Weekend Wrap

TPC Four Seasons 18th Green

PGA TOUR
RBC Heritage
Dates: April 16-19
Venue: Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

This week on the PGA Tour the biggest story was not the eventual tournament champion. No sir. The new Masters Champion Jordan Spieth was in the field following a whirlwind several days including tours to New York City and appearances on several television shows like David Letterman.

It was no wonder after such a crazy week that Spieth was not able to play well or focus on Thursday, blowing up with a round of 74 and looking like missing the cut was a possibility. The 74 apparently woke Spieth and his pride up, as he scorched the course on Friday with a second round 62. In the end after nearly missing the cut, Spieth ended up in contention but falling short of a two-man playoff between Kevin Kisner and Jim Furyk.

Furyk made birdie on the par-3 17th, the 2nd playoff hole to record a welcome victory. After the win Furyk mentioned he’d forgotten how good it feels to win.

LPGA TOUR
LOTTE Championship
Dates: April 15-18
Venue: Ko Olina Golf Club, Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii

The finish in the LOTTE Championship could go down as the most amazing finish of 2015, sight unseen for the rest of the LPGA Tour season.

It looked like Inbee Park had the victory in the bag when contender Sei Young Kim’s ball found the water on her final hole. But it is never over until it is over.

Kim miraculously chipped-in for par, forcing a playoff with Park. Then it got even crazier.

On the first playoff hole, Kim hit an 8-iron from 154 yards for her approach. The ball flew in the hole for eagle, ending the playoff in two strokes.

CHAMPIONS TOUR
Greater Gwinnett Championship
Dates: April 17-19
Venue: TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga.

At the end of the 2nd round Saturday at the Greater Gwinnett Championship no competitors realized they’d played their last shots of the tournament.

Heavy rains cut the tournament short, cancelling the final round. The shortened event trophy went to 2nd round leader Olin Browne, his first Champions Tour win in four years.

EUROPEAN TOUR
Shenzhen International
Dates: April 16-19
Venue: Genzon Golf Club (A Course), Shenzhen, China

The inaugural Shenzen International tournament kicked off with some great excitement. At the end of regulation Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Chinese teenager Li Hao-Tong were tied.

Aphibarnrat made the home crowd a little irritated, knocking the local boy out in the playoff.

Video of the Week

At the LPGA LOTTE Championship a fan lost his hat in the a water hazard.  Apparently he really liked the hat as he went in after it.  The Golf Channel announcers had fun doing play-by-play of the hazard hat retrieval.

Things got even more entertaining when the hat-losing spectator’s beer fell out of his pocket into the hazard. That’s a bad day for sure. Shortly after that, the fan was greeted by tour officials.

No word on whether or not the fan incurred a penalty stroke.

Posted in Fun |

Weekend Preview

Jordan_SpiethPGA TOUR
RBC Heritage
Dates: April 16-19
Venue: Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Friday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)

Typically players who won major championships take the following week or weeks off to rest their bodies and their minds. In uncommon fashion, newly green jacketed Jordan Spieth is not taking the week off following a major victory. Instead Spieth is paying back the RBC Heritage tournament for being good to him early in his career.

Nice gesture.

Naturally the 2015 Masters champion Spieth will be the favorite to win, having just won the Masters and moved up to number two in the world rankings behind Rory McIlory.

RBC Heritage’s 2014 champion Matt Kuchar is in the field. Kuchar narrowly defeated Luke Donald by one stroke at the 2014 event.

Other notables in the field: Patrick Reed, Jim Furyk, Billy Horschel, Ernie Els, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, and Ian Poulter.

LPGA TOUR
LOTTE Championship
Dates: April 15-18
Venue: Ko Olina Golf Club, Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday 7-11 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Thursday 7-11 p.m. (Live) / 2 a.m.-6 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday 7-11 p.m. (Live) / 4:30-6 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday 7-11 p.m. (Live)

The LPGA Tour tees it up in paradise in Oahu, Hawaii at the LOTTE Championship. This event’s schedule is slightly different than a typical LPGA Tour event, airing from Wednesday to Saturday this week.

Michelle Wie is the defending champion, having outlasted Angela Stanford by two shots in the 2014 event. The 2014 LOTTE Championship was Wie’s 3rd LPGA Tour win.

Headlining the field: Inbee Park, Michelle Wie, So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, Brittany Lincicome, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Cheyenne Woods.

CHAMPIONS TOUR
Greater Gwinnett Championship
Dates: April 17-19
Venue: TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-6 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-3 a.m. (Monday replay)

The over-50 tour is in Duluth, Georgia at the Greater Gwinnet Championship. One of golf’s most interesting personalities is teeing it up this week, Miguel Angel Jimenez. Jimenez is the returning champion, having held off Bernhard Langer. Jimenez’s two shot victory last year was the first of his Champions Tour career.

Headlining the field: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Jesper Parnevik, Mark O’Meara, Corey Pavin, Peter Jacobsen, Jay Haas, Lee Janzen and Andy North.

EUROPEAN TOUR
Shenzhen International
Dates: April 16-19
Venue: Genzon Golf Club (A Course), Shenzhen, China

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Friday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Saturday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)

This week’s European Tour event features big hitting Bubba Watson. Watson was not able to successfully defend his 2014 Masters title last week, but is always good for some amazing shots and super-long drives.

This week is the inauguration of the Shenzhen International event.

Headlining the field: Bubba Watson, Peter Uihlein, Alexander Levy, Ross Fisher, Tommy Fleetwood, Peter Hanson, Matteo Manassero, Alex Noren, Gary Stal and Andy Sullivan.

Founder Post 04

jeremiahSpecial product offer at the end of Jeremiah’s message.

Will Jordan Spieth be golf’s savior? On the whole, I would say Jordan Spieth is a great addition to the PGA Tour and he surely looks to be a legitimate competitor for many years to come with his multiple record breaking first Master’s win this past weekend. I look forward to Jordan being part of many future dramatic tour finishes!

With that said, I think the game of golf will continue in some form of decline until the industry figures out a way to provide today’s youth more immediate gratification within the game. I’m not saying immediate gratification is a good thing or that working hard for something isn’t worthwhile, I’m simply looking at the reality of the situation and what youth are gravitating toward.

The barriers to entry into the game of golf are pretty steep and the golf swing is all but natural. Most new players will need multiple expensive lessons (unless you’re Bubba), lots of time to devote to practice and even more time to play, and golf rounds aren’t necessarily inexpensive either.

What if there was a variation to the game that could make it easier to learn, less expensive and quicker to play? I think today’s youth would be more likely to stay with it longer and also possibly get into the more traditional game over time as well. Also, how do we get families out on the course instead of just Father’s?

I’m quite a traditionalist when it comes to the game of golf but the industry could benefit from finding a way to attract more players. It’s obvious that current bait being used just isn’t working like it used to.
What do you think? Is the game of golf in decline in your opinion? Thanks to Tiger’s TV draw, viewership was up 26% on Sunday’s final round of the Masters over last year when he did not play, but will golf rounds played rebound too?

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Tuesday Tip: Look at Hole on Short Putts

Jordan SpiethThe Masters finished this past weekend and the golf world is abuzz about the fantastic performance by 21-year-old Jordan Spieth.  His four rounds combined in many ways to produce all sorts of scoring and birdie records.  One of the reasons for Spieth’s great performance and subsequent securing of the coveted green jacket was his amazing putting.  Spieth was dropping putts from all sorts of difficult places, making it look quite easy, though most know that putting at Augusta National in the Masters is anything but.

Look at Hole

Did you happen to notice that on shorter putts Spieth is actually looking at the hole when he strikes the ball?  Yes isn’t that oddly interesting.   When he is in a range close enough to see the hole and his golf ball at the same time, Spieth looks at the hole at impact.  He first reads the putt, looks down at the ball, the hole, the ball, then when he looks at the hole again he strikes the putt.

This is a very interesting way of putting, and could provide an outlet for those of you (like me) who struggle with short putts of perhaps eight feet and under.  Looking at the hole during the stroke could give the player a better idea of the amount of strength needed for that particular distance.  It could be a way of helping the player keep the putter on the proper target line.

Flip Side

On the flip side there are some potential drawbacks to this concept.  If the player is not able to keep his/her body still there’s a high probability that the contact between the ball and putter will not only be off-center, it could be quite far off-line.

Conclusion

If you struggle with your short putts, try looking at the hole when you’re sure your setup is correct.  It might be a game changer!

Masters Wrap

Jordan SpiethMasters Tournament
Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta Georgia

What a Masters tournament it was, yet again.  Year after year the Masters is always exciting and this year’s certainly was.  The fact that the tournament is held in the same, amazing place every year certainly is a big factor.  Fans are very familiar with the holes, like 11-12-13 a.k.a. Amen Corner.  The venue, Augusta National Golf Club is designed so well that it produces opportunities for great shots and low scores, but does penalize poor shots or bad strategy.

From the first round the biggest story of the 2015 Masters was the play of 21-year-old Jordan Spieth.  Spieth’s first round was close to an all-time major championship and Masters record.  Standing on the easy par-5 15th tee Spieth was sitting at -8.   A birdie on the easy par-5 and pars the rest of the way would mean Spieth would tie the record lowest score in a major at 63.  The 2nd shot was a miss-club though, and he went over the green and eventually made bogey.  A final birdie on the 18th hole put Spieth back at -8, 64 and three shots ahead of the nearest competitors.

Other great rounds on Thursday included 67’s by Charlie Hoffman, Justin Rose, Jason Day, and Ernie Els.

Tiger Woods was shaking off the rust and had a decent showing with a first round 73.

Jordan Spieth continued the great play in round two with a brilliant round of 66.  The 64-66 scores marked a Masters record for lowest score after 36 holes.  Woods improved in round two with a round of 69, bringing him to red numbers (under par) for the tournament.

Several notable players missed the cut at the end of play Friday including Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Billy Horschel, J.B. Holmes, Brand Snedeker, Jim Furyk, and Gary Woodland.

The biggest story of Friday however, was the final Masters round ever for Ben Crenshaw, his 44th appearance.

Saturday’s “moving day” round was very interesting and thrilling.  Woods surged, Spieth struggled at the end of the round, and players like Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose vaulted up the leader board with rounds of 67.

Spieth made a tough double bogey on the 17th which brought the field some hope.  A solid up-and-down for par would seal a four shot lead going into Sunday.  But the couple of missed shots Spieth hit on Saturday, showing nerves, made Sunday’s round more intriguing.

At the end of play Sunday, Spieth had four shots on 2nd place player Justin Rose, and five shots over Phil Mickelson.  McIrlory and Woods finished the 3rd round at -6, some eight shots behind.  Those two were paired together on Sunday.

In the final round Spieth started great, with a solid birdie on the first, but Rose matched and added another on the 2nd to climb within three shots.  That was as close as anyone would come.  There were not Sunday charges from any of the players who had a chance, like Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, or Charley Hoffman.  The only real charge was by Rory McIlroy who fired a Sunday low round of 66.  But McIlory and Woods were both too far behind to be factors.

In the end Spieth was solid.  No weaknesses and not much of a possibility of giving the field a chance.  Spieth tied or broke several major championship and Masters scoring records, including tying Tiger Woods’s 1997 score of -18.  Had he not missed a meaningless 10 foot par putt on the 18th, that record would be Spieth’s alone.  But that putt didn’t matter.  The 21-year-old led the tournament wire-to-wire and won in stylish, classy fashion.

With the win Spieth will move up to #2 in the world rankings, behind Rory McIlory.  The future of golf is bright with these two new rivals leading the way into golf’s next generation.

Masters Featured Groups & Online Coverage

If you haven’t yet, you should check out the Masters.com online coverage of the Masters Tournament. It is completely amazing.  There are high quality video streams of many of the coolest parts of the course and featured groups.

Amen Corner

One stream to watch is Amen Corner.  There’s a dedicated camera crew and announcers for the most famous 3-hole stretch in golf.  That would be holes 11-13 or also known as Amen Corner.  Some of the most exciting golf in the tournament happens on these holes and it can be fun to watch the groups come through.

Hole 11 is the tough 505 yard par-4 where the downhill approach can be eaten up by the water left of the green.  Hole 12 is the famous short par-3 which gives the players fits.  Hole 13 is the reachable par-5 where eagle is a possibility.

Practice Range

For those Tiger Woods fans, or fans of other tour players, who are so into their player that they’ll even watch them hit range balls, the practice range is for you.

Holes 15-16

Hole 15 is the easiest hoe on the course.  This par-5 is usually a source of excitement, where birdies and even eagles can change the complexion of the tournament.

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Hole 16 (above) is the beautiful par-3 with water left.  The green is severely sloped right to left.  This is the location of the famous Tiger Woods chip-in in 2005.

Featured Groups

There are two video streams of featured groups.  Each stream covers the round of the featured group practically the entire round.  One of yesterday’s groups included Tiger Woods, so his fans could watch him, even before the TV broadcast came on.

Other Features

There are other features as well, like wrap-ups and video stories of the day’s action.

Masters TV and Online Coverage Including Par-3 Contest

If you missed it, check out the Frogger Masters Preview we posted a few days ago.

As you settle in this week for the Masters you can refer to the information below to know when, where, how to view various Masters coverage locations and times.

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Online Coverage

AMEN CORNER: 10:45AM – 6:00PMEDT
MASTERS – ON THE RANGE: 11:05AM – 1:00PMEDT
HOLES. 15 AND 16: 11:45AM – 7:00PMEDT
FEATURED GROUP 11: 2:00PM – 7:30PMEDT
FEATURED GROUP 21: 2:00PM – 7:30PMEDT
MASTERS IN-DEPTH: 3:00PM – 7:30PMEDT

mp3

Par 3 Contest

Wednesday Par-3 Contest on ESPN

Live TV coverage of the Par 3 Contest from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT on Wed, April 8, 2015.  Tiger Woods will be playing in the event.

ESPN Tournament Coverage

Live TV coverage of Tournament play from 3:00 PM to 7:30 PM EDT on Thurs, April 9 & Fri, April 10, 2015.

CBS Coverage

Live TV coverage of Tournament play from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT on Sat, April 11 and from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM Sun, April 12, 2015.

CBS Sports Network

Live TV coverage of the Masters driving range show, Masters on the Range, starting Mon, April 6 at 12:00 PM and continuing through Tournament week.

Tuesday Tip: Handling Tiered Greens

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 9.40.02 AMThis week keep a close eye on the short games of the contestants in the Masters Tournament.  See if they use the same concepts in today’s Tuesday tip, handling tiered greens.

The greens at Augusta National are very fast and difficult.  It is very important to position the ball in the proper location to have a chance at par or birdie.  Balls which finish above the hole introduce a high possibility of 3-putting, and chips which miss the green will be very tricky.  Today we are covering those chips and pitches.

Many of the greens at Augusta are severely sloped, and may have tiers in them.  Tiers equate to different levels.  It can be difficult to chip to a green with multiple levels because the flight of the ball and the tier location can make a big difference in whether the shot gets close or runs far away from the hole.

Most amateurs will attempt to hit high, lob-type shots to tiered greens.  This is the completely wrong way of approaching these shots.  The best shots are ones which bump into the tier or slopes, and run, but the situation will dictate the type of shot.

In the case of a back pin on top of a tier, it is best to hit a low running shot which climbs the tier.  The tier will slow it down and the ball will hopefully stop near the hole.  Attempting a high shot in this scenario will most often result in the ball hitting the slope and coming back.  If the ball carries past the slope it will bounce too hard and go long.

In the case where the pin is in the back on the bottom tier, a running shot which nearly stops is best.  The ball will come close to stopping at the crest of the tier, then creep over, picking up speed to the pin.  Once again a high shot is not a good idea here either.  If the shot lands on the slope it will bounce too far and go over the green.  If it lands too short, it may not run to the tier before stopping, leaving a very difficult putt.

Watch the Masters this week and see how the players handle these situations, then try to implement the same strategies in your practice and subsequent golf rounds!

Weekend Wrap

LPGA TOUR
ANA Inspiration
Dates: April 2-5
Venue: Mission Hills Country Club (Dinah Shore Tournament Course), Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Last week in the weekend preview we mentioned the historic implications involved with Lydia Ko, the 17-year-old phenom.  She had the chance to tie and/or break Annika Sorenstam’s consecutive rounds under par record, which was 29.

Ko’s first round was under par, and gave her a tie.  But amazingly, she was not able to break par for the 2nd round.  She ends up tying Sorenstam and will have to start up again.  No doubt she has the talent to break the record, but time will tell.

At the end of regulation, two players were tied for the lead in the LPGA’s first major of 2015:  Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis.  What ensued in the playoff was fantastic.  Both players made par on the par-5 18th so they headed back to play it again.  Once again, pars.   On the 3rd playoff hole Lincicome once again made a par-5 but this time Lewis carded a bogey.

Hard to fathom that two LPGA professionals could play the par-5 18th three times and neither would card a birdie.

J.B. HolmesPGA TOUR
Shell Houston Open
Dates: April 2-5
Venue: Golf Club of Houston (Tournament Course), Humble, Texas

How important is driving accuracy on the PGA Tour?

Not very, apparently.

Big-hitting B.J. Holmes claimed victory at the Shell Houston Open after defeating Texan Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner in a playoff.

Holmes carded a final round 64 which included a front nine 29.  That 29 started off with five consecutive birdies.

Why mention the importance of driving accuracy?  Holmes is dead last on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy.

Spieth’s second place finish the week before the Masters makes him an even more favorite to win.  His odds are the only single digit odds to win the Masters other than Rory McIlory.