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Morning 9: 78% of courses open | Koepka: November Masters wining score will be around E | Tiger’s next start?

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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.
May 6, 2020
Good Wednesday mornings, golf fans.

 

1. Latest NGF report
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…“The National Golf Foundation’s latest research for the week ending May 3 shows a significant increase of open golf courses nationwide with 78% of courses now open for play.”
  • “That’s an increase of 20% on last week’s figures, and the NGF is estimating that in just two weeks, 90% of courses will be open throughout the U.S.”
  • “With courses in Washington and New Hampshire re-opening within the next seven days, just three states have an order in place temporarily closing their tracks – Massachusetts, Vermont and Maryland.”
  • “The most significant surge in open courses came in the mid-Atlantic, with New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania seeing a combined 221% jump in open courses.”

Full piece.

2. Golf fares well (relatively)  in WAPO reopening poll
Geoff Shackelford filed a blog post on some interesting data from a Washington Post survey…”While a majority still opposed golf courses reopening (59%), the numbers that likely speak to an overall misunderstanding of how the sport works safely or just traditional elitist-sport apathy. But first place is better than most.”
  • “…Gun stores are next, with 70 percent saying they should not be reopened, followed by barbershops and hair salons (69 percent opposed) and retail shops such as clothing stores (66 percent opposed) and golf courses (59 percent opposed).”
3. Defiance in Massachusetts
Todd Kelly at Golfweek…”A Massachusetts golf course owner is preparing to re-open two courses this week in defiance of the statewide ban on the activity, according to a report by Fox News.”
  • “Cara Cullen owns the Wachusett Country Club in West Boylston and the Kettle Brook Golf Club in Paxton. Both courses closed in March because they’re considered “nonessential businesses.”
  • “…Basically for five weeks, I’ve sat by watching my family business get destroyed while thousands of golfers have crossed the borders to go to Connecticut and New York, which is causing huge safety concerns. … There’s like 47 states that have opened golf courses. By not opening golf courses, [Baker’s] actually creating a more hazardous condition,” Cullen told Fox News.

Full piece.

4. Reshaping golf? 
Credit to Geoff Shackelford for highlighting this excerpt from Global Golf Post’s Ron Green’s report on the future of top-tier men’s professional golf…
  • “Multiple leaders within the game believe some form of consolidation between the PGA Tour and the European Tour is coming. The European Tour needs it. The PGA Tour can benefit from it.”
  • “It’s important for the PGA Tour, according to multiple sources, that the European Tour emerges intact from its current uncertainty. Different, but still here. At professional golf tours around the world, a forced reimagining is underway.”
  • “Of immediate importance to the PGA Tour is getting through what will be at least a three-month suspension of tournament competition. Each week the tour sits idle, it costs the organization millions of dollars.”
5. #LikeArnie
PGATour.com staff report…“The Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation today announced a campaign of charitable efforts to support people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Called “#LikeArnie,” the campaign operates from the premise that “hungry kids can’t learn” and aims to support youth and educators across the country, including those in a number of PGA TOUR event communities. #LikeArnie builds on the Palmer Foundation’s immediate response to the pandemic, in which masks and face shields were provided to more than 20,000 workers at Orlando Health, of which the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies are part.”
“Through the Feeding America® member food banks, #LikeArnie will support the provision of nutritious food to children in Orlando, Fla. (the Foundation’s home city and site of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard), in Arnold Palmer’s hometown of Latrobe, Pa., and in nearby Pittsburgh. In addition, Feeding America food banks, Food Banks Canada, and FareShare in the U.K. have received gifts in support of 10 communities that were impacted by the cancelation of PGA TOUR events. Focusing on children’s educational challenges, the Palmer Foundation is providing a major gift for the new DonorsChoose Keep Kids Learning initiative, which will support students and teachers across the nation. Also, in partnership with other organizations, the Foundation will address educational needs for children in Orlando.”
6. Tom Watson: How Byron Nelson enriched my life
While we’re missing the Byron Nelson this year, at least we have some excellent tournament-related content from PGATour.com, including this reflection from Tom Watson…
  • “Even before meeting him, I had considered him one of the greats, mainly because of my father’s love of golf history. He always talked about the Great Triumvirate – Nelson, Snead and Hogan. My dad’s favorite was Snead and his golf swing. But he always told me, “You know, that Nelson, he had a dip in his swing but man, could he really play.”
  • “The next time I saw Byron, though, was under less-than-ideal circumstances. It was a few months later after the final round of the ’74 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. The day before, I shot 69 to take the lead and had a chance to win my first major. But that Sunday, I shot 79 in the final round to give it away. Afterwards, I was up on the second floor of the clubhouse, having a beer with my friend John Mahaffey. In walks Byron – Lord Byron — and the place goes silent. He stood at the swinging doors there and asked me a question. “Tom, could I speak with you for just 5 minutes?”
  • “I went out to meet him for that private conversation. He started out, “I really enjoy watching you play. You conduct yourself well. You played great yesterday. And today, your swing was just a little bit off. I think you got a little fast, which is typical to do when you have a chance to win the U.S. Open. I know of what I speak.”
7. Where will Tiger play next? 
ESPN’s Bob Harig contemplated Woods’ full schedule, including if he’ll play a tournament before the Memorial… Here are his thoughts on the first two events on the calendar…
  • “June 11-14: Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial...Woods’ lone appearance in the event came in 1997, when he finished fourth a week after winning his first start since capturing the Masters by claiming the Byron Nelson Championship. Colonial apparently wasn’t much to his liking at the time, but it would seem to be now. And if Woods is really itching to play, the first event back makes a lot of sense.”
  • “June 18-21: RBC Heritage….Another event Woods has played just once — a tie for 18th in 1999 — at a course that didn’t seem to suit him but now very well might. Harbour Town Golf Links is the kind of place he should love, especially the way he is so adept at working the ball on a layout that demands it. Plus, he can summon his yacht, Privacy, to the South Carolina shore. This one makes plenty of sense too, but Tiger isn’t going to play both of the first two. You’d think he would play one of them, however. This is the week previously scheduled for the U.S. Open, which has been moved to September.”
8. Julieta Granada: Unfortunate psychic? 
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“Two weeks ago, Julieta Granada had a dream that someone stole her 2010 Range Rover with her golf clubs inside. She woke up sweating.”
  • “Granada, 33, said the dream was so real she told everyone about it…”Well that’s crazy,” her boyfriend told her, “because a car recently got stolen like three houses down.”
  • “On Sunday, Granada’s nightmare became a reality. She’d left her keys in her boyfriend’s locked car in front of his Lake Nona home in Laureate Park. When she went outside to retrieve her keys, they were gone. Along with her Range Rover, which was parked about 200 yards away.”
9. Masters where even par wins? 
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“I don’t think any of us know what to expect,” Koepka said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show.”
  • “Koepka raised a litany of questions, ranging from whether the course will be overseeded to the potential length of any rough. But after posting a total of 12 under a year ago, he expects much tougher scoring this fall.”
  • “Among the factors raising the difficulty could be the wind. According to Koepka, players can expect the prevailing winds to come from a different direction in the fall, which could make Nos. 13 and 15 more difficult to reach in two.”
  • “It’s going to be so cold. Balls aren’t going to be flying as far,” Koepka said. “Every par-5 basically plays into the wind from what I’ve been told. It’s going to change the golf course. I think you’ll see scores around even par instead of that 12, 15 under that you’ve been accustomed to. And I think it could really affect the back nine.”
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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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