Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘golf

One For Down Under

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I joked on Facebook last evening that I was going to have to pay a visit to my cardiologist after watching the dramatic finish to this year’s Masters.

Sunday at the Masters has become a timeless classic when it comes to drama, and whether or not you’re an avid golf fan like me, if you sit down and pay just a wee bit of attention, there’s something in it for everyone.

This year, especially, there was plenty in it for all my friends down under in Australia, and so I want to first congratulate them, and their first green jacket winner, Adam Scott. After Scott’s majors breakdown in The Open last year, it was great to see Scott finally reach down within himself and come out the victor.

Not to mention what I can only imagine means a huge deal in sporting Australia, where Aussie golfers like Greg Norman who, though never grabbing their own green jacket, inspired a whole generation of young and brilliant golfers like Jason Day and Adam Scott.

As it turned out, there was plenty of drama throughout the weekend. Chinese 14 year-old phenom Guan Tianlang received a one-stroke penalty on Friday for slow play and still went on to win low amateur (we’ll be hearing plenty from Mr. Guan moving forward, I’m sure), and Tiger Woods incurred a two-stroke penalty after an illegal drop on 15 on Friday, after his brilliant approach shot hit the flagstick and bounced backwards into the water.

Give Tiger that birdie and back the two strokes he lost on the bad drop, and yesterday’s outcome might have been very, very different.

But in the end, it was a Masters that more than lived up to its name, and kicks of the year’s golf majors with the kind of compelling golf that simply leaves you wanting more.

Even if it is bad for one’s heart.

Written by turbotodd

April 15, 2013 at 9:12 am

The Masters Leaderboard Is Live!

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This year's Masters iPad application not only nicely mimics the real deal in Augusta...it also has a sort feature where you can look at leaders according to several categories, including "active players," "past champions," "amateur players," and even "first time participants."

This year’s Masters iPad application not only nicely mimics the real deal in Augusta…it also has a sort feature where you can look at leaders according to several categories, including “active players,” “past champions,” “amateur players,” and even “first time participants.”

That’s it, today’s the day.

The first players have already teed off at the Masters in Augusta.

Yesterday, I discussed the virtual means by which you could experience playing at Augusta National.

Today I’m going to focus on the various means by which you can follow this year’s action on and off the course.

First, and most importantly, the leaderboard.

On the Masters web site, for which IBM is the longtime technology sponsor, you can go to the virtual equivalent of the traditional Masters leaderboard.

You can also find the leaderboard on this year’s revamped iPad app, which I’m quickly leaning on as my 19th hole for following all the action from Augusta.

This year it includes live video from a number of the holes, including Amen Corner, 15, 16, as well as two “featured groups,” a Masters “in-depth” feature channel, and for those warm-ups, the driving range, and over the weekend a live simulcast of CBS’ TV coverage.

You’ll be able to access live radio, news features, and pictures from the grounds (including new 360 panoramic images that I suspect will be suitable for framing!).

As for TV coverage itself, that doesn’t start in the U.S. until 3:00 PM EST ESPN. However, live video coverage begins on Amen Corner starting at 10:45 AM on the Website and via the mobile applications, so if you’re hankering to get out to the action, that’s going to be your fastest way in.

This year, IBM is leaning heavily on its SmartCloud technology to help drive quality and continuous operations, along with the flexibility and scalability required by the Masters.

As players peak on the course, we typically see a resultant workload increase in our technology systems.

This helped lead to have the need to provision a new Presentation Services “instance,” for example, in less than 3 minutes using Tivoli Provisioning Manager, as it helps us get new virtual machine instances up and running quickly.

We are also able to move one workload to another on our POWER systems powering the Masters using our Live LPAR mobility in four minutes without service interruption.

Can you say pressure putt???

So as the tournament begins, who will I be keeping a close eye on?

Tiger, for sure.  Phil. Brandt. Rory. Graeme. Garrigus. Schwartzel. Colsaerts. Poulter. Oosthuizen. Guan (the 14 year-old Chinese kid).

It’s just an incredibly talented field, as, of course, it always is.  Length and shot shaping are always helpful at Augusta, especially right to left, but as Zach Johnson proved several years ago, shorter hitters can score (and win) if they play the right angles.

As for me, I went back and played another virtual round at Augusta last night in my Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 and shot 2 under.

There’s hope for me yet.  That means I would currently be tied with Jim Furyk for second place in my Walter Mitty golf fantasy.  But it’s only Thursday…

Written by turbotodd

April 11, 2013 at 9:47 am

Golf’s New Gamification

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Anybody watch that little ol’ college basketball game last night between Louisville and Michigan? 

Whoa.  Talk about saving the best for last.  “The end of the road,” indeed.

Hats off to Louisville to reaching and staying number one, especially after the first half of the final, when I thought Michigan might be running away with the show!

Now that the Final Four is over, I can give my undivided attention to my favorite sport, the game of golf.

For the longest time, golf has been a sport that has exalted in its traditions and basked in its conservatism, technological and otherwise. 

But in order to keep the sport vibrant, everyone from golfing bodies to entrepreneurs are finding new ways of introducing, bolstering, and sharing information about the sport.

Yesterday in Augusta, chairman Billy Payne inaugurated a new “Drive, Chip and Putt Championship” for youngsters ages 7-15, which will hold its first finals at Augusta National just prior to next year’s Masters.

And though we’ve seen remarkable technology evolution with regards to playing equipment on the golf course, I think we’re just getting going in terms of using data and analytics to help the amateur golfer.

I’ve been using a product called “GolfshotGPS” for some time now to help me conduct some basic analysis of my golf game, but let’s face it, having to do data entry on the golf course takes time away from playing and enjoying the scenery.

Enter “GAME GOLF,” an outfit that originated in Galway, Ireland and who are working to bring more sophisticated analytics more easily to the game of golf, and doing so in a way where we mere amateurs will be able to “compete with the likes of PGA veterans like Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood (two pros who have done early prototype development of GAME GOLF’s technology.)

The idea is simple: Using GAME GOLF’s small wireless hub and a set of golf club “tags,” one for each club in a golfer’s bag, GAME will analyze all the critical elements of one’s golf game.  Think of it as having RFID tags on every one of your golf clubs.

GAME records every club used, every swing made, every yard covered in each round, WITHOUT pausing play to enter info into your Android device.

Then, GAME calculates key statistics: Scoring, number of putts, greens in regulation, driving accuracy, and so forth.  

But GAME doesn’t just give YOU, the golfer, data.  Golf is at its essence a competitive sport you play against yourself and others, so GAME will also share your performance with friends on social networks, and also help connect you with other golfers on GAME’s network.

I can tell you from having analyzed my own game with the limited data I’ve had access to, I’ve been able to improve my game (although improving my “mechanics” was where I saw my biggest improvement). 

Golf is an iterative game when it comes to improving, but the smallest of tweeks can have relatively big payoffs (Steve Stricker’s recent putting advice for Tiger Woods, by way of example).

If you know you’re 3 putting 60% of the holes you play…well, I hate to tell you, but you probably ought to head out right now and spend some significant time on the putting green.

But it’s the “fantasy” aspect of GAME that serves up the most intrigue for me. What if Tiger and Brent and Bubba and others also started using GAME during their Tour events, and now suddenly I and my fantasy golf friends could start competing directly with the pros in “virtual” matches.

First, yes, me and my amateur friends, we’d lose, and big time.

But, with the proper handicap adjustments, suddenly we find ourselves on the first tee at Augusta the first Thursday of April with Tiger and Phil, shaking in our boots and hoping we don’t kill someone in the fairway with our first drive.

You can learn more about GAME GOLF in the video below.  There’s currently a crowdsourcing fundraiser that has been extended to April 15th.

It’s too early to tell if this will be a golf GAME changer or not, but I think with golf, more information is always better than less.

GAME GOLF seems to provide just enough new information (without hassle in acquiring it) that has the potential to make me a better golfer, and to make the game that much more fun. 

Who can argue with that?

Written by turbotodd

April 9, 2013 at 9:09 am

Ready For The Masters

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Hello Monday, in my favorite week of the year.

Yes, it’s that time again, Masters Week, where the best golfers come together on a classic golf course down in Augusta to test for the best.

The history, the traditions, and such behind The Masters are all well and good, but for true and rabid golf fans like myself, it’s the actual competitive golf from Thursday through Sunday afternoon that we live and breathe for.  

Though all eyes this week are on Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy’s new Nike clubs seemed to be warming up to him down here in the heart of Texas over the weekend.

Rory shot a 66 yesterday at the Valero Texas Open, catching some much needed momentum heading into Augusta and finishing second at -12, just two strokes back from winner Martin Laird.

If I were a handicapping man, I’d also be on the lookout this week for the likes of Brant Snedeker, whose hot putter will likely find lots of love at Augusta National; Freddie Jacobson, whose painter’s cap could very well point him in the right directions on Augusta’s undulating nightmare greens; Nicolas Colsaerts, the “Belgium Bomber” playing his first Masters, still one of the best putters in the world; Matt Kuchar, whose victory at WGC-Accenture showed he can hold up under the pressure and take it into the homestretch.

And let’s not forget last year’s winner, Bubba Watson, who might just be up for a repeat.

It’s a difficult tournament to handicap, which is what makes it so interesting to watch.

Speaking of golf, it’s a crazy game.  I went out and played twice this weekend…on Saturday, I made three birdies and still shot a 90 (but I also had a 10 on one hole, where I had a Kevin Na-like moment as I tried to hack my way out of some woods).

On Sunday, I rediscovered my swing (especially for my driver), hitting a 350-yard drive on one par 4, and overshooting a 290-yard par 4 with a 3-wood (the wind was VERY much at my back on both holes).  Both just gorgeous shots that I couldn’t believe came off of MY club.

I shot an 81, my low for the calendar year, and it was night and day, like I’d been playing two different games from Saturday to Sunday.

Then again, that’s golf!

Written by turbotodd

April 8, 2013 at 9:00 am

Me, Frank, Dean, Sammy and Tiger

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Turbo was caught unawares at the TechTarget Online ROI Summit in downtown Austin yesterday. Among the devices identified there on the table: A Verizon Mi-Fi hotspot, Turbo's Verizon LG feature phone, a 5th gen iPod Touch, a "Blu" phone (quadband, works on GSM networks around the world, and serves as the Turbo "bat" phone), an HTC Wildfire Android tablet, and Turbo's newfangled Samsung Chromebook, which is looking like a bargain at the price ($216) compared to the new Google Chromebook Pixel ($1,300!)

Turbo was caught unawares at the TechTarget Online ROI Summit in downtown Austin yesterday as colleagues took a photo of him in “mobile warrior” mode. Among his electronic devices identified on the table: A Verizon Mi-Fi hotspot, Turbo’s Verizon LG feature phone, a 5th gen Apple iPod Touch, a “Blu” phone (quadband, works on GSM networks around the world, serves as the Turbo “bat” phone and FM radio), a Plantronics Pro HD bluetooth headset, an HTC Wildfire Android tablet, and Turbo’s newfangled Samsung Chromebook, which is looking like a bargain at the price ($216) compared to the new Google Chromebook Pixel ($1,300!)

All these people in Barcelona attending Mobile World Congress, and seemingly so little news coming out of there.

For me, the key headline was the Nokia 105 which, while yawned at by most westerners, has the potential to be the downmarket phone king as Nokia moves more aggressively into emerging markets.

It’s a $20 phone that offers the basics, including phone calls, SMS, an FM-radio and a flashlight. And, 35 days of standby with 12.5 hours of talk time.

If it were a quad band GSM phone, I’d have it on my short list for second phones.

The other big news was IBM’s MobileFirst strategy, which, while not nearly as sexy as yet another yawnifying tablet device, does provide some grown-up guidance and direction for companies actually trying to pull together something resembling a unified mobile strategy.

Here’s what IBM’s Robert Leblanc, IBM vice president, middleware, had to say about the IBM MobileFirst initiative:

“To date, mobile computing has been dominated by discussions of new smartphones, operating systems, games and apps. But enterprises have yet to tap into the potential of mobile business. Just as the Internet transformed the way we bank, book vacations and manage our healthcare, mobile computing is also transforming industries. As these devices become ingrained in everything that we do, businesses are now in the palms of their customers’ hands. IBM MobileFirst is designed to make the transformation to becoming a mobile enterprise a reality.”

Visit here to learn more about IBM’s MobileFirst initiative, and go here to watch the IBM Mobile webcast that took place in Barcelona yesterday.

As for me, I’m packing up my mobile devices and taking them on the road.

In fact, I packed them up and took them to the TechTarget Online ROI Summit here in downtown Austin yesterday, and my colleagues thought it was worthy of a Facebook photo.

To which I explained, “I was traveling light!” (See the photo caption for an explanation of what’s what.)

Where am I off to, you ask? To Vegas, of course. My second home! IBM Pulse 2013 kicks off on Sunday, and I’m heading out early manana to take in a little golf history lesson.

That is to say, I have a 2:30 tee time at Las Vegas National, the very same course where Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event back in 1996, and where Dean and Frank and Sammy and the rest of the Rat Pack used to hang out and swill martinis after a long hard-fought 18 holes.

I’d like to tell you I’m playing there because of all this history and Tiger lore, but the fact is the old Scotsman from GolfNow gave me a very aggressively priced tee time, which no other courses were offering!

After that, however, it’s all work, and I’m looking forward to interviewing a number of IBM Tivoli luminaries for the IBM Pulse Livestream channel, including some of our business partners, analysts, and the man himself, Deepak Advani, the general manager of IBM Tivoli.

I want to also remind you of Pulse on Vivastream, where you can go do some preliminary social networking. Also check out the killer feature there in the right hand column of the main page, the “DIY Videos” where you can get some early previews of Pulse session speakers. Kil-ler.

In fact, let me do this: Below is my list of “Everything You Ever Needed To Know About IBM Pulse 2013 But Were Afraid to Ask Turbo”:

  • Hashtag: #ibmpulse — all roads lead back to Twitter. Twitter is all-seeing and all-knowing at Pulse 2013.
  • Vivastream at Pulse — How you can maintain your crazy Pulse schedule, find your long, lost systems admin buddy…orrr, that really cute girl whose lip you accidentally bused in that crazy, countrified Carrie Underwood mosh pit.
  • IBM Pulse 2013 Conference Site — If you’re lost at IBM Pulse…or even if you’re not…this is always a good place to start. You can also use this page to find the video interviews I’ll start conducting on Monday.
  • IBM Pulse Smart Site (Registered attendees only) — The official keeper of your IBM Pulse calendar.
  • IBM Pulse On Facebook — Because we recognize there are people like me who spend way too much time on Facebook, and if you want to get their attention…

And now I want to pass you on to my good friend Rebecca’s Top Things You Shouldn’t Miss at Pulse 2013 — it does not include a round with Turbo at Las Vegas National, but other than that, it’s a great list.

Meanwhile, keep an eye for me on Saturday.  I’ll be the one driving down the Las Vegas Strip looking for errant drives.

It’s Snowing In Tucson

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Okay, golf fans, the Accenture Match Play tournament has finally moved from being one big snowball fight in the parking lot to an actual competitive golf tournament.

I had turned on the TV late yesterday afternoon to check in on the supposed first day’s play that I had recorded on the DVR, only to discover that play was slowed to a halt by a snowstorm…in Tucson. In the desert.

I’m not making this up.

For you golf novices, match play in golf is very different than the traditional stroke play you see on your typical weekend golf tournament.

In match play, think about how the 64 brackets in the NCAA basketball tournament break down, and you’ve got the gist of it.

For the Accenture, sixty four players are grouped into four super brackets, and in each, one player faces off another player in the first round.

Whoever wins the most holes out of the 18, wins that match and, like in college basketball, moves on to the next round.

It’s also an entirely different kind of golf strategy. When your opponent makes a mistake, you work to seize on that mistake by not screwing up yourself, so each match can be akin to watching a dance — the only question is, who will step on who’s golf shoes?

In the finishing of round one that just got underway mid-afternoon Tucson time, there have been a few surprises.

South African Charles Schwartzel, a favorite going in, lost 1 up to rookie Russell Henley.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia almost gave away a commanding lead to Thai golfer Thongchai Jaidee (who, by the way, saw his first snow ever yesterday…also in Tucson!), and they battled it out into extra holes until Garcia took the match 1 up.

Our favorite European Ryder Cup nemesis, evil-eyed Ian Poulter, stepped away from his Twitter account long enough to take out Stephen Gallacher 2-1.

But the matches much of the golf world are holding their breath for are those featuring Tiger Woods v. Charles Howell III, and world ranked number one, Rory McIlroy, matched against fellow Irishman Shane Lowry.

The big question on my mind: Has McIlroy adjusted yet to those new $90 million Nike golf clubs? Rumor was going into the tournament, he had already switched back to his faithful Scotty Cameron putter, but then I’d read Nike had added some weights to his custom “Method” putter so he’d switched back to all Nike, all the time.

Switching clubs is not always a seamless transition, as I recently discovered, and I don’t depend on my clubs to make a living. McIlroy’s first three holes today would suggest they’re good enough (he was 1 up after 3 last I checked).

Tiger…well, Tiger’s just been on, and he probably also just beat the leader of the free world by a good 20 strokes last weekend (President Obama), so his confidence is probably high.

Could it all come down to Woods v. McIlroy in the championship match on Sunday (or, Monday, assuming the snow delay pushes out the finish)?

Methinks the golfing gods won’t be THAT generous to we fans, but I’m certainly willing to send that energy into the universe to try and make it so. CBS will never have seen golf ratings so high so early in a golf season.

Written by turbotodd

February 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Golf Gate

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Listen up, I’m not going to get all bent out of shape over what we’re apparently now referring to as “Golfgate.”

The background: President Obama hopped a plane (actually, Air Force One, but “hopping a plane” makes it sound a lot more casual, which is what I think he was intending, a casual weekend where he could chill out away from the limelight) down to Florida for a long weekend of golf while Michelle and the kids went out west to go skiing.

The President’s team kept the press away from what was essentially a private golf course, and hence were unable to take any pictures of his swing the entire weekend.

Then, out of nowhere, Golf Channel correspondent Tim Rosaforte Tweets the following: “The President is arriving at The Floridian range. Awaiting is Tiger Woods and club owner Jim Crane. Historic day in golf. Their first round.”

Tiger Woods was in the house, and he was going to play golf with President Obama!

I’m sure the rest of the world yawned, but in the world of golf, this was a pretty big deal.

Looking at the tick tock, this was 7:52 AM EST.

By the time the evening news rolled around, the media were trying to make it a big deal that they hadn’t been invited to the Tiger/Obama foursome, missing the point that that would have turned the foursome into an eightysome, which can be quite disturbing on the golf course.

And still most of the rest of the country yawned.

But in the golf world, we wanted more details.  Lots of them.  Rosaforte, get your — out on that golf course and tell us what’s going on!

What kind of clubs does the president play with? Did Tiger give any tips to the Prez to improve his game?  If so, what???  Did he treat the rules with some casualness, as apparently did President Clinton, or did he play it straight and take no mulligans or without kicking any balls out of the rough?

This is the leader of the free world, man, we want to know what his game is like, how he swings the club, how accurate he is on the approach!

Tiger kept his lips sealed until yesterday when, I guess, he’d already arrived out west for the Accenture Match Play Championship. During an interview, he finally gave it up: The President, he said, has a good short game (chipping and putting), and that if he kept it up (after he left the Presidency) he’d be “a pretty good stick.”

Whoa…well, a good short game, that’s always a good thing, of course.  I aspire to a better short game myself, and many of we amateurs do.

But Tiger left out sooo much one can’t help but be distracted by the absence of any commentary about the President’s driving off the tee or his play from the fairways.

Is he long off the tee? Is he a complete disaster with some crazy left hook? What??! And what about his irons? Mid-irons can tell you a lot about one’s game? Both about their ball flight and tolerance for risk, never mind their course management skills.   Course management equals strategy equals possible insight into what he might do about Iran’s nuclear situation!

And what about the pace of play?  Does he time himself racing around the course like the former Presidents Bush, playing as if on deadline (which I could never understand…isn’t it kind of the point in playing golf to take your time and relax???), or did he play at a pace such that he might get threatened by Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem for hovering too long over his putts??

Nothing.

I suspect Tiger may be holding out more of the details because someday, after finishing the chase after Nicklaus’ record for the most majors, he is going to write a book about his experience playing golf with “Mr. President.”

I guess we’ll just have to hurry up and wait — kind of like the White House press corps.

Written by turbotodd

February 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

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