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Archive for December, 2012

Jimenez Breaks Leg on Slopes

December 31st, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Miguel Angel Jimenez is known for his trademark ponytail, crazy stretching routine and a zest for life that few can imitate.  Well, that zest may have got the better of the world renown golfer as he suffered a broken leg while skiing on Saturday.

Jimenez became the oldest winner in European Tour history in November when he won in Hong Kong at 48 years old.  He’ll celebrate his 49th birthday on Saturday but with his leg in a cast and he’ll be sidelined for 3-5 months.

“When I took up skiing I knew the risks that I was taking, but I love it so much I could not stop,” he told the European Tour website.

“I was going down a hill and lost control briefly and when I fell it was very sore. I knew immediately I had broken something.

“The medical staff at Sierra Nevada took me for an x-ray straight away and I am very thankful to them, as well as all of the staff at the hospital, for their quick and professional response.”

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Saturday Swing Tip: Michael Breed On Balance

December 29th, 2012 No comments

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Rory & Caroline at Christmas

December 28th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

It looks like Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki had a fun Christmas.  I mean come on…how could the two of them do anything that isn’t fun.  Nice tee shirts!

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Jack Nicklaus Borrows Signature Move

December 27th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The golf swing, in one form or another, has been around for centuries.  And it’s easy to believe that theories on the “correct” swing popped up about the same time.  I am sure that as the old Scots, Dutch or Romans (all given credit for starting the game) were taking whacks at their “ball” one of their buddies was standing by suggesting or critiquing their swing.

Sure, the swing has evolved over the years and with all the newfangled technology and the appearance of swing coaches the swing has been dissected in immeasurable ways.  But for all of their theories about the swing, in essence we all swing just about the same as Old Tom Morris or some old Dutchman or maybe even like an old Roman playing the game a thousand years ago.

We all copied our swings from someone; even the greatest player in the game took parts of his swing from other golfers.

In the January issue of Golf Digest Jack Nicklaus goes back to the future in a new series for the magazine.  “Some 35 years ago, when I was in my playing prime, I collaborated with the editors of Golf Digest on a series called “Jack Nicklaus’ Lesson Tee.”  I’ve been told those pastel-colored pages influenced a generation of golfers, which is very flattering.  Now the editors have asked me to bring the series up to date by re-examining the content, written with Ken Bowden and using the original art, created by Jim McQueen.  Much of it is still valid, but as the game has changed with new equipment, modern courses and stronger players, some of my ideas have changed.”

Any golf aficionado will recognize the illustrations and I was lucky enough to come across an old copy of a 15th anniversary edition of “Jack Nicklaus’ Lesson Tee” years ago to add to my collection.  The artwork is great and Jack’s tips and instruction are fantastic.  Nicklaus influenced millions of amateurs certainly, but also many professionals followed Nicklaus’ thoughts like the gospel.

One of Jack’s signature moves was the slight head tilt just before he started his takeaway.  Greg Norman copied it as did I and millions of others.  And it turns out that Jack didn’t originate that move, he in fact borrowed it from Sam Snead.

In his original “Lesson Tee” he said, “I turn my head slightly to the right just before I start back.  Why? (1) It’s a positive preparatory move; (2) it enables me to make a full, free shoulder turn; (3) it braces me against swaying to the left on the downswing and getting my upper body ahead of the ball.  Many good golfers make a similar turning of the head…Sam Snead is a notable example.”

In Jack’s updated comments he comes clean,” When I was 16, I played an exhibition with Sam.  That’s where I got that move.  And I did it the rest of my career.”

There you have it, long before Jack was the greatest ever he took a move from one of the best gofers of the day.  That move that all of us thought was a signature Nicklaus move was borrowed from Snead and Sam probably got it from someone else.

As Jack proved, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of imitation when it comes to the swing.  It worked pretty well for Jack…and for the millions of us that incorporated that move into our swings…well, let’s just say we think it works.  And that’s all that’s important.

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Steve Stricker to Play Less on PGA Tour

December 26th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

PGA Tour players are referred to as independent contractors.  That is, they work only for themselves and set their own schedule.  One of the most “independent” of the independent contractors is the unassuming Steve Stricker.

He may not look like it but Stricker is a bit of a rebel on the PGA Tour.  He is one of the very few professional golfers that doesn’t flee to the warmth and sunshine in the south during the winter months.  Stricker still makes his home near Madison, Wisconsin and let’s just say that his playing options are severely limited once the winter hits.  Stricker spends more time hunting than golfing over the winter as he chooses to enjoy his family and his home rather than concentrate on refining his game over the off season.  It’s a testament to his game that he can still compete with golfers that practice 365 day a year.

But now Stricker has announced that he’ll be playing less on the PGA Tour in 2013, significantly less. He is looking to cut back his playing schedule from 19 tournaments last season to about 10 events this year.  “That’s the plan,”Stricker said. “I’m going to play a lot less.”  Stricker says he rather be home with his family and spend more time working with his charitable foundation.  “I’m not quitting,” Stricker said from his home near Madison, Wis. “I want to spend more time here. I still enjoy playing, but I don’t enjoy the travel.”

The 45 year old Stricker is a two time Comeback Player of the Year as he turned his career around and seemed to hit his prime as he hit 40.  He has 12 PGA Tour wins and earned over $35 million dollars.  But in order to play less than the required 13 PGA events and still be a member he’ll need to use one of his top 25 or top 50 money list exemptions.  Stricker says he has no problem with that at all, “Everybody’s excited,” Stricker said of his family, wife Nicki and daughters Bobbi and Isabella.

“I will sure be rested and ready to play when I do play,” he said. “I’m excited about that.”

Stricker will certainly have a great impact on the lives of many as he works with his foundation and his family won’t be missing him as in years past.  But he’ll be missed.  Watching a quality guy like Stricker compete and seeing him break down as he always did when he won was one of the joys of watching the PGA Tour.

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Merry Christmas from Links Life Golf

December 24th, 2012 No comments

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Saturday Swing Tip: Annika’s Low Shot

December 22nd, 2012 No comments

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The Best Year No One Saw

December 21st, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

It was no surprise that Rory McIlroy was voted best male player of the year by the Golf Writers Association of America.  The surprise was that he wasn’t a unanimous choice.   Some writers must place way too much weight on the FedEx Cup as three of them choose Brandt Snedeker over McIlroy.  Even more surprising was the single ballot cast for Tiger Woods.  Maybe someone wants an invite to TW’s new digs.

Stacy Lewis was voted the best female and Roger Chapman walked off with the title for the seniors.  The common denominator for all three award winners is that they all won majors during the year, Chapman actually won two.   All were deserving winners.

But on the European Tour there was another player that had a fantastic season and practically no one recognized it.  While Branden Grace may not be the player of the year he certainly had the best season that nobody knew about.  Except for golf addicts or golf media, Grace is an unknown but he deserves better.

The 24 year old South African won five worldwide events, four of them on the European Tour.  The Qualifying School graduate got off to a rousing start with wins in two of the first three tournaments.   He pocketed over $3.5 million dollars and vaulted up the Official World Golf Rankings to 34.

Grace continues the trend of world class golfers hailing from South Africa.  With South Africans winning majors by the bunch Grace could be on the same path as Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and the dean of South Africans, Ernie Els.

Grace will get some exposure in the states in 2013 as he plays some WGC events and the majors.  True, his five wins don’t carry the same weight as Rory’s but this young man seems to have found some serious game.  Whether or not he can keep it up in 2013 remains to be seen but Gary Player and Els think he has what it takes.  And that’s about as good a recommendation as one man can get.

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Gary Player Goes “Old School”

December 19th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Gary Player isn’t afraid to let loose with his opinions.  We’ve heard the Hall of Famer and career grand slam winner vent about everything from Tiger Woods to course length to his obsession with diet and exercise.  And it’s always entertaining.

In my opinion, Player is an “Old School Progressive” as he values the traditions of the “old” game but certainly enjoys the benefits of the modern game.

The Black Knight teed it up with PGA youngster Billy Horschell for Forbes Magazine at the Slammer & Squire Course at the World Golf Village.

Player is very attached to the World Golf Hall of Fame which is in the World golf Village and Horschel loves the history of the game, “I’m a big fan of the history of the game of golf and seeing the way it has been played by different generations.”  And Gary Player is well, Gary Player.

In an effort to recreate the game gone by they played three different sets of clubs and dressed in different clothes to signify each different period in golf.

First they used a set of hickory shafted clubs to re-create the 1920’s feel, a la Bobby Jones.  Then they moved into the 60’s with a replica set of steel shafted Pings that honored Player in his prime.

Finally they used a current set of Callaway clubs, Player’s brand of course, to show the difference between the eras.

As much a traditionalist as Player is he would never want to give up his graphite shafted, big headed driver. “For me to stand here and to be able to drive the ball within 25 yards of this young man, when I’m getting close to 80, is such an enjoyment,” he says. “I wouldn’t play golf if I had to play with hickory sticks.”

And Player says any comparison across generations is futile, “It’s impossible to make comparisons across eras. You can’t do it. It’s not even on the table,” he continues. “If you want to choose Tiger Woods as the best ever, let Ben Hogan come here, let Nicklaus come here, with the same equipment, the same ball, the same beautiful course conditions. Let them have a jet at their disposal, have a $1 million first prize. All those things make you play better. Ben Hogan got in a car and drove a couple days to get to a tournament. I went by Greyhound bus to some.”

As usual, Player is right.  Different eras with different equipment make it difficult to compare golfers but one thing is for sure: regardless of the era, Gary Player never fails to entertain.

Click here for The Forbes Magazine article.

 

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Rocco Mediate Turns 50 and Talks to Golf Digest

December 18th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Golf Digest gave Rocco Mediate a little birthday present in their January issue.  Guy Yocum focuses on Roc in “Rocco at 50” as he celebrated his fiftieth and a possible move to the Champions Tour.  Rocco got more mileage out of taking Tiger to a playoff in the 2008 U.S. Open than anyone could imagine.

Rocco covers plenty of ground: from Q-School to Arnie to the young bucks to making bucks.  It’s classic Rocco, straight from the hip.

Here’s a sample of Rocco the negotiator as he works a “no compensation” deal with Ely Callaway.

In 1996, I decided I wanted to play Callaway clubs. I made an appointment to see Ely Callaway and showed up by myself — no agent. I told him I loved his clubs, and that I wanted to play them.

“Fine,” he said. “What do you want in the way of compensation?”

“Nothing. Just golf clubs.”

“No money?” he said. “Everybody asks me for money.”

“I don’t want anything except free clubs,” I said. “The company I’m with is dumping me, and I like your stuff better anyway, so that’s it. No money, just free clubs.”

Ely was skeptical that’s all I wanted. He said, “You do realize that if I pay you, you aren’t going to sell that many golf clubs for me, right?”

“I just . . . want . . . golf clubs,” I said.

He looked at me for a long time and said, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to turn you down.” I thanked Ely for his time and walked out the door. When I got a little ways down the hall, one of his guys grabbed me and pulled me back into Ely’s office. Ely was still behind his desk.

“Rocco, I’m going to pay you $100,000 to play my clubs next year,” he said. He laughed and shook his head. “I want to see what a guy like you can do.”

After I thanked him and we shook hands, I told him,

“Do me a favor. Next year, when a new hot-shot young gun comes in and asks you for a million-dollar contract, ask him to write a three-page essay on why Callaway should pay him one dollar for his services.

I doubt Ely took my advice. But my point was — and is — there’s little correlation in my mind between a player using a company’s clubs, and the company selling enough clubs to justify the big contracts.

Click here for Yocum’s article.

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