Golf: A Very Interesting Video.

I watch a golf instructional video the other day, in fact it was probably about 3 to 4 weeks ago. I can’t find the site that I watched the video. I think I get e mails telling me when this site posts something, but I can’t find it on my Word Press site, which doesn’t surprise me. Anyhow, this was a golf instructional video about putting. It was done by a couple of pros from England, and they were in the US, shooting this with a pro, who had invented this putting aid. It was a flat piece of material with one side wide and the other side just wide enough that if you put 2 tees at the end of it, on either side, it left just enough room for a ball to pass in between. I assume there was some kind of an alignment aid at the end you struck the putt. The idea is to strike the putt between the tees which looked to be about 3 inches ahead of the ball. One of the English pros used the aid. He read a putt of about 7 feet. He read the putt to break about 3 inches to the right. Everything was set up, so that the device was aim at his projected target. He struck the first putt and hit the left tee, and of course, the ball caromed off, and stop way short. The pro made the adjustment and consistently put the ball between the tees at a good speed. However, his read was bad, and he missed all the putts low, by about 2 to 3 inches. He hit about 3 putts, so it was very obvious the read was wrong. The putting instructor reset everything to play more break. This time, when the pro took his first putt, he hit the right tee barely, and it threw the ball off line. He made the adjustment again and started to put the ball through the tees consistently. This time, although the putts were better, with what I call perfect speed, he was burning the left edge of the cup. When he hit one putt with dying speed, the ball fell into the hole. This device was to give a golfer proper feedback and groove a perfect stroke. This was not what I found interesting about the video. I am sure this device is great and it did what it is supposed to do very well. Here is what makes this video interesting, and extremely fascinating.

Remember, this was a PGA professional, who was doing the putting. He read the putt, and until he putted the first ball, we did not know that he had under read the left to right breaking putt. This type of putt is always more difficult, it seems for a right handed putter. His first putt hit the left tee, which means he had pulled his putt. However, this combination, of under read and pulled putt may have found the hole. By watching all three putts miss on the low side, the instructor moved the aim point about another 2 inches to the left. Naturally, there was a break in the action. When the pro hit the first putt with the new line, he wound up hitting the right tee, and again the ball was taken off line. He barely grazed it. He got right on track with the second putt, but his first couple, just grazed the left side of the cup. He died one in on the third putt. There it was on video, the famous disconnect, that I have seen all my life. Even with an experienced pro, something inside of him, which he did not realize, told him the putt was going to break more than he read. Even though he was trying to put the ball between the tees he pulled the putt on what most likely was the proper line, and didn’t even know it. Even with more knowledge, and a better, but not perfect line, he pushed the putt, on what would have been the line to take for the putt to go in with perfect speed. How does some part of us know this, but we can not communicate it, to what I call the conscious being? I have no clue to what the answer is, to that scenario. What happens to me a lot of times, in that situation, when my read is wrong, I will simply hit a weak putt. Nine times out of ten, the putt will wind up short, and drifts off in the opposite direction that I thought it was going to go. Is our subconscious that good at reading putts, and we don’t even know it. This is one conclusion that I have drawn from this. Is there a way to tap into such brilliance. Maybe Jack and Tiger already have, but just aren’t telling us. I don’t really think so, because they spent a lot of time reading putts. The purpose of the device, and the video was to show that the pros get feedback, so they know what they are doing. That may be true, but it showed a phenomenon that may be the key to finding great success on the greens.

Food: Recommendations

I am never one to make many recommendations, when it comes to food, or food products, because tastes can be so variable. What is delicious to one person may make another person throw up. However, I have come across some products that are so good, that I do feel obligated to share them. None of these foods are going to come under the heading of healthy eating, but they can be under the heading of good eats. There are 3 things that I have found to be very tasty, and a fourth that I have changed the way I make it.

Frozen pizza has come a long way, and many brands are at least, palatable. The DiGiorno Hand-tossed version is outstanding. The grocery store we go to, only seems to carry the peperoni version, but I am sure there is just a cheese version. That is the one I would recommend, and then just put on your own toppings. The interesting thing I find about the cooking instructions, is that the oven is only pre-heated to 375 degrees. Most frozen pizzas, want you to have a much hotter oven. The directions tell you to put the pizza directly on the rack, but I never do, in case there is a cheese over flow. I have a pizza tray with holes in it, that I put in the oven when it is heating. I use the convection oven, when cooking the pizza, and cook it according to the directions for 18 minutes. It is so tasty, that I will be ordering take out, only in a pinch. Have had it numerous times, just to make sure the first time was not a fluke. The first time, I was shocked on how good this frozen pizza tasted. The crust was delicious.

If you like scalloped potatoes, but don’t like to go though all the hassle of making them, try the Idahoan Homestyle Scallop Potatoes. They make other versions with cheese, bacon, and sour cream, but the homestyle seems to be the best. The directions are simple, just combine their ingredients,( which look disgusting by the way) with milk, butter, and water, and put it in the oven at 450 for 25 minutes. This transforms these disgusting looking ingredients, into a very tasty dish of scalloped potatoes. The only thing I add to the concoction is pepper, before I put it in the oven, because we like pepper. The other casserole potatoes, for whatever reason, are not quite as tasty. They make a lot of other products, that I can not vouch for, but the homestyle scalloped potatoes are very good. It has become a regular side dish at our table. The only negative, is the regular size only makes enough for 2 people. They do make a family size version, which I have never tried.

Then, there is the greatest invention since sliced bread, the Haagen-Daz Vanilla Soft Dipped Ice Cream Bars. There are a lot of great ice cream bars around, and lets face it, it is hard to screw up chocolate and ice cream. The Haagen-Daz ice cream bars are tasty, but not any better than other high end ice cream bar. What makes these bars so great is, as you are eating them, the chocolate does not flick off the bar. Praise the lord, a miracle has happened. Every ice cream bar I have ever eaten, the chocolate coating is falling off with practically every bite, and making a big mess. The chocolate on these soft dipped bars, adheres right through every bite. Every once in awhile a side chunk may come off, but it is nothing compared to the other bars. The chocolate is dark and delicious, and you get it with every bite of vanilla ice cream. I am eating one, right after I am done with this blog.

Finally, there is popcorn. I have been a microwave popcorn junkie for 25 years or longer, but after reading about how bad it is for you, I am back to popping my own again. I guess, it is all that stuff that is congealed in bag that, is going to kill you. After all these years I hope it’s not too late, to reverse the damage. When I decided to go back to popping popcorn the old fashioned way, I got on the internet, to see what methods were deemed the best. After reviewing many of them, here is the method I use, that so far has worked out well. I use my 8 quart pasta pot. I put in about 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil and 1/3 cup of popcorn. I do not preheat the oil. I cover the pot and turn the gas burner to high. I then wait to hear the popcorn, start to pop. As the popcorn starts to pop more, I tilt the lid a little to let the steam out. I will give the pot a little shake, only one time. As the popping slows down to a near halt, I will turn the burner off, and wait until at least 5 seconds when there is no popping. Remove the lid and dump the popcorn in a large bowl. No butter, just salt, and I am eating popcorn. This method seems to pop all the kernels, with no burning. I have only tried two brands Jolly Time and Orville, with Jolly Time winning hands down, for taste and kernel texture. I will try some other brands in the future.

There you have it, four things I have found to be quite tasty and and easy to do. Hopefully the pandemic will go in the right direction, and food will become a more festive part of our lives again, with more to experience, and write about. Enjoy.

Meditation: Results

When you read or hear anything about life, or life coaching, it is always about the journey not the destination. It is about the process, not the outcome. This subject, results, could have been written under any of the titles, that I discuss. Food, how does it taste? Golf, what did you shoot? Sports, what was the final score? Meditation, what are the benefits? All the answers to those questions, have nothing to do with the process, but the results. On your job, you need to have results. What is the bottom line? Every boss has said, at one time or another, I do not want to hear about any excuses, I want results. We all want to get to our destination, whatever that may be. People set a goal, and some will have a plan to achieve that goal. The best laid plans can go awry, due to many unforeseeable circumstances. This philosophy, that what’s important is the journey, or the process, is just a way to help handle failure. I am not too sure, if that’s the reason, that coaches try to get their clients to think this way, but to have this results only attitude, is not something that is going to improve your health.

There is no question, the sports fan is at the top of the list, of the results only philosophy. You will see many fans tweet, that if my team does not reach the championship game or series the season is a failure. Now in professional sports you are really fighting the odds. There are 30 to 32 teams in each of the four major sports leagues. That means, that with everything being equal, there is only about 3% chance, that your team is going to win the championship. Now, we all know that everything is not equal, so there are going to be some teams that have a better chance than others, to win the title. The teams that do win the title, seem to have some process, or plan, and when it succeeds, then everybody tries to copy them to some degree, with various results, that are usually not as successful as the original team. One thing about the process it is not ignored, especially in golf. In fact the process is given too much credit, by some professional golfers, who have had success in the past. They have a had a great stretch of golf covering years, and run into a bump in the road, and will change coaches, and swings, to see if they can recapture their previous success. Sometimes they don’t even need a bump in the road, to completely revamp their swing, supposedly, trying to get better. The best example I know of this, is Tiger Woods. After winning the Masters by 12 shots, he changed his swing. Now because he went on to have great success, that decision is not questioned, as much as it should be. There are many other examples of this in golf, the most recent is Rory Mcilroy, who is going through this process right now. He is only ranked 11th in the world, I would be changing my swing, too. Is it really the journey, and process, and what are we to do if the results are not what we want?

To get the first part of question out of the way quickly, the answer is a resounding no. If this kind of thinking helps you, then go ahead and continue, but do not delude yourself into thinking, that results do not matter. The one factor that is forgotten about, when there is any successful outcomes, whether it be on a small or short term scale, or a large or long term scale, is luck. Yes, that’s right good old luck. We never give luck enough credit, whether it be good or bad luck. The reason for this, is if we think luck played a major role in our success or failure, it takes the results, out of our hands. It can also, make it seem like all the hard work we put in, may have been wasted, if we were not lucky. Instead of being grateful for our good fortune, we brush it under the rug, and try to forget about it, because we do not want to lessen our accomplishment. This doesn’t really lessen the accomplishment, it is just our perception. When our luck is bad, we don’t talk much about it then, because it looks like complaining. If it is not the journey or the process that is important, how are we to handle the less than desirable outcomes or failures. You have to handle failure with acceptance. In other words you almost have to be happy to fail. This will not stem your desire to succeed, but it will allow you to move on, and possibly try again, or move into a totally new direction, with a new plan. It is the process that allows you to try and find your path. There is that fine line between having faith in yourself, and continuing on the journey, or finding a new path toward a different life goal. It is the hardest part of the whole process, of finding your way through this life. Results are important, but the most important part of any result, is what you do with it once you get it.

Sport: Pittsburgh Pirates 2021

In a few hours from now, the Pittsburgh Pirates will embark on the 2021 season. This will be the first full season of the Ben Cherington-Derek Shelton regime. The predictions for this season are dire. One headline read, the Pirates embark on their 2021 season, and they are going to be terrible. One person on MLB Network predicted they would lose 115 games, which would be one of the worst seasons in Pirate history. This is all because the Pirates are on the rebuild, or are they? When pressed about this, Ben Cherington has refused to say the word rebuild, and nobody seems to notice. If the Pirates are rebuilding and/or tanking, why didn’t they get rid of everybody. They only made 3 trades, and yes, they added a lot of prospects, to the point, that they have moved into the top 10 of minor league systems. But they still have Adam Frazier, Colin Moran, Kevin Newman, Gregory Polanco, Jacob Stallings, Erik Gonzalez, Richard Rodriguez, and Steven Brault. With the exception of Polanco, all of these players have value, and would have brought even more prospects to the team. The one excuse that is made, is that these players will have more value at the trade deadline, and will bring even more prospects, as the Pirates languish in last place in July and August. The other reason given for such a poor season this year, is how bad the Pirates were last year. They had a record of 19 and 41, which would compute out to 51 and 111 for a 162 game season. In my view, the Pirate management looked at last season as a lost season, anyway. Instead of trying to win games, management decided to evaluate talent for 60 real games, and I think they succeeded. During the 60 game season, they played players all over the place, and used a different batting order, almost everyday. This led to some surprising cuts at the end of spring training. The most surprising in my view was Geoff Hartlieb. He has looked very good at times, and last year had an ERA+ of 127. Obviously, at least for right now, the Pirates feel they have better options in the bullpen, than Hartlieb. The same thing can be said for Edgar Santana, another pitcher with decent major league experience and an ERA+ of over 120,the last 2 years that he pitched. Not putting Cole Tucker and Todd Frazier on the opening day roster, is significant. What kind of season do I think the Pirates are going to have?

I think this team will play right around .500 baseball, and with any luck will finish with 85 wins. Now things won’t have to be perfect, for them to do this, but a few things will have to break their way. The rotation is very thin, and they will have to avoid any more serious injuries, like what’s happened to Steven Brault. He looks like he may be able to return in June, but who knows. The infield is solid and hopefully will have some improved hitting from Frazier and Newman. Moran at first base may be a disaster, but I think Phillip Evans may wind up as the regular first baseman, and Todd Frazier may come up and fill some of that void. Hayes at third, will be solid, no matter what he hits, and hopefully he reaches full potential this year. The outfield does not have a lot of depth but again Evans and Adam Frazier can fill in there, but I hate to see Frazier move off 2nd base, where he really seems to have found a home. Hopefully, Brian Reynolds can get his hitting stroke back, and I am confident he will. Then there is Gregory Polanco, the 11 million dollar man. Hopefully he does not run into anybody and end their season like he did last year. Since 2014 he has had 3 decent seasons for the Pirates and 4 horrific seasons either due to poor play or injury. He practically destroyed his body, sliding into second base in 2018, and has not been the same since. He has become the project of the Pirates hitting coach, Rick Eckstein. If Polanco can stay healthy and have a 2 to 3 WAR season it will go a long way in helping the Pirates, be a competitive team. The bullpen should be solid, and it will be interesting to see how Shelton handles the various arms, and how the Pirates are able to finish close games. I think one of the biggest keys, will be if Richard Rodriguez can develop into the main high leverage guy, and if he doesn’t who will. We will all see what happens with this young Pirate team. Every 10 games I will do a blog on how the season is going. I watch every game they play when televised. I also watch the game with no sound. I am not going to listen to Joe Block, ask questions, that my grandson would ask, who is just learning the game. Could this season be one where they might lose a record number of games? Maybe, but I do not think so. See you at the 10 game mark. HAPPY OPENING DAY! Let’s go Bucs!

Golf: Sam Snead

Sam Snead is the golfer, that is most overlooked, when talking about the greatest golfers of all time. Other than Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, there is not a lot of argument given, for anybody, to join them. in the discussion of the greatest golfer of all time. In fact, in some rankings, you might find Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Bobby Jones, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Walter Hagen, and even Harry Vardon ranked ahead of Snead. The biggest reason for this, is that Snead has this gaping hole in his record, of never being able to win the U. S. Open. He finished 2ond four times, and the one that stands out, is the 1939 Open, where he needed just a par to win the tournament, and made a triple bogey 8, to fall to 5th place. Snead said, that he thought he needed a birdie to just tie for the lead, and played the hole aggressively, which resulted in the 8. Such a thing would have never happened today, with all the scoreboards around. It is not to say that he would have parred the hole, but he certainly would have played it differently. But Snead’s career had many more highlights, than lowlights.

He won 7 major titles, 3 Masters, 3 PGA’s, when it was a match play tournament, and one British Open. He has 82 official PGA tour wins, and but also a total of 142 professional wins, including being the only man to win an LPGA event. It was in 1962, a par 3 event in Florida, and Snead defeated 14 LPGA players including Mickey Wright. It was held the previous year with 24 men and women playing, and Snead finished 3rd, losing by 2 shots to Louise Suggs. Snead joined the tour in 1937, and over the next 25 seasons won at least one tournament every year, except for 1943, due to military service, 1947, and 1959. He won the Greensboro Open for the 8th time, in 1965, at the age of 54, making him the oldest winner of a PGA tour event, to this day. He won on the senior tour in 1980, making him the only golfer to win senior and regular tour events over 6 decades. Snead made a lot of noise on the PGA tour, even when he was in his sixties. He made the cut at the U.S. Open at age 61, which is a record. He finished in the top ten in three consecutive PGA Championships at ages 60 to 62. In 1974 at 61-62 years of age, he played in 13 events, made the cut 11 times, and finished in the top five 3 times, a 2ond, a 3rd, and a 4th. In 1979 at age 67, still competing on the PGA tour, he was the youngest player to ever shoot his age. On longevity alone, this man could be considered the greatest of all time. His greatest year was 1950. Playing in 25 tournaments, he won 11, finished second in 5 and 3rd in 2. Yet, Ben Hogan was voted player of the year, because of his comeback, and winning the U.S. Open, his only win that year. Before Tiger, Golf Digest voted Snead the 3rd greatest golfer of all time, behind Nicklaus and Hogan. There has always been, some kind of prejudice against Snead, for some reason, in the golfing press.

Snead had this kind of down home folksy persona, but he was, also, pretty much of a skin flint, and was always looking for ways to make money, from everyday activities. There were many stories from the Greenbriar, where he was the pro, where he would ask to join a group, then ask for 100 dollars, from each member of the threesome, to do so. He was notorious for not tipping caddies, and for keeping all his money in cans, buried in the back yard. Nobody in the media, really wanted to ordain this guy, with the G.O.A.T. tag. The U.S.G.A. never seem to like Snead either. The method of croquet putting, where you straddle the line, was invented around 1961, and was being used in sanctioned professional events. It wasn’t until Snead started using it in 1967, to combat the yips, that the USGA got all up in arms about it, and banned the method in 1968. Snead was considered double jointed, meaning he had hypermotility in his joints. There is the famous picture of Snead kicking the top of a door frame when he was in his seventies. How much this helped his swing will never be known. Sam Snead was just a better and more natural player than Ben Hogan. When you think of the greatest golfer of all time you can not simply look at statistics. Think of a beautiful and powerful swing that created some of the finest shots in the history of golf. Think of somebody who played competitively, on the PGA tour, for over 40 years. Think of Sam Snead.

Food: Cholesterol, Fat, and The Mediterranean Diet

This blog is going to discuss three aspects of nutrition, but not in the way you might think. There is a massive amount of information on all three subjects, on the wonderful internet. What is interesting, is how much conflicting information there is, especially about cholesterol. One thing is clear, despite all the negative aspects of having too much cholesterol, or too much fat in your diet, both have very specific, and necessary functions, to maintain proper health. Unless you are suffering from severe malnutrition, or have some odd genetic issue, it would be extremely rare, to have not enough cholesterol and fat in your system. However, there does seem to be this obsession with fat free foods, so it could be possible, that if someone went to extreme levels, with some of these fat free foods, that they could wind up with some kind of fat deficiency. Let’s look at what cholesterol and fat are supposed to do.

Cholesterol is necessary to make hormones, helps the body make Vitamin D from sunlight, aids in digestion, boosts the immune system, helps maintain cell wall flexibility, and improves brain function. Boosting brain function is one of the most important things it does. Over 25% of the bodies Cholesterol is found in the brain. There are two types of cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL). Lipoproteins are the particles that transport cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood stream. Triglycerides are the main constituents of natural fats and oils. The LDL is often call the bad cholesterol. However, this is the cholesterol, that travels to all the areas of the body, and allows cholesterol to perform it’s functions. What makes it bad, is that if you have an excess of LDL, then if will have a tendency to attach to the inside of blood vessels, which causes the blockages, that lead to heart attacks and strokes. The HDL is called the good cholesterol. This cholesterol transports the LDL back to the liver, where it is eliminated from the body. HDL can help break down that sludge, that forms on the arteries. HDL does nothing to help cholesterol do its job. FatĀ is an essential part of your diet. It provides energy, helps absorbs certain nutrients, and maintains your core body temperature. It also combines with cholesterol to do many of the same functions, that cholesterol does. Again there is good fat and bad fat. The bad fat is call trans fat and saturated fat. Trans fat is the worst fat, and is found in a lot of processed foods, and red meat. When you consume trans fat, you increase the bad cholesterol, and decrease the good cholesterol, the dreaded double whammy. The good fat is polyunsaturated fat, and is found in fatty fish, and various oils. It is the good fat, because it contains the omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids, which are necessary for brain health and cell growth.

This brings us to the Mediterranean diet, which is the diet of choice to try and control your cholesterol, and take in the healthy fat. It is a very flexible diet, but it does want you to limit your intake of red meat and pork, to no more than once a week, for either. What the diet wants you to consume, is lots of fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, some grains and nuts. Stay away from the processed foods, and you are well on your way. The Mediterranean Diet is big on the use of Olive Oil. Olive Oil falls under the heading of monounsaturated fatty acids. Nuts contain this kind of fatty acid. This fatty acid is considered a healthy fat, which lowers the bad cholesterol and raises the good cholesterol. Try to explore the Mediterranean diet, and make it become as much a part of your lifestyle as you can. The biggest thing is to avoid processed foods at all costs, because they are going to be loaded with trans fats. Here, is what I consider are the worst. Breakfast cereal, potato chips and chips of any kind, processed meats, such as bacon, lunch meats and hot dogs, microwave popcorn, and fruits in syrup, are to be totally avoided. Things that are frozen or dried, are not quite as bad, and can be eaten once in awhile.

When the subject of cholesterol and fat are explored on the internet, the opinions are as varied, as eat all the high fat and cholesterol foods you want, or do not eat anything, that you would consider high in either. Obviously some middle ground is needed, and the above should get you started. The bottom line on all this, is to start to make and eat real food. It is not that hard to do. There are great granola recipes, made from rolled oats, if you have to get a cereal fix. There is a great variety of foods out there, that are easy to make, and will lead to a healthier body.

Golf: Intention

When you look at the title of this blog, you may think, that intention should be under meditation. If you google intention, you will find many sites related to life goals, and ways to make powerful intentions. Intention may be the one tool, that we are leaving out of our golf games. I was going to hold off on this blog for awhile, because I think intention is the thing that as sparked my own golf game, but I wanted to get more rounds under my belt, before I wrote about it. I have played 13 rounds using intention as my main thought process. What prompted me to write about this now, was watching the Phoenix Open. I do not think I have seen so many top players struggle so much, during a final round. The leaders were putting balls in the water, in the cacti, in sand traps, and missing more putts than I could count. When Brooks Koepka pitched in for an eagle on the 17th hole, I clapped, and said out loud, somebody finally did something. It was the winning shot of the tournament. After watching so much failure, from the best players in the world, it made me think that maybe everybody is missing intention in their golf game.

Intention can be defined in different ways. Intention can be something that you want, and plan to do. Intentions can be how you want to feel, or simply what you’d like to get out of the day. There are websites dedicated to how to go about setting intentions, to make your life powerful and strong. This is a breakdown of what most of them say. Set an intention and let it go. Set these intentions when you are feeling content and not when you feel you are lacking something. Detach yourself from the outcome. Allow the universe to handle the outcome. Try keeping the mind quiet. Keep things on the short term. Keep things positive and make sure that your intentions are always evolving. Try to stay in the present moment. You can see how all of this can be applied to golf. One of my favorites is keeping things on the short term. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Another one I like, is to keep your intentions evolving, because that is what the round is going to do, evolve. Before we move forward, we need to differentiate between intent and visualization, since visualization is so much a part of golf. There is some debate on this subject, but I do believe there is a distinct difference. Intent is a determination to do something. Visualization is related to mental imagery. You can visualize golf shots, but you must apply intention, as the final step. I will say, visualization is not as big a part of my game, since I have applied intention. We have all been there when our golf games have abandoned us. Here are some examples of things that have affected my own game. Hitting the poor tee shot into trouble. This may happen about 5 to 7 holes into the round. It does not really matter how I am scoring. I have hit 4 or 5 drivers in the round, and they have all been very good to excellent drives. The holes, however, have been fairly easy driving holes and now the 8th hole has some trouble on it. I do not care where the trouble is, left or right or on both sides, just a narrow driving hole. I have hit good drives up to this point, but sure enough my drive on this hole finds the woods, water, or worse the out of bounds. Another good example, I am hitting the driver well all day, even on the tight holes, but my irons into the green are atrocious. Then, there is the day that on the par 3’s I am hitting great iron shots, but I am driving so bad, that you never get to take advantage of your good iron play. Finally, there is putting. Of course putting would be involved, when you are thinking about missed opportunities, or bad shots. I may start out a round not playing all that great, but my putting is holding the round together, because I am making some nice par saves by sinking a handful of 6 to 10 footers, or longer. Then like many times in golf, I hit a good shot out of the blue, to about 10 feet, for a birdie, and of course, I miss the putt. This is where I believe intention can help reduce and eventually eliminate these bad shots.

How do you apply intention to your golf game? When those bad shots happened in the past, I would look at various things to help correct the problem. I would look at my swing. In fact there is one train of thought that your driver swing and iron swing are two different swings. I got away from that process, and also got away from swing thoughts on the golf course. But that does not mean I do not think about anything. On driving, the old thought process would be to try and visualize the shot and try to avoid trouble when the situation called for it. When it came to iron shots, the first thing I would have to do is to figure out what club to hit. In that process you weigh things like the wind, and where the trouble is around the green, and whether I would hit a draw or fade. This thinking would sometimes lead to a lot of indecision. On short shots you would try to visualized the shot, and you would do the same thing on putting. When you begin to put intention into your game you wind up making the game much simpler. It comes as close to trying to play with a blank mind as you can get. Now, when I have a driver in my hand, I go through my routine, but now I think simply of where I want the ball to go, which is the middle of the fairway, no matter what the hole is like. With irons I still have to go through the process of picking a club, but once the club is chosen, I simply think of where I want the ball on the green. With the short game and putting I think of where I want the ball to end up, in the hole. One little adjustment I make, which I think is critical, is that before I execute the shot, I look at the spot where I think I will pick up the ball, when I look up. On full shots I look at spot in the sky, and at about the height, I think the ball will be. On short shots, I look where I think the ball will be when I look up. I do the same think on putts. Since I have been doing this, I work the ball less consciously, but I work it more intuitively. I am aware of, but pretty much ignore trouble. Since I have been letting intention be my main focus during a round, my scores have been, between 72 and 84 with 9 out of 13 rounds being in the 70’s. One of the biggest improvements of my game has been the rhythm of my swing. I can’t say it never gets out of whack anymore, but it does not happen very often. Intention is something that is simple, but can be hard to put into practice, with the usual things going on when playing golf. Only time will tell if this will be a permanent, and beneficial way for me to play golf. It may take a lot of time, since we are in a winter wonderland right now, in Western Pa., with no end in sight.

Sports: The Division Playoffs

I watched all four division playoff games this weekend, for the first time, in about 20 years. This is what a pandemic can do to you. Normally, I would watch parts of a particular game, or the ending, if it looked like it might be close. Professional football is not what it use to be, and the game is really not all that exciting. We are down to the final four, with the Green Bay Packers hosting the Tampa Bay Bucs, and the Buffalo Bills, taking on the defending champs, Kansas City Chiefs, in Kansas City. I am going to give a brief synopsis of each game, because that is all they deserve, and then just some random thoughts, as it relates to the Steelers, and TV coverage in general. The first game of the weekend was Green Bay beating the L. A. Rams. By far, the most impressive unit of the weekend, was the Green Bay offense. But even as impressive as the Packers were, the Rams were still in the game trailing 25-18, going into the 4th quarter. The Packers got a great break on a fumble, that went right back to Aaron Rodgers, and then a few plays later, hit a 58 yard bomb, to wrap up the game. Then came Buffalo and Baltimore, or should I say, Bufoonalo and Butchimore. Between dropped balls, missed field goals, penalties, and general ineptitude, this game was laughable. The only good sequence of plays for both teams, came at the start of the second half, with Buffalo driving down, and scoring a touchdown, and then Baltimore doing the same thing, until they got inside the 10 yard line. That is when Buffalo intercepted a horrible pass from Lamar Jackson and returned it 101 yards for a touchdown and for this game, an overwhelming lead of 17 to 3. The next day started with Cleveland playing Kansas City. Even though Kansas City won by only 5 points, 22-17, and Kansas City lost their quarterback to a concussion, you never really thought the Chiefs were going to lose. Another game that featured a lot of dropped balls, and that ill-advised attempted stretch across the goal by the Cleveland receiver, which resulted in a touchback and Kansas City’s ball on the 20 yard line. There were some gutsy fourth down calls, but other than that another sleeper. Then, New Orleans decided to gift wrap a game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Three turnovers all leading to touchdowns for the Buccaneers, with one touchdown drive being 3 yards. Another game where there were many mistakes, by both teams. Buffalo and Tampa Bay, will have to elevate their games, if they want to be competitive next week.

There were 5 quarterbacks over the age of 35, in the playoffs. Going from the youngest to the oldest, they were Aaron Rodgers 37, Ben Roethlisberger 38, Phillip Rivers 39, Drew Brees 42, and Tom Brady 43. There is no question that Ben plays like he is the oldest. My suggestion would be to shed the weight, and get back to playing the game. Both Brees and Brady made successful quarterback sneaks. Aaron Rodgers looks very mobile in the pocket and at times will pick up good gains running the football . Brees seems to have lost some arm strength but seems to move pretty well. Brady looks the same as ever. Ben, you need to recapture that zest to play the game. It was ironic to see so many 4th down chances taken in the Cleveland-Kansas City game, after Pittsburgh punted the ball away last week. The Browns went for it on 4th down, with more time on the clock, and deeper in their own territory. It’s called going after the win, Mike Tomlin. The coverage of the games was not too bad, but it did have it’s humorous moments. Tony Romo saying there is no way they are going to snap the ball, when the Chiefs snapped the ball and won the game. Troy Aikman still does not like any officiating calls and is always quick to point it out. But my favorite “analysis” was during the Green Bay game. There were two plays that were exactly the same thing but because the result was different there was a different analysis for each play. Aaron Rodgers was under pressure from the L.A. defense, scrambled around, threw slightly behind the receiver, the ball went off his hands for an incompletion and the L. A. defense was giving so much credit for “disrupting the play”. Then later in the game the exact same scenario happen. This time Rodgers scrambled, again threw the ball slightly behind the receiver, but this time the receiver caught the ball. The defense got no credit and it was all Rodgers. There is no question that dropped balls are pretty much ignored by the announcers of the game. They do mention them, of course, during the play itself, but the significance of them is quickly forgotten. I think that they want people to forget about some of the poor quality of play in the NFL. All networks are too busy trying to show replays and many times do not get back to the action until right when the ball is snapped and sometimes just after. This can be very annoying. Not quite as annoying as conducting interviews, while the game is going on. That has cut down, thanks to Covid. Next week will be the Championship Games, and it’s a good bet we won’t see any, that will be considered a classic.

Golf: Stories, The 80’s

As far as golf was concerned, the 80’s were just the opposite of the 70’s. The decade started off slow, due to work and family commitments, but ended with a bang. We joined Rolling Hills Country club at the end of 1986, and I went from playing 3 to 4 times per month, to playing 3 to 4 times per week. I have continued that rate of play, except when I went on a golf hiatus from 94 to 96. The reason I took a hiatus from golf will be covered when I discuss the 90’s. In fact, the Rolling Hill years will be covered, when I write about the nineties. The eighties were the South Park group, and I went on one unusual trip to Winged Foot Golf Club, in the early eighties. I played some of my best golf, during this time, and shot my two best rounds 67, both at South Park. On July 19th, 1988, I made my third hole in one, on no. 8, at South Park. This was the first hole in one, that I saw, and got to take the ball out of the hole. The unusual thing about this hole in one was, we had to wait, while the greens cutter changed the pin. I was the first player of the day, to hit at that pin. I hit a pitching wedge. The ball hit about 2 feet to the front and right of the hole, took one big hop, and then sucked right back into the hole. It was nice to make, what I called, a complete hole in one, almost 20 years to the day of my first hole in one, July 31, 1968. Before I get to my other South Park experiences, lets take a trip to Winged Foot.

A friend of mine Bill, who was a professor at a small school in Allentown Pennsylvania, had tutored a student of his, and helped him get through some classes. His dad, who was a member of Winged Foot, as a way of showing his appreciation, said he could come out and play at Winged Foot, all 36 holes, as his guest. When he said he could bring a friend, Bill called me, and I didn’t have to be asked twice. We were going to play 36 holes on Saturday. I left on Friday morning to head to Allentown to pick him up, which was about a 5 hour drive. I owned a Lincoln Towne Coupe, which was a big black two door sedan. I must preface one thing. I do not get cars fixed, as long as they are running. The knob that you pulled out to turn on the lights was broken, but the Lincoln had a sensor, so when it got dark, the lights came on. I was driving east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and there are a couple of tunnels that you have to go through. I noticed, when I was in the tunnel, that my lights were not coming on. I did not think much about it, but I should have. I picked up Bill, and as we were heading for his student’s home in New York, it was getting dark. You guessed it, I had no lights. We stopped at some repair shop in New Jersey, and they could not fix the light switch, and did not know why the sensor would not work. It is easy to tell this story now, but at the time this was very upsetting, because these people were waiting for us at their house and apparently had some kind of spread, for us to eat. If you have every watched the movie Along Comes Polly, a character in the movie says that he just sharted. When Ben Stiller says he does not know what that means, he says you fart and a little shit comes out. Well, through this stressful situation, I had done the same. It’s not the greatest feeling in the world to be standing in some godforsaken car garage, with a spray job in your pants, and a car without lights. We were able to get down the road with flashers going, to a motel, in Paramus, New Jersey, the home of Championship Bowling, hosted by Fred Wolf. I just thought, that this was quite ironic, that I use to watch Championship Bowling every weekend, as a kid, and now I was going to spend an unexpected night in the town where it was telecast. Needless to say I dumped the underwear, no pun intended, and was just thankful to be able to get to a motel, without getting arrested. The next day went much better and we played 36 holes at Winged Foot. I got in a lot of sand traps that day. We played the West Course in the afternoon, and the old adage of practice makes perfect came true. I was in 8 green side bunkers on the back nine, and got up and down 7 times, to shoot a one over 37 and a 78 for the round. I hit one of my greatest bunker shots, that day. I had short sided myself in a very deep bunker. With very little green to work with, I cut under the ball, and when I looked up, it seemed like the ball had gone right through the lip of the bunker, but barely cleared it, winding up about 6 feet past the pin. I made the putt for another sandy. Thankfully the trip home was not as eventful and I did get the lights fixed.

The rest of the 80’s was highlighted by my South Park foursome, as I liked to call them. They were a little older than I am now but we all walked the course. We were the first group that teed off, that could see their drives. The first two groups in front of us, teed off in the dark, and we would never see them again. We took about 3 hours and 20 minutes to walk 18 holes. I played close to 400 rounds of golf with these guys at South Park, and we never had to wait one time to hit a shot, except for somebody finishing up cutting a green, or changing the golf hole. The group changed a little over the years. In the mid 80’s one of the group passed away. I have written previously about how one of the guys got kicked out of the group for hitting the wrong ball. The last 8 years from 87 to 94 the group stayed the same. I played some of my best golf with this group. I shot two 67’s and I had my best 12 stretch of golf, ever, when I was just about ready to walk off the course. Four of the first 5 holes are fairly easy at South Park, and if you are going to have a good round, you need a couple of birdies, during this stretch. This particular morning, I got off to a bad start, and was 3 over after 5 holes, and when I put my tee shot in the sand trap on the par 3 sixth hole, I was ready to walk off the course. Then, I hit the most beautiful bunker shot, and it wound up 2 inches from the hole. I just felt this really good rhythm, when I made the shot. I decided to continue, and went on to birdie 6 of the next 12 holes to shoot 69. Playing with those guys was a great experience and I always appreciated them allowing me to play with them, all those years. As the 80’s drew to a close I was playing more golf and fully entrenched in playing at Rolling Hills. We will hit the country club set when I delve into the 90’s. A decade that saw me go from not playing for a couple of years to playing on professional tours.

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.