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Zac Blair announces plans for The Buck Club

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If you follow nearly anyone in the golfing community on social media, you have probably at least heard of The Buck Club. For those not in the know, The Buck Club represents PGA Tour player Zac Blair’s mission to craft what he sees as the gold standard for what a golf course should be. He unveiled his plan over the weekend during a kickoff event called “The Ringer” at Sweetens Cove Golf Course in South Pittsburg, Tenn.

Blair has identified and is in the process of securing a 347-acre site in Morgan, Utah, (about an hour north of Salt Lake City) for the course. He has also selected King Collins Golf (crafters of the aforementioned Sweetens Cove) to co-design the golf course with him and oversee its construction. The team of Blair and King Collins Golf have recently completed a design layout that adds up to a 7,400-yard par 71 from the championship tees. In the words of Blair and Collins

“The architecture will be rooted in the fundamental lessons of The Old Course at St Andrews and the great courses of the classic era of architecture in the United States. Strategic decision making, variety, alternate playing routes, and a bold, quirky flair will be the hallmarks of the playing experience. The legacy of Zac’s favorite course, National Golf Links of America, the brainchild of C.B. MacDonald, weighs heavily on the concept of The Buck Club. Using the teachings of history’s greatest architects and C.B. MacDonald as inspiration, every hole at The Buck Club will provoke thought and force players to make decisions on each shot. Alternate routes of attack will be available for golfers of all skill levels, thereby providing ‘pleasurable excitement’ and ‘the greatest pleasure to the greatest number’ in the words of Alister Mackenzie.”

Preliminary Scorecard for The Buck Club

Apart from the golf itself, the club’s atmosphere is equally important to Blair and Collins. The intent is to provide a laid back vibe with an emphasis on camaraderie among people who share a love of the game and the shared experiences it provides. To encourage that, the course will include features such as one complex that encompasses the 18th green, practice green, and first tee as well as multiple bonus holes (Numbers 6.5, 9B, 18B, and 19 are included in the current routing).

Routing of The Buck Club by Zac Blair and King Collins Golf

If the experience at The Buck Club is anything like what transpired at The Ringer, golf enthusiasts should be in for a real treat. Some highlights include a 50-man free-for-all down the first fairway during the three-man derby, multiple alternate holes such as No. 4 tee to No. 6 green and No. 8 tee to No. 9 green, and a stripe show of a closest to the pin challenge. 100 percent of the attendees were encouraging to each other and engaged in every nuance of the experience. It was a refreshing change from the innocuous rounds of golf found at many courses across America today.

Artist’s rendition of the 8th hole named “Mega Redan.” Credit: Josh Bills (@jrbgolfs on Instagram)

The timeline for The Buck Club’s completion depends heavily on securing funding for the project, but it’s conceivable they could start moving dirt in 2019 if the fundraising process continues gaining momentum.

Stay in the know as the process unfolds by following The Buck Club on Twitter and Instagram.

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Peter Schmitt is an avid golfer trying to get better every day, the definition of which changes relatively frequently. He believes that first and foremost, golf should be an enjoyable experience. Always. Peter is a former Marine and a full-time mechanical engineer (outside of the golf industry). He lives in Lexington, KY with his wife and two young kids. "What other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive." -Arnold Palmer

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. John Krug

    Oct 28, 2018 at 12:21 am

    How long is the golf season in Utah?

    • kevin

      Nov 2, 2018 at 11:19 am

      you can play year round in parts of UT. do you even know where utah is on a map? its south of canada, which has some fantastic courses.

  2. Johnny Penso

    Oct 27, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Can you say 7 hour rounds of golf? ???? ???? ???? ????

  3. George

    Oct 27, 2018 at 2:15 am

    I’m tired of private courses being built. If you really want to make a spectacular golf course it can only be good if it is open to the public. Golf in Scotland is way better than the US because of this. You can play anywhere

  4. Chris Epson

    Oct 26, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Zac is from Utah, and we are fortunate to have so many city and county owned courses, kept in terrific shape, and affordable at $50 (with a cart) or less. 9 hole rounds are not just allowed, but encouraged. We have some fun part 3 courses, as well as a few high end country clubs in Salt Lake and Park City. Point is…Zac gets it. His family has been involved in public golf there for many years, so I give him the benefit of the doubt in this venture. And Morgan, Utah in a beautiful venue. Don’t tell anyone, but affordable great quality golf is Utah’s best kept secret

  5. Zebediah (OG of the OT)

    Oct 26, 2018 at 10:56 am

    It’s never getting built. Zac has been busy designing swag and doesn’t have land or money, and is clueless on the development process.

    Nice guy with some interesting (but hardly novel) points of view, but he isn’t putting in the hard yards.

    • JR

      Oct 26, 2018 at 1:22 pm

      What is the point of being so negative here? Why even comment?

      • Jamie

        Oct 26, 2018 at 1:45 pm

        So brutal honesty is outlawed now, Snowflake?

      • Zebediah (OG of the OT)

        Oct 26, 2018 at 2:06 pm

        Only positivity allowed?

        So you don’t dispute what I wrote, you just don’t like it?

        Zachary was on twitter yesterday asking for someone to help him navigate land development in Utah. He doesn’t have the land. He doesn’t have the cash. He sells hats and tees, and he expects to break ground in May?

        Why should I be positive that this will happen?

        • JasonHolmes

          Oct 26, 2018 at 11:31 pm

          Well if people keep buying $25 bags of TBC tees – he’ll have the money raised in no time.

    • Blake

      Oct 26, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      “Zac has been busy designing swag and doesn’t have land or money”

      He sold the swag to get the money and the land. But your wrong bc apparently he has the land now.

      • Zebediah (OG of the OT)

        Oct 26, 2018 at 5:50 pm

        “He is in the process of securing the land” – translation, he doesn’t own the land and hasn’t “secured” it, which is something less than owning it.

        You think he soft enough hats and belts to by the land? His GoFundMe was seeking $5,000,000.00. He “secured” $155.00. I’m guessing he didn’t make up the shortfall at the Ringer. He is approaching this project like a teenager. “Check out my dope pop up store” followed by “anyone know anyone who has developed land in Utah”.

        Explain to me how you know he has the land when this article explicitly states he doesn’t.

        I hope he pulls it off, but he has done absolutely nothing to make me think he will.

  6. Peter Schmitt

    Oct 26, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Lots of people commenting on price, membership structure, etc. Folks, all I know to say there is that nobody knows yet. It’s not that it’s a closely guarded secret. No one knows. As such, I’m going to resist diving into circular discussions over hypotheticals because it’s not going to help any of us. Hope that’s received in the spirit it’s intended.

    • JasonHolmes

      Oct 26, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      As a business owner, what you are describing actually frustrates me more than anything. He seems to just be sort of winging it. Make some cool hats and hole layout maps first – figure out the business part later. How did he not start with a solid business plan and then approach investors with a copy of that plan in his hand? Instead he’s doing what you are describing – he’s winging it.

  7. scott

    Oct 26, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Never heard of this until now. I love the architecture styles discussed. However, if this is going to be a private course, the success or failure will never truly be known until it goes out of business. What I get from reading this article is that if this is a private course 1) Zak clearly doesn’t get it and 2) without a ton of funding, the course won’t resemble the current layout.

  8. SV

    Oct 26, 2018 at 9:17 am

    I agree it will probably be a high-end, private club with limited access. What I would like to know is why in an article like this it is always the the longest tees yardages that are shown? Why not show what normal people will play, even if they will have no chance to actually do it? Your answer Mr. Schmitt?

    • Peter Schmitt

      Oct 26, 2018 at 9:39 am

      Let’s not forget that Zac is almost doing this backwards from the standard convention. There’s a lot of details that just plain aren’t sorted out yet. All of that will come in time but you have to start somewhere. How often does the general public get to watch a project unfold like this? Let’s all enjoy the ride.

      • JasonHolmes

        Oct 26, 2018 at 9:55 am

        “How often does the general public get to watch a project unfold like this? Let’s all enjoy the ride.”

        Is the general public really going to care if it turns out they are watching a PGA Tour pro build a high end private hangout for him and his crew? I doubt it. All the talk and press he’s getting about how “different” this project is going to be – thats all going to fall completely flat if it turns out this is just another high dollar private joint none of us will ever get a chance to play. Golf has enough of those kind of places already.

  9. CrashTestDummy

    Oct 25, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    It looks like a great design and concept. Hopefully, it makes money and is successful, but it is at a time where many golf courses are closing which makes any new golf course risky.

  10. Caroline

    Oct 25, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Such a great article about something 90% of golfers in California know nothing about…all we have is public courses closing all the time because water is to expensive and courses cannot not make a nickle…so sell the land and build warehouses for Amazon and others or like by me build more houses…..cost 30 million or more to build a public course, cost 3 or 4 million to buy one that will make nothing after paying for maintenance..let course run down force city to allow zoning change and close course build houses….same thing is happening in Las Vegas they close a course let the area turn to weeds, home owners that bought near a golf course fight to keep land a golf course but end up giving in to owners of land to build rather then look out over the desert weed patch…

    • Jeannie Bragg

      Oct 25, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      Trust me the same thing happens in the Grand Strand area of SC

    • Peter Schmitt

      Oct 26, 2018 at 9:13 am

      Fair comment and I think I would address it and CrashTestDummy’s above you by saying that a big reason a lot of courses are struggling is that, in my humble opinion, they’re all really kind of the same. Throwing together another rubber stamped golf course design and dressing it up with pretty water features is what gets you another course that struggles. They all just kind of taste like chicken after a while.

      Sweetens Cove is the antithesis of that and I would imagine The Buck Club will be something like SC on steroids. I have pretty high hopes personally. Admittedly, it may or may not be for everybody (it’s not even built yet so who knows), but I would imagine those looking to go deeper down the golf rabbit hole will be head over heels…

  11. T. Harris

    Oct 25, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    So glad to see King Collins on this project. Rob Collins is an incredibly inspired and talented designer…the final result will no doubt be spectacular!

  12. JasonHolmes

    Oct 25, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    ZB still wont answer the question as to whether or not the public will even be allowed to play at his course. Is he raising money on the backs of people buying $100 shirts – all so he can build some exclusive hideaway?

    Or is this going to be a course people can actually play?

    Because it seems disingenuous as hell if he’s going to keep pumping out hats and shirts to his followers on Twitter – only to turn around and make a completely private club.

    Any time anyone asks him, he says something like he’s trying to “figure it out”. What does that even mean? If he can’t even answer that simple question, to me that says it all. Why cant someone in the press actually push him on this? Otherwise you are doing exactly what he wants – providing more free marketing.

    • Doug

      Oct 25, 2018 at 8:48 pm

      On a recent podcast he said there would be rate levels for local, national, and international memberships. He also thought that it would be pretty open for guests to get to with a member with the thought that people will like it so much they might just become a member.

      Typically national memberships are much more affordable than local clubs because they know you can’t use them much. But then you have to pay for travel.

      I, and I suspect you, would much prefer a mixed option that would include a higher priced daily rate – eg Bandon Dunes – but how many people would buy even a “cheap” national membership at $3k if you could play 18 for $275?

      • Rick

        Oct 26, 2018 at 12:56 am

        Nice, very sad there are plenty of high level courses for people that can pay $275 or more…as golf is becoming more and more a game of kings (rich) as they want it to be. What is sad is there are so few courses under $40 dollars that the average Joe and jill can play..Biggest joke in the Country is the First Tee…thousands of kids learning to play with free clubs, range balls and even rounds of golf…then they turn 16-18 and are ask to pay a $40 green fee or $10 for a bucket of range balls and 99.9% of them are through with golf….

        • Peter Schmitt

          Oct 26, 2018 at 10:48 am

          I agree good golf that’s affordable is hard to find, but I will submit that there are options if you’re willing to look hard enough and have an open mind in the process. There’s a Pete Dye muni here in KY that costs me $12 to walk 18 on the weekends as a veteran. Sweetens Cove has an all day walking rate on the weekend for $60 to play as much golf as you can stomach in one day. I’m not saying TBC will be in that ballpark (or that it won’t for that matter). Just that good, affordable golf isn’t dead yet…though I’ll admit it isn’t going to be served up on a silver platter.

    • Peter Schmitt

      Oct 26, 2018 at 9:35 am

      I think the reason he hasn’t explicitly stated a response to that is because he honestly hasn’t decided yet. Simple as that. Could go in a bunch of different directions and last I heard he was still batting ideas back and forth. FWIW, I trust him. We don’t go way back or anything. I just met him last weekend and have talked to him for probably less than an hour total, but I came away thinking (1) he “gets it” and (2) I genuinely think this could be special. YMMV of course. Just one man’s opinion…

    • Blake

      Oct 26, 2018 at 5:15 pm

      He literally said there would be a way for the public to play this

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News

Morning 9: Two Gloves | Caddies push for sponsor $ again | “The true Sergio” | Phil moving to Phlorida

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
January 16, 2020
Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
**Drop me a line (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com) if you’d like to talk about getting your message in front of the M9 readership.**

 

1. Two gloves, one important win
You’d be forgiven for forgetting the detail, as it very deliberately wasn’t mentioned on the telecast…
  • Golfweek’s Todd Kelly…”Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, arrested in December in Florida and charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly soliciting prostitution as part of a major prostitution and human-trafficking sting, won the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour season opener on Wednesday.”
  • “Gainey rebounded from a second-round 75 with a 67-69 finish to win The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay by four shots over John Oda and Dylan Wu.”
2. After bombs, the Champions Tour
The Desert Sun’s Larry Bohannon…”I have to make sure that I’m ready when I get here, that I’m not going to find my game here because there’s some responsibilities,” said Mickelson, who takes on the job as host of the 61st American Express.
  • “A two-time winner of the tournament and a runner-up last year, Mickelson is expanding his role after three years as the ambassador of the event, a behind-the-scenes job to talk the tournament up to fellow players.”
3. Caddies (again) push for share of sponsorship $$
Paul Sullivan for the New York Times (if you’ll remember, a group of PGA Tour caddies PGA sued the Tour in 2015 for a cut of sponsorship revenue)
  • “Starting this season, that value will be acknowledged on the European Tour. Caddies will be paid, through the caddie association, to have a logo on items associated with their trade, like a hat, bag strap, towel, even yardage books. As it stands now, a player pays the caddie a weekly fee, mostly to cover expenses, and a percentage of his earnings, which could be as high as 10 percent for a win.”
  • “The new agreement is meant to help all caddies, particularly those carrying bags for lesser-known players, because those players make fewer cuts and their caddies struggle without the percentage.”
  • “This is not for the guy who caddies for the seventh-ranked player in the world, since he does very nicely,” said Sean Russell, the chairman of the European Tour Caddies Association and a professional caddie. “This is for the guy who caddies for the 157th-ranked player. If you do the math, that caddie probably earned 12,000 euros (about $13,000) in bonus payments over the fixed fee for the week that covers expenses. If you’re earning a 12,000-euro bonus you’d be better off stacking shelves.”
4. “The true Sergio”
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…”According to Garcia, who kept his reported $640,000 appearance fee despite being disqualified, this year will be different. For starters, he reportedly waived his appearance fee.”
  • “I feel terrible about what happened last year,” said Garcia ahead of this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. “Obviously there were some outside things that got me to that point.”
  • “You know, I want to go there,” Garcia added, referring to Saudi Arabia. “I want to show my respect to them. You know, the easy thing would have been for me to hide and never come back there. But I love the people there, and I love the guys, all the people we met and everyone that takes care of us during the tournament. They are amazing people, and they wanted me to go back.”
5. Pick a tour
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”To maintain membership on the European Tour, a player like Paul Casey must participate in four events, excluding the World Golf Championships and majors, which are co-sanctioned by both tours. In the past that requirement has been lessened by a regulation that allows players to count starts in unofficial events like the Ryder Cup, but that loophole appears to have been closed slightly.”
“Under the European Tour’s membership rules players can count just one start in either the Ryder Cup, Olympics or Presidents Cup as part of their membership requirement.”
6. Noh returns
Hoggard again…”Seung-Yul Noh returns to the PGA Tour this week at The American Express following two years of mandatory military service in South Korea.”
  • “It’s exciting because I feel like I just started as a pro (when he began his military service). Getting to see a lot of friends on Tour, it’s just exciting right now,” said Noh, who played twice on the Korean Tour last fall to prepare for his return.
  • “Noh last played a Tour event in October 2017″

Full piece.

7. A step toward equal pay
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”A credit to Aussie imagination and audacity, the Vic Open was added to the LPGA schedule for the first time last year. While it may have been the LPGA’s smallest purse ($1.1 million), it was the tour’s biggest idea. Once again, male and female pros will tee it up at 13th Beach Golf Links in Victoria and play the same courses at the same time for the same amount of prize money. It was a mustard seed of an idea that is spreading, with the European Tour and Ladies European Tour teaming to co-sanction the Scandinavian Mixed tournament in Sweden this summer. Male and female tour pros will compete against each other there for the same purse and the same trophy.”
8. Taking his talents to South Florida
…and away from the taxman!
“Mickelson confirmed to GolfChannel.com Wednesday at The American Express that his family closed on a lot on Jupiter Island, Fla., on Dec. 23 and he hopes to begin construction soon.
  • “Mickelson, who is the host of this week’s event, said the family’s current plan is to move to Florida after his youngest child, Evan, graduates from high school in a year and a half.”
9. Bryson rips Brooks lack of ripped-ness!
Christopher Powers at Golf Digest…”DeChambeau, who has spent his off-season bulking up (just ask him about it), dumped more gas on the fire during a Twitch stream on Wednesday. In the clip below, he’s presumably talking about Koepka when he states “in [ESPN’s] Body Issue he didn’t even have any abs, I can tell you that. I got some abs.”
@LukeKerrDineen on Twitter…
“Yea I weigh more than him now. Significantly more.”
“Did you see the body issue? He didn’t have any abs. I have abs.”
“We don’t talk about it. We just don’t see eye to eye.”

 

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Morning 9: Feinstein: Don’t give up on Phil | PGA Tour pace-of-play policy | Golf Channel’s top 25 moments

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
January 14, 2020
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. Email me with your pace-of-play solutions in professional golf!
**Drop me a line (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com) if you’d like to talk about getting your message in front of the M9 readership.**

 

1. Don’t give up on Lefty!
So cautions John Feinstein after examining the record of modern professional golf in general and Philip Alfred Mickelson in particular…
  • “So, as he begins the year in which he will turn 50, at an event he has won twice, is it time to write off the man his myriad of fans love to call Lefty? Even though he’s actually right-handed?”
  • “History says no.”
  • “Golfers are frequently written off prematurely (see Woods, Eldrick T. and Nicklaus, Jack as prime examples) largely because they can re-find their game well into their 40s, long after most stars in other sports have retired to spouting clichés from a TV booth.”
  • “Mickelson was 33 before he won his first major title and had been labeled a guy who could win non-majors, contend in majors and make huge money off the golf course, but couldn’t win on a Sunday that truly mattered. He had 16 top-10s in majors, including a second in the U.S. Open; a second in the PGA and four thirds in the Masters-including three years in a row-2001, 2002 and 2003. He was frequently on or around the podium, but never at the top of it.”
2. Golf Channel’s most impactful moments since its inception
Hard to believe Golf Channel is 25 years old/hard to believe Golf Channel is only 25 years old all at once. How many years ago did they drop the “The”…I don’t remember…
Anyway…
Here’s the complete list, 1-25, of Golf Channel’s most impactful moments over the last quarter-century.
1.Tiger Woods wins 1997 Masters by 12 shots
2.Tiger Woods wins 2000 U.S. Open by 15 shots
3.Tiger Woods completes Tiger Slam (2000 U.S. Open – 2001 Masters)
4.Arnold Palmer passes away at age 87
5.Tom Watson nearly wins 2009 Open at age 59
6.Solid-core ball developed
7.Tiger Woods wins 2008 U.S. Open on one leg
8.Tiger Woods ends major drought at 2019 Masters
9.Tiger Woods wins third straight U.S. Amateur and then says, ‘Hello, world’
10.Rory McIlroy recovers from Masters collapse, wins 2011 U.S. Open by eight shots
3. The PGA Tour’s new pace-of-play policy
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“What’s not addressed…In Hawaii, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was adamant that the primary objective is not necessarily to speed up play. “A focus on time creates other problems,” Monahan said.”
  • “PGA Tour senior vice president and chief of operations Tyler Dennis confirmed that’s not the focus. “The overall round times haven’t really changed over the last 20 years,” Dennis said, citing research from historical ShotLink data. As such, these changes won’t address the amount of time it takes to play a round-especially on Thursdays and Fridays-or the difficulty some events face in finishing in the daylight.”
  • “So, what is the change? The hope is to modify the habits of players that are leading to the growing frustration of slow play. According to ShotLink data, the slowest 10 percent of players take an average of 63 seconds for shots around the greens, more than 25 seconds than that of their fastest 10 percent counterparts. Approach shots (55 seconds for the slowest 10 percent) are another area of frustration.”
4. PAC
Per Geoff Shackelford…”While GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard notes the inability of Bryson DeChambeau to have convinced caucus goers he was worthy of adding context to the council’s prime area of concern-slow play-I’m struck by the departure of Matt Kuchar. “
Press release…

For Immediate Release, the 2020 Slow Play Policy Advisory Council and players who have shown an ability to use their brain for other thoughts  besides those revolving around golf, I mean PAC:

PGA TOUR announces 2020 Player Advisory Council
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The PGA TOUR today announced the 16-member Player Advisory Council (PAC) for 2020. The PAC advises and consults with the PGA TOUR Policy Board (Board of Directors) and Commissioner Jay Monahan on issues affecting the TOUR.
2020 Player Advisory Council
Ryan Armour
Paul Casey
David Hearn
Harry Higgs
Charley Hoffman
Billy Horschel
Zach Johnson
Russell Knox
Anirban Lahiri
Peter Malnati
Rory McIlroy
Ryan Palmer
Jon Rahm
Kevin Streelman 
Justin Thomas
Harold Varner III
5. “I didn’t hit their shots” 
Via Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“Conversely, Palmer was not particularly apologetic about his part in this sequence.”
  • “On Sunday night, Palmer tweeted, “And for all those questioning the last hole, I’ll do it again next week so deal with it,” after his 18th hole bogey dropped him to T-4. He also sidestepped a question about why he didn’t hit a provisional, faux congratulating a Twitter user for “The Only Negative Tweet of the day Award”
  • “However, Palmer must have received similar questions about the provisional throughout the night, because on Monday morning he responded that the final-hole adventures of Steele and Smith weren’t his fault, remarking “I didn’t hit their shots!”
(And on Twitter) @RyanPalmerPGA: I didn’t hit their shots!!
6. 3 putts from 4 feet, minus $100K
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…“Lost in the craziness of Sunday night’s wild finish at the Sony Open was a most disappointing end to an otherwise-solid week for Collin Morikawa.”
  • “Morikawa, who won his first PGA Tour title as a non-member last summer at the Barracuda Championship, was 1 over for the day but appeared headed for a final round of even-par 70 as he stared down a short putt for birdie at the par-5 18th.”
  • “Instead, he three-putted from 4 feet, racing the first putt by the hole and lipping out the comebacker for bogey and a round of 2-over 72.”

Full piece.

7. Open champ exemption for LAA winner
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta again…”For the first time in the Latin America Amateur Championship’s six-year history, its winner will receive an exemption into the game’s oldest major.”
  • “The event, which has offered a Masters invitation to its winner every year since its inception in 2015, will now also offer a spot in The Open Championship.”
  • “We are delighted to offer a place in The Open for the winner of the 2020 Latin America Amateur Championship,” Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, said in a statement.
8. The world’s highest golf tournament!
Golf Digest’s Oliver Horovitz on teeing it up in the Himalayas…
  • “Listen, Ollie, I’ve got some exciting news. There’s going to be a major golf event here very soon. The world’s highest golf tournament….
  • It will be played up at Kongde Ri. That’s 14,000 feet. We’re going up in choppers.”…There’s a pause, then Deepak arrives at his main point…”I think you should come over for it.”
  • “I first visited Nepal in April 2016, with my friends Miles and Vlad. After trekking to Everest Base Camp, we put together an article on Nepal’s little-known golf scene. There are six courses in Nepal, including Royal Nepal Golf Club and the wonderfully named Yak Golf Club, Himalayan Golf Course and Nirvana Country Club. There are 700 golfers, of which one in 10 is a professional, earning cards at an annual Q school for the Professional Golf Tour of Nepal.”

Full piece.

9. XR vs. a golf course
Via bunkered…”The climate change pressure group Extinction Rebellion has been branded “unreasonable” after it protested for a golf course in Brighton to be closed for “re-wilding”.”
  • “Stephen Garrioch, the captain of Hollingbury Golf Club, hit out at the group after its activists staged a protest in the East Sussex town at the weekend.”
  • “The campaigners are calling upon Brighton and Hove Council, which operates the facility, to abandon the course and let it grow naturally to encourage wildlife.”

Full piece.

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Tour Rundown: Sony Open Twilight Zone, Grace under pressure

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The 2nd weekend in January of 2020 marked the return of multiple events during a single week. Granted, one was rescheduled from 6 weeks past, another began on Saturday (and will conclude tomorrow), a third was an unfortunate swamp…DOESN”T MATTER! Televised golf that counts is back, and we’re watching! One of the world’s finest percussionists, Neil Peart of RUSH, left this world last week. In a salute to his mastery, find tributes to his songs scattered throughout this piece. With a heavy, non-golf heart, let’s read Tour Rundown for Monday, January 13th, 2o2o.

Sony Open’s Twilight-Zone ending leaves lots of head scratching

Not all comebacks end in victory, nor do all golf tournaments end in logic. Consider the 2nd part before the first: squeegees on the 18th green, golf balls ricocheting off bleachers, delays of over 10 minutes for the final group. It’s really no surprise that Brendan Steele had trouble navigating the closing stretch at Waialae Country Club. Some of it was his undoing, but much of it wasn’t. Steele came into the week in a massive slump, and led until the final putt, when he suddenly didn’t. And yet, to come so close to victory and not drink from the cup, is still a comeback. And perhaps that can suffice for now.

Steele had a one-shot lead, and was standing in the middle of the 18th fairway, iron in hand. Exuberance gave way to a snapping hook, and his approach sailed over the grandstands. After a drop area was decided, the leader was unable to pitch far enough, to avoid the casual channel of water that traversed the final putting surface. Steele could only 2-putt, and hope that Smith would not make birdie (spoiler alert: he did.)

The victor, Cameron Smith, was able to make up 2 shots on Steele over the inward nine. He birdied the 18th to reach 11 under par, and off the two golfers went to the 10th tee. Why not 18, you ask? Recall, if you will, the condition of the closing hole. It was quite messy, with sloppy turf along most of its 551 yards. The 10th is a wee drive and pitch, but it gave Steele fits. He drove his ball in the fairway, while Smith missed wide right. The Aussie played a remarkable recovery, onto the green, not far from the hole. With a tiny wedge in his hand, Steele gunned his approach far beyond the green, precisely where he didn’t need to be. Unable to get the ball up and down, Steele’s bogey was no match for Smith’s 2-putt par, and the Aussie had his first PGA Tour title.

Webb Simpson and Ryan Palmer found themselves in contention, in the penultimate group. Simpson made a par to total -10, one putt shy of the playoff. Palmer’s finish was as bizarre as Steele’s. Palmer slammed his approach, from a fairway bunker, off the video board, over the grandstands, straight into a bogey. In one swing he went from potential playoff participant to 4th place tie. Can golf on the mainland possibly equal this? Doubtful.

South African Open victory completes journey of Grace under pressure

Within his home country of South Africa, Branden Grace had won every event of note but one: the Open championship. On Sunday, the 31-year old closed the trophy cabinet with a 3-shot victory over Louis Oosthuizen, winning his country’s national title at the Randpark golf club in Johannesburg. The victory moved him into the early lead in the 2020 Race To Dubai, the European Tour’s season-long points race.

Inspired, perhaps, by the sublime 62 of Marcus Armitage on Saturday, Grace teed off on Sunday and posted a 62 of his own. Two items stand out from that performance: he was actually +1 through 2 holes; and he did all his damage in an eleven-hole stretch. Grace made bogey at the 2nd to fall a stroke farther behind the overnight leader. Then, in a 2.5 hour bottle, Grace caught lightning. Birdies at holes 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 through 14, in addition to an eagle at the 4th, lopped a massive 10 shots off his tally, pushing him beyond 20-under par.

Oosthuizen had an eagle of his own. A perfectly-judged tee shot on the par-3 8th hole, played dangerously close to disaster, found the bottom of the cup. The 2010 Open champion had, incredibly, zero bogeys on the day. Unfortunately, he was able to pair just one birdie with the ace, finishing at a frustrating 18-under par. As for Armitage, had he visited a fortune teller before the start, he would have learned that he would stand over a critical putt on the week’s last green. No, not for the title, but for an automatic bid to the 2020 Open Championship, at Royal St. George’s in July. The Englishman drained a 20-feet putt for birdie, finished in solo 3rd position, and punched his ticket to the south of England this summer.

Hong Kong Open decided after 6-week delay

Wade Ormsby of Australia began his 2020 in the most proper way; he claimed the Asian Tour’s Hong Kong Open with a 4- shot triumph. The journey to conclusion began in November of 2019, when the tournament was originally scheduled. Anti-government protests were sufficient enough for tournament organizers to authorize a postponement. 1.5 months later, the event was contested at the Hong Kong golf club.

No one was more on-form this week, than the soon-to-turn-40 Ormsby. He opened with 65, for a share of the lead, then stitched a quilt of 66s the remainder of the week. Gunn Charoenkul of Thailand stood 2 back of the Aussie on day four, and closed to within a shot when the leader made bogey at the first on Sunday. Right the ship? Indeed. Ormsby birdied holes 2-4 and added another at the 9th, to turn in 31 and remind followers that it had always been his week. Charoenkul admirably stood strong, finishing in 3rd place 5 behind the champion.

It was the 2019 Champion Golf of the Year, Shane Lowry, who provided the fittest challenge of the day. Lowry closed within 1 of the week’s low round (63) with a 64 of his own. Standing 6 under on the day through 14, the Irishman had closed with a pair of strokes of the leader. Ormsby and Lowry each had bogeys at the daunting, par 4 15th hole. The 5 effectively ended Lowry’s challenge, as Ormsby was unlikely to fritter away his lead.

The title was Ormsby’s 2nd Hong Kong Open win in 3 years. Among notable competitors, American Tony Finau finished 5th at 10 below par. Rashid Khan of Indonesia, compiler of the aforementioned 63, claimed 6th place after closing with 70. The Asian Tour resumes play this week at the Singapore Open, at the Sentosa golf club. Enter the warrior, today’s Wade Ormsby.

Tournament of Champions to Thomas in energy-crackling finish

Although it took place last week, the PGA Tour’s annual TOC earned a look this week, thanks to its unanticipated and dramatic finish. It’s rare when a PGA Tour player misses a driving range, but that’s what Justin Thomas did with his 2nd at the par-5 18th hole on Sunday. From certain victory in regulation, Thomas tugged his fairway metal (which he didn’t need to hit) on the widest fairway in golf, into the native gunge left. The ensuing penalty forced him to get up and down from 75 yards for par and victory. Well, that didn’t happen, either. Off went Thomas and equal-parts-stunned-and-delighted Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed to the 18th tee. Thomas and Reed negotiated birdies, which eliminated Xander’s par. Playoff part two at the same hole dealt pars from the middle of the deck to the survivors, so back to the hilltop they went, for a 4th go (including regulation) at the long yet reachable par five. Thomas made birdie and watched as Reed could only make par. The win was Thomas’ 12th on tour, and 3rd in a playoff.

Much was learned with the resumption of the 2019-2020 PGA Tour season in Kapalua: Brendon Todd’s incredible run of top-five finishes came to an end (he placed 29th); Joaquin Niemann can play better than he did at Royal Melbourne (where he didn’t help the International Team a lick); and for Kapalua’s Plantation course to truly defend itself against the pros, it needs backward winds (which it got); brand-new greens (with new breaks, to stump the gods); and fairways that don’t run out (that will change as the redone turf firms up.) In other words, by 2022, Kapalua should be Kapalua again.

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