Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

A Cinderella Golf Story

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I’m on vacation this week, so I’m purposely trying to stay away from the computer (and anything else with a keyboard for that matter).

The practice range at Austin’s Academy of Golf Dynamics, where Turbo spent last weekend blistering his hands and starting to undo 30 years of very bad golf habits.

However, I figured I should keep my writing chops up with at least a post or two, so long as it’s recreation or vacation-related, which this post is.

So here’s the question: Have you ever done something for 30-something years, only to discover that you’ve been doing it all wrong?

Well, that’s precisely what I learned this past weekend in the aforementioned golf school I had mentioned in a prior post, and though I’ve been doing it all wrong, I’m so glad I was finally made aware of this fact.

You see, for me, and my father, golf is kind of like a religion.  If you read the blog regularly, you know I’m a golf fanatic.

I grew up playing, even played on the golf team in junior high and high school, but honestly have never been that great.  My handicap in recent times has hovered around a 12-13, and even at that I very much enjoy the game.

But I also knew that I had ceilinged out, and I believed I was capable of doing much better.

So after attending the Academy of Golf Dynamics here in Lakeway just outside of Austin over a three day weekend, I worked to start unlearning thirty years of bad habits, and I have the blisters, and sore muscles, to show for it.

But man, what a blast…and that includes the bunkers!

The Academy says on its Web site FAQs that Golf Magazine has rated it as “one of the top 25 golf schools in the country,” and Money Magazine says “that they are one of the very best in value.”

I can only say this: Old habits die hard, and I’m going to be spending a lot of time over the next year trying to undo these past 30 years…but the Academy was a very well-structured, rigorous, yet palatable method by which to start undoing them, and I can honestly say I highly recommend it for anyone who’s serious about wanting to improve their game.

The Structure

I was fortunate, as I was in a class of about 10, with three roving instructors, so the personalized attention I received was substantial.

We started the first day working on pitch shots, not realizing that was the time that gave our instructors all the signals they needed to start analyzing our grips, stances, postures, and swings, so that they could then give each of us the guidance we needed to help our respective games.

For me, it all started with a bad grip, too wide a stance, and an over the top swing, which I was able to start correcting the first day, especially after seeing the before and after on video.

In fact, later that afternoon, I went out and played the Academy’s practice holes and hit some iron approaches and 100 yard wedges that any amateur player would be proud of, shots within 10-20 feet of the hole.

On the par 5 practice hole, utilizing the same swing, I hit a rocket ball 3-wood 230 yards just to the left of the green, a shot that, in my prior swing life, would have easily veered right of the green and possibly into the woods.

This was a great start, and as a reminder, this was all on the first day.

Over the rest of the weekend, we got lots of other instruction: On pitch shots just off the green, on improving our putting game (get more over the ball!), on sand shots (both good and bad lies), on hilly lies (up, down and sideways)…even under trees, an area I’ve tended to specialize in over the years, and so much welcomed the assistance.

Since class ended, I’ve played two full rounds, both well over my normal handicap (I usually shoot in the high 80s, and for those two rounds shot 95, and 99, respectively).

I also fully expected this. Changing 30 years of bad habits doesn’t happen overnight.

In today’s round, my dad and I were playing a Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course in Salado, Texas, and I spent some time racking up some big numbers, much of it on my short game — which any good golfer knows is as much feel as skill. Relearning how to play those short shots with the new grip/stance/etc. is going to take some getting used to.

But the difference maker, at least for me, and the reason I knew what I had learned was starting to stick, was being able to step up to a 200 yard par 3, or up to a 150 yard approach shot, and be reasonably confident that I would likely put the ball on or near the green, and not instead veer off into the wilderness.

And that, my friends, is exactly what I did.

In fact, on the signature 18th hole, a par 3 that must have dropped nearly 100 feet, I was able to club down to an 8 iron to hit what was yardage wise, 185 yards, and strike the most gorgeous, straight line shot you could imagine into a green, and plant it 20 feet just past the hole.  That for a shot that, before the class, would have had me scared into a fetal position off to the side of the teebox, afraid to even hit it.

Of course, then I went on to three putt, so clearly I have much work to do.

But what the Academy of Golf Dynamics three-day workshop gave me, more than anything else, was the tools and self-awareness to understand those things that makes the shot go where it does…or doesn’t.

Yes, the new grip and stance and swing plane are going to take some time to get used to, no question.  When I step up to the ball, it feels kind of like someone who’s quit smoking, but refuses to start again.  It’s uncomfortable, irritating, and thrilling all at the same time.

But my passion for the game has already increased 100 percent, because I now have an understanding of what my body is doing that makes/made the ball do what it does…and that, I have a feeling, is knowledge that’s going to help me improve my game in ways I had never even imagined.

And as any golfer will tell you, what keeps us coming back is when we hit those sweet, precise, elegant shots that send a warm jolt of endorphins streaming through our bloodstream.

I have no doubt moving forward that I’m going to have many, many more of those shots than I used to…I just have to keep working at it.

So, if you’re looking to improve your own game, and are willing to expose yourself to the blisters and humility three days of such abuse requires, you can find out more about Austin’s Academy of Golf Dynamics here.

And tell them Turbo sent you…they might just give me a discounted rate for when I come back next year!

Written by turbotodd

August 22, 2012 at 12:38 am

TurboTech: The Wisconsin Episode

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Every once in a while, developerWorks’ Scott Laningham and I get together via Skype to catch up on the latest in technology.

This week, Scott’s on a remote, cheese-head “workation” somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin.

And despite being surrounded by trees and lakes, he found his way to an Interwebs connection, along with a gasoline generator, so we could do one of our “TurboTech” episodes.

I was afraid one of the rhinos that John Swanson thought he spotted in a separate “This Week on developerWorks” episodes recorded with Scott in the great outdoors might sneak up on Scott while we were mid-recording, but fortunately that didn’t happen.

In this episode, Scott and I opined on social media’s role at the London Olympic games, along with a deep space exploration of the latest Mars rover (“Curiosity”) landing on the Red Planet. We also mentioned several forthcoming IBM events stretching from Orlando to Vegas to Singapore.

Me, I’m just glad Scott’s generator didn’t run out of gas. That would have brought a whole new meaning to the phrase of having another episode “in the can!”

Written by turbotodd

August 15, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Victory…Kind Of

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Well, I’m back from the Watson Bubba team’s participation in the Denton Country Club Member-Guest golf tournament.  My dad was the member, I was the guest.

We fought a valiant fight, especially the first day, whereupon it rained down on us our entire round.

Day 2 (Friday), Bubba Watson Jr. (Me) was prepared to give a clinic the first six holes, shooting 4-4-4-4-4-4.  But as I joked in the 19th hole later on that day, “golf struck” — as in, golf reality — and it was a roller coaster from there on in.

I shot a nice, well-rounded 88 both day 2 and day 3, and Watson Bubba Sr. (My dad) shot in the low 80s.  It was just enough to give us a piece of the pie, whereupon we took third place.

The most important thing was, my dad and I got to spend some quality time together, and I took the luxury of a few days of not working or blogging, really my first all year.

So let me pick up the ball where I left off, so to speak.

From a sports perspective, it was an almost overwhelming weekend to keep track.

Saturday saw the kickoff of the Euro 2012 Soccer Championship, with host country Poland forced to take a 1-1 draw against Greece after both teams lost key players to red cards. Russia crushed the Czech Republic 4-1, Denmark beat the Netherlands 0-1 in a surprise win, and Germany eked out a 1-0 victory over Portugal, although I was certainly expecting more in the first game from the Germans.

Spain and Italy probably fought one of the hardest matches of the weekend, ending up tied 1-1.  On the agenda today are France v. England and Ukraine (another host country) and Sweden. If you’re a soccer fan, crank up that DVR and get those pizza coupons ready, there’s plenty more to come and it lasts three weeks!

The Belmont Stakes saw its 144th running, but without Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, “I’ll Have Another,” who had to retire from racing Friday afternoon due to a tendon injury.  No Triple Crown winner this year, but boy did Union Rags go from rags to riches in that photo finish a neck ahead of Paynter in the Belmont Stakes Saturday afternoon.

On the ice, NHL’s Los Angeles Kings lost more momentum back in the New Jersey Devils home stadium, and now return to the Staples Center tonight in LA looking to finally close the series they lead 3-2.

On the boards, of course, the Miami Heat return to the NBA Championship two years in a row after deflating the Boston Celtics Saturday night, this time in a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, whose league scoring champ Kevin Durant will face off against league MVP LeBron James.

And back on the Links, the FedEx St. Jude’s Classic was being played in Memphis, and Irish golf phenom and U.S. Open defending champion Rory McIlroy was playing beautifully and leading the tournament up until near the very end before Dustin Johnson, who had to dust himself off after being out over two months due to a jet ski injury, made the game look simple and win with a −4 under 66 in the final round.

All this just in time for the 2012 U.S. Open this week at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, which I aspire to blog quite a bit about here over the next week!

Written by turbotodd

June 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Details From The Turbocation: All TurboTech, All The Time

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Greetings from Bonefish Cay in the south Atlantic.  Think Nassau, Bahamas, fly NNW on a prop plane for an hour, land in Marsh Harbour, then take about a 10-minute boat ride.

Turbo is currently on vacation on Bonefish Cay in the Abaco Island chain in the Bahamas. However, despite being on a near-deserted island, he's not without satellite Internet and TV technology, and in terms of NCAA football, the English Premiere League, and Facebook, he's hardly missed a beat.

I’m staying with old friends, and I won’t rub in how remote and islandy this place is.  I came down for a week to visit, do a little scuba diving, maybe play a little golf, and generally speaking, just chill out.

But the winds haven’t exactly been cooperating — it’s been averaging 14-20MPH gusts since I arrived, and the temp has been in the low-to-mid 70s, so despite one trip into the water to search for some conch for dinner, we’ve mostly stayed out of the water.

Speaking of water, the island has to produce its own fresh water, so I got my first ever gander at a desalination system. The primary device is an SK HC 5,000 desalinizer, which produces 5,000 gallons of fresh water from sea water per day.  That averages out to around 210 gallons per hour.

The primary power source here is a Northern Lights 125KW diesel generator, which sends current out to 4 different inverted battery banks, to several houses located here on the island.

The Internet access here is provided by HughesNet, so as not to be completely cut off from the world.  Hey, just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean I completely gave up my ability to communicate with other humans!  And anyhow, how was I going to post all those cool pics on Facebook if I didn’t have some form of Interwebs!

So here’s how this Hughes thing works: You send a request from a Web page that the Hughes satellite dish devices sends to a satellite that’s situated about 22,000 miles up in space.

According to Hughes, at that altitude, the satellite’s period of rotation (24 hours) matches the earth’s, and the satellite always remains in the same spot over the earth. Because Internet via satellite is now so technologically advanced, this distance hardly makes a difference, even with rural Internet connections.

Next, the satellite contacts the Hughes Network Operations Center (NOC), which locates the specific Website you have requested.

Finally, the Website beams the information back along the same path to the NOC, then to the satellite, and then to your computer through the HughesNet dish and modem.

What I’ve discovered is that even though the signal travels a great distance — when’s the last time you travelled 22,000 miles in a millisecond or two — there’s only a fraction of a second delay during the transmission.

Not unlike the delay you may have experienced when you using a cell phone.

And anyhow, you’re on an island, you shouldn’t be surfing the Internet anyhow.  And if you are, you should at least have a glass of rum and coke next to your computer.

Me, I’ve never had to lean on a satellite dish for Internet access for so long, but so far I’m sold…and hey, it beats sitting around talking to a volleyball named Wilson.

If you want to have a quick Walter Mitty moment, check out my takeoff from Nassau airport. This was in a 9 passenger Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander, which has a top speed of 170MPH and a range of 874 miles.

And it’s really, really loud.  Just how I like my prop planes while on vacation.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make sure the Dish network is ready to deliver up the Dallas Cowboys/Arizona Cardinals game.  It’s now windy AND raining on the island — oh thank heaven for high technology.

Written by turbotodd

December 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Off To The Rich Coast

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I’m off to spend a week with mi padre playing golf and running some rapids in Costa Rica.

We arrived at Juan Santamaria aeropuerto last evening and are staying in the “Gringo Gulch” area near downtown San Jose.

I’ve never visited Costa Rica before, so I’m learning as I go.  Some factoids from Wikipedia:

  • Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua to the north (where I haven’t been) and Panama to the east and south (where I have), and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
  • Costa Rica has been ranked as one of the happiest places on earth, and consistenly been among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index
  • Costa Rica is expecting to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021 and is already the “greenest” country in the world.

Economically, Costa Rica has historically centered on coffee, which was first planted here in the early 19th century and first shipped to Europe in 1843.

Bananas later came to rival coffee as the principal Costa Rican export, which were initially shipped primarily back to the U.S.

More recently, turisma (tourism) has become the headliner of the economy here, although high tech is no stranger to Costa Rica: IBM, HP, even Intel, which has a $500+M assembly and test plant here.

So, I’m off to do my part to contribute to the local economy.  If  you don’t hear much from me in the Turbo blog this week, it’s because I’m chasing little white balls through the rainforest.

But, I’ll be back…Well, maybe.

Written by turbotodd

February 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

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Out of the Office

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I’m heading out for a few days’ away from the office.

If you didn’t get to listen in to the IBM Customer Experience Suite announcement earlier today, go check the stream around Twitter hash tag #ibmexperience, or visit the Social Media site for the announcement.

Our esteemed Irving Wladaswky-Berger turned in another stellar performance at the event, held at the IAC building in NYC. Irving eloquently tied the state of today’s Web back to its evolution from e-business and the early commercial Internet, and he put the announcement in just the right context, demonstrating why businesses must capitalize on the confluence of the social and mobile Web to provide for a better customer experience.

Irving, thx for all you continue to do for Big Blue, even in your so-called retirement.  You can read Irving’s background post for the announcement here.

You can also listen to the interview Scott Laningham and I conducted with Scott Neuman, director of global marketing at Lotus, about the IBM Customer Experience Suite.

Me, I’m off to practice a few transactions on a few golf courses in the Austin area for a few days with my padre.

If you really need to reach me, give me an email shout out to todd@turbotodd.com

I’ll only be a short 5-iron away.

Written by turbotodd

September 16, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Posted in golf, vacation

Swimming With Sharks

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It’s Friday.

Which means tomorrow is Saturday, and the start of some holiday time.

I’m hopping a plane down to Nassau, Bahamas, in the morning to visit with an old college friend and his wife, and to do some scuba diving (my first dive trip since last year this time, whereupon I was down in Grand Cayman).

I was last in The Bahamas in December, 2001, stopping off for a day port there with the rest of my family while I was on a cruise.

This time around, I’ll be going a little more native, staying with my friends, and also spending much of the week on the island of Eleuthera.

Eleuthera is an island in The Bahamas that sits about 50 miles east of Nassau.  Here’s a picture:


The population of Eleuthera is around 8,000, and according to Wikipedia, the name of the island is derived from the Greek ελεύθερος , meaning “free.”

Big smile.

While in Nassau, my friends talked me into going on the Stuart Cove "Extreme Shark Adventure,” a series of two dives which will allow us to get up close and personal with some Caribbean Reef Sharks. 

I’m told the sharks will have had their breakfast.  On the second dive, they’ll be feeding them some brunch while the rest of we divers hang on the bottom of the ocean floor at around the 50 foot level. 

We’ll also be engaging in a “free swim” with the sharks along one of the gorgeous Bahamian walls.

I’m very much looking forward to swimming with all the creatures in The Bahamian waters, even as I pray for the great variety of sea creatures in the Gulf of Mexico and an imminent end to the flood of gushing oil.

It looks as though any of my own plans for the Texas Redneck Riviera for this summer will be dashed – I’m just hopeful that those who make their livelihoods off the Gulf (the shrimpers, fishermen, tourist firms, and yes, even the oil workers) are able to get back to work and soon, and that the impact is minimal to to the sea life in the Gulf.

But currently, the situation looks grim.

I’ll likely not be blogging much over the next week, although I may have to make a guest vacation appearance to relate my experience with the sharks. 

Otherwise, I’ll look forward to writing again soon when I’m back on May 24th. 

Until then, feel free to pray for all the Caribbean Reef Sharks near Nassau to have some very full bellies before I arrive on the scene on Sunday!

Written by turbotodd

May 14, 2010 at 9:19 pm

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