Sunday, October 31, 2010

What are your chances of making a hole in one?

A hole in one is considered an extraordinary accomplishment amongst golfers. It’s a precious achievement that some say requires a lot of skill and technique from the golfer. Tiger Woods had made two during his PGA career and 18 in his life. The first one when he was 6 years old. Annika Sorenstam, with 67 all-time victories has made 3. It’s often reported that the late great Ben Hogan never had a hole in one. While I agree it takes some skill, I believe it’s mostly luck. And how lucky can one get? What are the odds of your making a hole in one?I remember mine quite clearly. It was on hole 16 of the Eastridge Golf and Country Club. I teed up my pink precept ladies ball and hit it. At that time I had only been playing for two years and seven months. I would have been considered a beginner by most standards. I made a fairly decent swing, saw the ball go straight and land on the green and then slowly disappear. Of course I was in disbelief. But my heart was beating. Pounding even. My three golfing buddies Ernie, Ian and Benjie were shouting and laughing. I must have turned pale because I recall Ernie passing me his bottled water and saying, “drink some!”. We hurriedly got into the cart and drove to the green. There was no ball in sight. I kept thinking, “it’s in the cup, I got a hole in one, it’s in the cup…” I said this partly not to jinx anything, and mostly to convince myself I really did get a hole in one. I ran down the cart but slowly walked to the flag. So slow I could hear the beating of my heart. I bent over to check the cup and lo and behold there was my pink ball!
A hole in one! I remember i just kept just jumping up and down like i had won the lottery.
I was even luckier that i had the coolest golfing buddies who kept my proud moment alive by taking pictures as it happened. Like the whole event was meant to be. So what are the percentages of this happening? My darling father who is turning 80 years old soon and who has been playing golf for almost 40 years now has never had one. My husband Alex has had two holes in one. Then there are some golfers who go and finish their entire careers without ever having one. So I did a little bit of research and found out the following information:

In 1999, Golf Digest reported, “One insurance company puts a PGA Tour pro’s chances at 1 in 3,756 and an amateur’s at 1 in 12,750.” That same issue reported that the “odds of an amateur making two holes-in-one in a round are 9,222,500 to 1.” Golf Digest has provided “acer odds” since the 1950s, and in the year 2000 hired Francis Scheid, Ph.D., the retired chairman of the math department at Boston University, to calculate the odds using the latest and best information available. The odds Scheid came up with were: 5,000 to 1 for a “low-handicapper,” 12,000 to 1 for an “average player.” If you are a low-handicapper and play 1,000 rounds in your life, according to Scheid, you have a 20-percent chance of recording an ace. If you play 5,000 rounds, your odds are 1:1.
The Golf Digest study provided many great nuggets of information, even breaking the odds down by quality of play:

Tour player making an ace: 3,000 to 1

Low-handicapper making an ace: 5,000 to 1

Average player making an ace: 12,000 to 1

Some other highlights from Scheid’s calculations:
Average player acing a 200-yard hole: 150,000 to 1
Two players from the same foursome acing the same hole: 17 million to 1
One player making two holes-in-one in the same round: 67 million to 1
(Source: Primary source is Golf Digest; more info on acer odds and holes-in-one can be found in the Sept. 2005 issue.)

So keep on playing. If you are an average player there’s a 1 in 12,750 chance you could get a hole in one in your lifetime.
Ernie, Ian, Me and Benjie

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When women golfers go on a road trip....

A golf trip for women only.  I was excited!  It wasn’t exactly a golf getaway.  It was going to be one tough competition against some of the best women golfers. It's not very often that seven women could take a week off, to represent their club and compete in the 18th Women's Golf Association of the Philippines at the Del Monte Golf Club in Bukidnon. 

Over a hundred thirty women from 19 golf clubs covering Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao playing three straight days (excluding practice rounds) with no golf carts (except for seniors). Walking  6,313 meters daily under the hot sun while playing in challenging and sloping fairways.  Of course this was one golf trip I was not going to miss!

So seven of us from the Forest Hills ladies team packed our bags and flew down to Cagayan de Oro to compete. For 3 grueling days we would wake up at 4:30 am and drive roughly 10 kilometers of semi rough road or about 1 1/2 hours from our hotel in the city to Bukidnon where Del Monte Golf Club was. After about 5 or so hours of competition and walking the entire 18 holes, it was another long drive back.  Thank god for caddies. 

There are many things you experience and quite a few lessons to learn in a  golf trip such as this. The TOP TEN on my list include:

  1. Nothing beats a great foot massage after a round of tournament golf.  Especially when it costs only Php 150.00 (less than $3 USD!)  It’s even more enjoyable when your teammate smuggles in a bottle of red wine and shares it  with you during the massage.
  1. A good nights sleep is priceless.  The quality of rest before a big match can never be underestimated.  If you wake up at 4:30 am everyday while competing it takes its toll unless you get to bed early every night. Awards night not included.
  2. A roommate you are at home with.  There’s nothing like rooming in with a girlfriend.  It’s even more enjoyable when she let’s you sleep in a few more minutes in the morning by taking the first slot in the bathroom.  It’s a bonus when she doesn’t even snore!
  3. Eat Right.  This will keep your energy up throughout the competition.  This starts with a good breakfast and proper snacking throughout the game. More importantly, find the best local restaurant in the city and feast on great seafood.

 Panagatan seafood restaurant in Cagayan de Oro

5. It’s not all golf.  Take time out to see the sights and play tourist. 
    Del Monte Pineapples everywhere!

  1. Be considerate and share.  Even when that Durian fruit that you have been lusting for is right in front of you and you want it all to your self, share it with others. 
  Durian, the king of fruits!

  1. Laughter – Sure be serious and focused while competing but don’t forget that when things don’t go your way,  there’s nothing like a good laugh.

8. Don't be too hard on yourself.  A glass of red wine with the juicy Del Monte roast beef sandwich at the golf club is allowed even when you don't score too well.

 9. Enjoy the golf course. That's why you are there right?
  Par 3 - Warren's hole

    10.  Nothing beats a golf trip with 7 female golfaholics. There’s just nothing like it.

     So yeah, you learn a lot from a golf trip such as this. You learn about your emotional self too. You find out that you need to keep your spirits high even when you aren’t playing your best.  You learn that playing in a team where everyone cheers you on when you need it most is more important than winning.  You discover that while winning isn’t everything, it feels darn good when you do. 

    Forest Hills Ladies – Champion, Pearl Division

    You learn that a golf trip with girl friends is not only therapeutic, it’s downright fun!

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    I am grounded… from golf!

    My physiotherapist says I am grounded from golf.  Yes, NO GOLF until my pain subsides and the medications kick in.  “Grounded????  Can’t I just stand in the corner for a few hours as my punishment and still play golf tomorrow?” I asked my doctor with my “pretty please pleading look”.  Unfortunately none of my charms worked.  “Well, if you continue to ignore my professional advice then you deserve all the pain you are feeling” was all he said.

    It started with a feeling of numbness on my middle finger, which I had ignored for the last two years.  Then a creeping pain appeared on my neck and shoulder area. At first the pain was easy to dismiss.  Nothing a good massage at the spa couldn’t take away.  But my neck and shoulder perpetually felt like there was a 20 pound bowling ball resting on it. This prompted my visit to the radiology department at the hospital for an MRI scan of my neck and cervical spine.  Results showed that I had a posterior disc bulge with moderate right facet joint hypertrophy that was producing neural foraminal narrowing and possibly contacting a nerve root.  What the  f***zz???  Translation: countless sessions of physiotherapy that included transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), an Ultrasound that gave me some kind of deep heating at the tender area around my neck and shoulder and 20-minute neck traction. These sessions also included a neck and shoulder massage. These all helped ease my pain although I did feel I was getting away with murder because the “massages” were being covered by my health insurance.

    On top of all these therapy sessions I was given a cocktail of “nerve medications” and a dose of vitamin B which all added to my increase of appetite, water retention, hyperactive oil glands and drowsiness.  “Hmmph, is this all worth it so I can play GOLF?” I thought.  And of course the answer was a resounding YES!

    In between all the physiotherapy sessions and drug abuse, I was still playing golf regularly including taking part in our Team Forest Hills WGAP (Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines) tournaments where I participated in two legs.  I also managed to squeeze in a Business World - Raul Locsin cup tournament and an invitation to the SAP World Tour President’s Cup Philippines.  

    So did I fell better?  Did my pain go away?  Did I heal faster????  Can you guess???  Not only did the pain not go away.  It got worse!  And I had no one else to blame but myself.

    So it was back to the hospital for me and this time for a Trigger point injection (TPI).  This is a procedure used to treat painful areas of muscle that contain trigger points, or knots of muscle that form and hurt when muscles do not relax. My doctor inserted a small needle into my trigger point that contained a local anesthetic with a little steroid. This injection is supposed to alleviate my pain and reduce the inflammation.

    It’s been three days since my trigger point injection and I am feeling some muscle soreness and pain.  I further tortured myself by going to my local golf club Eastridge not to play but to watch the men’s federation (Eastridge versus Orchard with Eastridge sweeping the home games!).  I never thought it could hurt so much to be at a golf course and just watch others play. Not fair!

    So I am grounded.  No GOLF.  It’s the weekend and I am grounded!

    As my dear golfing girlfriend Bernie would say, “My body is present…. But my mind has teed off!”


    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    If your ball lands in the Indian burial ground, it's a free drop!

    “Hi! Welcome to Indian Wells!  Is it your first time here?” The starter says with a big grin. He rattles off a couple of reminders before he sends us on our way to hole number 1 of its Celebrity course.  “Don’t forget to hydrate.  It can get pretty hot out there.  There are no cart path restrictions.  One more thing, if your ball lands in the Indian burial grounds, it’s a free drop……”
    As soon as I heard that, I knew I was going to enjoy playing the course. The good news was that the temperature had gone down some.  So 109 degrees was a little cooler from 113 F earlier that morning. It was the first time for me and “the men in my golf life” to play Indian Wells and we were quite excited to see if we could conquer her.

    Indian Wells is located in the center of Coachella Valley and just 20 minutes east of Palm Springs. The two-hour drive from Los Angeles was so worth it. The mountain views were scenic. The fairways were lush and the greens immaculate.
    It was hard for me to concentrate between taking pictures and playing the course. The landscaping was just gorgeous. Every hole looked like a postcard. Because there were no houses surrounding the golf resort, there were no distractions. The course had a tranquil look and feel.  Like you had entered a “golf” sanctuary. The best part was the playability of the course. The orientation of its multiple tee boxes was challenging enough for the single handicapper and manageable for the novice golfer as well. Indian Wells was recently ranked the only 36-hole public golf facility in Golfweek’s  2010 “Top 20 Best Places You Can Play” in California. And I so totally agree!

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Neither thunder nor lightning can stop my golf game except....

    I used to say only thunder and lightning could stop my golf game. I was wrong. Hailstones would. In Manila where playing in 98 degrees humid weather was normal, I was so looking forward to a much cooler game in Northern California. 

    Our hosts Rey and John arranged our 2 flights to tee off at Rancho Solano in Fairfield.  I was excited as the last time i played Rancho Solano was two years ago where we played 36 holes straight.

    It was cool but sunny. After a couple of holes I noticed that the clouds started to show a dark “greenish” color. Apparently typical of hail clouds... 

    It started out lightly much like a soft drizzle. Then it started to get stronger. Little balls, like irregular lumps of ice clumped together raining over us. Falling faster and larger in size until they started to hurt.

    John was gung ho and still tried to putt....

    .....  but realized it was going to be useless.

    And thats when I realized it was time quit. Only hailstones can stop me from playing.

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    The men in my golf life....

    I am blessed. I have reason to celebrate! The most important men in my life have started to play golf ….. 

    The best part is that they both just recently graduated! Christian my first born son from the University of California Berkeley 2010. Gabby, my youngest boy, from the Ateneo de Manila University grade school. What Joy! Now that school is out there will be much time for golfing with my two sons....

    Life is good.
                 Gabby and Christian, the men in my life.....

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    In golf, men and women are equal......

    I was playing golf with my fraternity brother Joseph Pangilinan when out of the blue he said ….“ The rules of golf imply that after the drive, men and women are all equal”. The assumption here was that the ladies tees were way forward and therefore women could outdrive the men easily. But by the second shot, the men would be able to “equalize” the ladies tee advantage and the playing field would even out. I often play with guys who comment that the ladies red tees are just too far ahead over the men's regular blue tees. I am not too sure if the guys say this as a “preamble” so they can get a better deal on the bets we make.... ("Hey, let's play even... No more "plus" ok? You are hitting from the red tees anyway..."!!!!)     I must agree though that there are some holes where the ladies tees would be advantageous enough that some guys land their drives not too far from our tee off area... "Hey dude, it's ok... at least it went past the ladies tees!" (snicker, snicker......)
    So anyway I did some research on typical yardages for both men and women. According to Brent Kelley who writes for Golf guide, the yardages in the chart below covers the typical average male and female amateur. It represents a large range from the short hitters, mid range all the way to the long hitters. But not to worry if you don't fall in any of the numbers below  (you can always change sport...maybe badminton???) There will always be those who hit it much longer and those who just hit it shorter.  And for those who hit it shorter, it shouldn't be such a big deal.  It doesn't necessarily follow that if you hit it longer, you score better.  Or that if you hit longer, that you hit it straight. Right?
    Club                Men                        Women

    Driver           200-230-260         150-175-200
    3-wood         180-215-235         125-150-180
    5-wood         170-195-210         105-135-170
    2-iron           170-195-210         105-135-170
    3-iron           160-180-200         100-125-160
    4-iron           150-170-185          90-120-150
    5-iron           140-160-170          80-110-140
    6-iron           130-150-160          70-100-130
    7-iron           120-140-150           65 -90-120
    8-iron           110-140-150           60 -80-110
    9-iron             95-115-120           55-70-95
    PW                 80-105-120           50-60-80
    SW                 60- 80-100            40-50-60

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Hold that finish!

                  “Hold that finish!” Coach Noel would often tell our regular Saturday foursome which would normally include his wife Matec and a couple of us Forest Hills golf ladies .

                  I would silently tell myself “But the ball is already gone!!!! Why do I need to hold my finish???” Thing is, Noel is not just a great golfer but also a serious photographer who usually takes his camera during our round. Being the “camera shy” ladies that we are (ok, ok, we all rush to strike a pose whenever anyone brings out a camera....)

                    That's why it became my habit to “hold the finish” all the time. You know, just in case someone takes our picture..... This habit also works well during golf tournaments when photographers are busy taking souvenir shots. Hey, it doesn't matter that your ball went straight to the flower bed on the right... as long as you held that finish, your swing in the photo looked great!

             Once you get the habit of holding your finish after your swing, you will notice that your balance becomes better and you start feeling that your rhythm and timing is just right. Isn't that what teaching golf professionals tell us we need to do so that we can easily bring the club back squarely into impact anyway?
    So go on and hold your finish. You will never know just who might be taking your picture....

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    I am going to miss Lorena Ochoa...

    My jaw dropped whenI read the news about Lorena Ochoa's retirement. “But why?????” Was all I could think of. Ochoa was my idol and I enjoyed watching all her tournaments.

    For the past couple of years I would follow Lorena Ochoa's flight at the Longs Drugs Challenge at the  Blackhawk Country Club in Danville, California. 

    It was just awesome to watch her play. Lorena's head tilt away from the target on the downswing and the way she bounces the shaft off her back as she finishes her swing is a trademark I took pleasure in watching. 

    While most of us “normal” women golfers average 180 yard drives, Lorena made 290 yard drives powered by her hips and legs look so effortless.

    Lorena retires as world number one with twenty seven LPGA career victories including two major championships at only 28 years old. Truly an amazing player. She will be missed.

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    I played my very first Pro-Am!

    I was so excited when I got an invitation to play in the Pro-Am tournament of the prestigious Mercedes Benz Masters Philippines 2010 at the Legends Course of the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club. This year's Mercedes-Benz tour would have a total prize money of $580,000.00  covering 10 tournaments.  Our Philippine favorite Angelo Que together with other admired players included Juvic Pagunsan, Artemio Murakami, Mars Pucay among others. 
    I knew it was going to be a treat to be able to play with one of the regions's best pros! I had no idea who we were going to be paired with and to my delight it turned out to be Namchok Tantipokhakul of Thailand and winner of last year’s Mercedes-Benz Tour Order of Merit title. I was impressed and at the same time a little more nervous than usual to be playing in his flight. Namchok was a favorite last year when he finished number one with earnings of $27,540 from eight events of the tournament. With the little English he spoke and the handful of Thai words I knew which was limited to my favorite Thai foods and "thank you" (Tom Yum, Pad Thai and Khaawp khoon khrap) I managed to find out he was only 22 years old and had been in the Philippines several times over the years competing.

    As last year's winner of the Order of Merit title, Namchok would be automatically included in the  Barclays Singapore Open later this year. This tournament carries a US$ 5 million prize money with players coming from the European and Asian tour.
    The Pro-Am had several fun holes including the "Hole-In-One" challenge prize of a "30 day loaner" Mercedes-Benz E-Class E 300. Ok, you can't keep it forever.... but at least you get to drive in style for a month in a Mercedes Benz! 

    It was a fun filled tournament even if our flight didn't win. The top prize went to our very own Angelo Que and the Southwoods team. I was only too happy to have been able to play my very first Pro-Am!