Archive for June, 2011

Stand out from the crowd

In one of the episodes of The Apprentice the groups are tasked with creating a free, advertising funded, magazine. While one group goes for the over 65’s in an effort to replace the old with the new hip (and come up with the very catchy name ‘Hip Replacement’) way of life that today’s much more active pensioners are after, the other group decides to create a Lad’s Mag. The latter includes all those things that ‘lads’ are into. A bit of business, a feature on ‘blowing your load’ (read ‘spending your money’) and of course – girls. With their first edition fresh from thee printers the group turn to the lined up media advertising agencies to sell their Lad’s Mag. This is not proving quite as successful as they had hoped, at least not at first. In fact one of the potential buyers says the magazine made him feel like he had been thrown back to the 90’s again. His reasoning is simply that none of the companies looking for advertising through his agency are interested in being connected with lightly dressed girls (anymore).

As I read Ashley Crain’s column on Golfweek.com I wonder if this an experience that might hit the LPGA Tour and possibly other women’s sports soon? That is if it hasn’t already. Judging by the comments Ashley has had this is a hot topic. And there isn’t just guys in the one corner of the ring. As so often before the trick with leading the market is getting there first. I do not think that was what the men in badminton did when they tried to pursue the idea of women having to play in a skirt. Luckily they backtracked. So the question now is – what comes next?

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The learning curve

Was that a win or what? Even my dentist, while examining my teeth, talked about Rory McIlroy and his 8 shot victory at Congressional. For somebody who is already established in the top 10 of the World rankings I don’t think you can call what we saw a breakthrough. I think what it was though was some sort of an explosive rise to the next level. All of a sudden Tiger Woods was no longer missed and a player of real Ballesteros calibre had taken the throne. I think Rory hit more fairways than Seve would have done in the four majors combined but the way he plays, with the most natural golf swing anyone can imagine and hands as sensitive as only the great Master’s once were, does at least take me back to the early days of the Spanish magician. Those of us that saw Rory storm through the amateur game I think could see this coming and it will be interesting to see what this will mean for his development and performance going forward. He is 22 now and I can’t helping thinking about the mantra that is so often used in sports – experience. Yes, it does take experience to learn and to know how to handle the situations you are faced with. But I do not think that was the difference between what we saw at Colonial and what we saw at Augusta. Some just seem to be incredibly experienced at 22. Rory McIlroy is one of those…

Major week

It is Major time x 2 this week. In the US the top players are preparing for the Thursday start of the US Open at Congressional outside Washington. On this side of the pond the amateurs are battling both wind, golf courses and each other for the Amateur Championship. With a remarkable history the R&A’s crown jewel in the amateur calendar sees some close to 300 hopefuls tee it up in the first two rounds, each and everyone hoping for that winner’s exemption into the Open and next year’s Masters Tournament. The first hurdle to get past however, to be among the top 64 that go into the match play stage, for the vast majority will be a bit too big and they will be returning home having played two rounds on great golf courses. Even though considered a major it is rather sad that the schedule in amateur golf in the US is so busy that players from that part of the world are not able to come across. Or more likely, they choose not to come across. In amateur golf the expense of getting to the tournament is still one of the biggest issues to handle. And of course this is where there is just no resemblance between what happens at Hillside and what happens at Congressional.

On that note though I just read that Rory McIlroy has promised never to complain about a hotel room again. He is an ambassador for UNICEF and as such just came back from Haiti. There is nothing like a bit of perspective every now and then!

Follow the Amateur on http://www.randa.org.

For love or money

This was the title of the great Peter McEvoy’s book from 2006 and I come to think of it again as I read the news about Augusta States win in the NCAA finals over the weekend. Peter, perhaps the greatest amateur of all times, of course reflected over the difference between playing for money and purely for the glory and the trophy in his book and as sports develop there are not many places where the glory is still the highest price. In fact, you could easily argue that pride and glory have very little to do with it even in the NCAA finals as come the following week pretty much everyone in Augusta’s winning team will be playing professional golf. And if not that week then the week after, as the Palmer Cup has concluded. Amateur golf is no doubt the breeding ground for the professional game and a successful career in college and/or in the big amateur events around the world will give you every chance of a jump start entry into the professional ranks.

As I read Sean Martin’s article on Augusta State though I almost do get a little tear in my eye. Here is the team of five seniors and a Head Coach, all in their Augusta State uniforms for the very last time. The five players are leaving school and Josh Gregory, the coach, is heading to Dallas to take up the Head Coach position at SMU, his alma mater where he played college golf himself. One last round with the old gang – and the underdog once again comes out victorious. Augusta State is the Division 2 school, only in the first division in one sport – golf, that last year showed that pride, committment and team spirit can win you great titles even without the hefty budgets of other teams. They have now done it twice in a row and it won’t matter that they will come nowhere near next year. In performance sports it is about living in the NOW and I have a feeling this was the greatest present that the five graduating players and the leaving coach could ever get. In another sport this would have made the movies.


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