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It surprised me how much I enjoyed this event.  Aside from the long walk just to get onto the golf course, I loved everything about the Shell Houston Open. The course was in mint condition, the fans were probably the nicest I’ve come across so far, and the representatives in the media center seemed to go out of their way each day to make sure I had everything I needed.  And, to top it all off, I got so speak with AK’s swing coach on Saturday, prior to the victory.  I felt like I was able to celebrate right alongside Kim.

Here are the highlights:

1.       Questions for Kevin Stadler and Cameron Percy

2.       Comments to Martin Flores’ caddie

3.       Meeting Anthony Kim’s swing coach, Adam Schriber

4.       Media center security escorting out a photographer

5.       Talking to Vaughn Taylor’s caddie after the playoff

Hope you guys enjoy it.  You can purchase it here.

 
 
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I’m not sure if it was 4+ hours of driving each day, the systematic pinch the volunteers and security guards put on me each day, or lack of sleep.  But I did not enjoy my experience at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  I’m just being honest.  I really enjoyed my time on the course, but that was about it. 

That’s not to say, however, that I didn’t come across some noteworthy things, and I’m still really happy with the way this e-book turned out.  But it was a rough week.

 Here are the “highlights”:

1.       My time behind the scoring trailer

2.       Meeting Martin, Ernie’s manager; Kimberly Gay, Brian’s wife; Karen Weekley, Boo’s wife

3.       Watching the greatest bunker shot of all time from Colin Montgomerie

4.       The rant against this freaking tournament

You can purchase the e-book here, and I hope you enjoy it.

I look forward to hearing what people think.

 
 
Just like a good game plan when heading to the driving range, I realized recently that I’ve reached a point on the road when I need to have more of a game plan each time I attack the golf course.  For the first 10 events or so, everything was so new that I couldn’t help but have an endless number of things to write about.  But now that I’m seeing how much of a routine each week is for most of the people involved, I too need more of a game plan. 

Players seem bored by their fourth interview outside of the scoring trailer.  Sometimes they even seem impatient or bored during their first.  Media people sit in the tent playing Sudoku or browsing the internet all day, watching golf on television when it’s just outside their door.  The colloquial round-table-esque questions produced by senior golf writers to professionals in the interview rooms are even getting on my nerves, believe it or not.  While the courses may change each week, nothing seems to change for these people.

I’m still wowed by a lot of what goes on each week, so don’t get me wrong.  But I’ve found that when I have at least one definitive task that needs to be accomplished during the day—such as when I’m handed a freelance assignment or Bob requests that I get him some quotes—my entire day becomes more focused. 

So what am I getting at? I would like suggestions from you guys.  Is there a player you’d like me to try and interview? Something you’d like me to do, like yell something at Rory Sabbatini? I can continue to observe things the way I always have, but having just one necessary task each day really helps me out.  It keeps me on edge, and I like it.

So let me know.  Instead of (God forbid) someday just trying to guess and see what people want to read about, why not have you guys let me know?

Take care everyone.  Cheers.
 
 
Apparently Arnie re-designed this place starting May 15th, 2009, and Palmer was able to play the first round on the new and improved Bay Hill September 1st, 2009.  Prior to the renovations--which included new tees, bunkers, greens, and fairway modifications (so what DIDN'T he do)--Bay Hill was the 4th hardest golf course on the PGA Tour for 2009 and had the lowest GIR % on tour.  But after the renovations, who knows? 

Personally, I don't understand why players have such a hard time hitting these greens--well, with the exception of the 18th, of course, which looks more like a banana or a cashew than a putting surface.  But I hope you guys enjoy the pics.
 
 
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Similar to the professional golfers trying to put together four solid rounds of golf, it can be hard for me to put together four solid days of writing.  And while I’m proud of each e-book I’ve published so far, this one in particular turned out to be one of my favorites.

The Copperhead Course is a brilliant design, and similar to Riviera, I know it will stand the test of time despite whatever new technology comes our way.  It was also a great field, and despite the crazy 5 hour rain delay on Sunday, this tournament turned out to be one of my favorites so far this year. 

Here are the highlights:

1.       Almost hitting Rocco Mediate with a golf ball and meeting David Duval

2.       Monster squirrels

3.       A long conversation with Matt, Rocco’s caddie

4.       Helping XM Radio host Michael Collins find a stolen cart

You can purchase the e-book here, and I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks so much for your support.

Cheers,

Tom Collins

 
 
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I don’t know what it was about this event that made it so difficult to cover.  I guess it was the wind.  I had forgotten how easily the wind can dehydrate / exhaust you, and at times it seemed like it didn’t matter how many cups of coffee I had—I was going to fall asleep regardless.

The media center at Doral was gorgeous.  The media staff running the center even created a “Universal Golf Magazine” desk sign for me, which was a nice touch.  The food was luxurious as well, but because of the small field of players, there were a couple of days where finding an appropriate time to eat was difficult, as they seemed to close down the dining area before you were able to get off of the course.

I titled this e-book “Jekyll and Hyde Golf” for a few reasons, the most prevalent being the 18th hole at the Blue Monster, which is pictured on the cover.  I never thought the difficulty of a single hole could be changed so much based on wind direction.  I suppose the scores on many Florida courses are dictated by the wind, but the 18th here almost seems bi-polar.  When the wind was in the players’ faces, the scoring average was over 4.6.  With a tailwind? It was almost an easy birdie hole, as many players found themselves with a 140-yard approach shot into the green. 

But overall, a terrific experience, especially with my efforts to get a few quotes from Robert Karlsson.  At least I finally know what “Playing like a Muppet” means. 

The highlights:

1.       The incredibly logical and comfortable roads around Doral

2.       Meeting Jim McLean and Butch Harmon

3.       Learning more fun facts about Tim Clark from his brother Raymond

4.       Interview(s) with Robert Karlsson, the clean-shaven Swedish Bigfoot

5.       The drama / wrestling match around Schwartzel’s ball on 17 on Sunday

You can purchase the e-book here. 

Thanks so much for the support, and tell your friends if you’re enjoying what you’re reading.  And, as always, if you find yourself at a PGA Tour event soon, drop me a line.

Cheers.

 

 
 
I haven’t really advertised this, mainly because Amazon takes a major chunk of an already tiny pie, but I’ve been publishing on Amazon Kindle in addition to this website.  As of this writing, I’ve actually had one of my e-books “refunded.” 

The reason why this frustrates me is that I put such a premium on quality and good content.  I suppose “good content” is subjective, but I still think “quality” is important, with a clean, organized look to my finished products.

With Kindle, uploading one of my e-books is finicky, because formatting the e-book so it actually looks presentable to people is tough.  Loading the content is slow, and then when I find a mistake, I have to reload it again, rinse and repeat style, until I get the finished product the way I want it.  Due to the limited time I have now with traveling and writing and whatever else, I’ve gotten to the point where I just upload the document to Kindle without really giving a rats ass as to what the finished product looks like.  So, when I saw the “refund,” that frustrated me, because I knew it was my own fault. 

But, because I don’t really have the time to spend an extra hour making sure the formatting is perfect, I guess I thought I’d take a survey before I just stop publishing on Amazon or make more of an effort to format: is Kindle worth it? How do you guys read my e-books? Is there a better format that I should use?

I don’t want downloading / reading my e-books to be an issue, but I also don’t want to focus on something like Kindle when nobody really cares anyway.  So let me know.  Again, I hate half-assed efforts, but unfortunately the combination of difficult formatting and limited time has almost forced me to just upload it and move on.

Take care all.
 
 
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While I’ve always known that the Honda Classic is just one of those tournaments that’s been a staple on the PGA Tour for years and years, one thing I didn’t know was how difficult the course is.  Everyone knows about the Bear Trap on 15, 16, and 17, but then there are holes like 6 and 11 that yielded bogeys, doubles, and higher for players all week.  With a lot of wind—which is just what happened this week—this course is “dangerous.”  Winner Camilo Villegas said that himself.

Aside from the course, the mere fact that I was able to drive from Phoenix and make it in time to catch all the action still amazes me.  No wonder people fly.

Here are the highlights:

1.       John Feinstein stealing my seat

2.       Meeting Mrs. Klauk and providing input for “Klauk’s Clan” t-shirts

3.       Meeting up with Candace Clark again, and finally meeting Tim

4.       The burger run for Tim Clark on Friday

5.       Pulling Alex Cejka aside and finally getting to ask Justin Rose a question I’ve wanted to ask him since Turning Stone last year

You can purchase the e-book here, and I hope you enjoy it.

Your support is greatly appreciated. 

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I think the only constant during this trip was the WIND.  I've never had to fight with the wind on the road for that long.  It is certainly true what they said about West Texas and the wind...and the picture of the guy on the tractor is hilarious.  He walked out of the General Store with a drink of some kind, got onto his mower, turned the key, and drove home.  I had to run into the car to get the camera, and the second picture from the end was all I was able to get.  
 
 
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At first, I was scared to death for this e-book.  After a “proactive” week, I just didn’t know what the finished product would look like.  But in the end, I really enjoyed this installment for two reasons: first, it actually turned out pretty well.  Secondly, I feel this entire e-book—especially the D-Day section from Friday—is amazing simply for being written.  I don’t know how the other golf writer’s do it at this event.  The distractions and temptations are unparalleled with the rest of the season, and after sleeping in my tent and sleeping in my car all week, the last day of writing was by far my most challenging task yet.  In fact, I’d say the entire week was a writing marathon, and I can’t stop laughing at my approach to Friday, February 26th—I hope you enjoy it too. 

Well, with that said, I give you the highlights:

1.       My fragile relationship with security

2.       Talking with Charlie Hoffman

3.       Meeting Larry from Waste Management, who was on “Undercover Boss”

4.       My creative writing “D-Day” experience on Friday, spending 5+ hours on 16

5.       Meeting up with ASU students and partying the night away

You can purchase the e-book here.  Cheers.