I love Augusta National and the Master’s history. Here’s a piece regarding the original 1934 program for the Augusta National Invitational.
Augusta National produced a very limited number of programs for its first tournament in 1934 due to financial constraints, and fear of limited interest in the event.
This is a photo of the 1934 program. The 1934 Augusta National Invitational (as it was then called) Tournament program was produced to be used as an advertising tool to solicit new membership for the Augusta National club.
The inaugural Augusta National Invitational was fortunate to gain some national exposure simply because the iconic golfer, Bobby Jones, was attached to the golf course and the tournament.
The first Augusta National Invitational actually lost money, and the purse was then assembled by a few of the first Augusta National members. But according to the 1999 book, The Making of the Masters: Clifford Roberts, Augusta National, and Golf’s Most Prestigious Tournament by David Owen, this 1934 program also was a way for the club to both make money and pitch potential members:
An additional source of revenue during the first tournament was an attractively printed program, which also served as an unofficial prospectus for potential members. The program was forty-four pages long and contained a map of the course, descriptions of the holes (written by MacKenzie), photographs of the clubhouse and other points of interest, historical information about the property, photographs of most of the members of the club, and several dozen advertisements. It sold for twenty-five cents. Overrepresented among the advertisers were the club’s numerous creditors, who had been offered space in lieu of payment.
The program was forty-four pages long and contained a map of the course, descriptions of the holes (written by MacKenzie), photographs of the clubhouse and other points of interest, historical information about the property, photographs of most of the members of the club, and several dozen advertisements. It sold for a grand total of twenty-five cents (recent auctions have this program going for 15K+). Over represented among the advertisers were the club’s numerous creditors, who had been offered space in lieu of payment.
If you listen to the pundits, this Master’s is almost anybody’s to win and I’d have to agree. There are plenty of favorites but everyone seems to have a question mark to a part of their game.
We all know Tiger is out and that leaves a big gap to fill. None of the best golfers in the world has had a particularly great start to the year. Two guys at the top, Zach Johnson and Jason Day have won, but those were early in the year. Maybe they’ve been saving themselves for the Masters. Most pros would agree that it marks the beginning of the heart of the professional season.
Jimmy Walker has already won 3x this year and Patrick Reed 2x, but they aren’t guys you would think are ready to go to Augusta and win. It’s a course that the pros say takes years to learn how to play. I feel they are much more likely to contend in one of the other majors, particularly the US Open or PGA Championship.
Then there are a lot of top players who haven’t found their form yet. Some have been battling injuries as well. Of course, they could get it together at the Masters, but is it likely. In that group I’d put Henrik Stenson, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, and Justin Rose.
There’s a raft of players who have proven how good they are, but just don’t seem to have game enough at this point. Maybe it’s too early in the season or maybe they’ve been ailing and we just don’t know it. Here, I’d include Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Gary Woodland, Web Simpson and Martin Kaymer.
Let’s not forget the young guns who can play, but will they find the emotion and inspiration, enough to motivate them but not so much that they loose the focus you have to have to win the Masters. This group includes Jordan Spieth, Graham DeLaet, Harris English, Rickie Fowler, and Bill Haas.
What’s left is an interesting group of consistent grinders and wild cards who can play great or just disappear. This includes Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Angel Cabrera, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk.
Lastly you have the old guys who might get us excited for 2 to 2 1/2 days but will likely break out hearts on Saturday afternoon or Sunday, guys like Fred Couples and Ernie Els. This might be the year that Phil joins this group, but as everyone knows, something magical always seems to happen to Phil once he’s in sight of Magnolia Lane.
I broke up all these golfers and a few more into a pool of 4 groups of 12. A group of us have a friendly wager based on picking one from each group and adding up their winnings at the end of the Masters. The person whose group earns the most money takes home the prize.
So here are my picks; Group 1 – Jason Day, Group 2 – Justin Rose, Group 3 – Steve Stricker, and Group 4 – Jamie Donaldson. It really hurt me to pick Justin Rose over Angel Cabrera who’s one of the best golfers in the world when the stakes are high and the course is tough.
I was happy to see Adam Scott win last year, but I was pulling for Angel. The man is fearless the way Gary Player was. There are 2 guys who grew up in tough circumstances that give them the perspective that golf is a fun game compared to what everyday life can be so why not ‘go for it’.
Bottom line; I have no idea whose going to win. I’ve got favorites and guesses but to me this Masters is as wide open as any in the last 20 years. Maybe it’s because there are so many very good golfers on Tour these days.
Former 2007 Master’s champ Zach Johnson is looking to repeat that magical win at Augusta in a few weeks. What’s it going to take to get him back in that green jacket?
It’s no surprise I’m a big fan of Zach Johnson. We’ve written a few pieces about him before here on GolfDash including, What You Can Learn from Zach Johnson’s Golf Swing (by the way – a lot!) There’s something about his work ethic, his faith and his “take-nothing-for-granted” approach to the game that is inspiring.
Admittedly, Zach has not performed very well at the Masters. in his own words, he calls his Masters record “average at best.” In his 9 Masters appearances he has missed 2 cuts (2009, 2011) with his best finish (after his 2007 win) was a T20 in his title defense in 2008. The rest of the years he has averaged 291 total score – that’s 3 over par! His 2007 win tied the highest overall score with a 289 (1 over par).
To keep this in perspective the last 4 years total scores (starting with 2013) were 279, 278, 274 and 272. If we take the 272 score and subtract it from Zach’s win score in 2007 it’s a difference of 17 strokes. That’s a lot of strokes to make up in 4 days!
What was it about 2007 that was different?
“It was a US Open kind of year there,” Johnson said.”It was really windy and really firm and fast. The ball released in the fairways. I putted pretty well. I haven’t putted well there the last four or five years.”
His caddie since 2004, Damon Green says he “absolutely” believes Zach can win a second Masters.
“We play it (Augusta National) every year. We know that course like the back of our hand now. When we go to these other majors, we’re having to learn all these nuances and everything every year. I think he’s more confident when he goes there, for sure.”
What Zach’s edge coming into the Masters this year? Well, same as every year – his consistency. He makes a ton of cuts. For example, last year (2013) he made 20 out of 24, the year before – 24/25, 19/23, 23/24, 22/26 – well, you get the idea. He’s 12th on the all-time money list with over 32 million and on and on it goes.
As he’s mentioned he’s not stellar in any one category but not bad in any either. I mean to make 32M you need exceptional performance – he’s got it.
Another thing people mention is that his length hampers his chances. His current stat for driving is he’s 129th with an average of 282. I mean it’s short by today’s standard, yes, but he sacrifices that for fairways hit. I mean who cares if you can bomb it 310 and you’re in the rough? Me, I’d much rather have the consistency.
But I believe the key for Zach to win is to have a good putting tournament. Currently he is 68th in Total Putting so he needs to improve on that if he hopes to become a repeat winner.
Another thing Zach has on his side is his incredible and now mature “team” working and supporting him including his caddie of 10 years, Damon Smith, swing coach Mike Bender, Fitness “Coach Noss”, Manager Brad Buffoni, mental coach Dr. Morris M. Pickens and well as a host of partners including Transamerica.
Transamerica sponsors some of the biggest stars in golf. It’s fun to see an organization that supports golf at every level. Check out the dynamic Transamerica golf team.
Zach says, “I’m the product of hard work. I’ve been blessed to play this game with minimal injuries and blessed to have a great team of individuals.” Johnson said.
Finally, I did want to mention Zach’s charity. Zach helps transform tomorrow not only for his family but for lives of children and their families in Cedar Rapids through a non-profit organization, the Zach Johnson Foundation.
Please check it out here: the Zach Johnson Foundation
Oops. One LAST thing I wanted to mention. Tomorrow, the Transamerica Google+ Hangout series will feature Zach Johnson, and hosted by the Golf Channel’s Steve Sands. This live event will take place on Tuesday, April 1, and questions can be submitted via Twitter, using the #TeamTransamerica hashtag. This will be cool – LIVE Zach!
Disclosure: This has been a paid endorsement by Transamerica.
I play at a small golf club in the South. We’re lucky to have a beautiful Donald Ross course circa 1916 which is on the National Historic Register. Who would have thunk it, but we have a bit of a handicap controversy. Maybe you’ll recognize your own club in my little story.
The short version is we don’t have a cheating problem at our club. We may have a few players who are suspect from time to time, but the vast majority aren’t that competitive. Being our average age is fairly high, golf here is more about fun and comradeship.
The most competitive golfers play on the weekends in our dogfights and these are self-regulating as a golfer’s points goal is changed every week based on last weeks play. Don’t tell anyone, but if you want to make money your better served being closest to the pin or winning the birdie train. So what’s the problem?
We have a Handicap Chairman who seems to take delight (why else would he do it) in challenging players who signed the play log but did not post a score. It doesn’t matter that they don’t play in competitions or may be 85+, he wants to know what you’re up to. As you might guess this doesn’t go over well with most of our members. In fact, there are very few willing to even play with this guy.
Mind you, he doesn’t really care that you play knowing the rules or how to take a drop from the cart path. He doesn’t get it that most of our golfers handicaps are too low because they don’t count all their penalty strokes. This is not because they are cheating (who cheats to have a lower handicap?), it ‘s because they don’t know the rules.
Most golfers at our course use their handicap as a gauge to whether they’re getting better and want to see it go down. All of which led me to do some research about golf handicaps and when they should be reported. You see, our Handicap Chairman wants you to write ‘PR’ (for practice round) on the tee sheet before your round if you aren’t going to post the score to your handicap.
What I discovered is that the Rules of Golf make no mention of ‘Practice Round’. There is no such thing, so writing it on the tee sheet means zippo. What the Rules of Golf do mention is that there are two types of rounds; those played in accordance with the Rules of Golf and those played not in accordance with the rules. Posting a score to your handicap is very straightforward. If you play according to the Rules, you must post your score. If you don’t play according to the Rules you can’t post your score. That’s it – the whole enchilada!
The USGA seems to get the point. They encourage golfers to respect and abide by the Rules and play accordingly. They also realize that there are times when you are not going to follow the rules, for instance when you are playing numerous balls or not putting out every hole.
When might you do this? When you’re trying to sharpen your game. The pros do it and I expect every golfer has done it. And, the USGA realizes it’s one of the ways to actually get better. They also realize that getting better keeps amateurs in the game and helps grow it as a sport. The USGA even has guidance for this; your rounds played in accordance with the Rules should be considerably more than rounds not played in accordance. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
If you have a wayward Handicap Chair at your course you might show them this article. Golf has always been about policing your self. If your ball moves when you try to clear a twig away, you are probably the only one who’s seen it. It’s up to you to call the penalty.
There are handicap cheats, but my experience is that they are few. Handicap Chairs are important for a club, but they must apply the rules with understanding and in a way that makes sense for their membership. Harassing golfers only drives more from the game and doesn’t really address the few folks who manipulate their handicap.
The game of golf is not an easy one to play. Everyone who has played the game knows that but if you don’t want to really suck at it, then you should probably read this.
This post isn’t for everyone. If you want to go out once or twice a year and play in your friends or a company scramble – go for it. But if it’s time (and you know it) to make a commitment to getter better at golf then read on!
Well, let’s just say here are 7 ways to help you get “less-sucky” at golf.
1. Sound Fundamentals
Let’s face it you need to have some basic understanding of golf fundamentals. Things like grip, stance, takeaway, position at impact, follow-through, balance, etc. Do you know if you have solid fundamentals? Do you have a checklist?
No one wants to hear about golf fundamentals because they’re just not that sexy. They’re not the latest “super cool” tip. They don’t sell enough magazines. But if you’re interested in sucking “less” then you need to adhere to solid fundamentals.
Jack Nicklaus used to be a maniac about these fundamentals and would spend thousand of hours working on his stance. He knew the proper fundamentals would give him the best chance for success because he could control that.
Golf is a precise game so you need to be precise about your fundamentals. Just a an inch or two can get you on the path to some serious swing flaws to compensate for less-than-sound fundamentals.
Maybe you’re just beginning. That’s fine. If I had it my way, I would teach everyone the way announcer and golf professional Bobby Clampett advocates in his book, The Impact Zone. Start small and build.
I see people struggle on the range time after time because they have no clue what they’re doing or why the ball is going this way or that.
Start with the putter, Clampett suggests. Understand that you will be practicing your stance, balance, grip and flat left wrist at impact. Then work with these same fundamentals as you begin learning how to chip the ball. If you can learn to properly chip the ball you’re already most of the way there. It’s one of the soundest ways to learn golf I have ever seen.
2. Not Willing to Get Help
Here’s the good news. It’s probably not everything you need help with in your swing. It’s probably only a few things that make up 80% of your problems. Ah, yes – the old 80-20 rule!
It’s very difficult to be objective about your swing flaws, that’s why you need to get help. I’m not saying hire Hank Haney but get to your local pro and have him take a look.
A pro will immediately be able to see where you will get the most benefit in the shortest amount of time. It maybe something that will be fairly immediate or it might take a little longer to work out. However, you will have the confidence knowing you’re working on the right thing.
What’s even better nowadays is that video is so ubiquitous that you get immediate feedback. I’m not the only one in the world who has seen video of themselves and thought, “You sure that’s ME!” It really can be that eye-opening. The positive side is that *usually* you can almost immediately see the flaw that is causing your issues.
Of course, you can also get help via the internet, books, friends, etc. but going to a pro will be your shortest and most direct route to improving your golf swing.
Note: If you do have some sort of physical ailment or condition it might be worthwhile sharing that with your pro. It might not be immediately obvious to the pro and he can help you work with (or around) it.
3. You’re Not Committed
If you’re not committed to improving your game it’s not likely to happen. What is a committment? It’s simply a decision you make. In your mind it’s kind of a zero-sum game. This WILL happen. It’s like getting to the airport. You commit to being on that plane on time because you paid for it and you have a place you need to get to. Quite simple actually.
When you put something into “committed” part of your brain, things start to happen. It’s no longer about external feelings or circumstances or anything like that. It’s what needs to be done.
If you have to practice in the rain or stay until (or any number of other things) it’s dark then you’ll do it – because you’re committed to improving your game. You’re “coming from” a place of commitment internally. It’s a new paradigm. It’s the resolve, “I’m finally resolved to get this swing flaw fixed. This is it. No fooling around this time.”
Keep in mind, committment doesn’t always work perfectly. Sometimes you will slide but commitment involves starting over. Again and again. Over time, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve traveled in your progress.
4. You Don’t Practice
Let’s face it – you have to practice if you want to become better. I’m not sure why this often comes as a shock to people. If you ask a friend, colleague etc. about what they want to get better at – and it could be anything (golf, public speaking, a new programming language, etc.) – and then ask them, “What is your practice for that?” they might look at you like you have two martian antennae poking out of your head.
Most of the time I would venture to guess that there is no structure to your practice. Once you have a structure then it becomes much easier. By structure I mean you have planned or made an appointment with yourself (just like a Dentist appointment, etc.) that you will, for example, practice 4x this week for 1.5 hours each session.
So that’s the first step, making an appointment with yourself. Next, you need to know *specifically* what to practice. You’re not going to the range to just pound a couple buckets of balls or chat it up with anyone who walks by, you’re going there to work on those specific things your PGA pro has outlined in his plan. (see #2 above)
Bring a sheet of paper with your couple of things you need to work on as defined by your pro or use something like the terrific “Habit Formation Calendar” I mentioned in the post, Secrets of Subconscious Golf. This will really help you be focused in your practice session.
PS: Don’t know what to practice today? Try reading this post: Here’s the Best Golf Drill Ever Invented.
5. It’s a Process
Realize that getting better at anything will cause some kind of disruption in your system. Meaning you’re trying to ingrain new patterns – and that takes time.
You’re going to hit a lot of bad golf shots but you need to know that’s part of the process. One thing that really helped me is the distinction Ed Grant makes in the Subconscious Golf book mentioned above is between “ball focus versus swing focus” – here, when learning a new habit, you are going to be more swing focused.
What that means is you’re not going to care much at all where the ball goes. I mean you don’t want to be hitting people on the range but you’re goal is to be focused on you’re swing mechanic and not so much the ball.
It will take a lot of self-discipline to accomplish (especially when people around you are hitting these, beautiful, crisp shots) this but you want to feel like you followed your plan for this session and you accomplished what you intended to accomplish. Feel good about that! Knowing that (at some point) the tide will begin to turn.
6. You Swing too Hard
This is such a common tendency and I, like a lot of people, struggle with this. How can you tell if you’re swing too hard? Easy – it “feels” effortful. A golf swing should be a pretty smooth, natural motion. Just try taking a swing without any ball present (or just swing with your eyes closed) – easy and effortless, right?!
Somehow you have to recalculate in your brain the feeling of a nice smooth, relaxed swing. Often, many of us carry so much tension in our bodies that we forgot what it feels like to be relaxed. But the key is you have to practice it. But it will take time to recalculate your brains idea of what it feel like to be “relaxed.” Is it worth it? You tell me after you practice for a month or two.
I’m going to generalize and say this is *mostly* a male issue. I’ve mentioned numerous times here that a good idea is to watch Women Tour players. Some really slight stature women can really hit the bajeezers out of the ball because they have a relaxed, tension-free golf swing.
Reading the posts below go into more detail on this:
7. Not Fun Anymore
When golf becomes a chore and you continually suck at it then it’s time to re-evaluate what you want out of the game. The good news? The points above can set you in a new, positive direction.
Of course, there are times when you go through stints of playing bad. You just kinda have to accept those. If you’ve been playing for awhile you just “know” this so it’s no big deal.
There were times when I first started playing that I would get so wound up after a bad round I would run to Barnes and Noble and buy golf books to try to figure what I was doing wrong.
Then one day I just realized, “Golf the next day can be totally different then the previous day” – and for no apparent reason. Somehow once I got that, I never really worry too much about a bad round.
Golf (to me anyway) should be a fun experience. You’re out with friends, walking on a beautiful landscape, getting fresh air, playing a game to keep it interesting and hitting some excellent golf shots.
At times maddening, yes, but chances are if you’re not enjoying that then you’re not going to make the commitment to get better and, well, you’ll continue to suck at it – but that will be YOUR choice.
Hitting solid iron shots is often the most difficult for the average amateur. There’s something much more natural about sweeping a fairway wood or hitting up with a driver. Good iron play demands that you trap the ball between the clubface and the turf.
In other words you’ve got to hit down on the ball, which may be counter-intuitive, but it’s also one of the most written-about golf instructions. So how does the average player learn this important technique? Like many amateurs, I’ve struggled with consistently hitting down on my irons.
Sometimes I blame it on too much practice on practice mats stuck on top of concrete, or playing munis that haven’t seen rain for two months. But that’s an excuse. When I do get a chance to play on a well manicured track, I still have trouble.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest problem with hitting down on the ball is losing your spinal tilt. Change this critical piece before or at impact and it’s impossible to hit down. You’ll end up picking the ball at best or, worst, hitting it thin or fat-city. And you’ll never get the trajectory or distance you should.
So how do you insure that you keep your tilt? As we all know, these things you can’t just will, otherwise we’d all be scratch players. Sometimes you have to find another piece in the chain, that you can control and that ends up forcing the thing you’re really trying to accomplish – in this case keeping your spinal tilt. I’ve discovered something that works for me and maybe will work for you, too.
I’ve been concentrating on the palm of my right hand as it approaches the ball at impact, but before the wrist cock is released or the wrists rolled. When the hands approach the ball and the club face is about waist high with the toe pointing skyward and the shaft parallel to the target line, if the palm is facing directly at someone standing across from me and not tilted toward the sky at all, then my spine angle is likely to be correct.
Try holding this angle for yourself and you’ll see what I mean. If you change your spinal tilt it ends up affecting the position of your palm, because of the way the hand and arm are connected to the torso.
Try a swing in slow, slow motion. If your right palm is facing out as described above and not tilted at all upwards, where is your spine? Conversely if you tilt your palm slightly skyward you lose spinal tilt. To keep the palm of the right hand in the position described is not easy, you really have to stay down and through the shot.
You’ll also get the feeling of ‘covering the ball’ at impact, something you’ve probably read about numerous times but, maybe, haven’t understood. Meaning you’re upper body is over the ball and hands leading in front of the golf shaft.
To get a feel for the you can get set up in your stance, put the ball at your back foot and really lean the shaft forward. Your hands should be close to your front leg while the iron head is still touching the ball. (see pic above)
Now just try to hit the ball into the ground – like you’re trying to bury it. You’ll get a real good feel for “covering the ball” and the sensation of ball then earth contact.
This isn’t a cure-all. You still have to swing on the right path, transfer weight, etc. But I believe it’s absolutely necessary to staying down. It won’t hurt your wood play either. Happy Golfing!
Well this is the year – It will be my first trip to the hallowed grounds of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA.
Granted, it will only be for the practice rounds but that’s fine with me. As long as I get to walk the course and see all the famous locations, holes and maybe have a pimento sandwich (or 2) I will be more than grateful.
I can’t say there is one *specific* thing that I want to see more than another (one thing I guess I won’t be seeing is the Eisenhower Tree*) but there are so many.
I can’t wait to see Magnolia Lane and Butler Cabin and Hogan’s Bridge and Amen Corner and, of course, the azaleas. There’s so much more I’m probably missing but that’s ok, I’m going to be there to soak it all up.
What I’m really looking forward to is walking the entire course. There are many holes on the front 9 that I am still very unfamiliar with so to actually walk and get a feel for the slope and distance will be very cool.
Most people I’ve known who have gone have come away with a really enjoyable experience. You would think, at this point, that the Master’s committee really has the logistics figured out by now. They plan for every little contingency I hear.
As far as predicting a winner I don’t have a clue (but that’s what makes it fun, right!) I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Tiger this year. I just have a feeling it might (finally) come all together for him at the right time for his 15th major. Runner up, Jason Day. For other tourneys you just might want to check out these golf betting tips.
I’ve been thinking of that great quote from the movie, “The Shawshank Redemption” when Red (Morgan Freeman) is hoping to get to see his long lost friend Andy (Tim Robbins) from prison who has escaped and is now living by the ocean,
I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.
I, too, am very excited, and am hoping Augusta National is as green as it’s been in my dreams.
PS: Have you been to the Master’s before or are going? Please comment. Would love to hear YOUR recommendations.
* The Eisenhower Tree was removed in February 2014 due to an ice storm.
I’m not the Ryder Cup captain, but that doesn’t keep me from giving Tom Watson a heads up on who should be on his 2014 Ryder Cup2014 ryder Cu team should be. It may be too early to say there is a wholesale changing of the guard for US pro golfers, but if not this year then it’s going to happen in the next two.
Looking at the early season here’s who makes the team:
Jimmy Walker, Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Web Simpson, Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler.
Surprise, surprise no Tiger or Phil. I know it’s early and they haven’t played much, but so far they haven’t inspired much confidence. I’ll leave it to Tom if he wants to add them as a Captain’s Picks. As for me, I think I’d pick Boo Weekley as long as he’s healthy. He’s the much needed missing link for adding a healthy dose of enthusiasm and pure fun. The Europeans have proven time and time again it’s not just about having the golfers with the highest world rankings. That leaves just a single spot for one of the old guys on my team!
This month’s “Quick Nine” is with Andy Lesenski on becoming a professional golfer. Let’s check in with Andy and see what he’s up to.
1. Andy, tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My name is Andy Lesenski. I’m 25, grew up in Greenfield, a small town in Western Massachusetts, and currently live in Northfield, Massachusetts. I have played golf my entire life, and I want to play for a living. I have a beautiful girlfriend (of 8 years) Lindsay, a degree in Criminal Justice, I’m a Boston Bruins fan, I’m a bit of a gaming-nerd, and I’m making my debut as a professional golfer in 2014!
Note: check out Andy’s site at: andylesenski.com
2. What are your golfing goals for 2014?
I have a bunch of stat goals, and I want to get a course record this season, but my main career goals are to win a pro tournament, and play in Q-School at the end of the summer.
3. What have you been doing in the off-season to prepare yourself?
Aside from hitting as many balls as I can, I have been working-out like a madman. I have also been eating properly and reading Dr. Bob Rotella books somewhat religiously. It feels great. I feel prepared, and I have been able to easily integrate these things into my daily life.
4. What new equipment will you be playing this year?
I’m more of a tried-and-true type of guy when it comes to equipment. I replace my wedges quite a bit due to wear, so I’ll replace my Titleist Vokey SM4’s. The grooves on my irons are getting close to the end of their life, so I’m in the market for new blades. Other than that…I did get a sweet, new, non-glare, paint-job on my woods.
5. Where do you think your game is at currently?
My game feels great. Despite the harsh winter we’ve had here, I’ve been able to hit balls and practice. I’ve been able to tighten up a few positions in my swing, and get a good feel for my body as I changed it. I’m very excited to test it in competition.
6. What couple things do you think would provide the biggest improvement in your game?
I admittedly, have a slight tendency to tinker, so I think getting a coach. Not necessarily a swing coach, but someone who can help me stay focused on one thing at a time.
7. What’s holding you back, why aren’t you on tour yet?
They didn’t “hold me back”, but the injuries I have suffered over the last few seasons have allowed me to learn, and realize, truly what has been holding me back. Getting injured made me realize that I wasn’t committed enough, committed to being fit, committed to being healthy, committed to being strong and committed to the lifestyle of professional golf. But I have matured and learned, and now I am those things.
8. What are some of the biggest obstacles that a new pro faces?
One thing that every new pro will face is learning that your golf game is a business, and it needs to operate like one. An obstacle that is unique to me, is becoming more comfortable putting myself out there, and being more open and candid with everyone I meet.
9. Where can people find more about you and support you?
I’ve been spending the off-season trying to sock away money for this season’s upcoming tournaments and, of course, preparing mentally and physically but expenses do add up.
Therefore, I am accepting donations in 2 ways.
1. I’m offering a T-Shirt Fundraiser (limited time only)
2. Or feel free to donate here: andylesenski.com/donate
Any and all donations, sponsorships, purchases, etc. are extremely appreciated and will support my initial path forward as a professional golfer.
The Northern Trust Open is being played this week at one the the premier golf courses on the rotation, Riviera Country Club, located in Pacific Palisades, California (within city limits of Los Angeles)
Star PGA players like Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose are making their 2014 debuts at Riviera Country Club this week for the Northern Trust Open. It always a shootout at Riviera so make sure to check sportsbooks.
The field also includes perennial fan favorite, Fred Couples, who is playing the Northern Trust Open at age 54 because he just “loves Riviera.”
Freddie won twice back in the early 1990s. He has 14 finishes in the top 10. He mentioned the greens are small, much like the courses he played as a youngster in Seattle, WA. He said the course reminds him of Royal Melbourne. It’s a bit of a stretch to make the connection from Seattle to Royal Melbourne, but he added, “Basically, it’s just fun to be here.”
Riviera CC was designed by George C. Thomas (with help from famed architect Alister MacKenzie and William Bell) opened for play in 1927 as the Los Angeles Athletic Club. It’s listed as a par 71 with a length of 7,279 yards. The private club has been a playground for celebrities like Douglas Fairbanks, Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, W.C Fields, Humphrey Bogart* and Howard Hughes.
Current celebrity members include both star athletes and Hollywood elite like: Adam Sandler, Tom Brady, Larry David, Mark Wahlberg and Billy Crystal.
Ben Hogan, who won his first US Open at the Riviera in 1948, once remarked, “Some of my most pleasant memories and thoughts are of this wonderful club and magnificent golf course.” The course is often affectionately known as “Hogan’s Alley”
Former PGA Tour player and current NBC Golf analyst Johnny Miller also said,
“Riviera is definitely one of the greatest, no-nonsense golf courses in the world. It requires a player to play every club in his bag and every shot in his game.”
The marquee hole is the eighteenth – a world-famous par four. The tee shot is blind, and the ball must find the sloped fairway to have any chance of reaching the green, which is surrounded by a natural amphitheater with an exceptional view of the Spanish-style clubhouse.
*A tree by the 12th green is still known as Bogey’s Tree, since that’s where Humphrey Bogart would relax – flask in hand – and watch the L.A. Open – (aahhhhhhhh – sounds like a lovely afternoon for me!)
Note: Black and white photo courtesy of Associated Press