Tuesday, January 26, 2010

He Shoots. He Scores, He is . . Even Par Every Day.

Isn't it funny, perhaps even curious, how some things just happen? A while back,  on board a westbound 757 out of Chicago heading for Albuquerque, I had the most memorable encounter, even for me.

Soon after takeoff I reached for my copy of Ben Hogan's "Five Lessons" with plans to re-read it for the 5th time. Yes, the 5th time. You see, the first lesson, "The Grip" is 18 pages long and must be mastered before moving to the second lesson.

No sooner do I open the book when the passenger next to me says, "That sure is a great book." I nod and continue reading without commenting. "What do you shoot?" he asked next. "Low to mid 80's" was my reply. I am not anti-social, but I make it a practice of not engaging in small talk with strangers while flying. His next comment really caught my attention when he mentioned he "shoots par every day."  The way he said it intrigued me. "You mean you have shot par or occasionally shoot par.", I replied. "No, I shoot par every time I play."

I soon discovered my fellow passenger, a professor from Cornell, played his campus course every day after his classes and did indeed shoot par every single time he teed it up. The imaginative and beautiful way he achieved this was pure and simple: he stopped playing, quit his round, and walked off after completing 72 strokes!!!. He shared his goal each time out was to go as far as possible in 72 strokes. Instead of concentrating on swing tips and other mind sapping golf instructions, he  only thought about getting as far as possible around the course in 72 strokes. His game improved dramatically with this approach. He repurposed his goals. Why couldn't I do that myself?

Well, I have never forgotten this tale and utilize it today with a slight modification: I do finish my round and post my actual score. I make a mental note, and also one on my scorecard, of exactly where I finished my 72nd stroke. My goal is keep it moving closer and closer to the 18th green. Nothing in my head except going as far and deep into the course as possible. I know if I make it past the 15th hole  I have a chance for a good score; past the 16th, a very good score; past the 17th and I am at the gates of a very low round, and even par maybe. Broke 80 three times last year with this approach.

Kind of gives a new meaning to "going deep" doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rob Pritts, Renaissance Man For Sure

This is a reprint of my blog I posted earlier this year on Rob Pritts. It is well worth re-visiting again. Rob is my featured guest. this week on  The Retired Coach Radio Show

Tune in live this Wednesday at 10:00 am  or circle back later at your leisure for the podcast.

 This is a remarkable story. See if you agree.

Last week, while on a golf related assignment, I had the opportunity to visit with Rob Pritts, CEO of Back 9 Promotions, on the phone from his Atlanta office. During our 45 minute conversation, he shared his journey with me. It will restore your faith in mankind.

A successful banker with 15 years of financial success at the corporate level with a major lender became yet another laid off, downsized professional looking for work. While figuring out his next employment step, he became aware of a neighbor with stage 4 lung cancer in need of financial assistance. The neighbor, a single dad raising two children and unemployed himself due to his never ending medical appointments, was in dire straits. Mr. Pritts understood the suffering this family was experiencing and wanted to do something to alleviate their pain. At the time, he was not financially able to aid his neighbor, so he did the next best thing. He figured out what he could do was raise money for his neighbor's cause. After all, Rob was a banker, with immense fiscal knowledge and deep connections to his community. This led him to initiate a group effort for a golf marathon in hopes of raising $500 to help his neighbor. What followed was certainly an unintended outcome of being unemployed.

In less than 2 weeks, his group raised $8,000 and Rob envisioned golf events being able to provide financial support to others needing assistance. Out of the vision, Back 9 Promotions was born.

Rob now runs golf fundraisers nationwide. In fact, I have already volunteered to work at his August event in Richmond, VA. Back9Promotions is about helping others in the back 9 of life that need a mulligan. Those who need a good bounce of the ball and a sense of hope in a sometimes hopeless situation is what Back 9 Promotions is all about. Their admirable goal is to assist charitable organizations raise funds via golf to enhance the lives of others who face overpowering challenges in their lives.

For more information on this great man and company, take the time to visit his web page Back 9 Promotions  and discover how you may join his cause and help raise funds for those less fortunate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Oh, What A Night!

Last Monday I traveled to Charlottesville, VA (some 80 miles) to take in the Maryland vs. Virginia women's basketball game. As a season ticket holder this was nothing exceptional on my part. Plus I was in need of a break from my golf social media assignments. This promised to be a close encounter with both teams sporting  very young lineups. It was. UVA shot 31% from the floor and Maryland had 28 turnovers but the Terrapins still won by a single point. The night belonged to Virginia fourth year superstar, Monica Wright, who set the Virginia total scoring record and surpassed Dawn Staley's long standing milestone. Staley is now the head coach at South Carolina.

The game was on ESPN and I had the opportunity to meet and visit with two of the folks I follow on Twitter.  Having lived in Connecticut for many years I naturally became a fan of the UCONN women's highly successful basketball team. The first recognizable star and ambassador of this program was Rebecca Lobo who was serving as the sideline reporter for this game as well as tweeting updates on the contest. We chatted for a few minutes after the game and I shared with her I was one of her 12,394 followers. Hey, how many of them actually met her, like me? I congratulated her on her recently announced induction into the collegiate basketball hall of fame and mentioned how much I enjoy her commentary.

Also spent some time with Carolyn Peck, ESPN analyst. As one of her 1,927 followers,  I mentioned how much I enjoy her tweets, especially  her trials and tribulations traveling to all her games. Peck, a former coach, led the Purdue Boilermakers to the 1999 women's national championship.

These two gracious women were kind enough to spend a few minutes with me before they headed off to their next assignment. Exciting for me; most likely not a big deal for them. Perhaps this was a social media encounter of unintended outcomes. Just a few enjoyable minutes with 2 of the 1,624 people I have been following from my desktop.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tiger Could Use the Green Weenie

The Pittsburgh Pirates, back in the days when they were competitive, were like all baseball teams a superstitious bunch. To prove the point they would aim a green weenie like sponge at the opposing team to help them achieve results and win some games. The original green weenie was a sponge that covered the top of a crutch used by an injured Pirate. It soon became a promotional item of epic proportion. Tri-state businesses sponsored Green Weenie give-aways and fans were asked to point the weenie at the opposing batter or pitcher. I was there for one of the original promotions and cherished my prize from that moment on. Always with me and  on display in the various offices I occupied over the years to ward off slumping sales or office idiots. Use to take it with me to all of my kids athletic contests to keep their opponents at bay. I believed in the magic, but soon learned a valuable lesson in this type of hocus-pocus Sometimes it can backfire. Like the time I was aiming it at the opposing hockey goalie when my son, Tucker, skated past the goalie and unexplainably, fell to the ice with an injury. Lesson learned. After that, I put it away, only to be discovered many years later by my seven year old granddaughter, Ava. Needless to say, she was fascinated by the tale.

This past Christmas I presented my classic, original green weenie to her, along with instructions on how best to use it. Ava is now the keeper of this family sports heirloom. She has the perfect make-up to manage this artifact: curiosity and spunk. After all, who really chases sea gulls at the beach besides Ava? She put it use immediately.Took it with her to her first Globetrotter's basketball game and pointed it at their opponent, the Washington Generals. She called me right after the game to let me know the Original Green Weenie was working very well. It's in her hands now. It will be just fine.

Friday, January 1, 2010

May I Suggest a New Year's Resolution?

Happy New Year, 2010. If you are like me, most of you in the next day or so will have a stream of consciousness about resolving to do something toward self  improvement in the year ahead. Let me share my all time favorite book, Golf in the Kingdom, with you, and recommend you add this to your must read list for the New Year. This masterpiece by Michael Murphy will captivate golfers and non-players as well.  Not a book to improve your score; but a mystical story designed to transform your perspective on life.  Yes it will. It did for me.

Several years ago while on a business trip to Richmond, VA I was given this book by Mr. Bernard Savage, a prominent Realtor and golfer extraordinaire. As well as a true Virginia gentleman. I read the book on my return flight to Connecticut. The next week I read it again on a flight to California and re-read it again on the return flight.  What an impact it had on me. After this I could not wait to give this book to friends and clients who loved golf.  These books were presented with just one instruction: Enjoy and pass it on to another golfer.Who knows, some of these may still be traveling along to more golfers. I have enjoyed this wonderful story at least a dozen more times since it first came to me. This is clearly the best expression of the relative elation and charm of the game that has ever been recorded. Filled with instructions that are obvious as well as understated about life lessons discovered in a single round of golf.
Golf in the Kingdom repositions the spotlight back on the personal and sacred behaviors of the game; something we must all re-visit from time to time. Find or buy a copy. Read, pass it on, and let me know what you thought about this journey as well as my suggestion to experience it first hand.
Bet you will read it more than once.