Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Broom golf sweeping the nation

I don't know where my head's been the last few months, but apparently, there's a new version of golf coming on strong.

I'm not sure how it's played, or what the objective is, but I am sure of one thing: those brooms are awesome! I've looked on eBay for a nice matched set of golf brooms--flighted, frequency matched, the whole deal--but so far all I've found is a custom broom weaving company in Slovenia. I talked with the proprietress, and after a few minutes on the phone, I knew she could hook me up with the sweetest set of brooms. This lady knows her stuff. I faxed her my Ping color code measurements and she said that after three more fittings, she'd send me my new sticks. Her brooms are used all over the world, but her reputation was only solidified after Rudy Takanaga (pictured below)

won the 154th Annual Sweepers Federation Championship. Rudy, you are a true champion! So, I'll be donating my golf clubs to Orange County Flightless Bird Association, and begin my quest for mastery of broom golf. See you on the pitch.

[Images courtesy of:;;;;]

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"How to break 80" is not as simple as it looks

In a previous post I brought to light the theories of Dr. Lucius Riccio on how to break 80. To recap, the theory is: the more greens hit in regulation, the lower your score. Through his Pelzesque statistical analysis of all golfers, he determined that the minimum greens hit required to break 80 is 8. Here is Riccio's greens-hit-to-score chart:

Riccio also admits to the importance of putting. Like GIRs, there are a maximum number of allowable putts to make if 80 is to be broken, thusly:

Lastly, Riccio puts the two charts together to show the maximum number of putts allowable to break 80 if you hit over or under the required number of greens:

So, if you can hit 13 greens, you aren't required to putt any better than your average squirrel. However, if you hit only 4 greens, you'll have to putt better than the best PGA pro.

All these numbers would lead one to believe that approach shots are all important to breaking 80, which is true--if you can't hit the green from 160 yards and closer, you're going to have a long day. But what the numbers are actually saying is that playing very conservatively is what matters. For instance, on a 400 yard hole, what good is a 300 yard drive if it's in the trees without a look at the green? According to Riccio's analysis, you'd be better served to hit a 240 3-wood into the middle of the fairway and take your shot from there. Each hole will require a different conservative plan, which might go as far to play the long par-4s--blasphemy!--as bogey holes, and leave your 8 GIRs to easier holes. This all goes back to Dave Pelz's "Short Game Bible" conclusions, which is that the best scoring players are the best wedgers--at the professional level. What Pelz doesn't consider is that at the amateur level, say, 15 handicap and below, it can't be assumed a player's full-swing shots are going to have the standard 8% accuracy variation. With me and the guys I play with, our tee shots hit the intended target about 50% of the time, which is a serious fly in the Pelz ointment.

Riccio and Pelz are both correct, but what they don't say is just as important for good golf.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A prayer before swinging

From what I've heard, God is huge. He's, like, the biggest thing ever.

Sports, on the other hand, are relatively small. If my team made it to the championship and I had a sick family member at home who needed me, my team would just have to play without me. Which is why I can't understand when athletes pray before participating in their sports events. At the recent U.S. Open (best ever, by the way) the NBC golfcasters noted that before a tee shot, Aaron Baddeley was seen with his eyes closed. I thought he was visualizing a shot, but the commentators said he was praying. What could he have been saying to God? Make me win? Let me play with grace? To not be injured? World peace?

Or do these praying athletes know something that non-prayers don't? Does God answer sports-related queries? With what God has on his to-do list--helping me with my Lotto picks, preventing contrails, keeping the Blimp aloft--I certainly hope he doesn't.

On the other hand, if He is answering, then I'd like to make a request: Would You allow me play as good as I think I am?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Golf Magazine don't do sexy too well

Athletes can be sexy. But not necessarily. Case in point: Amanda Beard, swimmer--


John Daly,

not sexy.

Pro golfers, male and female, have great talent first, and media marketability second. In fact, it's the odd handsome dude or dudette that gets all the attention, hence the media oversaturation of Gulbis.

Ms. Gulbis obviously hopes she can up her stock by showing a little skin. Aesthetic value of the photo aside (just out of the frame, Siegfried is screaming that her rental time is up and that, "I need my stage back to train zee tigers!") she takes her image seriously.

So why do the photos that Golf Magazine included in their June 13 issue "Sexiest Women Golfers" spread look like they were taken by the golfers' spouse/boyfriend/sister/eldest child/goth gal-pal?

None of these women are unattractive, and I'm sure with a professional make-up artist and glamor photog, they could all look perfectly presentable. But really--these are the best the magazine could do?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Golf transcendence

The only word that comes to mind when viewing this pic is "immaculate." Is golf a game or a religion?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My favorite golf score: 8!

Good golf is boring. For instance, the story of a birdie usually goes like this:
"Hit a drive down the right. Wedged it over a bunker to ten feet. Played the putt a cup right, dropped it dying in the hole."

Neat, tidy, and not much of a yarn.

An 8, however, has so much more to tell us. And it doesn't matter on what hole the score was made--par 3, 4, 5--each one will offer up an interesting tale. For instance, my most recent 8, on a par 5, went like this:

Popped my driver just enough to to hit the itty-bitty tip of an overhanging branch just off the tee. Deflected my ball behind and to the right over the twenty-foot high fence guarding the adjacent green. Found my ball near a green-side bunker. Had to hit a low punch which should run at least 100 yards, but instead punched dead-on into the trunk of a pine tree. Back at my feet. Hit the punch again, rolls 75 yards. Slightly hot under the collar, I find my ball on a steep incline, and for some stupid reason, still use my punching 3 iron because now I'm going to teach the ball a lesson. Pop it up another 75 yards. As I walk to the ball, all the while slamming my 3 iron into the soft earth, I picture the ways in which I will crush, eviscerate, dice, obliterate, and nuclearly incinerate my small, defenseless, little white friend. Wanting now only to punish the ball, I take out a 5 wood and, with a very angry swing, pop it up again. 75 yards later, I take out my 7 wood, and despite my anger, hit it just short of the green. Not wanting to cast an angry pall over my playing partners, who have respected my 50 foot bubble of horrible-golf privacy (no one, not even myself, finds it comfortable to play with angry Homer) I joke about how "bizarro" that was. A chip and putt later, all my anger goes poof! Onto the next hole.

See, wasn't that a lot more fun than saying, "Drive, lay-up, pitch, putt, birdie"? Plus, there's something vaguely boring about scratch golfers, as if they've decided to let their clubs do the talking for them, and the only interesting comment they can offer over the 5 1/2 hours of a round are something like, "That's a nice little fade you have there." Another benefit of the 8 was learning that a horrible score doesn't have to ruin the whole round--regrouping is possible!

So if anyone has a great story to tell surrounding a 8 (and I'd really like to hear from someone who earned that on a par 3) please, share!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

e21, anyone?

I found a golf club/shaft company that claims it will--yawn--revolutionize the game. Apparently they have created a "spaced-aged" alloy with qualities like, "25% lighter, 50% stronger than steel..." I knew there was more at work here than just a bunch of metallurgists with too much time on their hands. I checked out the company profile on their website. They have couple of videos of company principals being confident and forward looking as they describe the power of their discovery. But it wasn't until I watched the chief scientist explain the development of scandium, the revolutionary metal in their heads and shafts, that I realized that my suspicions had been justified all along: she was RUSSIAN. This metal was developed for use in MiGs, and SU aircraft. I've seen a MiG, and I don't think it has my best golf interests in mind.

It eased my fears somewhat to learn that a lot of club fitters here in the U.S. offer e21 stuff in their fitting programs. But it still amazes me to know that there are still people out there, even Russians, who are willing to make the claim that golf can be revolutionized. I get that a new putter design can turn a few heads, and not since the introduction of titanium has golf undergone a true revolution. But an alloy? Anyone remember Liquid Metal? Me neither.

But, I have made the public commitment to better my game and if e21 can help me do that (and I'm sure these shafts are ungodly expensive) then they might just play a part in it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nicklaus thinks Ryder Cup should be worldwide

Finally! Jack Nicklaus has made the argument that the Ryder Cup should be expanded beyond its U.S. vs. Europe scheme. This is a completely fair and long overdue remedy.

The U.S. dominated the matches when they were played against an opposing team comprised of only U.K. players. When the U.K. team was expanded in 1979 to include all of Europe, it was just a few years before the Euros started dominating us.

Ever since that European expansion, the U.S. has struggled, winning only 6 of the 14 Cups (and if you consider the first and second Euro teams as "expansion" teams, then our record is even worse.)

Clearly the balance, and talent, has tipped in the Europeans' favor, and so, as Jack says:

"We keep playing the United States against the rest of the world," said Nicklaus, the captain of the U.S. team in the Presidents Cup, which takes on an international team in September. "Maybe we ought to play East versus West."

"We ought to divide this up a little differently, maybe the Americas (North and South) as a team because it's going to continue to go that way as the game grows internationally," he said. "That's not to say we're not going to have good golfers in the United States, but we're going to have good golfers everywhere else in the world and that's great for the game. I think you're going to continue to see that trend in the game."
(Quote courtesy of

It has always confused me that we consider the Ryder Cup the definitive professional match-play event, when many of the world's best players--Els, Sighn, Appleby, and Choi, to name but a few--are excluded.

The other (and unintended) benefit of expanding the Ryder Cup would be it would obviate the need for the President's Cup, which is, let's face it, about as prestigious as two rats fucking in the sewer.

So come on PGA Tour: do something to make the Ryder Cup competitive again.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tell me a little about yourself

As I mentioned earlier, I am going to embark upon a journey of personal exploration, by way of golf instruction. During my due diligence into finding an instructor, I found a guy in Texas who prepares his students by telling them to be patient--rebuilding a swing should take around two years. He also doesn't believe a student should see his instructor every week. The student should only take a lesson after he's mastered the previous lesson's instruction, which usually works out to be about a month. So, that means twenty to twenty-five lessons are required to get your game into the shape it deserves to be. Obviously I believe myself to be better than average, and therefore it isn't going to take two years for me to learn a swing. My attitude isn't born of naivety but by super-duper naivety on a level not often seen on planter earth.

However, I am not here to talk about myself, but about you--or rather, for you to talk to yourself. I'm interested to hear any stories you might have about golf lessons, or guitar lessons, yoga instruction, or any kind of learning you've undertaken and how you found that experience to be. For instance: did you have a horrible teacher that made you look for a better teacher? Were you permanently damaged by your first golf instructor, so much so that you never want lessons ever again? I'd love to hear any stories you might have and will post them on der blog.

This week I am going to contact my first prospective instructor and see how it goes. With a little luck, he (or she) will set me on my way to truly understanding the importance of supination.