Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fixing the Ryder Cup

By now, most golfers are quite familiar with the Ryder Cup competitions. It's Europe versus the US, with Europe winning most of the events over the last 15 years. Nothing wrong with that after the US seemed to own the cup for decades. If you look at the Master's top finishers, it's easy to imagine that Europe will win again this year. The US players in general are beginning to look old and tired. But I'm not writing to rant about that. I'm sure it will be fun to watch. I just think that it puts too much emphasis on nationalism when the world could probably do with less. It also leaves out some of the worlds best golfers.

I've got an idea for a professional golf competition that would be exciting, pit the best golfers in the world against each other and downplay nationality all at the same time. Instead of creating teams based on geography and politics, why not do it based on age. Golf is the one sport where players of significantly different ages can play competitively together. I'd make the dividing line at 35. If you look at the top players in the world, you start to get an idea for interesting this could be. Additionally, it would be nice to see the great players from Japan, Australia, South Africa, Fiji and anywhere else they may be from competing as well.

Want a little more spice in the mix, then add in the ladies. That just might be a spectacle that everyone would enjoy. And it certainly would help get across the concept that we all need to get along on this little spaceship we're on. If you've ever read Alister MacKenzie, then you know how strongly he felt that there was much more to golf than personal pleasure, he thought it had a significant civilizing effect as well. I can't disagree with that.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Mystery of Count Yogi

Who was Count Yogi? Yogi was born Harry Hilary Frankenberg in 1906. Yogi learned the game at age six, peering through the fence at a country club near his Chicago home and mimicking the golfers’ swings with a stick. He’d spent a lifetime performing trick-shot exhibitions and teaching; his students included Jack Dempsey, Bob Hope, John F. Kennedy. He’d played some pretty good golf, too. Of course, this was a time when golf was only played by the truly wealthy.

When he was about 6 years old and standing in a corn field, a voice came to him that said, "your brain is your body's greatest gift - use it. Watch the ball with your eyes, but put your brain eyes (like a blind person would) on the end of your stick (club head). Take the stick back and return it, circling under to loosen, standing tall and straight with perfect relaxed posture." This insight would form the foundation of his golf swing philosophy throughout his lifetime.

His feats are truly mindboggling. For example:

1. Shot 26-29 for a 55 at Bunker Hill Golf Course, a regulation course, winning the 1934 Chicago golf championship. Included two back-to-back holes-in-one (187 and 347 yards) while playing with Al Espinosa and Terry McGovern

2. Shot seven birdies in a row for a world tournament record (held for eighteen years) in the 1941 Chicago Open at Elmhurst Country Club.

3. Sixty-nine or under almost every round of professional career.

4. Seven rounds of eighteen-hole golf from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Not running-just proving infallible mental routine; 69, 66, 67, 66, 67, 68, 67, Bunker Hill Country Club, 1940

5. Eight birdies and two eagles in succession in a 58 at Paw Paw Lakes Links, Michigan, 1939.

and on and on.

Of course, there is a "Count Yogi System" that they are selling but perhaps there is something in his "infallible mental routine" and "boneless and musclelessly loose and fluent" ideas on the golf swing.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The best online handicap service

2006 is the 'Year of the Online Handicap Service' thanks to rule changes the USGA has made. You've probably noticed advertisements in the golf magazines or even at local golf retailers for online handicapping. GolfDash has just partnered with Isaacs Golf whom we believe has the best online service available today. They provide an 'official USGA' handicap by marrying the golfer with a local online club.

Isaacs also have some unique features which we think makes them the pick of the lot. You can print out custom scorecards for over 14,000 courses allowing you to track extra stats like number of puts, driving accuracy and up and downs. What's even better, you don't have to enter all this information by hand, just use your home scanner to input the data. Many courses now have combination Printer/Scanners which support this cool feature. For those of you who are really tech savvy, you can use your Blackberry to submit scores.

We also like that they are committed to improving the quality of handicaps. By requiring hole by hole scores and using sophisticated analytical tools, they can identify golfers who are manipulating their handicap. The old system of handicap committee review, by itself just can't keep up with the increase in the number of golfers keeping handicaps over the last 50 years. (Too many 14 handicappers shoot 75 in tournaments.) They've added unique online tools to make it easier for Handicap Committees to review member scores. What's also great is that this system allows you to post scores all year long and costs less than $30 annually. Please go here to sign up for your new GolfDash Online Handicap.