players make favorable comments about the United States Golf Association’s
(USGA) course set-up for this year’s U.S. Open at Congressional CC in Bethesda,
Md. is, to say the least, quite a deviation from Opens past.Who can forget the best of the
best struggling mightily at Bethpage Black in 2009 just to get the ball tothe
fairway?How many public course
golfers could relate to that?However, watching the players most golfers emulate hacking and whiffing through
high rough on the way to over-par scores is.....well, was, just wrong.
change has arrived in the persona of Executive Director Mike Davis, and even
the somewhat stern, arm-band wearing USGA rules officials may have some time
off from searching out wayward golf balls in places not fit for man nor
beast.Mr. Davis promises
that he does not want players looking foolish nor does he have a target score
in mind when setting up Open venues.Some laugh, unbelieving.Not
me....the time is ripe for this.
ever competed in a USGA national event under the watchful eyes of volunteer
officials (they ARE volunteers and pay their own way, you know) and a real
Rules Committee?During my
competitive amateur career, I have played in over 20 national USGA
championships, including the U.S. Women’s Amateur, the U.S. Women’s
Mid-Amateur, and the U.S. Women’s Public Links (WAPL).Tried for the U.S. Women’s Open a few
times but fell short, with my best attempt at qualifying coming at Congressional’s neighbor, Columbia CC, when a late round
triple bogey left me a couple strokes shy of the big show.How I’ve re-lived that hook off the tee
box into the Maryland trees.
in USGA events was always a great experience, except for when the USGA made
errors in course set-up and would not correct them.Yes, they DO make mistakes.During a practice round for the 1988
WAPL in Tulsa, OK, there were four groups backed up at a par-3.The USGA tee sign read 138-yards, yet
player after player kept hitting the ball into the lake running from tee to
green.I thought, Ôwhat’s wrong
with these gals? Take enough club!!’Then it was my turn, and the distance surely looked farther than
138-yards.Normally I’d hit a
7-iron but instead took a 5-iron – promptly splashing it into the
drink.Changing to a 4-iron, I
barely made it to the fringe of the green.Pacing off the yardage, the old fashioned way before lasers and such, it
was 165-yards just to carry the pond.After the round I informed the officials,
many who I knew well after years of playing in this event, and they were
surprised – because they sometimes don’t play the course prior to the
event.But the sign was
posted, the scorecards were printed, and so it remained:an official 138-yard par-3 that was
really about 175-yards.
was so difficult for the USGA, for so long, to improve course set-ups...I don’t
know.When you position
yourself as the Ruling Body of anything, it is thorny to admit you’re
Mike Davis is such a breath of fresh air.He understands that the course should be tough but also knows it must be
playable, and variable, depending on weather and conditions.He plans periodic seclusion in the
privacy of his on-site office to watch the action on TV, getting a clear
picture of what’s happening with his handiwork and making alterations if need
be.All the pre-planning in the
world is useless if Mother Nature decides to do her thing, thus rendering
previous strategies useless.But still,
there is a bit of the rogue in Davis:he may decide to offer the
traditional U.S. Open drivable par-4.But he won’t say which hole."I want the players to decide what to do
then and there without having practiced it."
Janina Jacobs is a multi-media consultant and freelance writer specializing in golf,
business, music, nutrition,
fitness and women's issues. These days, much of her efforts are devoted to her
blog on the international golf and travel website, The A Position. Her
full bio is here.
junior golf programs were not as high tech, organized and involved as they are
today - with every parent assuming
their kid could be the next superstar - we kids of the 1960s and 1970s ambled over
to the local muni for lessons, plain and simple.
case, there were 30 or 40 of us who attended lessons twice a week for three weeks
at junior golf 'school', which meant the local pro taught us some of what he
knew: basic fundamentals of the game such as grip, stance, backswing, impact
(sort of), and follow through.
were no video cameras, no swing plane measuring devices, no launch monitors, no
space age equipment, and no junior tours.If we were lucky, we got to play at the other nearby muni course in a
season-ending tournament – that is, if our parents could take us.If not, the bus did.
thing we learned that hasn't changed one iota is the etiquette of the
game. In fact, our very first
lesson was devoted almost entirely to proper behavior on the golf course.
taught anymore? It surely doesn't
seem so. Let's not even dwell on
slow play because that's an entire column, which I'll pen another day.
But let's do talk about care of the
given day at any course in this country, you'll find an abundance of: 1) divots
that haven't been replaced, 2) unrepaired ball marks on the green, 3) tees all
over the teeing ground, 4) paper and other garbage blowing about along the
fairway, and my favorite, 5) unraked bunkers.
don't understand this. Who do guilty
golfers think will take care of all the housekeeping?
The Magic Fairway Genie? Their mothers?
occasion I've heard golfers remark, "I've paid enough money in green fees
here. Let them take care of it."
Well, I've always wondered who 'them' was. If golfers expected course personnel to
tidy up behind them, green fees would triple in order to pay the staff to do
like this: please leave the course
at least as good as you found it. If you'd truly like to score some brownie points, leave it
better by fixing extra ball marks,
replacing or filling divots you didn't make while you're waiting for others in
your foursome to hit...or even raking other spots in the bunker after you've
of years ago I was playing somewhere, though the name of the course has long
escaped my memory. It was a
beautiful club and the greens were so perfect to putt that I felt compelled to
fix at least two or three extra ball marks on just about every green as I
waited for others to putt. It
really only take seconds to properly fix a ball mark (if you don't know how,
please ask someone from the pro shop; they'll be happy to show you) so this
didn't slow anything up.
the end of the round, one of the gentlemen who had been in the group behind
came up to our group. I thought
something was wrong. He approached
me and said, "I watched you fixing ball marks on the greens all day long and
just had to come up to see who you were.
I want you to know that I own this club...and you can come back here and
play any time as my guest." Then he
turned around and went back to his foursome.
learned. You never know who may be
watching you practice proper etiquette..or not.
Janina Jacobs is
a multi-media consultant and freelance writer specializing in golf, business,
music, nutrition, fitness and women's issues. These days, much of her efforts
are devoted to her blog on the international golf and travel website, The A Position. Her full bio is here.
long for the good old days of air travel?That is, when you could bring your golf clubs and the airlines would
lose them, maim them, misdirect them, and then deliver them to your hotel as
you are checking out – but at least back then you didn’t have to pay for
almost as if the airlines have singled out golfers for excessive fees, knowing
that packing for the sport is difficult at best:You have to take into account all types
of weather contingencies, golf clothes vs. fancy duds, golf shoes vs. street
and dress shoes, hats, golf balls (how many do
you take?), umbrella, and of course, your golf bag full of clubs.There’s virtually no way to get all of
that paraphernalia into a carry-on.
there a way around it?
past few years of traveling all over the world for golf, I’ve streamlined
packing to the extent I can survive with only one carry-on, regardless of
whether the trip lasts 3 days or a week.Impossible....for a woman, you say?Not so.How I do it, well,
I’ll leave that for another column.For now, let’s talk about the biggest and most expensive issue:Golf clubs.Usually they constitute the double
whammy: a second and oversized bag.
people are dependent on using their own clubs, which is rather surprising since
these same folks probably were never measured for proper clubs via correct
club-fitting anyway.The majority
of people I play with should be using different clubs, usually for a variety of
reasons. m So, why not use golf travel as a way to save money, but also as a
means for trying out new clubs?Rent or borrow them.
another era, rental clubs were saddled with a poor reputation.If you had to rent clubs, it was almost
implied that you weren’t a serious golfer, or you couldn’t afford to buy them.Therefore, golf courses and resorts
spent little or no time, effort, or expense to provide top of the line
offerings in the rental club department.Rental set selections were almost as bad as Rent-A-Wreck cars.The clubs were old, used, abused, with
the newest, hottest clubs on the market unavailable at any price.
it is a far different story now.Today’s golf resorts understand the hassle and expense of lugging golf
bags around and have done a complete 180:rentals are now often a perk for those who sign up for special frequent
customer Ôclubs’ like the Fairmont Hotels’ President’s Club or when you stay at
places like the Ritz Carlton or Walt Disney World.Hyatt’s Gold Passport has a ÔNo Hassle’
package for all leisure guests to encourage last-minute bookings; $25 gets you
a set of clubs, golf balls, and a glove.Many hotels with courses attached will usually have golf schools too, which
use name-brand equipment companies like TaylorMade, Nike, Titleist, Callaway, Cleveland,
Hogan, and Cobra.A variety of sets
will come in regular, senior, or stiff flexes, which incidentally is slowly
taking the place of men’s and ladies designations;you can also get regular or extra long
are also companies specializing in online club rentals where you can order
exactly what you want at varying rates according to club type, how long, and
where: Rentalclubhub.com, Golfrentalandsales.com, Golfclubsaway.com, to name a few.In most cases, you can order clubs
online by 4 p.m., they’re delivered to your hotel or the course by 7 a.m., you
play, and then you leave them at the course or hotel, where they are picked up
later.Insurance is offered should
you anticipate a mishap.
people may even opt to rent clubs as opposed to buying them while at home.This may seem strange to folks who have a
garage full of clubs, but it does make sense.Here’s why:
can play the latest and greatest clubs featured on tour;
may keep a club or set as long as you want, when you are finished using the
clubs, return them, as is;
can shop from your home computer and avoid equipment overload when visiting a
mega store full of every kind of club that is made;
clubs are never outdated nor do you Ôoutgrow’ them;
outlay of cash is much less at a time
are not stuck with clubs you hate or will never use;
you decide you want to buy a club, most rental companies will let you;
players will insist you can never play as well with rental clubs as you do with
your own clubs.To some extent, this
may be true.But I find it a challenge
to try different clubs at every destination.
stopped taking my own clubs years ago, after about the fourth or fifth time the
airlines Ômisplaced’ them.My game
has not really suffered; in fact, I can play quite well with whatever I’m given
as long as the shaft flex is regular, not stiff, the grips are decent, not worn
or slippery, the putter doesn’t have too much loft (yes, you can see it) and the driver isn’t more
than 11 or 12 degrees with a pronounced hook or slice face (though drivers
rarely have slice faces).That may
sound like a lot of caveats, but really, it isn’t and every club has been able
to accommodate my wishes.
just so you know, good things can happen with borrowed clubs, consider this: in March I was invited to play in the
Bacardi Par-3 Championship at the Southampton Princess in beautiful Bermuda
– a stone’s throw from Philly.
the assistants, Will Tucker, had some TaylorMade clubs all ready for me, but
after chatting a bit he asked if I’d like to borrow his clubs, an older set of
Titleist DCIs.I decided to take
his set and the rentals to Port Royal GC, where I was playing a casual round
that morning.I opted to use the
TaylorMade woods and Will’s irons in the tournament.I aced the second hole I played and very
nearly aced another, 4 holes later.At the end of the two-day event, I tied for the Ladies Division
Championship.Will was ecstatic
and has since gotten an ace of his own, the first in his 15 year career...only
because I warmed up those borrowed clubs.
point is, if your swing is somewhat sound and your fundamentals are decent, you
can play good golf with just about any club.Put your money into golf lessons instead
of expecting the newest clubs to fix your game.
those of you who have about 25 putters in your ClubCave.......I’ve always said this
about putting: it isn’t the putter, it’s the putt-er.
Jacobs is a
multi-media consultant and freelance writer specializing in golf, business,
music, nutrition, fitness and women's issues. These days, much of her efforts
are devoted to her blog on the international golf and travel website, The A Position. Her
full bio is here.
Masters: Was Rory McIlroy hurt by the pace of play?
Friday, April 15, 2011 By Mark Anderson
final round of the 2011 Masters was
probably one of the most exciting finishes in recent Masters history.
Pre-tournament predictions abounded everywhere but were quickly amended
after Tiger returned to sparks of
his former greatness on Saturday.
But the two questions on everyone's mind likely were:Could Tiger put together two great rounds back-to-back, possibly setting
him up for a much needed win?And,
could Rory hold on?
all Hades broke loose in Tiger's
world, he has not been able to put enough good rounds together for a victory.Rory
has been a resilient performer and has finished strongly in a number of events,
including majors.However, there is
one question nagging at me for which I know there probably is no correct,
tactful, or available answer:Did the seemingly slow play of eventual winner Charl Schwartzel have an appreciable effect on
Rory and Angel Cabrerra as they waited...and
waited...and waited to hit their shots? For Rory, obviously the wheels came
off.But was it because the field
was catching up to him as they played ahead – including Tiger, though not
in his never-miss-a-putt mode – or was it because he didn't have the
experience to deal with delays and temper his tempo accordingly?
all been there, though perhaps not in contention for anything as serious as the
Masters green jacket.We've stood
behind groups with players who lollygag and take endless practice swings and
size up imaginary breaks and visualize their shots, ad nauseam.We've stood patiently while players
up ahead wait to hit par-5's when their drives didn't even make it half-way
there.We've rested hands-on-hips,
hoping the offenders glance back to see that we are waiting.Patiently.Well, maybe not so patiently...but
we usually feel powerless to do anything about it except to grouse.
the Masters TV coverage, we couldn't gauge where Schwartzel's
group was in relation to the group ahead, and thus truly assess if there was an
official slow play situation. And
if there had been, would we see Masters Rules Officials timing the players
– let alone penalizing anyone? In recent years, there has been talk about
the lethargic pace of play as Masters threesomes take almost 5 and ½ hours
with the final days' twosomes needing 4 and ½.As amateur competitors in USGA
tournaments, we'd definitely be on the clock.But it was difficult to watch Charl take
practice swing after practice swing and go through his obvious visualization
techniques, especially while parked in the middle of the fairway and not having
to hit recovery shots, which do take more time to size up.Are 3 or 4 practice swings really
necessary?Are 8 or 9 needed for a
chip shot?I found myself
getting agitated and talking to Charl through the TV
to 'just HIT the ball!!'No one is
arguing with Schwartzel's results and his place in
Masters history.But at whose
remember when Sergio Garcia used to grip and re-grip – up to 35 times (I
counted them) – before he finally took a swing?These are learned habits.Sergio unlearned that one, thank
goodness.Slow play on our courses
can be unlearned as well – that is, if those in charge will speak up.
If Rory McIlroy
was asked, point blank, whether or not the pokiness
of the group in front had an effect on his back nine meltdown, what do you
think he would say?
Janina Parrott Jacobs, or the Silver Fox, is a multi-media consultant
specializing in golf, business, music, nutrition, fitness and women's
issues. She blogs about golf at The A Position.
A 4 handicap, she lives in Michigan. Her full bio is here.
For those of us who are Christian or, in my case
Catholic, or who celebrate the Easter Season, we are smack dab in the middle of
Lent, a time which used to mean "giving up" something choice, like chocolate or
ice cream or pop or watching TV...or for older adults, alcohol.These days, the emphasis is more
on service to others or improving your life, rather than deprivation.A good move, I think.
As the golf season approaches sun-starved northern
climates, wouldn't now be the prime time
to "give up" some bad golf habits in favor of new and better ones?Here's a Top-10 list to get you
started, 5 habits to lose and 5 to gain:
1)Stop looking at putts from 15 angles or
plumb-bobbing as if you truly know, exactly, how it works.Your first thoughts are usually
accurate and you should trust them.
2)Don't go to the driving range and immediately
grab your driver, swinging as hard and as fast as you can – hitting 45
balls in 10 minutes.This does NOT
help your swing and only reinforces poor technique.
3)Give up playing from the Back Tees so you can
"get your money's worth."If your
handicap is in mid-teens or higher, you should move up more toward Regular Tee
status, or below 6,500 yards.You
will get your money’s worth just fine, and maybe even shoot a good score while
feeling that your money was well spent.
4)Stop arriving at the course five minutes before
your tee time.This is not
courteous to your playing partners and the lack of any warm-up isn't good for
your body.You'll feel rushed for
at least the first few holes, and by then, your round is usually ruined.
5)If your handicap isn't in the single digits,
don't even bother trying to give out golf tips or lessons, especially on the
course.No one wants to hear them.
1)Care for the course as if it is your own by
doing extra clean-up.Repair your
ball mark and two others (not just one).Replace divots and/or use the sand/seed mix to fill.I know you've heard this before but
until I play a course with every divot filled and no ball marks, I'll keep
2)Bring a kid or two out to play golf, teaching
them proper etiquette – and donate to the Platt
Caddie Scholarship fund while you're at it.This is the future of our game.
3)Cut down on practice swings.You don't need them and they delay the
game needlessly...OK, OK I hear the groans already.Take one swing and a waggle.No more.Just enough to ease the tension.
4)Practice the game from 100 yards in and your
handicap will go down.Guaranteed.Unless you don't
want it to go down...then keep
busting drivers as in Bad # 2.
5)Try to eat some nutritious food, which helps
performance and stamina.Fruits,
sandwiches with whole grain breads, and natural energy bars are so much better
for you than dogs-n-chips.If your
course doesn't stock these items, ask.And drink water rather than soda pop.Consumption of too many soft
drinks is one of thereasons we are
Janina Parrott Jacobs, or the Silver Fox, is a multi-media
consultant specializing in golf, business, music, nutrition, fitness and
women's issues. She blogs about golf at The A Position. A 4 handicap, she lives in
Michigan. Her full bio is here.
Almost 40 years have passed since Title IX was enacted and,
still, a comment like "You swing like a girl" is perceived as an insult.For those of you who haven’t been around
that long, Title IX legislation addressed the lack of females’ sports
opportunities in high school and college and allowed women to play on men’s
teams if there were no comparable women’s teams.
Not too much is said anymore about the law
since women's athletics have become a major factor in most schools.Come to think of it, you don’t hear the
old Virginia Slims cigarette slogan, "You've come a long way, baby," which came
out a little later and capitalized on Title IX by the portraying women athletes
as prime cigarette smokers...obviously not so appropriate today.But it surely sold a lot of
cigarettes at the time.
"Swinging like a girl" is a phrase no
man wants attributed to him, though why that should be is buried deep within
the psyche of many males who still assume superiority to women in a number of
areas.Golf is one of them.C'mon guys, you know you do.I’m simply putting it out here in
During one of the semi-final matches of
the PGA Tour's Accenture Match Play Championship on Saturday last month, the
always-effervescent Johnny Miller quipped that eventual runner-up Martin Kaymer had a "swing like a girl."
Quickly, the comment took off running
with a mind of its own when pundits everywhere assumed an it was an insult
against Kaymer.CBS Announcer Peter Kostis hit Twitter with "Ha Ha!I think Johnny just said Martin Kaymer has an LPGA swing!Wow."
So why was the comment taken negatively
to mean Kaymer's swing resembled that of an
uncoordinated and talentless woman rather the athletic swings of Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb,
or even Michelle Wie?I'd bet on their games against 95
percent of the male golfers out there.In many ways, it is still a man’s
However, some forward thinking has
emerged among the educated and learned fans of the game.The consortium of golf writers, editors
and instructors comprising the website The
A Position posted a running discussion on their new site, GearEffectGolf.com. Comments
reflected some enlightened thinking among those who follow the game closely.
Quite often I'm told by men that I "play
like a guy" – and they do mean it as a compliment.And, I've accepted the comments in that
way, so I'd suppose I'm as guilty as anyone in the reverse situation.Of course, the question I should really
be asking is, "Which guy?"
Janina Parrott Jacobs, or the Silver Fox, is a multi-media consultant
specializing in golf, business, music, nutrition, fitness and women's
issues.She blogs about golf at The A Position. A 4 handicap, she lives in
Michigan.Her full bio is here.
Imagine hearing those words as
you walk to the first tee.A
number of years ago I was playing in a charity outing when this fellow decided
it was "cheating" to allow me to play the Forward Tees, as I had been
instructed to do by the Tournament Chair.
This issue has always been a bone
of contention between men and women; and because many courses still only have
one set of tees rated for women – and usually three or four for men
– one must ask the question, "How can every woman who plays golf,
regardless if she has a 36 handicap or a 2, possibly be lumped into only
playing one set of tees?The
answer is, they shouldn't".
For years, I'd played the regular
Men's tees, mostly because I grew up doing it and also because I played on
men's golf teams where everyone played the same tees.But I was always at a disadvantage,
always shorter than the guys off the tee.On a positive note, I was also
more accurate and had a better short game, mostly out of necessity.Back then, we weren't really
taught a power game, but rather a method with more finesse.There were a few women who could
bust it, but I was not one of them, which does not mean I wasn't often
victorious.Great length can
foster a false sense of being indestructible.It helps, but does not guarantee that
Today, courses are getting longer
and longer while equipment improvements appear to help some golfers hit it
farther.The surprising truth is
that the average handicap has not moved in years.Most people still cannot break 100.
On the LPGA Tour, driving
distances have increased, making it exciting to watch, and giving inspiration
to the average woman golfer that maybe, just maybe, she can do it too.However, there is a giant chasm
between what the professionals can do versus what the normal golfer can.Usually, this results in under-clubbing
and golfers often come up short.On the charity circuit, I am frequently paired with women.Many who hit average drives of about 130
yards will then come to a 130-yard par-3, ask me what I'm hitting, then take
out the same club and expect to hit the green.Again, they fall far short.
The fact is, most clubs and
courses are just too long for women to play despite jibes from men about "the
Ladies Tees".Oddly enough,
when clubs want to change and shorten the distances, it is often the women who
complain the loudest...and I have no idea why.Perhaps it is because that's how "it's
always been done."
Ladies, do you get discouraged
when you just can't reach the green?This may ease your mind:There is a new study out that concludes that yardages set for most
women's Forward Tees is way too long.This is really nothing new to those who have struggled to reach par-4's
in three or four shots and par-5's in more than that...but now it has been
A "fairness test" compiled by Jann E. Leeming and Arthur D.
Little was recently posed to women golfers through their Blog, "Golf With
Women," and the result is that women have been playing from tees that are about
1000 yards too long.Comparatively,
LPGA pros would have to set their tees at 9,600 and PGA pros at 10,400 yards to
equate what the average woman faces at 5,600, quite a "normal" yardage at many
Women were asked to respond to the
following questions on www.golfwithwomen.com:
1) How fair is a 5,600-yard
course for the average woman?
2) What would you think if we
told you that a 5,600-yard course would be equivalent to an 8,400-yard course
for average men?
3) How about an 11,200-yard
course for Matt Kuchar?
So, what do you think?
What was deemed "fair" was
calculated as having all players hit the same clubs into greens.With these figures, very few courses
would consider 4,200-yard tees which would be the norm for most women, who
generally hit their drive approximately130-140 yards.
How do you calculate what is
right for your game?Little
suggests playing a course that measures 30 times your average drive.If you don't know, or tend to exaggerate
like most players do, then try this:calculate how far your 9-iron goes and multiply it by 2 to get your
estimated driving distance.
Example:If your average drive is 175 yards, "your"
course yardage should not exceed 5,250 yards.If you hit it 190, you can move up to
5,700 yards.If your 9-iron travels
80 yards, double it, and your estimated drive is 160.160 x 30 suggests a course measuring
Men could certainly benefit from
this formula for tee selection as well.I believe no one should move back from the Forward Tees or Senior Tees
until they can at least break 90 – and I'm being generous.
I've seen countless men step up
to Demon Tees at 6,800 yards when they couldn't hit the ball 200.And "getting your money's worth"
shouldn’t necessarily mean an exercise in futility, searching for golf balls in
wetlands, woodlands, and water hazards all day long.
Women should have fun on the
course and not feel compelled to make excuses for lesser lengths.Ladies, make your intentions known and
ask golf courses to move up those tees for more playable conditions...and ask,
also, for more than one set of tees to be rated for women.
Parrott Jacobs, or the Silver Fox, is a
multi-media consultant specializing in golf, business, music, nutrition,
fitness and women's issues. A 4 handicap, she lives in Michigan.
Her full bio is here.