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Slow Play is Killing Golf

I don’t know if you got a chance to watch the finish of today’s PGA Tour event in San Diego.  Farmer’s Insurance was kind enough to pony up for a tournament and all the big guns showed up.  Even the golfer formerly known as Tiger was there and resembling his former self at times.  Two Canadians, Brad Fritsch and Graham DeLaet finished in the Top-10 as well!!  I liked seeing Tiger at the top of the leaderboard. Not a fan of him of the course but I believe he is the best player of all time so I still enjoy watching his pursuit of history.

Unfortunately, in addition to showcasing great golf, this event shone a bright spotlight on SLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWW PLLLLLLAAAAAAAAYYYY!.  It took over 3 hours for the best players in the world to finish 9 holes.  Part of the problem was a congestion of players restarting their rounds but “Come on Man”!!

Having said that I like Tiger as a player, I think he is contributing to the slow play epidemic that is happening everywhere.  I think the biggest reason for slow play is golfers who aren’t ready to play when it is their turn. They watch the other golfers in their group and then when it’s time for their piece of artistry, they scramble around trying to find their glove, measure yardage, choose a club and fire off the shot.

Tiger may be the worst at this, especially on the greens.  He usually stands off to the side, possibly scouting the gallery, until the player before him has marked his ball or picked it out of the hole.  It is only then that he puts his ball down and proceeds to circle the hole once or twice in slow motion.  I have timed him a couple of times when it takes him over 2 minutes from the time his ball goes down to the time he pulls the trigger.  Really…?  You’re the best player ever and it takes you two minutes?

When juniors and college players see this, naturally they begin to follow suit.

Slow Play Challenges

  • – Tour players on TV are brutally slow and don’t get penalized often enough to change their behavior
  • – Young players and good players emulate the tour pros
  • – Intermediate players think they are better than they are so play the wrong tees and take a long time to hit their shots
  • – Beginners haven’t been shown how to play quickly

Some Solutions

  • – PGA and other tours need to start enforcing pace of play rules with penalty shots instead of small fines.  If tour players play faster, juniors and college kids will follow suit
  • – Golf courses need to take more of an active role in which tees golfers play from and flat out removing slow groups from the course when they don’t make an effort to keep up. This may upset 4 golfers but it will make everyone following them on the course much happier.
  • – Teaching professionals need to include a lot of etiquette and pace of play instruction in their programs for newer golfers
  • – All of us as golfers need to take responsibility for ourselves.  If you can’t already, you need to be able to get to your golf ball and, within 35 seconds, decide on what shot you are going to play, which club to use and have the shot in the air.  If you are waiting for others in your group to tee off or putt, your 35 seconds begins once it’s your turn to play.
  • – Also on us as players, we need to be “the group behind the group in front of us and NOT the group in front of the group behind us…  What te heck does that mean?  It doesn’t matter if you are not being pushed from behind.  It is your responsibility to be close to the group in front of you. If this isn’t realistic, you simply need to be on pace for a 4 hour round.  That means you get about 14 minutes per hole.

 

 Let’s see if we can get back to 4 hours being a normal time for a round.  I think we can all do our part and we will all reap the benefits.

NHL is Back! PGA Tour is Not (Always)

The recent end to the NHL lockout and all the discussion about how selfish the owners and players are got me thinking.  How does the PGA Tour compare?

A lot of us like the PGA Tour because the players only make official money based on their performance each week and not on how good they were the year before they became a free agent.  I agree and really like this about professional golf.  Yes, there are huge endorsement deals (see Rory and Tiger) but most professional golfers only eat what they kill.  ADVANTAGE PGA TOUR

What I can’t understand is how the players on the PGA Tour decide when and where they will play.  Can you imagine if Sidney Crosby decided he was only going to play 36 games a year and those games would only be in the Eastern Conference?  Fact is, if you try to that in other sports, you get fined and so does your team.  Why do the PGA professionals get to tell the tour what events they will play?

If I was the tour commissioner, players would have to play an event at least one time every three years.   If they were fully exempt for three years in a row, they would have to play in every single event at least one out of three years.  If they didn’t, they would lose their status and have to go back to tour school.  Ain’t nobody wants to do that!!  The exception would be the events with sponsors who choose to back events opposite majors or World Golf Championship Events. 

If this rule was in place, there would likely still be a PGA Tour event in Vancouver.  How could we expect Air Canada to continue writing checks for $7 to $8 million to sponsor an event lacking in any star power.  Vijay Singh and John Daly were the big names.  “Veej” plays every week and JD was desperate for events to play in…

So, as much as we all can say the NHL players are greedy and selfish and so on, at least they show up and most of them play hard 82 nights (most years) a year plus playoffs.  The best PGA Tour players have to play a minimum of 15 out of 40+ events and finish in the top 125 on the money list to keep their membership status. How can the players be allowed to miss 20 some odd events that the tour is asking sponsors to pay for?

What would happen if Tim Finchem, PGA Tour Commissioner, grew some courage and told Tiger he had to tee it up at every event in a three year period?  Would he go play in Europe or Asia or the moon?  They wouldn’t need to pay him appearance money anymore so…

Who’s with me?

Here are a few other rules I would enforce if I was the Commish:

  • Every player would be required to sign autographs for 30 minutes after each round
  • Slow play would be punished with 2 shot penalties and DQ’s.
  • I would set rules governing equipment and balls that would only apply to the PGA Tour to limit how far and straight the shots would go so golf courses could remain relevant and records from the past would stay comparable.
  • Every Tuesday would be Junior Day and all tour members would be required at the course for 4 hours to take part.
  • If a player hit it in the crowd and didn’t yell fore and signal with their arms, they would be fined $25,000.

Let me know what other rules you would like to see if I get the call!

Talk soon,

John

Planning for a Great 2013 Golf Year

With the new year just underway, many of us have made one or more resolutions about how we intend to make 2013 a great year!  While I will be using golf as my format, the goal setting approach I will focus on will work for weight loss, better health and fiscal restructuring as well…

We are all good at dreaming about something we would like to happen.  For example, most golfers would like to reduce their handicaps.  Most of us aren’t as good at making the plan of how we will achieve this goal.

When making a plan for improvement, there are three types of goals that I work with for my students:

–  Long Term Outcome Goals (Usually 6 months)  –  These are the things we want tpo accomplish long term.  An example would be, “I want to lower my handicap to 9.0 by September 30th, 2013”.

–  Monthly Performance Goals  –  These are more specific about a part of the game and will get us closer to achieving our Outcome Goals.  An example would be, “I want to increase my fairways hit to 70% by the end of this month”.

–  Weekly Process Goals  –  These are action plans designed to help us achieve our Performance Goals.  An example would be, “I will spend 5 ours this week working on my driving”.

One other key point with goal setting.  You probably already know this.  Your goals need to be “S.M.A.R.T.”, should be written down and put somewhere you can see them every day.  What are SMART goals?

S  –  Specific  (as specific as possible)
M  –  Measurable  (can be counted
–  Attainable  (it will require you to reach but is doable)
R  –  Relevant  (it is important enough to you to create desire)
T  –  Timely  (has an end date when you will complete it by)

 

So, here is a good way to make your plan for 2013.

Step 1  –  Assess where you are with the various parts of your game:

–  Ball Striking
–  Short Game
–  Putting
–  Equipment
–  Mental Game
–  Course Management
–  Memory Management
–  Nutrition
–  Practice Habits

 

Step 2  –  Set your Long Term Outcome Goals

You can see these are outcomes based on your abilities in all parts of the game.

Examples:

–  I will lower my handicap by 5 strokes by September 1, 2013
–  I will win my club championship on August 10th
–  I will qualify for the BC Amateur on June 23rd

 

 

Step 3  – Set your Monthly Performance Goals

These goals are easily set when you have your assessment results from Step 1 and are focused on parts of the game as opposed to the entire game.

Examples:

–  I will increase my putting percentage to 85% from inside 5 feet by January 31st, 2013.
–  I will raise my GIR percentage to 65% by February 28th, 2013.
–  I will gain 10 yards on my drive by February 28th, 2013

 

Step 4  –  Set your Weekly Process Goals

These are your action steps that you will make this week. 

Examples:

–  I will spend 5 hours on my putting this week
–  I will go to the gym 4 times this week and spend 90 minutes each day

 

Step 5  –  Set your Weekly Schedule

I recommend you do this at the same time each week.  Sunday evening is a good time so you can set your upcoming week, including work, school, family time, practice, play, workouts, etc.  You will be amazed how much time you have when you start being a little more efficient with your time management.

 

I hope this helps and as always, let me know if you want any help with your improvement plan!

Holiday Gifts for Golfers

If you have a golfer on your holiday gift list, you are facing an important decision!  What the heck should I get this person who chases a little white ball around for fun?

If you have a golfer on your holiday gift list, you are facing an important decision!  What the heck should I get this person who chases a little white ball around for fun?

If you are a golfer yourself, you understand the game and will probably already know most of what I am about to say.  If you are not a golfer, this next 4 or 5 minutes could be life changing stuff!!

First, let’s look at what I think you should avoid. There are many seemingly good ideas that actually aren’t used by most golfers…

Golf Gifts to Avoid

—  Golf ball monogrammer  –  seems cool but they rarely actually work and cool golfers use a sharpie.

—  Any sort of stroke counting device, beads, clickers, calculators, etc.  –  They make sense but no golfers I know are willing to admit they hit the ball so many times they need help counting!

—  Putters, wedges, drivers, sets of clubs… –  Golfers can be quite picky with respect to what clubs they buy and use.  It is also important to get your clubs fitted to you so they will work best.  For these reasons, steer clear of actually buying a club or clubs unless you are using it to wrap up and set up a possible exchange after the holidays.

—  Golf balls are also dangerous as many golfers are very loyal to a certain brand or flavour.  Check your golfer’s golf bag and see if he or she has more than one type in the pocket…

—  Umbrella  – every golfer I know has 343 golf umbrellas somewhere in their house and car.

—  Pretty much anything on an infomercial airing after 2:00 AM on the golf channel.  It will not shave 12 strokes off your score.  It will only clutter your garage until the garage sale 4 years from now when your golfer finally admits it doesn’t work…

—  Golf boots  –  Seriously, golf boots are sooo 2000 and never!

Gifts that Your Golfer Will Like (and Use)

—  A book with photos of famous golf holes or courses.  Always nice to have on the coffee table or in “the office”

—  As much as some don’t like giving gift cards, a gift card at a golf course is a great gift.  It can be used for golf, equipment, clothing and even food or drinks.  Very versatile and sure to let your golfer find something he or she likes…

—  Golf Lessons  –  Clearly this is the best gift for anyone, even non-golfers!!  Okay, on a serious note, if a golfer asks for lessons specifically or is always complaining about their level of play, a lesson package is a great gift.

—  If your golfer plays all year round, things like:

  • – really good quality outerwear (as they say, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing)
  • – golf mittens
  • – hot pockets (little packs that heat up and go in your pocket or mittens)
  • – a golf touque
  • – under garments that are thin, not limiting and keep the heat in

—  Instructional books or dvd’s.  While I think in-person lessons would be more helpful, lots of golfers enjoy reading about the game and watching videos from famous instructors.

—  The Golf Channel  –  In many areas, The Golf Channel is part of a premium cable package.  It shouldn’t be but is.  If your golfer doesn’t have the Golf Channel, they will love it when you set it up for them!

—  Golf related items with their favourite team logo on them.  Golf balls, towel, head covers, golf hat, ball marker, divot repair tool, etc…  Note, this does not include golf clubs or putters.

—  A distance range finder  –  hand-held device that tells the golfer how far it is to the flag or other target.  Good ones start at about $200.  Don’t get one cheaper than that as they are not accurate…  Bushnell and Sky Caddy are two good names in the business.

—  Golf Magazine Subscription  –  They will thank you every month!!

—  There are many gag gifts out there if you are only looking for a laugh. My two favourites are the explodung golf ball and the tee that will not allow the ball to stay on it.  Hours of fun!!  I once got a putting game you can play while sitting on the toilet!!  It took a while but I eventually got quite good…

 

Anyways, I hope this has been a little help to you on your quest.  I wish you and yours a great holiday season and all the best for 2013!!

 

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