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Tech Tuesday: iPhone Apps for a Non-App-Junkie

October 18, 2011

Happy Tech Tuesday! With the idea suggested to me by @spydieshooter on Twitter, I have listed my favorite Apps below.  I am not an App junkie; these are the barebones that make it back every time I have to restore or get a new phone (sometimes I drop mine… a lot).  I find these very user-friendly and useful.  I use each of them very frequently. Let me know which other ones you find particularly entertaining or useful too.
*Note: These do not include the standard Apps that come on the iPhone like Weather, Mail,  iTunes, Notes, Maps, etc.

1. TWC The Weather Channel
I’m a golf pro. That basically means part-time meteorologist.  This one is free and has decent live radar.

2.  V1 Golf and iSwing (Swing Analysis)
Swing Analyiss.  V1 I like for the Pro Models.  iSwing I find easier to import, email & trim videos.

3.  Twitter
Duh.  When I don’t answer my phone, my friends Tweet me.  They’re so smart =)

4.  WordPress
Blogger’s delight.

5.  Pandora
For when you don’t have a CD player or XM in your car.

6.  Google (including inside apps) and with a quick bookmark to Live Golfstat Scoring
Fun to keep tabs on collegiate players, the alma mater, etc.  Sometimes, it’s also fun to scroll the globe.

7. PGA Tour and LPGA
Who’s leading?

8.  Evernote
I recently downloaded this.  It’s like a walking, digital sticky-note of ideas, pictures, or random thoughts to remember that syncs between your computer, Twitter, and phone.  I know.  And Houdini is not required during set-up.

9.  AimPoint (Green-Reading System – Mobile)
Mobile Chart, instructional videos, and tips. #makeeverything

10.  HeyTell
For the hands-free text or hilarious situation that the plain text message simply won’t capture with full justice.

Leave a comment and let me know the ones I am missing out on!  If you find this information useful, please feel free to share it using the social media buttons below.  Have a great day.

10 Things I Learned: Caddie Experience at LPGA Stage 2 Q-School

October 4, 2011

Day 4. 7 am.

I recently had the opportunity to caddy for a previous college teammate during the LPGA Stage 2 Qualifying School.  It was a great week watching her play amongst a very high level of competition. Below is a list of things I learned and observed throughout the week.  I sometimes tend to state what may seem obvious to many but new to me, so forgive me as I’m often a late bloomer in that regard.  Let me know if you agree and what your thoughts are too. Perhaps some items will be useful to you whether you are looking to do this at some point, compete in tournaments of various levels, or simply relish the opportunity to practice or play once in a blue moon.  (Note for astronomy nerds:  the next blue moon is scheduled to take place in August of 2012)

1. The field is comprised of the best players nationally and worldwide that you have not seen on T.V. yet, and a few of those that you have seen as well.  There were a handful of Big Break names.  Ciao, Hola, Bonjour, 여보세요, Hej, Konnichiwa, Hello.

2. Everybody has sacrificed to live their dream and has worked extremely hard.  There is of course a range of talents within the stage. There are so many levels of “good” but to get to this stage they all already have a very high level of talent.  There is no doubt in my mind that every contestant had the talent to birdie any of the 36 holes they faced during the week.

3. Therefore although it is important, the biggest question is not really one of talent.  From my observation the major difference between those who make it and those who do not at this level is their trust of talent.

4. Those who endure the best through 4 days of tournament play have an unwavering belief in themselves and their golf game at all times, no matter what the situation.  The player I caddied for hit 3 tee shots out-of-bounds on par 5’s during the week and still managed to bogey those holes.  Those would have been birdies on the second ball.  She did not reach any par 5 in two. That’s an example of unwavering belief.

5. Everybody’s great shots are great. The best players are those whose bad shots are still pretty good.  Shot shape control is a must.  Small shot dispersion and a repeatable consistent shot shape are ideal.  There are good bounces and bad bounces, should haves and could haves, but the good news is the number you shoot is what you shoot and nobody can take that away.

6. What you see during the round does not include finding hotel reservations, flight planning, rental car pickups, packing, unpacking, packing, unloading, loading, packing rain soaked gear, unpacking rain soaked gear, driving 500 miles, living in and out of a car, the challenging phone calls home, the good phone calls home, finding golf course snacks elsewhere because the local supermarket ran out of bananas due to a spike in demand the week of the tournament, and all of the details that go into preparing to play one’s best when it is time to step onto the first tee.  Many are used to these procedures through their college team golf days but now must carry them out on their own.

7. I overheard numerous times that the results from the week determine a lot of the upcoming year’s possibilities.  The pressure a player puts on herself is real.  At the same time, during the actual round it is the player’s choice really as to how significant, acknowledged, daunting or invigorating she allows it to be. In my opinion, the format of the tournament does not add to the pressure; nobody announces your name on the tee, 99% of the few spectators are family members, and rules officials only stop by to check pace of play or when applicable.  Also I must add that although it is a very important week, I consistently saw players treating other contestants, officials, and volunteers with kindness and respect.

8. The players who do the best are those who continue to do exactly what they did to get them to this level.  The distance may be longer than what they are accustomed to in other tournament settings (6300-6500+ yds) but feeling the need to drastically change or add or force something else during the week just because they have arrived at this setting is not necessary or beneficial.

9. There is no difference in score between hitting 18 greens in regulation and 2-putting vs. missing 18 greens in regulation and getting up and down.  The ability to make putts is critical.  This past year I attended an AimPoint clinic hosted by Ronnie Martin and instructed by John Graham.  I caddied last year without knowing AimPoint and can certainly say it reduced putt-reading headaches and made giving reads ten times easier while caddying this year.  This year the player averaged 29 putts during the 4 rounds, down from an average of about 32 putts per round.

10. I give so much credit to every contestant. 99% of the field are professionals.  It is their profession.  For most, that means warming up under a spotlight before 7am, playing the round, and closing down the putting green at dark.  Like anything, if you do not love it, it’s work.  But for those who do love it, it’s their pursuit of a dream –  no matter how far they make it, that’s a wonderful thing.

Thanks for stopping by today, let me know what your thoughts and experiences regarding this are as well.  If you find this information useful, please feel free to share it with your friends using the social media buttons below.

Study: When Do Birdies Occur?

September 28, 2011

Beginning in September, I set out to do a small study notating when birdies were the most likely to occur in a round.  My idea for this project started because I had noticed (or thought I did) throughout the years when looking through tournament scorecards (pro, college, club, etc.) a trend that birdies occurred more frequently when adjacent (either before or after) to a bogey or worse.  With this in mind, I set out to do some record keeping to see if this trend held true.  As it tends to happen, the project did not turn out exactly as I expected but I did note some items that may be of interest.

From my observation, I was hoping to find a distinct statistic that birdies were more likely to occur when adjacent to a bogey or worse.  What I found was that birdies obviously occurred the most frequently adjacent to pars.  Of course this makes sense to me now, as par is the expected score for any hole.  Therefore, especially on the professional tours, birdies were most common adjacent to pars, and second most common adjacent to fellow birdies.  However, I did notice while looking through college and other amateur tournament scorecards (where birdies are overall less frequent than on professional circuits) that birdies were more likely to occur adjacent to bogeys or worse than on the professional circuits.  I saw numerous scorecards where the lone birdie occurred after a double or triple bogey.  Likewise, I saw numerous scorecards where the lone double or triple bogey occurred after a birdie.

A computer program with a lot more speed and statistics knowledge than I would be better suited to conduct this type of study.  There are so many different combinations that could be looked at; handicap vs. birdie percentage, birdies before bogeys or worse, birdies after bogeys or worse, the list can go on.

If I could summarize from my time restricted amateur study, I would say this:

1. Overall, birdies are most likely to occur adjacent to pars (at the level of tournament play in which I studied).  Admittedly somewhat obvious now.

2. The scorecards on professional circuits had more birdies and less bogies (or higher) overall than college and club scorecards.  Again, perhaps this is elementary, as they are professionals who make their living playing at the highest level.

3. Therefore, on professional circuits birdies are most likely to occur after pars and second most likely to occur after fellow birdies.

4. As handicaps increase, birdies are less frequent and the pattern of birdies occurring adjacent to bogeys or higher increases.

Why is this? In my opinion, this relates to the mental game and the mindset change amateurs experience, both after having a birdie or high score.  These themes indicate that if professional scorecards do not follow the pattern as much as amateurs then their mindset is not changed as much by a particularly lower or higher score on a certain hole.

Let’s take the complete average golfer for an example.  Let’s say he or she is steadily going along playing his or her routine game and then has a birdie.  He or she may become quite excited about it and try extra hard to do something out of their normal realm to keep their good round going.  This would be the example of when that triple bogey then occurs as the golfer tries to force a birdie and ends up miss hitting a shot or two, leading to a difficult hole.

Let’s take the typical competitive collegiate golfer for an example.  Let’s say this golfer is steadily going along playing his or her routine game and then encounters a sporadic 9 on a hole.  He or she may become frustrated and disappointed initially, realize the impact of scoring a 9, but then realistically let go of some pressure to feasibly shoot a very low round, therefore actually freeing him or her up to focus without that distracting pressure and allow them to play their highly skilled game.  Boom.  Birdie on the next hole.

In both cases, a mental change has taken place.   It was particularly interesting to see these scorecards where there was only one birdie, yet it was after or before a bogey or worse.   This to me is a direct relation to the mental approach taken on the hole.  It is funny how we do not always have this approach, but it can happen or be spurred to happen on the course.

We can also take a lesson from the professionals.  There have been studies done that indicate professional golfers have much less emotion change and significantly fewer overall thoughts during their rounds than the average amateur.  A good challenge would be to stay within a more even keel when playing.  Without emotions pushing too far in either direction, there is room for true golf games to shine though.

Look for this trend of when birdies occur when you are watching golf or checking leaderboard scores. Let me know what you think.  Have you seen this happen as well or in your own game?  Why do you think this is so or not so?

Thank you for stopping by today.  It’s great to have you here.

If you find this information useful, please feel free to share it using the social media buttons below.

Topic Request: How to String Two Good Rounds Together

September 21, 2011

I recently received a message from a college golfer attending my alma mater, Methodist University.  I always appreciate when people read these posts and openly welcome any topics you all may have in mind – so thank you!

The player wrote:  I was wondering if you could write on mental games and how to keep your game going after a good round.  I seem to have lots and lots of trouble putting back to back good rounds together.

I am not a mental game specialist by any means, but I do have real life experiences.  To be perfectly honest, I was a bit of a “rockin’ rollercoaster” for some time in college tournaments.  Some nines were great, some were not, some rounds were great, some were not, some tournaments were great, and some were not.  However, through that I gained personal experience with this topic of the mental game and stringing rounds together.  In addition, I have since gained a bit of perspective which hopefully will be useful.

I believe the purpose of the mental game is to create and express clarity.

In order to do this, it is helpful to rid ourselves of preconceived pressures by reframing a situation.  From my experience, that is what the mental game is about; reframing a fearful situation into a neutrally calm situation.  I know a lot of tournament formats are two or three rounds but let’s reframe the situation. For instance, who decided that it was the most important to string rounds in general together? What if the dividing factor was a golf hole?  In that case after the first good round you would have already strung together 18 “whatevers”.  What if the dividing factor was a swing or stroke?  In that case after the first good round you would have already strung together around 72 or so of those “whatevers”.  What if the dividing factor was a single step en route to our next shot?  In this case we would put together miles and miles of steps and tie together thousands of “whatevers!”  Stringing two things together seems quite doable after realizing we put a lot more than two “whatevers” together all the time!

Point being, whatever it is you want to string together may very well be important for providing satisfactory and relevant results, however; this is all in regards to our perspective. If we can play one good hole, we can play one good round, so what in the world is the difference between doing it once and doing it twice?  Our mindset.

A practical application of this would be something some of us did on the Methodist University team while I was there.  We divided up rounds or 36 hole days into holes of 3.  We set individual goals for every 3 holes.  This breaks up the supposed “round” and creates fresh mindsets every 3 holes.  Although it is commonly acknowledged that a round is 18 holes and two rounds are 36 holes why can’t our goals be shorter or longer?  What if we make it our goal to par or birdie each individual hole?  Or, what if we make it our project to count up all of our pars and birdies at the end of an entire year?  Well, cool, now we are not restricting and pressuring ourselves into a two round or tournament format limitation.

Of course it is important to produce results when the results are needed.  Thinking more long or short term (see what works best for you) can help take off the pressure of performing and obtaining a certain amount of “whatevers.”

Everybody has different ways of allowing clarity to exist.  In my opinion, it starts by being comfortable with who we are and enjoying our pursuit of golf as a process.  To compliment this we can create long and short term goals to use as games during tournament situations.

I would like to end with one of my favorite quotes of all time from the book Zen Golf by Dr. Joseph Parent.  It is in reference as to how to make a flower blossom:

Nothing external makes [the flower] blossom – it is its nature to grow and unfold.  It will do so beautifully given the right nurturing conditions.  A flower doesn’t need to try to blossom.”  It goes on to relate that idea to ourselves as people; “Our nature is basic goodness, which includes the capacity for awareness and the impetus to learn and grow.  Therefore, like a flower, we don’t need to force ourselves to change or try extra hard to learn and grow.  It is our nature to do so.  All we need to do is give ourselves the right conditions.”

As golfers, we do not have to force two good rounds to come together.  Instead, we create a process that allows the two (or even two thousand!) good rounds to simply unfold.

Enjoy =)

I look forward to hearing about how you all do!

Thanks for stopping by today.  If you feel this information is useful, please feel free to share it using social media platforms.

#GolfProMigration Tips 1-10 (via @Sara_PGA on Twitter)

September 14, 2011

This post is for those of you who will at some time be making the trip south for the winter.  I took some notes after carefully studying how birds migrate.  I then, through matrix overlay and analysis procedures, translated those tips into ones applicaple for golf pros.  Below, find #GolfProMigration Tips 1-10.  All tips conform into a 140 character Tweet.  Just in case.

#GolfProMigration Tip 1:  Plan route.  Strategically.  Visit friends, family, colleagues.  Consider telling them you are coming beforehand.

#GolfProMigration Tip 2:  Carefully pack loose alignment sticks.  If in a loaded position that suddenly unloads: fiberglass splinters #ugh

#GolfProMigration Tip 3:  An E-Z Pass does not work in the Midwest.  Neither does an I-Pass work in Florida. Maybe someday.  #tolltickets

#GolfProMigration Tip 4:  An impact bag filled takes up a lot of space.  An impact bag emptied of towels does not.  #trunkspacesaver

#GolfProMigration Tip 5: Do not overpack. Of course, if you don’t bring that 2nd umbrella, the 1st one will break.  Peak-season.  Downpour.  #catch22

#GolfProMigration Tip 6: Be aware of loose golf balls in trunk or side door pockets.  No, there are no gun shots.  Just sharp turning. #boom

#GolfProMigration Tip 7: Hard to believe when driving from the northern tundra but the sun in FL is 7 billion times as strong #lotsasunscreen

#GolfProMigration Tip 8: I recommend naming your GPS system.  It’s nice to personally thank it after each successful turn.  #WhyThankYouFlo

#GolfProMigration Tip 9: Avoid shorts on first day of the move south. Screams snowbird. Golf pros make birdies. Not snowbird-ies. #jeanstime

#GolfProMigration Tip 10: By all means sing & air band it. Passerbys may smile. Or point and laugh. #carband #serenitynow

If you find these #GolfProMigration tips helpful, consider sharing them using the social media icons below.

Have a great day.  And if you’re migrating this season, a great trip too.

10 Things I Learned: Summertime in CHI

September 8, 2011

10 Things I Learned: Summertime in CHI

Labor Day is said to mark the unofficial end of summer. It also marks when the early flock of migrating golf pros get ready to make the move back south. While getting ready to head back south, here are some reflections from the 3 ½ summer months I spent living and working near Chicago.

1. No matter how hot and humid it is when leaving Florida to go up north for the “summer” season, never ever forget that the tundra is still thawing out up north. Consider bringing more than 2 sweaters.

2. A flashlight ‘maybe somewhere’ in your car is useful. A flashlight that ‘definitely is’ in your room is more useful when the power goes out for 4 days. (Note for iPhone users: found the Flashlight app. It looks like it rocks. But works only if you have the iPhone4.)

3. The golf ball starts to wiggle on average 6 inches before it stops. However, the hole in essence gets smaller the quicker the ball is moving. Therefore the optimal distance a ball travels past the hole if it does not go in would be 6-12 inches.

4. There is a piece of the moon in downtown Chicago. Really. Along with a piece of the Great Wall of China.

5. Almost everything (wind direction, travel directions, where Juggling Clubs meet, etc.) is referenced by the Lake. My second season up here I finally realized the Lake is east of me. It helped. Tremendously.

6. The longest golf ball hitter in the world’s back leg straightens during his backswing. Not entirely, but it straightens. Same with a lot of good ball strikers, regardless of what you may have heard about maintaining back knee flex on the backswing.

7. The direction that grain grows is not influenced alone by water, a lunar eclipse or a mountain somewhere in the vicinity.

8. Wrigley Field is awesome. I wish Ferris Bueller was there when I was too. But it’s still awesome.

9. Advice from a senior on the high school team I helped coach to freshmen: “Don’t try too hard to look good on the first day of school. Or straighten your hair every day. People will look at you and point and say ‘…freshman…’” (I’ll miss the team and getting these pieces of advice)

10. Wherever the location, the people make a place. Thank you to all of my friends, co-workers, members, and families away from home up here.

What’s something interesting you learned this summer? Feel free to comment and share this using the social media icons below. Thank you for stopping by to read this today. It’s great to have you here.

From Trash to Cash

September 2, 2011

  

It is really quite amazing the way life works out sometimes.  For the past two years since being out of college I have truly enjoyed working at golf courses, teaching golf, coaching golf, and learning as much as I could about those topics.  I’m very grateful to experience such a joy and to call it ‘work.’  Interestingly, within the past few weeks this feeling kept occuring that was telling me to look for ways to not just learn about and help peoples’ golf swings but to also learn more about and help something bigger in world.

Like many experiences in my life, I have come to believe things do happen for a reason – and a good reason at that.  Just two of the many instances of this would be when I hurt my knee at the end of high school and got rejected from my ‘dream’ college after getting unofficial indications of being accepted.  These turned into the biggest blessings in disguise as I followed my heart to pursue college golf (after being injured college basketball was a bit more improbable) and golf management at Methodist University.  I look back and am so glad it unfolded as it did. 

Now currently, just when I was struggling with how I could possibly act on this feeling of helping a bigger part of the world, I learned about project From Trash to Cash.  This certainly feels like a step in the right direction. 

I’d like to tell you about a team that I have joined called 50.4.Haiti.  My friend and old college classmate Jeff Pelletier is a Program Manager at the non-profit organization Executives Without Borders. They have launched a new program, From Trash to Cash, in Haiti that creates sustainable jobs and businesses around plastic recycling.  I am excited to give back and join Jeff and 48 others in a grassroots fundraising campaign to support From Trash to Cash!

In the wake of the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti Executives Without Borders identified a major problem. The canals are clogged with plastic. As heavy rains pour into clogged canals, bacteria and cholera infected water pours out. With their corporate partners, they established a framework to create local franchises across the country that create jobs collecting, crushing and transporting plastic to a Haitian owned and operated recycling business in Port-au Prince.

From Trash to Cash will create thousands of well paying, sustainable jobs, help the environment and reduce the spread of disease. We can once again reveal Haiti’s beauty and make it an attractive place for foreign investment and tourism.  

I wanted to share with you about this topic and invite you to help Haiti move forward. 

For a full overview of From Trash to Cash click here.  

To view Executives Without Borders video “Haiti-What is Needed Now” see below.

To view Jeff’s video that shows Haiti’s canals during a rainstorm see below.

My personal fundraising goal is $250.  I would really appreciate any contribution that you would be able to make. All contributions go to Executives Without Borders, a registered 501 (c)(3)  non-profit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible and will support Executives Without Borders work in Haiti.

 Ways to Contribute:

1.  Contribute online to my personal fundraising page. Please follow this link to my page http://www.crowdrise.com/saradickson  or my specific project page here and click the big orange “Donate” buttons to help Haiti today!

2. You can also contribute by writing a check that will help move Haiti forward! Please make checks payable to Executives Without Borders. Please send all checks to: Executives Without Borders, 21 Joseph Street, North Dartmouth, MA 02747.

I thank you for your time in learning about this project.  Just as being a team member on From Trash to Cash fell into place when I was searching for a way to help something bigger in the world, perhaps it will fit in with something you have been hoping to do as well.  Thank you so much in advance for all your support!

Have a great day,
Sara