Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews

It is the last day of the year and clients are scrambling to close real estate transactions and take tax losses because of the federal tax law allowing businesses to offset losses in 2009 against gains in the prior 5 years and receive cash refunds for taxes paid in those prior years. In a simple example, if a homebuilder sells property with a basis of $2 million for $1 million, which is its fair market value today, it realizes a $1 million loss, but will receive approximately $360,000 as a tax refund from the federal government if it paid at least that much in taxes over the prior 5 years. Therefore, the homebuilder actually receives cash of $1.36 million and reduces its loss to $640,000. This creates a potential bonanza for investors or others that can buy properties at distressed prices, with possibly even a larger discount because of the tax benefits to the seller.

But back to important things like golf! While waiting to confirm that closing documents have been recorded and wire transfers have been received, I was looking at the Arizona Golf Association website and it has a trip from July 18-26, 2010 for up to 20 people to St. Andrews to see the final day of the 2010 Open Championship and then stay for 7 rounds of golf in Scotland, including the Old Course (by daily ballot), Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, The New, The Jubilee, The Dukes and the new Castle Course, including breakfast daily, three hosted dinners, first class 5-star accommodations at The Fairmont Hotel in St. Andrews, all land transportation by private luxury coach, valet and gratuities. This looks promising!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Festivus for the Rest of Us

This week is very busy with year-end closings, getting ready for my son's wedding and having family in town, so my golf game is suffering. I am going to try to get out and play sometime this week if my deals get done in time and the weather is reasonably good.

Since my children are the product of a mixed religion marriage, my son decided that we should celebrate "Festivus for the rest of us", which was popularized by the television show, "Seinfeld". Of course, in my family, we call the show "Kramer" (and we have a cat named "Cosmo")!

I cleaned up this year at "Festivus". In addition to some cool non-golf presents, I received

According to Ben Hogan, any golfer with average coordination can learn to break 80 if he applies himself intelligently. I am going to take Ben up on his challenge!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Selling My Car and Golf

I have been trying to privately sell my 2000 BMW 528i for almost one year! Previously, I bought used cars from the dealer and traded in my car. This time I bought a used car from a private party and had to sell my car myself. We listed the car in the auto trader magazines and once in a blue moon we would get a phone call or e-mail and when we returned the phone call or e-mail, the person never responded.

This week we finally had a real buyer! Mr. and Mrs. Canuck (this pseudonym was affectionately penned and approved by Mrs. Canuck) from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They have a second home in the Valley of the Sun and wanted a car for Mrs. Canuck rather than renting one each time they came for vacation. When SO returned Mr. Canuck's phone calls or e-mails, he actually responded! Mr. and Mrs. Canuck came to the house to test drive the car and they were a very nice and friendly couple. Mr. Canuck and I hit it off right away because all he wanted to talk about was golf and I was right there with him. He told me that he lives about a 5-iron off of a certain street and I confirmed that he hits his 7-iron about 150 yards so I could calculate the exact location of his house (it is better than a GPS!). I showed Mr. Canuck the Giant and I think he was a little jealous. I complained about my poor putting and Mr. Canuck told me that he swears by the cross-handed (or left hand low) putting style and that it took 5 strokes off of his score.

I had never sold a car privately. Mrs. Canuck drove the car while I talked golf with Mr. Canuck. She loved the car. Then Mr. Canuck got in the car to test drive it and quickly asked his wife to come for the ride. Uh Oh! As the car left the driveway, SO and I looked at one another with the same panicked thought: "Mr. and Mrs. Canuck are con men (or to be politically correct, con persons) and we are never going to see the car again", followed by "Mr. and Mrs. Canuck are too nice to be con men; of course they seem nice dummy because they are con men!", followed by (putting on our attorney hats), "is it theft if we gave them the car keys?", followed by "is this covered by our automobile insurance or homeowners' insurance", followed by "how long do we wait before calling the police?" Luckily, Mr. and Mrs. Canuck actually were nice people and were back in the driveway in no time at all!

Mr. and Mrs. Canuck bought the car and I am going to play golf with Mr. Canuck and a potential business referral from Mr. Canuck when they are back in town during the Spring! Golf is the universal language!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Wish List

Christmas is coming up (I already missed Hanukkah) and I have given my golf gift list to SO who is distributing it to my children and other family members. My list is pretty mundane. It includes Titleist Pro V golf balls, a couple of golf books, gift certificates to the PGA Tour Superstore, an external battery charger for my blackberry (more about that in a later post) and maybe some golf training devices (no clothing!). Any of my followers should feel free to send me golf gifts as well.

However, in perusing some of the golf sites I have a few more ideas for only the most avid golfers. First, and best, is the uro club. The uro club looks like an ordinary golf club, but is actually a container to store urine if you have to pee on the golf course! It even has a built-in towel over the handle to be discrete. The uro club commercial is very funny. When I was playing with Ace at Arizona Country Club last week we drove up to a tee box and right in front of us, in the middle of the course, was an older gentleman relieving himself for all to see. This golfer needs a uro club for Christmas! For my followers that abide strictly by the "Rules of Golf", I wonder if you need to count the uro club as one of your allotted 14 clubs under Rule 4-4?(you need to scroll down the middle bar to get to the Rule.)

Another Christmas golf gift for the trailer trash golfer or the euro trash golfer is loudmouth golf clothing. This brand is endorsed by John Daly. Do I need to say more (that was a rhetorical question)? If so, other celebrity spokespersons are Jim McMahon, the former Chicago Bears quarterback, and Alice Cooper. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem must cringe whenever he sees John Daly in loudmouth golf clothing (but the masses still love Big John!).

There are a number of other golf gag gifts (I bet you can't say that one 5 times fast!) including the Potty Putter, exploding golf balls, etc. that are stocking stuffers and are perfect for re-gifting or Secret Santa.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Tiniest Violin

Chad Feldheimer and I played the Legacy Golf Resort course today. The course was rated as one of the top 10 public golf courses to play in Phoenix by Golf Digest and The golf course was designed by Gary Panks, who designed a lot of the top public and private golf courses in Arizona, including Chaparral Pines, Firerock Country Club and the Talon Course at Grayhawk. It is a very "playable" course with wide fairways and very large greens, but it also has some well-placed and deep fairway and greenside bunkers and elevated greens that require you to carry the ball all of the way to the hole or risk the ball rolling back into the fairway off of the false fronts on the green. The course has great views of Camelback Mountain, Squaw Peak and the downtown Phoenix skyline.

Chad Feldheimer made me play from the "big boy" tees, which are over 6,900 yards. From the back tees, the golf course is a par-71 and has a course rating of 72.1 and a slope rating of 128. Our tee time was 8:44 a.m. and it was still brisk. I was dressed with long pants, a long sleeve rugby shirt and a jacket. The other locals were dressed similarly. The "snowbirds" and vacationers were dressed in shorts and short-sleeve shirts! By the turn, the weather warmed up to about 70 degrees, but there was still a breeze and it was a little overcast.

I was striking the ball really well. From tee to green I played very consistently and hit a lot of good shots. I hit 5 of 7 fairways and 4 of 9 greens in regulation on the front 9, but I had 21 putts (four 3-putts!) and shot a 48. Other than my putting, the hole that killed me was the par-3, 150 yard 7th hole. I hit what looked to be a nice tee shot but the ball rolled off of the false front of the green and into a monstrous greenside bunker with very little sand! I blasted out of the bunker and skulled the ball over the green into the desert brush, banged my club on the metal fence on my next shot and picked up for a triple bogey maximum 6 on the hole! If I have 18 putts and make par on the 7th hole I would have shot a 42 (Chad is playing the tiniest violin in the world for me)!

I continued to hit the ball well on the back 9, but still had problems scoring. I played bogey golf on the par-3s and par-4s, but was 4 over on the par-5s. The par-5s were long, but easily reachable in 3 strokes for me. That is where I should be making up strokes to bogey, not losing them! On the par-5, 580 yard 14th hole, I hit my third shot into the greenside bunker and took 2 shots to get out of the bunker for a 7 on the hole. On the par-5, 545 yard finishing hole, I hit my drive out of bounds and made a 7 on the hole. I did improve my putting and had 18 putts on the back nine for a 47 and a 95 for the round.

Chad was whining after shooting a 40 on the front 9 and going bogey-bogey-bogey to start the back 9, but then he caught fire and had back-to-back birdies on the par-5 14th hole and the par-3 15th hole and finished the back 9 with a 37 for a 6 over par 77.

Realistically, as well as I hit the ball tee to green, I could easily have shot an 85. After the round, Chad Feldheimer worked with me on my sand game at the practice facilities, but my confidence out of the sand is pretty low. If I can improve my play around the greens, I should be able to shave 5 or more strokes off of my score. I need to find a convenient short game practice facility to work on my game.

"I am such an Idiot" is running on-line surveys of the decades "best" putt, clutch shot, record setting performance, etc. A recent survey was the best "quote" of the decade and it brought back not-so-fond memories.

Phil Mickelson, one of my favorite golfers and an Arizona State University alumni, is nothing if not candid! Phil wears his emotions on his sleeve and is not afraid to show his feminine side. He is the anti-Tiger Woods. Sometimes Phil seems bored shooting a run-of-the-mill, unimaginative 68 or 69. Phil would rather try the spectacular shot and bogey the hole instead of hitting the mundane shot and parring the hole. But sometimes he just has a brain freeze (too much ice cream or something!).

The final round of the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York was his most dramatic brain freeze. After being known as "the best golfer to have never won a major championship" for quite some time, Mickelson finally broke through and won the 2004 Masters at Augusta National, the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey and the 2006 Masters at Augusta National. He was playing for his third straight major championship win and was leading the U.S. Open on Sunday with one hole to play. Mickelson only needed a par on the 18th hole to win the championship. Amidst some gasps on the tee box, Mickelson pulled out his driver and promptly pushed his tee shot far left. Instead of pitching out into the fairway, Mickelson played an aggressive shot from the trees and clipped a tree branch only advancing his golf ball 25 yards. His third shot buried in the bunker and all of America buried its head. Mickelson double bogeyed the hole and lost the U.S. open by one stroke.

To Phil's credit, minutes after signing his scorecard, Phil spoke to a small group of reporters and said "I am such an idiot". Never had more honest words been spoken. Tiger Woods should take note of Phil's words. This is a great link, but if you only want to see the meltdown (and only watch NASCAR for the crashes) go to 3:30 of the video.

Phil Mickelson's meltdown at the 2006 U.S. Open brings back memories of the most inexplicable meltdown of our time, Jean van de Velde at the 1999 (British) Open Championship. If you follow this link, you may want to avert your eyes because it is so sickening!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wow, Those Greens are Fast!

My friends and clients, Ace and Freddy invited me to Arizona Country Club to play golf. Arizona Country Club is nestled in a residential neighborhood at 56th Street and Thomas Road in central Phoenix. The club was established in 1946 and was probably on the outskirts of town at the time. Arizona Country Club hosted the Phoenix Open (alternating with Phoenix Country Club) from 1955 through 1973. Arnold Palmer was a three-time winner at Arizona Country Club and other notable champions include Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

The golf course is a typical midwestern course with a lot of grass and some trees bordering the fairways. The fairways were overseeded and cut very close, but the rough was not overseeded and is dormant bermuda grass. The distinction between the green fairways and wheat-colored dormant bermuda grass is very striking and pretty and also helps you to visualize the fairways. By not overseeding the rough, the club saves water during the winter months. However, what truly distinguishes the Arizona Country Club golf course is the greens. The putting surfaces are very large and undulating and the greens are lightning fast! If you hit the ball above the hole, three putts would not be unusual (this is known as foreshadowing). We teed off at 9 a.m. and it was overcast and a little windy. By the time we made the turn, the sun was out, the wind had died down and the temperature was in the high 60s or low 70s (in December!). This is why we live in Phoenix!

Ace has only been playing golf for a few years and last year she had a hole-in-one on the 130 yard, par-3 9th hole at Arizona Country Club. Ace has a beautiful swing, is methodical (or as she put it, OCD) and hits the ball right down the middle. She was the long driver all day long. Her husband, Freddy, also has a nice swing, but he does not play as much as Ace and likes to peek up on his swing.

Country Boy, Ace and Freddy's business partner, also joined our foursome. Country Boy has promised to take me to Paradise Valley Country Club forever, but I think he is embarrassed to be seen with me at his club! Country Boy plays a consistent big left-to-right fade (since he is a client I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and not call it a slice) and is very good around the greens. He made some nice putts to save par or bogey during the round and he also made some great sand shots, but it was usually after he left the first sand shot in the bunker!

We played a rotating high-low game. We changed playing partners every six holes. In a high-low game, on each hole, each team's low score is compared against the opponent's low score and each team's high score is compared against the opponent's high score. So, if one team has scores of 4 and 5 on a hole and the other team has scores of 5 and 5, the first team gets a point for the low score (4 to 5) and the teams tie for the high score (5 to 5) and no point is awarded. This game can be played with or without handicaps.

We played the white tees at Arizona Country Club which are only 6,319 yards. The course rating is 69.9 and the slope rating is 124. I drove the ball great all day, long and straight (although it was disheartening to be continually out-driven by Ace!). I had one horrible tee shot on a par-3 that I hit out-of-bounds and made a six! On the same hole that Ace made the hole-in-one I hit the ball to about four feet from the hole and made a birdie 2. I shot a 45 on the front and a 45 on the back for a 90. I played much better than my score indicates. The greens killed me! Although I did not keep track, I bet that I three-putted at least five holes (and that was with generous gimmes!).

Two holes typified my round. On the par-5 480 yard 8th hole I hit a nice straight drive and then I hit my 1-hybrid pin-high about ten feet off the green in a swale below the hole. I am now cocky and thinking about a birdie. Rather than chipping the ball and risk chili-dipping or skulling the chip shot, I elected to use the Texas wedge and putt the ball to cozy it up to the hole for the tap-in birdie. Well, the ball rockets past the hole and off the other side of the green and I then three-putt for a bogey 6. Then, on the 401-yard par-4 14th hole, I hit a mediocre drive and was about 180 yards from the flagstick. I hit a beautiful high 4-hybrid shot that I thought was going to land softly on the green in birdie range. Instead it caught the lip of the bunker guarding the green. I blasted out of the bunker and three-putted again for a double-bogey 6!

However, as the old adage goes, the worst day on the golf course is better than almost any day in the office! I really enjoyed this course and I hope that I have another chance to go low!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shark Shootout

With all of the talk about Tiger Woods, we forget that the other golfers on the PGA Tour are pretty good themselves! The Shark Shootout is one of those silly season team tournaments with two-man teams playing best ball, modified alternate shot and scramble formats over three rounds. The tournament is is hosted by Greg Norman and played at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Florida, a course that Norman designed. The two-man scramble was unbelievable! Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker shot a 13 under par 59 in the scramble format to win the tournament (they shot 6 under par in the best ball format and 7 under par in the modified alternate shot format). Three of the other top-5 finishers also shot 59s. Chad Campbell and Tim Clark shot a 15 under par 57 to finish tied for second and Tim Clark had an ace on the 183-yard par-3 No. 12 hole.

To put this in context. When I play in four-man scramble charity events on much easier courses playing from the forward tees, a score of 57 on a par-72 course puts you at or near the top of the leaderboard, even when teams are stacked with low-handicap players. If the charity event includes scorekeepers and no mulligans on a reasonably difficult course, you have a better than even chance to win at 15 under par! After a PGA Tour professional sees the speed and putting line on any makeable eagle or birdie putt, the odds are that he will make the putt. With the amateurs, on a 15 foot putt, the "D" player will be of no help because he will misjudge the speed and line of the putt; the "C" player will be a little bit better, but not much; the "B" player will have a reasonable chance of finding the right speed and line, but will not make anywhere near half his putts from that distance; and the "A" player will have a 50/50 chance at best of holing the putt if given the correct read.

These guys are good! (even if Tiger is taking an indefinite leave from golf.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eating Jim Crow!

When you are a hard-hitting journalist like me, sometimes you have to eat crow! The Heisman Trophy post is my second crow feast. But this will not stop me from taking tough positions in the future and telling it like it is!

Mark Ingram won the 2009 Heisman Trophy award in the closest balloting ever. He edged out Toby Gerhart by 28 points and Colt McCoy by 159 points. Congratulations to Ingram and my sympathies to the Tide and the "World Of" faithful because, I will go out on a limb again and say that, Mark Ingram will not be wearing Alabama crimson next year, but will be playing on Sundays in the NFL.

It is unbelievable that Ingram is the first Crimson Tide player to win the Heisman Trophy, but when you look back, the greatest Crimson Tide modern day (post-1960) skill position offensive players (and I am sure that this will create wide-spread controversy among the "World Of" even with all of those caveats) were Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Ozzie Newsome and Johnny Musso, in no particular order. Only Musso even made the top-5 Heisman Trophy candidates. Alabama has generally won football games on the defensive side of the football and as a team. Undeniably, the most famous person in Alabama football history was an end on the 1934 national championship team, Paul "Bear" Bryant (by the way the other end on that team was Don Hutson).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Heisman Trophy

Today, like Tiger Woods, I am going to take an "indefinite leave from golf" and blog about another subject of which I know very little, college football and the Heisman Trophy. I do know that the Heisman Trophy was named after John Heisman, who coached Georgia Tech for 16 years in the early 1900s, and the only two-timer winner of the award is Archie Griffin, the great running back from Ohio State University, in 1974 and 1975. Other than being the namesake for the Heisman Trophy, John Heisman may be most famous for being the coach of the team that showed lousy sportsmanship and ran up the score on an out-manned Cumberland College football team 222 to 0.

As usual in this hard-hitting blog, I will not pull any punches or equivocate. Notwithstanding Colt McCoy's pitiful performance against Nebraska last week, Colt McCoy will win the 2009 Heisman Trophy because of his body of work over 4 years and because he is the quarterback of an undefeated Texas football team (he probably should have won last year). Also, you could not make up a better name for a Texas quarterback than Colt McCoy! The quarterback triumvirate of Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy each deserve one Heisman Trophy.

The other four candidates for the Heisman Trophy are Tim Tebow, Toby Gerhart, Mark Ingram and Ndamukong Suh. Each player brings something different to the Heisman Trophy discussion. Tebow won the award as a sophomore. This is his second opportunity to tie Archie Griffin as the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy. His numbers are almost as good as in his Heisman Trophy year, but Tebow spoiled Heisman voters and losing to Alabama probably doomed his chances. Tim Tebow is the best college football player and team leader that I have ever seen.

Being near the West Coast and watching a lot of Pac-10 football, I saw Toby Gerhart play a number of games. He is the California career high school rushing leader so he is no fluke! He is tough as nails, hard to bring down and deceptively fast. He had an unbelievable season, rushing for over 1,700 yards and 26 touchdowns, and if I had a vote for the Heisman Trophy he would be my choice.

Mark Ingram plays in the toughest football conference in America, the Southeastern Conference. If he stays at Alabama, he may ultimately win a Heisman Trophy but this is not his year. The "World Of" Alabama faithful should be happy if he does not win the trophy this year because it may give Nick Saban a way of enticing Ingram to stay another year.

I had no idea who Ndamukong Suh was before the Nebraska - Texas Big-12 Championship Game (which confirms my limited knowledge of college football). His performance against Texas, 12 tackles, 4½ sacks and 7 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, may have been the greatest single game by a defensive lineman ever in college football. He single-handedly almost beat Texas, which would have denied Texas a possibility at a national championship and doomed Colt McCoy's Heisman Trophy hopes. He will not win the Heisman Trophy because only one true defensive player, Charles Woodson, has ever won the trophy. He will, however, overcome this disappointment when he is the first player selected in the NFL draft in 2010.

P.S. While I am making unequivocal predictions, I predict that Tiger Woods will be back for the Masters in April 2010!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rules of Golf - Playing the Ball as it Lies

Rule 13 of the "Rules of Golf" simply put, states that the golfer must play the ball as it lies, without modifying the course, except as otherwise provided in the Rules. You may not improve the position of your ball, your stance or the intended line of play, by moving or breaking tree limbs or bushes, replacing divots, or removing dew, frost or water. There are exceptions for moving a ball located on "ground under repair", teeing the ball and lifting and cleaning a ball on the green. One famous example of a PGA Tour player improving his stance involves Craig Stadler. At the San Diego Open at Torrey Pines in 1987, Stadler placed a towel under his knee so that his pant knee would not get wet as he kneeled to hit a shot from under a tree. See link. Stadler a/k/a "The Walrus", is not known as one of the better dressed players on the PGA Tour and this gaffe cost Stadler over $35,000 (in 1987!) when viewers called the PGA Tour and Stadler was disqualified.

As the Local Rules Committee I have modified Rule 13 slightly. Rule 13 is fine for the PGA Tour. The Tour courses are in pristine condition and when they are not, the course superintendent and the PGA Tour get an earful from the players. The fairways are like green carpets, the bunkers have the appropriate amount of sand and are perfectly raked and the putting surfaces are unblemished, with ball marks properly repaired and no spike marks. PGA Tour players get upset if a golfer walks on the "through-line"! (I had no idea what the through-line was until recently).

First of all, if you hit a shot in the fairway, you are entitled to have grass under your ball so if your ball settles on a bare spot in the fairway, you are entitled to roll the ball with your club onto a tuft of grass (you may not pick up the ball and clean it!). Not even the USGA or R&A should object to this Rule modification! This Local Rule is known as "winter rules" although I play it year-round and although we hardly have what a Northerner or Midwesterner would call "winter" in Phoenix.

A bit more controversial Local Rule is what I call the "Fluff the Lie Rule". This Local Rule permits a high handicap golfer (handicap to be negotiated but no less than my then current handicap) to fluff the lie within 5 yards from the fairway and 3 yards from the green. For a high handicap golfer to hit the ball within 5 yards of the fairway or within 3 yards of the green is a good shot. It is dispiriting to the high handicapper to hit a relatively good drive only to find that he can barely see the top of the golf ball and he will have to wedge the ball back into the fairway, or for the high handicapper to hit a good approach shot and need the strength of Tiger Woods and the finesse of Phil Mickelson to get the ball to, and then to stay on, the green. This is a golf course design or maintenance flaw! The high handicapper should not be penalized and by Local Rule is permitted to fluff his lie without penalty so that the ball is "sitting up" and he has a reasonable chance of contacting the ball with his club and advancing the golf ball up the fairway from the rough or onto the green from greenside.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2009 Q-School

The third and final stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying School, the most grueling six rounds of golf on the PGA Tour, ended on Monday. The top 25 finishers and ties receive their PGA Tour card and are exempt from qualifying for most PGA Tour events for 2010. The medalist was Troy Merritt from Boise State, who played on the Nationwide Tour in 2009. Merritt shot 22 under par. Jeff Maggert finished second and will play his twentieth consecutive year on the PGA Tour. Rickie Fowler, the Oklahoma State All-American finished eleventh. Fowler almost made the top 125 money winners on the PGA Tour in 2009 playing only three events and probably would have been able to bypass the Qualifying School if the Viking Classic was not rained out in Mississippi!

The best story from the PGA Tour Qualifying School was J.P. Hayes. Last year in the last round of the second stage of the Q-School, Hayes first called a two-stroke penalty on himself because his caddie changed the type of golf ball he was playing during the round but he still made the cut to the third and final stage of the Q-School. However, Hayes later determined that the replacement ball he used was a prototype that was not yet approved by the USGA, he notified a PGA Tour official and was disqualified. This year (with a new caddie I assume), Hayes easily qualified for the 2010 PGA Tour finishing in a tie for eighth place.

Tom Pernice, Jr., Jonathan Kaye, Shaun Micheel, Tim Herron and David Duval all failed to qualify.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Golf Lingo - Part 3

From time to time, I am told that my posts get too technical for some of my followers and I need to tone down the golf jargon. Rather than "dumbing down" the blog, I am taking it upon myself to educate my followers so that they can "talk the talk" (and sometimes I just run out of ideas and this is a good fall back!). If you click on the phrase you will link to one of the posts in which the term was used:

"Bad Course Design Rule: A Local Rule determined by the Rules Committee (me) that provides if a golf hole is so poorly designed or "tricked out" due to the location of hazards or the inability to see potential hazards that are in play, any golfer that falls prey to such bad course design may drop a ball as if the hazard did not exist and play his next shot without taking a penalty stroke. This Rule may only be invoked with respect to potential hazards that cannot be seen but are in play the first time you hit into the hazard. After that, you are on notice of the hazard and must play according to the Official Rules of Golf.

Bogey Rating: The United States Golf Association's determination of the playing difficulty of a course for a bogey golfer under normal course and weather conditions.

Cart Path Only: Oftentimes when a golf course is very wet or after overseeding, the course superintendent will not permit the golfers to drive their golf carts on the fairway or even in the rough and require the golfers to keep the golf carts on the cart paths. Generally, in such cases, each player hits his drive as far from the cart path as possible and has to carry 4 or 5 clubs or his entire bag across the fairway to his golf ball (and invariably does not have the club he needs!).

Course Rating: The United States Golf Association determination of the playing difficulty of a course for a scratch golfer under normal course and weather conditions. It is based in part on the length of a course, the difficulty of the putting greens and other factors that affect a scratch golfer's scoring ability.

Cup: The cylinder located on the putting surface into which each golfer must hit the golf ball to complete the hole. The golf cup is 4.25 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep. Most of the time, it seems much smaller or it seems like there is an invisible cap on top of the cup. Every once in a long while the cup looks as big as a basketball net. Savor those moments!

Fort Worth Rules: Local Rules generally imposed when one golfer in a male foursome fails to hit his drive past the women's tees. In that case, the "short hitter" is required to play the remainder of the hole with his manhood hanging out of his pants. This confirms to the golfing gods that although the humiliated golfer could not hit his drive past the women's tees, he is, in fact, a man.

Greens in Regulation: The par score on each golf hole assumes that it will take two putts to complete the hole. Therefore, landing your ball onto the putting surface in one shot on a par-3 hole, in two shots on a par-4 hole, or in three shots on a par-5 hole means that you have hit the green in regulation and should score a par on the hole.

Local Rules: These are rules promulgated by the Rules Committee at each golf club that differ from the USGA Rules or R&A Rules generally due to course-specific conditions. For example, in Arizona many Rules Committees invoke the "desert rules", which permit a player to play a ball that is lost or lies in the desert as if the desert were a lateral water hazard, rather than risk a rattlesnake bite. See this link for some other very funny local rules.

Pin: The flagstick. According to, "pin" is a term used by amateurs! The flagstick is a pole placed in the golf cup to indicate the position of the hole on a green. Interestingly, there is no uniform height for the flagstick mandated by the Official Rules of Golf (since the USGA and R&A mandate everything else!). Today, many flagsticks include a reflector so that a golfer can determine the exact distance to the flagstick using a range finder device. Various other methods are used to help the golfer determine the location of the flagstick on the green. For example, some courses uses different color flagsticks to indicate whether the cup is in the front, middle or back of the green, oftentimes red, white and blue (at least in the United States).

Rules Committee or Committee: Under the Official Rules of Golf, the Rules Committee is the committee in charge of the competition or, if the matter does not arise in a competition, the committee in charge of the golf course. When you play with me, I am the "Rules Committee" (unless I am playing with Turtle and then he is the Rules Committee!).

Scramble: A scramble tournament format is oftentimes played at charity events. In a scramble, each player tees off on each hole. The best tee shots is selected and all players play their second shots from that spot. The best second shot is selected and all players play their third shots from that spot, and so on until the ball is holed into the cup. If there is no official scorekeeper the winning score in a scramble could be as low as 18 to 20 under par. If there is an official scorekeeper for some reason the scores are not quite as low! There are as many variations of the scramble format as their are variations of 7 card draw poker!

Skull: Also known as "blade" or "thin" is when a golfer hits the golf ball with the leading edge of the iron, rather than the face of the club, causing the golf ball to fly on a low trajectory with little or no spin and to travel farther than desired.

Slope Rating: A uniform methodology for determining the difficulty of a golf course based on the following formula: Bogey Rating minus Course Rating multiplied by (5.381 men, 4.24 women).

Snowman: A score of 8 on a golf hole, probably because an eight looks a lot like a snowman. Golfers are nothing if not literal!

Tap-in Putt: Also known as a "gimme". A putt that the other players agree can count automatically without actually being played on the assumption that the golfer would make the putt. Also, in match play, if the other golfer has already won the hole, he may concede a longer putt because it does not affect the match. Generally, I do not wait for my opponent to concede the putt, I just take it!

I hope that this post will be helpful the next time you are on the golf course or you are sitting around the living room listening to Saturday Night Live spoof Tiger Woods!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Conquering Encanterra!

Sunday was overcast, drizzly and cold! It was not Arizona chamber of commerce weather! I had made arrangements to play at Encanterra, a Trilogy Country Club, in Queen Creek, Arizona. As I left my house at 7:15 in the morning in the cold and dark I was thinking to myself "what am I doing?" When I got off of the freeway and it started to rain I had visions of "World Of XXVI - Biloxi, Mississippi"! When I got to the club, the rain had stopped, but the temperatures were hovering in the lows 40s. We teed off at 9 a.m. and it was cold and drizzly, but I soon forgot about the weather because I was striping the ball!

We played the burgundy tees, which are 6,734 yards with a course rating of 71.9 and a slope rating of 125. Because the fairways were a little wet, we did not get a lot of role on our drives and the rough was so thick that it was hard to even find your ball and even harder to dig it out of the rough. I started off par, par, bogey, par through 4 holes. I had four bogeys and one par on the last 5 holes for a 41 on the front 9. I drove the ball down the middle of the fairway and hit about half the greens in regulation (Encanterra has some of the largest greens you have ever seen. I had to use my driver instead of my putter on one of the greens!). I had a lot of tap-in pars and no double-bogeys!

My SO downloaded the GolfLogix GPS software application onto my blackberry. It cost $40 for an annual subscription fee. When I got to the first hole, my blackberry showed the distance to the front and back of the hazards and to the front, middle and back of the green. It also allows you to keep track of your score, fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts, penalty strokes, etc. and it can track your club distances. I could read most of the information without putting on my reading glasses, which is helpful for those of us over 40 (OK, 50!). On the negative side, I was not able to get the club tracker to work (but I only tried it for one hole), it takes too long to update distances once you are at your ball and only measures to the front, middle and back of the green and not to the pin itself, and after four hours my blackberry ran out of juice because the application is running over the internet!

On No. 10, I hit my drive into the middle of the fairway and skulled a 9-iron over the green and made double-bogey. I made a great up-and-down for a tap-in par on the par-3 11 th hole. On the par-5 13th hole, I hit a long drive in the middle of the fairway and then topped my 1-hybrid into a deep bunker. I hit my third shot to about 80 yards and skulled a sand wedge over the green and made a snowman! On the par-4 17th hole, I hit my second shot to eight feet from the pin and had a brain freeze on the birdie putt and hit it 6 feet past the hole and missed the putt coming back for a bogey! I parred the par-5 18th hole for a 47 on the back nine and an 88 for the day! Although my score could have been a lot better I was very happy and I went home to take a hot shower and watch the Cardinals vs. Vikings on Sunday night football and the Suns vs. Lakers basketball game. The perfect Sunday!

Roll Tide!

Congratulations to the "World Of" Crimson Tide fans. The Alabama Crimson Tide rolled over the Florida Gators 32-13 and the game was not as close as the score indicates! Alabama manhandled Florida at the point of attack, both offensively and defensively. Carlos Dunlap, Florida's best pass rusher, was suspended after being arrested on drunken-driving charges Tuesday, but it would not have made a difference. Alabama was on a mission! Mark Ingram and Greg McElroy played great games and Nick Saban's defense stifled Tim Tebow, maybe the greatest college player of all time. Alabama ran 71 plays to 49 for Florida. Alabama rushed for over 250 yards and had a 40 minute to 20 minute time of possession advantage. It was a complete beat down!

Texas squeaked by Nebraska 13-12 and almost lost the game on a boneheaded play by Colt McCoy. With seven seconds remaining and the Longhorns in field goal position to win the game and with one remaining timeout, McCoy takes the snap, rolls right and when he cannot find a receiver heaves the ball out of bounds. The clock does not stop until the ball hits the ground and initially the clock showed "0:00" but the replay showed the ball hit the ground with one second or less on the clock and Texas was given another play and kicked the game-winning field goal.

Alabama will play Texas in the national championship game in Pasadena, California. Roll Tide!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Second Chances?

Everything is eerily quiet on the Tiger Woods front today. Tiger's attorneys must be negotiating the amendments to the pre-nuptial agreement with Elin's attorneys and the non-disclosure agreements with the girlfriends. Hopefully, no more girlfriends come out of the woodwork. No matter what, the "Tiger Affair" will not go away until Tiger and Elin, together, sit down with a friendly media personality on national television and tell their story. Tiger's sanitized public relations posts on his website are not cutting it for his fans and sponsors.

I had an opportunity to play with my friend the Joker in a charity golf scramble today for Habitat for Humanity at the Raven at South Mountain but work got in the way. The scary part was that I would have been the "A" player in the foursome! I have never shot over par in a 4-man scramble, but this could have been a first. The Joker is on the board of directors of the Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona affiliate. Habitat for Humanity helps families of low and moderate incomes become homeowners by building and partnering in the creation of affordable housing. The Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona affiliate has built more than 740 homes in the metropolitan Phoenix area since inception.

We are having a cold spell in Arizona. The temperature this morning at 6:30 a.m. on my way to work was 37 degrees! It warmed up to the mid-60s by mid-day, which is bone-chilling for us. The Joker e-mailed me from the charity golf tournament telling me that there were frost delays this morning!

This weekend I am revisiting the site of one of my recent debacles hoping to tame the Encanterra golf course. After my final seven holes at the Wigwam Gold Course last weekend I have a positive attitude and I am expecting great results! But see Albert Einstein's definition of "insanity" in "Rules of Golf - Ball Lost or Out of Bounds".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tiger's Reputation - R.I.P.

The "World Of" e-mails have been flying over the last couple of days about the "Tiger Affair". I have been given permission by Smooth (the man in charge unless Turtle decides that he wants to be in charge) to re-print excerpts from the e-mail flurry. Normally, the e-mail traffic is sarcastic and sardonic. The heartfelt depth of concern and legal analysis of these e-mails, however, is stunning. There is a sense of pathos and despair about our heroes and their human frailties and a yearning for the golf gods of yore like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Kite!

Now for the legal disclaimer: the opinions expressed in the e-mails do not constitute legal advice and neither Tiger Woods nor anyone else should rely upon this advice for Tiger's specific fact situation or any similar fact situation. Each fact pattern is different and if you find yourself in a pickle like the "Tiger Affair" you should immediately contact your criminal attorney and your publicist or spin control expert, and most importantly your domestic relations attorney that prepared your pre-nuptial agreement. I am sure that any "World Of" participant would be happy to accept Tiger Woods as a client so long as he pays an appropriate retainer.

The following e-mails were written on December 1, 2009 before Tiger came clean about his "transgressions":

Smooth: I do think that Tiger is getting bad advice and is screwing this up. If he had an affair, then he needs to step up and deal with it. If the accident followed a big fight with Elin, he needs to say so. But for his accident, he might have been able to say that the Enquirer is the Enquirer, and let me have my "Privacy." But now, the media will not go away until Tiger speaks. [Editor's Note: Sometimes your best advice is the first thing that pops out of your mouth!]

The Mouth: I agree that he has gone with a difficult strategy, but am not ready to say he is screwing it up ... Now that the FHP is closing their case, the refusing to cooperate with the authorities and the this could lead to serious charges/Court scrutiny angles go out the window... When she [Rachel Uchitel] finally decides to "open up" and she almost assuredly will, he can then decide whether to "come clean" or to continue to play the well-being and privacy of his family card ... At least this way, he has not yet lied to the public about what happened and it is always the lying -- not the mistake that led to the lie -- that the public will not forgive. Way too early to grade the keep quiet strategy in my opinion. [Editor's Note: The Mouth is playing it close to the vest like a good litigation defense attorney.]

Cameo: The Mouth makes a good case -- some real bad facts that El Tigre is dealing with -- hard to imagine Tom Kite getting chased by his wife with a 2 iron. [Editor's Note: Another litigation defense attorney managing client expectations and deflecting with humor.]

The following e-mail was written on December 2, 2009 after one of his girlfriends went public but before Tiger's mea culpa:

Smooth: You know, I think you are right. His best move may be to try to stay quiet.

However, the media will not go away. And it may be getting worse. This morning, there were several articles about another affair Tiger had with a waitress from CA. [I need to shut off this Google news feed.] The reports talk of 300 sext messages and a voice mail where Tiger asks the woman to take her name off her voice mail because Tiger's wife might be calling her.

On the one hand, with more stories like this, it might be easier for Tiger to say "ignore those lies." On the other hand, if there is truth to one or more of the affair stories, his endorsement deals have to be at risk. [Editor's Note: How many hands does Smooth have? This is the legal analysis known as "waffling", practiced by all great lawyers.]

Will Nike, Gatorade, American Express and TAG Heuer all keep him under contract AND continue to pay him at the same rate (he made $100 mm in 2007)? Compare this situation to Kobe Bryant. While an affair and a rape are not the same thing, I think Kobe lost all of his $20 mm in endorsement deals after his indictment. Also, golf is not like basketball or football. There are not many Iverson-like characters in the game of golf (save our buddy BIG John). You are selling to an older, more conservative demographic. [Editor's Note: As a Georgetown graduate, I take umbrage at the Iverson slight!]

In response to Cameo's comment, I have to agree that El Kitee would never get himself in this situation. But, had he had the Lasik and removed those glasses when he was in his svelte prime, who knows . . .

The following e-mails were written on December 2, 2009 after Tiger's press release:

Arnie: He would've been better off coming clean quickly, but he not only doesn't have a good story to tell, the story isn't written yet. Don't you think he and Elin are in negotiations now? He can't say much until things have stabilized between them. [Editor's Note: See "Tiger Woods - The Fire Hydrant Cover Up!"]

If the string of infidelity is true, it obviously is sad for the family. It also is surprising to me that even someone as remarkably disciplined and controlled as Tiger evidently couldn't control that part of his life. I hope it doesn't hurt golf too much--he's been a very good ambassador for the game. It may be that if the full extent of the problem is infidelity--and not things like domestic abuse--he can come clean and be forgiven. It never seemed to hurt Jordan's popularity. Maybe Smooth's basketball v. golf distinction explains that, but I'm not sure. You wonder if this is going to lead to a closer look into "life on the tour." I'd be surprised if there aren't plenty of racy stories out there. Wasn't Arnie a big ladies' man? Sure hope Jack was clean. [Editor's Note: I hate it when "World Of" Arnie gets all sappy!]

Smooth: Both Arnie and Jack (like JFK in the same era) played around.

Finally, discipline is one thing; fidelity is another; and stupidity is yet a third. How did Tiger think that he could keep this stuff a secret? Voice mail? 300 sexts ...? [Editor's Note: Smooth -- The Bill O'Reilly of the "World Of".]