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Meet Michael Martinez, the former Marine who is designing some seriously cool clubs and head covers

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I came across Michael Martinez’ Instagram account a couple of months back and was instantly impressed by what I saw. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran routinely posts club, shoe, and head cover designs. The account, msquare.design, is loaded with some truly interesting creations.

Here are a few examples, so you can get a taste of Martinez’s work.

I wanted to get to know Martinez a little better; and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

Tell us a little bit about your background…

I’m a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran: Signed Nov. 93’ – Entered July 94’/Discharge May 98’, and I volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve from ‘98 to ‘00. I transferred to multiple schools/universities before landing on my true passion: industrial/product design. I have an Associate’s degree in Fine Arts from Grand Rapids Community College (Grand Rapids, MI) 2005. I also hold a BA graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design – Ferris State University/ Grand Rapids. I graduated with a degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Industrial Design in 2008.

I also caddied at a local country club. It would provide me with a good amount of information regarding club selection/brand loyalty/buying power/longevity/etc. It was a little different for both men and woman. They definitely approached things differently in both gaming and style. Not a lot of the woman focused on brand loyalty but were more into color and material selections. I did find that both men and women were extremely competitive and took the game very seriously. I met a lot of good people…and some really mean people!

I focused on whether or not they understood weight positioning and ball flight. Even if the user was even really focused on the visual aesthetics when making a initial purchase. I was trying to implement a new way of positioning weights on the sole of the driver. This was around the time TaylorMade introduced the R7 with external weight ports. I wanted to conceal the weights and still give the user the ability to position weights for a fade or draw. My club design was based on a driver Tom Wishon developed years earlier 715CLC; he had strategically positioned a weight on an elbow. It required using a tool and the weight was not changeable. Wishon believed the average golfer would benefit more with a heavier weight, rather than fumbling around with lighter weights. My idea…I wanted to be able to swap the weights and have the ability to turn the internal weight/elbow without using a tool. The spin dial would be detented allowing the user to position his/her desired flight pattern.

Anyway, I later went on to intern at New Balance, where I was working with their running team and then went on to intern at Philips Respironics (Pittsburgh) working on medical equipment. I currently design for one of the largest power tool manufacturers in the World. Our product portfolio consists of hand held power tools to outdoor power equipment.

Tell me about your relationship with golf and how it fits into your life

Watching the Masters in the mid-80s and early 90s with my father and brother: We had no clue how to play, nor did we ever pick up a club. We were so fascinated by the course conditions and the competition of the game.
Golf became more of an idea to really play around the Faldo days…It wasn’t until we started watching Nick win back to back Masters. So, my brother and I would pretend to play golf outside…so my dad came up with a silly idea of making a club. My dad loved to build things with his hands and dabble with wood working projects. One day, he thought he would make his own persimmon driver head. Didn’t work out all that well…he ended up cutting off a portion of his thumb on a table saw. He never finished the project, but today he’s truly a golf nut!

For me, shoes have always been a passion. During that time Nike was getting a lot of attention. I would watch whoever was sponsored by Nike (Curtis Strange). I was a day one Nike guy! I’ve been a Nike fan since a man named Michael Jordan laced them up in the black/red Air Jordan 1s.

My first golf experience didn’t happen until I was at Camp Lejeune Paradise Point Golf Course. While I was in the service, I kept hearing about how my father and brother were taking up golf and taking trips around Michigan to play….I want to say my dad was playing some old Walter Hagens and he had a sweet all leather red bag with the Hagen logo.

My first time ever playing golf, I wasn’t so much interested in playing and perfecting my skills, I was more interested in the technology at the time (it was the introduction of titanium clubs) and cast iron clubs by Ping. For some odd reason the irons really stood out to me. They were extremely oversized irons with white paint-fill. All I know is I really wanted them even though I had no clue how to play the game of golf. So instead of purchasing the Ping Zing 2 Deep Cavity Back or Ping ISI Nickel (last nickel head produced by Ping), I settled for a low-profile PING Ti Hat.

How did you get into design?

I was attending school full-time in Detroit and working part-time in the NW Suburbs. I was looking for an apartment closer to my work; I found an apartment really close to work, but the apartment lease was way out of my budget. It was more for business professionals in the area. The leaser offered to help me find a more financially suitable place close to my employment. The leaser inquired to learn more about me and my future goals. See, he and his wife had kids roughly my age who were also attending school; so, they offered to lease a portion of their home in an affluent part of Detroit. It wasn’t something they had typically done.

I just think they saw something in me…whereas they wanted me to succeed in both school and work. He and his wife were expats from Germany who were working for one of the Big Three in Detroit. He was an automotive designer (exterior/interior) who had worked for Porsche. My best guess was his focus was automotive interiors, b/c he had one of his first designed Porsches in his garage, whereas he had showed me the examples of his design. His home office was decorated with his automotive drawings, which really fascinated me! I wanted to learn more, because I wasn’t all that excited about international business and mechanical engineering. He suggested I take a few fine art courses. I did exactly that, and I was hooked!

What are a few of your favorite creations?

In my professional career ; it would be creating new Visual Brand Languages (VBL) for a couple power tool companies. As far as golf goes, I would say my collaboration with Ben Hogan in 2015 (PTx Irons). I happened to get a hold of Terry Koehler who introduced me to a former Adams Golf employee who was running the R&D department by himself. I sent him my portfolio, and I was off and running as a freelance designer.

I started off by doing initial concept designs for their hybrid line and irons. They already had the Ft Worth irons and TK wedges ready to launch, but they were looking to introduce a cavity-back iron for 2016 with a modern aesthetic…still keeping within the Hogan classic look. They had me in the initial phase of the design process, so I tried my best to sketch out as many thumbnail sketches as possible. I would make refinements to the ones they thought were viable, and then I would move on to other projects that were in the product line-up. It wasn’t too long after that…some of the team members at Ben Hogan left. They brought in a new engineer who I believe also came in from Adams Golf (they had their own split to TM).

Meanwhile (2016), the new/replacement engineer at BH offered me a freelance job outside of BH to assist him in doing wedge project for company that mainly focuses on training aids or game-improvement clubs. I finished at BH in January of 2017.

Cool. What came next?

I went on the search again, and through networking I found a few companies I would go on to do iron designs (Japanese market – sells Japanese production clubs here in US) and putter (up and coming designer – serious Insta following) designs.

I ended up catching up with a gentleman that was part of the wedge project I worked on earlier in 2016. He introduced me to another designer (who had ties to another company that existed in the FT Worth area) in his company, I submitted my sample portfolio once again…then I was off and running doing initial sketches for a new line of products for 2017/2018. I would say this has been one of my more consistent jobs as a freelance designer.
Since then I have been doing fun things on Insta. My initial gallery was sketches of clubs/irons/drivers, but I wasn’t getting followers from the golf community. Most of my hashtags were aimed towards the art community. It wasn’t until Dormie Workshop started running a contest called Cover vs Cover, it changed for me…I came in second in their initial contest. I was pretty bummed! I must have pestered the Bishop brothers with all my submissions for the first contest. I had A LOT of ideas.

Once they announced the 2nd annual Cover vs Cover contest, I wanted to make sure people saw my work whether or not I was selected as a finalist or not. They selected me right off the bat as a finalist, but the only problem was…I only had 100-plus followers. Where was I going to get the votes?! So, I tried my best to post all my golf ideas (bad or good). Fortunately, it worked: I came in first in their 2nd Annual Cover vs Cover contest.

Many people have asked whether or not I’m concerned about my ideas being taken or altered in some sense. Companies know there isn’t much I can do…For instance, I was a graduate out of design school (2009) and submitted a concept proposal to SKLZ Golf about a trainer aid called the Perfect Shot – Where as the user makes perfect iron contact with ball. The device was a U-Shaped mat and you positioned the ball in between the legs of the mat…the user would be trained to hit down on the ball (perfect compression) rather than scoop or hit directly behind the ball. I still have the letter of denial from SKLZ to move the product forward, but it wasn’t until 2011 they brought out the Ball-First Trainer (ball striking mat) featuring Rick Smith. Ain’t that a kick in the ass!

So, I do have concerns with designs being shared or taken…. it’s already happened. A lot of these smaller business are doing the same thing as me…fighting for recognition amongst the golf community.

Talk about other designs, what golf club do you find the most aesthetically pleasing?

In terms of irons: King Cobra Forged SS Irons (softness/organic appeal of the design is clean with the logo centrally located and framed). Nike Forged Blades (simplicity with a hint of sophistication/refinement of the design–logo placement is just done right; with the Swoosh molded in). Cleveland 588 MB Forged Irons (such a visually pleasing iron with the bold script font and the soft body line that runs along the lower qtr. of the iron head). TaylorMade P730 (the machined/milled channel appearance gives it that utilitarian appearance, but its ART at the highest degree). Srixon Z 945 (this is modern design with the variable chamfer – so strong and bold in design…apparent in modern automotive design with strong character/bone lines). Mizuno MP-5 or MP-18 (stunners! What more can you say about the design…these are more than a classic look! It’s a work of art much like a highly crafted samurai sword).

Would you rather design clubs, head covers, or shoes?

Oh, this is a tough question! I lean more towards designing hard goods like golf clubs, but I have a lot of fun designing soft good products. The majority of my Instagram gallery is all in fun–things I would find funny or interesting–items I would like to see in my own bag! I try to think out of the box, breaking the mold of traditional looking headcovers, shoes, and golf clubs. I think people want to more options…more customization! Much like the shoe game, they want the best of the best things to hit the market. Some golfers not only want what the pros are gaming, but they want it to better, no matter the cost. They also know that they will get their return on certain items through online auction sites.

What do you think about the current state of golf apparel and footwear?

I love the fact that there are more options. When I started playing, it was mostly Footjoy that stood out to me, but I have always dreamed up having some type athletic style golf shoe. I always wondered why companies like Nike/adidas/Puma never got in the game earlier. It was that type of styling I’ve always wanted to see in the game.

What do you think about the rise in custom club designs?

There seems to be a market for it at this time, and seems to be really hot! Customized golf gear is extremely hot, so much so in the soft goods area. The accessory companies are all fighting for the same market share, and it’s by any means necessary. That’s either by replicating another brands style or methodology. I do think the vast majority of consumers will soon realize the difference in quality and craftsmanship…sooner or later some of those companies won’t be able to sell at a higher price point, because the product they are providing isn’t up to par with the top tier companies.

What would you like to be doing down the road? What’s the dream?

My number one goal coming out of school was always to work for one of the major golf companies. Do I think it will happen one day? Maybe! I now know…there are other avenues to designing golf clubs. It appears some of the companies outsource some of the work elsewhere; it could mean working for a major design consultancy one day. But, I’m happy with what I do today…power tools are exciting! I learn things every day, and our product range is so vast.

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2 Comments

  1. Tony Lynam

    May 2, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    My lowest round ever is a 74 at Paradise Point’s Scarlet Course. Three putted twice in that round – ugggh!

  2. JZ

    May 2, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Are these for sale?

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Morning 9: What clubs would a mid-handicap hit at a major? | NCAA Women’s champs | Marty Jertson speaks

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

May 23, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. What clubs would a mid-handicap hit at a major?
Cool stuff from Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson…
  • “A USGA study once suggested that average golfers only hit the green from the rough 13 percent of the time. But that was data collected at a resort course, not major championship rough. It’s probably safe to say that the average chopper would never hit the green from the rough at any distance that required a full swing. Indeed, Cobra Connect’s data from Arccos shows that an Average Joe hits the green only a third of the time with only his 8- and 9-iron and his wedges, clubs he’d only be using on Bethpage Black’s two par 5s. Maybe.”
  • “In fact, according to the numbers, he would only hit the green on about one in four chances with his 6- and 7-irons, one in six chances with his 5-iron, one in eight chances with his 4-iron and just one in 10 chances with a 3-hybrid. And about that 3-wood? According to the numbers, the average golfer’s GIR percentage with that club, as they say, has no grade point average.”
  • “All of those missed greens (and the attendant tragic golf despair and perhaps some measure of physical injury) then would be compounded further by plenty of around-the-green misadventures and misplays. Arccos data suggests the average 15-handicap gets up and down less than one in five times. Furthering this ugliness would be all those 3-putts, which Arccos data suggests might happen on at least four holes a round, particularly at major championship speeds.”
An example of the calculations…
1st hole, par 4, 430 yards
Koepka: Driver, half-lob wedge
Average Joe: Driver, 3-wood
2nd hole, par 4, 389 yards
Koepka: 4-iron, gap wedge
Average Joe: Driver, 6-iron
2. NCAA Women’s champs
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard with the report…“For the seventh time in program history, Duke is the 2019 NCAA Div. I Women’s Golf National Champion after defeating Wake Forest 3-2 in an all-ACC final match at Blessings Golf Club.”
  • “I couldn’t feel more proud than I do right now,” said Duke head coach Dan Brooks. “We’ve had a tough team all year long and they were tough this week.”
  • “It was Duke’s anchor, Ana Belac, who put the first point on the board in the national championship match. The Blue Devil junior defeated Wake Forest freshman Vanessa Knecht 5&3 to give Duke the early lead.”
3. A confident Spieth following PGA
Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio…”His history bodes well as Spieth seeks his 12th PGA Tour title. And his solid performance in last week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black restored some much sought after confidence and has him energized at Colonial.”
  • “This is the best I’ve felt in quite a while. I’m very happy,” Spieth said after he tied for third in the PGA Championship, six shots behind victor Brooks Koepka.
  • “…But on a course that favored bangers like Koepka and fellow Bash Brother Dustin Johnson, who finished second, Spieth rode four days of strong putting and worthy iron play to get into contention on the weekend.”
  • “I knew that it was unlikely on this golf course that I was going to have a chance to win, and that’s a humbling feeling for me,” Spieth said. “But I knew that if I played the course the right way, had the right mentality, kept putting the way I’ve been putting, that I would be in it and having a chance to make some noise.
4. Oak Hill weather
AP Report…“It didn’t take long for Jay Haas to be reminded of how gusting winds can wreak havoc on players attempting to navigate the narrow fairways of Oak Hill Country Club’s East Course.”
  • ‘”Got here on Sunday night and played nine holes Monday, and it was blowing, what, 25, 30 (miles per hour),” Haas said with a laugh Wednesday, a day before the Senior PGA Championship opens.’
  • “In some ways, the 65-year-old’s experience was no different than his previous visit to the Rochester suburbs 11 years ago. That’s when Haas overcame frigid conditions, heavy wind gusts and a one-stroke final-round deficit to finish with a 7-over 287 and win his second Senior PGA title.”
5. Johnny’s back
Our Gianni Magliocco...”Johnny Miller is back sharing his opinions on the game on Callaway’s new podcast: Real Golf Talk, which aired its first episode today (listen here on Soundcloud).”
  • “The longtime NBC golf announcer retired from broadcasting earlier this year, but Miller now features alongside avid golfer and television host Chris Harrison on the podcast, which will air six episodes in 2019 and eight in future seasons.”
6. Marty speaks!
Good stuff from PGATour.com’s Andrew Tursky talking with Ping’s (now legendary?) Marty Jertson…
  • Tursky: “Can you describe how tough the conditions were on the weekend, and put those weekend rounds into perspective? Like, what would say a 5-handicap shoot out there?”
  • Jertson: “Oh man. My caddie and I were talking about that a lot… ‘What would a scratch golfer shoot? What would a 5-handicap shoot out there?’ Let me put it this way: We had a hard time finding the golf balls in the rough with an army of spotters. So if you played by the real rules of golf where you had 3 minutes to look for your golf ball and you put a 5-handicapper out there, no joke I think they would shoot – if they followed the textbook rules – they would shoot 120 or more, because they would be losing so many golf balls in the rough and you only have 3 minutes to find it. Yeah, it was brutal. The ultimate test of precision and accuracy in terms of… you had to hit it both long and straight. You couldn’t do one or the other. You had to have both. That’s why I think some of the commentators and whatnot really like that style of golf.”
7. GolfWRX chats with Ryan Palmer
JN: Do you have a home field advantage here at Colonial?
RP: To a point, I guess. Obviously, I have played this golf course in every type of wind. I mean, I know certain holes play shorter than they are. So, a little bit of an advantage because I don’t put much stress into the golf course itself. I just know it. And of course, James, my caddie, knows it. And that is nice. But I do put more pressure on myself because I want to play well here
  • JN: What are your thoughts on not having a full bag club sponsorship?
  • RP: It is just a matter of playing with what I like. When I first got on tour, you would sign a full deal and it was pretty good. Now you are signing for balls and all 14 clubs. I love the Taylor Made driver but they cut out the driver only deals. They went just full line. Fortunately, with the help of Mike Chisholm and Chisholm Sports, I have some great corporate partners. United Rentals, a great deal with Unisys, RBC. I am able to have these corporate sponsors allow me to play what I want. I made some comments like ‘two hundred grand is not worth an equipment contract on tour because of what you can make that week.’
  • So, I got ribbed a little bit for making that comment but honestly it is not worth it in today’s game. We play for so much money now each and every week that by the time you get a $200,000 deal, you’re paying taxes and management, at the end of the day its worth a top 20-finish. And then you have to play those clubs all year long, whether you like them or not. So now I can play whatever putter or iron or driver I want. I am only under contract with ball, shoes and gloves. Footjoy and Titleist. I test and I tinker now and then but I always go back to what I have performed with in the past. I stand over a tee shot and I think, I know I hit this driver this way at this tournament at this particular moment. Why would I change?
8. Why it was great: Bridgestone’s J33R driver
For your viewing pleasure, a new video series from GolfWRX in general and equipment expert Ryan Barath in particular.
  • This video series breaks down why certain clubs maintain such a cult following, and what made them so popular to begin with.
  • The first club in this series is the Bridgestone J33R – a driver from 2005 that was both hard to find and extremely sought after. Ryan Barath breaks down some of the design attributes that still makes this a great club today.
9. Golf jokes!
Mark Townsend at National Club Golfer rounds up some of the worst…
Best golf jokes: Caddiesmack
  • A golfer walks off the 18th green, hands his putter to his caddie and says, “Kid, you’ve got to be the worst caddie in the world.”
  • The caddie replies: “Sir, that would be too much of a coincidence.”
  • Verdict: Not bad and a punchline that most of us weren’t expecting. Quick and to the point though how you’re going to bring this one to the table is anyone’s guess.
Best golf jokes: Clucking mad
  • A golfer sliced a ball into a field of chickens, striking one of the hens and killing it instantly. He was understandably upset, and sought out the farmer. “I’m sorry,” he said, “my terrible tee shot hit one of your hens and killed it. Can I replace the hen?”
  • “I don’t know about that,” replied the farmer, mulling it over. “How many eggs a day do you lay?”
  • Verdict: Better and unlike many of its golfing jokey contemporaries the punchline can’t be said to yourself about a third of the way in. Quite quirky for a golf joke and, told in the right manner, might be worth using.
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GolfWRX visits with Ryan Palmer

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The 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial is upon us. I got the chance to sit down with three-time PGA Tour winner and Colonial Country Club member Ryan Palmer ahead of his opening round at the PGA Tour’s stop in Fort Worth, Texas. We discussed why he loves Colonial, how it felt to win on tour again, his friendship with Jon Rahm, the Ryan Palmer Foundation, and why he chooses not to have a club equipment sponsorship.

(GolfWRX spoke with the actual, not the cardboard, Ryan Palmer)

JN: Do you have a home field advantage here at Colonial?

RP: To a point, I guess. Obviously, I have played this golf course in every type of wind. I mean, I know certain holes play shorter than they are. So, a little bit of an advantage because I don’t put much stress into the golf course itself. I just know it. And of course, James, my caddie, knows it. And that is nice. But I do put more pressure on myself because I want to play well here

JN: Why did you decide to join Colonial as a full golfing member?

RP: The history of it. To me, it’s one of the most prestigious clubs…if not the most prestigious club…in Dallas/Fort Worth. History of the golf course, history of the tournament. The more and more I played it…playing in the tournament for 16 years now…the guys that play in the ‘big game’ took me in and they’ve thrown a few parties for James and me after we won a few times. I thought the best way to give back then is to join and become a full member.

JN: How often do you play out here?

RP: If I am home for a week, I play at least twice a week. Just to play in the big game. If I am home and playing golf, I am playing here.

JN: Tell me about the Ryan Palmer Foundation

RP: I started it in ’03 in Amarillo with my dad and my good friend Billy Slaughter. We do a lot of different things but our biggest thing now is our brighter smiles initiative through dentistry. My wife Jennifer is a dentist. And our good friend Chris Swayden with Smile Workshop here in DFW does a lot of our work here and then Kyle Sparkman in Amarillo, Texas does all our dental work out there. The biggest thing was just bringing in kids to boost their self-esteem, give them a better way of life. A lot of their families don’t have the means and the funds to provide dental care. It’s an easy decision to help these kids and give these kids a sense of confidence. I have read stories about kids wearing hoodies to school because of their teeth. That’s pretty sad. I have always been about giving back and having an immediate impact. So what better way than to provide dental care.

JN: How big was that win at the Zurich in New Orleans for you?

RP: It was unbelievable. Nine years since our last win. But to have Jennifer, my wife, there and our son Mason, 12 years old, was there. He was there in ’08 when I won. But he was a year and half so he had no clue. In 2010, they weren’t there. But to have them there and have him finally see it. Mason always asks “Dad, are you going to get a trophy?” So to have him there to finally witness it…that was special.

JN: How did the partnership with Jon Rahm come about?

RP: We met in ’15 at the Phoenix Open. I knew Jordan wasn’t playing this year at Zurich. Jon and I had played some rounds together. He played in my charity event last year. So, I knew Jon a little bit and I know his caddie, Adam Hayes real well. We’ve known him since we have been on tour, James and I. And so, I talked to James about players we should want to play with and Jon was one of the top ones. So, I texted Adam and mentioned the idea to Jon and he loved it. Jon and my games are pretty similar as far as ball striking. So I shot Jon a text and he accepted.

AVONDALE, LA – APRIL 28: Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm fist bump on the fourth hole during the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 28, 2019 in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

JN: Are you going to play together again next year?

RP: It would be hard not to play together again next year. I will have to run it by Jordan….no I’m kidding. Jordan was happy for me and excited. He gets it. As long as Jon wants to play, we will go try to defend.

JN: What are your thoughts on not having a full bag club sponsorship?

RP: It is just a matter of playing with what I like. When I first got on tour, you would sign a full deal and it was pretty good. Now you are signing for balls and all 14 clubs. I love the Taylor Made driver but they cut out the driver only deals. They went just full line. Fortunately, with the help of Mike Chisholm and Chisholm Sports, I have some great corporate partners. United Rentals, a great deal with Unisys, RBC. I am able to have these corporate sponsors allow me to play what I want. I made some comments like ‘two hundred grand is not worth an equipment contract on tour because of what you can make that week.’

So, I got ribbed a little bit for making that comment but honestly it is not worth it in today’s game. We play for so much money now each and every week that by the time you get a $200,000 deal, you’re paying taxes and management, at the end of the day its worth a top 20-finish. And then you have to play those clubs all year long, whether you like them or not. So now I can play whatever putter or iron or driver I want. I am only under contract with ball, shoes and gloves. Footjoy and Titleist. I test and I tinker now and then but I always go back to what I have performed with in the past. I stand over a tee shot and I think, I know I hit this driver this way at this tournament at this particular moment. Why would I change?

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Morning 9: U.S. Open qualifiers | USGA x Marvel? | Tiger miniseries?

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Owing to technical difficulties, please enjoy this very low-tech (let’s call it “minimalist”) version of the M9

1. Weir, and other U.S. Open qualifiers

AP Report…”Former Masters champion Mike Weir is headed back to the U.S. Open for the first time in six years as one of 10 players who advanced Monday from the first of 12 sectional qualifiers.”

  • “Brendon Todd continued his resurgence with rounds of 65-66 at Northwood Club and Bent Tree to share medalist honors with Nick Taylor of Canada.”
  • “Weir opened with a 69 at Northwood and secured his spot with a 67 at Bent Tree to avoid extra holes.”

Full piece

More on yesterday’s qualifying in Dallas from the USGA’s David Shefter…

  • “Todd, a former University of Georgia All-America honoree, shot 10-under-par 131 at The Northwood Club and Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas, Texas, on Monday to share medalist honors with Nick Taylor in the first of 12 U.S. Open sectional qualifiers. Ten players advanced from a strong field of 102 players that included several PGA Tour and Web.com Tour competitors.”
  • “The 36-hole sectional qualifier in Japan is scheduled for May 27, while the remaining 10 qualifiers are set for June 3 – eight in the United States, one in England and another in Canada.”
  • “I’m pumped,” said Todd, who owns one PGA Tour and three Web.com Tour victories since turning professional in 2007. “This was on my list for about a year to try and qualify for Pebble. It’s one of my favorite courses in the world. I just can’t wait to get out there and play Pebble in a U.S. Open setup. I think it will set up good for me. I think it will be firm [and] I drive it straight. It’s a course-management golf course. You’ve got to put it in the fairway, keep it under the hole and score well.”

Full piece.

Full results here.

2. Fassi!

The AP’s Doug Ferguson on Maria Fassi (ANWA runner up) capturing the NCAA individual title handily…

  • “Fassi, with her high energy and a powerful swing, delivered a bogey-free round of 68 to win the NCAA individual title by four shots. She is the first woman from Arkansas to win the NCAA title since Stacy Lewis in 2007.”
  • And from Fassi…”After a pretty perfect year that my junior year was … and then heading to nationals and playing pretty bad golf was not fun,” Fassi told Golf Channel. “It was a feeling that I never wanted to feel again. I think I just grew from that. I don’t like feeling that way, I don’t like finishing second. I think those are things that fuel me. They make me wake up early, go work out and stay here to dark practicing. I think those are the things that have helped me this year.”
  • “I think not winning at Augusta was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I can say that now that I have reflected. I know that not winning was probably what needed to happen because I knew I was going to learn a lot more from coming in second versus pulling that one off. Of course I hate losing, but coming here I knew what I was going to be put up against.”

Full piece.

3. Who’s missing?

Begging the question… was it worth it?

Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”The list of players who turned pro midseason this year was particularly long thanks in large part to changes the LPGA made to its qualifying process…The Man Out Front got to wondering – where are they now?”

A few of the departed…

  • “Robyn Choi, Colorado – Missed three cuts so far on the LPGA this season and one on the Ladies European Tour. Ranks 66th on the Symetra Tour money list with $4,381 after making four of five cuts.”
  • “Kristen Gillman, Alabama – Ranks 33rd on the LPGA money list at $156,459, getting a huge boost from a T-6 at the ANA Inspiration. (That’s the week she likely would’ve been playing at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.) Not only has her card locked up for 2020, the Solheim Cup is not out of the question.”
  • “Lauren Stephenson, Alabama – Started 2019 rookie year with a T-8 at the Vic Open. Ranks 75th on the money list with $55,673 in seven starts.”

Full piece.

4. Back to the Black

Geoff Shackelford’s thoughts on adjustments to Bethpage ahead of the Ryder Cup’s turn at the venue (plenty of time!)

  • “…Not much needs to be done at Bethpage Black for the 2024 Ryder Cup…Take down the rough cut for the bomb-and-gouge loving American team, more concession stands and way more grandstand seating…”
  • “The most complicated of all involves the oft-discussed, widely loathed par-4 18th hole…Tweaks were made this time around, more bunkers added to the already excessively-trapped, straightaway mess and a dreadful finishing hole remained so. The last time a major was played at Bethpage, the USGA tried to improve 18 by moving up tees and that just led to the regrettable sight of 6-iron lay ups and a sense that the hole was no better.”
  • “In the past, consideration was given to creating a hybrid hole utilizing the righthand bunker complex, the first fairway on the Red, and the current 18th green. Many others have advocated that players be asked to take a walk from the par-3 17th to the Red Course’s 18th tee.”

Full piece.

5. Hovland wins Ben Hogan Award

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Viktor Hovland received the Ben Hogan Award at Colonial C.C. on Monday night.”

  • “The Oklahoma State junior beat Cowboys teammate Matthew Wolff and California’s Collin Morikawa for the prize, which is given to the nation’s best collegiate golfer. (The award used to be primarily academic based, but its criteria changed in 2002.) Though Wolff has received more media attention, the honor encapsulates all amateur competitions, which made Hovland the easy choice.”
  • “The 21-year-old out of Norway is currently No. 1 in the world amateur rankings, a standing spurred by winning the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. That victory earned an invite to Augusta National this past spring, where Hovland finished as the Masters Low Am. He also captured three collegiate events this season, and finished second at last year’s European Am.”

Full piece.

6. USGA x Marvel

A real thing that is actually happening…

  • Via Golfweek staff…”The USGA announced Tuesday it has partnered with the Marvel Universe for a comic book using some of the Marvel Super Heroes teaching kids the basics of playing golf.”
  • “The books will be available prior to the U.S. Open online. Limited-edition Marvel-themed golf posters will be distributed at the Junior Experience on June 9 at Pebble Beach.”
  • “The story follows Tony Stark (Iron Man) and other Avengers as they teach the next generation of Marvel Super Heroes about golf.”

Full piece.

7. The big win that wasn’t

Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey…

  • “It turns out, there was another huge payday on the line at Bethpage Black on Friday of the PGA Championship, just not one that would’ve been on anyone’s radars.”
  • “The Vegas Sports Information Network reported on the very bold “make-the-cut” parlay for the PGA Championship placed by Icelandic gambler Spencer McIlmoyle. For the casual reader, a parlay is a wager with multiple bets included, and it only pays out if every bet wins. McIlmoyle’s bet was a $3,448 10-leg parlay on seven golfers to make the cut and three golfers to miss the cut. The potential payday? $155,000.”
  • “Amazingly, McIlmoyle nailed nine of the 10 golfers’ outcomes, correctly predicting Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Maytsuyama, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau and Webb Simpson all to make the cut, and Jason Dufner and Branden Grace to miss the cut. It all came down to Shane Lowry to miss the cut, and a birdie by Lowry on his second-to-last hole of his second round moved Lowry inside the cut line, costing the gambler the six-figure payday.”

Full piece.

8. JT to return from wrist injury at Memorial

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…

“It appears Justin Thomas’ injury sabbatical is coming to an end.”

  • “Thomas, who dropped out of the PGA Championship last Monday and the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks before that due to an ailing wrist, has committed to next week’s Memorial. The tournament announced Thomas’ participation on Tuesday morning.”
  • “The 26-year-old, who dealt with a similar issue at the end of last season, hurt his wrist at the Honda Classic after hitting a tree with his club in March. In 11 starts this season, Thomas boasts five top 10s, highlighted by a runner-up at the Genesis Open. His last event was at the 2019 Masters, where he finished T-12.”

Full piece.

9. Tiger miniseries?

Report via Tim Baysinger at The Wrap

  • “A scripted miniseries on Tiger Woods, based on Jeff Benedict’s book about pro golfer is in development at Brent Montgomery’s Wheelhouse Entertainment.”
  • “Benedict reached a deal with Montgomery to set up a joint venture at WHE, with “Tiger Woods” as the first project that Benedict and Wheelhouse will take to market. The book, which Benedict co-authored with “60 Minutes” correspondent Armen Keteyian, was published last year and became a New York Times bestseller.”

Full piece. 

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