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What Tiger should give back to the game



After Tiger Woods’ nothing-less-than astonishing return to form this year, capped by his recent win at The Tour Championship, it seems nearly everyone is back on the bandwagon. Need proof? Odds makers around the world have already made him the favorite to win next year’s Masters. And if you listen to the pundits tripping over each other to provide each fresh take you’d think this older, wiser, and humbler version of Tiger is not only now primed to do finally break Nicklaus’ major tournament record, but to possibly even be the one to who finally brings peace to the the Middle East, but I digress.

It’s true, Tiger’s done much for golf, likely more than any player of the modern era. In the past, he’s been penned as the games’ savior, bringing more eyeballs on, and players to, the sport than anyone since Palmer, and maybe more. He ushered in the era of the golfer as an uber-athlete, while bringing more attention, and more money to the sport (and the pockets of all his would-be successors and competitors), than any player before him. And he’s done all that just by playing it.

At the same time, though, the game has given Tiger much, arguably much more than any player before him, and so to a degree, I think it’s okay to expect that he owes it much more than any player before him. Sure, he’s given back in ways that go beyond just playing, like what he’s given to many who may never even play the game through his foundation. But it occurred to me after his win the other day, that Tiger now has a unique opportunity to give something different back to the game, and a host of struggling rank and file golfers that have largely supported him through the highs and lows of his career. And maybe, just maybe, this kinder, gentler, humbler Tiger is finally in a place where he’ll consider doing it.

Despite the scourge of slow play, time famine, and the other myriad of reasons cited for a drop in golf participation during the decade Tiger has spent absent from the major winners’ circle, one of the biggest ongoing issues affecting participation often goes unheralded. And this issue not only drives an estimated 25 percent of the players who quit the game from it, it greatly hampers the enjoyment of it for a vast multitude of others who still choose to play. The affliction known as the yips.

Now, if you listened to nearly every one of those same back-on-the-bandwagon pundits a mere year or two ago, they were lining up just as fast to claim how the yips were as much behind Tiger’s absence from competition (and his poor showings when did compete) as was his ailing back. Even the Tiger apologists had begun to come around, resigning themselves to the fact that something was seriously wrong, even while they tip-toed around the actual word like its utterance alone had the power to take him down. But with each topped tee shot, skulled bunker shot, or pitch from a tight lie that he laid the sod over, what were at first whispers rose to a near crescendo. Tiger had the yips. Especially around the greens, but it didn’t stop there, as his decade-long struggle with the big-stick was also being hailed as more mental than anything to do with the umpteen incarnations of his golf swing.

Watch this new Tiger, though, especially these past few months, and while his driver is still suspect, it’s hard to believe all those conversations about the yips were even being had. Contending in numerous events, coming close in two majors, and now winning The Tour Championship, and nearly The FedEx Cup, and even the staunchest Tiger critic would have a hard time not agreeing that he’s back, and not just from a bad back, but from a mental abyss the likes of which it can be argued that few have ever returned to the top of the sport from.

And this is where Tiger can finally, truly give something back. As one of the best to ever pick up a pitching wedge, I think it’s time we were treated to a little bit more than a mere platitudes, a What’s in The Bag, or an analysis of the nuts and bolts of the latest incarnation of his golf swing. It was long considered that Tiger’s iron-clad psyche, his iron will, and his mental toughness were his greatest weapon. In his prime, he was other-worldly, winning often by sheer intimidation. But now that that the myth of his immortality has been shattered, and he’s been revealed as much everyman as he is the superman we once put up on that pedestal, it’d be nice to see him play the part of Toto and pull back the curtain a bit on the struggles of the great and powerful Oz. And give us some real insight on what it exactly took to bring him back from the brink.

Tiger’s former coach Hank Haney (who also battled the yips) once did it, even wrote a whole book about it, something I’m sure it took some pride-swallowing to do. Tiger doing it would be on another level. And while it would be an even bigger act of humility for him to do so, especially when you consider his long-standing disdain for admitting to any kind of weakness, it would mean so much more.

If what we’re really seeing is a kinder, gentler, wiser, humbler Tiger this time around, one whose more appreciative of all he once had, all he still does, and all the game has given him, then maybe just maybe this time he’ll throw a bone to some of the rank and file who love this game, who’d love to keep loving it, and shed some light on the specifics of how he’s managed to leave one of the games’ biggest specters behind. It could help many get more out of the game, and give many more the hope they need to keep playing it. And in the process, Tiger just might give back to the game something he never knew he had the power to: the gift of its enjoyment.

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Mike Dowd is the author of the new novel COMING HOME and the Lessons from the Golf Guru: Wit, Wisdom, Mind-Tricks & Mysticism for Golf and Life series. He has been Head PGA Professional at Oakdale Golf & CC in Oakdale, California since 2001, and is serving his third term on the NCPGA Board of Directors and Chairs the Growth of the Game Committee. Mike has introduced thousands of people to the game and has coached players that have played golf collegiately at the University of Hawaii, San Francisco, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, University of the Pacific, C.S.U. Sacramento, C.S.U. Stanislaus, C.S.U. Chico, and Missouri Valley State, as men and women on the professional tours. Mike currently lives in Turlock, California with his wife and their two aspiring LPGA stars, where he serves on the Turlock Community Theatre Board, is the past Chairman of the Parks & Recreation Commission and is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock. In his spare time (what's that?) he enjoys playing golf with his girls, writing, music, fishing and following the foibles of the Sacramento Kings, the San Francisco 49ers, the San Francisco Giants, and, of course, the PGA Tour. You can find Mike at



  1. bernd

    Oct 9, 2018 at 1:04 am

    1. Tiger owes nothing to the game of golf, he has given as much as he has received, if not moreso if you’re talking net revenues, etc
    2. Poorly written article, terrible transitions from one thought to another. Please, stop writing.
    3. Tiger doesn’t need to be anything to anyone besides his family at this point. If perceived as kinder, humbler, gentler, to the public, does it even matter? Is it even real? And again, he doesn’t owe that to the public. Last thing we need is another athlete pretending to put on a facade.

  2. Aztec

    Oct 8, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    Mike Dowd is the same guy who wrote an article saying amateurs should play at 30 times their average driving distance in order to break 100, 90, etc. (it’s easy to find on this site if you want). So, if you’re average drive is 250 you should be playing 7,500 yd courses to maximize your chances. AND he says this is backed by ‘research’. A lot of people called him out on this – not one response from him to either defend his position of just admit he made a mistake. This should give you an idea how credible he is.

  3. frank cichon

    Oct 8, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    His putting is not close to what it was like 5-6 years ago. I first noticed at Agusta a few years back when he had an eagle putt around 10 feet for either taking the lead or to tie for the lead (back 9 on Sunday) and he missed the put on the low side and the putt would not have hit the back of the hole..maybe it would not have even got to the hole. When Tiger was winning most of his putts hit the back of the cup with speed……too of he come up SHORT & often short on the LOW side…how often did that happen 5-6 years ago.His win was in a short field event (30 in the field , although a strong field) rounds of 65,68,65 FINAL round of 71 (average score for final round was UNDER 70) had a 4 shot lead after the 1st hole and only won by 1 when really only 2 players had a chance to beat him and they posted rounds of 74 & 75. I do not think he had much pressure put on him Sunday or the result may have been different.

  4. dat

    Oct 8, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Pathetic piece.

  5. William Davis

    Oct 8, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Could we not have a rest from Woods for, say, two months. He can then make yet another comeback.

  6. Hawkeye77

    Oct 8, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Seems like the only folks suggesting Tiger needs to “admit” he had the yips are those folks who wrongly claimed that he did in the first place, lol. Now he’s won and all the naysayers have to cling to something. Well written but the premise simply wrong.

  7. JP

    Oct 7, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Author of this story should be fired.

  8. Kool Aid

    Oct 7, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    I said that when Tiger fell from grace, he should have donated 100 million dollars to 3rd world countries

  9. Duggie Howser

    Oct 7, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    Sounds like an Elizabeth Warren piece.

  10. Johnny Penso

    Oct 7, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    “I would hate to see golf get lost again in that Tiger talk” – Greg Norman

    Quite prophetic.

  11. bj

    Oct 7, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Worst Ive read on this forum…..Way off base with this. wrong…wrong….wrong

  12. Paul Booij

    Oct 7, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Tiger owes us nothing. However, it would be nice if he wrote a book about what he went through. I would probably buy it. Just to know about how he changed his swing from where he was a few years ago.

  13. Really?

    Oct 7, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Tiger owes us nothing.

  14. Beau B. Jamin

    Oct 7, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Mike – There is far more factual basis in Big Foot and UFO’s that there ever will be in the so called dreaded golf “yips”. It makes me laugh every time I hear anyone bring this topic up as it is some sort of incurable disease. Where did this goofy old school mythological golf disease actually come from? A scene from Caddyshack perhaps? I honestly don’t know. . . Now if you want to discuss poor performance brought on by a wide variety of things such as : A lack of confidence due to a lack of practice and experience with a given lie, distance, and/or ground conditions; or a lack of confidence due to mental distraction often brought on by paralyzing self consciousness and fear of failure which is more often than not brought on by lack of practice and experience with a given lie or situation, then we might have something to talk about, but “the yips”. . . I don’t know. . .

    • The dude

      Oct 7, 2018 at 9:08 pm

      Here’s what I learned from your post……you don’t know…(really bad post)

      • Bob

        Oct 8, 2018 at 9:23 am

        Here’s what I learned from your post. You’re a troll. . .

  15. Francis Speight

    Oct 7, 2018 at 10:47 am

    He never had the yips he had a bad back, it effects every part of your game.

    • dixiedoc

      Oct 8, 2018 at 10:26 pm

      He still has a bad back and he still has the yips. They’ll come back, you’ll see

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Ari’s Course Reviews: Bethpage Black



Bethpage’s Black course was designed by A.W. Tillinghast and opened for play in 1936. It was immediately considered one of the best tests of golf in the world, and it has tested golfers coming from all over the world in its 83-year history. Bethpage State Park itself has five courses. The Green was the first course built and was originally called Lennox Hills Country Club. In the early 1930s, the Bethpage Park Authority purchased Lennox Hills CC and other adjacent property and turned the whole thing into what is now known as Bethpage State Park. Course architect A.W. Tillinghast was hired to remodel what would become the Green course as well as build the Blue, Red, and finally the Black. The Yellow Course was designed by Alfred Tull and opened in 1958.

Bethpage first hosted a major championship in 2002 when it hosted the U.S, Open. What is somewhat forgotten 17 years later as it hosts its third major, is how much the course had fallen into disrepair by the mid-1990s. Luckily, the USGA could see through all of that and helped fund a complete restoration that was overseen personally by Dave Catalano, the larger than life (in both stature and personality) head of Bethpage State Park. Dave had been working at Bethpage since he was a kid in 1967, picking up papers in the picnic area. It was his baby, and with Rees Jones by his side, they painstakingly restored the Black to its former greatness and into a true championship test of golf. After the PGA Championship, the Black will be back in the spotlight 2024 as host of the Ryder Cup, joining a very short list of courses to host a U.S. Open, a PGA Championship, and a Ryder Cup.

Playing the Black is one of the most unique experiences in the game because of what it takes to get a tee time. There are a very limited number of tee times. They are easier to get if you are a NY resident, but for most of us, it’s first come, first serve. Which in practical terms means they have a parking lot with numbered spaces and people start showing up the day before to sleep in their cars to play. In fact, I can proudly say that the last three times I slept in my car it was just to play at Bethpage. One of those times I didn’t even get out on the Black and had to settle for playing the Red! Should have eaten dinner in the car I guess….

Every time I have slept in the car I have had a great time. It’s a party in the lot with a bunch of golfers hanging out all excited to play the next day. There’s usually a few beers around and one of the times, someone called a cab and went and got 50 cheeseburgers from McDonald’s at 1 a.m. to show us all some top-notch NY hospitality! That’s definitely not an experience you will have going to play any other top courses!

Once you finally do get to sleep, the staff wakes you up around 4 a.m. to go get in line and get your tee time and course assignment. Then you can go back to sleep or go eat breakfast or hit balls or whatever you want until it’s your turn to tee off. On your way to the tee, you see the famous WARNING sign telling you that the Black Course is an extremely difficult course which they recommend only for highly skilled golfers. Hopefully, you didn’t lose your tee ticket because you will need that to get onto the tee and trust me, they aren’t messing around with the rules!

The golf course itself sits on a huge, sprawling, fantastic piece of land with abundant elevation change and lots of random contours. The bunkering is big and bold and not to be messed with. There is abundant long fescue and numerous trees off to the sides of the holes which combined with the beautiful bunkering makes for a very beautiful setting.

The first hole is a downhill, almost 90-degree dogleg right. The fairway is pretty flat and so is the well-bunkered green. The key for the player is to put their drive into the right place in the fairway to get a good angle to the hole location. From here you cross Round Swamp Rd and head to the second, which is a short, uphill par 4 of 389 yards. The fairway slants a little right to left and the green is elevated and can be a challenge to hold. The third is a par 3 that plays about 160 yards normally but has been brought back to 230 the PGA. This is one of the more interesting greens on the course; it’s wide on the right and falls away as it gets to the back and tapers to a smaller, more narrow section on the left. Bunkers flank the short left and right side of the green.

The fourth hole is vintage Bethpage Black and probably the most photographed on the course. A huge bunker flanks the left side of the fairway off the tee of the 517-yard par-5. Another, even more huge bunker looms at the end of the fairway cut into the from right to left. The tee shot is downhill but the rest of the hole is uphill. There is a second fairway to layup over the big bunker where you will have a partial view of the small, flattish green that falls away slightly and is protected by two more deep bunkers to the front and left. The fifth is a monster par 4 of almost 480 yards. A massive fairway bunker guards the right side of the fairway which is also the best angle to come into the small, elevated green guarded by two deep bunkers short and one over the green.

FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK – MAY 15: A general view of the fifth green is seen during a practice round prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 15, 2019 in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

No. 6 gets back into the more open and less tree-lined part of the property. The tee shot is semi-blind and over a hill. The landing area is pinched by bunkers on both sides. The long hitter who can carry the hill should have a very short shot into the flattish, oval shaped green that’s open in front and protected by bunkers on both sides. No. 7 is a converted par 5 that plays as a par 4 for the PGA. At 524 yards, it’s very long and the tee shot requires a long poke over another large fairway bunker. The green is again pretty flat and protected by deep bunkers in front.

The eighth hole is unique for the Black as it’s the only hole with water in play. A 210-yard drop shot to a green with some slope from right to left and front to back and a ridge running on a diagonal angle through the middle of the green. The shot must carry the pond short of the green and there is a deep bunker left and a hillside right. Nine is a 460-yard hard dogleg left that drops down off the tee and back up to the green. Another very deep bunker guards the left side and can be carried by the longer hitter. The right side of the fairway is the safe play off the tee but leaves an awkward shot out of a gully up to the green. The green is heavily guarded in front again by deep bunkers.

As the players make the turn, they are confronted with another long, tight par 4 of just over 500 yards. Hitting the fairway is key here as the fairway is heavily guarded by bunkers and fescue. The green sits on the other side of a little gully and is guarded once again by a set of deep bunkers. The 11th hole is 435 yards and has probably the most interesting green on the course. It has a little false front and two distinct tiers with some nice internal movement. A really good green on any course it stands out on the Black amongst what is mostly a flatter set of greens. 12 forces the players to carry it 285 over a massive cross bunker on the 515-yard par 4. The green is back to the more typical flattish oval, and characteristically is guarded in the front on both sides by deep bunkers. 13 is a par 5 of over 600 yards. One of the least bunkered holes on the course, there are a few bunkers on the left and a great little cross bunker about 60 yards short of the green that obscures the view of the green and will make the players think twice about going for the green in two. 14 is the best chance for birdie on the course. A par 3 that plays only 160 yards over a valley to a narrow, long green.

After walking off the 14th green the players cross back over Round Swamp Road to the home stretch of the course. 15 is always the hardest hole on the course for me when I play the Black. The hole plays 460 yards. The tee shot is flat to a fairway that bends slightly right to left and has no bunkers. The second shot is massively uphill. Over a hillside set with bunkers and a small section of fairway to a green set into the top of the hill and guarded by the deepest bunkers on the course. A very hard hole to make par if you miss the fairway or miss the green. The 16th has a downhill tee shot that will test the player’s judgement of the wind if there is any present. The green is well guarded especially to the right and is small with a little slant to it. The 17th is an uphill brute of a 210-yard par 3. The green is 45 yards wide and is huge. However, it does not look big from the tee as it is set amongst a veritable minefield of bunkers waiting to swallow up any wayward shots. The players walk up a hill to the 18th tee and stare down at a fairway that gets severely pinched in the middle by the huge bunkers on both sides. The green is then back uphill, it’s medium sized with a slight kidney shape and two deep, artistically shaped bunkers set into the hillside short.

All of this adds up to a great test of championship golf.  The course is pretty straightforward. There is not a ton of strategy other than hit it long and straight and make as many putts as you can. The greens are mostly pretty flat so there should be a lot of chances for birdie for those that can reach the greens in regulation. That said, the course has a ton of character when it comes to the land movement and elevation changes as well as the massive, artistic bunkers. New Yorkers are VERY proud of the Black and for a very good reason. It’s a fantastic golf course. Golf needs more top courses like the Black that are accessible to everyone and challenging to even the best players in the world.


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The 19th Hole (Ep 79): Miura’s new HB wedges and the Art of Golf



Miura Golf COO Bill Holowaty talks about the new High Bounce wedges and other offerings from the legendary clubmaker. Also features Lee Wybranski, renowned artist and creator of the official posters for golf’s major championships.

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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Making the Weekend: PGA Championship 2019



Ryan Barath from the “On Spec” podcast breaks down the leaderboard of the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

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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19th Hole