Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jimmie Johnson and Greatness in Sports

I had intended to only post about golf topics here, but given that we have just witnessed NASCAR award Jimmie Johnson the Sprint Cup for the fifth consecutive year, I felt is appropriate to comment on sustained greatness in sport. How significant is this? Consider that within NASCAR, since it was founded in 1947, only once before had a driver won more than two in a row (Cale Yarborough from 1976-1978). But also consider how rare this feat is among other sports, not just within NASCAR. The NHRA has had drivers win five or more championships in a row once in each of its three major series: Tony Schumacher from 2004-2009 in the Top Fuel class (6 in a row), John Force from 1993-2002 in the Funny Car Class (10 in a row), and Bob Glidden from 1985-1989 in the Pro Stock class (5 in a row). In the ARCA Re/Max series, Frank Kimmel won championships from 2000-2007 (8 in a row), in World of Outlaws Steve Kinser has won five-in-a-row twice in his career, first from 1983-1988 and again from 1990-1994, and in Formula 1 Michael Schumacher won five from 2000-2004.

For other major sports leagues holding yearly championships, the NFL has never had a team win five consecutive. In the NHL it has only happened once, when the Montreal Canadiens won five from 1956-1960. The feat has also happened only once in the NBA, with the Boston Celtics winning eight in a row from 1959-1966 and once in MLB, with the Yankees winning five from 1949-1953 (a time when it should be noted that some of the better players, not the least of which being Ted Williams, were serving in the US Military). Five in a row has never occurred in English Premier League and has occurred once in the UEFA Champions League when Real Madrid won five from 1956-1960. In the Nippon Baseball League the Yomuiri Giants won nine in a row from 1965-1973. And in the Canadian Football League, the Edmonton Eskimos won five from 1978-1982.

In individual sports, Kelly Slater won five ASP World Championships in surfing from 1994-1998. In tennis, the year-end #1 ranking was held by the same person five or more straight years twice, Jimmy Connors from 1974-1979 and Pete Sampras from 1993-1998 (surprisingly, and also quite tellingly, Roger Federer did not go five consecutive years ranked #1). Women's Tennis has seen five in a row done once, Martina Navratilova from 1982-1986. In golf, on the European Tour, Colin Montgomerie won the Order of Merit seven times in a row from 1993-1999, Annika Sorenstam was a five-time LPGA player of the year from 2001-2005, and Tiger Woods was PGA Tour Player of the Year from 1999-2003.

My purpose for bring out all these statistics, and I surely missed some sport or event that someone considers to be serious, is to show how rare it is for any athlete or team to win five season championships in a row. This may well be the only time NASCAR ever see's a five time champion, just as we golfers may have witnessed, just recently, the only five-time season champions in our sport on the respective tours. This is quite a rare feat, and whether or not you watch auto racing, or if you do, whether or not you like Jimmie Johnson, we all need to take a step back and look at how great this accomplishment really is, it truly is a once in a lifetime occurrence and Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, and that entire team are once of the greatest teams in the history of motorsports and sports as a whole.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Purpose and scope of this site/project

In starting this research my purpose was to look for places that new golf courses could cut costs in design and maintenance and where existing courses could save in those same areas with some moderate repair and renovation. In dealing with irrigated and maintained rough space, my friend Garland Bayley told me about the rural courses he played in his younger days and how they had no rough irrigation at all and only had generally single row fairway irrigation. I have played these kinds of courses in my younger days as well and prior to my most recent move I was a member of a club that met this rural description. These type courses are not the focus of my research and writing since these clubs generally operate on a shoestring budget, barely having enough money to cover basic maintenance, let alone the more expensive work done by higher end clubs. My purpose is to look at the practices in place at mid to high end clubs and how they could potentially save money in renovation costs or new construction costs. In general, it is my desire and purpose to show that it is possible to both lengthen golf courses and reduce irrigated and maintained space. While certainly the property tax amount goes up with more land ownership, the amount saved in irrigation water, chemicals, and labor would more than make up for that cost. In this project, I will show how much money could be saved if clubs drastically reduced maintained rough areas, modified irrigation systems to more uniformly apply water to all irrigated spaces and different types of turf that required less water and/or less desirable water types such as gray water or salt water. Hopefully those of you reading this can gain as much from this project as I do.