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@unimarternetwork UniMarter Blog@unimarternetwork
28 minutes ago

The Ways Golfers Screw Up

The biggest problem with us golfers, I suspect, is that we are eternally hopeful and anyone who plays the game demonstrates time and again that old adage about re-marrying ? it demonstrates the triumph of optimism over experience.Despite the fact that the game can make happy men very old, that the best we manage is to ride the crest of a ripple and that our dreams of playing well and taking the money from our opponents usually disappear before the third tee, we nevertheless always think ? or hope ? that it will be better next time. And that?s part of the problem. A round of golf offers 17 fresh new starts, so no matter what we did on the previous hole, there?s always the possibility of getting it right, starting with the next tee shot.What we singularly fail to appreciate is that ?getting it right? is impossible and the best we should expect or hope for is to get it less wrong than we did last week. Sadly, this would require us to think and analyse our mistakes, and then to practice in order to eradicate or lessen them ? and where?s the fun in that?Nah, let?s just carry on as we are, and celebrate the two days a year when we almost have the game mastered. And in the meantime, here?s a list of the most obvious ways in which we get it wrong.Starting a roundWe should:Arrive at the course with at least a half hour to spare. Hit a few balls on the range or practice ground ? no more than a dozen; it?s just to see what game we?ve got that day and to loosen the muscles. Visit the practice putting green for five minutes, check our bag to make sure we?ve got no more than 14 clubs and that everything we might need ? waterproofs, spare balls, drinks and so on ? are also there.We do:Arrive late and hop onto the first tee, dropping things as we go, trying to lace up our golf shoes and run at the same time. Oh, and on a bad day we run out of golf balls by the 13th because we didn?t have time to check our supply before the game.During the gameWe should:Concentrate fully on every stroke, especially the most important of the day, the opening tee shot. Thereafter, it is important to look only ahead at the next shot, not back to the previous one. It is equally important, however, to not get ahead of ourselves. The game really is played one stroke at a time.We do:Hit a bad shot and instantly realise that we had no idea what we were thinking about or trying to achieve during the swing. A truly bad stroke, such as a missed two-foot putt, plays on our mind for several holes, by which time our score is wrecked or the match lost. Conversely, if we?re playing well, we start to imagine how good our finishing score could be, begin to press and run up double figures on a hole.Club selectionWe should:Make allowances for wind direction and speed; whether the shot is up or downhill, and the way we?re striking the ball on that particular day. If in doubt between clubs, always select the longer, on the basis that our golf ball will fall short of its selected target at least 12 times in a round.We do:Know that we once busted a 7-iron 160 yards, downhill with a following breeze on a warm day; so for ever more we delude ourselves that 160 yards is, for us, a 7-iron. We also wonder why we keep finding the bunkers at the front of the green, and never put two and two together, no matter how often we play.After the gameWe should:Clean our clubs, dry any equipment that might have got wet, put newspaper and / or a shoe tree into our golf shoes to draw out the moisture or prevent them cracking or losing shape.We do:Throw the clubs and shoes into the garage and forget about them until our next round.PracticeWe should:Hit a few wedges to get the muscles loose and then build up via 8-iron, 4-iron and fairway wood, for example, before trying the driver, and then wind down slowly, finishing off with a few half or three-quarter distance wedges. We also know how important it is to practice the short game, as that?s where most strokes are taken.We do:Not practice, except on very rare occasions, when we turn up for a round having forgotten that the course is closed because it?s hosting an important event. So we reluctantly head for the range where we whale away with the driver for half and hour.The RulesWe should:Ideally have a good working knowledge of the Rules of Golf, but at least have some understanding of the ones most commonly used.We do:Not even know how to properly take a drop from a water hazard.NB: This is probably, though, the exception in this list, as only three people in the world have a complete understanding of the Rules of Golf. They are, David Rickman, rules secretary at the R&A, his USGA counterpart and whoever you?re drawn against in the next round of your club?s knockout matchplay competition.EquipmentWe should:Consider custom-fitting. It guarantees getting the best clubs to suit our particular swing. Why buy off-the-peg when you can have something tailored to your own idiosyncracies, for no more cost? Failing that, a visit to our local pro for advice would not go amiss. Most importantly, once you have a set of clubs that suit you, stick with them.We do:Spend far more than we can afford, and hanker after the latest ?hot? irons or woods, simply because Tiger or Ernie plays them. We still think that good scores can be bought in the pro shop, whereas the most important things you can get there are tees, drinks, Mars bars, replacement balls for the half dozen you lost last week and a chance to dry out, having been caught in a freak shower between car park and clubhouse.LessonsWe should:Regularly visit a PGA-qualified professional; building a relationship and trust, knowing that someone with an experienced eye is familiar with our swing and the old habits into which we can fall if not careful. In addition, we should have lessons in all areas of play ? bunker shots and putts, for example ? and not just the full swing. Finally, it?s often a good idea to have a lesson when you?re playing well, to reinforce what it is you?re doing properly.We do:Listen to advice from anyone on the course, no matter how many strokes higher than ours their handicap happens to be. And we only go for a lesson when our game has deteriorated to the point where it is virtually beyond all help. After the lesson, by the third hole of our next round we find the changes we?ve been told to incorporate are too difficult to master so abandon them and go back to all our bad habits, happily muttering: ?Better the devil you know.?AmbitionsWe should:Remember the old but nonetheless true adage: ?It doesn?t matter ?how? but ?how many?. This is the philosophy adopted by Tour pros who are, after all, the absolute best in the world at what they do ? to the extent where they even have a phrase for it, which is ?playing ugly?. This means being able to scrape together a score, no matter how badly they?re swinging the club.We do:Constantly beat ourselves up for falling short of some vague, idealised notion of how we should play. Not convinced? Then answer the following question honestly.If given a choice, on a par three hole would you rather?a) Hit the ball so sweet and pure that it goes further than you?ve ever hit that particular club before, with the result that it flies the green.b) Top the damned thing so badly that your fingers sting and the ball runs along the ground, between two bunkers, onto the green.If you answered ?a? you illustrate the point perfectly. If you answered ?b?, you?re lying.Pace of playWe should:Move briskly, be ready to play when it?s our turn, refuse to copy the more ponderous antics of Tour pros, not leave bags and trolleys to the ?wrong? side of the green, mark our scorecards on the next tee and generally get a move on.We do:Chatter to our companions and forget whose turn it is to play, make a point of plumb-bobbing every putt, even though we have no idea what it achieves; park our trolley too close, so that after taking up our stance we have to move it because it interferes with our intended line of swing; find ourselves gazing in reverie at a particularly attractive cloud formation, or a nice view. We also wonder why the group in front of us always move at the speed of a glacier, while those behind dash around at 90mph, pointedly letting their body language spell out that they?re bored, frustrated, and ready to play as soon as we get the hell out of the way.EtiquetteWe should:Repair pitch marks, replace divots and rake bunkers. Talk quietly, call others through as soon as it becomes apparent that we need to search for a ball, and put all our rubbish into one of the on-course bins, or our bag, until we can dispose of it later. In addition, we should dress sensibly and in accordance with the club?s dress code.We do:Turn up in an old pair of gardening trousers and a T-shirt bearing the legend: ?Where?s the first tee and what?s the course record?? We repair pitch marks and so on only if someone else is watching and, if we can get away with it, toss our empty drinks cans into the nearest bush (well, someone must because every time I have to search for a ball on my home course the woods and foliage are full of empty cans and cigarette packets). Oh, and it?s a point of honour to never, ever call another group through unless you happen to know that the club captain, president or secretary is among them.BehaviourWe should:Treat our opponents and fellow competitors with respect and civility by, for example, not jiggling coins in our pocket, sneezing, coughing, or dropping a full set of golf clubs on the ground as he?s about to play. We should remember that golf is the last bastion of sportsmanship and that ?etiquette? is even woven into the Rules of the game.We do:Anything we possibly can to ensure that his day is worse than ours. This includes betting on everything to try and put him off his stroke, saying: ?Two for the half? when he has an 18 inch putt to win the hole, and asking how come he hits the ball so far with such an obvious lateral pronation of his wrists during the first part of the takeaway. This last ploy, incidentally, is as old as the hills but some golfers still fall for it.TacticsWe should:Weigh up our options and not go for the once-in-a-lifetime shot unless we?re playing matchplay and so far behind that it?s hell or bust. Never be ashamed of declaring the ball unplayable. We should also, when in trouble, take our medicine, hack or chip out sideways and try to limit the damage.We do:Have a vastly inflated sense of our own ability, with the consequence that we constantly try miracle recovery shots that do, nevertheless, come with a guarantee that you won?t run up a double bogey. Problem is, the guarantee ensures that you?ll end up taking double figures instead.Clubhouse etiquetteWe Should: Remember that golf is a game for gentlemen and behave accordingly, making sure to wash our hands after a round before going into the bar, and to not treat it like a men-only club (unless it is, of course). While there we should spend at least as much time listening to others? golfing stories as telling our own.We do: Tell filthy jokes in a loud voice, ignoring the women and juniors cowering in the corner, before regaling everyone about the desperately unlucky bogey six we scored on the 18th ? while not allowing our best friend, who has just scored the best round of his life, which included his first ever hole-in-one, to get a word in edgeways.Attitude to othersWe should: Regard juniors, seniors, women and visiting societies as having every bit as much right as ourselves to be on the course and extend them the same courtesy, consideration and good-manners as if they were a group of visiting Tour pros.We do: Mutter, moan and curse at every stroke they make, forgetting entirely that we were once relatively unskilled and hated being looked down on by golf snobs who think the only valid measure of a person?s character is his (or her) handicap.Playing the gameWe should: Remember always that golf is much more a game of subtlety than strength, and that hitting it straight is far more important than hitting it long. As Harvey Penick, who taught both Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite throughout their distinguished careers used to say: ?The woods are full of long hitters.?We do: Throw ourselves off our feet in increasingly desperate efforts to squeeze out a few more yards and we measure all golfers by one criteria and one alone ? the distance they hit the ball. If we play with a retired bank manager who hits a 5-iron on every hole, bunts it no more that 160 yards and scores 82, we?ve forgotten all about it after two hours. But pair us with a gum-chewing Neanderthal with misspelt tattoos who hits it, by his own admission, ?well large? on his way to shooting 112, we tell all our friends ? in tones of hushed reverence ? for days afterwards.SportsmanshipWe Should:Show respect and offer encouragement to fellow golfers, whether they be playing partners or opponents. This means congratulating them on good shots and offering commiseration for poor ones. And if you lose a match you should shake hands, say ?well done? and mean it.We do:Use every aspect
of gamesmanship we can to put them off, without directly cheating. We also, of course, wish nothing but harm on their ball while it is in flight and, if the ancient curse we mutter under our breath causes it to do as told and fly out of bounds, we grimace in fake sympathy and say ?hard luck?.Club membershipWe should:Have understanding, sympathy and encouragement for all club employees, whether they be the secretary, pro, greenkeeping, catering or other staff. We should realise that they have particular skills, knowledge and abilities that we do not possess, and look for ways in which we can help them in running the club.We do:Join the greens committee and, solely on the basis that we have a lawn so we know what we?re talking about, presume to lecture the course superintendent (who only went to college for three years to study agronomy, topography, meteorology and several other ?ologies?) on the best way to restore the 12th green to its former glory. And if he or she doesn?t listen, we make the secretary?s life a misery by demanding that the superintendent be sacked.StrategyWe should:Study the hole carefully from the tee, trying to understand what was in the architect?s mind, and why hazards, trees, rough and other potential dangers are sited where they are. We should then focus on a particular spot on the fairway (or green) from which we have the best opportunity to attack the flagstick with our next shot.We do:Always take driver on par four and five holes and aim, vaguely, for ?anywhere on the short grass?.
Err, that?s it.Martin Vousden is a freelance golf writer, a former editor of Today?s Golfer and launch editor of Golf Buyer and Swing magazines. His book: With Friends Like These; A selective history of the Ryder Cup, was published in 2006 by Time Warner. He edits the website http: / /

Network analysis for The Ways Golfers Screw Up (published 28 minutes ago) and with tags

@unimarternetwork UniMarter Blog@unimarternetwork
58 minutes ago

Carnoustie - Fearsome or Fair?

After playing five holes of the championship course at Carnoustie you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. The holes are all par fours, only one of which (the second) is over 400 yards and, if you?ve managed to avoid bunkers you could be in pretty good shape and feeling rather pleased with yourself.And then you?re staring down the barrel of Hogan?s Alley ? the 500-yard, par five sixth that was re-named in 2003 on the 50th anniversary of the one time the great man played our national championship ? which of course he won. The tee shot has to be threaded between bunkers in the right half of the fairway and OB left. The lay-up needs to be equally accurate because a burn snakes in front of the green and down the right side of the fairway, and the final approach has to negotiate a gruesome pot bunker, guarding a green with such a steep swale in it that you need crampons just to walk to the flagstick.When Hogan played it, perceived wisdom suggested that flirting with the OB fence was just too dangerous so the ?smart? play was to go right of the bunkers from the tee. This meant you were firing towards OB for your second but at least you?d have an iron in your hand. Hogan eschewed this nonsense and went straight down the middle every day with such relentless accuracy that one observer swore he played his second shot in the afternoon (in those days they played 36 holes a day) from the divots he?d made in the morning. Which begs the question ? if he was that accurate, why didn?t he avoid the divots?But it is here that you first start to get an inkling of what Carnoustie is about and the sixth hole sums up the challenges it offers. As with most links courses, the first secret of good scoring is to avoid the bunkers but unlike most other great links ? St Andrews and Royal Lytham spring instantly to mind ? at Carnoustie you can see them from the tee and know exactly what shot you?re trying to hit ? or more accurately perhaps, what sandpits from hell you?re trying to avoid.The original architect was James Braid ? one of the best and most under-rated there has ever been ? and as soon as you step onto the first tee you realise that you?re playing a course which did not evolve by accident but was touched by the hand of genius ? albeit a genius with a slightly malicious bent. The best way to describe this feeling is to offer the following challenge.Stand on any tee on the course and look carefully at the hole ahead of you for a few seconds. Now close your eyes and imagine the hole with no sand on it at all. Finally, think about where you would least like bunkers to be sited, open your eyes again and there they are. Braid was a man who knew golf and golfers, and particularly understood the best way to challenge us to perform at our best.Willie Gardner, vice-chairman of the Carnoustie golf links management committee, a man who can?t remember how many times he?s played the course but it must be in the tens of thousands, says: ?I think it?s the toughest course on the Open rota, mainly because of the bunker placement; there isn?t really a place where you can freewheel.?I remember a quote from Nick Faldo at the Scottish Open and he said that when he got to the 15th he felt as if he?d played a full round; not physically but mentally. Because you have to think so much about every shot it takes its toll. And the course asks questions to which you don?t always have answers. The bunkering is pretty strategic.?If you hit the shots you get the benefit but it doesn?t forgive bad shots. The tee shots are the real challenge. If you get in a fairway bunker there?s no way you can hit a 3-iron or go for the green; you just get out as best you can and think about your approach shot [if you?re lucky, you?ll have advanced 20-40 yards from the sand, if not, you?ll be 20 yards further back because in many instances the only shot is backwards].?But even finding the fairway isn?t the whole story because sometimes being slap bang in the middle isn?t the best place; you need to be on a particular part of the fairway to have the best approach. Carnoustie has never had to rely solely on the pin positions to defend the course and in fact we rarely have what I would describe as stupid or extreme pin positions.?According to golf services manager Colin McLeod, one visitor allegedly asked the pro: ?How do I get out of the bunkers?? When the pro started demonstrating the technique he said: ?No, I don?t mean the ball; I can get that out. But how do I get myself out of the bunkers??And all of this is not to suggest that bunkers are Carnoustie?s only defence, far from it, but they are the most visible and ubiquitous weapon in its formidable armoury. The other, of course, is supplied by God, in the form of weather ? particularly the wind.If you play Carnoustie on a relatively still day and manage to avoid sand, you will proclaim to all and sundry that it?s a good, fair test of golf. But as soon as the breeze gets up it?s a completely different ball game, as it is on any Scottish links but especially so at Carnoustie. The reason for this is the course configuration, which involves you playing to any and all points of the compass within a few holes ? this is not a ?straight out and straight back? layout where you can rely on the wind being consistent and because the holes rather tack to port and starboard, the wind seems as if it?s always changing direction whereas in fact it?s you and not the elements that are capricious.The final part of Carnoustie?s defence comes at the end of the round ? more specifically, the final three holes and here there is no doubt and no argument that they represent the most fearsome finish in championship golf. In the same way that people on the Old Course at St Andrews start thinking about the 17th long before they reach it, so it is with this closing trio of holes in Angus.The par three 16th, for example. It?s 235 yards from the yellow tees, has wickedly placed greenside bunkers and the putting surface, from the tee at least, looks long and emphatically not wide. When Tom Watson won the Open here in 1975 he played the hole five times and didn?t make par once ? he bogied it four times in regulation play and then birdied it in his 18-hole playoff with Jack Newton.Jack Nicklaus has said that it isn?t a short hole because, by his reckoning a par three must, by definition, be reachable in one and there have been times when he couldn?t get home with a driver.It?s followed by a 421-yard par four which involves driving into an island around which the Barry Burn snakes. The best line to the green, from the left side of the fairway, involves putting your drive as close to the burn as possible. Negotiate this safely and you still have the 18th. Another par four (it used to be a five and many think it still could be), this time of 428 yards, it has OB all the way left, a burn right, well-sited fairway bunkers and a burn in front of the green.Apart from that, it?s a piece of cake.The 18th will forever be remembered as the place where Jean Van de Velde imploded during the ?99 Open where, needing only a double-bogey six to win, he contrived the unlikeliest seven ever seen, fell back into a playoff and allowed Paul Lawrie to play four superlative holes and pinch the claret jug from his back pocket.Talk of that Open around Carnoustie and you will get a mixed response. Some gnarled locals, admittedly a minority, are delighted that ?Carnastie? lived up to its sometimes fearsome reputation but most think the championship gave a false impression, and I?m inclined to agree with them.What happened is that on a routine visit a couple of months before the Open, the R&A suggested growing the rough in a few places to tighten things up a bit. There then followed two months of warm, wet weather in which the rough grew particularly thick. And then the wind blew. Cue Sergio Garcia crying in his mother?s arms after missing the cut after rounds of 89, 83 and Tiger Woods managing to finish tied seventh after 74, 72, 74, 74.But that Open has to be seen in context and no greater contrast could be viewed than the Dunhill Links Championship, played in balmy weather last September. As a result, scoring was good but not stupendous, and rounds in the mid-low 60s were not uncommon.That?s how Carnoustie should be seen and remembered ? difficult, yes, unfair, certainly not. As for fearsome ? just make sure you play it on a windless day.Contact details
Carnoustie Golf Course
Links Parade
Angus DD7 7JE
01241 853789
Web: www. feesFor 2004 a round on the Championship course will cost ?95; the only Open championship venue not in three figures. However, the links committee manages three courses ? the others being the Burnside and Buddon ? and a range of combined tickets are also available; probably the best value one offering a round each on the Championship and Burnside for ?110.The OpenCarnoustie has staged five Open Championships but the R&A is not dropping hints about when the Championship might return. The next three venues are known ? Royal Troon in 2004, St Andrews in 2005 and Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) in 2006. Rumours persist that Turnberry is a favourite for 2007, if the roads and access can be sorted. This would suggest a return to England in 2008 and Carnoustie perhaps in ?09 but the likelihood is that St Andrews will get the nod in 2010, and the R&A is unlikely to visit locations within 40 miles of each other in consecutive years, which would rule out Carnoustie for ?09 or ?11. Therefore, if Carnoustie is to be seen on the Open rota in the near future, it seems to be between it and Turnberry for ?07.Carnoustie?s Opens
1931 Tommy Armour 296
1937 Henry Cotton 290
1953 Ben Hogan 282
1968 Gary Player 289
1975 Tom Watson 279*
1999 Paul Lawrie 290*
*Indicates playoffSouth AmericaThe 10th hole, South America, is so named for one of the earliest members who was emigrating to that part of the world. Friends and family gathered for a farewell party and he was last seen, drunk, heading off into the night. Next day he was found asleep on the 10th ? some say in a bunker ? and when he was woken is reported to have said: ?Am I there yet?? He missed his ship and never made the trip.Martin Vousden is a freelance golf writer, a former editor of Today?s Golfer and launch editor of Golf Buyer and Swing magazines. His book: With Friends Like These; A selective history of the Ryder Cup, was published in 2006 by Time Warner. He edits the website http: / /

Network analysis for Carnoustie - Fearsome or Fair? (published 58 minutes ago) and with tags

@unimarternetwork UniMarter Blog@unimarternetwork
1 hour ago

A Profile of Johnny Miller

We all know, from his television commentaries with America?s NBC network, that Johnny Miller can talk the talk but for a time in the mid 1970s he also walked the walk ? probably better than anyone else who ever stepped on a golf course.Everyone he competed against, and that included Nicklaus, Watson, Weiskopf and Trevino, knew that if Miller blew hot he was unbeatable, and that even on an off day he was still pretty damned good. Nicklaus said of him: ?The player who consistently hit his short irons closer to the hole than anyone I ever saw was Johnny Miller in his prime. There were parts of his game, in particular the short irons, that were better than mine.?Watson, meanwhile, who played with Miller as he shot 61 in the final round to win the Tucson Open in 1974, said: ?That was the best pure-striking round of golf I have ever seen.? To which Miller replied: ?For the past 12 months I?ve played better than anybody in the world.?And so he had, but his was an unlikely and swift rise to prominence, followed by an even quicker fall back to, if not mediocrity, then at least to fallible human standards.When he was 10 his older brother, with whom he was very close, drowned while swimming in the Pacific and his body was not found for several weeks. To help Johnny cope with the devastating loss his father set up a mat in the basement where the grief-struck lad could hit golf balls all day if he chose. It paid off to such an extent that in 1966, at the age of 20, Johnny went to the US Open at San Francisco with the intention of getting some work as a caddy. On a whim he entered final qualifying and made it into the field as a player, before finishing eighth.He went on to take 24 US Tour titles, with eight of his victories coming in one season, 1974, and one of those wins, the Tucson Open, was by 14 strokes, against one of the strongest fields of the year. He also won two Majors, the 1973 US Open at Oakmont, regarded as one of the toughest of all American venues, and the 1976 Open at Royal Birkdale, where he held off a 19-year-old debutant called Seve Ballesteros. But it was the US Open that really made his name, as he won it with a final round 63, that remains the best ever last round to win a Major, and which could have been even better.He later said: ?So I birdie the first four, and I immediately start gagging. I know exactly what's going on, too. I hit it to eight feet on five and leave it short, right in the heart. On eight, I hit a great 4-wood in there, 30 feet below the hole. I leave my birdie putt three feet short and then miss that one.?I just kept hitting it stiff ? three feet, four feet, nine feet. If Watson had been putting for me, it might have been a 58.?Last round or weekend charges were a Miller specialty because in addition to that memorable final day at Oakmont, his Open triumph in 1976 was courtesy of a fourth round 66, and the year before, in one of the greatest Masters ever seen, he failed to catch Jack Nicklaus by one stroke, having played the weekend in 65, 66.Miller said that serenity comes from knowing that even your worst shot is going to be pretty damned good, and for a while in his heyday if he ?missed? an iron shot more than three feet off line he would get mad. His swing was so grooved and pure that he could hit an 8-iron, for example, a 7, 8 or 9-iron distance, with a few slight alterations that were almost imperceptible to onlookers. This was a trick he liked to reserve for those players who tried to check out which club he used on a par three hole. So he?d deliberately hit an 8-iron a 9-iron distance, and then watch with pleasure as the other guy airmailed the green.During those glory years between 1973-6, Miller had everything ? blond good looks, talent to burn and an innate curiosity about life, golf and people, which he has continued to show in his TV work. But of all the golfing comets that have blazed across our sky, his was the brightest but shortest lived and as quickly as the magical talent appeared, it disappeared.There are three main reasons. First, he was a lifelong sufferer of the yips ? despite being as hot a putter as anybody when he was on a streak ? so to compensate he simply hit his approach shots even closer to the flag. He freely admits that the reason he has only played twice on the US Champions (Seniors) Tour is that he still battles the yips. So bad are they that even in his prime he once painted a dot at the bottom of his putter grip, and instead of watching the clubhead, he stared at the dot throughout the stroke.He confesses that his worst ever time was in a 1977 match against Jack Nicklaus for the TV series Shell?s Wonderful World of Golf. He matched Nicklaus shot-for shot ? except woefully, embarrassingly, on the greens, where he three-putted seven times. He said: ?It was like I was holding a snake in my hands. I couldn?t make a three-footer. There is no worse feeling than standing over a short putt, knowing you?ve got no chance to make it.?Second, he says that he spent a winter working at his ranch in Utah chopping down trees and when he got back on the course his swing was effectively gone, because of the build-up of muscles and loss of flexibility. He also believes that changing clubs from MacGregor to Wilson in ?75 immediately slipped him back two notches and is no doubt the reason for one of his sagest pieces of advice, still good today, which is: ?Once you find a set of clubs you like, stay with them until they fall apart.?Third, and probably most importantly of all, he is a devoted family man and always felt the narrow, obsessive world of top flight sports, with its endless suitcases and hotel rooms, to be both tedious and a little unhealthy for a sane man. He became bored with the travelling lifestyle of Tour golf and always had much broader interests than 72-hole tournaments. He is a committed member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), has six children and resented being away from them for long periods when they were young.When he made the transition to television analyst he achieved immediate notoriety by using one of his favourite words ? ?choke?. Miller confesses to being a real authority, as it?s a phenomenon he has studied with great interest all his life, because he believes himself to have been a world-class choker.He says: ?I choked so many times myself over the years that it?s a joke. To me, it wasn?t the result of a character flaw, it wasn?t that I lacked courage. Choking isn?t like that at all, it?s merely stress manifesting itself mentally and physically.?In 1990 when he made his debut as a commentator at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. His good friend Peter Jacobsen faced a 225-yard shot over water from a downhill lie on the 18th at Pebble Beach. Miller studied Jacobsen?s body language, and everything else, before saying: ?This is absolutely the easiest shot to choke I?ve ever seen in my life.?The remark created an immediate furore ? Jacobsen refused to talk to him for five months, and only relented after seeing a tape of the incident ? and almost before he had warmed his announcer?s chair Miller was hearing loud cries for him to be sacked. It is difficult now to imagine the fuss ? he didn?t, after all, say that Jacobsen was a choker, or that he would succumb to the pressure, simply that the ingredients were there for it to happen. Over the next few weeks and months an unbowed Miller continued calling it as he saw it and American TV watchers began to realise that hearing an honest opinion was a refreshing change from the bland, inoffensive pap with which they are usually served.He has never pulled his punches and the outspokenness he has shown throughout his life, which he happily took into the commentary booth, has earned him as many enemies as friends. But in fairness, he?s not abusive or vindictive in his comments, merely as brutally honest as he has always been and in American society, especially on television, no-bullshit straight-talking is the exception rather than the rule.His nearest equivalent in sports commentary is probably John McEnroe ? but Miller has an edge even here because throughout his career his play was not only astonishingly good but his behaviour was exemplary. Therefore, when he pulls up Tiger Woods, for example, for swearing audibly (and repeatedly) on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach in the US Open, he cannot be accused of hypocrisy because he was never heard to cuss on a golf course himself, and yet fewer golfers have had greater justification for letting fly with a few epithets.And Miller has carried on being as brutally outspoken as he ever was. In March 2004 Craig Parry beat Scott Verplank in a playoff for the Doral Championship in Miami by holing a 6-iron from 176-yards on the first extra hole. Miller said that the Australian?s swing was that of a 15 handicapper and would have made Ben Hogan puke. Parry was so incensed he made an official complaint to the US Tour but Miller remained unrepentant and his ability to make such remarks, and then refuse to back down when they cause a furore, is probably the reason he remains the most successful American player not to have been offered the Ryder Cup captaincy.And it was the Ryder Cup that got him into more hot water. During the infamous 1999 match at Brookline. Captain Ben Crenshaw, acting ?on a hunch? picked an out-of-form Justin Leonard to partner Hal Sutton in the second afternoon fourballs (they subsequently halved their match with Olazabal and Jimenez). Miller responded by saying: ?My hunch is that Justin needs to go home and watch it on television.? Leonard was furious, and was joined by Davis Love and Jim Furyk, who all said, in effect, that Miller didn?t believe in them and wasn?t supporting the home team as he should.Miller told them to take a hike and pointed out that his job is not to act as cheerleader but offer an honest opinion. He was also outspoken in condemning the behaviour of American fans, who abused Colin Montgomerie, his wife and father, and generally behaved like a rabble, and then severely criticised the US team, led by Tom Lehman, for the infamous charge across the 17th green when Justin Leonard holed an outrageous putt in his singles match again Jose Maria Olazabal.He told Golf Digest: ?If Tom Lehman had done what he did at the Ryder Cup 10 years ago, he would have been banned from the Ryder Cup for life, or at least for one Cup. He was off the charts. He was out of control.?Miller was always in control, and in his pomp he was as good as anyone who ever swung a golf club.Johnny Miller on:
His own game: ?I had a stretch there for a few years where I played some golf that bordered on the twilight zone. I can remember that I was literally getting upset that I had to putt.?Colin Montgomerie: ?Sometimes the guy has no filter between his heart, his brain and his mouth but his opinions aren?t detrimental to the game.?Retief Goosen: It?s the worst three-putt in the history of golf,? (after he?d failed to get down in two from 12 feet on the 72nd hole of the 2001 US Open; he subsequently won the playoff).Peter Oosterhuis (leading the 1973 Masters after 54 holes): ?He?ll probably have a good night?s sleep ? all two-and-a-half hours of it.?The Greatest: ?When Jack Nickalus plays well he wins, when he plays badly he comes second. When he?s playing terribly, he?s third.?Martin Vousden is a freelance golf writer, a former editor of Today?s Golfer and launch editor of Golf Buyer and Swing magazines. His book: With Friends Like These; A selective history of the Ryder Cup, was published in 2006 by Time Warner. He edits the website http: / /

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1 hour ago

Why 17th Holes Can Ruin Your Day

Seventeenth holes on golf courses seem to be designed with just one aim ? to ruin your day.In golf there are rules, by which most of us abide (if we know what they are), and then there are laws, which may be unwritten but are much more powerful. For example, it is a rule of golf that you may spend five minutes searching for a ball that may be lost ? but it is a law of golf that if you don?t find it within one minute, you never will.So it is with golf course design. It is a rule among designers that your closing holes do not move from east to west, to avoid late afternoon finishers always playing towards the setting sun. But it is an unwritten law that a course should have a relatively benign start, and an absolute stinker of a 17th hole ? or at least, that?s how it often seems. Final holes can be tough, and there are a few in the world to support that assertion ? but the penultimate hole on a course, the dreaded 17th, must be even tougher. We don?t know why this should be so, it?s just the law.Johnny Miller once said that every golf course should have a hole that puckers your rear end, and perhaps that is true, but it seems to be more than coincidence that this dreaded experience is always immediately after the 16th ? if you think about some of the most famous courses in the world, the penultimate hole is the one that players start worrying about long before they arrive on the tee. Sawgrass and its notorious island green, the Road Hole at St Andrews ? probably the most famous single hole anywhere ? Carnoustie, Valderrama, Kiawah Island, Wentworth West, the list of infamous next-to-last holes goes on.And if you think about it, it?s good psychology on the part of the course designer or architect. You?ve got a good score going and just need to hold on for a couple more holes, with no worse than a bogey, bogey finish, and the tournament or money or best-ever score are in the bag. And then you stand on the 17th tee and would give anything, including your first-born, to avoid having to hit that tee shot. If somebody were to offer you bogey you?d march straight to the final hole.But they won?t, and you?ve got to play, and now you discover quite how good you really are. Hitting a straight tee shot to a relatively open fairway earlier in the round is easy. It?s even comparatively straightforward on a tough and dangerous hole on the front nine, because if you make a mistake, you?ve still got time to recover. But now you?re on the Old Course at St Andrews and you have to drive over the old railway sheds that stick out of the side of the hotel. To have any chance of getting on the green you need to favour the right side of the fairway ? which you cannot, incidentally, see ? but overdo the fade just a tad and you?re OB. Bail out left and you?ve not only missed the fairway but there?s no way you can go for the green without taking on the most feared bunker in world golf. Oh, and hit it over the wide but not deep green and you?re probably up against a wall, with no shot.Apart from that, it?s a doddle. Ben Crenshaw once said the reason the Road Hole is one of the greatest par fours in the world is because it?s a par six, and for most mortals it should be.And how about the 17th at Sawgrass, home every year of the Players Championship on the US Tour? Many golfers take one look and think to themselves: ?This must have been conceived by a madman,? and they?re almost right ? it was built by Pete Dye. And yet the hole actually came about by accident. Dye originally meant it to have water up the right side but during construction he found a rare pocket of sand ? which was needed elsewhere for developing fairways ? and by the time they had finished excavating the sand, all that was left on 17 was a big hole.Years later Pete Dye confessed: ?We had this big hole in the ground without any green. Alice [Dye?s wife] said: ?Why not just make an island green?? and I said: ?I dunno.??So there you have it. The most damaging and possibly most loathed hole on the US Tour came about because the architect was too dumb to think of anything else, or too scared to argue with his wife. That would be bad enough but the 17th at Sawgrass has subsequently seen so much drama, and swallowed so many golf balls, along with the dreams of the players who hit them only moments before, that it has been copied throughout the world.A good 17th gets under your skin. It worries you, as it should, both in anticipation and execution. It?s like an examination paper that offers a few manageable, relatively straightforward questions before suddenly asking you to explain, in words of three syllables or less, Einstein?s theory of relativity. Or the girlfriend who, just as you?re unclipping her bra, enquires: ?Do you love me?? It?s the unanswerable question, the ultimate challenge, and if you screw it up there?s no time to make amends or undo the damage you have done.If you think I exaggerate, ask Darren Clarke. At the recent season-ending Volvo Masters Andalucia, the big-money jamboree event at Valderrama for the top-60 in Europe where there is no cut and even last place earns 15,500 Euro, Darren was at the top of his game, which in Darren?s case means there are few players in the world that can match him. After a modest opening 73 he went into the second round with something to prove and played fabulous, exquisite golf on Europe?s toughest layout until, by the time he reached the 17th he was ahead of the field at three-under par. He then put three balls into the water guarding the green, and notched up an 11 on the par five. It meant that he slipped from first to 27th in one hole. He still scored a respectable 72 but his tournament was over ? he knew it, and so did we. And all because of one hole.Or what about the penultimate hole at Carnoustie? This course has a famed tough finish ? just ask Jean Van De Velde ? but of the devilish trio of closing holes it is 17 that is most satanic. The Barry Burn meanders on its apparently haphazard route in such a way that it creates, in effect, an island on which the tee shot must land. Okay, if the wind is in your favour and you?re a big hitter you might try and carry both parts of the stream and have a relatively straightforward approach but at Carnoustie, on this hole ? as if the gods of golf decreed it ? the wind is never in your favour. So you lay up onto the haven of short grass, and whatever you do don?t pull it because that also means your ball will be wet, and then you have a long iron to a well-guarded green, that you can?t see because it sits in a little dell, that is angled away from you. When Paul Lawrie won the Open here in 1999 he was so adamant that this was the key hole that he commissioned artist David Maxwell to paint the hole as the focal point of the artist?s tribute to his win.You need more? How about Royal Troon, where in July this year Todd Hamilton finally overcame Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff. Well, that?s what the records say but in truth it was all settled at one hole, the 17th. A long par three with an elevated green that is deep but not wide and bunkered on either side. There?s only option, hit a long, straight iron. Piece of cake really ? except Hamilton did, Ernie didn?t and the claret jug went west. Again.You may wish it weren?t so but the laws of golf and the fraternity of golf course architects have decreed that the 17th should be the meanest, toughest, most fearsome hole of the lot, so you?d better just get used to the idea.Martin Vousden is a freelance golf writer, a former editor of Today?s Golfer and launch editor of Golf Buyer and Swing magazines. His book: With Friends Like These; A selective history of the Ryder Cup, was published in 2006 by Time Warner. He edits the website http: / /

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2 hours ago

Golf Fees in the Bahamas

Taking some time off from your busy work and spending it on your favorite hobby is probably the best gift that you can give to yourself. You know how much it takes to earn money-working overtime, under pressure, and sometimes neglecting significant events such as your birthday or your wedding anniversary. You will eventually appreciate your hard work if you know how to take some time off and spend it with your favorite hobby-whether camping and water skiing in the great lakes of good old USA or fishing on the nearby pond. It provides enjoyment as well as relaxation for the next several days before going back to your busy work once again.Probably one of your favorite pastimes during weekends is playing golf with the rest of your friends. Taking a tee and landing an 'eagle' will really put a smile on your face and laughter on the air.Hey, is it a good idea to take a week off and enjoy golfing on the beautiful country of the Bahamas? The excellent championship courses make the Bahamas one of the exciting golfing destinations, whether you are a beginner or you are a golf enthusiast for several years now. Aside from the green golfing courses of the country, the clear blue skies make a perfect condition to hit some fantastic rounds of golf.Golf became one of the attractions in the Bahamas after the construction of the Cable Beach Golf Club at Nassau in the 1920s. Such beach golf club is exclusive for rich American families who frequently spend their vacation on the island. The next 30 to 40 years is vital in the development of several golf courses across the island. It is now the home of numerous golf courses, with some of them rated to be 'golf championship courses'.If you will visit The Bahamas for your golfing vacation, you will find a wide variety of golf courses, ranging from beginners to more experienced golf players. Golf fees depend on the season and on the location. There are many courses attached to resorts, and every golfer is advised to check with the course of their choice for applicable information and set up a tee time in advance to be accommodated, especially during peak seasons.As previously mentioned, golf fees varies from season and on the location. Here are some of the popular golf courses in The Bahamas with their corresponding 'green fees':1) Treasure Cay Golf Course located at Abaco, Treasure Cay Golf Course has a total of 6,985 yards from the blue tees and comes with 66 strategically-placed sand bunkers. It provides an excellent challenge for golfers because of its tight fairways, ocean winds, and unique layout that will make you ponder every club selection. Unlimited golf fees usually starts at $60, exclusive of other golf packages.2) Bahamas Princess Emerald and Ruby Golf Courses it has 18 holes, par-72.5 bunkers per hole, and water on 11 holes. In addition, the 9th hole in the Emerald course takes the honor as the toughest hole on the whole island. Why? See it for yourself. Unlimited green fees and 18-hole cart starts as $62.3) Fortune Hills Golf and Country Club it is a 9-hole championship golf course built in 1971. It is considered to be the centerpiece of an elegant golf and country club community setting. The design provides challenging holes due to some elevated greens. Golf fees for this course starts from $51 for the 9-hole and additional $35 with caddy and cart. The club rental for 18 holes is at $15 with 10.5 percent off if you have condominium rentals.You will not just enjoy your golfing vacation at the Bahamas. You will be able to save substantial amounts of money from traveling to far places in search for a world-class golf course. The Bahamas got it, in a price not too heavy on your pockets.To read more from Michael Contaro you can go to Bahamas Golf Fees or go to http: / /

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2 hours ago

Augusta National Myths

We all think we know Augusta National because it?s the only course to host a Major every year. But there are a number of falsehoods and misunderstandings about the placeMyth: You need to be a great putterIan Woosnam, Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples have all won there in the last 15 years and none of them would be regarded as the best at wielding a short (or in Bernhard?s case, long) stick.What you need to be is a great iron player who puts his ball into the right part of the green, so that putting does not become an obstacle course.
NB: Ian Woosnam uses a long putter now but didn?t when he won the green jacket.Myth: The front nine is boringOn any other course in the world the first nine holes of Augusta National would be rightly hailed as a great test of golf. Until recently we never got to see the outward half of the layout on television but that doesn?t make it mundane.Myth: You have to score on the par fivesThe par threes, in fact, are much more challenging. Many birdies are made on the par fives; a lot of dropped shots come at the threes. The 4th, 6th, 12th and 16th cumulatively represent a good test, especially the 4th and 6th.Myth: To play Augusta well you need to be able to hit a high fadeThe tee shots on the 3rd (marginal) and 18th are the only ones where this shape really works for right-handers ? from every other tee the ball needs to be hit straight or, more preferably, with a draw.Myth: Growing the ?rough? reins in the longer hittersAll it does is stop their ball running into the trees. Admittedly, for top pros playing off a bed of pine needles isn?t too difficult ? as Woosie demonstrated by successfully going for the green from the right of the 13th en route to victory. But Tom Watson was in the woods to the right of 18 and was blocked out, his bogey five handing the title to the Welshman.Myth: Augusta in April offers perfect tournament golf weather
Rainstorms, lightning, hail and thunder are common. In fact, four calm, sunny days are the exception rather than the rule.Myth: The course is a visual delight because it?s built on the grounds of an old nurseryAll the flowers we see on TV are planted specially for the Masters ? if the weather?s good they?re packed in ice to inhibit growth; if it?s poor, heat lamps are used to accelerate growth. Oh, and the muddy brown water of Rae?s Creek is dyed blue for the week and the plastic cups ?patrons? drink from are green on the inside and outside, so they don?t show on TV when tossed aside.Myth: Wild or off-line drives will not be punishedTry telling that to anyone who misses the fairway at 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17 or 18. In comparison to other Majors, the fairways are generous but the penalty for missing them can be severe.Myth: The fairways at Augusta are wider than just about anywhere elseYes, they appear generous but actually they?re not. As Gordon Sherry discovered when he played his only Masters (in ?96 as amateur champion), to set up the right approach to the green, only a half, or in some cases a third of the available landing area is any good to you.Myth: The course?s only defense is the greensSee above. Rae?s Creek and ponds are situated in such a way as to cause maximum problems at 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16. Trees are a troublesome feature on many holes, especially 14 and 18; and the comparatively few bunkers that exist are ? with the exception of the huge cross-bunker 60 yards short of the green on 10 ? extremely well sited.Myth: Augusta is an easy course for handicap golfers who want to play bogey golfAugusta is one of the most strategic, demanding courses in the world and handicap players would struggle at least as much there as on any decent layout.Myth: The 12th is among the toughest par threes in the worldPros are hitting anything between 6-8 iron, depending on the wind and if they can?t hit a reasonably sized target with one of those, they?re in the wrong job. Truth is, we remember the disasters but the great majority of the field stroll through the hole.Myth: Amen Corner is one of the toughest three-hole stretches anywhere in the world11 is a 445-yard par four that most of the field will hit something like an 8-iron into. There?s a pond short left but plenty of bail out to the right.12 ? see above.13 ? one of the most frequently birdied holes on the course and virtually the whole field can get up with an iron.Myth: Distance off the tee is not a great factorNo, not if you can hit it 300 yards.Martin Vousden is a freelance golf writer, a former editor of Today?s Golfer and launch editor of Golf Buyer and Swing magazines. His book: With Friends Like These; A selective history of the Ryder Cup, was published in 2006 by Time Warner. He edits the website http: / /

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3 hours ago

The Best Books in Golf

There are a lot of books out there on the wonderful game of golf but not too many are worth keeping and reading again. You will notice there are no instruction manuals in our list, because trying to learn how to play golf from a book is like trying to become a great lover by reading an illustrated magazine on self-abuse. Also, ?best? means most enjoyable ? either because of their excellence or excrescence.The Rub of the Green, William HallbergOften mysteriously overlooked but, with the exception of PG Wodehouse, the only good novel featuring golf ever written. Its hero goes to gaol but dreams of turning the prison swamp into a great two-hole course ? trouble is, he needs the help of the frankly mad and disordered ground staff to realise the dream.
?I laughed until I wet myself.? Her Majesty the Queen.The greatest Game Ever Played, Mark Frost.The story of how an unknown American amateur, Francis Ouimet, took on two of the game?s greats ? Harry Vardon and Ted Ray ? in the US Open; matched them for 72 holes and then beat them in the playoff. So well-written (by a man who really knows his craft) and absorbing that you forget you know the ending.?An achingly beautiful and yet powerful homage to the indomnitable spirit of the down-trodden lumpen proletariat, evoked in a lyrical paean of sensitivity, encapsulating all that is esoteric but vibrantly alive in the unending quest of the individual to rise above the circumstances of his birth.? Lee Westwood.My autobiography, Bernhard LangerThe title is the most original thing about it and it takes true genius to make a life as rich and interesting as Langer?s read like a recipe for beans on toast. Ghost-written by a man described as a ?writer and a director of Christians in Sport.? The second part of the description may be true, the first definitely isn?t. It starts with the words: ?I was born in Anhausen, near Augsberg in Southern Germany on 27 August 1957,? and then gets really dull.?The world is full of books, and this is one of them.? Arnold Palmer.Four-iron in the Soul, Lawrence DonneganA season as a Tour caddie (to Ross Drummond, and whatever happened to him?) The idea?s been done before, but not by someone with Donnegan?s eye for detail, sharp observation and wit. Full of great anecdotes ? did you know that Al Capone cheated at golf ? and greater characters.
?Say that about me again and I?ll deck you.? Blind-boy, Pirate, Dustbin-Legs, Road-Runner McGhee, caddie to the stars.Tarbuck on Golf, Jimmy TarbuckNo, of course not ? just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.
?Shome mishtake shurely,? Sean Connery.Nice Jumper, Tom CoxAs Neil Sedaka almost said, growing up is hard to do. But if you become obsessed by a nerdy game, which means that everyone else at school thinks you?re the un-coolest thing since permed hair for boys, adolescence becomes a torturous journey in which all you do is play with your balls. The difference is, all your mates are doing it in the privacy of their bedroom while you?re out in public, striding the fairways.
?He could have my babies any time.? Laura Davies.Bud, Sweat and Tees, Alan ShipnuckThe story of the 2002 US PGA champion Rich Beem, never knowingly confused with a mild-mannered, teetotal, sexual hermit, and his even more outrageous caddie, Steve Duplantis. It?s Tin Cup made real but without the irritation of Kevin Costner.
?He could have my babies any time.? John Daly.Strokes of Genius, Thomas BoswellThoughtful, beautifully-written essays on the enduring and eternal appeal of golf, the landscapes over which it is played and the people who play it at the highest level. What more do you want??I liked the bit where the big shark ate all the tourists.? Sandy Lyle.Fairways and Greens, Dan JenkinsAn anthology (that means ?collection? Lee) by the best golf journalist still working. Jenkins is American, old, irascible, bad-tempered and very funny. He cut his teeth writing about Ben Hogan for a local Texas newspaper and followed the miserable bastard for the rest of his glorious career, taking in every Major and big star since. No respecter of reputation, he tells the truth and can be forgiven anything ? including his love of playing golf from a motorised buggy.?It?s got a lot of words, hasn?t it?? Robbie Williams.The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, Ben HoganOkay, we?ll break our own rules on ?no instruction books? because this is, simply, the best ever written, by one of the greatest players to squint into the sun trying to decide if it?s a 6 or 7-iron to the green. Hogan was plagued in his early years by a vicious hook and learnt almost all he knew about golf by hitting balls and thinking about the results before hitting some more ? his practice routine made Vijay Singh look like a layabout. Larry Nelson was one of many to learn the game entirely from this book and went on to win three Majors and his first nine Ryder Cup matches on the bounce. And even if you never read the thing, you should have a copy on your bookshelves.a) to suggest you know something about the game
b) in homage to the great man.?I wouldn?t touch it with a bargepole,? Randy Huckenputz, 53 handicap.In Search of the perfect golf club, Tom Wishon (with Tom Grundner)
Let?s face it, golf equipment is too technical, we?re all baffled by bullshit and manufacturers shovel it towards us by the bucketful. The net result is that we spend far too much money on clubs that are ill-suited to our swing and game, persisting in the delusional belief that we can buy better scores. That?s the bad news. The good news is that you can improve with the right equipment (but rarely with ?off the shelf? clubs), and this book tells you exactly how to find it. The author has credentials and inside knowledge up to here but most importantly, never forgets that he?s talking to technical morons, and therefore makes the study of equipment easy and understandable. You should never spend more than ?10 on a piece of golf equipment without first reading this book.?My coefficient of restitution has never been better.? Tiger WoodsDecisions on the Rules of Golf, The R&A and USGANo, really, this is truly an excellent book and one that will give you hours of harmless fun. We all find the Rules incomprehensible but this at least helps understand not only the laws themselves but the rationale behind some of the dafter things we can and cannot do on the golf course. It is astonishing the sort of questions that people ask our legislators. For example, someone enquired: ?If an opponent or fellow competitor is asked to attend the flagstick and refuses, do I have any redress?? (which we interpret to mean: ?Can I thump him??) and was told ?No?. It conjures up all sorts of images of feuding golfers having a bad tempered match to the point where one rejects the suggestion that he should hold the flag and the other gets so het up about it that he asks his club secretary to write to the R&A.?Doh!? Homer Simpson.The Golf Omnibus, PG WodehouseThe master of all humourous golf writers, Wodehouse has been oft imitated but never bettered. He has introduced us all to the idea of a golfer being disturbed by the uproar of butterflies in an adjoining meadow; that a man can hold in contempt only three things ? slugs, poets and caddies with hiccups; and of another folding his beloved into his arms, using an interlocking grip. The language is a delight and this is a rarity among golf books in that it can be dipped into and re-read time and again with no loss of pleasure, to be reminded, among other things, of the group of golfing rabbits who held another player in high esteem because he once broke 90.?it ws nt rlly my srt of thng if u no wot I mean? (via text), Michelle WieGetting? to the Dance Floor, Al BarkowThe past is a different country and they did things differently there, as this enjoyable book so vividly tells us. It describes the earliest days of the US PGA Tour, where it was a struggle for even the best to simply survive, by the simple expedient of talking to them. Many ? such as Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen ? will be familiar but many others ? Bill Spiller, Errie Ball and Leo Fraser, less so. Nevertheless, they all have fascinating stories to tell about life on Tour before endorsements, sponsorship deals, courtesy cars and golf groupies had been invented.
?Grrr,? Tommy ?Thunder? BoltMartin Vousden is a freelance golf writer, a former editor of Today?s Golfer and launch editor of Golf Buyer and Swing magazines. His book: With Friends Like These; A selective history of the Ryder Cup, was published in 2006 by Time Warner. He edits the website http: / /

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3 hours ago

The Final Tally

Thanks for the memories, 2006. When I think about seasons past I invariably think of the majors. Other tournaments and memories come to mind when those tournaments come around on the schedule in any given season. Jerry Pate?s dive in the water always makes me think of the TPC when The Players Championship comes around. But it?s the majors of years past that have more memories for me.I went to the U.S. Open in 1988, and will remember it for that reason and because Curtis Strange won in an 18-hole playoff against Nick Faldo. I remember some of Tom Watson?s wins in the British, and Greg Norman, too, but it was the latter?s epic collapse at Augusta in ?96 that sticks with me more (Faldo was the benefactor that time). Of course there was Jack?s charge at Augusta a decade earlier.In more recent years, Jean Van de Velde?s pasty calves come to mind, but so does Retief Goosen?s putting and short game at nasty Shinnecock in ?04. And Tiger?s stirring win at Augusta a year later.This year?s majors got off to a good start with a competitive Masters. Phil Mickelson had a small lead Sunday and held on the whole way, fighting off some stiff competition, Tiger among them. It appeared Bad Phil was off his shoulder and / or out of his head.Bad Phil came back with a vengeance at the U.S. Open. It?s still painful to think about, just as it?s still painful to picture Norman at Augusta all these years later. Jim Furyk and Colin Montgomerie also pooched it, but not as spectacularly as Mickelson. On the 18th hole, needing par to win, bogey to force a playoff, he drove way left and hit a tent. Then, in an effort to try to save par, he tried to blast out of the trees. Of course he hit one and the ball traveled about 30 feet. Next he hit into a bunker. The ball plugged and he shot his next past the hole and into rough. Came back to eight feet from there and made that for double bogey.The year?s two final majors were pretty easy for Tiger. He took a brilliant strategy to Hoylake and stuck with it, hitting long irons and playing his second shots to greens in some cases 100 yards back of players who took driver. He hit 86% of his fairways for the week---ridiculous.He added another win, The Buick Open, after the British, and continued his streak with an easy win at Medinah, his third PGA Championship. I?ll probably remember the last round for Woods?s quick start and Luke Donald?s quick fall as much as Donald?s serious mistake in wearing red that final day. As if Tiger needed more motivation.He?d go on to win his next three tournaments, making it six in a row on Tour, and ending his season by the end of September.We saw some newcomers shine, particularly the long-hitting J.B. Holmes, who notched a win in his first year on Tour. Other rookies made splashes with exciting play early in the year, like Bubba Watson and Camilo Villegas.Veteran Davis Love III won late in the season for the first time in years, Vijay Singh won once and would have won many more if he could have made more putts from 6-10 feet. South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen weren?t much heard from, but another steady veteran, Jim Furyk, had a career year. No majors, but he won twice, had 13 top-10s in total, finished second on the money list behind Tiger, and after last week?s performance at the Tour Championship, won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average on Tour.Last week: My long shots didn?t pan out in the head-to-head. I still think it?s a good gamble for the Tour Championship. I don?t think it?s a good gamble for the next small field on the horizon---the season-opening Mercedes Championships in a couple months. You have two options in that one: Stuart Appleby and Tiger Woods. Anyway, I won the head-to-head last week---Singh over Chad Campbell. The odds were 8-13. With a unit down, that was a net gain of $615.40. Factor in the half unit lost in the outright, that left me up $15.40. I think that?s how much movies cost in New York City these days. The total damage for the season after breaking even last week: down 14.5 units. I made a late push but it was a sorry year, considerably worse than last year. The break out year I had in 2004 is still covering, but barely. I gotta make some hay in ?07. Stay tuned. I?m already thinking about Maui.Jeremy Church is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League.
Read all of his articles at http: / / / Jeremy_Church.htm

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