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.


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."