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USGA, R&A release “modernized” Rules of Golf

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The USGA and R&A announced today the modernized Rules of Golf that will go into effect at the beginning of January, 2019, ending a six-year process of discussion (and year-long period of review).

As part of the most sweeping reform to the Rules in decades, the overall number of rules will be reduced from 34 to 24, and simpler language abounds throughout. Indeed, this represents the most comprehensive change to the Rules since the guidelines’ initial publication in 1744. Additionally, “The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf” replaces the nearly 1,300 examples in the Decisions text.

The more than 30,000 pieces of feedback the governing bodies received during the review period have led to some key changes to the proposed Rules of Golf presented last summer.

Per the USGA:

Dropping procedure: When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested dropping from any height).

Measuring in taking relief: The golfer’s relief area will be measured by using the longest club in his/her bag (other than a putter) to measure one club-length or two club-lengths, depending on the situation, providing a consistent process for golfers to establish his/her relief area. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested a 20-inch or 80-inch standard measurement).

Removing the penalty for a double hit: The penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball more than once in the course of a stroke has been removed. Golfers will simply count the one stroke they made to strike the ball. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 retained the existing one-stroke penalty).

Balls Lost or Out of Bounds: Alternative to Stroke and Distance: A new Local Rule will now be available in January 2019, permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty. It addresses concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance. The Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite level competitions. (Key change: this is a new addition to support pace of play)

Surely, bifurcation advocates will be intrigued by the language of the Balls Lost or Out of Bounds Local Rule.

“This addresses the issue you hear at the club level about the practical nature of going back and playing under stroke and distance just doesn’t work. It has a negative impact on pace of play, and so how can we introduce something to resolve that. That’s what this local rule is about,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director of Rules & Amateur Status. “You simply estimate where it’s out of bounds or where you ball is likely to be lost, you can go all the way out to the fairway and drop anywhere behind. … But the primary objective here is to keep the player moving forward, and we think that’s the real benefit of this.”

Additionally contained in the modernized Rules: Caddies can no longer line up their players. Penalties for accidentally moving a ball on the green or while searching for a lost ball have been eliminated. The time limit for searching for a lost ball has been reduced from five minutes to three. Players are now permitted to repair shoe prints and spike marks on the putting green; they may also remove loose impediments in a bunker and touch the sand with hand of club, provided they don’t ground the club.

David Rickman, the executive director of governance at the R&A, said:

“We believe that the new Rules are more in tune with what golfers would like and are easier to understand and apply for everyone who enjoys playing this great game.”

The tours are expected to provide training and seminars to familiarize players before the Rules go into effect next year with similar efforts at the amateur level as well.

The modern rules are available at www.usga.org/rules or at www.RandA.org .

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45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. RG

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    I was really hoping they were going to declare divots as ground under repair, especially in the fairway.

  2. David

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Why bother with a drop. Just place the ball. The drop is stupid. Why should one person be penalized if they get a bad lie after a drop vs someone who gets a good lie.

    • Dcweather

      Mar 15, 2018 at 9:21 am

      Because that same rub of the green would have applied to where the original shot landed. If you applied your logic you should be always allowed to place your ball!

  3. Daniel

    Mar 12, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    Why would anyone want to putt with the pin in. Balls that would normally lip in will hit the flag and probably bounce out. Plus if you are a social person the group will generally get to the green at the same time so how is it really saving time, a few seconds tops. Dont like the oob either. If i hit it oob 50m ahead with a bad shot its 1 shot penalty and go back. If i smoke it 240 oob i can take a 2 shot penalty remove any risk of doing it again, and guarantee perfect position in middle of fairway.. otherwise the rest of the rules are smart, except for the missing relief from divot rule that we will never see in golf.

    • Ron

      Mar 13, 2018 at 11:46 am

      For the avg golfers, allowing to putt with the pin in will be nice to go tap in the 1 footers before pulling the pin out for everyone else, without having to hear the obligatory “penalty for putting with the pin in”. It will also be nice for the 50 footer so someone doesn’t HAVE to go tend the pin. For the pros, not much of anything is going to change, as they will always want the pin out. Except maybe if they are chipping from the green, like Reed had to do this past weekend. I don’t think we will ever see anyone, pro or not, have the pin put back in for a normal 10 foot putt. So I think this rule change is pretty good.

    • Dcweather

      Mar 15, 2018 at 9:26 am

      So can I really estimate where it went into the unplayable and then walk out, step back a yard and choose the best angle from the fairway to the pin? Great, I will now be on a level playing field with my cheating partners!

  4. Big Wally

    Mar 12, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    So the stroke and distance rule is a two stroke penalty now? Hit one, 2 and 3 are penalty strokes and you’re hitting 4? Do you have the option of reteeing and hitting 3? If it is as a bad snap hook and goes out at 80 yards it may be advantageous to retee. Can you hit a provisional?

    • Devilsadvocate

      Mar 12, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      You can always take stoke and distance, even if your first ball is A-ok in the fairway

    • Frank Gifford

      Mar 13, 2018 at 7:35 am

      No, it would be: drop 2, hit 3. Or, you could drop ball at entry, play as second shot. Finish out the hole then add 2. Either way works.

      • GMC

        Mar 13, 2018 at 12:59 pm

        Um, no. It would be drop 2/3, hit 4th.

        • Frank Gifford

          Mar 14, 2018 at 7:21 am

          My mistake. I interpreted it to be a lateral hazard drop type penalty.

  5. John

    Mar 12, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Never mentioned in any article on the New Rules is the one about leaving the flag stick in the hole ( no penalty for hitting the stick from a stroke on the green.). One of our late afternoon groups has used this concept for years in a “speed golf” back nine to beat the sunset. Saves a lot of time. Especially if you speed up even more by taking one putt and if you miss pick up, count two and GO.

  6. Tom54

    Mar 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    As far as leaving flagstick in while putting I cannot see even why this was changed. Maybe if you and your partners are all 45 ft away and wait till first one up leaves it in till he gets up near hole then removes it for the rest of group, sounds ok to me. But has anyone tested whether shorter puts with stick in helps the ball stay in the hole better than no stick at all. I usually never like to firm short putts but may feel like I can slap em against the flagstick and not fear dying them in like normal. Still a dumb rule I believe

    • Hoganben

      Mar 12, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Your buddies are not going to hit the holes from outside two feet anyway… ps…didn’t Peltz say that on chips anyway the flag usually repells the ball?

    • Ron

      Mar 13, 2018 at 11:51 am

      I think you are missing the point on WHY this rule was changed. I don’t think it was changed to be more advantageous for someone trying to hit a 5 foot putt. Obviously everyone would want the pin removed. It will speed up play for us average golfers not having to have someone tend a 75 footer that you aren’t going to hit anywhere near the hole anyway. Or tapping in a 5 incher..

  7. Andrew

    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Is this a joke? Is this trust fund snowflake golf now?

    • Boyo

      Mar 12, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      No it’s drumpf golf. Oh, wait, this doesn’t include cheating…

      • George

        Mar 12, 2018 at 3:24 pm

        Pipe down you loser liberal

        • Don

          Mar 13, 2018 at 10:31 am

          Yeah, what George said. Hope he didn’t trigger you into your safe space.

      • ken young

        Mar 12, 2018 at 4:39 pm

        I think these changes are necessary to speed play.
        There are rules which make no sense. Many of these rules were in place to prevent players from doing things that would result in an advantage.
        Such as:…Accidentally moving ball. if one is removing loose impediments. The ball moves a quarter inch. It should be procedure to mark the ball. Remove the offending items, replace the ball, same lie as before and play on.
        If on the green, lets say I move my marker and accidentally cause the ball to move. I should just be able to replace the ball and play on.
        The rules when playing in a hazard are complicated and silly. As long as a player is not moving or affecting the condition of the hazard while making a stroke, all is well.
        For example, if in my backswing I touch a plant that is connected to the hazard, there should be no penalty. I’m not attempting to do anything to gain an advantage. Same applies for “loose” things in a hazard. If in a backswing, the club contacts a stick laying on the ground, no penalty.
        Through the green. Under the current rules, if a player in his normal swing strikes a tree with his club and a leaf falls to the ground, i am penalized. That needs to go away.
        Out of Bounds. Should be treated as a lateral hazard. Stroke and distance is slowing down play. There is STILL a penalty. One just does not need to go back to the spot of the previous shot.

        Just replace the thing and move on. TThe

        • Ron

          Mar 12, 2018 at 4:47 pm

          I agree. USGA really needed to look at what is actually affecting the outcome of shots and create the rules accordingly. Here’s one I could never understand. If the ball moves during your backswing and you stop, you can replace it without penalty, but if the ball moves during your downswing (say from wing) and you physically can’t stop and you take your stroke, you’re penalized.

          By the way, one thing that’s not correct in your comment, there is currently no penalty for striking a tree and a leaf falling “during your swing”. Only if you do it on a practice swing. Then there’s a penalty for improving your lie.

      • RG

        Mar 12, 2018 at 7:51 pm

        The President in Cheat.

  8. Bob

    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    I still say a ball in the fairway shouldn’t be penalized by being in a former divot. The divot is man made and you should get relief from that. Just saying>

    • Jason

      Mar 12, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      My buddies and I all play this rule. Especially in courses with poor agro. You bomb a drive down the pipe to a divot some idiot left and the course doesnt have the funds to fix correctly you shouldn’t be penalized.

    • Brad

      Mar 12, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      Rub of the grain, sorry that’s just the way it is sometimes. Life lessons….teaches resiliency.

      Some of the most memorable shots I’ve ever hit have been out of divots in the middle of the fairway.

      • Hoganben

        Mar 12, 2018 at 5:40 pm

        Kick your ball into the bunker to make it more of a challenge then…lol To me these changes are coming to effect because the old geezers who took 5 hours to play are finally too old to golf. You know the groups of old geezers who play at a turtle pace, but always hustle to the next tee so you can’t play through. Ps…my new rule would be that in a foursome of two couples the ladies would have to tee off first…easy to do because they are almost always in a cart so they can move out of the way after teeing off. The way it is now there macho husbands who think they are Dustin Johnson wait until the foursome ahead is 450 yards up the fairway to off. Then their wives go up to their tee and take 20 minutes to tee off (“How is your daughter doing?”) and hit the ball 75 yards on a good day.

        • Devilsadvocate

          Mar 12, 2018 at 7:31 pm

          Further tee boxes tee off first because they arrive at the tee first and so they don’t hit their playing partners while they stand on the tee… sorry but that’s just nonsensical … Like the part about those idiots hustling to the next tee box tho.. very tru and so damn annoying

    • ken young

      Mar 12, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      I agree. Unfilled divots should be deemed “abnormal ground condition”. Use the “nearest point of relief” procedure and move on.
      The emphasis on UNFILLED divots. Also, NO relief should be permitted if the ball lies in any area except “closely mown” In the rough or other area off the fairway, then play the ball as it lies.

  9. Ron

    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Overall great changes for golf. I’m a little skeptical on the revision to OB/Lost ball in being able to place a ball in the middle of the fairway with a 2 stroke penalty. So this just assumes you take a stroke/distance penalty and your re-teed shot was dead down the middle. Seems odd. Personally I think they should get rid of stroke and distance and replace it all with a one stroke penalty and drop at point of entry (or estimated area of lost ball). Stroke and distance is too penalizing. You can drown a ball in a lake and take a 1 shot penalty, but god forbid it crosses a white line into someone’s backyard, and that’s more penalizing…

    • GMC

      Mar 13, 2018 at 1:22 pm

      Once again, I agree with you Ron. I’ve been telling my buddies this exact idea for years. Make OB a lateral hazard with the caveat that you must drop it on the hole side of the marked area (basically, eliminate the other drop options for lateral hazard, as well as the option to play from within). Make the stakes red and white like a candy cane if you need to. This way, you never need to ever hit a provisional. Just go to where it went in, add one shot, take two clubs no closer to the hole, take a drop, and play on. Same procedure we now use for a red stake lateral when taking the option to drop on the “hole” or “near” side of the lateral hazard.

      You could almost take this one step further by eliminating the option to go back to the tee if it’s a better chance than dropping. This is rare, but sometimes is the case. If you eliminate this option, the time to go all the back is now eliminated. Something to consider.

  10. JasonHolmes

    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    I hate everything the USGA has done in the last 5 years or so. But I find myself agreeing with most of these. Keep people moving. Most people that hit it OB will just drop a ball anyway instead of going back to the tee, so this lets them do that and keeps the pace up.

    And I’m more than fine with fixing spike marks. If you’ve ever played late in the day on a muni you know how dragged up the green can get. And if you say “too bad, its rub of the green” – well, no, I can fix all the ball marks I want. So its good to finally make the rule consistent.

  11. Brad

    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Putting green repair and leaving the flagstick in while putting….epic fails.

    • Axel

      Mar 12, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      How are these “epic” fails?

      • Eric

        Mar 12, 2018 at 2:03 pm

        I love these melodramatic comments they’re freaking hilarious…every.single.time

    • Jon

      Mar 12, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      Epic fails! Haha when did you start golfing? A year ago? Try again. You won’t find any golfers having a problem with those rule changes

    • Acemandrake

      Mar 12, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      “leaving the flagstick in while putting”…I’m also concerned about this.

      Does this mean it’s players’ choice? If so, then it will take time to remove/put back the pin based on choice (4 choices per foursome ????).

      • Bob Jones

        Mar 12, 2018 at 2:43 pm

        It won’t take any more time at all if the person holding the flagstick stands nearby the hole and asks each player if it should be in or out.

        • Brad

          Mar 12, 2018 at 4:12 pm

          Care to volunteer for that position instead of reading your putt or focusing on your shot? That’s what I thought…..

        • Acemandrake

          Mar 12, 2018 at 4:22 pm

          I may just be imagining worst case scenarios but the pin in/out decision for every putt based on player preference could add time rather than save it.

          In practical application, I can see where it may help as everyone can play without concern for the pin.

  12. John A

    Mar 12, 2018 at 11:58 am

    The last sentence of your article states that you may move loose impediments in a bunker and may also touch the sand with “hand of club” as long as you do not ground the club. Should that be “hand OR club”? And can you describe a situation where you would touch the sand with a club without grounding it? I was a little confused by the wording.

    • Ron

      Mar 12, 2018 at 12:15 pm

      I don’t think the article is correct on this. Just read http://www.usga.org/content/dam/usga/images/rules/rules-modernization/golf-new-rules/Rules%20of%20Golf%20for%202019.pdf. Section 12.2,b,(1). It’s clear you still cannot deliberately touch the sand with your hand or club.

    • GMC

      Mar 13, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Yeah, this one I’m not so sure about either. To me, giving the option to remove loose impediments from a hazard is absolutely not going to help pace of play. And it’s debatable as to whether or not this one will “simplify” the rules. IMO, when in a hazard, don’t touch anything. Simple. That’s a rule that is fine as is. That said, I don’t agree that Brian Davis deserved a penalty at Harbor Town in 2010 as well as Anna Nordqvist in the 2016 US Open. If you brush something without “grounding” (and especially without knowing, as neither knew until watching HD video zoomed in to “ant view”), then it shouldn’t be a penalty IMO. Could be a tough one to police, if I go my way with this rule. But I think common sense would prevail…hopefully.

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GolfWRX takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Callaway ball plant

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In Chicopee, Massachusetts, there is an unassuming red brick building that predates the existence of every modern golf OEM. From the outside, it could be confused for any other American manufacturing facility if not for the proudly displayed Callaway sign. Inside, there are over 400 hard-working people producing the highest quality golf balls using state-of-the art manufacturing techniques and tools — this red brick building is the Callaway golf ball plant.

To understand what you see when you first enter the ball plant, it’s best to first understand why it is here in the first place. When I initially asked this question to one of my tour guides, Vincent Simonds, the Senior Director of Global Golf Ball Operations, his answer started with a story that predated cars…it was at this point I knew that these guys mean business.

The modern history, however, starts in 2003 when Callaway purchased Top-Flite brand and subsidiaries, and with it purchased the entire Top-Flite manufacturing facility. In its it heyday, Top-Flite/Spaulding was producing its full line of clubs and balls out of this building, and that included equipment made for Bobby Jones. Chicopee, Massachusetts, was essentially the center of the golf club technology universe.

Part of the original Spaulding golf club factory

Letter from Bobby Jones discussing the advantage of the newly designed ball

Page 2 of the Letter from Bobby Jones

When its comes to balls, most modern golfers don’t equate Top-Flite with premium equipment or breakthroughs, but during this time period the ball plant in Chicopee was responsible for just as many technology and scientific breakthroughs as its modern Callaway self.

One Example is Bob Molitor. In 1972, Molitor developed the first two-piece golf ball with a Surlyn cover by combining the right amounts of various ionomers. This allowed golf balls to have much greater durability and along with it improved distance. This development is part of the reason the USGA had to establish the “One Ball Rule” because players would switch out depending on the hole since there was a huge distance advantage to this Solid Core Surlyn Cover design. Imagine that – the USGA having to change rules to accommodate a new technology, seems to me our current daily discussions about bifurcation aren’t something so new after all.

There were a lot of other great innovations over the years that lead to new technology making its way into the bags of players all over the world, one of which caused a revolution that we still benefit from today. In the 90s Top-Flite, under the Strata brand, cracked the code of merging the soft, high-spin “tour ball” performance with the lower-spinning, longer-flying, and more durable “distance ball”, this three-piece ball was like two balls in one. Strata’s design team accomplished this feat by placing a soft polyurethane cover on a Top-Flite distance ball, and then added a thin layer between the cover and the core that encased the ball’s already large and solid rubber core. In short, the modern golf ball was born. 

This brings us back to the modern day Callaway ball plant, a facility where the average employee tenure exceeds 20 years, and where every single premium Callaway Ball on the planet is made. The thing I quickly realized upon entering the plant for the first time is the pride every person has for their role in making world class golf balls. This sense of pride, and a friendly, yet hard-working environment is something I witnessed before at Callaway’s Carlsbad facility too — a testament to the company’s corporate leadership and the culture that they promote everyday. The “Victory Flag,” as they call it, was flying high thanks to Xander Schauffele’s win just a few days before my visit. 

The start of production begins with materials formulation

I was able to observe a pre-shift meeting, and you would think that based on the discussion of machine tolerances, quality control, & equipment inspections this plant is making parts for a yet-to-be-seen shuttle being sent into space, but they’re talking golf balls. Speaking to the tolerances the plant works within, the in-house machine shop had some amazing equipment, including some things I unfortunately could not share through pictures. This equipment works with the tolerances of less than the 1/30th the thickness of a Post-It Note. For example, each single side to a cover mold for the Chrome Soft line takes more than 30 hours of machine time to complete — an amount of time which might seem excessive, but when you think of the speed and forces impacting a golf ball from first driver strike and along its parabolic trajectory, we really are talking space shuttle physics.

Some of the most impressive equipment has nothing to do with the performance of the balls but rather how they look. I’m talking here about the Truvis patterned balls. What was perceived by many golfers at first as a gimmick (and something than even some Callaway management believed would be a fad) has proven to be an absolute slam dunk. The pentagon pattern provides a tangible benefit by creating an optical illusion that makes the ball look bigger (and easier to hit) especially out of the rough, and also gives visual feedback for short game shots and putting.

Let’s just say that what started as a toe dip with one machine has turned into an area of the plant with more than a dozen machines,  and Callaway is also producing Truvis balls with custom colors and logos — they’re not just printing pentagons anymore.

GolfWRX Truvis

For actual production, every ball starts as raw materials, and compounds are precisely mixed in house, allowing Callaway to control the entire production process. The amount of materials engineering and chemistry I witnessed was way beyond what I was expecting, and to be frank, I went in with already high expectations. After initial mixing each batch is tested and sent to the next step.

Mixing Station

Pre cut core “slugs” ready for baking

Ever wonder why the cores of various golf balls from a single OEM are so bright and differently colored? It’s actually done to make each material identifiable in the process and give production staff another way to make sure materials get to the right manufacturing line. Of all the questions I asked, this one had the most simple answer.

Callaway ERC ( Left ) vs. Chrome Soft ( Right )

The next step is the “cooking” process of the inner core. Each oven press is precisely controlled for pressure and temperature along multiple areas of each unit, this ensures a core that comes from the outer part of the press is formed and “cooked” to the exact same spec as one from the middle. The same process is used for both parts of the dual core.  

Hydraulic press “oven” for producing cores

 

Cores post-pressing and still hot

Callaway utilized a proprietary manufacturing and molding technique to ensure exact specifications are met for centering the core and achieving correct cover thickness. Once the covers are in place, we officially have a golf ball, but we’re not done yet. There are still more quality control checks done by machine as well and humans to once again ensure each ball that leaves the plant is built to the highest quality standards and will perform just like the one before it.

Chrome Softs just after the cover process – Still very warm to the touch as the urethane cools

Even the final paint and clear coat are highly engineered to resist staining, sheering, and stay on during deformation. To quote of one my tour guides, “The force applied to the cover and paint on the ball by a wedge would be like taking a hatchet to the paint on the side of your house.” It might seem like a simple process, but to ensure full coverage of sphere requires some pretty unique tools to get the job done.

This brings us to the new Triple Track Alignment system and how it was developed to help golfers play better. The new system helps improve alignment on putts from all lengths and it also happens to be on Callaway’s longest ball to date: the ERC Soft.

The alignment aid wraps 160 degrees around the ball and offers three parallel lines with high contrast (no more need to try and draw that long Sharpie line around your ball).  For those who choose to putt without the Triple Track alignment, Callaway considered you too, since the other 200 degrees around the ball unsure that you won’t see those lines from address.

Triple Track Alignment visible vs hidden

Every shot taken means something to someone, whether it be a golfer trying to break 100 for the first time, or a tour professional lining up a putt on Sunday afternoon of a major championship. The golf ball is the one piece of equipment a golfer will use on every shot, and each person at the Callaway ball plant in Chicopee, Massachusetts, is proud to put their name behind it, even if you don’t see those names on the box.

 

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Phil phires a 60 | Lowry leads in Abu Dhabi | Bernhard the bricklayer’s son

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

January 18, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1.  Desert Classic
A “rusty” Mickelson leads with nothing less than a 12-under 60…
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”If this is his idea of rusty, it could be another special year for Phil Mickelson…Before heading out to begin his 28th year on the PGA Tour, Lefty alerted his 250,000-plus Twitter followers that he was “excited” and “fresh” and “ready to get started,” but also, um, “rusty,” which is a golfer’s subtle way of suggesting that expectations should be lowered. Mickelson even told his playing partner, Aaron Wise, the reigning Rookie of the Year, as much before the round: “I’m rusty, so don’t expect much.”
  • “But Mickelson has been doing the improbable for nearly three decades now, and so maybe it shouldn’t have been such a complete surprise that in his first round of 2019, at 48 years of age, with no expectations, he carded his lowest score in relation to par in his long and decorated Tour career – a 12-under 60, to take the lead Thursday at the Desert Classic.”
  • “It was kind of a lucky day in the sense that I did not feel sharp heading in,” Mickelson said afterward. “Sometimes it’s just one of those days when it clicks.”
2. Meanwhile, on the LPGA Tour…
AP Report…”Nearly three months after Lewis became a mother, and six months after she last played on tour, she opened with seven birdies on Thursday for a 5-under 66 that left her one shot behind Brooke Henderson and Eun-Hee Ji at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.”
  • ”Pleasantly surprised,” Lewis said. ”Had pretty low expectations going into the day. Just really made a lot of putts. I had some weird shots, which I knew was going to happen having not played in a while. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m going to take it.”
  • “Henderson overcame a slow start with a bogey on the second hole and a par save on No. 3 at the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons. She birdied five of her last eight holes for a 65 to tie Ji, who had a bogey-free round.”
  • “The tournament – the first season-opener in Florida for the LPGA since 2015 – is only for LPGA winners each of the last two years.”
3. European Tour
A report from The National...”Shane Lowry has a three-shot advantage to take into Saturday’s final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.”
  • “A birdie at the 18th gave him a round of 67 to leave him on -17, three ahead of South African Richard Sterne.”
  • “An eagle on the final hole from Ian Poulter lifted the Englishman to -12 and gives him hope he can prevail on Saturday.”
  • “Pablo Larrazabal will start the final round on -11 ahead of a quartet of Maximilian Kiefer, Thomas Pieters, Soren Kjeldsen and Scott Jamieson.”
4. The bricklayer’s son
Bernhard Langer’s “My Shot” runs in Golf Digest this month.
A few morsels…
  • “My father built our house. When I was a boy, he would call on me to help him lay bricks. I would shovel the material for the mortar into a small mixing machine, then join him in laying the bricks, setting them carefully, one by one, using string to make sure everything was straight. I consider it a miracle to have come this far.”
  • “WE CADDIES were given four hand-me-down clubs to share. There was a 2-wood, 3-iron and 7-iron, all with bamboo shafts, and a putter with a shaft bent like an archer’s bow. By the time I was 12, I saved enough money to buy a new set of Kroydon irons. They weren’t top of the line, but they were shiny, new and all mine. I added a Blue Goose model putter that had a small indentation in the head. It was a magical putter, and I quickly became the best putter at the course, Golfclub Augsburg, and possibly all of Germany. One day the putter went missing. I frantically went through the members’ bags, and sure enough, found my Blue Goose with the indentation. But I was in a terrible situation. I couldn’t confront the member-he surely would deny everything, and I would be fired. So I kept it to myself. I never did get the Blue Goose back. I’ve spent the past 50 years looking for a putter that suits me as well.”
5. Latin American Am
AP Report…“Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico had an ideal start Thursday in hopes of turning his fortunes in the Latin American Amateur Championship, opening with a 6-under 66 to build a three-shot lead after the opening round.”
  • “Ortiz has been runner-up in the Latin American Amateur the last two years. He finished five shots behind Joaquin Niemann of Chile last year, and he lost in a three-man playoff to Toto Gana the previous year.”
  • “The winner earns a spot in the Masters in April, and is exempt into the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open and British Open.”
6. Pins in at Augusta National? Maybe…
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”Will players really be allowed to putt with the pins in during at the Masters?”
  • “Asked that question Thursday at the Latin America Amateur Championship, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley didn’t say no.”
  • “Under the new Rules of Golf, which went into effect on Jan. 1, players are now allowed to leave the flagstick in while on the greens, as Bryson DeChambeau so eagerly demonstrated.”
  • “Addressing the possibility of Augusta National going against the Rules of Golf during Masters week, Ridley first thanked the USGA’s Mike Davis and R&A’s Martin Slumbers for their work, then preached a message of “consistency” at the game’s highest levels.”
  • “We will, as we always do, collaborate with the governing bodies. We will talk about those local rules and conditions that will be implemented,” Ridley said.”
  • “We think it’s important that there be some consistency in top championship golf, and so you should expect that the Masters Tournament, from a rules perspective, will look very much, if not the same, as what you’re seeing in the major championships and the professional tours.”
7. The weirdest lies in golf history
Great stuff here from Coleman Bentley rounding up some of the most absurd lies (and resultant shots) in golf history (although it’s hard to believe there’s any way his list could be comprehensive, but hey, headlines, and you have to admire the effort)
  • “Golf is a game of minutely controlled chaos. Atoms crashing into atoms. Weight swooping into inertia. A ballet of bounces, spins, kicks, and ricochets that goes wrong just as often as it goes right. The beauty of a such an unpredictable game-one of inches, not yards-however, is that when it goes right it’s spectacular and when it goes wrong, well, it’s equally spectacular. Beg to differ? Well, keep on begging, because as the weirdest, wildest lies in golf’s weird, wild history prove, chaos is a beautiful thing indeed.”
  • “Shane Lowry – 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship…Before Shane Lowry could tie the course record at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship, he first had to conquer Trash Heap Corner. P.S. If no one’s taking that couch, we might know a guy who’s interested.”
  • “Phil Mickelson – 2014 Barclays Championship…The Leave: Just to the left of Big Jeff’s Hotdog Haus. One day Phil Mickelson will save par from the surface of the moon. We’re sure of it. Until then, his walkabout at the 2014 Barclays Championship will have to suffice.”
8. Kang & McNealy
A couple of Las Vegas-based golf pros are a couple!
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Danielle Kang watched Maverick McNealy with special interest when he was mic’d up on Golf Channel’s telecast of the Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas earlier this week.”
  • “They are dating.”
  • “Kang wasn’t sure whether to reveal McNealy is her boyfriend, but she couldn’t help herself.”
  • “He’s a dork,” she cracked when asked to review his running dialogue on Golf Channel. “But he’s my dork.”
  • “She was applying the Kang needle. Both she and McNealy live in Las Vegas. She said they met at a golf course there, The Summit Club.”
  • “He’s a sweetheart,” Kang said. “I have so much respect for him and vice versa.”
  • Aww!
9. Back in black!
Titleist 718 AP2 Black and AP3 Black released in limited quantities. Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock.
  • Titleist has unveiled new 718 AP2 Black and 718 AP3 Black irons in limited black finish that will be available to purchase from March 1.
  • Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock. The shafts’ powder coat matte black finish aims to minimize glare (in addition to looking cool). An all-black Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grip is standard as well.
  • Speaking on the move to release the irons in black, Josh Talge, Vice President, Golf Club Marketing said
  • “One request we heard from both tour players and amateurs, particularly those who have gravitated toward our Jet Black Vokey SM7 wedges, was if they could have these same irons in a darker finish. Our team spent a lot of time making sure the aesthetics were done just right. It’s a look that you just have to see.”
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Equipment

Brooks Koepka with Mizuno JPX 919 irons, TaylorMade M5 driver in the bag at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

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Brooks Koepka is in action this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship equipped with a new driver and set of irons.

Golf.com’s Jonathan Wall broke the news, via Twitter, that Kopeka has TaylorMade’s new M5 Driver in his bag this week, as well as Mizuno’s JPX 919 Tour Irons.

The three-time major champ used TaylorMade’s M3 460 Driver and Mizuno’s JPX 900 Tour irons throughout 2018, and it appears as if Koepka is happy to make the transition to both manufacturers latest additions of those series of clubs right from the get-go in 2019.

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Koepka is currently T13 after two rounds of play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and sits five shots off the lead.

 

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