THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF MONEY TO SPEND ON LESSONS
Via a review of Charles Wheelan's book "Naked Statistics" in the New York Times Science section comes this handy little chart about golf lessons and scores.
Okay, to be fair, the NY Times review states Whelan uses this chart of "a hypothetical data set to explain non-linear relationships and reverse causality." I still like to believe there is a little truth in it. This may be a case in which the statistical monetary value of golf lessons matches the content of lesson. Surely we can imagine a pro telling you that you can cure that block-slice with non-linear relationships and reverse causality. Couldn't you see Roy McAvoy trying to slip that kind of language in to impress Dr. Molly Griswald.
A slight aside but I just realized Costner and Russo were each essentially reprising more likeable characters they played previously in two separate and better baseball movies, Crash in Bull Durham and Lynn in Major League. It further begs the question: when someone will make the great golf movie?
As for budgeting lessons, keep in mind Whelan was referring to a hypothetical data set. It doesn't necessarily mean there is any proof that if you spend $250 per month on lessons you will be close to a scratch golfer. Most scratch golfers I know don't pay too much for lessons anymore. I bought the book and will get back to you.
BARKLEY FORECASTS PHOENIX OPEN
It would be nice to see some Tour professionals so comfortable in front of the camera. Charles Barkley has had plenty of experience and now makes it look easy. It is clear how comfortable he is in his own skin. He was the best of the subjects in the mostly difficult-to-watch seasons of the Haney Project on the Golf Channel.
Here, Barkley gives the forecast for this weekend's Phoenix Open [skip to 1:20 mark]. It is remarkable to see how much Barkley has managed as a non-professional golfer to insert himself into the marketing of the golf world (see his recent CDW television ads airing on golf programs). It appears Michael Phelps is trying himself to get into the golf world. He may not quite have the presence and personality of the former Round Mound of Rebound.
It doesn't get better than a 6'6" 250 pound former-NBA MVP complaining that he had to "cover up all his plants." Now, it doesn't seem like Sir Charles is a horticulturist - but maybe there is something to great athletes and gardening.
All this said, how hard could it be to do the weather in Phoenix? Take a look at what's expected in February [right].
Umm, it doesn't take Al Roker to provide this forecast every day. Even Shaq or Manute Bol (while softspoken, Bol is of course the subject of possibly the greatest professional sports promotional/fan tribute song of all time) could probably mumble their way through a Phoenix weather report.
Aside from his horrible swing, Barkley should also be remembered in golf when he said at the peak of Tiger's and Eminem's powers, "You know it's going to hell when the best rapper out there is white and the best golfer is black."
VIJAY AND DEER ANTLERS
As reported in an article by Sports Illustrated (for its Feb 4, 2013 issue), Vijay Singh appears to admit to using deer antler spray that contains a known banned substance called Insulin Growth Factor (IGF-1). According to the seller of the product, IGF-1 is a byproduct of using Human Growth Hormone (HGH). IGF-1 and the spray is a banned substance in Olympic and most professional sports including PGA Tour Golf.
Singh in the article is quotes as using it "every couple of hours . . . every day." Oops. That can't be good for the Tour's PED PR.
Now, it should be noted that the piece also says there are only trace amounts of IGF-1 in the deer antler spray and there is no real proof on how effective it is. The article does paint the guys selling this stuff as mostly hucksters making a quick buck.
But Simone ... it is very interesting Singh is the one using this (update 1:00PM Singh has released a statment today denying knowing it contained PEDs). Recall he is one of the most successful players after the age 40 and was known for being the hardest working player out there - practicing untold and unmatched hours on the range. The common misconception is that performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are there to build muscle and are for speed and strength only. PEDs are just as important (maybe more important) to help an athlete recover from strenuous workouts faster than normally possible. PEDs allow an athlete to train more than an athlete not taking PEDs. In golf, the ability to practice additional hours without your body breaking down would be an enormous advantage.
There is certainly no evidence to date that Singh used PEDs other than as reported in this SI story, but it is certainly worth investigating all golfers in the period before 2008. TheTeeSheet has previously and strongly suspected PEDs were used in golf.
More on this to come.