Grouchy Golf Blog

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 9:00 AM

Viewer Mail: Intlvagabond Writes...

The Grouchy Golf Blog welcomes your grouchy golf observations. If you have a grouchy golf observation that you would like to be posted on the Grouchy Golf Blog, please email it to the address in the sidebar. Remember, all submissions become the property of Grouchy Golf Blog. Submissions chosen for publication may be edited for length and clarity.

The following grouchy golf observation was submitted by a grouchy golfer from Hong Kong named "Intlvagabond." It's a great story that we can all sympathize. Thanks Intlvagabond, and may your stocks and golf game go on a bull run!

Golf and Stocks

The sudden realization that I was destined not to improve in golf happened quite inauspiciously at the end of a round in Taipei, almost 10 years after I took up the game. I shot a 108. It was perhaps one of the most indifferent moments in my life. The sense of caring just disappears. There is no more emotional energy left.

It's like buying a stock and watching it drop. At the beginning of the trade, you're all hopeful, you've done the research, and you're ready to get rich. You buy the stock that all of your friend's have recommended you get, kind of like the latest illegal driver by Callaway, and then you start to wait. But it doesn't happen, and then you just start thinking all the time about it. Then suddenly, the stock starts to rise and you start to mentally spend. You think about the new Porsche that you see in the magazines. And illusions of a better way of life starts to appear, the idea of business class over economy - how did you ever handle it in the past?

Then it starts to drop. It goes below your entry price and you think, if it just goes up to where you got in, you'll sell and at least be even. But it never goes back to par, it just keeps sinking. The feeling of sickness at the pit of your stomach becomes more and more unbearable until you have to turn off the screen.

In golf, that feeling is called a quadruple bogey. It’s confirmation that you've blown your round, par is no longer possible for the round. It's over.

When I started golf, my father insisted I take lessons. Best advice I ever got. I supplemented those lessons with magazines, books and videos. I became a student of the game. Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf was ingrained in my mind. I patterned my swing after Seve Ballesteros through imported magazines from Japan. They had all these sequential photographs taken at 1/32 of a second. Somehow, through Hogan and Ballesteros, I managed to hit my forged blades straight and consistent (nobody told me I wasn't supposed to hit blades).

It was 1992 and my golf game was about to take a detour... and not the direction I wanted. Fred Couples just won the Masters and every time a tournament occurred it seemed like it was the Couple's swing clinic. He had the smoothest, silkiest swing. It was hypnotic in a rhythmic even tempo'd way.

And there began my demise.

From a Japanese golf magazine CHOICE, I learned that Fred used a MacGregor Eye-O-Matic 845 Persimmon driver (later to a Boom Boom 9 degree driver) - x/stiff flex, Ram Laser Fx Bore thru 13 degree w/ Dynamic Gold X100 steel shaft (borrowed from Tom Watson), Lynx Parallax 2-PW, 56 and 60 degree Cleveland Classic 588 wedges and a Ping Anser 020 putter.

Guess what I got?

My fundamental, flat, elbow-tucked-in back swing now became an upright, outside-in take-away, looping, flying-elbow back swing. Of course, in reality, I had no where near the timing, eye-hand-coordination that Couple's did.

But I tried.

For a while, whether it was the energy of youth or just not knowing better, I got away with it. My score hit a low of 89 and I was truly happy.

But it was short lived.

Just like stocks, my score took a turn, and I was back into the high nineties.


Friday, July 22, 2005 at 9:55 AM

Wie to Turn Pro in October...

According to Michael Buteau of Bloomberg News, Golfweek magazine reports in its "Forecaddie" section of the July 23, 2005 issue:
"Michelle Wie will turn professional in October and sign a multiyear endorsement contract with Nike Inc.'s golf division worth $10 million to $12 million.

Wie turns 16, the age limit to enter tournaments as a professional on the LPGA Tour, on Oct. 11...[she] will make her professional debut at the LPGA's Samsung World Championships, held Oct. 13-16 in Palm Desert, California."
No source was mentioned, so take this story with a grain of salt. However, if it is true, I think that it's a great decision on the Wie's part. While going pro doesn't necessarily mean that Michelle will be granted full-time status on the LPGA Tour, it will provide the Wies with financial security. As Matt Kuchar learned the hard way, you gotta take the money and run.

I believe that Michelle can play full-time right now on the LPGA. Her results at LPGA tournaments this year speak for themselves. In just six LPGA tournaments, Michelle has already won, but couldn't collect, $530,000. That's good enough for 13th on the money list. She is too good for NCAA golf and too young for the PGA. Hey, if Freddy Adu can play Major League Soccer successfully at age 14, why can't Michelle do the same in golf?

According to the rules, an LPGA member must be at least 18 years old. However, there is a clause where anyone who is at least 16 years old can petition the commissioner for a special exemption. If the LPGA commissioner doesn't grant this exemption to Michelle, then they should just eliminate it altogether because there will never be another 16 year old that deserves it more. The LPGA needs Michelle and I believe that she will become the youngest member of the LPGA. Good luck Michelle!

Photo by Alexanderk/WireImage.com


Monday, July 18, 2005 at 10:23 AM

Tiger Woods Won, I Lost

As everyone and their moms expected, Tiger captured his 10th major championship at the grass-covered lunar landscape of the Old Course at St Andrews. I finally guessed the winner of a major correctly, even though it wasn't much of a stretch. But I'm only allowing myself to select Tiger to win a major once a year, and this was the one that I chose for 2005. As all veteran golf fans know, predicting the winner of a golf tournament is a little like predicting the next earthquake (here in CA). You can have all the expert knowledge and statistical data in the world at your disposal, but it usually doesn't mean squat. But in the case of this year's British Open, so many things pointed to Tiger's unchallenged victory that it seemed like a no-brainer to me: I was sold. I couldn't even think of anyone else who could upset Tiger. He was so favored that my bookie only had two bets available on who would win the British Open after Tiger held the 2nd round lead by 4 strokes - Tiger at 10-11 odds and anyone else at 14-5 odds. The "anyone else to win" bet is known in the betting world as a "sucker's bet." So, of course, I wired some cash to my bookie and took the 14-5 odds. At the time I thought, Tiger is heavily favored, but there are still 2 rounds to play. This is golf for crissakes, so anything can happen. 14-5 odds for the entire field to overtake Tiger's 36-hole lead seems like a good bet. You can just call me sucker.

Tiger is now well back on pace to eclipse Jack's previously-thought-to-be- untouchable 18 major championship record. To me, it's just a matter of time. As Tiger becomes more comfortable with his new swing, he may replicate his dominance of 2000. As long as he doesn't overhaul his swing for the 3rd time in his professional career, I think that Tiger will win at least one major per year, on average, over the next 10 years. We won't know for another 10 years whether I'm correct, but just like my British Open prediction, it's not much of a stretch.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 11:52 AM

Wie, Me and the British

Last week, Michelle Wie made her 3rd attempt to make the cut in a PGA event. Her previous two attempts were at the Sony Open in Hawaii on a course that she's very familiar, Waialae Country Club. However, this time around, she played at the John Deere Classic on a course that she's not familiar, the TPC at Deere Run. Therefore, I didn't have high expectations for the 15 year-old phenom. But, as usual, she impressed me after firing a 1 under first round score. I flipped on the TV to watch the 2nd round, and was in sheer amazement as Wie shot 3 under over her first 5 holes. Can you say, "en fuego"? She even hit some shots reminiscent of a certain PGA player named after a ferocious feline.

I was so inspired by Wie's start, that I ditched work to play some twilight golf at my home course. If a 15 year-old girl can play this godforsaken game, then damn it, so can I! The Golf Gods must have been in a generous mood that day, as I played some of the most unbelievable golf of my life. I didn't drive the ball particularly well, but I hit 8 of the first 10 greens in regulation. I have never, ever hit my irons so well. Short irons, middle irons, long irons, you name it, they all seemed to find the green like Ben Affleck finds bad movies. I carded two birdies and stood at 2 over after 10 holes. For a ten-ish handicapper like me, that's like Wie shooting 3 under over the first 5 holes of a PGA event. But like Wie, my wheels were bound to fall off. The bogey train picked me up at the 11th hole and gathered steam with a bogey, double bogey, and another double bogey. I finished the last 8 holes at 8 over. Wiediculous!

But after many such disappointments, I've learned to accept the cruel ways of the Golf Gods. I still shot a respectable 82 and hit 10 GIRs. Similarly, Michelle Wie should be proud of her showing at the John Deere Classic. Although she barely missed making history, she can hold her head up high. She finished ahead of 54 professional men, including 6 shots ahead of a former #1 in the world and British Open champion (I won't mention his name, to save him from the embarrassment).

Speaking of British Opens, the mother of all British Opens, the Open Championship at St Andrews, will be played this week. The British Open is usually my 3rd favorite major behind the Masters and the U.S. Open. But it is something truly special when it is held at St Andrews, the birthplace of golf.

So, who's gonna win it? We all know that Tiger is the favorite in any tournament that he plays. But I think that he's as close to a lock to win that any mortal golfer can be. Not only has Tiger been playing well in the majors this year, but he simply dominated the last time he played at St Andrews in 2000. Now that he's even longer than he was back in 2000, look for Tiger to crush the field if he can find his putter. If he doesn't, then I hope that Thammanoon Srirot wins. Who? I have no idea, but at least it would give the engraver, who has about 10 mins. on international TV to engrave the champion's name on the Claret Jug, a real run for his money!

Oh, and congrats to Sean O'Hair on winning his first PGA event. Sean, please don't send your dad his 10% cut. The "iron-asshole bastard" doesn't deserve it.

P.S. Mega-props to Jamie, Chris, Erin, Bob, Craig, Shawn, and Brian from the AOL Internet Radio Show, "Sports Bloggers Live" for taking my call during their British Open Preview. If you have Real Player, you can hear the British Open Preview featuring 2 established, well-known and respected golf writers and then myself.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 06, 2005 at 8:46 AM

Licking Your Balls - An Unhealthy Habit

When I first started playing golf with my good friend and scratch golfer Anth, I noticed that he occasionally licked his golf ball before he set it down to putt. After shooting him several puzzled looks without a response, I asked him, "What the hell are you doing?"

"I'm cleaning my ball so it will roll true," he answered.
"I know that, but do you have to use your tongue? Why don't you use a towel?"
"I don't have one with me. What's the big deal?"
"It's just disgusting. There could be all kinds of crap on that ball. Why don't you just lick the ground?"

He just rolled his eyes and shook his head as if I was the one being ridiculous. On the next green, he licked his ball again like he was working his way to the Tootsie Roll center. I didn't say anything about it to him again. I mean, who am I to question a scratch golfer?

I have since played with several golfers who lick their balls clean. Recently, I tracked down a course maintenance person and told him about this phenomenon. He informed me that there are indeed many toxic substances on a golf course that could cling to a golf ball. Fertilizer, weed killers, pesticides, and animal guano are just some of the awful things one may ingest from a soiled golf ball. He confirmed that it was not a good idea to lick your balls clean. In fact, he thought it was downright dangerous. Apparently, it's quite a common practice in Ireland.

So please, let this be a warning to you or someone you know who may suffer from this nasty habit.