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Morning 9: Bradley new Ryder Cup captain | Luke Clanton’s hot streak

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as we gear up for the Scottish Open.

1. Keegan Bradley to be named U.S. Ryder Cup captain

SI’s Bob Harig…”Tiger Woods has turned down the U.S. Ryder Cup captaincy, leading the PGA of America to go off recent protocol with a unique choice to take the job next year at Bethpage Black: Keegan Bradley.”

  • “The PGA of America confirmed Monday afternoon what Sports Illustrated first reported earlier in the day: that Bradley, who was bypassed by captain Zach Johnson for an at-large pick last year, will succeed him as captain.”
Full piece.

2. Luke Clanton’s hot streak

Kevin Prise for PGATour.com…”Luke Clanton authored a piece of modern-era history Sunday at the John Deere Classic, where he followed a T10 at the previous week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic with a runner-up at TPC Deere Run, punctuated by a 25-foot birdie on the 72nd hole in the Quad Cities.”

  • “It was a fitting conclusion to a sparkling week at the John Deere, as the rising Florida State junior proved that his recent performances were no fluke. Clanton made the cut at last month’s U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort, finishing T41, and he has continued to improve upon his finishes as he finds continued comfort at the game’s highest level – as a 20-year-old college kid.”
Full piece.

3. Smylie: Rory’s caddie should have stepped in

Our Matt Vincenzi…”It’s been almost a month since the U.S. Open, but the disappointing finish for Rory McIlroy is still fresh on the minds of plenty of people in the golf world.”

  • “Amongst the people analyzing Rory’s performance on that Sunday at Pinehurst is golf analyst Smylie Kaufman. While appearing on Golf’s Subpar podcast, the former pro said he believes McIlroy’s caddie, Harry Diamond, should have done more to help Rory.”
  • “I felt like (caddie) Harry Diamond really should have stepped in on the 15th hole.”
  • “He did not have the right club in his hands. And I felt like Rory could have taken control of the championship on 15 if he just hits it in the middle of the green. And he hit a good shot. But it just was the wrong club.”
  • “And never, never was a 7-iron for Rory. Especially with a right flag. If the wind was down off the right, it’s not exactly a flag and a wind condition and the heat to be able to land it in a hula hoop, where you got to hit this kind of soft, spinny, fade 7-iron. It was an 8-iron all day, hit it in the middle of the green.”
Full piece.

4. LIV pro’s airline, clubs fiasco

Our Matt Vincenzi…”Over the weekend, a handful of LIV golfers found themselves in contention at the International Series Morocco.”

  • “Amongst those players was the Iron Heads’ Scott Vincent. Incredibly, the Zimbabwean played well despite almost missing his tee time after the airline misplaced his clubs.”
  • “Vincent’s tee time was 12:30 and he arrived at 12:34, which led to him narrowly escaping a disqualification. He did, however, receive a two-stroke penalty for being late. He then had to use a set of borrowed clubs for his first round of the important event.”
  • “Despite the penalty and the unfamiliar clubs, the 32-year-old was able to fire a 5-under 68, which left him just two shots off of the first-round lead.”
  • “After the round, Vincent spoke about his clubs and how he was able to adapt to the unique situation.”
  • “A lot of people had clubs, bits and pieces, but obviously it is hard to make up a full set when you do not have anything, so we have a bit of a mixed bag here.
  • “I have talked a lot to myself about adapting, no matter what, whatever the situation might be. And so just being able to go out there with none of my stuff, even golf shoes, I am taking in the moment, and we will just take it as it comes.”
Full piece.

5. Poulter on why he skipped Open qualifying

Out Matt Vincenzi…”Among the players who aren’t exempt into majors is Ian Poulter. The 48-year-old could have chosen to attempt to play a qualifier to get in like Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood did, but he chose to skip it.”

  • While speaking to talkSPORT, the Englishman gave his explanation.
  • “My world ranking is not high enough to get into The Open Championship.
  • “I had the ability go and qualify and I didn’t.
  • “I was on holiday with the family in Switzerland instead.
  • “That is what LIV Golf has given me, a bit more family time.
  • “I still have got a busy schedule with LIV playing 14 tournaments.”
Full Piece.
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Highlights from the Wilson Golf Product Testing and Fitting Experience at Pinehurst

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All new from Wilson Golf this year are Staff blades and CB irons, Dynapower Forged irons, Staff Model ZM wedges, a new golf ball, the RB Utility iron that was released just a few weeks ago, and the company’s own club fitting technology called Wilson Fit AI.

Yeah, it’s been quite the first half of the year for Wilson Golf. Wilson is serious about establishing themselves as a major player in the golf industry. They’ve made new hires, bringing on Markus McCaine (by way of Cobra Puma) as the Head of Global Marketing. Willie Mack, Padraig Harrington, and Kevin Kisner (to name a few), are playing their products on Tour. As we mentioned earlier, they’ve released a ton of new products. But, with all of that being said, how do these new products really stack up?

That’s where we come in. Wilson Golf wanted to reach the hardcore golfer. The equipment junkie. The person who tries everything to find the right fit for optimal performance. They weren’t looking for someone who already had Wilson products in the bag, who would have attended this trip and predictably said great things about their newest line of products. They wanted to prove how Wilson Golf, the brand, and their new products, can truly compete with the major golf manufacturers. With four lucky GolfWRXers in tow, we headed to legendary Pinehurst to meet Wilson Golf’s team of product experts, to test (and get fit) for the full 2024 lineup of Wilson clubs — and play not-yet-open-to-the-public Pinehurst No. 10! The four WRXers — @TLUBulldogGolf, @TM golf guy, @Shilgy, @Olson12— enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience in North Carolina thanks to Wilson.

Members on Wilson Fit AI

TM golf guy: “The AI experience was super cool. 3 swings and it fit me basically exactly into what I expected.”

Shilgy: “The new Ai fitting tool is legit. First answer a few questions and then there is a fitting iron that measures everything. It’s almost scary how easy, and accurate, it is. Started me with a shaft that was too light but based on contact it changed to 115g DG. About as expected. I was fit into the CB with the Dynapower forged as the 5 and 6 iron.”

First impressions on the Staff Model and Dynapower irons

Olson12: “After warming up, Ed had me hit a handful of shots. It took maybe five or six shots, and we decided it was enough. Of the six shots, I hit four pretty well, one perfectly, and one really bad one. The app spits out recommendations based on all the data it collected and gives you both a steel and graphite option. On the graphite side, it went straight to the Steelfiber 110s, so that was the first one we tried. Ed built up a 7-iron in the Wilson Staff CB with the Steelfiber 110s, and we were off to the races.”

“I currently play a Titleist T100/T100s combo set with Nippon Modus 120x shafts. I bought this used set from a local shop after bouncing around a few different sets. (Thank God for the 90-day playability policy.) We’ve all heard the standard saying, “you want 1k spin x the number of the club.” For me, I’ve never even come close to getting 7k with my 7-iron. I’ve always hovered around 5500 and just learned to play with the rollout. My first few shots with the Staff CB were 7400, 7600, and 7100 with the Wilson Model X ball. Nice high cut, landed soft, PERFECT. Didn’t need to hit any other combos.”

TM golf guy: “I am currently playing i230s, and am generally happy with the performance. I had a feeling I would wind up with the Dynapower Forged, but I went in with an open mind to see what was suggested. After getting my numbers, Ed put together a Dynapower Forged with the UST Recoil Dart 105 F4 (stiff). It didn’t take me more than a few swings to know this was the set for me. I’ll do a formal review with side by side with my i230s later after I get them back and get more time with them, but I think these are going to be gamers. I was able to move them either direction, and they felt better than the i230 based on my limited experience so far.”

TLUBulldogGolf: “The MBs flat out perform, if you want that classic look they should be on your shortlist to try, they nailed the shape and the sole design and turf interaction were just what I expect out of a blade. The options to combo with the CB and new utility should appeal to anyone after that classic look with performance.”

Shilgy: “First swings warming up on the range and I could feel the difference, in a good way, between a properly built set and more mass produced. The balance of this set is fantastic. I’ve always been partial to heavier shafts and heads but the T150 always felt too head heavy to me. The balance on this Wilson set is perfect.”

“Suffice it to say both the CB’s and Dynapower irons were quite good today. Hit it solid and you will get the same result every time….miss it a bit and you’ll still get a very playable result.”

First impressions on the Staff Model ZM wedges

Olson12: “I currently play 50, 54, 60 Vokey SM9 wedges but decided to give the 58/6* a whirl, and I’m glad I did. I mentioned to the staff earlier that I never use my 60 for anything longer than 50 yards. I’ve never felt comfortable with a full swing lob. Going to the 58* gives me more confidence on full shots but was still able to hit all the chips and bunker shots I normally hit with my 60*.”

Guys… These are fully forged wedges for $150. I just ordered my three Vokey wedges a few months ago for like $600. What the hell, man! If you are in the market for wedges, do yourself a favor and just give them a shot. Nice traditional shape and a super soft feel. Not too clicky but still gives audible feedback on mishits.”

TM golf guy: “The Staff ZM wedges were something I was really interested in as I loved the head shape, and the feel and performance didn’t disappoint. They have a really nice shape to them, and the sound and feel is also excellent. I’m a big fan of the 60° that I got. The grind really allows for a lot of versatility around the greens as well. My only regret here is that I didn’t get the Staff gap wedge instead of the Dynapower one.”

TLUBulldogGolf: “The wedges are really solid as well, I feel like I can flight them with ease and they spin like crazy.”

“I have the 60-06 and it’s similar to a Vokey T grind, maybe a touch less demanding. The 56-10 plays very similar to a Vokey S grind.”

First impressions on the utility irons

Olson12: “I’ve played Srixon & Ping Utilities for a while now. I recently gave up the Crossover and went back to a 3 hybrid because the offset was just not working for me. Since the club was just announced today, we had just the stock HZRDUS Black shaft in both the 3 and 4 iron. I hit the 3 and realized it’s been a really long time since I hit a long iron. It took a few swings, but I started to find my groove. Minimal offset, satin finish, and a good-looking topline. This thing is going to compete with the big boys. Hell, @TLUBulldogGolf was getting 150mph ball speed when hitting it off of a tee.”

TLUBulldogGolf: “The utility is the real deal, just seems to want to go straight. A little longer heel to toe than my T200, and it just feels easy.”

The utility surprised me, I knew it was good at my last range session but it seems to come off lower despite having more loft than my T200. I hit it over the green from 240 on a par 5 which shocked me. The stock HZRDUS 4G stays with me and seems to be a good match for my irons.”

TM golf guy: “This utility is stupid good. The first swing I made I hit rather toey, and it flew straight as an arrow. Off the tee it’s a more penetrating flight than my Srixon, but still has good height. Like @TLUBulldogGolf said, it really wants to go straight. Definitely a winner.”

GolfWRX Members on Wilson Golf:

TLUBulldog: “They want to get everything on the golf side right.”

“I came away super impressed with what Wilson is doing and the direction they are taking the brand.”

“I’m hoping this (and their overall strategy) can up their visibility because the new product is legit.

Olson12: “I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the Wilson product. What stands out the most is the people behind the scenes. This group of people is IMPRESSIVE. They love golf, they are competitive, and they want to compete with the best of the best. I’m thankful to be part of their story, and once we get the full set and get a chance to play them out in the wild, I’ll be able to give a more thorough breakdown.”

TM golf guy: “They are a group of super passionate people who absolutely love what they do, really have a lot of great ideas, and are a really cool group of people to talk to (they also know their way around a golf course!). They were incredibly open to feedback, and were also very candid about their thoughts on things as well. The people a company chooses to represent them says a lot about the company, and Wilson has picked an incredible group. I think Wilson has an extremely bright future ahead of them, and they’ve certainly made a fan out of me.”

Shilgy: “We all definitely need to add Wilson golf to our must play equipment. You’re definitely doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least try them out and with the new AI fitting tool every fitter out there can be a Wilson expert fitter.”

Shilgy, Lindsey Lasater, TM golf guy, Markus McCaine

One final thought

If you’re in the market for a new ball, a hidden gem emerged during this trip. Our members were impressed with the new ball from Wilson. Coming from the Chrome Tour X and TP5, Olson12 stated that the feel of the X around the greens was “pretty damn good.” While TLUBulldogGolf shared, “I’m liking the Model X. Very natural transition as a V1X player.”

We’re looking forward to diving even deeper into the trip and what Wilson has to offer over the next few weeks. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to follow along in the forum.

 

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Ryder Cup 2025: Crossing to Bethpage – New York State Park golf, Part 1

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The 2025 Ryder Cup matches will be held over the sprawling, bruising, Long Island acreage known as Bethpage Black State Park Golf Course. The course has hosted multiple national championships, most recently the 2019 PGA Championship. In September 2025, Bethpage Black will welcome teams from the USA and Europe to contest the 45th Ryder Cup matches. Team Europe, the defending champions, will be led again by captain Luke Donald. The U.S. PGA has not yet announced the name of its leader, yet all sources and speculations point to a 15-time major champion and an eight-time participant in the biennial event.

Bethpage Black will join Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester (1995) as the second Empire State course to host the event. The Ryder Cup matches were played in the metropolitan New York area once before, in 1935 at the Ridgewood Club, in Paramus, New Jersey. It’s fair to say that metro NYC is due to host this world-stage, golf event. I can’t wait. The USA’s loss to Europe in 2023 adds to the considerable drama.

What makes Bethpage Black an outlier in the world of championship golf, is its mere existence. It’s a state park golf course, one of five on property, each with a colorful name. The Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow join big brother Black as outstanding tests of golf in Farmingdale. Of the five, only the Green was not originally built as a state course. The Lenox Hills Country Club, designed by Devereux Emmet, opened in 1923. By 1932, the club had closed and the land had become property of the state. Its birth date made the Green the oldest of the five courses. New York State began to build on a series of adjacent parcels, guided by the hands of Alber “A.W.” Tillinghast, Joseph Burbeck, and Alfred Tull. The Yellow course, built entirely by Tull, was the last of the five to open.

State park courses just don’t hold major championships. Private clubs and elite resorts are the typical sites that receive the nod from the world’s golf bodies. It’s a testament to the lovers of Bethpage, the New York state government, and the PGA of America (among others) that Bethpage is as good as it is, and that it continues to improve. It’s a fitting site for the 2025 Ryder Cup matches, but the 2025 Ryder Cup matches need a beginning to their story. I’ll do my best to provide it.

The quintet of courses near Bethpage, New York, is just the beginning of the New York state park golf course system. 19 parks in total offer golf from the tip of Long Island, to the shores of Lake Ontario, through the Catskill mountains, to my home town. I’m a Western New York guy. The Buffalo area has been my home for most of my 58 years on the golf ball known as Earth. I live two miles from the westernmost, state park golf course: Beaver Island. The Beav, as everyone calls it, was designed by William Harries. It opened the year I was born, which means that it is close to 60 years old! Unlike the Bethpage property, where topography is king, the Beav is a flat course, albeit full of enough interest to bring you back for more.

As I considered the magnitude of the state park system, I realized that golfers who frequent those 19 state parks can point to their home course and say, “You know, the Ryder Cup will be at a state park course next year.” I started to count on my fingers, the number of state park courses I had played: Beaver Island, Green Lakes (Syracuse), James Baird (Poughkeepsie), and the five at Bethpage, I realized that I had played eight of the 23 total courses, and had visited a mere four of the 19 parks.

Bethpage is the only, multi-course state park across the Empire State. Other venues range from pitch-and-putt, to nine-hole, to regulation 18-hole courses. The majority occupy nice tracts of land, and feature 18 holes of memorable, enjoyable golf. PGA Tour professionals Joey Sindelar and Mike Hulbert grew up on one of those courses, and Dottie Pepper spent a bit of time on another, near her hometown.

There will be many stories that trace the path to Bethpage and its 2025 Ryder Cup, and I look forward to reading and hearing them. This one is my own, and I’m proud (and a little frightened) to undertake it. I’ll visit each of the remaining parks over the next 16 months, and report in with images and words that tell the story of each park and its golf course.

The Ones I’ve Played

The Bethpage Five

As mentioned above, I’ve played eight of the 23 courses, but the majority of that number is owed to a 2011 pilgrimage to Long Island. The Black had just hosted its second US Open championship, and the ink for the 2019 PGA Championship was not yet printed. I spoke with a Bethpage caddy, in anticipation of the trek. I wrote a series of articles on the courses on my own site, BuffaloGolfer. Down the road of this, current series, I’ll discuss the most poignant piece that I connected with Bethpage. That’s a story for another time. After all, Bethpage is a five-course meal.

It’s safe to say the the Bethpage property is unlike any other, municipal, golfing space in the world (at least, those not named the Links Trust of St. Andrews!) The park encompasses nearly 1500 acres of wooded land and offers much beyond golf to its visitors. As pilgrimages go, Bethpage is it. For a New York state resident, on a weekend, it would cost a total of $257 dollars … to play all five courses. Even for those outside the state, the trip to Bethpage is worth consideration. Each course rambles over uneven, heaving land. Holes carry along falloffs and bend unexpectedly around corners. Greens are benched into hillsides and settled into valleys. All five courses remind you of the others, yet none of them says to you “You’ve played this course before.”

James Baird State Park 

One of the hats that I wear, is high school golf coach. Each spring, golfers from my team travel to Poughkeepsie to play the James Baird State Park golf course. Pronounced “Bard,” the course was opened in 1948, after a middle-aged, Robert Trent Jones, senior, put pen to paper to lay out the course. Jones was about to become a household name, as he would offer renovation advice to many of the country’s classic clubs. He was most famously associated with the Oakland Hills Country Club near Detroit, the host site of the 1951 US Open. You know, the one where Ben Hogan purportedly gasped “I’m glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees.”

Trent didn’t leave a monster in Poughkeepsie. What he left was something that locals call Baby Bethpage. The James Baird course is blessed with topography similar to its five-course cousin, but it offered a challenge that Bethpage does not: a huge expanse of marsh across the belly of the property. There was not going over nor through it, so Jones simply went around it. He created something that he never, ever did: a short par three. Jones was a fan of the brutish, 200-yard plus, all-carry, par three hole. For the third hole at Baird, he had all of 120 yards, and it was downhill! Jones placed a green in the marsh, connected to the mainland by an earthen bridge. He then turned north for a time, then returned south, outside the marsh. Trent Jones had another stretch of tricky land to navigate, this time, on the inward half. He brought a trio of holes (pars 4-3-5) through a challenging corner of the property, before returning to the open meadow that hosts the majority of the layout.

James Baird is a tremendous golf course, one that prepares our high school competitors well for the next step: the state federation championship at, you guessed it, Bethpage Black. Six golfers move on to compete against other, high school divisions, at the big brother of them all.

Green Lakes

The Baird course came to life 13 years after Trent Jones opened his first, New York state parks course. Originally from Rochester, New York, Trent ventured 90 minutes east to Manlius, near Syracuse, in 1935, to lay out one of his first ten courses. RTJ was gifted the magnificent land that abuts the two glacial lakes in central New York. The lakes are meromictic, which we all know means that surface and bottom waters do not mix in the fall and spring, as happens with dimictic lakes.

Trent Jones placed his clubhouse and finishing greens (9 and 18) in an interesting portion of the property. The ninth hole is an uphill, par five that plays fifty yards longer than its measured distance. Once home to upper and lower greens, the lower has been expanded and enhanced, and the upper is now abandoned. On the other side of the clubhouse, the sneaky 18th moves out of a corridor of trees, into the open space beneath the clubhouse. It’s a bit reminiscent of the 18th at Bethpage’s Green course. It’s not a long hole, yet when you walk off with five or six on your card, you wonder where you went astray.

The front half of the course plays along a vast meadow, above Green Lake, the larger of the two, nautical bodies. The inward side forages among the tree above Round Lake, before finally emerging at the home hole. The apparent contrariety of the two nines is resolved through expansion of fairway corridors on the treed nine, and the constriction of playing paths with bunkers and doglegs, on the exposed side.

If you’re a walker, Green Lakes will make you a fit one. It will also demand all the clubs and shots that you can fit in your bag.

Beaver Island

“Tame” isn’t the proper term to describe Beaver Island, the state park course near my home. I believe that “calm” is a better term. It may seem ironic, given that the 1965 course occupies a tract of land at the southern tip of Grand Island, where the Niagara River splits east and west, before reuniting at the north end. When we think of the Niagara, we think of the mighty rapids and cascades near the brink and bottom of the falls. At the southern split of the river, however, you can throw a canoe in the water and have a paddle. Beaver Island knows that it is adjacent to the river, but you never get the sense that this golf course borders water. I’ve redesigned the park hundreds of times in my head, moving the golf course to the banks of the river, where the trails, beach, playground, and other amenities are currently found. In the end, not every great golf course can, nor should, be built.

William Harries trained under the famed competitor and architect, Walter Travis. Despite this exposure to the master, Harries went his own way with his golf courses. The most striking difference is in green construction. While Travis was extraordinarily creative and daring, Harries was the polar opposite. His greens are routinely flat and easy to navigate.

He designed a number in the western New York area, including Brookfield Country Club. Originally known as Meadow Brook, the club hosted the 1948 Western Open, won by the aforementioned, Ben Hogan. The majority of Harries’ work was in municipal courses, and he designed Sheridan Park for the town of Tonawanda. That course hosted the 1962 USGA Public Links championship.

On Grand Island, Harries traced his layout around three ponds. The massive, western one, comes into play on the second through fifth holes. The middle one plays games with the approach to the eighth green. The final one, on the inward side, forces golfers to carry their tee shot over water, to the 14th fairway. Beaver Island bears no resemblance to the topography of the other locales mentioned previously. There is no heaving, no tumbling, no turbulence, along its fairways. Beaver Island is more St. Andrews in its flattish presentation, which makes it an honest, what-you-see, sort of golf course. It’s an enjoyable walk in the park, a not-too-demanding one.

Part Two: south-central New York-Soaring Eagles, Chenango Valley, Indian Hills, and Bonavista

https://www.rydercup.com/ PGA of America Ryder Cup Trophy

Ryder Cup Trophy @ Bethpage – Photo courtesy of PGA of America

 

 

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Davis Thompson’s winning WITB: 2024 John Deere Classic

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Driver: Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees) Buy here.
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX

3-wood: Ping G430 Max (15 degrees) Buy here.
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K White 80 TX

7-wood: Ping G430 Max (21 degrees) Buy here.
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 90 TX

Irons: Ping i210 (4) Buy here, Titleist 620 MB (5-9) Buy here.
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Mid Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM10 (46-10F, 50-08F) Buy here, Titleist Vokey Design WedgeWorks (54-08M, 60-04T) Buy here.
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (46), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (50-60)

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #7 Buy here.
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GTR Tour

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

Ball: Titleist Pro V1 Buy here.

The winning WITB is presented by 2nd Swing Golf. 2nd Swing has more than 100,000 new and pre-swung golf clubs available in six store locations and online. Check them out here.

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