Better Turn–Better Swing

Stand around the first tee on any given Saturday morning and several things are obvious. For the purposes of this article the one that concerns us is the lack of turn most males (and a lot of females) have in their backswing. If the idea is to pivot without swaying so your back is towards the target while not collapsing your arms, most of us haven’t got it.

MISIG in use horizontalAsk any instructor. With a proper backswing hitting the ball effectively becomes more than likely…without it, luck enters into the result a lot more than we want.

So with that all in mind I agreed to test the MSIG device which I first saw at the PGA Merchandise Show last January. Most of us, including myself, could be more flexible. And since flexibility is a requisite to a proper swing if we want to improve, get more distance, achieve more consistency and walk off with the pretty girl we have to do something.

Enter the MISIG from the fertile mind of inventor Bernie Fay who was looking for a way of stretching and strengthening his shoulders to offset the aches and pains of aging so he could enjoy playing golf more. After trial and error he came up with a simple device that he found not only helps to “limber up” prior to a round but since the device almost “forces” the MISIG shaft into the proper position, repetition goes a long way to teaching a correct backswing plane.MISIG product

Out of the box the MISIG is easy to assemble then just wrap the Velcro closure cuff around the lead arm above the elbow, grab the sliding grip with the trailing hand and make a backswing. What I felt immediately was a tremendous stretching of the back muscles and lead forearm but something else just as important. When I turned my shoulders 90 degrees the MISIG shaft was exactly on plane, i.e., pointing parallel to the target line.

I am now using the MISIG as part of my exercise program and though I can’t say it’s increased by drives by 30 yards I can make a much freer turn.

MISIG, which stands for “Most Important Stretch In Golf,” retails for $79.99 online at feelthestretch.com. It comes with three stretch cords (light, medium, strong), the shaft with sliding grip and arm cuff.

And, oh yeah…I lied about the pretty girl.

Images courtesy of the manufacturer

Where Have You Gone Tiger Woods?

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Let’s be realistic. The game of golf and the PGA Tour need Tiger Woods. Even with the travails of his private life reported on and viewed on every television and computer screen, we still need him.

Call it charisma, cache or whatever but the excitement Woods generates moves the needle unlike anyone in our sport since the heady days of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Sure today’s young guns (described by somebody as a “golf’s boy band”) draw attention but Woods was and is a winner and a unparalleled cultural phenomenon. Just ask Phil Mickelson who has a record matched by few with the ninth most wins all-time but he’s 9 majors and 37 wins behind Tiger. And in case you don’t think this separates Tiger and Lefty from the rest of the pack, the next highest winning total by players under the age of 50 is Ernie Els with 19.

The expectations of the so-called “Tiger Bubble,” where millions of new participants would take of the game because Woods made golf “cool,” didn’t result in a large number of committed players. For all the optimism of how a non-Caucasian star would “change the face of golf,” it didn’t happen.

Golf today reflects our society, its strengths and weakness and on the whole is a positive for the roughly 25 million who play, at least occasionally. Of that number an estimated 20 million tee it up several times per year making golf a significant part of their lives.

Having said that, we know the number of rounds of golf played is the primary determinant for course revenues, equipment sales, travel and all the other parts of the industry.

A healthy, competing Woods draws attention like no other athlete and that encourages players to play more and possibly even attracts new participants. There probably is no other single event that would trigger as much interest in the game as his return and golf industry companies would have to capitalize on it.

It could be a big deal. Say if somehow a Tiger return leveraged by smart course management (not simply price cuts but creating real value for customers) could translate into rounds played going up a modest ten percent. That’s about 40 million rounds and a simple multiplication assuming a $40 average greens fee and the result is $1.6 billion which doesn’t include the sales of equipment and apparel, travel, food and beverage…Well, you get the idea.

The industry needs a catalyst such as a healthy Tiger Woods.

From a fan’s perspective how great would it be to have Tiger tee it up this week at Oakmont against Day and Spieth and McIlroy and Scott and the other younger players. Or as long as we are dreaming.

Can you image the TV ratings if Lefty and Tiger were tied going in to the final round, battling it out on Father’s Day? The companies funding the telecast with their advertising would have a bonanza of viewership for their products and services.

Yes, golf needs Tiger and let’s hope all the speculation of “if he will return” becomes meaningless when he does.

Arnie’s New Book

71tbxrJiCwLHe doesn’t play any longer and perhaps his step has slowed some but Arnold Palmer is still The King and what his millions of fans may not realize is he has authored or coauthored more than a dozen books.

And there is to be one more to be titled, “A Life Well Played: My Stories,” a follow up to his 1999 biography. The announcement came from the publisher St. Martins Press a division of MacMillan Publishers.

In a press release the 86-year old Palmer was quoted, “Though I have written a number of books in the past, this one was particularly important to me, because, as I delved into the process, I realized just how much I still wanted to say to my friends in golf and to fans of the game in general. Going through the exercise of getting it all down has been personally satisfying, but I couldn’t have done it without a dedicated group of individuals who truly believed in this project.”

The new book talks about his life bringing new details to some familiar stories and giving readers added insight with previously unpublished ones. His success golf and business has always been notable for his going about it the right way and always giving back to the fans who made it all possible.

Generous and a true gentleman, Palmer is the gold standard of how to conduct yourself and in “A Life Well Played: My Stories” there a dose of advice and guidance plus sharing of his career in golf, business and many charitable causes.

Publishing date is October 25.

Nicklaus Nine for Disabled Veterans

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The “Nicklaus Nine” at American Lake Veterans Golf Course (Lakewood, Wash.) opened this weekend appropriately during Jack Nicklaus’ own PGA Tour event, The Memorial presented by Nationwide.

The Golden Bear donated his design services for the new nine to encourage more veterans to participate and enjoy golf. It is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and the 400th course worldwide since his first in 1969.

“It is a very interesting thing to watch these guys that come home after serving our country and to help them transition back to society. Golf has been a big, big booster to a lot of the guys that have post-traumatic syndrome,” Nicklaus said.

“We’ve got a lot of men and women coming back home, and they need our help,” he added.

The Nicklaus Nine opening coincided with American Lake’s annual volunteer appreciation tournament with a ceremonial ribbon cutting by Joanne Hatner, whose father was the director of the VA Hospital during the first ribbon-cutting ceremony for the course in 1957, an event she attended.

Ken Still, a member with Nicklaus of the 1969 Ryder Cup squad hit the first drive representing close friend Nicklaus while the Golden Bear is in Dublin, Ohio at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

“Kenny called me, oh, I don’t know, six or seven years ago,” said Nicklaus, “and he told me, ‘Jack, I need your help. We’ve got nine holes of golf out here, and it’s playing 40,000 rounds a year. We need more golf. All these veterans, they’re unbelievable, and I want to help them.”

“’I want you to design another nine holes,’” Nicklaus recalls Still asking him, “‘and fix up the other nine.’ Well, we’ve raised the money. We’ve done the renovation work on nine holes. And we’ve gotten the [additional] nine holes built.” The much-anticipated expansion will be open for others to play beginning Sunday, June 5. The course is ADA-accessible and is run by 200-plus volunteers and operates without any federal funding or paid employees.

“I could not be happier that American Lake turned out to be Nicklaus Design’s milestone 400th golf course,” Nicklaus said. “Everything that American Lake stands for parallels our mission at Nicklaus Design, and that is to give people a place to recreate and congregate, and to design a course that best services the needs of the people who play there. It’s been a labor of love to be involved in the planning, fundraising, groundbreaking and design of the Nicklaus Nine at American Lake. I have always said that, in some ways, golf course design is a vehicle for me to give back to the game of golf. This time, we get the opportunity to give back to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives and limbs so we can live free in this country. To thank our nation’s heroes in this small way really is my privilege. It is the least we can do for the 1% of Americans who protect the other 99% of us, reminding us that there is nothing free about freedom.”