Kaymer Claims His Place

Where does Kaymer’s performance rank among the most dominant showings in major championship history? Kaymer took control when the starting bell rang and he never looked back. His wire-to-wire victory of eight strokes can only be compared with performances of names like Woods and McIlroy in recent years. Kaymer’s recent surge has been swift, especially since much of the last three years were spent in the golfing doldrums.  After winning his first major championship at the 2010 PGA Championship, which helped propel him to world #1, Kaymer decided to try and develop his game even further by adding shots to his repertoire. He felt he needed a few more shots to contend in majors on a regular basis, particularly a draw shot. These changes proved difficult and sent Kaymer into a steady slide from the top of the world rankings. But like any great German automobile, Kaymer has ironed out the changes and the engine is running as smooth as ever.

Like all success stories, Kaymer’s starts with hard work. As a young member of the German National Team, Kaymer was never the most awe-inspiring or talented. But his work ethic caught the eye of his teammates and coaches very quickly. “Kalle” as his German teammates called him, was always the fist to arrive and the last to leave. It was well known that Kaymer often took part in 6 AM swing lessons before heading to school. These 6 AM range sessions were paired with a strenuous fitness regiment, a very busy tournament schedule, and the work needed to fulfill the high academic standards present in Germany. His tremendous dedication to the game left no one to be surprised when he began to perform well at the professional level, as he won his inaugural event on The Challenge Tour. During his emergence onto the professional stage, his success struck many of his peers and members of the golf world with great admiration. But Kaymer, always humble and genuine, never let the sudden praise change his gentle appreciation for people. He continually deferred the accolades and attributed his good play to his golfing heroes and mentors, such as Bernhard Langer. This humble approach would serve as an asset during the struggles from 2011-2013.

  • Audio Clip- Bernhard Langer discussing Kaymer’s US Open victory:

https://soundcloud.com/pgatour/bernhard-langer-on-his-relationship-with-martin-kaymer

Kaymer’s dedication to his craft is most likely what allowed him to re-ascend to the top tier of professional golf, but a bit of a mental attitude change certainly helped as well. With the whirlwind of expectations that surrounded him after his first major and world #1 ranking, Kaymer got lost a bit in the surroundings. Frustration and un-realistic hopes were fueled by outside sources; consequently, the game declined. But, a re-dedication to the game and a more passive attitude while on the course were the foundation of the comeback that we have seen come to fruition in the last couple of months at TPC Sawgrass and Pinehurst #2. There is no doubt that Kaymer is one of those rare talents in a generation, and like so many of today’s young stars, he will be put to a higher standard. However, I believe he has the resolve to handle it.

Kaymer and Rory McIlroy have kind of thrust themselves forward as the leaders of the next generation/this generation. With two majors each, and world #1 rankings to compliment, they have done more in their short time on tour than many great players achieve in a career. For many golf enthusiasts, Kaymer has kind of snuck up on us, but for those who knew “Kalle” when he was just a young lad out at Mettmann Golf Club, his future success was well understood. It will be exciting to watch what the future holds for the likeable German star!

 

 

2014 Men’s US Open Review

This U.S. Open had as many storylines as I can remember. A lot of them got lost in the dominance of Martin Kaymer (blog post on him coming soon), so I am going to try and review as many of the stories as possible.

The Top Dawg

Erik Compton. I don’t think anyone could possibly pull against him for what he has been through. On his third heart, he showed a toughness that is un-matched, maybe in all of sports. Yet, he does not want the focus to be on his internal liabilities, he wants people to focus on his outward results, just like every other golfer. This is hard to do because everybody loves the story, but Erik is starting to consistently show that he can contend and eventually win at the highest level. We will continue to watch and pull for Erik to break into the winners circle, and no matter what the future holds, he has provided the sporting world with the inspiration that you are not limited to your disabilities, but limitless in your abilities.

The Future is STILL Bright

Rickie Fowler’s Sunday outfits have always illuminated the golf course, but now he is proving that his game has the brightness to match. This year, Rickie has shown us that he has sort of re-examined his game and dedicated himself to fine tuning every aspect. He has always been a hard worker, but the majority of people don’t see that behind his celebrity status and flashy outfits. It is nice to see golf enthusiasts recognize his hard work and passion for the game.

At 25 years old, Rickie is still in the first quarter of his career. The un-realistic standard brought on by Tiger Woods’ success has trapped Rickie into the harsh whirlwind of expectations that consumes all up and coming players. Unfair, yes, but it cannot be ignored- this added pressure will always be present. With one win on The PGA Tour, many view Rickie as an underachiever. But, he has four Top-10’s in majors including three Top- 5’s in his first 4 years on tour. By comparison, Phil Mickelson also had four Top-10 major finishes in his first four years on tour, but only two of those were Top-5’s.* And remember…Phil was 34 years old when he won his first major championship. Rickie is what, 16…17? Lets give Rickie some time to develop his game, because he is one of the most exciting players to hit the scene in recent years.

*Stats courtesy of pgatour.com and Wikipedia.org

Where was Brooks Koepka?

Brooks Koepka is a young, rising star that has somehow managed to fly under the radar, which might be a good thing…but c’mon…give the kid some TV TIME! Brooks birdied the last hole to move into T-4th and will likely receive an invitation to next year’s Masters, as well as guaranteed status on the PGA Tour through 2015. A successful weekend for a 24 year old. Brooks was a standout player at Florida State and a very accomplished amateur player. Another athletic looking player that seems to have chosen golf over baseball or football. He hits it miles, holes putts, and has a tough mental attitude…good combo? I am excited to see Brooks as a regular player week to week. This time next year, he will not be flying under the radar.

Pinehurst Perfected

Lush green grass and knee high rough- no thank you. This was one of the most perfect set-ups I have seen in a U.S. Open, kudos to Ben Crenshaw, Bill Coore and Mike Davis. The focal point of the golf course, the second shots into the greens, was on full display and provided a difficult and fair test. Martin Kaymer skewed the results a bit, but the scores were right where they should have been.

The re-design put Pinehurst back into its original form, the way it was meant to be played when it opened nearly a century ago. It also has saved, and will continue to save, countless gallons of water because of less need for irrigation. I hope that Pinehurst will be used as an example for courses in the future.

 

 

Whoa Lydia Ko!

How impressive is this young woman…she possesses tremendous golf talent, but she is also an incredible person off the course. Smart, great speaking presence, understands her role as a leader of not just women’s/girl’s golf, but golf in general. Every junior golfer can learn from her and incorporate some of her traits into their golf game and everyday life.

From a golf standpoint, her calmness down the stretch this past weekend was that of a seasoned veteran, not that of a girl who just turned 17 two days before! That calmness is just as much learned as it is natural…Lydia has put herself in that position many times before and learned from each occasion. You don’t show that sort of resolve by chance, you develop it over time. For all of you junior golfers- learn from Lydia. Use her as an example for how to deal with situations of pressure…. how to keep calm.

 

 

 

 

Bubba Wins, Spieth Loses?

The 2014 Masters Tournament was filled with story-lines going into Sunday…only one winner would be crowned, but there were many defeats.

First off, congratulations to Bubba Watson on winning a second green jacket…and let us emphasize “winning”. Bubba shot a majestic 3 under round on Sunday, one of the low rounds of the day. He did exactly what he needed to do in order to put on another green jacket.

Among the contenders who would not earn themselves any green thread were the likes of: Miguel Angel Jimenez, the ageless Spaniard with an exuberant zest for life, Matt Kuchar, the Georgia Tech grad who looks as happy as a child at Disney World when he is on the golf course, and Jordan Spieth.

Spieth is not the same type of personality as Kuch and Miguel, but he is honest, like-able, inspiring, and many more worthy adjectives. Spieth is part of the new breed of golfer that seems to have chosen golf over other sports like baseball and football. Thus, he brings an un-orthodox emotion to the golf course…similar to the likes of ugh, cough- Tiger Woods or Rory Mcilroy.

What is bothersome is the reaction the media gave towards the 20 year old, and his emotion during the final round. There were many critics of his behavior who posted negative response to how Jordan handled the pressure- the pressure of trying to win The Masters at age 20, in front of the world, on a golf course that can make even the greatest champions look like 7 handicaps. Jordan Spieth is a new breed of golfer- Athletic, highly competitive, highly driven. Just like a 20 year old NFL Rookie, Jordan will have to learn how to handle the pressure and throttle his emotions so that there will be no negative effect. But to criticize him as so many did, is just unfair. It is nice to see honest emotion and passion because it shows how much it means. He did not curse, or violently throw his club into Ike’s Pond…so let us cut him slack and allow him to mature at a more reasonable pace…the kid is going to be a staple point in championship golf for years to come.

Stacey Lewis Captures Women’s Open Championship by Not Forcing the Issue

Stacey Lewis captured her second major championship at the Ricoh Women’s British Open by executing clutch shots on the final two holes at one of the toughest finishes in golf. The final two holes at St. Andrews have provided some of the most dramatic finishes championship golf has ever seen. The 17th and 18th holes are very different in their challenges and require the player to make decisions when confronted with many options.

Stacey showed her resolve by executing the best possible shots over the closing stretch. Knowing she needed a solid finish to post a total that could land her the championship, she set out on thirty minutes of golf that she will never forget. After placing her tee shot in the fairway on the difficult 17th, Lewis was faced with many options as well as perils on her second shot, which many consider one of the toughest shots in golf. Lewis pulled a 5-iron and fired a shot into the 30 mph Scottish winds that landed short of the green and skirted past the treacherous road hole bunker and rolled to within five feet of the hole. She knocked the birdie putt in and strolled to the 18th with a chance to apply more pressure on her competitors.

On the 18th, Lewis found herself 40 yards short of the green after her drive and weighed her options on the approach shot. The pin was located a few paces past the deep false edge called “The Valley of Sin”, and she was between pitching over the deep ravine or putting through it. Lewis made the informed decision and putted the ball over the rolling grounds to about 20 feet past the hole. She promptly rolled the 20 footer in for birdie and essentially sealed the championship.

Stacey Lewis showed resounding poise over the final two holes when many of her competitors did not. Na Yeon Choi held a three shot lead with only six holes to go. In contrast to Lewis, Choi chose to play shots that seemed to be forced under the circumstances. Trailing by one with two holes to play, and Stacey Lewis in the clubhouse, Choi chose to go right at the flag on 17 and landed the ball a few paces short of the pin and watched it release through the green into a difficult spot. She went on to make bogey from the back of the green and end all realistic chances of winning.

Morgan Pressel also found her championship hopes unbound by overly aggressive play on the 17th. Needing two birdies for a chance to post the lead before Lewis, Pressel made an aggressive play much like Choi and suffered a similar result. Her shot was right at the flagstick but landed just a few feet from the pin and went over the green on to the gravel path. She was left with a poor lie and made a great bogey but was eliminated from victory.

Stacey Lewis captured her second major championship with a disciplined mindset and played within her game while her competitor’s forced the issue. Lewis accepted what the golf course was giving her and was able to execute shots that fit the situation. Most champions are crowned because they are able to stay within the moment when others do not. Anyone who plays competitive golf can take something from Lewis’ performance.

http://www.golfchannel.com/news/doug-ferguson/lewis-birdies-last-two-on-her-way-to-victory/

* Courtesy of Doug Ferguson. The Golf Channel.

Tiger Woods Wins at World Golf Championships; What You Can Learn

Tiger Woods victory at the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational was one of the most complete and dominating golf performances of the last decade. The margin of victory and fashion in which he won can only be compared to a handful of performances, most of which include him.

Tournament golfers can all learn something from Woods’ performance no matter what skill level they compete at. Woods constructed his victory with a few sharpened tools; iron game, putting, scrambling, and superb execution of his game plan. All of these attributes were used strategically and applied with confidence. In the first two rounds Woods was able to hit precision iron shots and capitalize on the iron game by holing make-able birdie putts. On a handful of occasions he was able to scramble from missed fairways, greens, or both by relying on his short game and decision-making. Woods relied much more on scrambling and game plan the final two rounds due to a large lead and ball striking that was just a fraction off.

No matter the situation, Woods made decisions that were well thought out and eliminated the potential for mistakes. In order to dominate as he did, decision-making must be as good, if not better, than the physical game. Outside viewers look at the margin of victory and assume all facets of his game were clicking. In reality, parts of his game were clicking at times, but the majority of the tournament-and especially the weekend, Woods was winning with his mind and not his clubs.

So how does everybody else learn from Tiger? The first step is to recognize the strengths in your game. Strengths can be consistent or week-to-week, even day-to-day, so it is important to constantly assess all areas. Good putters should build there game plan around giving themselves make-able putts as much as possible, whereas ball strikers should give themselves every opportunity to allow there long game to shine. Once the main attribute is determined, players should decide what they are doing best at that time (could be recent weeks, that day, practice round, etc.). By applying a secondary attribute, pressure is taken away form the main attribute and allows a kind of back up plan.

By using your best attributes you can build a game plan and decide how you are going to attack the course. Every golf course, tournament, and player is different so it takes some practice to determine what works best for you. You can test different strategies in practice and then apply them to competition but it will take some back and forth to make decisions.  Strategies will change over time based on how you change as a player so you cannot become complacent during your process. Watching professionals or other players can help you mold a game plan but you have to decide what works best for you.

Fear vs. Nerves; How You Can Play Golf With One

A friend of mine, who is a good golfer and played collegiately, recently asked me about what I do to handle the nerves of tournament golf. He has been out of college golf for two years now and only competes sparingly in amateur events so he admitted that his game is not tournament ready. I explained to him the difference in being nervous and being afraid. There is a fine line between the two, but by recognizing the difference, it may become easier to compete.

Embracing the nerves that tournament golf induces is the best place to start. Anyone who cares about the competition is going to be nervous during a round. At this year’s Masters Tournament Arnold Palmer, along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, hit the ceremonial first tee shot to begin the event. Afterwards, a reporter asked Mr. Palmer if he was nervous hitting that tee shot. His response: “Of course I was nervous. The day I am not nervous on the first tee is the day I quit the game.” I thought that was a really cool and honest response. One of the greatest players to ever play the game after all these years and experience, he still gets nervous opening a round. Mr. Palmer’s response should give confidence to anyone who plays the game competitively to understand that nerves are part of the game… but they can be dealt with.

Lets go back to understanding the difference between fear and nerves. If I could define the two from a golfers standpoint I would say the following: nerves are the natural feeling that a golfer feels due to the importance of playing well and knowing that you can compete at a certain level if you play your game. Fear is a feeling brought forth from uncertainty about your game due to a number of influences such as course conditions, doubt, weather, other competitors, equipment, and much more.

In simple terms I like to say that nerves makes your hands shake but fear causes you to miss that three footer. Committing to every single shot is the best way to take fear out of your game. If you can be confident in your line off the tee, confident with the club you pull or the shot you choose, confident with the speed of the greens, etc. then you can eliminate much of the fear that tournament golf can create. None of us will ever eliminate all the fear during a round, but if we commit to every shot then we might get pretty close. Remember, just because you are nervous doesn’t mean you can not play well…you just have to embrace the feeling, pick your line, and let it go.

My Take on Forbes’ “The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day”

I recently read a Forbes article titled: ” The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day” and found it very interesting. Here’s my take….

Key points:

  • “Leadership is a learned behavior”
  • “Accumulation of experiences”
  • Provide situations for easy communication
  • Challenge yourself and those who are with you
  • “Lead by example”
  • Enjoy the responsibility of leadership rather than fear it

Although this article is biased towards workplace leadership, much of the information could be applied to any situation. Whether you are talking to a fellow golfer or a classmate, learning the attributes of good leadership will help you in any situation.

This article provided two very lasting points. The first is that the article mentions “leadership is a learned behavior.” There are very few, if any, natural born leaders. Leadership is acquired through the constant application of successes and failures through circumstance. The article mentions that leadership is often acquired through an “accumulation of experiences.” This means that leaders achieve success through what they have learned from their failures.

It is important to understand that in order to become a leader you must constantly put yourself in places or situations that could result in failure. Overcoming the fear of an outcome is the first step towards leadership.  By putting yourself in these situations you will learn how to understand the cause and effect of different variables that will help you assess and make decisions that best fit the circumstance. Understanding how your body feels under pressure, learning how to communicate to a group of young kids, being the first to accept household chores, all these things can help you become a great leader.

As a little mini assignment, try and pick two areas that you either want to become a leader or improve yourself as a leader. Once you have picked two areas, apply three of the 15 things mentioned in the article that you feel would help you the most. Below is an example with explanations for why each decision was made.

2 leadership areas to focus on:

  1. Help my small group in chemistry class.

  • Challenge people to think: I feel like we are all intimidated about the subject and think there is no way to learn it, but if I can motivate us to believe we can learn it, we will.
  • Lead by example: If I take the initiative in trying to reach for more, hopefully others will follow.
  • Properly allocate and deploy talent: By understanding what each classmate does best we can break up responsibilities and have everybody teach what they learn to each other.

2. Be the captain of the golf team.

  • Lead by example: In an individual sport I feel the best way to lead is through example.
  • Measure and reward performance: By acknowledging those who are working extremely hard it will motivate everyone to work hard. Just a simple verbal acknowledgement can be enough to motivate.
  • Positive energy and attitude- By having a positive attitude, no matter what our results are, I can inspire the team to work hard. If we are putting in the work… the results will come.

You can assess as many areas as you like but do not overload yourself with too much at once. Focusing on a couple of areas at a time is plenty and eventually you will see that leadership becomes more natural and almost second nature, no matter what the situation is. Remember, leadership is learned, not given.

 

-Alan Fowler

Fair Play Initiative

Prep Golf America’s Fair Play Initiative was created to help grow the game of golf to everyone looking to participate. Many families and individuals face limitations due to financing, physical disabilities, lack of time, and much more and it is our goal to provide equal opportunities despite these hardships.

To learn about some of the ways you can help or be involved, please click on the links below. Each one will take you to a page with a different initiative for helping grow and improve the game. Anyone looking to receive information on the benefits and whom they are offered to should also click the links below.

With the growth and betterment of the game in mind, we are always looking for opportunities to add to the Fair Play initiative. Feel free to contact us with any suggestions or ideas that you have.

Money in Golf

Money in GolfThe winner’s share of the 2013 Players Championship was an astronomical $1.71 million. That is more than most will make in a lifetime and it definitely makes people discuss whether or not the amount of money professionals play for is fair. I was listening to a XM Radio golf show on the Tuesday morning following the tournament and they were discussing this very topic. Many listeners were calling in to voice their opinion either in support or against. Those in support typically argued that golf is one of the few professional sports where wages are almost entirely distributed based on performance. You win you get paid big, you miss the cut, you get nothing. It can almost be completely summed up by that statement but there are also a lot of finer details that need to be thought about….

My first thought is that like all professional sports, golf purses are determined by the amount of attention (aka: business) that they bring. Small events have smaller purses because they do not attract a top player, which means less attendance, less TV viewers, and less overall attention. Limited attention means less sponsors and smaller TV contracts. There is nothing wrong with this, to quote Charles Barkley: “that’s just simply the way it is.”

I make this observation to point out that golf is very individual not only in the way it is played but also in the business around it. Professionals choose tournaments on their own, a different course hosts each week (apart from the occasional major), sponsors work out their own contracts, as do the TV networks. All of this individuality creates a business that has very few outside influences; there are no players unions, no brand loyalty requirements, and no team owners who make salary decisions. So, individuality in golf creates an unbiased financial position that is not only fair, but also accurate.

Now, facts alone should be enough to validate my opinion…but I guess those were more subjective facts than objective so I will make one more point and if you still feel golf is monetarily over-inflated than you too have strong opinions from the other side of the spectrum; and I respect that.

My second point is that golfers put in long hours. By this I mean they generally play golf for at least 10-15 years before they ever start making money. Sure, golf is fun and for a job description there are not many things that are better but it is strenuous both physically and financially.  Competitive golf gets more expensive as the level increases and golfers will lose a lot of money before they ever start to make it. Can you imagine a job where you pay the employer about $15,000 every year for 10 years before you ever received your first paycheck? Those kind of business practices would get companies but in some pretty awful categories. I say if you have to pay to do your job in the early years then you deserve substantial rewards if you become successful at it (I am now seeing a very positive correlation between golfers, doctors, and lawyers…I bet doctors would tell you their income is worthy based on the 65 years or however long it takes to go through med school.)

So….if you still think golfers are overpaid I salute you! Post your comments for other readers to ponder and reply. Remember, the debate is all in good fun.