The Local Knowlege

My Usual Game

A visit to our enemy club, and Jimmy's brilliant idea

Our course was closed for the women’s 18-hole member-guest, so Addison, Rick, Other Gene, and I played a round at our enemy club, on the far side of town. We have a semi-reciprocal arrangement with them, and several of their holes have nice views of our state’s second largest natural lake, but I don’t love their course. 

enemyclub.jpg
For Addison, Rick, and me, the visit was partly a scouting mission for our upcoming annual two-day home-and-home match against ten of their guys, but we were happy to return to our own club the next day. Among many other reasons: we don’t necessarily have a rule against groups larger than foursomes.

sevensome.jpg
We also have highly a developed spirit of camaraderie. For example, here's Addison helping Hacker (real name) search for his second shot in the weeds to the right of the first green (where Addison sometimes hits his first shot):

hackeraddison.jpg
One day last summer, Peter A. brought Wayne, an acquaintance of his, as a guest. Wayne was on the golf team at a big university many years ago, but hadn’t played much since. He was so rusty that day that he actually missed his ball on his first attempt at a tee shot, but Barney said you could tell he was a player from the quality of his whiff. Afterward, at lunch -- hot dogs and hamburgers provided by one of the guys, and cooked on the grill in the executive parking lot, outside the men’s-room window -- Wayne asked if it was really true that our clubhouse doesn’t have a restaurant. When we said that it was, he said, “This is the club for me,” and joined. We don’t have a bar, either, unless you count the fridge in the men’s locker room and our two kegerators: 

beerpanorama.jpg
Last Sunday, for unknown reasons, one of the kegerators began serving a sort of accidental microbrew, which, if we had decided to market it, we might have called Old Warm & Flat. The guys decided to deal with it by drinking to the bottom of that keg as quickly as possible, and loading another:

fritzbeer.jpg
During lunch that day, Jimmy -- who is in his early twenties and, as a consequence, usually has trouble getting up early enough on Sunday to play golf with us in the morning -- had a truly brilliant idea. I realized as I was writing this that I can’t tell you, yet, exactly what his idea is, except to say that it involves these trees:

treesidea.jpg

... Read
Celebrity

Team USA (including a shirtless Bubba for some reason) the latest to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge

After being called out by captain Tom Watson on Tuesday, seven members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Wednesday. Here's the video, courtesy of the PGA.com (WARNING: the guy without a shirt on is Bubba Watson):

Rickie Fowler emceed the event and nominated teammates Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, who missed the festivities (Mickelson's caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay was in attendance and dumped the freezing water on Furyk), as well as the European team.

blog-usa-ice-bucket-0820.jpg

Related: Tiger's smart Ryder Cup decision and Lindsey Vonn shows off in the gym

That might be tricky since automatic qualifying hasn't ended for Europe yet. But when the team is finalized, we know its top player, Rory McIlroy, is excused. On Tuesday, the 25-year-old Northern Irishman did the challenge with pal Tiger Woods.

... Read
Business

PGA Fashion & Demo Experience and small, encouraging signs about health of game

LAS VEGAS — Small signs are welcome, even in a town where neon is king and lights the desert sky for miles. And golf no doubt is thankful for them, suggesting as they did, that the game is not dying after all, contrary to more than one headline of late.

PGA Fashion.jpg
(Photo courtesy of PGA Worldwide Golf Exhibitions/Lester)

The PGA Fashion & Demo Experience is wrapping up today at the Venetian here and Ed Several, senior vice president and general manager of PGA Golf Exhibitions, used the term “cautious optimism” to describe the state of the game based on a few positive indicators at the show.

For the first time, the show was limited exclusively to apparel and accessories, though equipment was available to demo on Monday at Cascata Golf Club in nearby Boulder, Nev. But the focus on apparel did not diminish the number of buyers (“we’re running about flat from a year ago,” Several said) or exhibitors, the latter, in fact, increasing from 187 to 194.

They include new companies and companies new to the golf business who are placing a bet on the growth of the game. Or, in the case of Wolsey, an iconic British brand that was founded in 1775 and has European Tour player Robert Rock on its endorsement staff, entering the U.S. golf market for the first time.

LazyJack Press, meanwhile, is a tie company formed in 2012 that successfully launched its initial collection in Barneys. It was exhibiting here in an effort to break into the golf market.

“I think there’s cautious optimism that golf is beginning to pervade from not just the links and the game side of it, but it’s starting to grow out into the lifestyle piece of it,” Several said. “A lot of manufacturers here are capturing that.”

The golf show was only one of several apparel shows running simultaneously in Las Vegas. “In the apparel world, just like the golf world invades Orlando in January, you’re in Las Vegas in August,” Several said. “The unique thing here is if I’m a golf shop owner, I get to see the world of fashion and yet buy within the golf realm. By being here you get an education in apparel like you’ve never heard before.”

In this environment, fashion prevailed. It was unfashionable only to denounce the future of a game that companies old and new apparently believe in.

... Read
News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Is Adam Scott your best bet at the Barclays?

We are down to the final four events of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, which means some golfer is about to walk away with a $10 million bonus and fantasy golfers still have time to make a little money of their own. The Barclays leads off the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and while Adam Scott won last year, Matt Kuchar feels more like the defending champ. Kuchar won this event in 2010, but that was the last year the tournament was played Ridgewood CC, this week's site. Kuchar is also returning from an odd Slip 'N Slide injury (no, really) leaving even more questions. Who are we pinning our FedEx Cup hopes on? Here's our weekly Yahoo! fantasy lineup:

The Grind: Lindsey Vonn makes us all look bad in the gym

Starters -- (A-List): Adam Scott. We probably would have used Kuchar, if not for that bizarre back injury. But hey, it's tough to ever go wrong when using Mr. Scott. The Aussie has finished in the top 15 in six straight events and 11 of 13 overall this season.

blog-adam-scott-barclays-0820.jpg

(B-List): Jason Day. Another Aussie who has played well in 2014 when he's teed it up, Day played in the final group at the PGA Championship on Saturday and finished T-5 at Ridgewood in 2010.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

(B-List): Bill Haas. Coming off a T-2 in Greensboro and still motivated -- and close -- to earning a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. But what about Rory McIlroy? We're passing on using him in this spot despite his three-tournament winning streak. Why? Because EVERYONE is picking him. We hope EVERYONE isn't right. . .

(C-List): Sergio Garcia. Had a disappointing PGA Championship, but had back-to-back runner-ups previously at the British Open and the Bridgestone Invitational. He also had a runner-up at Ridgewood in this event in 2008.

Bench/Backups: Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, and Ryan Palmer.

Related: The top 10 earners in FedEx Cup history

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Nick Watney. Unfortunately, we've used all the players above so we had to dig a little deeper here. Watney won this event in 2012 at Bethpage Black and has re-found his form of late with a T-5, a T-8 and a T-12 in the past month. Another big finish would certainly get the attention of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson. Watney said that there's been a bit of a learning process since becoming a dad in March. And thanks to Kuchar, Watney knows to be careful shopping for a Slip 'N Slide when the time comes.

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Doral), Tim Clark (Sony), Jason Day (Congressional), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Luke Donald (Valspar), Jason Dufner (Bridgestone), Rickie Fowler (Honda Classic), Jim Furyk (Heritage), Sergio Garcia (British Open), Bill Haas (Farmers), Charley Hoffman (Travelers), Billy Horschel (Zurich), Charles Howell III (Humana), Freddie Jacobson (Valero), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Zach Johnson (Colonial), Matt Kuchar (U.S. Open), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Hunter Mahan (Canadian), Graeme McDowell (Bay Hill), Rory McIlroy (PGA Championship -- WINNER!), Ryan Palmer (Memphis), Justin Rose (Memorial), Adam Scott (Masters), Webb Simpson (Wyndham), Jordan Spieth (Houston), Henrik Stenson (Players), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- WINNER!), Gary Woodland (Nelson).

... Read
News & Tours

What I wish I said on Fox Business

Yesterday I received the honor of appearing on Fox Business Network's Varney&Co, where I was interviewed by Stuart Varney for two minutes and 36 seconds.

Despite the comfy black car the studio sent, I was flustered for several reasons. First was waiting outside the wrong entrance in the noon sun -- my fault. Second was the makeup person telling me to go to the hair person, who told me there was nothing she could do, which could only be interpreted one of two ways. Third, when I finally got on set, Stuart asked if I was old enough to be on the show. I fumbled some mild retort, and then we segued into a lively discussion about golf. Cathartic to finally hear my lips speak the few points I had bottled in my head. But then I realized we weren't filming; this was just the commercial break before the interview when Stuart sizes you up.


The above clip is worth watching because Tiger Woods gives the most open and thoughtful interview he's given all year. After Tiger, I come on, and the banner underneath reads "Is There Hope for Golf?"

I sure wish I had a mulligan to answer that one. So here goes.

Who says golf needs hope? People whose central experience of the world comes from looking at data on computer screens don't always have reality pegged. We sometimes forget how useful it is to go outside and look around. Each time I've been out this summer -- and I'm sure most golfers can relate -- I've seen so many people playing, young and old, that I actually wished there were less people playing. Whenever I've procrastinated about making a teetime, it's been a pain to get out. I didn't get into two tournaments that were oversubscribed. When rounds are down, weather is usually the biggest factor. Just because a few companies aren't continuing to squeeze greater and greater profits, doesn't mean the sport needs to be "saved."

No one asks if there's hope for football or baseball. These sports are only for young men (Little League's Mo'ne Davis the fantastic exception), and usually only for a few years versus the lifetime that golf offers every person. Yet since these sports attract enough people to stay inside on the couch on weekends and be fed commercials, they're perceived as healthy.

This week the PGA Tour FedEx Cup kicks off at The Barclays, a four-tournament race that will award $67 million in prize money to pros. These same pros are also compensated, and handsomely, by equipment companies for the patches on their hats and sleeves. These companies make money by selling golf equipment to average people, so obviously there are quite a lot of people playing golf. 

Golf is among the most ubiquitous sports played and watched every weekend in America. It's thriving. Maybe not as much as projected two decades ago, and possibly slightly less than a few years ago, but nothing of this earth is meant to have perpetual, uninterrupted growth.

"But you need the spark, you need the star quality, you need someone who's like 'whoa, that guy is really, really good,'" Varney prodded.

Maybe not. Tiger Woods was certainly that person, but his magnetism only attracted more masses to watch golf, not play it.

Golf doesn't need hope. The game is a fun, maddening approximation of flight that will continue to lure addicts who value a challenge and large chunks of free time outdoors. The enormous concentration of capital presently tied up in the professional realm will filter down to the local golf course as needed. 

Adam Smith's invisible hand has a golf glove on it.  
 

... Read
News & Tours

You can pay to be Rickie Fowler's caddie for a day. Here's how

Do you like Rickie Fowler a lot? So much that you might even want to caddie for him one day? Ok, well, there's a way:

As part of an ongoing auction through CharityBuzz, people can place bids to caddie for Rickie during the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open Pro-Am. The auction ends on August 21, 2014, and so far, 17 offers have been placed with a bid of $9,500 leading the way. All the proceeds from the auction will go towards Creative Artists Agency School Day Auction to Benefit Communities in Schools and DonorsChoose.org, according to a spokesperson from CharityBuzz.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

It's a club with a joyful name. But will this putter make you happy?

Don't let the name fool you. The Happy Putter is rooted in some serious thought about what a putter could be.

Available online and shipping this month ($250), the putter takes its cue from the adjustable-driver movement, as well as tour players’ tendencies to tweak their putter specs based on course or stroke changes. Vikash Sanyal, CEO of parent company Brainchild Golf, believes the technology is more meaningful in putters than in drivers because the effects are more easily seen.


loop-happy-putters-back-518.jpg

"People understand the differences right away when they're playing shaggier Bermuda greens one day and bent greens another day, or they'll see right away that they're pulling all their putts to the left," says Sanyal, who was part of the original team at Odyssey Golf and later CEO of Never Compromise. "We're giving consumers access to something tour players have had forever."

loop-happy-putters-top-518.jpg

Available in either mallet or blade, the putter can be set to three lofts, three lie angles, three hosel offset positions and includes three sets of heel and toe weights. And if none of those changes works, the putter can be flipped over to work left-handed, too.



Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digestix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.

 

... Read
News & Tours

Missing Links: Phil Mickelson looking ahead...to 2015 and '16, and Bubba Watson's apology tour

Stories of interest you might have missed…

Phil Mickelson is looking ahead, not to the Barclays, not to the FedEx Cup playoffs, but to 2015. “Work on my fitness, work on my golf game and really focus on 2015. Because 2015 is when the points start accumulating really for the (2016) Olympics,” he said in this story by the Newark Star-Ledger’s Brendan Prunty.

Phil 2015.jpgBubba Watson is attempting to make amends for his boorish behavior at the PGA Championship. “After he said he acted like a child during the PGA Championship, Bubba Watson has been trying to man up ever since,” Steve Dimeglio writes in USA Today.

Ridgewood Country Club’s history began, more or less, when its assistant professional Byron Nelson, on a challenge, hit a flagpole on his second attempt. The year was 1935, the same year the Ryder Cup was played at the Paramus, N.J., club. Andy Vasquez of the Record looks at Ridgewood’s history, to which it will add by hosting the Barclays this week.

The LPGA is leaving the Rochester area, ending a 38-year run that has produced several send-offs. The New York Times has another. “The area is losing more than one tournament. It is losing almost four decades as a spot on the LPGA schedule,” writes Matt Higgins. The consensus opinion is that LPGA players hope to return one day.“Most cities we go through, they don’t even know we’re in town sometimes,” Brittany Lincicome added. “So this community really comes together and loves the LPGA, and I would love to come back.”

Is the spate of injuries that have plagued PGA Tour players of late just coincidence or is there more at play here? “The question you have to ask," U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson said, "is whether the workout ethic of players today is causing these injuries.” John Paul Newport of the Wall Street Journal has the story.

... Read
Health & Fitness

Turning fitness into a game

I was encouraged over this past weekend to see so many kids out on my local golf course. But what left a sour note was how many of them were riding in a golf cart. You can blame McDonald's, video games, poverty or poor parenting, but the undeniable fact is that children in the U.S. have gotten fatter and are less active. I realize that sounds like a sweeping generalization—and a harsh statement—but here is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say about it:

the-loop-fitness-kid-game-300.jpgIn 2012, 18 percent of kids six to 11 and 21 percent of kids 12 to 19 were obese. That's one out of every five kids you run into. Alarming doesn't quite describe the situation.

So what can be done about it? For starters, kids need to move more. If your child needs some motivation in this department, you might want to look into getting a new fitness board game called Flip2BFit. The concept is unique, simple and genius. While kids are playing this board game, they're asked to do simple exercises like crab crawls and squat thrusts in order to win. They're also given important information on nutrition. The game is the brainchild of Heather Parisi and has been endorsed by a number of parenting organizations. Cost is $35 and can be purchased at flip2bfit.com.


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

... Read
Style

Make the switch to spikeless golf shoes and you might not go back

I live in Manhattan, and toting my sticks on and off subway cars and in and out of cabs has turned into a real pain in the butt. In an effort to lighten my load I bought a small Sunday carry bag and tried my best to get rid of all the excess crap I'd accumulated over the last few months in my old bag. The change helped, and after discarding a banana peel, some scuffed golf balls, five of my six divot tools and a pair of boxers (don't ask) I was on the right track.

That said, the biggest loser ended up being my shoes. Whether I knotted the laces and slung them over my 3-wood, or stuffed my two FJ classics in the side pouch, my kicks were by far the heaviest piece of equipment I was hauling.

My options:
A. Carry a separate shoe bag. That didn't seem to make any sense as I maintained the weight and lost a free hand by carrying another bag.

B. Shelf the trusty classics and add a set of spikeless shoes I could wear to, from and, of course, at the golf course.

So, I picked up a pair of FJ Contour Casuals, and I've been wearing them all over all summer! They look and feel awesome. The full-grain leather and simple suede detailing mirror the minimalist designs coming out of some big-name sneaker companies. Meanwhile, they feel just as stable as my wood-soled classics on the course. I'll even wear 'em to the office if I'm gonna try and duck out early to play nine, and no one seems to be the wiser.

These types of soft, spikeless shoes are all over the tours and have started taking over a sizeable section of the classic golf-shoe market for good reason.

Here are six sweet hybrid hook-ups to check out.


FJ Contour Casual, $115
Golfsmith.com

loop-FJ-Contour-Casual-518.jpg

True Linkswear True Oxford, $100
truelinkswear.com

loop-True-Linkswear-True-Oxford-518.jpg Ecco Street Retro, $140
ecco.com

loop-Ecco-Street-Retro-518.jpg

G Fore Patent Leather, $265
gfore.com

loop-Gfore-518.jpg

Kikkor Micro Print, $120
kikkor.com

loop-Kikkor-Red-Micro-Print-518.jpg

Nike Lunarlon, $100
nike.com


loop-Nike-Lunarlon-518.jpg


... Read
Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today