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.