foozle vt foo-zled; foo-zling (1892): to manage or play awkwardly; a bungling golf stroke

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Already Miss The Game I Love

Okay, I admit it--I already miss playing golf. Just one month into our snow and temperature-imposed four month-plus off-season, I'm itching to get back out on the grass and pinch some shots off the turf and onto the greens. I want to swing hard from the tee box with a driver in my hands and stroke a delicate downhill putt confidently into the back of the hole. I want to try and bend a shot from the rough around a tree or two and splash one out of a greenside bunker that stops within tap-in distance of the cup. I want to walk purposefully down the fairway and enjoy the rattle that my irons make as they bounce off each other with every step I take. I want to hear the wind in the trees as the sun begins to set on a cool, spring evening, knowing that there are countless more rounds to be had in the long and adventurous summer ahead of me. I want to laugh with my buddies as I unexpectedly drain a 30-footer or chip-in from off the green and rejoice in the fact that I just made my wallet a little fatter. I want all the things that go along with playing golf on a regular basis. Instead I guess I'll have to settle for working out, getting stronger, improving the fit of my equipment, and gaining confidence every day that this coming year is going to be the one where I finally play up to my potential on a regular basis. Hope truly does spring eternal in the Great White North, where we can't play for an extended period of time and having nothing else we can do except dream of the golf that lies ahead of us.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Off-Season

Three weeks into my official golf off-season and my preparations for the 2009 campaign are comfortably underway. I've started swimming at the local community center to build some muscle tone and stay in shape. I've been swinging my weighted club outside (in the snow!) to keep the swing loose and hopefully make it a bit more powerful. I'm re-shafting my driver to give me a lower, more bore-ing trajectory off the tee and I've been to the indoor golf dome twice to keep my passion for the game stoked and alive. Now all I need are some juicy after-Christmas sales to update my wardrobe a bit with some new shirts and jackets and I'll be primed and ready come April and the Masters this Spring and the beginning of a new year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Are There Two Kenny Perrys?

I'm sure my eyes didn't deceive me but what other explanation could there be for what I saw on TV Sunday? I saw Kenny Perry participating in the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge at some non-descript golf course in the Las Vegas area and I saw Kenny Perry participating in the Merrill Lynch Shootout at some non-descript Greg Norman-designed golf course in the same time! Has the Silly Season of the PGA Tour reached a new low and actually aired two tape-delayed events that contained the same player at the same time? Or are there two Kenny Perrys? C'mon, man.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Harrison Frazar

Hardly anyone noticed but Harrison Frazar shot a 59 last weekend in the third round of the PGA Tour's Qualifying Tournament, arguably the most pressure-packed tournament a professional golfer at any level can play in. Literally playing for his job, Mr. Frazar did the unthinkable and went low, and I mean really low, in shooting his 59. I, for one, am impressed. Too bad the rest of the world doesn't really seem to care...If Tiger Woods would have farted in church I think there would've been more press coverage then there was for this epic round of golf played under the most-stifling pressure possible.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Weighted Club

I'm swinging the weighted club every night this winter--every night. It was 17-degrees Fahrenheit outside tonight but I ventured out nonetheless and swung the weighted club. I can feel the muscles stretching and strengthening while I swing and the cool, evening air is invigorating to my lungs. Best part? I'm not just outside swinging willie-nilly, I'm swinging with a purpose. I'm working on a stable foundation in my set-up and take-away, rotating the hips and chest on the downswing and releasing the club in my follow-through. Its awesome! I can't wait for next spring and my stronger, more aggressive golf swing. No more hitting fairway woods into par-4s for this guy! I'm finally going to be an opponent to be taken seriously on the golf course.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Shane Bertsch

I read a couple of weeks ago in a golf rag that Shane Bertsch had just missed the cut in the season's final tournament and in doing so had fallen to no. 126 on the money list, just narrowly missing out on fully-exempt status for the coming golf season. The gist of the story, though, was that we were to feel sorry for him because due to confusion surrounding his medically-exempt status for 2008 he didn't realize he hadn't already secured his card for 2009. I finished the article and couldn't help but feel a little annoyed at the fact that a guy who made well over half-a-million dollars this year playing golf (!) was actually trying to elicit sympathy from the work-a-day world of people who read golf magazines because he wasn't "smart enough" to understand what he had to do keep his job for the immediate future. I don't know of too many factory workers who can show up late for their shift and say they didn't know they were supposed to be there earlier who still keep their jobs for very long. And this guy had more then ample information from the Tour advising him of his situation that he claimed he "didn't read because he's on the road all the time and who has time to read all their mail anyways." Seriously, I don't feel sorry for this guy at all. I know he's no pampered superstar but still, he has a great gift for playing the game we all love and he couldn't figure out how to keep doing it against the best players in the world? No sympathy here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Golfing And Ice Skating

My buddies and I played golf this afternoon and saw something none of us had ever seen before. As we were coming down the 18th fairway we looked over and saw kids ice skating on the pond bordering the 10th green. Golf and Ice Skating are two games/past-times whose paths don't usually cross. I've always thought the seasons were complementary, if you will, but I guess I was wrong. Maybe it was too cold to be playing golf but I don't think so. A nice sweater and stocking cap and some choppers to keep the hands warm in between shots was all I needed to stay loose and comfortable. Sure, the ponds bordering the fairways and guarding the greens were certainly frozen. But who wouldn't enjoy hitting balls off of them and watching them bounce back onto the playing surfaces. I drove the ball just short of the green on the par-4 1st hole, a hole which measures some 350-yards in length. And I'm no John Daly, mind you. But the frozen water next to the fairway and fronting the green provided a perfect trampoline for a low draw with the driver off the tee and Boing! Boing! there goes the ball right up by the putting surface. It was crazy, indeed. Crazy fun.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Golf In The Dark

I played golf in the dark last night. Sure I've played as it was getting dark before--many times in fact. But yesterday, as I was feeling the end of the season drawing ever nearer, I decided to keep playing well into and after it was dark. It took a little more concentration to "feel" where the ball was going, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that balls hit reasonably well on a course you are familiar with can be found with just a little extra attention paid in the dark. If the ground hadn't been speckled with fallen leaves who knows how much easier it would have been to find my balls? Still, I managed to par two of the four holes I played in the dark (I lost four balls on the other two--thanks, leaves) and couldn't have been happier to find both my drive and my second shot on the par-5 finishing hole right where I expected them to be. If you've never tried it I urge all you serious golfers out there to play in the dark sometime before you hang up the spikes for good, preferably by yourself. You'll be amazed at what you discover about your game.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Rules of Golf

I realized the other day, after consulting the rules of golf, that I was in err on October 18th when my playing partners ball hit mine while it was at rest further down the fairway and I proceeded to play my ball as it lay. Turns out I should have replaced my ball where it lay before it was struck by his ball in motion but I did not. I should have assessed myself a two-stroke penalty for the hole and signed for a 7, not a 5. My apologies to the karmic gods of golf--I acted not out of selfishness but of ignorance and I promise it won't happen again. Seriously though, given that I and the rest of my playing companions were some 200-yards down the fairway when the collision of golf balls happened, I'm not sure how I was supposed to realistically assume with any accuracy where my ball had originally come to rest. It seemed more "accurate" and perhaps appropriate to just continue the hole playing my ball where it lay after it had been moved by my opponents ball. Oh well, live and learn.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Billiards On The Golf Course

Playing the par-5 7th hole at my home course yesterday a most curious thing happened to me. I'd hit a decent drive down the left side, just into the rough and short of the fairway bunker. It was sitting up nicely so I was able to get a 3-wood on it for my second and I made good enough contact with it to leave myself just under 100 yards for my third shot into the green. One of my playing partners (who had driven the ball some 30-yards further than me off the tee) was sitting in the middle of the fairway and prepared to challenge the green with another driver, this time off the deck. He hit it hard and low and somewhere around 100 yards from the green it landed, bounced once and then crashed into my ball, kicking it forward and to the right. My playing partners ball caromed directly sideways into the rough and behind a tree. Talk about rub of the green? It looked like we were playing billiards out there, for pete's sake. Not knowing how to proceed, I assumed that since it was impossible for me to accurately estimate where my ball actually lay before it was struck by my playing partners ball (I was roughly 200 yards away at the time of the collision) that I should just play it as lay after the contact. And for those of you who are interested, I proceeded to chip onto the green and make a routine two-putt par while my partner hit a miraculous low hook-chip to the back of the green and then dropped a bomb from about 30 feet that hit at least 5 different leaves on its way to the bottom of the cup for the most unlikely of birdies. Rub of the green, I guess.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Shank

I hate to even type the word (let alone say it) but I have to after what happened to me today. I went to the golf course this morning to play in a two-man tourney at my club and God help me if I didn't shank my opening tee shot about 80 yards forwards and 40 yards to the right. Luckily my partner got it over the water on our par-3 starting hole and I was able to chip us close enough to make a par. The next hole, however, was a par-5 and was to be played alternate-shot. I hit a decent drive so my partner hit a 3-wood up within 125 yards of the green. And then, you guessed it, I shanked our third shot 80 yards forwards and 40 yards to the right. We went on to double-bogey that hole and the next hole, a long par-4 that I half-shanked a 7-iron just to the right of the green for our third shot. About to cry and about to walk off the golf course, we managed to steady the ship and play the next four alternate-shot holes in 1-over par and then somehow (and to this minute I still don't know how) I managed to play the next six holes of better ball in 1-under par. What a comeback, I must say. We managed little in the last five holes of scramble (even par, we were) and finished the tourney as a team at 1-over. Considering we were 5-over after the first four holes and I was fighting the shanks something fierce, I'd say we had a pretty good showing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

'Tis The End of The Season (Almost)

Up north here in Minnesota the golf season is winding down. We can no longer post scores for handicapping purposes as of next Wednesday and as the nights come sooner and the mornings get colder, the playable hours of the day dwindle with each passing sunset. We're usually still playing in early November but only on weekends and more than likely only at run-down municipal tracks. The one closest to my house was open into December a few years back and they didn't even move the holes for the last three weeks of the year. The greens were as hard as my driveway and those oft-used hole locations were worn out and the size of a kid's basketball by the time they finally closed their doors for the winter. Its time to start thinking about improvements to the game that can only be made over the winter, like what new clubs to get and what new swing thoughts to start implementing. I'm sure I'll start jogging on the treadmill again and maybe even start doing some push-ups and sit-ups this year. I'm not getting any younger and golf courses certainly aren't getting any shorter. Oh well, maybe tomorrow I'll finally make my first hole-in-one. I've still got a few more weeks of dreaming about how I'm going to play the game I love.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cashmere Is God's Raingear

Ever wear a cashmere sweater in the rain before? I have and I've found it's a lot like wearing the latest and greatest waterproof raingear that's on the market these days. Except you don't get as hot in it--yes, it's even moisture wicking. Try it out sometime--I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Turning Stone Championship

Personally, I enjoy seeing the Tour Players playing golf on TV in stocking caps this time of year. But for the life of me I can't understand why the Tour agreed to play a tournament in upstate-New York in October? It seems like they're just asking for trouble with the weather, and we all know that if these guys can't go super-low in a non-major type tournament they're going to bitch and moan. Any chance this event last more than another year or two? I doubt it. Pretty soon I'm sure they won't play an event after Labor Day above the Mason-Dixon line. Enjoy it while you can, I guess. I sure am.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

10 Million Dollars?

Did Vijay Singh really just make $10 million-plus for just showing up and completing four rounds at the Tour Championship last week? That's amazing. I know a lot of hard work went into putting himself in position to claim such a prize, but seriously, $10 million for just showing up? Things have certainly gotten out of whack, if you ask me. I hate to say that it takes some of the fun out of watching golf on TV but sitting here pondering how I'm going to make my family's budget adjust to this sagging economy and the slow-down of our personal profitability, its all starting to seem a bit silly to me. Much like the NFL has begun to distance itself from the everyday fan by how much they're charging for parking, tickets, concessions, etc. at each game, I'm starting to think the PGA Tour is going down the same path. Who pays for these ridiculously large purses that golfers compete for each and every week? Corporate America fronts the money, sure, but you can bet your bottom dollar (pun intended) that they're making sure that we, the fan, ultimately pay them back for their support of the tour.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Putter Will Make You Money

I bought a new-used Scotty Cameron putter on eBay last winter and boy has that thing paid for itself this summer. Make putts--make money. Miss putts--lose money. Its that simple. So why don't people spend more time working on their putting? I don't know but I guess I won't labor about it, otherwise it would just be harder for me to beat them on the greens. I did make the mistake of getting my circa 62-model putter a bit damp one foggy morning and then covered her up and put her away for the week only to find she had rusted slightly upon my next unsheathing of her. Anyone got any suggestions on how to carefully remove said rust spots? I'd love to know because she looks like she has chicken pox now and that's no way for such a powerful weapon to present herself for battle each Saturday morning.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jay Williamson's Pants

Has anyone been watching the Viking Classic this week during the Ryder Cup? Me neither, but I did see enough late last night to bring up a question I've been wondering about for weeks: why does Jay Williamson wear his pants so high up his stomach? I know he's short and stocky but he looks silly, like an old man almost, with his pants so high up. Would someone please tell him that golf fans like me can't concentrate on the action when he's traipsing around the golf course looking so silly. And speaking of the Viking Classic, why did the PGA Tour think it was a good idea to have no event the week before the Ryder Cup and then play an opposite-field event the week of the Ryder Cup? That seems silly to me. People are missing out on that spoiled little brat Casey Wittenberg actually playing some decent golf this week, just like everyone thought he was going to do every week after his low-amateur finish at the Masters a few years back.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Andres Romero

This guy seems like a cool customer on the golf course. I don't know why I am so drawn to him when he's on TV or why I always seem to root for him when he's in contention. I think part of it has to do with the fact that he looks like the Calibos (minus the horns, of course), the main antagonist from the epic 1981 movie "Clash of the Titans." Perhaps its his reported humble beginnings growing up in Argentina that make me root for him as the eternal underdog? Whatever the case, I certainly hope he continues to play well and prosper on the PGA Tour. I'll certainly never forget his back-nine charge at Carnoustie in 2007--I was so moved by his bravery and bold shotmaking that I bought the same adidas shirt he was wearing that day so that maybe, someday, I could make a similar climb up the leaderboard at one of my clubs many less-important events. It never hurts to dream, I guess.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I hit 50-some bunker shots out of my practice bunker in my backyard today. I'm home with the wife and kids this week so I had some time to kill during nap time and thought I might as well use it constructively and get better out of the sand. I had two breakthroughs today with my technique too: 1) I'm bending my knees more at address, giving myself more of a feeling of getting ready to go down and hit through the ball, and 2) I'm trying not to release the club with my hands, keeping my right hand "under" my left through the impact area. Nothing earth-shattering, that's for sure, but I felt like I made some progress and that's half the battle.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The U.S. Ryder Cup Team

Who should Paul Azinger pick for this year's Ryder Cup team? I can't remember the last time I was so excited about the upcoming Ryder Cup matches--I think its because I'm relishing the idea of the U.S. team actually being an underdog this year and I love pulling for the underdog. If experience is what the team needs, then I think you can't go wrong with the likes of Steve Stricker, Rocco Mediate, Woody Austin and Scott Verplank. Stricker and Mediate don't necessarily have a lot of Ryder Cup experience but they've been around the game for some time and likely won't get too overwhelmed by the magnitude of the matches. For some fresh blood, however, I think Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker and J.B. Holmes might be solid choices. They might just play like they don't give-a-damn and maybe that's what the team has needed to play like these last ten or so years. To be honest, I wasn't even slightly disappointed when Tiger Woods announced he would be out of golf for the remainder of the year, and hence, would be missing the Ryder Cup. They haven't done diddly with his "Greatest Player of All-Time" moxy on their team so far so why should he presence even be missed this year?
My only concern is that Azinger is going to try and out-smart himself and make one, maybe two, out-of-left-field type picks and have a couple of really questionable players on the team. I hope he can put his own ego aside and make four solid selections come Tuesday morning and a couple of weeks from now we can all be rejoicing in a victory by our American team. Only time will tell, I guess--I'll be watching his press conference tomorrow, that's for sure.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Videotaping Your Swing

I videotaped my golf swing the other night for the second time this summer. I did it for the first time earlier in the season for no other reason than my wife had the camera out and I had a few minutes to kill with golf on the brain. I kind of forgot about that first session and then, the other night, I found myself home alone with the kids already in bed and a few hours of sunlight left before darkness would fall. What a perfect time to videotape my swing again, I thought. This time my taping session had a purpose, though. See I've recently come to realize that my tempo vs. distance debate might actually be all in my head. Maybe I could continue to have a good tempo and yet still achieve more respectable distance with all the clubs in my bag. I should just swing "harder" and see what happens. So I recorded three swings from two different angles of me swinging at my normal, much-envied "smooth" swing speed and then three more from both angles with me trying to swing "as hard as I can without falling over." Lo and behold, upon further review of the tape, there was almost no discernible distance in the look of my swing. If I didn't know that I was trying to swing harder in the second set of swings I'm not sure I would've been able to tell any difference in the two tapings. My conclusion? Maybe I can swing harder at the ball (assuming I can do it and still actually hit the ball) and not lose my game altogether. No pressure or anything, of course--my club's championship tournament is now less than a week away. Now or never, I guess you could say.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Game of Opposites

Golf is a game of opposites. To hit the ball in the air you must hit down on it. To draw it to the left you must swing out towards the right (and vice versa). To hit it further you must swing easier to assure solid contact. Then why did it take me almost ten years to realize that maybe, just maybe to really get better at the game when you're obsessed with it like I am, all you need to do is quit trying so hard to improve. Just let it happen, I guess.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Greatest Game of All

Golf requires a form of power or machismo off the tee, a calculating precision with the irons into the greens, a delicate touch and creativity around the putting surfaces and an almost zen-like focus and vision on the "dance floor" with the putter. All these things all rolled into one, eighteen or so times per round, played out millions of times a day all around the world. Would a non-golfer please enlighten me as to what other game requires so much of each of its competitors? I'm curious because I believe golf has no equal. What a game!

Friday, July 25, 2008

An Invitation to More Golf

We've all had that feeling where we hit the ball right smack-dab in the middle of the clubface and rejoice almost instantly in how purely the contact resonates through our hands, up through our arms and, if we're tuned in and really lucky, all the way into our hearts. We look up just in time to see the ball actually travelling towards the intended target, and more amazingly even, it appears that it won't land ten yards short like it often does but instead nuzzle itself up-close and personal-like with the flagstick. It's as if, for just a moment, we were indeed meant to play this crazy game we call golf, and it appears that maybe we could, in fact, play all-day, every day for the rest of our lives and not get tired of it. I call this Golf's invitation to golfers all around the globe to play more golf. The Game wants you to play it and it lets you know that by giving you the feeling, however fleeting it may be, that I just explained above. By all means, if granted this invitation, do everything you possibly can to heed its calling. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Anthony Kim

After hearing most of the pros complain about how hard the conditions were on day three at the British Open I got to say I'm becoming a big fan of Anthony Kim. His interview after his round today was simple--when asked what it was like out there Anthony Kim said "It was awesome. I love playing in weather like this. It's such a challenge." How refreshing...I wonder if the likes of Jerry Kelly were listening as they were dragging there whiny-asses home back across the pond with their tails between their legs. If you're expecting 80-degrees and sunny when you show up at the Open Championship you're either delusional or criminally stupid. However, if you show up prepared to enjoy whatever the course and the elements have in store for you than I think you're one step closer to winning. I sure hope Anthony Kim does win it someday--he's the kind of guy who deserves it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Swing Therapy

I find the very act of swinging a golf club to be therapeutic. Maybe that's not a revelation to most of you but it just became apparent to me this evening as I was watering the lawn (again!) that what I really needed/wanted to do to ease my tired and worried mind was just swing the club a few times. So I grabbed my trusty old sand wedge and took a few measured swipes at some dandelion shoots on the lawn and everything started to feel just right almost immediately. My muscles relaxed themselves, my brain began to exhale, and all my anxiety from another busy week of work and parenting and living all just seemed to fade away. Really, is there anything greater than this grand old game of golf? I don't know what I'd do without it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm A Nine Now

I got my latest handicap revision from the Minnesota Golf Association today and I'm a Nine now. I haven't been a Nine in almost two years. It's been well-chronicled the way my golf game has gone as of late, but it's official now that I'm a Nine. I have the same handicap as the No-Armed Golfer mentioned a few weeks (months?) ago in my blog. I'm a Nine now. I get a stroke now on the 1st hole of my home course, a seemingly benign par-4 of about 380 yards that seems to yield more bogeys than pars for guys like me. There is water in play off the tee, pinching the fairway in from the right. Smack-dab in the middle of my landing area, that's for sure. Funny thing is I've only hit into it once all year and that was the day I decided to play "smart golf" and hit a fairway wood off the tee. It all makes sense, I guess, since I'm a Nine now. At this rate I'll be a Ten by mid-August. Double-digits...jeez...At least I'll get a stroke on that diabolical 11th hole at my home course, the one that I seem to make more pars then bogeys on lately, etc., etc., etc.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Rise of the Handicap vs. The Deterioration of My Golf Game

With the tournament season just a few weeks away at my golf club I find myself walking the dangerous tightrope between my handicap index rising steadily (good) and the cause of said rise, namely the apparent dissolution of my golf game (bad). I often feel that my play and relative ability to score on the golf course are forever fluctuating and that I could feel substantially better about the state of my game if I just chose the "right" days on which to play. For instance, some days I get to the golf course and nothing feels right. My muscles seem tense, my clubs feel awkward in my hands, the tee markers and hole locations seem to be in their most uncooperative positions, the wind continues to swirl almost constantly into my face, etc. It is on these days that I really struggle and wonder if maybe I should have just stayed home, saving myself the mental anguish of having to digest yet another disappointing display on the golf course. Less than a week later, however, having done next-to no practicing and having learned next-to nothing new about the game, I'll show up at the course and warm-up like Jesus Christ on the range, bury every putt I casually stroke at on the practice green, then I'll stroll onto the course and shoot a couple-under my handicap, easily a couple-more-under had those two or three putts not lipped-out, etc. So where is this all going? Well I try and take solace in the fact that when my game appears to be falling apart, a) it probably isn't as bad as it seems, and b) as one Mr. Larry Nelson was once quoted, no matter what the current state of your game it will change soon enough--you better be ready for it to go either way. Perhaps, then, the ballooning of my handicap is actually tell me that the state of my game is about to change for the better and in fact I'm in prime position to capture some glory, if not even a trophy, in the upcoming tournaments at my club. If only I could request these tournaments be played on the "right" days (i.e. the days I'm destined to play well) then I shouldn't have any problem, should I?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Parable of The Horse

I seem to recall from my schooling days many, many years ago that there was a parable about a horse that went something like this: a young man wanted to grow up and be the strongest man in the land so he decided he would prove himself one day by being able to lift up a full-grown horse. This seemed silly looking at the boy and a full-grown horse so he figured out that to do this he would have to start with a baby horse (of course) and pick him up every day until eventually both he and the horse would be full-grown and he would have accomplished his task. It went something like that, anyway...
So I was thinking last night as I was drifting off to sleep that there is an obvious correlation between this parable and the game of golf. As we get older we get stronger and longer with our shots on the course, until a point where we peak physically and fundamentally. At that point we continue to get older (we always will!) and eventually start getting weaker and shorter with our shots until ultimately we give up the game because it just isn't fun anymore when it takes you five full shots to reach the green on your favorite par-4.
Perhaps what we need to do then is figure the absolute farthest distance at any given time that we can hit our driver, say, and then everyday stay on the driving range until we've hit one that distance or greater. That way we'll never lose distance and live happily ever after because we certainly couldn't get so old and frail in one day's time that we couldn't hit the ball as far as we did the day before, could we? Could we...?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Golf Without Shoes Must Be All The Rage

Not since Sam Snead supposedly played 9 holes at Augusta without spikes on has there been so much buzz in the golf world about people playing high-level competitive golf without their feet properly attired. First, Nick Faldo said that Padraig Harrington likes to warm-up without a shoe on just his left foot so that his weight naturally flows that way through his swing. (Come to think of it, I might try that at the range this afternoon. But I digress...) Then I see footage of some guy I've never heard of playing in the Nationwide Tour's Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic this past week in Canada in just sandals. But they weren't just any old sandals mind you, and not even "golf" sandals. They were the kind with the little thing that goes between your first and second toes (I call them flip-flops)--no biggee I guess except the guy also had socks on under those flip-flops, thereby crushing all that cotton between his toes. And he shot 4-under that day! And finally, I read in my Golf Weekly magazine this morning that some guy I've never heard of played the last 6 holes of his recent match in the British Amateur without his shoes because he had such bad blisters on his feet because of them. And he didn't have an extra pair in his bag? This is becoming an epidemic. Everyone remembers the do-do in the Golf Channel's "The Big Break" who played barefoot don't they? Well I don't think that ever caught on, thank goodness. But this is starting to seem like more than just a trend. Maybe people have been doing it with this kind of regularity for quite some time and the media just hasn't paid as much attention to it. I don't know. Whatever the case, rest assured that I'll keep paying attention to the fad and keep reporting on it should it continue to make the news.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Internal Struggle

The vast majority of my regular golf buddies comment quite frequently that I have great tempo in my golf swing. In fact some of them even insist that I hit before them off many tee boxes so that they can have a fresh visual in their minds of my smooth tempo before they take their turn to hit. Funny this is, though, that the same majority of these buddies of mine who admire my tempo also hit the ball 15-20 yards further than me off the tee and are at least 1 (if not 2) clubs longer than me with their irons. So I ask you, gentle reader, if I've stumbled into some diabolical catch-22 where my tempo makes my swing work, but to attempt to keep up with the Jones' I'd have to swing harder and would likely mishit my shots just that much more resulting in the very same distance as before. What's a once-a-week golfer to do? Help!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Favorite Kind of Golf Grass

I can't decide which kind of golf grass is my favorite--zoyszia, paspalum, or kikuya? They all have such fun names to say. Here in the midwest we only get boring bent grass to play on, unfortunately, and its not much fun to say either. I think for now kikuya is my favorite, but give me some good-old seashore paspalum any day and I'll be happy. If none is available, I'll happy plod along atop a hearty expanse of zoyszia any day of the week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I Got Mad Playing Golf Yesterday

For the first time in my life I got really mad playing golf yesterday. My back has been sore lately, actually since the birth of my second child three weeks ago (is it stress?) so I haven't been playing much golf. My wife gave me the green light to go out yesterday because it was, after all, Father's Day Weekend. I was scraping it around for the first six holes, two over par including two lip-outs. I proceeded to bogey the next five holes in a row thanks in part to little or no power off the tee (the back?) and absolutely no confidence in my swing going into the greens. My chipping was mediocre and I continued to narrowly miss putts. After making par at the easy par-5 12th hole I'd hit a decent tee shot on the 13th. With 150 yards left to the flag and facing a stiffening wind, I decided to try and hit a punch-draw 5-iron from a hanging lie in the rough around a tree. Of course I smothered it low and left into the tree, but still I was left with a little 9-iron to the middle of the green. I hurriedly hit the shot well left of the green and could no longer control my temper. I cussed and slammed my club into one of the legs of my stand bag, bending the leg and breaking the pivot mechanism that makes the legs cast open when the bag is set down at a slight forward angle. I'm embarrassed to admit it but I lost my cool. Just two weeks earlier I had played my best round of the year, a 78 that easily could have been a 75, casually strolling around the course and taking what it gave me all the while, standing over each shot simply thinking "I'm just happy to be here." So why couldn't I keep it going? I need to get mentally tougher, of course, but that's the hardest part of improving at this often diabolical game of golf.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Slow Play, Part II

God bless Peter Oosterhuis and Nick Faldo for criticizing, nay even ridiculing, Jeff Overton for how incredibly slow he was playing in Thursday's first round of the Stanford St. Jude Classic. If he wasn't tied for the lead at the time I'm sure the Golf Channel would have been nowhere near him with their TV cameras because every time they put him on he would take a full practice swing, back away from the ball, look at the shot again, step up to the ball and take another full practice swing and then finally (finally!) hit the damn thing. Some of his putts he looked at for so long and from so many different directions that I thought he would never actually hit them. While standing over one of them Oosterhuis said "There's 63 more holes to play, son. Pick a line and brush it in." Kudos again for the cameramen spotting a wayward turtle in one of the bunkers and to Faldo for commenting later that the aforespotted turtle was back on the tee waiting to hit as Overton looked at another shot for another painstaking eternity. Good TV, for sure. What's it going to take, seriously, to get the PGA Tour to do something about this epidemic? I'm at a loss.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Why Is The Champions Tour So Boring?

Seriously, why is the Champions Tour so boring to watch on TV? It's like watching the LPGA if you ask me, only substitute over-the-hill guys for the good looking ladies. I like Jay Haas, I like Fulton Allem, I like D. A. Weibring, I like Fuzzy Zoeller, I like Lanny Wadkins but that's about it. Brad Bryant? Boring. Morris Hatalsky? Please. Allen Doyle? I can't even look at the guy's swing without getting sick to my stomach. Maybe if they'd just call it the Senior Tour again I might get more excited about it but I doubt it. Maybe if they'd play cool, older courses that the length of today's PGA Tour pros have rendered obsolete (see Merion, Seminole, Cypress Point, etc.) I might get excited...but I doubt it. Put it out to pasture, I say. It's just a glorified "Hit And Giggle" that for some reason keeps getting put on television.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bubba Watson At The Memorial

What happened to Bubba Watson at the Memorial Tournament this week? I'm playing fantasy golf for the first time this year and my picks for this week came down to defending champion K.J. Choi and either Bubba Watson or Kenny Perry. I decided to go with Kenny Perry (thank goodness!) but was keeping a close eye on my third choice, Mr. Bubba Watson, all the same. He went out in the morning on Thursday and was 4-under through 7 holes and I was really starting to kick myself for my decision. Later I see he finished the first round at even par and thought maybe I wasn't such a dodo, especially after Kenny Perry birdied 6 holes in a row on his back 9 Thursday afternoon. Friday Bubba shoots an 84 and Perry stays tied for the lead after his 36 holes are in the books--I'm a genius, right? Maybe, maybe not. But still, what happened to Bubba Watson? For a guy that Tiger Woods likes to play practice rounds with because he works the ball more than anyone on the Tour these days, he sure does seem susceptible to huge numbers some days. Does he work the ball too much? Is he a head-case who gives up when the going gets tough (a la John Daly)? I want to know more. I think this guy is an incredible talent and a true throw-back to the days when guys played the game like it was meant to be played. Hit the ball and go find it and hit it again. He's never taken a lesson--in fact he's said that if he ever has to take a lesson he'll quit playing golf. He hits it farther than any human ever should and he does it all with a pink shaft in his driver. So where is he on the weekends? C'mon Bubba, let's get it together. You're great for the game and we need you to be more relevant so people take notice. I'm rooting for you, Mr. Watson.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

9-Handicapper With No Arms

I saw a feature on the Golf Channel the other night about a 40-something Guy who was born with no arms who has taken up golf and managed to whittle his handicap down to a 9. I mean nothing disparaging towards this Guy--in fact, after seeing the video of his one-handed swing I am in awe of his ability. But it got me thinking that as a reasonably healthy and coordinated man in my 30's who has two perfectly good arms hanging from his shoulders I have no excuse for not being able to play this game to at least as well as a man with no arms. The birth of my second child last week has me thinking about a lot of things, the very least of which is my golf game. Nonetheless I've still been thinking about my golf game and how much (or how little) I'm going to be able to play in the coming months and years and how I'm going to enjoy this all-consuming game that I've become so fascinated with, especially if I'm not able to let it consume me like it used to. I've decided I'm going to have to be happy just to be able to play and I'm going to play well because I have before and I'm smart enough to know how to keep playing well even if I can't practice/play as much as I'd like. All this because of a man with no arms and his single-digit handicap.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Building A Putting Green In My Backyard?

With the way I putted today don't be surprised if I have a new post in the near future about how I'm building a putting green in my backyard. If I could only afford the mower and figure out a fool-proof way of keeping my wiener dogs from tearing it up, I'd probably have started building one already. I've got to find the center of the putter face soon or I'm in big trouble on the golf course. I've got to, got to, got to.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Building A Bunker In My Backyard, Part II

Last weekend I actually started building (digging, mostly) the bunker I've spent years dreaming about having in my backyard. The hole is big enough, the mounding around it is sufficient enough to require a lofted splash to get out of it, the drain tile and pea pebble rock are in place, and just today I added some fresh topsoil and sod to make it blend in with the rest of the yard. Now all that is left is to cut and place the landscaping fabric (it'll keep the weeds out, I'm told) and order in a yard or two of sand and I'm ready to start hitting it stiff from "the beach". I can't wait! And best of all, my two-and-a-half year-old thinks it's the coolest thing to play in already, and there isn't even any sand in it yet. I love spending time with her--it's been an extra-special treat to the whole bunker-building experience for me.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My First Birdie of the Year

I made my first birdie of the year last night on the 18th hole at my home course (my ninth and final hole of the evening) by curling in a downhill 10-footer. I know, stop the presses--a seven-handicapper makes birdie! But it was important to me so I'm sharing it with you, okay? I've got three full rounds under my belt so far this year and I'm playing like a fifteen so maybe, just maybe, it was what I needed to finally get my game back in the groove. Don't worry, I'll keep you all/both of you posted on the all the gory details to follow.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lee Westwood

I never thought I'd say this but I think I'm starting to like Lee Westwood. Apparently, with his game in disrepair in the last few years, he decided to fire his entourage of swing coach, psychologist, personal assistant, etc. and just started working out and playing golf for fun like he used to when he was younger. Lo and behold, he's lost a lot of weight (and consequently looks less like a spoiled, buck-toothed fancy-lad from the Olde Country) and is playing competitively at world-class golf tournaments. Another breath of fresh air. I'd love to be a fly on the wall if he and Boo Weekley ever got paired up at a Ryder Cup.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Boo Weekley

How can you not like Boo Weekley? This guy is true-blue, a real person (not a robot with an entourage at his side) who plays the game of golf we all know and love and does it with his own personal style. He's laid back and cool, a real breath of fresh air on today's PGA Tour. He even had his mother as his pro-am partner at his return to the Heritage Classic this week, returning as defending champion no less. And it looks good for his chances of defending that title--I hope he does it, too. The PGA Tour needs more guys like Boo Weekley, camouflage pants and all.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Snow During The Masters?

Yes, its been snowing here in Minnesota as I watch a tradition unlike any other, the Masters on CBS. Sad but true--I'm usually playing my own brand of golf by now then settling into my favorite spot on the couch to watch that glorious golf tournament on TV well into the evening. The manager at my golf club told me today that he can't remember the last time we'd gone this far into April without opening for play. Global warming, eh? It's been at least 20 years, he said, since we've been this late taking it to the course. I guess I've waited almost five months now to play so what's another week? Here's the rub, though--my wife is due to give birth to our second child in four weeks so I've really got to get after it before she does because I'd be a fool to think I'll be playing anywhere near my usual two rounds a week after number two comes along. At least number one is getting old enough where she wants to go to the golf course with daddy. Looks like a long summer of chipping and putting with the little one, if you ask me.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Squirrel at the Masters

As I was watching the many, many hours of Masters pre-tournament coverage the last couple of days I noticed that the Golf Channel kept using the same moving picture of the Augusta National clubhouse as they would head to commercial. I noticed this because I kept seeing a squirrel run across one of the branches of the big oak tree in front of said clubhouse and wondered after the first few times "How many squirrels do they have in Georgia?" Then it donned on me that they must keep replaying the same footage. Within minutes I came to this stunning realization--I could spend the rest of my life trying to get inside the hallowed gates of Augusta National to witness the greatest sporting event in the world and quite possibly never succeed. If I were a squirrel, though, I could just walk right down Magnolia Lane and no one would even bat an eye. Interesting, huh? I've never wanted to be a squirrel before--I guess there's a first time for everything.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Colored Golf Glove

Whatever happened to the colored golf glove? And by colored I mean non-white. You see pairs of rain gloves and cold weather gloves for sale in black but other than that I don't see anything that isn't white. Even some six or seven years ago when I started getting interested in the game you could buy a dark green or navy blue footjoy glove. Good luck finding one of those now. Do old ladies still have a secret pipeline to soft pastel-colored golf gloves? I hope so for their sakes, and for the sakes of their outfits. Footjoy's SciFlex glove was available last year with some interesting accent colors but still the majority of the glove was white. And I've noticed a lot of the major retail outlets have those color-splashed gloves on close-out, making me think even their days are numbered. Come on, manufacturer's--give us some variety when shopping for gloves, would ya please?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What's Left To Blog About?

Spring officially starts on Thursday and the snow here should be gone by the end of next week. The ground will be sloppy but golf courses will be opening in my neck of the woods before I know it and I couldn't be more excited. Am I ready to play? You bet I am. I've got a new driver and a new putter and I've been working on my swing all winter. I've got a couple of new shirts and enough new golf balls to last me until at least May. I've got a new attitude and a new outlook on the game--its to be happy with the golf life I got. The only thing left to do is take it to the course.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thank You

Thank you, Sean O'Hair, for heeding my call last week for someone other than Billy Mayfair to win the PODS Championship. I know you didn't do it just for me but I thank you as if you did anyway. I'll continue to root for you like you are my older brother that I never met (or something like that) and wish you the best in your future golfing endeavors.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Billy Mayfair

Watching this guy putt is painful. I can't believe he ever finished number two on the PGA Tour money list (like he did in 1995, behind only Greg Norman) with a putting stroke so awful. He used to cut across the ball with a regular-length putter and traditional grip and that was bad enough. Now he's using a long putter (or broom) yet he's anchoring it in his chest like a mid-length putter and gripping it like one too. What an abomination! If he wins the PODS Championship today I will be shocked. Please Geoff Ogilvy or Brandt Snedeker or anyone, save us from having to watch this guy putt all day long. I'm begging you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Slow Play

We all agree that slow play is a serious problem with golfers today. Can we also agree that we've never met anyone who would ever agree that they are part of the slow play problem? If its always "somebody else's fault" that your round took five hours don't we have an even bigger problem on our hands? Like one of honesty and responsibility? If its always the group in front of you that's holding you up, have you ever thought that it was the group in front of them that was actually the problem? Or that maybe the group behind yours is thinking the same thing about your group? Speed up, people--don't let your ineptitude on the golf course ruin somebody else's "walk in the park."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Golfers Need An Off-season

The only good thing about being a die-hard golfer in a cold-weather place like Minnesota is that you have enough time away from the game to forget how disappointingly average at it you really are. Yes, you have just enough distance between your last tee time and your next one to delude yourself into thinking you are a considerably better golfer then you really are and that can be fun, if you're into that sort of thing. The Spring thaw brings with it a new season of golf (which is nice) but it also ushers in the harsh realities of how crooked and short your drives are, how inaccurate and unpredictable your iron shots are, how much more your touch around the greens resembles that of a rapist and not a pickpocket, and how achingly difficult putting can be when you're always 20-plus feet away from the hole. Sad but true--winter isn't always the worst season in which to find yourself if you are crazy about playing golf.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Luke Donald vs. The Bear Trap

I know I'm on record as saying Steve Elkington has the prettiest golf swing I've ever seen but after watching Luke Donald today at the Honda Classic I'm starting to think there's a serious contender to Mr. Elkington's throne. This guy is classic and perfect every step of the way and I could waste hours of my time just watching him hit golf balls. Sounds weird, I know, but it's the truth. On the contrary, though, NBC is playing up this damn Bear Trap at PGA National so much that I'm not sure I can stand to watch three more hours of their coverage tomorrow. A par three with water in front followed by a par four with water all around and then, gasp, another par three with water in front of the green. Sounds brutal, I know. Brutal enough to have a silly name like "The Bear Trap"? Of that I can't be sure--all I can tell you is that I'm sick of hearing about it.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Golf Season Is Right Around The Corner

Tomorrow is the first day of March and that means we're officially entering the month where I have a chance to start playing golf again. Depending on the weather, I've been able to play here in Minnesota in March before, though its usually quite soggy and hence somewhat frustrating. At least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, though. Real golf is less than a month away and I couldn't be happier. That's all I got.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New Year's Resolution

Generally speaking I'm not a big New Year's Resolution kind of guy, but this year I felt compelled to make one. And why am I blogging about it in late February and not, say, January 2nd or 3rd? Well partially because I forgot about it, but mostly because it has to do with the coming golf season and mine (regretfully) is still a month or so from starting.
I have resolved to try and be happy with the amount of golf I get to play this season, instead of bemoaning all the times I'm not able to play when I really feel like I should be able to. See my wife is pregnant with our second child and she's due to give birth some time in mid-May. I know I'm not going to get my usual 60 or so rounds in this season so I'm trying to convince myself that I can (and will) be happy with whatever amount of golf I do get to play. Heck, some people don't even have the opportunity to play once in a year, so I guess compared to that any amount I get to play will be gravy.

There Are No Good Swing Thoughts

If you're thinking about anything other than your target when looking down at your golf ball you are doomed to fail. "Head down, left arm straight, etc." will get you nowhere fast on the golf course, that's for sure. The most you can hope for at that point is to be slightly disappointed. On the range? Maybe, but only long enough to get the feeling in your swing that you'll need to be able to call up on demand once you're actually playing the game for real. Target, target, target--that's all you can afford to think about when you're in the process of swinging the golf club when it really counts.

Some Personal Discoveries

I've recently been spending a lot of time putting in the basement with my new Scotty Cameron Circa 62 model no.1 putter (black finish--ooh la la...) and have discovered a sure-fire way to consistently make a nice, smooth stroke through the ball. If I concentrate on having good posture and focus my attention on the tension I'm feeling in the muscles of my lower back, my arms can't help but swing freely away from and back through the ball, producing delightfully solid contact with the ball (almost) every time.
I've also been spending a lot of time hitting balls at the indoor driving range off of artificial turf into a teflon baggie some 85-yards away. Not the ideal learning environment, I admit, but I have made some significant "discoveries" there this winter as well. For one, if I begin to be even slightly self-conscious as to any discomfort or irregularity in the grip of my right hand on the club, I am almost paralyzed to the point of being unable to get the ball off the ground. Its scary, to say the least, because though I'm no professional I like to think of myself as at least a competent amateur player. And when something so minor and seemingly unimportant as the feeling you're receiving from one of your hands on the club is enough to make the swinging action almost impossible it gives you pause for a moment, at least long enough to realize that this game is actually really hard. To make those naughty thoughts go away I first try and concentrate solely on the grip of my left hand, and if that doesn't work I put down the club and go practice putting some more.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

An Early Morning Blog

It's 4 a.m. and I'm watching taped coverage of the Mayakoba Golf Classic from yesterday's action in Mexico. It sure looks warm and sunny there...Corey Pavin is carving shots under the wind. Nick Price is striking the ball so purely he probably doesn't even know the wind is blowing 25-30 mph. Greg Norman threw up all over himself in the morning round (didn't see it, just heard about it) but all is well with his empire, no doubt. The Golf Channel had tape of his fiancee Chris Evert giving him a kiss as he walked down the 18th fairway. So sweet. This young Australian David Lutterus seems interesting. A little bit flashy and excitable and all dressed in black. I wonder if we'll ever hear from him again. My old favorite Neal Lancaster made a brief appearance on the second page of the leaderboard but he has all-but disappeared again just as quickly. I remember reading something about him in a golf rag where they said he only went into the tour-sponsored fitness trailers to get BenGay for his aching muscles and would be smoking cigarettes all the while. How cool is that? We won't see another like him again, of that I'm sure. I thought Spencer Levin was going to be worth getting excited about but I couldn't tell you where he's playing these days. Young, brash, with an up-turned collar and a mouth full of expletives--worth watching as far as I'm concerned, if only someone was covering the tournaments he's playing in these days. And speaking of Where Are They Nows, where's Ricky Barnes? My wife had a crush on him something fierce, so much so that I almost got her to go watch the local Nationwide Tour stop with me a few years back because he was scheduled to play in the event. Does he still even play the game?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fast Greens

I hate fast greens. I don't play on them enough to be comfortable putting on them and what's even worse, I've found even my short game becomes very tentative when I'm confronted with such surfaces. The delicate chips and pitches around the greens become that much harder when you're afraid your ball is going to take off and run forever when it does finally hit the green. Give me 8-9 on the stimpmeter and I'm a happy golfer. Anything more and I'm nearly paralyzed with the fear of an embarassing 12-foot comebacker for par.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Playing Under Pressure

"When you're right on the cut number and you're hitting the ball all over the place and you've got to make par on the last hole to make the cut, now you're choking your guts out. All you're trying to do is hit the ball in the fairway instead of trying to make a good swing. Suddenly you got rubber coming out from between your fingers. I have hit the ugliest dog putt when I was simply trying to two-putt and make the cut. It looked like I threw the ball down there and then threw up on it to make it stop."
--PGA Tour journeyman Brad Bryant describing the pressure some of the less-heralded players face every week on tour

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ben Curtis

This guy has got to be the least-interesting interview on Tour. I've yet to see him say anything that wasn't 100% cliche and he always delivers it in a complete monotone, I'd-rather-be-anywhere-but-here voice that drives me nuts. I get the feeling he'd be about as much fun to sit down and have a beer with as someone who doesn't drink. And not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm just saying...The guy wins the British Open in almost surreal fashion and then all-of-a-suddenly everyone wants to talk to him. I can see him running out of things to say after a couple of months of being bombarded by the press, especially after spending so many years being completed ignored by them. But now he's almost five years (or is it six?) removed from his career-changing victory and he's still got nothing to say. I give him credit for turning out to be a better golfer than most people projected, and god bless him for flying the NFL colors in every city he plays in, but I can only cut the guy so much slack. Act like you care or have an interesting (maybe even non-golf related...gasp!) thought in your head, please? It's important to golf nuts like myself to feel like the players I admire so much for their skill at this wonderful game also have something to offer to society as a whole. Otherwise watching golf on TV just feels like idol worshipping and I'm pretty sure that's not good for my soul.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Casey Martin

I haven't thought much about Casey Martin in a while and probably wouldn't have ever again had Golf Digest not run such an interesting interview with him in their most recent issue. For those of you who didn't read it, he's now the golf coach at the University of Oregon and seems to be doing just fine, thank you. It sounds like he's on the verge of losing his leg at anytime but that hasn't deterred him from stay intimately involved in the game of golf, a game he obviously loves very much. What was most interesting about the interview, though, was his telling of his fervent belief in the existence of Bigfoot. And not just one of them, mind you. He thinks there are multiple Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) and that we'll all agree with him soon as they will be "discovered" in the not-too-distant future. He even claims to know someone who is not insane (his words) who has seen one of them in the nearby Oregon forests--they're real, I guess. Is he nuts? Am I nuts for writing about this? Somebody send me a life preserver, please.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Putting Tip From A Stranger

A good friend of mine's older brother (we'll call him Aaron) was hanging around the local muni a few years back, stroking putts on the practice green as he waited for his brother (my aforementioned good friend--we'll call him Brett) to meet him for a quick nine holes. Aaron was having a hard time getting the relative speed of the greens to translate into the length and weight of his stroke and was getting visibly frustrated (he does that quite often, actually) as his putts continued to come up short or motor past the hole. Feeling a presence behind him coming out of the trees from the direction of the parking lot, Aaron thought it was Brett and turned around to greet him only to find that it was someone else, a stranger with no clubs and nary an outfit that bespoke a golfer. The stranger told Aaron to imagine the sound of the ball going into the hole as he stroked his putt and then continued on his way, past the clubhouse and down the hill towards the creek that fronted the 18th green. Brett would show up a few minutes later and he and Aaron would head out for the nine holes they had planned to play, only to continue for nine more in almost complete darkness as Aaron was having the round of his life. He ended up breaking 80 for the first time that night, thanks in large part to an unbelievably efficient evening on the greens. Who was the stranger and where did he come from? Did he actually exist or did Aaron just imagine him? To this day no one knows and frankly I don't think anyone cares. The tip is still a winner as far as Aaron is concerned and I'm inclined to agree.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Blogger Hits A Wall

Its the middle of February, its 7 degrees outside and I haven't played golf in almost 3 months. It will be at least 6 more weeks before the snow melts and I can honestly say that I'm starting to lose my mind without being able to play the game I love. What ever happened to global warming and El Nino. I could use a little of each up here in Minnesota right now. Is anybody listening? Does anybody care? Aargh...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Indoor Golf

My 2-year old woke up yesterday morning and all she wanted to do was play golf. She carried her putter around the house all the while saying "let's play golf" or "let's go to the golf course, daddy" or "let's put our golf clothes on". It was enough to make my heart flutter but the problem is that it was only 4 degrees fahrenheit outside yesterday (and it has since cooled off even farther to a balmy -8 degrees this morning) and the ground was covered with snow.
Not wanting to waste such precious desires on the part of my daughter, I tried to find an indoor putt-putt place to take her in these fair Twin Cities but ultimately only came up with the practice putting green at the local Golfsmith store. We had a blast but I couldn't help but feel a little cheap for not buying anything and a lot nostalgic for the days when we could see real green grass under our feet as we practiced our putting together. A couple more months and maybe we'll be back on the links. I sure hope so.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Kevin Costner at Pebble Beach

I'm no zealot when it comes to praising Kevin Costner and his acting acumen but damn if I don't think its pretty cool that every time he plays in the Pro-Am at Pebble Beach he's smartly dressed in shirt and tie. It's old-school, like way old-school and I like it. I've actually been on the verge of doing it myself on a few special occasions but I've always chickened out at the last minute. Maybe this spring, when the snow finally melts and I can hide it ever-so-slightly under a sweater or jacket, I'll bust out the shirt and tie too and try and channel some of the spirits of the games original greats like Vardon and Jones and Travis et al. Maybe just maybe...
And then I go and turn on the telly this afternoon and there's Kevin Costner sans tie. What are the chances? As soon as I praise someone for their fashion sense and give them props for understanding the history and traditions of this great game, ka-blam! They slap me in the face by wearing just a sweater vest and khakis?! Oh well, maybe next year...

Friday, February 8, 2008

Shouting At Your Golf Ball

Have you ever noticed that the better the golfer (or the better the golfer thinks he is) the more likely he is to shout at his golf ball while its in the air? "Get down!" or "Go!" are two of the more common things you'll hear shouted at someone's ball and I can't help but think that neither of them do any good except to prove to your playing partners that you're partially insane or completely delusional. The pros do it all the time, probably because they're control freaks and can't stand the imperfections of changing wind conditions and being between clubs. I think too many amateurs do it as a form of mimicry of their professional idols. How many times have you played with a 15-handicapper who hits his 8-iron 130 yards but pulls it out for a 150-yard shot, swings at it like an ape going after a fresh stack of bananas and then yells "go!" as soon as its airborne and heading straight for the ditch just short of the green? Crazy, indeed. Just hit the 6-iron, be quiet and enjoy two-putting for par.

Monday, February 4, 2008

J.B. Holmes

During the past Sunday's coverage of the FBR Open in Phoenix, CBS announcer Gary McCord was talking about the eventual winner J.B. Holmes' swing and how it came to be as short and powerful as it is today. Apparently, McCord talked to Holmes sometime during the week and J.B. told him that he first made the varsity golf team as a 3rd grader (a 3rd grader!) and to be able to keep up with the older kids he started hitting the ball with both feet off the ground. Yes, he would swing so hard at it that both feet would leave the ground as he made impact with the ball, Happy Gilmore-style. How crazy is that?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sport vs. Game

I can't tell you how many times I've gotten into arguments with my friends about whether golf is a sport or just a game. Usually late at night and after quite a few coctails, I might add, but still a relevant discussion as far as I'm concerned.
On the one hand I firmly agree that a sport cannot be played well while consuming alcohol and I'm living proof that golf can be played well while slightly inebriated. I've had some of my best rounds while not-so-casually sipping beers (and also some of my worst, mind you) so I'd say there's strike one against Golf As A Sport. Generally speaking I think you should be in decent physical shape (a.k.a. an athlete) to excel at a sport and again I've played numerous rounds with incredibly out of shape/overweight golfers and been amazed at how well they've gotten their ball around the golf course in so very few strokes. Strike two against Golf As A Sport, I guess.
On the contrary, when I think of 'games' I think of things like dodge ball, horseshoes, lawn bowling, hide-and-go-seek--stuff that you wouldn't necessarily need too much preparation to be able to excel at. Just being reasonably coordinated and aware of the few simple rules will do you well enough in these games to at least not be the worst one in the contest. This doesn't sound like golf to me either.
So which is it--a sport or a game? I think I've finally figured out the answer--the game you and I play is just that, a Game, while the one the pros play is definitely a Sport. How's that for a cop-out? Seriously, though, I believe its the mental aspect of the competition that separates the two versions of golf more than anything else. To be a successful tournament golfer you have to have the focus and the mental toughness to hit the shots when you need them the most, not just when no one is looking and no one except you really cares. So golf is both a sport and a game, I guess. Maybe that's why so many people love it so much.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Wearing Golf Shoes To Watch A Golf Tournament?

The first professional golf tournament I ever attended was the Amana VIP-Classic way back in the early 80's while growing up in Iowa. I don't remember a thing about the golf except that somehow I got picked to be one of the bat boys at the celebrity softball game which accompanied the tournament and while performing said task I was able to secure the autographs of Johnny Bench and Ernie Banks on the back of my baseball glove. If you look real hard you can still see them now some 20 years later.
Fast forward to 2002 and there I was, 30 years old and in the stands of my second-ever professional golf tournament, the PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Minnesota. It was a Friday and the weather was turning foul but my friend Brit and I were willing to tough it out to see Fred Funk come up the 9th fairway, making an early charge at the Wannamaker Trophy that would eventually be snatched up by Rich Beem. We were the last two spectators ushered out of the stands, I'm proud to say, regardless of whether lightning was headed our way or not.
On our walk out to our car I couldn't help but notice all the other spectators amongst us who were wearing their golf shoes. Smartly attired in their favorite golf shirts and pleated shorts, yes, but why the golf shoes? To this day I still don't understand it. At least 25% of the people I saw on the grounds were wearing golf shoes and less than 1% of those people were playing in the tournament. Did they think after the last group came in they might be bribe their way onto the course to play a few holes before the sun went down? Did they think the traction was going to be that dicey between the bleachers and the beer tents? Like I said, to this day I still can't figure out the reasoning behind it.
Two years later I decided to do some more research on the subject so I went out for an afternoon of the Nationwide Tour's Scholarship America Showdown at Troy Burne in Hudson, WI. Unfortunately there were only about eight other spectators there that day (one of which was my insurance agent, oddly enough) so I can't really say I got much good data. Maybe a couple of other people had their golf shoes on but for all I know they worked in the pro shop. I guess I'll just have to wait until this summer when the LPGA holds their Women's U.S. Open at Interlachen to confirm or deny this phenomenon. As always I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Jason Day

Where's Jason Day? I thought he was going to knock Tiger off his pedestal? What's he waiting for--an invitation? I thought he already got that in the form of his PGA Tour card. I'm all for someone challenging the world's #1 but I'm just not seeing it right now. Ian Poulter? Are you kidding me? This guy is almost as old as I am and he's won nothing of importance as far as I am concerned. His outfits are right on and his hair, well, if we're talking about a golfer's hair then I guess that tells you everything you need to know about his game. And do you think Rory Sabbatini got canned from Nike because he rattled the cage of The Man one too many times? I sure do and look what he got for all his moxy and bravado--he gets to play crappy Adams gear that was made for your grandpa. I don't think he'll be able to knock down enough flags with his Boxer Technology to make a serious run at the best in the world. Maybe Sergio will get hot again...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hitting The Long Ball Is A Skill

I don't understand why people seem to think its "unfair" that one golfer can hit the ball considerably farther than another. Aren't you tired of hearing how The Big Hitters are the only ones who can win on certain golf courses? As if they were just born Big Hitters and did nothing to master their skill. Don't get me wrong--I'm no Bomb And Gauge guy. I'm not even a Stack And Tilt guy (or a Catch And Release guy for that matter, either). I just don't understand why a player who does indeed have an advantage because he can hit the ball farther isn't talked about with as much admiration as the "heady, scrappy course manager" guy or the really good putter. Much less reverence, that's for sure, and I must admit I don't get it. People who want to shorten courses (or at the very least quit lengthening them) seem to think that it will bring more players back into legitimate contention and I think that's short-sighted (no pun intended) at best. If Tiger can hit driver and a wedge into a par 4 that some other guy needs a driver and a 5-iron to get to, shortening the hole will only make it easier for Tiger to hit the fairway and he'll still probably be hitting a wedge into the green. He's not just longer off the tee, he's longer with all the clubs. And no matter how you set up the golf course the longer hitter will always have an advantage. I think it's high time we start giving The Big Hitters credit for their talents and quit making it seem like they have an "unfair" advantage over the rest of us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I'm pretty sure TPC stands for "Totally Predictable Cookie-Cutter" as far as the network of golf courses are concerned. Aside from Sawgrass (of course), the only TPC courses I'm even remotely interested in watching a tournament be played at it are probably Sugarloaf (I like the name) and the Pete Dye design in Louisiana (he's the man, after all). 7500 yards, mounds to keep the ball in play, unnatural topography around the greens, bunkers only mere mortals will ever get stuck in--pardon me but I'm not impressed. Give me Riviera, Westchester, Colonial any day. Something other than what the PGA Tour seems hell-bent on force-feeding us, the golf tournament spectator, more and more as the years go by. I'm sorry but hosting a tournament can't be all about available parking and infrastructure to support the consumerism that comes with all those bodies that get out of all those parked cars. At least I hope that's not all they really care about anymore.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Building A Bunker In My Backyard

I couldn't fall asleep the other night because I began dreaming (again) of building a bunker in my backyard. I started thinking about how much fun it would be to have a "cat box" over in the corner beneath the pine tree outside my bedroom window. From it I could while away the summer evening hours after the kids had gone to bed, splashing sand and soft-flight golf balls out of it until darkness would eventually fall. I've been considering digging out an egress window in my basement wall for better ventilation ever since we moved in last summer and the thought struck me the other night that I could use the dirt from the hole for the window to help create some depth and shape to the bunker I could build right next to it. This might qualify me as officially crazy about golf. I don't know--I just want to be a better bunker player and what better way to practice then in your own back yard? A shovel, some drain tile, a yard or two of class-whatever sand and maybe a few strips of sod and voila! I'll be the best-darned-amateur-six-handicap-bunker-player around.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Europe vs. Rest-of-the-World Cup?

I would hazard a guess that the average golf fan cares a heckuva lot more about the Ryder Cup than he or she does about the Presidents Cup. I do for sure, and although I'd generally like to keep some distance between myself and being labeled "average", in this case I'd like to think I agree with the majority of my brethren who follow this great game of golf. The Ryder Cup has more history and drama and media attention/anticipation leading up to it while the Presidents Cup seems to rate woefully less in all of the aforementioned attributes. Its newer and seems more contrived and just less exciting all around. As an American I think part of my complacency with the Presidents Cup is the fact that its played during the non-Ryder Cup year, in the off-season if you will. Even though the Americans seem to have figured out how to win it pretty regularly, its still anti-climactic, to say the least. Whereas the Euros and the Rest-of-the-World-Os have two years to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the team competitions, our boys have to muster up the passion and excitement every year--obviously too often for them to do so if you've seen any of the past few Ryder Cups. So wouldn't it make more sense if the whole thing was played as a Round Robin? Ryder Cup one year. Presidents Cup the next year. And then the Europe vs. The-Rest-of-the-World Cup the next year. Everybody plays two out of every three years, giving the American players a year to regroup and also creating a new and perhaps even more exciting match between two teams that have never faced off against each other. I think its worth dreaming about, at the very least.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ball-Striking, Part II

So, like I was saying before, I think I've figured out how to hit the golf ball (finally!) and I can't wait for the snow to melt so I can take my "new" swing to the golf course. What did I actually figure out? When you're done with your backswing and ready to make your approach back to the ball, don't swing your arms at the ball. Whatever you do, do NOT swing your arms at the ball. May I suggest instead that you let your hips began to open and think about rotating your torso through the ball. Your arms are attached to your torso so they'll come along for the journey too--I promise. And what's even more? The club is attached to your arms and will make it's way to your ball-destination too. The best part about it is by doing it this way you'll actually be accelerating the club-head into the back of the ball (what you want) and you'll be able to swing "harder" at the ball without losing control of your swing. Just think about turning your torso faster to hit the ball harder (I picture my chest turning faster through the hitting area). It sounds so simple I honestly can't believe it took me 8 years to figure out but I've been back to the golf dome twice since my discovery and I've never hit the ball more solidly, with every club in the bag. I might even put the 3-iron back in I'm feeling so good about my swing!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jennifer Rosales

Before I finish my "ball-striking revelation" I have to comment on the Women's World Cup I just witnessed yesterday, especially on the re-emergence of my all-time #1 female golfer crush, Jennifer Rosales. I don't normally watch much women's golf, for no other particular reason than I already watch a lot of men's golf and you can only spend so much time in front of the Boob Tube, right? But yesterday her and Dorothy Delasin of the Phillipines played some lights-out golf and won the tournament in an exciting fashion down the stretch. I also learned something interesting while watching the broadcast about the country of Paraguay: for a country with such a golf-friendly climate I was astonished to find out that there are exactly zero public golf courses available to the masses. Again, how lucky am I? I have half-a-dozen public golf courses available to me within a 10-minute drive.
So how about that Jennifer Rosales? Boy is she a cutie, and she really gets after it, too. I'm glad to see she's back to playing high-caliber golf. Apparently she's suffered from a nagging wrist injury the last two years which has seen her world ranking fall outside the top 300. Hard to believe from such a young, two-time winner on the ladies' tour. If she keeps playing well, though, I can guarantee you I'll keep watching.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I am lucky to be able to continue to regularly hit golf balls during the off-seasson even though it's cold outside and the ground is covered with snow where I live. Within a five-minute drive of my home is an indoor, two-tiered driving range with about 40 hitting stalls in it. The back wall is less than 100 yards-out but the dome is high enough to at least give you a decent idea of the trajectory of your shots and the all-important feedback of how well each shot "feels" coming off the clubface. While hitting balls just last week I made an important discovery about my swing (or The Swing) that I've been reluctant to tell people about in case it was just a twisted aberration or mirage I experienced in that fateful hour under the cold, dark, teflon roof. Upon arriving home that evening, though, I had an unmistakeable grin plastered on my face that was so wide my wife couldn't help but inquire as to what sort of trouble I had gotten into. "None whatsoever," I replied. "Eight years of toil appears to have finally bared some fruit, that's all." I decided to wait a week and go and hit balls again and attempt to validate my "discovery" before I shared it with the world. Make sure it was legit, if you will. Well I'm here today to say that its still bearing fruit and I'm prepared to make it part of my golfing life permanently. Not to be a tease, but I have to go get some work done on the home-front. More later...I promise...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Winter Golf (Again)

I just joined The Golf Space (myspace for golfers, essentially) and highly recommend that any and all of you out there who enjoy golf and golf-related web-sites join up too. At the very least its a good way to kill some free time while sitting at the computer. As I was navigating my way around the site for the first time I started to check out some of the other "members". I eventually came across a lady who was rather proud of a photo of herself playing "winter golf". Being the hearty transplanted-Minnesotan that I am (or at least like to pretend I am), I clicked on the photo link and saw a woman in jeans with a long-sleeved t-shirt and baseball cap on, hitting a golf ball onto a brown fairway-expanse in front of her. I guess this is what they call "winter" in Oregon (I wouldn't know--I've never been there). Where I'm from "winter golf" is a) at least a measurable accumulation of snow on the ground, and b) temperatures that require stocking caps and gloves for fear of frostbite. Not just jeans, a baseball hat, and brown grass. To wit, I didn't get up until 8am today (it's Saturday, give me a break!) but it was still-12 degrees outside. Tee that one up and I'm officially impressed.

Friday, January 18, 2008


If you watch any golf on TV (Lord knows I do--just ask my wife) you've undoubtedly seen a post-round interview with a professional golfer. And I'd be willing to bet that he/she said one of the following four things when assessing his/her recently completed round: 1) I didn't hit it very well but I managed to get it around and get it in the hole and still make a decent score; 2) I hit the ball well today and the putts kept falling and I shot a really good score; 3) I hit it well today but I couldn't make anything on the greens so I'm disappointed with my score; or 4) I hit it all over the place today and had a bunch of 20-footers for par so I stunk up the place. Notice a common thread in all those statements? Everyone of them equates, in the end, how well they played with how well they putted. Putted well? Pleased with the results. Didn't putt well? Disappointed with their score. So why is it, then, that the average golfer (you and me, buddy) spends 90% of his or her practice time/pre-round warm-up time banging ball after ball on the range and not grooving their strokes on the practice green? What will it take to make the golfing masses wake-up and finally start spending the right amount of time preparing to play the game on the right parts of their game? More then this little blog entry, I'm sure, but that's my two cents.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Clayton Heafner

Former PGA Tour player Clayton Heafner certainly had a way with words. After an amateur friend of his missed the cut at the 1948 Jacksonville Open, said friend asked Mr. Heafner for an honest assessment of his game as he was contemplating turning pro. Clayton responded, "Have you ever noticed that most of the young guys who come out here are pretty big? Most of them are built like a truck driver. And did you ever notice they can all putt? Most of them have a touch like a hairdresser. Well, the trouble with you is, you're built like a hairdresser and have a touch like a truck driver." Needless to say, the amateur-in-question never turned pro and instead became quite an accomplished writer, one Mr. Charles Price. Funny how you could say something very similar about today's up-and-comers, too. Maybe things really haven't changed that much in the last 60 years, relatively speaking?

Sunday, January 13, 2008


foozle vt foo-zled; foo-zling (1892): to manage or play awkwardly; a bungling golf stroke
My name is Kenny Gunderman and I've been Foozled by golf. From humble beginnings on a farm in southwestern Iowa, I didn't start playing the game in earnest until I reached my 20-somethings just eight years ago. Sure, as a youth I rode around in golf carts on bunker-less executive courses, occasionally taking swipes at the ball with my mother's mismatched sticks. But I never really played the game until the summer I met my future wife. Purely a coincidence, I assure you, but right after we started dating I took to the links with fervor. I remember it as if it were only yesterday...
Some friends of mine mentioned casually over drinks one evening that they were headed out to play nine holes the next day. Needing a fourth, they were more than happy to oblige my request to tag along. We showed up the next day at the Highland 9-hole course late in the afternoon, unannounced, and twenty minutes later we were strolling down the first fairway. I was well on my way to a quadruple-bogey nine, but undeterred I managed to "settle down and get it around" in only 23-over par. Something about the scenery, the greenery, the closely-mown fairways and tee boxes, the subtle contours of the putting surfaces, and that delightful sound the ball would make as it (finally) rattled around in the bottom of the cup made me yearn for more...and more...and more...
Fast-forward to the present day and here I am, a legitimate Golf Nut (registered with the Golf Nut Society, Nut #3898), a card-carrying member of the Shivas Irons Society and the USGA, and a regular member of the Simonson Group on Saturday mornings at Indian Hills Golf Club in Stillwater, Minnesota. I have a closet-full of smartly-logoed golf shirts and I'll play the game at almost any instant, morning or evening, rain or shine, all the while staying happily married and gainfully employed. I'm good for some 50-plus rounds-a-year if I play my cards right and I count three of my greatest lifetime achievements as 1) graduating from college in only four years, 2) being the loving father of the sweetest little 2-year-old girl you've ever met, and 3) putting a lid on the 2003 season with a par at a local muni in late November as half-an-inch of snow covered the course.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well, I've decided to stop trying to conceal my zeal for the game, to stop being ashamed of this obsession of mine and instead embrace it, finally and fully, by sharing my experiences with golfers everywhere as one who's truly been Foozled by golf. As proof, I give you this blog which hopefully won't disappoint you.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Somebody Read My Blog!

Oh my gawd...somebody read my blog! This really hasn't been all in vain, has it? I guess I haven't really invested that much time or effort into it, come to think of it, so even if it had all been in vain it wouldn't have been that big of a deal, really. But wow, somebody read my blog. I now feel a sense of responsibility to my readership (okay, I know, just one person has read it so far) to actually write about things that are interesting. And what's more? I think I need to do that writing with a little higher standard of excellence--not just off-the-cuff stuff. Saviche?
Somebody read my blog...somebody read my blog...somebody read...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

If Somebody Blogs In The Forest And No One Is Online To See It, Did It Really Happen?

I'm curious because I did just that and I'm pretty sure no one saw it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Snow Golf

You are not a serious golfer until you've attempted to play the auld grey game in the snow. I'm serious. Yesterday I bought a regulation cup and flag and planted them in a foot of snow in my backyard and chipped golf balls off my ice-covered deck with a sand wedge at "my hole". When I started losing feelings in my hands I put my gloves on and moved over to the other corner of my yard where my homemade swing plane trainer sits and took 100 or so practice swings with an old hybrid club, grooving my swing in preparation for the spring thaw. I'm a serious golfer. Is anyone reading this?