Friday, October 30

1969 U.S. Open Champion Orville Moody Wearing a Surgical Mask While Playing Golf

NO, THIS IS NOT A JOKE.

Masks are ever-present during this global pandemic. And so when I saw a face covering in a different era and context, it caught my attention. I noticed it on Tuesday night while watching highlights of the 1972 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (won by Jack Nicklaus).

There was Orville Moody, wearing a surgical mask like in the image at right.

It turns out Moody had chronic hay fever. "Ol Sarge" wore a mask on the golf course on several occasions, whether while practicing or playing in big tournaments.

Here's what Sports Illustrated writer Barry McDermott wrote about Moody in June 1979 in "The Putter God Forgot":

Actually, things do look better for Moody. His performance and check at Houston gave him a little cushion, and his hay fever is under control now thanks to a shot he receives twice a year. In the past, Moody sometimes had to play tournaments wearing a surgical mask because of his hay fever. Naturally the newspapers ran pictures of him, and they had a lot of fun with captions of the Who's the Masked Man kind.

Moody was a character, one of the many interesting characters I met on the golf legends trail while working on my two books.

Ol Sarge endured a lot. He was down, up, down, up, down -- in golf and life. He kept at it.

McDermott captured that theme in his opening:

In the last decade or so, Orville Moody's life has been a catalog of calamity and bizarre occurrence. Among other things he lost his life savings in a business venture, escaped from a burning house, employed a caddie who routinely waded through water hazards, and had one of his golfing pay checks snatched away by an insurance company. He endured two divorces, a burglary and chronic sniffles. He also won the U.S. Open, which might have been the worst misfortune of all.

Thanks to the now-outlawed broomstick, Moody, an awful putter, would rise again on the Senior Tour.

Thursday, October 29

Callaway and Topgolf Announce All-Stock Merger Valued at $2 Billion

CARLSBAD, CA and DALLAS, TX — Callaway (NYSE:ELY) and Topgolf Entertainment Group ("Topgolf") [on Tuesday] announced that the companies have entered into a definitive merger agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Callaway and Topgolf will combine in an all-stock transaction creating a global golf and entertainment leader. The number of shares to be issued is based upon an implied equity value of Topgolf of approximately $2 billion, including the 14% already owned by Callaway.

Topgolf is the leading tech-enabled golf entertainment business, with an innovative platform that comprises its groundbreaking open-air venues, revolutionary Toptracer technology and innovative media platform with a differentiated position in eSports. Topgolf generated approximately $1.1 billion in revenue in 2019 and has grown at a 30% compound annual rate since 2017. Callaway is a leader in the global golf equipment market with a scale position in active-lifestyle soft goods and a proven ability to deliver strong returns, including company growth that has exceeded golf market growth for seven consecutive years.

"Together, Callaway and Topgolf create an unrivaled golf and entertainment business," said Chip Brewer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Callaway. "This combination unites proven leaders with a shared passion for delivering exceptional golf experiences for all – from elite touring professionals to new and aspiring entrants to the game. We've long seen the value in Topgolf and we are confident that together, we can create a larger, higher growth, technology-enabled global golf and entertainment leader. Callaway's strong financial profile will enable the combined company to accelerate innovation, develop exciting new products and experiences, and create compelling value for shareholders, while providing the dedicated teams of both companies more opportunities to showcase their talents and complementary capabilities."

"We are excited to join the Callaway family and strengthen the experiences we create at the intersection of sports and tech-driven entertainment," said Dolf Berle, Chief Executive Officer of Topgolf. "Fueled by a tremendous team of associates and a diverse offering across our venues, Toptracer, and media platform, Topgolf is truly changing the landscape of the industry by making golf more inclusive and accessible to people of all ages, demographics and skill levels. As part of Callaway, we plan to grow our leadership position by leveraging Callaway's brand reputation, industry relationships and financial strength to connect more communities around the world to the Topgolf experience."

Monday, October 26

PGA TOUR VIDEO: 'It's Really Great to Win at Home' for Patrick Cantlay Who Collects 3rd PGA Tour Title at Zozo Championship


PATRICK CANTLAY FIRED A 65 in the final round to win the Zozo Championship at Sherwood Country Club in Thousands Oaks, California. Cantlay finished at 23 under for the week to edge Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas by a stroke. It was Cantlay's third title on the PGA Tour and first in California.

"It's really great to win at home," Cantlay said. "I look forward to hopefully winning at Riviera, and anytime you win close to home it just feels a little sweeter. I felt comfortable all week. I like this cloudy California weather. I'm used to it; it's what I grew up with."

Tiger Woods won his record-tying 82nd PGA Tour title at last year's Zozo Championship in Japan. But Woods and Phil Mickelson, playing together in the final round, finished near the bottom of the leaderboard at Sherwood. Tiger closed with a 74. Phil carded a 78.

The Masters starts in less than three weeks.

Saturday, October 24

USGA: 2020 U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club to be Conducted Without Spectators

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LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – The USGA announced that due to ongoing health and safety concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic, the 75th U.S. Women's Open Championship, scheduled for Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, will be conducted without spectators on-site.

"Following extensive consultation with health officials, we have decided that hosting the U.S. Women's Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved," said John Bodenhamer, the USGA's senior managing director of Championships. "While we are disappointed that we won't be able to welcome fans and their unmatched energy at Champions Golf Club, we know this is the right decision for the community and players."

The USGA announced on April 3 that the 75th U.S. Women's Open, initially scheduled for June 4-7, would be moved to Dec. 10-13. To account for reduced daylight, the Jackrabbit Course at Champions Golf Club will be used in conjunction with the Cypress Creek Course, which was originally slated to host all four rounds of championship play. In June, it was announced that the championship would be conducted without traditional qualifying.

"We are thankful to Champions Golf Club for its continued flexibility and dedication to making the 75th U.S. Women's Open possible,” said Bodenhamer. "Jack and Robin Burke and the rest of the club have been true partners as we navigate these unprecedented times."

Tickets purchased directly through the USGA will be automatically refunded to the method of payment used to purchase the tickets. Additional information on U.S. Women's Open ticket refunds can be found here.

Fans will be able to experience the championship by watching on NBC/Golf Channel, following along on uswomensopen.com, downloading the U.S. Women's Open app, following @uswomensopen on social media and downloading the USGA streaming app for connected devices.

Friday, October 23

MORNING READ: Pinehurst's New Hickory Club Rental Program

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"ALTHOUGH PINEHURST'S OLDEST COURSES have persevered for more than a century," reported The Equipment Insider (at MORNING READ), "the resort's new hickory club rental program allows golfers to experience a round as it was played in a bygone era."

New England-based journalist Shaun Tolson had the good fortune to play Pinehurst No. 3 with a set of hickories and write about it for MORNING READ.

Here's a sample:

"It's a fun experience for individuals who have never done it and also for people who might play hickories once or twice a year," [Pinehurst head pro Matt] Barksdale said of renting a set and playing the No. 1 course, the No. 3 course, or The Cradle, Pinehurst's nine-hole short course. (Although the hickory clubs can be rented for play on any of Pinehurst's course — even the resort’s revered No. 2 layout — it's on the resort's aforementioned shorter courses that Barksdale and his team encourage their use.) 

"They go out there with no expectations whatsoever and simply enjoy the game. It really does give you an appreciation for the early years of golf and how talented those individuals really were."

Renting a set of hickory clubs for a round at Pinehurst, which costs $50, can impact more than just a singular round of golf. The simple act of carrying those clubs to the driving range can pave the way for noteworthy introductions and interactions.

Read the story.

Recently, in the midst of a move, I considered playing a round with a handful of vintage golf clubs I've collected through the years, including a few made of hickory. But then I lost my motivation. Maybe someday.

Thursday, October 22

Golf Entrepreneur Barney Adams on Extreme Distance as the Future of Championship Golf: Not So Fast

By Barney Adams

Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and is currently the CEO of Breakthrough Golf Technology.

THE ANNOUNCING CREW AT THE 2020 U.S. OPEN seemed obsessed with "The Bombers" -- players who drove the ball extreme distances with little regard for the occasional tee shot into the rough. TV has selected Bryson DeChambeau as their representative given his length and victory.

Barney Adams
I thought I'd wait a bit to see what the industry sources had to say. I can't say it's unanimous because I haven't seen everything, but the theme is: Get Ready for The Golfer of Tomorrow:

  • 350 yard carry
  • Clubhead speed which tears through the rough allowing the ball to launch high and carry to the green.
  • The "new" instructor who teaches distance be it ground up or whatever new method is used
  • Gym sessions producing athletes who look more like football players
  • And last, a whole new shelf of steroids for golf

At the same time the USGA and its organizational allies are planning meetings focusing not if the ball will be rolled back, but when. Clearly, influenced by visual evidence from a great Winged Foot course in our national championship. 

Let's look deeper!

A hypothetical -- go back a few months. You are on the planning committee for the U.S. Open to be held at Winged Foot, one of America's great venues. This year because of Covid there will be no galleries, something never experienced at a USGA major golf event. I repeat, your committee is planning for the U.S. Open. That implies "Open rough" a term that is significant on its own. You don't play from Open rough, you escape... maybe.

The nature of Open rough is a thick chunky base with long tendrils reaching skyward. These make it very difficult to find your ball in the best of circumstances and when attempting to advance these tendrils wrap themselves around your hosel closing the face, sending your ball deeper into hostile territory. That's if you can even find it.

Open rough has "disappeared" many balls over the years and done so within full view of gallery spectators aiding course marshals. The rule of thumb for competitors has always been to find the most reasonable patch of fairway and get out.

But this is the year of Covid. No galleries. Marshals, but relatively few because of no galleries.

Now, considering that normal U.S. Open rough will produce many searches where marshals are important, the shortage of them will cause endless searches which don't make for great TV viewing. So, a decision is made, cut the rough down so shots can be found. Still in the rough but sitting on the chunky base and very often can be played. A tough call for the purist but an objective economic evaluation leaves no choice.

The announcers regale us with astonishing distances and swing speeds that allow escape from Open rough that used to be impossible. The golf publications jump on this theme and predict that the golfer of tomorrow will be "DeChambeau like," not sweet swingers but physical hulks rewriting the book on distance strongly influenced by no fear of the rough.

My point here is those publications and instructors, jumping on the "longer and slightly crooked is better" bandwagon, have added 2+2 and gotten 5 when using the 2020 U.S Open as a premise.

DeChambeau is a great and powerful player. However, I don't think he's known for his putting. He should have been. It was terrific, probably influenced his score! He is our national champion, an unsurpassable honor. But his style has me betting that the USGA is working on dates to discuss changing the golf ball, as in making it shorter.

I'm 100 percent against such a move. Golf is a game where amateurs can go to the same course and play the same clubs and given a huge difference in skill achieve some measure of affiliation with the pros. A birdie is a birdie, not a long or short ball birdie. From a business perspective, the overwhelming majority of those golfers financially supporting golf are 50 plus.

And we want them to hit it shorter?

Well, Mr. Adams, what would you do?

I know zero about golf ball manufacturing, but keeping the distance the same I'd change the dimples to increase curvature just enough so it doesn't affect slower swings that much but very high swing speeds so it's in the player's head.

More thoughts. As an admitted TV viewer, get rid of those yardage books. Fine for practice rounds but when the bell rings it should be player and caddie, not an "on green" conference. What's next, a staff meeting?

I'll conclude with a note to the PGA Tour and, importantly, an admonition.

To the PGA Tour: The minute a tee goes into the ground on No. 1 every player is on the clock. Stroke penalties, not fines, will get their attention.

To the rest of the golfing world: Let's not blindly pursue the "new golfer" concept without considerably deeper study.

Tuesday, October 20

USGA History Makers: The Final Round of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and Johnny Miller's 63



I ran across this and other historical golf films on the USGA app included with my new Roku TV. You can also find them on YouTube. It's hard to believe how grainy and primitive the coverage was nearly 50 years ago. I don't remember it that way. I watched this and other major championships during my teens. This was the last time I remember Arnold Palmer (54-hole leader) contending in a major.

By USGA

HEADING INTO THE FINAL ROUND of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, there was a four-way tie for the lead, including Arnold Palmer seeking his second title. Luminaries Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino were also in the mix. Not talked about was Johnny Miller, who went from third place after 36 holes to six strokes behind the leaders heading into Sunday after a third-round 76.

But four birdies through four holes changed the conversation quickly. Here's Johnny Miller’s historic final round of the 1973 U.S. Open.

Wednesday, October 14

BBC Golf's Iain Carter: 'These Are Good Times for British Golf'

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THE BRITISH ARE COMING to play these days on professional circuits around the globe.

"[O]n pretty much every tour British players are showing up well," wrote BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter, "even among the seniors...."

This past weekend two Brits won events and others have posted high finishes or clutched trophies in recent weeks.

Carter wrote:

Within hours of [Tyrrell Hatton] lifting the BMW PGA Championship trophy, British fans were also able to celebrate another win, with Scotland's Martin Laird claiming victory on the PGA Tour in Las Vegas.

These are good times for British golf.

Wolverhampton's Aaron Rai had already demonstrated his rich potential by winning this month's Scottish Open and in the Women's PGA, Charley Hull enjoyed a creditable share of seventh at the tough Aronimink Golf Club in Pennsylvania.

Still only 24, that was Hull's sixth top 10 finish in a major and followed consecutive wins on the LPGA Tour for fellow Englishwomen Georgia Hall and Mel Reid.

Hatton, who drew attention for wearing a hoodie at Wentworth, talked about how "golf is a funny game."

He said, "You have to go out each week, try your best, and some weeks work out better than others."

That's more than a bit of truth.

Tuesday, October 13

PGA TOUR Statement: Dustin Johnson Tests Positive for COVID-19 and Withdraws From CJ Cup


PGA TOUR Statement on Dustin Johnson

PGA TOUR member Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from THE CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEK after testing positive for COVID-19. Experiencing symptoms, Johnson notified PGA TOUR officials and was administered a test, with the positive result forcing his withdrawal from the event.

Johnson, who last competed at the U.S. Open, will have the PGA TOUR's full support throughout his self-isolation period under CDC guidelines. 

"Obviously, I am very disappointed," said Johnson. "I was really looking forward to competing this week, but will do everything I can to return as quickly as possible. I have already had a few calls with the TOUR's medical team and appreciate all the support and guidance they have given me."

First alternate J.T. Poston will replace Johnson in the field.

"The No. 1 player in golf is the 11th player to receive a positive test since the PGA Tour resumed its schedule," reported the Associated Press.

Saturday, October 10

MORNING READ VIDEO: How to Grip a Golf Club by Golf Channel Host Martin Hall

 
IN THE FIRST OF A NEW SERIES on MORNING READ, Martin Hall, Golf Channel host and director of instruction at the Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, Fla., explains how to grip a golf club the right way every time, which will help produce a consistent swing plane and lower your golf scores.

Friday, October 9

NPR: TV Ratings Are Down; Where Are the Fans Who Missed Sports in Pandemic?

I HEARD THE ABOVE NPR REPORT while driving around yesterday. I hadn't given much thought to some aspects of the return of sports.

For example, at this very moment, it seems that every major and minor sport is back in play after taking a long timeout due to the pandemic. That's far from normal.

It's a new kind of competition for our attention. Everything is now available to watch in some format, as the report describes. Plus it's an election year. That's creating a bit of noise, too.

Here's the setup by host Audie Cornish:

Sports has a TV ratings problem. In recent big events - from horse racing, to hockey, to golf, to basketball - numbers are down, sometimes to historic lows, which is surprising because during the shutdown of the pandemic, many fans said they were desperate for their return. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

How are you reengaging with televised golf and other sports? 

Wednesday, October 7

KPMG Women's PGA Championship Broadcast Schedule and Tournament Notes

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THE KPMG WOMEN'S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP tees off Thursday at Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square, Pennsylvania. The purse is $4.3 million. The winner's share is $645,000.

Australian Hannah Green is the defending champion.

First and second round tee times are here.

The field is one of the strongest of the season, including all 11 LPGA winners this year such as the most recent champion, Mel Reid, who got her first win on the LPGA Tour at last week's ShopRite LPGA Classic. Along with Reid will be the first two major champions of 2020 – Sophia Popov and Mirim Lee – plus Danielle Kang, a two-time winner in 2020 and 2017 KPMG Women's PGA Champion. Others include Gaby Lopez, Madelene Sagstrom, Hee Young Park, three-time KPMG Women's PGA Champion Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Austin Ernst and Georgia Hall.

Golf Channel and NBC Broadcast Schedule

Thursday, October 8: 1-5 p.m. Golf Channel

Friday, October 9: 1-5 p.m. Golf Channel

Saturday, October 10: 11 a.m.-noon Golf Channel; Noon-3 p.m. NBC

Sunday, October 11: 10 a.m.-noon Golf Channel; Noon-2 p.m. NBC

Monday, October 5

PGA TOUR VIDEO: Sergio Garcia Wins Sanderson Farms Championship Putting With Eyes Closed


SERGIO GARCIA WON THE SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP at the Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi. It was his 11th victory on the PGA Tour and first since winning the 2017 Masters.

Garcia shot a 67 in the final round to finish 19 under for the tournament, one shot better than runner-up Peter Malnati, a previous champion.

The Spaniard putted with his eyes closed much of the week (or maybe all of it).

“Well, it's obviously a boost of confidence," Garcia said. “There's no doubt.

"Even if I would have not won it, it still would have been a massive high for me this week. To be able to do a lot of the things that I did, it meant a lot. It showed me a lot of what I still have, and what I still can do."

Saturday, October 3

Sergio Garcia on Putting With Eyes Closed: 'The Feeling Overall Is Very Positive'

SERGIO GARCIA SHOT A 68 in the second round of the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi. And he putted with his eyes closed. Sergio recorded five birdies and is in contention at 8 under for the tournament.

Golfworld quoted him saying:

"Usually. I've gone on and off, but like Augusta I won it playing with my eyes closed every single putt and some of the other wins, too," Garcia said on Friday at the Country Club of Jackson. "I've tried -- I feel like it gives me a little more freedom to feel the stroke instead of kind of -- sometimes we get too focused on trying to make it perfect and kind of following with the eyes and everything. So this way I feel like I just feel it and I just let me natural ability kind of take over instead of telling myself what to do.

"Obviously that's what I've been doing, and just trying to keep the stroke very smooth. These greens obviously help because they're very fast, so yeah, I felt like I've hit a lot of good putts. I made a few, I've obviously missed a few, but the feeling overall is very positive."

As Golfworld reported, other tour pros have putted with their eyes closed. Namely, Johnny Miller in the 1994 Pebble Beach Pro-Am (which he won) and more recently LPGA stars Lexi Thompson and Suzann Pettersen.

Friday, October 2

Golfworld: Poland's 'Greatest-Ever Golfer' Is 6 Foot 6 and Trying to Make It on the European Tour

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"GOLF ISN'T A BIG DEAL in Poland," wrote Golfworld's John Huggan.

But Huggan also noted that's changing as tall countryman Adrian Meronk is progressing in the pro-tour ranks.

Here's an excerpt:

Golf in Poland is growing, the number of golfers more than doubling in the last decade to nearly 5,700 in 2018 (out of a total population of 37.8 million). And Adrian Meronk is helping lead the way. Completing a series of precedent-setting achievements on his way around professional golf's increasingly sharp learning curve, the 27-year-old former East Tennessee State student is the first card-holding Polish native on the European Tour. Also first to play in a European Tour event and win on the Challenge Tour, Meronk graduated fifth from the Old World's second circuit at the end of 2019. He is, by a distance and to the surprise of no one, Poland's greatest-ever golfer.

As you'd expect, that last accolade makes him laugh. But the distance between Meronk and his compatriots continues to grow. Victory in the 2019 Portugal Open—one of his 10 top-10s on the Challenge Tour last year—is a career highlight so far, but there have been others on the upward trajectory this 6-foot-6 big man has followed.

Meronk was an alternate for this week's Scottish Open.

In the Golfworld story, Meronk described what it's like to blaze the golf trail:

 "My friends did think I was a little bit odd. I played almost every sport, but I was the only one who played golf. So that was a shock for them. I think it still is. When people at home ask me what I do for a living, and I tell them, it is always a surprise for them. I'm still a bit of an oddity, something I'm trying to change."

Read the story.