Saturday, January 30, 2010

Southern Dunes - Redux

I went out to Southern Dunes Golf Club today to play golf. Southern Dunes is my favorite golf course in Arizona! It is in the middle of nowhere between the City of Maricopa and the Town of Mobile. Mobile is best known as the home of a number of solid waste landfills. It took me 45 minutes to get to the course with no traffic, but it is well worth the trip. A more detailed description of the golf course is at the post entitled "Southern Dunes - An Unmitigated Disaster!" The staff at Southern Dunes is first class, from the moment you drop off your bag to the moment you drive out of the golf club. In high season, the rate was $59 through an internet special. The only downside (and it was not that bad) is that the fairways were not overseeded and were cut very close.

We teed off at 11 a.m. and it was still pretty cold for Arizona in January. The temperature was about 60 degrees and a little overcast. Chad Feldheimer, who is from northern Michigan, shows up in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. I am wearing long pants and a long-sleeve rugby shirt and I am still cold! By the end of the round, it warmed up to 68 degrees with clear blue skies, but there was some wind.

Southern Dunes plays 7,517 yards from the tips. We decided to play from the gold tees, which are 6,889 yards with a course rating of 72.6 and a slope rating of 131. Every hole on the course is well-designed. There are four par-4 holes over 435 yards and three of the par-5 holes are over 550 yards. I drove the ball well the entire round and hit my iron shots crisply almost the entire round. I had four pars on the front side and shot a 44 with one in the pocket for a triple bogey on the 5th hole and a double bogey on the 9th hole. On the par-4 5th hole I hit my second shot into the greenside bunker and should have been able to get out and on the green for no worse than a bogey. I hit two bunker shots thin and into the side of the bunker and got frustrated and gave up. I now have a bona fide mental block on the greenside bunker shot!

On the 10th hole I hit a nine iron to 2 feet and made a birdie! I played bogey golf for the next 5 holes and was thinking about a score in the mid- to high-80s with three holes to go. The last 3 holes ate my lunch! The last three holes were all directly into the wind. The 16th hole is a 547 yard par-5. I skulled a pitching wedge on my third shot, took a penalty stroke and had a double-bogey 7 (but on a positive note I hit a really good shot out of the greenside bunker!). Hole No. 17 is an uphill 180-yard par-3 surrounded by bunkers. The tee shot was dead into the teeth of the wind. I hit my 190 yard club on the screws, but a little high, and the ball landed in the front greenside bunker. I hit another good shot out of the bunker but three-putted for a double-bogey 5. The 18th hole is a 458 yard par-4 dead into the wind again. I hit a pretty good drive, but it landed in the fairway bunker. I hit a bad shot out of the bunker and was lucky that the ball was in play about 130 yards from the pin. I hit my 150-yard club pin high, but just off of the right side of the green and the ball rolled into the water. I took my penalty stroke, chipped up and two-putted for my third straight double-bogey and a 46 on the back nine and a 90 for the round. Making lemonade out of lemons, I may have figured out my problem in the greenside bunkers with Chad Feldheimer's help. We will see the next time I play!

I posted my score and I should have my first official USGA Handicap Index on Monday. I think my Index will be 15 to 16 because the courses I have been playing have pretty high course ratings and slope ratings. I am excited!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bandon Dunes - Golf Heaven

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is as close to heaven as a golfer can get in the United States. The "World Of" traveled to Bandon Dunes twice. The first time was in 2002 shortly after the second course, Pacific Dunes, was opened (the original course, Bandon Dunes, opened in 1999). And the second time was in 2005, just after the third course, Bandon Trails, was opened. With the opening of Old Macdonald this summer, it is time for the "World Of" to make another sojourn to the Oregon coast. You can reach Bandon Dunes by flying to Eugene and driving across the state and down the Pacific Coast Highway. The second half of the drive down the Pacific Coast Highway is beautiful although you do not see a lot of the ocean. The entire drive is about 2 1/2 hours. Or you can fly into Portland and take a puddle jumper to North Bend (not Bend!) and it is about a one-half hour drive to Bandon Dunes.

Mike Keiser, the owner of Bandon Dunes, made his fortune as the owner of Recycled Paper Greetings, an environmentally friendly greeting-card company. Keiser must have gone on a lot of men's-only golf trips in his day. Everything about Bandon Dunes is designed for the serious golfer. There are no houses surrounding the golf courses. You walk the golf course with a caddie. There are no concrete cart paths and you need a letter written in blood from your orthopaedic surgeon to get a special dispensation to ride a cart on the course. The restaurants are set up for tables of 4 and 8. The guest rooms are designed for two men with separate shower and enclosed bathroom. There is little else to do at Bandon Dunes other than play 36 holes of golf each day, eat dinner and fall into bed, and start again the following day. There is no "world class spa". Against his better judgment, Keiser had to install a business center and Wi-Fi service throughout the resort.

It would be sacrilege to pull out your blackberry on the courses at Bandon Dunes! I think that the caddies and course marshals are taught to shoot you first and ask questions later if you even think about it. The three courses at the resort, Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails, are all spectacular in their own distinct way. These are not Robert Trent Jones, Jack Nicklaus or Pete Dye-designed courses, where the golf course architect imposes his own style on the land, but designs that are born from the land itself. The architect's tours of Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes on the links above are interesting. Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes are true links courses with wind-swept sand dunes, thick goarse, constant wind whipping the flagstick and the Pacific Ocean crashing against the rocks below. You better know how to play the bump and run and the Texas wedge to play these courses. Bandon Trails is carved out of the spruce and fir trees and plays more like an in-land American course where you can shoot for the pins, but still has that rugged coastline feel.

Old Macdonald, which opens in June, pays homage to Charles Blair Macdonald, the father of American golf course architecture and founder of the U.S. Golf Association. It was designed by Tom Doak, who also designed Pacific Dunes. The rumors are that Old Macdonald may be the best of the four Bandon Dune Golf Resort courses, but that is like comparing a Ferrari to a Rolls Royce; it is just a matter of personal style and taste!

Any Bandon Dunes stories from the "World Of" participants (or other followers) are welcome.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A 50-Something Year Old Sports Fan's Dream

Sunday afternoon was a 50-something year old sports fan's dream. On the football gridiron, 40-year old Brett Favre and the 31-year old youngster, Drew Brees, were slinging footballs up and down the field in the NFC Championship Game, and on the golf course 60-year old Tom Watson and 50-year old Freddy Couples were shooting darts at the flagsticks at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii! I was wearing out the remote control.

The Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints, the two best teams in the National Football Conference this year, were never separated by more than a touchdown and extra point. Favre led his team down the field for a touchdown and Brees answered. It was like an Ali-Frazier heavyweight championship fight. It was fitting that the game ended in overtime, although a Lou Groza look-a-like kicking the game-winning field goal would have been perfect.

The golf was even better! Two great champions playing like they were in their prime punching and counter-punching. It was like being in a time machine. Watson started the day up two strokes, but when they made the turn Couples was leading by one stroke. On the back nine, Watson birdied the first 3 holes and Couples eagled the 10th hole and birdied the 12th hole. Couples birdied the 16th hole for a one-stroke lead but Watson answered with a birdie of his own on No. 17 by sinking a 6-foot putt. Watson hit the ball into the light rough on the 18th hole and Couples bombed his drive down the middle of the fairway. Watson's second shot out of the rough from 147 yards stopped 5 feet from the hole. Couples hit his wedge to 15-feet from the hole but just missed the birdie putt and Watson sank the 5-footer for the win. Couples shot a final round 64 and Watson matched him stroke-for-stroke with a 65. Both players experienced problems with the putter late in their PGA careers, but today both made some great long putts and neither one of them missed a putt inside 10 feet.

Practice Makes Perfect!

The weather cleared up on Sunday so I decided to go out to the Wigwam Golf Club in Litchfield Park and play the Gold Course for practice. The club has a practice putting area with a sand bunker in the middle with native bushes and concrete pavers (don't ask me why it is set up this way!). No one was on the putting green so I decided to hit some balls out of the sand bunker before playing. For liability purposes, I decided to hit in the opposite direction from the people on the driving range about 50 yards away and hit over the native bushes. After skulling three shots from the bunker that hit the pavers and ricocheted directly back at me, I decided that I could do less damage to myself on the golf course and headed to the first tee of the Gold Course. I decided to play from the Championship tees, which are 6,830 yards with a course rating of 72.3 and a slope rating of 130. The course was in great shape given all of the rain we had this week. Carts were only permitted on the paths so I decided to walk and carry my bag for exercise.

I hit three balls off the first tee before I put one in the fairway but from there things got much better. It was pretty slow because I was playing as a single so I generally played two balls from the fairway and did not keep score. I was driving the ball in the fairways and hitting my irons straight, but it was a grind because of the long waits between shots. By the 8th hole, there was a foursome on the green, a foursome in the fairway, a twosome on the tee box and then me. The twosome offered to let me play with them, but I noticed that the 12th hole was wide open so I bolted to the 12th tee box. I played the 12th hole through the 18th hole in an hour and I had one birdie, four pars and two bogeys (I swear to God!). I was hoping to go back to finish holes 8 through 11 assuming they would be close to the clubhouse, but the course is laid out in a links format with holes 9 and 10 the farthest from the clubhouse so I decided to call it a day and head home to watch the football games.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

$40 Golf Club Membership

Wow! I am now officially a member of the Sanctuary Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Luckily, the membership committee did not grill me on the Rules of Golf and my Local Rules like the "Fluff the Lie Rule", the "Plain Sight Rule" or the "Bad Course Design or Maintenance Rule". My Arizona Golf Association membership number is 12570521. My followers can go to the Arizona Golf Association website and put in my membership number or name to look up my USGA Handicap Index (don't all go to the website at once or we could blow up the website!). The system for posting a score is very easy. You input your score and the date of play and there is a drop down list for the golf courses. Once you choose the correct golf course and tees, the system automatically inputs the course rating and slope rating. I inputted 11 rounds (I did not include my practice round at Camelback Country Club). Right now my handicap index is "N/H" (no handicap). Handicaps are updated on the 1st and 15th day of each month so I will not have an actual handicap index until February 1. Stay tuned!

SO attended a continuing legal education seminar this week in Tucson and I was supposed to join her on Friday afternoon and play golf on Friday and Saturday. Instead, Arizona (and the entire west coast) got hammered with three separate winter storms. Northern Arizona got more than 45" of snow (I bet my out-of-state followers did not know that we get snow in Arizona!). Down here in the Valley and in Tucson we got drenched with 3" to 5" of rain this week so I did not get to Tucson and did not play any golf.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Golf Lingo - Part 4

My followers have been clamoring for another golf lingo post and you know how I hate to disappoint my followers!

Bermuda Grass: A type of coarse durable grass used by golf courses in warm, tropical climates. The grain of bermuda grass greens can influence putts, so golfers on such greens must be aware when they are putting with, against or across the grain.

Cross-Handed: A putting grip where the left hand is below the right hand for a right-handed golfer. Also known as the "left-hand low" grip. This grip is used to help players combat the yips.

False Front: The front part of a green that slopes down toward the fairway. The false front makes the front landing area of the green appear closer than it actually is located. A golf ball that lands on the false front likely rolls backwards down into the fairway.

Fluff the Lie Rule: This is a Local Rule that 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.

High-Low Game: A betting game where each 2-man team's high score is compared against the opponents high score. Whichever team's high score is lower will receive a point. A team's low score is also compared against the opponents low score. Whichever team's low score is lower will receive a point as well.

Left-Hand Low: See Cross-Handed above.

Pin High: A golf ball (generally on the putting surface) that is even with the pin but off to one side.

Pink Golf Ball Rule: An inviolate Rule of Golf that any woman (or man) that plays with a pink golf ball will not break 120, will not know when to pick up her golf ball on a hole, and will whiff on at least one swing per hole. There is a special exception to the "Pink Golf Ball Rule" for Paula Creamer.

Silly Season: The approximately two-month period between the PGA Tour's last official tournament and the beginning of the following PGA season. During this period, there are numerous events for PGA men's, women's and senior's tour professionals, including skins games, skills challenges, father-son tournaments, team tournaments, small invitational tournaments, etc. Players can make a fortune during the silly season. Fred Couples is a 5-time winner of the Skins Games, and has won 21 other "silly season" events, earning him the monicker, "King of the Silly Season."

Sleeve of Balls: A package of three golf balls.

Snowbirds: Retired folks that travel from Iowa, Minnesota, Calgary or other points north to Arizona in the winter months to escape sub-freezing temperatures and play golf. Many travel in large recreational vehicles and rent spaces in RV parks. Others have second homes in Arizona. You can generally spot snowbirds because they are driving 20 miles below the speed limit in the left-hand lane with out-of-state license plates. Interestingly, "snowbird" is also American slang for a person addicted to cocaine or heroin.

Tips: The back tees or championship tees on a golf course - the set of tees from which the course plays the longest.

Yips: An uncontrollable twitching generally occurring on the putting stroke. Similar to stuttering. Professional and amateurs golfers alike have tried many different techniques to overcome the yips, including hypnosis and drugs, the left-hand low putting stroke and the belly putter and long putter, with different putting grips. The most famous amateur case of the yips today is Charles Barkley. This video may adversely affect your golf game!

Many of these definitions (with editorial revisions) come from Gilroy Golf Course, The Golfer's Dictionary, Golf and Golf Games.

Monday, January 18, 2010

We Talkin' About Practice, Man!

On Sunday, I signed up to play as a single at the Indian Bend Course at Camelback Country Club. When I arrived at the course, I was told that the course was wide open and I could play by myself, but that the fairways had not been overseeded. I hit a few balls on the driving range, chipped and putted some balls on the putting green and skulled a few balls out of the practice bunker and I was off to the first tee. I checked the score card and decided to play from the tips, which are 7,014 yards with a course rating of 72.6 and a slope rating of 122. The sign at the first tee said only single-digit handicap players should play from the back tees. I teed it up from the tips and let its rip!

Without the contrasting overseeded green fairways and wheat-colored dormant bermuda roughs, it is a little difficult to visualize the fairways, but unless you have tree-trouble at this course you can play just fine out of the rough (actually there is little or no difference between the rough and fairway). Until you get used to the color of the golf course, it is difficult to find the white golf ball in the dormant bermuda grass (even in the fairways). Since I was playing by myself and thought it would be slow, I played two balls on some shots but I tried to keep my score with my first ball, although I am not going to attest to my score for USGA Handicap Index purposes (I do not want to get suspended from the USGA before I even get my playing card!). I also took some putts that may have been slightly outside the "gimme" range. But this was just a practice round.

With a couple of exceptions I struck the ball really solidly and my putting distance control and line were good for me (although I did not make any putts over 7 feet). Many of the bunkers had very small lips and, given my new bunker phobia, I was able to putt the ball out of the bunkers. I shot an 83 with 35 putts (which does not include the putts out of the bunkers or Texas wedges). I drove the ball 250+/- yards consistently and kept the ball in play. I had eight pars and only one double bogey. I played the four par-3s in two over par with one three-putt. When I miss the green, in order to score better, I need to be able to get "up and down" to save par.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Desert Nomad Golf Club - No Way!

I am now serious about finding a licensed golf club so that I can get a USGA Handicap Index. A "golf club" is defined by the United States Golf Association as an organization of at least ten individual members that operates under bylaws with committees (including a Handicap Committee) to supervise golf activities, provide peer review, and maintain the integrity of the USGA Handicap System. A golf club is one of three (3) types:

1. It is located at a single specific golf course with a valid USGA Course Rating and USGA Slope Rating where a majority of the club's events are played and the club's scoring records reside (e.g., Phoenix Country Club); or

2. Its members are affiliated or known to one another via a business, fraternal, ethnic or social organization. The majority of the club members had an affiliation prior to organizing the club (e.g., Rotary Club); or

3. The members had no prior affiliation and a majority of the recruiting and sign-up of the membership is done by solicitation to the general public (e.g., Internet, newspaper).

There is also an option to form your own golf club if a licensed golf club is not readily available to you. The club can be formed from business associates or just golfing friends, provided that they live in a close geographic area and play golf regularly together.

Yesterday, I went to the Arizona Golf Association website to join a licensed golf club. I completed all of the required information and checked the box that I was interested in joining a club in Phoenix. My choices were the AGA Bogey Club, the Desert Nomads Golf Club or the Ping Golf Association. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if you are a lottery winner for play at St. Andrews and your home club name on the ballot sheet is listed as the "Desert Nomad Golf Club"! I went back and checked the Scottsdale box, which is more upscale. Sanctuary Golf Course at Westworld was one of the Scottsdale club choices. I have never played this course because the write-ups say that it has tight fairways, which is not conducive to my game, but the course is beautiful and it is an Audubon Signature golf course. Of course, when I tried to sign up, the Arizona Golf Association website gave me an error-message!

I tried to sign up again today to join a golf club and the Arizona Golf Association website worked like a charm. After completing my application information and paying $40, I immediately received an e-mail telling me that my application for membership at the Sanctuary Golf Club was submitted to the club. Upon approval, the club will activate my membership and provide me with my member number and additional club information. Once that occurs I will be able to post scores and maintain a USGA Handicap Index. I am so excited! I hope that the club does not blackball me!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Walk in the Park

I was supposed to play golf on Saturday with Fred Flintstone and Bamm-Bamm. Bamm-Bamm is home for the holiday break and he is talking his usual smack. Due to frost on the greens in the morning all tee times were delayed and we did not have time to play. Instead, we hit the driving range, chipping green, putting green and bunkers at the Phoenix Country Club practice facility and talked a lot of smack. Fred is a really good short game player, although his putting stroke is not quite as steady as it used to be. As you would expect, Bamm-Bamm has the touch of an 800-pound gorilla! Fred tried to work with me on my bunker play, but ultimately got disgusted and gave up. It was pretty dismal! But I was hitting my irons well and chipping really well. On the putting green, Fred Flintstone always has some game that I have never played. For some reason Fred always wins these games! Go figure! Bamm-Bamm is returning to school this week so we are going to try to play in the afternoon before he leaves. Since we are "even for life" it is like taking candy from a baby.

Fred and I played hooky on Monday afternoon and played golf at the Phoenix Country Club. Bamm-Bamm helped his girlfriend get ready to return to college. It was a beautiful low-70s afternoon and we decided to walk and enjoy the mid-January weather in Phoenix. When God invented golf, he intended that man (and woman) walk the golf course. We did not get started until about 2:30 so we were really hustling to try to finish before sunset at 5:30. There was an older gentlemen and his wife on the first tee when we arrived. The woman was playing pink golf balls (the kiss of death!) and whiffed on her first shot. We decided to walk to the second tee to begin the round. We played from the tips, which are 6,764 yards with a course rating of 72.4 and a slope rating of 129. The course has a lot of well-placed trees, including some that block your shot to the green from the fairway (see Bad Course Design Rule)! I started off well just missing a birdie on the par-3 second hole and I hit the ball solidly all round, but I had a few mishaps and errant shots and some bad luck! Fred cruised around the course making pars and bogeys and shooting his usual low 80s score. Since I did not have a scorecard and my Golf Logix GPS died at the turn (I forgot my Energizer XP2000 Power Pack), I lost track of my score (which gives you some indication of how high it was!). We finished the 18th hole just as the sun was setting and could have gone back and finished the first hole, but in the spirit of laissez faire, we decided to call it a day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Glimmer of Hope

I played golf with my friend Digger on Sunday at Moon Valley Country Club. The weather was in the mid-60s and a little overcast. I was dressed in long pants and a long-sleeve rugby shirt and I was still cold. I have become an Arizona weather wimp! We played from the gold tees, which are 6,584 yards with a course rating of 71.1 and a slope rating of 120. This course is a bear from the tips, playing over 7,200 yards. At some point, Digger and I need to play from the tips just for laughs.

I may have to change Digger's pseudonym because he is no longer taking the large tiger pelt divots on each swing. He mentioned something about the course superintendent threatening him with club expulsion if he did not adjust his swing plane. Digger is hitting the ball much better, but taking too many strokes around the greens to score well. Moon Valley has a short par-3 course called the "Moonwalk" and Digger needs to get his young son out to play that course and work on his short game.

I am really starting to see improvement in my game. I am hitting the ball generally where I aim and I am making good, solid contact on virtually every swing. That hubris will probably be the kiss of death for my game! On the first hole I hit the ball into the greenside bunker and took two shots to get out of the bunker for a double bogey 6. I then parred 4 of the next 8 holes and finished the front 9 holes with a 42! I had two pars and one double-bogey on the back 9 holes for a 44 and an 86 total! I was one over par on the four par-3 holes. I hit 6 out of 14 fairways and my misses were still playable (no out-of-bounds penalties), but I only hit 4 greens in regulation. Oftentimes, I was just off of the green and using my Texas wedge, but I had too many chips and two putts from the fringe of the green! I need to keep working on my short game to lower my score.

I have been using my GolfLogix GPS application on my Blackberry the last few times I played golf. Previously, at about the 15th hole the battery dies and I cannot get information or input information for the remainder of the round. For Festivus for the Rest of Us my SO bought me the Energizer XP2000 Power Pack that attaches to a Blackberry and provides additional battery capacity. It worked like a dream. I had no problem with battery power or back-lighting and it seemed to take less time to get satellite distances once you were stationary. The power pack costs $40.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Congratulations to the Ala-Freakin'-Bama faithful (I love this Trace Adkins song)! A national championship and its first Heisman trophy winner in the same season! In six months no one will remember that Colt McCoy was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury on the Longhorn's first possession. Gilbert Grape (I mean Garrett Gilbert) was simply overmatched in the first half by a combination of the Crimson Tide defense and his own offensive coordinator. Once Colt McCoy was out of the game, the game plan was to run twice up the middle for short losses on first and second down and then try to complete a screen pass or shovel pass or run a draw play on third down and 14! Good luck against the best defense in the country!

When Texas got the ball back with less than 30 seconds in the first half and ran on first down for 9 yards, it looked like Texas would go into the locker room losing 17 to 6 and hoping that Colt McCoy might lead a comeback in the second half. Instead, for some inexplicable reason, Coach Brown calls a timeout and then the offensive coordinator (see above) calls a shovel pass that is intercepted and returned for a touchdown to increase the Tide's lead to 24 to 6 at halftime, at which point all of the televisions in the United States (except in Alabama and the women that wanted to see the halftime show) went black.

I used to be a Mack Brown fan mostly because he is Watson Brown's younger brother. Watson Brown was the offensive coordinator of the formidable Vanderbilt Commodores in 1981, my first year at Vanderbilt. Watson was the quarterback at Vanderbilt from 1969 to 1972 when the Commodores upset the Crimson Tide 14 to 10 in 1969; it was Vanderbilt’s first victory over Alabama since 1956 and I do not think Vandy has beaten Alabama since then (I hate to bring up that nightmare for Crimson Tide fans at this time, but I do not want them to get too cocky!), but the Dores came close when the "World Of" went to Tuscaloosa in 2006 (I am sure that High Right will correct me if there have been other memorable Vandy victories in his lifetime). Back to Mack Brown. After his clock management almost nightmare in the last drive against Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship Game and the shovel pass at the end of the first half of the BCS National Championship Game, I am questioning Mack Brown's football intelligence! To Mack Brown's credit, today's newspaper says that Colt McCoy was begging to go back into the game and his father said the injury was not that bad (for the benefit of the NFL scouts), but Mack erred on the side of caution (and Colt's future) and did not put him back in the game.

By the time that the rest of the country realized that this Gilbert Grape-kid was pretty good and Texas removed the offensive play-calling shackles, Alabama was leading 24 to 21 and Texas had the ball on its 7 yard line with about 3 minutes to go and momentum favoring the Longhorns. I could hear a pin drop all the way in Arizona from the homes of Crimson Tide in Birmingham and Turtle in Guntersville (The Mouth is never quiet!). As soon as the announcers said that the Texas quarterback had not been sacked all game, Alabama blitzed from the blind side and Eryk Anders (his mother must have been a spelling bee champion!) caused a fumble, followed by two more interceptions and two Alabama touchdowns, making the final score 37 to 21, Crimson Tide!

Finally, what was up with Nick Saban and the Gatorade bath? OK, the defense was too quick and hit him upside the head with the bucket (but isn't that what Alabama football is all about!). Lighten up Nick, you just won the national championship and you are going to Disneyworld!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Harvey Penick's Little Red Book

I am reading "Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf", which is a compilation of his notes and observations that have been tried and tested with success over many years. Harvey Penick taught golf for over 60 years and his pupils include Ben Crenshaw, "Tommy" Kite, Betsey Rawls, Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright, as well as numerous duffers, so his credentials are well-established. His little red book is only 175 pages long with about 20 pages of introductory comments from Crenshaw, Kite, Rawls, Whitworth and Wright. Harvey passed away in 1995 right before the Masters. Ben Crenshaw won the Masters that year and dedicated his victory to his long-time teacher and friend Harvey Penick (Tiger Woods was the low amateur at that Masters).

I have read a number of golf instruction books and articles, including "Golf for Dummies" by Gary McCord (for the life of me I could not understand that book!), and this is the simplest golf instructional book that I have ever read. Much of what Penick espouses is good old-fashioned common sense, visualizing and the power of positive thinking. He is very careful not to use negative words even when they are used in a different context. For example, he does not like to say "choke down on the club" because of the negative connotation, but rather says "grip down on the club". He recommends eating dinner with a good putter rather than a bad putter because it cannot hurt and some of his confidence may rub off on you.

Comments that resonate with me in the first 100 pages of the book include: the three most important clubs in your bag are your putter, wedge and driver; play the game from the green backwards, and if you play poorly one day, forget about it; if you play poorly a second day, check your grip and alignment; and if you play poorly a third day, see your golf professional.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Wedding

This weekend was my son's and new daughter-in-law's wedding, so no golf to report. I (and SO) was in charge of the rehearsal dinner on New Year's Eve at The Parlor, which is a cool retro-style pizza parlor at 19th Street and Camelback Road in Phoenix. If you like California Pizza Kitchen or Sauce, this is a higher-end version with much more style. The restaurant used to be a beauty parlor and the owner kept some of the salon chairs as bar stools and has old pictures of the beauty parlor lining the walkway to the restroom. We had about 35 people in the enclosed patio. It was a great opportunity for the wedding attendees to meet one another before the wedding. There was a lot of pressure on us because Sydney, the bride, is a great cook and has the coolest cooking blog,, and her mother is the consummate entertainer and I knew the wedding was going to be perfect!

The wedding ceremony may have been the shortest in recorded history. If you blinked you missed it (and some of the late arrivers did)! The wedding ceremony was outdoors in the late afternoon on Saturday, January 2, at the Wrigley Mansion, which overlooks the city. From our seats at the wedding ceremony you could see the praying monk on the side of Camelback Mountain, which is one of the most beautiful and unique sites in the Valley. Sydney had to walk down about 20 very steep stairs with her father and we all held our collective breath praying that she would not fall. She looked beautiful in a long white strapless wedding dress and train. She has jet black hair and beautiful porcelain skin. My son, "Kramer", and his bride, Sydney, prepared their own vows, which were beautiful and clearly heartfelt. The wedding party members were all dressed in black tuxedos with green vests and the groom had a black tuxedo with yellow vest. Sydney's two brothers were her "bridesmen".

The Wrigley Mansion was built by chewing gum magnate, William Wrigley, Jr., between 1929 and 1931. It overlooks the venerable Arizona Biltmore Hotel. The Mansion is 16,850 square feet, with 24 rooms and 17 bathrooms. It was ultimately purchased by Geordie Hormel, one of the heirs to the Hormel meats fortune, and is now a dining club and location for special events such as weddings. It was a great choice for the wedding!

The wedding reception was beautifully planned and orchestrated by Sydney's mother, who looked beautiful in her gown and was glowing all night. The hors d'oeuvres, table settings, centerpieces, napkins, match boxes, Wrigley's chewing gum, dinner, music, wedding cake, everything, was spot on! Everyone had a great time! Sydney and Kramer's friends and relatives came from as far away as New York, Florida, Georgia, Canada and the United Kingdom to attend the wedding. All of the toasts were well-done (if I have to say so myself!). The kids (saying that makes me feel old!) danced frenetically all night to DJ Epidemic (who grew up next door to us as an orthodox Jewish kid and is now spinning records like Dr. Dre!). After the wedding reception some of the kids went to an after-party but we were not invited!