About Me

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I am a PGA Member Professional and I have been in this area for over seventeen years, the last twelve as a Bonita Springs resident. I pride myself on being a leader rather than a follower. I am passionate about the golf industry and always want others to enjoy the game that I love so much. It's time we introduce this game to more and maintain it for those who have played it for a lifetime.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What's on your mind? Pace of Play

Our culture has made time seemingly more critical than any commodity as demonstrated by having the whole world of the internet, camera, and phone wrapped up in one devise.  (Thank you Steve Jobs RIP)  Not to mention the myriad of apps that provide us all we ever need while on the run.  We can now do more in the time we have and sure enough, we are!  That doesn't bode well for our game that takes some time to play.

The time to play the game hasn't changed for the better sadly.  In part, that time is one of the romantic qualities of the game itself.  Time spent among friends, playing a game of skill out in the surrounds of nature.  There is nothing else like it.  It's maybe the counter-culture now.  Everyone needs decompression time and golf is a great place to do that - assuming you can enjoy it.  And you can enjoy it without it being an all day affair.  It will take some cooperation.

As I've blogged before I feel like golf has evolved into something beyond the basic values of the game itself.  It's been glamorized such that for many it has become a battle ground.  It has morphed into a game where the object is to smash the ball as hard as possible and let the subtle nuances of the game be damned.   What happened to a stroll through the park with your clubs on your back and your new best friend telling stories as you walk down the fairway to your next test?

In my estimation we moved away from that style of golf quite some time ago as the game was recognized as an opportunity to make money and hundreds of courses were built, many by developers as a lure to real estate sales (can't blame them).  The focus went away from the core value of the game and more into a money making venture.  To make one course more marketable than the next some were built to be the "extreme" test attracting the boldest and biggest egos of the sport.  Others were built for development's sake and walking the course was just eliminated from possibility.  Courses became more impressive than the next.  One longer than the next.  Another had the hardest par threes in the area or the longest par fives.  Some were built on the pride of the name of the designer.  Others were simply over the top.

So what are we left with today?  Courses that take a long time to play.  Great distances from greens to the next tee.  Contours well beyond the capabilities of those who are playing the game to handle.  Hazards (for beautification's sake) far too plentiful for the average person to be able to still enjoy the game.  In a phrase most newer golf courses were ego-driven monuments to misery - oh, and slow play.

Here's a question:  Assume you are the only one on a golf course.  Would it take you more or less time to complete 18 holes if you took 10 less shots?  What if all 100 players on a given day each took 10 less shots?  Would it play faster?  What if all the water features at your local course were filled in for a day.  Would play be faster or slower?  What if all the bunkers were miraculously covered by lush grass.  Would it play faster?  What if the tees were set up such that you could take 10 less shots in a round?  Would it play faster?

No one is advocating such drastic measures however we are long overdue for looking at some of these issues to help speed up play.  Ease up on the design.  Most courses could probably do away with half of the bunkers.  That might even reduce maintenance expenses.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Phil Was Right...What do you think?

I've been distracted lately and haven't been diligent in posting here.  But I'm back!

Three weeks ago at the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, Phil Mickelson was interviewed after his first round.  He was complementary of the conditions and the golf course but was diplomatic in expressing his opinion of "the guy" (Rees Jones) who redesigned the major tournament venues for the professional ranks (including AAC) and in the process leaving a golf course behind that the every day member can't play.  It stirred up a little controversy.

The following day Jim Huber did a little commentary during the telecast defending the traditions, the conditions, the course and the membership at AAC.  Turns out Jim Huber is a member of AAC.  Naturally he would do such a thing...certainly if he wants to keep his membership!

Sunday evening after all the excitement the Golf Channel interviewed Tom Adderhold, who is the General Chairman of AAC.  Great person to invite in for discussion.  When asked about Phil's comments Mr. Adderhold replied with a little giggle as if to say "he's off his rocker!"  Then he followed up with the statement that, "The members at AAC have a choice of five tees and the can 'pick their punishment'."  Bingo!  Very important words used.  He actually made Phil's point for him!

I had hoped host Brandel Chamblee would have followed that statement by asking Mr. Adderhold why he chose those very words to describe his course.  Punishment?  That's just it folks!  Golf, for many, if not for most, has become a battle to limit your punishment rather than how much fun can you have.  For more accomplished players they may enjoy those challenges.  For the bulk of golfers (say, average to less than average skills - a.k.a. 80% of the rest of golfers) their challenge is simply hitting the ball solid, relatively straight, with adequate distance and avoid hazards.  Once they reach the green these golfers don't typically have the skills to handle greens that are undulating and stimping at 11, nor can they get out of many bunkers that are 5 feet deep.  They pick up putts within three feet because they don't want to suffer the embarrassment of missing one after the other.  Or is it to make sure their score doesn't go any higher?  Same thing.  In other words we are even quietly getting away from even playing the game itself in many cases.

Modern design is beautiful and testy.  As I've stated before I think the focus has been on the 20% or so who play this game with some modicum of skill.  The bulk of those who are playing the game, save those who would like to learn, can't handle these courses.  It will be some time before they can.  In today's economy there is a stronger need for the value:price ratio.  Value doesn't just come in the form of good conditions.  It also requires a good environment and enjoyable surroundings.  This includes the playability of the golf course.  There have been so many courses designed and built in the last 25 years that come with them a required high maintenance budget to uphold the image of the facility.

Don't get me wrong here, there is plenty of room for these types of designs and they will continue to attract attention.  Unfortunately there were about 3,000 built in the last fifteen years - probably 2,000 too many.  These courses aren't conducive to the newer golfer or the less skilled golfer, or the aging golfer who has been in the game for many years but their bodies just aren't built for them any more.

OK, I'm rambling at this point. I'd love to hear what you have to say.  What say you?

Friday, July 1, 2011

What's on your mind? Are golf courses built for women? Really?

Have there really ever been any ladies tees built?

Let me lay down some facts from the USGA.  The USGA defines a female bogey golfer is a player who has a Course Handicap of approximately 24 on a course of standard difficulty (that is a slope rating of 113).  She can hit tee shots an average of 150 yards and can reach a 280-yard hole in two shots (pg. 5 of The USGA Handicapping System Book). The USGA defines a scratch player as a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses.  A female scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 210 yards and can reach a 400-yard hole in two shots at sea level.

According to the Golf Channel there are 5.76 million female golfers.  How many do you think are scratch golfers?  1%?  That would be 57,600 female scratch golfers across the US.  Have you ever met one?  Ever played with one?  I would suggest 1% is a stretch.  Maybe 10% of female golfers are single digit handicappers.  To get to point more quickly probably 60% (at least) of all female golfers are bogey golfers or worse.  Still following? 

The USGA/PGA Tee It Forward initiative suggests that players who hit the ball 150 yards on average off the tee should be playing a course of 3,500-3,700 yards.  Remember, this is the USGA saying this.  The same governing body of our game who also determines slope ratings based on the 150 yard tee shot.  Wouldn't it make sense then that a course measuring approximately 40% longer would be substantially more difficult for the average female golfer?  Have you seen any course with tees less than 4,000 yards?  The odd course might have them but they tend to be targeted to little kids.

In southwest Florida the average length of the forward tee (based on date from 70 local golf courses) is 5,019 yards!  Some many individual courses are over 5,200 yards!  Wouldn't you think the slope rating, if principally based on distance, would be astronomical?  The average slope rating for these same courses is 119.9.  Something doesn't add up here.  It seems to me (and maybe I'm just whacked in the head - wouldn't be the first time I've been accused of that) that none of these forward tees were built for the female bogey golfer in mind.  Not even close!

I don't disagree with the Tee It Forward initiative AT ALL!  In fact I applaud it with great vigor.  Average golfers and less than average golfers need golf to be fun, not managed frustration.   With that in mind shouldn't there be an optional tee for every day bogey female golfers (and those who are less than average) that is 3,500-3,800 yards?  This is for most lady golfers in this game today.  Courses of this length are unheard of in today's game.  It was as though bogey female golfers weren't even considered.

And I can tell you from experience, women are typically blamed for slow play at a golf course.  Ladies, I empathize.  I do.  80% of you are playing a golf course way beyond your capabilities.  It would be the equivalent of bogey male golfers playing a course of 8,600+ yards and be expected to A) have fun and B) keep the pace of play up.  Neither would be possible.  This is Barney Adam's point from a different perspective.

Men with less skills can always move up, right up to the forward tee if need be.  Ladies, you aren't even given that option.  Fellas, you need to understand this.  Secondly, despite what you think most ladies play faster than you guys do.  Third, if there were actual tees set up at less than 4,000 yards the bogey femal golfers would have fewer shots and enjoy the game more.  At least that has been my observation.  So have a little sympathy guys.  Oh, and consider moving up a set of tees because I'm sure you're having a more difficult time justifying that 10 handicap (really 15) from the same set of tees.

Keep the fun in the game.  I welcome the feedback!

Friday, June 10, 2011

What's on your mind? What's your gripe about golf?

Everyone has an opinion on any issue.  This is a golf blog and I KNOW you all have an opinion about the game.  What's your biggest gripe?

Here's some things to consider:  pace of play, difficulty of the golf course, price of instruction, price of playing the game, cost of equipment, stuffiness of the golf environment.  That ought to provide you something to write about.  Send me a comment, tell me and others what's on your mind.

You've seen other posts below about my take on a number of issues.  I'll start a discussion (I hope) with one more.  I find it sometimes tough to accept that equipment companies are cranking out new product it seems every 12-18 months and telling you it's the latest and greatest.  Is it?  Or is it just a new round of marketing leading you to believe that you will be that much better if you buy this product?

The average handicap hasn't changed in years, maybe ever.  Courses have changed as equipment has changed I'm sure so that might have something to do with the lack of change in the handicaps.

If I bought into the idea that with every club I can improve my distance by a couple/few yards I'd be hitting my five iron 220 these days and drives well over 300 yards.  It's not true at all.  Tees with less drag can add  a couple of yards to  your drives - as tested by robots!  Better shafts, balls, gloves, shoes all add yards!  And we keep drinking the proverbial Kool Aid.

For sure there is a need for many to upgrade equipment.  Maybe a different shaft will provide for more length.  Or a combination of ball and club might better suit a player than their current equipment.  But how many players are lured into buying something they don't need or want and their frustration with the game remains the same?

Have players' frustrations been improved?  I'm wondering considering the number of players is netting lower each year and rounds played is decreasing each year.

How do we deal with your frustration, whatever it may be?  Comments coming back get enlisted in some swag give-aways later this summer!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's on your mind? Public golf playable again?

Take a look at the following article.  Recently posted on the USGA website and elsewhere by now.

Do you agree with it?  Public golf is where the game is learned and played.  70% of the public rounds are played on golf courses with a median green fee of $28.  Of course this may not include the cart because public golf north of me doesn't require a cart and many people like to walk.

As Mr. Phelps suggests the industry got awfully excited about building private-like public golf out there for a premium.  Courses popped up everywhere because owners thought they were all going to make money.  If you build it, maybe they won't come.  Enter the recession.

Today that just doesn't really fit the industry.  Sorry to say it but few, if any, of these courses bring people to the game.  If they do that beginner is likely faced scratching their heads and wondering why golfers put themselves through this torture.  The courses were built for the existing population.  That existing population is waning.

Why would someone desire to try something torturous for recreation?  Yes, being new to the scene and not having practiced skills is part of the equation here but so is the playing field.  Why are Little League ball parks smaller than adult ball parks?  Why are softball fields smaller for females than males?  Why are soccer goals smaller for junior soccer games?  Basketball rims lower for younger players?  Adaptations are made relative to their size, experience and abilities.  So too must golf.  A forward tee at 5,000 yards doesn't suit beginner youth and ladies and it surely is intimidating for new adult men for other reasons.

Other sports adapt to provide for more activity.  Recreational centers have half-court basketball leagues.  Twice as many can play on the same court.  Seven-man football is getting more popular.  Indoor soccer plays on a much smaller pitch yet still resembles soccer.

What are we considering with golf?  Tee It Forward addresses shortening existing golf courses if just for a trial period.  We need to soften features for both maintenance time and expense but also for the enjoyment of newer or lesser skilled players.  They all have an interest and they all have discretionary dollars to spend, as do I.  I however don't care to part with my discretionary dollars for things like torture.  At least offer shorter, easier, more fun alternatives to that which we are struggling with today in our industry.

Throw in some feedback.  If I get at least ten comments I'll give away some cool swag!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Well it's finally happened!

The USGA and the PGA have teamed up to get a major point across to the golfing public.  Wait, better sit down for this.  Golfers should play the course from the proper set of tees relative to their abilities! Yes, it's true.  I do not lie.

The two largest bodies in this game suggest that you should determine the length you hit your average (remember the previous post) tee shot and play the golf course from a distance relative to your tee shot distance.  And guys, that means you ought to put your pride in your back pocket.  To quote an earlier blog post, you're not that good!

An honest assessment of a player's average tee shot typically results in a number as much as 15% shorter than they claim. Please don't average just the best tee shots folks.  Maybe eliminate the longest and the shortest in your next few rounds and average the remaining.  Yes, if you catch the bottom groove on the face and worm burn a drive 125 yards up the fairway, that counts!  And yes if you hit one hard and it gets knocked down by a tree, measure where the ball is, not where it ought to have been.  The tree is part of the golf course and you hit it.

We need to learn to play the game with out all the "ifs."  "If" the bunker wasn't there I would have driven it another 50 yards.  "If" the rough wasn't so deep it would have carried right through the dogleg.  Blah, blah, blah.  Folks (guys especially), your games are not even remotely consistent from shot to shot like the tour pros.  Lofty comparison to say the least but face it, that is what you are comparing yourself to.

OK, so like the pros, let's hit more wedges and shorter irons into the greens.  Once you take an HONEST assessment of your driving distance you will likely learn you are playing a course much too long for your abilities.  Play It Forward!  Please, please, please read the following.  This is a game changer and all for the good!

Bravo USGA and PGA!!!


Friday, May 20, 2011

What's on your mind? Enjoying the Game

It is part of our American fabric to be competitive.  What other sport challenges our competitive nature more than golf.  Most sports are team sports.  Even the other individual sports involve a competitor that directly affects your own play such as in tennis or raquetball. Golf however is a beast all its own.

In golf it is man/woman against the elements, man against his ball and a hole in the ground, and most of all it is man against himself.  When out on the golf course and particularly in competition you are your own coach, your own team, your own cheerleader and your own critic - all wrapped up in the same person.  Target shooting, archery and cross country bike riding are the only competitive sports that come to mind that might have the same elements.

Being of a competitive nature and of course preferring to win rather than loose, why do we set ourselves up for more losses than wins?  The game is hard enough as it is so why do we choose to tee it up when we play on a set of tees that make it harder on ourselves to succeed?  Barney Adams called it "managed frustration." Consider playing one set of tees further up.  Get your buddies to agree to one round on those tees and see what happens.

Understand just how far you REALLY hit your average drive and adjust accordingly.  Note where the hazards are located.  Hazards are obstacles.  You play around obstacles.  Would you go running into a mine field or would you go about it in a systematic and concentrated way?  I bet the latter!  Apply that strategy to your golf.  Manouver your way around the obstacles.  Sometimes that means not playing your approach shot to the pin but rather to the largest part of the green.  Maybe you should play around a water hazard rather than try the heroic shot over the water.  Ultimately it's about scoring better isn't it?

If you find yourself having to hit too many heroic shots during a round maybe it's time to move up to the next tee.  Don't get me wrong, we all like to hit the occasional heroic shot.  Nothing feels better when you pull it off of course.  But honestly, a heroic shot doesn't have to be the 200 yard carry over a pond to a tight pin placement.  Nor should you have to hit heroic shots all the way around a golf course to have fun.  It could just as easily be a great pitch shot over a bunker to a tight pin placement or a hook around a tree onto the green, or even a great long putt that nestles up to the hole.

Change your perspective and make it just that - "yours" and not someone else's.  Your buddies apply pressure to your game simply by being there because somehow we feel we need to impress them with long drives, heroic shots and attempting the impossible.  We are suckered into believing we are invincible.  Sure it's fun at times but not all the way around a golf course.  Advertisers love to make you feel invincible.  You're not!

Try it the conservative approach around the course for a change.  See how you score.  I'm sure you will still get that occasional opportunity for the heroic shot but maybe even a better chance to pull it off!  Give it a chance!  What sounds better to you, 75 or 85?  What sounds better 80 or 90?  How about 85 or 95?