Tag Archives: Golf Channel

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Southland: Goat Hill Park Overview

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It’s a rare circumstance to be able to review a course with grass and without but alas that’s my opportunity with Goat Hill Park in Oceanside.

In 2014, I was invited to walk nine holes with course savior and new owner John Ashworth shortly after his plan to revive the course had been approved by the city to save the property from redevelopment.

Ashworth’s work at the course had barely begun. The pro shop was in the midst of a remodel, but the course itself, after years of neglect, consisted of little more than spotty greens, hardpan and acres of awaiting hard work. My most memorable shot was an approach to an uphill green. It missed by mere feet – and then came rolling back nearly 100 yards to mine.

I dubbed Goat Hill “the Charlie Brown tree of golf courses.” Ashworth coolly replied that the place simply needed a little love – and a lot of grass seed. He was right.

The turnaround is nothing short of miraculous. Aesthetically, Goat Hill is now a verdant gem dotted by wildflowers and other colorful landscaping, much of it the drought-tolerant variety.

The course now also glows with praise. The Golf Channel’s Matt Ginella in particular has heaped attention and adoration on the project. Last year he called it one of the best stories in golf and he recently rated Goat Hill among the top five short courses in the country.

The positive reviews and community support, which included 60 people showing up for a volunteer course maintenance day, has been gratifying and motivating, Ashworth said.

“People are loving it,” he said. “The response has been pretty overwhelming. We still have things to do, but it has come a long way.”

Goat par 3s

Ashworth wanted to restore the course’s status as a social hub and he’s done that by, among other things, making the course accommodate disk golf as well as real golf. Ironically, the greens are like trying to land on a Frisbee, making it a tough test of target golf. Greens in regulation here are the sign of a true golf marksman.

As a 65 playing 4,454 from the tips, the course might not sound like much on paper, but you can throw out the stats. There’s plenty of challenge here, including elevated greens with severe slops that can make misses especially penal.
A good example is the par 3 5th, a 139-yard hole with a green guarded by bunkers right and long was well as a severe drop-off on the right. I actually missed left onto a hill. My chip hit the green and ran through into a patch of nearly impossible rough. I took two futile swings and picked up.

The course makes you earn everything you get – and trying to overpower it only seems to invite more trouble. You can basically bag your driver here. A hybrid and some skillful iron and wedge play will take you a long way at Goat Hill.

“It’s a tough course, but it’s playable,” Ashworth said. “We wanted to make it a lot more playable for everybody.”
That’s in skill and comfort level on the course. True to its motto of “World Class, Working Class,” the course has dropped dress codes. That made for the interesting scene of a player putting out in board shorts in a nearby foursome.

As a host to the North County Junior Golf Association, Goat Hill seeks to introduce more young players to the game. Ashworth said the course has succeeded in a being a local catalyst, but its growing reputation and good word of mouth is starting to make it a bit of a tourist draw.

“We definitely have a strong local following, but we are getting more tourists people from San Diego and tourists as they hear about it on things like the Golf Channel.”

Ashworth continues to balance his dual roles of managing the course and running Linksoul, his golf lifestyle clothing brand. Ashworth said balancing the two roles continues to be a challenge, but he truly treasures his time at the course.

“It’s a bit like being a caretaker, but I love the people who work here and who come here, and I meet a lot of new people. I spend a lot of time here because I love it.”

A strong month of play in January has given Ashworth hope the course will be sustainable and profitable sooner than expected.

Ashworth has some remaining projects at the course, but hopes to eventually hold a grand opening, possibly this summer. He said the staff and the community certainly have something to celebrate.

“It’s had its ups and downs, like anything, but for the most part, it’s been a real pleasure,” Ashworth said, “and it’s a real feel-good story for golf.”

Goat tee marker

Goat Hill Park By The Numbers

3/8 – Holes that share a double green, a rarity in American golf

5 – Par 3s on the front nine; the back only has 3

6 – Number of the hole converted from a par 4 to a 3

450 – Length of the course’s only par 5 from the back tees

1952 – Year the course opened as a nine-hole country club

2014 – Year Ashworth took ownership, saving the property from redevelopment

$26-32 – Weekday/weekend green fee without cart

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April Southland

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Golf Channel’s Top 5 In San Diego

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In case you’re looking for a round during the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey … a pretty strong list, but we’re obviously fairly partial to No. 2.

But there’s certainly fodder for debate here amongst San Diego golfers. Let the debate begin …

Torrey

torrey art

Maderas

Maderas__09B_7-15-Edit-smart-copy-Edit

The Grand

grand No. 1

Aviara

Aviara Golf Club

Aviara Golf Club

Coronado

Coronado

Photo: www.golfcoronado.com

Chamblee on Woods

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Photo courtesy of USA Today

I’ve read a lot of takes on Tiger since the Farmers ranging from the rational – “It might be time for golf fans to get over Tiger Woods” – to the extreme – “Time to talk retirement?”

However, I haven’t read anything like what Brandel Chamblee has written and he makes his point through a well-told anecdote and piece of golf history I hadn’t read previously. Whether you agree with him or not, I think there are lessons in here for all of us.

I’m not comparing myself to Woods by any means, but I can relate to some of what he writes in that process has overridden result in my swing and taken it down the path Chamblee describes. I’m trying to temporarily ditch analysis and rediscover feel.

Anyway, thought this merited more than a retweet … And if you’re discovering Chamblee in print for the first time, he’s actually quite a strong columnist.

golfchannel.com/news/brandel-chamblee/woods-quest-swing-perfection-causing-his-downfall/

My Favorite Scene in “Tin Cup”: The 7-Iron Speech

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I meant to time this to the next time the Golf Channel runs a “Tin Cup” marathon, as it periodically does, but the approaching U.S. Open as timing seems just as good a reason.

Besides being the most anticipated tournaments of the year, the majors are just a great time in general to celebrate golf. That said, I’d to like to pay tribute to my favorite scene in the greatest golf movie of all time, “Tin Cup,” which we all know culminated in Roy McAvoy playing in the fictional U.S. Open.

I’ve watched golfers quote this movie, and even sing the songs, verbatim, showing how ingrained into the golf souls of people who love the game “Tin Cup” has become since it was made 1996 with, legend has it, input from Gary McCord, among others.

I’ve never tried it, but I’m sure a debate about a favorite scene in this movie could rage on for hours in the right crowd, and why wouldn’t it? Save from the romantic comedy scenes, what golf scene in this film isn’t iconic and, many times, relatable?

Roy getting the shanks on the range? Tin Cup: “Romes (his caddy), something’s terribly wrong!” What golfer can’t relate to the hopelessness of that? Or Romeo’s diagnosis: “The shanks are like a virus. They just show up.”

There’s the scene of Roy hitting the shot as David Simms’ caddie. There’s Roy knocking the pelican off the post after a bar bet. There’s Simms’ cunning bouncing of his 7-shot down the road to win a bet with Roy. And then there’s the culminating scene where Roy holes out to take a 12 on No. 18 at the Open after refusing to lay up – again.

But out of all that, if you’re telling me I only get one scene to take with me to a desert island to watch ‘til infinity, it’s the 7-iron scene.

The 7-iron scene is where Roy blows up on the course in his first Open qualifier in a dispute with his caddie, Romeo (Cheech Marin), about laying up on a par-5. We all know what happens next: Following Romeo’s lead, Roy breaks all the clubs in his bag – except his beloved and trusted 7-iron.

I believe the dialogue that follows to be the closest thing we have to golf poetry in that it speaks to the misgivings we’ve each had at one point or another about every club in our bag, and our unshakable faith in our 7-iron. You know it’s a day gone wrong on the course when your 7-iron betrays you.

In fact, a trust hierarchy of clubs probably starts 7-iron/putter/wedge … and ends somewhere with your long irons and possibly your driver, depending on how it’s going on the time.

Anyway, besides the sheer comedy and absurdity of the scene (it’s a bit like when Gene Hackman chose to play with four in “Hoosiers), I believe it’s the innate and universal truth about golf clubs that comes out amidst Roy’s rage that I find so endearing about this scene.

So for your amusement, appreciation and study (if you’ve never bothered to slow it down and catch every word) here’s my translation of the 7-iron speech.

To set the scene, Romeo (R in the screen play) and Roy (TC) are standing over Roy’s second shot on par-5, dogleg left. Roy wants to go for the green in two (“I’m going to go over those trees, with a little draw.”) while Romeo is preaching caution (“You don’t need the course record to qualify. You need to practice playing it safe.”)

And thus a golf feud for the ages plays out …

TC: Qualify? I want the course record. Now give me the lumber.

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R: You’re not going to listen to me, are you?

TC: Now give me the driver and shut up.

R: You want the driver? (Snaps it over his leg.) Hit the driver, Tin Cup.

TC: I changed my mind. Give me the 3-wood.

R: You can’t clear that dogleg with a 3-wood.

TC: Want to bet?

R: Fine, take the 3-wood. (Breaks it and throws it.)

TC: (To the gallery) Guess I’m going with the safe shot, boys. (Takes the 2-iron from the bag.)

TC: But you know, sometimes I fan that 2. (Snaps it over his leg.)

TC: You better give me the 3. (Romeo hands him the 3-iron.)

TC: And sometimes I catch that 3 a little thin, too. (Snaps it and throws it on the ground.)

TC: I’ve hit fliers with the 4. (Snap.)

R: (Softly implores while looking ashen) Hit the ball, Roy.

TC: I’ve hooked my 5. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve shanked my 6. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve skulled the 8. (Steps on it. Snap.)

TC: I’ve fatted the 9. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve chili-dipped the wedge. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve bladed the sand. (Snap.)

R: Putter? (Handing him the putter.)

TC: Yeah, there is Mr. Three Wiggle, isn’t there? (Snap.)

(Roy grabs the 7-iron with Romeo looking on in disgust.)

TC: Then there’s the 7-iron. I never miss with the 7-iron. (Kicking club debris aside.)

“It’s the only truly safe club in my bag.”

Before Roy can hit, Romeo walks off the course, shouting in exasperation, “What the hell’s wrong with you?!?”

The classic extension of Roy’s rant is that, before hitting the shot, he challenges the gallery: “Anybody want to bet me I can’t par in with a 7-iron?”

Of course, none of Roy’s supporters takes the bet, and Roy proceeds to qualify by playing out with just his 7-iron.

Anyway, most of the scenes in “Tin Cup” will stop me and pull me in when I find this movie at random, but especially the 7-iron scene. For all the reasons listed above, I believe it’s the greatest golf scene ever written not involving a fight with Bob Barker – which is for another blog post entirely.;)

My Dream Episode of “Feherty”

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Photo courtesy of newsouthfoodcompany.com

I’ve got a post coming at some point about David Feherty and how much I enjoy and appreciate his show “Feherty” on The Golf Channel and how much good I think it does for the game.

In the meantime, I’ve got something that would probably go very well as a follow-up post to that post, but alas the original isn’t written.

One of the rules of writing, especially when you’re stuck, is “Start where you can,” and tonight this is where that is.

My two favorite current television personalities are Feherty and chef Anthony Bourdain of The Food Network and the brilliant CNN series, “Parts Unknown.” I think they’ve got the two most unique and interesting voices on TV, and, in fact, were I to re-cast “60 Minutes,” a show badly in need of a line change, Feherty and Bourdain would be my lottery picks.

I admire and envy them for many things, but one thing in particular: Their ability to be social chameleons.

Feherty is equally adept interviewing people inside the game as outside of it, which is something I don’t think he gets enough credit for. The man has serious range when it to comes to interviewing. He gets more out of the pro golfers than anyone else because they relate to him, but then he can turn around and interview someone like “Seinfeld” creator Larry David and be equally brilliant, using golf as their common conversation piece.

Bourdain uses food to accomplish the same thing, basically, except he does it while traveling the globe and often goes way beyond just revealing people to probing poverty, government corruption, oppressed societies and the other socio-economic conditions that plague much of our world. And he just happens to discover a great meal or 10 along the way.

So, to review, Bourdain’s conversational vehicle is food; for Feherty, it’s golf.

I’m normally against a media figure interviewing another media figure, but in this case I’m willing to make a huge exception. I find the potential results of Feherty’s self-deprocating Irish wit meeting Bourdain’s worldly wisdom and New York street smarts simply too explosively great to resist.

But here’s the rub: I’m fairly sure Bourdain doesn’t golf. First of all, while making TV shows, writing books and eating 10 meals a day traveling the globe, when would he have time?

Then it dawned on me how to get them together.

The most famous food in golf is … the pimento cheese sandwich served at the Masters.

It sounds a bit gross, and I’m assured it is, but that doesn’t matter to Bourdain. He’ the modern-day Mikey: He’ll eat anything.

Feherty could have Bourdain on his show at Augusta to review the pimento cheese sandwich – and you don’t think Feherty has a joke about that?  – and then let wackiness ensue from there.

Those two sharing world views, exploring each other’s careers and their somewhat unlikely stardom to both become the respective TV stars of their industries, all which breaking the bread of the famous Masters pimento cheese sandwich? Seriously, forget the Super Bowl. I’m watching this. (OK, I’m DVR-ing the Super Bowl.)

I see at least two stumbling blocks to this: One, the Masters isn’t exactly known for having a sense of humor (Gary McCord is still banned, right?); and I’m guessing you can’t get on the grounds at the Masters without a collared shirt. That might be a tough sell for Bourdain, but considering the current sacrifices me makes for food – the man has eating moss for Pete’s Sake – this one seems small.

So there you have it. I read a story about Feherty last year that says he has an interview wish list for his show that is topped by Bill Murray.

I’m all for that one, but, David, you now have my write-in candidate. Who’s with me?

FIO Day One: A Salute To A Classy Tradition

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When I arrived at the course today, I made a point to make the 14th hole on the South Course my first stop. I’d heard about the tournament’s annual tribute to the military and wanted to see it for myself.

What I witnessed is an incredibly classy use of a golf hole.

For those unfamiliar with a tradition that is now in its fifth year, the flag on 14 is an American flag. When the golfers reach the green, one of the caddies removes the flag and hands it to one of two waiting servicemen, who are in full dress.

The servicemen hold the flagstick to prevent the flag from touching the ground in a breach of flag etiquette.

When play of the hole is finished, the caddie retrieves and replaces the flagstick and then two more servicemen rotate in for the next group.

This is all staged at a hole were the grandstand, called the Patriots’ Outpost, is filled with active-duty soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guard, all of whom receive free admission to the tournament.

What a great way to give back to the veterans and honor their service.

The hole is sponsored this year by a company called ViaSat, which is a provider of network services.

ViaSat President Rick Baldridge says half his company’s business involves the military so sponsoring the hole was a natural. The sponsorship included providing the attending servicemen with free Wi-Fi at the event.

“San Diego is a great military town, and giving these guys a venue to come out and bring their families, it’s exciting to them. The military guys love golf. That’s why all the bases have golf courses.

“It’s a noble game and it’s a noble way to honor their contributions.”

I can’t improve on that, but I’ll just say I wish all, instead of some, golfers acknowledged the servicemen before moving on to the 15th tee. Doesn’t seem much to ask.

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Pro-Spective: No. 13 on the South

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         This mini-feature is an attempt to look at a pivotal hole each day through the eyes of a former pro who has played the tournament.

Our pro is Scott Bentley, who played the tournament three times in the 80s-90s, which, of course, is before the redesign of the South. Still, 11, 12, 13 was a pivotal stretch then and certainly is now.

Bentley says it’s hard to talk about 13 without mentioning the holes that precede it, 11 being a long par-3 and 12 being a notoriously tough par-4 back toward the ocean. Then 13 is a par-5 that played over 600 yards on Thursday.

“I always felt like if you bogeyed 11 or 12, or both, it deflated you a bit,” Bentley says. “But if you parred those, you were ready to score on 13.”

There are two tee boxes for No. 13, one being far right that makes the hole more of a dogleg left. That’s how it was played Thursday.

And it was a three-shotter for each of the groups I saw come through. The ones who struggled the most were those playing their second shots from the thick left rough. That included Tiger, but unlike the others, who bogeyed, he managed to save par.

The 13th green is front by tiered bunkers, making coming up short quite undesirable.

“You’ve really got to think about your second shot there if you don’t get home in two, because you want to leave it on an upslope. The greens are firm and won’t hold shorter shots.

“But if you birdie 13, it sets you up to make a little run.”

Bentley is now the Golf Course Manager at Torrey Pines and Mission Bay. He’ll give his hole insights daily here, and we thank for him volunteering.

Gearing Up

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If you haven’t yet seen it on TV, you won’t be able to miss it at the course.

Adidas is debuting it’s new adizero blue shoe at the tournament. It’s being sported by all the TaylorMade players and is prominently displayed around the course, including the patio of the clubhouse.

The shoe, in its many styles of blue, is a pleasing color contrast to the launch of the initial line and is certainly less loud that the Big Bird-yellow shoes many players wore a year ago.

It’s also worth a mention is Phil Mickelson’s blue KPMG hat is on sale at the merchandise tent on the South Course.

The proceeds of sales of the hat go to fight illiteracy.

You can learn more at philsbluehat.com.

Broadcast Byte

Tiger Woods’ 2014 tournament debut prompted another round of will-he-or-won’t-he regarding breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record for victories in major championships.

As most golfers on the planet should know, Jack’s record is 18 and Tiger has been holding at 14 for five years now.

I didn’t discover this until I got home and watched the tape of the broadcast, but The Golf Channel’s Gary McCord added a new two-cents of perspective on the chase.

McCord talked about Tiger now being age 38 and what it would take to break Jack’s record with 19 majors.

He used Phil Mickelson’s five majors as a gauge.

“So to get to 19, he’s got to have Phil’s career starting at age 38,” McCord said.

He didn’t really finish that thought, but I imagined him humming, “Things That Make You Go … Hmmm.”

  

 

Short-Game Saturday: Take It From Phil

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For those of you who didn’t wake up to see Phil Mickelson on The Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” or tape it on Friday, as I did, here’s a review of the last 10 minutes, where Phil provided his insight about short-game basics.

For many of you, this will be Short Game 101 or even Golf 10, but he echoes something I see often that people don’t seem to factor into their short games: weight shift.

So, here it is, Phil telling it like it is in response to a question about one tip he’d give amateurs.

First, a little philosophical Phil:

“What’s interesting about chipping is that it’s not like putting or your golf swing. There are a million ways to swing a club or a million ways to putt (belly putter, cross-hand, etc.). But there aren’t multiple ways to chip, because everything in chipping is designed to keep the leading edge of the club down and underneath the ball.”

Phil’s first short-game commandment:

“You’ve got to have your weight on your front foot. If you chip with your weight back, the leading edge (of the club) is coming up, and most people chip with their weight level or back, which is just terrible.

“You’ve got to have 70 to 80 percent on your front foot.”

After weight shift, Phil discussed stance to bring it home.

“You either play (a chip) off your front foot or your back foot. Back foot if you want to hit it low; front if you want to hit it high. You NEVER chip with the ball between your feet, yet every amateur chips with the ball (in the middle). It’s not making a decision. How can you commit to a shot when you haven’t even decided what shot you’re hitting?”

One thing that I left the Academy with is a competence to teach the short game. They teach a system that applies to every short-game scenario and uses a universal stroke. You just change clubs to fit the shot/distance.

The one thing people seem to constantly need to be reminded of, until it’s ingrained, is the weight shift. It doesn’t work without it.

Anyway, as an ending aside, if you’ve never watched one of Phil’s short-game videos, hunt one down. It’s mesmerizing stuff, especially the trick shots, which show you the mind-bending possibilities for this wonderful game.

Putting Drill: The Humpty Dumpty

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I picked up an interesting new putting drill while watching the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) on The Golf Channel, and I thought I’d share it, largely because I’ve never seen it in any instruction book.

It’s called The Humpty Dumpty. It consists of teeing up five balls side-by-side on the putting green (a wall of balls, get it?) and then trying to knock each of them off with putts. A perfect score is five.

Anyway, I tried this drill yesterday and it’s tougher than it sounds or looks like. (You may have noticed that tees are narrow.) It took me about 20 putts to do it, but I probably should’ve tried 3-footers instead of 6. I got the first two fairly quickly then kept missing the third tee. And I grazed a few tees, which doesn’t knock the ball off. You’ll find you’ve got to hit them fairly squarely.

Anyway, like I said, I’ve never seen this drill in an instruction book and a Google search came up empty, so I thought I’d pass it along.

I really like this drill for a few reasons.

1)  It doesn’t require a hole on the putting green. You can do it anywhere there’s open space.

2)  Like the small-hole drill, which is my favorite and the one that consistently helps me putt better, it forces you to focus on a small target and is a great gauge for how well you’re holding your putting line.

Anyway, the next time you’ve got an idle 5-10 minutes before you tee off, try it and see if it helps. I’m going to add it to my putting practice routine and see if I eventually roll a few more in because of it.

In Appreciation of Arnold Palmer

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While scanning golf blog headlines today, I came across the news that it was Arnold Palmer’s birthday on Tuesday. He turned 84.

Being a Generation X’r, Arnie’s competitive achievements came before my time, but I’m very aware of his accomplishments and his enormous impact. As a golfer, I’ve most personally felt Palmer’s continuing influence on the game by playing his courses, including Aviara, the only Palmer-designed course in San Diego County.

I most consistently experience Palmer, however, through two TV spots he’s done, one being his voiceover for the “Swing Your Swing” Dick’s Sports Goods Commercial that first appeared this year. The other is the iconic “This is SportsCenter” commercial he filmed in 2009 that still appears regularly, with good reason. I think it’s the best one that has ever been done.

One clip makes me laugh and the other inspires me immensely. As a writer, I’m incredibly creatively envious and inspired by both.

If you’re not familiar with either, let’s do a little recap, starting with the ESPN piece.

The clip is part of a series the network has done for decades that hilariously spoofs life at ESPN by pretending the entire sports world takes up residence in its Bristol, Conn., headquarters, which in a way it kind of does.

The commercial shows Palmer and his caddie walking through ESPN’s cafeteria being trailed by two tray-carrying SportsCenter anchors, Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt. In awe, the two men watch as Palmer prepares his namesake beverage, the Arnold Palmer.

Palmer mixes a little iced tea and a little lemonade and finishes it off with a little more tea before exiting the cafeteria with his club-carrying caddy in tow.

Watching Palmer walk away, Van Pelt utters, in a hushed voice, “That was awesome.”

Scott whispers back, “I know.”

The beauty is in the simplicity. Palmer simply has to be Palmer, and he’s brilliant. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. Check it out.

I have a friend who works at ESPN who posted the day of Palmer’s visit that an alternate clip was filmed. The film crew asked Palmer to chip a golf ball into an Arnold Palmer, and he did it – in one take.

That’s quite a hole-in-one, but he certainly aced the cafeteria scene as well.

“Swing Your Swing” evokes very different emotions in me and impresses me on a whole other scale.

If you haven’t seen it, again, let’s recap. As a montage of golfers swinging scrolls – including one of a cook in a kitchen – Palmer does a voiceover that basically pays homage to golfers everywhere. The script he reads comes across as a heartfelt appreciation for everyone who has ever picked up a golf club, so much so that you quickly forget it’s a commercial.

I remember the first time I ever saw this commercial on the Golf Channel and it stopped me in my tracks. I hit rewind about 10 times to take it all in. If you’ve never taken a moment to appreciate the words, here’s the script.

Swing Your swing…

Not some idea of a swing.

Not a swing you saw on TV.

Not that swing you wish you had.

NO … swing Your swing.

Capable of greatness.

Prized only by you

Perfect in its imperfection.

Swing your swing …

I know … I did.

 

         As the last line is delivered, a clip plays of Palmer swinging in his prime … swing-from-the-heels approach, held-off finish and all. Classic Arnie. And a true original. Check it out.

To me the script is pure poetry and speaks to everyone who’s ever dared to pick up a club and experienced the frustrations of trying to learn this crazy game – and forges ahead regardless.

As one of the many who used to have one of those self-made swings, and, to some degree, probably still does, I relate. As a golfer and writer, “perfect in its imperfection” brings it home for me in the commercial. Eventually, aren’t they all? As Roy McAvoy said in Tin Cup, when it comes to the golf swing, “perfect (is) unattainable.”

But if you’re really a golfer, that never stops you from trying.

So swing your swing, and while you’re at have an Arnold Palmer and toast the man’s continuing contributions to this great game. Happy birthday, Mr. Palmer.