Wednesday, April 1

First Set of Golf Clubs: Recalling Lloyd Mangrum Irons, Lady Ben Hogans and More

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST SET of golf clubs?

I've spent part of the morning trying to answer that question for myself.

I started playing golf at the age of 12 at Desert Aire Golf Course, a public 9-hole course in Palmdale, California.

Lloyd Mangrum Golfcraft Irons
I'm pretty certain my first full set of golf clubs included a used set of Lloyd Mangrum irons. They had black shafts made of glass. After doing some research, I've determined the model name was Golfcraft (see photo).

The irons were castoffs from somebody my dad knew. I played with them during my first two years of high school. Then I acquired a used set of Wilson Staff irons. They were blades, of course. I loved them.

My woods? That was a mixed bag as I went through adolescence. They included Hagens, Hogans and MacGregor Tourneys.

To be honest, I've rarely owned new golf equipment, playing mostly with used woods, irons and putters for decades. My current set includes Adams woods (from my brother) and a used set of Ping i3 irons. It's never been more convenient to find used golf clubs at online golf stores such as Golf Avenue.

A few years ago Julie Crichton, a writer and avid golf fan, told me about her first set of golf clubs. They were Hogans.

Julie's brother had reminded her one day when they talked on the phone.

A set of Ben Hogan
Princess clubs
"He began to tease me," Julie said. "'Sister, your first set of clubs were Lady Ben Hogan Princesses in a baby-blue bag.'"

They were hand-me-downs from her grandmother.

"I adored the Lady Ben Hogans and used them well past their prime into the '80s," Julie said, "though, of course I had them all regripped and replaced the miserable blade putter with a Bullseye."


At that time, Julie still had the clubs stored in a closet as a keepsake.

She added, "My grandmother did, after all, win a few Emporia Country Club ladies championships with them back when the greens were sand."

A reader named Peter commented, "Modern super fancy golf clubs may be high qualityquality and super game improvementbut nothing is better than clubs which remind us of people we appreciated."

I couldn't agree more. I still have some vintage golf clubs in storage. I just can't part with them.

Sponsored by Golf Avenue.

Monday, March 30

ICYMI: USGA Names U.S. Women's Open Champion's Medal After Mickey Wright



Mickey Wright died in February. This USGA announcement (edited) came earlier this month. The U.S. Women's Open has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced that the medal presented each year to the winner of the U.S. Women's Open Championship has been renamed in Mickey Wright's honor and redesigned with an image of her iconic swing, ensuring that every future champion is forever linked to one of golf's greatest pioneers and competitors.

The gold medal, which until now has not had a formal name, dates to the 1953 U.S. Women's Open when the USGA first began conducting the championship. Beginning in June with the 75th U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, each champion will receive the Mickey Wright Medal along with the U.S. Women’s Open Trophy.

Over the course of her career, Wright, who died on Feb. 17 at the age of 85, won four U.S. Women's Open titles, which ties Betsy Rawls for the most ever. In addition, Wright has seven top-three finishes and 10 top-five finishes in the championship.

She was the first player to win consecutive Women's Opens, in 1958 at Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and in 1959 at Churchill Valley Golf Club in Blackridge, Pa. She added victories in 1961 at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., and 1964 at San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista, Calif.

European Tour Pros Urge Support of 'Real Heroes'

Thursday, March 26

Golfweek's 5 Tips for Safe Golf During Coronarvirus


GOLF COURSES ARE CLOSING ACROSS the United States. But some remain open, including a former country club in my community. Today, as I drove by, I was surprised to see so many cars in the parking lot.

The Golfweek article by Larry Bohannan (link above) offers a handful of tips for playing golf during the pandemic. They include walking instead of riding, riding alone if you must ride, bringing your own disinfectant and more.

Tuesday, March 24

Golf Instructor Pete Cowen: 'I'm Feeling Horrendous and Wouldn't Wish This on Anyone'

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PETE COWEN, A GOLF INSTRUCTOR who works with Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Graeme McDowell and others, believes he is sick with COVID-19, according to a report by The Telegraph.

Cowen, 69, has been laid low by the virus.

"I'm feeling horrendous and wouldn't wish this on anyone, no matter how young and fit they may be," he said.

Cowen was helping players at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach before the tournament was canceled after the first round. He hasn't been tested.

"After a few days of self-isolation," Cowen said, "we decided to ring the ambulance and the medics said I ticked every box on the corona sheet.

"They were fantastic, but said they were not allowed to test me unless I was admitted to hospital and then the staff there decided to keep you in."

Cowen delivered an ominous message.

"I don't want to alarm anyone, and I might just have been particularly vulnerable to it, but I'm not sure how anyone with an underlying illness could cope with this."

(H/T GolfChannel.com)

Saturday, March 21

Golfworld: Golf Continues at St. Andrews as Pubs Close Doors Due to Coronavirus

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WHILE THE UK BATTLES COVID-19, the Old Course at St. Andrews remains open to golfers. It's a small slice of normalcy during these surreal days of a global pandemic and what might be the term of the year: "social distancing."

In these difficult times, there remains a soothing constant in the golf world: The Old Course at St. Andrews is open for play. 
That doesn't mean everything is normal at the Home of Golf during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews sent an email to its membership on Saturday morning with the announcement that the club was immediately closing its dining room and drink service, while the locker room would remain open until Wednesday evening, after which it would be closed....
According to data kept by Johns Hopkins University, as of Friday, the UK reported 3,297 cases of the coronavirus, with 168 deaths. The total cases are reportedly the sixth highest for COVID-19 in Europe, behind Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Switzerland.
About half of UK courses are closed, according to Leonard.

The seven courses operated by St. Andrews Golf Links are among the other half that are still open for play (at the moment).

Monday, March 16

Golfworld: Advice From an Infectious Disease Expert on Playing Golf During Coronavirus

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I'VE BEEN MENTALLY PLANNING a golf outing at my semi-deserted municipal course in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Golf is played outside. What could be healthier?

Especially when there are no crowds. In fact, practically no one around and only a few cars in the parking lot. That's the norm where I play, even before the coronavirus.

Golfworld asked an infectious disease expert, "Can you play golf amid coronavirus concerns?"

The answer: "With proper precautions, yes."

An excerpt:
According to Dr. Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, golf as it's normally played—outdoors, with natural social-distancing built in—"would be fairly safe." 
Generally, the key is to be more than six feet away from others. Stay out of gimme distance. 
"As much as we know anything for now, we know that if you're more than six feet from somebody, they're not going to spread it to you. So even within your foursome, you just stay a little bit farther away than you might ordinarily," Troisi said.
Read the entire article.

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

Friday, March 13

Goodbye Golf: PGA TOUR Statement on Canceling PLAYERS and Other Tournaments



FOR A BRIEF MOMENT, I THOUGHT maybe there will be professional golf to watch. This thought flashed after seemingly every other sport cancelled or postponed games and seasons. It began with the NBA on Wednesday.

This golf thought was short-lived, though.

Yesterday the PGA TOUR slammed the trunk on its flagship event, THE PLAYERS Championship, and more. Here's the Tour's statement:
It is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of THE PLAYERS Championship.
We have also decided to cancel all PGA TOUR events – across all of our Tours – in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open. 
We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate.  But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.
The Masters isn't cancelled ... yet. It's postponed.

Today, PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan said: "As we step back and we think about when we're going to play, we need to do all the things that led us to this decision. We need to continue to understand what's happening on the ground in the markets where we would be returning to play, continue to work with our partners in those markets, continue to understand what's happening with the CDC and the World Health Organization, and then ultimately that will guide our decision.

"We're going to make sure that we protect the safety and well-being of all of our constituents as we make that decision."

Friday, March 6

NBC Golf Analyst Paul Azinger Responds to Criticism From European Players

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ON SUNDAY WHEN ENGLISHMAN TOMMY FLEETWOOD was trying to win the Honda Classic, which would have been his first PGA Tour victory, NBC golf analyst Paul Azinger said this:

"These guys know, you can win all you want on the European Tour, the international game and all that, but you have to win on the PGA Tour. They all know that, and I think Tommy knows that. And it's put a little pressure on Tommy, but this is where they want to be. They want to come here and prove they can make it at this level."

Fleetwood needed a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff. He dunked his fairwood metal in the water, finishing third.

Meanwhile, some European players took exception to Azinger's comments. Namely, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, and maybe others.


And Lee Westwood said this:

"One minute Paul walks down the range wishing you good luck before you play, the next he's condescending (sic) to the tour you play on and disrespects the tournaments you've won around the world. I've won in 19 different countries over 4 decades. That is disrespecting a lot of people!"

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On Monday Azinger told Golfweek he meant no disrespect. And then he said a little more.

"I wasn't trying to be malicious. I didn't mean to disrespect anyone," Azinger said. "But professional golfers choke for two things: cash and prestige. And the PGA Tour has the most of both."

Azinger has a point.

Besides that, I hope NBC hired Azinger to say what he thinks. If he never rankles at least some of the players, maybe he's not doing his job.

Tuesday, March 3

My Quick Trip to the World Golf Hall of Fame

I VISITED THE WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME on Sunday. We're in Florida for a couple of weeks, first in the Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra Beach area and then on to Destin in the Florida Panhandle.

It was a bright sunny day at the World Golf Hall of Fame, just north of St. Augustine. I spent about three hours there.

I enjoyed the history exhibits, putting on a late 19th century green (simulated) with the requisite ancient putter and golf ball, and also putting on an artificial green that stimped at 12 to 15, which is PGA Tour speed.

I also browsed the lockers of the Hall of Fame members and got one shot at the island green that fronts the main entrance.

The shot was 132 yards, with a crossing breeze, not helping. I made the island, landing my one and only ball just off the right-front edge. A decent shot, I decided, considering I hadn't hit a ball since December.

Here are a few more photos.

"Yes sir!"
Jack Nicklaus sinks one as you enter the museum.



Women playing golf in the 19th century.

President Dwight Eisenhower's golf cart.

World Golf Hall of Fame Announces Finalists for 2021 Induction Class, Including Tiger Woods

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The World Golf Hall of Fame released the names of 10 finalists who will be considered for enshrinement in 2021. The list of finalists includes Male and Female Competitors and Contributors.

Below is the list of finalists (listed alphabetically by category):

Male Competitor (4)
Johnny Farrell, United States
Padraig Harrington, Ireland
Tom Weiskopf, United States
Tiger Woods, United States

Female Competitor (4)
Susie Maxwell Berning, United States
Beverly Hanson, United States
Sandra Palmer, United States
Dottie Pepper, United States

Contributor (2)
Tim Finchem, United States
Marion Hollins, United States
 
The finalists were selected by the Nominating Committee comprised of 26 individuals, including six Hall of Fame Members: Juli Inkster, Hale Irwin, Meg Mallon, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara and Karrie Webb. Before gaining consideration, each finalist met the necessary qualifications in his or her respective category by way of on-course accomplishments or significant contributions to the game.
 
"The Nominating Committee has selected 10 finalists who represent the highest caliber of golfers and contributors," said Greg McLaughlin, CEO of World Golf Foundation. "The recent enhancements to the World Golf Hall of Fame Induction criteria provide a great process to ensure the most worthy of candidates are being considered. We are grateful to the Nominating Committee for their work and anticipate the Class of 2021 being one of our strongest to date."

The World Golf Foundation Board of Directors recently approved changes to the eligibility include lowering the age of a Male or Female Competitor from 50 to 45 years of age or three years retired from the game. Additional changes included retiring the Veterans category and changing the name of the former Lifetime Achievement category to the Contributor category.
 
The Selection Committee, a 20-member panel comprised of Hall of Fame Members, media representatives and leaders of the major golf organizations, will be tasked with discussing the merits of each finalist and ultimately selecting the Class of 2021.

The 2021 Induction Ceremony date, location and class will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on the Induction process, visit www.worldgolfhalloffame.org.

Class of 2021 Nominating Committee

Chairman
Greg McLaughlin, World Golf Foundation

Hall of Fame Members
Juli Inkster
Hale Irwin
Meg Mallon
Colin Montgomerie
Mark O'Meara
Karrie Webb

Institutional Seats
World Golf Foundation Board Organizations
Heather Daly-Donofrio, LPGA
Steve Ethun, The Masters
Angela Howe, The R&A
Rand Jerris, USGA
Allison Keller, PGA TOUR
Guy Kinnings, European Tour
Julius Mason, PGA of America

At-Large Seats
Media and at-large selections chosen by World Golf Foundation Board
Ron Green, Jr., Global Golf Post
Bob Harig, ESPN
Nicki Hirayama, International Golf Federation
Alastair Johnston, IMG
Derek Lawrenson, Daily Mail
Rich Lerner, Golf Channel
Lewine Mair, Global Golf Post UK
Randall Mell, Golf Channel
Jimmy Roberts, NBC
Dave Shedloski, Golf Digest/Discovery
Reiko Takekawa, Golf Digest
Kelly Tilghman

Saturday, February 29

ICYMI: Rory McIlroy's Club Yardages in Mexico


RORY MCILROY HITS IT A LONG WAY. He hit it even farther at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where the elevation was more than 7,500 feet.

According to at least one estimate, the pros hit the ball 10-15 percent farther at that altitude.

McIlroy finished fifth at 14 under.

Thursday, February 27

GQ Profiles Brooks Koepka, Including His Love-Hate Relationship With Golf



NO MORE FRIENDS FOR BROOKS KOEPKA. He's fine.

Think of him as the Larry David of the PGA Tour. (A very young LD.) Nor does he enjoy the culture of golf. Count on Brooks to say what's on his mind, even if it "might come across the wrong way."

This and more in the Brooks Koepka profile in the March issue of GQ.

Here's the news release from GQ:

New York, NY —  "This might come across the wrong way," Brooks Koepka disclaims of the other players in the professional golf circuit, "but I already have enough friends. I don't need anymore. Just 'cause we work together doesn’t mean we have to be friends…You know, I have my friends that aren’t really into golf that much, and the only reason they're into golf is because they follow me. I like to be able to get away from the game."

For the March issue of GQ, Dan Riley profiles Brooks Koepka, the golfer who loves the game and hates the rest.

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In the past, Koepka has been quoted as saying if he could do everything all over again, he'd be a baseball player instead. He isn't a golf nerd. Golf is kind of boring, no action.

Now, he's elaborating on everything he'd change.

"One thing I'd change is maybe the stuffiness. Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn't always have to be that way," he says.

"That's part of the problem. Everybody always says, 'You need to grow the game.' Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up?"

Koepka is known for being icy on the links. No emotion. And he has no problem with it.

"It's one of those things in golf—you can't be very vocal, and you don't taunt…And so you just find different ways to make guys second-guess themselves."

He's aware of the misconceptions this causes.

"I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game. I don't love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn't enjoyable."

At only 29 years old, there are only 19 players in the history of golf who have won more majors than Koepka in their entire careers. People suggest he only cares about the majors.

"Yeah," he confirms. "I mean everyone should. Those are my chances to shine."

And he does shine. He’s extremely good, and that's why he plays.

"I love it," he reiterates, "but I know how to break away from it. That's where the confusion lies. Or maybe the misconception of me lies. I absolutely love the game. If I didn't love it, I'd retire right now…I do it because I actually love golf. I love going to practice, to compete, to tournaments, grinding it out even when you don't have your best, trying to figure out a way to get it done—that's fun to me.

But the one thing that I've been very good at is breaking away from the game when I need to."

The full feature, with photos by Brian Finke, can be found here.

The March issue of GQ is on stands now.

Tuesday, February 25

ESPN: Patrick Reed 'Thrives Amid Chaos'



PATRICK REED HAS BEEN BRANDED as a PGA Tour player and college golfer who plays fast and loose with the rules, called a "cheater" by some.

Reed wears his bad-boy image like a suit of armor, and gathers criticism as if it were kindling to stoke his competitive fire. Apparently, no matter what is said by peers like Brooks Koepka or the media (Peter Kostis), Reed keeps competing at a very high level, whether in the Presidents Cup or in a World Golf Championship, like the one he won in Mexico on Sunday.

ESPN's Bob Harig wrote:
For reasons of his own making, that controversy lingers, but Reed thrives amid chaos. We've seen it at the Ryder Cup and throughout the past few months, as he has endured his share of taunting and jeers from spectators, fellow competitors and commentators. 
As such, it was only fitting that Reed emerged from the rubble on Sunday at Club de Golf Chapultepec, outlasting an all-star cast on the leaderboard to shoot a final-round 67 and capture the WGC-Mexico Championship by a shot over Bryson DeChambeau.
It was Reed's eighth PGA Tour victory and second World Golf Championship title.

DeChambeau said, "He's a great player, and he'll be a great player for a long time. And I have a lot of respect for his game."

About the many distractions, Reed said, "Really, at the end of the day, to me it doesn't really matter.

"For me, it's go out there and continue doing what I'm supposed to do, and that's try to play the best golf I can, try to be the best person I can and try to set an example for the younger kids that are out here watching, as well as my kids that are watching back at home."

Thursday, February 20

How Dr. George Franklin Grant's Small Improvement Revolutionized Golf



IMAGINE GOLF WITHOUT THE MODERN GOLF TEE.

That's the way it was until men such as Dr. George Franklin Grant (1846-1910) arrived on the scene in the late 19th century.

Dr. Grant was an African American who, in 1899, patented an improved wooden tee that "consisted of a wood cone with a rubber sleeve to support the ball," according to Wikipedia.

(Dr. Grant was also the first African American professor at Harvard and a Boston dentist.)

Now golf balls fly prodigious distances. But it wouldn't be so without a small improvement conceived more than a century ago.

More from the USGA:
Dr. George Grant and Evolution of the Golf Tee

Wednesday, February 19

Mickey Wright: 'Watching the Earth in Orbit With a Golf Club in My Hands'



BEN HOGAN AND BYRON NELSON said she had the best golf swing they ever saw. That would be Mickey Wright, who died on Monday.

For USGA.org, Lisa D Mickey wrote:
Mary Kathryn "Mickey" Wright, winner of 82 LPGA Tour events and 13 major championships, including a record-tying four U.S. Women's Opens, died from a heart attack on Feb. 17 in Port St. Lucie, Fla., three days after her 85th birthday.
Wright was regarded as one of the greatest golfers in the game's history. In a four-year span between 1961 and 1964, Wright won 44 tournaments, including eight major championships. She finished either first or second in more than half of the events she entered during this stretch. World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Watson called it "the best run anybody has ever had in golf." 
Wright possessed a swing hailed by legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson as the greatest of all-time – male or female. It combined power, athleticism, rhythm and flowing grace, producing maximum clubhead speed and extension through impact. She was one of the longest hitters of her era, producing high, soaring fairway-wood and long-iron shots that separated her from her peers.
__________

"When I play my best golf, I feel as if I'm in a fog, standing back watching the earth in orbit with a golf club in my hands."
Mickey Wright
__________

Wright was among an impressive group of tour pros that hailed from San Diego, including Billy Casper, Phil Mickelson, Gene Littler and Craig Stadler.

Friday, February 14

Rory McIlroy Is Latest in Revolving Door of World No. 1 Players



RORY MCILROY RECENTLY MOVED TO NO. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, displacing Brooks Koepka, who held the top spot for 38 weeks. Neither McIlroy nor Koepka played during the week they swapped places.

In search of domination in men's golf, it's plain to see that parity rules. Sure, there have been a few perched at world No. 1 for a year or more. But by and large it's been a revolving door over the last decade.

This was apparent when I studied the Official World Golf Ranking, which highlights this era's No. 1 players and length of time in the top spot:

Rory McIlroy, 95 weeks
Dustin Johnson, 91 weeks
Luke Donald, 56 weeks
Jason Day, 51 weeks
Brooks Koepka, 38 weeks
Jordan Spieth, 26 weeks
Lee Westwood, 22 weeks
Justin Rose, 13 weeks
Adam Scott, 11 weeks
Martin Kaymer, 8 weeks
Justin Thomas, 4 weeks

That's a lot of folks, right?

And then there's Tiger Woods. 683 weeks. If my math is correct, that's more than 13 years at No. 1.

Good luck identifying that next dominant male tour pro. I've only seen two in my lifetime.

Harvey Penick's 'Magic Words' for Cutting 5 Strokes Off Your Score

"IMPROVEMENT COMES IN PLATEAUS," says golf legend Harvey Penick (1904-1995) in his classic golf instruction book, Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf.

Harvey Penick
It doesn't come stroke by stroke, he adds.

If you want to cut three or even five strokes from your game, Penick has some simple advice. Put the driver back in the bag. Stop pounding golf balls with the long clubs on the driving range.

"The short game. Those are the magic words," Penick says in his chapter titled "How to Knock Five Strokes Off Your Game."

"The higher your score, the faster you can lower it—with the short game."

Penick reminds golfers for the umpteenth time: about half the strokes in a round of golf come within 75 yards of the hole. He taught and observed amateur and pro golfers for seven decades. Penick says this about practice:

"If I ask an average golfer what percentage of his practice time he spends on his short game in comparison to hitting the longer shots, he'll probably tell me he gives the short game 10 or 20 percent. This is usually a fib.

"The average golfer will devote 15 minutes to stroking a few putts before he heads to the first tee, and that's about it for the short-game practice."

What should you do instead?

Penick says spend 90 percent of your practice time on chipping and putting.

"[I]f you want to knock five shots off your game in a hurry," Penick says, "leave your long clubs in your bag and head for the green."

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Harvey Penick was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. Penick coached hundreds of golfers, including Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Mickey Wright, Betsy Rawls and Kathy Whitworth. The annual teacher award presented by the Golf Teachers Association is called the Harvey Penick Award.

Sponsored by Bird Golf Academy. Bird Golf Schools provide the "Ultimate Golf Learning Experience"®.

Saturday, February 8

The Dean of Golf Photographers Receives a New PGA of America Award

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LEONARD KAMSLER. MAYBE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD THAT NAME.

Kamsler is a different kind of golf legend. A golf photographer whose "shots" were as pure as Ben Hogan's.

Peter Morrice of Golfworld wrote:
[T]he "Dean of Golf Photographers," as Kamsler has come to be known. From his first assignment for Golf Magazine in 1959 (shooting a caddie camp) to 40 straight years covering the Masters to sessions with the top players and personalities in the game over the past five decades, Kamsler always got the picture. On Tuesday [January 14], the PGA of America announced that Kamsler, 84, will receive its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in Photojournalism.
Congratulations to Mr. Kamsler. Following is more of his work.

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Wednesday, February 5

50-Year-Old Ernie Els Excited About Rookie Status on Champions Tour

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THE BIG EASY IS READY for the Champions Tour (PGA Tour Champions). Hall of Famer Ernie Els has reached that magic age.

John Strege of Golfworld wrote:
Els already has turned 50 and has indicated he is eager to join his contemporaries on the senior tour. He [was] entered in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, which start[ed] [on a] Thursday in Hawaii. 
"I've had a great time out here [on the PGA Tour]," Els said last June. "It's been quite a long time out here. And I'll still play some of the events that I'm the past champion of, but I think I'm going to transition well onto the other side and play some golf on the Champions Tour and go see some of my old friends."
(Els finished second in his debut, losing to Miguel Angel Jimenez in a playoff.)

Jim Furyk, who turns 50 in May, might not be far behind.
"If I'm competitive and I feel like I'm knocking on the door and having opportunities to win, I'd like to play some out here," Furyk said of the PGA Tour last year. "If that's not the case, I'll go to [the PGA Tour Champions] and see if I can be competitive out there.

Monday, February 3

Graeme McDowell Ends Long Winless Drought With Saudi International Victory

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By Brian Keogh
Brian Keogh contributes to major golf publications and runs Irish Golf Desk. Used with permission. GRAEME MCDOWELL SURGED BACK into the world's top 50 and the Ryder Cup reckoning when he closed with a gutsy level par 70 to win the Saudi International by two shots from Dustin Johnson on 12-under par. The 40-year old from Portrush had not won on the European Tour since 2014, but he showed all his trademark fighting qualities in blustery conditions to claim his 16th worldwide win, his 11th on the European Tour and a cheque for US$583,330. He is projected to leap from 104th to around 46th in the world, opening the door to all the World Golf Championships and the Majors. "It's special," he said. "I've been working hard the last year and a half. I said I wanted to be back up there one more time just to be out playing against these guys. The game of golf is in such great shape with so many great players in the world. It's so exciting to be a top player in the world and I want to be back up there again."

Webb Simpson Outduels Tony Finau in the Desert



IT'S TOUGH TO WIN ON TOUR.

Talented Tony Finau, who has won a lot of money but not a lot of tournaments, learned that lesson again on Sunday at the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Finau had the lead, and it looked to me as if he had the tournament with two holes to play. But Webb Simpson had other ideas.

Simpson went birdie-birdie to tie at the end of regulation. Then, on the first playoff hole, the 2012 U.S. Open champion rolled in another birdie for the win. And that was that.

But Finau and Simpson are still the best of friends.

"I definitely didn't give him the tournament,'' Finau said. "Unfortunately, it's how the cookie crumbles. ... I love Webb."

"It's hard," Simpson said. "He is a great friend. Our wives are friends, and he's one of the best guys on tour."

Thursday, January 30

Facebook and PGA TOUR Forge Global Content Agreement

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – The PGA TOUR announced an expansive agreement with Facebook to distribute daily highlight packages globally on Facebook Watch in 2020 starting at the Farmers Insurance Open.

The PGA TOUR will publish daily round recaps and player-specific highlights from more than 30 events, including THE PLAYERS Championship and FedExCup Playoffs.

These expanded highlights will feature content from the TOUR's core telecasts, along with content from PGA TOUR LIVE, the TOUR's OTT service featuring more than 1,200 hours of exclusive Featured Groups coverage in 2020.

"We're excited to expand our partnership with Facebook by delivering additional content for our fans," said Chris Wandell, Vice President Media Business Development at the PGA TOUR. "This is in response to our fans' appetite for additional coverage packaged in a way that is convenient for them to consume."

The TOUR will create a robust and timely highlights experience for PGA TOUR fans around the world on Facebook Watch. Fans can stay up to date with the latest highlights by following the PGA TOUR Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/PGATour. Content will be posted daily at the completion of each tournament round. As part of the agreement, the TOUR will also engage fans in its Facebook Group, The Gallery, with interactive elements such as Facebook Lives and Facebook Watch Parties.

Monday, January 20

Lee Westwood Claims 25th Win on European Tour, Proves 'That I've Still Got It'

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LEE WESTWOOD, 45, WON IN ABU DHABI on Sunday. That's 25 wins on the European Tour and 44 victories worldwide for the Englishman.

As Golfworld's John Huggan wrote, Westwood's resurgence began about 18 months ago. His focus changed around the same time his girlfriend Helen took over bag duties.

"I think it helps having all the responsibility and not listening to another opinion," Westwood said as quoted by Golfworld. "I've been out here 26 years. I ought to know how far it is, what club to hit, how to judge the wind and where not to miss greens. I feel like there is a lot more clarity to my head when I'm stood over the ball. There's only one opinion and it's mine. Even if I am wrong it is better to go with what I think rather than have a doubt in my mind."

Now the aging Westwood dreams of another Ryder Cup. As a player.

"I've been on losing Ryder Cup teams, and I've been on seven winning ones," he said.

"It's a big honor to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup. And I would love to play another as long as I'm good enough. I wouldn't want a pick, but if I qualified I would definitely play.

"So I'll be trying my hardest. But you can't control qualifying for a Ryder Cup team. I'll just be trying to do the small things right and it will lead on to the big things, like qualifying for the side. For now, it's just nice to come out and keep proving that I've still got it."

Happy 25th Birthday to GOLF Channel

By GOLF Channel Communications

ORLANDO, Fla.  – GOLF Channel celebrated its 25th anniversary on Friday, Jan. 17, when in 1995 it launched as the first single-sport cable network, co-founded by Arnold Palmer and cable entrepreneur Joe Gibbs. GOLF Channel has grown to become the tentpole of NBC Sports Group’s GOLF portfolio of businesses with more live tournament coverage than all other U.S. networks combined, and high-quality news, instruction and entertainment programming dedicated to showcasing the global sport of golf.

"Arnold Palmer was so proud of the role GOLF Channel plays in connecting the world to golf and we take great pride in carrying forward his legacy as we forge a path for the next quarter century," said Mike McCarley, president, GOLF, NBC Sports.

"A prime example of how much GOLF Channel has grown – from just 15 hours of live programming the network's first week 25 years ago to more than 100 live hours this week from three U.S. time zones and five countries. As we look ahead to 2020, GOLF Channel will be on the ground at all of the men's and women's major championships, The Players, Tokyo Olympics, FedExCup Playoffs, UL International Crown and Ryder Cup."

GOLF Channel has grown from 10,000 U.S. households in 1995 to reaching nearly 500 million golf fans around the globe in more than 70 countries and nine languages. Since joining the NBC Sports Group in 2011, GOLF Channel has been one of the fastest-growing cable networks in television (2011-2013) and in 2019, golf fans streamed nearly 1 billion minutes of live and VOD content.

Monday, January 13

Actor Don Cheadle's New Role: U.S. Open Brand Ambassador

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DON CHEADLE TO THE RESCUE. The award-winning actor has joined with the USGA to boost public golf.

From the news release:

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J – The United States Golf Association (USGA) has teamed up with Academy Award-nominated actor and United Nations Environment Program Global Goodwill Ambassador Don Cheadle in an effort to increase the value of public golf to golfers, courses and communities throughout America.

Cheadle, an avid golfer with a passion for the game, recognizes that the long-term viability of the sport depends on strengthening the health of public golf, while finding ways for the game to operate in a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner.

"Growing up, I used to play public courses with my father, and I have some great memories of those rounds," said Cheadle, a veteran of dozens of acclaimed movies and TV shows. "I want to make sure that future generations of golfers are able to have access to the same opportunities that I was able to benefit from."

Cheadle will also serve as a U.S. Open brand ambassador, lending his esteemed voice and stature to showcase what makes the championship truly special.

Monday, January 6

PHOTO: Jack Fleck Warming Up Before 18-Hole Playoff With Ben Hogan at the 1955 U.S. Open

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HERE'S A FAVORITE PICTURE of Jack Fleck (1921-2014), who I wrote about in my 2012 book THE LONGEST SHOT.

This is moments before the start of an 18-hole playoff with four-time U.S. Open champion Ben Hogan to decide the 1955 U.S. Open. During warm-up, Jack liked to hit a few shots with the short and long clubs, focusing on tempo.

One of the most remarkable things Jack told me in our seven-year relationship (that became a friendship) was that he wasn't afraid of playing Ben Hogan, head to head. I asked him about this on numerous occasions. If anything, it was an honor for Jack to face Hogan, because Hogan was his idol.

But, no, Jack wasn't nervous or afraid. He was a confident ball-striker and tended to play his best on tough golf courses.

For one week in June 1955, Fleck played sublime golf on a brutal, rough-infested layout, the Olympic Club in San Francisco. He even putted well (his persistent weakness).

The virtually unknown Fleck stunned the great Hogan (and the wider world) with a three-shot victory in that playoff, still one of the greatest upsets in golf and sports.

It changed Jack's life, a lot of it good and some bad. I had the privilege to learn all about it during multiple conversations over several years. Now, as the years fly by, it's sometimes hard to believe I had that incredible opportunity.