More on Tiger at Augusta- the inside scoop

Written by Michael Shaw

Hey there everyone. I was in Augusta today, and had a long conversation with Mr Waters, who is 80, and owns Bonaventure Golf. His store is fantastic, and has been in existence for 40 yrs. He owns all his inventory, has NO receivables, and yes, he does business with us.

Some of his customers during the 3 weeks of the Masters…..one week prior, the actual week, and one week after, include, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Johnnie Miller, Tom Watson, Angel Cabrerra, Camillo Villegas, Sergio Garcia….get the message.

Well here is the kicker.

Tiger has been in Augusta since this past Sunday.
Monday shot 74
Tuesday shot 75
Wednesday said he wanted to play like it was the Masters…shot 72-77. 36 holes.

The caddies were saying, as he hit every shot there were 10 golf carts surrounding him, with 2 armed guards in each cart. Where the ball was expected to land, be that the fairway off the tee, or the green, an additional 5 golf carts, with 2 armed guards in each were waiting.

On holes that border Augusta National, an additional 6 golf carts were positioned on the fence side of the hole. 2 guards, both armed.

All this with NO ONE ON THE COURSE!!!!!!!!!!

Augusta Police have called in extra security for the 7 days of the Tournament. All the vacant houses that had not been rented have been snapped up by Pulitzer Prizewinning Organisations like TMZ, The National Enquirer, etc etc.

The Caddies that are walking the course are saying…….60-40 he wont make the cut.    95-5 say he cannot win

Drives not too accurate, and short game not up to par. Putting….not even close.

Now dont go calling the William Hill betting offices in London to place bets against him, but the odds are obviously stacked way against him.

All I can say is……it should be a very interesting Monday thru Friday, AND, should he make the cut it could be riveting.

The town is buzzing over the event, more so than I have ever known in my 20 yrs of calling on the area. The tension and the excitement is unbelievable…everyone is asking…..have you seen him, have you seen him?

I dont know what I wish for to be honest…..but…..if it brings people back to the game, and selfishly, if it improves our incomes with increased sales, then I say…….come on Tiger, for God’s sake, play all 4 rounds and make it close.

I love this game, even though I can’t putt worth a sh-t anymore.

Best wishes
Michael Shaw

TIGER INTERVIEW- So many questions…..

To be  a complete golf blog I occasionally need to cover the BIG topics that everyone is taking about….and this week it’s the Masters and Tiger Woods!!

I just listened to Tigers press conference and easily could have predicted most of his responses to the questions asked of him. Having watched Tiger as a young lad work his magic as a junior golfer and then as a college student at Stanford, it was very easy to predict he would be a GREAT professional golfer. But like so many other elite athletes the question was would he be able to conduct his private life-like he’s conducted his professional life…clearly the answer is NO.

If his personal life was such a “lie” as he states, then how could his integrity on the golf course be so disconnected to how he was leading his personal life? That is the part specifically I am most intrigued about…would Tiger ever call a penalty on himself if ONLY he saw  the ball move in the rough…it’s really hard to answer YES after listening to how messed up he was.

I also find it very hard to believe that Tiger didn’t know in Feb that he would return to golf for the 2010 Masters….Tiger miss a major…no possible way!! Remember this is a guy that played with a torn ACL and was taking pain medication to play in the 2008 US Open…..and won while grimacing in pain. It was a heroic effort and perhaps one of the greatest sports feats ever!!! Nobody should be surprised that Woods name is on the tee sheet for the start of this weeks Masters.

So Tiger is more human than anyone ever thought or knew about until his scandal was exposed 5 months ago. His well prepared comments are always themed as one of great remorse for what  he’s done to his family and friends (and fans) and how he has committed himself to a long course of therapy and treatment….wait else could he possibly say?

We all have to decide …do you care that perhaps one of the greatest athletes of all time also has some serious character flaws, and that his fame played a part in his access to the forbidden fruit that he not only couldn’t resist, but exploited to the 9’s? Or do we just care about the fact that he’ll probably go down in history as the best golfer the world has ever seen, and that he did more for the game than everyone else combined (an arguable point)!

Seriously we can all poke at Tiger, but we then become hypocritical of another human being that probably had little chance of living the pristine existence we all had assumed he was leading. Most will end up embracing him with his flawed background like we continue to embrace John Daly (who’s  addicted to just about every bad vice known to man). Personally I will never view Tiger in the same light, but does that really matter….? I guess the light he’s in now is one of having been a self-absorbed elite athlete that has made the same mistakes as many before him…..

Since I love and care about the game of golf….yes I will continue to root for Tiger, as there is nothing like a Tiger back nine when he reduces the competitors to frayed mince meat. Will his competition now feel more comfortable knowing he is a sinner…..I doubt it…what they’ll most likely see in Tiger is a MORE intensely dedicated player that will let his immense talent do the talking, and let time subside the hangover of his misdeeds.

Will you root for Tiger…my guess is most will, while many won’t..this all adds to the intense drama that the game and media will enjoy over the coming months. I will again root for Tiger and hope he does contend on Sunday afternoon, which will make the Master memorable and way more exciting than watching Lucas Glover compete against Ricky Barnes (no knock on those guys).

I also just posted my video of the Terry Rowles TPI interview, and will continue to cover the Masters throughout the week.

Although you will find spelling and grammatical errors in the blog…please remember that I write these quickly with little review to get this information out on a timely basis…thanks for your understanding!!

Randy Haag

TPI- Titleist Performance Institute – the root of golf fitness

Golf has significantly evolved in many areas the equipment and ball have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Now even a 50 yr old can drive a golf ball 300+ yards….but that has come to a screeching halt, and if anything has begun to reverse with the new groove requirement for professional events. Since I plan on playing in the US Open Qualifier (although not required in the local qualifier), US Senior Open Qualifier, and British Senior Open Qualifier, I had to change my clubs to conform. The rule applies to clubs with 25+ degrees of loft that now will no longer have the square grooves to provide tremendous spin on the ball, especially out of the rough.

With the equipment at a standstill, the one area where golfers can improve most is in the area of golf fitness. This is why Titleist started the TPI program, to keep golfers fit longer to extend the number of years they’d be teeing up a Titleist ball. Amongst the pro’s fitness is the one area we’ve seen change significantly over the past ten years.

PGA tour pro Brad Faxon commented below about TPI:

“You are hooked up to wires and electrodes that test your legs, trunk and upper body to find the areas of strength and weakness, and then you are given a fitness program to help improve the areas you need,” added Faxon. “The reason that young players absolutely kill the ball is that they are learning at an early age to best use their body for the golf swing,” he said.

Getting a TPI fitting is now easier than ever with many certified instructors all over the region. There are physical trainers certified for TPI as well as golf professionals. We are very fortunate to have Terry Rowles who just joined the Olympic Club staff on a part time basis. Now Olympians can book an appointment thru the pro shop to have a TPI session with one of the best in the business.

I recently went through then process and was quite surprised at my fitness handicap (about a 12). Over 12 years ago I had a fitness specialist build a routine that I’ve been using religiously for 12 years. I knew deep down that my 2 hour workouts were not really maximizing what I could be doing, but I didn’t feel a fitness trainer at 24 hour fitness was the answer….NOW I have TPI. It was quite funny because I was asking Terry are the few exercises recommended and cardio really enough to start with? Terry told me the 2 hour workouts I had been doing we almost a complete waste of time. After two weeks, I can assure you he’s right. After looking initially at the exercises I thought they seemed a little easy and that the whole workout would be a breeze….boy was I wrong. The first time I did the lunges, I almost couldn’t walk for 3 days, and had to take a break from the routine.

The analogy I have for everyone is it’s like going to a doctor for a physical. The doctor first checks all your vitals, and blood work before he prescribes anything to you. The same goes with golf, if you don’t first check your body out and make physical improvements, then how do you expect to get better. The fascinating thing about TPI is it’s ability to isolate the physical areas that need work, prescribe the proper exercise to fix the physical limitation, and THEN you can fix the flaw in your swing. It doesn’t work the other way….how can a golf pro fix your up and out move, if your body cannot possibly retain  your spine angle throughout your swing.

After you complete several weeks of these exercises you then move on to others that continue to fix the physical limitations. I must admit I wasn’t a big believer in this until I did the program for a few weeks and saw immediate results. These results are hard to ignore, as I shot a 68 last Sunday in the California Mid Amateur, and erased an 8 shot deficit to tie for 1st and lose in a playoff making my only bogey of the day on my 20th hole. But my point is typically I’d have a strong 1st round and then struggle to get through the amen corner of Stevinson Ranch (15-18) on the final day.

TPI and fitness is a subject I’m going to cover for a few more weeks. I plan to show you some specific exercises that I’m doing that  are universally good for everyone. Also there is a short interview of Terry Rowles explaining TPI and his teaching philosophies. Terry can be reached at terry@sfgolfpc.com

Also coming up I have a golf trip that I will be sharing with everyone over 15 days that will cover such great courses as Whisper Rock in Scottsdale, Winged Foot in NY, Pine Valley in NJ (#1 ranked in the world) and Seminole in Juno Beach FL. I’ll have tournament coverage along with photos and my thoughts on how to play these amazing courses. STAYED TUNED!!

Randy Haag

California Mid-Am ends in sudden death playoff as Noto defeats Haag

My congratulations go out to Kevin Noto who shot an amazing 66 in the first round of the AmateurGolf.com California Mid Amateur at Stevinson Ranch, taking a whopping 7 shot lead into the final round. The course played extremely tough as host George Kelley had the greens rolling at Augusta like speeds of 13-14 on the stint. The pin placements combined with the speed of the greens made putting a serious challenge during both of these beautiful days at Stevinson Ranch.

For those of you not familiar with Stevinson Ranch….it’s truly the crown jewel of the Valley, and rated I believe the 5th best public course in the country. The thing about this course is it’s VERY difficult to string two good rounds together. Last years event was quite unique as we went from perfect conditions on Sat, to a wind storm on Sunday. After a career best 65…the next day was a disaster with 50+mph winds causing all kind of problems leading to an 83 and another second place finish.

What I really love about this event at Stevinson Ranch is most of us stay at the cottages right at the course. We all congregate and either eat at the course (the food is great!!) or we  eat at one of the two places in Stevinson- the Mexican place or the Stevinson Bar and Grill. If you happen to go to the Mexican place and order George’s special, you will be shocked to see a Burrito the size of a magazine on you’re plate….my good pal Tom Hitchcock ordered one of these beasts and I must admit it was the first time I’ve ever seen food left on Tom’s plate. The food was quite good, and after dinner we hit the other “hot spot” the  Stevinson Bar and Grill.

Now this is a real bar… When we entered I noticed my lifelong pal Paul Davis sitting at the bar with Bill Sibert (all the way from MI) on Paul’s plate was the largest burger and other high fat foods I’d seen in quite some time. As more of the tournament players arrived the noise and tempo of the evening picked up!

DON’T RING THE BELL IDIOT

Yes I responded to my good friend and best ball partner Darryl Donovan, who yelled over to me “hey Randy does that bell above you work” without hesitation I reached over my head and rang this silly bell. OMG……..the sound of the cheers from the bar was deafening…as I was told by the bartender that I had just bought the ENTIRE population in the bar (half of Stevinson) a DRINK….After being laughed at and ridiculed, I finally realized that this was NO JOKE as the two bartenders we’re feverishly preparing drinks for everyone in the place.

I couldn’t imagine how I could have been tricked by such dear friends…..oh yeah..they got me good!!!

I was prepared for the colossal bill, and trying to figure out what credit card still had enough credit to handle this whopper, when the bartender said “don’t worry this isn’t like we charge SF prices for drinks here” well…what does that mean. When all was tallied up I OWED………$58.00…..OMG that’s 5 drinks in SF..But here they poured 25+ drinks in a wonderful bar in Stevinson called the Stevinson Bar & Grill…..check it out!!!

Okay back to the golf, after being 8 shots back I didn’t think it was impossible to make a come back…my playing partner Jerry Ledzinski eagled the first hole and quickly shaved two shots off the lead. After the front nine though Jerry and I were still 6 and 8 shots back of Kevin. The crazy thing about Stevinson Ranch though is the back nine can produce some serious pain trying to get into the “barn” so to speak. The 15-18th holes all have water and trouble waiting for a nervous swing to cause havoc in your finish.

Jerry and I had marvelous back nines.   I made birdies at #11, #15 and #16 and Jerry at #11, #15, #17 and #18 for a very fine 32. We started the day even so after I was 2 up on the front…Jerry was 1 back of me at the finish.  He played a VERY solid round of golf and shot a beautiful 69 on the day.

After I birdies both 15 and 16 I knew I had a chance….BUT 17 and 18 have water down the left side, and historically I’ve struggled on these finishing holes.  But today was different, I was able to hit a solid shot on 16 from 225 yards out that ended up 6 feet away. After making a downhill slider, I knew the game was on!! After a solid drive on 17 to 115 yds from the pin, I launched a 54 degree sand wedge to the very back of the green, leaving a very tricky downhill 30 foot putt. After a decent lag to 4 feet I was able to save my par and head to #18. I didn’t hit a great drive on 18 and had to lay up short on my second shot. My third shot was decent but left me with 25 feet which I two putted for par for a bogey free 68 and a -2 total of 142.

Now Kevin after an amazing 66 on Sat was having some problems on the closing holes. If Kevin shoots 75 or less he wins, 76 we tie and anything higher I win for the first time….We finished a good 25 minutes ahead of them and I patiently waited. After Kevin posted a 76 I knew I was headed for a sudden death playoff. I guess it didn’t really matter what hole we played, although with Kevin’s tremendous length advantage I suppose playing 18 would give him quite an advantage. So off we went to the 18th tee of course where Kevin hit a 400 yards drive….YES 400 yards on this 575 yard par 5….he had about 170 left to the middle of the green. After seeing his drive, I needed to focus and execute myself. I took a deep breath and launched a winner myself…leaving me 209 yards to the pin.

I deliberated for quite some time on either a 4 iron or 5 iron as the wind was helping slightly. finally I chose the 4 iron and launched a beauty that hit on the front of the green and ran 35 feet past the hole. Kevin wasted no time hitting either a 7 or 8 iron that also found the green, just a few feet in front of my shot. I knew the putt from having it previously and rolled a putt that I thought was going in the hole for perhaps a winning eagle. But as we all know…the putts that look the best approaching the hole, don’t always fall in. I was left with a 2 inch tap in for birdie 4, and now had to dodge Kevin’s attempt. Kevin also rolled a beauty that just broke low also leaving inches for his birdie 4.

So off we went to the 10th hole for more excitement. After we both drove to the right, I had to negotiate a tree that was straight in front of me…after a cut 6 iron, I had some work left from the grass bunker on the left. Kevin hit his shot deep about 40 feet from the hole. Kevin putted down and short to 6 feet, while I chipped to within 10 feet. What happened next was good for Kevin and not so good for me….I missed and Kevin made a fantastic 6 footer to win the event.

My congratulations to Kevin for winning the 2010 California Mid Amateur, to Pete Wlodkowski and the whole Amateur golf.com staff, and to George Kelley and everyone at Stevinson Ranch for providing such a great venue for this event.

This is the reason I LOVE amateur golf…I got to spend the weekend with my best friends, I played a great golf course in great and tough condition, I experienced the BELL at the local bar, had some great laughs and memories that I will always remember. And best of all…..I get to do it all over again soon in my next event!!

Stay tuned for pictures from Stevinson Ranch, and coverage of something you’ll want to learn more about…TPI and how it can significantly improve your game!!

Thanks for tuning in…

Randy Haag

A sit down with Dennis Sheehy

My first interview is with Dennis Sheehy.  Dennis started teaching golf at a very early age (17) and has become well known worldwide.  I met Dennis 10 years ago through the “Cat” (Pete Daffern).   Pete shared many great stories about Dennis and how he’s worked with some of the world’s best players.  Word is he almost landed Tiger at one point!!

Dennis is an affable and courteous gentleman, and I can see why so many people have migrated to him.  I think his approach to the game is simply to maximize the abilities of his students, in three different capacities; mental, physical and emotional.

Dennis resides and teaches in the San Diego area and has students worldwide.  Please check out the interview and ask any questions you have for him.

Randy

An Afternoon at the Bridges in Rancho Santé Fe

Last Thursday I had the pleasure to play The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe with three very good guys; Brendan Oneil (founder and CEO of Cahir Capital), Scott Lucas (our host and Chief Strategist of Candellacandle www.dreamcandles.com) and Pete Wlodkowski (founder and owner of Amateurgolf.com)

This is what I love about golf…here we are 4 guys having a complete blast in a setting that is hard to top.  For 4+ hours I was able to forget about life’s challenges and just enjoy a great day of golf.

I must take a moment and mention a word or two about each of these great guys.  Brendan Oneil is a fellow Olympian and friend.  Brendan has recently founded a new fund called Cahir Capital.  In my 25+ years in the financial services business I have yet to meet a money manager I respect and like more than Brendan.  Today, Brendan’s highlight was a chip in for eagle on #7 after a bombed drive and 5 metal just short of the green.

I’ve known Pete Wlodkowski for over 15 years and greatly appreciate and enjoy our friendship.  Pete has done an amazing job building AmateurGolf.com into a major golf portal.  I personally have enjoyed competing in many of his events and am looking forward to his flagship event next weekend at Stevenson Ranch called The California Mid-Amateur.

Scott Lucas (our host) is another successful, but humble, guy that has a passion for innovation along with a love for the game of golf.  Scott, in his early days, ran a 100+ Billion dollar mutual fund and decided it was time to slow down a bit.  Since his retirement Scott has founded several companies and is currently involved in a great new product that you can find at www.dreamcandles.com I think you’ll be impressed with this product line.

That’s a little about the great group we had today.  I won’t mention where the money ended up, but it was a beautiful day and I highly recommend playing the Bridges if you get the chance.

Randy