Apparently, there’s another major this week?

Glory’s last shot at Baltusrol… yada yada yada…

JK:
Win: Jordan Spieth
Winning score: -6
Runner-up: Phil Mickelson
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Jason Kokrak
Low PGA Professional: Rod Perry
The US Open Winner (Dustin Johnson) will: Top 10, probably T2
The Masters Winner (Danny Willett) will: Make the cut
The Open Champion (Henrik) will: Top 10
The 2015 PGA Championship Winner (Jason Day) will: Top 10
Sergio Garcia will: Miss cut
Hideki Matsuyama will: Make Cut
Adam Scott will: Top 10
Bubba Watson will: Get caught in his jetpack
Will someone win it, or everyone else lose it: Tough rounds in the middle of the week, but Spieth lights it up on the weekend to take his third major
What will be the biggest storyline of the tournament: Jordan coming back after not showing up for most of the year
Will you watch on Sunday: Hell no…I’ll be flying somewhere golfy

LG:
Win: Rory
Winning score: -15
Runner-up: DJ
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Kevin Chappell
Low PGA Professional: Mitch Lowe (GO MITCH!)
The US Open Winner (Dustin Johnson) will: 2nd!
The Masters Winner (Danny Willett) will: MC
The Open Champion (Henrik) will: Make Cut
The 2015 PGA Championship Winner (Jason Day) will: Make Cut
Sergio Garcia will: Top 10 (sorry, Sergio)
Hideki Matsuyama will: Make Cut
Adam Scott will: Make Cut
Bubba Watson will: Miss Cut
Will someone win it, or everyone else lose it: Rory takes it down.
What will be the biggest storyline of the tournament: Classic Rory/Tigeresque win.  He’s Back!
Will you watch on Sunday: Nope – on a plane to Scotland!

Advertisements

The Anonymous Mini-Tour Pro presents: Shooting Your Best Score Ever

Are you looking to shoot your best score ever?

Well, good luck sifting through the red-stake-marked pool of advice that exists in all types of outlets that cover golf – magazines, the golf channel, your local pro, and of course your golf buddies. Good news though! This column will guide you through accomplishing just that.

The bad news, however, is that it’s going to require you to take a tee and prick the massively inflated bubble that is your sense of self. Take Mr. 85 for example: he goes around with his single digit index of 9.9 and consistently throws away shots by thinking that he should employ the same strategy as the pros. The most important lesson he should learn in order to shoot his best score ever is that everyone is really terrible at golf.

And yet, one might say, Tiger in 2000 won practically every tournament – he wasn’t bad at golf! False. Tiger would consistently take 60 to 75 shots to complete a round, of which only 18 of his shots would find the bottom of the hole. I will double check the numbers but I believe that is way less than 100% of his shots. Perhaps even below 90%. So you see, if Tiger would only put 18 of 69 shots in the hole, a terrible rate, and he was best ever, think how bad Mr. 85 must be at golf – really, really awful!

The goal in golf is to be the least awful you can be. Remember that next time you aim for a tucked pin from 240 out to an island green guarded by alligators.

So let’s go through some common scenarios and see if Mr. 85 can alter his decision-making in an attempt to shoot his least horrible score ever:

Putting

A classic scene when observing Mr. 85 preparing to hit a 15 foot putt is a series of useless rituals that will not put a dent in the high likelihood that he will 3 putt. The problem lies in the fact that the plumbob, 360 degree green reading, and 7 practice strokes do not turn him from a horrible putter into an okay putter but instead turn him from a horrible putter into a still horrible putter whose stupid rituals distract him from having correct speed on his putts and also hold up the group behind him – the same group who earlier in the round were also doing stupid putting rituals but are now drunk and stopped caring about score and may get violent if they see one more plumbob out of Mr. 85. Let’s break it down:

Best player ever: makes 10% of 15 footers

Mr. 85’s opinion: “What do you mean 3 putt? I’m gonna drill this!”

Mr. 85 reality: No drilling but many, many 3 putts

Solution: Skip the pre-shot routine and lag it to 11 inches short and 7 inches right of the hole for an unexciting 2 putt. You’ll thank me after the round.

Chipping

While putting is usually a struggle for Mr. 85, chipping is usually a relative strength. Just kidding! His chipping is putrid. Unfortunately, Mr. 85 does not know this because he hit that one chip close to the hole that one time. Let’s take the common situation of having a tough chip over a bunker with little green to work with.

Best player ever: hits a nice flop over the bunker that will be close 30% of the time, 15 feet past 69% of the time, and flubbed in the bunker once in a long while.

Mr. 85’s opinion: “Watch and learn, boys!”

Mr. 85 reality: 49.9% chili chunk in the bunker, 49.9% skull over the green, and that one chip that one time.

Solution: Chip it 15 feet past the hole, where he will probably 3 putt.

Iron shots

Putting and chipping are undoubtedly important but at least a 3 putt is only a single lost stroke. The result of certain iron shots, on the other ungloved hand, can be the golf equivalent of being beaten over the head by Old Tom Morris’ rusty brassie from the 19th century.

There’s no doubt that Mr. 85’s iron game is hideous. He hits chunks, skulls, slices, hooks, and whatever other negative golf terms exist to describe shots. There’s also no doubt that he will continue to be horrible. However, there is hope! Mr. 85 could change his target line. Tucked pin surrounded by bunkers? Go for the middle. Island green? Go for the middle. More than 200 out over water? Lay up.

Let’s take a specific example: second shot on 18 at bay hill from 210 out with the pin back right.

Mr. 85’s opinion: “Here comes a controlled power butter drawfade right at the pin!”

Mr. 85 reality: Too gruesome to be explained in this column. Not for the faint-hearted.

Solution: Go for left and long of the green where your chunk, skull, slice, and hook will all find grass and where you can chip on and make your 5, which is 2.5 strokes below your current average after choosing That-Which-Is-Too-Gruesome-To-Be-Explained.

Mr. 85 might be asking: well, at what distance should I stop aiming for the middle and start aiming at the pin? 150 yards? Answer: Hmmm….yeahhh…. how about at 100 yards and under just to be safe.

Driving:

The good news with the irons is that the worst Mr. 85 can do (usually) is hit it in the water. That means a nice drop up to where it entered the hazard! The driver, conversely, can introduce a whole new level of punishment in the form of white stakes.

The problem with Mr. 85’s driving is that he believes that he hits ‘ehhhh…. around 70% of my fairways?’ when in reality he’s hit 619 banana slices in a row. Now fast forward to Mr. 85 teeing off on a hole with an array of beautiful, soon to be damaged houses down the right side. Now fast forward to banana slice 620. Now fast forward to Mr. 85 calculating how long it would take him to hop the fence, hit a nice recovery shot back to the fairway without taking too big a divot off of the back yard lawn, and hop back over the fence, all before the angry pitbull in the yard tries to eat his FootJoys and the drunken group behind him gets rowdy. And that’s the best case scenario – worse case is Mr. 85’s playing partners catch him trying to play his shot from out of bounds.

If the latter happens, he would have to re-tee where he will be hitting 3. 3! With no progress made! Remember the beating you took from Old Tom Morris’ brassie? This is way worse. This is like taking Old Tom Morris’ spoonie, dipping it in a pool of anthrax, spearing a beaver with it, feeding it to an alligator, and then having it bite your leg while you’re doing the move where you take your shoes off to play the ball on the edge of the lake even though the sign CLEARLY said to beware of anthrax gators.

Solution: realistically map out your tee shots in a dispersion pattern that you can then adjust your target line on. That means Mr. 85 needs to know that he hits mostly boomerang slices and on the hole that has the houses down the right side needs to pick a new line down the left.

Conclusion

In short, we have learned that penalties from iron shots in the hazard or drives out of bounds are absolutely devastating to Mr. 85’s rounds. The value of the short game, while still a good opportunity for improvement, pales in comparison with the simple changes one can make in the target line. Follow these directions correctly and you will accomplish your goal of being slightly less terrible at golf.

Updated 6/20
Yikes. Once again, our prowess for picking tournaments is pretty poor. See correct answers below:

Overall:
Winner: Webb Simpson
Winning Score: +1.
Runner Up: GMac and Michael Thompson.
Low Amateur: Jordan Speith.
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Michael Thompson, John Peterson. THIS IS WHAT I MEAN BY “UKNOWN”–AS IN, NO ONE KNOWS WHO THE F THEY ARE!
Most difficult hole vs. par: 6, but I contend it would have been 16 if they hadn’t moved the tees up on Sunday.
Easiest hole vs. par: 17.
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Missed the cut.
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 4 – Furyk, GMac, Els, Goosen
Will there be an ace?: Yes.
…(assume there is) Which hole: 13.
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: Furyk definitely lost it

First Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Tiger
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Goosen and Vijay shot 75; ZJ shot 77. no one won.
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Westwood
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: 69 for GMac on day 1
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Ryo shot 71 on day 1 (followed by 78 and MC on day 2)

Second Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Tiger shot 70. Phil and Bubba shot 71. Close.
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Goosen and ZJ shoot 70
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Westwood and Donald shoot 72; Rory shoots 73.
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Furyk with the 69
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Johnson shoots 74 FTW. WTF?

Original 6/13:
Alright Ladies and Gents, this week marks the 112th playing of our National Championship.  The tournament will take place in LG’s backyard – the Lake Course at the Olympic Club.  Given LG’s inside knowledge of the course, clearly he should win (and already has because he has inside knowledge).

Without further distraction, our predictions:

LG:

Overall:
Winner: TW.
Winning Score: -3.
Runner Up: Sergio Garcia.
Low Amateur: Patrick Cantlay.
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Aaron Baddeley.
Most difficult hole vs. par: par-3 Third.
Easiest hole vs. par: Par-4 Seventh.
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Make the Cut.
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 3.
Will there be an ace?: No.
…(assume there is) Which hole: 15.
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: TW will win it.

First Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: TW gets off to a rocky start.  Bubba takes the win on day 1.
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Hate to say it, but probably ZJ.
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Luke shoots even for the win.
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Sergio.
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Fowler with the win on day 1.

Second Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Tiger makes a charge.
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: ZJ again, unfortunately.  probably with a +3
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rory comes back to make the cut.
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Sergio gives a couple back.  Furyk pulls out the win.
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?:  DJ.  Did you see him at the St. Jude?

JK:

Overall:
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Winning Score: Even
Runner Up: Rickie Fowler
Low Amateur: LG, when he finds out he has to work instead of watch the open. But seriously, Cantlay
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Rooting for Tim Weinhart, local pro from Atlanta who made the field through qualifying.
Most difficult hole vs. par: Any of them could be. There isn’t an easy hole on the course. Let’s go with 16.
Easiest hole vs. par: 18
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): make the cut. He’s not in good form after choking at the St. Jude
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 0
Will there be an ace?: no
…(assume there is) Which hole: I said NO!
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: No one wins the US Open.

First Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Bubba
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: ZJ
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rors
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Sergio
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Fowler

Second Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Phil
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Vijay
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rors
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Furyk
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: DJ

Predictions: Masters 2012

April 10, 2012

This being one of our favorite posts to go through each year, we had to come out of hibernation to get our Masters predictions on board. I’m excited that the year is starting over again. Tiger has already won once at a real PGA event, and the excitement is back in the game.

On the wake of a pretty poor showing last year (see https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/conversation-masters-predictions/), LG and I look to fall far short of our mark set last year.

So, without further ado, here’s our predictions:

original predictions posted 4/3. updated answers in bold posted 4/10.

JK:
Winner: Tiger Woods —-> uh. no. bubba
Winning Score: -10 —-> YES! I GOT ONE!
Runner Up: Phil Mickelson —-> oosthuizen in the playoff. Phil T-3, though. Not bad
Low Amateur: I wish I could say Randall Lewis, but it will probably be Patrick Cantlay —-> YES! I GOT ANOTHER! WOO HOO!
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Chez Reavie —-> m/c. The only real “unknown” in the top 10 was Peter Hansen
Most difficult hole vs. par: 11 —-> i think this was it, but can’t confirm
Easiest hole vs. par: 13 —-> same as above
Last Year’s Winner (Charl Schwartzel) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): make the cut, but be outside of the Top 10. —-> correct – T50
Sandy Lyle Will…(Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): miss the cut, yet again —-> CORRECT!
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 3 —-> just 1 – PHIL
How many times will Hank Haney’s book be referenced on Sunday? twice —-> 0. sad
When will Sergio Garcia implode? Front 9 on Sunday —-> shot 40 on the front 9 on saturday, but started out with a double and two bogeys on sunday. I’m going to say this is correct, even though he finished T12
Dustin Johnson will… hit some golf balls really, really far, but he can’t chip well enough to compete. I’ll put him in the Top 10 at best, more likely 15th or so. —->uhg.
US Open Champion (Rory McIlroy) will … play better than he did on the back 9 last year. Made cut but outside of top 10. —->T40 shooting 77-76 on the weekend. CORRECT!
British Open Champion (Darren Clarke) will … show up drunk. MC. —-> also CORRECT. lift your pint Darren
PGA Champion (Keegan Bradley) will … MC. Belly putters don’t work at Augusta. —-> nope – T27. not bad for keegan. of course, now his winning percentage has been cut in half for majors, but whatever.
World #1 (Luke Donald) will … Top 10. Still no major for the world #1. Sad. —-> T32. why are we talking about luke donald?
What will be the major storyline of the tournament? Tiger playing just like he did in 1997. —-> Oosthuizen’s double-eagle, bubba winning dramatically, a bunch of guys in contention…great tourney this year. can’t wait for ‘013.

LG:
Winner: TW! —-> wrong
Winning Score: -14 —-> wrong. see JK answer above for the CORRECT answer
Runner Up:  Rory —-> wrong.
Low Amateur: Screw it.  Lewis.  Too good a story not to pick him. —-> wish it was right, but it’s still WRONG. however, see JK answer above for the CORRECT answer
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Jason Dufner. (I’m going to call him an unknown b/c he has no wins). —-> WRONG. although dufner was in it, 75-75 wont get it done on the weekend.
Most difficult hole vs. par: 10 —-> can’t confirm, but i’m pretty sure you’re wrong, just by the answers above
Easiest hole vs. par: 13 —->when you copy JK, you get the right answer. Imagine that.
Last Year’s Winner (Charl Schwartzel) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut):  fizzle out.  Make the cut, but then shoot even for the weekend. —-> pretty much yah. lots of fizzle.
Sandy Lyle Will…(Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut):  Who?  MC. —-> wrong. the correct answer was “solo last place.” nice try though.
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 4 —-> just one. phil the thrill.
How many times will Hank Haney’s book be referenced on Sunday? 0.  Tiger’s “Thanksgiving Fiasco,” on the other hand…. 18. —-> thank god, no.
When will Sergio Garcia implode? Saturday.  on 12. —-> he birdied 12 on saturday, so you’re completely WRONG
Dustin Johnson will… be eating ice cream on the couch.  Keep up with the news, JK. http://espn.go.com/golf/masters12/story/_/id/7770093/2012-masters-dustin-johnson-withdraws-unspecified-injury —->ice cream? didn’t you mean coke?
US Open Champion (Rory McIlroy) will … Lead the charge into the weekend and then watch Tiger walk right by him on the back 9. —-> uhh…i’m pretty sure he bested Tiger here. WRONG
British Open Champion (Darren Clarke) will … enjoy the first two days in the ropes and the last two outside the ropes.  MC. —-> yah. we all saw this coming. at least he enjoyed the beer.
PGA Champion (Keegan Bradley) will … Top 10. —->wrong again
World #1 (Luke Donald) will … not hit the ball far enough to matter – make the cut. —-> well…yah. pretty much
What will be the major storyline of the tournament?  Phil Michelson chokes on pimento and cheese sandwich…Or Tiger wins 5th green jacket.  Yeah.  That one. —-> Phil finishes T-3. that was a much bigger story.

as for your “bold prediction”….a little too bold buddy.

congrats to bubba–and to the guy who caught Oosthuizen’s ball in the stands…that lucky SOB.

I recently played Southland Golf Course in Stone Mountain/Lithonia, Georgia, and am providing this review to the readers of the PF.

At the PF, we strive to provide (when we can) a review of a course for the average Joe who just wants to get value out his Sunday round. Although a spectacular review, LG’s post about Pebble Beach (located here, if you want to check it out) is the exception for what we intend to review. As such, today’s review will not be in the clouds of playing a spectacular golf course, but rather will be giving the general reader an honest review of a course he or she might play this weekend. Without further ado, I review Southland.

A little background–I grew up not far from Southland. When I was in high school a friend landed a job there and often got me onto the course for little cost. Obviously, I’ve become familiar with the course over time and have an understanding of the layout that comes only with a sustained ability to play a course consistently.

In the 90s, Southland was a private club sustained by the neighborhood surrounding it. It opened its doors to the public around 2000 and was shortly thereafter bought by a group called “Eagle Greens.” Many in the Atlanta area will remember Eagle Greens for its buying and revitalizing of many courses in the area. The business model was to hire young, fresh-out-of-college superintendents so that the courses could pay them lower salaries and, thereby, become profitable. The business model must not have worked in the long run, because Eagle Greens is now defunct. During the height of Southland’s membership with Eagle Greens, the course was spectacular; in fantastic shape, manicured, with lots of perks and inexpensive. They had GPS on the carts (in the early and mid 2000s, when GPS was kind of chic), and the cost of a round was only in the $35-ish range (with cart on a weekend!).

However, long before Eagle Greens went away, the group sold Southland to Korean Air Lines. KAL has a habit of purchasing courses and running them into the ground. They make no attempt to maintain the courses, and they basically make profits off of the goodwill that the courses have had with players before until no one patronizes the course anymore. KAL killed the first course where I first broke 80 (Atlanta International, shooting 77). They ran Southland into the ground. I played it several years ago–2008 or 2009, probably–and was told by the pro shop that the course was in nice shape, only to find that every green had been aerated and was COVERED with sand. I vowed not to go back.

However, nostalgia go the best of me. A friend told me it was getting better, and–frankly–they had the earliest tee time this Sunday, so I decided to bite.

Because I grew up playing the (largely) wide-open public courses in the city of Atlanta, Southland is a course that bothers me. The heavily-wooded course contains a number of blind shots, dead spots, and traps (not sand, although it has those too). For my review, I tend to think that Southland over-penalizes mishits in many cases. A shot that is 10-yards offline could cost you 3 strokes trying to get out of the woods and back into play. Generally, the course is narrow, and the layout can be a little crazy. For example, the 8th hole (pictured above) is a 300+ yard straightaway hole from the white tees–pretty simple, just over water. From the blue tees, however, you actually have to hit down a hill to the area where the white tees are located and then hit from (basically right in front of) the white tees to the green, 260+ yards away. The shot from the blues to the white tees is about 180 yards. So, for me, I played a par 4 hitting 6-iron then 3-wood. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, no matter which course/hole you’re playing. This is but one example. Another would be the 11th hole, where a simply 340-yard par 4 can be a nightmare if you try to “go for it.” Playing a 3-iron off the tee is FAR better, as virtually any shot hit with the driver will be lost (for reasons that are difficult to explain). And the 15th includes a fairway bunker bounded by trees that is less than 100 yards from the green; thus, if you’re in that bunker, there is no way to get out without losing shots–unless you are incredibly skilled at hitting 70-yard cut and punched 5-irons out of bunkers. This kind of course bothers me, as my game is typically not defined by exacting precision, but is closer to a “bomb and gouge” style. If I bomb on Southland, there’s no way to gouge, unfortunately.

Such criticisms could be levied at some of the greatest courses in the world: Pine Valley, Cypress Point, Harbour Town, Bethpage, and Pinehurst could all be called “unfair” for the same or similar reasons; that’s just a gripe that my game is a square peg for the round hole that is this type of golf (I’m working on it, but the process is tedious).

However, KAL did some real damage to Southland. Although it is under new management that is trying to bring it back, it simply isn’t maintained to the level it needs to be. The greens were better than many places in Atlanta, considering many places lost their greens last year. Moreover, Southland doesn’t get much play since many of the patrons were completely turned off by KAL’s management that they wrote the course off completely (and now patronize nearby Mystery Valley, which I will review later). So those are some benefits. However, there is little or no sand in most of the bunkers. The bunker edges are not trimmed and, in fact, show signs of water erosion. There is pooling of water in fairways for no apparent reason. The course is muddy in places and baked in others. Months-old grass clippings are all over the fairways, piled in lines by rainwaters flowing down the fairways at some point. Many tee boxes are unlevel, lack grass, and have inordinate amounts of sand on them. Such maintenance issues make the course difficult and unenjoyable, as it’s nearly impossible to find a consistent lie, even in the best fairway. Also, although the pro shop has a collection of….let’s call them “vintage”….equipment for which you can haggel a deal, there is no food service in the pro shop, cart staff, beverage cart, food at the turn, etc.,etc. At $30 on a Sunday morning with a cart, it might be worth it if you were late trying to get a tee time, but if you’re able to play elsewhere, it’s probably be a better bet not to play Southland.

Greens: 8/10
Fairways: 3/10
Other course maintenance: 2/10
Cost: 7/10
Value: 5/10
Pace of Play: 9/10
Pro shop/clubhouse: 1/10

Overall: 4/10