Is Golf a Sport?

One of the constant questions about golfers is, are they athletes?  The honest answer is maybe, I would say there are very athletic golfers and then there are golfers that you wonder how they walk and chew gum at the same time.  I don’t know if golf is a sport.  What I see in this field, is that it is about fellowship and challenging yourself over and over again for a period of time against a golf course.  I watch men, women and children start their day with total optimism as they warm up on the range and putting green.  The first couple of holes the dopamine runs high as people feel out the day giving jabs to the course and sometimes taking the jabs.  Then something wonderful happens, performance transitions into camaraderie!  People start looking for each other’s golf ball, they pick up the other person’s towel on the green, compliment them on a well struck shot, or encourage them after a poorly struck one.  The next thing you know the end of the round is closer than the beginning and score has taken a back seat to the relationships that have been or are being established during the round of golf.  Then the group puts the flag back in the green on the 18th green, take off their hats, shake hands, but the experience isn’t over, it is just a commercial break until they arrive at everybody’s favorite hazard, the watering hole or the 19th!  This is the crescendo of the day!  You see groups of golfers discussing whether or not to eat or how the matches turned out, but my favorite view of all is seeing a parent sipping an adult beverage while their child consumes a Roy Rogers or Shirley Temple and does a once over to see if it is ok to have a second!  I don’t know if Golf is a Sport, this to me doesn’t describe any other sport I know and I love it!

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We Will Stand the Test of Time

The United States won the President’s Cup with a route of the International Team.  The winning wasn’t such a surprise but the real drama was could they do it without needing the final day?  Lost in the midst of the competition was the fact that 4 of the 6 living Presidents showed up to this golf event!  Above is a photo of a selfie taken by Phil Mickelson!  I am not sure I have ever been a bigger fan of the Game of Golf and this industry.  In a world that seems to get more and more divided each day with people that think their beliefs are more important than their neighbors we witnessed this past weekend something that I am not sure has ever been done before?  This Game of Golf doesn’t discriminate!  This Game crosses Party Lines!  This Game is built on calling penalties on yourself to protect the field, your competitors, your neighbors!  I am Bullish on this Game!  Did the United States win the President’s Cup, yes, would it have mattered if the International Team had won, no?  What we saw was 4 very diverse and sometime contrary President’s find a common value in this Game of Golf!

The Best Offense is a Great Defense!

As we embark on the NFL and College Football, I thought it might be interesting relating those game-plans to golf. In football and in golf, you are trying to control as much of the environment as you can. . We have all heard the saying, “the team became one dimensional.” Football teams and coaching staffs scheme to take a portion out of teams as we saw with Kansas City in the first game against New England. They were committed to keeping Tom Brady off balance and on his gluteus maximus. In the second game of the season, we saw Denver do the opposite to Dallas, where they committed to keeping the running back to single digit yards for the game. In both of these circumstances the offenses became “one dimensional” and the defenses won the day and eventually their teams won the games. In golf the goal is similar. All of our goals should be to take one side of the golf course out of play. If you play a right to left ball flight, you must learn to miss left and not right. If you play a left to right ball flight, you must learn to miss right and not left. For an example, to the left is an image of #8 and if you are a left to right player of the ball, aiming at the left side of the fairway bunker using a club that will leave you short of it is the smart play. If you hit a good shot, you are in the middle of the fairway, a “bad shot” with your shot pattern, you may end up in the bunker, a “bad shot” with the opposite ball flight you are going back to your bag. If your ball flight is right to left, playing at the left edge of the right bunker in the rough is the smart play. That will put your preferred ball flight into the fairway and a “bad shot” with your shot pattern will leave you right of the water, in the fairway where a “bad shot” with the opposite ball flight, you may need a hound dog to find your ball in the wetlands. The key to this approach is to find your preferred and most natural ball flight and make sure that you are doing things in your practice sessions and rounds of golf to make sure that the contrary ball flight doesn’t sneak into your patterns. If you take this approach to your practice and the way you manage the golf course, you will see your scores lower, without having to change anything in your swing! Happy hunting and I hope this helps you enjoy your journey around the golf course!

It’s a War out There!

As I have mentioned before in these blogs, we are in an environment that breeds healthy warm season grasses. That is both a positive and negative. The bulk of warm season grasses will widen their footprint naturally, this is the positive. They use stolons (on top of the ground) or rhizomes (beneath the surface of the ground) to spread their roots. Cooler season grasses typically generate a root system per seed, but that isn’t how Bermuda grass works, which covers our property. Our greens are Champions Bermuda grass and they were replaced in the summer of 2009. I have been told since moving to Florida that greens need to be replaced about every 10 years due to the fact that other warm season contaminant grasses embed themselves with the “dominant” grass. This thought scares me for 2 reasons, first I think we consistently have the best greens in Tampa and second, if it is true we will have to close for 3 or 4 months in the summer of 2019. A healthy foundation of grass is the best combatant against disease and contaminants. This is the negative to being in a warm growing climate, all of the contaminant grasses are also warm season grasses. In other areas, you can promote the warm season grass while the cool season grass is weakened because of the contrary growing conditions. Jason is going to do this with cultural practices on our greens and see if he can’t manage us deeper into our 10 year window. We received most of our new Maintenance Equipment and our roller has brushes on each side so that after rolling the surface, it lifts the leaf blade allowing the mower to cut for a smoother surface. Champions Bermuda grass was developed to tolerate a very low mowing height which fits right into this practice. All of the contaminant grasses are not and they will be stressed out with the aggressive mowing heights and rolling patterns. As the contaminants weaken, you may see areas that look “blotchy,” but with sunlight and warm dry weather, which are the conditions that Champions thrives it, their stolons and rhizomes will spread out over those areas and fill in and we will have a more consistent putting surface on the greens. With Jason’s expertise, I think we will have the best greens in Tampa for another 10 years, but it is a War our there between these competing grasses.

Focus is the Purpose!

The Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world. It is a giant valley that goes for hundreds of miles that makes up some of the most beautiful land in the United States. If you have ever stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and looked at the vast area that it covers, it leaves an impression. To each that impression varies but it was all created with 2 things, time and water. It is one of the most stunning and vivid examples of erosion this world has ever seen. The “Webster’s” definition of Erosion is the process of eroding or being eroded by wind, water, or other natural agents. I was always taught that you couldn’t use a part of the word to define a word, but obviously “Webster’s” didn’t share my English Teacher. I would like to focus on the part that says, “natural agents.” Erosion is one of the few things in this world that happens naturally. The word has many synonyms: wearing away, abrasion, attrition, weathering, dissolution, corrosion, decay, deterioration, disintegration, destruction to name a few. Most of us in our lives have made commitments to keep the erosion at bay and in each of our golf games we have to recognize that it’s synonyms are constantly at work. When we go out to practice or play we must identify what we are up against. We either need to be building or maintaining each aspect of the game of golf. It is important to dedicate at least your focus to areas of the game that may degenerate over time, whether we need to preserve a part of the game, or develop a new asset. This idea is not just common to golf, it is a part of each of our health, relationships, careers even character. It is better to keep the erosion from getting it’s foothold otherwise solving the problem the erosion has created may feel like we are looking at the Grand Canyon and wondering how are we going to fill that up?

An Appropriate 4 Letter Word!

As I continue to think about this game and this industry and share my brain over the World Wide Web I can’t help but to marvel at its influencers! The people that are in the game of golf have established its culture, which is what I find to be the most unique and greatest culture in major sports. We saw this past weekend a Professional Golfer win the PGA Championship that was raised by PGA Member for the 7th time in this events history. The previous 6 were, Jack Burke Jr., Dave Marr, Raymond Floyd, Davis Love III, Rich Beem, and Keegan Bradley. Early on the back nine for Justin he was in a 5 way tie at 7-under with Francesco Molinari, Chris Stroud, Kevin Kisner, and his playing partner Hideki Matsuyama. On the 15th hole Francesco made birdie to get to 7-under and Justin had just made birdie on the 10th to get to that same number. What happened after that was Justin focused on his own game. He was playing with Hideki who had been at 8 under after 10 but gave one back on the 11th to set up the 5 way tie at 7-under. Hideki had a back nine with only one par, 5 bogeys and 3 birdies…what a rollercoaster. Chris Stroud finished the event at 1-under after getting into that tie and Kisner finished at 4-under for the event. Molinari was the closest opponent finishing 2 off the lead at 6-under. What we saw with Justin Thomas is a microcosm of how I try to live in this world and is why I think the game of golf is so sticky to those that have been affected by it. If you take care of your own business, things just tend to work out. I have seen this to be true in life also. Life and Golf, 2 great 4-letter words are much more of an internal competition. We all live in a society that challenges each of us to want more, have more, crave more and above all else compare ourselves to each other. Justin focused on his own game and for that he was rewarded by winning the PGA Championship, a third generation PGA Professional.

Food for thought.

Golf is a Walk in the Park!

Golf is easy! I am not sure anybody believes that, present company included, but allow me to make this argument. It is going to be a big ask to change your perspective, but if you choose to have an open mind, you might enjoy this little journey and look at golf differently!

You stare at a little white ball (unless you are Bubba Watson) and will it to go in a direction towards the ultimate dark place in a defined number of shots. Games and sport is about winning and losing, I am not trying to get everybody to crave a participation trophy, that is a blog for a different day, but if you could understand that the game of golf is a competition between a golfer (you) and a golf course, you would realize it’s a Walk in the Park. Within this golf course experience there are holes and in the world most of us reside, those holes are made up by par…this is where I need you to let go and close your eyes…unless you are driving, wait how would you read this…never mind! What if it didn’t matter how many shots it took you and you could recognize that getting the ball in the hole means you beat the hole! Let us forget par for a minute and realize we are competing against that hole. If we compare this with other sports is where I think it is fun! Baseball is often said to be one of the most difficult major sports. I can’t imagine trying to hit a 90 mph fastball. If a baseball player hits the ball 3 out of 10 times they are a Hall of Famer and they get potentially an infinite number of pitches to try to get a hit and then you just need to have 9 people miss the ball and run really fast. I make contact with the golf ball at least 80% of the time! If Golf were like baseball, I’d have my own wing in Cooperstown! Basketball is another one! Last year in the NBA, the League averaged less than 50% from the field and less than 40% from 3-point range and once again, that has nothing to do with winning the game. So maybe I hit the ball only 70% of the time, I still would have made the All-Star team last year in the NBA with those numbers. If you play tennis, there is no number of volleys that it takes to complete a point, and then when the point is over, you or your opponent has won! Tennis you have to win points, then games then sets and there is a winner and loser. In golf your competition is the golf hole and every hole you walk off, you have beat! You maybe didn’t make the number you made last time, or maybe you did the best you have ever done on that hole, you still are the conqueror. The best part of all is that you didn’t have to run to do it like all those other mean sports! Golf is easy!

At Home on the Range

The United States is made up of 3 basic growing regions. We obviously are in the “Warm-Season Zone.” The benefit of being in this climate is having it be beneficial to Bermuda  grass as it thrives in the warm weather. Our golf course, for the most part is covered in various types of Bermuda grass. The genius of this type of grass is it is constantly repairing itself and trying to spread. It does this 2 ways, with rhizomes and stolons. Rhizomes grow under the earth, while stolons grow across the top of the ground. This benefit is specifically helpful to golf courses as over time Bermuda grass will eventually cover divots made by the golfer on the course. Where the Bermuda grass needs the help of the player is on the driving range.  We rotate the driving range because of the amount of traffic that the plant sustains to try to get it to grow over the divots that are made by the golfer. The ideal divot pattern for the recovery of the plant is long linear tracks with about 4 inches of Bermuda grass between tracks. This allows the plant on both sides of the track to maintain its health and produce stolons to grow over the area created by the divots. An additional side effect is the fact that this uses less turf in a limited space on the range and allows more players to use the area. If you could help us in this process it benefits both the grass and the player that would like to practice or warm up before their round of golf at TPC Tampa Bay.

“Keepin’ it Linear”…have a great week!

 

 

 

 

 

Your Spine is Key!

When I first understood that I was going to be a Golf Professional I knew that teaching was going to be a huge part of my life. I quickly learned that no matter how hard the student worked at the things that were discussed they wouldn’t be able to be consistent without taking some care of their biggest asset! Posture in the set-up and swing is one of the crucial aspects of consistency and the spine is the axle of the swing. I liken it to having the greatest car in the world and having an axle that is bent. No matter how many horses you have under the hood you are not going to want to drive it unless you are trying to

get rid of some fillings and that is what I see as one of the most common characteristic in the golf swing. The good news is you are the victim, it isn’t your fault, and it is society’s fault that you have either S-Posture or C-Posture! It is because you have to drive in a car or sit at a desk or watch TV at night that these posture characteristics have crept into your life. As all of you remember from anatomy classes, the way muscles work is called reciprocal inhibition also known as dating in High School (this is called foreshadowing)! If you sit a lot during the day, your hip flexors will become shortened or tight and your brain will turn off your glutes because they are the opposite muscle, this is called S-Posture. The same happens with C-Posture where you sit at a desk or car with your hands on the steering wheel or keyboard, tightening the chest and weakening the traps giving you a rounded back. Both of these situations wreak havoc on consistency in the golf swing; go back to the car analogy! Tight hips, which tends to occur in men without a sedentary lifestyle really causes problems on both the take-away and the downswing, causing the swing to be mostly arms. Having a rounded upper back once again causes the swing to be produced with arms and also promotes an over the top downswing because you can’t rotate the shoulders either back or through. Now back to High School (see what I did there), now here is your homework! No matter what you do or don’t do for a living, practice throughout the day, rolling your shoulders and stack them on your back, widening your chest while you do this! If you do sit a lot throughout the day, activate your abdomen as often as you can remember! Eventually having a flatter back will translate to your golf swing and you will soon be spending much more time in the middle of the fairways!

Bunker Rakes at TPC Tampa Bay

Last year as most of you know, we did a massive bunker restoration project on the property. I personally find bunkers in the game of golf an interesting lot. Golfers seem to be very subjective about bunkers and how they should play and look. There is also an expectation of consistency and maintenance. As you can see by the definition to the left, it is a hazard. According to the Rules of Golf, there are 2 types of hazards in the game of golf, water hazards and bunkers. The basic rules are the same, no grounding of your club, no moving of loose impediments, no testing the conditions, but when you hit the ball into a water hazard the emotional experience is that you’ve hit the ball into an area that was never meant to be hit into and unless you have scuba gear and a minor death wish that ball is now being entertained by a distant relative of the dinosaur. What makes bunkers attention-grabbing is that it feels that they are “in play” because you are still playing the same ball you started the hole and this is just a hurdle in your sprint to even par and you are Edwin Moses! There are even player responsibilities in bunkers which are hazards! “Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully smooth over all holes and footprints made by them and nearby made by others” is an excerpt of the Etiquette section of the Rules of Golf. In raking bunkers, the question constantly arises, “should rakes left in or out of the bunker?” The USGA leaves this decision up to the individual properties. Here at TPC Tampa Bay, we would like for the rakes to be left in the bunkers, with the handle close to the edge and the comb on a relatively flat area. The reason we would like to see the rakes left in the bunker is twofold, one because it seems that our rakes keep getting run over by golf carts or stepped on and they are splintering on the shaft. We are also hoping by leaving them in the bunker, they are easier to identify so that when you are finished playing the shot the you can rake after yourself. You are allowed to bring the rake with you into the bunker and put it next to you as you hit your shot. There are a couple of rules issues that can arise in the case of a ball coming to rest on a rake or next to a rake! The rake is defined as a movable obstruction. Should your golf ball rest against or on a rake, you are entitled to relief in accordance to Rule 24-1. Should the ball move when the obstruction is moved, it must be replaced. If you have read this entire post, you were not the intended subject it was written for that person sitting in the cart next to you!