PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS
18th at Lancaster CC (USGA photo) 
 
On the course Thursday at Women’s Open
Friday, July 10, 2015
By Ron Romanik

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

 

The Open greens: The primary strategic advantage at Lancaster Country Club this week is having the patience, ability, and nerve to position approach shots below the hole. As much to provide a better chance at birdie, but more to prevent those dastardly three-putts.

 

The length: The listed yardage for Thursday was 6,353, about 130 yards shy of the "maximum" for the week, just FYI. The USGA does show some mercy, occasionally, particularly on #18, which was about 20 yards short of its maximum.

 

A little drama: Volunteer marshaling on the par-five 13th hole has been fun so far this week. The ladies are polite and professional across the board, almost to a fault. However, it was off-duty on the same hole that I was involved the most "drama." I had the distinct displeasure of having to signal to Jessica Korda, 150 yards back down the fairway, that her third shot ended up out-of-bounds. Only four inches OB, but OB nonetheless.

 

The toughest: As predicted and even with the tees up a little, #18 was the toughest hole on the day, averaging 4.5 strokes per competitor. I think the USGA was looking for a Merion-esque finishing hole, and they’ve got it. In the afternoon, #18 was playing into the wind, as was #14, and both with uphill landing areas. Yet it was amazing to watch how these ladies were still able to get their drives on these holes well "up" the fairway on the fly.

 

The easiest?: Only two holes played under par—the par-three 6th (2.9 stroke average) and the short par-four 16th (3.978).

 

The old guard: The timeless Laura Davies, at 51 years young, shoots an even-par 70 with two birdies and two bogeys. Oh yeah, and top thirty in driving distance on the day. We’re pulling for you to add to your 85 worldwide win tally, Laura.

 

A "Wie" bit off target: Don’t count Lady Michelle out so quickly. On the cut line Thursday, but I’m not worried. Well, maybe a little.

 

New sleeper pick: Since my original "not-so-sleeper" pick, Suzann Pettersen, played herself out of the tourney early, I’m going with the yet-unproven-in-majors Pernilla Lindberg. Scandinavia will rise yet again!

 

Front-runner pick: Amy Yang had an amazing seven birdies on Thursday, finishing at three-under. I would be shocked if she isn’t on the first page of the leaderboard come the back nine on Sunday.

 

Not-so-bold prediction: Look for the course to play tougher on the weekend. The USGA always tightens the screws on Saturday and Sunday, and I’m sure the greens will get slicker and the pins will be harder to find.

 

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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Michelle Wie (USGA photo) 
Lancaster CC will shine this week
Thursday, July 9, 2015
By Ron Romanik

Friday Flops and Fliers

 

 

Lancaster CC Will Shine This Week

 

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

 

The design: Spectators should come to Lancaster Country Club for the sole reason of seeing a truly classic layout in pristine condition. William Flynn is the artist that crafted this gem, among many other classic Pennsylvania layouts. Flynn adds an extra level of grandeur to a site and to nearly every shot around the course. It’s pure Golf with a capital G—and no gimmicks.

 

The condition: Fairways and greens are perfection—not as hard and fast as the USGA would like, obviously, because of a wet June. But the fairways couldn’t be easier to hit down and through and take a nice divot. The flip side of that is that there will be very little roll on many shots, and the course will play longer than its listed yardage.

 

The length: Sometimes the listed length of a course is "padded" as the tees are often moved around from day to day. I don’t think the USGA is going to shorten the course too much on any of the days, however. And there are more than a few holes where the landing area is uphill (almost no roll) and there are also a number of holes with sharp doglegs.

 

Some numbers: Average age of competitors – 25.1 years; First-time players – 52; Amateurs – 25; Consecutive par-fours to start the front nine – 5; Par-fours over 400 yards on the back nine – 4.

 

Slow and straight: As has been said many times before, watching the ladies swing a club in person offers renewed perspective on effortless power. It also offers a renewed appreciation of how, in their game and in the average amateur’s game, straight and steady is the name of the game.

 

Spectator tip: There are three areas where three greens and three tee boxes converge—at the clubhouse, behind No. 1 green, and behind No. 10 green.

I feel for the ladies: If the hills and swales and demanding golf—and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune—of the first 17 holes hasn’t deadened the spirit of players, having to finish on the 18th might be the proverbial straw. This long, uphill par-four with a devilish green will see more than its share of bogies. Many players will be hitting hybrids or fairway metals to an unreceptive, treacherous green with a false front.

 

Not-so-sleeper pick: Suzann Pettersen has been in the hunt nearly every week the past few years. She has the length, the strength, and the steely nerve to navigate this tough test.

 

Not-so-bold prediction: Don’t be surprised if the winning score is over par. Two-over 282 is my guess.

 

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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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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