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West Virginia Golf Resorts and Tennis Guide West Virginia Golf Resorts and Tennis Guide
West Virginia Golf Resorts and Tennis Guide
West Virginia Golf Resorts and Tennis Guide
Golf News

Thu, 17 Oct 2019 04:12:31 GMT

The Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick and all of its hideous catch basins produced no shortage of strange sights and stories. But none more bizarre than Lee Ann Walker’s 58 penalty strokes after 23 holes of her caddie lining her up. Walker’s playing partners realized she was violating the rules and explained so to the part-time golfer.

From Beth Ann Nichols’ Golfweek story:

Walker shot 127-90 in her Senior LPGA Championship debut at French Lick Resort.

“This may be my claim to fame,” said Walker, a 47-year-old who works in real estate in Southport, North Carolina. “Not exactly how I was looking to do it.”

Walker’s playing partners, Laura Baugh and Laura Shanahan-Rowe, brought the infraction to Walker’s attention on the 14th hole (her fifth) of the second round. Walker immediately called over a rules official to explain the situation.

Earlier this year, the USGA and R&A implemented a change that prohibited caddies from lining up a player on the putting surface under Rule 10.2b.

Walker went on to explain that this was her first competitive effort since 2011 and 2012. Ok. But playing partners? Caddies?

While I get that it’s touching she still signed for her 127-90 opening rounds, it’s pretty strange this many people were so blissfully ignorant of the rules.

Thu, 17 Oct 2019 03:41:54 GMT
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Daniel Hicks of AFP appeared to have an exclusive with world number one Brooks Koepka on Wednesday, who took assessed a rivalry with Rory McIlroy in comments that went viral.

"I've been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn't won a major since I've been on the PGA Tour. So I just don't view it as a rivalry," Koepka told AFP ahead of his defence of the CJ Cup in Jeju, South Korea which begins on Thursday.

While Koepka’s tone tends to make people believe this is a swipe or right hook to the jaw, it seems more like his matter-of-fact approach than anything else. And he’s not wrong about McIlroy’s recent major record.

Less matter of fact was this painful effort to appease sponsors and sensors in PVB. From the interview transcript at the CJ Cup:

NICK PARKER: And honestly, this last year, getting the win started here helped you win the Wyndham Rewards and then also you had two eagles for the Aon Risk-Reward Challenge for another (inaudible.) How big is that, getting the season started right with both those and helped you along the way?

BROOKS KOEPKA: You've got to get off to a good start. To get off to a good start here is big. If you look at the Wyndham, the Aon, the FedEx, none of that happens without winning here, so you've got to play good every week. That's the beauty of the PGA TOUR. Every round does mean something whether you believe that or not. Even if you're back in 30th, 40th place, there's always something to play for and that's why I think Aon and Wyndham have done an incredible job of making every round, every shot mean something. That's important and that's what as pros you should be doing anyways. But it makes it fun for us coming down the stretch never really knowing what's going to go on, we've always got something else to play for.

Koepka, as you may recall, passed on the Wyndham Championship, as did most other top players, winning the Wyndham Rewards without actually playing the final event.

Wed, 16 Oct 2019 15:48:50 GMT
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Of the many incredible “streaks” in golf history, few speak to a level of consistency over nearly 25 years than Phil Mickelson’s Cup run. Since 1994 he has played on every Presidents and Ryder Cup team.

Sean Martin reporting on Mickelson’s pre-CJ Cup press conference concession that a 2019 Presidents Cup Captain’s pick is unlikely and undeserved.

“There are much better options of players that have played consistently at a high level that deserve to be on the team,” Mickelson told reporters at the CJ Cup. “Even if I were to win, I have not done enough to warrant a pick.

In that time, Mickelson has won 21.5 Ryder Cup points and 32.5 Presidents Cup points.

He holds the record for most matches played in the Ryder Cup, most appearances and is just two points shy of Billy Casper’s all time American mark.

Wed, 16 Oct 2019 15:43:29 GMT

Ewan Murray reporting for The Guardian says an LPGA Tour takeover of the Ladies European Tour may be in the works again. After meetings at the Solheim Cup.

The LPGA Tour had launched what is essentially a takeover bid more than a year ago, only to be rebuffed by the LET’s now outgoing chief executive, Mark Lichtenhein. Explaining that failed move to the Guardian in 2018, the LPGA’s commissioner, Mike Whan, said: “I think the idea of us running it, it becoming an LPGA Tour and their top players having a direct pass to the LPGA … they didn’t really love either of those things. I don’t necessarily understand those concerns but I respect them.”

Lichtenhein’s departure was announced in the immediate aftermath of Europe’s enthralling Solheim Cup victory at Gleneagles. Every member of that European team was an LPGA Tour member, a first in Solheim Cup history.

Wed, 16 Oct 2019 03:18:15 GMT
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Earlier this week Ron Sirak wrote for LPGA.com how the second of two senior women’s majors was vital to growing the game.

Any golfer who tuned in to the first two rounds of the Senior LPGA, they would have been treated to the silliness that is legends and other former LPGA greats trying to navigate a mountaintop mess in rural Indiana. On top of French Lick Resort’s “intense” Dye course, the overall look would make no one want to play this distance-fueled iteration of the game: a dearth of spectators, players taking carts kept on the paths, caddies sending them off with a couple of clubs (because who needs broken ankle?), and no shortage of ridiculous sidehill stances leading to drop-kick hybrids. There was even defending champion Laura Davies taking a tumble in round two (she’s ok, video below).

Here’s the worst part: the resort features a charming, lovingly restored Donald Ross course that would seem more fitting than the 8,102 yard (80.0 Course rating/148 Slope) Dye course that was built in hopes of attracting a modern-game major.

Why aren’t these LPGA greats playing the walkable Ross?

Why would anyone think any tournament should be played on a mountaintop where players are constantly at risk of broken pride or a broken ankle? (Especially two years in a row.)

Scale is everything in golf. We revere a walkable course that gets the most out of its acreage. We want to play those places and spectate on them. Tournament golf should not be an undertaking in survival. Mountain goats, we are not.

But hey, on that note, Juli Inkster leads after a second round 69 and Golf Channel has final round coverage starting at 3 pm ET.

Wed, 16 Oct 2019 02:30:56 GMT
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With the announcement of a new autobiography on the heels of his 1997 Masters retrospective, Tiger Woods is pounding the keys in an apparent effort to close in on two other upcoming books. But without a publication date mentioned, it’s not clear when Back will be on shelves.

What is clear: Tiger seems determined to counteract what he sees as a lot of misinformation either existing or forthcoming. From the press release:

Woods said, “I’ve been in the spotlight for a long time, and because of that, there have been books and articles and TV shows about me, most filled with errors, speculative and wrong. This book is my definitive story. It’s in my words and expresses my thoughts. It describes how I feel and what’s happened in my life. I’ve been working at it steadily, and I’m looking forward to continuing the process and creating a book that people will want to read.”

Besides the recent Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict biography, a pair of books appear to be in the can, or appearing soon.

Noted author Curt Sampson’s Roaring Back is set for an October 29, 2019 release from Diversion Books.

The write-up sounds like a warts-and-all work similar to past Sampson books, so we won’t hold this write up from the publisher against him:

Sampson also places Woods’s defeats and triumphs in the context of historic comebacks by other notable golfers like Ben Hogan, Skip Alexander, Aaron Silton, and Charlie Beljan, finding the forty-three-year-old alone on the green for his trajectory of victory against all odds. As this enthralling book reveals, Tiger never doubted the perseverance of the winner in the mirror.

Skip Alexander? Aaron Silton? Charlie Beljan? I know I have a bad memory, but boy do I have some research to do on those historic comebacks.

Then there is Michael Bamberger’s book, slated for a late March, 2020 release date. From the publisher’s teaser:

Michael Bamberger has covered Tiger Woods since the golfer was a teenager and an amateur, and in The Second Life of Tiger Woods he draws upon his deep network of sources inside locker rooms, caddie yards, clubhouses, fitness trailers, and back offices to tell the true and inspiring story of the legend’s return. Packed with new information and graced by insight, Bamberger reveals how this iconic athlete clawed his way back to the top. The Second Life of Tiger Woods is the saga of an exceptional man, but it’s also a celebration of second chances. Being rich and famous had nothing to do with Woods’s return. Instead, readers will see the application of his intelligence, pride, dedication—and his enormous capacity for work—to the problems at hand. Bamberger’s bracingly honest book is about what Tiger Woods did, and about what any of us can do, when we face our demons head-on.

Heavy! I mean, it’s no Charlie Beljan comeback story, but what is.

Ultimately, it’s fantastic that Woods is working on a book and likely to share his story and views as he did with the 1997 book. It is curious that he has chosen to follow up his ‘97 Masters book already and, in theory, with a lot of great days ahead of him. But we’ll take what we can get.

Tue, 15 Oct 2019 03:09:59 GMT
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As the European Tour returns this week to Le Golf National a bit more than a year after the 2018 Ryder Cup, Iain Carter considers what has happened to past hosts of the European Tour’s breadmaker.

To put it bluntly: host a Ryder Cup, and they move on. Which normally should not mean much, except that the European Tour packages the event with normal tour stops.

Not that many fans or players are longing for more golf tournaments at most of the venues, which bought their way onto the international stage. But it’s still remarkable to see how quickly so many of the once-vaunted locales either no longer host events, or become lesser stops. In the case of this week’s French Open, once a Rolex Series event, the field’s headliners are Martin Kaymer, Jose Maria Olazabal, Thomas Bjorn and Jamie Donaldson.

But about those past venues, Carter writes:

The Belfry hosted the Ryder Cup on four occasions between 1985 and 2002 and whatever you think of the course, which does have its critics, the layout in the English midlands became a big part of the fabric of European golfing history.

But the Brabazon Course has not staged a Tour event since the 2008 British Masters. Celtic Manor in south Wales disappeared from the schedule in 2014, four years after its Ryder Cup.

The K Club, which hosted the 2006 match in County Kildare, was the continuous home of the European Open between 1995 and 2007. It then disappeared from the calendar other than in 2016 when it held the Irish Open.

Gleneagles staged the 2018 European Team Championships and this year's Solheim Cup but its deal to hold tour events expired the year before putting on the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Only Valderrama (1997 Ryder Cup) in southern Spain has remained a regular stop for the continent's leading players in the wake of holding one of the biennial jousts between Europe and the US.

A similar fate likely awaits Rome’s 2022 Ryder Cup venue, currently undergoing a renovation despite rumblings that a host role was in jeopardy.

Meanwhile at least the Old Course is hosting the 2023 Walker Cup!

Tue, 15 Oct 2019 02:55:34 GMT

A grand day for European Tour Chief Keith Pelley and friends bypassing the push to have a joint men’s and women’s event, or a mixed couples tourney. Instead, men and women will be in the same field, playing for the same purse. With ranking points and various “race” points on the line, the event has a legitimacy that others have lacked.

First, the press release:

The European Tour and Ladies European Tour today jointly announce Major Champions Henrik Stenson and Annika Sörenstam will host an innovative mixed event in Sweden next year with men and women going head-to-head for the first time on the same course competing for one prize fund and one trophy.

As part of the European Tour’s commitment to inclusivity in golf, the inaugural Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika will feature 78 men and 78 women at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Stockholm from June 11-14, 2020 and will be co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Ladies European Tour.

Hosted by Sweden’s most successful male and female golfers for the next three years and with a prize fund of €1,500,000 for the entire field, the tournament will offer Official World Ranking points for both Tours, plus Race to Dubai and Ryder Cup points for European Tour members, and Order of Merit points for the Ladies European Tour.

Wow. Well done. Since those silly matters traditionally hold things up even though fans could care less.

The event will enter a new era next year with Ryder Cup star Stenson confirmed to play the next three years and ten-time Major winner Sörenstam, who retired from competitive golf in 2008, to play in the tournament pro-ams. Swedish golf fans will be able to watch a host of the world’s top male and female golfers in Stockholm next year before the tournament rotates venues in 2021 and 2022.

“I’m extremely excited to host the Scandinavian Mixed alongside Annika, one of the best golfers the world has seen, and to have men and women competing alongside one another showcases what is great about our game,” said Stenson, an 11-time European Tour winner.

“The European Tour has been leading the way in terms of innovative formats and I believe this is certainly one that can be part of the way golf is played in the future. Making our game accessible to everyone is something I am extremely passionate about having worked with Fanny Sunesson for a number of years hosting the Stenson Sunesson Junior Challenge, as well as promoting Paragolf in Sweden through the Henrik Stenson Foundation, so I am delighted to have this new event for both male and female professional golfers in Sweden.”

Sörenstam added: “I’m delighted to host the Scandinavian Mixed alongside Henrik in Sweden for the next three years. Bringing women and men together in a combined tournament is exciting for fans in Sweden and for the global game as we continue to showcase golf is a game for everyone.

“Since retiring from competitive golf in 2008, I have dedicated a lot of my time to the ANNIKA Foundation, which hosts seven global events for junior girls each year including the ANNIKA Invitational Europe.  This mixed tournament is another way to bring our game to the younger generation in Sweden and for those watching around the world.” 

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the European Tour, said: “Inclusivity and innovation are two of our key pillars and we are delighted to have global stars in Henrik and Annika leading the way as hosts of the Scandinavian Mixed in their home country of Sweden as we continue to drive golf further.

Nice “drive golf further” brand refresh incorporation from the Chief Executive. That’s some serious living under par.

“We have been in close collaboration with the women’s game in recent years, not only on the European Tour, but also across the European Challenge Tour and Staysure Tour with events held in Northern Ireland and Jordan. This tournament is the next step for male and female golfers to compete together on one course, for one prize fund, and one trophy.”

Alexandra Armas, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Ladies European Tour, added: “This is a pivotal moment for European golf. This new tournament in Sweden will be an innovative and inclusive new offering which will elevate our sport to the next level and advance gender balance, ultimately showing that golf is a game for all. Sweden has always produced a wealth of world class golfers and we look forward to having a strong field featuring the best Swedish women including major winners and those whom featured in Europe’s sensational Solheim Cup victory last month.”

Björn Örås, Founder of Bro Hof Slott Golf Club, said: “We are thrilled Bro Hof Slott Golf Club will host the inaugural Scandinavian Mixed tournament in 2020. Henrik and Annika have done so much over the years promoting golf in Sweden, and they will yet again use our game to bring men and women together on the world stage. We are excited to see some of the stars of the European Tour and Ladies European Tour tee it up at Bro Hof Slott next year.”

One of the major successes on the European Tour has been the continuation of women professionals in the format for GolfSixes and the concept of men and women competing together remains prominent with the announcement of the Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika, inspired by the vision in Swedish golf and emphasis on equal opportunities.

In addition to GolfSixes Cascais, men and women professionals will play together at the Trophée Hassan II tournament in Morocco in June, as well as at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia in February.

And while those are nice events, the idea of everyone playing for the same purse and trophy should prove intriguing.

Alistair Tait at Golfweek says this is a long overdue innovation from the innovative team in Europe looking to interest new fans:

About time, too, say I and many more like me who want to see the increasingly moribund professional game shaken up. The game’s authorities need to do everything they can to attract new players, especially younger players. England alone lost approximately 300,000 club members in a 10-year period between 2007-2017. While the proportion of women and juniors has not really moved in all the years I’ve been reporting on golf.

Hopefully this helps the PGA Tour execs long looking for ways to restore some form of mixed events, though it’s hard to picture their constituents accepting an event like this. A better shot is still with a joint Tournament of Champions or mixed team event. Or, should the Presidents Cup be another slaughter this year, perhaps incorporation of women into that to breathe life into a team match that can’t likely survive another lopsided affair.

Mon, 14 Oct 2019 02:30:00 GMT
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Every time you hear someone wax on about how the game does not have a slow play problem, just look where the money is going.

Every time someone bellows on about how an expanding golf course footprint has not been damaging the sport, point them to Topgolf’s growth.

And every time someone mocks the two greatest ever to play the game saying distance is getting out of hand, look where Tiger Woods is investing his efforts.

The surprise “Popstroke” news last week revealed Woods’ support of a modernized miniature golf concept, serving as another reminder that elements of our sport remainl attractive to potential customers and investors. The communal and easy-to-understand components to golf (hit a driver, wack a putt) seem attractive enough that capital continues to go toward settings offering food, live sports-viewing and a putt-putt concept with Woods’ backing.

Why is something similar not happening with golf courses?

It’s tough to name a major name in golf wanting to get in the golf course operations business because there haven’t been any in recent times.

Why isn’t anyone pondering how to finally convince municipalities to pump some much needed money into upgrading the amazing green spaces in their cities?

The narrative with existing golf courses tends to be about a fight-for-survival, as big money and increasingly larger audiences turn to things like Topgolf and Popstroke. The sport sits back and hopes those concepts will be gateways to becoming serious golfers. Dream on as long as the normal golf experience seems like something stuck in a time warp: five hours with so-so service and little respect for our time.

Golf has an issue when these two entities promise something a regular golf experience can’t overcome: reduced time, effort and cost required while still delivering a communal, fun experience. Because of their physical scale, these concepts have the advantage of installing modern elements like television screens for sports viewing and food operations that bring in some just for a good meal. The golf component is not excessively taxing or time consuming. The maintenance budget is a fraction of what it costs to keep a golf course going.

So follow the money. It’s going to concepts that take less time and require less space, in modernized environments that welcome a big audience. When it’s Tiger Woods signing on, maybe the decision-makers who keep deferring on the distance issue will take notice that he’s bullish on a future version of the sport requiring less time and way fewer resources.

Sun, 13 Oct 2019 23:08:13 GMT

As a longtime proponent of the Masters bequeathing invitation status on most PGA Tour events—excluding opposite field weeks—the brief and controversial change in this policy during Hootie Johnson’s tenure seems a thing of the distant past.

When Chairman Billy Payne restored this grand perk of a PGA Tour victory, the logic was solid and the support unanimous. But with the new schedule dynamics and several fall European Tour events crushing the PGA Tour stops in field quality, the Masters should reconsider the automatic and coveted invitation.

The most obvious reason: golf is an international game and the founders of the Masters made special efforts to include foreign-born players. But the more glaring purpose: huge disparities in field strength.

In recent weeks, the BMW PGA Championship, Alfred Dunhill Links and Italian Open all enjoyed decisively superior fields to competing PGA Tour stops:

BMW PGA (416) vs. Sanderson Farms (106)
Alfred Dunhill Links (323) vs. Safeway Open (289)
Italian Open (248) vs. Houston Open (73)

Last week’s Houston Open featured no top 30 players, two from the world top 50 and was the weakest non-opposite week field in nearly five years. The winner, Lanto Griffin, will receive a Masters invitation while the winner of this week’s much stronger Italian Open will likely have to get in off of his world ranking status (Bernd Wieberger also won the Scottish Open

The obvious solution: set a strength of field mark to determine invitations to the Masters. Here’s guessing, however, that the Augusta National Golf Club likely has no desire to get involved in field strength, world ranking and other political dynamics from such a move.

An easier solution? Invite winners of the European Tour’s Rolex Series events. In a worst case scenario, that might expand the Masters field by eight. This is highly unlikely given rankings points and field quality. This year’s Rolex Series winners are all in the 2020 Masters or very likely to be due to their world top 50 status.

While the Official World Golf Ranking is not perfect and top 50 status is given too much power, the system is good enough to determine major fields. And this fall the numbers have not lied: not every PGA Tour event is worthy of helping give out a Masters invitation.

Sun, 13 Oct 2019 04:24:19 GMT

Kevin Na’s emotional comments in Korean following his playoff win last week had more meaning that realized, writes Alan Shipnuck.

In an exclusive interview, Na explains why the win conjured up especially strong feeling: a broken engagement to a native Korean woman. It’s a terrific read, that further highlights the intrigue in a late-Na charge to make the Presidents Cup team, so here’s the teaser:

At the heart of Na’s emotional public statement in Vegas is the lingering fallout from the broken engagement with a native Korean woman whose last name is Chung; her identity is a secret in the Korean press and Na declined to provide her first name, saying, “It’s part of what’s unfair about this situation — I’m a public figure and get no privacy while she gets to hide her identity. But I don’t want to reveal it because that would feel like a low blow.” They met in the spring of 2013 through a matchmaker and were engaged before year’s end. They were to be married in November 2014 but the relationship ended a month before the wedding.

In Korean culture, calling off a wedding is a big deal. In October 2014, Na was in Seoul to compete in the Korean Open. The families agreed to meet. It was supposed to be just the formerly-betrothed and their parents but the Chung family brought along a man described as an uncle who turned out to be their attorney, Sukhwa Lee. In Na’s mind the gathering was a respectful way to formally end the engagement and gain closure, but in his telling the Chung family was still trying to salvage the union by any means necessary. Says Na, “Her dad told me, If you don’t change your mind and marry my daughter I’m coming after you.”

Shipnuck discussed the story on Morning Drive:

Thu, 10 Oct 2019 17:04:06 GMT
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Today’s announcement was the first time I’ve ever heard of Popstroke, which already has one Port St. Lucie, Florida location. But by all appearances the concept is pretty simple: a modernized version of putt-putt courses, apparently minus the bad sound systems, windmills and pirate themes.

Essentially, a Topgolf vibe, only with a fun putting course, better food and TV’s to watch sports. Pricing seems reasonable, assuming the technology works and it’s fun.

Given how much Topgolf is thriving, the concept seems pretty smart. Tiger’s backing can’t hurt.

Adam Schupak with some of the details for Golfweek, including the basic structure of the venture and this related to the experience:

The PopStroke experience is enhanced with a technology platform consisting of the soon-to-be released electronic scorekeeping golf ball, the “iPutt” ball. The ball transmits scores electronically to the custom PopStroke app, which can be downloaded in the Apple and Android App stores. Players will be able to compete against each other in a tournament environment while earning “Pop Bucks” through the PopStroke loyalty rewards app program.

Pricing seems reasonable, assuming the technology works and it’s fun.

Schupak also notes that the company board’s initial makeup includes PopStroke founder Greg Bartoli and Pete Bevacqua, former CEO of the PGA of America and president of NBC Sports.

Compared to Topgolf, the footprint needed for one of these appears quite small. From Google Earth:

Thu, 10 Oct 2019 04:44:33 GMT

It’s been swell to read all of the positive reviews this week of Tom Doak and Brooks Koepka’s renovation of Memorial Park, host to next year’s Houston Open.

But as Brentley Romine writes, a fall date on the PGA Tour is not an easy sell to players. Will the rejuvenation of a muni make a difference next year?

In a world where many pro events are contested on private or expensive courses, the addition of Memorial Park to the Tour equation in Houston is a breath of fresh air.

“One week out of the year the PGA Tour is going to play an amazing golf course that was actually built for them, built with them in mind, but with the different teeing areas, for the other 51 weeks out of the year, the citizens of Houston are going to be able to play a world-class golf course for a reasonable amount of money,” Harmon said.

“… The city is going to love it. Everybody’s going to want to play there.”

But will the Tour’s stars? This year’s Houston Open field marks the weakest non-opposite-field event in nearly five years, according to the Official World Golf Ranking, which rates the strength of field a 73.

Either way, the story of a public course rejuvenation is always more important to golf than the coming and goings of PGA Tour players who, uh, come and go like ships in the night. So either way, 2020 at Memorial Park should be special.

Butch Harmon posted some nice images of next year’s venue on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

Was out at Memorial Park course in Houston . The new home of the Houston Open next year . Wonderful redo of a great old public course . Tom Doak has done a fabulous job. I love that it has 5 par 3’s and a double decker driving range with 84 bay’s. #2 is 160 yds, #7 is 210 yds, #9 is 180 yds, #11 is 230 yds, # 15 is 150 yds.

A post shared by Coup43 (@coup4359) on

Wed, 09 Oct 2019 03:02:55 GMT
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There aren’t many clubs of decade-old vintages in professional bags, especially with the history of Henrik Stenson’s Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood. The club was vital to a silver medal, a FedExCup win, a Race to Dubai victory and most famous of all, Stenson’s stunning Open win over Phil Mickelson.

PGATour.com’s Andrew Tursky with the story of how many Diablo’s Stenson went through before a caved face has him ready to move to 2019 technology.

“It’s always sad when one of the trusties has to retire,” Stenson told PGATOUR.COM on Tuesday at the Country Club of Houston.

Stenson’s Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood, initially released to the public in 2011, was famously equipped with a Grafalloy Blue shaft that came out in 2003  -- and  Stenson hit rockets with it.

Having dropped to 207th in the world at the end of 2011 after a difficult year, Stenson regained the kind of form he previously showed in winning the 2009 PLAYERS Championship. By the end of 2013, he was world No. 3.

In 2016, he was forced to change into a backup version of the club due to wear and tear. He then had to give up that backup in 2017 for the same reason but stuck with the same model.

Wed, 09 Oct 2019 02:52:35 GMT
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Considering the cash grab that was last year’s European Tour stop in Saudi Arabia was played in front of tiny galleries, dented the legacy of Chief Executive Keith Pelley and epitomized the worst imaginable appearance fee looks in modern sports, there was some hope players would say no to the loathsome Kingdom in 2020.

Dustin Johnson at least has the excuse he’s defending champion. Brooks Koepka, who plays for trophies and not for money, just can’t wait to soak up those Red Sea views, according to a quote someone wrote for him.

“I’m excited to be returning to Saudi Arabia, after an enjoyable visit last year,” Koepka said. “The golf course is one of the best I’ve played in the region, with incredible scenery, including some breathtaking views of the Red Sea.

“The event is an opportunity to showcase the work being done to grow the game of golf in the Kingdom, which was evidenced by the enthusiastic fans last year. It is great to be involved with the initiative and I look forward to seeing the progress Golf Saudi has made in the past year.”

Johnson’s quote also wheeled out the dreaded grow word.

“It’s great to see how Golf Saudi has strengthened its commitment to create a world-class golf event and plans to grow golf in the region are in full swing. It’s an honour to be a part of it.”

Why not just say something like, “the appearance fees are amazing, the Crown Prince’s money spends the same as any other direct deposit, and the event falls perfectly on my planned schedule”?

Wed, 09 Oct 2019 02:38:52 GMT
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While the mystique of the Sheep Ranch was fun, that such an extraordinary stretch of coastline with Coore and Crenshaw architecture will soon be available to the public, is better.

From Jason Lusk’s Golfweek report on Bandon Dunes resort announcing the official opening date.

The original 13 greens with an unset, play-as-you-like routing built by Tom Doak lay just across Whiskey Run Lane to the north of Old Macdonald, one of four existing 18-hole layouts at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in southwestern Oregon. The property wasn’t walled off or exactly private, but golfers needed to know whom to ask to secure a tee time.

That all changes June 1, 2020, with the highly anticipated opening of the Sheep Ranch.

Bulldozers and construction crews replaced those 13 greens in the past year, as Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed a new 18-hole course that will feature nine greens on the hundred-foot cliffs above the Pacific Ocean.

You can read more at the official site. And here’s a teaser:

Tue, 08 Oct 2019 03:05:00 GMT
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It’s a go!

Long-rumored to be in jeopardy, the 2022 Ryder Cup outside Rome seems to be on track, and without a power line in sight! Then again they are graphic depictions including the all important buggies so prospective Vice Captains can start planning routes.

 For Immediate Release:

It will be the first time The Ryder Cup has been played in Italy, with the country following England, Scotland, Spain, Ireland, Wales and France as European nations to host the biennial contest between Europe and the United States.

The dates for the 2022 contest – which include the three build-up days of Tuesday September 27, Wednesday September 28 and Thursday September 29, 2022 – were confirmed today by Ryder Cup Europe at the start of the Italian Open week, with six players from Europe’s victorious 2018 Ryder Cup Team – Paul Casey, Tyrrell Hatton, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose – in the field for the Rolex Series event, alongside the winning 2018 Captain Thomas Bjørn and the 2020 European Captain Padraig Harrington.

Marco Simone, which is on the outskirts of the Italian capital Rome, is currently undergoing an extensive renovation programme in preparation for hosting golf’s greatest team contest.

These graphics, in addition to a flyover animation of the tenth, 11th and 16th holes, offer the first glimpse of what the course will look like when it welcomes some of the world’s leading golfers in three years’ time.

These holes are part of nine constructed since last September and they are now in the growing phase, with the overall project set to enter its second phase this week.

This second phase comprises the construction of the remaining nine holes with work due to be completed by May 2020, allowing growing to take place over that summer. Alongside the work to the course, the clubhouse and practice facilities will also be fully refurbished, to allow Marco Simone to host the Italian Open in autumn 2021.

European Golf Design is responsible for the redesign project, creating a world-class golf course inside the ropes, in addition to a purpose-built venue outside the ropes to allow spectators to view The 2022 Ryder Cup from as many natural vantage points as possible.  

Guy Kinnings, European Ryder Cup Director, said: “The success of Francesco Molinari at last year’s Ryder Cup, alongside his Open Championship and Race to Dubai victories, has been a huge boost for golf in Italy. Interest continues to build and today’s announcement of the dates is another significant milestone in the country’s journey to hosting its first Ryder Cup.”

Gian Paolo Montali, General Director of the Ryder Cup 2022 Project, said: “Our commitment for The Ryder Cup 2022 project is not only to host an iconic sport event, but also to leave a legacy for Italy and the Italian people. With the work being carried out at Marco Simone, The 2022 Ryder Cup course will become a sporting “pilgrimage” site that will continue to attract golfers for many years and will help develop to economic income through golf tourism.

 “We are ambitious and these images give fans around the world a taste of what they can expect in September 2022. Today marks another important step in our journey towards hosting Italy’s first Ryder Cup with the announcement of the dates and we must say thank you once again to Franco Chimenti. He is the one who had the vision and the courage to bring this fascinating competition to Italy.”

Lavinia Biagiotti, President of Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, said: “We are very proud to be the host venue of The 2022 Ryder Cup and the announcement of the dates makes today an exciting one for everyone involved at Marco Simone.

“We have been working closely with Ryder Cup Europe and the Italian Golf Federation, along with European Golf Design and Tom Fazio II, to use the natural environment around the millenary tower of the Marco Simone Castle to create a top class venue designed to host The Ryder Cup, one of the world’s biggest sporting events.” 

The impact of The Ryder Cup is also being felt further afield in Italy through the Road to Rome initiative run by the FIG.

Last October, the Road to Rome visited Terrazza dei Cannoni on Castel dell’Ovo in Naples for Golf in the Piazza and a month later, more than 2,500 people visited Città di Lombardia in Milan, where the centrepiece was a putting green inside the Belvedere on the 39th floor of the Palazzo Lombardia.

In February, more than 100 students met the players from Italy’s national teams met at Marco Simone and Golf in the Piazza then visited Parma, with more than 4,000 people attending the event at Piazza Garibaldi.

To launch the Italian Open week, the Ryder Cup visited Villa Borghese for Golf in Piazza for the latest stop on the Road to Rome on Sunday and this Wednesday (Oct 9) the third Junior Road to the 2022 Ryder Cup takes place between two teams of 12 of Italy’s best young players.

The 10th, 11th and 16th holes were posted 10 months ago from European Golf Design working in conjunction with Tom Fazio II. This is the same footage used for the release today:

Tue, 08 Oct 2019 01:57:39 GMT
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Ian Poulter’s signature 2018 Houston Open victory wasn’t enough to draw him away from the European Tour, nor is the move to fall’s more appealing weather attracting any top players to the new-look Houston Open.

Will Gray on Poulter’s decision:

But Poulter's allegiance to Europe also plays a role in his decision. The Italian Open is a lucrative Rolex Series event, bringing with it an increased purse ($7 million versus the $7.5 million up for grabs in Houston) and offering qualification points toward making the 2020 Ryder Cup team. This event was also the site of Poulter's first career Euro Tour win back in 2000, and he also won it in 2002 - the last time that Olgiata Golf Club, this year's venue, hosted the event.

As for the field, headliners put into Featured Groups includes no World Top 30 players, yet its winner earns 500 FedExCup points and a likely invitation to the Masters. (OWGR strength of field numbers have not been posted).

Check this out:

A “weak” 24 level event puts the Houston event in the John Deere Classic, Sanderson Farms, opposite field camp and highlights how, even with a huge golf supporter and friend of the game Jim Crane attempting to maintain a PGA Tour presence in America’s fourth largest (golf loving) city accessible from anywhere in the United States within three hours.

Furthermore, there may be too much “content” when players outside the world top 2000 are getting in on some sort of Tour status. Among the tournament alternates are retirees and volunteer assistant golf coaches.

The tournament director is not hiding his frustration with the field quality, reports Golf.com’s Art Stricklin.

“I’ve been doing this for 13 months and I know I’ve looked a lot of players in the eye who said they were coming and they are not here,” tournament director Colby Callaway told GOLF.com. “So, I’m a little surprised, but it is what it is.”

Meanwhile the European Tour’s Italian Open field also includes Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Francesco Molinari and the Champion Golfer of the Year, Shane Lowry.

Mon, 07 Oct 2019 15:58:22 GMT
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The PGA Tour says in today’s release that the newly-announced every shot, “live on-demand” is the eventual goal for all golf coverage. Bold!

In conjunction with NBC Sports Gold, the tour will roll out the first attempt at the 2020 Players, just weeks prior to the Masters, where a slightly tape-delayed on-demand debuted in 2019 with mostly great success (things were rough at the start and some shots never were captured).

The technology and concept is undoubtedly exciting, but it does the raise the question": how people will watch golf going forward. Given the length of a round, the number of variables involved and the slow nature of the sport, the act of sitting down to watch one or two groups go about their round, minus announcing and other storytelling elements, seems like a big ask. Perhaps those who have fantasy pool or waging implications at stake will pay for the privilege, as will family and friends of players.

The technology seems far more compelling in the Presidents Cup or WGC Dell Match Play, where such formats make you want to follow the mini-dramas within a match. But even then, you need announcing and other production elements to make for compelling viewing.

Anyway, For Immediate Release:

PGA TOUR, and NBC Sports Group announce live streaming of every shot during THE PLAYERS Championship in 2020

Marks the first time ever fans can follow every shot by every player live 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – For the first time ever in golf, every shot by every player will be live-streamed from a full-field tournament when THE PLAYERS Championship returns to TPC Sawgrass, March 12-15, allowing fans to follow any player in the elite field, all four rounds.  All of this revolutionary coverage will be available to PGA TOUR LIVE subscribers on either NBC Sports Gold or Amazon Prime Video Channels.

“The PGA TOUR is the most content-rich sport on the planet and we have been focused on expanding the amount of content we bring to our fans from our competitions,” said Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer for the TOUR.  “Our vision is to bring every shot in every PGA TOUR golf tournament live and on-demand to our fans, and this is the first step to making that happen.”

PGA TOUR Entertainment and NBC Sports Group will accomplish the monumental task of showcasing more than 32,000 shots over 72 holes from a starting field of 144 – live – by utilizing nearly 120 cameras positioned throughout THE PLAYERS Stadium Course, with each group having its own dedicated stream.

“Every shot of THE PLAYERS on PGA TOUR LIVE is a natural next step in the innovative partnership between NBC Sports and the PGA TOUR that spans nearly 60 years,” said Mike McCarley, president, GOLF, NBC Sports Group. “Super-serving golf fans with more comprehensive coverage of THE PLAYERS is emblematic of our commitment to elevating this championship and builds upon our success in adding enhancements to PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold.” 

PGA TOUR LIVE already has expanded its coverage for the 2019-20 PGA TOUR Season by adding early round featured groups coverage from seven events between September and December. This includes, for the first time ever, live streaming of “featured matches” all four days of competition from the upcoming Presidents Cup at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia (December 12-15, 2019).

All told, approximately 140 hours of additional live content is available, bringing more than 1,100 total hours to subscribers and extending live content across each month of the calendar year. With NBC Sports Gold and Prime Video Channels being available on dozens of connected devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast, connected device consumption has spiked to about one-third of total minutes in 2019.

Further, the PGA TOUR will be launching an all-new TOURCast product that will allow fans to follow every shot from each group with a beautiful 3D rendering of the golf course and shot trails.  The new TOURCast platform will also include deep access to the PGA TOUR’s ShotLink powered by CDW data, as well as video clips of every single shot available for fans to see, on demand.  The launch of TOURCast at THE PLAYERS will mark the start of every event in the PGA TOUR Season through the FedExCup Playoffs being offered on the platform. TOURCast will be available on the PGA TOUR’s mobile apps and website.  

“Since the launch of PGA TOUR LIVE four years ago, fans have consistently asked when they would be able to watch every shot of every player's round live as it happens.  We are thrilled to be able to do this for the first time at THE PLAYERS Championship in 2020,” said Luis Goicouria, the TOUR’s Senior Vice President of Media.  “THE PLAYERS Championship has long been the tournament where the TOUR debuts the newest technology, including LIVE@ 17, our first Virtual Reality experience, and the PGA TOUR Augmented Reality iPhone app, just to name a few.”

TOURCast, which originally launched in 2003 as a state-of-the-art graphical scoring platform that provided unprecedented tournament coverage, won an Emmy in 2005. “We’re very excited to bring back a greatly enhanced version of it to a new generation of fans, utilizing the latest technology and data,” Goicouria added.

From the historic competition to an iconic golf course with an unparalleled fan experience, THE PLAYERS is uncompromising in its pursuit to deliver the best. The 144-player field represents the strongest collection of players assembled each season, competing on Pete Dye’s masterpiece, THE PLAYERS Stadium Course, that favors no single style of play and demands excellence in every facet of the game.

THE PLAYERS also was the first tournament conceived with the fan as its focal point. From the original design incorporating viewing mounds, to embracing change to deliver the best experience in the modern game, THE PLAYERS provides the highest expression of hospitality and entertainment. Morgan Stanley, Grant Thornton LLP and Optum are the exclusive Proud Partners of THE PLAYERS.

Mon, 07 Oct 2019 06:24:00 GMT

Good stuff from Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch on the upcoming Skins game match-up reminding us that a combination of changing economics and the continued elevation of majors translates to little buzz. Especially when the attempts to create interest fall flat (below).

The Challenge was touted in coordinated social media posts and press releases that exhibited all the spontaneity of a North Korean military parade. “There has always been some friendly banter between us, and that will continue until we get to the first tee,” Woods said with the kind of passion money can’t buy.

“There are so many fun elements to The Challenge that will have me wanting to take home that title,” McIlroy pitched in gamely.

In fairness, the bar is low for this year’s “The Challenge” to outperform last year’s “The Match,” when Woods and Phil Mickelson asked viewers to pay $20 for awkward trash talking that was less amusing than what you’d hear from a couple of over-served middle managers jostling on a crowded commuter train home.

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