Earl's Recent Past Golf Blog's
January 1, 2021
New Year Hopes and Predictions
Wishing you and all your loved ones a Happy and Safe New Year. Hopefully the problems of 2020 will be behind us soon and life can again proceed as usual. What 2020 taught us is that life is precious and can easily be disturbed. Nothing should be taken for granted and we should treasure the gifts that we have. Good blessings to you all.
Golf surprisingly survived the year in pretty good shape. Golf rounds increased in record numbers. Golf courses showed up to a 25% increase in rounds played. The golf industry has been slowly declining for the past 10 years and as bad as this pandemic has been for people and businesses, it has been a bonanza for golf courses and merchandise sales.
The professional tours made it through the year without major cancelations and few Covid related problems. Three of the four majors were held and even without spectators, the events generated excitement and worthy champions. Tournaments in 2021 are looking to have more spectators attend their events, but they are going to ease into it slowly. All depends on the effectiveness of the vaccines and the infection rates. Golf is captivating even without the crowds, but the cheers and roars definitely add to the excitement. The players love playing to the crowds. Let's hope that will happen soon.
Hopes and Predictions for top players in 2021
Dustin Johnson – (Hope) Number one player in the world. Continue to be motivated to be considered one of the best players of his generation. (Prediction) Could be a year for multiple major victories.
Jon Rahm – (Hope) Older and wiser. He is now ready for the next step. (Prediction) A major victory should happen this coming year.
Justin Thomas – (Hope) 2020 was a great year, but no major victories. Time to win a major again. (Prediction) He will do it.
Rory McIlroy – (Hope) A better mental toughness approach. Improve his wedge and putting game. When all the stars align, he's the best. (Prediction) He will be good, but not great.
Bryson DeChambeau – (Hope) Love the commitment and pushing the envelope. (Prediction) Will do some amazing crazy things and be totally entertaining. Could rise to number one in world, but no majors this coming year.
Webb Simpson (Hope) #6 in world. Will continue to be consistent and in the mix. (Prediction) Will challenge, but come up short.
Collin Morikawa (Hope) 2020 will be tough to duplicate. I think he is up to it. (Prediction) Multiple wins and establish himself and one of the best players in the game.
Xander Schauffele (Hope) Collin's twin. Love his game. Needs a major to firmly establish greatness. (Prediction) A major will happen, just don't think it will happen this coming year.
Brooks Koepka (Hope) A healthy body, so he can go back to be the player we saw two years ago. (Prediction) Recovery from injuries is difficult. The swing changes and the body adjusts and it isn't quite the same, so it could take a longer time to regain his championship form, if ever.
Tiger Woods (Hope) That his body and desire will allow him to play more events this next year. Competition is now the one thing that he is lacking to truly compete for major titles. (Prediction) If he plays a full schedule, he could win another major. If not, I see at least one win that will surpass Sam Snead on the all-time win list.
The second tier of players on the PGA Tour is pretty impressive. Players like Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, and Rickie Fowler. Many have been top ten players with major victories. They could have comeback years and be major contenders again. Also in this group are the up and comers like Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, Tommy Fleetwood, Joaquin Niemann, Will Zalatoris, Cameron Champ and Byeong Hun An, who will be major stars in the future. Golf is unpredictable, which makes it the great game that it is. Each year, everyone starts off at the same point and the race will begins again. Let's hope there are not as many obstacles to overcome this coming year.
December 16, 2020
These Women are good!
This past week showcased the best women golfers in the world competing in the USGA Women's Open at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. As the week unfolded there were many storylines that kept your interest, but more so was the superb shotmaking that was on display. The ultimate winner birdied the last three holes to emerge with a one stroke victory. The general golfing public doesn't appreciate the skill level that these women possess.
Many years ago I started teaching a 15 year old girl that was trying out for her high school golf team. She had never played before, but picked it up quickly and soon fell in love with the game. In her senior year she finished third in the Colorado high school championships and earned a golf scholarship to Colorado State University. Upon graduating she turned professional and tried to get on the LPGA Tour. She didn't reach her goal, but did compete on the Futures Tour and did qualify for the 1999 US Women's Open that Judy Inkster won with a 16 under par total at Old Waverly Golf Club in Mississippi. The course played at a little over 6,400 yards to a par of 72. At the time her boyfriend was competing on what now is called the Korn Ferry Tour (PGA's second tour) and he caddied for her that week. He experienced up close how good these women can play. He said after that week that he would have had to play real well to shoot 16 under on that course. His ego was talking and I firmly believe Inkster would have easily beaten him by a lot given the tournament conditions and pressure.
I have been fortunate to play and been around a lot talented women golfers who competed and won at the highest levels. Their wins include US Women Opens, US Women Amateurs, Curtis Cup participants, major amateur events and LPGA tournaments. In the summer of 1977, I got to play often with Barbara McIntire, Tish Pruess, Nancy Roth Simms, Cindy Hill and Judy Bell at the Broadmoor where I was the teaching pro. I was very impressed with the total command of their swings, their dedication and love of the game. That summer was very enjoyable and I became more appreciative of the skill level of these wonderful women that I played with and had become friends with.
At La Quinta Country Club, where I was an assistant professional, Ernie Vossler, PGA professional, 3 time winner on the PGA Tour, and golf course developer, would teach Sandra Palmer, Betty Burfeindt, and Marlene Bauer Hagge and other LPGA and PGA professionals on the far end of the range at La Quinta. Whenever I had a chance I would sit and watch him teach and view these great golfers hit whatever shot he asked them to hit. Ernie made this statement; "If I needed one shot, and I had to bet my life on that shot, I would want Sandra Palmer to hit that shot". His faith in her says tons about his evaluation of her ability and mental fortitude!
Jerilyn Britz won the 1979 US Women's Open and competed on the LPGA Tour for over twenty-five years. She taught 12 years for VIP Golf Academy and was a great teacher and an even better person. Her best quote and one that I use all the time is, "Golf's not difficult, it's just hard to do!" All of the women golfers that I have been fortunate to have gotten to know have added to my knowledge and understanding of the golf swing. The physical makeup maybe different, but at the root we are all golfers' intent on playing the best we can.
The women that played in last week's US Women's Open are really good and a lot better than we can comprehend. I wish there could be a level playing field so the average golfer could see how truly good they are compared to those on the PGA Tour. What you should do, if you have the opportunity, is to go to a LPGA event and see in person how skilled these players are and what you can learn. How they do it is probably more translatable to the average man or woman than the players on the PGA Tour.