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SkyCaddie is Golf's Best Innovation of the Past Decade
With the 00's or aughts (or whatever you want to call the last decade) officially complete, the technological advances in golf during this period were still significant even if they weren't as groundbreaking as the equipment changes the game experienced during the 1990's. While the introduction of ultra-durable and lightweight metals is likely to never be challenged in terms of its direct impact on the sport, one could argue the biggest change in how we play the game now compared to 10 years ago has nothing to do with the clubs or balls we use so much as how we prepare for each shot. The introduction of GPS units and highly-detailed course maps has revolutionized the game for the average golfer, which have achieved a new level of accuracy and usefulness with SkyGolf's latest model, the SkyCaddie SG5.

I'm not suggesting there weren't great strides taken in the past decade with golf equipment, but with certain limits put in place by the USGA there was really only so much room for improvement. Sure, my Callaway FT-3 driver nets me 5-to-8 extra yards on average compared to the Titleist 975-D I was using back in 2001, and my new Titleist AP2 irons are much more consistent and controllable than the Ping i3 blades I used previously. The golf balls are supposedly better too, although back in 2000 the Pro-V1 was already immensely popular and the only real difference I've noticed in general is that balls tend to be a bit more durable now. All of these little improvements add up, of course, and have probably shaved a stroke or two from my average round, but it was the addition of the SkyCaddie SG5 to my game that had the most obvious and immediate impact.

The SkyCaddie's usefulness was apparent not just from situational observations, but could also be measured statistically. I compared the 15 rounds I played before using the SkyCaddie SG5 to 15 rounds using the device, played on the same courses in similar conditions. My average round improved from 78.7 to 77.1 and I hit approximately one-and-a-half more greens in regulation per 18 holes. While an improvement of 1.6 strokes per round may not sound like a dramatic difference to some, for a golfer with a 4 or 5 handicap like myself, it's huge. I suspect golfers with higher handicaps will experience even greater results.

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By: Jay Tierney Comments (1) Golf
The 10 Dumbest Rules in Sports
Considering the enormous popularity of world-wide sports, bringing in billions in annual revenue and with major events reaching more eye-balls than anything else televised, it's hard to believe some of the ridiculous rules that still exist across various sports. This list is a breakdown of the ten most illogical rules that are contained within the actual games (so no complaining about overtime formats, the BCS system, why a baseball closer can blow a save and get the win, or why the foul pole isn't called the fair pole). Also, because golf has more ridiculous rules than all of the other major sports combined, I've decided to leave it out altogether and will dedicate some time to unfair golf rules later.

10. Only One Foot Down for a Complete Pass (NCAA Football) - With the complete integration between college football and the NFL, why not have college receivers abide by the same reception rules so they can start working on getting both feet down years earlier? Catches where both feet land in-bounds are much more dramatic anyway (like Santonio Holmes' game winning TD in the Super Bowl).

9. Maintain Possession Through the Catch, Even Out of Bounds (NFL) - A receiver cuts towards the sideline, catches the ball while dragging both toes, then when he falls and hits the ground out-of-bounds the ball pops loose. No catch. Why not? He had possession when he was still in-bounds and what happens after that shouldn't matter, the same way there's an invisible plane at the end zone and whether the player loses possession or not after the nose of the ball crosses that plane doesn't matter because it's already a touchdown. Too many deserving catches have been negated.

8. Offensive Interference vs. Defensive Interference (NFL) - So a quarterback can chuck the ball 50 yards down field and if a defender holds the receiver they get the ball at the spot of the foul, yet if a receiver holds the defender to prevent an interception it's only a 15-yard penalty? This seems unbalanced, although the recent change to interference only being called if the ball was already in the air (otherwise it's just defensive holding) is a step in the right direction.

7. Trapezoid Behind the Net Rule (NHL) - This is where the goaltender can only play the puck within a specific area behind the net or in front of the goal line. But why? If the goaltender is leaving the net unguarded and has good puck handling skills, why not let him go where he wants? I say let him take the risk.

6. Ineligible Receivers (NFL) - Why can't the quarterback throw the ball to anyone on his team? I have yet to hear a scenario that justifies this rule in which my response is not, "well then the defense will have to prepare for that just like with any trick play."

5. The Tuck Rule (NFL) - While it makes sense that if the quarterback is attempting to make a pass and his arm is moving forward he can't fumble the ball, if he's trying to hold onto it and gets hit why should this be considered an incomplete pass? This rule was obviously made famous during the 2001 AFC Championship game when the Raiders knocked the ball lose from Tom Brady, but the truth is it's a horrible example of the tuck rule being enforced because the fumble should have been a moot point considering Brady was illegally hit in the head during the play anyway (sorry Raiders fans, it's true, just watch the replay a few times). Why no one ever seems to remember this detail is beyond me. Even so, the tuck rule remains convoluted and needs to be eliminated.

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By: Jay Tierney Comments (29) Soccer, Hockey, Football, College Football, Basketball, Baseball
Some Thoughts on the 2009 U.S. Open
With all of the rain and weather delays the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black started out as dull as many British Opens, but by Monday morning it evolved into quite a thrilling final round thanks to the lead horses coming back to the field. Here are some various thoughts...

  • Kudos to Tiger and Phil for grinding it out and somehow getting into contention when it looked like they had no chance after 36 holes. They did the same thing at The Masters earlier this year. Golf fans always tend to focus on the majors and total tournament victories, but to me Tiger's legacy will be his ability to somehow always put himself in contention even when he's off his game.

  • Phil Mickelson did not choke. Critics will say that all he needed to do was par the last four holes and he would have been in a playoff, which is a convenient way of glossing over the fact that 15 and 17 were playing as the two most difficult holes on the course and many other players missed the same short putts on those greens. Let's not forget that he had to drop some long birdie putts and make an amazing eagle to even get a share of the lead to begin with.

  • Lucas Glover may be a bit of a dark horse winner, but his victory wasn't nearly as surprising as many are making it out to be. Yes, he only has one career victory on tour, but Glover has been playing some solid golf this season, particularly in some of the more noteworthy events. 19th at the Bob Hope, 3rd at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, 11th at Arnie's event at Bay Hill, and 2nd at the Quail Hollow Championship. The guy has been in the mix all year long.

  • David Duval may really be back. It's far too easy for a player to perform well at a major and then read too much into it, but Duval has been telling anyone who would listen for the past several months that his game is getting back on track. So while it was a pleasant surprise to see him with a share of the lead with only a few holes remaining, it wasn't as shocking as you might think. Don't be surprised when his name is in the mix next month at The British Open - it may have been a life-time ago, but he's won it before. How can you not be cheering for Double D at this point? The PGA could use his presence right now.

  • Sure, Ricky Barnes blew a huge lead as the 54-hole leader, but it's extremely common for a young or no-name golfer to be in his position at the U.S. Open and then quickly fade from contention. Think Jason Gore a few years ago, who finished with a final round 81. Give Barnes credit for toughing it out and still finishing as runner-up. He hit several fantastic putts that should have dropped, particularly on the final hole - I still can't believe his birdie putt missed. It certainly would have made Glover's 4-footer a heck of a lot more difficult. I don't think this is the last we'll hear of him.
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    By: Jay Tierney Comments (0) Golf

    Did Nicklaus Face Tougher Competition than Tiger?
    One of the most common knocks against Tiger Woods' illustrious PGA Tour career is that even if he passes Jack Nicklaus in major tournament victories, he never had to play against the same stiff level of competition. Jack had to face off against the likes of Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Gary Player. Old time golf fans proclaim this argument with the same conviction of a priest quoting scripture from the Bible. But is there any truth behind it?

    First, when comparing career competitors, I observed that the most common mistake those who believe Nicklaus faced tougher opponents make is to compare the career numbers of his rivals as opposed to where they stood when Jack was around the same age as Tiger is currently in 2009 (33). The only fair and logical method for comparing these two dominant golfers from different eras is to examine the playing field in 1973 when Jack was 33 years old, because while we know what his rivals did for the remainder of his career, we have no idea what Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington or other opponents of Tiger will do over the next decade or so.

    Before digging into opponent statistics, let's compare 2009 Tiger to 1973 Jack...

    Tiger Woods: 14 majors (4 Masters, 3 US Open, 3 British Open, 4 PGA Championship).

    Jack Nicklaus: 11 majors (4 Masters, 3 US Open, 2 British Open, 2 PGA Championship).

    Now for the opponents, comparing golfers who won multiple majors and played against Tiger to golfers who won multiple majors and played against Jack as they stood in early 1973...

    Tiger's Opponents as of early 2009
    Phil Mickelson (3 majors)
    Vijay Singh (3 majors)
    Padraig Harrington (3 majors)
    Ernie Els (3 majors, 2 against Tiger)
    Payne Stewart (3 majors, 1 against Tiger)
    Angel Cabrera (2 majors)
    José María Olazábal (2 majors, 1 against Tiger)
    Mark O'Meara (2 majors)
    Retief Goosen (2 majors)
    Lee Janzen (2 majors, 1 against Tiger)
    John Daly (2 majors, 0 against Tiger)

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    By: Jay Tierney Comments (5) Golf
    Maria Sharapova Routed at the French Open
    Those red clay courts have never been kind to Maria Sharapova. Given her long absence from singles play, it would be fair to say her performance at the 2009 French Open was at least respectable considering she made it to the Quarterfinals. On the other hand, once she made it that far she was absolutely crushed, losing consecutive sets to Dominika Cibulkova (6-0, 6-2). With Ivanovic and Sharapova both eliminated, my interest in the remainder of this event has officially diminished. Sorry, die-hard tennis fans.

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    By: Jay Tierney Comments (0) Tennis, Hot Chicks
    Charles Barkley Calls Out His Producer
    So now that Charles Barkley is no longer drinking and driving after his infamous DUI incident, it seems he's taken to drinking and filming live television. Why else would someone say "numbnuts" on the air and then not-so-subtly call his producer a pussy? Not that I'm complaining - Barkley is an epic jackass but entertaining as hell.
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    By: Jay Tierney Comments (1) Videos, Sports Media, Basketball
    Tie Goes to the Runner?
    Generally speaking, I try not to laugh when little kids get hurt, but sometimes they make it difficult. Take this video from a San Jose Giants promotional game where two kids race around the base paths in opposite directions. It's safe to say these two are exactly the same speed, and the P.A. announcer caps off the home plate collision with a funny concluding line. Don't worry, both kids were just fine despite being a little dizzy.
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    By: Jay Tierney Comments (0) Videos, Fans, Baseball
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