Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I seriously considered giving up the game on Sunday as I rode around a near-frozen golf course with a buddy and a couple of strangers. Though I was excited to be out and playing again, my game seems to have deserted me completely. I was routinely out-driven by my playing partners by some 60 yards. I shanked a chip shot on the 2nd hole. I chunked (yes, chunked!) a putt on the 14th hole. And I found reasonably short and "playable" par-4s unreachable with two full shots. But playing poorly your first time out after a long winter is nothing to be alarmed at, right? Well yes and no. I have a wife who I love very much and two wonderful little girls who I can't seem to spend enough time with and all this hit me in the head on Sunday as I struggled to enjoy myself on the golf course--why am I here? Why did I pay $50 to ride around on a cart, freezing my tail off, just to be away from the ones I love for six hours? I finally couldn't answer that question and that's what got me to thinking that it might be time to give it up. I'm not saying that I'm giving up the dream of playing the kind of golf that I know I'm capable of, but I'm seriously considering it. To play well and enjoy myself it seems that I'm going to have to spend way more time then I can afford perfecting my game and that probably won't ever happen like I really want it to. Why play the game if you can't play it well? Perhaps I'll just take to playing by myself again for a while, away from the pressure of "competing" with my buddies and try and rediscover what it is/was that I love about this game. Maybe quick, purposeful sessions on the range in the evening after the kids are in bed, only to be followed by 4 or 5 holes as the sun goes down. I can continue to practice at home when time is even more in demand and maybe, just maybe, I'll find again what I'm looking for. Whatever the case may be, I cannot continue to play like I am right now. I will not continue to play like I'm playing right now.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Nick Faldo's obsession with the CDW TechCenter technology the tour uses to measure a player's ball flight characteristics on tee shots hit on "driver" holes has gotten silly. It's all he talks about anymore, to the point that he even talks over his broadcast partners who are simultaneously trying to actually explain where the shot is going. Faldo's just blubbers on about the clubhead speed, whether its above or below average, same with the spin rate. "That's way too high," he'll say. "Player X needs to get on the launch monitor and figure that one out, blah, blah, blah." It makes me think that Faldo spends all of his free time on a launch monitor of his own, trying desperately to come up with the perfect combination of shaft, clubhead, and ball so that he can maybe, just maybe, one day compete again and challenge for a title of some significance like Greg Norman did in last year's Open Championship. It's sad, really, because its so transparent.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Top-flite touring professional golfers are grossly overpaid for what they do, no matter how you look at it. I don't think any rational human being could disagree with that statement and I would even go so far as to bet you that under oath and in the strictest of confidences, most of these golfers would agree with that claim as well. So why should we feel sorry for them when their title-sponsors are leaving the station faster then they can yell "bailout"? And stories of their investments with many of these sponsors dwindling just as fast as your 401(k) are splashed all across the sports pages? The answer is: we shouldn't. The market is correcting itself as we speak. Things have gotten bloated and out-of-hand and now they're coming back down to Earth. Its painful to everyone involved but its only temporary, I assure you. In the meantime let's get back to appreciating these players for what they can do with the golf ball and hopefully they'll get back to appreciating what it is that they do for a living. I want to see more pros playing for the love of the game and not the still-relatively absurd spoils that go with it. That would make my own personal economic "slowdown" a little easier to stomach.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Early in the 20th century, England's Sunningdale Golf Club was home to one of the toughest and most revered golf courses in the world. I remember reading about a particular round of golf played there by Bobby Jones (ever heard of him?) that totaled 66 strokes, masterful play considering the relative conditions and equipment in vogue at the time. He used 33 strokes from tee-to-green and 33 strokes on the greens, registering nothing more then a 4 on the scorecard for any one hole. He referred to it as a perfect round of golf and it sounds to me like he wasn't much for exaggerating. What really caught my eye though was the length of the holes played that day--not a single par 4 (of which there were 12) had a yardage between 300-399 yards. They were all less then 300 yards or 400 yards or greater. I'd hazard a guess that the average golfer today plays a course of almost the exact opposite, meaning every single one of the par 4s they play has a yardage between 300-399 yards. Perhaps one of those holes they're charged with conquering creeps just barely over the 400 yard mark, like 405 yards maybe. So when did things change so drastically as far as course design is concerned? A quick perusal of the current hole yardages of Sunningdale's Old Course confirms that two of the three par 4s that once measured under 300 yards have been lengthened to a whopping 318 and 322 yards respectively, while the other 9 holes still measure well over 400 yards. Fascinating, indeed. The next time I play my home course and start feeling sorry for myself that half of the par 4s are too long, I'll pretend I'm at Sunningdale with a persimmon wood in my hand and a rock-hard gutty at my feet and see how much harder this game once was.