How Good is too Good?

Is the new standard of well manicured golf courses in America killing American golf?

12th Hole Augusta NationalIt all began quite innocently in 1956 with the televising of The Masters tournament held at Augusta National. Just one look at the pristine fairways and perfectly manicured rough and Americans across the country demanded the same attention to detail from their local municipals. This day marked the end of American dominance in the sport of golf. Recent history proves how dead American golf is. Look at the World Golf Rankings, 13 of the top 25 come from countries other than the United States. The European teams have held The Ryder Cup six of the past nine years. College golf teams are recruiting players from all over the world because of their abilities. Why the shift in power? It’s not due to a lack of effort: go to any course and you’ll see tons of youngsters trying to emulate Tiger woods. If fingers should point, then blame should lie squarely on American golf courses.

Woods Won’t Dominate Again, Says Els

Ernie Els says that Tiger won’t dominate as he did before. Why? Equipment, confidence, and fitness.

Tiger WoodsErnie Els, quoted in The Scotsman Evening News as saying Tiger Woods, who won eight majors between 1997 and 2002, will not be able to dominate as he did before.

Everybody has become better players and technology has brought everybody closer together. He’s had a very good start (to the year), but I can’t see him being dominant again. The guys out there are a lot more confident and they’ve stepped up their games. No one is hitting it 30 or 40 yards past everybody else.

Els added that “at the moment, he is playing better, and more confident. But other guys will be right there.” Other guys weren’t there when Woods overcame the flu to win at the Buick Invitational, and only two players bested Tiger in his only other event of the season, the Mercedes Championship.

Els also said that “technology has changed the game – 12 or 15 years ago, before titanium drivers and new golf balls, it was a different game.” Some quick math reveals that neither 2002 nor 1997 were even 12 years ago, but that’s beside the point, we suppose.

Els could simply be expressing confidence in his own game, or the games (and fitness routines, and equipment) of others. Golf fans are in for a treat regardless.

Help Wanted? Tiger’s Caddy Williams Injured in Car Crash

The relationship of Tiger Woods and his caddy, Steve Williams, could soon become strained.

stevie_williams_tiger_woods.jpgSteve Williams, caddie to Tiger Woods, recently made the news due to a crash while racing a saloon car (video of such races can be found on Williams’ personal website). Said Williams, “There was a massive amount of blood… I was looking down at my hand and saw bone… It’s a pretty damaged hand. I’m going to have to make some sort of adjustment. I might have to have a little assistance from Tiger.”

Obviously, we should be glad that Williams wasn’t injured more significantly, and we wish him a speedy recovery. However, one has to wonder how much longer Woods will employ Williams, given his tendency for making headlines. If you recall, Williams has had several well-publicized run-ins with on-course photographers. Additionally, Woods has shown little tolerance in the past for similar behavior, separating ties with former caddy Fluff Cowan and former swing coach Butch Harmon when their respective persona became too large for Tiger’s liking.

In June, at the height of the flap over Williams run-in with photographers, Woods stated that Williams, “probably went too far.” It will be interesting to see how long Woods is willing tolerate his caddy’s antics.

Photo Credit: © Lucy Nicholson/Reuters.

Firm Sand? Pitch Your Way Out

Your sand wedge may not always be the best club to get out of a greenside bunker.

You’ve pushed your approach shot and now you’re in a dreaded greenside bunker. To make matters worse, the sand is wet and firm. There are so many options: do you open the blade or close the blade, hit closer to the ball or further away?

Instead of automatically reaching for your 56° sand wedge, try your pitching wedge. The key to playing from wet or very firm sand is picking the ball as cleanly as possible. Think shallow swing and little divot.

2005 Merchandise Show Wrap-Up

The 2005 PGA Merchandise Show has come to a close. Here’s a tasty little summary.

PGA LogoNext year, The Sand Trap should be well-represented at the PGA Merchandise Show. This year we must suffice with linking to another site for coverage. For more images than you can shake a stick at, check out equip2golf’s 2005 report.

Just because we weren’t there, though, doesn’t mean we don’t have some thoughts.

Several of the big names, including Titleist, TaylorMade, and Ping, were absent as usual. These companies tend to release products when they’re ready (Titleist) or every other week (TaylorMade), and are not pressured into releasing a barrage of new products at or slightly before the yearly merchandise show. Besides, does Ping really want to be 30 feet away from a company that sells nothing but ball mark repair tools?

Finger Strength

Strengthening your hand (not your grip) is one of the most inexpensive ways to improve your golf game.

Squeeze BallGrip strength can mean one of two things, either how tightly or loosely you hold a club or where your hands are positioned on the club. Finger strength is another thing entirely.

It used to be that after a long session on the range, my hands would be rather tired. While we only take 30 to 50 strokes on the golf course (putts don’t quite count), it’s not uncommon to take 100 to 200 (or more) strokes on the driving range when working on an issue.

Hope (and Some New Sticks) Propel Leonard

Justin Leonard, playing in only his second tournament with his new Nike equipment, earns victory, breaking a 22-month dry spell for the 1997 Open champion.

Justin Leonard, who signed with Nike only 25 days ago and who missed his first cut with Nike equipment at last week’s Buick Invitational, today shot 5-under 67 to capture the 2005 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic at 28-under 332.

Joe Ogilvie, who led the tournament after four rounds, remains winless after six years on tour. He shot a closing-round 73 and finished T2 with Tim Clark at -25, three back. Ogilvie joked “The rain dance didn’t work. I was trying for a rainout today, but that didn’t happen.”

Said Leonard of this victory, his first in 22 months since the 2003 Honda, “it will inspire me a bit, knowing that one is not enough. I’ve been sitting on eight wins for almost two years, and it’s nice to get a ninth.” Leonard had only three top-10s last year and finished 42nd on the money list with $1.5 million. He failed to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time since joining the PGA Tour.

As the last two Hope champions went on to capture the Green Jacket of Augusta, Leonard may now be the odds-on favorite to capture the Masters.

Photo Credit: © Nike

Saturday at the Bob Hope

A 3-under 69 was good enough to keep journeyman Joe Ogilvie two shots ahead of Peter Lonard. Can Justin Leonard make a Sunday charge?

Joe OgilvieJoe Ogilvie is holding on to a two-stroke lead going into the fifth and final round of the 2005 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He managed only a 3-under 69 in Saturday’s round while Justin Leonard leapt into third with a 64 and Peter Lonard sits in second. Ogilvie’s round included an eagle and two birdies at La Quinta Country Club.

Peter Lonard also shot 69 and remains two strokes back. Justin Leonard, currently at -23, is three strokes back. Tim Clark is four back at 266, and Phil Mickelson, defending champ, sits with several others at 268, six back, after shooting a Saturday 68.


We’ve redesigned our site. Did we meet all ten of our design goals? Tell us what you think!

Yes, this is The Sand Trap. We’ve redesigned a little bit. Our design goals for this go-round were quite simple:

1. Have a good-looking menu.
If you dropped by before, you remember the little menu we had at the top. It served its purpose, but it wasn’t very attractive, it didn’t tempt people to look at the site, and it didn’t work in most versions of Internet Explorer. Our new menu, the “Article Topics” to the right, is far more attractive and user-friendly.

2. Move away from traditional “blog” look.
“Blogs” have a typical look. They emphasize the date, they have a strong “category” presence. They use usernames like “blingo” and “caseycat” (I’ve made those up, so if that’s your name, please take no offense). The line between a “blog” and a “news site” is blurry. We wanted to be on the latter side of that blur. I think we’ve succeeded.