I took some time to recover and heal properly before jumping up and playing 18 holes of golf. I know I’ll be rusty once I hit the links, but I’ve been preparing mentally and physically for the challenge.
In the meantime. . .
I recently released an ebook of poetry called Words from the Underground. It comes from the perspective of a person living on the streets of urban America with mental illness and suffering from poverty. It is in “the Underground” where I find my ministry work. It is in “the Underground” where I feel most connected to living out God’s Word coming alive in my life as I can serve and support others.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”
I learned about this John Lennon quote in my younger adult days. It always seemed to make sense logically. However, at the time, my circumstances did not truly reveal how much the quote actually speaks to various situations in life.
I’ve been trying to get out onto the golf course for nearly 2 months now. Initially, my schedule of work and coaching interfered with finding free time. Then, the rainfall and winter storms came crashing into town.
But that wasn’t the worst of it all.
Injuries plagued me almost at every turn when the sun did come out and the grass dried up from the rain. First, the ankle was swollen and aching. Next, the shoulder became limited in its rotation. And, of course, aging in general never helps.
Injuries are a definite setback to any plans of playing 18.
In the midst of struggling with inclimate weather and injuries, I fell ill. The type of illness that the health professionals identify as not being anything close to COVID. That’s the only consolation when you’re told that it could be a severe virus or just allergies.
It’s never been my thing to be out long term with an illness. Even when I had a “serious illness” some years ago, I still did as prescribed and took a short-term period off work like a Thursday and Friday, rested on the weekend, and returned to work on Monday.
This was something different, though.
Downtime doesn’t have to lead to a downturn in all that you have on your plate.
I’ve come out the illness and I’m back on track. I think I’m ready to hit the course again. My cousin Robert is town again and I might be able to get out there soon. Let’s see what happens.
John Lennon was an oftentimes misunderstood musician and the epitome of an enigmatic idealist. He is misquoted many times. His message of peace and love got overshadowed by many of his offhanded and flippant comments as he searched for his own identity and the meaning of life.
Equal pay for equal work is an argument for social equity and economic equality. The “pink tax” (also known as the “tampon tax”) has been an example of women working for less pay on the job (many times the same exact position) and paying more for consumer products. It also includes a higher degree of markup in costs for certain consumer products targeted towards women, items men do not have to even consider like tampons, pantyhose, and makeup.. This has been played out across the board in corporate America as well as among K-12 educators and higher ed institutions.
Sports are a totally different ball game when it comes to the gender pay gap.
As Kikue Higuchi reports for the LPGA, the top 60 women professional golfers of the LPGA Tour will compete for a $2 million winner’s purse at the CME Group Tour Championship, the final event for the 2022 season. This represents “the largest purse of any non-major tournament,” a total purse of $7 million for the tournament prize money. The prize money for the tournament winner of the CME Group Tour Championship is 28.57 percent of the overall purse. In comparison to average LPGA Tour events, 28 percent is 13 percent higher than the average percent of the overall purse to the winner.
These are major shifts towards closing the gender pay gap. Golf seems to be doing its part to bring more attention to the women who are playing on the course. The LPGA has established partnerships and sponsorships to push forward with making headway in this area.
The gap has yet to see widespread moves towards closure throughout sports.
Back in August, I talked about some thoughts on LIV Golf vs the PGA Tour. It’s still raging as a firestorm and causing a divide in the golf community as well as among the tour pros.
I cannot expect this thing to end any day soon.
Both parties just seemed entrenched in it.
Messy Media Coverage Doesn’t Help
The Wall Street Journal is known for its business and financial coverage. It also covers the business aspects of sports. Its latest article on PGA Tour executive jet usage as a sign of potential corporate corruption has a sensationalized title that will definitely draw in readers with some interest.
When the media coverage from even the top level journalism platforms seem to drift into the mess, it can get really messy.
The media spin on this rivalry is the makings of a reality TV fiasco before production has even launched. It most probably won’t be played out on the Golf Channel. It most assuredly will continue for a while and with no immediate end in sight.
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
Winston S. Churchill
LIV Golf came onto the scene in a whirlwind of controversy. That might be an understatement.
It seemed to really pick up steam once Lefty opened his mouth back in February. Basically, Phil Mickelson called the Saudi Arabian backers of LIV Golf “scary” and spoke on how they have a “horrible record on human rights.” He was also critical of the PGA Tour using what he called “manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics.” It is all documented with his quotes and other details.
Phil got all of the criticism and backlash, but LIV Golf got plenty of press coverage and social media buzz. It gave way to a widespread recruitment of top golfers from the PGA in a style that resembles what many would consider poaching. The big ticket offers to play and party-style jets and events for LIV Golf attracted some big names like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Pat Perez, and others.
So far, we’ve seen a lot of mud slinging and muscle moves from both LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.
Fans Want to Pros Play Golf
The classic golf reporting of Bubba Watson disregarding a spectator’s advice and working his magic on a recovery shot is the type of stuff true golf fans live for these days. It speaks to the golf fan’s desire to see the pros play their game in plain view. Golf fans want to be in the gallery in person or sitting on the couch watching Golf Channel to see the best doing it facing tough course designs and unfathomable pin placements.
Most golf fans could care less about whoever promotes, sponsors or hosts the tournament. They just want to see the pros play golf.
That’s the big deal.
Don’t Buy into the Nonsense
I think we can honestly say that the disruption has led to a major distraction. In fact, LIV Golf’s biggest critic at the onset was Lefty, and now he’s going to join the LIV Golf Tour. Conversely, some of the initial defectors from the PGA Tour have reportedly backed out of their commitment to the LIV Golf Tour. These types of changes are o be expected and will most probably continue as “developments” in the process of such a disruptive and divisive time period in the world of golf.
Don’t give it much attention.
If you love watching golf, Brooke Henderson is doing some amazing stuff within the ranks of the LPGA. She’s 6th in world ranking and #3 on the money list. Her latest victories have been stunning displays of golf to witness. The televised PGA Tour might be missing some big names, but it still has some exciting play. If you really want that good ol’ days feeling, then watch the Champions Tour.
If you love playing golf, play an extra round or hit the driving range more often as this LIV-PGA business gets sorted out. At the end of the day, it’s not helping your handicap much. It’s not a major factor for your own golf game. It’s just another ounce of small talk to discuss while awaiting the other foursome to tee off since the starter has groups backed up at the first tee due to the great resignation and supply chain issues.
Looking back at my blog posts, it has been nearly a year since I was last actively posting. That was a post on Cantlay’s hot streak. My, oh, my, how things have changed since then. Undoubtedly, I have been actively keeping an eye on things in the world of golf. yet, I have yet to get back to full swing yet.
At the end of July, I got a chance to go to the driving range with a good friend and show him a few things. It also gave me a chance to get back into the swing of things with golf.
I felt like I was ready to tackle the course, but I know that I need a few more driving range sessions and a round or two on a par 3 course before I play a round of 18 at a par 72 course again. But I’m feeling that itch and I’m back to swinging the clubs like a winner.
I’m looking forward to getting back on track and back to swinging the club on a regular basis. Until then, check out the video and enjoy.
Next up has got to be a major championship. Cantlay has not won one yet. And that seems to remain a point of contention for many observers without Cantlay having to say much about it himself.
Patrick Cantlay has a record in the majors that no one but the golf press really would write home about. Missing the cut at 2 majors stands out. Not even ranking for a top 10 position in any 2021 major stands out as well. In fact, He ended up tied for 15th place at the U.S. Open. His best performance in a major event left him tied for third at the 2019 PGA Championship. With dismal numbers like that, it’s hard to imagine Patrick Cantlay bringing home some PGA major event hardware home any time soon.
Kyle Porter just dropped an article on CBS Sports regarding Cantlay and his failure to win a major. In Porter’s own words, he was sure to say: “This is not a criticism of Cantlay’s game.” However, no matter how you question it or pose it as a wondering, even an inquisitive inquiry, it boils down to the inability of Cantlay to claim a victory in any of the 4 major championships.
The Future Odds on Cantlay
Despite his latest victories, Cantlay is not a favored pick for a major with some oddsmakers. It’s a toss-up when you consider his past record in majors and his recent victories on the PGA Tour.
Golfodds.com has names like Dustin Johnson (16/1) and Jon Rahm (10/1) ahead of Cantlay at 20-to-1 odds of winning the 2022 Masters. Vegas Insider has Rory McIlroy as a top pick for the 2022 PGA Championship with Cantlay somewhere in the midst of the fray behind Brooks and Xander. The Sports Geek points out: “Patrick Cantlay is a +550 betting favorite at BetMGM to win a golf major in 2022.”
But did fantasy golf experts have Cantlay on their top picks for this one? Do oddsmakers have the final say through the final round? Or, are all of these predictions just throwing caution at the wind when we just have to have it played out in reality?
Whether you follow golf closely or you just peep in occasionally during the golf season, you have most probably heard of both Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. If you have been keeping up with the latest golf news, you know things have gotten ugly between both golfers, especially if you follow the headlines and digs dished out via social media. In essence, it’s a full blown feud in the eyes of sports media and other media outlets.
What it means so far is that the pair have not been set up to tee off with one another as many had anticipated. What it looks like is that DeChambeau has taken to video to deliver one of his latest blows, and Koepka has utilized the opportunity to shift the focus and spin the narrative in another direction during the U.S. Open Championship. At this point, in the final round, DeChambeau remains 2 strokes off the lead and tied for fourth, while Koepka is stuck somewhere in the middle of the pack tied for fourteenth place. The final numbers have yet to come in, but from the looks of it, DeChambeau appears to be the only one of the two in the running, and the feud can pick up where it left off until the next tourney comes around.
After struggling to scramble for make the cut, Lefty finds himself currently tied for 63rd place at +8 through six holes. That might sound like an issue, but I am sure that he has enough scrambling left in his game to inch up a few spots on the leaderboard before it’s all said and done. After all, he’s one of those players that will let loose like never before on the last day.
Schauffele is another story. He has demonstrated an uncanny ability to stay in the hunt for many tournaments recently. The 27 year old golfer is poised to play a promising round today and just might surprise us all with where he ends finishing this final round. We have yet to see and golf usually rewards its fans with some final round surprises.
No matter how you see it. It is good to see the U.S. Open Championship back in San Diego and at Torrey Pines. All that is left is for us to see who comes out on top and what other thrills we will witness along the way to hoisting of that trophy. Hell, with just a few strokes off the lead, Rory McIlroy might be able to work his way into a fight for the lead throughout the day. That would make for a daring finish right there.
A few years ago I read a book on the Grateful Dead by Phil Lesh, a long-time member of the band. Lesh described the band in terms of a gathering of musical souls in search of that ultimate high of jam sessions with other musicians, searching for kindred spirits as they got into rhythm. It was entitled Searching for the Sound, and I loved reading it.
Returning to golf is like that search. You keep trying to find that rhythm. You keep trying to get your mind in synch with your body, whether it is the setup with your feet aligned to the target or gauging if your approach shot requires a 6 or 7 iron given the current course conditions and potential hazards. You struggle at first, then you strike that Callaway or Titleist on the sweet spot and its a mystery unveiled.
I returned to the driving range and accepted the changes. You know it’s a totally different place when you have to read 2 to 3 pages of health ordinances just to walk into the pro shop. You know things are different when you not only have to speak through a face covering and staff has to do the same while a plexiglass barrier separates the two of you. And surely must be different if the pro shop doesn’t do cash, just credit or debit.
My game was in need of some tweaking in prep for this golf tourney. Listen here. There is no shame in showing up rusty. Nope, not one bit at all. But you can’t show up that day and not have even touched your clubs other than to just load them into the trunk or cargo section of your vehicle that morning. That is an outright no-no. I had to get back out there again and find some kind of rhythm and feel.
I took along my GoPro and caught myself on video and a few photos. I am being totally transparent. Two days before I turn 50 years old, I plan on facing my first par 72 golf course in nearly a year. I welcomed the chance to test my skills on Barona’s links styled driving range with plenty of dirt and few trees.
In a word, I was satisfied. I worked on a laddered sequence of irons leading to the making of a pyramid. First, I went with the odd irons by warming up with a 7 iron and following that up with 5 iron and back to my 7 iron, then varied stances and swing lengths with my 9 iron. I topped off the pyramid with hybrid and driver swinging, feeling that driver meet the ball and send it sailing airborne further and higher than expected on the first time back. I worked my way down again from the 5 iron down to the 9 iron, then I tossed in the gap wedge, pitch wedge and the lob wedge.
After that session, I hit the putting surface and practiced some drills that test my eye and feel. My eye was off, but the good thing was that I could see it. Approximately 80% of my putts curled towards the hole as they lost gas to go any further. I knew I was on track.
Wait to see what happens when I get out there again today.