Driver is flat out unnecessary in golf

Justin Thomas eagled a 670-yard par-5 today on his final hole at the U.S. Open; he did so without the use of a driver, which essentially is bad news for drivers. I’ll never buy another driver in my life after watching Thomas hit two 3-woods to reach the green on that monstrous par-5.

To do a little math, Thomas averaged about 335 yards on those two 3-woods, and if a 3-wood is capable of such feats, driver is dead.

Drivers are hard to consistently hit on target. Even the the best golfers in the world can’t keep the ball in play half the time with a driver, so what can an amateur expect from one? Harvey Penick wrote in The Little Red Book that any amateur who only plays twice a week, should leave driver out of the bag. The only thing you will miss is that one big booming drive, Penick says, and that isn’t worth it.

Thomas hit some 3-wood shots that blew everyone’s minds today. If you haven’t seen them, do a search for Justin Thomas 2017 U.S. Open, then ask yourself why he or anyone else would ever need a driver.

JDP Invitational IV

The fourth annual JDP Invitational crowned its fourth new champion last week, with Laura Walsh claiming the green candle.

Her net 71 was the first score posted and sat there begging for a challenger that never materialized. The other four players all failed to break 80 with their net scores. Defending champion Debbie Peters made an early run in her round, canning two par putts longer than 40 feet, but followed with five straight disaster holes to shoot herself out of it.

“I was on tilt,” Debbie said.

As defending champ, Debbie chose the venue of the Palms, where Walsh started slow before stringing together several pars on her back nine. She shot a gross 91 with a 20 handicap.

“I’m pretty happy with my score; sets up a good challenge for everyone,” Laura wrote in a text message.

Sean Walsh and Jeremy Peters battled high winds and stomach issues and shot extremely high scores. John Peters was derailed by a triple-bogey on the par-5 opening hole and never found his stride.

Laura joins John, Jeremy and Debbie on the list of JDP Invitational champions. The tournament is unlikely to continue due to scheduling dilemmas, but we shall see what next year brings.

Harvey Penick

I picked up Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book this week. In reading a few passages for the first time in two decades, I find the wisdom as pertinent as ever in regards to my golf game, but also to my writing goals.

Penick is long gone, having left behind his lifetime of studying golf in a series of books. By the time I am dead and gone, I will have left behind a series of writings on the web. There is no need to use books. Reading on the web is exactly like reading e-books, with virtually all devices having a “book mode” available. Websites are way cooler than books, because of their fluid flexibility.

It’s so easy to bounce around from one website to another, save and bookmark pages for later reading, share what you are reading with friends, etc.

For now, books still have their place, I suppose, but the way of the future is websites. Writers and readers have no need for books anymore. Making money as a writer of websites is still proving a challenge, but the day will arrive.

Ben Hogan won a fifth U.S. Open nobody knows about

The interesting thing about Ben Hogan’s mysterious U.S. Open victory isn’t that it was his fifth title that he never gets credit for. The interesting thing is how the tournament was hidden in plain sight in 1942.

Considering it disrespectful to hold a U.S. Open while World War II was going on, the powers that be decided to hold basically the same tournament under a different name and include war funding in the event’s mission. They held qualifying just like a U.S. Open and handed Hogan the same gold-medal trophy he would have won for a U.S. Open.

Hogan is only credited with winning four U.S. Opens, however, which doesn’t really matter.

I’ve always felt, or sensed, that Hogan was the best golfer ever to play. I never saw him play, but in reading about him and watching some videos, I think he was better than Nicklaus or Tiger. Whether he won four or five Opens wouldn’t change his place in golf lore.

The notion of a tournament committee holding the same event under a different name fascinates me, because a simple change in language – in this case a tournament title – changes history. It serves as further proof that what is written in the history books, the numbers and letters, don’t necessarily tell the whole story. We can’t use statistics and such to quantify a person’s greatness. If you have a gut feeling that someone is great, they probably are.



Passing Don’s wisdom on to writers

I continued my reading of Don Quixote this morning and stumbled across a passage that could easily apply to writers in today’s world.

In the passage, Sancho Panza asks Quixote why he continues to wander around doing great deeds that nobody will ever see or hear about. Why doesn’t Quixote go into the service of a great king somewhere, a king who can fund his journey with money and the best weapons and supplies?

This made me think of a modern-day writer who might think it isn’t worth writing anything that can’t get published by a big publishing house.

Here is Quixote’s answer:

“There is something in what you say, Sancho, but before one reaches that stage one must wander about the world on probation as it were, in search of adventures, so that, by bringing some of them to a happy conclusion, one gains such fame and renown that when one does go to some great monarch’s court one is known as a knight by one’s deeds; and as soon as all the boys in the street see one riding through the city gates, they follow one and come swarming around one and shouting: ‘This is the Knight of the Sun’ or of the Serpent or whatever device it is under which one has performed great exploits.”

So, a writer should write and write and write all over the internet and make a name for him or her self. If the writing is worth reading, people will read it and someday the big publishing houses will come chasing after the writer, instead of the other way around.

Write every day

One of the biggest lessons I learned in my journalistic days was that sometimes people like the dumbest stories. No, what I mean is, you never can tell what people are going to like. I would turn in stories I loved and hear nothing from anyone and I would turn in stories I hated and have compliments tossed my way. Point being, there were a bunch of stories I never would have written if it weren’t for a deadline and those stories brought a smile to somebody’s face, sometimes. So, that’s why I am rambling on late at night. I was about to go to bed with nothing on my mind to write about, but here I am.

If you have a crazy book idea, write it up and publish it. You never know, somebody might enjoy it. If nobody enjoys it, so what. Most of us are glad Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations, but have you ever tried to wade through the Pickwick Papers? Then again, somebody out there probably loved the Pickwick Papers.

Shavasana is my favorite yoga pose

There is no better feeling than reaching the end of a yoga practice and hearing the instructor tell you to go into relaxation pose, or Shavasana.
That feeling of splaying your arms and legs out on the ground and letting your body relax after a challenging session. Of course, Shavasana wouldn’t feel so good if it weren’t for it directly following the practice.
If Shavasana came first, it wouldn’t be the same. If it lasted 30 minutes, it wouldn’t be the same either. The wisdom in Shavasana is that relaxation is an important part of life, but it has its place.
At the end of a long day of work, a good meal and an alcoholic beverage is Shavasana. At the end of a long week, sleeping in an extra hour on Saturday is Shavasana.
Work hard at something each day, even a hobby, and Shavasana will be there waiting for you.

McMurtry prose sings

In my journalist days I used to hear a phrase tossed around that was unique to the office. Someone would turn in a story to the editor and the editor would say, “Does it sing?”

I suppose it’s obvious what that phrase means, but in reading Larry McMurtry’s novel When the Light Goes, I have gained a better knowledge of the three-word question. When the words flow by in a thought-provoking manner that doesn’t feel like reading, it sings.

McMurtry is well known for his western tales like Lonesome Dove, which was made into a TV miniseries decades ago. Though I had seen Lonesome Dove and heard McMurtry’s name, it took me decades to actually read one of his books.

I found it randomly on Oyster and I’ll admit I was hooked by his reference to a woman’s nipples on the first page. The story has its share of pornographic moments, but isn’t a dirty story. It has it’s share of romance, but isn’t a simple love story. The reason to read the book isn’t the plot, it’s the writing. McMurtry uses simple, poetic language that doesn’t sound like it’s trying too hard.

Upon finishing When the Light Goes, I vowed to read more McMurtry and started with the first chapter of the first book in the Lonesome Dove series, a novel titled Dead Man’s Walk. If my old editor asked me about that first chapter, I’d say, “Indeed it does.”

Would Mark Twain have been a blogger?

Mark Twain wasn’t always a writer. He wrote professionally as a young man, but pursued other careers, only returning to writing when those other professions failed him.

So, if Mark Twain wrote primarily for money, it’s fair to ask whether he would have wasted time blogging.

Supposedly, some bloggers make money, but few do right away. I suppose there might be some big magazine paying a writer to keep a blog, but that doesn’t count. When I say blogger, I mean random folks typing away for a handful of readers.

A better question might be: if Mark Twain was a blogger, would anyone read his ramblings? Anyone who has read Mark Twain knows he was a gifted writer, but that doesn’t mean the blogging community would find him.

Maybe Twain would have been a master marketer and spread his name on the internet, but maybe not. Maybe he would have written a few blog posts and gave up to pursue something that actually produced a paycheck.

Diva rules

The third annual JDP Invitational was over before it started.

A scheduling quirk allowed Deb “The Diva” Peters to play her round four days prior to the other four competitors in the 18-hole event in Mesquite, Nevada.

Her net 76 at the Palms proved too tough to beat for the others at Casablanca on Friday. Deb, who was taking care of her eight-month old grandson Quin, was left with the luxury of a leader in the clubhouse, getting score updates via text message.

“I realized after nine, I was in pretty good shape for the win,” Deb said. “I thought everyone else would come through, but they didn’t.”

Through nine holes, Sean Walsh was in the best position to overtake The Diva. He made birdies at 10 and 12, but stumbled to a third-place finish with a net 80.

Finishing second was defending champion Jeremy Peters, who was playing on no sleep after flying in that morning. His net 78 included too many early double-bogeys to ever give him a chance to contend.

Laura Walsh was fourth, a net 82 not quite living up to her standards. She did have the excuse of having to play with the Diva’s clubs. Walsh didn’t hit the driver once, failed to master the Diva’s sand wedge, but rolled the ball well with the Diva’s putter.

Inaugural champion John Peters played one of the worst rounds of his life to come in fifth. His net 85 included many poor shots of all variety, some of which he attributed to fatigue on a hot afternoon. 

The reward for winning the JDP is the right to carve your initials in the green candle, which the Diva did while all competitors sipped Baileys on the rocks. 

“I felt like my score intimidated from the very beginning,” Deb said.

Her score at the Palms came in horrid conditions from the red tees, a 115 with a 39 handicap. Deb attributed her putting for the win, and a few nice drives. Her favorite shot was the drive she hit on the ninth hole, a dogleg left over water. She cut the corner on the par-4, a gutsy move she attempted for the first time, and left herself 40 yards from the green. The only competitor with the pleasure of witnessing the feat was John, who agreed with the Diva’s final assessment of the week.

“If you could have seen me play that day, you would know I earned the win,” she said.