The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain course the PGA Tour pros are playing this weekend at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship does nothing for me. Its so artificial looking, especially from those normally coveted blimp shots overhead, that I find it hard to get too terribly excited about what's going on in the individual matches. The patches of grass, co-mingling with the vast desert landscapes, make me think more of the irrigation nightmares they must face every day to keep it alive, rather then the brilliance of the designer (Jack Nicklaus) behind it. Be they tree-lined "parkland" lay-outs or Old World links-type tracks, I need a golf course that blends in with its surroundings to get my juices flowing. I'm sorry Ponte Vedra, but I think you swung and missed at playing this big of a tournament at this uninspiring of a lay-out. I know the weather is a mind-numbing 80 degrees and sunny this time of year in Tucson, but I need more then that to justify playing at this contrived of a venue. 536-yard par-fours that the guys are hitting mid-irons into for their second shots because of the elevation and "warm air" also make me feel like they're playing this tournament on the moon. That's a healthy par-five where I'm from, after all. What's a guy to do? Watch the LPGA this week?
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I'm generally not as critical of "Nick Faldo the Golf Commentator" as most people are so I guess it should come as no surprise that I thought he said something interesting and insightful yesterday during the Golf Channel's coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He and Paul Azinger were talking about caddies on tour and even the ones who had looped for them over the many years of their playing careers and the tone became somewhat derisive at one point. Faldo then quipped "its no wonder why they're called 'Rats' on the European Tour." Fascinating--I never knew that! Its the kind of stuff I want from my commentators and Faldo delivered. Azinger, on the other hand, was really starting to get under my skin. He kept referring to the trajectory of a golf shot as "traj", to the point where you got the impression he was fishing for an explanation of the neat folk term he was using about tour players. It seemed a bit forced to me and made me a little uncomfortable. He might as well have asked Zach Johnson out on a date he was gushing so much about his traj-conscious golf game. Get a room, Paul.
Monday, February 23, 2009
In just 18 days I've managed to increase my swing speed with my Speed Stik swing trainer by 10 mph to a now respectable 97 mph. I'm stronger and swinging harder, but more importantly, I'm swinging "smarter" and hope that my work-out routine and practice regime will translate into stronger shorts on the course this coming spring. Its the first time since I've gotten really serious about the game some four years ago that I feel like I've made a noticeable step in the right direction, that direction being towards playing a more powerful and competitive game of golf. I'll keep at it, for sure, buoyed by my discovery tonight that what I'm doing is actually working. Half the fun of getting better at the game of golf is figuring out what you need to work on, figuring out how to improve upon that weakness constructively, and then seeing tangible results. I'm seeing results and I couldn't be happier.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
This winter I've finally found a few kindred spirits who agree with me that the worst part of our five-month long, weather-imposed sabbatical from golf is the last two weeks in March. You're so close to playing you can literally smell it in the air, but the ground is always too wet and/or still covered in snow. The wait will be over before you know it, but those last few weeks can seem like months. (Last year, in fact, those last two weeks did take a month, as I was prepared to play golf on the Friday of the Masters but we got 2-inches dumped on us that day.) I was able to convince the aforementioned buddies that the thing to do would be to get in our cars and start driving south and not stop until it was warm/dry enough to play golf. We've decided that Friday, March 20th will be the day we set sail and we're pretty sure at worst we'll be driving 6.5 hours to Kansas City before we can play. I got people on the ground there scouting out some courses for us, as well as in the much-closer Des Moines region, and we'll see where we end up playing. We should be able to play at least 36 holes and still be back by Sunday night--I hope we're back by then because my wife said I could go and have fun but I better be back in time for her birthday on Monday the 23rd.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Just like Ernest Jones said (kind of), swing the weighted clubhead. Get off the couch, go outside, and swing the club. Feel the whoosh of the clubhead as it cuts through the still, night air. Feel your stance rooted firmly in the ground and your torso rotating around your center. Feel the clubhead swing around your body--downward, outward, and forward. Do it. Breathe it all in and revel in the fact that you're figuring something out about this confounded game (finally), one swing at a time. Forget where you are and what else you "should" be doing--just swing the club. Swing it, feel it. Be the clubhead, Kenny. Be the clubhead.
Monday, February 9, 2009
I just saw a shot of Vijay Singh on the Golf Channel wearing a light blue shirt with a cream-colored sweater vest over it. Always resplendent and nicely logo-ed with the "Singha Light" patch on his sleeve, Vijay looked quite dashing in this ensemble and got me thinking that I need more sweater vests in my wardrobe. I think once I start wearing them regularly I won't want to take them off. They keep the trunk warm (which is good for flexibility and the swing) and I think they give off just the right vibe--serious about golf but also ready to have a good time. If only I could find some affordable cashmere ones online somewhere...time to start surfing...and oh yea, I think I need some houndstooth-patterned accessories too. Perhaps a hat, like Bear Bryant used to stalk the sidelines in. Nothing says class like a nice houndstooth hat.
Friday, February 6, 2009
I look forward to going outside each night to work on my golf swing. Its so dark and peaceful once the wife and kids have gone to bed and the neighborhood is all shuttered and still. The air is crisp and invigorating and makes me feel alive--corny, but true. So I've been swinging a weighted club for the last two months and recently I added a regular wedge to my exercises, working on my pre-shot routine, set-up and impact position (sometimes even with my homemade impact bag). Yesterday, however, I added a new weapon to my arsenal. I finally got a Speed Stik to start measuring the approximate speed of my swing, something I can hopefully improve upon before the ground thaws in April. I overhead a couple of guys talking about the Speed Stik last week while I was at the Golf Dome, and one of them even had one with him in his bag. He explained that 4 miles/hour increase in swing speed results in roughly 10 yards of increased distance--that perked up my ears. He then took the Stik out of his bag and started swinging it and I could hear the "whirrrring" sound it made at impact--a sign that his swing was accelerating properly through the hitting zone. I've been looking for some sort of feedback in regards to this dilemma and decided it was finally time to pull the trigger. Lo and behold, Rock Bottom Golf had them at half price ($49.99) and was running a %15 off promotion to celebrate Super Bowl weekend--it was an offer I couldn't refuse. Last night I swung the Stik for the first time and could hear my swing accelerating at the wrong time (too early in the forward swing). I was also maxxing out at roughly 87 mph so this should be fun to chart my progress as the off-season progresses. More on this later, for sure.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Did anyone see Ryan Moore's get-up this week at the FBR Open? He looked quite snappy in a pair of spikeless sneakers, an Arnold Palmer-era cardigan sweater and underneath the sweater, a shirt and tie. What a classic look (sneakers notwithstanding). And as a former US Amateur and US Amateur Publinks Champion I couldn't be more proud of him. I'd like to think he's respecting the history of the game with his choice in fashions. Word on the street is that he's without a clothing sponsor and actually bought everything he was wearing himself (gasp!). I've been concerned, of late, as to how the tides of fashion have been swaying on the PGA Tour. When Jesper Parnevik paired up with fashion designer Johan Lindeberg and introduced a more classic style of clothing to the tour back in the early part of this decade, things looked promising. The Europeans had obviously been ahead of this curve for some time, but more and more players on the American tour were starting to wear clothes that fit and accent those clothes with colorful shoes and belts and gloves, etc. You'd see argyle every so often and maybe even a non-baseball style golf cap, be it a bowler or a derby or maybe even a pork-pie. But in the last two years or so, fitness has obviously taken off on the tour and players are really beginning to exaggerate the fit of their clothes (too tight, Camilo?), and in lock-step, manufacturers seem to be designing exclusively clothes that are more athletic and less refined. I don't want to sound like an old fuddy duddy but I rather like the era of fashion that translated into "casual nice" work attire rather then "work-out tough" exercise gear. Hopefully guys like Ryan Moore (and Kevin Costner at Pebble Beach--always natty in his shirt and tie) can help sway things back towards the classic look, but I fear the prevailing consciousness on tour may be too far gone.