Grouchy Golf Blog

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 1:42 AM

RadarGolf: Lo-Jack Your Golf Ball

As a person with a business background, I love to think of business ideas. However, my ideas can sometimes be considered beyond "out of the box." One such idea was hatched a couple of years ago after I became so frustrated over losing about a dozen Pro V1s at Lost Canyons (the most appropriate name for a golf course ever).

My idea was to irradiate golf balls with a low-level radioactive isotope. Golfers who lost such balls could simply use a Geiger counter to find their balls. It sounded great at first, but then I realized that there could be litigation risks associated with potential health hazards to golfers who carried radioactive balls in their pocket. Would it really be so bad to grow another arm? Who knows, it could improve your swing.

Anyway, a company has already developed a similar concept, without the radiation risks. RadarGolf has developed a microchip that is designed to be embedded into a golf ball. The chip is designed to communicate with a handheld device carried by the golfer. When the golfer loses his ball, he simply activates the handheld to transmit a specific radio frequency signal. Like a Spidey tracer, the chip receives the signal and sends back its own signal, causing the handheld to beep faster and at a higher pitch as it gets closer to the ball.

I think that this product has some potential for success. However, one glaring shortcoming that I see is the fact that the system only works specifically with RadarGolf Balls. There's just no way that you're going to pry golfers away from their precious Pro V1s to play some findable ball that most wouldn't want to find in the first place. Therefore, I recommend that RadarGolf pursue a strategy to get their product in established golf ball brands. I'm sure that Titleist would be interested to incorporate the RadarGolf chip into their golf balls as a premium feature or product extension. For example, they could retail a dozen regular Pro V1s at $50 and RadarGolf Pro V1s at $60. I think that such a product offering could be attractive to certain golfers. This all sounds great in theory, but we'll have to see how it works in practice.

The RadarGolf System (the handheld unit with a dozen balls) was scheduled to be introduced sometime this month on the Web for $349.95. However, the last time I checked, there was no purchasing info. Maybe they're rethinking their business model. I think that would be a good idea.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005 at 10:23 PM

DQ'd - How to Work the System

In the aftermath of the DQ controversy at the Samsung World Championship, I’m still bewildered. In fact, I have serious doubts whether Wie committed a bad drop in the first place. Of all the Wie puns that have been coined over the last several years, “Wiediculous” seems to be the one most apropos in this case. All I know is that this incident is just another head-scratching rules fiasco that does nothing to dispel the notion that golf lacks all common sense. Other silly DQs within the last week include Paula Creamer for inadvertently switching clubs inter-round and Kevin Stadler for unknowingly carrying a bent club. Other sports must look at their odd sibling named Golf and just laugh. It wouldn’t surprise me if people concluded that golf was invented by a mental patient and is run by the Church of Scientology.

Much of the problem stems from golf being dictated by the most complicated rules of any sport. I actually know people who are more comfortable understanding Einstein’s Theories of Relativity than the rules of golf. Furthermore, golf is one of the few professional sports that is self-policing when it comes to rules conformance. There are no referees, umpires, or judges that oversee play. There are merely a handful of “rules officials” who are available to answer any rules-related questions posed by the players. As a result, golf rules enforcement depends largely upon each player’s personal integrity and knowledge of the rules. But golf doesn’t trust its players entirely. As it is currently structured, your everyday Joe may participate in rules enforcement as well. Any observer may inform an official about any suspected rules infraction that he may have witnessed. In turn, the incident in question may be reviewed and action taken, if needed. This is the mechanism that allowed Wie to be DQ’d.

I have several problems with the whole golf officiating system as it now stands. First, I think getting DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard is often overly harsh. I can understand getting DQ’d for knowingly signing an incorrect scorecard, but when it is done unknowingly, there should be some leniency.

Second, if golf is founded on the principle of personal integrity, then officials should trust the self-policing players who have access to rules officials. Outside assistance should not be allowed. If this is not acceptable, an alternative is to employ a team of referees to oversee every player on the course. As in other sports, these referees would regulate all play with their rulings final and not subject to change.

But the biggest beef that I have with the current system is the seemingly indefinite amount of time that a suspected infraction may be submitted for consideration. In the case of Wie’s incident, it was virtually a full day before Mr. Bamberger notified the officials (I have yet to hear a satisfactory reason why the dude waited so long). If a suspected rules infraction can be reviewable after a full day has passed, then why not a week, a month, or even a year? If I were Ken Venturi, I’d consider rekindling the Palmer controversy at the 1958 Masters. Using the Wie incident as a precedent, maybe he could find enough evidence to have Palmer DQ’d from the Masters, giving Venturi the Green Jacket!

Now you can only imagine the sheer pandemonium that could erupt from people exploiting the system. The opportunities in sports betting alone would be too great for some to pass up. Consider, for the moment, if a slightly different situation occurred at the Samsung. Let’s assume that everything were the same except that Wie tied Annika for the lead and both were far ahead of the pack after the 3rd round. The situation now is such that only either Wie or Sorenstam have a realistic chance to win the tournament. Someone, like Mr. Bamberger, who witnessed Wie commit a bad drop during the 3rd round, could wager a sizeable amount on Annika to win the tournament with minimal risk. If Annika beats Wie, the wager is won fair and square. However, if Wie beats Annika, the witness can simply alert officials of the rule infraction to DQ Wie and win the wager!

Unfortunately, most of deficiencies in golf officiating can’t be resolved overnight. But there is a partial solution that would alleviate some of the headaches - Simply require all suspected rule infractions to be submitted within an hour of the conclusion of the round. Any submissions after that time would be deemed not reviewable. If any suspected infractions are found to be valid, penalties could be assessed without incurring a DQ. If such a rule had been in affect at the Samsung, Wie’s alleged bad drop could have been addressed in a fair and timely manner without triggering a DQ. In the meantime, be sure to program the numbers of rules officials and bookies into your speed dial!

P.S. Word is going around that Mr. Bamberger will be releasing a new book in the coming weeks. Merely a coincidence?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 8:15 PM

Who's Head is Looser? John Daly or His Putter?

I've never really understood the widespread popularity of John Daly. To me, he provides solid evidence to anyone who wants to argue that you don't need to be an athlete to play golf at the highest level. What other sport features players who can win while dragging on a Marlboro Red?

While few things about Daly appeal to me, we do have one thing in common - our misery with the putter. Daly 3-Jacked it whenever it mattered at last week's WGC-American Express Championship to gift-wrap the tournament to Tiger. Like Daly, I have a habit of coughing up a 3-putt or two at the worst times on the golf course. I don't know whether I'm a horrible putter because I hate putting or I hate putting because I'm a horrible putter. Either way, putting is the bane of my golfing existence.

At least I know that it's the swordsman and not the sword. However, Daly is quick to point out that his putting woes are largely due to equipment failure.

In an interview after his 1st round last week, Daly claimed that the hosel on his putter came loose late in his round. He also had the putter's lie measured and found that it was off by about 3 degrees.

But if I remember correctly, that's the ninth time this year that Daly has claimed to be playing with a defective putter. Daly ran into similar problems at this year's PGA Championship at Baltusrol and he had to putt with his Lob wedge for the last seven holes. Daly explained, "...the... putter I was knocking it 10 feet by. My putter came loose again. We made a replacement. I'm tired of replacing it. That's happened a few times this year where the head has fallen off. Dunlop has been working really hard to try to make a putter, and it still keeps coming off...I'm not getting another putter. I've had it. I'm just going to putt with my L-wedge. I'll figure something out tomorrow. I may have three or four putters in the bag tomorrow."

Dude, if you consistently experience problems with your flatstick, why don't you try something else? Is Dunlop forcing you to play their putter? No amount of endorsement money is worth playing equipment that you're not 100% comfortable. I'm sure that Dunlop isn't fond of you telling the world that their golf equipment falls apart. I know that I would never, ever consider buying a Dunlop golf club (to be fair, I felt the same way before Daly's diatribes). Dunlop would much rather have you play with something that would bring you success.

I know that if I worked at Dunlop, I'd be pretty PO'ed. I would probably try to "borrow" Tiger's backup Scotty Cameron Circle T and secretly disguise it as Daly's Dunlop Redneck and swap it with Daly's gamer when he wasn't looking. The next time Daly complains about his putter losing him a golf tournament, I would issue a press release saying, "Mr. Daly would have won, but his Scotty Cameron putter came loose!"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 at 11:16 AM

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game!

The speculation about Michelle Wie turned into reality this morning as she announced her decision to turn professional. Already, I've read a lot of opinions about it. Interestingly, many of them are negative, especially on the golf message boards.

Quite frankly, it's a shame that people are so down on Michelle. Really, what has she done to draw such ire? Her public image is nice and pleasant. She's about as clean-cut as they come. She's a 15 year-old girl for crying out loud! People who bash a good-natured young girl who's a straight A student need to schedule some time with a therapist.

This is simply a girl who has big dreams - dreams of playing golf for a living. She's fortunate to realize those dreams at a young age and people hate her for it. It seems to me that much of the anti-Wie sentiment is rooted in jealousy and envy. If anything, these Wie-haters should redirect their animosity at the things surrounding Ms. Wie's pro announcement. While I don't think that it's deserved, go ahead and criticize Wie's parents, her agent, her sponsors, her coach, her dog, etc. - just don't hate on her.

Morgan "The Pouting" Pressel will have plenty to say about Wie turning pro. When asked about Wie's endorsement deals, Pressel exclaimed, "She's going to make something like $10 million? For what? For winning one tournament?!" This is just the latest in a long-running whine about Wie. At this year's U.S. Open, Wie shared the lead with Pressel after three rounds. After Pressel finished ahead of Wie, Pressel sounded off on Wie, "she's proven she can't win in pressure situations going into the final round...The biggest tournament in women's golf, she shoots 82...She falters at the end." When asked when Wie would join the LPGA, Pressel shot back, "Never. OK, maybe not never, but not as long as she wants to do her 'woo-woo' thing against the men." Meeyow!

But there are mature and intelligent individuals among Wie's peer group.

As Curtis Cup teammates, Paula Creamer became acquainted with Wie. "We are very good friends," Creamer said. "We have a lot in common. We both love golf and we are both young. We talk a lot, (but) on the golf course everybody is trying to beat everybody. It is all fun, I think, (but) for me I try to win."

When asked about Wie turning pro, Natalie Gulbis said, "I think it's very positive. The publicity that she [Wie] has gotten for herself and also gotten for the LPGA has been extremely positive because more people are talking about Michelle Wie in accordance with the LPGA. And she has raised the bar and also shown how much a female golfer can be paid from an endorsement standpoint."

Paula and Natalie are two of my favorite LPGA pros because they have great attitudes to accompany great games (OK, that's not the real reason I like Natalie). Together with Wie, the LPGA has nowhere to go but up. I know that I'll be watching.

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