Category Archives: people

Seve Ballesteros (1957-2011)

After a long bout with the effects of a cancerous brain tumor, Seve Ballesteros died in Spain today at the age of 54.

He won five major championships, two Masters and three British Opens, is the career European Tour wins leader with 50, and won six times on the PGA Tour. He was also a force in Ryder Cup competitions, bringing the European to team to parity and then superiority over the American team in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

European players today give him credit for elevating the status of the European Tour in the same way Arnold Palmer did for the PGA tour in the early 1960s.

Ballesteros was best know for being a fierce competitor, and for having an imagination and scrambling skills that left him never out of a hole no matter where he was playing from. Stories of recoveries from impossible positions are legion.

He had dashing good looks and was the definition of golfing charisma. In my experience, no golfer since Palmer has been as magnetic while in the hunt as Ballesteros, and that includes TW. If he was leading or challenging the lead, you had to watch.

While someone is alive, we can still say that we live in their era, even though their productive years have passed. The Ballesteros era is now over. He was one of a handful of players in history who truly changed course of professional golf. Those of us who saw him leave his mark are richer for it.

NY Times obituary

Visit www.therecreationalgolfer.com

Does Tiger Have the Yips?

Short post today, but Tiger missed an awfully lot of short putts this weekend. Saturday he missed from two, four, and six feet. Yesterday on the back nine, I forget which hole, he missed from under three feet. There might have been others over the weekend I haven’t heard about.

It used to be that those short putts were money. He just didn’t miss them. Period. Now, you watch because there’s the chance that he will.

So I ask, does Tiger have the yips? Say what you want about his swing, but I have never seen him miss the kind of putts like he has so far this year. This weekend’s performance was painful to watch.

Visit www.therecreationalgolfer.com

Count Yogi

People these days are catching up to Moe Norman, the straight-hitting Canadian savant who might have been the best ball-striker to ever live. There’s even a movie coming out about his life. There’s a golfing school based on his swing, called Natural Golf. Moe Norman — the best golfer you’ve never heard of. Except he isn’t.

Count Yogi is.

Real name, Harry Hilary Frankenberg, born in 1906. The story goes that he was standing in a corn field, long before Shoeless Joe, and heard a voice say to him, “your brain is your body’s greatest gift – use it. Watch the ball with your eyes, but put your brain eyes (like a blind person would) on the end of your stick (club head). Take the stick back and return it, circling under to loosen, standing tall and straight with perfect relaxed posture.”

Whatever that means, it meant something to him and he became a marvelous golfer whose list of accomplishments you can read on many web sites.

His five-word mantra about golf was, “Simple game. Nothing to it.” It was all about controlling the clubhead, and “you should always be loose, boneless, muscleless, effortless, because when you are, you can mentally control the clubhead.

The backswing: pull it back “to control,” one of his students said. Farther than that and you’ll lose control.

”I have always been a consistently straight golf-ball hitter because I have eliminated virtually every idea suggested in numerous instruction articles in books, magazines and newspapers. I keep the swing simple and think only of being relaxed, graceful and smooth.”

“I play with an infallible mental routine and have ever since I was a little boy. I don’t play with my hands, my wrists, my arms, my age or my strength. I play with 100% brain.”

He had a five-step setup that was a key element of his swing, which helped him take the body out of the swing, his thinking brain out of the swing, and just use his natural motion controlled by his subconscious mind.

Listen and watch him go through the steps in this video.

Yes, he’s off balance at the end of his swing, but don’t let that bother you. There are other videos of him swinging that I recommend you look for, because they show a swing of great beauty and effect. The key point for me is that he wants you to let your natural instincts take over. When you’re standing over the ball, reviewing your swing thoughts, worried about the result of the shot, whether you can pull it off, and all the other self-talk you conjure up, none of that has anything to do with what you’re about to do—hit the golf ball.

If you can find a way at all to quiet that part of your brain, and just swing, you’ll play better golf and have more fun. You can learn a lot from Count Yogi, the man who made that his life’s message.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.

Sustained Excellence in Golf

I don’t write about professional golf very often because there is so much ink in magazines, and electrons in blogs, all repeating each other. There’s only so much news to report. So I wait until I see something different. Like this.

We tend to judge professional golfers by how many major tournaments they have won. The label nobody wants is “The Best Golfer Never to Win a Major.” One day I’ll write about the worst golfer ever to win one. But not today.

Today I want to talk about sustained excellence. Competition at elite levels is boggling. The difference between success and failure is so fine that you almost can’t see it.

Here are eight golfers who have one thing in common: Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, and Padraig Harrington.

Each of them has been in the top 50 of the world rankings for over 500 consecutive weeks. The list is in order by duration. Vijay has been in the top 50 for 911 weeks. That’s over 17 and a half years! Harrington will hit the ten-year mark, 520 weeks, the first week of April.

Each of these golfers has been able to be the best of the best year after year. So many golfers have come and gone in that time. These eight are still at the top and show no signs of slacking off.

Think of how variable your game is. Think of how hard it must be to maintain your game at an elite level when there are new guys coming out all the time trying to beat your butt.

To be so good for so long is a real accomplishment. Sustained excellence, to my mind, is a better way of measuring greatness than by the list of tournaments they might or might not have won.

See more at www.bettergolfbook.com.