Mr. Nicklaus, Please Fix Your 16th Hole

The Memorial Tournament is one of the premier events on the PGA Tour.   I remember when Muirfield Village Golf Club opened.  The golf world looked anxiously upon the roll out of Mr. Nicklaus’ finest work, one that would host the Tour’s top players.  Most understood the exclusive layout in Dublin, Ohio would become the “Northern Masters.”  Several aspects from the first major played in April would be weaved into culture of the Memorial.  It’s worked very well for Mr. Nicklaus and his committee of grey jackets. Except for perhaps one thing.  The sixteenth hole is a puzzle that seemingly can’t be solved.
Is it coincidence that Augusta National Golf Club finishes par 5 (15), par 3 (16), par 4 (17) and par 4 (18) as does Muirfield Village?  Keep looking.  There are more commonalities the two clubs share.  But when it comes down to Sunday’s final round to determine a champion, Augusta National’s sixteenth is the superior hole.
For the avid golf fan it’s easy to remember the forty foot putt Nicklaus drained on his way to his fifth Masters title in 1975.  Move ahead to ‘86 when Jack nearly holed his tee shot to secure his record sixth Masters.  Tiger generated a frenzy with his epic “Nike” hole out from behind the green to edge Chris DiMarco in 2005.  Knowledgable viewers however know that Davis Love executed the same shot a few years earlier in 1999 although he did not go on to win the tournament.  Love did make a hole-in-one there in 2016.
There are other iconic moments from sixteen that have entertained patrons, determined the champion or derailed contenders from capturing a green jacket.  The venue is a par three thrill ride.  Virtually anything can take place to shape the tournament.  Seating fills up quickly n the idyllic setting with its emerald carpet, stately pines and tranquil pond.  The Sunday pin placement is always the same, allowing a well played shot to negotiate the slope dissecting the putting surface feeding the ball to the hole.  It is the best theater available late on an April Sunday afternoon.  Some might say it’s “masterful.”
For everything the sixteenth has at ANGC, Muirfield Village’s sixteenth has no drama, no nostalgia, and while the players may be reluctant to tell the tournament host they hate the hole, it’s easy to tell they, well… ok, they hate the hole.  Except for Tiger’s insane hole out in 2012 I can’t think of any notable shots that have occurred there.
Last year the decision was made to redo the hole allowing the green to be more receptive.  The tees were shifted, a bunker removed and the green complex softened a bit.  Watching the proceedings this afternoon I saw nothing that captivated my viewing experience.  Scheffler and Morikawa, with eight irons in hand steered their shots to the right side of the green complex, neither hitting the green, walking away a combined one over par.  Had Scheffler not holed a tricky thirteen foot putt the leaders would have both bogied the “improved” hole.
Some might recall the original offering lacked the pond.  It was rather nondescript par three with a deep bunker fronting an elevated green.  I wouldn’t say it was a bad hole.  It just didn’t have much of a wow factor.
When the pond was introduced you had a feeling the designer was attempting to conjure some of the fond memories he created in Georgia.  But his efforts in Ohio have come up short.  When the world’s best players, with eight irons in their hands, opt to play away from the flag in one of the finest tournaments on the PGA Tour, that says something.  A good hole should offer an inviting challenge.  Yet at the sixteenth hole of Jack’s place the invites are sorely lacking.
The man is the greatest player the game has known.  He is one of the finest course designers on the planet.  His impact off the course has benefitted so many worthy causes.  Above all his devotion and love of family is unsurpassed.  It’s hard to imagine the game of golf and life without Jack Nicklaus.  He is committed to putting his best foot forward on every occasion.
Next year marks the fiftieth playing of the Memorial.  I have never attended the tournament but would love to take in the experience.  As good as it looks on TV I can only imagine how special it is in person, especially if the host figures out his sixteenth hole.

My Golf Wish For 2024

As the new year is ushered in you will witness things that will be truly unprecedented. Everything will enter and hopefully survive a state of flux and that’s just in the game of golf.

Adding more distance to golf’s discovery my wish is some of the things that matter to me (and others as well) aren’t forgotten. With another year passing however, it seems these connections to golf’s past are disappearing.  For every level of player having some knowledge of golf’s history and traditions is not a bad thing.

Professional golf is certainly at the forefront of adding to the history. Amateur golf also will be affected by recent rules adaptations scripted by the R&A and USGA. Fresh ideas allowing more access to the game are being formulated. Since Covid golf is ironically in a healthy environment. New players are entering the game for a variety of reasons. There are worse things one can do with their time outdoors.

Eyes are on the PGA Tour and the Saudi PIF. They’re seeking a strategy to pump more money into golf by joining forces. Players benefit. The talking heads putting together such deals benefit more. Not sure where these negotiations are going.

In addition, making golf appeal to a new audience, a generation that seems to care more about who the beverage cart girl is and smash factor stats is paramount. LIV has attempted to lure fans that fall asleep when “Hello Friends” is uttered. Loud music, shotgun starts, team competition and an unlimited budget is here to stay much to the dismay of traditionalists. Throw in TopGolf, Tiger and Rory’s Indoor Sim League, Popstroke, there are a bunch of outlets for every level of golfer. Funny how golf allows for the “to each their own” experience.

Despite the differences in players of all ages golf still has appeal at all levels of play. You don’t have to be a snooty golf historian to enjoy the game. Just be open for a reference regardless of how insignificant it may seem.

This coming year I wish for meaningful historical accomplishments to be kept alive. Traditions matter in golf. At least they have since the days of Old Tom Morris. I suspect some reading this might wonder if this person is related to the founder of Bass Pro Shops. Thank goodness for Google.

As we negotiate the fairways in 2024 here are some highlights I hope are kept alive.

For those not quite up to speed on golf history, I commend you for reading this far. (Remember, Google can help.)

I wish to remember:

* Old Tom Morris and his devotion to competition, course design and club making.

* Young Tom Morris and his four Open Championships.

* Francis Ouimet and his US Open miracle at The Country Club.

* Walter Hagen’s eleven majors including five PGA Championships and four Open Championships.

* Bobby Jone’s Grand Slam.

* Byron Nelson’s 11 consecutive PGA Tour wins.

* Ben Hogan’s Triple Crown in 1953.

* Arnold Palmer’s improbable 1960 US Open victory at Cherry Hills.

* Jack Nicklaus’ US Open playoff victory over Palmer at Oakmont.

* Lee Trevino’s 1971 US Open playoff win over Nicklaus at Merion.

* Johnny Miller’s epic final round 63 at Oakmont in 1973.

* Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus’s 1977 “Duel In The Sun” at Turnberry.

* Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters triumph.

* Curtis Strange’s back to back US Open wins in 1988 & 1989.

* David Duval firing a 59 to win the ’99 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

* The Tiger Slam.

Certainly there are more occasions to recall. Besides the accomplishments on the fairways let’s look at Equipment and Apparel Trends:


Equipment Advancements

Steel shafts replacing wooden shafts

Gene Sarazen’s introduction of the sand wedge

Muscle back irons and Persimmon woods

Wound golf balls

Forged irons giving way to investment cast irons


Composite shafts

Solid golf balls

46″ drivers


Specific brands and items that changed the game:

Wright & Ditson clubs

The Featherie, Guttie and Haskel golf balls

Spalding clubs, the Dot & Top Flite balls

Po-Do balls

Dunlap Maxfli

Titleist golf balls, 80, 90, 100 compression

MacGregor woods — Eye-O-Matic, Tourney, Tommy Armour

Wilson Staff irons, woods, balls, Sandy Andy, R-90

H&B Power-Bilt Citation woods

Northwestern and Delta Golf

Ben Hogan clubs, Apex shafts, Equalizer, Sure Out, Sun Jet golf bags

Ping Eye 2 irons, the Anser putter

Taylor Made Original One Driver

Callaway Big Bertha



Golf shoes — with kiltes, metal spikes, corfam

Plus Fours

Hogan caps

Sansabelt slacks

Izod, Pickering, Aureus shirts

Hard collars

Mock turtlenecks

Alpaca sweaters


FootJoy Classics

White belts

There’s plenty to digest but also plenty more out there. Regardless of your position in the game chances are you will come across one of these references. Just in doing so makes you a part of the game. It may not tweak your interest to take a deep dive into golf’s past but merely swimming along the surface allows one to play it as it lies so to speak. My hope is for one to simply share a connection to the past in order to appreciate what golf brings us in the present.

So as 2023 closes shop I wish everyone a happy, peaceful, prosperous new year. I also wish that you’ll take the opportunity to appreciate, respect and pass on a piece of golf wisdom that matters to you. It will matter to someone else too.






Adios Golf Channel

Since its inception in 1995, the Golf Channel (or simply GOLF) has driven the game into the cushioned sectionals of avid fans.  One of the first television ventures to focus on an individual sport, it set a precedent for what is available for all fans today.  Sadly, the channel has eroded over the years since NBC took it under its wing.

Today’s content is not as vibrant as the past.  Many of the former shows have disappeared along with the on air talent.  GOLF is now just a venue for tournament golf, much of which doesn’t occur in prime time, along with a drawn out talk show, GOLF Today.  The coverage of major tournaments is worthy of a watch but overall today’s product ain’t what it used to be.

NBC’s introduction of Peacock along with moving their offices from Orlando to a hotbed of golf – Stamford, CT, served as the writing on the wall for GOLF’s demise.  Recently it was announced the web page would be absorbed into the NBC Sports site.  It’s obvious as the demographics from eighteen years ago have changed, younger generations don’t want to sit around and watch golf at designated times.

It all makes sense money-wise.  Why pump dollars into a viewing portal nobody cares to watch? Televised coverage of golf is boring on many fronts.  Graphics and shot tracers have added some appeal but the commentators telling the story don’t connect.  When a player misses a putt it’s painful when the person behind the mic says,”he missed the putt.”  Golf broadcasts overstate the obvious in triplicate. Something has to improve for all of the networks.

The things I prefer to watch are the behind-the-scenes stories of players, caddies, teachers and others engaged in the sport.  But producing shows takes time and money.  The only viewers ate diehard boomers like myself that enjoy the discovery of professional golfers actually being real people.  Feherty’s sit downs were solid.  In the beginning Peter Kessler did a wonderful job with his guests.

I also tolerate some of the instruction even if a shapely female in tight shorts is absent.  Michael Breed’s departure didn’t help matters.  His enthusiasm and dynamic delivery engaged his viewers.  Now Martin Hall is left to fill the void.  Martin knows golf but his style often puts me to sleep.  If he came on at 10:00 pm it would serve me better.

In truth there just isn’t that much at GOLF to hold my interest except during the majors.  Those Live From shows cover all the bases with interesting content.  Tournament coverage focuses on a few players with putting seeming to dominate telecasts. To be honest I’ve been watching ESPN+ coverage of  a group’s complete round.  Every shot is shown.  You can see how players handle their emotions in four and a half hours.  It’s a refreshing perspective.

I’m not sure how the contracts with the various tours were devised.  I would bet once they come up for renewal you’ll see NBC send all of its golf to Peacock.  Prime coverage will revert back to the network.  Although I have seen Peacock sandwich coverage with NBC and GOLF.  It’s a remote nightmare having to flip to three channels for one event.

The future does look bleak for the dream of Gibbs and Palmer.  Yet they hit it at the right time and made history with their presentation of one sport.  The days of Rich Lerner spinning one of his essays along with Brandel pouring gas on a smoldering fire are coming to an end.  In a time when you can watch whatever you please on demand, well who needs niche channels?

It was good while it lasted.  The initial heydays were GOLF’s best days.  But all good things must come to an end.  In the future if you see a Peacock wearing a bucket hat with a carry bag draped on its shoulder don’t be surprised.





When Intuition Transcends Analytics

When it comes to golf what should you rely on most — intuition or analytics?

At no point in time has golf had the diagnostic resources it commands today.  Every aspect of a player’s swing can be exposed.  Every aspect can be compared & analyzed.  The ultimate question is if all of this techno voodoo trumps a player’s intuition as it pertains to learning.

The question can be answered in a myriad of ways.  It seems as player’s age their appetite for analytics increases.  Kids are great imitators.  Demonstrate the golf swing for them and they’ll stand up and often swing their club without a problem.  As a result they don’t ask a bunch of questions as to how they should swing. They just make it happen.

Adults tend to venture into the how and why arena.  They also dive into the “what did I do wrong” pool. Ahhh, so many misdirected questions.

Eventually something has to give once a player walks to the first tee.  Again, kids just play.  They don’t want a checklist running through their minds.  See it, hit it, find it, repeat.  It’s that simple.

The playing process fir an adult is usually more complex.  An errant shot leads to questions which in turn leads to analytics, checklists, perceived corrections leading to a busy mind.  There are enough physical distractions on a golf course to deal with.  Add a mind that is constantly searching for answers rather than paying attention to the playing process, we know the result.  This type of golf is a mess.

It is often said the hardest move in golf is from the practice tee to the first tee.  Players dragging their analytics behind them as they prepare to tee it are at a disadvantage.  After a solid round players often say their mind wasn’t preoccupied with a bunch of thoughts.  They’re in “kid-mode.”  See it, hit it, find it. They rely on their intuition as well as what they see.  Good players know what to focus on.  They play the game which is simply get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible.

Intuition always plays the most important role on the course.  Sure, analytics matter.  Experienced players know how to balance the two.  The best environment for learning is the golf course.  I remember good shots I’ve executed on the course.  That’s not the case on the practice tee.

If your goal is to improve your game, trust your eyes and your intuition.  If you only want to improve your swing, feel free to digest all of the analytics available.  Good luck with that most important move in golf.



Will The Masters LIV And Let LIV?

The world of professional golf along with the impact of the LIV Tour on invitees for the 2023 majors is now front and center.  With the Masters first up to bat, all ears awaited any utterance by Masters Tournament Chairman Fred Ridley.  Certainly whatever decision came down from ANGC would impact the other three majors as well as professional golf as a whole.

Ridley delivered a statement saying he would allow LIV players into the 2023 field as long as they met the Tournament’s qualifications, albeit reluctantly, based on the tone of his delivery.  Professional golf has now become as polarizing as politics.  You either like the new upstart league or you hate it with an old school passion.  It’s easy to tell the National’s membership is not keen on the developments of the new Saudi golf league and particularly Greg Norman and his actions.  Yet at this point in time the prudent, safe, decision has been made.  Let them play and let’s see if this new tour gathers momentum or collapses as Norman did in 1996.

Fans will question whether certain LIV players may skip the event due to fractured relationships with other PGA Tour players.  I believe everyone from the Saudi circuit will show.  It’s a chance to showcase their new gig to a massive television audience from around the world.  They can promote their tour to every viable sports media outlet on the planet.  But not so fast, my friend.  You can bet Ridley and his Tournament Committee will be in complete control of what is asked, said, written and broadcasted.  They’ll stand behind their standard line — we don’t want to detract from the Tournament.

The one player Ridley will have to reign in is of course Mickelson.  Phil’s never afraid to say what’s on his mind.  Its gotten him in trouble a few times but don’t be surprised if there is a very short leash around Lefty’s neck with it in the hands of Ridley.  Again the standard line in Phil’s press conference will be — I’m just here to talk about the Tournament.

As for the patrons you may also assume any derogatory comments or actions towards LIV players will be handled swiftly.  Confiscate the badge, escort the patron to the exit.  You know there will be a few folks sporting LIV gear but that will probably be the extent of any outward displays of support.  The CBS cameras will take extra precautions with the images they’re transmitting.  Remember, CBS has a one year contract with ANGC.  It’s been that way for years.  One slip up and it could be “Goodbye friends…”

However I do believe there is something patrons can do who don’t identify with the LIV Tour and what it stands for.  Simply don’t acknowledge or applaud those players.  Patrons have a right to express themselves in a manner conducive to the ideals of the Masters Tournament.  They can choose to applaud for any player they wish.

Finally, Ridley’s statement included this caveat:

“As we have said in the past, we look at every aspect of the Tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria for future Tournaments will be announced in April.”

You can bet the golf world will be holding it’s breath until then with much speculation about the 2024 Masters.  It makes the lengthening of the thirteenth hole a sidelight.  You thought I forgot about that new aspect for 2023.

Merry Christmas my friends…




Golf Changes Under Covid-19



In 1979 Gary Adams took out a second mortgage to invest in his concept of a metal headed driver. He began producing TaylorMade “Original One” drivers with 12 degrees of loft in McHenry, Illinois. His idea changed the game. Oh my, how it changed the game.

Through its long and storied history golf has seen its share of drastic changes. Equipment developments, rules changes, course design, agronomy practices and facility management all have put their stamp on the game. Recently the USGA and R&A introduced a revised edition of the Rules of Golf in order to make it simpler and perhaps more friendly to play. Equipment continues to evolve, stealing the headlines from most golf publications. Instruction has latched onto the latest technology in order to educate players and instill improvement.

Now a new, yet much different change has come to the fairways in the guise of COVID-19, a respiratory flu-like ailment that is highly contagious and more importantly, life threatening.

All of us have followed the progress of this virus throughout the world. It has come on quickly, resulting in countries adopting practices that may slow the spread. Elderly, at-risk individuals appear to be the hardest hit segments of the population. Media reports sprinkle stories of the tragic loss of life related to C-19. Numbers and statistics barrage us every day. It’s difficult to decipher their intent. The attempts to flatten the curve of infection may be slowing it some but it comes at a cost. People are self quarantined in their homes and most employers have taken measures to lay off workers. Gatherings are not allowed. The virus has shut down every extra-curricular activity known to us. Sports at every level have been suspended.

This virus has and will continue to impact our lives. Many don’t venture out unless it’s for groceries or medication. Stores are closed. Streets are eerily quiet, much like the environment after 9-11. To call this a change seems to be an understatement. Change doesn’t seem to be a strong enough descriptive.

While I realize there are several other issues that come to the forefront of this virus, this is a golf column. Life has changed and so to, once again golf has changed perhaps in a way we never thought possible.  In all likelihood it may never be the game we knew in years past.

Currently most courses in the US have been closed. Those that are open operate under limited provisions encouraging social distancing and limited contact with common items such as flagsticks and putting cups. Carts are designated as “one player only” modes of transportation. Some are still able to play but it’s not the way it used to be.

With every sport shelved for the present time it’s hard to imagine a MLB game being played in a fan filled stadium anytime soon. Can you see the NFL playing their exhibition games in front of packed stands in August? The US Open in August, especially in New York, seems a bit of a stretch. All of these possibilities are contingent on the safety of all involved. The virus could die out. However, It could also come back stronger than before.

Regardless of what side of the fence you’re peeking over, there is no predicable end to this environment. Obviously I’d like this thing to go away so we could get back to the things we used to do, off and on the golf course. Yet this challenge is likely to define a new normal, one that limits interaction among people and ultimately changes the world socially, economically and medically. We have to be able to face up to these coming changes. Should it not happen I guess you can say at least we were prepared.

The near term looks restrictive. Much like the best advice for golfers, play one shot at a time, we need to take this pandemic one day at a time. The natural reaction is to have this virus 100% under control before resuming normal activities. Silly statement really. What aspect of our lives is 100% under control?

I feel bad for many of the senior players I’ve met and played with over the years. Some have other medical conditions that would be exposed if they were to contract COVID-19. These guys are the salt-of-the-earth players you often find on the fairways. My life has been enriched by engaging with them in dollar Nassaus or fifty cent point games. Their backgrounds and anecdotes are priceless, especially surrounded by a few beers. Good people and good times I hope I’ll be able to enjoy again.

As we look for certainty, there is only one. Our world and golf has changed 180 degrees. What will it look like in 6 months or a year is anyone’s guess.

In order to play and love this game one needs to experience golf’s undeniable attraction. It is demanding, it challenges, instills patience, defines character, teaches perseverance, and in so many other ways it is beyond what words can describe. Only those who have cradled a club in their hands, walked across dew-swept fairways at dawn, interacted with others needling and laughing their way around 18 holes, or felt the magical contact flow up the shaft into the arms and into one’s mind can appreciate golf’s allure. It is up to those of us who have done so to continue to further this game as we walk into the future.

There will be better days ahead and rounds to be played.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.



GAPP — Golf Assimilation Play Process

In order to play a complete game you need to discover GAPP.  Best described as “game-fitting,” GAPP compliments every aspect of a golfer’s pursuit to optimize their play. 

Since the game was invented players have chased a myriad of ways to improve their performance.  Through equipment development, the improvement in playing conditions as well as better instructional techniques today’s golfers play a vastly different game than their ancestors.  But is it reflected in better scoring?  Does today’s personal experience exceed or fall short of expectations?

Let’s look at playing conditions past and present.  Byron Nelson once quipped the greatest technological advancement in his day was the lawn mower.  Granted, if you watch films of players from yesteryear the greens were likely not as smooth as the teeboxes at one of today’s public tracks.  The conditions we play on today are exceptional compared to only fifty years ago.  Fairway drainage is optimized,  grasses and their nutritional needs are better understood, design techniques appeal to golfers of all ability levels while green speeds can run the gamut of fair to US Open ridiculous.  The last point illustrates how precise a superintendent can tweak his layout.  Obviously maintaining a course for the masses is a bit different than preparing a course for a major championship.  Yet it’s easy to say we’re playing on vastly improved conditions today than we were several years ago.   

Equipment has taken a quantum leap from the old hickory shafts and razor thin forged heads Old Tom Morris employed.  Golf balls have gone from pouches stuffed with feathers to projectiles that now fly 300+ yards.  Everything is better.  Every aspect can be fitted to individual preferences.  In a way, you can’t blame your equipment any longer. 

Today’s game is about speed apparently.  Open any golf periodical and the ads jump off the page.

 “Artificial Intelligence and Real Ball Speed.”  “Stop Steering.  Start Driving Faster.”  “Speed Injected.”  “SpeedBack.”

You can match the claims with the manufacturer. 

Connecting speed with lower scores is somewhat of an ethereal challenge.  Sure, speed leads to distance but distance can come in a variety of patterns.  Straight is usually better.  Consistency at times is sacrificed with the distance dispersions.  

I have a problem with golf companies inferring the transitive property of equality  with their clubs.  Remember, if a=b and b=c then a=c?  Can that be applied to if speed = distance and distance = lower scores, then speed = lower scores?  Can we make that assumption based on the middle premise?  Will distance lead to lower scores?  In some cases yes.  Universally, no.

It’s understandable that equipment manufacturers could care less in lowering your scores.  They want to sell clubs.  They want a player to pick up their driver, pound it into oblivion, granting the swinger a SportsCenter moment, and walk away with the cash.  “I hit it 325… into the penalty area.  Damn, it felt great!”

Today’s instruction is also light years ahead of anything that came out of the twentieth century.  There is virtually no aspect of a player’s swing that can’t be technologically analyzed.  Machines that used to formulate how to get a man on the moon now tell you if you squat enough on your downswing. 

I understand that change is inevitable but the one thing that has not changed in 500+ years is the primary goal of a player is to get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible.  Nor will this ever change in my mind.  If it does it will no longer be golf.

I feel we have veered away from teaching the one vital principle crucial to golf — how to play it.  We’ve shifted our focus to the technological wizardry that has take a simple game and turned into a maddening science.  It is about speed.  It is about maxing out measurements that won’t fit in the boxes on a scorecard.  Perhaps we’re approaching the point where we tell a student if they can’t achieve the desired swing statistics they should go buy a boat.  It’s impossible for them to have fun with an unconventional swing, old clubs and no speed.  Sound hysterical?  I tend to think not. 

As we move forward (supposedly) with golf instruction in this century, we are missing that vital principle I mentioned earlier.  There is a way to make today’s player better.  Even if they discover their best set of fitted clubs, absorb themselves in Trackman, commit to a physical training regimen that rivals Dustin Johnson, they  can do one more thing.  Players can discover their GAPP — Golf Assimilation Play Process.

Club fitting, ball fitting, fitness fit-ing, we’re all trying to FIT the peg in the hole.  GAPP is game fitting.  It is the part of the puzzle that FITS YOUR GAME TO THE GOLF COURSE.  GAPP examines a variety of aspects that make up a player’s game plus their tendencies and translates them into the optimum play process.   It is the final step in any instructional process.  It teaches a player how to play the game thus optimizing the golf experience.   

I can jump into a NASCAR simulator, max out all the numbers, but it’s doubtful you could put me on the track at Daytona and expect me to win.  There are too many variables that enter the equation.  GAPP interprets those variables for each individual.  

The best thing about GAPP is does not conflict with a  player pursuing any other methods of instruction.  Changing a swing?  Have at it.  Searching for speed?  Go as fast as you’d like.  Want that set of PXG’s?  Pull out your wallet.  When you’re done with all of that, find your GAPP.

For more information, go to



A few years ago I wrote a letter to Mark Murphy, President of the Green Bay Packers. My aim was to offer a program to his players and in effect the NFL introducing golf as a life option. He did contact me and indicated he would refer my thoughts to his Director of Player Development.

My reason for contacting the Packers was multi-faceted. First of all I doubted they had ever been approached on this level before. Football players and golf? Sure, a few guys around the league played the game. More and more were being introduced to it through their friends. Yet most players had no clue as to what the game was about. They probably saw it as an elitist endeavor, played by wealthy white guys. Where was the appeal in that?

I wanted to introduce new options through golf.  I wanted players to see the game as a viable tool that could help them in different ways. Golf has been an influential force throughout my life. Sharing some of those examples with Packers players and hopefully players of other teams might improve lives after football. If just one player could benefit, my efforts would be well worth it.

Many of us know the average tenure in the NFL is a little over three years. Players leaving the league need to find employment for their future. It is also known that from time to time players have also been involved on the wrong side of the law with their behavior. Every year we hear reports of players arrested for various reasons. Football is challenging between the hash marks. It may be even more so off the field.  Golf could help players better manage their down time.

Let’s face facts, life is about options. The more you have the better off you’ll be. For young men who have breathed football their entire lives it’s easy to understand they only see a life in the game. Every player views themselves as having a long career, no injuries, plenty of cash, record stats, and one day being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Yet there are very few Aaron Rodgers around. As I said prior, the average career of a player is 3+ years. That likely will take most of them from the age of 22 to 25. What do they do after age 25?

My effort would focus on illustrating the benefits this option (golf) could add to their lives. When they find themselves out of football what connections will they have to move on to that next stage? While they’ve been absorbed in their sport, how many influential people have they gotten to know? How many relationships have they developed with business people outside of football? Have their egos even allowed them to consider that the day will come when they will not be on the field? This is where options kick in. Having more than the other guy is key.

Lots of people play golf. Business owners play golf. The golf fraternity is packed with connections (and options). Imagine the potential of meeting new people through golf — people that are able and in many cases willing to help young football players who are no longer in the game. All it takes is a bit of education about golf and more importantly, the conviction to get up from the PlayStation and head out to the golf course.

In addition golf could be a great player activity for teams to interact with one another. I’m not tech savvy but I’m sure each NFL team could afford to purchase a few simulators for their training facilities. Network these devices to one another and you could have a Packers/Bears match up on the simulated short grass. Play matches with other teams week to week and watch the competitive juices flow. You’d eventually see players picking up the game while working towards improvement.

Golf is also the game of a lifetime. What other sport can you play well into your eighties? The benefits of being outside with others helps add to that quality of life we seek as we age. Golf offers so many different opportunities and benefits it would be hard to start listing them here.

Golf Digest recently came out with an article highlighting athletes from various sports who have taken to golf. Do you think when these players leave their respective sports they’ll be able to use golf as a viable option for aiding their future?  It’s not what you know, it’s who you know applies to the golf community.

I did manage to meet with the Packers on a few occasions. In the end scheduling became a problem. We were looking to add my presentation to their rookie orientation. Apparently the league added a few other mandatory programs that bumped me. Soon after the Director I met with left his position. As of now the Packers don’t have golf as an option.

At the end of this season I will resubmit my proposal to the Packers. Right now they’re absorbed with a head coaching search.  Make no mistake, golf is an option that not only this team can benefit from, but the entire league. That is as solid as a Tiger Woods’ tee shot splitting the uprights from three hundred yards.










Kohler Golf Abandoned by PGA, USGA

I’m sure like most golf fans last weekend your TV’s were tuned into Jack’s Memorial Tournament as well as the Women’s US Open. Two solid layouts tested the game’s best. Even Tiger Woods made a splash on Saturday. I also wanted to see a bit of Shoal Creek once again.

What I scratched my head about was the earlier date for the Women’s Open. It took me by surprise. Usually this event takes place in late June, early July. Obviously I was unaware they moved this championship up in their calendar year. I’m not sure if this is a permanent change or simply a one time switch. Either way, one man has to also be scratching his noggin too with these date moves.

Herb Kohler, the man that turned a plumbing company into a serious player in the golf industry, might be wondering what he needs to do to catch a break. You might recall last year the PGA announced a move of their championship from August to May beginning in 2019. This decision basically eliminated Kohler from hosting a PGA major championship ever again. The Ryder Cup is coming in 2020 but after that the future of tournament golf coming to the Wisconsin shores of Lake Michigan looks bleak.

It can be argued such a move is indicative of golf’s Me-Too movement. Previous dates of Women’s US Opens and Men’s PGA Championships have been conducted in the middle months of summer. These dates often eliminated southern venues from hosting tournaments due to heat, course conditions and the potential to draw fans out to watch players in 95 degree heat. Sure, it was a bit warm at Shoal Creek last week, damp too. But going forward this won’t deter the USGA from changing their minds.

The PGA has previously contested it’s flagship event in Atlanta, Tulsa, Charlotte, and this year will travel to St Louis. I’ve played in August down in St Louis — it’s brutally hot at times. If the heat doesn’t get you the humidity will. Yet with the money and fame that goes along with winning a major championship today’s players would tee it up in hell if they could get the greens fast enough. Still, it pays to select sights that are conducive to weather and the other factors I mentioned.

Getting back to Kohler, he has hosted events conducted by the PGA and the USGA. He’s welcomed men and women, as well as PGA Club Professionals to his venues, Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits. The events attracted record crowds, turned Sheboygan County into the golf capital of the world for a week and displayed the wonderful facilities and products Kohler offers. This television exposure subsequently brought players to the region for the ultimate golf vacation. You might argue the facility doesn’t need any more airing. Knowledgeable players know all about the four Pete Dye courses and the exceptional lodging available. But if you know Herb Kohler he likes the spotlight, specifically the golf spotlight. The prospect of being shut out of future tournaments opportunities, especially major championships, has to gnaw at him.

Wisconsin has enjoyed being on a major stage since 2004. Last year’s US Open brought the premier major (US Open) back to the Midwest. Unfortunately the low scores probably disturbed the USGA. They want a week of stringent conditions with scores close to par. Erin Hills had plenty of room but lacked in challenge.

For the good of the game it will be beneficial for USGA and PGA to take their championships to new locales. From a selfish standpoint I’ll miss the convenience of going to watch a major that is close by.   Prominent sites in Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit will likely never see another PGA Championship or Women’s US Open.   However I’ll eventually warm to seeing new layouts, watching the players negotiate their games around these courses and perhaps getting the opportunity to go play some of them.

Herb Kohler has done much to promote golf in Wisconsin. Securing three PGA Championships and a Ryder Cup is a quite remarkable. Golf fans in the Badger State should tip their caps for his efforts. Yet, tournament golf is an amoeba. It gradually changes shapes and forms. Schedules and venues will continually be altered. This will continue due to various reasons, the most prominent one being money.

Will Wisconsin’s future include major championships?  Many up here hope so. Your guess is as good as mine. Either way the one thing I’ll have in common with Herb Kohler is both of us will be scratching our heads over the recent schedule changes by the PGA and USGA.  Hopefully a major will find it’s way back to Wisconsin, specifically Kohler.  For what he’s done Herb deserves that accommodation.




Visionary Golf Breakthrough For 2018!

As the calendar flips to a new year, I’m excited to bring you the most visionary, cutting edge breakthrough in golf instruction. With recent technological tools brought to the game, the advancement of equipment, plus proven physical training programs, being able to play at the highest level is now achievable. Imagine cutting strokes off your game, hitting the ball longer, while draining putts from every conceivable distance. It’s happening and it’s happening RIGHT NOW! Let me show you how.

Have you ever read or watched a video proclaiming many of the aforementioned claims? Sure you have. With the start of another year you’re about to be inundated with them again. As you sit on your couch watching the PGA Tour kick things off in Hawaii, you’ll wonder what you can do to up your game this season. A new driver, that sure fire swing aid being splashed in the commercial slots, the incredible one time offer at your local fitness center or perhaps the advanced golf training curriculum being offered at your local medical center can bring improvement.  Let’s face it.  It’s better than doing nothing.  But if you think there is something new out there, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There is not.

Golf, for one thing, is the most difficult game in the world. You can debate this but in the back of your mind you know it’s true. There are no perfect games, ultimate score (I guess you could rationalize 18 as the apex), or fool proof methods available to make you play your best every day. If there were one way to play (not swing), every player would pursue it. Yet because golf is an individual game made up of players of all shapes and sizes, personalities and analytical processes, one size does not fit all.

The one absolute in golf is getting the clubhead on the back of the ball with as much speed as needed combined with a square clubface aimed at the target. That is it, final, game over. It’s that fundamental.

However, when it comes to instruction, the acronym of “more is better” seemingly goes a long way these days . Analysis, categorization, investigation, experimentation, interpretation, print outs, video, Trackman numbers, you conceive it, some teacher is out there conjuring ways of introducing it while charging you for it. Does it do Bill, a 17 handicapper who plays twice a week, any good to compare him to Jordan Spieth’s swing or T’man numbers?  You could argue it might persuade Bill to buy a boat and sell his clubs in his next garage sale. How can he possibly achieve the same movement or stats? All that does is show Bill a comparison. Here is the best in the world and you’re not close.  Great incentive?  You tell me.

There is no question golfers know more about what they’re not doing than perhaps what they need to do at this point in time. Players can access some form of technology that records every conceivable aspect of their game. Tour players know where they excel as well as what needs attention. But that is their livelihood, their bread and butter. They need to focus on details. Most of us don’t.

It is advantageous to know the weak areas of your game. It’s important to know the distances you hit your clubs. You can benefit from relying on your tendencies plus your imagination. Working on visualization and feel is vital. Consistency is an ongoing battle.  But if you’re looking for a shortcut, an easier way to improve, your search will prove exhausting. Unfortunately that realization may dissuade some from taking up the game. On the other hand, those looking for an activity where you meet great people, can laugh at yourself on occasion, enjoy the outdoors, be encouraged by small increments of improvement and embrace the challenge, well this game might be for you.

History tells us, for those who care to delve into it, instructional methods are based on proper fundamentals. Ernest Jones, George Low, Tommy Armour, Percy Boomer, Claude Harmon Sr., Jack Grout, Jim Flick, and countless others taught the players of past generations.  While their approaches may have differed, their ideas are still being taught today. They’ve been dusted off, polished and introduced with new “techno” packaging but they are still the same ideals. Any instructor with a thesaurus can make Ernest Jones’ method sound like the newest revelation in teaching.  I agree there are new ways of interpreting swings and being able to dissect them on infinite levels but in the end, does that help the average player shoot lower scores?

My primary concern and certainly that of PurePlayGolf is whether instructors are actually teaching golfers how to play the game in these modern times. I’ve discussed this at length and won’t bore you with it here. If you should happen to visit one of these “voodoo” instructors, after they give you all of your Trackman numbers and video comparisons to Dustin Johnson, ask them what their strategy is for improving your play. I’ll bet you’ll get a funny look.

Ultimately the revolutionary breakthrough in golf instruction for 2018 is apparent –there isn’t one.  Here’s a hint.  There won’t be one for 2019 either.