Dual Golf Club Heads to Market

Knockin’ Down Flags golf club company made history today with the introduction of the first double blade golf club- the Dual. “The idea is that, if you miss the ball with the first blade, the second blade will make contact- it’s a first,” crowed Director of Product Development Jimbo Kent as he demonstrated the product to retail buyers today at the World Golf Expo show in Dubai. “The Dual will revolutionize the game”.

“We were inspired by the multiple blades in an average everyday razor. We feel like our dual-blade club will help the average golfer, beginning golfers and inebriated golfers,” Mr. Kent said.

Duck Soup at Balboa Golf Course

Ducks at Balboa Golf Course

We had two weeks of steady rain in Los Angeles. I’ve lived here since 1991 and I can’t remember more than two days of rain in a row!

Of course, a steady shower didn’t keep me off the golf course. These ducks liked their new home at Balboa Golf Course in Encino. This pond on the 7th hole near the 8th fairway was not there before the rains.

Partly Cloudy

I decided to go golfing. I looked out the window-it was overcast and gray. Better check the Yahoo weather page. The Yahoo weather page has weather outlooks, satellite views, radar scans, precipitation measurements, pollen counts, travel planners, everything- a weather junkie’s dream. "Partly cloudy", it said. "No rain today." I grabbed my clubs and headed for Griffith Park. Driving alongside the course, I could see golfers on the second and third holes. I love it when you can see the course from the road. It adds to the anticipation. "Today is the day!", I said to myself. "Today is the day I avenge the previous 7,000 rounds. Today I will shoot a good score!"

On the second hole, it started to drizzle off and on. It rains so rarely in LA, I don’t even have a golf umbrella. I have a small collapsible black umbrella- a premium for subscribing to the LA Times. I unzipped the zipper on the side of my bag and took it out. I pushed the button on the side and it popped open. It was about the size of the umbrellas they put in the Mai Tais at Trader Vic’s- it barely kept the rain off my head.

By the third hole the random drizzle became a steady drizzle. "This is temporary," I said to my foursome. "It’s not supposed to rain today. I checked it on Yahoo."

Waiting on the fourth tee, a Japanese woman in the foursome in front of us called it a day. She took out her cell phone and called the clubhouse to get a ride back to her car. One of the city workers arrived in a battered green pick-up with the city seal on the door. He loaded her clubs in the bed as she climbed in the passenger seat.

"Anybody else?", he asked. There were two foursomes waiting. Everybody shook their heads. Since city courses don’t allow refunds, everybody decided to stick it out a little further.

By the fifth hole, it was pouring. The wind blew hard and cold. All three people in my foursome must have called in because a ranger came out in a four seat golf cart. They got in, holding their clubs between their legs. Somehow the ranger was able to keep a cigarette going. He looked at me through the smoke and rain. "What about you? Had enough?"

Enough? It’s only the fifth hole. I said, "It’ll clear up. I checked it on Yahoo." He looked at me like the metal plate in my head was showing. Black clouds loomed over the Hollywood Hills. Water dripped off the end of my golf cap onto my shoes.

The eleventh hole is a par three. The green was under 4 inches of water. My tee shot plopped beneath the surface on the far edge of the green. I found it and hit it as hard as I could. It moved slowly under the water stopping slightly short of the hole- about 40 feet or so.

On the fourteenth hole, a raging creek roared along the fairway back toward the clubhouse. Two kids were riding the current, sitting on their golf bags, using their pitching wedges as paddles. I waved. "It will stop soon", I yelled. "I checked it on Yahoo!" I had heard stories about the crazy hermit that lives on the course. The kids thought they had found him.

The fifteenth hole didn’t have a water hazard until today. A huge pond had formed on the right side of the green. I saw a family of ducks wearing rubber boots and yellow slickers huddled together on a dirt mound in the middle of the water. The mother sheltered them with an collapsible umbrella that said "LA Times" on the side.

The entire eighteenth fairway was under 3 feet of water. I had to stand on top of a bench in order to hit a tee shot. Climbing on my golf bag like the two kids, I held two fairway woods together with the club heads at opposite ends. With this homemade kayak paddle I made my way out to the ball. I could see it on the ground, a crab nibbling on the Titleist logo. I slid off the golf bag and took a wild swing. The ball jumped out of the water and flew about twenty feet. I repeated that until I got to the green. A new course record- 1256.

I dripped into the clubhouse, my Foot-Joys making a "squish, squish, squish" noise. The pro didn’t look up but said, "You coming back tomorrow?"

"Of course. It’s going to be sunny all day. I checked it on Yahoo."



(C) Copyright 2000 Joe Ditzel

Circle The Carts! Thar’s a Crazy Man in Them Thar Hills!

The ball rolled three-quarters around the edge of the hole and lipped out. It came to rest two feet way from the cup.

“It could be worse,” I said, smiling, leaning on my putter.

Kevin glared at me. “And how could it be worse?” Oops. I forgot my rule. When a golfer is melting down, leave him alone.

He holed out, walked back to the cart, banged his putter into the bag and then slammed the gas pedal, the wheels sliding on loose rocks before they found traction and the cart surged forward.

The whole day had gone bad for him. Kevin was falling in to the abyss. I’ve seen it before and it is a scary sight. Sometimes a golfer is playing so bad he can’t figure a way out. Everything he tries goes wrong. He tries to slow down his swing but hits shots fat. He puts away the driver and uses his 3-wood but still drives it in the woods. He leaves 20-foot putts 10 feet short. It’s like Madonna’s film career. Every choice he makes ends up wrong.

But it is much more than just playing badly. Heck, I do that most of the time. It is the slow breakdown. At first, they are calm. But as the round wears on and their play continues to deteriorate, so does their mental fitness.

Madness slowly sets in. They fall into their own personal hell. You want to help. In the past I’ve said things like, “I’m no pro, but it looks to me like you are looking up.” Either I would get a dirty look or a terse, “Gee, thanks!” I’ve learned over the years to just stay out of their way. There is nothing you can do.

Except watch.

Watch their total psychological meltdown.

We went to the next hole, a par 3 with a pond fronting the green. Kevin stomped up to the tee and stuck a ball in the ground. He sets up low behind the ball, like David Duval. He swings incredibly fast. The ball jumped off the clubface and shot toward the pin. It was right on line.

Suddenly, the branches of the surrounding trees started to rustle as a cool breeze kicked up in our face. The ball stalled in mid-air, felt the full effect of the wind and dropped in the water.

“$%##@##@@@*%&,” Kevin yelled. He dropped another ball on the ground and swung at it without teeing it up. He hit it fat and the ball bounced once in front of the pond and jumped in.

“*$%!%#&*#$#^&,’ he screamed. He stormed over to the cart, undid the strap and yanked the bag off the back and carried it over to the tee box.

“Hey, Kevin,” Roberto said, glancing at the foursome behind us.

“What are you doing? We gotta keep moving.”

“I WILL get over the water!” he yelled. He unzipped the pocket, and turned the bag upside down. Thirty balls poured on the grass. He raked one over. Whack! It shanked into the trees. He dragged another one over. Whack! It hit the cart path and flew into some long strawgrass.

He let out a long scream. It started low, from the depths of his tortured soul, then got louder and louder.

“Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” He thrashed at the remaining balls. He didn’t tee them or try to hit them individually- just swung wildly at groups of balls. They sprayed everywhere.

We ducked behind the carts. With all the balls gone he stomped around and his eye settled on the tee markers, two blue hard plastic balls. He smashed his iron into the one nearest him. It broke into a thousand pieces.

He walked over to the other one and smashed it, too. The club-head broke through the top but the marker didn’t break apart. He lifted the club up and the marker stayed stuck on the end. Shaking the club violently, he attempted to dislodge it. It stuck like glue.

He swung the club over his head and behind his back like he was throwing an axe at a Lumberjack Festival.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” he screamed again as he launched the club at the golf cart. CLANG! It hit the steering wheel and skidded down the cart path. The marker shattered all over the concrete.

The rest of the foursome stayed crouched behind the carts. Looking at each other, we started laughing at the same time. I laughed so hard I had to sit on the grass on the other side of the cart path. My head banged into the post of the ball washer.

Kevin grabbed his bag and threw it on the seat bench. With his right hand he held the bag as he again slammed the gas pedal and the cart lurched forward. He quickly stomped on the brakes as he reached down to grab his club lying on the cart path. He took both hands off the steering wheel, slipped the club into the bag and drove toward the green.

“Hey!” I yelled.

He slammed the brakes again, jumped out, took my bag off the back, threw it on the ground, jumped back in and sped off. He drove past the green, the next tee and the next hole. In the distance I could see him throwing his bags in the trunk of his car and slamming the lid shut. His meltdown was complete.

He’ll be back tomorrow.


Hit Yourself Hard in the Head – Why Is Golf Instruction So Confusing?

Golf is a difficult game to master. Fortunately, all golf instruction is consistent so you can easily learn the skills you need.


What I meant to say was, there is so much conflicting advice and different ways to do things I don’t know who to trust. One instructor told me, "You should hit a fade." Another said, "You need to learn to draw the ball." Huh?
I consulted my library of 40,000 golf books. It didn’t help:

"You’ll never play good golf if you don’t hit the ball hard."
Tom Watson – Getting Back to Basics

"Appreciate the sensation of swinging the clubhead through the ball as opposed to hitting at it."
David Leadbetter – Faults and Fixes

"The pursuit of power is one of the most dangerous things in golf."
Jim Flick – On Golf

"Trigger your downswing by rolling your left ankle toward the target."
Golf Magazine – Private Lessons

"Initiate the downswing by shifting the hips toward the target."
Golf Magazine – Private Lessons

"The downswing begins by turning your left shoulder down and to the left."
Corey Pavin – Shotmaking


"Load up the power in your backswing. Now is the time to coil your upper body as much as possible."
Ernie Els – How to Build A Classic Golf Swing

"Never swing the club past the horizontal position at the top of your backswing."
David Leadbetter – Faults and Fixes

"As long as the left side is in control, you can get away with dipping below parallel. Ben Hogan did in the early part of his career."
Tom Watson – Getting Back to Basics

Ball Position
"Some great golf minds like Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan advocate one standard ball position, just inside or opposite the left heel."
Tom Watson – Getting Back to Basics

"The driver and a teed-up 3-wood are the only clubs you want to play off your left heel."
Harvey Penick – Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book

"Many players associate a wide stance with greater stability and power. That’s a mistake."
David Leadbetter – Faults and Fixes

"Use a wide stance. The best drivers played from a wide base."
Jim McLean – The Eight Step Swing

Head Position
"If you’re trying to keep your head down during the swing, you may want to re-think that advice after looking at David’s impact position. He looks past the ball and more down the target line through the hitting area."
Mike McGetrick analyzing David Duval – PGATour.com

"’Head Down’ is one of golf’s oldest mandates and it still makes good sense for the majority."
John Jacobs – Practical Golf

"You only have to look at the wide variety of putting styles on Tour to realise that there are no set rules when it comes to putting. Jack Nicklaus, for example, crouches low over the ball with an open stance, while Greg Norman stands very upright and closed. Fred Couples putts with his left hand below right on the club, Ben Crenshaw grips the club conventionally right hand below left, while Bernhard Langer separates his hands on the grip completely. Mike Hulbert, an American player on the USPGA Tour, even putts one-handed!"
Tony Johnstowne – Master Your Short Game

It is all crystal clear once you see it on paper.




The Long Ball

I am an average golfer. In fact, the average men’s handicap is 16. So is mine. Nothing stands out about my game. But, for an old guy, I can smash the ball.

Unfortunately, I haven’t hit a fairway since 1968.

I’ve hit everything else:

  • buildings- houses, condos, churches, clubhouses, mini-malls, concession stands; vehicles- cars, trucks, semi-trucks, golf carts, bicyclists, delivery vans, lawn-mowers, rowboats, powerboats, sailboats.
  • stationary objects- ball washers, benches, power-lines, fences, telephone poles, traffic signs, buoys, billboards; people- joggers, kids, caddies, family members, other golfers, course marshals.
  • water- swimming pools, lakes, rivers, streams, washes, runoffs, creeks, marshes, ponds, big puddles, oceans.
  • vegetation- trees, bushes, hedges, reeds, ivy, long grass, hay, corn fields, bean fields, kikuya, clovers.
  • and the saddest of all- animals- I’ve hit dogs, cats, crows, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, seagulls, ducks, geese, swans, snipes, roadrunners, deer, crocodiles, snakes, gophers, squirrels, chickens, pigs, and , of course, cows- lots and lots of cows.

I hit a lot of cars in parking lots. So many that I can actually tell what kind of car I’ve hit by the sound it makes. BANG! "That’s a 1995 black Nissan Maxima with the sport package and dealer installed LoJack." BONK! "Blue 1997 Chrysler Mini Van with the entire Phantom Menace character set spilled all over the floor in the back." BING! "1984 red Corvette owned by a guy with lifts in his shoes."

I yell FORE a lot. I have my own delivery. I used to just yell loud and long: FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRREEEE!

But I noticed people are so used to the word, they don’t even duck and cover. So now I follow the long FOOOOORRRREEEE! with a repetitive FORE! FORE! FORE! FORE! What this communicates is "I’m not kidding, Lumpy! I smashed it and it is coming right into you! Better hold up your golf umbrella like a shield!"

I’ve had to learn to yell FORE in different languages. In France I played a course just north of Cannes. I bashed a ball into the wrong fairway. I yelled "QQQQUUUAAATTREEE! QUATRE! QUATRE! QUATRE!" This isn’t the right word. "Quatre" means "four". It didn’t seem to matter. French people started running around like the German army was on the move. I apologized to them as best I could but I don’t think it helped. I could hear one of them talking about starting the "La Resistance" again.

Last year in Palm Springs I hit a drive into a swimming pool. The next day I hit a ball into the very same pool. I saw both of them at the bottom. It was 125 degrees outside. The water looked inviting. No one is around in Palm Springs in August. It was likely the owners were in Canada or back East. I jumped in and grabbed the golf balls. As I climbed out, I looked up to see the owner in the window. He wasn’t smiling. I walked back to my cart and drove off. It was so hot my clothes were dry in 38 seconds.

In 1994 I played a round with my brother at his country club in Houston. One of my drives on the back nine took off at 3000 miles an hour. You could hear the ball yell, "Yeeeeeooooowwwww!" It rocketed exactly six feet off the ground like a stealth bomber flying under radar. First it went straight down the middle of the fairway. At 200 yards it took a hard left turn and headed toward a house. I could feel my brother thinking, "Oh, no! My dumb brother is going to smash one of my neighbors windows. I’m sorry, Fred. Joe was never right. I didn’t even want to bring him golfing. Too dangerous. But he’s kind of lonely. Desperate and dateless. I mean, he seems to get dates. Well, first dates. Second dates seem to be less common for him. Sorry Fred. It won’t happen, again." The ball smacked into one of the columns fronting the porch and shot across the fairway and settled in a ditch.

One time I was playing at a resort course in Palm Desert and it started to rain. I was soaking wet. That didn’t stop me from swinging as hard as possible. I made a huge swing on the fifth tee and the ball went dead right. The club flew left like a machete slicing the air. It flew up and over a condo. Clang! It bounced on the roof. The sliding door to a condo flew open. "I saw the whole thing", an old man laughed. "Wow! That was something. Wait a minute." He appeared up on the roof and threw down my beloved Ti-2. "Wow!", he repeated, "That was something."

Jim Murray, the late, great sportswriter for the LA Times, once described Arnold Palmer as having a swing that looked like a drunk on a driving range at midnight. My swing looks like a drunk getting electric shock treatments at a driving range at midnight. I do take the club back relatively slow. Then I lash at the ball like it insulted my mother. Last year at Rancho Park I swung so hard I drove my driver into the ground and the ball popped up and went BEHIND me. Not only didn’t I make it to the ladies tee, I didn’t make it to my own tee.

My golf pro says I shouldn’t worry about power- that I have enough power already. That what I need is control. Wrong. There is never enough power. That’s half the fun of golf. The big ball. It doesn’t matter where it goes. Just so it goes FAR.

I’m never on the fairway. Ever. I see the fairway from the tee. And then I can see it again looking back from the green. I don’t wear golf shoes. I wear hiking boots. My golf bag is equipped for deep woods expeditions. I have a compass, maps, a machete, an ax, rope, sleeping bags, matches, a Coleman Stove, and a golf hat with a light on the front like a miner. When I play desert courses I bring a camel.

I have found some interesting things in the deep woods. In Orange County I found several fossil sites now being excavated by University of California paleontologists. In Ohio I discovered an Indian tribe in the Hocking Hills that had never been seen by man. In Texas I came into a clearing to find my ball had hit an old oil derrick. The impact made it crank up for the first time in 100 years. When I got there the oil was shooting 100 feet in the air.

There are benefits. I took my girlfriend to Palm Springs last week. She knows absolutely nothing about golf. After watching me for three or four holes she said matter-of-factly, "You hit it far."

Then she said, "It doesn’t go very straight."

Smash It

I’ve been playing golf since I was three feet tall
Just a wedge and a putter I loved it all
Mama’s come to get me it’s time to go
I’ll be back tomorrow you just know

And still after all these years,
I can’t pitch, I can’t chip, I can’t putt at all
I only do one thing well
I smash the ball

Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it

You hit it far, I’ll hit it farther than you
It’ll make you mad, oh you know it’s true
Don’t cry in your beer because your ball’s so near
And we could build a mall between our balls

You see, God gave me a gift
Said, Joe, let it rip
So I tee it high
And I let it fly
I can’t play at all
But I can smash the ball

Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it

You’ll have the low score
Beat me by 10 or more
Tell everyone you know
That guy can drive for show but can’t putt for dough

But as you lay awake staring at the ceiling
You can’t shake those envious feelings
How does that guy get so much carry?
And eat up yards like Sanders Barry
I can tell you I don’t know at all
I just smash the ball

When you’re old and gray
You’ll think back to that sunny day
You watched my ball fly so high
And land so far you had to sigh

You’ll tell your buddies the whole story
The tall tale of long drive glory
You’ll tell them that poor guy couldn’t play at all
But he sure could smash the ball

Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it
Smash it

© 1999 Joe Ditzel and Ditzelize Music

Baseball vs. Hockey

I love this time of year because hockey and baseball are running at the same time. Any hockey fans here? Baseball?

Yeah, the difference between the two sports became real clear to me when I flipped back and forth between them on the radio in the car one day.

First I heard a baseball game.

“Standing on the mound…shakes off the sign… Shakes off the sign… shakes off the sign………… shakes up the sign. Settles in now, winds up and lets it go. Ball. 2 and 1 the count.”

Then I flipped over to the hockey game. “Here come the Canadiens! Out from behind their own goal, advancing into the neutral zone. Rink wide pass to the right wing. He crosses the blue line and LETS A SHOT fly, missing left and the puck flies into the corner.”

“Beautiful night for baseball… We’ve got some swirling winds out there tonight…those breezes have been playin…hav…with some of the long fly balls here in the early going.”

I just kept flipping back and forth between the two sports stations. “They are in the corner, scraping and scrapping for the puck. It squirts out in front to the center, he lets a shot go.

“Oh! He hit the goal post! He picks up his own rebound spins around to his backhand and lets another shot go – he hit the other goalpost! Wait a minute! The puck bounced right back on his stick! He lets a third shot go! Oh, my! He hit the crossbar!”

Back to baseball. “Folks! Don’t forget that next Thursday night is naked grandparents tonight here at the stadium. Bring your grandparents completely naked, and the whole family gets in free!”

Over to hockey. “There is pandemonium in front of the net. The big defenseman is clearing out the crease. The center was denied three times and he’s still in there fighting for the puck. Now the two of them are starting to shove. We could have a little scrap here.

“And there go the gloves. The defenseman has the center in a headlock! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! It does not look good for this center right now. Wait a minute! The center has wrenched his head free. He’s reaching into his hockey pants! He’s pulling something out. It’s a gun! He’s got a gun! Unbelievable hockey action!

“Wait a minute! The defenseman has climbed over the glass and aboard the Zamboni! He has mounted a World War II anti-artillery gun on the Zamboni! He’s driving the Zamboni on the ice and and firing rounds at the same time! What action here tonight!


Screen Damage

As soon as the ball left the tee, I knew I had sliced it hard. It skyrocketed over three sand-traps and headed for a row of homes. I yelled “FORE!” out of habit even though no one seemed to be around- there never is in Palm Springs in August.

The ball smacked into a screen covering a window. It hit so hard the screen jumped off the window onto the grass like it was just electrocuted.

Suddenly an older couple appeared on the patio. They did not look happy.

“If that is as good as you can hit a golf ball, it’s back to the driving range for you,” the man yelled as I pulled up in a cart.

I apologized and asked if everyone was OK. The only injury was the poor screen. It lay on the ground like it had been shot. I didn’t see any holes. I must have hit the frame.

“It’s a good thing you stopped. We were going to call the clubhouse if you didn’t stop. This is not a good thing,” he harangued.

Yeah, it is a tragedy. That screen doesn’t look like it will make it. Better call the paramedics: “Engine 51, this is Rampart General. We have a window screen with a frame injury on the fourteenth hole at Heritage Highlands. Administer WD-40, transport as soon as possible.”

I held the screen from outside while he secured the pins inside that hold it to the window frame. He started out mad and got worse. I didn’t expect him to ask me if I wanted a beer out of the fridge. But, wait. He bought a house ON A GOLF COURSE. It might be hit with a golf ball or several dozen.

It reminds me of knuckleheads that build homes on a flood plain. The area floods every other summer. They act surprised when they are hanging out on the roof and their car is floating down Main Street.

“Well, we got a good deal on the place. The real estate agent said we may experience a little moisture. We didn’t expect to be rescued from the roof by a helicopter and sleep at the Y for two months.”

It may be that the guy that owned the house I hit didn’t even know it was on a golf course. Maybe the agent told him that all those people hitting white balls and digging up dirt behind his house were federal workers testing soil conditions.

To make sure he wasn’t on a flood plain.