Thursday, February 09, 2012

Black History Month

I am by no means an expert on Black History Month. Not even close. But I was listening to "Teed Off" on PGA Tour radio this morning and a gentleman called in with a question pertaining to Black History Month and how minorities (the caller didn't single one minority out) are treated/featured/showcased/portrayed by the golf media.  The caller's point was that when he turned on the TV, he didn't see anyone covering the sport that he could identify with, meaning there aren't many minorities covering golf.  The host of "Teed Off" kind of got off track and didn't really get what the caller was saying, but I think I did.  And I agree. The caller seemed to be saying that minority participation in golf isn't growing not only because of the expense involved, but because children don't see anyone on TV they can relate to. More minority children are likely to become meteorologists than golfers if you compare the on-air talent of the Weather Channel to that of the Golf Channel. Children, no matter their ethnicity, will find people on tv to identify with and from my experience, I know I identify with those who are more like me. I can only assume that's the way it is for everyone.  There are other elements to consider when trying to figure out how to grow the game of golf. For instance, kids are far more likely to gravitate toward football, basketball and baseball because you don't need a specialized field of play for those games. You can play them in any parking lot or back yard very easily and quickly, whereas with golf, you have to find a way to get to a golf course. Convenience is as much a contributor to the lack of minority participation in golf as TV's perceived make-up of their audience and the sport's expense.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Long And Short Of It

Is anyone else tired of the long putter debate? I'm very bored with it, especially since, traditionally, the stats don't back up the negative opinion associated with the unconventional putters.  For the last few years, I've checked in on the putting stats and most of the time the golfers with short putters lead the stats. And as I've always said, Tim Clark would be the #1 player in the world if the long putter was such an unfair advantage.

The most recent hoopla over the putter comes from Pebble Beach this week where the media asked Tiger Woods for his opinion on the long putter.  Where do I start with this?  First, should Tiger be thinking about other people's putters given his performance the last couple of years? Shouldn't he be minding his own business? Second, apparently he's taken it upon himself to discuss rule changes with the R & A? What kind of authority does he think he has to believe it's his place to make rules changes?  Third, given the many, many majors and other tournaments Tiger has won, didn't anyone tell him that if he goes out and maligns other golfers and rules in public that it's going to make him look like a jerk? When someone is that successful, the best course of action is to not criticize anyone or anything in public.

As for my opinion on the long putter, here goes: it's apparently great if you lengthen the shaft of your driver to get more distance. But you can't lengthen the shaft of your putter? Pot, meet kettle. Seriously, watch some LPGA golf and you can't help but think that the club is swinging the golfer rather than the other way around.  The only unfair advantage I see with the long putter is when you're taking relief and other guys have to make do with standard length clubs while a long putter player gets more distance.  Of course, if that's the fight you're fighting, then you have more to worry about than putters. You need to get back on the range and work on your other clubs.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Proposed Changes to Q-School

A couple of weeks ago, the PGA Tour announced some possible changes to Q-School, the PGA Tour season and the Nationwide Tour. From what I've read on the internet, these changes may include possibly starting the Tour season in the fall so some current Post FedEx Cup tournaments could have participation in the FedEx Cup series, Q-School graduates only having status on the Nationwide Tour, and the only way of earning status on the PGA Tour is through the Nationwide Tour and previous year participation on the PGA Tour.  I have a couple of opinions about these changes.  First, the European Tour had a non-traditional calendar for several years and figured out it wasn't working for them so they changed to a calendar-year based schedule. Why would the US PGA Tour make the move to something that's been proven to be a problem?  Second, Q-School, in my mind, is the toughest test a golfer can experience. Six rounds that will determine your entire year and possibly your whole career. I have so much more respect for any golfer who can survive Q-School and then follow it up with successful careers on the PGA Tour. Some notables who fit this mold are Dustin Johnson, JB Holmes and Rickie Fowler.  I think they are tougher, smarter, and stronger than the guys who have a whole year of chances to make it to the PGA Tour.

At play here, ultimately, is sponsorship and money. The PGA Tour believes that bigger purses equals success and these changes are meant to make sponsors happy (like Nationwide, chief sponsor of the Nationwide Tour). I have to think, however, that eventually, the PGA Tour will be unable to sustain the huge purses they've been offering in the last few years and that a collapse of the Tour is a real possibility. The European Tour doesn't have the money available that the US Tour does, but it has quality courses, diverse membership, and what looks like a more sound business model.  And of course, one of the contributing factors the US PGA Tour has to consider is its membership who has reportedly not responded favorably in the past to the suggestion of dialing back the size of purses in tough economic times. More, more, more isn't always the best idea. One day, the US PGA Tour may wake up to find that there is no more out there. When the well dries up, where will they be?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rock Rolls to Victory

Although I didn't watch much of the HSBC Champions tournament at Abu Dhabi, alright, I watched the final hole because I saw on the web that it looked like Robert Rock was going to win, I was thrilled to see that final hole and Rock secure a win. He beat the World #2, a lot of very good players and one over-hyped player. No matter what anyone else thinks, I think a Robert Rock win is the best thing for the European Tour. He's a well-liked player, a good, heart-felt story, and he plays a heck of a lot more on the European Tour than the other stars who some might have wanted to win. He'll pay it forward, pay it back and pay it all around with his presence, his competitive nature, and his contribution to the Tour. I for one can't wait to see him in Akron at the Bridgestone Invitational. I believe I heard one of the announcers say this win gets him in to that tournament.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Haney Hullabaloo

This week we were exposed to much discussion over the new Hank Haney book called "The Big Miss." From what I understand, no one has read this book, but that doesn't keep people from commenting on it, one of which is Tiger Woods. Reportedly, Tiger has expressed his concerns over this book and some stated he called Haney's writing of it "unprofessional." Now I have two issues with this.  One, wait until you read the book before you condemn it. It might not even be about you. Second, Woods is hardly the authority on professional behavior given his cussing, club throwing and tantrum throwing behavior on the course. I believe the correct course of action would have been to keep his mouth shut until after the book came out and then constructed some PR/politically correct response that would keep the media from blowing the whole thing out of proportion. By coming out now with a statement based on nothing but one man's speculation on what might be included in the book, it just makes Tiger look like a jerk.  Some might bring up this 'inner circle' excuse, but there is no such thing as an inner circle in an employer/employee relationship. Haney wasn't Tiger's wing man, he was Tiger's swing coach. There's a big difference there and it's called a paycheck.

I think Hank Haney will stick to the golf theme in his book and it will be some boring golf instruction manual. I don't plan to read the book, no matter the content. I don't need golf instruction as I don't play golf. And I am not a Woods fan and could care less about what he might think would be covered in this book.

Everyone will know what the big miss is later in the year when the book comes out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Something Went Right Today

I've been doing some work on the blog today. I've selected two golfers to shine my spotlight on this year: Gary Woodland and Erik Compton.  I want to add Tom Lewis but haven't gotten to do that yet. And I've added the Places To Start section in the sidebar. Finally, I've started adding back the Blogs of Note section. That one's going to take a while because I had quite a few on the old blog. Please let me know if the links don't work. On dial-up, it takes me forever to click on each one.

At least this part of my day went well. Had a huge snafu with Rite Aid Pharmacy today. Suffice it to say, I'm never shopping there again. Of course I only ever went there for one item and I can get that elsewhere. Lesson to businesses: train your freakin' employees.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Loving the Freshness of a New Season

I love the beginning of the golf season. We get to learn about new players on Tour and find out what's changed with the established players. Tonight for instance, I'm learning about Bud Cauley.  He might be one to watch this year and it's exciting to see someone who came out on Tour last year and earned his tour card by playing tournaments. Not Q-School and not the Nationwide Tour. I still place more emphasis on the guy who wins Q-School because I think that's really the toughest test and tells us more about the player than anything else. But Cauley's efforts last year are something to talk about.

As for the established players, the one subject always on the minds of fans early in the year is equipment switches. For some reason when a player has a really good year on tour, the first thing he does is switch equipment manufacturers. The second thing the player does is have a bad year with the new equipment.

And then there are all of the injuries we're seeing this year. Paul Casey, Lucas Glover. Granted, not as accident-prone as David Feherty (who details some of his painful experiences in the February 2012 edition of Golf Magazine), these guys should still be a bit more careful and maybe take up jigsaw puzzles for a hobby rather than physical sports.

So far in 2012, the nicest treat we received was the pairing of Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo for the Tournament of Champions coverage. They were funny, insightful, and smart enough to avoid the sensationalistic confrontations that media folks everywhere were itching to see. This was a good start to the season, despite having a Monday finish.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

A Time of Change

Much like the beginning of the new season of professional golf is a time for change for those playing the game, this is also a time for change for me. Blogger decided it knew better than its customers and completely changed everything about their templates and blogging programming. This means they screwed up my blog. I have no blogs of note.  No players to watch.  No places to start. I do have all of the website addresses saved but it will be a huge, time-consuming, endeavor to put them back in. Thanks Blogger for wasting hours of my time today for all of your 'technological improvements'.  It's only an improvement in technology if it can include everything from the past into the present, not render it completely obsolete and force people to start all over.