Tuesday, December 31

Review: 10 Reasons to See 'The Short Game'

By Kevin Markham

Copyright © Kevin Markham. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

A FEATURE DOCUMENTARY WAS RELEASED in September 2013 entitled "The Short Game." It follows the lives of eight golfers as they prepare to compete in the 'World Championships' of golf at Pinehurst in North Carolina, and then compete in the three day event itself.

It's probably important to mention at this point that these golfers are seven years old and they're competing against their peers from over 50 countries.

Is it worth a look?

Absolutely, and here are 10 reasons why:

1. The swings these kids have are astounding. As the movie rolls and you see some of them hit a ball, your eyes will go wide and you'll say 'wow'. Amari Avery and Alexa Pano have swings of beauty and power—you have to see them to believe it—but they are all incredible youngsters and they hit the ball 170 yards plus off the tee... and they're only seven. One of the girls, Sky, seems to sink putts from anywhere.

2. There's a Kournikova in it—not Anna (though she appears fleetingly) but her precocious, mouthy and extremely talented little brother, Allan.

3. You get to compare the brashness and single-mindedness of some of the American kids (and their parents, grandparents, coaches and even a pet) against the calmer, more laissez faire approach of the... how shall I put this?... non-American kids. You get the feeling that some adore what they do, while others are 'encouraged'.

4. You get to see the tears and the tantrums, and you can't help but feel sorry for some of them. You also get to see some of the bad traits that we, as 'adult' golfers have learned to hide, such as the pleasure Allan Kournikova takes after he discovers his main opponent has had a disastrous round. And Amari Avery has some temper on her.

5. The rules of this competition are crazy. One of the favourites for the trophy is late for his tee time after a rain delay and his penalty is appallingly unfair.

6. You meet the parents! Yes, the kind of parents you read about who drive their kids relentlessly. At times it is painful; at times you'd like 10 minutes alone with them, wielding your 7 iron; at times you'll wonder why it is you need a licence to have a dog but not one to breed children. And then there are those who are far more relaxed about the talents their children possess.

6a. You meet the kids, some of whom are utterly driven (never mind a couple of incredibly annoying fathers), expect to be the best and won't stop until they are. Alexa Pano is a dynamo—her work ethic puts most adults to shame.

7. You meet Zamkuhle Nxasana and his family. If this guy and his dad don't make you smile, check your pulse.

8. You get a few (though not enough) pearls of wisdom from some of the greats (Player, Nicklaus, Sorenstam and Rodriguez).

9. The credits list eight names to remember in the future. You can't tell me that one of these kids isn't going to hit the big time.

10. And finally... the simple jealousy of watching swings we can only dream about and golfers who have achieved more at seven years of age than we will achieve in a lifetime. It's sobering.

You can watch "The Short Game" on Netflix.

Kevin Markham is the author of Hooked: An Amateur's Guide to the Golf Courses of Ireland and writes about Irish golf courses and related topics at his blog.

Monday, December 30

Arnold Palmer Salutes the Late Miller Barber



TOUR VETERAN MILLER BARBER DIED on June 11, one of a handful of players and golf people Arnold Palmer remembered in his annual state-of-the-game message that published at GolfChannel.com on Sunday.

Here's what Palmer said about the native of Shreveport, Louisiana:
If all you knew about Miller Barber was his golf swing, you'd say he had no shot. He had the ultimate chicken-wing right arm and held the club virtually perpendicular to the ground at the top of his backswing. But what people overlooked with Miller—as they do with most good players with unorthodox swings—was that he had a great release through the ball. And while he may not have been the most athletic looking player, Miller was very strong and very powerful.

He also enjoyed a pretty colorful nightlife, though one that was opaque to the rest of us. In those seemingly simpler days, groups of us would often get together and frequent the same bars or restaurants, but Miller never told us where he was going that night or where he'd been the night before. As a result, our PGA Tour colleague Jim Ferree dubbed Barber "The Mysterious Mr. X." Over time the moniker was reduced simply to X.

Up until the last time I saw him, I still called him X, not Miller. He had a great sense of humor and took to the nickname. But he also remained the man of mystery and a very close friend.
Barber played during an era when unorthodox swings were more common. I don't think he cared much about what people thought of his action. It worked for him. "The downswing is all that matters," Barber said.

Barber won 11 times on the PGA Tour and, as one of the pioneering members of the Senior Tour (now the Champions Tour), X collected 24 victories. He had some close calls at the majors. He was the 54-hole leader at the 1969 U.S. Open, but faded in the final round in tough conditions. Orville Moody won.

Barber will be featured in my next book (coming in 2014), along with many of his contemporaries.

Friday, December 27

Tiger's Outlook and a Banner 2013

LOOKING BACK ON 2013, I MUST SAY it was a banner year in golf. I'm talking about the pro game. And I'm talking about on the golf course. There was plenty of drama and controversy off the course, but that's not my focus here.

Tiger Woods (Allison)
Taking the majors, an Australian, Adam Scott, finally won the Masters. An Englishman, Justin Rose, won the U.S. Open for the first time since Tony Jacklin's victory in 1970. Phil Mickelson, a Yank and long-suffering links golfer, won the British Open thanks to a brilliant and inspiring final nine. And Jason Dufner redeemed himself at the PGA Championship, capturing his first major.

Henrik Stenson won both the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup and the European Tour's Race to Dubai, soaring to No. 3 in the world. Take that, slump!

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, returned to No. 1 form, winning five times and doing everything except capture one of the big four. His majors drought has stretched to five years. Tiger will be 38 in three days.

Recently, Woods reflected on his 2013 season and looked ahead to 2014 at TigerWoods.com:
I'm really looking forward to next year. I played well at the end of this year, so it's nice to have some momentum heading into 2014. I thought I was pretty consistent throughout the year, starting off at Torrey Pines and ending on a positive note at Sherwood, where I finished second to Zach. I think my body of work overall for the whole year was pretty good. I also found a new Nike driver, VRS Covert 2.0 Tour, that I'm really excited about. I drove the ball a little further and definitely straighter than I have been all year.

I'm really excited about the major championships next year. I've won at three of the four venues -- Augusta National, Valhalla Golf Club and Royal Liverpool -- and on Pinehurst No. 2 (U.S. Open), I'm trending the right way, having finished third and second. But I still need to practice, work, grind and prepare, and have my game come together those four times a year, and I hope that will happen.
Golf would no doubt benefit if Tiger Woods resumed his chase of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 professional majors.

Will he?

The women's game doesn't get a lot of attention, but it was also an outstanding year on the LPGA Tour.

Inbee Park won the year's first three majors and a total of six titles. Stacy Lewis also won fairly often and captured the Vare Trophy for low stroke average. And Suzann Pettersen notched four victories and hauled in a boatload of money. In addition, the Europeans romped at the Solheim Cup, their first win in America.

I'd be more than satisfied if 2014 is as great a year in golf as 2013.

Thursday, December 26

24 Golf Truths

(From the archives. This originally published one year ago today.)

(Boston Public Library - Flickr)
THESE ARE AN ASSORTMENT OF GOLF truths from one of those emails that makes the rounds. Can you relate to any of them in particular? Which do you consider to be laws of the golf universe?

1. Don’t buy a putter until you’ve had a chance to throw it.

2. Never try to keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your mind during your swing.

3. When your shot has to carry over a water hazard, you can either use one more club or two more balls.

4. If you’re afraid a full shot might reach the green while the foursome ahead of you is still putting out, you have two options: you can immediately shank a lay-up or you can wait until the green is clear and top a ball halfway there.

5. The less skilled the player, the more likely he or she is to share his or her ideas about the golf swing.

6. No matter how bad you are playing, it is always possible to play worse.

7. Everyone replaces his divot after a perfect approach shot.

8. A golf match is a test of your skill against your opponent’s luck.

9. It is surprisingly easy to hole a 30-foot putt. For a 10.

10. Counting on your opponents to inform you when they break a rule is like expecting them to make fun of their own haircut.

11. It’s not a gimme if you’re still away.

12. The shortest distance between any two points on a golf course is a straight line that passes directly through the center of a very large tree.

13. You can hit a two-acre fairway 10 percent of the time and a two-inch branch 90 percent of the time.

14. If you really want to get better at golf, go back and take it up at a much earlier age.

15. Since bad shots come in groups of three, a fourth bad shot is actually the beginning of the next group of three.

16. Every time a golfer makes a birdie, he or she must subsequently make two double bogeys to restore the fundamental equilibrium of the universe.

17. There are two things you can learn by stopping your backswing at the top and checking the position of your hands: how many hands you have, and which one is wearing the glove.

18. Hazards attract; fairways repel.

19. A ball you can see in the rough from 50 yards away is not yours.

20. If there is a ball on the fringe and a ball in the bunker, your ball is in the bunker. If both balls are in the bunker, yours is in the footprint.

21. It’s easier to get up at 6 a.m. to play golf than at 10 a.m. to mow the grass.

22. A good drive on the 18th hole has stopped many a golfer from giving up the game.

23. If there’s a storm rolling in, you’ll be having the game of your life.

24. If your opponent has trouble remembering whether he or she shot a six or a seven, he or she probably shot an eight (or worse).

Tuesday, December 24

Golf Channel: 'Best Finishes of 2013'

Editor's note: If you're determined to watch golf during the holidays, Golf Channel is airing replays of 2013 events.

The network's new logo goes
into effect in May 2014.
By Golf Channel News

The following airtime information was supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.

Golf Channel Airtimes (Eastern):

Monday, Dec. 23
LPGA Tour: 2013 Evian Championship – Final Round (Noon-3 p.m.)
European Tour: 2013 BMW PGA Championship – Final Round (3-6 p.m.)
PGA TOUR: 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship – Finals (6:30-10 p.m., 11 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.)

Tuesday, Dec. 24
LPGA Tour: 2013 Wegmans LPGA Championship – Final Round (Noon-3 p.m.)
European Tour: 2013 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open – Final Round (3-6 p.m.)
PGA TOUR: 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship – Final Round (6:30-10:30 p.m., 11 p.m.-3 a.m.)

Wednesday, Dec. 25
PGA TOUR: 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – Final Round (6:30-10:30 p.m., 11 p.m.-3 a.m.)

Thursday, Dec. 26
LPGA Tour: 2013 Evian Championship – Final Round (Noon-3 p.m.)
European Tour: 2013 Turkish Airlines Open – Final Round (3-6 p.m.)
PGA TOUR: 2013 The Barclays – Final Round (6:30-10:30 p.m., 11 p.m.-3 a.m.)

Friday, Dec. 27
LPGA Tour: 2013 CME Group Titleholders – Final Round (Noon-2 p.m.)
European Tour: 2013 DP World Tour Championship – Final Round (2-6 p.m.)
PGA TOUR: 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship – Final Round (6:30-10:30 p.m., 11 p.m.-3 a.m.)

Saturday, Dec. 28
LPGA Tour: 2013 Solheim Cup – Final Day (Noon-6 p.m.)
PGA TOUR: 2013 BMW Championship – Final Round (6:30-10:30 p.m., 11 p.m.-3 a.m.)

Sunday, Dec. 29
PGA TOUR: 2013 Presidents Cup – Final Day (Noon-6 p.m.)
PGA TOUR: 2013 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola – Final Round (6:30-10:30 p.m., 11 p.m.-3 a.m.)

Monday, Dec. 30
European Tour: 2013 Emirates Australian Open – Final Round (1-6 p.m.)

Tuesday, Dec. 31
European Tour: 2013 DP World Tour Championship – Final Round (Midnight-4 a.m.)
LPGA Tour: 2013 Solheim Cup – Final Day (8 a.m.-2 p.m.)
PGA TOUR: 2013 Presidents Cup – Final Day (2-8 p.m.)

Monday, December 23

When Clint Eastwood Took on Mount Juliet

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

ON THE FACE OF IT, WB YEATS, Tiger Woods and The Man With No Name would appear to have little in common. But that's before you speak to Francis Reynolds, who has seen some of the world's most famous faces pass by in the 22 years he's been golf manager at stunning Mount Juliet in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.

Conceived by the late Dr Tim O'Mahony, the magnificent Mount Juliet estate has long been associated with Yeats' lyrical poem, the Lake Isle of Innisfree:
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; 
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow…
It's about as far removed from Sergio Leone's wild west or the Magnum blasting violence of Inspector Harry Callahan of "Dirty Harry" fame as it's possible to get. And that's precisely what made Clint Eastwood's presence at Mount Juliet so incongruous, when Paramount Pictures booked the entire course for the Hollywood icon when he paid a visit to Ireland in 1997.

Now 83, Eastwood was a sprightly 67-year-old when he stopped off a Mount Juliet to play golf. Horse-riding and clay pigeon shooting are also available at one of Ireland's great resorts, but Clint had the course to himself, intent on shooting birdies not baddies.

There was no one around to hear if he muttered, "Do you feel lucky, punk?" to a brand new Titleist as he teed it up on the Jack Nicklaus designed course that has hosted three Irish Opens and two WGC-American Express Championships. Far from the image he often portrays in his movies—the growling, dangerous loner with the itchy trigger finger–Eastwood is, in fact, a soft-spoken artistic type with a love of the great outdoors and the quiet life.

"I am not sure what it cost Paramount to close the course for him," Francis says.

"He was just touring Ireland and he was a lovely man, a real gentle man. His voice doesn't match his image at all, he was very soft spoken. A shocking nice man…"

Of course, Eastwood has Irish blood in his veins.

"The best part of me is the Irish part, Egans on my mother’s side," Eastwood said a few years ago. "She had roots in Monaghan and I've been to Ireland many times. It's one of my favourite places to golf."

His love of Ireland has as much to do with his admiration for the great film maker John Ford as his Irish ancestors. In 2011, he was presented with the first John Ford Award by the Irish Film and Television Academy at a special event at Warner Brothers in Los Angeles.

"It's a great privilege for me to be associated with John Ford in this way, as he was such a pioneer of American film-making. Every film-maker I know is very influenced by Ford, whether it's his westerns or the 'Grapes Of Wrath.' When I worked with Sergio Leone he often talked about Ford's influence on him. I'm sure he would have persecuted me like he did many of his other actors, but I would have been able to take it."

The 18th green in the distance. © MountJuliet.ie
There is no question of being persecuted at Mount Juliet, where Francis reveals that "nothing is too much trouble."

"As resorts go, it is as easy going a place as you will find anywhere in the world," he says. "It is all about friendship and the welcome and as Tim O'Mahony used to say when quoting WB Yeats, it's 'where peace comes dropping slow.'"

Irish golf fans certainly saw the friendly face of a peaceful Tiger Woods when he played in the WGC-American Express Championships at Mount Juliet in 2002 and 2004.

"Tiger was a lovely man too," Francis says of his locker room chats with the 14-time major winner. "He was a real gentleman and chatted about Ireland and coming over here on holidays. He was down in the river several times to fish, he loved that."

Woods also loved the greens, describing the course as "immaculate." "As good as anywhere in the world," he said.

It's no wonder people keep coming back.

"Our repeat business is tremendous," Francis says. "Seventy percent of our clients have rebooked for corporate business and that's how I judge how we are doing."

Every golfer who takes on this Nicklaus delight—a par 72 that can play up to 7,300 yards from the Championship tees—will leave with happy memories of some great holes, some delightful countryside and perhaps even a glimpse of the wandering pheasants. But like so many more of the great resorts, Mount Juliet provides more than a fine course on its 1500 acres. Not only is there an award-winning spa, an equestrian centre, trout and salmon fishing and facilities for tennis and shooting, there is accommodation of all types from romantic rooms in Mount Juliet House to self-catering facilities for families in the wonderful Rose Garden Lodges. Add that its three wedding venues, two restaurants—one just recently voted the best hotel restaurant in Ireland-and it's easy to see why guests are loathe to leave and keen to return.

Clint Eastwood might just amble through the gates any day now as he scouts for locations for that long-awaited Irish movie he wants to make.

No doubt, Francis Reynolds will be waiting, keen to make his day.

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

Friday, December 20

Friday Photo: Bobby Jones at Oyster Harbors

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection. (Flickr Creative Commons)


































HERE IS BOBBY JONES preparing to putt at the Oyster Harbors Club in Osterville, Massachusetts.

Winner of 13 majors, including the Grand Slam in 1930 (the U.S. Open, British Open, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur), Jones is widely recognized as one of the greatest golfers of all time. He is ranked as high as third on some people's list, just behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Thursday, December 19

World Golf Hall of Fame Developing African-American Tribute

By World Golf Hall of Fame

(The following edited content was supplied by the World Golf Hall of Fame in a news release.)

THE WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM has begun creative development on "Honoring the Legacy: A Tribute to African-Americans in Golf"—a new, permanent exhibition that will recognize the triumphs and contributions of African-Americans in the game. With the generous support of The PGA of America, the PGA TOUR and the USGA, the exhibition is expected to open in late spring 2014.

The exhibition will detail the long, rich history of African-Americans in golf, from the difficult beginnings in the late 1800s for pioneers such as John Shippen, to the progress and challenges of today. The exhibition will also highlight the struggles and successes of notable golfers like World Golf Hall of Fame member Charlie Sifford during the Civil Rights era and major personalities such as Althea Gibson, Joe Louis and Tiger Woods.

Joe Louis and Charlie Sifford
"It was an honor to be the first African-American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame," said Sifford, who was enshrined in 2004.

"I am excited that this project is happening now and that fans will be able to see and learn from the stories of other great African-Americans in the game."

With contributions from The PGA of America, the PGA TOUR and the USGA, the Hall of Fame will create an exhibit that incorporates rare photographs, audio, video and memorabilia like Sifford's ground-breaking PGA player card from 1960, combined with innovative technology.

Best-selling author Pete McDaniel will serve as the lead writer on the project. McDaniel is the author of the acclaimed book "Uneven Lies: The Heroic Story of African Americans in Golf" and co-wrote and co-produced the documentary "Uneven Fairways."

In addition, artist Mario Chiodo, renowned for his compelling sculptures based on history and social justice, will be bringing to life pivotal moments of African-Americans in golf.

"We hope that this exhibition will serve as both an educational and inspirational force that will highlight the power of the human spirit and golf's core values," said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, December 18

Then and Now: 2013 Official World Golf Ranking

THE OFFICIAL WORLD GOLF RANKING (OWGR), a points system, is not a perfect measure of golf supremacy on planet Earth, but it's interesting nonetheless and provides a framework for assessing what happened during this calendar year in this unpredictable game.

So, first, here's a look at who was on top about 50 weeks ago.

THEN

(Week ending January 6, 2013)

1. Rory McIlroy
2. Luke Donald
3. Tiger Woods
4. Justin Rose
5. Adam Scott
6. Louis Oosthuizen
7. Lee Westwood
8. Brandt Snedeker
9. Bubba Watson
10. Jason Dufner

It seems like so long ago, but Rory was king of the golf world and could seemingly do no wrong. Luke Donald was solid at No. 2. Who knew both were headed for a free fall? Those next three guys on the list (Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Adam Scott) were destined for great deeds.

Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson was ranked 19th. And no one had a fleeting thought about Henrik Stenson, who started the year at No. 53.

NOW

(Week ending December 18, 2013)

1. Tiger Woods
2. Adam Scott
3. Henrik Stenson
4. Justin Rose
5. Phil Mickelson
6. Rory McIlroy
7. Matt Kuchar
8. Steve Stricker
9. Zach Johnson
10. Sergio Garcia

Tiger, with five wins but no majors, and Scott, capturing his first major and other tournaments, now hold down the top two spots. Stenson, though, is not far behind Scott after a return from golf oblivion. The Swede has been the best player in the world since the U.S. Open.

Justin Rose also won his first major this season, the U.S. Open, and is right where he started in the world rankings: fourth. Lefty has moved into the top five after another heartbreak at the U.S. Open followed by an inspiring breakthrough at the British. There's Rory at sixth, after a disastrous year on and off the golf course.

Kooch, Stricks, Zach and Sergio round out the "now" top ten.

I guess it was an interesting year in golf, after all.

[Check out the entire Official World Golf Ranking]

Tuesday, December 17

Golfweek: Inbee Park's Grand Slam Quest Deserved Better

GOLFWEEK WRITERS BETH ANN BALDRY and Julie Williams tackled a few LPGA and women's golf topics in a recent LPGA roundtable.

At the top of the list was Inbee Park's 2013 bid to complete the Grand Slam:
Inbee Park chased history with three consecutive major titles. Did she get the credit she deserved? 
Baldry: Of course not. While Park did go on a NYC media blitz after winning the U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack, the buzz did not transcend the sport. Even at the Home of Golf, where Park would've won her fourth straight, the crowd support was disappointing. Some of the main British tabloids even skipped out on St. Andrews. And only one American newspaper writer crossed the pond. 
Williams: Park's quest for the Grand Slam was easily the best story in professional golf this year. Still, it didn't make nearly as many headlines as it should have. In golf circles, Park was a hot topic. Outside of our world, however, it seemed that few knew anything about her, or her dominance of the sport. It's a shame the story couldn't have traveled farther—it really was one for the ages.
Unfortunately, this is the norm. Golf competes (and struggles) for attention with major sports. Any attention golf receives is mostly reserved for the men.

Monday, December 16

Overwhelmed South African Wins Nelson Mandela Championship

Dawie van der Walt
FINISHING AFTER THREE ROUNDS, THE NELSON MANDELA Championship in Durban, South Africa, was short on holes but certainly not on meaning. A South African, Dawie van der Walt, captured the title during a week when his homeland and the world were celebrating the life and mourning the death of the tournament's namesake, anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

Wearing a black ribbon on his golf cap, Van der Walt shot a 66 in the final round to win the rain-shortened event by two shots. Tournament organizers adjusted the event schedule to make sure it ended on Saturday and not conflict with the state funeral of Mandela on the following day.

"It's making you kind of part of history, winning the Nelson Mandela at this time when it's sad for everyone and everyone's mourning and tomorrow's the big day," Van der Walt told the Associated Press.

"It obviously means a lot and can be something that I can keep close to my heart forever."

The spoils of victory will be a constant reminder for Van der Walt. The trophy has an image of Nelson Mandela surrounded by children. The 30-year-old also took home a painting that includes Mandela's signature.

Added Van der Walt (at EuropeanTour.com): "I haven't been in that good [of] form. I've been struggling with an injury, so this is almost overwhelming. To win the last event of the year is going to make Christmas a lot more fun."

England's Matthew Baldwin (68) and Spain's Jorge Campillo (68) were joint second. South Africans Oliver Bekker, Jaco Ahlers, Branden Grace and Merrick Bremner finished in the top ten.

Bio

Learn more about Van der Walt at his site. A snippet:

Born: Paarl, South Africa
High School: Paarl Gymnasium
University: Lamar University (U.S.)
Education: BAAS degree
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 250 lbs.
Interests: Rugby, Cricket

Friday, December 13

'The Short Game,' a Netflix Original Documentary



(The following edited content was supplied by Netflix in a news release.)

"THE SHORT GAME" HAS LAUNCHED ON NETFLIX. The first original documentary on Netflix, the film follows eight of the most competitive golfers around the globe, all who happen to be under the age of seven, as they train for and compete in the World Championship of Junior Golf.

"The Short Game" also features golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Netflix said in an email.

The documentary will be available to stream in all territories where Netflix is available: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America, the Nordics and the Netherlands.

Emmy® award-winning director Josh Greenbaum's feature debut premiered at South by Southwest (SXSW) and won the 2013 Audience Award. It was Academy qualified in a limited theatrical release through Phase 4 Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films.

"The Short Game" is produced by Rafael Marmor, Christopher Leggett, and Josh Greenbaum, and executive produced by Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Timm Oberwelland, John Battsek and David Frankel.

Thursday, December 12

Golf on TV: PNC Father/Son Challenge, Franklin Templeton Shootout, Thailand Golf Championship, Nelson Mandela Championship

By Golf Channel News

The following tournament lineup, TV schedule and other information were supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.

PNC FATHER/SON CHALLENGE
Dates: December 14-15
Venue: Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Fla.

Golf Channel Airtimes (Eastern):
Saturday 2-4 p.m. (Tape Delay) / 9:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday 2-4 p.m. (Tape Delay) / 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)

NBC Airtimes (Eastern):
Saturday 4-6 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Sunday 4-6 p.m. (Tape Delay)

Event Notes

Event History: This is the 16th edition of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, and the second consecutive year being held at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. There are 20 teams that make up the tournament field.

Select Eligibility: To be eligible for the event, the father must have won either a major championship or a PLAYERS Championship. The teams-of-two will compete in a scramble format for both rounds.

Professionals in the Field: Stewart Cink, David Duval, Steve Elkington, Nick Faldo, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Lee Janzen, Bernhard Langer, Davis Love III, Sandy Lyle, Larry Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Mark O’Meara, Nick Price, Dave Stockton, Curtis Strange, Vijay Singh, Lee Trevino, Lanny Wadkins and Fuzzy Zoeller.

* * *

FRANKLIN TEMPLETON SHOOTOUT
Dates: December 13-15
Venue: Tiburon GC, Naples, Fla.

Golf Channel Airtimes (Eastern):
Friday 1-4 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-2 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-2 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)

NBC Airtimes (Eastern):
Saturday 2-4 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 2-4 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Team Format: 12 two-man teams make up the field that will compete in three formats: a modified alternate shot, a better-ball and a scramble in the event's 25th showing. The team of Sean O'Hair and Kenny Perry will look to defend their 2012 title.

Shark in the Water: Greg Norman is the tournament host, and has held the event at Tiburon Golf Club since 2001.

Headlining the Field: Jonas Blixt, Mark Calcavecchia, Chad Campbell, Graham DeLaet, Chris DiMarco, Jason Dufner, Harris English, Retief Goosen, Billy Horschel, Charles Howell III, Freddie Jacobson, Dustin Johnson, Jerry Kelly, Matt Kuchar, Justin Leonard, Greg Norman, Sean O’Hair, Kenny Perry, Ian Poulter, Rory Sabbatini, Steve Stricker, Scott Verplank, Mike Weir and Lee Westwood.

* * *

THAILAND GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
Dates: December 12-15
Venue: Amata Spring Country Club, Chonburi, Thailand

Golf Channel Airtimes (Eastern):
Thursday 11:30 p.m.-4:30 a.m. (Live) / 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday 11:30 p.m.-4:30 a.m. (Live) / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday 11:30 p.m.-4:30 a.m. (Live) / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday 11:30 p.m.-4:30 a.m. (Live) / 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Replay)

Event Notes

Schwartzel Defends: South African Charl Schwartzel had a commanding 11-shot victory at this event last year, after finishing runner-up in the 2011 event.

Headlining the Field: Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Thongchai Jaidee, Ryo Ishikawa and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

* * *

THE NELSON MANDELA CHAMPIONSHIP
Dates: December 11-14
Venue: Mount Edgecombe CC, KwaZulu-Natal Province, Durban, South Africa

Golf Channel Airtimes (Eastern):
Wednesday 7:30-10:30 a.m. (Live)
Thursday 6:30-10:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday 5-9:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday 5-9:30 a.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Paying Respects: This is the second edition of the Nelson Mandela Championship, and comes less than a week after the death of the former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner. As with the inaugural event in 2012, all tournament proceeds will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund that will assist in building the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital in Johannesburg.

Headlining the Field: Branden Grace, Robert Rock, Scott Jamieson, Thomas Aiken, George Coetzee, Edoardo Molinari and Soren Hansen.

Wednesday, December 11

Brooks Leads Rainy Nelson Mandela Championship

THE WORLD MEDIA HAVE BEEN FOCUSED on Nelson Mandela since he died nearly a week ago. The body of the anti-apartheid icon and first black president of South Africa now lies in state after world leaders, the rich and famous, and the common people whose cause Mandela championed paid tribute to him on a rainy Tuesday.

So it's all together fitting that this week is also the playing of the Nelson Mandela Championship, an event co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour. The tournament in Durban, South Africa, was played for the first time last December.

On Wednesday under overcast and rainy skies, a field of international players teed off just days after Mandela's passing at age 95. All profits from the event will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital.

The first round on the 6,612-yard Mount Edgecombe Country Club was later suspended due to rain. Englishman Daniel Brooks is the clubhouse leader after an 8-under 62.

"I'm over the moon," said Brooks at EuropeanTour.com.

"I played really nicely, putted really well and I managed to finish. It was quite tough, but we were lucky that we could place in the fairways, which gave us a bit of relief."

Less than half the field were able to finish the opening round. Play will resume at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday.

Tuesday, December 10

Advice for a Beginning Golfer

ARE YOU ON TWITTER? IF SO, please consider following me here: @armchairgolfer

Today I went to lunch with the "geezer golfer" (which is how he described himself) that I mentioned here last week. He is charmed by the game and said he was interested in advice and tips. Before I headed out, I sent out the following series of tweets.








The lunch was fun. Perhaps later on I'll share more about what we discussed and this beginner's mindset. Overall, I was impressed.

Monday, December 9

Zach Steals One From Tiger



GOOD SHOT, BAD SHOT. BAD SHOT, GOOD SHOT. Bad shot, bad shot. I've experienced it all, and maybe you have, too. That's golf.

However, for me (and probably for you) those dramatic reversals don't occur in front of hundreds of spectators and on national television. They don't happen in a head-to-head duel with Tiger Woods. (Unless we're dreaming.)

Standing in the middle of the 18th fairway at Sherwood Country Club in Southern California, Zach Johnson had a green-light special, as Johnny Miller might call it. The feisty Iowan and Masters champion had caught Woods with a birdie at the par-3 17th hole. Tiger drove left at the final hole, tried to curve his second shot around trouble, and ended up in a bunker to the right of the green.

Edge to Johnson, who was stuffing his short irons. Just get the approach shot on the lower tier of the 18th green and he'd have a birdie putt that, if he made it, would likely steal the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge from the host.

That's when Zach clanked an iron shot that he'll never forget. He turned into me. (As Zach later said, he had an awkward yardage and didn't commit to the swing.)

Johnson's ball flew right and short. Into the hazard. It looked like a half shank. An ugly thing. All Zach could do was shake his head.

Mercifully, redemption for Zach Johnson could not have come any quicker.

It came moments later on his next shot, a 58-yard wedge from the drop area. The video shows what happened. The crowd reaction also says it all. Zach holed the shot for a par. All Tiger could do was grin and shake his head.

Woods gamely got up and down from the deep bunker to force a playoff, but he then lipped out a 3-foot par putt on the first playoff hole. It was over.

I'm glad I tuned in at the end. That was a crazy finish. Sometimes the silly season delivers.

Friday, December 6

Cape Kidnappers Named Golf Resort of the Year

By Mandarin Media

(The following edited content was supplied by Mandarin Media in a news release.)

THE FARM AT CAPE KIDNAPPERS, home to one of the world's top-ranked golf courses and an equally feted boutique lodge, has been named Golf Resort of the Year for 2014, as part of the golf industry "Oscars", the IAGTO Awards.

Golf Resort of the Year honours are split among three regional categories: North America, Europe and the Rest of the World. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers was honoured in the Rest of the World category.

Established in 2000 by global golf tourism organisation IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators), the IAGTO Awards are the official annual decorations bestowed by the golf tourism industry. IAGTO's 500-plus golf tour operators from 62 different countries cast their votes this year.

Each operator was asked to nominate the best performing golf resorts enjoyed this year by their golf travelling clients. Operators were asked to consider the following criteria: Customer Satisfaction, Quality of Golf Course & Accommodation, Value for Money, Accessibility to Tee Times, Speed of Communication and Quality of Service.

Located on New Zealand's North Island, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers ranks number 6 on Golf Digest's list of Top 100 Courses Located Outside the U.S. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers was named to Travel+Leisure's World's Top 50 Hotels in 2010. Not to be outdone, Condé Nast Traveler named the property to its Gold List for 2012 and 2013.

Related:
INFOGRAPHIC: The World's Best Golf Courses

Thursday, December 5

Golf on TV: Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, Nedbank Golf Challenge, Hong Kong Open

By Golf Channel News

The following tournament lineup, TV schedule and other information were supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.

NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL WORLD CHALLENGE
Dates: December 5-8
Venue: Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Golf Channel Airtimes (Eastern):
Thursday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 8-11 p.m. (Replay)
Friday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 8-11 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)

NBC Airtimes (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Sherwood Sendoff: This week is the 14th and final year that Sherwood Country Club will host the event, as it moves to Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Windermere, Fla. next December, replacing the inter-club Tavistock Cup. Players competing will receive Official World Golf Ranking points.

Strongest Field Ever: This year’s event is arguably the strongest to date, with each of the 18 players ranked in the top-30 of the Official World Golf Ranking.

Headlining the Field: Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Jason Day, Webb Simpson and Bill Haas.

* * *

NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE
Dates: December 5-8
Venue: Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, South Africa

Golf Channel Airtimes (Eastern):
Thursday 4-9:30 a.m. (Live) / 6:30-8 p.m. (Replay)
Friday 4-9:30 a.m. (Live) / 6:30-8 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday 4-9:30 a.m. (Live) / 3-6 p.m. (Replay) / 9:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday 4-9:30 a.m. (Live) / 3-6 p.m. (Replay / 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)

Event Notes

Limited Field: The limited field increases from 12 players last year to 30 this week, along with an increased purse of $6.5 million versus $5 million in 2012. This week also marks the first time that the Nedbank Golf Challenge will be played as an official money event on both the European and Sunshine Tours.

Going to Great Lengths: The par-72 Gary Player Country Club features one of the longest tests in European Tour history at 7,831 yards.

Headlining the Field: Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer, Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Matteo Manassero, Gary Woodland and D.A. Points.

* * *

HONG KONG OPEN
Dates: December 5-8
Venue: Hong Kong Golf Club (Composite Course), Fanling, Hong Kong

Golf Channel Airtimes (Eastern):
Thursday Midnight-4 a.m. (Live)
Friday Midnight-4 a.m. (Live)
Saturday Midnight-4 a.m. (Live)
Sunday Midnight-4 a.m. (Live) / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Replay)

Event Notes

Jimenez Defends: Miguel Angel Jimenez became the oldest winner in European Tour history at last year’s Hong Kong Open at the age of 48 years, 10 months and will look to break that record again this week.

Historic Setting: Hong Kong Golf Club hosts the event for the 55th consecutive time and serves as one of the oldest golf establishments outside of the British Isles, having been founded in 1889.

Headlining the Field: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Guan Tianlang (a), John Daly, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Daniel Chopra, Thorbjorn Olesen, Thomas Levet and Jeev Milkha Singh.

Wednesday, December 4

Geezer Golf in the Mid Atlantic

THIS EMAIL FROM AN ACQUAINTANCE LANDED in my inbox during Thanksgiving week:
Neil, 
I've done it. At age 70-1/2, I have taken up the game, and am now officially hooked. It appears to agree with my genetic athletic makeup. 
After only 60 days, I can reasonably expect a par or two and 3-4 bogeys in nine holes .... The rest is ugly, but I continue to progress. 
I'd love to buy you coffee sometime and yak about golf for geezers. Plus, I'd like your take on good places for people like me to play vacation golf and actually enjoy it.
If you were me, what would you tell this new geezer golfer? Where would you send him in the Mid Atlantic (Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina region of United States) or beyond for an enjoyable golf vacation?

Feel free to leave a comment below or drop me a line at armchairgolfer@gmail.com.

Tuesday, December 3

Justin Rose Reenacted Approach Shot at Merion



OCTOBER IS NOT JUNE, AND AN OUTING with friends is not the final round of the U.S. Open in front of thousands of spectators, but new champion Justin Rose returned to Merion Golf Club as the leaves were turning colors in the Philadelphia suburb.

"Rosie" had to try the shot again. There was a lot less pressure this time. There were a few laughs instead.

The USGA reported:
"It's playing short today!” the reigning U.S. Open champion exclaims, and 11 of his closest friends respond with laughter. 
Nearly four months earlier, Rose had hit an outstanding 4-iron approach shot on the 72nd hole of the championship that skirted the hole before barely trickling over the green, leading to an up-and-down that all but sealed his first major victory. 
The Englishman returned to the site of his triumph in October, as part of this year's edition of an annual golf getaway the group has dubbed the JR Challenge. The experience wouldn't have been complete without a reprisal of Rose's pressure-packed shot, along with a homemade plaque to mark the occasion.

Monday, December 2

VIDEO CLIP: Tiger on Chasing Jack



WILL TIGER WOODS CATCH AND PASS Jack Nicklaus? I'm talking about The Record, of course. Jack has bagged 18 professional majors. Tiger has 14. But Woods has been stuck on 14 since June 2008 when he limped to a U.S. Open playoff victory over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines.

Recently, Tiger sat for an interview with Rachel Nichols for her CNN program, "Unguarded." Nichols popped The Question:

"As that stretch gets longer and longer without a major, what's that pressure like, as it builds and builds?"

You can play the clip to hear how Tiger responded. "It takes a career" was the essence of his answer. I think Tiger gives about as good an answer on this recurring question as can be expected considering the circumstances (a five-year majors drought).

But one can't help wondering if, at age 38 (on December 30), Tiger will catch Jack, much less beat the Golden Bear's record.

Can he?

Sure. It's definitely possible.

But will he?

It's seeming more and more doubtful to me with the long gap between major wins. And with the stiffening competition. And there's also Tiger's age and family situation—being a dad, not practicing as much.

As others have observed, Phil Mickelson has had a very good if not great career. At age 43, Lefty has won five majors. He should have won a U.S. Open and has fumbled away other chances at majors, but that's true of many players. The point is, starting right now, Tiger needs to have a Phil Mickelson career in the majors to overtake Nicklaus.

Barring health problems or other issues, Tiger will have his chances, forty of them in the next ten years if he plays in every major on the schedule. If he can win 1 in 10, he'll tie the record. Capturing 1 in 8 majors will move him past Jack.

I think it's going to be tough.

Sunday, December 1

Rory McIlroy Edges Adam Scott at Royal Sydney

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy might have remained sixth in the world but his dramatic final hole victory in the Emirates Australian Open in what was his last full start of a fraught season may well go down as one of the most significant of his career. Four shots behind Masters champion Adam Scott (71) starting the day, he hunted down the Masters champion relentlessly, pulling level after just eight holes before eventually snatching the title with a 15 foot birdie putt at the last after the Australian had overshot the green, chipped 60 feet past and made bogey.

The 24-year-old clenched both fists and gazed skyward as the winning putt dropped apologetically into the holesomething Scott had failed to do all day as he missed six putts inside 12 feet, including several short onesfor his first victory in more than a year.

"I am really pleased I was able to take on one of the best players in the world down the stretch and come out on top," said McIlroy, whose gutsy, 12-foot par saver at the par-three 17th would prove crucial. "He's a phenomenal golfer, a great competitor and probably an even better guy. I feel a bit sorry that I’m the one to ruin the Triple Crown for him, but I'm happy for myself."

It was no wonder, considering all that has gone on for him off the course this year.

"I definitely felt better with how my swing was. I just felt like everything was coming together the way I wanted it to. It's been a frustrating year but I've worked hard and it's been a process, trying to get back to winning golf tournaments again. It was nice to be able to do it today."

His six under closing round, highlighted by four birdies and a crucial eagle three at the seventh, gave him his 10th worldwide win as a professional.

And while his two major victories hold pride of place ahead of his maiden wins in Europe and the US, this was affirmation for the Co Down man that his 2013 troubles were merely transitory and that he can go on to challenge the likes of Scott and world No 1 Tiger Woods for dominance in the game next season.

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.