PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS
Ron Romanik 
 
Fatherís Day gift ideas
Monday, June 2, 2014
By Ron Romanik

What to get the golfer who has everything? Silly, useless knickknacks of course.

Luckily for everyone, one man has taken on the responsibility to collect links to every "Ridiculous Golf Item" he can find.

 

From the bizarre to the sublime, these items can clearly identify you as a golf fanatic, or just someone who likes to have a little fun, or someone who is just plain "off." Whether or not you wish to advertise to your boss where golf is on your priority list with a desktop golf curio is a separate issue you have to decide for yourself. Or, if you’re the gift giver, it might be a clever way to embarrass a golfer who would be compelled to actually use, say, a golf-bag-and-pull-cart golf-club pen set just because you gave it to them.

 

I have read that one of the fastest and easiest ways to endear yourself to a new colleague, acquaintance, or friend is to be self-deprecating. Golf, it turns out, provides countless opportunities for this, both on the course and off. These fun golf gift items add yet another layer to that noble life goal. Of course, constant self-deprecation can make you look pitiful, so beware of that fine line.

 

So, some of the items I’ve added to my Amazon Wish List are trays for making golf ball ice balls, a golf ball/golf club salt and pepper set, and a nylon golf ball spatula.

 

And if you’re a Caddyshack aficionado... yes, naked lady tees are a reality. You can also buy a Judge Smails fedora hat ("Looks good on you, though.") or an orange Bushwood CC baseball-style hat like Danny Noonan wore.

 

I already own one of these orange hats. And it’s good quality. But if you’re wondering... no, I haven’t had the courage to actually wear it on the course yet. It’s like wearing a bow tie on TV. Only a small percentage of the population can pull it off with style or grace.

 

The excuse I tell myself for not wearing the Bushwood hat is that it still looks too new, too bright orange, and too obvious. It’s a Catch-22: You have to wear it so it will look worn, but you don’t want to wear it and look obvious. Maybe I’ll run it over with my car a few dozen times or leave it out in the sun for a month.

 

So, I bought the hat in an effort not to take myself too seriously, and be endearingly self-deprecating. But I still can’t help but wonder if fellow golfers would see it as an innocent act of self-deprecation or a pitiful ploy for self-attention.

 

I imagine this is an ongoing internal struggle for many (or maybe not). Whereas I’m frequently self-deprecating on the course, both during idle teebox chatter and during my pitiful short game, in golf attire I’m much more conservative.

 

On second thought, in honor of Payne Stewart’s win at Pinehurst 15 years ago, I’m going to get me some tartan plus fours. I’ve toyed with the idea for decades, and now is the time. But you already know... whether I’ll actually wear them is a completely separate—and extremely heart-wrenching—moral dilemma.

 

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.


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Ron Romanik 
Golf Digest jumps the Shark
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
By Ron Romanik

 

 

No, not "The Shark." The euphemistic shark expression is aimed at the redesigned and repositioned Golf Digest debuting in the June 2014 issue.

 

In recent months, Golf Digest has been edging toward an edgier tone, daring itself to follow through on its slogan promise of "Think Young, Play Hard," introduced over two years ago. But with the current issue, the magazine has fully committed to a new voice, a new attitude, and—one might deduce—a new audience.

 

That’s where this initiative gets dicey. If there were a resurgence of interest in the game among Millennials, for instance, this attitude adjustment might make sense. I’ve heard little buzz of this youthful sea change, nor seen any compelling data, but I might be out of the loop, so to speak.

 

Having been founding Editor-in-Chief of several magazines, I certainly appreciate the delicate balance between developing a strong voice and adapting with the times. Above all, though, a magazine’s voice must remain authentic. It is not authentic, for instance, if you have to ask yourself, or explain yourself, in your own magazine, time after time, why a certain person is on the cover.

 

In the current print issue, the Golf Digest editors ask "What’s Jimmy Fallon doing on my cover?" at the end of the Editor’s Letter (p. 24), almost hidden, in small, light green type, in the bottom right of the page. That is the headline that formally introduces the philosophy behind the material realization of the "Think Hard, Play Young" slogan. Sorry, reverse those.

 

But the "my" in this headline is not the projected reader; it is the personified magazine itself, as the New Golf Digest speaks to readers from the first person. A bit presumptuous, maybe?

 

He or she proceeds to some up his or her philosophies of golf and life in 140 words. As he or she reintroduces himself or herself, he or she turns out to be a complicated conundrum of contradictions, positing, for instance: "I like old U.S. Open venues but still enjoy my golf on a simulator." (Since this print introduction is not online but I find it interesting and amusing enough to "get" or "assess" the new Golf Digest, the complete text appears at the end of this post.)

 

In danger of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy (I swear, I’m not! I admire what mags like Golf Punk are trying to do!), I have to say that I already miss the authentic, authoritative tone of the old Golf Digest. Sure, it was a bit stuffy at times, but it was at least self-aware enough to acknowledge that fact with knowing, proverbial winks to the reader when appropriate.

 

But I’ll let you decide for yourself by listing here just a few objective, objectionable observations on the current June Issue:

 

  Camouflage patterns on golf clothing occur in two different parts of the issue. First on golf pants of Billy Horschel’s swing analysis spread, and then on two pair of shorts and a shirt (not together, thank God!) in a fashion spread titled: "Rock This."

 

-- A bare woman’s derriere. No, not Kate’s or Paulina’s. It appears in a full-page ad on page 23, for those keeping score at home.

 

-- This sentence appears in the magazine ("Ask Golf Digest"; page 80) about finding your ball out of bounds: "With rare exceptions, nobody goes back and reloads." Bad enough, yes. But even worse, there is also no accompanying encouragement to play provisional balls when in doubt.

 

-- One suggestion to revive your love of the game: "Listen to music while you play." Which, I suppose, goes well with the article in the June issue that would be least likely to appear in the "old" Golf Digest...

 

-- "Where There’s Smoke": An immersive study about smoking pot on the golf course. I grant that one welcome side effect of this trend would be the promotion of early evening golf, because, as the saying goes, it’s always 4:20 somewhere.

 

 

An obvious turn at this juncture would be to quote Bob Dylan, and I’m not above that, so there’s this apt snippet from "Ballad of a Thin Man": "Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is. Do you, Conde Nast?"

 

Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde’s online "defense" of the new Golf Digest sounds desperate. You’re really not authentic when your explanation of why Jimmy Fallon is on the cover is "because he’s cool and golf is cool." And if Mr. Tarde believes that the new direction of the magazine makes Golf Digest "more surprising," well, it’s a tall order to be continually surprising month after month. Keep believing you can hit a 300-yard drive, under the right conditions. But you’re probably trying too hard.

 

Regardless of all my ranting, it comes down to the voice. To me, as anti-establishment as I am in my mind, Golf Digest always represented the establishment in some of the best ways. It was golf’s paternal conscience, to a degree. That was its role to play, and it often fulfilled its duty with elegant aplomb.

 

I could forgive many of old Golf Digest’s faults, because they were predictable and rooted in history and tradition. The magazine was an authority with a consistent level of integrity, and more than any of its competitors. That doesn’t mean that the integrity always led down righteous paths. There are infinite shades of gray in what constitutes "what’s best for the game of golf," and many opinions deserve to be heard, but integrity can be its own reward.

 

I already miss the exhaustive major tournament previews, the hand wringing over minor changes in the game, and the historical perspective that informed many articles. Golf is a game that is always enriched by looking to the past. I will have to find these articles elsewhere now.

 

There are many, many more observations that I could make about the design elements of the new Golf Digest, the length and depth of editorial content, and the compromises that publishers must make with advertisers these days. And these observations would not all be negative, by all means.

 

However, one sin that compelled me to cancel a magazine subscription previously is when a dramatic redesign made the editorial look and feel far too much like the ads on the opposite page. Having the two pages look distinctly different does not necessarily reduce the eye-time on the ads, as Conde Nast seems to believe. In fact, making them look the same may have the opposite effect—that the reader suspects neither the ad nor the editorial on a two-page spread are worth closer inspection, and quickly moves on.

 

To end on a positive note, I do like the new stencil-type Golf Digest banner logo. And I mean it. I admire design that blends modern and traditional seamlessly. If only the rest of the magazine could follow through on that promise.

 

Here’s the print "Introduction" to the "New Golf Digest":

The mantra for Golf Digest is Think Young, Play Hard. With our redesign of the June issue, that spirit comes to every page. I’m taken with the way youth, surprise, humor, edginess, innovation and athleticism can energize the game. I love 18 or 36 holes but sometimes have only 30 or 90 minutes. I like old U.S. Open venues but still enjoy my golf on a simulator. I want the right to wear cargo shorts, but frankly I’m into performance apparel. Love my smartphone because it lets me escape the office, can’t stand guys who make phone calls on-course. Life is all about my buddies and me, trying to play better and trash talking like Tiger and Duf. State of the art doesn’t equal stodgy. It also doesn’t ignore sexy—as Arnie taught us. Welcome to the new Golf Digest.

 

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.

 

Bonus: What was your favorite Golf Digest logo design? Check out some of them in the Golf Digest "Cover Gallery" of celebrities through the years.


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Ron Romanik 
The Players postpartum. Is it really that exciting?
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
By Ron Romanik

 

Every year after The Players, I consider the tournament’s merits and its place in the pantheon of great tournaments, just for fun. I really want to know why the hype seems to overshoot the reality in retrospect.

 

It’s fitting that TPC Sawgrass is the PGA headquarters, because the closing three holes is the prototype for PGA Tour stops nowadays. Lots of water on the closing holes makes for "dramatic" finishes. Even Doral didn’t have enough water before 2014.

 

Of course, The Players is exciting. It has all that water. And excitement is what TV is all about. Fine.

 

Yes, there have been some great shots, chips, and putts under pressure that have won The Players tournament. Fine.

 

Sure, it has one of the best fields by purely world rankings criteria. That makes it competitive. Fine.

 

But when I think back from a Monday armchair quarterback position, all I can remember are three holes. It’s like the first 15 holes are just window dressing. Or a pregame show.

 

I’ve been watching golf on TV for 40 years now. I can describe the nuances of almost every hole at Merion, Olympic, Augusta, Oakmont, St. Andrews, Muirfield, Muirfield Village. But, at this very moment, I can’t tell you anything about holes 1-15 at Sawgrass. As soon as the week is over, those holes fade out of memory. Or, more accurately, those holes get jumbled up in my memory to become indistinct.

 

(To be completely honest, the par-three 13th is one that I have begun to find memorable in the last few years. So, let’s say 14 of 18 holes fade out of memory.)

 

I challenge you: Without looking up the scorecard, describe the nuances of the 10th hole at Sawgrass. Now describe the nuances of the 10th hole at Augusta. Exactly my point.

 

Just my personal taste, but give me more "interesting" holes instead of "exciting" holes and "dramatic" finishes.

 

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.


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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.

 


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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.


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Ron Romanik 
More íconsí than íprosí 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.


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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.


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