The Local Knowlege

Gear & Equipment

Move over Shot Tracker. Here's an app that lets you map out your round like a tour pro

By Brendan Mohler

With numerous apps on the market designed to help you navigate the golf course, discerning one from another can be difficult. The new entry from Hole19 could add to the confusion, or it could make things easier thanks to its cool look and simple operation.

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In addition to giving GPS yardages, the Hole19 app maps each shot you play, creating a graphic record similar to the PGA Tour's Shot Tracker (see larger below). The app uses map services to portray a satellite view of each hole, giving you a vivid picture of the dangers that lurk on the course. It can calculate your stats (GIR, fairways, etc.) to pinpoint areas for improvement.

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Best of all is the price: It's free in the iTunes app store, and each course is free to download.
 
Follow @brendanmohlerGW

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My Usual Game

Mean weather and the value of a shank-in-one

By David Owen

On the day after Income Tax Day, the weather in the Northeast turned vindictive, and my golf course -- which had been back in operation for less than a week -- disappeared under two inches of snow and ice. I had to travel that day, so I couldn’t have played anyway, but I still felt bullied. 

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The weather is going to have to win my trust back one day at a time, beginning this afternoon (assuming I can finish a couple of things I’m supposed to be working on). Still, I have less reason to be upset than Mike Reilly, a reader and a member of the World’s Second-Best Golf Club, whose first trip to the Masters, on practice-round Monday, was rained out after two hours. “Their rain-out policy is ‘better luck next year,’ he wrote from a motel room in Augusta (the club offered refunds). “I understand why it is that way, but that was a long way to drive to watch eight guys tee off No. 1.”

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While the weather was misbehaving, several of my friends conducted an email debate about the Sunday Morning Group’s hole-in-one policy, which Hacker (real name) implemented a couple of years ago. We collect $15 a man on Sundays, and three of those dollars go into the S.M.G. Slush Fund, with which we pay for things like community service, international relief efforts, and bottle openers. The Slush Fund also underwrites the S.M.G. hole-in-one prize, which is $500 if the hole-in-one occurs during our regular Sunday game, and $250 if it occurs during a sanctioned S.M.G. event on a different day or time. (A sanctioned event is any round of golf that the whole group knows about in advance, including the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday versions of our regular Sunday game.)

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No one has ever won the $500 prize, and only Reese has won the $250 prize (which he spent on drinks for everyone -- see photo above). That means that, by now, the hole-in-one prize is probably over-endowed, at least in theory. David W. asked whether a hole-in-one on our ninth hole (a short par 4, which long hitters occasionally reach from the tee) would count. The answer to that one was yes, of course. Then Fritz asked about holing out on No. 2 (a par 4) with your tee shot on No. 7 (a par 3). The second green is slightly closer to the seventh tee than the seventh green is, although the shot is probably tougher, because there are pine trees in the way. Addison said he thought the shot ought to count as long as it was a genuine shank. In other words, you can’t just aim for it. Further study.

Meanwhile, the wind on Monday was so strong that it peeled the moss right off a stump: 

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It also sent Hacker's pushcart rolling into a bunker and tipped it over. (Maybe there should be a prize for that, too.)

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News & Tours

European Tour player attacked by hornets, jumps in a lake to get away, but makes birdie anyway

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

Pablo Larrazabal was walking down the 5th hole on Friday when a pack of traveling hornets swooped across the fairway and started attacking him. It was all pretty funny at first . . . until the hornets wouldn't go away.

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It got so bad that Larrazabal had to jump in a lake to escape. Luckily, hornets don't like water, so the plan worked like a charm.

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The tour's medics were worried about him playing on, but Larrazabal insisted he was fine. His pants still soaking but donning a new shirt, he knocked his second shot to about 12 feet and made the putt. He went on to shoot a four-under 68, leaving him T-25 after 36 holes.

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You can check out the full video here.

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Paulina demos six golf exercises

fitness-friday-paulina-workout.jpgBy Ron Kaspriske

In all sincerity, we want you to be fit. We want you to eat right, exercise, sleep well and be of sound mind. Why? Because we’re all in this together. Just like you, we still want to be playing golf 20, 30, 50 years from now. That's why in the May issue of Golf Digest we devoted 20 pages to how get golf fit. You might have noticed the attractive blonde on the diving board. That’s Paulina Gretzky, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s daughter. She’s also PGA Tour winner Dustin Johnson’s fiancee. We asked her to demonstrate some great exercises intended to help you play better and get fitter. The moves are provided by one of the PGA Tour’s top trainers, Joey Diovisalvi (@coachjoeyd), and are intended to be added to your exercise program. Click on the link below to see them.

6 Moves To Lower Scores (with Paulina Gretzky)

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.



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Style

Impact: Ian Baker-Finch's four-legged prize for winning a Japan PGA Tour event

By Alex Holmes

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"I felt like I was walking naked, like the grass was taller than me. I tried to walk with my head high. It was really hard." -- Ian Baker-Finch


On April 17, 1988 -- before both his best and worst days as a golfer -- Baker-Finch won the Bridgestone Aso Open in Aso, Japan. It was his third career victory on the Japan PGA Tour, and he earned more than 7 million yen (approximately $54k) in prize money.

That wasn't, however, all Baker-Finch "received" for his victory. The town of Aso, operating as one of Japan's largest dairy producing regions at the time, gifted the golfer a cow as well.

Baker-Finch graciously sold the cow back to the sponsors.   
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News & Tours

9 things worth knowing about round one of the 2014 RBC Heritage

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Matt Kuchar has finished T-4, second and T-5 in his last three starts, and now he's back near the top of the leader board at the RBC Heritage. On a windy-day, he opened with his lowest-ever round at the Heritage. "I would not expect to shoot my low round at tournament competition on a day like this," he said.

One of the men who Kuchar shared the 18-hole lead with was William McGirt (Scott Langley was the other). That curly-fro of his hasn't been in contention since the Northern Trust Open in February. "Harbour Town and I have a love-hate relationship," he said. "My first two years here was a lot of hate on my part, but I'm starting to like it."

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A week after hitting 52 of 72 Greens In Regulation at his first Masters, Billy Horschel hit almost 80 percent of the the tiny greens at Harbour Town. His two-under 69 left him T-5. "I'm in a great groove right now," he said.

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Away from the top of the leader board, Boo Weekley wore a camouflage Under Armor shirt and rain pants on Thursday, even though it was warm and sunny all day. The two-time Heritage champ shot a two-over 73, leaving him six-strokes back of leader Matt Kuchar after the first round. 

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The weather at Harbour Town was glorious on Thursday, but it's not supposed to stay that way. The forecast is calling for rain and wind tomorrow, with potential for more rain over the weekend. "I still think the winning score even with the weather is probably going to get somewhere around 10 to 12 [under]," Will McGirt said.

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The 10th tee starter at the RBC heritage had some trouble with names on Thursday. A group after announcing South African Charl Schwartzel from "Blair Atholl, South Carolina" (in fairness, he did correct himself), he called Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano "Fernando-Castano."

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Jordan Spieth and Tom Watson played together in the first round of the RBC Heritage, shooting 69 and 75, respectively. Earlier this week, Watson said one of the reasons he was playing was to do some Ryder Cup scouting. With that in mind, he and Spieth were loving-it-up all day. "We had a great time," Spieth said. "Talking with him is priceless."

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This was K.J. Choi's first week using a yellow golf ball -- he used the Srixon Z-Star Tour Yellow en-route to a first round 70. "Yellow is better," Choi said, "I can see it better when I hit it."

choi-ball-518.jpgNick Faldo shot an opening-round 77, then faced a Twitter rant from a Web.com Tour player who has definitely not won six majors (or, incidentally a Heritage title, which would have given him the option of playing this week, even if he was 56).


Bonus:

Ben Crane still has a very powerful mustache, which first appeared in all its glory during the Valspar Championship. Its powers, though, must be limited to off the golf course. He opened with a five-over 76 on Thursday.

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One more look.

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Courses & Travel

On National High Five Day, celebrating the subtle art of the golf high five

By Sam Weinman

In golf, we love the high five. Sure, we now have the fist pump, and the forearm bash, and if you're Jason Dufner, you might even get away with the occasional butt squeeze. But when all of those run their course? Mark our words: We'll be back to the high five. 

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"That cop let you off with just a warning? High five! Oh, and nice putt."

In golf, the high five is kind of like the wooden tee. There will always be something newer and purportedly cooler to try to replace it. But nothing ever lasts.

Golf high fives come in all shapes and sizes. Some are subtle. Some are emphatic. Many are painfully awkward. And today being National High Five Day (yes, it's an actual day -- shame on you for not getting us a card), we figured there's no better time to celebrate the many ways they surface on the golf course.

Naturally, the most common use of the high five in golf is the "You just made a big putt and I'm pretending to be happy for you" high five.

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A close second would be the "Hey, look, we're wearing the same shirt!" high five.

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Once in a while, though, five just won't do.

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Baby high fives are always cool.

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But not quite as cool as "I just chipped in at the Masters" high five.

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The only thing that would be cooler is a "I just holed out for double eagle" high five. 

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But only if you make contact. 

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When you miss? Not as cool.


(Photos by Getty Images)

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Five minutes with Billy Horschel makes you realize how good he's hitting the ball right now

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Billy Horschel shot an opening round 69 at the RBC Heritage on Thursday. Two-under isn't really a special score in itself, but it's the way he did it that makes it special.

If you've been following Billy Horschel in recent weeks, you'll realize that he hit 52 of 72 Greens In Regulation at his first Masters last week -- second only to Jordan Spieth -- and still only mustered a T-37 finish.

Related: Swing Sequence: Billy Horschel

His superb ball-striking continued into the first round at the RBC Heritage, hitting almost 78 percent of his greens. Considering the person with the highest GIR percentage on tour hits 72 percent of his greens, that's obviously impressive, but it's only when you hear him talk about it do you realize how good that actually is.

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Here's a selection from his press conference after the Thursday's round. Notice how easily he rattles through his round, quickly listing his birdie chances without ever missing a beat. In retrospect, he should have probably shot in the low 60s:

"I birdied 2, par-5. . .birdied 4, hit it to about 18 feet and made it, maybe 20 feet. Had an opportunity for birdie -- just slipped out birdie at 5. . . 

"Hit it to a foot on No. 9. 10 I had it to about ten feet and missed it. 11 left it dead center short. 12 I hit it about 25 feet on the green, and somehow the ball didn't go into the hole. Did a 360 on me. Birdied the next hole, 13, especially going into 14. Hit it to about eight feet there and made the putt.

"Good par on 14 and 15. Hit it to six feet on 16 and missed it. I think the wind pushed it out of the hole. Made a good one on No. 17 from about, probably 20 feet. And then the last one I hit a good putt right where I wanted, just didn't move."

Just your average, podunk, two-under 69. 

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News & Tours

‘Faldo…REALLY??? Get back in the booth’

By John Strege

Nostalgia was involved in Nick Faldo’s decision to play in the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, S.C., site of his first PGA Tour victory 30 years ago.

Yet it was not a decision favorably received in all quarters. Josh Broadaway, a veteran of the Web.com Tour, criticized the decision in a series of Tweets:

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-- “Faldo...REALLY??? Get back in the booth and give the guys a chance to play that are trying to keep their job!! #STEWPID”

-- “Nick Faldo +3 thru 5.....does anybody know where his shots fall?? And how many guys are competing in the net division?? #CmonMan"

-- “my point is dont take a spot from a guy that needs to be playing. The first 5 alts aren't making a million to broadcast the wknd”

Faldo, who shot a 76, was in the field as a past champion of the Heritage. “This was the first event I won in America, so I thought that would be pretty cool,” he said Wednesday, explaining why he was playing. “And I thought Hilton Head is in theory perfect for me. It's through the trees. It's dead flat. I pick the flat courses now, because I've got dodgy ankles. So I thought, why not? It comes off after the Masters. It's a good run. I'm just trying to squeeze one in.”

Faldo, 56, last made a cut on the PGA Tour at the Bay Hill Invitational in 2006, though he withdrew after the third round. He won’t make the cut in Hilton Head, enabling him to work the CBS telecast on the weekend.

Broadaway, meanwhile, was making an old argument, that players who have no chance to contend or even make the cut deprive younger players starts that conceivably could help make their seasons.

One such player mentioned by Broadaway was Hudson Swafford, who was the first alternate at Harbour Town and is 137th on the money list. Swafford did not get into the tournament.

“so if @Hud_swafford finishes 126 on the MList he prob won't be mad he missed this week so Mr Faldo could celebrate his 1st W?” Broadaway posted.

It is an old argument, to which there is an old counterpoint. Play better and getting tournament starts won’t be an issue.

(Getty Images photo)

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Celebrity

Check out this photo of two Babes kissing on the golf course (It's not what you think)

By Alex Myers

What to make of this picture of Babe Ruth and Babe Zaharias kissing before a charity golf tournament?

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Let's break it down:

-- First, some background. Zaharias, who was married to wrestler George Zaharias, and Ruth, who was married to actress and model Claire Merritt Hodgson, were not an item. This was a friendly kiss that occurred at Babe Ruth's Cancer Fund Golf Tournament in Miami on February 29, 1948. Sadly, the Yankees legend would die of cancer less than six months later.

Related: Babe Ruth: the Sultan of Swat and the King of celebrity golf

-- Onto more happier things, it's a picture of Babe Ruth and Babe Zaharias, arguably the greatest male and female athletes ever! Ruth re-wrote baseball record books and was a celebrity golf pioneer. Zaharias won 10 major championships as a golfer and two Olympic gold medals in track and field.

-- Babe Ruth's golf shirt is awesome. It's literally a Hawaiian shirt, listing places within in the state and showing people surfing and swimming. I want one.

-- Is that Raymond Floyd behind Ruth's right arm?

Here's another pic from that day:

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-- Love Babe Ruth putting with a cigar hanging from his mouth. Not even Miguel Angel Jimenez pulls off that look as well.

-- Love Babe Zaharias being so excited about the other Babe's putt.

Related: Why was Michael Jordan chasing Sergio Garcia at St. Andrews?

-- Love how everyone seems to be watching intently where that ball is going -- except for the younger golfer (identified as University of Miami golfer Al Besselink) behind Zaharias. What is he looking at?! It's Babe Ruth putting! Show some respect!

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