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Morning 9: Is a September U.S. Open a better U.S. Open? | Inside the restoration of Winged Foot | Watch along with GolfWRX this weekend

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1. U.S. Open in September = a better U.S. Open?
Interesting take from Cameron Morfit at PGATour.com…
“Although fall doesn’t technically start until September 22, there will be more leaves and layers than usual at the 120th U.S. Open, what with the pandemic having bumped the USGA’s crown jewel back on the schedule. The weather is crisp enough so that Patrick Cantlay wore a ski cap as he teed off Tuesday, and at sunrise on Wednesday the thermometer showed 52 degrees.”
  • “Well, we have better weather right now here than we had in June in Pebble,” said Jon Rahm, referencing last year’s U.S. Open at California’s Pebble Beach. “Pretty similar, just having sweaters on and that’s it. Or the PGA in San Francisco (last month), it was colder than it is right now. I know on the weekend it’s supposed to cool here (into the low 40s at daybreak) a little bit.”
  • “Winged Foot Superintendent Steve Rabideau is on record saying a June U.S. Open is easier to prepare for; he told golf.com “the rough is super healthy, the grass really isn’t under stress yet.” But to behold his prized canvas this week you wouldn’t know he doesn’t actually prefer September.”
  • “The undulating greens are firm, and the narrow fairways have just the right amount of bounce to make holding them a huge challenge. The rough is a foot deep in places, allowing the USGA to cut it to whatever length they want for the competition rounds, assuming they do cut it.”
2. The 2020 U.S. Open was nearly held in Los Angeles in December
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…“Association CEO Mike Davis explained on Wednesday at Winged Foot, which was originally scheduled to host the championship in June, that because of the initial scramble to reorganize the professional golf calendar in the wake of the pandemic, it appeared as if the U.S. Open would be played in December.”
  • “To be very transparent with you, we thought we were going to be playing the U.S. Open in December in Los Angeles. We were that close,” Davis said.”
  • “The U.S. Open is scheduled to be played on Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course in 2023 and considering the early impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the New York metropolitan area there were concerns whether the championship could be played at Winged Foot in 2020, which prompted the potential move.”
  • “That changed when the R&A announced this year’s Open Championship would be canceled and gave the USGA some flexibility to reschedule earlier in the fall.”
3. U.S. Open rota? 
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…“News last week that the USGA would be moving some of its offices to Pinehurst, N.C., and committing to play the U.S. Open on the famed No. 2 course five times through 2047, led some to speculate that the association was transitioning to a formal rotation for the national championship.”
  • “The Open Championship has its rota and USGA CEO Mike Davis referred to Pinehurst as an “anchor site” for the U.S. Open.”
  • “We just believe after talking to a lot of the players who play in U.S. Opens, a lot of our past champions, they communicated a consistent message, saying: ‘We want to go to the best sites, and we want to go there more often,'” Davis said. “That really led the championship committee to make that decision.”
  • “The U.S. Open is scheduled to be played at Pinehurst in 2024, ’29, ’35, ’41 and ’47, a long-term move that could lead the USGA to lock in other iconic venues like Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Bethpage and Shinnecock Hills.”
4. What went into the Winged Foot renovation
Thomas Dunne…”The renovation team used laser scanning and digital mapping to convert the club’s native soil greens to modern USGA structures. On the West, each green also received its own SubAir vault that helps the crew manage water and temperature.”
  • “We had a laser scanner come out and scan all the greens in the summertime, when they were good, true putting surfaces,” Rabideau said. “Then we used what’s called a robotic total station, a powerful surveying instrument, to set our vertical offsets so we could shell down 16 inches from the top of the putting surface based on the contours.”
  • “The crew rebuilt the floors of the greens and painstakingly built back up, matching the original scan twice more along the way. By the time the group reached the top of the putting surfaces, the margin for error was a minuscule six-one-thousandths of a surveyor’s foot at intervals of 12 to 18 inches. In other words, that 8-foot putt that members have known for years breaks a cup to the right was not suddenly going to be on the right edge.”
5. Generational divide? Sign of the [jam-packed tour schedule without a stop in Westchester] times?
Mike Dougherty of The Journal News…“I’m excited to play this one,” Rahm added. “If there’s other good ones worth playing, hopefully at some point in time I can come and play them.”
  • “In the days before Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, the PGA Tour had a four-decade run at Westchester Country Club. Players made it a habit to visit other nearby clubs.”
  • “There was a fellow named Chip Weil that I met at my hotel in 1975 after I missed the cut at Westchester,” said Roger Maltbie who won the event a decade later. “We just started chatting and he says, ‘Well, I’m a member at Winged Foot. You want to play tomorrow?’ And I said, ‘Sure. I want to go see Winged Foot. I’ve never played there.’ Chip and I have now been friends for 45 years. Every year I would go there, if I played in the morning we would go over to Winged Foot in the afternoon and play. We would go a lot, either play nine, or if we could, get in 18. I have a real love affair with the place and have for a very long time. So I went over there a lot. I loved every minute of every time I got to go play.”
6. The need to get it right
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“The USGA needs to get this U.S. Open right. Yes, that has been said before. In 2018 at Shinnecock Hills, to avoid missteps of the immediate and distant past, and again last summer at Pebble Beach, after those missteps were astonishingly repeated at Shinnecock. But lest you think this is a media-driven story or a narrative that will shadow the championship in perpetuity, know it’s one both sides-players and management-acknowledge.”
  • “Last summer’s championship at Pebble Beach put a needed band-aid on the USGA’s multiple cuts, but scars take time to heal. In talking with USGA officials this week, it is clear the governing body went out of its way to stay out of its way at Pebble. It erred on the side of caution in the test presented. Partially to keep itself out of headlines, partially to ease the transition of John Bodenhamer taking the set-up reins from USGA CEO Mike Davis. “We wanted to make sure we showed the best Pebble Beach had to offer,” Bodenhamer said, “and it led to some exciting golf.”
7. An exclusive talk with Jay Monahan
Our Michael Williams had an extensive talk with the PGA Tour commissioner that you’ll want to check out.
Michael Williams: Let’s talk about the 2020 season. Even though we still have two major championships to go, oddly enough, we’re talking about the close of the 2020 season. Given everything that was going on with COVID-19, are you more surprised that you were able to start this season or that you were able to finish it?
Commissioner Jay Monahan: I would say that I was probably more surprised that we were able to start and start when we did, just because of all the uncertainty that we inherited when we stepped away during the week of The Players Championship. So there was a period there of 30 to 45 days where, you know, you’re trying to reimagine, restructure your schedule. Given that we were stepping away after 24 weeks, we were also trying to do that in the context of “What does this mean for the members of the PGA Tour in terms of their eligibility, and is this going to be an official season?” And then you had all the safety-health, and safety protocols-so solving those three important issues or challenges, was a significant undertaking. I think, well, I think we just had a number of moments along the way that gave us an indication that we would be able to return in June…and once we were back, we all recognize that we were going to experience some challenges and some setbacks, it’s just the nature of the virus.
But we felt like we had a great plan and that there was strong accountability with those that were going to be in our bubble-a bubble that was moving from market to market. And I always felt like we’d get here, but, you know, getting back and starting that week of June 8th, I think that was the most challenging part of the exercise.
8. Cannizzaro: USO in metro NY a shell of itself sans fans
Who better than the NY Post sports writer to make this point…“Since the PGA Tour’s restart in June after a pandemic pause of some three months, we’ve gotten somewhat accustomed to having no fans at golf tournaments and other sporting events. It’s become an unsatisfying, but necessary, element of the world we live in.”
  • “But it will hit home more than ever in golf at this week’s U.S. Open – more than it has the previous 14 weeks the PGA Tour has played without fans. Because this is New York and we’re more vocal and vibrant in New York than other places where sports are played.”
  • “New York expresses itself in a different, more animated and opinionated way than Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania or even California.”
9. Watch the third and fourth rounds of the U.S. Open with us
Just a quick PSA here: Johnny Wunder, Ryan Barath, Brain Knudson, Gianni Magliocco, and yours truly will be hanging out in the GolfWRX forums Saturday and Sunday to discuss all things U.S. Open, what the pros are playing, and more. I’ll drop a link to the forum thread in tomorrow’s newsletter, but I’m truly looking forward to the virtual viewing party!

 

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GolfWRX Classifieds (10/22/20): Adams MB2, Olson putter, Titleist TS3 head

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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 Bradh972 – Adams raw MB irons

A set of Adams MB2 in this condition doesn’t come up that often – these are highly sought after and considered the peak of Adams golf irons.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Adams MB 

Member ThatCAGolfer – Olson Legacy putter

Made in America, one at a time, Olson putters are some of the nicest around. Now here is your chance to snag one for an attractive price in brand new condition.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Olson Putter

Member Taylormadehunter1 – Titleist TS3 driver head

With the announcement of the new TSi Series from Titleist, you can expect to see more TS driver on the market and for a great price. This TS3 head comes with extra weights and is hot melted, and ready to go.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: TS3 driver head

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

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What players really think about fan-less events | dam Scott positive for COVID-19 | PGA Merch Show to be virtual

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]
October 22, 2020 
 
Good Thursday morning, golf fans. May you own the home stretch of your weeks the way Henrik Stenson’s did the “Dreams” Challenge.
1. What players really think about fan-less events
The Undercover Caddie (yes, I know some readers think UC is fake news, but I believe the source is a legitimate one)…
  • “What’s it like on tour without fans? You came to the right place. I’ve seen what the players have said, and though I’m not calling them liars, they aren’t being honest, either. In their defense, what are players supposed to say? We’re glad fans are at home. They’re pests. This makes our jobs so less demanding. Come on. No one is that boneheaded.”
  • “Listen, everyone misses fans. Most players are alphas; they enjoy entertaining you, and there’s no drug that feels as good as doing what you love and getting loved for it. On the caddie front, no one ever accused us of being introverted souls. But the fact is, life at the golf course is easier without spectators.”
2. Adam Scott positive for COVID-19
BBC report…”Former world number one Adam Scott has pulled out of this week’s Zozo Championship in California after testing positive for coronavirus.”
  • “The PGA Tour confirmed on Wednesday that the 40-year-old Australian will not play at the Sherwood Country Club.”
  • “Scott said his “focus now is on recovery” for the rest of the season.”
  • “In a statement, the PGA Tour said Scott “will have the PGA Tour’s full support throughout his self-isolation period under CDC guidelines”.
3. Mickelson nervous for fans in Houston
ESPN’s Bob Harig..”Mickelson said Wednesday he might skip the tournament, which announced last week it would be the first PGA Tour event in the United States to allow spectators, capped at 2,000 per day.”
  • “I think that they will do a very good, safe job in having 2,000 people at the Houston Open,” Mickelson said at Sherwood Country Club, where he is playing in this week’s Zozo Championship. “However, for me personally, I don’t like the risk that having that happen the week before the Masters. I just feel like the week before the Masters, like that’s a big tournament we have and I just don’t want to have any risk heading in there.”
  • “So it has made me question whether or not I’ll play there. But then I have to give the Tour a lot of credit and confidence in the way that they’ve handled the entire year and I’m sure they’re going to do a great job at keeping the players safe in that environment.”
  • “But because I haven’t seen it before, because it’s the first one out on the Tour with some people, I’m unsure and I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I don’t go out to dinner, I don’t go out and socialize, because I want to make sure that I have an opportunity to compete in the Masters.”
4. PGA Merchandise Show will be virtual
Golfweek’s David Dusek…“In an announcement that should come as a surprise to almost no one, PGA Golf Exhibitions and the PGA of America announced on Wednesday that the 2021 PGA Merchandise Show will be an all-virtual event.”
  • “The three-day event held annually at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, typically attracts more than 40,000 PGA of America professionals, manufacturers, media members and golf industry insiders. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing throughout the United States and the rest of the world, the safety of everyone involved took precedence.”
5. No fans for USWO
From the Golf Channel Digital team…“The U.S. Women’s Open will be conducted without fans because of ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the USGA announced Wednesday.”
  • “The Women’s Open, originally slated for early June, was rescheduled for Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.”
  • “Following extensive consultation with health officials, we have decided that hosting the U.S. Women’s Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships. “While we are disappointed that we won’t be able to welcome fans and their unmatched energy at Champions Golf Club, we know this is the right decision for the community and players.”
6. Tiger talks distance debate in Zozo press conference
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard “…Whether the game’s rules makers should consider dialing back some of those gains, however, is a completely different question.  “[The rules makers] should have been worried a long time ago, but the genie’s out of the bag now,” Woods said. “It’s about what do we do going forward and how soon can they do it? You’re not going to stop the guys who are there right now. Guys are figuring out how to carry the ball 320-plus yards, and it’s not just a few of them.”
7. Record golf equipment sales 
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“Golf Datatech, an industry research firm, announced Wednesday that United States retail golf equipment sales surpassed the $1 billion mark for the third quarter. If that number sounds significant, it is, the first time sales in July, August and September have ever exceeded $1 billion in Q3, and serves as the second-highest quarter ($1.013 billion in Q2, 2008) of all-time.”
  • “For comparison, Q3 sales are up 42 percent over the same period last year, spurred by purchases of golf bags, wedges and irons.”
  • “The story keeps getting better as golf continues to surge coming out of the shutdown, and Q3 equipment sales suggests that 2020 will likely end up positive for the entire year,” said John Krzynowek of Golf Datatech. “While the US economy will not enjoy a ‘V Shaped Recovery’ in 2020, if golf continues on this trajectory we will be there soon.”
8. Tiger’s toughest test?
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…“But the biggest challenge for Tiger may have nothing to do with the conditions or his uprooted schedule. Since the Tour’s restart in June, Woods, along with a few other players, have talked of how difficult it is to focus during rounds without fans at events and nowhere will that be more evident than at the Masters, a tournament defined by Sunday roars.”
  • “There’s no other place like it. It echos there, it travels,” he said. “When you know the pairings, you know where certain players would be at that particular time and you can figure out who’s doing what, and the roars for certain people are louder than others, and then you hear eagle roars and hole-outs on 16, or whatever it may be. It’s unlike any other place in the world.”
9. A thin slice of golf’s recent success pie
The Denver Post’s Kyle Frederickson…“Colorado’s golf renaissance is real.  Public golf courses operated by the City of Denver report a roughly 20-percent rise in rounds played this year and that’s despite being closed for several weeks due to the coronavirus. Ed Mate, executive director of the Colorado Golf Association, said: “I’ve heard from some private clubs, anecdotally, that they’ve increased their rounds by 100 percent in a given month.”  The CGA compiles an annual survey of public course operators, and prior to this year, the state averaged about 1.5 million-1.7 million rounds played. That number is about to rise, by a lot.”

 

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Interesting photos from the Zozo Championship

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This week is the Zozo Championship at Sherwood Golf Club, and with most of the worlds top golfers including Tiger Woods playing and prepping for the November Masters, there is a lot going on around the range when it comes to gear and testing.

As a reminder, you can check out all of our photos in the GolfWRX forums.

New Fourteen irons and wedges

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The irons are a throwback to a classic “channel back” style iron with mass positioned towards the top and bottom of the face to increase vertical stability of the blade while also maintaining feel.

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Justin Rose with Artisan lob wedge

The little shop from Texas continues to make big waves with more wedges spotted on tour every week including in former world number 1 Justin Rose.

Xander Schauffele’s new Apex irons and testing putters on Quintic

Xander’s prototype Callaway Apex irons look a lot like the newly released 2021 X-Forged irons but with obvious Apex branding. We also can’t forget about putting, and it’s cool to see a Quintic high-speed camera system on the practice green getting players dialed in to launch conditions just like how they would for a driver.

Ricky using older generation Cobra Amp Cell Pro Irons

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If there is one thing pros love, it’s a set of older irons—they’re the golf equivalent of putting on a pair of comfy broken-in jeans. For Ricky and his custom Amp Cell Pro’s with tungsten toe inserts, there must be some magic there because he has previously used multiple newer sets of irons but continues to gravitate towards these.

Shigeki Maruyama testing new Bettinardi putter

Shigeki isn’t someone to shy away from testing putters, and this week he was spotted testing one of the new Bettinardi putters that debuted last week in Las Vegas at Shadow Creek.

Pros are “just like us” – Justin Thomas and Mac Hughes edition

Yes, tour pros are just like us except for the fact that they are exceptional golfers, but even JT likes help in his long game and has a Titleist T300 3-iron in the bag, and when it comes to breakfast Mackenzie Hughes happens to like ketchup with his breakfast sandwich—although personally, I’m anti-ketchup when it comes to breakfast sandwiches.

Mickelson testing older X-Hot 3Deep

We’ve heard rumblings, of Champions Tour terminator Phil Mickelson testing 47.5″ drivers in the name of speed and distance, but as a way to also have a “fairway finder” it appears that he is contemplating putting his old X-Hot 3Deep in play. (Being able to identify a multi-generations old fairway wood from a distance based on its paint scheme is part of the reason we are WRX)

Gary Woodland testing Ping G425 driver

With the launch of the Ping G425 woods on tour a few weeks ago, it’s no surprise to see more players testing them in prep for the Masters, and for the fact that, they are the next evolution of the well-loved Ping G410—Gary Woodland is no exception.

 

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