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Morning 9: Life in the European Tour bubble | Investigations at Golf Channel HQ? | Return of the 9-hole round?

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1. Living in the European Tour bubble 
John Huggan for Golf Digest…”If COVID-19 test results are our guide, the European Tour’s “bubble” system-in which players are required to travel solely between the course and hotel during tournament week and eat with only designated “buddies” at specific locations-has been hugely successful. Only one player, Frenchman Alex Levy, has so far been the subject of a positive result. And only John Catlin, subsequently a two-time tournament winner, has been caught violating the prescribed protocol…”
  • “Perhaps even more happily, the obvious potential for mental health issues has been nullified as much as possible. Many precautions are in place. The tour offers the players access to a support hotline, which operates 24 hours a day. Nutritionist Graham Close has been advising the designated hotels on their menus. And players have the option of withdrawing from events at the last minute, with no threat of financial penalty. Given a ripcord they can pull, any feeling of being “trapped” is mitigated.”
2. Golf Channel HQ closed for investigation 
Geoff Shackelford writes…“A class action lawsuit joined last week by eleven Golf Channel employees has prompted the closing of the network’s Orlando headquarters. The campus is slated for permanent demise this December, with a small number of jobs moving to Stamford, Connecticut where NBC Sports is currently located.”
“In a late Friday email to staff shared by multiple sources, Golf Channel president Mike McCarley cited the lawsuit in announcing the need to investigate.”
  • “In light of the allegations, we are thoroughly investigating the matter to ensure that our campus environment is safe,” McCarley wrote. “While we do so, out of an abundance of caution, we ask that you continue to work remotely as has been the case during the pandemic. Over the next few days, we will communicate with the limited number of employees currently allowed on-site to further limit access, involving moving our production off-site beginning Monday.”
  • “Another sources says a traditional Monday email to staff offered no follow-up news…”
  • “The channel faces at least two known lawsuits but none directly related to the Lockheed Martin class-action suit announced last week and reported on by the Orlando Sentinel.”
3. Spotlight on Vegas
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com talks to the players who call Sin City home ahead of two-tournament stint in town.
  • “My coach Butch Harmon is out there in Henderson (a 20-minute drive south),” says McNealy, who finished a career-best 68th in the FedExCup last season. “And there’s actually an incredible amount of young players that are out there now. They’re calling it the Jupiter of the West – lots of PGA TOUR, LPGA, Korn Ferry, Canada, Latin America, high school players, college players.
  • “It’s pretty motivating to be out there,” McNealy adds. “Everybody is working hard, and I know there’s a lot of people out there trying to get my job, too.”
  • “Las Vegas is where Tiger Woods notched the first of his 82 (and counting) TOUR wins in 1996, beating Davis Love III in a playoff. It’s where Chip Beck shot 13-under 59 at the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational at Sunrise Golf Club. It’s the home of UNLV, which has helped hone the skills of future TOUR pros like Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore. And, yes, it’s the home base for Harmon, who advised seemingly every No. 1 player for some 30-odd years…”    
4. Should TV help in the lost golf ball search? 
Geoff Shackelford…“Twice during the Sky Sports/Golf Channel telecast of the Aberdeen Standard Scottish Open (at least that I saw) Lee Westwood was aided by television sharing the approximate coordinates of a lost ball. Both were found.”
  • “…I don’t believe this is a Rules issue as much as it’s a philosophic question of what role should television play? With betting projected to become a prime revenue source and the fan based connected to the proceedings via capital, these weird little first world dilemmas take on a different edge with outside money on the line. We already know how upset viewers get when they perceive a slight when tallying up shots shown, so imagine if one player is seemingly helped more than another?”
  • “This topic may be moot when spectators return and any television assistance will return to its former role as the equivalent of fans identifying where a ball went. But for a while attendance will be light, cameras will still roll and I suspect, there will be a randomness to lost balls identified with the help of television.”
5. Are 9-hole rounds seeing a comeback?
Erik Matuszewski writing for the Links Magazine…“I’ve discovered, or maybe rediscovered, the joy of 9-hole rounds-and I’m not alone. The National Golf Foundation recently shared data that showed the percentage of 9-hole rounds is up 15 percent over last year.”
  • “The pandemic has reshaped behaviors and led people to rethink where they go and how they spend their free time. This has proven to be good news for golf, which has experienced record-setting surges in play as avid golfers, former golfers, and new golfers opt for a safe, healthy, outdoor activity. Amid uncertain and unprecedented times, golf has provided a valuable mental and physical escape-when you can find a tee time, that is.”
  • “My local public course seemingly had a full tee sheet all summer, which meant getting a little creative. I’d occasionally ask to play the back nine first thing in the morning, ahead of the grounds crew and before returning to my home office for work. Most of the greens would still be untouched and covered in dew, but that just meant you could satisfyingly see the putting line if a ball tracked into the hole. I’d slip out in the evening when the summer days were long, squeezing in nine holes after (occasionally instead of) dinner. Sometimes I’d bring my kids and not even get in a full nine. And that was fine.”
6. In ‘wild, wild West’ created by COVID-19, college golf coaches ponder the uncertain future of their sport
Tod Leonard for Golf Digest checks in with UCLA coach Derek
Freeman…”If the coronavirus didn’t exist, all of Freeman’s golfers would be on the Westwood campus in the Los Angeles suburbs, going to class, practicing at some of the city’s finest country clubs and preparing for top-level competition.”
  • “But that all changed with COVID-19, which first gummed up the turning wheels of college sports in March, when play came to a shocking halt. Championships in all winter and spring sports were canceled. Classes were switched to online. Many of the students, still in their teens, faced the first deep crisis of their lives.”
  • “The sadness, confusion and sense of upheaval has softened in some regions of the country, but it weighs as heavily as it ever did in others. The same can be said for college golf, where the NCAA, conferences and universities are in the strange, unprecedented position of relying on states, counties and even the beliefs of individual families to determine their competitive fate in the 2020-’21 season and beyond.”
7. One pairing to rule them all…and then the normal humans
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on the groupings for the Shriners…“DeChambeau won this event two years ago, and he returns to TPC Summerlin to make his first start as a major champion after bombing his way past the field last month at Winged Foot. Wolff finished second at the U.S. Open for his best-ever major result, and like DeChambeau he’s returning to competition after two weeks off. Rounding out the group will be Champ, another of the Tour’s longest hitters who will missed the cut at Winged Foot but will be looking to win his second start of the new season for the third straight year.”
  • “Kevin Na, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler…This group features the two combatants from last year’s playoff, where Na won on the second extra hole. Two of Na’s four career wins have come at this event, while Cantlay’s affinity for TPC Summerlin includes his maiden Tour win (2017) to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes. Joining them will be Fowler, who finished T-4 at this event in 2018 but has dipped to No. 41 in the world rankings and enters off a T-49 finish at the U.S. Open.”
8. WOTW: Sergio’s Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light”
Our resident watch expert, Brian Knudson on the Spaniard’s wristwear…“Sergio was wearing an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial “Ultra Light” in green (Ref: 220.92.41.21.06.003) after winning the Sanderson Farms Championship. Sergio has been an Omega athlete for 17 years, sporting many of their luxury timepieces on tour. This week he not only wore the Seamaster Aqua terra “Light Weight” during the trophy presentation, but he wore it while playing.”
  • “At a minuscule 55 grams, this Seamaster weighs just slightly more than a golf ball. The watch is all about weight with sporting a Gamma Titanium case, ceramic bezel, grade 5 titanium dial, and even a movement made from titanium. Omega created the manual winding Calibre 8928 out of titanium and it is a certified Master Chronometer. The telescoping crown gets tucked away when not in use for comfort and protection. The iconic lined dial is made from grade 5 titanium and sandblasted for a matte finish. A lightweight fabric strap with green contrast stitching held tight through all four rounds of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
  • “The price of the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial “Ultra Light” is $48,600 and you already have to join the waiting list to get your hands on one.”
9. Wunder: Launch season is coming – Top 4 things I’m excited about
Here’s JW’s take on the new Srixon ZX7 irons…“Ask any fitter across North America, and I’d bet a good majority would say Srixon more or less rules the conversation in the players iron category. Not to say that other OEMs aren’t competitive, but for the last four or five years, Z series irons have been the darlings for fitters and builders. Feel, quality and consistency are the keywords used and now finally the popular Z785 has its new iteration. The ZX7.”
  • “No details as to when they will hit the market or the story behind them, but what I’ve heard is, they took the cult classic Z745 and last year’s Z785 and blended them together to make an iron that finally converts the die-hard Z745 user into the ZX7. The 745 has been an iron that even Tour staff have had a hard time getting out of. Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell. Jerry Kelly, Brian Gay, and a few others still have them in play-and keep in mind Srixon has launched two new irons since that time. That’s why the ZX7 needed to be a game-changer.”

 

 

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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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Tour Photo Galleries

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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