The Local Knowlege

News & Tours

What is the biggest emotional meltdown or blow-up you've witnessed on a golf course?

Some things you can't unsee.

My male roommate shaving his legs, or catching a "Good by 03-11-2004" date on a beer I had just finished in 2009 are two of the images forever burned in my mind. However, these ingrained events don't have to be exclusively traumatic.

In fact, one of my most vivid childhood memories involved a golf-course breakdown of Homeric proportions. One which, while awkward at the time, never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I was playing in a golf tournament during my senior year of high school. Despite the innocuous, beautiful autumn scenery, the course was something fierce that afternoon. The type of day where a profuseness of fallen leaves -- although majestic -- makes finding one's Titleist a pain in the behind.

One of my competitors was having an especially tough go of it. This cat turned the front nine in 47, and things didn't get particularly better on the back. The player in question was normally a calm guy, but the high numbers broke his psyche early, leading to numerous club slams against his bag.

Unfortunately for him, the consequence of this act swiftly manifested its ugly head. During the back nine, his club shafts, one by one, started to snap. His continual bag swings -- reminiscent of a lumberjack cutting down a tree -- were taking their toll on his sticks. If memory serves correctly, at least four clubs were splintered in this manner.

Had the tale ended there, it was have merely been a cautionary narrative against losing one's temper. Luckily, at least for posterity's sake, the story was just getting started.

The 13th hole was a 180-yard par-3. In the face of incessant wind, it was playing closer to 200. Guarded by a large bunker on the right and thick heather outlining the hole, a tough set-up in any condition. Coupled with the wind, along with our protagonist's journey to a radio-station score -- a Magic 101 or 98 the Zoo -- the hole was ripe for destruction.

My competitor proceeded to top his shot off the tee box and into the heather. Unfazed, he grabbed a provisional. His reload took a similar flight. 

He managed to put his third try into the bunker. After executing a hell of a sand shot, he had 10 inches or so to make his seven.

His tap-in went 270 degrees around the hole, but not in the cup. Snowman.

Following the miss, his putter went helicoptering towards his bag. Dramatic, yes, but I'd seen similar throws. What I hadn't seen, however, is what he did next. And I swear on my mother's life, the following is true.

When the last man in our group finished out, our beleaguered compadre took the flag and, in a scene straight out of Happy Gilmore, chucked the stick in shot-put fashion towards the high stuff.

150803-gilmore-500.gif

In terms of form, his execution was flawless. That baby sailed for days. Alas, after eight seconds of magnificent, "Did that really just happen?" awe, it became apparent that our playing partner needed to retrieve the flag, as there was still a group left on the course.

One problem: he couldn't find the flag.

Not helping matters was the yellow hue of the flag and stick. Plus, we weren't exactly tracking its destination, which was a point of consternation with an opposing coach.

"How can you take your eye off it?" he wallowed.

"How is that your first question?" was my reply.

We spent a good 15 minutes trying to locate that bad boy. Our search party grew to 20 or so spectators. My favorite part came from someone's grandpa, who inquired, "What did the flag look like?" in the same cadence as seeking for a lost ball. 

"Oh, you found a yellow flag with a 16? Sorry, we're looking for 13."

Why do I bring this up? Because, this past weekend at a golf outing, I witnessed a meltdown that makes this affair look civil.

But the treasure chest of golf course blow-ups is so rich that we want you to share in the harvest. Send us your stories either in the comment/Facebook sections, via the GoldDigest Twitter account or email (joel_beall AT golfdigest.com). We will run the best selections later this week, along with my promised weekend experience. 

As for the ending of our story, the flag was ultimately discovered. I suppose it's not a surprise it took so long to spot. As Mark Twain once wrote, "It takes me a long time to lose my temper, but once lost I could not find it with a dog."

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Video

Rory and the Bryan Brothers made this sweet trick shot video at Whistling Straits

The best trick-shot artists in the game -- the Bryan Brothers -- and the best player in the game by the World Ranking -- Rory McIlroy -- teamed up to make this trick-shot video at Whistling Straits. (Obviously, the video was filmed before Rory's unfortunate ankle injury.) 

Rory serves as a more than adequate sidekick, hitting set-up shots to Wesley Bryan, who then hits them out of mid air. Rory then gets in the act himself, impressing the Bryans with his own ball-bashing skills. Basically, the most important thing you can learn from this is that McIlroy is an absolute machine and can essentially make a golf ball bend to his will. 


While this video is very cool, and looked pretty fun to make, it's really depressing for us to see Rory at the PGA Championship venue, when it's still up in the air as to whether or not he'll be there next week to defend his title. 

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Equipment

New Srixon Q-Star updates cover coating

Qstar1.jpg
The shortcoming with two-piece golf balls has long been about short game spin. Typical ionomer covers, especially those on balls with lower compression, can’t be made soft and flexible enough to grab on the grooves for more spin relative to the launch angle. 

Like its previous generation, the latest version of Srixon’s Q-Star attacks the issue of spin through a chemical coating on the cover designed to improve friction. The so-called Spin Skin coating is now in its second iteration, and this new version was first seen on the company’s tour-level Z-Star balls, which feature a multilayer construction with a urethane cover. Srixon engineers say the new version of the coating is 21 percent softer than the previous version, allowing more of the ball to deform into a groove on a shorter shot. The additional softness creates 18 percent more friction, the company says.

Designed to enhance the distance potential for non-tour-level swing speeds, the two-piece Q-Star's large core gets progressively firmer from the center toward the outer edge for improved launch conditions and reduced spin. 
QStar3.jpg
The dimple pattern has been revised to feature 324 larger dimples for reduced aerodynamic drag compared to the previous model’s 344.

The new Q-Star will be in stores Aug. 14 and is available in both Pure White and Tour Yellow ($25).













--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
News & Tours

They say golf is an individual sport, but these major winners say it's really all about team

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran in the Aug. 3, 2015 issue of Golf World.

After Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson won their majors this year, you heard them credit “team.”

It’s not like the days when Jack Nicklaus relied only on the eyes of instructor Jack Grout and the guiding hand of wife Barbara. Or going back to the generation before that, when Ben Hogan took deep pride in self-reliance. The old guys never said “We.” They said “Me.”

While still only the player hits the shots and makes the putts, the fractional difference that leads to excelling at 21st-century tour golf could be provided by what Johnson calls the “foundational trusses” of having a team. Johnson believes it’s a crucial part of how a 39-year-old non-prototype player coming off the mini-tours can own two majors and be on the cusp of a Hall of Fame career.

Related: 13 Things You Didn’t Know About Zach Johnson

“There are so many levels to it,” Johnson said last week from his home in St. Simons Island, Ga. “You have the mental side, you have the physical side and you have the spiritual side as far as I’m concerned. If one is out of balance, it can filter in to the others, and things can go off kilter.”

Johnson’s 10-person team includes his wife, swing coach, fitness coach, sport psychologist, chiropractor/nutritionist, caddie, manager, statistician, financial advisor and spiritual guide. Their first summit was 2006, a year before Zach won the Masters. The focus was on wedge practice, because Johnson ranked 182nd in par-5 scoring. He birdied 11 of 16 par-5s at Augusta National by laying-up and using his wedge.

“One of the keys is open communication, both not being afraid to say something or accepting criticism and healthy debate,” Johnson said of the interaction process. “All my guys don’t mind speaking up and unleashing it, or getting healthy criticism back at them. The trust of it is what keeps it gelling.”

Related: How Jordan Spieth Lost The Slam

Spieth doesn’t have as many people on his payroll, but was quick to say after slipping on the green jacket and hoisting the U.S. Open trophy at Chambers Bay, “It’s a team win, it’s a family win.”

The synthesis between swing coach Cameron McCormick and performance coach Damon Goddard might not seem to have much to do with Jay Danzi managing Spieth’s career, but in a way it does. Goddard and McCormick recommend rest as much as they do practice and workout sessions. With Jordan as the CEO of “Team Spieth” or “Spieth Enterprises,” it then comes down to him making the call. “Jordan talks about team probably more than anybody in the game,” Danzi says. “This is his thing.”

Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and every other top-10 player have similar models. McIlroy had to rebuild his team with family, friends and close confidants after breaking from Horizon Sports in 2013. It was around that time Day’s team had a heart to heart with him about the need to work harder, which has led to his recent run. “At the end of the day, he is the owner and the star quarterback,” says Day’s manager, Bud Martin. “I would refer to myself as the general manager.”

The man credited with bringing the modern team concept to golf is Ben Crane’s manager, Tommy Limbaugh, a football coach in the SEC before transitioning to golf in 2009. “I wanted to get all on one page, so that it all works together,” Limbaugh said. “That’s why I use the term ‘oneness.’ Like one heartbeat.”

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
How He Hit That

How He Hit That: Troy Merritt's championship tweaks

What's the difference between missing five cuts in a row and winning $1.2 million?

Less than an inch. 

Troy Merritt was drifting back in the pack at the Quicken Loans National after opening with rounds of 70-68. He made two subtle tweaks with the help of his caddie. Merritt slightly changed his hand position on full shots, and got his shoulders square in his address position on putts. 

The feedback was instantaneous. 

loop-merritt-putting-520.png

Merritt shot 61 on Saturday to jump into the lead, then followed with a 67 Sunday to beat Rickie Fowler by three shots and earn his first PGA Tour victory. He hadn't made a cut since The Memorial, in the first week of June, and had missed the weekend in six out of his last seven tournaments.

"It doesn't matter what level of player you are -- it isn't always some major breakdown that could be causing you problems," says top Alabama teacher Tony Ruggiero, who is the director of instruction at the Country Club of Mobile. "You want to constantly monitor the basics -- grip, posture, ball position and body alignments -- because a lot of times it's as simple as getting one of those back on track." 

An easy way to check your grip is to take your normal left hand grip at address, then shift the club into impact position. "When you do that, the club face should be pointing at your target," says Ruggiero, who also teaches at Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach, Fla., and hosts the Dewsweepers Golf Show on PGA Tour Radio. "If it isn't, you need to make an adjustment."

Or see if Merritt's caddie is available for a loop. 

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS


... Read
News & Tours

What IF John Daly was a Ryder Cup captain? Five positives JD would bring to the event

Thanks to the inundation of a never-ending news cycle and our decreasing attention spans, most tidbits are ephemeral, forgotten before they're fully digested. For a report to have any type of permanence, it has to be particularly exceptional.

This is one of those items.

In his weekly Missing Links piece, Golf Digest's John Strege referenced John Daly's personal campaign for Ryder Cup captaincy. Speaking in Aberdeen, Scotland at an event hosted by British Open champion Paul Lawrie, Daly said:

"Hopefully I would one day be a captain, it would be fun. I don't know if I fit the mold. I don't know if I fit what the PGA of America would want.

"All I know is my team, if I was a captain, we'd have a blast. I'd make sure they had a blast. You don't want to wear a tie, don't wear a tie. Have fun. It's supposed to be fun.

"I think we just get wrapped up in it. I think when you're favored to win so many years like the Americans have been, I think we get uptight. Even the matches that we are getting killed in, we are favored in.

"I think we put too much pressure on ourselves. Just go out and play golf. It's great to play for your country, but it's still a gentleman's game at the end. I don't know all the facts and everything that goes on behind the doors when the captain is talking and everything, but I sense it (and) it's my opinion that the European guys get along better. When I see it on TV, it just looks like our guys are not having a good time."

(Wiping tears from eyes, giving Daly a standing ovation.)

JD is a lot of things, but no one has ever accused him of blowing smoke. (Unless we're talking literal cigarette smoke.) The man drops truth bombs, and in this case, it's a necessary blitzkrieg.

The Ryder Cup's self-perpetuating importance and gravitas, at least from the American side, has become a monster, and it's one that needs to be cut down. Who better to do it than Daly, a man who has a history of disrupting the status quo of the sport?

Here's why "John Daly, Ryder Cup Captain" is not as an absurd proposition:

He's Right: It's Supposed To Be Fun

Instead of a friendly international exhibition, the Ryder Cup has become an increasingly jingoistic circus. Worse, much of this feeling is unnatural and forced. This isn't Jesse Owens at the Berlin Olympics; half the European roster are beloved regulars on the PGA Tour.

Forget winning or losing consequences; having Daly in the mix will return a sense of camaraderie to the event.

The Outfits. Oh, The Outfits.

For the unaware, one of the responsibilities of Ryder Cup captaincy is input on the team's ensembles. Meaning the Americans could march out in this:


Or this:


Or this:


If the Yanks role out in these uniforms, I don't care what the scoreboard says. In my book, we're going to be winners.

Daly Would Take Away Pressure From The Players

Let's not sugarcoat it: despite his immense popularity among the galleries and fellow pros, the "Wild Thing" rubs many the wrong way. Daly's captaincy would be met with immense scrutiny from the press and the game's establishment.

Captains are often credited for their effect on the event's outcome, especially if that outcome is a loss. (See Watson, Tom.) Given his controversial nature, this would be amplified for Daly. While not an enviable position for the man himself, the players would appreciate not having the spotlight shine so bright, and might play in a looser, natural fashion.

It Would Inject Desperately-Needed Pizzazz

The 2014 Ryder Cup was slaughtered in TV ratings. Part of this stemmed from its time slot, yet there's no doubting the American sporting public's attention is divided during the fall between college and pro football and baseball's playoff race.

While golf zealots tune in no matter the ancillary factors, the event needs to draw in the general crowd. Adding Daly to the mix would help garner such eyes.

The Prospect Of Daly Making Himself A Captain's Pick

It's about time we bring back the player-coach concept. It worked for Paul Newman in Slap Shot, dammit! Besides, what better way to get the crowd into a frenzy than an unannounced Daly teeing it up during Sunday's singles matches? Hell, even Ian Poulter would smile at that. Maybe.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
News & Tours

Zach Johnson celebrates with the claret jug exactly how you'd expect him to celebrate

The claret jug has seen a little of everything over the years. But this might be the first time a husk of corn has entered golf's oldest major-championship trophy.

The beauty of winning golf's most prestigious trophy is getting to carry it around for a full year. The claret jug is golf's Stanley Cup. Various substances have entered the jug over the years. Greg Norman celebrated with champagne. Phil Mickelson would let members of clubs he was visiting drink bottles of wine or other top-shelf liquor out of it. Stewart Cink used it to baste a pork shoulder with BBQ sauce. And Rory McIlroy made headlines by drinking Jagermeister out if it last year.

rory-mcilroy-jager-0803.jpg

Even his mom got in on the action:

Related: An unauthorized history of Rory McIlroy and the claret jug

Two-time major champion Zach Johnson is a hawkeye through and through. Get him talking about the Iowa football team and you're right up his wheelhouse. He's the pride of Iowa.

So no surprise ZJ is using the claret jug to hold his corn. Pretty genius actually. And big ups for the originality. Just hope they clean up the butter.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Missing Links

John Daly, Ryder Cup captain? No chance, but 'if I was we'd have a blast'

Stories of interest you might have missed…

JDRyder.jpg

John Daly, Ryder Cup captain? He’s seems to be lobbying, according to this story by Phil Casey of Press Association, and concludes that U.S. failures happen because the players are too uptight. “Hopefully I would one day be a captain,” he said. “All I know is my team, if I was a captain, we'd have a blast. You don't want to wear a tie, don't wear a tie. Have fun. It's supposed to be fun.”

***

Even with Rory McIlroy injured, the subject of a rivalry with Jordan Spieth comes up, particularly given that Spieth could wrest from McIlroy the No. 1 spot in the World Ranking this week. “PGA Tour players remain fairly firm in their belief that McIlroy is the more talented player…But Spieth's knack for rising to the moment in the past three majors is hard to ignore,” Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN writes. “By the time McIlroy’s ankle is fully healed it's likely he'll find himself as the hunter instead of the hunted for the first time in a long time. The game of golf, though, may be even better for it.”

***

Is Tiger Woods done? It depends, James Corrigan of the Telegraph writes: “Now that he is fit again it is simple. If Woods wants it and does it properly there is at least one more chapter in this most captivating of sporting stories. Those are two very big ifs, however, and they get magnified which each and every passing failure.”

***

Instructor David Leadbetter was at Turnberry for the Women’s British Open last week, keeping an eye on Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko. “The former has won a major championship - last year’s US Women’s Open - and the latter, at the remarkably tender age of 17, was ranked the best female golfer on the planet. Clearly, Leadbetter’s teaching has no boundaries in terms of gender,” John Huggan of the Scotsman writes.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
News & Tours

Winner's Bag: What Troy Merritt used to win the Quicken Loans National

Troy Merritt not only won the Quicken Loans National, but he got Wilson Staff back in the winner’s circle. (Padraig Harrington also won earlier this year at the Honda Classic using a set of Wilson irons.) Merritt wielded the company’s FG Tour V4 irons. Merritt’s set makeup was a 2-iron that he put in the bag this week, no 3-iron, then 4-iron through pitching wedge. Merritt hit 80.56 percent of his greens at the Robert Trent Jones G.C. while the field averaged 71.32.

MerrittTroy.jpg
(Getty Images)

Merritt’s putter also warrants mention as he was 1.165 strokes gained/putting using a Yes! C-Groove Mollie Tour—a heel-shafted half-mallet reminiscent of Odyssey’s #9 model.

Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: TaylorMade R15 460, 9.5 degrees
3-wood: Callaway XR Pro, 14 degrees
Irons (2, 4-PW): Wilson FG Tour V4
Wedges: Wilson FG Tour (50, 54, 58 degrees)
Putter: Yes! C-Groove Mollie Tour

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
News & Tours

Tiger Woods sees progress in the status quo

Tiger Woods called his play on Sunday a mixed bag, which in another life meant he won with what he would describe as his C game. These days, a C game is all he has, average by anyone's definition.

It represents an improvement over his play in January, but not over the last two months. He played three good rounds, one poor one in the Quicken Loans National and was never really a factor on the weekend. Again.

TWNational.jpg
(Getty Images)

Still, he responded in the affirmative when asked whether he’s closer to putting four good rounds together. “Absolutely,” he said.

Based on what?

“Saturday, it was nice to be able to struggle but score,” he said. “That’s something I hadn’t been able to do. Yeah, did I slap it all over the place? I did, for the first seven holes. I was even par. That’s what I used to do. On the eighth hole, I drove it in the fairway. If I hit it on the green and make birdie here, all of a sudden I’m at nine (under par), I can turn the tide. But I turned it the wrong way.”

That’s progress as measured in 2015.

Woods opened with rounds of 68 and 66, to generate excitement among those searching for a sign of life in a career gone dormant. This wasn’t it. A three-over par 74 in the third round ended whatever bid he had in mind.

The mixed bag on Sunday to which he alluded featured five birdies in his first 10 holes that were followed by bogeys on three of his next four holes, one coming when he sput a wedge shot back off the green and into a water hazard.

Woods again called it “a process. I’ve said that many times. It’s a process of putting one foot in front of the other and building and building and eventually I’ll get to where I’m in contention week in and week out and eventually I’ll start winning golf tournaments again.”

The trouble with this assessment was that he played similarly at the Greenbrier Classic, scoring in the 60s in three of four rounds and tying for 32nd. He followed by missing the cut in the British Open.

Now he’s got yet another week off (he hasn’t played consecutive tournaments since the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Farmers Insurance Invitational early in the year) before the PGA Championship.

There are second acts in golf, of course, Jack Nicklaus producing the most notable, winning the Masters at age 46. If this is building toward one for Tiger, well, only he is aware of it.

At this point, all he has arguing in his defense is that he’s Tiger Woods. Great athletes are always capable of surprising us. What argues against him and speaks to how far he has fallen is that there was a time that nothing he did would have surprised us.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today