Golfing For Gold
To my fellow lovers of the links: All this London Olympics fervor has been slowly sinking in, and as I watched Jim Furyk hand Keegan Bradley the keys to the WGC-Bridgestone kingdom on the 18th green this past Sunday, it reached a fever pitch: Golf is coming back to the Olympics.
A brief bit of history is in order: The last time golf was featured in a Summer Olympic Games, Henry Ford’s Model T had not yet come off a production line.
Yes, it’s been that long. 1904, in fact.
Canada’s George Lyon was the last Olympian male to take a gold medal in golf.
When golf returns to the Summer Olympics in 2016 in Rio after a 112 year hiatus, it will be a much welcomed return for golf fans around the globe.
The International Golf Federation (IGF), which is the governing body overseeing golf’s return to the Olympics, proposed a 72-hole stroke play tournament for both the men and womens’ events in 2016, with a 3-hole playoff in the event of a tie.
Eligibility for the tournament would be determined by IGF rankings, with the top 15 players being eligible regardless of country, and then the next 45 players representing countries that didn’t already have two representatives.
And if you’re curious as to the designer, and designer, for the Rio Olympics course, check out this article on 48 year-old golf architect Gil Hanse, a “traditionalist” course designer known for his work at TPC Boston and Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland.
As to the FedExCup Standings thus far, after Bridgestone, Tiger Woods is still in the lead. The next several behind him include Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan, and Bubba Watson, all of whom are pretty much neck in neck. Bradley jumped up to 7th place after his victory.
This week’s PGA Championship at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, has some big stakes — and I don’t just mean the PGA Championship trophy.
The Ryder Cup is just around the corner in Medinah, and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III will not only be playing the PGA — he’ll be scouting his captain’s picks.
PGATour.Com has Phil Mickelson “on the bubble,” and explains players like Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, and Hunter Mahan will be right on his tail.
The PGA Championship is the season’s last official major, but with the Ryder Cup looming ahead, there’s still plenty of great golf to be enjoyed before football season takes over (and baseball winds into the playoffs).
As for my own game, I have to admit, the Taylor Made Rocketballz driver I recently bought has been a godsend.
I played a course in Frisco, Texas, this past weekend that required some serious needle threading off the tee box. Normally, I would be paranoid about such tight drives, and would panic hit them left, right…everywhere but center.
But with a minor swing adjustment where I keep my elbows closer to my body through my swing, I hit 13 out of 14 fairways this weekend (Note: I didn’t have to use my driver on the par 3s, thankfully 🙂 ), with most going straight and long…I’d say an average of 15-25 yards longer than normal.
Straight and long, the most beautiful phrase in golf.
However, I’ve plateaued in my mid-iron game, and could also use some help around the greens, so I’ve decided to take a golf school vacation.
I’ve been thinking about it for years, but it’s time to commit. The Academy of Golf Dynamics is located right here in Austin, and despite the 100+ heat, I’m hopeful the three-day course will help me work out those few kinks that are really keeping me from consistently lowering my score.
Their Web literature indicates that most players who follow their guidance and do the follow-up work achieve a 25% reduction in their handicap. I spoke with one of the instructors there on the phone, and he explained the summer workshops don’t quite fill up as much as the spring, so if I’m willing to beat the Texas heat, I’ll get more than my fair share of personal instruction.
I’m certainly going to give it a try. Golf is something you can never master, but it IS certainly something you can always improve upon. And for those of you who play consistently, you know that improving and hitting those masterful shots you always knew you could hit in your mind is what keeps you coming back for more.
So, I’ll be sure to take some notes in case any of you out there are considering such an investment and let you know how it goes.
Right after the three days of the workshop, my 70 year-old, 10 handicap father (I’m a 13), is coming in to town and we’re going to take a week straight and play some of the best courses in and around Austin to see if my investment in the workshop will have paid off!
Moving forward, I’m also going to try and more consistently use an iPhone app (“Golfshot GPS”) to track my play so that I can better understand precisely where and how I’m losing the most strokes.
Business analytics on the golf course? Hey, whatever it takes.