Grouchy Golf Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 at 3:42 AM

One Funked Up Skins Game

This time of year is usually a good one for sports fans. Both the NBA and the NFL are in full swing. Unfortunately, my favorite teams, the Lakers and the Raiders, blow harder than Moby Dick.

I'd look to golf for my sports fix, but the season is done and only so-called "silly" events remain. These made for TV events usually only leave me in a state of ennui. Probably the most well known of these events is last weekend's Skins Game played at Trilogy Golf Club. I've actually played this course and it's probably the least challenging golf course in Palm Springs. Heck, I almost shot par on this course! The fairways are almost as wide as they are long and the rough is not rough at all. It's obviously a golf course designed for the geriatric set. Unfortunately, when the pros play the course, it becomes a pitch 'n putt. Real interesting.

After watching two days of this event, I've determined that the Skins Game is just as effective as Ambien without any of the adverse side affects. The organizers of this event always try to do something special to generate interest. Unfortunately, I don't think that they have ever been successful.

This year, the gimmick was to include one of the shortest drivers on the PGA, Fred Funk alongside Fred Couples and the #1 players on the PGA and LPGA. Poor Fred Funk was used as the laughing stock of golf. I guess organizers were hoping that Annika Sorenstam outdriving the Funkster would generate viewer interest. The announcers and players were sure eager to yuck it up. Guess what? It didn't fly for me. All I saw was a 49 year-old guy suffer undeserved and total humiliation. The Funkmaster lost all remaining semblance of dignity when he donned a skirt on the 3rd hole! It was just too painful to watch. But that novelty wore off fast, and it was back to golf, boring golf. Funky seems like a really nice guy, but I think that I'd rather watch my neighbor's dog chase it's own tale.

If the organizers of the Skins Game really want to make their event interesting, maybe they should make it a skins game, literally. For next year's Skins Game, my suggestion is to have Natalie Gulbis and Sophie Sandolo play against each other in bikinis. They didn't mind stripping down for their respective calendars, so why not do the same on the golf course? Organizers could rename the event to something like, "Showing Some Skin for Some Skins" and just watch the ratings skyrocket. People who have never watched a lick of golf in their life will tune in by the boatloads, I guarantee it. At the very least, it's sure to be be much more interesting than watching a woman outdrive a man by a couple of yards! That's just downright silly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 at 7:23 PM

Creamer is No Bamberger

Another drop incident occurred at the ADT Championship last week. This time it was Annika Sorenstam who made a controversial drop. Her playing partner, Paula Creamer, disagreed where Annika's tee shot entered a water hazard on the 18th hole and, therefore, the proper drop location. After a tense engagement, the rules official ruled in favor of Sorenstam.

"It was her word versus my word," Creamer said. "I don't feel that it crossed [the hazard]. We're never going to agree because she saw it differently. ... In my heart of hearts, I did not see it cross. It's her conscience. If she thinks it did, it did."

Clearly, Ms. Creamer ruffled some feathers by standing up to the mother hen of golf. Popular or not, kudos to Paula for paying attention to her playing partner's actions and to raise any rule infraction concerns immediately. As we all know, she could have tried to DQ Annika by pulling a !

But another incident between the two illustrated some of the silliness of golf. On the 16th green, Annika asked if she could fix what she believed to be a ball pitch mark in the line of her putt. Creamer thought it was instead a spike mark, green damage that can’t be repaired under Rule 16-1c of the Rules of Golf.

Pitch marks, spike marks, what the heck is the difference
? They are both man-made alterations to the putting surface. However, the Rules of Golf only allow golfers to repair "damage to the putting green caused by the impact of a ball." The rules of golf are supposedly based upon principles of fair play, but how is this fair?

For example, consider an overweight golfer wearing long metal spikes who follows a bizarre pre-putting routine where he makes multiple practice strokes in a circle around the hole. So, not only are these spike marks unusually deep and damaging, there are also a large number of them encircling the hole. Can you imagine playing behind this clown? You might as well play pachinko.

In my opinion, any man-made damage to the green should be repairable. That seems fair to me.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 at 12:04 AM

Take My Wallet, Just Leave My Golf Clubs!

If you had a suitcase stuffed with over $2,000 cash, would you ever leave it outside and unattended? Well, that's what happens all the time at golf courses around the world. Obviously, it's not cash, but it's something just as valuable: golf clubs.

Consider someone who carries the latest Callaway Golf clubs purchased at Golfsmith.com:
Such a bag sits on the high-end of the price spectrum, but I see similar bags unattended at my home golf course all the time. For some reason, there's sort of a mutual feeling of trust amongst golfers at golf courses. It's like we're all soldiers waging war against a common enemy: the golf course. No golfer would dare steal the weapons of their brothers in arms.

Unfortunately, there are unsavory characters out there who exploit this camaraderie for personal gain. Golf club theft is nothing new, but the problem is now more common than ever before. One of the reasons is the rise in club prices due to high tech designs and exotic materials. But the main reason is the emergence of my favorite online marketplace, eBay. With eBay, criminals can sell "hot" clubs at premium prices in a couple of clicks.

But the problem recently gained national attention when USA Today reported that thieves stole the golf clubs of police officers! Interestingly, the incident occurred last May at a police department golf tournament held at Santa Anita Golf Club, one of my local golf courses! The USA Today article also mentioned a robbery at my home course, Brookside golf course.

I know the guys who work in the Brookside pro shop, so I asked them about the article. They confirmed that club theft has always been a problem and that eBay has made it worse. However, they said that since USA Today ran the article, they haven't had a single incident.

I was relieved since I had no idea that I lived in the golf club theft capital of the world (or at least it seemed that way when I read the article). Luckily, I have never been the victim of theft.

Here are some tips that I follow to remain theft-free:


Thursday, November 10, 2005 at 12:42 AM

Viewer Mail: Wedgehead Writes...

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

The following grouchy golf observation was submitted by a dedicated grouchy golf reader named Wedgehead. He recently moved to southern California and played a golf course that I recommended. Remember, if you play a course that I recommend, prepare to get grouchy. Here's his story of his first round at Los Verdes Golf Course.

Don't Touch My Balls!

Hey Grouch, thanks for the recommendations...I wasn't playing so well but on one of the finishing holes, a long par 5 doglegging left along the Pacific ocean, I hit my best drive of the day. A nice long draw tracing the fairway in a stiff left-to-right wind no-less.

As we left the tee box, two carts come screaming out of the trees way to the right. Seems these knuckleheads were so far to the right we all hit right past them thinking it was clear. I immediately knew it would be a problem as my ball was well up the fairway a good 100+ yds past the 4 guys I was playing with. I tried to tell the guy driving my cart (he offered me a lift a few holes in) to pull ahead to my ball, but he didn't understand. I jumped out and hastily walked up to the groups ahead of us looking for my ball. They were playing a scramble, and I knew it could be confusing. Sure enough, they take off and I yell. One hears and stops, the other goes all the way to green. I give him "the where's my ball?" hand motion and he says "Titleist 2 with a blue dot?", and I say "YES!"

He says he'll get it for me and zooms up the green where he pulls up to the other cart, now 225 away from me, gets my ball, and yells "Here's your ball!" He drops it, and hits it back down the fairway about 165 yds!

Thanks pal. Whaddadick.

I don't care if I did hit "hypothetically" "into them", who the hell picks up a marked, un-blemished PRO-VI from right smack dab in the middle of the fairway? Even the most un-ettiquated duffer has to know:

A) that IS a $4 golf ball, and
B) that is one hell of a shot by that guy coming down the fairway right behind you, and he deserves proper replacement in the general vicinity of where it was picked up.

Hit it back to me??? 60 yds short??? Dick.

Sorry about the long rant, but maybe an article about "when/when not to pick up a ball" is in order for more serious grouching.

Golf Grouch Comment: Wedge, no need for me to write about it, you did just fine. Thanks for the story!


Wednesday, November 02, 2005 at 12:04 AM

Any Press is Good Press, Even in Golf

Michael Bamberger's new book, "This Golfing Life," is now available to order. According to the publisher, Mike "has been writing about golf for Golf Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer for over twenty years, and for the past ten years has been a senior writer for Sports Illustrated." However, he has been making the golf headlines lately as the self-appointed volunteer rules official at the Samsung World Championship.

To most, Bamberger's release of his new book within 2 weeks of his involvement in the is a purely random occurrence. But to me, these events are too closely related to explain by mere chance. Maybe it's because I work in the entertainment media business and I've learned to cast a cynical eye at anything I see in the media. Just turn on your TV and you'll be bombarded with promotions up the Wazoo, most unbeknownst to you.

Take celebrity gossip shows such as Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and The Insider. They're really just extended commercials dressed as entertainment "news" shows. Virtually every story from these shows contains a hidden agenda. When I saw Tom Cruise bashing Brooke Shields for taking antidepressant drugs, my initial thought wasn't about his position on medicine or psychiatry, it was what movie is Tom pluggin' now?

While some may expect heavy promos on such shows, many are unaware that it occurs in the traditional press as well. The recent tragedy from hurricane Katrina provided ample opportunities for shameless self-promotion. Do you think that Kanye West would have made his controversial political statements during NBC's nationally-televised Concert for Hurricane Relief if it didn't happen to air four days before the release of his latest album, "Late Registration"? Would Chris Rock have made those high-profile visits to the disaster shelters if his new TV show, "Everybody Hates Chris," didn't debut less than two weeks later? Regardless of the true answers to these questions, these individuals created the publicity that propelled their launches to success.

In a similar vein, Bamberger has created a “buzz,” whether he intended it or not. We’ll probably never know to what extent that his new book release influenced his actions at the Samsung World Championship. But we do know that Bamberger alerted LPGA Tour officials of the possible Wie rule infraction because he "loves golf and thinks playing by the rules is a critical element to making tournament golf work." To delve any deeper, one would want to understand how this man came to love golf. Isn’t it convenient that his new book is an autobiographical account about this very topic?

In his book, Bamberger quotes a Scottish master who explains what Americans brought to the game of golf: "You showed us that there's money in golf. That had never occurred to us. The money has corrupted us, all of us, myself included." I wonder how money has affected Bamberger. I guess we'll have to read his book to find out.