June 2009


bad-golfer1

Twenty bucks says a mulligan followed this shot. (Image:rowanbarrett/Flickr)

The mulligan golfer is a varied breed of golfer.

The less offensive of this breed is the golfer who occasionally drops a ball down after the unexpected snap hook into the woods. He’s not really keeping score, this is not an official round, and there aren’t any groups waiting behind him.

The most offensive of this breed is the mulligan addict. He’s the guy that brags about his 84 after taking 4 mulligans, two of which he took on the putting green. He’s the guy that takes a mulligan on the first tee—four foursomes waiting behind him—after having hit range balls for half an hour.

The mulligan addict has no tact or golf etiquette. He’ll turn in that 84 with no hesitation, oblivious to the fact that his inflated 10 handicap will be a detriment to him in the annual club championship. He’s a reverse sandbagger. That 84 will quickly turn into a 92 when a few playing partners are eyeing the mulligan addict like a hawk.

I’ll admit it. Around the time I started playing the game in my pre-teen years, I was a mulligan addict. Along with my playing partners, I decided that mulligans were fair game on tees, fairways, and greens—and, of course, we had the “all-purpose mulligan” to use anywhere on the course. Awful. By the time I started playing junior tournaments in the summer, I had long since broken that habit—thankfully.

Now I’m no legalist. Sure, if you’re out screwing around with friends, the course is wide open, and you’re not going to turn in your score, then break the rules every now and then.

But for the golfing gods’ sake, don’t take a mulligan if you’re keeping score, especially for a handicap. Have some common sense. Don’t be a mulligan addict.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

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lucas

(Image: wendyu/Flickr)

You didn’t pick him. Admit it. No one picked Lucas Glover to win the U.S. Open.

Just three weeks ago, Glover didn’t even know if he would be playing in this major. But he made it through qualifying, and played relatively steady over the weekend to hold off Phil Mickelson, Ricky Barnes, and David Duval—who resurrected his game over the weekend, even bringing back the circa 1997 Oakley sunglasses.

I’ll remember this U.S. Open for the stories: the aforementioned Duval’s return from golfing obscurity, Phil Mickelson’s quest to win the tournament for his wife Amy—recently diagnosed with breast cancer—Ricky Barnes’ first true appearance on the national stage since his ‘02 U.S. Amateur title,  and, of course, the rain, the rain, the rain, the rain.

Mickelson worked his way into contention yet again, only to bogey two holes down the stretch. It’s all too familiar. Duval found himself within a shot of the lead late on Monday. Without a lipped-out par putt on 17, Duval would have needed a birdie on 18 to tie Glover. Barnes broke the U.S. Open scoring record over the first 36 holes, but disappeared late on Sunday and never found his game on Monday. This guy has to have one of the more unattractive swings on Tour.

For the second year in a row, we waited until Monday to determine the champion. With Glover as the winner—his first major and only second PGA Tour victory—it simply goes to show you can’t pick this stuff.

It’s easy to prognosticate the safe picks—Woods, Mickelson, Singh. But when it comes down to it, all these guys are capable of winning out there—even on a treacherous course like Bethpage Black. To borrow from a PGA Tour marketing slogan, these guys are just that good.

U.S. OpenIf you’ve got an iPhone and you love golf, you’ve got to download this app.

Beautiful, live video of marquee groups, constant live coverage from hole 17, and real-time scores all day long. Flyovers, hole information…you name it.

The Masters provided a great official iPhone app, and this one looks just as good.

Read more about it here, and download it in the App Store.

U.S. Open Week is here.

My favorite major, my favorite tournament to watch. Period.

Some people criticize the U.S. Open, saying it’s too hard, too tricked up, saying they don’t enjoy watching the world’s best golfers struggle. But not me.

I’d much rather watch a tournament in which even par wins over a tournament in which 20 under wins. I love watching those guys fight for pars. Maybe it reminds me of myself.  

One of my favorite traditions is lounging on the couch and watching all 8,000 hours of the final round coverage. Last year, I went into “blackout mode” while at work on Monday, somehow avoiding co-workers’ comments about the Mediate-Woods playoff. I watched the entire round on DVR that evening. I love the U.S. Open.

So what does the 2009 U.S. Open hold in store?

The Course

bethpage black

How bad will Bethpage beat down the pros? (Image: erova/Flickr)

Bethpage Black is one of the best—and most difficult—public courses in America. A legendary sign in front of the first tee warns golfers about the course’s difficulty. The Black will chew up your 2 handicap and spit it out.

Bethpage Black underwent a MAJOR renovation prior to the 2002 Open. Last year, I reviewed John Feinstein’s book, The Open, which explained the massive changes to the course, as well as the logistical nightmare of hosting this major.

The Black is a beast.  And this course is more ready than ever for a major championship. Read about some of the changes made to the course in preparation for this year’s tournament.

The Picks

Here’s your standard “favorite picks” segment. Every Open Preview has one of these sections. Take it for what it’s worth. No one ever picks the winner, excluding the given Tiger Woods pick.

Tiger Woods: This guy sucks.

Sergio Garcia: I keep picking him to win a major, and one time he’s actually going to do it. ESPN golf writer Gene Wojciechhowski points out that Garcia has never finished under par at an Open. No one is picking him, so why not?

geoff

Watch out for Jee Off. (Image: jackprominski/Flickr)

Paul Casey: Ranked #3 in the world. This is the type of stage Casey enjoys. I seriously think he could be in the final group with Woods on Sunday. It’s been 40 years since an Englishman has won the U.S. Open.

Geoff Ogilvy: Geoff  pronounced “jee-off,” has won twice this year—at the Match Play and the Mercedes Benz Championship. He’s a previous Open winner and legit contender to take the 2009 tournament.

Jim Furyk: Furyk always seems to hang around. He’s not long, but he’s a straight-hitter, which is going to be an asset on Bethpage Black. Maybe the 2003 Open winner will pick up his second major this year.

In Sum

Bethpage Black is the prototypical Open Course. Long, long, long and extremely difficult. The seventh hole alone is a 525 yard par four.

But the best thing about it? You and I could play on this track next week. It’s not a snooty private club; Bethpage Black is a course for everyone. We can watch Mickelson, Woods, and Garcia hit out of the same bunkers we have struggled to play from. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

The U.S. Open is here. Enjoy.

More sad news from the golf world over the weekend.

KenGreenFormer PGA Tour player and current Champions Tour member Ken Green had to have a portion of his right leg amputated due to injuries he suffered in a tragic car accident last week.

Green’s brother, his girlfriend, and his German Shepherd were all killed when a front tire on Green’s RV blew, slid down an embankment, and hit a tree. Green was in the back of the vehicle, and his brother was driving.

The surgery went well. Green is now recovering and says he wants to be the first professional golfer to pay with a prosthetic leg.

Green said the following in a statement:

I don’t know if I will ever play on the Tour again. But I do know this: I am so proud to have been a professional golfer for 30 years. I am proud of my five Tour wins and to have represented my country in the 1989 Ryder Cup. That will never be taken away from me.

You can’t always choose what happens to you in life; but you can choose how you deal with these setbacks. I’m not giving up.”

How inspiring is that? My prayers go out to Ken Green during what must be an amazingly difficult time.

Ah, the shot jinxer. This guy just pisses me off.

The shot jinxer’s method is quite simple. And, usually, he employs it on putts. Here’s how it works:

You have struck your 15-foot putt dead solid. It’s following the right-to-left line, breaking just like you envisioned. Your putt is inching closer and closer, honing in on the dead-center of the hole. But it’s not in yet.

As you prepare to pump your fist and celebrate a well-earned birdie, you hear the shot jinxer from 20 feet behind you: “Great putt!”

Suddenly, the ball makes a dramatic and other-worldly shift to the left, horseshoes around the hole, and rests on the edge of the cup. Par.

The shot jinxer only makes matters worse at this point. “Oh wow!” he says. “I really thought that was dead center. Tough break.”

You’re fuming. Or at least you should be.

Harry Potter of the Links has struck again, itching for any opportunity to fire his verbal hexes at your unsuspecting and defenseless Titleist.

lietzke

Bruce Lietzke: Caught in the act of jinxing. (Image: tpcsanantonio/Flickr)

Now, some shot-jinxers mean well. They are simply nice guys who really want to congratulate you on a solid shot; they just do it too soon. These guys, while irritating, are just not as versed in the congratulatory etiquette of the game. Help them along. Teach them. Guide them.

But the plotting, conspiring, pre-meditative shot-jinxers? Drop ‘em from your foursome like a bad habit.

Rumor has it that former PGA Tour veteran Bruce Lietzke was a legendary shot-jinxer. So much so that my friends and I coined our own term for the jinx. We called it a “Bruce.” For example, “Man, that dude totally just Bruced my birdie putt. I can’t believe that.”

The moral of the story: Weed out the shot-jinxers in your group—the “Brucers.” Or at least Bruce them back.

Two can play this game.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves: #1 The Shot-by-Shot Recap Golfer

tiger

Believe in Tiger, would you? (Image:scubaeddie32/Flickr)

Neil, The Armchair Golfer, believes all references to Tiger as “unbelievable” should be banned. I agree with him.

He’s started a humorous petition, encouraging the media to refrain from referring to Tiger as “unbelievable.” Everything Woods does is totally believable.

Tiger is not unbelievable. How many times do we have to see him shoot 65 on Sunday, chip in with a one-handed follow through, or hit 250 yard 3 iron to two feet before we don’t think anything is out of the realm of possibility with this guy? Seriously?

I think it’s mainly just media hyperbole. Announcers get carried away with the moment and then throw out words that sound nice but aren’t true. How many times have you heard Dick Vitale get carried away with Duke basketball? Same goes for golf announcers and sports media with Tiger.

At this point, it would be more unbelievable if Tiger didn’t make a comeback on Sunday. You expect this guy to do the unexpected, and that’s why he’s so scary. Scary good.

Okay, my two days of Tiger worship is done.

Remember, sign Neil’s petition here.

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