Category: Questions

Van Wilder gets a Golf Scholarship!

Hello friends,

A good friend of mine, and one of Calgary’s top junior golf instructors, Mitch Walz (@walzygolf) has asked me to write about quite a few topics over the last year, and I’m working on them! He has high standards so I’ll publish when they’re ready haha! This blog is about some “outside the box” ways to think about choosing a school for college golf. I hear all too often about junior golfers in Alberta signing ‘Letters of Intent’ to schools that aren’t the best fit for them.

Some of you may know of my golf history, some may not. Either way, I’d hardly call myself up to date on this topic. That said, I have been a part of the Alberta Golf Scholarship Panel, and have many friends and colleagues who have shared their experiences with me. Here I will only present thoughts based on my own experiences.

Here are some guidelines and questions that I don’t think get considered enough when choosing a school.

Would you want to move to the town/city if golf wasn’t a factor?

Is this a place that you would want to build a network of friends for 5 years?

What is a detailed tournament schedule, and how will this work with a full course load in 3rd and 4th years? What kind of scholastic support is there?

Just because you get a scholarship, doesn’t mean you have to take it..

Are there any international players on the team already? Any Canadians? If so, CALL THEM!

Is the coach going to be there the whole time you are? What is the schools athletic budget and how stable is the program? Is the coach someone you would like to mentor you for 5 years?

What is the team chemistry like? How many new players are coming in vs. how many are graduating? Is there a chance to go to the same school as a friend?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg, but please note that most of it deals with the people there and the culture. I went to the University of Victoria, and now live in Calgary. So now I have friends all over Western Canada that I visit every few months. This is very different from a player that went to school in Mississippi, where all the networking and time invested in social life, is mostly faded after a few years. I love going out to Victoria and BC, knowing friends all over and always having opportunities to stay with them as opposed to hotels!

Hope this helps! Cheers!

“I Just Want to be More Consistent”

Hello friends,

This blog is about the single most consistent question or goal from my students.

“How can I get more consistent?” or “I’d really like to get more consistent.”     

What does consistent mean? Does it mean your bad shots aren’t as bad? Your good shots are a bit better? Less big mistakes?

Lets take a look at the math behind this a little bit and talk about the Bell Curve!!! YAY STATS!!! For those that aren’t familiar with Normal Distribution or Standard Deviation, google it. Getting more consistent doesn’t really make sense. Do you want to get more average? You can’t have ‘more’ shots fall within one Standard Deviation from the Mean.

 

If you were to take a golfers collection of shots, grade them, rank them, rate them, measure them, whichever method you like, they will fall into this kind of distribution curve. Note that the outliers (the 1% usually), are thrown out (shanks!). Products like Trackman and Flightscope use radar to measure ball flight, and measure the distance to a target very accurately.

Let’s take a look at the TrackMan Combine. “The TrackMan Combine consists of 60 shots hit to selected distances. TrackMan scores each shot on a scale of 0-100 based on your accuracy.”

Consistently better scores come from a  consistently better shot dispersion (tighter), thereby lowering the average distance to the target. You don’t get more consistent, you get better or you get worse, with every shot. The Mean shifts left on the x-axis, or to the right, negative or positive, with every shot, you just don’t have the tools to measure it.

The ‘mean’ distance from your target fluctuates, each time the sample size increases. It either goes up, or down. It just depends on how many decimal places you include. #stats

Let’s also note that your golf scores will also follow this dispersion.

Get better or get worse, you choose.

*Edit

A student of mine sent me this graph to help clarify my point here.

So even though the pro does have a tighter dispersion, their mean also shifted to the left, or shifted to a lower handicap. You get more consistent by getting better.

Thanks y’all!

Does having a Golf Channel isolate the game?

Does having a channel dedicated to our sport prevent golf content from entering mainstream media?

How cool is it that our sport has its own channel?!! 24/7 dedicated to the game we all love!

Wait a second…let’s ask  few questions before we rant about how cool it is..

– How much golf content is seen outside of this channel?
– Which cable packages include Golf Channel?
– Does having a dedicated channel boost participation rates?
– Should Golf Channel shows be aired on different networks? Could they be?
– Could Golf Channel be a production company that provides golf content to be bought by various channels?
– Should the Golf Channel stop airing golf product commercials?
– Why are equipment sales #’s way up but green fee #’s down?
– Should golf companies advertise outside the Golf Channel (yes they should and they are and they are growing the game because of it, they have a profit motive and this works!)?
– Do they really need the money from the Overspin Putter? Does GC have a responsibility not to have CRAP on their infomercials?
– Should the USGA et al. buy that space for cheaper?

Only this year, after teaching a dozen or so beginner adult classes, did I realize how little golf hit the mainstream media.

This is a very vague question, and I don’t have an answer. I just can’t help but wonder, instead of attempting to increase the accessibility and availability of golf, why don’t we as organizations, work to increase the demand for golf and then the supply will follow?

Here’s an example…what if the ‘new kid’ on the show ‘Glee’ worked at a golf course, and they filmed a few episodes at a course? How much would that grow the game? Would 20 million more people now understand 25 new golf terms? How many green fees or junior golf inquiries would that translate into? How many more Golf Channel subscriptions would be bought that day?

Here’s another….what if Seinfeld had played a dozen rounds of golf during the span of the show? How many more people would be familiar with the game, compared with the budget that it may have cost to implement that.

The questions are there, the trouble is that there is no proxy, no direct way to measure this. Adidas has a proxy with product placement with their other lines…so Taylor Made (owned by Adidas) is doing it, hence the giant white driver at the Red Sox game, and that turned out pretty well I’d say.

Here are some ideas;

Food Channel – A show on the culinary aspect of golf
Discovery Channel – Golf’s role in the environment
NBC, CBS, ESPN, TNT – PGA Tour et al
NBC – Golf Drama, Golf Comedy, Golf sitcoms
Lifetime – Seniors golf show, or characters in the show play golf.

Anyways, my point is that I think Golf Channel isolates the game from the rest of the TV viewing demographic. All kinds of other activities that people can learn about and be interested in (cars, food, poker, sports etc) typically appear on more than one channel. Golf does not.

Spread golf across as many channels as you can and grow the game.

PGA of Alberta Teacher of the Year Finalist 2012

Hello friends,

I am proud to announce that I have been nominated for, and now a finalist for the PGA of Alberta Teacher of the Year 2012! I feel very honored to be a finalist, but more excited for my students. I have gotten some tremendous feedback this year, some huge successes and improvements. I learned so much about my own philosophy, teaching style, goals for my career and motivation to continue playing competitively.

When I learned that I was a finalist, my first thoughts were who to thank..how typical.. But seriously, that’s what it was. Then I truly realized how long that list would be, even if it only pertained to my golf teaching career.

Ages 5-14

Kevin Snell
Kerry Ward
Greg McGarry

Ages 15-19

Jim Jempson
Norm Gray, Ken Wasslen and Phil Kerbrat – 3 amateurs at Willow that taught me how to compete.

Ages 19-25

Ted Webster
Paul Horton
Randy Robb
Matt Rollins
Bryan Carbery
Jay Myren
Brian Kollman
Rob Connelly
Stephen Ames
Henry Brunton

and literally hundreds of Canadian Tour professionals that helped me along the way, notably,
Mitch Gillis
Stu Anderson
Mike Mezei
Kris Wasylowich
Scott Stiles

Ages 26-29

Brian Benedictson
Mark Sweeney
John Graham
Alex Riggs
Jason Sutton
Jason Helman
Glenn Cundari
Robin Bauer
Paul Balsom
Alan Robertson

If you didn’t make this list, do not panic. It means you are either one of hundreds more people that have helped me progress and succeed in this game, or your role is more important than worrying about being part of a list.

Thanks all for helping me.

Cheers!

Televised Golf: A Juniors Perspective

I’m so delayed in posting blogs! I wrote this before the Ryder Cup, golf’s best event on television….anyways, have a read!!

 

Last week I taught a junior camp with a few of the greatest kids ever. Here’s a sample of one of our conversations..so much fun!

Todd – “So it’s nice out today..but what if it was raining? Would you quit? Keep playing? What would be some things you’d bring with you? What do you guys think?”

Junior – “hmm I’d probably keep playing if I could..I think I’d bring a leather jacket, sweat pants and an umbrella hat because I don’t want drips in my eyes”

Todd – “Of course, excellent”

 

Anyways, on Friday it was pouring rain, so in response to my last blog, we spent the first 1.5 hours of the camp doing some indoor activities (labeling golf balls, drawing imaginary greens with high and low points {AimPoint}), and watched The Barclays. They watched for an hour and were instructed to ask questions and make comments throughout. I took notes. 

Please note that this was a discussion with juniors, and I did my best not to guide their comments whatsoever. These are juniors rambling in a safe environment. The kids are 11, 12 and 14 years. Here is a sample of their comments.

“they should make the hole smaller for these guys..and bigger for us.”

“Have you seen the golf pranks on Youtube?” *we searched ‘golf pranks’ and watched that for 10 minutes on my IPhone…

“How come they’re only showing a few people? Isn’t there more?”

“Why are they showing Tiger, that big baby”

“They should show every single golfer freakout or club throw that would be awesome”

“These holes all look exactly the same. They should make a hole that’s par 25. Or make a golf course like a video game where you have shortcuts and bonus’s. They should build a Waterworld Golf Course where it’s almost ALL water. They should have a course called Rockland where it’s ALL rocks except for where you have to hit it. Cactus World” cue hysterical laughter and imagination.

“I can’t understand anything these guys are saying!”  A mix of English (Faldo), Irish (Feherty), Finch (Australia) with their own set of golf lingo..the kids had no idea what these guys were talking about. Simple as that.

“This music is terrible.”

“They should have a helicopter do flyby’s on every hole but like 15 feet off the ground”

“They should do a distraction challenge where you could yell whatever when the guy hits”

“Maybe one day Tiger will get his life back together” no joke I choked when I heard that haha

“Man this is slow. Is there a speed golf?”

“Golf on TV is sure boring”

“They should do relay teams of 5 and they have to run ahead and be ready when the ball stops”

That’s just the stuff that they laughed at and talked about for a minute..there were a lot of other ideas and comments made that they just shouted out. That tells me they were in an environment where they could just imagine freely and learn.

Learning is all about fun, and we as PGA of Canada Professionals do our best to make their day as fun and creative as possible. How come golf broadcasts don’t do the same?

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