Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year from GolfDash!

Can you believe it? Another year almost over.

We are proud of our reputation as THE most reliable, unbiased and impartial resource for finding QUALITY golf information - and it's only going to get better.

Stay tuned - we have many new and innovative programs on the agenda for 2007.

We can't wait to get started.

Here's wishing you and your's a happy and prosperous New Year!


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays from GolfDash!

Happy Holidays!

This holiday season we hope you can take off work for a few days and spend the time with friends and family.

Relax, turn off the computer, and enjoy the season and all its meaning.

Best wishes for a joyful holiday,

Doug Farrick
John Diekmann

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

YOUR Dream course

I am curious to know what dream courses you would like to play and why. They can be anywhere in the world. Personally, I would love to play Royal Dornoch in Scotland. I have been to Scotland a few times but never had a chance to play golf there.

Royal Dornoch sort of epitomizes what golf is all about for me – the scruffy, natural sea-side links style course, the challenging venue, the beauty of Scotland and the magical quality of the game.

One of these days soon...

Royal Dornoch Golf Club

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mike Pedersen Golf Stretching DVD

Mike Pedersen's new DVD, "Golf Stretching for a Better Swing" is a stretching program I highly recommend.

I am not really sure how many golfers actually incorporate stretching into their golfing regimes. I would guess not many - let's face it, stretching takes work, especially if you have not done it in some time (or at all)

I believe stretching to be vitally important to your golf swing. Personally, I stretch at least 4-5 times per week and I have for some time. It helps me to feel more fluid and relaxed. I would also suspect it is more important the older you get. But beyond golf it (like Yoga) has been documented to be an important stress reliever - so keep in mind the stretches on Mike's DVD are valuable to your TOTAL well being (not just golf)

The nice thing about Mike's DVD is that it is very clear. He goes through the various stretching sequences very slow and speaks clearly. The exercises cover the entire body. Although ALL the exercises are beneficial to golf, Mike also adds some *bonus* ultra-spefic golf stretches. I have been stretching/doing yoga for some time and found these *secret bonus* exercises to be worth the entire cost of the DVD.

This is a DVD that you will view on a regular basis. I would recommend viewing the DVD once, get to know some of the sequences and pick out a few stretches (upper/lower body) and start there. Start with only 10-15 minutes. Then review the tape again in say a week or so and pick up another exercise or two. Soon you will have a routine that works for you and you will be addicted to feeling great.

Get the DVD for you (or give as a gift!) here: Golf Stretching for a Better Swing

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tiger Woods In Dubailand

Guess what Middle East season opening golf tournament Tiger will be playing in for probably the next 20 years. Does Dubai ring a bell?

Some writers have taken issue with Tiger's new course design company, theorizing that being a great golfer doesn't make one a great golf architect. If you're a reader of this blog, then you know I immediately took the other side of the argument. I have hopes that Tiger will not only do course design right, but might even be the guy to take it back to it's golden age by using many of the same principles as the classic early 20th century architects such as Alister MacKenzie.

Last week's announcement that Tiger's company's first project will be a 7700 yard course in Dubailand has me wondering if I'm not sadly mistaken. I don't have anything against Dubai. If you're in real estate development it is THE place to be. They mint money faster than they can spend it and are intent on converting their entire desert country into an oasis that will surely be one of the new 7 wonders.

Imagine being a young designer and your first project is the Taj Mahal of golf. This place will be Disneyland, Augusta National and Marina del Rey rolled into one. The resort will be called Al Ruwaya and come complete with VIP suites, luxury villas, mansions and plenty of swanky retail space.

I know there's more to a course than length, but at 7700 yards what are they thinking? If you've seen some of the other stuff being built in Dubailand, then it's not hard to imagine them demanding their signature course to be the longest in the world. And who's Tiger to say no when there's enormous money on the table even by his standards. Unfortunately, sometimes your first attempt sets the stage for what is to follow.

Most courses are too long for the average golfer already. Length is the key factor in slowing play, with 5+ hour weekend rounds all too common nowadays. 7700 yards may be fine for Ernie, VJ and Freddie, but the rest of us shouldn't be playing this length unless we have the course to ourselves. Golf needs to become easier, more enjoyable and take less time if it's going to grow as a sport. A 7700 yard Disneyland course built on the Tower of Babylon is not the way to get there. I can see it now - 'new Nicklaus course to be 7800 yards', 'Robert Trent Jones layout rumored to be 8000 yards', 'Faldo designs 8500 yard monster'. You get my drift.

The course is also rumored to have dramatic elevation changes. Usually this means no walking unless you're in training to solo Everest, which to me is 180 degrees from what golf is about. I had the great good fortune to play Bandon Dunes in Oregon recently where you have to walk unless you've got a letter from your mother. What a joy. It's not that I'm ever going to be in a position to play any course in Dubai mind you, but I can't get away from the feeling that this course is somehow going to set the theme for Tiger's future courses. Please say it ain't so Tiger.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

TaylorMade Marketing

Have you tried the new TaylorMade TP ball? You realize what marketing is all about when you read the descriptions of both balls on this page:

TaylorMade TP

TP Red: Tour Launched. Increased distance.

TP Black: Higher launch. Increased carry.

OK, clear now?

I then went to the specs page only to find out the TP Red is slightly larger than the TP Black. But the lingo only gets more confusing when terms like, "multi-blend ionomer mantle," "tour-caliber launch angle,""Advanced 322 PDP (pentangular di-pyramid) are used.

I do get the stamp on the seam (for alignment) and that it is available here in the USA and Canada but the rest...

Well, maybe that's the point.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Natalie Gulbis 2007 Calendar

I must admit Natalie Gulbis is very easy on the eyes. There IS something nice about a young, fit, beautiful LPGA player. The clothes, the styling, the game - it does make me watch the LPGA Tour more often and which was not always the case (even though I have always enjoyed the seeming effortlessness of the ladies swings)

Her NEW 2007 calendar is available now (and it sure beats looking at calendar pics of golf courses)

“I am very excited about the 2007 edition as I believe it is a reflection of my personality,” said Gulbis. “Each month captures a snapshot of my daily life that extends beyond the golf course.”

Get your calendar at

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Scotty Cameron putter goes custom

Now is the time of year to re-assess your clubs - what is working, what is not working. You might even want to give your favorite Scotty Cameron putter a little custom restoration so you can keep sinking those birdie putts.

Cameron now offers a program that can add custom options to your Scotty Cameron putter. Scotty’s Custom Shop is located inside the Putter Studio and is staffed with the same crew that works on the putters of the best players in the world everyday.

If you have always loved the shape of the Newport head, but felt it needed a sight line to put it in play, send it to Scotty. If you desire a non-glare, rust free finish on your carbon putter, send it to Scotty. Maybe you just want to add your initials on your putter to make it your own, send it to Scotty. Whether you want to personalize your favorite Cameron with a new grip and headcover or be more creative, Scotty’s Custom Shop is the choice.

check out the: Custom Shop Options

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tiger Woods Design

If you follow golf news, then you know that Tiger Woods has just announced he is forming a golf course design company. Some people, like Dave Marrandette at WorldGolf have already passed judgment that he'll do a lousy job. Why? because his courses will be too expensive and too hard for the average golfer.

I beg to differ Mr. Marrandette. You give us no real facts that support your judgment. I guess you just have a 'thing' about Tiger. First, the man has earned the right to try his hand at course design. He's got the money and he has played as many courses around the world as anyone. He knows the game of golf. So far, nothing in the facts to indicate he won't do a great job designing.

What's more important is that Tiger has a respect for the game. It's rare for reporters to ask him about the game in general, but when they do he displays his love for it and an appreciation of what it means for hacks like us. He's also a guy who thinks for himself. I can't believe any other pro out there would have made his first swing change, let alone the second, if they'd had his success. Tiger is a learner!

If you caught the announcement that Tiger is going to work with Brad Faxon on the redesign of the TPC of Boston you got, perhaps, an inkling of where he might go as a designer. They are going to SHORTEN the course. Yes, that's not a misprint, they are shortening the TPC of Boston.

A student of the game like Tiger has probably read Alister Mackenzie's classic 'Golf Architecture'. This is the man who designed Augusta with Bobby Jones, Cyprus Point and numerous classics. He believed that a great course could be enjoyed by the amateur and pro alike and was in fact a requirement. The Old Course at St. Andrews is a perfect example.

Golf course design in the U.S. is in serious need of new thinking and new blood. Tiger hasn't shown his hand yet in how his new company will proceed, but let's give the guy a chance. He may be the breath of fresh air we've been looking for.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Scot Duke Interview On His New Book - "How to Play Business Golf"

We're a big fan of Scot Duke and his company Innovative Business Golf. Scot has just released a book about this very subject called, "How to Play Business Golf"

If you think you know all there is to know about Business Golf we HIGHLY recommend you read his book. It is not only entertaining but very insightful on this often misunderstood relationship.

Scot was kind enough to let us ask him a few questions about his new book. We hope you enjoy it. When you are finished please head to the link at the end of this post to get a copy.

1. How do you define Business Golf?

Most of the time golf is used as a casual outing and as predominantly a sales tool. I define Business golf as being a purposeful golf outing where business is conducted. Business Golf is more a business tool. Not a six hour sales pitch.

2. What are a few of the most valuable points I can receive by reading your book?

The three things each person who reads the book, hears my speech or attends the seminar/workshop will leave with:

1. A complete awareness and understanding of the importance for the need to develop solid business relationships,
2. Learning why businesses need to quit using golf as a sales tool and how to use it as a business tool
3. And understand why businesses need to stop treating a large percentage of their customer, employee and vendor base as being disposable.

The product of all of this is long lasting business relationships that will take a business long into the future…

3. How can one use Business Golf to their advantage?

Like a marketing tool, or a promotional tool, Business Golf is a Business tool that if used correctly will produce sales, develop positive imagery and solid business relationships.

4. Why is the "environment" of golf important?

Business Golf is played outdoors and provides a healthy alternative to a sit-down business meeting. Business Golf is played at upscale facilities that produce a positive atmosphere for successful business development.

5. What is the biggest misconception about Business Golf?

There are a few. The most popular is most business people thinking golf is just a sales tool. A six hour sales pitch. An opportunity to hold hostage a person for more than the 15 minutes usually allowed someone to pitch a deal. Other misconceptions are related to non-golfers not understanding what golf is all about; what golf can develop and how it can improve a business’ bottomline. Business Golf is not a frilly attempt to contrive a reason to organize a golf outing.

6. Can you share a memorable Business Golf story from your experience?

One of my most memorable experiences had to do with a round of golf I witnessed in Las Vegas that exemplified how most business people are trying to wrongly use golf. This particular round of golf had a very rough ending and serves as a story I tell people on what happened to this one individual who went ahead and tried to close a deal on the golf course.

A gentleman in front of my group was entertaining three guests for a round of golf at one of the best golf courses in Las Vegas.

What I witnessed for three holes was this gentleman in front of us suddenly pulling out charts and graphs and laying them out on his golf cart seat for his guests to look at. Not only did his actions slow up play it was annoying his guests who came to play golf.

When my group got to the clubhouse after the first none holes I got to witness what takes place when someone comes to a golf course to other things other than play golf.

There seemly was some sort of altercation between the gentleman and the management of the golf course and all of the sudden six very large caddies escorted him to the parking lot and the three other guys continued on to play.

After we finished our round I ran into the three guys who were in front of us and asked about what was taking place with the little man getting kicked off the course, Embarrassed, they told me the story of what happened.

What took place was the little man invited these three gentlemen to meet him in Las Vegas to meet over a contract deal. The dinner meeting was scheduled for later that evening.

On the second hole the gentleman received a call on his cellphone from his boss instructing him to close the deal on the course and catch the next plane to the office to clear up a mess they were in.

So the gentleman politely told his guest that dinner was off and he wanted to talk about the contract while they played. His guests refused and said they were invited to play golf and that was what they came to do. They offered to reschedule the dinner for another time...the gentlemen arrogantly pursued pitching the deal. When the group made the turn they asked the club manager if they could help with the situation since they paid a lot of money to play golf and did not want this gentleman bothering them anymore.

What took place when my group pulled up to the clubhouse after nine was we got to watch as this gentleman gets into an altercation with the manager and was asked to leave. When he refused he was escorted off the property.

This experience really confirms what I am talking about on how using golf as a sales tool just will not work, but is being used this way everyday.

Buy How To Play Business Golf Today!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Correct Sight - How to Hit Dead-Solid Shots!

One of the big issues in golf is movement, especially when your movement is vertical movement, such as "dipping" which changes your spine angle during the swing causing all sorts of nasty things to happen

In light of this issue we wanted to introduce the Correct Sight golf training aid (the first release from the noted company, Correct Set-Up Golf) . It is simple, effective and most importantly affordable. By correcting excessive body/head movement and increasing focus on the golf ball during swinging, putting and chipping, the Correct Sight can really make a marked improvement in your golf game.

Many people might think it looks funny when you attach this gizmo to your cap or visor but don't be fooled - it is most often the simplest golf aids that work best.

Some of the benefits you might expect from this PGA Tour Partners "Member Tested" seal of approval product are:

• flush, dead-solid golf ball striking
• consistent chipping and distance control
• less "fat" and "thinned" golf shots
• a "quiet" and repeatable putting stroke
• extremely lightweight, portable and easily fits in any normal golf bag pocket

This may seem like a tall tale for such a simple device but we ask you to put it to the test and see for yourself how a little practice with this exceptional golf aid will be well worth the effort when you begin to hit dead-solid shots, gaining power, distance and accuracy.

Personally, after an exceptionally lousy round, I grabbed the Correct Sight and headed out to my local "more dirt than grass" driving range. I am not that bad of a player carrying an 13 handicap but kept hitting the ball "fat" and taking huge divots - driving me nuts! After cooling down I thought intuitively that keeping more "still" might help. And, of course, with the focus and help from the Correct Sight I was back to hitting the ball decently flush (for me anyway!) I have not had the chance to card another round but will report back when I do.

Do yourself a favor and head on over to Correct Set-Up Golf (listed below) to order online or by calling 800 972-0065

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Secret to Hitting Good Shots

Hitting a good golf shot is one of the thrills of playing the game. Unfortunately (for most of us anyways) it is very fleeting. But there ARE moments when I at least catch a glimpse - so reading this observation below by Johnny Miller made me think of how I can recall those good feelings kinesthetically of a well struck golf shot. For me it is always the feeling of not trying to hit a good shot but of letting a good shot happen. Of course it is somewhat counterintuitive but if you can do it once why can you not do it again? More and more I am convinced it is all in the mind. Take a read below and let me know what you think.

"Everyone has expectations that every shot will be great. The secret to hitting good shots is to stand over the ball saying, “I can’t wait to hit this shot. It’s going to be fun.” Think back to a situation in the past when you hit a similar shot well. If you don’t hit a good shot, know that even the pros don’t hit that many perfect shots. And when you do hit it good, don’t say, “It’s about time.” Instead say, “That was awesome.” Notice the sound that it makes when you hit it flush, the beautiful flight, how it goes up against the clouds and lands softly on the green, where your body was, your weight distribution and your finish. Then press “enter” in your mind and try to suck up all the data and feeling you had. So when you get that shot again, you can remember what you did. Unfortunately, in golf, most people have a bank of bad memories and the good ones they just say, “Well, that’s what I should have done.” If you want to know how to play golf, go watch Gary Player and see how everything is positive and he only remembers the good shots. The negative guys leave the tour early."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Difference Between Pros and Amateurs

Our bank accounts and the size of our homes, right? And let's not forget the 100 foot yacht versus my plastic tubby toy. There are lots of differences to be sure, but I'm talking golf, particularly practice routines. If I go to the range and hit six 7-iron shots, making decent contact on each, then I'm done with that club. Which, upon reflection seems to be a stupid thing to do. If for once during the month I'm actually making good contact you'd think I'd want to keep at to lock it in. 'Good practice makes the right moves permanent' seems to be the logical way to look at things.

Why then do I want to get the club out of my hands as quickly as possible. Probably because I know it's only the matter of a few more swings and it's all going to go south. Why ruin the feeling that I've actually 'got it', when I know reality is going to show it's ugly head soon enough. So does that explain why most amateurs quickly find a golfing rut and stay in it for most of our careers?

I'd like to know if anyone out there has had the same experience or maybe the opposite one. Please tell me that you started hitting the ball well and stuck with it for 200 shots and as a result you dropped 10 strokes off your handicap. Until someone can prove that to me, I think I'll just keep putting that club back in the bag and savor a moment of triumph that golf rarely gives.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

'7 Laws' & Nick Bradley

I have a confession to make, I read too many golf books. I'm always looking for something more in my swing. I honestly believe the golf swing can't be as complex as we and most of the golf teachers out there make it. But, like most golfers, my own experience and what I see going on around me says my beliefs are wrong. And now comes along Nick Bradley to sell us hope once more.

But this time may be different. I don't know yet, but from what I saw in my first glance at his book 'The Seven Laws Of The Golf Swing' hope springs anew. First, the visuals are completely different from anything I've seen in a golf instruction book. If there is a 'secret' some where I believe it's in an image. Hogan gave us the 'swing plane' piece of glass as a visual and I believe that one image drove much of the golf theory that's been written since. But there's got to be more. There are too many of us out here that struggle too much with the full swing for that to be THE image.

Nick Bradley's book isn't full of swing sequence pictures. In that sense, there are relatively few images and they are mostly full page vies depicting one of his seven laws. They are visually stimulating and perhaps this is done to keep them 'burned' into our memories. A good many of them also show the underlying skeletal positions. You may think this odd as you read these comments, but go take a look and I think you'll come away with a different opinion.

Though I only scanned the book, I liked the idea that there were only 'seven' laws. Most golf books give way too many pieces of information for the normal human to digest. They also lack any ranking, so you may unwittingly be practicing something that isn't very important, while not addressing one of the basics. Seven is doable. You can get your head, and hands, around that. That also fits in with my belief that the swing can't be that complicated, we just make it that way.

I found the book at Borders, so go take a look for yourself. It won't hurt your game and, who knows, you just might find a big part of the puzzle that you've been missing. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cure For The Ryder Cup

Most of us watched at least some of the Ryder Cup matches. If you didn't get caught up in the hype or nationalism you saw some pretty good golf along the way. There were lots of chip-ins, tough shots made under intense pressure and even two holes-in-one. Despite all that, the Ryder Cup is on the verge of becoming ho-hum. The outcome has become as predictable as sunrise. If history teaches us something, viewer interest will begin to wane big time once we realize we know who's always going to win. I think we've reached that point.

Forget all the ideas about 'fixing' what's wrong with the US Team. It isn't going to happen. We breed a certain kind of player here. When you reward players one way for 99% of the matches they're in, it's silly to think you can counter all that for one competition that happens every two years that doesn't really do anything for their pocketbook. The way the Ryder Cup is now played, it favors Europeans and the kind of golf they play on the European tour. The Majors favor the kind of golf that is played on the American tour. The facts seem to prove that.

So instead of trying to do the impossible, the powers that be should change the Ryder Cup if they want to save it from the 'who cares' scrap pile. They don't even have to change the format of the matches. After all, team play is what makes the Cup worthwhile watching in the first place. Otherwise, it would never rank up there in popularity with the Majors.

Just add a third team, thereby letting the rest of the world play. It would mean more great golf in a team format. We'd get to see everyone we get now, plus Singh, Els, Goosen, Ogilvy et al. Ryder Cup golf stands out because almost every shot counts. In regular tournament play it's only the top few players that matter on Sunday. On the PGA Tour, if Jim Furyk hits a shot into the water on 18, it's not even worth a mention if he's not in the top 6 or 7. In Ryder Cup it's major. All this adds up to more golf shots that matter than your normal tournament, even a major.

EXCEPT, that is, if one of the teams is out of the competition almost from the start. Maybe the Asia/Africa/Australia team could pick up the slack from the Americans. The announcers and odds-makers could all go crazy trying to figure out the expanded number of hypothetical outcomes generated by a third team, the pundits would have 50% more to write about, and the excitement might go back into the game for the viewers. Looks like a Win Win Win to me!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ryder Cup Blues

Most of us watched at least some of the Ryder Cup matches. If you didn't get caught up in the hype or nationalism you saw some pretty good golf along the way. There were lots of chip-ins, tough shots made under intense pressure and even two holes-in-one. Despite all that, the Ryder Cup is on the verge of becoming Ho-Hum. The outcome has become as predictable as sunrise. If history teaches us something, viewer interest will begin to wane big time once we realize we know who's always going to win.

Don't let the media pundits scam you. Forget all the hoopla about the US needing better - read tougher - captains. These are the best players in the world. Having some hard ass yell in the faces of multi-millionaire golfing studs is not going to get them to play better. Telling the likes of Tiger Woods, Chris DiMarco and Jim Furyk to start yukking it while they play isn't going to work either.

More than half the strength of Tiger's game is his psyche. When he gets that 'look' no one is going to beat him straight up. We've all seen him when he gets in 'the zone'. Something only he seems able to maintain for 18 holes. Stevie could drop 12 clubs in the drink and he could still win when he has that look in his eye. But behind every strength is a weakness. Ask Tiger to play with someone else, engage with them in banter and read each other's putts and you have a prescription for failure. Tiger is Tiger because of the 'zone'. When he's taken out of it, he's just another good pro golfer.

On the other hand, look at Sergio. He's never lived up to his potential in regular tournament play. Five years ago who wouldn't have predicted he'd have multiple majors by now. Turns out his volatile persona works against him on Sunday. He can't find and stay in the zone. But put him in team play and he's proving to be the best 'team' golfer in the world. It plays to his emotional volatility. He feeds off it.

Americans should forget about focusing on the team captain. The best a Ryder Cup captain can do is to manage the peripheral items like travel, accommodations, press relations, and making sure that players that despise each other don't have to play together. If you want to be controversial, then bench Tiger for the foursomes. It's not his game.

Tomorrow I'll tell the powers at be how to save the Ryder Cup.

Friday, September 15, 2006

AJ Bonar - Who's zooming who?

I read a lot of the golf magazines that are out there. Partly they're interesting and partly it's my job to be up on what's happening in the world of golf. I past most attention to the intsructional pieces, of which there seem to be thousands. Maybe there's too much advice floating around to be useful, but on technical analysis most of it is sound. The problem for most of us amateurs is what 3 things to focus on out of the hundreds of possibilites we are given.

But something out of the norm caught my eye in the most recent GOLF magazine. It's an article about a 'secret' move or to quote the story 'the biggest secret you've never been told'. So what is this wonderful tip that the 'best players already make'? According to the story, which is about a teacher called A.J. Bonar, it's rolling your wrists through impact.

Somebody help me out, is this really a secret. Either I'm a savant or this is what every instructional book I've read or looked at (and that must be at least 30) has talked about. It's not the 'only' thing a golfer has to do for sure, but it seems like a basic component of every modern teacher's instruction.

I take exception with the article because 1) it presents the information like it's something that no amateur has ever heard about and 2) intimates that renowned teachers like McLean, Leadbetter and Flick don't teach it. Who's zooming who here. I can't decipher if it's A. J. Bonar or an editor of GOLF magazine. I'd guess that the aforementioned teachers would take exception to the claims of the article. Of course, with headlines like "Everything you know about the swing is wrong" you might expect to sell more magazines. But how often can you challenge your readers intelligence before they catch on. And how does that help promote the game of golf which everyone in the golf industry needs to survive. Golf isn't growing in the US and it appears that the powers that be don't know how to change this sad fact.

Michelle Wie, Your Not A Kid Anymore!

Michelle Wie is the teenage phenomenon of women's golf. Or at least her handlers - read father in this case - has billed her that way. She's done alright on the LPGA and though she hasn't won, I'm sure she will some day. She hits the ball a long way for a 16 year old. Her short game appears to need some work.

There was a certain anticipation the first time she got an exemption to play in a PGA tournament. It was informative, but not successful. The experiment should have been over at that point. From then on she should have had to earn her spot through a qualifier or Q School like most everyone else.

Now each new attempt she makes at the men's game is more annoying than the last. If you're not caught up in the hype, you can't help but notice that it's all about Michelle Wie. Her father must think it's good for her 'image', gets her name out there and somehow the hype adds to her ability to draw an audience. I've got some advice. The public will give you the benefit of the doubt for only so long even in this media crazed world. Where once you were cute and a novelty, now you are starting to make a mockery of golf itself. If you're going to play in the big leagues, then you no longer can excuse yourself because you're a kid. Professional golf is for adults and when a kid steps on the stage then she's chosen to be an adult whether she's ready or not. Parents are supposed to have the perspective to see what their kids are capable of and advise then accordingly.

Golf is a game steeped in tradition and rules. Professional golfers are supposed to make it on their own. If you play well you get some money, if you don't then better luck next time. There are no guaranteed pay days. If you're an amateur superstar, then you might get an exemption or two. If you don't make it then you go to Q School like everybody else. The clubs are supposed to do the talking.

Michelle Wie certainly knows something about playing the game, but it appears she doesn't know much about the game. I'll give her a pass on her first couple of exemptions just because it brought the game itself some notoriety and was probably motivating to young budding golfers. But my patience has now warn out. From here on in earn your playing time by respecting the game and what others have to go through to get the breaks you've already been given. And I'll be there cheering if you win.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Amazing Tri-Bag

Do yourself a favor and take a look at this innovative new golf bag from Tri Bag. It is quite unique in that it can be pulled OR carried. By pulling the bag, the senior player can save their back much wear and stress, but also have the flexibility to carry at select times, for example, one could then carry the bag to the green if you were not sure what club to use in a short game situation. Conversely, if you are a young adult or junior player pulling your bag it might make sense to pull in multi-day tournaments or the second (or third) round in a loooooong day of golf and, of course, you have the flexibility to carry.

Some other features of the Tri-Bag include:

• Adjustable dual harness - meaning you can shoulder it or "backpack" it

• Featherframe - a unique ultra-light, ultra-thin yet radically rigid polypropylene tube exoskeleton gives outstanding stability and protects your precious back

• Switchblade Handgrip - fully retractable telescoping swan neck grip rotates for right or left hand use and distributes weight evenly for even and smooth pull stability

• Slickwheel System - give optimum terrain traction and bag stability. Wheels detachable in one snap with separate nylon drawstring wheelbag for storage. Sealed twin bearing for cleaner, smoother running. Pull out mud cover protects your car interior

• Color combinations include: black/red, black/silver, black/blue, black/green, royal/pink, pink/white

• ALL Tri Bags include a removeable club rain hood and a separate bag for wheel storage (when not in use)

We encourage you to investigate this state-of-the-art golf cart/bag and see what it can do to further your performance and enjoyment of the game.

Interested in purchasing a Tri-Bag? Then please contact Tri-Bag via their website below who will direct you to your nearest on course, off course or online retailer.

Visit the Tri-Bag website here:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tiger – Please be reasonable with TPC surgery

Thanks to James Brown for this blog's title. I noticed in the local paper today that the TPC of Boston - the site of Tiger's 5th consecutive win for those living under a rock - will undergo major renovationions for next year's tournament. Alone, this isn't very big news as it seems to happen weekly at this or that major course. But, two facts make this story different; 1) they probably will shorten the course and 2) Tiger's going to be involved.

Yes, you read that last sentence correctly, the word is SHORTEN. Seems impossible with every pro hitting the fall further now than they did 20 years ago, especially when you consider this is true for those who went from 25 to 45 years old over that period. For many golf fans this is a very troubling development in the game they love. You can put me in that category. So, when I hear someone say they intend to shorten a course where major championships are held it sure gets my attention. Could there possibly be a refreshing change in the wind? And might the guy whose name is synonymous with long be part of this movement. It certainly is too early to tell, but let's daydream for a moment to see what might be possible.

It's natural to expect that Tiger, sooner rather than later, would get involved with course design. It's been the tradition for the last 30 years that the top pros must also become prolific modern course designers, a la Nicklaus, Player and Palmer. You could certainly make an argument that being a top pro is not a guarantee that you can design a great course, no more than you can say that being a great quarterback will make you a hall of fame coach. Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying the opposite. However, history is replete with example after example of men and women who were great players of some game, but not great in any other aspect of it. Sorry, but isn't being a great athlete blessing enough.

Let's get back to the main point. I'm excited that Tiger is going to get involved in course design, particularly as his own game has taken a much more cerebral approach of late. Isn't this the guy who left his driver in the bag at The Open and who now beats opponents regularly by hitting 4 irons to 15 feet. Tiger's gone from over-powering a course to dissecting them.

When you get proficient at something, like a sport, it's natural to forget what it's like to be a beginner. In the case of golf pros it's almost impossible to remember what it's like to be a bogey golfer with a slice you can't lose for love nor money. When I was a ski instructor, the best thing you could do to teach beginners was to go be a beginner at some other sport yourself so you could remember what it was like. Maybe today's designing pros should try that and rediscover aspects of the game they haven't known since they were using junior clubs and wearing diapers.

Is this going someplace? My point is that modern courses, in the US anyway, are all too typical. There are about 4 variations of one theme - target golf. As much as the likes of Nicklaus, Player and Palmer have claimed to have designed 'links' courses, have they really. If a links course is what they have in Scotland and Ireland, then I think not. Everything in this country is too developed, too 'clean'. God forbid that the traps shouldn't be raked perfectly or have unruly fescue growing around their borders. And fairways must be framed so you know exactly where they are - and aren't. And you've got to use a lot of earth moving equipment to flatten and grade out nature's handiwork. After all, the playing public won't tolerate it, right? Wrong! I think they've greatly misjudged us.

If you've seen the 60 minutes interview with Tiger, you probably remember him saying that as a kid he liked to throw golf balls into the woods and then try to score. Why? because it was fun. And if there's a place on the course that the designers haven't touched it's the woods. But for Tiger, that's where the fun and challenge was. Hmmm.

Tiger still seems to be the guy who has the most fun playing the game and I think that's a more important credential for a course designer than being the best player in the world. Too many of today's designers have lost the subtleties of course design that the classic architects like Alister MacKenzie where geniuses at. The Old Course at St. Andrews may be the best example of classic design, which means it's as challenging for Tiger as it is for you and me. Imagine that - we can both play the same course and have a great time and Tiger doesn't have to be playing from the Tiger tees.

Now that Tiger is developing the best thinking game on top of the best ball striking game, he just may be the messiah that will change modern golf architecture. It's a lot to ask because being the arguably best player ever is more than enough on its own. But Tiger has already shown that he's multi-talented and maybe even a visionary. If you don't understand that, then take a closer look at what he's doing with the Tiger Woods Learning Center.

Home, home on the range
Where the traps are eschew
The fairway is too
And the pros and beginners all play

Golfing is fun
The place is mostly undone
And the skies are not cloudy all day

(My apologies to songwriters everywhere)

Tiger (and Brad Faxon), please, please, please help make golf a fun game again. And the powers that be, please chip in and help them. We need more golfers playing more rounds and what you've been doing for the last 20 years isn't working. Take a walk on the wild side.

P.S. please take a look a limiting ball flight while you're at it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Spare Me The Ryder Cup Machismo

It's almost Ryder Cup time again. I like the event - many of the world's best golf pros playing a team sport. I especially love the team matches, I guess because they're so unique to competitive pro golf. Contrary to the weekly tournaments, every golfer's play counts which makes the event great for the TV audience.

So much for what I like. What I don't like is all the hype that sportswriters and broadcasters feel they have to ad. Just let the thing be, please. It's a beautiful and fun event, isn't that enough. Do we have to hear about all the nationalism involved - 'we hate the Americans, we hate the Europeans, blah blah blah'. Golf my friends isn't about hate. (Actually I do hate to shank, but we're talking human beings here.)

And how does a rivalry fueled by nationalism help anyone on this planet. It doesn't make the players play better. It doesn't help world peace or cure hunger either. Will golf audiences only tune in to see someone from a different country get his ass kicked. I don't believe it, regardless of what the media tries to sell us. Do we have to believe them when they tell us they don't really want to promote negativity, they do it only because audiences demand it.

Well, here's one viewer who hopes they'll see the light and stop the trash talk. Tell us instead about the competition, the strategy or the cigars they're smoking but spare us the Vince Lombardi hype. Here are the world's greatest golfers on a beautiful course playing the kinds of matches many of us play for fun with our friends. It's about enjoyment and that's not to say it's not competitive. Some of the most competitive matches I've ever had have been against my friends.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The X Factor and power

I'm going out on a limb again with another bit of advice on the golf swing. I won't denigrate my skill with the clubs again as I've already done that. Proceed at your own risk, check with your doctor and don't blame me if you duck hook your first drive through a course side bay window.

Actually, I think this tip is quite interesting because you don't see it mentioned alot. I was looking at an old golf article the other day about the X Factor. This is something that I believe Jim McLean came up with to explain where the power comes from in a golf swing. Basically the X describes the lines that are created if you looked down at a golfer from above and drew lines through the shoulders and hips. The greater the separation in the lines, the more power you're able to deliver to the golf ball.

Don't worry if you're confused because the tip is actually quite simple. You've got to restrict your hip turn. This makes for a bigger X and therefore more power. But, more importantly in my book, it allows you to hit the ball more cleanly and more consistently. It makes sense if you think about it. When you restrict your hips you create more torque in your torso (sounds like the tag line in a bad ad!). This creates a whole bunch of stored power and all you have to do to get your downswing started is to release your right knee towards the target.

Maybe you're scratching your head about that right knee. It is the key to restricting your hips. Watch the pros, you'll see that many actually point their right knee towards their left at setup. This braces the knee to resist all that turning you're doing on the backswing.

And finally, if you relax and release the right knee, you're more likely to swing with the big muscles of your torso. This is where the real power comes from, not your arms. When you use your arms lots of bad things happen.

Give it a try and let me know how it works.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Beta Blockers in Professional Golf!

There's a recent story out of Sports Illustrated that suggests there are drugs in golf - not steroids but beta blockers. Beta blockers are used to combat anxiety, so it doesn't take a genius to understand why they would appeal to some golfers. I've known executives to take a beta blocker before addressing a large audience to calm their nerves.

There is anxiety in every sport, but I believe that golf promotes it more than most. We can relate to placekickers being anxious because they sit on the bench most of the time, performing only occasionally but often under intense pressure. In competitive golf, most every shot must be performed under pressure since it's usually one stroke out of almost 300 that separates the winner from everyone else. And then there's all that time in between shots to just plain worry. It's easy to understand why using anything to reduce this would be tempting.

The question I'm raising is where do we draw the line. What's a drug and what isn't. Caffeine is a drug, a stimulant, and I'll bet that most golfers use it. If you follow downhill ski racing then you probably know that the great Italian slalom racer, Alberto Tomba, was famous for having an espresso just before his start. Everyone knew and no one complained. After all, caffeine is a legal over-the-counter drug. So is an antihistamine for allergies, yet in some sports taking one before competition would get you disqualified.

It all goes to show that what's accepted and what's not is a very gray area, depending on the sport and social custom. Let's make it even grayer. What if I take an herb which functions as a beta blocker. Am I illegally enhancing my performance with a cup of Kava tea. Right now the answer is - only if it is specifically prohibited by the sport's governing body.

Bottom line, it becomes an almost impossible task to decide what's allowed and what's not. If I suffer from allergies, why can't I take a doctor prescribed antihistamine. Then again, you can probably find a doctor somewhere who will write a prescription for anything, so can that be used as a criteria?

The bottom line may be in what actually works. Why ban a substance if it doesn't help athletes win. Apparently testosterone works miracles for bike racers, so ban it. Steroids work for strength based sports like football and slugging home runs in the majors, so ban them. When someone starts beating Tiger because they're on something and not because they're better, then ban it. Until then let it rest.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Heliocare - a pill to prevent sun damage?

Can a pill a day help keep sun cancer away? that's the potential of a new supplement called Heliocare, which has been shown to protect skin against the effects of sun exposure.

Part of a new trend in "oral antioxidants", Heliocare's active ingredient is an antioxidant called Polypodium Leucotomos (PL), an extract from ferns native to Central America, which have been used by indigenous people to heal skin problems such as psoriasis and dermatitis.

"Studies show that heliocare helps prevent redness after the skin has been irradiated with ultraviolet light," explains Dr. Leslie Baumann, professor of dermatology at the University of Mimami and author of The Skin Type Solution.

According to IVAX Dermatologicals, Inc, the US distributor of Heliocare, golfers who spend significant time outside should take a second pill three hours after the first dose. At $60 for 60 pills, that adds up – but the benefits could be more than worth it.

- from an article in Woman in Golf by Samantha Hallock

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

No more full iron sets!

Golf manufacturers appear to try and stay up on the latest trends in golf. You'd suppose they have to in order to compete. They spend lots of money trying to convince us that we'll play a lot better if we upgrade our 2 year old clubs.

It's not all hype. I do admit there have been some real game improvement clubs over the last 15 years. Who but the pros can't benefit from perimeter weighting. Try and buy a driver WITHOUT a graphite shaft. Perhaps one of the newest and most helpful inventions has been the hybrid club - half iron and half wood. Most everyone has one, including the PGA pros. On the Champions tour you can't find a bag without one or even more.

It doesn't take much foresight to see where this is going. I've been thinking about possibly upgrading my clubs. As I started to go through the selection process in my mind, I realized I don't really want to buy a full set up irons, 3-PW. Many of us already use wedges that don't match our set, same as most pros. And most amateurs can't and don't hit 2 and 3 irons. Some of us are seeing the light and thinking about getting rid of the 4 as well. Which leaves me wanting to buy a new iron set that goes from 5 through 9. That's four clubs less than I have to buy now, or half a set. I think I'll wait another year or so, in which time a smart manufacturer that makes hybrids and irons is going to offer me the choice to buy only the clubs I really need.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Secret To Better Golf

I think I can help you play better golf, but you'll have to apply the concepts!

I'm going to do something I thought I never would - offer golf advice. I know this is risky territory, after all who am I to be giving anyone golf advice. I'm not a pro and I've never taught. Heck, I'm not even a scratch player. On the other hand, I've been on a search for a competitive and repetitive golf swing for the last 10 years. I think I've tried most everything. I've hit them left, right, up and down. Which is only to say that I've suffered like everyone else.

I've analyzed myself, my friends and even my wife. I've watched hundreds, if not thousands, on the practice tee. I've read every instruction book available, yet I couldn't find a magic bullet anywhere. Heck, I couldn't find a good 'visual' for the complete swing. But I do think I've found something that can help most amateur golfers.

Now this assumes you've been playing golf for awhile and have the basic components of grip, stance and swing-plane under control. (If you don't, then nothing is going to help you.) If you're like most, you're not consistent. Some days you're on and some days you're not. You also tend to push or slice most of the time, but occasionally come across the ball and pull it.

I think the hands are the key. Why? Because they ultimately dictate where the club is going to be. I believe the number one fault is getting the hands further away from the body on the downswing than they were on the takeaway. You've got to actively pull your hands in towards your body. If you want to take it a step further, then also manage where your hands are in relation to the ball at impact. At the extremes they're about even with the ball for the driver and some inches ahead for the wedge. Every other club falls in between. (In reality, the hands stay in basically the same place, it's the ball that moves backward from your front foot as you move from the driver through the wedge.)

If you can get your hands in the right position, I believe you will have done more to produce solid consistent shots than anything else. Of course you have to 'release' your wrists at the right time and keep your body behind the ball, but I'm assuming that most golfers understand this.

One last thought for golfers who want to take this 'hands' thing the extra mile. Imagine yourself making the perfect swing. Your hands would describe the perfect circle around your body. This circle has to be as big as possible. (You can still keep your hands close to your body on the downswing and make the circle as big as possible at the same time). I believe this image might help you. I think most golfers end up pulling their hands off this circle and therein lies most of their problems. Some pull off on the way back, some on the way down, and some on the follow-through.

That's as good as I've got. If it makes sense to you, then give it a try. Please let me know how it works out, but don't expect me to cover your golf bets! WARNING: Side effects may include dizziness, euphoria, exuberance or total mental collapse.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Brown courses are good courses!

I've been watching as much of The Open as I can and it just reminds me how much I love the British style golf courses. There's nary a flat spot on the course, the gorse and heather are everywhere and the course is brown, brown, and brown.

One of the ABC commentators explained how UK greenskeepers only water the grass enough to keep it alive, where US greenskeepers insist on keeping it growing. This would seem to save on maintenance costs and help the environment as well by saving water and probably eliminate a lot of the application of frightening chemicals.

Even if it doesn't do these earth friendly things, the courses look a lot more fun to play. Courses in the US certainly vary from one another, but only to a point. I'd love to be able to get off my steady diet and go out for some scorched earth links once in a while. Don't all those mounds, swales, dips and depressions look interesting versus the flat green monotonous tracks we are all too familiar with here.

And those pot bunkers, sprinkled around a snakey little course to make every hole and every path to the hole an adventure. Talk about risk reward calculations. And it brings a fair amount of luck into the experience, but it's still fair. Every golfer will get their share of bad and good bounces. It's all about how you handle it.

I can't help but think that all golf in the beginning was played this way. 'Shawn, you can aim right on your drive for a better approach to the green, but better make sure you clear the Hangman's rock or you'll play dearly!'

I play a lot of golf on a lovely little 9 hole track on one of the many islands in Narragansett Bay. It really sets up to be a links course. You can see 2 bridges and lots of water. There's tall ocean grass all around and the greens are excellent for a small public course. But somewhere along the way, every bump and dip has been eliminated. The fairways are 100 yards wide in most cases and the few pines that added some challenge have been cut down because of beetles. Now you pretty much sleepwalk until you're on the green. It's still a fun little course, but it could be so much more if they'd kept more of the natural landscape and let it go brown and thrown in some pot bunkers for good measure. The only problem would have been the legions of golfers this layout might have attracted.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fichem goes for the gold!

Tim Finchem is doing what any respectable commissioner of a professional sport does these days - go for the gold. Gold in the form of greenbacks that is. Finchem's latest accomplishment is a $10 million prize for the winner of next year's season ending, 4 tournament finale. As if Tiger, VJ or any of the other 'usual suspects' won't have earned enough already.

So what's wrong with upping the purses? That's what pro sports is, isn't it. It's about money, and more money. As if somehow money is going to fix everything. As if more money for the pros is going to increase the number of average Joes and Jane's who play golf. Just look at other sports if you want to see the future.

It seems to me that the more pro sports focus on bucks, the more quality and integrity decline. Just pick up any sports page on any day of the week and read about the doping scandals. I'm not suggesting that pro golf has to worry about steroids, but I do believe golf, like all sports, is susceptible to attacks on the integrity of the game because of dollar lust.

We already have the long ball problem. The golf bureaucracy's ignoring of the technology addiction will deteriorate the sport just as steroids has done for baseball. Golf is more than a game, it's a microcosm of life. Anyone who has played a single round knows the ability of the game to expose the psyche. And that, dear reader, is the ultimate allure of the game.

There are plenty of people willing to be pro golfers and compete for the dollars such as they are. It's not like the sport can't put together a competitive field. What the dollars have done is up the stakes enough that pros now have personal trainers, nutritionists, sport psychologists, swing coaches, business managers, agents and who knows what else. Why do we all long for simpler times when men and women were willing to risk it all and bare their souls to the public just for the chance to do what they love. It's a dream we all have, but few of us ever achieve. We're stuck at our 9-5's, and get our vicarious thrills watching our heroes - whether they're musicians, athletes or artists - pursue a life we can only dream about.

Now the Daddy Warbucks commissioners are taking that from us. And in turn they have unleashed the monster of greed to destroy the last of our pleasures, while we watch helplessly from the sidelines.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Women's Pro Golf Has A Problem

I went to the 2006 Women's Open for one day and watched the rest of it on TV. If you've read my other columns you might have caught me saying that Women's golf was going to be THE place to be, men's golf was getting too boring with long drives and wedges on most holes. As you are my witness, I am here to recant!

I wanted the Women's Open to be interesting. I was ready for it to be interesting. But it was very ho-hum, and I can't figure out why. Compared to par the top 2 women finishers were 4 strokes better than Ogilvy at Winged Foot. So they must have played better golf, right? And doesn't that equate to more interesting golf. In my opinion, NO!

First, let me be clear that it wasn't the course. The Newport Country Club is as beautiful an old classic links course as we have in this country. Even with all the rain they've had in the last 2 months, the course was in fantastic shape. The rough was graduated and fair. The views of the ocean were spectacular. The traps were soaked, but that's mother nature and offers the player one more challenge.

Was it the coverage? Did the media not get us psyched-up, was it their fault. I don't think so. I thought the coverage was good. They did focus too much on only a few players. There was good play and good players on the course who didn't get coverage. I thought Johnny Miller was great. I love it when he takes us through the players' swings, both men and women. His ability to see the tiny movements that explain a pulled shot or a chip that doesn't roll straight is as good as anyone's. As an aside, I wish they would use the video analysis tools and let Johnny take us through more swings. It's wonderful insight for us amateurs to see what works and what doesn't. If they'd do that on finesse shots from around the green it would be eye opening I'm sure. In fact someone ought to do a TV series where Johnny takes us through the golf swing and shot making. I'd watch every episode.

But I digress. Back to the boring women. Maybe they're too good, too robotic. When they miss, they don't miss by much. But on the other hand, nobody ever seems to get really hot and make a charge - or is that a TV coverage problem? When they get in trouble, it doesn't seem as bad. Would an analysis show us that the men go to more extremes - double bogies coupled with eagles and birdies adding up to the same basic score against par. One area where they were definitely not as good as the men was putting. No one was making many putts over 10 feet, except maybe Stacy Prammandasudh. I can't tell you how many putts came up consistently short. Was there something wrong with the greens that we couldn't see through the TV, or are the women not as good. This doesn't seen logical to me, but I have no other way to explain it.

Where was the passion with the players? I thought the women would be more emotionally involved than the men, but what I witnessed was the exact opposite. Joy and frustration where only discernible by the slightest changes in the curve of the mouth, except for maybe Morgan Pressel. In the playoff Annika certainly played excellent golf, straight down the fairway, on the green in regulation and putting for birdie on most every hole. Granted she didn't hit any pins, have any kick-ins, or save par by bending it around a tree (was there a tree on the course?), but who could fault her play. It was amazingly consistent, precise and successful.

I was also surprised by the lack of interaction with the crowd. Maybe Arnold and Lee need to don golf skirts and wigs and work the crowd a little for them. About 10 years ago I saw an LPGA tournament in Massachusetts. I was blown away by how accessible and personable the players were. It was such a refreshing change from the PGA tournaments of the time, which was a constant refrain heard in the lines waiting for the bus back to the parking lot.

If the 2006 Women's Open wasn't an aberration, then the LPGA is in trouble or at least they aren't going to expand their fan base by much more. Most of the swings I watched on the practice tee were beautiful. If the devil offers you Shi Hyun Ahn's swing for your soul, consider it carefully. I'd love to have it on tape. I wish I could hit one drive a season the way most of the LPGA pros crank them out over and over on the practice range. However, in the end, I'm not very excited about going to my next LPGA tournament. Sporting events need to get the blood flowing to be entertaining and this tournament certainly didn't.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Seve - I Beg To Differ!

Seve Ballesteros a couple of days ago called the US Open at Winged Foot the worst major. He thinks it's wrong that good pros can end up shooting 20 over par. Seve, the problem isn't in the scores it's in the technology - which effects the courses.

Scoring is relative. What if they increased par at every hole by one. Would we feel any differently about the same scores now that they're red instead of black? Golf is the player against himself and against the course. Good golf is challenging golf, fair golf, but who cares where the totals stand in relation to par. It's immaterial Seve.

I want fair courses. No one wants to see someone 10 feet below the hole and their ball roll back to them every time they don't putt it into the cup. That's not fair golf, that's gimicky golf. I want to see shot making. I want to see pros have to use more than drivers and pitching wedges. 14 clubs will soon become 4 wedges, 2 drivers, a putter, 3 wood or utility wood and 5 through 9 irons. Something is wrong when 275 in the middle of the fairway is a lot worse than 330, 15 yards into the rough.

Championship golf should be about the player understanding and dissecting a course to attack it in the best way given it's challenges and the player's skills. Golf at it's best is a mental game. Today most every winning pro's strategy is bomb it and drop a wedge on the pin. I thought only one player understood Winged Foot, at least until the last hole. That would be Monty. I believe he was playing for par, not birdie. That's what the course asked for. That's what Billy Casper realized when he won at Winged Foot and played his tee shot at that treacherous par 3 short of the green in every round. He used his head. I'm thinking that Phil is the best of the bomb-it generation. He certainly showed it at the Open, unfortunately not 'thinking' his way around cost him.

What's to be done to force players to have to think. One way would be to change the technology somewhere to keep the ball in the park, but it doesn't look like the powers-that-be have the courage for that. Then it's left up to each individual course to adapt accordingly - a much harder and more costly alternative.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tim Finchem, absolute power corrupts!

On Monday I went to the CVS Golf Classic, held here in little Rhode Island for the last 8 years. In that time, this little laid back tournament has raised more than $8 million for local charity. It's held at the Rhode Island Country Club, a beautiful old course on the upper end of Narragansett Bay, one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

The tournament consists of ten 2 man teams handpicked by the organizers Billy Andrade and Brad Faxon. The pros love it because the worst they can do is earn about $45k for two days work. It's a relaxed team format, on a course that hasn't been tricked up. The crowds are relatively small so you can get up close and personal with some of the top pros in the world. They sign golf balls for the kids, they joke on the tee. Everybody feels good and there are no long faces. In other words a win- win for everyone - except Tim Finchem. He wants the pros to play only where he can get the most money and that means an end to these 'family affairs'. Forget the charity dollars, forget the wonderful promotion of golf as a fun game, and forget getting close to your idols. Finchem wants money and control. He calls the shots ladies and gentlemen so that's what you'll get. If he has his way there will be no two day tournaments like the CVS Charity Classic and golf will continue to die a slow death. Tim, we can hardly wait for what comes next. As for me, I'm looking forward to the 2006 Women's Open where I can really enjoy myself.

Golf Commentators

I love golf, I think it's a beautiful game. It teaches us more about ourselves than any other sport, it's a model for life. OK, maybe I'm a little more golf dazed than most, but I care about this game and it's future. Modern golf commentators are contributing to it's downfall in my opinion. Keep in mind that the sport hasn't grown in more than 20 years.

The US Open is still the pinnacle of US golf. The Masters is right up there, but the Open has the edge because it's an Open - meaning anyone can qualify to play. It's the true American championship, where the Masters is a global golf championship. The Open should be the height in US sports TV coverage as well, where the knowledge, reverence and respect for the game is clear and inspiring - yes inspiring.

Golf is not football, obviously. What works for football coverage does not work for golf because the atmosphere for each is so different. Golf is contemplative, lonely, steeped in tradition as much as rules. Players mostly walk around and think. If you added up the swing time for an individual player I can't think it would add up to much more than 5 minutes. My longwinded point is that while Chris Burmen for ESPN is a perfectly nice guy, he doesn't understand golf. One only has to look at the classic English golf commentators to see the difference. They are steeped in the game, whereas Chris looks like he's only been prepped. His commentary is filled with phrases that apparently someone told him would appeal to all the average Joe's and Joanne's who play the game. Golf is a much more thoughtful game than the 'yuk yuk' comments and idle chatter that proliferate in football coverage.

At least Chris is positive and affable. While I admire Johnny Miller's non-paralleled knowledge of the players, the courses and the game, I'm tired of the negative attitude. Did someone in golf do something to him that he's still upset about. Guys can hit a bad lie to 15 feet of the pin and Johnny acts like it was a hack. Does he really feel that five foot breaking putts on the toughest greens in the world are kickins? He of all people should know how tough the game is. Tiger takes off 4 weeks and can't make the cut. That's how quickly one of the best games in the world can turn to just so-so on the pro circuit.

I'd love more commentary about the game and how it's played. With golf not growing as a sport for 20 years, it ought to occur to someone that it's in need of some help. If a pro's blast out of a sand trap to 5 feet is 'a bad miss' then how do I feel when my blast doesn't clear the lip.

Golf is a wonderful mental game. Why don't the analysts explore more of it. Are most of the pros making a mistake at this year's Open by playing for birdie. From what I can saw of Monty, he decided that par was right as long as it saved him the doubles that so many took because they tried to get a little to close to pins that don't tolerate risk. Maybe that's why so many non-US players did so well. They can think out of the box that so many US pros find themselves in, namely a monster drive and wedge for birdie.

I'd like to hear the commentators take on the increased length now in the game. Are they afraid to because of repercussions from club and ball manufacturers? How about the target golf that US tournaments have become. I'd prefer to watch lesser matches on Scottish links courses to see the real game being played.

With modern video tools, swing analysis has never been better. On the rare occasions when they analyze a player's swing it's fascinating. With more coverage the average player might realize that he or she could benefit from the same kind of analysis. Think what that might do for the game and those that try to make a living teaching it.

Personally, I think commentators owe as much loyalty to the sport they cover as to their employer. There are millions of fascinating things to talk about and watch in golf. Leave the jokes for football and the negativity for politics. Golf is under assault in many ways and commentators can do a lot to protect it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cliff Notes On The Open

Here's what I saw:

Tiger's rusty, he hadn't done any of the 'extra' preparation that a major requires and he's still grappling with his father's death. Unless he's gone through a complete personality change, he'll be back.

Phil went back to the old 'take the risk' Phil and it killed him on the last hole when he let it out of the bag. He thought he was ordained to win this one so he let it creep out gradually in the last round. What was he doing continuing to hit driver. Does anyone remember when Jack Nicklaus put his driver in the bag during the last round of an Open that he won and teed off with his 1 iron?

Ogilvy played extremely well for a young gun. He thought he lost it on the 16th. With the pressure off he played 17 and 18 relaxed. How would he have done in a playoff with Phil - unfortunately we'll never know.

Monty played great. It's wonderful to see him in the thick of things. At the 1998 Ryder Cup he was the best player on any team. Monty was on game plan until the fairway iron on 18. That's when the impact that what he might achieve hit him. He hasn't won in a long while, he's never won a major. It was just too much after such a long draught. Monty, I'm still routing for you, you're a hell of a golfer. I hope you keep at it.

Furyk played typical Furyk golf, BUT now he's gone too crazy with his lining up putts and backing off. He's getting as bad as Sergio used to be. Jim, go see someone besides your dad and get that thing taken care of. You have a terrific game for the Open, you can win more. You're probably still kicking yourself for missing that birdie putt on 16? by so much. It wasn't a bad swing, it's your crazy routine.

David Duval wasn't in contention at the end, but it was a thrill to see him really starting to get it together. Anyone notice that he tied for the lowest score, a 68. The game needs another steady contender at the top who can produce consistently thrilling rounds.

Where'd Ernie go? I've heard he's got a problem with the driver. I'm not sure about that as they never showed him on the tube, but he's got a problem with something. Will he ever get back to being the Ernie we know and love? I'd say he's got an uphill battle.

As well as Vijay played at Westchester, something has happened to his game since 2004. I'm tempted to say putting. He putted great at Westchester, but has been struggling for most of the season. I think he's starting to lose some accuracy in general. Is that age creeping in?

I wish I'd seen more Padraig. I know he went bogey, bogey, bogey, but I didn't see where he lost those holes. I almost thought he was going to come on towards the end. Did he just run out of steam or is there a club he still can't control down the stretch.

In general it was a beautiful Open. Winged Foot was setup very well even if Darren Clarke didn't like the greens. I didn't hear many pros complaining. I like the graduated rough - the further off course the greater the penalty. I think all the pros - except Monty - were playing for birdie. Monty had it right, play for par and avoid the doubles that so many had. Even though the Billy Casper strategy was brought up again and again by commentators on that one very testy par 3 there wasn't one pro who gave it a try. It seems the only strategy left is hit it as far as you can. Monty, please prove them wrong!

Conflicted Values and Steroids

If you've only even glanced once at a sports page in the last month, you're probably aware of the 'steroid issue' in pro baseball. I believe there's a lesson in it for pro golf which is already starting to travel a similar path.

No, I don't mean to tell you that there are pro golfers out there using steroids. But I do believe that those who run the sport have turned a blind eye to something that will ultimately kill the popularity of the pro game. There are those who claim that this is exactly what happened to pro baseball, that the commissioner and managers knew players were on the 'juice', but refused to address it because they decided that the public wanted more home runs rather than integrity.

It appears that those who manage pro golf feel the public wants monster tee shots, rather than watching golfers who have a complete game. Some of the players have even started to complain, even one or two of the young big guns. Has it gotten to the point where it's easier to win a tournament by blasting crooked 350 yard drives as opposed to hitting 6 irons to small greens from the middle of the fairway.

Who knows golf in general and pro golf in particular better than Jack Nicklaus. Those who run the sport ought to put special emphasis on what he says, and he's come out numerous times about the unnatural length that the ball flies these days. But still the illuminati take no action. What are they waiting for. Golf is a game of integrity. The people who run the organizations that control it ought to focus on integrity themselves. There number one responsibility is to protect this most important component of the game. To hell with the greed that comes from TV contracts and the margins on $500 drivers and $4 balls. The goose that laid the golden egg is about to be transformed into a boring repetitive sport. The only differentiator will be the 5 yards difference between 340 and 345.

Monday, June 19, 2006

What's Bad For The Country Is Bad For Golf

I think it's more than coincidence that US mens' teams have done so poorly in international sports in recent years. If it was only one or two teams we could rationalize it away, but it's almost across the board. Thinking back to what my high school coach used to tell us, I'd conclude we are too fat, dumb and spoiled as a nation. There's probably some truth in there, but I believe you have to dig a little deeper to find it.

Our athletes certainly don't appear to be out of shape, so cross off fat. And dumb doesn't seem to apply, at least to golfers. Most have college degrees in something other than 'sports management'. If we changed 'spoiled' to greedy we might be getting close. Greedy means putting profits above everything else, but it can also mean putting individual fame above everything else. I haven't met anyone in recent years who enjoys the personal history essays that populate Olympic coverage in place of watching the competition itself. There's no coverage of biathlon when we have no one in contention, instead we get a half hour interview with Bodie's first grade teacher. No wonder Americans at the northern border have taken to watching the Olympics in Canada.

Look at the coverage and focus we put on even our youngest golfers. This is no reflection on them, but on our society. Michelle Wie already has made $10 million in endorsements without having won a match. Her parents have her trying to play on the men's tour. I'm sure she's already got a clothing line of her own. Under the circumstances how do we adults expect her to grow up without an exaggerated opinion of herself. God forbid that I had to get up everyday and read stories about every mundane thing I did the day before. And yet that's what we've built in this country - a combination of cult of personality and fame driven by size of the bank account. No wonder our athletes can't draw on the kind of values that used to push past champions to achieve seemingly superhuman results while still being humble.

Is it only me that thinks that our top athletes used to realize how lucky they were to be on top. Now it looks to me like they believe they are ordained to be champions and if somehow they don't win 'it's unfair'. The last Ryder Cup the US team took itself way too seriously. Seems like they forgot 'it's only a game'. They're not brain surgeons, there's no life or death issues. It's just a bunch of skilled and LUCKY guys playing a friendly on the best golf courses in the world.

Those long putts on the last hole that go in for the big win, or out for infamy, that may you a national hero or goat - they all require skill, some get the luck as well. Dave Pelz will tell you that the best read and struck put in the world may not go in. No one can account for every blade of grass or microscopic pothole. The new TV cameras that show the pro putts rolling toward the hole in excrutiating detail prove that.

Maybe I'm way off the mark, but I think it's more than coincidence that so many US teams in so many sports have failed to live up to expectations in recent years. What's your theory?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What's Wrong With US Golf

Depending on your mood you might say 'nothing' or 'everything'. I tend to lean more toward the latter. Are things occurring in golf that some months or maybe a year or two down the road we'll exclaim 'why didn't someone do something'?

First, I can't resist making a comment about US men's sports in general. Has anyone noticed how poorly we've faired in recent years? Remember the US basketball team - they were so bad I was routing against them in the last Olympics - and in a game that we created. Then there's baseball, hockey, alpine skiing and maybe in a couple of hours - soccer. Is it just coincidence, or is something wrong here at home.

I don't want to ruin your day, just yet, but remember the embarrassment of the last Ryder Cup. It's one thing to lose, even lose badly, and quite another to be so uptight, tightlipped and self-involved that you forget those who made you what you are, namely the fans. In case you forgot, the US squad was so out of touch during the practice round that the US fans started routing for the Europeans!

How much more do we need to understand that we might be getting a wakeup call? More tomorrow....

Friday, June 16, 2006

The "Incredible" Hook/Slice Talking Swing Meter

I thought this sounded like a pretty honest review. What do YOU think?

"From the "We'd Rather Get Punched in the Face" department: An absolutely awful golf gadget that hooks onto your driver and announces how crappy your last shot was, 'cause we really need some wise-ass device telling us we just sliced the ball into the snack bar. Even though it's marketed as a training tool, the Hook/Slice Talking Swing Meter does nothing to improve your game but lots to crush your confidence. Great fun for screwing the jerk in your foursome, but that's about it. At $18, it's more than $17 overpriced."

Review by Evan Blass of Engadget.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Amino Vital, why do the Pros love it?

I have been noticing a lot of professional golfers now using a product called Amino Vital. In a lot of ways this makes sense, after all amino acids are "the building blocks of life"

According to their website: "Scientists have learned that three linked essential amino acids—leucine, isoleucine and valine, called Branched—Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) serve as a critical source of muscle energy as well as nutrition for muscle repair. Unlike other amino acids, which are mostly metabolized in the liver, BCAAs are metabolized in the muscle tissue itself. Without a sufficient supply, your muscles begin to feel tired and sore during exercise.

In contrast, a plentiful supply of BCAAs makes you feel energized—and helps muscles recover and rebuild much faster. And during and after exertion, two other amino acids, arginine and glutamine, work to synthesize proteins, remove harmful toxins and strengthen the body’s immune system."

In this age of do-whatever-it-takes to get the competitive edge, Amino vital might be worth looking into.

Check them out at:

Friday, June 02, 2006

What is Par-formance?

I wanted to bring this very practical product to your attention. It is called The Par-formance Golf Score Journal. It is a smaller, spiral-bound booklet that fits easily in your pocket and allows you to keep track of your game from tee to green. For example, there are places to enter your score, course, weather conditions, tee boxes, total yardage, number of putts, fairways hit, birdies, pars, bogeys, double bogeys, greens hit, penalty strokes, notes, etc. and on the bottom section of the chart you can enter all your shot info (tee shot, approach, fairways, greens, up and downs, putts, penalties, etc.) hole by hole.

In my opinion it is really a great way to "see" your round visually so you can begin to assess your strength and weaknesses. It is also very well designed (opens flat) with plenty of space to enter your information. This is a nice thought-out detail as when we are in the heat of the battle on the course we want something simple and practical that we actually USE regularly.

Order the Par-formance Score Journal at:

I highly recommend these for yourself or as gifts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Family Golf

I was recently at the US Kids Golf website investigating some clubs for my nephew when I noticed the "Family Courses" tab in their main navigation. There they provide you with a list of golf courses that meet or exceed "our family course criteria" - it seems these "designated" courses have (or have added) 2 additional sets of tees. Green tees - 2200 yards and Yellow tees - 3750 yards - the obvious logic being *most" forward tees (usually white) are to long at 5000 yards for kids and beginner adults.

Personally, *I like* the idea of promoting family golf but in all my years of playing golf I am having a hard time remembering ever seing a family play golf together. Certainly a father and son or less frequently a mom and daughter - but a family!? and now family-friendly courses?

Curious if other have seen families play recently.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

L2 Putter - time for a change?

I played in a team tournament last weekend that consisted of five 9-hole matches. One of our competitors, who is now in his 70's, was putting in way I had never seen. He stood tall, faced the hole and held a belly putter to the side. In this manor he used the putter like a pendulum, stabilized by his left hand which he held across his chest and gripping the top of the putter around his right armpit. He was able to putt this way while looking directly at his target. And he putted very well.

I asked him about his style and how he came by it. He said he picked it up from the best amateur golfer he had ever seen. Keep in mind that this gentleman was the state amateur champ a few times himself. We played at a course that is particularly noted for its very fast and difficult greens. Needless to say he putted much better than I did, but that's not saying much.

Today, while I was looking for interesting products to showcase on GolfDash, I came across the 'L2 Lateral Line putter'. This is a putter that was built specially to putt in the same way as the gentleman I played against. There's interesting video on the website ( how it works, and why it may be a better way to put. It's very compelling. Now I'm one who never liked the long putters. I thought the R&A and USGA should have outlawed them. But as long as they are legal, I sure would like to give the L2 a try. It certainly seems a more natural way to putt. As the video on the L2 site says, if you told any Tour pro that you'd pay them $20,000 if they could roll a putt into a hole 20 feet away (no putter mind you), how would they attempt it? Exactly, everyone would face the hole. No one would stand sideways.

If anyone has tried this thing, I'd love to hear their impressions.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

GolfDash Survey

First, please forgive us for a few weeks absence. We have been extremely busy with our next phase of GolfDash development work which is consuming most of our time.

We truly value all the valuable comments our members have given us in the past. It is how we can continue to provide great golf information and build the web tools that our members (and non-members) believe most important.

To that end, we ask if you might take a minute out of your schedule (it really takes that long, unless, of course, you have plenty to say - which is fine too) to fill out our brief GolfDash Survey.

As a bonus we are offering a GolfRound Towel ($7.95 value) FREE to those who fill out our brief survey. The towel has been called, "One of the most innovative golf products to hit the market in years!" We do have a limited supply (about 50) so please hurry. Once they're gone they're gone.

Just send an email to with the headline "Survey Completed" and include your mailing address.

Click here for the survey: GolfDash Survey

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