Tuesday, March 31

Shane Bacon: Golf Blogger and LPGA Tour Looper

SHANE BACON IS BACK at the keyboard after spending last week caddying for LPGA Tour player Erica Blasberg at the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International. Shane is a self-described golf freak (at least I think I read that), which qualifies him as a close golf pal of yours truly.

Shane has played competitive golf, and even “went pro” a couple of summers ago on the Gateway Tour. He carded a 68 in his first round. (And he played all 18.) So, I think a little Shane worship is in order.

Yet last week was his first time inside the ropes looping for a tour pro. “I am not a professional caddie,” Shane wrote at Golf Fanhouse, “and that was apparent.”

His Caddie Tales are a great read. I especially liked his concluding remarks:
I’m a blogger. I write snippets because I’m asked to write them. They may or may not have a purpose and they are published so quickly you don't have time to pull them. The bottom line is, Michelle Wie is a 19-year-old girl that still smiles, and laughs and tries to make 10-footers just like we all do. She didn’t choose this life, talent did, and she is saddled with fans, expectations and a big, leather Sony bag.

Maybe I learned a simple thing this week that I haven’t ever grasped – they might be professionals, but they are just normal people doing a trade they were gifted enough to do. Being hard on them for no reason is ridiculous. It’s golf. Birdies, bogeys, pars and handshakes. Hopefully the knowledge I gained this week will remain with me as I spend the next few months writing about this lovely game.
–The Armchair Golfer

Related:

What Not to Say While Caddying for Erica Blasberg

Monday, March 30

The Math Didn’t Work Out for Sean O’Hair


Sean O’Hair couldn’t hold off Tiger Woods. (Steve Newton/Flickr)

YOU WOULD THINK a five-shot lead is a comfortable margin heading into a final round. It wasn’t for Sean O’Hair, whose closest pursuer and playing partner during Sunday’s final trip around Bay Hill was the most feared competitor in golf, Tiger Woods.

While I thought O’Hair had a chance if he could hold himself together, some predicted the outcome. For example, I found an email on Monday morning from a loyal reader that was sent at 10 a.m. on Sunday (before the leaders teed off).

“Just for the record,” he wrote, “I think Tiger will win today even though he's starting with a five-stroke deficit.”

There is a kind of Tiger math that Sean O’Hair and a long list of other players can’t seem to overcome. Tiger wins about 30 percent of the events he plays, roughly one in three. This was the third tournament of his comeback. Do the math.

And this was Bay Hill, Arnie’s tournament, where Tiger has now won six times, including the last two years with rip-your-heart-out putts on the final green. As strange as it may sound, perhaps Sean O’Hair didn’t have much of a chance.

Sure, O’Hair knocked his iron shot in the water on 16, but Tiger hit some loose shots, too. Tiger is still rusty. And it shows.

It was that magical Scotty Cameron that delivered Tiger’s sixth title at Bay Hill. It’s always the putter. You can talk swing and long game all you want, but it comes down to the putter. I would not have said this two years ago, but I’m convinced that Tiger is the greatest clutch putter the game has ever seen.

If you think O’Hair didn’t give it his all, listen to his comments from the press tent. He was asked about his thoughts on Tiger, especially on the 72nd green.

“It’s not like it’s The Tiger Show and I’m just out there to watch him,” Sean said.

“And I think that’s the one thing the media thinks about the guys out here, and it’s not about that. We’re trying to win golf tournaments, and he just happens to be that good.”

That good, where even a five-shot lead isn’t enough of a cushion. The math just didn’t work out for Sean O’Hair.

O’Hair File
Turned pro: 1999
Birthplace: Lubbock, Texas
Residence: West Chester, Pennsylvania
World ranking: 70
PGA Tour wins: 2
Major wins: 0
Equipment: TaylorMade

−The Armchair Golfer

Brought to you by The World of Golf and ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.

Sunday, March 29

Normalcy Returns to Golf World


Tiger Woods wins at Bay Hill. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

In fading light, Tiger Woods sank a 16-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win his sixth Arnold Palmer Invitational. I doubt if anyone was surprised. Shocked, perhaps (Sean O’Hair, for example), but not surprised.

He’s back now. As my wife said when that final putt rolled into the cup, “It’s like it’s not fair.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, March 28

Divine 9 Courses Are Ready for Spring Play


The 17th hole at Genoa Lakes Resort Course, Nevada golf course of the year in 2007.

THE DIVINE 9 IS A CO-OP GROUP of nine Carson City/Carson Valley golf courses and nine lodging properties in Nevada’s capital city and High Sierra area.

Golfers can play both high desert and open valley courses, featuring meandering rivers and creeks, sage-brush lined fairways, elevation changes, generous fairways and tight ones, too, along with the spectacular natural beauty of the area.

A complete listing of participating courses, lodging properties, deals, packages and other Carson City/Carson Valley activities is available at DivineNine.com.

Briefly


A bevy of golf products, services, destinations, events, news and more. Endorsement is not implied.

New Jammies has introduced golf-themed baby pajamas, organic golf clothing with a companion bedtime storybook that inspires little athletes to get out and play.

• April is PGA free fitting and trade-up month. Participating PGA/LPGA Professionals can be found at PlayGolfAmerica.com.

• Golfers can book two- and three-day golf schools at the Faldo Golf Institute in Orlando, Florida, and Palm Desert, California, and receive complimentary luxury accommodations from Marriott.

• The next episode of The Haney Project on GOLF CHANNEL is all about “head” games for Charles Barkley. Airing Monday at 9 p.m. ET, Charles will learn about keeping your head still during the golf swing, keeping your head about you when things go wrong, and keeping a-“head” of the negativity trying to creep into his game.

ruletwentyone has created a functional and fashionable ball- and clubface-cleaning towel that’s available for under $20, made in the U.S.A. and made with eco-friendly materials.

GolfGym announced the introduction of its new Joey D Signature Series GolfGym® Weighted Club DVD and Balance Ball Training DVD, which feature biomechanics, strength and conditioning coach Joey Diovisalvi, affectionately known by Tour players as “Coach Joey D.”

Zagat Survey has released GOLF BY ZAGAT℠, its first golf application for iPhone.

PGA Golf Catalunya, a golf resort near Barcelona that will host the European Tour’s Open de Espana, April 30-May 3, is offering special play-and-stay packages the week after the Continent’s best players tackle The Stadium Course, originally designed and built to host the Ryder Cup.

Forbes is offering a special golf report at Forbes.com/golf that includes the world’s top-earning golfers and more.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, March 27

2009 J Golf Phoenix LPGA International TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

The 2009 J Golf Phoenix LPGA International is underway at Papago Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona. In-Kyung Kim holds the 36-hole lead.

Purse: $1.5 million
Defending champion: Lorena Ochoa

Tournament preview
Complete field
Course information

2009 J Golf Phoenix LPGA International Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

More than eight hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 J Golf Phoenix LPGA International.

THU 3/26 6:30-8:30 PM ET GOLF CHANNEL
FRI 3/27 6:30-8:30 PM ET GOLF CHANNEL
SAT 3/28 6:30-9:30 PM ET GOLF CHANNEL
SUN 3/29 7:00-9:30 PM ET GOLF CHANNEL

−The Armchair Golfer

King of Golf Cartoons: ‘Slice’


Copyright © Jerry King. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Like Big Shooter, many amateurs battle the banana ball. How about you? Do you fight a slice? Have you found any useful remedies (besides not playing)?

I can’t say I fight the slice, although I am prone to the blocked shot, or a push fade. It happens when I come up out of the shot instead of swinging all the way through.

−The Armchair Golfer

Jerry King is an award-winning cartoonist whose credits and clients include Golf Digest, United States Golf Association and Disney. His golf cartoons are featured weekly at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Thursday, March 26

Flashback: Arnold Palmer Field Holds Tiger in Awe

Tiger Woods (C. ONeal/Flickr)

(Editor’s note: As many of you may remember, around this time last year Tiger Woods sank a curling 25-foot putt on the final green to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Doral followed, and many were wondering if Tiger would win every tournament he entered in 2008. At ARMCHAIR GOLF, I filed this Q&A.)


ARMCHAIR GOLF caught up with The Field after Tiger’s stunning victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Q: Thanks for doing this. It must be difficult after such a heartbreaking loss to Tiger Woods. What were you thinking when Tiger was standing over that last putt?

THE FIELD: That there’s no earthly way a human being can make that putt to win a golf tournament. We thought we had played well enough to get into a playoff.

Q: Then it goes in.

THE FIELD:
Right.

Q: Pretty clever to throw Bart Bryant at him.


THE FIELD: We didn’t plan it. It just worked out that way this week. Frankly, we’ll take anybody who can play decent and keep his lunch down when Tiger’s name is on the leaderboard.

Q: Tiger’s record and current win streak are phenomenal. How do you explain his dominance?

THE FIELD:
Where do we begin? The guy does everything so well. He won a heckuva lot when he had some weaknesses. Now he’s really hitting his stride. What’s Tiger won against us − five straight?

Q: Yes, five on the PGA Tour and seven worldwide.


THE FIELD:
Right. Another thing, though, is he really knows how to pick his events. He’s very fussy about his schedule, where he plays, how he prepares. We have to play every single week.

Q: That’s true, but you’re putting about 130 guys up against Tiger every time he tees it up no matter where he plays. Shouldn’t that be an advantage?

THE FIELD: Actually, it’s more like 70 players. That’s about how many make the cut and play on the weekend. So we’re only really putting 70 up against Tiger.

Q: OK, 70. How do you like your chances this week?


THE FIELD:
Tiger has won five in a row and three straight at Doral. How do you like our chances? Seriously, over the years our record is pretty good at Doral. But we’re not going to pop off. We don’t want to give Tiger any bulletin board material.

Q: What’s your game plan?

THE FIELD:
We just have to go in there and, after our guys make the cut, take it 70 shots at a time and hope we have a good week. It doesn’t really do any good to worry about what Tiger’s doing. We just have to focus on our own 70 games.

Q: And hope you get a win against Tiger soon?

THE FIELD: Well, sure. But even if we don’t we can take away some positives.

Q: Like what?


THE FIELD:
We’re doing well on the money list. Some of us will make the Ryder Cup team. Stuff like that.

Q: I see what you mean. Thanks, and good luck this week.


THE FIELD:
You’re welcome.

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Get Your FREE 2009 Masters Tournament Guide!
I recently published a 44-page 2009 Masters Tournament Guide filled with need-to-know information, stories, interviews, humor and more. I’d like you to have one.

Wednesday, March 25

2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2009 ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL begins on Thursday at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Florida.

Purse: $6 million
Winner’s share: $1.04 million
Defending champion: Tiger Woods

Inside the field
Inside the course

2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Thirteen hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Thu, 3/26:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 3/27:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 3/28:
NBC 2:30p - 6p ET

Sun, 3/29:
NBC 2:30p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Get Your FREE 2009 Masters Tournament Guide!
I recently published a 44-page 2009 Masters Tournament Guide filled with need-to-know information, stories, interviews, humor and more. I’d like you to have one.

Tuesday, March 24

George May: The P.T. Barnum of Professional Golf

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF

IN ILLINOIS, IN THE LATE 1940s and early 1950s, the tournament every caddie wanted to loop in was George S. May’s two weeks at Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Niles, Illinois, on the northwest side of Chicago.

George May, a one-time revival-tent Bible salesman who earned millions as an efficiency expert teaching big corporations how to work better and smarter, bought Tam O’Shanter in 1936 and rebuilt it.

The Tam O’Shanter clubhouse was a vast concrete-and-glass, triple-decker building with a sprawling dining room overlooking the course and a one-hundred-foot high water tank in the form of a golf ball atop a red tee. You could see it for miles. At the height of its operation, the club had thirteen bars and telephones on every tee for the convenience of the members.

Noted golf historian, Al Barkow, former Golf Magazine editor and author of Golf’s Golden Grind, about the PGA, grew up as a caddie at Tam. He recalls anyone could join Tam, if they could afford the membership. “The elite of Chicago’s Mafia were an integral, visible, part of the scene at ‘Tammy O,’” according to Barkow, “some playing golf at the club under assumed, anglicized names.”

Barkow describes May as a “short man who walked with the head-high, shoulder-back erectness of those who carry a well-fed but not much exercised stomach. He always seemed to have a kittenish smile on his face, a little like someone who had pulled a fast one on the world.”

George May was the P.T. Barnum of the professional tour, the first really big-time golf promoter in America. In 1941 he staged the Tam O’Shanter Open, which had a purse of $11,000, the biggest in pro golf at the time. In 1954, he set the first prize for his World Championship at Tam at $50,000 and guaranteed the winner another $50,000 for a series of fifty exhibitions. He was promising golf professionals this amount of money at a time when the entire purse for the average pro tour event was around $25,000.

He staged his tournaments for 17 years, from 1941 through 1957, giving away over $2 million dollars in prize money to the golf pros. But for all his efforts he was scorned by those same professionals and their association, the PGA. As Al Barkow puts it in his book on the Tour, “he [May] was effectively drummed out of his game … [he was] harangued and held in contempt to his exhaustion, and he left the scene.” In that way, as Barkow points out, May was like Bill Veeck dealing with the major-league baseball-club owners.

May was the first to put up grandstands for a tournament; the first to put up scoreboards to show the up-to-minute scores of the leaders called in from around the course by short-wave radio. He had programs printed with the players’ names and sold them for a quarter. And that’s where he got in trouble with the players. The pros balked when he suggested they wear numbers so spectators could easily identify them by matching their numbers with his program. A compromise was finally worked out: caddies would carry the numbers, pinned to their backs, and not the player.

The golf professionals also didn’t like that May employed clowns to walk around the course, brought in a “masked marvel” golfer to play in the events, gave away door prizes, and told the spectators they could gamble on the club’s slot machines, or hang around till evening and dance in the outdoor pavilion. Nor did the pros appreciate that the gallery might just spend the day picnicking beside the fairways while watching the players go by.

By the end of his career, May would put up a sign in front of his country club stating that no PGA pros were allowed on his golf course. But before that, for well over a decade, he put on quite a show that thrilled golfers and fans and put real money in the pockets of the pros.

John Coyne is the author of
The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan and The Caddie Who Played with Hickory. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Monday, March 23

What Not to Say While Caddying for Erica Blasberg

LOOK WHO’S CADDYING for LPGA Tour player Erica Blasberg.

“Yep, it's true,” writes Shane Bacon at Dogs That Chase Cars.

“This week I will be at the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International Presented by Mirassou Winery at Papago Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona, caddying for a real, live LPGA girl in a real, live LPGA tournament. What you got to say about that, Rick Reilly?”

Shane is a golf blogging pal, and I told him I have complete confidence in his abilities. I mean that. But just in case he gets a case of the nerves, I’ve compiled a short list of things he might want to avoid saying to Erica this week.

“I think the red tees are up there.”

“Don’t go right.”

(If there’s trouble right.)

“What yardage book?”


“Don’t go left.”

(If there’s trouble left.)

“I don’t know why there are 15. I counted 14 when we left the range.”


“Eventually.”
(If Erica asks, “Do you think I can get there with a 5-iron?”)

“How about breaking par?”

(If an angry Erica says, like Fulton Allem once said, “I feel like breaking something.”)

“Wow! Check out her swing!”


“Hit it, Alice.”


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: LPGA Tour)

A Good Transitions for Retief Goosen


Retief Goosen tees off at The Open Championship. (Newton/Flickr)

I GUESS IF 50-YEAR-OLD Tom Lehman couldn’t win the Transitions Championship, then why not 40-year-old Retief Goosen? The South African put together a solid 1-under 70 in the final round to edge Brett Quigley (0 for 342 starts, but knocking at the door lately) and a resurgent Charles Howell III.

The players commented on how tough the course played over the last couple of days, and it definitely showed in the scores. It’s rare when 8-under wins a PGA Tour event. The greens, in particular, were a thrill ride.

That was fine with Goosen. There’s something about Retief and hard, crusty, slick greens. (Anyone remember Shinnecock Hills in 2004?) He only needed 25 putts over the final 18 holes at Innisbrook on Sunday. It all came down to a nerve-wracking five-footer on the 72nd green.

“I hit it dead straight, and it went in left half,” Retief said. “It was great to see that putt go in. The greens got scary.”

His long game, both irons and woods, was also more consistent than it has been. Goosen said the Innisbrook course fits his eye better than Bay Hill, this week’s PGA Tour stop.

“I knew I just needed to strike the ball a bit better and I did today, and this whole week,” he said.

Goosen File

Turned pro: 1990
Birthplace: Pietersburg, South Africa
World ranking: 22
European Tour wins: 14
PGA Tour wins: 7
Major wins: 2
Equipment: TaylorMade

−The Armchair Golfer

Brought to you by The World of Golf and ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.

Sunday, March 22

2009 Masters Tournament Guide


Near the bottom right of this photo, you’ll see a ball skipping across the pond that fronts Augusta’s 16th green. The ball-skipping is a Masters practice tradition. (Photo: John Trainor/Flickr)

TOO EARLY FOR MASTERS MANIA? I think not. In fact, I’ve been thinking about the year’s first major for quite a while and have put together a free 44-page guide to the 2009 Masters Tournament. (Sign up at above right under the brown box.)

Last year I went to Augusta for the first time, so part of the guide includes my first-hand observations about the Masters experience. You’ll also find need-to-know information, history, humor, interviews and more.

I’ll introduce you to the only living player who teed it up in the first Masters in 1934, as well as the first Augusta native to play for the Green Jacket. I’ve talked to both men, a real treat.

Here’s the table of contents:

THE MASTERS EXPERIENCE

My Road to the Masters
One Patron’s Guide to Augusta National Golf Club
Masters’ Food: A Tradition Like No Other
Chasing a Tiger
Q&A: SI’s Jim Gorant on the Masters

2009 MASTERS TOURNAMENT

The Field
The Course
Augusta National Golf Club Scorecard
Masters TV Schedule
Masters Facts

MASTERS HISTORY

Errie Ball: Last Man Standing from First Masters
Q&A: Walker Inman Jr., First Augusta Native to Play in Masters
Masters Winners
Masters Records

MASTERS HUMOR
Tiger Woods Will Still Win the Grand Slam This Year
The 2016 Masters
Overheard in Heaven: Bobby Jones Consoles Byron Nelson

About ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG
Sources


Your free copy is ready.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, March 21

Jack Nicklaus Is Designing Eco-Friendly Golf Paradise


Jack Nicklaus is turning an island into a golf resort.
(Image: 5W PR)


ISLA VIVEROS PLANS TO BE one of the world’s next top golf destinations, offering residents and travelers an 18-hole, eco-friendly signature course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Purchased by Grupo Viveros in 2001, Isla Viveros is a small uninhabited island with tropical beaches and lush jungle off the coast of Panama.

The Nicklaus Signature design is an “eco-sensitive layout” to preserve the island’s natural elements. He says four holes will be completed for play by May 2009.

Funded with $300 million of investment capital, the Viveros Resort and properties have an ambitious goal: to be the world’s premier five-star resort development.

Briefly


A bevy of golf products, services, destinations, events, news and more. Endorsement is not implied.

• Orlando’s Lake Buena Vista Village Resort & Spa was recently named to Expedia’s annual list of the world's best hotels. Located within a 15 minute drive to 30 golf courses, the resort features an international spa, two on-site casual dining restaurants, and a new 25,000-square-foot aquatic center. The resort property includes four buildings with a total of 478 condo units.

• Local Qualifying Events for the Third Annual McGladrey Team Championship will be conducted throughout all 41 PGA sections from now through September. The championship culminates with the National Championship (featuring 41 four-member PGA Section champion teams) on October 26-28 at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort. For more information, visit www.pga.com/teamchampionship.

Charles Barkley will reveal his golf “hit list” (friends who have made fun of his golf game) on the next episode of The Haney Project, Monday at 9 p.m. ET on GOLF CHANNEL.

Bag Boy has introduced the Navigator 2, an advanced electric walking cart equipped with a newly patented Gyroscopic navigation system. The new 2009 Navigator 2 is 6” shorter in length than the original Navigator and takes up 20% less space when folded.

Fuzzy Zoeller will play in his final Masters 30 years after winning his Green Jacket.

Author Gary Graf has written And God Said, “Tee It Up!” — Amusing and Thought-Provoking Parallels Between the Bible and Golf.

Author Tom Coyne has written A COURSE CALLED IRELAND: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint, and the Next Tee, the stories of his epic quest to play the world’s greatest round of golf, one pint at time.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, March 20

ARMCHAIR GOLF Board Game


(Image: BoardGameGeek.com)

HEY KIDS, HOW ABOUT a little ARMCHAIR GOLF? I ran across this apparently old board game at a site called BoardGameGeek.com. The site didn’t identify the publisher, but said the game was for two to five players, ages 8 and up.

Here’s the description:

“Play 9 holes of golf on a simulated course using dice. On the board each hole is divided into regions which require you to use a certain club. The roll of the dice cross-referenced with the club determines where your ball goes next.”

There you go. Sounds like fun. Shall I pop some corn?

−The Armchair Golfer

First-Round Notebook: Furyk Leads Transitions Championship

Jim Furyk (Phelps/Flickr)

JIM FURYK SHOT A 6-UNDER 65, his low round of the year, to take the lead after the first round of the Transitions Championship. Furyk’s 65 is his sixth consecutive round in the 60s dating back to the final round of the Northern Trust Open where he shot 68. Furyk posted four rounds in the 60s at last week’s WGC-CA Championship, finishing third.

Stephen Ames, the 2006 Players Championship winner, posted 5-under 66 thanks to six birdies and a lone bogey at the par-4 16th hole.

Woody Austin (69) was at 4-under-par through 15 holes but consecutive bogeys at holes 16 and 17, and a final-hole par, dropped the Tampa native to 2-under. Austin, a three-time Tour winner, has played the Transitions Championship every year, except 2008, with a best-finish of T30 in 2004.

Japanese teen sensation Ryo Ishikawa (69) scored his first round in the 60s on the PGA Tour after starting the day with consecutive birdies at holes 1 and 2.

The “Bashful Prince” may be feeling more confident in his second appearance on the PGA Tour. Ishikawa made his debut at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera.

“At Northern Trust I was very nervous,” said the 17-year-old. “At Transitions Championship, about half as nervous, so about same as when I play Japan Golf Tour events.”

−The Armchair Golfer

(Source: Rick Odioso/The Copperheads)

Thursday, March 19

The Proving Ground for Future LPGA Tour Stars


Cristie Kerr played the Futures Tour early in her career.
(dnkbdotcom/Flickr)

By Dave Andrews
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


FOR THOSE OF YOU who don’t know, the Duramed Futures Tour is the official developmental tour of the LPGA. It is roughly the equivalent of the Nationwide Tour in men’s professional golf.

Every year the top money winners on the tour earn automatic LPGA membership. Lorena Ochoa, Cristie Kerr, Christina Kim, Meaghan Francella and dozens of other current LPGA members played on the Futures Tour early in their professional careers.

The tour’s 2009 season gets underway tomorrow in Winter Haven, Florida. It will take 144 young women professionals to 17 events across the country over the next six months, ending in Albany, New York, in early September.

The top 10 money winners on the tour will gain automatic membership in the LPGA for the 2010 season. Competing on the Duramed Futures Tour is the primary way, other than the LPGA Q School process, for a player to earn her way onto the LPGA Tour.

That is why you will find some of the best young women professionals from around the world competing on the Futures Tour each season. Close to 30 countries are represented on the tour. Many are former All-Americans from the best college programs in the United States.

The players will each spend close to $35,000 over the course of a season in entry fees and traveling expenses, driving from one tour stop to the next, with the goal of finishing the season high on the money list. The average purse in the tour’s 17 events this year is about $110,000. The winner of each event will make $10,000 to $15,000. Only the top 10 or 15 players on the tour will earn enough money over the season to pay their expenses.

These Players Are Good


These players are putting in their dues for the chance to rise to the LPGA level. They are trying to fulfill a dream that many of them have had since they were teenagers and first developed a talent and love for the game.

I had never heard of the Duramed Futures Tour until four years ago when one of its events came to my little public course in Concord, New Hampshire. Like many of my golfing friends, I volunteered to work at that first event. I was curious to learn more about these young women pros from all around the world and to see what their games were like.

I was not disappointed.

These players are good. Many that I have watched at my home course are now stars on the LPGA Tour. The tour’s return to Concord is always a highlight of the summer for me and many of my friends. We have gotten to know several of the young women pros over the years, and it is a thrill to watch their progress and root for them on their way to fulfilling their dreams.

I became such a big fan of the players on the tour that I wrote a novel and screenplay about the tour. Pops and Sunshine is the story of a young rookie on the tour and her dream and struggle to make it to the LPGA Tour. I was inspired to write the story after learning the personal stories of several of the real-life young pros that have battled each season.

If you ever have the chance to take in a Duramed Futures Tour event in your area, don’t pass it up. You will meet some of the nicest young women you will ever get to know, and you will have a chance to watch some of the best young women golfers you will ever see.

Sparse Coverage


Unfortunately, the Duramed Futures Tour does not get much coverage in the golf media or on the sports pages of your local newspaper. Ironically, many of the players on Golf Channel’s popular Big Break series have come from the ranks of the tour, but Golf Channel pays very little attention to the tour itself during the season.

The Duramed Futures Tour provides complete coverage of its events, player profiles, real-time scoring and a list of the money leaders and individual player statistics at http://duramedfuturestour.com.


Dave Andrews is the author of Pops and Sunshine, and a freelance golf writer and member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He spent 30 years in the television news industry.

2009 Transitions Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2009 TRANSITIONS CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Purse: $5.4 million
Winner’s share: $972,000
Defending champion: Sean O’Hair

Inside the field
Inside the course

2009 Transitions Championship Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Transitions Championship.

Thu, 3/19:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 3/20:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 3/21:
NBC 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 3/22:
NBC 3p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, March 18

Rochester Golfer Wins ‘FOLLOW THE ROAR’

MICHAEL SANDERSON OF ROCHESTER, NEW YORK, is the winner of the drawing for an autographed hardcover edition of FOLLOW THE ROAR by Bob Smiley. Congratulations, Michael!

“I am a 62-year-old semi-retired duffer,” Michael wrote in an email. “I usually play nine holes three or four times a week. The biggest problem with my swing is that I stand too close to the ball after I hit it.”

Thank you to all who entered. There will be more drawings, so keep trying!

Coming Soon: 2009 Masters Tournament Guide
I recently completed a 44-page Masters Tournament Guide filled with need-to-know information, stories, interviews, humor and more. It’s free, and will be available very soon.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Photo: Trainer/Flickr)

Jim McLean Instruction: Right Arm Only Drill

By Jim McLean
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


(Editor’s note: This week is a continuation of Jim’s indoor drills. Last week he covered body coil.)

THERE ARE MANY MISCONCEPTIONS about the right arm’s function in the swing. At one time we were taught to tuck the right elbow close to the body on the backswing. However, that’s not what happens; the right elbow starts off the body and stays off the body in the backswing. This drill will help to train the right arm to do the proper motion.

Ken Venturi once likened it to the brushstroke when painting a wall. We want our students to feel wide on the backswing and then narrow on the downswing. A tucked right elbow is a hazard on the backswing because it can cause the left arm to overly bend or force the swing across the chest. To avoid this, practice the drill as follows:

• Set up in a golf posture with your left thumb pointing into your chest and your right hand as if it were holding a club.

• Swing the right arm back without a club. Let the right arm swing wide going back and the elbow coming away from the shoulder.

• On the downswing, the right arm returns close to the body. The right elbow should lead the hand through half of the downswing. The right arm should remain close to the body through impact.

• As the arm moves past impact it will it will move away from the body again on the follow-through.

• On the follow downswing of this drill, maintain the image of a paintbrush as presented by Ken Venturi.

Next week: Grapefruit Drill

Jim McLean is the instruction editor for Golf Digest and the Golf Channel, and an author of numerous, top-selling golf instruction books. For a free intro DVD to his new Building Block Approach, visit Jim McLean Golf School.

Copyright © Jim McLean. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Tuesday, March 17

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Rory McIlroy

NOW THAT IT’S ST. PATRICK’S DAY, it’s the perfect time to write about Ireland’s new golfing sensation, Rory McIlroy. While others have been knocking out a shag bag full of stories about the precocious golf star, I’ve been waiting for March 17. It’s an Irish theme. I like themes.

OK, truth time. I’m late to jump on the Rory bandwagon. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, let’s call it a St. Paddy’s Day Parade. I’ll join in.

My intern, Dobby, has been on me about Rory. “Sheesh, everyone is talking about Rory. You better get with it.”

Actually, I don’t have an intern. Dobby is my young kitty cat. But he looks at me with those penetrating little eyes and I get a Rory vibe. It’s either that, or he wants me to fill his food dish with Meow Mix.

I finally decided I had to write about Rory if, for no other reason, as a sort of sacrifice to the golf media gods. Everywhere I turned last week it was Rory, Rory, Rory.

And I do mean everywhere. On Twitter, his driver yardages were being tweeted from the range at Doral. One blogger buddy wrote a Rory piece and then a Rory piece with a similar angle popped up the next day on a major sports site.

The final straw was when Tiger Woods was asked about Rory. There’s nothing that breathes life into the golf media like an utterance from Tiger. And so, of course, the story had a second life.

Tiger was asked if Rory McIlroy could someday claim the top spot in golf.

“There’s no doubt,” Tiger said. “The guy’s a talent. Hopefully while I’m not around or while I’m around. Certainly he has the talent. We can all see it.”

That statement caused a tizzy on Rory’s side of the pond and resulted in what will surely go down as one of my favorite golf headlines of the year (and it’s only March) by The Telegraph:

Tiger Woods raves about Rory McIlroy as Phil Mickelson wins


After reading that, Dobby and I laughed like we had guzzled one too many green beers. (Or maybe Dobby had a hairball.)

Being the astute golf observer I am (and, um, after reading what others have already said, including Tiger), I’ve come to two iron-clad conclusions about Rory. Are you ready?

He’s young. He’s talented.

That’s my stand. I’m on the record. Finally.

Rory Bumps Into Jack Nicklaus at Mall


Rory has a Web site and blog and recently wrote about a chance encounter with Jack Nicklaus. No kidding.

“We then flew to West Palm Beach and on the Sunday me and Dad didn't have anything to do so we went to the mall,” Rory wrote, “and believe it or not walking to his car in the parking lot was Jack Nicklaus.”

(The golf gods, indeed, must be smiling on this Irish lad.)

“He was just about to get in his car and obviously I recognized him and he sort of took a second look at me and recognized me.”

Rory introduced himself and, out of respect, referred to Jack as Mr. Nicklaus. He insisted that his dad do the same.

“It was just amazing to meet the best player of all time at the present moment in the parking lot at the mall,” Rory wrote, “so that was a good start to the week and we definitely thought it was a good omen.”

You might call it that.

McIlroy File
Turned pro: 2007
Birthplace: Holywood, Northern Ireland
World ranking: 17
Amateur wins: 5
Professional wins: 1
Equipment: Titleist

−The Armchair Golfer

Brought to you by The World of Golf and ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.

Monday, March 16

On My Bucket List: The Home of Golf


The finishing hole at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland.
(Maedi/Flickr)


THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS I’ve been able to cross off my golf to-do list. For starters, I’ve been to many tournaments, including a few majors. Last year was an especially huge year for me. I finally made it to Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters. And I was very fortunate to attend the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Louisville.

So what’s left? I’ve always said I wanted to play Pebble Beach. (It still hasn’t happened.)

But here’s a big one: I want to attend The Open Championship. In addition, I want to set foot on the Home of Golf, St. Andrews, the Old Course. It’s on my bucket list. I need to get there.

I know there are many amazing golf courses in the British Isles − and I could happily tour all of them if I had enough time and money − but it seems to me that St. Andrews is the destination for those interested in serious golf holidays. After all, it’s where this crazy game started.

My dad went in the 1990s − or was it the 80s? He bought me a cap. My brother-in-law went a few years ago. He bought me a cap.

I don’t need any more caps.

I need to see the Road Hole with my own eyes, walk across the Swilken Bridge toward the Valley of Sin, and try to hack my way out of one of those insane pot bunkers.

If you have played and watched golf much of your life like l have, then you’re nodding your head. This makes perfect sense to you.

I fully expect to accomplish this goal. When I do, I’ll know I already have a friend at the Home of Golf. You may know him. His name is Andy Brown, formerly of the European Tour, and now the proprietor of Home of Golf TV, among other golf interests.

Andy lives in St. Andrews. He films episodes in and around the Old Course for Home of Golf TV and freely shares them with anyone who has an Internet connection. Andy even recently strayed far from home, shooting an episode in Orlando with three-time Open champion and golf commentator Nick Faldo.

But back to St. Andrews and my list.

The Old Course isn’t always love at first sight. The great Bobby Jones was not impressed the first time he saw St. Andrews. Nor was Sam Snead. Scott Hoch called it “the biggest piece of mess I’ve ever seen.”

And a former Tour pro told me, “I felt like Bobby Jones the first time he saw it. Thought it was a cow pasture.”

Yet, the Old Course won over Bobby Jones, and Bobby Jones won over the Scots, returning again and again and winning three Claret Jugs.

As for me, I’ll be glad if I can just go once. When I do, maybe I’ll buy someone a cap.

−The Armchair Golfer

Brought to you by YourGolfTravel.com and the ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.


(Swilken Bridge photo: Tiarescott/Flickr)

Sunday, March 15

Phil Mickelson Is Wire-to-Wire Winner


Phil Mickelson at the Ryder Cup. To his right are Justin Leonard, Paul Azinger and Butch Harmon. (Proforged/Flickr)

“BEWARE THE AILING GOLFER,” Phil Mickelson said in the press tent after claiming his first World Golf Championship title on Sunday at the Blue Monster in Miami, Florida. It was Phil’s second win of the season and 36th career victory, trying him for 12th on the all-time win list with Lloyd Mangrum.

Lefty overcame a virus that prevented him from eating for two days and landed him in a clinic on Saturday night to be treated for dehydration. He also survived the splendid shotmaking of up-and-comer Nick Watney, who played in the final group with Mickelson in the last two rounds and left a tying putt inches short on the 72nd hole.

Phil carded rounds of 65, 66, 69 and 69 for a 19-under total. It was an impressive performance and will surely get the golf world buzzing about a possible Tiger-Phil duel, especially as the Masters approaches.

Bradley Wins in Puerto Rico

Michael Bradley sank an 11-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the Puerto Rico Open.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, March 14

ARMCHAIR GOLF Briefs


(Josh V-R/Flickr)

A bevy of golf products, services, events, news and more. Endorsement is not implied.

Shaft Skinz are light-weight, printed sleeves that fit over the clubs and shrink onto the shaft in a matter of minutes. Now golfers can play with the shafts that best suit their game but choose the look that best suits their personality. There’s a range of designs to choose from in a variety of colors.

Golf Datatech, LLC, the industry’s leading independent research firm for consumer, trade and retail golf trends and performance, has unveiled its first-ever Women’s Golf Market Study.

Tiger Woods gives FORTUNE a sneak preview of his new North Carolina golf course in the current issue.

Teton Springs Lodge & Spa is offering special Spring Golf Packages.

The Putting Game is a new system that provides fun and excitement as well as precision to a golfer’s putting. The games and skill challenges allow golf enthusiasts the opportunity to practice up to a 32-foot putt at the office or at home.

Quagmire Golf has re-signed Chez Reavie and signed several other players.

Training for PGA/LPGA Golf Professionals on how to teach golf to the wounded warriors from Walter Reed Medical Center will be conducted Friday March 27, 2009 at Olney Golf Park in Olney, Maryland. There is no charge but space is limited. Training conducted by Judy Alvarez, PGA/LPGA PGA National Golf Trainer Wounded Warrior Golf Project. Email: golferja@aol.com

Macali Communications, a marketing and communications company specializing in the golf business, has launched a business blog called Macali Communications Blog.

PGA Golf Catalunya, a 36-hole golf resort near Barcelona and host to the 2009 Spanish Open, April 30-May 3, has been confirmed as one of Europe’s top golfing venues in a new course rankings survey.

Graphite Design announced that its Aura shafts have been selected as stock options for the Cleveland HiBore IBorMonster XLS and Launcher drivers.

GolfGym announced that it has updated its affiliate program with new banners and widgets to match the look of its new packaging and website graphics.

• Not wanting to play with a dirty golf ball inspired Brent Hollows to invent Ball Brite (a personal golf ball and iron cleaner) when he had misplaced his towel and was getting ready to putt.

Sweet Spot Golf has partnered with Women’s National Golf School.

Universe Publishing has announced the publication of GOLF: THE ART OF THE MENTAL GAME by the best-selling author of Zen Golf, Dr. Joseph Parent.

GOLF Magazine Top 100 Instructor Charlie King has launched his new eBook, The New Rules of Golf Instruction.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, March 13

King of Golf Cartoons: ‘Opposite’


Copyright © Jerry King. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Ben Hogan once said, “Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing.”

In golf, have you ever tried to do the opposite of what felt natural?

−The Armchair Golfer

Jerry King is an award-winning cartoonist whose credits and clients include Golf Digest, United States Golf Association and Disney. His golf cartoons are featured weekly at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

After Tiger, Then What?


For commish Tim Finchem, it’s all smiles when Tiger is on Tour.
(Keith Allison/Flickr)

By Robert Bruce
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


ON JUNE 15, 2008, THE DAY TIGER WOODS will-powered his way to his 14th major title on a gimpy knee, he limped off the 18th hole at Torrey Pines and entered an eight month injury-induced exile.

From that day until the Accenture Match Play two weeks ago, the golf world — outside of a fabulous few days in Louisville in September — was static. Not much drama. Not much excitement. For the casual fan, not much reason to watch.

Tiger’s recent return reinvigorated
the sport and gave the Tour a much needed shot in the arm. But it also gave the Tour suits an unfortunate glimpse of the future.

Simply put: When Tiger ain’t playing, ain’t nobody watchin’.

In the past eight months, golf was off the radar — even while major notables like Mickelson, Kim, Singh, Villegas and Garcia played every week. During that same period, ratings sucked.

Though many immensely talented players are making an impact at an early age, they aren’t Tiger Woods. And much like many an NBA player has failed the Michael Jordan litmus test, it’s safe to assume another Tiger Woods is not around the bend.

This begs the questions:
Will there ever be a player comparable to Tiger Woods? Is the PGA Tour in its prime? And, if so, what happens in 15 years or so when El Tigre decides to hang up the Nikes?

Hopefully, these are questions Tim Finchem and his peeps are asking themselves. With all of their youth programs and clinics, I’m sure the Tour believes another mini-Tiger is out there somewhere.

If you think it’s too early to worry about such things, consider this: Woods has already been on the Tour for 12 years. Wasn’t it just yesterday when he tapped in that three-footer at Augusta and bear hugged Earl on the 18th green? In 12 years, Tiger will be 45 — just five years from the Champions Tour.

While Woods’ run of success
has brought millions of players to the game, and millions of dollars into the pockets of networks and advertisers, his success could — in some sort of twisted way — lead to the Tour’s downfall. NBC, CBS and the Golf Channel rely on Woods for ratings and profits, so when he’s injured, they’re injured.

Injuries aside, Tiger rarely plays many more tournaments than the required minimum. When he steps off the throne and out of his castle to make an appearance at a tournament, network executives and sponsors must feel as if an angel has descended from heaven to grace their golf course.

As Tiger ages, what if he decides
he just wants to play the majors, and maybe a few other tournaments? Who’s going to stop him? Do you honestly think the Tour wouldn’t drop their minimum number of tournaments — if that’s what Tiger wanted?

As golf fans, let’s hope Tour officials can figure out a way to make the game more attractive sans Tiger. If not, we may be watching our beloved game on the Versus Network — not CBS — two decades from now. Now that’s a scary thought.

Robert Bruce is a full-time writer and part-time golf blogger in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit his golf blog at www.gameunderrepair.com.

Thursday, March 12

2009 WGC-CA Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2009 WGC-CA CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at the Blue Monster, the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, Florida.

Purse: $8.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.35 million
Defending champion: Geoff Ogilvy

Inside the field
Inside the course

2009 WGC-CA Championship Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Sixteen hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 WGC-CA Championship.

Thu, 3/12:
GOLF 2p - 6p ET

Fri, 3/13:
GOLF 2p - 6p ET

Sat, 3/14:
NBC 2p - 6p ET

Sun, 3/15:
NBC 3p - 7p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Jim McLean Instruction: Indoor Drills

By Jim McLean
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


WINTERS CAN BE LONG and that itch to play can build up, so scratch that itch with some indoor practicing to hone your skills for the coming season. Indoor practice can be very valuable to improving the swing. When clubs and ball flights are eliminated, focus is shifted to technique and body awareness. Body drills are so important to our teaching system that we use them in every school. Here are just a few of the drills we teach to get you in golf shape for the spring.

BODY COIL

Making a full body coil and transferring the weight through impact properly are keys to power and distance. A simple drill to reinforce this can be performed in front of a mirror using a towel.

Get into a proper golf stance in facing the mirror. This should involve feet approximately shoulder width apart, knees flexed, and a slight bend from the hips towards the ball (mirror). Be sure not to slouch, set up is an athletic position with the weight balanced equally between the toes and heels. (Never have more weight on the toes than the heels.)

Place the folded towel between your feet
on the ground perpendicular to your body so it bisects your stance.

Cross your arms across your chest
, maintaining golf posture. For right-handed players, when looking in the mirror the left shoulder should be higher than the right. This is very important to driving the ball well.

Simply coil your upper body to the right over a fairly resistant lower body. Visualize your upper body in a cylinder or tube that is consistent with your spine angle at address (that tilt of the left shoulder above the right that I mentioned) and coil within this tube.
• A full coil is made by turning so that the buttons of your shirt are over the inside of your right foot, keeping your weight to the inside of the right leg.
• It is important that the right knee remains flex; it is your brace for your backswing.
• Use that towel as a gauge to make sure you’re making a full turn. The left shoulder should rotate past the towel.
• It is important at this point to check in the mirror that you have maintained the spine angle, so you should be slightly tilted towards the mirror.
• At the top of the backswing, all of the weight should feel as if it is on your right leg.

Transferring your weight to the left side
is a shift and rotate motion.
• Weight transfer begins from the ground up.
• The knees kick slightly forward, then the hip slides slightly followed by a rotation.
• As the hips rotate, they pull the upper body forward into a rotation.
• Finish with the right heel up and all the weight balanced over the left heel.

During this drill, try to focus on maintaining the spine angle established at set up. The drill should also be used to practice rhythmic movement with a concentration on the proper sequence of uncoiling. When practiced correctly, this drill will increase flexibility and develop a more controlled efficient swing.

Next week: Right Arm Only Drill

Jim McLean is the instruction editor for Golf Digest and the Golf Channel, and an author of numerous, top-selling golf instruction books. For a free intro DVD to his new Building Block Approach, visit Jim McLean Golf School.

Copyright © Jim McLean. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Live Doral Coverage: WGC-CA Championship

YOU CAN WATCH the entire field play the 1st and 18th holes in the WGC-CA Championship at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, Florida.

For live streaming coverage, head over to PGATour.com. Then just click the banner near the top of the page.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, March 11

Jill McGill’s LPGA Tour Diary: Singapore

By Jill McGill
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


I’M BACK FROM A LONG WEEK in Singapore. I would have written yesterday [Monday] but the toothpicks I was using to hold my eyes open didn’t work. I was well into REM shortly after returning home.

It seems as though we were almost exactly halfway around the world last week. Singapore is an awesome place. I have been fortunate to visit there three times and it is still as amazing as it was in 1995. I have never been somewhere so clean. The rest of the world should take a few pointers from Singapore.

One of my favorite things upon arriving is the warning you receive on your embarkation papers that drug trafficking is punishable by death. They aren’t messing around!

Singapore is one degree north of the equator
, making it a very sweltering place. I like to think I’m in pretty good shape, but somehow I couldn’t shake the big, fat, sweaty gorilla that jumped on my back every day with about six holes left. I was actually left a little baffled. I think it was virtually impossible to drink enough liquids to counter the heat. This fair-complected girl isn’t made for spending hours in the sun at that latitude.

HSBC did a wonderful job with the hospitality. Our hotel was beautiful and the amenities fantastic. The gym was packed with golfing and caddying gym rats all week. It would be terrific if these sort of facilities were available every week. The food was moderate to good, but didn’t leave me needing anything. And, I want to give a shout out to the AWESOME physio therapists that helped out more then half the field last week. They have hands of magic.

You may be able to tell I have been avoiding
writing about the heart of the matter last week … golf. The course was adjacent to the airport, and let’s just say at times I wish I had a 007 gadget that I could have attached to one of the jumbo jets that would lift me off the links and into the sky.

I don’t know how to accurately describe the feelings I had while attempting to make birdies last week. It was somewhat alien. There were a few bright spots, and I believe that with every week there are always positives to take away.

Some I like to keep to myself, and others I’m happy to share. So, the one I’m happy to share is quite obvious: I have nowhere to go but up! So, maybe that is why I was having daydreams of flying.

I know what I need to work on
and feel extremely determined to improve. The good news is I have a plan. I’m intending to execute. The next time I write I fully expect to be in a better place.

Congrats to Jiyai Shin.
She played awesome and is a great representative for our tour. If you get a chance, look her up. She is a character.

Oh, another highlight for me last week was finding some really cute golf skirts. Woo-hoo!!

For more on Jill, visit JillMcGill.com or see the recent mini profile at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Tuesday, March 10

Jiyai Shin Doesn’t Play Like a Rookie

Tomorrow: Jill McGill’s LPGA Tour Diary

FOUR LPGA TOUR WINS and a total of 26 professional wins − and she won’t be 21 until next month. LPGA Tour rookie Jiyai Shin doesn’t play like one.

Shin has already won a major − the 2008 Women’s British Open. This past weekend she stormed from behind to win the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore against an elite field.

Jiyai closed with a pair of 66s, explaining that she hit her driver and iron shots better than the first two days. The solid play catapulted Shin up the leaderboard. On Sunday, she made up four shots on leader Katherine Hull over the final nine holes to claim the title.

“Why do you think Koreans are so good at golf?” Shin was asked.

“I always say that we have Kimchi, and it has special powers, spicy, I think,” she said, laughing.

Shin, whose English is improving, added, “I think we long time have family to support, the players. So, get more hard mental, and then more training.”

Whether it’s from Kimchi, hard work, or both, this former KLPGA Tour player certainly does have special powers. At the rate she’s going, Shin will need a very large trophy room to store all of her golf hardware.

Shin File
Turned pro: 2005
Birthplace: South Korea
College: Yonsei University
World ranking: 4
Professional wins: 26
LPGA Tour wins: 4
Major wins: 1
Equipment: PING

−The Armchair Golfer

Brought to you by The World of Golf and ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.

Monday, March 9

Q&A: Jim Fannin, ‘Zone’ Coach for PGA Tour Players

Charles Howell III and Jim Fannin

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED what those golf mental gurus really do? What do they whisper in the ears of tour pros? And what the heck is “The Zone”? Is it just for Tiger Woods and a few other pros? How about amateurs like you and me?

Jim Fannin is a long-time sports coach who has taken eight pro golfers to their first victory. (He has also coached elite pro athletes, coaches and Olympians in several other sports.) Recently, Jim has been working with PGA Tour players Joe Durant, Mat Goggin and Tom Pernice, Jr.

He answered my questions in between coaching sessions at the Northern Trust Open.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: There’s a lot of talk about “The Zone” in sports. What is it, and how do you help players get into it?


JIM FANNIN: The Zone is a mental and physical phenomenon that is programmed into every human being. It is NOT just for the superstar athlete. It is designed to help you get out of danger or prepare you to fight. If you were to cut yourself severely you would immediately go into a Zone state. When this “flight or fight” phenomenon occurs, blood from the stomach is diverted to your brain for clarity and to your large muscles for inordinate quickness, speed, agility and strength. Your eyes literally double or triple their shutter speed to create the illusion that everything is in slow motion. Your senses, like touch, are at their highest level. Your intuition is prepared to deliver real-time information to help you survive. The good news is you don’t have to have trauma to get into the Zone. It’s available for everyone.

We help our clients reach the Zone with a secret formula known as S.C.O.R.E. System. S.C.O.R.E. is an acronym for Self-Discipline, Concentration, Optimism, Relaxation and Enjoyment. When all these intangibles are in balance and at a high level, you will attract the Zone.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: If I were a PGA Tour player who hired you for the first time, briefly explain what you would tell me in our first session?


JIM FANNIN: I would discuss your commitment to getting to the championship level. I’m not for everyone. Commitment to our program is essential. Commitment to being the best you can be is paramount.

It starts with your vision. Where do you see yourself this year, five years and ten years? We start with Point B and create an illuminated pathway back to Point A. Most people go from Point A to Point B. Once we know what you expect, we begin to coach you to get there. We always give a few tools initially so you can begin applying the S.C.O.R.E. System. Typically, the initial tools are designed to leverage what you do well.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: How would your coaching proceed over the course of several sessions or an entire golf season?


JIM FANNIN:
Over the course of the first few sessions, we work from your strengths. We add pre-performance tools, performance tools and post-performance tools to your daily routines. Next, we identify your major areas of growth. Then we create tailored strategies, tactics and timelines. Over the entire golf season, we believe in providing repetition. If someone is challenged by something in February, then it is usually a problem in June. All of us have tendencies so we need to stay with basic themes and really hammer them home. We keep the ideas fresh by coming up with creative ways to fix problems. We are problem solvers and we educate you on being the same.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: How do you tailor your coaching for each individual player? Can you give examples?

JIM FANNIN:
First, we have a simple golf assessment that they take online to ascertain their most basic needs. After analyzing their assessment, the S.C.O.R.E. System is tailored to them. Some of our clients are anal in their preparation and overall management of their game. This perfectionist attitude will cause their relaxation and enjoyment to plummet. This out-of-balance performer will suffer many highs and lows. However, we have some clients that are too laid-back and their lack of discipline on the course will cause stretches of lost concentration and ultimately confidence. Each player knows the basics of our program after only 10 days. Then they are armed with tailored tools for improving their specific levels of self-discipline, concentration, optimism, relaxation or enjoyment.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Can you share any tangible results you’ve had with players?


JIM FANNIN:
We have taken eight professional golfers to their first win. My first success was Gary Hallberg becoming “Rookie of the Year” in 1980. Martha Nause won an LPGA Major. Luke Donald went from a No. 185 ranking to top 15 in the world while helping the Europeans win the Ryder Cup. Mat Goggin has gone from a Nationwide Tour Player to one of the most consistent players on tour with a tour ranking of No. 34. Ty Tryon became the youngest player to ever advance through Qualifying School to the PGA Tour.

We have had great results on the golf course with our clients. However, the best results may have occurred off the course. We want our players to be good parents, spouses, siblings, sons or daughters and friends. This is a true champion that is very rare today in professional sports. It’s all about finding balance.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Whether it’s a pro or an amateur, what are the common obstacles to achieving peak performance?

JIM FANNIN:
One of our most common obstacles is not having an effective plan. This usually leads to low self-discipline that spawns impatience and ultimately frustration. You must begin programming your subconscious mind with exactly what you want your life to be. Not just golf but all arenas of your life. If you and your significant other are in a fight or conflict, it is very difficult to play golf well. If you don’t have a good group of friends around you to provide a support system, then life becomes that much more challenging. Planning your golf game in balance with your other life arenas is one of our first hurdles.

Thinking too much is definitely another common obstacle. We want thoughts on the course to decrease 30-40%. Next, is allowing internal or external stimuli to adversely affect your performance. Another common obstacle is the lack of optimism or confidence. It is a challenge for any player to advance from a sense of believing to expecting and, finally, to knowing. I know I’ll drain that 10-foot putt is much different than just believing you can. This obstacle commonly occurs from a golfer carrying around excess baggage from the past.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Is creating a superior mental mindset mostly about stripping away negative and excessive thoughts? Is it teaching the mind to simply get out of the way of the physical so you can just “let it happen”?


JIM FANNIN:
Developing consistent mental, physical and technical routines that you can carry with you from course to course under varying conditions and circumstances creates this mindset. In addition, most golfers need to go on a mental diet so that you can just “let it happen.” Attracting the Zone mindset is an art form. It takes practice just like the technical aspects of your game.
Our players have a plan for every shot. They are totally locked into the moment. They expect to hit a good shot. They are relaxed. They have passion for problem solving and the game of golf. When you get to this place, you are in the Zone.

Jim Fannin has coached athletes, coaches and corporations for more than 35 years. To learn more, visit http://www.jimfannin.com.

Sunday, March 8

Phil Bundy Takes Aim at PGA Tour


(Photo courtesy of Phil Bundy)

PHIL BUNDY IS A PLAYER. Now he wants to be a PGA Tour player.

“At midlife [age 43], I am hoping to bring together a unique mix of talent, skills and life experiences to achieve my mission of playing on the PGA Tour and documenting my journey,” Phil says at PhilBundy.com.

My first exchange with Phil was an email. He made a small request that made quite an impression: He asked for a link. Not an unusual request, except that he asked for a link in the players section. I liked that.

So now there are two “Phils” in my players blogroll: Phil Bundy and Phil Mickelson. If Phil’s dream comes true, someday he will walk the same fairways as that other Phil.

Bundy has assembled an outstanding team, including PGA Tour and Champions Tour player Fred Funk and renowned swing coach Jim McLean. And he has the moral support of the King of Golf, Arnold Palmer.

“My best advice to you is to never become discouraged,” Arnold wrote to Phil in a personal note published at PhilBundy.com.

“Keep working at it as hard as you can and, regardless of the outcome, you can be proud of what you accomplished.”

Phil attended Palmer’s alma mater, Wake Forest, where Phil played on the 1986 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship team that included PGA Tour players Billy Andrade and Len Mattiace. He also won the Maryland high school golf championship by a record 10 strokes.

Besides his team, highly supportive wife and the legendary Arnold Palmer, there is someone else who is spurring on Phil: his 5-year-old son, Charlie.

“He also loves golf, and if I don’t do this someday he will ask why,” Phil told Sports Writer HQ.

Whatever the outcome, a father will teach an important life lesson to a son.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, March 7

Does Geoff Ogilvy Play a Blue Golf Ball?


(Photo courtesy of PUMA)

A BLUE GOLF BALL? Are you kidding me? That’s what I thought when I saw this image supplied by PUMA with a press release. (Geoff Ogilvy wears PUMA apparel and golf shoes.) So I asked about it.

Even though the ball appears to be a bright blue, it’s actually white, said the PUMA PR rep. The blue tint is just the way it caught the light in the image.

Of course. I figured it had to be something like that. Still, it’s weird.

Would anyone else like to highjack Geoff’s golf swing?

Look at his head position. Gorgeous. If you watch his full swing, you might notice that his lower body is relatively quiet. But he makes an awesome shoulder turn. Tall (6ʹ2ʺ) with an upright swing, Ogilvy generates a lot of speed and makes it look effortless. If you struggle with tempo, this guy is a great one to watch.

The recent winner of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Geoff defends this coming week at the WGC-CA Championship at Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, Florida. Some guy named Tiger has also entered the event.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, March 6

King of Golf Cartoons: ‘Range Balls’


Copyright © Jerry King. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Big Shooter is looking at a lot of range time. How about you? As spring approaches, are you going to be pounding balls on the range or heading straight for the first tee?

−The Armchair Golfer

Jerry King is an award-winning cartoonist whose credits and clients include Golf Digest, United States Golf Association and Disney. His golf cartoons are featured weekly at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Thursday, March 5

LPGA Tour Player Jill McGill Coming to ARMCHAIR GOLF

JILL MCGILL HAD JUST FINISHED her workout when she called late last week. The LPGA Tour veteran told me many people have no idea what it’s like to travel on tour and play tournament golf week in and week out.

“There’s a love affair with this idea that you just get off a plane and go play 18 holes,” Jill said. Yet that’s far from reality.

Great news: We’re going to get a true picture. Jill is going to contribute regular first-hand accounts at ARMCHAIR GOLF about life on the LPGA Tour. Not only will we get an inside look at the top women’s tour, we’ll get to know Jill, a self-described “free spirit” who takes golf seriously but also has many other interests.

Jill told me she has been preparing hard for the 2009 season. She is playing in her second event this week, the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. Jill’s first contribution to ARMCHAIR GOLF is expected soon after she returns from the Far East.

You can learn more about Jill by visiting JillMcGill.com.

McGill File
Turned pro: 1994
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado
Residence: San Diego, California
College: USC
Career earnings: $2.2 million
Career best finish: 2nd
Career best round: 63
Amateur career highlights:
• Two-time All-American at USC
• 1993 U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion
• 1994 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Champion
• 1994 U.S. Curtis Cup Team member

Notes: Jill has also been an on-course commentator for the Golf Channel, ABC, TNT and ESPN. Her caddie is her husband, Patrick, who also happens to be a marathoner.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photos courtesy of LPGA.com and Sterling Sports Management.)