Monday, September 24, 2012

Best and Worst PGA Tour Golfers to Watch

Best Player to Watch
There's nothing like the "oh no" moment when the television camera in the tower focuses on a slow and annoying golfer playing in a PGA Tour event.

Watching one of these agonizingly methodical pros work through a seemingly endless pre-shot or putting routine drives me crazy. These guys really know how to ruin good televised golf.

Here's my list of  favorite players to watch and some of the worst culprits of slow, hard-to-watch golf:

BEST-Mark Calcavecchia--The ultimate shotmaker, "Calc" is also a fast player. In 1992 in the final round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, he played a round with John Daly in 2 hours and 3 minutes.

BEST-John Daly--I've followed Daly on the course for years and he never, I mean never, stands over a shot for more than a few seconds. Better still, love him or hate him, he's exciting to watch with his exaggerated driver swing that goes way past parallel and his phenomenal wedge play.

BEST-Rickie Fowler--You gotta love Fowler. Put a stop watch on him and he typically takes less than 15 seconds to hit a fairway shot or a putt. (once he steps over the ball). In a world dominated by technically obsessed pro golfers, Fowler is a feel player brimming with confidence. I find myself wanting him to succeed and rooting strongly against slow players.

WORST-Jim Furyk--I like Furyk. He's one of the classiest guys on Tour. In fact, he generally plays at a steady pace on the fairways, but once Jimbo reaches the green he goes into slow motion. The worst is when he stands over the ball about to pull the trigger only to step away and reevaluate. When Furyk gets to the green, I'm heading to the fridge for a brewski.

One of worst slow play culprits
WORST-Sergio Garcia--Right behind Kevin Na as one of the slowest players on Tour, Garcia has actually improved somewhat over the years. Back in 2002 at the U.S. Open at Bethpage he was heckled unmercifully by the rowdy crowds put off by his endless waggles. He solved that problem but still takes way too much time before hitting a shot or putt.

WORST-J.B. Holmes--You never like to bum kick a guy that's come back from brain surgery, but Holmes is one of the slowest players on Tour. That said, I still like to watch the guy because he's got serious game.

BEST-Dustin Johnson-He's the ultimate lock-and-load guy who plays fast in the fairway and on the green. You've got to follow Johnson in person on the course to get a true appreciation of his athletic ability. He's got tremendous flexibility and it's a joy to watch this guy off the tee.

BEST-Rory McIlroy--Fortunately the World No. 1 is a fast player. To be sure, I never get tired of watching that beautiful, natural swing of McIlroy's. Just think, we've got another good twenty years of watching Rory.

BEST-Phil Mickelson--I enjoy watching Mickelson play because he respects the game on so many levels. He's a relatively fast player on the greens and there's nothing like watching Phil hit a "hero" shot when he's in trouble ala his 6-iron on the 13th hole at the 2010 Masters.

WORST-Kevin Na--You're the champ, big fella. Na has the reputation as the slowest golfer on the PGA Tour. He takes forever on the fairway and the green. You sometimes think he goes through his endless pre-shot routine just to jack with fans. Who can forget Na at this year's Players Championship with his never ending waggles. Five, six, seven waggles.....just hit the freakin' ball will ya. Glaciers move faster than this guy.

WORST-Tiger Woods--You can't argue with success (14 majors and 74 PGA Tour victories), but Woods likes to take his time. While it was tolerable when he was dominating, now it's just annoying. This guy grinds over shots with the best of them. He analyzes every shot like it's his last and while that may be good for his game, it's boring to watch over four days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

10 Disturbing Trends in Golf

1. On Course Weddings--Golf courses everywhere are struggling and looking for more revenue streams. It looks like they found one. I'm seeing more weddings take place on clubhouse verandas and around the 18th green than ever before. Whatever happened to getting hitched at halftime of an NBA game or in a Vegas chapel?

2. Colored Golf Balls--Please take those yellow and pink golf balls to the miniature golf courses with the volcanoes and windmills. A major golf ball manufacturer states, "If you see the ball better, you'll play better." Puhleeeese! They've tried this yellow ball thing before and it didn't catch on.

3. Cargo Shorts--Leave the cargo shorts to hikers and college students. Sadly, I've even seen President Obama wearing them while playing golf. Enough already!

4. Adjustable Drivers--Do we really need these things?  We got along without them for almost 500 years. Seriously, if you only play a few times a year and swing like a drunken lumberjack, an adjustable driver is just another club not worth the hundreds of dollars you paid for it. I don't want to see you adjust it and tell me how it has improved your game. You're just as annoying as the iphone guy bragging about all the bells and whistles on his phone.

5. Stupid Shoes--Stop with all the skateboarder looking shoes. You're playing golf not getting big air at the local skate park. Freddie Couples can pull it off, you can't.

6. Old Guys Wearing Rickie Fowler Gear--Hey, if you're over forty, please don't wear those fluorescent orange Fowler shirts with the flat-brimmed golf cap. Seriously-- the only guy, no matter what age-- that can pull off this fashion statement is Fowler. Everybody else just looks silly.

7. Long Putters--Just go get a boat oar, will ya.

8. Greens Fee Boasting--With companies like Golfnow and Groupon offering discounted greens fees, the obnoxious guy sitting next to you on a flight who bragged about his great deal, is now on the golf course.

9. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Guy--Please tell this guy I don't want to wait at the tee while he takes his obligatory photos so he can post in "real time" to all his buddies back home.

10. Goofy Tees--No I don't want to see your tee shaped like a martini glass or the one emblazoned with the logo of your favorite NFL team. Just hit the freakin' ball.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

China's First Two Hard Rock Hotels Coming to Mission Hills Shenzhen, Haikou

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to visit and play golf at Mission Hills Resort in Shenzhen, China.  It's one of the world's great golf resort experiences with twelve (yes, twelve) golf courses, a slew of excellent restaurants and a fitness center.

It's about to get even better with a new Hard Rock Hotel.

Here's the latest news from the Mission Hills Group:

(SHENZHEN, China) - Mission Hills Group - the world’s leading golf brand and driving force behind China’s sports and leisure industry - announces the country’s first two Hard Rock Hotels will be built at Shenzhen and Haikou locations.

The Hard Rock brand is recognized around the globe with a worldwide network of 179 venues across 54 countries, including 140 Hard Rock Cafes and 18 Hotels / Casinos. As a leading entertainment and leisure company, Hard Rock International offers guests an immersive musical experience relevant to all generations, from Hard Rock Live concerts and music events, to the world’s greatest collection of music memorabilia, which now includes 74,000-plus legendary items. Hard Rock is also known for its Rock Shops®, featuring collectible fashion and music-related merchandise.

The hotel, at Shenzhen’s Mission Hills Centreville is expected to soar 22 stories and contain 280 rooms. It will feature a Body Rock® fitness center, signature restaurants, entertainment lounge, recording studio, night club and more. The top floor will be comprised entirely of suites and the entire property will cover more than 40,000 square meters. The project‘s estimated investment will be around RMB 500 million and is targeted to open in 2015.

Mission Hills Haikou’s Hard Rock Hotel will encompass more than 35,000 square meters with 250 rooms. Located within the carbon-friendly Town Center development on tropical Hainan Island, it will complement the resort’s world-class golf, lifestyle, shopping, entertainment, dining and cultural elements. The projects estimated investment will be around RMB 400 million and is targeted to open in 2015.

“The addition of the iconic Hard Rock brand is further evidence of Mission Hills’ powerful international reach,” says Dr. Ken Chu, Chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group. “As China’s only hotel embracing and implementing music throughout the guest experience, they will be a welcome addition to our unmatched selection of recreation options in Shenzhen and Haikou.”

“The expansion of Hard Rock Hotels into China is a momentous event,” says Hamish Dodds, CEO of Hard Rock International. “We couldn’t ask for a better partner than Mission Hills and are excited to share Hard Rock Hotel’s unique style and attitude with a Chinese population thirsting for new entertainment experiences.”

The design of both hotels will reflect the Hard Rock brand’s rock ‘n’ roll music roots while seamlessly fusing with the familiar stylistic elements of Mission Hills and the surrounding landscape.
Other attractions at Shenzhen’s 500,000 square-meter Mission Hills Centreville will include internationally renowned hotels, a luxury spa, an auto exhibition center, a 1,000-seat Orange Sky Golden Harvest cinema, a Brunswick bowling center, an ice skating rink, an eXcape simulation racing centre, and more.

Conveniently located on the Pearl River Delta and within a one-hour drive of Shenzhen, Mission Hills Centreville guests also enjoy convenient access to major expressways, drastically reducing travel time between Mission Hills and downtown Shenzhen, Dongguan and Hong Kong. With the ‘World’s Largest Golf Club’ at its core, Mission Hills is the landmark of Shenzhen. The commercial potentialities of both Shenzhen and Dongguan will be immensely enhanced with the addition of Mission Hills Centreville.

In addition to the new venture with Hard Rock Hotels, Mission Hills recently announced a number of other projects for its Haikou resort. They include a low-carbon footprint town center in partnership with Lan Kwai Fong, featuring lifestyle, shopping, entertainment, dining and cultural elements; a partnership with Marriott International to build new Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance hotels; and a major entertainment and commercial district, Mission Hills•Huayi Brothers•Feng XiaoGang Movie-Themed Town. The combination of these developments will reaffirm Mission Hills Haikou’s position as one of the most sought-after leisure and tourist destinations in the world.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ryder Cup 2012 Preview


The Euros are always primed and jacked up about the Ryder Cup and this year is no different. With the subdued Davis Love III as captain, the Americans will, no doubt, take a more measured and professional approach to RC 2012.
Rory is No. 1 and Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are number three and four in the Official World Golf Rankings, so Europe has to feel good about its chances in RC 2012 at Medniah Country Club outside Chicago September 28-30.
With Love III at the helm, I don’t think we’ll see any storming of the green like Brookline or many in-your-face fist pumps by the Americans.  By contrast, the Euros have Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, a couple of the most irritating, self-absorbed cheerleading golfers on the planet.
The rowdy Chicago area fans will do their best to needle Poulter and Garcia and they'll definitely return fire, so it should be some good television viewing.
Suffice it to say, much like the Masters, the Ryder Cup is largely a glorified putting contest. You can absolutely, positively not expect to win either event unless the putts are falling.
Historically, when the European players start dropping bombs from every part of the green, the Americans are in deep trouble.
I love the Red, White and Blue, but I’m picking the Euros in this one because I think they can putt anywhere and they desperately want to win on American soil.
The Americans
{The team: Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker}
* Look for Tiger to play well this time.  Even though his Ryder Cup record is a sorry 13-14-2, he loves to play Medinah. He won PGA Championships there in 1999 and 2006.
* Can’t wait to see Jim Furyk taking what seems like hours to line up putts, then get over the ball, only to back off again. Very scintillating television.
* At least we won’t have to watch Sneds (Brandt Snedeker) wearing that ridiculous looking visor.
* Led by low-key Love, this team seems devoid of high intensity guys except for maybe Keegan Bradley and Bubba Watson.  Watney and Fowler would’ve added a little juice to the squad.
* Seems like this team has a wealth of grinders like Dufner, Z. Johnson, Kuchar, Snedeker and Stricker. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just that they play steady, not necessarily exciting golf.
The Europeans
{The team: Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Nicolar Colsaerts.}
* Get ready to watch, a bunch of no-name European Tour golfers  sinking putts from everywhere. You know, guys like Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie knocking in 30 footers in their sleep.
* Sergio Garcia will play all-world golf. If Garcia played as well in the majors as he does under pressure in the Ryder Cup, he’d have 10 majors in the bag by now.
* Ian Poulter will be annoying everytime he wins a match. Heck, he’ll be annoying all the time. Fortunately because of the uniforms, we won’t have to watch him in his signature canary yellow trousers.
* Ya gotta believe the pressure is on Martin Kaymer, who has played poorly for the past 18 months. No doubt, the American players will be lobbying Love strongly to tee up against the struggling Kaymer. He looks nothing like the golfer who won the 2010 PGA Championship.
Medinah Country Club
* In recent years, designer Rees Jones rebuilt all of Medinah’s greens. While there are a few flat pin positions on every green, most of them aren’t very large. For both teams, bring a hot flat stick or fuhgettaboutit.
* Can’t wait to see all the crash and burns on number 15 hole, a potentially reachable par 4.  It’s listed at 391 yards but typically is played from around 350 yards and sometimes as short as 280 yards.
* For wild and crazy par 3’s, the 245-yard number 13 promises  to be fun-to-watch.
Television Coverage
* NBC’s Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks will make some great calls, but, is there anything better than hearing Gary Koch’s “Better than most” call again and again. Or how about Roger Maltbie’s “It looks like a bad lie, back to you Johnny.”
* Can’t wait for the countless shots of Coach Love and Coach Olazabal driving aimlessly around the course with their walkie-talkies in a topless golf cart.
* How about the obligatory shots of the stunningly beautiful wives of American golfers. I hope tennis star Carol Wozniacki is there supporting Rory.
* If Captain Love’s picks like Furyk and Stricker falter, get ready for the incessant babble how about how great near miss picks like Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney and Hunter Mahan would have done.
* Get ready for the feel good story about European team member Luke Donald returning to Chicago where he played college golf at Northwestern. Jimmy Roberts reporting, of course.
* Can’t wait for the audio of Chicago drunks yelling “In the hole” when Americans are at the tee on a 590 yard par five or the all-to-predictable "You da Man" when a fellow citizen hits a long putt to win a hole.
* Something to look forward to: Slow-motion shots of Rory McIlroy’s golf swing. His swing is mesmerizing to watch.