Archive for July, 2012

ESPN and the British Open – Help!!

July 23, 2012

It was a dramatic finish at the Open, but ESPN still has problems bringing it together. I love Paul Azinnger but Mike Turcico never knows when to shut up and Scott Van Pelt tries to be too cute.  Oh for a Jim Nantz or Dan Hicks to provide the play-by-play! And poor Paul Azinger erroneously claimed that Tiger could have taken an unplayable lie and dropped outside the bunker on #6 with a one stroke penalty.  Wrong!  Nobody got in his ear and said no Paul, that’s not correct.  He stated this 3 or 4 times before someone finally set him straight.  And they posted Snedeker’s final score incorrectly, giving him a par on the last hole instead of a bogey.  Sloppy stuff. When Tom Watson – my all time favorite – made a 25 footer to make the cut on the number Friday, Turico talked the whole time as the ball made its way to the hole. Shut up already.  I love Azinger and Judy Rankin and Andy North, even Bill Kratzert isn’t too bad, but the rest need to go.  This is a major, not a Golf Channel event folks!

Ernie Wins Another Open Championship

July 23, 2012

Ernie Els shot a great 68 in the final round – including a 32 on the back side, to grab his second Claret Jug.  Adam Scott lost, but he didn’t choke it away.  He was more like Ed Sneed at the 1979 Masters, who bogied the last 3 holes but really didn’t hit terrible shots, he just could make any putts.  I feel badly for Adam, but Ernie has had a lot of his own trials, and he is such a deserving champion –  he hit the ball the best from tee to green and made it happen when he had to.  Ten years between majors and wins in three different decades.  That is truly Hall of Fame stuff from a Hall of Famer.  Way to go!

Walter Hagen and a Feel for the Game

July 10, 2012

When Bubba Watson hooked that spectacular wedge shot 40 yards around the trees and onto the green to win the Masters, he said simply “I got in these trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head.”  He saw it, he felt it, and he hit it.  Walter Hagen would have been proud.  For Hagen, learning to control the swing by feeling rather than by thought was the only route to a sound golf game.  Feel, art, imagination, experience, and mental toughness were his requisite qualities that made a champion.  Hagen’s understanding of golfing artistry was marked by a tolerance for a diversity of styles, whether technically perfect or not.  For him, it all boiled down to “sensibility,” a concept he coined and one nearly lost in today’s era of mechanical golf.  “Acquire and cultivate the feeling of the swing, by visualizing it,” he maintained.  “The club generally follows the inclination of the mind.”

The great Henry Longhurst once poignantly noted that in spite of Walter Hagen’s 11 major championships “it is Hagen, the man, who will be remembered more than Hagen, the golfer.”  He was “the Haig,” “Sir Walter,” a larger than life figure in the game.  We remember Hagen as a swashbuckler, the guy with a sway in his swing that sent the ball into parts of the course unseen by most golfers, but possessed of a magical short game that saved him time and time again.  Few ever consider his theories for playing the game, or the ideas that made him a great teacher.

His theories have a historical context and had an impact on some of the finest teachers of the last 50 years – Harvey Penick, Bob Toski, and Jim Flick among them.  Moreover, his ideas of imagination and feel have been embodied by players of various generations – such as Seve Ballesteros thirty-five years ago and Bubba Watson today.  It is helpful to demonstrate the evolution of the game and politely remind people that the likes of Butch Harmon and Sean Foley did not invent golf instruction.