Friday, December 29, 2006

A Golfer's New Year's Resolutions

I’m not real big on New Year’s resolutions. Everybody makes them and then forty-eight hours later they’re down the proverbial tube. Then it’s “wait ‘til next year” and we’ve got 363 days of freedom. So why bother?

However, I think it’s different for golf, at least it should be. I think it’s important that each of us make one, or perhaps more, golf-related New Year’s resolution. Realizing this can be a daunting task, the Eye On Golf staff has compiled a short list to get you started. This list, as they say, is not all inclusive. It is provided
for your motivation and guidance.

I resolve to...

Yes, it’s a very broad resolution but very purposeful. Not everyone can get to the golf course or practice facility every day, but that doesn’t mean you cannot do something everyday to improve. Even if the weather is frightful or your time is limited, you can stretch the muscles and then swing a weighted golf club for 15-20 minutes. You’ll be amazed with the results.

Yes, you read that correctly. The game can be played on foot. If your favorite golf course does not allow you to walk, go somewhere else. Not only is it great exercise to walk around the course, it will assuredly improve your game. And you can start getting in shape for that now!

No other sport lends itself to the production of literature like golf. A few hundred “golf” books are published every year, so you’ll be a long time catching up on your reading. Every category imaginable is available: instruction, biography, course architecture, reference, anthology, etc. You name it, it’s within your reach. Spend a little less time reading magazines and a little more time reading books. You'll be a better golfer and a better person for it.

If you’re in a location where you have forced hibernation and no golf for a few months, it’s a good idea to get a quick half-hour checkup before you head to the first tee for the first time in the new season. You’ll have a lot more fun and save a lot of aspirin.

There’s just four suggestions. And there’s many more. Go for it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

LPGA Still Has an Identity Problem

I recently wrote a blog for which elicited a response from one of our avid readers and triggered some increased intellectual golf resuscitation. In the process of a lively debate as to why Wie won over Woods in a Time magazine Influential People Poll, Alex wrote, “...are you sure that Bubbles is the only female golfer who may have influenced a great number of young girls to strive for careers in golf? After all, we do have several others like Paula, Lorena, Juli, Se Ri and Annika who have won a ton of tournaments.”
Bingo, Alex. Right to the point. And you got some great assistance from Judge Smails and One-Putt. It's all about the freaking media. Unless you're a hardened golf fan and enjoy following the LPGA, chances are you may have heard nothing or very little about anyone except Annika. Paula is a doll and can win; Lorena is sweet yet intense; Juli is personable and intelligent and still beats the kids; Se Ri and Karrie provided us with two of the most dramatic moments in golf this year and yet, unless you watch The Golf Channel religiously, it is unlikely you would have more than a passing mention of their accomplishments. In contrast who would not believe that if Michelle Wie had made the cut in a men's event, the Network Evening News would have carried it as the lead story. Katie Couric would have been slobbering.

And therein lies the problem for the LPGA. How does this marvelous group of female golfers get the attention off of a teenager who has yet to win a tournament (save for a USGA Publinx) and onto those ladies who are accomplished, athletic and attractive? The major golf publications don't even give proper recognition to the women. Within the past couple of days an writer listed the best tournaments of 2006. The U.S. Open and the British Open were 1 & 2. Number 3 was the Kraft-Nabisco. This is so far off base that it is not even credible. A strong case can be made for the Kraft-Nabisco, the LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women's Open being the top three of the year. But, if you think that will happen in a major golf magazine, come see me and I'll get you on to Pebble Beach for free.

The LPGA needs to figure it out and here's a little help with step one. Let the bloggers provide some assistance. There's thousands who would be extremely cooperative in the venture to show off the LPGA. The LPGA must begin to realize who really loves them.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Our Annual Chirstmas Reading List

Golfers, as a whole, don't read much about the game they love to play. Reading these thought provoking blogs or the Snooty Golf Magazine's latest and greatest monthly tip does not count. We're talking books here. How can we make this brash statement? Why a survey, of course. It may not be the super-scientific survey that you get from the ABC/ESPN/NY Times that can slant the results to fit their convictions, but it is simple and straightforward. Just ask a couple of simple questions, “What was the last golf book you read? And, When was that?” Just a name and a date. Nothing else. We've been doing this for a while now and can safely support our opening statement. And, as soon as the check from this government-funded study arrives, we will publish the findings.

Thus, in order to promote an increase in golfer reading, we're going to give you a few suggestions for the golfer on your Christmas list. Instead of purchasing a dozen Top Flites, head to the Internet or into your favorite bookstore and select an edifying golf book. Here's a few worthwhile suggestions from the volumes we have encountered this year:

The Art of Putting by Stan Utley. I read a fair quantity of books that claim to fall into the golf instruction category. (Many don't by the way.) This one is an exception, an excellent instruction book and one of the best ever on putting. We all know how important putting is. Just do the math. Before you hit your first tee shot, half of the game is played on the green. Utley's The Art of Putting is simple, practical, and right to the point – the necessary ingredients for a good instruction book. Utley takes you from “The Basics” right through “Advanced Techniques” and “Faults and Fixes.” This book will teach you how to putt from the moment you open the cover. One sad note, there is a DVD that can come with the book, don't bother. It doesn't really cover much of what is in the book.

Fairways of Life by Matthew Adams. For inspiration from the game of golf, you can't go wrong with Adams' uplifting insight. You might remember him from Chicken Soup for the Soul of America, The Golf Channel and a few other journalistic adventures. This is Adams' forte. Real life stories and short, uplifting essays make up the majority of the book. It's short, fast reading that will leave you feeling good about yourself and the game of golf. It may also motivate you to do more for the game of golf.

A Disorderly Compendium of Golf by Lorne Rubenstein and Jeff Newman. This is the book that follows the statement, “Everything you wanted to know about golf, but were afraid to ask.” It has pages and pages of fun facts about the game and, true to its title, it is organized in a disorderly manner. There is no Chapter One where you might find everything about The Masters and Augusta National. In fact there is no Chapter One, or Two, or Three...and no Table of Contents. It's just a volume stuffed with stuff about golf – fact, figures, stories, anecdotes and a few statistical goodies. You might not agree with everything the authors have to say but it's an entertaining read for any golf fan.

Off the Beaten Cart Path by Dave Marrandette. Yes, this is my latest book. It was written during our travels around the country in a motorhome. You'll find stories and pictures of nineteen distinctive golf courses throughout the country, courses you won't find in Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, etc. Perhaps this volume will motivate you to discover your own hidden gems that may be as close as a few miles up the street.

So, there's just four. Now go for it. Fore!

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Challenge to TW Design

Just about a month ago, Nov. 7 to be exact, I penned a blog on, focusing on the announcement of TW Design and the fact that it will not help the growth of the game. I had two main concerns: one was that a great player does not equal a great designer; and, two these courses will not come cheap and be available to the masses. That blog upset the local villagers. They proceeded to tar and feather me and then burn my cabin to the ground. Well, we have scrubbed off the tar and rebuilt the shack. And now, what do you know? TW Design has made the announcement that they intend to build their first course in Dubai, a country that has more money than seven PAC's. Tiger will join fellow pros Els, Bjorn, Montgomerie and Baker-Finch with a golf course venture in Dubai. (It'll get a little crowded over there, but it won't be hard to find a tee time.)

Why did Tiger choose Dubai for his first course? Because he wanted the "challenge of transforming a desert terrain into a world-class golf course." If Tiger wants desert, he should call me. I'm surrounded by desert here in Arizona. I'm also surrounded by thousands of children – African-American, Native-American, Hispanic, and White – who can only dream of learning how to play the game we love. The game is just a little too expensive. Wait, make that a lot too expensive.

Here's my challenge and proposal to you, Mr. Woods. If you really want to leave a legacy to the game, never charge another dime for the design of a golf course and make sure that the land for each design has been donated. Further ensure that each new course will be built in an area where economically challenged children will have ready access. (You just never know from whence the next Tiger Woods will come.) Guarantee that no child will ever have to pay more than a few dollars to play a round of golf. (There will be no golf carts, of course and we will drop the word “rental” from rental clubs.)

So, Mr. Woods, when you are ready to begin to build on the heritage that you will leave to the game, call me. I have the perfect place to begin building your true legacy.