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Hello USGA, we need to talk….

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It’s me, the amateur golfer.

We haven’t spoken in a while and I’ve been trying to reach you. I know you’ve had a lot on your mind lately and I feel like maybe I’m not at the top of the list of your callbacks, so I decided to send you this letter. I hope it finds you well.

You know and I know that people can drift apart sometimes. I know you’ve had a lot going on lately with work. First, I’d like to congratulate you on all of your recent success. I watched your U.S. Open this year where the winner, Brooks Koepka, earned $2.16 million. I read that this is the first time a winner’s share in any major tournament had exceeded $2 million! And in your Open! That is an impressive amount! I also read the total purse was more than $12 million. That’s also getting up there, isn’t it? I mean in 1996, the year before Tiger Woods won his first major, the total purse was only $2.4 million and the winner’s share was a hair over $400K.

You’re primetime now. Places like Chambers Bay and Erin Hills basically build courses just for you. You’ve really made it when guys start doing that, and now with that TV and sponsorship money… I mean five times the purse from ’96! Wow! And it’s not just Koepka! I read in Forbes that Roger Federer recently surpassed our old friend Tiger Woods as the top earner in individual sports with more than $110 million in tournament earnings. Tiger hasn’t even played much since 2009 and he was still No. 1 eight years later! Pros in your sport are doing really well. LOTS of money out there in the pro game. Your game, after all.

But it’s just… I feel like you don’t notice me anymore no matter what I do. I didn’t want your public success to affect the nice thing we had going, but lately that’s what it feels like. You’ve been making these comments; you’ve been talking to our friends like the media and saying hurtful things. You never did this in 1996, and your research printed in Golf Digest shows I wasn’t all that different back then. Please know that I have been trying to better myself though. For instance, I started using wider and squarer grooves hoping to get better for you… but I really didn’t. You didn’t notice my grooves though until THEY started using them. THEY started calling it things like “bomb and gouge” and saying it changed things. I never felt it changed things for me, and I didn’t think it changed things between us. Then you stuck the dagger in me again USGA, because for years I’d been trying to better myself by anchoring putters to my body. Again, not much success.

In 20+ years, my average index dropped from 16 to 14.5. That’s progress, but not enough to change me completely. I didn’t think it was enough for you to notice. But you noticed Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott for using anchored putters, didn’t you? Then you told me it wasn’t working out for us.

I have to be honest. It hurts. But again, I try to stay positive and think there is a future here. But now I see you in the press saying that I hit the ball too far and this is ruining things again. Talk about sending me mixed messages! Didn’t you tell me last year that I should “Tee It Forward” to help things between us? The next year you’re telling our friends that I hit it too far and am causing a “horrible impact” on your game because you have to lengthen courses? Why was I teeing it forward? Trackman says my average drive is 214 yards! Or were you talking about THEM again? Do you remember me USGA? Do you think about me anymore? Because I’ve been to all of your 11,000 public courses. Tell me how many of those you’ve lengthened because of me.

It’s not like I don’t do anything for you, USGA. I spend more than $2.5 billion on your game. You want to ignore me for the glitz and glamour of THEM, but it’s me who makes you what you are. Without me, you don’t have your sport. You don’t have your TV crews or your U.S. Open bids. You don’t have your “open doctors” adding 600 yards to a course that you’ll eventually say “I” made you lengthen. And you know what? There are 20 million of me, and it’s ME who generates interest in your game. I got 2.2 million people trying your game for the first time in 2015. I got 37 million people saying they were interested in playing your game that same year. These are some of the highest numbers ever, and you ignore ME? You ignore me for Dustin and Jordan and Rory?

Don’t push me anymore USGA. People change and things can change, but remember I was there for you in the beginning and helped get us to where we are. Please remember that before you do anything that really hurts me.

Sincerely,

The Amateur Golfer

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008

71 Comments

71 Comments

  1. Donn Rutkoff

    Dec 14, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Since you are Canadian you might under appreciate the following.

    I think the USGA which holds about 5 national championship events (men, women, junior, amateur etc.) should Fly The Flag of the U.S.A. and start the tournament with playing The National Anthem. (Colin Winkydink of the NFL go take a leap. Tiger is no angel but he gives back to the community more, way more, than selfish Colin.)

    A player should NEVER go backwards to play from previous spot. Just drop a ball take a stroke no matter what happened to the shot in question.

    And USGA and PGA should NOT let Charlie Hoffman merely take a drop in sand due to whatever reason. He should play from a same lie. The official should have been authorized to bury his new lie in the sand the same depth he moved from.

  2. Eric

    Dec 11, 2017 at 7:45 am

    LOL. What a funny article. I don’t think the author of this needs to complain about belly putters, square grooves, or longer distances when he has improved his handicap by 1.5 over a 20 year period. My best advice is to head to the putting green with a regulation putter for an hour or two whenever you feel like writing a sorry message to the USGA again

  3. Norman Light

    Dec 11, 2017 at 12:53 am

    What we really need to talk about is the cost of golf. Golf companies are making the game for the rich people not the average person. One company you could buy a set of clubs for $20,000 And all the other companies you could pay between $900-$2000 what average American has that kind of money with a family of four this is totally totally stupid company need to get real and quit making millions and millions of dollars on the golf world thank you

  4. Underachiever

    Dec 9, 2017 at 9:51 am

    I wish I hit the ball too far…

  5. Michael

    Dec 9, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Excellent letter. All the golfers here who claim to be single digit should take note too. WE ARE ALL the game, not just one segment. The changes coming in 2019 are great, but there is no excuse for it to have taken this long. In the same vein, what is wrong with certain rules regarding the ball and other equipment that apply to the pros or USGA sanctioned championships?

  6. Bob Racho

    Dec 9, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Good letter. I am an 80 year old golfer and love the sport. I have decided to F the rules, and play according to mine. They are common sense rules that all of us senior golfers should be happy with. Anchoring the putter helps my back and will let me play a few years longer. I do not wish to hit out of a bad lie, so I move the ball a few inches to a better one. I value my clubs and do not wish to ruin them by hitting a tree, so I move that ball to get away from that problem. I play from the forward tees and have enjoyment from hitting some clubs that I haven’t hit in years. I now use ALL of my clubs including my wedges.
    I play public course and respect them all even if they aren’t as pristine as the private courses that the pro’s play on. I repair my ball marks and two others on each green, and divots as well. If our players did this our courses would be in way better shape and approach the private courses that are so pristine. I count my shots. The most important thing to me is to play with integrity to the sport that I wish to play, and that includes the changing of some idiotic rules for us older golfers that will allow us to play will into our 80’s.
    So, to the USGA, you best make a change in the rules for the older golfers who are an integral part of keeping public golf courses open.

    • AJ

      Dec 9, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Way to go Bob. I’m in the same mood as Bob is. However, I accept the challenge of honest play and do not
      Move my ball regardless. Exception: local rules. Perhaps in 10 years I will agree with Bob completely.

    • Lock

      Dec 14, 2017 at 6:06 am

      “Make Golf Fun Again”

    • Crazy About Golf

      Dec 14, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      Bob, you’re the man! I agree….unless you are recording a score for handicap purposes or playing in a tournament (or for money with your buddies), play by YOUR rules (within reason). If you want to improve your lie in the rough, do it. If you want to move your ball out of a divot, do it. If you prefer to pick up when you’re within 2 feet of the cup, knock yourself out! This game is also meant to be enjoyed. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and it seems that the USGA isn’t helping.

  7. Paul

    Dec 9, 2017 at 6:16 am

    When it rains at my course and the ball gets a bit dirty, I have to ‘play it as it lies’. How come THEY get Lift, Clean and Place whenever conditions aren’t perfect?
    Have you ever noticed that you never see TV dootage of them cleaning their ball on the fairway?

  8. Joe sixpack

    Dec 8, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    I agree with the spirit of this article. And I would add a couple things to it. First, equipment. The reason courses are too short for the pros now is because the usga totally failed to prevent drivers and balls from going way the f— too far. Changing the grooves on wedges was a moronic approach to this issue. The usga is in bed with the equipment companies and they need promises of greater distance to sell new drivers every six months. The usga allowing this is a corruption of the game. Second, technology. The usga have been Luddites when it comes to understanding and embracing technology. For years they kept distance measuring devices illegal. Why? Is pacing off yardages from sprinkler heads a skill that golf should test? Just let everyone use a laser and speed things up. They seem to understand this finally but it took 20 years. Technology isn’t going to slow down. New stuff is coming constantly and they’re too old and stuck in their ways to get out in front of it and make informed choices about which technologies are good or bad for the game.

  9. Bill F

    Dec 8, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I wish we could all sign that letter and truly send it!

  10. Marc Halley

    Dec 8, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Excellent article. Right on the money. Thanks much.

  11. DaveT

    Dec 8, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    The article says, “USGA, you only care about the professionals.” Those disagreeing with the articles are mostly saying, “Stop feeling so important. You’re not. The professionals are. Don’t like the USGA rules? Play whatever rules or non-rules you want.” OK, let’s go with the idea that both are correct. The obvious response is for only the professionals to pay USGA dues. If the USGA does nothing for the duffers, seniors, and mid to high HCP — seems agreed by both sides — then let’s see how they get along without them.

    • Robert Roy

      Dec 9, 2017 at 9:09 am

      I would not pay money to watch professional golfers hit 260 yard drives. I want to see them bomb it 300+ because bit is what makes them special. Leave the ball issue alone or I think you will lose even more players and interest. The USGA needs to stop speaking for golfers without knowing our feeling.

  12. JDMasur

    Dec 8, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Time is the biggest detriment. 3 6s, not 2 9s would make it easier to introduce spouses and kids.play 6, or 12 or 18.

    • mM

      Dec 9, 2017 at 10:47 am

      Or, you can just quit golf, and make it easier on yourself and your family.

  13. Sean Foster-Nolan

    Dec 8, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Well done Jeff. You have echoed many of my comments, but in a more elegant way.

  14. jd57

    Dec 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Blaming the USGA for ruining your local round of golf is like blaming the NFL for ruining your neighborhood game of football. Has literally no effect on you. They’re a professional sports governing body, not the local gestapo policing your round.

    • Scrubby

      Dec 8, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Not exactly. The PGA governs the pros. The USGA is for all of us.

    • John Uphoff

      Dec 8, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      PGA governs the tours
      USGA and R&A govern all golf
      Bifercation is present in many sports. Metal bats in amateur baseball
      The shorter distance on extra points in football
      Several different rules in basketball
      No fighting in amateur hockey etc
      Golf isn’t for the professional golfer only a very small % of golfers ever shoot par most never break 90

    • George

      Dec 9, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Yeah and the should not be. A amateur organization running a professional event is a JOKE.

  15. dbleAGLE

    Dec 8, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    If you really want to help the rest of us give us a little book of slopes for every green we play and a caddy to confirm the break.

    Pros make tons of putts but then again…Pros get tons of info about EVERY putt we lemmings dont.

    Dilly Dilly Indeed

    • mM

      Dec 9, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Yeah? But then Pros usually don’t ever play as a 4some as we do on public courses, and some public courses send out 5somes. And, the Pros are still playing their rounds in 5 hours with a 3some. With a 4some, it’s a guaranteed 6 hour round. When they play with Ams at places like Pebble Beach in the Pro-Am all the way thru to the weekend, their rounds take 6.5 hours. You really want us Ams to carry AIM point maps? Your weekend rounds will take 7 hours with your regular 4somes.

  16. Chris Carpenter

    Dec 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    If you aren’t using your 14 handicap to pay your mortgage, speaking as “Everyman” may be a bit of a stretch. I’m guessing if [generic] you wanted to anchor your putter to eek out an 86, nobody would care. If [generic] you wanted to hit from a forward set of tees to enjoy your round and leverage your lower irons during a round rather than mid to high, that would be okay too.

    Amateurs are not pros and we don’t have to play under the same scrutiny or tight guardrails if we don’t want to. Play a breakfast ball. Carry 17 clubs. Anchor your putter. Play whatever tees you want. [Generic] We may need to take ourselves a bit less seriously as amateurs and remember to just play. If you’re playing in a tournament, play by the rules. Otherwise, literally everything you do on a course is just practice for the sheer enjoyment of the game. My opinion (worth about $0.03) has changed significantly since playing NCAA golf 20 years ago and being a middle-aged father of 3 who just wants to get a round in when I can now.

    • Oscar Farley

      Dec 8, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      The USGA should take 15 percent of what they give out to the already millionaire winners of tournaments and help supplement green fees for those of us that simply want to feed our families instead of paying jacked up weekend green fees.

      • George

        Dec 9, 2017 at 10:26 am

        Great, Just what the game needs. A Obama spread the wealth solution. The USGA nor anyone else you be paying to supplement anything in your life PERIOD.

  17. Michael

    Dec 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    How about the “Game we call penalties on our selves” A game of honor, integrity and sportsmanship.
    Then they say you can’ post your solo games for a handicap!!
    So much for trust.

    • Darryl

      Dec 8, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      Sorry, I agree with the USGA on that one. When you play alone you’re not playing you’re practicing and those scores shouldn’t count.

      • B Johnson

        Dec 8, 2017 at 1:56 pm

        golf is an individual sport, but you cant play a legitimate round by yourself?
        anybody who wants to phoney their handicap still can do so
        I dropped the handicap …. dont miss it…it is just as legitimate to give a truthful answer to the question “what do you hope to shoot?“ on the first tee

      • OB

        Dec 8, 2017 at 2:30 pm

        I agree that solo golf is only a practice round and not playing to register a score with other golfers according to the Rules of Golf.
        I play a lot of solo golf in the evenings and I usually play with a 6/7/8/or 9-iron and lob wedge and play 6-12 balls to sharpen my short game. I do carry a full set too, but I play 3 balls over 9 holes (3 x 9 = 27 equivalent holes) because I already know how to walk! And when I do play 3 balls I can play scratch golf, but not with the same ball!!!
        😉

      • Steve S

        Dec 9, 2017 at 8:58 am

        I play a lot of solo golf. I’m retired and most of my golfing friends still work. That and I really don’t like people. They tend to distract me and ruin the round. Plus I can play much faster which is more fun and better exercise. If I want to register my handicap I will since I count all my strokes and play the ball as it lies. Makes the occasional sub 80 round that much more enjoyable and feel like I actually accomplished something. I’m a member of the USGA…mostly just to get the “free” US Open hat.

  18. Vic Man

    Dec 8, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Dilly Dilly! Absolutely agree.

  19. Ma Ja

    Dec 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    My main issue with courses that are pushing the ” Play 9″ initiative is that they want us to play 9, but they want to charge us for 18!!! How about “Play 9, Pay 9”???

  20. CB

    Dec 8, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Jeff, you forgot to say:
    It’s me, the Amateur, who pays the greens fees at all the courses and support the courses from closing and help the professionals who run the courses and help them make money from teaching at the courses and driving ranges all across the country.

  21. JJVas

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:57 am

    As a 2 hcp, I completely agree. Tee it forward and play fast enough to not enjoy the $$$ you’re putting down… on a course that is now longer and tougher than ever before… but feel bad about your technology while you only get 20 yards on me when you need 60 to compete. Sound right?

    Don’t worry, just because every other professional sport is smart enough to have their own rules, doesn’t mean we have to be. As an added bonus, some 25-year old wearing Rickie Fowler pants who gave this a “shank” will always have his lecture ready for you because he has “perspective”. Good luck!

  22. Doug Stiles

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Be nice to see what idea he has for USGA to do something better. What exactly have they done wrong. do you want them to send some of the money Koepka won to you so you can play for free???

    You are picking low hanging fruit – Go play golf and enjoy the time away from real life.

  23. Stephen

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Each one of us should Play from the correct Tee box according to our abilities and then it doesn’t matter about course length. I am not in favor of making the size of the hole bigger. If your ball stops within 3 feet of the hole, pick up your ball and pretend your next putt went in and move on to the next hole like most average golfers do or should do, and quit slowing course play for the rest. If you hit eight strokes on any hole, and there are people waiting behind you to play, pick up your ball and move to the next Tee box. Not rocket science. Oh and get take a few lessons, and go to the golf range and practice your putting and hitting other clubs in your bag.

    • CB

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Or, America could be a bit more responsible like some other countries and force people to have to have licenses to play the game, after having gone through a quick test of their abilities and basic knowledge of the rules and etiquette of the game before they are even allowed to step onto a full-sized golf course.

    • DoubleMochaMan

      Dec 9, 2017 at 12:23 am

      Cool. If I didn’t have to putt out my 3-footers I’d shoot about 8 strokes lower.

  24. Bob

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:35 am

    The USGA is disingenuous about moving up. I am 70 years old and have moved to the senior tees. After hitting a 200 yard dive from the senior tee I am still 30 yards behind a 45 year old hitting from the white tees. I am hitting a 7 wood to the greens d the 45 year old is hitting a 7 iron. Yet the USGA in their wisdom requires that I lower my handicap by three strokes when playing against this guy. Thanks for making your game even harder for senior players. Several of my fellow senior players and Ihave Idropped our USGA membership and are not planning on rejoining soon. But as the author said they just don’t care about older players.

    • Another Bob

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Amen. This could hVe been written by me.

    • Scott

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Bob, First, it is called a handicap not a handbobmymoney. You get more strokes if you are a worse player. If you like to rake in putts from everywhere and like to have a vanity handicap, then you will pay the price when you bet. And if you play the course shorter you change angles, hazard distances, strategy, etc. Distance is not the only factor. Second, every golfer has strengths and weaknesses. Maybe the guy who hits it further is more wild or has a worse short game. Stop whining about giving up strokes when you are playing an entirely different course, no matter how far you hit it.

    • Murv

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      I agree completely.

  25. HDTVMAN

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Just like the NCAA. They are a bunch of know-nothing sliver-spoon-fed high society MORONS who are in it just for their EXCLUSIVE clicky country club trash buddies. They need to go away!

    • Joseph dreitler

      Dec 8, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Sorry, but they do nothing special for those of us fortunate enough to belong to private clubs. Until people are willing to accept that the game THEY play is a different game than WE play, it is all talk. If we bad amateurs need to be able to say our equipment must be the same as theirs, we will pound 210 yard drives and flail 5 woods at greens while they hit it 340 with their drivers. MLB players need to use wooden bats because if they did not the ballparks would all have to be extended and rebuilt to 430 feet down the lines and 520 to dead center.

  26. Regis

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

    No one says that the author or anyone else has to play golf by USGA rules. No one says anyone has to even keep score. If your not in a tournament play whatever game you want. I’ve been a member of the USGA since 1986. I’d wager the author has never plunked down the 20 bucks to join. Not even for the free hat. I have some issues with some of ru!ings of the USGA (and the R and A -let’s not forget it’s a joint venture) but overall they do a great job. This “article” is just mean spirited and the fact that the author took up golf fairly recently should surprise no one

    • Chris Carpenter

      Dec 8, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Well said. Not keeping score forces a significant shift in perspective about the game. There are times that it is relevant to score your round, but there are also times when the big picture of a course, layout, how your shots feel, what you are grateful for, etc…is less about score and more about taking in the whole experience and not just 86 measurements of it (if you’re a 14).

    • Uhit

      Dec 8, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      How big is the market for non conforming golf equipment (driver, wedges, balls)?

      B.t.w.
      If you want to grow the game, then you have to listen to the ones, who are the growth:

      The newcomers, who joined recently…
      …lets say, within the last decade.

      And I think it is no good idea, to touch the balls, they grew up with.

  27. ron

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:18 am

    The USGA is doing just fine The PROS deserve all the money they earn !! Check out other sports!!
    Anchoring is cheating … and never should have been allowed

  28. Steve Cantwell

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Leave it to a Canadian to come up with such a far-fetched fairytale!

    • Philip

      Dec 8, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Seriously, as if Americans have never had some pretty far-fetched fairytales … keep countries out of it …

  29. Tbone

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Jeff plays at a private course. Enough said!

  30. Wyomick

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:11 am

    The USGA are a bunch of Twits. I stopped dating her when she said I couldn’t use my 10 year old clubs in her tournaments. I wasn’t going to buy new ones just so she’d go out with me. I don’t spend any more money on HER anymore.

  31. Bill

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:10 am

    If the USGA wants to help amateur golfers, why not make the hole just a little bit bigger. Most of us play on muni courses that have greens that the pros never see. I understand the cost factor with maintaining great greens,but why no help is a little with the size of the hole. It could easily improve scores, which improves interest.

    • Aggowl

      Dec 8, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      The pros SHOULD play on imperfect course. They did years ago. NO ONE talks about the course condition being a factor in scoring, NO ONE. IT IS. Look at how putts had to be hit 30 to 40 years ago. It truly is a PUTTING SURFACE. RIDICULOUS!

  32. Paul Vicary

    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Great article and oh so true. You can see where this is all heading. I see the cliff and hear the roar of the ocean.

  33. Matt

    Dec 8, 2017 at 10:58 am

    No one at the USGA is saying you, the 14 handicap, hits the ball too far. That argument is so bad it must be purposefully disingenuous.

    • Chuck

      Dec 8, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Exactly! And the USGA didn’t want to take your old square grooves away, either. You were allowed to keep them. Because they didn’t even matter, when like most average retail amateur golfers, you were buying Surlyn and Ionomer (not expensive tour-level Urethane) golf balls.

    • Jody

      Dec 8, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Yet before long they will change the ball and or the rules because .05% of golfers in the world hit the ball too far. They’ll say it’s in order to uphold the integrity of the game when in all reality they will just be making the sport harder for the majority. Then we’ll again be hearing the apocalyptic whistle about needing to grow the game, all while the USGA is being a major part of the problem! Football, baseball, and basketball all have different rules for the professionals and it doesn’t belittle the game or effect how most people view these sports. Why should golf be different?

      • Tal

        Dec 11, 2017 at 2:41 am

        Golf is different because you play the course, not the man so you can directly compare your game to the pros. It loses some magic without being able to do that.

  34. Rich

    Dec 8, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Right, because they haven’t just spent the last ~5 years rewriting the rulebook to make the game you enjoy easier.

    • John B

      Dec 8, 2017 at 11:01 am

      If the USGA is so into the anchoring ban why aren’t they enforcing the rule. It’s quite clear they are still anchoring their forearm to their body. Read the rule, it’s a violation.

      • Rich

        Dec 9, 2017 at 5:57 pm

        Oh for goodness sake, give it a rest! 4 stroke penalties are being given out in professional golf costing players tournaments. I hardly think they are going to let players continually violate a rule week in week out withouth penalty.

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“I Love You, Tiger!” At Big Cedar lodge, an outpouring of affection for Tiger Woods

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What a difference a year makes.

About one year ago, Tiger Woods was in Branson, Missouri at Big Cedar Lodge to announce that he was designing a golf course there; Payne’s Valley, his first public course. That day was attended by hundreds of national and local media, the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri and Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops owner and the visionary behind the amazing golf complex that has been established at Big Cedar Lodge.

That day, Woods had not played competitive golf for awhile, and he was recovering from multiple surgeries. Woods took a couple of ceremonial swings, the last of which clearly left him in physical distress. Days later, he was in surgery again and his playing career looked to be all but over. The situation became worse when Woods was arrested for driving under the influence, found with multiple substances in his system. It seemed as though the sad mug shots from that arrest might be as prominent in his legacy as the smiles and fist-pumps that accompanied his 79 wins and 14 major championships.

Fast forward to yesterday, where Woods was back in Missouri to do a Junior Clinic at Big Cedar. An estimated crowd of over 7,000 kids and parents showed up on a school day to catch a glimpse of Woods. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with sky divers, stunt planes making flyovers and rock music blaring from giant speakers. When Woods finally arrived, the reaction was electric. Mothers and their kids were chanting. “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” at the top of their lungs. Photographers battled soccer moms for position to get a picture of his swing. Some of the kids were as young as 6-years-old, which means that they had probably not seen Woods hit a meaningful shot in their life. At one point, when Woods was hitting shots and explaining how to execute them, a woman shouted, “I love you, Tiger!” Not to be out done, a woman on the other side of the crowd, who was their with her husband and kids, shouted “I love you more, Tiger!” Maybe the only people with more affection for Woods would be the people in the golf business. A senior marketing official in the golf industry leaned over at one point in the event and said, “God, we could use just one more from him.”

Woods swing looks completely rehabilitated. He was hitting shots of every shape and trajectory on-demand, and the driver was sending balls well past the end of the makeshift driving range set up for the event. But even more remarkable was the evidence of the recovery of his reputation. Surely there are still women out there that revile Woods for the revelations of infidelity, and no doubt there are those that still reject Woods for his legal and personal struggles. But none of them were in Missouri yesterday. Mothers and children shrieking his name confirmed what we already knew: Tiger Woods is the single most compelling person in American sports, and he belongs to golf.

Unlike a year ago, Woods is swinging well, and seems as healthy and happy as he as ever been as a pro. Add to that the unprecedented outpouring of love from crowds that once produced a combination of awe and respect, but never love. Fowler, McIlroy, Spieth and the rest may get their share of wins and Tweets, but if the game is to really grow it will be on the broad, fragile back of Tiger Woods. It’s amazing to think what can happen in one short year.

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Opinion & Analysis

12 reasons serious golfers don’t realize their potential

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What stops serious golfers from realizing their potential? If you are an amateur who wants to get better, a young player trying to achieve more, or a young professional with big dreams, this article is for you.

I’ve made a career out of helping athletes maximize their abilities, golfers in particular. And the things I see young playing professionals doing prior to our work together is often what is holding them back. The reality is that most young players, no matter what their level, have three key problems:

  1. They’re distracted by what’s not important
  2. They have no detailed structure and plan to reach the targets they determine are important to them
  3. They have no formal process to develop mindset and attitude

In the list below, I share what I see working with these young players and some common blind spots.

1. No real plan and steps to achieve targets

Most players do not know how to create a long-term and short-term plan that outlines all steps needed to reach targets. Players should have yearly plans with targets, steps and actions and weekly plans to organize/schedule their time and prioritize key needs.

2. Not focused enough on the object of the game

This goes hand in hand with No. 1. Surprisingly, players seem to forget that the object of the game is get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes. Trophies and checks are not issued for the best swing, the best putting stroke or most balls hit.

3. Not enough pressure in practice

Most young players have loose practice. The intensity of feelings between the practice tee and the course are too different. Focus and intensity must be a part of all practice. Add competition and outcomes to sessions so some urgency is created.

4. Too much practice time on full swing

The data is clear — most shots in golf happen from 100 yards and in from the green. If the majority of practice time is not spent on these shorter shots, practice time is wasted.

5. An obsession with the look of the swing

Players are not generally prepared to own their own swings and embrace the differences that make them unique. Obsessing over swing mechanics is a major distraction for many players. Many players convince themselves that if it doesn’t look “good” on their iPhone, their swing won’t get results.

6. No structure with the driver

Since scoring is the main goal, a consistent, reliable shape to each shot is important. My experience has been that if players are trying to go both ways with the driver, that is a sure-fire way to elevate numbers on the card. Pick a shape and eliminate one side of the course. Predictability from the tee increases a player’s confidence to put the ball in the fairway more often, creating more opportunities to score.

7. Expectation that they will hit the ball well everyday

Many players have the unreasonable expectation that they will hit lots of fairways and greens every time they play. This expectation leads to constant disappointment in their game. Knowing that the leading professionals in the game average about 60.6 percent driving accuracy and 11.8 greens in regulation per round should be a good benchmark for the expectations of all players.

8. Trying to be too robotic and precise in putting

Some players get so caught up in the mechanics of putting that their approach becomes too robotic. They become obsessed with precision and being perfect. Feel, flow and instinct have to be a central part of putting. This can get lost in an overly robotic mindset trying to be too precise and perfect.

9. No process for assessment and reflection

Players do not have a formal process for assessing practice or rounds and reflecting on the experience. The right lessons are not consistently taken away to ensure step-by-step improvement. Knowing how to assess practice, play and ask the right questions is key to development.

10. Getting in their own way

The voice inside of most young players’ heads is not helpful for their performance. It’s often a negative, demanding voice that insists on perfection. This voice leads to hesitation, frustration and anger. The voice must be shaped (with practice) into the right “emotional caddie” to support efforts and promote excellence over perfection.

11. A focus on the negative before the positive

A default to the mistakes/flaws in the round before looking at the highlights and what worked. When asked about their round, most players highlight three-putts, penalty shots and any errors before anything else. Emphasis should always be on what went well first. Refection on what needs improvement is second.

12. The blame game

Young players love excuses. Course conditions, weather, coaching and equipment are a few of the areas that are often targets, deflecting responsibility away from the player. Many players do not take full responsibility for their own game and/or careers.

I hope this provides some insights on roadblocks that could get in your way on the path to reaching your targets in the game. Whether it’s lowering your handicap, winning a junior tournament, working toward the PGA Tour — or just general improvement — considering these observations might help you shorten the road to get there.

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