Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yak and Mercuryboy Beat Human Torch and Me

I didn't have time to write about it yesterday, but when the four of us hit Altadena Golf Course last night, we decided to team up. It was Yakherder and Mercury Boy against the Human Torch and me.

I gave MB control of the camera and he proceeded to film most of the entire day. I haven't even looked at it yet, but here are a few things you can expect:

-Full frontal shanking

-Quite a bit of gratuitous belching on the part of Yak

-As usual, more cursing than you'd see in an episode of Deadwood. (Fair Warning: This clip contains more cursing than you'd see in a typical round on the Altadena Golf Course.) UPDATE: I had to disable the Deadwood link. Upon further review, it was just too foul to subject normal people to. If, however, you really want to see it, just search 'Deadwood swearing' on Youtube and it will be available to you in all its foul-mouthed glory.

-And a number of riveting images of us looking thoughtfully down the fairway as we prepare to put the ball into a tree.

Here's a noteworthy occurrence: Human Torch actually hit a ball into a tree that never came out. If we have video on that, I'll share. If not, you'll have to trust me when I say it was quite an achievement if only the goal of the game were embedding golf balls in trees. Which as far as my understanding goes, it is not.

The match ended in a five-stroke win for the Tag Team combination of Yak Herder and Mercury Boy. To be fair though, they only won on a technicality, that technicality being that we took many, many more strokes than they did to sink the ball. Seriously, you'd have thought that rather than going to Faldo Golf Institute last weekend that HT and I had done an intensive remedial session at Feed and Bathe Yourself State (Go Wildcats!).

On the bright side, we settled down after 5 holes of pure putridity and starting playing decent golf, but it was too little, too late to catch MB and YH. They were like Superfly Jimmy Snuka and Paul Orndorff (by the way, get a load of Snuka's face) and we were like the no-name tomato cans they send in against the champs when they've got to pad out the lineup because Del Taco loaded up on extra commercial spots that week.

Finally, a new contest is upcoming this week, and I'm up for suggestions...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ok. Hole 1 is a warmup...

Sure it is...

The Cake Eagle Has Landed

As promised, cake was delivered to contest winner, Barely Legal, earlier today...

I was going to say she was happier to get this cake than she looked in the picture, but on a second glance, she looks pretty happy about it.

The writing says "Deborah, Queen of Golf." I couldn't bring myself to tell the bakery to make it say "Barely Legal, Queen of Golf." They'd have done it and immediately called the Special Victims Unit on me.

Here's another, slightly more embarrassing picture:

And still more:

If I'd kept going, I might have been able to make one of those flip books that ends up with Barely Lega's head in the bowl. That would have been cool, but alas.

New contest coming next week! TBD.

Plus, Human Torch, Mercuryboy, Yakherder and I are heading to the Altadena Golf Course in another hour or so. More footage and comedy is certain to ensue.

Judging Tommy Optimistically!

In this clip, Human Torch gets positive reinforcement about his swing. In fact, unrealistically positive reinforcement to the point where its benefits are questionable. Will he do better? You'll have to take a look for yourself:

Also, The Cake is likely to be delivered today. More on that later.

Finally, Mercuryboy, Human Torch and I are playing Altadena Golf Course today at about 5:30. First one to comment on this post that they'd like to join us (and actually does) gets the round on me.

Nick be with us as we play for the first time since Golf School.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Judging Tommy Overly Critically

Bear witness to my psychological experiment where I'm sitting on my lazy keester taping Human Torch hacking away during our filming session.

The experiment is to see how he does when I judge him overly critically:

Tomorrow, I'll upload the sequel, "Judging Tommy Optimistically" and we'll see if it makes a difference.

Deborah Takes the Cake!

Deborah correctly identified "deli aisle at Ghetto Ralph's" as the answer most like what I was looking for (plus I disqualified Human Torch on general principles of not wanting to have to get him that elaborate cake he wanted.)

Congratulations to Deborah, known hereafter on this blog as Barely Legal. That's because she told me that the last time she held a golf club, she was barely legal. Funny, I didn't know there was a minimum age to golf in California. Or maybe she meant something else. Oh, I get it now...............sorry, I got distracted there for a minute. Moving right on.

So Barely Legal takes the cake. Please put cake requirements (frosting, decoration, etc.) and desired delivery date in the comments, and it's all yours.

By the way, somebody asked me off line if I had in fact enjoyed Golf School because with all the talk of whippings, arthritis and winos, it wasn't clear. It was terrific, and I give a hearty endorsement to Faldo Golf Institute worldwide. Mike Ellis, one of the trainers at Palm Desert is not only an excellent golfer, but a supremely patient coach with a literal and figurative bag of tricks to improve your game in a short time. They can put that in their press materials if they want, but they probably won't with all the 'barely legal' talk on here.

This picture is a good illustration of how the training works. In the area behind me is the filming tee. You take a few whacks while being filmed from a few different angles. What Mike and I are doing is looking at the laptop, which is connected to the cameras and which is showing me my swing as compared to golf legend, Nick Faldo. The first and most obvious lesson you get from this is that you are terrible and Nick is great at golf. Once you recover from the shame, the trainer points out some really great, useful and specific ways to improve and that's what we're looking at.

He also records his commentary in real-time and clicks a button to email the whole thing to me for later humiliation.

Seriously though, it's pretty awesome. Never trust the yo-yos at the golf course who glance at your swing and tell you that you need to take a wider stance or tilt your head toward Venus or put right hand on red. A swing takes about one second, and the human eye just can't record much info. That's why you need Faldovision.

In fact, tomorrow, I might post some Faldovision video. You'll have to wait and see.

Later today, I'm planning to post a video entitled "Judging Tommy (Human Torch) Overly-Critically On the Driving Range." I"m sure you'll enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

God Takes Care of Winos and Children-They're on Hole 16 at Shadow Ridge!

My biggest regret of the weekend is that I didn't take a picture of the guy slumped against a tree at the 16th hole of Shadow Ridge on Sunday.

As I, HT, Yak Herder and Father of Yak came barreling out of the tunnel from hole 15 (which I dubbed '101 Damnations' in real-time right here via my blackberry) and pulled up to the tee, I thought we'd been transported into the world of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It appeared that an actual cartoon wino was practically passed out in the tee box. (On a side note, just now when I was looking for an image to go with 'cartoon wino,' about half the search results mentioned Amy Winehouse. Just saying.)

My first thought was, "Couldn't we have been transported to the world of a BETTER movie?"

My second thought was that as cartoony as this guy might be, he was in fact real and nothing more than a hotel guest who had sauced up and decided to hit the links. With his face.

By the time we got there, he was leaning against a tree, but listing to starboard quite a bit, with a mostly finished glass of red wine in his hand.

"I guess I'll have to move now," he said, as he made a truly token gesture to try to get up.

"No, no, just stay where you are," Father of Yak said. If he had tried to stand up and failed, we figured he'd be our responsibility, legally speaking and so we just wanted him to stay down.

"Ok, then, I'll take some notes from you guys then," he said. No notebook was in evidence of course.

This was the second day in a row shenanigans had been afoot on the 16th hole. The previous day an organized band of 9 year old ruffians had decided to form a human chain in the middle of the 16th hole. My pleas of "Hey, you guys, it's dangerous. You have to get off the course," were completely ignored on the grounds that I was so far away they couldn't hear me and on the grounds of being a gang of kids on the giantest green lawn in the world with awesome sandboxes and who cares what this crazy group of old men waving sticks at them was saying anyway.

This all changed when Father of Yak fired a ball down the fairway (at a safe distance from the children, naturally) and one of the kids proceeded to pick it up and run with.

This triggered the natural affection a son has for his father (and his father's pretty decent tee shot), so Yak Herder shouts "Put down that frakkin' ball!" Except he didn't say 'frakkin'.' In fact, I don't think he used any Battlestar Galactica lingo at all.

That earned us the scorn of concerned citizens in other rooms of the hotel who were standing on their balconies staring out at the course and judging both our golf and our manners.

After absorbing their derision for a few minutes, we quietly hit our tee shots and motored on. We promised to never speak of it again, but that turns out to have been a lie, at least where I'm concerned.

Anyway, back to the wino. He graciously accepted our invitation to remain seated, but he didn't stop talking.

"You're on video camera! You're on video camera!" he kept saying. No video camera was in evidence either. Perhaps he meant the video camera of his mind, or maybe he was warning us more generally about the slow encroachment of the Police State on our precious privacy. Good point, Drunky. Eternal vigilance being the price of freedom and all that.

Shockingly, he kept his mouth shut as we teed off and no children spirited away our (undoubtedly awesome) tee shots once they hit the ground. We bid him farewell and tried to get the hell off the 16th tee as quickly as possible. As we rounded the corner, his balance finally gave way and he fell over on the ground like an overstuffed tall sack of flour.

And here is a gratuitous picture of me driving a golf cart with no hands, followed by a contest:

And now the the first person to tell me the name of a restaurant on or adjacent to the street where the entrance to the Altadena Golf Course is (not including the grill at the course itself) and I will personally deliver (or send) you a birthday cake even though it's not your birthday.

Ready, set, go!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Faldo Golf School-Come for the Golf, Stay for the Early Understanding of What Arthritis is Like

We're back and almost fully recovered from 24 hours of golfing in a 50 hour period. If, instead of galley slaves, the Romans for some reason had needed Golfing slaves, our experience would have been a lot like that. Except that the food was good. And there weren't any beatings.

On the other hand, who needs to give your Golfing Slave a beating when he's doing this to himself?:

That is Human Torch's sunburn. He apparently took his nickname a little too seriously and lightly grilled his tragically-Irish skin in the desert sun all day Saturday.

While it's true that the redness of HT's calves is shocking, I still can't decide which is more awful: the redness of his calves or the whiteness of what's above 'em. Either way, he looks like 2/3rds of a Bomb Pop.

Here's an improvement on that view. It gives you a basic idea of the salt mine we were slaving away in all weekend:

And here's another picture, which is the whole Faldo School May 24, Session 2, known and feared across the Coachella Valley as the Window Breakers:

Working from right to left, it's Human Torch, Adam aka Yak Herder (I have no idea why, but I like it), Ian (Father of Yak) and Mike Ellis, golf pro and A-list trainer. He's got the 1000-yard stare of a guy who's just spent two days watching four grown men totally fail at something.

But speaking of arthritis, as mentioned by Yak Herder in a comment yesterday, I did notice that as I slept on Sunday night, my right hand slowly formed into a kind of claw-like tool. Still useful for digging in shallow, soft dirt or perhaps picking berries, it was no longer so good for the higher order functions such as typing, using a fork or making the "A-OK" sign.

I estimated (just now, while I'm actually typing this) that I probably hit 1000 golf balls over the course of the weekend. That's the equivalent of hitting one golf ball a day for 1000 days! Just imagine.

Lots more to come on Faldo, including video, equipment shenanigans, encounters with drunken and youthful locals on the 16th hole (or as we called it "the Riff-Raff hole") and more. But for now, I'll leave you with a shot of Mike putting us through one of the more stringent drills of the weekend. I think those are 5 irons we're holding down there. That thing in Mike's hand is one of those golf training gadgets. I can't remember what he called it:

Monday, May 26, 2008

No Golf Today...

Human Torch and I golfed for about 24 hours between Friday evening and last night (Sunday), so we'll take a break today.

Lots of pictures, video, and tales of lost balls later in the week, as I wrap up Faldo Golf School.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New hole name idea...

Inspired by Shadow Ridge...(for the backstory, read this)

101 Damnations.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Faldo Day 1 Complete...

10 hours of golf later...

Human Torch's leg's are a reddish color (sunburn) that's best described as 'medium rare'.

I have been instructed to change everything I know about golf and instead channel Woods, Nicklaus, Sondheim and Elvis...but keep it all inside.

Between the two of us HT and I lost about 30 balls on the course today, necessitating a visit to Balls-r-Us tonight, which I've been assured is not a gay bar. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

We've been videotaped by our teacher Mike.  I look like The Thing's less clobberin' little brother. HT looks like the lobster that ate Manhattan...

Day 2 holds more of the same. 4 hours of being corrected, then another tangle with the Shadow Ridge course.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Human Torch and I in Palm Desert

Faldo Golf School starts tomorrow bright and early but we braved some hellish rain to get here a little early.

Played a course called Cimarron this afternoon and Human Torch flamed on to his best 9 hole score ever on a pretty tough course. 51. Awesome.

My biggest accomplishment was that I only lost 2 balls...I blame the wind.

I could go full Milli Vanilli and blame it on the rain it's not that bad...

June is Women's Golf Month--Hide Your Shoes

Having (sorta) talked about this the other day, I just learned (via Armchair Golf Blog) that June is Women's Golf Month.

June is also probably Kumquat Month and Remember-to-Floss Month and National Masking Tape Month, but Women's Golf Month is something I can really get behind. (And, hey, would it kill you to floss more?)

In fact, I think it's absolutely essential to the coolification of golf that more women get out there. We've already discussed the impact it would have on the shoes alone. Then again, this is a bit of chicken-and-egg problem: do the ugly shoes keep women away or does the absence of women lead to the ugly shoes?

As an avid fan of both golf and women, I would love to see more women take up the sport. It's a great game, with health and fitness benefits, and a fantastic social outlet. Not only that, but if I occasionally have to be in 'foursomes' with strangers, does it always have to be with a Criminal Court Judge known as "Hammer" and a plumber with the week off because he's got a mysterious fungus on his hand and customers started complaining?

So in the spirit of doing my part, I have dragged Little Red (Wendi, our spectacularly awesome Venue Relations Director here at Goldstar) to a couple of golf courses. Last fall, we had a few hours to kill between meetings in Las Vegas, and she very gamely agreed to golf with me, so we went to Callaway's "Divine Nine" short course. It was the first time she ever swung a club, and we had a blast. Since then, she's slowly but surely getting into the game, with encouragement from me, of course.

Yesterday, I took a bunch of plastic practice balls to her office and gave her a club to hit them with. Here's approximately what that looks like:

It's a little cramped there next to her desk, so I suggested she get a wedge instead of that 3 wood. There's a little golf shop a block from our office, so I said, "Go down to that golf shop and say, 'I'd like to trade this 3 wood for a cheap wedge to practice chipping in my office.'"

"Ooh, I like that," Little Red said, "I think I could have used that line to get a date before I got married. I should tell my single friends." (She just hit her first anniversary the other day.)

Naturally, I agree.

Gentlemen, are you with me in support of Women's Golf Month yet?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Arroyo Seco Wrap Up: Par 3, the Putt-Putt of People Who are Scared of Clowns

If this kind of image haunts your thoughts when you close your eyes:

But you still like the idea of an easy way to play a little golf, Par 3 courses are really for you.

Ok, let me back up a bit. A Par 3 course is one where a 'good' golfer is supposed to get the ball in the hole in 3 strokes on every hole ('Phone call for Jim from the Department of Self-Explanatory'-Experienced Golfer). The holes are short enough that Grimace could wind sprint from tee to green without a break. Possibly even Dom Deluise.

My favorite par 3 of all is the Arroyo Seco Par 3 in South Pasadena. Most par 3 courses are about the size of an open suitcase and about as interesting. Usually, they are crammed into some residential neighborhood as tight as a tent when you're folding it up and putting it back in the bag it came in. (Seriously, couldn't they just make that bag a little bigger?) So as you concentrate on how to play your tee shot on hole 6, you're within 12 feet of a little girl in her backyard trying to feed butterscotch pudding to her Webkin.

Not at Arroyo Seco though. Nicely secluded in a beautiful natural setting, it feels like a real golf course, but a lot smaller.

And let me say this to anyone interested in starting golf: there is no way you can make a fool of yourself on a course like this. First, lots of people on a par 3 are really, really bad. I mean like Ace of Bass bad. Sucking as they do, they won't mind or even probably notice when you shank a ball three holes over at them in the direction of their left temple.

So here's my invitation: anybody wanting to get a start at golf with absolutely no golf experience, no experience in any athletic pursuit, and the occasional tendency to fall down flights of stairs in an uncoordinated heap, just let me know. I'll go to Arroyo Seco with you.

Now and then, after you've graduated from Par 3s, it's not a bad idea to go to a Par 3 and work on your 'short game.' That's exactly what Human Torch and I did last night...

Here's Human Torch looking better than he did last week in the picture I took:

Note that for once, he is wearing proper golf attire. Ironically, most people on Par 3s dress for yard work. It's that elegant. Anyway.

As you might have seen, I parred the first hole. That's the good news. I pretty much bogeyed out the rest of the day and ended with 38 strokes on 9 holes. Human Torch, despite an early streak of 3 pars in a row, starting leaking raspberry filling on the sixth hole and finished with a 40.

Other bright spots for me were that I 2 putted on seven holes, 1 putted on another and 3 putted only once. Naturally, that's the one putt Human Torch put on camera:

So that's the way it was.

Oh yeah and now just 1 day to Faldo!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ht can't get a cig lit...

Another victim of the wind.

Par! On hole 1

Playing arroyo seco, awesome little par 3.

High wind; excellent fodder for the excuse mill.

The Unbearable Ugliness of Golf Shoes

Ugly in a good way.

Roll that phrase around in your head for a few seconds, and I think you'll agree with me that there exists a rare but fascinating class of things that are indeed ugly in a good way. (Referred to hereafter as "UIAGWs".)

Some examples of UIAGWs include the Volkswagen Thing, Picasso's Guernica and Sarah Jessica Parker. To wit, these things don't trip our normal beauty sensors and yet for some undeniable reason we find them attractive. In a way, it makes them even more wonderful than their traditionally beautiful counterparts. I said, "in a way."

So despite the clearly documented existence of UIAGWs (an acronym whose usefulness I am now calling into question), it shouldn't confuse the fact that some things are just unaccountably, needlessly and obnoxiously ugly.

Here's where the golf shoes enter the discussion.

For non-golfers, I do want to point out that golf shoes are important and not just another pointless golf accessory. Just a week or so ago, Human Torch forgot his and wore more ordinary shoes to play. After about two swings on the first hole, in which he accidentally bent himself into the Revolved Half Moon Pose, he said, "I guess I should have worn my golf shoes." True, though on the upside, it normally it takes a diligent yoga student 3 to 5 years to learn the Revolved Half Moon.

So before we go any further, get a gander at my shoes:

Now the last thing I'll ever admit to is some kind of shoe obsession (wow, it's like the spirit of UIAGW Sarah Jessica Parker is all over this post), but still, I know how much a nice pair of shoes does for you in creating a good impression. This is particularly true if you're a man trying to impress a woman. (Sadly, women, this doesn't really work in reverse because we didn't notice you were wearing shoes. Sorry.)

So to complete this crazy tangent, my advice to you guys is buy 1 pair of $200 shoes instead of 3 pairs of $66.67 shoes. I know it sounds crazy, but you'll be glad you did. End tangent.

Why then are golf shoes so aggressively ugly? Not ugly in a good way, not even in a 'so bad it's good' way, or even a 'painfully, tragically bad and therefore ironic' way. Nope, just good old fashioned ugly.

I know, I know, some are better. I've looked, and while some are less obnoxious than the traditional white and brown, it's a narrow range. If you rated golf shoes on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being "most golf shoes, probably including the ones you own" to 10 being "still a shoe unappealing enough to drive away any straight woman within 50 feet," you're still doing pretty bad.

I just don't see why it has to be this way. Could the goal be to keep women off the course? If so, I'm obviously against that. Could it be that in an industry primarily catering to straight men, nobody's noticed or gives a rip? If that were true, couldn't the shoes just be plain? Or wouldn't they have dinosaurs biting each other on them or flaming skulls or electric guitars?

Let's face it: golf is cool-challenged enough; there's no need for extra degrees of difficulty. Basketball players might not dress to impress on the court, but their shoes don't make them look like a bunch of dorks either. In fact, they look cool, and that's a problem.

Nothing in the golf world is quite as impressive athletically as a huge windmill dunk, so I'm not suggesting that you'll ever look THAT cool. On the other hand, you are swinging a big metal stick and hitting an object a long, long way. Back in the days of primitive humans, I think that would trigger a strong desire impulse on the part of an eligible female. Just imagine the hunting prowess of such a caveman, she'd think. She's be almost certain to want to produce his offspring and propogate the species with his DNA.

Until she got a look at his shoes. Dealbreaker, cave dude.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Three days til Faldo!

Human Torch and I are going to Faldo Golf School in Palm Desert this weekend...we're like kids waiting for Christmas but with golf shirts on.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Travelling to DC

Til tomorrow, don't expect much. The closest I'll be coming to golf is not golfing at all, which really isn't close at all.

See you Wednesday.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Scholl Canyon Wrap Up- What Canyon? Scholl What? What What?

They say that being able to forget your bad shots is one of the keys to being a good golfer, so you don't dwell on them.

I try to live by that, which probably explains why I have a giant black hole in my memory where the last 2 and a half hours should be.

Seriously, it was a horrorshow. Sometimes it happens, I suppose, where you just can't stay focused on golf. Actually Mercuryboy did pretty well.

At least we got some pictures, including this one of Mercuryboy.

And this one taken by MB, making my shot look better than it actually was:

And finally, an amusing snippet of video.

To paraphrase Marge Simpson, "Yes, you're right. This was the best round of golf ever. Now let us never speak of it again."

3 putt?

Wow, I think the altitude is screwing with me...

4 putt on first hole!

I never 4 putt! I blame it on not knowing the greens.

Scholl Canyon Later Today

Mercuryboy and I have a 2:20 tee-time at this course. It's the first time we've played it, so I'm expecting to lose a few balls as we go.

Expect a few mobile posts as comedy ensues.

BTW, the Burner is back! (For the backstory on that, read this.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Name That Hole

Not to be confused with, which is an entirely different kind of site if you know what I mean, this post is in response to my good friend, former work colleague and devoted 'GITNC' fan, Phil, who I will refer to as The Joker. Don't worry. He wasn't horribly disfigured in a chemical spill or anything. He just likes a good joke, and everybody on this blog deserves a SuperHero-y name, I feel. (Also, I invite you to amuse yourself with a battle between Batman and the Joker in the worst stop-motion animation ever completed by anyone not trying to be ironic.)

Anyway, the Joker read the post about my catastrophic play on Hole 5 the other day, and the whole riff about naming the fifth hole at the Altadena Golf Course. Frankly, he was disappointed. To quote him:

"Sure 'Suck Zone' does the job, but it leaves me wanting more."

Well, I can't rename Suck Zone, because a Suck Zone by any other name would suck just as completely.

But I can spend some time generating other potential hole names. First, though, I think it's important for us all to get a sense of some existing hole names. Ok, so in Purgatory (which you won't at all be shocked to find out is in Indiana), here are a few of the hole names:

-Pride (ehh)

-Stains of the Inferno (Somebody should have laid off that last Hobbit movie. And stains? Seriously.)

-Impenetrable Fortress (maybe this is like that Iceland/Greenland thing, and this is actually the easiest hole on the course)

-Sweet Misery (Ok, that sounds like it DOES belong on, don't go to; you're bound to be disappointed)

Ok, these are boring me. Let's go to Scotland, where they have less to do and therefore more time and energy to devote to naming holes:

-Dyke (Cue Butthead chuckling.)

-Hole O' Cross (Cool sounding, kinda mysterious. I like it.)



-Heathery (My best friend in high school dated her, I think)

Ok, these are better, but not as imaginative as they could be. Here are a few of my suggestions:

-C&C Cursing Factory. (Everybody golf now.)

-Jack Tripper's Revenge.

-Forest of Syringes (world's first syringe hazard...maybe they could build this hole right along the beach in New Jersey.)

-Moderate Difficulty. (I'm not crazy about that one.)

-The 8th hole, presented by Tostitos. (A couple years later, they'd just rename it the Tostitos Hole, of course.)

-Fight the Bear. (For obvious reasons.)

-The Belly of Elvis

-Cracker Barrel Location #189 (like they need any more.)

-Jacob's Cabin. (Sorry if you're a non-Lostie. You've got to admit, this sounds cool.)


and finally

-Shark Sandwich.

Ok, those are my ideas. I welcome yours in the comments!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Photographic Evidence...

First, there's me, about to tee off at the now legendary disaster that was the fifth know, in England, they give names to each hole on the golf courses. Names like Gleneagle, Purgatory, and crazy Britishy-sounding ones like Killecrankie.

I'd like to name the fifth hole at Altadena Golf Course Suck Zone. Not as elegant, I realize, but fitting to the 10 I hit there yesterday. Yes, that's right. 10 of my 50 strokes for the day were on this one hole. Don't tease me. I've suffered enough.

On the other hand, I'm sure Human Torch would have a few choices words for Hole 1, where he did this:

You'll notice that although he is fully extended on his swing, there is STILL a small, white object in the picture.

That would be the ball he just hit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Altadena Golf Course Wrap-Up

Shot 50 for 9 holes, including disastrous fifth hole. Should have been more like 46.

Beat Human Torch by six strokes, but he didn't use his secret power, which is smoking while swinging.

For some reason, that makes me think of the Austin Powers scene where Elizabeth Hurley's character asks him if he smokes after sex.

"I've never looked, baby!"

While we're on the subject, here's a flashback to sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads.

Human torch just killed a squirrel

Just kidding. Probably.

Hole 5

Cue the Benny Hill music...

UPDATE: I'm just going to pretend that hole didn't happen.

Playing Altadena Golf Course Now...

Doing ok. Human torch, so so.

Golf: Not Just for Fat Guys Anymore

So Tatyana just came into my office to blow off some steam by putting a few times. I don't think I helped her stress relief efforts when I started saying (in my best whispery golf announcer voice), "It all comes down to this one putt...she can win the championship if she sinks it. A lot of people have been skeptical of a 33 year old woman who's never really golfed before suddenly making a run at the title, but here she is."

Anyway, she made every putt when I said that, and missed every putt when I didn't, so my conclusion is that Tatyana is good under pressure. Somebody should pressure her more.

As they say in Cleveland, You Are All Witnesses:

Ok, so what I noticed a few months back is that despite the existence of guys like this, most of the really great golfers are in excellent shape.

In fact, when Mercuryboy and I went to the gym this morning, I did a series of exercises designed to improve my golf game. I got them from the book Get Yourself in Golf Shape. Oddly enough, cardiovascular fitness, good core muscle strength and general muscular endurance are seen more and more as the key to really competing at the top level.

Which I will never do. Getting myself in Golf Shape is one thing, and I'll concede Tiger the win on that. On the other hand, I am trying to avoid certain other unflattering shapes (like pomegranate), and I figure since it helps with golf too, why not build it into the routine?

Believe it or not, after a full round of golfing, being a cream puff starts to wear you out. Along about the 14th hole, untrained muscles start to waver like Mayor Quimby in the face of a public opinion poll calling for repeal of the Bear Patrol tax. And all I can say about that is, "We're here; we're queer; we don't want any more bears!"

UPDATE: Isn't 10:15 a little early for steam-blow-offage? Maybe Tatyana really IS training for the tour.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Clobberin' Time

I hit the driving range yesterday in hopes of doing something to improve my desperately lacking tee shot. For the last couple weeks, if you had video taped me hitting my tee shots and then searching the hole high and low to find them, taken that video, sped it up and given it a theme song, the whole thing would bear more than a passing resemblance to this.

Seriously, though, a good tee shot for a man of my stature should be reasonably straight and about 250 yards. And the fact is, about a month ago, that's how I was hitting it: high, far, straight. I was King of the World, but in a less Leo DiCaprio-about-to-die-in-a-horrible-shipwreck kind of way.

You remember that old song "First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is." Well, a hippie undoubtedly wrote that, but still. That's how I feel. I want to take my tee shot to the nostalgic 50s style diner in its poodle skirt and ask it "Baby, Baby, Where Did Our Love Go?" (While I'm thinking about that song, dig the Supremes singing it. Damn, they were cool. And yes, I know that was the 60s, not the 50s.)

I have a two phase approach to solving problems like this. First, I do quite a bit of on-range cursing, but don't worry. I try to keep it PG-13 since there are sometimes youngsters about. My rule of thumb is that if Homer Simpson wouldn't say it, I won't.

The second phase, involves lots and lots of repetition and observation. Once you know the basics of how a swing is supposed to work, you can just try to stick to them. Chances are pretty good that you're just screwing up one of the 7 or 8 things that makes a swing work.

In my case, there were two things happening: first, I was teeing the ball too high. Seriously, by poking the tee into the earth another quarter inch or so, it made a big difference because it meant I was hitting the ball with a meatier part of the club. Second, I was standing too close to the ball and therefore not getting enough leg power into it. All of a sudden, I was hitting like Tiger Woods' older (just a little bit older, btw), less talented, lighter skinned, handsomer cousin with better skills as an executive manager and entrepreneur.

Well, anyway, that's my theory, but once I made the shift, I was hitting about two-thirds of my bucket of balls into the back of the net, which was 240 or so yards away with a 3 wood. (By the way, a 3 wood is a big club, but not as big as the driver. It's the club you use for your tee shots when you've, for example, broken your driver into fun-sized pieces and are waiting for the good people at Taylormade to send you a replacement.)

But the main lesson I'd offer here is this: if something's broke in your golf game, go work on it. A little coaching is a great thing, and it's not that expensive. If you get two or three lessons when you're starting out, it's probably a hundred bucks or so. (And hey, maybe if you're a single gal, it's a good place to cruise a cute golf teacher. Not that I'm into that. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Once you've got that coaching though, just spend time on the problem. Focus, people. Try lots of things and see what makes a difference, and just keep trying to do the thing that worked.

Yes, I know, I'm a golf genius. How did I ever come up with such an outlandish method as Trial-and-Error?

Well, by trial and error, I suppose.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Death of a Driver, and other Tragedies

When I was a kid, I had a temper.

In first grade, I got so frustrated and angry by the seemingly impossible task of finishing my snail report on time that I jammed my own pencil into the palm of my hand with the fury of Mariah Carey being given the wrong color M&Ms in her dressing room. I recall that it hurt.

Anyway, I mention that because it's only fair and full disclosure, but I plead absolutely, 100% not guilty to the murder of a Taylormade Draw Bias Burner Driver (about 2/3rds of the way down the page).

Ok, let's back up. A driver is the big dog of golf clubs. It's like someone tied a musk melon to a stick and expects you to hit a ball with it, but the musk melon is made of titanium or palladium or Batmanium or some other spacey-sounding metal.

The point of this club is to hit the ball and far. You use it for your first hit on a long golf hole. ('Thank you, Captain Obvious'-Experienced Golfer) It's tough to hit a driver well and most new players end up hitting more dirt than ball when they try.

I bought this fancy-pants club a few weeks ago, and loved it right away. I was having so much success with it that Human Torch (my brother, Tommy, who is often seen dangling a cigarette from his mouth while swinging a golf club) asked to borrow it. After a while I noticed he was walking up to the tee box without a club in his hand. "Mind if I swing the Burner again?"

Sure. Grrr.

Anyway, the Burner is a really great club, but it can only do so much. I hit one particularly errant tee-shot and Human Torch said, "Looks like the Burner let you down on that one." "It can't fix sucking," I said in reply.

So now that you know the dearly departed, I'll tell the story of its demise. But I'll start with a picture:

You'll notice something about MY Burner that's different from the one in the link above. Go ahead...take a minute to look. It's like one of those puzzles they give kids at Denny's where they have to find five differences between the two Denny the Insane Short Order Cook Who For Some Reason is Surfing on a Wave of Eggs pictures.

Yes, that's right. Mine has been conveniently separated into two pieces.

About a week ago, I took the Burner to the driving range (where you get a bucket of balls and just hit them into oblivion for practice). I was all set up and ready to go when I picked up the club. Crackle, crackle.

Crackle, crackle? Why should there be a crackle, crackle?

Homer Simpson-like, I decided to ignore the obviously incorrect sound coming from the shaft of my driver and tee up the first ball. As I swung the club back, eyes focused on the ball, and started to bring it down, I noticed a funny sensation.

Specifically, I noticed the sensation of the front 90% of the club flying down the range instead of the ball. This is a two week old club, mind you, with a "street value" of $300. (Did you notice that term "street value" in the Golf Digest write-up? It makes it sound like the Would You Like to Buy an O guy from Sesame Street is hanging out on the sleazy outskirts of golf courses pushing product) .

The good news is that the seller, Pro Sport Outlet, did graciously take it back and is replacing it. Which is kind of them because for all they knew, Human Torch asked me to borrow it one too many times and I wrapped it around his head.

Ok, I wouldn't do that. Anymore.

Now when we were kids...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

You Probably Hate Golf...

I understand. I really do. Lucky for you, this isn't a blog about golf. It's about about me, golfing.

You're probably not burning with curiosity about me, either, but in case you'd like to know who's working the Imac on this blog, here are a couple of tidbits:

-My name is Jim McCarthy. I'm the CEO of a company called Goldstar that is the best place in the whole wide world to find a great night of live entertainment at a price that'll make you want to have dessert with dinner, including cappuccino. Some of you may already be Goldstar members or customers, and we thank you.

-I took up golf at the age of 37 and spent most of my life previous to that with a burning desire to beat up the doofuses that spent their weekends walking around a course in fugly golf shirts and geeking out on their fancy clubs.

-I'm not a very good golfer. I'm getting better, but I'm still wretched. Watching me golf is like watching a four year old sweep a dirty floor: nothing's going where it's supposed to; improvement is painfully slow, and somebody's probably going to get hurt. Some of my shots should be nominated for the Congressional Medal of Ugly.

So why should you follow this blog? I'll give you two reasons that seem plausible:

First, I promise that if you read this blog regularly, you'll sometimes be mildly amused. It could be better than that, but you've got a Money-Back Guarantee that it will be at least Occasionally Mildly Amusing (void where prohibited.)

Second, if you want to learn a bit about how to start golfing and why it's so much fun, you'll probably like what I'm writing about. Why? Because, true to my slightly obsessive nature, I'm pretty serious about golf. I play once or twice a week and practice 2 or 3 other times. I have a book of Jack Nicklaus's 100 greatest lessons next to my bed. I have a small putting green in my office; I do golf-related exercises when I go to the gym. I named my recently born daughter Tigera Woods. I log all my shots in a little notebook when I play and analyze how to improve. Instead of a stress ball, I have a hand strength exerciser on my desk to improve my grip while I'm at work.

All but one of those things are true. I'll leave you to wonder which.

Ok, just a couple more things about what to expect here. I will be writing mostly about me, golfing. What I did, how I did, what I tried, what I learned, and what I'm going to be doing next. I'll try to include pictures sometimes, and I will try to make it funny. I'll keep the cursing to a minimum, but no iron clad guarantees there, dammit.

Also, I'm not going to talk about professional golf. In the words of Eric Cartman, "Booorrrinnng!" Don't get me wrong; those guys and girls are total gods. There's a woman pro at my local public course that occasionally hits with the regular goons, and she's a fargin' machine. Every hit is a thing of beauty, and yet she struggles to make the pro tour.

No, it's not that they're not good, but nobody wants to read about golf. You know Tiger's the man. Do you care about anything else? I didn't think so. Neither do I.

Last, I'd like to invite any and all golf equipment makers to send me anything they'd like me to try. I promise to try it and give it a completely objective write-up as soon as I get on the course, which is often. (Did I say completely objective? You're the one kind enough to send me top-flight equipment to use for free. How could I not return that gesture of friendship with my own? I'll be like those movie critics who call Wayan's Brothers movies "Smart, witty, and sure to be a hit!" Except funny.)

So that's it for the intro, but one last thing. The first person who identifies the source of this blog's title wins a prize of my determining whenever we come to the point when there's a winner.