Saturday, November 22, 2008

Book Review: Secrets of the Great Golf Course Architects

I would imagine most golfers think that the life of a golf course architect is essentially all drawing boards, draft paper and Golf Channel interviews. Few would suspect that there is the possibility of an encounter with angry Mexican squatters. Some enlightened golfers might realize that an occasional, unplanned appointment with a wild animal, whether it walks on four legs or slithers on its belly, is a sure thing. Secrets of the Great Golf Course Architects confirms all this and more.

The “Secrets” are short, pithy tales from the lives of 118 golf course architects. Don’t think you’re going to be let in on a myriad of confidential information that details the thought process of developing a golf course. Rather you will read about some unusual, some oddball, and some unavoidable incidents that have occurred during the work hours of these architects. Some of the tales are interesting, some funny, and, unfortunately, a few are flat boring.

This compilation was put together by radio host and author Michael Patrick Shiels with the assistance of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Outwardly the book is visually appealing and physically challenging – it’s heavy and obviously designed to be place on the coffee table. The volume is beautifully illustrated with over 150 full-color photographs, blueprints and drawings, drawings that are fascinating and put you into the mind of the architect. You will read of incidents from the highly visible architects – Nicklaus, Palmer, Fazio, the Dye’s, and the Jones boys, but you will also hear from a host of talented, but less well-known architects who provide their adventures as well.

One of my personal favorites is from Jack Nicklaus II, the son of THE Jack Nicklaus. Jack II gives us just a glimpse of what it is like to be the son of perhaps the greatest golfer to have played the game to date. [On a personal note over twenty years ago I had the pleasure of playing a round of golf with Jack II. He is a true gentleman of the game.]

Then there is a heart-tugging incident revealed by Rick Robbins. Robbins was scheduled to be on the ill-fated plane flight with Payne Stewart in October 1999, but scheduling conflicts prevented him from making the flight. It is a memoir that is a bit painful to read but worth absorbing.

If you are an ardent golfer who enjoys discovering more about the game, you should be in possession of this revealing literary work.

Or, if you are looking for a special gift for the golfer in your life, Secrets of the Great Golf Course Architects will do the job.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Golf Gifts in a struggling economy

If the economy has given you the equivalent of the shanks, here's a few great gift ideas for every golfer in a struggling economy.

A Book
There are several ways you can go with this idea which means you’ll probably have to do a little research before making the final selection. Coyly discovering where your favorite golfer’s interests lie and reading a few book reviews (hopefully on should provide adequate information. We’ll do a piece with a few noteworthy suggestions in the very near future.

New Grips
Golf is totally a game of feel and there is nothing like the exotic sensation of new grips on the club. Even if we continually struggle with our game, there are few aspects of the game that make us golfers feel better and give us more confidence. Many golf courses and most large golf department-type stores provide this service. A gift certificate might be a good choice here so that your golfer can select the grips that have just the right feel.

A Lesson
Every golfer needs a little help regardless of how good he/she is or how good he/she thinks he is. And from years of teaching experience, I can verify that every golfer has bit more potential stored inside. There is always a bit more talent yet to be discovered. A lesson from a qualified teacher may just bring out that dormant potential. The best way to find that qualified professional is to do a little research and then purchase a gift certificate from the pro you have selected.

A round of golf
Every golfer has a favorite golf course. Perhaps it’s one course that he/she gets to play just once a year because it is economically prohibitive. Or perhaps it’s his favorite course where he plays with his buddies every weekend. Any certificate for a round of golf will be greatly appreciated.

A shirt or a hat – but no glove
Every golfer loves to have a new shirt or a new hat especially from his/her favorite course. If you’re thinking of this as the perfect gift, look for a special holiday sale at that particular club. You might be able to final a bargain. The word of caution here is “No glove.” This item needs to be fitted precisely and is a little too risky.

A wedge
While individual golf clubs, especially in the wedge and putter category, are a “personal” matter to virtually every golfer, I don’t think you can go wrong with a wedge. Every golfer likes to experiment with different clubs and wedges are no different. Find out what wedge your golfer does not have and get him/her an inexpensive version with which to experiment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Your personality on the course affects your score

What is your golf personality?

Do you think your golf personality affects the way you play the game? According to Darrin Gee, founder of the Spirit of Golf Academy in Hawaii, the answer is, “Yes.” To back up his claim he has authored The Seven Personalities of Golf: Discover Your Inner Golfer to Play Your Best Game. This volume is a logical progression from his previous work, The Seven Principles of Golf. Gee is one of the leading “mental” gurus that the professional game has developed over the last ten to fifteen years. Those of us that began the game before the intervention of psychology knew that we hit bad shots. We blamed it on our swing. Now we know differently.

So, if you want to investigate more than the bad swing theory, I suggest you get your hands on a copy of Gee’s book. But don’t be put off by the psychology, this is a fun book. Whether or not you think it will be beneficial to psycho-analyze your golf game, I guarantee you will enjoy examining the seven personality types that Gee has identified and then applying those traits to yourself and your golf game.

That’s the engaging part of this book. (And it doesn’t hurt that this is a physically attractive volume with a bright maroon cover, curved edges and a ribbon maker.) That is the sole purpose of this publication and that’s how he concludes his introductory section.

The seven chapters are the seven personalities – Intimidator, Swashbuckler, Methodologist, Gamesman, Steady Eddie, Laid-Back, and Artist. Each chapter is arranged exactly the same. There is a description of the personality that points to one or more of the applicable professional golfers (Guess who is the Intimidator?) and that is followed by a “Golf Profiler.” This is a ten-part questionnaire which will help you to determine your golfing personality. The “Golf Profiler” is succeeded by a section designed to help you apply the particular personality to your golf game whether or not it is your dominant personality. The theory is that disciplined application of the proper personality should improve your game - at least from the mental standpoint. And we all know that golf is 50% physical and 90% mental.

Enjoy this book. It is great fun and a welcome diversion from all the other golf books that try to improve your game.