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

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?