The importance of Match Play to the Amateur Golfer

I find that the younger group of golfers in America only play golf in stroke play tournaments, and are not exposed enough to the tradition of match play.  There are so many differences in strategy when you are playing match play then when you are playing in a stroke play competition.  Typically when playing stroke play it is you against the course, even when you are in the final holes of a tournament, and it is down to you and one of your playing partners… you are still playing against the course.  Now you might have some differences in strategy when you are playing against one or two players rather than a full field event, but there are huge differences in match play.  Match play the course doesn’t matter, your score doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is finishing the hole in less strokes than your opponent and winning the hole.

The Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup use to be the only match play events that the professionals played in.  Now with the WGC playing a top 64 players in the world match play event every year and the Brits have their own match play event now, we can see that match play is becoming more popular in professional golf.

But where can amateurs play match play? Well the CDGA and the USGA both have plenty of Match Play events, most club championships at private clubs are match play events and some public courses still have club champions that have won through the art of match play.  Many city championships (such as Naperville City and the Aurora City Golf Tournaments) have a match play tournament.  The 2012 US Amateur is the most important and prestigious match play event for the amateur player.  The US Am is what all young golfers aspire to reach.  However the US Am is typically for collegiate players who are aspiring to become PGA Tour players, so the average 30 something guy (namely the Chicago Golf Guy) who has the competitive bug really doesn’t stand a chance with those young guns or does he?

The US Mid Amateur is for amateur golfers over the age of 25.  What the USGA created the Mid Am for is the amateur golfer, who wanted to compete at the highest level but never has an aspiration to turn professional.  Most golfers after the age of 25 don’t turn professional, therefore the Mid Am is the best way for older amateur golfers to compete.  The US Mid Amateur this year is being played right here in Chicago at the beautiful Conway Farms in Lake Forrest, IL.  The US Mid Am has competitors qualify over a few stages: a regional qualifier, a grueling stroke play tournament at Conway Farms to decide on the top 64 players who will go to match play, and then the actual match play tournament where players must win their match in order to advance.  Once you reach the match play portion of this event…all you have to do is beat the best Mid Amateur players one by one (six total matches) until you are the last person standing (literally standing because you cannot take a cart).  Piece of cake.

The winner of the US Mid Am will earn a spot into the Masters tournament, as well as eternal golf and Wikipedia glory as the Mid Am champion, and a spot in the Masters.  Did I mention the Masters?  How else does the normal guy get a chance to play in the Masters Tournament?  No other way for an amateur to get into the Masters than to win their way into the event by playing in one of the many match play events that the USGA hosts.

Chicago Golf Guy’s 2 Cents:
Next time you are out with your buddies try a new gambling game that is as old as golf itself.  Don’t have a stroke play game, play 18 hole match play for $5 or drinks after the round.  Go all out when you play match play as well.  For example you cannot tee off first if you did not win the previous hole or the last hole that was won.  You cannot play out of turn in match play (if you do your opponent can ask you to replay the shot, and that only happens when you play out of turn and hit a good shot…so be aware of who is away…when in doubt ask).  You can coincide putts to your playing partner, and he can coincide putts to you.  Learn some of the strategy of going for a par five in two after your partner has gotten close on his second shot. Or maybe you lay up a shot that you would normally go for only because your opponent has hit one in the water off of the tee.  Why try to make that par putt when a two putt wins the hole.  Remember that match play is not a total score, but who has won the most holes.

Match play is truly the only way to measure your self against another golfer (that is besides by height).  For Match Play is you against your opponent in the thunder dome of all golf.  Two men enter but only one man can leave victorious.

Top Putters of all time… Clubs not Players:

I thought it would be nice to go over some of the most important putters in history (what I think at least).  I thought we would start with some of my favorites, as well as important putters in history (both in design and actual famous putters), unique and ground breaking putters, and then just some wacky stuff that would be fun to talk about.

If you have a favorite putter, that is not listed here, then please contact the Chicago Golf Guy and we will review your favorite putter.  OR Are you a writer? Send us your own review, and if we like it we will post it.

Chicago Golf Guy’s Top Putters of All Time:

Dave Pelz’s Three Ball Putter

Top Golf Gambling Games:

Are you still playing Bingo Bango Bongo?  Are you stuck playing the same game because you don’t know any other golf games to play?  Don’t worry the Chicago Golf Guy has got you covered.  Gambling Games, Variations on your favorite golf games, or just wild and wacky new games.

The Skins Game 2.0~

The Scotch Game~

The Nine Point Game~

Ten Great Golf Gambling Games~from Golf Digest

Don’t be fooled by these normal golf gambling games, be sure to check out each one for Chicago Golf Guy variations.  I cannot claim that I invented all of these games, or any really, but the variations sure do make any Sunday golf game a lot more fun.

Wolf ~ The Five Person Golf Gambling Game

wolfWolf is one of the most classic and commonly known (but hardly ever played) golf bet or wager.  I personally only play wolf when we have a fivesome and there is really no other way to play a good “team game” otherwise.  You cannot play a scotch game or partner match with five guys, and we do not want to leave one guy out as the third or more appropriately the fifth wheel.

Definition of Wolf the Golf Gambling Game:
Pig / Wolf is one of the classic golf betting games for foursomes. Players rotate as the “Wolf.” On each hole, the player designated as the Wolf tees off last.  After each of the other 3 golfer’s tee shots, the Wolf has the option of choosing to team up with that player (let’s say they bomb one down the middle) or to pass (maybe they shank one into the trees.) Once the next player hits, the Wolf cannot go back to choose a previous drive / playing partner.  So if the Wolf passes on the first two drives, his only options left are to take the 3rd player as his partner or if he’s feeling lucky (and the first 3 drives are all in trouble), go it alone and call ‘Wolf’ (hence the name.)

Whenever ‘Wolf’ is called, all bets are now doubled.  If the wolf manages to beat the best score of the other 3 golfers, then he wins double points.  But if any one of the other 3 golfers (The 3 Little Piggies) manages to beat the ‘Wolf’s’ score, then the Wolf pays double points.

What the heck does that mean?  A simplified definition of wolf…
Wolf can be played with four or five players.  Each person in the group will get to be the wolf in rotation.  The biggest key to wolf is keeping the same order on the tee despite any honor system.  This means that player 1 tees off first on the first hole, player 2 second and so on and so forth.  The last guy is always the wolf, in this example player 5.  On the next hole the person who was the wolf on the previous hole now tees off first followed by player 1 and then 2 and then 3…you get the point.  As long as you keep the same rotation then the game is easy.  Each person accumulates points and for each hole.  If the wolf on hole #1 picked player 3 to be his partner, #3, and #5 (the wolf) would play that hole against players 1, 2 and 4.  Lets say player number 2 makes a par and is the low score for that hole everyone on his team wins a point.  So on the scorecard you would give everyone on player 2′s team a point, and no one else.  If the wolf were to make a par and win the hole, only him and his chosen partner would get points.  Make sense.

How the betting works:
At the start of the round you choose the order of players and the bet itself.  Each point is worth a dime, quarter, dollar, $5 or up if you are playing in a big time money game (be careful of those guys they always seem to have a great round when the bet gets higher!).  At the end of the round you add up all the points and each player has to square up with anyone who has more points than they do.  For easy math lets say the following happens:

  • Player 1 has 18 points
  • Player 2 has 10 points
  • Player 3 has 25 points
  • Player 4 has 12 points
  • Player 5 has 24 points

Player 2 has the least amount of points, therefore he would owe each and every person in his group the difference.  Meaning if you were playing each point was worth a dollar then player 2 would owe player 1 $8, player 3 $15, player 4 $2 and player 5 $14.  The nice thing about wolf is if you finish in the middle of the pack, you are collecting from the non winners (hate to use the word looser, but cannot think of a better term) and you are paying only a few winners.  The key to wolf is to finish no worse than the middle.  Collect from two players and pay out two players, but it is always nice to finish first.

When the points double:
The points in wolf double when two events occur: when someone wins the hole with a birdie and when someone goes wolf.  You would have a double multiplier if a wolf won the hole with a birdie (1 point won x 2 for the birdie and then x 2 again for the wolf… 1 for 2 for 4 points total won).  Players can also play a form of press/repress when playing wolf.  Just like in the nine point game, only the man with the lowest total of points can press the hole (before anyone hits), and only the wolf can decide to repress (before players leave the tee but after everyone has hit).

Wolf is a great gambling game to play with your regular foursome, but probably not a game y0u are going to find when you just pick up a group on the first tee.  The betting is a little tougher, you have to know your opponents pretty well and there is some strategy when playing wolf.  For example we all know Freddie hits a big fade, so on the dog leg left fourth hole with tons of trees right you know Freddie is going to be a risk factor and that might be a good spot to press if your on the bottom.  You will never have that kind of great information when you are playing with strangers.

A little pulp fiction nod to the baddest wolf around…Winston Wolf.

What does a good golfer look like? Part 2

The Scratch Golfer and what he looks like part deux:

bad-golferWhen we ended part one of the two part series of what a good golfer looks like, we ended up with the players putter.  I wanted to go over a few terms of what a good player can be described as.  A Scratch Player is someone with a .9 handicap or better.  I apologize to anyone who says they are a scratch player and do not qualify by my definition, but in order to be a scratch you have to be a 0 handicap.  I’ll give you a .9 variance on that handicap, but you have to be a .9 or better.

Someone who is described as a stick is anyone who is a 1 handicap to roughly a 5.9.  Again this is just my belief, and I personally fall into this category, but I am technically not a scratch player.  The Chicago Golf Guy carries a 2.2 handicap, my goal is to get lower this year, but that is another blog post.  A “stick” is a made up term, but I like it better than people lying and saying they are a scratch player, and they don’t qualify, however they are better than the single digit handicapper definition.  Which brings us to the definition of a single digit handicapper.  The single digit handicap is any golfer who carries a 6 handicap to a 9.9.

Please do not take offense to these terms.  They are just definitions that I have come up with, and anyone who carries a single digit handicap or lower is someone who should be feared on the the golf course, and looked up to by younger players and anyone new to the game.

But enough definitions of the good player what do they look like?
A good golfer will have some sort of either hybrid or fairway wood combination.  Every good player is going to play a 3wd, but will they have a 5wd or 7wd? How about a hybrid or will they stick with the long irons?  I am happy to say that if Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy choose to play a 5wd, then any good player can have one in their bag.  A lot of touring pros now play with hybrids instead of those pesky long irons.  Now don’t get me wrong if you see a guy sporting a 2 iron, I would tread lightly when deciding how much to play per point in your friendly match.

Now that we have discussed the players clubs themselves and what kind of bag that they will play, what about other accessories?
What a player brings to the course, besides his clubs is very important to each and every player.  The good player will have some kind of specialty head cover.  If that is a dog head cover on their driver, or a Rocket Tour or Jan Craig pom pom head cover on the 3wd, or possibly a expensive limited edition Scotty Cameron putter cover.  The head covers a good player puts on his sticks is typically not the factory head cover for their R11 driver.  This is not a definitive statement, but more often than not, you will see some kind of specialty head cover.

What you will not see in a good players bag?
Plastic Tees:  I am a firm believer in this, you will not see a plastic tee in the hands of the scratch player.  You are definitely not going to see a plastic tee that is suppose to perform better.  A brush tee, or a cup on one side is something that the good player is not going to take much stock in.  Stick with wood, and try to find some that are white.

Iron Covers: This is a capitol offense for golfers in my opinion.  I am going to apologize right now to anyone with iron covers, and I am not poking fun (your friends will do that enough for me), but there is no reason to have iron covers.  They get lost, they are not functional, and they just scream I got suckered into buying these by some crappy salesmen at my local golf store.  This is the golf equivalent of the rust undercoating for used cars…don’t buy it.

Pull Carts:  The player who uses a pull cart is a touchy subject.  Typically you must have some kind of physical ailment if you are going to rock the pull cart.  Old age is one of them, bad knees or possibly a bad back would be an excuse for the pull cart.  Just remember Old Tom Morris never used a pull cart, Bobby Jones never used a pull cart, Jack Nicklaus…Arnold Palmer…the list goes on and on…no pull carts.  If you are past your prime or are unable to walk the course and carry your bag, take a caddy or ride.  Or put your clubs on your partners cart, and then walk the course yourself.  I am not saying that you cannot use a pull cart and be a good player, but you are going to have to have some sick game to bust out your own pull cart out of the trunk and not get at least a little ribbing.

Ball Washing Machines:  Use your towel.  There is no reason to use the ball washer.  Use your head covers if you have to or your partners shirt tail, but under no circumstances should you be using the ball washer.  Just think of this, have you ever seen a ball washer on the PGA Tour?????

Any type of stroke counting machine or those little clickers that umpires use:  If you are a good player there is no need to count past 6.  My feeling is if you cannot count the shots you are hitting then you are in no way shape or form worried about how you look to other players.

Chicago Golf Guy’s Two Cents:
This golf blog post is meant to be a little funny and a little educational.  As in every joke, there is some truth in the punch line, but it is not definitive.  I just wanted to put some of these things out there, and help the hackers of the golfing world be able to look like a player even if they cannot always play like one.

What does a good golfer look like? Part 1

The Scratch Golfer and what he looks like:

Harry Vardon the original Scratch Golfer

Harry Vardon the original Scratch Golfer

I think about this all the time, what does a really good player look like?  Golf is one of those funny games where players come in all different shapes and sizes.  The quintessential fat old white golfer is no longer the norm.  Golf has become a sport.  Golfers are now athletes, and the players on TV look younger and are in better shape.  The days of a fat Golden Bear are long gone, now are the days of the trim and fit golfers of the world.

We know that the best golfers on the PGA Tour are slim and fit work out buffs who hit it a ton, and have incredible short games (I know not fair right?).  But when you look at the best players at the local public golf course, what do those players look like?  What does the average Joe at the muni-course look like when he is winning the club’s tournaments/outings.

I would like to transcend the idea of what a “player” physically looks like, but focus on what their golf equipment looks like.  After countless days in my youth washing golf clubs at several different golf courses, both for the members and regulars, as well as the whack a moles that pop up once a year during their corporate outings.  In all of those bags, you can almost instantly tell when a guy is a “player” and when he is a “hack”.

The players bag will be a carry bag.  Typically a Ping or possibly a Titleist stand bag, and the occasional Sun Mountain or Ogio thrown in.  The players bag will not have 14 dividers (one for each club), and the bag will be slightly faded due to all the time spend on the range out in the sun.  A cart bag does not mean that someone cannot be a player, but the golfer who is a stick is typically a purist.   The purist or traditionalist likes to walk and enjoys the game with a caddy not a cart.  Anyone who takes a caddy while using a cart bag is definitely someone who has never caddied before…but that is a different blog post.

The clubs themselves will look used or somewhat damaged.  I like to think of my blades as having beauty marks, not dents and dings.  The tools of a good player will be used and beat up from all the play they get.  New clubs typically means someone is trying to buy themselves a game rather than working it out in the dirt.  Dirt causes dings.  Dings means your out there working on your game.  The good players find a set of sticks and keep them for years.  Drivers and putters may come and go but a good iron set can last longer than most marriages.

Wedges.  This is a tough call.  Wedges are typically not of the same set as a players irons.  Wedges can be from Vokey or Cleveland or Scratch or some crazy Japanese brand.  The brand is not as important as the make up.  Typically you will see 2-3 wedges besides the PW of a players set.  Either a 52,56 and 60* or possibly a 50, 54, and 58, or another combination of degrees, but the point is that the players set has a slew of wedges.  Those wedges were hand picked to help the players game improve.  A scratch golfer knows exactly how far his 1/2 swing 52* wedge goes, and the difference that his 3/4 swing 56* goes in trajectory and distance.  Wedges are the scoring clubs, and a player cannot be left wanting when it comes to their scoring clubs.

The players putter.  The putter is one of those clubs in the bag that can be priceless, worthless, mallet or blade, beat up or in museum condition.  If you only see a players putter, you may not be able to tell if they are a player or a hack.  Good players will subject themselves to some crazy putters to sink more putts, and the hacks out there can buy a great looking putter but not be able to use it.  Bottom line is you cannot judge a player by his putter.  Your better off sizing up your opponents by checking out their bag in its entirety or watching him or her hit balls on the range.

Stay tuned for part two of what does a good player look like where we get into the difference in the players big dog, fairway woods and hybrids, plus the most important difference in the player vs hacker debate…the accessories.

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP ~ Major Golf Fantasy League

pga2013feat

The last major of the year is this week, The PGA Championship at Oak Hill, and when its major championship time ~ its golf fantasy league time brought to you by Chicago Style Golf. Same rules as the US Open Fantasy League, pick six players, no more than four major champions, who ever wins the most money with their six guys wins the Fantasy League and a $250 Gift Certificate to Chicago Style Golf, good for anything in their fabulous golf store…and they have a lot of stuff.

What are the Rules?
No rules in Golf Fantasy, except that you can only choose six players, and that only four of those six can be major champions.

What can I win?
A $250 Gift Certificate good at Chicago Style Golf. You can take the cash value of the Gift Certificate which is $120 cash money, but we suggest you check out Chicago Style Golf and get yourself something nice, they were willing to give you free money after all.

When will I know if I won?
We like to make sure that everything is correct, and I don’t email the wrong golfer that he won, and then send him the Whoops email…so typically the Tuesday after the tournament ends the winning email will be sent out.

How will you come up with the winner?
Take your six players total money earnings for the 2013 PGA Championship and the player whose team has won the most amount of money will be determined the winner of the Chicago Style Golf 2013 PGA Championship Pick Six Fantasy League.

How do I sign up?
Fill out the contact form below, and you are good to go. Good Luck!

Official Rules:
PICK SIX PGA CHAMPIONSHIP FANTASY LEAGUE with a $250 Gift Certificate to be given away to the winner. Any and all ties will be determined by the closest player to the winning score with out going over*. Remember you can only pick four major champs for your team, so be sure to double check that you only have four major champs on your team and not six… this was a problem during the Masters Fantasy League. The last and final rule is that you are only allowed one entry. Any violations of these rules will result in your disqualification and forfeiture of any winnings.

*if both players go over, then the closest to will be declared the winner even though he has gone over the winning score. In the case of a tie, and the tie breaker cannot determine a winner the reaming teams will split the winnings evenly.

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The Open Championship 2013 ~ Phil’s finest final round to date

emo

When asked how it felt to win the thrid leg of the Grand Slam of golf…Phil’s response: If six runner ups counted as a win, Id have all four won.

That is Phil in a nutshell, pulling off the great shots, when he needs to is why he has so many wins and now a 5th Major. Phil is already a hall of fame golfer, and he is now on the elite list of players who have won all but one of the three major championships. Sam Snead is the only other player who is as successful as Phil Mickelson, and he too could not win the US Open. Sam had his heart breaks at the US Open, just not quite as many as Phil.

But would Phil have won if he had not come so close at Merion only a month ago? No one but Phil can answer that question, and I am not sure even he could tell us the absolute answer. Whats the old saying, if something does not kill us it only make us stronger. I think Phil is a great champion, and he deserves nothing but the best.  I still have hope that we can see Phil take home the US Open Trophy next year at Pinehurst, or maybe we have to wait until 2015 to see Phil win…maybe Phil becomes the oldest Major Champion.  Only time will tell, but if this is the last tournament Phil ever won, it would be one hell of a final round.

The Open Championship ~ Fantasy League:

openchamp2013

Its that time again, the Open Championship is upon us (only three days away), and when its major championship time ~ its golf fantasy league time brought to you by Chicago Style Golf.  Same rules as the US Open Fantasy League, pick six players, no more than four major champions, who ever wins the most money with their six guys wins the Fantasy League and a $250 Gift Certificate to Chicago Style Golf, good for anything in their fabulous golf store…and they have a lot of stuff.

What are the Rules? 
No rules in Golf Fantasy, except that you can only choose six players, and that only four of those six can be major champions.

What can I win? 
A $250 Gift Certificate good at Chicago Style Golf.  You can take the cash value of the Gift Certificate which is $120 cash money, but we suggest you check out Chicago Style Golf and get yourself something nice, they were willing to give you free money after all.

When will I know if I won? 
We like to make sure that everything is correct, and I don’t email the wrong golfer that he won, and then send him the Whoops email…so typically the Tuesday after the Open Championship emails will be sent out.

How will you come up with the winner? 
Take your six players total money earnings for the 2013 Open Championship and the player whose team has won the most amount of money will be determined the winner of the Chicago Style Golf 2013 Open Championship Pick Six Fantasy League.

How do I sign up? 
Fill out the contact form below, and you are good to go.  Good Luck!

Official Rules:
PICK SIX OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP FANTASY LEAGUE with a $250 Gift Certificate to be given away to the winner.  Any and all ties will be determined by the closest player to the winning score with out going over*.  Remember you can only pick four major champs for your team, so be sure to double check that you only have four major champs on your team and not six… this was a problem during the Masters Fantasy League.  The last and final rule is that you are only allowed one entry.  Any violations of these rules will result in your disqualification and forfeiture of any winnings.

*if both players go over, then the closest to will be declared the winner  even though he has gone over the winning score.  In the case of a tie, and the tie breaker cannot determine a winner the reaming teams will split the winnings evenly.

The Putt Path ~ Chicago’s first putting traning aid: