“I was hired to elevate this tour…”

Rick George (“I’m Rick George, b**ch!”) and the board of the Champions Tour bullheadedly move forward with their plans to ban carts on the Tour next year.

Champions TourSo says Rick George, president of the Champions Tour. “… to look at everything critically. We looked at [changing] the minimum age. We looked at carts. How do we make this product better?”

When you think Champions Tour, do you still mentally substitute “Seniors Tour”? Do you think of players who’ve started to decline in their physical abilities, but who still both love to compete and are fun to watch as athletes and personalities?

Do you think to yourself, “Those old bums should be walking, not loafing about in their golf carts!”

Evidently, the Champions Tour board seems to think that’s exactly what we think, and they’re out to change our minds.

In what could best be called a counter-intuitive decision, Champions Tour president Rick George is moving forward with the decision to ban golf carts during Champions Tour events. He’s nice enough to ‘accomodate’ golfers like Casey Martin who must ride in a cart due to physical disability.

The Stimpmeter

All about the stimpmeter!

Edward S. Stimpson, the 1935 Massachusetts Amateur champion, devised a device to measure the speed of a golf green, over sixty years ago. The result of his efforts was the Stimpmeter.

The Stimpmeter was first used at the U.S. Open in 1977. Once a ball travels down the contraption, it will hit a speed of about 6.00 ft/s. The distance the ball travels is called “the stimp speed”. A stimp speed of 11½ means the ball has rolled 11½ feet. An average speed on your local muni hovers around 6½, while the fastest reading recorded was a 14 at the 1981 Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.

How fast is 14? Take your Titleist to the nearest sidewalk and putt a few.

Harrington to Play PGA Tour in 2005

Padraig Harrington plans to play the 2005 PGA Tour.

padraig_harrington.jpgEarning enough money in 2004 to put him in the top-30 on the PGA Tour money list, Padraig Harrington will finally make it official. He plans to join the Tour next year and intends to play 16 to 18 tournaments in a bid to earn his first PGA Tour victory.

“I’ve won plenty of events, but there’s still that tag when I come here that I haven’t won here,” he said. “The only way to get rid of it is to win here.”

Harrington had initially planned on joining the PGA Tour in 2004, but had to hold off after the birth of his son, Patrick. He says that the time is now right. However, he will keep his residence in Dublin, Ireland knowing there are plenty of flights available to get him back and forth.

In addition to the PGA Tour, Harrington also plans to remain on the European tour. This will bring his total tournaments during the year to around 30 or so.

Any Wedge from the Sand

The long bunker shot is one of the toughest in golf, and attempting it with a sand wedge will likely leave you in a dreary position.

Lots of times, people get hung up in playing the sand wedge from the sand. If you’re bunkered 30 yards from the pin with a lot of green to work with, take your 9I or even an 8I, don’t worry about the club digging (it will), and make a good swing.

The long bunker shot is one of the toughest in golf, and attempting it with a sand wedge will likely leave you in a dreary position. Take a longer club, a shorter swing, accelerate through the sand, don’t worry about the follow through too much, and play quite a bit of roll.

Who Needs Vijay for Dominance, Anyway?

Annika Sorenstam continues her LPGA dominance with another nine-stroke victory at this weekend’s Mizuno Classic.

Annika Sorenstam RelaxingWith all the talk about Vijay Singh’s historic season and his quest to win his tenth tour victory of 2004, we seem to have forgotten about the other dominant player in golfdom:

Annika Sorenstam.

At the Mizuno Classic this weekend, Annika picked up her seventh LPGA win of the year, and her fourth consecutive Mizuno Classic title. The win was also her 55th career win, which ties her for fifth on the all-time LPGA victories list, and puts the icing on her seventh Player of the Year award.

Beyond the pure victories, though, Annika is dominating the event as well; this year’s nine stroke victory marks her second consecutive nine stroke win at the Mizuno Classic. As if that weren’t enough, there’s the style in which she wins: twenty-two under par. Her final-round 65 was partnered with a seemingly mediocre 66 and an amazing first-round 63, giving her a four-stroke lead after the first round from which she never looked back.

Lastly, her 22-under par was just two strokes shy of the tour-record for a 54-hole event – two guesses who set that record in 2003.

I Take It All Back…

It’d be so much easier to appreciate his season as a historic achievement if he weren’t such a prick.

Vijay Singh actually showing some emotionAll those nice things I wrote about Vijay Singh not more than three days ago? I take them all back.

After posting a less-than-stellar score of two-over par through Saturday at the Tour Championship, Vijay Singh had this to say when asked about his performance:

“You’ve got to be in contention to be 100 percent into it,” he said, pausing outside the historic clubhouse. “I’m just not too into it.”

Last I checked, the people who keep Vijay’s “salary” paid – the sponsors and the fans who attend these events he’s so lucky to play – spend so much money on tickets to see their favorite players put 100 percent of their game on the line every round.

Since when do you have to be in contention to put in 100 percent?

“It just didn’t happen for me,” he said. “I couldn’t get any momentum. Anytime I tried to get something going, I went backward.”

Poor baby. Most of the time, when something doesn’t go right for me the first time, I just give up too, Vijay. I think that’s exactly the attitude I want my kids emulating, too.

Final Round 64 Vaults Goosen over Tiger

South Africa’s Retief Goosen shoots a final round 64 to vault over a stumbling Tiger Woods to win the 2004 Tour Championship at storied East Lake Golf Club.

Retief Goosen Victorious at East LakeIt wasn’t exactly the script the sports world was looking for – Retief Goosen squashing the hopes of an end to Tiger’s “slump” – but it sure was in keeping with the rest of the year.

After a second and third round storm by Tiger Woods – fresh off his honeymoon with Swedish hottie and new wife Elin – Woods shot a final round 72 to finish four strokes behind South Africa’s Retief Goosen. Goosen’s final round 64 was partnered with his opening round 70, second round 66 and third round 69 to leave him at eleven-under for the tournament.

Jay Haas, who started the day tied with Woods for the lead, finished with a final round 75 and four-under for the tournament, tied for seventh place with Scott Verplank. Last year’s champion, Chad Campbell, joined Davis Love III on the sidelines after he withdrew from the tournament after posting back-to-back 73’s.

67 Million to 1 Odds

A 22-handicapper hits two holes-in-one during the same round.

Do you think a hole-in-one would make a bad round great? How about two? At the Liberty Lake Golf Course in Spokane, WA, Chris Varallo hit a 7-iron on the 143 yard third hole and one-hopped it into the hole for the first hole in one. Eight holes later, took 8-iron 140 yards to again one-hop it for the second hole-in-one of the round.

“The first one was pretty amazing,” said Varallo, 31. “But after the second, everyone was in utter disbelief. Other people on the course heard the screaming and were coming over to see what had happened.”

“He did fall apart a little more than usual after that second one,” said Dave Knutson, a member of his foursome who works with Varallo. “But he’s a hack. Even leading up to it, his scorecard read something like 8-7-1-6-7-9 … I mean, I don’t know how it could have happened. Both of them were good-looking shots. In fact, they were almost identical — same trajectory with a little fade. And both of them were one hop and plunk!”

Varallo, an attorney with a 22 handicap, finished his round at 31 strokes over par for a 101.

Between Clubs? Land it on the Green.

When you’re faced with an in-between shot, choose the club that lands the ball on the green.

When you’re between your 7I and your 8I, what kind of shot do you play? A soft 7? Punch an 8? Here’s some practical advice: take the club that will land the ball on the green. If the pin is in the back, take the 8I. If the pin is in the front, take the 7I. Your “normal shot” will be on the green, leaving you with a putt at a birdie.