Grouchy Golf Blog

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 at 9:48 AM

Inside Approach - Best Golf Training Aid?

Golf training aids are a dime a dozen. No other sport has spawned such an array of gizmos designed to teach people how to play a sport. There are weighted clubs, hinged clubs, molded grips, alignment aids, impact bags, positive energy bracelets, laser-guidance systems, you name it.

But I hear that the one golf aid that delivers real results is the Inside Approach. Heck, it's even endorsed by the greatest golfer of all-time, Jack Nicklaus himself.

It's designed to fix the common "over the top" movement that produces that ugly slice generated by the vast majority of golfers. While it may be "holy grail" for banana ballers, the only thing I could think about as I was watching the Inside Approach infomercial was damn that looks cheap. And when I say "cheap", I mean cheap in construction and cheap to make. It literally looks like it was pieced together by some 6 year-old kid let loose in the plumbing department at Home Depot. I was totally floored when the price appeared on my TV: $79.99! Are they serious?

I know the dollar doesn't go as far as it used to, but no person with at least half of a brain can look at this thing and say, "yeah, that looks like it's worth 80 bucks." Naturally, knock-offs such as the $24.95 "Slice Buster" sprouted immediately to capitalize. But is such a device even worth that much? Even if it cures your slice for good?

I say, "Hell no." I figure that I could make it myself out of PVC pipe for about the price of 2 Big Macs. But lo and behold, the guys over at Free Golf Info Forums beat me to it. Check out the "Do-It-Yourself Inside Approach" (you need to be logged in to view). They have detailed plans, instructions and photos for anyone to build their own version of the Inside Approach. Sorry Jack.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005 at 10:09 AM

Them's Fightin' Words...

Fights seem to be a common occurrence in sports these days. Players vs. players, fans vs. fans, fans vs. players, parents of players vs. parents of other players, players vs. their spouses, Ron Artest vs. everyone; the list goes on and on. We see it in hockey, soccer, baseball, football, basketball; the list goes on and on.

Golf has managed to avoid such pugilistic tendencies. However, there have been recent events that suggest a fight in golf may be just around the corner.

At this year's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Vijay's pal Tom Pernice Jr. took a verbal jab at Tiger's selective playing schedule. Pernice said, "I personally like what Vijay is doing out here, playing 30 or 31 events. We have 43 title sponsors, but Tiger thinks we have 18. Right now, Vijay is doing more for the PGA Tour than anybody."

Like an annoying little gnat, Pernice continued to pester Tiger at the Bay Hill Invitational. This time around, Pernice asked the PGA Tour office to test Tiger's driver because he thought that the club head may be illegal. In baseball, this would be the equivalent of some major league bench warmer asking MLB to test Barry Bonds for steroid use. Can you imagine what Mr. Bonds would do to this guy?

In the April 8, 2005 issue of GolfWorld magazine, John Hawkins penned "Tiger's Teacher," an interesting article on the relationship between Tiger and his coach, . But the most interesting tidbit chronicled in Hawkins' article had nothing to do with Tiger and Hank's relationship, it had to do with that of Hank and Jim McLean's. Quite surprisingly, Hank claimed that Mclean is "...the biggest a------ I've ever met in my life, and that's not off the record." We can only guess what word Hank said, but I doubt that it was "axelrod." Now anyone who receives the Golf Channel is familiar with Mr. McLean. This guy is like the Mr. Rodgers of golf. It doesn't seem that he could harm a gnat, and I mean a real one, not Tom Pernice Jr. It's almost unfathomable that McLean could ever incite the anger and hatred that spawned Hank's comment. Maybe McLean's pleasant and wholesome TV persona is just a front to conceal his true personality.

This leads us to the most recent incident, vs. . During the first round of this year's Masters, Singh complained to rules officials that Phil was leaving overly large spike marks in the greens. On the 13th hole, two officials approached Phil at two different times to inspect his spikes. An infuriated Phil confronted Vijay in the locker room. What was really said or done will probably remain a secret since Phil shifted immediately into damage-control mode to preserve his pleasant and wholesome image. Interestingly, this incident comes about a month after the airing of an episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" where Vijay asked, "Is that the true Phil? Is that the true person? I don't know." Well, it seems that Vijay is intent on revealing the true Phil. Whether this will eventually result in fisticuffs, we can only hope.

So it seems that there have been a number of verbal spars in professional golf recently. But only verbal. A physical fight in professional golf is still about as likely as seeing Gary McCord on a broadcast. Surely, you'll never hear, "I went to a hockey game and a golf tournament broke out."

Monday, April 11, 2005 at 4:36 PM

So Tonight I'm Gonna Party Like It's 1999...

It wouldn't surprise me if Tiger was humming that classic Prince tune, "1999" as he was strolling around Augusta National last weekend. Because his swing is back, or at least mostly back, like it was back in 1999.

However, it didn't look that way at first. During the 1st round of last week's Masters, Tiger hit some wayward shots like the Tiger of new. Actually, he hit some stuff that, seemingly, only a high-handicapper would produce. We all dropped our jaws when we saw Tiger putt his ball off the green and into Rae's Creek on the 13th green. On another hole, he "girly-man" putted his ball up a slope that quickly reversed course and rolled all the way off the green. On the 2nd hole, Tiger chili-dipped his driver off the tee (even I haven't done that in years). Tiger took a divot about 6 inches behind that ball before it duck-hooked left, flying only about 100-yards.

After the 1st round, Tiger stood at two over and his chances to win were looking slim. Then, just when you thought it was all over for Mr. Woods, he turned it on. In the next 11-hour span he registered 12 birdies over 26 holes, leaping up the leaderboard over 30 places to take sole possession of 2nd. The leader, Chris DiMarco, held a sizeable 4-shot margin over Tiger when play resumed on Sunday morning to complete the delayed 3rd round. However, by the time I finished cooking my breakfast, Tiger not only caught up to DiMarco, he blew by him. I almost coughed up my bagel.

By the time the final round started, Tiger held a 3-shot lead over DiMarco. Tiger continued his superb play, but DiMarco didn't wilt. In fact, DiMarco stayed step-for-step with Tiger and cut into Tiger's lead. It looked like DiMarco would finally catch Tiger when he hit his tee shot stiff at the historic par-3 16th hole while Tiger overshot the green into an area littered with "body bags." Tiger's ball settled on the fringe up against the "2nd cut" at a location where getting up-and-down would be difficult at best. But Tiger did one better. He pulled out a miracle and holed his chip for birdie. DiMarco could only par, giving Tiger a 2-shot lead.

DiMarco fought back, and even sent it into a sudden-death playoff. But somehow, most of us knew that it was over at the 16th. In the end, it turned out to be a great Masters that thrilled the fans, I mean patrons. DiMarco deserves major props for answering everything that Tiger threw at him. Whether Tiger's got his groove back, it remains to be seen. But it's lookin' pretty damn good right now.

P.S. While my pick to win the Masters, Luke Donald, came up a little short this year, look for great things from him in the near future.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 at 9:24 AM

Mad Props to Sports Bloggers Live

I just want to give a quick shout out to Jamie, Chris, Erin, Bob, Craig, Shawn, and Brian from the AOL Internet Radio Show, "Sports Bloggers Live."

They were kind enough to let me pontificate about my conflicting feelings regarding The Masters on their show. When I heard them discussing how Hootie Johnson sounds like Foghorn Leghorn, I knew that these were my kind of people.

Check out their website, www.sportsbloggerslive.com where you can listen to their show.

Jamie also runs a great blog that highlights content from sports blogs. It's a must visit for any sports nut. Check it out, it's called "Mr. Irrelevant."

Monday, April 04, 2005 at 12:12 PM

Augusta National - One of Golf's Axis of Evil?

The Masters at Augusta National is my favorite Golf event. Maybe even my favorite sporting event period.

It just so happens that my favorite golf TV broadcaster, CBS, covers The Masters. Sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn't it?

Well not so much. You see, Augusta National represents many of the things that I despise in golf. Led by Chairman Hootie Johnson, Augusta has a long history of being pretty damn uptight and high-fallutin. They take issue with anything that doesn't agree with the 50s era that they choose to live. Remember Martha Burk's protest of Augusta National's all-male membership policy in 2003? She would have been more successful protesting the war in Iraq. If there is one place on earth where women will never roam, it's the member's only clubhouse at Augusta. The only good thing about Augusta's backward mindset is that you can still get a Pimento Cheese sandwich for a buck, whatever that is. I can't eat it anyway since I'm lactose-intolerant.

But the worst offense committed by Hootie and the Blowhards is their Stevie Williams-like bullying of CBS Sports. Hootie maintains that they have no control over their TV partner. Well, technically Angelina Jolie has no control over me. But if she promised to kiss me with those bee-stung lips every time I played golf in a dress, I'd be at Ann Taylor to fill my closet with size 4s pronto. Similarly, Augusta controls something that all sports television broadcasters would wear a dress for: The Masters television contract. It is the holy grail of golf broadcasting. Because Augusta refuses to grant long-term television contracts, they really have their TV broadcaster by the cojones. Since 1956, Augusta has granted a series of one-year TV deals to CBS Sports. There's no way that CBS will ever do anything to kill its golden egg-laying goose and everyone knows it. As a result, Augusta oversees CBS' coverage like Big Brother, and CBS knows that they must please The Master(s).

For example, Augusta limits CBS Sports to broadcast only four minutes of commercials each hour. In addition, CBS must receive final approval of all commercial copy from Augusta. When the champion is introduced at Butler Cabin to received his green jacket, an Augusta representative, not CBS, asks the first on-air question.

But the most regoddamndiculous thing that I've heard are Augusta's various linguistic rules for The Masters TV broadcast. The long-standing rumor has it that Augusta dictates the "proper" language to be used during the broadcast. Listen carefully to The Masters broadcast. Supposedly, there can be no mention of prize money. Certain familiar terms are blasphemous. "Fans" is considered an obscene four-letter word that must be replaced with "patrons." Similarly, "rough" must be termed "the second cut." Violations are often met with draconian penalties.

In 1966, Augusta took offense at Jack Whitaker's reference to a "mob" scene around the 18th green, and he was removed from the broadcasts immediately thereafter.

During the 1994 telecast, Gary McCord said that the greens were so slick they looked "bikini-waxed", and that it was so difficult to get up-and-down if you flew the 17th green there were "body bags" behind it. McCord was taken off the CBS team the following year and hasn't been back since.

Of course, Augusta appearing innocent to the public is a major part of the deal. Hootie has claimed several times that the club doesn't decide who CBS uses during the broadcasts. "We really don't make that decision. CBS puts together that team," said Hootie. "That's their call. We don't try to structure their organization."

Of course, CBS would never disagree with The Master(s). Sean McManus, the president of CBS Sports, has confirmed that CBS makes the decision annually. "We make the decision which is best for our program," McManus has said. "Year in, year out, it's the one golf program people want to watch the most."

Yeah right. Gary McCord is one of the most entertaining personalities in golf, period. He and David Feherty make golf appealing to the masses. Together, their wit and chemistry is best for any golf coverage. McManus knows that. His statement's obviously a cry for sympathy. He really meant, "We all know that these guys who run Augusta are wackos. But what can I do? The moment we stop kissing their arses, our TV contact won't be renewed and I'm out of a job. Please understand."

It's been over 10 years since Gary McCord last broadcast from The Masters. Think of all the brilliant commentary that we have been deprived. And for what reason? A couple of innocent words that would be suitable for any G-rated program? To be fair, the Masters television rights fees CBS pays to Augusta are far less than that of similar sports events. But Augusta's absurd policies don't just punish CBS and Gary McCord, they punish all of us. Kim Jong Il would be proud.

P.S. You'd have to be ridiculous not to pick one of the Big 4 (Tiger, Els, Mickelson, Vijay) to win The Masters. Therefore, my pick is Luke Donald. With 3 top 10 finishes this year, he's primed. Luke, may the Force be with you!