Breaking 100: Get ready to play
Before the round: The morning of a competitive round, I do a series of stretches and yoga poses in my room for about an hour. At the course, I swing a club over my head several times before I start hitting balls. This loosens my arm and shoulder muscles, and keeps me from getting hurt.
During the round: When I'm hitting a shot, I focus 100 percent, but between shots,
John Smoltz's Nationwide Tour debut began in promising fashion. The ending, however, did little to justify the future Hall-of-Fame pitcher's spot in the event.
Playing in the South Georgia Classic on a sponsor's exemption, Smoltz, who carries a plus-2 handicap, started on the back nine and parred his first two holes before birdieing No. 12 to get into red figures. The rest? Well, it was ugly.
Over the final 15 holes, Smoltz didn't record another birdie while racking up nine bogeys and two double bogeys. The final number, 84, looked more like the reading from a radar gun after one of his sliders towards the end of his baseball career.
FootJoy has introduced a new line of women's golf gloves it is calling the FJ Attitude that is different enough to help it live up to its name.
"It has a digitized grip, a textured grip story," said Maria Bonzagni, senior director of marketing for FootJoy gloves and accessories worldwide. "That's the biggest difference [from its other gloves]. The grip is a value-added performance story for women. It's giving them style as well, in a unique argyle-design enclosure system. It definitely has some attitude, hence it's name."
The palm of the glove features "Aloe Vera Scented Digital Tac Leather," for control and durability," Bonzagni said.
It comes in four color combinations -- white/light blue, white/pink (shown here), white/black and white/taupe. It has a suggested retail price of $15.
-- John Strege
About a year ago, I contacted several top fitness experts across the U.S.--Mark Verstegen of Athletes' Performance, Randy Myers of Nike Golf, Gray Cook of Functional Movement Systems and Mike Boyle of Strengthcoach.com to name some--and asked them to give me their top-five exercises. As suspected, dead lifts appeared at the top of most lists because they are great total-body strengthening exercises.
But most everyone also gave kudos to a timeless classic--the push-up. It was refreshing to hear because the push-up is perhaps one of the simplest exercises to do. You can bang out 10 in
My look at the top five teams in the country right now
1. Oklahoma State (Last week: 1)
I genuinely believe that winning doesn't get old (at least for elite athletes) but if it did, it might feel something like what the Cowboys seem to be doing of late. A comfortable win at Big 12s yesterday was the school's 54th league title overall (in 65 years) and seventh win of the 2010-11 season. Meanwhile, if the scuttlebutt that Morgan Hoffmann might not be returning for his senior year is true, his individual victory at Prairie Dunes is a nice way to wind down your college career.
Next event: NCAA Regionals, May 19-21
If you're interested only in swing-plane minutiae, find yourself a Konica Minolta Biz Hub Swingvision camera and have at it. But if you accept what the great philosopher Yogi Berra once said about baseball and apply it to golf, that 90 percent of the game is half mental, here's a place you might want to start: "Play Your Best Golf Now," the third book in a series by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott with Golf World's Ron Sirak.
Nilsson and Marriott are the co-creators of the Vision 54 approach that starts with idea that if any given hole can be birdied, why not all 18 (for a round of 54)? Among its most famous adherents is Annika Sorenstam, who in the Standard Register Ping in 2001 birdied the first eight holes in the second round en route to an LPGA record 59.
"Play Your Best Golf Now" focuses on eight essential playing skills, only two of them, tempo and balance, pertaining to traditional golf instruction. The others deal with mental preparation, building emotional resilience, for instance. They offer 10 emotional resilience exercises ("Play on the course and after each shot, for ten seconds, access something that makes you feel positive emotions").
If you need evidence that what they teach works, here it is: Ai Miyazato, Yani Tseng, Brittany Lincicome, Na Yeon Choi, Song Hee Kim, Kevin Streelman, Joe Ogilvie and, of course, Sorenstam. All are or have been Nilsson and Marriott students.
Tseng won three major championships before the age of 22, the third of them the Women's British Open last summer. "We had her singing songs to herself to keep the self-talk away between shots," the authors wrote, "and we had her keep her Play Box routine to five seconds so the self-talk wouldn't have time to start up when she was over the ball. This was her Play Box Awareness -- and it worked."
The singing between shots and the short Play Box routine helped keep negative thoughts at bay, freeing her swing to perform as she had trained it to do.
What Nilsson and Marriott are teaching is not just for elite golfers. Nor, it could be argued, is it just for golfers, the example of Vikki Templeton advancing this notion. Templeton and her husband operate a dairy farm.
"The main thing I learned from VISION54 is that it is not only about golf, but also about life," Templeton said. "Life is often mirrored in your golf. The lessons learned in VISION54 are so transferable to your everyday life. One thing I have learned is to only concentrate on what I can control and not dwell on the uncontrollable."
As swing thoughts for life go, there's one worth embracing.
-- John Strege
There is nothing in golf that isn't immune to innovation, proof of which are recurring efforts at building a better tee.
The latest effort is the TwistTee, which is adjustable and, according to the company, "virtually indestructible." The "virtually" part has to do with a golfer, say, using an iron and striking the ball at ground level, as one might do on a par 3.
The adjustable part is interesting and was born from the notion that adjusting the tee height might help a golfer fight a hook or a slice.
"My friend Richard (Cheng)...was always teaching people how to swing properly," said Mike Radtke, Cheng's partner in this endeavor. "He said, 'what if we address the height of the ball and how important that is?'"
Radtke said they have contemplated having a robot hitting balls from the TwistTee "to get actual data on how you could correct a hook or slice with the height of the ball."
The height is adjusted simply be twisting a threaded shaft. Once the golfer finds the optimum height, he can tee it consistently at that height.
The biggest obstacle in tee innovation, of course, is convincing golfers they need to change. Most are accustomed to grabbing a handful of wooden tees and stuffing them in their pockets.
The TwistTee sells for $2.25 per tee or $3 for a package of three that includes two large tees and one small tee.
-- John Strege
Three of the first schools that claimed top spots in the Golf World/Nike Golf men's coaches polls all hail from the Sooner State--Division I's Oklahoma State, Division II's Central Oklahoma and NAIA's Oklahoma Christian.
Joining the trio is Division III's Guilford and NJCAA's Indian Hills as college golf's postseason starts to heat up.
The news that Tiger Woods suffered a Grade 1 mild medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon (at least that's what the statement on Woods' website says) while hitting his second shot from the pine straw underneath the Eisenhower tree on the 17th hole during the third round of the Masters brought with it questions of how exactly the injury occurred.
How about a sneeze?
Woods then re-set and proceeded to hit his tee shot, which struck the large tree and dropped straight down into the pine straw. It was on the following shot that he hurt his leg.
Maybe if the sneeze doesn't happen, Woods hits a better tee ball and doesn't hurt his leg on the next shot. Far-fetched? Perhaps. But not a completely illogical thought.
-- E. Michael Johnson