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The GrunkleGuru

Grunkle is a slang term for the thick rough on a golf course that I have been using for many years. Given my penchant for inaccurate tee balls, I have become a bit of a guru out of the thick stuff, hence the name. This is a site for my random thoughts about sports (espeically golf) and life in general. While nothing special, it will hopefully offer a break from the daily drudgery for both you and me.

July 26, 2005

Boring Battle Of The Bridges

In last night’s Battle of the Bridges Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen defeated Tiger Woods and John Daly 5 & 3 to win the final Battle of The Bridges.

I’m not upset to see the event end as it has definitely lost some luster over time. When it first happened it was revolutionary, as it allowed golf to tap into the primetime audience, and it provided a unique event as the final holes were actually played under the lights. It was a cool concept and was a ratings success.

Over time the event has dulled, and this year’s event was a total bore to watch. Tiger has announced he will not participate again, and the sponsor has not shown an interest in extending the deal. However, this is the type of thing that if set up properly could be a successful event in the future. Some suggestions include:

- Get players who want to play in this event. The foursome should be a member of the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour taking on a member of the Champions Tour and a member of the Nationwide Tour. This would help give exposure to all the tours, showcase their marketable players, and since there is so much fill-time with only one group on the course you could highlight all the tours and help create interest for them.

- Get personable players to participate. The event is rather boring when you are watching only four golfers and the only conversation between them is the requiem polite chitchat. Get some players who will display their personality in a more demonstrative manner. A little needling of the opponents will go a long way towards generating buzz about the event.

- Players put up their own money. All of these players make plenty of money and while the purse is impressive, it is not a motivator. Instead, each team puts up a set amount of money (for arguments sake we’ll say $150,000 per team) with the winning team winning it all and then making a donation to charity. Everyone wins in this case and all of a sudden you can promote an event where the competitors are playing with their own money. Definitely puts a different spin on the pressure putt.

- Mix up the format. Best ball has been the method of play as of late, but it is somewhat boring to watch. Instead, let’s use three formats for 6 holes each. The first 6 holes would be best ball, the next six would be alternate shot, and the final 6 would be a scramble. This would create better TV, and since it is a departure from the traditional golf, it might loosen up the players as well.

I’d like to see the primetime golf come back in some form in the near future. I enjoy the golf, but if they want to appeal to the masses they need to have something more audience friendly.

July 25, 2005

Look Out Greensboro

I want to take a moment to congratulate my wife, Jacynthia on being selected to participate in this year's Government Works: City Academy

For some time now she has wanted to be more involved in the city, and this is a perfect way for her to get her feet wet.

I'm just glad I did not have to bribe any blogging politicians to get her in the program.

Big Link

Another edition of:

The Big Link

Some good stuff here. Be sure to check it out. Afterall, this chunky white man reccomends it.

July 18, 2005

A Plea For Prayers

I want to take a moment and break from golf.

I just found out that one of my good friends is going through a family crisis. All names and locations are being witheld to protect their privacy.

He and his wife struggled for some time to get pregnant and for some time, and after struggling through some miscarriages, they were blessed with a baby boy over Memorial Day Weekend this year.

Everything was fine until a recent fever led them to the hospital where further tests revealed a failing liver.

From what I understand they are looking at a liver transplant, and they are staying at a Ronald McDonald House.

If you pray please be sure to pray for this caring and loving family. If you do not pray please have some kind thoughts in your heart.

They have a tough road ahead.

UPDATE: Exciting news! It looks like they found the cause of the liver problems and it can be treated without a transplant. The hope is that their infant son will be able to come off the respirator this weekend. Thank you to all who held them in your hearts.

Greetings From West Virginia

Up in Charleston, WV for a product symposium to the Facility Managers for the West Virginia School System. Boring stuff, but hopefully some good business for my full-time gig. Hopefully, we will be able to find some time for golf.

I was going to post extensively on the British Open this past weekend, but Patrick Eakes does a great job, so I will just send you his way, but only after you read my two cents.

If the British Open was held at St. Andrews any year Tiger would be an absolute lock to break Nicklaus's mark for major championships. In his two victories there he has absolutely dominated the rest of the field.

His swing looked great, and if he continues to progress with his swing changes we could easily see another streak of winning seven of eleven majors.

I love watching these guys play St. Andrews, and hope to one day get over there myself, but it is scary how much these guys can take advantage of this course when the conditions are relatively benign.

If the weather is not bad, the value of par goes down hill. When a player can drive 3 - 5 par fours on a golf course, and have mid to low irons for second shots into par fives, the game is not the same. Some of these links courses are defended by the weather, and if the weather is good, the scores will be great. Technology has made these courses much easier then their creators intended to be.

Don't get me wrong. I don't really care what someone is in relation to par. All that matters is that they are at least one stroke better then their competition. Whether that is a field of 155, the other guys in your league, your best friend, your personal best. Golf is all about playing to the best of your abilities everytime you tee it up. If your best score is 77, then you should set that as your personal par and strive to shoot at least 76 next time you play.

The Big Link

Time for another edition of:

The Big Link

I have never read this blog, but I will now.

July 15, 2005

Wie Out At APL

Well, Hootie Johnson can finally get some sleep. After putting together some great golf over the past few days, Michelle Wie was defeated by Clay Ogden 5 and 4.

I am still impressed by what this 15 year old girl has accomplished, and every player partner and opponent have nothing but praise for her game. I still feel that she needs to learn how to win, but that is for a different time.

It would have been very interesting if Michelle had pulled off the miracle and won the Amateur Pub Links event. While the Masters is not obligated to extend an invitation to every USGA Championship (it is an invitational event), they have traditionally invited the winner of the APL.

Given Augusta National’s stance on women being members, it would have been a much discussed decision.

However, I do think she would have received the invite. Women have played Augusta as guests, and while this would have created major headlines, Wie would not be offered membership. Just the opportunity to tee it up in one of the most prestigious golf events in the world. Now, if she ever won the Masters that would be a different story as membership does come with that green jacket.

July 13, 2005

What Did The Guru Do

For those of you who are regular readers, you know that I wrote what I hoped to be a recurring segment titled, “What The Guru Did”. Well, unfortunately, I have not done much that is noteworthy as of late (unless you count rounds of 78 & 79 with no birdies, no bogeys and too many putts as attention grabbing headlines). Well, that changed last night.

We had our regular Tuesday night group together at Twin Oaks for our regular play. We play two man teams in nine-hole segments where you play best ball. $5.00 per man with a two tie / all tie rule meaning that if two groups finish tied for first it is a push and no team money changes hands. We also have an individual skins game where if you are the only one to birdie a hole you get a dollar from everyone, and if you happen to make an Ace then it is five bucks a man. Nobody’s going to have to skip a meal because of these wagers, but it definitely adds some excitement and gets the competitive juices flowing.

Standing on the first tee the weather was perfect, the pins were in easy locations and I fully expected a low score would win this nine-hole event. “4-under pushes, 5-under wins,” I said to myself as I did not want to put any undue pressure on my teammate. We handled the first hole in routine fashion; center of the green, two putts for par, and on to the second hole where things started to get a little interesting.

Hole two was playing about 72 yards with the pin on the right edge of the green. I went pin seeking and managed to hit it about 80 yards. Now I’m sitting directly above the hole with a shot that is running away from me. I have been working on my flop shot for some time now, but had been lacking the courage as of late to try it when it mattered. However, my partner was in easy two putt range so I gave it a shot, and what a shot it was.

With an open stance and an open face I deftly took my lob wedge back, and trusting that I was in the right position fired through the shot making sure to keep the club face open through impact. Gently the ball rose, and landed softly right at the spot I picked out above the hole. Slowly it rolled towards the hole, and for a second it looked like it would drop, but alas it trickled by and I made to comebacker for par.

Sitting on the third tee (longest of the course at 130 yards) I’m faced with a decision. Hit a full pitching wedge past the hole and spin it back, or punch a 9-iron and hope I have my distance control down as long is death. Perfectly struck shot. 3 feet from the hole, and I make the putt, but low and behold a roar erupts from the group in front of us. Seems one of our opponents has aced the 5th hole and has moved to 4-under.

All of a sudden we are looking at a situation where we are three shot behind despite the fact that we are 1-under through three. So what does the guru do? He dials it in and gets the focus going.

- Lob wedge to 5 feet on 4 for birdie
- Gap wedge to 3 feet on 5 for birdie
- Partner makes birdie on 6
- Lob wedge to 7 feet on 7 for birdie

We par in (including a 10 foot par saver on 9) to post 5-under and win the session.

Golf like that is fun. When you can go out and execute, and step up to the challenge that others throw your way is a very satisfying feeling.

July 11, 2005

The Weekend That Was

It was a quiet week in golf this past weekend what with all the ‘big names’ getting ready to play in The Open Championship this coming week at historic St. Andrews. However, there was still some excitement to be found in the world of golf.

First, I am quite the prophet. Michelle Wie missed the cut, as I thought she would. In fact the cut was at –3 as I felt it would be. And while she is saying the right things to the media regarding her collapse during the last four holes (plus 3 to miss the cut by two), I still think she failed because she has not put herself in enough pressure situations to truly understand what her golf swing will do under pressure.

Note: The John Deere Classic definitely got the media attention it wanted, as it garnered musings from our local urbanist.

I wish her the best in her golfing endeavors as I think she can be truly great for the game, but she has got to start playing in tournaments that she has a chance of winning. Playing against seasoned professionals (either male or female) is helping build her confidence, but it is not teaching her how to play under pressure.

Also at the John Deere Classic we saw the culmination of the tragic and inspiring story of Sean O’Hair. This was the kid that came close earlier this year with a second place finish at the Byron Nelson Classic, and brought light to a story of an overbearing father. This loving dad forced his son to sign a management contract at the age of 17, run a mile for every bogey during a round, and one time withdrew his son from a tournament after 3 putting the 18th hole. Congratulations to Sean for earning this victory coming back from 5 shots to earn his first PGA Tour victory, a trip to The Open this week, and more importantly and two-year exemption on tour.

Finally, I want to remind you of a player who captured our hearts for three days in June. He had an engaging personality, an ‘everyman’ quality if you will. He was a media darling that everyone was rooting for. Until he shot an 84 on Sunday of the U.S. Open, and then all was forgotten. No sponsorships, no corporate gigs, no luxury hotels.

Instead, Jason Gore turned down invitations to play on the PGA Tour, and instead followed his dream to earn a full-time spot next year through the Nationwide Tour. Well, the U.S. Open gave Gore a confidence that he has been lacking over the last year or so, and it all came together for him this week as he won the Nationwide event in West Virginia, and the $107,000 that goes with it. It’s just too bad that the media that loved him a week ago could care less about him this week.

Ramble On

It's time for another edition of

THE BIG LINK

Ramble over and check it out.

July 08, 2005

Wie She or Won't She

This week on the PGA Tour is a rather slow one with most of the stars over in Europe getting ready for the British Open next week.

Note: All indications are that while security will be heightened due to yesterday’s tragic events, there will be no delay in the Open Championship.

However, John Deere, the sponsor of this week’s event took advantage of the slow time and gave an exemption to 15-year-old prodigy, Michelle Wie. She more then held her own yesterday shooting a 1-under 70 giving her a legitimate chance to make the cut. We’ll know about 4 hours after she tees off at 1:48CT.

There is a lot of debate this morning on the sports talk radio about whether she will make the cut. I say not a chance.

While it is impressive what she is doing, the cut is already at 2-under and I expect it to go to 3-under by the end of the day. That means she is going to have to play better then she did yesterday, and I don’t see it happening.

Look, she is not battle tested. She has not learned to win golf tournaments. or come through in the clutch. I’m in awe of what she can do on a golf course, and wish I had just an inkling of her talent, but she does not know how to close the deal. Can she sit on the 17th tee and know she needs to play the last two holes 1 under to make the cut? I just don’t see it happening.

Of course, those of you who know my track record in predicting the outcome of golf tournaments (I did pick the winner last week!), knows that the possibility of Michelle proving me wrong is better then average.

July 06, 2005

Fix Your Bleeping Ball Mark

Over the last few weeks, I have found myself with the opportunity to play more golf then I have earlier this year. While there is nothing spectacular to report on my game (other then my amazing ability to achieve mediocrity), I have noticed a trend that must stop.

If you are playing a round of golf, please, for the love of God, take care of the course you are on. I’m not asking for anyone to do extensive maintenance, just basic stuff that should become habit every time you are on the course.

This includes two simple and easy things:

First, repair your divots. Most courses have sand mix on the golf cart and it takes no time to grab the mix and drop some in your divot. It allows the grass to heal properly and at a much faster pace. Down here in the south, where Bermuda grass is prevalent, do not replace the divot, as it will not grow back. Instead either use the sand mix provided, or kick in the edges.

Second, and more importantly, fix your #$@%^&# ball marks on the green! I cannot possibly take a stronger stance on the matter. It takes two seconds, and not only does it help the greens heal quickly (3 days as opposed to 3 weeks), but also it is just courteous.

If you hit the ball in the air and it landed on the green, I’d be willing to be you made a pitch mark. Simply take your repair tool (available in the pro shop if you don’t have one), gently push in the sides and tamp it down. If you need pictures you can find them here.

For those of us that love the game of golf, and relish every opportunity we get to play there is nothing more annoying then seeing a great round ruined because golfers in front of you do not take the time to show the courtesy you are tying to show those behind you.

I’m a strong supporter of the motto that states, “fix your own ball mark and one other” and always try to oblige, but wouldn’t it be nice if people took responsibility for their own ball marks?

Please, take it upon yourself to fix your divots and repair your ball marks. We will all enjoy the game more.

Big Link - Vol. XVI

Actually, I don't know what edition of The Big Link this is, but 16 sounded like a sweet number.

Check out this week's edition of

THE BIG LINK

A new one to me, but her work is very impressive.

July 01, 2005

Out Of Town

Heading out of town for the Holiday Weekend.

Here's hoping that each and everyone of you has a relaxing, enjoyable, and SAFE weekend.

Tee it up if you get a chance. I know I will.

Happy Fourth of July!