Tuesday, March 30

PBS Documentary Preview (VIDEO): 'Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story'

I RECENTLY WATCHED A PBS DOCUMENTARY that profiled Marion Miley, a standout amateur golfer in the 1930s from Lexington, Kentucky. She played on the Curtis Cup team and could outdrive female stars like Patty Berg and Babe Didrikson, according to the USGA.

Here's a blurb about the documentary from Twin Cities PBS:

Although professional athletics were deemed improper for women in the 1930s, trailblazing golfer Marion Miley's exceptional talent and winning personality captivated sports fans across the country. But at age 27, Marion was tragically murdered in her home at the Lexington Country Club in Kentucky. FORGOTTEN FAME: THE MARION MILEY STORY tells the story of the headline-grabbing crime that cut short the life of this pioneering athlete.

I thought it was an interesting documentary on a female golfer about which I knew little or nothing, even though she was nationally known during the Great Depression and early 1940s.

Like me, you might find this documentary on your PBS station. Or it's available via the PBS app on your TV or other device.

USGA Announces Collaboration With Fore the Ladies to Help Women Play and Embrace the Game

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LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – In its continuing effort to increase opportunities for more women to play and embrace the game, the United States Golf Association (USGA) announces a collaboration with Fore the Ladies, Inc., a nonprofit female-based community that brings women together to participate in golf through accessibility and approachability.

Founded in 2019 by USGA staff member Abby Liebenthal, Fore the Ladies marries her two passions, engaging golf fans through the USGA and promoting women's golf. In addition to clinics, a fitness series and larger events, Fore the Ladies fosters inclusivity with its Ladies of Golf series on the "Fore the Ladies" podcast. The USGA will collaborate with Fore the Ladies to introduce its listeners to women who work in, play and love the sport across the USGA network – expanding its list of competitors, media, leaders, prominent recreational golfers and others who help to power the $84 billion industry.  

"Women play a pivotal role in the game and in its future and it is our responsibility to do all we can to connect them with inspiring female role models and provide inspiration on how to get involved and stay involved," said Craig Annis, chief Brand officer of the USGA. "We look forward to working with Fore the Ladies as we strive together to elevate and expand the role that women play in golf."

USGA Initiatives Focused on Women

The collaboration is the latest in a series of USGA initiatives to actively elevate and highlight the role that women play in the game, an effort that began in 1895 with the inception of the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship. It is one of the USGA's three oldest championships along with the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open, both of which were founded the same year.

Most recently, in cooperation with SheIs, the USGA launched the "Women Worth Watching" campaign, a long-term commitment by the association to use its championships and platforms to celebrate female athletes while promoting equality and diversity in sports and society.

Additionally, the USGA has been an active supporter of LPGA*USGA Girls Golf since 1991, providing more than $2.5 million in chapter grant funding over the last six years, while the USGA Golf Museum and Library serves as the world's leading institution for the collection and preservation of women's golf history.

"Our goal has always been to introduce more women to everything that golf has to offer," said Liebenthal, USGA employee and founder of Fore the Ladies. "The 'Fore the Ladies' podcast allows us to amplify voices of women in the game and encourage listeners to get involved at our events and clinics. This collaboration will allow us to reach more women interested in golf and hopefully keep them in the sport for a lifetime."

Number of Female Golfers Increases by 450,000

According to the USGA's Handicap Index® database, 21 percent of golf's most avid players are women. National Golf Foundation (NGF) statistics show that the number of female golfers increased by 450,000 in 2020 – the biggest gain since 2007, while on-course play among women was up approximately 25 percent. The number of girls playing golf is also expanding, as the percentage of junior golfers who are female stands at 34 percent, compared with 24 percent female among the entire golf population. In 2000, according to the NGF, just 15 percent of junior golfers were girls.

Thursday, March 25

LPGA NEWS: West Coast Swing Begins; How to Watch the Kia Classic

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The LPGA Tour returns to Aviara Golf Club for the 11th Kia Classic after the 2020 competition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

How to Watch the Kia Classic

Golf Channel (all times Eastern)
Thursday, Mar. 25– 9-11 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Friday, Mar. 26 – 9-11 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Saturday, Mar. 27 – 6-9 p.m.
Sunday, Mar. 28 – 6-9 p.m.

Thursday, Mar. 25– 6-9 p.m.
Friday, Mar. 26 – 6-9 p.m.

Streaming on NBC Sports App: golfchannel.com

VIDEO: A Pasture Golf Course Rewards a Small Family During the Pandemic

LAST YEAR, ABOARD HIS TRACTOR, Wesley Ker-Fox shaped wooded and grassy acreage into a humble family golf course he calls FAWN Ridge Pasture Golf Course.

"I wanted to share my story," Ker-Fox told me in an email. "During the pandemic I created a 9 hole pasture golf course for my young kids. It's also been an exercise in conservation, sustainability and studying golf course architecture."

Watch and enjoy. (Click the "Watch on YouTube" at lower left of above frame.)

Tuesday, March 23

PGATOUR.COM: 'Jordan Spieth's Downturn Started With a Previously Undisclosed Injury'

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As you may (OK, probably) know, Jordan Spieth, former world-beater and winner of multiple majors, hasn't won since the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

A Google search of the wunderkind reveals the most-frequent queries on the Internet, like: "What has happened to Jordan Spieth?"

Right? Who doesn't want to know why Spieth suddenly lost his way on the golf course?

"Spieth's slump," PGATOUR.COM'S Cameron Morfit wrote, "has been one of the most vexing storylines in golf over the last three years."

New reporting points to an injury in the weight room. From Morfit's piece:

According to the Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner, Spieth hurt himself most likely while lifting weights and chose not to have surgery. Asked about his injury at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship on Monday, Spieth said that by compensating with his grip and swing in order to avoid pain, he turned his poor play into a full-on slump.

"I probably fought changes that would have helped me turn things in the right direction a little bit sooner," said Spieth, whose resurgence (FedExCup No. 47) has been a big story in 2021.

Those changes are ongoing. Improvement has been slow.

In the story, he added:

"It was very much a reason," Spieth said of the injury and how it impacted his slump. "But I mean, everybody's got some reason for something that they get off. That was mine, and I certainly could have handled it differently and feel good that right now it's not an issue."

Friday, March 19

Lee Westwood Misses Cut at Honda Classic, Has Earned a Rest After Battling the Twenty Somethings

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AFTER CONSECUTIVE RUNNER-UP FINISHES at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship, 47-year-old Lee Westwood ran out of gas at The Honda Classic at PGA National.

The Englishman missed the cut after rounds of 70 and 78. Now for some much-needed rest.

Westwood did the right thing by playing the Honda, even if he knew he was stretching himself by playing a fourth consecutive week. The tournament has been good to him in the past, and the Englishman has established his U.S. base close by in South Florida. ("It's just not right to withdraw at such a late date," he said.) On Thursday, he birdied his last two holes to shoot a solid 70. He was in a good spot. Friday, he just didn't have it. A lone birdie on his 17th hole of the day (the eighth) wasn't nearly enough to offset three double bogeys on a tough track.

Did he simply run out of gas? "Yeah," Westwood said wryly, "about four days ago."

Westwood added, "My body was telling me last Sunday. I didn't swing it as well Sunday last week. I was starting to get tired. Three weeks in a row with not really a day off. So yeah, I am 48 in a month, and I can't keep doing it like the 20-year-olds do it."

Aaron Wise currently leads the Honda. The second round is still in progress.

Thursday, March 18

PGA TOUR: How to Watch THE HONDA CLASSIC; TV Times, Streaming, Tournament Notes

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By NBC Sports

STAMFORD, Conn.  – The PGA TOUR continues its Spring Swing this Thursday-Sunday from PGA National Resort & Spa (Champions) in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on NBC and GOLF Channel. This year's field at the Honda Classic features last week's PLAYERS Championship runner-up Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott and more.

Sungjae Im defends his 2020 title, his first PGA TOUR victory. Major champion and two-time LPGA Tour winner Morgan Pressel will serve as an on-course reporter this week on GOLF Channel at the Honda Classic.

NBC/GOLF Channel Broadcast Team
Play by Play: Dan Hicks
Analyst: Paul Azinger
Tower: David Feherty / Justin Leonard
On-Course: Jim "Bones" Mackay / John Wood / Notah Begay / Morgan Pressel
Interviews: Steve Sands

Thursday, March 18 – Sunday, March 21 (all times ET)
TV – NBC, GOLF Channel
Streaming – NBC, GOLF Channel

Thursday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. / 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel)
Friday      2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel)
Saturday   3-6 p.m. (NBC) 1-3 p.m (Golf Channel)
Sunday     3-6 p.m. (NBC) 1-3 p.m. (Golf Channel)

Tuesday, March 16

New York Times: 'The Pandemic Drove People to Tennis and Golf. Will They Keep Playing?'

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MATTHEW FUTTERMAN AND BILL PENNINGTON reported on the boon for tennis and golf during the pandemic in last week's New York Times.

Here's an excerpt that touches on the "different mood about golf":

The growth in participation in golf and tennis is largely being driven by more financially secure people who, in some cases, have the luxury of working from home and the extra time that provides, as well as access to golf courses and tennis courts. But many were younger. There were 3.1 million junior golfers last year, the most ever, with an average age of 12. While new and novice players account for a significant portion of the growth, "new" does not necessarily mean "young."

More than 30 percent of beginning golfers last year were over the age of 40, according to the National Golf Foundation. The players run the gamut, from entire families playing together, women of all ages and lapsed players whose old equipment gives them away. Their arrival during the pandemic compelled golf courses to adopt a faster, more casual and technologically savvy way of operating that many at the top of golf's hierarchy see optimistically as part of an ongoing cultural shift.

"There's now a different mood about golf," Jerramy Hainline, the senior vice president and general manager of Golf Now, an online tee-time service with nearly four million registered golfers that also provides technology to more than 9,000 golf courses, said. "The spirit is changing out there."

Friday, March 12

VIDEO: Boy Aces School Report With Speech on Jordan Spieth to Jordan Spieth at The Players Championship


This young man delivered his school report on Jordan Spieth to Jordan Spieth during a practice round at The Players Championship.

"Better than most!" one might say. I'm giving him an A+.

NBC Sports: PGA TOUR Viewership Up 30% in 2021

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By NBC Sports

STAMFORD, Conn. – NBC Sports has produced significant viewership gains for the PGA TOUR to open the 2021 calendar year, delivering a 30% year-over-year viewership increase on NBC and a 24% increase for GOLF Channel/NBC tournament coverage through last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, according to data provided by The Nielsen Company.

Twenty-six tournament telecasts on GOLF Channel/NBC have seen at least 10% viewership growth in 2021 compared to the first two months of 2020, and eight of the 10 PGA TOUR events on GOLF Channel/NBC in 2021 have posted year-over-year viewership growth vs. comparable coverage of the same event, most notably:
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational on GOLF Channel/NBC up 49%
  • Waste Management Phoenix Open on GOLF Channel up 38%
  • AT&T Pebble Beach on GOLF Channel up 29%

Wednesday, March 10

TOURISM IRELAND VIDEO: Actor and Irishman Pierce Brosnan Waxes Poetic About His Native Land

WHO KNOWS WHEN INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL will be both safe and feasible. Or when golf tourism will relaunch like a Bryson DeChambeau tee shot.

We're getting closer. I know that.

In the meantime, here's actor Pierce Brosnan to put us in the mood for destinations like Ireland, where the golf is said to be legendary.

From Tourism Ireland:

The former James Bond star opens aptly with, "What’s not to love about Ireland? This tiny island has shown the greatest gift of poetry and storytelling".

He goes on to wax lyrical about his love for his native land, speaking over stunning shots of Ross Castle in County Meath, the Kerry coastline, its main town Dingle, the famous Ring of Kerry, the mountainous Reeks District and the much loved Skellig Islands lying off the coast, which featured in the Star Wars movie franchise.

The Hollywood star adds: "What do I miss about Ireland? It's the people. The sheer stamina and life force of Irish people from this great, beautiful landscape".

"I'm a Navan man, County Meath. I left Ireland when I was a boy, I was 11. So, over these many decades now going back there's always something great to discover".

Monday, March 8

PGA TOUR HIGHLIGHTS: Bryson DeChambeau's Victory at Arnold Palmer Invitational 'Beyond Wildest Dreams'

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU WON THE 2021 ARNOLD PALMER Invitational presented by Mastercard with a clutch par putt on the 18th hole. DeChambeau shot a 1-under 71 to finish 11 under at Bay Hill and notch his eighth victory on the PGA Tour.

Lee Westwood, who made a scrappy par after hitting out of a sand divot in the middle of the final fairway, finished second one stroke behind.

"It's beyond my wildest dreams to win Mr. Palmer's event," DeChambeau said. "I came here as an amateur. He gave me an invitation and I loved this golf course the minute I arrived."

He added, "I loved the atmosphere and I love the fans. I loved what Mr. Palmer did with this place and what he's done, and his legacy he's left here."

The long-hitting player received encouraging texts from a recovering Tiger Woods prior to the final round. It surprised him. It also motivated him.

DeChambeau climbed from No. 11 to No. 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Dustin Johnson is still on top.

Next up is The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Wednesday, March 3

Get Better: A Brief Guide to Golf Practice at Home

GOLFERS, SPRING IS COMING! But, like others, you might still be stuck inside due to work, Jekyll and Hyde weather, COVID-19, or for other reasons.

No worries. You can still be "golf-ready."

Putting Green - Big Moss Golf
From simple to more elaborate, there are myriad possibilities for golf practice at home. And indoor practice sessions can range from minutes to hours. It's up to you. 

There are many gadgets, aids and equipment options for sharpening your game: indoor golf nets, golf simulators, a variety of artificial surfaces such as indoor putting greens, and other training aids.

Set up an at-home practice area wherever it works best for you, like a spare room, the garage, or in your basement. Invest a little or a lot of money, depending on your budget and goals.

Here are some at-home practice drills and ideas for your consideration.

Swing a golf club everyday (or as often as possible). Hit golf balls into a net or simply swing a golf club (even a weighted club). This will help you gain strength and flexibility.

PGA club pro Kevin Piecuch said, "If you can do 25 to 50 swings a day with a heavy club, I find it makes a big difference come spring."

Hit golf balls into an indoor net. Tour player coach Rick Smith said hitting balls into a net helps you focus on mechanics, tempo and muscle memory (instead of worrying about ball flight, distance, etc.).

Indoor putting and chipping drills. Turn on Golf Channel, go online, or pick up a golf magazine. There are a ton of putting and short-game tips and drills.

My advice: work on your putting -- the stroke, alignment, distance control and more. Putting is up to half the game, but most people don't work on it very much.

Of course, you can also watch golf on TV and read golf instruction books. There's always something new to learn about this game. And, no matter your skill level, there are always ways to improve.

Whatever you do, make it fun.

Sponsored by GolfAnytime.

Tuesday, March 2

Help Wanted: Opening for New Commissioner Posted at LPGA.com

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Seriously, I stopped by LPGA.com and noticed a "Commissoner's Search" tab on their site. I clicked and up popped the opening for a new commissioner to replace outgoing commissioner Mike Whan, who is headed to the USGA.

Executive search firm Spencer Stuart is leading the search. Here's the job description and contact information:

The Commissioner serves as the face and voice of the LPGA and, in concert with Board direction, leads the organization in all strategic business and management functions. The mission for the next Commissioner will be to continue the growth and momentum the LPGA has achieved. Beyond that, the next leader will work closely with the Board and our key constituents to set the strategy and vision for the LPGA; maintain and build new relationships with external partners; launch new, innovative ways for fans to connect with the LPGA; and attract more interest and support for our mission to provide opportunities for women and young girls to achieve their dreams in golf.

The ideal candidate will be:
  • A proven General Manager or senior executive (i.e. CMO) with a track record of success from a related sports, consumer or media enterprise. 
  • Someone who has crafted winning partnerships and worked with his/her team to achieve outstanding financial results. 
  • Someone who has leveraged “modern” marketing – ideally on a global basis – to build a compelling and an enduring brand. 
  • And of course, someone who brings to the LPGA a sincere authenticity and passion not only for the game of golf, but importantly, for their broader mission.
If you are interested and would like more information regarding this role, please send your credentials to: LPGAComm@spencerstuart.com.