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March 17, 2005
Volume IV, Issue 4
Fringe Clippings
Looks good from the couch, but...
La Costa, the site of the Match Play Championship in six of its seven years of existence, is a head-scratcher for many of the top players. It has gotten to the point where Ernie Els has not played in the tournament the past two years because he dislikes the course. Many have suggested a change, including Australia's Robert Allenby, who did not sugar coat his thoughts. "(La Costa) is probably the worst course we play on tour,'' Allenby said. "I hate it. I've never seen it in good condition. You could move (the tournament) but I don't think that's going to happen, because I think the main sponsor likes it here.'' The tournament is committed to La Costa through 2006, although the PGA Tour and title sponsor Accenture have not committed to the venue beyond next year.
From the boys who gave you the Pinto...
When he won the Ford Championship at Doral last year in dramatic fashion by holing a shot for an eagle at the 18th hole during a sudden-death playoff with Scott Verplank, Craig Parry got a nice perk in addition to the prize money: a Ford GT sports car, worth approximately $140,000. Parry, an Australian who lives in Orlando, has not gotten to drive the car that he calls "unbelievable'' very often because of a recall caused by a suspension control problem. "They're in the process of fixing it,'' he said. "I was going to drive it (to the tournament)."
I drive Buicks, don't you know...
Ford gave away a car to this year's Doral winner, but because Tiger Woods has a big endorsement contract with Buick, it created an awkward situation. No worries. Tiger gave the keys to his caddie, Steve Williams.
Well done, mate...
Hale Irwin's Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am victory was his 42nd Champions Tour victory overall and his 16th since turning 55. That's the age when senior golfers are supposed to have one foot in the grave and another on a bloomin' onion ... opps, I mean banana peel. But Irwin has defied such logic. Nearing his 60th birthday, he hardly appears to be slowing down. Irwin's 16 wins since turning 55 would rank 15th on the all-time list were those his only wins. With 42 wins, he leads by a big margin overall. Lee Trevino is second with 29 victories.
Keeping them alive, or keeping them frisky?
The steroids craze that has enveloped sports, particularly baseball, has not found its way to golf. Yes, golfers of this era appear to be in better condition than previous eras, they work out, eat right and appear to take better care of themselves, with a few notable exceptions. But let's face it, most golfers are not anywhere near the athletic specimens seen in other sports. And it is even more apparent on the Champions Tour, where the 50-and-older players are enjoying a second career. Fuzzy Zoeller said his companions have other problems. "I haven't seen anybody's hat size increase by three sizes," he said. "There's a lot of guys out here that would fail a drug test, but those drugs are only keeping them alive."
Paralysis by Analysis
Using that noggin
Herculean efforts to launch the dimpled orbs to stratospheric lengths have, with out 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
Tragedy strikes one of golf's finest gentlemen, and his family...
Over the years, Jack Nicklaus' steely demeanor has softened with age and a growing family. His five children produced 17 grandchildren, and the Golden Bear took steps to alleviate health issues not so much because of his golf game but because of his quality of life. Nicklaus wanted to spend as much time as possible with family.

Now, the Nicklauses are enduring an unimaginable tragedy, the death by drowning of 17-month-old Jake Nicklaus. He was the son of Jack's second oldest, Steve, and he died March 1 after accidentally slipping into a hot tub. Understandably, golf is not a priority for Nicklaus at the moment and next month's Masters is quite possibly off his schedule.

"I was actually planning on going to Augusta last week and this week," Nicklaus said. "Not being able to do that, I'd say my chances of playing Augusta (the Masters) are probably slim and none because I'm certainly not going to play any golf between now and then. I'm going to spend my time with Steve and Krista. I think that's more important than golf."

Nicklaus, who won a record 18 professional major championships and 73 PGA Tour titles, played in 40 straight Masters from 1959 through 1998 and has played in 44 of the last 46. As a professional, he played in a remarkable 146 major championships in a row. That streak was a testament to Nicklaus' ability and health, along with the good fortune enjoyed by his family.

Now he wants to spend time with his second-oldest, Steve, whose wife is expecting another child in August. Nicklaus left the door open for a Masters appearance and suggested that playing in a final British Open -- with Steve as his caddie -- is a bigger goal.

"My time is going to be spent in much different ways," he said. "That's the most important thing right now. And I think it will be the most important thing for a long time."
It's shaping up as a very good year...
Skills were on full display at the Ford Championship at Doral, where Woods stormed past Mickelson during the final round to claim the title. It was a final-day showdown with two of the game's biggest draws in what was a raucous setting. And yet, there was virtual silence among them.

Woods, who shot a final-round 66 and won for the 42nd time on the PGA Tour, refused to get caught up in the hype. He moved to No. 1 in the world and deftly dodged questions about fourth-ranked Mickelson, their uneasy relationship, and their ill-fated pairing at last fall's Ryder Cup.

It was just the third time the two had been paired together in the final round of a tournament, and Woods ran his record against Mickelson to 3-0. But it wasn't easy. Mickelson rebounded from a Woods eagle to make two birdies, and wasn't put away until an 18th-hole birdie chip lipped out. Compelling stuff.

Let's hope the battle continues at the Masters.
Buy low, sell high and other obvious money makers...
Joe Ogilvie, 30, is a sixth-year PGA Tour player still in search of his first PGA Tour victory. In addition to golf, Ogilvie loves the stock market. In fact, he spends a couple of hours a day making on-line trades and studying. And he is friends with investment guru Warren Buffet. "We e-mail every now and again, talk a couple times a year, but we don't talk about stocks really," Ogilvie said. Asked what kind of financial advice he had received from Buffet, Ogilvie said: "He told me the best way to make returns is to shoot four straight 65s."

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