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GolfWRX Morning 9: “Major” moments of 2018 | A death at Barry Burn? | Remembering John Harbottle

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

December 18, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. One week until Christmas, so if you haven’t posted your letters to the North Pole, you’d better get ’em in the mail.
1. Best major moments of 2018
Golf Channel staff assembled the best moments from the majors in 2018.
Here are a few…
  • Reed…”Patrick Reed broke through to win his first major championship at the Masters, and he outlasted some pretty big names in the final round to do it. Jordan Spieth (64), Rickie Fowler (67) and Jon Rahm (65) made Sunday runs, but Reed’s clutch birdie on No. 14 and four pars to close out his final-round 71 turned out to be enough to slip on the coveted green jacket. “
  • Ariya…”Ariya Jutanugarn started Sunday of the U.S. Women’s Open with a four-shot lead and looked like she might run away with the title after stretching the margin to seven on the opening nine holes. But a triple bogey on No. 10 rocked her confidence and back-to-back bogeys to close out her final-round 73 dropped her into a playoff with Hyo-Joo Kim. But Jutanugarn’s collapse came with a happy ending, as she hit a near-perfect bunker shot to clinch her second major title on the fourth playoff hole. Jutanugarn would go on to win the season-long Race to the CME Globe and $1,000,000 bonus, the LPGA Player of the Year award and the LPGA Vare Trophy.”
  • U.S. Open setup issues…”In what has become a familiar scene at the U.S. Open, one of the major storylines became the USGA’s course setup, particularly during Saturday’s third round. Several players voiced concerns about the sunbaked Shinnecock Hills greens, even mild-mannered Zach Johnson, who said “They’ve lost the golf course.” The USGA’s miscalculation made world-class players look like amateurs and they seemed to realize it … eventually. In an attempt to rectify the situation, grounds crews slowed the course down with unscheduled watering on Saturday night.”
2. A death at Barry Burn?
Jason Lusk at Golfweek with a wild, grim story…”A Scottish police officer was found dead in Barry Burn near Carnoustie Golf Links on Sunday, with tributes pouring in for the officer but no explanation as of yet as to how the man ended up in the water.”
  • “PC Dean Morrison, 40, of Police Scotland’s Tayside Division, was found around 12:40 p.m. local time near the famed golf course, according to multiple reports including from the BBC and the Daily Telegraph. Morrison had been an officer for 16 years.”
  • “Police are searching for a taxi driver who may have dropped off Morrison near the hotel the night before, but officials said there appear to be no suspicious circumstances. It took three hours for officials to recover Morrison’s body from the burn near the beach.”
  • “Dean was a highly respected officer, who was extremely well liked and popular with his colleagues. He was thoroughly professional in his work,” said Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd, Divisional Commander for Tayside Division, as reported by multiple news outlets. “His death is a great tragedy and he will be sadly missed by all who knew him and we will do all we can to support them during this distressing time.”
3. Double the Live
PGA Tour Live, now folded into NBC Sports Gold, will roll out 2x as much coverage in 2019.
  • Press release...”The PGA TOUR and NBC Sports Group announced that PGA TOUR LIVE, the PGA TOUR’s direct-to-consumer subscription video service that live streams extensive Featured Groups coverage of the best golfers in the world, has been enhanced and is now available for purchase in the United States on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product. PGA TOUR LIVE season passes are on sale now for an early-bird price of $49.99, available through the Desert Classic (Jan 17-20), while a monthly pass can be purchased for $9.99. After January 20, a season pass will cost $64.99.”
  • “In 2019, PGA TOUR LIVE will present the most robust service in its history, now with four days of live coverage from 27 PGA TOUR events, new 10-minute “Speed Round” recaps for Featured Groups players, expansive VOD content, and integrated scoring and statistics. It is also available on double the number of supported platforms vs. 2018.”
4. Golf Digest sale update…or not
Keith J. Kelly at the NY Post...”A deadline is looming “right before the holidays” for bids on the three magazines that Condé Nast is selling, W, Brides and Golf Digest.”
  • “Greenhill & Co. is said to be handling the divestment, working with Janine McGrath Shelffo, a former top executive at UBS who had worked on past deals for Condé’s parent company, Advance Publications, before joining as Advance’s chief strategy and development director earlier this year.”
  • “Among her deals was the sale of the Newhouse family’s cable operations, Bright House, to Charter Communications for $10.5 billion. It’s now part of Spectrum.”
  • “That deal is one reason that the Newhouse family, which controls Advance, is not under the same pressure as the profitable but eroding Time Inc. was in recent years before ultimately selling to Meredith.”
  • “But the family is clearly getting impatient with losses after domestic Condé Nast lost $120 million last year and is still bleeding red ink this year.”
5. Remembering Harbottle
Excellent piece  from Teresa Harbottle (with Golf Digest’s Keely Levins) remembering her husband, course architect John Harbottle, who died unexpectedly at 53.
  • She begins…”If you’ve played much golf in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah or California, there’s a good chance you’ve played a golf course my husband designed or renovated. In all, John Harbottle is credited with 15 original layouts and more than 45 remodels.”
  • “John and I met in college, at the University of Washington, and I remember when he told me he wanted to be a golf-course architect, my response was, “A golf course what?” It wasn’t something you heard people say they wanted to do. John chose architecture because he loved golf so much. He was raised in the game. His mother won the 1955 U.S. Women’s Amateur and competed against Alice Dye, the wife of famed golf-course architect Pete Dye. While in college, John wrote a letter to Pete, asking how to become a course architect, and Alice wrote back telling him to get a landscape-architecture degree and to call them when he was done.”
6. Little John!
Kevin Casey of Golfweek with a bit on Little John Daly following his strong play with pops at the Father/Son Challenge.
  • “Little John Daly dresses garishly like his dad and can summon power easily like the old man. But the teenager isn’t as vocal as the two-time major winner….That’s OK, because his clubs are doing the talking.”
  • “The 15-year-old had an impressive showing with his dad, John Daly, at this year’s PNC Father/Son Challenge at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. The duo led after the first round and finished T-2. The Dalys had finished T-9 at the event in 2016 and 2017.”
  • JD had this to say about his son’s abilities…”He’s so gifted with his hands around the greens, the way he putts,” the elder Daly said. “If you’re a great putter, you can score. Little John is a great ballstriker and great putter, so time will tell (about his potential).”
7. European Tour things we learned
EuropeanTour.com staff rounded up eight things we learned from the 2018 Euro Tour season. Here are two.
  • “Wallace’s star is on the rise…The remarkable rise of Matt Wallace shows no sign of losing pace. After raising eyebrows with five consecutive wins on the satellite Alps Tour in 2016, the Englishman won on the European Tour at the Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort in May 2017. The challenge was to kick on the following season and he did that in some style.”
  • “Wallace recorded three wins in 2018 – at the Hero Indian Open, the BMW International Open and the Made in Denmark – and capped off the season with a runner-up finish at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai to move into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking. He gave Thomas Bjørn food for thought when the Dane made his Captain’s Picks for The Ryder Cup in Paris, something unimaginable when the last edition took place across the Atlantic. The sky appears to be the limit for a player whose performances continue to impress.”
  • Molinari’s the real deal…”Francesco Molinari’s status as one of the world’s top players was already common knowledge. If any doubts lingered, they were extinguished in devastating fashion with his performances in 2018. He joined the decorated list of Rolex Series winners by winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, before becoming the Champion Golfer of the Year at Carnoustie. His Open Championship triumph made him the first Italian to win a Major Championship and he rounded the year off with the Race to Dubai crown.”
8. $500 Challenge: Mid-handicapper edition
Trey Buchanan is back with another effort to assemble a full set of clubs for under half a grand…”Last week, I posted about what clubs you can get with $500. I built a set that I would use myself to show that even golfers with particular specs can find what they want for a decent price. Overall the feedback on the post was good, but I did want to follow up since one of the commenters put me up to a challenge.”
  • Buchanan mentions a comment that suggested he wouldn’t be able to get a set of clubs with stiff, rather than extra stiff, shafts for less than $800.
  • His driver choice...”Since I was going to be building a set of a mid-handicapper, my goal was to find a driver that got solid distance, but was also forgiving. I found this R9 460 in 10.5 degrees for $65. While the paint has seen better days, this should perform exactly how we want it to. Plus it is adjustable.”
9. From fairway to bunker
Via Michael McEwan at Bunkered (appropriately)...”Storm Dierdre wreaked havoc across the country last weekend – and delivered another stark reminder of the threat that coastal erosion poses to some of the country’s top seaside courses.”
  • “Montrose Golf Links had the second fairway of its 1562 Course – the fifth oldest course in the world – blanketed by sand blown up from the beach as high winds buffeted the Angus coast.”
Photo below.
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Morning 9: Women’s PGA | Fox: best golf coverage in the biz? | Michelle Wieturns

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

June 19, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Henderson, Thompson sizzling heading into Women’s PGA
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson couldn’t get hotter at a better time.”
  • “With three major championships over the next seven weeks, they’ll be looking to make the most of their winning form. They each have a chance this week to reach No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings for the first time.”
  • “Henderson won the Meijer Classic last week, Thompson the ShopRite Classic two weeks ago.”
  • “Ladbrokes makes Henderson the co-favorite to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with Jeongeun Lee6 at 11/1 odds, with Thompson at 12/1 odds.”
2. Wieturning again
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com…
“But perhaps the most difficult digits to digest are those detailing the impact of the injuries that have disrupted Wie’s career. Without the constant interruptions, her five career wins with one major championship would almost certainly be more. Now, she tries once again to get back into action.”
  • “I’m feeling hopeful,” Wie said Tuesday at Hazeltine National where, on Thursday, she will tee it up for just her ninth tournament round of the year. “It’s still a process. It’s been hard sitting out during the middle of the season. There’s really nothing worse. But I had to take the time to get myself back to where I want to be.”
  • “There is almost no a part of Wie that has not been damaged, beginning with an injury to her left wrist when she fell while jogging in 2007. Since then, she’s had issues with a finger, knee, hip and the other wrist. At times, it almost appears as if her body is held together by multi-colored physiotape.”

Full piece.

3. Arrival of the Wolff
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…”This week’s Travelers Championship is Matthew Wolff’s first tournament as a professional. It may be the most anticipated pro debut in a decade. The consensus collegiate player of the year combines charisma with a swing that is identifiable from a few fairways over.
  • “He wins. He’s unique. His swing is different, so it catches everybody’s eye,” said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. “And then there’s the incredible speed.
  • “When you see somebody with speed … it gets your attention.”
4. Fox the best?
An interesting take from Sean Zak at Golf.com…
  • “In its five years as the USGA rights-holder, Fox has added something new every year, which, for a sport whose visuals seem to never change, is refreshing and important. One year it was the mic’d up holes, even shadows on the greens to display slopes. Some of it sticks from year to year, some of it doesn’t, but Fox is trying new things and adding new context.”
  • “This year the novelty was epic, highlighted by delicious drone shots along the coast. Blimp shots are great and were more relevant this week than most, but the drones that floated up over Carmel Bay, gliding along with the players, providing the perfect scale of the property – those were new and beautiful. A good broadcast shows viewers everything they must see to better understand a course, but also makes them a bit jealous of everyone there on the grounds.”
5. JT pain free
A few quotes from Thomas…”I have zero pain. I can do everything normally.”
“I could have played Colonial – easily – but it would have been stupid and [my wrist] could have been lingering the entire year,” he said. “This injury should never be an issue again in my life, as long as I do the proper things and don’t do anything stupid. That’s why I waited as long as I did.”
6. Not a fan
The Herald’s (Scotland) Nick Rodger…
  • “As everyday life hurtles along at a furious rate of knots, the golf season too is hammering on. Three men’s majors have already been played and in just four weeks’ time the curtain will come down on the quartet of grand slam events at the Open Championship. It’s rather like uploading a Youtube video onto your laptop and quickly spooling through to the best bits.”
  • “It’s all happening a bit too quickly for my liking,” gasped Colin Montgomerie as the dust settled on last weekend’s US Open even though there’s still probably dust lingering from the previous majors of the US PGA Championship and the Masters.”
7. Jin Young Ko dreaming of Brooks?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“On a day when LPGA stars filed in and out of the press room at the KPMG Women’s PGA, Ko delivered the line of the day. When asked what it is that she likes about Koepka and how he inspires her play, Ko said: “I met him in my dream, and then we had really great time.”
  • “…He always (has) like a poker face and then like stone.”
  • Ko, 23, put her arms out wide and said, “I like big guy.”
8. What Gary was aiming for
Our Gianni Magliocco…“U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland made an appearance at SiriusXM’s Manhattan studios on Tuesday, where he sat down to discuss a multitude of topics with Adam Schein on his Mad Dog Sports Radio program – Schein on Sports.”
  • “Woodland also discussed beating Tiger Woods’ total of 12-under-par from the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. The 35-year-old first mentioned how he recognized that Woods won that tournament by 15 strokes, before adding how he was aware of beating his 72-hole total, saying…”
  • “I knew it, but I was trying to two-putt. I wasn’t trying to make that putt. Once it got halfway there and it went in I obviously let the emotion out. My caddie came over to tell me congrats and I said, ‘You know that clipped Tiger by one?’ And he said, ‘No I didn’t.’ He was focused on the wrong stuff, he was focused on winning, I was focused on beating that record.”
9. A Phireside chat
How to introduce Phil Mickelson’s first Phireside with Phil video…? Mickelson tells a story of an early morning restart at the Memorial some years back and a, um, crappy situation.
My question: This is a clear violation of the rules of tournament play. Is there a provision for situations that make the hole/toilet unusable after restart and necessitate cutting a new cup?

 

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TaylorMade signs Matthew Wolff to a multi-year deal; Wolff WITB

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TaylorMade Golf has officially announced the signing of Matthew Wolff on a multi-year agreement that will see the 20-year-old play the company’s metal woods, irons, wedges, putter and ultimately, TaylorMade’s flagship golf ball, the TP5x.

Wolff had previously unveiled that he would be making his professional debut at this week’s Travelers Championship, and just as top prospect Collin Morikawa did earlier at this month’s Canadian Open, Wolff will do so as a TaylorMade staffer.

The NCAA All-American and 2019 NCAA Division I individual champion made his debut on the PGA Tour at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year where he finished T50 after opening his week with a round of five-under par.

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade M6 (8 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design TP 7TX

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M6 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke 6.5 TX

Utility Iron: TaylorMade P760 (2)
Shaft: Nippon Modus 130x

Irons: TaylorMade P750 Tour Proto (3-PW)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 130x

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind Raw (52, 56, 62 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

 

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5 questions with Justin Kinney of Virtual Golf Caddy

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We chatted with Justin Kinney, founder and CEO of startup Virtual Golf Caddy about his product, which serves both courses and players, by offering drone arial photography of golf courses (with graphics overlayed).

While drone photography and videography of golf courses is an established phenomenon, using the photos and video for better course management and preparation is a relatively new approach.

We wanted to learn more about what VGC is doing, and Kinney was kind enough to answer a handful of questions and include an example of the company’s work.

1. Tell us a bit about your background

I am 38 years old, born and raised in Connecticut. Lifelong golfer. Just finishing up my career as a middle school math teacher to focus on VGC full-time. I also have five years of business experience managing people’s retirement accounts. I played as many sports as I could growing up, and love the thrill of competition.

2. What’s the opportunity you saw?

I agreed to caddie for one of my students two summers ago. When researching the courses he was going to play, there was NO info on the courses. I thought there was a huge opportunity to provide course management strategies for players and give players a view of the entire courses with drones. No one was really doing anything like that, so I spent the past two years working on and building my business plan. Two months ago I secured funding to work on this full-time.

3. What is Virtual Golf Caddy, exactly?

VGC is a golf preparation and mental conditioning program designed to help give golfers a game plan to attack courses with. We provide drone views of each hole as well as course management strategies on how to best play each hole. Shot suggestions are given based on how far and confident players hit their clubs. We include mental conditioning tips and exercises to help players “zone in” more often and consistently. We are considering getting into golf fitness and nutrition as well to help build the whole golfer. Players purchase access to each course’s videos and info for either $15 or $25 per course, depending on how much info they want. They get unlimited access to the videos and can watch them wherever (home, airport, hotel, course).

4. What stage is the business in, and can you show us an example of VCG in action? 

We are still in the start-up phase. We are making agreements with and filming at courses. The website is being redesigned and will be up in June. It appears like things may take off quickly so stay tuned!

For an example, check out the video below.

6. What else should GolfWRX members know?

We are looking for courses to partner with. We will give courses free publicity on our site, a promotional video from the footage to use on their site, and share 15 percent of their courses profits with them. A win-win for everyone involved! If readers know of any courses, please email us.

One other thing to add: the mental prep/conditioning program is being built by renowned sports psychologist Bill Cole, MS, MA. It is legit and comes from over 40 years of research and experience! We’re also pursuing options in fitness and nutrition.

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