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North Carolina Golf Still Impresses

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Pinehurst #4 (110) bw

Back and forth I have sprinted through North Carolina many a time in the last few years, only occasionally taking the time for a golf game – or several. With almost 600 golf courses I have to admit that it ranks highly among my favorite states to visit when golf is concerned.

Years back I was fortunate to play all eight golf courses at Pinehurst Resort in a single 5 day golf frenzy – it still stands as a highlight of my golfing life. I longed to return there in a better time – that stint was just days after the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and it was a somber time for all. So, along with my buddy Jeff, we vowed to make a return to the venerable resort someday and in Mid-October this year we did just that.

To round out the trip (it will be the subject of a major travel feature that will appear next year in Flagstick Golf Magazine) we added in a few other destinations. The final itinerary found us playing nine courses in total with just one day that we would play twice – leaving lots of flexibility to check out other attractions, golf shops, and even a NASCAR race. For golf junkies it was a classic road trip.

I’ll say the weather was less than perfect although my true choice of words at the time would basically be unprintable. Early tee times resulted in near freezing temperatures by the time we teed off most days. Thankfully a warming trend on the last couple days left a much better impression although only be able to comfortably wear shorts for just nine holes was a bit of a letdown. I take solace in knowing that is unusual weather for them at this time of year.

To give you a framework for what we took on here is a list of the layouts we managed to play on the journey, in order: Pinehurst #1, Pinehurst #4, Pinehurst #8, Pinehurst #2, Little River, Anderson Creek, Lonnie Poole at NC State, UNC (University of North Carolina)- Finley, and The Preserve at Lake Jordan.

Lonnie Poole was the youngest of the courses (it opened just this past June) proved to be the weakest for us – mostly due to early condition and anomaly holes like a 550 yard, uphill PAR 4! But in time this near 7400-yard beast should improve as far as condition and playability as adjustments are made.

For the topper, well, how can you argue with Pinehurst among our selection? My second look at #8 left me even more impressed and this picturesque Tom Fazio layout pushed its way up on my favored Pinehurst list. #2 is still the grand pappy, the enigma you just try and figure out each time you play. Not the most aesthetically pleasing of the courses at the Pinehurst complex, nevertheless you can’t help but be drawn into its grasp. There are few better second shot courses on the planet. Bang it all you want off the tee but strategy for the last half of each hole is a priority unless you have a Houdini-like short game.

I am want for the space and time to lay out opinions of each and every course; that I will save for the Spring Feature but let’s just say there was nothing you could complain about as far as golf was concerned.

Spanning the Sandhills, Fayetteville, and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill regions like this proved once again why North Carolina is a leading golf state.

And the deals? Just too much. When John Meroski, CEO of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he could put us on a course like the Davis Love III designed Anderson Creek with a room for less than a $100 a night I just couldn’t do much more than chuckle. At about $45 for a green fee this time of year with a cart the course would be equivalent to a $100 plus offering in many towns across North America.

So eight years after we made that last Pinehurst journey, by the time we arrived home we felt we had experienced the trip we had hoped for. In one 36 hour stretch we managed to play Pinehurst #8 then attend the NASCAR Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s near Charlotte, followed by an early morning tee time on Pinehurst #2.

I mean, really, if we hadn’t been impressed by those happenings alone it might just be time to give up the game.

So if you haven’t been to North Carolina for golf then I suggest it might be about time you made the trek. I can tell you from my own experiences that it will never leave you disappointed. And surely it will leave you with something to talk about for a long time to come – just as it continues to do for us.

To check some images from our trip you can view them here.

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USGA, R&A to roll out new World Handicap System in 2020

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A new handicap system is here, or rather, it will be once the USGA and R&A begin to fully implement the World Handicap System in 2020.

The new system focuses on achieving three main objectives: 1) encouraging as many golfers as possible to maintain a handicap, 2) enabling golfers of different abilities, genders, and nationalities to compete fairly, and 3) determining the score a golfer is reasonably capable of shooting at any particular course anywhere in the world.

Currently there are six handicapping systems worldwide, owing to the existence of six handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.

Under the new program, the USGA and R&A will oversee the World Handicap System and the governing bodies will be in charge of local administration.

The USGA presents the WHS as a better system that simplifies the existing structures. Not surprisingly, the organization believes the WHS will compel more golfers to maintain a handicap.

“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

Davis sees the new system marching arm-in-arm with the revisions to (and simplification of) the Rules of Golf.

“We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.”

Key features of the WHS include:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”
  • A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

The USGA and R&A conducted quantitative research in 15 countries around the world. 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed.

The research also helped model the tenets of the WHS, but, as mentioned, don’t tear up your GHIN cards just yet: We’ve only just begun the two-year transition period prior to the implementation.

To provide feedback to the USGA on the new World Handicap System, golfers can email the USGA at whsfeedback@usga.org, or see usga.org/whs for more info.

Additionally, the USGA created this FAQ.

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Tuesday’s Photos from the 2018 Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

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The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

Last year, Fowler won by four shots over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland, despite playing his final round in 1-over par.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Tuesday’s Photos

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

Last year, Fowler won by four shots over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland, despite playing his final round in 1-over par.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Monday’s Photos

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

Your Reaction?
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