In the absence of anything to inspire me to blog about and refraining to comment on the behaviour of some of the fans at Bethpage Black I decided to show something from YouTube featuring my favourite golf course in New Zealand.
“And I kind of dummy it down and make it very simple, and I think that's what helps me,” so said Brooks Koepka at this year’s PGA Championship press conference.
Hanging in there
Brooks said, “If you just hang around - I think one of the big things that I've learned over the last few years is you don't need to win it, you don't have to try to go win it. Just hang around. If you hang around, good things are going to happen.
A winning approach
When asked, “We've heard you say several times majors are the easiest to win; yet that seems too simple for complicated minds. What has led you to internalize this approach which clearly seems to be a winning approach?” Then Brooks proceeded to explain the math behind his mindset.
“156 in the field, so you figure at least 80 of them I'm just going to beat. From there, the other -- you figure about half of them won't play well from there, so you're down to about maybe 35. And then from 35, some of them just -- pressure is going to get to them. It only leaves you with a few more, and you've just got to beat those guys.”
Not staying in the moment
Explaining why he has in essence a better record in majors compared to the PGA tour Brooks said, “I've gone out on Saturday and tried to build a cushion, maybe pressed a little bit too hard and gotten ahead of myself, where in the majors I just stay in the moment. I never think one hole ahead. I'm not thinking about tomorrow. I'm not thinking about the next shot. I'm just thinking about what I've got to do right then and there.”
Quote of the Day
“No one has the balls to penalize slow play.” - Brooks Koepka
“I expect to make at least seven mistakes each round. Therefore, when I make a bad shot I don’t worry about it. It’s just one of seven,” Walter Hagen as quoted by Grantland Rice who as a matter of fact witnessed Hagen make nineteen mistakes in one round in a North and South Open at Pinehurst and afterwards wrote, “He finished with a 71, ultimately winning the tournament. A mistake meant nothing to him. Neither did defeat.”
For sure it’s seven
As the fortunate recipient of a monthly newsletter I was pleased to note that a recent copy contained much about my favourite golf personality, Walter (The Haig) Hagen.
There were several numbers quoted in the context of, “just one of seven”.
Dear editor Ken the number is actually 7.
And by the way should you ever publish the quote, “Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” Which has been variously attributed to the likes of Ben Hogan please be aware that it’s an abbreviated version of The Haig’s, “You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”
The Match of the Century
Bobby Jones a contemporary of The Haigh also had his thoughts on staying focused when he wrote,
“The shopworn admonition to forget the last shot and play the one in hand was meant to apply as much to the good ones as to the bad. It’s just as important to forget the 3’s as the 6’s.”
Michael Fitzpatrick tells an interesting story, “Bobby Jones vs. Walter Hagen: The Match That Changed the Course of History” where Hagen would promote, "The Match of the Century;" a 72-hole exhibition match between himself (Hagen) and Jones who was was somewhat short of cash at the time.
Suffice to say the match ended with Jones suffering an embarrassing 12-and-11 defeat at the hands of golf’s first true professional.
Link to Michael Fitzpatrick
Quote of the Day
“My dear, did you ever stop to think what a wonderful bunker you would make?” - Walter Hagen
“Many of the DTC (Direct-To-Consumer) companies like Snell and Vice offer volume discounts. Many of the bigger brands offer early season incentives to encourage you to load up for the season. We suggest you commit to a ball and take advantage of the savings.”
That’s from myspygolf.com who advise us, “We are independent, unbiased and always put the #ConsumerFirst. We spend thousands of hours testing and researching products to help you get the most out of your game.”
2019 Golf Ball Buyer’s Guide
Mygolfspy recently released it’s 2019 “Top Performers” and what’s remarkable is that among the best of the bunch is the appearance of a DTC ball and a “cheapie” sold by Cosco; (In 2016, Costco started selling golf balls under its own Kirkland Signature brand logo for $29.99 for two dozen. It turns out that the balls are manufactured by Nassau Golf out of South Korea, the same company that makes TaylorMade golf balls.)
The Snell MTB-X is top of the list in two out of the three categories.
Distance, but note that is for those who have high swing speeds. For slower swing speeds it’s the Titleist Pro-V1x
The MTB-X is also considered to be the best value.
The Volvik S4 is revealed as being the best for wedge spin.
Two worthwhile topics
I’ll pick just two from mygolfspy's comprehensive content.
2. ALL GOLF BALLS ARE NOT THE SAME
Have you ever been told that all golf balls go the same distance? A quick Google search returns over 19 million results on the topic. While the internet might be confused, we’re not. Golf balls do NOT go the same distance, and the actual differences from ball to ball might surprise you.
Driver Distance (115 MPH): The average carry distance between the shortest and the longest ball in our test is 17.43 yards.
Driver Distance (85 MPH): The average carry distance between the shortest and the longest ball in our test is 7.6 yards.
Wedge Spin: There is an average of 1425 RPM difference from highest spinning to the lowest spinning ball in our test.
If that is not enough to convince you, consider this; at the fastest speed tested, the distance between the longest single ball and the shortest in the test was an astonishing 38.77 yards. For most golfers, that’s a 3+ clubs difference.
3. A Soft Golf Ball Is A Slow Golf Ball
A soft ball is a slow ball; it’s that simple. If you are playing a “soft” golf ball, it’s probably costing you distance off the tee (unless you swing under 85 MPH) and spin around the green.
A growing segment within the market, the soft (or low compression) segment of the market includes familiar balls like Callaway Chrome Soft, Wilson DUO, Bridgestone Tour B RXS, and Titleist AVX.
Firmer balls are faster, generally longer, and as an added benefit to many golfers, they spin more around the green.
We get that some of you love soft feel, but the reality is that the only golfers likely to see real performance benefits from low compression balls are high speed, high spin players. That’s probably not you.
Link to mygolfspy
Quote of the Day
“Snell Golf is not your typical value golf-ball brand. That’s because company founder Dean Snell has his name on the patent for the Titleist Pro V1. Combine that with nearly three decades of experience in golf ball design for Titleist and TaylorMade and over 40 patents and Snell brings a certain credibility to golf ball design.” - Golf Digest
“Old Tom Morris, pioneer of golf, or “gowf” as he would put it, said of Scotland, “The Almichty Maun hae had gowf in his e’e when he made this place.”
This country was made for golf and has some of the coolest courses on the planet.
From hidden gems ranging through the machair to the great destination championship courses, we list 20 every golfer should put on their bucket list.” That’s from Glasgow’s The Herald with the headline, “The Cool List: 20 Scottish golf courses every fan must play”.
Machrihanish Dunes a must
I shall refrain from commenting on courses e.g. the Old Course which are on every one’s bucket list and likewise Turnberry’s Ailsa course; Green fees: £375 for non-hotel resident, and focus on some of the lesser-known courses starting with Machrihanish Dunes.
“Machrihanish Dunes is the new kid on the sands, opened in 2009 on a stretch of coast that has hosted the nearby Machrihanish course since 1879.
Its designer David McLay Kidd described it as a returning of golf to how it should be played: “No longer is it a gentle walk in a garden, it will be a full-fledged mountaineering expedition.”
As for its very close neighbour at Machrihanish it’s said that it’s actually here where Old Tom first uttered, “The Almichty Maun hae had gowf in his e’e when he made this place,” upon viewing his task in hand to develop the course.
A Royal co** up
I can’t believe it there’s no mention of Royal Dornoch.
Castle Stuart which is just down the road is chosen as is Dornoch’s nearby Brora.
“The cult of Brora is one that keeps growing.
There’s a wild, authentic feel to the course, one of Scotland’s most northerly mainland golfing destinations.
Herds of cows frequently stray across the green. Dunes undulate. Sea spray mists the ninth, which is also called the Sea Hole.
Built in 1924 by James Braid, it’s one of the “Magnificent Seven” of golf clubs that form the designer’s Highland Golf Trail.”
Not by the way; the late Peter Thomson 5-time Open Champion described Brora as,"The best traditional links course in the world."
Not sure if it’s true
Historic King's Cave is one of several locations in which Robert the Bruce is said to have had his famed encounter with a spider but note that there’s some doubt but there’s no doubting that nearby Shiskine Golf Club is one of Scotland's coolest courses if for no other reason you can say you played the most famous 12-hole golf course in the world.
The Herald informs us, “It says a lot about the nature of wild Shiskine that many of its holes are blind.
Located on the Isle Of Arran, looking out over the Mull of Kintyre and the Kilbrannan Sound, it’s unconventional in its ways and idiosyncratic in its features.
Top 100 Golf Courses have described this course as “a shrine to the way golf used to be played” and noted that the course owes “only the barest influence to the hand of man.”
Machrie and malts
What can I say in my defence, I chose to play the Machrie Open instead of going to a whisky fair to buy some bargain price Port Ellen malt and my malt whisky investor friend has never let me forget my alleged stupidity.
From The Herald, “It looked a while back as if Machrie on Islay had had its day as a golfing destination.
What had once been the go-to spot during the Blair years for politicos wishing to escape, whilst staying in the nearby dilapidated hotel, went into administration in 2010.
It was saved by ex-BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies and his wife Sue Nye, Gordon Brown’s former diary secretary.
Now redeveloped this spot – spreading out over the dunes of Islay – is a golfer’s dream.”
There’s some debate on whether or not the course improvements are for the better or the worse but not to worry, if the course improvements are not to your liking, you’ll like Islay and its malt whiskies.
Cruden Bay THE coolest
The following is from my blog post 26 April, 2017
“Since I'm frequently criticised as beeing considerably less than objective in cases like Cruden Bay, I’ll leave it to the American golf journalist Alan Shipnuck who writes in, “No Country For Auld Men: To mark his 40th birthday, Alan Shipnuck set out on a 10-rounds-in-six-days blitz of Scotland”
Alan writes, “I longed to return to Cruden Bay. Back in 1996, it blew my mind, and ever after I pined for Cruden as the idealized essence of Scottish golf.”
The Herald informs us, “The stunning vista at the 9th hole, the highest point on this Championship Course, boasts views of Slains Castle ruins and has been voted the best view in Scottish golfing.”
But did not advise us that the castle is commonly cited as an inspiration for Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula.
“Originally an Old Tom Morris course, dating back to 1899, Cruden Bay comes with plenty of history.
Winston Churchill played golf there alongside Herbert Asquith.
In summer 1914 it was host to one of the most famous games in golfing history, an epic semi-final between Harry Vardon and Ted Ray.”
Link to The Herald
Quote of the Day
“If heaven is as good as this, I sure hope they have some tee times left.” - Lee Trevino, upon having just played the King’s Course, Gleneagles for the very first time.
“Woods' gum chomping drew attention all week. And although it's certainly not the first time he's chewed the sticky stuff during a tournament (We did some digging into this important matter on Friday when Golf Twitter took notice), it's definitely the first time he's worked his jaw like that from start to finish,” writes Alex Myers.
First it was Phil
Gum chewing among professional golfers recently came to my attention while spotting Phil Mickelson hard at it and now thanks to Alex Myers I am more knowledgeable when he writes, “Was he (Tiger) looking to "stimulate the front cortex" like Phil Mickelson.”
As for Tiger, "Well, I'm chomping on this gum because I usually get hungry, I keep eating so much," Woods explained. "And it curbs my appetite a little bit, which is nice."
So there you have it chewing gum may well be the answer to stopping snacking as well as learning how to activate your frontal cortex for better performance at golf.
Link to Alex Myers
Quote of the Day
“Forget dropping cash on a new driver or spending hours at the range. Turns out all you need for an improved golf game is...gum and caffeine.” - Joel Beall, from his article, “Can chewing gum improve your golf scores?”
Rory McIlroy discusses with Luke Kerr-Dineen, 5 books that have helped him play better golf however stop reading now if you’re thinking it will include classics like Harvey Penick's Little Red Book because Rory’s selection could be classified as self-help genre.
Luke writes, “I (Rory) meditated for 20 minutes on the Sunday morning of the Players. My routine now consists of meditation, juggling, mind training, you know, doing all the stuff to get yourself in the right place...I’m not going to go and live with the monks for a couple months in Nepal,” he said, “but just to be able to get your mind in the right place and be able to focus and to center yourself.”
As for juggling I recall Harvey Penick writing that tossing and catching your golf ball prior to playing is a good practice.
Luke writes, "It was fascinating stuff, and he even mentioned some of the books he’s been reading. Here’s a closer look at them."
The Obstacle is the way
I’ve picked my three of Rory’s best picks and given that until very recently Rory was having a bit of a hard time time finding form it is perhaps meaningful that he likes, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, by Ryan Holiday. And Luke advises us, “This book that draws “philosophical principles” from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to help form a strategies to overcome adversity.”
Top of the list
The first book comes as a real surprise, it’s the one which is first mentioned by Luke but can’t be sure it’s Rory’s top pick. The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandino
Luke writes, “That’s one that I sort of refer back to every now and again,” Rory said. The 1968 book is a guide to the “philosophy of salesmanship,” with a spiritual core that emphasizes that the first step of being a good salesman is believing in yourself and your work.”
Thinks maybe it’s time for me to go have another look, which presupposes I can find it among the very many of its genre gathering dust somewhere in my basement.
Choosing a focused life
With all due respect to Rory, who would have thought that he’d be into, for instance, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, by Cal Newport.
Rory says, “It goes into…[how] there are obviously so many wonderful things about devices, but only if used in the right way.” That right way, preached by Newport, involves only pursuing digital pursuits that bring “value” to your life.”
Now there’s a thought, “pursuing digital pursuits that bring “value” to your life,” and I should pay more attention to this one but I’ll leave addressing that subject until after the Masters thank you.
Link to Luke Kerr-Dineen
Quote of the Day
“Let’s go invent tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.” - Steve Jobs
Another one of Rory’s five picks is Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
“What I do manage to obsess about, even when asleep, is my inability to get the club away due to a bench blocking my backswing. This, more often than not, happens on the 15th tee at Wimbledon Park and I’m playing with Seve or Greg Norman, sometimes both,” writes Mark Townsend in “A look inside the strange world of golf dreams.”
Mark’s experience immediately resonated and in my case my (bad) golf dreams’ awareness all began when one night several years ago I was dreaming of beginning my backswing on the 17th tee at Titirangi and couldn’t get my club back because about one foot behind my ball was a 12 inch up-stand of earth.
More recently I was one shot away from qualifying for the Open Championship and I blew a simple 8-iron to the last green and ended up with something like a 12 on my card.
Now thanks to Mark I now know I’m not alone in having bad dreams involving golf; I’m not the exception but on a par with very many other golfers both amateurs and pros.
Take for instance (amateur) Graham
Mark writes, “Let’s start with a friend, Graham, who from the outside looking in, has no golfing demons. He plays off 6, has a remarkably repeatable fade and he has the short game of a wizard.
But when the lights go off he’s often in a world of hurt…
“The most recurring factor is a howling left-to-right wind, into. I play anywhere up to 40 shots effectively heading in a wide clockwise pattern, using every hole on the course, except the one I’m meant to be playing until I eventually approach the tee again, from behind, at which point I mercifully wake up.”
As for the pros
Mark writes, “Another tour winner asks not to be included for the sake of his own mental health but assures me that he has “enough stories to fill a small book”. Another wakes up when he gets DQ’d fo anchoring his belly putter.
As for Andrew Coltart, his dream is too long and scarey for posting here, suffice to provide a brief comment from Mark’s report on Andrew, “My (Andrew Coltart) one and only chance of winning the Masters has eviscerated with each chop of my sand wedge but my chance of now making the cut has gone up in flames too. I never do get the ball out of that drawer.”
And as to be expected in the way dreams work, Andrew never ever played in the Masters.
Link to Mark Townsend
Quote of the Day
“To be or not to be.” - Allegedly said by Hamlet when considering whether or not to continue playing golf.
For the record he did add, “To sleep – perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub…”
“Does this suggest that the Ryder Cup is over as a contest for the next 10 yrs,” asks (@cjgillbanks) at #AskAlan mailbag.
Not the guy to ask
Alan Shipnuck got it so wrong last time round and I quote, “The Ryder Cup is dead — you just don’t know it yet.
One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefiting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European players looking good
Colin commences his question with, “How come the Europeans have been so prominent on the PGA tour so far this season? They’re either winning or in contention every week now.”
To which Alan responds, “A lot of it has to do with where we are in the schedule: Florida has turned into Murderer’s Row, with Honda, Bay Hill and Valspar offering three of the toughest setups we see all season long. As we witnessed with the oppressive setup in Paris, the Europeans are simply better at navigating the skinny fairways where there is a high penalty for wildness. (The Players was a benign setup which suited Rory just fine.) Conversely, why do Americans dominate the Kapalua-Hope-Phoenix trifecta? Because these courses favor a bombs-away style. Expect the 2020 Ryder Cup setup at Whistling Straits to have wide fairways and minimal rough, helping the Americans to reestablish supremacy.”
Don’t tell Steve
Given that newly appointed Team USA captain, Steve Stricker has commenced his task of winning at Whistling Straits it’s hoped he does not recall Alan’s words of November 16, 2017.
Alan writes, “I (Alan Shipnuck) suppose that when all of the above comes true I’ll be celebrated as some sort of Nostradamus in knickers, but believe me, I take no pleasure in writing this column. The Ryder Cup, as we know it, was great fun. I’m going to miss it.”
It’s hard to believe that the 2020 match could class as a non-event.
Link to Alan Shipnuck
Quote of the Day
“Let me state for record this Euro team was amazing and they richly deserve the Cup. Cheers.”
- Alan Shipnuck
“Talking purely in terms of ‘dough’, year after year the best drivers make more money than the best putters,” writes Mark Townsend who has some very interesting facts to state his case that, drive for show putt for dough is a myth in the case of professional golf. But I’m not so sure it would similarly apply to the average golfer’s game.
Just gimme the facts
Mark writes, “Since the start of the 2018-2019 PGA Tour Season, the top five putters worldwide have earned a combined $3,819,365, or an average of $763,873.
One of these five is ranked inside the top 100 in the world.
In the same period the top five players off the tee have earned a combined $6,101,017, or an average of $1,220,203. Four of these guys are top 100 in the world.”
Advice for professionals
“If you’re a professional, and could choose to be ranked 1st in Driving Distance, or 1st Driving Accuracy, take the Distance all day. It’s also much more fun to hit it 350 yards than 280, writes Mark who also advises us that Phil isn’t so fantastic as his reputation suggests.
“His (Phil) short game isn’t even the best area of his game. In fact, it’s not even the second best area of his game. His success is centred around being excellent on approach and on the greens.
Since the start of 2018, he has ranked 272nd worldwide Off the Tee (OTT), 65th on Approach, 170th Around the Greens and 55th in Putting.
He hasn’t ranked inside the top 25 of Strokes Gained Around the Green on the PGA Tour since 2012, and has never featured higher than 5th in that list.
Of the top 100 shots around the green that were played on the PGA Tour last year, he doesn’t feature at all.
Fact about five of the best
Mark writes, “You could never say that professional golf is all about any aspect of the game but it is fair to say that different skills have varying levels of impact on a player’s consistency and overall performance.
Being strong off the tee and gaining strokes there has clearly become a prerequisite for a consistent ranking inside the top 10 in the world. Since the start of 2018 the top five ranked players in the world all feature in the top 10 of the SG OTT rankings.”
Link to Mark Townsend
Quote of the Day
“We believe that more strokes are lost with bad drives than are lost with bad putts. And although you have been brainwashed to believe that putting is the most important part of your score – your Driver wields even more influence than your putter.” - Marc Solomon
For several years. Since March, 2009 to be precise I have regularly posted golf blogs at Voxy and now's the time to also start posting them here.