Peter Kratsios Posts

What Makes A Golfer Happy

There is so much fuss these days about the “state of golf” and what we can day to improve the game. First and foremost, there will always be critics in any sports, so to say golf needs to “change” is a bit drastic, but with participation down in recent years it does make sense to reevaluate what golfers actually want.

In writing this piece and doing some research I came to realize that I’m in a perfect position to do some evaluating, as I am your typical millennial golfer who is around other golfers and courses on a daily basis. Golfers are a simple breed, who want camaraderie, and a fun time on the course. So, that being said, what do golfers really want?

1. A well-maintained course

A golf course is a beautiful thing and a masterpiece of human creation with gorgeous views of nature. That being said, we expect the golf course to be in nice shape. There is nothing that frustrates a golfer more than crappy fairways, bumpy greens, inconsistent rough, and beat up tee boxes. Why should I spend my hard earned money on a golf course that doesn’t provide me with a quality product? When golf was booming, course owners were building new facilities like crazy, which hindered quality. This is the industry’s fault, not the golfer’s fault. Golfers don’t mind dishing out a few extra bucks for a nicer course, but we are also not fooled by a lesser product.

2) “If you don’t play good, play fast”

This quote really resonated with me when I heard it from the general manager at Middle Bay Golf Course. I loved it because it was so true. Pace of play has nothing to do with being good or bad at golf, it has everything to do with being considerate of the golfers behind you. Every millennial under the sun thinks they have ADD or ADHD, so testing their patience in a sport that is already a mind game, is not how you get people excited. No need to rush, but play fast, and make sure you keep up with the group ahead of you. Simple.

3) Banter and Laughter 

Golf can be a serious game, but it doesn’t have to be. The average golfer hits a ton of bad shots throughout the round, which shouldn’t be frustrating, but rather an opportunity to poke fun at your buddies. If my friend or player partner hits an atrocious shot, you better believe they will be hearing about it from me. This isn’t to say I am making fun of them, it is simply keeping the mood light. After all, golf is a luxury, remember that.

4) Seeing progress

The average golfer rarely breaks 90, which means there are going to be many, many, bad shots out on the course. That’s not what golfer’s care about, and that’s not what will stop them from coming back. It is seeing constant progress that we want most from round to round. So, my best advice to a beginner or casual golfer is to get a lesson or two. Learn proper mechanics. You can sit out on the range for hours and hours, but if you’re practicing a flawed swing, then you will be ingraining poor habits for the future. Get a lesson, ingrain proper muscle memory, and see that progress you’re looking for.

Give us a good course, be considerate, allow us to laugh, and hopefully we will play long enough to get better!

The Major That Cemented A New Era

The 2014 PGA Championship was bigger than 1 tournament, it was beyond a changing of the guard, it was a perfect display of what the new era of golf looks like.  The new era consists of booming drives, young polarizing talents, and incredible shotmaking that keeps golf fans on the edge of their seat. Rory’s 284yard 3wood that settled 7 feet from the hole on 10 for Eagle, igniting his round, and Rickie’s 212yard 4iron on 16 that he drew 40 yards over towering trees for a huge par save, are prime examples.

Rory’s stretch of golf in the last 22 days has not only dazzled golf fans, but furthermore, has transformed skeptical onlookers into true believers that the future of golf is indeed bright. The PGA Tour accounts for only a fraction of this $176 billion/year industry, but it is definitely the focal point and driving factor for success in the future. If we can agree on that, then let me explain why my excitement for golf has never been greater.

Look no further than the top10 golfers on this year’s money list. There is a great balance between youth and experience, loved and hated players, but most of all, pioneers for what the future of golf will look like. Led by Rory, who is undoubtedly the best golfer in the world, and rounded out by Jordan Spieth, who had the best rookie season of all time last year. Who is in the middle? Glad you asked.

We have the long ball covered with Bubba, bad boy Dustin Johnson, a cinderella story in Jimmy Walker, funky swinging Furyk, controversial European Sergio, a former #1 Kaymer, and the epitome of consistency in Kuchar. No where in the top 10 are the “big names” Tiger and Phil, but thats OK. In fact, thats a good thing. The industry needs innovation, and so does the PGA Tour. We need new fan favorites, different people to root for, and original talents that do things differently than past legends. Rickie has unrivaled flare, Bubba never took a lesson, Dustin Johnson is Mr. Hollywood, and Rory…well, he’s just incredibly gifted.

“To be the face of golf — or one of the faces of golf — it’s a big responsibility,” said McIlroy. “But at the same time, I feel like I’m up to the task of handling it well.”

Is it too early to say that Rory is the face of golf right now? Absolutely not. He is everything Tiger was a decade ago on the course, and much more honest off the course. He is 25 years old and in control of his destiny to become one of the best golfers ever.  If he didn’t think it was possible to balance the weight of those expectations with the responsibilities of marriage, then he certainly did the right thing in calling off his marriage rather than falling into the temptations that comes with fame and fortune.  It wasn’t a popular move by any means, and he could have handled it better, but he is 25 years old and is still learning the ways of the world. Give him a break.

As far as on the course goes, he is a magician. A talent that is so pure it forces you to appreciate how rare it actually is. He had nothing going for him on the front9 yesterday, but stayed patient, just like he did in the Open Championship. He didn’t force any shots, he simply knew he needed a spark plug, which he got with an Eagle on the 10th hole. He then started flag hunting for the next 8 holes on his way to winning his 4th Major. The leaderboard was so tight that the winner needed to be the best player on Sunday, which is was, and will continue to be Rory if he stays focused in the years to come.

I have to admit, I was pulling for Rickie to win, or Phil to pull off a classic Phil victory despite having a very mediocre year. However, I couldn’t be happier the tournament ended the way it did. Golf has entered a new era, and its Rory’s time to shine.

P.S. - Cool exchange between Rory and Rickie that will get you excited for the years to come http://www.golfdigest.com/blogs/the-loop/2014/08/this-twitter-exchange-between.html

 

The Art of Course Management

People say golf is a game played between the ears, and that the mental aspect trumps the physical nature of it. Well, whoever says that, is right. I was told at an early age to “never make 2 mistakes in a row” which didn’t make sense until I started competing competitively. There is a big difference between messing around and actually keeping your score. Bogeys will happen, but it is the doubles, triples, and snowman holes that really get us in trouble. So lets discuss how to avoid “the big number.”

Visualize your shot before you actually hit it. Take a good look at the hole ahead of you, determine where you want to go, where you don’t want to end up, and play the shot accordingly. For example, if out-of-bounds in on the left with a slanted fairway from right to left, playing a fade, or a draw that doesn’t challenge the left side is imperative. A miss on a safe shot may result in the occasionally bogey, but at least you’re not re-teeing.

However, there will always be times to take calculated risks. We have all found ourselves in the trees with window (A) being the safe way out and window (B) being the riskier one that gets us closer to the hole. I am not going to sit here and say always take the safer route, because I rarely do, but there are definitely a few factors to consider.

  1. It is much easier to hit a draw around trees than a fade
  2. If your ball is in deep rough the amount of spin you can generate is much less
  3. Trust your swing path
  4. Always make sure to stay down on the shot and compress the ball

Chipping around the green is where your course management skills are magnified. You are not taking full driving range swings, and you’re most likely not in the fairway, so what now? Visualization is again, key. Try to imagine what the ball will do once it hits the greens to determine the ideal landing spot. Tour professionals frequently read the greens when they are chipping to get a feel for break. Tiger made a living in his prime hitting boring chips with his 60 degree wedge, while Phil wooed crowd with his incredible flop shots. Short game is all feel and preference, just make sure to practice what feels right for you.

Lastly, putting. There is LITERALLY nothing that makes me more mad on the course than 3putting. It infuriates me, and often times, carries over into a poor next shot. The key to putting is understanding the subtleties in the green, figuring out the speed, and keeping your first putt around the hole in case you miss. Too often have a seen myself and other golfers blow their first putt past, or leave in 10 feet short. No one enjoys a 10 foot par putt, or worse, a 10 foot bogey  putt.

You drive for show, and putt for dough!

 

Your PGA Championship (Betting) Guide

The last Major of 2014 is already here, and I cannot believe how fast this year flew by! Nowadays more and more people indulge in fantasy pools, bet on the winners, or simply put their pride on the line with friends.  So, here is your official (betting) guide for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.

Favorite: Rory McIlroy 

Rory is everyone’s favorite, and for good reason. He has always been a streaky golfer, so with his confidence higher than ever, he is a force to be reckon with. His Nike clubs are finally clicking, he is a birdie machine, and seems to extra focused after his high profile breakup with Caroline Wazniacki. However, he has never played at Valhalla, which definitely can have an impact, so we shall see!

Top Dogs: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott

Slick Rick- His track record this year in majors is undeniably impressive. Ever since he teamed up with Butch to get his swing more on plane, he has regained his form that made him a junior prodigy. Masters- T5 US Open- T2 Open Championship- T2. Enough said.

Phil Mickelson- Sure, he has had a down year, and of course he is not playing up to his potential, but that doesn’t concern me. Phil fired a 62 in his last competitive round, which he followed up with TEN birdies in his practice round Monday. Phil is focused on the PGA and is playing well again. He is a hall-of-fame veteran who will come out swinging. Literally.

Adam Scott- His last five major championships: T-3, T-5, T-14, T-9, T-5. He just got knocked down to #2 player is the world so you know he has something to prove this week. Plus, there is no one on planet Earth with a prettier swing.

Contenders: Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed

Lee Westwood- The best golfer never to win a major. Bittersweet indeed. If Lee is able to get over the hump it will mark a year where no Americans win a major, and will be a huge monkey off his back going forward. Westwood has always shined on the big stage, which Valhalla certainly is.

Matt Kuchar- I can already hear the KUCHHHH chants coming from the galleries on Thursday when he gets off to a hot start. He was a non-factor in the Open Championship, but finished T5 at the Masters and T9 at the US Open. Never count out Mr. Consistency.

Patrick Reed- He is getting hot again, he is confident, and is set on making the Ryder Cup team. Reed is someone to keep an eye on and a solid pick to win the PGA.

My Darkhorse: Martin Kaymer

Remember when Martin won the US Open and Players Championship? Yea, so do I. I am not concerned with his string of poor performances in recent weeks, he has never been a good golfer when expectations are high. However, the focus is elsewhere now giving him a chance to surprise everyone again with that sweet swing. Look for Kaymer to make a run at the PGA!

Sunday at Tallgrass was bigger than just 1 qualifier

Leading up to our first New York qualifier we were told it would be impossible to get millennial golfers to give up their Sunday afternoon for a golf tournament, especially one that was run by two relatively new organizations, GolfMatch and Nextgengolf.  That notion, as well as the thought that golf is declining in popularity amongst millennials, didn’t bode well for us.

However, we learned something very encouraging on Sunday afternoon at Tallgrass Golf Club on Long Island. We learned that the future of golf is way brighter than people think.  52 millennial golfers showed up on what was supposed to be a rainy afternoon. Every golfer arrived at least 45 minutes before the 2:30pm shotgun, with one golfer leaving his vacation weekend in Rhode Island to take a 930am ferry, then drove from Connecticut.

The dark clouds faded into clear skies, the golfers played great, and we secured the first 8 spots  for the New York team in the City Championship against Boston. Colin Warren led the field with a 69, and our lone female participant, Brittany Ferrante, shot a 72. These weren’t just some young professionals coming out for a round of golf, these were golfers looking for a venue to both compete and have fun.

Virtually ever golfers stuck around after the round for drinks and food on the terrace, while we calculated the scores and announced the winners. The GM at the course made a point of coming up to us afterwards to say “we have never had so many gentleman in one outing before.” Not just golfers, gentleman.

Nextgengolf and their sister company NCCGA have hosted hundreds of tournaments for millennial golfers, so it was an honor for GolfMatch to be given the opportunity to Co-Sponsor this great event, which we hope to expand into many more cities in the future.

All in all, it was an amazing day, and an inspiring show of support from the young golfers in New York. It just goes to show that enthusiasm for golf is still very much alive, with companies like GolfMatch and Nextgengolf leading the charge for innovation.

Upcoming qualifiers:

Boston qualifier- August 2nd at South Shore CC Sign-up and details

NY qualifier -August 17th at Middle Bay GC Sign-up and details