Friday, December 30

Shooting a 79 at Age 92

Jerry Yellin didn't shoot his age. He obliterated it.
(Images courtesy of Steven Yellin)

IF WE LIVE LONG ENOUGH and play well enough, we might shoot our age, or even better it. It's a wonderful achievement when you consider it. I remember many years ago how Arnold Palmer shot a 66 when he was 66 (or maybe 67) at a Senior Tour event in the Seattle area on a golf course I occasionally played.

I recall 80-year-old Jack Fleck (about whom I wrote my first book) shooting a 77 at Firestone Country Club in the 2002 Senior PGA Championship. Think about that for a second. Tom Watson was impressed. While interviewed after his round, Watson said the media should be talking to Fleck.

[For golf equipment reviews, visit]

There are many other fine examples of the famous and not-so-famous accomplishing the shoot-your-age feat. I want to share one I learned about the other day courtesy of a Facebook friend named Steven Yellin.

His father Jerry, age 92 and smiling broadly, carded a 79, which included a 1-over 36 on the incoming nine. That news garnered over 300 likes, 12 shares and countless comments on Facebook.

"Not too sure this has happened before," Steven wrote. "92 years old. 79. Played it as it lies. Historic."

Congratulations to Jerry. You're my newest golf hero.

[Shoes for all occasions at]

Thursday, December 29

My Mail Goes to Greensboro

After thousands of golf stories, I want to share on other topics. This commentary appeared in the Roanoke Times last month.

MARDI GRAS REVELERS TREK TO NEW ORLEANS, cliff swallows return to San Juan Capistrano and my mail goes to Greensboro. By way of Roanoke. From my post office in Floyd (Virginia). That’s two cities and two states to send a letter within one town of 450 people that’s less than a square mile in area.

This doesn’t pose a significant problem, but it does make me grin. My mail might travel farther than some of those wintering birds, for all I know. I could probably deliver it myself, on foot, in 15 minutes.

I think about this as the holiday season commences and my local post office on East Main Street faces that annual avalanche of cards, letters and packages. There’s Wanda and Jack at the counter and the rest of the dependable personnel who provide mail service to my town and county. They’re helpful and steady. They don’t crack under seasonal pressure.

When I send a Christmas card to a friend in town, it will be put on a truck to Roanoke, and then put on what I expect is a bigger truck to Greensboro. The card will come back the same way, a round trip of about 270 miles. And then it will be delivered to a mail box less than a mile from where it started.

This isn’t new. The mail headed to Greensboro beginning in 2015 when the Rutherford Avenue processing center in Roanoke was consolidated with operations in North Carolina’s third-largest city. At that time, the Roanoke facility was one of 82 mail-processing centers in 37 states targeted for consolidation.

The Greensboro plan was designed to save money. The U.S. Postal Service saw a 25 percent decrease in mail volume since 2007. Annual revenue had dropped by $10 billion. Drastic measures were needed.

What makes smart business sense is odd for the customer, though. I’m still not used to seeing that Greensboro postmark on my mail.

This A to B via C and D routing would not work well for other things. For example, if a friend asked me to give him a ride in town, he would not appreciate a side trip to Roanoke, Greensboro, Roanoke and then to his destination in Floyd. That would be far too lengthy and flat out ridiculous.

The truth is, as long as I’ve lived here, my mail has gone to Roanoke. Yet I never gave it much thought. Shoot, I go to Roanoke. A lot of people in Floyd go to Roanoke, for one reason or another. It can be a regular trip.

But Greensboro? Not only is it two hours away, it’s in another state.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Greensboro. It’s a hospitable city. I’ve eaten good barbecue there. Obviously, my mail spends time there. I also want to stress that I appreciate the USPS. I value its long history and am amused by its personality and delivery quirks. I still depend on the mail.

So, during these holidays, with good cheer, I’ll bid farewell to cards mailed to folks in my little town. “Have a nice trip to the big cities. Hurry back! We’ll be waiting for you right here, in Floyd.”

Wednesday, December 28

Official World Golf Ranking as 2016 Closes

AS 2016 COMES TO AN END, Australian Jason Day sits atop the golf world. Day was ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) for a total of 44 weeks this year. Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth round out the top 5.

The pecking order can change rather quickly, as I recall Jordan Spieth's dominance in 2015. Now there are four elite golfers ahead of him in the rankings. And as we've seen more recently, Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, currently at No. 6, is a player on the rise, someone to watch as the new year begins.

The top 10 also reflects the global strength of the game: four Americans, two Australians, two Swedes, and a player each from Northern Ireland and Japan.

What will 2017 bring?

Tuesday, December 27

VIDEO: Greg Norman Is Worried About Jason Day's Back

GREG NORMAN GIVES A FAIRLY TECHNICAL explanation why World No. 1 Jason Day has back troubles and can expect more problems because of his golf swing. One factor: hip speed.

Monday, December 26

2016 Rewind: America Is Great Again in Ryder Cup

The following piece originally published on October 3, 2016.

I WAS A YOUNGER MAN the last time the United States gripped the Ryder Cup trophy and sprayed champagne, way back in 2008 in the state of Kentucky. In fact, I was there at Valhalla early in that week. Kenny Perry was on that U.S. team. And Chad Campbell. And Ben Curtis. And Anthony Kim. (Remember him?) That's how long ago it was.

It was an ancient season during which Paul Azinger was the U.S. captain and there was giddiness about a player grouping system called "pods."

Now, thankfully, American fans won't have to hearken back to those Ryder Cup days of old. Instead, we can hearken back to yesterday -- USA's 17-11 romp at Hazeltine in the upper Midwest. From top to bottom, from young (Patrick Reed) to old (Phil Mickelson), the U.S. squad was brilliant when it counted, and in all formats: foursomes, fourballs and singles.

Putts rolled into the hole from everywhere, in every session. The boys closed out matches. They manhandled the pressure. They were a team in the best sense of the word. They had fun.

I cannot recall a better Ryder Cup performance by either side. But I admit my memory is fading and that I was dazzled by so many putts rolling into the cup on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The European dominance of the Ryder Cup is over, or at least interrupted until Paris in 2018.


Patrick Reed played and strutted as if powered by rocket fuel. "I knew today was going to be tough going against a guy like Rory," he said after winning his singles match 1 up, "especially with how he was playing earlier this week."

Shaky at times, captain's picks Rickie Fowler and Ryan Moore came through on Sunday. "This is unbelievable right now to actually get the point that clinched it for us," Moore said.

Rookie Brooks Koepka went 3-1-0. Brandt Snedeker was undefeated, going 3-0. Every U.S. player won at least one match.

Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia played what must have been the greatest singles match in the history of the Ryder Cup. After a total of 19 birdies, they halved their match, both shooting 63.

Why the U.S. turnaround?

The United States played at home and fielded a strong team, no doubt. And they were a team, or a "family," as the players, captain and vice captains constantly said. They have always wanted to win, but I don't ever recall seeing them more committed to the Ryder Cup and each other.

This time it apparently meant more to them, especially to Phil Mickelson, who assumed a lion's share of leadership after so many past Ryder Cup disappointments and after unleashing harsh criticism toward Captain Tom Watson and the PGA of America in the wake of another bitter loss in 2014. Lefty and his teammates were certainly tired of losing and cataloging their excuses every two years.

Whatever the reasons for the reversal, this time it was the Americans who played better, as European Captain Darren Clarke pointed out. Hopefully, Captain Clarke, who had six rookies and two subpar picks (Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer), will not be lambasted like Nick Faldo in 2008. Of course, I wouldn't bet on it. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you don't want to be the losing Ryder Cup captain.

Lastly, I am very pleased for Captain Davis Love III, who was at the helm at Medinah in 2012 when his U.S. team collapsed after building a 10-6 lead. I've always believed that Love was a very good captain whose 2012 team should have won the Cup.

"I'm just proud of these guys," Love said on Sunday. "They had a lot of pressure on them for the last two years."

So did Love, a victorious Ryder Cup captain at last.

Thursday, December 22

How to Be a Golf Expert During the Holidays

"HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS?" asks Josh Berhow at "Trying to fit in with your future father-in-law or impress your know-it-all uncle? We are here to help.

"Don't fret if you aren't a golf expert but the sport pops into your family's conversation while eating cookies, drinking eggnog and listening to oldie Christmas tunes. Here's everything you need to know about the State of Golf to impress those around you."

In his column, Berhow covers the questions and answers a "golf expert" needs to know, including:

How is Tiger playing?
What happened to Jordan Spieth at the Masters?
Who won the Ryder Cup?
What are the hot new courses?

And more.

I have a hunch that many of you already know this stuff. That you could have written the article yourself. That you're not worried about impressing anybody with your golf knowledge.

Wednesday, December 21

BBC's Iain Carter on Outgoing PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem

TIM FINCHEM HAS BEEN AT THE HELM of the PGA Tour since 1994. Finchem's tenure as PGA Tour Commissioner will end soon. Deputy commish Jay Monahan will take over.

Recently, Finchem had a wide-ranging conversation with BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter that published on Monday.

The Tour's accomplishments and disappointments are covered, including the emergence of Tiger Woods and a new era in golf:
The biggest influence during his time in charge has undoubtedly been Tiger Woods. Finchem was two years into his job when the man who went on to win 14 majors first arrived on the scene. 
"It helped fuel everything we were trying to do," said the out-going commissioner. 
But despite having a black man dominate the game for the best part of two decades, there has been no significant increase in elite players emerging from communities beyond traditional white-dominated golfing heartlands.
 Read the entire article.

Tuesday, December 20

Plaque Excludes Members of Muirfield Golf Club

Point made.

Monday, December 19

2016 Rewind: No Amen for Jordan Spieth

The following piece originally published on April 11, 2016.

JORDAN SPIETH WAS HARRY HOUDINI at Augusta National Golf Club, but even he couldn't escape two balls in the water at No. 12, the world's most famous par-3 hole, a watery grave for so many on their quest for a Green Jacket. And it will happen again. You can be sure of it.

Spieth made the turn in 32 after four straight birdies. He had a five-shot lead with nine holes to play. But after two bogeys and two poor swings on the 12th, the centerpiece of Amen Corner, there was no "amen" for Jordan, only the worst kind of misery in major championship golf.

"Buddy, it feels like we're collapsing," the 22-year-old defending champion said to his caddie, Michael Greller.

From Friday on, it looked as if Spieth's game was held together with bailing wire, duct tape, super glue and unspoken prayers. His tempo was off, he was fidgety and he was missing both left and right, but mostly right.

Yet his immaculate short game saved him again and again, and, as one person commented, he putted like God himself. That Spieth could lead the Masters by five strokes after 63 holes seemed like a miracle. Bogeys at 10 and 11 cut the margin, but the gutty Texan was still in control as he strolled to the 155-yard 12th, where the shot was a stock 9-iron, he later said.

My last thought before that fateful swing on the 12th tee was this: "Whatever you do, don't hit it in the water!"

Inexplicable as it seemed late on Sunday afternoon, Jordan Spieth had finally put himself in a position from which he couldn't escape. His putting could not save him this time. It could not undo the transgression of aiming at a right-hand pin on 12 when you have the Masters lead. As much as the golf gods had smiled on young Spieth, they had to be frowning at that play.

Up ahead, Englishman Danny Willett was playing the golf of his life while Spieth was drowning in Rae's Creek. The world No. 12 player birdied 13, 14 and 16. His par save at 17 displayed nerves of steel and a textbook par at 18 completed a 67, the best round of the day. Willett had done everything necessary to give himself a chance at a Green Jacket. It was a stellar performance.

So, did Jordan Spieth give away the Masters or did Danny Willett win it?

That's an easy one for me. Both.

Friday, December 16

Nice Swing, Nice Beach

(Video used with permission.)

IF YOU ARE LIKE ME, you might be thinking of warmer days, even days that include golf. So let's live vicariously through Christian L├╝demann for a few seconds as he showcases his fine golf swing on a distant beach.

Notice his takeaway, his position at the top and his tempo, balance and finish. What's not to like about this swing?

Christian is from Germany and lives in Saanen, Switzerland. We are friends (on Facebook). Thanks to him for sharing.

VIDEO: Golf's Greatest Champions Remember 'The King'

I SPOTTED THIS SHORT VIDEO from @TheOpen, the official Twitter account of The Open Championship.

Watch clips of Arnold Palmer and listen to the greats talk about him. These guys: Lee Trevino, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Tony Jacklin and Ernie Els.

Thursday, December 15

Associated Press: 'Stenson Awards'

IN A TUESDAY GOLF COLUMN, the Associated Press wrote about the "Stenson Awards." They were  referring to Henrik Stenson, of course, who, as I was reminded, had a phenomenal year.

What did 40-year-old Henrik win?

European Tour Player of the Year.
The Race to Dubai.
A silver medal at the Rio Olympics.
The Open Championship.
Golf Writers Trophy (awarded by Britain's Association of Golf Writers).
The BMW International Open.

As you might recall, Stenson set a major championship record of 264 at the Open Championship, closing with a 63 in a stirring duel with Phil Mickelson.

Stenson said, "I'll never grow tired of being weighed down by trophies."

Wednesday, December 14

Golf Channel to Air Best Golf Moments of 2016

HEY GOLF JUNKIES. RELIVE THE BEST golf moments of 2016. Following is the complete rundown from Golf Channel's news release. (Check your local TV listings for times.)

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 13, 2016 – Golf Channel will tie a bow on 2016 by giving viewers a look back on some of the most memorable moments from the year that was, beginning today and continuing through Friday, Dec. 30. From Lydia Ko claiming her first major championship in April, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson’s unforgettable duel at Royal Troon in July; golf’s return to the Olympic Games for the first time in more than 100 years in August; and the United States’ Ryder Cup redemption at Hazeltine, 2016 has provided no shortage of memorable moments in golf.

In total, more than 300 hours of encore 2016 tournament programming will air between today and Friday, Dec. 30. For the first time, Golf Channel will air an encore of every 2016 PGA TOUR final round airing in succession, Tuesday, Dec. 13 through Sunday, Dec. 18. And, the top-10 “Fan Favorite” rounds from 2016 as voted by viewers will air in primetime (in descending order) Monday-Friday, Dec. 19-23 and Dec. 26-30. Other highlights include:

Rio Olympic Games – Monday, Dec. 19:
Final rounds of both the women’s and men’s Olympic Golf competition in the sport’s return to the Olympic Games for the first time in more than 100 years. Korea’s Inbee Park claimed gold in spite of having received pressure from some in her native country for even playing given her nagging thumb injury, and Great Britain’s Justin Rose edged out Sweden’s Henrik Stenson for gold on the men’s side.

Women’s Majors – Tuesday, Dec. 20:
Highlighted by Lydia Ko winning her first major at the ANA Inspiration in April; Brooke Henderson outlasting Ko in a playoff to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June; the United States’ improbable comeback to win the International Crown in July; and In Gee Chun’s win at the Evian Championship, setting a record for lowest score ever in a major (men’s or women’s) in relation to par. 

PGA TOUR Champions – Wednesday, Dec. 21: Events revisited include Bernhard Langer’s win at the Regions Tradition in May; Rocco Mediate’s first-career major title at the Senior PGA Championship; Langer’s victory at the Constellation Senior Players Championship to move within one senior major championship of Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record; and Langer winning his third consecutive season-long Charles Schwab Cup.  

Junior Golf – Wednesday, Dec. 21:
Encore airings of both the 2016 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals in April from Augusta National Golf Club, and the 2016 PGA Junior League Golf National Championship in November at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

NCAA Golf – Thursday, Dec. 22: The Washington Huskies women’s golf team claimed the first national championship in program history in May, taking down defending national champion Stanford, 3-2. On the men’s side, Oregon similarly claimed its first national title in June (also 3-2 and coming down to extra holes), in front of its home crowd as host university for the event. In November, the top-performing universities from the NCAA Championships earlier in the year reconvened in Atlanta, where Duke (women) and Illinois (men) claimed the second annual East Lake Cup. 

Ryder Cup – Friday, Dec. 23: An encore of all three days of competition at the 2016 Ryder Cup from Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. The United States claimed its first victory in the biennial international event since 2008.

The R&A’s Major Championships – Tuesday, Dec. 27: One of the more unforgettable final rounds in recent history, Henrik Stenson won the first major championship of his career after dueling head-to-head with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon in Scotland. On the women’s side, Ariya Jutanugarn claimed her first major championship as well at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn Golf Club, while Paul Broadhurst became an unlikely victor in the Senior Open at Carnoustie.

World Golf Championships (WGC) Events – Wednesday, Dec. 28: 2016’s four World Golf Championship (WGC) events are revisited, featuring Adam Scott’s win at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March; Jason Day’s victory at the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas; Dustin Johnson’s win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio in August; and Hideki Matsuyama’s title at the WGC-HSBC Champions in October.

PGA TOUR FedExCup Playoffs – Thursday, Dec. 29: An encore of the four PGA TOUR FedExCup Playoff events, highlighted by Rory McIlroy ultimately claiming the FedExCup title after winning in a playoff at the TOUR Championship in September. Other events featured include Patrick Reed’s win at The Barclays; McIlroy’s victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship and Dustin Johnson’s win at the BMW Championship.

Tuesday, December 13

Phil Mickelson Undergoes Second Surgery for Sports Hernia

MULTIPLE OUTLETS ARE REPORTING that Phil Mickelson had a second surgery for a sports hernia. Mickelson is expected to make a full recovery, according to his agent, but the timeline for his return to competitive golf is unclear.

Courtesy of Sheldon & Marci/Flickr
Mickelson will definitely show up at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January because he is the tournament ambassador. But will he be able to play?

Lefty's first sports hernia surgery was on October 19, during which a walnut-sized hernia behind his navel was removed. Supposedly, Phil was, as he said last month, "all fixed up."

How serious is a sports hernia? In fact, what is a sports hernia? I wondered.

Here's what I found about sports hernia (also known as athletic pubalgia) at OrthoInfo, a site that carries the name of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS):
A sports hernia is a painful, soft tissue injury that occurs in the groin area. It most often occurs during sports that require sudden changes of direction or intense twisting movements. 
Although a sports hernia may lead to a traditional, abdominal hernia, it is a different injury. A sports hernia is a strain or tear of any soft tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament) in the lower abdomen or groin area. 
Because different tissues may be affected and a traditional hernia may not exist, the medical community prefers the term "athletic pubalgia" to refer to this type of injury. The general public and media are more familiar with "sports hernia"....
Obviously, Mickelson does not play a contact or kicking sport, but this still strikes me as a pretty serious injury and it's troubling that he has needed two surgeries in such a short period of time.

Another website that focuses on sports medicine imaging says that a sports hernia can be a career-ending injury.

Hopefully, Phil, 47 next June, will make a full recovery (as his people say), and have more moments of glory on the fairways.

Monday, December 12

VIDEO: Things Could Be Worse. You Could Be Putting Like This

I SAW THIS CLIP IN GOLF DAILY from Golf Channel. This is Bryson DeChambeau demonstrating the side-saddle putting stroke.

I'm not convinced about this technique. I'm thinking if you're putting like this, maybe golf is not going that well. But that's just me.

Friday, December 9

Vin Scully: A Pure Voice Goes Silent

Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 22 at the White House. Below is a version of my commentary that appeared in the Roanoke Times as Mr. Scully was wrapping up his legendary career.

THE SPACE UNDERNEATH THE LEFT-FIELD PAVILION was a Vin Scully echo chamber. Broadcast on mighty KFI, 640 on the AM dial, the announcer’s voice could be heard throughout Dodger Stadium during the pregame show, but we always heard it in and around the left-field pavilion, a “family friendly” spot before the term existed or was even needed.

It was circa 1970. I was a 12-year-old boy who had recently moved to Southern California from Indiana. Dodger Stadium overwhelmed my senses and Vin Scully was music to my young ears. “Grab a Dodger Dog,” he’d say, “made by our friends at Farmer John.” As I recall, a Dodger Dog, a 10-inch pork and beef frank, was about a buck. I liked mine with yellow mustard and real onions—raw and coarsely chopped. I gobbled it down as we watched batting practice from the long, beige bench seats in the left-field pavilion.

Los Angeles was a big, exciting place for this Indiana boy. It was an hour drive to the sprawling city and Dodger Stadium from our new home in Palmdale on the edge of the high desert. In those days, locals called traveling to LA from the Antelope Valley going “down below.” We took 14 to I-5, exiting at Stadium Way and then winding up the hill and through the canyons to Chavez Ravine.

From the moment we entered the gates, the sounds at Dodger Stadium were unmistakable: the perky organ that musically narrated the action, the insistent cries of the food and drink vendors roaming the stands, the loud crack of a wooden bat in the hands of a big leaguer and, of course, the silky voice of Vin Scully.

“It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.”

The Dodger home uniforms were as white as sea gulls, trimmed in “Dodger” blue with red numbers. Wearing those magnificent uniforms in 1970 were, among others, Maury Wills, Willie Davis, Wes Parker, Bill Buckner, Steve Garvey, Manny Mota, Don Sutton, Claude Osteen and Charlie Hough. Walter Alston, nicknamed “Smokey,” was the manager. Wills was the highest-paid Dodger that season by a wide margin. His salary was $88,000.

I don’t recall seeing the best National League teams such as the rival Cincinnati Reds. I do recall seeing cellar dwellers like the San Diego Padres. That made it easier to get into the game—and to find a prime spot in the left-field pavilion. We always arrived early, an hour or more before the first pitch.

We watched the teams take infield and batting practice. Occasionally a baseball would fly deep to left and clear the wall. A scramble for the precious souvenir ensued. Once the game began, I stared a hole in the back of whomever played left field. I studied the long warm-up tosses of the outfielders between innings. Sometimes they looked our way and acknowledged our cheers. And sometimes fans heckled the opposing players.

The left-field pavilion was also the place to peer into the Dodger bullpen. I remember Hough, the knuckleballer, and others loosening up their arms and hearing the rhythmic thud of the catcher’s mitt.

In later years, when I was in my twenties, Vin Scully was my companion on drives between San Diego and Palmdale. On hot summer nights, with windows rolled down, he talked me through Temecula, Riverside, San Bernardino and over Cajon Pass and onto the high desert.

By that time I was no longer a true-blue Dodgers fan; I just loved listening to their announcer rhapsodize about baseball on a summer evening. I was still a Vin Scully fan. I’ve always been a Vin Scully fan.

That voice going silent after this, his 67th year broadcasting Dodgers games, saddens me. Whether in a ballpark or another walk of life, there are few voices as pure and enduring as Vin Scully’s. How can we afford to lose him?

Thursday, December 8

USGA Rule Change: No Penalty for Accidental Ball Movement on Putting Green

This was long overdue. Following is the USGA news release.

FAR HILLS, N.J. (Dec. 8, 2016) – The USGA and The R&A today announced the introduction of a new Local Rule that eliminates the penalty when a ball is accidentally moved on the putting green. The Local Rule will be available for any committee in charge of a competition to use starting Jan. 1, 2017. It will be adopted by the USGA and The R&A in all of their championships, qualifying competitions and international matches.

"Eliminating this penalty responds to the concerns we have heard from both golfers and committees about the difficulties in applying the current Rules when a player accidentally causes a ball to move on the putting green," said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status, said. "This change is a good example of the type of Rules Modernization changes we hope to implement after completing our fundamental review of all of the Rules. We are looking for ways to improve the Rules by making them easier to understand and apply."

David Rickman, executive director - Governance at The R&A, said, "For the past several years, as part of The R&A and USGA's Rules Modernization initiative, we have considered the penalty for a ball that is accidentally moved on the putting green. Both Rules Committees agreed that it needed to be changed and decided that in this particular case it was important to act now, through a Local Rule, rather than wait for the next overall set of revisions to the Rules of Golf."

The Local Rule has been welcomed by all of the major tours worldwide, and the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA, PGA of America and the Masters Tournament are among the golf organizations that will implement the Local Rule for all future events, beginning Jan. 1, 2017.
If a committee wishes to introduce this Local Rule, the following wording is recommended:

"Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1 are modified as follows:
When a player’s ball lies on the putting green, there is no penalty if the ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved by the player, his partner, his opponent, or any of their caddies or equipment,

The moved ball or ball-marker must be replaced as provided in Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1.
This Local Rule applies only when the player’s ball or ball-marker lies on the putting green and any movement is accidental.

Note: If it is determined that a player’s ball on the putting green was moved as a result of wind, water or some other natural cause such as the effects of gravity, the ball must be played as it lies from its new location. A ball-marker moved in such circumstances is replaced."

For more information about the new Local Rule, including explanatory diagrams, videos and a detailed question-and-answer document, please visit

Wednesday, December 7

Fake Golf News: A Tiger Woods Love Letter

This fake golf news is from the archives and based on actual events.

November 15, 2009

Dear Tiger,

Where did the time go?

It seems like it was just yesterday that you were stepping off your Gulfstream at Essendon and were whisked away in a limo. We now realise this past week went way too fast.

Good on ya, mate. You have once again proven yourself as the world's greatest golfer. Our sincere congratulations for winning the "other" Masters. We are so honored to have you as our champion. To be perfectly candid, we were rooting for you and are thrilled you got the job done. (Relieved, actually. Ha ha!)

We love our own—Chalmers, Nitties, Scott, Appleby, Ogilvy, Parry, Pampling and all our boys—but they have had their chances over the years and will have many more. This was the year of the Tiger.

Please, please, please do not stay away so long between visits. We are accustomed to hardship. It is part of our national identity. But 11 years is a very long wait, even for us. We will do everything humanly possible to make any visit unbelievable. We think you know that.

Or just drop by whenever you are in the neighborhood. (Maybe on your way back from Asia next year.) We promise not to make such a terrible fuss. It could be a small bash. (We would not have to tell Brumby or other pollies and curtail the journos and earbash.)

Thanks again for coming. It exceeded our expectations in every way. Hugs and kisses and camera clicks! (Not when you are in mid swing, of course.)

Love always,

P.S. Do write. Even if just an occasional email from your agent.

P.P.S. If for some reason you cannot make it back to Oz, we will always have Kingston Heath.

Tuesday, December 6

Thomas Bjorn: 'This Is One of the Greatest Days in My Career'

THOMAS BJORN HAD BEEN LOOKING forward to the day when he would get his turn as European Ryder Cup captain. It finally happened on Tuesday.

Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The 45-year-old Dane will be the skipper for the European side at the 2018 Ryder Cup near Paris. He is the first Scandinavian to serve in that role.

"It's a huge honor for me to be named European captain ..." Bjorn said. "This is one of the greatest days in my career."

Bjorn has plenty of Ryder Cup experience as both a player and an assistant captain. He played on victorious teams in 1997, 2002 and 2014. He served as an assistant in 2004, 2010, 2012 and 2016. Hard to imagine how he could be more ready to take the reins.

Bjorn was picked by a committee that included Europe's last three Ryder Cup captains: Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Colin Montgomerie.

Bjorn added, "I studied a lot of captains as a player and as a vice captain, and always wondered what that feeling would be like to be the one leading out a team of 12 great players. Now it's my turn to do just that and it is an exciting moment for me. I have lived and breathed the European Tour for so long, and now I will do the same with the Ryder Cup for the next two years."

Monday, December 5

Win-Win: Hideki Matsuyama Wins, Tiger Woods Plays

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA WON THE HERO WORLD CHALLENGE for his fourth victory in his last five starts. Matsuyama finished at 18 under, and, except for a 73 on Sunday, he made it look easy.

"I played very, very well until today," Matsuyama told Golf Channel. "Today I struggled a little bit."

Henrik Stenson finished second at 16 under after a final-round 68.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods started and finished his first 72-hole event in 466 days. Tiger shot 73, 65, 70 and 76 to finish 15th in the field of 17 players.

"I think it was a great week to be back," Tiger said. "Playing again and competing and playing against the best players in the world. Unfortunately I made a lot of mistakes this week. I made a lot of birdies but also made a lot of mistakes."

He added, "I made some poor decisions, missed the ball in some wrong spots and quite frankly it feels a little weird not to play in a cart. So, it is a little different and getting used to that and getting my legs back and getting my body back and focusing for a long period of time. These are all things that I missed for about a year and a half."

It's hard not to see Tiger's first event back as a big success. He went the distance, his body held up, he posted four scores. And if you need another positive, Tiger didn't finish dead last. He beat two guys in a good field. That's something, right?

I wouldn't expect much more at this point.

Friday, December 2

Things (Including Golf Things) Our Kids Will Never Experience

YOU KNOW YOU'RE AGING when you notice and read AARP articles such as "10 Things Our Kids Will Never Learn."

Nothing wrong with that, though, because I'm a boomer. Maybe you can relate.

Following is a partial list from that article on "boomer knowledge that's becoming obsolete."

From AARP, our kids will never learn ...

How to read a map.
How to send stuff in the mail.
How to write in cursive.
How to balance a check book.
How to make change in their heads.
How to drive a stick shift.

There are more, of course.

Now a golf list by yours truly. Same idea. Our kids will never ...

(NOTE: The following aren't absolutes, but true of some or many, or perhaps moving in this direction.)

Wear metal spikes.
Estimate yardage using eyesight.
Play with persimmon and other 20th-century golf clubs.
Walk the golf course.
Carry their golf clubs.
Maintain a "shag" bag and shag their own golf balls.
Learn golf etiquette and basic rules before going out on the golf course.
Read golf instruction books.
Clean clubs, shine shoes and do other golf-related chores.
Hang out at the golf course all day/all summer (including playing cards and doing other activities).

What else?

Thursday, December 1

Buy My Book, Get Arnold Palmer's Book FREE

Both THE LONGEST SHOT and DRAW IN THE DUNES were nominated
for the USGA's Herbert Warren Wind Book Award.

WITH THE HOLIDAYS APPROACHING, I'd like to offer you one of my hardcover books for sale at a reasonable price ($20) for your gift or other needs. I'll also autograph or inscribe it.

PLUS I'll give you a free book. I have four copies of ARNOLD PALMER: A Life Well Played, currently Amazon's No. 1 selling golf book. With a purchase of my book, I'll throw in Arnold's book free (while supplies last).

Email me at and we can work out the details.

Wednesday, November 30

Hero World Challenge: Golf, The Bahamas and a Generous Purse

YOU AND I WOULD BE GUARANTEED a top-20 finish and a hefty check if we teed off in the Hero World Challenge, which starts tomorrow at the Albany Resort in the Bahamas. The tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.

That's because this silly season event has an 18-player field. So dead last would be 18th place, some good bank and perhaps some world ranking points. Plus a trip to the Bahamas.

I'll just dream on.

Despite the small field, there are several marquee players showing up at Albany, including six of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 in the world rankings. Not to mention three of the four major winners in 2016. They include Dustin Johnson (No. 3), Henrik Stenson (No. 4), Jordan Spieth (No. 5), Hideki Matsuyama (No. 6), Patrick Reed (No. 8) and Bubba Watson (No. 10).

Watson is the defending champion. Patrick Reed was the runner-up. The 2015 purse was $3.5 million with a million going to the winner.

This year, oddsmakers like Johnson (5/1) and Spieth (6/1).

Here's the 18-man field:

Tiger Woods
Dustin Johnson
Henrik Stenson
Jordan Spieth
Hideki Matsuyama
Bubba Watson
Rickie Fowler
Patrick Reed
Justin Rose
Emiliano Grillo
J.B. Holmes
Zach Johnson
Russell Knox
Brooks Koepka
Matt Kuchar
Louis Oosthuizen
Brandt Snedeker
Jimmy Walker

Tuesday, November 29

Tiger Woods Press Conference Bingo

THE TIGER WOODS MEDIA TSUNAMI has begun. Take cover.

And I apologize for my small part in it, but I saw this bingo card and could not resist sharing it with you. Sorry not sorry.

Monday, November 28

Brown Golf Courses and Tiger's Return

I'M GLAD TO BE BACK from Thanksgiving and back to this blog. I've had some technical problems here, but I'll hopefully get those resolved this week.

I was traveling through the Shenandoah Valley over the Thanksgiving holiday, including around Charlottesville, and I spotted a handful of golf courses near the highway. Some of them (or maybe most of them) were a shade of brown or beige, since their fairways are now dormant until next spring.

This made me wonder about less than pristine golf course conditions and aesthetics. Does it bother you? Or does it make no difference? Do you play on brown golf courses in the winter or at other times?

The courses I saw looked as if they had plenty of grass; it just wasn't green.

From the time I started at age 12, I've played on a lot of humble golf courses with varying conditions. I know dirt and I know hardpan. I've seen it all, played on it all. Nothing bothers me.

Tiger is itching to play.

Tiger Woods will finally scratch that itch with yet another long-awaited comeback this week at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. I've lost track of the number of Tiger comebacks.

Some in the media are billing this comeback as highly anticipated, but I'm beyond that at this point. I view Tiger with curiosity, nothing more. That could change (for me), especially if Tiger regains his form and puts himself in contention again.

For now, I'm in wait-and-see mode. Golf has been doing pretty well without him.

P.S. The brown courses reminded me of a Rodney Dangerfield joke. Rodney told his dentist that his teeth were turning yellow. His dentist told him to wear a brown necktie.

Wednesday, November 23

VIDEO: Revenge of the Birds on Golf Courses

As Thanksgiving turkeys are enjoyed by millions this week, take a look at instances of birds attacking players on the golf course.


Tuesday, November 22

Birdieable Interviews The Congress, a Rock Band (and Golf Fanatics)

Rob West is an avid golfer with a golf blog called Birdieable. Rob recently interviewed The Congress, a Virginia-based rock band with two members who are golf fanatics.

By Rob West

Copyright © Rob West. Used with permission.

EVERY NOW AND THEN I GET to do something a little out of the ordinary. Interviewing an uber-cool rock band is just one of those occasions, especially when two of the members are golf fanatics like me.

Jonathan Meadows (golfer), Chris Speasmaker (golfer), Scott Lane and Raphael Katchinoff make up the four-piece band who have just released a new album, The Game, which you can get here.

Here's how my interview went with the guys.

BIRDIEABLE: OK, So, Chris you are the keyboard player and Jonathan you are bass guitar. How did you get into golf and are you any good?

THE CONGRESS: We both started playing with our dads growing up. My Dad and I looked at golf more as a reason to hang out in high school and the quality of play was pretty pathetic. It wasn't until I moved to Denver seven years ago when I started playing once a week. One of the perks of being a musician is being able to get on the course during the week when it's cheap and wide open. Are we good? Hmm. Given that this is being read by mainly avid golfers, I have to say no. Amongst my friends, I'd say I'm OK. I shoot mid 80s on a good day. Jon is shooting low/mid 90s.

BIRDIEABLE: If you could organize the perfect fourball, who would be in it, and where would you be playing?

THE CONGRESS: Great question. 1. Jordan Speith 2. Dustin Johnson. I would want two pros so I can get some pointers and watch them kill it. Jordan and DJ just seem like good dudes while also being at the top of their game. Watching DJ's long ball and Jordan's short game would be pretty spectacular in person. No. 3.? Bill Murray – purely for entertainment purposes. Charles Barkley would be an alternate. Course… Pebble Beach. I would likely need 20 balls to get through the round but the views there are surreal.

BIRDIEABLE: What’s your best score, and where did you record it?

THE CONGRESS: 79. Willis Case in Denver, Colorado. Full disclosure – it's a par 70.

BIRDIEABLE: Ever signed for a five when it should have been a six?

THE CONGRESS: Any amateur that says they haven't done that is a liar.

BIRDIEABLE: You guys are from Virginia. Are there any decent tracks (and I mean golf courses not songs), in your home state?

THE CONGRESS: Virginia has tons of beautiful courses. The nicest one I've played is Farmington CC in Charlottesville. It's very well maintained with lots of elevation. I've heard that Colonial Heritage in Williamsburg takes the cake. I'd love to get out there sometime.

BIRDIEABLE: Everyone has a memorable shot. What's yours and where was it?

THE CONGRESS: I had a Bubba moment when we were playing on tour in Jackson, Mississippi. I had a terrible lie with a huge oak tree in my line 160 or so yards out. I was actually playing with Jon at the time and gave him the classic "watch this." I pulled out the 4 iron, wrapped it around the tree and rolled it 15 ft from the pin. It felt good.

BIRDIEABLE: Anyone had a hole in one?

THE CONGRESS: No hole in one yet. Closest I came was during that same round with Jon and I was six inches short. One day though.

BIRDIEABLE: Who do you admire most in the golfing world?

THE CONGRESS: I read a lot about Arnold Palmer's life following his passing. He was a true legend in the entire sports world. He has given so much to the game of golf aside from being one of the best.

BIRDIEABLE: What's your favorite golf book/magazine?

THE CONRESS: I saw a book titled Shanks For Nothing in a friend's bathroom. I found it pretty relatable. Jon and I do however live and die by GolfNow. It is the best place to find new courses for a discounted rate while we're on the road. We have found some real gems through that site.

BIRDIEABLE: What makes you angry on the golf course?

THE CONGRESS: Sucking. Also groups in front of me that neglect their rate of play gets pretty frustrating as well. Jon and I pride ourselves in being fast golfers. 

BIRDIEABLE: You are not allowed to google this and you have to answer straight away. Do you know what R&A stands for?

THE CONGRESS: No. I just googled it though. I should probably check that out.

BIRDIEABLE: Any golf inspired tunes in the making?

THE CONGRESS: Ha ha. Golf is our way to relieve stress on tour (and at home), so, in a way, golf inspires all of our songs,

BIRDIEABLE: Top five courses you want to play?

5. Woods Hole CC –
4. Fossil Trace CC –
3. Pinehurst CC –
2. Augusta CC –
1. Pebble Beach Resorts –

Sponsored by Birdieable.

Monday, November 21

Peter Senior Hangs Up the Sticks After Painful WD

JORDAN SPIETH WON HIS SECOND Australian Open in three years by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff with Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall. Spieth shot a final-round 69 to finish in the three-way tie at 12-under par at Royal Sidney Golf Club.

Earlier in the tournament, 57-year-old Australian Peter Senior withdrew after five holes in the second round and abruptly announced his retirement from the tournament circuit. Senior, playing with an ailing hip, has been plagued by injuries for two years.

"I don't enjoy playing like this," Senior said. "I can't hit a shot. Every time I hit the ball I get a bolt of pain through my hip."

A winner of 34 tournaments worldwide, Senior was a very accomplished player, even at an advanced age. His last victory was the 2015 Australian Masters. But there was no denying the current state of his game given his physical problems.

"It's no good me being out there annoying the other guys because they're playing pretty well so this is it for me. I'm not playing any more golf."

He added, "I've had a great run, a great career. I've enjoyed every minute of it."

Final round highlights below.

Friday, November 18

VIDEO: Rory McIlroy Grilled by Billy in Little Interview

RORY MCILROY WAS ON THE HOT SEAT at Jumeriah Golf Estates in Dubai, site of this week's DP World Tour Championship. It's a good thing Rory took a dip in the pool.

Thursday, November 17

Golf on TV: DP World Tour Championship, Emirates Australian Open, CME Group Tour Championship, RSM Classic

Keep an eye on Alex Noren.

By Golf Channel Communications


World No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 4 Henrik Stenson lead the field at the DP World Tour Championship, the culminating event of the European Tour season as part of the Final Series and Race to Dubai. Stenson and McIlroy, along with Alex Noren and Danny Willett are the only four players in the field with a mathematical chance of winning the Race to Dubai, which will split a $5 million bonus pool among the top-10 in the final standings at week’s end.

DP World Tour Championship
Dates: Nov. 17-20
Venue: Jumeirah Golf Estates (Earth Course), Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         3-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              3-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          3-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            2:30-7:30 a.m. (Live) / 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Replay)

Headlining the field: Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett, Alex Noren, Rory McIlroy, Tyrell Hatton, Branden Grace, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Louis Oosthuizen, Chris Wood and Thorbjorn Olesen.

* * *


World No. 5 Jordan Spieth will make his return to competition this week for the first time since the Ryder Cup, in hopes of claiming his second Emirates Australian Open title in a three year span. Two-time World Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski also is in the field, and the tournament serves as the first of 11 professional tour events that make up The Open Qualifying Series for 2017.

Emirates Australian Open
Dates: Nov. 16-19
Venue: Royal Sydney Golf Club (Championship Course), Sydney, Australia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live)
Thursday         9 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live)
Friday              9 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          9 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live)

Australian Open begins three-week stretch of high profile events in Australia: This is the first of three consecutive weeks of high profile events to be played in Australia, along with next week’s World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath Golf Club, and the Australian PGA Championship in two weeks, which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Jamie Sadlowski, Jhonattan Vegas, Geoff Ogilvy, Greg Chalmers, Jarrod Lyle, Rod Pampling, Aaron Baddeley and Cameron Davis.

* * *


The LPGA Tour season also will conclude this week with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples. A total of nine players have a mathematical chance to win the Race to the CME Globe, including Ariya Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson, each of whom would automatically win with a victory this week. 

CME Group Tour Championship
Dates: Nov. 17-20
Venue: Tiburon Golf Club, Naples, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         4:30-6:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 2-4 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Friday              4:30-6:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 2-4 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday          4:30-6:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 2-4 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Sunday            1-4 p.m. (Live, airing on ABC)

Kerr defends: Cristie Kerr finished one stroke ahead of Gerina Piller and Ha Na Jang to earn her 18th career LPGA Tour win.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson, Ha Na Jang, Sei Young Kim, Shanshan Feng, Minjee Lee, In Gee Chun and Haru Nomura.

* * *


RSM Classic
Dates: Nov. 17-20
Venue: Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside & Plantation Courses), St. Simons Island, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-9 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-9 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-9 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Replay)

Format: The field will play one round on each of the Seaside and Plantation courses on Thursday and Friday and following the cut, the third and final rounds will be contested on the Seaside course Saturday and Sunday.

Kisner defends: Kevin Kisner finished six shots ahead of the field to claim his first PGA TOUR victory.

Headlining the field: Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Bill Haas, Kevin Kisner, Ian Poulter, Bryson DeChambeau, and Davis Love III.

Wednesday, November 16

'Ray Billows - The Cinderella Kid' By Tom Buggy

CHANCES ARE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD of Ray Billows. Golf historian Tom Buggy tells the story in his new book, Ray Billows - The Cinderella Kid: The unlikely and colorful story of a world-class amateur golfer. Following is a description from Amazon.

Available at Amazon.
In 1935, just five years after the great Bob Jones won his Grand Slam and retired from competition, a 20-year-old amateur golfer in a struggling family left Racine, Wisconsin for a $17-a-week shipping clerk job in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Ray Billows brought with him a self-taught golf game from the caddie ranks, a gritty determination, and wondrous dreams of competing and succeeding at the highest level of American amateur golf. He brought little else.

He arrived at the prestigious Winged Foot Golf Club for the 1935 New York State Amateur Championship in a dilapidated $7 Model T Ford convertible that he intended to sleep in, and without enough money for a caddie. He left with his first significant title and a nickname – The Cinderella Kid – which captured what he was and what he had accomplished.

All of Ray Billows' dreams came true, except for one that would haunt him throughout his life.

This book tells his story, a story that is sprinkled with thrilling golf, wonderful success, cruel disappointment, personal highlights, humorous anecdotes with Bob Jones, the Duke of Windsor and Babe Ruth, and a reputation as one of the finest gentlemen in the game.

The book also provides a glimpse into American amateur golf during the period from 1930 to 1950. It contains a 12-page photos insert with 27 photographs.