Saturday, December 15, 2007

One Break Will Not a Career Make

I've recieved some amazing words of encouragement from some great friends in the past few days about moving forward. What happend to me on the second hole in the second round of final stage was extreamly unfortunate and possibly unfair, but as one bit of encouragement went, " really bad break will not define a career. It all balances itself out in the end." So now I need to move forward with the knowledge that I am getting better and have improved my game and golf career since I have been in Asia. I just found out that I actually will be exempted into a few Asian Tour events this year based on my performance in stage 1. Maybe a 'lucky' break combine with some great play will have me winning one of those events.

It's time to get back on the horse and find a new road.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Last round of Final Stage

A ball which is hit in "abnormal ground" (ground under repair, deemed by an outline, or casual water) in the USGA rulebook, through the green (Normal grass playing areas) and lost can be dropped and played without penalty if it is certain the ball landed in the 'abnormal ground' area. USGA Rule 25.1.c.

I'm sure the universe tested many dreamers' faith today, but it still doesnt seem fair. On the second hole of the day, a par 5, I hit a perfect drive and followed it up with a good looking approach shot that soared towards the left side of the green and landed a few yards off, into a large, safe, rough area. The course was extreamly wet at 7:20 or so when I hit the shot and this shot did what every shot all day did, the ball embedded into the ground. There were two spotters next to the green who saw the shot bury into the ground, as well as my playing partner, who was already closer to the green after having layed up his second shot and walking ahead.

We searched for that buried ball that everyone had seen come down three yards off the side of the green, 30 feet from the hole, for five minutes to no avail. Thinking that because the golf course was so wet and everyone saw the ball come down and bury into the ground in the same place, I might be able to drop in that place without penalty, I played two balls (an option that you have in golf when you are unsure what a ruling would be), one ball at the location of my buried second shot, and in the unfortunate case that a rules official would deem that ball "lost," I went back to the origin of the shot (250 yards away) to replay another with a penalty stroke incured.

The ball I played from the buried location, I chipped up to one foot from the hole. To give you the abridged version, two rules officials came and told me that although my ball was seen by two spotters who were within 15 yards of the ball when it landed and saw it embed in the ground and my playing partner, our caddies and I had seen the shot land in the same location within a few paces of the side of the green in an extreamly soft area, the ball was deemed 'lost' and I had to take the penalty.

I protested nicely at first. That cordiality gradually transformed into rage as the old rules official seemed to take delight in delivering his ruling. I proceeded to make a double bogey after the penalty, which essentially costed me three strokes. We found four other balls in the small area while searching for mine. We had to step on all of them to find them because they were so deep in the ground. The ground was not 'normal golfing ground,' which should make it 'abnormal,' therefore I should get a free drop. The rules officials on site didnt see it my way. They said it wasnt marked as 'ground under repair' prior to the event and everyone had to play it that way. Not everyone had a 7:00 am tee time though when already wet, soft ground was more so that way.

Tonight I sit here after a journey filled with an eclectic group of experiances ranging from seeing some of the most brilliant scenary in the world and winning a tournament, to losing over 20 pounds in a week and having one of the highest fever I've ever experianced. Yes, I could have putted better, avoided a few mistakes, played in the moment more effectively and even with the penalty, I could have qualified. I didnt play even close to the standard I set for myself last week. Therefore, this is not an excuse, just an extreamly unfortunate situation that makes me cringe because after everything plays itself out, I will miss the two round cut by one shot and not have the chance to return to that standard.

I will wake up, maybe tomorrow, maybe in a few days and come to the realization that nothing worth attaining is ever easy. To achieve a worthwhile dream takes overcomming mental, physical, emotional and spiritual challenge, time and time again. But tonight, that Titleist 3 nose-diving deep into the wet earth, only steps from success, will be the thought I need to put to sleep.

Thank you for all the support over the last two weeks,
Better days are on the universe's horizon, they have to be.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Round 1, Final Stage

The big headline on today's Asian Tour website doesnt include Mark Baldwin. It is a picture of Jean Van De Velde with the title, "Van De Velde gears up for Asian Tour Qualifying." Suprisingly, they mention his 'near win' at the 1999 British Open. Poor guy can't ever escape one bad hole.

Today was one bad round for me. But I will be able to escape it with a repeat performance of last week's third round, tomorrow. After 12 holes that included me playing down the wrong holes, hitting shots out from behind trees and missing short putts, I found myself at +4. I birdied 13, 14 and 15 to make a little charge which was deflated by a 3 putt bogey on 17. I finished at +2, 74.

The field will be cut in half tomorrow, meaning, I am in dire need of an impressive round come morning. One great round tomorrow is all it takes to put me back on Tour Card Road. I play at 7 am on Sabah CC, the more difficult of the two courses. Shooting a low score on the difficult course simply means potential to move farther up the leaderboard. I'll test how much leaderboard potential lies in a low round tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Final Stage Game Plan

The Finals are here. Starting tomorrow, I will play for one of 40 asian tour cards against 190 other players from around the world. The competitors consist of '07 Asian Tour players finishing between 60 and 120 on the money list, European Tour players, the top 10 players on the South African Sunshine Tour, the 10-top ranked players on the Canadian Tour and Japanese Tours and 40 first stage qualifiers, including me. A strong field.

The two tournament venues are Sabah GCC and Sutera Harbour CC. Sabah GCC is a narrow and water-logged course that utilizes cow grass on its fairways and rough area (meaning: all areas are rough areas). Fortunately, the course I practiced at in Kuala Lumpur for two weeks prior to comming to Borneo had the same grass and similar conditions.

Sutera Harbour is a well-maintained, resort course with lots of water and firm, undulating, grainy greens. It is like playing a typical florida course where everything is in front of you. There are no suprises. The grass is bermuda, making it more similar to a florida course. This course is set along the ocean and has some beautiful views. The grain of the grass on the greens makes putting challenging with all the added slope.

The venues are very different from the course I won first stage qualifying on. Borneo CC was a long course with soft, flatter greens. The wind gusts were strong off the ocean and could make a very long hole, very short or vice-versa. Although one of the venues is on the ocean here, the locals call this place "the land below the wind."

My focus this week will be on getting the ball in the fairway in wedge range. My wedge play is stronger than ever and I have lots of confidence that if you put a wedge in my hands, I'll show you where the hole is. The next order of business is putting. With all the slopes and grain this week, a great ball striker could get shut out if he is not placing the ball under the hole. This week, the difference between birdies and bogies could very well be hitting the ball 15 feet under the hole as opposed to above it.

What worked for me in stage one was my ability to relax in the heat of battle. When I was faced with my most challenging shots last week, I was at my calmest. This emotional stability led me to gain strokes on the field because I hit great shots where a more nervous competitor made a tenative and costly swing. I also played in the moment last week, paying little attention to score and position. I didnt know where I stood until I found out I was playing in the final group on the last day. When I made a ten foot, par saving putt on my 72nd hole, I had no idea it was for the medalist position. I didnt pay attention to leaderboards, only to individual bests. I tried to shoot the best score I could. I was only playing against myself. There was a tournament, a competition, but in my mind, there was no cut and no first or second place, there was only me attempting to shoot the lowest score I could.

I'll adopt this mentality again this week and when my last shot is holed, I'll look up to the leaderboard to see my name.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Stage 1 Q-School Results

Tonight I am just too wiped out to go into much detail beyond saying that my scrambling ability allowed me to post a round of 68 today for a four round total of -16, 272 and first place position at the conclusion of Stage 1. Stage 2 starts this comming wednesday where I will battle for 1 of 40 tour cards that will be issued. has the final results of todays events in their fourth headline on the homepage.

132 players started at my stage on wednesday. The field was cut to 80 players after two rounds and 18 players advanced today to final stage.

I will write more tomorrow, thanks for all the support this week!!

Asian Tour Q-School Pics

New Pics from Borneo Golf and CC:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Round 3

Round 3: I hit 18 greens in regulation...maybe the first time I've done that ever in competition and posted -8, 64. My three round total is -12, 204 and although I havent paid any attention to standing this week, I would have to assume I have a great position heading into the final round. Tomorrow I have the luxury of spending the final round playing to be the medalist of the first stage instead of grinding away, worrying about what the cut number will be. I will keep on playing in the moment, like I've done all week and when the stage 1 is complete tomorrow, I will write a detailed account of the event and post new pictures. Thanks for sending the encouraging messages this week...whatever vibes everyone is sending is much appreciated and helping me shoot great scores.

PS~ I made my Asian TV debut today following my round...introduced the far east to the yankee cowboy.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Round 2

After a blustery afternoon on the oceanside links of Borneo GC, I posted a round 2 score of -1, 71. My two round total is -4, 140. The field is now cut in half and the final two rounds are approaching. I think I am somewhere around 10th place. I am trying to play in the moment this week and not get overly concerned with scores, both mine and my competitors, so I havent really checked my position.

My putter has been letting me down since the begining of the tourney but after some minor tweaks on the practice green this evening, I am confident that dynamic will change tomorrow.

I birdied the 16th by sticking an 8 iron to 3 feet and followed it up by narrowly missing a 20 foot eagle opportunity on 17 and taping in for birdie. The finishing hole had me in the short side bunker (a trecherous place) with a steep lip and the pin seemingly resting ontop of it. I hit the perfect sand shot that lipped out of the low side of the hole and came to rest a foot past the cup. Lots of good vibes heading into tomorrow's 3rd round. Stay tuned, great things to come.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

And their off...

I was able to get a day 1 7:30 tee time starting on the more difficult of the two nine hole sides which meant: the more challenging side's ground would be softer and I wouldn't have to contend with much wind. After my name was announced at 7:32, I hit my opening tee shot 315 down the left center of the fairway with a slight cut into the middle.

There is an art to the game in general, but the opening tee shot of a major competition adopts new meaning because it carries with it more emotion and adrenaline than a player will typically face all day. You've prepared for weeks, maybe months, rehearsed every shot over a thousand times. You've envisioned yourself playing this particular opening shot for the last few days yet, your hands still manage to shake a little; it becomes a test of faith. For some players, those little jitters and hand shakes translate into negative energy. For me, it is the highest form of being. It means you're alive, living in a defining moment and you are being tested. The prep work leading up to the event is monotonous, painful and can be boring. This moment makes it all worthwhile. It's like laying down your inner fortitude as the bet on the black jack table. It's about taking control of your life and then letting it go to regain control again. No matter what happens, this moment is nothing short of spectacularly revealing.

I was able to take advantage of the morning conditions and made the turn in three under par 33. I played well on the following side, but it failed to yeild as many birdies and donated a couple bogies to the cause. When the dust settled, I walked away from the course with a scorecard that read 69 and a belief that there are a lot more opportunities waiting for me to grasp hold of tomorrow. If I can manage to find and maintain a comfortable emotional state for round 2, the leaders of the tournament are going to find themselves getting passed like my ball over my competitors' on the tournament's opening tee shot.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Green light

It's tournament time! That is refreshing to say. The time before tournaments is almost too much to handle. It's like the drive to pickup your dream girl for your first date. There is all this emotion and excitment, pressure and anticipation building and waning inside in random bursts and it is your job to manage all of it; to pick up the blocks and put them where they fit.

When we finally arrived at the tourney site two days ago, there was no record of me having requested a hotel room and no rooms available in their 27 room chalet. The resort is an hour and a half from civilization and the nearest small town in over half an hour in the opposite direction...I opted for the small town and am now staying in a small motel in an extreamly remote Malaysian village. It consists of a few hotspots: a local grocery store, a chinese restuarant, a few indian restaurants and some small shops, one of which happens to be an internet reminds me of a small college. It has a bubble enviroment feel.

The golf course is very challenging. Three holes are on the ocean and use it as a hazard. The wind blows strongly off the ocean and onto the well-designed course. Nicklaus did a great job with this course...lots of decisions to be made. For examlple, the 13th is a 425 par 4 with a giant pond running down the center of the hole. You tee off on the right side of the pond and at some point have to make it to the left side. If you choose this route off the tee, you contend with a 250 carry over the pond, straight into the ocean breeze. If you play down the right and cross on shot 2, you're landing area is considerable narrower on shot 1 with water and OB in play. Then you have to cross the pond on shot 2 and play into a narrow green surrounded by water and bunkers, not to mention the ocean breeze that blows across your shot.

I mention this hole because it is here where I will pick up shots on the field: I can use my driving abilities to an advantage and cross on shot 1, leaving a shot wedge into the hole. There are more subtle choices all over the golf course.

Despite my weakened condition and dramatic weight loss, my preparation has been flawless and the results have dictated that. I had the two best practice rounds of my life in the last two days. Monday I hit the ball beautifully and found some shots I can rely on this week. Today, I made my final decisions as to aiming points, club selections, etc. and executed like a man on a mission. I know that if I can stay confident, faithful and relaxed in the heat of battle tomorrow, there is nothing that should impede me from making the goal of qualifying for the asian tour a reality.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Sorry for my lack of attention in the last week to my was an unfortunate matter of priorities. Long story synopsis is I contracted the southeast Asia hebbie jebbies and couldnt keep any food or water in my body for the entire week. That, combine with a high fever, didnt leave much energy for anything besides attempting to sleep.

Good news is I'm on the mend. Today was the first day out of bed and I made it out for a short practice session. I also got on the scale to find whatever was in my body, absconded with 20 pounds. I have a new 'trim' self. But hey, it's the Asian monk way..."when in Asia..."

Q-School starts this comming Wednesday and I am headed to the tourney site tomorrow. I'll get at least two good days of practice Monday and Tuesday and hopefully plenty of rest tomorrow so I can be ready for them.

As the comming week's days pass, I will keep the blog updated.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Official Word is...

I do some observing and analysis on this blog, but its main purpose is to keep my friends, family and supporters current on my weekly happenings in the golf world. The recent update from the Asian Tour is I will be playing in a field consisting of 156 players, divided on two courses, for spots equal to 15% of the field (somewhere around 11 spots). I will be competing at Borneo GC for my first stage.

The following week holds the second stage where there will be again a full field spread out over two courses for 40 tour cards. Out of the two 1st stage venues, Borneo is the more challenging; a Jack Nicklaus design that measures about 7300 yards from the back tees.

As fate would have it, playing a longer, more difficult course is an advantage for a player like me whose strength lies in driving and putting. That advantage combine with all the productive prep work I've been putting in on the practice area should be a large initial stride towards a successful result.

Stage 1 commences December 5 and I will be ready to start the first day of the rest of my life as a successful Asian Tour golfer.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Hole in One Card

Hung from endless walls lining the Keleb Golf Perkhidmatan Awam (golf club I practice at in KL) are plaques with names dating back to the begining of the club's history. They are the names of every golfer to get a hole in one at KGPA. After your name is mounted on one of the many plaques, you recieve a 'tour card.' A card that signifies you have made a hole in one in Malaysia and therefore, are entitled to discounts and complementary rounds throughout the country. At one country club I played at in Indonesia, a hole in one won you a free lifetime membership at that facuility.

I wish in this paragraph I was able to relay to you that my name now appears on one such wall. However, I am still holeless. If there ever was a place to run an ace scam, it would be in Asia. H-I-Os are reveared and celebrated on an entirely new level. At most courses I have been to, the managment could care less if you are a professional pursuing golf as a career. But, if you have hit a bladed short iron, that snuck up the ladies' aid, over the apron, down the slope, through the windmill and into the clown's mouth at some point in your life, you can get a cheaper rate to play golf.

When I meet someone new who has no golfing experiance, they ask two questions: how far do you hit the ball; and how many hole in ones do you have? Should they only ask me how many ones I've made, and I reply zero, it is naturally assumed that because the Questioner's Grandmother Lucille made a hole in one last week, I am not a very skilled player. These are the looks the Pro golfer gets in Asia after he shows up at a course's registration desk with no H-I-O card.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Perseptional Shifts

I woke up this morning and seriously contemplated calling in sick. I was just going to pick up the phone, use my direly ill voice to get me out of work and spend the day in bed. The plan sounded so appealing as I looked into the bathroom mirror after my morning pit stop. My body felt as if it had been beaten in my sleep and the culprit taped my eyes open while they slapped me around.

I've been in prep mode for the last week. It starts one month prior to competition--early wakeups, cardio workouts, practice and on course prep work before the day tapers down with a hard anaerobic workout and stretching. Then I move onto my golf psych mental preparation. It is a complete and hearty day, but on this particular morning, the previous day had left me feeling lame.

I sat plunked down on the couch and nestled into the cushions. The tv was turned onto the only english station my antenna picks up: strange online messages were flashing across the screen as American songs played in the background. If I took a sick day and spent the day resting I would be fresh for tomorrow I thought. "Tomorrow, yeah, I'll make it happen tomorrow. I'll be twice as productive."

It was almost 9am. I had overslept and already disrupted my daily prep routine. Even if I wanted to get everything started now, I would be working into the night before sleep and then my sleep cycle would be thrown off. I'd be twice as tired tomorrow if I decided to start my day now. I started to flip through dvds.

I looked across the room to my Asian Tour Q-School Prep Plan (I have a large white board where I write the next days schedule every night). I looked back to my dvds and began to wonder whether I should start my day off with The Weather Man, seeing how it was monsoon season? It seemed appropriote for a sick day.

Sometimes, inspiration comes from unlikely sources. When I saw Charles Howell III in Singapore, he had an entourage at lunch with him-- a group of people that likely included friends, coaches, maybe his agent-- his possie. These are the kind of people who are around for moral support, intellectual challenge and to inspire confidence. They are what Napolean Hill would call "The Mastermind Alliance (TMA)." My TMA consists of various people I know genuinely love me. This morning I only had one member of my TMA with me.

All 5'11'' of her stood over me as I justified to her why it was alright for me to spend the day on the couch watching Nick Cage and Michael Caine in The Weather Man. She is usually a person who supports the decisions I make without any quarrel. She responded with, "I'm sure that is what your opponents are doing. They are waiting until tomorrow to get ready to beat you. Today, they're all taking the day off and watching movies too." She walked away.

She cant understand I thought, aggrivated. I need my rest. My body is tired, it'll be ready to kick some ass tomorrow. I almost felt satistfied. I nearly convinced myself until I had a delayed reaction to her rationale. I invisioned an opponent, another pro. He was on the driving range, grinding away. Hitting ball after ball crisply today and he was thinking about beating me. Usually my inspiration comes from the idea of beating the golf course. Hitting it close to the hole, away from the challenges and adversity that the course has planned for the other golfers. Today, that image, that challenge, didn't appeal to my motivation. But this image was so powerful that it immedietly got me to my feet and out the door.

Inspiration comes in various ways, from different sources. Even the monotony of preparation or office work needs to be kept fresh. Sometimes all it takes it a slight tweak of perspective from an unlikely source to provide that reignition of passion.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

After I placed my clubs in the cab's trunk yesterday I looked up at the sky; behind the cab was partially cloudy with sun shinning through, the sky ahead ominous- black, as if night had set in. As I got in the car and drive towards the darkness the cabbie said, "I dont think you picked the right time to go golfing, my friend." "Haven't you heard, it never rains on a golf course. My dad swore by that law," I replied. He laughed, "...monsoon season here in Malaysia for the next few months. Be careful out there, the wind will take you with it!"

The storm couldn't have been more on cue. Following his forecast, the clouds decended upon the highways and opened up, revealing a wind that could have carried a golf ball farther than any shot in Malaysian golf history and a rain that could make a seeing-eye dog, blind. This storm would have made Santa turn his sliegh around and go weeping like a little school-girl, to Mrs. Clause. I needed a row boat to make it into my appartment later to mop up the floor...all part of the Asian experiance.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Indiana Jones and the Golf Course of Doom

Flat, duckbilled hat brims from 1987 strapped as tightly to the asian male golfers' heads as is possible without them blowing out an eye socket. A shirt and pair of shorts that look like more like old bathing suits than golf shorts. This ensamble combine with knee-high, white socks that fit into all black golf shoes. The only thing that was missing was a large camera strapped around their necks and mickey ears over their hats. I played golf with three players like this today. They looked like stereotypical, Disney-bound, asian tourists in America, only they were in their hometown in Asia. The best part about it was: they were making fun of me.

At a small, outdoor chinese restaurant, I sat in front a traditional asian breakfast consisting of everything but the socks I wore yesterday. It had pork, fish balls, shirmp, noodles and I dont even want to know the rest of the contents. As I fumbled around attempting to eat the gumbo with plastic chopsticks, I looked up to see my playing companions, having finished their bowls, enjoying the comedy hour of me lifting and dropping my slimmy noodles back into the soup. As they splashed in the soup, broth shot over the sides of the bowl spilling onto the table. I laughed along with them.

"You want to use fork?" They asked.

"I didn't come across the world to use american utensils thanks," I replied.

"Then, I think you go hungry today," Mr. Lo responded. He was right.

I had the last laugh though when their golf balls found the cobra pit on the par 5, seventeenth hole. My drive soared high and far over it. Yes, I said "cobra pit" and it isn't called that only because the hazard is in the shape of the deadly snake. Needless to say, players who go down looking for their balls get more than they bargained for.

The course should have been the setting for the upcomming Indiana Jones film. It winded through the mountains, carved out of the jungle. It was more like a cross-country, jungle trek than a golf course. You were afraid the next time you reached your hand down into the hole, you were going to pull out your arm without a hand attached to it.

The grass here is entirely different than America. Being on the equator and almost 100 degrees everyday, the course maintenance is extreamly difficult given many courses' lack of funding. Therefore, the public courses consist almost entirely of what we know as 'crab grass;' the kind you dont even want growing in your front lawn. When you can shoot 68 consistently on crab grass, you are ready for the tour. The toughest, nastiest grass on any side of the world, added to the challenge of the jungle adventure.

There is nothing like the feeling of home on the otherside of the world though. I am sure it was my playing companions goal today to show me a great day in southeast asia. After the round we celebrated the Indian New Year together. I sat in a room full of Malays, Chinese and Indians ringing in the new year. There were Buddhists, Hindis, Christians and Muslims all sharing laughs and stories in every different language they spoke. It was a beautiful, harmonious and comforting moment. All gathered around for the companionship and the drink. We ate the local food with our celebratory drinks and they saw to it that my meal was brought out with a fork so I wouldn't go hungry.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stuck in the middle with you

"We are all just kites floating in the wind." ~Shivas Irons, "Golf in the Kingdom," by Michael Murphy

A main differance between western and eastern philosophy lies in perspective of "the journeyman." Western philosophy sees the journey as taking you somewhere; a physical location that leads you to transcend your former reality. The American cowboy is a "floating kite." The high-school graduate heading to college fits this model.

Eastern philosophy (Chinese Tao, Hindi Upanishads, etc.) view "the journey" as knowledge attained from the inside moving outward. According to these philosophies, the ability to transcend does not come because you seek it out. It will not come from books you read, or lecture halls you sit in at University. The ultimate existence is innately connected to people. The unlocking of this potential starts not when you seek it out through outer forms of knowledge, but by searching your inner being.

Here I stand, somewhere in between. My path has led me to the other side of the world. But my transcendence comes from mastering my innermost fears and anxieties, while roaming through a zen state in nature. Or otherwise known as finding inner tranquility and happiness that yeilds low scores on the golf course.

So whether you play golf or not, the object of hitting the ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible is the most superficial and inadequete description of this game we all play.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Asian Tour Prep Work

Last week the Asian Tour announced it provisional schedule for the upcomming 2008 season. It offers 11 events wth US$1 million purses in addition to a greater number with purses between US$300k and US$1million. See this article if you're interested in where I will be spending '08 (I promised my mom I wouldn't play in the Pakistan Open, so that one's out):

I began training today for the qualifying tournament that begins in exactly 1 month. After a run, lower-body workout and flexability training, I began the epic search for a golf course to practice on. This crusade began in a slef-proclaimed, devoutly-religious, Muslim's taxi. After being dropped off at the base of a country club's driveway, which ascended at a 45 degree angle for what felt like miles, I made it to a course that I found out had been closed for renovations. This course was well outside civilization, where no taxi cabs ventured. I was stranded.

Before slinging my weapons over my shoulders and embarking on a pilgrammage down the mountain, I encountered a Chinese man with a relaxed and indifferant demeanor. After a few minutes of talking, the man offered to drive me to a nearby golf course. "It's lucky for you that you play golf. Otherwise you would be just another stranded tourist," he joked. Whether a dues-paying, member somewhere or not, regardless of what part of the world you are in, if you can speak that golf lingo, you're part of the club. It can be a very adventageous club to belong to.

Xiansheg Loh (Mr. Loh), the manager of a nearby furniture store, drove his new Toyota Camry north of the city. The buildings were disappearing from view, even the Petronas Towers, a marvelous sight from anywhere near the city, had vanashed from the horizon. Surrounding us were mountains, jungle and caves. We were at least 30 minutes outside the city. An unusually kind fellow member of World Golf Country Club and I, drove past monkeys headed towards another golf course. After a cell phone call, Xiansheg Loh had been told in Malay, that visitors were not allowed to play after 1:00pm.

As we discussed his golf game and Kuala Lumpur, the golf course was in sight. He finally asked me what I did for work after I had illuded to being in Malaysia for business about an hour earlier. When I told him I was a professional golfer from the United States, his excitment startled me. "I can't believe I have a pro in my car! That I am talking to a pro makes my day! Maybe you come play with my friends and I on thursday at my home club!..." He continued.

That was the begining of a day that followed with a golf course carved into the side of mountains and jungle. Monkeys came up to my "buggy," attempting to conspicuously steal a snack I was eating! The fog and clouds cut into the sides of the surrounding mountains creating thin, overhanging roofs. I hit a bunker shot where the ball used a sheer-rock cliff, as a picutesque backdrop. Those thin roofs began to open up. Sheets of water came crashing down on the lush jungle and the theiving monkeys. I welcomed the added challenge of the inclimate weather and finished my round with a majestic, towering 230 yard 4 iron. The ball landed softly next to the hole on the rain-soaked green. The rain and jungle-carved fairways didn't prove the true challenge of the afternoon.

The real test was the homeward-bound journey. But that's a story for a less occupied day.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Possibly the most poorly planned city on planet earth is Kuala Lumpur. It is spread out over a large radius with no true central city area. The roads are built in circles that take you everywhere but where you want to go. Some might think it could be the taxis attempting to get back at some bargaining strategy that I will delve into shortly. In actuality though, there was never a plan for the construction of the city and because of this, locations and roads are random and indirect. Thank the petrol companies for the Petronas Towers. It is worth comming and enduring the circular nature of the travel just to see the towers light up the night's sky.

Everyone has an angle here. They see tall, white-boy in his golf polo and they sharpen their talons. In the cheapest, shopping capital of the world you can purchase anything: films on dvd still in theatres, Tag Hauer "genuine replicas" for 30RM ($9), Gucci handbags for 50RM, the newsest pair of Nike shoes for 60RM, or should you be the wrong place, female companionship. Everything that can be bought can be bargained for. This extends to meals and beer.

Most taxis here wont run the meter for tourists. They give you a price, let's say 30RM, for a trip that costs no more than 6 or 7 RM. If you arent a stereotypical tourist, the interactions goes as follows: After the cabbie says 30, you laugh and close the passenger door. You continue laughing as you begin to walk down the road. They drive alongside you after rolling down the window. Providing they speak english, the cabbie will retort with "my friend, how much you pay?" You then ask them whether they dont charge their later passengers for the remainder of the night after you pay 30RM because for 30RM, you'd pay for everyone else's cab rides. Shake your head and smile when asking the question. They respond by repeating their previous question begining with, "my friend..." Then you tell them you're prepared to give them your business if they run the meter. Then follow that statement with another; maybe you'll consider giving them a tip despite them attempting to rip you off. That'll break down any formal, "hello how are you today, the weather is hot, hugh?..." small talk.

Once you get this system down, you've taken the first step in being able to handle public transportation in southeast asia.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cabbie World Perspective

Please Note: I do not in any way agree with this persective, I only offer it as standing out for an American tourist venturing through the world. It made for a slightly tense cab ride.

An Islamic cab driver yesterday told us the reason for the war in the middle east. The war in the middle-east the US has created, says the cabbie, is because the majoirty of our goverment is comprised of Jewish people. These Jews want to cleanse the world of the Islamic population by sending the Christians to fight them, thus leaving Judiasm as the most prevelent, and powerful religion in the world. It's all a religious conspiracy he added.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Way of the Peaceful Warriors

When you take action everyday towards fulfilling a dream and do not recieve the end desired result, you are being tested. Be it fate, Universe or God, you are asked to make a decision in these moments of challenge. I failed to qualify for the Singapore Open and 100% believed I would for two months prior to competing. My preparation for that event started the moment my application was sent in through envisioning myself as being successful. My mind was quiet and positive; my body light and strong; my stride was purposeful and relaxed.

This continual challenge then becomes about moving forward with the quiet and positive,light and strong, purposeful and relaxed and adding the missing component by forgetting about the missing component. A short term memory becomes essential for success. I am not determined or defined by one score in southeast asia. My successful self is created by the perpetual persuit of obtaining all that my heart deems pure and meaningful.

Yesterday, after arriving in Kuala Lumpur where I am living for the comming month, I was walking toward the Petronas Towers (the largest twin-tower in the world) and was stopped by two monks who bowed to me on the side of the street. Their demeanor was peaceful and silent and in doing so, communicated more than any words they could have spoken that I would understand. It was a respect for me and all whose paths they crossed.

This inner harmony that they expressed had a fearlessness to it. Although you would never characterize it as a mentality that would lead you into a battle because of its tranquility, it is that same tranquility that makes it so dangerous for someone opposing it. An ability to stand up to all that deviated from the course of righteousness. It is a paradox worth exploring. Hence what is occuring all over southeast asia, currently Myanmmar. The Buddhists face death and torture, but stand up for peace with an ironclad fearlessness.

Although my endevours are not even close to being on that lifethreatening stage, that inner harmony I have been experiancing here in practice, in competition and witnessing in those interaction with true warriors, is going to be of use in all situations. "The Way of the Peaceful Warior," the "Lion Pacafist."

I'm going to continue to listen to my heart and practice this peaceful fearlessness.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Response to Scott: Why do the greens look like sand in one of the posted pics?...Because the greens were actually made of sand!! Yeah, amazing hugh? It was like playing in the middle east! The rest of the course was grass except for the greens...Kidding, the reason was because they had just top dressed the greens on that golf course.
After a day spent trying to beat inclimate weather to get in a practice round, I shot +1 in the Singapore Open qualy missing the 4 spot qualy by 5 shots. The day was spent leaving putts around the edges of holes and not having the pleasure of watching any putts over six feet fall. I put the ball in many preferable scoring positions but never capitalized on any opportunities. I'm driving the ball well and hitting solid iron shots and with a little more time to acclimate to southeast Asia, the extreame heat, differance in golf course condition and culture shock, I will be fully prepared to qualify for the Asian Tour.

Monday, October 22, 2007

You cannot tee up your golf ball in Singapore for less than $150. Including taxi ride to and from the practice facility it becomes a very expensive proposition. After spending $50 to hit golf balls at a range today and then finding out I had to shell out $200 for a practice round before the Singapore Open qualifier, I made arrangements to travel for Batam, Indonesia by Ferry tomorrow morning. I will be there for two days of practice at a golf resort. For all the golf I want to play, plus a top notch resort room and transportation for two days it was less than $150. The experiance should top the red-light district hostle we have been bunking at for the last three nights where the minute you leave the place you get swarmed by escort girls looking for a few American bucks. I quickly realized why it was the only living accomodations in Singapore under $50.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Barracks and Buddhists

After 2 days, including losing 12 hours for the time change, we finally made it into Singapore. We made it to our hostile at around 1am this moning and found sleeping in a room with 30 other people to be a pungent and overly quafable experiance (It was like sleeping in a hockey lockerroom following a hard fought game). After staring at the ceiling for 5 hours I awoke and took my first walk around. Passing a Buddhist Temple a man signaled me. He asked if I was a free thinker and proceeded to offer the Buddha incensce prayers. I followed. "When in Singapore..." None of the 10 or so others there, paid attention to the tall, white boy who looked like a five year old at her dance recital and forgot her routine and had to mimic her dance partners'. Sitting on pillows with burning incensce, we offered prayers for our families in the beautiful temple surrounded by ancient decor. I found my first moment of peace in 12 hours. My mind went blank after I made my offering and I welcomed it. I could have fallen asleep peacefully right there. Unfortunately, they didnt offer a nightly rate so I'm stuck in the barracks for now, another character building experiance. I'll take it on with a half-smile.


As you awake this morning, I am sitting in Hong Kong airport waiting to board a flight to Singapore. The 17 hour flight from New Hampshire consisted of two movies: Ocean's 13 and Evan Almighty, Christine teaching me Chinese and me dragging my tired body from the seat with 4 inches of leg room (poor lady in front of me didnt get any sleep), to the bathroom tightly quartered bathroom. I say this honestly, it was all worth it just to get the rush of excitement that surged through my body like a Yellowstone geyser when the plane came in to land in Hong Kong. The green South China Sea glisend in the orange sunset and the triangular shaped mountains towered over the runway. It was an awesome sight. It was foreshadowing of the beautiful experiance to come. Talk to you from Singapore. Over and out.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Ten days from seperate me from a flight across the world to Singapore. My game is building toward pureness; like Led's acoustics in the begining of 'Stairway to Heaven.' There are nothing but positives shining through in my performances as of late, and the upcomming chorus of my song is going to be pure bliss, pure, rock-solid success. Today, it occured to me that because success is contingent on engaged, nurishing preparation, setbacks in performance are attributed to poor preparation.
If I were a body builder, I would work a muscle group to exhaustion and give it recovery time, only to come back and push it slightly farther to discomfort before another recovery period. During that recovery period, I would break-down another muscle group. I am compartmentalizing. Practice that yields results in any field, requires this recovery period. This is how college courses are structured for an all-around, mentally enhancing experiance. Classes are conducted every other day for a specific subject and in between classes, you have hands on activities, namely homework, that engages different skills with the same subject.
This formula also applies to the golfer set on improving. Find a way to make yourself uncomfortable during every session; whether it be playing a money game, or trying to incorporate subtle changes into your positions, push yourself beyond that level and stop before that discomfort detracts from your excitment. If golf is wholistically enhancing bodybuilding, then bicep curls are hitting your least favorite shot off the tee, pectoral presses are the wedge shots you dont get close enough to the hole, shoulder raises are the sand shots that you cant get up and down and the leg workout is the 4 foot putt you miss all too often. Take this formula, and do bicep curls monday, leg workout on tuesday with a brief shoulder raise session following and pectoral presses supersetted with bicep curls on wednesday...etc and repeat. Take this preparation formula, make yourself uncomfortable, put your ass close to the fire, your ego on the line and improve yourself. You'll never make it to third base with one foot on second!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

On the front nine today, I had missed a short putt in an insignificant match against a club member. I was frusterated and followed the missed putt with a poor shot that left me dropping a ball in front of a pond. I was not pissed because of the poor shot results, or because I allowed one shot to influence another, but because I couldn't stand creating an opportunity for my opponent to have a chance. Following a birdie on the next hole I thought, "alright, keep battling you warrior. Dont give this guy any breathing room." It is great that competative spirit isnt just a switch that flips off and on when I arrive at a tournament. It is a constant mindset that says, "this is a battle that you love and expect to be victorious at." We can debate whether or not the idea that approaching a one vs one mentality as opposed to a one vs oneself mindset is a proper way to approach a match play situation, but regardless of that discourse, I am getting the most out of that practice experiance because I care. When you care you arent just going through the motions of a monotinous job. You care because you love aspects of your experiance. That love of the desired end result creates a love of the process and a care for every moment in it. Loving those moments I find myself in the present. Life is not lived while "you are busy making other plans" when you are in the present moment. That love creates a oneness with the present, which is where your experiance becomes the most meaningful. I went on to win the match as expected, but, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter.