Sergio Releases First Single Off The New Record: San Antonio Hurl

Screen Shot 2018-04-20 at 11.40.30 PM.png

Great to see Sergio Garcia getting back to his roots by shelving the big name producer and the lavish string arrangements for a stripped-down, acoustic version of his classic club right-handed club hurl. 

Following a missed cut at The Masters, Sergio's first single off the new album pays homage to Lyle Lovett's classic: San Antonio Hurl.  Reviewers will swoon over how little speed he's lost even as he shifts to a left-handed toss.

Mercifully this time around, he kept his Rogue driver--with groundbreaking Jailbreak Technology no less--out of a lake and instead deposited the wounded weapon into cedar-infested shrubbery.

The hurl took place in round two of the Valero Texas Open. Make sure to watch all the way through to :48 when analyst Billy Kratzert suggests the club hurl was "highly untypical of Sergio" while the Spaniard takes another lash at something in the shrubbery! He's living under par! 

Garcia's new album is also expected to feature a duet with wife Angela, "Don't Go Breaking My Club."

Beverly CC Extends Membership To Former President Barack Obama

Screen Shot 2018-04-20 at 11.20.49 PM.png

There are many fine courses and clubs in the Chicago area, but it's still nice to see a facility with the history and architecture of Beverly Country Club's caliber welcoming the golf-loving former president of the United States to its roster.

Teddy Greenstein reports for the Chicago Tribune.

This was interesting:

Members refer to Beverly Country Club as “the United Nations” of golf clubs, a home to people of all ethnicities, races, faiths, political parties — and both sexes. The membership includes multiple Nobel Prize recipients and politicians such as Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Ald. Ed Burke.

The club features a Ron Pritchard restoration of a Donald Ross original.

Instagram: Kingston, Wilshire And Shinnecock

It's a law firm! 

In a Friday golf architecture-focused edition of Instagram shots I've enjoyed, we kick off with an unusual angle of (photographic) approach to Kingston Heath's 11:

A very LA Open-like weather day for the LPGA's return to the LA city limits. A few of my shots, just use the arrows to the right to see all...

The tents are going up, now it's just time for spring weather to rejuvenate the native grasses. One of golf's most beautiful par-4s:

Ko: Leadbetter Responds To His Critics

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 9.33.44 PM.png

Lydia Ko opened with a 70 in the Hugel-JTBC LA Open but the off-course discussion about her career trajectory continues. A few weeks after Kevin Van Valkenburg's ESPN The Magazine profile of Ko, where former instructor David Leadbetter's work is harshly evaluated by several golf observers, the famed instructor is pushing back.

Here is what might have prompted Leadbetter to respond, from Van Valkenburg's story:

Leadbetter helped Faldo remake his swing in the '80s, when he was the No. 1 player in the world, and he was Els' coach for nearly 20 years, when Els won three of his four majors. But he was also given the derisive nickname Lead Poison by tour players and media members after Wie, another teenage prodigy, failed to blossom. Wie, who recently won her first tournament in nearly four years, continues working with Leadbetter.

"Lydia Ko, from the time she was a child, everyone could see where she was headed," says Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player who now works as an analyst for the Golf Channel. "David Leadbetter completely changed the DNA of her golf swing. Why in the world would you do that? Because you want to put your stamp or signature on the masterpiece that is this kid?"

But Ko continued to play well before firing Leadbetter. She currently works with Ted Oh.

On his website, Leadbetter posted this rebuttal today. He targets Lydia's father and fatigue as key issues. 

Along with all of this, her father, a non-accomplished golfer, heard rumors that she needed to change her swing and made suggestions to Lydia to change it - independently of her coaches. Sean Hogan traveled with her to the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship during the last part of the season and observed Lydia being very confused [with her swing].

Amazingly enough, despite all of this, she had an excellent chance of remaining No. 1 in the world with a solid finish at the last tournament of the year. She shot 62 (10 under par) in the second round and things seemed to be on track. Her last round, unfortunately, was very average and she just lost out on winning the LPGA Player of the Year.

In this day and age, we have ways of measuring energy output in the swing. In the last quarter of the year, she had lost 20% of her energy which could only mean one thing - complete fatigue. Unfortunately, to the unknowledgeable, this can be misconstrued as experiencing swing issues.

What's More Embarrassing Files: The Rangefinder Usage Penalty, Or That You Were Using It From 40 Yards Out?

At this week's Sage Valley Invitational the world's top junior players are not allowed to use rangefinders to gauge distances. 

As Brentley Romine reports for Golfweek, first round leader Akshay Batia battled winds and a self-imposed mistake to post a first round lead-tying 68.

Cringeworthy that he mistakenly forgot the rules for the week and was penalized two strokes? Naw. 

That he pulled out rangefinder from 40 yards...at least to old fuddy-duddies like me? Yikes!

Then, just like he is accustomed to doing in most of his junior and amateur tournaments, Bhatia reached in his golf bag, pulled out his rangefinder and shot his number.

40 yards.

But Bhatia quickly got a sinking feeling in his stomach. His playing competitor, Michael Sanders, asked Bhatia if he had just used his rangefinder. Knowing that rangefinders aren’t permitted this week at the Junior Invitational, Bhatia replied honestly.

“I knew I couldn’t use a rangefinder, but I decided to take it out for some reason and use it,” Bhatia said of the mental error. “… It’s my fault. I should’ve taken it out of the golf bag (before the round). It sucks, but I’m grateful I’m still in this position and not disqualified.”

Schwab To The Rescue! Colonial Appears Primed To Land Long-Term Sponsor

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 4.42.16 PM.png

Brad Townsend with great news for fans of the historic Colonial PGA Tour stop: Charles Schwab appears set to take over as the event sponsor in 2019. 

There are still dots and crosses that could derail things, but as Townsend lays out, Schwab will have a nearby presence in a year and it appears to be a great fit. (The 2018 edition of the Colonial is sponsored by a combination of American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern.)

Most significantly to Colonial, Schwab and the potential for a longterm, mutually beneficial relationship, Schwab is building a $100 million campus in Westlake, north of Fort Worth, that could house up to 2,600 employees. The campus is scheduled to open in 2019.

Much like North Texas' other PGA Tour event, the AT&T Byron Nelson, Schwab would represent to Colonial a sponsor with a long, deeply rooted association with the PGA Tour.

Say It Ain't So: Fire At National Golf Links Of America

There is no more historic clubhouse in America and certainly no club housing a more important collection of historic memorabilia than NGLA's. 

So as we await word on the extent of damage--most reports seem to suggest firefighters kept the fire from spreading beyond a kitchen, an upstairs patio and the "birdcage" dining area added in 1916--we can only hope all of C.B. Macdonald's treasures and Jarvis Hunt's clubhouse design were not permanently damaged.

A 27East story seems to be the most complete in terms of details and some images.

A few fire photos followed by some clubhouse interior shots that capture the grandeur of this American treasure...

Hansen: Closing Of Blanchard Golf Course A Sad Sign Of The Times

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 8.43.29 PM.png

With the WGC match play having left we don't often get the pleasure of reading Greg Hansen these days, and his latest is by no means uplifting. Still, Hansen bids farewell to Blanchard Golf Course in first class fashion, with no shortage of important points about the role courses like it have played in producing golfers and as a landing spot for veterans or First Tee graduates who go on to careers in golf. 

With Arizona's skyrocketing costs and the courses's place behind Air Force base gates, even an increase in annual rounds and improved maintenance could not stop the 56-year-old course from going under. Sitting next to an airplane boneyard, Blanchard is now less than two weeks from shutting down for good. 

It’s sad, because Blanchard is what the old Randolph South course used to be: flat and friendly. You could walk BGC in 3½ hours, eat a reasonably priced hot dog at the soon-to-close Eagles Nest restaurant, and not lose a sleeve of golf balls in a wash or the desert or anywhere.

Golf’s demise in the 21st century was triggered because the game is too difficult, too expensive and too time-consuming. Blanchard was a step back to the 1970s.

So now the 56-year-old golf course will be repurposed as a recreation area and forgotten.

A few days ago, Moreno played in a group with former Blanchard “cart kids” Sean Mullen and Brent Lingel, who went on to become golf pros in Tucson and in Texas, and now run Tucson’s Rolling Hills Golf Course.

“It was a memorable day, and in fact we made it 27 holes because we didn’t want it to end,” Mullen said. “I grew up at Blanchard. It was my first job and basically my second home. My dad, J.J., still works there. I have nothing but positive memories.”

New Caddyshack Book Excerpted: Rodney Got Just $35K To Play Al

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 9.26.05 PM.png

Chris Nashawaty's upcoming book on the making of Caddyshack has been excepted on Golf.com and this preview is a fun read, focusing on casting with all sorts of detail.

“We brought Rodney in to the studio,” says Jon Peters, Caddyshack’s executive producer. “He comes in wearing this aqua-blue leisure suit and takes out a plastic bag and does two lines of coke. He undoes his shirt and says, ‘Where's the p----?’ ” It was a hell of a first impression. Dangerfield would end up getting $35,000 for his role. And though he would always credit Caddyshack for launching his movie career, he would often do so while complaining that he actually lost $150,000 on the film, having given up a month of headlining in Vegas to shoot it. 

Holy cow...not even last place money in a WGC event. Rodney in Caddyshack was living under the actor poverty line.

The book is out April 24th.

Arccos: Average Golfers Declining In Driving Distance

GolfDigest.com's Mike Stachura reports on Arccos data of more than 10 million drives suggesting that average golfers have seen flat or declining distances since 2015.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 9.44.23 PM.png

Stachura queries some industry types to understand why all of the Hot List winners might not be delivering distance. There is Nick Clearwater at Golftec, who naturally wants more people to get better fittings from places like...Golftec. But Clearwater also says this about lightweight clubs actually working against the average golfer:

“The average golfer uses too much spin loft with all of their clubs, so increases in tech still show minimal improvement in the quality of the shot,” he said. “The shots still start to the right, spin too much, and are mishit.

“There is not much equipment/ball can help with. Also, as much as clubhead tech has improved, shafts are getting lighter and longer from the OEMs and the consistency of the strike is compromised as a result.”

This regarding the disparity between pros and amateurs would be fun to contrast with twenty years ago:

The Arccos research also provided data on average 7-iron distance across age groups and handicaps. The overall 7-iron average was 143.3 yards, compared to 172 yards for a PGA Tour player as measured by Trackman. That data suggests average golfers are playing a dramatically different game than elite tour players. Combining the average golfer’s driver and 7-iron you get a 364-yard par 4. That might be 120 yards or more shorter than how a PGA Tour player might play a driver, 7-iron hole.

Having made the case that today's equipment rules are being circumvented by elite players via fitting, while making clear the data is pointing to little game improvement for average players, it's hardly a call to go out and shop. A good fitting yes, but shopping?

So long story short, average golfers might not be getting better, but they clearly have the potential.

Click on the following links to shop the latest drivers Dick's Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy.

It's not often you get hard data telling you what you've bought is failing you, followed by links to buy clubs. 

Ironically the piece is a fantastic case for bifurcation where equipment rules can be adjusted to help the average golfer, while making clear we need to tighten up a few loose bolts for the pros. 

Instagram: Jack On Barbara Bush's Passing, Tiger's Big Cedar Junior Clinic, Pressel On Wilshire's 9th, A Fun Legends Of Golf Flashback

Jack Nicklaus says goodbye to former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Tiger gives a clinic ahead of the Legends of Golf.

Morgan Pressel shows off Wilshire CC's incredibly sloped 9th fairway and an incredible backdrop featuring the El Royale and Hollywood signs in the distance. 

HOLLYWOOD 💡🎥🎬 #LPGAgoesHollywood #WilshireCC

A post shared by Morgan Pressel (@mpressel) on

A fantastic Legends of Golf flashback as the event prepares to tee off later this week...

Psst: Don't Tell CBS The 2018 RBC Heritage Classic Ratings Were Up Even With Non-Streaming Tape Delay

CBSTapeDelay.jpeg

If you weren't aware by now, CBS and the PGA Tour did not see fit to live stream the RBC Heritage final round, which featured expedited tee times to beat forecasted bad weather.

The weather came, the golf was finished on time, and the telecast windows on Golf Channel and CBS featured tape-delayed golf as PGA Tour Radio listeners could enjoy a live broadcast on the tour website. Social media and PGA Tour app users knew also where the RBC Heritage stood. 

Unlike NBC, which has previously live-streamed golf and shown the tape-delay on its broadcast networks, CBS is holding out and blaming the affiliates, writes Golfweek's Dan Kilbridge:

“We have not streamed live golf outside our telecast window during weather-related tee time adjustments to protect our affiliates broadcast exclusivity,” a CBS spokesperson said. “But we are re-examining our policy.”

It ended up being a huge moment for Asian golf with 22-year-old Kim from South Korea and Japan’s Kodaira going toe-to-toe.

John Strege featured this quote from the PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour issued its own statement: “Our network partners have certain exclusive rights that the tour cannot preempt. CBS is re-examining their current policy and we will continue to work together to provide the most comprehensive coverage of our events.”

I'm not sure what the affiliates or network partners will say after the ratings came out, but given the history of CBS holding out as long as possible to modern day trends, I fear they will say the anti-streaming strategy protected the audience size. But the PGA Tour acknowledging a reconsideration suggests that Ponte Vedra Beach wasn't too thrilled with the policy, particularly in week one of life under par where cords are cut, golf is streamed and life is a party.

So don't tell this ratings news to CBS, from Josh Carpenter at Sports Business Daily:

The net drew a 2.0 overnight rating for the final round, which saw Sotashi Kodaira beat Si-Woo Kim in a three-hole playoff for his first PGA Tour win. Yesterday's rating is up 33% from a 1.5 last year, when Wesley Bryan won the event on Easter Sunday.

Instagram: Black & White Kodaira, Gal With Style, Curtis Cup Announcement And Wilshire CC's 7th Green

The PGA Tour's Ryan Young with a cool black and white of Satoshi Kodaira's celebration and also a second image that puts a different spin on the winning putt.

Sandra Gal finished up practice in San Diego in style.

Bye San Diego, I’ll miss you. 📸: mom (thanks) :)

A post shared by Sandra Gal (@thesandragal) on

The 2018 Curtis Cup team will be announced Tuesday.

The 7th green at Wilshire Country Club, Norman MacBeth design and Kyle Phillips-restored, hosting the LPGA Tour this week. Image by Mikey Curry.

"Post-Masters coverage of Patrick Reed demonstrates the value of being likable"

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 2.14.40 PM.png

Good take here from Jay Rigdon at Awful Announcing on the jabs and other criticism of Patrick Reed for wearing the green jacket wherever he goes. 

But people love Phil Mickelson! And he’s earned it, too, for the most part. So things like that slide off of him, while people go out of their way to paint Reed as a clown for wearing the green jacket to a basketball game. The lesson, as always, is that the media (social and traditional) tends to cover people they like more favorably, fair or not.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be annoyed by Patrick Reed. Wearing the green jacket everywhere shouldn’t be one of them.

Kyle Porter also touched on this and Reed's inconsistency as reasons he's not getting the same respect as recent major winners.

Something To Monitor: Northeast Weather And May PGA's

May 16th, 2019 is likely to be the first round of the PGA Championship.

A year from now we'd be just four weeks from the start of play at Bethpage Black and while this year's brutal winter is hopefully an aberration--with two more weeks of cold forecast meaning substandard growing conditions--the potential for rough conditions should be cause for agronomic concern with the northeast venues currently on the schedule. (Trump Bedminster in 2022 and Oak Hill in 2023 will be weather-dependent as well.) 

I'll check back a month from now, but here is Bethpage four weeks from the likely opening round date: 

The 2016 Form 990's Are Out: It Pays To Be A PGA Tour Executive!

Take note Ponte Vedra Beach's finest real estate and second-yacht agents, those all-cash offers could always could be just a wee-bit stronger!

From Guidestar, the PGA Tour's 2016 Form 990 that details nearly $35 million in executive pay to manage $2.5 billion in assets.  (Thanks Rex Hoggard for highlighting the release here.)

It was a nice year to be Tim Finchem...

PGATourExecutivePay1.png
PGATourExecutivePay2.png

Horschel Wants More "Great-Designed Courses" Like Harbour Town

Titleist ambassador and former FedExCup champion Billy Horschel repeatedly takes the company talking points on the distance issue, so it was no surprise to see him call on architects to do more "great-designed" work instead of changing equipment to breathe new (old) life into architecture.

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 8.58.44 PM.png

From this week's After Further Review from Rex Hoggard, which is incidentally followed by an item on how fun it is to watch Brooke Henderson drive the ball despite her small frame. 

First, in Horschel's world, he's hoping we get driver-killing "great-designed" courses so the golf ball is not restricted, ensuring on-going payments to his and other golf pro accounts:

"I think the architects in today's game should come here and understand what this course is and why it's still challenging,” Billy Horschel said. “ Too much nowadays we're playing big, wide-open courses that really aren't great designed golf courses.”

If architects could import massive overhanging trees that restrict ball flight they might, but it's kind of hard to do that these days. Nor advisable on a number of levels, most notably because there is a desire by many to see the driver remain an important weapon. And even better, to see width presented to provide options off the tee.

All of this makes the second After Further Review item by Ryan Lavner more fun. He writes about the joys of LPGA winner Brooke Henderson and the skill on display as she uses a 48-inch driver.

Or perhaps it’s because she uses a 48-inch driver, drawing every little bit of distance out of her 5-foot-4 frame. She swings freely and aggressively, aims at flags even when she’s nursing a narrow lead and rolls in enough putts to contend in all of the big events.

The 20-year-old Canadian smashes every conceivable stereotype about the LPGA – in no ways a dink-and-dunker who relies on a hot putter. There’s no one in the women’s game I’d rather watch play. 

Sadly, the folks who want to combat distance through Harbour Town-style architecture do not appreciate how the ability to use driver in separating fields has been a cornerstone of the sport for a few centuries now.

Harbour Town is swell and all once a year, but narrow plod-fests that minimize the driver are not the model for the game. Particularly when the message is driven by corporate talking points from folks who've already made millions. "Great-designed" courses are not narrow, tree-lined and light on strategic decisions.