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Morning 9: The return of pro-ams | Akshay Bhatia | Has the game changed…or just for the pros? | Wunder’s love/hate

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1. Pro-ams and (some) fans returneth 
Golfweek’s JuliaKate E. Culpepper…“Spectators haven’t been allowed on site during PGA Tour events since the first round of the Players Championship over six months ago. After a 13-week break due to the coronavirus pandemic, there have been 16 tournaments without cheers, jeers or patron antics.”
  • “That’ll change slightly this week in the Dominican Republic.”
  • “The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, previously scheduled for March but rescheduled due to the pandemic, will allow a select number of patrons back on tournament grounds – socially distanced, of course – when the event tees off Thursday.”
  • “The final few holes at Corales Golf Club will have corporate VIP areas set up, allowing sponsors and a handful of other visitors to watch the live sporting event in person following necessary COVID screening precautions.”
2. First made cut earns Bhatia Puntacana berth
Adam Stanley for PGATour.com…“Bhatia turned professional in 2019 after becoming the youngest player to ever represent the United States in the Walker Cup. He made his pro debut on TOUR at the Sanderson Farms Championship last season. The debut came after he had reached No. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.”
  • “But despite his success on the junior and amateur circuit, it hadn’t quite translated to the pro game until the Safeway Open. Bhatia finished T9 there and earned a spot in the field at this week’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. He was the youngest player to finish in the top 10 of a stroke-play event on the PGA TOUR since Justin Rose finished fourth at the 1998 Open Championship.”
  • “It’s always nice anytime you get a chance to play the PGA TOUR,” Bhatia said. “It’s a great way to enjoy things because this is the life I want to have and I have to get a taste of it. Earning my spot here was a different feeling for me and I’m just excited to get it going.”
  • “After putting a bow on an impressive junior golf career – he was on the winning Junior Presidents Cup team in 2017, the winning Junior Ryder Cup team in 2018 and the winning Walker Cup team last year – he hadn’t made a cut on the PGA TOUR until the Safeway Open.”

Full piece.

3. Bhatia’s WITB

DRIVER: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS “Hulk” Smoke Green 75 6.5 TX
3-WOOD: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS Hulk Smoke Green 85 6.5 TX
IRONS: Callaway Epic Forged (3), Callaway Apex MB 18 Raw (4-PW)
Shafts: KBS TG Hybrid Proto 95 X (3), KBS $-Taper Black 125 S+ (4-PW)
WEDGES: Callaway MD5 Jaws Raw (50S, 54S, 60C)
Shafts: KBS $-Taper 125S+
PUTTER: Odyssey SL Black Armlock 7
GRIPS: Iomic Sticky 2.3 Black
4. Scottish Open: Plan for spectators shelved in line with pause on pilot events
BBC report…“The decision to have spectators at the Scottish Open at Renaissance Club next month has been reversed.”
  • “The tournament in East Lothian had been chosen as a pilot for the return of fans, with 650 permitted on both Saturday and Sunday.”
  • “However, a rise in coronavirus cases has resulted in a pause on all sporting test events.”
5. Has the game changed…or just for the pros? 
GolfWRX’s resident “Wedge Guy,” Terry Koehler wonders post-Winged Foot what conclusions we can draw…
“I believe the first takeaway is that we play a totally different game than they do. Very few of us recreational golfers have the strength to continually muscle the ball out of even “normal” rough to put it in a position to successfully finish out the hole with a par or better. For most of us, I have no doubt that our best scores come when we hit the fewest shots from the rough. I challenge all of you to keep track of your “strokes lost” when your tee shot does not leave you in the fairway with a clean lie and open shot to the green.”
“Secondly, we do not have anything close to their skills around the greens. If you miss greens, you are more likely to make bogey or worse than to save par. Leaving the distance thing out of the equation, this is the largest chasm between the skills of tour player and regular amateurs. Day in and day out, these elite players get up and down more than 50% of the time, and very few amateurs approach 30% from my research. What’s the moral of that story? Spend more time practicing your creativity and execution on the shortest of shots…that is, IF you really want to lower your scores.”
“Finally, these guys are so darn good with the putter in their hands…It certainly doesn’t hurt that they putt on pool-table-perfect greens most of the time. Or that they have a great caddy to help them get an accurate read on most every putt. Or that they focus on positioning their approach shots and recoveries to give themselves the best look at the hole. But also realize that they practice incessantly on this part of the game.”
6. Johnny Wunder’s love/hate
I LOVE watching players mic’d up and having fun together. The conversations and smack talk is a blast to listen to. We also get an inside peek into a portion of what these players are really like. In a normal event? No. Maybe a caddie or two but not the players-I wouldn’t want to be mic’d up at work-not that anyone cares what I say anyway. Just facts. To be honest, Tiger without a JT or Phil to prod him along isn’t exactly gonna peel your hair back in good times. The guy is a born assassin, they don’t talk all that much besides the impromptu “thanks” or  “F$$K!”
I HATE that we have “the one best this and best that” culture in golf equipment. It’s such a big game with so many variables. Can’t we just accept the fact that it’s all REALLY good and have fun exploring what’s best for us individually? I mean, we even do it with tour players-there is no singular “best.” We have had like four of them over the last 100 years. Undisputed 5-plus year stallions that nobody disputed. “Best” defined as it relates to the PGA Tour is Tiger Woods 1999-2009…that’s the best. Anything short of that is a disservice to the players and a mind circus for us.
7. The new queen of LPGA driving distance
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“A rookie currently leads the LPGA in driving distance with a 287.462 yard average. Unlike Bryson DeChambeau, Bianca Pagdanganan didn’t seek out extra yardage. In fact, she can’t really even explain where her power comes from.”
“Her mantra, repeated throughout a recent phone conversation, is “I try not to force anything.”
“Pagdanganan’s coach at Arizona, Laura Ianello, points to “insanely” fast hips and use of the ground as key to her power. She’s 4 yards longer than Maria Fassi on the LPGA stats list and 5 yards ahead of Anne van Dam.”
8. Tiger officially in for Zozo
ESPN’s Bob Harig…“Tiger Woods announced his commitment to next month’s Zozo Championship at Sherwood Country Club, where he will be the defending champion of an event that has moved from Japan to Thousand Oaks, California, this year amid to the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • “Woods, 44, won the event over Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama last year at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club outside of Tokyo. The victory was the 82nd of his career and tied him with Sam Snead for the top spot on the PGA Tour’s victory list.”

 

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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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