Sunday, March 6, 2016

Zokol on Golf's Mind Game

Becoming Disco Dick: ‘This could be heaven or this could be hell’

dick zokol

Would you risk being ridiculed to play better golf?
Richard Zokol did.
On our latest Swing Thoughts podcast, Zokol talks about taking a risk that not only propelled him into the lead of a PGA Tour event, but also helped him to learn how to use his mind to play better golf.
On Episode Eight of ST, the Canadian Golf Hall of Famer tells engaging stories about his 20-year adventure on the PGA Tour and shares great insights that can help you play better golf.
The native of White Rock, British Columbia was a rookie on the tour in 1982, but by July he had still failed to make a cut. “I was climbing the walls with frustration because I wasn’t able to perform,” he said. “I was playing well but my thoughts were getting me ahead of me.”
At the Western Open in Chicago, he bought a Walkman, which for you younger folks was a portable cassette tape player and radio that fit on your belt that you listened to with headphones.
He was sure that listening to music while playing might help him stay calm, but the idea of wearing headphones during a PGA Tour event was “radical. I thought, What if I shoot 80?”
He “chickened out” in Chicago and didn’t wear the headphones. He missed yet another cut and kicked himself for failing to take the risk.
Feeling extremely nervous, Zokol teed off in the first round in Milwaukee on the 10th tee at 7:30 a.m. “with no one around.” He let partners Ronnie Black and Larry Rinker get ahead of him, unzipped his golf bag and put the headphones on. The Eagles were playing; he thinks the song was Hotel California, which features the perfectly ominous line for the risk he was taking: “This could be heaven or this could be hell.”
Coming down his 18th hole, he was seven-under par and leading the tournament. He could tell his headphones were generating some excitement because of all the photographers snapping his picture, yet he felt calm. “I was in my own little world.”
Zokol was chill but the PGA Tour was alarmed. Tour officials phoned the United States Golf Association for a ruling and learned that it was legal to wear headphones if the player was listening to music.
He shot 69 and 70 in the second and third rounds, and came down the stretch Sunday in the lead with four shots to play. Alas, the 23-year-old rookie became overwhelmed when he thought about winning and he made double-bogey and bogey to finish T5.
Regardless, Zokol’s bold move paid off. He gave himself a chance to win, and the media excitedly told the story, christening him Disco Dick and vaulting him into the limelight.
More importantly, he became more competitive. “I wore headphones on tour for a year before I stopped. I needed to learn how to control my thoughts without listening to music. I didn’t want to be dependent on the distraction that the Walkman provided,” said Zokol who won two PGA Tour events in 1992, including the Milwaukee Open.
Zokol said the Walkman experiment launched him on a journey of self-discovery, working with mental coaches, learning how to meditate and developing skills in the mental game, which remains a passion since his retirement from the tour. He now works as Golf and Real Estate Specialist at Predator Ridge Resort in Vernon, British Columbia.
“I discovered just how much psychology is involved in the game,” said Zokol, who is working on bringing a technology product to market to help players to evaluate their decision-making and execution.
“What most golfers don’t realize is that the best golf equipment they can ever have is their mind. But not too many people realize this premise.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Suny Turns the Tables on the Turfgrass Zealot, Dave Wilber

If you want to learn more about the Turfgrass Zealot, Dave Wilber, listen to his show but with a twist; I'll be interviewing Dave. You'll learn more about Dave as a person and as one of the preeminent eco-ag turf consultants. Many of today's turf soil and fertility concepts and products are based on Dave's efforts in consulting and educating Superintendents. Listen here:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

GEOFF SHACKELFORD, has it right again!

USGA, ASGCA Partnering For Pro-Bono Design Services

I know what you're thinking, the USGA has been changing courses free of charge for decades. 
But this is actually a program geared toward courses no hosting championships and hosting the everyday golfer. Certainly something like this is a long overdue use of the Green Sectionand of architects, though I do fear for courses receiving recommendations designed to generate pricey re-construction of greens to USGA specs.

What also is missing: the USGA maybe commiting some of its $400 million in reserve to the occassional restoration of a worthy muni. Oh well, a great start...


FAR HILLS, N.J. (Dec. 8, 2015) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) have launched a collaborative program to help publicly accessible golf facilities improve the design and maintenance of their courses and deliver a better experience for their customers.

Combining the expertise of ASGCA member architects and USGA agronomists, scientists and researchers, the program will provide pro bono consulting services to facilities that need assistance to achieve their goal of making  their layouts more enjoyable and reducing their maintenance costs.

“Course design and maintenance form the foundation of a golf facility’s operations,” said Mike Davis, USGA executive director. “With the knowledge that the ASGCA and USGA can offer, more publicly accessible facilities will be able to strengthen this base, while promoting resource efficiency, a better golf experience and a stronger connection to the local community.”

Starting today, facilities can submit an application for the service, which will include an on-site evaluation, professional analysis and a report outlining recommendations for improvement. Recommendations can cover course design, agronomy, environmental stewardship and golf course operations, with the goal of lowering costs while also improving the golfer experience.

“The ASGCA, along with the ASGCA Foundation led by John LaFoy, is pleased to partner with the USGA on this initiative,” said Steve Smyers, president of the ASGCA. “Golf facilities have long benefited from the efforts of ASGCA members and USGA agronomists. Collaboration between our experts will have a positive impact on the facilities we support. ASGCA members are excited and proud to bring their expertise to this program.”

Interested facilities must submit an application by one of three deadlines over the coming year: March 15, Aug. 15 or Dec. 15. The application can be found here.

Canal Shores Golf Course, a community-owned and operated facility in Evanston, Ill., is the first course to receive a pro bono evaluation through the program.

“This has been an incredible opportunity,” said Jason Way, of the Canal Shores planning committee. “We have some great ideas about how to improve the course, but the assistance from the USGA and the ASGCA allows us to get past the initial planning process, so we can move forward with our vision for making Canal Shores a multi-use community green space that the maximum number of people can enjoy.”

Selected facilities must express a willingness to carry out the recommendations from the USGA and ASGCA. Facilities will be expected to track and report the effectiveness of their improvements based on specific metrics.

A video that shares more detailed information on the program and Canal Shores can be found at via the following link.

The partnership complements the USGA’s course consulting services, which deliver implementable solutions to support a healthier future for golf facilities. In October, the USGA also announced a five-year master research partnership with the University of Minnesota to study and develop solutions to golf’s present and future challenges, including environmental sustainability.
The video features Hunki Yun explaining the program from the USGA's new Far Hills TV set. Love the echo chamber vibe!

Here is the application page.

My Comments:

I don't know whether we should laugh or cry. It's kind of like hearing those words, "We're the government and we're here to help." "We're the USGA and the ASGCA and we're here to help." A bit of skepticism is warranted.

Hopefully, these "agronomists" will steer courses away from building USGA greens. In my opinion, the USGA green is a costly mistake and is the highest source of pollution per square foot of turf in the world.

My thoughts on USGA greens:
12.8.2015 | Unregistered CommenterArmen Suny

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #10 Talking Job Searches and Job Interviews with Armen Suny


Join Dave Wilber and Armen Suny as they take a deep dive into the world of job searches and job interviews.
Episoide 10 of The Turfgrass Zealot Project is not short on passion. Dave Wilber and Armen Suny really want you to succeed in your career goals. Handling the job search and the job interview is key to making that happen. Learn some incredible techniques. And be reminded of some very simple things that could put you in the position you want to be in. There's a lot of mistakes being made out there. Don't let them be yours.

Armen Suny's work with Kopplin and Kuebler, an executive search firm, is fascinating and insightful. And you get to hear first hand what is really happening in the trenches from someone who is focused on the world of golf.
Dave Wilber lays on some thoughts about doing it right and paying attention to detail in his opening remarks.

The Turfgrass Zealot Project is brought to you by Klingstone. Proven Bunker Performance for Fifteen Years!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Richard Zokol Interview on St. Andrews and the Open

Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member Dick Zokol shares his extensive experience on the Old Course, including one story about Shetland ponies in the Road Bunker that we won’t go into here, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods and all things British Open.
To listen to that conversation with Hutch, click below.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Suny on Turfnet Radio with Dave Wilber

Yesterday, I was on Turfnet Radio with Dave Wilber, talking design, renovation, fescue greens, US OPEN, executive search, it was a wild ride!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fescue Follies...Not the Best Choice for Greens

The US OPEN is being played at Chambers Bay on a neo-links course which could be called moderately authentic, down to greens that were seeded to fine fescues. The romanticism of links golf with fescue greens will be short lived this week and we'll be hearing more about it as the Championship unfolds.

Why? Josh Lewis, the Superintendent, also known as the Turf Yoda has done an outstanding job preparing the golf course for this Championship. But he has been dealt a losing hand with the selection of fine fescue greens. Fine fescue greens have had little success in North America, when placed in geographic areas that have temperatures that are much higher than the successful fescue greens in European venues normally withstand. St. Andrews highest daily average temperature for the year is 66 degrees, Tacoma averages four months that the average high temperature exceeds 66 degrees. Fine fescue just isn't in its element, no matter how much we wish it would work on greens.

Poa annua, the grass that is the predominant grass on greens from coastal Northern California up through coastal Canada has invaded the greens at Chambers Bay. Not a surprise to anyone that understands turf management. So, now there are two distinctive grass types on the greens with very different growth habits. This will cause putting woes and complaints late in the day, when it will impact greens' smoothness. And if the USGA doesn't listen to the Turf Yoda and they dry the greens down too much, we'll have another 2010 season of majors when course setup becomes an issue. See: Golf Course Setup and Major Championships

These weather charts below graphically demonstrate why fescue greens struggle when climate is not adequately considered.

Chambers Bay, Average Weather from Tacoma, WA

Fraction of Time Spent in Various Temperature Bands

The average fraction of time spent in various temperature bands: frigid (below 15°F), freezing (15°F to 32°F), cold (32°F to 50°F), cool (50°F to 65°F), comfortable (65°F to 75°F), warm (75°F to 85°F), hot (85°F to 100°F) and sweltering (above 100°F).

St. Andrews, Average Weather from Leuchars AFB, UK

Fraction of Time Spent in Various Temperature Bands

The average fraction of time spent in various temperature bands: frigid (below 15°F), freezing (15°F to 32°F), cold (32°F to 50°F), cool (50°F to 65°F), comfortable (65°F to 75°F), warm (75°F to 85°F), hot (85°F to 100°F) and sweltering (above 100°F).
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Friday, May 15, 2015

USGA Greens and the California Drought

With the drought in California worsening, we should all be thinking about protecting our most precious resource, water. Many of you that have read my USGA Greens and The Emperor's New Clothes understand that I think that the USGA green construction method is flawed, in not only its basic concept but in many other ways. But now, I want to address an even more critical element, water demands.

In California and many other parts of the country, golf courses are using low quality water (high salts and bicarbonates) for irrigation. This trend will continue as more focus is put on a higher and greater use (people and food) of water resources, golf course irrigation will necessarily and rightly, be subjugated to use of inferior irrigation water. So now the question is, how do green construction methods affect water usage? Does a USGA green use more or less water than a California green or a High-tech pushup green?

On a recent trip to a desert golf course, the Superintendent was telling me about his flushing of his USGA greens. He was putting what amounted to well over 2 inches of water on the greens to flush the salts out. He may do this every two weeks. Mind you, most of this flushing water is lost, the goal is to force the salts past the "perched" or "false" water table. The USGA green holds water above the gravel blanket and salts accumulate there. They need to be flushed on a regular basis and in areas of the country where rainfall is minimal or drought is occurring, flushing is required to move salts out of the root profile. This USGA Report suggests that flushing (leaching) of greens requires an additional 20% of water. In my opinion, based upon years of observation, flushing may increase total water usage on USGA greens by something closer to 40%. Either way, we, as responsible turf managers should be thinking of ways to reduce water usage.

Well, what if there isn't a "perched" or manmade "false" water table caused by the gravel blanket? Would greens constructed in that fashion require flushing? Yes, they will but the amount of water to keep the salts moving downward and out of the root zone may be considerably less. Anecdotally, I have seen numerous golf courses that are growing the same turf species on USGA greens and non-USGA construction tees and the USGA greens required flushing with 20%-40% more water than their basic demand while the the tees did not require any flushing.

The golf course maintenance industry needs to do some "honest" research and possibly a little soul searching to determine if there is a way to construct greens that use less water. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vineyards for Golf Course Water Conservation

As a prelude to these thoughts, let me tell you about a day that Dick Zokol and I spent with a developer and his team six years ago. We spent the day looking at a beautiful rugged site with enough room for a golf course, residential community and an organic vineyard. That day and that concept have stuck with us. So naturally when dealing with two clients in the last month that are considering turf reductions to reduce water usage, we started thinking about different ways to achieve those goals:

Drought in the Western US is having and will continue to have a huge impact on existing golf courses. There are many water districts that are paying water users, including golf courses, to remove irrigated turf areas. We can pretend to be stewards of the land by putting up more birdhouses or we can dig in and set about reducing water consumption on golf courses. This provides unique challenges for aesthetics and playability along with an opportunity for Wine?

Wine, yes wine, instead of taking the usual route of replacing high water use turf with native type grasses or vegetation, maybe it's time to convert those ares into vineyards. Imagine those excessive  out of play turf areas, planted to grapes.

There have been new residential developments that included golf courses and vineyards but using grapes as a means of reducing water usage on existing golf courses offers a wonderful opportunity for a sensible and gastronomically pleasing means of achieving sustainability.

Vineyards in California typically use between 80,000 and 160,000 gallons of water per acre versus turf that could use  between 750,000 and 1,500,000 gallons per acre. Water conservation is critical to the West and Vineyards may have a place in these efforts in reducing water usage on golf courses.

It's incumbent upon Golf Course Designers to help clubs and courses reduce their demands for precious water resources through innovative thinking. We already have the ability to provide options in playability so that the golf experience, not only, isn't diminished but in all probability, enhanced through Design/Conservation planning. Now we have another vegetative tool to help achieve that goal.

Can you play out of this?

How about this?

Water conservation efforts in some communities have proved unpopular and often times ran amok of the Homeowners Association's rules and regulations. Even property values can be affected by what is perceived to be less appealing landscapes when green grass is no longer wall to wall. But take that same  effort and convert a high water use turf area to a vineyard and quite possibly, you can play golf, drink wine, and conserve water; everyone wins.

Our efforts in Golf Course Architecture must continue to focus on great, immensely playable, sustainable golf!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shackelford on the Ryder Cup Task Force

We can always count on Geoff Shackelford to provide thoughtful insight into the goings on of golf. Today's blog on the Ryder Cup Task Force is just too good, so I pass it on to you.

And I couldn't resist my own comment on Geoff's post:
The Europeans still have a big chip on their shoulders and play that way.
How would a Task Force have helped Team USA at Medinah on Sunday when the US got Crenshawed?

Expendables 11: The (Ryder Cup) Task Force

The Task Force (that's capitalized) is set. There are even people on it who've been part of a winning team. Barely.
PGA of America Announces Ryder Cup Task Force

Past Captains, Players and PGA Leadership to Chart Course for Future U.S. Teams

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (October 14, 2014) – The PGA of America has announced the creation of an 11-member Ryder Cup Task Force, comprised of past Captains, players and PGA of America leadership.

The Task Force, co-chaired by PGA Vice President Derek Sprague of Malone, New York, and PGA Chief Executive Officer Pete Bevacqua of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, will examine the entire Ryder Cup process, including the selection of United States Ryder Cup Captains; the Ryder Cup Points System; dates by which the Team is determined; dates of Captain’s selections; and the selection of Vice Captains.

The Ryder Cup Task Force was created following the 40th Ryder Cup, which concluded Sept. 28, at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland, where the U.S. was defeated by Europe, 16½ to 11½.

“The Ryder Cup is our most prized competitive asset, and the PGA of America is committed to utilizing our utmost energy and resources to support one of the biggest events in all of sport,” said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “The Ryder Cup Task Force, co-chaired by Derek Sprague and Pete Bevacqua, is an exciting and comprehensive initiative that will guide the PGA in developing the right strategy and building ongoing processes and infrastructure for future generations of U.S Teams.”

In addition to Sprague and Bevacqua, the members of the Ryder Cup Task Force are: past Captains Raymond Floyd, Tom Lehman and Davis Love III; past Ryder Cup Team members Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods; and PGA Secretary Paul Levy of Indian Wells, California.

“I think this is a great step by the PGA to accomplish what we all want – to win the Ryder Cup,” said Woods, a member of seven U.S. Ryder Cup Teams. “The Ryder Cup is very important to every player who has the honor to represent his country. I’m excited to be part of this group.”

The 41st Ryder Cup will be contested at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, in September 2016. The U.S. has lost three consecutive Ryder Cups and eight of the past 10 biennial competitions. America last won a Ryder Cup in 2008, and its last overseas victory occurred in 1993.

“Competing in a Ryder Cup is the experience of a lifetime, and serving as Captain is the ultimate honor,” said Love, a six-time Ryder Cup Team member, a 2010 Vice Captain and the 2012 U.S. Captain. “Having experienced all roles within this great event, I am deeply committed to serving once more to help direct Team USA to be a force again in the Ryder Cup.”

The Ryder Cup began in 1927. The U.S. leads the overall series, 25-13-2. However, since 1985, Europe owns a 10-4-1 advantage.
It looks like an Expendables cast. Former A-Listers, B-Listers, C-Listers and stand-ins for the former A-listers who said no.