Saturday, August 30, 2008

PGA Expo Day 1

Arriving in Vegas was a really exciting. Our Taxi ride from the airport was quite short because we stayed the first night at the Luxor, which was a 10 minute ride from the airport, so I did not get to see much of Vegas on the ride over, except for all of the tall buildings and the Sphinx as we arrived at the Luxor. We arrived at 8am and we could not check into the hotel until 11am, so my mom and I grabbed some breakfast and explored the hotel and eventually made our way over to Mandalay Bay where the expo was taking place. We got our badges and boarded the bus and headed over to one of the golf courses where a golf tournament for the PGA Expo was being held as well as demo day. I was expecting to see all of the big club manufacturers there showing off this years equipment and I was hoping to find some new clubs for my mom, but sadly this was not the case. I was really surprised that the only big club manufacturer there was Callaway! There were probably about 30 tents total on the driving range, with the Ogio trailer in the parking lot, a few putter companies on the putting green, and some random golf companies selling spikes, golf tees, training aids, etc... We first went to the putting green because I saw a demo of a putting training aid that help you practice the arc of the putting stroke.

It was made by Momentus Golf, which I found out is created by Butch Harmon. I have been wanting to get a putting training aid for a while even though the towel between my arms works well, but sometimes you just need something else to practice with. My next stop on the putting green was at Hot Rod putters.

The rep explained to me that all of the good putters on tour have a blade putter and blah blah. I didn’t really understand the concept of the new putter design and how it would help you putt better. It didn’t work for me, but my mom liked it and was putting well with it. I don’t really believe that just because a pro uses a certain type of club that is it the best club for me. Everyone learns as well as feels/sees different things with equipment and no matter who is playing with whatever clubs they may not be the correct club for me. So when the rep told me that all the great putters use a blade putter it didn’t mean much to me. Annika used a two ball putter her entire career and only just switched to a blade putter a few months ago. We moved on to the driving range and tested out some drivers from companies I have never heard of as well as tested some cool training aids. Probably my favorite demo was more of a golf fitness training aid. It was called the Power Reactor. This awesome machine was featured on Fore Inventors Only on the Golf Channel.

I tested this machine right after I hit some ball with a new driver and my shots didn’t look so good, and when Marcus, the inventor of the Power Reactor, asked me to throw the ball at the trampoline and I kept hitting the padded area of it instead of the center. He told me the reason why that was happening was because I wasn’t keeping my head down, which I occasionally forget to do when I haven’t touched a club in a while. But overall I thought this was a great golf training aid that can be used as a fitness tool as well. It really worked my core and all in all felt really good. There are other exercises that can be done with the medicine ball and trampoline to work your core as well as help with your cardio. I hope we can get something like this when my club builds up the new gym. Here is the website for this amazing exercise tool and on this website you can view videos on youtube on how it works.

After we tested the machine my mom and I went back into the club house since it was so hot and that there wasn’t much else to see and we boarded the bus back to the Mandalay Bay Hotel. We walked back to the Luxor hotel through a walkway they have between the two hotels and in it there are all kinds of shops and restaurants.

My mom and I were walking through and we saw this awesome golf bag. There were two, one was white and a full cart bag, and the other was black and more of a cary bag. We went into the store and saw the black bag up close and it had small skulls on it in gold.

We thanked the people at the store and continued walking back to our hotel and I read that there was a dinner that night for the PGA expo at the House of Blues with a concert by Dennis DeYoung and music from the Styx. The Styx was a band from the 70’s-80’s before my time, so I wasn’t that enthusiastic about listening to them, but I wanted to see what the House of Blues was like so my mom and I went back to the room and took a nap before we prepared to go. At about 5pm we made our way back to Mandalay Bay and when we arrived at the house of blues no one was there.

It turned out that the concert was the next day. So we went to have dinner at Stripsteak and we decided to split some chicken with truffle mac and cheese and have some nice wine.

They brought us this amazing appetizer which was three different kinds of seasoned french fries each paired with its own sauce. The first one was garlic fries paired with ketchup, the second was fries seasoned with truffle oil and a truffle cream dip, the third was paprika seasoned fries with bbq sauce. They were all so good that I could not pick a favorite and I could not stop eating them. Thankfully they only gave us a little bit of each. The chicken arrived and the truffle mac and cheese was unbelievably delicious. If you ever have the chance to go there you must try the mac and cheese. It also comes as a side order so you can have it with the stake as well. But, one thing to be weary about is that for our chicken we were charged twice for the chicken even though we told the waiter that we wanted to split the chicken since we understood that it was a whole chicken. But, in fine print it said that they charged $29.99 per person,and it was only half a chicken, which I think is ridiculous, but it’s Las Vegas what can you expect. But, in the end we only ended up paying $85 or so with tip for dinner which is a great price in Las Vegas. After dinner we walked around the Mandalay Bay a bit and we played one of the poker slot machines and after a while I was so tired of it because we would never get a good hand. But again, I guess that is how the slot machines are. We went back to our room and prepared for the next day.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Golf Channel Amateur Tour at Apple Mountain

So my promise of a Tuesday post was smashed, but I will blame it on our Tour Director for taking so long to get the pictures to me. :) Nevertheless, I got my pictures and here we go. This was the first time I had played this course and there has always been talk amongst the players that this was the hardest course on the tour and most people didn’t play in that tournament because they had a bad experience. I was told I wouldn’t like the course because I had to drive it straight in the fairway, and before I got my clubs cut down that was a bit of a problem for me a times. This tournament was farther than I had ever driven to a tournament and it felt even longer. Towards the end of my drive up I was getting really tired and I had to make a stop at McDonald’s to just get the blood flowing in my legs and get something in my stomach. After I ate I got back on the road and made my way up towards Lake Tahoe to Camino. As I got closer the navigation in the car said that it would not be able to complete the directions because it had not mapped out all of the roads. I began to panic a bit, but thankfully I remembered the exit off of the freeway and after I got off I turned into a parking lot and got on my iphone and I got the rest of the directions from the Apple Mountain website. So, in a sense MY BELOVED IPHONE SAVED ME!!! I got there safely and warmed up and mentally prepared myself for the round to come. There were a lot of ravines on the course, so knowing my yardages and where I could layup was key, and my Sky Caddie played a very big role that day. I felt really comfortable the entire day with my driving and iron shots. Probably the only thing I would change was that after my first mistake with my hybrid clubs it didn’t click that I was standing to far away from the club until the 18th hole, which caused the ball to have a slight tail right. This caused me to have quite a few shot where I could have been on the green in two, but because I started to top it or have the tail I just couldn’t get the yardage I wanted and it would end up in the hazard. But, what I was the most proud of was that the tournament before I was uncomfortable with yardages between 70-80. So I practiced those week before the tournament and they really came through for me and I was so happy that I practice a shot like that.

One great example was on a par 5 I hit my third shot to about 70 yards away, and it was uphill and I could only see the top of the flag. I felt comfortable with this shot and I took aim right at the pin and the ball came off really nicely and the ball ended up hitting the pin and landed a foot a way. I was so happy that I took a picture (left). My ball is the closer one. :)

The second time it really came in handy was on a par three, some of the men on the tour have been complaining that I get to hit from the first tees so I have been moved back, which isn’t a problem, but on this par three I had 70 yards exactly to the hole and I was practicing my short pitch shot with my pitching wedge and the rest of my group was standing on the tee and one of the guys under his breath, but loud enough I could definitely hear said, “there is no way she is going to make it with that shot!” It shocked me quite a bit since I was already over the ball, and I just said to myself yes you are yes you are. You are going to make it, this is a shot you have practice and you can do it. I calmed myself and hit the ball. I caught it a bit thin, but it ended up being the closes to the pin out of my group, and I just picked up my tee and said “and you said I wasn’t going to make it.” I missed my birdie putt, but made par so I was happy about that. The entire time I never thought once that I was going to win, I knew that if I just played my game that I would post a good score and that was all that mattered. We finished and I ended up with a 92 and I wasn’t sure how that would hold up. I had a 92 in the last tournament and I was badly beaten by and 87. On this tour you never know what is going to happen. So I walked in to turn my card in and one of the other guys who outplayed me last time said, “you have to beat a 104.”

I happily smiled and said, “ I think I got it.” I went to the car to put my clubs away and change my shoes and then made my way back to where everyone was and kept my fingers crossed that no one one had beaten my 92. As I walked in to the grill everyone in my flight stood up and applauded. It made me feel really good and then our tour director Phillip presented me my award and said that I had beaten everyone by eight shots. It felts so good to win especially since I drove so far to play in the tournament.

I earned enough points with this win to put me in third place for the points standings for the National Championship. The top four from each flight get to go, so hopefully I will keep my spot after this weekends tournament since I am taking a break and I hope to go into the tour championship feeling even more confident with my game and ready to win. A win will guarantee me a spot to the National Championship in Florida, which has been my goal this season. Up next I will be attending the PGA show in Las Vegas!!! I am very excited about it and I can’t wait to get there on Monday and I will be taking tons of pictures so stay tuned.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Apple Mountain Golf Resort

The tournament this weekend went really well. I will get into it in more detail, once I get pictures for it, but I will say that it was a great course and a huge boost in my confidence level. I ended up winning and beating the other players in my flight by 8 strokes! I promise I will have the rest of the story up asap!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Importance of Club Fitting

First off I have to apologize for not keeping up with all of the happenings in the golf world, but I will do my best in the next few days to catch up.

Now onto the art of club fitting. I have always thought that going to a club fitter was only meant for players who had a handicap of ten or below and not for a "beginner" like me. When Taylor-Made had a demo day at our club I tried out all of their new clubs and I found a set I liked and the guy watched me hit balls with a launch monitor and recommended changing the lie about one degree and having the length a bit longer than regular woman's clubs. I agreed even though I thought it was a bit long, but he is a professional so he should know more than I would about what would improve my game. I had a lesson once I got my clubs and my coach (Kris) said that they might be too long, so I asked our head club pro and he watched me hit some balls and he thought that the length of the clubs were fine. So, I just adjusted to them and I played a few tournaments with them and had good results, so I did not think much about it until just recently my coach suggested again that my clubs might be too long since I was struggling with my swing. I gave in and went to The Golf Lab / California Golf Technologies and had the guy check me out on several machines with tape on the club and then he checked the stiffness of the shaft, and came to the conclusion that all of my clubs were too long and he would take off about an inch from each of them including my wedges. I got them back on Wednesday and of course I was eager to play with them, so I did, and I ended up shooting my best round at my course! I shot a 44 with one bad hole that I got an 8 on. I felt so much better with each one of my clubs, especially my driver. The clubs felt so much shorter, so I felt at address that I could get through the impact zone without having to use my hips or anything else to make it happen. Since I am short having my clubs fitted for me was something really important and I expect some great and new things to happen with my golf game because of it and I can't wait to share them with you once they happen. The moral of the sroty is that no matter how good or bad you think you are once you understand the concept of the swing you should get clubs that are fitted to fit your natural swing! Up next is another golf tournament for the Golf Channel at Apple Mountain Golf Resort, which I have never played before so it will be exciting to see what happens.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Michelle Wie at it again

I apologize for the late posting, but here is how Michelle fared against the men last week at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open.

The first day Michelle shot a great round of 73 which put her in a good spot to make the cut on Friday. However, her round of 80 on Friday blew her chances of making the cut. Thursday Michelle carded 3 birdies, 11 pars, and 4 bogeys. Friday she carded 2 birdies, 11 pars, 3 bogeys, 1 double bogey, and a 9 on a par 4. Her driving accuracy for both days averaged to about 68% and driving distance averaged 301 yards, with an average of 25 putts per round.

Even without her 9 on the par four she would not have made the cut. The cut was at even par, which meant that Michelle had to have a great round of at least 3 under to have a chance to play on Saturday.

I think the media put too much pressure on her to play better than the first day and to make the cut. Even though after her round on Thursday she said in her interview that she was not focusing on making the cut and just focused on playing solid golf, I think the idea of making the cut had some effect on her. I am definitely not criticizing her decision to play on the PGA since she was feeling really good about her game and she had a great showing at the State Farm Classic on the LPGA tour, and I think she thought it would be OK to play in a PGA tournament because she was feeling confident about her game. But, She is also running out of options at this point since she is only allowed six sponsors exemptions per year and she is trying to make enough money to gain LPGA status. My one problem so far is that she refuses to play on the Duramed Futures Tour or go to Q-school and take the path everyone else has to take in order to receive her LPGA Tour card. She may be a professional, but that doesn’t mean that she is too good for either option. If she thinks she is so good than she should be more than happy to go to q-school and kick everyone’s butt and show every one that she can play some awesome golf! And as we saw at the State Farm Classic she is more than capable of doing so.

For those of you who do not know what happened at the State Farm Classic, Michelle had a great two days of golf, but was sadly disqualified because she did not sign her scorecard before she left the scoring tent after the first day. The tournament director allowed her to play the second day and informed her of the DQ after her round. You can see her first round scorecard here.

I truly think Michelle just had a bad day of golf last Friday at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open and she just needs to keep playing golf and refining her game and just suck it up and play at q-school so she can get her card and we can all move on.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ricoh Women's British Open - Day 3

Day two of the British Open was a bit on the uneventful side. There were no major moves up the leader board. Yuri Fudoh expanded her lead by a few shots, and no one seemed to be able to make a run with the harsh playing conditions. Lorena attempted to make a run, but found some swing troubles and her tee shots were going right on the back nine, which gave her some more trouble. Cristi, Juli, and Natalie put themselves in good position for Sunday,so let's see if one of them could make a run for the win.