Monday, August 19, 2019

Rate The Season

Masters is 80% of the grade, that's an A-.

Here's the rest. What is the final grade for 2019?
Image is a screen grab from Wikipedia this date

Given what an uninteresting course East Lake is, it's Ladies and Euro from here out. The Solheim will of course be fun, but wouldn't all of you rather see King's or Queen's?

Monday, April 22, 2019

Harbour Town Requiem for another year

50th Anniversary playing thus the 51st. So we get the plaid wrap for two years running, yeah, math is what you want it to be, a theme these days

Harbour Town has been a revelation and an historic course since being built. The entire Hilton Head idea seemed folly at the time. (There is an appropriately named Folly Field Beach on HHI ...) HHI was audacious with its courses carved out of low country swamps and has evolved into a very much favorite location to live and vacation year-round. The Harbour Town Golf Links as they are absurdly named is a world-famous golf course built by Jack Nicklaus and Pete/Alice Dye. It was one of two early designs Mr. Nicklaus did with the Dyes to start his design career (Can you name the other?) It debuted in Golf Digest's Top Ten when it opened. It has continued to hold a top spot in the lists of State's Best via the Anna Nicole Smith Factor - famous for being famous. Interesting because for years, Long Cove was the #1 course in the state of South Carolina  (And it is a better design than Harbour Town) until the more famouser Ocean Course at Kiawah came upon the scene. At this point in time it can be argued that Harbour Town is no better than the 4th or fifth best Dye within 100 miles, but that's not why I'm writing today. Rankings that are most important are "Which constitute your favorite?"

Iconography pays a big part in the memorability of Harbour Town and its longtime television presence, notwithstanding its coveted position as Masters wind-down. The (cardboard it seems) Lighthouse is quite iconic, the cluster of shops at its base is utterly forgettable.  The view up the 18th from the tee for the Tournament is now mostly blocked by built structures for the event. Seventeen was graciously opened up by Hurricane Matthew a few years ago and the view coming to the green on sixteen is now stunning. The winds this past weekend were astonishing with the tee moved nearly to the front of the front on 17. This is just beautiful, there is no denying that, it truly climaxes the course.

The course:

Routed through low country dwellings all homogenized to shades of tan and Live Oak mixed forests teeming with alligators remains very pleasant to this day. Every green leads to the next tee, even the walk from 9 to snack shop to ten is short. Eighteen back to the clubhouse through condotown is the only glitch, but you're done already and on a cart, probably. It's good, very good.

Par 3's are outstanding.  Four is a wonder where they hide that extra ten yards that gobbles up balls by the box, even the pros hit it in water here. The secretly elevated green adds to this. Similar deception is noted on 14, seven also plays longer than the card (same direction as four, basically) and 17 is one of the icons.  A joy to pay these holes, a challenge to finish all four with the same ball even if you stuff it in your pocket between them.  A Bravo! set.

Par 4's are less so. A great putting surface makes 3 and 6. Eight is tough as nails and with a very small "Green-light Go" area on the fairway. Thirteen is another icon with Alice's use of waterboarding, I mean sleeper boarding of the front of the green. A tree in the fairway and another small go area push the limits of credibility) but that's OK, trees grow.  We all know 18 immediately.  There is some filler, some holes that could be replaced by holes at nearby Heron Point (Go. Play!) with a net gain.

Par 5's are getting short nowadays, but are strategic marvels as are most Dye fives, even without trees. Fifteen is way opened up from its origins. Two plays as a button-hook or Shepherd's Crook due to a Live Oak, it's probably my favored hole of the three.

Cohesion is extremely good, you feel very connected to the low country and the complete change of pace for the final two is a bonus.

I am a huge fan of Dye Bunkering, both greenside and the use of waste and fairway bunkers. It ranges from meh on the opener,as opposed to the great bunkering on the first at nearby Long Cove called by Tom Doak the best "First Hole in America". I won't recount his argument here, it made perfect sense even if I think there are others that are better, he and I agree with the slightly gentle opener theory. Greenside bunkering is at its best on the par 5's, the smallish greens negate their need on most other holes, just getting the angle is enough.

Conditioning has improved such that off-season is not the embarrassment it once was in the distant past.  It is good all year. The use of local flora and Fauna and avoidance of ornamental plantings are a winner, Vegetation-wise. Live Oaks are a wonder of the low country as are the accompanying Fox Squirrels.

All the talk of how narrow Harbour Town has been muted over the years in reality even though the talk continues. Thus it is playable in a near Ideality if A) It isn't too windy and B) You play your appropriate tees.  Some of the pro's tees (Witness #3) are little Orphans you should avoid unless a 300 yard carry is a part of your game. Harbour Town is NOT as narrow as they tell you it is.

So, what's the point?

This course is manageable by most, a bucket list course for many and very fun to play. Play it. Enjoy it. It is great to see on TV, play and make memories.

Plus, I love the Low Country, I'm glad Pan won.

Maybe I can find some photos to add, but you all know what it looks like ....

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Opinions and the Twitter Age

I just want to comment how often bits and pieces of what someone has to say are taken out of context due to our ever increasingly smaller attention spans and willingness/ability to process.

We focus on what we want. We take away what suits our preconception. We take what we want from what is in front of us. How many of us actually read an Op-Ed in a Newspaper or online before deciding whether or not a Headline properly encapsulates content?

I digress to remember how I was taught to do a presentation; it applies to standing at the podium on the daïs just as much as it does to the written word.

  • Tell them what you are going to tell them
  • Tell them
  • Tell them what you told them
That's too much for some. But in that light:

Yesterdays takeaway from the 2019 Masters:

  • Tiger Woods won Sunday in a way he never won a Major before. 
  • He came from behind. 
  • He won like Jack used to win.
  • He got a lot of bad information and direction along the way.
  • He has recognized limitations of age and won staying within them.
  • The fact that he changed the way he thought is most impressive.  
  • I never thought he would.
I'm going to try to use the three steps more often. I have been mis-represented far too often.

Monday, April 15, 2019

#15, Late. Now for Part II

Any decent golf student should have seen it coming.

He had rounds and even tournaments where he drove it well enough. He putted as he used to many times, even had done enough to win in a small field at the Tour Championship. Most importantly, in the PGA last fall, he had proximity that in the end made the difference.  That can even improve, or at least remain more consistent. One thinks because that's what he's built on and doesn't need (although he sometimes uses) strength and power.

The first bit of evidence of the strength of proximity was early Sunday when on the Par 3 4th, he brought the ball in from the right side to that pin, he was good enough to land if just off and trickle it on to leave a makeable putt.  This was different, it was incredibly audacious.  In the end, he got to act rather Nicklaus-like as it all came apart so badly on the twelfth for most everyone else. That coupled with an enormous mental error on #15 for Molinari compounded by an unfortunate small branch and the Nicklaus Method was in play.  Nicklaus used to let everyone win Majors by waiting for them to screw up, that's why he had 19 second-place finishes. One wonders if he might have tried just a bit harder, maybe that's why he's so joyful in watching Tiger. He had said something like "Majors are easier to win, just sit back and let it come to you". That's easy to say when you are the best, but Tiger now just maybe can do it by following that road.

Now the question will be how many more as winning breeds confidence. As with the Tour Championship, The Masters is a very small field, adding more to the mix?  We'll see. I think TW is around for a little while more.

You can find it if you know where to look, but in 2008, I got called every name in the book (Before the #hater tag came along) for rendering my professional opinion that "It will be at least two more years before he wins another Major." Holy Cow, was I ever wrong. By nine years, but no one saw that mental and emotional failure coming.  I think that's the more important issue. I believed that he'd never win again. I believe he got a ton of bad medical advice, much of it his own fault by wanting perfection and "Only the Best". Good Enough is Good Enough! That lesson seemingly took him forever to learn, hopefully for his fans he has.

The enemy of Good is Better (And certainly best).

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Masters Week 2019 Edition - Part I

A good place to start, the ANWA, Drive, pitch, putt and all the foreplay now done bookending with the Par 3 contest - 

A U.K.  Magazine – Golf Monthly - is suggesting 3 ways to improve the Masters. U.K. Coverage (and world-wide), a Bigger Field and the Par 3 contest moved to Monday

Maybe, but those aren't the way.

It's important to understand what the Masters is, who it’s for and how the field is comprised. The Masters is the ANGC Invitational, it has nothing to do with anything else in golf, it is its own entity, a fiefdom, sadly without its own designated golf ball. Therefore you get small fields such that if your focus is on Men’s Professional Golf you won’t get it. It is also the reason you cannot legally get access if you don’t have it, save the Ticket Lottery. It is theirs alone and they do as they please, as they should. They are more controlling than Mother Superior and her faculty of Nuns.

The Par 3 tournament is playful nonsense. It also is on Wednesday to deflect attention from the main course for numerous reasons. It’s the epitome of celebrity golf, it needs Charles Barkley to make it complete.
TV coverage? It is far better than it used to be in the age of cable and streaming and again, it is completely under ANGC control. I used to watch highlights on CBS at 11:35 (23.35) for? 20 minutes on Thursday and Friday nights. That was it and coverage on weekend was only the second (Back/Inward/coming home) nine.
Of course the Field will remain The Field!

I’m of the opinion that it is unlikely that Mr. Jones himself, were he here today would have a completely different view. He oft expressed as he did on his final journey to St. Andrews, a love for the Old Course and I believe that the aggressive exclusivity of ANGC and the Masters would not please him. He noted as he was made a citizen of St. Andrews that "I could take out of my life everything except my experiences at St. Andrews and I would still have a rich, full life".

Individuals are a product of their times, they also evolve. It is impossible to do anything more than try to understand what motivates people, we cannot know what they would have done. But I do suspect Mr. Jones intended differently.

His golf nemesis as a youth could easily be argued to have been Alexa Stirling, and to have waited until 2019 for Ladies to play only one amateur round and one practice round on his course so inspired by The Old Course would have been anathema to him. He was great friends with Miss Marion Hollins, look at his history with her at Pasatiempo. He was a champion of women. Then for the Inaugural ANWA to conflict with perhaps the most revered Ladies Professional Major - The Dinah (ANA Inspiration, I know, but it’s the Dinah, trust me) was a huge and terrible mistake.

St. Andrews and the Old Course are separate from the Royal & Ancient, perhaps the real model for ANG-Club, while the Old Course belongs to the people of St Andrews as do all town Links. Although the St. Andrews Links Trust is the Grand-daddy, it is still the same model of the people.

His debilitating Syringomyelia led to his being a ceremonial figure while the tight-fisted and tortured man that was Clifford Roberts shaped the modern ANGC and Masters, in some unfortunate manners.
Rather than the St. Andrews Model for Golf, the ANGC and especially The Masters is the prototype and genesis of “Golf as a Reward”, I would like to know what He would have thought.

Enough of that, I'm picking Molinari, Fleetwood and Rose to be the top picks for a winner.

Let Spring, the Golf Season and the Prettiest Tournament in Golf begin.