Wednesday, July 17

The Wall Street Caddy: The Open at Royal Portrush and the Legacy of Allan Robertson

Embed from Getty Images

By Mark Vigil

Guest contributor Mark Vigil is The Wall Street Caddy.


FOR ONLY THE SECOND TIME, The Open Championship, often referred to as the British Open, will be held outside of Great Britain. This year the tournament will be played in Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush, the host in 1951.

The fact that the tournament is being hosted at a venue outside of Great Britain has flamed the annual debate in the golf world, and the related teeth gnashing and Imperial pride as to the tournament's proper name.

Is it the British Open or The Open Championship? A London sportswriter is so aghast the event is not being hosted in Great Britain that he called it the United Kingdom Open!

Royal Portrush originally opened for play in 1891 and was christened a "Royal" in 1895 by the Prince of Wales. The current routing, the Dunluce Links, bears little resemblance to the original layout. From 1929-1932 Harry Colt re-designed the course, bringing to life a classic links challenge which meanders amongst the dunes and is populated with jaw-dropping views of the Antrim coastline.

Harry Colt was the first true golf course designer who was not a golfer; he was a lawyer by trade. In 1919 Colt worked with George Crump to design Pine Valley Golf Club in America, and in 1928 he partnered with Charles Alison, John Morrison and Alister MacKenzie to form Colt, Alison & Morrison Ltd., working their magic on over 300 golf courses worldwide.

Portrush is a quant seaside village located in County Antrim, and home to the Giant's Causeway, a geological wonder comprised of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Despite Colt's gem at the Dunluce Links, it is the Giant's Causeway that brings visitors to Portrush.

According to Irish mythology, the Giant's Causeway was built by two giants, the Irish hero Fion Mac Fionn and the Scottish giant Benandonner. Apparently, Benandonner challenged Fion to a duel and each giant built part of the Causeway over the northern channel to wage battle. Legend has it that Fion defeated Benandonner, and as Benandonner retreated to Scotland, he smashed the Causeway to prevent Fion from pursuing him. There is an identical matching causeway located in Scotland on the Isle of Staffa at Fingal's Cave formed by the same geological lava flow.

Embed from Getty Images

The first time outside of Great Britain was in 1951 when the R&A hosted the Open at Royal Portrush. Max Faulkner hoisted the Claret Jug that year with a winning score of 285.

An interesting side note is the Claret Jug is not the original trophy. Nope, a Challenge Belt was awarded to the winner who was deemed the champion golfer of the year. Upon the tournament's inception, it was agreed that if anyone won the event three times in a row, they could keep the Challenge Belt.

In 1870 Young Tom Morris accomplished this feat (he won four times in a row!) and a new trophy was needed. The three clubs in the Open rota, Preswick, the R&A, and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, each contributed £10 to fund the cost of a new trophy, the Claret Jug, which is inscribed "The Golf Champion Trophy." It was made by Mackay Cunningham & Company of Edinburgh, and it was first awarded in 1873.

The Open tournament and the Challenge Belt's genesis are due to the unexpected death of Allan Robertson in 1859 at 43 from an attack of jaundice.

His death left unanswered as to who was the best golfer in the land. As such, in 1860 an "Open" tournament was organized and held at Prestwick, a 12-hole gem designed by Old Tom Morris, to crown Allan Robertson's heir as the Champion Golfer of the Year.

Twelve combatants played three rounds. Willie Park Sr. prevailed with a winning score of 174.

Allan Robertson (1815-1859) was Custodian of the Green at the Links of St. Andrews (only called the Old Course after 1895 when the New Course opened for play). Robertson was the preeminent feathery golf ball maker of his day, and without a doubt he was the best golfer of his era.

Allan Robertson
In 1843 Robertson famously defeated Willie Dunn Sr. in a challenge match played over 20 rounds in 10 days. Oral history tells us Robertson never lost a challenge match. For many years he teamed with Old Tom Morris, defeating all comers in foursomes. They were known as "The Invincibles." This partnership enabled both Robertson and Morris to elevate their financial status from near poverty into the Victorian middle class, another amazing feat! Robertson was also the first golfer to break 80 on the Links at St. Andrews.

Unfortunately, many golfers have never heard of Allan Robertson, nor do they appreciate his contributions to the grand game. Thankfully, the R&A has appropriately honored Allan Robertson by naming its new, state-of-the-art research and design center the Allan Robertson House.

However, it is the Open Championship which represents Allan Robertson's true legacy. So, is it the United Kingdom Open this year, the British Open, or The Open Championship?

Personally, I believe it does not matter. If it was up to me, I would call it the Allan Robertson Classic.

Mark Vigil is founder of Class 5 Advisors LLC, an advisory firm. He is a master caddy, and he is also a passionate links golf enthusiast who has traveled extensively throughout Scotland seeking out links courses. He is currently writing a book entitled, Searching for the Spirit of Old Tom Morris. You can follow Mark on Instagram at #golfbyrails

Tuesday, July 16

The 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club: Tee Times, History, Course Preview



THE 148TH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP tees off on Thursday at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. The only other time the Open was played at Royal Portrush was 68 years ago when Englishman Max Faulkner prevailed. A field of 156 professionals and amateurs will compete this time. Francesco Molinari is the defending champion.

Watch the video to learn more and preview the championship layout.

Following are tee times for the first two rounds. All times Eastern.

THURSDAY, ROUND 1

1:35 a.m. Darren Clarke, James Sugrue (a), Charley Hoffman

1:46 a.m. Emiliano Grillo, Sung Kang, Thomas Thurloway (a)

1:57 a.m. Andy Sullivan, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Alexander Levy

2:08 a.m. Chan Kim, Zander Lombard, Brandon Wu (a)

2:19 a.m. Richard Sterne, Romain Langasque, Matthias Schmid (a)

2:30 a.m. Padraig Harrington, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Andrew Putnam

2:41 a.m. Bubba Watson, Eddie Pepperell, Rafa Cabrera-Bello

2:52 a.m. Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, Branden Grace

3:03 a.m. Alex Noren, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Sam Locke

3:14 a.m. Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, C.T. Pan

3:25 a.m. Ryan Palmer, Andrea Pavan, Dylan Frittelli

3:36 a.m. Kyle Stanley, Robert MacIntyre, Andrew "Beef" Johnston

3:47 a.m. Mikko Korhonen, Oliver Wilson, Curtis Knipes (a)

4:03 a.m. Ian Poulter, Sungjae Im, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

4:14 a.m. Henrik Stenson, Xander Schauffele, Graeme McDowell

4:25 a.m. Haotong Li, Russell Knox, Bernd Weisberger

4:36 a.m. Jason Kokrak, Connor Syme, Austin Connelly

4:47 a.m. Zach Johnson, David Duval, Corey Conners

4:58 a.m. Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Scott

5:09 a.m. Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland, Paul Casey

5:20 a.m. Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner, Hideki Matsuyama

5:31 a.m. Jim Furyk, Si-Woo Kim, Jimmy Walker

5:42 a.m. Luke Lista, Alexander Bjork, Paul Waring

5:53 a.m. Shugo Imahira, Nate Lashley, Benjamin Herbert

6:04 a.m. Mikumu Horikawa, Callum Shinkwin, Garrick Porteous

6:15 a.m. Prom Messawat, Matthew Baldwin, Jack Senior

6:36 a.m. Tom Lehman, Joaquin Niemann, Miguel Angel Jimenez

6:47 a.m. Byeong Hun An, Jorge Campillo, Chris Wood

6:58 a.m. Joel Dahmen, Adri Arnaus, Dimitrios Papadatos

7:09 a.m. Stewart Cink, Rory Sabbatini, Innchoon Hwang

7:20 a.m. Erik Van Rooyen, Kurt Kitayama, Jake McLeod

7:31 a.m. Ryan Fox, Shaun Norris, Dongkyu Jang

7:42 a.m. Tyrrell Hatton, Keith Mitchell, Thomas Pieters

7:53 a.m. Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Thorbjorn Olesen

8:04 a.m. Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Shubhankar Sharma

8:15 a.m. Billy Horschel, Jazz Janewattananond, Aaron Wise

8:26 a.m. Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Danny Willett

8:37 a.m. Cameron Smith, Adam Hadwin, David Lipsky

8:48 a.m. Paul Lawrie, Chez Reavie, Justin Harding

9:04 a.m. Takumi Kanaya (a), Tom Lewis, Brandon Stone

9:15 a.m. Lucas Glover, Joost Luiten, Nino Bertasio

9:26 a.m. Ernie Els, J.B. Holmes, Abraham Ancer

9:37 a.m. Brandt Snedeker, Lee Westwood, Brian Harman

9:48 a.m. Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Lucas Bjerregaard

9:59 a.m. Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley

10:10 a.m. Tiger Woods, Matt Wallace, Patrick Reed

10:21 a.m. Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar

10:32 a.m. Kevin Streelman, Doc Redman, Robert Rock

10:43 a.m. Adrian Otaegui, Yuta Ikeda, Isidro Benitez

10:54 a.m. Patton Kizzire, Sang Hyun Park, Yuki Inamori

11:05 a.m. Yoshinori Fujimoto, Doyeob Mun, Andrew Wilson

11:16 a.m. Gunn Charoenkul, Yosuke Asaji, Ashton Turner

Embed from Getty Images

FRIDAY, ROUND 2

1:35 a.m. Tom Lehman, Joaquin Niemann, Miguel Angel Jimenez

1:46 a.m. Byeong Hun An, Jorge Campillo, Chris Wood

1:57 a.m. Joel Dahmen, Adri Arnaus, Dimitrios Papadatos

2:08 a.m. Stewart Cink, Rory Sabbatini, Innchoon Hwang

2:19 a.m. Erik Van Rooyen, Kurt Kitayama, Jake McLeod

2:30 a.m. Ryan Fox, Shaun Norris, Dongkyu Jang

2:41 a.m. Tyrrell Hatton, Keith Mitchell, Thomas Pieters

2:52 a.m. Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Thorbjorn Olesen

3:03 a.m. Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Shubhankar Sharma

3:14 a.m. Billy Horschel, Jazz Janewattananond, Aaron Wise

3:25 a.m. Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Danny Willett

3:36 a.m. Cameron Smith, Adam Hadwin, David Lipsky

3:47 a.m. Paul Lawrie, Chez Reavie, Justin Harding

4:03 a.m. Takumi Kanaya (a), Tom Lewis, Brandon Stone

4:14 a.m. Lucas Glover, Joost Luiten, Nino Bertasio

4:25 a.m. Ernie Els, J.B. Holmes, Abraham Ancer

4:36 a.m Brandt Snedeker, Lee Westwood, Brian Harman

4:47 a.m Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Lucas Bjerregaard

4:58 a.m. Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley

5:09 a.m. Tiger Woods, Matt Wallace, Patrick Reed

5:20 a.m. Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar

5:31 a.m. Kevin Streelman, Doc Redman, Robert Rock

5:42 a.m. Adrian Otaegui, Yuta Ikeda, Isidro Benitez

5:53 a.m. Patton Kizzire, Sang Hyun Park, Yuki Inamori

6:04 a.m. Yoshinori Fujimoto, Doyeob Mun, Andrew Wilson

6:15 a.m. Gunn Charoenkul, Yosuke Asaji, Ashton Tur

6:36 a.m. Darren Clarke, James Sugrue (a), Charley Hoffman

6:47 a.m. Emiliano Grillo, Sung Kang, Thomas Thurloway (a)

6:58 a.m. Andy Sullivan, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Alexander Levy

7:09 a.m. Chan Kim, Zander Lombard, Brandon Wu (a)

7:20 a.m. Richard Sterne, Romain Langasque, Matthias Schmid (a)

7:31 a.m. Padraig Harrington, Matthew Fitzpatrick Andrew Putnam

7:42 a.m. Bubba Watson, Eddie Pepperell, Rafa Cabrera-Bello

7:53 a.m. Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, Branden Grace

8:04 a.m. Alex Noren, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Sam Locke

8:15 a.m. Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, C.T. Pan

8:26 a.m. Ryan Palmer, Andrea Pavan, Dylan Frittelli

8:37 a.m. Kyle Stanley, Robert MacIntyre, Andrew 'Beef' Johnston

8:48 a.m. Mikko Korhonen, Oliver Wilson, Curtis Knipes (a)

9:04 a.m. Ian Poulter, Sungjae Im, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

9:15 a.m. Henrik Stenson, Xander Schauffele, Graeme McDowell

9:26 a.m. Haotong Li, Russell Knox, Bernd Weisberger

9:37 a.m. Jason Kokrak, Connor Syme, Austin Connelly

9:48 a.m. Zach Johnson, David Duval, Corey Conners

9:59 a.m. Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Scott

10:10 a.m. Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland, Paul Casey

10:21 a.m. Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner, Hideki Matsuyama

10:32 a.m. Jim Furyk, Si-Woo Kim, Jimmy Walker

10:43 a.m. Luke Lista, Alexander Bjork, Paul Waring

10:54 a.m. Shugo Imahira, Nate Lashley, Benjamin Herbert

11:05 a.m. Mikumu Horikawa, Callum Shinkwin, Garrick Porteous

11:16 a.m. Prom Messawat, Matthew Baldwin, Jack Senior

Saturday, July 13

Matt Kuchar on Difficult Year: 'An Opportunity to Learn to Be More Generous'

Embed from Getty Images

AS JOEL BEALL WRITES AT GOLFDIGEST.COM, it's been a hard year for Matt Kuchar, despite two wins for the 41-year-old tour veteran and current leader in the FedEx Cup standings.

Kuchar's reputation as a perpetually smiling good guy took a nosedive beginning in January when "Kooch" paid local caddie David Ortiz a pittance after his victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. The situation festered until Kuchar eventually wrote a much larger check to Ortiz and issued a public apology.

There were a couple more incidents during this season that challenged the perception of Kuchar as "Mr. Nice Guy."

Kuchar, who isn't on social media, knew things were in a new phase of bad when he started hearing from his grandmother. "Just the fact that she had called me to say, 'I can’t believe what they're saying' was hard," he said, as quoted by Beall.

Beall also quoted Kuchar on the takeaway:

"You know, whether it's home with the family, with the kids, with the wife, with the fans, with you name it, there's just so many opportunities to be more generous," Kuchar said, "and that's one of the things you learn. Sometimes the setbacks are hard, but those are the lessons that you tend to learn from and come out better from.

"You don't learn from victories very often; you learn from your setbacks. And I look at all this as an opportunity to learn to be more generous across the board."

Thursday, July 11

Review: 'Loopers: The Caddie's Long Walk'

Embed from Getty Images

By John Coyne

Bestselling author John Coyne became a caddie at Midlothian Country Club when he was 10 and oversaw the caddie yard as a teenager. Learn about his golf novels at JohnCoyneBooks.com.

CADDIES HAVE FEATURED IN A surprising number of movies, including funny ones (Caddyshack), pretentious ones (The Legend of Bagger Vance), and even sexy ones (Tin Cup, although arguably the golfer in that one, Kevin Costner, is way sexier than the caddy, Cheech Marin).

But there has never been such a serious film about the second most important role in golf as a new documentary, Loopers: The Caddie's Long Walk.

Narrated by Bill Murray, who caddied as a teenager on the west side of Chicago, the film tells the story of golf from the caddie's point of view, beginning with the first royal golfer, Mary Queen of Scots, who is often credited with coining the term caddie.

The role of caddies has changed dramatically over the centuries as reflected in their growing importance. Loopers' director, Jason Baffa, and writer, Carl Cramer, trace this development against the backdrop of the world's legendary courses, including St. Andrews in Scotland, Ballybunion in Ireland, Canterbury in Ohio, Pebble Beach in California and, of course, Augusta National in Georgia.

So the scenery is great, but the focus is on tales of the generations of men, boys and girls who've caddied for a living, starting with Old Tom Morris at St. Andrews and ending with Michael Greller, Jordan Spieth's tour caddie.

Their funny, sometimes heartbreaking stories explain how a gig that once brought in just enough cash to buy another drink became a seven-figure career.

Case in point: Greller. In 2012, as a young, married middle-school math teacher, he took a risky leap and started looping for Spieth. Since then he has earned an estimated $5 million, between his cut of Spieth's winnings and his own lucrative endorsement deals.

Caddies, of course, serve at the pleasure of their players, and the film corrals a number of major ones.

Tom Watson speaks movingly about his longtime caddie, the late Bruce Edwards (what the two-time Masters champion doesn't say: that when Edwards became seriously ill, Watson paid all his medical expenses). Nick Faldo tells the story of how he sought out and hired Fanny Sunesson, the first woman caddie on the PGA Tour.

The film also tips a hat to Chick Evans. While never a caddie, Evans did change the lives of many caddies, young men and women, by creating the Evans Scholars Foundation in 1930. Now supported by private country clubs across the nation, the Foundation has sent more than 10,000 caddies to college.

The caddie creed was always, "Show up. Keep up. Shut up." While that is still good advice, this film illuminates how much the club carrier's role has changed as the social gulf between caddies and players has narrowed since the first days of the feathery balls. It also shows that caddies still have a lot of good advice to give their players, and a lot to say after the round about the game of golf and the players who play.

Country clubs and golf organizations can rent the film for private showings as it makes its theatrical conclusion at: www.loopersmovie.com/request-a-screening

The film can also be preordered on iTunes now at: apple.co/2z5i7aV

DVDs are due for delivery in late summer.

Tuesday, July 9

'Never Three-Putt Again!' and Other Golf Marketing Hype

Embed from Getty Images

MAYBE THEY THINK WE ARE FOOLS. Maybe we should be insulted.

I'm referring to the golf equipment and instruction industry and its relentless marketing machine. We're fools if we believe the constant hype, such as more distance, more forgiveness, more whatever.

Perhaps the silliest one  and dare I say an insult to any golfer's intelligence  "Never three-putt again!"

Really?

I can name nearly 50 players on the PGA Tour who have three-putted this year. WITHIN FIVE FEET OF THE HOLE. See for yourself.

Several on the list have three-putted two dozen times or more during the current season.

So go ahead. Buy that putter, that gadget, that lesson. But please don't buy that ridiculous promise. Don't be a fool.

Thursday, July 4

Kids Play Golf Free in Myrtle Beach

By Kingfish Communications

THE MYRTLE BEACH GOLF COMMUNITY is offering families a reason to pack golf clubs along with sunscreen and surfboards when they head to the beach. More than 50 Grand Strand courses, including some of the area’s most prominent, are again allowing kids to play for free when accompanied by a paying adult.

While the Kids Play Free program is in effect throughout the year, area courses see a surge in junior golfers during the summer months when families flock the beach. While the sand and surf continue to the be the primary attraction, parents enjoy the opportunity to play a morning round with their kids, leaving plenty of time to hit the beach in the afternoon.

"Kids Play Free is a 12-month program that allows families to spend vacation time on the golf course, creating memories that last a lifetime," said Bill Golden, CEO of Golf Tourism Solutions. "The Kids Play Free program is one of our most rewarding initiatives because it enhances the vacation experience, and it introduces golf’s next generation of players to Myrtle Beach."

Among the courses participating in the Kids Play Free program are the four layouts at Barefoot Resort, Tidewater Golf Club, King’s North at Myrtle Beach National and Heritage Club, all among the area's most acclaimed layouts. Numerous Myrtle Beach area courses have junior tees, allowing new players to enjoy an introduction to the game without being overwhelmed by the challenge.

A complete list of participating courses is available online.

Wednesday, July 3

GOLF Films to Air 'Tom at Turnberry' on July 8



By GOLF Channel Public Relations


On Monday (July 8) at 9 p.m. ET, GOLF Channel will debut its next GOLF Films project, Tom at Turnberry, commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Tom Watson’s inconceivable run (at age 59) at winning The 2009 Open. In one of the most improbable sports moments in recent memory, the film – featuring commentary from Watson along with other key individuals from the week – will detail the circumstances that led to a magical week that no one could have anticipated.

The film also weaves in flashbacks to Watson's moments of triumph from his wins at The Open during the peak of his career, earning the "Champion Golfer of the Year" distinction a remarkable five times in the span of nine years (1975-'83). It also touches on Watson’s relationship with links golf, which he initially loathed early in his career for its penal nature, and later learned to embrace and ultimately thrive in. Tom at Turnberry is produced for GOLF Films by 13-time Emmy Award winner Israel DeHerrera and Emmy-Award winning producer Erik Rozentals.

"We live in a day where we feel like we have to compare everything. There's nothing that compares to this. It stands on its own merits." – Mike Tirico

THE ULTIMATE LONGSHOT: Despite having won The Open on five previous occasions, Watson was unmistakably a longshot to be in contention – let alone win – in 2009, as the oldest man in the field who was less than a year removed from having his hip replaced. Yet despite the odds stacked against him, Watson (26 years removed from his last victory at The Open) casually alluded to the notion of wrapping his arms around the Claret Jug for the sixth time during his pre-tournament press conference saying, "Now that'd be a story, wouldn't it?"

While it isn't plausible that anyone would have predicted Watson's fate, in many respects, the stars for the World Golf Hall of Fame member were aligned. His vast experience competing on links golf venues offered an advantage on a field that included only 21 players that competed in the most recent Open at Turnberry in 1994. Watson also was returning to the site of the most-celebrated of his five Open titles, where he masterfully outlasted Jack Nicklaus in The 1977 Open in what is famously known as the "Duel in the Sun." Above all, early in the week Watson implemented a slight change to his shoulder positioning with his putter that helped him hit putts more solidly. It led to Watson mentioning to his wife on the eve of the opening round that "he could win this tournament."

"If Arnold [Palmer] put The Open back on the map, Tom [Watson] really was the person who took it into the living rooms of America."
– Ron Sirak, Golf Writer

TURNING BACK THE CLOCK: Thursday's opening round saw Watson take advantage of calm conditions that were ideal for scoring, with an opening round 65 (5-under) that put him in a tie for second place. Beginning Friday's second round at 5-over par through 7 holes, it looked as though Watson might fall out of contention, but he rallied to finish even-par for the round, and was tied for the lead going into Saturday.

Watson's third round (1-over par, 71), put him in position to enter Sunday's final round as the solo leader at 4-under for the week, as Saturday saw only five players with an under-par round. In the film, Neil Oxman (Watson's caddie for the week) speaks to Watson's self-contained nature helping him to stay in contention, essentially blocking the outside noise and the magnitude of what he was attempting to accomplish by ignoring the totality of the situation.

"THIS AIN’T A FUNERAL YOU KNOW": Watson’s two bogeys through 3 holes on Sunday helped contribute to five different men holding at least a share of the lead at one point during the final round. However, when Watson birdied the 17th hole, he walked to the tee on the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead, needing only a par to shatter the record as the oldest major champion ever.

Following an ideal drive in the fairway, Watson's 8-iron rolled over the green and when he failed to get up-and-down, his bogey led to a four-hole playoff that Stewart Cink went on to win. In trying to make light of the situation during a post-round press center visit, Watson declared, "This ain't a funeral you know," in acknowledging the disappointment of coming up just short of the historic victory. "It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn't it?"

Golf Swing Wednesday: Tour Rookie Viktor Hovland and an Odd Double-Pump Swing


I CAN'T RECALL SEEING THIS ACTION, the double-pump swing, at least not done intentionally.

This, of course, is Viktor Hovland, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion who turned pro after a T12 at the U.S. Open. From Norway, Hovland played collegiate golf at Oklahoma State University.