Saturday, October 22, 2005

Knowing the Rules

If you play in tournaments, it's clear that you must know the rules of golf. And, if you don't, then you should ask someone in your foursome what the rules require in your given situation.

Michelle Wie's disqualification is a sad outcome for her inaugural professional event. I'm more dismayed at the interference of the reporter and his timing of his concern with her drop on the day before. I believe Michelle when she says she thought she made a proper drop. Neither her nor her caddie was trying to cheat by dropping the ball a few inches closer to the pin.

No doubt that this event will make her more cautious when taking a drop in future tournaments. But, it certainly is worth considering whether outsiders of the tournament, i.e. fans watching on T.V., reporters, or the gallery, should have any say about the rules during a tournament. I opt that they shouldn't or, if there is concern, it should be voiced at the time of the ruling, not a hole later and certainly not a day later. But, if a player chooses to disqualify him- or herself for an infraction (like David Toms during the British Open), then that's permissible.

Play well and according to the rules of the game!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Range Finders Allowed in Tournaments

The USGA has approved the use of Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) devices during tournaments effective January 1, 2006. Apparently, the hunt for distance markers will no longer be as ferocious. The official tours, however, will continue to ban the use of those devices during tournament play.

One argument in favor of the EDMs is they help increase the pace of play by 20 to 30 minutes in a round. Thus, the golf course management companies can increase their revenues by having more players on the course.

I've got mixed feelings about EDMs. I have played with course yardage books, carts with GPS on board, and often times, I feel like screaming, "Too much information!" I don't want information overload when I'm about to hit a shot. Since I love to walk, finding a distance marker, and walking off the distance, works fine for me.

I'm old fashioned and the less electronic equipment intrusion on the sanctity of the golf course, the happier I am.

As to increasing speed of play, I am always for that idea. I walk and can play eighteen holes in less than four hours. I'm not sure how much of slow play is due to looking for distances. It seems slow play is caused more by players taking two or more practice swings, not walking quickly off the greens, not deciding the club to use until at their ball, and so forth. Or, for some, it's an inconsiderate attitude of "I paid the green fee and I'll play as fast as I like."

Regardless, if you're playing in a round of business golf with a client, leave the EDM in your bag. Remember, it's relationship building time, not the time to hit the perfect shot, and have your client watching you peer through your EDM most of the round.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Golf in the Bay Area

I'm excited to see San Francisco's Harding Park as this week's venue for the PGA American Express World Championships. The world's top players (sans Els and Goosen) are here and the weather has been beautiful. Who will reign as champion in San Francisco?

Meanwhile, the LPGA players are north of the Bay Area in the gold-country town of Auburn playing in the Long's Championship. Unfortunate about the timing for the ladies in terms of gallery attendance with both being played this weekend.

I played in a golf outing sponsored by a local private bank. First, we had a four-station clinic on our game: woods, pitching, irons, and putting. I learned a lot and then we went off to play an alternating shot, 9-hole tournament. I've spoken at these types of events, and it was fun to partake in one, so I can talk to organizers about the pros and cons from the perspective of an attendee.

For the pros, it was great to have everyone participate in the clinic -- whether a low handicapper or high handicapper -- people who learn together have a common bond that they can always talk about. I also liked the idea of a 9-hole tournament. It only took more than two hours and it was nice change to play in shorter format rather than the usual eighteen holes.

As to cons, as one can imagine, you only get a few minutes with the teaching professionals. Yet, two of them gave me very specific information to help me improve my game. So, the information is there for asking; one just needs to be assertive and ask.

Another con is the format of the tournament which was pretty confusing. I've never played in an alternate shot format. I felt like my tempo was thrown off a little. But, the format made it even more confusing in that the first two shots you alternated hitting between your partner's ball and your own ball. Just too confusing!

Finally, it paired two of us against the field. When playing in a networking event, I like the feeling of camaraderie when I'm part of a foursome.

Overall, it was a great event! I met some very nice people. One gentleman I met had read my book, On Course for Business, and after dinner, he asked me for my autograph and shared how much he enjoyed my book. Indeed I was flattered!

Play well!