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GolfWRX Morning 9: Spieth & Kuchar: foosball showdown | PGA Tour schedule revealed | Bowdo finds a caddie on Twitter

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below.

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

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

 

July 11, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Behind schedule reveal of PGA Tour schedule now scheduled

 

Has there ever been this much interest in/focus on the PGA Tour calendar? (Probably, yes, during early FedEx Cup days). With plenty changing, a philosophical shift, and 11th hour developments, the Tour had its work cut out for it.  
  • The PGA Tour filled its DayTimer for 2018-2019 and revealed its plans to the world yesterday.
  • The FedEx Cup is now three events instead of four.
  • Two new tournaments: the Rocket Mortgage Classic June 24-30 in Detroit and the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minneapolis.
  • The RBC Canadian Open moves from late July to June 3-9.
  • The Players Championship moves from May to March (11-17) and the PGA Championship moves from August to May (13-19).
  • The final World Golf Championships event of the season will now be held at TPC Southwind in Memphis as the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
  • The Houston Open and A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier move to the fall.
2. …Accordingly: Takes aplenty 
Scribes scrambled to put together perspective pieces on the new schedule late yesterday morning–a task made easier by the fact that 80% of it and most major developments were already know.

 

  • Writing for GolfChannel.com, Rex Hoggard offered praise and approval but cautioned that there will be an adjustment period to the condensed schedule.
  • “Essentially, the Tour had to shed four weeks off the season to move out of football’s shadow. Losing the Boston playoff event and the post-season “bye” week was half the bill. The Houston Open was relocated to the fall portion of the schedule, and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was replaced by an existing event in Memphis.
  • “If that all sounds clean and easy, consider that the run up to the post-season will now feature a major (The Open), a World Golf Championship (Memphis) and the Wyndham Championship. Including the three playoff stops, that’s five must-play events in a six-week window.
  • “How this congestion impacts events like Bay Hill or the AT&T Byron Nelson, which will now be played the week before the PGA Championship, remains to be seen, but there will be tough choices made.
  • “Consider the RBC Canadian Open, which has been mired in a post-Open Championship vortex, will now be played the week before the U.S. Open. Depending on where the American championship is played, the move could give the field in Canada a boost, but it’s hard to imagine how it’s going to lead to long-term improvements.”
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig praised moving the PGA Championship to May, however, he worries that given the host venues and time of year for that tournament, weather and conditioning could be problems. He praised wrapping the Playoffs before the NFL season begins, and also said, “golf-mad markets in Minneapolis and Detroit are rewarded with PGA Tour events, the Canadian Open moves off a tough date after The Open, the WGC event in Akron loses a sponsor in Bridgestone but picks up a big one in FedEx.”

 

3. Bowdo finds a new caddie via Twitter

 

The struggling, always entertaining, can’t-help-but-root-for Steven Bowditch put out a call for a caddie…on social media.
  • Desperate times call for…calling for caddie applications on Twitter. That’s right, Bowditch fired off this tweet.
  • “Any local kids/college players in the Quad cities area that are interested in caddying in the tournament this week, this thread is for you. The best response/reason gets the job. 2pm Tues start, finish Friday. 1% chance Sunday. Payment: all leftover gloves and balls are yours.”
  • Bowditch ended up hiring 16-year-old Elias Francque.
4. What the heck is John Peterson going to do now? 

 

A few morsels from Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…

 

  • “Traveling and being away from his young family is the biggest reason why Peterson – 29 years old and in the prime of his career – is choosing to walk away from the PGA Tour, after he failed, in excruciating fashion, to earn the necessary FedExCup points to keep conditional status.”
  • Peterson’s early career laid the foundation for his retirement…”All year the 2011 NCAA champion had been torn between two career paths. Because of his status, he usually played only one tournament a month, leaving plenty of time for him to make inroads in his next career, in real estate and business development. Then, a week or two before his next scheduled start, he’d return to the range and try to sharpen his game, usually with uninspiring results.”

 

5. A secret rematch!
 
Apparently, Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth already had an Open Championship rematch…on the foosball table.
  • Dave Shedloski writes: They’ve already had their rematch. It occurred in upstate New York in front of only a handful of witnesses instead of a global audience. But no matter. Matt Kuchar wasn’t going to lose to Jordan Spieth again. He was determined. He knew he what he was doing and that he had a secret weapon. He would get his revenge.
  • “Less than six weeks after Spieth summoned a transcendent rally to stun Kuchar in last year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, the two men had it out in a different venue. No major title was on the line, but each brought the same intensity reminiscent of their duel for the claret jug. Two of the nicest men in golf got nose to nose. Things got heated. Before anyone knew it, there ensued a lot of kicking and screaming.
  • “And then a lot of trash talking. And laughter. Lots of laughter. And, yes, the tables had turned. This time there would be no rally for the young Texan. Kuchar owned him. He was king of the foosball table.”
6. Bryson won’t back down
I mean, with respect to the compass, he will, because that’s now an illegal instrument that he needs to put back in his pencil box…but in general, BAD will continue to push the limit, Tim Rosaforte says.    
  • “In the wake of the ruling, DeChambeau has gone silent. He plans on making a statement at a Wednesday news conference in Silvis, Ill., deflecting follow-up questions and moving on. With the Open Championship coming up and a genuine chance to make his first Ryder Cup team, DeChambeau is hoping to make his golf speak for him while he sorts out a new invention for his science of green reading.
  • ‘”Maybe he outsmarts some of the other guys because he takes a different approach to the game,” said DeChambeau’s manager, Brett Falkoff. “He’s doing it different, his way.””
  • “He’s working on a couple different things that he can come up with,” said a source close to DeChambeau. “He’s always been an innovator in trying new things … so it’s not going to stop him.”
7. Dylan Meyer & chronic disease

 

The bespectacled Tour rookie has Crohn’s Disease. Mike McAllister does of good job of explaining exactly what that means for the 23-year-old.  
  • “Every eight weeks — whether in his hometown of Evansville, Indiana, or on the road at a golf tournament — Dylan Meyer has an appointment at a nearby expanded care hospital. After signing in, he’s hooked to an IV containing Remicade, an anti-inflammatory drug that treats autoimmune diseases. For Meyer, the target is his large intestine.

     

  • “The infusion takes two hours and essentially shuts down his immune system, leaving him in a vulnerable state. If he breathes in the wrong germ or suffers an infection, the symptoms will be heightened, perhaps 10-fold worse than usual.

     

  • “I have to be very cautious of what I’m around and who I’m around,” Meyer said. Once the last drip of Remicade enters his vein, he then receives a hydration IV for an additional 20 minutes. Only then is he cleared to leave, allowed to resume his life and his new career as a pro golfer until his next appointment in eight weeks.

     

  • “Meyer has adhered to this schedule ever since he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis just over a year ago, and for the rest of his life, he must make every one of those appointments, even adjust his playing or practice routine or travel plans if necessary. Given that he’s just 23 years old – his birthday is today — he can look forward to a lot of Remicade IVs. He has no choice, though. If he doesn’t get the treatment, his health is jeopardized.”

     

8. “With a name like Duff, he should work in golf”

 

Such is the headline for John Clarke’s New York Times chat with Stewart Duff, 50, Gullane’s course manager, ahead of the Scottish Open.
  • Q: What added pressure comes with hosting the Scottish Open?
  • “I think it’s just the expectancy of everybody. I come from the small town, Gullane, of about 3,500 people. Most people play golf and are members of the golf club and play the courses around Gullane. The golf course is very much a part of the town. You want it in the best possible condition for them, yourself, the staff and members and the town as well. And of course the tour players. It’s a lot of pressure to please everybody, but it’s good to have pressure.”

     

  • Q: In June, a summer storm with winds reaching nearly 70 miles per hour blew apart a hospitality tent at the course. Are winds an issue at Gullane?

     

  • “We are a very exposed links course, but we generally don’t get winds like that. That was just one of those freak incidents. It was installed right, it just came down in the winds.”
9. TaylorMade “GAPR”?

 

Cool story because it’s an illustration of golf equipment released in the web 2.0 world and its associated ecosystem.
  • GolfWRX staff recently spotted a photo of a TaylorMade “GAPR” driving iron in our GolfWRX Forums, and some more photos from around the Internet. One of the photos in our Forum Thread has emojis and text added to the photo, implying that @haotong66 – which is HaoTong Li’s Instagram handle – originally posted the photo.
  • There’s more to the story, including photos posted by TaylorMade rep, Chris Trott. So while TMag is mum, we’re starting to piece together the details.
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Bubba Watson makes $20,000 donation to First Tee of Detroit to honor Dan Gilbert

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Bubba Watson, who is teeing it up at this week’s inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, has donated $20,000 to The First Tee of Greater Detroit, wanting to honor what Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert has done for the city of Detroit.

According to The Detroit News, the multiple Masters champion decided to make the $20,000 donation following Monday’s youth clinic at the club.

“With Dan Gilbert, the Rocket Mortgage team, the tournament, I wanted to honor him somehow and the only way I could think of it, because of golf, is I’m going to donate $20,000 to The First Tee of Greater Detroit. I saw the (youth) clinic yesterday. So, sometime today a check will be going out for 20-grand coming here to Detroit and being here for The First Tee in honor of Dan Gilbert.”

Gilbert suffered a stroke at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak last month. Last week, company officials said Gilbert was discharged from the hospital and had now been moved to an in-patient facility, which is the typical next step in the recovery process of those who have suffered a stroke.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, a close friend of Gilbert, spoke in glowing terms after hearing of Watson’s donation, stating

“That’s awesome. I think what a lot of athletes don’t get credit for is there are so many things they do and so many people pulling at them. A little here, a little there and it adds up. So many of these guys do so many cool things for so many people.

It makes me feel good for a superstar like that to care about an area that he has no real connection here. I think that tells you the human element of this thing.”

Watson tees off in the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Thursday at 7.25 AM ET alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Billy Horschel.

And if you want to join Bubba, you can donate to the First Tee of Greater Detroit here

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Morning 9: ANWA keeps same date | WGHOF’s credibility issues? | Maria Fassi is coming

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

June 26, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Keeping the date
AP report…“The LPGA Tour will have a new tournament in Florida at the start of next year — and likely another one in the late spring. The Asian swing of limited-field events at the start of the year is adding a tournament with a full field and a cut.”
  • “And perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle: The ANA Inspiration is staying put. It again will be one week before the Masters and the same weekend as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which stole the spotlight from the LPGA Tour’s first major, not to mention some of the amateurs.”
  • “Still to be determined is whether it stays that way.”

Full piece.

2. Credibility issues? 
Geoff Shackelford…”A big congratulations to LPGA rookie Hannah Green on her first win and first major win in the KPMG LPGA Championship, nearly doubling her career earnings and already bringing her within one major win of World Golf Hall of Fame eligibility.”
  • As the World Golf Hall’s Twitter account reminded us:”
  • The tweet: “Hannah Green is one Major Championship closer to Hall of Fame qualification…

Full piece.

3. BMW coming back
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”The BMW Championship, one of the PGA Tour’s three FedEx Cup Playoff events, will have a new name in 2020, a source confirmed to Golf Digest on Tuesday.”
  • “The luxury automaker’s contract with the tour and Western Golf Association runs through this year’s tournament in August at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, and the source said the company will not stay on as title sponsor beyond that. Efforts are underway to find a replacement for BMW ahead of next year’s event.”

Full piece.

4. Dire straits
...more “no money for anything” than “money for nothing”…
Bill Speros with even more on Zach Sucher’s breakthrough (via Fore Play)
  • “I can’t even wrap my head around it, to be honest. Two months ago, we had two credit cards wrapped up. We talked about taking out loans on our house,” Sucher said in an interview with the Fore Play podcast from Barstool Sports.”
  • …”We can do two interest-free credit cards and we can max them out. When they’re maxed out, we’ll let them sit there and we will have 12 months to pay them off. And in 12 months we might be in a terrible place that we don’t even want to think about, but we bet on ourselves,” he told the Fore Play podcast.
5. 81 years old: 2 aces in 6 holes
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Last week 81-year-old Chuck Miller made two aces at the Cortez Course in Hot Springs, Ark. The first came on the 12th hole, a 135-yard par 3, the second at the 138-yard 17th. In both instances, Miller used a 6 iron.”
  • “When the first one went in on the 12th hole, I was really excited,”Miller told KARK.com. “It was a great shot over the front bunker onto the green; it bounced once or twice and went into the cup. We all jumped and shouted.”
6. Fassi cometh
AP report…[Maria Fassi and family]…”lived near the Club de Golf in Pachuca, about an hour north of Mexico City, and their mother wanted them active in as many sports as possible. Lorena Ochoa was just starting her rise to No. 1 in the world. Even so, golf was never a priority in soccer-mad Mexico.”
  • “I don’t think it’s a sport a kid would say, ‘Hey, Dad, I want to play golf,'” Fassi said. “We lived at a golf course in Pachuca, nine holes. I would go with my brothers to watch them hit. From there, the head pro says, ‘You come here, but you never hit.’ So I started swinging at it. And I really liked it.”
  • “And now the golf world is watching her, curious what her dynamic swing and personality can do for the LPGA Tour.”
7. The best golf club innovations? 
Terry Koehler, our resident “Wedge Guy” reflects…
“Thinking about this innovation or that got me pondering my own list of the most impactful innovations in equipment over my lifetime (the past 60 years or so). I want to offer this analysis up to all of you for review, critique, and argument.”
“Woods: I would have to say that the two that made the most impact on the way the game is played is the introduction of the modern metal wood by TaylorMade back in the 1980s, and the advent of the oversized wood with the Callaway Big Bertha in the 1990s. Since then, the category has been more about evolution than revolution, to me at least.”
“Irons: Here again, I think there are two major innovations that have improved the playability of irons for recreational golfers. The first is the introduction of the numbered and matched set, a concept pioneered by Bobby Jones and Spalding in the 1930s. This introduced the concept of buying a “set” of irons, rather than picking them up individually. The second would be the introduction of perimeter weighting, which made the lower lofted irons so much easier for less skilled golfers to get airborne. (But I do believe the steadfast adherence to the concept of a “matched” set has had a negative effect on all golfers’ proficiency with the higher-lofted irons)”

Full piece.

8. J.B. on the athletic tape putter grip
Solid work by Andrew Tursky getting the scoop on arguably the Tour’s most curious grip
  • “…Holmes’ SuperStroke Traxion Pistol GT 1.0 putter grip is wrapped with athletic tape that can be found in your local sporting goods store or pharmacy.”
  • About two years ago, Holmes says he started using athletic tape around his putter grip to combat sweaty hands.”
  • “Actually, Holmes doesn’t apply the tape himself, nor does he have a putter maker from the equipment trucks do it. Instead, he trusts his caddie, Brandon Parsons, to apply the athletic tape.”
9. Bagpipes out, Irish flute in for The Open…more programming notes
The Forecaddie writes Yanni’s “Celebration of Man” is getting some Irish flavor
  • “The theme, as you undoubtedly recall, was NBC’s longtime introduction for U.S. Open coverage. It was updated by Yanni when NBC took the music overseas for its coverage of the British. But with the event going to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, Yanni has woven in a more Irish sounding flute in place of the bold bagpipes used in re-imagining the catchy, dare The Forecaddie say, beloved theme music.”
  • “As for the important stuff: NBC and Golf Channel plan more than 200 hours of “linear programming” including 50 live hours of the actual golf. That’s easily more than any event on the calendar by TMOF’s calculations. Besides loads of coverage on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive and Live From, there will be a documentary commemorating the 10th anniversary of Tom Watson’s near-win at Turnberry (July 8, 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel) and a Sky Sports documentary chronicling “The Road To Royal Portrush” (July 15, 9 p.m. ET).”

 

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Detroit Golf City

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Woodward Avenue is a major thoroughfare in downtown Detroit. From it, you can see two very unique golf courses, close in proximity but miles apart in every other way.

The first course, the Detroit Golf Club,  is a lush 36-hole Donald Ross design. Privately owned and operated, DGC is set to host the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic this week. This will be the PGA Tour’s first regular event in Michigan since the Buick Open ended in 2009 and the first regular tour event ever for the city of Detroit.

The second course, Palmer Park, is city owned and currently closed. The grass is overgrown, but you can see the bones of a once proud 18-hole municipal track, winding through the 296 acres of the larger public park space of the same name. Originally opened in 1927, the Palmer Park golf course has always been a piece of inner-city Detroit’s fabric. But now it sits empty.

Niall Hay, the Chairman of the First Tee of Greater Detroit, is working hard for these two courses to help each other, and at the same time, help thousands of underprivileged kids in Detroit learn the great game of golf and all the positive things it can bring to their lives.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit was one of the program’s very first chapters. It began in 1997 as a partnership with the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, PGA Tour and the USGA with a simple goal to get more kids playing golf. It started as a way to bring affordable golf to communities that needed it. Detroit was an obvious choice, but eventually, like so many other things in Detroit, the economic recession caught up to it.

“During the economic meltdown, the chapter just went away for a variety of reasons. Mostly funding,” said Hay.

But in 2012, Hay, a former member of the Ohio State golf team, decided to look into exactly what went wrong with the First Tee program in Detroit. First, he met with past chairmen and former board members. They all gave the same story. The program just died a slow death as the funding dried up. Members of the board moved on to different things. But they all said it was a great organization and one of them suggested that Hay start it back up. “I was looking to potentially join a board, not found one,” Hay said with a chuckle. But it was him or no one. So he did it.

A small group in the city of Ann Arbor was already working with the First Tee on getting a chapter started for Washtenaw County, but funding was proving, yet again, to be an issue. So Hay and others had to wait for that to be resolved before they could obtain a letter of intent for a chapter in Detroit from The First Tee. But he was certain that his community needed the program in place.

“If we were going to do this,” Hay said,  “we need to do it in the city of Detroit, in the inner city and impacting underprivileged kids in the city and not in suburbs or other areas. We wanted to stay in downtown Detroit where there is the most need.”

The first steps were to form a foundation, gain 401(c)(3) non-profit tax status from the IRS and then form a diverse and talented board. This took some time. Then, they needed to find the money to fund it. This took more time. But Detroit is a strong community and several local businesses were willing to partner to get things back up and running. And in June of 2015, the First Tee of Greater Detroit began with its first green grass program.

Today, the program is as strong as ever, with over 500 students in the spring, summer and fall programs, which all act like a sort of camp for youth development and some golf. Additionally, the First Tee of Greater Detroit partners with local public schools to train its PE teachers to teach First Tee curriculum, the nine core values and related golf activities. Over 13,000 additional kids are reached in the National School Program.

For the first three years of The First Tee Detroit’s rebirth, the green grass program took place at Palmer Park.

“Back then, Palmer Park was a really rundown course. We focused our programming on the front nine, and some of the drier areas on the back,” Hay said. The course had issues with flooding and wasn’t in the best condition, but it was home. A place to play and practice regularly. But after a few years, the city put out a request for proposal, seeking additional management help for its public golf courses. “The First Tee was hoping to pull Palmer Park from the RFP and have the First Tee chapter raise money to make it a high quality 9 hole golf course,” Hay said. “It got pulled from the RFP, they signed with Signet, who put their money into the other three city courses and the Palmer Park course never reopened.”

“So now, the children of First Tee Greater Detroit are spread around a bit. They practice and play some at Rackham, one of the other public courses in Detroit. Some at Maple Lane. There are classes and clinics all around the city. “We do not have a home course or facility now but we have more traction with people. The more the First Tee gets bigger and bigger, the more we would love a home base.”

And with the PGA Tour’s new four-year deal with sponsor Quicken Loans and the Detroit Golf Club, golf interest in Detroit is getting a shot in the arm. More and more kids are signing up with the First Tee Program. And this is just the beginning. PGA Tour events across the tournament schedule are associated with their local First Tee Chapter. Most sites have youth experience areas where the First Tee Experience is promoted and encourages. The core values of the program are on display at tour events and children and their parents alike are exposed to a way to get involved with youth golf. The First Tee of Greater Detroit will have a tent at the Rocket Mortgage Classic adjacent to the Kids Zone.

And just as important, the PGA Tour events donate a percentage of their revenue with the First Tee Chapters. Detroit will be no different in that regard. And some chapters make hundreds of thousands of dollars from these tournaments. “We are one of the primary beneficiaries of the tournament,” Hay said. “The tournament itself will share some of the revenue with local charities. The First Tee of Detroit is one of the charities that will thankfully receive funding from the Rocket Mortgage Giving Fund.”

“It’s a game changer for us,” Hay said about the PGA Tour’s newest stop in Detroit. “It could take us to the next level. Our Board has never been more engaged. We have already seen a huge spike in interest. We have seen 40 to 50 percent more inquiries and kids signing up. Kids want to play and more volunteers are signing up to teach.” In fact, Summer and Fall registration is going on right now and the excitement continues to build.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit has experienced a rebirth. The City of Detroit has experienced a rebirth. And now, as thousands of golf fans drive down Woodward Avenue to watch the best players on the planet compete in the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, they might also look towards Palmer Park and see the spirit of golf sitting idly by, waiting for someone to give it a chance.

Funding, of course, is yet again the issue. But with the right investor(s), Palmer Park could experience a rebirth of its own. And that would not only help reinvigorate the heart of the city, but also the hundreds and soon to be thousands of kids who are discovering the game of golf with the First Tee Greater Detroit. The Rocket Mortgage event is a great start. Hopefully, this is just the beginning for Detroit golf.

“We’ve got hundreds of acres in the middle of the city where you could put in a really cool nine-hole course and short game area. It would be a great story for Detroit. And it would be great for our community and for these kids.”

If you are interested in helping by giving a donation, you can participate by doing so here.

 

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