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Morning 9: The legend of Crunchy Pete | Leishman’s perfect Palmer take | Big February for Golf Channel

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

March 7, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans
1. The legend of Crunchy Pete
Good on Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner for further investigating the man of mystery that is Keith Mitchell’s caddie, “Crunchy Pete” Persolja-and Persolja’s story is as #vanlife and all the rest as you might expect. Does. Not. Disappoint.
  • A few crunchy morsels…”After dropping out of Bowling Green University in the early 1990s, Persolja packed his bags and took a one-way bus bound for Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He spent the winters there trying odd jobs to get by: collecting garbage in the cafeteria of a resort gondola, setting up banquet rooms at the Sheraton and working as a certified cross-country ski instructor and lift operator (his station topped out at 11,775 feet). One summer, he worked out of a hot spring, mixing cement and carrying stones for masoners.”
  • And this…”When the weather turned, his identical twin brother, Dave, introduced him to whitewater rafting in West Virginia. It remains the greatest job he’s ever had, training with a group of wild characters who walked around barefoot and slept under the stars. The bare-bones existence appealed to him.
  • And this..”All throughout his 20s he chased the next adventure, wherever that took him. He lived for a month out of his Volkswagon van, camping all over Idaho. He worked an industrial-roofing job in Seattle and drove 48 hours nonstop to return for Gauley Season in West Virginia and bussed tables at a coffee shop in Cleveland. Eventually he grew tired of the nomadic lifestyle, and his funds were getting dangerously low.”
These are but a few of the many lives of the Crunchy One. Read the full piece.
2. Golf Channel’s most-watched February ever
Press release…”26.3 Million Unique Viewers Tuned into Golf Coverage Across GOLF Channel and NBC in February, Doubling January”
  • “NBC Sports Group’s golf coverage posted its most-watched February ever, averaging a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 142,000 viewers-per-minute in Total Day (24-hour period). GOLF Channel also returned as the No. 1 single-sport network in February, which became the most-watched month for GOLF since March 2018 (157,000 TAD). 26.3 million unique viewers tuned into golf coverage across NBC Sports in February, driven by PGA TOUR coverage on NBC delivering its most-watched February in 11 Years, according to data released by The Nielsen Company.”
  • “Following GOLF Channel’s most-watched year in 2018, February’s record viewership shows that the golf season is heating back up on GOLF Channel and NBC,” said Mike McCarley, president, GOLF, NBC Sports. “This momentum will continue as the sport’s new schedule builds with THE PLAYERS’ return to March – the first of six championship events over the next six straight months.”
3. How golf’s new rules change the game
A timely refresher from ESPN’s Bob Harig on the changes to the Rules of Golf–from flagsticks, to drops, to penalty areas, to broken clubs, to caddie alignment, and more.
“The R&A along with the USGA, spent the better part of six years revamping the rulebook, and the various tours, including the PGA Tour, had a role in the discussions.”
 
Here’s one…”Accidentally moving the ball…Rule: 13.1dDustin Johnson never even touched his golf ball on the green during the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open, leading to a controversial 1-stroke penalty that luckily did not cost him the victory. In the aftermath of that situation, local rules were put in place. Now it is permanently in the rulebook: if you are deemed to have accidentally moved your ball, or marker, on the green, you simply put it back and play on, without penalty. The same applies for a lost ball. If you accidentally step on it or kick while searching, you can move it back without penalty.”
4. Tony’ll tee it again
Golfweek’s Kate Culpepper with the details on Tony Romo’s return to the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic in March–where he finished last in last year’s event on a similar exemption.
  • “The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback received his third sponsor exemption, the PGA Tour announced Wednesday, and is expected to make his second Tour start on March 28 at the 2019 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.”
  • “The 38-year-old lead analyst for the NFL on CBS also received a sponsor exemption in 2018 when he played in the first edition of the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship- previously the Web.com Tour event until it landed on the PGA Tour schedule in 2018. The amateur finished his first PGA Tour start in last place.”
5. Leish sums it up
Tony Webeck, writing for the PGA of Australia’s website, conveyed this quote from Marc Leishman after his 2017 win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. You have to think/hope Leishman spoke for many of his peers with the remarks.
  • “He’s someone that you look up to, not just in golf,” Leishman said following his win in 2017.
  • “They say ‘a life well played’ because he’s lived his life to the fullest.
  • I don’t want to get 30 years down the track and wish I had spent more time with my kids.
  • “I feel like if you can be a good dad, good husband, good person, play some good golf along the way, enjoy yourself, enjoy a few beers, enjoy some good food… I feel like that’s a life well played and that’s how he lived his life.
  • “You hear some of the stories that Sam (Saunders, Palmer’s grandson) tells and you can tell that it’s truly from the heart and that he’s such a great man.
  • “That’s what it means to me and that’s how I try to live my life, to be known as a great person who played good golf.”
6. Rose’s buffer
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on Justin Rose charting his own course through the first part of 2019 season (as fortune smiles).
  • “Rose turned heads with his decision to switch to Honma equipment to start the new year, but that choice quickly paid dividends with his strong play at Torrey Pines. The Englishman flew from San Diego to Saudi Arabia the following week and missed the cut. He hasn’t played competitively since.”
  • “Having ceded the top spot in the world rankings this week to Dustin Johnson, Rose is rested and eager to get back to work in a town he once called home and on a course where he finished third a year ago.”
  • “Having those points on the board just made it feel like a really significant break, and something that hopefully I will gain a benefit of, not necessarily this week but at some point in the summer,” he said. “There’s big events coming all the way through until August now, and so that was the intention really is to sort of build in a bit of a buffer.”
7. The forgotten major winner
GolfWRX Featured Writer Matthew O’Neill on the sad case of Paul Lawrie…
  • “When the name Paul Lawrie is mentioned on GolfWRX, it is usually on a forum thread where the question of the worst major winner of all time is posed. Recognition of sorts, but recognition, which is beginning to slip away at least in minds of many who have replaced Lawrie’s name with that of Danny Willett.”
  • “That Lawrie is treated in that way is as disappointing as it is wrong. The Home of Golf has not produced many major winners in the last 100 years. Sandy Lyle aside, Paul Lawrie is it. So how can it be that the winner of The Open, eight European Tour events, and a two-time Ryder Cup player has been relegated to such to an afterthought amongst golf fans, commentators, and tournament organizers. In spite of his efforts to get invited, he is now being regularly ignored by Champions Tour events and he faces a yearly ghosting the PNC Father-Son Challenge that he so dearly wishes to play in with one of his sons.”
  • “That things have seem to be going this way for Lawrie has perhaps been inevitable. A “lucky” major winner who only happened to shoot a 67 on the final day, around the most difficult Open course in recent memory before then birding the toughest two holes on the toughest closing stretch of the toughest test in golf. The most recent high point in his career is inarguably his qualifying for the Ryder Cup in 2012. 13 years after making his debut and a number of years after seemingly having slipped into obscurity he was back on golf’s grandest stage. His play that week was solid before a spectacular Sunday saw him beat Brandt Snedeker in singles.”
8. The thrill of the hunt
Our Ryan Barath on the joy of scouring used golf clubs at retail in general, and the experience at Fore Golfers Only’s massive sale…”As golfers, we are always chasing; chasing the next course on our list, our career-best score, the sun towards the horizon in late summer and fall, and for many, that one club for the collection or just for fun. In the case of hunting for that one club, there is a mecca located in a small Southern Ontario town just a couple hours West of Toronto in St. Thomas, Ontario: Fore Golfers Only (FGO).”
  • “Interestingly, St. Thomas is the hometown of PGA Tour caddy Brennan Little, close to nearby VERY exclusive Redtail Golf Club (interesting history to read up on). Anyway, Fore Golfers is in a humble building that stretches across the side of a driving range, but in the era predating golf big box, Fore Golfers Only was the only game in town for hours in any direction. This offered a distinct advantage: being located in a hotbed of golf, both public and private in Ontario, Canada (fun fact: Canada has the most golfers per capita in the WORLD).”
  • “Even when a big box arrived, Fore Golfers was still the ONLY place that offered the opportunity to hit the clubs you were going to buy outside, off of grass, including new ones (demos of course) that weren’t at a green grass facility. Add to the fact that they are known for their massive used club selection – every OEM rep around knows that if a customer loses an iron out of production FGO is the first place they call. FGO features a friendly, knowledgeable staff that have been in the industry fitting clubs and talking gear for a long time. Add to this reasonable trade-in values, and you have a recipe for long-term success.”
9. A golden putter for Cam
Ping’s tradition of awarding a gold(-plated) putter to staffers has to be one of the cooler OEM practices.
  • Apparently, though, turnaround time isn’t the quickest for flatsticks with precious metal facades, as Champ was just awarded his PLD Mid Tyne 4 this week.

 

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Morning 9: Latest memo from Tour to players | Phil’s post-Match perspective | Greg Norman’s regrettable take

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1. Latest “bubble” memo
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard details the most recent communique from Tour to its players…“In a memo sent to players on Wednesday, tournament director Michael Tothe outlined many of the protocols that will be required when play resumes on June 11 at Colonial including the four Fort Worth, Texas, hotels that will create the foundation of the circuit’s “bubble” for the week.”
  • “The core of the PGA Tour’s plan to return was always about testing, but it’s a fine line to walk. In two weeks, at the Charles Schwab Challenge, we’ll find out if it will be enough.”
  • “Players are allowed to stay in individual RVs or rental homes but they are being encouraged to assure the health and safety of their accommodations if they choose to stay outside the bubble.”
  • “Players were also informed where COVID-19 testing will occur when they arrive in Fort Worth as well as meal options at Colonial, which will be limited to grab-and-go lunches in order to follow safety protocols.”
2. Little John finishes second at Crooked Stick 
Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star…Daly II made that same walk on Wednesday, up the 18th fairway for the final round of the inaugural Dye Junior Golf Invitational at Crooked Stick.”
  • “I think a lot of guys have re-watched the 1991 PGA tournament,” Daly II said. “I watched it every night before the tournament. (Watching him) walk down the 18th with all of the fans everywhere was pretty cool. He started as the ninth alternate and didn’t expect to play. For him to win, it was a ridiculous story. He loves it.”
  • “Daly II put together a remarkable tournament in his own right, finishing a three-way tie for second place behind winner John Marshall Butler of Louisville, Kentucky. Daly II was 4 over for the two-day, 54-hole event, which featured 33 of the top high school boys players in the country and 33 of the same on the girls’ side.”
3. Phil open to wearing mic
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Mickelson admitted that he didn’t expect the same level of banter during a typical Tour event with a seven-figure prize on the line, but he’d nonetheless be willing to broadcast his inside-the-ropes dialogue.”
  • “I would be open to the idea because of how it’s being received, and some of the insight and so forth,” Mickelson said. “But you don’t have the play between individuals. I had a partner, and Tom and I could talk back and forth. And maybe you could get some of that with the caddie, but having a partner is much more intimate and you have much better conversation.”
4. …wants annual Match
AP report…”Phil Mickelson, fresh off the success of Sunday’s charity golf exhibition with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, says he would like to see “The Match” become an annual event.”
  • “I think you could showcase guys like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan or Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, who are all good golfers, elite talents and have great personalities,” Mickelson told the Los Angeles Times in a column published Wednesday. “Those personalities are going to come out with this event. Or you could have someone who loves the game and is competitive but is really entertaining like Larry David and Bill Murray. I think that could shine.”
5. More audience info
Interesting stuff from Geoff Shackelford…“According to Showbuzzdaily.com, almost 1/3 of The Match 2’s audience was in the coveted 18-49 demo and the number was even better on on TruTV, also meaning there are people of any age group who know how to find TruTV”
  • “About 30% of The Match’s audience landed in the 18-49 demo despite the 44.5 average age of the participants…The numbers for TaylorMade Driving Relief with a foursome averaging 29.5 years”
  • “That’s 25% of the almighty buyers for a younger, supposedly more millennial-friendly group of golfers. And a grand total of (at least) 860,000 fewer viewers 18-49.  While not a huge difference in the percentage department, The Match did rout Driving Relief in overall audience and even took chipped away at NASCAR’s ratings.”

Full piece.

6. After a long layoff, how do the pros play?
Dylan Beirne, 15th Club for PGATour.com, examines the question…“As we might expect, there’s a clear relationship between performance and the number of weeks a player has been off. We can analyze how well players perform by comparing our estimate of their ability (how we would expect them to perform) to how they actually performed.”
  • “Generally, players taking small breaks of two weeks or less are marginally better than expected, while longer breaks result in an average drop in performance of between 0.1 and 0.2 strokes per round. For context, a drop of 0.2 strokes per round is about the gap between 100th- and 135th-ranked players in the world. It’s a significant change, but not enormous.”
  • “Additionally, the drop in performance after a 10-20 week gap is quite consistent across different levels of players. Top-50 players in the world are affected by a similar amount to those outside the top 50.”
7. A really bad take from Greg Norman
I mean, what else can you call it? A man who has a history of obtuseness and putting his fin in his mouth outdid himself with unfounded speculation about the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash in an interview with Michael Bamberger…“I asked Norman about the January helicopter crash in Los Angeles that killed all nine people aboard, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, among them. I asked Norman if he had any insight, from his own experience as a helicopter pilot, and as an elite athlete who has flown often in helicopters as a passenger, into the tragedy.”
  • “Yes – yes,” he said. His voice was sober. “Probably pilot error and pressure from the back,” Norman said. Norman could imagine the legendary basketball player saying, “‘Get me through this; get me there. I’ve got to get my daughter to this game.’
  • …”My instructor and I had a saying, ‘If you can’t see through it don’t fly through it.’ If I was flying to Doral or Orlando or Naples and there was fog, we just put it down and waited it out.”
8. Sprint to the Cup
Ben Everill at PGATour.com…“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting cancellations and postponements of tournaments leaves just 11 eligible tournaments over a 10-week stretch for players to qualify for the Playoffs and a chance at the $15 million bonus that comes with the season-long FedExCup crown.”
  • “While the top 125 will not double as the cutoff for TOUR cards next season in this reduced schedule, it will remain the mark to get into THE NORTHERN TRUST, the first of three Playoffs events in the chase for the FedExCup.”
  • “Gone is the luxury of extended rest between starts for those sitting way back on the list, such as Koepka, who was just starting to find his feet again on a return from injury when the pandemic halted play in March.”

 

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Morning 9: Improving golf coverage | Oral history of TW’s “best shot” | Nichols: Charity matches were great…but why no women?

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1. Match-inspired innovations for improving golf coverage
Golf Digest’s Shane Ryan with a few thoughts…Mid-round interviews…There’s no really good reason beyond mild annoyance to the players that this couldn’t work, even in the current COVID-19 environment, provided that safe social distancing is practiced. In the major team sports, coaches are obliged to give interviews, and players will occasionally speak at halftime or between periods. There are no “coaches” in that same sense in golf, but the game happens at a slower pace, and a 60-second walking interview between holes is not too much to ask. I don’t think there’s a reasonable argument that it’s overly disruptive, especially if planned in advance.”
  • …”Mic’d up players and caddies…In exhibitions past, we’ve witnessed players with live microphones, but the purpose behind it is dreaded “banter,” which typically comes across as hollow, forced and not very funny. But if players and caddies wore mics during a round, producers could find riveting audio that captures natural conversation or impromptu strategy sessions. Phil serving as a mentor for Tom Brady was riveting and hopefully stokes our appetite for similar mid-round insight…”
2. An oral history of Tiger’s “best shot” 
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…(This is just the introduction to a fantastic piece that talks to Bob Weeks of TSN and Steve Williams, among others!)…”Had it slipped between Tiger Woods’ 6-iron and golf ball, one rogue grain could have sunk his hopes of winning the RBC Canadian Open in 2000, becoming the first since Lee Trevino in 1971 to win golf’s Triple Crown – the U.S., British, and Canadian Opens in the same year.”
  • “So was it the ultra-fine margin? The stakes? The absurdly improbable physics of the shot itself?”
  • “Yes. Yes. And yes. All of these things compelled Scott Verplank, among others, to call it “the greatest shot I’ve ever seen in my life,” Woods’ 218-yard masterstroke from the wet sand at the par-5 18th at Glen Abbey. Woods’ caddie Steve Williams would return to the bunker once the commotion had died down, still struggling to get his head around what he’d seen. Others have made the same pilgrimage and tried to visualize what Woods had, tried to feel what Woods felt, for this was magic.”
3. Thrive? Struggle? Survive? 
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak contemplates what’s ahead for the golf industry…”These are strange times living through a global pandemic. Suddenly, golf courses are packed in a way the industry hasn’t experienced since Tiger Woods was revolutionizing the game in the late 1990s and former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem was predicting 50 million golfers by 2020.”
  • “Well, that didn’t happen, but golf has been given this new-found seal of approval highlighting its healthy aspects and its ability to provide safe recreation. As courses across the country re-open there is pent up demand among golfers to get out and play. Tee sheets are mostly filled and former golfers and those trying out the sport for the first time are emerging out of the woodwork desperate to be in the sunshine and doing something, anything that has been deemed “COVID OK.” There is renewed belief that golf can grab a bigger piece of the pie among recreational and entertainment options.”
4. Where were the women?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols wonders…How can there be downside to two Sundays of golf taking center stage and raising mega-money for COVID-19 relief?”
  • “Well, there is no a downside, but it could’ve been more. As LPGA player Mel Reid tweeted during the TaylorMade Driving Relief Challenge, the broadcasts could’ve represented all of golf.”
  • “They could’ve included women.”
  • “…It would’ve been great to see an LPGA player and her sponsorship partners get in on the action in a similar fashion.”
  • “The TaylorMade event could’ve been a mixed-team format. Maria Fassi and Paula Creamer are both in Florida. Some of TaylorMade’s female stars could’ve also called in during the broadcast as Jon Rahm did. Staffers who could’ve called in include Natalie Gulbis, Muni He and Charley Hull. Sung Hyun Park, who speaks limited English, was involved in a charity exhibition in South Korea with current No. 1 Jin Young Ko. Women’s golf frequently takes center stage in that part of the world.”
5. 80% of golf retail open
From the NGF Q…”The number of physical golf retail outlets that are back in business continues to increase – from off-course stores and specialty club-fitters to green grass pro shops.”
  • “Approximately 66% of golf course pro shops are open at facilities that are open to play, the equivalent of almost 9 million square feet, although some states and counties have limitations on the number of customers permitted at one time. That percentage is up from 36% at the start of the month, but is unchanged over the past week as pro shops in at least 10 states (including Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois and New York) have government mandates that say they must remain closed inside to customers.”
  • “Meanwhile, approximately 79% of off-course golf retail stores were open (in terms of total square footage) through May 25. This is up from 73% last week and 59% two weeks ago. In early April, only about 4% of the 6.5 million square feet of total off-course golf specialty space was open to in-store traffic. Roughly 81% of all off-course retail stores are now open to customers.”
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GolfWRX Classifieds Spotlight (05/27/20): Adams, Mizuno, Ping

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Gator5 – Adams CMB Irons

Forged – check, Multi-Material construction – check, cool as all heck because these clubs are sweet and Adams made some really cool gear – check!

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Adams CMB Irons

Member Ksears – Brand New Mizuno MP20 Irons

Did someone say brand new Mizunos??? What else could you really want from a forged blade beside being meticulously crafted and forged in Japan – as well as being priced lower than retail.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link hereMP 20 Irons

Member 1hellaofashot – Ping G410 7 Wood

Speaking from experience let me just say this “stop denying the inevitable and embrace the 7 Wood” It’s endlessly versatile, more forgiving than a hybrid, and because this one for sale is a Ping G410 it is adjustable. Here’s your chance to dial in your own par 5 killer.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Ping 7 Wood

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds 

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