Friday, January 29

Lining Up at 4 a.m. to Play Torrey Pines

The long par-4 12th hole on the South Course at Torrey Pines. (Courtesy of D. Hilgart)
The Farmers Insurance Open is underway at Torrey Pines in La Jolla. From the archives, the following piece is another memory of playing Torrey Pines three decades ago.

IN 2006 A GOLFER WHO GREW UP in San Diego asked if Torrey Pines still had the custom of lining up golf bags by the starter's window to determine the order of securing an early morning tee time. I didn't know. I'd been away for a long time. But they used a system very similar to that back in the mid 1980s when I played Torrey. Let me tell you about it.

First of all, it was tough to get a tee time on the weekend. You could start calling on a certain day -- Monday, for instance -- to get a tee time for Saturday. The phone line was constantly busy. In fact, it was virtually impossible to get through, especially if you didn't have automatic redial, not a widespread phone feature at the time. (I told you it was a long time ago.)

My golf buddies and I gave up on that approach. But there was another way.

The reserved tee times didn't start until 7:30 or 8 a.m., which left anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half of daylight for people to tee off both the North and South courses. The starter would arrive around 5:15 a.m. and take down the names of the groups that were already there. Then he would start sending them off at the crack of dawn. You would be surprised how many groups would already be out on both courses before the reserved tee time groups started going off.

But back to the early morning system. It was an honor system. When you showed up, you would find the last person to arrive near the starter's window. He would tell you what number he was –- 15th, for example –- and then he would be free to wander back to his car or the coffee shop (if it was open). Then you would wait for the next person to come along. And so on.

It worked surprisingly well. When the starter arrived, everyone (one representative of each group) lined up in perfect order and got their name down on the sheet.

Each person in our regular foursome would take a turn getting to Torrey early to claim our spot. How early? When it was my turn, I would leave the house at around 3:30 a.m. (usually after going to bed around midnight) and arrive at Torrey at 4:15 a.m. I don't think I ever cracked the top ten in the order. 


One guy used to pull his camper into the parking lot the night before. Not surprisingly, his group always went off first, probably on the South.

The coffee shop opened early –- I think around 4:30 –- and it would be jam-packed with guys stumbling around in search of some bad coffee and a stale donut. If you got there early enough, you grabbed a booth for your group where you could hang until it was light enough to go out and hit some putts.

The truth is, it was a lot of fun. The camaraderie and setting were great even when the golf suffered. I miss those days.

Thursday, January 28

My 18th Hole at Torrey Pines in the Moonlight

The Farmers Insurance Open starts today. The following piece is from the archives.

AT RIGHT AND BELOW IS TORREY PINES Golf Course on a sunny day. But the Torrey Pines golf story I'm going to tell you happened in the moonlight.

Torrey Pines and the La Jolla coastline.
All of us at one time or another have played golf until dark. I was out one day after work with two or three golf buddies on Torrey Pines South Course when we ran out of daylight. (It was 30 years ago when I lived in the San Diego area.) We were in the middle of the back nine, so we started walking in.

The sky was clear and there was a full moon. You could see your shadow in the moonlight.

When we got to the 18th -- the par five you might have seen on TV with the pond in front -- I decided to tee it up just for yucks. I made my swing, it felt good, and we continued to walk in.

I wasn't going to look too hard for the ball -- after all, it was dark -- but there it was right in the middle of the fairway.

I pulled my three wood, aimed a bit right to avoid the pond, and took my swing. Again, it felt good, but I had no idea where it went.

Admittedly, this was a difficult shot to execute in the daylight with the pond in full view. I normally bailed out right. In this particular situation, I had no such concerns. I just kept my head down and made a smooth swing. We kept walking.

I walked on the line that I hoped my ball had traveled, but I had no expectation of finding it. There it was! It was on the fringe in two, a first for me. Now I'm definitely playing out.

I could barely make out the flag, so I walked on to the middle of the green to gauge slope and distance. I returned to my bag and pulled my 8-iron. I aimed right, knowing the chip would swing left. It was a total guess in the dark, but I hit a solid chip.

Maybe you have already guessed what happened. Yes, I chipped in for a 3. I eagled number 18 on Torrey South in the moonlight!

Unbelievable, I know. And absolutely true.

Wednesday, January 27

The Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, Paul Azinger and Jim Nantz

A roundup of golf news.

Golf Channel Communications: Start to 2016 LPGA Season

The Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic begins a series of eight LPGA tournaments airing live on Golf Channel over the next 10 weeks leading into golf's first major championship of 2016, the ANA Inspiration.

Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson, Nos. 2-4 in the Rolex Rankings, headline an international field in the Bahamas that also includes Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Alison Lee, Gerina Piller, Yani Tseng, Michelle Wie and 2017 U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Juli Inkster. Eventual 2015 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Sei Young Kim captured the 2015 event in a playoff for her first of three LPGA wins in 2015.

Live coverage of the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic will air on Golf Channel Thursday and Friday from 11:30 am-2:30 p.m. ET, and will continue on Saturday and Sunday from 3-5 p.m. ET.

FOX Sports: Azinger in Analyst Seat

Paul Azinger, winner of the 1993 PGA Championship and veteran broadcaster, has joined FOX Sports as lead analyst for its golf coverage, beginning in 2016. Azinger joins seven-time Emmy Award-winning announcer Joe Buck and analyst Brad Faxon in the 18th Tower for FOX Sports' USGA Championship telecasts. The announcement was made today by John Entz, President, Production and Executive Producer, FOX Sports and Mark Loomis, Coordinating Producer, USGA Studio and Event Production.

"Paul is a respected and trusted voice in the golf community, and he has the credibility of being a major champion with a strong track record of experience in the broadcast booth," Entz said. "He has been one of golf's most candid and thoughtful analysts and we are excited to add him to our team."

"I am honored to partner with FOX Sports and the USGA to provide analysis for the compelling slate of USGA Championships," Azinger said. "It will especially be an honor to call our nation's national championship, the U.S. Open, beginning in June at storied Oakmont Country Club."

In his new role at FOX Sports, Azinger is scheduled to broadcast the 116th U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club, the U.S. Women’s Open at Cordevalle and the U.S. Senior Open at Scioto Country Club. He will also broadcast the 116th U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club and the 2017 Walker Cup Match at Los Angeles Country Club.

Jim Nantz: "I Wish Fox Well"

In an SI interview, broadcaster Jim Nantz said:

"I wish Fox well. Unlike the NFL where everyone is broadcasting at the same time during the regular season, the golf season you hand it off. Yes, we [at CBS] have it for the most weeks but we truly want everyone to do well because when it is your week, you are in charge of trying to make the game sound interesting and advance the sport and document it. It is not the competitive craziness that people want to talk about it. I watch other people call golf events and cheer them on and text them and congratulate them when they do good work, which is all the time. It is a different vibe than you might think."

(H/T Bernard Daily, Geoff Shackelford)

Tuesday, January 26

63rd PGA Merchandise Show Underway in Orlando

By Sherry Major (PGA Worldwide Golf Exhibitions/Media)

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - The 63rd PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Jan. 26-29, 2016, is marking the kickoff to the PGA of America's Centennial Celebration and welcoming more than 40,000 golf industry professionals from around the world to discover the newest trends and technology from more than 1,000 exhibiting golf companies and brands. The industry's annual "MAJOR of Golf Business" features a packed four-day schedule beginning with the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day, Jan. 26, at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge, and continuing at the Orange County Convention Center for PGA Show exhibits, industry presentations, education seminars and special events, Jan. 27-29. (These events are not open to the public.)

The global golf gathering begins on Tuesday, Jan. 26, with a special PGA of America Centennial Tee Shot to open the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day. Covered by Golf Channel on "Morning Drive," the 9:30 a.m. ceremony features PGA of America officers and representatives from the PGA's 41 Sections, along with 41 PGA Junior League Golf participants from Greater Orlando. Thousands of PGA Professionals and invited golf retailers will preview and personally test the newest equipment, training aids and accessories from more than 100 top golf companies at the 42-acre practice facility to create the world's largest professional golf demo event.

[Follow the happenings at PGAShow.com and PGA.com]

PGA Hall of Famer Lee Trevino will be joined by his longtime mentor, instructor and friend, PGA Master Professional Bill Eschenbrenner, as they spotlight the century-long impact of PGA Professionals and help open the PGA Merchandise Show, the world's largest gathering of PGA Professionals, live on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" at 8:30 a.m., on Wednesday, Jan. 27, from the Orange County Convention Center. Trevino is among a long list of celebrities, renowned golf instructors and specials guests who will participate in the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show.

1,000 Golf Manufacturers and Brands

Following the opening ceremony, the PGA Show floor exhibit doors will open to more than 1,000 top golf manufacturers and brands, from today's golf market leaders to emerging companies, create the world's largest business-to-business golf event. The very best names in golf, along with more than 250 companies new to the PGA Show, are introducing thousands of new products to drive golf retail in 2016.

Monday, January 25

Rickie Fowler: 'I Want to Be Part of the Crew'


ABOVE: Shots of the week from Abu Dhabi.

RICKIE FOWLER CAPTURED HIS FOURTH VICTORY in the last nine months by besting an elite field at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the United Emirates on Sunday. Fowler closed with a 69 to edge Belgian Thomas Pieters (67) by a shot.

The win in a European Tour field that included the No. 1, 3 and 5 players in the world raised Rickie's stock and world ranking. Fowler jumped from sixth to fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), as he seeks to crash the party at the top of the mountain.

''I want to be part of the crew," Fowler said about the current "Big Three" of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy.

"It would be a pretty good foursome. I think I mentioned through the summer at some point, I said I was a sneaky fourth. We've got to take care of a major and then maybe I can join the crew.''

The 54-hole leader at Abu Dhabi, Fowler has shown he can finish, although it took two greenside hole-outs during his final round to eek out his second European Tour win.

''It was not how it was planned," he said, "but [I] came out on top.''

A "tired" Spieth finished in a tie for fifth after a final-round 68. The 22-year-old Texan confessed to being "beat up, mentally and physically" after a globetrotting schedule that has taken him to the United Emirates, Australia, Hawaii, China and the Bahamas in the last few months.

"I'm not 100 percent right," Spieth said.

Meanwhile, McIlroy finished third, calling his performance "a good finish and a lot of good golf there."

Friday, January 22

Putting Genius: Wendell 'Fat Boy' Barnes

IN HIS BOOK LET 'ER RIP, Gardner Dickinson called him "the greatest putter I ever saw." That's saying something. Dickinson played on the PGA Tour during the Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus eras. A protege of Hogan who copied the Texas golf legend in nearly every way, Dickinson had seen many great players and putters in his long career.

But, according to Dickinson, no one matched Wendell "Fat Boy" Barnes on the greens. You remember Barnes, right? No, neither do I.

"When I was in high school and college," Dickinson wrote, "I was a great putter, although no one knew it because of Wendell Barnes."

Barnes was a good friend and a longtime teammate, first in high school and later in college when both young men played on the golf team at Louisiana State University.

"Wendell never played in the pressure cooker of the pro tour," Dickinson added, "but he was, hands down, the greatest putter I've ever seen."

Dickinson said the guys called Barnes "Fat Boy" because he was chubby. Barnes was "good-natured and took it in stride." It was the 1940s. Kids (and people) had nicknames that would be considered unacceptable by today's societal standards. No one made much of a fuss about such things back then.

Wrist Putter

Dickinson explained how his friend played a controlled hook and never learned how to hit a fade. It didn't seem to matter. "He just wanted to reach the green any old way, then kill you with his putting," Dickinson wrote.

Barnes employed a wristy stroke, common in those days, "like Lloyd Mangrum, Pete Cooper and Billy Casper," Dickinson recalled. "He stroked down on the ball, almost taking a little turf, and the roll he got was just uncanny. He popped the ball so smartly you could hear it clear across the green. In his mind, no putt was too long to make."

Blade, mallet, Cash-in, whatever -- Barnes could putt with any style of putter. Dickinson watched in amazement during eight years of high school and college golf.

"I'm convinced that nobody in the world could have out-putted Wendell."

Barnes died last March at the age of 89. Dickinson, whose career included seven wins on the PGA Tour, died in 1998. He was 70.

Thursday, January 21

Golf on TV: Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, CareerBuilder Challenge, Mitsubishi Electric Championship

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

EUROPEAN TOUR

World No. 1 Jordan Spieth, No. 3 Rory McIlroy and No. 6 Rickie Fowler headline a world-class international field at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates on the European Tour. The three will be grouped together for the first two rounds of play.

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Dates: Jan. 21-24
Venue: Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         6-8 am (Live, First Round Afternoon Wave) / 10 am-2 p.m. Replay)           
Friday              2-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          4-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-2p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            3:30-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes

Stenson making 2016 debut:  In addition to Spieth, McIlroy and Fowler, World No. 5 Henrik Stenson also is scheduled to compete, making his 2016 debut in Abu Dhabi.

Stal defends: Gary Stal captured the 2015 title by one stroke over Rory McIlroy and two strokes over Martin Kaymer for his first career European Tour win.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Darren Clarke, Bryson DeChambeau, Ernie Els, Branden Grace, Martin Kaymer and Gary Stal.

* * *

PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR moves to the California desert this week for the CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, with two-time winner Phil Mickelson making his 2016 debut and his first competitive start since the 2015 Presidents Cup.

CareerBuilder Challenge in Partnership with the Clinton Foundation
Dates: Jan. 21-24
Venue: PGA West (TPC Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament Course), La Quinta, Calif., La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-7 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay) 
Friday              3-7 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          3-7 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            3-7 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)

Broadcast Notes

Hicks and Miller join broadcast team for weekend coverage: Golf Channel on NBC’s Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller will join the broadcast team for weekend coverage, marking the first time since 1998 – the final year NBC covered the Bob Hope Classic – that the duo will be calling action at this tournament.

Format: 156 professionals will play alongside amateur golfers over 72 holes (the event was previously played as a five-round, 90 hole event.)

TPC Stadium course returns to rotation: For the first time since 1987 and the second time in tournament history, the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West joins the rotation of courses. For the first three rounds, all three courses (TPC Stadium, Nicklaus Tournament and La Quinta CC) will be used, with TPC Stadium hosting the final round.

Haas defends: Bill Haas defeated five players by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA TOUR win and his second at this event.

Headlining the field: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed,  Bill Haas, Zac Blair, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Ollie Schniederjans and Steve Stricker.

* * *

CHAMPIONS TOUR

The Champions Tour kicks off its 2016 season in Hawaii with the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, with live coverage in primetime Thursday-Saturday.

Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai
Dates: Jan. 21-23
Venue: Hualalai Golf Course, Ka’upulehu-Kona, Hawaii

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         7-10 p.m. (Live)
Friday              7-10 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Saturday Replay)
Saturday          11:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live) / 2-3:30 am (Saturday Replay)

Broadcast Notes

Season-opening event: The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai is the season-opening event for the 2016 PGA TOUR Champions season, the first of 26 events scheduled in the 2016 race for the Charles Schwab Cup.
.
Elite field: The 44-player field consists of players who qualify by having won a PGA TOUR Champions major in the last five seasons or an official PGA TOUR Champions event in the last two seasons. The field also includes 10 sponsor exemptions.

Jimenez defends: Miguel Angel Jimenez defeated Mark O’Meara by one stroke for his second career PGA TOUR Champions win in 2015.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Tom Watson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Colin Montgomerie, Jay Haas, John Cook, Tom Lehman and Jeff Maggert.

Wednesday, January 20

Rory Hopes to See More Putts Drop in 2016

RORY MCILROY HAD LASIK EYE SURGERY during his two months away from competitive golf. He is now expecting to see better results from his short game and putting as he begins his 2016 campaign.

McIlroy mentioned his improved eyesight in advance of the Abu Dhabi Championship in the United Arab Emirates.

"[I]t's definitely made things just that little bit sharper, maybe within 50 meters or so,'' Rory said in an AP story. ''I feel like I've always been a decent green reader, but maybe not quite as good as I could be. So that was one of the reasons why I took this step.''

The world No. 3 golfer also noted that his long-range vision is about the same as it was before the surgery.

McIlroy will tee it up in the first two rounds with top-ranked Jordan Spieth and world No. 5 Rickie Fowler, the event's marquee grouping. Diehard golf fans can watch them live tonight, starting at 10:40 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

Tuesday, January 19

Vanishing Game: Losing Players, Traditions, History

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

WITH ALL THIS TALK OF MILLENNIALS not taking up the game, and golf courses closing for lack of membership, I am saddened to think of what will be lost, in terms of tradition, architecture and history if there is a death knell to country club life.

Private country clubs have been a mixed bag in terms of popular acceptance, social strata and shifts in attitudes of our society. Richard J. Moss in his excellent 2001 book Golf and the American Country Club, a cultural history of American life and the connection of the game, details how the early country clubs sought to counter the nationalization and standardization of American life by creating closed, controlled communities that reminded them of the villages that were being snuffed out by industrialization.

By the 1900s, country clubs had become "country estates" in suburbs where the wealthy showed off their social status. The country club was viewed as a suburban playground for the family which promoted their own health by playing golf. Anyone could play—men and women of any age—and the handicap system leveled the playing field.

In the 1920s, the game expanded further, with the advent of professional golf architects and increased discretionary time and income. There was a shift as well, away from the Protestant ethic of deferred gratification toward values that justified increased leisure and pleasure.

The Depression years brought the expansion of golf to a screeching halt. These years were followed by World War II, and then golf became a popular game, with public and private daily-fee courses, corporate country clubs and gated golf communities and also the demands for equal access by minorities and women.

All of these shifts in our society have in many ways been played out on the fairways of country clubs, these "nineteenth-century villages" where lives were controlled and what was considered recreation within a society of equals.

I'm afraid Moss, a retired professor of history of social and intellectual life at Colby College and a player himself, wrote his book too soon; or better, he might write a second volume, one that considers the Millennials.

Here I'm all worried about the belly putter and what, if any, havoc that rule change will mean on the PGA Tour as well as for matches played out on private clubs across the country, having just read where four million golfers have walked away from the game just within the last decade.

That all said, if so few golfers are now playing, then why does it still take me five hours to finish a round on a warm Sunday afternoon?

Do you think it's my short game?

John Coyne is a bestselling author of three golf novels and more than 20 other books. Pay him a visit at John Coyne Books.

Monday, January 18

FOX Sports: 'Greg Norman Will Not Return'

(The following content was supplied by FOX Sports in a news release.)

By FOX Sports

FOX Sports announces that they will be making a change to their commentary team, and Greg Norman will not return to the network's USGA Championships coverage in 2016. The announcement was made today by John Entz, President of Production and Executive Producer, FOX Sports.

Both parties have agreed to an amicable separation and will continue to work together to broadcast the Franklin Templeton Shootout, which remains an important part of FOX Sports' golf platform.

"After careful consideration, we have decided to make this change to our USGA Championships coverage," said John Entz. "We want to thank Greg for his contributions last year, and wish him success in all his current and future endeavors."

"I put a lot into my role this past year and really enjoyed the time I spent with the commentary team," said Norman. "I have a long history with FOX and wish them well on their journey showcasing USGA Championships. I also want to thank David Hill (former Head of FOX Sports) and the USGA for believing in me and instilling their vote of confidence in me from the outset."

Friday, January 15

Young Lions Rule World Top 10



IF YOU HAVEN'T TAKEN A LOOK LATELY, here are the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). No need to talk about the changing of the guard. It's already happened, and not just at the top three spots. Jim Furyk (45) is still hanging around, but other than him players such as Bubba Watson (37) and Henrik Stenson (39) are seeming like the "old-timers."

As for this week's events, the Sony Open in Hawaii (PGA Tour) has a strength of field of 272 (whatever that means). The winner will receive a projected 46 OWGR points. The Joburg Open (European Tour) has a strength of field of 37, with 19 projected OWGR points going to the champion.

Thursday, January 14

Golf on TV: Sony Open in Hawaii and Joburg Open

The following edited content was supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.

PGA TOUR


The PGA TOUR will stage its first full-field event of 2016 with the Sony Open in Hawaii, where Jimmy Walker will attempt to win the event for the third consecutive year.

Sony Open in Hawaii
Dates: Jan. 14-17
Venue: Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         7-10:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-5 a.m. (Friday replay)           
Friday              7-10:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-5:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          7-10:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-5 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            6-10 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes
                                               
Walker defends: Jimmy Walker finished nine strokes ahead of the field to successfully defend his Sony Open in Hawaii title in dominant fashion.

Headlining the field: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, Brandt Snedeker, Justin Thomas, Padraig Harrington and Davis Love III.

* * *

EUROPEAN TOUR

The European Tour is in South Africa for the Joburg Open; the third Open Qualifying Series event which will provide the top three finishers within the top-10 not already in the field with entry into the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Joburg Open
Dates: Jan. 14-17
Venue: Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club (East Course), Gauteng, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5-7 a.m. (Tape delay) / 7-9 a.m. (Live)                      
Friday              5-7 a.m. (Tape delay) / 7-9 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            5-9:30 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Largest field event on European Tour: The field will consist of 210 players, the largest on the European Tour, and the event will be held on two courses at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

Headlining the field: Ernie Els, George Coetzee, Matteo Manassero, Trevor Immelman, David Horsey, Marcel Siem, Paul Dunne, Richard Sterne, David Howell and Bradley Neil.

Wednesday, January 13

Return to Oakmont Highlights USGA Championship Schedule

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

By USGA

FAR HILLS, N.J. – The United States Golf Association (USGA) confirmed the sites and dates for its 2016 championship schedule. Pennsylvania will host four USGA championships, increasing its total to 87, the most of any state. The Keystone State’s 2016 championships include the record ninth U.S. Open at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Country Club in Springfield, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at The Kahkwa Club in Erie, and the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Stonewall Links in Elverson.

“We are incredibly appreciative of the committed group of clubs that will conduct our 2016 national championships,” said Diana Murphy, USGA vice president and Championship Committee chairman. “We are especially looking forward to the U.S. Open’s record ninth playing at Oakmont, a truly historic course and welcoming community that will once again provide an exciting championship experience for players and golf fans worldwide in June.”

Oakmont will host the 116th U.S. Open from June 16-19. Designed by Henry C. Fownes and opened in 1903, Oakmont has crowned eight U.S. Open champions: Tommy Armour (1927); Sam Parks Jr. (1935); Ben Hogan (1953); Jack Nicklaus (1962); Johnny Miller (1973); Larry Nelson (1983); Ernie Els (1994) and Angel Cabrera (2007). In addition to hosting more U.S. Opens than any venue, Oakmont has hosted two U.S. Women’s Opens (1992, 2010) and five U.S. Amateurs (1919, 1925, 1938, 1969, 2003).

The 2016 U.S. Women’s Open will be played at CordeValle, in San Martin, Calif., from July 7-10, marking just the third time the championship will be contested in California and the first since 1982. This is CordeValle’s second USGA championship following the 2013 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. The U.S. Senior Open will be contested at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, from Aug. 11-14, marking the club’s fourth USGA championship and first since the 1986 U.S. Senior Open won by Dale Douglass. Scioto also hosted the 1926 U.S. Open, won by Jones, and the 1968 U.S. Amateur, won by Bruce Fleisher.

The 116th U.S. Women’s Amateur will be played at Rolling Green Golf Club from Aug. 1-7, the 14th time the championship will have been contested in Pennsylvania. It marks the club’s second USGA championship after the 1976 U.S. Women’s Open, won by eight-time USGA champion JoAnne Gunderson Carner, the most decorated female champion in USGA history. Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., will host the 116th U.S. Amateur from Aug. 15-21, its 11th USGA championship. The club also hosted the 2002 U.S. Amateur, won by Ricky Barnes, six U.S. Opens, two U.S. Senior Opens and one U.S. Women’s Amateur.

2016 USGA Championship Schedule

(Domestic)
May 21-25........U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, Streamsong (Fla.) Resort
May 21-25........U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
June 16-19.......U.S. Open, Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club
July 7-10..........U.S. Women’s Open, CordeValle, San Martin, Calif.
July 18-23........U.S. Girls’ Junior, The Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, N.J.
July 18-23........U.S. Junior Amateur, The Honors Course, Ooltewah, Tenn.
Aug. 1-7...........U.S. Women’s Amateur, Rolling Green Golf Club, Springfield, Pa.
Aug. 11-14.......U.S. Senior Open, Scioto Country Club, Columbus, Ohio
Aug. 15-21.......U.S. Amateur, Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Sept. 10-15......U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, The Kahkwa Club, Erie, Pa.
Sept. 10-15......U.S. Mid-Amateur, Stonewall Links, Elverson, Pa.
Sept. 17-22......U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, Wellesley (Mass.) Country Club
Sept. 17-22......U.S. Senior Amateur, Old Warson Country Club, St. Louis, Mo.
Sept. 28-30......USGA Men’s State Team, Country Club of Birmingham (Ala.)

(International)
Jan. 14-17........Latin America Amateur, Casa de Campo Resort, La Romana, Dominican Republic
June 10-12.......Curtis Cup Match, Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, Enniskerry, Ireland
Sept. 14-17......Women’s World Amateur Team, El Camaleon Golf Club and Playa Paraiso Golf Club, Cancun, Mexico
Sept. 21-24......World Amateur Team, El Camaleon Golf Club and Playa Paraiso Golf Club, Cancun, Mexico

Tuesday, January 12

Luke Donald: Hanging In Rather Than Hanging It Up

HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO HANG up the sticks? Maybe often. Or maybe the difficulty of the game, the ups and downs, keep you coming back. Some would call it a challenge. Others might call it masochism.

Luke Donald is feeling confident again.
(Polo Ralph Lauren)
Perhaps you heard that Luke Donald seriously considered leaving professional golf. That's right, the Englishman and former world No. 1 player said his "confidence was shot." Giving up the game was a real possibility.

"My confidence had taken a big knock and I asked myself if I wanted to continue doing this," Donald said in an interview with The Telegraph.

"I wasn't enjoying it, finding it so very hard and could not see much light at the end of the tunnel. But then I told myself not to be a baby, to grow up and realize how lucky I was. I was still playing golf for a living."

When you're at the top -- and Donald was No.1 for many weeks -- there's only one way to go. Over the last few years, Luke watched his ranking fall and fall some more. There have been no wins on a big boys golf tour and he was overlooked by Paul McGinley for the 2014 European Ryder Cup team.

In total, a very tough blow for a mild-mannered, short-game wizard who had reached the pinnacle of his sport.

"There was a time where I kept looking at the world rankings and kept seeing myself slipping," Donald added. "And I think that's the wrong approach. I've always been most successful when I have a plan and stick to it. Every day try to get a little better, incremental improvement. Of course, the goal is to get back in the top 50, then get back in the top 25, start getting some top 10s again, start winning tournaments again and just get back into that feeling."

Currently ranked 78th, Donald has a good team around him and is slowly putting the pieces back together after his fall.

"I think I have a little bit of a way to go, but I'm feeling confident that I can get back to at least close to the level I was a few years ago. I felt like it was very close the last few months. It just didn’t quite click. I haven't had that one breakout win to kind of get the confidence going enough. But certainly I feel optimistic about my chances going forward."

Monday, January 11

Jordan Spieth: 'All Parts Were Firing'

IT WAS MUCH MORE THAN A HAWAIIAN VACATION for Jordan Spieth. The 2015 PGA Tour Player of the Year picked up where he left off last year by running away with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. Spieth's 30-under total was good for a whopping eight-shot win over Patrick Reed. He is only the second player in tour history to reach 30-under, the other being Ernie Els at the same event in 2003.

"I felt like it was a short three-week break," Spieth said about his seventh PGA Tour victory in 77 starts. "Continue what we were doing last year. That's the way I'll keep on thinking about it. It worked this week. All parts were firing."

I'll say.

The Tiger Woods comparisons are as plentiful as birdies in the Maui sunshine, but Spieth wants none of it.

"I don't think there's any reason to compare. It's awfully early. We're excited about where we're at to start our career. What Tiger has done, I can't imagine ever being done."

Starting the final round with a five-stroke lead, the 22-year-old Texan didn't let his foot off the gas. He fired a tidy 6-under 67 in the final round. It was the fifth time he turned a 54-hole lead into a victory.

Spieth knows how to close, that's for sure.

Friday, January 8

Christy O'Connor Jr. and a Legendary 2-Iron Shot


Christy O'Connor Jnr at the 1989 Ryder Cup
RIP Christy O'Connor Jnr.
Posted by Ryder Cup Team Europe on Wednesday, January 6, 2016


WHO AMONG US WOULDN'T WANT to hit one shot in our life like the one Christy O'Connor Jr. struck at the 1989 Ryder Cup? (Take a look at the brief video.)

O'Connor died this week. This from EuropeanTour.com:
Christy O'Connor Jnr, a former Ryder Cup hero, European Tour and Senior Tour veteran, and pioneer of golf in Ireland, has died aged 67. The Galway native passed away in his sleep while on holiday in Tenerife. He is survived by his wife Ann, daughter Ann and son Nigel….O’Connor Jnr is best known for hitting one of the most famous shots in Ryder Cup history – a two-iron approach to the 18th green at The Belfry in 1989 which came to rest four feet from the hole, helping Tony Jacklin’s team retain the cup courtesy of a 14-14 tie.
(H/T Bernard Daily)

Thursday, January 7

Golf on TV: Hyundai Tournament of Champions and BMW South African Open

The following edited content was provided by Golf Channel in a news release.

PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR makes its 2016 debut in primetime from Maui, Hawaii with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The field of 32 winners from the 2014-15 PGA TOUR season feature four of the top-six in the world in Jordan Spieth (No. 1); Jason Day (No. 2); Bubba Watson (No. 4); and Rickie Fowler (No. 6).

Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Dates: Jan. 7-10
Venue: Kapalua Resort (Plantation Course), Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         6-10 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)    
Friday              6-10 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          6-8 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            6-10 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday          4-6 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Reed defends: Patrick Reed defeated Jimmy Walker with a birdie on the first playoff hole for his fourth career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner, Justin Thomas and Jimmy Walker.

* * *

EUROPEAN TOUR

The European Tour will stage its opening event of 2016 in Johannesburg, with the BMW South African Open. World Golf Hall of Famer and five-time South African Open champion Ernie Els will serve as tournament host and ambassador.

BMW South African Open
Dates: Jan. 7-10
Venue: Glendower Golf Club, Johannesburg, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-5 a.m. / 7-10 a.m. (Live) / Noon-5 p.m. (Replay)               
Friday              7-10 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            5-9:30 a.m. (Live) / 3-5 p.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes

Sullivan defends: Andy Sullivan defeated Charl Schwartzel with a birdie on the first playoff hole to earn his first European Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Ernie Els, Branden Grace, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, George Coetzee, Andy Sullivan, Paul Dunne, Gary Stal, David Howell, Marcel Siem and Richard Sterne.

Wednesday, January 6

Fowler Wants to Make It a Foursome

RICKIE FOWLER IS ITCHING FOR HIS first major victory. Fowler is in Kapalua for the 2016 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Rickie knows he needs "major" cred to turn the Big Three (Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy) into the Big Four.

From Jay Coffin's GolfChannel.com column:
Rickie Fowler
"I feel like to be in the same conversation I need to get a major and get that on the resume to at least have some sort of credentials to be there," Fowler said Tuesday at Kapalua. "I'm just looking forward to working on being the best that I can be. The ultimate goal is to be the best player in the world. I obviously have some pretty tough competition out there... 
"I think a combination of the two years, going with how I was able to hang around and get some top finishes in the majors in '14 and the last year to go out and get the wins," Fowler said. "You put those two together, and we win a major this year."
After three impressive wins in 2015 (The Players Championship, Scottish Open and a FedEx Cup playoff event), I don't know how Fowler could be more ready.

Maybe 2016 will be a breakthrough season for this colorful tour professional who flashes both style and substance.

Tuesday, January 5

Goldfinger, James Bond and a Great Golf Scene



(Provided by Classics of Golf in an email.)

ONE OF THE KEY SCENES in the movie Goldfinger has been described by many as the best golf scene ever to take place on film.

In the Publisher's Bulletin, Classics of Golf founder Robert Macdonald wrote that when golf is used in novels it usually appears as background or atmosphere and is rarely central to the plot. The golf in Goldfinger (by Ian Fleming) is different. It is vital to both character development and the plot of the book.

Goldfinger opens with an acquaintance of Bond meeting 007 at a Miami airport and requesting that he observe a two-handed Canasta game between himself and the eponymous villain of the novel, Auric Goldfinger. Bond's friend suspects Goldfinger of cheating, and offers to pay Bond to confirm his suspicions. Bond discovers that Goldfinger's secretary had been using binoculars to spy on his friend's hand from her hotel room, and radio the cards to Goldfinger. James forces him to admit his guilt and pay back what he has unfairly won.

007 later learns that Goldfinger is the richest man in England, the world's top gold smuggler, and treasurer for the Soviet assassination agency SMERSH. Bond then manages to set-up a high-stakes game of golf with Goldfinger, who cheats in their match by switching golf balls. In the end however, Bond beats him at his own game and wins the match.

Fleming, the Golfer

Ian Fleming himself was an avid and knowledgeable golfer so it comes as no surprise the intricate detail seen in both the novel and movie. He was a 13-handicap player at Royal St. George's at Sandwich, the setting for the fictional match between Bond and Goldfinger (called Royal St. Mark's in the book). Fleming knew the psychological ins and outs of big-money matches from the hardened perspective of a man with 13 strokes.

Albert Whiting (in the book he appears as "Alfred Blacking") was the head professional at Sandwich during Fleming's time there, from 1948 to his death in 1964. Whiting had this to say about Fleming:

"I knew him long before he had become a famous author. He was a very keen golfer and he used my son and me as partners in foursomes. We played almost every weekend. He was a powerful player, but rather unorthodox. I tried very hard to get him to alter his grip. He was a bad one to teach. He's say, 'Let's go out to the practice ground and iron this out', but after half an hour he'd complain.

"He was a great one to gamble on his games. He used to squeeze the last stroke out of his handicap. He made matches tough, the game would be deadly serious after the handicaps and bets had been fixed. He hated to lose. Everybody had to play like hell."

For a limited time at Classics of Golf, receive 20% off Goldfinger when you enter the coupon code: BOND.

Monday, January 4

How to Anchor Like Matt Kuchar



HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE. The anchoring ban is now in effect, but that doesn't mean all forms of anchoring are obsolete.

Michael Breed, host of The Golf Fix, shows how you can effectively and legally anchor the long putter to your forearm. Breed's instuction includes the Matt Kuchar approach. (You can watch The Golf Fix on Mondays at 7PM ET on Golf Channel.)

Bernhard Langer, I'm anxiously awaiting your next putting method. I won't be surprised if it's the Kuchar forearm anchor, which I think you used (or something similar) before Kuchar had whiskers.