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June 24, 2004
Volume III, Issue 7
 
Fringe Clippings
 
Suck it up guys....
 
The complaining at the Shinnecock Hills U.S. Open venue was embarrassing. Professional golfers whining about unfair course conditions. Sure, putts were rolling off greens and balls were bouncing into the rough. Doubles, triples. Frustration. Welcome to my world, fellas. That's what we mortals endure every time we step out onto the local muni course. You just had to do it in front of millions of television viewers.
 
Nobody broke par, sounds familiar to me....
 
The Shinnecock Hills setup was admittedly harsh. Slick greens and wind led to high scores on the weekend. Nobody broke par during the final round, a first at the U.S. Open since 1963. The scoring average was the highest since 1972. So what? That's what the U.S. Open is all about. It is not just a test of skill, but endurance. If you lose your cool, you'll lose the tournament. Retief Goosen, the winner, wasn't complaining.
 
New driver found for University of Utah golf team, not...
 
Former Masters champion Craig Stadler was charged with driving under the influence. He pleaded no contest and apologized profusely. Stadler was in Michigan to promote the Ford Senior Players Championship, where Stadler captured his first Champions Tour victory last year. Stadler appeared genuinely embarrassed, and that's a good thing.
 
Careful, boys, she's gaining ground....
 
Michelle Wie did it again. The 14-year-old prodigy failed to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Public Links by a single stroke. In the process, she beat 67 guys. Wie barely missed making the cut at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in January. She finished fourth at the Kraft Nabisco, an LPGA major. Next week it's on to the U.S. Women's Open. The Masters gives an invitation to the winner of the Pub-Links. She didn't make it this time. But you get the feeling she is locked on and tracking.
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
Using that noggin
 
Herculean efforts to launch the dimpled orbs to stratospheric lengths have, without question, cost many golfers strokes. It is quite apparent that many "well equipped" players have not taken notice of what it really takes to improve their game. Even cruise missiles would be practically worthless with out some guidance system technology and at least an understanding of range. With that in mind, pinpointing the target and successfully executing a strategy will enhance anyone's ability to secure that elusive Flight Championship.
  1. Identify club consistencies: By realizing what our good and bad golf clubs are, we can limit the amount of mistakes made. Golf club consistencies include knowing the clubs we can and can't hit well and knowing approximately how far we hit each club. For those suffering from the inconsistent consistencies disease, glass blowing classes are available at your local Community College.

  2. Picking your spots: After identifying your consistencies and knowing your club distance range you have empowered yourself to choose your best shots that you should use on any given hole. (I realize this assumes a lot, but let's go with it). If two of the most consistent clubs in your bag are your wedge and 7 iron and you hit the wedge 80 yards and the 7 iron 150 yards, then try to leave yourself — when possible — either 80 or 150 yards to the pin! Makes sense doesn't it?

  3. Full swing advantage: Pros play golf for a living. We play golf to get away from our living. The difference in time spent practicing touch shots and accuracy is a chasm unmatched by even the deepest erosions on earth. Always check your yardages and always try to play for full shots. By allowing yourself to take a full swing, you are taking the guesswork out of adjustments needed for partial swing shots. If you know you are going to have to lay-up on any given hole, leave your lay-up shot at a full swing distance. (Reference point 2 again)

  4. Putt for two: It is not always possible to know the contours of a green, but when it is you should take the time to know what is uphill on the green, and what is downhill on the green. This will save you from too many downhill putts. And never, ever, leave a downhill putt short! There is no more sure way to find bogey than a 3 foot downhill-greasy-fast putt that leaves your nerves thinking they would rather be facing a Randy Johnson fast ball
There is no single way to reduce one's handicap. However, with the strongest instrument you possess (cerebral reference) you can begin to manipulate the golf course rather than the golf course manipulating you. If you really are looking for some improvement, spend some time on the range and not in front of the propaganda box stuck on the entertainment center at home. The practice range will develop confidence in your ability to master the aforementioned.

As always, good luck and keep it in the short grass!
 
 
Reading the Line
 
He's No. 1... and I'm a rocket scientist...
 
Tiger Woods keeps saying he is close. To what, nobody is sure. He certainly isn't close to the player who dominated golf for so long. He didn't come close to winning the U.S. Open, nor did he come close to winning the Masters. He didn't come close to winning last year's PGA Championship, either. He's gone eight majors without a victory, and was only in contention in two of them. He's won a single tournament this year, while Vijay Singh has won three, Phil Mickelson two, Ernie Els two and Sergio Garcia two. And he's still No. 1? The world ranking says so, but I don't think so. He's certainly not No. 1 over the past 12 months. You could argue for Singh or Els. You could even argue for Mickelson, who is probably playing the best golf of anyone, despite his heartbreaking Open loss. But Tiger? He's still the game's greatest asset, just not on top of the game — or his — at the moment. Potential, you betcha. But No. 1, give me a break.
 
You say Martha, I say Maatha, and some say...
 
The Masters Tournament announced it was giving $3.2-million to charity, proceeds from the 2004 tournament. Pretty impressive recognizing the tournament went without sponsors for the second year in a row in response to Martha Burk's campaign to force the club to admit female members. Seems like the guys at Augusta National are doing just fine, thanks. And TV viewers got to watch with no commercials. What a deal! In the past seven years, Augusta National has given $22.2-million to charity. This year, $1-million is going to the First Tee, which seeks to introduce the game to all. The Tiger Woods Foundation, which helps boys and girls, is also getting a donation. Perhaps Ms. Burk might consisder putting her efforts toward getting young girls introduced to golf, instead of trying to put rich women in a 300-member private club.
 
I think I really like Spencer...
 
Standing on the 17th tee during the first round of the U.S. Open, amateur Spencer Levin was annoyed when told the horn would be sounding to stop play due to weather. Levin wanted to hit, but the official told him not to. Levin complained. Then complained some more. Finally, the horn sounded, and Levin huffed and puffed back to the clubhouse. When heading back out after the weather delay, Levin was still complaining. Then he proceeded to knock his tee shot in the cup for an ace! Levin, 20, from Sacramento, had boasted before the tournament that he would beat Tiger Woods. And he did. "That wasn't my goal,'' Levin said after tying for 13th. "That was a joke.'' Levin finished 8 over, was the low amateur, and by finishing among the top 15, earned a trip back to next year's U.S. Open at Pinehurst. He also finished two strokes better than Woods. "I know Tiger didn't have his game,'' Levin said. "But that's pretty cool.'' Levin left Long Island to play in the California State Amateur Golf Championship at Pebble Beach.
 
 
 

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