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 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!
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!
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!
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!
The USGA Handicap System
For those of you that haven’t fallen asleep as we discuss the Club Compliance Check list, let me congratulate you! We’ve made it through the first four of the seventeen topics that must be adhered to in order for us to be able to issue you a handicap index:
1. Meet the USGA definition of a golf club?
2. Have a Handicap Committee composed mostly of Members and chaired by a Member?
3. Make it possible for a player to record the correct USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating with each posted score from every set of tees?
4. Require the posting of all acceptable scores?
5. Require the use of USGA procedures to adjust hole scores before posting
6. Require that nine-hole scores be posted?
7. Insist that the Rules of Golf be followed?
8. Follow the National Revision Schedule and posting season of the authorized golf association having jurisdiction in the region?
9. Have a representative from the golf club complete an annual club compliance and education assessment?
10. Perform computations and adjustments in accordance with the USGA Handicap Formula?
11. Make current scoring records and a Handicap Index listing of all Members readily available for inspection by others?
12. Reduce or increase a Handicap Index of any player whose Handicap Index does not reflect the player’s potential ability?
13. Notify an authorized golf association when permanent changes have been made to the golf course so that the association can issue a new USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating?
14. Include the letter “L” after local handicaps, which exceed the USGA maximum limits of 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women?
15. Utilize the current USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating issued by an authorized golf association?
16. Have a representative from all new golf clubs participate in a USGA Handicap System Seminar (whether conducted by the USGA or an authorized golf association? Including passing a test exhibiting knowledge about the System?
17. Have a signed license agreement in place with a local authorized golf association or the USGA prior to issuing a Handicap Index?
You’ve survived this most boring of topics! I hope everyone had a great 4th of July and I promise to lighten it up next week!
The USGA and R&A have been the stewards of the game of golf for a long time. They both have started an initiative to develop a single World Handicap System for the game of golf. There are currently 6 systems administered in the world, Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGO) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf association (AGA) and the USGA. The USGA is working closely with the other handicapping bodies to benefit from their insights as they try to formulate a system that will be easy to understand and can be applied consistently on a global basis. Until there are changes, the USGA has established a Club Compliance Checklist that each property that administers handicaps to its Members must adhere to. There are 17 topics and I thought it would be a good thing to discuss at length, today will be the first 4:
- Meet the USGA definition of a golf club?
- Have a Handicap Committee composed mostly of Members and chaired by a Member?
- Make it possible for a player to record the correct USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating with each posted score from every set of tees?
- Require the posting of all acceptable scores?
- Require the use of USGA procedures to adjust hole scores before posting
- Require that nine-hole scores be posted?
- Insist that the Rules of Golf be followed?
- Follow the National Revision Schedule and posting season of the authorized golf association having jurisdiction in the region?
- Have a representative from the golf club complete an annual club compliance and education assessment?
- Perform computations and adjustments in accordance with the USGA Handicap Formula?
- Make current scoring records and a Handicap Index listing of all Members readily available for inspection by others?
- Reduce or increase a Handicap Index of any player whose Handicap Index does not reflect the player’s potential ability?
- Notify an authorized golf association when permanent changes have been made to the golf course so that the association can issue a new USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating?
- Include the letter “L” after local handicaps, which exceed the USGA maximum limits of 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women?
- Utilize the current USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating issued by an authorized golf association?
- Have a representative from all new golf clubs participate in a USGA Handicap System Seminar (whether conducted by the USGA or an authorized golf association? Including passing a test exhibiting knowledge about the System?
- Have a signed license agreement in place with a local authorized golf association or the USGA prior to issuing a Handicap Index?
The US Open wrapped up this past weekend and many of the accounts indicate that it was one of the most poorly viewed US Open’s in history. I am sure there are many reasons to postulate, but I for one don’t think people understand the game of golf. The previous week we had the NBA Finals which also under-performed by the viewing standards that the NBA is accustomed to. Basketball is my favorite sport to play and used to be my favorite to watch. Unfortunately for me, watching basketball and other team sports, NFL, NBA, and NHL has become frustrating because of the subjective nature of officials that have made themselves almost as influential as the players themselves. I am not saying that officials don’t have a role in the game of golf, but when they get engaged, it is obvious and for the most part rememberable, and often time, negative experience because we are so accustomed to watching the players decide it for themselves. Most of these moments stand out, Lexi Thompson this year, Dustin Johnson at last years US Open, and Dustin Johnson’s PGA debacle at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straights. Most would agree today that the LPGA got it wrong, as did the USGA and the PGA, so much so that the USGA has changed the rules. The tenet that all golf is played under is:
“Golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.”
This is why I am in this business and play this game, because it is filled with people that understand this principle.
As many of you are aware we will be verticutting and aerifying on Monday the 26th of June and re-open on Thursday the 29th. What is aerification some of you may ask and why do we tend to do it when the course is growing at its best? It is important that aerification is done while the turf is growing at its optimum level because that helps it to heal better and it is a stress on the plant. The ultimate goal of aerification is to help with photosynthesis! Ready for a biology refresher?
The byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen that we all love and glucose. Glucose is stored in the leaf or fruit of the plant and is used to grow the roots. This is where the aerification/verticutting comes in to play. We will first verticut to remove the thatch which is organic buildup and it keeps the water from penetrating into the soil and eventually the roots. After we have verticut the property, we will begin the aerification process! We will be verticutting and aerifying
both the fairways and the greens. Once we are finished aerifying the greens, we will fill the holes with sand which will encourage drainage and generate more space for the roots to gain depth. The deeper the water can flow, the deeper the roots will grow. The sand is useful to allow ventilation over time as greens get so much traffic that compaction is an issue for the soil. Sand also smooths the playing surface, which gets inconsistencies over time. I know that many of you feel like the conditions are less than suitable, but Tom Watson shot his lowest score ever of 58 at Kansas City Country Club just days after the greens were aerified, so come and get it!
Class is dismissed!
Golf came easy to me when I was younger. It suited me because it allowed me to be alone and as somebody who thought they were an athlete stuck in a chubby body to allow an objective score to tell everybody whether I was good or not. As I was a kid dealing with self-image issues, being alone was all I could ever ask for! In High School as I entered my 3rd in 3 years as a Junior, we joined a golf course called Ft. Belvior in Northern Virginia. In the Clubhouse was a poster that I would look at every day that I got to experience my oasis. I remember those days looking at that poster thinking, what a cool job being a Golf Professional must be.
After college and 10 years or so of running around the globe, the seeds of this poster finally busted through and I embarked on my career in the golf industry. I am blessed to be able to do all of these things in the position here at TPC Tampa Bay though sometimes I feel like I am doing them all in the same day! My plan is add topics to our Email that goes out on a weekly basis that is relevant to the industry both globally and locally at the property. If there are topics that you would like to know more about, please don’t hesitate to give me ideas and stay tuned for the random synopsis of my brain to be thrown out on a weekly basis!