Tiger in the Rain

Tiger Woods at Bat Hill, 2003(Photo by Brian Cleary/www.bcpix.com)Tiger Woods at Bat Hill, 2003(Photo by Brian Cleary/www.bcpix.com)Tiger Woods at Bat Hill, 2003(Photo by Brian Cleary/www.bcpix.com)
photos ©Brian Cleary/www.bcpix.com

Watching Tiger Woods claim his 5th Bay Hill title and 5th consecutive tour win in Orlando this past weekend made me think back to another Bay Hill win. I was working my "day job" as a freelance photographer (www.bcpix.com) covering the Bay Hill tournament for the Associated Press back in 2003.

Rain plagued the tournament for all but one day, with some of the hardest, wettest showers rolling in on Sunday, as Tiger was stretching his lead and starting to pull away from Vijay Singh and the rest of the field.

That wasn't the unusual part, though. What made this tournament special was the fact that Tiger was sick throughout Sunday's final round, apparently having eaten a bad meal somewhere.

Since my assignment throughout the final day was to follow the leaders, which meant Tiger, I had the opportunity to study Woods up close. through my long telephoto lens. I watched the agony on Tiger's face as he struggled through the long, wet, cold day and wondered where he was disappearing to every few holes when I would occasionally be unable to find him among the group of golfers as they approached a tee. It turns out that Woods was actually wondering off into the trees to be physically sick every half hour or so.

I began to wonder if he would even be able to finish the day! At the end of the day, Tiger won the tournament by 11 strokes, going away, and I came away with an all new sense of amazement at this once-in-a-lifetime athlete.

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Alcohol and Good Golf Don't Mix!

John Daly's most recent trials and tribulations at this week's Bay Hill tournament in Orlando caused me to stop and think for a few moments about how true it is that alcohol and good golf just don't mix! While it is conceivable that Daly's missed tee-time and "firing" by swing coach Butch Harmon may be able to be explained in such a way that alcohol was not involved, Harmon's explanation and the reported sightings of Daly drinking at some of the tournament's hospitality tents tend to make me believe that drink was somehow tied in.

All of this caused me to reflect, once again, on how alcohol has indeed affected my own game.

I can think of many times where I've been playing an absolutely horrendous round, and given up on it by about the 6th or 7th hole. When the drink cart arrived or at the turn I've bought a beer, drank about half of it only to have my game turn completely around and go on a tear of 4 or 5 holes where I could do no wrong. Of course this is usually short-lived, as one beer turns to 2 or 3 and the fine advantage gained by a slight increased state of relaxation, soon turned to the more damaging disadvantage of a lack of coordination that accompanies the alcohol intake.

As recently as yesterday, during a best ball scramble, this phenomenon showed up. On one hole, short par five, I hit my driver to with in 150 yards of the green. Between the 4 of us on the team we managed a second shot to about 8 feet from the flag, putt and we had eagled the hole. This being a scramble tournament, it wasn't long before the drink cart showed up and it wasn't long after that before my drives were not only shorter, but scattering unpredictably to the trees on the left and right side of the fairway. In matter of a few holes, I had gone from basically being "in a zone" to be out of control, as far as knowing where my golf ball was going to end up after swung.

As I said, I can't deny that on those days when stress and tension creep into your golf swing I've noticed a short, fine positive effect from a half a drink, to "take the edge off", but that beneficial area is easily overshot by an extra drink or two. Once you've passed beyond that small beneficial zone, there's no turning back. For that reason, if I was honest with myself, I would never touch another beer on the golf course, but , again being honest with myself, I'd have to admit that I've probably not swung my last golf club with a beer sitting in my golf cart's drink holder.

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Well, maybe graphite shafts aren't so bad . . .

After puzzling for a few days over my miserable driving range experience with my new Wilson Pro Staff irons (see my Feb 23rd entry), I thought it through and decided another practice round with the clubs was in order.

I figure that the more flexible, floppier, regular flex graphite shafts, couple with my normal frantic, rushed, forced swing, was allowing the clubhead to torque to the right as I came through the ball, producing the ugly little shanks that I was smacking on the driving range. I decided to go back the to the driving range with the clubs, this time pretending that I was swing a medicus trainer, or a Whippy tempomaster trainer. With these devises you can not make good contact with any kind of rushed, forced swing. Sure enough, this time out I was producing nice, fairly straight, lofted iron shots!

Next, I got my son and raced out to my home course, Riviera Country Club. in Holly Hill, FL, for a quick afternoon nine. Once again, the results were pleasantly surprising, as I was able to complete the front nine in 45 strokes, which is not bad for my current skill level.

Now I've got to readjust my thinking about my swing. Maybe these graphite shaft clubs reveal some swing flaws that my steel shaft clubs tend to cover-up. Maybe I'm rushing my swing with all my clubs, but only the more flexible graphite shafts make me pay for my hurried swing. Maybe if I apply my smoother, more relaxed approach to all my clubs, I'll benefit with lower scores and before too much longer I'll arrive in the mythical, long sought-after land of the sub-80 seventies!

Low I'm back on the Briteside of golf . . . at least for the time being.

BritesideGolf.com is a site dedicated to the belief that you don't have to break the bank to play good golf and enjoy your time on the golf course

Click here to go to Brian’s BritesideGolf Club Shop on eBay

You can contact me anytime at via email at brian@britesidegolf.com

Be sure to make BritesideGolf.com a regular stop in your online golf journey!

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