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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.

November 29, 2005

Rule of the Week - You Sunk My Golfball

It was a beautiful Sunday. 70 degrees, a slight breeze, and the Grunkle Guru and his friend/nemesis were enjoying their typical Sunday showdown. All square on 18, big bet on the line.

The Guru stride to the tee box and goes through his normal pre-shot routine. The 18th hole at Colonial Creek Golf Club is a daunting par 4. Measuring 438 yards from the back tees, this hole features a sloping fairway with deep rough that comes into play as the fairway narrows in the landing area about 280 yards out. Water fronts the green, and with today’s front right pin position, hitting the fairway is essential.

As the Guru addresses his ball he realizes that the wind has kicked up quite a bit, and he decides to go at the ball a little harder then normal. Naturally this leads to a slight disaster as his hips clear a split second too early and he blocks the ball ever so slightly off target and he ends up in the rough.

His opponent strides to the tee, and realizes that putting the ball in the fairway will give him a huge advantage. However, instead of relaxing and making a smooth swing, his desire to find the fairway leads to tension, and he too blocks his ball to the right. Both balls end up in the same area of the rough, and both have settled quite nicely down in the thick fescue rough.

As the players search for their respective balls, the Guru’s opponent comes across one and decides to take dead aim at the pin from 150 yards out. A deadened ‘thwunk’ is a precursor to the expected result. The ball comes out fat and after a shortened flight falls to its watery death with a splash and ripples in the water being the only sign that the ball ever existed.

The Guru continued to look for his ball, and finally came across one just a few paces from where his opponent played. As he got ready to strike his shot, he thought the dimple pattern looked different from what he was playing. He bent down and gently moved the grass to see if this truly was his ball.

“Weren’t you playing a Titleist?” he asked his nemesis.

“Yes,” he replied. “Titleist ProV1x. Number 4.”

“Well,” the Guru said, “here it is.”

“Then whose ball did I hit?” the nemesis asked.

“I have to assume mine.” Replied Guru. “Here’s your ball, and you lie 3 (two-stroke penalty). Looks like I have the advantage.”

“Not so fast!” screamed the nemesis. “You have to treat your ball as a lost ball since there is no way to prove I hit yours.”

What’s the ruling?

If there is reasonable evidence that the nemesis hit the Guru’s ball, then the Guru must place a ball at the spot from which the nemesis played the wrong ball without penalty.

Since both tee shots had landed in the same general area it is fair to assume that the nemesis did play the wrong ball. The Guru places a new ball and continues without penalty.

November 22, 2005

Weekend Re-cap - Turning Japanese

I was not able to see any golf from the Dunlop Phoenix Open played in Japan this past weekend, but here is what I do know.

Tiger Woods defended his title after struggling in the final round and surviving a 4-hole playoff. He also sprained his ankle.

David Duval fell off somewhat this weekend, but still posted a solid tournament. Let’s hope this gives him momentum going into next season.

Golf is back in the States this week. We should all rejoice this fact.

Rule of the Week - Walking on Water

This week’s rule conundrum finds our hero, the Grunkle Guru once again facing a difficult situation. Playing in a steady rain all day, the Guru hits his approach shot on the 15th hole into a steep faced bunker. Upon arriving at the ball he realizes that the ball itself is actually in casual water within the bunker.

The Guru realizes that he can take a drop, but opts not to, as the nearest point of relief would leave him with a downhill lie and his feet out of the bunker. Not exactly optimum conditions to hit a pressure packed shot, so he elects to play the ball from the watery lie.

As he addresses the ball his club touches the water, but not the sand. Playing a beautiful shot, the Guru manages to get up and down from the bunker and keep his momentum going. Upon arriving at the 16th tee, a rules official tells him that he has violated the rules of golf by grounding his club in a hazard.

“No way!” the Guru says, as he flares up at the rules official.

“I read, the Rule of The Week and I know I did not violate the rules regarding grounding a club in a hazard”

Who is right?

Once again, careful attention to the rules has saved the Guru shots. He knew that since his club touched the water, but not the ground he was not in violation of the rules.

And now you do to.

November 21, 2005

The Big Link

Another week, and another Big Link. This week's selection is:

Connect The Dots

Just checked it out for the first time, and it looks like a good read if you are into software applications.

November 18, 2005

Duval Still In Contention

I don’t think you will be able to find it on TV, but the Dunlop Phoenix Open is setting up for a classic weekend. As I mentioned yesterday, David Duval has finally appeared on a leader board after a long battle with his golf game, and Tiger Woods was close behind him. Well, throw a third name in that group. Jim Furyk.

The final pairing for this event will be Furyk (-9), Woods (-8), and Duval (-8). This will be a great test to see if Duval is back and can handle the spotlight. I’ll try to keep everyone posted on what happens.

November 17, 2005

A Blast From The Past

Anybody remember the name David Duval? No, well that’s OK. His story is one of great achievement and an equally great demise.

In the late ‘90s until 2001, Duval was one of the best players in the world. In fact he was even ranked number one for some time. However, for various reasons Duval’s game fell apart after his victory in the 2001 British Open to the point that it was disturbing to watch.

All that being said, times might be changing for Duval. He opened up the Dunlop Phoenix Open with a 6 under 64 which was good for a one shot lead over Tiger Woods.

There is a lot of golf still to be played, but let’s hope that Duval has turned the corner. I’ve always liked the guy and hope that his game really is coming back to him.

November 16, 2005

Rule of the Week - I made a 6, no wait it was a 5...Or Was It?

This week we find our hero, Grunkle Guru in a tight match against another quality opponent. The match is all square on the 18th hole and both players are on the green.

Being away, the Guru hits a putt that stops a couple of inches short of the hole.

“What is that for?” his opponent asks.

“This is for 6.” The guru relplies and his opponent concedes the putt.

Lying five, the Guru’s opponent drains his putt for a six, and what he thinks is a halve of the hole.

At that point the Guru realizes that his math was wrong and he actually made a five, not a six. This naturally sends the Guru’s opponent into a fit of rage claiming that the score stated was the score earned since it was higher then the actual score. After nearly coming to blows over this issue and holding up the group behind them, they decide to go to the committee for a ruling.

The committee agreed with the Guru. Why?

Regardless of what was said, the actual score was a five, and since no scorecards had been signed, or another shot hit, the mistake can be corrected without penalty.

For more information on the rules of golf go check out the USGA website.

November 11, 2005

Tip of the Week - A Little Analysis Goes A Long Way

While the golf season is far from over here in the south, the frequency of rounds will definitely start to slow down. Now is the time to start working on your game for the 2006 season. Let me suggest you conduct some analysis on your game for the rest of the year.

Every time you play take some notes. The point of this exercise is to figure out exactly what parts of your game are weakest so that you can practice with a purpose. Some key stats you want to sample.

Fairways hit
Greens in regulation
Scrambling
Total putts

In addition, try to figure how many times you hit each club. If you find that during the course of a round you only hit your five iron once, but hit your nine iron 12 times, then you should be working with you nine iron during your practice sessions. That will help you get dialed in on shots with that club giving you more confidence.

Doing some analysis of you game will go a long way towards helping you have more beneficial practice time.

November 10, 2005

Product Review - What Happens To The Greensboro PGA Tour Stop

Note: Long ahead. If you don't care about golf, the PGA Tour, or the event here in Greensboro I suggest you find another distration.

The product review of this week is not so much of a review, but rather a combination of predictions and recommendations for the PGA Tour as they work towards revamping their schedule for 2007 and the new television contract.

Yes, the PGA Tour is a product. The events the put on are consumed by viewers and attendees. It is an entertainment product and in order to stay current products must evolve over time. Golfers don’t use persimmon drivers and hickory shafted clubs anymore for a reason. Products evolve and I commend Tim Finchem and his staff at the PGA Tour for realizing that the product was slipping in consumption and what they are proposing is quite radical for the PGA Tour. In brief, here is what they are proposing:

- Shortening the meat of the schedule to conclude in September with the Tour Championship as the culmination of the main season.

- The creation of the Fed-Ex cup. A yearlong points system where a certain number of players will earn enough points to enter the final four events.

- At the conclusion of the Tour Championship the PGA Tour will shift gears and produce the Quest For The Card – a 6 or 7 event schedule that will finalize the top 125 for next year as well as allow for qualifying to invitational events for the following year.

Those are the major changes to the annual structure of the schedule, and on paper this looks like a great idea as it will allow for golf to have the meat of its schedule end before football season really get underway, and that has always hampered the tour at the end of the season.

The PGA Tour has also proposed moving the Players Championship (considered by many to be the fifth major) from its traditional March slot to one in May. This will give the PGA Tour a signature event in each month from April to September. It will go as follows:

April – The Masters
May – The Players Championship
June – The U.S. Open
July – The British Open
August – The PGA Championship
September – The Tour Championship

Additionally, the Ryder Cup and President’s Cup bi-annual events will be held two weeks after the Tour Championship annually, which will bring the best together one last time in events that, promote team competition.

The one possible knock on the system is how many events players will have to play in order to earn spots to the playoff scenario, but here’s the thing. The players support it. Most don’t play more then three events in a row simply because the season is so long (currently running from January to November), but with the main season ending in September it gives the U.S. players a chance to rest up and play in events that they want (Tiger will still play Disney), and it also gives the international players the opportunity to return home and support the tours that gave them their start.

The definitely creates a much stronger schedule and allows for excitement and heavy promotion on a monthly basis. I give Mr. Finchem and his team a tremendous amount of credit for the thought and effort that has been put into this new concept. I can’t wait to see the details come together.

While I think this concept is great for the PGA Tour as a whole, I must also express my concern for my local event, the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro. Formerly known as the Greater Greensboro Open (GGO) this is one of the longest annual events on the tour schedule, but for some time we have had a hard time getting the players that is needed for a successful event. Greensboro is not a major market, and given our recent performance I see no reason why the Tour will integrate this event into the main schedule, and to be honest I do not have a problem with that. However, I do not want to see this event get contracted, and I truly believe this will not be the case.

I do think we can do a great job of marketing the GGO (I still prefer to call it by these initials over anything else) as a lynchpin of the Quest for the Card. There will be more drama involved as the lesser-known players duke it out for their livelihood. Remember, golfers only get paid if they make a cut at an event, and unless they have won in the last two years, access to the PGA Tour is not guaranteed. They have to earn it, and with proper promotion, the GGO should be able to live a long and prosperous life as an event where fans can watch future stars and say, “I remember when the won here in Greensboro.”

That being said, I also have a suggestion for a secondary program that could benefit the Greensboro tournament greatly, and that is to take better advantage of our history.

Sam Snead won this event eight times during his career (I believe that is the number), and recently the trophy was named after him, which is the right thing to do. However, I also think that we can take better advantage of Mr. Snead’s history at this event. What if we got together with some of the other events that have strong ties to the greats of the game of golf? An annual series that offered a bonus of some sort based on their performance in the following events:

The Bay Hill Invitational – Arnold Palmer’s tournament
The Memorial – Jack Nicklaus’s tournament
The Byron Nelson Classic – Bryon Nelson’s tournament
The Colonial – Associated with Ben Hogan
The GGO – Associated with Sam Snead

Since Greensboro is the final stop, we could leverage our date on the schedule to draw an even stronger field. If we could get a spot in mid-October players would have had a month to rest up and decide if they want to play in this final event to win what could be marketed as a prestigious award. Let’s call it The Legends Cup.
The Legend’s Cup would be a point system that is sponsored by an entirely different entity then each event respectively. Since three of the events would take place in either Texas or North Carolina, it would seem that Dell is a perfect sponsor for such an event.

I predict that starting in 2007 the PGA Tour will experience a boom in popularity, as the new schedule does a fabulous job of spacing major events, as well as providing an exciting play-off style format to the schedule. All the fall events that are currently on the schedule will not remain, as they will have a difficult time lining up sponsors for all those events. Greensboro will keep its PGA Tour stop as there is just too much history here to not at least give us a chance to show we can survive, and ultimately thrive as a key event for those looking to earn playing privileges for next year.

Golf is a game built on tradition, but from time to time new traditions must be created. Remember, professional golf is a product for everyone except those that play it, and if the masses are bored with the product, it must either change, or it will die a slow and agonizing death. The PGA Tour has taken the lead for changing this tradition, but it is still up to the individual events, the management teams, and their sponsors to embrace this change, and continue to put out a strong product.

November 09, 2005

Fantasy Recap - 2005 The Year That Could Have Been

Well, now that the official PGA Tour season is wrapped up, it is time to look back and reflect upon my first foray into fantasy golf.

All in all, the results were not that bad. I came in 7,940th out of approximately 40,000 competitors, so I have to consider it a success. Without a doubt, my MVP for the season was Carl Pettersson. He made a strong run at the end, and earned a victory and a top-5 in his last two events to not only secure him a spot in the field for next year’s Masters, but also helped the Guru to a strong finish to the season. For that he has garnered early positioning in next years stable of horses.

I also learned that my dartboard method for choosing players is not the greatest idea in the world. Instead I will take a stronger look at each player every week in deciding my rosters.

Just wait till next year. The Guru is going to dominate fantasyland!

November 08, 2005

Rule of the Week - Can You Hold The Door Please?

Here’s the scenario…

Standing in the middle of the fairway on the 18th hole, our hero, The Grunkle Guru has 210 yards into the green on this par 5. Figuring eagle will lock up the victory he grabs his trusty 4-iron and skulls the ever-living snot out of it. As it screams past the green the crowd groans as they hear a loud crash.

“That can’t be good.” The Guru thought to himself as he trudged up the 18th hole.

Upon finding his ball he realizes that he has a perfect lie, but there is one problem. His ball lies on the carpet of the pro shop. The Guru pauses and surveys the scene. There are no out of bounds stakes between the green and the clubhouse, and according the to rules, the pro shop had not been declared an integral part of the golf course. Realizing that he is within his rights to play the shot as it lies he opens the window facing the green and proceeds to chip out and make the birdie putt.

Did the Guru break the rules?

While the head pro most certainly did not like the concept of taking a divot out of his carpet, this was a legal course of action. Since the pro shop was not declared an integral part of the course, it must be considered an immovable obstruction. In this situation, any part that is designed to be movable (i.e. a window) can be done as long as it is without undue delay.

If you know the rules you too can have a chance to try interesting shots such as these.

The Big Link

Trying to get back into the world of The Big Link.

I jsut checked out this blog and it looks pretty cool. They are a Panthers fan, but I guess we will let that go for now since my team got it ass kicked last night.

Mean What You Say

Go check it out.

November 01, 2005

Rule of the Week - I Was Lost, But Then I Was Found

Standing on the tee, our hero, The Grunkle Guru stares at the green on this short, and narrow par-4. He has been swinging well all day, and the conditions feel right to take a shot at driving the green.

After striking with all the force he can muster he hits a towering drive that starts right, and keeps going into the trees. Carefully, the Guru tracks the flight of his ball and marks where it went in. It does not look good as he never sees the ball come to a rest so he decides to play a provisional ball.

Truly steamed and tense right now, he makes an overly aggressive swing and the results are what is to be expected in this situation. A bad miss-hit that ends up in the rough well short of his first ball.

The Guru strides to where he thinks the first ball landed, and after a short search (two minutes) decides to go back and play his provisional. Now playing for bogey, the Guru makes a smooth swing and miraculously holes the shot for par. Just after he finishes celebrating a playing partner finds his first ball deep in the woods.

“Just pick it up.” said the Guru. “I already have par in the bag, no sense playing that shot and risking disaster.” The Guru retrieves the first ball and continues with his round. Has the Guru broken the rules of golf?

Yet again, the Guru is at fault. A provisional ball does not render the first ball lost until it is played from the place where the original ball is likely to be, or from a point nearer the hole. Since he holed out his next shot, the Guru will be at fault if he proceeds to the next hole and tees off.