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#savetheoldcourse

11/27/2012 0 comments

We've recently encountered golf architecture's version of Occupy Wall Street: #savetheoldcourse. In case you haven't heard, the St. Andrews Links Trust, the charitable organization that exists to manage the courses and protect the history and spirit of the Home of Golf, recently announced that it was making significant changes to the Old Course. All of this seems to be motivated by making the course better suited (tougher, sloggier, able to accept faster green speeds, etc.) for championship play in preparation for the 2015 Open Championship.

Martin Hawtree, who comes across as Smithers to R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson's Mr. Burns, has earned the Old Course commission. A press release went out just last Friday outlining all of the proposed changes, some of which have already begun. The work includes expanding the Road Hole bunker and altering the slopes leading into the green and softening the undulations on the par 3 11th, perhaps the most replicated but never duplicated one-shotters on the planet.


Changing contours that have been untouched for years (if ever) has a number of people up in arms, including many leading architects in the industry. My BFF Tom Doak wrote a letter to American Society of Golf Course Architects asking them to join him in taking a stand against these changes. You can see a copy of Doak's letter here. Here's hoping that other big names will follow suit and take a stand for something worth fighting for.

There are other grass roots efforts going as well. A change.org petition has been started, and is nearing the 200 signature mark in its first day. Twitter is ablaze with back and forth chatter both adamantly against and frustratingly flaccid on the topic. I started the #savetheoldcourse hashtag a few days ago, and it is slowly gaining steam. Feel free to join the fray.

The timing of this issue is particularly interesting given the USGA/R&A's joint conference-call to ban belly-putters tomorrow. Once again, it seems the powers that be are focusing on the wrong issue. The advancements in equipment and golf ball have rendered a lot of classic courses moot -- either they have to find room for more tee boxes or they get left behind. Why are we carving up the most historic golf course of them all in order to appease the R&A for a tournament held four days every five years? Just because Louis Oostihuizen obliterated the course (and the field) two years ago?

Certainly, the belly putter will get plenty of airtime on GolfChannel's Morning Drive this week. But isn't there a bigger issue here? Desecrating the Old Course proves that nothing is sacred any more. Where do we go from here?

[For a running gallery of construction pics, check out this golfclubatlas.com thread]

Introducing: Can Jim Dunk?

10/27/2012 0 comments
A little side project to keep me busy during golf's offseason. Can Jim Dunk is about one man's quest to slam dunk a basketball before his 40th birthday. Check it out!


Ballyneal Panoramas

10/05/2012 0 comments

Thanks to the lovely new panorama feature on Apple's iOS 6, here are some recent pics out at Ballyneal. The pics with a little more vertical space were taken by my buddy Tim, who has the fancy new iPhone 5 and its additional real estate. Enjoy!


Swan Song or Streamsong?

9/22/2012 2 comments


The more things change, the more some things never change. Or something.

I'm not a smart man, but I do know one thing: best friends are hard to come by. That's why I'm particularly melancholy this week as yesterday my best friend, former college roommate, golf partner/adversary and brother from another mother boarded a Southwest flight with a one-way ticket to Florida. The Jefenator is gone.


Evolution of my golf course rankings, 1997 to 2012

7/14/2012 1 comments


File this under 'little or no interest to anybody in particular', but I came across an old spreadsheet from 2004 with some personal golf stats and scores, plus a personal ranking of all of the golf courses I had played up to that point. It was somewhat amusing to take a stroll back in time when Pete Dye and Tom Fazio ruled the land and a tree-lined parkland course with a 151 slope was my definition of ideal.

A little further digging around unearthed other rankings files for most years between 1997 (88 courses played) to 2012 (325). Obviously a lot has changed since over the last 15 years, and my rankings have really evolved over time. In fact, there isn't a single course in my current top 20 that was around in the original list in 2000.

It's a bit embarrassing to show, but below is a google doc link with my rankings evolution in full glory. Admittedly I need to go in and clean up the more recent version a bit; I haven't really paid much attention outside the top 35-40 or so.

Flame away!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AtI2sGAMtMU9dDFpeUhTMm03QkMxNVhhVEp0ZFlBbFE

[On the spreadsheet, the bolded names are courses added since the previous iteration. The shaded courses show the ratings evolution of courses that were in the original Top 10 or 2000 Top 15]

Bogeys on Parade: My Hundred Hole Hike Experience

6/27/2012 0 comments

I know I'm not the best golfer in this group of 64. Nor am I the youngest or most fit. But there's one advantage I had over my fellow hikers (besides freakishly long, skinny legs): EXPERIENCE. As a savvy soph-o-more, I figured I could school these newcomers. Caddying for the Flossmoor event only reaffirmed this notion, as I witnessed guys limping up the 16th hole in various stages of disrepair; to a man, all saying the experience was much more difficult (but more rewarding) than they had anticipated.

Experience definitely mattered. I burned around at a feverish pitch last year, but I knew there were ways to shave some time off those 1:35ish rounds. Practice swings? Who needs them. Putting? Hit and run. Golf bags? Audi 5000. I just brought 6-8 clubs and split them between the two caddies I had at any one time (swapped in and out throughout the day, but a combination of Nick, Tori, Shelby, Andrew, Ryan, Matt G, Duncan, Conrad, Mason, Chad and one player to be named later -- thanks to all of them).

The big revelation came while watching my buddy Jefe try to grind out pars and bogeys at Flossmoor. He's just wired that way and the speed golf to him is like oil and water. My thought was to take quality out of the equation and just play for bogey. Keep it in play, get it somewhere around the green in regulation, putt if possible (and even if less than possible, putt anyways), then just try to three-putt from wherever you are, on or off the green (a nice plus to hiking at Ballyneal). Swag a lag putt without thinking 2-8 feet from the hole, if the next one goes in, great. If not, just tap in and move on. Bad golf, played quickly. (I didn't realize it at the time, my Ballyneal compadre Rob Rigg took the concept to a greater extreme, aiming for double bogey on every hole and putting one handed to avoid bending down to put his Gatorade down. He started on the back nine and I never saw him all day. He ended up with 144 holes.)

2nd tee shot in the fog, 4:44 AM

True to form, my first round was as fast as it was mediocre. I teed off with 6-iron in a zero-visibility fog at 4:39 AM. We stumbled on the ball in the fairway, bumped it up where we thought the green might be, then made the first of 70 bogies. We couldn't see the ball in the air until the 5th hole (two balls were lost in the abyss or stolen by jackrabbits), but the morning round was an enjoyable walk in the proverbial dewy fescue park. By 18, it was blue skies and sunshine.

I completed the first three rounds in 1:24, 1:25 and 1:27 with a 87/85/86 that under any other circumstances would have me considering a trial separation with the game. Rather, I had completed 54 holes, usually an all-day affair, by 9:00 AM (okay, 9:01), probably before you finished your Monday morning Starbucks.

Father's Day Re-Post: A Father's Love

6/17/2012 0 comments
A look back at a memorable Father's Day last year...


I don't even know where to start. It's 5:09 AM on Monday June 20th and I'm supposed to be somewhere around the 7th or 8th hole of my 108+ hole journey right now. Instead I'm laying in bed wide awake trying to process everything that's happened over the last 24 hours. A short recap:

- I teed it up with my beautiful wife Sue for our first time together at Ballyneal
- 10 days after playing one of my worst rounds ever, I did a complete 180 and played well enough to go toe-to-toe straight up against the reigning club champion.
- I spent the afternoon with Ben Cox and his wonderful family. I got to play with Ben for his first two holes after his skiing accident, then the rest of the front nine with his father, Ken.
- I got to spent quality time with friends and other guests huddled up in the basement of the Ballyneal restaurant praying that a tornado didn't rip the roof off.
- I got to deal with the disappointment of hearing the words "there's no way you can do your marathon tomorrow" due to the huge hail storm that tore through the course.

Any of one of these topics could probably be a chapter in Volume 2 of One Divot at a Time (hypothetically speaking), but the one that plays out over and over in my mind is obviously the two holes with Ben and his Dad. In an ironic twist of fate, what on the surface would be a nightmare scenario for me and most golfers - getting paired up with a father and son on a Sunday afternoon on a 45 minute per hole pace, turned out to be the highlight of my golfing life.

After getting to know Ben over the last couple months, I knew he would do great. Ben is nothing if not determined, and with his engineering brain always working, I knew he'd figure out how to make the golf swing on the adaptive cart work. I knew with his patience and positive attitude, he wouldn't get frustrated over the misses and the do-overs. And I knew he would continue to be an inspiration to everyone he met the same way he's been an inspiration to me.

What really stuck out with me and what I want to focus on is Ken and the special father-son relationship between Ken and Ben. As a father of three, it was an extremely humbling experience. On Father's Day especially.

I hadn't had the chance to meet Ken prior to yesterday. We had spoken on the phone and traded a few text messages, but had yet to meet in person. Of course, the reason I hadn't met him was because he's been working full time at his day job then spending most of the night trying to renovate their house to prepare for Ben's return. That was Exhibit A.

Exhibit B was the Denver Post article from last week. Talking to numerous friends and colleagues about Benjamin Hochman's piece, many pointed out one of two things: a) the family's tremendous faith in God that He is working this accident into something bigger and better and b) the pain that the father must be going through being on the slopes with Ben as he made that life-altering jump.

That was really all I knew about Ken prior to yesterday at 1:30 PM. By 4:30 PM, he was enshrined into my personal Dad Hall of Fame.

Pumped-Up Kicks: New Limited Edition HHH Shoes from TRUE linkswear

5/24/2012 0 comments

For 17 years, the patent-leather Air Jordan XI's held the title of my all-time favorite shoe. Sorry MJ, you've just been trumped.

Today, the TRUE linkswear HHH special edition shoes are available for sale. You can find them here: http://www.truelinkswear.com/index.php/shop/hundred-hole-hike.html. These three electric blue-soled beauties might just bring a tear to my eye. Half of the proceeds from the sale of the shoes will go to charity. 75% of those funds will go to One Divot our two-pronged purpose to help those in the golf "family" who are in dire need of financial or medical support and to develop and fund grow-the-game initiatives, particularly among youths in traditionally underserved areas. The remaining 25% will go to support the Evans Scholars Foundation, TRUE president Rob Rigg's chosen cause in the hike.

I can't say enough about the energy and commitment and way above-and-beyondedness that Rob and the TRUE gang have shown for One Divot and the Hundred Hole Hike. They shared my vision for what this event could be and the lives we could impact through something as simple and silly as chasing a small white ball into a hole. Honestly, is there any other golf shoe company that shows this much passion for the game? Throw in the fact that they are probably the most comfortable shoes you'll ever own and I'm not sure why you'd consider anything else.

A couple weeks ago, I went out for a late afternoon round and got paired up with a 15 year old kid and his father. The Dad was sporting the black/red TRUE phx's. I always get a kick out of seeing TRUEs out of the course, knowing the blood, sweat and tears that Rob and CEO Sean put into their development over the past 2-3 years. I will likely hug a random stranger if I see him wearing the HHH's. The resulting punch in the face will still be worth it.

I hope you'll join me in purchasing a one or more pairs of the HHH special edition phx ($99) or stealth ($199) shoes. Your feet will thank you. And I thank you for your support of the Hundred Hole Hike. Free random hugs with every purchase.




Announcing the Hundred Hole Hike

4/30/2012 0 comments



Today, I'm thrilled to announce the official launch of the Hundred Hole Hike, a charitable golf event that hopes to build on the success of last year's Ben Cox 155. Instead of one golfer walking a bunch of holes in one day for one cause, the HHH is a global network of passionated golfers all walking 100+ holes in a day for a variety of worthwhile causes. Our website, http://www.hundredholehike.com/ is now live and serves as a centralized platform for "hikers" to share their progress and their story through blogging or other social media tools.  Our goal is that http://www.hundredholehike.com/ evolves into a real community of avid golfers who share a passion for the game and for helping others.

Please click here to see my opening blog post and check out the press release below for more information. 

I couldn't be more excited about the launch of this event and some of the exciting things we have in the hopper for this year and beyond. I hope you'll join me by pledging your support or perhaps joining us as a hiker this summer.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 30, 2012

MEDIA CONTACT:
Tom Williams
Buffalo Communications
703.891.3391
twilliams@buffalocommunications.com
www.buffalocommunications.com  
www.twitter.com/buffalocomm


Hundred Hole Hike Launches Global Charitable Network of Passionate Walking Golfers

Initiative Provides Centralized Website for Fundraising by Players and Host Clubs

(Chicago, Illinois) – One Divot – a charity founded by 2011 Walking Golfer of the Year Jim Colton – announces the launch of Hundred Hole Hike (HHH), a giving platform hosted at www.hundredholehike.comthat supports fundraising efforts of “golf marathoners” who will play and walk at least 100 holes in one day to benefit philanthropic causes.

A society of dedicated men and women seeking to use their passion for the game as a vehicle to better the lives of others, HHH allows for each hiker to choose their own causes to support. Among the roster of industry leaders to register are Rob Rigg of TRUE linkswear and John Ashworth of LINKSOUL. Also participating are renowned venues such as Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club, The Kingsley Club and Hidden Creek Golf Club.

“This all began last year as something very personal to me – raising funds for the care of Ben Cox, a caddie and friend seriously injured in a skiing accident,” says Colton. “With the support of walking golfers worldwide, Hundred Hole Hike is now positioned to positively impact countless lives.”

A Ballyneal member, Colton’s original goal was to walk 108 holes and raise $5,000 to benefit Cox. On June 23, 2011, he walked 155 holes and raised more than $110,000. Soon after, he set about forming One Divot and creating a method for like-minded golfers to raise awareness and money for the charities about which they care most deeply.

More than just a robust and centralized venue for pledge collection, www.hundredholehike.com is designed to be a daily web destination for avid walking golfers. It will include personalized blogs where HHH participants share updates on training, engage in friendly competition with other hikers and post items pertinent to those who embrace the game’s traditions and philanthropic heritage.

“I’m super excited about making my own Hundred Hole Hike,” says Ashworth. “It’s a cool and innovative way to support the broader community through golf, and also to challenge your own body and mind while having some fun, too.”

For additional information visit www.hundredholehike.com/how-it-works or follow @100HoleHike on Twitter.

About Hundred Hole Hike

Hundred Hole Hike (HHH) is a global network of golf marathons where participants plan to walk and play 100 or more holes in one day to raise money for various worthwhile charitable causes. It includes events at many courses ranked among the Top 100 by leading golf publications.

Managed by One Divot – a charity that aims to help change the world for the better one divot at a time – HHH is inspired by the success of the Ben Cox 155. Launched in 2011 at Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club in Holyoke, CO, that event saw club member Jim Colton walk 155 holes in one day and raise more than $110,000 for Cox, a Ballyneal caddie paralyzed in a skiing accident.

The goal of the Hundred Hole Hike is to take the same passion and energy that fueled the Ben Cox 155 to a grander scale. Instead of one golfer at one club for one cause, the HHH includes golfers at clubs worldwide, all walking to raise money for a variety of worthwhile causes.

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