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Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus hit out at today’s golf ball and green reading books

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As is tradition, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player opened up the 2019 Masters alongside Tom Waston on Thursday morning as the honorary starters of the event. Afterwards while in the press center, both Nicklaus and Player spoke together, and the two men had some harsh words to say regarding the harm that they feel modern technology is doing to the game of golf.

Nicklaus has long been outspoken about the dangers that modern technology could cause the game, and on Thursday, the 18-time major champion railed against the modern day golf balls, believing the extra distance they now provide players with has gotten out of hand.

“The golf ball has gotten ridiculous. I have so many things on that. The golf ball from 1930 to about ’95 gained about six yards. From 1995 to 2005, about 15 yards, and that’s a big difference. Probably the organizations won’t tell you that, but that’s exactly about what happened.”

Like Nicklaus, Player believes the current technological innovations are damaging to the sport, and the three-time Masters champion fired a stark warning on Thursday concerning the possible consequences of a lack of action on the issue from the game’s organizations.

“We’d better start thinking. They are going to hit wedges to all the par-5s, and golf courses like St. Andrews, this marvelous golf course, is completely obsolete. They can drive probably six greens. So I don’t know where we’re going.

And our leaders of such have got to get together now and form a ball for professionals that’s different to the amateurs. Let the amateurs have anything they’d like. … But we have got to stop this, otherwise it’s going to be a joke, in my opinion.”

The South African also hit out at the use of green reading books, which are banned from Augusta National but allowed at several stops on the PGA Tour, describing the process of using the books as an aid on the greens as “artificial.”

“Bobby Locke was the best putter that ever lived, and Tiger Woods was the best putter and so on. I never saw him take out a book to read the damn green. To read the green, you’ve got to look at a book. Well if you can’t read a green, you should be selling beans. It’s part of the game. Where are we going? Everything is so artificial.”

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

63 Comments

63 Comments

  1. Joro

    Apr 14, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    It is simple, make the courses tougher to stop the 300 + yd. Drives that make long holes short and is ridiculous. I am sure the ball has a lot to do with it but the main thing is length, fast fairways , and no real trouble for being super long and straight. Face it a Drive and Wedge on 13 at the Masters is just plain BS. Put something out there so the players cannot hit it that long without a huge risk. In fact narrow fairways, real rough, and other obstacles will keep things down.

    I know the manufactures are producing the length for all that it is worth, like the Car companies are using fast as a sales point although 90% of the buyers have any business going fast and the Death rate shows it. If in fact they don’t cut it back where will it end? Five Hundred yard Drives and having to chip back to the Green. Of course not, it only affects the Pros and long hitters and when Joe the Hack sees Tiger hit it over 300, or Rory 350 he has to have one,,,, as if he can get it off the ground.

    It has gone too far and time to get back to skill and keep everyone in the Ballgame, not just the Gorilla.

  2. daniel

    Apr 13, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Since it’s the masters. Why don’t we do what Bobby Jones did when the Niblick/SW became a thing bunker plays were no longer a challenge for the pro, so he decided too add water and a lot of it. Hence recreating golf courses isn’t a new thing, just a change of the times.

  3. Bobby

    Apr 13, 2019 at 8:44 am

    And to add a solution to my previous comment…. move tee boxes back ten yards theres plenty of room and grow out the fairway alittle to stop the ridiculous run out of 30-40 yards we see at every pga tour event…you say the amateurs can use any ball we want but ill tell ya my ball dont roll out more than ten yards on most amateur courses i play and iam a 3 handicap who gets plenty of distance….. easy fix

  4. Bobby

    Apr 13, 2019 at 8:37 am

    So they are saying its a major problem that the ball gained 15 yards and now they hit wedges to greens? So if they back it up the 15 yards what are they gonna use 9 iron? Stop it….. Yes equipment is getting too good i somewhat agree but the other issue is the amount of money they can win has brought in real athletes….. Say what you want but the older guys never looked no where near what Koepka and Rory look like today. All the young kids are big athletic guys too…. Tiger was the first of the real
    Athletes and look how he did against the others of his time…..

  5. Glenn D.

    Apr 13, 2019 at 8:37 am

    And they wonder why rounds are taking so long to play. They’ve needed to add yards to every hole to accommodate the “new” length golf balls go. Like playing an extra hole. An extra 1/2 hour or longer?

  6. Simms

    Apr 13, 2019 at 1:01 am

    That PXG on Gary’s hat makes anything he has to say about equipment BS. Sorry boys it is like all sports the more education we get the better the players and equipment get. I would not worry to much about golf because Pro golf is big dollar entertainment and the Country Clubs they play and high end public courses are all that will be left in years to come…Public golf is on its last legs with courses being worth more closed then open and the ones open are fighting a loosing battle trying to match green fees with operating costs, public golfers are not going to pay over $45 dollars to play more then once a month and tee sheets even on the least expensive courses are still not full.

  7. the koob

    Apr 12, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Bifurcation seems logical. But don’t take my ball away from me. I want my MTV.

    • D

      Apr 12, 2019 at 11:16 pm

      They already do bifurcate.
      The Pros get to use metal spikes

    • PG

      Apr 13, 2019 at 8:28 am

      The tee boxes already “bifurcate”.

  8. Brendan Welch

    Apr 12, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Why don’t they just make everyone play blades or all play the same lofts?

  9. Acemkr9

    Apr 12, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    I love the comments on here! Most of the people railing against Jack and Gary have never hit a persimmon or a balata! They grew up being indoctrinated on length. Golf is going the way of baseball the uneducated baseball fan wants 7 home runs a game not a pitchers dual, The uneducated golfer wants to see 350 yard drives and 27 under it’s simply the times and unfortunately TV is the culprit they always want more people and more people, you then pull in the uneducated sports fan who doesn’t understand the art of the sport or the tactical parts of the sport. They simply want to view something, yell at the players and ruin the next sport!

    • Alan

      Apr 12, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      I didn’t notice Jack and Gary dropping back to Hickory and Haskell balls from their modern technology advantages.

    • Aztec

      Apr 12, 2019 at 10:01 pm

      You mention ‘uneducated’ 3 times but your grammar is terrible. Kind of funny, eh?

  10. Kim

    Apr 12, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    JN has been whining about this for ages, as previous posts have mentioned, perhaps jealously. If you want to eliminate the “bombers” set the course up like they did at the Ryder Cup. There is virtually no rough at Augusta. Punish the wayward shot more severely. The changes on 5 seem to have had the desired affect. Narrow the fairways. These guys are better athletes, yes, technology is better, embrace it. Going backwards is not the answer.

    • acemkr9

      Apr 12, 2019 at 6:23 pm

      Actually if you had any historical knowledge instead of just an opinion Jack in his prime was the longest hitter on tour, Courses actually starting adding bunkers because he flew the original ones!
      Alistair McKenzie in his book ‘the Spirit of ST Andrews warned of the ball going to far! You should read it!

  11. Harry Adam

    Apr 12, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Whatever is decided, it would be a great mistake to differentiate equipment rules between amateurs and professionals.

  12. Tom54

    Apr 12, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    I guess it’s only fitting that two of the names greatest champions are now fussing about how far the modern ball and equipment are making the game unfair. I guess it comes with the territory once you have become honorary starters for the Masters. Pretty sure they wish today’s ball and clubs were out in their heyday. If we have maxed out the ball and the clubs,then it must be the player. Courses can handle 325 yd drives but if they start averaging 350+ then maybe there is a problem. Until then sit back and marvel what talent it takes to propel a golf ball around a course like they do.

    • acemkr9

      Apr 12, 2019 at 6:25 pm

      “Until then sit back and marvel what talent it takes to propel a golf ball around a course like they do.”

      bwahaahhahahaahahaahaahahaahahahaaah Jack Nicklaus has 18 majors and you think he doesn’t know what it takes! I marvel at peoples comments!

  13. Jow

    Apr 12, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    Nicklaus is clearly right. If you value the historic courses around the world, the technology cannot get longer perpetually. These courses will not change in kind.

    If you’re ok with Augusta, St Andrews, Bethpage etc becoming easier and easier as time marches on the I suppose it’s not an issue for you.

    It would be great if we could make clubs easier to hit without always adding length.

  14. Bob Jones

    Apr 12, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    In the 1960s, Bobby Jones described how Augusta plays in the Masters. You can read it in his book, Golf Is My Game. For example, hole No. 16, 190 yards, he described as a 2, 3, or 4-iron. Now it’s a 7, 8, or 9-iron. Don’t tell me these guys don’t have a point about distance. As for the Masters not allowing green reading books, hear hear!

  15. Darrin Lygrisse

    Apr 12, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    I will disagree with Jack on one thing…it’s more the driver than the ball, or a combo of the two. The modern driver with a spring face COR launches the harder ball when you have a high swing speed. The long get longer, the short hitters have gained very little. It takes speed to make that face flex, the rich got richer, the short got shorter in a relative sense.

  16. Tom

    Apr 12, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    The older folks probably said the same thing when they switched from hickory. You can’t fault advancements in technology.

  17. LLL

    Apr 12, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Lets go back to lumber

  18. Bryan

    Apr 12, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Hmmm…the modern golf ball did not seem to make Merion obsolete in 2013, did it?

    • Caddy

      Apr 12, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Only because other features were harder. Greens were never much more than about 8 on the stimp until the early 1980’s. Now 12-13 is normal on tour. Bobby Jones would have thought that was ridiculous. Augustas greens were made for slow speeds.

  19. Rae Ashley

    Apr 12, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    I totally agree with Mr. Nicklaus and Mr. Player!!! Why shouldn’t Golf have a standard ball like all other sports? Plus, I just love to hear these duffers and hackers criticize two of the greats. Total disrespect and actually very ignorant!!

    • Anton kruger

      Apr 13, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      It’s not being ignorant or disrespectful it’s fact that technology has improved the game and athletes are better than these two old timers who have nothing better to do or say and use the masters as a platform to create controversy to get press coverage . They had there time . Respect the new generation and their better abilities

  20. Stump

    Apr 12, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Did Jack and Gary play hickory and gutta percha balls or did they play steel shafts and a balata ball? I’ll bet Jack could hit his steel and balata 21 yards further than the older guys hit their hickory and GP.
    Jack was complaining about the ball back in the 80s. Ironic that Gary was complaining of technology while wearing the hat of one of the most advanced and expensive equipment companies.
    Maybe we should all watch the Masters on our black and white 13″ TVs…for only the last 9 holes on Sunday instead of streaming it.

  21. David

    Apr 12, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Old men complaining… A tradition unlike any other.

  22. frank cichon

    Apr 12, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    It is not Rocket Science or Brain Surgery…..the rules are there, just enforce them. I have volunteered several times at the PGA Tour stop in Vancouver BC and could not at two Canadian Opens that we had here several years ago (both times more people volunteered than were needed) Have 2 timers per group with a stop watch and time each player ….first slow time a warning, second slow time a 1 stroke penalty , second slow time 2 strokes.We would see twosomes play inside of 4 hours overnight.

  23. dat

    Apr 12, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Has a lot to do with the physical fitness of the best players of today. That gains more yards, period. Equipment is not out of control, except the ball – so it is likely a combo of both the ball and the gym work ethic these guys have today.

    If Nicklaus or Player were playing today, and in their former “prime” shape – they’d get destroyed. If they were around today, and worked at the same level as today’s best – they’d probably still be great, but not win like they did back then.

    • Funkaholic

      Apr 12, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

      • Jim regan

        Apr 12, 2019 at 3:19 pm

        Agree! Hey watching the Masters today these guys were hitting drivers that CARRIED 280-290!! This is ridiculous. jack and Gary know what they’re talking about.

    • Boyo

      Apr 12, 2019 at 5:37 pm

      You’re out of your Vulcan mind.

  24. Jose

    Apr 12, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    I get so tired of little short man syndromes. I saw a picture of Phil standing next to jack about 25 yrs ago and Phil made him look like the midget he is. What Jack never mentions is the pure Geometry of the game. If you hit a drive 280 yards and it’s on the right side of the fairway, then Dustin hits next on the exact line, he’s 30+ yards into the trees. Jack just needs to go away, his ego is bigger than his fat old gut he has hanging out. Fans go to watch pros to see them hut shots they can’t, which is why the LPGA doesn’t draw the numbers the guys do. They want to see things that amaze them, 240 yard drives aren’t amazing. You think golf is losing ground now, take amazing out of it and watch what happens.

    • Funkaholic

      Apr 12, 2019 at 2:56 pm

      Nicklaus hit the old ball with the old clubs 341 yards in 1963, you have no idea what you are talking about. If you don’t respect legends like him, you have no business on the course.

    • Joseph R Dreitler

      Apr 12, 2019 at 3:02 pm

      Because you never saw Jack when he was 22 years old. He was 6′” tall and is now about 5’8″. It happens when you get old. Like most old men, he’s lost height, a lot of it. The training argument is bogus. YouTube the 1971 All Star game when 170 pound, steroid-less Reggie Jackson took a Doc Ellis fastball and it was still climbing when it hit the light tower on top of the upper deck. Point is that there are not just 3 or 5 or 10 big/super guys hitting it this far, most of them on the Tour are. Is making golf courses obsolete.

    • Boyo

      Apr 12, 2019 at 5:38 pm

      Another moron speaks.

  25. Mike Cleland

    Apr 12, 2019 at 11:21 am

    It is a shame to see what has happened to Golf. No one walks, everyone rides around in their little golf carts loaded with beer & pretzels. My son, who is 5’7” tall & never works out, regularly hits 325 yard drives & 160 yard pitching wedges in between smokes. We have $500 drivers & $300 putters, $250 green fees & $10,000/year dues on mediocre country clubs. It takes 5+ hours to play 18 holes. The USGA & R&A are clearly in the pocket of the equipment companies. Kids are not taking up golf because it costs too much & parents that can’t afford to play golf. Gee, why is golf not growing?

  26. Chris

    Apr 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

    No disrespect to Jack or Gary, but they are playing a caricature of the two old muppets in the balcony. I understand their argument and concerns, but 1) these guys aren’t the same burger-eating, smoking, “everymen” of days of old. They are athletes. They hit a long ball partially because of the ball/equipment, but mostly because they have worked their arse off to be strong enough to unload a club like that. 2) These guys all have to putt and play a short game. The ball doesn’t help putting pressure. 3) Long balls go long into the woods too. It’s risk/reward – if you’re straight, great. If not, you’re no better off than a short knock. 4) Pick your battles – with the rules bumbling in the USGA and the US Open setup issues, introducing a new complication / controversy into the mix is just dumb and myopic.

    • dat

      Apr 12, 2019 at 1:29 pm

      100% Agree. These guys are now full blown athletes for the mostpart.

      Perhaps courses should focus on making long distance drives a major risk reward, narrow those fairways. Or, get the USGA/R&A to issue a joint ruling on golf ball limitations like they did with COR.

    • N

      Apr 12, 2019 at 3:49 pm

      No, it’s all equipment lol

    • acemkr9

      Apr 12, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      So they would hit a balata the same distance as the current balls because of their stature and strength? Obviously you never hit a balata with a persimmon!

    • Murv

      Apr 12, 2019 at 9:29 pm

      You got it right!

  27. R

    Apr 12, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Get rid of golf carts too, in between holes, and in between front and back 9s on Tour, and really see how long rounds take if they all actually had to walk every corner of the course without help. That should help eliminate more than half the courses on Tour easily that are all too big, too wide open.

  28. Brandon

    Apr 12, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Pretty simple to just narrow the fairways and make the rough unplayable for pro tournaments if they are worried about courses playing too easy.

    • R

      Apr 12, 2019 at 10:37 am

      Ditto

    • Jim K

      Apr 12, 2019 at 10:52 am

      It’s not so much a question of courses playing too easy; it’s about courses playing the way they were intended to be played. Narrowing fairways and growing rough won’t do that. It will just take the driver out of the game. It’s like baseball where a lot of people think the home run has become too big a part of the game. You could change that by moving all the fences back 50 feet, but that would also change the basic nature of the game. Restricting the ball in both sports would be the best way to restore the games to what they were intended to be.

    • Jim Garner

      Apr 12, 2019 at 10:55 am

      But all the folks that holler Bobba Booey and Uda Man would quit attending

  29. Thomas A

    Apr 12, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Player railing against modern technology, just signed a club deal with PXG. That’s rich.

    • R

      Apr 12, 2019 at 10:38 am

      Ditto

    • Justin Wheeler

      Apr 12, 2019 at 3:12 pm

      This was exactly my thought. Of course, they didn’t blame the equipment like drivers and irons. Watching The Masters now and seeing guys hit driver with 170+ ball speed. I’d be curious what the ball speeds were back in the day. It’s a combination of club, ball, strength and conditioning, efficiency, and agronomic conditions.

    • D

      Apr 12, 2019 at 7:34 pm

      That is a really good point.

  30. CC1718

    Apr 12, 2019 at 9:41 am

    Jack was one of the first guys to start making his own yardage books back in the day… I guess he can take some credit for the guys taking it one step further with the making green reading books… PGA should just give everyone an ipad and a GPS course app and maybe the pro game pace of play would speed up… Throw in a barometer too for DeChambeau so he can get his air pressure worked into his yardage…

    • Red Nelson

      Apr 12, 2019 at 5:18 pm

      I love the creative use of ellipsis. Or is this Morse code? dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot.
      “Help! I don’t know what I’m doing.”

  31. Gurn Blanstin

    Apr 12, 2019 at 9:14 am

    What do you have against grocers selling beans?

    I miss the rubber bands in the ole balata …

    • LoPro

      Apr 12, 2019 at 8:39 pm

      How many yards of rubber bands were in that ball?

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Bubba Watson makes $20,000 donation to First Tee of Detroit to honor Dan Gilbert

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Bubba Watson, who is teeing it up at this week’s inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, has donated $20,000 to The First Tee of Greater Detroit, wanting to honor what Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert has done for the city of Detroit.

According to The Detroit News, the multiple Masters champion decided to make the $20,000 donation following Monday’s youth clinic at the club.

“With Dan Gilbert, the Rocket Mortgage team, the tournament, I wanted to honor him somehow and the only way I could think of it, because of golf, is I’m going to donate $20,000 to The First Tee of Greater Detroit. I saw the (youth) clinic yesterday. So, sometime today a check will be going out for 20-grand coming here to Detroit and being here for The First Tee in honor of Dan Gilbert.”

Gilbert suffered a stroke at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak last month. Last week, company officials said Gilbert was discharged from the hospital and had now been moved to an in-patient facility, which is the typical next step in the recovery process of those who have suffered a stroke.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, a close friend of Gilbert, spoke in glowing terms after hearing of Watson’s donation, stating

“That’s awesome. I think what a lot of athletes don’t get credit for is there are so many things they do and so many people pulling at them. A little here, a little there and it adds up. So many of these guys do so many cool things for so many people.

It makes me feel good for a superstar like that to care about an area that he has no real connection here. I think that tells you the human element of this thing.”

Watson tees off in the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Thursday at 7.25 AM ET alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Billy Horschel.

And if you want to join Bubba, you can donate to the First Tee of Greater Detroit here

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Morning 9: ANWA keeps same date | WGHOF’s credibility issues? | Maria Fassi is coming

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

June 26, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Keeping the date
AP report…“The LPGA Tour will have a new tournament in Florida at the start of next year — and likely another one in the late spring. The Asian swing of limited-field events at the start of the year is adding a tournament with a full field and a cut.”
  • “And perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle: The ANA Inspiration is staying put. It again will be one week before the Masters and the same weekend as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which stole the spotlight from the LPGA Tour’s first major, not to mention some of the amateurs.”
  • “Still to be determined is whether it stays that way.”

Full piece.

2. Credibility issues? 
Geoff Shackelford…”A big congratulations to LPGA rookie Hannah Green on her first win and first major win in the KPMG LPGA Championship, nearly doubling her career earnings and already bringing her within one major win of World Golf Hall of Fame eligibility.”
  • As the World Golf Hall’s Twitter account reminded us:”
  • The tweet: “Hannah Green is one Major Championship closer to Hall of Fame qualification…

Full piece.

3. BMW coming back
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”The BMW Championship, one of the PGA Tour’s three FedEx Cup Playoff events, will have a new name in 2020, a source confirmed to Golf Digest on Tuesday.”
  • “The luxury automaker’s contract with the tour and Western Golf Association runs through this year’s tournament in August at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, and the source said the company will not stay on as title sponsor beyond that. Efforts are underway to find a replacement for BMW ahead of next year’s event.”

Full piece.

4. Dire straits
...more “no money for anything” than “money for nothing”…
Bill Speros with even more on Zach Sucher’s breakthrough (via Fore Play)
  • “I can’t even wrap my head around it, to be honest. Two months ago, we had two credit cards wrapped up. We talked about taking out loans on our house,” Sucher said in an interview with the Fore Play podcast from Barstool Sports.”
  • …”We can do two interest-free credit cards and we can max them out. When they’re maxed out, we’ll let them sit there and we will have 12 months to pay them off. And in 12 months we might be in a terrible place that we don’t even want to think about, but we bet on ourselves,” he told the Fore Play podcast.
5. 81 years old: 2 aces in 6 holes
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Last week 81-year-old Chuck Miller made two aces at the Cortez Course in Hot Springs, Ark. The first came on the 12th hole, a 135-yard par 3, the second at the 138-yard 17th. In both instances, Miller used a 6 iron.”
  • “When the first one went in on the 12th hole, I was really excited,”Miller told KARK.com. “It was a great shot over the front bunker onto the green; it bounced once or twice and went into the cup. We all jumped and shouted.”
6. Fassi cometh
AP report…[Maria Fassi and family]…”lived near the Club de Golf in Pachuca, about an hour north of Mexico City, and their mother wanted them active in as many sports as possible. Lorena Ochoa was just starting her rise to No. 1 in the world. Even so, golf was never a priority in soccer-mad Mexico.”
  • “I don’t think it’s a sport a kid would say, ‘Hey, Dad, I want to play golf,'” Fassi said. “We lived at a golf course in Pachuca, nine holes. I would go with my brothers to watch them hit. From there, the head pro says, ‘You come here, but you never hit.’ So I started swinging at it. And I really liked it.”
  • “And now the golf world is watching her, curious what her dynamic swing and personality can do for the LPGA Tour.”
7. The best golf club innovations? 
Terry Koehler, our resident “Wedge Guy” reflects…
“Thinking about this innovation or that got me pondering my own list of the most impactful innovations in equipment over my lifetime (the past 60 years or so). I want to offer this analysis up to all of you for review, critique, and argument.”
“Woods: I would have to say that the two that made the most impact on the way the game is played is the introduction of the modern metal wood by TaylorMade back in the 1980s, and the advent of the oversized wood with the Callaway Big Bertha in the 1990s. Since then, the category has been more about evolution than revolution, to me at least.”
“Irons: Here again, I think there are two major innovations that have improved the playability of irons for recreational golfers. The first is the introduction of the numbered and matched set, a concept pioneered by Bobby Jones and Spalding in the 1930s. This introduced the concept of buying a “set” of irons, rather than picking them up individually. The second would be the introduction of perimeter weighting, which made the lower lofted irons so much easier for less skilled golfers to get airborne. (But I do believe the steadfast adherence to the concept of a “matched” set has had a negative effect on all golfers’ proficiency with the higher-lofted irons)”

Full piece.

8. J.B. on the athletic tape putter grip
Solid work by Andrew Tursky getting the scoop on arguably the Tour’s most curious grip
  • “…Holmes’ SuperStroke Traxion Pistol GT 1.0 putter grip is wrapped with athletic tape that can be found in your local sporting goods store or pharmacy.”
  • About two years ago, Holmes says he started using athletic tape around his putter grip to combat sweaty hands.”
  • “Actually, Holmes doesn’t apply the tape himself, nor does he have a putter maker from the equipment trucks do it. Instead, he trusts his caddie, Brandon Parsons, to apply the athletic tape.”
9. Bagpipes out, Irish flute in for The Open…more programming notes
The Forecaddie writes Yanni’s “Celebration of Man” is getting some Irish flavor
  • “The theme, as you undoubtedly recall, was NBC’s longtime introduction for U.S. Open coverage. It was updated by Yanni when NBC took the music overseas for its coverage of the British. But with the event going to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, Yanni has woven in a more Irish sounding flute in place of the bold bagpipes used in re-imagining the catchy, dare The Forecaddie say, beloved theme music.”
  • “As for the important stuff: NBC and Golf Channel plan more than 200 hours of “linear programming” including 50 live hours of the actual golf. That’s easily more than any event on the calendar by TMOF’s calculations. Besides loads of coverage on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive and Live From, there will be a documentary commemorating the 10th anniversary of Tom Watson’s near-win at Turnberry (July 8, 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel) and a Sky Sports documentary chronicling “The Road To Royal Portrush” (July 15, 9 p.m. ET).”

 

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Detroit Golf City

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Woodward Avenue is a major thoroughfare in downtown Detroit. From it, you can see two very unique golf courses, close in proximity but miles apart in every other way.

The first course, the Detroit Golf Club,  is a lush 36-hole Donald Ross design. Privately owned and operated, DGC is set to host the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic this week. This will be the PGA Tour’s first regular event in Michigan since the Buick Open ended in 2009 and the first regular tour event ever for the city of Detroit.

The second course, Palmer Park, is city owned and currently closed. The grass is overgrown, but you can see the bones of a once proud 18-hole municipal track, winding through the 296 acres of the larger public park space of the same name. Originally opened in 1927, the Palmer Park golf course has always been a piece of inner-city Detroit’s fabric. But now it sits empty.

Niall Hay, the Chairman of the First Tee of Greater Detroit, is working hard for these two courses to help each other, and at the same time, help thousands of underprivileged kids in Detroit learn the great game of golf and all the positive things it can bring to their lives.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit was one of the program’s very first chapters. It began in 1997 as a partnership with the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, PGA Tour and the USGA with a simple goal to get more kids playing golf. It started as a way to bring affordable golf to communities that needed it. Detroit was an obvious choice, but eventually, like so many other things in Detroit, the economic recession caught up to it.

“During the economic meltdown, the chapter just went away for a variety of reasons. Mostly funding,” said Hay.

But in 2012, Hay, a former member of the Ohio State golf team, decided to look into exactly what went wrong with the First Tee program in Detroit. First, he met with past chairmen and former board members. They all gave the same story. The program just died a slow death as the funding dried up. Members of the board moved on to different things. But they all said it was a great organization and one of them suggested that Hay start it back up. “I was looking to potentially join a board, not found one,” Hay said with a chuckle. But it was him or no one. So he did it.

A small group in the city of Ann Arbor was already working with the First Tee on getting a chapter started for Washtenaw County, but funding was proving, yet again, to be an issue. So Hay and others had to wait for that to be resolved before they could obtain a letter of intent for a chapter in Detroit from The First Tee. But he was certain that his community needed the program in place.

“If we were going to do this,” Hay said,  “we need to do it in the city of Detroit, in the inner city and impacting underprivileged kids in the city and not in suburbs or other areas. We wanted to stay in downtown Detroit where there is the most need.”

The first steps were to form a foundation, gain 401(c)(3) non-profit tax status from the IRS and then form a diverse and talented board. This took some time. Then, they needed to find the money to fund it. This took more time. But Detroit is a strong community and several local businesses were willing to partner to get things back up and running. And in June of 2015, the First Tee of Greater Detroit began with its first green grass program.

Today, the program is as strong as ever, with over 500 students in the spring, summer and fall programs, which all act like a sort of camp for youth development and some golf. Additionally, the First Tee of Greater Detroit partners with local public schools to train its PE teachers to teach First Tee curriculum, the nine core values and related golf activities. Over 13,000 additional kids are reached in the National School Program.

For the first three years of The First Tee Detroit’s rebirth, the green grass program took place at Palmer Park.

“Back then, Palmer Park was a really rundown course. We focused our programming on the front nine, and some of the drier areas on the back,” Hay said. The course had issues with flooding and wasn’t in the best condition, but it was home. A place to play and practice regularly. But after a few years, the city put out a request for proposal, seeking additional management help for its public golf courses. “The First Tee was hoping to pull Palmer Park from the RFP and have the First Tee chapter raise money to make it a high quality 9 hole golf course,” Hay said. “It got pulled from the RFP, they signed with Signet, who put their money into the other three city courses and the Palmer Park course never reopened.”

“So now, the children of First Tee Greater Detroit are spread around a bit. They practice and play some at Rackham, one of the other public courses in Detroit. Some at Maple Lane. There are classes and clinics all around the city. “We do not have a home course or facility now but we have more traction with people. The more the First Tee gets bigger and bigger, the more we would love a home base.”

And with the PGA Tour’s new four-year deal with sponsor Quicken Loans and the Detroit Golf Club, golf interest in Detroit is getting a shot in the arm. More and more kids are signing up with the First Tee Program. And this is just the beginning. PGA Tour events across the tournament schedule are associated with their local First Tee Chapter. Most sites have youth experience areas where the First Tee Experience is promoted and encourages. The core values of the program are on display at tour events and children and their parents alike are exposed to a way to get involved with youth golf. The First Tee of Greater Detroit will have a tent at the Rocket Mortgage Classic adjacent to the Kids Zone.

And just as important, the PGA Tour events donate a percentage of their revenue with the First Tee Chapters. Detroit will be no different in that regard. And some chapters make hundreds of thousands of dollars from these tournaments. “We are one of the primary beneficiaries of the tournament,” Hay said. “The tournament itself will share some of the revenue with local charities. The First Tee of Detroit is one of the charities that will thankfully receive funding from the Rocket Mortgage Giving Fund.”

“It’s a game changer for us,” Hay said about the PGA Tour’s newest stop in Detroit. “It could take us to the next level. Our Board has never been more engaged. We have already seen a huge spike in interest. We have seen 40 to 50 percent more inquiries and kids signing up. Kids want to play and more volunteers are signing up to teach.” In fact, Summer and Fall registration is going on right now and the excitement continues to build.

The First Tee of Greater Detroit has experienced a rebirth. The City of Detroit has experienced a rebirth. And now, as thousands of golf fans drive down Woodward Avenue to watch the best players on the planet compete in the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, they might also look towards Palmer Park and see the spirit of golf sitting idly by, waiting for someone to give it a chance.

Funding, of course, is yet again the issue. But with the right investor(s), Palmer Park could experience a rebirth of its own. And that would not only help reinvigorate the heart of the city, but also the hundreds and soon to be thousands of kids who are discovering the game of golf with the First Tee Greater Detroit. The Rocket Mortgage event is a great start. Hopefully, this is just the beginning for Detroit golf.

“We’ve got hundreds of acres in the middle of the city where you could put in a really cool nine-hole course and short game area. It would be a great story for Detroit. And it would be great for our community and for these kids.”

If you are interested in helping by giving a donation, you can participate by doing so here.

 

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