Monday, August 30, 2010

Full Speed Ahead!

Wow, over two weeks since my last post?! Although I'm not surprised, I do feel some sympathy for my loyal readers who hang on my every word...

My Apologies.

I am in the middle of pure crazy mode right now. Last weekend was Tom's bachelor party (I'd tell you how it went, but, well, you know - rules is rules), this coming weekend we have weddings to attend on both Saturday and Sunday, and both those mornings we are doing something else...wait, what are we doing again....oh yeah...MOVING. Yep, Penske trucks, packing tape and heavy lifting all week, moving me Saturday, and then Julie's stuff Sunday into our AMAZING new beach house in Solana Beach. I can't wait!

So, as you can imagine, my blog-abilities have been slacking for a reason lately. But excuses are for...never mind, I make excuses with the best of 'em.

The Holiday Bowl's Barona Million Dollar Hole-in-One Shootout starts next week (September 6-17th), so I will be gettin' my golf swing on for the next two weeks! Come on out and join me!

Until we meet again...keep it real.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

PGA Championship - Heartbreak City

This past weekend, the PGA Championship (one of golf's four Major Championships) was hosted at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. The Straits is a brutal golf course, with over 1,200 sand traps, and crazy-strong winds on the final Sunday (today).

For those of you who did not watch, you missed one of the most bizarre, heartbreaking finishes in golf tournament history. The victim - Dustin Johnson.

Dustin Johnson

Now, before we get into this specific tournament, you may remember Dustin as the young guy who went into the final Sunday at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach with the lead and proceeded to BLOW UP, lose the lead, and shoot one of the worst final rounds by a leader in major championship history (82). After the event, many speculated that his epic collapse was one of such humongous proportion that he may never bounce back...

Well, he proved everyone wrong a few weeks later where once again, he carded a great score at the British Open (the year's 3rd Major) and showed he wasn't going to fall by the wayside.

Which brings us to this weekend's PGA Championship. On this fateful Sunday, Dustin found himself two shots back and paired with the 54-hole leader, Nick Watney. I could also write a whole post about Watney's Sunday performance, which rivaled the stink-bomb of Johnson's at Pebble Beach that I mentioned earlier - but suffice to say that Nick ended up shooting an 81 and played his way right off the leaderboard. But back to Dustin...

For the entire round, Dustin really couldn't get anything going in terms of scoring, but he played steady, consistent golf and kept his name toward the top of the leaderboard as he made his way to the final five holes of the course. After hitting the ball well all day, he finally started sinking putts, and after an impressive birdie-birdie sequence on the 16th and 17th holes, Dustin found himself in the familiar position of leading a major. Only this time, it was on the final hole of the tournament, and he knew what he had to do. Par, and he wins. Bogey, and he ties Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer and goes to a 3-hole playoff.

Par to win, bogey to tie.

His nerves were startlingly apparent right away, as he shanked his drive way right into the gallery of fans. It was so far off that we couldn't see the ball through all the rabid fans running to stand next to what was about to be the most important shot of the tournament.

As Johnson reached his ball, he was quite surprised to find his ball sitting cleanly on a patch of soft dirt, obviously trampled by all the walking traffic of the fans. He had a clean lie, and the throng of fans opened a path for him to the green. He ended up hooking the ball way left, but made one of the best chips of his life to get the ball close for a shot at par and the outright lead. And what does he do? He missed the putt!

So right now you're thinking, "Boring story Marc, what's so heartbreaking or crazy about that?" Read on my friends, read on....

As Johnson walked off the green, noticeably upset about having missed the putt to win the tournament outright, the head rules official met him on the edge of the green, and shook his hand. At the time I figured he was giving him instruction as to where to go for the 3-hole playoff. But man was I wrong...

The broadcaster came over the air to tell the CBS audience that the official had informed Johnson that when he was on that patch of dirt on the 18th hole amidst all the fans, he was actually in a sand trap. And when he was in that sand trap, he grounded his club before his shot (for those of you non-golfers - when you're in a sand trap, you're not allowed to touch your club to the sand in your pre-shot routine or during any practice swings, or else it's a 2-stroke penalty). Well, Johnson and the rest of the world were incredulous.

Click here for the video recap.

As mentioned, Whistling Straits has over 1,200 sand traps on the course, almost 25% of which are way out of bounds and unreachable. The traps are also wide-ranging in size - some the size of a lake, some the size of my shin. Well, let me tell you - there was no way to know that Johnson was standing in a sand trap. By the time he got to his ball, there were fans standing in the sand trap (when have you ever seen fans in a sand trap???), and there was no sign of a lip or edge or anything to indicate he was in a trap. Hell, the ground was hard, not powdery like a...sand trap.

CBS showed countless replays of Johnson in that spot, his club definitively grounded (it's true, he did ground it). The question was never "Did he ground the club?" or "Does he know the rules?" The point of dispute came down to one question "Was it a sand trap?"

Sadly, the technical answer was "Yes". The course layout has that labeled as a sand trap, and the rules sheet said that any ground resembling a sand trap should be treated like a sand trap. So in objective, heartless context - yes, Johnson grounded a club in sand trap.

But how the f*** could he have possible known that? Sure, in retrospect, he could have said "Hey Mr. Marshal, would you please come look at this ball, which is sitting on a hard patch of dirt, which is surrounded by fans standing on the dirt, with no sign of an edge or lip in sight, and let me know if this is a sand trap?" But nobody would have even had that thought enter their mind - not Dustin, not Tiger, not Phil, not Jack Nicklaus. Johnson was up a creek with no paddle.

There was nothing he could do. The rules said there were traps all over, and were to be treated as such. He grounded his club.

So he got the 2-stroke penalty. And oh yeah, it dropped him from tied for 1st-place, to a tie for third place. As horrible as this was, could you imagine if he had sunk the putt? He would have celebrated immensely, thrown his hat in the air, done the obligatory fist-pump, chucked his ball into the crowd, high-fived his caddy, cried in his arms, pointed to the heavens, and every other conceivable celebration tactic...

...and then be told that his par actually was only good enough to make him finish second?

That's too horrific for me to even think about. It's bad enough that even when he missed the putt, he had the temporary consolation of knowing he could still go win the playoff against Watson and Kaymer. But, in hindsight, I'm really glad he missed that putt. Cuz it would have been too heart-wrenching to watch.

So now, if you're Johnson, what do you do? You have assessed yourself the 2-stroke penalty, lost the tournament, and are no longer part of the (now uber-anticlimactic final) 3-hole playoff. Let's just say half the media who normally walk the course during a playoff sat camped outside the locker room, just hoping to get a sound-bite from the expectedly and deservedly-pissed Dustin Johnson. I expected Johnson to decline comment, allow his temper to die down, not say anything stupid, and respectfully get out of dodge ASAP.

But he didn't leave. He didn't hide.

He came right out of the locker room, straight from a shower that I'm sure he wished would wash the whole nightmare scenario away. And he stood in front of those cameras, listened to the media ask questions baiting him to rip on the scoring officials, and he took the high road. He was obviously upset, and admitted he had no clue it was a bunker and disagreed that it was a bunker. But he didn't rip on the rules committee. He didn't rip the PGA. He told it like it was. He said, (paraphrase) "They told me I grounded my club in the bunker. It never even crossed my mind it was a bunker. It's a tough pill to swallow." He thinks its wrong, but he's not calling for anyone's head. And as the new hot, young star who just got robbed of a chance to play in a playoff for the PGA Championship - nobody would have faulted him if he did.

Golf is so cut and dry. I love it, and on days like today, I hate it. There are rules, and its officials do not look keenly on subjective interpretations. But Johnson deserved one today. I understand he grounded a club in a "bunker", but this is a hard one to shake off, even as a fan.

Dustin - I applaud you for your demeanor and your interactions with the media. I commend you for being a stand-up guy during a shi**y moment. But most of all, I applaud you for taking your collapse at Pebble Beach, not using it as an excuse, but rather using it as fuel, and coming a sand trap away from winning another major within the same year.

You earned points in my book today. Now if only those points meant anything.

*Footnote - Oh yeah, Martin Kaymer won the playoff.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Want to Win $1 Million?


Yep, you read that right! The first two weeks of September, you have the chance to qualify for a chance to win $1 million!

For the 22nd consecutive year, my work (Holiday Bowl) is putting on its annual "Barona Million Dollar Hole-in-One Shootout" out at Stadium Golf Center (off the I-15 on Aero Drive). This year's event runs September 6th-17th (closed Saturday/Sunday) from 11:00am-8:00pm. And best of all, this event is run by me!

Click here for the Official Event Website.

So here's the drill:

For ten days, golfers of all ages and skill levels will try their hand at a chance to win $1 million. Over 25,000 golf balls will be hit over the course of two weeks as participants pay $1/ball and take aim at a pin 125-yards out. We also run specials all day long, like 2-for-1, or even 3-for-1 (balls per dollar), so you're bound to get a deal while you're there!

(No, that's not me)

Remember, anyone is free to enter!

The top ten closest shots of each day also receive great daily prizes, including $500 travel vouchers, golf rounds at local courses, restaurant gift certificates, hotel getaway packages, Padres tickets, SDSU basketball and football tickets, Farmers Insurance Open tickets, and tons more.

For those who qualify, the chance to win $1 Million at the Final Shootout will take place on Monday, September 20th at Barona Creek Golf Club. At the shootout, finalists will get one ball as they take aim at a pin 175-yards out. If anyone sinks a hole-in-one, they will win $1 MILLION! Prizes will also be given out to the three closest shots, even if nobody hits an ace. Oh yeah, and a huge brunch follows the shootout.

(The 2009 Finalists)

Like I said, this is one of the events I produce, so I will be out there for all ten days. Yep, ten days, outside, with t-shirt, shorts and sunglasses. Rough life. But even if you're not into golf, come say hi! It's a really fun event, and there are some people who get really into it!

So come on out and support my work (and me) and give yourself a shot to win $1 million!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Long Time, No Post!

Yikes! 16 days since the last post? Alas, I make no excuses.

Have I thought about posting during that time? Well, I have acknowledged the fact that I haven't posted over the last two weeks, but have not had the urge nor the motivation to post in that time. So am I sorry? Actually, yes! I got to respect my readers!

But enough of that crap!

I have returned from my summer trips to San Francisco and Chicago, and am now home (San Diego) until late September! I won't detail each and every waking minute of our awesome trips, but suffice to say Julie and I had a phenomenal couple weeks exploring Chicago, seeing family in Chicago, being part of a beautiful wedding in Pleasanton at Wente Vineyard, and seeing family in SF as well! If that wasn't enough of a recap for you, go ahead and visit my Facebook page (only if you are my friend, no stalkers please) for some photo evidence of said journeys.

Yes, you read that right...I am actually posting photos on Facebook! Someone recently told me "You take all these photos, but do nothing with them...what's the point?" I had no argument. Thus my posting photos on FB began.

1) Football season is just around the corner, so work is ramping up. I'm ready to see how the Pac-10 and Big 12 compete this year, especially with all the crazy expansion talk on the periphery. This is when my job gets fun!

2) I have joined my first fantasy football league. I'm already overwhelmed with drafts, trades, player rankings, and waivers. Not to mention the specific rules my league has instituted, which includes not being able to draft any players who attended U$C, or any pro defenses whose best player went to U$C. Yep, we're Bruins.

3) I have gone back to my normal 8-hour days, 5 days a week work-weeks. The 10-hour day work-weeks with every Monday off were nice, but I soon realized it essentially barred me from being able to run and/or surf. 7:30am-6:00pm didn't leave much wiggle room, so I decided to get back in the groove of normal weeks, with some athletic activity on the side.

4) The last point was also influenced by the fluctuating nature of my waist size...

1) I'm getting really excited for Tom's wedding coming up in just over 3 weeks (not to mention the bachelor party)! He has made the mistake of making me best man...which means I get the microphone. Oh Tom, you have no idea what you've done.

2) September 6-17th is our annual Hole-in-One Shootout out at Stadium Golf Center. I will dedicate a post to this sometime this week. But for now, just know I work at a driving range for 10 days. Life is rough.

3) Julie and I are moving! First week of September we begin our house-party (yep, you read right - HOUSE) in Solana Beach! I can't even BEGIN to tell you all the amazing things about our place, but we are stoked! Holla at a playa.

4) Texas. Texas. Texas. This year's annual UCLA reunion journeys to one of the hearts of college football - the University of Texas. Our Bruins make the trek to Austin to take on the Longhorns, and we will be there, with bells on (no, not really - I feel like with my past track record as a fan I need to refute such rumors).

Ok, I'm back in the blogging-saddle!