June 12, 2005
Volume IV, Issue 9
Them country boys got game...
Congratulations to The Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia won the Division I Men's NCAA Championship golf title June 4. Colleges that did not make the top 15 cut included Wake Forest (16th), Stanford (18th) and UCLA (30th). However, three others in the top 15 included Georgia Tech (2nd) and both Georgia State and Georgia Southern who tied for 13th. Like I said, them country boys got game. Moon pies and Mountain Dew and perhaps some grits may soon become the new staple at golf training tables nationwide.
What's in your bag?
Mike Reid had dropped off the radar screen. He had not won on the PGA Tour since 1988. But then, he turned 50 last year and entered a smattering of Champions Tour events. Never flashy, always down the middle, Reid shot four consecutive 70s and won the Senior PGA Championship on May 29th in a playoff over Jerry Pate and Dana Quigley. And he did it using the clubs he could have been using last century when he was still on the PGA Tour. Reid uses a Titleist J driver, which has not been manufactured for eight years. His 3-wood is from the TaylorMade 200 series, which went out of production four years ago. He carries a 4-wood and a 5-wood with railers, which is akin to having an 8-track cassette player in the car. "They sort of don't make them anymore,'' Reid said. "That should tell me something. .. . Even though it's a dinosaur collection, and it might look better in a wax museum, that's my game.'' Maybe what it says is technology is not everything.
Beating out squash might be tough...
If golf becomes an Olympic sport and London is awarded the 2012 Games, then the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, would love to be part of it, according to the Scotsman newspaper. "Where better to hold it than at the home of golf, St. Andrews?'' said Allen McGregor, the general manager of the St. Andrews Links Trust, in a letter to the British Olympic Association. In order for golf to be added to the games, an existing sport must be dropped. Golf will have to contend against existing Olympic sports such as karate, badminton, table tennis (aka ping pong) and squash to be included. The International Olympic Committee will meet in Singapore next month to decide if there will be any changes.
If it itches, scratch it...
The CBS analysts said nothing about it, but there was obviously something wrong when David Toms three-putted the ninth green during the final round of the Memorial. Before tapping in his third putt, Toms glared into the gallery. Then after knocking the putt in, the camera caught Toms looking back into the gallery, and then making as if he were scratching his nose -- with his middle finger. Toms later became agitated when he was questioned about what a reporter took to be an obscene gesture. Toms said after missing his second putt, a Fred Couples fan clapped and yelled, "Go Freddy.'' Toms, who was paired with Couples said, "Any time you miss a putt and somebody claps, that's uncalled for ... they were obviously pulling for Freddy, and that's fine. Don't take it out on me. Pull for him -- don't pull against me. I'm here supporting the tournament. I think that's pretty bush league, if you ask me.'' We agree! Heckling is a part of baseball and many other sports, but it has no place in golf.
All we are saying is give the other ladies a chance...
With her victory at the ShopRite Classic, Annika Sorenstam had won five of seven starts this year on the LPGA Tour for a total of 61 career LPGA titles. She has not gone more than two tournaments without a victory since last August and has 18 victories in her last 37 starts. Next up is the McDonald's LPGA Championship, where Sorenstam hopes to win the second leg of the Grand Slam. She already captured the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year.
Yumpin Yiminy, watch out for the other ladies...
Jimin Kang, 25, can say she has accomplished something that not even Sorenstam has done. Kang shot an 8-under-par 27 on the back nine of the Bay Course at Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa during the final round of the ShopRite Classic, setting the all-time LPGA nine-hole mark. She had six birdies and an eagle. It was the lowest nine-hole score since the tour was founded in 1950, breaking the record of 28 held by 10 players. "All I know is that the putts just kept rolling in,'' Kang said. "All I could think of after the 18th was, "Oh, no, I'm out of holes!'' Kang finished with a 62 and she tied for sixth, a week after winning her first tournament at the Corning Classic, where she made a hole in one on her way to victory.
Using that noggin
Herculean efforts to launch a golf ball to stratospheric lengths have, with out question, cost many golfers strokes. It is quite apparent that many 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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)
- 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.
As always, good luck and keep it in the short grass!
What could have been...
We will always be left to wonder just how good Fred Couples could have been, just how many more tournaments he might have won. In coming up one-shot short at the Memorial Tournament, Couples, 45, again reminded us what once made him the No. 1 player in the world. He has a smooth, effortless swing that still produces power. He hits crisp iron shots. But the Memorial was Couples' first tournament since the Masters. A decade-old back problem keeps him from practicing often. He shows up at venues he likes, and Muirfield Village in Ohio seemed to spark the Couples of old rather than the old Couples.
Putting in so little time, however, often catches up to even the greatest players, and Couples was unable to overcome a few shaky putts and chips in the final round that cost him victory. Watching Couples at the Memorial made it hard to believe he has just three victories in the past nine years and only one since 1998. Couples has 15 PGA Tour titles and his lone major came at the 1992 Masters.
How many more could it have been? Couples had 10 PGA Tour titles and his Masters victory by early 1994 when he was leading at Doral heading into the final round. But Couples injured his back while warming up and had to withdraw. He was forced to miss three months that year due to a tear in a disc in his lower back. And although Couples returned later that season to win again, he has never been the same. Back problems have forced him away on numerous occasions. At the Masters, he started wearing a back brace.
Just four victories in 10 years does not seem right. And that was very apparent at the Memorial.
No one to blame but himself...
Jerry Pate seemed stunned that his caddie would suggest laying up. So stunned, in fact, that Pate went ahead and did it. The decision later looked bad when Pate failed to make the par-5 he needed at the final hole of the Senior PGA Championship, which he then lost in a playoff. But the fact remains that a pro golfer should be able to get the ball in the hole in three shots from 100 yards. Pate knocked his shot on the green, then three-putted, costing him his first victory in 23 years.
Sitting in the fairway, Pate could have clinched the tournament by knocking a 5-iron second shot on the green. Even if he three-putted, he'd still win. Mike Reid's eagle putt would not have mattered.
But Pate, at the urging of caddie Chris Frame, laid up. They didn't seem to discuss it long, and NBC-TV's microphones overheard the conversation. "All you need is a 5 and you win,'' Frame said. Sound strategy, actually. Why even mess with the water?
NBC's Johnny Miller questioned the move, as did Arnold Palmer after the fact. Easy to do after he just three-putted to fall into a playoff. And yet, had Pate executed a 100-yard wedge shot and the subsequent two putts from 20 feet, there is no debate. "That was where I lost the tournament, that wedge shot,'' Pate told reporters afterward. "And I'm a good wedge player. But I just overplayed it. . . Not making par with a wedge? C'mon.''