Friday, June 14

The Wall Street Caddy: Pebble Beach Is Not a True Links Course

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By Mark Vigil

Guest contributor Mark Vigil is The Wall Street Caddy.

THE MUCH ANTICIPATED 119TH U.S. OPEN is underway. The golf world is filled with anticipation: Tiger Woods continues his pursuit of another major victory; Phil Mickelson will try to complete his grand slam; Brooks Koepka will try to be the second golfer to win three consecutive U.S. Open titles. (More than a hundred years ago, Willie Anderson was the first.)

The host venue is the fabled Pebble Beach Golf Links. Pebble Beach is rated the top public golf course in America; however, I would argue this honor goes to Bethpage Black. But that is a subject for another day.

Pebble Beach Golf Links has lived in the imagination of golfers and non-golfers since Bing Crosby's clambake was first televised in the early 1960s. It was forever branded into golfers' brains as they watched telecasts of U.S. Opens in 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000 and 2010. And for those golfers who have played a round at Pebble Beach, the experience is unique.

The layout tucks itself comfortably into the Carmel Bay, like one's head on a soft cool pillow on a sultry summer night. It was designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, two amateur golfers.  (Neville won the inaugural California State Amateur and Grant would move to England where he assumed captain duties at Royal St. George.) 

Jack Nicklaus famously remarked that if he had one round to play, "I'd play Pebble Beach." Nicklaus would also argue that the approach shot to the 8th green over the chasm is the best second shot in all of golf. It is hard to argue with Jack on his latter comment.

Pebble Beach's beauty resides on the eight seaside holes which begin with the approach shot to the 3rd green and last until the tee shot away from the sea at the 11th hole. The walk along these holes makes one wonder if these holes would have been espied by Adam in the Garden of Eden.

The glory of Carmel Bay remains in the golfer's vision as he plays the inward nine holes on top of the plateau overlooking Carmel Bay. Mother Nature's full beauty re-emerges for the golfer as he departs the 16th green and walks west to the famed 17th tee box.

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In 1972, it was on the 17th tee box where Jack Nicklaus knifed a 1-iron to kick in range to secure his second U.S. Open victory. A decade later Tom Watson would chip in on the famed hour-glass green to defeat Jack Nicklaus by 2 strokes, winning his only U.S. Open.

The 18th hole was originally a 379 yard par 4. In 1921 William Fowler redesigned the 18th hole, transforming it into the best finishing hole in golf. The 18th tee box juts out into Carmel Bay and on most days the waves crash up onto the teeing area spraying golfers with the bay's holy water. 

Frankly, the tee shot is a tribute to the famed first tee shot at Mcahhanarish Golf Club designed by Old Tom Morris and considered to be the best opening hole in golf.

To be sure, Pebble Beach Golf Links deserves its iconic status and it truly represents one of golf's "hallowed grounds."  However, I must inform everyone that Pebble Beach is not a true links golf course. In fact, the only true links golf in the western United States is located on the Oregon coast at Bandon Dunes.

Nope, the only similarities between Pebble Beach and a true links golf course are the unpredictable weather and the natural beauty.

The word "links" is from the old English word "hlic," which means rising ridge or an area of coastal sand dunes. Links topography rests on a raised beach or on a marine platform which rises no more than 50 feet above the sea. Links topography resembles lunar landscapes due to centuries of howling winds racing across these plateaus creating dune ridges and land valleys, and protective nooks and crannies, known today as bunkers, which in earlier times provided the sheep herder and his flock a small hovel of protection from the raging storms.

The sandy soil on these raised beaches allows for superb drainage and it is ideally suited for vegetation of long wispy natural grasses like fescue and heather, beloved by sheep; and of prickly gorse bushes, which bloom spectacularly in spring and which provide a safe haven for birds and other small animals from various predators.

The turf is a good source of food for sheep, small rodents and scurrying leporidaes, and totally useless for any other agricultural purpose.

Thankfully, the bored ancient sheep herders tried to get a round object into an old rabbit hole using crooked sticks.

I encourage all golfers to closely watch the U.S. Open on a good HDTV so the true glory of Pebble Beach can be enjoyed. Just remember, it is a seaside course and not a true links course.

Mark Vigil is founder of Class 5 Advisors LLC, an advisory firm. He is a master caddy, and he is also a passionate links golf enthusiast who has traveled extensively throughout Scotland seeking out links courses. He is currently writing a book entitled, Searching for the Spirit of Old Tom Morris. You can follow Mark on Instagram at #golfbyrails

Wednesday, June 12

2019 U.S. Open TV Schedule and Live Streaming Coverage

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THE U.S. OPEN WILL HAVE more than 46 hours of network coverage on FOX and FS1.
                                     
Date             Network                                   Broadcast Hours (Local/EDT)
June 12        FS1                                           Wednesday, 12:30-3 p.m.
June 13        FS1                                           First Round, 12:30-7:30 p.m.
                     FOX                                          First Round, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
June 14        FS1                                           Second Round, 12:30-7:30 p.m.
                     FOX                                          Second Round, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
June 15        FOX                                          Third Round, Noon-10 p.m.
June 16        FOX                                          Fourth Round, 2-10 p.m.

LIVE STREAMING COVERAGE
There will be 117 hours of live streaming coverage on usopen.com and U.S. Open app channels.

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Tuesday, June 11

If You Go: Visit the Lexus Performance Experience at the 2019 U.S. Open

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THE U.S. OPEN IS BACK at Pebble Beach Golf Links. So is Lexus, the longtime partner and official vehicle of the United States Golf Association (USGA).

This week at Pebble Beach, Lexus is providing golf fans a range of activities at the Lexus Performance Experience tent. They include:
  • Autograph sessions with Lexus golfers Jason Day, Peter Jacobsen and Johnny Miller
  • A chance to win a two-year lease on a 2019 Lexus UX with a simulated hole-in-one challenge
  • The Lexus Epic Putt opportunity to win a golf clinic with Lexus Golf Ambassadors
"From thrilling racing simulators to rewarding hole-in-one challenges, we connect with golfers of all ages in memorable and unique ways throughout the tournament," said Lisa Materazzo, vice president of Lexus marketing.

The Lexus Performance Experience is located near the main entrance in Fan Central. Following are more details about the various activities.

With the Lexus Racing RC F GT3 Driving Simulator, fans have the chance to step into the driver's seat of an RC F GT3 racecar for an exhilarating experience.

Attendees are also invited to hone their golfing skills with the Lexus Hole-in-One Challenge. The fan that sinks the ball in this simulated replica of the famous par-three 7th hole from the Pebble Beach Golf Links will win a two-year lease on a 2019 Lexus UX, the automaker’s first-ever luxury compact crossover.

Additional activities include the "Putt Like a Pro" simulation, photo opportunities with the U.S. Open Trophy and autograph sessions with Lexus Golf Ambassadors*Jason Day, Patrick Cantlay and Charles Howell III, among others.

For the first time, fans are also invited to take part in the Epic Putt presented by Lexus. Located at the bottom of the hill in Fan Central, the Epic Putt gives fans the opportunity to attempt three putts on a Pebble Beach putting green. Fans who make the third and final "epic putt" will win a prize and exclusive access to a golf clinic with Lexus Golf Ambassadors.

Lexus will also offer 100 VIP parking spaces for owners driving their Lexus vehicles to the U.S. Open on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, Lexus Hotel Partner Pebble Beach Resorts is offering a complimentary shuttle in Lexus vehicles to all hotel guests during the championship weekend.

Over the course of the championship, Lexus will provide more than 300 courtesy vehicles to players and officials. Several Lexus vehicles will be displayed throughout the grounds, including the 2020 RX F SPORT prototype, ES 300h, LS 500 F SPORT and NX 300 F SPORT. The LC 500 Inspiration Series and the RC F Track Edition can be viewed in the Lexus Performance Experience tent. Also located within the Epic Putt experience, fans will find a modified Lexus UX with a golf theme.

*Current Lexus Golf Ambassadors include: Jason Day, Patrick Cantlay, Charles Howell III, Wesley Bryan, Jamie Sadlowski, Lydia Ko, Annika Sörenstam, Natalie Gulbis, Johnny Miller, Peter Jacobsen, Mark O'Meara and Mark Pfeil.

Monday, June 10

2019 U.S Open and Pebble Beach Fact Sheet




This is the 119th U.S. Open Championship.

PAR AND YARDAGE              
Pebble Beach Golf Links will be set up at 7,075 yards and will play to a par of 35-36—71. The yardage for each round of the championship will vary due to course setup and conditions.

Pebble Beach Golf Links Hole By Hole
Hole123456789Total
Par44443534435
Yardage3805164043311955231094285263,412
Hole101112131415161718Total
Par44345443536
Yardage4953902024455803974032085433,663

ARCHITECTS
Jack Neville and Douglas S. Grant designed Pebble Beach Golf Links, which opened in 1919.

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 June 13 (Thursday) through June 16 (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.

TITLE DEFENSE
Brooks Koepka is attempting to become the second player to win three consecutive U.S. Open Championships after his victories at Erin Hills in 2017 and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in 2018. Willie Anderson, a Scottish professional, won his third in a row at Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Mass., in 1905, a two-stroke triumph over Alex Smith. Anderson and Koepka are among seven players to win in consecutive years. The group includes John J. McDermott (1911, 1912), a-Robert T. Jones Jr. (1929, 1930), Ralph Guldahl (1937, 1938), Ben Hogan (1950, 1951) and Curtis Strange (1988, 1989).

WHAT THE WINNER RECEIVES
Among the benefits enjoyed by the U.S. Open winner are:
  • A U.S. Open exemption for the next 10 years
  • An invitation to the next five Masters Tournaments
  • An invitation to the next five Open Championships, conducted by The R&A
  • An invitation to the next five PGA Championships
  • An invitation to the next five Players Championships
  • Exempt status on the PGA Tour for five years

QUALIFYING FOR THE OTHER MAJORS        
The top 10 finishers (and ties) are exempt into the following year's U.S. Open. The top four finishers (and ties) are invited to next year's Masters Tournament.

PURSE
The 2018 purse was $12 million; the winner earned $2.16 million. The 2019 purse will total $12.5 million, highest among golf’s major championships.

PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS NOTES
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted the U.S. Open Championship in five consecutive decades
  • The 119th U.S. Open is the 13th USGA championship to be conducted at the resort
  • The 2019 U.S. Open will be the 13th played in California and sixth at Pebble Beach Golf Links
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links will also host the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2027 U.S. Open
  • The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a PGA Tour event, has been held at the resort since 1947
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links has served as host of a PGA Tour Champions event since 2004
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links is celebrating its centennial in 2019

PEBBLE BEACH HISTORY
Pebble Beach Golf Links is part of the famous 17-Mile Drive, which was originally designed as a local excursion route for visitors to the Del Monte to take in the historic sights of Monterey and Pacific Grove and the scenery of what would become Pebble Beach. The course was designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant and opened on Feb. 22, 1919. Neville's objective was to place as many of the holes as possible along the Monterey coastline and he accomplished this by using a "figure 8" layout. The first professional tournament held at Pebble Beach was the 1926 Monterey Peninsula Open. In 1929, the course hosted the U.S. Amateur Championship for the first time. In 1947, Pebble Beach became one of the host courses for the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, which is currently known as the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Pebble Beach has hosted 12 USGA championships, including five U.S. Opens and five U.S. Amateurs, and was the site of the 1977 PGA Championship. The course has also hosted the PGA Tour Champions' PURE Insurance Championship since 2004.

VIDEO: Rory McIlroy Fires 61 En Route to 7-Shot Victory at RBC Canadian Open



RORY MCILROY WAS ON FIRE in Canada.

Will it carry over to Pebble Beach this week when Rory tees it up with the world's best players for the 2019 U.S. Open?

McIlroy collected his 16th PGA Tour victory at the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday. The Northern Irishman looked invincible. A birdie at the last hole would have given the four-time major winner a 59. Instead, Rory bogeyed for a 61 and still lapped the field.

"I'm playing well," McIlroy said. "I found a little groove and I want to keep it going."

Shane Lowry and Webb Simpson tied for second at 15 under. Canadian Adam Hadwin finished sixth.

This year's RBC Canadian Open at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ontario moved to an earlier date on the tour schedule and attracted large galleries.

Wednesday, June 5

Pete Crozier's 'Fifty for Father': 50 Days, 50 States, 50 Golf Courses

FFF Explainer V9 (2) from Derek Koenig on Vimeo.

PETE CROZIER IS ON A MISSION.

Pete's father died from complications of Type 2 diabetes. His teenage son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 4.

To raise awareness, Crozier is playing 50 golf courses in 50 states in 50 days. It's the "Fifty for Father" drive. Oh yeah, his father was a golfer.

Along the way, Crozier is accepting donations that will support the work of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Follow his journey at FiftyforFather.com.

(H/T Where to Golf Next)

Monday, June 3

VIDEO: Patrick Cantlay Charges to Victory at Memorial Tournament



PATRICK CANTLAY IS EARNING a reputation as a fierce competitor. That rep was bolstered on Sunday when Cantlay fired a 64 to win the Memorial Tournament by two strokes in Dublin, Ohio.

Cantlay charged past 54-hole leader Martin Kaymer (72) and held off a resurgent Adam Scott (68) to finish 19 under and pick up his second PGA Tour victory. With the win, Cantlay cracked the top 10 in the world rankings, rising to No. 8.

Memorial Tournament host Jack Nicklaus likes the 27-year-old UCLA product.

"His game is very suited for majors," Nicklaus said. "Drives the ball very straight. His iron game is obviously very good. He's got a good attitude. He’'s not trying to do something flashy. He tries to play good, solid golf. And that's really what it takes to play major-championship golf."

Nicklaus added: "Patrick reminds me a lot of me at being serious. I got so wrapped up in what I was doing, I forgot about everything else going on around me."

Pebble Beach is straight ahead for Cantlay and others. He may be ready to take that next step.

"I really like major-championship golf," Cantlay said. "I feel like it suits my game. As far as I'm concerned, the rough can't be long enough, the fairways can't be narrow enough, the greens can't be fast enough. I love golf like that."

From an attitude standpoint, that puts Cantlay ahead of much of the U.S. Open field. Several players, including Phil Mickelson, can't seem to gripe enough about the U.S. Open setup and aim some of their best shots at the USGA.

Thursday, May 30

Floyd County and Virginia Tech Grad Amanda Hollandsworth Tees Off in 2019 U.S. Women's Open



HERE'S A HEARTWARMING STORY from my neck of the woods.

Amanda Hollandworth hails from tiny Floyd, Virginia, where she and her older sister Jessica grew up playing golf, dominating the region and state during their high school days. They went on to play at Virginia Tech (Amanda) and University of Maryland (Jessica).

Now Amanda is playing in her first U.S. Women's Open at the Country Club of Charleston. Jessica, the women's golf coach at James Madison University, is Amanda's caddie this week.

"Amanda Hollandsworth is living proof that even if you're from a small town, your dreams can be as big as you dare," said NBC affiliate WSLS Roanoke.

"I just got goosebumps in 100 degree weather," Amanda said, "just thinking about how much support I have behind me. And if, for some reason, this doesn't work out the way it's supposed to, I know I'm still going to have that support. It's not golf that defines who I am to the community."