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Posted by on in Village Blogs

I know there is a crisis coming in my game. I could tell when I hit a ball last week at the practice range. I kept making the correct swing, but still it wouldn’t go away. As I shifted my weight to the left side on the follow-through, the toe of the golf shoe on my right foot flipped loose.

Yes, this is a crisis for a guy who plays Golf Like You’re Poor -- a GLYPer -- and has zero in his budget for equipment. That shoe is going to continue to break down as long as I keep swinging correctly and transferring my weight, so I better find a way to get a new pair.

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Posted by on in Village Blogs

When the Champions Tour event in San Antonio was moved last year to the new Pete Dye design at TPC San Antonio, how ironic it was that Bruce Lietzke was the fellow trying to turn on his mates to Dye’s work.

Lietzke was the PGA Tour‘s “player consultant“ for Dye on the design of the Canyons Course at TPC San Antonio. But as a young PGA Tour member during the late ‘70s, Lietzke showed up in Dallas for the Byron Nelson Golf Classic when it was played at Preston Trail Golf Club and snickered when asked about the holes there that had been redesigned by Dye. He repeated a line he heard in the locker room from fellow tour player John Schroeder, who thought a stack of large rocks beyond the fourth hole would be a dead ringer for the San Diego Zoo, if only a polar bear could be added.

There are plenty of rocks at TPC San Antonio, but there are some nice fairways and greens laid down there in the middle of all that. In fact, the fairways are mostly wide enough and the greens mostly not too severe that I’ve actually seen the term “user friendly” given to describe Pete Dye’s work here.

“If you hadn’t told me that Pete designed this place,” Hal Sutton told me after playing the Canyons last year, “I would not have guessed.”

Oh, you get the Pete Dye trademarks here, don’t worry about that. A litany can be made: the green drops off severely on the first hole, a pot bunker dissects the green at the third so much that front pin positions look like they’ve been cut onto someone’s porch, the green at the par-3 eighth has a “fallen” back half, fairways at the ninth and even more so at 14 are built into platforms above long, stretching bunkers. The list can go on.

The pros certainly found it tame here last year. Fred Couples won the Champions Tour event on this course at 23-under (rounds of 65-62-66).

For the average golfer, though, the only way this Pete Dye design can be held as “user friendly” is when it’s put in context with its sister course here, the Greg Norman-designed Oaks Course. Every time I look over there and see its torn-into-the-earth contouring of the bunkering and the severely sloping greens I can’t help but think that place should have swirling razor wire and guard houses erected. The average golfer would find better treatment in Rahway or Attica.

Dye’s course lacks brutal length (tees can stretch to 7,100 yards, but a good setup can be found on the tees measuring 6,600 yards or shorter). It is, however, like the usual layout in the Texas Hill Country. If you miss the fairway by just a bit, good luck finding your ball. It’s down in what golf now euphemistically calls “native area,” and it’s a nearly automatic penalty.

But the natural look of this place is a strength. This course works away from the huge resort hotel here and doesn’t come back from a peaceful tour along a nature preserve until the 18th hole. There are some houses that can be seen lined up off in the distance, the massive hotel too, but the view is mostly live oaks and cedar trees out there in the gentle hills. Except for the wind that blows onto these ledges, it’s quiet and sweet.

Dye’s design here, I think, actually gets a bit boring in places. After a standout first hole that opens with a tee shot over a gentle hint of a canyon, the holes are rather similar looking starting at No. 2. Several holes have an almost cookie-cutter design to them.

But there are some highlights. The par-5 sixth hints of a blind shot with an elevated landing area off the tee. The next hole runs nicely back up that hill from the other direction, and then the next hole at the eighth is a pretty picture. It’s 165 yards from the back with a green propped up there amid a background of nature preserve.

But then the cookie cutter is back out until the 12th, a 532-yarder that is uphill all the way. The 14th has a good look to it with the massive build-up job of crafting a fairway doglegging to the left onto the Hill Country ledge. Then the 16th is maybe the best hole on the course, its tee shot spanning a canyon that cuts in from the left to make it look more like Torrey Pines than South Texas. It can play as long as 224 yards, but Dye left behind a “safe zone” landing area short and to the right.

That Hill Country nature preserve out there is staying. And, unlike many of the design features over at Greg Norman’s design that already is getting tweaks from a bulldozer next door, all of the familiar Pete Dye features likely are staying, too.

TPC San Antonio was not listed in the "golf course" section of secretinthedirt.com where other reviews are posted, so the review is posted in this blog. Other writing by Tim Price can be found on timpricesportsbooks.com or on Twitter @golflikeurpoor.

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Posted by on in Village Blogs

Can’t I ever give it a rest? Do I always have to spout off about playing Golf Like You’re Poor?

I mean, come on, now’s the time for a break. It’s my family vacation next week, for crying out loud. Can’t a GLYPer get a vacation, too?

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Posted by on in Village Blogs

I just got back from vacation in Hawaii, and the best things I brought back are words. Words! Yes, and I consider this an improvement, a meaningful accomplishment, from the souvenirs, memories and such I've brought home from previous vacations.

Used to, I’d bring back t-shirts. Though I did find a unique t-shirt this time fashioned from the red dirt of Kauai, most t-shirts reflect little from your vacation experience. The feeling of having them in my clothes drawer is just as hollow as the shirt itself.

In the days when I traveled a lot on business and had a free afternoon, I would bring back posters from a museum where there was a nice exhibit going on. The Art Institute of Chicago, the Kimbell in Fort Worth, that nice Degas show from the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and the vivid, striking paint of Eugene Delacroix on display that time in Philly all are still hanging from my wall. I’d stick the poster in a flimsy frame when I got home, and maybe that‘s where my fascination of being cheap got started.

Pictures? I hated bringing along a camera. It was just another thing I’d forget in the rental car. Now I can take a few shots through my phone and “develop” them on facebook. That’s cool, and I did it this time around.

But words? It happened when I noticed there was a book on golf in Hawaii on the coffee table in the house we rented with the others in our travel group. It was published in 2001 and written by a man I’d never heard of before, Evan Schiller. Though it was a picture book typical of something laying on a coffee table (the title is Golf Courses of Hawaii), I found Schiller’s words were just as impressive as the photos.

When I blurt out the motto Golf Like You’re Poor, I think Schiller expressed it quite well in these few paragraphs from his book:

“The great artist Picasso said ‘Art cannot be taught, it can only be found.’ This may also be true of golf. It is my opinion that golf, like art, can be found, but only within us. One simply discovers golf and then expresses it in one form or another.

“There is a real joy in golf and in life that I have discovered comes when I create each shot and each moment freshly without being bound to my past.

“Some time ago I discovered I could create a purpose for creating the golf or photographing the courses that inspired me, as opposed to one that culture had imposed on me. The game I had been playing was one in which I was usually concerned about how I looked and what other people thought of me … you discover new possibilities for yourself and the game you had not imagined.”

Golf is found within us, and it’s best shared. In my case, it’s through the expression of words. There is real joy in golf! Indeed. In golf, you are the creator, and you behold the created. And, best, you don’t have to let anyone impose anything on you! You find what’s best, adapt it, and discover possibilities you had not imagined.

I was fortunate to play golf -- even if it was just nine holes on a municipal course -- in a place as beautiful as Kauai. But capturing these words is far better. They won’t shrink or fade, and they won’t get lost.

My blogs can be found in this section of Secret in the Dirt, and if you're interested in more stories you can go to Tim Price Sports Books. My writing also can be followed on Twitter @golflikeurpoor. Enjoy the reading, and your golf, no matter if you're rich or poor.

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Posted by on in Village Blogs

Golf has fallen. At least this what I’m reading in newspapers and magazines and hearing as I watch Golf Channel. A recent Boston  Globe article written by Michael Whitmer states there were 1 million fewer golfers last year than in 1990.

Whitmer also quotes Barney Adams (Adams Golf), who likes the idea of scooting up the tees to boost interest in the game. That’s fine, though I’m sticking to the tips.

What golf needs, I think, is lower startup costs. It’s shocking, pompous, to see what golf equipment companies expect for their new clubs. Now, I do like what they are designing, but when it comes to purchasing equipment, I’m following this IDEA (sorry, Barn‘):

The best plan is to profit by the folly of others.

That quote is from Naturalis Historia, written by the Roman known as Pliny The Elder. He never played golf, but he’s a favorite of mine, and mostly regarded to be heroic in his actions during the eruption at Vesuvius in the 1st Century. He’s a character in the historical novel Pompeii written by Robert Harris. Good read. Good stuff.

Through that one quote I’ve been inspired to do my best at learning patience, judgment, humility.

Pliny, a military officer as well as an observer of all things and a writer, is believed to have come about the words during the Empire’s military incursions into Germanic lands (oh, how that quote came back to haunt the Romans). But I’ve found it has applications as I invest in sports wagering: “Does that team really deserve to be supported by the wagering public to the point it’s a 9-point favorite on the road, or are there valid reasons for that to be proven as folly? Can I profit?”

We can all see the applications in the business world as to stocks, real estate, you name it. Great investment opportunities don’t reveal themselves every day. And when they do, and are acted upon successfully, they are no sign that you have everything figured out. Thus -- patience, judgment and humility.

I applied this, finally, when I bought the Titleist 975L-FE driver I still use today. I only bought it after I impatiently did not follow my own judgment.

I went to a Golfsmith location and asked for the used-clubs rack. The salesman pitched me on a new Lynx driver, which the salesman -- at least -- identified as a brand Golfsmith pushed, or owned. I paid more for the new club, and the face cracked in a year.

I went back to the used-club rack and luckily found the Titleist driver. The fellow who handled that consigned club told me “Yeah, a man from Horseshoe Bay (an upscale development in the Texas Hills) bought it new and used it a few rounds and found something else he wanted.” Well, I bet it didn’t take long before that fella from Horseshoe ditched that next driver he bought, or the putter maybe, and went out and got another new one.

That’s folly. And I think I profited from it by spending less than $70 on the club as opposed to $350 (or higher?).

Keep in mind that I still used the forged blades I bought (for $345) about 25 years ago. Besides that mistake of buying the driver the salesman pushed, it’s the last new clubs I’ve bought. And, yes Barn,’ I have a used Adams 3-metal in my bag and love it.

So I close by quoting another wise feller, this from one of the main characters of my next book that will be released in late 2012. Though it’s about target shooting, I’ve found that target shooting and golf are closely related.

“Get a good gun, and stick to it.” -- Ad Topperwein

My blogs can be found in this section of Secret in the Dirt, and if you're interested in more stories you can go to Tim Price Sports Books. My writing also can be followed on Twitter @golflikeurpoor. Enjoy the reading, and your golf, no matter if you're rich or poor.

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