Fantastic Opportunity to Challenge Myself

476 yard par-4 #10 at Northwest

Yesterday, I played Northwest Golf Course in Silver Spring, Maryland.  We usually get out here four or five times per year and on this beautiful Masters Sunday, we enjoyed crystal clear skies and comfortable 70 degree temperatures.  With perfect scoring conditions,  I shot a ho-hum 81 from the blue tees, which play one set up and measure 6,827 yards.  While I left the golf course a bit frustrated with my swing, I was tremendously excited because I learned that Northwest would be hosting 2017 U.S. Open qualifying on May 8th!

When this Ault & Clark design was built in 1964, it was actually constructed with the anticipation of hosting a U.S. Open.  But with Congressional Country Club located in the same market, the dream never materialized and Northwest became one of the strongest municipal tests, and a favorite for players who like to let the shaft out.

A couple years ago, I wrote a piece theorizing on how tour pros might fare at your local muni.  It’s no longer speculation.  I get to find out myself because I’m going to join them!  I know what you’re thinking, “Brian, you hack; you need a 1.4 USGA index to enter qualifying for the U.S. Open.”  Of course my handicap is not that low and I won’t be in the field, but I’ll be playing the day before on the same track and trying to test the heck out of myself; or the day after.  We’ll be teeing it up from the tips and at 7,376 yards, probably hitting driver 3WD into a lot of the par-4s and hoping to keep the ball on these undulating razor-fast greens.

My group never plays the back tees out here; it’s just too long.  In the decades I’ve been playing Northwest, I’ve only attempted the back tees a couple times.  Once, as a much younger player maybe 25 years ago, I played one of the best rounds of my life in the rain and shot a 5-over 77 from the tips.  Now, I’m happy with 77 from the regular tees.  What are my chances of breaking 90?  This is going to be humbling.

Have you ever had the opportunity to play a tour caliber competition course very close to the real event?  If so, how did it go?

Play well.

Advertisements
Posted in Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

What are the Do’s and Don’ts of taking a golf lesson?

World class instructor Hank Haney with Charles Barkley.
Photo by Associated Press

As golf season gets ramped up, many of us will be investing in lessons in an effort to improve.  High handicappers right down to touring professionals all benefit from formal instruction.  I took my first lesson of the season last weekend and have scheduled a series every two weeks for the balance of the spring.  I’m reminded of a few Do’s and Don’ts when taking lessons:

Do:

  1. When you sign up for lessons, ensure your instructor has the “PGA” acronym after his/her name.  Some courses and training facilities employ instructors or managers who give golf lessons at a discounted price.  If they aren’t PGA certified, don’t go for it.  Membership in the Professional Golfers Association is an indicator that your instructor has spent the necessary time in the business, has been formally trained on how to teach, and has given many lessons.
  2. Prior to or during your first lesson, set clear expectations with your instructor.  Let them know your skill level, current handicap (if you keep one), what your goals are, and how much time you have to devote to practice.  You may get a completely different lesson if you indicate you plan on practicing every day, compared to if you can only devote one day per week.
  3. During instruction, ask questions!  Your level of engagement will often get you a better lesson.  Golf pros are human.  They get bored at work too and often perform better when fully engaged with their students.  If something doesn’t feel right or if you’re getting it and enjoying the success, dialog it.
  4. Take full swing lessons outdoors on the range.  Some instructors will teach at indoor facilities and you can make improvements using a simulator, but there is no substitute for seeing actual ball flight.  Sometimes what feels good on a simulator may not be the shot pattern you want.
  5. At the completion of your lesson, reiterate with your instructor two or three key points that you’re going to work on until the next lesson.
  6. Practice between lessons.  Sometimes during a lesson, you may perform poorly because the changes you’re making are difficult to implement.  Try and get out multiple times between lessons and reinforce what you’ve been shown, and do it at your own pace.  Often, you will “get it” during practice, because you’re able to take your time and you won’t feel like you’re being watched.
  7. World class instructor Hank Haney advocates taking 100 swings per day in your back yard.  Do this even if you can’t hit balls and try to feel the change you’re working on.  It’s the fastest way to ingrain the new feel.

Don’t:

  1. Try and change too much at once.  Learning can be confusing, and we learn best by focusing on one concept at a time.  Sometimes even a seasoned professional will give you too much to think about.  The pro wants you to succeed and if the first or second swing change doesn’t immediately work, they can introduce more in an effort to find something that resonates.  When this happens, tell your pro you’d like to focus on one concept and ask what that should be.
  2. Play the day after a lesson and expect to score well.  Your mind will be in mechanical mode and you will be playing “golf swing” not golf.  Forget your score and just focus on enjoying your time in the outdoors and trying to focus on the changes you’re trying to implement.
  3. Seek swing tips from your inexperienced playing partners.  Best to stick with your pro’s advice and remember the old axiom, “Amateurs teach amateurs to play like amateurs.”
  4. Fail to practice between lessons and then claim you got a bad lesson when the changes don’t work on the golf course.
  5. Forget about short game and putting.  Instruction is not all about full swing, although the vast majority of lessons are given on the practice tee.  Ask your professional about a short game lesson or if they’ll take you out on the course and play a few holes to help you with your course management.

Got any more Do’s and Don’ts?  Please share and good luck if you’re taking lessons.  Play well!

Posted in Instruction | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

“YESSSS SIR!!!”

Jack Nicklaus. Photo from Golfweek

We are PUMPED for the 2017 edition of The Masters!  It feels like being first in line at Best Buy on Black Friday morning.  Soon, the greatest venue in golf will fling open the gates, and we will charge in to witness the world’s best going head-to-head in the most anticipated and revered contest on the planet.  So grab a pimento cheese sandwich and let’s go find you a winner.

Selecting major champions is tough business, but The Masters is the easiest of the four because of the reduced field size and the past champions who cannot contend.  Most players love this course but there are a few that don’t, and we can quickly rule them out.  There is no way you can not embrace Augusta National and win.  For some, the course doesn’t suit their game and others can’t overcome the baggage from previous failures.  Both factors will play a part in our selection.

Let’s start the addition by subtraction with the world’s best player; Dustin Johnson.

Photo from Golf Channel

DJ has worked incredibly hard on his short game and putting.  He’s now to the point where he’s the most complete competitor from tee to green, and can destroy tournaments.  Old DJ couldn’t chip and putt well enough to win a green jacket.  New DJ can.  But anyone who’s ever fixed something in golf has that bad swing thought or faulty process buried deep in their subconscious.  The synapses can fire at the worst of times and this course can trigger.  One year he’ll win one, but not quite yet.  Looking for a top five, though.

The world’s best ball striker is Rory McIlroy.  When his swing is on he can thump it like nobody.  Rory is not the world’s best putter, and is far from it.  I’m not sure if it’s attitude, mechanics, or innate ability that hold him back.  He’s won the other three majors and would dearly love to close out the career grand slam, but you need a deft touch on these greens, and a cool head when you miss.  Plus, he still has that final round 80 in 2011 lying dormant.

Photo from businessinsider.com

Phil Mickelson‘s performance in the majors began to slip over the last couple of years.  But then, BAM!  What a show for the ages he put on at 46 in last year’s Open Championship.  Unfortunately, Henrik Stenson bested him with one of the greatest final rounds ever played in a major.  Lefty’s game is suited for Augusta.  But come on, he’ll be 47 in two months and nobody since Jack in 1986 has won a major at that age.  Sorry, Phil, you aren’t Jack.  Should be a good week though, and a top-10 finish.

Briefly:  Justin Thomas peaked a little too early this year and needs more seasoning.   It’s either vertigo, mental breakdown, illness, or injury.  I’m done picking Jason Day in this tournament – watch him win it now.  Sergio Garcia doesn’t like the venue and nobody ever won The Masters putting with the modified claw grip (read this Phil!)  Adam Scott; no broomstick allowed, no chance.  Hideki Matsuyama; too mechanical and the stage is too big (but it’s shrinking).    Rickie Fowler is this year’s trendy pick.  He certainly has the outfits to look the part, but trendy never wins The Masters, especially for those who can’t hold a lead or hold up well under 4th round pressure.  Rickie is more suited to a PGA type venue where he can battle in the first three rounds and come from behind to win.  When will PLAYERS Champion Rickie re-appear?  2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett remains on the world’s greatest one and done tour.  Can Canadian Adam Hadwin contend?  Should be on his honeymoon but is turning his new wife into a golf widow at Augusta.  Okay, he gets a pass.  Adam probably needs a couple years on the course but this guy has stones.  Love his pressure game.

The last man standing is Jordan Spieth, your 2017 Masters champion.  Best putter in the field.  Best vision in the field, best clutch chipper in the field.  Sometimes hits it crooked off the tee but you can get away with that at Augusta.  And finally, if anyone can immerse in the process of shot to shot it’s Jordan, and that will help erase the mental foible of the 12th hole from last year.  I love his chances.  Who’s your choice?

Photo from Forbes

Final picks:

Winner :  Jordan Spieth

Runner Up:  Dustin Johnson

Third:  Rory McIlroy

 

Posted in Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Putt Looking At The Hole

Jordan Spieth. Photo from Golf.com

In the many years I’ve been playing golf, I have never looked at the hole while putting, until today.  The objective was to test whether my distance control would improve and I could specifically eliminate the short miss on medium and long range lag putts.  My pre-round commitment was to try this out on every single putt, regardless of the results.  I had read up on the technique before trying, and the theory is that you let your binocular vision kick in while you make your stroke.  This will free up your body to perform its best and release any tension associated with mechanical thinking.

I have tinkered with various putting methods and pre-shot routines largely to gain a measure of improved feel, but have always stroked the putt with my eyes over the ball.  In today’s round, the change was pronounced right from the start.  Playing #1, I had a 20-footer uphill for birdie and rifled it eight feet past the cup – but I made the down hill comeback and could feel that I more easily kept the putt on line by looking at a spot on the cup.  It felt like my back swing was shorter and I was accelerating through the putt more than usual.  The rest of the round was characterized by excellent distance control with medium and long range straight putts, but I started to falter trying to judge breaking putts.  I couldn’t figure out whether to look at the hole and feel the apex of the putt, or focus on the amount of break and pick a target directly to the right or left of the hole.   On short putts, I was completely lost and had no feel for pace, especially on putts that required any break.  I left the course encouraged because I smacked in a few long ones and felt I just needed to settle on how to play the shorties and the breaking putts.

Some of you may recall that Jordan Spieth (the world’s best putter) won The Masters two years back by looking at the hole on his short putts.  He’s since gone back to sighting the ball rather than the hole, but it obviously worked for him.  I’m a little perplexed that he used the method only on short putts while I was completely lost.

Most games of skill that involve aiming at a target require you to focus on the target rather than the projectile or body mechanics.  Think of a basketball player shooting a free throw.  They sight a spot on the rim and just let it go, feeling how much force and arc to supply.  I was aiming for that feeling.

I just finished reading Charles Henderson’s Marine Sniper, an excellent book and true story about Carlos Hathcock (world’s greatest combat sniper and competitive marksmen).  In it, Hathcock would adjust his rifle scope several clicks to adjust for wind, terrain, and distance, and while the rifle would be realinged, his scope remained sighted on his target.  Does this imply that I should adjust my body for the break of the putt but always look at the hole when I make the stroke?  Still trying to work through this.

Anyone with experience looking at the hole while they putt?  Please share if you do.  Thanks!

Posted in Instruction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How To Measure Success in Golf

What are Phil’s standards for success?

In Putting Out of Your Mind, Dr. Bob Rotella says that to judge yourself a success on the putting green, you should measure by how often you were mentally prepared when you struck your putts, and not whether the ball went in the hole.  He adds that once you’ve struck a putt, everything else is out of your control.  Makes sense, and I love this process oriented approach, but let’s face it, most amateurs and probably most professionals are more results oriented than we’d like to admit.

While reading the aforementioned book, I tried out the methods during a round at a local muni.  It was if someone else had possession of my body while I was putting.  It worked great, but the total process oriented approach was very hard to maintain.  For a short period, I even managed to not think about my score during a few rounds, but couldn’t keep it up.

Getting immersed in the process works.  It’s a good idea and is worth the effort.  So, how do you measure success or failure?  Can a 30-handicap player stand on a tee box with a 200 yard carry over water, and hit three straight into the drink, but feel if they put a good swing on each, and think nothing is wrong?  That’s a “Tin Cup” moment and should feel wrong because the player failed to know their limitations and move up a set of tees.  I try to follow Rotella’s mantra and think one shot at a time, but ultimately golf is a game where we keep score.  We win or lose against opponents, or post some number in a stroke play event or round.  As a 5-handicap for the last umpteenth years, when I’m not thinking in process mode, I’m measuring myself by score.  Typically:

Good day – 74 strokes or below

Average day – 75-77

Substandard – 78 and above

The 30-handicap may look at their round differently:

Good day – broke 100

Average day – broke 110

Substandard – lost all their golf balls

We do measure ourselves largely by score and that’s okay.  Recently I overcame this tendency – albeit briefly.  I played a round in the dead of February while working on a swing change.  I told myself I didn’t care what I shot and I was just going to focus on the swing change.  I shot 83 and took like 39 putts, but I left the course very satisfied because I hit 10 greens in regulation and saw good progress with the swing change.  I don’t think this model can sustain over time, but it was nice as I was able to treat the round like a NFL team approaches a pre-season game – totally about the process.  Ultimately, it will come back to score.

So what would success look like for Phil Mickelson?

Good day – Won The Masters

Average day – Finished 2nd

Substandard – Out of the top 10

I know Phil has been working on a swing change and is keen to battle test this at Augusta, (more on that coming in our Masters preview), but at the end of the day does that really matter to him?  Nope; it’s about winning.

How do you measure success?  Process or results, and BE HONEST!

Play well.

 

Posted in Instruction, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

2017 Golf Season – Reset!

Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico at Treasure Island, FL

Hold the cherry blossoms in DC and hold the azaleas in Augusta!  One of those god awful nor’easter things is bearing down on the DMV today and will be dropping a foot of the fluffy stuff.

After getting out and playing in January and February in one of the most delightful winters on record (zero snowfall), my luck has finally run out.  Last month, I was fortunate enough to practice on five separate occasions and had made progress on my swing changes, but it’s really cold now and the season is on hold.  Yesterday, in some misguided sense of idiocy, I decided to hit balls in the wind with temperatures in the mid 30s, and didn’t do my game any favors, so maybe it is time for a break.

Actually, I’m very thankful that I got to play at all, and that I got back to town safely on Saturday before the airlines began cancelling flights.  So while you sit by the fire and wait with me for the courses to clear, enjoy a couple pics from sunny Florida.

Play well!

Orioles spring training at Sarasota, FL

Kayaking the mangroves at Saint Petersburg, FL

Florida Aquarium at Tampa, FL

With Gilda at Busch Gardens Tampa, FL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Golf Widows And Orphans

I love to travel for golf.  Some of my best vacations are had when going to play at destination sites.  But when you’re on a family vacation, do you golf if other members of your party don’t?  This can be a tricky dilemma and I’m staring it straight in the face next week, as the family and I head off to Treasure Island, Florida for some time in the sun.

Sneaking out to play and practice at Bear Trap Dunes in Bethany Beach, DE

Sneaking out to play and practice at Bear Trap Dunes in Bethany Beach, DE

The downside of turning your family into golf widows and orphans is just too great, so I err on the side of not playing.  That doesn’t mean golf is totally ruled out.  I’ll always bring my clubs on family trips to the Delaware eastern shore and often get a round in very early while everyone is still sleeping.  No harm there.  Or sometimes, like on our last trip to Florida, I’ll make my way to a professional venue just to check it out.  As it happened my son and I ran into Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill completely by accident.  What a thrill!

With Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill Club. April 2010

With Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill Club. April 2010

Next week, the PGA Tour is playing Valspar at Innisbrook in Palm Harbour, which is 45 minutes from our hotel.  Maybe we’ll pop in on Thursday or Friday, or for a practice round???  So even if you’re not playing, you can still engage.  Bottom line:  family is too important and they shouldn’t be abandoned even if golf is your passion.

Some fellow bloggers play with their family members.  Jim, at The Grateful Golfer is starting to play more with his wife, which is awesome.  Josh and Beth at Golf is Mental, regularly travel, play together, and document their trips beautifully in posts and pictures.  More power to you folks!

My next golf trip is to Myrtle Beach over Memorial Day week.  Here’s the line-up:

The Legends – Heathland

Grand Dunes – Resort Course

Myrtle Beach National – Kings North

TPC of Myrtle Beach

Wild Wing – Avocet

Willbrook Plantation

Having played a fair amount of golf in Myrtle Beach, I still try to get on at least one course I’ve never played per trip.  This year that will be Wild Wing – Avocet.  Anyone ever played there?  Got some playing tips for me?  New reviews are coming for the courses in red.

So next week, as much as I would like to be ripping drives down lush Bermuda fairways for seven straight days, I’ll happily settle for kayaking in the mangroves, Baltimore Orioles spring training games, riding roller coasters at Busch Gardens, and just hanging with family by the pool and on the beach.  Remember, on a family vacation, always put family first!  Safe travels and play well.

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Avoiding Rookie Mistakes During A Swing Change

homerHave you ever gone on a crash diet 10 days before your annual physical so you’ll have good “results” to report to your doctor?  Or do you start brushing and flossing fastidiously three days in advance of a dental check-up?  Or do you ever clean your house before the cleaning lady arrives?  I don’t know the name for this behavior, but I’ve been engaging in it in advance of my professional swing instruction to start the 2017 golf season.  For some reason, I feel the need to have my game in the best possible shape before instruction starts.

Readers of this blog know that I have always been a swing tinkerer and this winter has been unusually mild in the DMV – irresistibly perfect for swing tinkering.  Recently, I’ve taken a lot of film of myself on the range and have been comparing my swing to various PGA and LPGA professionals side-by-side, and looking to combine the advice I last received from my instructor with some better swing positions.  As part of this exercise, one of the moves I made was a rookie mistake, but before I detail, I’ll repeat the most important advice I’ve ever received (or given),  “The best swing instruction is provided under the watchful eye of a trained PGA professional.”  A seasoned pro has seen it all and probably has a fix for what ails your game.  Go see him or her.

That being said, Saturday morning, I decided on a change I wanted to make and headed off to my school field with a bag shag and pitching wedge.  20 swings later, I was thrilled and excited as shots were flying true and straight and my optimism was overflowing.   Armed with a tee time for the next day, I figured I’d hit the range after lunch to practice this change with all my clubs.   Normally the day before a round, I’ll play a simulated game on the range at the upcoming venue.  I tried this with my swing change and shots were flying all over the lot.  There were big pulls and huge banana push slices; nothing was solid or straight.  I was crushed and bewildered.  How could this happen when only a couple hours prior, I was nutting everything in the field?  With five balls left, I had the wherewithal to lay down an alignment stick and saw that I was very closed on my setup.  I finished up and headed to the putting green.

The rookie mistake I made was losing focus on the swing change.  I got distracted by trying to prepare for a round that didn’t matter.  Fortunately, I was able to course correct, with the alignment stick being the clue.  Yesterday, I arrived at the golf course and went immediately to the range, where I laid down two alignment sticks and just hit my warm up balls at a single distinct target.  I had made up my mind to not focus on short game, score, or putting, and just concentrate on the swing change.  Aligned correctly, all the goodness from the session in the field returned and I was thrilled to hit 10 GIR on a long tough golf course.

Key takeaways for rookies and veterans alike:

  • Stay focused on the change.
  • Be patient.  Be resilient.  Understand there will be ups and downs.
  • Look for a positive; any positive.  That’s why I went to the putting green after my disastrous range session.  It helps to leave the session with even the smallest bit of encouragement.  You don’t want negative thoughts about your game dwelling in your head.

Good luck with any changes you are making and play well!

 

Posted in Instruction | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

What Motivates You to Pursue Excellence?

Photo of the author on the range working with the driver.

Photo of the author on the range working with the driver.

What gets you up in the morning to go work on your golf game?

As human beings, we are motivated either one of two ways; extrinsically (pursuit of money, titles, things, etc.),  or intrinsically (praise for a job well done, solving a tough problem, or the self satisfaction of simply improving at something).  Don’t say “both” because you favor one or the other.  Which is it?

I returned from a session at the driving range today, where I was practicing something new, and started wondering why I keep working at this crazy game.  I see bits of improvement here and there but basically maintain the same level of competence from year to year.  What’s my motivation?  I realized that the simple pursuit of improvement (the journey) was providing me the greatest amount of satisfaction.  It keeps me going and definitely puts me in the intrinsic camp.

I like where I’m sitting after reading Mark Manson’s new article, “The Disease of More” where he details the travails of the 1980 Los Angeles Lakers and of folks in general who experience success too fast.  The “Disease”was originally coined by Pat Riley (Lakers coach) who portended that championship teams are often dethroned not by other better teams but by forces that demotivate within their own organization.  The Lakers reached the pinnacle and weren’t content to be a great basketball team.  They lost their motivation by pursuing more money, cars, women, endorsements, and other objects outside of basketball, which ultimately led to their downfall.  Sound like someone we know in the golf world?

From espn.com

From espn.com

I would love to get inside the head of two individuals and understand their motivation.  The first is Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team.  Nick has the titles, he has the dollars, he has the legacy, but I hear him speak often in very process oriented terms.  He sometimes seems joyless in victory because his teams failed to execute on some fine detail of his game plan.  Is it possible he is totally intrinsically motivated in his pursuit of perfection, and views all the victories and championships as a simple extrinsic reward that comes naturally with success, but doesn’t particularly excite him?

The second is Bill Belichick, Patriots head coach.  We are all fascinated by his level of achievement and the secrecy that surrounds his thinking and operation.  Does he want to stick it to the world?  Become the greatest coach of all time?  Or does he just enjoy the grind of a head-to-head match-up across the field from a peer on a weekly basis?  What goes on behind those beady eyes and under that hood?  A lot of good secrets for sure.  If he ever writes a book, I’ll be first in line.

photo from durangoherald.com

photo from durangoherald.com

As a full time desk jockey and a part time golfer, I’m thankful for my intrinsic tendencies and my ability to hold the line on the quality of my game.  For me, the joy is in the never ending journey.  What about you?  Play well!

Posted in Instruction, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My 2017 Golf Improvement Plan

Image from gameimprovementgolf.com

Image from gameimprovementgolf.com

2017 will be about simplification.  What I’m very good at is taking a metrics based approach towards past performance and identifying shortcomings.  My downfall comes when I implement solutions that are overly complex and require unrealistic time and effort.  So let’s use a simplified three-goal approach.

Goal 1:  Play a minimum of 40 rounds.  29 in 2016 were too few and left me disconnected from the game.  In addition, I’m going to focus the bulk of these rounds before August, when my interest wanes.  I will still play through the fall and winter, but need to focus on improvement while I’m motivated.  This is very achievable.

Goal 2:  Improve putts per round to 31.  Last year (32.67) was a disaster compared to 2015 (31.26) and was characterized by trying too many new things too often.  I putt my best when getting plenty of reps but need regular reps and not reps smushed into a single practice session.  I’ve been rug putting over the winter, and taking three dozen 10-foot putts after every indoor workout.  Yesterday I think I found something 🙂 and am excited to leverage this approach throughout the year.  This goal has a medium level of difficulty because there are dependencies on short game effectiveness and ball striking.

Goal 3:  Hit ten greens in regulation per round.  Since I’ve been measuring (2007 to present) I’ve averaged between 8 and 9 GIR every year.  Other than shooting lower scores, good ball striking gives me the most satisfaction.  Admittedly, I am a tinkerer and love to make subtle changes to my move in hopes that I’ll find something to permanently implement.  Yet, while reviewing swing videos over several years, I look strikingly similar in each video.  Despite all that tinkering, nothing changes.  So here’s what’s going to change.  Starting in March, I’m taking a lesson once per month through July.  Last summer, while mirrored in a particularly bad ball striking slump, I took a lesson from my instructor and saw the light that professional help can provide.  It had been years since I took a lesson and I realized that all that self medication didn’t work.  This is going to be the most difficult goal to hit, but I’m starting today.  This afternoon, I’m heading out to the range to film myself to see if I have retained any of the swing changes we worked on last July.  It’ll function as my baseline video and I’ll repeat the process before each lesson.  Next month is Lesson One and we get to work.

So three goals, one easy, one medium, one hard.  I’d say that’s a fair but reasonable approach.  I know some of my fellow bloggers have published your 2017 improvement plans and wonder if you’ve started to implement?  I wish you all a great 2017.  Play well!

 

Posted in Instruction, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Does Tiger Deserve to keep Playing?

TigerIn 2011, Peyton Manning underwent surgery for a pinched nerve in his neck and missed the entire NFL season.  Many questioned his ability to continue his career.  The Denver Broncos took a chance on him and two years later, at 37, he threw a NFL record 55 touchdown passes.  Two years after that, he threw nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and despite winning the Super Bowl, had clearly lost the physical ability to compete.  He rode off into the sunset and now drinks Budweiser and happily pitches Papa Johns pizza.

photo from Getty

photo from Getty

Tiger Woods is one year older than Manning, and their professional careers came of age in roughly the same time period (1997-1998).  Woods is now 41.  Plagued by injuries and psychological foibles he fell from 2nd to 218th in the FedEx standings in 2014 and has done nothing since, except fill his fans with false hope.  Why he continues to play is anyone’s guess, but does he deserve to continue?

If Tiger was in Manning’s shoes, he’d be out.  We often think of golf as the ultimate meritocracy sport but is it?  The answer is still “Yes.”  Tiger earned his place in any field he wants to play in, just as any player with 20 career wins and an active 15-year Tour membership can claim.  Tiger actually still qualifies from his PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP victory in the last five years, but soon he’ll be on the 15-20 list.  Ever wonder why Tom Watson, at 67, occasionally shows up in a PGA Tour event?  He’s on the same exemption list.  Vijay Singh too.  Go here to check out the players that are exempt.  It’s updated daily.

Like it or not, successful PGA Tour events are staged when the tournament sponsor makes money.  Sponsors need those big names to draw crowds and television viewers.  That’s why they are granted exemptions for tournament entrants.  If Tiger is in the field and hacking, people are still watching.  So if better players are shut out of the field, so be it.  The difference is in football, you have a contract, you’re on a team, and you get paid.  If you can no longer perform, you get no contract and are finished.  In golf, you still have a chance.

As long as the current PGA Tour revenue model remains the same, we need that 15-20 exemption list and sponsor’s exemptions to drive attendance and positive viewership.  Guys like David Duval (45) hung on much longer than Tiger.  Duval did absolutely nothing for an entire decade.  Other guys like Ian Baker-Finch knew when they lost it and quit fast.  Tiger Woods should continue to play as long as he likes.  It might get ugly, but shoot, I’ll still be watching.  How about you; think we are good or do we need a change to the exemption rules?

Posted in Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

What is the greatest round ever played?

Photo from GeoffShackelford.com

Photo from GeoffShackelford.com

What qualifies a round of golf for greatest ever played?  A week ago, Canadian Adam Hadwin shot the ninth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history, and his 59 at La Quinta Country Club was only the fourth round of 13-under par in that group.  Hadwin’s 59 was the third sub-60 round on tour in the last five months, which is truly amazing.  Justin Thomas fired a 59 just 10 days ago and Jim Furyk shot the only 58 in Tour history on August 7, 2016 to round out the group.  Despite holding the record low score, Furyk’s 58 was a 12-under effort carded on a par 70 track.  Are any of these rounds the greatest?

There have been 30 rounds of 63 carded in a major championship but never a 62.  Are any of these rounds the greatest?  Is it harder to break 60 in a regular tour event than shoot 63 in a pressure packed major?  I would propose it is since so many more rounds have been played in regular events, and it’s been done only nine times.

To pick the greatest round ever, we need to consider the era in which it was shot, the difficulty of the venue, the pressure the player was under, and also weigh the historical significance.  I submit there are three rounds for consideration:

  1. Johnny Miller’s 63 in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont.  Of all the 63s shot in a major, only Miller’s round and Henrik Stenson’s in last year’s Open Championship were shot in the fourth round AND saw the player win the tournament.  Throw in the pressure of the U.S. Open, and the toughness of Oakmont, and the caliber of equipment Miller was playing with, and you have a serious candidate.
  2. Stenson’s aforementioned 63 in the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon.  What’s seared into our memories is the incredible pressure Phil Mickelson (65) put on Stenson as they dueled head-to-head in the final round, and the fact that Stenson had never won a major.  The pressure had to be tremendous and I remember shaking my head in disbelief at how cool, calm, and collected Stenson was.  After all, his reputation as a finisher was far from stellar.
  3. Al Geiberger’s 13-under 59 in the 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic at Colonial Country Club.  Of all the sub-60 rounds, this was tops because of the venue and era.  The par-72 Colonial Country Club course was playing at 7,334 yards, which is medium long by today’s standards but was huge back then.  With 1977 era equipment, Geiberger’s performance was all the more spectacular.  His sub 60 was the remotest of possibilities.  To put it in perspective, Furyk’s 12-under 58 at the TPC River Highlands was on a venue playing 6,841 yards with new equipment, and was shot in the fourth round with Furyk out of contention.

My choice here is for Geiberger by a nose over Miller.  So what’s your pick for greatest round ever played?  Have I missed one that you’d put in the top three?

I do think that 2017 is going to be a special year from a scoring perspective.  I doubt if we’ll see another 59, but am definitely looking for someone to break 63 in a major.  If and when that happens, who do you think it will be and where?

Play well!

 

Posted in Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Changing Equipment? Do It For The Right Reason!

I am fond of Charles Mingus’ old saying that goes, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”  In 2013 Rory McIlroy changed to Nike equipment and struggled for half a year with the change, and he’s a professional.   He had millions of reasons to complicate his life.

Last weekend I re-gripped my golf clubs and made an interesting discovery.  The three Cleveland CG-16 wedges that came with my custom fit Mizuno irons had several layers of tape built up on the shaft under the right hand.  It’s a common practice to build up the right hand on wedges, but I have never played with the right hand built up.  I began to wonder if this was related to the problems (chip yips) I had experienced since changing wedges.  After the grips were dry, I took them out to the driving range for a bake off with my old Cleveland Tour Action gap and sand wedges.  The results favored the older wedges, so I removed the CG 50, 54, and 58 wedges for my round today, and replaced them with the two Tour Action wedges and a 5-WD.

Previously, I’d hit all my sand and green-side shots fine with the 56 degree Tour Action.  During my round today I felt very confident around the greens chipping and pitching with the older club.  I realized that the only reason I removed the older wedges was because the new three wedge system came with my club fitting.  By changing equipment for the wrong reason, I may have inadvertently messed with my short game.  With the new clubs, I was trying to decide which shot and technique to use based on whether I was using the 54 or 58.  Egad.

It’s been said that putting old equipment back in your bag is like getting back together with an old girl friend.  It’s great at first but you eventually remember why you broke up.  Nobody forced me to dump my old wedges, they were working fine.  This break up should never have happened.

Try not to make the same mistake and play well!

 

Posted in Instruction, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Confident vs. Cocky

tiger-confident-and-cockyWhich camp do you fall in?  When you play your best on the golf course how do you feel, confident or cocky?  Try to align yourself with one of today’s top professionals.  Jason Day is confident.  Henrik Stenson is confident.  Dustin Johnson is surprisingly confident and a little bit humble.  Just look at Rory McIlroy’s gait when he is winning.  Tremendously cocky.  Jordan Speith has transitioned from a cocky youth to confident consummate professional.  When he was at his peak, Tiger Woods was the most cocky AND confident player on the planet.  Now he exhibits neither, which is why I’m skeptical of his comeback attempt.  Phil Mickelson, the ultimate showman, is both.  Bottom line:  To play effectively, you need one or the other.

WARNING ALARM!  I hope this isn’t you.  The last time I played my best, I was neither confident nor cocky but rather surprised.  This is not a good state to be in.  It was probably due to my lower level of preparation and infrequent play.  However, five years ago, I was in an excellent hot streak and exhibited a high level of confidence.  When I play and practice a lot, my confidence rises.  Normally, I’m a 95% confident type, but when the 5% cocky appears, I’ll try some boneheaded shot that I haven’t practiced, which leads to a triple bogey.  Have any of you confident types experienced this?

Our personality leads us to either a confident or cocky on-course persona and it’s best to play to your personality.  Unless your on-course behavior is horrible, when we deviate from our personality is when we screw up.  If you are a gregarious show-off, normally you’ll fall in the cocky camp and need to play as such to be comfortable, but if you’re a more quiet unassuming strategist, you’ll play as a confident type.  This is why it took Phil Mickelson so long to adjust his on course behavior away from taking unnecessary risks that cost him several major championships.  He’s still cocky at heart but has learned to become more of a tactician that always plays with a game plan.   I think fans still love when “Phil The Thrill” comes out, but watch him in the majors and especially at The Masters.  He’ll come out with a confident game plan and rarely deviates.

To be successful, you need one or the other.  To find yours, think back when you were in competition and playing your best (and your worst).  What did you have and what were you missing?  As mentioned earlier, at my best I was supremely confident.  At my worst I had nothing and was completely intimidated.

Confident vs. cocky; what works for you?  Shoot me a comment with your type and a story if you’ve got one.  Play well!

Posted in Instruction, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

2016, That’s A Wrap!

2016-report-cardWe started yesterday’s round just after 12-noon basking in glorious sunshine and 70 degree temperatures.  We finished in near darkness with sleet coming down sideways.  The golf god’s message was clear; it was time to put a wrap on 2016.

The golf season never really ends in the DMV but is just suspended by periods of cold and wet.  Last year I finished in December and resumed in February and in some years, we play right through the winter.  This year, transitioning to a new job and handling life’s interruptions didn’t help to stabilize a season that was characterized by ho hum performance.  From a metrics standpoint, my handicap remained at 5.  My GIR average was still stuck between 8 and 9, and putts per round trended poorly, increasing by a stroke and a half per round.  Also, my 29 rounds played were the fewest since 2010.

Despite the mediocrity, I gained three excellent lessons learned:

One:  Mechanics matter.  When you struggle with your swing to a point of despondency, stop trying to self-medicate and go seek professional help.  I’m a big believer in filming my own swing, but when my ball striking fell in the crapper and I couldn’t fix myself, I benefited greatly from a full swing lesson with a PGA professional.  His trained eye helped me and led to an increased sense of satisfaction and belief in self.  I learned that I had the physical ability to hit a golf ball consistently straight, and that age was merely a number and was playing much less of a negative impact on performance.

Two:  Repetition matters.  It should go without saying, but no practice and infrequent play make Johnny a lousy golfer.  Life’s limitations forced this on me for stretches in 2016 and I paid for it.  You can have all the correct mechanics, solid mental preparation, and game simulation you want, but without frequent play and concentrated practice, your will lose your edge.  I took comfort from the repeated reps I enjoyed during my late season golf trip.  I found a renewed confidence that given the time and enough dedication, I could stabilize and improve all aspects of my game.  I can’t wait to have that opportunity, although I’m not sure when it will come.

Three:  Yips are part mental and physical.  You are never fully fixed, just in some state of recovery.  Thank God, I’ve never had putting yips, but have struggled with chipping for years.  Enough early season work around the green provided a mechanical solution, and then a small change to my pre-shot routine helped the mental side.  My only advice for any yippers out there, if you commit to a routine on or around the green of “rehearse – play without delay – accept the result,” you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.

So there you have it for 2016.  Keep your glutes firing and play well!

Posted in Instruction, Opinion | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Playing Old School

Works For Ricky!

Works For Ricky!

Charles Mingus once said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”  Last weekend that was the theory of the case I set out to prove on my 54-hole eastern shore jaunt.  The plan was to play the first 18 holes with the assist from a GPS and a laser range finder, but to dispense with both devices in round two.  Round three would be played with the preferred method taken from the prior two days.

First, it was awesome to finally golf on consecutive days for the first time since early June.  The experiment was admittedly a small sample size, so much of the feedback was based on gut feel rather than hard metrics.  My day-to-day performance showed continual improvement, which was encouraging (84-78-76) and the reps were invaluable and served as a quasi practice for the following day’s game.

Round one at Heritage Shores (Bridgeville, DE) was characterized by a hot start, a mid-round ball striking implosion, and a strong finish.  Using both devices didn’t feel any different even though I was conscious of trying to match exact yardage to swing.  I putted poorly all day but stumbled into a swing key that allowed me to play the last five holes in even par, and to hit four of the five greens.  Despite the poor score, I left the course encouraged about the swing band-aid I had found, and for the experiment I was going to try the next day.

Saturday, we played Eagles Landing (Ocean City, MD).  The carts were equipped with GPS and I basically ignored it unless I couldn’t find ground yardage.  There is no driving range at Eagles Landing and we were limited to some light chipping and putting before we went off.  I promptly pull hooked my drive on #1 and made double, and followed that with a big push on #2 for a bogey.  Yardage was playing no part in this mess.  So I decided to keep the driver in the bag until my body loosened up and I managed to stabilize using 3WD.  On number 8, I found another swing key and managed to strike it solid and played the rest of the way around in 2-over.  Here I noticed some gains by pacing off yardages on the short wedge shots from the fairway.  Without precise yardage, I relied on my stock practice range shots to carry distances I was comfortable with, and this was key!  I am not a professional and cannot dedicate tons of range time perfecting partial wedge shots to specific distances.  Just give me 50-75-100 yard shots and I proved that hitting to those yardages was more effective than snapping an exact number on the laser and trying to modify my swing to match.

Sunday at Baywood Greens (Long Neck, DE) was a completely different story.  We got to the course 1.5 hours ahead of our tee time and got ample range time in plus putting green and short game warm ups.  In addition, I had a game plan from the previous two days and felt very prepared and it showed.  The good work with the short irons continued despite not having exact yardages and I felt completely in control.  I also noticed the impact of imprecise yardages diminished the farther you were from the flag stick.

At the end of our short experiment, I’d have to conclude that the back to back to back rounds were probably more beneficial to my game than how I measured my yardages.  I liked not having as much to do and think about between shots, but honestly felt that I could do a better job planning my shots even with exact yardage.  In short, it really didn’t matter how it was calculated, but I’m going to try without the range finder for my next few rounds.

Do you have a preference for course navigation?  Please share if you do.

Thanks and play well!

Posted in Instruction, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Do You Golf Like An Artist or Scientist?

artvsscienceHuman beings are predisposed to favor either creativity or analysis in their thought processes.  Take cooking for example.  We prepare a successful meal by either following a recipe or inventing one on the fly.  I am definitely in the latter camp, and believe that when we identify with a trend, it’s probably best to play golf in a similar fashion.  I had an epiphany recently.  I have always thought I trended scientific, but now believe the opposite is true, and realize my current technical approach may be hurting my game.

Do you play with a laser range finder?  I do and my regular golf partner has a GPS device.  These are wonderful instruments of precision and we normally share information on most shots, so I have the distance to the flag, the distance to the front, middle, and back of the green, as well as distance to any hazards or hidden course features at my disposal.  When I factor in wind direction and speed, condition of the putting surface, and my current swing key(s), it feels like I’m trying to land a 747 on a small runway in a 20 knot cross wind.  I’ve been consuming all this information for a long time and have been struggling to hit shots when thinking so precisely.  I think there’s a connection because I had more success when I simplified by calculating yardages old school (using sprinkler head distances to the middle of the green and adding or subtracting estimated yardages for front or back pin placements).   Lately I’ve also noticed I’ve had good results executing difficult recovery or partial shots where my approach has been very simple.

Here’s two recent shots side-by-side to illustrate.  Shot 1:  Yesterday I had a short approach into a par-5.  I measured 54 yards uphill to a back flag.  It was downwind, and the greens were running fast.  I had 60 yards to the back.  I thought, “lob wedge to 51 yards” but tried to be too precise and shut the face a little and the ball trickled over the green into the fringe about 25 feet long leaving a treacherous downhill putt, which I promptly three-jacked.  I’d have been better off playing for the middle of the green.  Shot 2:  Last week, I drove a ball under a tree with low hanging branches.  I had 160 yards left but could not elevate a shot.  I thought, “hit a low 130 yard 3-iron then let it run up”.  Now who practices that shot on the range?  Not me, but I just rehearsed a simple little half flip with the club and hit the shot as planned.  My target was much less precise, but I felt more relaxed during my pre-shot routine than for Shot 1.  Why?  I believe Shot 1 had too many technical inputs and Shot 2 didn’t.  It allowed me to take a creative approach that my brain was comfortable with.

So what to do now?  It’s quite possible that I’m not using the information at my disposal correctly or maybe it’s just too much information.  I’m going to experiment on my upcoming eastern shore golf trip Friday to Sunday.  Friday’s round is at Heritage Shores which I have played twice and am less familiar.  I’m going to use the laser and GPS.  Saturday we play Eagles Landing which I have played over a dozen times and know where to hit it.  So I will go old school and pace off yardages and simplify.  Sunday at Baywood Greens will be the more comfortable of the two approaches.  I will let you know how it goes next week.

Do you over-complicate your approach on the course?  Hope not.

Play well!

Posted in Instruction, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

You Can Play Well Without Practice!

This fall, I’ve barely scraped out enough time for a once-per-week round of golf, and have not been practicing much between rounds but have been scoring pretty well.  Can you play effectively without practicing?  The answer is “yes” but it requires a mental adjustment, which we’ll go into shortly.

Before you remove practice, it’s best to understand what you need from it.  I score best when my play is preceded by full game practice.  That means range plus short game the day before a round.  Over the years, I’ve compiled notes for my practice sessions, whether it be ball striking, chipping, putting, or bunker play, and I’ll typically review those to identify what I practiced before successful and unsuccessful rounds of golf.  My data shows I practice short game 70% of the time.  For me, the quality of practice the day before is a good indicator of the score I can expect the next day.  If I struggle to concentrate during practice, or cannot make good contact, it’s inevitably followed by a poor round.  But if I’m focused like a laser, good things are going to happen.  Other folks hit buckets of pure shots in practice but can’t take it from the range to the course, or vise versa.  You need to know your trends and what to compensate for.

So what adjustments can every player make?  First, know that your short game is probably going to be affected the most by lack of practice.  A full swing is an athletic motion that gets repeated dozens of times during a round and with the reps comes consistency.  This is why our first round of the year is often a good ball striking round, but our chipping and putting are usually rusty.  Short shots are unique and require practice.  The subtle adjustments for distance, lie, and the speed of the putting surface demand it.  This brings us to our primary adjustment.  The key to playing without practice is to remove reliance on too much short game by taking a more conservative ball striking approach, i.e. keep the ball out of trouble.  It sounds simple, but it works!  Resist the temptation to go for the big hit, which may mean using a 3-wood instead of driver on some tee shots.  Also try to take more of the fairway on doglegs.  Course architects will tempt you to cut dogleg corners to save distance.  Don’t bite.  When playing in windy or rainy conditions, adjust your personal par to compensate for the increased difficulty and give yourself a mental break.  It’s much easier to play a long par-4 like a short par-5 from the fairway, than constantly pressing to recover from trouble off the tee.  This game is exponentially easier played from the short grass so make it easy on yourself.  Remember Tiger’s 81 in the harsh conditions of the 2002 Open Championship?  You’re not playing for a major; don’t be like Tiger.  tiger-woods-2002-open-ian-hodgson_640

I played yesterday in very heavy wind which was extremely difficult and added five shots to the par-71 scorecard before I started.  I played great and my 81 was only five strokes over my personal par which felt very satisfying.

So there you have it.  Exercise some sound course management, keep the ball in play, and enjoy!

Have you had any success playing without practice or do you got to have your reps?  Please share and play well!

Posted in Instruction | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

When The Passion Runs Hot!

fightMedia pundits and some fellow bloggers need to relax about the rowdy fan behavior during Friday’s opening matches at the Ryder Cup, and enjoy the event.  There’s nothing wrong with a little jacked up passion because it allows folks to get energized and blow off some steam.  After all, it is the start of football season in the United States and is coupled with the run up to a divisive general election.  The two have fans simmering to a boil, and the Ryder Cup serves as a welcome pressure valve.  With each new edition of the bi-annual competition, the fire does burn a little hotter and the stakes seem a little higher, which was certainly the case yesterday at Hazeltine.

I’m pulling hard for the U.S. team but loved Rory McIlroy’s theatrics after holing his match-winning eagle putt on #16.  As long as players aren’t bothered during their pre-shot routines, or while making a stroke, I’m fine with the vocal outbursts.  While this may seem at odds with the gentlemanly nature of golf, it makes for a very memorable sports experience.

Think back to your own most memorable sports experiences.  They may not have been the best played events, but what made them memorable?  Emotion!  My three were the 1981 Orange Bowl between Oklahoma and Florida State which was a one point game decided in the last minute and accompanied by some outrageous fan behavior after the game was over; a 1982 basketball game between my Maryland Terrapins and the top-ranked Virginia Cavilers who were led by Ralph Sampson.  This was a one point overtime victory for the Terps and was categorized by a last second buzzer beater and a second half fight between the teams.  And finally, my first MLB playoff game in 2012 between the Orioles and Yankees at Camden Yards.  A three-hour rain delay with plenty of beer fueled the festivities.  Here’s a video I shot pre-game with folks getting warmed up.

Generally, these great events involve either a bitter rivalry, a close score, or some pent up hard feelings for the other side.  Golf is unique because it’s mostly individual competitions and fans provide ample support for players of different countries at most of the big events, but in the Ryder Cup, rivalry, closeness of the competition, and some hard feelings all form the key ingredients for a delicious passionate stew.

Let’s hope things don’t get out of hand; I suspect they won’t.  Enjoy the passion and the spectacle!

 

Posted in Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Long Live The King

with-arnold-palmer-at-bay-hillI was very saddened at the passing of Arnold Palmer yesterday.  His humbleness, kindness, and unassuming personality towards regular folks made him truly a man of the people.  He was one of my heroes and will be missed.  I’d like to share a couple of Arnie stories.

At 19 years old, I was attending the Kemper Open at Congressional Country Club.  Even at age 51, Arnie was a fierce competitor and it was true that he could burn hot at times.  On this day, I was in his gallery surrounding the par-4 12th green.  Arnie hit his approach on in regulation and proceeded to three-putt for bogey.   After holing out, Arnie sent the blade into orbit with a two-hand jaw-dropping reverse tomahawk straight over his head.  I was half shocked and half amazed that I just saw one of the greatest players on earth wing metal in earnest.  I thought, how cool was that!  And Arnie had the wherewithal to aim this rocket towards the next tee box and away from any curious onlookers.  The image has remained with me to this day and in 1985 it turned into a lesson on club throwing.  I was playing the uphill par-5 17th at Kenwood Country Club in Bethesda, MD and badly missed my second shot with a 4-iron.  I sent my own missile helicoptering off into the left rough and spent the next 15 minutes searching for my golf club in knee-high fescue.  I have never thrown a club since.

In 2010, I was on a family vacation during spring break in Orlando.  On the last day of the trip, my son Elliot and I ventured out to Bay Hill to visit the course and collect souvenirs.  Our last stop was the 18th green, the scene of so many memorable Bay Hill Classic finishes.  A work crew was taking down the last of the bleachers from the recently completed tournament, and I noticed out of the corner of my eye way down in the fairway a very familiar golf swing.  Yes, the King was out playing golf and we were there watching with nobody else around!  Must have been my fight or flight mechanism kicking in but I don’t ever remember being as excited on a golf course, and I yelled for Elliot to “get the camera out!”

Arnie had always been a club tinkerer and was always looking for a way to improve his golf, even late in life.  arnold-palmers-setWhat struck me first was how many clubs were in his bag.  There must have been about 40 in the two Arnold Palmer Callaway tour bags.   We watched Arnie and his foursome putt out and he came strolling over to his cart.  We walked up and introduced ourselves.  It was a hot day and Arnie was looking tired but he was so gracious and accommodating when we asked him to pose for a couple pictures.  Not wanting to keep him for long, we got our photos and chatted for a couple minutes.  I asked him how he played and he said he’d shot an 81 (not bad for an 80-year old) and had, “taken a couple bucks off his friends.”  I thought, not bad for a man with seven major championships and millions in the bank.

Truly a man of the people.  RIP King.

 

Posted in Opinion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments