Adversity, Olympic-Style

As we mentioned in a previous post, a lot can be learned from Olympic athletes that can be applied to your golf game and your life. If you happened to see the Dutch skater Sven Kramer lose his gold medal because of his coach’s mistake, you know that not all lessons are easy to swallow.

For those of you who haven’t been spending hours in front of the TV and staying up late to catch the coverage, here is a quick recap. Kramer turned in an Olympic record time and thought he had earned the gold when he finished his 10,000m speed skate. Unfortunately he didn’t realize that his coach had ill-advised him to change lanes a few laps back. In reality, his coach was incorrect and when Kramer heeded his advice, it cost him the gold. Talk about heartbreak, anger and disbelief all rolled into one. So what do you do when adversity strikes?

Breathe deeply. Needless to say, Kramer was quite angry after he discovered what had happened. But once the dust settled, his anger subsided and he could see more clearly.

Seek wise counsel. We all know that coaches are indispensable advisors, but make sure you are getting the correct advice.

Realize we are all human. The coach made one mistake. Unfortunately it was on the largest stage possible and it cost his athlete a gold medal.

Take responsibility. Kramer could easily blame his coach, but instead, he stated, “At the end of the day, it is my responsibility. I am the skater on the ice. I have to do it.”

Perhaps you and I won’t be faced with a mistake of this caliber, but regardless of our skill level or talent, we will face trials on and off the course. The question is: how do you handle moments of adversity?

Putt by Numbers

Lady golfer puttToday’s tip comes courtesy of PGA Master Professional Jerry Tucker. He was twice named by Golf Digest as a top 100 teacher, has been a four-time South Florida player of the year, played 13 major championships and set 19 course records, as well as achieving several other accomplishments and accolades. So he certainly knows what he’s talking about. This Tucker tip: how to determine the length of the backswing when putting.

Years ago, Payne Stewart’s instructor Chuck Cook suggested we take the putter back one inch for every foot of the putt’s length. For example, you swing the putter back 15 inches for a 15-foot putt. This was (and is) great advice as many golfers incorrectly take the putter back the same distance for all putts. They then vary the force on the forward swing, but that is a poor distance controller as the stroke becomes uneven and asymmetrical. We should strive for an even-paced stroke that goes back and forth the same amount, with neither acceleration nor deceleration. For more distance, simply lengthen the backswing and let the putter “swing itself” forward. By the way, the inch = 1 foot rule of thumb still works great when the stimpmeter reading of the green is a 9.

Inspiration, Olympic-Style

If you’re like me, you have been glued to the television for the last few week. Perhaps excessive amounts of tube watching isn’t the best, but the Olympics come along just once every two years. Even though golf is not a part of the games, you can still learn a great deal from the athletes and apply those lessons to your game and your life. Here are a few things I’ve learned while watching:SkiJump

Success comes thanks to dedication and lots of practice. Do you think Lindsey Vonn could ski 1.8 miles in 1:44 the first time she stepped into her skis?

To be the best, you must be willing to make sacrifices. The pair who took home the gold medal in figure skating, Zhao and Shen, have been married for a few years. But, to commit to being in top shape for the Olympics, they lived in separate dorm rooms while training.

Stay focused. Alexandre Bilodeau won the first gold medal for Canada on home soil. He told that his brother Frederic who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age was his inspiration and kept him focused. In an interview he said, “Even if it’s raining, I’ll take it, I’ll go train. He doesn’t have that chance, and he’s having a smile every morning he wakes up.”

Even with the best training, sometimes unavoidable things happen…just ask the Korean short track speed skater who was seconds away from a medal when his own teammate took him out.

When the unavoidable does happen, you have to find the courage to go on. During a competition, Jessica Dubé, Canadian pairs figure skater, was cut in the face by her partner’s blade. The result? 83 stitches. Yet, she and her same partner are still competing together.

In the end, let go and have a good time. Take a look at Shawn White’s gold medal half-pipe run. Those heights, flips and acrobatics can only be attributed to practice, courage and a healthy dose of fun.

What have been your favorite moments from the Vancouver Olympics?

Get a Safe Winter Tan

Let’s face it, sometimes we feel better when our skin has a nice, golden hue. But of course we know the negatives of UV exposure. Thankfully there is a solution: safe, sunless tanning products. As the snow continues to fall and our tans fade even more, try these products to get back your sun-kissed glow (and fix those awful golf tan lines):sunless

1.  Neutrogena MicroMist Tanning: this inexpensive spray gives you a bronze glow after three days.

2. Sunlove: a continuous flow of colorful mist.

3. Guerlain’s Terracotta Self-Tanning Spray: one of the best spray tanners on the market.

4. Find a Mystic Tan location: this booth evenly bronzes your skin in just seconds.

5. Try a tinted daily moisturizing lotion: Dove Energy Glow Daily Moisturizer, Aveeno Continuous Radiance Tan, and Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer are our faves.

The Golf Wedge Controversy: U-Shaped Grooves vs. V-Shaped Grooves

In case you’ve been privy to the controversy surrounding the Ping wedge in Phil Mickelson’s bag, we thought we’d attempt to shed a bit of light on the situation. Over the years, golf wedge technology has improved greatly. The grooves, which generate spin on the ball, are now cut by machines rather than created from molds. Recently the USGA made a new rule which prohibits the use of U-shaped wedges, with exception to the Ping-Eye 2.   wedgegroove

The Ping-Eye 2 wedge, at the center of the controversy, was created in the 1980s at the time when U-shaped wedges were perfectly legal. The wedges generate more spin than a V-shaped wedge and are still technically legal. These wedges are still allowed on tour because Ping won a lawsuit against the USGA in 1990. Ping sued the USGA because the tour was implementing new changes in their groove rule and it was going to cost Ping a lot of money. Under the settlement, any Ping-Eye 2 wedge made before April 1, 1990 remains approved for play.

There are a few technicalities, however, to this ruling. If a player wants this type of Ping wedge they must either have already owned it or bought it online or from a garage sale. While this seems like quite an advantage having a club that generates more spin, the Ping-Eye 2 still has some drawbacks. The Ping-Eye 2 wedges are only allowed in competitions that the USGA has jurisdiction over, meaning players cannot use this wedge at the British Open or anywhere outside of the United States or Mexico because the USGA settlement would not apply.

So if you wondered what all this fuss was about these last few weeks, I hope this helped to explain it a bit!

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

iStock_000008216278XSmallWell, ladies, Valentine’s Day is a few days away and despite what florists, jewelers and candy stores may make it seem, the holiday is for more than just us. So, here are a variety of gift ideas that range in price and preference for the man in your life:

Professional golf lessons. Whether your guy loves golf as much as you do or if he is just getting into the swing of things, professional golf lessons can help players of all skill levels.

iSwing app. If golf lessons are a bit too pricey, try a less expensive approach. Download iSwing onto his iPhone. Using the phone’s video camera, the app can measure different speeds, postures and tempos to refine and improve any swing.

Cufflinks. Add a little style to your man when he’s off the course with a fashion accessory that has enjoyed resurgence thanks to the ever-so-stylish TV show “Mad Men.”

Origins for Men. From Easy Slider™ Pre-shave oil to Fire Fighter® aftershave, your man can have a spa experience every time he shaves.

Roll Up Drum Kit. A great stress reliever, this drum pad connects to a PC using a USB port and can be easily stored in a desk drawer. It provides 70 percussion patterns, samples, loops and effects, so he can accompany his favorite tunes.

Couples massage. Okay, so this idea does benefit us ladies as well, but what better way to spend the day than to unwind and de-stress together?

Personalized greeting. Save a tree this Valentine’s Day and send your love digitally. Make a DVD of your favorite memories using Mac’s iDVD software or visit a Hallmark store to compile a DVD greeting. Also, Hallmark offers mobile greetings, so send your sweetie a heart-felt message directly to his phone.

There are a few of ideas to get you going. Will you choose any of these for your special guy? What other ideas do you have?