Wednesday, December 30

TODAY Show: Greg Norman's 'Harrowing Struggle' With COVID-19


AUSTRALIAN GOLF LEGEND GREG NORMAN is a very fit man for 65. Nonetheless, the Shark was laid low by COVID-19 as he details in the above interview with the TODAY Show. Norman said he wouldn't wish his experience on anyone.

Another reminder to be careful as we await the vaccine.

P.S. A commenter at Geoff Shackelford's site said, "I’m 55, in very good shape, have great access to healthcare, have been extremely vigilant with all protocols and it's been 17 days since I tested positive for COVID 19. My symptoms are worse than ever."

Monday, December 28

Common Courses: Knoxville Municipal Golf Course Wins 2020 Favorite Public Golf Course Award

They're not Pebble, Kiawah, or Pinehurst. Common courses are the modest 9- and 18-hole munis and semi-private clubs that many golfers play. Here's good news about "Knox Muni."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Knoxville Municipal Golf Course – the D.J. Devictor-designed gem in the foothills of the Appalachians – has been voted by readers of the Knoxville News Sentinel as a "favorite public golf course" in 2020.

The ballot was conducted via public inquiry by the Knoxville News Sentinel from Aug. 4 – 31. Knoxville Municipal Golf Course is one of two municipal courses owned by the city and this is the first time "Knox Muni," as it's known by many, has been selected as the public's favorite golf course.

"It's an honor to be recognized by local golfers for all the hard work our team has put in throughout 2020," says Justin Smedley, general manager.

"I'm incredibly proud of how we have gone the extra mile to provide a fun, enjoyable and safe experience for our guests. To know our efforts are appreciated by the local community is an incredibly gratifying feeling."

Opening in the spring of 1984, the course was designed by architect D.J. Devictor and built by the Roberts family, whom upon leasing the land to the city made sure it would only be used for golf. The 6,413-yard layout meanders through rolling hills, running streams and home to natural wildlife. Knoxville Municipal features Bermuda fairways and bentgrass greens making for a perfect setting amid scenic views for players of all abilities.

Knoxville Municipal Golf Course has a long-standing history of being a community asset and providing affordable golf for all its residents. The course plays host to a variety of school, church, non-profit foundation and other organizational fundraising events on an annual basis. Knoxville Municipal also graciously hosts many junior golf camps and clinics in partnership with the First Tee of Greater Knoxville, along with serving as a home for numerous middle and high school golf team practices and matches.

More common courses:
Balboa Park Golf Course (San Diego, California)
Bethpage Red (Long Island, New York)
Desert Aire Golf Course (Palmdale, California)
Mangrove Bay Golf Course (St. Petersburg, Florida)

Thursday, December 17

Bucking Trend of Cutting Athletics During COVID-19, Tiny Averett University Adds Women's Golf

By Drew Wilson / Director of Athletics Communications

DANVILLE, Va. — Averett University announced the addition of a varsity women's golf program,  which will begin play during the 2021-22 academic year.

"We are excited to add a women's golf program, which will help us provide additional opportunities for  female student-athletes," said Meg Stevens, Averett Vice President, Director of Athletics and Campus  Operations. "The addition of a women's golf program here at Averett will benefit our University by  reaching into a new demographic and increasing the opportunities for women to compete in college  athletics, as well as positively impact our established men's golf program."

Stevens also announced that men's golf head coach Ben Potter is being named the director of golf for  the men's and women's golf programs. In addition, Averett will hire a graduate assistant coach to work  with both golf programs.

Women's golf is the latest sports addition for Averett in recent years. Since 2016, the University has  added men's lacrosse and men's wrestling, brought back women's lacrosse and added two club sports  and a competitive dance team.

"We are proud to announce a sports expansion during a time when many institutions have eliminated  athletics programs," Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks said. "At Averett, we have focused on  balancing the effects of the pandemic while continuing to look outward and stay the course with  strategic enrollment growth. This addition will increase our national and international footprint, as well as demonstrates how Averett is poised to respond to the growing interest in the sport."

The women's golf program will compete within the USA South Athletic Conference, which began  sponsoring women's golf in 2019-20. Averett will be the ninth institution within the conference to  sponsor a women's golf program.

(H/T Golfweek)

Tuesday, December 15

Unheralded A Lim Kim Triumphs in U.S. Women's Open Thanks to a Birdie-Birdie-Birdie Finish


By USGA

TWO YEARS AGO, A LIM KIM registered her first LPGA Tour of Korea victory at the Se Ri Pak Invitational. It came 20 years after that tournament's namesake produced a seminal moment in women's golf for the Republic of Korea, a victory in the 1998 U.S. Women's Open. Now the 25-year-old will have her name etched on the same iconic trophy.

Kim closed out the weather-delayed final round of the 75th U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club on a chilly Monday in southeast Texas with three consecutive birdies to edge countrywoman and world No. 1 Jin Young Ko and Amy Olson by one stroke. Her 4-under-par 67 matched the lowest round of the championship and gave her a 3-under total of 281. Hinako Shibuno, the 54-hole leader, finished two strokes back.

The No. 94 player in the Rolex Rankings became the 10th different Korean to claim the Harton S. Semple Trophy since Pak's breakthrough moment 22 years ago at Blackwolf Run. That win also came on a Monday, in what became a 20-hole playoff victory over amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn.

Kim also became the third Korean in the last 15 years to win the oldest major championship in women's golf in her first start, joining Birdie Kim (2005) and In Gee Chun (2015). Only two others – Patty Berg in the inaugural event in 1946 and Kathy Cornelius 10 years later – had managed to win this title in their first start. In fact, this was Kim's first-ever competition in the United States and her first women's major.

When the result became official, defending champion Jeongeun Lee6 and another Korean competitor gave the new winner a celebratory shower in the Player Hospitality tent.

"Can't really describe it in words," said Kim through a translator. "I never expected that I was going to appear in the U.S. Women's Open. I still can't feel what it's like right now, but I'll probably feel it when the ceremony and everything wraps up today."

The championship had to be completed on Monday due to nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain that saturated the Cypress Creek Course on Sunday. Only twice before had a non-playoff round of the U.S. Women's Open been completed on a Monday: 1987 at Plainfield Country Club, where a Tuesday 18-hole playoff was required, and 2011 at The Broadmoor, where fellow Korean, So Yeon Ryu, prevailed in a three-hole aggregate playoff over compatriot Hee Kyung Seo.

With temperatures hovering in the 40s and a wind chill that felt like the mid-30s, players arrived at Champions Golf Club dressed more for a day on the ski slopes. Many competitors donned wool caps, wore earmuffs and used gloves to keep their hands warm. Some even put on parkas in between shots.

Kim covered her face with a mask all week to protect herself and others from COVID-19, the virus that forced the U.S. Women's Open to be moved from June to December and kept fans from enjoying the competition in person.

Thursday, December 10

U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club: Complete Broadcast Schedule

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THE U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN IS UNDER WAY at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. It's the last major championship of the year. 

The 75th edition of this tournament includes defending champion Jeongeun Lee6 and the top players in the women's game, including seven Texans competing in their home state. One of them is Angela Stanford, last week's winner at the Volunteers of America Classic and the runner-up at the 2003 U.S. Women's Open.

NBCUniversal is airing 25 hours of live coverage on NBC, Golf Channel and Peacock.

BROADCAST SCHEDULE
All times Eastern.

Golf Channel
Thursday, Dec. 10 – 12:30-6 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 11 – 3-6 p.m. 
Saturday, Dec. 12 – 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 13 – 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Peacock
Thursday, Dec. – 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 11 – 1-3 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 12 – 1-2:30 p.m.

NBC
Saturday, Dec. 12 - 2:30-6 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 13 - 2-5 p.m.

Streaming
NBC Sports App
golfchannel.com 
Peacock

Find more information including tournament updates at the USGA site for the U.S. Women's Open.

Tuesday, December 8

Golf Legend Peter Alliss on Why the Ryder Cup 'Mattered Like Hell'

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PHOTO: That's Peter Alliss in back row, second from left.

BRITISH GOLF COMMENTATOR PETER ALLISS died over the weekend. He was 89.

In many tributes, Alliss is lauded as the "Voice of Golf" for his long and exemplary broadcasting career with the BBC. It was a career that earned him a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

But what's easily overlooked is his playing career that produced 23 worldwide titles and eight appearances in the Ryder Cup. I delved into Alliss's playing career during my work on DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World, which published in September 2014.


Alliss kindly granted my interview and answered all my questions about the 1969 Ryder Cup, where he served double duty at Royal Birkdale. He played on the Great Britain and Ireland team and in afternoons announced on the BBC broadcast team. Imagine that!

Here's an excerpt from DRAW IN THE DUNES (p. 195) on Alliss, including what made him the kind of Ryder Cup player who, among other successes, beat Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper and Ken Venturi in singles:

No player on either team had more Ryder Cup experience than Alliss. The Ryder Cup "mattered like hell," he later said, partly because of family pride. (His father Percy was a Ryder Cup player.) There was more to it than the Alliss name, though. Country, captain, and teammates motivated the Englishman to always bring his best.

"I think it was having the experience of making a mess of it in 1953," Alliss said more than forty years later. "I was in a way so terrified of letting the side down again that my concentration levels went up."

And on Alliss's match-play tactics:

"Many people," Alliss said, "including Bobby Jones, said you play the course. I never did that -- I played the man. If he went out-of-bounds, I made sure that I didn't go out-of-bounds. I always felt that all you had to do in match play was to be one shot less than the other fellow on each hole. It didn't matter if you were around in 76 if you won."

To learn more about Peter Alliss and the 1969 Ryder Cup, see my special offer on DRAW IN THE DUNES.

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Monday, December 7

A Slightly Upbeat Tale About Irish Golf Courses in a Devastating Year

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By Michael Kilcourse

Guest contributor Michael Kilcourse is the club captain of Castlebar Golf Club in Co. Mayo, Ireland.

WHEN THE WORLD LOOKS BACK on 2020, very few will remember the affect it had on our sport of golf. Unless, of course, like me you are an avid golfer and spent several months of that year walking the course but not being allowed to actually play on it!

Covid-19 will rightly be remembered for the devastation it brought to the world. But allow me to tell a slightly more upbeat (albeit trivial in the grand scheme) tale of how many golf clubs around Ireland actually prospered.

Whilst a small number of clubs didn't survive and were forced to close their gates, our club, and many that I know of, experienced an influx of new members not seen for many years.

Ireland went into lockdown in March and restrictions were not lifted until mid-May when golf clubs reopened to a mass wave of fresh faces and badly wanted new income.

My own club of Castlebar said hello to over 150 new players thanks to a combination of several factors. Chiefly, most sports were still cancelled and thirty somethings who played ball sports had nothing to do as their sporting year had been wiped out entirely. Golf was a ready-made outlet. This invasion of players left clubs financially better off than they had been in years, despite a calendar which had the places closed for half their peak income window.

As I write this, Castlebar just opened our gates from the country's second lockdown of the year. The scramble for tee times is like nothing we have ever experienced. Add to that the shortage of daylight and there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everyone on the golf course. Something not thought possible even twelve months ago.

The challenge now for the clubs is to keep their new-found friends. Life will eventually get back to normal and other options in the sporting world will be available. The inevitable drop in numbers must be kept to a minimum. Castlebar offered 18-month membership specials to new players after the first lockdown in the hope that after 18 months we will have them for keeps. Many clubs did similar.

Having just been installed as our club captain for 2021, I wonder what my term will bring:

Will we see another lockdown?
Will the vaccine get here in time for the busy summer schedule?
Could it just be a "normal year"?

Unlikely "normal," but I, like so many more, will enjoy Christmas in the hope that January will bring a fresh start and fresh confidence that our clubs will plan a year and be able to execute that schedule of events without interruption.

Sometimes when the big things are so much bigger than us, it's the little things that give us the most!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 4

USGA Advances Pivotal Work to Chart a Sustainable Future for Golf Courses and the Game


LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – The United States Golf Association (USGA) has embarked on a new collaborative body of work in its ongoing efforts to sustain the economic and environmental viability of golf courses and improve the golfer experience – elements critical to golf's future.
 
Driven by the global release of the February 2020 Distance Insights Report and independent from a review of equipment standards, the work focuses on evolving the game's approach to factors such as golf course setup, maintenance and tee placement/selection, while improving golfer satisfaction and reducing course operating costs. It will be led by a team of experts within the USGA Green Section with collaboration from several national golf organizations.
 
"This critical work has implications for the entire game – from golfers to architects to course operators, as we come together to solve golf's challenges, including the present and future availability of land, increasing scarcity of water, and the growing capital costs owners face as they feel the pressure to lengthen their golf courses," said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA.
 
Over time, the work will mature into industry-wide recommendations and best management practices designed to serve and benefit golf courses and golfers. Outcomes will be released throughout 2021.
 
"Many golfers and golf courses already are directly impacted by longer rounds and increasing costs, and our research shows that many of our public courses are facing real economic challenges related to golf course maintenance that are simply unsustainable," Davis added.

"Through active industry collaboration championed by the USGA, combined with the direct input of golfers and golf course operators, this work will provide guidance on best practices as we chart an economic and environmental path in which the game can thrive."
 
Current and ongoing work will build upon research delivered earlier this year related to increased playing distance and the documented lengthening of golf courses over time.

As owners feel the pressure to lengthen courses, they face significant capital expenditures and larger areas to maintain, which have contributed to an average increase of 6.7 percent in maintenance costs. At the same time, other published research shows that only 8 percent of U.S. golf courses offer a shorter playing length that would correspond to an average driving distance of about 150 yards. This work aims to provide guidance and solutions to address those issues moving forward.

Wednesday, December 2

Kingdom Magazine on Lee Trevino at 81: Blind Putters (Including One Named Mrs. Mayberry) and Much More

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LEE TREVINO WAS THE HARDEST TO BEAT, noted Jack Nicklaus, who faced many tough competitors over a long career that produced 18 major wins and even more runner-up finishes (19).

That tidbit is included in Kingdom's feature interview with Trevino, now 81. The "Merry Mex," as he was called back in the day, doesn't play much golf anymore.

But he talks golf better than ever.

Trevino has a theory about putters that altered his outcome at the 1974 PGA Championship in North Carolina.


"Listen, let me explain something to you about putters, okay?"

Absolutely.

"Kittens are born blind. A lot of people don't know that," continues Trevino, who turned 81 on December 1. "When kittens are born they can't see for a week and their mother takes care of them and feeds them. Putters are the same way. A new putter is blind. You can go in the pro shop and there will be 20 putters. You take two of them out to the putting green, you pick one and with that putter you make every putt in the world. So you buy that putter but after seven days it opens its eyes, it recognises you, sees you putt and from that moment you putt just as bad with that putter as with your old ones. This is what happens.

"So back in 1974 I was looking for a blind putter. If I could find that blind putter then I just hoped I could get the tournament over with before it opened its eyes and recognised me. That is exactly what I did that week and there is a lot of truth to that."

As some of you might recall, Lee Trevino won the 1974 PGA Championship by a stroke. Jack Nicklaus finished second.