Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Here's Padraig Harrington and Raphael Jacquelin attempting the world’s longest par-3 at the Legends Golf and Safari Resort in South Africa. With the tee box perched high up on the impressive Hanglip Mountain and accessible only by helicopter, this par 3 hole is played from a vertical height of 430 metres. Paddy's not tryin' the Happy Gilmore off this tee box. That one-day beard growth makes him look tough tough!
SpinDoctor Donal Hughes 7th July2009: Ben Curtis Profile, What’s In Ben’s Bag, The Case for an Older Major Winner, Swing Plane, Cleveland Launcher Combo Irons, Loch Lomond Tips, John Deere Classic Tips, Rory’s New Car and more……
Under The Microscope: Ben Curtis
Born: May 26, 1977 (age 32)
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio
Height: 5 ft 11 in
Residence: Stow, Ohio
Turned Pro: 2000
PGA Tour Wins: 3
Curtis hails from Columbus, Ohio where his family runs the Mill Creek Golf Club. With golf in his blood from a young age was a successful amateur in home state. After in inauspicious start to life in the professional ranks, Curtis earned his tour card via Q-School in 2002. He entered his first major, the British Open at Royal St George's in 2003 making history as the first debutant to win a major in 90 years. Mind you he had a helping hand from Thomas Bjorn who is still trying to hack out of the greenside bunker on the 16th. 2008 was Curtis's best season to date, recording five top ten finishes and missing only four cuts all year. He tied for seventh at The Open in Royal Birkdale and tied for second in the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. This second place finish qualified him for the 2008 Ryder Cup, his first appearance in the event. In 2009, Curtis took up membership of the European Tour.
Bloggy Underfoot: Older Golfers In The Dock
Your Honour: When I was a young fella playing under-16’s football for Ballinrobe, the “Cornmarket” was our meeting place for away games. We were usually ordered to be there at five o’ clock sharp. Our bus driver, affectionately known as “The Mule”, simply did not do late. His determination to leave on time was legendary, irrespective of whether our county midfielder was there or not. They even came up with the saying, “Time, tide and the Mule’s Bus wait for no man.”
Sure enough time has passed and the Mule still ferries the kids to matches, always on time. I’m in my mid-thirties now and becoming more conscious than ever about my age and it’s effect on my golf game. I often find myself wondering if I can compete with all these young, fearless, supple, technically perfect whipper-snappers. It’s hard to figure out why, as one gets older, this fear of the youth surfaces for golfers, because when you look at it analytically, I submit the opposite should be the case.
Okay, I will concede the kids look the part with their white trousers and Oakley shades, while us elders alternate between navy and beige. But, as Shakespeare put it “All that glisters is not gold, often have you heard that told”. What have the following golfers all got in common: Angel Cabrera, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen? The answer is they are all either 40 or turning that corner in the next year. Vijay Singh is 46 and has won 22 tour titles worldwide since turning 40. Kenny Perry picked up his second PGA title this year at the tender age of 48 and has climbed to fourth in the world rankings. It is these very names that are the first to be scribbled when wagering on Major championships. And who, around this time last year, took a week off from “popping a few shrimps on the barbie” and playing tennis out the back of his retirement home to nearly steal The Open? That’s right, 50-something, Greg Norman. Surely the older generation are building up a solid case here.
The prosecution argue that the youngsters have some advantage on the greens. Picture yourself, they say, with a slippery eight foot downhill left to right putt for par. The difference between a teenager and a forty-something striking that putt can be summed up in one word- “consequence”. The teenager is thinking “If I miss this, I will drop a shot” while the forty something is thinking, “I’ve missed this putt a thousand times, if I hit it too hard I might not get the one back!” Our assertion however, is that there a plenty of other times during a round where the experience of having been in a situation and messed up, does actually stand to the older golfer. He or she knows when to lay up, when to take a penalty drop and when to lag a putt. Younger golfers never lay up, would rather slash and burn than take a drop and bolt every putt at the hole.
I had the same two conversations recently with an 17 year old low handicap club golfer and a 34 year old European Tour pro. The debate surrounded the new R9 driver from Taylormade. The first question the 18 year old asked was “Does it go further than the others?”. The first question Chilean professional Felipe Aguilar asked was “Does it go straighter than all the others?”. When pressed as to whether he was concerned about distance, Felipe added, “Who cares about 10 yards when you’re up to your knees in rough.” And that, your honour, is why an oldie may very well win the Open.
Dr. and The Medic: Swing Plane Drill
You slice your drives due to an over the top swing.
Work on matching your swing plane to the angle of your clubshaft at address.
Stick an old shaft or long stick in the ground about seven feet behind the ball. Put it into the ground at an angle so that it matches the angle of the shaft of your club at address. Set up to the ball and double check to see that the club in your hand and the shaft in the ground are slanted at the same angle. This is the swing plane that you want to try to swing along as you take the club back and as you are returning it to the ball. Many over the top players lift the club up away from the ball instead of extending and rotating their arms back during the backswing. So, as you do this drill, think of trying to hit the shaft behind you as you take the club back. Then continue rotating your arms as you complete your backswing. Match this same path as you return the clubhead down to the ball and mirroring the angle of the shaft behind you.
The Doc’s Rules Quiz
Do you really know the rules of golf? Try these questions and text your answers to 087-3140467. The winner will receive a Kartel shirt as worn by Paddy Harrington!
Q1 True or False: In match play, a player’s ball is accidentally deflected by an opponent’s caddie. The opponent loses the hole.
Q2 True or False: A player must start a stipulated round with fourteen clubs
Q3 True or False: In stroke play, Tony returns a card with the correct scores for each hole but the total is incorrect. Tony is disqualified.
Last weeks answers
Q.1 - In stroke play, Tony looks into Donal’s bag to determine which club Donal used for his last stroke. What is the ruling?
Is it A: Tony incurs a penalty of two strokes, B. Tony is disqualified or C: There is no penalty. Answer C, no penalty
Q.2 – True or False: A ball is in a bunker when any part of it touches the bunker. Answer True
Q3 – True or False: A player has fourteen clubs in his bag. At the first hole he slices his drive out of bounds and in frustration snaps the shaft of his driver over his knee. The player may run to his car and get a replacement driver. Answer False
Congrats to the winner Barry Lynch, Carrigaline, Cork who wins a classy Kartel shirt compliments of Golfstyle Galway.
I Want One Of Those: Cleveland Launcher Combo Irons
From the same stable as Singh, Weekly and Toms, this set of irons from Cleveland has one more awards than Slumdog Millionaire. The Launcher Combo iron set features a hybrid 4 and 5 iron with the rest having a 12% larger face than any previous Cleveland model. Geared to the mid-high handicap golfer for maximum forgiveness and distance. €445 in Golfstyle, Galway.
Bet Your Balls
The Barclays Scottish Open
09 Jul 2009 - 12 Jul 2009
Tim Clark 28/1
I love Tim Clark for many reasons. He seems to be constantly up against the eight ball, but battles on gamely. He looks up to Peter Stringer, physically can’t roll his wrists, has to use a long putter and has been runner-up more times than I’ve had hot dinners. Tim’s most recent implosion came at last months Colonial where he filled his pants over several short putts to win. Loch Lomond is the exception for Tim, where he won in 2005 and had top ten finishes on three other occasions.
Charl Schwartzel 50/1
The Scottish Open has the same prize fund as The Irish Open but has one of the strongest fields of the season due to its place in the calendar. Funny that. I think the big guns will have their eyes on the Major prize, so I’m going at some long odds chances this week. Charl Schwartzel is heading for his best year on the European Tour. On his first outing since Bethpage he sparkled in the opening rounds before fading in France. That experience should get him up to tour tempo for an assault on the Loch Lomond title that narrowly eluded him in 2006. Johan Edfors emerged victorious on that occasion.
Richard Green 33/1
We’re more than happy with Richard having given us another good run for our money in France. That’s three top tens in three starts for the genial Aussie who has now begun his sprint in the Race To Dubai. A ten under total here last year saw Green tie for third behind McDowell and Kingston, and he will be bubbling with confidence at the prospect of going one or two better this week.
John Deere Classic
Monday Jul 6 – Sunday Jul 12, 2009
TPC Deere Run · Silvis, Ill.
Kenny Perry 10/1
While the whole country seem to have left for Scotland this week, it looks Kenny Perry has been left behind to mop up another title. It has already been a dream season for the 48 year old Kentuckian, with two wins and a narrow Major loss at Augusta. The fact that he enters the John Deere as the defending champion for strengthens the chances that Perry will climb further up the world rankings from his current fourth position.
David Toms 16/1
Toms’ re-emergence this year as one of the world’s best. In 16 events this year, he has finished in the top 10 seven times, including three second place finishes. The most recent of those was at The Travellers at the end of June. The weakened field this week might just present Toms with his best chance of victory this year. Toms has actually triumphed at this venue in the pre-John Deere days having won the Quad City Classic in 1997.
Charlie Wi 40/1
Martial arts expert Wi is about as solid a touring pro as they come. The Americanized South Korean has made 12 cuts from 16 events this year including three top 10’s and a second place at the Zurich Classic. Went low in the opening round last year with a 64 out of the blocks and performed solidly thereafter to tie fourth. An educated, if somewhat hopeful, each way shot.
Powerplay Coming To Fota
The risk-reward game “PowerPlay” is coming to Cork. Two PowerPlay championships will be staged at Fota Island Resort on the 10th and 24th of July. Fot those not familiar with the game, there are two flags on every green, a Black ‘PowerPlay’ Flag placed in a tough location, and an easier White Flag. The player must nominate on the tee, which flag he intends to shoot for. Entry to the PowerPlay matches cost €40, and include a generous BBQ afterwards. For further information and to book your PowerPlay round and BBQ please contact Fota Island Resort at 021 4883700 or visit fotaisland.ie.
Have you ever wondered how the pro’s can get so much backspin even out of heavy rough. Well, no more. The PGA Tour's recently voted in new groove regulations for clubs with 25° or more loft. There had been some calls to delay until 2011 but the decision was driven in by PGA tour supremo Tim Finchem. The decision was met with positivity by most pros on tour, including Tiger Woods. “It'll be interesting seeing guys catching flyers and not being able to spin the ball back out of the rough... short-siding yourself is obviously going to pay a little more of a price," Woods said. Pros plan to negate the effect of the change by switching to a higher-spinning ball or add a 64-degree wedge. But before you throw out your old wedge, the rule change will only come into force for casual golfers in 2024!
Rory’s New Jammer
After a hectic couple of weeks in Bethpage and Munich, Rory McIlory finally got a well deserved rest last week. During his time off he caught up on his blog entries announcing some new additions to his garage. The first was a new dog, a labradoodle called Theo. The second was a Ferrari F430 in gun metal grey. Rory reported on his travels to Birmingham with his Dad to collect the auto and drive it up to Stranraer and then on the Ferry to Belfast. The decision on the make and model was heavily influenced by one Darren Clarke. Whatever next? Rory with a big Cuban cigar strolling down the last at Turnberry?
Dougherty in Biz Hub Swing Vision
We’ve started a new department in the Irish Examiner where we attempt to emulate the likes of Bob Kostis and Ewen Murray in carefully examining the swings of the top pro’s. Our focus this week was on BMW International winner Nick Dougherty. After deconstructing Nick’s putting stroke frame by frame, we have unanimously concluded that he may be a little too crouched over the ball! The pictures never lie.