Sports: Steelers, The Lack of Confidence to Make a Yard.

The Steeler season is over, and talk about ending on a down note. Not only losing in the first round of the playoffs, but losing to the hated Cleveland Browns. I have been a Steeler fan long enough to remember, a season would be considered a success, even if we won only two games, as long as those two wins would be against those damn Browns. To lose to them in the playoffs, when we had beaten them handily, not that long ago, and barely losing to them a week ago, while resting many of our starters, is a hard pill to swallow. Despite the opening disastrous play, Ben’s 3 interceptions, and the defenses inability to keep the Browns out of the endzone, the score was 35 to 23 Browns, with about 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. We had just had two beautiful scoring drives, to cut the lead and Cleveland had just gone 3 and out. We had a 4th and 1, around our own 45 yard line. We made the decision to punt. You could see how this energized the Browns offense, and they went down the field, and scored a touchdown to increase the lead to 42-23 and essentially the game was over. Tomlin will be criticized for this decision, and rightfully so. It was the wrong decision. However, you can’t really blame him. This team has had trouble making a yard all year. This was not a long 4th and 1 but exactly 1 yard to get a first down, and keep our momentum going. Twice this year, the Steelers have had 1st and goal at the one and did not score. There have been many other times this year, that the Steelers had third or fourth down and 1 and did not make it. Tomlin could not have been all that confident about making the first down, with this teams previous history. However, you have just come off playing one of the worse first halves in Steeler playoff history, and you had cut the lead to 12 from 28. It was time to go for it. He failed to realize that this was a pivotal moment in the game. It was time to roll the dice. Instead, because he had little or no confidence that they could make the first down, he made the safe decision. It cost us all hope. If the Steelers had not made the first down, it may have given the defense more resolve, because we made the aggressive move, and went down swinging. We will never know, and the season has come to an abrupt end. What’s next?

These are my guesses, and it is based on how this organization has functioned in the past. Tomlin and Ben will be back. I think some coaches will go. Both coordinators and maybe the offensive line coach will be looking for jobs. There will be some veterans let go to help with the salary cap. I think they will sign Ju Ju and T. J. After that who knows. I think the Steelers will still be very competitive next year and probably make the playoffs. The Steelers have always been able to manage the salary cap very well and I expect that to continue. I think the players will continue to play well overall. They will add with the draft. This team does have talent. It will be up to the brass of the Steelers to bring out the best in this group, if next year is going to be better.

Sports: Football Mysteries

As the football season is coming to an end, with the NFL starting the playoffs, and the College Football Playoff Championship game, set for next Monday, it is time to look at what I call, the mysteries of football. Maybe I should say, what is mystifying about the game. I am going to write about what I consider 3 unsolved mysteries when it comes to football. First let’s take a look at what makes football a very unique sport. Of the four major team sports in America, it is by far the most emotional. Emotion is not going to allow you to win a football game, all by itself, some talent must be there, but when a team gets fired up, there is no telling how much this will affect the outcome of the game. This is the only sport, where championships are decided by one game, winner take all. If football even tried to play three game series, most players would be dead, by the time they reach the age of 30. Football can be classified as a brutal and violent sport. Bill Russel said it best, “Basketball is a contact sport, football is a collision sport”. One of the reasons given for not expanding the college playoffs, is that it would make the colleges play more games, and increase the risk of injuries. In order to cut down on injuries, the rules of football have almost made the kick off a non play. Football is having trouble getting participation on the youth level because of fear of brain damage to the young participants. So with all this in mind, it is time to look at these football mysteries.

The first mystery is why would anyone take the chance of inciting a team by belittling them or showing some kind of disrespect. The latest example of this is Dabo Swinney saying that Ohio State did not belong in the final 4 of the college football playoffs. He may have been right. You can find out what he said and did, but the point is, why do it at all. Your not going to change who is in the playoffs, and who is out. It is a done deal. Why give your opponent more incentive and fire. Clemson had eliminated Ohio State last year in the semi finals, so the revenge factor was already motivating this team. Dabo put fuel on the fire by his repeated, inane remarks. He tried to temper those remarks near game time, by saying, he would have said the same thing about any team, that had played only 6 games. The damage was done. Not only did this fire up OSU, but it may have subconsciously made his own team overconfident. Whatever the reason, Ohio State rolled to an easy 49 to 28 win. I don’t think you are going to hear much from Nick Saban this week. The basic rule in football is to never say a disparaging word about you opponent. If you want to predict a win go ahead, but keep those feelings about the other team to yourself. Swinney wasn’t the first to make this mistake and for whatever mysterious reason won’t be the last.

Again targeting was in the headlines this week, for players getting ejected for the foul. Everybody’s screaming that it is an unfair rule, and is ruining the game. The mystery is why do players continue to do it, and more importantly why don’t coaches stop it, by making sure that players tackle with their heads to the side of the player. Being ejected from the game has been part of rule since 2013. This does not seem to be much of a deterrent. It seems like, the player’s overwhelming desire, to hurt and maim, is greater than staying in the game, and helping his team. Let’s face it, if you are leading with the helmet, you are up to no good. There is an easy solution to all of this. Just don’t do it. Don’t lead with your head. For whatever reason, players are not schooled in the proper way to tackle. Maybe it’s football’s way of making sure that more offense is in the game. If the players do not know how to tackle, then there will be more offense. Even announcers call tackles that are bad, good. In my view the only good tackle is when the arms wrap the ball carrier up. If defensive players are ejected for targeting then their replacements won’t be as good and hence more offense. If my view there is no excuse for targeting. There is no ambiguity in the rule, the way the media tries to make you believe. Lead with your head, and you are out of there. Good riddance, as far as I am concerned. Targeting needs to be enforced more, not less.

The final mystery is simply, can anybody make a yard. Watching 3rd and one and 4th and one plays especially in the pros, is mystifying. Offensive coordinators are always being criticized, when their respective offense is floundering, but this is ridiculous, when you see teams, not able to pick up a yard, in two or more tries. I blame it on being a slave to the west coast offense, and the shotgun snap. What would people say on a first and goal, at the one, if quarterback was under center, took the snap, and then pitched a lateral to the running back, 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage. This is essentially what the shotgun snap does, on a short yardage situation. You are one yard from pay dirt, but then take the ball 6 yards further back, with the snap. Let me offer some solutions, for the short yardage situation. Quarterback under the center. A quarterback, who is young, and has the ability to quarterback sneak. Place two other running backs, or even three, in the old T formation. Whether it is, 2 or 3 running backs, make sure, that these are running backs, you give the ball to on a regular basis. Since I am not coaching or playing against any football teams, this weekend, let me be a bit condescending, it’s called deception. Even if there are only two running backs, in the backfield, there are three options. Quarterback sneak, or hand the ball of to either running back, and if you go to the T formation, you will have four options. Football needs to find a short yardage offense, even on the college level. However, this does not seem to be happening in the near future. Teams continue to run plays from the shotgun on short yardage, sometimes with only the quarterback in the backfield. So football will come to it’s grand covid conclusion this month, and I doubt if any of these mysteries will be solved. I will be watching though to see if some are. GO BUCKS.

Food: The Cat

As promised, this is the blog on feeding the cat. Before I get to feeding the cat, I am going to discuss the cat as a pet, in general. The country is over run with cats. This is true, even as the cat was becoming the new pet of the 80’s, 90′, and right up to the present. Cats have always been considered easy to care for, when compared with the dog. I think this was used as a selling point, in shelters, to get people to adopt cats, and who could blame them. Thousands of perfectly healthy cats are being put to sleep, in shelters, every day. This idea that cat’s are easy to care for, has led to stress laden psychotic cats. I am hear to set the record straight, that cats are not easy. They have just as many needs as any dog. Granted, there are no 50 to 100 pounds cats, running around any bodies house, and when it comes to pets, size is a consideration. A big dog is going to cost more to take care of, especially medically, but the needs of the pets are pretty much, the same. Even though this is a blog about feeding the cat, let’s discuss one thing that is the result of eating, going to the bathroom and litter pans. Here are the rules, and they are unbreakable. If you are going to have a happy cat, or cats, you need one more litter pan, than cats. Yes, that does mean if you have one cat, you must have two litter pans. Everyday, those litter pans need cleaned, and replenished. If you do not think so, then just try a little experiment at home. If you have 3 bathrooms, have one toilet, that is not allowed to be flushed, and see how long people stop using it. If there are 2 people or more in the house, it will take less than 24 hours. The littler pans need cleaned every single day. Now, let’s get to feeding those sweet creatures.

Who ever invented the self feeding bowl for cats, should get the award for the worst devise every invented. This devise has turned many cats into blimps, and I am not talking about Goodyear here, because those cats will never leave the ground. Cat’s are very susceptible to stress, and many will stress eat. Free choice is not an option for a cat owner, no way, no how. Cats are known for vomiting, and many times, hair and hair balls, are blamed for this condition. Vomiting is a very non specific symptom, and there can be many causes. but it is rarely hair. If the cat vomits, anywhere from 3 to 7 times a week, and is healthy otherwise, eating, and drinking, and moving around, it is most likely the way it is being fed, that is the culprit. There are two basic differences, when it comes to feeding the cat, compared with dog. Cats need and should be fed canned food everyday. Cats can have some odd drinking habits, which the canned food can take care of, because of all the moisture content, in the food. They need to be fed at least 3 times per day, and preferably, 4 to 5 times per day. This puts less food on their stomach, and therefore takes care of most non illness vomiting problems. For two feedings you can mix dry and canned food together and for the other feeding just give a small amount of dry. I can hear the rumblings already. I work, I have kids, hell I don’t even touch my cat 4 to 5 times a day. I said the minimum is 3 times per day, which you can feed morning, evening, and bedtime. If you get up in the middle of the night, for any reason, then put a little dry in the bowl. Depending on the size of the cat, here is how I recommend to feed cats. First thing in the feed 1/8th cup of dry with 1/2 of a 3.5 oz. of canned. Around 10am feed 1/8 cup dry, followed up with 1/8 cup dry around 2. Then, at dinner time, repeat the morning meal, and feed 1/8 cup dry at bedtime. Now, do I follow this every single day, no, life does get in the way. But adjustments can be made. The more frequent you can feed the cat, the happier the cat will be. It is perfectly acceptable to feed 3 times, on those busy days, with a little more at each feeding, and on days when it can be done, 5 times is perfect. Cat’s should not have access to food 24 hours a day.

Two final things. Again, I am not going to recommend any particular food, just stick to a main brand, and remember, canned food everyday. Now, getting to those odd drinking habits of cats. Many cats will only drink water out of a bowl, until it gets about 2 inches below the lip of the bowl, and then they will not touch it. This requires two things from the cat keeper. The water needs to go through a complete change two times per day, and try to keep those bowls filled, if you see them down a bit. This is not like the dog, who slurps up water until it is gone, and then goes after what’s on the the floor. Cats require unique care, when compared to the dog, and I would call it far from easy. But they are the definition of cool, so you better take care of them right, brother.

Food: The Dog

No, this is not a blog, about how to cook the dog. Food has not been a very big topic lately, with the pandemic and all. Food to me, means a festive time, with friends and family, and certainly, things have not been too festive lately. I decided to write about how to feed the dog, since the dogs have no idea, that a pandemic is going on, and eating for them, continues to be a festive time. I am not going to discuss much about what to feed your dog, but on how to do it. The next blog will discuss feeding cats, who need to have a totally different method. What should you feed the dog? As long as you stick to a well known brand and company, you really can not go wrong. Common sense says that if 50 pounds of dog food costs about $15, how much nutrition can it have. On the other side of the coin, I do not think you need to spend 2 to 3 dollars a pound for dog food. The food the dog eats should meet three criteria. The dog should seem to enjoy it. The bowel movements should be nice and solid. The food should not create a lot of gas in the intestinal tract. It maybe very humorous, for your dog to pass gas, at a party gathering, but the fact remains, that gas is an indication the dog is having a hard time digesting the food. You may have to go through some trial and error, to find the right food. In some cases, it might be the way your feeding the dog, that is causing some of the problem. Follow the feeding guides on the bag, in order to know how much to feed. The only caveat here, is that the recommendation on the bag is based on the dog getting nothing else to eat. If you give the dog a treat or two during the day, like Milk Bones, then you will have to make an adjustment downward. Now let’s look at the way to feed a dog.

The first method you hear about is called free choice. What free choice doesn’t mean, is that the dog has access to all the food it wants, for 24 hours a day. The way free choice works, is first thing in the morning, you put down the dog’s daily food ration in a bowl. If the dog will nibble the food all day, then this method works just fine. There are some dogs, that will gobble the food up, all at once, making this method very unsatisfactory. If the dog eats, over half the food at one sitting, then you should put the dog on scheduled feedings. Many people that do this, will feed twice a day, dividing the daily ration equally. The problem arises on the timing of the feedings. They will feed first thing in the morning, and then again at 4 or 5 in the afternoon. This leaves too long of a time between the evening feeding, and the next morning feeding. Twice a day feeding should be 12 hours apart, as in 6am and then 6pm. However, the best way to feed a dog, to avoid a lot of digestive problems, is 3 times a day. I am not saying to feed it, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Feed it, first thing in the morning, then around 5pm, and a final meal at bedtime. When dogs were in the wild, they hunted in packs, captured their prey, and proceeded to over engorge themselves. Then they may go 2 to 3 days, before they ate again. The domesticated dog’s stomach has evolved, to be more like the human stomach. Many dogs, that are not given food for 10 to 14 hours, will have a tendency to throw up yellow, which is gastric juice, from the stomach being empty. Feeding 3 times per day, 1/3 of the daily ration at each feeding, will help prevent this problem, and make the food easier to digest, because there is not as much food, entering the stomach.

The final thing to discuss briefly, is whether to feed dry food, or canned food, or both. There is nothing wrong with canned food, except it is 70 to 80% water. Because it has such a high quantity of water, it is not a very calorie dense product. You can use this to your advantage, if you are trying to get a dog to lose weight. However, if you have a dog over 30 pounds, it can be very expensive to feed canned as it’s sole source of calories. As a general rule it is better to feed dry food. It is an entirely different story for the cat, which will be discussed in the next blog. Enjoy feeding the dogs, as they make it through this pandemic, in the beauty of ignorant bliss.

Golf: A Very Unique Day

I was originally going to write about this day, under the title, golf stories, the 2000’s, but the more I thought about this, I realized that this day, needed a blog, all to itself. I was not too sure, how to even categorized, this day. First, I was going to call it strange, but it wasn’t really all that strange. I think unique, describes it well, because I have not experienced a day like this before, or since. It was a day, because two rounds of golf were involved, not just one. It took place during the South Park Men’s Championship, at the South Park Golf Course near the end of the 2000’s decade. The South Park Men’s Championship is a 36 hole tournament played in one day. I played in the event until my early 60’s. I really did not have any delusions of grandeur of winning the event, at my age, but I enjoyed playing in the event, and they had a skins game so you could always have a good hole and recoup your costs for the tournament. There was a spit tee with groups teeing off on 1 and 10. If you teed off one for the first 18, then you teed off 10 for the second 18. I was starting on the back, for my first 18, and I was informed that 2 members of the group, had already signed for the cart. I found one member of the group, a young guy in his early thirties, and he was on the driver’s side of the cart. I introduced myself, and put my bag on the rider’s side. Little did I know, just how fortunate I was, being a rider. The 10th hole is a dogleg left, par 5, that is not long, even from the blue tees, so you hope to get off to a good start. We met the other two in our foursome, and we were ready to go. My cart partner looked pretty good on the tee box, had a decent looking swing, and hit a pretty good drive, that was not far enough to get around dogleg. He had some other problems on the hole, and made bogey. No big deal, right. To make a long story short, the kid probably had the worst case of nerves I have ever seen, and went on to shoot, are you ready, 121 on the first 18 and 127 on the second 18. I have to give him credit he finished. Here are the lowlights of the day.

First of all, he did something, that I do not think you could do, even if you tried. This was like something, maybe, a trick shot artist might be able to do. Five times during the round, with driver in hand, he swung mightily, was able to move the ball, but it did not go past the white tees, forget the women’s tee. Three time he just barely grazed the ball, and it trickled off the tee, and the other two, he hit so far behind the ball, the dirt move the ball, a few yards. The 11th hole, which is one of the hardest holes on the course, he made double bogey, but this still did not give me a clue, on what I was about to watch. That was followed up by two triples, but I knew I was in big trouble, after he hit a fairly good drive on the 14th hole. Believe it or not, despite all of his problems, we were not out of position, and had to wait to hit our second shots on the par 4 hole. He took this opportunity, to call his girlfriend, and tell her how nervous he was, and he just couldn’t believe, ( remember the last blog), that he was playing this bad. He told her, it was like he couldn’t see or function. She must have been trying to make him feel better because I heard I love you too, sweetie. Things just got worse after that, and he did some typical things, like miss 6 inch putts, and chunk chips about 2 feet, on his way to the opening round 121. There is a slight break between rounds, to get a quick bite, and he mentioned to me, that he thought, he couldn’t do any worse. I said don’t say that, at least you didn’t kill anybody. We started the second 18, on number 1, a very easy par 4. He hit a pretty good drive, with a little fade, but wouldn’t you know, it rolled right under a pine tree, and he had to take an unplayable. The second hole he butchered, but on number 3, a medium length, par 5, he hit his best drive of the day. He then took out a 3 wood, and hit another very good shot, that hugged the left side of the fairway, but took a horrible kick to the left, and rolled right under another pine tree, where he had to take another unplayable. I thought, this poor guy, he just can’t catch a break. But he waited until the 12th hole, the 30th hole of the day, to hit his shot of the day. The tee box does not give a lot of room to stand, because there is a large downslope, just to the right of the tee box. We had all hit, he was hitting last, and we were cramped in pretty tight just too the right of his teed ball. He took that big swing of his, hit one of those low heeler that was ripped. The only problem was, he lined it, right into the aluminum garbage can, that was just 10 yards in front, and right of the tee box. It was like a cannon going off. I must have jumped 3 feet in the air. It scared the crap out of me. Naturally the ball ended up right behind the can and we had to move it. He did do worse on the second 18 by carding a 127. But as I stated before he did finish. I know I wouldn’t have.

Needless to say I did a lot of walking that day, but thank God I was not driving. I am sure we would have held up play, if I would have had to drive him to all those shots. I do not have any recollection of who our playing partners were, but they did seem to take everything in stride. I shot two 78’s, not bad, considering. I did manage to pick up a skin, which paid for my day. After the round, someone who must have been giving him some coaching, could not believe his scores. He made the comment, that before the tournament, he was consistently shooting in the mid to high 70’s. I am sure, that this was the first competition, he had ever played. He counted everything, kept his cool, and finished the day. Thank God, he played in a group that was understanding, and very tolerant. If he was playing in a group that hoped to win the tournament, he may have been killed. That would have made the day even more unique.

Golf: Sayings

I have been playing this great game of golf for over sixty years. Over that space of time, I have seen many changes in the game. But one thing, that has not changed, is some of the things you hear on the golf course. Swearing is always prevalent on a golf course, but I am talking about the phrases that people say, during the round of play. When I was a youngster, I really did not pay much attention to this, but when I became an adult, I began to notice these things, and over the years, they have not really changed. There are the quick phrases like, nice shot, great shot, good up, and so forth. There are things that are directly related to playing of the game, like your away, or worse, your still away. These are the sayings, that are not directly related to playing the game, but have been around for as long as I can remember. Here are what I consider the top three, with no. 1 being the top one by a wide margin.

What am I doing wrong, or simply, what am I doing? You hear this more from the beginning golfer, but I have heard this from every level of golfer. This leads to other common phrases. You picked your head up. You swung too hard. Your trying to kill it. You did not turn. You did not shift your weight. Your playing the ball to far forward or back. Your grip is bad. Your stance is too wide or too narrow. With someone who has played the game for awhile, you may hear more technical answers. You didn’t make a complete backswing. You took the club back too fast, or too slow. Your are using your wrists too much. There are many answers to this proverbial question. There is only one correct answer. You took up golf, asshole. I would suggest bowling. Then you or your playing partner should just walk off the course.

The second phrase is weather related and it is really two phrases, but since both are concerning the weather, I have lumped them into one phrase. The first is when you are playing the round and the weather is less than ideal. Maybe it is cold or there is a threat of rain, or maybe some high winds. For the moment, the weather is not too bad. Probably cloudy, cold, but no wind or rain. When that is the case, someone will say, now, if it will only stay, just like this. I use to say this myself, until I noticed how many times, it was said by other members of my group. I think people say this, and I admit I thought the same way, because this might help keep it just like this. The other saying is when you are waiting out a rain, and it’s been about twenty minutes, and someone will look over at the horizon, and say, it looks like it is lightening up over there. My thought has always been, yes but we are not playing over there. This was more common when there was no radar to look at. It reminds me of another often heard sentence concerning the rain, before radar. This looks like an all day rain. Twenty minutes later, the sun was out.

Without a doubt, the number one phrase you hear on the golf course is, I can’t believe. I can’t believe is followed by whatever the player can’t believe. I can’t believe it didn’t go in. I can’t believe the putt broke left, or right, or did not break. I can’t believe the wind didn’t affect that ball. I can’t believe I hit it that far, and it went over the green. I can’t believe that bounce. I can’t believe I’m short. I can’t believe it went that far right. I can’t believe that I hit it that bad. I can’t believe he gets a stroke on that hole. I can’t believe that buried in the lip. I can’t believe it didn’t stop. I can’t believe I didn’t carry the lake. I can’t believe that sucked back off the green. I can’t believe that the green is that soft or hard. I can’t believe how high this rough is. I can’t believe that my drive only went this far. I can’t believe it’s 150 yards, it doesn’t look it. I can’t believe that we can not find my ball. I can’t believe that my ball hit the tree or did not hit the tree. I could go on and on. There is one question to ask. Just what the hell do golfers believe? If they do not believe, what they are seeing with their own eyes, do they believe in anything. All I can say is, they must believe that the game has some kind of super natural powers, that defy the logic of the universe. It can’t be us.

These are the most common things I have heard on the golf course, over these many years. I have heard some unique things and this one bears repeating. Many years ago when I belonged to Rolling Hills Country Club, I was playing in a team event, a best 2 out of 4 balls with full handicap, and our team was doing particularly bad. Nobody was having a good day. As we were walking to the 13th tee, and it was obvious we were not going to finish any where near the top, one member of our group said, its a wonder any of us have jobs. I never heard that quote before, or since, and it did give all of us a good laugh on a bad golf performance. But after the round was over, everything was returned to normal, when another member of our group said, I CAN’T BELIEVE WE ALL PLAYED THIS BAD.

Golf: My 2020 Golf Season

I haven’t written about my own game this season, as there hasn’t been that much to write about, and I thought one blog about the whole season, would do the job. Despite the pandemic, and a very slow start, I was able to play over 100 rounds, for the 6th straight season. I did not come close to my record, of 150 rounds in one year, but getting over the 100 mark, is still nice, and as of right now I stand at 105 rounds. I had 52 rounds over 80, with two 90’s thrown in, and 53 rounds under 80, with the best, not that long ago, a 72 at Ponderosa. I have had a late season surge of good play, but more on that later. My handicap, with the updates happening every round, and only 8 rounds being counted, jump around more than usual, from a low of 4.5, to a high of 6.3, before ending the year at 4.9. Here is how the parts of my game performed in 2020. I drove the ball really well again, and it was by far, the best part of my game. I always find this a little strange, because in my younger years, it was probably, the worst part of my game. I have no explanation, other than this game is goofy. The irons were the most inconsistent part of my game. Some days, I would hit them great, and be very accurate, and other days, I would be all over the place. My short game was mediocre all year, with the chip yips and my sand play being the worst. The chip yips would come and go, and they had a major effect on my score. My putting was average all year, but I did have one day, that I will discuss later. No spectacular shots this year and overall the year was pretty bland. I am still not having any swing thoughts when I play, and I may have found why swing thoughts stop working, but more on that, on a future blog. There were 3 highlights of the year.

The first highlight was Covid related. I live in Western Pennsylvania, and we are close to the West Virginia border. Pennsylvania golf courses were closed for the month of April, due to Covid. However, Highland Springs is right on the Pennsylvania border with 12 holes in West Virginia, and 6 in Pennsylvania, with the clubhouse being in West Virginia. This golf course was open in April, and we managed to play 4 rounds, during the month. Needless to say, the golf course was packed, 7 days a week. The 5 hour plus round was the normal. I changed the name of the course to, Bubba Gump Golf Course, because just like Forrest Gump, who had the only shrimping boat to survive the hurricane, this golf course was the only game in town. When the weather was half way decent, there were easily, between 50 and 70 rounds played per day. The second highlight was the best 9 hole putting stretch I have ever had, and just like a lot of things in golf, it came out of the blue. We had to play the 9 hole course at South Park, because of work being done, on the front nine of the 18 hole course. I hadn’t played this nine, in about 2 years. The round started off innocently enough, when I knocked a 9 iron within about 15 feet, and 2 putted for par. On the second hole I chunked a wedge, indifferent chip to 20 feet, made it. Third hole 7 iron off to right of green, chipped up to 10 feet, made it. Fourth hole, hit a limb on my second shot, pitched up 15 feet, made it. The next two holes, I had a tap after putting from the fringe, and made a 3 footer, after a short chip from the rough. The next hole a par 5 I butchered, but made a 10 footer, for par. On number 8, I chipped up to 3 foot, made it. The ninth hole a long par 4, I made a 20 footer for par. For the 9 holes, I had 10 putts, with 5 of the putts, being 10 feet or longer. Now, I have had 9’s, when I had 10 putts, but a chip in was involved. We could not play more than nine holes that day, but it was my best putting for nine holes, by far. The final highlight of the year, was my good play, as the year wound down. My last 8 rounds of the year were 72, 76,74, 81, 81, 76,78, and 76. This finish I will blog more about, in the near future. The two 81’s were in some tough windy conditions. Even though there is some potential for a few more rounds, the 2020 golf season is basically over. The game is still mystifying to me, but at least I feel I have made some progress, as the year wound down. More on that later, see you on the links.

Meditation: Deserve

Deserve is a word that we hear many times, during the course of a day. The word deserve means to have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have. Most of the times the word is used when somebody receives an award, and comments are made, whether he deserved the award, or not. When it comes time for the Oscars, there are movies that people feel deserve or did not deserve a nomination. The word is not always used in positive situations. Sometimes when bad things happen to people, someone might comment they deserved it. We all have had this experience when watching a movie, the villain, or vile person, gets his just due, in the end of the movie. We are all satisfied with that ending, because he deserved it. When a person commits a crime, they deserve to go to jail. This is not the way we are supposed to feel when something bad, or serious happens to another person, but it is still pretty harmless. In fact, it is often fun to debate who deserves what. On the smaller stage of life, we see people have opinions on whether or not someone deserved a promotion, or the new job they are pursuing. People will comment on another person’s new relationship, if it seems to be going well, as something they deserve. As long as a person applies deserve to another person or thing, then this process can be, for the most part, not a major problem, in one’s own psyche. It’s when deserve starts to be a way they describe their own life, that problems can arise.

It’s when you start thinking, that you deserve a better job, a new promotion, a better relationship, or just a better way of life in general, that can have a negative impact on your life. This thinking can spiral into a worse situation if you start perceiving that you deserve any of the bad things, that may be happening. We all feel there are times when we can do better, in dealing with other people, and ourselves, but this does not mean, that we are a bad person and deserve the results, when things go wrong. When you look up synonyms for the word deserve, you will find entitled. When people say they are entitled, this can bring quite a negative response. Maybe the word deserve should have more of a negative connotation. Is there anything that is good or bad, that we actually deserve. Just because you work hard, and do all the right things, is not going to guarantee success, or a monetary reward. Luck is always going to be a factor in life. Do we all deserve to be lucky? I think the answer lies at the end of movie The Unforgiven. The sheriff is about to get his head blown off by Clint Eastwood and says that he does not deserve to die like this. Eastwood’s characters reply is “Deserves got nothing to do with it”. That statement can be applied to every action and result in life, deserve has nothing to do with it. We need to get into that mode when dealing with deserve. It is just an opinion and it needs to be vanquished, from our own lives, if we want to have contentment. The reason for doing anything is for our own self satisfaction and peace. To do this, we need to remove deserve from the middle of our minds.

Golf: Stories, The 70’s

As far as golf was the concerned, the 70’s started out with a bang. In June of 1970, in a tournament called the Bernhardts, held at Oglebay Park, in a pea soup fog, I recorded my second hole in one. It was the 2ond hole, an 180 yard par 3, and all I knew from our caddies was that the pin was in the middle of the green. There was a tournament official at the green, who would just yell out, when it was ok to hit. I thought I had hit a pretty good shot, but one of the other players in the group, thought I had gone a little left. After we had all hit, we barely got off the tee box, when my caddie came bursting out of the fog, yelling it’s in the hole, it’s in the hole. My first hole in one, I did not get to take out of the hole because the people up on the green did, who had let me hit, and, of course, my second hole in one, I never even saw. In 1971, I played probably my best round of golf in a tournament. It was my first week of veterinary school, and I had not touch a club all week. This was a tournament, that was supposed to be a 36 hole, two day event, the first weekend in June, at Wheeling Park. It rained the entire weekend, and they rescheduled it for 18 holes, on the last Saturday in June. I drove home late Friday afternoon, and got home around 6:30, and immediately drove up to Mazeroski Golf Course, to get a quick nine in. For whatever reason, I just had this really good rhythm, and I played the first 6 holes 1 under par, and since the 6th hole is close to the clubhouse, I walked in, and went home. Wheeling Park is a short 9 hole course, with 7 par 4’s, and 2 par 3’s for a par of 34. Naturally, for the tournament you play each 9 twice. The next, day I had that same great rhythm, and shot a 2 under 66, to finish in a tie for second, one shot out of the lead. That was my last great hurrah for the seventies as life took over.

I got married, graduated from veterinary school in 75, and had my only child in 1977, in fact she was born on 7-7-77, a date I will be able to remember, even when I am senile. While in vet school, I played the Scarlett and the Gray courses, mostly the Gray because it was not as crowded, since it was not as renowned as the Scarlett. Both courses were great to play, when I was in school and it was a nice break from the grind. When you played the Scarlett, you often thought of all the shots that Jack Nicklaus hit some 15 to 18 years before, when he was at OSU. I moved to Pittsburgh in 1975, and I have been here ever since. As the 70’s came to a close, golf was definitely taking a backseat to my veterinary career, and family life. However, I was still playing about once per week, and in 1976, I would have my first of many experiences at South Park, the county course, in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. The first time I went to the course, I did not even play. I arrived at about 8:45 on a misty cold April morning, and when I walked up to the clubhouse by the first tee, I looked down and saw at least 30 to 40 people milling around. I immediately turned around, and went home. I told my wife, they must be having a tournament there, to have so many people, on such a lousy morning. I went back a week later at the same time, and the situation was exactly the same. The weather was a little better, but it was a mob scene at the first tee. I then decided to see what was going on. I went to the starter booth, and he told me it was like this every day. He told me, since I was a single, he should be able to get me out, in about a half an hour. Back in those days, the senior pass, for 60 and over, was only $40 dollars, and you could play Monday through Friday anytime, and everybody walked, to avoid the cart fee. The starter was right and I hooked up with these three guys who I still see today every once in awhile. I only remember the first 3 holes of that round, and here is the reason why. I bogied the first two holes, which are really easy par 4’s, particularly number one. The third hole is a par 5, and I really hit a good drive, which gave me a possible chance of reaching the green in two. I took a mighty swing with my 3 wood, and topped the ball right off to the left. It is one of those shots, that if you did not know better, you would have thought the ball went right between your legs. Now, I was about 180 yards from the green on the left side of the fairway. I took out my 3 iron (remember those) and hit it very well, and it scooted up the hill and right on to the green. It was a very nice shot. In fact, it was more than a very nice shot, because the ball went right into the hole for an eagle. How about that sport fans. I don’t remember anything else about the round, but that 3rd shot, on the 3rd hole, the very first time I played it, I will always remember. It was shortly after that round, about 4 weeks later, that I met up with the guys that I would play with, once a week at South Park, for the next 18 years. I enjoyed many a round with these guys, but those stories belong in the 80’s. I started my own practice in November of 1978 and that became the focus of my attention for next 26 years. Golf would have its ups and downs as we headed into the 80’s.

Golf: D. J. Dominates

Dustin Johnson wins the November Masters, with a dominating performance and breaks the tournament record by two shots, with a final score, of 20 under 268. I thought the scoring record would be intact, but the soft conditions, and the overall lack of wind, were bigger factors, than the strangeness of no crowds, and the long shadows. Johnson’s performance was complete. He drove the ball extremely well, and putted better than anybody in the field. He may have not had the best putting statistics, but what he did better than anybody else, was leave himself no stress second putts. His speed was impeccable. Johnson plays very quickly for all his shots, until he gets to the green, and then he takes more time to read a putt, than any player on tour. His routine is exactly the same on every putt, and with his new putting mechanics, this is the best he has putted in his career. The other big difference with D. J.’s game, is he does not seem to hit the really wild drive, that cost him in some previous majors. In a way, this Masters, was Johnson’s own kind of redemption, for a lot of heartbreak, in past majors. It was nice to see him win, with a complete performance, that left little doubt down the stretch, right now, he is the best player in the world. My four picks who I thought would do well did ok, with Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm finishing in the top 10. Rahm is going to have to figure out, how not to hit the horrible shot. The grounder on 8 in the third round that led to the double bogey cost him any real chance of putting some heat on D. J. For Koepka, he played well, but did not have that major championship putting, that he has had in the past. I thought Phil would do well, and for 2 rounds he was looking good until he went completely brain dead in the third round, and shot 79. Is it possible to be senile at 50? Collin Murikawa never could get untracked and barely made the cut. Tiger did better than I expected and played really well. His putter really let him down. In the second round on Saturday, he hit a horrible putt on 17, that cost him a birdie on one of the harder holes on the course. If he could have made some putts, he may have contended until the end, back issues not with standing. Then there was good old Bryson, and just like I predicted the ghosts of Augusta took care of him. After his lost ball he was never a factor. I think it was Bobby Jones himself, that intervened there. Now for some unrelated random thoughts on this November Masters, that was like no other, even before it started.

Many scoring records did fall but I am willing to bet that Corey Conners may have set a different kind of record. Who is Corey Conners? You do not want to ask that question to CBS. Corey finished in the top 10 at the Masters. He may have been on TV less than any player in history who finished in the top 10 in a major. I really do not remember seeing him at all. For a man who never misses, Abraham Ancer missed a lot of short putts. The one on 11 in the third round was unbelievable, which in my view ended his chances. There was this contrast, watching the best players in the world. On one side of the coin, you saw some of the most unbelievable short game shots, ranging from chips, pitches, and bunker play, only to see a lot of missed putts. It makes what D. J. did on the greens, even more impressive. Thanks to Justin Thomas, another player who did not putt well, we now know, how frustrating mud is on the ball. Then there’s Cameron Smith, who finished tied for second, with the help of some of the greatest recovery shots in the history of the Masters. The only player in history, to shoot all four rounds in the sixties. But come on Cameron, the facial hair has got to go. Your so call mustache, looks like you left hair remover on you upper lip. Just face the fact, that even though your 27, you look like you just graduated from high school. The facial hair and curls coming out the back of your hat do not help. When I graduated from veterinary school, I went through the same thing. On one of my first job interviews, I went in, introduced myself, and they thought I was there for the kennel boy job. I had to tell them I was interviewing for the doctor’s position. I was 25 at the time. This Masters may not go down as one of the great one’s of all time, but it was great to see Dustin Johnson win going away. After many setbacks it was nice to see his childhood dream come true.