Friday, April 29, 2011

New Nike 20XI Ball Available Today!

For those of you Nike Golf devotees, the new Nike 20XI ball is available today in stores throughout North America.  Nike Golf is extremely excited about the new ball and has been out and about touting its revolutionary design.  Rock Ishii, Nike's Director of Golf Ball Research and Development (and yes, you can add Ishii to the long list of people who have an immensely cooler job than I do) said about the 20XI, "I've never been as excited about a new golf ball innovation than I am now."  Some high praise indeed!  Rock's excitement centers on the construction of the ball, specifically the lightweight resin core.  You can read more from Rock here.  The pros have had the balls in their bags for a few months and the reviews have been positive, and starting today you have a chance to get it in your bag and try it out this weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Top 5 Best Golf Nicknames

Golf has produced many truly great characters with some fantastic nicknames.  For my money, here are the top 5 nicknames from the world of golf:

5) "The Mechanic" - Miguel Angel Jimenez:  Doesn't this picture say it all?  I think that Jimenez is one of the coolest golfers on the planet.  Wait, let me correct that.  He is one of the coolest people on the planet.  He reminds me alot of the "Most Interesting Man In The World" in the Dos Equis commercials.  The guy just exudes cool and confidence when he is out on the course, and he also knows how to party.  The Mechanic nickname comes from his love of repairing high end fast cars, but could just as easily be applied to the way he methodically and efficiently makes his way around the golf course.  He is a steady player who seems to just get things done.  In short, he is the man, and he deserves this sweet nickname.

4) "Lumpy" - Tim Heron:  He is one of the Tour's good guys and one of the most popular players around.  He is a guy who embraces the nickname, doesn't take himself too seriously, enjoys the game, and does a ton of good work off the golf course.  Lumpy got the name when he was 15 years old and working at a golf course. He admits that since then he has "grown" into the name, but for him, it just sorta fits and he takes it all in stride.    Lumpy has been playing great golf of late and his legion of followers is sure hoping for a couple wins this year!  I surely count myself as one of his fans!

3) "The Golden Bear" - Jack Nicklaus:  The Golden Bear is probably the most iconic nickname in the pantheon of golf nicknames, and it fittingly refers to the greatest golfer of all time.  The name was given to Nicklaus by a sportswriter named Don Lawrence.  The origin is from a description of Nicklaus as being "large, strong and blond."  As an added bonus, his high school mascot was also a Golden Bear.  Nicklaus does sort of remind you of a Golden Bear, so the moniker works well from that perspective.  Nicklaus' nickname has also morphed into quite a brand, with all kinds of golf apparel (and even golf courses) sporting that famous handle.

2) "The Walrus" Craig Stadler:  It doesn't take much to figure out why Craig Stadler is affectionately known as "The Walrus."  I have always had a theory that when a sports figure is associated with a particular team for a long time, some of them begin to look like that team's mascot.  For instance, John Chaney, the former long time coach of the Temple Owls, actually looks like an owl.  Coach K also bears a striking resemblance to the Duke Bluedevil.  Along those same lines, what makes Stadler's nickname so appropriate is, well, he looks like a walrus.  The resemblance is really uncanny.  Walrus was tagged with the nickname because of his walrus-like mustache and his portly figure.  But the handle has stuck, and Stadler has embraced it with all his girth.  Stadler is a wildly popular and wonderfully successful pro who, like Lumpy, has a loyal band of devoted followers.  The Walrus deserves them all!

1) "The Shark" Greg Norman:  Just like you don't want to be wandering out in the open sea when there are real Great Whites patrolling the area, you did not want to be a Tour player trying to win a tournament when the Shark was in contention in his prime.  "The Shark" is one of the most intimidating nicknames around, and Greg Norman wore the name quite well.  He was an intimidating presence both on and off the course and dominated the game for a long period of time.  I mean, we are all afraid of sharks, right?  On the list of animals I would not want to fight, a shark is right up near the top.  Nowadays, Norman is best known for his myriad off the course enterprises.  The Shark has taken the same killer instinct he had on the course and transferred it to the business world.  With everything from a great apparel line to a highly successful winery bearing The Shark's label, Norman's business reach knows no bounds.  I wonder if, when he walks into business meetings, he has his assistant play the theme from Jaws?  I really hope he does.  If that happens, no way that Norman doesn't walk out of that room with the best deal!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Tip of the Week: Hitting the Ball Above Your Feet

This is a shot that has bedeviled me for the last couple of rounds, so I wanted to pass along the things to keep in mind when you find yourself in this situation.  First, choke down on your club to shorten it up since the point of contact will be higher than normal.  Second, aim right of the target as the ball will want to leak to the left.  Third, stand up tall as opposed to your normal knee flex.  Finally, the slope will make it feel like your swing plane is very flat and that you are swinging around your body.  That is ok -- don't fight it, just go with it!  Now, hopefully I can remember this when I am out there this weekend!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cool Golf Giveaway From Cobra Golf

I like to keep all of you informed on some of the cool golf giveaways that clubmakers and other golf retailers have going on, and here is a pretty cool one from Cobra Golf:  "The Stick It and Rip It Sweepstakes."  Cobra is giving you a chance to caddie in a practice round for one of my favorites, Ian Poulter, in the Hong Kong Open.  Other cool prizes include custom fitted Cobra clubs, an autographed Cobra Tour Staff bag or a visor signed by Poults.   Here is the link with all of the details on the prizes and how to get into the sweepstakes.  All you have to do to enter is go to a Cobra retailer to demo the S3 or S3 Max driver, get your demo validated, and then register online after your demo.  To sum up, you get to test out a cool new driver and get a chance to carry Poults' sticks for him in Hong Kong.  A no brainer!  Good luck!  If you go to test out the driver, let me know how it goes for you in the comments section!  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Giant R11 Driver Installed On Right Field Foul Pole At Petco Park

I couldn't resist posting this little tidbit because it is the intersection of two of my favorite things in the world, golf and the Phillies.  As part of its R11 media blitz, TaylorMade has erected a giant R11 driver in right field at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.  The shaft and grip of the club run up the right field foul pole and the head of the club is displayed on the right field wall.  Its pretty cool.  Here is a link to a time lapse video showing its construction.  The giant club will be unveiled tonight as the Padres host my beloved, first place Philadelphia Phillies.  The Phils are an organization filled with avid golfers, so I am sure that they will get a kick out of seeing this when they arrive at the ballpark tonight!

Still Searching For An Ace...But I Want To Hear About Yours!

A hole in one is the Holy Grail for the average golfer.  Something to cherish, think about all the time and hold over the heads of your friends who do not have one.  You can sleep well at night knowing that in that one moment, you were perfect, and there is no other golfer on the planet who could have hit that shot better than you.

I am still waiting for an Ace.  I am dying for one.  I want it so badly its hard to even talk about!  I played in a group last weekend where everyone had one but me.  I am a good player -- an 8 handicap -- but I have always been a poor player on par 3s for whatever reason.  But I can also honestly say that on the tee of every single par 3, I think to myself, "Man, it would be really cool to make this."

I am sure that all of us in the "No Ace" club have friends that have them, and you know it kills you a little bit.  You look at your buddy's game, see that he or she is not as good a player as you are, and you think why does that person have one and I don't?  But no matter how badly you beat them in a round, they have the "Ace" to hold over you and you have no response!

When I was younger, I remember playing at a course with my mom and we got paired with a man and his wife, who were in their 50s.  On one of the par 3s, he told us that his wife had been playing for less than a year, and she already had a hole in one.  He had been playing for thirty years without one -- the poor guy looked so defeated!

I love hearing hole in one stories, if only because it makes me look forward to the day when I can join that elite club and party like a rock star in the bar afterward.  I mean, it will happen, right?  Please?  Just once before I move on to the big fairway in the sky?

Post your hole in one stories in the comments below!  You know that you love to talk about it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wedges Have Bounce? Bounce Explained: How Understanding Wedge Bounces Will Help Your Game

Winnie the Pooh's bouncy buddy, Tigger (courtesy of A.A. Milne and the Walt Disney Company)
When I think of "bounce" I hearken back to the days of my youth where I would listen to stories about how Tigger would bounce endlessly through the Hunderd Acre Wood with his buddies Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore.  But as a golf nut, bounce has a whole new meaning.  But I can honestly say that until a year ago, I didn't even know that wedges had a "bounce" component to them.  When I bought a new Cleveland 60 degree at the beginning of last season, the guy in the golf store asked me what bounce I wanted and I looked at him like he had three heads.  Was he asking my advice on those dryer sheets of the same name?  No, it couldn't be.  Talk about exposed!  But now I know that understanding bounce can have a positive impact on your game, so it is worth being familiar with the concept, especially if you will be purchasing wedges soon.  I have been asked by a few readers to tackle the bounce issue and try to explain it in a way that makes sense.  So let me put on my bounceoligist cap and see what I can do.

Bounce Defined

Rather than getting bogged down in the technical details, let me try to explain in normal language what bounce is and why it matters.  In layman's terms, bounce is the angle that is formed between the ground and a line that is drawn from the point on the sole of the club that touches the ground and the club's leading edge.  It is measured in degrees and therefore will be a relatively low number.  The picture below, from PGAProfessional.com's golf dictionary should give you the right visual:


What Bounce Means

The bounce on a club is what allows you to control how likely the leading edge of the club is to dig into the turf when you hit your shot.  If the bounce angle is low on the club (say an 8 degree bounce on a 56 degree wedge) then the leading edge will tend to dig more into the ground.  This is very helpful when you are playing in dry conditions, find yourself in a tight lie or end up stuck in wet, compacted sand.  Remember it this way:  lower bounce = lower leading edge = more digging into the ground.  On the flip side, a high bounce angle (say 14 degree bounce on a 56 degree wedge) means that the leading edge is higher off the ground so the club will be less likely to dig into the turf as deeply at impact than a lower bounce club.  Having more bounce on the club is beneficial when you are playing on very soft, wet grass or fluffy sand.  When you think about it, this relationship makes sense since when you are playing in soft conditions, it will be easier for the club to dig into the ground naturally, so you need less help from the design of the club.  Here is you cheat sheet: higher bounce = higher leading edge = less digging into the ground.  As a reference point, standard bounce on a 56 degree wedge is 11 degrees -- at least for the Vokey wedges.  When you go to look at the wedge displays in your local golf retailer, most of the big names have little booklets or guides near the wedges showing what the standard bounce is for each one, so take note of that when you are looking to buy.

As Bob Vokey Would Say, "Make Bounce Your Friend"

So how can you make bounce work for you?  First, if you have the cash and the inclination to get a couple of the same wedges with different bounce options, you can choose the actual wedge to stick in your bag based on the conditions of the course you are playing. However, if you are like most of us and this luxury is not in the cards for you, think about the type of course that you play most often.  Are you in Texas, where in the summer it is going to be hot and dry and the course will be firm and fast?  Or are you somewhere where the course is watered often and always plays soft?  If you are always on the firm and dry course, then a lower bounce option is best for you.  If you are on a soft, lush course where your club is going to be digging into the turf routinely with ease, then consider going with a higher bounce to avoid taking those huge divots that will leave your fat wedge shot thirty yards short of the green.  Or, if you travel all around and play lots of different courses, split the difference and go with the standard bounce.  But use this information to make an informed decision the next time you are getting some new wedges!

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Tip of the Week: Commit Before You Hit!

As you all know by now, golf is as much (if not more) a mental game than it is a physical game.  If you do not believe that you can pull off a shot, you will have a very difficult time telling your body to make the moves necessary to do it.  Work on fully committing to every shot that you take before you hit.  If you are standing over the ball and feel uneasy about the shot, take a step back, refocus and try it again.  If you don't believe in the shot before you hit it, you will not like the results.  Commit, then hit!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ditch the Cart and Take a Walk!

I recently joined a golf club outside of Philadelphia, where my wife and I will be moving next month.  It is a terrific course -- challenging, yet fair.  The first couple times I was there I played by myself (since there weren't too many other nuts out there besides me playing in sub-40s temperatures; one par 5 I pulled a drive and hit a polar bear) but the last couple of times I have played it was cart path only so I decided to try to carry my own sticks and walk.  I have arthritis, so I was a little bit weary of walking, not sure how my knees and back would react.  But I have to tell you -- I loved it.  I have now walked four rounds in the last two weekends, I feel great and I think it has even helped my game.  Let me explain.

When you play in a cart, you hit your shot, hop in the cart, drive to your ball, hit it again, and then repeat.  This is potentially problematic for a number of reasons.  First, by just hopping into your cart after your shot and quickly moving to hit your next shot, you will have a more difficult time getting into a rhythm with your swing.  Second, if you hit a poor shot, you are over your next shot more quickly which means you may not have had enough time to put your last shot out of your mind.  Finally, by not walking, you are missing out on a great opportunity to get some great exercise.

What I have discovered by pulling on the old two straps on my bag and hoofing it around the links is that I feel like I get a better feel for the golf course.  You can feel the slope of the fairways under your feet, which helps you get a sense of the contours of the course.  Another benefit is that when you are walking you get the best feel of how soft or firm the ground is, which affects that way your club will react when your club strikes the ground.  For instance, you may feel that the ground is still soft underneath from a recent rain, and when you go to take a divot your club may be more likely to dig deeper into the ground, causing you to hit a shot fat.  A golf course is a living, breathing thing out there, and to be on top of your game you need to be in tune with all of the nuances it has -- you need to take advantage of every little thing you can to be the best you can be.

I know walking is not practical for everyone, but if you have the opportunity, give it a shot.  Even if you are a skeptic (like I was) you may become a convert.  I did!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reflections on the 2011 Masters

What a whirlwind of a Sunday.  Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.  Masters aficionados were treated to a few hours of non-stop action where at one point it seemed like everyone who was gracing our television screens on Sunday afternoon had a shot to win the tournament.  During one hour it seemed like there wasn't anyone missing a putt - then during the next it seemed like nobody was making one.  I was afraid to go to the bathroom for fear of missing out on the action.  Here are some thoughts on the final round on Sunday -- the best day of golf every single year, bar none.

-It was impossible for your heart not to break watching Rory McIlroy scuffle to a final round 80.  The wheels came so completely off the wagon, it was simply stunning.  He saw parts of the 10th hole that I have never, ever seen while watching the Masters for 20 years.  Seriously, who knew there were houses on the golf course?  And who lives there?  In agonizing defeat, Rory was the picture of sportsmanship.  He was a class act, walked out of there with his head held high, and because of that he will live to fight another day.  In fact, he flew to Malaysia today with Schwartzel and tweeted a picture of him and Schwartzel (looking dapper in his new green jacket) on the plane.  Rory will be back -- make no mistake -- and he will be better the next go around for having this experience, as painful as it was. Watching Rory yesterday - and Dustin Johnson at the Open last year -- shows you just how incredibly difficult it is to win a major championship.

-Tiger was being, well Tiger.  If ever there was a display of what Tiger once was (and what he still can be) contrasted against the demons in his game that he is struggling with right now, it happened yesterday.  The thrills he gave people with the eagle on 8 and the birdies rolling in brought the crowds at Augusta to the brink of explosion.  But then, just when you thought he had the tournament in his teeth, he missed the short one on 15, and his hopes were dashed.  That crowd was willing him to a victory -- they wanted it so badly -- but he just came up short.  However, Tiger showed flashes of what is to come in the future yesterday afternoon.  The putts will start to drop.  He is not missing badly most of the time, he is burning edges.  Tiger will return.

-International dominance continued at the majors.  This is becoming an increasingly troubling theme for American golfers.  When it comes time to crown a major champion, more often than not recently it is an international player taking home the title (they have won four straight).  The proliferation of great international players is good for the game of golf, and hopefully this will serve as a great challenge to that next crop of great young American players to take their game to the next level.

-Charls in Charge at Augusta.  I have to admit, I really had not heard of Charl Schwartzel until yesterday.  I may have heard his name in passing, but I really did not know who he was and I probably misspelled his name ten different times yesterday in texts and tweets yesterday afternoon.  On the one hand, after that amazing few hours of riveting television, part of me feels like an ending where Charl Schwartzel put on the green jacket at the end of the day was anti-climatic.  But on the other hand, the guy birdied the last four holes in golf's ultimate pressure cooker to win the best tournament in the game.  So you have to tip you cap and say, "Well played, Charl." 

Until next year, Augusta.  In the meantime, I am going to be planting azaleas in my new garden, just to get ready for the 2012 Masters.

Product Review: The Starter Coin

The fine folks over at http://www.startercoin.com/ were nice enough to send me a sample of their product to test out as I finally got out from under Mother's Nature's cold, harsh winter blanket and saw the green grass of the golf course for the first couple times this season.

Dubbed by its maker as "The gentleman's way to start the gentleman's game," the product is a coin that you can keep in your golf bag to determine who is the lucky person in your group to start things off on the first tee, and then also tells you who will hit second, third and fourth.  We have all been on the first tee trying to decide who is going to hit - each looking at each other silently imploring the others to take one for the team and lead things off.  We have also probably all been in the situation where using the tee method to determine the order leads to confusion rather than clarity, as debate ensues over who is supposed to go when the tee is pointing directly in between two people.  The Starter Coin solves all of those problems.  You flip it and it will tell you who is off the tee in what order.  It is a simple and fun product.  There is also a ball marker on there for good measure, and you can choose the saying that appears on the marker, picking from things like, "No Putts, No Glory" or "That's How I Roll." 

I have broken the Starter Coin out a few times on the first tee and the reception has all been very positive.  It costs $12 and shipping is free, so it is an inexpensive accessory to add to your bag or would make a great gift for the golfer who truly has everything.

And best of all, my buddy Josh came up with another good use for the coin besides the first tee -- at the end of the round, give it a flip to determine who is stuck with the first round of drinks!    

New Tip of the Week: Fairway Bunkers

Here are some tips for dealing with that pesky long range bunker shot that, if you don't practice it, will cost you some shots during your round.  First, take more club than normal - one or even two extra clubs will be necessary because the ball will not fly as far.  Second, you still want to dig in with your feet a bit, though not as much as you would on a greenside bunker shot.  Third, choke down on the club - you want to shorten the club at the point of impact to avoid taking too much sand.  Fourth, concentrate on striking the ball, not the sand behind it - you want to try and pick the ball clean out of the bunker.  Finally, keep your lower body quiet during your swing.  Excess lower body movement will lead to catching too much sand.    

Friday, April 8, 2011

Masters Moments: Amen Corner Gets its Name in Palmer Victory

Ever wonder where Amen Corner got its name?  Well, wonder no more.  Golf's most famous trio of holes was named by the legendary sports writer Herbert Warren Wind in a Sports Illustrated article after Arnold Palmer's victory at August in 1958.  You can find a link to Wind's fantastic article here, and it is a must read to see golf writing at its best.  Wind was looking for a name for the holes that turned out to be so pivotal in Palmer's victory that year, and he took the name "Amen Corner" from an old jazz song named "Shouting in Amen Corner."  Palmer shot 4 under to win the Masters by a single shot over Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins. 

The King got a critical break on the par 3 12th hole.  The night before the final round, torrential rain drenched Augusta's majestic grounds, prompting the Tournament Committee to institute a local rule allowing players to lift and drop an embedded ball throught the green without penalty.  Palmer, playing with Kenny Venturi, hit his ball long and it plugged into the bank behind the green.  When he got to the ball, there was an animated discussion with a Rules Committee member focusing on whether or not Palmer could lift and drop the ball.  The official on the ground ruled that he could not, so Palmer first played the plugged ball and made a double bogey 5.  He then went back to the spot and played a provisional ball under the assumption he could lift and drop the ball and made a 3.  He went to the next tee not knowing if he was going to have to take a 3 or a 5 on the hole.  Another member of Augusta National who was very experienced in the rules was hurried to the scene to see if he could help sort out the situation.  After discussing the matter with Palmer, that Augusta member gave his unofficial opinion that Palmer legally took the drop and would be permitted to take the 3.  Tournament host Bobby Jones even got into the discussions with Palmer and Venturi.  Despite the looming uncertainty, Palmer sank an 18 footer for eagle on 13.  On the 15th, Palmer was officially told that his 3 would count on 12.  A great example of making sure that you know the rules -- even the local ones -- and use them to your advantage when you can.  The King did that, and he put on the green jacket a few hours later.      

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Masters Moments: Tiger Laps the Field

In 1997, Tiger Woods became the youngest Masters champion when as a 21 year old he absolutely destroyed the rest of the field.  Tiger shot rounds of 70-66-65-69 to finish at 18 under, twelve clear of the nearest competitor.  Tiger's score of 270 also broke the Masters scoring record, previously held by Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd.  In many ways, it was a performance where Tiger was announcing his impending dominance on the PGA Tour.  Incredibly, the longest iron he hit into any of the par 4s that week was a 7 iron.  His mammoth length also raised enough eyebrows by the men in the green jackets to get the ball rolling on lengthening the course and changing the layout to protect Augusta from this new assault.  For that week, Tiger was perfect and made the game's greats -- and the game's greatest course -- look silly.

USGA and R&A; Make Rule Changes to Address Signing Incorrect Scorecards

A little while ago, I wrote a post addressing the spate of recent rules infractions and disqualifications that have ocurred and wondered whether the best way to address these situations was not disqualifying a competitior because they signed an incorrect card because they found out about an infraction only after their round was finished.  The USGA and the R&A have been looking into this issue and this morning issued a press release where they announced that in certain situations, a player will not be disqualified for signing an incorrect card.  The full text of the release can be found here but these are some of the highlights:

"The R&A and the USGA have announced a new interpretation of the rules that apply in limited circumstances not previously contemplated by the Rules of Golf where disqualifications have been caused by score card errors identified as the result of recent advances in video technologies.

This revision to Decision 33-7/4.5 addresses the situation where a player is not aware he has breached a Rule because of facts that he did not know and could not reasonably have discovered prior to returning his score card. Under this revised decision and at the discretion of the Committee, the player still receives the penalty associated with the breach of the underlying Rule, but is not disqualified."

The revision is effective immediately.  However, a player will still be disqualified if the incorrect card is a result of their ignorance of the rules as opposed to an infraction they didn't know about.  To give you practical examples from recent events, the Villegas incident at Kapalua where he moved loose impediments while the ball was in motion would still have resulted in a DQ because Villegas should have known about the rule.  However, the Harrington incident in Abu Dhabi where the ball moved by a dimple and was only confirmed by reviewing HD video of the movement would not result in a DQ.

This is a great decision by the USGA and R&A and I give them credit for quickly addressing the problems created by people seeing ball oscilations on their HD TVs in slow motion and calling in rules infractions that the players could not even see with the naked eye.  I also applaud them for getting this in place prior to the year's first major.

Link to the CBS Streaming Online Masters Broadcast

For those of you stuck at work today (sadly, like me) but are dying to watch The Masters, here is the link to CBS' online broadcast.  The quality is great and the viewer is working well, so it is worth a look.  You can pick from a few available options of what to watch: Amen Corner (which  I am watching now), 15 &16 or the "Featured Group" coverage which starts at noon that will cover Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler (wait to you see his green outfit, it is stellar) and Jason Day.

Enjoy clogging up the bandwidth of your work's servers!  You deserve it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Masters Moments: Seve Wins His First Green Jacket

Seve Ballesteros, one of the game's most fascinating characters, has always loved the Masters, and the Masters patrons have always returned that feeling in spades.  The swashbuckling Spaniard won five majors during his illustrious career, including two green jackets.  Seve won a Masters for the ages in 1980 when he became the first European ever to win at Augusta.  Long hailed as a watershed moment for European golfers, many of the game's great international players still point to that tournament as the one where they became inspired to try to do what Seve had just done.   Seve started off the week with a 66 and never looked back, and was four clear of the field after 36 holes.  A third round 69 gave him a seven shot lead heading into Sunday.  And while there were some tense moments through Amen Corner on Sunday -- and aren't there always? -- Seve steadied himself to win by 4.  The irrepressible Ballesteros has been slowed by a brain tumor and could not make the trip to August again this year, but his influence was felt at this year's Champions Dinner.  Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who by tradition gets to pick the menu for the event, chose to serve Spanish dishes in Seve's honor.   

Masters Moments: De Vicenzo Signs for the Wrong Score

This Masters moment is memorable for all the wrong reasons.  Much has been made this year of players being disqualified for signing incorrect cards after television viewers pointed out infractions and the players were penalized after they had signed their cards.  But the mother all of all scorecard debacles occurred at the 1968 Masters.  Roberto De Vicenzo finished the final round thinking he was heading into a playoff with Bob Goalby.  The problem was that he signed for an incorrect scorecard.  He birdied the 17th hole -- everyone watching saw him do it -- but his playing partner, Tommy Aaron, who was keeping his score accidentally wrote on the card that De Vicenzo made a 4 and not a 3.  Under the Rules of Golf, the 4 had to count because that was what was on the card he signed, so he missed out on the playoff by a shot, despite actually shooting the same score as Goalby.  De Vicenzo's classic response to the incident was, "What a stupid I am."  De Vicenzo did have an outstanding career and was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Masters Moments: The Shot Heard Round the World

In honor of The Masters teeing off this week -- one of  my favorite weeks of the year -- I will be sharing some of the great moments from one of the best tournaments in golf.  Be sure to check back often throughout the week to catch a new "Masters Moment"!

In 1935, before The Masters even had that name (it was still called the Augusta Invitational), Gene Sarazen hit one of the greatest shots in the history of the tournament.  Coming to the par 5 15th hole trailing the leader by three shots, Sarazen got them all back at once.  His drive found the fairway, but he was left with 235 yards to a green guarded in the front by water, so the shot was all carry.  He was debating with his caddy whether to hit 3 wood or 4 wood, and ultimately settled on the four wood because it would help him get the ball in the air.  The shot sailed off in the distance, destined for immortality, and landed on the green and rolled into the hole for a double eagle 2.  Sarazen ended up tying the aptly named Craig Wood that day and then beat him in a playoff the following day.  Famed sports writer Grantland Rice was the one who gave Sarazen's heroic effort the name, "The Shot Heard Round the World."  The players this week will walk over "The Sarazen Bridge" which crosses the water in front of the 15th hole.  The bridge was erected by Augusta National to commemorate the Squire's amazing shot.  The plaque reads, "Erected to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the famous "double eagle" scored by Gene Sarazen on this hole, April 7, 1935, which gained him a tie for first place with Craig Wood and in the play-off won the second Masters Tournament." 

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Tip of the Week - Get out of the Sand in One!

I got this tip from a college golf coach when I was a junior golfer who got it from Gary Player, one of the best bunker players of all time.  Get in the bunker and dig your feet in as usual.  Open up the face of your club and line the ball up towards your front foot.  Then -- here is the key -- after you are set, shift your weight to your left side (right side for lefties)  and then make your swing.  You will see better results out of the sand for sure!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Discount Code for GolfClubs.com

I have been talking with one of the folks who runs http://www.GolfClubs.com and they have been kind enough to offer HGO's readers with a special discount code for orders from their wesbsite.  I have browsed around the site and they have a good selection of products, with everything from clubs and balls to shoes and rangefinders.  All you have to do to get the discount is to use the discount code HGO15 when you checkout.  Enjoy!