GolfToons 14 - Putting Emotions

On the 18th green at the 2018 Evian Championship, Angela Stanford struck a beautiful putt that curled around the cup. “The best possible putt she could have hit without it going in” said one of the announcers.

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Stanford needed the putt for a share of the lead.  She took two steps away from the hole, went into a crouch and then held her head in her hands for a moment, rebounded to a single hand covering her mouth, then quickly tapped in her par.  Angela Stanford went on to win her first major championship at the age of 40, but she demonstrated some of the contortions we make on the putting green during and after we putt. 

The last group in this tournament had three players with opportunities to tie Stanford and as each one watched their putts fail to find the cup, they exhibited additional variations of “putting emotions” poses.

First, Mo Martin with a putter swing, left leg step-out and back into a knuckle bite.   Then Sei Young Kim with a frozen body, head nod and then a deep exhale.

Finally, Amy Olson with heavy blink, a putter slap and then a glance to the heavens.  Great golf with a dramatic finish. 

We all contribute a little twist or stretch to help our putts.  A little something to slow down or speed up, or some other form of encouragement to get the ball closer to the hole.  Impossible to practice, this is an indication of who the putter really is, and like the lines on your palm or snowflakes, no two are alike.

We will save the Tiger fist-pumps or the 1 legged, ripped-sleeve Payne Stewart rain-pose for another Golf-Toon.  Congratulations Angela!

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GolfToons 13 - Hit it and Hope

Every now and then you face a putt that beckons words like intimidating or unnerving. The down hill left to right slider. The up-hiller that crests midway, then accelerates to a killer downhiller. Or the dreaded short but hard-breaker, also known as the heartbreaker because anytime you miss a two footer it breaks your heart.

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At times like these you wish you had a caddie. But for most golfers we must forge alone. The one exception: Asking a playing partner in a team game for advice. Usually the advice is couched with something like: “...but I could be wrong”, “then again the grain might effect the break” or some other disclaimer. 

Just make your read, do your pre-putt routine and smoothly strike the ball. Hope you avoid the dreaded knee knocking come-backer.  Hope it finishes inside your comfort zone or better yet a tap-in.  

So just “Hit it and Hope”.

GolfToons 12 - Golf Mom

We can all envision the iconic 'Soccer Mom' and the minivan she drives hauling kids to countless practices, games and tournaments.  But what about the 'Golf Mom'?  

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The lesser known cousin that drives kids to the practice range, buys equipment, arranges lessons and pays for rounds of golf. Or the woman walking the course, cheering loudly during matches and picking up the vanquished when they stumbled in pursuit of their dreams.

One of the many beautiful parts golf is how often we see young professionals and junior golfers, when handed a trophy, take that moment to thank their moms. There is something inherent in the game that seems to instill core values and appreciation for those that helped to foster a love for golf. Pass this gift to the next generation, please.

Now is it crazy to think the pivotal figure in growing the game we all love might just be the tired and stressed out 'Golf Mom' in the van in front of you at the traffic light? No, not crazy at all. Thanks Mom!

GolfToons 11 - Golf Gnome

This is the flip side to our "In the Hole A-hole" - the "Not In the Hole."  You know, those dastardly putts that are on the perfect line, heading right at the hole, but comes up just short. The ball literally hangs on the lip of the cup. Perilously dangling on the edge of a cliff.

Give it a couple seconds! It will fall. It must! The PGA allows 10 seconds. You give it 11 but alas you swat the ball into the cup in disgust. 

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What kept the ball from falling in the hole?  It could be gravity or some other law of physics. The blame certainly can't be yours.

Something nefarious is afoot. Maybe a case of cursed luck? A rogue wind? Or maybe, just maybe, those "little people" the Irish speak of: goblins, fairies and elves. Surely you heard a tiny little laugh emanating from the hole. Chuckling at your misfortune. Denying you your lucky charms.

We like to call it the "Golf Gnome" and our hope is he is somewhere else when our next 30-footer is tracking!

GolfToons 10 - The "In the Hole" A-hole

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You know the guy. The a-hole standing in the gallery who yells " In the hole! " at the tournaments. It doesn't matter if it's a drive on a 660 yard par five or if the player is hitting a ball sideways just to get it into the fairway, this guy is going to yell, " In the hole! "

But just who is this dude? I have a hunch that he must be using this refrain throughout his life and daily going-ons. 

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GolfToons 9 - Got it

Golf is truly a journey in pursuit of excellence. The struggle this pursuit poses drives us to seek remedies from a multitude of sources. We click on emails saying “Add 20 yards to your drive” or “never chunk a chip again” or “take 5 strokes off with this simple technique.”  

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Golfers seemingly will spend whatever it takes, whether money or time or both, to find the cure of what ails their game. And armed with this new solution we head to the course brimming with confidence. Ready to unleash the new club or put to use the innovative technique you read about in a magazine. And sometimes they work. 

But maybe more indicative of a real golfer is when the new thing fails and we continue our pursuit of excellence. Who knows, maybe that article you read was right. 

GolfToons 8 - Swing Thoughts

Wiser minds tell us to, "Quiet your mind and try not to think when swinging the club." Or they tell you "It's best to have a single swing-thought for your entire round." But when you are playing, it is difficult to shut out all the things you think you need to do to execute a proper swing. Especially if you are doing so many things incorrectly. 

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And while thinking of something totally unrelated to golf might keep the golf swing demons at bay for a while, it might produce unexpected results if your "single thought" is a favorite meal and your full by the third hole. 

Maybe the old golf axiom "Play it as it lies" should be re-imagined as "Lie when you play."
So, just tell yourself your swing is o.k. even if it's not, and just swing.

GolfToons 7 - Uncle of Camilo Villegas

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Of all the facets of the game, putting may be the most mystifying and varied. Putter designs are myriad. Grips range from the popular reverse overlap to the ominous sounding cross-handed reverse claw. 

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But the most baffling aspect of putting is reading greens. The conversations about a putt can invoke speed, roll, incline, grain, turf varieties, wind, temperature, and moisture. We seek knowledge from offhand remarks like “did you see the break at the end of that putt?” Sizing up a putt sparks a host of questions. 

My question is: “Who taught Camilo how to read greens?”

The answer is probably an entire community of people met on his golf journey. And may have included a crafty old uncle and a pilates instructor. So maybe take a moment to remember who you learned the game from, who taught you.  And thank them.

GolfToons 5 - Tree Shot

We golfers take ourselves seriously and believe anything is possible.  Why take a penalty stroke if you can get your club back and might be able to hit your ball to the fairway or maybe even onto the green?  Remember those miraculous shots Ken Venturi showed us to save strokes?  Why not give it a try?

With a little dash of optimism and the mentality of "if you can see the green, you can hit the green" you just might be able to pull off a 'miracle shot' of your own.   

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And then there is the concept of "Risk / Reward".  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  "I'll just take a club and climb up there to see for myself".  You can always count on your golf buddies to offer some encouragement and help you focus on the “reward" and forget the “risk”.  Just the push you need to give it a go, though these type of shots used to be easier when metal spikes were allowed.  

All your mates really want is to see good theater or at least some bit of entertainment. After all the "Risk / Reward” for them is zero risk and the reward might be priceless.  They might witness your 'miracle shot' or have a good laugh at your expense.

Every shot is serious business.  And if you do manage to pull off the shot….Hallelujah!  Faith renewed!  Anything is possible.

GolfToons 4 - Plumb bob from 182 yards out

If it’s good for the pros it’s got to be good for my game.  How many times have you told that to yourself? 

And does anyone really know how to Plumb-Bob?  Regardless of how many articles you read in Golf Magazines, plumb-bobbing putts is considered one of the dark arts by many.  It could be a big joke played on golfers by tennis players to make us look ridiculous.

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There is nothing worse than slow play, especially when you are being held up by a decent golfer playing a casual Saturday morning round with friends as if its Sunday afternoon at Augusta.

Learn from the Pros on TV, bring the same intensity but leave the plumb-bobbing for the practice green or at least when no one is waiting.