Take a Step Toward Walking the Course

walkingLove, love the golf cart – that mini-car of camaraderie and competition. The cross-course quickness, the searching and circling for lost balls, the charging up ahead to see what’s what – love it all! The wind in our hair! Stowed snacks! Scorecard and pencil at the ready.

Walking the course brings another rhapsody – about building fitness and health, and being one with the golf course. No doubt about it, 18 holes (6 miles, estimated) is a long walk. But take heart, there are ways to bring fitness and the close-to-the-course feel to any round, even when carts are required.

TIPS TO BECOME A WALKING GOLFER

  • Walk the front 9, ride the back 9.
  • Take turns walking. Let your cart partner drive to the next hole or ball while you hoof it. Then switch places. Many of my super-smart golfer friends do this – love it.
  • Keep it light. If you’re walking, use a pushcart. Only bring the clubs and balls you need.
  • Love your feet. Be sure you have comfy, light supportive shoes.
  • Water! Bring it, drink it. Staying hydrated is smart.

Even 30 minutes a day of walking can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, increase energy and stamina, reach weight-loss goals and improve bone strength according to the American Council on Exercise. Find opportunities to incorporate fitness into your round – it’s a winning golf strategy!

Respect for the Golf Course

Ever watch an outstanding golfer taking care of business around the course? It’s a thing of beauty and inspiration – and we’re not talking about awesome swings and low scores. As we head into the heart and heat of the summer season, let’s hear it for the players who treat the course with care.

It’s not easy being green … a golf course takes a tremendous beating. A properly repaired ball mark takes only a day to mend – it’ll be a 3-week scar if we don’t do it right. Those lifeless sods of turf on the fairway are sad testament to players who didn’t take 15 seconds to replace and repair divots. Bunkers – there IS a proper way to rake them. And cart damage – don’t get us started down that path!

USGA has good tips on course care: Being a Good Player Does Not Make You a Good Golfer

Golf’s a game of R-E-S-P-E-C-T – for traditions and honor, for partners and competitors, for the meaningful moments and indescribable pleasures the game gives us. Let’s give back by taking care of business around the course. Leave it better than we found it, smooth the way for all who follow us, and gladden the hearts of grounds superintendents everywhere.

3 Take-Aways From the LPGA Volvik Championship

JutanugarnCongratulations to Volvik winner, Ariya Jutanugarn, who posted a third consecutive LPGA Tour win. Our games will never, ever reach the heady heights of the women who played in our local LPGA event, but take heart. There’s info and insights from the week we can apply to our own games, however humble they may be.

3 Take-Aways from the Volvik Championship

  1. Be flexible – Make a game plan to fit the situation. Jutanugarn is one of the longest hitters on the tour, but Travis Pointe held too many risks for her usual game. “It’s really hard for me because I can’t hit my driver and I really have to have a good game plan,” she said.
  2. Learn to play with pressure. Known for her final round meltdowns and 10 missed cuts last year, Jutanugarn has worked on her mental game. ”I didn’t know how to control when I got very nervous,” she said. Rather than simply relying on her pre-shot routine, Jutanugarn’s coaches have taught her to focus on slower tempos and less tension in the shoulders. Find a go-to shot that feels comfortable. Jutanugarn birdied 4 of the last 6 holes!
  3. Good sportsmanship is never out of style. Finishing her winning round, the victor was swarmed by other players spraying her with water. Runner-up Christina Kim remarked, “There really hasn’t been a player like her in my generation. The way she powers the ball, it’s remarkable. And she has such imagination around the golf course and incredible touch. She’s kind and she’s got a beautiful smile. Honestly, I can’t say enough about her.”

Build a Post-Shot Golf Routine

Do you follow up a lousy golf shot with a string of excuses, remarks, angry antics, frustrated curses?  Maybe an embarrassed laugh or turning away from the sight of that sad trajectory is your personal MO. Call me guilty. A post-shot routine is a way to maintain focus, reduce tension, and keep positive as we move to the next shot. It builds consistency throughout our round.

This season I’ve committed to working on my own end-of-shot routine, and here’s what I’ve discovered and humbly share.

A post-shot routine is a consistent procedure – a sequence of thoughts and movements – that a golfer performs after hitting a shot. Watch the pros, and you’ll see it again and again. It is personal to each golfer. Build your own sequence – and then repeat it shot to shot.

Here’s how a post-shot routine might go after a less-than-stellar shot:

  • Watch it, and take a moment to feel fully disappointed, annoyed, etc.
  • Take a deep breath and release those thoughts.
  • Release the tension. Gently tap your club on your shoe, the ground. Or create your own tension-release move.
  • Take a mental mulligan. Visualize the shot with a good result (enjoy!) and make a note of what you will do differently next time.
  • Move on, that poor shot is history. Snap all attention to the present and get on with it. Try the 10-step rule – be DONE with that shot after walking 10 steps away.

Good shots are way more fun than bad ones.

  • Congratulate yourself and enjoy the feeling.
  • Maybe add a specific action – a little fist pump – to fasten the feeling and take ownership.
  • Mentally replay the shot – swing, contact, trajectory, etc. Make a mental note of what went right.
  • Give yourself a cue to end the mental play –  “Good shot,” or a nod of the head.

The whole point of a post-shot routine is managing the mental – out with the bad, in with the awesome. That’s a golf attitude we all seek!

4 Reasons to Join a Golf League

Thinking about joining a golf league, but worried about being embarrassed? Or maybe you’re  seeking more structure in your golf, or more partners, or more fun/focus/competition? This post is for you …

There’s a golf league for EVERYONE – and now’s the time to join. Here’s reasons why:

  1. A League for Every Taste and Talent – There are leagues for learners and leagues for old hands, leagues geared for working folks, leagues that travel to the most challenging courses in the area, leagues that offer tournaments, morning leagues, evening leagues – you name it, you can find it.
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  2. Play More, Play Focused – Leagues put a golf date on our calendar so every week we’ve got at least one game. Plus, the structured format of league play makes us focus – you can’t get that exact, zoomed-in level of attention at a driving range.
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  3. Friends Indeed – League play opens up a world of new playing partners – and friends. You’re sure to find folks whose golf game attitudes match your own. And don’t forget about old friends – leagues can foster the bonds of those connections too.
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  4. Pay As You Go – Cost is typically based on how many events you choose to play.

Lessons from the Women’s US Open

U.S. Women's Open - Final RoundCompelling stories and take-away truths – watching the women play has never been so fun. American players are at full-throttle.
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5 Little Lessons from Watching the Ladies

  • Power to the putter
    Winner Michelle Wie didn’t have a 3-putt over 72 holes!
  • Bad shots happen. Smile and move on.
    Last day,16th hole – an unplayable lie and a clump of grass gave Wie a double bogey and whittled her lead to 1. She “moved on” to a 20 foot birdie putt on 17.
  •  Age is just a number
    Juli Inkster, 54, playing her 35th Open, carded a four-under-par 66 on Saturday, and finished tied 15th. Lucy Li, qualifying for this national event at age 11, ate ice cream during her interviews.
  •  Be happy for the winner
    After Wie’s final putt dropped Sunday, 4 players raced to the green with joyful congratulations.
  •  Win or lose, good or bad, there’s always next time
    Following the Open, top-ranked Stacy Lewis won the NW Arkansas, as Wie faded and couldn’t keep her lead.

How To Keep Your Golf Grips Dry

Grippy, not slippy!

June was remarkably rainy (4th rainiest on record in Ann Arbor area) and July is starting out distinctly damp.  Super-thick rough and rescheduled outings are facts of life this sodden summer – but wet golf grips, now there’s a problem we can do something about.
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A slippery grip is a lousy connection to the club. So, whether it’s the morning dew or an afternoon cloudburst, here are 7 tips to keep your grips nice and dry.

  1. Don’t be timid about the towels. Grab some extras and stow them IN YOUR BAG where they stay dry.
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  2. Keep off the (Wet) Grass. I always admire my savvy friends who never let the grip of an extra club lie on the wet, dewy grass.  They place it on a towel or prop it up on a tee while making their next shot.  Everyone should have golf-smart friends who lead by example.
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  3. Gloves galore. An extra glove or two in your bag is peace of mind.  If the glove you’re wearing gets wet, just swap it out.
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  4. Cover up. Most bags come with a rain cover.  Use it!  A cover keeps rain from seeping down into the depths of the bag, to those hard-to-dry places where your grips lie.
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  5. Invest in a golf umbrella and holder for your cart. This rig keeps the umbrella over your bag, keeping things dry.  Plus, you don’t have to put the umbrella down on the ground when you make a shot.
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  6. Look the part. I love the way the pros’ caddies keep a towel under the umbrella, hanging it from the spokes, high and dry and ready to give a grip a good rub.
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  7. Rain Gloves. For really wet conditions, get a hold of a pair of rain gloves.  Footjoy makes a nice pair and for about $20 you can really get a grip on your clubs and your game.

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Learning to Play on the Golf Course

Play Your Way
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The beauty of golf is that players of very different skill levels can play together and have a marvelous outing.  The key is maintaining a good pace of play and keeping it fun for all.  Maybe you are a new golfer, just learning the game or, a seasoned golfer eager to take a new player out on the course.  Here are 7 suggestions to help ensure a great time for everyone in your group – and the group in back of you too!

  1. Who doesn’t love a scramble?! Everyone plays from the best ball position every shot.  Team spirit, low stress.
  2. Create a Forward, Forward Tee. Tee it up at the 150 marker at each hole.
  3. Get Me Outta Here.  If you land in trouble – bunker, woods – just place your ball back in the fairway.
  4. Time Out. If your mind is melting in frustration or boredom, sit out a hole.  Help your group by looking for balls, minding the flag, etc.
  5. Tee for Me. Tee your ball up in the fairway.  It’s easier to hit and everyone loves a well-struck ball.
  6. Pick It Up. Put your ball in your pocket after 8 to 10 shots – or fewer if you’re using too much time.
  7. Play Five Shots Only Golf. On each hole take one tee shot, one fairway shot, one chip and two putts.  Place the ball where you like for each shot.  You’re practicing all kinds of shots.

The inspiration for this post came from the blog, Women On Course – Tales From the Tee.
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The Good Golf Partner – A Fine Art

There’s a personal pantheon of folks I love to play golf with.They have that spot-on combo of thoughtfulness and golf smarts.Some have a great game of golf and others are almost beginners.What they have in common is the fine art of being a good golf partner.

After you’ve trekked together over hill and dale, missing shots, finding hazards, taking penalties, are there smiles for the mission accomplished? That’s what a good partner brings to the game.

Here are some good partner habits worth acquiring…

Be on Time
There’s so much to think about on the first tee – “Where is my partner?” shouldn’t be in anyone’s mental mix.Get to the course early with plenty of time for all the pre-game details.Orderly and unrushed – that’s a great way to start a round together.

Be Quick
We’re not talking speed golf here, just an ever-efficient mindset.Gauge yardage, select a club, read greens while others are playing – when it’s your turn, you’re ready. Be smart with your cart too.

Attitude is everything.
No matter how you’re playing, keep it upbeat.Stressed out?No sharing.Your bad mood is no one’s idea of a good day on the golf course.

4 Eyes Are Better Than 2
Always track the path of everyone’s ball, and join in the search when a ball is lost.

Mind the Flagstick
Simple, yes.Overlooked, often. If you’re closest to the pin, pull it.If you putt out first, move over near the flagstick so you can pick it up and replace it when everyone’s done.It’s all about efficiency and doing your part.

Be Prepared
An extra ball marker, energy bar, the tab for the snack cart, those are the little kindnesses a good partner has at the ready and offers up at just the right moment.The small, thoughtful gesture goes far on the golf course.

Just Don’t Offer Up Any Unsolicited Golf Advice
The reasons are too numerous, and the consequences too complex to mention.Unless you’re a golf pro, keep your personal “6 Sure Steps to a Better Golf Swing” all to yourself.

And last, but surely not least …
Raise a glassto the good golf partner, she of generous gestures and bullet-proof humor
. Long may we appreciate what she does for our golf game!

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Leslie Park Golf Course – Ann Arbor Golf Gem

North of town, and just this side of heaven, lies one of Ann Arbor’s true treasures – Leslie Park Golf Course.  Put it on your Places-to-Golf list this season; you won’t be sorry. Golf Digest recently gave Leslie 4 1/2 stars as a Best Place to Play, but did you know that it is top of the leader board in environmental excellence?

Recently Leslie achieved the designation of Certified Cooperative Audobon Sanctuary for Golf Courses.The course has earned distinction in environmental planning, wildlife & habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation and water quality management.Scott Spooner, LPGC Superintendent, has led the charge and is being recognized for Environmental Stewardship by Audobon International.

“One of my favorite parts of the certification process has been the community outreach. It’s great to be able to show our community that golf courses can be good stewards of the environment,”said Scott.

Additionally, Leslie is certified in the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program.It is only the second course in the state to be certified in Audobon’s program and the Michigan Turfgrass program.

Next time you tee it up at LPGC, take a minute to look around and appreciate its environmental excellence.A tip of the cap to everyone who has worked hard to make us so proud of our hometown gem!
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And…

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  • Check out Tree Town Turf Guy blog, “life of a golf course superintendent for the City of Ann Arbor.”  Scott Spooner, Leslie Superintendent, tells all about maintaining a top-flight course.

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