Predictions: Ryder Cup

September 25, 2012

This year, Team USA and Team Europe converge at Medinah to play in one of golf’s greatest traditions: The Ryder Cup.  Team USA is captained by Davis Love III, while Team Europe is led by Jose-Maria Olazabel.

The teams:

USA

Keegan Bradley
Jason Dufner
Jim Furyk
Dustin Johnson
Phil Mickelson
Matt Kuchar
Zach Johnson
Webb Simpson
Brandt Snedeker
Steve Stricker
Bubba Watson
Tiger Woods

Europe:

Nicolas Colsaerts
Luke Donald
Sergio Garcia
Peter Hanson
Martin Kaymer
Paul Lawrie
Graeme McDowell
Rory McIlroy
Francesco Molinari
Ian Poulter
Justin Rose
Lee Westwood

It should come as no surprise that given the depth of the US’s team and the recent success that they have had including Snedeker’s capture of the FedEx Cup, The PowerFade predicts that Team USA will be victorious! 

USA! USA! USA!

 

The Big Four

July 29, 2012

Just an interesting topic to ponder amongst our readership.

Last week, the big easy earned his second British Open title, taking home the Claret jug. This marks Ernie’s fourth major. While many are lauding his performance–and feeling quite sorry for one Adam Scott–I took a moment to pause and remember the time when golf seemed more exciting than any, and, looking back, what that time in history has led to.

When was it we started calling them “The Big Four?” 2004? 2005? To think it’s been 7 or 8 years since that time frame makes it seem like we’re getting old. Nonetheless, in the historic career of one Tiger Woods, the period of “The Big Four” was one of probably his greatest areas of achievement.

Colloquially, The Big Four meant Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, and Vijay Singh, who typically were consistent contenders and always ranked in the top 6 or 7 in the world rankings. Their attendance at tournaments drove the public eye, and sponsorship money for the Tour site of the week rose and fell with their decisions to compete or not. These men are, by and large, the reason that PGA Tour prize money is now consistently over $1MM per tournament for the winner, with each tournament seeking to draw the best in the world.

In May, the Devil Ball Golf Blog (http://sports.yahoo.com/golf/blog/devil_ball_golf/post/The-Big-Four-is-now-down-to-the-Big-One-?urn=golf,241789) opined that Mickelson was the only of The Big Four to currently be in contention. I guess things change. Tiger has held at least a share of the lead in each major since, and Ernie Els…well…won the Open.

When we were in the heat of The Big Four, however, it felt like a “Big One”–with Tiger Woods essentially dominating. Even though Phil, Ernie, and Vijay all placed well, the consistent performer was Tiger Woods. He won two majors in 05, two in 06, one in 07, and one in 08. Mickelson broke through for a major in each of 04, 05, and 06, but nothing compared to Tiger’s dominance. Els and Vijay…well…Vijay won the 2004 PGA but seemed to never really hold on to his putting.

What’s interesting to review, though, is what’s happened since. When you look at the numbers, Tiger Woods won 6 majors during that time period and 14 overall. But Phil added another major. So did Els. And when we look back, we see that two of The Big Four have won four majors (Phil and Ernie) while one owns three titles (Vijay). Collectively, these men account for 25 major championships won.

Compare that to the current streak of now 15 majors without a repeat winner (last being Padraig Harrington, 2008 PGA after the 2008 British Open), and it really puts the performance in a span of history. Els’s recent win was the first time in ten majors that the winner was not a first-time major championship.

In other words, what these players did was utterly unbelievable. They dominated the game in a way that we likely will never see again. While it appeared at the time that Tiger was the dominant force (and he probably was), think about what these men achieved. All of them will likely be in the World Golf Hall of Fame as soon as eligible (Phil already is!). And, what’s more amazing–they’re still competing at a high level almost a decade later. While the current state of golf is something to debate, looking back at the history we’ve seen, this just might have been the greatest generation of the game.

WITB: JK Edition

June 7, 2012

Updated 6/7/2012

LG’s What’s In The Bag (https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/whats-in-the-bag-lg-edition/) inspired me, but, sadly, not enough to do anything about it until now (yes, nearly a year later). Now that I finally have my set the way I want–or as close as it’s going to get at this point–here it is. Without further ado, JK’s WITB:

The first look is of the entire bag. What immediately stands out is the color yellow. To accommodate my Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, I’ve bought yellow golf bags over the years. Slowly, I’ve continued to include yellow colors in various aspects of the bag until virtually everything in the bag now has something yellow associated with it.

The towel here is for Mystery Valley Golf Course in Stone Mountain/Lithonia, Georgia. I grew up playing this course, and this towel goes with me wherever my bag goes. It’s a reminder of where I learned to play the game and, more importantly, how I learned to play the game. Mystery Valley is the subject of a PF review, https://thepowerfade.com/2011/07/25/review-mystery-valley-golf-course-lithonia-ga/.

I recently decided that I wasn’t good enough to play blades anymore. Too much inconsistent contact (due to too much inconsistent practice) means cavities were the way to go. I picked up these Mizuno MP 63 irons near the end of last year. They’re great. Diamond muscle cavities provide a good touch and workability along with a low COG, but the cavities edges create perimeter weighting, helping with forgiveness on off-center hits (THANK YOU!). I would recommend staying away from the KBS Tour iron shafts, though. They felt mushier and less certain, to me, than the X100s that I am now playing in them. I swingweighted them to D4-D5 and put on custom ferrules (which are seen in another pic). Nice to have a set that is truly my own.

Below are my Fourteen MT28V5 wedges, spec’d at 54/10 and 60/08, but with the 54/10 bent to 56/12. These were refinished and rechromed near the end of last year by Jim Kronus at The Iron Factory. The review is at https://thepowerfade.com/2011/12/28/review-iron-factory-jim-kronus/

I purchased this MP 53 3-iron from a member at GolfWRX. I found out later when building it into its current form that the head weight is a little light of standard due to it being designed as a “B” head. Mizuno is the only company (that I am aware of) that has two production lines: one is for standard weight heads for standard length clubs, one is for long club for taller players. When the clubs are built to 1 inch or more over standard, the head weight needs to come down to keep the swingweight relatively the same. Because I play my irons at standard, I have a tip plug and lead tape on the head to get the weight where I like it (playing around D4-D5).

Another view of the bag shows the various towels and headcovers. LG was kind enough to get me some yellow and white towels, and I keep a black one on the bag for when I really get a lot of dirt on the club and don’t want to dirty up my nice white towels. There are four headcovers on my bag, none of which are standard. One says “GT” for Georgia Tech and has some logos on it. Another is Buzz, the GT mascot. These two headcovers protect my fairway woods. A black panther protects my driver. The panther is the mascot of Georgia State University, where I got my graduate degree. I was unable to find any blue or purple panther headcover, though (both colors used by the university at some point, oddly enough), so I went with black. The last is the cover to protect my putter, which is a custom made by Delila. More seen of that in later pictures.

Pure Pro grips are tremendous. I’ve been meaning to do a review on these, but they are sturdier than Tour Velvet while also being tackier to promote traction. I couldn’t be happier with them, and the yellow was a bonus.

Custom yellow ferrules from eBay. Yes, it’s a little gawdy (or maybe a lot), but I’m the only person I’ve seen that has custom yellow ferrules. There’s something to be said about that.

Another look at the various headcovers.

Below is, simply put, the best putter in the world LaMont Mann at Sunset Beach did a tremendous job on this, as he does on many putters. This one has helped me transform my game from a bomb and gouge, can’t get it in the hole player to a “he makes them from everywhere on the green but can’t swing to save his life” kind of player. Trying to get those two married together, in a good way. A full review of SSB is at https://thepowerfade.com/2011/05/02/review-sunset-beach-golf/


Chris Jordan of Sunset Beach was nice enough to get me a yellow putter grip recently. It works great. I had 27 putts in my last 18 hole round.

Below is the headcover by DelilaH. A full review of Delila and her process is at https://thepowerfade.com/2011/12/07/review-club-covers-by-delilah/. The long story short, I wanted a custom cover to match my bag and to remember my kids when I’m on the course. This was the best I could’ve ever dreamed of.

Another look at the Panther. Growl.

LG and I simultaneously (or close thereto) have shifted between various drivers over the last few years. First, we had SMT drivers (review at https://thepowerfade.com/2011/01/24/review-smt-golf/). We experienced some problems with our SMT drivers that we did not anticipate, so LG first switched. He was looking at the Titleist 910 drivers and decided to save his money and buy a 909D2, which is basically the same thing but without an adjustable hosel. I followed suit shortly after, buying a 909D3. I put in a V2 Tour Flight shaft, but it was too low, and I did not like my dispersion. So, I found a decent price on a Japan-issued prototype Diamana Whiteboard 73x5ct. I had previously played 80g shafts and 60g shafts, but they never felt right. The Whiteboard, at around 70g, was right on. I put in a Harrison Shotmaker in E flex, and my drives have been long, straight, and accurate ever since. Nothing is a panacea, and I still have occasional bad shots, but this setup is working very well for me.



Below is the oldest club in my bag and its cousin. The 904f 17 degree fairway wood was a club I bought while I was in college. I had played a 2-iron for a long time, but I decided it was getting too difficult to hit. Plus, I wanted to add an extra wedge, and carrying a 3-wood and a 2-iron could be eliminated if I played a 4-wood. So, I traded in my old 3-wood and got the 904f. It has seen a lot of bag changes (from 962s to MP14s to MP67s to MP32s to KZG ZOs and now MP63s, and that’s just the irons!). It got so scratched and dirtied that I decided to repaint it. It’s still the same tremendous golf club it was for me many years ago. The 13 degree I bought within the last two years. LG was in Atlanta more than a year ago and hit my 904f 17 degree. He liked it so much that he started looking for his own 904f. We found someone willing to sell a 15 degree, 13 degree, and 19 degree, so I bought all of them, kept the 13 for myself, and sent the 15 and 19 to LG. The 13 will be coming out of the bag soon in favor of an Adams XTD Super Fairway (pics to come later), but my bag is still accurate as of now.

Oh, and an instructional for repainting the 17 degree fairway wood is at https://thepowerfade.com/2010/12/06/repainting-a-club-redux/9/, which includes a link to the original repainting thread.


The Bushnell Tour V2 laser, approved for tournament play. What a great device.

The scorecard holder below was a gift from LG (very kind, and thank you). It goes with me everywhere and is very helpful, especially on summer days in Georgia when I have a tendency to sweat through my scorecards. A review of these will be forthcoming, but know that this is a great product and is just the signature touch I needed to complete my bag.


In a nod to Georgia Tech, I mark my golf ball with a gold dot and gold line (considering the colors are old gold and white). I do it while I can, until I run out of the markers I have, then I’ll have to find something else to do.


These markers are out of production now. They still make the silver metallic ones, but Sharpie does not make gold anymore. I’m told they once made copper too, but those are the rarest by far. These still come up on eBay from time to time, but they aren’t cheap typically. I lucked out and bought 6 about two years ago for under $20. I still have 3 remaining, so hopefully they’ll last until I can find more. Sharpie does make paint markers, but that’s not the same as a true Sharpie. The color is great, and the markings wear off slowly over the course of a round. While this seems bothersome, it’s actually good because you can remark at the end of the round and, as long as you haven’t significantly dinged your golf ball, it feels like a new ball! I’ve been very happy with these.

Finally, a bag tag from Glen Abbey. For those that don’t know Glen Abbey, it’s a championship course that was the home of the Bell Canadian Open for many years. Now, the Canadian Open shifts from one site to another, but the course is still in championship shape. Glen Abbey was one of the first (if not the first) championship courses I ever played. It’s loaded with history of great players doing spectacular things there. Some memorable moments are seen in the video clip below, most notably, Tiger Woods’s 6-iron shot out of the bunker on 18. Yet another moment (I believe from the same tournament) but lesser-known was Tiger’s charge to make the cut. After shooting a 39 on the back 9 of round 1 on Thursday, (scorecards here: http://www.pgatour.com/r/tiger.victoryroom.win24/index.html), Tiger was in jeopardy of missing the cut. Tiger finished the back 9 on Friday (round 2) with birdie, eagle, birdie, eagle–going 6-under for the last four holes to shoot 32 on the par 37 back 9 to make the cut and, eventually, to win. The Glen Abbey bag tag is a reminder to me never to give up and, when all else fails, to be aggresive and to trust my instincts.

canadian open

So that’s it. There are some other nuances, but I could waste all day blathering on about mindless stuff that has some meaning to me but, invariably, doesn’t have meaning to someone else. Leave a comment if you feel, and thanks for looking.

Also, the pictures below were taken near the end of last year to try to do a WITB then, but…clearly…I didn’t. As you can see, not a lot has changed, but there are some differences. Many of these are now backups to my current set. Enjoy.
































6 holes with a 7-iron

May 12, 2012

In keeping with JK’s recent advice to mix things up, and because my back probably would have given out had I tried to carry a full bag of clubs due to straining it at the gym, I decided to play a few holes with only one club – my 7-iron.  I’ve toyed with this idea a few times since reading about it in a post on the Sandtrap forum almost 2 years ago.  My reason for waiting this long is mainly a lack of time to play generally.  It’s hard to convince myself that I should spend the 9 holes that I get once every other week doing anything but playing real golf.  The results from the “tin cup” experiment, however, suggest to me that this might be as pure a golf experience as any other.

One of the more interesting results of this experiment occurred nowhere near the course.  Most people could not believe anyone would actually go out to the course with only one club.  Even a guy in the parking lot gave me a double take.  The starter in the clubhouse gave me a quick laugh and said “good luck.”   I was paired with three other regular shoreline duffers.  Halfway up the first fairway, each of the three players had offered to lend me clubs at least once.  They simply could not believe that I, by choice, had come to the course with only one club.  “Are you going to putt with it too?!?”  Yes sir, I am.

So what did I learn?  Well, I can do a lot more with a 7-iron than I thought.  Though I normally carry my 7-iron about 165 yards, I learned that I can purposefully blade it about 200 off the tee, bump and run it from about 30 yards (not very well), and can actually get pretty solid roll on the green with it when I pin it to my left arm a la Matt Kuchar.  Most importantly, I learned I can hit my 7-iron a lot farther than I thought I could when I’m not thinking about how far I need to hit the ball.

The first hole at Shoreline measures 489 yards from the white tee.  I teed off with my trusty 7, laid up with my trusty 7 to about 130 yards, and hit my approach with my trusty 7.  Unfortunately, hit it a little too flush and the wind took it over the green.  My first pitch was my first miscue of the day, but I lined up a nice 4 footer and dunked it for a bogey.

The second hole showed me exactly how far I could hit a 7 iron.  When I think back now, I hit a poor shot off the tee trying to get as much distance as possible.  From the left rough, I took a nice, smooth swing and left it about 20 yards from the green.  The total distance on the second was at least 180 yards (into the wind) on a nice low trajectory.  I guess it’s true – when it’s breezy, swing easy.

Having only one club afforded me another advantage – I played a virtually light speed.  I was able to tee off before the group in front of us had hit their second shots (most of the time), my rhythm was not interrupted by the slow play of my group, and I had nothing to carry with me!  Talk about taking all of the annoying parts of muni golf out of the game.  I played so quickly, in fact, that our group of 4 ended up skipping holes 3-6 because a three-some and a two-some were holding us up!

It also took a lot of the guess-work out of the round.  Other than never having to think about what club I was going to have to hit, having only one club made every shot clear.  Off the tee, there was no stress.  I was ALWAYS  going to hit the fairway with my 7-iron.  From the fairway, if I couldn’t get to the green, I had to leave myself in position where I could bump and run the ball onto the green.  This meant playing the green, not the flag.  Putting was a different story.  Admittedly, I only figured it out after finishing the 9th hole, but I was able to hit a couple of nice chip/putts to save bogeys.

While I don’t think it’s something I’d do every day, playing a round with one club was a lot of fun.  It completely took the pressure off the round to play well and let me have more fun.  If you’re stuck in the golf doldrums, try playing 9 holes with only one club.  Without a doubt, you’ll find yourself in new places on a course you’ve played hundreds of times.  If you’re like me, the one club experiment may help you realize that golf is just a game.  Forget the swing thoughts, forget the mind games, just hit the ball.  It’s going to go straight.  It’s going to go a predictable distance.  After that, take what the course gives you and try to awkwardly slap in a putt.  The best part is that, bogeys/doubles are great scores!  I’ve made worse than bogey at one several times at 1 with 14 clubs!  I proved that I only need one to do better than all of those previous attempts.

This is a crazy game sometimes, but I feel like I figured out a little bit more of that craziness with this little experiment.  I recommend grabbing whatever club you can use to comfortably carry any hazards you know of on your home course.  Then, play one or two sets of tees farther up than you usually do.  Interestingly, I doubt anyone would have said anything had I played from the red tees.  From there, just grab a couple of old golf balls and make your way to the first tee.  Even if you don’t play well, who cares?  You should have had 13 other clubs, right?

 

 

The Doldrums

May 4, 2012

Golf is a game. It’s mean to be fun. It’s meant to be interesting, challenging, and, occasionally, exciting. The frustration of playing the game leads to joy at moments of achievement. Hours of work paying off for the benefit of the scorecard and the handicap, all leading to lower, better scores.

And then, there is this.

There comes a period in every golfer’s life that he or she simply is not excited by the game. So often, we hear exciting reviews of new products, scintillating stories of the “perfect round,” or humorous tales of a round gone sour. Even the worst rounds, though, don’t feel like this.

This is what I call the doldrums. The doldrums is the feeling of doing it just because you have to in order to get better. So many times in this game, we’re so excited about it that we can’t see how anyone could ever feel like the game is uninteresting. But, at some point, you will. This is rarely discussed in the game–in fact, I’ve been playing for 20 years now, and I can only recall one conversation, maybe two, where I discussed this topic with someone.

You play this game, you get better, and one day it’s like you don’t know how to play it any more. You can’t focus on the right things. Nothing good happens. You spend the whole day playing mediocre golf. You wish you hadn’t gone to the golf course, but, instead, had stayed home and knocked a few items off the honey-do list. And, worst of all, it keeps happening.

LG and I have both felt this, and all I can say to you out there that do feel it is–it goes away, eventually. There are basically two ways to approach it–keep playing, or step away for awhile. For those who step away, I can totally understand. It seems like every Winter I leave the game and every Spring I feel renewed, like I’m going to have my best year ever. There’s value to walking away for awhile; absence makes the heart fonder, and that’s definitely true of the game we love.

But, in the Summer, you don’t want to waste your nice days when you get them. Spend the time at the range; mix it up on the course and play from a new set of tees; try taking a different route on the holes–go for shots you wouldn’t normally and lay up on shots you wouldn’t normally; try a new ball, or a new setup of your clubs.

For some of us (LG, achem) the problem is putting. Not draining your putts can be a real drag, especially when you know you’re hitting the ball well enough to score. All I can say is this: don’t change your setup, your equipment, or your approach just because the putts aren’t dropping. If you’ve had success before, try to do what you used to do, but do it better. If you haven’t had success before, I would agree that there’s something to change, but that’s a rarity. Most of us that get this feeling know what a good putting round feels like.

As you go through it, know that you will make it to the other side. There’s nothing like conquering the game, especially when you’ve felt like you couldn’t. Our best wishes on making it through.

-JK

Who is this?

February 13, 2012

Yesterday, Phil Mickelson won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, coming back from a 6 shot deficit at -9 to start the day Phil posted a 64 on the final day, while Tiger Woods posted a 75. We had been told all week how Tiger was getting back, getting better, getting closer, “feeling it.” Instead, he laid an egg AGAIN on a final day–a day when his arch rival played his best.

But that’s just it–for the Tiger I know, there’s no way Phil Mickelson COULD HAVE shot a 64 on a final day. The aura of Tiger would have engulfed him long before he could get rolling.

Now, I’m a happy camper to see something as exciting as yesterday’s finish on a cold Sunday in February. Golf can only hope for such a great thing to happen more often. But it showed us how far we’ve come since TigerGate. And, it shows me definitively:

this is not Tiger anymore.

There was a time when the mere sound of a Tiger crowd roar caused other players to miss putts, to flub bunker shots, to hit errant drives, to push themselves too far. Yesterday, I watched in awe as Tiger holed out from a bunker for birdie, only to see Phil make a 30-foot putt to save par. Years ago, Phil would’ve 3-putted under the circumstances.

You have to give credit to the guy who won–Phil played excellent golf. But I can’t help but wonder who it was that lost. This isn’t Tiger. This is something else altogether.

This post is about a golf experience. LG and I rarely post about playing private courses because the purpose of our blog is more to inform the readers of things we think will benefit them, not to tell them of the awesome times we had doing XYZ that they may never have the chance to do. It is my stated life goal to play Augusta National, and hearing about someone getting to play there certainly doesn’t get me any closer to it. However, when one of us has a golf experience, we hope our readers find value in enjoying the experience with us. In this way, perhaps when they enjoy a similar experience they can share it with us.

As such, this post focuses on a recent round I played at Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, GA. Although few have heard of it, Peachtree Golf Club is a special place.

Peachtree Golf Club is the home of Bobby Jones. It was “designed by two Joneses,” being a collaboration of the mind of Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones. Few people know that Bobby Jones was a successful attorney in an Atlanta law firm, having attended Emory Law School for one one year prior to passing the Georgia Bar and Georgia Tech and Harvard for his Undergraduate studies. (Emory University–LG’s undergraduate alma mater–and a Mechanical Engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology–my alma mater and my degree). As such, the greatest amateur golfer who ever lived needed a place close to the office to keep his skills sharp, and Peachtree was his home. Having spent time walking the grounds of Augusta National in the past (’97 and ’06), I understand why Mr. Jones enjoyed Peachtree.

At only 200 members, the club boasts little. Its locker room is reminiscent of some mid-60s-designed munis in the area. The scorecard is a single-fold, white cardboard sheet with no pictures–only yardages, handicaps, a single logo of the club, and enough room to list scores. The club has no pool, no tennis, and wastes little on grandeur. You wouldn’t even know the club was there if it weren’t posted on a map–only a line of shrubbery with a driveway and a sign stating “private property” indicates that anything is there. However, it is nonetheless a surreal feeling walking on ground that you know was visited time and time again by the greats of the game. Georgia amateur legend Jeff Knox is posted in the clubhouse as the recent champion of many club championships. No doubt the greats of the game–Tiger, Vijay, Phil, Ernie, etc.–visit before the Tour Championship to hone their skills on the state of Georgia’s signature bermuda rough.

Walking out to the practice range, the pristine zoysia turf appears on the 1st and 18th holes as if it were manicured carpet–not an imperfection to be found. The bunkers appear as white as Corinthian marble. An understated elegance fills the course, as if the land were blessed for the purpose of being the mecca of golf.

As far as course statistics, it is not overwhelming by any stretch. The course is only 6700 yards at its longest. However, the layout is not only challenging, but extremely fair. Much like Augusta, the lightning-fast greens make certain pin placements a serious trap. The second hole, for example, is a 511-yard downhill par 5. The green is guarded by water. The green’s setup is very much reminiscent of the 13th at Augusta National. Having said that, many of our readers will understand the problem with going for the green in two. I hit a 5-iron into the green from 211 (downhill), but bailed left. And the problem with bailing left at Peachtree #2 is the exact same as Augusta #13. I faced a VERY tricky shot over a ridge. I hit my chip into the water and replayed, hit it to 7 feet, and made the bogey putt.

Although I shot a fairly poor 79, I set a personal record of 26 putts, including 11 one-putt greens (it would have been 25 putts, save for a three-putt at the 9th green). However, the more important personal record is 139 feet of putts holed, an absolutely unbelievable number. One of our fellow players–a former college golfer at Vanderbilt–stated “that may be the best putting day I’ve ever witnessed.” And even though I carded a triple bogey and a double bogey (both rare for me), I enjoyed every second of the experience.

To all of the readers out there: I hope you have a similar experience at some point–a chance to feel history and something you love at the same time. You may never play Peachtree, but if you ever have that moment where you’re in the middle of something special, take the time to savor it–it is worth everything. So far, it’s the closest I’ve been to my life goal.

The 14th at Peachtree Golf Club

Last Friday, LG had an opportunity to visit the Frys.com Open for its second round. The Frys.com Open, this year, is being played at Cordevalle in San Martin, CA just south of San Jose. I mention this because, during my time walking around the course, I heard rumblings that another local course, The Institute, was in the running to take the tournament. In either case, the tournament was, and will continue to be, a nice respite from work.

I could attempt to do a review of the course from just walking it, but watching some of the best players in the world essentially make a mockery of this top 100 beauty in pristine conditions would probably not be in keeping with our prior reviews. I must say, after watching these players play, the game (and course) looked much easier than I would have expected. I’m sure the course would be happy to dissuade me of this notion.

I arrived at Cordevalle at 6:40 am, admittedly to be one of the many gawkers in Tiger’s 7:40 am gallery. As was my previous experience at the Presidents Cup at Harding Park, spectators are made to park in the next county over and bussed in to a make shift entrance at one end of the course. My suspicion that the fog might delay the start of the tournament was confirmed when, on the driving range, a tournament official announced “2 hours.” Unfortunately, this was later extended to two and a half.

I spent a good part of the morning at the driving range watching players warm up and generally screw around due to the fog delay. It was great to see how these guys warm up, but at the same time demoralizing to see how good some of these guys are without even appearing to try. If you get the chance to go to a PGA event, I recommend spending some time watching players at the range. Not only do you get a chance to see them hit more than one shot without having to walk and jockey for position, but you get a better sense for how the pros think through their shots and how they correct for errors.

I quickly stopped by the putting green to see if I could pick up some practicing tips, but watching the pros was less than helpful. As I would expect, they aren’t actually practicing at the putting green, for the most part, rather, they are just getting a sense for the speed of the greens.

As 10 am crept up, I made my way to the tenth tee to watch Tiger. The gallery had grown to 7 deep by this time.  I can honestly say we were herded.  I felt that mooing was appropriate.

Rather than opine on whether Tiger has his swing back, here’s an account of the first three holes:

10: huge drive in the middle of the fairway. 3/4 wedge to 8 feet. Par after the birdie putt burns the edge.
11: 236 yard par 3, stuck to 4 feet. Birdie.
12: drive left, layup short, wedge to 20 feet, birdie putt misses by 2 inches.

Later on, Tiger makes three birdies in a row, including one at 16: a 210 yard par-3. Here is the result of his approach:

3′ 5″ for birdie.  The next closest to the pin for the day was over 9 feet.

I also had the chance to follow Mitch Lowe who is the subject of a previous review: Review: Lesson with PGA Professional Mitch Lowe and the Fleming Course at Harding Park*. In particular, Mitch made a great birdie on the par-5 9th hole. His playing partners were not able to capitalize  on the same opportunity. One found the water short left, the other missed his 20 footer.

All in all, the experience was fantastic. I got to check out a course that I would normally not be able to play, skip out on work for a few glorious hours, watch the best players in the world play the game, and meet some nice people. While watching golf on TV gives you a complete picture for the action, being there and seeing it live is clearly the way the game should be taken in. TV, despite the advances in technology, cannot give a true sense for how fast the pros swing the club, the actual ball flight and variation in trajectory, and how much better the pros are at controlling their shots. If you get the chance to support a PGA event, do your best to make it there for at least part of a round. You won’t regret it.

*Mitch is now teaching at the Golf Links at Half Moon Bay.  I recently had a lesson with him there and found it incredibly helpful, as the previous lesson.  The unique part of lessons at HMB is that there is no driving range, so your lesson is all out on the course.  I found this particularly useful for my short game and iron play.

RIP: Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011

Today, the world lost a true genius.  Few people can really say they changed the world.  Steve did.  I can think of more than one lesson I’ve had involving an iPhone video.  I can think of more than one range session where I’ve used my iPod.  I can think of more than one review that i’ve written for this blog on either my iPad or MacBook Air.

Steve, you changed the way we communicate with our world.  From the PF,  Thank you.

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Today is a sad day for our country and our world. Steve Jobs, one of the only true innovators left in our modern generation, has left us. I attended a breakfast this morning where one of Jobs’s career employees, Walt Wilson, spoke of Jobs’s impact on the world. Steve Jobs lived with a fire and brilliance that few can achieve. He followed his pursuits with excellence, and he treated business with a carelessness that belied his success, but was the ultimate cause of it. Walt Wilson quoted Steve Jobs in a speech he delivered to Stanford University’s graduating class of 2005:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Thank you, Steve, for following your heart–and for teaching us all that we can be successful doing the same.

You will be missed

-JK

for the full text of Steve Jobs’s speech, visit http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html

My recent review of the New Delhi Golf Club inspired me to put these ideas together for our readers.

One thing we appreciate more than most here at the PowerFade is a good deal.  If you are thinking about teeing it up abroad, the following tips are for you.  Note:  I strongly advise you to take a little time to plan your foreign links adventure with someone who has done a similar trip to the one that you envision for yourself.  They are usually the best sources for local knowledge and may even have connections to get you onto a nice private course you would otherwise never get a chance to play (maybe even for free!).

Let’s assume you’ve already picked out your course(s), or are simply relying on good fortune to land a tee time when you get there.  Let’s consider packing for this trip.  The first question you need to answer is whether you are going to be taking your clubs with you.  To this point, unless you KNOW you will be happy with the rental clubs provided by the course(s), I STRONGLY suggest bringing your own clubs.  The point cannot be made strongly enough.  Your own clubs will make the round exponentially more enjoyable than a set of cheap, worn, and generally dilapidated clubs that are available for hire at most (even very nice) courses abroad.  If you need any further reading on this subject, please refer to the review of the Delhi Golf Course.

While most of us in the US are used to Southwest Airlines (bags fly free – including golf clubs), this is NOT the case with respect to nearly every international flight.  Some carriers will allow you two bags (and may charge extra if one contains clubs) or may even be so stingy as to only allow one bag.  Lufthansa, for example, only allowed me one checked bag on a recent trip and was requesting $70 for a second!  (absurd).  Assuming you make the correct decision to bring your own clubs, you should really have no issue with enjoyment of the round due to equipment.

If you choose not to bring your own clubs, then do your best to pack the following: shoes, clothes, socks, balls, gloves, tees, range finder, and any other on course necessity.  While these things can take up a large amount of space even in your checked baggage, the premiums that most international clubs charge for these items makes the larger checked bag worth it.  For example, during my recent trip, a standard FootJoy golf glove cost Rs. 900 or about $20 U.S., while a sleeve of Pro V1X’s ran around Rs. 810 or $17.50.  While these prices don’t sound too far off from U.S. club prices, keep in mind the greens fee at this highly exclusive club was a mere Rs. 1500 ($32), and Rs. 400 ($8.70) is enough to feed a fully grown man for roughly 3 days.  All in all, I paid about Rs. 1000 more in assorted fees (shoe hire, club hire, caddie, etc) than I did for my actual round because I neglected to pack these essentials.

Also, with respect to local custom, it’s a good idea to find out from local caddies if the pro shop is the best place to get equipment (if you’re in a pinch).  It was only after paying Rs. 810 at the pro shop did I learn that the caddies carry balls with them that they sell for about Rs. 50 each.  At highly exclusive clubs, it’s not difficult to imagine the quality of balls they tend to find.

Additionally, be sure to get to the club extra early whenever you are playing abroad.  Customs in different countries vary widely, so being prepared is always the best plan.  I was told that my round would begin “after 12:30” and arrived accordingly.  I teed off at 2:30pm.  If nothing else, you get chance to soak in the local differences that make the international game a little more interesting.  Also, be sure to bring official record of your handicap.  It’s a good idea to keep this on you generally for playing tournaments, but international clubs tend to be sticklers for this information before letting you tee it up.

Finally, be sure to check local rules for details such as required dress for men and women.  While these things are more trivial in the U.S., these details can create problems in other countries that either result in your not being allowed to play without purchasing clothing from the clubhouse, or at the very least, an embarrassed host to the club that is not likely to pass a favorable recommendation the next time.  Calling the clubhouse and talking to the pro shop will generally resolve these issues.

As always, enjoy the links!