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The Skins Game

If you watched the Skins Game yesterday and Saturday you would have had some
of the basic Colonel Bogey principles reinforced. The announcers started discussing
the 2003 Masters at one point and talked about the usual pressure on Phil Mickelson
to win a Major. One of the announcers said that the key for Phil was Patience
and then mentioned the work “patience” at least five times in the next couple
of minutes. A few minutes later this announcer said that he wanted to return
to the Masters one more time because he questioned Phil’s planned approach.
He said that Phil had announced after another disappointing year this year that
in the future he planned to be more agressive in the final rounds of future
Majors, hopefully to put some distance between himself and Tiger. The announcer
then said that again he thought that the answer was “patience” not more “aggressiveness.”
He said something along the lines that Phil should not assume that Tiger would
be perfect and that if Phil played even more aggressively he would likely throw
his own game off.

Once again we are reminded that the secret to golf, “patience” is known by
but not necessarily followed by the top golfers and golf announcers. If you
have been following the Mickelson
you already know that Phil’s problem in the Majors has not been a
lack of birdies but rather the number of bogeys and worse that he usually gets.
So 2003 should be another interesteing year for us to watch together.

Another interesting and surprising thing that came out of this year’s Skins
Game was that in the previous 19 years there had been only six eagles. There
were two this year. The reason I say this is surprising is that the format for
the Skins Game encourages aggressive play since there is a strong likelihood
that someone is going to birdy every hole. Thus, playing the kind of smart patient
game that pays off in stroke play is discouraged.

The Perfect Swing

You may not have the perfect golf swing and you may have cemented that imperfect
swing through years of practice. But the Colonel’s philosophy and teachings
will still help you achieve your goals of success on the golf course. People
may some day talk about you the way the head golf pro in a novel* talked about
one of his members:

Standing in the pro shop doorway, he watched with morbid fascination
as Jonathan Jerico got out of his cart, teed up a ball and took a couple
of limbering-up swings with his driver. Observing that swing, any pro
alive would have sworn that its owner never had broken a hundred –
and never would. It was Jerico’s proud boast that he was a self-taught
golfer. Which was mighty decent of him, Don thought, for in his opinion
any pro who would teach a pupil that swing should be stripped of his teaching

If there were a single principle of a sound golf swing that Jerico failed
to violate between first address and final contact, Don had yet to discover
what it was. His knees were too rigid. His weight shift was awkward. His
body swayed badly.

His head turned, his left arm collapsed, and his right elbow flew out
from his body as if planning to drive home a hara-kiri sword. So far as
the arc made by his clubhead in leaving and returning to the ball was
concerned it could only be described as somewhere between a figure eight
and an “S” curve, or the motions made by an ax-wielding woodsman
who inadvertently had stepped into a nest of snakes.

Even so, Jerico managed to play the game surprisingly well. His secret
weapon, Don knew, was confidence. Complete, utter, unshakable confidence.
From the moment he turned off his hearing aid – which he invariably
did when he played – there was not the slightest question in his
mind that the shot he was about to hit would be struck perfectly. If,
by some strange freak of fate, the ball was struck less perfectly than
he meant it to be, he immediately made a self-diagnosis of his swing,
discovered what he had done wrong, lectured himself aloud as to what measures
were needed to correct the error, and undertook his next shot as supremely
confident as he had been on the first tee. As a result, he was an extremely
tough man to beat in a money game.

Don Crowe sighed. Given that kind of confidence and the sharp tee-to-green
game he himself had possessed fifteen years ago, he could have made Palmer,
Casper, and Nicklaus weep bitter tears. Instead he had had a balky putter,
a wife, a baby seven months on the way, and a mounting pile of debts that
had made him forsake his dream of being the best of the touring pros in
exchange for a modest but regular paycheck.

* pp. 19-21 of The Country Club Caper (copyright 1971, Doubleday &
Co.) by Bill Gulick (author of Hallelujiah Trail). Printed with permission.

The Colonel Bogey™ Way will show you how patience plus persistence will
help you build the confidence you need to enjoy every round of golf you play
for the rest of your life. If you are like others who have tried playing golf
the Colonel’s way, six months from now your bad scores will resemble your
good scores today.

Colonel Bogey does not disagree with taking lessons from a
teaching professional and certainly believes that it is easier to play a great
round of golf with a perfect swing than it is with an imperfect one. However,
the reality is for some people that it is easier to quit smoking after 30 years
of 3 packs a day than it is to change your golf swing after 30 years of the
same hack (so to speak). So if you have found that you are one of those people
who just can not adjust to a brand new swing then don’t despair. There is hope for you yet, and you will find it on the pages of Colonel Bogey Online.

Birdies and bogeys

Birdies/Score vs. Hits/Runs

How big a role do you think birdies play on the pro tour in determining who wins the tournament? If you are thinking “decisive,” you are wrong. If the number of birdies or number of strokes under par, (gross negative score, GNS) before counting bogeys or worse, determined the winner of a golf tournament, the list of winners each week would change dramatically. Determining the winner of a golf tournament on the basis of holes under par would be equivalent to determining the winner of a baseball game by hits rather than runs.

Example: Colonel Bogey™ has long been a fan of and subscriber to Golfweek (full disclosure: no doubt partly because Golfweek’s predecessor Florida Golfweek carried a Colonel Bogey column many years ago) but even Golfweek can be trapped by the conventional wisdom that it is primarily birdies and eagles that determine the weekly winner on the PGA Tour. The lead headline on the cover of the 10/26/02 issue of Golfweek stated “Burns turns aggressive, goes low at Disney.” The inside story began:

“Funny, but it wasn’t until Bob Burns was on his way out of Las Vegas Oct. 11 that he decided to roll the dice. Stunned that he had made 19 birdies in three days yet missed the cut and faced yet another lost weekend in his quest to tie up his PGA Tour card for 2003, he grew bold in his moment of ire.

He swallowed hard and took a swing for the fences.

‘I’m going to win next week.’ The journeyman with –count ‘em—absolutely zero previous PGA Tour victories proclaimed to his caddy…”

And Burns did win! But not because he turned aggressive or went for the fences at Disney. On the contrary. Read on:

In Las Vegas, Burns had 19 birdies in three rounds for an average of 6.3 birdies per round. At Disney, Burns had 28 birdies for an average of 7 birdies per round. While this is not an insignificant difference on the PGA tour, remember that in Vegas Burns missed the cut, while at Disney he won the tournament. So, what was the real difference? At Disney, Burns had only three bogeys so that his average net below par for each round was 6.3 strokes (an average score of 65.8) while in Vegas while he had 19 birdies in three rounds his net below par for each round was 2 strokes (an average score of 69).

The difference was that Burns reduced the number of strokes over par from an average of +3.7 strokes per round in Vegas to an average of +.75 strokes per round at Disney. He didn’t go for broke and make more birdies. He played smart and made fewer bogeys so that his birdies really counted!!

How big a difference did this make?

The difference between missing the cut, making no money, and winning $666,000 and all the pluses that go with a tour win.

For you the difference may be just between losing or winning a few bucks in your weekly Nassau, but winning could become a habit. If you havn’t already, isn’t it time to
start playing the Colonel Bogey way?