Monday, December 24, 2007

Book Review: The Poetics of Golf

A golf book that is similar to a round of golf at least concerning its interest-provoking quality. That’s the conclusion I reached after reading and then rereading several sections of Andy Brumer’s most recent volume The Poetics of Golf. The journey through the book was like a round of golf, ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and a few surprises along the way. But in reflection I can say that regardless of how I felt through one chapter, I was always ready to go to the next.

Brumer has a most credible background in golf journalism - a former editor of Golf Tips magazine and most recently a coauthor with Bobby Clampett on The Impact Zone: Mastering Golf’s Moment of Truth. He also has a history in art literature which probably lends a hint to his liking and occasional reference to Michael Murphy’s symbolistic volume Golf in the Kingdom.

The book is actually a collection of essays and thoughts divided into five sections each one focusing on a central theme. Part One, Golf as Memoir, is largely autobiographical and offers some interesting insight into Brumer’s lifelong journey with golf. If you want to know what makes him tick, read this part. Part Three, The Golf Swing as the Axis of the World, became my favorite and really saved the book for me. This section makes an effort to explain the mystical quality of the golf swing as well as examining the technical. If you play golf and are remotely interested in your golf swing, you will thoroughly enjoy this insight. You’ll be introduced to Moe Norman and Homer Kelly, two men who were unique instructors in the world of golf. Golf and the Soul, the final section, will be most appealing to those golfers among us who are zen-like, constantly looking for a reason why golf affects us like it does. The chapter on Golf and Spirituality will best be enjoyed once you have stepped outside yourself and let your mind be influenced by elements other than reality.

So, if you’re a golfer and have an undeniable passion for golf literature, get your hands on Brumer’s The Poetics of Golf. It will whet your appetite for the mystical side of golf using the game itself as a looking glass.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Book Review: A Hacker's Humiliations

With Christmas 2008 just a short dogleg, par four away, you are undoubtedly looking for that perfect gift for the golfer in your life who has every gadget ever created for the game. Well stop searching in the dark, chip your ball back into the light, get to your favorite book provider and procure a copy of A Hacker’s Humiliations: A Glossary of Golf Grotesqueries. Joel Zuckerman’s latest volume is lighthearted, amply illustrated, and, in a humorous sort of way, truthful.

Zuckerman (and illustrator Tom Matthews) have cleverly put together a collection of virtually every golf-afflicted malady that every golfer has at sometime experienced on and perhaps off the golf course. From the tee box to the putting green Joel Z. has hit the game’s frustrations right on the tee. Whether it be the golfing disorder or the player that is terminally afflicted, Zuckerman has it pegged for our reading pleasure. On the tee box you’ll meet Dr. Double Cross and instantly recognize him as one of your most recent playing partners. In the fairway you’ll share the travails of Uneven Steven who never found an uneven lie which he could parley precisely. And around the greens the mortal terror of the bunker regurgitates a host of memories for all of us to share.

Moreover, just to prove that game is not selective in its torment to only the legions of dubs who flood the fairways everyday, Zuckerman has peppered the pages with a few “Hacker Hall of Fame Moments.” You’ll get a flashback to the Jean Van de Velde tragedy, a gut wrenching recount of the Calcavecchia Ryder Cup hosel rocket, and a couple other professional frailties that prove all golfers are subject to the disasters of the game.

Zuckerman’s style is animated and the composition of the book makes for a quick and enjoyable read. You could easily read it at one sitting or systematically digest it in a “devotional” style. For that “hard-to-shop-for” golfer on your list, A Hacker’s Humiliations is a seasonal solution.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Commish Finchem Now Golf's Public Enemy Number One

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has now officially become a danger to the sport. Earlier in the year in the process of hyping the FedEx(Lax) Cup, Mr. Finchem described the final four events - a series of season-ending golf tournaments he uniquely dubbed The Playoffs - as “the most impactful series of events in the history of the sport.” It is the analysis of this one statement that has led Eye On Golf to its above conclusion.

First, this is the absolute height of arrogance. Finchem might as well have said, “I am the great Tim Finchem and I have created this enduring Golf Playoff System for you, Mr. Golf Fan. I know exactly what you want and need.” Well, Timmy, bad news. None of the daily members at our club have taken the time to discuss the FedEx(Lax) Cup. In fact, none have rushed into my office bubbling with golf enthusiasm just to discuss the results of “the most impactful series of events in the history of the sport.” And this is the fan base on which Finchem wanted to focus. It seems they couldn’t be bothered to watch Tiger add another $10 million to SAM’s college fund.

Secondly, it demonstrates that Mr. Finchem has no sense of history in regard to the sport. Perhaps he would like golf fans to dismiss the accomplishments of Francis Ouimet and Bobby Jones. If it were not for their prowess with a golf club and the “impact” they had on the game, Mr. Finchem might be digging ditches in Dallas for a living. (Come to think of it, if that were his position in life, he might have a more positive influence on the game.)

And speaking of education, what kind of example are you setting, Mr. Finchem, when you use words such as “impactful.”? It is possible, although highly doubtful, that little golfers in our country have aspirations to someday grow up to be the Commissioner of the PGA Tour. They will obviously need a strong vocabulary based on the example that you have set. However, the use of words that are difficult to find in the dictionary (I check in three for “impactful” with no success.), is no way to guide young commissioners.

Mr. Finchem, you are on your way to becoming golf’s public enemy number one.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Book Review: Teach Yourself VISUALLY Golf

As a golf instructor I am constantly on the lookout for teaching tips, methods, ideas and information that will improve my knowledge and skill as an instructor. Mostly I focus on books rather than quick articles that you find in magazines or websites. Books, because they have the advantage of time and space, usually get to the details. Whereas the quick articles are often putting a band-aid on a golfer’s problem rather than providing a lasting cure. There is, of course, no shortage of golf instruction books. They are, without a doubt, the most popular area of golf journalism. For the most part they all approach the learning of the game of golf in much the same way – here’s what to do from the grip through the swing with maybe a picture or two. There are a few classics and the remainder are also-rans in the race for instructional redundancy.

Thankfully, there is on occasion an instruction book published that, because of its unique presentation, is worthy of recognition. Wiley Press’ series of Teach Yourself VISUALLY books finally found the golf instructional world. Teach Yourself VISUALLY Golf is an optical treat and verbal achievement for both the golf teacher and the beginning student. The most striking aspect of the book is the pictures. Very nearly every page has colored pictures to visually explain the instruction found in the text.

The contents of the book are totally comprehensive for the beginning golfer. The three authors, Cheryl Anderson (LPGA Pro), Brian Crowell (PGA Pro), and Tom Mackin (Journalist), have obviously thought through the material the every beginning golfer should know. The eleven well-organized chapters teach not only the playing of the game, but also such also such valuable topics as etiquette, terminology, history, and equipment.

Teach Yourself VISUALLY Golf is a most welcome addition to the world of golf instructional literature both for the instructor and the student. It is not a book to just read, but rather a volume to be studied by teachers and students. Teachers who frequently instruct beginners will find this book presents a comprehensive and well-organized list of all aspects of the game that a novice golfer should know. Students should have this book on their shelves for continual reference. If you are just learning the game, take lessons from a reputable teacher and buy this book now.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Stupid Press Conference Questions

I had to share this with all golf fans, just in case you were wondering about the penetrating, soul-searching questions that dedicated golf writers ask during those press conferences following a player's round. This one is from the BMW Championship (formerly Western) third playoff tournament for the FedEx(Lax) Cup. All that excitement led to the following exchange between Tiger and a golf writer who obviously has been tasked to cover the FedEx(Lax) Cup. (My thanks to Geoff Shackelford for the heads up on this.):

Q. Did you go home from Boston or did you come straight here?

TIGER WOODS: I came straight here.

Q. Did you wear that shirt last week?


I just don't understand why this reporter didn't ask the obvious question at this point: Did you wash it?

Q. When is the last time you wore a shirt twice?

TIGER WOODS: I wear it all the time, actually. I'm not that way.

Q. I know it sounds really gay, but I recognized it (laughter). It looks good.

TIGER WOODS: Thanks. I love it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Book Review: a golfer’s dream

Virtually every serious golfer is familiar with the perpetual enumeration of greatest golf courses produced by various golf tabloids. Every magazine with any architectural salt produces one of these lists at least every other year. And I’m sure most serious golfers have dreamt about playing all of the courses on one of these lists. So when someone actually accomplishes that task, the achievement is certainly worth a book. And that is what we have here: a golfer’s dream: How a regular guy conquered the Golf Digest list of America’s top 100 golf courses by Larry Berle. Berle’s journey took him ten years to complete. He began with Golf Digest’s list circa 1995 and set out to play all 100 courses, public and private. At many of the courses you are permitted to pay an outrageous fee and tee it up. A majority of the courses are so ultra private it takes a miracle and some luck to be invited to play. Berle set out to conquer the hurdles.

The question is how you go about putting into words what was a special experience to you but is perhaps of mediocre excitement to other golfers? Some golfers may find the whole quest pretentious, others may find it fascinating.

Overall Berle does a respectable job of describing his quest. He tells us about all 100 courses and the lengths he had to go to for the privilege of teeing it up at some of the most private courses in the country. Berle tries to establish himself as a regular guy trying to play all of these courses. However, the fact is, he owned a production company in Minneapolis and was, on several occasions, able to trade concert tickets to get on a private layout. This scenario sometimes led to making the acquaintance of someone who knew someone who…well, you get this picture. The bottom line is that Berle eventually did barter, beg, or ante up his way onto all 100 courses. We admire his ingenuity and networking skills.

This book is not about the golf courses themselves. Overall there is really little description of the layouts proper. (Spyglass Hill gets a nine-line paragraph.) Rather, it is a travelogue and conversational catalogue of Berle’s pursuit of the Top 100.

At times a golfer’s dream is a pleasurable read; at times it left me lamenting for more.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Els Skips Second Event of FedEx(Lax) Cup

If the FedEx(Lax) Cup had any shred of credibility remaining, it is danger of loosing those last few threads. Ernie Els has now bailed on the second event of the Playoffs. (I capitalized that word so Finchem would think it was important.) Ernie said something like, “I’m skipping the second FedEx(Lax) Cup thingy.”

First it was Tiger who ditched FedEx(Lax) Cup 1 because he said he was a little tired from kicking everyone’s ass for two weeks. Now it’s Ernie who is apparently heading home to the U.K. (I though he was from S.A.?!) to help his kids buy pens, pencils and paper and get ready for school. Quite admirable for Ernie.

I would been interesting to hear Finchem’s reaction when he got the news.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Book Review: Golfing on the Roof of the World

Excuse me if all this sound familiar. Golf books come in all shapes and sizes, forms and fashions, literally and figuratively. There seems to be an unlimited number of topics and angles. The subject matter may get stretched at times, but that is one of the more endearing aspects of golf journalism. The genre has an endless range. Yes, this intro has the same ring as the one I used in my last book review. But, it is appropriate for Rick Lipsey’s Golfing on the Roof of the World. Lipsey is a staff golf writer at Sports Illustrated. He has a previous golf volume entitled In Every Kid There lurks a Tiger. In this current effort Lipsey takes us to the country of Bhutan, a neighbor of Tibet high in the Himalayas.

Golfing on the Roof… does not focus on the golf in Bhutan. You see, there is just one golf course in Bhutan, a nine-holer called Royal Thimphu. Rather, Lipsey uses golf as a backdrop to confide to us his love for the country and share his adventures within the culture. It gives us a picturesque description of the country and an introduction to the life and culture of Bhutan. Golf was merely the catalyst that got Lipsey to the country. Vacationing in Bhutan in 2000 Lipsey played Royal Thimphu and was subsequently asked to do a stint as the golf professional. Lipsey is not a golf professional by trade but nevertheless agreed. His enthusiasm for the task at hand became infectious in the country and has, hopefully, developed an awakening for the game

In my last review, Don’t Ask What I Shot, I discovered a book that shows the influence that golf has had on a nation. With Golfing on the Roof…you can discover the potential that golf has to impact the development of a country. Don’t expect a true golf book here, but do anticipate a fun read as Lipsey chronicles his time in Bhutan.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Book Review: Don't Ask What I Shot

Golf books come in all shapes and sizes, forms and fashions, literally and figuratively. There appears to be an unlimited number of topic and angles. The subject matter may get stretched at times, but that is one of the more endearing aspects of golf journalism. The genre has an endless range. So, when I saw Catherine Lewis’ new volume, Don’t Ask What I Shot: How Eisenhower’s Love of Golf Helped Shape 1950's America, I was not quite sure what to expect, at least from the golf perspective. Lewis is an associate professor of history at Kennesaw State University and also a curator at the Atlanta History Center. But she also has a bit of a golf journalism background with the previous publication of Bobby Jones and the Quest for the Grand Slam. I must admit, while about one-third of the way through the book, I thought perhaps this should be a history volume with the world golf thrown in a few times. But as I progressed, I realized this is a golf history book also. Lewis has produced a volume that can be used as a college text and also provides scholarly insight concerning the influence that golf had on the American society in the 1950’s.

Using Ike’s love of golf Lewis presents to us his approach to the presidency which at times, according to his critics, had misguided priorities. You’ll learn to love Ike for his ability to relax in the midst of the most stressful job on earth and to despise him for his apparent disregard of his responsibilities. (He played more than 800 rounds of golf during his two terms in office.) But most of all you’ll get a great appreciation for how Ike helped to generate the golf boom in the U.S. In the end Lewis gives us an interesting historical perspective on Eisenhower’s presidency.

This is not a golf history book, but rather a book that demonstrates how golf has influenced history. Baby Boomers who grew up and discovered golf in this period should find Don’t Ask What I Shot a most fascinating read. Golfers in general should read this to explore how golf became so popular in the United States.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Performance Enhancing Drugs of Golf

After being verbally abused and physically threatened in regard to my supposed lack of knowledge in the area of performance enhancing drugs, I have spent the past few days consulting a multitude of experts on this particular subject. And although not every expert responded to my earnest appeal for knowledge – Barry Bonds did not return my call and there was somewhat of a language snafu when I tried to contact the entire competitive field of the Tour de Farce – I have managed to assemble an up-to-date, albeit limited, list of performance enhancing drugs that would be beneficial to golfers. These are available in the prescription and the over the counter variety.

And now that I have an above par knowledge on the subject I feel much more confident to pass on the following information that I have uncovered concerning performance enhancing drugs in relation to the game of golf. We here at Eye On Golf have received word that the following substances are about to be banned by all major golf organizations around the world whether they be self-appointed or not.

This substance is similar to beta-blockers but much more easily obtained and apparently much more nutritious. The development of this substance involved collaboration among the Sports Psychologist Association & Society (SPASes), Nava Compromise Putters, and the Peanut Integrated Growers (PIGs). It is readily available in supermarkets, golf shops and nut shops. Unfortunately not available to those with peanut allergies.

This is the designer drug of the golf world. It can be customized for each and every player depending on the distances he or she desire from the tee on that particular day. It is fast acting and thus can be adapted for play on a day-by-day basis. It can be obtained by prescription only. The biggest drawback with Driveroid is that this increased distance carries over to every other club in the bag. A secondary downside is that it must be injected into the buttocks each day of tournament play and therefore eliminates the possibility of sitting down on the job. And, sadly, it does not wear off as quickly as it takes effect.

“Tomato Soup”
This being the slang term for the drug. Ingestion of this substance produces results similar to blood-doping – extreme endurance under the most difficult of physical conditions. This would be most beneficial on physically demanding courses, especially at high altitude, or if one is involved in a 36-hole USGA playoff. It too can be found in supermarkets under the label Campbell Plasma Soup and come primarily in a liquid form.

This is what we have discovered and what was on our mind.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Last Word on Steroids

Now I cannot authenticate this, nor do I have time-tested, scientifically affirmed, statistical facts to prove it, nonetheless, I believe the following to be true: Based on what we observe from other sports – baseball, cycling, wrestling – steroids would probably benefit a professional golfer in certain performance aspects, but certainly not all. However, there are other performance aspects where a regular and healthy dose of performance enhancing drugs, especially steroids, would be extremely detrimental.

Steroids would undoubtedly assist the highly skilled professional add length to his shots. The length of drives would probably increase to the 350-400 yard range. Seven irons would travel 225-250 yards and so on. Length, length, length would be the beneficial result from an active steroid campaign. You get the picture. On the other hand there is a downside to all this additional length – a reduced ability in the short game. I’ve got to believe it would be quite difficult to execute delicate wedge shots when you’re all bulked up from steroid use. And the feel required for the putting green is a similar story.

And I think we could also assume that since performing enhancing drugs assist bicyclists in their never ending search for speed, the same benefit could be applied to golfers. Simply put players would walk faster. Now you would logically conclude that this fact might be interpreted to mean that pace of play would increase. But that might not be true. I don’t believe it has been proven but the consistent use of steroids may in fact reduce one’s ability to think clearly. (Let’s face it; anyone who is mentally deficient enough to believe that such drugs are beneficial is already heading down that path.)

So it should be easy for the PGA Tour to determine who might be likely candidates for drug testing. Those players who average over 300 yards off the tee and have short game stats at the bottom of the lists are likely users. A good secondary gauge is those players whose caddies cannot keep up the pace on the course.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another Costly Mistake by the USGA

Once again the USGA has made a costly mistake. By scheduling the U.S. Women’s Open in North Carolina in the summer that have brought the inevitable weather delay into play for virtually every round. The southeast is the hot, unbearably humid, dangerous thunderstorm capital of the U.S. If you really want to sweat (or glow) like a little piggy when you play a round of golf, go play there in the summer.

So now the USGA is stuck in the middle of round two. Half of the field has not even teed it up for its nineteenth hole and the majority has not finished 36 holes. It has now become a logistical nightmare to finish this tournament on Sunday assuming there are no more weather delays.

But the solution is simple. Hold the event here in southern Arizona in late June. There are a myriad of reasons why So. AZ is a better choice than some tree-lined, Donald Ross-designed course in the middle of one of the self-appointed golf capitals of the world.

Consider just a few of the undeniable benefits:

The weather will be no problem. We can almost guarantee all day sunshine with the temperature about 110 degrees with virtually no humidity.

There will be no need for evacuation vans in the event of thunder and lightening.

Parking will be no problem for the few hundred spectators and staff. There are hundreds of acres of desert.

The players won’t have to put up with all those damned pine trees that tend to reach out a grab a golf ball. And there’ll none of that ultra-thick, made-for-hay bluegrass rough that’s ill advised for the limp-wristed.

Yes, and I have no doubt there are a multitude more valid reasons for AZ and the place. Just add your own.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Book Review: The Scorecard Always Lies takes us behind the scenes of the PGA Tour

2006 was a most magnetic and perhaps watershed year on the PGA Tour. You could say it was all about Tiger and Phil. Tiger Woods missed the cut at the U.S. Open, his first missed cut in a major championship as a professional, albeit because of the passing of his father less than two months prior. But then he roared back with convincing wins at The Open and the PGA Championship reestablishing his dominance. At that same U.S. Open we witnessed disaster after disaster on the final hole with the grand finale being Mickelson. Just when you thought he was going to win his third straight major Lefty self-destructed. Alas, it was also the final year that the Official Money List carried any significant meaning at least as far as the PGA Tour Commissioner declared.

But along the way there were a multitude of other memoirs, heart-warming or tear-jerking and encouraging or repressing. These were the sagas you seldom read about in the media. These were the stories that might influence someone to take up the game or the tales of the ups and downs of the traveling troupe known as the PGA Tour as it traversed the country. These were the happenings of the human part of their existence.

To engage us with the statistical maze is commonplace. To capture the humanity of that year in words is a wonderful triumph. And that is precisely what Chris Lewis has done with his new offering The Scorecard Always Lies published by Free Press. It is not a statistical junket through the year on the PGA Tour relating all the meaningless numbers that are forgotten when the next season commences. Rather, it is a human interest narration. The Scorecard… presents us with entertaining and seldom expressed back stories of well-known players (Mickelson and Woods) and lesser known players such as Michael Allen and Robert Garrigus. It takes us behind the scenes of the tournaments. Lewis will break your heart from the beginning with his account of Stuart Appleby’s relationship with his wife Renay and her untimely death.

The Scorecard… also takes us through the biennial media spectacle known as the Ryder Cup with some fascinating and revealing insider information. Lewis also chronicles the emergence and the rise to prominence of the Stack & Tilt teaching gurus Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett. It is interesting to observe what motivates a very good golfer to undertake a completely different swing theory in an effort to improve further. Lewis examines this motivation.

There appear to be a couple of historical inaccuracies – like twice stating that Payne Stewart’s putt on the final green at Pinehurst in 1999 was 40 feet. (It was more in the fifteen foot range, I believe) And there are also a couple of grammatical and typographical oversights. Nevertheless, the avid golf fan will find this volume most captivating with its unusual revelations of life on the PGA Tour. The average golf fan will enjoy the human interest perspective.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Future of the Young Ms. Woods

Congrats to Tiger and Elin on the birth of their daughter Sam Alexis Woods (SAW). Since the household that figuratively gave birth to Eye On Golf has also raised a daughter of its own, we thought it would be appropriate to pass along some adjectives to Mr. and Mrs. Woods that accurately describe the challenges ahead. So Tiger and Elin here you go: rewarding, frustrating, fun, exasperating and the list goes on and on and on...

But now to the business at hand. Anytime a world-class athlete passes along his or her DNA to an offspring, there is great speculation concerning the sporting future of the child. Eye On Golf has been quite fortunate to gain the possession of a southwestern soothsayer stone, (Said stone was discovered in the Arizona desert while relocating our golf clubs in preparation for future play.) with which we have been able to divine the future of the young Ms. Woods. In other words we were able to foresee-SAW.

The year is 2026 and we have been privileged to gain a glimpse at the season ending money list for the LPGA. There are no doubt a couple of surprises and there are also several enduring legacies that need to be maintained. We were also astonished to find that the list is conspicuously absent of one name in particular.

Sam Alexis Woods
Morgan Pressel
Paula Creamer
Juli Inkster
Tap In Kim
Say Hi Kim
One of the girls in the USGA Advertisement, “I swing like a girl!”
Annika Sorenstam
Natalie Gulbis (still no victories)
Ai Miyazato (thanks to her first win in twenty years on tour)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Prelim U.S. Open Observations

The pairings for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open annually present some fascinating reading (the best from the USGA since the demise of the USGA Journal) and lend themselves to a bit of perverse, or rather, insightful analysis.

So, after a bit of reconnaissance of the groupings, we can present the following declarations.

When the USGA publishes its pairings, players from outside of the U.S. have only their country of origin listed, but U.S. players have the city and state. So why not just United States for U.S. players? Do we really care how many live in Scottsdale?

The player who drew an early tee time on Thursday because he’s up to answer nature’s call anyway, but will probably miss his Friday tee time because it’s right at his nap time:
Allen Doyle (two-time U.S. Senior Open Champion) – 7:22 & 12:52. He’ll be a great one to watch with his home-grown, slap shot swing.

Pairing that will have no English spoken for forty-eight hours:
Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Pablo Martin – all from Spain.

Pairing most likely to get trampled by the unruly crowd: Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Pablo Martin. They’re playing right in front of Tiger Woods.

Player most likely to get trampled by the unruly crowd: U.S. Amateur Champ Richie Ramsay of Scotland who is paired with Tiger Woods. I hope the USGA puts a live mike on young Ramsay. His reactions to the golf chaos going on around him will be classic.

The absolutely, most interesting pairing: Charles Howell III, Justin Rose, Sean O’Hair. You don’t have to say much about these three young studs except potential, potential, potential, but…

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wie Has (Golf) Media Trained

Today is the first day of the LPGA Championship. I’ll bet many of you were not aware that there was an LPGA Major Championship being played this week. All the attention from the golf media for the past seven days has been centered on a Wie wrist and last week’s controversial withdrawal. And that’s just the way MW and her gang want it. She has been unable to gain any attention with her golf skills, but has artfully been able to turn an unfortunate injury into a convenient one. If Michelle doesn’t make headlines on the golf course, she manages to get them off the links drawing attention away from other young players much more accomplished and deserving.

So here’s a quiz. Who won last week’s LPGA tournament? Quick now! No fast Google-ing! A hint? Okay. She beat the number one female player in the world in a playoff. And if you get that one, here’s a little extra credit: Another young LPGA member won her first event earlier this year but defeating the number one female player in the world in a playoff. Name her.

Okay, so the answer to the first one is Nicole Castrale, a determined competitor who has worked her way up through seasons on the LPGA Tour and the Futures Tour. She has earned the little attention that the golf media has given her.

Every golf media outlet is consumed with the MW withdrawal and resulting controversy.

Geoff Shackelford, usually informative although sometimes cynical, has become totally consumed with the scandal. The World Golf Wire led with the story in its Wednesday, June 6th edition. And the list goes on and on and on.

MW has the entire golf media collared and is leading them (us) around on a leash.

Friday, June 01, 2007

88 Good Reasons to Withdraw from an Event

For an excellent analysis of Michelle Wie’s first day back in LPGA competition, I recommend that you read Beth Ann Baldry’s commentary on

Then consider these questions and comments.

Did MW have the magic 88 in mind? I think she did. She’s a recent high school grad on her way to a prestigious college. Certainly she can add.

Has she been studying the rule book during her layoff? If she has, she had plenty of opportunity for practical application during her round.

How much communication should a player’s entourage have with that player during a round?

And any other questions that might arise during your reading.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Book Review: Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations

There is always a literary gratification when a book lives up to its title. It is even more of a treat when that satisfaction is both literal and figurative. Enter the Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations edited by Jim Apfelbaum. Literally it is gigantic. It weighs in at 3 ½ lbs (I actually did weigh it); contains a massive 777 pages (fortunately the pages are numbered); and, boasts a stout 2 3/8 inches thickness (I did measure it). It is not a volume you’ll want to carry around for light reading when you have a pause in the action of your day or to have wherever you go as a ready reference. I have no hard statistics to back this up, but this may be the thickest golf book ever written. And it needs to be.

Apfelbaum has collected golf quotations from every corner of the golf world and a considerable amount from the non-golf world and citations on an infinite number of golf subjects which he has neatly and appropriately categorized into twenty-one chapters. But, it appears that he was not alone in this golf-related marathon. There is an acknowledgement praising the research efforts of Jared Lafer. (We would like to hear more about his role in this project.) There are, I would estimate, over 1,000 individuals quoted. Delightfully and thankfully there is an index cataloguing each and every person quoted from Aaron (Hank, not Tommy) to Zokol. Curiously, you’ll get to read thirteen quotes from Michelle Wie but only eight from Kathy Whitworth. (We assume this was done for marketing purposes.) Nevertheless the volume is thorough and you can read as much or as little as you prefer.

I will admit that I did not sit down and read every quote on every page, a monumental task, but I did read about half of every chapter. If you are a golf fanatic, it is, in a word, “fascinating.” This volume will be a handy reference tool for many in the golf business especially the media. Whether you are suddenly asked to be the keynote speaker at the annual Masters Champions Dinner or the post-round pundit at O’Malley’s Pub, you will enjoy extracting a few one-liners from this volume. It’s definitely worth having in your golf library on the Golf Reference shelf.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Book Review: Auchterlonie “Hand-Made Clubs”

One of the fascinating and appealing aspects of the game of golf is its diversity in areas ready for examination and analysis. Take the history of the game for example. From the center of this hub extend many spokes worthy of study and examination: development of the game, players, tournaments, golf courses, golf clubs, etc. The list is plentiful; the subject matter abundant. Virtually every historical golf book written and published falls into one these categories. Some just zero in on the subject matter a little more precisely than others.

Auchterlonie “Hand-Made Clubs” does just that. It concentrates on the club making business from the late 1800’s through most of the twentieth century and focuses specifically on one particular family – the Auchterlonie’s of St. Andrews. Thus, most evidently, follows the title of the book. Written by Peter Georgiady, one of the foremost club making historians in the world, and published by Airlie Hall Press, Auchterlonie takes us through approximately one hundred years of club making in St. Andrews as experienced by the Auchterlonie’s. But is it more than just idle historical facts and data. Auchterlonie presents us with a bit of a soap opera as it chronicles the Auchterlonie family feud that developed through the club making business. We get to see first hand how a talented and gifted family can be torn apart in the pursuit of success and wealth.

But the story is not the only treasure in this book. Scores of pictures are included. Hickory shafted clubs designed and built by the Auchterlonie family make up the majority, but there are also family portraits that do not totally divulge the turmoil among siblings. There are also pictures of locations, letters and patents that take us back to when golf and life existed in simpler times. The images make for intriguing examination.

You may have to stumble around a few long, drawn-out sentences and a little irregularity in the organization of the book, but it is definitely worth adding to your golf library especially if you are an addicted club maker.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

LPGA a Non-Event

My colleague Bruce Stasch recently penned an artful column entitled Michelle Wie's Return to the LPGA is a Non-Event. In it Bruce commented on Wie’s imminent return to the LPGA Tour. His points are excellent and right on the number. Good swing, Bruce.

But, perhaps we should look at the bigger picture: the fact that the LPGA is endanger of becoming a non-event this season (more so than any other season). Examine the evidence:

Exhibit A: There has been a change in the number one female player in the world. Did anyone notice?

Exhibit B: There have been a handful of first time winners, two of them winning in a showdown with the number one female player in the world at that time. Did anyone notice?

Exhibit C: The youngest female major champion was crowned just about a month ago. Did anyone notice? And where is Morgan now?

Let’s be honest, it is hard to get noticed when Bivens & Co. has set the schedule so that the ladies play essentially every other week for the first three months of their season. It is virtually impossible to maintain marketing momentum when you have an exciting event one week and nothing the next. When the ladies do play they get a little television coverage from the Golf Channel and then limit the rest of their much needed media coverage to only those whom the LPGA feels comfortable with, usually a bunch of local newspapers and television stations that place ladies golf just below local girls high school tennis. No bloggers or unconventional media need apply. Thank you very much. We certainly wouldn’t want local bloggers to spread the excitement of the LPGA all over the world via the internet.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's Not the Game, It's the Money

Once again it’s time for the readers of Eye On Golf to provide a little feedback. Within the past week a couple of the ruling (albeit self-appointed) bodies of golf have demonstrated exactly where their priorities are concerning the game. I am grateful to Geoff Shackelford for providing these two tidbits although he did not make the connection.

Exhibit A: The USGA convinced 82 people, apparently all Amex card members, to pony up $900 each for the privilege of enjoying a 2007 U.S. Open Preview Day. The day was supposed to include lunch with a seminar on how to prepare for a U.S. Open and a round of golf at this year’s U.S. Open site, Oakmont C.C. But being the marketing wizards that they are from the county of Oz in northern NJ, the Blue Coats produced Tiger Woods and Mike Tirico to conduct the festivities. Tiger just happened to be at Oakmont for two or three practice rounds and I’m sure Tirico was hanging around ABC Sports with nothing to do this time of year.

Exhibit B: The PGA Tour is set to introduce a new scoreboard featuring the latest in high-tech “stuff.” And you can make a safe wager that there is definite coincidence that the initial run will be at the The Players Championship beginning May 7. Perfect timing for those golf fans headed to the TPC. However, when talking about the new scoreboards and the fan base that the PGA Tour attracts, Tom Wade, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the PGA Tour, expertly summed up the whole situation. NY Times reporter Michel Marriott got the whole thing…

“Technology is moving down the road and we’re moving with it,” he (Wade) said. “If you don’t move with it, you(‘re) not going to be around. You’ve got to serve the fan.”

Call it part of the Tiger Effect, the significant migration of a younger and more racially and ethnically diverse group to golf since Tiger Woods turned professional in 1996. Although much of the PGA Tour’s fan base remains mature and affluent, Wade said, significant numbers in that group are “heavy technology adaptors.”

“As we say: We don’t reach everyone. Just the people with all the money,” Wade said.

Ah, well said, Mr. Wade. It's all about the money, not the game.

We will now allow our perceptive and discriminating readers to produce their own insightful conclusions to the above incidents.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

2007 Masters Observations

These next few days are always filled with comments, analysis and observations from the great scribes of the game. To get a little taste of the twaddle that is being produced check out my friend RonMon. He’ll get you started.

But then there are the valid observations – mine. These are the one produced by concentrated analysis and a sharp eye for the game.

The cost of a Dave Pelz Short Game School has been greatly reduced following PhillyMick’s bunker adventures on the very first hole on Sunday. Phil took seven (7) shots on the hole, three of them from bunkers. If you hurry you can probably get a greatly reduced rate at the newly opened Dave Pelz Short Game Clinic in Las Vegas at Paiute Golf Resort.

On the other hand the cost of a visit to someone in Zach Johnson’s entourage just about doubled by Sunday evening. Personally I would like to spend some time with his drive-the-ball-straight coach. If a few others in the field had found as many fairways as Johnson when it really counted, the outcome may have been different. He was second is driving accuracy among those who completed four rounds. Johnson gave new meaning to the observation that it’s easier to play the game when you have a full swing at the ball.

Vern Lundquist has got to go. I know he’s just been inducted into some Sportscasters’ Hall of Fame, as Jim Nantz was so quick to inform us, but after listening to him bumble and stumble his way through the Kraft-Nabisco as the host, the Masters was too much to take.

There was something wrong with Tiger. There was no “eye of the tiger” there. Have the Wizards of Augusta finally got the course Tiger-proofed? And his usually precise decision making was questionable. Tiger possesses one of the best short games in golf. So why not layup with the second shot on 15? There was not much of a reward for the risk he took. And the hole locations on 16-18 were also quite vulnerable.

In several ways this Masters had the feel of a U.S. Open. High scores, rock-hard and lightening-fast green, errant tee shots and cotton-mouth-leaving-you-spitless pressure all contributed to that feel. Yes, I know there was no super high, ultra thick rough, but this Masters just proves that you don’t need that to get the greatest players in the world frustrated. Just trick up the greens.

And last but not least, for an interesting perspective, although often cynical, go to Geoff Shackelford’s website.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Unique Golf in Southern Utah

We thought we would share this unique golf course with you. It’s just a little nine hole layout in small Utah town of Beaver.

After you finish the sixth hole this is your journey to number seven.

First you encounter this sign

Before you crossover this racetrack.

Before you begin this 500-yard par-5, of which the first 350 yards play through the infield of the racetrack.

Friday, March 23, 2007

LPGA Slowly Eliminating Media

Did you realize that the LPGA continues its season this week? Unless you are a fanatical golf fan or happen to live near the venue at which the LPGA is competing, you are probably unaware that the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association actually exists and is conducting a tournament this week in the greater Phoenix area. Yes, that’s right the best female golfers on the planet compete this week in the Safeway International at Superstition Mountain GC on the outskirts of Phoenix. (Sidebar: Superstition Mountain is an excellent venue for an LPGA event – except for parking.)

So why don’t you know that the LPGA is playing this week? Well, the answer is simple: the LPGA is slowly trying to divorce itself from the media. From the first LPGA event in 2006, the beginning of the Bivens era, to the present the LPGA has gradually eroded its publicity in the U.S. media. Those to whom they issue media credentials are becoming fewer and fewer. Currently, the LPGA does not credential blogs in general OR any news media that is not a recognized media outlet with the intent to actually cover the tournament. If you apply for media credentials, you must meet these two criteria. It doesn’t matter what the individual credentials of a journalist might be; it doesn’t matter what the individual intent of the media outlet or blog might be; the LPGA has universally determined that blogs and ill-intentioned media outlets are persona non grata.

Exactly who they do credential is, of course, another matter.

And is publicity tough for the LPGA this week? You betcha! This week the LPGA is competing for the media’s affection with the PGA Tour’s CA Championship at Doral. Add to this the fact that Tiger is playing again this week and coming off the worst nine holes he has ever played as a professional golfer. So how does the LPGA choose to compete? By eliminating as many media personnel as possible.

Good thinking!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

New Grooves Not Groovy with the GGP

Have you noticed, since the USGA’s announcement that they are going to clamp down on grooves, the General Golfing Public (GGP) has been raising an uproar? Storming the proverbial golf castle if you will? Of course, you haven’t. The dominant conversation at the 19th Hole did not immediately change when the USGA said, “Damn, we’ve got to stop the pros from spinning the ball out of medium length rough.”

Tom and Bob at the local nine-holer in Garner, Iowa did not exclaim, “----, now I’ve got to get another new set of irons to replace my Andy North Northwesterns!”

Fact is the GGP doesn’t give a Ping Eye 2. And I have proof. As a golf professional working at a typical semi-private club, I have yet to have one golfer approach me and ask the dreaded question, “Hey, Pro, so how’s this new grooves thing going to affect my bottom line on clubs?” No one, absolutely no one has queried me about how this whole situation will play out. Even during a recent Demo Day no one was grabbing Adams’ new irons and demanding to measure the size and shape and angle of the grooves.

Want further validation, check out what Frank Thomas, former USGA Technical Director, has to say on the matter:

If the USGA is really the guardians of the game as they claim, they should concentrate on an issue that affects the people who really play the game and spend money on the game. Let those who suck the life out of the game fend for themselves.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Brand New Day at Eye On Golf

This is Turquoise Valley Golf Course in Naco, AZ.

Eye On Golf has decided to take this blog in a different direction – at least most of the time. Rather than consistently comment on the state of the game, it seems you, the golfing public and our avid and faithful readers, will be better served with some golf eye candy. Well, sort of. Sorry there will not be abundant pictures of Natalie or Paula, but rather photos of golf courses that we have visited in our travels, travels that led to our recent book Off the Beaten Cart Path.

This shift in focus was infinitesimally inspired by Golfweek’s 2007 list of Best Courses which was recently released. This publication finds the best (often translated “most expensive”) and occasionally discovers a gem. What we’ll do is provide you (and them) with what’s missing. We’ll fill in the gaps by focusing on the fun and the spirit of the game, not the business and the profit. The courses we discover and you will experience reflect that philosophy.

However, thanks to the self-appointed idiots that are ruining, er… running, the game, it will still be necessary to provide occasional insight on our beloved game. There is no doubt that these people need a dose of common sense and we will do our small part to provide them with a little.

What you see above is a little sampling.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Eye On Golf tastes a little humble pie

Of all the major food groups the one that appeals most to the staff at Eye On Golf is pie. Apple and blueberry are our favorite varieties especially a la mode. Humble pie even when served a la mode happens to be the most distasteful, but occasionally it must be endured.

One thing the progenitors of the Eye On Golf staff taught us was that when you make a mistake admit it, apologize, learn from it and move on to be a wiser person. So, heeding that advice, we do need to apologize to LPGA Media Coordinator, Pam Warner, for a question we credited to her in our previous entry. Fact is Ms. Warner did not ask Paula Creamer or Julieta Granada the following question: This is Michelle Wie's home course; do you wish at all that you had a chance to play against her here again? For this misplacement of blame, we apologize.

We can honestly say, however, that through reading several accounts of the incident on the internet that it was not solely our idea that Ms. Warner had posed the question. Nevertheless she did not. Sorry, Pam. If you would like a copy of our latest book, just contact us.

What all this means, however, is that the idiot torch has been passed to one or more reporters on Paradise Island. Professional golfers do not think like that. If they do, they won’t last long. No professional golfer enters a tournament with their primary thought being, “Gee, I hope I can beat so-and-so. It’s her home course.” That would be a short-lived career.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Action Conversation: LPGA Media Coordinator generating publicity

Congratulations go to Paula Creamer for her patience when asked the following question by Pam Warner, LPGA Media Coordinator, in a pre-tournament press conference.

Q. Do you think at all, this is Michelle Wie's home course, do you think at all about the fact that she's not here, do you wish maybe you could take her on on her home course?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I come out every week playing the golf course, so to me it doesn't really matter who is in the field. Obviously you want a strong field and you want the best players there. Ultimately I just come out trying to play my game and play the course and beat that number.

Ms. Warner, do you think Ms. Creamer wants to talk about MW? FYI, Ms. Warner, MW was present, not even for your press conference. Perhaps Ms. Warner has not been following the LPGA Tour as closely as she should.

SIDEBAR: And Ms. Warner, in order for MW to be considered at the same level as Ms. Creamer, and be mentioned in the same sentence, MW must win an LPGA event within one week of high school graduation.

And then Ms. Warner couldn’t resist kicking in the same questions with Julieta Granada:

Q. This is Michelle Wie's home course, do you wish at all that you had a chance to play against her here again?
JULIETA GRANADA: Yeah, of course, I want to compete against the best and she always has a great game. It would have been fun. But since she's not here, we can't really say much about it.

Kind of reminds me of what Forrest Gump’s Mom used to tell him, “… is as … does”

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bloggers a step above the Daily Scribes

While doing a little surfing through various golf websites, I discovered the transcript of yesterday’s press conference with Tiger Woods. The daily scribes all make an attempt to ask El Tigre penetrating questions, sort of like they have an interview with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. The verbiage is flying and the descriptive clauses are tacked on to every noun. Sometimes it's a wonder how Tiger can decipher the exact answer. On the other hand sometimes Tiger doesn't want to.

Reading the questions is far more entertaining than the stock answers. It reinforces my theory that those of us working in the non-traditional media put our thinking caps on before trying to sound like Chris Matthews on steroids.

Consider this evidence:

QUESTION: As a budding golf course architect, when you come to a new venue, come to a new community that has such a historic golfing tradition, do you approach it a little bit differently than when you were just playing, or have you always taken the mindset that, could I come here and design a golf course in place like that?

My question to this venerable scribe: How do you have a new community with a historic golfing tradition?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Young American Professional wins Golf Tournament

Bet you thought you might never see those headlines again. Who was it? Here’s a hint. This individual is just 20 years old with two prior professional victories.

Okay, it’s Paula Creamer, a girl with more charisma than all the J.B. Holmes and Charlie Hoffman’s put together. And the story lines are just starting to develop on the LPGA. Creamer was one of the big questions for the 2007 season: Could she/would she win? Yes and yes.

Storylines. That’s what generates interest in professional golf. That’s why the LPGA will be far most interesting in 2007. It’s proven already.

And Julieta, Lorena, Karrie, Morgan, and Sherri, thanks for stoking the fires of human interest so early in the season.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

PhillyMic Shoots 65 at Riviera Righthanded

If you hurry over to you can see how PhillyMic looks as a righty.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Franky and Billy and the Long Ball Dilemma

Okay, I couldn’t resist this sharing the following with all of our faithful readers who are constantly struggling to squeeze a few more yards from their drivers. There is apparently a great dilemma: Do I try to achieve greater distance or do I want to find my ball?

This is from and can be found in the Q&A section with Frank Thomas. Thomas used to be the USGA’s technical guru and now he is the GC’s technical guru. He's also the guiding light behind the Frog putter. (You gotta check that out.)

I’m kind of wondering if Billy from Michigan has any fun playing the game while he’s worrying about swing speed, launch angle and a few extra yards when he already hits it pretty straight.

Frank does a pretty good job of catering to Billy with the technical jargon and then tries to calm him down with a good dose of reality.

Enjoy this one.

Hi, Frank:

I need help! My swing speed is around 125 mph with the driver (460 Adams xstiff), yet I have never hit a drive over 310 yards. Most of the time when I hit it good off the tee I’m around 285 (bone-straight 12-degree launch). How is this possible? I play about 150 rounds a year, so I know I’m not missing the sweet spot every single time. I read somewhere that you should get 3 yards for every mph your club head is traveling. If this is true, what is stopping my drive from traveling 350?

Thanks for any info, Frank. Hope all is well.

Billy Michigan


First of all there are a lot of us (millions, including a few pros on tour) who would love to be in your shoes with most of your drives going 285 yards bone-straight! With 125 mph head speed and impacting the sweet spot every time, you should be able to drive the ball about 330 yards now and again under ideal launch conditions. These are 12 degrees launch angle and about 2,200 rpm spin rate and a fairway in average conditions (i.e. ˜ 25 yard roll). If you are not at these launch conditions, then try to get there by hitting the ball a little higher on the face. This will reduce the ball speed a little but bring you closer to the optimum angle and spin. The other thing to try is a different ball. For more on optimum launch conditions please Click here

If I were you, I would settle for the drives you have and concentrate on the rest of your game, as there is nothing wrong with what you’re getting from your driver, especially since you’re hitting it both long and straight. Then the next step is to apply for your PGA TOUR card if you don’t already have it.


Monday, January 01, 2007

New Determination for 2007

Eye On Golf will begin 2007 with a couple of soul-baring revelations and one cautionary note to our faithful readers. The first pertains to our organization itself and the other with my own personal trials and tribulations as a golfer and a writer. (Unfortunately, this will not be autobiographical in nature.) Finally we’ll examine the reading habits of our readers.

I would suspect that few of Eye On Golf’s fans are aware of the size of our organization. In the past couple of years we have not only increased our journalistic duties, but also the size of our staff. We have added a photographer and an editor/copy editor. Despite this increase in staff, we have determined to remain in the same one story structure that we currently occupy. We have, however, elected to construct a small addition for much needed office space. Life is really good at Eye On Golf and we anticipate a terrific 2007.

On a personal note I have two items to share – actually they are New Year’s resolutions. One is that I have increased determination to become more disciplined in my journalistic endeavors. That means I will attempt to write something of quality and quantity on our various projects every day – just like we’re doing now. You, our faithful readers, will be the beneficiaries. Concerning my own personal golf game, I have decided to take one of my own suggestions to heart and vow to do something every day to improve my game. Even if it’s just hitting a few putts or reading an instruction book for a while, that is valid. In golf every tiny step toward improvement is worthwhile.

Finally, I want to thank and encourage all of you who read the golf blogs. All of us who blog on this great game have no hidden agenda. We’re just average golfers who love the game and want to give an honest opinion on the game. We are not influenced by advertisers or controlled by editors. It’s our game and we want to keep it that way.

Have a happy and prosperous golfing 2007.