Posts by smoskal:

    From Carnac to Grand ‘Ol Jack

    September 14th, 2011
    Jack Nicklaus

    Jack Nicklaus farewell at the old course at St. Andrews

    Jack Nicklaus has been (and most likely will always be, with everything that has happened to you-know-who) considered the greatest golfer of all time.

    The world of golf needs to start getting behind the “Greatest of All Time” in his efforts to build the game. We must start listening to his ideas. Are 12-hole courses the way of the future? Are bigger holes the solution? Noone really knows, but how often has Carnac been wrong in the past!  If he isn’t spot on with his ideas, we need to come up with some and we should probably have him involved in any think tank that we organize.
    Here are my thoughts:

    Responding to the 3 main reasons that people don’t pick up the game or drop out:

    1) too expensive
    2) too much time
    3) too difficult

    Too expensive
    We cannont deny that golf is an expensive game to play. From green fees, equipment, lessons, travel and all that involves golf, it is an expensive game. Does it have to be as expensive as it is? NO. There are ways that we can make golf cheaper.

    I think what influences the cost the most is the styke of courses that have been built in the past 15 years. It is time that we move away from the trend of “championship” courses and start building course that have a low initial investment and can be alot cheaper to maintain. One thing that has hurt the game the most is the success of the PGA Tour. Golf has been around alot longer than the PGA Tour and yet every new golfer is programmed to believe that the PGA represents the essence of the game.

    In fact, nothing is farther from the truth!

    The PGA Tour (and other international tours) makes up a very small fraction of golf. The very origins of the game can be traced to the most common of all trades: shepherds. (Don’t get spiritual on me now!) The fact that golf offers something to everyone from kings to shepherds is what makes it unique. Unfortunately in today’s corporate driven golf industry, the shepherds can no longer enjoy the game that they created!

    Solution: we need to make courses that take little initial investment (no more watering the rough!) and designed in such way to cut down on yearly maintenance. Of course, this would mean no housing development around every hole. I would eliminate cart paths. Cart paths cost a fortune. I would not run irrigation through the fairways. Does anyone remember grass that turns brown in the summer and green again in the fall? Anyone remember the “Duel in the Sun”? We had better get used to it anyway. Water will become one of our most valuable natural resources and we won’t have the right to waste it on golf.

    Courses like this will actually make golf more fun and interesting. Most courses that we play these days play exactly the same year-round. BORING! Good golfers know how to play all the shots in all conditions.

    Too much time
    Solution: The time problem can be solved in two words: Nine holes. It is time that the USGA and the PGA place an emphasis on 9-hole rounds. This has been a subject for many years now and noone seems to move on it. Many people have 2-1/2 hours to spare. Fewer and fewer people have 5-6 hours to spare. Of course, the championship-style courses contribute greatly to the 5-6 hour rounds that most of us experience on a regular basis.

    Too difficult
    Solution: Golf is difficult. Unfortunately there is no way getting around that. However, we can make an effort, again by the courses that we build, to make it as “little difficult” as possible.  220-yd forced carries over knee high grass or any other unnecessary hazard should be the first to go. I remember Hogan saying that rough is the first thing that keeps people from getting better at golf. He attributed his driving ability to playing in Texas with wind and no rough. Free the person from fear and he can learn the game more easily.

    We could also encourage rules for beginners that include picking up after a certain number of shots and by encouraging mentor programs where experienced golfers volunteer to play with new golfers to show them the ropes. This of course would add to the enjoyment of all by allowing people to communicate with eachother.

    Now these ideas are not exactly what Jack did this past Labor Day weekend. But my ideas entail the creation of new golf courses. Jack experimented with some great ideas to deal with the problem using existing courses. 12 holes is a great idea. That is more than enough golf for someone just getting started.  Most beginners that I take to the course can barely last the 9 holes that I suggest.

    In any case, now is the time to find the answers. I personally trust Carnac, as he knows the answers without even knowing the questions!

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    Kelly Kraft Teaches Valuable Golf Lessons to Parents and Juniors

    August 31st, 2011

    Kelly Kraft preparing a putt.

    “Not a bad week for an unheralded player almost nobody wanted coming out of high school in Denton, Texas.”

    That’s a quote from the Golf Channel article about Kelly Kraft winning the US Amateur over the weekend. I think that there is much more said here than one may first notice and there are several key lessons to be learned:

    Lesson 1- never give up.
    Golf is a game that is learned over time. You have to be patient when playing golf– not only during a single round or during a tournament but also throughout the entire learning process. Golfers develop at different rates. Arnold Palmer didn’t turn pro until after his US Amateur title at the age of 25.

    Lesson 2- the key to success is to relax.
    This is one of the fundamentals of peak performance. I teach my students what my “teacher” always told me: when you get completely relaxed, relax a little more. Of course, this is often easier said than done. But Kelly is an example of someone learning how to do this. Relaxing is something that can be learned. It goes hand in hand with being patient. If your child is wanting to play competitive golf, take him/her to see someone that can teach him/her to relax. No need for sports psychologists. Just learn to relax.

    Lesson 3- The “raising a Tiger” model that has become popular really does not work.
    This last lesson is perhaps the most important. This lesson is for junior golfers and especially THE PARENTS of junior golfers: champions are not MADE, they are nurtured. Juniors are being pressured at younger and younger ages to be elite athletes. Kids as young as 12 and 13 years old are feeling the stress to compete at tournaments to get “nationally ranked.” At a crucial age when they should be learning to have fun, learning the fundamentals a solid swing and game and simply developing a love for the game, they are being pressured to perform, something that is actually delaying their growth.

    If you are a parent and you want your child to play golf through college and after college, look for programs where he/she can develop and grow. These programs are not always the top-ranked teams in the country. Each junior needs a unique environment. Find a school where the environment is focused on learning, both in the classroom and on the course. Also remember that most golfers’ games do not mature until the late 20′s or early 30′s. It is not realistic to expect a child of 14-15 years of age to be able to withstand the pressures that make grown men and women falter.

    Simply because you are not “highly recruited” and a “Top-Ranked Junior” doesn’t mean that you have no chance. Just look at how Kelly Kraft has developed his game and is now the US Amateur Champion. The lessons he has learned will help him on and off the course.

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