Purity at Seminole Golf Club

by Jon Birdsong on February 24, 2013

Purity at Seminole Golf Club:

Seminole Golf Culb

Nestled in a tree-lined enclave about 13 miles north of Palm Beach rests one of golf’s most treasured gems: Seminole Golf Club. The only Seminole-border open to the world hugs the Atlantic ocean, consequently, sending streams of southeastern wind to pervade the course…and every shot. Designed by Scottish-born and famed architect, Donald Ross, Seminole’s consistently top-ranked course is equally matched by its history and membership, leaving the regular golfer endlessly captivated and unassumingly comfortable.

Seminole is a product of the Roaring Twenties. Established in 1929 and spawned by younger members of exclusive clubs a few miles south, they purchased a tract of land intended to “build the finest golf club in the world.” Combine golf’s increasing popularity, the envy of it’s finest courses — all in the north — and the Northerner’s desire to escape harsh winters; one quickly finds the genesis of Seminole Golf Club.

Shear suspense builds as glimpses of the course can be viewed through the left trees after entering the guarded neighborhood — the same trees that four Canadians snuck through to view The Hawk.

A final turn left leaves you with Seminole’s unique clubhouse. This Spanish-themed, pink-stucco clubhouse displays an unmatched tone of vibrant-subtleness in golf.

Seminole Golf Club

Visitors sign the guest book before walking down an arched-hallway which dispenses you in a half-garden, half-patio. One glance to the left leaves an awestruck visitor viewing beautiful Seminole Golf Club. Two items directly stand out: first a massive, saltwater swimming pool overlooking the practice putting green. If Hollywood in the 1920’s made one suggestion for the clubhouse, this would have been it. Imagine a young Kathryn Hepburn suntanning among golfing’s elite — it wouldn’t seem out of place. Second, a large flag pole is situated in the middle of the practice putting green.

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The Decline of Golf

by Jon Birdsong on December 2, 2012

There have been a few times in our sport’s history where it seemed the world held its breath to watch golf. It likely happened in 1930 when Jones capped off the unthinkable ‘Grandslam’ win. Again in Augusta, Georgia, when Nicklaus awakened from hibernation at the age of 46 to win his sixth green jacket. Most recently, Tiger in 2008 as he hobbled to victory on a torn knee. It’s moments like these that become the greatest marketing campaign our sport could ever get.

There’s arguably no other sport where the perception of a level playing field exists — even the early duffer can sink a 40 footer every now and then. While with other sports, it becomes certain at point, playing baseball at Wrigley or dunking on Lebron is unlikely.

Despite our game’s significant advantages in appeal, it takes considerable effort to understand and appreciate its depths. The idea that you can be just as good as Tiger on one hole won’t resonate with the average golfer until they’ve played enough to develop confidence and skill. The feeling of striking the perfect shot is addicting. Yet, knowing that perfect shot is still in you after the third duffed shot in a row is the ultimate enigma. But golf is in a decline; if it were a stock, Wall Street would be yelling “sell!” The decline of golf is happening.

Even a polished Power Point presentation couldn’t disprove the numbers. “Rounds played per year” is the standard barometer of measuring the sports popularity, however a much more alarming data point comes from a source most of us use every day: Google. Search terms with the word “golf” have steadily dropped year after year since 2004. It’s down 40% since 04’. You can see below, each summer, the game hits its annual peak, falls in the winter months, only to rise again during Masters’ time (indicated by bump in April).

The decline of golf

Also, As reported each year by the major publications, the average number of golf rounds played in 2010 from 2011 is down — approximately 2.5% according to the National Golf Foundation.

Decline of Rounds Played

Each year pundits matter-of-fact-ly suggest why golf is in decline. Nobody wants to belabor on the point because it’s uncomfortable. The typical reasons continue to rise: it takes too long, rounds are too expensive, it’s too exclusive, we need bigger holes, etc. The real problem is much deeper and solutions perhaps even tougher to find.

While all the other reasons are considerations, technology continues to lead the decline. Not the bigger-driver-heads, longer-ball, range-finding type of technology, but the type of technology that’s disrupting industries across the nation.

Before the internet disrupted the way we communicate, business deals were done in person. Mostly in person, sometimes on the phone, but almost always concluded with a handshake and a likely friendship. Buyers had less information, so they relied on personal relationships and trust as the backbone of commerce. Since no other sport cultivates relationships better than golf, it makes for a perfect marriage. Plato was onto something when he stated: “you can learn more about a man in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Playing business golf is safe, tried and true, but not scalable…or as scalable as the mechanisms today.

Relationship oriented businesses have and will continue to fuel the golf business but technology is transforming industries rapidly. Information on the web make buyers more informed and relationships less of a commodity. For example, if I want an office printer, my first action is to go directly to Google and search “office printers Atlanta.” Within 15 minutes, I’ll know exactly what I want, the suitable price range, and reviews of what I’ll buy. Pre-internet, Facebook, and Twitter, a sales rep would have developed a strong, personal relationship with a company. He would have been the expert on all things printers and every time our office grew, we’d give him a call and talk about new options over a round of golf. Those days are less and less. Everything is open, online, and transparent. None of these adjectives describe golf.

In a game baked-in of exclusion, there were barriers thwarting adoption from minorities and social classes, golf now has it’s own barrier to contend with: technology.

We’re entering an era where the business leaders of today aren’t doing business on the golf course. Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller — business tycoons of their time — were all golfers. Translate to today’s innovators: Ellison, Zuckerberg, Bezos, and the late Steve Jobs have never been associated with the game. The time it takes to play a round, a CEO could write a blog post read by millions.

Golf has likely seen it’s brightest time in the business world, yet it definitely hasn’t seen it most popular time in history.

We have to use technology to benefit the sport. As the game’s global expansion into developing countries continue, instruction and access is paramount. Organizing golf’s most passionate young players into communities outside of expensive clubs will be beneficial as well as providing quality instruction to those willing to give the game a try. Golf must embrace technology. There’s no reason a high-schooler in Argentina shouldn’t be able to take a video of their swing, upload it to YouTube, and receive feedback from a golf professional in the States.

The love of the sport will be the driving force of golf’s growth and that’s a type player every true golfer wants in their outing.

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The driver is a popular club, how to hit a driver correctly isn’t as easy as one may think. Used approximately 10-14 times in the round, it’s a club that can make a round miserable or smooth walking. Most holes begin with an undressed head cover, and the driver ready to rock’n'roll. This post explores how to hit a driver like a boss — focusing on the setup. A good drive can set up an easy birdie or it can send you into a prickly, wild goose chase. Whether at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, where you must keep it in the fairway or at Merion Golf Club where mastering how to putt will keep your scores low and you sane, every skill is tested in the game of golf. This post we look at everything from how to hold a tee to the beginning of your takeaway and everything in between. After reading, you’ll know the beginning steps to hit a driver like a boss.

The Tee

This is the average size of a golf tee. They’re pretty simple: most are white, some have stripes, wording on them, and can even be plastic. Below is an image of a traditional golf tee. Before the advent of the wooden tee, golfer’s used to tee off by packing sand together!

How to hit a driver | the golf tee

How to Hold a Golf Tee

Holding a golf tee is performed by putting the tee in between your index and middle finger and steading it with your thumb. Below is a good example:

how to hold a golf tee

Putting a Golf Tee in the Ground

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A brief absence of the game can leave you stonewalled silly around the greens. The saying “the short game goes first” when golf is de-prioritized in life is true. However, fortunately, we have 09′ Walker Cup Player and UGA golf standout, Adam Mitchell (@adamkmitch) to get us back to the chipping basics. Adam has already shown us the correct putting grips. Afterwards, let’s hope you’ll want to grab a wedge and explore how to chip like a champ because you’ll leave here ready to strategically and thoughtfully work on your chipping technique while saving you many strokes and headaches along the way.

The Correct Ball Position When Chipping:

Adam likes to play the ball off the inside of his front foot. Observe below and see how the blue line goes through the range ball and is inline with his front left foot as well. Good ball position leads to consistent contact and predicable results.

how to chip ball position

How to Chip | The Width of Your Stance

The width of your stance should be no wider than the width of your shoulders. The chipping stroke is one of finesse and timing requiring a stance no wider than below. Observe how comfortable Adam sets up to ball.

how to chip with the right stance

Weight Distribution

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Golf photography is unlike any other sport. There are so many facets to it – the style, emotion, scenery – it’s fascinating, yet overwhelming. A golf photo has versatility. For instance, there are golf photos appropriate for the guest room bathroom, then there are photos for the living room and if daring enough, the dining room. Regardless of style or taste, each photo has a place in a golfer’s home. This post shares 7 golf photos and where they could go in your house.

Bobby Jones, 18th hole at St. Andrews: “Carried Like a King”

In 1930, the year Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam, the British Amateur was held at St. Andrews. Below is a picture of Bobby Jone being hoisted by the crowd as he holds up his famous putter, Calamity Jane. Bobby became such a crowd and city favorite, in 1958, he was awarded with the Freedom of St. Andrews. The only other American bestowed with such honor was Benjamin Franklin. Watch his acceptance speech here.

Golf Photo: Bobby Jones 1930 British Amateur at St. Andrews

Place in the house for “Carried Like a King:” -  The Smoking Room.

Augusta National Golf Club Clubhouse

This is one of my favorite photos of the Augusta National Golf Club clubhouse. It shows how perfect the grounds are kept, yet still conveys the memberships’ appreciation for keeping the natural landscape prominent (see: “the Big Oak Tree” pictured in the far left). Both trees provide context to the understatement and humility of ANGC’s clubhouse compared to nature — exactly how Bobby Jones would have wanted and classic Augusta National Golf Club. I don’t think Augusta would have it any other way. Photo taken by Rob Matre.

Golf Photo: Augusta National Golf Club Clubhouse

Place in the house for Augusta National Golf Club clubhouse -  The Reading Room.

Jack and Arnold “Paying Up”

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The Ryder Cup: it’s brilliant, it’s patriotic, it’s a rare moment of bonding that the game rarely shows. For one week, the world’s best from the U.S and Europe team up and compete in a dazzling biennial affair. Hosted this year in the U.S. at Medinah Country Club, outside of Chicago, the golf world will be watching as Europe tries to defend the title and keep the cup overseas. Below are 5 videos every golfer should watch before the first stroke is struck. Each video has been selected to emphasize the emotion, patriotism, and strategy all intertwined into a tournament unlike any other: The Ryder Cup.

Context behind the Ryder Cup:

Before 1985, the U.S. had dominated the Ryder Cup only losing three times since it’s inception in 1927. However, in 1985 the tides began to turn with the help of young, charismatic golfers like Seve Ballesteros, and the competition has never been same since. Below is a chart showing which teams won, by how much, and who lead the team to victory and defeat.

War at the Shore – 1991: Final Hole of Berhard Langer and Hale Irwin

The American team hadn’t held the cup since 1983 and it all came down to the final hole where Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin fought it out to the last putt. Watch as each player limps to the finish line, only to leave every thing their team worked for, one putt short.

Seve Ballesteros Lifts the Team with Magician Like Par Saves

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By: Jonathan Baker

Merion Golf Club Score Card

Most courses ranked atop America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses have a special component to them. Something intangible that you don’t necessarily expect until you play there. Maybe it’s the history, the grounds, the exclusivity, the views, the course conditions. Whatever it is, it creates an aura around the entire experience that makes you float mindlessly, yet remember everything.

I’ve been lucky enough to have this happen a few times. It’s come along the Pacific cliffs at Cypress Point, amid the azaleas at Augusta, and most recently among the white faces and wicker baskets at a course that embodies the true essence of golf’s golden age: Merion Golf Club.

The quarry hole at Merion Golf Club

Golf as it was meant to be played: Merion East. Photo credit: Golf Digest.

Situated among the well-healed neighborhoods along Philadelphia’s Main Line, the Merion Cricket Club was founded in 1865, a sporting playground for the Philadelphia elite. By 1896, a golf contingent had emerged from the membership and with it, an 18-hole course on the club grounds in Haverford. A decade into the 20th century, Merion turned to Scotsman Hugh Wilson, to design and build a new course on acquired land in nearby Ardmore. By September of 1912, Merion Golf Club’s East Course opened for play, and was instantly hailed among experts, “the finest inland links in the country.”

It was an impressive start at just the right time, as golf – buoyed by Francis Ouimet’s miraculous US Open victory in 1913 – was about to explode in America. And Merion, as if scripted by the golf gods, would be the site of some of the most important moments throughout the next 5 decades.

Bobby Jone and Ben Hogan at Merion Golf Club

Bobby Jones, with his Grand Slam trophies (L), and Hogan’s famous 1-iron on 18 (R)

Bobby Jones – the most famous athlete of his time – book ended his career on the East Course. He made his major tournament debut at the 1916 US Amateur, won his first US Am title in 1924, and completed golf’s greatest feat, the Grand Slam, in 1930. Ben Hogan heroically limped his way around Merion in the 1950 US Open; merely one year after a near fatal auto accident left him re-learning how to walk. The victory was punctuated (and perfectly captured by Life Magazine) with a soaring 1-iron approach to the 72nd hole. He would make a gutsy par and won in a playoff the next day. Jack Nicklaus displayed what some historians believe the most dominating performance in golf, shooting 66-67-68-68 in the 1960 World Amateur Team Championships. And a swashbuckling Lee Trevino took down the Golden Bear in his prime, defeating Nicklaus in a playoff at Merion in the 1971 US Open.

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In the history of the sport, no style or position of putting has been left untried. Perhaps the only items left are the limits of technology. The purpose of this post is to instruct you how to putt like a surgeon. Not saying all surgeons are great putters, but most have a steady hands.

“Putting is like wisdom. Partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience.” - Arnold Palmer

Regardless of the technology, techniques, or form, putting is a highly individual art form. This post won’t claim one style of putting is superior than another. This post hopes to educate you on the styles, tips, and best practices that have yielded the highest results and then let you decide on how to putt best for you. We’ve already share how to hold the putter, but this one goes deeper.

For example, let’s analyze some of the best putters in our sport’s history. Below are great images of how to putt like the best putters. Notice each one has their unique style they’ve cultivated from continual trial and error.

“Still even in putting there is a right and a wrong way. Take the test of experience and you will find that in the long run the man who puts in the approved method wins the day.” - Henry James Whigham

Jack Nicklaus Putting

Jack Nicklaus had a very distinguishable style. Hunched over, knees bent, hands pressed forward, and an open stance characterized his style. If you’re wondering if changed over the years, take a look below.

How to putt | Jack Nicklaus Putting

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Masters week is here which means Christmas-morning-like excitement for golfers world-wide.

The Masters Tournament is the best viewing experience in sports, there’s no question. What makes it the venue, experience, and tradition like no other? The legacy of Bob Jones.

There’s a reason Bobby Jones’ polite portrait is displayed in the locker rooms of Peachtree Golf Club, East Lake Golf Course, Merion Golf Club, Augusta National Golf Club, and hundreds of clubs throughout the world. The game of golf is played by the most powerful men in the world: money, power, and achievement is attained by many players of our sport. However, earning our society’s highest accomplishments while maintaing humility, tact, and grace was never performed better than Bob Jones. No CEO, politician, or athlete will ever achieve Mr. Jones’ status in society while maintaining his level of humility. It’s impossible to put in words.

Pictures and his words are all we have now.

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I’ve been anticipating the moment when golf has a Groupon style website servicing thousands of golfers offering us the best-of-the-best deals. It’s finally arrived.

Last week I had an enjoyable lunch with the two gentlemen behind Shotly. The business model behind Shotly is replicated in many industries where bulk buys of inventory are offered to an aggregate of consumers at a significant discount in return for marketing exposure.

I like Shotly because they’ve got smart technologists behind the site as well as deep experience in other industries offering a similar service. They’ve also done an extremely great job on the brand and design. The user experience is pretty clean, however, they push hard on acquiring your email address — as in make you offer it. The email is definitely the key resource in this business model, so it makes sense on the high priority, however I predict that will turn off a lot of potential users. I don’t mind giving mine because I’ve met these guys, they’re business men, and they care about providing value to golfers.

My biggest concern is if there’s enough product and supply for the market. For example, Fab.com works well because there is a plethora of designers always creating pieces, art work and everyday cool things. In golf, there’s is only a limited number of golf ball, golf club, and golf shoes suppliers and manufacturers.

One thing is for certain, there’s never a limited supply of golfer’s trying to get better which focused our lunch discussion on how premium instruction could be also be packaged up and offered at a significant discount.

Either way, I’m optimistic about the future of golfers receiving discounted golf supplies and instruction. Take a look at the site and give it a try when you have a moment, there’s something beautiful about teeing up on the first tee, unwrapping a brand new Pro-v and not worrying about losing it because you know the place to get them on the cheap.

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