The Aspire Golf Blog
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Many Thanks - Tim
No matter what you think of the proposed ban on putter anchoring, you should be upset by how the USGA/R&A went about the process. I donâ€™t mean giving 90 days to discuss it, but how it came about at all years after they had the chance to nip it in the bud and didnâ€™t. Are the ruling bodies in panic mode simply because the last few major champions anchored? Is this really, as some people have suggested, because someone with influence doesnâ€™t like the aesthetics of anchoring?
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My niche in this game and the goal of ASPIRE Golf is to help golf course superintendents excel and do better, particularly when they or their golf courses are not doing well.Â I strive to open eyes, share new skills and better this profession, although as a â€śconsultantâ€ť I am one of the seven dirty words you donâ€™t want to hear in golf.
But, in my role, I need to take a 30,000-foot view of the industry and to that end, assumed a front row position at last weekâ€™s PGA Show in Orlando to wait breathlessly for the unveiling of Golf 2.0.
The concept, which targets the new era in golf, (thus 2.0) aims to substantially boost the number of golfers and much needed revenue.
IN THE REARVIEW MIRRORâ€¦
Looking back on 2011 and before heading into 2012 letâ€™s review some the issues which left many people within our industry perplexed, puzzled and preparing for the worst.
For the last two seasons this malady affected many golf courses and their bent grass or Poa greens or at least many superintendents thought this was the issue.Â Examined and diagnosed every which way this destructive pathogen was blamed for everything from turf decline to occupying Wall Street. Â I have read volumes of literature from university pathologists and others who feel they are in the know and all have one common denominator:Â â€śit was too freakinâ€™ hot and wet!â€ťÂ In Northern New Jersey we received 50+ inches of rain.Â So what to do?Â How about forecasting and reviewing your past summer to prepare for next summer and drainage, tree reduction, height-of-cut increases and fans.Â Considering what you can do for your turf in early July will impact turf in early September.Â Often, doing nothing at all is the best action.
Even though the Presidentâ€™s Cup wouldnâ€™t normally excite me, an Australian visit a few years back put Royal Melbourne among my personal top ten favorite golf courses.
The Alister MacKenzie layout is a classic and for a competition of this nature is sure to test the players and enthuse the galleries.
From the telecasts, Iâ€™ve noticed a few interesting agronomic features.
Is 2011 Over Yet?
Sorry to be away for so long, but you know all that water soaking your golf course (except you poor golfers and greens crews in Texas)? A lot of it is now in my basement. Between bailing, rigging up the generators, and cursing the gods, Iâ€™ve been pondering the 2011 season just past and what it had to teach golf course superintendents and golfers alike.
Wait a second. Why am I talking about the end of the season now, when we still have a few monthsâ€”maybe the best months of the yearâ€”left to play?
Because I know that not a lot of you are following the FedEx Cup matches and the march to the Tour Championship. Câ€™mon, be honest. Riveting? Hardly. Pro golfâ€™s last gasp never seems to live up to its own hypeâ€”or to the NFL, for that matter.
So with my feet in the water, my head in the clouds, and my TV set turned to anything other than Golf Channel, some observations.
Sitting here watching Rory McIlroy go to 16 under after four holes in the final round of the U.S. Open, listening to the announcers tell me that he won't have more than a wedge into any of Congressional Country Club's par fours on the front nine, makes absolutely no sense. A wedge?
You can blame the weather or you can blame superior equipment technology, but frankly, the U.S. Open should not resemble a weekly PGA Tour event. This is the national championship of golf. The USGAâ€”golf's governing bodyâ€”insists that this should be the toughest event played every year, yet McIlroy cruised to victory. I even heard someone refer to it as a "rout."
Where were the 4-irons? The 5-irons? I would have taken a utility club. Anything other than a wedge.
Right about at this time of year, with the U.S. Open starting in a few days, the golf world is bracing for its annual bitch-fest, the carping and complaining from the pros about how difficult the course is, how poorly itâ€™s set up, and how the brutal conditions will show them at their worst. Yet for all the pissing and moaning, the word Iâ€™m hearing most often when I talk to â€śreal peopleâ€ťâ€”others in the golf business as well as friends and fellow golfersâ€”is â€śfun.â€ť
Thatâ€™s right. Fun. Much to my surprise, everyone has suddenly realized that we need to put fun back in the game if we want it to be viable and sustainable.
Itâ€™s about time!
I am a sports junkie and spring is my favorite time of year.Â Which button on the TV remote do I press and what sport do I watch?Â Hockey, basketball, baseball, horse racing and most importantly right now - golf!Â No, not Johnny Miller and weekly â€śdown-grain, cross-grain, double grain and towards the setting sun grainâ€ť of regular PGA Tour events or some rental car-sponsored â€śchampionship.â€ť It is time for The Masters contested at Augusta National Golf Club.Â It is my official start to the golf season. I enjoy everything about Augusta National Golf Club and how the golf course is prepared to be an agronomic fantasy golf environment for their â€śtune-a-mint.â€ť
The economy and what we are experiencing in the golf industry has left many hard working GC superintendents, GMâ€™s and golf professionals without employment. These individuals have lost their employment due to a sluggish golf economy and budget cuts.
In addition many once profitable clubs have fallen prey to the numerous golf management firms touting incredible savings using their methods, which often times means eliminating â€śhigh salaried or high profileâ€ť employees. So much for experience and knowledge of the facility they may be managing.
I have listened to very qualified people reveal stories and results from recent interviews results and reasons why they were not chosen for the position advertised.
My favorites followâ€¦and might be reviewed by all agencies, individuals and committees who conduct the interview and selection process...
Weâ€™re already two weeks into 2011 and my huge fan base (at least 2) has been clamoring for new posts and wondering why I havenâ€™t offered my predictions for the new year.
But first a little reminiscing.
What did we accomplish in 2010?
We did not see the industry turn around. Itâ€™s still losing ground.
--We did see some ridiculous weather, including a hellacious summer particularly for courses and superintendents east of the Mississippi.
--Brown did not become the new green. Just ask Pebble Beach, Oakmont, and Chambers Bay.
--We lost The Ryder Cup and The Open at St. Andrews wasnâ€™t all that interesting after Friday. Â However, 16 under was.
--Johnny Miller still likes grain, and not for his digestive tract. (more)
Speaking of Cups, there's another one about to be contested for in a tournament that generates the same sort of excitement and passion that I love about hockey (no, not the FedEx
Cup). Of course I mean the Ryder Cup, which in my mind is a close second to the Open Championship as golf's greatest event. The Ryder Cup is all about passion, patriotism, and partnership, just like hockey.
In my opinion, such accolades are long overdue. No one works harder, or has a harder task, than a superintendent.Â
What do these numbers have in common? They were all rounds shot at pro tour events this season by much better players than I ever hope to be and likely better than you, too. However, as a result of these low scores, golf's governing bodies, along with the media, are in a frenzy to roll back the ball, limit distance, throttle technical advancements in equipment, and find other ways to prevent low numbers. Â (more)
Here are some suggestions for golfers and supers for surviving one of the hottest summers on record-and having some fun along the way.
By definition, links is "sandy, level to undulating land built up along a coastline, usually bordering an ocean or lake." Sounds like St. Andrews to me. Remember the running-on-the-beach scene at the opening of "Chariots of Fire?" That was shot in St. Andrews, on the sands abutting the Old Course. You can get a similar feeling in the U.S. at a few notable courses such as Shinnecock Hills, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, and The National Golf Links, probably our best examples of links-style courses.
Over the last few weeks, the commentators covering the tennis matches at Wimbledon have noted that there had been no substantial rain in Great Britain for six months, a concern echoed by Gordon Moir, Director of Green Keeping for the Links Trust, which oversees the courses at St. Andrews. The forecast for the Open is more what we think of for British golf-cool, wind, and rain. But if things remain atypically dry, what can the players expect? Just like the runners in "Chariots," it will be like playing on a beach-undulations and dry sand. Very different conditions from what they face nearly ever other week of their season.
Slightly more than 20% of the people currently playing golf are women. That may not sound like a lot, but women play a vital financial role on course and off, so it's high timeÂ we listened to them. I recently spoke to a number of prominent women in the industry, askingforÂ their input. The following suggestions are a compilation of their remarks.
It boggles my mind how much fuss can be made over placing a 4-1/4-inch hole in the ground 8 to 10 inches deep. And how many people are needed to do so.
From my days as an assistant superintendent through 23 years helping position holes for major golf events, I thought I'd seen every possible method of picking locations. Once upon a time, the legendary PJ Boatwright of the USGA would throw his pocketknife in the air, watch it stick in the green, and ask me, "How does that look?" The galleries were almost as stunned as I was.
It is certainly true that golf courses can be wiser in their water use. Many people think courses waste water and should be more tightly regulated. In fact, most golf facilities in this country are pretty good stewards of land and water. "Water is the new oil" so those of us who care for courses must be judicious in our water use and actions.
The previous installments of "Golf Course Confidential" dealt with agronomy, which is the heart of my business. However, I occasionally will use this space to discuss other issues in the game. Feel free to send your reactions to these articles as well as ideas you might have for future columns.
I currently serve on the New Jersey State Golf Association's tournament committee, sometimes officiating at NJSGA and other events. These help me keep sharp on the Rules of Golf and give me a break from turf and trees. I also recently worked with the recent Big 10 Championships, held at Windsong Farm GC in Minnesota, and the Carolinas Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship, held at Forsyth Country Club.
These events attract many good players so I always learn something. For example, while at the Big 10 Championship I learned that top college players are nearly incapable of making decisions on their own, rely too heavily on their coaches, and, as a result, play extremely slowly. I suffered through rounds that lasted 4:45 to 6 hours-twosomes and threesomes! (for more - click on title above)
As I explained last week, it's likely that your favorite golf course isn't in very good shape after a winter of unusually severe rain, wind, and snow. But if the club is open and you're willing to put up with shaggy lies, slow greens, and soggy bunkers for a few more weeks, the ragged state of affairs actually can be good for your game.
Here's how to make the most of the early-season mess and make yourself a better player.
Every week, Tim Moraghan - long-time golf industry insider with a 20+ year tenure at the USGA and "inside the ropes" access at over 100 national championships - offers an over, under, and on the ground look at courses, conditions, architecture, and how to play the game.
This is a big week for games played on grass. Besides The Masters teeing off - beginning the golf season for most of the rest of us, too - the baseball season has begun, people are out playing tennis, even Easter egg hunts depend on green lawns and warm weather. However, almost every part of the country is still recovering from an unusually cold, wet winter. As a result, you should be prepared for less than ideal conditions when playing your favorite golf course over the next few weeks.