Archive for the ‘Major Championships’ Category

Junior Golf: The Open Championship

In this Monday Mulligan we will take our 1st look at the 3rd of the 2016 men’s Major Championships, The Open Championship, previously called The British Open. (photo jennleforge.com)img_0135

This is a favorite week every year for our family as we get to see such different golf courses, player strategies and bizarre weather, not to mention the stunning scenery and uniqueness of golf in the British Isles, the birthplace of golf.

2016 is the 145th playing of The Open Championship, yes, really! Royal Troon Golf Club is on the west coast of Scotland, just south of Glasgow and this will be the 9th time it has hosted The OC. Ladies golf has flourished at Royal Troon as they held their 1st Championship, The Ladies Championship, in 1904. How cool is that! 38 Championships in total have been held at RTGC over the years.

Parents, this week is a perfect opportunity to ramp up and reinvigorate your junior’s and the whole family’s love of golf. Our great game is a sport that has a lot of art in it. The creativity required in links golf, which is what you’ll see this week, is beyond what is typically demanded on US-type courses. The art comes from the player being able to see how to roll his shot through the myriad of undulations to get it to stop in a good position for the next shot. Hitting high shots that stop quick is the exception rather than the rule in Open Championships.

Links golf features very hard fairways and greens, bunkers than are truly penalizing and rough that is semi-impossible to play out of. It is different, it is exciting and it is unpredictable! NBC and The Golf Channel have the coverage, which begins at 1:30am Eastern time,12:30am Central time, this Thursday morning on The Golf Channel. Remember coverages switches to NBC for Saturday and Sunday. However, Live From The Open is on The Golf Channel is on right now and has a ton of hours of superior coverage and commentary throughout the whole week.

Set your DVRs. If you don’t have The Golf Channel, now is the time to add it to your TV package! When you are wondering how you can have all these TV channels and there is nothing worth watching, well The Open Championship fixes that problem, at least for a week. (photo golfscotland.com)image

Couple of quotes to leave you with: TV commentator Mark Rolfing,
“With this new technology, the players have learned how to control the flight of the ball in the air. Links golf is about controlling the roll of the ball when it is on the ground!” PGA professional Davis Love III, when asked what was the most layers of clothes he had ever worn in a golf tournament, “That’s easy, I wore 5 layers in the 198x, British Open.”

Oh, did I neglect the weather? Open Championships usually have at least a day or 2 of chilly temperatures combined with wind and rain. Remember, you can be uncomfortable on a 60-degree sunny day in high winds with inadequate clothing, so imagine the sheer fortitude necessary to play well on a 55-degree cloudy day with high winds and rain, miserable. But though weather is part of what The Open Championship is known for.

See you on #1 tee on a links course… Sam

Junior Golf: Overcoming Adversity

In today’s Wednesday Waggle we will take a look at several of the unexpected challenges that can appear during a golf tournament. Your daughter will undoubtedly face some of these issues during her junior golf career and the sooner you prepare her for them, the better. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102-1

Let’s use Dustin Johnson for a great example. It is generally recognized among the PGA Tour players that Dustin is 1 of the most talented athletes, if not the most gifted athletically, among them and it was only a matter of when, not if, he won his 1st major. And Dustin did just that by winning the men’s U.S. Open Championship this past week at Oakmont Country Club, regarded by some folks as the hardest golf course in the world.

His path in majors has been very rough. In 2010 he had the 3rd round lead in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and shot a final round 82. In the 2010 PGA Championship he appeared to have tied for 1st but was assessed a 2-stroke penalty after completing his round and before the playoff, for grounding his club in a bunker, and was knocked out of contention. In the 2015 U.S. Open he 3-putted the final hole to lose to Jordan Spieth by 1 stroke. Even in his round last Sunday he was penalized after the round for causing his ball to move, but he had a big enough lead over 2nd place that this penalty did not affect his position. Additionally, Dustin took some time off from the tour in 2014 for personal reasons, to get his life back on track.

Theses are tough situations, they are part of life. DJ has showed wonderful resiliency in overcoming these situations. Great stuff! (DJ photo ftw.usatoday.com)

USP PGA: THE MASTERS - PAR 3 CONTEST S GLF USA GA

Apr 6, 2016; Augusta, GA, USA; Dustin Johnson with Paulina Gretzky on the 4th green during the Par 3 Contest prior to the 2016 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-265174 ORIG FILE ID: 20160406_jla_mm1_216.jpg

Your daughter will have some penalty strokes, 3-putts and horrible rounds, including horrible final rounds after being in the lead. How on earth do you help prepare her for this? 1st, make sure you tell her your love for her is unconditional, it is not based on her scorecard. 2nd, help her get familiar with the rules. And encourage her to pay strict attention to the announcing of local rules/conditions at the player’s gathering before the start of a tournament. Remind her that it is, more often than not, allowable to play 2 balls when you cannot find a rules official. Tell her that there will be days when her best golf game disappears and cannot be found. It’s OK. Tell her, “I love you very much!”

Understanding how tough it is to play well all the time, avoid 3-putts and know the rules will help your girl be able to deal with the rough spots as they occur. Oh, they will still be difficult, but they are a reflection of life. And it’s her proper response that defines her, not the 3-putt. Please remember that Linda and I are not sports psychologists. We are parents passing along things we have learned from our son’s successful junior golf and college golf experiences.

See you on #1 tee looking resilient… Sam

Junior Golf: Patience And Safety

In this Friday Flop Shot we’re looking at 2 words that are critical to our junior golfer’s enjoyment of this wonderful game, but we don’t often hear very much about them.image

Yesterday’s 1st round of the U.S.Open provided the pros with multiple opportunities to refamiliarize themselves with these words, patience and safety. Patience is a great attribute for all aspects of life and sports is included. When does your son need to be patient? There are several scenarios common to golf tournaments. Let’s look at 1. (photo offcoursegolf.com)

S3 played some junior events on a course here in San Antonio that had a tough par 3 with heavy woods on both sides of the fairway and around the green. So what, you say? Well it was common to have 3 or 4 groups stacked up on this tee box because so many kids were searching everywhere for balls plus par 3’s are notorious for getting backed up in certain situations and this is 1 of them. So your son must find his best way to deal with long delays. We always encouraged S3 to relax, hydrate and eat a few bites while staying somewhat in the reality that he was still playing in a golf tournament. And he was to loosen up after sitting around for sometimes 30 minutes. It doesn’t take long for your youngster’s muscles to stiffen up.

Patience is tough even for the pros. Once they get in their game groove they like to keep it going, particularly if they are playing well. And your son likely feels the same way. Stretching and warming up again, after a delay, are important for your son to resume play and to play well.

So yesterday was a tough day at Oakmont as there were 3 rain delays. Dangerous storms with lightning kept forming and passing through. Even though pros are pros and they are used to these things, they are still an additional mental and physical test. Lightning is serious and golfers, spectators and staff need to quickly get to shelter. Safety is #1 and Paul Azinger and Brad Faxon strongly stressed this point a lot during the Fox TV coverage. Please make your son aware that lightning is his enemy on the golf course and instruct him on proper ways to keep himself safe. (pgatour.com)img_0369

Combining patience and safety would be when the pros got off the course, because of lightning in the area, after marking their ball and then once the storm had passed, maybe after as much as a couple of hours, they went back out to resume play. Both announcers agreed that the last shot they wanted upon resuming play was a 5-foot putt. A full swing shot was much preferred, just to release some of the pent up anxiety and get back in their groove. So you see how the anxiety level is increased or decreased by the 1st shot the pro is facing after a delay, wow!

See you on #1 tee looking patient and no storms around… Sam

Junior Golf: Golf Happens

In this Monday Mulligan we will look at a phrase that was most recently used last Friday at the Masters, but has undoubtedly been voiced many times previously, particularly when poor results are involved. (photo jennleforge.com)img_0135-1

After having high expectations coming into the 1st major of 2016, Ricky Fowler failed to break 80 on Friday and ended up missing the cut. His initial brief explanation of his 1st 2 rounds was,
“Golf Happens”, a phrase used to describe an extraordinary happening during a round of golf.
Certainly it can be used in a positive reference as for instance, Linda, S3 and I witnessed our 2nd Double Eagle during a college tournament last Monday. Linda and I were parked at #18 green, a par 5 easily reachable in 2 shots for these talented young men. One of S3’s playing partners, Javier, hit his 2nd shot, it landed just left of the center of the green and rolled straight down a ridge and entered the middle of the cup at the perfect speed. What a thrill! And Javier, not quite able to see the hole, learned about his great shot by osmosis. So in this case, in a positive vain, “Golf Happened”. It was an unexpected and unusual occurrence.

This other side of the “Golf Happens/Happened” coin is the unflattering side. And with a ton of tough golf and higher than normal scores for many of the world’s top players, the most shocking “GH” of the weekend was Jordan Spieth’s disastrous final 9 holes. After having a 5-shot lead on the 10th tee, Jordan ended up T-2, 3shots behind the winner. Jordan gave up 8 shots in his last 9 holes, a horrible collapse. Our family is big Jordan fans and we are not being negative. Parents we want you to understand that there will be times that your son will have a terrible hole or maybe a couple and hopefully not a complete 9 hole stretch. (Danny Willett golfweek.com)image

Let’s give Danny Willett some credit as 5-under during the final round at Augusta is a great score, but he had to be as shocked, although likely a bit more pleasantly shocked than everybody else, as he watched Jordan’s performance on the back 9. Danny was in the right place at the right time.

Make no mistake, this 5-shot lead and tournament was Jordan’s to lose and he did. There may be a bunch of folks trying to get into the intricacies of what happened to Jordan’s mental state, or lack of, during this time and I’ll leave that to the pros. As a parent I can tell you that he basically lost his confidence, his trust in his swing. When that happens to S3, sometimes with irons/approach shots, his ball ends up short and right. Sound familiar?

So as we ask ourselves, how does Jordan, after making 4 birdies in a row on holes 6-9, totally lose it on the next 9 holes? Dad and Mom please get this, golf is a tough sport and the mental part is 90% of the game. As tough as the pros are mentally, they are still subject to the frailties of the human mind. And your junior golfer is even more mentally fragile.

1 poor shot may throw your son off his game. The winning part and the toughest part is how quickly can he forget that poor shot and hit a great shot? Your boy might get mad and anger always wins and he may carry that emotion for several holes, which he will probably play poorly, enough to ruin his round, before recovering and starting to play well again. The pros get mad, yes they do, but they deal with it better than the rest of us.

Always encourage your junior golfer, especially after a poor shot or a 3-putt. A big smile, yes 1 he can see and a strong thumb’s up are all he needs! We want the positive “Golf Happens”!

See your on #1 tee looking confident with your swing… Sam

Junior Golf : Are You Watching?

imageHappy Friday Flop Shot to you as Linda and I ask, are you watching, as in are you watching The Masters, the PGA men’s 1st major tournament which ends Sunday?

Please, as we previously mentioned, set your TiVo and record this event. The lessons and insights for your daughter, yes even though this is a men’s tournament, are invaluable and some are unique to this venue. (photo by offcoursegolf.com)

Tee shots on the 1st hole of any golf tournament can be nerve-wracking, but even 6-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus admitted that his 1st shot at Augusta was always intimidating. Why is it so? The consensus seems to be that players just want so much to win The Masters as many regard it as the holy grail of all golf tournaments.

Yesterday had a couple of difficult moments, those where your daughter can see that crazy things happen to every golfer, even the best players in the world. Ernie Els, legendary nice guy, make that great guy, 7-putted #1. Folks, in all the junior and college golf that I have personally watched, a 5-putt is the most I can recall. S3 has had 1 4-putt and those dreaded 3-putts are something all golfers want to eliminate. Having a round with no 3-putts is always a goal. Ernie finished with an 80, 8 over par, playing his last 17 holes in 2-over, not bad.

2009 Masters winner Angel Cabrera had a 9 on the par 5 15th hole, 4 over on 1 hole. Now if you ever wondered about the mental toughness of athletes at this highest skill level, he immediately put that previous hole out of his mind and shot birdie, par, birdie on his final 3 holes, using 9 shots total for all 3 holes. Mom and Dad, that’s what champions do! So Angel finished at 73, 1 over par, better than the field average, with a 9! Learning moment here. (Angel Cabrera photo PGA.com)image

There is a cut after today’s round so everyone will be focusing on playing well enough to play on the weekend. There are a few previous winners flirting with that cut line so they’ll need to step it up today. Jordan Spieth played a beautiful round yesterday shooting a leading score of 66, 6 under par. It was a very breezy day Thursday, but as Sir Nick Faldo said, “Jordan played like there was no wind at all, putting his shots in the right places”. And as Sir Nick, 3-time Masters winner also stated, “Augusta National is all about putting your shots in the correct positions. Just being a few feet off in the wrong direction can leave you no real chance to hit a good next shot”. This is because this is cumulative in a way. In other words, if the tee shot is out of position, then it is difficult, if not impossible, to put your next shot in position, and it continues and players are struggling to 2-putt or make dicey up-and-downs. Shot placement, where you want your ball to end up, stop rolling, is always important.

See you on #1 tee looking for a great shot… Sam

Junior Golf: The Masters

In today’s Wednesday Waggle we take a look at the men’s 1st major championship of the year and play starts tomorrow. Just to show you how nearly everybody in the world of golf is trying to tie in to The Masters, here are some examples of what’s available this week. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102-1

1st and foremost, record the golf and the related talk shows like the Golf Channel’s Live From The Masters which airs all week long from Augusta National Golf Club. These “Live From” shows are great with amazing interviews and insights that your son can’t get anywhere else. If you don’t have a TiVo or some sort of recorder for your tv, please consider adding 1 to your tv provider package. Yes, I know it’s extra money, but if you and your son are serious about junior golf, this should be part of your budget. And yes, you need to get a tv package that includes The Golf Channel.

We have used DirecTV for years and they are a superior provider. For the majors they air extra broadcast channels and for The Masters it’s channels 701-705, showing featured holes, featured groups, etc., great stuff! ESPN, DirecTV channel 206, airs the tournament on Thursday and Friday starting at 2:00pm central time. Then CBS, DirecTV channel 5 here in San Antonio, airs it Saturday and Sunday also starting at 2:00pm central time. For Sunday, the final round, always records at least 2 hours extra after the end of scheduled broadcast time to capture any playoffs or just overrunning of time. This happens more often than you would expect.image

Just about every golf entity is relating their week’s activities to The Masters, and why wouldn’t they, certainly we are doing it here. Golf World, Golf Digest and the other big golf media companies are loaded with posts and featured articles about this tournament. Some are historical, some are current events and some are barely filler material, but all are worth at least a glance. Your son can get a grasp on some of the great moments in golf history and you can enjoy learning these things together. Quality time. This fires most kids up! S3 would be ready to get in the car and leave right now to go watch in person! It’s good for your Junior golfer to be excited about his sport. (image wplgroup.com)

Future Champions Golf in California is offering some discounts for event sign-ups when you do it through April 10, relating to The Masters. Big golf retailer Golfsmith is having a Par 3 Sale relating to the famous Masters Par 3 event. GolfNow also is using Masters references in their ads and emails promoting their discounted green fees. Masters mania is everywhere this week and you might take advantage of some of these specials and save a few bucks. Enjoy!

See you on #1 tee ready for a major round of golf… Sam

Junior Golf: The Majors

In this Friday Flop Shot we will introduce you and your son to The Majors, the men’s major golf championships. Yes, The Houston Open is in progress and it’s an excellent tournament but for today’s purpose, it is the event the week before the 1st major of the year. (photo offcoursegolf.com)image

What are “major championships”? Well, they are rare since there are only 4 men’s majors in a year. They are prestigious as each major has its own strict qualifications to be able to enter. You don’t just go sign up. They are also prestigious because every course is set up to be a rigid test of a professional golfer’s skills. So the courses are tough. They are prestigious because they have a mental pressure far greater than a regular PGA tour stop. They are difficult to finish out to win because frankly the thought of being in a position to win a major can blow a player’s mind. So they are 1 of the ultimate mental tests. And of course winning a major puts a golfer into the extremely rare air of a very elite status. Winning majors and how many a golfer has won is how the greatest golfers are measured. And a professional golfer with no majors won will find it difficult, if not impossible to get into the World Golf Hall of Fame, in fact it may be that 2 major victories are now required to be considered for induction.image

The 1st major is The Masters, played at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, starting Monday. It is unique among the majors because it is played at the same course every year. Previous champions have an advantage and it’s not uncommon to win this event more than once. Of course the pro must get that 1st Master’s win. (wghof photo by golfscene.ca)

The 2nd major each year is The U S Open, to be played this year at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania near Pittsburg, June 13-19. The US Open is also commonly called the US National Championship since amateurs as well as pros can qualify to enter. It changes courses every year but a number of sites have hosted more than 1 US Open. This is another tough event folks as testified by Oakmont Country Club regarded as perhaps the most difficult golf course in America is hosting its record 9th US Open. Now that’s impressive and it shows you the USGA, who runs the US Open, isn’t kidding around when it crowns a national champion!

The 3rd major of the year is The Open Championship, formerly called The British Open. 14 different courses have hosted this event. This year the 145th version of The Open Championship will be played at Royal Troon on the rugged awe-inspiring coastline of the West of Scotland, July 10-17. And since Scotland is the birthplace of golf, winning The Open Championship has a prestige and historical significance all it’s own. Also, the winner is called The Champion Golfer of The Year, which sounds really cool!

The 4th and final major is the PGA Championship which this year will be held at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, July 25-31. Since the PGA Championship’s inception in 1916, Baltusrol is 1 of the very few courses to host this event more than once. This tournament is unique in that only PGA professionals are eligible to enter. And there are entry slots available for PGA pros who are not on the tour. No amateurs.

See you on #1 tee looking ready for a major win… Sam

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