Saturday, August 29, 2009
The cast is an interesting one - all male, with some "celebrities" in the mix, the brother of a PGA player and, someone I'm excited to watch - Kevin Erdman - the caddie and husband of Big Break Kaanapali contestant Courtney Erdman. I enjoyed following Courtney and Kevin at the CN Ladies event held here in the spring.
I interviewed Courtney for Inside Golf Magazine in May after the Canadian CN Event and still remember her telling me that she and Kevin were not allowed to billet together on the FUTURES Tour, even though they are married. You must be joking! Sometimes you wonder where organizers come up with these archaic rules. Luckily we have more modern views of married couples "sleeping together" in Canada - ;) Anyway, Kevin put his own pro career on hold to support and caddie for Courntey and now it's his turn. I sure hope he does well and I hope I'll get to chat with him throughout the show.
Here is the rest of the cast...
Andrew Giuliani (New York, N.Y.) – Son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Donna Hanover, Andrew is looking to make a name for himself in the game of golf. Andrew actually just won his first event as a pro - the 94th Met Open Championship held on Aug. 27. Hmmm....impressive. Looks like we might see some good play from Andrew on the show. I wonder if he wins - he did get some media coverage right after the taping in July, so one would think he made a pretty good showing on the Big Break.
Ed Moses (Hollywood, Calif.) – A gold and silver medal winner as a member of the United States swim team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Moses’ goal is now the PGA TOUR. A member at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla., he once shot 64 on the course that hosts the TOUR’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Andreas Huber (Scottsdale, Ariz.) – Actress Susan Lucci’s son, the former Wall Street broker left the color of money to seek his fortune on the green.
Gipper Finau (Lehl, Utah) – Joins Tony as the first brother duo to play in the same Big Break series. Blessed with the long ball, Gipper, who turned professional at 16, once drove a 520-yard par 5.
Tony Finau (Lehl, Utah) – Hits the tee ball longer than his brother – or at least that is what he says in the spirit of sibling rivalry. Finau turned professional when he was 17 and made a cut on the PGA TOUR the same year.
Mike Perez (Scottsdale, Ariz.) – After playing the Nationwide Tour, Perez is looking for the chance to join brother Pat on the PGA TOUR.
Vincent Johnson (Portland, Ore.) – Received the Charlie Sifford exemption to play in the 2009 Northern Trust Open where he flirted with making the cut in his first PGA TOUR start.
J.R. Reyes (Omaha, Neb.) – With tattoos covering each arm, Reyes is not your typical golfer. While not looking the part, he has the talent to fit in on the PGA TOUR.
Kevan Maxwell (Charleston, S.C.) – Aspiring golf professional by day, pizza delivery man by night, “K-Max” will do whatever it takes to play on the PGA TOUR.
Blake Moore (Monrovia, Calif.) – Friend of former Big Break competitor and PGA TOUR rookie James Nitties, Moore is a threat to win Big Break Disney Golf if he can control his inner demons.
Sean Kalin (Delray Beach, Fla.) – A junior standout who gave up golf for 20 years after being kidnapped, he is looking for a second chance in the game.
I'm really happy to see Vince Cellini and Stephanie Sparks hosting the series - although I have always liked Stina and thought Charlie did a great job on Big Break PEI.
I hope you will join me each week when I interview some of the contestants. I am not sure who I should interview yet - any recommendations?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
It brought to mind the Ryder Cup, one year away, where the best of the best from Europe and the USA will face-off in one of my favorite places in the world – Wales. I love Wales. I’ve been there many times – but always on business, working for a company in the 90’s that was founded by the richest man in Wales, Sir Terry Mathews – owner of Celtic Manor – the home of the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Now, I’ve never played golf in Wales - I was a late bloomer to the game. And my stint at Mr. Matthew’s company was during my pre-golf era. But I have a lot of friends who live there or are from there that tell me regularly that golf on Wales is as good as anywhere in the UK.
I love hearing about the sheep that cut the grass on the fairways and how they put up electric fencing around the greens to keep the sheep “in their place”, as it were. However, the sheep do not take it to the rough to do their business, so be prepared, as my buddy was, to “play it as it lay” in the carcasses or droppings of the 4-legged crew that maintain the course. Ye shall get no relief from these creatures – alive or dead. Ick! Or Haha…not sure which expression I should share with that piece of knowledge ;)
So… this week, after reading Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Golf Book, I thought...Hey, I can write about golf in Wales without ever having played a single hole there because of the great stories my friends have shared with me. I can live vicariously through others who have experienced the beauty, wonder and Wo-is-me factor of golf in Wales.
So...let me share one story in the words of a golfer who is both my colleague and my friend…
"It was 2004 and my annual 4 ball buddy trip was headed again for Wales, now home of the 2010 Ryder Cup. Okay, okay… it may not be the Celtic Manor, but we still took our yearly trek to Nefyn, the final stage for our North Wales Championship pretty darn seriously. Mum did too. Every year we would end up on her doorstep, looking for a place to crash, chowing down huge breakfasts she generously prepared at the most ridiculous hours in the AM (we started early as we played 36 holes every day). Mom was not only a gracious host, she also took very seriously the honor of presenting the trophy to that year’s winner.
Nefyn was the pinnacle of our personal Ryder/Solheim Cup.
Why did we choose Nefyn? Well, it was one of the best courses in the area and rated as one of the UK’s top 100 courses. But to be honest, it was also one of the few local venues available to visitors on Saturday mornings. Members, hmmm…you’d think they owned the course! ;)
Now Nefyn’s location is both good and bad. It is remote and tough to find, but well worth the trip (Hey, I am from Wales and I couldn’t find the course 3 years running!). But when you do finally get there and step out of your car, the feeling of the sea breeze sweeping around the car park is just wonderful!
Yes, Nefyn is a blustery golf course, not unlike the links of Scotland and Ireland, but in all the times I’ve played there, I’ve never felt a drop of rain. The gods of golf have always shone fondly on our 4-some.
Nefyn is also a totally integrated environment – friendly to both men and women - a vacation area where every day you see couples out playing golf. Nefyn is geared for mixed golf and post round relaxation. The food is excellent in a simple pub food way, with reasonable prices. And the clubhouse is a wonderful haven from the strong winds that whip around the course.
Okay, back to the course itself… the 7 holes on the spit are amazing - offering a combination of the freshest air you'll ever breathe and some of the scariest golf holes you’ll ever play. You are surrounded by craggy rocks and crashing waves.
They added an extra 8 holes by converting adjacent farmers’ fields about a decade ago, and while that offers golfers different options (spit or inland), it has probably diminished the overall feel of the place. My clear advice to any first time visitors would be to play the original 18 with holes 11-17 out on the spit.
You have to love a golf course where your favorite hole is the first. I love #1 because you tee off towards the Irish Sea and the optical illusion caused by a false horizon makes you believe that you could actually drive right into it. But in reality even Tiger Woods on angel dust could not get near the water. It's an awesome way to start a golf game.
But of course, for every great hole, there’s always that nemesis, and for me, that was the second hole on the spit (#12). It starts with a totally blind tee shot into a right to left sloping fairway. There is also a massive crater in the fairway that gathers any and all weak 2nd shots. And to top it all off, the hole ends with an elevated, and totally unpredictable, green. It is a hole that even after many attempts I have yet to par and am always absolutely delighted to walk off with a bogey 5. I hate this hole, but can’t wait to play it again to show it “who’s boss!”
Now, there are a few quirks about Nefyn, or perhaps I should say the Nefyn clientele/members. We played after a “society” once which hosted over 50 local golfers, and when we reached the clubhouse we discovered the showers and soap were bone dry – not one person had felt the need to seek soap and water after 4 hours of golfing grind. Hmmm…what can I say about that, except…let’s grab the Purell, then shake hands and call it a day. :)
As for other memorable moments, we had two (count em) two…. holes-in-one on the same tough Par 3 (9th) two years running from different members of our party. In fact, we've had holes-in-one with provisionals on the 9th! Bizarre!
And then there was that temporary green on the spit one day…
The maintenance staff had cut a huge hole over 18 inches wide on a bumpy, sloping patch of fairway and called it the “hole”. Despite the massive target I managed to misread my putt and missed a three footer for par by an embarrassing margin. My partners’ response? ...Picture 3 guys lying on their backs laughing helplessly like over turned turtles. Grrr…
Ah...but I had the last laugh. Wales has always been good to me and I often came out the trophy holder at our annual championship there, relishing in a year of bragging rights. Funny...my buddies didn't enjoy those years as much as I did. I guess that's why they insisted on changing venues for future championships - courses closer to their own back yards. No problem for me... over the past 6 years, we've played in some of the best golf courses in the world including St. Andrews, Turnberry and Birkdale. But I'll never forget my mum handing me the coveted prize in my home country, announcing me as that year's North Wales Trophy Champion. It just didn't get any better than that."
Golf in Wales is generally not polished and organized as it is in Golf in the US of A. Some good advice…play the original holes and dress warm no matter what time of year. It’s not about pleasure – it’s about experiencing golf as raw and elemental as you will ever find.
Go with the flow and if the greens are unpredictable and the rough is unfair, then so be it. The gains are clear to behold in the views and the wonderful overall experience. Where else can a right handed golfer slice his tee shot into the sea on three consecutive holes at the start of his round and still win the day!
For those of us who are used to playing $300 US for a round of resort golf in the USA, golf in Wales is pretty appealing. Let me say this bluntly…golf in Wales is cheap! But…at the same time, it is golf at its best. The Welsh Golfing Union established in 1895 is the second oldest in the world and in terms of golf courses, Wales has more than 150 from which to choose.
Wales may not share the same notoriety as Scotland and Ireland, but it has as many of the charms, challenges and champions as those countries. Let’s not forget that Welshman, Ian Woosman captained the winning 2006 Ryder Cup Team which won 18½ to 9½ points over the USA. It may have been played in Ireland, but the heart of that Cup was from Wales.
I love golf and I love golf courses. I wish I could play every one in every country, but alas, that is not possible. But what I can do is talk to golfers worldwide who have experienced the joys and heartaches of the game in places I can only dream of playing.
Golf is universal, bonded by players that share a passion for the game and a love for a sport that has no boundaries, custom officials or border checkpoints.
Thank you David for sharing your experiences of golf in Wales. Once again, my bucket list of golf courses to play overfloweth…
2. Golf North Wales
3,4,5: Mark Ellis
Friday, August 14, 2009
But Michelle was not alone. Others paid dearly for jumping on the gravy train - banking on Michelle like that she was the next card at the blackjack table - coaches, caddies, agents - greed drove them to her and greed busted them.
Michelle Wie experienced more highs and lows as a teenager than most of us face in a lifetime. Her story is fascinating and has recently been chronicled by journalist and author, Eric Adelson in "The Sure Thing - The Making and Unmaking of Golf Phenom Michelle Wie"
The story is not a new one, but Adelson, who first interviewed Michelle when she was only 10, does an excellent job of compiling what we already know of Michelle's life in a well written, compelling story, and adds to it some very interesting comments and insights from those closest to her.
I really enjoyed The Sure Thing, but I must admit I experienced every emotion possible as I read it - love, hate, excitement, frustration, hope, dispair, joy and fury. I had trouble reading it at times, but also had trouble putting it down.
I wondered if Eric Adelson felt the same way as he was writing it. I also wondered how he felt now about Michelle's future, given her recent successes at Q school, on the LPGA and being chosen as a captain's pick at the Solheim Cup. Luckily I was able to talk to Eric this week and get those answers:
I am excited about Michelle's future and I hope that she shows everyone who thought she was a has-been that her story did not end in 2007...that in fact, her life and legacy are just beginning at the ripe old age of 19.
Photos of Michelle © Photogolfe... Dreamstime.com
Thursday, August 13, 2009
John: Obviously, number one, especially given his performances over the last two weeks, is Tiger Woods. It’s kind of like it’s Tiger Woods and everybody else. Some more big names that others are talking about – Vijay [Singh], Padraig Harrington, as we saw in his performance last week at Bridgestone, seems to have gotten his form back at the right time. He played really, really well except for the 16th hole last week and he has the experience with the three majors that he’s won. He’s always a possibility. And, the usual suspects like Jim Furyk. Those are my three guys, right there.
Billy: Jim Furyk or Steve Stricker or I would also look at Lee Westwood. His name keeps coming to mind. He’s never won a major championship, but he has the game. Look at the way he played the Open Championship. He’s out of the playoff by a shot and he bogeyed on the last 4 holes. Yes, had a birdie in there on the 71st hole, a par 5, but he should have a major championship on his resume already. He’s one guy we should take a good, hard look at. Or, maybe it’s a young guy - a [Camilo] Villegas, Sean O’Hair, or Anthony Kim.
Q: Do you think there will be a potential "dark horse" at the Championship this year? If so, who do you think it will be?
John: I can see it happening. Who that might be, well, that’s why they are called dark horses because no one knows who it’s going to be, but I’ve got a feeling about a couple. I think Brian Gay has played great this year with a couple of wins. It’ll be interesting to see how he does. A couple other names that are in my head, for no real particular reason, are Charles Howell III if he can drive it up the fairway I think has a good chance. I also like Paul Casey and I like Matt Kuchar for some reason. I don’t know why, but his name is sticking in my head.
Q: At 7,674 yards, Hazeltine is brutally long. In your opinion, do the short drivers with otherwise excellent games have a chance, or are they just too handicapped by the distance this week?
Billy: A lot of people think the longer player has the advantage. But given the fact that of the par 5 holes where a player like [Tiger] Woods or [Phil] Mickelson should capitalize, only one that is reachable – the 7th hole. The other three are not reachable so the long hitters are not going to have any more advantage on those. When you’re looking at a guy hitting with a 7-iron or a 5-iron, a Tim Clark or Brian Gay or Jim Furyk might be as affective with a 5-iron as the longer hitters are with a 7-iron. I’m not discounting the length of the course, but I’m not placing the shorter hitters off to the side.
Q: How do you assess Rich Beem's chances?
Billy: Where he fits into the equation is this is where he won his first and only championship, I think that plays a big part. I think he gets an energy and confidence boost once he steps on the property. What are his chances? I’d say they are very slim [laughs] especially given the fact that Tiger Woods and other highly-ranked guys are playing well at the same time. To win here again, it will take a bigger strike of lightening than what happened the first time.
Q: Billy, do you have any advice for handling first-tee nerves (and nerves in general)?
Billy: Everyone handles it differently. A lot of these sports psychologists today say athletes handle nerves with a routine. They tend to block out the fact that there’s extra people on the tee watching them tee off, and focus on their routines. The more that you can go to your routine, and just hit the shot you normally hit, the better off you will be. I think people get in trouble when they think, “Well, I just hope I can put it out there.” Think of your plan – if you want to hit a hook or a draw, and try to get the shot. If you hit it, fine, and if you don’t, it’s not a big deal. Never try to do anything from a negative to get a positive.
Q: Billy, if you were still playing, what would your game plan be this week?
Billy: I would really concentrate on distance control and, by that, I am referring to the par 5 holes that you can’t reach. Also, the par 3s that are over 200 yards. The 8th hole and 17th hole, they are in the 175, 180 range. Because the rough isn’t that penalizing from what I’ve seen, a lot of it would be distance control. The more times you can put it flag high or just underneath the hole, you’ll benefit from it.
Q: What about Ernie Els? He played well last weekend, was 8th at the Open, but hasn't done much else this year. Do you think he will win another major?
John: I think he can because at 40-years-old he’s hitting that point where it’s now or never. He’s getting up there, I still think he has the game. I think he’s got to overcome his putter, which is what has let him down. Particularly at the Open, he missed a couple of short putts that could have turned the tide for him. Whether he does it here or not remains to be seen. Personally, I would love to see him do it because I like Ernie a lot.
Billy: If Ernie Els was in contention early, I’m not sure if he could sustain it. He really hasn’t done anything as of late, and he’s gone through the swing change. I just don’t think that all of sudden Ernie is going to be able to turn it around. There’s a lot going on with Ernie and I don’t think his golf game is there right now. I’d give him a slim chance this week.
Q: What do you think of the chances of young players like Camilo Villegas and Rory McIlroy?
As for Rory, I can see that happening very soon. Rory is an unbelievable talent for his age. He won a European event when he was 19-years-old. He seems un-phased coming out on this stage, which is totally different than anything young players have ever been exposed to before. Where could I see him winning? I think the best place, where he would have the most experience and where his game would be made for, would be the Open Championship. I like him at Augusta, too. I don’t know why. Here at Hazeltine – it’s possible. We’ll see. He definitely has the length. He’s one of the longest players on the tour, so it’s a matter of how all the breaks fall into place, which is true for ever player. You have to get the break to win any major championship.
Billy: Both are good players. Villegas has played well on several occasions this year. He’s young. I saw him at the championship this year, along with [Ryo] Ishikawa, I thought they both showed their rookie sides of it. They saw their mistakes and didn’t take advantage. I felt that they were playing by the seat of the pants. But, McIlroy is the real deal. He’s going to be a good player for some time. Fundamentally, mechanically, when it comes to the golf swing – he’s as good as it gets. He drives it relatively straight and long. He’s a nice young man. I think he’s a great putter, even at a young age. He’s so young that I would say early in his career, he’s off to a start we anticipated when we first saw him a couple of weeks. He has the length this week. To win a PGA championship, people need the breaks. That’s the unknown right now – who’s going to get the breaks.
Q: Phil Mickelson has had an interesting year both on and off the course. Last week, his play was up and down - is he ready for this last major?
John: A lot of folks here are actually picking him to win. He played so great at the U.S. Open. It was such an emotional return for him there, and of course he is going to have the same emotion here. I saw him warming up on the range, and the crowds were unbelievable – the support for him and how appreciative fans are to see him here. I think it’s all going to come down to what kind of start he gets off to this weekend. If he gets off to a strong start, he could be there. If not, I think with of all the emotion of what he’s going through could make it tough for him to come back. I think a good start is critical for his chances this week.
Q: John, what are your top goals for PGA.com during the tournament this week?
John: Obviously, our goal, as it is for every tournament and major we do, is to provide the best coverage of the tournament that we can. We have a stable of world-class writers that will be providing daily stories and updates on PGA.com.
We are also really excited about some of the new features added this year. We have updated our design, and users will find when they log on to the site, our main story section now includes up to five stories in one slot. We now have the ability to play video right there on the homepage, which is very exciting for us. It’s going to be exciting for readers to stay on the homepage and play video right there. Our player operates exclusive videos that no one else will have, which is very important to us.
On top of video coverage, we have our PGA Championship Live, which is exclusive, streaming coverage of the tournament. We will have the simulcast streaming of TNT’s broadcast available right on our site. We also have our Marquee Group Following where we’ll be following one group in the morning and one in the afternoon. We will be following Tiger’s group with Rich Beem and Padraig Harrington both Thursday and Friday. One new feature we’ve added is a poll where we are asking users to tell us which other group they want us to cover with our Marquee Coverage, so we’ve got a choice between a few other threesomes so users can go onto our site and cast their vote. The group the fans vote for is the one we will be covering.
Then we’ve got coverage of the par 3 holes. We also have four different windows of coverage that will be on-demand, instructional and have other features from our video coverage. We’re really excited about everything we’re offering this week. I think our users are going to find a new experience and it’s going to be one unlike that they’ve found for coverage of any other major championship.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Crowbush is on the north shore of PEI and is a perfect combination of links and luxury.
I can see why this 5 star resort was chosen to host the Export Skins Game with Mike Weir, Mark O’Meara, Fred Couples and John Daly in 1998, and Making the Connection Legends of Golf with Mike Weir and Vijay Singh in 2007.
We arrived at the resort for an early morning tee time, not quite sure who our playing partners would be, and not quite sure what to expect from the Thomas McBroom course that was awarded 4.5 starts from Golf Digest Places to Play and ranked as the #2 public course in Canada by Score Golf Magazine.
We arrived at the resort for an early morning tee time, not quite sure who our playing partners would be, and not quite sure what to expect from the Thomas McBroom course that was awarded 4.5 starts from Golf Digest Places to Play and ranked as the #2 public course in Canada by Score Golf Magazine.
I was very excited and a tad intimidated by its reputation, but ready for the challenge. Golf is all about attitude, and although the sky was overcast (as it was long the entire eastern seaboard that week), we weren’t discouraged. This was going to be a great day, no matter how many bunkers I found or balls lost in the 11 holes where water comes into play.
We started the day with a tasty breakfast in The Links restaurant on the top floor of the club house. It was a great way to relax and enjoy the surroundings and views.
I also learned that it was not the ocean we were looking at from the 2nd floor of the clubhouse, but the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Sure look liked ocean to me!
After breakfast, and a warm-up at the practice facility we were ready to face the day, the course and our playing partners.
Now I’m used to playing golf with lots of different people and 99% of the time, they are nice, friendly and polite golfers. On very rare occasions, however, we’ve been paired with absolute jerks and so I’m a bit “Once bitten, twice shy” when I’m about to meet the twosome I’ll spend the next 4.5 hours with.
Well, I couldn’t have been more pleased to walk up to the first tee to find Tim Arnold (General Manager of the resort) and his lovely wife, Laurie, ready to show us how to golf The Links at Crowbush. I was thrilled that we were playing with a married couple. There is nothing I enjoy more than playing golf with a couple who loves to play together. And when I shared my apprehension about playing such a challenging course, my butterflies flew the coup when Tim grinned and said, “It’s not about the quality of the game – it’s the quality of the companionship.” I knew then that this was going to be a great day.
The Links at Crowbush is a very walkable course, but be careful to keep pace of play. More than once I wanted to stop just to take in the vistas and tranquility around me as we played. But with the GM playing with me, I wanted to be on my best behaviour, so I snapped a bunch of pictures and video and kept moving.
Every one of the 18 holes had something memorable to share, but I’ll just highlight a few that I hope will entice you to check out the rest…
The first four holes seem to be set up to create confidence in ones game with handicaps running 15, 17, 7 and 11. After these few holes, one might even start to think that they’ve got the course licked. Haha…NOT!
Off the tee you must keep it left of centre – the last thing you want is to end up in one of the deep bunkers on the right.
Walking up the fairway you start to wonder if there is a flat lie anywhere on this course – the undulations are not saved for the greens – this course is hilly!
Once you get to your 2nd shot, you face the risk/reward lay up or go for it shot to the green. Now this is where the fun really begins. There is a large pond right in front of the green that you have to carry and then quickly stop your ball from running into the strategically placed bunkers in the back.
You know that a bunker is deep when there are ladders in the bunker. And you know this hole has taken its toll on you when you’re tempted before noon to sneak into the clubhouse for a pint before heading to the 6th tee.
The 7th hole is where you start your trek along the north shore of PEI, with its beautiful views of the beaches and shoreline. It looks a bit scary off the tee, but the carry is really only about 150 yards or so. But, as you can imagine, wind is a big factor on this hole and you’ll need to be careful to keep your tee shot left to avoid the rough and marshland on the right.
And don’t go long on your approach shot – there’s a “no access” area behind the green which is actually a beach. That’s out of bounds for you, unless you strip down like Henrik Stenson and pretend to blend in with the beach bums ;)
Speaking of water, check out the 8th hole – a fair par 3 from the tournament tees (161 yards), but very challenging for the big hitters from the tips at 219 yards. All carrythis hole is made even more daunting by the very strong winds, which were right in our faces. Definitely need to take an extra club or two.
The forward tees at 88 yards are a chip and a putt away from the green, so I’d be tempted to play from the whites on this hole. Hey, I like to “go for it” too! Hand me my water ball.
Very tricky off the tee – you need to hit a strong drive to avoid them. Did I? Well, as my mother always told me, “If you haven’t got anything good to say, say nothing.” Mums the word!
On to a hole I can’t say enough about – the 11th. Even if you aren’t PGA calibre, you must climb up the steps to the PGA tee box with camera in hand. We were told that this is the highest point on PEI and you can see the whole Island from up here. The views are breathtaking!
The 11th hole, itself is also quite beautiful with water coming into play on your approach shot. It’s a wise golfgal/guy who lays up on this par 5.
There are two very strategically placed pot bunkers between the water and the narrow elevated green which are sure to cause you some grief if target golf isn’t your forte.
The 15th hole is another camera opp, with the gulf straight ahead of you. You need to keep left to avoid the large waste bunker on right and going long on your approach means going going gone! Lots to get you into trouble behind the green.
Oh, and did I mention wind?
The 18th is a great closing hole. The number 2 handicapped hole on the course, it actually doesn’t look all that difficult. But don’t get to cocky. It is chocked full of bunkers on both sides and when you get to the narrow green protected on both sides by very deep bunkers, you’ll be facing a swale that will make you eat the “Hmm...doesn’t look too bad” words you voiced on the tee.
The Links at Crowbush is not for the faint of heart; it is for the golfer who doesn’t want to commune with Mother Nature, he/she wants to beat Her at Her own game. With the ever-changing elements She throws at you, I bet this course never plays the same way twice. And as we traversed the fairways, we felt like it we had been transported to Ireland. If there had been a rainbow out that day, I might have started looking for leprechauns and pots of gold.
After our round, we headed over to the resort where we were very pleasantly surprised to walk into our large king suite, complete with cosy bathrobes, a Jacuzzi, Mike Weir wine, a cheese plate and beautiful views of the course and north shore. I thought I had died on gone to golfgal heaven.
I could also see the 1 and 2 bedroom cottages from our room. My mind started working, thinking how great these would be for golfing getaways with our friends who recently returned from a golfing holiday in PEI and were anxious to return.
Venturing through the resort, we discovered the Spa, with an indoor pool, hot tub and work out facilities close by. It didn’t take me long to book a massage and wallow in self indulgence for an hour. Now, how can I describe that experience? Ooo...aaah...hmmm...sigh... (That’s all I remember, until I fell asleep. :-) )
That evening, we joined Tim and Laurie in Crowbush’s lovely restaurant where we were once again spoiled rotten by great food, wine and company. To top it all off were some homemade truffles that melted in your mouth. I snatched a few on my way out and savoured them on our flight home.
A special thanks to Tim and Laurie for a fabulous stay – it was sweet, but oh so too short. In my golf diary, I keep a list of places I want to re-stay and replay and Crowbush is definitely on it.
This year we’re taking the kids to the Okanagan for their summer vacation, but next year, I’m going to do my darndest to book our family vacation in Maritimes, just so I can play this course again and maybe (just maybe) walk away with more pars than scars on my score card. And when I'm done, I'm heading to Brudenell Dundarave - now that course owes me big time!
I was listening to Phil Mickelson yesterday at the Bridgestone talk about his up and down day (or should I say down and up day) and what he said really hit home personally.
"I got out to a shaky start," said Phil. "I didn't commit to a lot of shots - I didn't play aggressive - I didn't make aggressive swings and I was three over at the turn."
Then Steve Sands asked what turned it around for him.
Phil said, "I think when you get into playing a little bit you realize that you can't play swinging afraid or swinging tentative. I started to trust my swing and I started to make more aggressive shots and ended up giving myself a few birdie chances and made those."
Swinging afraid. Phil talked about fear? Hard to believe that a pro of his stature and experience would use the "F" word when describing his swing. I was impressed he admitted that.
I live in fear over my golf ball these days. In my efforts to get better, my coach has made some pretty significant changes to my swing. Perhaps significant isn't the right word - more like a complete overhaul from the ground up would be a better way to describe it. The only thing he hasn't changed is my grip (because he did that the last time ;)). In fact, the only thing he could have done to make my swing any different would be to get me to play left handed - haha!
I am not unhappy about the new changes - they are all good (and desperately needed) - stand up taller and closer to the ball. Cock early, then rotate my left shoulder. Start my swing with my feet/legs using my weight shift (without swaying) and then finally let my arms follow through what my weight shift has started. Finish standing tall, and balanced, w/o leaning forward (I used to look like I was about to come out of my Footjoys to follow my ball down the fairway. :))
Sounds sooo simple doesn't it? NOT! It's hard - really really hard. But I know it's the right thing to do so I'm working hard to make it "my new swing". Every second day, I'm on the range with my video camera working working working to get it right. And on the range I'm doing pretty well - I almost look like a real golfer out there (Almost is the operative word ;)).
But then there's me on the course. I used to feel naked on the first tee - now I feel naked over every shot. I have no idea what's going to happen. I'm afraid - very very afraid.
So I start with the deep breathing, self-talk routine as I walk up to my ball, saying "You can do this - think range game." Of course, that never helps me - I'm still terrified. And when people are watching, I have this incredible urge to revert back to my old trusted baseball swing that looks awful, usually results in a pull, but works waaay better than the wiff I'm about to make (or dare I say the "S" word? - Yup, those are pretty standard when I screw up my new swing).
Trust your swing. Those 3 little words are harder for me to do than saying "I was wrong."
How do you trust something that is as fickle as the wind at Turnberry? My golfguy always says to me, "Life is easy - Golf is hard." Yup, he's got that right!
I was watching the Senior Men's US Open last weekend and saw Joey Sindelar shank a chip shot. The commentator said Joey'd recently changed his chipping stroke and when he stood over his ball, he really didn't know what was going to happen. So I guess this isn't a problem for us duffers, but one that faces even the best players in the world (okay, maybe not Tiger - he's never afraid of anything, but then again, is he human?). Oh to have that confidence!
Anyway, I'm heading to the range again this AM. I figure if I just keep at it, at some point my new swing will become my only swing and then I'll have to start working on my putting.
Hey! All it takes is patience, hard work, hours of therapy and a few good stiff drinks after every round, right? Well, I've got the drinks down patt - hard work I can probably handle - therapy I can buy - and patience??? Oh oh...Patience is NOT one of my virtues. And according to The King James Bible, "tribulation worketh patience". Yikes! I can already see a lot of tribution in my future and I expect to be asking God for FORE-giveness for a few choice words I expect to share on the golf course over the next few months. Sigh...
Oh well...I'll just take it one step/shot at a time. Trust my swing - Be patient - Forgive myself and start all over.
I'll call it my 3 step never-ending program to a better golf swing. Think it will work? I guess I'll never know until I try. Wish me luck!