Building the Game of Golf

Finally, there is movement to build the game of golf and bring more people to our wonderful game.  First Mickelson and then Nicklaus brought it into the open that the courses have gotten too hard and discouraging to beginners.

On a recent sales trip to Europe, I found a “course” for those who want to try out golf and/or just have a great time.  It is called Swin-Golf and it was adjacent to a full 18 hole golf course in Germany.

The idea of it is to have fun.  That’s it.  Just have fun.  Don’t need a handicap.  Don’t need the right clothes.  Don’t even need golf clubs.  Your equipment includes two balls and one club.  It is a blast!

This particular course was about the length to what in the US we would call a Par Three, or Social Nine, or Short Course.  The par is established and there were par 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s.  The club is designed for right or left-handed hitters and is used on the green as a mallet putter.  The putting cup was about 8” in diameter in a green that is cut in concentric circles.  I don’t think that conditions are of utmost concern.

At this particular course, you were welcome to take a wagon with you for purposes of transporting your beer or whatever else you felt you could not live without over the course of an hour or two.

Quite frankly, Swin-golf was not unlike our miniature golf experience.  It’s not something that I would think one would play on a regular basis though I am sure there are leagues.  It is however, a great first exposure to the challenge and fun the game of golf offers.

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Got ice?

Good year for ice rinks of the homebuilt kind.  Couple years ago, I asked members of our MGCSA to submit photos of ice rinks they had made either at their course or at home.  Got some great photos.  Seems Minnesota isn’t the only state that likes to skate.

Adama Ikamas, CGCS sent in a photo from Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa in Thompsonville, MI.  It is about 50′ x 80′.  150 to 200 hours are spent maintaining it each winter.  A 1″ hand watering hose and nozzle are used and of course some good old cold weather.

Michael Stachowicz, Superintendent at Dedham Country and Polo Club in Dedham, MA, sent in photos of the rink they maintain for their members.  There is a lot of care that goes into their rink, but it really is enjoyed and used.  They use a mini Zamboni called a Bambini … which has really improved their ice.

Andrew Carlson, Assistant Superintendent at TPC of the Twin Cities, sent in photos of the rinks, yes that is plural, they make two.  The small rink 90′ x 45′ is used for boot hockey.  The large rink 150′ x 60′ is used for ice hockey.  They bring in the big lights too.

It snowed and snowed and snowed…

So much so that the roof of the Metrodome collapsed.  Had happened before but this time it wasn’t going to be fixed and re-inflated very quickly and in fact has not as of now.  And the Vikings had a home game the next day.  It was decided to move the game to a neutral venue and so they played a “home game” at Ford Field in Detroit. 

 The very next week, the Bears were to come in town and the Vikings were having their 50th Anniversary Team announced.  Big game and celebration and what to do?   

It was decided to play it in the new TCF Stadium, home of the Minnesota Gophers.  What?  No way!  Here is a stadium, having been put to bed for the winter covered with feet of snow.  Yes feet! Not just the field but also the 50,000 seats and concourses – everywhere.  I must admit I was one of those who thought it wouldn’t happen, couldn’t happen.  I guess I underestimated the capability of Mike McDonald, CSFM, U of M, Turf manager.

Mike has put together a time-lapse video of the whole process (the link is below). He also provided the photos and following information for this blog.   

  •  255 tri-axle and super-7 truckloads of snow
  • 4.5 million pounds of snow that if all piled onto the field, the playing surface would be covered with 20’
  • 4—2 million BTU heaters were used to blow under the tarp
  • Some 1400 workers cleared snow from off the bleachers

Even though it was bitterly cold and snowing once again, the game was played on an outstanding surface.  The stands were completely filled.  Mike, congratulations to you and your crew for orchestrating the impossible!

A side note:  Brett Favre wasn’t expected to play then came out warmed up and played the 1st quarter or so and got hurt.  It turns out it was the last game he played for the Vikings and most likely his career.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKZnYkY1uXk

Ever get angry with yourself?

I do. It’s when I let the outcome of a game or season in MN sports get me down.

A sign seen at Yankee Stadium last Saturday night.

I should be used to it, but like Charlie Brown, I keep thinking that this time Lucy won’t pull the ball away at the last minute. So I am trying to become a fair weather fan in spite of sharing season tickets to the Twins and Wild.

I am actually very successful at it when it comes to our basketball team, MN Timberwolves, who are (maybe not) arguably the worst team in the NBA.  Their ownership actually released a statement that MN fans should not expect a championship season this year. THAT caught us all by surprise!

MN Twins: so we’ve been in playoffs something like 6 out of last 8 years. When your team has been swept by the same team (Yankees) in the last three ALDS appearances, it gets a bit old.

1991 seems like forever ago.

How about the MN Vikings? I have anxiously awaited the opening kick-offs in 4 Super Bowls only to be disappointed in all 4. Add to that the years I lived in Denver and loved the Broncos who also started out 0-4 in Super Bowls. So that is 0-8! And this year? We’re on the road to what, with our 1-3 record?

Finally, our MN Wild hockey team, after selling out every game in their 10 year history, is now facing some empty seats and a team that seems little better than the non playoff teams of the past years. And this is in a league where most every team makes the playoffs.

Should I go on and discuss the hapless U of MN football team or their underachieving hockey and basketball teams? See, now I am getting angry with myself for caring.

Damn Exercise!

After my last physical, I am now on notice that I need to cut down food and alcohol consumption and to begin exercising.  I hate to exercise.  I love to play sports, the more physical the better but I hate exercising.  Nothing is more boring, or at least that is what I am thinking when I stop wondering what excuse I can use to quit.  And, it never feels good, especially compared to sitting on the couch with a cold one, or most anything else for that matter!

But, I have no choice now and so have hired a personal trainer to show me the correct way to exercise and more importantly, hold me accountable.  I am dreading the first session but figured maybe if I looked the part, he will cut me some slack.  So I think I have the outfit figured out: new bright white tennys, leotards with the striped stockings covering my shins, a pair of Lycra shorts, an Under Armor shirt, wristbands and sweatband.  All of the above to be color coordinated.  Of course, I will need a pulse monitor and the obligatory water bottle.  I learned all this by watching a TV exercise program where a slew of hard bodies are working out.  How come they never show real people like me, 30 pounds overweight, struggling through the most basic program?

Just thinking about all of the above wears me out.  I am heading back to the couch and another cold one.

Golf 2010

Rounds are down, revenues are down, and the number of golfers is down. Can it all be blamed on the economic downturn? Surely some if not a lot attributed to job insecurity if not just plain lack of disposable income. However, when the dust settles and we head into a growth period, will the game be back as before? It will be back but to what extent?

The demographics seem to support a surge in golfers as more and more baby boomers retire, maybe not as soon as they had planned, but retire they will. I am in that group and after actually burning out a number of years ago, I am ready to buy new sticks in 2010 and hit the links. 

Very good public courses are plentiful, privates are cutting deals for new members and it is still a social activity for both pleasure and business. Once folks settle into this age of internet connectivity and business picks up, I believe time will be made for a round of golf. If I have a concern, it is the connectivity I referred to above. Will folks be able to leave the iPhone and Blackberry’s in the car, or will they meld the two together? How will it affect the game? That is the question.

Wagering has begun

The MN Vikings moved one step closer to a Feb 7th Super Bowl appearance but the real betting is not whether they can beat New Orleans and get there.  No, the real wagering is on whether Brett Favre will retire or not when the Vikings season is over!  The betting is fast and furious with the line changing so quickly that only one of the overweight guys in the dark clothes and sunglasses at a Vegas sports book can keep up.  Will he retire?  Will he retire and then un-retire? With what team?  When will he decide?  There is action to go around and the changing odds are being watched closer than a very drowsy prison guard who has carelessly left his key ring and gun within reach of the prisoner in cell 27.

After 1 of Brett's 4 TD passes

In addition to the next game there is lots of water cooler talk about who would take a retired Favre’s position next year.  In fact, the two contenders Sage Rosenfels and Tavaris Jackson were seen arguing about who was most inept at that position.  Seems Rosenfels won the argument when he accepted Jackson’s excuse for what would have been the tying turnover.  Tavaris claimed he didn’t fumble in game 3 but rather, he purposely set the ball on the ground to wipe off his hands before picking it back up and promptly being thrown for a 15 yard loss.

And so it is here in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, the State that is not participating in global warming.  As for me, I am just looking forward to the GIS in San Diego!