Friday, 20 September 2013

An Internet Golf Gadget

The Fed Ex Cup is the PGA Golf Tour's playoff event. Players earn points based on performance and when the regular season concludes the top 125 players advance to the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs, a series of four tournaments.

The Barclays began with 125 players, the Deutsche Bank with the top 100, and last week at the BMW Championship there were 70 players to start.

September 19th was the first day of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. The top thirty golfers are all competing for the final $10,000,000 prize.

Last week's tournament was do or die for many players hovering around that thirty mark. The list changed day by day, hour by hour, hole by hole. Players who were ranked in the top ten to fifteen might have been safe to continue...but, if they played poorly it created opportunities for others to advance if they played well.

To win at golf depends on many factors, skill aside. How you play and how others play is one factor. You can have a good day while others play poorly, so it would be to your advantage. I remember hearing a player say in an interview something like 'if I play well, and the leaders play poorly, I might have a chance of winning'.

Weather and tee off times are other factors. When play starts on a Thursday players are assigned a morning or afternoon tee time. Friday they start off the opposite. This is done, I assume, to make things fair as course conditions can change throughout the day. Often it's the luck of the draw, especially if the wind picks up in the afternoon, or the rain that held off all night finally lets loose in the morning.

Players who don't make 'the cut' are done at this point, and don't play the weekend. The remaining players are assigned Saturday and Sunday tee times by the standings. The players at the top of the leaderboard tee off last.

I love 'watching' golf on my laptop. The PGA Tour website has this fun thing called Shot Tracker. There's the leaderboard, a list of all the players with their score for the day and the tournament. You get a colour coded, play by play representation of their shots per hole complete with yardages.

At a glance you can see who is playing well, and who is not. Dark green (the fairway) followed by light green (the green) is the what you want to see. Blue (for in the water) with red ( a penalty) is not. There's also a green/black that means the rough and brown for the bunker. Not sure I've ever seen the orange for Out of Bounds.

The leaderboard is constantly updated, and you can see the lines move up or down according to the score and the ball move side to side for each shot.

I got curious about other options and discovered I could customize 'My Leaderboard' so I don't have to scroll up and down to check the status on my favourite players.

There were some blue figures at the top of the leaderboard...Players Full Field or Groups Full Field. I found this gave me the pairings in order of their tee off times. Not only do you get the same stats, you get a layout of the particular hole, with colour coded lines representing the location of each player's shot.

Back to the Full Field Leaderboard. If you scroll to the top there's a section called 'Players on Course'. This gives the pairings and what hole they're currently on. I discovered when I clicked on the names I got a 'Group Closeup'. You get a larger image of the hole, and a closeup of the green. Each player's shot is colour coded and numbered. There's also a play by play description with yardages and a scorecard for each day of the tournament.

Lots of people consider golf slow and boring, but I can kill hours flitting back and forth between these options, with a quick check of my E-mail, a run through Pinterest or whatever.

I check Shot Tracker when there is no televised golf. The TV stations pick up the day's play for the last few hours only, and I like to see how my favourites are doing after their early tee times and before the broadcast.

What can I say, it's a toy, and I have fun with it. I leave it on sometimes even if I'm watching the tournament. I never just watch TV, I'm always doing something else, like reading, knitting, painting, or writing. I rely on a change in the background noise, like the cheering of the fans, or the excited voice of the commentator to alert me to pay attention. That's the good thing about sports, they always offer that instant replay.

I guess when golf goes into hiatus for the winter I'll have to go back to watching my favourite movies over and over again. Except I have this other new toy, a PVR, personal viewing recording or DVR, or whatever it's called.

Now I can watch, or listen which is more apt, to my favourite shows while I'm doing something else. Maybe I have an adult form of ADD, as I have this need to multitask.

Or I like playing on the internet.


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