Golf is a lonely game. Let me correct that – competitive golf is a lonely game! Most of my competitive golf career has been spent playing in individual tournaments. And that is just how the game is. Golf is not known as a team sport. It’s not like football or baseball or basketball. Grinding away on the range by yourself is lonely. And you’ve got nobody to blame for a bogey but yourself. But when it is played as a team sport in such competitions as the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup, we get to see some unbelievable golf with such passion from players that are normally very stoic! They are playing for their team and their countries, something we as golfers rarely, if ever, do.
Best Ball / Better Ball / Four-Ball?
I mean how many times have you watched the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup and thought, “Why do you call it a four-ball anyway?” Most people know it as “best ball” or “better ball.” But, I’m sure some old Scottish curmudgeon who was half in the bag after his day on the links decided to call it a four-ball and confuse everyone. Leave it to the Scottish, who have been credited with the reason for golf having 18 holes (because there were 18 shots in a bottle of scotch – which will also leave you very confused if you were to go out and give this a try). And, as American golf’s lovable character John Daly once said, “If the Scots only had 14 shots in a bottle of scotch, I might have 14 majors.” Sorry the Scots and Scotch have me going down a rabbit hole…
In a match play competition, a four-ball consists of two teams of players competing directly against each other. All four golfers play their own ball throughout the round rather than alternating shots, and each hole is won by the team whose member has the lowest score. Four years ago, the USGA came up with the wonderful idea to have a National Four-Ball tournament and hence the writing of this post.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT AND LEGAL DISCLAIMER: DO NOT TRY TO DRINK 18 SHOTS OF SCOTCH IN 18 HOLES.
Now that my lawyers will be satisfied, I’m back to the task at hand.
A Snapshot of Golf Through My Years
Some of my fondest memories of my competitive golf career were as a member of my high school team in Tifton, Georgia, and as a member of the University of Georgia golf team. Celebrating a win like the SEC Championship or NCAA National Championship is that much sweeter when you have gone through the battle with your team or, at minimum, another player.
So, when I gained my amateur status back and started to contemplate playing a few competitive events, I couldn’t help but think of maybe, one day, playing in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Even the thought of member-guests excited me because what sport or competition isn’t more fun when you can share it with somebody else…..
So when my good buddy Stuart Moore and I qualified for the U.S. Four-Ball last October, I was pretty excited. Then we had to wait almost 7 months until we made the trip down to Jupiter, Florida, to compete against 128 other top teams from around the country. The championship was to be contested on a course I had never heard of – Jupiter Hills Club. I had no clue the 1987 U.S. Amateur had been held there. Sorry Billy Mayfair (that year’s champion). But, let me tell you, it was a very special place! The clubhouse was awesome, situated at the highest point on the property overlooking the grounds, the food was second to none, and the course and conditions were national championship worthy.
Having said all that, the weather didn’t want everything to be too perfect because it basically rained for 6 straight days while we were there and made the golf even more demanding than it normally would have been. And thank goodness the Fazios were given a sand dune to build the course upon because, if not, we might still be down there trying to complete the championship!! I believe the Jupiter area received close to 13 inches of rainfall (don’t quote me on that, but it was a lot!) over the two week stretch of the U.S. Four-Ball. My rain gear had not seen that much use since 2005! But we persevered and finished at 4 under for two days of qualifying to finish with the 17th seed going into match play.
“We were pretty fired up to show everybody what a couple of old working guys could still do.”
We were the first match out Monday morning playing against last year’s finalists and we were ready to roll. We were 6 up through the front nine and feeling great. As match play goes, our competitors played the next 4 holes 3 under to cut our lead to 4 up with 5 to play. Then came another monsoon! As play resumed a few hours later, we halved 14 with pars and then we birdied the 15th to win the match 5 and 3. Time to rest! I couldn’t even think of possibly playing and walking 36 holes in one day! But, as luck would have it, we wouldn’t play 36 holes on Tuesday. We would play 39 holes! Our match Tuesday morning was against the stroke play medalists and it was a hard fought match all day with great shots by both sides. I happened to make two very difficult curling putts to clinch the victory, one on 16 for a half and the other on 17 to win the match 2 and 1. Next came lunch, rest, a change of socks (this was vital as my feet were turning to prunes from their constant state of wetness), and hitting a few putts. No chance us old guys were going to hit balls, we figured we needed to save every swing we had. And we were right as my partner and I just absolutely ran out of gas in our semifinal match (which I know is hard to believe since Stuart runs marathons and I’m not in terrible shape and we were only playing golf)! Golf is an easy game that requires no physical conditioning at all right? Wrong!! We both needed golf conditioning and we just don’t play enough golf on a consistent basis.
And, off we went in our quarterfinal match. It was a grind! Both teams did not have their best stuff, but nobody wanted to give an inch. We battled back and forth all day losing the 18th to go to extra holes! And at this point my legs were just barely moving and I don’t know how, actually they’d been doing that since the 10th hole of that match haha. But we pressed on. The 19th was halved with 5s and we won’t call them bogies because it was a 500-yard par 5 that was converted into a par 4 for the week that doglegged right to left and consistently played into a breeze that was in our face and off the left. Making this a brute of a hole.
To the 20th we went…
All sides were looking at par putts with the closest being a 6-footer by the other team. Stuart missed his from 35 feet. The other team rolled in a 30-footer and that left me with a 20-footer to keep our hopes alive. I was tired but not ready to go home and I firmly believe that I willed that ball in the hole because 3 feet out I started walking it in like Tiger and might have said an expletive but needless to say I was fired up! The 21st hole was halved in 3s and we made our way to the par 5 4th hole. Stuart and I laid up a little further back than we would have liked to a pin tucked over the front bunker and didn’t hit our approaches very well. So we were left with lengthy birdie putts to apply any pressure and we just couldn’t muster any magic as our opponents were able to make a great up and down for birdie to send us on our way back to Georgia. We were frustrated and tired, and proud and mad all at the same time. What a fun week!
To summarize: we had fun, got wet, played way more golf than we are used to playing these days, came close to doing something spectacular, and can’t wait to give it another shot. To the USGA, the membership and staff at Jupiter Hills and all others involved in pulling off the tournament, thank you! It was certainly a first-class event!
Anglers on the water raising money to benefit American Cancer Society.
American Cancer Society Victory Board 2017-2018 Event Co-Chairs Meredith Roberts, Monica Lavin, Nancy Hodges, and Ashley Johnson.
Reelin' In A Cure Raises Funds to Fight Cancer
It’s better to give than to receive! And that’s exactly what we want to do. We want to give back.
My wife’s family and my family have both been affected by cancer. Unfortunately, this has become the norm. Doctors continue to make progress against cancer and, thanks to organizations like the American Cancer Society, more and more funds are being raised each day to help support their pursuit.
Recently, a dear friend of ours, Nancy Bowen, asked if we would be willing to help support Reelin’ In A Cure, one of the many fundraisers put on by the American Cancer Society Victory Board in Georgia’s Golden Isles. As some of you may know, Catherine and I will always love St. Simons Island. St. Simons is where we made our first home together. Our first daughter was born there and it’s where we forged many long-lasting friendships.
In response to Nancy’s call, we didn’t hesitate. Being able to support an endeavor such as Reelin’ In A Cure means a lot to both of us – both to support our friends on St. Simons and the drive to find a cure that might one day rid the world of cancer. Would it not be incredible to think that we’d never again lose a friend or family member to cancer?
Powerful Words from Jimmy V.
Friends and family are an important part of a well lived life in my opinion. Losing a loved one or going through an illness is a very hard thing. We all know it’s part of life but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
To steal a quote from Jim Valvano’s famous speech at the 1993 ESPYs, “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
Who doesn’t remember that speech? Valvano went on to stress the importance of love, hope and persistence and implored, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up!” These seven words state the motto of The V Foundation for Cancer Research which is in its 25th year of seeking victory over cancer.
I think Jimmy V is telling us to have an enthusiasm for life and not ever take anything for granted because you never know when it will be gone. So, let’s all live and give like today is our last.
Philanthropy is a big reason why we started The Dapper Dog. We hope to be able to increase our giving as the brand grows and we are extremely excited and proud to have been a sponsor for Reelin’ In A Cure.
“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” – Thomas Keller
The Dapper Dog Cooks? I’m not a chef, not even close. I don’t profess to know all the gourmet techniques of the pros. But, I believe I am pretty good at making meals for my family that my wife seems to enjoy immensely and my kids don’t paint the walls with them so….. maybe that’s an expert to some degree in my world.
I have an aversion to following recipes because, honestly, I never measure anything, but I started writing a few things down as I cooked at the behest of my wife who follows recipes to a T (and I mean a capital, perfectly printed T). You can imagine her horror when I tell her to add a “good helping” of ingredient X…
It was actually pretty difficult for me trying to get my recipes down with measurements, but I thought, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” or properly cooked and well seasoned if you’re into that sort of thing, but you won’t find any elephants being cooked on this site!
So back to the task at hand… I am here to write about a few tricks I have learned through trial and plenty of errors. But my main thought process with cooking is to just make cooking fun and tasty.
My cooking is all about homemade fun cooking, no chef skills required. I only say this because I am a self-taught cook, not a chef, who grew up in southernish kitchens. Two very different kitchens to be precise. The two kitchens I spent the most time in would be my grandmother’s (dad’s mom) and my mom’s. My grandmother was a South Georgia cook through and through and her husband (my dad’s dad) believed if a little bit is good, then a lot must be better when it came to seasoning food.
My mom grew up in Alabama. But she did not grow up in a southern kitchen. She had two wonderful parents from the Northeast. And judging by my Nana’s (mom’s mom) cooking, I don’t know if people from Massachusetts had ever heard of salt haha, just kidding my good northern people. So let’s just say she comes from the complete opposite school of thought from my grandfather. Love you, Mom!
I tried a little cooking in college. I say a little because I flooded my kitchen trying to thaw a Boston Butt in the sink and decided to stick with Qdoba, Chic-fil-a, Gumby’s, and Waffle House after that. Then I met a lovely lady named Catherine (now my wife) and we both moved to St. Simons Island. This is where I developed my love for cooking. It had nothing to do with being near the ocean but more or less out of boredom. I couldn’t hit golf balls for 12 hours in a day and when it got dark I needed something to do. Catherine sometimes stayed at the office a little late and after this happened a few times I thought hmm how can I be productive. So I started watching Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, Ina Garten, Paula Deen, and every other Food Network chef. I kind of got hooked! I have since weaned myself off of the Food Network thanks to the current content. But if I’m scrolling the channels and find Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, I will tune in to see some of the crazy creations made by my fellow “cooks.”
So, I started cooking with help from my TV friends. I would leave the golf course after a long day of practice and stop by the local grocery store to try something I’d cooked up in my head the night before. I would come home, turn on some music, crack a beer, and start creating. It took quite a while and a lot of good-natured smiles and compliments out of courtesy from Catherine, but I finally got to a point where I wasn’t all that bad. That was probably 12 years ago! So after 12 years of experience, I actually get genuine smiles and heart-felt compliments from Catherine.
I’m southern, but not all of my cooking is southern. To quantify the southern aspect of this, I grew up in a small town in south Georgia, but don’t worry, I don’t slather on the butter and fry everything in sight. I cook and am guided by what tastes good to me. Whether it be southern, southwestern, Asian, Italian, or northeastern (yes, if that’s a thing), I put my own spin on it.
Many of my creations are guided by or interpreted from great meals that I’ve enjoyed – either while dining out or in a friend’s home. I think through the flavors, what aspects I liked and the ingredient combinations to create my own unique spin.
Speaking of creating your own spin, I hope you do that with mine. Kind of like I did to all my friends: Bobby, Tyler, Paula, and Ina. Don’t hesitate to make a tweak here or there by dialing back the spice or turning up the heat to make it more suitable to you or your family’s taste. Don’t be too hard on yourself and have fun. Cheers and bon appetit from a southern boy who loves to eat, drink, and dine.
P.S. There will be tips, tidbits, tricks and let’s just call them “guidelines” (as well as funny experiences) to follow. Ranging from my twist on a good old-fashioned Kentucky Mule to BBQ (this is the south) and a Farro Salad bursting with flavor.
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“Putting is like wisdom – partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience.” – Arnold Palmer
Making clutch putts is the mark of a champion. For the pros like Tiger Woods and 2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed it takes lots of years and long hours to make big time putts under Major Championship pressure. Everybody wants to putt better and make that putt to take money off of your buddy, but who really wants to go stand on the green for hours at a time doing putting drills? Nobody. Well, at least not me. It’s way more fun to go bang balls on the range. And, believe me, I’ve banged my fair share of range balls.
But, I want to put this thought in your head. Who’s the guy in your regular group who you can’t seem to beat? What is the best attribute of his game? Most likely it’s his putting. I’m sure you are racking your brain thinking about it and you might even be thinking, “Damn, this guy’s right.” If I’m wrong, it still won’t hurt you to work on these few drills to improve your putting. All it really takes is 20-30 minutes. Maybe just once a week….
Have you ever stood over a 3-4 foot putt saying, “Oh no,” (or worse)? If so, I’m sorry because I can feel you. You have a dozen thoughts going through your head, including, “Why isn’t he giving this to me? It’s a gimme, right?” “What was it that I read in last week’ Golf Digest?” “What did I see Jordan Spieth doing that time on The Golf Channel?” And so on…
Let’s de-clutter your thoughts! It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to make that putt to win $2 off of one of your friends on Saturday or if it’s to win your local amateur championship. You are most likely so anxious to see that putt go in that you peeked a little early. These putting drills can help. They’ve helped me.
You’ll notice my center-shafted custom Scotty Cameron putter as this is the style that fits my stroke the best. It’s always best to have your putter fitted for your stroke. Talk to your local PGA pro about a putter fitting. You can find one closest to you here. Thanks to my friend Chris Kirk for the tools! Now if my putts can only find the hole as often as his do…
Putting Drill Number 1:
Let’s find that Sharpie you most likely have in your bag marking your ball with whatever identifiers you like. Or, go grab one from your kids’ set (preferably a color that stands our against green). Now, I want you to put a line on the ball as straight as you can and then put a big dot on the green about 4 feet away from the hole.
Next, get set and stroke the putt. After the ball leaves your putter, I want you to stay focused on the dot on the green until after you hear the ball go in the hole. I’m sure you’ve heard Johnny Miller or Nike Faldo say, “Look at the back of the neck,” or “Notice how his head never moved,” when commenting on someone who’s been pouring in all their short ones that week. This drill is guaranteed to help combat the short misses from early peeking.
Begin with the ball on top of the Sharpie dot.
Here you see the ball on its way to the hole, but your eyes will stay focused on that Sharpie dot until you hear the ball find the bottom of the cup.
Putting Drill Number 2:
You can actually stay in the same spot for this drill. I know you have seen Jordan Spieth look at the hole while putting from short range. I have been doing this drill since before Jordan Spieth was born! Obviously he’s done it better than me haha. And I applaud him for all his accomplishments.
For this drill we are going to put a small twist on looking at the hole. Sidebar – Jordan is most likely looking at a very small spot in the hole or on the back of the hole. That goes with the old adage of aim small, miss small!
Let’s start with a straight putt and pick a tiny spot on the back of the insert in the cup. Now let’s set the ball up with the line we drew on it pointing at our spot. Then set up to the ball and get your putter aligned correctly. Look back out to your small spot in the cup and without a backstroke, just push the ball into the hole with your arms, hands, and putter all working in one unit. We drew the line on the ball to make sure it is rolling end over end without side spin and you can notice this as it enters the hole where you are looking. If the ball misses left or right or it still goes in but goes in on one side of the hole or the other, you will immediately notice how your putter face is reacting from impact to your thru stroke! Keep pushing them in on the straight putt until you get a feeling of how your putter face is reacting.
Then, let’s move to a left-to-right putt and repeat the drill. After you’ve got the left-to-right putt down, let’s do a right-to-left putt. I love this drill as it gets my face working very square after the ball and not opening or closing drastically. This drill also helps to get your focus on the target (small spot in the hole) and gets your hands working in association with that target. Do not try this drill for anything over 3-4 feet.
These two putting drills should help your confidence on short putts as you see and hear putt after putt find the bottom of the cup. And you’ll be full of confidence when your playing companion all of a sudden develops lockjaw!
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“The road to success is always under construction.” – Arnold Palmer
Golf is a four letter word. You either love it or you hate it. Or you love it and hate it. And both of those emotions can happen within a few minute span. I have loved and hated it more times than I can count!
This time of year, and this particular week always renews my LOVE of the game. There is something about The Masters that does that to me, maybe it’s because I’m from Georgia and I have played golf for as long as I can remember. Seriously, I don’t remember a ton before I was 7. But I picked up a club at 7 years old and have never looked back. Okay maybe once or twice when I was chucking my clubs in the trunk after missing another cut on the Chicken Wing Tour (aka Hooters Tour), but the older I get, the more I appreciate golf and some of the lessons it taught me.
I made a hole in one in my first ever tournament I played. On an island green. No I’m not stretching the truth here. I still have the scorecard and the Top Flight Plus II to prove it. I was 8 years old. It was the 4th hole and I don’t remember a thing after that. In fact, I don’t think my feet touched the ground for the next two hours. Even the plethora of 7s and 8s I threw out there over the next few holes could not dampen my spirits. The lesson that taught me was to not let my emotions get too high or too low.
Even though I know not to be too high or too low, 28 years later I still find myself getting frustrated over a silly game. I’ve played in a major, been a member of a winning NCAA championship team, played in a handful of USGA events, played in countless pro and amateur events. I’ve won on almost every level. I say almost, because the professional ranks were not as kind to me as my dreams had led me to believe they’d be haha.
I only tell you these things so that you can judge my level of expertise. As I floundered on the Hot Sauce Tour (aka Hooters Tour), I took quite a few lessons from quite a few different teachers in my search for the magic elixir.
As I know now, that was a terrible idea. How can you truly get better if you are constantly changing? Some could say there were too many cooks in the kitchen. And I would wholeheartedly agree, but I digress. The point that I’m trying to make in all this is that I have seen many different views of teaching, lots of different drills, and hit countless balls.
So, am I an expert? Maybe. Maybe not. But I would like to share my 20 something years of knowledge with anybody who has loved and hated golf and still dreams of getting better. So stay tuned as I delve into the depths of my golf knowledge to lend a helping hand. I hope!
Fun Fact: I have 8 total hole-in-ones dating back to that first one in 1991.
Disclaimer: All tips, drills, and suggestions are just that a tip or a drill. Take it from me there is no magic elixir. Yet I still keep playing and still keep searching for that swing thought that is the last one I’ll ever need… until I wake up tomorrow.
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Photo Credit: Mike Beggett
“I’ve always said that if they have a golf course like this in heaven, I want to be the head pro.” Gary Player
It seems only fitting that today I pay homage to the great golf tradition – The Masters. After all, it is a tradition unlike any other.
I hope you’ll hum the music to Andy Williams classic “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and enjoy reminiscing about memories you might have from walking the grounds to hearing famous calls by Jim Nantz and Uncle Verne. Let’s hear your best “Maybe… Yes Sir!” Who doesn’t remember that call (even if you were just a twinkle in your father’s eye back in ’86)?
Comment to share your favorite Masters memory and may the best man wear green. Let the toonamint begin!
It’s the most wonderful week of the year, with green jackets for winners, and champions dinners, don’t forget the affordable beer, it’s the most wonderful week of the year.
It’s the happ-happiest tradition of all, with high fives for all ages and Crystal for eagles when great shots find the hole. It’s the happ-happiest tradition of all.
There’ll be patrons on Monday, ones made on Wednesday, and roars that can deafen your ears. There’ll be legends on Thursday that conjure great glories from Masters long, long ago.
It’s the most wonderful week of the year, there’ll be dogwoods a-blooming and Amen corner looming, on Sunday with just the back nine to go, it’s the most wonderful week of the year.
There’ll be birdies for posting, parties for hosting and limited commercials you know, there’ll be Ben Hogan stories, and Nicklaus glories from generations long, long ago.
It’s the most wonderful week of the year, there’ll be emotions showing, and beers will be flowing when a new champion is crowned this year. It’s the most wonderful week, yes the most wonderful week, oh it’s the most wonderful toonamint of all!
Hey, I know it won’t win a Grammy. But, maybe you’ll be thinking of these words come November when Christmas music hits the airwaves and there’s snow (maybe…) outside your window. And, who knows, maybe you’ll instantly be transported to that magical first full week in April when The Masters – “the tradition unlike any other” – makes us all feel like kids again!
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“Country roads, take me home to the place where I belong.” – John Denver
“There is no substitute for hard work.” – Thomas A. Edison