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Archive for February, 2010

Warm Weather Golf for a Few Northerners

February 25th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

This time of year if you live in a cold weather section of the United States, playing a little golf is nothing more than a dream.  But as many golf fanatics know there is that magic elixir that can satisfy the yearning for some birdies, divots and skins: The Golf Trip.

This week I have spent a few lovely days away from the cold and snow of New York’s Hudson Valley and been warming my old bones in the warmth of Tampa, Florida.  Even though the natives down here are complaining about how cool it is, to us Northerners it is heaven.

I flew in Monday and played 18 holes in shorts, got 36 in on Tuesday under sunny skies and Wednesday’s 36 gave us all  a little bit of everything: a cool morning, a warm pleasant mid-day and a little rain in the afternoon to test out our new rain gear.  On Thursday Tampa braced for a cold front and high winds.  Our early morning round was played in bright sunshine, temperatures in the 50’s and a wind that would make a Scotsman from Fife feel at home.  The Tampa natives thought it was freezing but I thought it was pure heaven.

As New York digs out and deals with another storm that continues to dump more and more snow, I sit here reveling in the fact that we actually played all the golf we planned to and even got an unexpected bonus: an extra night in Tampa because our flight home was cancelled due to the weather.

A little warm weather golf in the middle of winter can be just enough to help us make it through to the start of a new season. I can’t wait.

Knuckleheads from the North

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Heavy Putters Feel Great

February 24th, 2010 No comments

As Phil Mickelson demonstrated at the end of the season, the putter can be a “weapon of score reduction.” After a few hours with putting guru Dave Stockton, Phil went on to win two tournaments and The Presidents Cup, putting lights out the whole time. The putter is the club that can reduce your score the quickest but at the same time it can be the club that causes us the most aggravation.

It’s critical to have a putter that fits you right, that allows you to make solid, centered contact with the ball and most importantly feels right. Feel is a critical aspect of putting and even golfers with the most mechanical of putting strokes recognize the importance of feel.

I have experimented with some putters over the years and determined that I like a little more weight in my putter. I have added a few lead strips to my putter head and have been sold on a heavier putter for years.

I recently tested a few of the “Mid-Weights” from Heavy Putter and found them to be quite suitable to my more weighty expectations. When Heavy Putter made its debut with the original Heavy Putters I tried those but found them to be too weighty and unsightly to look at. They looked like a piece of the Flux Capacitor that was left on the floor. No such issues with the Mid-Weights.

After listening to players and consumers feedback they have reduced the weight and made the Mid-Weights in the shape of many traditional and classic putters. I tried out the CX2, J2 (both Blades) and the H3 a Mallet. All three felt great. They had just enough weight to feel very comfortable and had that “swing by itself” feel. All you had to do was bring it back and the putter comes through the hitting area with a good follow through all by itself. That’s part of the thinking behind the Heavy Putter philosophy: heavier mass engages the body’s larger stable muscles, resulting in a more consistent pendulum stroke.

Each putter has a weighted shaft to better distribute the weight so it doesn’t feel like a sledge hammer and a thicker, mid-size grip that feels perfect in your hands.

The putter face is scored and the ball comes off the face with little skid and rolls true. The classic designs of the Mid-Weights make them easy on the eyes as you stand over your putt. Most importantly to me the putter feels right. It swings easy and gives plenty of feedback and feel. With a few practice putts you’ll adjust to the weight and before long it could be your “weapon of score reduction.”

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What’s The Best Golf Movie?

February 23rd, 2010 1 comment

by Jeff Skinner

In a recent poll taken by The Los Angeles Times they ask their sports readers, What is the best golf movie of the last 35 years?  Truth be told there haven’t been that many golf movies and good golf movies are few and far between.  The results of the poll aren’t surprising.  Caddyshack was a runaway winner.  Heck, that’s on many movie goers list of all time best movies, not just sport movies. I’d have to agree that Caddyshack is the standard that all other golf movies are measured against but they probably shouldn’t be. 

Caddyshack has grown into a classic and its lines are quoted by golfers and non-golfers alike.  It truly is more than a film.  It changed comedy and culture with a “Cinderella Story” and an overzealous greenskeeper, not to mention the career of Rodney Dangerfield.

 Second on the list was Tin Cup.  Who hasn’t stood there on the course stubbornly hitting ball after ball from the same spot, just to prove you can make that one damn shot.  Costner was good but Rene Russo was mighty fine.

 In Third place was The Legend of Bagger Vance.  People are confused when they say that Bagger was a golf movie.  It was really a movie of redemption, forgiveness and spirituality.  Golf was only the vehicle that allowed the characters to redeem themselves and find their “authentic swing.”  The soundtrack is fantastic and serves as the trigger for the characters to feel their spiritual selves.  I’ll take that and Charlize Theron any day of the week,

 After those the quality falls off greatly.  It’s a shame too because there are two of the best stories in golf that were butchered by Disney when they tried to make a movie that appealed to the masses.  Unfortunately, The Bobby Jones Story and The Greatest Game Ever Played failed to capture the essence of the greatest golfer of his day and turned the most unlikely win in a major championship ever into a bad video game.

 The rest of the list is a waste but Caddyshack, Tin Cup and The Legend of Bagger Vance will never disappoint you, no matter how many times we watch them.

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So Much Great Golf!

February 22nd, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

So much golf, so little time.  There was a ton of great golf over the weekend that featured exciting endings and a big breakthrough. Who needs Tiger Woods?

Ian Poulter and Paul Casey represented England well as Poulter finally broke through for his first win in America and moved to fifth in the world.  English golf is alive and well.  With all the success of the Europeans in the Match Play, Monty must be licking his considerable chops.

It looked like a runaway at the LPGA in Thailand.  Suzann Pettersen had a five stroke lead to start the last round but an amazing nine under par 63 gave Ai Miyazato the win in the LPGA’s opening event.

Cameron Beckman shoots a final round 67 to jump up and take the Mayakoba Classic.  Big John Daly had started so well with three rounds in the 60’s but he blew up and carded a disappointing 81.

In the most exciting finish of the day, not including the USA hockey win over Canada, Bernhard Langer holed out from a bunker for an eagle on his first playoff hole to beat a stunned john Cook.  Are you kidding me?

All this golf makes all of us that are still snowed in yearn for a little green grass and a few swings.  Here’s where I spent some time this week.  At a heating driving range where they clear off a few practice greens and even heat the balls.  Heated balls…you have to love that!

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Tiger’s Future from Hawkins and Feherty

February 21st, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Shortly after Tiger’s apology everyone in the media voiced their opinions on his statement and what he should do next.  Two of Tiger’s biggest supporters, David Feherty and John Hawkins had different takes on Tiger’s future.  Feherty is a true Tiger fan and rarely says anything negative about Woods.  Hawkins claims Tiger is the best ever but has some suggestions for Tiger to improve his on the course behavior.  Both Feherty’s video and Hawkins article are worth the time.  View Hawkins article.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

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Tiger Woods Starts His Comeback

February 20th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

I have never seen so much raw emotion from a golfer.  Watching him on The Golf Channel yesterday was a moving experience.  No I’m not talking about Tiger Woods; I’m talking about Charlie Rymer.  Rymer got so choked up offering his analysis of Tiger he couldn’t talk.  I like Rymer, he’s always insightful and funny and after yesterdays near sob fest I like him more.  He showed that he’s human; much like Tiger showed during his speech, he is human also.

Tiger is indeed human a flawed human for sure, but still human.  I can understand Rymer’s compassion for Tiger easier then I can understand Tiger’s behavior.  How a man betrays the people he loves like that is beyond me.  But at least Tiger is trying to set things right.

Forget the planned environment that Tiger’s people cooked up and the absurd rules set forth by what must have been a hundred public relations and crisis management specialists.  Tiger hit all the right notes and at least it’s a start to regain his life.  Unfortunately we’ll all have to go through this again when he comes back to play only then he’ll have to answer questions.  Couldn’t he have opened these proceedings to the press, read his statement and answered questions for ten minutes?  After his statement, if he had spoken for one minute without the script and spoken from the heart he would have come off more sincere.  Then if he spent ten minutes answering questions he would have the biggest portion of his “public comeback” behind him.

Tiger and his speech writers came up with a fairly good piece but at times it sounded too calculated.

He’s right when he says his real apology to Elin will come over time.  That’s the truth.  Earning her trust will not be easy and it shouldn’t be.

Of course his people made sure he spoke about all the good he has done with his foundation so we all know what a great guy he is.

He certainly apologized often enough and to all the effected parties.

I heard a little “Rehab 101” in there with references to entitlement, boundaries and selfishness.

Tiger got a bit antagonistic when admonishing the tabloids for following his wife.  I can understand Tiger trying to protect his family from that.

I thought it ironic when he said’ “It’s up to me to start living a life of integrity” and “Character and decency are what really count.”  Sounds like The First tee slogan, Integrity, Character, Decency.

His reference to his Buddhist upbringing was odd.  Buddhism asks you to lead a moral life, be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions and to develop wisdom and understanding.  Strike three on all counts Tiger.  Its teaching also says that wealth does not guarantee happiness.  He’ll have to go a long way to get back to his Buddhist roots.  How many Buddhists have a billion dollars in the bank and a 155 foot yacht?

Overall, Tiger said what needed to be said for him to try and set this episode behind him.  If he is truthful and sincere about earning back his family’s respect than that is certainly his most important and difficult task.

If he wants to change his on course demeanor like he said I have a suggestions.  Look people in the eye and recognize they are there.   Spend a few minutes in the press tent talking with the press, not at them. Follow the same media rules all the other players do.  Lose the swat team of security that insulates you from your fans and finally, try signing an autograph or two with a smile and maybe you’ll find a smile or two coming back at you.

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Golf Writers Say No To Woods

February 19th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Something revolutionary took place in golf yesterday.  It wasn’t the fact that all four number one seeds have been dispatched from The Accenture Match Play Championship.  It’s not the fact that John Daly shot a three under par and didn’t retire again.  It’s not even the fact that Thongchai Saidee a twelve seed from Thailand advanced to play Jeev Milkha Singh a fifteen seed in the third round of The Match Play.  While on a normal day any of those events would be shocking they pale in comparison to what the Golf Writers Association of America did last night.

The GWAA has announced that they will boycott the orchestrated Tiger Woods Media Event.  The Board of directors has voted unanimously to boycott the event unless Tiger’s people open it up to all accredited media.

This is not an insignificant action.  Tiger and his people have manipulated, bullied and abused the mainstream media for years.  On a good day Woods has viewed the media as a necessary evil and on most days he just viewed them as evil.

The president of the GWAA, Vartan Kupelian said, “I cannot stress how strongly our board felt that this should be open to all media and also for the opportunity to question Woods.”  The GWAA, which has over 950 members, will not send three pool reporters that it had agreed to earlier. The main wire services will still attend and there will be no shortage of television coverage as The Golf Channel, ESPN, ABC, CBS and NBC all plan to carry the event live.

Maybe this is the first sign to Woods and his agent, Mark Steinberg that it isn’t business as usual any longer.  Whatever Woods wanted previously he always received and if he didn’t want something to happen, it never did.  The boycott should be a signal to the Woods camp that the golf writers can’t be manipulated any further.  Woods might have to act like a human being for awhile and maybe treat the writers like they are people also.

Commissioner Tim Finchem has looked terrible during this entire episode.  He obviously talked to someone from Tiger’s camp and gave the go ahead for the TPC Sawgrass venue, but he says he hasn’t talked to Tiger.  He says he does not know what Tiger will say today.  Really Tim?  So Tiger, or his people, call and ask to use your facility for what is the biggest story in golf, in sports really, and you don’t inquire as to the content of his statement.  Sure, we buy that.

Overall Finchem has been a good commissioner and the players and the PGA Tour have done well under his reign, which happens to coincide with Tiger’s emergence as a television ratings machine.  The fact that Finchem can say with a straight face that he has no knowledge of Tiger’s subject matter is farcical.  Even from a distance it’s easy to see that when Tiger passes wind, Finchem gets a face full.  Listen to him on the ESPN video.  He mentions Tiger’s rehab and his rehab schedule.  So he had to have some intimate knowledge of Tiger’s schedule but none of what he plans to say in his statement.  Sorry Tim that just doesn’t sound like an executive that has a handle on his resources.  It sounds like someone trying to protect his meal ticket and maybe save a little face at the same time.

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Tiger, Match Play, LPGA Thailand and PGA in Mexico

February 18th, 2010 1 comment

Chip Shots…


Lost in all the Tiger-Gate Media Event controversy was all the golf played yesterday.  How’s this for irony: because Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson opted out of The Match Play Ross McGowan got in as the 64th seed.  With Woods, the number one seed gone, Steve Stricker became the number one.  McGowan gets to play Stricker and beats the top seed in the tournament in nineteen holes.  McGowan goes from sitting on his couch to cashing a nice check and getting a little publicity.

There were plenty of great matches and a few more surprises:  Paddy loses to Jeev Milka…Matt Kuchar takes out underachieving Anthony Kim…Defending Champ Geoff Ogilvy beats Alexander Noren in a lopsided 7 and 5 win… Proving that the long ball isn’t everything Tim Clark took out Vijay and Mike Weir humbled Alvaro Quiros…Brian Gay a 14 seed beat Kenny Perry a 3 seed…Ross Fisher loses to Thongcha Jaidee (Who?)…and both Molinari brothers are sent packing.

Things get more interesting in the second round today:  Can McGowan keep it up against Ryo Ishikawa?…Ian Poulter vs Adam Scott looks interesting…Martin Kaymer vs Tim Clark, could one of these two win their first PGA tournament?…Rory vs Oliver Wilson, this tournament is deep in Euro talent…Allenby against Donald, two friends trying to knock each other out…Furyk vs Schwartzel, could another number one go down…a very hot Lee Westwood looks to send Nick Watney home…Ernie Els and Retief Goose tee off in a battle of truly experienced and classy golfers…Can Oqilvy defend? He’ll have to beat Camilo if he does.  It will be interesting….The Match Play always is.

On the other side of the world the women of The LPGA finally kicked off their 2010 season at The Honda PTT LPGA Thailand and there are many familiar names at the top of the leader board. Tour stalwart Suzann Pettersen and sophomore MJ Hur share the lead at -6.  All-American girl Stacy Lewis, long bomber Brittany Linicome, Tour cornerstones Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford and Yani Tseng are all two back of the lead.  Tour headliners Paula Creamer and Lorena Ochoa are tied with four others three strokes off the lead.  This is what the LPGA needs at the start: big name players staying in contention.

Let’s not forget about The Mayakoba Classic in Mexico today.  Our favorite comeback story of the year tees it up today, no it’s not John Daly, it’s David Duval.  It will be interesting to see if Double D can keep it going from last week. If Duval does win I’m sure he’ll appreciate it but it will only feed his desire to win a regular full field event or maybe even a major.  Big John is in the field and let’s hope he can make the cut and not meltdown again.  Erik Compton makes his 2010 debut on the PGA Tour after playing some on The European Tour.  Chris DiMarco continues his struggle to regain his game that has been hampered by multiple injuries.  The Big Break is well represented as James Nitties and Matt Every are both in the field.  This is a good opportunity for a player to break through and get his first win.  Some pundits knock these “opposite events” but with all the great golfers out there having a place to play while the elite of the world compete elsewhere gives them a chance to prove themselves, whether it is for the first time or to re-establish their games.

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Tiger Takes A Shot at Accenture

February 18th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Well, it appears that Tiger and his team may have kicked a hornets’ nest.  There seems to be an outcry from many in the press and the players about Tiger’s planned “media event” on Friday.  It’s not too often that you find any mainstream media that criticizes Tiger and it’s even rarer to find a player, unless your name is Jesper Parnevik.  Rex Hoggard says, “this one already has a circus feel.”  He also questions the timing of the event and wonders why this couldn’t have waited until Monday, after the Accenture Match Play Championship.

He finds a breath of youthful fresh air in Rory McIlroy.  McIroy voices what everyone else is thinking,” He’s got to come out at some point,” McIlroy said. “I suppose he’d want to get something back at a sponsor that dropped him.” Way to go Rory!  Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg says the timing wasn’t intended to slight Accenture. Sure, Mark, it just happens to be a lucky coincidence.

Hoggard calls Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour on the carpet for allowing Woods to use the PGA owned TPC Sawgrass for the event, “And what of the Tour’s culpability in this? According to commissioner Tim Finchem the Woods camp never asked for the Tour’s input, yet to hold the event at TPC Sawgrass, a mere 3-wood from Tour headquarters, is to offer at least tacit approval of the timing.”

Dave Shedloski of Golf Digest says everyone at the Match Play is questioning the timing of Tiger and his crew“And there was curiosity about the timing of the media event, coming in the midst of one of the biggest non-major tournaments of the season, a World Golf Championship event, not to mention a tournament sponsored by Accenture, which was among the companies that dropped Woods as a spokesman after his post-Thanksgiving auto accident ignited a tabloid firestorm about his questionable off-course behavior.”

He goes on to quote players, off the record off course, “That was the first thing we all thought of, like he is sticking it to Accenture — and that the PGA Tour is part of it all,” one player said in the locker room, shaking his head. “It’s like Tim (Finchem, the tour commissioner) has lost his head. He wants Tiger back in the worst way, and so he lets this go on. I mean, we all want to see Tiger back, but this doesn’t look good.”

Geoff Ogilvy echoes the sentiments of many golf fans, “The only thing I will say about it is that I would like to see him answer some questions,” Ogilvy said. “If he answers some questions, then that would make it real because he wouldn’t be working off a script. But it’s a start. And he’s got to start somewhere.”

The most entertaining bit of frustration comes from Alex Miceli on The Golf Channel.  He rants about Tiger and Tim Finchem and says the players are fed up with Tiger and his endless need for total control of everything.  He calls him selfish and gutless and claims Finchem is complicit in this slight of Accenture and this embarrassing situation. Take a minute to watch the video.  It’s a good thing Alex wasn’t wearing his bow tie.  The veins in his neck would have popped it right off.  I don’t think Alex will be one of the selected few at Tiger’s event, at least not this time.

Again, McIlroy says what we all are thinking,” “I’m just sick of hearing about it.”

Hoggard’s Story Link

Shedloski’s Story Link

Miceli’s Video Link

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Tiger Woods Uses the Media Again

February 17th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

At least Tiger Woods and his manipulation management team are staying true to form.  In calling the press conference meeting, speech, announcement (whatever you call it) Team Tiger once again exhibits those qualities that feed the Tiger Hating Machine.

For years Tiger has had little use for the media and always had special rules for dealing with them.  Most players spend plenty of time with the media after their round but Woods never does.  When he is in the media tent there are only a few selected reporters that get the privilege of asking a question.  In short, Tiger uses the media when he wants to and Friday will be no different.

I don’t have any great expectations about the content of Tiger’s statement on Friday.  He’ll say what he and his team thinks he needs to say to make his next step easier.  Whether it is coming back to play golf or take a year off to mend his marriage (like that would ever happen), the next step is already planned.  Team Tiger won’t make another mistake like letting Tiger screw up again.  They’ll be sure he doesn’t get caught again.  His downfall has cost them all too much: too much money, too much power and too much downtime from building that all-powerful Tiger image.

That is what it is all about with Team Tiger.  It’s certainly not about helping Tiger.  It’s not about making him the type of person that they packaged and sold to the world.  It’s about enabling a dysfunctional person.  It’s about signing those big dollar contracts.  It’s about not biting the hand that feeds them.

If it was about anything else other than those self serving motives then somewhere along the line somebody would have tried to stop Tiger from living the lifestyle that finally brought him down.  It’s impossible to believe that Team Tiger wasn’t aware of what was going on.

So Tiger will make his statement on Friday and in his mind he may think that will be the end of it. He’ll be convinced by his team that is doing the right thing and that all the media and the public are wrong for wanting anything from him.  And then he’ll be Tiger Woods all over again.

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