Golf Digress

Physically cultured commentary on Sport and Wellness

Month: October, 2013

That’s Golf! 10/27/31

Talk about scary. Studio headphones are FRIGHTENING!

Talk about scary. Studio headphones are FRIGHTENING!

SCRIPT

THAT’S GOLF!

OCTOBER 27TH, 2013

www.am1300thezone.com

GOOD MORNING. WOW. THE YEAR’S REALLY FLYING BY. “TRUCK MONTH” WILL BE HERE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT. OR, IS IT ALREADY TRUCK MONTH? IT’S ALWAYS TRUCK MONTH SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS. I NEVER KNOW WHAT TO GET ANYONE. MUD FLAPS? SUCH A CLICHE. SCENTED PINE TREE? A GUN RACK’S SUCH A PERSONAL THING. . . .

OF COURSE, I’M DELIGHTED BOTH OF YOU FOUND US. THANK YOU. WE’RE ON SUNDAY MORNINGS NOW. AN EXCLUSIVE PRESENTATION OF SPORTSTALK AM 1300 THE ZONE AND YOUR AUSTIN COMMUNITY CHURCH OF THE INVETERATE DUFFER. (Fortunately no concussion tests.) THE EIGHT O’CLOCK SERVICE. COME AS YOU ARE. THE PROGRAM THAT TAKES YOU BACK TO THE DAYS WHEN THE ENEMY WASN’T PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS, BIG DATA, PEDOPHILE PRIESTS, OR EVEN ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER. I’M OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHEN THE ENEMY WAS  – yes! “BETWEEN MEAL SNACKS.” SCARY!

IT’S ALMOST HALLOWEEN. THE HAUNTED HOUSE, HOUSE OF TORMENT THING, IS A VERY BIG DEAL. IT’S WHERE YOU ACTUALLY PAY TO EXPERIENCE TORMENT, A NEW TWIST ON AN OLD, TERROR-FILLED TRADITION. THAT’S WHAT GETS ME. IN THE OLD DAYS, PEOPLE SEEKING TO HAIR-RAISING EPISODES OF EXTREME DISTRESS MERELY VISITED RELATIVES. (WAIT, I’M THINKING OF THANKSGIVING! I’M GETITNG AHEAD OF MYSELF.)

NOW PEOPLE ACTUALLY PAY TO HAVE STRANGERS CHARGE AT THEM MENACINGLY, PERHAPS WITH A CHAIN SAW, RATHER THAN SIMPLY BREAK EACH OTHER DOWN WITH HOUSE-ATOSIS, TRULY TERRIFYING CHILDREN, STRANGE COOKING, AND MORONIC CONVERSATION.

THERE REALLY SHOULD BE A GOLF VERSION OF THE HOUSE OF TORMENT. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES. SCOTT HOCH OR DOUG SANDERS MISSING SHORT PUTTS TO WIN MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS. THERE ARE MANY SHOTS THAT HAVE CERTAINLY INDUCED SOME SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. THE BALL COMING BACK TO HIT JEFF MAGGERT DURING A BUNKER SHOT LEADING THE MASTERS. I HAVEN’T EVEN MENTIONED THE RYDER CUP. OH, ANY NUMBER OF DISASTERS THAT HAVE BEFALLEN TOP GOLFERS COME TO MIND. REMEMBER, STRICKER’S SHANK FROM A PERFECT LIE IN THE FAIRWAY AT MERION THIS YEAR? MAYBE JUST A SPOOKY ROOM, DIM LIGHTING, AND A DOWNHILL, SIDE-HILL FIVE FOOTER, OR A FLOP SHOT OFF HARD PAN.

ANYWAY, WELCOME AGAIN TO MY NIGHTMARE, ANOTHER GHOULISH HOUR OF GORY GOLFIANA.

“A source of great satisfaction. . .”

". . .enjoyable in the open air."

“. . .enjoyable in the open air.”

This just in from the hot-and-bothered-under-cold-water-immersion department news desk (see also: previous post, “Of course, Old Tom Morris took the plunge!”).

You remember Paul Reinwald, the “champion mountain climber?” No? The “famous Austrian mountain climber holds world’s records in ascending European and American Mountains.” Says so right here in the January 1912 issue of Physical Culture magazine.

The “Comment, Counsel and Criticism by our Readers” section ran a few “self-photographs” of Herr Reinwald on top of California’s Mt. San Antonio, 10,340 feet above sea level. The man is um scantily clad in a photo “indulging in a snow bath” near a flying Old Glory.

“I always take snow baths in winter, and bathe in streams in zero weather. This practice keeps me in good condition. I have never been sick in my life.”

We learn that his ascension “was a feat performed under the most difficult conditions. The snow was not sufficiently compact and gave way at every step. Mr. Reinwald also carried a 45-pound pack on this trip.” And, we hasten to add, at least one um Speedo-like undergarment.

Editor and founder Bernarr MacFadden is no less bullish on taking the plunge in the August 1910 issue, under “Hot weather hints:”

One seeks the cold bath in summer with pleasurable antics. It is exhilarating and refreshing. It is particularly refreshing in the open air. The ocean, lakes and rivers offer opportunities that are to be commended. But even at home one will find the tub a source of great satisfaction, and increased health.

 

“Both cheeks!”

Image

Compiling a list of the usual suspects a reader would figure on encountering in a book on  baseball between the ears, the last person I expected to bump into was Joanne Carner. But there she was, in the third edition of Dorfman and Kuehne’s The Mental Game of Baseball. Heck, she may have very well been an excellent baseball player. The record will reflect that she won everything the U.S.G.A. has to offer, including the big one.

One slightly indelicate story. When I watch a home run hitter on our softball team catch one on the screws, I can’t help but think of something Big Mama once said to the late Dick Taylor of Golf World. Dick told me that he was watching as Joanne absolutely nailed a drive. She turned to him and said simply, “both cheeks.” Of course that’s where the power comes from, as Harvey liked to say, from the “big” muscles. Roger Clemens may be just about the biggest human from the waist down you’re likely to see.

Once dubbed “The Great Gundy,” the former Miss Gunderson, reappears as a teaching point in a chapter on preparation.

Joanne Carner became the first woman golfer to reach $2 million in career earnings. She claims that striving for perfection is the only way to be the best.

 “You have to want to win,” said Carner, who has won the Vare Trophy for the lowest stroke average five times. “And if you want to win, you stay in there and practice totally different. What I try to do is chip every ball in the hole. You’re not going to do it every time, but that’s the attitude you have to have.

 “I won’t let myself out of the bunker until I hole one out,” she said of her practice routine. “I do that with everything I do, and a lot of times I have to stand out there longer than I want. But I may stay sharp and consistent.”

John Jermaine, an exceptional amateur and multiple club champion at Royal Porthcawl, who guided the Ryder Cup effort for Wales, told me very much the same story about a young, determined South African long ago. Gary Player wouldn’t leave, finally pulling up his car to illuminate the bunker so he could continue until he sunk the requisite number.

Happy Birthday Harvey Penick

Harvey Penick couldn’t have been more gracious. Bud Shrake sat over on a couch, microphone at the ready. A steady stream of people would come to visit the oracle. Bud would simply turn on the mic and see what came from the conversation. This was after the first book, based on the contents of his Scribbletex notebook, which I’m lucky enough to say I’ve held in my hands.

The only time Bud said he ever saw Harvey get genuinely angry was over his suggestion to get one of those automatic signing stamps. It would’ve approximated Harvey’s signature well enough. Signing each copy came to be difficult and fairly preposterous. Stacks of the Little Red Book would arrive at the Penick house. I saw them. Occasionally they would get mislaid, causing frantic searches. Harvey would not relent. He was insistent that there was to be no approximation. If someone wanted a signed copy from him, and went to the trouble to ask and send their copy, they were going to get it.

I sat alongside him, the better to be closer, although he had no trouble hearing and understanding me. Occasionally he would look out onto the porch, and notice a squirrel or just wait for my awkward questions. He told me many stories, the ones he said he often told writers, including about Herman Keiser showing up at Austin Country Club dressed as a forlorn caddie along with the notorious Titanic Thompson. Later they’d recognize the ‘Missouri Mortician’ in the paper as the winner of the Masters. Harvey was curious about me, especially about how I knew about Abe Mitchell, a working class British champion from the early twentieth century. Mitchell went on to find success but was perhaps one of the first of those in the modern era to be saddled with the “best to never have won a major” title, which he never did. I was a Mitchell fan from cigarette cards and was, frankly, surprised that Harvey knew who he was. Mitchell did achieve immortality. He is the model of the golfer on top of the Ryder Cup, having worked as the private instructor for Samuel Ryder.

I’d found a saying of Mitchell’s which I particularly liked, and included it in our manuscript of Golf Etiquette. Harvey noticed it, and commented about it. In fact, he later included it in one of his later books. That he agreed to endorse Golf Etiquette was something of a dream come true, and he and Bud even correctly spelled my name when they included a mention of me and the book in “Learn Etiquette from Barbara.” It appears in For All Who Love the Game. Barbara Puett, an excellent student of Harvey’s, and for many years an excellent teacher, features etiquette in her classes. She often teaches absolute beginners; in fact the classes, available through the adult Informal Classes through the University of Texas, always fill up quickly. I occasionally assist. It’s wonderful to see golfers get off on the right foot in addition to learning the basics of decorum. Former UT golf coach George Hannon told her once she was providing a public service by actually going out on the course and prepping new golfers to their responsibilities, which is true. Everyone who completes her beginner 1 class gets a copy of Golf Etiquette.

Harvey did look at me askance. I asked if he could teach me how to hit a stymie. “You don’t need to know how to do that,” he said. That was true but I persisted, and he showed me the following trick. It didn’t work well on his carpet and rug but it works like a charm on a green.

Place two balls one in front of the other, a few inches apart. Step a little bit on the back ball, compressing it down slightly into the green. [Please don’t damage the green. Find a crappy spot, or an edge, or just don’t hold me responsible.] Then simply putt the back ball. It hops up and over the front ball, a perfect antidote to negotiating a stymie. (Now that I think of it, it was an old cigarette card of Abe Mitchell demonstrating proper stymie negotiating technique that must’ve prompted the question.)

I didn’t have the nerve to ask Harvey under what circumstances he acquired this mystery. I wonder. Back in the day the stymie, a compelling subject that I explored at some length in Golf Unplugged (Tatra Press, 2008), could be a masterful bit of strategy. Harvey’s tip would of course been highly unethical. But handy.

At any rate, happy birthday Harvey, happy birthday to a grown caddie, a most interesting man, and a justly revered teacher. It shouldn’t have surprised me but when I came across a chapter entitled “Yoga” in their last collaboration (my personal favorite), The Game for a Lifetime (1996), or as I call it, the Little Blue Book, Harvey again demonstrated he was way ahead of the curve.

“I can’t imagine,” he wrote, “a more useful pursuit for a golfer than the study of yoga.” There you have it. As if he needed any endorsement, let alone one from a shag boy. An extraordinary individual, who I very much enjoyed meeting and speaking with on several occasions.

Lanced Armstrong’s “lie is no longer believable.”

No shortage of Lanced books on sale at the Austin Public Library's Recycled Reads store. Hardcovers: $2, paperback: $1. Cheap!

No shortage of Lanced books on sale at the Austin Public Library’s Recycled Reads store. Hardcovers: $2, paperback: $1. Cheap!

It’s been tough to keep up with it all. There’s Tuesday’s banner USA Today headline, “LEMOND SLAMS LANCE, SAYS ACTIONS ‘CRIMINAL.’

[CNN’s Anderson] Cooper asked LeMond if Armstrong perpetrated the greatest fraud in sports history.

Absolutely. Absolutely,” LeMond replied. “The greatest fraud was that, I mean, I know his physical capabilities. He is a top 30 at best. I mean, at best. No matter what. If he was clean, everybody was clean, he was top 30 at best. He is not capable …of the top five.

“What do you think should happen to him now?” Cooper asked.

“This is not a sporting infraction, said LeMond, a three-time Tour de France winner. “This is criminal.”

“You think he should go to jail?” Cooper asked.

“I do, yes,” said LeMond, who compared Armstrong to Bernie Madoff.

A couple of days before, in The Guardian, another damning headline: “Lance Armstrong tells Alex Gibney: ‘The lie is no longer believable.’ (http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2013/oct/20/lance-armstrong-drugs-in-sp). If The Armstrong Lie (released next month) is anywhere near as good as Gibney’s Enron tour de force, The Smartest Guys in the Room, his treatment of Armstrong’s tour de farce should be mesmerizing. It started as comeback movie to be called The Road Back, but for obvious reasons was never released. Paul Kimmage of The Observer asks:

What if it had been released and people thought: “What a hero. We love this guy.” And then a month later, the Usada report is released and now those same people are in shock: “He’s a doper! Hey Alex Gibney, what have you just sold us here?”

Yeah, well, there was that, and that’s why we didn’t release it. It was not a promo job – there was quite a bit about how brutal he was with people and the allegations of doping – but, in the light of events, it was not a film that could be credible. As Lance once told me – because we had a conversation prior to Oprah when he was pondering how to come forward and I said, not nudging him: “Why don’t you just keep doing what you always do and fight?” He said “Well, the lie is no longer believable.” So there had come a moment when the lie was no longer believable.

The movie premiered recently at the Toronto Film Festival. From Fox News:

Taking a fresh look at the footage late last year, Gibney and producer Frank Marshall recognized that they had captured the incredible truth that had been “hiding in plain sight,” he said. “We realized that we had all of this stuff that we didn’t know was so important then, but was now important,” said Marshall.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/09/09/lance-armstrong-lies-revealed-in-gibney-film/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+foxnews%2Fworld+%28Internal+-+World+Latest+-+Text%29#ixzz2eRJMfCcv

There’s another new book. The authors, two seasoned Wall Street Journal reporters, have been making the radio rounds promoting Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever. Unfortunately, they’re not on the bill for this weekend’s Texas Book Festival. The book’s billed as ”The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports.”

He finally returned the bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics. There’s that.

Odd, too, I thought, was the comment on The Guardian’s site from author Malcolm Gladwell, defending Liestrong.

“Imagine,” Gladwell says, “if all the schools in England had a rule that you can’t do homework, because homework is a way in which less able kids can close the gap that Nature said ought to exist. Basically, Armstrong did his homework and lied about it! Underneath the covers, with his flashlight on, he did his calculus! And I’m supposed to get upset about that?”

To which a blogger responded in the comments:

FirstBass AB2013

30 September 2013 9:17am

Well, injecting yourself with substances that have been specifically banned by your sport’s governing body to give yourself an advantage, winning lots of races and making lots of money, lying about your use of these substance, and bullying people attempt to point out the truth – would that meet your definition of cheating? I think society has a fairly broad consensus on this one.

Exactly.

“The scientific research…is limited.”

Cotton, core muscles undoubtedly engaged.

Cotton, core muscles undoubtedly engaged.

Inquiring and intrepid procrastinators are welcome to take a look at the recent article in the October issue of Strength and Conditioning Journal. Perhaps yours hasn’t come yet. It’s available for free online (http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2013/10000/Core_Muscle_Activation_and_Activity_Throughout_the.1.aspx.

In “Core Muscle Activation and Activity Throughout the Different Phases of the Golf Swing: A Literature Review,” three intrepid researchers from the Biokinetics and Sports Science Department at the University of Zululand, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa dig deep into the literature regarding what they conclude is an admittedly “fascinating and complex motion requiring skilled movements and specific muscle contraction to be executed supremely.”

Henriëtte V. Loock, Jeanne M. Grace and Stuart J. Semple searched available literature divining 150 articles, 59 meeting their inclusion criteria, 16 dealing with “core muscles within different phases of the golf swing.” Sadly, they report “No data portrays the activity of core muscles during different phases of the golf swing.”

Among their conclusions:

 Although the abdomen and lower back are considered to be the “power zones” and are thus understood to be the regions that play a fundamental role in power production during the golf swing, this review established that there is relatively little information detailing which specific core muscles and core muscle groups are used in each phase of the golf swing.

More of the same, I’m afraid, from their Summary:

The scientific research on the biomechanics of the golf swing is growing, yet unfortunately, much of the research around the activation of specific core muscles during the different phases of the golf swing is limited. Because of this, the strength and conditioning professional looking to improve the performance of a golf player has limited resources on which to call upon for programming information.

“The Nefarious Holmes”

"At the track he left nothing to chance," wrote Red Smith. Holmes did know Wilson, the notorious canary trainer.

“At the track he left nothing to chance,” wrote Red Smith. Holmes did know Wilson, the notorious canary trainer.

We have just the one obscure, tantalizing aside. Deciphering the sole reference to golf in the Sherlock Holmes stories would require the deductive reasoning skills of the Great Detective himself.

It comes at the beginning of The Greek Interpreter from the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, published in 1894, a date worth noting as a bullish time for golf in Victorian England.

Holmes and Dr. Watson are at ease, which is in itself, in a way, instructive.

It was after tea on a summer evening, and the conversation, which had roamed in a desultory, spasmodic fashion from golf clubs to the causes of the change in the obliquity of the ecliptic, came round at last to the question of atavism and hereditary aptitude. The point under discussion was, how far any singular gift in an individual was due to his ancestry and how far to his own early training.

Enough about the obliquity of the ecliptic, give us more about those clubs! Isn’t it interesting that “golf clubs” came first in the conversation? A comfortable departure point among friends – if one isn’t supposing too much. An ice breaker with Holmes, who was so often an intimidating, diffident or poor casual conversationalist, naturally so when considering a mystery.

So who brought up the clubs in conversation? I’m guessing Watson. And, for the record, do gentlemen with little interest in golf informally sit down – then or now – with a dear friend and begin discussing golf clubs if they don’t play? I think not.

We now move to even shiftier sands. Does the author mean by golf clubs the places one ventures to play the game, any number of which were springing up across the British landscape at that time. Or, does he mean the implements of the Royal & Ancient Game – perhaps something splendid from Tom Stewart Jr.’s shop in St. Andrews, favored by the newly-crowned J.H. Taylor, having bested the Scots at their own game, or a new innovation deadly in the hands of any number of exceptional amateurs?

Holmes is worthy of speculation. Of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s relationship to golf, the case is iron-clad. Recently I had the pleasure of admiring his actual clubs. They were on exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. “Sport and Literature” presented a most eclectic collection of the museum’s sporting memorabilia and ephemera. There was a first edition of Casey at the Bat, costumes and personal notes from Robert DeNiro’s role in Bang the Drum Slowly (“practice spitting”), asides from William Faulkner on quarterbacking his high school team, and Pierce Egan’s magnificent Volume One of Boxiana; or Sketches of Ancient and Modern Pugilism; from the days of the reopened Broughton and Slack to the Heroes of the Present Milling Aera, By One of the Fancy (1818).

Conan-Doyle’s clubs were a pleasant and unexpected surprise. Another jaw-dropper was mounted nearby: a single page of the tightly scripted, original manuscript, of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The exhibit notes describe the author as a “natural athlete and avid sportsman, listing among his physical culture pursuits: football, hockey (a common sport in Great Britain and frequently referenced by those who turned in later years to the new Victorian passion for golf), rugby (ditto), swimming and skiing.

“Yet Doyle’s great love,” we learn, “was golf. He golfed wherever and whenever he could,” including, to the bemusement of hard scrapple Vermonters, in bucolic Brattleboro, when the snow relented in early spring.

The clubs displayed (reading from my notes; the exhibit closed in August) included: three irons, two woods, driver (missing whipping), brassie (also “loose”), a beautiful aluminum Mills putter, and a jigger with (certainly suggestive) extra whipping. It was too dark to get more information on the make, but there was no mistaking these were not, if you’ll excuse the phrase, museum pieces. The clubs bore obvious signs of repeated use.  It is also interesting to learn that, in 1901, while playing golf with a friend, Fletcher Robinson, Robinson shared to Conan Doyle the story about a “demon beast said to haunt the Dartmoor moors. “The friends immediately began crafting Holmes’s most famous adventure.” Funny, how so many creative endeavors begin in the fresh air in pursuit of a little ball.

An original illustration from "The Greek Interpreter," with golf given only a passing, though tantalizing, mention.

An original illustration from “The Greek Interpreter,” with golf given only a passing, though tantalizing, mention.

Back to more on Holmes, again quoting from the exhibit materials, we learn he “was an expert with singlestick and foil, a fine boxer equally accomplished with rifle and small arms and had a knowing eye for horseflesh.”

To this last point we turn to another critical eye, a learned man with rapier wit and insight, if perhaps not expert in singlestick and foil. Red Smith did, however, know something about horseflesh, and about those nefariously attracted to its profitable potential.

In two columns, back-to-back in 1954 (collected in View of Sport, 1954), Smith takes “the best and wisest man” known to Dr. Watson to sporting task. He fully lets himself go in The Nefarious Holmes and The Game’s Afoot.

Holmes is implicated as a “horse player of degenerate principles who thought nothing of fixing a race,” and that “whenever his activities impinged upon the field of sports, he exhibited a singular moral slackness, an ethical blind spot of shocking dimensions.”

It’s a scathing, wonderful, poke in the sanctimonious chops. You may reach for the collected works for a welcome re-reading of Silver Blaze. Decide for yourself what motives might’ve existed for Holmes not disclosing the stolen horse’s whereabouts. “As I stand to win a little on this next race,” he tells Watson, “I shall defer a lengthy explanation.” (To which Red takes immediate umbrage. “At the track,” he cuts to the quick, “he [Holmes] left nothing to chance.”)

All ripping good stuff. Despite the lack of apparent evidence, Holmes certainly had a golfer’s mien, and temperament. It’s not hard to believe the game’s subtler twists not appealing to his sporting, or gambling, instincts. But surely, his clubs would’ve been in better shape than the state his creator left his.

I’ve not mentioned two self-published books by one of the growing legion of Holmes (and Watson) fans who have borrowed the leads to their one ends. Two books, one entitled Sherlock Holmes The Golfer, the other Sherlock Holmes Saved Golf, written by Bob Jones, a longtime member of the Golf Collectors Society, for the record, appeared years ago, for those so inclined to pursue a thread I think best left to the one who knew him best.

Sunday Sermon

Live, more or less, from the shag-encrusted confines, not like those other reheated, syndicated steam tray shows from the Man.

Live, more or less, from the shag-encrusted confines, not like those other reheated, syndicated steam tray shows from the Man.

Script

THAT’S GOLF!

SportsTalk AM 1300 The Zone

Austin, TX

October 20, 2013

THANKS FOR FINDING US. WE’VE RELOCATED. SAME SHAG-ENCRUSTED STUDIOS. SAME SNARKY YANKEE HOST.

THIS IS THE 8 O’CLOCK SERVICE. METAL SPIKES WELCOME. FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW WHAT THOSE ARE, METAL SPIKES WERE GOLF SHOES WITH SHORT METAL SPINES ON THE BOTTOM. THEY MADE A GREAT NOISE WALKING ACROSS CONCRETE. “CLACKITY-CLACK” VALUE, IT WAS KNOWN. THEY WERE ALSO MURDEROUS ON CARPETS. AND WHEN JOHN KENNEDY MOVED INTO THE WHITE HOUSE, THERE WAS A TRAIL WHERE HIS PREDECESSOR DWIGHT EISENHOWER HAD MADE HOLES IN THE CARPET WITH HIS SPIKES GOING BACK AND FORTH OUT TO THE SOUTH LAWN TO HIT BALLS.

WE’RE AN EXCLUSIVE PRESENTATION (FOR GOOD REASON, AS WILL SOON BE APPARENT) OF SPORTSTALK AM 1300 THE ZONE, AND YOUR AUSTIN COMMUNITY CHURCH OF THE INVETERATE DUFFER.

OUR SERMON TODAY COMES FROM THE REVEREND R.A. WHITE OF CHICAGO. THAT’S ALL I KNOW ABOUT HIM. THESE WORDS REPRINTED IN THE AMERICAN GOLFER MAGAZINE OF MARCH, 1918. NO IDEA HOW HIS CONGREGATION RESPONDED TO THES WORDS: QUOTE

 GOLF IS A NATIONAL MORAL ASSET. IT HAS NOT ONLY BROUGHT HAPPINESS WITH THE FRESHENING UP ON THE RED BLOOD, BUT IT HAS KEPT TENS OF THOUSANDS FROM DEPLETING DISSIPATIONS. EVEN THE PRESENCE OF THE UBIQUITOUS NINETEENTH HOLE DOES NOT APPRECIABLY WEAKEN THE ARGUMENT. TO PLAY A GAME OF GOLF OVER GREEN FIELDS IN THE SUNSHINE, UNDER SKIES AS DREAMY AS PARADISE, WITH A LOAD OF BOOZE, WOULD BE AS UNSATISFACTORY TO A HEALTHY MAN AS TO GET ALL “LIT UP” BEFORE GOING TO LISTEN TO GRAND OPERA. GAMES, SPORTS, GYMNASIUMS, ALL FORMS OF PHYSICAL CULTURE AND EXERCISE ARE NOT MERE PLEASURES. THEY ARE OF VAST SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE. THEY ARE AS IMPORTANT AS THE SCHOOLS OR CHURCH. THEY ARE MEN-MAKERS.

END QUOTE.

(I’M JUST GUESSING, BUT WHEN THE REV. WHITE SET DOWN THOSE SENTIMENTS, I THINK HE MAY HAVE RECENTLY WON ALL THE BETS IN HIS MONTHLY TWO-BALL WITH THE BISHOP. WE WILL LIKELY NEVER KNOW. MARCH, 1918.)

The clothes make the golfer

Masters champion Senor Olazabal tastefully appointed at the 2011 Masters. It looks good on him.

Masters champion Senor Olazabal tastefully appointed at the 2011 Masters. It looks good on him.

It’s always pleasing to notice that someone prominent has – obviously through the application of sound reasoning – come to an opinion that you have long espoused. I was just expressing the very same truism to a golf shirt manufacturer of my acquaintance recently when I couldn’t help but notice that Scott Mahoney, CEO of golf clothier Peter Millar agrees. Mr. Mahoney’s shirts were, according to a recent Q&A in Sports Business Journal, “well represented” at the recent ex-Presidents Cup. The company apparently outfitted the entire visiting team, and several of the Americans.

Under a category headed: “On the more outlandish looks:” Mahoney commented:

A guy like Ian Poulter looks great; he’s got cool stuff. But me, a 47-year old businessman, if I tried to wear it, I would look stupid (emphasis added). A guy in his 40s and overweight trying to wear the Ricky Fowler orange game-day outfit. . .it’s a funny thing. Certainly, golf apparel leads the way with a lot of what happens on the market.

Of course he’s right, as I’ve long believed, and observed. In his excellent oral history, The Big Beat, drummer Max Weinberg visits with Dino Danelli. The beat of The Rascals and, before that, The Young Rascals tells Weinberg about the ridiculous band uniforms their manager required back in the days when “groups” wore uniforms. They’d appear on stage, the laughter would be immediate and derisive, dressed as they were in their little page boy outfits. Then, Danelli said, they would start to play and blow the house down. Exactly. They had…game. You dress like that, or like Ricky Fowler or Ian Poulter, etc., you better.

As to Mahoney’s last point, that is, I’m afraid, regrettable. But does the Tour really set the trends? I wonder. The same was admittedly true to some extent with Payne Stewart’s “look.” There were, making the rounds, some ghastly, NFL-themed knickers, with flag shirts and tams – for a time. I even remember watching a Legends of Golf pro-am participant tee off – with suspenders! For Payne the silly outfits provided him with the added, and likely unexpected benefit of a perfect disguise.

In public he could dress “normally.” One time he was standing directly in line in front of me at an airport ticket counter. Jim Warters, a lovely man, scribe and former PGA official, was alongside me. We chatted amiably for several minutes before Payne, who knew Jim, turned around, smiled and said hello. It was confirmation again of Payne’s successful cover, again having shielded him from his celebrity, providing what must have – more than once – welcome anonymity.

In praise of stop-and-go traffic

Michael Sulvane

A Ph. D. in exercise physiology, if he’ll forgive me, Joe Signorile reminded me a little of a cab driver from the movies. A dynamic and energetic speaker, Dr. Signorile teaches at the University of Miami. In a wide-ranging talk, he deftly mixed aspects of neuorophysiology, and the benefits of what’s known as interval training, with his expertise regarding Miami drivers. A quarter-century of extensive field research into both areas has given the professor in kinesiology and sport sciences firm conclusions. These he recently shared with the likely vigor he brings to battling traffic on the Dolphin Expressway

Part of a panel on “The Rise of Intervals,” his presentation, “Interval Training: A Practical Approach” highlighted a day-long symposium honoring the remarkable octogenarian body builder and author Clarence Bass, an interval devotee. Highlighting “the role of science in exercise prescription,” the event was hosted by the no-less dynamic and energetic H.J. Lutcher Stark Center, the University of Texas museum and research library dedicated to physical culture – a venerable term encompassing fitness, strength training and wellness – and sports.

Dr. Signorile defines intervals as “a series of alternating cycles of work and recovery.” He offered technical asides, referencing studies, into the body’s biochemical machinery during exercise: capillary and mitochondrial densities, enzyme concentration and so forth. Adrift amidst academicians and training experts, an interested innocent bystander, the scientific equivalent of the “98-pound weakling” would necessarily seize upon layman-friendly analogies, which Dr. Signorile thankfully offered, including the one about Miami drivers.

Consider, he said, drivers flooring it when the light turns green, racing on at top speed, only to come to a halt at the next red light. This is a supremely inefficient way to drive a car, extravagantly wasteful, if the goal is to conserve fuel.

If the fuel is calories, however, and not unleaded, he said: “To waste a lot of fuel, that’s good. Interval training is very good. Interval training allows more work to be done per unit time.”

In one of his books, Bending the Aging Curve: The Complete Exercise Guide for Aging Adults (Human Kinetics, 2011), he writes:

If increasing aerobic capacity, reducing high blood pressure, or weight loss (especially around the waistline) is the goal, then interval training is one of the most effective tools you possess to reach that goal.

“The wonderful thing about intervals,” he continued in his talk, “You can do them anywhere. You can do them any way, and you still get positive impact. It’s all about intensity. That is all that it’s about.” As he wrote, an interval is an exceptional way to get the most fitness bang for your exercise buck.

 What today goes as ‘interval’ training is hardly new. References to “repetition training” date back to the early 1900s, back when R.P. Williams (above) was “especially fast at the 100 yard and 220 yard dashes…trainer of the Berkeley School…[and]…one of the fastest sprinters in the country [who] has turned out several schoolboys that have won many places in interscholastic championships.”


What today goes as ‘interval’ training is hardly new. References to “repetition training” date back to the early 1900s, back when R.P. Williams (above) was “especially fast at the 100 yard and 220 yard dashes…trainer of the Berkeley School…[and]…one of the fastest sprinters in the country [who] has turned out several schoolboys that have won many places in interscholastic championships.”

For the record, he made of point of mentioning the obligatory but often-neglected proper warm-up and cool-down periods. Questioned about the length of the exertion, he recommended 20 seconds “on” (of work) and 10 seconds “off” (of recovery) for four minutes. It requires  – 98-pound weakling chiming in again – a super-human effort. Studies he noted showed mortals generally slow down at about 10-15 seconds. Clarence Bass, in one of his many books describes his one spectacular fitness experiences, accurately and succinctly describes them as “brutal.”

You may have noticed several recent tides of publicity on what-seem-like ridiculously short work-outs. Twelve minutes? Four minutes? However many minutes one has for daily exercise? There is no mystery. The secret, long recommended for everything from running to biking to swimming to cross-country skiing to sprints, is intervals.

“We function all the time in intervals,” Dr. Signorile said, adding, “there’s always an aerobic component. You can’t get away from it.” Anyone who doubts the assertion, he suggested, should note their response crossing the street in the wake of an approaching bus.  Obviously, the step quickens to avoid a collision. That, he said, is an example of interval training.

Of many studies, he showed two contrasting slides comparing so-called “steady state” exercise with intervals. The first charted interval training and its effects, the alternate periods of rest and exertion represented by apparent mountains – peaks and valleys. A second slide demonstrated the sort of constant, even, steady rate, that one might see commonly performed on health club treadmills for long periods of moderate steady exertion. What is a ruinous way to drive proves a terrific way to work the body.

Intermittent exercise was part of scientific calculations are far back as the 1930s. So-called “repetition training” dates back even further. There is the amusing Swedish translation: Fartlek, it’s known, Fart for speed, lek – for play. Landmark research was done in Japan, known now as the Tabata protocol, an enhanced speed skating training regimen that produced exceptional results in aerobic capacity.

As Dr. Signorile notes in his writings, the length of the periods takes some personal adjustment. Personal aside: Those who may have found that a three-minute round in the ring may be interminable will find excruciating the mix of starting of stopping.

In Bending the Aging Curve, Dr. Signorile is no less explicit than he was in his talk, though, like many subjects in many fields, one finds there is always debate, loose threads and alternate and even divergent opinion. For those who struggle with finding the time to exercise, or with inconclusive results, your scribe found the presentation, and indeed the symposium, most convincing. It would be easy enough to suggest an inefficiency familiar to anyone who drives in an urban environment, with an towards eliciting results certainly more pleasing than road rage. “As the original research report stated,” Dr. Signorile, writes: [interval training] may be one of the best training protocols…”