Grouchy Golf Blog

Sunday, May 21, 2006 at 9:42 PM

Golf Jackets in Green, Tartan and Plaid...

You've probably noticed that golf awards some of the most gawd-awful trophies in all of sports. They do nothing to dispel the notion that golf isn't a "real" sport.

I've already written about the megalomaniacal awarded to the winner of the Target World Challenge.

But those silly jackets that sometimes accompany these trophies are even worse. Yes, the will likely send a hitman to silence me when I write this, but the Green Jacket is just downright awful. The only thing that looks good wearing it is a Leprechaun.

With the Masters and its Green jacket fresh in our minds, the golf gods hit us with something far worse. In fact, the Green jacket is Paris Hilton-stylin' compared to the red Tartan jacket awarded to the winner of the Verizon Heritage held the week after the Masters. The madness continues with the red Plaid jacket given to the winner of the just concluded Bank of America Colonial.

I cringe whenever I see these hard-edge patterned threads in jacket form. I always think, how the hell does that look good? In fact, when did it ever look good? Can you look at these fashion fiascos and not laugh?

I tried to think of things where that bold red tartan or plaid pattern may look at least normal these days. Boxers? Blankets? Tablecloths? Skirts? Not surprisingly, he list is very short. Whoever first said, "Yeah, that pattern would look great as a sports coat" needs to have their eyes checked.

Just because these jackets are horrible, doesn't mean that nobody wants them. When asked about the Verizon Heritage, said, "I'd love to get one of those ugly jackets."

Remember that classic Stanley Kubrick sci-fi flick, 2001: A Space Odyssey? I loved that movie in my youth because at the time I thought that it was a glimpse into the not-so-distant future. It predicted that we'd all be flying around the universe in cool spaceships having intelligent conversations with talking computers. It turns out that the only thing that they managed to get right about the turn of the millennium is that no one wears tartan or plaid. That is, unless you win a golf tournament.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 11:24 PM

Michelle Wie Winless in the Past?

The popular knock on Michelle Wie is that she hasn't won much. People often point to her lack of wins at the amateur level and conclude that she is doomed to failure at the professional level. In my opinion, this is short-sighted at best.

People seem to overlook that Michelle grew up in Hawaii. While it may not appear significant at first blush, it is a major reason for her limited track record at the amateur level. Quite simply, junior golf tournaments in Hawaii are lacking both in number and in the quality of the competition. The junior golf events with any substance are all located within the continental United States. Therefore, any accomplished Hawaiian junior golfer who wishes to compete at the highest junior levels would have to travel to the mainland. Easier said than done.

Let's assume that you are a parent of a junior golfer living in Hawaii. She is entered in the Rolex Girls Junior Championship this June 13 – 16 in Park City, Utah and you need to make arrangements.

Booking the lowest cost itinerary on Expedia on May 6, 2006, the total cost is $1,739.10. This amount includes 2 roundtrip tickets, 1 room for 5 nights at the Sky Harbor Suites, and a 5-day economy car rental. Throw in another $300 for incidentals and subtract out the maximum AJGA stipend of $250 and the net cost of this trip is $1,789.10.

But the cost isn't the only sacrifice that you're making for your daughter. Air travel from Hawaii to Salt Lake City is about 10 hours each way. Therefore, to arrive for the registration at 9am on Tuesday, June 13, you need to spend most of Monday, June 12 traveling. The tournament ends late in the afternoon on Friday, June 16. However, there are no return flights past 5pm. Therefore, you must fly on the following day. All told, the time you must sacrifice for this tournament amounts to practically a full week. If you are a working parent, you probably have 2 weeks of vacation per year. Do the math and you'll discover just how many mainland tournaments your daughter can enter per year.

In effect, a Hawaiian junior golfer who wishes to play against the best would require the equivalent of a Hawaiian vacation for each event. Any trip from Hawaii to the mainland is a tremendous burden of cost and time. Even the shortest trip from Hawaii to the mainland is still at least 5 ½ hours each way!

Here in California, some of the top junior golfers in the nation compete with each other on a weekly basis. Most tournaments are just a short drive away. Had Wie grown up in California, I'm sure that she would have built up an impressive amateur resume.

So, is it any wonder why Wie's amateur record is so barren? It's just unrealistic to expect Wie to have entered many prestigious amateur golf events in the first place. How do you win tournaments that you can't enter? In the end, it may not really matter. History has proven that winning at the amateur level doesn't guarantee success at the pro level. knows that all too well.


Saturday, May 06, 2006 at 9:23 PM

Alpha C830.2: 460cc Never Looked So Small

The UPS delivery guy is the Santa Claus for adults. I always get that sudden rush of excitement when I see that plain brown cardboard box sitting on my doorstep. Such was the feeling when I recently found a long, skinny box perched against my front door. Inside was an Alpha C830.2 driver with an Aldila NVS shaft!

You may be wondering, what the heck is an Alpha C830.2? We are all familiar with the big golf club companies such as Titleist, Ping, TaylorMade, etc. These guys have huge marketing budgets to ensure that they remain top of mind with the consumer. As a result, it's very difficult for the new and smaller golf companies to get noticed.

Alpha Golf is one such golf company. Started in 2000, Alpha was able to attract some attention relatively quickly by making a name for themselves in the sport of professional long drive. Long drive is golf's loud, rebellious and juiced-up younger brother. It is a sport that takes one element of golf to the max and then kicks it up a notch. To be successful, competitors need equipment that can withstand extreme conditions.

Alpha Golf recognized this need and developed drivers that could take the punishment while still offering top performance. Alpha's success on the Long Drivers of America (LDA) circuit speaks for itself. But how would such a specialized driver work for the average golfer?

That's what I wanted to find out with Alpha's C830.2. I had read that the driver head was a full 460cc, so when I opened the package I fully expected to see a Yugo on a stick. However, I was surprised to find a rather conventional looking driver in terms of size. In fact, it looks even smaller than my 400cc TaylorMade 540XD when viewed from the top! At first I thought that I had received the wrong driver, but "460cc" was clearly stamped into the sole. Like Anna Nicole Smith, the Alpha C830.2 hides its mass well.

I was anxious to get to the course to see how the Alpha C830.2 would stack up. To be honest, I haven't hit many 460cc drivers. They always appeared a little too big for my liking. In this respect, the C830.2 was easy on my eyes.

I have been playing with the C830.2 exclusively over the last month and I can honestly say that I'm pleasantly surprised. With my trusty ol' TaylorMade 540XD, I probably drive the ball an average of 260-270 yards when I nut it. It's hard to say for sure, but it seems that I'm a little longer with the C830.2. I just don't know if it's the sword or the swordsman. I could be subconsciously swinging harder than normal because I know that the C830.2 is a "long drive" driver. Regardless, I've hit some of my longest drives ever on my home course with the C830.2.

In terms of accuracy, the C830.2 fares well. With 460cc, it better! With all that surface area from its deep face, I seem to hit the screws on the C830.2 more frequently than my 540XD. As a result, my drives are a little bit more accurate.

As far as feel goes, I would characterize the C830.2 as having a solid metallic feel and sound, reminiscent of a Titleist driver. It doesn't have that hollow aluminum baseball bat sound found on some of the other 460cc drivers.

Having put the C830.2 through its paces, I believe that it compares very favorably against the "Big Name" offerings. Whether it is the right driver for you is another question. I feel that golfers need to demo many different drivers to find one that best fits their individual game. That being said, the C830.2 is definitely worth a swing. It may be especially attractive to those traditionalists who are uncomfortable looking down at some of the gigantic looking 460cc drivers out there. Just don't fall into the trap of assuming that the C830.2 is a "long drivers only" club. It works great for the "average" player as well.