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Opinion & Analysis

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Ryder Cup

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By now you know it’s Ryder Cup time and golf is sliding into its “Keeping up with the Kardashians” moment, as it does every two years. OMG what are they wearing? Who is paired with who? And, God forbid, a wardrobe malfunction or a presser coup-d’état against leadership happens. So much drama.

While there was never a moment I cared about the Kardashians, there was a time when Ryder Cup Fever had me losing my mind every other September. I was a flaky 19-year-old in 1991, and I caught none of the hoopla at Kiawah and the War by the Shore. I didn’t really get the golf-bug until I was away at college and Tiger Woods won his third U.S. Am in a row. By the time Justin Leonard sank “the putt” in Brookline I was full-blown, out-of-my mind Ryder Cup crazy.

The following years didn’t help much: you know the drill. Massive, lopsided losses. Our “favored” team getting thrashed by the likes of David Gilford or Victor Dubuisson or That Guy who wore the Sergio Costume & Putted Better than The Real Sergio Ever Could. Those guys were busy beating Phil, Tiger, David and Dustin and everyone else. This didn’t stop me; no, rather it emboldened me. I argued with Euros about how good we really were. I built a spreadsheet once, in a moment of futile sadness, that showed how superior our American team was. American wins, putting averages, strength of field stuff – all very neatly organized. We lost that year. By a lot.

I soldiered on.

I forgave Hal Sutton for pairing Tiger and Phil. Then I changed my mind. I was on-site all week at Valhalla in 2008, my dad and me. While I’m not positive, I’m pretty sure our Valhalla crew started the sarcastic call-back to the Euro chants of “Ole” by mocking them with “No way, no way, no way, no way – nooo waaayy, NOOO WAAAY” as Anthony Kim walked around high-fiving everything, even trees, flagsticks, random Euro fans, everything, the dude was awesome that year. Maybe we didn’t start it, but considering the bloodbaths in the years before, it sure felt like the first time ever. I bled with the rest of us the very next year when we gave the trophy right back. To this day I partly blame the gods of Sky and Rain for what happened at Celtic Manor. Seriously, who holds a Worldwide Sensational Tournament at the Bottom of the Ocean (some call it Wales) in September? But I was still all-in on Team USA.

I was a smack-talking fool in 2012 as we marched into singles Sunday, where, clearly, we always won anyway. (This was the salve that soothed me all those years, about how the Euros usually won some archaic format we never played like “four ball” or “foursomes” – but singles – that was the real test of who’s better). Then …we…lost… on Sunday. The Meltdown at Medinah sealed it. It broke me. I said foul things about our boys, our coaches, even the WAGS and the clothing choices and the fans. All of it. I was done. Not watching again, not caring, bah humbug.

This was my way for 23 months.

Then, well, you know…I’d watch again. See what happened. The Tom Watson hanging party is what happened. We lost (again), thus validating my abandonment of the event. Now listen, I get it; it would be easy to say I was spent/done/over on the Ryder Cup because we sucked at it. Which would be mostly true. But giving up gave me: perspective. I went into 2016 with a curiosity I hadn’t had in years. There was this Task Force, which, with perspective, is freaking hilarious. I assume at their secret HQ they considered capes at one point and I promise you Tiger has an invisible plane from his time spent with the SEALs. Was this going to work? Like, really work?

And then, holey moley, it worked. They won.

But what was I watching? What got me fired up?

I was thoroughly enjoying the spectacle of it all. It’s an exhibition. I know you’re all like “OK, Jack Nicklaus, I get it, blah blah.” But ole’ Jackie has got it right. It’s a blast to not care who wins it. I mean, c’mon that Rory-Reed match was flat-out fantastic. Then right behind it, That Guy who wore the Sergio Costume & Putted Better than The Real Sergio Ever Could was in a barn-burner with Phil. It was great to watch, fun to see what happened. I was glued to the set, but not once was I in a screaming mood. There wasn’t that lump in my throat watching a Euro line up an 80ft putt through a clown’s mouth, 2 bunkers and pure mud and worrying he’d actually make it. I just wanted to enjoy watching what happened – I was there for the exhibition of it all. Watching the best in the world, for Glory only, no money (not really anyway) throwing giant haymakers at each other. All for giggles, nothing else. Brilliant!

I’ll watch a lot of the show in France later this month; will I pull for Team USA? Of course I will. But I’m not too wound up to care what happens; there will be no screaming at the TV, no lumps in my throat. We are heavily favored, again, which if the last 30 years is right, means the Team Euro is gonna really enjoy this one. I won’t even care if Webb pops his tee ball up on the first tee again.

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A married father of 3 daughters (who cheer competitively, pray for me), Chris routinely takes his life in his hands by asking his wife to play golf all over Indiana. Deftly chiseling his handicap down from 18 to 8 in just 20 short years, his dedication to being a first-class golf nerd comes full circle as he documents the far reaches of his brain in printed word. He spends most days fiendishly plotting to replace Matt Ginella. If you're playing in the Indy area and a man wearing pink golf pants and chomping on a cigar is describing a golf bet so complicated only he can win it, tell my wife I'll be home in an hour.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Greg V

    Sep 14, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Funny, I’m an American, but I like to pull for the Euros. All those years when the Texans won easily deserves payback.

    • Kevin

      Sep 14, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      Pulling for the Euros, your no American! You should be ashamed of yourself and I am ashamed for you.

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Opinion & Analysis

A different perspective

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to play a round with two of the greens keepers at a local golf course and it was a fascinating experience. It gave me a chance to get a behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to make a golf course great.

Many of us play at public courses, and sometimes its luck of the draw if the course we are at is in good condition. In my case, if I find a course that is well maintained and taken care of, I make it a regular stop. In this case, I was at Ridgeview Ranch in Plano Texas and it is a great public course and I play here at least once a month.

The two guys I played with were Tony Arellano and Jose Marguez. Both were great guys to share a round with. Tony shared what it’s like to make sure that all the greens are maintained properly and watered correctly. He showed me where there were some issues with one of the greens that I would never have noticed. We talked about how the invasion of Poa annua grass forces his guys to pull it out by hand with a tool that is smaller than a divot repair tool. It became clear to me that as a golf community, we need to lift up the people that do this labor-intensive work and thank them for all they do. Ridgeview Ranch is without a doubt one of the better public courses in my area, and it is because of the hard work these men do that keeps it this way.

As we watched the Masters tournament a few weeks ago we were awestruck by the awesome beauty of Augusta National and in my case I believe that is what heaven looks like. I think we take that kind of beauty for granted and forget the massive amount of time and hard work that go into making a golf course look good. These people have to deal with all of the different factors that Mother Nature throws at them and be prepared for anything. In addition to that, they also have to make sure the watering system is maintained as well as all of their equipment.

I have played at other courses in the DFW area that have a terrible staff and a superintendent that either don’t care about the course or don’t know how to stop it from falling apart. The course won’t spend the money to go get the right people that will take pride in their work. Some of these places will charge you more than $80 per round, and when you get to the first green that has dry spots that are without any grass you feel like you have been ripped off.

We all love this game not because it’s easy but because it’s a challenge and being good at it takes a ton of effort. We also love it because it gives us a chance to hang out with friends and family and enjoy time outside in the sun– hopefully without cell phone interruptions and other distractions of our modern day. We spend a ton of money on green fees, equipment and sometimes travel. We want to get what we pay for and we want to have a great course to spend the day at.

I wanted to write this article to thank all of those men and women that start work in the early hours of the day and work through the hottest stretches of the summer to keep our golf courses in great shape. They are people that never get the credit they deserve and we should always thank them whenever possible. Tony and Jose are just two examples of the people who work so hard for all of us. Ridgeview Ranch is lucky to have these two men who not only work hard but were fantastic representatives of their course. So next time you are out there and you see these people working hard, maybe stop and say thank you let them know what they do really makes a difference.

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Opinion & Analysis

5 most common golf injuries (and how to deal with them)

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You might not think about golf as a physically intensive game, but that doesn’t change the fact it is still a sport. And as with every sport, there’s a possibility you’ll sustain an injury while playing golf. Here’s a list of the five most common injuries you might sustain when playing the game, along with tips on how to deal with them in the best way possible so you heal quickly.

Sunburn

While not directly an injury, it’s paramount to talk about sunburns when talking about golf. A typical golf game is played outside in the open field, and it lasts for around four hours. This makes it extremely likely you’ll get sunburnt, especially if your skin is susceptible to it.

That’s why you should be quite careful when you play golf

Apply sunscreen every hour – since you’re moving around quite a lot on a golf course, sunscreen won’t last as long as it normally does.

Wear a golf hat – aside from making you look like a professional, the hat will provide additional protection for your face.

If you’re extra sensitive to the sun, you should check the weather and plan games when the weather is overcast.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. This group are the main muscles responsible for swing movements in your arms. It’s no surprise then that in golf, where the main activity consists of swinging your arms, there’s a real chance this muscle group might sustain an injury.

To avoid injuries to this group, it’s imperative you practice the correct form of swinging the club. Before playing, you should also consider some stretching.

If you get an injury, however, you can recover faster by following RICE:

Rest: resting is extremely important for recovery. After an injury, the muscles are extremely vulnerable to further injury, and that’s why you should immediately stop playing and try to get some rest.

Ice: applying ice to the injured area during the first day or two can help. It reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles.

Compress: bandage the rotator cuff group muscle and compress the muscles. This speeds up the muscle healing process.

Elevate: elevate the muscles above your heart to help achieve better circulation of blood and minimize fluids from gathering.

Wrist Injuries

Wrist tendons can sustain injuries when playing golf. Especially if you enjoy playing with a heavy club, it can put some strain on the wrist and cause wrist tendonitis, which is characterized by inflammation and irritation.

You should start by putting your wrist in a splint or a cast – it is necessary to immobilize your wrist to facilitate healing.

Anti-inflammatory medicine can relieve some of the pain and swelling you’ll have to deal with during the healing process. While it might not help your wrist heal much quicker, it’ll increase your comfort.

A professional hand therapist knows about the complexities of the wrist and the hand and can help you heal quicker by inspecting and treating your hands.

Back Pain

A golf game is long, sometimes taking up to 6 hours. This long a period of standing upright, walking, swinging clubs, etc. can put stress on your back, especially in people who aren’t used to a lot of physical activities:

If you feel like you’re not up for it, you should take a break mid-game and then continue after a decent rest. A golf game doesn’t have any particular time constraints, so it should be simple to agree to a short break.

If you don’t, consider renting a golf cart, it makes movement much easier. If that’s not possible, you can always buy a pushcart, which you can easily store all the equipment in. Take a look at golf push cart reviews to know which of them best suits your needs.

Better posture – a good posture distributes physical strain throughout your body and not only on your back, which means a good posture will prevent back pain and help you deal with it better during a game.

Golfer’s Elbow

Medically known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow occurs due to strain on the tendons connecting the elbow and forearm. It can also occur if you overuse and over-exhaust the muscles in your forearm that allow you to grip and rotate your arm:

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is the way to go to alleviate the most severe symptoms of the injury at the beginning.

Lift the club properly, and if you think there’s a mismatch between your wrist and the weight of the club, you should get a lighter one.

Learn when you’ve reached your limit. Don’t overexert yourself – when you know your elbow is starting to cause you problems, take a short break!

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Podcasts

TG2: Our PGA picks were spot on…and Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball

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Rob picked Brooks to win the PGA and hit the nail on the head, while Knudson’s DJ pick was pretty close. Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball and we talk about some new clubs that are going to be tested in the next couple days.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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