Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Moving my blog

I've been using Blogger for a couple of years now, but I've grown very tired of the editing tools that are available.  It adds blank lines at random after I've added a picture to my blog.

Consequently, I'm moving on to Wordpress.  Please find me there, at

Keep'em in the short stuff.

Give Tiger A Break

Boy, golf media is one fickle group. The drastic turnaround in their attitude towards Tiger Woods is entertaining to watch, but leaves them with very little integrity left. In addition, their analysis is in my mind generally incorrect.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The big question is usually phrased along the lines of "When will Tiger win again?" or "Is Tiger playing well enough to win?". Most of the answers I hear are "Don't know" and a resounding "No". I think this is a result of the commentators being blinded by Tiger's history of incredible excellence rather than an objective look at statistics, and I personally disagree strongly to both answers.

My answers would be "It could be any given week" and "Yes, definitely".

If you look at Tiger's recent performance, and ignore the fact that the stats are for him, you'll find the following:

  • Five top ten finishes in his last nine tournaments, going back to the end of last year.
  • Finishes of T4, T10, T24, and T33 in his last four tournaments prior to his premature withdrawal from The Players.
Just looking at those numbers, not knowing the player, you would definitely say that he's playing well enough to win. Players with much poorer track records win touraments all the time.

To further dissect his game we can look at his stats for the year.
  • He ranks 13:th in GIRs, in spite of being 186:th in total driving. This tells me his ballstriking is better than people give him credit for.
  • This is confirmed by him being 1:st in approaches from 125-150 yards (when it comes to distance from the pin), and 4:th in approaches from 150-175 yards.
  • He's 25:th in scoring average.
  • I found this particularly interesting: He's 17:th in scoring average before the cut, and 19:th in scoring average on Sunday. This is offset by a third round scoring ranking of 174:th.
So, his iron play and scrambling is solid. Even with his poor driving and putting he's been scoring reasonably. All he needs is for one of those two elements to improve just a little bit and he'll be competing every week as we're used to.

Having said that, if you look at the OWGR ( you will see that his drop in ranking will continue even more rapidly going forward if he doesn't start winning. Nine of the next thirteen events that are going to drop off the formula are either first or second place finishes.

At the beginning of the season I predicted that Tiger will win this year, and that he will win the PGA Championship. I'm sticking with this prediction.

Keep'em in the short stuff.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Quality Byron Coverage

I highly recommend everyone checks out my buddy Tony's coverage of the HP Byron Nelson Championship this weekend. He's live and on the ground, and gives great insight and perspective both as an amateur golfer and a fan. It's all at
Keep'em in the short stuff.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bridgestone Ball Chat

I decided to go about finding a lower price ball to be my standard ball rather than the tour-level V1 and 330 permutations I've been abusing over the last year or two. I decided to give Bridgestone's online ball fitting a try. Big surprise, it came up with the most expensive ball they make. So I poked around to see if there was any further information about which of their e-series balls, (at the lower price point) might be a good fit for me, but there was none. Then I noticed their site offering to chat real time with a representative. Having used these types of services before, I was sceptical but I gave it a shot. Lo and behold, I got a very prompt response, and got to have a very in-depth conversation with a staffer who clearly knows quite a bit about what makes golf balls behave a certain way and about their products specifically. "Seamless Jim" was friendly and funny (meaning he got my obscure references), and he got me exactly the information I wanted. He even answered my generic questions about ball terminology.
(No, you won't get to chat with Adrienne Ferreira on the Bridgestone site. I just know I won't find a better excuse to include a picture of the letter-reading hottie from their commercials in my blog)
At the end of the conversation the site offered to send me a transcript of the chat to my email box for my records, which is a nice service.
I highly recommend you give this service a shot if you'd like to have a candid conversation about ball technology. It's like having a product specialst at your beck and call.
Keep'em in the short stuff.
P.S. Do NOT Google "Ball" and "Chat". There's really no telling what kind of a site you'll land on.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Major Props to Salina Municipal

Every now and then in life we come across a diamond in the rough. In Swedish we call this a "Smultron-ställe", so named after the very tasty miniature strawberries that grow wild. To a golfer, a place like this may be a course who's inner and outer qualities belie the expectation based on it's appearance and location.
I came across a place like this last week, when I stole away from a set of very elaborate High School graduation events to play a quick 18 holes in Salina, KS. I didn't know anything about either of the local courses, so I decided to give the Muni a shot. I couldn't have been more pleased. First, the course itself: 18 holes at par 70, with the Blue tees measuring 6,500 yards and the Whites 6,212 yards. The two nines are fundamentally different in character. The front nine is pretty flat and open; while the back nine don't have a flat hole in the bunch. The rough is open, and it's easy to locate your ball even if you miss the fairway. There is no water, and the biggest risk is where OB cuts fairly sharply into the playable areas on three holes of the back nine (two of which I found with my own ball). The holes are close together, making it a great course to walk, and I did note several walkers when I was out. I would caution you to make sure you mark your own ball, as there's a good chance it'll wind up on a different hole if you're not accurate. For as early in the spring as it was when I was there (temperatures in the upper 40s), both the greens and fairways were in VERY good shape. The greens rolled true and consistently, and the fairway was dense. Secondly, the people were great. Very friendly staff in the shop, and the groups I came across on the course were very prompt and courteous about letting me play through. Thirdly, the practice facilities were very accomodating. A large putting green that appeared to be very consistently prepared as compared to the course. They also had a well manicured pitching and sand green, as well as a large range. The course also has a close connection with the First Tee program. Salina is located where I-70 and I-135 intersect in East-Central Kansas. You may or may not have much reason to be in that neck of the woods, but if you do I highly recommend this course for a casual round. Their website is Keep'em in the short stuff.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Seve is taking a turn for the worse

According to the official website of Severiano Ballesteros, his "neurological condition has suffered a severe deterioration." While no details are available, it appears it's getting to be very dire straits for one of the true legends in professional golf.The European Open is in Spain this week, appropriately enough, but it's turning out to be a double edged sword. Players like Olazabal and Jimenez are not talking to reporters, and there is public mourning going on. "This had to be the saddest competition in terms of ambiance today. I've never seen anything like it."said Spanish Open spokesperson Maria Acacia Lopez-Bachiller in an AP interview. If you're not familiar with Seve, I recommend re-reading Jaime Diaz' piece from Golf Digest last year ( My own tribute, for all it's worth, is in the form of a cocktail ( All in all, it's a bit of a bummer day.

Golf Writing Snobbery

I was just informed by an unnamed golf tournament that they don't have enough space to allow web writers and bloggers to receive credentials to their tournament. This, of course, after the fact that The Colonial opened their doors to me last year, and I had a great time at their event ( And I know that organizations such as Golf Writers of America still stick to their old-fashioned standards of writers having to have been published in print in order for them to even be considered for membership. And as much as I dislike it and disagree with it I guess I can sort of understand this mind set, if it's applied consistently. But then Golf Digest, one of the biggest Golf publications in the world, publish an article that's made up almost exclusively of tweets by one of their writers. I like the tactile sensation of reading a paper, but why would I bother if most of their golf and sports pieces are from newswires that I read 12 hours ago? If you're going to put yourself up on a pedestal, you need to provide the kind of content that justifies it. If you just print electronic content that some generic news service published, how in the world can you look down at other writers of electronic media?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Four Dollar Ball Cost Me Four Weeks

So I was out playing golf with a good friend from The Golf Space about a month ago. We were having a great day, when we got to the tenth hole. I faded my drive into someone's yard at the side of the course. The ball was almost close enough to reach with my driver, but not quite. I'm on my tippy toes and full finger reach, leaning over the steel fence between their yard and the course. STILL can't quite reach the ball. So I sort of thrust myself forward and up, and finally that buys me the extra fraction of an inch I needed to knock the ball in the right direction. My chest smarts a bit, but I give it a rub and go on, and don't think much of it. I don't, that is, until the next time I try to swing the club. It is VERY painful, both on the backswing and on the downswing. I grin and bear it for about another four holes, but in the end I had to walk off the course. I get home and put a lot of ice on it and take a handful of Nuprin. By now I realize it's not my stomach muscles that's hurt, it's my lower right side rib. Three days go by, and it doesn't get any better, so I decide to go to the doctor. It's fractured. It's friggin' fractured. Four to six weeks of recovery. I'm now at about four and a half weeks, and I finally was able to swing a golf club a few days ago. It's not pain free, but at least I was able to hit a few balls without grimacing in pain. I'm SO getting a ball retriever.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The 1,000 Yard Group

Day 1 of the Masters is in the books, and the lasting impression that's going to stay with me is watching the group of Quiros, Woodland, and Vegas play the back nine Thursday afternoon. Their distance is legendary, and I'm sure there were more than one hole where their combined drives measured 1,000 yards, but all of these mad bombers have a lot more depth to themselves and to their game. Firstly, all three of them have won tournaments this year, so clearly their golf games are more complete than you may think. Vegas hit a tricky curling putt for eagle on 15, and then almost made another rainbow on 16. Woodland absolutely stuck iron shots on both 16 and 18 to where he just had a tap-in for birdie. My buddy John made the comment that Quiros' tree-shot on 14 looked like something we would do, but it's very unlikely that we would have gotten away with just a bogey like Alvaro did, sinking a key 20-footer to limit the damage. Then there's the way they played; talking the whole time, joking and laughing and taking their Body English and Body Spanish to new heights with every shot. The crowd really seemed to connect with them. Of course, it's easy to have fun on the golf course when you're playing well, and they were definitely doing that. The three of them played the last six holes a combined twelve shots under par. Woodland alone was six under for his last six holes, and Quiros is obviously in the lead. Credit also needs to go to the course. This is part of what's magical about the Masters tournament, and about Augusta: While it's extremely challenging, a player who gets hot has the opportunity to make up a LOT of ground at the very end of the tournament. This is going to be fun. Keep'em in the short stuff.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My 2011 Masters Picks

I know the tournament is already underway, but here are my picks for the Masters this year. As usual I make four picks, and I force myself to be a little more creative than just picking four out of the top six players in the world. I pick one player from the top ten in the world, one from the next ten (11-20), one from the next ten (21-30) and one player ranked above 30 in the world. GREAME MCDOWELL (#5) – Won the US Open, ruled the Ryder Cup, and swashbuckled with Tiger at the Chevron. Had a run of eight tournaments at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 where his worst finish was T13, so his game appears to be in very good shape. He has already shown he won’t be intimidated by any venue, any situation, or any other player. HUNTER MAHAN (#18) – Five top tens already this year, and a winner twice last year. T10 and T8 in the last two Masters. LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN (#22) – Already a winner this year, and two wins last year, including The Open. T18 and T16 in his last two tournaments here in the US shows that his game is in good shape. If he can get the driver dialed in the way he did at St. Andrews last year he’ll have a distinct advantage in approaching the greens. ANTHONY KIM (#40) – I picked him to win the Masters at the beginning of the year, and I’ll stick with it. Played lights out last year until his injury, then never really recovered. Started out 2011 playing well with T19, T13, and 6:th place finishes, then hit a rough spell, but played well last week. I’d love to see him with a big Augusta logo on his belt buckle on Sunday. Keep’em in the short stuff.