PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS
9th at Ravens Claw 
Opens and closed cases
Monday, June 22, 2015
By Ron Romanik

Mission: Your guide to the totally spurious, mildly ridiculous, and terribly ironic in golf.

 

Not so ridiculous: It seems the anticipated carnage at Chambers Bay has been disappointing to some. So far, no one has been carried off on a stretcher or bled out on the course. Yes, it’s different. Maybe, it’s fun to watch. But no, there’s really no justification or precedent to change the par number on holes during the tournament.

 

Totally spurious: Donald Trump’s run for President. Instead of holding up his financial summary sheet during his announcement, I wish he had held up his USGA handicap summary. That would be more telling of his character, and illustrate his commitment to transparency more immediately. As it turns out, he doesn’t post many scores. He shows 3.0 index, but has only two posted scores for 2015; only seven posts for all of 2014, and only nine for the three years from 2011-2013. I’m a 10, and I, in the spirit of full disclosure, formally challenge him to a match on any course at any time, straight up. (With a USGA official present, of course.)

 

Pennsylvania Pride: Looking forward to volunteering at the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club. According to a Global Golf Post article by Joe Juliano, the community is embracing the championship, with volunteers and fans alike excited about the event. Of course, Lancaster is a William Flynn design, so it will always rank in the upper echelon of PA courses in my humble estimation.

 

Slippery slope-ish: I came across an odd way to describe Tiger Woods in a Michael Bamberger article recently... "single father." I wondered who might have started this absurd informal moniker, so I did a quick search with that Google thingy. It seems that Alan Shipnuck may have been the first on record in 2011, followed by Bamberger in 2013. The phrase has recently gained momentum with Golf Digest’s Cameron Morfit, AP’s Doug Ferguson, and Bamberger each dropping the descriptive label earlier this year. Gentlemen: Please think of the many connotations and implications of the phrase "single mother." Do any of those apply to Tiger?

 

Fox Sports watch: As I mentioned earlier, Fox has tried some crazy things with sports broadcasting over the years, so I’m watching closely for any egregious or Sacreligeous bending of the time/space continuum. I did notice a questionable gratuitous use of a fish-eye lens Thursday night, but that is only borderline egregious. I’ll be watching closely, though.

 

Revisiting ridiculous: Steve Williams opens up to Golf Digest about a few things, and recounts the moments leading up to Tiger’s improbably holed chip at Augusta’s 16th hole. He claims Tiger hit his aiming point—a faint ball mark the size of a dime—from 20 feet on the fly out of a tough lie. Impressive, to be sure. But still the best part of that moment was Verne Lundquist’s call: "In your life!!..."

 

ICYMI: Bubba sinks a ridiculously long putt at Chambers Bay with his back to the hole.

 

Pulling for: Dustin Johnson. Not because of his heroic return from whatever his recent struggles were, but because of the way he let three other majors slip through his fingers a few years back.

 

Private hole of the week: LedgeRock’s diabolical par-four 17th hole. After a position tee shot that rewards playing chicken with a creek down the left side of the landing area, the hole climbs neck-strainingly up a dogleg left to a shelf green. Often, you’re left with a 200-yard uphill shot that feels like 230.

 

Public hole of the week: Raven’s Claw’s perilous par-four 9th hole. A similarly dangerous dogleg, this one to the right. A creek also comes into play—twice—and you’ll want to take a club-and-a-half more than the yardage for your approach shot to sliver-thin target of a green.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

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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6th hole at Merion West: Bausch Collection: 
USGA and FOX Sports: A match made in...
Saturday, May 16, 2015
By Ron Romanik

USGA and FOX Sports: A marriage made...

 

Mission: Your guide to the totally spurious, mildly ridiculous, and terribly ironic in golf.

 

Totally ridiculous: Birdieing No. 17 at Sawgrass three times in a row. Does not compute. Rickie, I never thought you were overrated. I swear. Four top-5 finishes in four 2014 majors. You’ve got game, for sure.

 

Mildly ironic: Ian James Poulter tweeting: "I'm not sure people understand ‪@twitter. If you don't like what people say, Press unfollow & you don't have to read their shit again ‪#simple". I’m not sure Poulter understands #media. If you're a #celebrity and you tweet something #snarky, the media will report it as #scandalous, and we will have to read it. #wearetherealvictims.

 

Mostly spurious: "The New DJ" cover story in Golf Digest. Conde Nast is moving that magazine closer and closer to a Vanity-Fair-lite tabloid. Now if only they could get an expose about the Kennedys or Marilyn Monroe in every issue, then they’d have something...

 

Because I can’t help myself:  I swore off ranting because it's a tired Internet genre, but I have to allow myself this venting. I fear for the future of our country, of the founding principles the Fathers of our Country fought for, for one reason. Because Fox Sports might ruin all of sports before they are through. I'm not saying they are the devil incarnate. Not quite.

 

And I'm not saying the end is nigh, though there is evidence. All that I'm saying is that FOX Sports tries drastic measures to "save" TV ratings. And the USGA has a self-esteem issue they over-compensate for by trying desperately to be liked.

 

From time to time, I find it amusing to imagine the conversation inside certain rooms in history. Times when some very persuasive people said: "Everything will be fine, trust me." Like when Bill Gates said to IBM executives: "You do the hardware, and we'll do the software. Everything will be fine, trust me."

 

Or when Henry the VIII said to his wives to convince her to marry him: "You'll produce me a male heir and everything will be fine." (Of course, there may have been no conversation at all. Those were different times.)

 

Or when MTV said to the NFL: "We'll take care of the halftime show, and you won't need to lift a finger. Isn’t that ideal for you? We’ll make sure nothing goes wrong."

 

Or when FOX said to the USGA: "We'll grow the game for you by adding excitement to golf. We've done it before, trust us."

 

Well let's go to the evidence before the court. Fox has introduced some "innovations" that may have attracted casual sports fans, but most often annoyed loyal fans of the sport they were innovating on. Does everyone remember the glowing puck in hockey? And again, why do robots play football? And yes, the "Pointer Box" will make an appearance at the U.S. Open, it appears.

 

Granted, some FOX innovations help viewers learn more about what is going on during a live event. But some are sneaky. I caught them messing with live video during a baseball game some years ago. They were trying a little trick to extend the brief moment the pitcher was pitching the ball.

 

As the pitcher started his pitching motion toward the plate, the control room would switch to another angle with a slight delay, meaning there was a split-second when you saw the same moment in time twice, just from different angles. I guess this extended the moment of anticipation for the viewers. Or that’s what FOX thought. Most didn’t notice this little trick. FOX, be warned, I’ll be watching closely.

 

Probably scandalous: "Sloped" tee boxes at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, among other oddities, as reported by the Washington Post.

 

ICYMI: Philadelphia native Johnny McDermott deserves to be in the World Golf Hall of Fame, as argued by both Jeff Silverman in the GAP Magazine and Jeff Neuman in Links Magazine. Johnny won back-to-back U.S. Opens, after all.

 

Private hole of the week: No. 6 on Merion West. You can’t get much more downhill than this short par-three. You know it’s steep when you can’t see the lower half of the steps leading down from the tee. You’ll never have a longer hang time with a pitching wedge in your hand. But take time to notice how the green is pretty much a mirror image of No. 9 on the East Course.

 

Public hole of the week: Broad Run No. 17. Another severe drop from tee to green on a par-three. This time 100 feet, usually with a crosswind from right to left. Aim for the right front with a draw and try to ride the wind to the center of the green... and good luck!

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

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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No. 4 at Iron Valley 
Masters short shots
Friday, April 10, 2015
By Ron Romanik

Mission: Your guide to the totally spurious, mildly ridiculous, and terribly ironic in golf.

 

Always ridiculous: The spotless condition of Augusta National. Oh yeah.... and the difficulty. Insane.

 

Also always ridiculous: How insanely, unbelievably good the top pros are. As insanely difficult as Augusta National is, when these guys are "on," it just doesn’t matter. Time to introduce moving obstacles, I guess.

 

Prediction: But... Thursday’s round proves that if you give these guys soft greens, it’s dart-playing time. The weekend will be fun to see how close to unplayable they will make the greens. Augusta will mete out her revenge.

 

Mostly spurious: A new excuse from Tiger... green speeds. Too slow, no less.

 

Almost ironic: Tiger’s forlorn short game is back, which everyone thought was in his head. Trying to predict what’s in his head is a fool’s errand. What’s actually in his head, no one will ever know.

 

Not-so-ridiculous: The idea that Tiger should retire. It’s not that he’s no longer any good; it’s that he’ll never again be what he was. Do it for your fans, Tiger. It’s like watching an undercard fight just because you have to sit through it. But then there’s no Main Event afterward. It’s an empty feeling.

 

Oddly suspicious: The prices at The Masters concession stand. Only $1.50 for a Pimento Cheese sandwich? How do they make any money?

 

Totally inspiring: Tom Watson, 65, shoots 71. C’mon, Tom, shoot your age already! Slacker.

 

Pulling for: The Big Easy. Hard to believe Els doesn’t own at least one green jacket already.

 

ICYMI: Phil Mickelson loses a clubhead on a fairway bunker shot two weeks ago.

 

Augusta caddie memories: The Masters preview edition of Golf Magazine includes an article that recounts favorite anecdotes from Carl Jackson, Ben Crenshaw’s long-time Masters caddie. Many are funny in a "Wow-those-were-different-times" way, and some are just precious nuggets of mischievousness. Of course, I always relish an anecdote that illustrates Gary Player’s arrogance. Mr. Jackson claims that particular Achilles’ heel cost Player the 1970 Masters with a poor club selection on the approach to the 72nd hole. Another great story is Hogan, at 56, outdriving Nicklaus, at 27, by 15 yards on number 10 with wily local knowledge and a low running draw.

 

Private hole of the week: Philadelphia Country Club’s fifth hole is a short, downhill par-three over water. A nine-iron in your hand doesn’t make it an easy shot, and the green has a menacing hump through the center to make two-putts less than a sure thing.

 

Public hole of the week: Iron Valley’s 4th hole is still one of the funnest holes ever constructed. From the tee, it’s benign. But the second shot is a severely downhill shot off a slightly downhill lie. To go for the par-5 in two, you usually need a 210-yard shot over the corner of the lake that was formed by filling in a long-abandoned mine shaft. Just plain fun.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

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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Broad Run GC, No. 13 (Bausch Collection) 
Risks, Rewards and Ridiculousnesses
Sunday, March 22, 2015
By Ron Romanik

Risks, Rewards, and Ridiculousnesses

 

Mission: Your guide to the totally spurious, mildly ridiculous, and terribly ironic in golf.

 

Totally spurious: The PGA’s lack of transparency in its drug testing policy and its suspension policy. Not that we need to know what drug Dustin Johnson was caught using. Or I guess I should say: Not that we didn’t already know what drug....

 

Criminally torturous: The 10th hole at Riviera. Geoff Shackelford got it right after Thursday’s round. No 310-yard hole should have a 4.21 stroke average. Ever. And no tour pro should be humiliated by hitting out of four greenside bunkers on the same hole. And ICYMI: Video of Ryan Moore very nearly acing No. 10, but instead missing the green.

 

More than mildly ridiculous: What’s most galling is when the tournament committee and greens staff claim to be victims of circumstance. The drought! The drought! There’s really nothing we could have done differently! Really?

Infographic: Riviera No. 10 and the myth of the virtue of laying up.

 

More statistics on golf performance: Here’s one gem of an observation in a series of golf articles titled "Moneygolf" published a few years back over at Slate.com. One passage debunks an un-truism that golf announcers and analysts have been repeating for decades:

 

"[Golf researcher Mark Broadie] also pokes a hole in another piece of conventional golf wisdom. Many good golfers have a distance from the green where they feel most comfortable hitting approach shots—perhaps they like to hit a 9-iron from 120 yards. So, on a par 5, if they can't reach the green in two, they will often hit their second shot into that comfort zone, the strategy being that it's better to groove a 9-iron than to sweat over a 40-yard wedge. Broadie has found that the "comfort zone" feeling doesn't hold up. Everybody gets better—they hit it closer—when they are closer to the green."

 

Are you a risk-taker?: Take this questionnaire and get yourself rated.

Mildly ironic academic study: If you really want to go down the rabbit hole about how risk averse PGA players really are, read this summation of an academic study published in the online investment advice website AlphaArchtitect.com.

 

Promoting: One thing Golf Digest has been doing well lately is their "undercover" articles. Though the Hungover Caddie series was a failed experiment, they just did a decent one-off with an undercover cart girl. But their Undercover Pro series is the best. The March 2015 edition reveals what really motivates Tour Players. And it’s not majors, or honor.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

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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Jeffersonville GC 
Dreaming of warmer days...
Sunday, February 15, 2015
By Ron Romanik

 

Mission: Your biweekly guide to the totally spurious, mildly ridiculous, and terribly ironic in golf.

 

Just a lot of quick hits this edition to catch up...

 

Back: From a Winter Hiatus, eager to get on the course. It’s mildly ironic that the urge to golf is highest when the ground is white.

 

Promoting: Philadelphia Golf Show in Oaks. Who knows how the prices are so low, but why complain? And a demo range let’s you try before you buy. Open through 5 p.m. on Sunday. Here’s a "Stage Schedule."

 

USGA diss of the week: Merion has to be "Put Back". This is Merion...not good enough for the USGA. Merion. Any changes should have been permanent or not made at all.

 

Last Bubba reference for a while: When thinking about how Bubba Watson’s front foot often moves quite a bit during a full swing, I was reminded of Johnny Miller’s footwork during his prime. Of course, Tiger in his prime popped his left leg violently as well, which, it seems, clears the left side completely so the clubhead can travel down the line for the maximum amount of time.

 

Infographic: How Rory gets is power and distance. Not a tall man, after all.

 

Terribly Ironic: Lance Armstrong, in a Golf Digest Interview, can’t even explain the concept of integrity when trying to make a point about integrity: "I love adhering to a code of honor that we in cycling didn't have. If I moved my ball in the rough and got caught, I wouldn't just regret it, I'd be heartbroken forever." It’s only bad if you get caught, you see.

 

Mildly spurious conundrum: If a Feherty interview can make me like Donald Trump for an hour, should I be suspicious about the real life behavior and demeanor of all the guests he makes look good?

 

ICYMI: A baby bear dancing with a golf flag on a green.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

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.

 

(Photo from Dan Husted’s Fall Photo Essay)


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18th at Radley Run (Bausch Collection) 
The 11th coming of Tiger and the USGA’s misstep of the month
Saturday, December 6, 2014
By Ron Romanik

The eleventh coming of Tiger: Yes, he’s back. Yes, the swing looks good. But he will never be free of health issues while he plays. In this Vine Video, watch how he’s still popping that left leg. His left foot slides and turns its position on the ground.

 

Tiger’s first coming: Tiger was not impressed with his performance at the 1997 Masters, as reported in Golf Digest later that year, and recalled in this Tweet from Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey. Tiger said he "got away with murder" and saw "10 flaws in his swing" after watching the entire televised tournament on tape.

 

Dan Jenkins doubling down: Jenkins breaks his Twitter silence Thursday with a passing jab at Tiger’s first round performance at his invitational tournament, then swings and shanks another "fake" article about the Ryder Cup Task Force proceedings. Dan, sometimes picking out a target aloft in the sky cures the shanks.

 

USGA misstep of the month: Geoff Shackelford reported that the USGA has ruled out a convenient train stop at Chambers Bay during this year’s U.S. Open. Once again, ticket-buying patrons will have to endure an interminable shuttle bus ride, this time 17 miles.

 

Private Hole of the Week: Radley Run’s finishing hole is one of the best in the Philadelphia region. But hard, every step of the way. To have a legitimate shot at par on this long par four dogleg left, you have to carry 250 yards to a fairway that slopes away from where you want to go. The second shot, even with a mid-iron, is no bargain either, uphill to a shelf green. And there’s plenty of fun to be had on the green to avoid a three-putt.

 

Public Hole of the Week: The second hole at Pilgrim’s Oak, in southern Lancaster County, also plays long with a frustrating driving area. If you get up to the crest of the ridge, you’ll have a mid-iron approach to a raised green that looks like it has no depth. Aim for the middle and take your par, and feel lucky for that.

 

Non-golf pointer of the week: I caught an episode of "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" recently that was actually compelling. It’s hard to believe it’s really "In Depth" if it’s only 20 minutes of program, especially when he splits the time between two guests. But in this episode with doping cyclists Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, they reveal how astoundingly different superstardom is. Landis explains how Lance Armstrong was virtually untouchable, flouting airport security rules with abandon. Landis admits: "The rules, as much as [Lance] didn’t believe they applied to him, really most of the time didn’t apply to him."

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

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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Dan Jenkins shanks one into the Woods
Monday, November 24, 2014
By Ron Romanik

 

Dan Jenkins shanks one into the Woods: After a satirical fake interview with an imaginary Tiger appeared in Golf Digest, long-respected golf writer Dan Jenkins needs a mulligan in the worst way. If you missed the original article, I’ll save you time: Don’t bother. There’s just no getting around the fact that the fake interview is falls flat as satire, regardless of whether you think it is funny or not—or whether it rings true or not. Satire is tricky business, I concede, but it seldom works as mere character assassination.

 

More enjoyable reading, for the unnecessarily flamboyant prose, are Tiger’s written angry response, and the letter from his agent to Golf Digest. Ever defiant, Jenkins Tweeted on Nov. 18: "My next column for Tiger: defining parody and satire. I thought I let him off easy." Study those definitions carefully, Dan, because you’re still missing the point. If your goal was merely to insult a person, as your tweet confirms, then you succeeded. Next time, have a loftier goal.

 

Confucius says: Try to hit mulligan ball first.

 

In Case You Missed It: Rory duffed one the other day. In his defense, it looked like a slightly awkward stance and a wet lie. But Rory’s been digging his swing out of the dirt, judging by his calluses.

 

Obligatory Tiger comparison: Tiger dropkicked the ball once. Once. Probably only once. Ever. (Not counting his Dan Jenkins response.)

 

Which reminds me: The worst shot I ever saw on TV has to be a fairway wood shot by the notoriously gifted short game wizard Brad Faxon. From my memory, it was a three-wood shot off an uphill lie, and Faxon stone cold topped it, the first bounce a mere 30 yards ahead of the strike. No need to dwell on that, except that Faxon also fits into this week’s theme of self-righteous personalities.

 

Random observation: Who is left to carry the rebel torch of shoulder-length hair now that both Rickie Fowler and Charley Hoffman have gone "under the scissors"? And where’s that truth-to-power-spokesman Frank Lickliter when you need him? And how does a guy like Lickliter go 62-62 in the pressure-packed first two rounds of Q-School one year and fail to keep his card the next? A fickle game indeed.

 

Non-Golf Item Pointer: If you missed the Lenny Dykstra interview by 97.5’s Mike Missanelli earlier this year, do yourself a favor and click it. Lenny is quite open about his life and mistakes, but the most interesting parts are when explains how he approached the game with every possible angle scrutinized for exploitation. One of my favorite parts is when he explains how he made pitchers work for every out and extend the pitch count. As a leadoff hitter, this gives valuable information to your teammates right off the bat, so to speak, and, after all, Dykstra explains, "The first two strikes are yours."

 

Private Hole: Hole No. 11 at Philadelphia Country Club is a medium-length par-three of about 170 yards with a green that sits like an ornamental shelf in the hill behind it. The green is relatively flat, but relatively shallow, so positioning yourself below the hole is critical for a birdie chance. Trepidation on the tee comes mostly from judging the distance and picking the correct stick to land comfortably pin-high.

 

Public Hole: Another hole that plays much harder than the first perception from the tee is the par-three 4th hole at Cobbs Creek. The short, flat hole is fraught with peril, both physical and psychological. There’s something about the visual impression that makes committing to a shot feel too much like a guessing game.

 

Prediction Update I: No sooner did I remark that Bubba Watson is the most exciting golfer on Tour than he won the World Golf Championship in Shanghai in the most exciting fashion possible. Bubba holed a long, miracle eagle bunker shot to get into a playoff, then birdied the same hole a few minutes later to close it out.

 

Prediction update II: Michelle Wie is bringing it home. I predicted a breakout year for Wie back in February. With a U.S. Open win and a Rolex Annika Major Award under her white belt (or white sans-a-belt slacks), she’s in a virtual tie for the lead with Stacy Lewis for the women’s version of the FedEx Cup heading into the weekend of the LPGA Tour Championship.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

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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