Thursday, December 29

2006 Golf Resolutions

Day 68 without playing golf

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? Do any involve golf?

It seems like resolutions are made to be broken. They’re easy to make but hard to fulfill.

Nonetheless, I'll make a few modest golf resolutions for 2006.

1. Play more golf.
Considering I only played twice this year -- once in May and once in October -- this one should be easy. But they don’t call me The Armchair Golfer for nothing. I don’t get out on the golf course much.

2. Update this golf blog nearly every day.
This is my outlet for golf. This is where I hang out with you golf enthusiasts, our 19th hole. Whether you’re a regular reader or new to this blog, I want to give you a reason to come back. So in 2006 I’ll be providing fresh golf stuff on a daily (or nearly daily) basis. Keep stopping by.

3. Attend the Masters.
OK, this one isn’t going to happen unless I win the practice round lottery. It’s more a wish than a resolution. But I’m ready. Now that I live on the East Coast, I can get to Augusta National by car in about five hours. I’ll be watching my mail box.

The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, December 28

Note to Sean O'Hair and Other First-timers: Don't Throw Away Your Masters Invitation!

Day 67 without playing golf

Ninety-nine invitations to compete in the 70th Masters were recently placed in the mail. The field will be finalized on March 27 after completion of the Players Championship.

First-time invitees beware -- the Masters invitation is decidedly low profile. It's not trimmed in green or gold. Rather, it's a plain white envelope with no return address.

"When I got my first invitation in the mail, I almost threw it away because I didn't know what it was," Charles Howell III told the Associated Press. "It doesn't stand out at all. It's a plain, normal white envelope. Doesn't say Augusta National, no return address. And once I opened it, well, now it's in a frame in my office. My first invitation to the Masters."

Along with Sean O'Hair, other players who will make their first trip to Augusta National include Tour Championship winner Bart Bryant and Augusta native Vaughn Taylor.

Two notable former champions who won't compete in the 2006 Masters are Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, December 27

Woods and Nicklaus Share Golf Spotlight

Day 66 without playing golf

Everybody, it seems, is doing their year in review, including those in the golf realm. I mentioned recently this year's top moment in golf -- at least according to GolfDigest.com. It was Tiger's chip-in on the 16th hole in the final round of The Masters.

That's a good call.

But let's also give Jack Nicklaus his due. In true Nicklaus fashion, he closed out his illustrious major championship career by curling in a birdie putt on the final hole of the British Open at St. Andrews. Also great stuff.

It's fitting that Tiger and the Golden Bear -- the young challenger and the major championship record holder -- would produce two of the year's most dramatic moments in golf.

By the way, if you haven't voted in my Tiger Woods/Jack Nicklaus mini poll at right, please take the opportunity on this visit.

The Armchair Golfer

Friday, December 23

'I'm Headed for the Chopping Mall'

Day 62 without playing golf

That's right, chopping mall not shopping mall.

I picked that term up from the glossary of The WORST-CASE SCENARIO Survival Handbook: GOLF. The glossary lists some golf sayings and their translations. Here are three of my favorites:

"I'm headed for the chopping mall." (Translation: I am playing a terrible round.)

"Well, that's an elephant's ass." (Translation: That shot is high but not very long -- and it stinks.)

"You're in throw-up range." (Translation: Your putt is close enough to make, but long enough that you will probably miss it.)

The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, December 22

Longest Drive Sure, But What About Longest Carry?

Day 61 without playing golf

Recently I reported on the longest drive ever hit in a professional golf tournament. It was 515 yards by 64-year-old Mike Austin, who struck the bad boy with a persimmon driver in Las Vegas way, way back in 1974.

But apparently the recently deceased Austin can't claim longest carry. No, that would be Jack Hamm, who launched a drive that carried 458 yards (or 419 meters) at Highlands Ranch, Colorado, in 1993.

Thin air aside, that's one mammoth poke.

The Armchair Golfer

(Source: Guinness World Records)

Wednesday, December 21

First Day of Winter, No Golf in Sight

Day 60 without playing golf

Throw another log on the fire, set up your golf net in the garage, clear a path to putt on the carpet -- it's going to be a long winter.

My golf prospects are dismal, as usual. There's been snow and ice on the crest of the Blue Ridge for going on two weeks. Daytime temps have barely crawled above freezing. Time to hunker down and wait it out.

Even my buddy Dave who checks in regularly at the Armchair Golf Blog reported bad golf weather -- in Florida, of all places!

"This past Sunday was the first round of golf we have had to cancel for over a year," wrote Dave. "It was raining all day and the temperature was even cool, actually cold for here, 55 degrees for the high."

You know things are bad when you can't tee it up in the Sunshine State.

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, December 20

Get Your FREE GolfRound Towel at Golf Dash

Day 59 without playing golf

My friends at Golf Dash are offering a FREE GolfRound Towel for new members of Golf Dash (The Intelligent Golf Directory). Keep it for yourself or make it a gift.

Membership to Golf Dash is free, so it's a no-brainer. (I will tell you more about Golf Dash in a future post, but you can check out their directory here.)

Here are some details on the FREE GolfRound Towel from the Golf Dash folks:

"The GolfRound Towel is made with a water repellent material on the outside and an absorbent terry cloth on the inside. Lightly moisten the towel and carry it in your pocket. When you get to the green you have a damp towel to clean your ball with. It's that easy!"

This promotion is for December only and the GolfRound towels are going fast. So hustle on over and register at Golf Dash today.

The Armchair Golfer

Monday, December 19

How CBS Captured the Top Moment in Golf

Day 58 without playing golf

This year's top moment in golf? Tiger Wood's chip-in on the 16th hole in the final round of The Masters, according to GolfDigest.com.

Hard to argue.

Here's a GolfDigest.com excerpt, including how CBS captured the moment:

"Tiger Woods won the 2005 Masters, but Nike may have benefited even more than its most famous endorsee.

"Woods' chip-in at the 16th hole Sunday would have been an incredible shot even if CBS had not captured it perfectly, zooming in closer and closer as the ball made its way down the slope, hesitated on the edge of the hole -- with the Nike 'Swoosh' logo perfectly centered -- before tumbling in. It was the top moment of the year in televised golf.

"Verne Lundquist, who called the shot for CBS, explained that getting the memorable sequence was more than just dumb luck.

"Earlier in the week, longtime cameraman Bob Wishnie was in the tower with Lundquist watching a practice round. 'Look,' said Wishnie, 'I've got a new toy.' A player had marked his ball about 100 feet away with a coin and Wishnie was showing off his new camera with a 100:1 zoom lens. 'I looked in the viewfinder,' said Lundquist, 'and I could see In God We Trust 2002 [on the coin].' "

What were your top moments of the year in golf?

The Armchair Golfer

Friday, December 16

78 Millionaires on the PGA Tour This Year

Day 55 without playing golf

Yep, 78 PGA Tour players made a cool million in the 2005 season.

Tiger Woods headed the list with $10,628,024. Rounding out the millionaire list was Aaron Baddeley. Thirty Tour players banked $2 million or more.

On the LPGA Tour, there were five millionaires, led by Annika Sorenstam with winnings of $2,373,240.

The Champions Tour produced 14 millionaires with Dana Quigley holding down the top spot with $2,170,258.

The Armchair Golfer

(Source: USA Today)

Thursday, December 15

More Family Time for Mickelson

Day 54 without playing golf

Phil Mickelson will join Tiger Woods in skipping the season-opening Mercedes Championships at Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii. It will be Lefty's second straight absence from the event. Phil was last eligible to play in the winners-only tournament in 2003.

"I'm probably going to catch some heat for that," Mickelson told USA Today. But not from Amy and the kids.

Don't be surprised if Phil waits until the Bob Hope Desert Classic in February to begin his 2006 campaign.

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, December 13

The Kindness of Golf Strangers

Day 52 without playing golf

The father of an ex-girl friend once told me (a la Will Rogers) that he never met a golfer he didn't like. He noted that, as a group, they're a good bunch of people -- usually kind and respectful and appreciative of a game that is often a window to one's character.

I tend to agree.

In what other walk of life do you join up with total strangers for four or five hours and consistently enjoy the experience and fellowship?

I mention this because I was touched by the kindness of a golf stranger who replied to my recent post about Florida and California being exceptional winter playgrounds for golf.

Anonymous wrote:

"I have an uncle who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you're anything like he is, you can come stay with me in my house anytime you want for as long as you want. I live in Southern California with a golf course not more than five minutes from my house."

Thanks, whoever you are! Very kind and very cool.

And thanks to all of you who read this blog.

It's great to hang out with golfers, even if it's only in the golf blogosphere and not on the golf course.

The Armchair Golfer

Friday, December 9

John Daly, Golf Ball Driving Man

(Based on an early folk song version of John Henry, Steel Driving Man)

John Daly was a golfer
He gripped and ripped and let fly,
"Tee 'em up and swing from the heels,
I'll out drive you or I'll die."

John Daly's caddy came to him
With a driver in his hand,
He laid his hand on John's shoulder and said:
"This belongs to a golf ball driving man."

John Daly's caddy said to him:
"I believe a storm's coming in!"
John Daly said to his caddy: "Oh, Lord!
That's my golf ball you hear in the wind."

John Daly said to his caddy:
"I play for the common man,
When this old life beats me down,
I'll die with a driver in my hand."

Copyright 2005 Armchair Golf Blog. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 8

Breaking 80

Day 47 without playing golf

Have you ever broken 80? Do you remember the first time? It's a huge and very satisfying milestone for many golfers.

I was reminded of this milestone when I stumbled upon a Web site promising to help golfers break 80. The headline reads, "Discover the simple and easy secrets to drop 7 to 10 strokes from your next round of golf instantly ... legally ... and without even trying!"

Yeah, right.

Anyway, if you have broken 80, you probably remember the first time and some of the details of your round.

I first broke 80 when I was 12 at a nine-hole course named Desert Aire in Palmdale, California. After several near misses, I had a big breakthrough -- a round of 75.

Those were the carefree days of youth when I played golf all summer long. Now I'd be happy to tee it up more than a couple times a year.

The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, December 7

'USGA Year in Review' Airs This Sunday

Day 46 without playing golf

NBC will air a one-hour special on the USGA's 13 national championships on Sunday, December 11, at 2 p.m.

There will be special emphasis on the winners of the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Amateur. Jimmy Roberts will host the program from Winged Foot Golf Club, the site of this year's U.S.Open won by Michael Campbell.

A lot of the program might not be that interesting to golf fans who don't follow amateur golf very closely.

At least it's a good opportunity for the USGA to highlight its events and run its commercials, some of which I really enjoy.

Like the guy who is waiting at the rain shelter in a downpour to resume his round.

"I think it's letting up!"

The Armchair Golfer

Monday, December 5

John Daly’s Mysterious Broken Right Hand

Day 44 without playing golf

How do you break your right hand playing in an exhibition?

That’s what some are wondering after John Daly pulled out of the Bard Capital Challenge last week.

"Unfortunately, due to an injury, I am forced to withdraw from this year’s inaugural Bard Capital Challenge," Daly said in a statement. The injury, according to Daly, was a broken right hand.

Tournament officials said the injury occurred at the Duff Challenge at Casablanca Resort in Mesquite, Nevada.

How long will Long John be sidelined? No one is saying.

The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, December 1

All-time Longest Drive Answer

Day 40 without playing golf

The answer to the all-time longest drive quiz is D., 515 yards.

Mind boggling, huh?

And get this: It was struck by a 64-year-old man with a persimmon driver in the 1974 U.S. National Seniors Open Championship in Las Vegas. That’s 31 years ago, the dark ages of golf technology.

The man’s name was Mike Austin. He died last week.

"It was like God held the ball in the air," said Austin’s wife Tanya, who witnessed the drive. God and a 27-mph tail wind. But still, 515 yards. Sheeeez.

By the way, second place belongs to Davis Love with a drive of 476 yards.

The Armchair Golfer