Past ramblings

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Reviewing My Masters Picks

My picks at the outset of the tournament were Rory, Jason Day, BVP, and Gary Woodland.

Rory played well Thursday and Friday, but sort of fell apart over the weekend. I would say he’s very likely to get a jacket one of these years, but of course we thought the same about Greg Norman.

Jason Day shot a 76 on Thursday and withdrew on Friday. Not sure what that’s all about.

Bo Van Pelt were a couple of strokes above par for each round through Saturday, but made the cut and then went on to shoot a 64 on Sunday to finish T17.

Gary was about Even going into the weekend, but shot an 85 on Saturday and then withdrew.

So, as predicted, I sucked. Even worse, I seem to have the power to make perfectly healthy golfers have to withdraw from a major tournament.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

My Masters Picks

I’m so awful at this, the only guy who gives a worse kiss of death than me is Mike Greenberg on ESPN, but it’s still a fun exercise.  The way I make my picks is one player from the Top 10 OWGR, one from the Next 10, one from the Third 10, and one ranked from 31 and above.

RORY McILROY – He’s playing well, and it would be a fantastic story.  Tiger’s a close second.  Webb Simpson is in the Top 10 of the world?  Really?

JASON DAY – Played very well in majors last year.  Has the complete game, and very cool disposition.  Other hot picks in my book are Bubba and Keegan.

BO VAN PELT – Pure ball striker, and longer than people are aware of. 

GARY WOODLAND – Cool and powerful.  Good combination at Augusta. 

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Interesting Masters Groupings

It’s always fun to figure out what kind of logic went into a Major Tournament tee time schedule. The USGA is reknown for their vaguely offensive All-Scandinavian and All-Asian pairings. Most other tournaments take a somewhat less brazen approach.

Here are the groupings I will be paying most attention to:

8:45 AM – Scott, Van Pelt, and Kaymer. Excellent ball strikers and scorers. I’m still waiting for BVP to have that break through season.

9:18 AM – Stanley, Day, Haas. Crazy talents, and extraordinary personalities.

10:13 AM – Woodland, Stenson, Quiros. Closest thing to a 1,000 yard pairing this year. Woods and Alvaro are the kinds of drivers of the ball that can do very well at this course.

10:36 am – Woods, Jimenez, Bae. It will be fun watching Tiger play with the Most Interesting Golfer In The World.

1:42 PM – Cabrera, McIlroy, Watson. One former winner. One former epic loser. One guy who hits the ball further than anyone else.

1:53 PM – Mickelson, Mahan, Hanson. Hunter is playing as well as anyone else this year, and Phil’s had some flashes as well.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

The Old Ping Eye 2 Irons

We’re not the kind of a family who has big fancy things to pass on from generation to generation.  No 19:th century grandfather clock.  No Green Bay Packers season tickets.  No 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang.  No deed to a castle in Romania.  It’s not a cultural statement or anything, and it’s not like we frown on things like this, but it’s just not something we have.

I am glad to report, however, that we do have a set of most excellent iron clubs that are now on their third generation in our family.

In 1983 I had been playing golf for about 4-5 years.  I was 18 years old, and just finishing High School.  I was shooting in the 80s and 90s, and I was already 6ft7 tall.  At this time, golf equipment was extraordinarily expensive in my native country of Sweden.  It only made sense that I pick up some clubs before I headed back.

Given my height the logical choice was Ping, since at this time they were the only manufacturer who made customized sets.  With my measurements, they hooked me up with a set of Green Dot, which is the most upright clubs they made at time, and an inch or two extra on the shaft.  Ping had just started making their second generation clubs, the Ping Eye 2, which were even more massively forgiving than the first iteration.

Remember, this was the early 80s.  Good golfers played blades.  Bad golfers played Ping.  Those were about the only two options available.

These clubs were wonderful.  Easy to hit, powerful, and consistent.  I played them for years and years.  When I shot my best score ever, 78 on a par 73 course, it was with the Ping Eye 2s.  When I dragged a golf bag and two suitcases on a cross-world trip by bus from Kansas to New York, flight to Dortmund, and train through Europe to come home to visit, it was the Ping Eye 2s.  I played them in college.  When I and a buddy of mine played 81 holes in a day, it was with the Ping Eye 2s.

Then, the 90s came around.  I was newly married and raising a young child.  I lived in Chicago, and didn’t really know anyone who played golf.  Consequently, I didn’t play a lot of golf.  My dad had club envy from the time I brought these clubs home, and I decided to let him have a go with them.  HE played them for years.  I’d love to know which of the great courses in Scotland and Ireland he dragged them over to, but I’m certain it was more than a handful of recognizable names.

Eventually he found a new set he couldn’t live without, and returned them to me around 2000.  I had just moved to Dallas, and was playing a bit more frequently.  Starting in 2008 I got back serious about the game, and was still enjoying them.  Shot several rounds in the low 80s.

Eventually, in 2010, I realized technology had come some distance in 27 years, and I replaced them with a set of Ping i15s.  Initially I was going to get the G15s, but the i15s felt a lot more like my old buddies.  I did the math, and realized that if I were to keep my new clubs as long as I had kept my old ones I’d be 72 years old when I went shopping again.  Maybe there are some Ping i85s in my distant future.

So, I stuck them in the garage.  As you can see by the rust coloration, I also had pool chemicals in the garage.  I wasn’t about to get rid of them, but I didn’t think they’d be getting any more real use.

Lo and behold, last fall, my offspring Logan is down visiting.  He’s picking up the game, and needs some new clubs.  I can’t think of any better set for him to learn the game with than my old classics.  A few weeks later they’re in a Fedex box traveling to Chicago.  He’s taking a golf class in college this semester, and I can’t wait to get out to play a round with him.

As I’m thinking about this I can’t help but to have flashbacks to that scene in Pulp Fiction when Christopher Walken is telling the story about the watch to his buddy’s son.  To paraphrase, “And now, little man, I give this uncomfortable chunk of metal to you”.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Ramblings From The Augusta Rough

Sunday evening, 5:08 PM Central Time: The beginning of Masters Week. No offense intended to the Houston Open, but most fans can’t wait for the tournament to finish so we can start talking and thinking about The Masters.

Congrats to my neiborhood golfer Hunter Mahan for his win in Houston. He doesn’t actually live in my neighborhood, but he’s about five miles away from me. Unless there’s someone I dont’ know of, he’s the pro that lives closest to me.

This will be my first year watching The Masters in HD on TV. Can’t wait. For good measure, we just got new theatre seating as well. Getting delivered on Wednesday, just in time.

There are always a lot of stories going into The Masters. I think this year there’s more than ever.

How will Rory play after his epic collapse last year? Since then he’s won a major in impressive fashion, and he’s reached #1 in the world.

What will Tiger do? This course suits him as well as Arnie’s place. Can’t think of anyone I’d pick as a bigger favorite than him.

Will there be another first-time major winner? Luke? Hunter? Lee?

I’m a huge fan of Jason Day’s game and his mental makeup. Played very well in majors last year. Hits it a long ways for a relatively short guy, and he’s unflappable. Probably the best bet to break through for Oz.

First timers to watch: Keegan Bradley, Robert Garrigus, and Kyle Stanley.

More to come. Keep’em in the short stuff.

We have a sighting

Well, dammit, it’s been SIX months since I wrote something.  Let’s see if I can do better than that.  I guess even three posts in a year will be better than what I’ve been doing.

Watching the replay of today’s action from Pebble.  Looks like one of those glorious days out there.  Curious to see how Tiger’s going to do this year.

I’m now also on Facebook, and I’m going to try to link my blog to that account, just for the hell of it.  I’m still on Twitter, but not active by any stretch.  The odd funny comment from the offspring is about all I get there.

Until next time, keep’em in the short stuff.

Ramblings From The PGA Championship Rough

So, two of the most important tournaments of the year are played at Atlanta Athletic Club AND at Eastlake, and it’s two different places?  How do they pull that off?

Could John Hawkins stop talking over everybody else on GolfChannel’s 19:th hole?  He’s particularly full of himself these days, and so very proud of his opinions.  Enough already.

Forget the PGA Championship:  The Red River White Ball Shoot Out III is three weeks out.  THE tournament of the year.  Boomer Sooner.

I’m done trying to predict winners for golf tournaments.  This week I’ll be cheering for Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood, Jason Day, and Anthony Kim.  DJ has to have some major golf karma coming his way, Lee and Jason have been playing as well as anyone this year, and my affection for AK is well documented (and he HAS been playing better).

Phil who?

So a few weeks after Darren Clarke wins the British Open they’re saying that Tiger is “A long way” from competing.  He finished T37 at Firestone, and The Highlands Course provides a lot more ability to recover from errant tee shots.  I expect him to compete, and it won’t surprise me at all if he wins the thing.  How long will they continue ignoring the random element that goes into every golf tournament?

There’s a new golf movie coming out, other than the one based on golf In The Kingdom.  Does anyone know anything about it?

Another major in Georgia.  Must be time to make some peach flavored Martinis.

How is it that Tiger can’t even take the high road on the Stevie Situation without someone in the media pounding on him?

Looks like a mower tore the heck out of one of the greens in Atlanta.  I look forward to seeing these guys putt on the kind of crap I usually play on.

I think the whole idea of “The Chubby Slam” is funny.

That is all.  Keep’em in the short stuff.

 

Reflections on Firestone

There are a couple of impressions that have stuck with from last week’s WGC tournament at Firestone in Ohio. Some of the most talented and colorful players in the game was playing some spectacular golf. One highlight followed the next one. At one point there were six players tied for the lead, and about 15 within a stroke or two of the lead.

Ryo Ishikawa and Rickie Fowler, two of golf’s brightest young stars, were wying for their first PGA Tour victory. Jason Day continued his red-hot play most of the year and Adam Scott was riding Tiger’s old bagman. Talented rookie Keegan Bradley was right in the mix again, as was world #1 Luke Donald.

In the end it was Scott who pulled away on Sunday for an impressive victory.

But, let’s talk about this course for a bit. It’s very highly thought of, and even this week the commentators continued praising the course. I for one just don’t get it.

They say the course is difficult, but the winning score was -17, and thirteen players were at -8 or better.

And to me it’s a very boring course to look at. It looks boring from the blimp, and it looks boring from the towers. Most of the holes are straight and lined with trees on either side. Most of the holes go straight north or south. There’s very little water, and some of what water there is usually has to be navigated with a Sand Wedge in their hand on that boring behemoth of an 16:th hole. There is no sand or water coming across the fairway at any point.

I mean, take a look at it: http://www.courseiq.net/golf-course.aspx?gcid=219

The fairways just sort of lay there like somewhat phallic elongated balloons, waiting for some clown to come around to turn them into a green elephant on a bicycle.

The only thing about the course that came even close to interesting is a couple of holes that have a bunker right in the middle of the front of the green, very similar to the bunker at the Road Hole at St. Andrews. But really, that’s it.

Could someone tell me what I’m missing here?

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Course Review – Winstar GC, Thackerville, OK

The Winstar Golf Course is located right next to the Winstar Casino that’s sitting on Native America territories right off I-35 and just north of the Red River that divides Texas and Oklahoma. Depending on what part of Dallas you’re in it’s one to two hours drive, sitting 67 miles north of DFW airport. It’s about two hours south of Oklahoma City.

The course has 27 holes, with 18 being in play at any given time. The par 72 course was designed by DA Weibring and Steve Wolfard, and with five tees on each holes it can play anywhere from 4,900 to 7,300 yards in length.  The course is owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation.

I played here last weekend for the first time, and I have rarely had such an overwhelmingly positive impression of a course after just one round. All four of us in my usual foursome agreed that everything about this place is just right.

Even in the middle of a drought and three weeks of temperatures in the triple digits both fairways and greens were in great shape. The Mini Verde Bermuda greens in particular were fast but true and consistent.

The course as a whole looked great, and each individual hole was very appealing to the eye on its own. Sometimes accents were created by elaborate bunkering, and at other times the dramatic effects were increased by vegetation. Around the greens you often found a lot of different kinds of lies that challenged all parts of your short game.

The holes were challenging without being overly punitive; and there was a great sense of variety as we worked our way through the course. From the blue tees Par 5 holes range from 530 yards to 597; Par 4s range from 310 to 444, and Par 3s range from 149 to 212 yards. It’s truly a course for all levels of golfers.

The weekend green fees were only $69, and included a cart, range balls and a cooler pre stocked with water. This is a great value for anywhere close to the Dallas area.

There’s a true Golf Academy, and the facilities include a large putting green as well as a short game green.

The people were friendly and they had a great clubhouse that served an absolutely kick-ass Philly Steak-n-Egg sandwich.

Location-wise you’re less than a mile off I-35 and less than a mile from the Winstar Casino, but it’s very quiet in spite if it’s convenience.

In short, I can’t wait to go back.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

The Feherty Show on GC

David Feherty has long ranked right up there as one of the most polarizing personalities in golf commentary, along with McCord, Miller, and Faldo. It seems everyone either loves him or loathes him.

Always candid, honest sometimes to a fault, and oftentimes controversial; there’s no denying that he’s one of the true characters in golf. After a long time working for CBS he’s now joined GolfChannel in a dual role. In addition to his typical tournament commentary he’s also hosting his own 30 minute interview show.

I’ve only seen a couple of the episodes, but I think this show is a forum where he can truly blossom. He can be goofy and funny without appearing irreverent to whichever golfer has the unmitigated gall to try to putt while he’s telling a story. He can share his own life’s story, which is very interesting, while also getting to know his interviewees on a very personal level. The show is edited well, moves at a comfortable pace, and is both insightful and entertaining.

I for one am a fan, and I look forward to every new episode.

Even my wife, who at best can be described as a marginal golf fan, will watch this show with me, and this is more than can be said for anything else on GolfChannel.

Feherty can also be reached on Twitter as @fehertwit.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Enough with the “Game doesn’t suit links golf” already

The guys at the 19:th hole needs to start hitting some of the sponsor’s wares, because they’re stone cold stupid.

Again, talking about Phil, running out the old “His game doesn’t fit links golf” because he hits the high ball.  It’s been heard for decades, and it’s been bullshit for decades.

Newsflash:

  • Jack Nicklaus – High ball hitter – 3 championships.
  • Tom Watson – High ball hitter – 5 championships.
  • Tiger Woods – High ball hitter – 3 championships.

If you’re good you’ll win.  End of story.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

 

 

My British Open Picks – It’s Westwood

My buddy Tony at http://www.thegolfspace.com asks us to pick winners, a dark horse to contend, someone to flame out, and the top three.

For me, that works out to be:

WINNER – Lee Westwood
DARK HORSE – Matteo Mannesaro
FLAMEOUT – Kaymer
TOP 3 – Westwood, Day, Stricker

Westwood has two wins and nothing worse than T14 in his last eight starts. The guy is smoking hot.

For my dark horse I made myself pick someone outside the top 10 in the world ranking. Mannasero has one win and two other Top 10 finishes in his last eight.

For my flameout I decided to pick someone in the top 10. Mickelson is too easy a pick to flame out, his game is in tatters right now. Kaymer is struggling as well.

Look, I picked an American!

Jason Day has seven top nine finishes in his last 14 starts, including runner ups at the Masters and the US Open. He’s primed for a big win.

Strick has two wins and nothing worse than T19 in his last eight starts.

Hot Weather Golf Tip – Wear a Rain Glove

It’s July in Dallas. We’re looking at weeks on end with temps in the hundreds. Other places have wicked humidity along with the heat.

At times like this it becomes increasingly challenging to keep a good grip on a golf club. It’s tough enough to stay hydrated and upright without having to worry about the club slipping out of your hands.

I’ve found that on really hot and humid days your best bet for getting a grip is to wear a rain glove. They’re usually not lined, like the cold weather gloves, but they’re specifically designed for providing grip in wet circumstances. I usually keep them on for putting and everything. If the environment is particularly severe I’ve been known to wear two rain gloves, to help with my right hand grip as well.

Plus, you’ll look like a Bad Ass with the black gloves on.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Who The Heck Is Neil Schietekat?

I watch a fair amount of pro golf, and I read about it both on line and in the printed press, but there still comes times when I run across a name I just don’t know anything at all about. I like to learn, so I google’em, and since you might like to learn as well I thought I’d share a few tidbits about Neil Schietakat, who tees off at 6:10 AM at The Open.

  • Born 1/31/84 in Harrismith, South Africa.
  • Has participated in the Africa swing of the European Tour for the past four years.
  • Best finish this year was 2:nd place in the Telkom PGA Championship on the African Tour.
  • Ranked 452 in the Offical World Golf Ranking.
  • Qualified for The Open by way of a qualifying tournament in South Africa in January.
  • Nicknamed “Skietie”.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

“Morgongymnastik” – Morning Exercises

The idea of a morning exercise program has been around about as long as there has been physical exercise. The benefits include getting your heart going a bit, getting more oxygen to the brain, and to stretch out the muscles that may have tightened up overnight.

Growing up in Sweden the term that was used was “Morgongymnastik”, and that’s still how I think about it. An Olympic medalist named Bertil Uggla had a daily radio show from 1929 to 1945 where he would walk his listeners through a fairly fundamental series of exercises, and it’s still a term that’s in use today.

Today it’s still common practice for large crowds to gather in squares throughout Asia to perform a morning program that borrows from martial arts, tai chi, and Pilates. The Sun Salutation that’s part of many Yoga routines is another example of a way to start your day.

Well, I have started doing something alone these lines over the past year or so, and I have to say that the benefits have been significant and tangible, and a big part of my improvement as a golfer. I highly recommend you incorporate something like this into your exercise routine wherever possible.

What I do takes only about 15 minutes, doesn’t require any equipment or special clothing, and I usually don’t even really break a sweat. My routine is a combination of stretching and flexibility exercises that works every part of my body. My focus is on back strength and flexibility, and I also focus on countering the tightness that builds up in my legs because I sit all day (back of thighs, front of hips). I use some things I learned doing Physical Therapy after my back surgery a few years ago, a few yoga and Pilates movements, and a couple of things I came up with myself. I won’t list them in detail because what would benefit you may be completely different from what’s working for me.

I have noticed several tangible benefits as a result of this program. They may not be much, depending on your age and how your health is, but they are very real to me:

Leg Cramps – My hamstring would cramp up fairly regularly, sometimes after as small of a thing as rolling over in bed. When I do my stretches regularly it almost never happen anymore.

Back health – It’s one of those things you take for granted but if you’ve ever gone through a period in your life when your back was weak or in pain, as I have, then you will definitely appreciate this one. It’s currently no problem for me to just bend down, pick something up off the floor, and get back up again. I don’t have to position myself a certain way. I don’t have to put a hand on a chair. I don’t have to get down on one knee.

Sudden Impacts – I used to have to brace myself whenever I would cough, sneeze, or ride my golf cart over a bump. If I didn’t, my back would be in pain. Now, I don’t have to worry about these things at all (from a back point of view, anyway).

Posture – I’m much better able to maintain a correct posture when I sit, rather than slumping and letting gravity have its way with me.

Weight – When I do my exercises regularly I find that it’s a lot easier for me to maintain my weight, or even to lose weight. Using the whole body is key to this, and I also think that doing something like this in the morning increases your metabolism all day long.

More Golf – Doing these exercises is key for me being able to play and practice golf without pain and injury. No matter how early my tee time is, I get up early enough to run through a quick program before I head out the door.

Better Golf – Flexibility, balance, and core strength. They are key elements of a golfer’s fitness, and they are all improved as a result of my “Morgongymnastik”.

Your program may be fundamentally different from mine. Be careful and be sensible. But I highly recommend you do SOMETHING.

Keep’em in the short stuff.