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Opinion & Analysis

Golfing gods smiling on Australia at last

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As a proud Australian and passionate golfer I know more than most what being second best feels like.

Behind the beauty and splendor of Augusta National hides the frustration felt by a nation of so many near misses.

I wasn’t alive or playing golf when Jim Ferrier, Bruce Crampton, Jack Newton and Greg Norman in 1980 and 1987 all came up short in the Masters. I remember agonizing through Greg Norman’s final-round 78 in 1996 that left me feeling guttered and distraught. Every year we get reminded how close we’ve come and ask the question, will this be the year?

Adam Scott’s victory in the Masters didn’t just win Australia its first green jacket, he won our faith back in the game. It would be easy to sit back and sulk about missed opportunities and complain that the Masters was never meant to be. However, Scott’s victory showed us that if you keep knocking on the door, eventually it will open.

Tiger Woods once said you some need luck to win a major, something to go your way, a lucky bounce or a lucky break. While Tiger’s luck deserted him on No. 15 during the second round, Scott enjoyed his own slice of good fortune during the final round. His second shot to the par five No. 13 from 190 yards hit the front of the green only to spin back and roll down the bank. Almost every ball that lands short of the 13th green rolls back into the water. As I watched and saw the ball come to rest safely before the waters edge, I wondered if at long last our luck was changing. Perhaps destiny was calling Adam, this is your time.

Adam Scott’s fortunes on No. 13 reminded me of Freddie Couples tee shot to No. 12 in 1992 that amazingly held up on the front edge of the green. The gods were smiling on Freddie that day also. He too took full advantage of his good fortune and played his way to victory and his first and only green jacket.

Adam Scott’s victory hasn’t just buried the demons of a golfing nation, it’s given hope and inspiration to golf lovers worldwide that if you keep believing and keep persisting your dreams can come true.

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Troy Vayanos was born and still resides in Brisbane, Australia. He has been a passionate golfer for more than 20 years and loves learning and increasing his knowledge of the golf swing. He lives and breathes golf from his local golf course to the professional tours around the world. His ‘Hitting It Solid’ website focuses primarily on helping golfers break 100 in golf and beyond. You’ll learn everything from how to play a round of golf with just 27 putts to gaining 30 yards more distance off the tee. You can learn more about Troy and Hitting It Solid here: Website: http://www.HittingItSolid.com Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/hittingitsolid Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/HittingItSolid YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/HittingItSolid/

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: “Sweetens Cove Golf Club” in South Pittsburg, Tennessee

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem is our first ever double submission! That’s right, two GolfWRX members have now submitted Sweetens Cove Golf Club in South Pittsburg, Tennessee as their favorite Hidden Gem golf course. Here’s what they both had to say below.

bogey pro

“It’s a 9 hole course that is all about the golf.  It doesn’t have a fancy club house.  It’s minimalist and pure golf.  It’s always in excellent shape and very fun.  It is a real treat to play and people come from all over to play it.  I’ve never heard a bad word about it.  Its very similar to a links style course with rolling fairways, waste bunkers, large fast undulating greens.  From the website, it is ranked 50th in Modern Course and ranked #1 course in Tennessee for the last 3 years.”

FairwayFred

“While starting to get too much publicity to be considered a hidden gem it’s hard to argue that Sweetens Cove isn’t one of the best golf values in the country.  For $40 peak season you can play 18 at the #1 ranked course you can play in TN and Golf Weeks 50th ranked modern course.  What Sweetens lack in holes (its a 9 hole course) it more than makes up for with amazing variety, incredible green complexes, firm and fast turf and in my opinion the best set of artistic bunkers I’ve ever seen anywhere.  Rob Collins the principal architect (and now the head of the management team) built the course by hand with his partner Tad King.  Rob has OVER 700 days on site working on the build.  That is almost unheard of in golf course architecture and construction and is the main reason why all the little details at Sweetens are so good.  The main thing at Sweetens is playing golf there is about FUN which is not always the case.  Definitely one to seek out regardless of budget.”

According to the Sweetens Cove website, course rates range from $25 to $65 depending on the day of the week, time of the year and time of day. Also, they have a $100 play-all-day rate (with a cart) and a $60 walk all day rate. Sweetens Cove is located approximately 25 minutes from downtown Chattanooga.

Know a local course that you can play for under $50 that deserves recognition? Submit your hidden gem here

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Podcasts

The Cart Barn (Ep. 2): “How many hours does a club pro really work per week?”

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Do club pros really work as much as they say? Assistant pro Steve Westphal and GolfWRX Editor Andrew Tursky discuss how many hours go into working in the industry. They also discuss course architecture, course architects and their favorite golf courses.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Want to be an elite junior golfer? Play a shorter and easier home course

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Let’s start with a thought experiment: You’re building a long-term plan with your parents to become a world-class golfer. You create a list. How important is being a member of a nice golf course? Is it worth the money to join somewhere swanky, or will the local muni do?

If you are like most junior golfers I have spoken to, facilities matter, and you want to be a member of that 7400-yard course with perfect greens. Based on this preference, I wanted to look at the data; what type of courses produce PGA Tour players? What can we learn from them? With the help of many of my friends in golf, I started to compile a list of PGA Tour players and their home golf courses when they were between 12-16 years old.

Here is what I came up with

  • Justin Thomas – Harmony Landing: 6,645 (130 course rating)
  • Justin Rose – North Hants: 6,250
  • Brooks Koepka – Bear Lakes: 7,439 (141)
  • Jordan Spieth – Brookhaven: 6,820 (133)
  • Rory McIlroy – Hollywood Golf Club: 6,056
  • Bubba Watson – Tanglewood Golf Club: 6,302 (124)
  • Phil Mickelson – Stardust: 6,550 (126)
  • Zach Johnson – Elmhurst: 6,500 (128)
  • Webb Simpson – Raleigh Golf: 6,869 (135)
  • Bryson DeChambeau – Dragon Fly: 7,273 (135)
  • Ryan Moore – The Classic: 6,903 (134)
  • Tiger Woods – Navy Golf Course: 6,780 (129)
  • Ollie Sciednerjans – Bentwater: 6,741 (142)
  • Xander Schauffele – Bernardo Heights: 6,679 (131)
  • Chez Reavie – Dobson Ranch: 6,630 (121)
  • Patrick Cantlay – Virginia Country Club: 6,633 (130)
  • Jason Dufner – Weston Hills: 7,060 (129)
  • Adam Hadwin – Morgan Creek: 6,948 (136)
  • Emiliano Grillio -Chaco Golf Club: 6,749 (130)
  • Charles Howell III – Augusta Country Club: 7,125 (136)
  • Julian Suri – South Hampton: 7,028 (138)
  • Aaron Wise – Eagle Glen: 6,869 (139)
  • Peter Uihlein – IMG Academy: 6,842 (136)
  • Brandon Stone – Centurion: 6,830 (131)

Starting to notice something? Based on the data of these 24 PGA Tour players, their average home course has a yardage of 6,772 and slope of 132. Wowzers! Can’t believe it? It makes perfect sense: To be competitive in golf, you must shoot under par. Shooting under par, like riding a bike, or walking, or writing, is a skill. It is developed through a combination of repetition and feedback.

Easier golf courses allow players the opportunity to shoot lower scores and build confidence. Over time, these skills become habit. When players enter tournaments, it is more likely they shoot under par. Breaking par at your home golf course is only the first step towards becoming an elite junior golfer. The data suggests that players (both boys and girls) need to average approximately 69 per round to win on the AJGA — on 6,800-yard courses for boys and just under 6,000 yards for girls.

No major championship venue has ever had a junior member go on to win, or even play, the PGA Tour. That’s right: the PGA Tour is not filled with junior members from Augusta National. Why? Because while playing Shinnecock Hills is an absolute treat, the course is extremely difficult, and 74 is a great score. Junior members at such courses create habits of shooting 74, and when they enter tournaments, like the AJGA, in general, they get beat.

So where should you be a member if you are a junior golfer with aspirations of college golf or beyond? Great question. In an ideal world the course would have the following:

  1. Unlimited access to a facility that is approximately 6,700 yards long with a slope of about 130. The goal on this golf course is to break par often and work towards a handicap of +3 by your 18th birthday.
  2. Somewhere with other talented players. Although, it would be great if they are other juniors, more importantly you want players of about the same skill who will offer you a competitive match a couple times a week.

As always, if you have any feedback on this article or a story idea, please feel free to reach out to me! Always love hearing from people and helping them connect with schools that meet their academic, athletic, social and financial needs!

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