GolfToons 52 - Blame the Equipment

“It’s not me, can’t be”

You gotta blame something when a simple shot goes astray. Fat shots, hosels, thin-to-win, pulls, pushes, ducks, s***** and worm burners. The ball is just sitting there, how hard can it be? Especially if you practice.

But the errant shot happen to every golfer, at every level. Hello Sergio.

How many times have you seen an outfielder muff a fly ball and as he walks back to his position, he looks at his glove. Like it was the glove’s fault. It’s human nature.

“It’s not me, can’t be”

That’s why when our clubs go ‘clubbing’ they often complain about getting blamed for OUR lousy swings.

Taking responsibility for your own mistakes is an oft repeated lesson in golf. But a lesson that never seems to gain permanence.

More likely is a visit to the golf store for a remedy or quick fix. And a trip to the garage for your driver.

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GolfToons 51 - Monster Drive

Big hitters. The guys that take a deep breath and you know they’re ready to launch one.

Grip it and Rip it!

Like ‘Big Hitter, the Lama. Long.’ for you Caddyshack lovers.

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These same gents can get a tad sensitive when they push the ball two fairways to the right, or pull a screaming low, hot hook that makes a sound resembling a migratory waterfowl. Monster drivers run hot.

The tee game is so important. Hitting the green in regulation is so much easier from the fairway, than from behind a tree in the rough. Some people learn this fact sooner than others.

Watching the various Long Drive contests you see what can be done with a golf ball. The incredible distance, as well as the dangers of trying to hit the long ball.

 Are you a Monster Driver or are you a Fairway Finder?

GolfToons 48 - Better Lucky than Good

We’ve all experienced luck on the course. The sculled iron that somehow nestles up on the green 6 feet from the pin. Or a shot that ricocheted off a tree back into the fairway. Or the always tricky play off the ball washer.

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The most incredible piece of luck I witnessed was when a friend hit a slightly errant drive that bounced off a pool cage screen, shot straight up into the air, landed on a cart path and then bounced another hundred yards, coming to rest 80 yards from a par 4 green.

He still bogeyed the hole. But that might have gone viral if I had caught it on video.

What’s the luckiest shot you’ve experienced or witnessed?

GolfToons 21 - Bird Grip

There are many ways to hold a putter, probably as many grips as there are putters available on the market.  Everyone must feel comfortable over their putt, and find confidence in the tools of their trade. 

 Some putters or some grips can send a different message, especially to opponents or nemesis you may find in your foursome.

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We golfers are a quirky tribe.  Spending four hours with someone with slightly annoying tendencies, can be unbearable at times. 

After 18 holes, an irksome habit can get quite amplified.  Minor tension can grow to mutterings, cursing, sarcasm and outright contempt.  At times, combatants must be separated, and real danger is possible from questionable errant shots.    

 Things can get out a hand on the golf course.  GolfToons likes the idea of everybody getting along, enjoying this great game in Eden-like settings. 

Though if a subtle, hidden message makes you feel more comfortable or confident in making an important putt, then by all means grip as you like.

GolfToons 14 - Putting Emotions

On the 18th green at the 2018 Evian Championship, Angela Stanford struck a beautiful putt that curled around the cup. “The best possible putt she could have hit without it going in” said one of the announcers.

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Stanford needed the putt for a share of the lead.  She took two steps away from the hole, went into a crouch and then held her head in her hands for a moment, rebounded to a single hand covering her mouth, then quickly tapped in her par.  Angela Stanford went on to win her first major championship at the age of 40, but she demonstrated some of the contortions we make on the putting green during and after we putt. 

The last group in this tournament had three players with opportunities to tie Stanford and as each one watched their putts fail to find the cup, they exhibited additional variations of “putting emotions” poses.

First, Mo Martin with a putter swing, left leg step-out and back into a knuckle bite.   Then Sei Young Kim with a frozen body, head nod and then a deep exhale.

Finally, Amy Olson with heavy blink, a putter slap and then a glance to the heavens.  Great golf with a dramatic finish. 

We all contribute a little twist or stretch to help our putts.  A little something to slow down or speed up, or some other form of encouragement to get the ball closer to the hole.  Impossible to practice, this is an indication of who the putter really is, and like the lines on your palm or snowflakes, no two are alike.

We will save the Tiger fist-pumps or the 1 legged, ripped-sleeve Payne Stewart rain-pose for another Golf-Toon.  Congratulations Angela!

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GolfToons 13 - Hit it and Hope

Every now and then you face a putt that beckons words like intimidating or unnerving. The down hill left to right slider. The up-hiller that crests midway, then accelerates to a killer downhiller. Or the dreaded short but hard-breaker, also known as the heartbreaker because anytime you miss a two footer it breaks your heart.

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At times like these you wish you had a caddie. But for most golfers we must forge alone. The one exception: Asking a playing partner in a team game for advice. Usually the advice is couched with something like: “...but I could be wrong”, “then again the grain might effect the break” or some other disclaimer. 

Just make your read, do your pre-putt routine and smoothly strike the ball. Hope you avoid the dreaded knee knocking come-backer.  Hope it finishes inside your comfort zone or better yet a tap-in.  

So just “Hit it and Hope”.

GolfToons 12 - Golf Mom

We can all envision the iconic 'Soccer Mom' and the minivan she drives hauling kids to countless practices, games and tournaments.  But what about the 'Golf Mom'?  

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The lesser known cousin that drives kids to the practice range, buys equipment, arranges lessons and pays for rounds of golf. Or the woman walking the course, cheering loudly during matches and picking up the vanquished when they stumbled in pursuit of their dreams.

One of the many beautiful parts golf is how often we see young professionals and junior golfers, when handed a trophy, take that moment to thank their moms. There is something inherent in the game that seems to instill core values and appreciation for those that helped to foster a love for golf. Pass this gift to the next generation, please.

Now is it crazy to think the pivotal figure in growing the game we all love might just be the tired and stressed out 'Golf Mom' in the van in front of you at the traffic light? No, not crazy at all. Thanks Mom!

GolfToons 11 - Golf Gnome

This is the flip side to our "In the Hole A-hole" - the "Not In the Hole."  You know, those dastardly putts that are on the perfect line, heading right at the hole, but comes up just short. The ball literally hangs on the lip of the cup. Perilously dangling on the edge of a cliff.

Give it a couple seconds! It will fall. It must! The PGA allows 10 seconds. You give it 11 but alas you swat the ball into the cup in disgust. 

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What kept the ball from falling in the hole?  It could be gravity or some other law of physics. The blame certainly can't be yours.

Something nefarious is afoot. Maybe a case of cursed luck? A rogue wind? Or maybe, just maybe, those "little people" the Irish speak of: goblins, fairies and elves. Surely you heard a tiny little laugh emanating from the hole. Chuckling at your misfortune. Denying you your lucky charms.

We like to call it the "Golf Gnome" and our hope is he is somewhere else when our next 30-footer is tracking!

GolfToons 10 - The "In the Hole" A-hole

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You know the guy. The a-hole standing in the gallery who yells " In the hole! " at the tournaments. It doesn't matter if it's a drive on a 660 yard par five or if the player is hitting a ball sideways just to get it into the fairway, this guy is going to yell, " In the hole! "

But just who is this dude? I have a hunch that he must be using this refrain throughout his life and daily going-ons. 

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GolfToons 9 - Got it

Golf is truly a journey in pursuit of excellence. The struggle this pursuit poses drives us to seek remedies from a multitude of sources. We click on emails saying “Add 20 yards to your drive” or “never chunk a chip again” or “take 5 strokes off with this simple technique.”  

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Golfers seemingly will spend whatever it takes, whether money or time or both, to find the cure of what ails their game. And armed with this new solution we head to the course brimming with confidence. Ready to unleash the new club or put to use the innovative technique you read about in a magazine. And sometimes they work. 

But maybe more indicative of a real golfer is when the new thing fails and we continue our pursuit of excellence. Who knows, maybe that article you read was right. 

GolfToons 8 - Swing Thoughts

Wiser minds tell us to, "Quiet your mind and try not to think when swinging the club." Or they tell you "It's best to have a single swing-thought for your entire round." But when you are playing, it is difficult to shut out all the things you think you need to do to execute a proper swing. Especially if you are doing so many things incorrectly. 

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And while thinking of something totally unrelated to golf might keep the golf swing demons at bay for a while, it might produce unexpected results if your "single thought" is a favorite meal and your full by the third hole. 

Maybe the old golf axiom "Play it as it lies" should be re-imagined as "Lie when you play."
So, just tell yourself your swing is o.k. even if it's not, and just swing.

GolfToons 7 - Uncle of Camilo Villegas

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Of all the facets of the game, putting may be the most mystifying and varied. Putter designs are myriad. Grips range from the popular reverse overlap to the ominous sounding cross-handed reverse claw. 

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But the most baffling aspect of putting is reading greens. The conversations about a putt can invoke speed, roll, incline, grain, turf varieties, wind, temperature, and moisture. We seek knowledge from offhand remarks like “did you see the break at the end of that putt?” Sizing up a putt sparks a host of questions. 

My question is: “Who taught Camilo how to read greens?”

The answer is probably an entire community of people met on his golf journey. And may have included a crafty old uncle and a pilates instructor. So maybe take a moment to remember who you learned the game from, who taught you.  And thank them.