Video: Shinnecock Hills First Hole Flyover And Past Comments From Boatwright, Eger

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It's a tradition here pre-U.S. Open: counting down the holes until Shinnecock Hills hosts a fourth modern-era U.S. Open over its magnificent William Flynn design.

Besides some excellent flyovers filmed in fall 2017 by the USGA, for added giggles I'm going to share--when helpful--the 1986 comments of P.J. Boatwright and the 1995 comments of David Eger. Both were the Senior Director of Rules prior to the U.S. Open at Shinnecock. Their comments appeared in the tournament programs.

For the 1986 U.S. Open, Boatwright said of the opening hole:

A pleasant starting hole that offers a sweeping view of the course from an elevated tee. You'll see most players get off the tee with four-woods and one-irons since it's a tight drive zone--one we narrowed from 46 yards to 28 yards. The green has been enlarged at the back left to provide a testing hole location behind the bunker at the left of the green.

Eger in 1995:

This is a great starter, as the elevated tee provides players with a sweeping view of the course. It's a slight dogleg right and the prevailing wind quarters from left to right. Many players will use a fairway wood off the tee as the fairway is only about 30 yards off the tee.

The 2018 U.S. Open website description suggests a much different possibility than 1986 and 1995. It's those foam rollers keeping them limber. And the roll of course!

This manageable opening hole plays from an elevated tee near the clubhouse. Players who hit driver will find that the fairway narrows dramatically as it nears the two fairway bunkers on the right side of the drive zone – from 47 yards wide at 275 yards, to 30 yards wide at the 300-yard mark. Under certain wind conditions, players might attempt to hit driver close to or onto the putting surface. It’s a birdie opportunity, but a player could make a quick bogey here as well.

Country Singer Owen Posts 86 In Web.com Tour Event, Gets Into Twitter Spat Mid-Round

I'm usually a defender of sponsor's invites and the silly scores that have come with them. But I'm not sure if country singer Jake Owen (Nashville Open first round 86) taking to Twitter mid-round is the look a tournament or the PGA Tour was hoping for since Owen was pushing back at a player unhappy at seeing a spot wasted. How Owen saw the mention among his 2.28 million followers is unclear, or when he found the time to bang out a Tweet as he was racking up a huge score is also not clear.

Either way, he fired off a less-than-gentlemanly reply to Doug Walker:

Mini-tour player Walker challenged Owen to some charity fundraising via birdies--of which Owen made zero in round one--and it appears all are on board with others pledging money to Brandt Snedeker's foundation, the beneficiary of the event, reports Golf World's Christopher Powers. 

One of Walker's many follow-ups:

Will Shinnecock Help USGA Reclaim "Lost" U.S. Open Identity?

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That's the question posed by Doug Ferguson as we head to Shinnecock Hills and after recent Opens and Chambers Bay and Erin Hills.

While I understand lamenting the loss of thick rough and narrow fairways, I do wonder if the lack of U.S. Open re-broadcasts on Golf Channel clouds memories of that past style of play. Yes, it was an "ultimate test" and very, very difficult, but the pre-Mike Davis U.S. Open setup approach had its faults.

While Ferguson's piece hits on the key arguments of some who miss the old U.S. Open, I sense folks are confusing the issues. Which are:

--Going to links style modern courses devoid of history (Chambers Bay, Erin Hills)

--Ending the days of six inch rough off the fairways and trying to eliminate setup boondoggles

--The brief move away from classic inland, tree-lined tests

--Player or former player disdain for the USGA and/or Mike Davis and venting

In considering the issues, the venue selections seem the bigger issue than all others for U.S. Open fans. Given the run of U.S. Open courses ahead, the identity may come back on its own.

Haley! Thrilling Finish (Salvages An Obnoxiously Slow) NCAA Women's Golf Championship

 Arizona Wildcats, 2018 NCAA Womens golf champions   

Arizona Wildcats, 2018 NCAA Womens golf champions

 

They covered the television spectrum of awful to amazing over the course of Wednesday's NCAA Women's Golf Championship: there was the moribund Karsten Creek, a Fazio design just oozing with ryegrass overseed and a level of drabness that exceeds even his established standards for expensive mediocrity.

Worse, it was a course devoid of spectators--beyond family members and officials. The only real sound came from a plane flying above to capture great aerials. 

All day there were players playing each shot as if it were their last, consulting pace of play-expediting rangefinders, only to then go to their yardage books and coaching insights as we waited, waited and waited for a golf shot to be struck. Then they got to the greens where they looked into green books and we viewers waited more to see golf shots.

It was enough to make anyone despise what has become of the college game.

Yet all of the tediousness was rendered (somewhat) moot when Alabama's Lakareber Abe recovered from a 17th hole debacle to hit perfect shots at the 18th and force a sudden death playoff for the team title between her Crimson Tide and Hayley Moore of Arizona.

Moore ultimately sank the winning putt for the Wildcats and besides delivering her the memory of a lifetime, gave us viewers the chance to experience a highlight improbable win by the 8th seeded-Wildcats. Good for Haley and her teammates: you were clutch and genuinely earned this title.

As for the college coaches and NCAA that have been handed the gift that is national television exposure: shame on you. No one in their right mind tuning in could come away with a positive impression of college golf when they see shots taking two minutes to play and absurd coaching intrusions and slow play. 

Okay back to the athletes.

Kevin Casey's Golfweek.com gamer. 

Ryan Lavner on the improbable journey of Arizona, a lineup somewhat cobbled together after a major mid-season defection and another attempted departure.

Moore's interview with Kay Cockerill after sinking the winning putt.

The final day highlights from Golf Channel:

Instagram: Hammer And Barber Win The Four-Ball, BMW PGA Laughs, The King At Colonial, Blooming Gorse At Nairn, French Bulldogs And Golf Balls

Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber won the U.S Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Jupiter Hills, for those asking why the USGA didn't ID them in various social postings.

David Shefter's USGA game story on the young champions of an event that seemed designed to give mid-amateurs another shot at USGA glory.

Darren Carroll with a shot from the winning moment as the two 18-year-olds posted a 10-birdie 4-and-3 victory over Floridians Marc Dull, 32 and Chip Brooke, 42.

Here is the moment where European Tour Chief Keith Pelley finally was able to explain to Haotong Li how the GolfSixes format works. We all can relate to Li grasping at the Chief Executive's logic. The BMW PGA starts Thursday from Wentworth.

The King wins at Colonial, a fun PGA Tour posted flashback. I think we all could have done without the #liveunderpar hashtag, except the ad geniuses whose job depends on counting up the impressions for failing, almost shockingly awkward ad campaign gone wrong.

The spring bloom is looking pretty sweet at Nairn, courtesy of Ru Macdonald and the Scottish Golf Podcast.

Nairn Golf Club 😍

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French bulldogs and golf balls, what more do you need in life?

I’m a strict golf instructor, but the results speak 4 themselves⛳️

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Then There Were Two: Alabama Vs. Arizona For NCAA Women's Title

 Alabama's Lauren Stephenson

Alabama's Lauren Stephenson

Led by a "Big 3" of seemingly unbeatable talent Alabama heads into Wednesday's NCAA women's final the overwhelming favorite, notes Golfweek's Brentley Romine. 

And while no one will ever call a Pac 12 school from Arizona an underdog in golf, the Arizona women hope to continue a string of upsets and all on very little sleep after escaping Monday night's bizarro playoff, writes Golfweek's Beth Ann Nichols

(Speaking of which, if you saw the shotgun playoff used and hope to never see it again, Lance Ringler's commentary will be very agreeable.)

Highlights for Alabama fans from the semifinal win over USC.

Highlights from Arizona's win over Stanford after having beaten UCLA earlier in the day.

The final day matches courtesy of GolfChannel.com.

The Wednesday schedule on Golf Channel:

Golf Central Pre Game           2-4 p.m.

Championship Match           4-8 p.m.

Golf Central                            8-9 p.m.

Minimalist Maintenance Is Not More Expensive, Contrary To Popular Opinion

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I've always been particularly fascinated at the idea of minimalist course designs costing more to maintain.

The concept is generally perpetrated by the tin siding-salesman masquerading as golf architects who sometimes plaid jackets and would just as soon be selling you a policy as they would be in designing interesting, affordable golf holes. They also don't really like the minimalist movement for a variety of reasons, from general point missing to just wanting to sell projects on goods and services they don't need.

Born out of this have been derogatory whisper campaigns about the perils of going minimalist, including the contradictory notion that bunkers maintained as rough hazards take more time and money to present than those edged weekly and raked daily. 

So as accustomed to this completely bizarre take as we subscribers to the movement have become, it was a bit disheartening to read Gary Van Sickle's MorningRead.com take suggesting AT&T Byron Nelson Classic host site Trinity Forest was an example of the kind of "high-maintenance, slow-play golf course" the game needs less of.

Had Van Sickle been there to hear Jordan Spieth mention whizzing around the course in two-hours--golf board aided--or seen the turf, I wonder if this take might have been different:

Golf needs low-maintenance, fast-play golf courses. Trinity Forest is a high-maintenance, slow-play golf course. Did you see some of those massive bunkers? An amateur could spend five minutes raking his or her way out of the trap.

Greens are the most expensive parts of a golf course to maintain, and Trinity Forest has gigantic greens. One double green is 35,000 square feet. Pebble Beach’s front-nine greens would almost fit in that corral.

It’s ironic that Trinity Forest seemed like a breath of fresh air with its different look and myriad challenges, but it is not an economically viable model for golf in most areas.

Actually, it is. 

Despite the deep pockets of the members, the maintenance approach is pretty restrained.

Reviewing my notes from an interview with superintendent Kasey Kauff, he noted Trinity's full staff for the course is a very normal 24, including assistants and technicians.

Fairways are cut twice a week while bunkers are raked at the same rate (with touch ups). The greens are mown just five days a week in peak season, once or twice a week in the winter. 

Thanks to the slow-growing zoysia and lean watering program, bunkers are rarely edged. Fertilization is at half the rate of a Bermuda grass golf course. Half. 

As for slow play, maintenance and design are not to blame for threesomes in a full field PGA Tour event not getting around in a timely manner. When today's players can reach all par-5s in two and at least one par-4 in one, that's a distance discussion and sometimes a green speed discussion. Trinity Forest's greens were at a modest 10.5 on the Stimpmeter.

Yes, Trinity Forest is a wealthy membership with a token First Tee facility and it took millions to convert a landfill into a course only a select few rich guys can join. Quibble with that stuff all day long if you must. But suggesting the design is an example of high-cost maintenance and slow play maintenance would not be accurate. 

Instagram Roundup: Warrior Open, Sandbelt's Peninsula, Pinecone At The Cradle, Trick Shot Gone Wrong

Former President George W. Bush hosted the Warrior Open at Trinity Forest following the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic. A nice photo gallery from the day (arrow on right of image to scroll through):

Ogilvy-Clayton-Cocking-Mead's rejuvenation of Peninsula is coming in nicely...

WIDTH @occmgolf

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Pinehurst claims the prize for coolest modern day beverage cart, the "Pinecone" at The Cradle:

Don't try this at home dads...

Ryder Cup: Westwood, McDowell, Donald And Harrington Officially Transition To Cart Driving Roles

I'm feeling old and oddly sentimental seeing Ryder Cup stalwarts Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald joining Robert Karlsson as transitioning to cart driving roles. (You can read their comments here about the new gigs.)

Captain Thomas Bjorn's five assistants have much Ryder Cup playing experience but very little time behind the wheel, with only a few months to learn the intricacies of maximum passenger loads, ear piece chatter management and the best French versions of "cart on your left".

Of course, perhaps they'll just go the Team America route and appoint drivers for the assistant cart drivers. 

Anyhow, let's hope we've maxed out the number of assistants at five...

USGA On 2004 At Shinnecock: "What basically happened then was a lack of water.”

 Lush rough at Shinnecock Hills less than a month from the U.S. Open.

Lush rough at Shinnecock Hills less than a month from the U.S. Open.

David Dusek reports from U.S. Open media day at Shinnecock Hills and the USGA made the first effort to put behind them the course setup boondoggle from the last Open.

Somewhere Tom Meeks and Walter Driver aren't liking these comments from current Executive Director Mike Davis, but the truth can be painful:

“It’s been 14 years, and it’s a different time, with different people,” Davis said. “When you set up a U.S. Open, it is golf’s ultimate test and is probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf. The difference between then and now is that we have a lot more technology and a lot more data. And frankly, what basically happened then was a lack of water.”

 

This probably won't bring great comfort to Phil Mickelson, who lost by two with a double at the virtually unplayable 7th hole.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

NCAA Women: And Then There Were Eight (After An Extra Two Hours Because Play Is Painfully Slow)

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I'm not sure anyone tuning in early on to the final stroke play day of the NCAA Women's Golf could have come away feeling good about what they saw.

--Six hour rounds. 

--Players pushing around grocery cart-sized trolleys with corporate-emblazoned umbrellas.

--Coaches interjecting mind-numbingly simple advice adding to the excruciating pace. 

--A lush, tree-choked, traditionally anti-septic Fazio design free of spectators that even friends and family passed on coming to see.

--The debut of a new episode of Driven delayed two hours. But boy those OU and OSU boys know how to board a private jet and leave the bag loading to a luggage handler! America!

Anyway, the entire affair in Stillwater felt like anything but a national championship, despite the fine effort by Golf Channel and the course maintenance team. And what a shame, as eventual individual winner Jennifer Kupcho is a phenomenal redemption story, pulling away to victory in front of her parents and excited teammates. 

As Ryan Lavner recounts for GolfChannel.com, Kupcho lost last year's individual title down the stretch and faced a water-lined hole this year to clinch the coveted individual title. This time, she was all clutch and the pride exuded by all made the long slog of a day all worth the payoff.

On the team side, Arizona defeated Baylor in the dark to secure the 8th and final spot in match play starting Tuesday.  This after Arizona junior Bianca Pagdanganan (T2 at 6-under par) eagled the 18th hole to force a playoff. The two-hole team playoff ended action two hours after Golf Channel was due to sign off.                                                                                                      

Team Match Play Quarterfinal Matchups starting at 10 am CT:

UCLA vs. Arizona

Alabama vs. Kent State

USC vs. Duke

Northwestern vs. Stanford

Highlights:

TigerJam: Bidder Pays $50,000 For Chance To Loop At Hero World Challenge

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The 20th (!) TigerJam last weekend raised big money and to introduce recent Earl Woods Scholar Desiree Sim, who is going into social work after graduating Skidmore College. So there was at least one person in Las Vegas last weekend doing something to make the world a better place!

While she was no doubt more impressive than the Elvis impersonator, I would love to know who the (undisclosed) live auction winner was of the chance to carry Tiger's bag:

The reception wrapped with a thrilling live auction, filled with luxury items such as an Advance Package Acura MDX SH and unforgettable golf experiences at Bluejack National, Diamante Cabo San Lucas and the 2018 Hero World Challenge which includes the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to caddie for Tiger Woods during his Pro-Am round at Albany, Bahamas raising $50,000 for TGR Foundation. Sugar Ray Leonard surprised the crowd as he joined Chris Harrison on stage to help auction off not one, but two packages for a one-of-a-kind experience to spend the day with the boxing legend.

Oh the questions that lucky looper must pose, or at least try to pose, right?

Maybe The Stinger Fan Club chair ponied up to ask the question we scribblers always come so close and yet so far from asking: why not more stingers? Either way, it's for a good cause.

British-Based Group Working On $20 Million Purse "World Golf Series"

Andrew Both of Reuters reports on the British-based World Golf Group now a year into planning stages for a bold 15-20-event, $20 million purse series featuring top players and blue-chip sponsors. 

The players who join would likely say goodbye to the PGA Tour, a healthy retirement plan and world ranking points that help get them in majors and maintain endorsement deals.

“Every player’s deal is centred around world ranking points,” leading British agent Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler, who is aware of the proposed World Golf Series, told Reuters. 

“This series will never get world ranking points, so it will cost people money in the end. I think there are a lot of obstacles to get over." 

As Both notes, the proposal sounds "eerily" similar to Greg Norman's 1990's idea for a world tour of elite players.

What I can't understand: what need does this fill? Between the WGC's and Rolex Series, are fans clamoring to see the world's best get together more for double the purse size? If the venues and locales were special, there might be some intrigue initially. But there still needs to be some other twist that captures our attention. 

Developing...

Wise: 21 Year Old Has Highest GIR Percentage Since 1997

Our eyes did not deceive us during Aaron Wise's debut win at Trinity Forest: he put on a ball-striking display for the ages.

Wise dominated in strokes gained off the tee and approaching the green:

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The size of Trinity Forest's greens and high field average (84%) does not diminish his Green-In-Regulation number given where the performance landed historically (which seems to have played a WGC in Mexico in 2006!*):

Runner-up Marc Leishman hit 77.78% of his greens. 

*Doral

 

 

Follow-Up On May Weather, PGA Championship Week

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While poking around and looking at weather in PGA Championship cities one year out from its new May playing, I found one part of the country without significant weather issues.

I can reveal it to you in a screen grab of my radar app today and say definitively that this is very typical for May.

FYI, the west coast hosts two PGA's in the next decade, too!

The west coast also delivers a prime time finish, meaning about another 1 million or so viewers.

On Sunday nights, too.

Shame we only have two on the schedule in 2020 and 2028. Next TV contract bidders budget accordingly!

 

 

 

 

Aaron Wise Makes Winning Look Easy In First AT&T Byron Nelson At Trinity Forest

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If you kept waiting for Aaron Wise to show signs of nerves you had a long day in the rain-delayed 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson Classic.

The former NCAA Individual and Team champion from Oregon posted a final round 65 to break the tournament record and build on a second place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship. 

Turns out the biggest obstacle to the day was listening to his mom reel off the perks of a win and what other finishes might mean. From Will Gray's GolfChannel.com story:

“She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”

Wise is only 21, something PGATour.com's Mike McAllister focused on in an excellent story from Saturday night heading into the finale.

Golfweek's David Dusek with what was in the winner's bag.

More ShotLink breakdowns are to come, but the big news for fans of minimalism will take heart in Wise dismantling the course with ball-striking prowess.

Marc Leishman hit some groovy shots around the greens and several players posted incredible scores, but the highlights are ultimately all about Wise and that swing!

From PGA Tour Entertainment:

Spieth On Trinity Forest's Debut, Possible Schedule Landing Spot

 No. 17 green, Trinity Forest

No. 17 green, Trinity Forest

Jordan Spieth's assessment of his home club Trinity Forest upon posting a -11, T21 effort suggests he saw some reporting of highly critical comments. Perhaps he's referring to Matt Kuchar longing for TPC Las Colinas?

Either way, all of his assessments are worth a read if you are into this kind of (architecture) thing. 

Q. Lot of questions about Trinity Forest going into this week. What do you think was accomplished in this tournament?

JORDAN SPIETH: I think -- I think it was a really positive outcome for the golf course and the tournament here and I say that partly because it really was but also because a year back when the caddy event was here and other players came and played it it wasn't playing the way it's intended to play. It was too new, wasn't ready yet and got some really bad reviews.

I think compared to the initial reviews what I heard this week, and I know it's been reported differently, I was talking to all the players, I asked a lot of guys, I didn't hear one bad thing said.

A lot of guys said, "It's grown on me day to day, I really enjoyed it as a change of pace, I had a lot of fun playing this golf course." Those were lines guys were using this week and shouldn't be reported any differently.

It was an overwhelmingly positive outlook from the players that played. I think as the greens continue to fill in and mature, they'll only be more consistent and the course gets better.

He was asked about next year and suggested the schedule landing spot is still up in the air:

Q. (Inaudible)
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it's going to -- it's a totally different schedule next year and this will be a completely -- I mean it could be a similar time, it could be a different time of the year within a month or two, and I think it will depend on what tournaments it's near.

Changing golf courses around a Players Championship, the Colonial, that's very popular, Muirfield, U.S. Open, this allows for a week off with the unknowns and it makes total sense for guys to skip.

I think having seen the coverage and listening to what I was talking about the other players saying, I mean if it becomes a week before a Major or at least in a better time in the schedule, then the field will drastically change. Otherwise it will get a little bit better.

It's a shame Dallas turns so miserably hot, but a post-U.S. Open playing in the last week of June or first week of July and serving as Open Championship preparation and Open Qualifying Series would be a great spot for Trinity Forest.

Winner's Roundup Instagram Style: Wise, Jutanagarn, Otaegui, Arnaud And Jimenez Hoist A Lovely Assortment Of Golf Trophies

Aaron Wise takes home the new crystal trophy for winning the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic debuting on the tournament's 50th anniversary. Even better the trophy creates fun facial distortions for those standing inconveniently behind the glass.

A moment he’ll never forget. #LiveUnderPar

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Ariya Jutanagarn returns to the winner's circle a month after her sister's victory, taking the LPGA's Kingsmill Championship and a fantastic salad-making bowl.

Adrian Otaegui earned a converted periscope for winning the European Tour's Belgian Knockout.

Michael Arnaud was the last player into the Web.com Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am, reeled off two incredible stretches of golf and hoists...a steering wheel!

Miguel Angel Jimenez earned himself a Claret Jug knockoff found at an antique shop and given to the winner of the Regions Tradition.

Crenshaw Pleased With Trinity Forest Debut

A record winning score posted by a player posting some amazing ball-striking stats never hurts, but Ben Crenshaw declared his pleasure at Trinity Forest's AT&T Byron Nelson Classic debut.

From Will Gray's report for GolfChannel.com:

“We’re pleased. It’s off to a nice, quiet start, let’s say,” Crenshaw said. “The week started off very quiet with the wind. This course, we envision that you play it with a breeze. It sort of lends itself to a links style, playing firm and fast, and as you saw yesterday, when the wind got up the scores went up commensurately.”

The Crenshaw's with former President George W. Bush, who appeared in the broadcast booth during the final round. He hosts an event for wounded warriors Monday at Trinity Forest.