News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 10, 2011

RUB OF THE GREEN: Winter made golf impossible this year

Tribune-Star Correspondent

TERRE HAUTE — Old Man Winter along with Mother Nature must have something against area golfers. They have joined forces to sabotage a sport called winter golf, an activity many Wabash Valley players have enjoyed in years gone by.

In fact, during some winters in the past, there were multiple “warm up” periods when a divot digger could play almost weekly. This year there were two words that made golfers wince. They were “wintry mix.” Staying on two feet during the ice storm was almost impossible.

With practice beginning as early as possible in March, golfers on high school and college teams are exposed to some absolutely miserable conditions. Hopefully, it will get better before it gets worse.

With The Masters winding down to a conclusion, it’s easy to understand why this championship is the one any golfer in the world would most like to win.

With the spirit of Bobby Jones prevailing, the azalea-laden Augusta National is certainly a beauty to behold. Television doesn’t always do justice to capture the rolling expanse that offers numerous risk-and-reward holes … especially on the back nine, where the tournament is usually decided.

Golfers who have had the opportunity to play the course are unanimous when praising the conditioning that the layout displays.

The Masters is conducted by its members and when the final putt is holed each year, all committee chairmen meet to see how the championship can be improved. Tickets to The Masters are scarce since galleries are limited in size. Advertising is also limited during TV presentations, much to the delight of TV watchers. The champions’ dinner is a staple of the tourney, as is the presentation of the emblematic green jacket. Players who have come close but have never won often feel a void in their respective résumés for the remainder of their careers.

Some might be surprised to know the name “The Masters” was nearly scrapped before the first tournament due to the fact that Jones felt the name was too “pretentious.” Bobby Jones definitely personified the word “gentleman.”

Hats off to Chad Collins. You may recall that the Cloverdale native finished in second place among money winners on the Nationwide Tour back in 2009, which qualified him for the PGA Tour in 2010.

Collins made excellent use of the coveted PGA Tour card last year, as he won $815,961 in official prize money. He finished 118th on the money list, which is really better than it sounds since he took some time off toward the end of the year and didn’t compete in several tournaments. Congratulations and a “well done” to Chad.

It would be great to see Collins in the winner’s circle during 2011.


Back in 1997 John Feinstein, arguably the best sports writer on Planet Earth, wrote a defining book titled “The First Coming, Tiger Woods, Master or Martyr.” To sum up the book, Tiger appears to come off as something of a spoiled brat, but that would be a spoiled brat with more ability with a golf club in his hands than almost anyone had ever witnessed.

It appeared that all Woods needed to do was eclipse Jack Nicklaus’ record of 14 major tournament wins and then Eldrick Woods could claim the coveted “greatest of all time” tag for himself. A couple of years ago it appeared that Tiger was a shoo-in for that accolade, but now after his well-publicized meltdown, where his infidelities were exposed Tiger has certainly not been the same Tiger of old.

He has not been seen brandishing his putter like a mesmerizing sword while he danced about the green in a whirling dervish victory celebration. In addition, he has been chastised for spitting on greens.

In fact, Tiger Woods hasn’t won a tournament since a year ago last Thanksgiving when he wrecked his Escalade and wife Elin may or may not have used Tiger’s head as a shag ball. I was surprised to see how IMG, Tiger’s agents, handled the “problem” Tiger faced due to his multiple infidelities. Heretofore, athletes caught being unfaithful would appear on television with their wives. They would express their apologies, ask for forgiveness and then present their wives with diamond rings and diamond bracelets worth a few million dollars and all would be forgiven. At any rate, that scenario did not work for Tiger.    

Tiger Woods’ excuses for his poor play are feeble at best. Hiring various “swing doctors” to put his game together makes you wonder why a golfer who has hit hundreds of thousands of golf shots doesn’t know more about his own golf swing.

Woods’ excuses concerning his golf just don’t hold water. He says his swing is a “process.” He says he is “close” to getting back to being the Tiger of old. While he once holed most of the putts he looked at, now he misses an alarming number from short range.

Golf writers often make excuses for Tiger. Tim Rosaforte stated, “Tiger is tired.” I would agree with Rosaforte, Tiger is tired, tired of missing the cup on so many occasions.

At one time in the past I would have described his putting as “supernatural.” That definitely is not the situation now. Will he win again? I’d think so, but golf can be a funny game. It can come and go.

Feinstein, in a recent article for “Golf World,” indicated how the game needs Woods to bolster TV ratings, to shore up sponsorships, and to draw galleries to tournament sites, but Tiger Woods doesn’t deserve a pass on his prior actions. In other words, Feinstein feels Tiger should not be perceived as the victim in a melodrama of his own making.

One thing for certain, Tiger’s rise or his demise will be interesting for his backers or his detractors.

Mike Gugliemetti has echoed a refrain made by a multitude of golfers though the years. “I wish I had taken up golf when I was younger.”

No doubt about it, when it comes to golf, the earlier, the better. Of course that doesn’t preclude an older player from becoming an excellent golfer. Athletes such as Gugliemetti during their high school days gravitate to sports that feature more action as do the “big three,” basketball, football and baseball. Gugliemetti has scored a 72 on the old Elks Fort Harrison course playing “summer rules.”

That’s solid play in anyone’s book, but like Mike says, “If I had started earlier, I could be a much better player now.”

Tip of the week — There is no substitute for hitting the golf ball squarely. Both distance and accuracy depend on it. Some instructors feel if you “swing within yourself, distance will come.” An exercise some have practiced included putting a kitchen match in the ground with the tip sticking up about an inch and a half. The objective was to light the match by nipping the tip. Obviously, this is not a drill for indoors. If you can light successive matches, you have a steady head and a grooved swing.

Keep your head down and your shoestrings tied. We’ll be back.