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Morning 9: Shibuno’s win Ouimet-ish? | A sensible USGA rule change | Chamblee: Spieth must stop tinkering

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By Ben Alberstadt ([email protected]; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 6, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. 
1. Another Ouimet?
Helluva take from Geoff Shackelford regarding Hinako Shibuno’s Women’s British Open win.
  • “It may not be mentioned with Ouimet’s shocker at Brookline, Jack’s comeback in 86 or Tiger’s two most triumphant Masters wins in 1997 and 2019, but as far as golf tournaments I’ve watched Hinako Shibuno’s win at the 2019 British Women’s Open will rank with the wackiest, most improbable and most inexplicable.”
  • “She’s also just the second Japanese player to win one of golf’s major championships…Shibuno had never competed outside of Japan. At 20, I’m not thinking she’s multiple buddies trips to the heathland or linksland, so to say she was a tad green would not be rude.”

Full piece.

2. USGA relaxes U.S. Open exemption rule for U.S. Am winners
From some hack named Ben Alberstadt...No longer will the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur champions have to make the difficult decision of retaining amateur status to take advantage of the exemption into the U.S. Open.
  • The USGA announced today that, beginning in 2020, regardless of whether a player turns pro or remains an amateur s/he is still guaranteed a spot in the national open.
  • Previously, players were only entitled to the U.S. Open/U.S. Women’s Open spot if they maintained amateur status, leading to much handwringing over the decision to turn pro.
  • “We believe this change gives our champions an important option as they choose whether and when to embark on their professional careers,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Managing Director, Championships. “Given the significant purses awarded at the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, we realize how important it is for players to make the most appropriate decision for his or her career, and the positive impact it could have at the outset of their professional careers.”

Full piece.

3. Spieth must stop tinkering!
….or risk oblivion! So says Brandel Chamblee, sort of.
  • Via Reuters…”Chamblee, citing British Open champions David Duval and Ian Baker-Finch as prime examples, pointed to a long list of players whose games went into permanent decline when they started tinkering with their swings.”
  • “(Spieth) is part of a problem that is going on in golf right now, almost an epidemic of players (aged from the mid-20s to mid-30s) who just disappear off the planet,” Chamblee said.
  • “If you put (Spieth) on a range and leave him alone he’ll put two and two together better than anybody else. You have to protect your talent and genius and do that at all costs. I see right now an onslaught of information overload.”

Full piece. 

4. How the FedEx Cup Playoffs work in 2019
Mike McAllister of PGATour.com refreshes us on the format for the end-of-season competition…
  • “The top 125 in regular-season FedExCup points qualify for the Playoffs. The points structure for the first two events will be quadrupled. At THE NORTHERN TRUST, 55 players will be eliminated, with the top 70 advancing to the second event, the BMW Championship. From there, 40 more players will be eliminated, with the top 30 moving on to the Playoffs finale, the TOUR Championship. This is similar to previous Playoffs, albeit with one less Playoffs event.”
  • “It’s at the TOUR Championship where the biggest change has been made…Instead of a points reset used in the previous format, the new format for East Lake starting this season involves a strokes-based bonus system called FedExCup Starting Strokes. Each player will start with a score (relative to par) corresponding to his position in FedExCup points after the BMW Championship…”
5. Pa Doc
Journalism students: This is a strong start to a feature: “Twenty-three years ago, a commercial real-estate agent named Charles (Doc) Cunningham took an old persimmon 5-wood and sawed it down for his 3-year-old grandson. It was the start of a long three-sided relationship between the man, the boy and the sport of golf.”
  • More from Shane Ryan on J.T. Poston’s grandfather/introduction to the game…”Of course, it would be easy to cast Cunningham as the kindly grandfather, but “kindly” is not a trait that wins PGA Tour events, and Poston’s mentor was every bit as focused as his grandson is today. Cunningham used to keep track of how often he shot his age, starting in his mid-60s when he first managed the feat, but the count rose so high as he grew older that he had to give up.”
  • “I want to say the last time I asked him and he told me, it was in the 600s, the number of times he shot his age,” Poston said.
  • “Even their games were similar-not extremely long off the tee, but very accurate and with a dynamic short game. And Poston didn’t just learn to love golf from Pa Doc, and he didn’t just learn to master the etiquette; he learned to win.”

Full piece. 

6. The 125
Who are the 125 golfers that made the FedEx Cup Playoffs?
Glad you asked…
Top 5, via PGATour.com…
1. Brooks Koepka: Looking to add the FedExCup to a three-win season that includes the PGA and a WGC.
2. Rory McIlroy: Shot a final-round 61 to win the RBC Canadian Open after winning THE PLAYERS.
3. Matt Kuchar: Two wins this season; finished a career-best second in the 2010 FedExCup.
4. Xander Schauffele: Back-to-back wins at WGC-HSBC and Sentry have him headed to East Lake again.
5. Gary Woodland: U.S. Open champ seeking his seventh East Lake appearance in the past nine years.

Remaining 120

7. ICYMI: Zac Blair triumphant
Perhaps lost in the shuffle yesterday, and potentially omitted by some zombified newsletter compilers, Zac Blair won the Ellie Mae Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour to secure his spot on the PGA Tour for 2019.
With plenty on his plate, ZB had seen his game slide. Rededicated, Blair took home a trophy.
  • Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Blair recorded his first Korn Ferry Tour victory Sunday at the Ellie Mae Classic, winning by a shot to secure his place among the 25 card earners after next week’s regular-season finale in Portland. Blair moved from 31st to 10th on the tour’s money list.”
  • “I’ve been playing really good the last four or five weeks, kind of knew that I was close, but at the same time I was kind of in a weird situation where I was playing a lot, so I knew I had to either take a break or get my card,” Blair said after shooting 3-under 67 to finish at 17 under, just ahead of runner-up Brandon Crick. “It was nice to lock it up, get it done, and [I’m] excited to get back out there [on Tour].
  • “The 28-year-old Blair, who played four seasons on the PGA Tour before losing his card prior to this season, was competing for the sixth straight week on the Korn Ferry Tour. Before that, he had just one week off after capping a nine-week stretch with a missed cut at the U.S. Open.”

Full piece. 

8. U.S. Women’s Am
Meanwhile, at the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Old Waverly…
  • “Michaela Morard and Andrea Lee both shot 5-under 67 Monday to take the early lead entering Round 2 of stroke play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.”
  • “The field will be cut to 64 players after another round of stroke play Tuesday, with match play starting Wednesday and culminating in a 36-hole championship match Sunday at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss.”
  • Morard, a 2020 Alabama commit, was lingering around even par all day but finished with four consecutive birdies to shoot to the top of the leaderboard.”
9. How does your swing speed compare?
Excellent stuff from Chris Finn of Par4Success, writing for GolfWRX
  • “How fast a golfer swings the club has had an increasingly higher correlation to how much money the top PGA Tour professionals make in recent years-this is no secret.”
  • “What has been a secret, until now, is how fast other golfers your age swing and how you compare. No one has known, or if they have, they didn’t share it. We are going to reveal in this article, based on the research and data we have been collecting for over six years, where you stand compared to where you could be. No longer will you be held captive to father time and the belief that you are doomed to get worse with age!”
  • “After reading this article, you will see what is possible for you, depending on where you are in your golf life based on the cold, hard facts of science. The data sample we have is almost 800 golfers large and ranges from ages 10 to 80.  The really cool thing about this article, though, is that we aren’t stopping there. We are then going to dive into the top three tests that you can do at home that correlate to clubhead speed at an incredibly high level.”
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Morning 9: Search warrant executed for black box in Tiger crash | Man makes 3 aces in 5 days

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.
March 4, 2021
Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Sheriff’s department seeking “black box” from Woods’ SUV
  • ESPN staff…”The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant Monday to get data from the so-called black box in the SUV that Tiger Woods was driving when he was seriously injured in a crash last week.”
  • “To get a warrant, probable cause that a crime was involved has to be determined, even if it’s just a misdemeanor. A sheriff’s deputy downplayed the warrant as routine to USA Today Sports on Tuesday, saying he considered it due diligence.”
  • “We’re trying to determine if a crime was committed,” Sheriff’s Deputy John Schloegl said. “If somebody is involved in a traffic collision, we’ve got to reconstruct the traffic collision, if there was any reckless driving, if somebody was on their cellphone or something like that. We determine if there was a crime. If there was no crime, we close out the case, and it was a regular traffic collision.”
2. Status update on “Operation Drive the 6th”
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”For those wanting to see Bryson DeChambeau drive the sixth green this week at Bay Hill, his two water balls Wednesday probably didn’t inspire much confidence. But the weather forecast does provide a glimmer of hope.”
  • “While there was about a 15-mph wind humming in off the right and slightly into him, DeChambeau came up well short on both attempts during his practice round for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.”
  • “The par-5 sixth is listed at 555 yards, but from the back tee box it requires about a 350-yard carry to safely clear the water. On Wednesday, DeChambeau teed his ball up at the very front of the back tee box, about 10 yards in front of the markers.”
3. C.T. Pan saw COVID-19 on the horizon
Dave Shedloski for Golf Digest…“But, again, they [C.T. Pan and his wife] had been exercising extraordinary caution for more than a month.”
  • “Obviously, with family at home in Taiwan, my wife and I have a better idea of what goes on in Asia,” Pan, 29, explained. “Taiwan is only about 80 miles away from China, so from our family and from the Taiwan government we heard about this unknown virus that could be very deadly and spreads fast, and while we didn’t know that much about it, we knew in January that people could be asymptomatic but still have it and might spread it.”
  • “We were being really careful. The last time we were in the restaurant dining was in San Diego [during the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines], but after we started getting the news about this virus we didn’t go in any more restaurants. We really tried to not go anywhere except for golf. Unfortunately, the rumors were true.”
4. How everything changed for Tiger
ESPN’s Bob Harig and Ramona Shelburne frame the Feb. 23 Tiger Woods crash in compelling fashion…”RIVIERA COUNTRY CLUB in Pacific Palisades, California, is a special place for Tiger Woods — even if it is the venue he has played the most without a victory on tour.”
  • “It is the PGA Tour stop — known back then as the L.A. Open — closest to Woods’ boyhood home in Cypress, California. It is where he made his debut in a professional tournament, playing as an amateur in 1992 at age 16. And it is where, in 2017, his TGR Foundation became the beneficiary of tournament proceeds, with Woods as tournament host.”
  • “That’s why he traveled by private jet from Stuart Aviation near his home in Jupiter, Florida, to Los Angeles on Feb. 19.”
  • “Woods wasn’t playing in the event. He was just eight weeks removed from his fifth back surgery in seven years. There was still plenty for him to do, though: meet and greet tournament sponsors, converse with foundation employees, catch up with other players and preside over the trophy presentation.”
5. Three aces in five days
Wild stuff! Viva Jim Wolklin! Greg Hardwig, Naples Daily News…”Golf has been pretty wild for Wolklin since he got back into the game in the 1980s. The three holes-in-one at Heritage Bay gave him a total of 11.”
  • “When you least expect them, they go in the hole,” said Wolklin, 68. “It’s when you’re not thinking about it, and you’re just trying to make par.”
  • “Wolklin’s wild stretch started on Feb. 12 on No. 13 on the Cypress Course, holing out with an 8-iron from 144 yards with Gary Bradbury, Brad Kroll and Randy Johnson witnessing. Three days later, Wolklin made his second on the 148-yard No. 21 Oak with a 7-iron, with David Foltz, Anthony Nizzardo and Michael McCarthy witnessing. The third was the next day, with his wife Cheryl, Steve Kosek and Mary Kosek witnessing the 9-iron from 130 yards on No. 26 on the Oak Course.”
  • “It’s regular rounds playing with friends,” Wolklin said. “I hit a good shot and then it’s one or two bounces right in the hole.”
6. Your top-ranked golfer in the API field? Tyrrell Hatton
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…“Asked on Wednesday how that all feels, Hatton replied: “Standing at 5’8, I wish I could walk onto the range a little taller (laughing), but sadly that’s out of my control.”
  • “Hatton, who boasts six worldwide top-5s (including two wins) since last year’s API triumph, the continued.”
  • “No, I mean, I feel confident when I go to a tournament if I know that my swing’s in a good place and I can kind of, if I manage my emotions well throughout the week then, sure, I’ll give myself a chance,” said Hatton, who is coming off of a T-22 at the WGC-Workday last week. “I felt last week that I was, I didn’t feel like I was swinging it that good and I was getting a bit frustrated and my golf got a little bit better each day. I actually played really good on Sunday … so I take confidence from that, that my swing kind of feels like it’s getting into a good place again and I guess we’ll see exactly tomorrow how it is.”
7. Tiger’s best shots at Bay Hill—and the clubs he used
Our Gianni Magliocco—for PGATour.com—rounded up Tiger Woods’ best shots from his incomprehensible career at Bay Hill…”5. 2012 (final round): Approach to No. 8”
  • “At the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, Tiger was looking to end a two-and-a-half-year winless streak, on what was a windy Sunday with greens and pins that Woods would afterwards describe as the most difficult he had ever experienced at this event.”
  • “On the treacherous eighth hole, Woods held a two-stroke lead. Sitting in the middle of the fairway with the pin on the left side guarded by the pond in front of the green, Woods, who would often lean on his cut shot during his time working with Sean Foley, struck a high draw. The ball landed softly on the front portion of the green and rolled to within 5 feet of the cup.”
  • “The bold shot paid off and gave Woods a three-stroke advantage, and he would go on to secure his 72nd PGA TOUR win and begin his ascension back to World No. 1.”
  • Club Used: Nike VR Pro Blade 8-iron with a True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shaft.
8. Why Claude Harmon III was dismissed
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Brooks Koepka and Claude Harmon III’s split was a surprise when it was announced in January, and the swing coach has given his view on the break up this week on The Filthy Lipout Golf Podcast.”
  • “On the podcast, Harmon III stated that he believed that Brooks “wanted to hear something different”, bringing an end to their highly successful 8-year spell.”
  • “I just got fired by Brooks Koepka. I was with Brooks for eight years. You know, I think you get players that say ‘Listen, I’m just tired of hearing the same thing’ and I’ve always been one that would say, ‘Well listen, I’m not gonna make stuff up, I can try and tell you something different but we kind of know what you do as a player and if you’ve had success.’”
9. Arnold Palmer Invitational Tour Truck Report: Rickie’s iron experiments continue, MMT train rolls on, Rose tests a ton
Yours truly took a stab at the Tour Truck Report…”The fleet of tour trucks arrived southwest of Orlando this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.”
“It’s an appropriate place to be digging into the nuances of pro golfers’ gear, given the club building, tinkering, and general gear junkie-hood of the tournament’s namesake, Arnold Palmer, whose 10,000 club-filled workshop is gear nut’s cave of wonders.”
  • “Let’s dig into the tweaks and wholesale switches we’re hearing about at the King’s place.”
  • “Byeong Hun An plugged a Mitsubishi MMT Utility 125 TX shaft in his Titleist U500 2-iron.”
  • “Bernd Wiesberger is testing a Graphite Design Tour AD DI 9 TX shaft (tipped 1.5 inches) in his TSi2 3-wood as he searches for more of a consistent cut ball flight. His current gamer features a Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 8 TX shaft with the same tipping.”
  • “Denny McCarthy, Robert Streb, and Byeong Hun An are all testing new Project X EvenFlow RipTide shafts (which began tour seeding in late January)”.
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“We know exactly the optimal launch and spin you should be chasing” Ping’s Marty Jertson – On Spec podcast

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On this week’s episode of the “On Spec” podcast presented on the GolfWRX radio network, host Ryan Barath had the opportunity to speak with Ping Golf’s VP of Fitting and Performance Marty Jertson about their new virtual fitting platform along with a whole bunch of other topics related to club fitting and beyond.

One of the key point made by Marty on the topic of optimization was

“…we now have the ability to pass information to the golfer on what exactly the optimal launch and spin you should be chasing “

You can listen to the full show below, the above quote starts at 17:30

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‘New Course’ by Gil Hanse set for summer opening at Les Bordes Golf Club in Loire Valley, France

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golf course, aerial view, golf

The new owners of Les Bordes–the principals of European private equity firm RoundShield and a few outside partners–have spent two years invigorating new life into France’s famed Loire Valley region through the historic estate and globally recognized golf club.

Embraced by nature, a sense of community, and spread across 1,400 acres of mythical Sologne Forest, substantial investment since 2018 has created an environment for fun and adventure for families at Les Bordes. Located a 90-minute drive from Paris, the Loire Valley is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage region famous for its chateaux, medieval towns, fine wine, gastronomy, and breath-taking landscape.

New family facilities have been delivered across the estate including a natural swimming lake with a white sand beach, enhanced equestrian facilities, boating lakes, archery, fishing, cycle, and electric quad paths, and a new tennis center. Younger family members can experience a petting farm, go-kart track, pony riding, and adventure playgrounds, with a kids’ club, ice-cream shop, and zip lines coming this winter.

golf course, aerial view, golf

Gil Hanse designed the New Course at Les Bordes Golf Club. It is scheduled to open this summer. When it does, there will be three courses at the private golf club, which many cite as one of continental Europe’s finest. This is an aerial view of the 7th hole.

Les Bordes Golf Club is exclusively private and governed separately from the rest of the estate. The opening of its highly anticipated second 18-hole course will take place this summer. Named the New Course, it was created by globally acclaimed golf architect Gil Hanse, who authored world top-100 courses Castle Stuart and Ohoopee Match Club as well as the 2016 Rio Olympic Course. The New Course is Hanse’s first project in continental Europe.

Lauded for his restoration work, including two of the next three U.S. Open venues–The Country Club and The Los Angeles Country Club–Hanse has already completed work on an accompanying 10-hole short course at Les Bordes, the Wild Piglet.

The recently developed new golf courses join the existing Old Course, to provide members with a diverse yet complementary array of playing options. Commissioned by Baron Marcel Bich in 1987, the Old Course is one of Europe’s premier golf courses. A tree-lined, par-72 course measuring more than 7,000 yards, it weaves through the Sologne Forest, intertwined with a stunning complex of lakes that offer a sublimely serene setting.

This course was designed by the late Robert von Hagge, whose award-winning portfolio includes more than 100 courses around the globe; with the Old Course widely considered to be his masterpiece. The design of the course represents the epitome of heroic golf architecture, with exciting risk/reward decisions to be made throughout. Much like his later effort at Le Golf National, host of the highly successful 2018 Ryder Cup, the Old Course is perfectly suited to the match play format and provides a stage for the utmost in spirited competition amongst the Golf Club membership.

Throughout its history, the Old Course has been perennially ranked amongst the top five courses in continental Europe and has often been regarded as one of the most difficult courses in the world. Whilst the challenge of the course is still quite formidable from the back tees, recent improvements have made the course more playable and multi-dimensional. Overly penal rough and trees encroaching on the lines of play have been removed, resulting in a more enjoyable and strategically compelling course presentation. In addition, the implementation of a new maintenance program is already yielding much firmer conditions that promote the ground game to a greater extent and make the length of the course less impactful.

As a result of these developments, the global allure of Les Bordes Golf Club is greater than ever. Formed in August 2019, it is accessible to members only and their guests, and includes approximately 140 current members.

Additionally, leading London-based architects Michaelis Boyd have completed a full renovation of the clubhouse and 24 of the 39 member cottages, while work on a new member gym, sports bar, mini-spa, and private lounge and games room, including a golf simulator, is to be completed for March 2021.

“We are blessed with a beautiful site in one of the most stunning and culturally-rich areas of France, 90 minutes south of Paris,” said Driss Benkirane, founder of RoundShield and an avid 6-handicap golfer. “With my fellow owners, a group which includes my co-founder and a handful of other long-dated partners, we aim to create the pre-eminent European golf club and to build a relaxed and fun-filled community for all members of the family – golfers and non-golfers, adults and children alike.”

Near-term plans include the announced partnership with Six Senses for the transformation of the on-site 19th century ‘Chateau Bel Air’ into an 88-key luxury hotel and spa, the creation of a community village square with restaurants, shops, a farmer’s market, and an outdoor amphitheater centered around the estate’s 13th-century priory, and a variety of residential homes also designed by Michaelis Boyd, half of which have already been reserved by golf club members prior to a mid-year release to market.

 

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