Friday, 26 March 2010

How To Become a Professional Golfer

Golf
So…we see golfers on the tele, they show great composure, confidence and play some of the best golf courses in the world. How do they get on/in the box? Todays blog entry identifies the path/route to becoming a professional golfer.

How do you become a pro golfer?
Firstly the younger you start the better the chance of success. Starting young should give you more practice time/hours on the range. However there are various conflicting 'schools of thought'. Some argue it boils down to just a 'hard work ethic/sacrifice' and/or 'natural talent'. However there is some good news if you are in your late twenties or thirties. According to PGA website :

'Golfers sometimes don't make the grade until as late as their mid-30s. If it's your dream - don't give up.'
(Source: http://www.pga.info/AboutThePGAPro/33811381.htm)

How do you make the dinero?
The majority of golfers put bread on the table through coaching and affiliation with various golf clubs. Tournament golfers on the other hand are an elite few, the majority of the profession do not feature on tour. Part-taking in competitions on Tour can be expensive. If you
leave your job as an accountant and become a professional golfer, the bank manager is likely to 'gulp' and remind you of your mortgage repayment(s). You have to pay entry fees, hire a caddy, pay for a top coach, travel+accommodation expenses. Unless you make the second cut it will be an expensive folly. However if you are fortunate to 'bolt on' endorsements, the financial burden can be eased.

How do you make it as a PGA Pro.
According to the www.pga.info website, the PGA organises in excess of 900 tournaments a year with prize money amounting to 3.5million plus. Becoming a PGA Pro equips you with a broad understanding of not only playing golf but but understanding the role of golf club management.

The PGA states you can become a PGA Professional golfer via two ways:
1) Register as an assistant at an affiliated PGA golf facility, there trainees undertake a three year Foundation Degree in professional Golf Studies-accredited by the University of Birmingham (source: www.pga.info)

2) To undertake a three year BA Hons Degree in Applied Golf Management Studies at the university of Birmingham.

How to make it as a Tour Pro on the box...
Many folk become a PGA Pro initially, it acts as a safety net and gives the golfer something to fall back on.

However to play in front of the crowds and have the chance of winning great sums of dinero, the European Tour is the scheme to get into. My understanding is that there are 135 score cards available, amateurs have to compete at the tour School at San Roque for around 35 score cards (ibid). Another tour which is seen to be a 'feeder' to the European Tour is the 'Challenge Tour'. An interesting article on the 'European Tour' website summarises the difference:

“I think the main difference between The European Tour and the Challenge Tour is the golf courses. The courses on the Challenge Tour don’t seem to be as difficult as those on the main Tour, but the guys on the Challenge Tour go low every week. You have to make a lot of birdies to have a chance to win there.”
(Source:http://www.europeantour.co.uk/default.sps?pageid=127&pagegid=%7BAEFB93B0-EFF5-4C05-AB0F-FD08D947D944%7D&eventid=2006754&infosid=3&pageno=1&reportid=53632)

Other notable Tours include:
PGA America (not confirmed)
LPGA Tour (1950)
European Tour (1972)
Japan Golf Tour (1973)
Asian Tour (1995)
Challenge Tour (1986)
European seniors Tour (1992).

Overall
In a nutshell, you have to be good, whether it is down to sheer talent, a hard work ethic or both, it is tough and competitive. You will have to compete for given playing cards, and to do so you should be a scratch to four handicap. Captain Golf can conclude that it is possible to make a living from golf, but difficult. So get down to the driving range....

Next Golfing Blog
-The next Captain Golf blog entry will look at wacky places to play golf.

-Lastly,good news, the rib is on the mend, roughly two more weeks until Captain Golf returns to the range....

You can contact www.captaingolf.blogspot.com via cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com

If you have enjoyed the above, help spread the word and forward the link to a couple of folk...

Monday, 15 March 2010

Golf Language

The Lingo of Golf....

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Pull up a chair, today we look at 'golf terminology' (CLUB TYPES, DISTANCE, HANDICAP, BIRDS.....)

Golf can be an intimidating sport and one particular barrier is the lingo. I have a theory which can be applied to both golf and cricket. Golf and cricket are terrific sports, yet quite often those who dislike both or perhaps one or the other, when asked, do not fully understand the rules/principles. It is only when the lingo is explained and the core basics explored they begin to understand/like the sport.

In the words of Tom Jones 'its not unusual' to fall in love........with golf. It is also.....'not unusual' for folk to view golf and cricket as 'boring' or 'weird'. If folk were not introduced to such sports from an early age, or were in fact badly instructed (perhaps putting them off the sport altogether), it reduces the probability of them actually 'liking' the sport. With that view, I think there are far more people out there who have the potential to actually like the sport, enjoy it and try it. One of the founding pillars of this blog is to introduce more folk to golf and show what it has to offer. If one more person tries or begins to appreciate the world of golf due to this blog, then it has been worth the journey. Before we get all emotional…let us continue….

Back to basics is the message of today. Here I have attempted to mention the key terms, using them in the context of actual play. Let us begin….

Ok, you start the day at the golf club. You have your bag of clubs, quite often half a set. The rules state you can only have 14 golf clubs at one time.

CLUB TYPES
You put the tee in the ground at the 'tee box', if you are to 'tee-off' with a wood or an iron, the tee height is adjusted accordingly. A 'wood' is a name given to a golf club and has a wider club face when compared to an iron. The first clubs I used were from from my father and yes the woods were in fact wood, there were some strange looks at the driving range. Since the 70's, 'golf clubs' have come along way, many of the 'woods' are now made with the latest technology and best metals with different 'sweet spots'. A 'sweet spot' is an area/zone on the club face, when on contact with the ball will produce the most power 'umph'. Where the ball will actually end up, will largely depend on your 'grip/clasp' of the club, swing style and general posture. Golf is a game of many variables, different variable ratios will ultimately determine if you have a good round. Golf lessons are a great way to influence such variables and in fact improve the outcomes.

DISTANCE AND CLUBS
Before hitting the ball, you will have decided the club type. How? This is usually based on the distance from the tee to the pin (i.e. hole). Generally you will face a combination of Par 3, Par 4 and Par 5 holes. The higher the 'Par', the lower the club number needed. The lower the club number, the further the ball should in theory go. On a Par 4 or Par 5 you would use the driver from the tee (also known as a 1 wood). The closer you get to the tee, the higher the golf club number used, until you get so close a PW or SW are required for a cheeky chip onto the green.
The 'Par' refers to the number of strokes it should take you to get the ball into the blasted hole. How you fair, under or over par, will decide your score. A PW is known as a 'pitcher wedge' usually used around the pin or on the approach. A SW is known as the 'sand wedge' and used in the sand bunker, or again around the pin/on approach.

HANDICAP
The score is recorded in the score card. Your score is decided on your handicap. Handicap, what is a handicap? A handicap allows players of mixed ability to play against one another and truly makes golf a game all can play. Handicap is basically the number of strokes it takes you over 18 holes. A scratch golfer would have a handicap of 0, whereas a beginner like myself would play off 28, the highest (i.e. worst) handicap used. Over 18 holes, you would have 28 strokes more than a scratch golfer. So for example on a par 5 hole, you would have 7 strokes to get a 'level' par. A par 5 hole, would in fact be a par 7 for the 28 handicapper.

According to the Stableford scoring system:
2+ par=0 points
1+ par=1 point
par= 2 points
-1 par=3 points
-2 par=4 points
-3 par=5 points

If you got the ball in the hole in 6 strokes, according to your handicap you would score 3 points, as in theory it was -1 par (7 being the par due to your handicap). Whereas a scratch golfer would only get 2 points if they got the ball in 5 strokes. Over 18 holes, the points snowball, but are dependent on the ability of the given golfer. The better the golfer you are, the lower the handicap. To establish the net score, you total the number of points gained per hole.

Generally over 18 holes, the total par can range between 69 and 73 par depending on the combination of par 3,4,5's on the course. Thus on a 73 par course, a 28 handicap player will in theory be playing a 101 par course (due to the allowance of an additional 28 strokes). Clear as mud? We will come back to the above in future editions.

How do you get a handicap? Well you can not buy them on Amazon or Tesco. Many golfers have an 'unofficial' handicap (an average over courses played todate), but to play in competitions you need an 'official' handicap. You get one of these from a golf club or a national golf association.

Some courses are restricted to golfers with certain handicap levels. Why? Perhaps elitist, but guarantees a fast game of golf. If there are too many 28 handicappers on a round, it will take longer for the hole to be cleared and will create a back log. If you are new to the game and others are waiting or catching your round, keep your cool. Everyone started somewhere, and they probably hit much worse! Instead the form is to wave such golfers on and let them overtake you.

A round of golf usually involves two pairings. Two teams will be formed and the points totals tallied after the 9th and the 18th to see which team are the winning pair. Its then back at the 19th hole (the 'pub') you relive the journey, the good times and the bad.

HOOK AND FORE
Ok…you have teed off. You have hooked it, this means you hit the ball out to the right. On your second stroke you hook the ball again and see the ball heading for another group of golfers on a parallel hole. Golf insurance would be handy. The standard procedure is to yell 'fore', and with a bit of luck the golfers in danger will 'dive' to safety (away from the ball not towards it).

BIRDS
Birds….This is another gem of confusion. Albertross, Birdie....

3 under par= Albertross
2 under par= Eagle
1 under par= Birdie
Level par=Par
1 Over par= Bogey
2 Over par= Double Bogey
3 over par= Triple Bogey

An 'ace' is a hole in one, if you get one of these bad boys it will be a great achievement. Although the wallet will hurt, general form is buy everyone in the club house a cheeky pint.

SUMMARY
Ok to wrap up. Here we have looked at clubs, type of club, handicap, types of shots and names of given birds (the golf variety). In future editions we will look at further terminology and progress.

Next Blog Entry
The next entry will look at how you become a pro, how do you get on the top tours. What are the steps/procedures?

If you have enjoyed reading the above, spread the word and book mark the above page.

You can contact captaingolf at cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com with any wise words/tips.

You can also catch up on the blogs from last month by clicking the given link on the right,

See you soon

captaingolf

----------------

Monday, 8 March 2010

Eco Golf

Golf and the Environment

Good day ladies and gents. 'Golf and Climate Change', it sounds like an epic subject/topic. I would take a seat, but I am in fact sitting. When you think of a traditional golf course, one might assume that there was deforestation, inhabitants moved and local wild life affected. This is potentially a hot topic.

A true trade off is the economic benefit brought to an area that comes along with a golf course vs the economic significance of 'nature' (which some might argue is priceless) but not reported/quantified on an organisation's balance sheet. Hence some folk may argue it is 'valued less' as a result. Let us continue....

Golf courses can certainly bring economic benefit to an area. Think of the jobs, from course construction, to restaurant workers, shop employees and the network of suppliers connected to the course. Just because a golf course is/was built, does not automatically mean a trade off, golf course =harm to the environment, or no golf course=good for the environment. The management of a golf course can do much to make 'their club' greener. With the business world becoming 'greener', and climate change firmly cemented in the world media (and rightly so), there is arguably a drive for golf clubs to too 'become greener' and adopt better practices. This would not only apply to those courses under current construction, but those already in existence.

Would a green golf club be a better club than a non green club? The environment/world would be a better place if every golf club in the UK recycled 50% of rubbish, or installed energy sufficient technology. It is through collective change that a greater change regarding the climate can be brought about.

Initially what may begin to be a niche, I predict will evolve and become mainstream. Although difficult to quantify, a given percentage of golfers may restrict their course play to those clubs which are seen to be 'green' or behold eco-accreditation. If golfers voted with the £ in their wallet, other courses would be forced to adapt/change. Going green may in fact save a golf club revenue and improve efficiencies. For example a water wheel on a river running through a course could lead to the generation of cheap energy (over the longterm). Other forces at work which may make a 'club play ball' are legislative measures. If X number of companies are forced to adapt, due to legislation, change would be enforced and enshrined.

An interesting organisation that caught my eye was NGO, the National Golf Organisation, their mission is to protect the environment and introduce better and greener practices to golf courses around the world.

The green club is here to stay, which can only be a good thing, but the key question is how will the uptake increase over time and at what rate....and will it lead to a more expensive round of golf?

Next Blog Entry
The next entry will take a look at some of the golf lingo to help any beginners adjust to the great sport....

If you liked the above take a look at the blog entries for the month of February located in the archive in the right column.

You can contact www.captaingolf.blogspot.com by emailing cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com. See you soon comrades....

Friday, 5 March 2010

Bad Rib + Golf Swing= Golf Not Possible

No Pain No Gain

Good day ladies and gents. A fine day it has been, in the words of Finley Quay, the sun is shinning the weather is sweet 'oh yeh'.

I am afraid there is no zen golf entry this week, the link which was to be used has disappeared into the abyss. We must therefore reflect and move on, Amen brother.

So..what has happened over the last week? Captain golf injured his ribs on Monday. No I was not injured on the course and taken to A&E in a golf buggy, instead, having achieved success at the driving range, I played 5 aside football in the evening and took a wack to the upper rib cage, a golfer's nightmare. As a consequence, the golf lesson today was postponed. This was to be lesson 6 out of a new batch of lessons. Coach was to improve my short game on the course. Alas, friends I hope to be back in action in a week or so, ie on the course and driving range. Did we win the futebol? No, we lost and in fact got relegated (on goal difference, by one goal)....not a good day at the office.

Managed to get the rib checked over in the 'walk in' A & E but appears to be badly strained. Very impressive, only a 45 minute wait, hats off to the NHS, there has been improvement.

Bytheby, 'No Hard Hats Needed-lesson Five' is on the way soon. www.captaingolf.blogspot.com will also be including more photos/comical links in future versions...so stay tuned folks...

Next Blog Entry

The next blog entry will take a quick look at golf and the environment. Can golf be good for the environment? We will see.

Regards

captaingolf

Sunday, 28 February 2010

No Hard Hats Needed- Lesson Four

No Hard Hats Needed- Golf Lesson Four

Quite a lesson. Lesson four out of five. The coach issued a new swing which would take approx two months to implement. So drumroll, in two months we will review this golfing lesson and see the results.

What did the swing involve? Well I can conclude that it did not involve anything you would see on Strictly Come Dancing. The swing involved a twist of hips but no 'cha cha cha'. Having twisted slightly, I leaned to my left (allowing the hip to twist but stay in line) and kept the baseball cap to the right of the ball. On swinging the club, I was informed it should not go horizontal (i.e. not like the legend John Daly) but stop mid air, with a straight left arm.

So how are these mechanics translated into practice? Well with difficulty, with so many mental 'checks', you might forget that you need to hit the ball. Alas, tricks of the trade include using a long mirror often located at a driving range and found in the teaching area. You should get some electrical tape and place two lines on the mirror. Yes folk may assume you are a wee bit weird, but it should help. Why use the mirror and electrical tape? You need to ensure that the head and hip do not move beyond the parallel lines. When using the technology/video system to analyse the mechanics, all the pros maintain a movement within a 'certain' range. When your movement (i.e. a beginner like myself) breaches the given parameters/range, it will result in a duff shot.

Did it make any difference? 'Yes' and 'no' is the answer. Some horrific shots but one or two good ones. Coach advised that Faldo when training was not allowed to hit a golf ball for 6 weeks….the drill was to simply practice the swing/movement. So practice is needed.

A couple of days later I made another outing to the driving range. This was a good decision. Things seemed to click. I managed to hit around 30 balls using this technique, with no duff shots. Although still difficult when moving between the driver and the irons to maintain the consistency.

Key Criteria Learnt From Golf Lesson Four:

-Practice the mechanics, stance and swing.
-Be patient and refrain from hitting a 1000 balls until you are confident you have the right 'swing'.
-Practice, Practice Practice.
-Use a long mirror if possible.

The Poll Results
Does the brand of your golf club make you a better player?
The results were 'even stevens'. 33% reported 'yes', 50% reported 'no' and 16% were 'unsure'.

I would strongly recommend you read the comment by Mike regarding the blog entry: 'do golf brands really matter?'

He raised some excellent points, and a good comparison with playing a basic guitar (to learn the basics) before then moving on to better kit. Anyhow, have a quick look and please do add any further comments. It was an interesting blog entry and we will return to this topic in future editions.

The next poll will ask the question:

Does a 'water' feature such as a lake or river have an adverse effect on a player's score?

Next Blog….

The next blog entry will look at 'golf photography' and the 'Zen' of the golf course.....

If you have enjoyed reading captaingolf, bookmark the page and spread the word. You can also contact captaingolf at cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

No Tee?

Think Outside of the Box

Good day ladies and gents. The blog entry today is not about how you like your tea.....(sugar, no sugar, milk, no milk, herbal or traditional)...instead it takes a look at a tee used by the golfer John Daly. The key question is, does the type of tee make a difference? The answer is clearly 'no' if you are John Daly. Why use the ring pull when a golf club will do the trick? You can get more bang with your dollar, tee off and then have a cheeky bevie. Although a crate of 18 cans could slow the round of golf....

Take a butchers at the following clip:



On a more serious note...does a taller tee result in a higher trajectory of the ball? Food for thought...

Next Blog Entry

Well the block of five lessons is nearing completion. The next blog entry will look at what was learnt in lesson four regarding www.captaingolf.blogspot.com 's journey of improvement. There should be a few gems appearing in the blog over the next month or so.

Enjoyed Reading www.captaingolf.blogspot.com ? If so spread the word, more the merrier comrades.

Got an idea/suggestion? You can email me at cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com. Or simply post a message on the blog using the 'comment' data fields.

If you have not already.....look at the poll on the right...

Regards

captaingolf

Monday, 22 February 2010

The National Golf Course + Oak Tree

Practice Practice Practice

Sunday was another chance to put the coaches' words of wisdom into action. This was a three person outing at a National golf course in the UK. Unfortunately there was no time to practice at the driving range, there was an opportunity to tee off earlier ahead of two games of four pairs. Just as well, otherwise it would have been a long day.

Teeing off with the 'gatekeeper' watching, time seemed to stand still. I used the driver but sliced the ball wide, to the right of the fairway and into the woodland. It wasn't a great start. The conditions were changeable, initially we experienced snow, then sleet, rain and lastly sun. I had opted for a cheeky yellow ball in case the Gods were to let rip.

As I took my stance in the woodland, there was a beast…..of an oak tree, its trunk wide in diameter, towering over my position (although five metres away). Sods law, the wall would strike this imposing monster/menace…and it did.

An almighty ping, followed by a 'doing' and the ball rebounded off the tree and ended about twenty foot behind my original position. Still relatively close to the tee, the two four ball pairs had arrived on the horizon and no doubt witnessed this battle against the tree.

The form did improve. When the technique worked it worked well. Playing off a 28, I managed a score of 17…not fantastic but an improvement from the 9 the previous outing.

Things that threw me were striking the ball on an uneven surface….this shot was not in my golfing vocabulary. I was yet to reach that golfing level or gain that skill, as one might experience in a computer game. Other gremlins continued to haunt, including the PW and SW. My short game was well either 'long' (i.e. 'over hit', chipped beyond the green) or 'very short' (i.e. the ball went nowhere). One might conclude that my short game was non-existent. Again…I had focused so much time on the long play, I simply did not have the right technique/follow through with the PW and SW. It was frustrating. Conquer those clubs and the handicap may well fall.

Another improvement had been the lack of balls lost. It was on the 17th hole I realised this fact…..and then 'plonk' one went into the lake, further up on the same hole, there was another 'plonk', the ball landed in more water. Moral of the story is don't tempt fate.

In a nut shell, Sunday included a lot of psychology. I was defeated by frustration. We finished the course on the 19th hole with a well earn't pint.

Next Blog Entry
The next Blog entry will be look at a comical clip of that legend John Daly in action on the course...

If you have not already done so…..check the poll on the right. Does the brand of golf club really make a difference?

You can contact captain golf at cgcaptaingolf@gmail.com , any ideas/suggestions drop me a line.

If you have enjoyed reading www.captaingolf.blogspot.com spread the word...

See you soon

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