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Stalag Golf, P.O.W. Style



While visiting the USGA Museum archives I was exposed to something special that made me realize how important golf is to many of us. As an Army veteran myself, I appreciate others’ sacrifices for country both past and present. This is a short story of sacrifices past.

Many brave soldiers and airmen were captured and taken prisoner by the enemy during World War II. Many of these men were imprisoned in German prisoner of war camps, or stalags. These soldiers endured hardships many of us will never even begin to understand. Many more never made it home alive as these hardships took their toll on them, cutting their precious lives short.  For the most part, our enemies certainly did not care about the welfare of their prisoners of war.

How does golf fit into war? Well, it seems that in between the valiant struggle for daily survival, our boys found a way to play a little golf. Who could blame them? This goes to show that to many of us, golf is really more than just a game, it is a way of life and could even provide a momentary escape from a prison camp. Not an escape outside the walls, although many of those were certainly attempted. I mean an inner escape where golf became a refuge of sorts from the monotomy of prison life.

It seems that the YMCA and the American Red Cross found a way to send over many items to our brave boys. Food, medicine, clothing, shoes and in fact, golf clubs were even included in these care packages. It seems crazy, the notion of playing golf in a prison camp. It seems even crazier that the ememy would allow such a thing. One can only surmise that our boys must have had some extra time on their hands and that their captors wanted them occupied so as not to cause trouble for the guards.

I searched in vain all over the internet to see what I could learn about the POW’s and  golf. Without access to special library files,  the pickings were pretty slim. Almost all I found was a former American bomber crewmember’s personal website about his ordeal and capture which led to his imprisonment in Stalag Air Luft 3. This man is surely well into his 80’s by now, but he took the time to exchange a few e-mails with me about the subject of golf and stalags.

Arthur Starratt found it a tough pill to swallow that GI’s would even use leather from their boots to make something silly like a golf ball. According to Mr. Staratt, “It’s hard to believe guys would cut up their shoes to make golf balls. At Stalag Luft One the goons would issue a P.O.W. a pair of shoes that were never the right size. So you would walk all over the camp to find someone who had your size and than he would walk around to swap with some one that had his size. When you got a pair that fit, cutting them up to make golf balls would be the last thing I would do.”  Ahhh, obviously Mr. Staratt was never addicted to golf. My passion for the game leads to believe that all that was needed was a very small piece of leather to construct the ProV1 of the day. I don’t want to make light of others’ struggles, but during basic training we constructed a real chess board out of paper and hid it from the drill sergeants. We played chess in the barracks every chance we got, it was simply an escape from the nightmare we were in. Certainly, not the real hell prisoners of war experienced, but similar situations, none the less. I have to believe, that if the guard’s allowed it, the men would find a way to play. I did locate a short 1995 New York Times interview with another stalag survivor.  He painted a much different picture of prison camp conditions. According to POW Joseph Boyle, “Golf hazards were a little unique. If the drive went close to the fence, the golfer would signal to the watchtower, and the German guard with the gun would motion that it was all right to pick up the ball. There were no caddies in this prison camp in Poland called Stalag Luft III.” According to Boyle, in Stalag Luft III, there was time for golfing.  “We played for Canadian candy bars, recalls Boyle, 50 years after his liberation. A hole-in-one would be worth half a candy bar. Even during the worst war the globe has ever seen, captured prisoners stayed healthy with the help of games.”  This is why I believe these men played on, whatever the game might be. In this case, our beloved game of golf.

According to Boyle, “The Y.M.C.A. had sent over a few clubs and some balls, but somebody had been unable to resist the urge to whack the balls far over the fence, so there was a need to come up with a new supply, preferably less aerodynamic.”

"My friend, Harry Indierie, from Huntington, L.I., had studied engineering," Boyle said. "He was the pilot and I was the co-pilot when we were shot down over the Brest peninsula. He made a graph about one-eighth scale of the two parts of a softball. We would take the cover of an old basketball or the top of a leather boot and cut them into figure eights.”

"For the inside, we would cut off some rubber from the heel of a boot. Then we’d take the innards of a softball and wind them very carefully. Then we’d borrow a needle and linen thread from the one guy in camp who was allowed to repair boots. We sewed the two cover pieces on tightly. Then we rolled the ball on a table top to make it tight, and we dampened it so it would shrink. Then we’d wax it. It looked like a miniature baseball."

American WWII POW constructed golf balls stored away at the USGA. WOW, is all I can say.

Boyle said that the the makeshift golf balls would only fly 50-75 feet, so even the best driver in camp, Sparling Bernadotte Anderson, whom Boyle says later had a whirl as a professional — couldn’t lose them.” There are many great and historical golf balls out there, but maybe none so special as these two on display at the USGA. They look like tiny little baseballs, made out of darkened shoe leather. How did their course play? "The ground was flat and sandy, so we’d smooth it out with pine needles and make our own putting greens," Boyle said. "We made our own putters from wood trim from the barracks. We played pitch-and-putt golf, using a used milk can for the hole."

Someone spent a lot time and hard work making these limited flight POW golf balls.

After a lengthy Google search, I finally located part of an October 1944 Prisoner of War newspaper that told a neat story about American prisoners playing golf in captivity.

If you would like an interesting and historic read, feel free to download the story here.

When you have the chance, thank a veteran for their past or present sacrifices, it allows us to play real golf on real golf courses. By the way, hey Choeppner, THANKS!



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Tour Photo Galleries

WGC-Workday Championship Tour Truck Report: New putter for Rory, more AutoFlex experiments



First and foremost, prayers and love to Tiger Woods and his family.


Rory McIlroy is going back to an older model putter this week at Concession swapping his Spider X for a TP Juno.

Robert McIntyre AKA “Bobby Mack” put a new TaylorMade Rescue ’21 Hybrid ([email protected]) in the bag with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black Hybrid 100 6.5 TX.

Matthew Wolff put a new TaylorMade (19) UDI in the bag with a Mitsubishi MMT 125TX.

Collin Morikawa was testing SIM2, SIM2 Max hybrids this week with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX shafts.

Dustin Johnson alongside TaylorMade’s Keith Sbarboro was testing SIM2 drivers with Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X, Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661 and an LAGP Proto.


Jon Rahm made adjustments to his Mavrik Sub Zero 5-wood to optimize launch. The 5-wood has 16.4 degrees of loft and a Black Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8X. The adjustments were to the lie of the club going from 59.8 to 58.9 and weight distribution from 12g Front/6g Back to 10G Front/6g Back. Dialed.

Min Woo Lee put a new Epic Speed ([email protected]) with a Fujikura Ventus Red 7X. Lee also debuted his new logo which is on fire.


Genesis Invitational champion Max Homa tested TSi2 5-woods to give him some options for some of the tee shots at Concession. It’s equipped with a Graphite Design Tour XC 8 TX.

Lanto Griffin swapped into a shorter driver going from 45 to 44.5 in his TSi3 (10). Griffin’s driver has a Project X HZURDUS Smoke Black 70 6.5TX

Justin Thomas put a TSI3 (9) in the bag this week. The new set up is powered by a Mitsubishi Diamana ZF TX


Cameron Champ switched back into a shorter length Ping G425 LST this week going from 45 to 44.25 inches. The shaft is a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green 70 6.5 TX (@44.25 , Tip 1.5, D4 SW).

Louis Oosthuizen did something interesting. He had a Ping build him a G425 LST (10.5 @ 9.4, Small -) with the company’s lightweight Alta Slate CB 55 stiff shaft. The 2010 Open Champion was looking for a softer feel with the driver, which isn’t surprising, considering he was seen taking a hard look at Adam Scott’s TSi with an AutoFlex. The whippy lightweight plot thickens…

Ping released a bunch of new putters this week for seeding. Multiple staffers tested them and we will see on Thursday if any go in play.


Cobra’s Ben Schomin (and king of the mullets) is doing something to Bryson’s driver—wanted to post this because of the respect for Ben’s hair. Hair aside, Bryson did put a new LAGP Axis Blue 6X in his driver and was also testing new Rad Speed 3 Woods.

Misc/Free Agents

Tommy Fleetwood swapped out his Callaway MD5 Jaws wedges for a set of Titleist Vokey’s (52M, 56M, and 60T) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts.

Adam Scott (Titleist staff) was testing long center shafted Odyssey Two Ball 10.


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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from WGC-Workday (plus links to all 9 galleries)



This week, the PGA Tour is at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida, where we were on-site Tuesday and Wednesday to spy some interesting things from the grounds and on the range as players were getting ready to battle for a $10.5 million purse at the WGC-Workday Championship.

Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

Frankin 2-Ball

There is a lot going on with the center-shafted 2-Ball Ten. It has weight plugs epoxied into the sole cavity, a hand-drawn marker line on the alignment discs, and a White Hot OG insert—and did I mention it has a long grip?

Speaking of 2-Ball…

The aforementioned 2-Ball Ten caught the attention of Adam Scott, and he was spotted messing around with it around the putting green.

Iron covers: the new trend?

Before you start thinking Bubba Watson was the trendsetter, it was actually Aaron Rai who has been using iron covers longer. Indeed, he won while using them at the 2020 Scottish Open.

JT’s putter cover flex

JT with the full flex on his fellow players as he has his own “Inspired by” Justin Thomas cover in the bag.


Does Santa moonlight as a caddy on the PGA Tour?

Xander: Always working

A few weeks ago it was a Quintic. This week, it’s an iPad on a very clever stand. Xander is always working hard on his putting!

Louis Loves that Callaway wedge

Louis Oosthuizen has been a long-time Ping guy, but the one club he can’t seem to shake is his Callaway PM grind wedge.

A couple of guys talking putters

Collin Morikawa—with his TaylorMade FCG Spider—was spotted talking to Rory McIlroy, who looks to have gone back to a TaylorMade Juno blade putter from his Spider.

Fleetwood hanging onto his TVD Vokey wedge

Tommy Fleetwood has transitioned almost his entire bag to TaylorMade, but a couple of the holdout include a classic Vokey TVD wedge.

More Autoflex testing on tour?

Adam Scott looks to be more than just a fashion influencer out tour. Louis Oosthuizen was spotted talking with Mr. Scott about his Autoflex shaft and even gave it a few wiggles.

DJ testing all kinds of shafts

Look at this action!

As reported last week in the Genesis Invitational Tour Truck Report, DJ was testing a new LA Golf shafts DJ Proto, and this week at the WGC, it looks like the testing continues. He was spotted hitting his tried-and-true Fujikura 661, a Ventus, and the LA Proto. What will go into play Thursday, nobody knows (I mean we will, of course…).

Testing looked to have continued on Wednesday—DJ was rotating through three different drivers on the range, along with some prototype putters on the green.

Laurie Canter with Honma blades

Although not a household name (yet), Laurie Canter is inside the top 100 in the official world golf rankings and has a very interesting bag of clubs—including Ping woods, Honma blades, and both Callaway and Titleist wedges.

New Ping putter line spotted

Ping loves to seemingly randomly drop new putters, and although we don’t have the tech story on these yet, we can conclude that there is some sort of insert technology to go along with some sort of heavy (likely tungsten) heel and toe weights to boost MOI.

Check out all of our galleries below

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Tiger Woods recovering after surgery for multiple leg injuries following single-car accident (Updates)



Update, 2/26, 8.04 p.m: On Friday evening, Tiger’s team produced a statement on Twitter that said that after being moved to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Woods received follow-up procedures on his injuries which were successful and that he is now recovering and in good spirits.


Update, 2/25, 8:50 p.m.: According to a statement released Thursday, Tiger Woods has been transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles “for continuing orthopedic care and recovery.”

Update: Tiger Woods is currently “awake, responsive and recovering in a hospital room” after undergoing major surgery.

The surgery followed a single-car accident which left Woods with “comminuted open fractures” to both the upper and lower portions of his tibia and fibula in his right leg, as well as damage to the ankle bones.

Per a statement from the Woods camp on his social media sites, Woods’ right leg was stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia, while screws and pins were used to stabilize the bones in the foot and ankle. A surgical release of the muscle covering was also performed to relieve pressure due to swelling and trauma.

Update: On Wednesday, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva spoke during a Q&A on Facebook where he confirmed that the incident was an accident and that there was “no evidence of any impairment whatsoever”.

“There was no evidence of any impairment whatsoever. He was lucid, no odor of alcohol, no evidence of any medication, narcotics or anything like that. That was not a concern so no field sobriety test and no drug expert needed to respond. This is what it is – an accident.”

Then asked if Woods could face charges, Villanueva continued: ‘No. A reckless driving charge has a lot of elements to it. This was purely an accident. ‘

In a statement on Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said

“I think that the only thing that really matters now is his well-being, his recovery, his family, the level of support that we provide to him.

When Tiger wants to talk about golf, we’ll talk about golf, but I think right now the entirety of our efforts needs to be around the support. When you’re going to overcome what he needs to overcome, I think the love of all of our players and everybody out here, it’s going to come forward in a big way and across the entire sporting world.

I think he’ll feel that energy and I think that’s what we should all focus on. We’ll all be talking about (the PGA Tour without Woods) at some point down the road, but right now that’s not what we should be talking about.”

GolfWRXers are discussing Tiger’s accident and surgery in the forums.

Tiger Woods was involved in a single-car rollover accident a little after 7 a.m. in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and is undergoing surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center after suffering multiple leg injuries, according to reports.

Lt. Michael White of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has since told KCBS-TV in LA that Tiger Woods’ injuries are “non-life-threatening.”

Per the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, the vehicle sustained major damage and Woods was extricated from the site by the L.A. firefighters and paramedics.

In the original L.A. County Sheriff Department statement below, it is said that the jaws of life were used. However, in a media briefing this afternoon the Department told media that this was not the case and that an axe and hand tools were used to pry Tiger Woods from his SUV.

In the same briefing, officials told media that Woods had serious leg injuries and that he was conscious while being removed from car, reiterating that there were “no signs of impairment.”

Here is the original statement:

A spokesman for the L.A. County Fire Department told the L.A. Times that “because of the situation and the way that you found the vehicle, he wasn’t able to open the door and come out. We extricated him, we helped assist him out of the vehicle.” Per the L.A. Times, Woods was removed from the vehicle through the windshield.

In a statement given to Golf Digest, Mark Steinberg disclosed that Woods had sustained multiple leg injuries and is currently in surgery.

“Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”

TaylorMade has issued the following statement after the accident

“We are shocked at the news of Tiger Woods’ accident earlier this morning and are sending our thoughts and prayers to him, his family and his team as they support him through his surgery and recovery.”

Per Golf Digest, Woods remained in California following the Genesis for a two-day content shoot with Golf Digest/GOLFTV. Despite photos surfacing on social media with Woods with David Spade at Rolling Hills Country Club on Monday, he did not hit balls or play any holes.

The report also notes that Tiger “was in good spirits on Monday but did not arrive to the course for the second day of shooting.”

We will continue to update this post as soon as more details emerge.

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