“Vijay Singh received a favorable ruling in his lawsuit against the PGA Tour when a judge allowed his complaint that he was treated differently from other players under the tour’s anti-doping policy… The tour is the only major sports league in America that does not announce how it punishes its players for violations, such as bad conduct. Even when John Daly told The Associated Press in 2008 that he had been suspended for six months for his conduct, the tour would not confirm it.” AP 2.18.15

Vijay Singh’s deer antler suit proceeds. Will the PGA soon lose all discretion in the face of our endless need to know everything?

Boston Haiku in February


Snow drifts to six feet.

Pebble Beach golf on TV

Without my marker.

Here’s the thing about Tiger Woods’ decision to take a break from tournament golf.

No one knows anything.  I repeat—no one know anything about Tiger’s inner life, his outer life, or the real source of his problems on the course.

The NY Times today urged him to have more fun on the course.  Over the next several weeks, other experts and non-experts will weigh in with their diagnoses and treatment recommendations.  All of it will be speculative and all of it will reflect some fantasy or projection on the part of the writer.

How ‘bout:  “Tiger should go to Hawaii and swim with the dolphins who will show him how to play,” or “Tiger should volunteer to be an astronaut because from the vantage point of outer space he’ll see how inconsequential winning a golf tournament really is,” or “His coach has screwed up his head—he needs to trust himself.”  Or, “Tiger needs to spend more time with his kids, his friends, his dentist, his caddy, the guys who tend his golf course, or Johnny Miller.”  I think that everyone should STFU and be patient and see what happens, trusting the fact that Tiger isn’t psychotic or retarded and might know better than us what he needs.

“SAN DIEGO — For the third time in his past nine tournaments, Tiger Woods has withdrawn with a back injury. ESPN”

Storytellers of fantasy tales recount a distant past of dragons and wizards. Such is the passing of Tiger. Age and injury are not to be denied. Nor are the wages of sin. The rest of us, like the laborers who continue to plow their muddy fields, accept the passing of an age of magic. We know the glimpse of the extraordinary that we once witnessed is receding in the mists, gone forever. Or perhaps somewhere an unknown boy or girl is even now drawing the sword from the rock.

“The PGA Tour banned players from tossing items to fans at golf’s rowdiest hole, the 16th at the Phoenix Open. “A fan in public seating in a mad scramble to get a hat is going to hurt himself, or land on top of another person,” said Andy Pazder, the tour’s chief of operations. The tournament is scheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 1.”

It seems sad that the PGA Tour would set up a Roman Coliseum in Phoenix only to grow faint at the cannibalistic bacchanal that they went to so much trouble to establish. How better to make the case that the Gentleman’s Game is played by Real Men (and Real Women) than to inspire murderous frenzies over golf apparel? It would make more sense to elevate the tee box and toss players with bad shots into the mosh pit. Has nobody seen Suddenly Last Summer? When Sebastian resisted throwing items to the fans they had him for lunch. He never had a chance to call a penalty on himself.

Dozens of articles show how to hit off sidehill lies. But yet zero public ranges can simulate such lies. Remind me-how should I practice these?

I’d like to impose a 2 minute rule on amateurs looking for a lost ball and a 25 second rule for putting. The 5 minute allowance for Tour players who have lost their ball shouldn’t apply to a weekend player. It’s as if stomping around in bushes and high grass for 5 minutes significantly improves one’s chances of finding a lost ball. It doesn’t and the people in your foursome helping you are likely muttering to themselves, “why doesn’t he just drop one?!” The other practice that pisses me off and delays the game occurs on the putting green where some people thing they’re putting for the U.S. Open Championship rather than a $5 Nassau. Regardless of whether you’re “away,” you should be sizing up your putt, determining the line and, thus, when it’s your turn, you can just take one more careful look, put your ball down, take one practice stroke and putt the damn ball.

In the Business section of the NY Times in August 14, 2014, an article appeared titled Golf Resorts Change Course to Attract Younger Generation. Seems that younger people aren’t flocking to the links any more. In 2013, only 22% of travelers under 33 played golf when they stayed at a resort, compared with 42 % of baby boomers.

“Resorts are pondering that question, too, making changes that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago, adding speakers to golf carts and Wi-Fi access on the course, building high-tech training centers and miniature golf putting courses, and peppering corporate golf events with tangentially related activities like using golf clubs to hit marshmallows or throwing Frisbees around the course.”

Always ahead of the pack, the Ritz-Carlton recently opened a training center in Naples, including equipment like 3-D cameras that turn the user into an avatar.

Avatars on smart phones. I can’t wait for the future.

Johnny Miller’s “brush-brush” drill is, by his own account, his single best golf tip. Here’s the tip: Use the toe of your club to make a line in the grass, then set up centered over the line. Make a half swing and try to brush the grass on the target side of the line—not a huge divot, just a slight brush—then repeat. I do it twice in a row, because it instills a good rhythm: “brush-brush.” This drill should result in tour-style impact.

The reason this is a dumb tip is because it presumes that practicing a good mechanic on one’s practice swing makes it more likely you’ll use that same swing when you’re over a ball. Golf teacher Fred Shoemaker has filmed probably 10,000 golfers of all abilities and has repeatedly found the opposite to be true. For mid to high-handicap golfers, the presence of the ball radically alters the swing and results in poor mechanics.

So “brush brush” your way around the course. Just don’t expect your score to change.

I have a very good friend who has been known to shout “F…. Jesus!” when he misses a putt. I worry that some day I might be in a foursome with Jesus and, boy, would that be embarrassing.

Golf magazines survive on enticing golfers with “tips” that promise to improve their games. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. I’ll admit that I’m one of these readers. Most tips don’t work for most people, of course. I recently found one that seemed especially absurd. It was called “Blast Bunker Shots to Tap-in Range.” And who wouldn’t want to be able to do that!

Two problems. First, the author suggests that the golfer judge the distance between the bunker ball and pin, but practice a swing that he/she would use from the fairway at three times this distance.

Whoa! Finally, a mathematical formula that I can relate to! Or, uh..maybe not.   First of all, I’m not a pro with a repeatable 10, 20, 30, and 40 yard swing. Sometimes I hit the ball a tiny bit fat or thin, or swing a little too fast or slow. So, that calculation is out the window. But more important, I’m not such a low handicapper that I can reliably enter the sand with my club at the exactly correct angle and the exactly correct distance behind the ball. The slightest variation in these two things significantly affects the distance the ball travels.

Put it all together and you have another rather silly promise made by golf magazines to desperate golfers.

Ever heard of the pre-shot routine “SFT?” It means “see, feel, and trust.” See the shot. Take practice swing of the sort that will produce a successful shot. And then trust your club, swing, and ability. Oh, and then stay in the moment.

O.K. Now, for the average golfer, I’d say that the norm is what I’d call “WOD.” This means “worry, obsess, and disappear.” Worry about everything, especially how your foursome sees you. Obsess about the swing mechanics emphasized in the same magazine that told you about “SFT.” And then disappear from the shot as if you had a transient ischemic episode and blanked out completely.

Golf Magazine’s “Private Lessons” gave me a tip that got me in trouble. They said to take a 16 oz. plastic cub, mark an “X” near the open end and cover the ball with it. Twist the cup so the “X” is closest to you and then swing and hit it. I tried this and, upon seeing cups strewn on the ground in front of my range stall, the head pro told me to “leave and never come back.”

CBS’s co-announcers for many years, Ken Venturi and Jim Nance deserve respect. However, there were things they said that irritated me that seemed to happen over and over. Let’s say their booth was stationed over the 17th hole. Having seen 23 players leave the ball short, when the 24th would then do the same, Venturi would often complain, “Jimmy, I don’t know why they keep leaving it short.” Well, Ken, it’s because they hadn’t had the benefit of seeing the other 23, don’t you think? Or someone would hit the ball way off line and Venturi would occasionally weigh in with “Jimmy, I don’t know why he would make that type of mistake…now he has to flop the ball over a bush and a bunker to a tight pin.” As if the pro had intended to hit the ball that badly.

Recently, Ted Bishop, the P.G.A. of America president, derided the English golfer Ian Poulter as a “li’l girl” in a tweet last month, leading to Bishop’s ouster.  He apologized and went quietly.  What a pussy.

I love (!) when this happens. I leave a 3 foot putt. The others in my foursome start walking away while I “clean up.” I miss it. Everyone is surprised and bit uncomfortable with my obvious spazz-attack.

Tiger Woods has a big 155 foot yacht he calls privacy which he bought for $20 million. He spent his wedding night there. Its fuel tank is big enough to travel 4000 miles. It has 5 guest rooms and an elevator.

However, golfer Greg Norman’s boat is bigger by 80 feet.

Both are row boats, however, compared to the Dubai, the royal yacht of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai. It is 535 feet long and has a disco, a helipad and a garage for the yacht’s own submarine.

Given this, I think that Tiger Woods is one big loser.

Kevin Sutherland would have shot a 57 or 58 had he not blown up on the 18th hole of a recent Champions Tour event. A friend of mine, hearing the news, got angry, saying “Oh, that is SO f…’d up!” I’d like to see what he would do with the whole world watching him come close to breaking the 59 barrier. What? He’s supposed to be a Zen Master?