Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Does Dinah Shore week help keep LPGA Kraft Nabisco alive?

Two of the largest party-driven events are converging in Palm Springs this week, the Kraft Nabisco Championship and The Dinah Shore Week, bringing women together for golf and a frolicking good time! Both are successful events but is it the legacy of golf or poolside hijinks which creates the hullabaloo?


It is unclear which will be the bigger event and which will fuel the other. Celebrities like Johnny Bench, John O'Hurley, William Devane and Alice Cooper bring crowds and glamour to the Kraft Nabisco, an event formerly promoted by Dinah Shore, a tireless supporter and honorary member of the LPGA Hall of Fame.

On the flip side, this first LPGA major of the year gains another distinction which probably helps it stay in the public eye, which is a good thing. Each year, right down the road in Palm Springs, the most popular lesbian party of the year takes place: Palm Springs Women's Weekend a.k.a. "Dinah Shore Weekend", which brings in a host of celebrities of its own.

The weather will be hot and sunny which means wet and wild pool/cocktail parties and hot entertainment including Natasha Beddingfield, Paula Poundstone, Estelle and Jessie and Wynter Gordon.

Certainly, the legendary LPGA Kraft Nabisco could easily survive on its own, without any help from the ladies party down the road couldn't it?

In its 40th year at Mission Hills, this has never been a "stodgy" event and is often compared to the Bob Hope Classic: celebs and pro golfers mingle with the crowds creating a carnival-like atmosphere right down to the traditional jump in the lake at the 18th hole, first begun by Amy Alcott. But, where are the crowds coming from?

Although I mentioned that this major could "easily" survive, Kraft Nabisco has implemented changes to its event from Legends Club access to more easily accessible merchandise tents. Larry Bohannan stated, "With Kraft not spending as much money on the corporate hospitality end of the tournament, local tournament officials have shifted the event to a community-based charity tournament. Those changes have required the event to modify even the way the event presents itself to the public.

Cause for concern? A loss of sponsors has downsized the LPGA Tour event schedule by twelve events (to 23 non-majors) since 2007. Ginn Resorts, Anheuser Busch, State Farm and Corning are just a few companies that have stepped away from sponsoring events.

Golf Digest states that, "Beginning with the LPGA Championship in late June, three of the next four tournaments are majors. From when the U.S. Women's Open ends July 10th to when the Safeway Classic begins August 18th, there are no events in the United States."

Does the lack of U.S. events mean that the LPGA should go global? The LPGA becoming a global Tour certainly has it's benefits especially with the onslaught of Korean and Japanese golfers within its ranks but then what becomes of the KLPGA for example? Does it become a "Futures Tour" for younger, more inexperienced golfers to hone their skills?

Perhaps merging a few of these Tours might make the ladies stronger. Instead of competing for dollars, join forces, make the purses bigger and cross-promote the tournaments to coincide with other festivities to bring more people to the gate who may not have even thought of watching a golf event.

Dyanne Ferk, Dean of the Business College at the University of Illinois Springfield said, "Businesses look at every penny going out and want to know the ROI." She continued, "there's more competition for a limited pot of money for advertising, philanthropy and nonprofit things."
Bringing together the Kraft Nabisco and the Dinah Shore women's party weekend as 'comrades in arms', going beyond the scope of golf, is a method that other LPGA events should adopt if the Organization is to survive and thrive.

Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter

Read more Golf for Beginners blogs!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Golf opportunity of Olympic proportions

The LPGA is preparing for the most-important unofficial, small-field, two-round golf tournament anywhere in the world. The HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup is just one ingredient in the recipe that can make the sport’s return to the Olympics a success. Tim Maitland reports.

Rio Olympics 2016

A 27-player, two-day tournament is not normally associated with the start of something big in the wide world of golf, but the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup could be the veritable small acorn from which a giant oak tree grows.

Prize money of just US $720,000 might not seem much, but the event is the closest thing to a fully-fledged global tournament in the nation that will provide the stage for golf’s re-entry into the Olympics in 2016. As America’s leading female golfer Cristie Kerr put it when she committed to making her first trip into South America, the Olympics is “the biggest single opportunity that women’s golf has ever had.”

Kerr really didn’t need to add “women”; golf itself has never had such a great opportunity, but to make the most of it the sport has to realise what the opportunity is and how its own strengths and weaknesses may impact on its ability to capitalise.

“I would have thought [the Olympics was] about ‘how would you feel about four days in Brazil?’ It has nothing to do with four days in Brazil, and it has everything to do with four years pre-Brazil!” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan says, capturing the Olympic opportunity in a nutshell.

Perhaps because, unlike almost any other sport, the players effectively “own” most of the biggest events around the world, the focus has initially been on what the Olympic tournament itself might be like and what impact that might have.

Europe’s top-ranked woman golfer Suzann Pettersen was part of golf’s final presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Copenhagen when her sport won the vote to get back into the Olympic movement in October 2009. She’s maintained her commitment to the cause by joining Kerr as one of the highest-ranked players ever to tee it up at Rio’s Itanhanga Golf Club.

Her exclamation that “we’re on a mission!”, translated rather pleasingly into Portuguese as “temos uma missao!", summed things up quite nicely, but naturally enough, her prime focus is on her part of the business; putting on a show in 2016.

“I think it’s important to get everybody on board: all the players need to be on board. I think you have 90 per cent – the majority – with you. You need the last ten percent going in the right direction, so we’ll get the best golfers competing in 2016. I think the concept is there. What else can you ask for?” enquires Pettersen, or Tutta, as she’s affectionately known in Norway.

“Competing in the Olympics, you have the sportsmanship, the values, the ethics; there’s nothing better in sport. For me it’s a dream come true. I grew up in Norway and it’s always been the biggest thing for me, to take part and compete will be fantastic.”

Next Stop Rio

From the viewpoint of a player who will be at or near her peak in five years’ time, Pettersen is correct: getting the golf tournament right at Rio 2016 is essential. Like their fellow newcomers Rugby Sevens, the sport is back in the Olympics for two games, but has only one chance to prove its worth to the Olympic movement before the IOC convenes to decide whether or not to retain either sport or to vote them “off the island”.

One chance is hard enough to take; harder still when you’re asked to do it in a nation and a region that is not a stronghold for either sport.

The current status of tournament golf in Brazil is a far cry from the 70s or 80s when Gary Player, Ray Floyd, Jerry Pate and Hale Irwin had their names etched on the Aberto do Brasil or Brazil Open trophy. It’s not even quite up to the level of 2000, when the celebrations of Pedro Alvaras Cabral’s “discovery” of the country in 1500 led the European Tour to include the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open and Brazil Sao Paolo 500 Years Open in successive weeks on their schedule.  

(Trivia fans might like to note that Padraig Harrington finished runner-up to England’s Roger Chapman in the former – at the same Itanhanga Golf Club – and won the latter ahead of America’s Gerry Norquist, who would become a fixture and eventually a senior vice-president on the Asian Tour. Completists would need to note that the Sao Paulo event survived a further year and to memorise Darren Fichardt).

 The Aberto do Brasil, now also sponsored by the world’s local bank, remains the country’s most prestigious men’s tournament, with the 57th edition in December 2010 won by Paraguay’s Marco Ruiz.

Additionally Brazil hasn’t featured as a venue for the Tour de las Americas in recent years and their players appear only slightly more frequently in the regional tour’s tournaments.

That there is a shortage of opportunities for Brazil’s professionals can be inferred from the fact that their names appear sporadically scattered around the world, although in most cases it owes as much to nomadic childhoods or a shared connection with countries with a stronger golf tradition.

In terms of tournament wins, in the professional era Brazil’s greatest triumph might be Jaime Gonzalez winning the European Tour’s 1984 St Mellion Timeshare TPC in Cornwall, but Jaime’s father Mario – winner of the 1947 Spanish Open as an amateur and a two-time Argentine Open champion – is the one frequently described as Brazil’s golfing “great”. Most other notable Brazilian players have those mixed roots.

Angela Park, who has Korean parents but holds dual US and Brazilian citizenship after moving to the States at the age of eight, won the LPGA Rookie of the Year award in 2007, but faded dramatically after her second season. Adilson da Silva, Brazilian born but raised in South Africa, has had a successful career on the Sunshine Tour winning seven times there. Likewise Maria Priscila Iida, a Brazilian-Japanese and a dominant amateur winning both Rio and Sao Paolo city and state titles repeatedly, appeared briefly on the LPGA’s Futures Tour in 2004 and more recently on the Japan LPGA and even the Ladies Asian Golf Tour.

Alexandra Rocha had bounced between the European and Asian Tours before becoming the first Brazilian to earn playing rights on the PGA Tour this year, but he hasn’t yet come close to matching the attention-grabbing performances that could do for Brazilian golf what Jhonattan Vegas’s 2011 Bob Hope Classic win has accomplished for the sport in Venezuela.

Building on the foundations

Even though the numbers of regular golfers in Brazil have grown from 6,000 in 2000 to 25,000 currently, that number seems to have stabilised in the past five years. The number of courses has increased nearly 25% in those 10 years up to 110, but more encouragingly  another 30 are under construction and there is a sea-change to more accessibility. Previously members-only clubs are said to be opening their doors to visitors and there is an increase in the proportion of “semi-public” and daily-fee paying courses.

Still, one could argue, with some justification, that the greatest exposure the sport has enjoyed in recent times was when the national football team chose to base themselves at a golf resort during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. So, golf, and perhaps especially women’s golf, needs to make the most of the toehold they have.

“Exactly right! We’d like to, from an early stage, showcase golf to that market,” Whan declares.

“At the same time we’d like to showcase that golf course, that city, that environment to the golfing population before we get there in 2016. One of the things we’d like to do, if we can figure out a way of turning the Brazil event into an official event, is not only show the golf tournament but show what else is going on. If [they] build a new course for the Olympics, [let’s] show the building of the venue, because we want to engage our fans into 2016, too.”

One senses that the world’s local bank would like the same thing, but as HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship Giles Morgan points out, they will have to do the due diligence of ensuring that such an expansion would give a return on such an investment in the world’s biggest little event.

“It’s hugely important. We talk about championing golf worldwide and, if you look at all of our investments worldwide, the one continent where we haven’t been overexposed to in golf is South America and South America hasn’t been overexposed to golf,” says Morgan.

“This year is important to us with the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup because we need to get a gauge of what the market is; what is the opportunity? It is fantastic for us to be hosting a professional golf tournament in the city hosting the Olympics where golf is first going to be played. As a starter for 10, it’s a great place to start, but this year is when we really look at what the opportunity is for golf, in the same way that four years ago we went into Singapore with the HSBC Women’s Champions to see what the opportunity was for women’s golf, and in the same way we did for China with the HSBC Champions in 2005. In those cases it’s mushroomed. I don’t think Brazil is going to be quite the same. There’s a fanaticism for golf in Asia and I don’t think it’s an exact parallel.”

But, and this a big but, Morgan is the first to point out that laying some foundations in Rio and producing a successful Olympic tournament, while essential, is about prolonging the Olympic opportunity. The opportunity itself is something completely different!

“The point of the Olympics for sports like tennis, football and golf – already hugely established sports in their own right that have their own world cups, top events or majors – is that it can broaden the base appeal to more countries. It’s very exciting and I hope both sports realise that’s what the opportunity is; it’s about development.

“That’s the opportunity for golf; now you’ll get funding from governments in all sorts of new countries saying ‘we’ve seen how Korea, for instance, can play golf. We can play golf, we can invest in that and we can medal’. That’s what’s exciting for both the sport of golf and rugby. They mustn’t look at their heartland, they must look beyond the heartland,” insists Morgan, who as well as managing the bank’s golf sponsorship portfolio also made them the first umbrella sponsor’s of rugby’s global Sevens tournaments: the HSBC World Sevens Series.

This is a point that may not have sunk in to the golf world completely. Certainly Mike Whan is brave enough to admit it was lost to him when golf successfully presented its case to the IOC two years ago.

“I wasn’t around for the vote and ‘should we go pros?’ [playing in the Olympics]. I don’t think I would have voted for it back then. I would have been na├»ve, back in the voting days. I would have said ‘c’mon we’re already worldwide and we already showcase the best players in the world’; I would have missed the extra excitement. I believe the Olympics is going to have a fundamental impact on the growth of the game. What I’ve seen as [LPGA] commissioner over the past year is what golf in the Olympics really means,” Whan confesses.

“The level of interest and support, and the excitement, is happening in individual countries – countries where it happens around Olympic sports, but doesn’t happen around non-Olympic sports. I was at the China Golf Association back in October and to see the training facilities that they’re building and the commitment to finding young athletes to become Olympic athletes from a golf perspective and what it’s meaning for women’s golf throughout Asia and throughout the world… I would have missed all that.  It’ll impact Canada and the US and Europe, too; everyone’s going to want to keep up, that’s what happens in great sports whether it’s swimming, track or golf. It’s going to give a different plateau.”

As Morgan says, the impact is felt most immediately where an established sport will notice it least. Pettersen, for instance, says she’s noticed an immediate difference back in Norway.

“Once golf was taken in there’s obviously a lot of money involved and the distribution down from it. The [golf] federation can now start to build a team and do the stuff they want to do for the young players to have them ready for 2016,” says Pettersen.

“Money is one thing, but also wherever you go in the world you’ll find a golf course and you’ll find people playing golf; so I think it’s good exposure for golf.”

Investment x Interest = Growth

The combination of increased investment and added interest has the potential, as Whan quickly points out, to create a snowballing effect.

“After each Games, you get some profit sharing back into your sport and when we go to the Olympics and are able to reinvest monies in the different countries that participate, it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy where the Olympics made it important, and participating in the Olympics enables you to continue to fuel the growth,” says the LPGA commissioner.

However, to maximise the opportunity, golf does need to fully realise and fully adapt to the fact that its historical structure might work against it in making the most of the Olympic opportunity.

The rules, heritage and traditions of golf have been jointly governed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (until 2004 when The R&A was created to take over the role of “engaging in and supporting activities… for the benefit of the game”) and the United States Golf Association (USGA). 

Why is this an issue? Well, for instance, the new Executive Director of the USGA, Mike Davis, was recently quoted as saying “one of the things that has never been in the USGA’s mission is growing the game. We have never directly attempted to grow the game.”

Meanwhile the global remit, in big picture terms, has until very recently been in the hands of one single member’s golf club. True, the R&A in its new guise distributes GBP5 million annually from the profits from the Open Championship, but half is spent in the UK and Ireland.

The structure of the professional game could also be regarded as a weakness when it comes to making the most of the Olympics. The tours are, generally speaking, rival businesses run for their “shareholders”, the players. The International Federation of PGA Tours only formed in 1996 when the European Tour, Japan Golf Tour Organization, PGA TOUR, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour finally got around the same table.  

It was only with the push to join the Olympic movement that it truly opened its doors to become fully inclusive, admitting women’s golf for the first time as the Canadian Tour and the Tour de las Americas were elevated from associate member status, and full membership was offered to the China Golf Association, Korea Professional Golf Tour, Professional Golf Tour of India, LPGA, Ladies European Tour, Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour, Japan LPGA, Korean LPGA; and the Ladies Asian Golf Tour.

“Now you have to set up an Olympic structure; governing bodies for each of the countries that are going to develop and find the talent. Just creating governing bodies for golf, that’s one simple step but the Olympics takes you down that path. Then the governing bodies start coming together to ask ‘how are we going to develop programmes that not only grow the game but also develop superstars?’” says Whan, correctly identifying the process as a positive for the sport.

95% of jackpot is national

The reason that all of this matters is that the Olympics and the money that comes directly from being in the Olympics is not the big opportunity. The money that will be injected into the sport for playing their part in Rio 2016 will be small change compared to the investment that is really out there to be capitalised on.

Badminton, when it was fighting to retain its Olympic status prior to the 2004 games, did an audit of its member associations. While the TV money from the Athens Olympics would bring in around US$6 million over the next four years, the investment from National Olympic Committees and Governments was worth US$110 million over the same period.

In other words, 95% of the benefit from being in the Olympics comes from funding at local and national levels!

While Rugby Sevens may appear to have the bigger challenge in making a successful first impression in Rio – in TV terms it seems unlikely to beat golf – it is certainly better equipped to take advantage of Olympic status. It has one governing body, The International Rugby Board (founded in 1886), that sits over regional and national rugby unions in a far more conventional structure. It’s in the middle of its second long-term strategic plan (The Mission: Growing the Global Rugby Family), central to which is maximising the benefits of Olympic participation.

None of this is intended as criticism of golf, but the IRB’s structure gives it a global overview and development role that golf is going to have to work hard to catch up with.

Put simply, at IRB’s Dublin headquarters, Mark Egan, their Head of Development, can reel off a head-spinning array of numbers and details of where and how Sevens Rugby is growing exponentially all over the world even before the Olympic coffers are fully opened. More importantly he heads a department whose role it is to make sure those chances are taken advantage of. Does golf have someone who could match him? Probably not.

The Good News

Fortunately, as long as golf puts on the right kind of show in 2016, and survives the vote and stay in the Olympics, there will be plenty of time to catch up.

“The good news is that on this one we’re completely linked on objective. All of us agree that we want to put on the best world showcase of the sport as we can AND make sure that that showcase turns into future growth. Like anything, it starts if you’re on the same page to begin with and the good news is we’re on the same page,” Whan declares.

So, while designers like Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam, Greg Norman, Robert Trent Jones Jr., and Lorena Ochoa, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros are jostling for position to design the course that will host the historic return of golf to the Olympics, the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup, regardless of how small it may be now, is the one cornerstone on which the golf world can build the foundation for it to be a success.

“I can tell you, if you’re looking for a corporate sponsor today, you’d look long and hard to find one better than HSBC. Not only are they a sophisticated, multicultural business – they really understand global events like nobody understands global events – they also have a passion for the game. It’s really important for them to not only bring a global event but also understand and respect the local culture. They really do embrace what’s going on locally and make sure we show that market a global experience, but we probably learned more about making sure we understood what was happening in a local market from sponsors like them,” Whan says, before casting his mind forward to what the medal presentation might be like in five years time.

“I remember Michael Jordan said one time that he didn’t expect standing up there with a gold medal to hit him the way it did. For some of our players, too, you might go down to Brazil to play four rounds of golf and you might stand on the podium and realise that it was bigger than a round of golf,” he says.

Photo Credits: Getty Images,  Golfblogger.uk

Voice your opinion on Twitter at Golf4Beginners

Read Golf for Beginners blogs

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tiger Woods, Golf Instructor?

Tiger Woods, virtual golf instructor? Yes, you heard it right! Woods has decided to prove to Sean Foley (or Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, take your pick) that he too can give lessons and teach the world to golf.

Golf tutelage from the greats have gone for as much as $500 an hour but now Woods can be your instructor for the price of an album downloaded from iTunes!

Load the handy, dandy "Tiger Woods My Swing" app into either an iPhone or iPod Touch, then start uploading up to ten seconds of your golf swing. Your set-up and follow-through "could be compared to any of twenty-four swings by the world No. 5."




Which swing will I be compared with? Will it be the Tiger Woods teen swing or the one-legged golf swing of U.S. Open lore?

Tiger Woods (not some avatar mind you) will offer you virtual golf tips, help you with your swing transitions and will even show you how to rebuild your swing (he's had plenty of time with this one), right from the comfort of your driving range booth!


Woods can now be your new Twitter buddy, your cell phone pal AND play PGA Tour 12: The Masters with you on your Wii!


Taking only a small amount of money out of (hopefully) a lot of people's pockets, Woods' app should be considered a bargain compared to a session with Foley!  On the flip side, Tiger is not necessarily the golfer I would choose as my muse, but he is becoming a skillful salesman.


Available today in the Apple App Store.

All proceeds are to benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation.


Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter

Read Golf for Beginners blogs



Posted via email from stacysolomon's posterous

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Will a Bay Hill win determine the Masters Champion?

Tiger Woods' six Bay Hill victories makes him the odds-on favorite among fans and gamblers despite a drought. The long-shot of becoming a Masters champion after a win at this event is ripe to happen. Will it be Woods, or perhaps an up-and-coming golfer on the PGA Tour, that creates their opportunity at Bay Hill... and dons the Green Jacket?

Although I do not gamble on sports events (except for my $5 bet on the Kentucky Derby), I enjoy reading how analysts and betting parlors determine golf odds and event winners. Golf is a gambling game, from playing a two-dollar Nassau right down to selecting a Fantasy Golf Team and the internet is flooded with scenarios based upon performance and standings.

But, does fate (la forza del destina) sometimes play a hand in the outcome?

One statistic that caught my eye while sifting through the "information super-highway" was Justin Ray's analysis on ESPN.com. He noted that there have only been six instances since 1960 when a player won an event either one or two weeks prior to winning the Masters. It's happened just twice since 1990 and in five year increments: Tiger Woods in 2001 (The Players Championship) and Phil Mickelson in 2006 (won the BellSouth the prior week).

Could 2011 be the year that the winner at Bay Hill will also take the green jacket at Augusta?

Since this is an "Invitational", the field will be limited to one hundred and twenty golfers. There are thirty-four "under thirty" golfers and twenty-six "grizzled vets" over forty years old. A changing of the guard? Perhaps.

Here are a few possible picks to keep your eyes on at Bay Hill:

Mark Wilson is the leader in the FedExCup standings and two-time 2011 winner but has been "fading" since his early back-to-back wins.

Gary Woodland's breakout victory last week at the Transitions Championship was a learning experience for him but he could have the same fortunate bounce as Wilson.

Jhonattan Vegas is another relative newcomer with most of his events played in 2011. He has made seven cuts, his finishes are good and his scrambling stats are better than the average tour player giving him an advantage at Bay Hill.

Dustin Johnson is already a veteran on the PGA Tour and most recently placed second at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Johnson has a better 'greens in regulation' percentage than the average Tour player. With four top-ten finishes this year, Hunter Mahan also has a better-than average 'greens in regulation' percentage.

Playing the 18th hole at Bay Hill, where errant shots will be met by rocks and water, the ability of both Johnson and Mahan to land on the green in the height of competition could could provide the fans with a climactic four-day event.

Tiger Woods' Sunday 66 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and golf instruction from Sean Foley are positive improvements towards an eventual win. On the flip side, Woods has not competed on this course since its renovation and, with current stats at 101st in putts per round (usually the deciding factor in a tournament), he's going to need to grind and hope to rejuvenate the fear factor he instills in other players.

As for my personal favorite, Phil Mickelson, he came in second place at the Farmers Insurance Open, is tied for 25th in scoring average and has made every cut so far this year. Anything can happen and usually does when Phil is in the field!
Possibilities or percentages? Fate or odds?

The 50th anniversary milestone of Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Lodge could very well transform a win in Orlando into a golden opportunity at Augusta.

Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter
Read Golf for Beginners blogs

Monday, March 21, 2011

Woodland Transitions into Winners Mindset with First Golf Victory

Playing against a group of fresh, up-and-coming PGA Tour golfers instead of the grinders whose names are regularly found hovering on the top-ten of the leaderboard was quite possibly the catalyst which helped Lake Nona golf pro Gary Woodland transition from competitor to winner.

Woodland said, after his victory at the Transitions Championship, that he has been learning a lot this year on the PGA Tour about "how to play this game", from controlling nerves to basic strategy. Even though he has been a pro golfer since 2009, Gary was sidelined with an injury that took him out of competition.

"Get it on the green and let the putter do the work. That's what I'm learning," said Woodland. "I'm learning you can't just come out here and fire at every pin and hit driver on every hole. I did that '09 and it didn't work out very well."

During this week, Woodland's name was clumped together with other golfers hard-pressed to be recognized on a leaderboard. PGA Tour events such as the Transitions Championship are training grounds for players battling to break out and shine while the more well-known draws like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson "rest up" before their next event (which will be at Bay Hill).

After this win, Woodland has moved up one hundred places in the world rankings (to 491st), has a spot reserved for him at Augusta and has gotten exempt playing status through the 2013 season.

The win this week has also given Gary Woodland the respect of the field, the title "PGA Tour Champion" and the notice of the fans.

Kathy Whitworth once said about Michelle Wie that, "at some point, for her sake, she needs to place herself in a competition where she is expected to win." Gary Woodland did this at the Transitions Championship: Woodland knew he was good enough, he just had to prove it to himself.

Has this victory given Woodland the confidence needed for future events against a more mature field like he will encounter at Bay Hill?

"I was athletic, but I didn't know what I was doing out here," Woodland commented. "I got hurt and I had to step back and really figure out how to play this game. And I'm starting to figure that out right now."


Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter


Read more Golf for Beginners blogs



Posted via email from stacysolomon's posterous

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tiger Woods Masters preview on Late Night Show?

A noticeably matured yet whiskerless Tiger Woods allowed himself to be the butt of Jimmy Fallon's jokes last night on 'Late Night' in order to push the latest EA Sports Game, "Tiger Woods PGA 12: The Masters" to a somewhat accepting audience.

Fallon used golf terms with double entendres such as "shaft" and "foursome" to force the seemingly stiff Woods into a smile. Tiger's tired eyes said much to his fans even though he appeared to remain a good sport all the while.

"And we laughed at your pain," needled Fallon. "I mean, not even making jokes. It kind of wrote itself."

It was the following segment, a demonstration of "PGA Tour 12: The Masters" on Wii, that was the real purpose of Woods' appearance. Tiger was there for the money shot, to be a walking billboard for EA Sports and to sell 'Late Night' viewers on the new game, not to talk about his personal life golf instuctor catfights or how his own golf game is coming round (although Woods was truly proud of his recently remodeled Jupiter estate, complete with four golf holes and four different types of sand in the bunkers.)

Amy Poehler, who looked as if this was the first time she ever picked up a golf club, was there to loosen up Woods (which she did when she swung the Wii controller) and to add further comic relief to Fallon's innocuous barbs.

The three played the 12th hole at Augusta National: Golden Bell. The shortest hole on the course and one of the three holes included in Amen Corner, Golden Bell is a deceptive par-3, 155 yard hole in which accuracy is key as winds and a narrow green complicate the shot.

Augusta National 12th hole

Both Amy and Jimmy were feeding off of each other, trying to take Tiger out of his game while waiting for the big money shot to occur, perhaps for birdie or par? They hoped to see Woods loosen up and boogie down a bit but Tiger remained as stolid as if he were in real competition, game face on, not taking any prisoners.

After what seemed to be a hundred shots from Poehler who was desperately trying to get over Rae's Creek and with Fallon using his putter like a baseball bat, Woods finally got his chance to claim victory.

Standing over a three-foot putt, Tiger Woods confidently holed out...for a bogey.

Preview of things to come?

Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) related his feelings on Twitter:

First win of the year, unfortunately it was against @jimmyfallon.

Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is cat fight over Tiger Woods golf game justified?

Past and present golf instructors of Tiger Woods have been taking trash talk to a whole new level with commentary, tweets and barbs aimed at character defamation and criticism over the former world number-one's golf swing.

Some say that Lee Trevino innocently started the 'battle of the golf coaches' when he suggested that Tiger Woods should "get his mindset straight and quit messing with all these instructors...then his winning ways will return."

Instead of reminding Trevino that every great golfer should have a teacher to guide and assist, and probably worried that Woods would listen and clean house, Sean Foley (Woods' current tutor) pointed the proverbial finger at former coach Hank Haney stating, "There was nothing about what he was doing in his previous swing that made any sense to me," mentioning that Haney built most of his teaching career around Woods.

Isn't making a name for himself using Tiger Woods as a springboard exactly what Foley is attempting to do?

In an effort to defend himself, Hank Haney came out swinging and, since he is getting accustomed to Twitter, answered his accuser with retweets from fans such as:

"Sean Foley=Clueless"

A vocal Butch Harmon has recently chimed into the conversation perhaps standing up for Haney (?) by pointing a finger at Foley with this barb, "it's not a good idea to completely do a redo" of someone's golf swing suggesting Tiger looked a bit like a "Nationwide Tour player trying to get his card."

The harsh roundtable criticism is childish, hateful and unnecessary. Haney was a good influence on Woods, helping him to win six majors "and 45% of the events he played grabbing a top-ten finish 85% of the time during the last three years he was his coach." Sean Foley has been instructing Woods for about a year now waiting to see his influence take effect...perhaps the reason for his war of words.

Tiger Woods is silent on the subject but should he speak up? Should he tweet, "stop the fighting already because it's not good for my game or for the game of golf?"

In my opinion, golf is supposed to be a sport of positive influence, where tipping one's hat and acknowledging good play is expected; in other words, spitting, throwing clubs and harsh words should be kept off camera and/or should be worked out in a constructive way.

With Woods making the talk show circuit on Late Night and on Morning Drive, it could be that the media will help set the record straight. Perhaps Jimmy Fallon will dig in and get answers on March 16th but it's more likely both will be content to allow the feud to propagate hamming it up instead with a few holes of mini golf.


Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter


Read Golf for Beginners blogs



Posted via email from stacysolomon's posterous

Friday, March 11, 2011

Can devastation in Japan create golf heroes at Doral?

After hearing that his family in Japan was okay, Ryo Ishikawa finished round one of the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Doral Golf Course at 6-under par and only a single stroke off the lead ..."his best round on the PGA Tour by three strokes," as stated by PGATour.com.

Ishikawa, unable to focus completely because of the tragedy in his homeland, still managed to fire off two birdies in his final six holes.

Although misfortune hit closer to home for Yuta Ikeda, he managed to finish his round with a 74. The only other Japanese golfer in the field, Hiroyuki Fujita has advanced into the second round with a 71.

The honor of being able represent Japan as competitive golfers, especially with the devastation of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake looming heavy in their minds, makes aspiring to PGA Tour status all the more appealing. Ishikawa stated that his position (as well as other athletes from Japan) is unique in that, "we can provide encouragement and hope for the people of Japan."

From national heroes to global emissaries, Ishikawa, Ikeda and Fujita are playing for more than just a golf trophy and FedEx points; they are helping to bring their people out of despair by using sport as a unifying agent to help heal a country damaged by the cruel hand of nature.

Golf for Beginners supports these golfers in their positive quest and prays for the safety of the people of Japan and Hawaii and all others devastated by this earthquake.

Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sabbatini wins Honda Classic with help from TaylorMade?

It is not necessarily because of the TaylorMade R11 white-faced driver that Rory Sabbatini won the PGA Tour Honda Classic but the new golf equipment surely made a positive impact on his game.


In addition to the TaylorMade R11 white driver with Adjustable Sole Plate Technology (or ASP), Sabbatini also used Tour Preferred MC forged irons, Burner SuperFast 2.0 TP 3-wood and the TaylorMade Ghost TM 770 tour putter. With this putter, Rory tied for second in the field in putts-per-round!


"I've never quite had as much confidence in a new putter as I have in this one. After picking it up last week and hitting a few putts with it, right away it just felt amazing to me. It was probably one of the smartest decisions I've ever made in my golf game," said Sabbatini after his win on the Champion Course at PGA National.


Sabbatini changed his golf equipment early in 2011 and has increasingly improved his performance in the last four events he played, including a tie for 5th at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.


With his win at the Honda Classic, Sabbatini has skyrocketed by fifty spots to number fifty-two in the World Golf Rankings, enters the top-ten (3rd place) of the FedEx Cup rankings and has also officially grabbed the final spot in the upcoming WGC-Cadillac Championship being held at Doral.


So is it the "arrow or the indian"?


TaylorMade's 2011 worldwide driver "wins" are at an astounding eight and with Luke Donald, Y.E. Yang and Camilo Villegas also in the field this week, the ninth victory for TaylorMade Golf could be just a swing away.


Here are the golf clubs which spurred Rory Sabbatini on to victory at the Honda Classic:


In Sabbatini’s Bag

R11 driver 10.5°  

Burner Superfast 2.0 TP fairway 13°

R9 fairway 19° 

Tour Preferred MC, 4-PW 

TP wedge with xFT ZTP 56° and 60°

TaylorMade Ghost TM-770 Tour putter

Penta TP ball



Image courtesy of TaylorMade Golf


Golf for Beginners does not endorse the TaylorMade brand of golf clubs.


Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter!


Posted via email from stacysolomon's posterous

Friday, March 04, 2011

Is the Bear Trap the toughest finishing stretch in golf?

Although five golf courses make up the PGA National Resort and Spa, it is the 16th hole of the Champion course that provides this week's Kodak moment at the Honda Classic.

The 15th, 16th and 17th holes of The Champion golf course, or "The Bear Trap" are legendary and have been called "the real killer in golf" by Lee Trevino.

Why is this stretch of three golf holes called "The Bear Trap"?

Although Team Fazio originally designed the course, Jack Nicklaus redesigned it in 1981. Known as the "Golden Bear", Nicklaus left his "footprint" behind on what he considered to be these "Three Great Finishing Holes on the PGA Tour."

"That stretch is about precision," said Nicklaus. "That stretch is about guts."

It is the 16th hole that has been designated as the Kodak Challenge hole for the Honda Classic and is considered the toughest par-4 of all of PGA National's 90 holes. According to PGATour.com, on this dogleg right...

"Off the tee, everything slopes toward the water on the right, but a bunker was added to catch balls that roll too far right. Those who bail out left are faced with a 220-yard second shot over water, into the wind" and on to a two-tiered green.

With strong winds whipping on Thursday, double bogeys outnumbered birdies.

The hazards and the elements of nature that golfers will contend with this week make the PGA National Champion golf course a truly memorable yet difficult experience but, are these three golf holes, as USA Today has stated, the toughest test in golf?

Last week's winner of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship, Luke Donald, called the Bear Trap finishing stretch, "one of the toughest we have all year" while Ernie Els claimed, "those are the holes that really sits in people's minds."

You decide.

Photo credit:  PGA National

Voice your opinion! Golf4Beginners on Twitter

Read Golf for Beginners blogs

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

LPGA Ambassadors on Olympic Golf Mission to Brazil

Three top golfers on the LPGA Tour have decided to become golf ambassadors in order to gain more interest in the sport and to insure future Olympic success.

Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen and Meghan Francella are "on a mission" to Brazil to spread the word about the great golf the LPGA has to offer. The three ladies have committed to play in the HSBC LPGA Brazil Cup at the Itanhanga Golf Club in Rio De Janeiro on May 28/29 partly because golf will be featured in the 2016 Rio Games. The field will be made up of thirty golfers and event purse will be $720,000.

Another reason for Suzann's call to action is because Pettersen was part of the official delegation that successfully presented golf’s "case" to the IOC in Copenhagen sixteen months ago. She believes the HSBC LPGA Brazil Cup has a vital role in growing the popularity of golf in South America before it returns to the Olympic family for the first time since 1904.

Pettersen further said she wanted, "sports fans in Brazil to know who we are and how good we are and we need to build their desire to see us in five years’ time."

More golfers on both the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour should reach out worldwide to grow the game of golf. Greg Norman and Annika Sorenstam attend forums considering ways to attract newcomers and this grass roots approach of going out and gaining fans with the sole purpose of showcasing their talents will go a long way in promoting the sport.

Crisite Kerr said, “This is the biggest single opportunity that women’s golf has ever had! It’s not about who wins the gold medal in five years’ time; it’s about an opportunity to grow and expand the sport more than it has ever grown before"

"We," Kerr maintained, "as the current stars of women’s golf will absolutely kick ourselves if, in ten years time, we can’t look the new young professionals coming through in the eye and say we did everything we could to make being in the Olympics a success. That’s why we need to be in Rio now!”

credit: Getty Images

Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter

Fantasy Sports Software