Wednesday, July 18

2018 Open Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes



147th Open Championship
Dates: July 19-22
Course: Carnoustie Golf Links
Par: 71
Yardage: 7402 yards
Purse: $10.5 million
Winner's share: $1.89 million
Field: 156 players
Defending champion: Jordan Spieth

Open TV Coverage
All times Eastern.
Thursday, July 19
Golf Channel 1:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Friday, July 20
Golf Channel 1:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday, July 21
Golf Channel 4:30 a.m.-7 a.m.
NBC 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 22
Golf Channel 4:30 a.m.-7 a.m.
NBC 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Live streaming coverage at TheOpen.com.

VIDEO: Jean Van de Velde Explains That Disaster at the 1999 Open Championship



JEAN VAN DE VELDE RETURNED TO CARNOUSTIE to relive one of the most famous moments in Open history.

Could anyone handle that massive disappointment with more grace?

Tuesday, July 17

2018 Open Championship: Carnoustie Golf Links Preview (VIDEO)



ON THE EAST COAST OF SCOTLAND, Carnoustie Golf Links, site of this year's Open Championship, is the northernmost course in the Open rota. It's also the toughest. No one seems to argue this point.

The above video is a good preview of Carnoustie heading into the 147th edition of the Open Championship that tees off early on Thursday morning. There are aerial footage and interviews with Carnoustie's head pro and another fellow.

Playing to a par of 71, Carnoustie is longer than any course in Open history: 7402 yards.

This will be the eighth time Carnoustie has hosted the Open Championship. Here are the previous champions:

1931 Tommy Armour
1937 Henry Cotton
1953 Ben Hogan
1968 Gary Player
1975 Tom Watson
1999 Paul Lawrie
2007 Padraig Harrington

Wednesday, July 4

'Death from the Claret Jug' By James Y. Bartlett From Yeoman House Books

HERE'S THE BOOK DESCRIPTION from the publisher:

Death from the Claret Jug again features the adventures of golf writer Pete Hacker, who covers the game for his Boston newspaper. Hacker is in St. Andrews, Scotland, to cover the Open Championship and finds there is trouble afoot in the Auld Grey Toon as an official with the Links Trust is murdered, and his body dropped into the depths of the Bottle Dungeon at St. Andrews Castle.

Whodunnit?

The cast of suspects includes a flamboyant and controversial American resort developer with a history of run-ins with the Links Trust. But there's also a professor at St. Andrews University who wants to ban golf entirely and disrupt the tournament; the Marquess Cheape, whose family has for generations held the title to the land beneath the famed Old Course; and some shadowy Russian figures who might be interested in a big business deal, or might just be interested in mayhem.

So while the world's best golfers are battling the elements and the golf course to win the title of "Champion Golfer of the Year," Hacker is chasing leads and clues from pub to pub on the narrow and twisting lanes of St. Andrews. And Hacker's girlfriend, Mary Jane, is along for the ride on her first visit to Scotland.

Death from the Claret Jug is Bartlett's fifth Hacker mystery. And with the recent publication of Death in a Green Jacket, set at the Masters in Augusta, Ga., Bartlett has made the turn in his planned four-book Major Tournament series.

Death from the Claret Jug is available in both trade paperback ($14.99) and e-book ($4.99) editions, and can be purchased from Amazon.com.

James Y. Bartlett is one of the most-published golf writers of his generation. A former staff editor for Golfweek, Luxury Golf and Caribbean Travel & Life magazines, he also wrote regular columns on the world of golf for Forbes FYI and Hemispheres (the inflight magazine of United Airlines) and contributed articles on golf, travel, lifestyle and fashion to dozens of national publications, from Esquire to Golf for Women.

Thursday, June 28

VIDEO: Tribute to Five-Time Open Champion Peter Thomson



PETER THOMSON IS THE G.O.A.T. in Australian golf. No one Down Under touches his record. This is a nice tribute to the man and includes words from fellow Aussie Adam Scott and South African Gary Player.

Thomson won five British Opens during an era when it was THE major golf championship and at a time when American tournaments were not very accessible to players across the oceans.

Thomson was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988. He won about 70 tournaments worldwide, including 22 on the European Tour.

Golf on TV: Quicken Loans National, KPMG Women's PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open, HNA French Open

PGA TOUR
Quicken Loans National
Course: TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm / Yardage: 7,107 / Par: 70
Purse: $7.1 million
Winner's share: $1.278 million
Defending champion: Kyle Stanley
TV Schedule:
Thursday-Friday, 3-7 p.m. (Golf Channel)
Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (Golf Channel); 3-6 p.m. (CBS Sports)

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LPGA TOUR
KPMG Women's PGA Championship
Course: Kemper Lakes GC / Yardage: 6,741 / Par: 72
Purse: $3.65 million
Winner's share: $547,500
Defending champion: Danielle Kang
TV Schedule:
Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Golf Channel)
Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m. (NBC Sports)

USGA/PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
U.S. Senior Open
Course: The Broadmoor GC / Yardage: 7,264 / Par: 70
Purse: $4 million
Winner's share: $720,000
Defending champion: Kenny Perry
TV Schedule:
Thursday, 4-9 p.m. (FS1); Friday, 3:30-8:30 p.m. (FS1)
Saturday-Sunday 4-9 p.m. (FS1)

EUROPEAN TOUR
HNA French Open
Course: Le National Golf / Yardage: 7,247 / Par: 71
Purse: $7 million
Winner's share: $1.167 million
Defending champion: Tommy Fleetwood
TV Schedule:
Thursday-Friday, 4:30-10:30 a.m. (Golf Channel)
Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Golf Channel)

Friday, June 22

MORNING DRIVE: Betsy King and Golf Fore Africa Bringing Clean Water to Rural Villages



GOOD WORK BY HALL OF FAMER Betsy King and Golf Fore Africa, the organization she founded in 2007.

King explains her project to bring clean water to improve lives in rural areas. They are partnering with World Vision to raise money for wells.

Betsy King won 34 times on the LPGA Tour, including six majors, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1995.

Wednesday, June 20

Phil Mickelson Apologizes for U.S. Open Fiasco



PHIL MICKELSON HAS COME TO HIS SENSES.

He sent this statement via text to a few reporters earlier today:
I know this should've come sooner, but it's taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I'm embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I'm sorry.
I'm mostly a Mickelson fan, but his supreme confidence in himself and unapologetic takes cross the line at times. They strike me as arrogant. His behavior on the 13th green and explanation during the third round of the U.S. Open were Phil at his worst. He did something stupid in the heat of the moment. And then he dug in afterward, justifying his actions.

It was a really bad look.

Sure, the USGA got the setup wrong on Saturday, but it's cowardly to blame them.

Golf is a humbling game. It certainly humbled the best golfers in the world at Shinnecock Hills. Judging from his apology, perhaps Phil is a bit more humble. I hope so.

Monday, June 18

Brooks Koepka Embraces Hardship to Win Second Consecutive U.S. Open



BROOKS KOEPKA LIKES HARD GOLF COURSES. They don't get much harder than Shinnecock Hills in the 118th U.S. Open. That suited Koepka but few others. Now he is one of only seven repeat champions in the long history of the national open.

Koepka fired a closing 68 to finish at 1-over 281 and edge Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (2 over), who shot a record-tying 63 in the final round. The 28-year-old Florida native opened with a 75, followed with a 66 and carded a 72 on Saturday when historic Shinnecock Hills turned into a beast and produced average scores above 75.

Bring it on, said Koepka.

"I enjoy being pushed to the limit. Sometimes you feel like you are about to break mentally, but that's what I enjoy. I enjoy hard courses. I enjoy playing about the toughest in golf you are ever going to play."

Nothing bothers Koepka, his caddie said. That's the perfect attitude for the toughest test in golf.

Curtis Strange, the last man to win back-to-back U.S. Opens, marvels at the new athletic breed of tour pro and Koepka in particular.

"[Koepka] is a good striker of the ball and he’s strong and he has a good short game,” he said. "He'd beat me like a yard dog."

Koepka joins Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ralph Guldahl, Ben Hogan and Strange in the elite club of repeating champions. Only Anderson has won three in a row. Koepka will have a go at that mark next June at Pebble Beach.

Thursday, June 14

2018 U.S. Open: Four Share First-Round Lead at Shinnecock Hills

Dustin Johnson at work on Shinnecock's greens.
(©USGA/Darren Carroll)
















WORLD NO. 1 DUSTIN JOHNSON, Scott Piercy, Ian Poulter and Russell Henley shot 1-under 69 on a windswept Shinecock Hills Golf Club to take the lead in the opening round of the U.S. Open.

Jason Dufner matched par with a 70.

The rest of the 156-player field wandered through 18 holes making too many bogeys and others. The average first-round score was 76.4.

Phil Mickelson had a 77. Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth shot 78. Jason Day had a 79. And Rory McIlory carded an 80.

This is already feeling like the olden days of the U.S. Open.

Wednesday, June 13

2018 U.S. Open: A Field for the Ages

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FOLLOWING ARE USGA MEDIA NOTES on the 2018 U.S. Open field of 156 players, which includes 20 amateurs.

OLDEST & YOUNGEST – Kenny Perry (pictured above), at age 57 (born Aug. 10, 1960), is the oldest player in this year’s U.S. Open field. Perry won the 2017 U.S. Senior Open and became the sixth player to win the championship twice. Steve Stricker (born Feb. 23, 1967) is age 51. Noah Goodwin, who won the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur, is the youngest at age 17 (born June 20, 2000).

FIELD FOR THE AGES – There are 10 players in the 2017 U.S. Open field who will be 20 years old or younger when the first round begins on Thursday, June 14. Philip Barbaree, the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, is one of five players under age 20.

There are 17 players in the field who are 40 or older. Ernie Els, 48, won two U.S. Opens, in 1994 and 1997. Jim Furyk, 48, won the 2003 U.S. Open.

The average age of the 156-player field is 30.13.

INTERNATIONAL GROUP – There are 27 countries represented in the 2018 U.S. Open. The United States has 83 players in the field, while England has 17 and Australia has 9.

Countries with players in the field – United States (83), England (17), Australia (9), South Africa (6), Republic of Korea (4), Japan (4), Scotland (4), Canada (3), Spain (3), People’s Republic of China (2), France (2), New Zealand (2), Northern Ireland (2), Sweden (2), Argentina (1), Taipei (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Denmark (1), Germany (1), Republic of Ireland (1), India (1), Italy (1), Mexico (1), Norway (1), Thailand (1) and Venezuela (1).

FATHER AND SON – The U.S. Open's final round has been played on Father's Day since 1965. There are 10 father-son pairings who have played in the U.S. Open that include a champion. The father and son did not necessarily play in the same Open. In seven of the 10 pairings, the father is the champion.

 

Father-Son Pairings – Includes an Open Winner

Name                                                               Champion
Tom Sr. and Willie Anderson                            Willie (1901, ’03, ’04, ’05)
Julius and Guy Boros                                       Julius (1952, ’63)
Johnny and Billy Farrell                                    Johnny (1928)
Hale and Steve Irwin                                         Hale (1974, ’79, ’90)
Johnny and Andy Miller                                     Johnny (1973)
Jack and Gary Nicklaus                                     Jack (1962, ’67, ’72, ’80)
Gary and Wayne Player                                    Gary (1965)
George and Alfred & Harold Sargent                George (1909)
Bill and Payne Stewart                                      Payne (1991, ’99)
Tom Jr. and Curtis Strange                                Curtis (1988, ’89)

U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONS – A group of U.S. Open champions will play together at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Lucas Glover (2009), Graeme McDowell (2010) and Webb Simpson (2012) will start on the 10th hole on Thursday at 1:25 p.m. Glover won by two strokes in a Monday finish due to weather at Bethpage State Park (Black Course), in Farmingdale, N.Y. McDowell became the first European since Tony Jacklin in 1970 to win the U.S. Open, prevailing at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. Simpson edged McDowell and Michael Thompson by one stroke at The Olympic Club, in San Francisco, Calif.

2018 U.S. Open TV Schedule and Championship Notes



THE 118TH U.S. OPEN BEGINS ON THURSDAY at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southamption, New York. This is the fifth time Shinnecock Hills has hosted the national championship. Brooks Koepka is the defending champion.

PAR AND YARDAGE                   
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club will be set up at 7,440 yards and will play to a par of 35-35—70. The yardage for each round of the championship will vary due to course setup and conditions.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Hole By Hole
Hole123456789Total
Par43445434435
Yardage3992525004755894911894394853,819
Hole101112131415161718Total
Par43444453435
Yardage4151594693745194096161754853,621

ARCHITECTS                           
Willie Davis completed the first 12 holes in 1891 and head professional Willie Dunn contributed six holes by 1894. The path of the railroad line forced the club to acquire land north of the clubhouse, where, from 1916-17, Charles Blair Macdonald fashioned six new holes for play. William Flynn then constructed 12 new holes and largely altered Macdonald's layout from 1929 to 1931. The clubhouse, built in 1892, underwent a major restoration in 2016 but remains substantially the same as a century ago.

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CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD           
The starting field of 156 golfers will be cut after 36 holes to the low 60 scorers (and ties).

SCHEDULE OF PLAY                
Eighteen holes of stroke play are scheduled each day from Thursday to Sunday. In the event of a tie after 72 holes, a two-hole aggregate playoff will take place following the completion of Sunday's final round.

PURSE
The 2017 purse was $12 million; the winner earned $2.16 million.

TV SCHEDULE
TV coverage on FS1 and Fox. All times ET.

Thursday, June 14
9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (FS1); 4:30-7:30 p.m. (Fox)

Friday, June 15
10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (FS1); 4:30-7:30 p.m. (Fox)

Saturday, June 16
11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. (Fox)

Sunday, June 17
10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. (Fox)

LIVE STREAMING
The U.S. Open will have more than 115 hours of live streaming coverage at usopen.com and on U.S. Open app channels.

(Source: USGA Fact Sheet)

Thursday, June 7

Rory McIlroy on U.S. Open Setup: 'I Think They Overthink It'

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RORY MCILROY DOESN'T SHY AWAY from sharing his opinion on many topics.

As GolfChannel.com reported, McIlroy was asked after the third round of last week's Memorial Tourmanent if organizations such as the USGA truly understood the abilities of tour professionals. After all, they only host the best players in the world once a year.

McIlroy said: "See, I think the USGA thinks that we're better than we actually are, if that makes sense. I think they overthink it. I don't want to single out Mike Davis here; I think it's a collective thought process....I don't think it should be as much of an exact science to set up a golf course as it is. I mean, get the fairways sort of firm, grow the rough, put the pins in some tough locations but fair, and go let us play."

The U.S. Open tees off next week (June 14-17) at Shinnecock Hills in Southhampton, New York.




U.S. Open Tickets
U.S. Open tickets are still available. Take a look at TicketCity.

Monday, June 4

Jeff Babineau's Remembrance of Hall-of-Fame Golfer Carol Mann

I'VE HAD THIS IN MY EMAIL INBOX for nearly two weeks and am sorry I didn't share it earlier.

Carol Mann won 38 tournaments,
including two majors.
LPGA star Carol Mann died recently and veteran golf journalist Jeff Babineau wrote a terrific article about her in MORNING READ.

Babineau got to know Mann through the years and captures her well in his first-person piece, including her love and stewardship of the game.

Here's how it starts:
The year was 2006, and I had what was scheduled to be an easy assignment: A two-hour ride from Orlando, Fla., up I-95 to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, a short tour, and then a few quick words with Hall of Fame member Carol Mann, the 38-time LPGA champion and 1977 inductee who had taken a role as liaison between the hall and its members. I'd be home early. 
Six hours after I arrived in St. Augustine, there I was, still sitting on an outdoor patio across a table from Carol. An overflowing ash tray on the table held Marlboro Lights wedged in like logs. My cassette recorder had run out of tape hours ago. The two of us sat there, talking about golf – its rich past and its promising future – but mostly about life, and all of its inherent challenges.
READ MORE 

USGA Notebook: Ariya Jutanugarn Wins U.S. Women's Open in Playoff; First Champion From Thailand



By USGA

ARIYA JUTANUGARN DEFEATED HYO JOO KIM on the fourth playoff hole in the first year of the USGA's new two-hole aggregate playoff format. Jutanugarn became the sixth player to win both the U.S. Women's Open and the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship.

This is the second time in Jutanugarn's prior five U.S. Open appearances that she made the cut. Her highest prior finish is T17 (2016).

Jutanugarn is the first U.S. Women's Open champion from Thailand, and the 12th international champion since 2000.

After the ninth hole in Round 4, Jutanugarn’s 16-under-par tied Juli Inkster's (1999) record for most strokes under par at any point in a U.S. Women's Open.

Kim was the only player in the field without a bogey in the final round of the championship, and her 67 was the lowest final round in the field.

Saturday, June 2

TRAILER: Tiger and Rocco Documentary of 2008 U.S. Open from FOX Sports



By FOX Sports

Amid FOX Sports' ongoing U.S. Women's Open Championship coverage, FOX Sports Films debuts the second film in its EPICS series, TIGER AND ROCCO. The hour-long film documents Tiger Woods' historic win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines – Woods' final major championship win to-date.

Featuring interviews with Mediate, Steve Williams, Hank Haney and USGA Executive Director Mike Davis, plus never-before-seen highlights and first-hand accounts of the championship, TIGER AND ROCCO offers viewers an unprecedented look at golf's ultimate test.

TIGER AND ROCCO premieres Sunday, June 3 at 1:00 PM ET on the FOX broadcast network, preceding FOX Sports' final round coverage of the 73rd U.S. Women's Open Championship at Shoal Creek from 2:00 to 7:00 PM ET on FOX.

Thursday, May 31

PGA TOUR VIDEO: 'This Usually Only Happens in Your Dreams'; Hideki Matsuyama Flies Up the Leaderboard at the Memorial Tournament


HIDEKI MATSUYAMA MADE A BIRDIE-BIRDIE-BIRDIE-BIRDIE-EAGLE run on the back nine at Muirfield Village during Thursday's opening round of the Memorial Tournament. After bogeys at 10 and 11, Matsuyama played the last seven holes in 6-under par to card a 65. He is tied for the lead with Abraham Ancer of Mexico and 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann of Chile.

The first round is still in progress.

Wednesday, May 30

VIDEO: Goats as Caddies in Rural Oregon


THIS IS INNOVATIVE OR SILLY. OR BOTH.

A man is determined to invent a special saddle so goats can become caddies. The first tryout is a goat named Bruce.

Watch if you have five minutes to spare.

2018 U.S. Women's Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

By USGA

THE 2018 U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN at Shoal Creek in Alabama will receive at least 20 hours of live network coverage. Fox will air 10 hours of coverage on the weekend. FS1 will air 10 hours over the first two days of play. All times EDT.

Date/Day                          Time                        Network             Program
May 31/Thursday             3-8 p.m.                   FS1                    First Round
June 1/Friday                    3-8 p.m.                  FS1                    Second Round
June 2/Saturday                2-7 p.m.                   Fox                    Third Round
June 3/Sunday                  2-7 p.m.                   Fox                     Fourth Round

Live Streaming Coverage
The 2018 U.S. Women's Open will receive at least 24 hours of live streaming coverage on usga.org.

What the Winner Receives
The champion will receive a gold medal, custody of the Harton S. Semple Trophy for the ensuing year and an exemption from qualifying for the next 10 U.S. Women’s Open Championships.

2018 Champion
23-year-old Sung Hyun Park from the Republic of Korea won her first major championship at Trump National Golf Club, finishing two strokes better than amateur Hye-Jin Choi.

Title Defense
Since 1991, two players have successfully defended their championship (Annika Sorenstam, 1996; Karrie Webb, 2001), and only three other players have finished in the top 10 in the championship following their victory (Juli Inkster, 2002; Patty Sheehan, 1992; Meg Mallon, 1991).

Championship History
This is the 73rd U.S. Women's Open Championship. The first U.S. Women's Open, played at Spokane (Wash.) Country Club in 1946, was the only one conducted at match play. The Women's Professional Golfers Association (WPGA) conducted the inaugural championship, won by Patty Berg. The WPGA conducted the Women’s Open until 1949, when the newly formed Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) took over operation of the championship. The LPGA ran the Women's Open for four years but in 1953 asked the United States Golf Association to conduct the championship, which it has done ever since.

The youngest winner of the U.S. Women's Open is Inbee Park, who won the 2008 championship at the age of 19 years, 11 months, 18 days. Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who won the 1954 Women's Open at age 43 years, 6 months, is the oldest winner.

In 1967, Catherine Lacoste, daughter of French tennis player Rene Lacoste and 1927 British Ladies Amateur champion Simone Thion de la Chaume, became the only amateur to win the U.S. Women's Open. Seven other amateurs – most recently Hye-Jin Choi in 2017 – have finished as runner(s)-up.

Wednesday, May 16

'Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of The King' By Chris Rodell From Triumph Books

THERE'S A NEW ARNOLD PALMER BOOK that offers a hometown perspective on "The King."

Here's a description from the publisher:

In Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of The King (Triumph Books, May 15, 2018), Latrobe, PA resident and personal friend of Palmer's Chris Rodell offers a new take on the legendary figure.

Available from local and national
retailers throughout the US.
Drawing on more than 100 interviews conducted over decades of acquaintance, Rodell delves into Palmer's character away from the game, examining Palmer's relationship to his hometown and its people. The insights and anecdotes showcase a different side of Palmer, giving fans a glimpse of the King passing up his throne for a barstool, Magnolia Lane for Main Street and the big stage for the small town.

Highlights include:

  • A heartfelt foreword from 9-time major championship winner Gary Player
  • Stories depicting Palmer's devotion to his fans, and the mountains of zany autograph requests filtered through the local post office
  • The Palmer Timeline: milestones, trivia, news clippings and other irreverent tidbits from a truly remarkable American life
  • Why Palmer loved his hometown club more than any of the famous courses around the world
  • Palmer's legacy, in Latrobe and beyond, in the words of those who knew him best

Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of The King introduces fans not to the iconic personality they've long admired, but to the neighbor they never knew. Rodell's perspective is equal parts journalism and fan mail, combining a professional approach with a relatable, accessible voice. Both golf historians and the younger generation of fans will find value in this enlightening, engaging portrait of Palmer.

Chris Rodell's writing has appeared in publications including Sports IllustratedEsquireMen's HealthGolf and Arnold Palmer's Kingdom Magazine.

Thursday, May 10

#LiveOverPar: Tiger, Phil and Rickie Struggle at The Players Championship


THE THURSDAY WINNER OF THE HYPED GROUPING of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler at The Players Championship was TPC Sawgrass.

Tiger grinded out an even-par round of 72. Rickie carded a 74. Put Phil down for a 79. Ouch.

USGA Celebrates Fifth Anniversary of PLAY9



By USGA

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. - As part of its ongoing efforts to grow the game within local golf communities, the United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced plans to celebrate the fifth year of its successful PLAY9 program.

Since its debut in 2014, PLAY9 has focused on encouraging more people to play more golf, more often. The program aims to showcase the nine-hole round as an ideal solution for both avid golfers and newcomers alike to get out and play in a time-friendly and engaging way.

This year, in collaboration with its Allied Golf Association network, the USGA will host and invite local communities to participate in dedicated regional PLAY9 days each month, beginning on May 9.

Golfers can find a golf course in their community that offers a nine-hole rate at usga.org/play9. The course finder identifies nine-hole facilities as well as 18-hole golf courses that offer a nine-hole rate.

Community PLAY9 events will also be held in markets associated with the USGA's championships, including Middle Island, N.Y. (near the site of the U.S. Open); Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Senior Open); Wheaton, Ill. (U.S. Senior Women's Open); Pebble Beach, Calif. (U.S. Amateur); and Charleston, S.C. (next year’s U.S. Women's Open).

"The PLAY9 program offers a fun entry point into the game for newcomers while providing a way for golfers to balance their love of the game with their demanding schedules," said Mike Davis, USGA CEO. "We have seen the impact to date and the awareness it has built around enjoying nine holes with friends and family. Together with our friends in golf, we’re finding new ways to welcome more golfers and support a positive future for the game."

Since the program's inception, PLAY9 has continued to positively impact golf communities and engage golfers nationwide:
  • Nearly 24 percent of golfers* reported that they participated in a PLAY9 program in 2017, a significant increase from 2015 (17 percent)
  • 54 percent of single digit handicappers reported that they participated in a PLAY9 program in 2017, up from 32 percent in 2015 
  • 70 percent of golfers agree with the statement, "Nine-hole rounds are a great way to try golf"
According to the National Golf Foundation, 88 percent of all public golf courses in America currently offer a nine-hole rate, averaging less than $30 per round. Nine-hole scores made up around 8 percent of all scores posted to the USGA GHIN system over the past four years (2014-2017), an increase from an average of 6 percent from 2010-2013.

Monday, May 7

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Jason Day Banks 12th PGA Tour Win at Wells Fargo Championship



FORMER WORLD NO. 1 JASON DAY IS BACK.

I probably said that earlier this year when Day won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. But it's worth saying again after his second PGA Tour victory of the season.

"In the final round of the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, Day wowed the crowd in his Green Mile performance to seal the win," noted the PGA Tour, "but Aaron Wise made his presence known as he [finished 10 under] to tie for second."

Day's 12th PGA Tour win vaulted him from 14th to seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking.

"I had no idea where the ball was going today, especially off the tee," Day admitted. "I missed a lot of fairways, missed a lot of greens."

He added: "My short game stood the test, which was nice. This was probably one of the best wins I've ever had just because of how hard everything was today."

Wednesday, May 2

VIDEO: European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn Pays a Surprise Visit to Stephen Atkinson


Below is the clever letter from Stephen Atkinson that went viral and prompted the visit from European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn.

A Magnificent Seven (Conclusion): Spike Kelley at the 1971 Q-School and His Life in Golf

This is the final installment of a series on players from the 1971 Q-School. Read Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 and Part 7. Nearly a half century later John Coyne tracked down Allen Miller, Lanny Wadkins, Leonard Thompson, Sam Adams, John Mahaffey, Steve Melnyk and Spike Kelley. How had pro golf and life turned out for these seven men?

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


ONE OF THE YOUNG GUNS WHO DID NOT QUALIFY at the 1971 Q-School was Spike Kelley, the assistant pro at a nine-hole course in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Kelley, who hadn't been able to putt all summer because the greens had burned out on his home course, shot 80 in the first round of the tournament. The only thing he had done right that day, he said, "was buy a Coke on the tenth hole."

Spike Kelley is head pro and co-owner
of Goshen Plantation Golf Club
in Augusta, Georgia.
Spike would shoot 80, 74, 72, 74 and then a 71 in the fifth round, tying for the 23rd spot. He needed a 72 or 73 on his last round to earn his card. That, too, caused him concerns.

"Me, on the tour! I'll have to buy a golf bag."

The one he was using at Palm Beach was borrowed. "A member at the club gave it to me when I qualified so I'd look like a golfer."

Spike could not put it together the last day and faded with 79, for a total of 450, six shots too many. His cheerfulness, which had made him a favorite of the few spectators who came every day to camp on the 9th and 18th greens or walk a few holes in the sun, didn't leave him. It hadn't been a wasted week for Spike Kelley.

"After all," he said, "I got to play on a great golf course and fly on a jet plane."

And he would be back the next year when the PGA Q-School moved west.

"I hope we play in California. I've never been to Disneyland."

What Spike also remembers fondly about the 1971 Q-School was that it was the first time he had ever been in a fairway bunker. "I played a wood out of the sand and hit it on the green. I was thinking then, 'Well this isn't too hard.'"

While Florida did prove hard, Spike kept trying and qualified two years later and made the PGA Tour. He would be on the tour from ’1973 to 1979 and have his best year in 1975 when he finished second at the Tallahassee Open and won the Buick Open.

But the tour was not for Spike.

He returned to Oklahoma and became the home pro at Shawnee Country Club for 15 years before building the Traditions Golf Club in Oklahoma City, where he worked until finding on the Internet that Goshen Plantation Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, was for sale.

''I looked at about 12 courses, and this was by far the best," Kelley said.

At 54, Spike Kelley and his partner, Richard Finley, bought Goshen Plantation Golf Club in Augusta from American Golf Corp for $1.8 million.

''It's an absolute gem," said Kelley, who moved from Shawnee to be the co-owner and head pro.

The Goshen Plantation Golf Club was completely remodeled by Kelley in 2001. Since then, it has been voted the "Best Public Golf Course" by the Augusta Magazine, and one of the top 10 public courses in Georgia by Georgia Golf Magazine. In 2009, Golf Digest named it the "Best Place to Play."

Kelly is not only the pro, but he is out early most mornings to mow fairways and greens and greet the early players at the first tee. His good will, charm and sense of humor are still the strong point of this kid who came out of Oklahoma and made a career and life as a professional golfer.

No small achievement for anyone.

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose most recent golf novel is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Monday, April 30

VIDEO: Lydia Ko Flushes a 3-Wood on First Playoff Hole and Wins LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship

LYDIA KO WON FOR THE FIRST TIME on the LPGA Tour since 2016.

Ko set up an eagle 3 on the first playoff hole at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship with what some are calling the shot of year (at least so far). She struck a 3-wood from over 230 yards that rolled to within three feet of the cup. And then she sank the putt to clinch the title.

"To pull that off then was probably the best shot that I've seen," said her playoff opponent Minjee Lee.

Ko now has 15 victories on the LPGA Tour. She will turn 21 this week.

Thursday, April 26

A Magnificent Seven, Part 7: Steve Melnyk of the 1971 Q-School and His Life in Golf

Embed from Getty Images

This is the seventh in a series on players from the 1971 Q-School. Read Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5 and Part 6. Nearly a half century later John Coyne tracked down Allen Miller, Lanny Wadkins, Leonard Thompson, Sam Adams, John Mahaffey, Steve Melnyk and Spike Kelley. How had pro golf and life turned out for these seven men?

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


"I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT JOINING the PGA Tour," Steve Melnyk told me recently.

"Being from Georgia, Bobby Jones was a great influence on me but after winning the British Amateur in 1971 and making the Walker Cup team, I thought what else can I do? I had already won the 1969 U.S. Amateur at Oakland and three times been a college All-American. At the time I had been selling life insurance for two years and I didn't like it. So, I guess, I turned pro almost as default."

Melnyk would play professionally for 10 years. He never won on the tour but he did finish second four times, and he finished 12th at the 1972 Masters. His great claim to fame at Augusta was winning the Masters Par 3 Contest.

"Back then there was no money in the tour," said Melnyk. "In my second year I only made $60,000."

But there was, he remembered fondly, a lot of companionship among the young professionals new to the tour. 

"We traveled commercially, no courtesy cars. My wife and I, we were friends with the Watsons and the Murphys.

"We all did laundry together on Monday night. No day care. No baby sitters. If you played in the morning, then you baby sat in the afternoon. It brought us closer together and we were all friends."

At the 1982 Phoenix Open, Steve would slip and break his right elbow. While recuperating, he became a reporter for CBS Sports, and two years later, he retired from the tour and returned to broadcasting with CBS until 1992 when he joined ABC Sports.

Then after a total of 22 years as a reporter and analyst for CBS, ABC and ESPN, he retired from television in 2004.

Meanwhile, Steve began playing again and 10 years ago regained his amateur status. He also started a golf course development company, Riverside Golf Course, which designed, constructed and operated eight courses in the Southeast, two of the Trophy Clubs in Georgia, the Oak Hills Golf Club in Columbia, South Carolina, and the Julington Creek Golf Course in Jacksonville, Florida, with Robert Walker.

As someone who has been involved his whole life with golf as an amateur, professional and course designer, I asked Steve what changes he sees today with the game. 

"These young college kids are so good," he said immediately. "They are all so good, so early. And it is pure golf. That's one of the reasons I love the Walker Cup. It is my favorite event.

"But today it is a different game. It is a power game. They hit it a long way. Part of the reason is that the fairways are so firm, and the grass is cut short. Better equipment. Even the missed shots go a lot farther.

"The golf ball is much better today. Remember how we had to put the golf balls through a ringer to make sure they were round?

"A big reason is that the equipment is lighter, and that means the faster we can swing the club. Our clubs in the '70s were heavier and that's a big difference. 

"Also, what is great to see is that golf is spreading around the world. Kids are playing the game at an earlier age. And more women are playing. Look at the LPGA and the women from Asia playing golf."

Today, the equipment and the courses are better, and more people are playing the game. Golf couldn't be better. And the game is better thanks to golf professionals like Steve Melnyk and the other young guns from the PGA Tour Q-School Class of 1971.

TO BE CONTINUED.

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose most recent golf novel is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.