Archive for April, 2016

Junior Golf: Winning Is Hard

In this Friday Flop Shot we will look at winning golf tournaments and it’s hard to win golf tournaments whether it is a modified 6-hole little bitties event or a 72-hole PGA venue. (photo offcoursegolf.com)image

There are ebbs and flows of momentum in every competitive event and golf is no exception. If your son plays really poorly early in the tournament, he can take himself out of contention. If he plays good enough to stay within a few shots of the leaders he can have a legitimate chance to win or at least be top 10 or better. The goal is to be close enough during the final round or even last 9 holes to make some good scores and catch the leader.

Last Sunday the final round of the Valero Texas Open had a perfect setup. At 1 point early in the day I think around a dozen players were within a couple of shots of the Round 3 leader. Folks, this makes for fun golf to watch and this is a main reason I encourage you to record these professional golf broadcasts.

3rd round leader Ricky Barnes was in the last group and struggled all day and could not maintain his lead.Former World #1 Luke Donald started the final round as many people’s pick to win. Well, he shot 2-over on Sunday to finish way back in the pack. The next-to-last group is where a bunch of the action took place with Charley Hoffman, Patrick Reed and Billy Hoerschel playing together.

You know, there are different tournament goals for different golfers and for different levels of golf. There are times that a top-5, top-10 or even top-20 is desirable and a win would be really cool! Yes, the pros can get FedEx points, certain exemptions and a ton of money without winning a Tour event, but as Bubba Watson so beautifully put it, “Nobody out here is playing for 2nd place.” Winning brings so much more!

As the leaders faltered, Charley started moving up as did Patrick. Billy was always close but wasn’t really looking like he might make a playoff or such. Much of the TV focus was on this group. Charley was now leading and the decent birdie holes of 16, 17 and 18 were next after Patrick pulled within 1 stroke of Charley with a birdie on 15.

Reed missed birdie putts of less than 8 feet on 16 & 17 and Hoffman made pars. So we’re on 18 tee and Charley has a 1stroke lead over Patrick. This is pressure folks and a lot of golfers can’t handle it. Reed put his drive just in the left rough and hit the shot of the day to follow up, a rope hook around a tree stopping on the fringe at the right front edge of the green. Charley blew his 2nd shot on this par 5 over the back left of the green into a bunker, leaving a touchy downhill sand shot. Patrick chips to within 2 feet and Charley blasts to maybe 6-10 feet. Reed putts out for a birdie leaving the final shot to the potential winner. And Hoffman performed perfectly with the ball going right into the center of the cup for his birdie, maintaining his 1-stroke lead and winning the tournament. Congratulations!image

Ricky Barnes and Luke Donald eliminate themselves by not playing well. Patrick Reed hits a ton of great shots but misses too many short putts. And Charley Hoffman made a few birdies, kept grinding out pars kept his head in the right place and won! Winning is hard as Charley stated in his post game comments. (Patrick Reed/Charley Hoffman photo pgatour.com)

See you on #1 tee ready for a tough game… Sam

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Junior Golf: More Lessons From Valero

In this Wednesday Waggle we will continue to examine some additional lessons from the just completed Valero Texas Open played on the tough TPC San Antonio Oaks Course. There is so much information that it will be a challenge to cover some highlights here. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

In this Wednesday Waggle we will continue to examine some additional lessons from the just completed Valero Texas Open played on the tough TPC San Antonio Oaks Course. There is so much information that it will be a challenge to cover some highlights here.

Let’s talk a bit more about strategy and how to use it as your daughter analyzes her approach to a golf course. If the TV announcers said it once, they said it at least 100 times during their coverage, success on this golf course starts with putting your tee shot in the fairway. The 1st cut wasn’t too bad this week, but if the ball went into the rough, on the Oaks Course it is pretty much a 1-stroke penalty. The trees and “moon” rocks as we call them here are almost impossible to hit any kind of a shot other than a punch-out, and the risk of wrist injury is high. The top finishers were putting their drives in play. Dad and Mom, 1 of the basic tenets of playing winning golf is having a high percentage of your daughter’s tee shots in the fairway, period. A tee shot in the fairway starts the process of having a good score on a particular hole.

The 2nd must do strategy on this course is to put the approach shot on the correct portion of the green to have a decent birdie putt. Yes, this is an advanced technique, but if for now, your girl focuses on just hitting her ball on the green, that’s a good thing. She can work on accuracy as her skill level advances. The guys in the top 10 had lower scores because they made more birdies and had fewer bogies than everybody else. Birdies are easier to make if the approach shot is closer to the hole. Basic stuff.

And of course, to make birdies, you must make putts. Something else you will hear time and time again is that to win any golf tournament you have to make more putts than the rest of the field, particularly those in that 8 to 15 or 20-foot range, because the make percentage for the 3 and 4 footers is pretty high for everybody. So the great separator is who makes the mid-range putts. Think about who gets hot with a putter, Jordan, Jason, Adam, Bubba and Henrik to name a few. There are tournaments where 1 of those guys seems to be making everything and if he keeps it up for 4 days, he will likely win!image

Parents ask your daughter which of her longer clubs she’s more comfortable with, if she is a beginning golfer, it may be a 5-iron or 5-wood, doesn’t matter. Then get with her swing coach and let her work on getting condiment that this 1 particular club can be her “go to” club when she wants to make sure the ball ends up in the fairway. Later, she can use this to build confidence with other clubs as well. We’ll get to the other clubs later. Here’s a photo on my “go to” driving iron.

See you on #1 tee looking to put your drive in the middle of the fairway… Sam

Junior Golf: Lessons From The Valero Texas Open

In this Monday Mulligan we’re looking at some lessons to be learned from the just completed Valero Texas Open, won by Charley Hoffman. Watching professional athletes in competition provides opportunities for all of us including your junior golfer to gain some valuable information. (photo jennleforge.com)img_0135

Last Friday Linda and I watched about 50-60 entrants play the driveable par 4, #17 at the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. There was a following north wind and the far left back pin was maybe 360 yards from the tee box, driveable for the longer hitters in those conditions. After watching several groups come through, 2 strategies became clear. 1st, most of the players were laying up, some hitting irons off the tee to a desired wedge distance. 2nd, about 10% were bombing their driver trying to get on the green in 1.

It became apparent that there were 3 choices for how to hit a wedge, from the layup, into the green. 1st land the ball on the back side of the ridge running left to right across the green and let it kick downhill toward the pin. This was the most popular effort and was executed beautifully by a number of players. 2nd choice was to land the approach on the left side of a ridge running middle to back and let it kick left to the hole. Freddie Jacobson’s shot of the day lipped out doing this and he had a tap-in birdie. The 3rd and toughest plan was to land on the flatter surface near the pin. The north helping wind made this difficult to judge and almost every ball landing within 10 feet of the pin from a head-on direction rolled to or off the back of the green. What we saw was that these guys, at least most of them, were aware of these options and went with the 1 they were most comfortable with. (Linda and me at our superb seats on the back right of #17 green😄😎)

imageThe bombers had a different day of it. Only 5 balls got anywhere close to the green with their driver in the groups we saw play hole #17. Brandon Grace drove the green and 2-putted for a birdie. Another player, whose name escapes me had a good lie in the 1st cut left of the middle of the green and made a nice up-and-down for a birdie. Johnny Vegas short-sided himself in the rough left of the pin and bogeyed the hole. Of the bombers, there were 2 birdies, 2 bogies and a par. True risk/reward scenario!

The lesson? Your junior golfer should have a plan for each hole. She’s not too young to start thinking about the strategic planning that is essential to playing winning golf. Start with an easy hole, perhaps a short par 3 or a par 4 with a really wide fairway. Don’t be concerned if she is not controlling where her ball goes, it’s the thought process that you’re ingraining here. Ask her where she thinks a good place would be for her ball to stop on this shot. The goal is to have the ball in a position to hit a good next shot. On a par 3 this would mean being on or near the green with her tee shot. On a par 4 it would be having her drive in the fairway. As her skills improve, you can discuss if 1side of the fairway is better than the other as it relates to being able to hit the desired next shot. Strategic planning is fun, let’s start now!

See you on #1 tee with a plan… Sam

Junior Golf: Valero Texas Open-We Were There

imageIn this Friday a Flop Shot, a bit late, sorry, we will look at the great time Linda and I had yesterday at the Valero Texas Open. There was an opening in our schedules and we took advantage of it to enjoy some time at a great PGA Tour event.

Transportation was easy as the shuttle bus lot is only a couple of miles from our house. The fee is $5 per car to park and the shuttle, both ways is free. This is a great deal and TPC San Antonio is just about a 10-15 minute bus ride. This makes for a low-pressure, no hassle trip. (photo offcoursegolf.com)

We were scanned and searched at the bus lot so when we got off the bus we went straight into the Vendor’s area. There are so many good deals and discounts, but we were early for the day and wanted to check things out and decide how we wanted to watch the players, so we kept moving, leaving the vendor goodies for later.

The 1st spot you come upon where you can actually watch the tournament is #17 green, 1 of our favorite spots. #18 tee is also close by but you can’t really see much except for the swings on the tee shots. Previously you needed upgraded tickets to sit at #17 green so we were keeping an eye out for a place to upgrade but when we arrived at the green, there was open public seating, as in free. And there was a concession stand and restrooms very close by. Since no Round 2 groups had come through yet there were some empty chairs and we grabbed 2 and sat on the 1st row with a perfect view of the green, including the cup and a look all the way to the tee box. We could see the guys hit every shot on this 347 yard par 4! Perfect!

An added bonus was that we had a north wind, which means the guys are able to choose true risk/reward on this potentially driveable par 4. The choice is to lay up to a desired wedge distance or to ride the north wind and try to drive the green. Let me offer a point to ponder for your junior golfers who like to go for everything: Linda and I watched about 60 golfers play #17 and there were 4 balls that were hit as far as the green and only 1 ball was on the green. That ball belonged to Brandon Grace who made a beautiful 2-putt birdie from the front of the green to a far back left pin.image

The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio is tough, the most difficult non-major course on the PGA Tour in the 2015 season. It is no surprise that our informal percentage of birdies on this short little par 4 was less than 25%. Phil and Koooch made birdies and Freddie Jacobson’s ball lipped out and stopped 1-inch from an eagle hole-out. Lots of interesting and exciting shots! (photo flickr.com)

While we could have stayed longer, evening commitments meant we had to leave. You know what, we knew we would enjoy ourselves, but even seasoned tournament attendees like us had more fun than we anticipated. Do you and your junior golfer, heck your whole family a favor and load up the car and go to a PGA Tour event, you all will love it!

See you on #1 tee with some good memories from watching the pros… Sam.

Junior Golf: VTO, Just Go

In this Wednesday Waggle we will continue encouraging you to attend the Valero Texas Open. If our San Antonio locale isn’t convenient for you, then please find a PGA Tour site that works for you and your junior golfer and go spend some time there during their tournament. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

The best time to go to any tournament is when you can. Don’t overthink it, just grab your kiddo and everybody else that wants to go and head out the door. For a more relaxed atmosphere, the days early in the week are excellent. Today is the final Pro-Am day at VTO, as in most professional golf events and is a perfect time to see how the tour players interact with the group sponsors. You can learn a lot by watching and listening and the course is basically devoid of fans. You can easily move around to follow different players. And the course is full all day. There is a morning and afternoon Pro-Am.

The pros and cons of going different days are interesting. Sure, so can only attend on the weekend and that’s a great time because of the drama and huge crowds associated with the final 2 days of a Tour event. A bit of advanced planning goes a long way. For instance, there is no parking on site. So plan extra time for off-site parking and shuttle time. Locations are posted on the VTO website.

Allowed and prohibited items are also on the site and be certain to carefully check this out so you are not inconvenienced by having to return an item to your not-so-close car or surrender it. There is plenty of food and drink available and some is fairly reasonably priced. There is no real need to load up like a pack mule. A hat or cap, sunscreen, sunglasses and comfortable walking shoes are the basics.

Phil Mickelson

The main differences between going during the week vs on the weekend are less crowds on weekdays for easier movement around the course, closer access to players and a more relaxed atmosphere. Weekends again mean bigger crowds, more drama as potential winners start to show up and a vibrant thrilling environment. (Phil photo casino.org)

Dad and Mom, PGA Tour events are major happenings. Go enjoy 1 with your kiddo today!

See you on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio… Sam

Junior Golf: It’s VTO Time

In today’s Monday Mulligan we’re looking ahead to this week’s Valero Texas Open, the VTO. The PGA Tour is in town and it’s time to plan to take your junior golfer out to see some of the action on the beautiful and difficult Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.img_0135-1

The Texas Open, today it is sponsored by Valero Petroleum, so it’s the Valero Texas Open is the 6th oldest event still played on the Tour and is the oldest to be played continuously in the same city. This is a special time for our family because my Dad, Sam M Goldfarb Sr, was one of about a half-dozen businessmen to form the San Antonio Golf Association, SAGA, now Golf San Antonio, in 1938 with the main purpose of bringing back the then defunct Texas Open. And they did in the early 1940’s and even had Bob Hope and Bing Crosby as special guests. FYI both were excellent golfers and Bing considered entering the event as an amateur, he thought he could win! ( photo jennleforge.com)

Dad was involved with pro golf, amateur golf and junior golf here for more than 50 years, leading to his induction into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame in 2012. Quite an honor, and frankly 1 that he certainly deserved. More about Dad in other posts, but everything about this event is special to our family.

And it will be special to your son too! It is an environment only experienced at PGA events. You will enter the grounds behind #17 green and walk through the vendor boardwalk where dozens of golf-related companies offer a number of giveaways and discounted specials. Take some time to enjoy this area, don’t just blast through it. There are some really fun things you and your son will enjoy and you may win some nice freebies as well! Plan an extra 30 minutes for this.

The grounds are visually stunning! Some of the 1st things you will notice after leaving the vendor area is how rich and beautiful the fairways and greens are, in perfect condition. Next is the massive, to the point of incredulity, construction of luxury suites, grandstands and tv announcing booths and towers. You and your son will be amazed. It’s more than you likely would have ever imagined.

And there’s something about being within a few feet of some of the best players in the world. Yes, we will miss Jordan, Rory and Jason, but we still have many fan favorites like Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Ernie Els, Padrig Harrington and last year’s winner, our own Jimmie Walker. Lots of great and talented golfers to follow.

Experiences for a lifetime: so on Saturday of last year’s VTO, S3 and some of his college teammates were following guys around a bunch of different holes and then they decided to go and stay at #16, the famous par 3 with the sand trap in the middle of the green. They were off the back right side of the green and Phil hit his tee shot and it struck a guy standing next to S3. As always, Phil the true gentleman, came and apologized to the fan, asked if he was OK and signed a glove for him and S3 and his buddies were right there! Great memories! (photo golftexas.com)image

Day passes are inexpensive and readily available. Grab your son or daughter and Mom too and go enjoy yourselves at a wonderful PGA Tour event. If you like to keep moving the Oaks is easy to follow groups and the shared green with #2 and #7 is a great chance so skip forward or backward a few players. If you prefer to sit, we love to spend time at either #16 or #17 because there is always a lot of action around those greens.

See you at the Valero Texas Open ready to watch some great golf… Sam.

Junior Golf: Another Distraction

In today’s Friday Flop Shot we will look at another potential distraction, 1 that exists in every group your son will ever play with. This occurrence can also be a relaxing and enjoyable thing as well.image

A couple of years ago S3 and I wanted to see Rory tee off in the Valero Texas Open. We got a spot at #1 tee on the beautiful Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio and watched Rory’s group hit. There were 3 groups left to tee off and after 95% of the gallery left to follow Rory, S3 and I moved up and were right next to the ropes, like 10 feet from the players. We heard everything they said and there was 1 hilarious exchange. Billy Horschel and Charley Hoffman were, and junior golfers you have been told at least 100 times to do these 2 things, so if the pros always do this, why can’t you? Yes, they had marked/put identifying marks on their golf balls and were showing them to each other prior to putting that ball in play. Billy said,”Wow, our balls are marked a lot alike, you better not hit my ball.” Charlie’s response was, “If I do I’ll be sure to hit it in the water!” They both laughed, hit good tee shots and chatted all the way down the fairway walking to their next shots. Great stuff! (photo offcoursegolf.com)

TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola - Final Round

The personalities and attitudes of the other juniors in your son’s group can impact his play. Your son has a mental comfort zone where he can relax and enjoy playing this sport. S3 tends to play better when he knows someone in his group or can connect with another player. Our son is the guy who likes to chat walking down the fairway and more often than not there is at least 1 guy in the group who does also.

Then there is the silent type. One of S3’s college teammates really does not like to talk or be talked to during a round of golf. His line, “Total and complete silence, just like I like it!” He’s not rude, just quiet. It is a test for a personable guy, like Sammie, when he is paired with 2 silent types. But it’s also a good thing because it is another test and competitive sports is always about unending tests. So he has to take another deep breath, try to relax and focus on hitting a great next shot.

The 3rd personality your boy will sometimes see is the kiddo with the “tude”, the attitude. He may not show much until something triggers some disappointment and then anger. Over the years we have seen putters sunk up to the hosel in a green because of a missed putt. Clubs slammed into trees. Clubs thrown. Vulgarities screamed. Parents, this is hard for us to see, imagine how tough it is on your kids! It is impossible to be immune to these outbursts, so this is where proper advice and preparation beforehand can be helpful. And remember that high school coaches, college coaches and certain tournament and rules officials have the authority to summarily DQ a player for this type of behavior. (Billy’s image cochellavalley.com)

Encourage your junior golfer to be himself on the course. If he’s the quiet type, that’s OK. If he likes to engage with the guys in his group, that’s OK too. Somebody will also want to talk with him. Let him find his interactive or not, comfort level, and let him be himself. It’s about how he handles the distractions and there will always be something trying to disrupt his game. Prepare, encourage, hit a bunch of balls and of course, chip and putt.

See you you on #1 tee, being yourself… Sam

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