Monday, January 23, 2006

Zen Podcasting

Upon further review… I think recent programs have been more than a little skewed toward “golf” and away from “Zen.”

But, as usual, the Universe has sent me what I need, in the form of several other podcasts that touch on “Zen” in a way that is very supportive of what we’ve been discussing these past weeks.

(As a side-note, I recently had a fellow podcaster comment that he had no reason to cooperate with me, a “competing” program. Remember that in Eastern philosophy there is only one of us in the room anyway, so anything we do to enhance each other only acts to enhance everyone.)

The Zencast: This is probably the definitive pure “Zen” program. It is a straight recording of a weekly dharma talk given by a West Coast Zen teacher (Master, monk, roshi, etc.) As such, it is too long (~55 minutes) and is marred by dead spots, questions from the audience that can’t be heard, and the occasional guest teacher who misses the mark.

But the primary leader is very low-key and has a non-confrontational way of helping you see things from a different perspective. It’s ideal for when you have a long drive and is certainly worth several listening before you decide if it is for you, long term.

This past week’s talk reminded me that meditation (or “mindfulness”) comes in many forms and is an essential part of your golfing mind. I’ll talk more about that on the podcast.

GolfSmarter: This is a strange program (and who am I to talk?) whose prime purpose is to promote TeeTour, Inc. a business that provides hole-by-hole course-management tips for destination golf courses. The podcast follows that format, talking to a course’s head pro about the proper strategy for the more difficult holes on the course (“Hit your tee shot at the left fairway bunker and let it kick off the slope.”) I’m not at all sure why someone would want to listen to details concerning a course you might never see or play, but they show several rave reviews on iTunes, so I assume they’re doing something right.

However, within their first three shows there are two good features. In the first program, the guest is Perry Andrisen (www.perryandrisen.com) who is a California pro. In the discussion, Perry says that a key to good golf is to “ramp up your “Fun-Meter,” an idea I have to agree with and will be talking about on my next podcast. Then, the full second program is an interview with Dr. Joe Parent, author of “Zen Golf.” Make it a priority to get that one on your MP3 player and listen to it several times.

Concept Golf (www.conceptgolf.com): This is not a podcast, per se. It is the web site of John Toepel Jr., and its primary purpose is to market his book, training aids, and his school. John was on the Tour for four years in the mid-70’s with moderate success. What attracts me to John and his methods is that he maintains that most instruction is only personal preferences, an attempt to force you to conform to someone else’s individual swing style. Toepel holds that there are a few key principles and that you must use those to build your own individual swing. (Sound familiar?)

While not a podcast, John does offer monthly telephone discussions: 45 minutes where Toepel is “interviewed” (by a loving disciple) followed by 15 minutes of questions from those listening. Those have been recorded and you can download them to your player. I’d suggest that you listen to a few, just to get John’s different perspective, but be aware, John’s books and lessons are very expensive. (Maybe that’s why he’s billed as “The Golf Genius?”

Golf Talk Radio: Hosted by a teaching pro, Chuck Evans. Each program is an interview with either a playing or a teaching pro. A little on mechanics, a lot on the mental side, and a very occasional bit of preaching.

Hooked On Golf: A brand-new attempt by an (electronic only) friend of mine, Tony Korologos. His first posting — completely unintentional, I think — is brief and hilarious. He’ll get better, as his blog is well done. See if he can top himself when he puts up his second attempt.