Sunday, January 30, 2011
When I saw Bones tend the flagstick for Phil's third shot at the San Diego Open my first thought was "He's not allowed to do that!". I distinctly recalled a recent magazine article that talked about the flag being tended and pulled for a shot from off the green, and the article was quite clear in its assertion that this was not allowed. So I looked up good ol' Rule 17 in the Rules of Gowf, dealing with "The Flagstick". Rule 17-1 deals with tending the flagstick. It states "Before making a stroke from anywhere on the course, the player may have the flagstick attended, removed or held up to indicate the position of the hole. If the flagstick is not attended, removed or held up before the player makes a stroke, it must not be attended, removed or held up during the stroke or while the player’s ball is in motion if doing so might influence the movement of the ball." So, Phil is in the right because clearly Bones was attending the flag prior to the shot. The article in question clearly deals with the situation where someone's hitting a shot that's not expected to go in, and someone runs up to jerk the flag out of the hole.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I'd be the first to admit it; I'm an absolute 100% golf geek. I read about golf and I practice golf and I watch a hell of a lot of golf on TV. Knowing I allowed myself to drop off the radar for the past six months or so, let me throw out my thoughts about what happened at the end of the 2010 season, and what my thoughts are about the 2011 season:
- I think the major winners of 2010 will have more impact on the future of professional golf than any set of major winners since 1994, when Els and Olazabal both won their first majors. We know how talented Phil is, and I think Martin, Louis, and Greame will be competing for top honors for a long time to come.
- I think no golf contest has looked better than The Open at St. Andrews in 2010, in HD. With the sun setting on the course it was absolutely gorgeous.
- I think DJ has some significant golf karma coming back his way, after the debacles at Pebble and the PGA. He'll will a lot, and he'll win big.
- I think Tiger will come back with a vengeance, and win a major and at least a couple of tour events. His game is too good, his focus too strong for him to blank out for another year. I think he wins the PGA in Atlanta.
- I think this is the year Lee Westwood just runs ramshod over the rest of the pro players the way we've gotten used to seeing Tiger do in the last decade. I'd say he wins a major and three to four tour victories. His game and his mindset is just too solid to fail at this point. I think he'll take The Open at St. George's.
- I think Martin Kaymer wins the US Open this year. It's a very Prussian setup, and nobody is better prepared to play it than he is.
- I think AK wins the Masters this year. He has the game and the mindset to make magic happen at Augusta. He has more Seve in him since, well, Seve.
- I think this is the year that the old-school PGA pros like Furyk and Stricker start to fall behind. We saw it last year with Perry. Their generation is finally gone. The tour now belongs to the likes of DJ and Sean O'Hair and Hockey Hoffman and The Smurf and Bubba.
- I think by the end of the year Rory's swing will still go down as the best in the business. And he will still look a LOT like Danny Noonan in Caddyshack, or Danny Boyd if you read golf related comic strips in the 70s like I did.
- I think Bo Van Pelt is the dark horse on the PGA Tour in 2011. He's very VERY good.
A precious few of you may actually be following this blog, and if you do you would know where this story is coming from. For the newcomers, allow me to summarize: Picked up the game around 13 in the old country (Sweden). Got to a 9 handicap by 17. Moved to the US. Played on HS and minor College teams, somewhat sporadically. Allowed non-golf life to get in the way and didn't play much for about 15 years. Had back surgery in the late fall of 2008. Bored, I asked someone to bring me the box of golf books I had in the attic. Started reading, and fell in love with golf all over again. Been working on my game fairly ardently throughout the 2009 and 2010 seasons. In 2009 I was having a hard time breaking into the 80s consistently. I'd shoot an 89 on a par 71 or a 91 on a par 72, but rarely would I beat the imaginary bogey man. For 2010 I set myself the goal of being at a 11 handicap by the end of the season, and being a sub-10 handicap by the end of the 2011 season. In 2010 I played much better. Clearly the work I did in 2009 carried over, and I started beating the bogey man with fair regularity. In mid summer I lost my job, which had a neutral impact on my golf game. I did have more time on my hands to practice and play, but I also had less money laying around the cost of practicing and playing. I had bought a card at my local driving range, and I continued to use that up, and I was able to get a couple of really good rounds in in the middle of the beautiful Texas fall. Here's another twist I threw at my game around this time: I started walking and carrying my bag, and I moved back to the blue tees from the front ones I had been playing in my beer rounds. Now, walking and carrying at age 45 is never going to be easy. I had several new playing partners ask just how old I was, and be shocked that I'm "still carrying". I did explain to them that I was "carrying AGAIN". It also takes a bit to get used to the different pace of walking the course when everybody around you is driving a cart. The first couple of holes are the toughest, then you settle into a routine. Even so, all these things considered, I played some of my best golf EVER in these rounds. I shot an 85 and an 82 from the back tees while dragging my own bag across the course, and my handicap plummeted down to a 12.2 mark. MOST satisfying. Not to feign superiority, but the only term I could come up with for these rounds is "real golf". You walk the course, you carry your bag, you play from the appropriate tees. I'm still out of work, so there's no telling what 2011 will be like. One of the key parameters that's allowed me to improve my game over the past couple of years is that I had a driving range just minutes from work. I could go there for lunch and pitch for 3o minutes, or hit a small bucket of balls. The importance of touching the clubs regularly can NOT be overstated. I still think I can get into the single digits this year, as my goal was at the outset of 2010. In addition I've added another long term goal for my game. Going into my 46:th year at a 12.2 I would like to get to a 7.4 handicap by the time I'm 50, so that I could enter into the US Senior Amateur Championship. I mean, really ... how cool would it be just to be able to compete for a spot? I love my golfing friends, and I love the game and it's players and fanatics. Until we meet again: Keep'em in the short stuff.
President Obama delivered his "State Of The Union" address this week. And Tiger Woods is making his return to professional golf. And the kilted one had done what I hoped never to do, allow myself to fall completely off the radar into the ethereal ether. So I'm going to try to wrap my head around golf and life once again, focusing on the state of my game and the state of the tour. Some golf writers focus strictly on their own game, and tips and techniques to improve it as much as possible. Some write strictly about the tour, but as a reader I'm somewhat left to wonder about what kind of a golf game that writer enjoys on his own weekend. The good ones cover both.