car driving in and out of your line of sight.

The second part is to be able to get your mind into the right state before the next shot. Advanced methods include just clearing your mind, but most of us have not practiced enough meditation to be able to do that at will.

What has worked for me is to have a pre-swing routine and a swing thought specific to the shot I’m about to play that I focus on. The bad thought doesn’t go away, but by having something positive and productive to think about it’s of less consequence and of less impact on my game.

It may or may not be for you, but I highly recommend you at least take a look.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

>Top 10 Drinking Games To Play While Watching The PGA Tour

>This list was inspired by the ever-excellent Shane Bacon of Yahoo Sports fame. He made a comment last weekend that a new drinking game would be to drink every time the commentators mentioned that Johnny Vegas was a rookie.


His comment made me think about other things that happen ALL the time during a golf broadcast, and I came up with this list. I sort of focused on the irritating things that don’t really need to be said, the stupid noise that they insist on filling the airwaves with. I’ve tried to make it as non-personal as possible, but I think you can figure out who I’m talking about most of the time:

10 – Drink every time they tell us about Miguel Angel Jimenez “Love for life” (He’s a big ol’ fat guy, he loves wine and stogies, he hits shots off the wall on the Road Hole, and he putts with his wedge. He’s quite possibly the coolest guy on any tour right now. There are SO many more things to say about him than just that he “loves life”.)

9- Drink every time they proclaim some young player as the next dominant player in the world
. (Really, it’s quite likely he won’t be. I don’t cheer for anyone to fail, but I know very few of the really really talented golfers have the mindset it takes to get to the top).

8 – Drink every time they mention Amy Mickelson or Bubba’s Dad, or some other non-golf topic du jour
(It’s cold of me to list this, I know. This is what we call “reality”. It’s tragic and inspiring and emotional, but we really don’t need to hear about it every time that player is in a shot.)

7 – Drink every time there is a comment about JD’s or Smurf’s clothing.
(They’ve been wearing this stuff for years, folks, it’s not exactly revolutionary.)

6 – Drink every time they mention how Tiger today is not the Tiger of yore.
(He’ll never be that dominant again. Get over it.)

5 – Drink every time they mention how long guys like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson hit the ball.
(We know, they’re studs, you don’t have to marvel about it every time.)

4 – Drink every time a commentator says something like “You could see he pulled that shot” when the ball lands left of the target.
(If you could see it, why didn’t you say something before the ball landed? You just sound like an idiot.)

3 – Drink every time some swing guru tries to analyze a swing, without being able to make a point in any way (It’s usually in the form of a comparison to their old swing, or an explanation why a certain shot went a certain way. It’s usually quite useless.)

2 – Drink every time some former great player makes it clear they were better than today’s players.
(You were great in your day, guys. These guys are great in their day. Your role is not to lift yourself up to put them down, but to analyze the game.)

And the number 1 drinking game to play while watching professional golf on TV is:

1 – Drink every time a commentator says a player is going to make this putt/chip, with utmost confidence, and the player then misses it.
(I’m not sure what they think this adds to the broadcast.)

DISCLAIMER: Don’t be a f*cking idiot. This is a f*cking joke. Don’t even f*cking think about suing me if you play one of these games and your liver fails.

>False alarm on Lefty rules violation

>When I saw Bones tend the flagstick for Phil’s third shot at the San Diego Open my first thought was “He’s not allowed to do that!”. I distinctly recalled a recent magazine article that talked about the flag being tended and pulled for a shot from off the green, and the article was quite clear in its assertion that this was not allowed.

So I looked up good ol’ Rule 17 in the Rules of Gowf, dealing with “The Flagstick”.

Rule 17-1 deals with tending the flagstick. It states

“Before making a stroke from anywhere on the course, the player may have the flagstick attended, removed or held up to indicate the position of the hole.

If the flagstick is not attended, removed or held up before the player makes a stroke, it must not be attended, removed or held up during the stroke or while the player’s ball is in motion if doing so might influence the movement of the ball.”

So, Phil is in the right because clearly Bones was attending the flag prior to the shot.

The article in question clearly deals with the situation where someone’s hitting a shot that’s not expected to go in, and someone runs up to jerk the flag out of the hole.

>Golf and Life

>Well, the Kilted one has been in a bit of a slump for a few months here. It’s mostly job related. Got laid off, and I’ve been busy selling my soul to the highest buyer. I’ve been keeping a very positive attitude, but it’s still a drawn out and challenging time in one’s life. I think men have a harder time being laid off, as on an instinctive level we feel like we’re inadequate if we don’t provide for our family. Sure, friends and relatives are all very nice, saying all the right things, but we still feel like sh*t.

As with most everything else that happens in my life, there’s a tie to golf. Several ties, actually.

Firstly, I just haven’t had enough time, energy, and mostly peace of mind to write about golf.

Job hunting in the internet age is almost a 24/7 proposition, and it takes every bit as much of your time as having an actual job. The difference is, you leave a job to come home. You’re never far away from another jobhunting step.

Being out of work is tremendously tiring. On the days when I have an interview I’m just shot for the rest of the day. Science has proven that being out of work is more stressful than ANY job you can have.

Then there’s the peace of mind bit. Writing about golf is a luxury for me, and without having the lower rungs on my hierarchy of mental needs in place I just haven’t been able to get myself to the point where it was even possible for me to put words on paper (figuratively speaking, of course).

I go back to a partial round of golf I played back in 2003. I was deep in the throes of buying a new house, and my buddy was expecting his firstborn any day. We got about as far as 12 holes, and then we had to walk off the course. Our heads just weren’t in the game, and if they’re not 100% on the next shot there’s just no way to either have fun or play well. I remember my dad saying the same thing about a couple of instances where life got in the way of a good round.

I mean, that’s what we love about golf, right? It’s not that it’s relaxing, in and of itself. Are four foot downhill putts relaxing? Are long water carries relaxing? Are plugged lies in the bunker relaxing? Of course they’re not. The key is that while you worry about all those ups and downs of a round of golf you don’t worry about anything else that’s going on in your life. You don’t, because you can’t.

Then my mind swings around to some of the professional tour players who have had extra-curricular things on their mind this year. Tiger and Phil are the obvious ones, but there are many many pros who have life’s strikes and gutters threaten their mental 300. I’ve never dealt with a loved one having cancer, but I have gone through a divorce. The fact that these guys are even able to be basically competitive at all is a tremendous testament to their innate talent and strength of will.

I’ve been very lucky through my rough spot here that it was by far the nicest time of the year in the Dallas area, and I was able to spend some time on the range and on the course. My game is actually in pretty good shape. The OU – Texas challenge in the beginning of September was the highlight, again dominated by the Sooners. After that I made a move back one tee, to the blues from the whites, and I started walking and carrying my sticks. It took a bit to find a new rhythm, but my game has flourished. I have finished the season with a couple of rounds in the low 80s, and my handicap is at 12.2.

I still think about golf all the time, quite literally. I’ve been watching a lot of the tournaments at the end of the year, and I think the pro game is in very good shape right now.

Right now I’m on a short-term consulting gig, and even though it’s not permanent it’s enough to stop the financial bleeding and let things break even for a bit. I’m hoping to get back into my writing. I’ve also read some significant golf books, and those of you who know me know how much I love golf lit.

I look forward to re-acquainting myself with my old friends in the golf community. Until then, keep’em in the short stuff.

>The Hack Shack – The Open

>This week I and my fellow Hack-Shackers discuss Goydos’ 59, golf at St. Andrews, who we like at the British Open this week, and how our own game is going.

PAUL GOYDOS SHOOTS A 59, AND STRICK WINS THE JOHN DEERE AT A RIDICULOUS 26 STROKES BELOW PAR. HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THIS?

STEFAN: I love “Sunshine”, but he gets a slight asterisk next to his score. Par is 71 on this course, and they were playing “clean and place”. This essentially means every iron shot is teed up as long as it’s in the fairway, and we all know Goydos hits a lot of fairways. The other three 59s were on par 72 courses. Strick can shoot darts with the best of them.

JEFF: How can you not like “Sunshine” Goydos? The guy is a quote a minute. I do think this is pretty significant, despite that it was on a par 71 course. These guys play PLENTY of par 71 courses throughout the year, and still this is only the 4th time it’s ever been done in history. How can you not say that’s significant?

STEFAN: Oh, it’s definitely significant, and nobody’s a bigger Goydos fan than me. Earlier in the week I was keeping my fingers crossed for a Goydos/Mediate pairing on Sunday. They would have HAD to put a mic on those guys.

JACK: Whichever way you look at it, a 59 on the PGA Tour is a 59. Incredible stuff, even though Paul Goydos was the last guy I had down to achieve such a feat. Imagine if Stricks could have gone one better on the Thursday and matched Goydos: a pair of 59s on the same day! Now that would have been significant.

TONY: That round shows you how good any regular middle tier tour player could be on any given day. They’re so beyond low handicap amateurs it is sick. How funny is it that Stricker shoots a 60 in the first round and was in 2nd place? The scores last week were very Bob Hope Desert Classic like. I don’t mind a tourney or two a year where they go super low like this. Perhaps that balances out the high scoring of the US OPEN. Any company who provides gear for Goydos has been quick to jump on the bandwagon, from ball manufacturers to club manufacturers. I think I even saw a press release from Goydos’ toothpaste manufacturer.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, EMOTIONS ABOUT ST. ANDREWS?

TONY: The home of golf. The whole town is all about golf. I can’t wait to go. Planning on going next July.

My best friend has played the old course and walked the grounds at Augusta National. He tells me the feeling he gets at the old course is far beyond what he felt at the Masters. As big a Masters fan as I am, I found that hard to believe but I’ll wait until I stand on the 1st tee at the Old Course before I judge what he said.

I love the old course and the links style golf. I play very well on links courses and I love the creativity and shots that can be played, especially ones which run and follow the contours and rolling hills.

STEFAN: I’ve never been there, and maybe I’m building it up too much in my mind, but for me it’s the Mecca of golf in every sense of the word. It’s like a portal through which all other golf experiences get funneled. Growing up in Sweden we were big Seve fans, and his win there in ’84 put it on the map for us. Then you add Bobby and Jack before that and Tiger a couple of times after that, and you can’t beat it. I’d love to see the Ryder Cup played there one day, maybe for the Centenary in 2027.

JEFF: Overall I’m not a “huge” fan of links style golf, but have to respect these players that go and can completely change their game to accommodate the course and conditions like that. St. Andrews IS the Mecca of golf and I’d give my right arm to play there some day. It’s created so many historic moments over the years and I love that The Open goes back there so often. I love watching the guys tee it up on the road hole.

JACK: First things first, I think St Andrews is slightly overrated as a course. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic, but Turnberry and Royal Birkdale stand out as two better Open Championship venues I’ve had the privilege of playing… not wanting to brag or anything. As an Open Championship venue, however, you can’t beat St Andrews. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it’s the best major venue by quite some way. The atmosphere, surroundings, fans, architecture, EVERYTHING: the place is just so special. Close your eyes at the last hole and you can almost envisage yourself on the fairways with the game’s greats – the sense of history is palpable and somewhat overwhelming.

TIME TO MAKE YOUR PICKS. I SAY WE PICK ONE PLAYER FROM THE TOP 10, ONE PLAYER FROM 11-20, ONE PLAYER FROM 21-30, AND ONE PLAYER RANKED ABOVE 30 IN THE WORLD ACCORDING TO OWGR (
http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/rankings/default.sps). IF YOU’RE NOT PICKING TIGER OR PHIL, LET US KNOW WHY NOT.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: THOUGH THIS CONVERSATION WAS POSTED AFTER THE START OF THE TOURNAMENT, THE PICKS WERE MADE ON WEDNESDAY)

STEFAN: I’m basing my picks in part on the fact that with the exception of Nick Faldo the recent six winners at St. Andrews have been some of the longest hitters in the game (Jack, Seve, JD, Tiger).
– LEE WESTWOOD (barely edging Rory and Tiger). Beware of an injured golfer. This tournament will be a stern test to his psyche, after his performance at the US Open. He’s won here before on the Euro tour.
– JUSTIN ROSE (just ahead of Paddy). I know it’s supposed to be some sort of weird taboo to win the tournament before a major, but the way he has been playing he has to have loads of confidence at this time.
– DUSTIN JOHNSON. You know how when you hit a bad shot with a certain club on a hole you’re bound to get that very same shot on the next hole? Well, for Dustin it’s another Major, and obviously a test of his psyche as well.
– ANGEL CABRERA. He has the power and the experience to do well here. It’s about time for him to come out of nowhere to win a major again.

I think Tiger will get another Top 10 here, but I think Phil will struggle. He’s just so in love with his own game. The power of his drives, and the freaky flop shots he throws up there. I think he’s blinded to the kinds of shots he’s going to have to hit in order to do well at St. Andrews.

JACK: Top 10: Tiger Woods, who else? Yeah yeah, he’s streaky, but he’s got to win sometime soon. This is his favourite track, and it shows in the fact that he’s hoisted the Claret Jug here on the past two occasions. He’ll make it three in a row if you ask me.11 – 20: I’m with Stef on this one… Justin Rose. Made a name for himself at this tournament back in ’98 at Royal Birkdale and, based on current form, there’s no reason why he can’t go a few better and win the thing.21 – 30: Sean O’Hair, anyone? Love Sean’s game and after a decent finish at St Andrews in 2005, I think he’ll be turning a few heads come Sunday afternoon. You heard it here first.Outside 30 – Ross Fisher. Sure, this guy’s dull as dishwater, but he can’t half play golf. Let’s forget the fact that Fisher made a hash of thing at Turnberry last year, because he’s got the length and patience to contend again this week.

JEFF: From Top 10 in OWGR – Lee Westwood
He’s primed and ready for his long-awaited first Major. After the Masters I said that I didn’t think his first would be Pebble, but that St. Andrews would be. So I’ll stick with that. He’s a Major Championship shark, and he’s playing the best golf of his career. I think he’s the guy to beat this week.

11-20 in OWGR – Justin Rose – The OTHER Brit who is absolutely on fire right now. Rose is finally starting to live up to all of that potential and I would not be surprised at all to see him win this week. He’ll certainly have the crowds behind him.

21-30 in OWGR – Geoff Ogilvy – Ogilvy hasn’t been playing the best of golf this year, but to choose from this small select group of 21-30 in OWGR, I like his chances seeing his T5 finish in 2005 at St. Andrews.

Outside of Top 30 – Sergio Garcia – I know this can be somewhat laughable, but since 2001 he’s finished in Top 10 SIX times at The Open. I just like him as an outside reach/sleeper pick.

I didn’t go with Tiger or Phil for pretty obvious reasons. Tiger, as we’ve seen has had some issues with the putter, and you just don’t know what you’re going to get with him lately. Phil, doesn’t exactly have a great track record at the British either, as much as I’d love to see him win.

TONY: 1-10: Lee Westwood (arguably playing the best golf of anyone on this planet right now and will have great support from the galleries)11-20: Padraig Harrington (total stud, knows how to win Opens)21-30: Sean O’Hair (like the kid)30+: Angel Cabrera (love his attitude and he’s mega long)

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU’RE WORKING ON WITH YOUR OWN GAME RIGHT NOW, AND HOW IS IT WORKING OUT SO FAR?

STEFAN: I’ve come to the realization that I need to spend some time in the practice bunker, so I started that last night. It was ugly. My regular muni doesn’t have a lot of sand on it, which is nice for two reasons: 1) It doesn’t have a lot of sand on it, and 2) I can wear my golf sandals to play there. When I go to a course with more bunkering (like Bali Hai last month) I tend to struggle. In addition to the difficulty of the shot there is also a lot of variation from sand to sand.

My focus is on taking a consistent amount of sand with a shallow swing. I realized last night that bunker practice takes a lot more out of you than almost anything else you do on the range. My plan was to hit a small bucket after about 45 minutes of bunker practice, and I barely made it through the bucket because I was worn out.

JEFF: I have played golf for over 23 years and despite playing on high school and college teams with coaches who would give “tips”, never had a formal/official lesson. But still got down to a 4 handicap at one point. About 2 months ago, I decided to finally take a lesson with a pro. I know there were some things in my swing that needed to be worked on. He identified 2 off the get-go. I take the club back too far, and I’m lazy with my hip turn. The club going back too far is something that is difficult (at least for me) to correct. It’s so mental to tell yourself to stop, when for 20 years you’ve been used to that backswing. I’ve been hitting the range a lot and working on it. I see much cleaner and pure contact with that shortened backswing (as well as consciously firing my hips through), but my tendency now is to pull the ball a bit, and sometimes hit it fat. It’s all a timing thing I think at this point, and just hitting the range on a regular basis I’ll hopefully get it down to where I can build that “repeatable” swing for better ball striking.

Keep’em in the short stuff.
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The Hack Shack is a group of golf fans and golf bloggers who like to comment on the current events in the world of golf. You can get to know us better in our introduction http://golferinkilt.blogspot.com/2010/06/introducing-hack-shack.html. On the electronic internets we can be located as follows:
Tony’s blog is http://www.hookedongolfblog.com/.He also runs http://www.thegolfspace.com/.His twitter account is http://www.twitter.com/thegolfspace.
Jack’s blog is http://dudewheresmypar.tumblr.com/.His twitter account is http://www.twitter.com/dudewheresmypar.
Jeff’s blog is http://www.goodwalkgolf.com/.His twitter account is http://www.twitter.com/jpalopoli.
Stefan’s blog is http://golferinkilt.blogspot.com/.And his twitter account is http://www.twitter.com/golferinkilt.

>A British Open Martini – The "Seve-tini"

>You would think a Martini based on the British Open would have Gin in it, and I can see your point. But I think that what we’d drink at Royal Liverpool and what we’d drink at St. Andrew’s are two completely different things. Gin is the official drink of the British Empire. Gin is wonderful. On a hot day, a Gin ‘n’ Tonic or a Gin Pixie (Gin and Sprite) is a perfectly wonderful beverage.

But it’s not Scotland. Everybody knows about Scotch, but this concoction intends to introduce you to a quite marvelous Scotch-based liquor called Drambuie. It’s thick and sweet and syrupy, and absolutely awesome on a cold day. The most popular cocktail using it is a Rusty Nail, which is half Drambuie and half Scotch.

I was all geared up to celebrate Seve’s return to St. Andrews this year. The Golf Digest feature last month brought tears to my eyes. Growing up in Sweden, we claimed Seve as our very own world-beater, and the stories of his shots and accomplishments were nothing short of legendary in every sense of the word. He was “El Hombre” before Tiger got out of diapers.

Then sadly, his health has prevented him from attending this year’s celebratory event. Knowing what I know about Seve the man, that tells me he’s close to death, because there are very few things that could have prevented him from going north this week.

So, here’s a tribute to Seve the best way I know how: A Martini. Like Seve’s game it’s strong and surprising and sweet and unpredictable, all the while combining the flavors of Scotland and Spain.

RECIPE:
1 oz Drambuie
1 oz Cuantreau
2 oz Belvidere Vodka
INSTRUCTIONS:
Combine ingredients over lots of ice in a shaker.
Shake heartily.
Wait a minute.
Shake heartily again.
Wait 30 seconds.
Pour into your favorite Martini glass.
Decorate with a slice of orange, and golf accutriments.
Enjoy
“Viva Seve !!!”