Golf Road Trippin

ImageIt’s beginning to look a lot like the golf off season. The miserable time of year has arrived where; dependent on location, Mother Nature eliminates any possibility of playing golf. The ground begins to freeze and eventually, the undeniable doom arrives; masked as white fluffy stuff. This is the season for golf simulators; the desperate alternative for every ‘crack addict’ golfer out there. While this alternative may float your boat for the time being, the only real escape out of this miserable situation is to go road tripping with the golf clubs. This highly anticipated ‘golf road trip’ provides the golfer’s soul with a much needed boost, a glimmer of hope and belief that springtime will come back, and that golf will return soon enough.

The best part of a golf road trip is the anticipation to play again. It doesn’t really matter where one is going, what’s most important is that one is getting away, leaving the cold terrain for greener pastures. The drive away from home is very easy; everyone is fueled with adrenaline and excitement. The planning stages of the trip are as thrilling as the experience itself. Scouring the internet for the great courses to play, dreaming of checking off all of the top public courses available to play. The most important part of the golf road trip is in having a lot of semi quality golf balls in the car, ready to be hit at any point along the way. Stopping every few hours or so at rest areas or by the side of the road to hit golf balls out in the open allows us to release that tapped energy inside. Having an organized itinerary that allows you to manage your daylight correctly is also important in order to play those 36 holes every day! The beauty of golf is the availability in playing the game on all sorts of landscapes and different designs.

About 80% of conversations and thoughts on the way there are golf related; the golf swing, expectations of your game, choosing the golf courses to play and so on… In my opinion, the true golf road trip will be spent almost entirely in the car or on the golf course. There is always the option and opportunity to plan things in order to catch a PGA tour event along the way, or a European Tour event in Europe. Anything to ignite that golf passion! Driving 20 plus hours to play golf for a week is easy, and a whole lot of fun! Now all it takes is just a little time to get away and all these dreams can turn into reality.

Where are you going on your next golf trip?

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It’s time for another meeting…

  

This happens to me every year, and I hate the feeling! As an unfortunate resident of the colder, more northerly parts of the continent, I find myself thinking about the coming fall season and the quickly approaching, terminal to the golf season. I hate it! Every day seems to get a bit colder, a few more leaves seem to fall to the ground and the golf ball begins to drive a little less further. Oh and playing golf late into the evening is fading harder than my high slicing drives! We haven’t reached dire straights just yet but the unnerving feeling creeps up. This part of the year always accelerates the obsession to play golf because of that desperation to play as much as possible before the possibility dies with that nasty cover of white stuff that must blanket over those beautiful greenish fairways. It’s the time of year where playing 36 holes a day is a requirement; skipping school or work a predetermined consequence. It’s the last chance to break par on a local course or bring the handicap down to its lowest imaginable digits! It’s the desperate time of year where the golfer will do just about anything to capture the magic that the season has yet to unfold. 

It’s the time of year where thinking of golf is as natural as breathing and walking. What are the options? Move to the south and live in permanent golf bliss? Plan a road trip to warmer climates? Get a membership card ready for the local virtual golf factory? Or maybe it’s time to join the next golfaholics anonymous meeting…

The one certainty in all this nonsense is that I will be on a golf course until the last possible day of the golf season. When all golf courses are closed except one, I will be on that one golf course, freezing my hands and ears off with frostbite, looking for my perfectly hit golf ball in the patch of fallen leaves, trying with everything to get that one final decent round of golf in!

Admit it, you’re a golfaholic…

  

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Back in time for a second..

90466626golf_181378cTime flies… For a brief moment the weekend before last, I couldn’t help but flash back to 10 plus years ago. As I surprisingly watched Tiger’s name climb up the leader board early during Friday’s round of the Quicken Loans National, my mind wandered off to a time that seemed so far away from present day. Call it what you like, but being of an age where golf was the most influential on me around the time when ‘red shirt’ began doing his thing in the early 2000’s, there still remains this envy, or romantic fantasy to see him get back to his dominant ways. Some might call it a childish fantasy or lucid, unrealistic dream… but seeing his name up there in contention (if you can even call it that) brought back memories of a golden age in golf.

While some aspects surrounding the Tiger Woods fanfare certainly channelled some resistance to the game of golf and its audience, and that surely at times media coverage centralized a little too heavily on him while maybe neglecting other players and stories, it’s hard for me to imagine NOT having rooted for him as he was ploughing through all of his incredible achievements. Some of the moments that stuck with me the longest along his list of achievements are:

– Winning 7 straight PGA Tour events and coming up 2nd at the Masters to Trevor Immelman, almost making it 8!
– The Tiger Slam of course, or all of 2000 to be fair!
– His incredible ‘made cuts’ streak!(142 straight tournaments I think?)
– His 14-1 record when leading a major after 3 rounds and almost as impressive 42-2 when holding an outright lead in a tournament!
– Tiger’s win in 2008!

Not only was it the achievements, but the mere presence he had around venues and the buzz he created on weekends when he was in contention was incredible. Having been privy to standing in the audience at a few events in which Tiger won, the vibe that reflected from his dominant, competitive stature was unmatched and maybe unseen anywhere else in the world of sports.

As professional golf looks forward into the future and compares the present with the past, we have begun to see a tremendous shift from a sport dominated by one outstanding athlete, to a sport that has developed much more parody amongst its players. Since Tiger’s last Major win in 2008, there have been 28 Major Championships in golf, won by 21 different players! This compared to Tiger’s run of 14 majors in just over 10 years is quite a shift in a much different direction.

Do you prefer following professional golf today where most weeks feature a large group of quality players in contention or would you much rather rewind the clock back to the time when even though Tiger winning was but a certain formality from week to week, all of us felt compelled to watch and prevent missing history as it unfolded for us though those iconic black pants, bright red shirt and Nike golf cap!

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Twas the night before a round of golf…

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Whether the stakes are high or low, whether you are playing a tournament round or a leisurely foursome with your golf buddies; the night before a round of golf always brings about an element of thrill and excitement, anticipation for the possibility of something great. Regardless of how many rounds you have played that given week, month or season; regardless of whether you will be playing a new track or the same local club, regardless of how well you have been playing of late, a true ‘golfaholic’ will always treat the next round as the most important round he or she has ever played. There is an unexplainable romanticism, or some might refer to it as desperation that lies within ever true golf addict wherein one hopelessly believes that the next round will be the ONE round that makes it all worth it. There is a guaranteed list of things that will take place for any ‘golfaholic’ preparing for a match the following day.

“If only I treated my kitchen like I did my golf clubs.” A ‘golfaholic’ will likely spend some time making certain to polish off every little spec of dirt, sand or grass stain off of every inch of every one of his golf clubs the night before a match. The golf addict will worship his golf set and be prepared to start fresh the next day with a clean set. A golfer’s bag should as well be replenished with new golf balls and tees, and kept clean of rubbish, dirt or anything that might hinder a bad swing thought the next day.

The night before a big round, the ‘golfaholic’ will surely spend some time chipping golf balls in the backyard or outdoor field near the house, practice winning putts repetitively in the basement, desperately video record his or her swing and spend the night over analyzing it while stressing about swing planes and angles of decent that don’t compare to the world’s best, and of course repeat the golf swing motion in front of every mirror in sight.

For early morning tee times that reward the golfer with crisply cut grass and an open playing track, a ‘golfaholic’ will attempt to get some sleep by hitting the hay at an appropriate time however; excitement, anticipation, stress and possible agony will certainly keep the ‘golfaholic’ awake for much too long. The golfer will attempt to dream about winning the Masters in dramatic fashion but will most certainly be caught up in a hopeless nightmare involving errant tee shots, 3 putts and the inevitable and unmentionable s____!

Luckily, waking up at 6AM for a tee time is much easier than waking up at the same time for a day at work!
LifeOnTheLinks

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Passion, Pleasure, Pain, Pity… Why I PAY to play Golf!!

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Let’s start off by stating the obvious, the essential point for this article. Golf is my passion! Golf; that silly game that has an endless pursuit to burn through money, exhaust time, fuel fantasy like dreams and desires only to eventually and ironically crush them. Why are we so in love with this game? At first glance, the sport seems like a destiny for disaster, a guaranteed outlet for pain, frustration and self-loathing pity.  Many golfers should have accepted these simple facts years ago in their own quests at understanding the true nature behind their voluntary intentions to try and play the game. So the question turns to; why do we play? Or better yet, why do we PAY to play a sport that can be as irritating or frustrating as this one? Like many things in life, there rarely is one clear answer to any subjected question. So why do I play golf?

As stated earlier, golf is a great passion of mine, or better the pursuit to become a better golfer is the passion. The idea that on any number of instances, you can feel as though you’ve finally mastered the game that has laughed, pitied and pissed on you since the day you decided to purchase that first set of clubs is worth everything. The undefinable thrill that comes from hitting a shot perfectly pure alone is enough to bring anyone back again and again and again. The idea that any round can begin with a birdie and end with a record low score is the equivalent to finding the Holy Grail. The feeling of seeing your golf ball head towards the hole on a par 3 only to foolishly think that it might have a chance of going in for that first hole in one. The words you mutter to your playing partners when your approach shot lands inside of theirs, or when you make a clinching birdie putt on 18 to win a match. That moment of pure ecstasy when you hook a shot under and around a tree and watch the ball roll up to the green; a la Bubba Watson at Augusta, will make the hairs on the back of your neck rise.

To those that don’t understand what it’s like to be a true golfaholic, it might be easy to question the incentives to play a game whose only purpose seems to ridicule any living soul attempting to take on the ridiculous challenge of hitting a small white ball around a field. As a member of golfaholic nation, I understand the strings attached to being a golfer; the hours of frustration on the range attempting to perfect the swing, the anger and rage of following a massive birdie putt with a nasty duck hook OB, the always heart wrenching three putt, spending inexplicable amounts of money on green fees, golf balls and the newest golf clubs on the market. In a sense, golfers are not practical, golfers are romantic. Golfers dream big, and for that reason we continue to return to the golf course every day full heartedly (or foolishly) believing that this day will be the day where all our golf dreams come true. And for that reason, despite all the self- agonizing pain, the constant humiliation and frustration, the pity and whirlwind displeasure of things, despite all the times that we say, “I quit golf”, there is always that one shot, or one putt that makes me fall right back in love with it. Despite all these ridiculous certainties of golf, it will always remain the greatest game ever played!

Share your thoughts on why you love to play golf…

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It’s a gift, and I love it!!

Some call it a problem, a psychotic obsession, a burden on my social life, my economic well being, my livelihood; I call it a gift! It’s a blessing waking up every morning, knowing that the only intention in mind is to play golf. I fantasize about golf courses, about hole in ones and of breaking par the next day. I dream of meeting Phil Mickelson, of playing head to head against Jason Dufner, or battling down the stretch with Tiger Woods; pre 2008 of course. I spend my time away from the golf course glued to the Golf Channel, reciting, replaying their every word much like one does with the Bible. When I am on the golf course, or the practice range, I forget about everything around me; understanding that I have reached my Zen place, my special ground of bliss. Throughout the year, I travel many miles to reach some of the special golf venues around me, in much the same way as a religious pilgrimage to a special place. I understand what golf means to me; an endless and hopeless pursuit of perfection, a journey to reach the lowest possible golf index.

 

The night before a round of golf, I take care of the important members of my team that will help me on the course; my clubs. I practice putting in the basement, creating magical scenarios in my head of winning the masters on the 18th hole. I rehearse my golf swing in front of mirrors, repeating what I think is a perfect motion. All of this I do to feed my hunger for golf. My never ending desire to be good at a game I love so much. It might border on lunacy and over exaggeration, but it’s what keeps me sane, what fuels my passion. I believe that the goal for a lot of golfers is to be good enough to simply enjoy playing the sport. The drive to achieve this very difficult task makes us all a little crazy. 

 

Are you crazy? 

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The Spectator’s Sport

One of my greatest golf memories took place on August 16, 2009, on the 17th hole at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Amidst the frenzied crowd gathering to watch Tiger Woods and Y.E. Yang hit their shots onto the par 3, 71st hole of the PGA championship, I ran helplessly through the gallery, attempting to find a spot to view the drama unfold. The excitement looming and pure chaos surrounding the moment, I had already lost my friend after having decided that finding a good view point was more important than sharing this experience with him. I rushed around, unable to see any part of the tee box, stuck behind rows and rows of eager golf fans, who all wanted to witness history as it was unfolding. And in this moment, desperation yielded creative measures. I decided to follow a few other desperate fans and began climbing the tree that stood maybe 20 yards directly behind the tee box. After a few anxious seconds followed by brute force and adrenaline, I found myself perched up nicely, my foot up on an underlying branch, my back against the enormous trunk, and in perfect vantage point of what I had come here to see. I zoned in on both players wondering how on earth they could perform under these types of incomprehensible pressures. Tiger’s shot went up, a perfect ball flight heading right toward the hole, the yelling crowd pleading for the ball the land close. With Tiger’s ball landing just a little long of the hole, Y.E. Yang stepped up and hit a wonderful shot under these special circumstances. As I watched the crowd run down toward the green, half of them converging between the green and the 18th tee box, unsure of where to go next, I stepped down from my tree and thought; this is where I was supposed to be.

No sporting event rivals the atmosphere of a PGA tournament; especially that of a major golf championship. To anyone who has had the opportunity of being part of a crowd at any of the regular tour events or major championships, you know how exhilarating and chaotic that type of environment can be. The way golf is played allows the spectator to become involved with what is going on. Seeing a player hit a golf shot from a few feet away, to getting a fist pump from a competitor as he makes his way across the gallery to the next hole, to being able to feel the tension and pressure these professionals face week in. One of the most impressive occurences that takes places at every tournament, and for which is incredible to witness; is the sudden and complete silence that appears before every shot. Instead of being resigned to sitting down in one seat the entire game, golf spectators are afforded the luxuries of chasing their favorite players, moving around to catch different holes and different pairings or simply staying stationary in an area of drama on the golf course.

If you are of the fortunate who have attended a PGA, European tour or any of the great golf events around the world, I’d love to hear from your experiences! To those who haven’t yet, I recommend it highly…

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