Bryson’s new tactics seem to pay off

In the past months Bryson DeChambeau had put up some extra weight in order to get to a physique he could drive the ball farther than everybody else. Did he manage to?

Well, the Charles Schwab Challenge is not over while I write this, so it’s a bit early to assess but from what I saw yesterday and today, it’s fair to say that DeChambeau had quite a transformation in the lockdown weeks. He must have found some weights in his basement to play around with.

So, that transition: It didn’t make him a nice guy or a more bearable guy, not even a faster guy in the sense of pace of play, but he truly looks like Popeye now with huge extra weight on.

Continue reading Bryson’s new tactics seem to pay off

Live TV golf back in the game

After weeks and months of absence, pro golf is back on tour, back on telly and back in our hearts. It was about time, if you’d ask me.

2020 is a crazy year. It has been so far and seems to continue to make its way into history books on so many levels. Life, as we know it, came to a halt and so many beautiful factors of daily things were taken away from every one of us—including golf.

Not only was golf forbidden to play, it was of course also for the professionals, hence there was no live TV coverage for such a long time.

But that changed now. With the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club we have the first of pro event back in live TV. The PGA Tour being first out there, made a good effort with teasing the crowd in social media, as this tournament will–as all the others to come in the near future–be played under some new circumstances: Played without spectators, to start with.

I haven’t had much time to sit in front of the TV lately myself with this new COVID-19 home-office and child-care situation, but I seriously support the idea to bring pro golf back into play and back onto the screen.

I love my golf.tv subscription and can’t wait to see some of the events kicking in here on this side of the Atlantic, starting with a so-called “UK Swing” with six consecutive events in the UK, as announced by Keith Pelley, European Tour commissioner. Please read here.

The BMW Indoor Invitational at Royal Portrush

The European Tour is never shy to test out new things, be it a huge shot clock to incentivize a faster pace, or a new 6-hole team match format with a lot of background noise to attract new people to the sport.

Presumably the same folks came up with a new series of events which are somewhat driven by the fact that people are not able to go outside anymore to play golf following the rather strict COVID-19 rules and restrictions in every state of the world.

What that does is to facilitate Trackman’s functionalities together with a famous course that is played virtually. It’s a professional battle on different grounds than usually but it’s still active golf, playing indoors against a huge screen.

Clearly putting and bunker game is necessary to adapt for the virtual world, but it’s impressive how modern technology can cater to establish a very similar feeling to real life golf. Of course there will never be a real alternative to play outside on real courses but you get close to the feeling anyway when you don’t have access to a course or just simply are not allowed to play.

I believe this is a great way to entertain the golf fan masses, much more than these selfie-like pro tip videos that you saw lately. Personally I could pass on those if you’d ask me.

Oh and by the way, Connor Syme took the lead by two shots:

So what do you think of those virtual indoor tournaments? Yay or nay? And what did you do to get in golf shape this year during lockdown? Anything special to share?

Brexit is done…

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…and you can think or lean towards which side you want, leave or remain, your choice, but you all have to agree that it’s going to be and look weird when in a couple of months time, 12 Europeans, including English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish will enter the stage under the European flag, walking the arena to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 as the Anthem of Europe, waiving blue-yellow flags and telling reporters how proud they are to play and compete for their continent.

European continent that is, not the European Union – rocking the same flag though.

USA wins 2019 Presidents Cup

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch a single second of this year’s Presidents Cup due to private and family commitments.

What I did check however were scores along the way. So I am aware that the USA team has been coming from behind just on the final day Sunday. And I also believe congratulations are in order.

The Presidents Cup always has been an event in the shadow of the Ryder Cup. It was this year when I had the feeling that this event somehow increased its media coverage and found its way to mass media coverage a bit more, compared to the last events, maybe for the wrong reasons though…

This edition of the cup obviously was a kind of special one. Ernie Els, team captain of the Internationals, asked local spectators in Australia to not root for Tiger Woods and his boys but rather cheer for the Internationals.

Then there was the incident with Patrick Reed just days before the tournament and this clearly didn’t calm the waves. On the contrary, I was told there have been many people shouting nasty things towards the US boys, in particular to Reed.

Who’s to blame? Well, it’s a team event and with that comes a certain degree of enthusiasm and volume that can be helpful for one side, but can at the same time be very hurtful for the other. It’s something that golf in general is not very used to.

Unfortunately this might be the topic of the week and will long be in the people’s mind looking back at this event. Generally I take off my hat to the Americans for winning this after they were behind for almost the whole time.

Congratulations! Well done! Can’t wait for the next edition of the Ryder Cup now!

Golf needs more celebrity tournaments

I wanted to write this for quite a while but so many things came jeopardizing it to some extent. But it is as true as it was some weeks back really, when the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship took place.

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I doubt it, but in case you are not familiar with the tournament, it’s a proper European Tour event, this year end of September. There is another Alfred Dunhill Championship taking place in South Africa every year, but here I’m talking about the Scottish links variant of the tournament.

There are multiple things that make this tournament so special:

  1. The courses
  2. The players
  3. The vibe

So let’s discuss all that and what it does to golf, the sport, the industry, the marketing and the general public perception as I believe you can’t really underestimate its effect(s).

Continue reading Golf needs more celebrity tournaments

What if Kaymer could putt like Cabrera-Bello

I stumbled over some statistics on the European Tour website the other day and couldn’t resist to do some number crunching. It wasn’t scientifically accurate but interesting nonetheless. Let me give you the basics.

I’m talking about these two numbers:

kaymer_cabrerabello

Being German myself, I feel for Kaymer’s recent plummet and while I wish him well, at the same time I strongly believe he didn’t do himself a big favor to change his swing a couple of years ago while he was in his prime. It was unnecessary (in my humble opinion) and definitely the wrong timing.

But anyway, the story is told, Kaymer kept dropping and dropping in all rankings imaginable.

Looking at the number above (from 17 Nov 2019) 77.9% GIR is a pretty impressive number. On nearly 8 out of 10 holes he puts the ball onto the green in regulation for a birdie putt—which he then mostly misses. Why else would he drop to 68th spot in the Race to Dubai or 118th in the OWGR with 17 tournaments played!

So in other words, he gets the ball onto the dance floor but then fails to execute.

Rafa Cabrera Bello on the other hand shines with a stunning 27.7 average putts per round figure. That’s not more than 1.5 putts per hole on average. Rafa is 21st in the Race to Dubai and 37th in the OWGR with 18 tournaments played.

Now imagine Kaymer could not only put the ball on the green but also putt like Rafa. There’s no easy way to calculate this but by approximation let’s just presume on 14 holes he needs 1.53 and on the rest he’d need 2 putts. That would translate into this staggering calculation:

14 holes GIR + 14 * 1.53 putts + 4 holes with 2 putts (assuming an 18 hole golf course) = 65.42. Even rounded up, Kaymer would still have a stroke average of 66. Rory McIlroy, current 2nd in the world, momentarily has a stroke average of 68.6…

This obviously shows the small likelihood of occurrence, that one player is equally strong in long and short game and at the same time a world class putter, too.

But it doesn’t hurt to dream!

GOLF.TV – the one big thing golf fans waited for

For the last years during which I refrained from paying pathetically high subscription fees for Sky, I paid from time to time a week ticket for Sky Ticket, which is basically the stripped-down version of Sky for those who want to pay-per-view.

It was easy to do, easy to use and I bought such week ticket usually for the bigger tournaments such as majors, when I thought I had time to sit down and watch some golf. That’s not given during the day with a 2-year old toddler which is supposed to only watch one episode of Peppa Pig a day.

I seriously dislike Sky for all what they are doing, for their price policy, their stupid apps and all business decisions they take. In 2019 however, as an infrequent Sky Ticket user, I was offered a multi-month subscription free of charge. ‘Why’ you will ask would they do that. Well it’s the football break in Europe that time and I reckon they fired out free subscriptions as a Marketing gig. If they’d be smart enough they would have checked that I never watched a single football match and sticked to golf only.

Clearly I didn’t complain and was able to watch the Masters, the PGA Championship, the US Open and The Open Championship for no charge at all.

After that period I dropped out of Sky Ticket again and was kind of relieved to be honest, even tough I had no chance to watch golf anymore.

Then I finally found golf’s broadcasting holy grail and since then love every minute of that experience. Let me explain why.

Continue reading GOLF.TV – the one big thing golf fans waited for

My take on the OWGR Top 10 of 2019

What I really like about golf is not only playing the game for myself but also to cheer for one or the other professional player. I try to see some pro tournaments on TV which is not easy with a full business and family life, but I do have some favorite players that I follow, double-tap on Instagram and support in other ways.

Compared to other sports like football I seriously appreciate the fact that rooting for one player not at all means that I hate everybody else in the field—a behavior which unfortunately is so predominant in football.

Anyway, I like playing golf and I like support a handful of golf players. It’s a gentleman’s sport throughout and spectators should be included in the equation. I’m aware that the Ryder Cup or the Solheim Cup might be sort of an exception, where two continents, two teams clash together and the situation is artificially hyped to an extreme. It’s different from the rest, one could say.

Brooks Koepka
Current world’s no. 1: Brooks Koepka | (c) golfweek.com

Coming back to the normal tour schedule, players earn points according to their stats in the weekly events. The better they play, the more they earn, the more points they receive. Easy as that.

Translated in a ranking of points earned globally on any given tour, this adds up to the current standing on the official world golf ranking high-score list. Please find below the 2019 season ending top 10, enriched with my personal view on the person in question:

Continue reading My take on the OWGR Top 10 of 2019

Slow play is killing the game

Not just since the most recent discussions about Bryson DeChambeau’s or J.B. Holmes’ approach to slow play, it has been a hot topic on tour.

What is slow play, why is it dangerous for our beloved sport and how could the tours increase the pace of play, watch this.

I’d consider myself a quick player: I don’t do practice swings at all, neither on the tee, nor on the green, I have a quick decision process what clubs to take and I’m a fast walker. For me the only things that take a second is to plan the shot (shaping) and to get distances right.

For the latter I highly recommend GPS devices such as watches or handheld products, or the good old laser. There’s a blog post coming on that soon, so please check back and have a read.

Playing in a group of course creates some dependencies to other players but there are measures to speed up: Ready golf is one, leaving the flag stick in is a second. And before you ask, yes there’s a blog post coming on that one too!