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GolfWRX Morning 9: What Tiger hopes to accomplish with Jackson Park redesign | Another take on equipment stories of the year

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

December 28, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Tiger on Jackson Park: “Time to do something significant”
Woods’ has high hopes for his Chicago redesign.
Dylan Dethier at Golf.com…”Woods is lead architect on the proposed renovation of 18-hole Jackson Park and nine-hole South Shore, two historic, beloved munis that sit at the western edge of Lake Michigan. Under the plans laid out by TGR Design (Woods’s design firm) the two courses would combine into a 7,341-yard 18-hole championship track.”
  • “On Dec. 12, the Chicago Park District met to approve a resolution to fund services for an engineering firm, the Smith Group, for the next three and a half years. The decision represented a commitment from the city and a huge hurdle cleared in the process of breaking ground on the renovation. What began four years ago as a pie-in-the-sky reevaluation of Chicago’s city-owned courses is nearing fruition as something altogether different: a likely PGA Tour host with striking views of the city and a brand-new concept of what it means to be an urban public golf course.”
  • “I first learned the game on public courses playing with my Pop,” Woods told GOLF in a statement. “I hope this course will be more than just golf and also make a positive impact in the community. We are eager to proceed toward groundbreaking at Jackson Park and South Shore.”
More on the layout TW favors…”Woods emphasized the course’s adaptability in a statement to GOLF. “We have developed a plan for a public golf course that will be fun and playable for golfers of all abilities, but still challenge the best players in the world,” he said.”
  • “Welling laid out the feel of the place in greater detail: It’ll be relatively wide and not overly bunkered off the tee, but the greens will have some stronger defenses. It’s intended to be a course of angles. If you’re really trying to score, it’ll require a very accurate approach shot, set up by a well-placed tee ball.”
  • “Around the greens, Welling expects to use plenty of short grass. That can make things easier for less experienced chippers, who can pull putter and do just fine, while putter from well off the green can be hard for a better player. There’s a lot to that idea at Bluejack National, Woods’s Texas course, and Payne’s Valley, his brand-new Missouri track.”
2. 2018’s top equipment stories
Another day, another curation of the top equipment stories of 2018. This time, it’s Andrew Tursky at PGATour.com doing the assembly.
“Tiger Woods…Here’s a recap of the notable Tiger equipment stories from the year.”
  • “His backup Scotty Cameron Newport 2 sold at auction for $44 grand. His backup!”
  • “He switched from TGR blades — confirmed to have been made at Nike’s “The Oven” before shutting down its operation – into TaylorMade TW Phase 1 irons that remain shrouded in mystery. Hopefully we get more answers about these irons in 2019. And is there a “Phase 2″ on the way?”
  • “His putter saga saw a happy ending at the TOUR Championship. Woods has won 13-of-14 major championships using the same Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter, but his relationship with it hit a rocky road in 2018. He switched into a TaylorMade Ardmore 3 putter and then a TP Black Copper Juno putter in the second half of the year. He finished second in the PGA Championship using the Ardmore 3 mallet. But at the TOUR Championship, it was the familiar Scotty he had in the bag to capture his 80th PGA TOUR victory at the TOUR Championship. A fairytale ending for the duo.
  • “Cody Blick overcomes club robbery to qualify…Before the final round of the Web.com Tour qualifying event, with guaranteed Web.com Tour 2019 starts on the line and needing to mount a comeback, Cody Blick’s golf clubs were stolen. Q-School is enough pressure as it is; then add in the headache of being robbed, coupled with playing the final round without your own clubs! The odds were stacked against him, and his Instagram post offering a $5k reward for information on the whereabouts of his clubs was fruitless.”
  • “Amazingly, Blick pieced together a set with the help of Titleist, and he actually played well enough in the final round, shooting a 9-under 63, to move up 49 spots and capture eight guaranteed starts.”
3. No Tiger in paradise
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Tiger Woods will not begin the new year in Hawaii after all.”
  • “After considerable speculation that he might play the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the first time since 2005, Woods has elected to forgo the tournament he qualified for by winning the Tour Championship in September.”
  • “Alex Urban, the tournament’s general manager, said they had heard from Woods’ representatives and that he is “spending more time with family and friends over the holiday and will start his season at a later event.”
4. How much are caddies pocketing?
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge explored the world of caddie earnings.
  • “Nowadays, a select few caddies can make seven figures in a single season on the PGA Tour thanks to bonuses and a cut of the massive prize purses. They also can go weeks on end struggling to break even after expenses.”
  • “The amount and manner in which caddies are compensated is one of the most frequently asked questions in golf. The answer is complicated, but there are some general guidelines most player-caddie relationships follow in some form.”
  • “By most accounts, the average weekly base pay for caddies on the PGA Tour runs in the neighborhood of $1,800-$2,000 per week. On the LPGA, it’s closer to $1,200. The majority of those funds go toward travel expenses, which are almost never covered outside of the weekly wage. Some of the top players will foot the bill for costly trips outside the United States, say for the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, but that’s not always the case. If a particularly stingy player misses the cut overseas, chances are his caddie is losing money.”
5. Death of the yardage book?
Golf.com’s Josh Sens suggests apps will soon replace yardage books (not at the professional level, obviously)
  • “Just as you once said goodbye to balata, you’ll soon by bidding farewell to the yardage book. In tomorrow’s brave new world, every drive you strike and every pin you seek will depend on data gleaned from Jetson-like devices that will offer not just distances but also club suggestions, based on wind and weather and elevation changes. Ask them nicely and they’ll read your putts.”
  • “Already, apps like Golf Logix and 18Birdies and AI platforms such as Arccos Caddie contain detailed renderings of some 40,000 courses, an ever-growing archive for a fast-expanding audience. In a recent National Golf Foundation survey, more than half of respondents said they’d downloaded a golf-related app (up from 37 percent in 2011), and 41 percent said they used those apps for yardages. So take that booklet you picked up in the pro shop and reserve it for posterity – a dog-eared relic from a distant past.”
6. “Non-traditional lifestyle amenities”
Martin Kaufmann talks to the CEO of ClubCorp and others about the future of private golf clubs.
A morsel…
  • “They’re not going to join a club that’s a golf club,” Pillsbury said. “There’s not enough breadth of experience for growing young families.”
  • “Start with the clubhouse. DeMore said that more than 50 Troon properties are “reimagining” their clubhouses. “I see an expansion of fitness almost every single time we do a private-club renovation,” he said.”
  • “Pillsbury estimated that more than 40 percent of ClubCorp members have separate fitness memberships. He doesn’t want them leaving the country club to work out.”
  • “Even some of the most hardcore golf clubs are embracing the new reality…PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., has been billed as the western home of golf in America, but in recent years the staff saw members switching from full golf memberships, which are $1,400 per month, to $450 sport memberships that still allowed them playing privileges.”
  • “Adding the sports membership was to attract multigenerational (families),” said Jennifer Jenkins, PGA West’s director of marketing and membership sales. “The main reason we were losing our golf members wasn’t because of health or finances, it was because of the grandkids.”
7. Golf cart accident leaves 2 dead
Wild, unfortunate stuff in Thailand.
CNN Report...”Two men have died after one of their golf carts rammed the other into a river on a course in northern Thailand.”
  • “The men, who were visiting from South Korea, were golfing with their wives Tuesday in northern Thailand’s Phitsanulok province. While mounting a raft in order to cross the river that runs through the course, a cart carrying one of the couples crashed into the other, propelling the first cart into the river, police said.”
  • “The man driving the second cart dived into the river in an attempt to rescue the first pair, Police Major Chucheev Phumchiaw told CNN. Earlier reports suggested that the women were driving the second cart.”
  • “A local fisherman rescued the woman who ended up in the water, but the bodies of the two men — Sung Jun-yong, 68, and Ha Jae-oong, 76 — were found in the Nan River, downstream from where the incident occurred.”
8. Brooke Henderson again
Golf Channel report...”Henderson was named the Canadian Press female athlete of the year. It’s the second year in a row she has won the award, the third time in the past four years.”
  • “Henderson won two times on the LPGA in 2018, including the Lotte Championship, which she dedicated to the people involved in the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus crash in Saskatchewan. She also became the first Canadian to win her national open since 1973, when she prevailed at the CP Women’s Open.”
  • “Henderson earned 30 of 54 votes in a poll of Canadian broadcasters and editors, according to a TSN report. Figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond and short-track speedskater Kim Boutin tied for second place with 10 votes each.”
9. For your listening pleasure
We assembled the brain trust, or at the very least, a bunch of guys who like to talk golf and golf equipment. Johnny Wunder, Brian Westphal, Brian Knudson, Rob Miller, Michael Williams, and Ben Alberstadt talk through everything from Tiger, to the Ryder Cup, to the explosion in boutique equipment makers. The podcasters share what’s ahead for their various pods, we talk plans for the PGA Show, and what you can plan on reading, watching, and listening too on GolfWRX.com in 2019.
(That’s right, folks, you can listen to my inglorious podcast debut in all it’s awful wonder)
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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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