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Magazine golf tips often go far out of bounds

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

What is it with golf magazines and their "tips?" All the major golf magazines have dozens of "helpful tips" each issue, but recent issues have gone nuts with it.

Golf Magazine, for example, came out with its list of the top 100 teachers in its latest issue, combined with more than the usual amount of tips from them. Now, I don't know about you, but I rarely - if ever - find any of these tips helpful. Some are so obvious they don't need pointing out, others are so arcane and obscure they defy translation.

Some are just bad. For example, Dr. Gary Wiren said in Golf Magazine that to cure a slice, the left arm is a key. I've never had a lesson from the good doctor, but I know for a fact that those rare times I DON'T hit a slice, I get more right arm into it.

Here's a weird one: If you're hitting the ball too high, tee it higher. Maybe. Another one shows a golfer swinging a paint brush. Please.

Some are just plain stupid. Bruce Patterson instructs us to find a friend with a baseball glove and "play catch." This entails you swatting balls with your wedge while your hapless partner stands there and calls out yardages while trying to catch your whizzing golf ball with a mitt. No mention of liability issues.

With others, who do you believe? Golf Magazine says that on a scale of 1-10, use a six in the pressure you apply with your grip to the club. But Golf Digest's Jack Nicklaus says he uses a three. Who you gonna call?

My favorite tip, however, is this one: Rotate your remote control with your wrist as you channel surf. That's my kind of workout.

Consumer alert or "survival guide"

Golf Magazine's February issue has its ups and downs. Its "winter survival guide," written by Josh Dean with photos by John Lawton and illustrations by Barry Blitt, is nothing more than an undeclared advertorial, in which it hawks winter golf clothes, utility blankets and indoor golf simulators.

Cameron Morfit uses the Ryder Cup fiasco to tell us the dire future of U.S. golf and its flagging impact on the international stage. It points out how growth in the game has been stagnant in America since 2000 while participation in Europe shot up 24 percent.

Also, in his column, Peter Kostis said half of the PGA Tour's venues don't measure up as "championship"-caliber courses. He fails to give any examples.

David Feherty has always been mildly irritating to me, probably because of professional jealousy, but he does have a funny column on putting together a "golf package" for his buddies.

Of illness and collusion

Golf Digest's March issue has a terrific feature story by Pete McDaniel on Calvin Peete, which details Peete's struggle with Tourette's Syndrome. Peete actually started having symptoms as a kid, according to his doctor who McDaniel quoted. Peete's condition became worse as he progressed through the pro ranks.

Peete told McDaniel that he began having "weird thoughts," and that he had to use reverse psychology, telling himself: "You can't hit the shots, you can't putt. I won the Players (Championship) in that state of mind."

GD also has a revealing interview with former PGA Commissioner Deane Beman, with whom the magazine had feuded for many years. Beman told of how he was able to raise prize money for the players so drastically, implicitly threatening to reveal how the major tournaments colluded in holding prize money down through the years. Let me hear you say "anti-trust violation."

Beman also has this to say about outspoken broadcast analyst Johnny Miller: "I don't call Johnny Miller outspoken. Johnny Miller has a negative attitude that he displays to me every day that he's broadcasting. He displays why he quit early, because that's the way he thought."

Beman also talks about his run-ins with Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Mac O'Grady Ken Green, Seve Ballesteros and everyone else he battled during his tenure as lead dog.

Chi Chi, we're going to miss you

As usual, we have to depend on Golf Week as the magazine that gives us news. The Forecaddie points out how Chi Chi Rodriguez, arguably one of the most popular and entertaining golfers ever, will miss at least a significant portion of the Champions Tour because of a scoring average rule. This is a guy with 22 career Champions Tour victories.

The Forecaddie also tells us how Greg Norman finally admitted publicly that he used MacGregor forged irons with the name of another manufacturer, with whom he had a business relationship, stamped over the MacGregor logo. No wonder Norman's so successful as a businessman.

Worst lead for a "writer"

Golf Week's James Achenbach on the PGA Merchandise Show: "It was a wonderful PGA Merchandise Show. It was upbeat and full of optimism."

See Spot run. See the reader gag.

Monthly award for worst travel writing

Lynn Seldon, a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, wrote a story on scuba diving in Jamaica for WetDawg, "the global headquarters for adventure water sports." In it, he wrote: "The reports concerning crime and the hassles of Jamaican travel are basically a thing of the past."

Basically, that's a load of bad baloney.

No mention of the riots, barricades, police shootings and gang violence so prevalent in Jamaica, or how crime is spreading from Kingston to tourist areas. It was only a couple of years ago tourists had to scramble to the airport after the main road out of Montego Bay was blocked by mayhem.

The CIA Fact Book, updated last month, speaks of "depressed economic conditions (leading to) increased civil unrest, including gang violence fueled by the drug trade." It also mentions a "serious and growing crime problem" and points out government corruption, money-laundering, and Columbian narcotics traffickers who favor Jamaica for illicit financial transactions.

Oh, not to forget "coastal waters damaged by industrial waste, sewage and oil spills and damage to coral reefs."

Did Lynn spend his whole time in Jamaica underwater?

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Travel writers

    Bob Henderson wrote on: Mar 12, 2005

    Glad to see that you are trying to expose some of the worst "reporting" in the sports media. My favourite hate is the golf travel writers who go on "freebies" to exotic resorts, stay (free) in the best hotels and play (free) the top courses. They always write glowing reports on places the average reader (in my opinion) can't afford to stay and play.
    How about some reporting on middle-of-the-road, reasonable courses and accommodation that normal people can afford.
    In Europe, I know many nice courses with affordable green fees and acceptable, reasonably priced hotels nearby (or even on the course). I don't go to Valderrama, Gleneagles, the K Club, etc, but I do have nice golf vacations!
    Strike a blow for the common man (golfer!)


  • Magazine Tips Often...

    Harold Thompson wrote on: Mar 3, 2005

    It is quite obvious that this column was written with a strong Golf Digest/Golf World bias.
    Of the 4 magazines mentioned, I believe Golf Magazine and Golf Digest to be about equal; however, Golfweek is far superior to the pitiful offerings of Golf World.


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