Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Badgolf Interviews Tiger Woods

You can’t believe how excited I was when Tiger Woods agreed to give me an interview for the badgolf blog. But, when you think about it, he missed a cut. Where better to give an interview.

We met at a Burger King in downtown Monterey; just a stones throw from Pebble Beach. Tiger wore a black Nike cap, black Nike pullover shirt, and black slacks. He look relaxed and calm as we sat in a bright orange booth seat to have a chat.

BGB: Tiger, I want to thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.

TW: No problem, Rob, anything for you.

BGB: So, Tiger, how did it feel to miss the cut in the Byron Nelson last week?

TW: Guess how much money I have.

BGB: Huh?

TW: Go on, guess.

BGB: 75 million?

TW: Way off.

BGB: More than God.

TW: Closer.

BGB: But getting back to the point of this interview, Tiger, how did it feel to miss the cut?

TW: Have you ever seen my wife?

BGB: Uh, well, only in pictures. But I want to talk about your performance last week in the Byron Nelson, and how it felt when you missed the cut.

TW: uh huh.

BGB: Well?

TW: Well, what?

BGB: You’re not answering my question.

TW: Yes I am.

BGB: You are?

TW: Of course I am. Are you stupid or something? Aren’t you listening? Read the transcript. This interview is over.



Wednesday, May 11, 2005

How I Beat an Idol

When I was a kid one of my idols was my big brother. He’s eight years older than me and when he was in high school he was a regular sports stud. Not only was he the quarterback of the football team and the catcher on the baseball team, but he also led the basketball team to become state champions. After he graduated the Baltimore Orioles drafted him in the third round, but instead of pursing a baseball career he went on to play basketball for the University of Utah on a full athletic scholarship. And as a kid I wanted to be a sports star just like him. One problem: He’s 6’4”; I’m 5’9”. Ah, fate…

He’s a good guy, my brother. Our relationship now isn’t so much of big brother – little brother, or idol and idolized, we’re really just friends. Good friends. Even though he’s in Washington and I’m in Central California, we make sure to cross paths once or twice a year; usually we meet for an NFL game – Raiders or Seahawks. Last year on one of our rendezvous we had a few hours to kill and we ended up at par 3 18-hole golf course, renting clubs and preparing to play golf together for the first time. Now, I’ve never beaten my brother in any sporting activity. But this is golf. I’d been practicing. And size doesn’t matter…

The first hole was 155-yard straight shot. Since these were rented clubs I pulled out a 7-iron and thought I’d just hit an easy one, just keep it on the fairway. Over swinging is one of my big problems and the easy-swing mentality lent itself well to my smashing my first shot within 3 feet of the cup. Oh, my big bro knew he was in trouble then.

But my bad golf tendencies emerged and the two of us mostly flounder around the course. He drove further and straighter than I but had absolutely no touch around the green, which kept me in it. After 18 holes we added up the score and what do you know -- we were tied. What are two competitive brothers to do? Well, play another 18 holes of course.

After the 14th hole of our second round I was up 6 and feeling good. Then I proceeded to 3 putt 15, 16, and score a 7 on 17 and we were tied again. On the 18th hole my brother’s drive hooked and landed within a few feet of another twosome. Neither of us had called fore and while I couldn’t see the expressions on their faces, the gestures with their fingers told us all we need to know about how they felt about the misguided shot. Well, I proceeded to slice my drive and we both figured to have a chip to the green. But as we walked down the fairway something was wrong. My brother’s ball was missing. We looked all over for it and couldn’t find it. “Those bastards took my ball,” my brother kept saying. “They took my ball!”

“You should have called ‘Fore’,” I kept replying. That and, “Lost ball, one stroke penalty.”

“It’s not lost, it was stolen,” he said. “What’s the ruling when a ball that gets swiped?”

“All I know is that it’s lost,” I said.

“I could hear them laughing as we walked up, they took the ball.”

“You should have called ‘Fore’.”

On and on we bantered while my brother frantically searched. After ten minutes he finally had to concede, the ball was gone. He took the Penalty and re-teed. He hit a nice shot to the fringe. We both chipped on. I two putted; he one putted. So he took a 5; I took a 4. And that, my friends, is how the bad golfer beat one of his childhood sports idols in a 36-hole match by one stroke.



Monday, May 09, 2005

Blog in the Washington Post

Hey all,

Just thought I'd mention that the blog here got some attention. It was mentioned in an artilce in the Washington Post. Click here if you're interested in reading it.

I'd like to thank Craig Stoltz, the writer of the article for his kind words about the blog.

Now, if I could learn to golf as well as I write!



Mother's Day Surprise

I’ll never understand women. As loyal readers to this blog know, my wife and I recently had a baby. What you don’t know is we tried for over 5 years to get pregnant. After such an ordeal my wife was very, very happy and excited to become a mother. And she is a great mom. I’ve never once seen her lose her patience or get frustrated, even at three or four in the morning when she’s up feeding or diaper changing she’s enjoying herself, laughing and giggling with the little tyke.

So her reaction was really surprising when yesterday morning – her first mother’s day – I brought her a lovely bacon and eggs breakfast in bed and told her: “Today, I have the greatest mother’s day present you could ask for. I’m going to give you the entire day alone with Cierra while I go golfing.”

I hope egg doesn't stain.



Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Artists

So I’m out at “De La” again and I get paired up with a guy who comes across as very shy. He has stooped shoulders, and is very quite. His set-up matches this personality as well, kind of stooped and funny looking. In his bag he has all wood woods. A throw back. We don’t start really chatting until around the 4th hole. Turns out he’s an artist, and a struggling one at that. He told me he uses the wood woods because he can get them used and cheep. We discuss the age old question of time verse money. He loves being an artist and working from home and being in control of his time, but he hates the fact that he’s poor. But the more we talk and the more he tells me of the courses he’s played (Pebble Beach included), the more I’m thinking, “I should be so poor.” And then he tells me he’s going to Arizona next weekend (this was about a month ago) to catch some Giant’s spring training games. Geez! What’s all this lack of money talk! I mean the guy sits at home, works when he wants, plays golf all over California, and hops in a plane to catch some b. ball for the weekend.

He’s an artist who uses wooden clubs. He should be using them for aesthetic reasons, not because they're cheep!



Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Old Man, the Artist, and the Househusband

This kid thing is hard. I mean, it’s a joy and all that, but it leaves little time for the other important things in life like golfing or blogging about golf. So once again I start a post with an apology for not posting. I was this close (thumb and finger held forward) to letting this blog die but when I logged on to my email and saw so many wonderful comments I decided (with my wife’s blessing), to put concerted effort into the blog. So here goes (and thanks)…

The old man, the artist, and the househusband.

DeLaveaga Golf course – which is right up the street from my house -- is still under construction and still allowing unlimited golf for 10 bucks. So during the last couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to sneak out of the house and play 9 holes three times. The first time I played I started off alone, which was fine, because it allowed me to really test the limits of SortaGolf. I took 2 mulligans on the first tee (there was no one behind me), improved my lie on the fairway, practiced chipping for about 15 minutes when I got close to the green, then three putted.

As I was teeing up on the second tee, in the distance I saw the figure of an elderly gentleman tugging his clubs down the first fairway and waving his hand. I looked around but I didn’t see anyone around. He continued to wave and walked faster when he noticed that I noticed him. When he was within earshot he yelled out, “Hey, I hate playing alone, mind if I join you.”

I was torn, but what are you gunna say? “Of course not,” I yelled back.

When the guy ambles up next to me I figure he must be pushing 70 and he just trudged the entire fairway of a short par five at a pretty good clip, and I’m more out of breath from bending over to tee my ball then he is. He was a nice guy though. For the first few holes I was playing pretty even with him. He was straighter and shorter than I, but I was hanging in there and making some good recovery shots. But somewhere around hold six it all started to go bad. I was spraying my shots like a blind machine-gunned. But I had a good time with the old guy. Turns out he’s actually 72, retired, plays 3 times a week, and is very proud of the fact that he doesn’t take one pill. And he credits golf to his good health. He also taught me about drool. Well, not drool, actually, DRUL -- Downhill Right, Uphill Left. And you know, I think it really works that way.

After we finished the ninth hole he asked me if I was going to join him for another nine (during the construction, only the back 9 is open for play). I told him I had to leave and that I need to take another lesson before I played again. “Forget the lesson,” he told me. “Save your money. You know how to hit the damn ball. You have a pretty good swing. It’s obvious that you’ve already had lessons.”

“Yeah,” I said, “but look bad I am.”

“You just have to get used to making good shots,” he said. “Go to the range, take your 9 iron, and hit a whole bucket with it. You can hit the 9 ok. Just keep hitting that 9 all day long and groove a swing. Then, when the 9 is grooved, try the eight. Hit ‘nuthin’ but the 8 until it’s grooved. And keep going. Spend your money at the range or on a course.”

Good advice, I thought. I tried it. It worked pretty well. I got that 9 grooved, and the 8 and 7 too. Then I got to my archenemy, the 5 iron, and before I knew it I was talking to my pro.

I had a lesson on Saturday.

Well, that’s it for the old man story. Check back this week and I’ll finish up with the artist and the househusband, two fellows I played with at “De La” recently.



Tuesday, January 25, 2005

My Most Embarrassing Shot

Around 10 years ago my boss invited me to play a round of golf with him and his boss, the CEO of our company. At the time I was just picking up the game and playing with my antique Wilson’s. In my naiveté, I accepted his gracious invitation. So one beautiful Saturday morning I found myself trucking through the Connecticut countryside looking for some country club, the name of which I have long since forgotten.

I arrive at the country club a few minutes before our tee time and rush to the first tee. My boss and the CEO were standing there with a slight sheen of sweat from the bucket they’d hit at the driving range, sipping a Samuel Adams. Hitting a bucket before you play, I thought. Now that’s a good idea.

Catching my breath, I had the chance to look around and quickly realized this wasn’t your average public links course. Behind me loomed the large turn-of-the-century mansion turned pro shop, like a watchful sentry guarding the peaceful countryside. The golf course spread before me like some green magic carpet bordered by oak trees sporting the beginning buds of an early New England spring.

Since it was early spring, and such a beautiful day, the course was crowded with dames and dandies like this Arizona bumpkin had never seen. I swear to God, it was like a movie. I heard the old Sesame Street song running through my head: “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…” and I realized the one thing I was thinking about was me.

We were the next group to play, so we stepped up to the tee box waiting for the foursome in front of us to hit off the fairway before teeing off. The CEO gave me the honors. I placed a tee in the ground and whipped my club around in some awkward effort to warm up. I noticed that the practice green was to my left and too close to the first tee; the foursome playing behind us were standing together in casual chat, glancing at me. All in all, including the starter, who was friend of the CEO’s, I’d guess there were 10 or 12 people watching me as I addressed the ball.

Well, I took a breath and did it! I swung with all my might. And I hit that damn little ball hard. Real hard. The only problem was that I topped it bad. Real bad. The ball rolled with some vicious velocity at about a 20 degree angle to my right. We were playing the white tees and the ball rolled fast and hard, right toward the red tee maker some 20 yards in front of me. As if in slow motion I saw the ball hit the red tee maker with a loud thunk, shoot up in the air in a beautiful arch backwards, heading right for me. I was frozen, I couldn’t move. The ball floated, floated, floated, and then landed thunk, right in front of me, damn near on the tee it had previously been sitting on. I mean, I didn’t have to move to take my second shot. And then, like a razor cutting through the soft skin of an apple, laughter cut through the soft spring morning. Laughter echoing off of sentry pro shop, rolling through the budding oaks, traveling down the country lanes, fading only when in reached my Arizona home town itself.

Everyone on the practice green stopped motionless to view the source of such merriment; patrons stuck their heads out of the pro shop window; my boss and the CEO were literally on the ground, holding their sides in painful joy of my painful embarrassment. And all I can say is, “It’s amazing I still play this game.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Beat by a One Armed Golfer

Why do I pay these high California rents if it's going to rain for an entire month? Because after the rain the sun comes out and it is beautiful outside. So this weekend I found myself in the middle of January golfing in 70 degree weather. Ahhhh….

I wanted to get home in time to see the football playoffs, so I decided to go to an overpriced but very nice nine hole course in Scotts Valley, CA. I got paired up with a threesome and I have to say I'm always leery when I get paired up with guys that are drinking beer on first green at eight o'clock in the morning. But there I was…

I started out pretty good. I had the best tee shot of the group on the par four first and was left with a nice little chip to the green. I muffed it and then proceeded to three putt to start with a double bogey.

On the way to the second tee one of the guys showed me his finger. Seems about three weeks ago he closed it in a garage door. The nail was black and the finger looked like hamburger. He was golfing with one hand. And it was pissing me off because he kept beating me.

I mean, I didn't golf too badly. I ended up with 5 bogeys and 4 double bogeys. But hole after hole, if I bogied, the one-armed golfer pared, if I doubled, he bogied. Over, and over, it never failed. Geez, I got my butt kicked by a one armed golfer. How sad is that. On the plus side, I don't have to worry about renaming my blog.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

You're a Lightweight and So Am I

So, you think you’ve played in some pretty extreme conditions, huh? I know I do. The worst conditions I’ve played in were just a few months ago. The golf course, DeLaveaga, is under construction. Because of this, they told me I could play all day for ten bucks. And because it was raining, I thought I'd play 9, but I couldn't stop. Then after 18, I just had to play another 9. After 27 holes my shoes and pants were caked with mud, my windbreaker was soaked through, but I was in the zone - pounding the ball like never before, and I had the course to myself, so I kept going for another 9, playing a total of 36 holes.

But I’m a light weight.

And so are you.

Unless of course you’ve played in The World Ice Golf Championship in Uummannaq, Greenland.

Which I haven't.

It seems there’s this hotel owner by the name of Arne Neimann in ol’ umm…, umm…, Uummannaq, who thought it might be a good idea to build a golf course among the giant icebergs of Greenland and then, well, why not, hold a tournament. And, as they say, “If you build it, they will come.” And come they have. From all over the world brave golfers ascend to Uummannaq to play in a 36 hole tournament over 2 days some 300 miles north of the polar circle.

The course is a little shorter than most, the holes a little wider, the balls are bright orange, and the greens are not greens at all, but, well, “whites”. Now if you ask me, that's golf to the extreme.

The next World Ice Golf Championship is in March, 2005. Go for it! Maybe some day I will.

If you're interested in more info, check it out by clicking here.


Monday, January 10, 2005

I'm as good as Vijay

I can’t believe it. I’m as good as Vijay. At least for one hole. This weekend at the Mercedes Championship at Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, Singh was in the lead during the final round. He had completed a string of 57 consecutive holes at par or better when he bogied the par four fourth. Of course that doesn’t make me as good as Vijay. But then came the 13th hole. They call it The Low Road, and Vijay certainly took the low road in playing the hole. It’s a 407 yard par four and Vijay did something unfamiliar to him, but something I am more than used to. He pulled his tee shot into the two-foot high grass and lost his ball. Welcome to my world, Vijay. Singh went on to score a triple bogey 7 on the hole.

If I played this hole from the professional tees I’d be lucky to shoot a 7. But I could do it. I contend that if I played that hole 10 times, at least 50% of the time I’d shoot a 7 or better. This is what I love about golf. I suck, but on one hole, I’m at least as good as the best player in the world 50% of the time. There is no other sport and I can attempt to duplicate what a professional has done, and do it as good as they did even once. But in golf I can. If you think I’m full of BS, you can offer to fly me to Maui and I’d be happy to play that hole 10 times to prove my point.


Friday, January 07, 2005

The All American Golf Experience - NOT!

So my wife (bless her heart) signed me up as a member of the USGA through a subscription we had to Golf Magazine. I was pondering my game (or lack thereof) and once again returned to the idea that better clubs would mean lower scores. When wouldn’t you know it, USGA had apparently sold my contact information to a flim-flam organization presenting itself as “All American Golf Experience”.

They told me they were “testing” clubs and as a member of USGA, I was eligible to become one of their field testers. They would send me a set of clubs which I could use for 90 days. For my part, I agreed to play at least once a week with the clubs and at the end of 90 days I would ship the clubs back in the pre-paid package. I also agreed to spend 1 hour with their golf club technicians answering questions about my experience with the clubs. “Great!” I said, “Sign me up.”

So I spent about an hour on the phone with them as they took down some measurements (my height, weight, how many inches from the tips of my fingers to the floor, etc), discussed my golf game, and got my address. Finally, when I thought we were done, they asked for my credit card information. “Why?” I asked.

“This is just to insure that we get the clubs back. We bill your credit card for $990.00 dollars and then, at the end of 90 days, you can choose to keep the clubs or send them back for a full refund." And being the stupid bad golfer that I am, I gave them my credit card number.

About a week later the clubs arrive. Now, I’m such a bad golfer I couldn’t really tell if they were any good. But I did notice all the nice labels imbedded in the club heads fell off. An All American Golf Experience representative called me a few days later and asked me if I received the clubs. They also informed me that for every person I recommended to them who also “tested” the clubs, I would receive 10% off the price. If I got 10 people to “test” them, I would get the clubs for free. So much for the perks of being a USGA member.

To make a long story short, at the end of 90 I called them for my 1 hour conversation. It turns out that conversation was not with their golf club technicians but was really a 1 hour talk with their high-pressure sales department. In the meantime, I’d been reading a number of posts in news groups about people who fell for this scam, returned the clubs, and never got their credit cards refunded. I figured I didn't want to send the clubs back and end up empty handed, so I negotiated a price of $250.00 for the clubs. The agreement was that I would keep the clubs and they’d refund my credit card $740.00. It took about 9 months and 20 phone calls, but they finally did process my refund.

I still have those clubs and I still use them. I’m still so bad I don’t know if they’re any good, but on the bright side, no one laughs at me when I’m at the driving range (see previous post).


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Welcome to Bad Golfer

No doubt about it, as a golfer, I suck. I often feel cursed that the Gods would infuse me with an un-quenching love for a game that I’m so good at being so bad at. I’m 44 years old and as a kid I was fairly athletic. In high school I lettered in football and track. I’m also a pretty good juggler, so I have hand-eye coordination. Why then, I ask, can’t I get a handle on this silly game?!?!

I started golfing about 10 years ago when my boss invited me to go to the driving range. I picked up a set of Wilson clubs at a yard sale and began playing about once a week for the next year. Ignoring the advice of old-timers to take lessons before I “learned” any bad habits, I was intent on teaching myself the game. After that year I was still shooting in the 120s, or, let’s say, to high to count. On the plus side I succeeded in learning some bad habits.

After that I didn’t play for a number of years. About three years ago I picked up the game again. Pulling the old yard sale clubs out of storage I went to the driving range and started wacking away. Some hacker started laughing at me so I asked him, “What’s so funny?”

“Your clubs,” he answered. “They should be in a museum.”

“Ah ha,” I thought. “That’s my problem. I need new clubs.”

So I promptly went to Costco and bought a brand new set of Golden Bear clubs; found a little par three nine-hole course near my house which is great for a beginner; and learned that the clubs were definitely not my problem. Eventually I talked my wife into playing and bought her a set of Golden Bear also. So, every weekend we set about doing our chores and always ended up at the par three course. Last year we took lessons and I got better! My wife got pregnant and stopped playing, which was fine with me because now I can go out to real eighteen hole courses and play. Of course, playing alone means I get hooked up with others. And I suck, so that’s often funny.

I signed up for another 6 lessons and have only taken one. Since then I still haven’t broken 100 but I’m close (not including mulligans). So maybe I’m not sucking so badly.

In this blog I hope to chronicle the trials and tribulations of a bad golfer trying to get better. Check back. Future posts will include:

  • How I got ripped off buying my next set of clubs.
  • Playing alone and getting hooked up with golfers who don’t suck.
  • My most embarrassing shot ever (it’s a doozy).
  • And future experiences I have at the course, range, or taking lessons.

Also, feel free to post yourself. However, any SPAM postings will be deleted.