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Morning 9: Feinstein: Don’t give up on Phil | PGA Tour pace-of-play policy | Golf Channel’s top 25 moments

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
January 14, 2020
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. Email me with your pace-of-play solutions in professional golf!
**Drop me a line (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com) if you’d like to talk about getting your message in front of the M9 readership.**

 

1. Don’t give up on Lefty!
So cautions John Feinstein after examining the record of modern professional golf in general and Philip Alfred Mickelson in particular…
  • “So, as he begins the year in which he will turn 50, at an event he has won twice, is it time to write off the man his myriad of fans love to call Lefty? Even though he’s actually right-handed?”
  • “History says no.”
  • “Golfers are frequently written off prematurely (see Woods, Eldrick T. and Nicklaus, Jack as prime examples) largely because they can re-find their game well into their 40s, long after most stars in other sports have retired to spouting clichés from a TV booth.”
  • “Mickelson was 33 before he won his first major title and had been labeled a guy who could win non-majors, contend in majors and make huge money off the golf course, but couldn’t win on a Sunday that truly mattered. He had 16 top-10s in majors, including a second in the U.S. Open; a second in the PGA and four thirds in the Masters-including three years in a row-2001, 2002 and 2003. He was frequently on or around the podium, but never at the top of it.”
2. Golf Channel’s most impactful moments since its inception
Hard to believe Golf Channel is 25 years old/hard to believe Golf Channel is only 25 years old all at once. How many years ago did they drop the “The”…I don’t remember…
Anyway…
Here’s the complete list, 1-25, of Golf Channel’s most impactful moments over the last quarter-century.
1.Tiger Woods wins 1997 Masters by 12 shots
2.Tiger Woods wins 2000 U.S. Open by 15 shots
3.Tiger Woods completes Tiger Slam (2000 U.S. Open – 2001 Masters)
4.Arnold Palmer passes away at age 87
5.Tom Watson nearly wins 2009 Open at age 59
6.Solid-core ball developed
7.Tiger Woods wins 2008 U.S. Open on one leg
8.Tiger Woods ends major drought at 2019 Masters
9.Tiger Woods wins third straight U.S. Amateur and then says, ‘Hello, world’
10.Rory McIlroy recovers from Masters collapse, wins 2011 U.S. Open by eight shots
3. The PGA Tour’s new pace-of-play policy
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“What’s not addressed…In Hawaii, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was adamant that the primary objective is not necessarily to speed up play. “A focus on time creates other problems,” Monahan said.”
  • “PGA Tour senior vice president and chief of operations Tyler Dennis confirmed that’s not the focus. “The overall round times haven’t really changed over the last 20 years,” Dennis said, citing research from historical ShotLink data. As such, these changes won’t address the amount of time it takes to play a round-especially on Thursdays and Fridays-or the difficulty some events face in finishing in the daylight.”
  • “So, what is the change? The hope is to modify the habits of players that are leading to the growing frustration of slow play. According to ShotLink data, the slowest 10 percent of players take an average of 63 seconds for shots around the greens, more than 25 seconds than that of their fastest 10 percent counterparts. Approach shots (55 seconds for the slowest 10 percent) are another area of frustration.”
4. PAC
Per Geoff Shackelford…”While GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard notes the inability of Bryson DeChambeau to have convinced caucus goers he was worthy of adding context to the council’s prime area of concern-slow play-I’m struck by the departure of Matt Kuchar. “
Press release…

For Immediate Release, the 2020 Slow Play Policy Advisory Council and players who have shown an ability to use their brain for other thoughts  besides those revolving around golf, I mean PAC:

PGA TOUR announces 2020 Player Advisory Council
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The PGA TOUR today announced the 16-member Player Advisory Council (PAC) for 2020. The PAC advises and consults with the PGA TOUR Policy Board (Board of Directors) and Commissioner Jay Monahan on issues affecting the TOUR.
2020 Player Advisory Council
Ryan Armour
Paul Casey
David Hearn
Harry Higgs
Charley Hoffman
Billy Horschel
Zach Johnson
Russell Knox
Anirban Lahiri
Peter Malnati
Rory McIlroy
Ryan Palmer
Jon Rahm
Kevin Streelman 
Justin Thomas
Harold Varner III
5. “I didn’t hit their shots” 
Via Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“Conversely, Palmer was not particularly apologetic about his part in this sequence.”
  • “On Sunday night, Palmer tweeted, “And for all those questioning the last hole, I’ll do it again next week so deal with it,” after his 18th hole bogey dropped him to T-4. He also sidestepped a question about why he didn’t hit a provisional, faux congratulating a Twitter user for “The Only Negative Tweet of the day Award”
  • “However, Palmer must have received similar questions about the provisional throughout the night, because on Monday morning he responded that the final-hole adventures of Steele and Smith weren’t his fault, remarking “I didn’t hit their shots!”
(And on Twitter) @RyanPalmerPGA: I didn’t hit their shots!!
6. 3 putts from 4 feet, minus $100K
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…“Lost in the craziness of Sunday night’s wild finish at the Sony Open was a most disappointing end to an otherwise-solid week for Collin Morikawa.”
  • “Morikawa, who won his first PGA Tour title as a non-member last summer at the Barracuda Championship, was 1 over for the day but appeared headed for a final round of even-par 70 as he stared down a short putt for birdie at the par-5 18th.”
  • “Instead, he three-putted from 4 feet, racing the first putt by the hole and lipping out the comebacker for bogey and a round of 2-over 72.”

Full piece.

7. Open champ exemption for LAA winner
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta again…”For the first time in the Latin America Amateur Championship’s six-year history, its winner will receive an exemption into the game’s oldest major.”
  • “The event, which has offered a Masters invitation to its winner every year since its inception in 2015, will now also offer a spot in The Open Championship.”
  • “We are delighted to offer a place in The Open for the winner of the 2020 Latin America Amateur Championship,” Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, said in a statement.
8. The world’s highest golf tournament!
Golf Digest’s Oliver Horovitz on teeing it up in the Himalayas…
  • “Listen, Ollie, I’ve got some exciting news. There’s going to be a major golf event here very soon. The world’s highest golf tournament….
  • It will be played up at Kongde Ri. That’s 14,000 feet. We’re going up in choppers.”…There’s a pause, then Deepak arrives at his main point…”I think you should come over for it.”
  • “I first visited Nepal in April 2016, with my friends Miles and Vlad. After trekking to Everest Base Camp, we put together an article on Nepal’s little-known golf scene. There are six courses in Nepal, including Royal Nepal Golf Club and the wonderfully named Yak Golf Club, Himalayan Golf Course and Nirvana Country Club. There are 700 golfers, of which one in 10 is a professional, earning cards at an annual Q school for the Professional Golf Tour of Nepal.”

Full piece.

9. XR vs. a golf course
Via bunkered…”The climate change pressure group Extinction Rebellion has been branded “unreasonable” after it protested for a golf course in Brighton to be closed for “re-wilding”.”
  • “Stephen Garrioch, the captain of Hollingbury Golf Club, hit out at the group after its activists staged a protest in the East Sussex town at the weekend.”
  • “The campaigners are calling upon Brighton and Hove Council, which operates the facility, to abandon the course and let it grow naturally to encourage wildlife.”

Full piece.

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  1. Phil A. Buster

    Jan 14, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    Put em on a clock. It doesn’t take 3 minutes to read a putt from 46 feet that they aren’t gonna make anyway. You don’t need 8 practice swings around the green either.

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GolfWRX’s 2020 PGA Merchandise Show coverage: What’s ahead

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GolfWRX staffers are presently scouring the range at the Orange County National Golf Center for PGA Show Demo Day. You can snack on some photo and video morsels—including the “3-Shot Challenge”—on our Instagram and in our Instagram stories.

Johnny Wunder testing the new Titleist T100-S irons (video in our Instagram story)

The crew have also gotten quick demos of the Cobra SZ Extreme driver, Titleist T400 irons, and an impressive new driver from Tour Edge so far as well as the new Callaway Mavrik and Mizuno ST200G drivers.

This evening, we’ll begin loading up the forums with photos from Demo Day.

We’ll post our daily recap pieces, along with takeaways from the crew on the ground, and when we see an absolute showstopper, we’ll do a deeper dive in article form.

Brian Knudson checking out a new Ping G710 iron.

Stay tuned!

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Morning 9: Gaby! | Happy 80th, Jack | Pace of play picking up on Euro Tour? | Tiger in 2020

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
January 21, 2020
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. The equipment buffet that is PGA Show Demo Day is today!
Also: Happy 80th birthday, Jack Nicklaus!

 

1. Gaby!
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins…“The 18th hole at the Tranquillo Golf Club is so hard to birdie, it felt like the playoff at the LPGA season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions might go on forever. And it sort of did. Mexico’s Gaby Lopez and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka played the No. 18 five extra times on Sunday evening (Inbee Park played it with them twice, eventually getting knocked out by a bogey on her third try) until darkness made it impossible to go any more.”
  • “So Lopez and Hataoka returned to the tricky 197-yard, downhill, water-to-the left, windy par 3 on a chilly Monday morning. After the pair made pars again on their sixth try, Lopez, who had birdied the hole twice in regulation-two of just five birdies made for the entire week-was able to do it one more time on the seventh playoff hole. It was enough to best Hataoka, securing Lopez, 26, her second career LPGA Tour victory.”
2. A legacy of character
John Feinstein reflects on how we’ll remember the Golden Bear, who is turning 80…
“Nicklaus turns 80 on Tuesday and there isn’t any doubt that just about everyone who has crossed his path during his remarkable life would agree with Alliss-and then some.”
  • “What you need to remember when you talk about him is that he wasn’t just the greatest winner in golf history, he was also the greatest loser,” says David Feherty. “Every time he finished second in a major [19 times], he went out of his way to make sure the winner got to enjoy what he had accomplished. He wasn’t just gracious, he was more than that. He was willing to humble himself-to always say, ‘The best man won.’ That may have been true on that occasion, but it was never true over the long haul. There was never any real reason for Jack Nicklaus to be humble. And yet, he was.”
  • “…It is that generosity of spirit that sets Nicklaus apart. During his Memorial Tournament each spring, he sits in the player dining area on Tuesday and Wednesday and welcomes the players, asks how they like the golf course, and if they need anything to make their week more enjoyable. When you ask players about that, most just shrug and say, “That’s Jack.”
3. “What Jack means to me”
Rory McIlroy’s perspective, via Golfweek, which has a collection of players offering their perspectives on the 18-time major champion.
  • “Jack has meant so much to me. That week we had lunch at the Bear’s Club and he gave me some advice then. Over the years, I live at his golf course, I practice at the Bear’s Club, I’ve lived there for nine years, and I see him a lot. And I’ve met Barbara and his children, as well. They are such a nice family. I think more so than anything else, they’ve kept who Jack Nicklaus is and all the stuff he’s done on the golf course and they’ve kept this normalcy about them. It’s endearing. They take an interest in other people, they do so much for charity, they are the epitome of being a class act and how you want to be. Jack and Barbara are great role models for me and Erica (McIlroy’s wife) in what they do for the community and charity. They are such a wonderful family.
  • “He has been the best at giving advice on how to play golf. Not how to swing, but how to play the game. He’s talked to me about his strategy and how to play the golf course and how to play the game and what he thought. The common denominator for him and Tiger is they are the best thinkers in the game. Just to pick Jack’s brain about that, and about preparation, and how he got himself around a golf course, that’s the best advice you can get. He was a master at playing the game.”

Full piece.

4. First slow play data is quickly here
The BBC’s Ian Carter…”This was the first event under the Tour’s new protocols on pace of play. More draconian rules mean two bad times during the entire competition – not just a single round – can lead to penalty”
  • “…Officials analysed timings from the Abu Dhabi first round compared with last year when similar weather conditions prevailed”
  • “Interestingly, the first round was actually 10 minutes quicker this year,” McFee stated.
  • “And the second round was about six minutes quicker, so both rounds were quicker.”

 

5. Daniel Tosh’s nephew leads
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…“Mickey DeMorat fired a second-round, 7-under 65 on Monday to take the 36-hole lead at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Bahamas Great Abaco Classic.”
  • “The 24-year-old DeMorat birdied seven of his first nine holes to card a front-nine, 7-under 29 at Baha Mar’s Royal Blue Golf Course in Nassau, this year’s host of the tournament after the Abacos were devastated by Hurricane Dorian last September. At 11 under, DeMorat leads Scott Gutschewski by a shot.”
  • “….DeMorat, who lives in the quiet intracoastal community of Merritt Island on the east coast of Florida, is the nephew of comedian Daniel Tosh, who tweeted non-stop support of his nephew during that U.S. Open at Shinnecock.”
6. Sam Torrance recovering after stroke
Martin Dempster at The Scotsman…“Ryder Cup legend Sam Torrance is hoping to make a full recovery after suffering a stroke.”
  • “The 66-year-old had a stent inserted in his neck on Boxing Day after being admitted to hospital.”
  • “He is now back home in Sunningdale, where the man who holds the record for most appearances on the European Tour is making good progress.”

Full piece.

7. On Rory’s equipment switch
Golf.com’s Andrew Tursky talked to to Keith Sbarbaro, VP of Tour Operations at TaylorMade, about the Ulsterman’s equipment changes ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open. McIlory is bagging the company’s SIM driver, woods, and, interestingly, hybrid.
  • “The rescue is really consistent,” Sbabarbo told GOLF.com. “I think with the rescue compared to the 5-wood, he feels like he has more control. He can hit it low and he can hit it high. He’s getting perfect numbers; perfect launch, perfect spin. He can hit it as high as the 5-wood and as low as his 790 2-iron…he can actually tee off with (the rescue) and keep it down. It’s just way more versatile.”
  • “…With the driver, McIlroy has gone up in loft slightly compared to last year, and he’s finding more speed and forgiveness”
  • “The driver has been incredible,” Sbarbaro said. “He’s been able to go into more loft with the SIM, so it should be more forgiving. He’s got more loft and the spin is more consistent. He’s not getting the low spins or the high spins. His speeds are obviously… everyone is getting more ball speed (with the SIM drivers). They’re picking up a minimum of 1-1.5 mph of clubhead speed. You pick up club head, you’re going to pick up ball speed; it’s as simple as that.”
8. What to expect from TW in 2020
An ESPN roundtable discussion concerning one Tiger Woods…
“Did the end of 2019 set expectations too high for 2020?”
“Bob Harig: No doubt. But it’s understandable. Expectations were extremely low after the summer, when Woods seemed like a guy who had sold his soul to win the Masters. The poor form, the bad back, a withdrawal due to an oblique injury. Woods never looked right. And then he had knee surgery, which suggested he’d have even more issues with his game. And yet, that unlocked all of the issues. Woods, after a shaky start, won in Japan. He played well enough to win in the Bahamas. And he was the best player at the Presidents Cup. It’s hard not to think everything is moving in the right direction as 2020 begins for him.”
  • “Michael Collins: Didn’t matter. Let’s be honest, even if Woods had finished last at Zozo and gone 0-3 at the Presidents Cup, all everyone would do is make excuses for why those didn’t matter and “blah blah blah” is why Tiger is going to shatter 2019. It’s Tiger Woods — when do all of us not overreact? Or does everyone forget “experts” picking him to win the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla after back surgery and a WD at the Bridgestone Invitational two weeks earlier?”

Full piece.

9. Moment of Zen: Smoltz’s standing putter
Geoff Shackelford…”I’m guessing the folks who didn’t like pro golfers leaving the flag in to putt-remember those days!-won’t be approving of the Bloodline putter use on grand stages…The look has always been of genuine hacker who watched an infomercial, but now with John Smoltz doing this en route to the Diamond Resorts win, might it have received a vote of legitimacy?”

 

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2020 Ping Heppler putters

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Say hello to the all-new 2020 Heppler putter family from Ping Golf.

Ping has always pushed the technology envelope, especially when it comes to putters and manufacturing techniques. The Heppler putters are no exception and are a combination of (big breath in)

  • State of the art manufacturing processes
  • Acoustically tuned high MOI shapes
  • Multi-material construction
  • Analysis-driven alignment tools
  • Fully customizable—including off-the-shelf length adjustability

Beyond just the technology, the new putters are also a tribute to Ping’s long-standing commitment to honoring heritage, family, and the individuals that helped build the company from a garage startup to one of the world’s largest golf club manufacturers.

From Ping:

The Heppler putter family is named in honor of Rick Heppler, a longtime Ping employee who began his career with the company as a teenager in 1966. The son of a General Electric co-worker of Ping Founder Karsten Solheim, Rick was hired by Karsten to help John A. Solheim build putters in the family garage. Rick eventually held several management positions at Karsten Manufacturing Corporation before passing away in a motorcycle accident in 2013.

“Rick was part of the Ping family for almost 50 years,” said John. “He was a dear friend who contributed greatly to our success in all that he did. Naming this putter series after him is a tribute to his dedication to our company and its employees.”

Solid-face technology

Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to call a flat putter face “technology,” but if we look past whether it is or isn’t, the reasoning behind the Heppler series departing from the TR (True Roll) face makes sense. The first being louder audible feedback for players that struggle with distance control. The second: to provide more options.

“We saw a high percentage of testers improve their ‘Strokes Gained’ results with a Heppler model, indicating that many golfers prefer the firmer sound and feel of a solid-face design,”
said Solheim. “We see the new putters as an appealing alternative to our Sigma 2 series, which offers a softer feel and sound through its dual-durometer insert and TR face technology. Our primary goal is to provide golfers a custom-fit putter with their desired feel and sound while delivering the performance and consistency they need to hole more putts.”

Multiple materials, multiple faces

To boost the MOI of each model in the Heppler Series, Ping used a combination of steel and aluminium parts to push weight to the perimeter of the designs. To create precise geometry, the engineers at Ping decided to use a high-pressure casting technique to better position weight around the heads to increase performance, which was especially useful when creating the highest MOI Tomcat 14

“The advantage of pressure casting is we can achieve highly precise design details while allowing our engineers much greater freedom to position weight where it benefits the putter’s performance the most,” said Solheim.

Let’s touch on the face for a moment. You’ll quickly notice the face material changes throughout the putter line, from either aluminum or steel, depending on the model. The reason behind the shifting face materials is based on positioning mass in each head to maximize forgiveness and optimize the center of gravity.

Adjustable-length shaft and grip options

As with the Sigma 2 putter, Ping is continuing to offer the adjustable length shaft in the Heppler; giving golfers the ability to customize length between 32 and 36 inches to fit their stroke and posture. The difference between previous versions of the shaft is the new Heppler putter shafts are finished in black chrome. For the consumer, Ping has made adjusting length a quick and simple process by simply placing the included adjustment tool into the top of the grip and turn until the putter reaches the desired length.

The are four Ping stock grip designs available to allow golfers to find their optimal fit and feel.

  • The PP59 is the standard grip, and its shape is inspired by the popular PP58.
  • The Midsized PP60 is lightweight and designed to fit comfortably into the contours of the hands with flats on the top and sides.
  • The PP61 is slightly heavier than the P60 and has a more exaggerated pistol shape.
  • The PP62, is larger and more rounded to reduce hand movement during the stroke while still remaining lightweight.

Price, availability

Starting today, January, 20 the Heppler putter are available for pre-order.

The designs include; Anser 2, ZB3, Piper C, Tyne 3, Fetch, Ketsch, Floki, Tomcat 14, and Piper Armlock.

Depending on the model, the putters range from $245 for the blade styles to $270 for the higher MOI Designs.

 

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