Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's resolutions for every golfer

Do you make New Year's resolutions like this fellow on the right? If you do it's okay. Almost everyone does. Problem is everybody makes them and then forty-eight hours later those good intentions are shanked somewhere off into the deep woods on the right. Then it’s “wait ‘til next year” and we’ve got 363 days of freedom. So why bother?

However, making those New Year commitments should be different for golf. I think it’s important that each of us makes one, or perhaps more, golf-related New Year’s resolution. We should determine that we will maintain our golf sanity. So, with the commitment to make a commitment in place, the Eye On Golf staff has diligently 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.

Now, repeat after me, “I resolve to...”

DO SOMETHING EVERYDAY TO IMPROVE MY GOLF GAME.
Yes, it’s a very broad resolution but very purposeful. Not everyone can get to the golf course or a 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 swings. You’ll be amazed with the results.

WALK NINE HOLES AT LEAST TWICE PER MONTH.
Yes, you read that correctly. The game still 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!

READ ONE GOLF-RELATED BOOK PER MONTH.
No other sport lends itself to the production of literature like golf. A multitude of “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. If you're not sure where to get started go to Golf Book Review for some ideas. Get away from the magazines and a little into books. You'll be a better golfer and a better person for it.

TAKE A TUNE-UP LESSON BEFORE THE SEASON BEGINS.
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. Having a qualified professional check your fundamentals, will bring you a lot more happiness and joy in the New Year and save a lot of aspirin. Shoot, the money you save on pain relievers, will probably pay for the lesson.

There’s just four suggestions to get your golf imagination in gear. And there’s many more. Go for it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Golf’s best and worst shots of 2009

Golf’s major championships of 2009 certainly provided us with the unusual. It was the year of the spoiler on the PGA Tour. On the LPGA Tour it was a year of the dramatic on the 72nd hole.

Here’s our list of the best and a few of the worst on both tours.

Best Putt: Here we can easily select the 18-foot putt from Eun-Hee Ji to win the U.S. Women’s Open. Needing a birdie to win, Ji calmly stroked the putt dead center for a one stroke victory.

Second Best Putt: Stewart Cink may have thought he was just improving his position in the tournament, but as it turned out his 12-foot putt for birdie on the final hole of the British Open earned him a tie for the championship with Tom Watson when he bogeyed the final hole. A worn out Watson was no match for Cink in the playoff.

Worst Two Putts: All of us who grew up in the Nicklaus and Watson era were on the edge of our seats watching the 2009 British Open. Here was 59-year old Tom Watson about to take the title and tie Harry Vardon with six victories in golf’s oldest major. Unfortunately, Watson’s second to the final hole scooted over the green. Electing to putt from a dodgy lie, he knocked it eight feet past. More unfortunately, he didn’t even come close on the putt to win the title. In the end he was no match for Stewart Cink in the playoff.

Worst Finish: All (“all” is a suspicious word when working under the pressure of a major championship) Kenny Perry had to do was play the final two holes of the 2009 Masters in one over par to slip on the green jacket. Disastrously Perry bogeyed the final two and then lost on the second playoff hole to Angel Cabrera.

Luckiest Shot: How can we forget this? On the first playoff hole at the Masters, the par-4 18th, Angel Cabrera hit his tee shot dead right into the trees. With a swashbuckling, go-for-broke attitude, he fires his next at the green, but the loud “crack” as the ball hits a tree proclaims something has gone amiss. No worries, the ball bounces into the fairway from which point he makes par to tie Kenny Perry. Cabrera wins the Masters on the very next playoff hole, the 10th.
Unluckiest Shot: Hunter Mahan was definitely in the hunt at the 2009 U.S. Open. Needing a birdie on one of the last four holes, Mahan fired his second at the par 4 15th dead at the flagstick – right dead on the flagstick. The ball caromed of the flagstick to about 15 feet from where Mahan made par.

Second Best Shot (A & B): Y.E. Yang wins the A & B award here. Yang became the first man to stare down Tiger on the final nine of a major at the PGA Championship. He gets the A award for his chip-in for eagle on the short par 4 fourteenth. The chip was from a severely sloped lie beside the green. He also receives the B award for his second shot on the 72nd hole, a hybrid to about ten feet. Leading by one at the time he drove the metaphorical nail into Tiger’s coffin.

Absolute Best Shot: No doubt Brittany Lincicome provided the outright most dramatic shot in a major championship in 2009. Trailing by one shot coming to the final hole of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Lincicome fired a hybrid second shot from 210 yards on the par-5 finishing hole that finished four feet. She made the eagle putt and won by one.

And that's the way it was in 2009.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nothing Major - the book

Golf is fun - or at least it should be. You hear it all the time, especially from those professionals who attempt to make their living playing the game. “I was just trying to have fun out there,” is the common cliché in an interview. So, if we're all “trying to have fun out there,” the logical progression should be that golf is funny. Well, we certainly know that's the case. Funny stuff happens consistently on a golf course. We might not view it as amusing at the time, but later, upon serious reflection or a visit to the 19th hole, it certainly produces a smile.

But with all these shenanigans happening on the course, very seldom does some golf scribe take time to catalog these amusing incidents. They are too busy analyzing the game attempting to elucidate on the perceived thinking of the great players. The lot of golf books written from the humorous angle is quite slim. Fortunately, we now have a new volume that will surely put a smile on your face and often get you to laugh out loud.

The culprit is Bob Cayne and his monumental work on humor in golf is entitled “...Nothing Major.” Cayne is the former co-host of “Talking Golf,” a weekly radio which he shared with Cleveland Plain Dealer golf writer George Sweda. Cayne has compiled 219 pages of quips and clips from the radio show and his years in golf. The result is an anecdotal walk down the fairways of golf. Virtually every page will have you cracking a smile.

Cayne displays a waggish sense of humor and his writing style is what definitely adds to the fun of the book. His clever use of metaphors and similes adds greatly to the humor of the book.
You'll want to read (and perhaps re-read) the complete volume, but here's an appetizer of what's in store. Be sure to read the chapter entitle “I'm 74 Years Old, or Two Over Par.” It'll give you a finer appreciation for senior golfers.

I also found this book to be “educational.” In the chapter “The Laughs Are On Me” you'll discover why golf should be taught from the green backwards. And finally, as part of the educational process, you'll discover why golf equipment and personal grooming products are marketed the same way.

If you love golf and like to laugh a little bit at the game and the antics that go on around the game, “...Nothing Major.” is a must for your library.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Golf books make the perfect last minute Christmas gifts

In case you haven’t looked at the calendar, there are but four shopping days left until Christmas. And in case you have yet to select a gift for the golfer in your life, permit us to provide a few literary suggestions for your last minute shopping. We’ve placed these into categories if it happens that your golfer is selective in his or her golf reading.

HISTORY: The top selection in this category and for the season is easy - Sports Illustrated’s The Golf Book. You can read our review here, but suffice it to say that this book will please any golfer. It’s a perfect blend of everything golf – completely and totally loaded with stunning pictures and informative text by many of SI’s writers.

INSTRUCTION: The best is still Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book. Penick was a lifetime teacher of the game and his wisdom is priceless. If you want a glimpse of what he taught Crenshaw and Kite, get the Little Red Book. Teach Yourself Visually Golf is an excellent volume for learning the game. It was published in 2007 by Wiley Press. It is straightforward presentation on the game. It’s colorful with lots of how-to pictures. For a more in depth examination of the mental side go for Tom Dorsel’s Golf: The Mental Game. Dr. Dorsel presents a practical, yet non-clinical approach to our mental game on the course. His approach is heavily tilted to the practical side with barely a hint of psychobabble.

RULES: My favorite books dealing with the Rules of Golf are not volumes that attempt to explain the rules but rather present intriguing theory and/or history on the rules. The Principles Behind the Rules of Golf by Richard S. Tufts presents the two guiding principles of the rules and demonstrates how all other rules emanate from them. This one may be a little hard to find, but it will satisfy the golfer’s curiosity about the rules. The Rules of the Green by Kenneth G. Chapman is a scholarly work on the history of the rules that will not induce the slightest bit of insomnia. Chapman takes us on a historical journey from a time before the first written code in 1744 up to the present day carefully providing the logic behind the evolution of the rules. Can I Get a Ruling? by Dave Marrandette – Although this is self-serving, I would be remiss if I did not recommend by own volume on the rules. This book is historical in the sense that it presents a time capsule of actual rule incidents presented in categorical fashion.

GOLF COURSES: For a whimsical journey to fantasy courses we suggest David Barrett’s new volume Golf’s Dream 18s. Golf's Dream 18s is a collection of fantasy courses, 18 to be exact, that teases the golfer's mind and pleases his visual senses. You might also try Secrets of the Great Golf Course Architects. This compilation was put together by radio host and author Michael Patrick Shiels. The “Secrets” are short, pithy tales from the lives of 118 golf course architects.

ANTHOLOGY: Every sports fan has heard of Dan Jenkins. This year Jenkins published a fun volume appropriately titled Jenkins at the Majors: Sixty years of the World's best golf writing, from Hogan to Tiger. It is collection and re-editing of his essays and press room work from 1951 to 2008. The bottom line on this book is quite simple: If you are a golf fan and have even the slightest interest in the history of the game, you need to read Jenkins at the Majors. It is a massive history lesson presented with the Jenkins' flavor.

HUMOR: While literary humor in the world of golf is in short supply former radio golf talk show host Bob Cayne published a work this year entitled Nothing Major. It’s a collection of amusing golf stories and essays that will have you laughing out loud. We have not review this yet (it’s coming soon), but trust us on this one. You can get it at http://www.nothingmajor.net/.

Happy last minute golf shopping.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Book Review: Golf's Dream 18s

All of us who love to play the game of golf have a number of favorite holes that we have played. Our fantasy is to transplant those holes to a mythical course that we could play forever. It would be a place where we could visit to get a small taste of golf utopia. Alas, these courses that we build in our hearts and minds are a daydream, a mental image that we conjure up as we envision a life with nothing but the greatest game of all to occupy our time.

Fortunately, we now have been provided some visual and written assistance to serve as guidance along the paths of our fantasies. David Barrett's newest volume, Golf's Dream 18s, has taken the daydreaming to a new level. Recently published by Abrams Press, the leader in dynamic, visually appealing golf volumes, Barrett takes the fantasy course scenario to the ultimate extreme. Golf's Dream 18s is a collection of fantasy courses, 18 to be exact, that teases the golfer's mind and pleases his visual senses.

Barrett is well equipped for the job. He has served as a senior editor at Golf Magazine and he also produced a similar volume from Abrams Golf Courses of the U.S. Open.

Barrett's organizational structure of this volume provides us with a fun look at over 300 holes from around the world. He starts us off with a short introduction and then guides us through 18 holes on 18 individual fantasy courses with each “course” having a specific theme. We get to tour courses with Scenic Holes, Historic Holes, Exclusive Holes (ed. op., holes virtually no one can play), Holes Anyone Can Play (ed. op., which is more like it), Modern Holes, Classic Holes, and twelve other themed, fantasy courses culminating in The Ultimate Dream 18, an all-star team of the holes in the book.

What really makes Golf's Dream 18s really enjoyable is that each hole is accompanied by a first-class picture (This is what Abrams does quite well.) and informative text. We learn a little about each and every hole. Unfortunately, there are no diagrams of each hole which at times left us wondering how the entire hole looks.

This book is a heavyweight, literally and figuratively. It comprises 324 full-color photographs and 304 pages. Together with the hardcover and the eye-catching jacket, it tips the scales at approximately four pounds. But its content is also fascinating.

To date this is our second favorite book of the season, ranking right behind SI's The Golf Book. (But that may be because we are slightly more interested in golf history than course architecture.) You can't go wrong with this volume for your favorite golfer who loves golf courses (and a little bit of fantasy).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tiger and the PGA Tour pucker factor

You gotta think that PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem's pucker factor has increased exponentially every day for the past two weeks. You could almost hear him pacing around his office mumbling to himself, “What am I going to say? What am I going to do?” Slowly, ever so slowly Finchem's throat got drier and his lips pursed tighter and tighter. The drama was building. What would Tiger do? What would we do? For every new bimbo that was paraded out on the international stage, the air at PGA Tour Headquarters was gradually sucked out.

Finally last night the balloon burst. Tiger said adiós to golf for an indefinite period of time. You could hear a collective “CRAP!” come out of Ponte Vedra. We could even hear it in Arizona. Now they were scrambling for PGA Tour Canned Statement 12.6. 4b. Finchem issued his statement (which turned out to be PGA Tour Canned Statement 12.6. 4b(1)), “His priorities are where they need to be, and we will continue to respect and honor his family's request for privacy. We look forward to Tiger 's return to the PGA Tour when he determines the time is right for him.”

There's a lot of under lying meaning here, unspoken nuance, if you will. Finchem needs Tiger to return to play as soon as possible. With Tiger plays, the Tour is exciting and dynamic; without Tiger television ratings drop 50%. It's hard to negotiate new contract with sponsors and television networks when the star of the show is on hiatus.

Finchem is probably nearing the end of his time with the PGA Tour. Retirement is looming on the horizon. It's closer that a short par four. The last thing he needs is a blowout at the end of his time leaving a legacy that spells R-U-I-N. It'll make former LPGA Commissioner Bivens look like a genius.

Boy is that scary.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Tiger watch just like a daytime soap

Eye On Golf has waited patiently to inject its opinion into the infinitesimal quantity of journalistic appraisals that have thus far been offered on the soap opera following Tiger. In short, we thought we would let the scandalous dust settle before we put pen to paper so to speak. (Actually we have been on holiday and have been somewhat isolated (thankfully) from this whole scandalous news cycle.)

However, a multitude of other golf scribes have not been so isolated and have freely given opinions whether based on conjecture or fact. Here is the most microscopic of samplings from what has been typed this week – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Go here for the thoughts of Steve Stricker. Jeff Rude has some interesting analysis here. Randall Mell chips in with this. And, although his approach is somewhat skewed, Rich Lerner provides us with an interesting analysis. Click here for titillating info and rumors from a non-golf related website. The intrepid Glenn Beck pitches in with his unique perspective. And finally for an all inclusive myriad of Tiger stuff visit Geoff Shackelford.

So here's what Eye On Golf concludes. Tiger Woods is a private citizen. He is not a publicly elected official. There is a difference. He may be one of the most famous private citizens on the planet, but he is still a private citizen. What happened outside of his private property is public, namely the car crash, is public knowledge and should be reported. What happened inside of his private property is private, namely those situations that could possibly have led to the car crash. That information, regardless how steamy and tantalizing, should be left alone unless Tiger decides to bring it forth.

And that is the bottom line.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fifty More Places to Play Golf Before You Die

All golfers dream about playing famous golf courses, historic courses, exotic courses or finding a hidden gem that's Off the Beaten Cart Path. Let's face it, we would all like to play just one round at Pebble Beach and St. Andrews both of which are open to the public. This would assuredly be golf nirvana. But the cold, hard truth is that most of us will never set foot on such hallowed links. Time or money seems to hinder our best intentions.

But let's just imagine that we win the golf lottery and have virtually unlimited resources with which to travel and play any courses we so desire. Which ones do we select? Where can we go to whet our golfing appetite? Fifty More Places to Golf before You Die will help to answer these questions.

Written by freelance writer Chris Santella as a sequel to his successful Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die, Fifty More … takes us on a world wide journey to familiar and not so familiar courses. Familiar courses include Pebble Beach, Harding Park in San Francisco (site of the recent President's Cup) and Pinehurst #2. Courses that are perhaps little known to us in the United States include Devil's Paintbrush in Ontario, The Machrie Golf Links in Scotland, and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club in China. Santella catalogues these six and forty-four more around the world.

Each course has been recommended by someone who knows the golf course well and provides insight for playing the course. You will recognize many of the names of those who have shared their stories for this volume. Consider Amy Alcott, Bob Charles and Ian Baker-Finch for starters. And if you do just happen to get the inclination to go, Santella has provided us with “If You Go” information at the end of each chapter that includes Getting There, Course Information, and Accommodations.

Santella has hit a successful niche with this style of book - Fifty “Whatever” Before You Die. He has penned five other titles in this series. And Abrams Books is a master at publishing these picturesque and entertaining coffee table-style books. This volume is well appointed with forty pictures from the fifty chosen courses.

Fifty More Places to Play Golf Before You Die is an engaging read and well worth consideration as a Christmas gift for all golfers. It will stir the wanderlust of your favorite golfer.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Phoenix not on 2010 LPGA schedule

The LPGA schedule for 2010 was announced just a couple of days ago in Texas. And guess which golfing mecca has been left off of the globe trotting schedule. Go ahead. You get three guesses.

Phoenix, Phoenix and Phoenix. Right. Good guess. For the past thirty years the LPGA has held a tournament in Phoenix. But not next year. For thirty years Arizona golf fans have supported the LPGA event as it moved around the valley. But not next year.

It's not like we didn't see this coming. We all knew the 2009 event at Papago was a one year shot. Yet we all held out hope that the new wizards at the LPGA would pull off a miracle. Apparently the change is not what we hoped for. It's a sad time for golf in Phoenix.

Here's a couple of good articles on the LPGA schedule and an insightful take on the LPGA dumping Phoenix in favor of the Far East.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Idiot golf scribe of the week

There is one dynamic about Tiger Woods that cannot be denied. Whatever he does, be it on or off the golf course, is closely followed and scrutinized and people quickly form opinions. By now most golf fans have heard of the Tiger temper incident in Australia last week in which a Nike driver found its way into the gallery. Opinions have been formed.

We here at Eye On Golf have ours. Quite simply an incident like this is bad-bad-bad for golf for a number of reasons. It's a bad image for the sport especially since Tiger is the face of golf. There is a high possibility of danger involved for gallery members. It make for a terrible role model. Young golfers mimic Tiger. Do you want young golfers behaving as such on your golf course? Bottom line is there is no excuse for such actions.

Now, as we said, everyone has an opinion on this incident. Golf writers have ponied up their thoughts on this in pretty good numbers. But, we believe we have found the worst and, unfortunately, he works for a national publication, GolfWeek. Check it out right here complete with video and comments. Bear in mind, we think Mr. Soderstrom has an excuse or two just like he makes for Tiger. He is young, impressionable and has no concept of proper demeanor and etiquette on the golf course.

Therefore he has been awarded this ignominious distinction. Hopefully in the future he will think before he writes.

Editors note: This will not be an award that is handed out with any regularity - hopefully - rather, it will be held in reserve for those special moments of journalistic ineptitude.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tiger and Michelle save the golf world

Just when you thought the golf season was over the most important week of the year occurs less than two weeks before Thanksgiving. Mark down this date – Sunday, November 15, 2009. On this one Sunday the game of golf which has been pretty much gasping for air the past few years finally got the revitalizing treatment it needed. It got the shot in the arm to cure all ailments.

The treatment: Tigers Woods wins in Australia and, although this is not earth shattering in the United States, it is life saving for the game in Australia. Not to mention that this is another continent conquered by “The One.” This was the first victory for Woods in the Land Down Under. And if you're keeping such statistics, he has now won on every continent save Antarctica.

But, Wood's victory was only half of the medicine. The life-giving dose came from Michelle Wie, the Hawaiian child prodigy who everyone expected to be the savior of the women's game. Problem was Wie had accomplished virtually nothing – until Sunday. Sometime late in the twilight, long after Woods had given the Australian golf world its biggest thrill since Greg Norman, Michelle Wie finally kicked ass and took names. And the names, which are some of the top female players in golf, include Creamer, Kerr,Shin and Pressel. Wie has now established herself as one of the preeminent players in the game not just one of the best known personalities.

Who wins here? Right now, Santa Claus. It has already been reported that boys and girls from Brisbane to Cabo San Lucas are right now changing their Christmas lists to include golf equipment from Nike. In the future it should be everyone who loves the game.

The burden of responsibility for the revitalization of the game now falls on the few who fancy themselves as the leaders in golf. The credibility of such organizations is at stake.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Golf media ticked at LPGA

Alrighty then, yesterday the LPGA named Michael Whan as the new commissioner. The announcement caught the golf media totally unaware and the scribblers are ticked. Here’s a few examples.

At GolfObserver.com, one of the better websites for everyday golf news, Sal Johnson flat out lambastes the LPGA for the rookie PR move the LPGA put on. It's a fun read.

Ron Sirak, veteran LPGA observer for GolfWorld, was not totally thrilled with the timing or the info either.

Randall Mel, senior writer for GolfChannel.com, wonders a bit about Whan’s credentials at this critical time for the LPGA. Be sure to read the comments at the end.

And finally check out waggleroom.com for a little on Whan’s employment-saving move.

Assessment: The first day Whan opens the door to his new office, he'll have to please the ladies of the LPGA and now gain the confidence of the golf writers – again.
(Photo by Getty Images)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Golfer makes ace and albatross in the same round

If we were to have a post-round gathering at the 19th hole and the discussion turned to the skill of PGA Tour participants, There would perhaps be dissension concerning who has the greater skill. However, we would not question the overall skill of these players. As the slogan says – These guys are good! - very good. How good is good or very good?

Well, when you combine very good with the appropriate portion of luck that comes along with dedicated practice and developed skill, you might have a nine hole stretch like Nicholas Thompson had yesterday at Grayhawk Golf Club during the Frys.com Open. First, let it be understood that the scores are very low in this tournament – very, very low. After three rounds Troy Matteson leads at 19 under on the strength of back-to-back 61's (9-under each day). But his scorecard is not spectacular, did littered with lots and lots of birdies and one eagle.

The great scorecard belongs to Thompson who shot 30 on his back nine yesterday. But it's how he got to that number that's incredible. That 30 included a double-eagle (albatross) and a hole-in-one (Ace) – all within a three hole stretch. That's right, an Albatross and an Ace in the same round on the same nine.

Now the odds of making an ace are reasonable, so to speak, but variable. Experts at these number things figure about 5,000 to 1 for a low handicapper and a little lower for a tour pro. But take a guess at the Albatross. As best as anyone can figure, the odds are one million to one. But what are the odds of making an Albatross and an Ace in the same round? I don't think anyone has taken the time to figure that out. Perhaps the odds are about the same as winning the lottery each and every time you play for a month.

So, which would you rather have – the Albatross and the Ace or the lottery?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book Review: SI The GOLF BOOK

It's big and it's beautiful. Weighing in at nearly five pounds and possessing an eye-catching cover, Sports Illustrated's latest addition to its sports pictorial series has entered the world of golf. And it has taken it on in spectacular fashion. SI's THE GOLF BOOK is a heavyweight in the world of golf books – literally and figuratively. As it sits in our library it is second in dimension just lagging behind Jack Nicklaus Simply the Best, but first in quality. As it rest in our mind it's on the top rung of our fun ladder.

THE GOLF BOOK is the ultimate coollection (no misspelling here) of golf photographs. It is pure fascination to leaf through the pages and encounter photographic bliss with every turn of the page. There are photographs from virtually every era of golf. It is certain that on numerous occasions you will find yourself asking the question, “Where did they get that?”

A certain amount of text and facts are involved but that is at a minimum. But don't skip the text. The articles, all by SI staff and contributors, are timely to the period and absorbing today. There is a enchanting essay by Bernard Darwin on Francis Ouimet's victory in the 1913 U.S. Open that is highlighted by a photograph of Ouimet's scorecard which was kept by Darwin. Lots of history on that page. And don't forget to read the forward by Roy Blount, Jr. It's cleverly done and a fun read and gets you into the spirit of the book.

However, in the end this volume is a photographic essay of the history of golf. The publication is separated into seven chronological sections categorized generally by historical significance. The pictures and text included in each division are pertinent to the era.

Our favorite was the Centerfold - yes, a centerfold. In a poll with a panel of fifteen judges, each was asked to name his or her favorite golfers of all time. The final list and a masterful pictorial montage make up the centerfold. Once you get passed the centerfold, don't hastily pass by the pictures of equipment, clubs and balls in particular. You'll get an appreciation as to how the game has changed.

If there is a golfer in your life who has the the slightest interest in the history of the game, this is the perfect book to place in his or her library. While the game of golf can always be a great topic of conversation, this volume itself will generate great quantities of verbal communication. It is a must have for every golfer.

We could go on and on and on and … extolling the virtues of this book. Just get it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A suitable format for Olympic golf

Now that golf has been accepted into the Olympics, there have been, of course, all kinds of conversation and consternation concerning the format that will determine the gold, silver and bronze. There has been no shortage of suggestion. Virtually every golf scribe and nearly all sports pundits have offered advice. So, with that in mind, Eye On Golf, with its multiple years of expertise in the game, would like to present its submission for the proper format to determine the medal winners. We have alluded to such in one of our recent entries.

What we do not want is the same-old, everyday 72-hole stroke play tournament with the low man or woman taking home the gold. If you want that for international competition, just go to the World Cup or almost any WGC. We need something original. After all this is the Olympics. The Olympics require a format that is unique, something that combines stroke play and match play.

It has already been pretty much predetermined that there will be sixty men and sixty women competing. Some Olympic Golf Committee has decided that. Each group of sixty is derived from world rankings and a couple of other criteria.

Now what our plan proposes is this: the sixty from each group play a 36-hole qualifier, possibly in one day, for the privilege of entering into the match play portion of the event. Only the lowest 48 from each group advances to match play. Match play brackets are determined by the 36-hole qualifying score. From this point, on days two and three of the competition, 18-hole matches are played leaving twelve players at the end of three days of competition. Those twelve remaining players then compete over 36-holes of stroke play on the final day with the lowest three winning the appropriate medals.

With this format the participants are tested in both forms of golf competition. With this format we get complete champions.

Yes, it’s a lot of golf in four days and it could possibly be stretched out to five or six days. However, the Olympics are for athletes pushing their bodies to the limit to gain the ultimate prize in sports. Golf should be no different.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Presidents Cup final thoughts

U.S. defeats the Internationals (Rest of the World) by a margin wider than you would need to drop a nuclear bomb to destroy San Francisco. Why is it that the European team, when competing in the Ryder Cup, always gives the U.S. a better battle? Think about it, the whole match and atmosphere just seems so much more exciting and competitive.

Poor Dan Hicks! NBC needs to ship him off to MSNBC to be a foil for some of the liberals. He apparently didn't realize that the two teams involved in the competition were the U.S. and the Rest of the World (Internationals), not the Europeans. (Dan, that's the Ryder Cup as even the most casual fan could tell you.) He also referred to the Nobel Prize as the noble prize. (Dan it's not that hard to distinguish between the two words.) Hicks further displayed a height phobia. His constant reference to Tim Clark's height (the “little guy”) became annoying and insulting. Zach Johnson, his opponent in the singles, is perhaps an inch taller. It's surprising that Hicks didn't make some reference to Leprechaun golf. Hicks was just amazed at how a “little guy” could play golf so well. Duh, Dan. It's an easier game for short people because they're closer to the ball?!

Despite Mr. Hicks, NBC did a pretty good job. Commercial interruption wasn't too bad but it did increase proportionately as the day went on. It seemed that the more matches that were on the golf course, the more commercials we saw. Shouldn't that have been in reverse proportion? As usual the network covering the singles matches wasn't able to keep up with all the matches. We all realize how confusing golf can become when there are twelve important matches occurring simultaneously. Wow, think of the panic in the production truck. That is perhaps why they show more commercials as more matches are on the golf course. If you can't make a decision concerning which match to show next, then just go to commercial.

The singles matches had great drama and some really good golf. Let's face it, the singles competition is really the only socially redeeming factor of the these team matches. We never get to see these guys (or gals) go head to head in battle. It's good stuff.

So, with the conclusion of the Presidents Cup, we hope now that the golf season is over and we can get down to some serious figure skating viewing as NBC would like us to do. There are really no more reasons to have any further PGA Tour competition despite the fact that we were bombarded with the fact that the PGA Tour Fall Series is designed for us, the fan. Yeah, right!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Same-old, same-old for golf in the Olympics

Has anyone else picked up on the strange karma that happened on Friday between the worlds of politics and sports? On the very same day, and likely within moments of occurrence, President Barack Obama was announced as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and golf received the okay for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics.

The timing of all this is really extraordinary. Pushing the weird meter even further into the red is the fact that all this is coming out of Scandinavia. (Here's a little more fun you can have. Ask any freshman in high school, who at the time of the 2016 Olympics will be about 21 and a possible Olympian, to find Oslo and Copenhagen on the map. If he or she is successful, ask them to find Rio.)

[With proper instruction this young lady could be a future Olympian.]

Comment on the Nobel Peace Prize event is for another time and place, but suffice it to say that it is somewhat curious that President Obama can jet to Denmark and unsuccessfully secure an Olympic bid for Chicago and then one week later be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize emanating from the same corner of the world.

As for golf in the Olympics it will be the same-old, same-old. Medals for golf in male and female events will be determined by a 72-hole stroke play tournament with 60 players in each field. Whoopee! Can't wait for another 72-hole event. There are only two basic methods of competition in golf – stroke play or match play. All but a handful of events worldwide are resolved by stroke play. A few others resort to match play. So, if the Olympics are supposed to be special, why not come up with a special, Olympic-only format to decide the Golf Medal winners?

But, aside from the humdrum, everyday format, the greater problem for Rio is the venue. Bradley Klein of Golfweek gives a good assessment of the dilemma. Golf is not quite as popular in Brazil as in the U.S. I'm sure the Brazilian Olympic organizers knew this was coming, but you can't help but think that they were secretly hoping for team snorkeling to be included instead of golf.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Why we love golf

The reasons that all of us golfers love the game of golf are multitude. If we took a poll of one hundred golfers, we would easily have one hundred reasons. Reasons are one thing, but examples are another.

This short exchange provided by LPGA professional Morgan Pressel via Twitter is priceless. It took place during last week's LPGA event in Alabama. Pressel is a big fan of Twitter and her thoughts are readily available on Twitter.

morganpressel Guy in the elevator "oh you play golf? What's your handicap?" Me "I don't keep a handicap" guy" yeah neither do I, so I know what you mean."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Book Review: The Golf Bag Book

Beginning life in the world of golf is often a daunting task. Not only must the aspiring golfer learn how to hit the ball (and all beginners should learn from a qualified professional, not two buddies), he or she must also ingest a myriad of information concerning the game itself. The game is just not that simple. But what if there was a book that could assist beginners with the basics of the game?

Such is Scott Martin's latest volume The Golf Bag Book published by Burford Books, Inc. The volume is quite appropriately named. It contains a condensation of useful information for the beginner in a size that fits perfectly into a golf bag (unless, of course, you have a small Sunday carry bag). The volume measures out a 5x8 inches, just the size of a large index card. And that is just what it is, 140 pages of heavy duty, yet light-in-weight, basic information for the beginning golfer. It's a ready reference guide to the game of game – short and sweet, down and dirty.

Hardcore golf fans may be familiar with a previous Martin golf writing exploit The Book of Caddyshack. And naturally The Golf Bag Book contains a couple of short chapters on that iconic movie which helps to serve as part of the beginners golf education.

Martin begins the book with instructional information on the actual playing of the game giving short, precise tips that you would (and should) get from a specific lesson. For example, under the chapter on “Practicing.” he emphasizes that attention should be placed on the short game (warming the heart of every instructor who tries to lower the scores of his students). In Part II he focuses on playing with other golfers covering such topics as etiquette, dealing with unsolicited advice, and fun games to play. He wraps up the volume in Part III with notes on famous architects, notable golf writers and well-known courses, basic knowledge that serves to round out the golfer's development.

We highly recommend the The Golf Bag Book to all beginners as part of their initial education to the game and every experienced golfer who wants a little fun and light reading.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

LPGA has a great weekend in store

Questions: Is this week's LPGA event, the Navistar LPGA Classic Presented by Monaco RV, an omen of the future for the struggling organization? Is there a Nostradamus effect in play here? Has the LPGA turned up the excitement a notch now that the PGA Tour season is over?

Answer: Yes, we sure hope so.

This week's event in Prattville, AL has all the makings of an astrological happening. All the stars have aligned for this one tournament. The top ten players are separated by just two strokes. Perhaps not unusual but it's a dynamic mix of international stars, the top players, the hottest players, the unknown players, the old, the young and the very young.

See if you recognize any of these five players at -10: Lorena Ochoa, the #1 female player in the world who has rediscovered her golf game; Laura Davies, a major championship winner who is experienced (a synonym for moving along in years) yet still has great events; Yani Tseng, a 20-year old with a major victory in the 2008 McDonald's LPGA Championship; Giulia Sergas, unknown Italian with ten years of professional experience; and here's the kicker … 14-year old amateur phenom Alexis Thompson who wins just about everything in the amateur ranks and is now picking on the big girls.

One stroke back if the LPGA's hottest player, Sophie Gustafson who won last week's tournament. And five players are two strokes back at -8. This quintet features the only and only Michelle Wie still looking for her first LPGA victory.

So it's about time the LPGA got a break. And here's what we're hoping for a the end of 72 holes – wait for it – a playoff between Michelle Wie and Alexis Thompson.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The two best jobs in the USA

We all know without being constantly reminded that our economy has certain difficulties. Whether this financial slump is contrived, manufactured or real, we have been enlightened of that situation for about a year now by every politician and media outlet. Of course, unemployment is one of the foremost talking points and concerns – it's a talking point for politicians and the media and a concern for all of those who are unemployed.

With that in mind there are two individuals who are employed and who would seem to have two of the best jobs in the United States and perhaps the world. While total job security may not be one of the perks of each position, these situations must be viewed as extremely lucrative at the present moment.
The first position is that of the caddy of one Mr. Tiger Woods. Steve Williams has held this position for about a decade now and we can only assume that he is doing adequately in the financial arena. Not only that, his future employment with Mr. Woods seems pretty secure. However, he is in the world of professional golfers who feel that in order to be successful they need an entourage of various expert handlers. I guess this situation is a bit like politics – one bit of really bad advice and there could be a guillotine-like effect.


The second most envied appointment at the current time is speechwriter to President Barack Obama. Jon Favreau currently holds the honor of being Director of Speechwriting for the President. Now this position has a positive and a negative side. On the positive side, considering the large quantity of speeches made by the President, there are lots of words to write. Financially, one could only anticipate that Mr. Favreau has negotiated a contract whereby he is paid by the hour and/or speech. Let's hope a straight salary is not involved. He would obviously be getting the short end of the pen. On the negative side being a speechwriter for the current administration is a lot like being a tournament golfer, one bad speech – or hole in a tournament if you will – can spell disaster.


So, despite the negative aspects of these two occupations, they are most assuredly the best jobs in the good ol' US of A.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What makes the FedEx Cup so unexciting

The Eye On Golf staff got to thinking the other day about why the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup is just so doggone unexciting. Why is it that each event seems like just another four-day, 72-hole PGA Tour golf tournament? Where is the spectator anxiety? Where is the sit on the edge of your seat and scream at the television exhilaration?

So, after lengthy discussion we think we have an answer (or perhaps two) to this most pertinent of golf questions. First no one, except maybe a few talking heads at PGA Tour Headquarters and a few golf scribes, really and truly understands the elimination system. This is the third year of the FedEx Cup and the third attempt at a working playoff system that will generate the ultimate champion. This year, when the third event of the playoffs ends on Sunday, the top thirty players in FedEx Cup point standings will move on to the Tour Championship in Atlanta just like in year past. However, at this watershed all the points that a player has earned throughout the season will be reset and the claim is that any player within the top five who wins the Tour Championship will win the FedEx Cup.

Of course, this has all kinds of nonsense scenarios wrapped up in it. A player could win all the money, lead the FedEx Cup point standings by a mile going into the Tour Championship and then lose the final event by one stroke and walk away without the precious Cup. Do you have a player in mind here?

Second, and perhaps most important, is that this playoff system doesn't generate any thrills except for the fabulous golf. Those actually attending one of these playoff events are there because the circus is in town and it's fun to go to watch the best players in the world. Those of us watching at home just want to see some good golf. We believe that the lack of excitement is due to the length of each “playoff game.” Each “elimination game” is four days long, much too long to generate any allure. The NFL playoffs which culminate in the Super Bowl are a one game, one day events. You don't have to go to the stadium for four days to find out who the winner is. NASCAR has a ten race finale, The Chase, that builds anticipation through each of the final ten races. Once again, each race is a one day event. Fans look forward to that one weekly experience that may make or break their favorite team or player. The sense of excitement and anticipation builds week to week.

The PGA Tour will not get to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat until it figures out a way to generate that week-to-week excitement.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

America’s VetDogs promo a huge success at Robson Ranch Golf Club

The Labor Day weekend promotion for America’s Vet Dogs conducted by Robson Ranch Golf Club proved to be a huge success. A total of $200 was contributed by the members and homeowners of Robson Ranch, Arizona plus the outside guests.

America’s VetDogs uses guide dogs, service dogs, and innovative technology to help disabled veterans and active duty personnel live again with dignity and self-reliance. They serve veterans who are blind or visually impaired; have lost limbs or suffered traumatic brain injuries; or who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Robson Ranch, Arizona is part of Robson Communities, Inc. with projects in Arizona and Texas. It is located in the Eloy/Casa Grande area of Arizona between Phoenix & Tucson, and serves as a resort-style community for pre-retirees & retirees. Lavish country club amenities provide a wonderful social atmosphere for people who share common interests and enthusiasm for life.

The entire staff at Robson Ranch Golf Club would like to thank all players who contributed to this worthy cause in support of America’s Heroes.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A call for LPGA golf in Phoenix

Who will step up for the LPGA in Phoenix? That's the next big question for women's golf in Phoenix. Who will take the giant step forward and invite the LPGA back for another year in 2010. The LPGA is shopping for venues for 2010 tournaments. Deposed commissioner Bivens royally ticked off sponsors at a pace quicker than Doug Sanders' swing. But now, newly appointed, acting LPGA Tour commissioner Marsha Evans will listen to almost anyone who is willing to make a $1.5 million initial investment.

The LPGA and Phoenix have a thirty-year relationship. This yearly dating process should not be allowed to be interupted. The courtship and the romance must continue. The 2009 edition was saved at the last minute (about six weeks before the event was scheduled to take place) by J Golf and Mirassou Winery. Now the LPGA is shopping for new friends in Phoenix. Who will be the LPGA's new BFF in the desert?

The LPGA is trying hard to get back on track but it needs new allies. The picture here shows what great influence the LPGA has in Phoenix.

Step up moguls of Phoenix.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Robson Ranch Golf Club located in Eloy, Arizona is conducting a special promotion over the Labor Day weekend to assist America’s VetDogs. Golfers who play the course from September 4-7 will pay the discounted twilight rate of $18 when they make a $2 cash donation to America’s Vet Dogs. This invitation is extended to anyone who wishes to try his or her skill on the Brad Bartell designed course.

America’s VetDogs uses guide dogs, service dogs, and innovative technology to help disabled veterans and active duty personnel live again with dignity and self-reliance. They serve veterans who are blind or visually impaired; have lost limbs or suffered traumatic brain injuries; or who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Robson Ranch, Arizona is part of Robson Communities, Inc. with projects in Arizona and Texas. It is located in the Eloy/Casa Grande area of Arizona between Phoenix & Tucson, and serves as a resort-style community for pre-retirees & retirees. Lavish country club amenities provide a wonderful social atmosphere for people who share common interests and enthusiasm for life.

The entire staff at Robson Ranch Golf Club encourages all players from Phoenix to Tucson to enjoy the course over the Labor Day weekend and contribute to America’s Heroes. The Golf Shop can be reached at 520-426-3333.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A llama for Obama

With no disrespect to our President and the fact that Llama and Obama have a certain catchy rhyming quality and the fact that our President has been bitten by the golf bug (thus the need for an immediate and irrevocable rejuvenation of our health insurance system) and that in the interest of relating with the common man (read: golfer) he should tread on common golf courses, the following golf facility would seem to meet all of the above qualifications.

It seems that, no make that a definite fact, one particular golf course in Illinois has implemented the use of llamas as caddies for its patrons. Now there are undoubtedly 360 degrees we could take this conversation, but let's head down (not a golf tip) the simple road.

Since this course is within the boundaries of President Obama's home state, the nation's Number One golfer should, without hesitation, head to the beautiful links of Sherwood Forest for a game with a llama as his caddy. This action would, without further doubt, begin to solve a couple of the President's more thorny problems.

First, Obama's visit to Sherwood Forest would provide an immediate boost to the economic arena of the area. The President and anyone else who makes up his foursome would be required to pay the $20 or so green fee. There should be no comps here. This area of the country needs economic resuscitation as much the area inside the beltway. One visit by the Prez for a round of golf would quickly inject the area with economic adrenalin.

Second, the physical health of our nation, and especially its Chief Executive, would take a positive step forward. President Obama and those playing with him would be walking and playing golf. No golf carts here. Get out, walk the links, and let the llama caddy for Obama. Heaven forbid we should get a little exercise while playing golf. This walking while playing would set an example for the entire nation. To see our nation's Head Golfer strolling down the fairway would be an inspiration to all Americans. And who knows where it could lead. Healthier Americans means less in health care costs.

Yes, this entire thought of a llama for Obama could have nothing but positive implications.

Mr. President, go for it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Golf Channel makes a double bogey on Solheim coverage

The Golf Channel scored a distasteful double bogey for their coverage of Sunday's single matches in the Solheim Cup. While the play was exciting, TGC let the out of the drama balloon about every five or six minutes.

It appears that TGC has abandoned the coverage of golf for the broadcasting of commercials. The statistics provide the cold hard truth. In the five and a half hours of broadcast time when there was actually golf being played (11:00 AM to 4:30 PM EDT), TGC ran commercials or self-indulgent promos 24% of the time. The actual numbers are here: 330 minutes of broadcast time with 82 minutes of commercials. (Yes, we sat through the whole broadcast and did the agonizing math.)

One could tell we were heading down Commercial Lane in the first fifteen minutes of coverage. Match One featuring Creamer vs. Pettersen began play at 8:05 AM. Within a minute of the two ladies walking off the tee, TGC went to commercial for three minutes. When TGC returned, we had the privilege of watching a tape delay of Creamer's second shot. Tape delay! One match on the golf course and we can't get a live shot. And this commercial onslaught continued for the next five hours.

And if you think TGC doesn't have a couple of favorites, you are sadly mistaken. If you wanted to watch Creamer, Wie, or Kim, you were in golf heaven. [Which brings to mind the Solheim promo which aired several times on Sunday featuring Captain Beth Daniel leading her team from the corn fields of Illinois onto the playing field, all ala Field of Dreams. Would it be too much to say this was corny?] In the first three hours of coverage at least 75% was dedicated to the previously mentioned three ladies. TGC virtually shunned nine other matches. The Kristy McPherson vs. Catriona Matthew match teed off at 11:50. Two hours into their match we had still not seen a single shot of the match. The first tiny glimpse of the match occurred at 3:10 PM on their fourteenth hole. Twenty-eight minutes later Matthew had won the match.

It all seemed like twelve matches was too much to handle. We were provided a very limited quantity of overall match updates. One would think total match updates would be put on the screen just before each commercial. At least at that rate we would have been updated half a dozen times per hour.

The Golf Channel should not post this score for handicap purposes.

Photo:Getty Images

Friday, August 21, 2009

Solheim Cup primer

You can hunt around the Internet for a while to get info on the upcoming Solheim Cup. But why would you do that? Why would you make a bogey on a 107-yard par-3 with absolutely no trouble in sight. So, stay right here. Get your Solheim Cup briefing before the big event starts.

The Solheim Cup is a biennial event between female teams from the United States and Europe. It starts today and goes through Sunday. The format is similar to the annual male events - Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. Here's the schedule for the matches: Friday and Saturday AM is four-ball matches followed by foursome matches each afternoon. Then on Sunday comes the grand finale – singles matches.

That's lots of golf and our friends at The Golf Channel will be there for virtually every swing and putt on Friday (9 AM – 2 PM and 4-6 PM) Saturday (9 AM – 6 PM) and Sunday (11 AM – 4:30 PM). That's pretty much wall-to-wall coverage.
Each team has twelve players decided by various qualification criteria. Suffice it to say that the final team make up always makes for interesting examination. This year each team has three rookies, the most notable being Michelle Wie of the U.S. Should be fun to watch how the matches go down with her. Hit the Solheim Cup link above to get a look at the teams.

The event is being played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, IL, a 6670-yard, links-style course. One intrigue of this course is that each hole has been named with a purpose. Visit the website for more info. Unfortunately it's a private course so you won't get to test it out after the ladies play.

Now here's the scoop. The U.S. team leads the biennial series, 7-3, and has never lost at home. On paper, and we all know how this “on paper” thing works, the U.S. is a heavy favorite. But remember, this whole event is contested at match play, that's hole-by-hole. If you pull a Paddy Harrington and make an eight, it doesn't ruin your whole tournament, just one hole.

What's great fun about this format is the match-ups you get. For instance today's morning matches feature two great matches. First Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer face Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson in the opening match. Kerr and Creamer are the Nos. 3 and 4 players in the world, but both Petterson and Gustafson have been playing well.

Next, and probably most interesting, is the final match featuring Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie against Catriona Matthew and Maria Hjorth. Pressel and Wie are, of course, the great young hopes of American ladies golf. In the past however, these two have not agreed on how to hit a two-foot putt never mind how to work as a best-ball team. This should be most entertaining to watch.

So now you should watch. Get to your television for the 9 AM start.

Monday, August 17, 2009

91st PGA Championship – the day the music died

Golf as we know it in the United States will never be the same. No longer will Nike be able to sell $125 Drivers for $425. No longer will two small boys at a golf camp somewhere in South Dakota have a putting contest with the winner laying claim to the fact that he beat Tiger Woods. No longer will the major championship sun rise in the East and set in the West. No longer will major champions come from the eastern side of the International Dateline.

Yes, there is no doubt the axis of the golfing world was turned a complete ninety degrees at approximately 7:00 PM EDT. That's when the motion of the golf world was totally reversed – like when superman reversed the rotation of the earth. But this time superman is a 37-year old Korean father of three with the courage of a lion. You may find him at the next PGA Tour stop in your city working under the assumed name of Y.E. Yang.

Don't be deceived. Do not put your game up against his. For this is the only man to face down the Tiger in a major championship battle. And he did it by slight of hand, by beating the Tiger at his own game. When the Tiger hit a good shot, the Lion hit a better one. When the Tiger got a good break, the Lion insisted to the golf gods that he get a better one. And on the final gaming field, the 72nd hole, just when you thought the Tiger would make one last stand, the Lion struck with a 3-hybrid around trees over a green-side bunker and stopping just eight feet from the hole. The last blow had been struck. David had slung the stone straight into Goliath's forehead and he had tumbled to the earth. Golf from this moment on will never be the same.
Photo: Getty Images

Sunday, August 16, 2009

PGA Championship 3rd Round Thoughts

All is still well in the golf world. Tiger still has the lead at the PGA Championship, all this despite a mediocre score on Saturday. Woods played for the fat of every green and had about 30-40 feet for birdie on every hole. Only twice did he stuff it inside ten feet. He made one of the two. All this added up to a very unexciting one-under 71. Meanwhile all around him, other were shooting at the flags and making birdies. Y.E. Yang made six, Harrington four, Stenson five. Well, you get the picture and it becomes 3-D when you know Tiger made just one birdie. But, I suspect that won't happen today.

What will happen? I expect a quiet day, not a lot of low numbers. Tiger will probably be able to win the title with a 70 or 71. But, anyone within four shots of Tiger has chance. Why four shots? Simple, because only one player outscored Tiger by four yesterday, even as conservative as he played. Unfortunately only four players are within four shots – Yang, Harrington, Stenson, Glover. I still look for Glover to be the biggest threat.

Which is kind of a good transition into the television coverage. With only five players with a realistic chance of winning, be prepared to see coverage of only four or five players. You might get a glimpse of native Minnesotan Tom Lehman or long-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, but that will be about the extent. If you have Direct TV search out some of its alternative coverage beginning at Channel 701. You'll at least be able to watch play on the par-3's. Plus they also have some fun statistics such as every players heart rate, average number of minutes taken to decide which club to hit, average number of minutes taken to line up a putt, and number of times they wave to the crowd after making birdie par or bogey.

Nevertheless, it will all be great fun watching “Glory's Last Shot.”

Saturday, August 15, 2009

PGA Championship halfway with Tiger in the lead


Yes, we know, not a very catchy headline but what's inside is original, witty, and insightful. Actually there are some very astute thoughts on the 91st PGA Championship.

We all know Tiger led the field after Round 1. Perhaps a bit unusual. Tiger seems to wins his major championships with great play on the weekends. So, of course, when Tiger took the lead on the first lap virtually every golf writer was volunteering to put the Wanamaker trophy in Tiger's car. They couldn't slobber enough over how Tiger would win his fifteenth professional major. Here's a sampling: Rex Hoggard for The Golf Channel; Martin Rogers for Yahoo Sports: Bob Harig for ESPN; and Barker Davis for the Washington Times. And the list goes on and on.

Now these veteran scribblers should now that in golf, especially in golf, the tournament is not over until the fat lady sings. Take this year's Masters and British Open as an example.

What we can say though is that Tiger's odds have dropped significantly. See if you can get your favorite bet taker to give you 2 to 1 on Tiger. If you do let us all know.

One wonderful element about the PGA Championship is that it invites many (or most) of its past champions back for another go at the title. Unfortunately, many of them don't make the cut. Here's a few that you won't see this weekend: Mark Brooks, Davis Love III, Steve Elkington, Paul Azinger, Shaun Micheel, and John Daly (WD).

Now the questions is who, out of those remaining anywhere near the top of the leaderboard, could possibly challenge Tiger? Interestingly there are five players four strokes behind Tiger. Of those five three are major championship winners. If anyone of them can nip at El Tigre's heels, it will be Lucas Glover.

And the most interesting pairing today ...Woods and Singh. It will be entertaining to observe the interaction between the two.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

PGA Championship odds

There comes a time in every golfer's life when he or she must take the gamble, try to pull off the shot of a lifetime. You know, hit the high cut shot around the pond trying to get the ball close to a back right hole location. Golfers are instinctively gamblers in one sense or another.

With that in mind the staff here at Eye On Golf, the leader in truly meaningful golf advice has compiled a few thoughts (and odds) on the PGA Championship which begins today. Just in case you're still suffering from Tiger overload, the tournament in being played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, MN. The PGA was fortunate to schedule the tournament here at this time, the only week of summer in grand ol' Minnesota.

Tiger Woods 2-1: Even though this is his third event in a row going for his third win in a row, how do you wager against this guy? And you know he'll be somewhere on the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.

Stewart Cink 5-1: Now he knows how to win a major AND how to Twitter. What would be more exciting than Cink and Tiger in a playoff for the championship?

Phil Mickelson 10-1: Not sure Phil is totally focused on his golf. (Would you be?) But ya never know.

Steve Stricker – Sergio Garcia – Lee Westwood 15-1: Come on guys, it's about time for one of you three to man-up and win a major.

Retief & Ernie 22-1: Both these guys will probably look good for a while but …

The Field 75-1: Yes, there's a really good chance for another first time major championship winner. We've already had two this year and would have had three save that an Augusta pine was leaning the wrong way. Look through the list and make your choice except for the following.

Sentimental Selections

Kenny Perry 12-1: We were going to put him with Stricker and the boys, but after that Masters heartbreak we wanted to give Kenny a break.

Paul Goydos 20-1: You may not know it but Goydos has been playing pretty well this year. He's had experience at the highest level and he's a damned nice guy.

If picking the winner of a golf tourament wasn't so difficult, any of these would be a sure bet.

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The PGA Tour has an unplayable lie


With all the drama going on off the course this week it's a a little difficult to believe that the players at this week's PGA Championship have total focus on the mission at hand. The aftermath of the Tiger & Paddy ruling debacle has pushed the PGA Tour into an unplayable lie from which they have no idea of their options.


Let's first set the stage: At a critical moment of Sunday's final round – the 16th hole with Paddy in the lead by one – rules official john Paramor tells them they are on the clock. Paddy speeds us (translation: gets out his normal rhythm), makes an 8 and looses the tournament. In the post-round press conference Tiger calls the action of the official into question by saying, “I’m sorry that John got in the way of a great battle.” On Monday an anonymous PGA Tour official told the AP that Tiger would be fined. Understand that anything to do with player discipline on the PGA Tour is done with anonymity and a certain amount of cloak and dagger. Now on Tuesday the PGA Tour says there is no fine. Tiger reported, “I’ve heard from the tour and there’s no fine. That was an erroneous report.”


So now, what has the PGA Tour wrought. Actually they have wrought rot. Did they back off because it was Tiger Woods? Perhaps. They sure don't want to bite the hand that feeds them. (This is an example of ironic reversal.) What if the PGA Tour really ticked off Tiger and he decided to take his game elsewhere? Go ahead and speculate on that scenario if you so desire.


But what if the finegate was generated by a giant lack of communication or worse yet total incompetence? That is a possibility. First an anonymous PGA Tour person says there will be a fine for Tiger and then within twenty-four hours Ty Votaw, PGA Tour V-P of Something, makes the following statement, “The information that was conveyed to the reporter was inaccurate. There has been no process started with respect to any disciplinary action. Based on the reports we have read, Tiger’s comments related to the impact of the decision. We did not read them as being an unreasonable attack or disparaging.”


Ta-da, there you have it. With an incredible amount of backspin, Votaw has done away with finegate.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tiger and Paddy timed out


Here's a quick golf history quiz for you. When was the last time a golf tournament was decided by the clock? Well, we have taken a poll of our entire staff and the answer here is “NEVER.” But yesterday's finale to the Bridgestone Championship supporting rubber manufacturers around the world may be a first.


Tiger and Paddy were dueling it out in an epic battle with ball and club. Tiger begins the round three shots behind but shoots 30 on the front nine to Paddy's even par 35 and takes a two shot lead. Then Tiger stumbles a bit on holes 13-15 with a couple of bogeys while Paddy makes two pars and a birdie. The lead has changed again. Paddy is looking the Tiger right in the eye. Then as they get to the monstrous par-5 16th. A rules official informs them they are on the clock. Bingo, instantly the mood has changed. In a matter of seconds PGA European Tour rules official John Paramor has single handedly squelched one of the best duels of the year.


You know the rest of the story. Both men hurry up and hit their tee shots – Tiger way left, Paddy way right. In order to speed up Tiger next plays out of turn and hacks it down the fairway. Paddy follows with a horrible recovery and, still trying to play quickly whacks and slaps to a triple bogey eight. Meanwhile , Tiger hits one miraculous 8-iron from 180 yards to about four inches and makes birdie. That's it, end of tournament. Thank you Mr. Paramor.


You can read a couple of pieces from from Doug Ferguson here or Steve Elling here.


Consider this: Being a rules official in any sporting event involves precise judgment, an uncompromising attitude and a certain amount of stubborn egotism. Paramor has managed to embody the second and third characteristics. It is the first that finds him lacking.


The PGA Tour lost control of slow play a long time ago. Accord to Ferguson, Dillard Pruitt was the last player penalized for slow play. That was 1982! The PGA Tour has already infected the game to the point that the patient is now dying of the disease. Countless golf organizations have done research on the cure, but to no avail. This slow play cancer is contagious and its spreading. It will kill the game.


As for the PGA Tour and Mr. Paramor it does not make any difference how fast or slow someone plays. Everyone now knows that golf is a slow game. The best way now to attract new players to the game is through heroic battles of two titans – like the one that got through fifteen holes at Firestone.

Friday, August 07, 2009

THE BACK NINE: An eagle of a golf documentary

Let's face it, golf movies or movies with golf somehow intertwined into the plot are not very common. They are certainly not like baseball movies. So, when any media genre that has golf at the center of the plot is released, we perk up and pay attention.

Recently we received notice concerning the impending release of a new movie with golf as its focal point. Excitedly we were able to procure a review copy; apologetically we must say that we are a little tardy with this review. That being said, it's worth the wait.

“THE BACK NINE” is actually a documentary, a view into the life of independent filmmaker Jon Fitzgerald who challenges himself with the question: Can an average 42-year old golfer, husband and father of two become an elite athlete? Fitzgerald's quest is to ultimately become a professional golfer.

You may think this would result in a remake of Mission Impossible. But Fitzgerald does not take this challenge lightly. It's not just a few days at the driving range and several rounds of golf. Applying the methodology of today's professional golfers, he assembles a high-end support team to guide him through the process. He enlists the services of PGA instructor Tim Suzor of the Kinetic Golf Academy in Scottsdale, AZ , distinguished author Dr. Joe Parent (Zen Golf) to work on his mental game, and yoga guru Katherine Roberts, a Golf Channel favorite and positive thinking enthusiast, and a host of various coaches to help with fitness and nutrition.

Fitzgerald dives into the task all the while trying to juggle golf, family, business and whatever other obstacles life places in the way. And that become the meat of the matter and the challenge at hand. How does one devote enough time to develop a competitive golf game while simultaneously dealing with the birth of a baby, a renewed relationship with one's father, a business that requires time away from family and golf.

Remarkably, Fitzgerald meets with considerable success. But it is not the ending that is important in this documentary. Rather, it is the journey that gets him from the first day on the lesson tee to his final putt in the Golf Channel Amateur Tour Championship.

You can get a sneak peek at “THE BACK NINE” with this link here. But, like golf, that will likely not be enough for satisfaction. Do whatever it takes to see the complete production.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tiger’s ratings trump two majors

There’s no doubt about it. When Tiger plays golf, people watch. They watch at the expense of any other golf event and virtually any other sporting event.

Playing in what was undoubtedly the final Buick Open, Tiger dominated the airwaves just as he dominated the competition. In Sunday’s final round the CBS broadcast drew a rating/share of 4.0/9. That’s the highest rating for the event since 2006 which coincidently Tiger won also.

Tiger’s winning performance was bad news for the U.S. Senior Open which drew a 0.6/1. Here in the Phoenix area these two events were televised opposite each other. Was there any question as to who would win the television wars? Fred Funk and Greg Norman provided no media competition for Tiger.

It was pretty good news though for the Women’s British Open which aired via tape delay before Tiger and the Geriatrics competed. The ladies garnered a 1.0/3 rating.

You can also look for the PGA Tour’s ratings to be up the next two weeks also. Tiger’s schedule includes this week’s World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, the 2009’s final major, the following week.

The next event for the LPGA is the Solheim Cup on August 21-23 from Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, IL. This team competition between the USA and the Europeans should provide some good golf and descent television ratings.
(Photo courtesy Getty images.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Major confusion in the golf world

If you are an avid golf fan and follow the various professional tours (for our purposes PGA, LPGA, Senior and European), then you are surely aware that July is “Major Month.” Here’s the facts so far.

U.S. Women’s Open July 9-12
Won by Eun-Hee Ji with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff with Candie Kung.

British Open July 16-19
Won by Stewart Cink in a four-hole playoff over 59-year old Tom Watson after Watson had bogeyed the 72nd hole.

British Senior Open July 23-26
Won by Loren Roberts with a birdie on the third playoff hole over Fred Funk who was eliminated on the first and Mark McNulty

Women’s British Open July 30 – Aug 2
U.S. Senior Open July 30 – Aug 2

Now there are a couple of situations to be considered this weekend. First and foremost the U.S. Senior Open will be the second major championship for the seniors in as many weeks. Add to this fact that they are on separate continents. Second, there are two major championships occurring on same weekend. Do the governing bodies of these championships not talk to each other? One event will surely draw away from the other although who will do what to whom is yet to be determined.

For those of us who are avid golf fans we want to enjoy each of these majors separately. We want to view them as separate entities.

And finally here’s the television schedule for two majors this weekend so you can set your DVR’s, TIVO’s, VCR’s or whatever.

Women’s British Open
Thurs. & Fri. … 10am-12PM ET on TNT
Sat. …1:30 – 3:00 PM on ABC
Sun. … 1-3 PM on ABC

U.S. Senior Open
Thurs. & Fri. … 1-5 PM on ESPN
Sat. & Sun. … 3-6 PM on NBC

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Final Britsh Open thoughts


As you might expect we have a few final thoughts on the British Open. Read on!



Tom Watson: What a shame. Is there a golf fan alive who wasn't hoping for the miracle? We were all having flashbacks to 1980 and listening to Al Michaels in our heads. But alas, even though we believed in miracles, it was not to be. Not this time. One super hard bounce on the approach to the 72nd hole seemed to seal Watson's fate. All the talk has been about the 8-foot putt he so nervously stroked. Now, we realize it's easy to second guess these decisions and I'm sure old Tom lost a few winks of sleep Sunday night pondering whether he should have just maybe gently pitched the ball onto the edge of the green and let it trickle to the hole. But, one of the best pitchers of the ball in modern times, chose to putt up the fringe and down to the hole. At best it's 25% guess work. Even sitting on our couch nine hours and six thousand miles removed we were shouting at the ball to stop. When it failed to halt its momentum where we desired, our hearts sank. We knew the inevitable was about to happen.



Stewart Cink: Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. If you happen to be in the half of the population of the world that follows him on Twitter, then you know what we're talking about. In the end Stewart got the job done with a clutch performance.
Okay, we have had enough of expectant husbands playing in a major tournament and declaring, “I don't care where I am or what my position is in the tournament, I'm outta here the second I get the call.” It was okay for Phil the first time, but now it's becoming melodramatic especially for television announcers. Enough is enough. If you think you might have to leave in the middle of the event, why bother to play? Leave the drama for the playing of the event.



ABC: Too bad ABC doesn't get to do more events. We know there's a whole lot of corporate and political wrangling, but it's a shame. Tirico is settling without being overbearing in rhetoric and Azinger has a wonderful touch when explaining what's happening and the significance of the situation. We need more of them!



Rick Reilly: While Reilly can be a bit over the top at times, his essay at the conclusion of the tournament focusing on the gentleman qualities of Tom Watson (as compared to another TW) was a masterpiece.
What can the British Open do for a three-peat to keep the seniors interested? In 2008 it was Norman and this year it was Watson. My pick for 2010 is Mark O'Meara who, in case you didn't notice, also made the cut a finished all 72 holes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Golf from the Ground Up a worthy read to improve your game

As a teacher of the game I read every book on instruction that comes to my desk or that magically pops off the bookshelf in a used book store. Yes, sometimes the good old stuff is the best stuff. And, if you are even the mildest aficionado of the game, you surely know that there are countless numbers of golf instruction books and articles on the market. The monthly golf tabloids bombard our minds, senses and sensibilities with changing technique and theory. As a teacher and as a player, you have to be able to dissect the good from the bad and the practical from the insane.

The latest addition to my library is Golf from the Ground Up by Bob Mullen published by Burford Books. Mullen is certified as a Master Teaching Professional with the United States Golf Teachers Federation and certainly has a sound grasp of the fundamentals and the basics of the golf swing. And, since this is A New Focus on Fundamentals from a Master Teaching Pro, Mullen has structured his volume in logical and typical fashion. He begins with a discussion of the fundamentals and then progresses to the swing. At the end of the volume in his final two chapters Mullen deals with The Number One Fault in Golf, the over-the-top, loopy swinging move – and then in a chapter entitled Author's Notes Mullen lets us in on the long sought after “secret” of Ben Hogan. He takes six pages in this chapter detailing the mystery.

Mullen's term for the fundamentals, the absolute necessities of the game if you want to develop a repeatable swing, is the “platform.” And, whereas most instructors give four five as the number of fundamentals, Mullen includes a sixth, footwork. His discussion on the importance of footwork is excellent worth the purchase of the book.

Golf from the Ground Up is Mullen's version of Hogan's The Modern Fundamentals of Golf even to the point of illustrations by Tom Weyl. In fact we can detect a bit of Hogan in the title itself - Golf from the Ground Up – for it was Hogan who believed that the golfer needed to dig his game out of the dirt.
His explanation of the fundamentals is excellent and down to earth, however, at times his discussion on the swing becomes too technical and involved if the reader is not well versed in the mechanics of the golf swing. Mullen does provide a multitude of excellent drills for the teacher to implement and the student to try.

Golf from the Ground Up is definitely a worthwhile read for all golfers - highly recommended for teachers and definitely beneficial for students.