Wednesday, January 23

MORNING DRIVE: Jim Nantz Explains Why He Thinks Phil Mickelson Will Win the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach



HELLO FRIENDS. JIM NANTZ JOINED Morning Drive's Gary Williams at the PGA Merchandise Show and boldly picked Phil Mickelson to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Nantz has his reasons, some are solid, some are romantic notions.

Phil has good history at Pebble. And a whole lot of people would love seeing him complete the career grand slam on Father's Day. It's the cherry on top of the sundae.

Tuesday, January 22

VIDEO: European Tour's 'The Content Committee'



ANOTHER HUMOROUS VIDEO FROM the European Tour:
European Tour Originals presents The Content Committee. Tired of being asked to take part in viral videos by media types, five European Tour stars decided to take matters into their own hands and assemble The Content Committee. Ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the first Rolex Series event of 2019, Thomas Bjørn, Tommy Fleetwood, Eddie Pepperell, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood got together to thrash out an all-new content strategy for the European Tour in 2019. Convinced they could come up with better concepts on their own, the results speak for themselves.
Is it just me, or do others have the sense that European Tour players don't take themselves too seriously, at least not as compared to the Americans?

They're a fun-loving bunch and obviously have to try harder to market their tour. Maybe another reason they're such a band of brothers in the Ryder Cup.

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

Friday, January 18

The Golf Ball Guide: Multi-Piece Golf Balls

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GOLF BALLS WITH THREE OR MORE PIECES are a good choice for middle- to low-handicap golfers. Multi-piece balls typically enhance feel and spin to give higher-skilled golfers more shot control. In addition, multi-piece construction that includes mantle layering enables manufacturers to target playability features by adding unique layers to the golf ball.

Following are some representative multi-piece golf balls made by various companies.

Brand/Model
Ball Construction
Performance Characteristics
Price*
Bridgestone E6 Soft
Three-piece ball with ionomer cover and Delta dimple pattern.
Long, straight distance, with soft feel.
$
Callaway Superhot 70
Three-piece ball with ionomer cover and 332 Hex Aerodynamic dimple pattern.
Combination of distance, accuracy and feel. 70 compression.
$$
Srixon Z Star
Three-piece ball with a urethane cover and 338 Speed dimple pattern.
Feel and control for mid- to high-swing speeds. 88 compression.
$$
TaylorMade Project (a)
Three-piece ball with SoftTech™ (urethane) cover and 360 dimple pattern.
Soft feel and tour spin, plus distance. 70 compression.
$$
Titleist NXT Tour
Three-piece ball with Fusablend® (ionomer) cover and 302 octahedral dimple pattern.
Soft feel combined with distance and durability. High compression.
$$
Titleist Pro V1
Three-piece ball with soft Urethane Elastomer™ cover and 352 tetrahedral dimple pattern.
Very soft feel. Short game spin and control. Distance and durability. Upper 80s compression.
$$$
Wilson Staff DUO Spin
Three-piece ball with ionomer cover and 302 dimple pattern.
Very soft and extra greenside spin as compared to the DUO. 35 compression.
$$
Bridgestone Tour B330 B Mark
Four-piece ball with SlipRes (urethane) cover and 330 Dual dimple pattern.
Distance ball for players with swing speeds of 105 mph or faster. High compression.
$$$
Callaway Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X
Four-piece ball with Tour Urethane cover and 332 Hex Aerodynamics dimple pattern.
Soft feel, low spin off tee for distance, greenside control. Low compression.
$$
Nike RZN Tour Platinum and Tour Black
Four-piece ball with urethane cover and 344 dimple pattern that includes 13,558 micro dimples.
Tour-level ball built for distance and feel. 74 compression.
$$
Srixon Z-Star XV
Four-piece ball with SpinSkin (urethane) cover and 338 Speed dimple pattern.
Soft feel and enhanced spin for faster swing speeds. 105 compression.
$$
TaylorMade Tour Preferred
Four-piece ball with SoftTech™ (urethane) cover and 322 dimple pattern.
Soft feel with tour-level performance for all swing speeds. 80 compression.
$
Titleist Pro V1x
Four-piece ball with soft Urethane Elastomer™ cover and 328 tetrahedral dimple pattern.
Soft feel, high flight and extra spin for greenside control. High compression.
$$$
TaylorMade TP5
Five-piece ball with Dual-Spin (urethane) cover and 322 seamless dimple pattern.
Soft feel and long distance. High spin for wedge play. 83 compression.
$$$

*Approximate price ranges from golf retailers:
$ = under $25
$$ = $25 to $39.99
$$$ = $40 and more

Next time: Golf balls in cold weather.

Related:
The Golf Ball Guide: Introduction

The Golf Ball Guide: Golf Ball Construction
The Golf Ball Guide: Golf Ball Categories and Brands
The Golf Ball Guide: Two-Piece Golf Balls

Wednesday, January 16

AP's Doug Ferguson to Receive PGA's LIfetime Achievement Award in Journalism

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By PGA of America

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Doug Ferguson, whose three decades with the Associated Press have made him the most-read golf journalist and one of the game's most respected chroniclers of professional golfers, has been named the recipient of the 2019 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. Ferguson will be honored on April 11 at the ISPS HANDA 47th Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) Annual Awards Dinner at Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Augusta, Georgia.

Ferguson, 55, is the 30th recipient of the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism, which recognizes members of the media for their steadfast promotion of golf, both locally and nationally. His work, spanning more than 500 golf events, reaches more than 4,000 publications worldwide.

"I think it's one of the highest honors a golf writer could aspire to," said Ferguson of his capturing the award. "It's very meaningful. I love what I do. If I didn't love it, I couldn't have done what I have done this long and at that rate of workload. It's the nicest form of recognition I could get."

Monday, January 14

VIDEO: Matt Kuchar Wins Ninth PGA Tour Title at Sony Open in Hawaii



FIFTY-FOUR HOLE LEADER MATT KUCHAR rallied in the final round to win the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Kuchar birdied six of the last 10 holes to fire a closing 66 and finish 22 under. Andrew Putnam was runner-up, four strokes back.

"To have won two out of three starts on the PGA Tour is mind boggling to me," Kuchar said. "It absolutely sets up the year to be in great position for the FedEx Cup. There is a lot of year left and a lot of great things that are out there to be done."

Kuchar, 40, is certainly rejuvenated after a long victory drought. His ninth PGA Tour win also put him back into the top 25 in the world rankings.

Saturday, January 12

Where Did You Play Your First Round of Golf?


TITLEIST ASKED A HANDFUL OF TOUR PROS: "Where did you play your first round of golf?" They include Paul Casey, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Tommy Fleetwood and Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

My answer is Desert Aire Golf Course in Palmdale, California.

What about you?

Wednesday, January 9

The Golf Ball Guide: Two-Piece Golf Balls

CONSISTING OF A CORE AND COVER, two-piece golf balls cost less and are a good choice for beginning and high-handicap golfers. Two-piece ball construction typically combines distance and durability, including less spin for straighter shots. In recent years two-piece golf balls have also featured lower compression and softer covers for golfers with slower swing speeds.

Following are some representative two-piece golf balls made by various companies.

Brand/Model
Ball Construction
Performance Characteristics
Price*
Callaway Supersoft
Two-piece ball with soft ionomer cover and 332 Hex Aerodynamics dimple pattern.
Very soft feel, straight and long distance. For slower swing speeds. 38 compression.
$
Srixon Q-Star®
Two-piece ball with ionomer cover and 324 Speed dimple pattern.
Distance and control for swing speeds of 75 mph and faster. 75 compression.
$
Srixon Soft Feel
Two-piece ball with soft ionomer cover and 344 Aero Power dimple pattern.
Soft feel without sacrificing distance and accuracy. 60 compression.
$
TaylorMade Aeroburner Soft
Two-piece ball with a soft IOTHANE® (ionomer) cover and 342 dimple pattern.
Very soft feel, with distance and stopping power. 53 compression.
$
Titleist DT TruSoft™
Two-piece ball with soft ionomer cover and 376 tetrahedral dimple pattern.
Titleist’s softest feel, with distance and very low spin. Mid 50s compression.
$
Titleist NXT Tour S
Two-piece ball with Fusablend® (ionomer) cover and 302 octahedral dimple pattern.
Long distance and soft feel. Very durable. Mid 70s compression.
$$
Titleist Velocity
Two-piece ball with thin NaZ2 (ionomer) cover and 328 tetrahedral dimple pattern.
Long distance, high trajectory and firm feel. High compression.
$$
Wilson Staff DUO
Two-piece ball with ionomer cover and 302 dimple pattern.
Claimed to be world’s softest golf ball. 29 compression.
$

*Approximate price ranges from golf retailers:
$ = under $25
$$ = $25 to $39.99
$$$ = $40 and more

Next time: Multi-piece golf balls.

Related:
The Golf Ball Guide: Introduction

The Golf Ball Guide: Golf Ball Construction
The Golf Ball Guide: Golf Ball Categories and Brands

Tuesday, January 8

Padraig Harrington Named Captain of 2020 European Ryder Cup Team

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THE EUROPEAN TOUR ANNOUNCED THAT Padraig Harrington will be Europe's next Ryder Cup captain. The 47-year-old Irishman will head the 2020 European Ryder Cup team that will face the Americans at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Europe has won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups, including a dominating performance in the recent 2018 matches outside of Paris at Le Golf National.

RyderCup.com reported:
Harrington was chosen as Europe's 2020 Ryder Cup captain by a five-man selection panel comprising the three most recent European Ryder Cup Captains – Bjørn, Clarke and McGinley – as well as the Chief Executive of the European Tour, Keith Pelley, and European Tour Tournament Committee representative Edoardo Molinari.
Harrington said: "It is a tremendous honour to be named Ryder Cup Captain and I am relishing the next 20 months as we work towards Whistling Straits and Europe's defence of the trophy.
"I have played under, and been involved with, many wonderful European captains since I made my debut in the contest 20 years ago and I would like to think that my captaincy will be a mix of all of them. I am very much looking forward to taking on this role."
Harrington has participated in nine Ryder Cups: six as a player in which he collected 10.5 points and three as a vice captain. He is also a three-time major winner.

Saturday, January 5

USGA's Mike Davis to Relinquish U.S. Open Setup Duties



USGA EXECUTIVE JOHN BODENHAMER WILL be the new course setup man at the U.S. Open as Mike Davis steps aside to focus more on his CEO role at the USGA. Davis said the decision had nothing to do with the Saturday debacle at Shinnecock last June.

Golf Channel's Jaime Diaz reported:
For almost a decade, Davis' setups at venerated courses like Winged Foot, Oakmont, Pebble Beach and Pinehurst were favorably received, averted crisis, and earned him plaudits for his ability to comprehensively but fairly test the world's best. But passionate second-guessing of U.S. Open setups, more than the other three majors, has become a given in the golf community. Though Davis' ideas, like graduated rough and shortening the odd par 4 to be drivable, only slightly annoyed U.S. Open traditionalists, and his actual number of setup gaffes was close to zero, eventually – by virtue of expanded television coverage and social media that facilitates attention-grabbing criticism from, among others, players – he became a bigger lightning rod than his predecessors. Beginning in 2015, difficulties at three straight U.S. Opens – bumpy greens at Chambers Bay, the Dustin Johnson ruling at Oakmont, and too-wide fairways at Erin Hills – were laid at his feet. 
Then last June at Shinnecock Hills, on arguably America's greatest course and ultimate stage for the U.S. Open, the championship was tarnished. In Saturday's third round, heavy afternoon winds further desiccated an already mistakenly moisture-depleted back nine, causing balls to trickle and then roll far away from precariously perched hole locations on the 13th and 15th greens.
Good luck to John Bodenhamer. I think he's going to need it.

Thursday, January 3

Plantation Course Updates Set to Begin After Sentry Tournament of Champions

By Kapalua Golf

Maui, Hawaii (January 2, 2019) – Kapalua Golf's Plantation Course, home of the PGA TOUR's Sentry Tournament of Champions and one of the top 100 golf courses in the world, will close on February 11, 2019 to undergo a multi-million dollar enhancement project aimed at refining and revitalizing the 27-year-old golf course. The project will be completed in November 2019, in time for the award-winning course to host the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January.

Kapalua Golf
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the original Plantation Course design team, will assist with the extensive course enhancement project. Troon's Design/Development/Agronomy team, as well as long-time Maui resident and Golf Channel personality Mark Rolfing, will also provide input on the project.

"All of the Plantation Course refinements will be focused on improving the playability of the golf course for our guests, while also providing new challenges for PGA TOUR professionals," said Alex Nakajima, general manager, Kapalua Golf & Tennis. "For all of the changes, it's important to note that the overall Plantation Course layout and routing will remain the same."

Plantation Course enhancements will include:

  • Green complexes will be reconstructed and then resurfaced with Tif Eagle Bermuda grass
  • Fairways, rough and tee boxes will be re-grassed using Celebration Bermuda
  • Bunkers will be renovated and some will be eliminated or relocated
  • Greens will be refined to create more options for hole locations (without changing the character of the greens)
  • All existing tee boxes will be rebuilt and additional tees will be added, including a significant number of new forward/family tees. A new combined back tee will be added for holes 3 and 9.

"This will be a very thoughtful restoration and refining process, but it's not a redesign. We are very happy with the way the course looks and the way it has gone through the past nearly three decades,” said Bill Coore. "It's like when you have a special piece of art, or something really special to you, and you get a chance to dust if off and make it new again."

(H/T MORNING READ)