.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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.

September 30, 2005

Tip of the Week - Watch the Best

For my tip of the week this week, I will call upon all of you golfers to not focus on your game, but rather focus on those of the best players in the world. North Carolina is very lucky this week, as not only do we have the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro (which every media outlet is calling something different), but our neighbors in Raleigh are hosting a Champions Tour event. I encourage everyone to get out there if there is any way that they can. I would love to, but I am in the process of selling my house and have too long of a list for this weekend.

However, if I was going out there I can promise you that I would be spending a lot of time at the driving range and practice green watching these guys get ready for a round.

Pay attention to their warm-up routines. They don’t just beat balls, but rather have a set routine they go through. Even when they are done with their round, they might come back to the range for work on their game. This is where the analysis happens. If they were struggling with some aspect on the course, they work in it while it is fresh in their minds. Warm up is not for fixing swing flaws. It is for figuring out what you have for the day, and taking that skill set to the course and getting the most out of it that you can.

So if you are heading out to the course, don’t forget to spend some time at the range.

September 28, 2005

Fab Five Come To Greensboro

This week the traveling road show known as the PGA Tour comes to my hometown of Greensboro, NC. Now known as the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro, most long-standing citizens still refer to it as the GGO (Greater Greensboro Open). We have been struggling with attendance during the past few years, and rumors of our demise are being discussed as the PGA Tour starts work on a new television contract. So, if you can’t make it out to watch the golf (as is the case with yours truly), make sure to watch it on TV. Those Nielsen ratings might be worth something after all. Anyway, onto the picks.

Last week I had my first week where all five of my guys made the cut. However, nobody earned more then $24,850 so I still finished in 13,848th place for the week. For this segment I am ranked 6,550th, so I have set a goal of cracking the top 5,000 for the end of the year. We are nothing if we have not goals, and mediocrity seems to work well for me in this situation. This week I have stayed away from anyone that played in the President’s Cup last week, as I think there will be a strong case of burnout hitting the competitors (Davis Love III has already pulled out of the event and he designed the course.)

Sergio Garcia – As long as he does not spend too much time in the Michelob Party Tent he is the best choice of the field. Strong ball-striker and while his putting is suspect at times, Forest Oaks is not known as tough putting course.

Tom Lehman – This guy has got to be fired up. He has a year to get a team together for the Ryder Cup and he already has two teams that work great together in Tiger Woods & Jim Furyk along with Phil Mickelson & Chris DiMarco. If he splits these guys up at any point I will be shocked.

Ryan Moore – Played here as an amateur, and is on his way to earning his card for next year. If he had played a full season his scoring average would rank in the top-30, not too shabby.

Carl Pettersson – Picked him last week, and this is a bit of a homecoming for him having gone to the home of the Whirlies. Has been playing better as of late, and I am expecting big things from him.

Kevin Na – The youngest guy on tour played well at the beginning of the year and fell off the map, look for a comeback starting….Now!

I only left $3,750 on the table this week so this is one of my more expensive teams. Let’s hope that they can hold up under the intense pressure.

September 27, 2005

Rule of the Week - Where's My Ball?

Here is the situation. Playing a short par 4 a golfer decides to take a chance and drive the green. The hole is downhill and has a slight dogleg protected by trees. He hits what ‘feels’ like a great shot. However, when he and his playing partners get down to the green, they do not find the ball anywhere.

After 5 minutes of frantic searching the golfer in question returns to the tee to replay the hole. A conservative tee shot and strong approach leave him 6 feet from the hole putting for bogey (three of the tee, fourth to the green, getting ready to hit his fifth shot). As he pulls the flagstick from the hole out pops his first ball. Our hero starts jumping for joy thinking he has made a hole-in-one. However, his playing partner says that ball became dead once he replayed from the tee. Who is right?

According to the USGA, our hero has scored an ace. Once the ball is in the hole the hole is considered completed, even if the golfer played another ball. While his opponent will be upset that he lost the hole, he can take solace in the fact that his partner will be buying him a drink at the end of the round.

September 26, 2005

Meanwhile, On The PGA Tour Front...

Robert Gamez earned an impressive victory (over 15 years since his last win) at the Valero Texas Open. I did not see much of this event, but anytime anyone is 18 under over four days on a par 70 track that is playing some good golf.

I did see one feel-good story come out of this event as well. David Duval made his first cut of the year at this event. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come for an immensely talented player who has at times looked like just a weekend hacker.

All The President's Men

It’s too bad that the President’s Cup has not been able to draw the interest like that of the Ryder Cup. It was an exciting event, that came down to the last day (as I predicted that it would). The weekend matches were quite exciting, and it was culminated in the singles matches on Sunday. Some of the highlights for me included:

Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk vs. Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby on Saturday was an event for the ages. In the first match (alternate shot) the U.S. squad had to win the final two holes to earn a half. Then, 30 minutes later this same group went out in a best ball match that was not decided until the 18th hole. 36 holes of pressure packed golf that while not always the prettiest, was some of the most compelling that has been seen in years.

Tiger Woods acting like part of a team. This guy had gone through 14 different playing partners in team competition since he turned pro. The pairing with Furyk turned out to be brilliant, and it brought a team energy out of Tiger that I had not seen before.

Fred Couples winning his single’s match. Freddie was a captain’s pick, and during the first three days looked to be a sentimental one at best. However, he managed to gut out a tough match against the international’s best in Vijay Singh. Huge for the U.S. squad.

Chris DiMarco is the gutsiest player on the U.S. squad bar none. Nobody has more energy for these events then Chris, and he should be on every squad until he is named captain in about 10 years. Just money when the chips are on the line.

Phil Mickelson’s expression on Sunday was classic. He though he had earned a tough ½ point for the U.S which secured the cup. However, the President’s Cup has a quirky rule where no match can end as a half when the cup is still up for grabs. His look of disbelief that he had not earned his victory was classic.

Finally, I want to comment on what was the underlying motivator for this team. All of them to a group said that they were playing for Jack Nicklaus as much as they were playing for themselves. As has been mentioned before, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus lost a granchild in a tragic turn of events this past spring, and before the matches started the team presented the Nicklaus family with a portrait of their grandchild, and stated that this was why they wanted to win. Golfers are often considered individualistic and selfish to an extent. They play a solitary game that requires a singular focus on oneself and their abilities. When you can get them to come together and play as a team, sometimes special things can happen. This was one of those weekends.

September 23, 2005

Tip of the Week - Have a Purpose

This week’s Tip of The Week comes from the short game guru, Dave Pelz, and it is one that I strongly believe in.

Practice with purpose.

Don’t go to the range and just hit balls for the sake of it. When you walk out to the range or the putting green decide in advance what you want to work on. You might want to work on hitting 50-yard bump and run shots. Perhaps you want to dial in your 8 iron so that you know you can hit a high fade 150 yards when you need to. Maybe you have been struggling with left to right putts, well work on them.

If you practice with purpose you can improve your game rapidly because you will be developing confidence in an aspect of your game.

So next time you head out to the range, think about what you have been struggling with and work on that.

Good luck.

The Grunkle Guru

September 22, 2005

A Day Late & $992,250.00 Short

Forgot to post my picks for this week’s Valero Texas Open, so here we go. This is a tough week on many different fronts. First, the President’s Cup is taking place, which eliminates many of the high dollar solid picks. Second, this is the time of year when players come out of nowhere to win and secure their tour cards (prime example, Jason Gore last week who I had on my roster). Finally, there is this little storm in the Gulf of Mexico known as Rita. If she stays the course that forecasters have her on, San Antonio will not experience any real issues, but you never know. Given everything that could happen, I would not be surprised to see this event shortened to 36 or 54 holes, but we’ll have to wait and see. Anyway, here are my picks for this week’s event:

Charles Howell III – San Antonio is an expensive city, and you better be a millionaire if you want to get things accomplished.

Ted Purdy – Has been a solid pick before, and the weaker field makes him a strong pick.

J.L. Lewis – Don’t know why I have him on my roster, other then to say I have a feeling about him this week.

Carl Pettersson – If he is in the field, he is on my roster. I know him from my golf pro days, and since he is pushing to keep his card, he is a good pick.

Omar Uresti – A Texan, who I also have had the pleasure of meeting in the past. Just a really nice guy, who I think will do well this week.

There you go, 5 PGA Tour stars for the low price of only $992,250. I just hope they all make the cut.

This week we also have the President’s Cup up the road in Virginia. I don’t know why, but I don’t get into this as much as the Ryder Cup. I think it is because our opponent does not have a bond like the European’s do. It is hard for a team made up of players from Fiji, Canada, South Africa, and Australia to bond into a strong cohesive unit. This is even more so nowadays since our opponents this week play mostly on the PGA Tour, and live in the United States. It just doesn’t have the same feel.

Regardless, I think it will be a good match that will come down to the final day. U.S. wins by 3 points.

September 20, 2005

Michelle Wie Turning Pro

What a way to come back into the blogging fold.

According to ESPN Reports, Michelle Wie will turn pro before the end of the month and make her professional debut 2 days after her 16th birthday.

First year endorsement deals are expected to meet or exceed $10million.

Here's the strange thing though. Instead of going with traditional sports marketing firms such as IMG, she has instead signed with the William Morris agency. Seems like she might want to transcend the game of golf afterall.

September 02, 2005

Katrina - A Name I Will Never Forget

I had planned on getting back into the blogging flow today after a hiatus that was forced by work deadlines, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to come back in with such a disaster on our hands. I want to take a moment and get away from golf for a post.

There have been three major tragedies that have hit me hard emotionally. September 11th, the Christmas Tsunami, and now Katrina. While the first two were terrible, there was some closure I could take from each of them. With September 11th we had an enemy that we could focus our anger towards. I really think it helped us to get through those days because we could point at someone and blame them. It was not our fault, and we should all rally behind our leadership and take those bastards down. The Tsunami that struck this past December was tragic as well, but there was still a disconnect. I felt terrible for those affected by the event, but I had never been there, and really did not know anyone who had lost their life or the life of a loved one. Like I said, there was a disconnect by distance, and after the waters receded, so did the thoughts. But Katrina, Katrina is different.

I have made numerous trips to New Orleans for business and have always enjoyed going there. I remember time spent in the French Quarter, at Harrah’s Casino, and countless hours at the Ernest Morial Convention Center. Now, to see the devastation of the city, and the stories coming out of there, I am heartbroken. See, I knew the city. I recognized areas where photos have been taken, and I remember them in a much better light. It hurts a little more when you have a connection to the area.

When it is all said and done, there will be plenty of blame to go around. The federal government will get theirs, as will the state and local governments. To use a sports analogy, it seems like there was a pop up, and three players all surrounded it, but nobody called for it and it dropped to the ground. In baseball you can’t charge three people with the same error, but you can in this case. I think that there was some preparedness in place to assist after the storm passed, and I also believe that those resources were inadequate and quickly inundated. As for the looting, while I consider myself a law-abiding citizen, I would take whatever steps necessary to provide for my family, no questions asked. However, the gang violence, sexual assault, and general lawlessness taking place has no justification in any society, regardless of circumstances.

Finally, while New Orleans is receiving most of the coverage, let us not forget the other areas ravaged in this area. Believe it or not, New Orleans got off lucky as the storm went east of the city sparing it the brunt of Katrina’s severity. Remember those in cities such as Biloxi, MS, Gulf Shores, AL, and all the other cities and small towns that literally do not have a building left standing in their area. These people are just as bad off, if not worse.

When it is all said and done this will be the biggest disaster to strike the United States, natural or otherwise. Some will rebuild and move on with life as best they can. Others will relocate and try to start over. Many will never recover, both financially and emotionally. Events like this are truly double-edged swords. It will bring out the worst in people as we have seen. I will also bring out the best in people as I hope we will see in the days to come.

It is way too early to tell if New Orleans will be able to rebuild (I don’t think so), but regardless of what happens in the months and years to follow, the city I knew will never be there again.

Donation Sites:

American Red Cross

Salvation Army

www.guidestar.org (this site provided a directory of chartitable organizations assisting with Katrina)