Golf-Toons #41 - Astronomical Golf Course Design

The next ‘Space Race’ is well underway with SpaceX and Blue Origin taking on passengers very soon. With multitudes of space tourists venturing out of this world is it unreasonable to think that galactic golf would be soon to follow?

Given the physics of lunar gravity it would require either the longest golf courses in history or the heaviest of golf balls to deal with the challenges of the moon’s environment.

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Much like Sheep Ranch links in Oregon, the design would have to take advantage of the natural elements of the lunar landscape. Instead of shots having to carry water, shots would have to carry craters. Or maybe you turn the craters into the largest bunkers in the universe?

Manufacturers probably have secret lunar golf equipment programs as we speak and real estate developers are ready to unveil golf destinations like Apollo Landings, Lunar Links, or Crescent Moon Country Club.

But the biggest question is will we someday find astronaut Alan Shepard’s Titleist golf ball?

Golf-Toons #40 - Tiny Greens

What is worse, tiny greens or intimidatingly long holes?

Both pose their own issues but for me tiny greens can be maddening. And I have deeper thoughts about postage stamp greens, but I will save that for another Golf-Toon.

Today’s question is, “Do putting greens shrink over the years?”

At our local muni I’ve noticed the greens seem to have shrunk over the years. The aprons get a little bigger and creep closer and closer to the pin. My guess is this is a maintenance issue, though it could also be an economic challenge.

Keeping a public course open that offers reasonable green fees for the average Joe golfer is something I hold near and dear to my wallet. Not all of us can afford to plop down a couple Ben Franklins for round of golf.

And a lot of courses, public, private, and my favorite designation, the “Semi Private” all face economic pressures. A lot of green goes into those greens. So maybe by making them a little smaller they can keep their doors open.

Am I overthinking this?

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Golf-Toons #39 - Depants

Creepy behavior has been a hot topic in the media lately.

Political campaign trails, newsrooms, and Hollywood have all been abuzz with accounts of inappropriate behavior. It’s a public conversation that is long overdue and hopefully we can get it all sorted out before someone proposes a strip Nassau bet to me.

There’s no way my Bermuda short are going south of my equator. There’s simply no a-Biden this. And do not even tell me about the Hollywood version of a Skins game.

The riskiest I get is forgetting to tuck my shirt in.

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Golf-Toons #36 - Equipment Confidential

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If our clubs and balls could talk, what would they say? I bet they could bend your ear with golf yarns that would make you wince. Imagine a conversation going like this:

“…and he blames me for chili dipping a chip and threw me in a pond.”

“Well if you think that’s bad, my owner bent me over his knee and played the last six holes with my shaft curved like a banana. Serves him right that he lost $80 three putting the last 4 holes.”

“At least I got some revenge.” says the 9 iron, “Two nights ago he comes sneaking home at 3 o’clock in the morning, the wife grabbed me out of the bag and creases his skull. I gotta say I got more than a little satisfaction not being on the receiving end for a change.”

“Sweet. Dude! Your my hero!”

Golf-Toons #32 - Novelty Club Head Covers

Sports Therapist are all the rage on the PGA Tour these days, but what do you do if you’re just a weekend hack? What if you can’t afford the expense for a mind probe? Or you just don’t want an entourage.

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Therapists often use dolls or hand puppets for various role playing exercises. This seemed a little strange at first…I mean SEEMS…

Anyway, in many golf bags I see the perfect tool for just such a moment.

And who cares, as long as it lands in the short grass!

Golf-Toons #31 - Yoga Pants

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Is their nothing that golfers won’t try to add a few yards to their drives?

It seems every morning when I check my inbox there a several emails that promise me more length and most of them are golf-related. The subject lines tantalize you with added distance, increased swing speed, and higher launches. They can be cutting-edge technologies, revolutionary design innovations, newly discovered carbon fibre formulas, or never-before told secret insights that will take your drives to the next level.

The other realm of assistance are the home-spun variety that you encounter on the course. These are the one I fall prey to. They can range from the plausible to the absurd. Like the guy who handed me a blue cloth bag and said “Crown Royal cured my slice.” Honestly, it didn’t work for me but if not for the side effects I swear it improved my putting.

Lately I have run into several golfers who claim major benefits from yoga. But I’m a “quick-fix” kind of guy so just give me the pants and let’s see what happens.

Golf-Toons #30 - From your Knees

Golfers call penalties on themselves. An interesting byproduct of this aspect of the game, is that often we have to interpret the rules as situations present themselves. Complications can arise when rules are misinterpreted. A friend of mine thought an unplayable lie was anything in a sand trap.

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Rule 14.3 states when taking relief, the ball must be dropped from knee height. There’s a lot more stuff in rule 14.3 but this knee height thing could be misinterpreted especially by the thick-headed that golf amongst us.

There are no rules officials during a typical Saturday morning match at the local Muni. No Slugger Whites. So be patient and be specific when explaining the new rules to the misinformed.

And so the game continues to give back, often in the form of fodder for the 19th hole.

 

Golf-Toons #29 - In or Out?

It’s but the early days of 2019 and already the new changes to the rules of golf are creating a buzz. The noisiest reaction being the “Leave It In vs. Take It Out” argument. This new rule allows players to leave the flagstick in the hole when putting. It makes sense and should speed play in most instances.

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It seems there are two camps forming. One camp believes leaving the pin in all the time is the best way to go. Called the “In Crowd” they believe the pin helps with alignment and judging distance. And the ball has a better chance of going in, especially on the downhill putts. The physics and field studies seem to be on their side. I saw proof in a YouTube video so it must be true.

The other camp, the “Old Schoolers,” may ignore the option or just bad at remembering new rules. Heck, Phil doesn’t know them yet so cool your jets “In Crowd,” Phil Mickelson is eating lunch at our table. They also feel the pin can be a distraction on shorter putts.

Has it actually sped up play? Probably, but I played a round of golf with both an “In Crowd” and “Old Schooler.” In and out, in and out, in and out, and on to the second hole.

What do you think, in or out?
Are you a member of the “In Crowd” or “Old School” ?

Next week we talk about the 2019 edition of the drop ball for relief rule and the push-back from short golfers.

Golf-Toons #27 - Gender Bender

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Golfers are always looking for an advantage.  And in the shadow of the new rules of 2019, that could be a better drop, a pin left in the hole or some other creative interpretation of these recent decrees. In addition to the mental warfare between shots where dominance can shift.     

You can always find someone stretching or misinterpreting the rules to their favor.  That is part of the game of golf, especially as the combatants, we serve as judge and jury.  Golfers call penalties on themselves, a unique and glorious aspect of golf.   

 Golf is a test of your character.  The ball is stationary, and action begins only when you decide it is time for the swing to start.   

What is personally out of bounds for you?

How far will you go for an advantage? 

Golf-Toons #26 - Interview With a Vampire Golfer

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Imagine playing golf for a few centuries and what it must be like for someone as old as Dracula. From course design, advances in equipment to innumerable rules modifications, he has been through a lot of change.

Although he complains endlessly about finding courses honoring midnight tee times, he does appreciate the improvements in ball technology. “I find the low spin ball has elevated my game dramatically, “ says the Count.

He hasn’t lost much distance due to aging, and improvements in equipment have added at least 75 yards to his drives. Impressive at the age 542. He does confess that it took him 61 years to putt decently.

Since the Count plays during “off hours” he almost never has to suffer playing behind a slow foursome. The last time he got caught behind a dallying group, the entire foursome mysteriously vanished somewhere between the 5th green and the 6th tee box at the Transylvania Golf and Country Club (the Hades course.)

His favorite golf gambling game is a version of skins he calls “First Blood.” The one variation being that when a tie occurs (also known as “no blood”) you can contest the tie in a “longest off the tee” on the next hole. If the next hole is a par three, closest to the pin is used and is referred to as a “bloody hell.”

Dracula also thinks some of the new rule changes for 2019 are long overdue. “Back in the day, we used to leave the flag in the hole all the time. Especially when you’re playing in twosomes, it just makes sense and speeds up play. Last thing I want to risk is getting to the 18th hole as the sun rises.”

Golf-Toons #25 - Anything Smaller?

We have all played with him.  The guy with his shadow in your line, or with the practice swing you can see out of the corner of your eye.  Not to mention the jingling pocket change.  They usually set the flag down a little too close to the hole. 

 Moving a ball mark may be the easiest distraction to avoid. The rules of golf offer refuge, allowing the mark to be moved such that your putt line will not be affected.  Unless you miss-putt and hit the ball mark anyway. 

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We love the old black-and-white footage when marks were not permitted and you could “stymie” or leave a ball in the way as part of the game.  Mashies or wedges were used to jump over a blocking ball.  The films always show the successful shot.

What about the sculled attempts, or the divots taken near the hole?  We never see that footage, but using ball marks is a much better play.  

Until some joker takes out a manhole cover or Vegas chip he has been somehow carrying all day, and marks it in your line.  Move it, friend 2 to the left!

Golf-Toons #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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Golf-Toons #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!

Golf-Toons #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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Golf-Toons #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. 

Golf-Toons #8 - Swing Thoughts

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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.

Golf-Toons #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.

Golf-Toons #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.