Thursday, April 23, 2015

Phil Mickelson - The People's Champion

Phil's full profile.
I mentioned in my last post about my golf bucket list that out of all of my favorite players, Phil Mickelson is the one I want to meet.  Phil is such a great player, and even better, he is a great guy.  Currently Phil is ranked 48th in the FedEx Cup and 18th in the Official World Golf Ranking.  He turned pro in 1992 and has had 42 PGA Tour victories.  These wins include 3 Masters, 1 British Open, and 1 PGA Championship.  That means he has won every Major Tournament besides the U.S. Open, and I will really be routing for Phil in June when he looks for his first win at The U.S. Open finishing is Career Grand Slam.  Phil was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, and if you have never seen his speech, you need to watch it here.  This video, even though it doesn't show him playing, perfectly displays why I like Phil so much.

Phil truly loves the game of golf.  He explains his passion in his World Golf Hall of Fame speech.  He started 'playing' golf and swinging a club as soon as he could walk.  His dad gave him a sawed off club to play with before he was even 2 years old.  He claims that he slept with his clubs as a child while dreaming about golf.  Lefty is actually a righty.  When he was learning to play he would mirror his father, so he learned to play left handed from a young age and it has worked out pretty well for him.  He started playing in junior tournaments and then received a scholarship to play at Arizona State University.

"The object of golf is not just to win.  It's to play like a gentleman, and win."
-Phil

Photo Cred: golf.com
This quote also perfectly sums up why Phil is my favorite player.  To me golf and golfers should be full of respect, respect for the game, respect for other players, and respect for yourself.  That is what makes this sport so appealing.  Phil shows this respect on and off the course.  In 2006 he and his wife Amy started Birdies for the Brave, which was later adopted by the PGA Tour.  Phil is a big supporter of our military mend and women and is involved with many foundations and charities like Birdies for the Brave and Special Operations Warrior Foundation.  

Phil is really just fun to watch win.  As much as I enjoyed Spieth's amazing win at this years Masters, I was also really pulling for Phil Mickelson to come through.  He ended up tying for 2nd place with a great performance.  I will forever wish that I would have been able to watch him win his first major championship at the 2004 Masters.  I have seen the recaps, and it would have been awesome to watch him sink that put on 18 to win his first major.  


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Golf Bucket List

There are many things I want to do in life, but as a golf addict most of them include golf in some way.  That is why I have decided to ditch the traditional bucket list, and focus on my golf bucket list.  Every golfer has one, they may not be written down and posted on a blog like this one, but every golfer has courses they want to play, tournaments they want to go to, or things they want to accomplish in golf.  So here are a few of mine, in no particular order.
The Old Course

1. Play the Old Course at St Andrews.  This is the oldest course in the world, and where golf started.  I have always wanted to go to Scotland anyways, then I started golfing and I have even more reason to go.  St Andrews is a public course and during the low season you can play the Old Course for 80 Euro (approximately 85 US Dollars).

2.  Hole-In-One.  This should be every golfers dream, and I am no different.  How amazing would it be to be able to write a 1 on your score card, to tee off and finish the hole all in one shot, to walk from tee to green without any worries of needing to make a putt.  I think about this every time I step onto a tee box of a par-3.

Photo Cred: Saved by Southern Charm
3.  Go to The Masters.  I want to be there for it all, the practice rounds, the par 3 tournament, the ceremonial first tee shots, moving day, and the final hole on Sunday.  This has been on my bucket list since I first started getting into golf and Charl Schwartzel won in 2011.  Since that day I have been dying to be at Augusta National during the Sunday round.  Now, that I have grown in the game and became more familiar with The Masters Tournament, I want to be there for all of it, especially the ceremonial tee shots on Thursday.

4.  Meet Phil Mickelson.  I have a lot of favorite players, but Phil is really the one I would like to meet.  He is a great player, and seems to be such a genuine guy.  If I could meet anyone on Tour it would be a difficult choice, but I think I would choose Phil.  If I was even able to just get an autograph from him, I could cross this off my bucket list, and probably replace it with meet McIlroy, Fowler, or Spieth.
Photo Cred: Robert Fagan

5.  Golf in Hawaii.  Hawaii is a beautiful place, and their golf courses are amazing.  I have never been to Hawaii, but I will, and I will bring my clubs.  Bonus to golfing in Hawaii, amazing weather and beautiful views of the ocean!

6.  Golf in Paris.  There is no special link between golf and Paris that makes be want to play there.  Except for my obsession with them both.  I have been in love with Paris since I was in the 7th grade.  I have always wanted to visit, and now I have to put the two things I love together, and golf in Paris.  It would be amazing if I could get on Paris International which was designed by Jack Nicklaus, but it is a Private Club.

Photo Cred: Arizona Golf
7.  The 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.  This item could get crossed off my list pretty soon, since I only live only about 7 hours away.  The Waste Management Phoenix Open is another one of my favorite tournaments to watch, especially with my friends who like to tell me golf is too quiet.  They have put some limitations such as no caddie races and players cant throw things into the stand, and I wish I could have been on the 16th hole before these limitations started, but this is still one of the funnest holes in golf.

8.  Go to a Ryder Cup.  The Ryder Cup is my favorite event in golf, although I have never seen the US Team win.  I have only seen the last two Ryder Cups, but I have fallen in love with this tournament.  It is so fun to watch some of my favorite players play as a team.  Although it can be hard when some of your favorite players are Europeans.

I have a lot of traveling to do to finish this bucket list of mine.  The only item I can complete while staying in Utah is getting a hole-in-one.  What is on your golf bucket list that I should add to mine?  Let me know in the comments below or on my Twitter @ChippingInGolf.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DrivrGolf

A simple 1-hour lesson can drastically improve your game.  I met with an instructor for 5 minutes and he completely changed the way I drive the ball and easily added 50+ yards back that I had lost by slicing the ball on every drive.  If I would have had the time with him to go over different aspects of my game, I would have been a much better player much sooner.  Instruction is a very important part of the game, and can help to lower frustrations on the course, and ultimately make the game more enjoyable.  That is why I am excited to help introduce DrivrGolf, a suite of tools designed for instructors, the first of which is DrivrPro.

DrivrPro is a cloud based booking and client management system that will help instructors more efficiently book, manage, and administer lessons.  DrivrPro was developed and designed based on feedback from a wide variety of golf instructors.  This is a great application that will benefit both instructors and students.

According to DrivrPro’s research, it currently takes instructors on average 30 minutes of office work just to book a lesson with each student.  That is valuable time that should be spent offering lessons.  DrivrPro will help to eliminate a lot of that unnecessary office time.  Students will be able to book, pay for, and re-schedule their lessons all online.  This is not a one-size-fits-all approach to online booking either.  Each account is set up and structured around the needs of the instruction facility or academy.  It is set up so that there is one administrator who can add, remove, or inactivate instructor accounts as needed.  DrivrPro will help to grow the instructor’s online presence with a free Golf Academy website as well.  DrivrPro offers easy to use client management tools such as calendars that can sync up with iCal and Google, as well as run business analytics.  DrivrPro will help instructors save time by limiting office work, making it possible to teach more lessons, and helping them connect with their students who are online.

DrivrPro is designed for instructors but is also incredibly beneficial for students as well.  Obviously, with online booking you can book your lesson at any time of the day.  There is a lot more to it than that though.  It will help you to connect with the best instructor for you.  DrivrPro is creating a centralized area where you can find instructors in your area and read reviews from other players.  After your lesson you will be able to see all of your data and any feedback from your instructor right on your DrivrPro account.  And it is free to use for students.  

What I really love about DrivrGolf is their mission to grow the game.  As I speak with people about golf I often hear that they have been once or twice but they weren’t very good at it so they stopped playing.  As someone with a welcomed golf obsession, this makes me sad, this is why lessons are important to golf.  Se can’t all be natural born players like Bubba Watson who never had a lesson.  Having a lesson can improve your game, lessen your frustration, make playing more enjoyable, and ultimately improve retention.  DrivrGolf has found that in the millennial age group (18-34) participation rates dropped 13% from 2009 to 2013.  Here is the thing about my age group.  We do everything online, 75% conduct online research before buying a product or service.  This is why DrivrGolf is helping instructors go online and use technology to their advantage to grow the game of golf.  They use the internet, where potential students already are, to connect them with instructors who will help them improve their game and want to keep playing.

DrivrGolf is founded by Thomas Eder and Matthew Coco, two avid golfers who want to share their love of the game.

Tom is an entrepreneur with an advertising background specializing in digital marketing, web development and interaction design.  He started golfing 3 years ago with his friends and is now hooked on the game.  The thing he loves about golf is the mental game.  “It’s truly an art form when you really begin to understand the subtleties.”  He dreams to one day play TPC Sawgrass and Augusta National.  

Matt is a digital marketer, web developer, and systems administrator.  He has been golfing since the age of 10 and has been active in the sport since.  He is an Australian with a deep loyalty to Greg Norman, and is said to have the skillset to drive the ball into outer space.  He also loves the mental side of golf along with the challenge to continually improve.  “The physics of a golf swing and hitting straight are easy to understand. It's doing it every time regardless of the situation that's hard.”  Matt plays for the love of the game, he doesn’t really care where he plays he just wants to play with some good friends with a little fresh dew on the greens.  

DrivrPro will launch this summer.  Keep an eye out for them by following them on Twitter @Drivrgolf, as well as following their blog at http://www.drivrgolf.com/blog.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Golf Fitness

Photo Cred: American Golf
Believe it or not Golf is an active sport, even when you play with a cart (which is good news for me)!  I often feel very tired after a round of golf, and I always attributed it to the fact that I have been out in the sun most of the day.  Then I started doing some research on the fitness side of golf and found out the real reason why it can be so exhausting.  By spending one hour at the range you can burn up to 200 calories.  One round of golf is equal to a 45 minute fitness class, plus it is more fun and a lot prettier.  Playing 18 holes with a cart burns over 400 calories, 18 holes walking with a caddie burns over 600.  Next time you are at the course and you are asked if you want to walk or ride, remember this, playing 18 holes is equivalent to a 5 mile walk and you can burn over 720 calories!  This last fact might make me ditch the cart and become a walker.

Golf is a very repetitive sport too.  Hours of the same motion can wear on your joints and muscles.  This is a game we all want to play into our years of retirement, I'm only in my 20's and I am already keeping my eye open for a nice place to retire where I can play golf year round!  To avoid injury that will prevent you from playing your best game or even playing at all, you need to strengthen your joints and those muscles that are used over and over again in a golf swing.  You also need to stretch and warm up before each round.  Doing this will help to increase your power and your control of the club.

In fact the number one player in the world, Rory McIlroy, along with Nike have been showing the world some of Rory's training routine that helps him do what he needs to do on the course.  I love what they have been doing to show that golf really can be an athletic sport.
  

While doing my research I found several simple workouts that will help to strengthen your body specifically for the game of golf.

1. Side Split Squat.  To do this stand with your feet wide apart and sit down into a squat, shift your weight to the right foot then to the left foot.  Slowly shift back and forth for 20 repetitions.

2.  Golf Twist.  To do this start in a golf position like you are addressing the ball.  Hold a 5 pound medicine ball or dumbbell at your chest with your elbows up.  Then twist your body while keeping your feet and head still similar to a back swing.  Do this on both sides.

3.  Spell Your Name.  To do this lie flat on your back with your legs about 6 inches in the air with your feet together and simply write your full name in the air with your feet.
To find these and other workouts check out this article on golf-pros.com.

GolfDigest also shared a great video that shows three simple stretches to help you warm up with your clubs before your round.  Watch the full video here.

1.  Hold your club out in front of you with both hands in a golf stance.  Simply turn your body into a back swing on both sides, similar to the Golf Twist above.

2.  Hold your club above your head with both hands and your feet about shoulder width apart.  Then lower into a squat as far as you can, don't let the club come forward in front of your body.

3.  Hold your club above your head with both hands and simply lean to the side to stretch out your oblique muscles.  Repeat on both sides.

For more golf fitness tips and ways to improve your game with an off course workout program.  Check out Golf Fitness and Training Tips.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Utah: Golf Elevated

Utah is home to some of the most beautiful scenery. It is also home to 5 National Parks (Zions NP, Arches NP, Bryce NP, Capitol Reef NP, and Canyonlands NP), and 43 state parks. There is never a shortage of things to do and see in Utah. This is one of the reasons your next golf vacation should in Utah. The main reason being Utah has beautiful courses you will want to play. I am only highlighting 10 of my favorite courses, but there are so many to choose from you should check them out yourself here.  These ten courses come from all over the state and are in no particular order.

Sand Hollow State Park is located in Hurricane and home to a Champions Course, Links Course, and a par-3 Wee Course. This course beautifully displays the red rock that Southern Utah is famous for. Sand Hollow was recently featured in Golf Week Magazine's Best Courses edition, and has received Utah's Best Public Course for 2 years. 18-hole rates vary from $25 to $125.






This course is also located in Southern Utah in Washington County. St George is the golf capital of Utah and the red rock creates some of the most beautiful courses I have ever seen. I once spent spring break in St George with some friends who were not golfers, we drove past this course everyday and it was painful for me not to be able to play this course while we were there that week. If you ever find yourself in St George you must spend a day on the golf course. 18-hole rates vary from $40 to $115.


Old Mill is located in Salt Lake City along the Wasatch Front. This mountainous course offers a beautiful view of the Salt Lake Valley from the East. I have only played this course once, but I am a sucker for mountainous courses, and this one was beautifully designed.  It was a fun course that challenged my game but was in no way intimidating.  18-hole rates vary from $24 to $34.







This is a course in Monticello that I am dying to play it. This course looks challenging but fun, with beautiful Utah scenery and plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife. 18-hole rates vary from $21 to $27.








This 27-hole championship course is again located in Southern Utah. It features red rock, red sand, and black lava rock. The course is broken down into three 9-hole sections, The Point Nine, The Woodbridge Nine, and The Black Rock Nine. The Woodbridge Nine is one of the only courses in Utah with a island green. 18-hole rates vary from $26 to $56.







Wasatch Mountain State Park in Midway offers two 18 hole courses. There is the Lake Course (the easier of the two) and the Mountain Course. The Mountain Course offers a beautiful view of Heber Valley. Wasatch Mountain State Park was given 4.5 out of 5 stars by Golf Digest in their 'Best Places to Play.' 18-hole rates vary from $28 to $40.







This is another mountainous course located in Springville. It is a short drive up the canyon to this beautiful course. I first played this course in a high school tournament. It has since been one of my favorites because of its challenging set up and the creek that runs along the course that ads to its beauty. 18-hole rates vary from $24 to $30.





This is my home course, I learned to play golf on this difficult traditional links style course. It is located in Eagle Mountain just 15 minutes off of I-15. This course is so much fun to play, but it is also really challenging with over 150 bunkers. It is also home to one of my favorite holes. The par-4 9th hole has a steep uphill slope, but it is still drive-able, as long as you can keep it out of the large deep bunkers that line both sides of the fairway, and clear the large bunker in front of the tee boxes. 18-hole rates vary from $24 to $45.


This course is located in Lehi and is apart of Thanksgiving Point Institute. The course was designed by Johnny Miller and is scheduled to host the 2015 Web.com Tour Utah Championship at the end of July. The course its self is beautiful enough, but you also get a beautiful view of one of Utah's largest and best gardens. The 18-hole golf course completely surrounds the Thanksgiving Point Gardens, giving players a peak into the 55 acres of beauty. 18-hole rates vary from $38 to $87.


The Final Course on my list is located in a small town called Sterling in Sanpete County. The course is part of Palisade State Park and is one of my favorite to play. The par-3 4th hole is one of my favorite to play. The tee-box is located straight across from the green and over a 90 yard cliff, there is a little fairway off to the left for those who want to play it safe. The difficulty of this hole is not making it over the cliff, but keeping it on the green and not flying it over and off the mountain. The past part of this course is being able to walk down to the lake for a BBQ after a beautiful round of golf. 18-hole rates vary from $20 to $25.

Utah is a beautiful place and there are many things to do and see.  If you are from Utah and you have never played some of these courses, put them on your to do lists.  If you have never been to Utah, plan your next vacation here to see some of the beautiful National and State Parks, and make sure you have enough time to spend on a Utah golf course.

Honorable Mentions: Spanish Oaks is Spanish Fork and Green Spring in Washington City.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jordan Spieth - Masters Champion

"This was arguably the greatest day of my life."

Leading up to Masters Week I had picked four players who I thought would win the 2015 Masters.  I am happy to say that all four of my picks made it into the weekend and three of them in the top 5 (Jordan Spieth 1, Phil Mickelson T2, Rory McIlroy 4, and Rickie Fowler T12).  It was such a fun weekend watching Jordan Spieth light up Augusta National.  His performance was phenomenal.  The 21 year old from Texas is currently ranked 1st in the FedEx Cup and 2nd in the Official World Golf Ranking.  He has 3 career wins two of which come from this season.  He won at the Valspar Championship in March, and as you all know The Masters this past weekend.

Review these and other historic Masters moments here.
Jordan has been dreaming of winning The Masters for most of his life.  At 14 years old he was taking lessons from Cameron McCormick.  When he started he told his swing coach his goal was to win The Masters.  Now I can see why second place at his first Masters appearance last year stung so bad.  He made a fantastic come back this year, not only winning but breaking and tying all kinds of records.  Spieth has only played 8 rounds in tournament at Augusta national, all of which are at par or better, 7 are under par, with an average of 69.1 and 23 strokes to par.  This is a talented young player.  After shooting an opening round of 64 on Thursday he never lead by fewer than 3 strokes.  Spieth became the 2nd youngest Masters Champion of all time, joining Tiger Woods in 1997.  He also is the first to win the year after a 2nd place finish since Ben Crenshaw in 1984.  He is the first to win wire-to-wire since Raymond Floyd in 1976, and tied Tiger for all time tournament low of 18 under par.  Spieth is clearly not satisfied with just winning.  He broke the record for lowest 36 and 54 hole lead, as well as the most birdies in tournament posting 28 birdies.  This record was previously held by Phil Mickelson with 25 birdies.  Finally, Jordan was the first player to ever reach 19 under par at any time during the tournament.  

Jordan is obviously a great player, but he is also a great person off the course.  This young player is everything I think a professional golfer should be.  As Phil Mickelson said, "the object of golf is not just to win.  It's to play like a gentleman, and win."  I couldn't agree more with Phil and Jordan has done just that and has been so humble throughout the whole thing.  The morning after his win he tweeted "Well...I'm glad that wasn't a dream."  It is fun to watch great players win, but I love watching people like Phil and Jordan do well and win.  He is a people's champion.  Golf Digest has compared him to Seve Ballesteros and Arnold Palmer.  

Spieth, like many other players support and give to charities.  He has also created one of his own, the Jordan Spieth Charitable Trust.  He started this organization in 2014 to raise awareness of and donate time and money to special needs youth, military families, and junior golf.  Spieth has a 14 year old sister with special needs and she is his biggest fan and his inspiration.  You will want to watch this video where Jordan explains his charity and his goals.  


Spieth is a great player with great character.  He will win many more tournaments and majors to come, and I see him doing a lot of good for the game of golf.  I could not be more excited to see what the future has for this new Masters Champ.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Masters - Into the Weekend

We are just getting into the weekend and history has already been made in the first two days of The Masters.  There is 21 year old Jordan Spieth who is going into the weekend with a five shot lead ahead of Charley Hoffman.  Then there is Dustin Johnson who had quite the impressive eagle streak.  Before I get into the new records that were set I would like to talk about the leaderboard.  

The number to make it into the weekend was 2.  There are 55 players who made the cut and will continue playing at Augusta.  Phil went low in the second round with 5 birdies, 4 of which on the back nine, to make it to sixth place, 8 shots behind leader Jordan Spieth.  When Rory McIlroy was through 14 he was 2 shots over par for the tournament and close to following below the cut line.  He saved his weekend by making birdie on 15, 17, and 18.  He is going into the weekend 2 under for the tournament, 12 shots behind Spieth.  He is going to have to make a big move in the next two days to finish his career grand slam.  Last years champ Bubba Watson, who was one of my picks to win is also going to have to make a big move.  He is currently tied for 19th at 2 under par along side Rory McIlroy.  Another one of my picks, Rickie Fowler, who placed in the top five of every major last season made the cut, but is currently 1 over the par for the tournament.  Check out where your picks fell and the rest of the leaderboard here.

See the full story on Spieth here.
Now to the history that has been made in the past two days.  Jordan Spieth went low fast in the first round on Thursday posting a 64.  He continued his hot streak on Friday going 6 under posting a 66.  That sets him at a total of 130 through 36 holes, that is the lowest 36 hole score in Masters history.  



Photo Cred: Sports Center

Dustin Johnson also set a new record during Friday's round.  He posted 3 eagles on par-5 holes 2, 8, and 15.  That is the most eagles ever made in a single round at The Masters ever.

Check out the other stories going on this week at The Masters here on pgatour.com.   

Thursday, April 9, 2015

DIY Golf

I was feeling crafty yesterday and it was cold out so I couldn't go golfing even with classes being canceled.  Instead I spent the day making this cute golf themed key holder, and I love how it turned out!  I have been wanting to make one for a while now, and I am so glad I finally did.


Buy the original here on Etsy for $40.
I got my inspiration for this key holder from the jamesandme Etsy shop.  I loved the idea of making a key holder out of tees and a golf ball.  However, I wanted to make one myself that had my favorite golf quote on it.  
"Of all the hazards, fear is the worst."
-Sam Snead
I have put this quote on my blog before, in an earlier post.  Sam Snead was a great player, he was the first to be awarded a Green Jacket in 1949.  I love this for two reasons.  First it is absolutely correct.  On the course you have to be confident in your shot and in your swing.  It is always when I am afraid of missing a putt, chipping over the green, or driving out of bounds or into the lake, that I duff the ball or pull the put.  Golf is a mental game and fear will hinder your ability to focus.  Secondly, this applies not only to golf, but to life.  Being fearful will keep you from being successful and reaching your full potential.  This is why I wanted this quote to be hanging next to my door.  I want to look at it everyday and be reminded that my fear, or staying in my comfort zone will not get me what I want out of life.  This quote also reminds me a lot of another quote from the self-help book Who Moved My Cheese, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

If you would like to make one of these yourself, maybe with your own favorite quote or picture on it, here is my step-by-step instructions.  

This was a pretty inexpensive project, I found the board at Wal-Mart for only $4.  The paint was .50 cents each, the super glue was $3, sandpaper was $2, and the stencil was $6.  I had the rest of the everything else laying around my house.  Altogether it cost me less than $20.  
I started of by sanding the board really good, especially the edges to smooth them down.  I made marks where I wanted the holes for my tees to go with a pencil, although I wish I would have erased them before I started painting.  I drew a little too dark and had to use extra layers of paint to cover them up.  I didn't have access to a drill to make the holes so I drove a screw into the wood and it ended up being the perfect size.  

I didn't want any brown on my key-holder so I painted the front side green and the edges white.  I also used white tees and cut them down so only an inch or so came out of the board.  I found it worked best to fill each of the holes with super glue and put a small amount on the bottom and edges of the tee.  I held them in place for 30-seconds while I let the super glue dry.
 I found these great stencils at Joann's craft store that had an adhesive back so they wouldn't move while I was painting.  They were easy to peel off, didn't smear the paint and they are reusable.  I had tried to use small non-adhesive stencils to put Sam Snead's name at the bottom, but they smeared the paint every time.  I then tried a paint pen to write his name in, but it was difficult to write with the tees already in place.  If I do this again, I will put the tees in after everything is written on.

 Here is a different angle of the final product.  The glue holds really well, but I have not tested it on anything heavier than a set of keys.  I used Velcro Command strips to hang the key holder, which are great because they don't make any damage to my wall and I didn't have to try and drive another screw in the back of the board.


I would love to hear what you think, or see any golf crafts you have done.  Share them on any of my social media pages, you can find links to them along the right side of this page.  And remember to stay confident on the course and in life, you will be more successful, and maybe even knock a few strokes off your game.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bubba Watson

"Golf is about charity ... it's about giving back ... if I'm gonna grow as a person, grow as a human being, I wanna give back."
        -Bubba Watson Uninterrupted 

Bubba Watson.  He is currently ranked #3 in the Official World Golf Rankings, 5th in the FedEx Cup, and is a two-time Masters Champion.  He turned pro in 2002 and has 7 career wins on the PGA Tour.  He is a self made golfer, he has never had a lesson just natural talent to out drive the best.  Not only is he an amazing player but he is a devoted Christian, loving father and husband, a member of the boy band Golf Boys, and a man that wears his emotions on his sleeve.
Stats and Profile here

Bubba is back at Augusta National this week as the defending champion and is looking for his third Green Jacket.  He won his first Masters Tournament in 2012, gave the Jacket to Adam Scott in 2013 and won his second title last year in 2014.  He has confidence that he can do it again too, and rightfully so, as #3 in the world and placing in the top 25 of all 5 events he has played this season.  After his 2014 Masters win he told ESPN that he believes he will always be able to come back and win at Augusta, injuries permitting of course, but he believes he will always be able to come back and be confident like Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples.

What makes Bubba so confident?  I don't think it is his distance, I believe it is his ability to see the shot he needs to make, and then actually make it get out of trouble.  Bubba knows how to save par.  His caddie Ted Scott reported Bubba's most memorable Masters shots, all of which were recovery shots he made to save par.  Number four on the list was from the 2012 Masters, it was the 2nd round on the par-4 7th hole.  He was in the trees and had a 10 foot gap about 50 yards ahead he needed to make it through to get on the green.  Scott advised him against it, but Bubba was confident, and there is no arguing with Bubba when he is confident, Scott says "it's like telling Picasso he can't paint a painting."  Based on this list, don't be worried for Bubba if you see him in the trees and pine needle this weekend at Augusta, he knows how to get out and you can bet, if he is feeling confident he will save par.

Golf is obviously a large part of Bubba's life, but the most important thing in his life is his family.  He has demonstrated that this season.  He has only played in 5 events so far because he knows it is more important for him to bond with his newly adopted daughter Dakota.


"It's a blessing for Angie and me that these beautiful kids are now ours
and we get to raise them.  Winning golf tournaments is great, and I hope I can 
keep doing it, but I know that the most important thing I'm going to do in 
this lifetime is be a dad to Caleb and Dakota."

 He is a family man for sure, he and his wife Angie adopted their first child, Caleb, in 2012 just a week before The Masters.  In an interview with golf.com Bubba said the happiest moment of his career was in 2013 when Caleb made his first appearance at the Masters Par-3 Tournament.
As I said earlier, Bubba is an emotional man and he wears all his emotions on his sleeve, we saw this when he first won The Masters in 2012, and many times since.  This has got him into some trouble though, just as his joyful emotions show easily so do his negative emotions.  There was a survey done recently that has brought a lot of heat on Bubba, but he is still one of my favorite players.  I don't love everything he has done on the course, but the good that he has done, the good that he is, outweighs all the negative emotions he has shown.  And now that he is a father of two, he is learning to control those negative emotions.  His wife Angie told golf.com that he has really matured and relaxed since they adopted Caleb in 2012 and is "able to let things go a little easier."  Bubba said that knowing his son is watching and his daughter will be, has helped him to bite his tongue and be softer on the course.

Earlier this week I predicted Fowler, Spieth, or Mickelson to win the Green Jacket this year.  I need to add Bubba to that list, and enjoy a burrito in his honor!  It would be amazing to watch him win back-to-back for his third Green Jacket.

Happy Masters Week!  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Masters - A Tradition Unlike Any Other

"If The Masters offered no money at all, I would be here trying just as hard."
-Ben Hogan

The Masters.  It is a tradition unlike any other.  It is the first major of the season, and played on one of the most respected courses in the game, Augusta National.  It is a dream of every golfer to play at Augusta.  However you do have to be a member to play and members are by invitation only.  Unfortunately, most of us will not have the chance to golf at Augusta and will have to settle for the Google Maps Augusta Pac-Man game instead.  As fun as Augusta Pac-Man may be, it is nothing compared to the honor it would be to golf at Augusta.  There is hope though!  Golf Digest has shared several ways how you can play Augusta without membership.  These include volunteering at The Masters, winning the media lottery, writing a book about Augusta or The Masters (do you think a blog would count?), working at Augusta, and several others.  What Golf Digest doesn't include is connections.  If you have any sort of connection to an Augusta National member, and you can work those connections, you can play by being invited by a member.  All these are legitimate ways to get onto the course, but have about the same probability of actually happening as being invited to be a member, but a golfer can dream!  So, while you dream get to know Augusta by a virtual tour of each hole, just in case your dreams come true, or just so you are fully prepared for The Masters this weekend!

The Masters is a tournament with a rich history.  The Masters started in 1934 and was originally called the Augusta National Invitational, five years later in 1939 it became The Masters.  Horton Smith won the first Masters in 1934 by one stroke, however he did not receive a Green Jacket.  That tradition started with Sam Snead with his win in 1949.  Horton Smith was not only the first to win a Masters, he was also the first two-time champion when he won only two years later in 1936.   The 1956 Masters was the first two be shown on television covered by CBS.  They provided coverage on holes 15 through 18 of the 3rd and 4th rounds.  To find out more history check out this timeline provided by augusta.com

Find this Info-graphic here
Find this info-graphic here














































































The Masters is not only rich with history, but also with tradition from the Green Jacket, to the par 3 tourney and the champions dinner.  One of my favorite Masters traditions is the ceremonial first tee shot.  I love watching these great players that helped to make the game and the tournament what it is today.  I love that they are still involved with the game, and I love the history and the legacy that each one of them keeps alive at The Masters.  Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus open the first round by each hitting a drive off the first tee, and this year will be no different.  Palmer is recovering from a dislocated shoulder but that is not going to stop him from keeping this tradition alive.  

"I'm looking forward to being out on that tee even if I fan it."
- The King Arnold Palmer

This years Masters is guaranteed to be as good as any other.  There is a very talented field, and a lot of players determined to get that Green Jacket.  Before the tournament starts Thursday be sure to look at the overlook that includes this weeks stories provided by The PGA Tour.  People have been making predictions on who will win this year's Masters since Adam Scott gave the Green Jacket back to Bubba Watson last year.  As it has gotten closer there are several players in particular that really want that Green Jacket.  
Rory McIlroy Under the Microscope
First we have Rory McIlroy.  He needs this Masters to finish his first Career Grand Slam.  He won the U.S. Open in 2011, The PGA Championship in 2012, and the Open Championship in 2014.  Golf Digest has came up with what they call a bulletproof plan for Rory to win his first Masters.  First he really needs to take advantage of the par 5's as well as numbers 13-18 to go low.  He needs to be able to control his irons and stay away from 3-puts.


Second, there is Ricky Fowler.  He placed in the top 5 of all four majors last season, but didn't win any tournaments.  As I talked about in my last post he has been working with a new swing coach, Butch Harmon, and his game had drastically improved.  Fowler is one of my top picks heading into Masters week.  

Tiger Woods is also making a come back this week after some time off to recover from back pain.  He announced last week that he would be coming back for The Masters.  It will be interesting to see how Tiger does this week.  He has not been on top of his game lately, but during his time off he has also been working with Butch Harmon to improve his game.  Will Tiger make it into the weekend at The Masters, or will he succumb to his injuries again?

So who should you be sure to watch this weekend?  Golf Digest has narrowed it down to 12 players, of these 12 they are certain one will be the winner.  They have chosen the 2012 and 2014 winner Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Adam Scott who was the first Australian to win a Masters in 2013, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed who made his frist ace this weekend at the Shell Houston Open, Matt Kuchar, Hideki Matsuyama, and Henrick Stenson.  They have also picked Brandt Snedeker, Angel Cabrera, and Phil Mickelson as alternates. 

Golf fans have a slightly different list.  PGA.com asked fans who their favorite to win this years Masters is.  Their top 5 responses are Fred Couples, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, and Rory McIlroy.   

golf blog out of the UK has put together a list of players that might be a little of a long shot, but still have a pretty good chance of getting the Green Jacket this year.  They include Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Webb Simpson, and Padraig Harrington. 

As for me, I have three picks.  I would really like to see a win out of Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler or Jordan Spieth.  I am always rooting for Phil, and early this weekend he showed us that his short game is as good as ever at the Shell Houston Open.  I am just hoping that he can keep it together into the weekend.  As I have said before, Rickie's Major game last year was as good as you can get without winning.  I fully believe that Fowler has what it takes to get his Green Jacket, if not this year, very soon.  Finally Spieth, he has played very well in the past, and he has good momentum going into this major week.  He tied for second this weekend at the Shell Houston Open after just falling short in a playoff with J.B. Holmes and Johnson Wagner.

Whoever it is that will be taking home the Green Jacket on Sunday, it most likely be someone that listens to Jack Nicklaus' advice.  He advises players to stay in the middle of the green then look for your birdie putt.

Who are your picks to win The Masters?  Let me know in the comments!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why Golf

A few weeks ago Golf Digest asked, "What do Rickie Fowler, Ryan Allen Sheckler (pro skateboarder), Jeremy McGrath (Supercross legend), and Evan Geiselman (pro surfer) have in common?" I would boldly like to add my name to that list.  Kelsie Rutledge (student/blogger).  The answer remains the same.  We all love to golf, and we want to share our passion.  The difference is, their voice is a lot louder, so I am joining with them to help spread this passion.  But first, lets talk a little about my favorite player!

Check out full bio and stats here.
Rickie Fowler.  He has been one of my favorites since I started playing and getting into the game, and he is an amazing player.  He is currently ranked 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking, and 75th in the FedEx Cup.  He is no stranger to extreme sports either, having rode dirt bikes all of his life.  In June of 2011 Fowler added musician to his resume with the release of "Oh Oh Oh" as apart of the golf boy band "Golf Boys" with fellow PGA players Ben Crane, Bubba Watson, and Hunter Mahan.  All singing and dancing aside however, Fowler's game continues to improve.  He has been working with Butch Harmon to improve his swing, and he has made one fundamental change that has really helped his game.  Butch's son Cluade explains this change and shows a side by side comparison of how is swing has improved.  After watching it, there is no wonder why he finished in the top 5 of all four majors in 2014.  With The Masters coming up, you can bet I will be cheering for Rickie to get that green jacket.

Fowler's newest adventure is this new series, Why Golf.  As stated at the beginning of this post, the show features Fowler and 3 extreme sports professionals, all with a great golf game.  Hosted by Kelley James, Why Golf helps these athletes share their passion for the game, and the first episode is up today.  You can watch it free on golfdigest.com.  This short episode perfectly describes my love for the game as they play number 16 at TPC Scottsdale, its challenging, it teaches patience, the handicap system allows you to play fairly with any skill level, and it takes a lot of mental power and focus.  I have been so excited about this new series and I can't wait for the next episodes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Golf Tips

"Happiness is a long walk with a putter." 
- Greg Norman

It doesn't matter how good a person is at golf, there is always room for improvement.  Golf is a never ending game of improvement.  It seems like as soon as you fix one problem, another develops.  I think this is the reason the game can be so addicting.  To assist you in this never ending improvement I have complied a short list of golf tips from my own personal experience.  Some of these tips may seem pretty simple, but in my experience going back to the fundamentals always improves my game.  We often think it will be a tough fix, but it could be as simple as ball placement, or posture.  

1.  Ball placement.  Where you place the ball in your stance can have a major effect on the outcome of your swing.  When I first started playing golf I always placed the ball in the center of my stance regardless of which club I was hitting, with the exception of my woods. I found this picture to the right to be extremely helpful.  Lofted clubs, like your 8 and 9 iron and wedges should be close to center.  When hitting your 5-7 irons they should be placed a little further forward in your stance, your 3-4 irons and fairway woods even further forward, and your driver almost off the top of your front toe.

2.   Grip.  There are two things you should always remember when you grip the club.  First place the club in your fingers, not your palms.  I have a tendency to grip with my right palm, this makes it very difficult to get any motion in my wrists and always results in my ball going astray.  Secondly, don't grip too tight, or too loose.  To feel the right amount of grip pressure hold your club out in front of you at a 45 degree angle.  If you hold the club straight up your grip is too loose, if you hold the club straight in front of your it is too tight.  The wrong grip strength also limits wrist motion.  This is also something I struggle with, and my shots are always much straighter with the correct grip strength

3.  Use a full swing.  There are also two parts to this.  On your back swing always turn your body, you get a lot more power out of a short swing with your body coiled up, than a long swing without any power behind it.  Then on the other hand, always finish your swing.  A lot of golfers tend to stop swinging once they hit the ball, but if you finish your swing with your club over your shoulder and you will see a much straighter shot.  Also keep your head down and eyes on the ball, this will help you to finish your swing if you don't look up too quickly.

4.  Be Confident.  Have confidence in your game and in your ability to hit a good shot.  Fear will keep your from reaching your potential and from making those great shots.  When you have a bad shot, or even a bad hole, you just need to forget about it and focus on the next shot.  Always remember that a 4 is better than a 5, and a 8 is better than a 9.











This is an amazing game, you will have good and bad rounds, but always come back.  Continue to improve and have fun!  I have learned a lot on the golf course, but this quote by Sam Snead is something I take with me into all that I do, not just golf.  Fear will keep you back, so be confident in all that you do, and you will be successful.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Golf Is...

We have all heard it, and it hurts my soul every time.  "Golf is boring."  Those three words are words every golfer hates to hear, specifically after we first tell someone that we play, and yes even watch golf.

I will admit, before I started playing in high school, I didn't understand how someone could sit and watch a golf tournament.  Then I played, and I felt the strange mix of emotions one can have in a single round of golf and I was hooked.  I started watching the PGA Tournaments and I could see the same emotions I felt in the pros.  That is what is so great about golf, it is unbelievably humbling, and it doesn't matter how good you are, you can always improve.  

"Golf is boring."  Those words make me feel defenseless, so I want to give to you a variety of back up reasons as to why golf is in fact a very emotional, fun, and exciting game.

To start off, there was this emotional and exciting win for Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters.  It was on the 10th hole of Augusta National, which was also the 2nd playoff hole, where Bubba hit a drive right into the trees, but had an amazing recovery shot and won his first Green Jacket.    
Since the 2012 Masters, we have had winner Adam Scott, who was the first Australian player to win a Masters Tournament in 2013.  Then again in 2014 Bubba wins another Green Jacket, this time with his wife Angie and son Caleb there to watch.

Check out Oh Oh Oh and Golf Boys 2.Oh.
If you ever have someone say that players are too uptight or too serious send them to Ben Crane's YouTube Channel.   This is a professional full of personality, and he even put together a golf boy band consisting of himself, Hunter Mahan, Master's Champ Bubba Watson, and Rickie Fowler.  They have released two hit singles along with fantastic music videos, and of course all profits made from their music is donated straight to charity. 



Not only is there tears from champs, amazing shots during playoff holes, and great music, there is also the occasional crazy fan, like this guy who just wanted to add some ambiance to Webb Simpsons 2012 US Open speech.
There are also all the fans at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Golf is not always the quiet game people assume it is.  


Then there are trick shots.  These can be appreciated by all, not just those who love the game.  We all know Phil Mickelson is an expert short game player, but he is also an expert at trick shots.  Then there are the amateurs and casual players that excel in trick shots.  Take the Bryan Bros for example.  Their videos are proof that you can have fun with golf, like this one that showcases their amazing trick shots!




Last, but not least is the Ryder Cup.  One of the very few team tournaments on the Tour.  A tournament that is fought between the United States and Europe.  This is one of the most exciting tournaments of golf, and it is only played every 2 years.  Europe has kept the Cup for the past three tournaments, but the US is working hard to regain the Cup next year at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.

After all this, and much more, sometimes we just have to bury the hurt that comes with those three words and accept that everyone has different interests and opinions, and that makes this world a pretty great place.

I would love to hear what makes golf exciting for you!  Tell me in the comments below, or tweet me @chippingingolf

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Golf is Hard

This game that we all love, it is hard.  I didn't realize that myself until I started playing.  My dad always tells me, "it just shouldn't be that hard, the ball doesn't move, swinging is pretty natural, and there is just no reason to miss the ball altogether," unless of course you are just so excited to see the ball fly beautifully high in the air and you look up just a second too early expecting to see this great shot, when in reality you just knocked the ball off the tee.  We have all been there, another thing my dad tells me, "no matter what you do in golf, its no record, someone has hit a worse shot."  In fact we often find ourselves feeling like this little boy who missed a put that should have just been a gimme.

Watch the full Video here.
Golf is hard and it happens to everyone, even the pros.  We learned this again last weekend at The Honda Classic at PGA National.  This is a tough course to play, but only 16 players ended under par for the week.  There were also a lot of great players who didn't even make the cut (the number was 4) into the weekend, most surprisingly, Rory Mcilroy, who hasn't missed a cut in the United States since the 2012 U.S. Open.  Amazingly, since starting his PGA Tour Career in 2009, he has only missed 11 cuts.  However, Padraig Harrington had a great week shooting a 67-66-71-70, and winning the Tournament in a playoff against Daniel Berger.  If you missed the tournament check out the leaderboard to see where your favorite players finished.  

One thing that golf doesn't need to make it any harder, is bad weather. Playing in high school we played through everything, wind, rain, snow, hail, even a little lightening. This past weekend at The Honda Classic we saw, as Golf Digest puts it, "Mother Nature hates golf." Saturdays round got delayed due to heavy rain and winds of 60 mph. The wind was so bad it knocked over the scoreboard into the lake at number 18.  


Before the weather went sour, we still saw some hard shots.  Thursday seemed to be particularly difficult.  During the first round, Tony Finau had a bad lie next to a bush.  He tried to chip it back onto the fairway but overshot and ended up wet.  That same day Sergio Garcia hit a shot into the water, but we all know Garcia can be creative, so he put on his rain suit, stood on the pine needle and hit his fully submerged ball right onto the fairway and saved par.



I can't say it enough, golf is hard, but pros like Garcia, these guys are good.  They make amazing shots the rest of us wouldn't even dare try, let alone make par off of.  They hit balls out of trees, out of water, out of deep bunkers without actually getting in, and then they go on to make par.



 However when us amateurs give these same shots a try, they usually end in an epic fail.  For example this guy who tried to remake a bunker shot that Tiger made in the 2012 British Open.  I do give him props for trying, that is a tough shot any way you take it. Watch the video on loop here.  




Remember: when you are out there on the links, everyone has bad days, and sometimes you just have to play for the love of the game, and if you are going to try a shot straight from The Tour, please film it so we can enjoy the results!