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Monday, April 29, 2013

MGA Wins Carey Cup -- First Time on Irish Soil

Carey Cup Contestants. Photo courtesy of the GUI.
The MGA Carey Cup team took a nailbiter from the Golfing Union of Ireland today in the Carey Cup Matches played at the European Club near Dublin.  Jim Liu, Cameron Young, and Max Buckley each won their singles matches while Mike Miller halved his to give the US team a 6.5 to 5.5 victory.

Yesterday's team competitions ended in a dead heat. The morning Foursomes saw Liu and Young team up to defeat Ireland's Alex Gleeson and Nicky Grant 5 and 4. Brian Komline and Joe Saladino halved their match while Buckley and Miller lost theirs 3 and 2 to Geoff Lenahan and Simon Ward.  In the afternoon Fourballs, Buckley and Komine beat Gleeson and Lenahan 4 and 3 while Miller and Joe Saladino halved their match and Liu and Young went down 3 and 2 to Brian Casey and Grant.

At one stage during the singles matches, with leads in four matches, it looked as if the GUI team might take the cup. The MGA team came through under pressure, though, with Walker Cup hopeful Mike Miller sinking a key putt from off the green on the 18th hole for a key half that put the Americans over the top.

MGA Team Captain Jeff Holzschuh, said afterward, “It is a great win. We just happened to get an extra point today, but it could have gone either way. We wanted  both Max and Mike who really had performed quite well yesterday to be the last two in the line up but the whole team played really well."

It was the second consecutive Carey Cup victory for the MGA and their first on Irish soil in the event’s ten match history.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Charlie Robson To Be Recognized by Met Golf Writers

Charles Robson, Met PGA
Charles Robson
Metropolitan PGA Section Executive Director Charles Robson will be honored at the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association’s 62nd National Awards Dinner on June 18, at the Westchester Marriott, Tarrytown, NY. Robson, who joined the Metropolitan PGA Section in 1972 and is currently the longest-tenured Executive Director among the PGA of America’s 41 sections, will receive the MGWA’s Distinguished Service Award.

As Executive Director of the Metropolitan PGA Section, Charlie Robson has overseen a dynamic growth in the scope and membership of the organization, which administers programs for over 700 PGA professionals and a 1,300-member Met PGA Junior Golf Association.

Raised on Long Island, Charlie graduated from Washington & Lee University in 1972. After a brief stint as a golf professional at Plandome Country Club, Robson began his career with the Metropolitan PGA, where he has been the driving force in establishing the Met Section as one of the most prestigious and respected PGA sections in the country.

Perhaps his greatest contributions, however, have come in the area of junior golf.  He established the Met PGA Junior Golf Association and Junior Tour, and in 1988 began the ‘Golf In Schools’ program, which served as a model for many other inner-city programs across the nation. Robson was also an integral part of the group that founded The First Tee of Metropolitan New York, headquartered at Mosholu Golf Course in the Bronx, and continues to serve as Treasurer on their Board of Directors.

The Metropolitan Golf Association presented Robson with its Distinguished Service Award in 2003 and he received the John Reid Lifetime Achievement Award from the Met Golf Course Superintendents Association in 1998.

The MGWA’s National Awards Dinner is the longest running and often the largest golf dinner held annually in the U.S. All of golf’s governing bodies actively support the dinner — USGA, PGA of America, LPGA and PGA TOUR — and up to 700 industry leaders, local golfers and golf groups attend. Proceeds benefit the caddie scholarship programs of Long Island, New Jersey and Westchester/Fairfield, and the MGA Foundation. More than $1.3 million has been raised over the years for these charitable endeavors.

For tickets, visit www.metgolfwriters.org

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Golf Duds for Little Divot Makers

Now there's a line of golf-inspired attire for that really, really junior golfer in your life. Fore!! Axel & Hudson partnered with the PGA of America to launch PGA Authentic Junior, a collection for boys and girls available starting this spring at department stores and premier boutiques nationwide.

PGA Authentic Junior includes a balance of classic and fashion-forward clothes, accessories and headwear. Capturing Fore!! Axel and Hudson’s Southern California roots and the PGA’s pride and passion for the game, the designs feature eye-catching details and luxurious, eco-friendly fabrics. Retailing from $34 to 101, items are available in sizes 2T to 12.

“The inaugural collection draws upon the rich history of golf for inspiration and combines that with the on-trend looks, silhouettes and small touches that make our clothes so distinctive," says Paul Nguyen, Fore!! Axel & Hudson Co-Owner and Creative Director. "It’s been an exciting and natural partnership to collaborate with such an iconic organization. We're hoping PGA Authentic Junior by Fore!! Axel and Hudson will truly change the landscape of children's fashion in the world of golf on and off the course."

Turner Broadcasting’s Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE) – the licensing and merchandising arm for the children’s television network – brokered the deal between the two companies in its role as the youth licensing agent for The PGA of America. Partners since 2009, CNE is charged with creating a line of consumer products that appeal to the sport’s youngest fans and also creates a broader and more accessible entry point to the sport. The licensing deal is one part of a larger, long-standing relationship that exists between Turner Sports and The PGA and will continue through 2019, as the two companies previously extended their broadcasting and interactive media agreements, covering the PGA Championship, PGA Grand Slam of Golf and PGA.com.

Foresome Inc. is parent company of the Fore!! Axel & Hudson, Fore’N’Birdie and PGA Authentic Junior by Fore!! Axel & Hudson brands. It is co-owned by designer and avid golfer Paul Nguyen, along with his business partner, Elisa Hera.

Nguyen has been designing clothing and accessories for more than 14 years, including eight creating sophisticated children’s apparel for the likes of Lucky Brand Jeans, Babystyle and Baby Nay. Inspired by the birth of his two children – Isabella and Hudson – he launched Fore!! Axel & Hudson in 2009 with the goal of combining classic golf looks with hip, modern kid’s style. Axel is the middle name of Tiger Woods’ son Charlie, with whom Paul hopes his son Hudson will one day hit the links.

An instant success with merchandisers and consumers, Fore!! Axel & Hudson won the 2011 Earnshaw’s Magazine Earnie Award for “Best New Company.” In 2012, the company was nominated for the “Best Boys Collection” Earnie Award and red tricycle “Awesome Duds for Little Dudes” honor. People, US Weekly, In Touch and other leading titles have pictured the children of Tom Brady/Gisele B√ľndchen, Sandra Bullock, Rachel Zoe, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani and Ashley Simpson wearing the line.

Premiering in Spring 2013, PGA Authentic Junior by Fore!! Axel & Hudson is a boys and girls collection for the off-course market developed in partnership with the PGA of America. Debuting simultaneously, Fore’N’Birdie is cool, fashion-driven and expressly for girls.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Friday, April 26, 2013

Register NOW for Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship

The deadline is near, so if you want to enter your junior golfer in the PGA of America's Drive, Chip and Putt Championship, you'll need to hurry.  Local qualifying sites include Eisenhower Park GC, St. Andrew’s GC, GlenArbor GC, Bethpage GC,and  Patriot Hills GC. The deadline for registration is April 30!

The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a free, nationwide junior skills competition that will conclude at Augusta National Golf Club in 2014.

Participants in the inaugural contest will advance through local and regional qualifiers conducted throughout the United States. Competitors will be comprised of boys and girls ages 7-15, and they will compete in separate divisions in four age categories. The regional champions in each of the boys and girls divisions from the four age categories will advance to the finals to be held at Augusta National the Sunday before the Masters Tournament, April 6, 2014. The Championship finals will be produced and broadcast by Golf Channel.

For more information about the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship, including official rules, qualifying sites or to register, please visit www.DriveChipandPutt.com.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Marty Vybihal Named Head Pro for Shackamaxon

Marty Vybihal
Shackamaxon Country Club in Scotch Plains, NJ, has named Marty Vybihal head golf professional. Vybihal comes to Shackamaxon with a nearly 20-year professional resume that includes experience at such prestigious private clubs as Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J.,  Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, N.J., and Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J., among others. Most recently, Vybihal served as the director of golf at Morgan Hill Golf Club in Easton, Pa.

Vybihal is a native of Clinton, N.J., and a two-time state high school golf champion (Hunterdon High School in Annandale, N.J.).  He attended the University of Maryland on a full scholarship and as a Terrapin, Vybihal was a four-year varsity letterman and team captain.  Vybihal’s successful professional career is highlighted by his victory at the N.J. section of the  PGA’s US Health Care Championship in 2006.

“Marty’s extensive experience as a golf professional at some of the Garden State’s most prestigious properties will serve him well as he enhances ‘Shack’s’ golf program for members and guests of all ages and abilities,” said Shackamaxon co-owner Christopher Schiavone. “His enthusiasm and knowledge of the game as well as his successful competitive background will be great assets for the club.”

Vybihal resides with his wife and three children in West Caldwell, N.J., and he has served as the Bridgewater High School junior varsity and varsity head basketball coach for nine years.

Shackamaxon was founded in 1916, and offers a spectacular A.W. Tillinghast 18-hole championship golf course that boasts one of the most famous holes in the Metropolitan area:  the ninth hole island green, Tillinghast’s first island green.  The club has hosted a number of prestigious events including the 1922, 1937, 1972 and 2002 New Jersey State Golf Association (NJSGA) Open Championship, the 1924 and 1977 NJSGA Amateur Championship, the 1928 Met Open, the 1955 Cavalcade of Golf and the 2010 Women’s Eastern Golf Association Amateur Championship.

The club is owned by RDC Golf Group, which also owns the renowned Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, NJ, and the private, family-oriented Tuscawilla Country Club in Orlando, FL, and operates Tallgrass Golf Course on Long Island.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Leewood Renovation Earns Higher Course Rating

Leewood Golf Club's recent renovation resulted in a significant upgrade to the course rating, according to the latest figures from the USGA. The Eastchester, NY, club underwent an extensive remodeling in the fall of 2011 and the start of the 2012 season. It included a new irrigation system as well as significant course renovations, ranging from several new ponds and streams to two entirely new greens complexes and many new tee boxes.

I was impressed by the two new green complexes and the other changes that made the tricky little course an even better test of golf. Most of the significant changes took place on the back nine, where the order of play was re-routed and a short par five became a par four.  Several holes were lengthened and the eighteenth got a fabulous makeover. At the same time, the club wisely left the iconic par threes basically untouched.

Leewood Golf Club
Leewood #9
Following the project, the rating team made several visits to the course to review the new course layout and increased yardage in order to provide updated ratings for the 2013 season. Here is a chart showing the updated course ratings along with the previous ones:

Tee Box
Old
New
Yardage
Black
N/A
72.3 / 135
6409
Blue
70.6 / 131
71.2 / 133
6179
White (Men)
69.8 / 129
69.7 / 130
5815
White (Ladies)

74.8 / 138
5815
Red
69.7 / 129
70.7 / 127
5258

When the results were released, Leewood Golf Chairman Gene Chao said,
“Leewood Golf Club has long been known as a member's course with traditional design elements that requires creative shot making. We are very proud to have accomplished a major renovation which balances a response to advances in golf technology and retaining the integrity of a classic Devereux Emmett golf course design. We've amended course routing and added appropriate length, water features, and 2 new green complexes to bring this gem into the modern game. Additionally, we are closely watching movements back to shorter traditional courses with small/difficult greens and narrow, tree lined fairways in major golf events like the US Open (which will be hosted this year at the Merion Golf Club) which underpinned our design approach and renovation fundamentals.” 
Leewood opened in 1922. It was originally laid out by Devereaux Emmet and its  rich history includes some famous early members including New York Yankee slugger Babe Ruth and famed motion picture director D.W. Griffith.  

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Putt Laser Straight

Think you've got good aim with your putter? You might be shocked to see where you're really going to send the ball, as Heath Wassem of Fenway Golf Club shows Anthony Renna from Five Iron Fitness in White Plains in another of the excellent videos in this series.


Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Mental Game and Jim McLean

Jim McLean
Jim McLean
Jim McLean paid a visit to a roomful of old friends this year at the Met PGA Educational Forum, spending about two hours on the stage sharing his insights and many tales from his long career in the game and chatting with WNBC Sports Anchor (and McLean pupil) Bruce Beck. It was a fascinating presentation.

McLean is the director of the fabulously successful golf schools bearing his name across the nation. He's headquartered at Doral in Miami, but his roots run deep into Westchester, where he started his club pro career as an assistant at Westchester Country Club. He later served as head pro at Sunningdale, Quaker Ridge, and Sleepy Hollow. One of his greatest contributions to the game is the long trail of pros who worked for him here and in Florida.

Beck, who took many lessons from McLean at Sleepy Hollow, asked him how he manages to switch from coaching standout PGA Tour pros like Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson to teaching rank beginners and duffers like you and me. McLean said, "That's not a problem because you have to focus on every golfer as an individual anyway. Regardless of their skill level, everyone needs help with specific, different parts of their game." He seldom works with Bradley, for example, on swing mechanics but instead concentrates on his mental approach to the game.

Bruce Beck and Jim McLean. Photo courtesy of Met PGA
McLean also pointed out that there is hope for everyone of us, regardless of how poorly we hit the ball. "There really are solution to every problem in golf," he said. "The biggest obstacle is people who won't follow the plan to solve them. He also commented that so-called "feel" players need to use practice drills, too, because, "You need to get the feel for doing it right."

Coaching the mental game was the topic of much of the discussion. McLean said he's worked with all the sports psychologists at one time or another but believes the golf instructor needs to be a psychologist, too. He told a brief story about when Keegan Bradley first hit the Nationwide Tour: "After a few tournaments, Keegan told me how much better he was than most of the other players he was up against. I asked him how many times he had won so far and the answer was none. Then I asked him how many times he had led a tournament at any point and that answer was also 'none.' When that sunk in, Keegan realized that being the best golfer in the field doesn't mean anything unless you put the numbers on the scorecard to prove it."

McLean suggested that most golfers could improve their putting by learning which arm dominates their swing by making a few one-arm putts to get the feel for it. "If you run into trouble," he said, "try the other arm for a while until you get comfortable." He also observed that it's not a good idea to practice putting--or any one thing--for too long at a single session because it will become tedious and the practice will lose its effectiveness.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Great Spring Stay-and-Play at Crystal Springs

Act now to take advantage of one of the best golf deals you'll get all year, the “Midweek Golf and Stay” special at Crystal Springs Resort, an exciting and diverse mix of seven golf courses just an hour from New York City in New Jersey.

Through May 2, golfers can enjoy 36 holes and comfortably-appointed overnight accommodations at Minerals Resort & Spa. Rates begin at $109 per person (based on double occupancy) and are available Sunday through Thursday. Package pricing includes cart as well as complimentary access to the resort’s indoor / outdoor heated pools, saunas and steam rooms and fitness facilities.

Crystal Springs Cascade
Cascade Course at Crystal Springs
The first 18 holes must be played on the day of arrival after 1 pm on the Cascades course. For the second 18, guests may select from Black Bear, Crystal Springs or Great Gorge courses.

“This package responds to today’s technology and workplace trends that make midweek excursions much more feasible,” says Art Walton, Vice President of Golf Operations at Crystal Springs Resort.

To reserve, call (973)827-5996 x 2 (online booking is not available).

Nestled in the Kittatinny Mountains of northern New Jersey, Crystal Springs is a golf playground for all ages and abilities. Its 117 holes are exceptionally diverse:
  • Ballyowen – Irish links-style layout rated state’s No. 2 public golf course by Golfweek
  • Black Bear – Inviting mix of tumbling terrain and risk / reward options for players of all abilities
  • Cascades – Newest addition stresses playability and features junior tees (nine holes)
  • Crystal Springs – Ranked “Top 50 Toughest Course in America” by Golf Digest
  • Great Gorge – Vintage 70’s golf on the legendary Playboy course (27 holes)
  • Minerals – Family golf at “Top 12 Short Course” in America by Golf Range Magazine (nine holes)
  • Wild Turkey – Spectacular resort course with world-class amenities and vistas
Crystal Springs is also a nationally-recognized leader in golf innovation and growing-the-game initiatives. They include family golf on Cascades and Minerals featuring four-person carts and two holes cut on each green (one eight inches in diameter); a “Fast Track” program that guarantees golfers finish in less than four hours; a pay-per-hole playing option; “Lessons and Links for Ladies” and more.

For more information: www.crystalgolfresort.com.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Golf Practice With A Purpose

Sharon McQuillan Golf
One of my favorite golf teachers, Sharon McQuillan, has a great new program. It's the Practice Club and it's just what it sounds like: regularly scheduled supervised practice.  Gee, what a concept!

Instead of dropping by the range in your spare time (who has that?) and whaling away at a bucket of balls as fast as you can, Sharon invites you to set aside an hour once a week to hit balls under her supervision, working on specific things to sharpen your game. The idea is that you might actually accomplish something like improving your scores instead of ingraining your slice.

It's such a simple idea with so many good things going for it. You make a commitment in advance (although it's not at all costly) so you're much more likely to carry through with your good intentions. You also practice with a purpose, which every good golfer will tell you is key to making it worthwhile. Best of all, you're not on your own--Sharon will be there to make sure you're working on the right facets of your game. These aren't lessons, but there's no question that you'll get good guidance from one of the best teachers around.

The Practice Club meets from 7 to 8 PM Tuesdays at the Westchester Golf Range. Rain dates are Fridays 6 to 7 PM and the meetings run from May 7 to September 26.  Here's the real kicker--membership in the club is only $55 per month, which includes range balls! To sign up, contact Sharon@SharonMcQuillan.com.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Friday, April 19, 2013

Golf Pictures Worth More Than A Thousand Words

Golf instruction is a remarkably visual process. Every instructor encourages you to visualize your shot before you hit it (or try to). Most of them use video to show you what you're doing right and wrong and digital technology makes it possible to put your swing up on the screen next to the best tour pros so you can see how it compares. There are even gizmos you can attach to your club that send a signal to your iPad that in turn creates an avatar replicating your swing on the small screen complete with more stats than you can ever use about your swing speed, launch angle, etc. None of these instruction methods, however, is as creative and imaginative as those in Kinetic Golf: Picture The Game Like Never Before.

Nick Bradley, a well-known golf instructor, consultant, and coach, takes a radical approach to visualizing golf shots. Need to hit a bunker shot without digging your wedge into the sand? Bradley recommends imagining a dinosaur egg buried just under your ball with Mama T-Rex looking over your shoulder to make sure your swing is shallow enough to protect her baby. Trying to hit a delicate pitch shot into a crosswind? Think of what would happen if a parachute would open on your ball when it reaches the apex of its trajectory to get some idea of how the wind will carry it to the target.

These are effective images conveyed in words, but the best part of Bradley's approach is his use of spectacularly altered photos to illustrate the concepts. Kinetic Golf contains 125 fabulously Photo-shopped pictures that not only help you understand his points but guarantee you'll remember them. Even the images explaining the basics of the game like how to get a proper grip on the club or what role your right knee plays during the swing are demonstrated with vivid, memorable images.

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? In golf instruction the way Bradley does it, that's definitely true. As a golf writer and photographer, I see a lot of golf instruction material. I'll be studying Kinetic Golf for a long time.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Selecting the Walker Cup Team

Jim Holtgrieve, photo courtesy of the USGA
Jim Holtgrieve, Captain of the 2013 US Walker Cup team, is intensely optimistic about the team's chances this year at the biennial matches to be held at The National Golf Links in Southampton September 7-8. As I interviewed him during yesterday's MGA Media Day, it was fascinating to watch Walker Cup hopeful Mike Miller as he listened to Holtgrieve's answers.

When I asked Holtgrieve about the caliber of the prospective team members, he replied, "These young men are so good, I couldn't make this team." That's saying something, since Holtgrieve's stellar amateur career includes a winning record as a member of three US Walker Cup teams, captaincy of the US team at the 2011 match, and an individual triumph at the inaugural US Mid-Amateur Championship in 1981. He also represented the US on two victorious World Amateur Team Championship squads, was a semifinalist at the 1980 U.S. Amateur, and runner-up at the 1983 British Amateur, and played in five Masters Tournaments as an amateur – making the cut three times.

"As I watched them play over the last four years, I realized they are simply not afraid," he said. "I know there are nerves, but you don't see it. All you see is the raw talent."

Mike Miller
Mike Miller
Miller, a 21-year-old standout from Knollwood CC (and son of head pro Bob Miller), has shown his nerves of steel while competing around the world. He was named MGA Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and is currently 32nd in the World Amateur rankings.  In remarks he made before Holtgrieve spoke, he made no bones about his desire to make the ten-man team.

"I hope to have a good season this year, but my ultimate goal is to make the Walker Cup team," Miller said. "It's my dream to wear the red, white, and blue, and represent my country."  Miller was one of 16 players invited to an informal Walker Cup practice session at Calusa Pines Golf Club in Naples, FL, in December, where Holtgrieve got a chance to see not only how they played the game but how they interacted with each other on and off the golf course.

"They have to have not just talent," Holtgrieve said, "but respect and honor as well. They are representing their country, so their comportment on and off the course is something that really matters."

Holtgrieve doesn't choose the team, although his opinion will certainly carry great weight with the USGA International Team Selection Committee. There are some forty players under consideration for the ten slots at the moment. The USGA announced earlier this year that at least two of those will go to mid-amateur players (aged 25 and above) and the final two won't be chosen until after the US Amateur Championship to be held at The Country Club of Brookline August 12-18.

"We hope to name much of the team right after the Western Amateur," Holtgrieve said. "One mistake we made in 2011 was not allowing enough time for the team to rest between the end of the selection process and the beginning of the match. They work so hard to make the team that they need time to recuperate before they compete." The US team suffered a narrow loss (14.0 vs. 12.0) at Royal Aberdeen GC in Scotland. This year, the Western Amateur is scheduled to end August 4.

One way Miller hopes to stay centered on the selection committee's radar screen is by a strong performance in the Carey Cup, the biennial match between teams from the MGA and the Golfing Union of Ireland. This year, the MGA will vie for their second consecutive Carey Cup, the last coming in a 7.5 - 4.5 victory at Bethpage Black in 2011, when then-19-year-old Miller was a member of the squad.  The Carey Cup will be contested April 27-29 at the European Club in Wicklow, Ireland.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Improve Your Impact Position

As Anthony Renna of Five Iron Fitness continues his excellent golf video series, Jason Gobleck from Westchester Hills CC in White Plains, NY, talks about using the Impact Bag to get into a better position.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Goes On In Your Head

Bobby Heins, Old Oaks
Bobby Hiens
What’s the difference between the pros’ game and ours? I asked Bobby Heins, head pro at Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, NY, and coach to PGA Tour standout Johnson Wagner among many others. Here’s his well-thought-out response:

“The average player always plays for their best shot. Golf pros build in a miss. They’re trying to hit a good shot, but they know they’re going to miss a lot, so they make sure they miss in the right place. The average amateur doesn’t take that into account.  On the approach shot, you’ve got a thirty foot window. When the pin is in the middle, you’ve got fifteen feet on either side of it, so fire away. But if it’s tucked on the right, maybe you should aim fifteen feet to the left. An amateur’s window may be wider.  Great players know their game and play to it. They may shoot 62 one day and 70 the next, but they make decisions accordingly. I’ve been fortunate to win tournaments when I wasn’t playing my best because I missed in the right place.”

“Real good golfers are realistic about how they’re playing today.  In preparing for competition, try to practice the shots you’re going to need depending on the course. Maybe you know you’ll be hitting a lot of wedges, or you know you’ll need to hit a lot of fades. So work on that in your warm up. Sometimes you can’t hit those shots on a given day, so you want to know that before you go out there and play accordingly.”

“When you’re faced with a tough shot, the first question to ask is if you can even hit it. Even from a good lie, is it a low percentage shot? If it is, where can you set yourself up for a good putt? Play the appropriate shot.”

“Speaking of the appropriate shot, use something other than your ego to choose the right club to hit. You know the guy. He once made a hole in one on a 195-yard hole with a five iron. But the pin was in front, the wind was at his back, and it hadn’t rained for a month so his ball rolled onto the green and into the cup. Now, every time he plays that hole, he has to hit a five iron.”

“Everybody is affected by how they’re playing, but at the higher level, they’re less affected by their last hole whether it was good or bad. The average player may get mad and decide to really smash their tee shot on the next hole, and that just steamrolls to more trouble.”

“Golf pros take more practice swings on wedge shot than any other shot. In the rough, they try to find a place where the lie is similar, where the grain of the grass is the same, so they can feel the resistance. They may take ten practice swings just to get the feel.”

“I try to use visual cues and verbal cues to reinforce what I expect to happen. I may see the putt making a big sweeping break or may tell myself it’s a firm inside line.  On pressure putts, I try to remember when I’ve holed similar putts before. It’s about knowing you can do it despite all the stuff that’s rumbling through your head.”

“What goes on in your head affects your game 100%.”

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Celebrate National Golf Day - Today!

Today, April 16, is National Golf Day, so WE ARE GOLF, a coalition of the game’s leading associations and industry partners, will meet with members of Congress to share stories and new data about golf’s diverse businesses, employees, tax revenue creation, tourism and charitable benefits, and environmental leadership.
 
Organizations participating include: Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA), PGA of America, PGA TOUR and World Golf Foundation. A list of representatives to attend:
 
•   Pete Bevacqua, CEO, PGA of America
•   Peter Broome, Chairman, United States Golf Manufacturers Council
•   Rhett Evans, CEO, GCSAA
•   Michael Hughes, CEO, NGCOA
•   Steve Mona, CEO, World Golf Foundation
•   Joe Ogilvie, current PGA TOUR player
•   Jim Singerling, CEO, CMAA
•   Leading golf course superintendents, small business owners, manufacturers, etc.
 
WE ARE GOLF will again bring a cast of story-tellers to Capitol Hill to discuss what golf has meant to them, and will share the latest statistics about golf’s economic and charitable contributions from updated industry reports.
 
A day-long exhibit in the Rayburn Foyer will feature live lessons throughout the day for members of Congress and staff from Golf Channel’s Michael Breed (Host of “The Golf Fix”) and LPGA Professional Dana Rader; an aboutGolf simulator with a “Closest to the Pin” contest; state-of-the-art swing analysis from GolfTEC; Birdie Ball, the latest at-home training technology; a Republican vs. Democrat “Putting Challenge;” and a golf educational display.
 
New for 2013, WE ARE GOLF will present the first-ever “Lawmaker of the Year” award at 12 noon in the Rayburn Foyer to Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC).
 
To join the social conversation, visit twitter.wearegolf.org and use #iamgolf to tweet why golf is more than a game to you.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Friday, April 12, 2013

EWGA Westchester Boosts American Cancer Society

The EWGA Westchester will take over Salem Golf Club May 5 for for their 2013 Charity Golf Outing supporting the American Cancer Society. The event is open to all players (EWGA and non-EWGA) of all skill levels.  Salem Golf Club is a private, 18-hole championship course with spectacular views overlooking the rolling hills of North Salem. Keep an eye out while you're there, since David Letterman's home isn't far away.

Salem Golf Club
Salem Golf Club, hole 13, photo courtesy of the club
The registration fee includes greens fees, cart, unlimited range balls, and a BBQ lunch from 12:15 - 1:15 pm.  The shotgun Team Scramble tournament begins at 1:30.  Immediately following golf, refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be served, with a one-hour open bar serving cocktails, beer and wine.

Prizes will be awarded for Team Scramble (1st and 2nd Place), plus Longest Drive, Closest to Pin, and On the Green in One.  They will also have participant raffles, a silent auction and select vendors.

Date:  May 5th 11:30 am – 8:00 pm
Price:  EWGA Members $125 / Non-Members $145

To register, visit www.ewgawestchester.com and click on “PLAY – American Cancer Society Charity Golf Event” under “Upcoming Events” on the home page.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Does The 2013 Grand Slam Start Today At The Masters?

Will someone start the all-but-impossible quest for a Grand Slam at Augusta this week? Even if they do, the story won't be as outlandish as the one in Grand Slam, a tale of Weird Golf available FREE for your Kindle or Kindle app from Amazon.com for a limited time only  in celebration of The Master's this week.

The story is my purely tongue-in-cheek look at the most coveted record in the game. My lupine protagonist stalks the fairways at Augusta National, Shinnecock, Carnoustie, and Winged Foot, not to mention TPC Sawgrass, The Olympic Club, and Whistling Straits, leaving behind a trail of bloody victims and sparking the ire of a golf-obsessed newspaper reporter who vows to stop him.

In case you haven't guessed, this is not your usual golf book! Download it today -- this special promotion ends Friday.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pound Balls Or Practice? What You Should Do On The Range

Here's the second in a great series of playing tips from some of the many fine teachers in the Met Section. The videos are produced by a real master of golf fitness, Anthony Renna of Five Iron Fitness in White Plains.

In Episode 2 of Golf Tips from Around The Met, Jason Caron from Siwanoy CC in Bronxville, NY, talks about how you should approach your practice sessions. Filmed at BioSport Technologies, in Greenwich, CT.



Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Drive, Chip, and Putt Your Way To Augusta

Get 'em while they're young. That's the idea behind the creation of the Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship announced yesterday by the Masters Tournament Foundation, United States Golf Association (USGA) and The PGA of America. The free, nationwide junior skills competition will be held throughout the US during the next year and conclude at Augusta National Golf Club in 2014. If you want to enter, though, now is the time. The deadline is April 30, 2013.

Drive Chip & Putt
Participants in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship will advance through local and regional qualifiers conducted around the country. Competitors will be boys and girls ages 7-15 who will compete in separate divisions in four age categories. The regional champions in each of the boys and girls divisions from the four age categories will advance to the finals to be held at Augusta National the Sunday before the Masters Tournament, April 6, 2014. The Championship finals will be produced and broadcast by Golf Channel.

“Generations of players have been inspired by the dream of sinking a winning putt on the 18th green at Augusta National,” said Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament Foundation. “Now an exciting opportunity exists to make that dream a reality. I am confident that our collective efforts with the USGA and The PGA of America will showcase the talents of kids who already play this game and motivate others to give the sport a try.”

Said Glen Nager, President of the USGA: “Among our many responsibilities as a governing body is finding creative ways to make the game more accessible to our nation’s young people. The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is an exciting new opportunity to fulfill this role, and together with our partners at the Masters Tournament Foundation and The PGA of America we look forward to leading its long-term success.”

“The game of golf is built on several fundamental skills, which our 27,000 PGA Professionals around the country teach players of all ages every day,” said Ted Bishop, President of The PGA of America. “The ability to successfully drive, chip and putt a golf ball are some of the basics to the enjoyment of the sport, and we believe this competition will motivate young players to work hard, practice these principle skills and learn to make golf a game of a lifetime.”

Local qualifying events will take place at courses in 19 states and Washington, D.C. In total, local qualifiers will provide more than 17,000 opportunities to compete. An extensive network of PGA Professionals and USGA professional staff and volunteers will conduct these competitions around the country.  Regional qualifying will be conducted at courses in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas (2), Virginia and Washington.

For more information about the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship, including official rules, qualifying sites or to register, please visit www.DriveChipandPutt.com.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Monday, April 8, 2013

Get Your Golf Mind in the Right Place

John Kennedy, Westchester Country Club
John Kennedy
Coaching pros is one thing, but if you want to do something hard, try coaching amateur golfers for years and years the way John Kennedy has. Kennedy is the Director of Golf at Westchester Country Club and winner of numerous national PGA of America honors including the 2010 Horton Smith Award, which recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to PGA education.

I talked to Kennedy about his advice for developing a solid mental game. Here are his sage recommendations:

“The first tee can be tough. When there are people watching, you usually play worse. If you have a consistent process, though, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first tee or the last.”

“For every additional swing thought you have, you add ten to twenty percent physical tension. If you have four mechanical thoughts when you stand up to the ball, you’re going to add 75% more tension.”

“Your mind is filled with past experiences. You want to remember the good ones. If you’re thinking about the last missed putt, that’s obviously not a good place to be.”

“To play successfully, you have to have a process. If you have two or three different ones, it’s hard to repeat. Most people have a practice process, a casual round process, and a competition process. The competition process usually involves an extra fifteen seconds of time and more thinking, which doesn’t work. They get too serious and they perform poorly.”

“The physical precedes the mental. If you’re a thirty handicap, you can think good thoughts but you’re still not going to hit the ball like a ten.”

“If you don’t have time to practice, don’t try to change your swing. If you’re trying to change a motor skill, you need a coach and you have to do a lot of repetitions. You’re better off staying with your own grooved swing and just playing the flight of the ball.”

“People who are grateful for what they have make great progress as opposed to those who are grousing all the time. If you commit yourself to appreciating the game, the company you’re with, and the surroundings, I guarantee your game will improve.”

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, April 6, 2013

March Madness Sparks Putting Advice

Two outstanding golf instructors, Pelham head pro Mike Diffley and Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Tom Patri, have some March Madness thoughts about golf, basketball, and life.

Diffley points out that there's a real co-relation between foul shots and putting when it comes to who wins the most.  In college hoops, Davidson College was best in the nation this season, making 80% from the line and landing a spot in the NCAA Round of 64. The average Division 1 team sank 69%.  The NBA's best is the Oklahoma City Thunder with an 83% record against the average pro team's 75%.

Tom Patri
Tom Patri
How does this relate to golf? Diffley points out that a four-foot putt is pretty equivalent to a foul shot. The PGA Tour average from that distance is 87% and the normal scratch golfer will put 80% of them in the can.  Nobody keeps stats on slugs like you and me, but you can bet us double-digit handicappers aren't doing that well.

Tiger Woods is currently #1 in Strokes Gained Putting and atop the World Rankings again. Kevin Durant of the Thunder is the #1 Foul Shooter in the NBA--and the leading scorer in the league as of this writing. Diffley observes, "We all know the highest scorer does not always mean the best player, but it's pretty close. In golf, the lowest scorer is the best player and putting is the quickest way to lower scoring!  The player who practices correctly and competitively and can enter the zone (their own world) will be successful."

Patri, who runs his own golf academy in Naples, FL, compares missing a four-footer to an un-forced error in tennis. "It simply shouldn't happen!" according to him.  Why do they? "The P-word," he says. "Practice. If you don't put in the time you have no right to expect anything."  He pushes discipline in your practice: "Practice doesn't make perfect...perfect practice does. You need routine, routine, routine."  He adds, "You also need a belief system. All the practice in the world is worth zero unless in your heart and between your legs you don't believe you belong at the top."

Diffley adds some advice for this weekend and next: "The Final Four and the Masters are a sports fans nirvana, but try to get outside and DVR the sports!"

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Friday, April 5, 2013

Artist Pays Tribute to Jack Nicklaus' 18 Major Wins

1972 US Open
Golf and sporting artist Walt Spitzmiller spent eight years painting what he believes is golf’s greatest achievement of the modern era:  Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championship titles.  In a collection of 18 paintings simply entitled Jack’s Majors, Spitzmiller brilliantly captures a moment from each of Nicklaus’ record-setting major victories in an artistic tribute to the legendary champion who competed over six decades and registered 120 professional tournament wins plus the lifetime Grand Slam.

1986 Masters
One third of Nicklaus’ major championship titles came at the Masters and with this year being the 50th anniversary of the “Golden Bear’s” first win of his unmatched run at Augusta National, Spitzmiller has published Jack’s Majors in a commemorative fine art portfolio book.  The hand-bound and luxuriously crafted collector’s volume, which is limited to 100 editions, is numbered and signed by Jack Nicklaus and the artist and includes 18 giclee art prints (18” x 24”) of the collection, along with accompanying text that recounts highlights of each tournament by award-winning golf author and journalist, Don Wade.

1978 British Open
“I’ve been a great admirer of Jack Nicklaus and it has been a labor of love to paint each of his landmark major championship victories,” said Spitzmiller.  “I am delighted to offer the 18 paintings as a tribute to the world’s greatest golfer and his unique and enduring achievements.  I am especially grateful that Jack is so pleased with the art and that he agreed to sign each of the 100 limited edition Portfolios.”

Walt Spitzmiller is one of the world’s foremost sporting artists who specializes in golf. For many years, Walt’s art regularly illustrated stories in Sports Illustrated and GOLF Magazine, and he was the chief contributing artist to Senior Golfer Magazine, as well as a special contributor to Outdoor Life magazine.  Additionally, Walt’s art may be found in the World Golf Hall of Fame, Baseball Hall of Fame, The Smithsonian Institute, The American Museum of Illustration and the Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Five Iron Fitness Presents New Golf Video Series

Here's the first of what promises to be a great series of playing tips from some of the many fine teachers in the Met Section. The videos are produced by a real master of golf fitness, Anthony Renna of Five Iron Fitness in White Plains.

In Episode 1 of Golf Tips from Around The Met, Paul Kenney from Rockrimmon CC in Stamford, CT, joins Renna of Five Iron Fitness to show a few drills to help understand how you should be at address position. Filmed at BioSport Technologies, in Greenwich, CT.



Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Giuliani Wins First Golfslinger.com Tour Event

Andrew Giuliani notched his first Golfslinger.com Tour victory Monday with a three under par 68 on the West course at Fountains Country Club in Lake Worth, Florida. He pocketed $800 from the $4,092 purse.

Former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s son, aged 27, edged Brandon Smith of West Palm Beach by a shot in the one-day event. It marks his seventh in-the-money finish on the tour out of eight events entered this year. He also placed second in the Lake Worth Shootout in January and fourth in the Stuart March Classic.

Giuliani was the 2006 MGA and Westchester Player of the Year and won the Met Open in 2009.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf