PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS
Ron Romanik 
The end of an era...
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
By Ron Romanik

 

It’s the end of an era. Admit it, you feel it too. There’s an aching void that—you suspect—will never again be filled. And you’re right.

 

It’s okay to admit it. Let yourself mourn. Tiger is on the way out. Not "done," per se, but moving toward the door.

 

The Masters this past weekend had an empty feeling to it. Of course, Tiger has missed majors before. But it’s different this time. Life and the game are moving on. Even if he comes back, expectations will be different. You’ll be happy to see some continued success, but you won’t expect magic every time like in the past.

 

And all good things do come to an end. His standard was impossibly high. The wins and the majors were one thing, but the rabbit-out-of-the-hat shots were out of this world. David Feherty once said: "Of the 10 best shots I ever saw, Tiger hit eight of them." That was some time ago, by now he might adjust those numbers to be 18 of the best 20.

 

His imprint on the game is permanent, even if he never plays again. And part of me wishes he’d consider that. Maybe it’s time to move on to greater challenges in new arenas. In the winter of 1997, before his first Masters win, I wondered if Tiger wouldn’t grow tired of the game, as it can become tedious if you can no longer achieve previous heights of mastery. Two of the greats—Bobby Jones and Byron Nelson—walked away while they were still competitive.

 

It's a sad feeling, and I promised myself that I would never stop predicting incredible achievements from the man until I saw the writing on the wall. Well now it feels as if the metaphorical wall-writer is uncapping his pen. Previously, whenever someone would so carelessly imply that a "slump" meant washed-up, I'd quickly retort: "He'll be back...just you wait and see."

 

In that same missive I wrote in 1997, I wrote: "The look in Tiger’s eyes has an intensity that I’ve seen only a couple of times before. To me, it appears that winning isn’t enough; he wants to drive his opponents into submission, to bury any doubts of his supremacy, to lap the fields of mortals, and to reveal the weaknesses of his opponents so that they’ll limp home broken men." He no longer has that intensity, and I miss it.

 

Of course, I was being hyperbolic to make a point of the greatness that was already unfolding in Tiger’s charge up the golf rankings. Tongue-in-cheek, I pressed hyperbole to satirize the blind adulation and undeserved idolization of some sports fans: "We are witnessing the flowering of a talent so pure and honed, and a spirit so competitive and fiery, that analogies to other sports legends may very quickly become tired and insufficient."

 

But back to present day and the realities of now. The truth is that many questions still remain. If he comes back, how much will he "adjust" to take care of his body and avoid further injury? He has already scaled back his game to a large degree. I don't have much interest in watching Tiger play at 80 percent, as I wouldn't have much interest in watching John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors at 80 percent, either.

 

And how many small injuries and aches and pains are there that we don’t know about? Heck, he kept a broken bone a secret for three months leading up to the 2008 U.S. Open. And what toll did the Navy SEAL training take on his body?

 

It’s sad but also liberating. I don't feel compelled to defend Tiger's greatness anymore. And I never thought I'd say this: I don't think he will surpass Jack's record. And I have a reason I can use in polite conversation. The human body has limits, and Tiger has exceeded them too many times.

 

Not that Tiger isn't the greatest to ever play the game. He is. There's really no question. But I won't feel the need to explain why. If you witnessed the bulk of Jack's and Tiger's careers, you have eyes. And if you still doubt, just review tape again.

 

So where do we go from here? This past week at the Masters was a fun ride. Youth, experience, and a wild man with an uncanny feel in his hands. Bubba is a mix of Paul Bunyan and John Henry, a perfect antidote to the stuffiness of Augusta National.

 

Why Bubba can't win elsewhere on tour is a bit of a puzzler, but not really. A long driver has a big advantage at Augusta National because off-target drives are not penalized severely.

 

There are lots of great young players, no doubt. I still have high expectations of Rory, and Jordan Speith is incredibly solid for his age.

 

But Tiger will be a side show. And that's okay. Now is the time for the PGA Tour to put effort into the defining characteristics of the main show. Does the Tour merely determine who is hot—or gets the good bounces—that week? Is it just a putting contest? Does the game have to be presented so one-dimensionally?

 

I used to be a pretty staunch traditionalist. I’m growing less conservative with age—about golf, at least. The game should be fun, it should be easy and fast to play, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re at a boarding school when you play.

 

There is also room to improve the watch-ability of the game, and there are ways to bring out the personalities of the players (and the "Golf Boys" is not what I mean). It's time to innovate now, because Tiger's ability to draw will continue to slide. I once dreaded the Fox network taking over the reins of the U.S. Open. Now, I’m thinking: "Let’s see what they can do."

 

I can't see Tiger winning more than two majors in a single season, but there's no doubt he can still win one or two here or there. But five more is a tall order for a man nearing 40 with all the injuries his body has withstood, and will continue to withstand.

 

It was a good run, and it was fun to watch, but change is the only inevitable in life. To quote the poet Percy Shelley, "Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Nought may endure but Mutability."

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 


Send to a friend
0 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Ron Romanik 
A few pre-Masters questions to clear up
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
By Ron Romanik

So we can go into The Masters with a clear conscience, let us pose imponderable questions that will cleanse us of the doldrums of the harsh winter and allow us to embrace the harbinger of spring and rebirth that is the coming weekend, the most elegant of sporting events that humanity has ever devised.

 

Who will win? Easy one...a first-timer. There are 24 first-timers; however, only 18 are professional first-timers. I’m going with Patrick Reed, currently top five in the world rankings in his head.

 

Does anyone know why the @PatrickReedsEgo account on Twitter was suspended? And what, exactly, does "Account Suspended" mean? Does it mean it might be back? I didn’t realize Twitter had such a strict Code of Conduct. The tweets were pretty funny, if whoever was writing them is listening. A couple other similar accounts have popped up, but they’re not as good. Other funny "fake" Twitter accounts to check out are @TweeterAlliss, @TheFakeESPN, @PeytonsHead, @FauxJohnMadden, @FakeGrantland, and—for the philosophically minded, @KimKierkegaardashian.

 

Can someone explain why it’s so important to emphasize that "No one who won the par-three competition on Wednesday has gone on to win The Masters that weekend"? It’s not a jinx! Sheesh!

 

How easy is it to write an article about how golf is an elitist sport, replete with free-flying conjecture and scant facts? As easy as asking Philip Bump, a political writer at TheWire.com (a sister site for The Atlantic magazine) to elaborate on how the Paulina Gretzky Golf Digest cover is just the tip of the iceberg of golf’s problems.

 

I made the mistake of not reading it as satire, which would have at least made it more enjoyable, even though it was not intended as such. The comments are better than the article (no surprise) as many share their own experiences playing many rounds with "regular" folks. And this zinger: "The author's conception of who plays golf in 2014 seems to come from a hazy recollection of watching Caddyshack in the 80s."

 

Is golf show anchor Ryan Burr a robot? His Golf Channel bio does not address this question, and the ESPN alumnus’ only golf credential shows up in the last sentence of his bio as "an avid golfer since his high school playing days." I was skeptical at first, but he’s beginning to prove otherwise by showing he can think on his feet. And I have to give him the benefit of the doubt, because it’s difficult to rid oneself of that annoying ESPN spit-polish.

 

Does anybody know if the Playboy girl who used her butt as a tee and filed a lawsuit over the incident is fully recovered? More accurately, she had a tee sticking out of her butt. And whatever happened to the Golden Rule and turning the other cheek? Like all the click-bait articles these days, it was easy to miss a few details. The incident actually happened in March 2012, but the lawsuit only came to light recently. "Comedian" Kevin Klein swung the club, forgetting to choke up sufficiently. He responded to the media exposure on Twitter: "I would like to take this moment to set the record straight with the media: I've never claimed to be a comedian." But he does try hard, and occasionally does succeed, to be funny: "When I type anything that doesn't auto fill, I immediately abandon my search." I’m with him on that.

 

Can anyone identify the poor soul who was caught on tape on the 14th tee at Broad Run? After a poor drive, he breaks his club and then... well, it’s worth a quick look. After all, the moment is now preserved in infamy in an "Epic Fail" YouTube video.

 

Why is Donald Trump such a jerk? (No need to answer, it’s a rhetorical question.) He just can’t resist when someone baits him into a kerfuffle, like Mark Cuban did recently about if The Donald has enough cash to buy the Buffalo Bills. The Donald reacted by attacking Cuban’s golf game, which Cuban claims is non-existent, literally. Cuban claims he never ever played. Even ad hominem ad nauseum, stay Trumptastic.

 

Will Michelle Wie ever play the Masters? I say yes. I predicted her resurgence here. And after her strong second-place finish at Kraft Nabisco Championship, if she doesn’t win three tournaments this year, I’ll be shocked...and embarrassed.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.


Send to a friend
0 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Ron Romanik 
More ’cons’ than ’pros’ to back-to-back Opens at Pinehurst
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
By Ron Romanik

 

Well, now that spring has sprung, June will be here before you know it. April showers will bring May flowers, and May flowers will bring pilgrims. But before that, March musings apparently bring rumblings and grumbling of discontent about the USGA’s Pinehurst plan.

 

Many pilgrims will land at Pinehurst, NC, this June for a bold experiment in golf promotion that will most certainly be a one-off. Much like the Super Bowl experiment last month, having Men’s and Women’s U.S. Opens back-to-back at the same venue seems like a nice idea—in theory. In practice, the NFL’s decision to host a Super Bowl outside in cold weather in the New York City metropolitan area made everyone anxious about the realities of actual bad weather impacting the game, the fans, and the three-ring circus that is Super Bowl week. And in practice, the USGA’s decision to conjoin the Opens will have a similar effect.

 

Let’s just keep it simple here: The USGA wanted to promote the women’s game, which is nice. I don’t question their intentions, only whether they weighed the pros and cons as carefully as they might have. Because the potential cons are many and variable and unpredictable.

 

First up is the negative publicity of having to explain why the women go second. This really isn’t complicated, and shouldn’t really be an issue, but a few LPGA players recently weighed in when Golf Channel gave them a voice. Can you strike a balance between cross-promotional "riding on coattails" while still "playing second fiddle"? Probably. Fans know the score, more or less.

 

But the order of the tournaments is easy to understand if you consider the culture of the USGA. They are bound to a good degree by history, and the Men’s Open has always come first. Changing precedent would open up a boatload of potential scheduling conflicts in future years with both Tours.

 

Furthermore, the USGA is meticulous in course preparation and setup, and the absolutely perfect execution of the Men’s U.S. Open course setup is their white whale every year. Given the common differences in the course setups between the two events, it would be impossible to go from the Women’s U.S. Open setup to the Men’s in three days. While you can cut rough and soften up the greens between the two tournaments, you can’t do the reverse. Enough said?

 

Whether or not the fairways will be a minefield of divot holes for the ladies is a valid concern. Knowing the obsessive attention to detail of the USGA and executive director Mike Davis, though, I imagine that most common "landing areas" will be different for the women come the second week of competition on the course. There will, by necessity, be some overlap, but wholesale turf patches of divot holes is not prohibitive to achieve, if you have the resources of the USGA. Believe me, they’ve thought about this.

And they should have enough extra cash laying around to re-sod all the landing areas, to be honest. Just imagine the staggering amount of money the USGA will save by not having to tear down, ship, and reinstall all of the grandstands, gates, fences, corporate tents, infrastructure, etc. between the two Opens.

 

But I predict it will be a one-time only experiment, nevertheless. Like the Super Bowl, the biggest X factor is the weather, and bad weather would evoke completely justifiable ire from the ladies of the LPGA. I’ve been on several major championship venues during rainy weeks, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty.

 

More than the players, it’s the spectators who wreak havoc on the course, the rough, and all the staging areas. It can make playing the event a miserable slog of attrition. Even if the bad weather doesn’t come, I believe the USGA will take future conjoined Opens off the table after surviving all of the anxiety, hand-wringing, brow-beating, kvetching, and bellyaching that they’re in store for. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say.

 

Part 2: In the next blog post here, I’ll discuss one other critical potential "con" of this bold USGA experiment of back-to-back Opens, and it concerns fans’ appreciation of the game as played by professionals. It’s a lesson the pro tennis tour learned many moons ago, about how to manage their sport from the fans backwards. After all, there is no circus without the suckers who follow it, to criminally paraphrase P.T. Barnum.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.


Send to a friend
0 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Michelle Wie 
Wow, Wie! Here she comes again
Thursday, February 27, 2014
By Ron Romanik

You heard it here first: 2014 is going to be a big year for Michelle Wie.

 

Like most golf fans, I was awed by the Houdini-like escapes of Dubuisson at the Match Play and the steely resolve of Jason Day. But, when I reviewed the Honda LPGA Thailand on my DVR later that same night, I was more awed by the powerful, newly refined swing of Michelle Wie.

 

When I first saw Wie’s new swing last week on a Golf Channel tournament preview ad, I thought: "Damn, what has Leadbetter done to this poor girl now?" I was perturbed because I loved watching the flowing swing of the 18-year-old Wie. It was balanced, rhythmic, flowing, and effortlessly powerful.

 

At first glance, I thought the new swing was too jerky, too athletic, and too aggressive. It looked unnecessarily contrived, requiring too much effort. And short. Her short- and mid-irons point to the sky at the top, as you can see with the full 6-iron shot picture here, caught at the top of a full swing. She does get nearer to parallel on the backswing with her driver, though. You’ll also notice her stance is wider and she tilts her spine angle quite deliberately at address.

 

But on closer review, I’m sold. When she transitions to the downswing, every inch of her frame looks "connected" and coiled for release. Leadbetter has Wie bombing it again with purpose, frequently over 300 yards on her drives.

 

I’m easily swayed by the evidence of results. Her solo 4th finish moved her from 60th to 48th on the Rolex Ladies Rankings. And the announcers gushed. (Sorry I couldn’t confirm their names. They sounded Australian, in the nicest way.)

 

Female announcer: "She blows me away. I walked around with her and I cannot believe the amount of carry she gets; the height she hits it. It is just enormous."

Male announcer: "The line she took on No. 1 was a line that I think only Michelle took. She can see parts of the course that most of us can’t."

 

On the 10th hole, a par-five of 540 yards, Wie out-drove eventual winner Anna Nordqvist by 95 yards and cut a high long-iron approach off a downhill lie to 10 feet. Not surprisingly, she missed the eagle putt. Wie’s new putting stance is a topic for another time, but even that part of her game is coming around in measurable ways.

 

But it’s the new full swing that is fascinating, and she seems to have supreme command over it. The announcers also oohed and aahed over her three-wood tee shots. Though her driver tee shots were towering, the announcers described Wie’s three-wood tee shots as almost impossibly low. Intentionally and consistently low, like "stingers."

 

Check out the difference in the driver swings for yourself here: "Before" (from 12 months ago) and "After" (from November). Be forewarned, though. Wie’s swing today might be even shorter and tighter—and more explosive—than the November sequences.

 

Now, if she could only find the right putting coach...

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. Ron’s bio is here.


Send to a friend
0 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Ron Romanik 
What to tell your golf widow
Thursday, February 13, 2014
By Ron Romanik

 

 

Who knew that the term "golf widow" was almost 100 years old? What’s more, who knew that there were so many reasons golf widows should be happy for the time apart from their husbands, according to one Rev. John B. Kelly.

 

In researching my article on Merion’s wicker baskets last year, I came across The American Golfer archives on the LA84 Foundation website. One article in particular piqued my interest, "The Moral Value of Golf" (pdf), published in 1917.

 

According to Rev. Kelly, the moral benefits of golf are many to men and subsequently, their wives. But don’t think he discouraged wives from playing, mind you, for "The golfer whose wife is superior to him at his own game is a very tractable spouse."

 

The Rev. Kelly’s praising of golf’s "effect on the devotee’s soul" and its "effect of the spiritual benefits" is so effusive as to make one wonder if the long essay/sermon was not slightly tongue-in-cheek. After some careful consideration, I am quite sure it was not so.

 

The golf mania sweeping the nation at the time even swept up doctors’ recommendations: "Physicians have urged the necessity of golf so magnanimously as to find their preaching a detriment to their personal incomes." This thesis-statement-in-disguise sums up the main thrust of the essay, which is that golf invariably improves health, whether physical, mental, or spiritual.

 

Since men made up the majority of golfers back in the day, it is men’s moral well being that the Reverend focused on primarily—and he saw nary a downside. Here’s just a few of the most entertaining passages:

 

"Religion and golf work together in the making of a good man."

"Surely a man has more faith in the existence of a Supreme Being after a day in the fairways of earth."

"Golf brings its devotees nearer to God."

"[Golf devotees] have an opportunity of coming into that intimate contact with the beauty of creation which is a healing influence on the soul."

"Children of criminal habits have the countenances of old men, and men of childish habits look half their age. In this respect golf is the fountain of youth."

"A good Sunday should consist of about an hour in church and ten hours on the fairways."

 

Other moral benefits include bonds of brotherhood between men, the virtues of reverence and obedience, the avoidance of vice, and a significant longer life, for which golf widows should be grateful. And here is where the good Reverend may have drifted a little far afield, presuming that wives, on average, want their husbands to survive into their advanced years.

 

That minor point aside, it brings me pleasure to imagine Rev. Kelly high in a pulpit in a spartan church in the country, passionately extolling the virtues of golf: "Let those who seek the waters of the fountain of youth drink from the wholesome springs of thought that golf creates."

 

Can I get an "Amen!"?

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand narrative, package design intelligence and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 

 


Send to a friend
0 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Ron Romanik 
Giving thanks all around
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
By Ron Romanik

Tis the season, so they say. So let’s be thankful for the moments of good times with friends and family and the good golf we’ve had this year. If we can remember any good golf, that is.

 

We should be thankful for the ability to be thankful. As it turns out, gratitude may cause happiness more than vice versa. (See the "Steindl-Rast" video below.)

Bah humbug, you say? Don’t knock it until you try it. The causes and effects of things are frequently mixed up by this linear, narrative English language we are willfully constrained by.

 

I am grateful that I can still knock a drive out there about 270, and I’m grateful that my handicap is not higher than an 8. The relatively low handicap is more a factor of the few rounds I got in this year than anything else, as a toddler has invaded my life, for which I’m most grateful.

 

I, for one, am also grateful that there was no Skins Game this past weekend. I found that exercise to be tiresome, as the players always seemed to be trying too hard to joke around. It was inauthentic, for lack of a better word.

 

A more interesting event might be an old-school "One-Club Challenge," such as was staged in 1984 at the Old Course at St. Andrews. The YouTube highlights show Trevino and Ballesteros at their creative best, working their way around the links with only a five-iron in hand (they all chose the same club). They teamed up to trounce the team of Nick Faldo and Isao Aoki for "The Epson Trophy." Good luck staging an event like that today. It’s my guess that there would be few players that would risk embarrassing themselves with poor-looking shots.

 

As you might expect, Ballesteros was impressive. Many will recall that Seve started playing the game as a youth with only a three-iron, knocking rocks around his back yard. Though Seve’s deft touch around the greens was impressive, so were his rope-hook drives that rolled out well past his fellow competitors. As YouTube user "stevepising" says: "If the game was only played with one club, Seve would have won 50 majors." Another commenter suggested, in detached objectivity, that 14 clubs did seem like an awful lot of tools for the game at hand. It’s hard to argue against the fact that fewer clubs would require greater skill and imagination, which are the true joys of the game.

 

I, for one, am grateful for the Internet in all its aggravating glory, including both the polite comments and the not-so-polite. You have to be grateful for the good and the bad. In fact, it’s possible you wouldn’t know pleasure unless you’re reminded what pain is from time to time.

 

Golf will happily supply that pain whenever you have the time. Pain and pleasure are relative to each other, as are varying levels of each. A wedge shot that stops more than 10 feet from the flag brings a certain kind of pain to Tiger, so when he goes really bad, it must feel like a dagger twisting into his heart. If you dare, empathize with his pain in this video that compiles the Top 10 of Tiger pain—and be thankful you’re not him.

 

But the best reason to be thankful of the Internet is that thousands of YouTubing apes will eventually, someday, ferret out the Hogan Secret that Ben never revealed. And I think we’re finally getting close. (More on that in a future post.)

 

Or, maybe the secret to the correct swing tempo could be honed by watching and imitating this mesmerizing GIF. (Wait until the GIF loads completely to see the full swing at the end.)

 

I am also grateful for the Internet because it gives us a personality like Leonard Nimoy in surprising candor. The best part about the former Mr. Spock is that he ends all his online posts with "LLAP." If you don’t know what that stands for, ask the nearest person to you—or, better yet, go to www.shopllap.com.

 

On November 14th, Leonard tweeted @TheRealNimoy: "I’m a happy guy. I want what I have. LLAP." He also appreciates inspirational, philosophical poetry that encourages a similar grateful outlook on life. This video features Mr. Nimoy reading "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann.

 

In a TED Talk by David Steindl-Rast titled Want to be happy? Be grateful., the Benedictine monk endorses "the gentle power" of gratefulness, encouraging everyone to seek out opportunities for gratefulness in the mundane events of every day and to "Stop...Look...Go."

 

And finally, a "Philadelphia Boy," if you will, released a fascinating book this year called Give and Take. Adam Grant is a young tenured professor at Philadelphia’s Wharton School at Penn (my alma mater). His premise is that in professional interactions, most people are either "givers," "matchers," or "takers." One surprising finding that he elaborates on in the book is the fate of givers in the business world. Although some "givers" get taken advantage of and burn out, many become extraordinary successes in a variety of industries.

 

So, this holiday season... maybe we’d all be a little better off if we expected a little less, gave a little more, and were a little more grateful for what we have.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand narrative, package design intelligence and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 


Send to a friend
0 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  

Ron Romanik 
Come on, while we’re young
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
By Ron Romanik

There’s really no question that the biggest issue in today’s golf industry is slow play. It just takes too much time out of any day. Even sneaking out for nine holes often feels like a chore.

 

And the most frustrating part about the current situation is that it is caused to a good degree by player attitudes that are just plain wrong. One such attitude is that taking more time over a shot will lead to a better result. In fact, the opposite is more likely true.

 

The more time you spend thinking about or standing over a shot, the more likely you'll hit a bad shot. And it’s not even "paralysis from analysis." It’s more a matter of tension in the muscles. Keeping muscles moving and keeping your mind distracted prevent unnecessary tensions in full swings as well as putts.

 

Exacerbating this behavior is the obsession with score. In Great Britain and Ireland, there’s less of this obsession, and play moves nicely along. A common match format is four ball, or better ball of partners, where no one complains when they have to pick up because they’re "out of the hole."

 

Sadly, outside of private clubs, in the U.S. these player attitudes are unlikely to change for a long time. And it has a lot to do with what they see Tour players do on TV. In writing this piece, I realized that one of the reasons I like playing with honors, or first off the tee, is that I jump up to the tee box ready to hit, stick the peg in the ground and just go. It may also be why "ready golf" is so appealing to me—enough that it’s a frequent first hole agreement, even in tournaments.

 

As I mentioned in a previous post, Lee Trevino tried everything possible to keep tensions from constricting his golf swing. He fidgeted, he talked, he waggled—whatever it took to stay loose. In the prime of his career, he would even be replanting his feet moments before a swing.

 

And the bigger the moment, the quicker he played. He recounted his walk to the 18th tee on Sunday at Muirfield in the dual with Jack for the 1972 Open Championship. He told his caddy to give him the driver as fast as possible so he could load and fire before any doubts could creep into his head.

 

So it is up against monumental inertial forces that the USGA is trying to make a dent in round durations with several concurrent campaigns trying to guilt players into speeding up play. It’s impossible to say whether the "While We’re Young" commercials, while amusing, will have any effect long-term. People are amazingly un-self-aware when it comes to these things. Many slow players will watch those ads and think they’re talking about someone else they know who is worse.

 

The USGA announced it will hold a symposium focusing solely on slow play this week. Some key figures in the industry will meet to discuss new strategies and campaigns to cut down typical round times. Whatever you think of the speed of USGA policy making, at least there’s some movement in the right direction. If you’re bored, go to the USGA website to sign a pledge to be part of the solution, not the problem. Nearly 175,000 have signed to date, including yours truly.

 

As reported by Golf Channel, Tiger heard about the symposium and commented that it’s a big problem during tournament play for threesomes and for average golfers slogging around public courses. His practice rounds at Isleworth are a different story altogether. I imagine his souped up cart can top out close to 50 mph, because he claimed he frequently gets in 36 holes in less than three hours, and sometimes finishes 18 in under one hour.

 

Faster than fast

Taking faster play to another level is Speedgolf. A couple of weeks ago at Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Irishman Rob Hogan shot two sub-80 rounds in about 40 minutes each to win the Speedgolf World Championship. Combining golf with competitive distance running is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is entertaining to watch nonetheless.

 

Earlier this year, I caught a special about the 2012 World Championship that was aired Masters weekend. That event was won by recent Notre Dame grad Chris Walker, who has aspirations for a professional career. This year, he finished 4th with rounds of 74 and 73, but both times were over 50 minutes.

 

The interesting part about scoring well under the demanding conditions of Speedgolf is that you have to do your best with four to six clubs. There’s no club limit per se in the Speedgolf, but the weight of more clubs would cut significantly into the top speed running down the fairway.

 

Other rules modifications to speed things along include the option of leaving the flagstick in when putting and a lost ball rule that would drive rules purists mad. When a ball is lost, the player has the option, after a one-stroke penalty, of dropping anywhere along the line of flight of the previous shot.

 

But there is a nice purity in the scoring system. A player’s SGS (Speedgolf score) is simply a total of strokes plus minutes. The current world record in Speedgolf was established in October 2005 when Christopher Smith shot a five under par 65 in 44:06 for a Speedgolf score (SGS) of 109:06 at a tournament in the Chicago Speedgolf Classic at Jackson Park Golf Course.

 

Watch the two principal officers of Speedgolf, Smith and Tim Scott, battle it out in the last few holes of a local Speedgolf event here. Full results of the 2013 World Championship are here. Go to the very helpful site www.speedgolfinternational.com to learn how to start your own league.

 

Plenty of blame to go around

Golf Channel did a great service to golf this year in its Greatest Rounds series. One of the best was the Trevino/Nicklaus dual at Merion for the 1971 U.S. Open. The broadcast was fascinating on many levels, and I hope to finish a future blog about all the annotations I made.

 

One surprising part of the broadcast was the amazing tediously slow play of one Jack Nicklaus. He was known as a slow player, for sure, but it seemed he was attempting new personal bests (or worsts) at Merion. In retrospect, I have to wonder if it wasn’t gamesmanship aimed specifically at Trevino during the playoff round.

 

Trevino, to his credit, never pointed it out. But there were some telling inset TV camera clips of Trevino watching Jack putt from greenside. Fidgety as always, Lee looked perturbed and frustrated. And for good reason, because I timed Jack. Several times, Jack would take 30 seconds after address before hitting a putt. During that time, Jack would glance at the hole eight or nine times, maddeningly lengthening the time between each successive glance, like Chinese water torture.

 

That rant aside, I’ll finish on a positive note, observing that Lee Buck Trevino was also a pioneer in Speedgolf. In preparing for Muirfield in 1972, Lee wanted to get fit and trim and also hone his instinctual game. Good friend Orville Moody found an out-of-the-way course in Texas where he could do this.

 

Cameron Morfit of Golf Magazine recounts the scenario:

Camp Killeen opened at first light. The superintendent's daughter drove Trevino's cart, and although she was deaf, she could read lips, and they worked out a routine. Trevino would hit his shot, hand her the club, and sprint to the ball, where she would be waiting with his clubs. Run. Point. Shoot. Repeat. "She could understand me," Trevino says. "She became a friend of the family, a friend of the kids—beautiful girl. I'd break into a dead run between shots. I wouldn't jog. I'd run. That's where I got my exercise."

 

In a few years I can compete in the 50+ division of the Speedgolf Championship. This year’s winner was David Harding of Oregon who carded a 89 in 54:11. That’s something to shoot for.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand narrative, package design intelligence and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 


Send to a friend
0 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  


 
MyPhillyGolf.com
  About MyPhillyGolf
  The Traveling Golfer
  Blog Archives
  Photos
  Reviews
Special Features
  Advertise with Us
  Course Finder
Links to Other Golf Sites
  EWGA- Philadelphia
  Schedules
  European Tour
  GAP
  USGA
   © 2017 MyPhillyGolf.com All Rights Reserved
   Privacy Policy | Terms of UseDeveloped by AppNet Solutions