Tuesday, January 30, 2007

FedEx Cup Underbelly

As far as pro golf goes, the FedEx Cup looks pretty interesting. It may transform 'silly season' into an exciting series of competitive events. With $10 million for first place, it's going to keep everyone interested. You won't see Tiger or Phil opting to stay home and practice their game in the backyard given those stakes. The rest of the tour will be there too, with next year's tour eligibility on the line. On paper, it certainly appears it could be quite entertaining, though you can never be sure what exactly what will happen in a newly designed competitive format until you try it.

So why would anyone be negative about something that holds so much promise. Is there something dark lurking just under surface, ready to ruin a good thing. Here's what I'm thinking:

I'm not a big fan of TV, but I do get excited about watching golf. My primary complaint against programming is the commercials. I remember when they use to come only on the quarter-hour, half-hour and hour. I wasn't crazy about them, but it was clear we all had to do a little suffering so someone could cover the costs of this great form of entertainment. That was the 50's and 60's.

I don't know where things really went wrong, but commercials have infiltrated every form of programming like a computer virus on steroids. On most every channel, you now have to watch more commercials than programming. On top of that, we generally have to pay to have someone stand in front of us and pitch us the same crap ad infinitum and at a higher volume.

So why should the Fed Ex Cup be different than any other golf coverage. Just consider for a moment - where is all this extra purse money coming from? Someone has to fund this new competition. In the end, it's always you and me. We pay for it by listening to commercials. And bigger purses, mean more advertising, which means more commercials and less real coverage.

I hope the FedEx Cup at least has a chance to succeed, but if it ends up meaning that I have to sit through 3 minutes of commercials for every 1 minute of golf, then they'll have one less viewer in Rhode Island.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Better Golf Through Managing Spinal Tilt

I'm convinced that improperly managing spinal tilt versus the hips is one of the biggest problems that amateur golfers have. It's made a huge improvement in my own game. I first got turned onto this concept in Nick Bradley's book; 'The Seven Laws of Golf'. (I urge you to check it out at your local bookstore.)

As you address the ball you line the ball up in your stance, flex your knees and then bend forward at the hips. So far so good. I think most golfers have this idea down. Next comes the critical piece. Gripping the golf club puts your right hand lower than your left (reverse for lefties) and your spine has to tilt towards your back foot to accommodate this. And this is where most of us get into trouble.

It's important to keep your hips level when you do this. Only your shoulders tilt down towards your back foot, your hips must remain level. Your left side will feel stretched and your right side contracted (or shortened). Now start your backswing and make your turn while maintaining both the forward and backward tilt of your spine. Both of these tilts must be kept throughout the entire swing. At the completion of the swing the forward lean may disappear but a good golfer will still be holding the backward tilt of the spine that was established at address.

Try this without a club at home. Really focus on keeping the hips level and not allowing the spine to lose either tilt. If you haven't been doing this you are going to feel a real turn for the first time. If you can maintain this habit at the driving range, you're going to find it much easier to attack the ball from the inside, eliminating one of the main causes of a slice. Let me know how it works out!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

AceMagnetics -NEW Rally Band™

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pace of Play

We've all been a victim of slow play, but never have been responsible for it ourselves. Or so most of us think. But if there is so much slow play out there, then it stands to reason that quite a few of us must actually be playing slow. Not all the time, mind you. It doesn't take more than a slow hole or two for each foursome for the entire course to be backed up. So how do we fix it? And fix it we must or this sport will never grow.

First, what is slow play. I think that most would agree that the international standard for playing 18 holes is 4 hours. I'll bet 99 out of 100 golfers out there would love to get 18 holes in over the weekend in 4 hours. 5 hours is probably more the norm here in the US, with many rounds pushing the 6 hour mark. Ugh! And it's no fun having to wait before hitting almost every shot. You're playing well for a few holes, then you start having to wait and the birdies turn to bogeys.

So why does it take so long. Is it one slow foursome that plays slow early in the morning and screws everything up for the day. If so, then the fix is to get rangers on the course and have them do their job. I've heard of courses where you are told to 'pick your balls up folks and proceed to the next tee' if your deemed to be playing slow. Maybe a bit harsh, but it probably only happens once to you before you decide that keeping up is more important than finding that lost ball that will be unplayable anyway.

Some think it's courses that are too long for amateurs or looked at another way, too many amateurs play off the back ties when they have no business being there. Perhaps you should have to show your handicap card before attempting the tournament tees and then demonstrate you have a 300 yard drive if you want to play something 7000 yards or more.

I've been behind my share of slow foursomes and even threesomes. From what I observe, I'd say the following are the biggest problems. 1)Looking for lost balls. If you're playing on a course that's crowded, then be prepared to hit provisionals and keep play going. And if you hit a lot of shots where they can't be found, buy the cheap balls until you get better so you won't feel bad about leaving that Pro V behind. 2)Not playing 'ready golf'. If you don't know what that is, then you're part of the problem. Too many weekend golfers stand on ceremony when it doesn't do anyone any good. If you're ready to hit your shot and the guy further back is still mucking around for his ball, you have my permission to go ahead and hit. 3)Taking way too long to line up and hit putts. I'll admit that we are all probably negatively affected by what we see the pros do. But remember, these guys are playing for hundreds of thousands and in most cases they're on the green in regulation. They've earned the right to take some extra time to putt. For the rest of us, line up when someone else is putting and then step up and wack it when it's your turn. It may even help your putting if you reduce the time you have to think about that gnarly little 4 footer.

My suggestions are all well and good you might be thinking, but how do we get the golfing public in general to start putting them into practice. I think the best way is for the national organizations like the USGA and the major club manufacturers to take this on. It's in their best interest because faster play means more people will ultimately take up the game and fewer will drop out. And that sells rounds and equipment. After all, it's been decades since there was any growth in golf. They should get the message out with commercials during TV coverage of the pros. Get the golfing superstars to tell us that slow play isn't cool. Let the USGA lead the way by telling people that slow play hurts the game for everyone and that rangers will enforce the rules for the good of the game.

Too often the official bodies that manage sport have neglected their duty and, as a result, sports like soccer, basketball and hockey are withering before our eyes. Please don't let it happen to golf! And let each of us who does care set an example, it just might be catching. If you think it can't be done, then go to Scotland and try taking more than 4 hours for 18 holes - I pitty you laddy if you're foolish enough to attempt this life threatening stunt.