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GolfWRX Morning 9: An “unprecedented” PGA Tour program | Ranking TW’s majors | PGA of America packing its bags for Texas

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

December 5, 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Hello, Frisco!
AP Report…”The PGA of America is leaving Florida for a $520 million development in the Dallas area with two golf courses that will bring major championship golf back to Texas.
  • “The decision Tuesday followed approval by the Frisco City Council and other government entities. The PGA of America, for four decades based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, initially plans to employ at least 100 people at its new headquarters.”
  • “The move is not expected until the summer of 2022.”
  • “Under the agreement, the PGA Championship will be held on one of the two courses in 2027 and 2034. The agreement also brings the Senior PGA Championship twice, the Women’s PGA Championship twice and possibly a Ryder Cup.”
And here’s the lead to the actual press release…”The PGA of America is moving its headquarters from Palm Beach County, Florida to Frisco, Texas, the ‘2018 Best Place to Live in America,’* where it will anchor a 600-acre, mixed-use development with an initial investment worth more than half a billion dollars.”
  • “Today’s announcement follows votes by the Frisco City Council, its Economic and Community Development Corporations and the Frisco Independent School District (FISD) board of trustees. The PGA of America will initially employ at least 100 people at the Frisco-based headquarters.”
  • “Under this agreement, two PGA Championships, two KPMG Women’s PGA Championships and potentially a Ryder Cup will be held in Frisco.”
  • “This groundbreaking agreement is estimated to have an economic impact of more than $2.5 billion over the next 20 years based on a city commissioned tourism feasibility study.** The study considered the economics of golf course activities, including tournaments, plus the additional impact from the new conference center.”
See the full release here…along with Geoff Shackelford’s comi-cynical commentary.
2. Tour drafting program
Brentley Romine writes…”Golfweek has learned about an exciting new venture the PGA Tour is working on that will have a huge impact on the sport….”The PGA Tour has been working to develop a new program that will identify, prepare and transition top collegiate golfers to professional golf,” according to a Tour statement sent to Golfweek. “This program will be designed to reward season-long collegiate play with varying levels of playing access to tours operated under the PGA Tour umbrella, while upholding the principles and virtues of collegiate athletics.”
  • “In other words, the best college golfers would be guaranteed status on one of several tours, ranging from PGA Tour China to the PGA Tour.”
  • “Few details have been finalized, and a timetable for the system’s launch is unknown. But the Tour acknowledged this is happening, and there are significant resources devoted to the project. The Tour already is working in collaboration with its policy board, player advisory councils and other stakeholders. It also has asked for feedback from various governing bodies, the NCAA and college coaches.”
3. Can you really tell the difference between golf balls?
Excellent stuff from David Dusek as he examines the reality of golfers who don’t care what balls they play/feel it doesn’t matter/they can’t tell anyway.
  • He writes…”Unfortunately, even among many good players such as this person, the sentiment is far too common. Today’s balls feature two-, three-, four- and even five-layer constructions, with some having Surlyn covers and others sporting urethane covers. Some balls have low compressions and others have high compressions, and nearly every ball has a unique dimple pattern.”
  • “Yet many golfers cling to the cliché that golf balls are just white, round and found on the ground. It’s not true, but most players don’t test golf balls and compare performance from different models, so they don’t know.”
4. Newsmakers
As it’s that time of year, namely, the end of it, Golf Channel is rounding up the top newsmakers of 2018.
They start with No. 10…Francesco Molinari.
  • Rex Hoggard writes…”If we were making a list of 100 potential newsmakers at the start of the year, Francesco Molinari may not have made the cut. Heck, the same straw poll taken in early May would have turned up nary an Italian mention.”
  • “But after laying waste to the competition on both sides of the Atlantic for a summer and capping it with a Ryder Cup to remember, Molinari comes in at No. 10 on our list of the biggest newsmakers of 2018.”
  • “The narrative on Molinari had seemingly been written for a few years: soft-spoken, elite ball-striker, goes about his business and occasionally pops up to snag a trophy or two. He was nearly two years removed from his last worldwide win and wasn’t even garnering much Ryder Cup consideration as spring blossomed. When he missed the cut at The Players in May, he left TPC Sawgrass at No. 33 in the world rankings and still in search of his first top-10 finish of the year. Good, sure, but hardly newsworthy.”
  • “But at age 35, Molinari flipped a switch and condensed the best golf of his life into a torrid six-month stretch.”
5. Assistant Captain Watson?
Doug Ferguson writes…”I have been bugging Mr. Tiger Woods about being a vice captain for Australia,” Watson said. ”I would love the honor of doing that again. The reason why is I feel like I can service. For me personally, I have more enjoyment serving 12 guys than playing.”
  • “Watson was No. 7 in the world ranking, and No. 9 in the Ryder Cup standings, when he was left off the team. Davis Love III wound up bringing him to Hazeltine as another vice captain, and Watson thrived in his role.”
  • ”I always bug Tiger,” Watson said. ”He says, ‘You need to be playing.’ I said, ‘Look, man, we’ve never won a Ryder Cup with me playing, but we’ve won when I wasn’t playing. So me and you need to be captain and vice captains.’ That’s our joke. I’ve told him, ‘Listen, I’ll do anything to help you if you want me. If you don’t, that’s fine.”’
6. Exploring Ireland, Pt. 2
Our Gianni Magliocco continues his series looking at golfing, dining, and hotel options on the Emerald Isle.
  • Here’s his course recommendation in Donegal…”My pick for the top golf course to visit in the county is the Old Tom Morris Links, situated within the Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort.”
  • “In 1891, while a guest of Lord Leitrim, Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews decided to visit Donegal, and in typical Tom Morris fashion, he believed that it was the ideal location to build a championship course. What Morris created was a course with wide rolling fairways and magnificent greens that have stood the test of time.”
  • “The course was renovated twice before a new Strand Nine opened in 2009 which now plays as the front nine of the Old Tom Morris Links. The addition gives the course a wonderful mix of a traditional and modern links feel.”
  • “The challenging course plays over 6,900 yards from the back tees, and only offers up the relief of three par-fives. The challenge can also become even more daunting should the wind blow, and being situated along “The Wild Atlantic Way,” you should expect nothing less.”
7. Power ranking Tiger’s 14 majors
Over at Golfweek, as we’re all running out of content this time of year, they’re power ranking Tiger Woods’ 14 major wins.
  • “No. 2…2008 U.S. Open…Just unbelievable drama in this one where Woods provided so many insane moments in regulation alone, including draining a 12-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole to force a playoff. Then it took the full 18-hole playoff plus a sudden-death hole to decide it. By the way, he did it all on a torn ACL and with stress fractures in his leg. This one had everything.”
  • No. 1…1997 Masters…Woods’ first major win was his greatest because his remarkable 12-shot romp was not only an amazing coming out party, it also had so much social meaning with an African-American blitzing a field at Augusta National. In terms of the combination of everything here, it’s doubtful anything will ever top this.”
8. SG:OTT leaders
E. Michael Johnson rounded up the leaders in strokes gained: off the tee from the fall swing and took a look at the weaponry they’re using to do their damage.
  • A sample…”Cameron Champ…Driver: Ping G400 Max, 9 degrees…Strokes gained/off the tee: 1.483 In just his second start on the PGA Tour, Cameron Champ birdied five of the final six holes to win the Sanderson Farms Championship. As he has most of the year, Champ ranked near the top of the strokes gained/tee-to-green stat that week (he ranked second, picking up nearly six strokes on the field). Champ’s driver is Ping’s G400 Max. Champ’s club is a 9-degree head but set at 7.9 degrees with a 45-inch Fujikura Pro 63 TS shaft, tipped 1.5 inches. The club has four grams of weight on the toe, providing a slight fade bias, and a 16-gram backweight to assist launch as well as four grams of weight near the face to lower spin.”
  • “C.T. Pan…Driver: TaylorMade M4, 9.5 degrees…Strokes gained/off the tee: 1.460 A former Nike staff player, C.T. Pan now uses TaylorMade’s M4 driver. Pan started the year using an M4 with a Ozik Matrix Black Tie MFS M5 60X shaft but now employs a Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec Blue shaft 6S shaft in the club. Pan has the adjustable hosel set one click in the lower setting, bringing the loft slightly down.”
9. A noble man bun sacrifice
I’m always happy to to see a man bun go, but even more so in the case of Jake McCleod. Credit to the Aussie pro for using his manbunectomy to raise $5K for the Jarrod Lyle Trust.
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Rating the Zurich Classic walk-up songs

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On Saturday at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, for the second year, teammates are choosing walk-up songs for their first tee ball.

There is some good, some bad, and some painfully predictable. The teams are dynamic enough, but seeing their song selection really brings a new level of personal insight. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the hits.

The Good

Steve Stricker/Jerry Kelly: As Good as I Once Was – Toby Keith

This is, perfect. All I see is an Italian chef kissing their hands to this selection, sheer perfection. Self deprecation, confidence and an overall great song. I have to imagine Jerry Kelly came up with this and Stricker tried to argue he’s still in his prime.

Tommy Fleetwood/Sergio Garcia: Radio Gaga – Queen

Queen, so hot right now. Winner of nearly every Oscar, these Ryder Cup teammates kept it current with Queen while selecting a deeper cut. Somewhere, Francesco Molinari is looking at Instagram posts of this pairing and wondering what went wrong.

The Local:

Stephen Jaeger/J.T. Poston: Callin’ Baton Bouge – Garth Brooks

Roberto Castro/Cameron Tringale – Born on the Bayou – Creedence Clearwater Revival

As long as nobody googled, “songs about New Orleans” prior to selection, these are fair game and a sure fan favorite on number one.  What are the real chances any of these guys have ever heard these songs prior to Saturday? 10%? I have to assume smooth, hotel elevator jazz not available?

Bubba Watson/JB Holes – When the Saints Go Marching In – Louis Armstrong

Now we’re talking. This is my favorite of the locals group. Perfectly awkward yet funny Bubba. Can’t you just picture Bubba dancing like the WB frog with a top hat on while teeing up? “You’re welcome.”

The On-Brand

Henrik Stenson/Graeme McDowell: Wake Me Up – Avicii

Swedish, check. Banger, check. Sentimental value, check (Avicii passed tragically just over a year ago). Potential to turn the bleachers into a full rave, check. My money is on the rhythmic three-wood of Henrik Stenson all weekend and my personal favorite song of the lot.

Brooks Koepka/Chase Koepka: Bad Boys for Life – P. Diddy

This is somehow hilarious and terrifying at the exact same time. Something about brotherhood makes this song hit even more. If Brooks and Chase are not wearing black sunglasses strutting to the tee in Nike schmediums, just call the whole thing off. (Would have liked to see Brooks choose “Centerfield” by John Fogerty, because you know, he really likes baseball better).

Adam Scott/Jason Day: Suicide Blonde – INXS

The Aussies stick together, and stick with their bands. That is truly all I know about this song so I’ll move on.

Padraig Harrington/Shane Lowry: I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphy’s

Not sure if this leads to good golf or a good round of irish car bomb’s, or just one followed by the other. Either way, a near certainty that this is the first time this song was selected by a sober person, for a sober group.

The Bizzare

Carlos Ortiz/Sebastian Munoz: Ground Theme – Super Mario Bros.

While this should be funny, I can’t help but assume they couldn’t think of any good songs, or have vastly different tastes in music. Great in theory but imagine following Bad Boys for Life with Mario sound effects., and then being outdriven by 30 yards.

The Hazards to Spectators

John Rahm/Ryan Palmer: Enter Sandman – Metallica

Exactly what John Rahm needs on the first tee. Metallica.

The Biased

Kenny Perry/Josh Teater – Renegade – Styx

As a die-hard Steelers fan, I’m unfit to judge this. (The Steelers play Renegade as a pump-up in the fourth quarter and it works against players not named Tom Brady). With that being said, if Kenny Perry is able to time up contact with the hard-hitting drums in this song, he might blast it a country mile.

The Off the Grid

Pat Perez/Jason Dufner: Bazanji – 2019

I had very high expectations for these two. Personality for days. I could see Perez with an entire room for his music collection, and Jordan’s. To be transparent, I had to google the song. It is however, as expected, a jam. Only these two could be cooler than the entire song selection process.

The Just Why

Baby Shark – Pinkfong
Joel Dahmen/Brandon Harkins
Michael Kim/C.T. Pan

I’m not going to even research it, but there’s simply no way any of these four have children. If they did, the last thing they want reminded of on the first tee is their one-year-old crying at 5:00 a.m. for Baby Shark (do doo do do do do). However, LET’S GO HUNT, is a great mindset for golf. So there’s that.

The Eye on the Prize

Andrew Putnam/Max Homa – Trophies – Drake

Speaking of a good mentality… This crew chose an underrated Drake song with a perfect vibe and first note. Homa might be the funniest and best golf follow on Twitter, and even he went for swagger over humor. When your song is literally called trophies, your odds have to improve slightly.

The Basic

Old Town Road – Lil Nas X
Troy Merrit/Robert Streb
Harold Varner III/Tom Lovelady
Colt Knost/Boo Weekly
Adam Schenk/Tyler Duncan

Hate to see it. Each one of these teams even thought for a moment, this will be great, it’s viral and ironic. Just hate to see it.

For the record, if I was any good at golf and had a partner who obliged, I’d select Mac Miller’s The Spins, because Mac is the best and the first verse is as good as Hip Hop gets.

You can take a look at the full list for yourself here 

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Wednesday’s photos from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational

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GolfWRX is live from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational at Naples National Golf Club, which will be contested April 26-28. Past winners of the amateur event include Justin Thomas and Emiliano Grillo.

Denny Glass, chairman of the Terra Cotta Invitational, was kind enough to give us a little more information about the tournament.

For GolfWRX members who aren’t familiar, tell me a little bit about the tournament and its history

Glass: The Terra Cotta Invitational began in 1996 and was originally a combination stroke play/match play event. 20 players were invited and they played 36 holes of stroke play then the top four finishers went on to match play with the others playing an 18 hole consolation match.

I changed it to a 54-hole stroke play event with 50 players in 2006 when I took over as Tournament Chair. This was done to be eligible for Titleist/Golfweek Amateur Ranking Points. The field increased over the years and now has 75-81 players. The tournament is now ranked as a “B” level event in the WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings) run by the USGA and R&A. This ranking is one level below the top-ranked events in the world. The WAGR rankings are based on the strength of the field so we are proud to be ranked so highly.

As it’s an invitational tournament, can you tell me a bit about who gets invited in general and who’s in the field this year, specifically? Tournament format?

Glass: It is an invitational so we invite as many of the top-ranked amateur players as are available. The field consists of many juniors (up to age 18), mid-amateurs (19-25) and some seniors (50+), along with collegiate players. While it is an invitational, we still receive more than 150 applications to play.

Can you talk about the host course and the relationship with Naples National?

The tournament is played at Naples National Golf Club. The tournament was started by the membership back in 1996. The club opened in 1993. The club hosted the World Championship of Golf, which was an LPGA event in its second year.

I know the charitable impact is important. Can you tell us about that?

The net proceeds are donated to Naples based children’s focused charities. The tournament has donated over $517,000 since it began.

Wednesday’s photos

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Winner of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge to receive a 1973 Dodge Challenger Restomod

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Under new sponsorship, the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge which takes place at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, will have a special prize on offer for its champion – a fully restored and customized 1973 Dodge Challenger.

The vehicle pays homage to the year which Schwab Corporation was founded and is equipped with tartan fabric seats and custom glacier blue paint. The car will serve as a complement to the Leonard Trophy and tartan jacket awarded each year at the tournament.

Charles Schwab worked in collaboration with Steve Strope of Pure Vision on the restoration process, and the car will be on display at Colonial throughout the tournament until it is presented to the winner on May 26.

The tournament runs from May 23-26. In 2018, Justin Rose won the event by three strokes.

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