The Local Knowlege

Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Get a head start on your golf season

As the weather gets warmer and golfers return to the lesson tee, instructors often face two problems:

1. Having to remind students how to swing the club properly.
2. Dealing with  students who aren't physically fit enough to swing the club properly.

inar01-winter-workout-intro-300.jpg"You can't deal with problem No. 1 until you fix problem No. 2," says Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear). Ben recently worked with noted golf instructor Darrell Kestner on an article that appears in our February issue tackling this annual dilemma. In the article they address common early-season swing issues and how they can be overcome in the gym. The two often work together at the Golf & Body (@GolfBodyNYC) fitness center in Manhattan.

The good news is that if you follow their workout plan, your swing will be much sharper when the ground thaws this spring. The bad news? You can no longer use the excuse of being rusty.

Click here to read the article, "Sweat Equity: Winter Workout."

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photo by David Brandon Geeting) ... Read
News & Tours

This is how it went for Tiger: He 'shot his age...on the front nine'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The best that can be said of Tiger Woods’ inaugural competitive round of 2015 is, what, that it’s over? That no one was hurt?

Really, no one knew what to expect from Woods, but no one expected this, even in his first PGA Tour start since August. His score of two-over par 73 in his first appearance in the Waste Management Phoenix Open since 2001 doesn’t reflect how unattractive it was at times.


Two days earlier, Woods, plagued by chipping woes at the Hero World Challenge he hosted in December, said “he hit thousands upon thousands upon thousands of chip,” to get his short-game move synced with his full swing.

“And now it’s better.”

No, it’s not.

He muffed several chips, including one he bladed over the green at the ninth hole. On two occasions, he chose to use putter from well off the green — a concession that a man who once had as good a short game as anyone in golf was not trusting it.

“I’m just having a hard time finding the bottom,” he said. “Because of my old pattern, I was so steep on it, that I have a new grind on my wedge and sometimes it’s hard to trust.”

Woods went out in four-over par 39, prompting one media wag to Tweet that he “shot his age…on the front nine.” Another bogey at 11 put him at five-over par.

By the numbers, Tiger hit five of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens in regulation.

On the up side, he seems to have recovered some of the speed he had lost in recent years, as he said he had. At the 13th hole, his swing speed was clocked at 121.465 miles per hour. Last year, Bubba Watson led the tour with a swing speed of 123.7 mph. On the par-4 17th hole, Woods drove the green, 341 yards.

“I’m ahead of schedule on my speed,” he said. “Look how far I’m hitting it now. I’ve just got to get committed to hitting the club less sometimes. That’s the hard part. I bailed out on a couple of shots because I just don’t believe I have that much speed on my body yet. But I do.”

As for the raucous 16th hole, Woods was cheered wildly when he emerged from the tunnel and into the stadium, but he was booed as he addressed the ball and was forced to back off. When a fan yelled “tooth” as he re-addressed the ball, he backed off again. He made par there, hit his best tee shot of the day at 17 and closed with a routine par at 18.

“Mentally, I’m a little tired from the grind of trying to piece together a round when I was five-over par,” Woods said, “but I fought back to give myself a decent look going into the weekend.”

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News & Tours

7 instagrams from the crowd during Day 1 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open

The crowd at the Phoenix Open is notorious for creating a loud, fun-loving atmosphere. It's a nice change of pace from the rest of the season, so in its honor, we decided so curate Instagram for some of the crowd's best pictures from Thursday at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open:

I have a sickness #greensetshow #16 #phoenixsuns #bigassfoamhats

A photo posted by Grant Kingdon (@grant_kingdon) on

Tiger is so cute I could pinch him!!! #wmphoenixopen #phoenixopen #wastemanagement #16hole #millercoors

A photo posted by k e n d a l l k a y (@kzilka) on

Left over from the Phoenix open #golf #phoenixopen #ericnugent

A photo posted by Tim Hansen (@willc0de4food) on

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News & Tours

Keegan Bradley plays an incredible amount of golf, even for a tour player

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Keegan Bradley has two passions: golf and more golf.

For the first time in his career, he scheduled himself an off-season. “I made an effort to have some time off where I could really relax,” he said.

(Getty Images)

Here is how he relaxed: “I played golf every day. Pretty much seven days. An off day for me would be no practice. Just playing. So I get together with my buddies and go play a game out on the course. That to me is a day off. If I’m going to go practice and work out, I’ll do a lot of short game, hitting balls, stuff like that.

“But this off-season I played a ton, and then once the season started to get closer I would practice a little more. Wouldn’t play 36 a day. Played 18 and practice, something like that.”

When Bradley does return to work, he does so with a vengeance. “I love playing,” he said. “When I look at my schedule I can’t pick a tournament that I don’t want to play. I love them all. It’s very difficult for me to take tournaments away from my schedule, because I want to be out here playing and competing. I think that’s part of who I am and what makes me keep going.”

Rust, incidentally, has few opportunities to settle in. That would explain the six-under par 65 he shot in the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead.

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News & Tours

Will rain foil Phoenix Open's bid for record crowds?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tiger Woods in the field in concert with the Super Bowl in town have been expected to deliver record attendance figures for the Waste Management Phoenix Open this week, weather permitting.

Records might still fall anyway, but the weather does not look as though it will cooperate.

Fourth Hole.jpg

Friday’s forecast, according to PGA Tour meteorologist Wade Stettner, is “mostly cloudy with periods of rain throughout the day. Total rainfall around half inch.”

Saturday’s forecast is for more of the same: “Mostly cloudy with a 60 percent chance of showers before noon, then decreasing chances for showers in the afternoon.”

Wednesday’s crowd — announced at 75,380 — provided a clue of what to expect. It exceeded by more than 12,000 the record for a Phoenix Open Wednesday, pro-am day. The stadium that surrounds the 16th hole was full at one point, which might have been a Wednesday first.

The crowd for the first round on Thursday, boosted surely by Woods’ return to the Phoenix Open for the first time since 2001, was huge and is expected to exceed the Thursday record of 88,113 set last year. The photo above shows the crowd around the fourth green, following Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan.

Upwards of 200,000 originally were expected on Saturday. The record, set last year, is 189,722. The record for weekly total is 563,008, also established in 2014.

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Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Remembering a pair of Golf Digest/Golf World contributors

Earlier this month, remembered the noted golf personalities who passed away in 2014 with its "farewells" tribute. But it unintentionally missed two names of people who not only meant a lot to golf media but to the Golf Digest/Golf World family as well. It is appropriate to give them proper appreciation now, not only for their body of work but because you never like to ignore family at times of remembrance.

I never met Ron Coffman and David Harbaugh, but I knew of them when their writing and cartoon work, respectively, were part of the golf mainstream. I eventually, and unknowingly, shared a career path with the former and got to work with the other on his art assignments.

loop-coffman-350.jpgCoffman was 78 when he died Dec. 8 in Southern Pines, N.C. He was hired by Golf World in 1965 at age 28 and except for a two-year stretch when he worked for the PGA Tour in the early 1970s, he stayed with the magazine as managing editor until it was purchased/joined with Golf Digest in 1989 and relocated to Connecticut from Southern Pines. His golf prowess was impressive—he won the Golf Writers Association of America tournament twice; once birdied all four par-3 holes in a round; claimed club championships; made an ace—but the writing and leadership he shared with Dick Taylor helped drive Golf World for more than two decades. In his latter years as a Golf World writer, he would occasionally write a "But You're Wrong" column to zap someone or some thing for an injustice that annoyed him.

I never crossed paths with Coffman, but I feel I should have given how his life story before he went to Golf World in 1965 was similar to my own. We were both born in Bloomington, Ill., attended Illinois State University, worked as sports writers for The Pantagraph of Bloomington (it was the Daily Pantagraph then), and moved out of our hometown in our 20s to get into golf journalism full-time. We even have the same middle name, Lee. Quite a strange coincidence for a pair of central Illinois golf journalists born 23 years apart. If I had met him we would have certainly shared stories about how our gruff sports editor at the paper, Jim Barnhart, made a lasting impression on us, and how much the golf scene in our hometown helped foster our love of the game.

loop-harbaugh-cartoon-350.jpgHarbaugh, who died Jan. 19, 2014 at age 85, could safely be described as a minimalist cartoonist. His golf cartoons were quite basic, with usually a subject or two drawn in unadorned backgrounds with very little shading. But that simple structure certainly must have helped the marriage between the one-liner caption and the image; they worked so beautifully together that one quick glance back and forth produced a split-second laugh. Golf Digest readers had a great connection to the Harbaugh style and tone. His work first appeared in Golf Digest in the late 1950s, and he had a stretch of more than 20 years in which each issue of Golf Digest ended with a Harbaugh cartoon on the Rub of the Grin page, usually paired with a Dick Emmons poem. You can find some of his work here along with the "self-portrait" in the cartoon above (that's him on the right).

A few years ago in my final phone call with Harbaugh, we talked about how his humor secret was not complicated: He made fun of the duffer in all of us, with so many goofy moments to pick from, ranging from the harried businessman to the nagging spouse to our inept games on display in a regular foursome. The potential material was endless. But it wouldn't have been successful if not for the expressions of his characters, brought out so well by not overcomplicating the overall appearance.

Harbaugh could run regularly in Golf Digest because he was a prolific idea man and was motivated by the enjoyment he got out of making people laugh. He sent packets into the magazine office with a couple dozen submittals at a time, with hardly a weak one in the bunch, mainly because he based his humor in truth and didn't strain believability. The magazine could run a couple Harbaughs at a time because replacements came in at a high volume, which is amazing since Golf Digest wasn't his only gig. He appeared in several other publications, including Tennis Magazine, Field & Stream, the Wall Street Journal and Tire Business magazine. He did all this over a 42-year career while also working as an industrial exhibit designer, all of which came after serving in the U.S. Navy.

A military man who helped golfers overcome the fear of laughing at themselves. Certainly a legacy to appreciate.

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News & Tours

Ryan Palmer is giving people free beer at the Phoenix Open in the coolest way possible

How can you not love the Phoenix Open? Before his tee time on Thursday, Ryan Palmer tweeted this picture of his plan to distribute 12 signed golf balls/$10 bills for the crowd on the 16th hole. 

He did need to clarify one thing first, though.

Considering how the PGA Tour's fun police banned the throwing of all objects into the crowd this year, it'll be interesting to see how Palmer pulls this one off. Palmer tees off at 12:43 pm on the back nine, so we'll keep you updated once he gets to the 16th hole.

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One amateur stole the show at TPC Scottsdale's 16th hole by making an ace

A lot of focus will be on TPC Scottsdale's famed par-3 16th as the Waste Management Phoenix Open gets underway on Thursday. But no pro in the tournament this week will be able to top what one amateur did in Wednesday's pro-am.

Related: Did Tiger Woods blade this bunker shot into the crowd on purpose?

Playing in a group with PGA Tour winner Kevin Na, Dave Wood stepped up an knocked a pitching wedge from 147 yards into the hole, sending the huge crowd into a frenzy. Check it out:

Apparently, Wood has pretty good length off the tee -- and fantastic timing. He told ESPN's Michael Collins that it was his first hole-in-one.

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News & Tours

Watch Jason Day hit a drone out of the sky with a golf ball

Commercials featuring tour pros hitting ridiculous shots never cease to be amazing, because the pros never cease hitting amazing shots. In the latest edition, adidas asks Jason Day to hit its new energy boost foam, a new material in its shoes, with a golf ball -- while it's suspended in the air by a drone. Needless to say, he did.

The full video: 

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Gear & Equipment

Chances are you don't hit your clubs quite as far as you say you do

We all know recreational golfers who, out of ego or ignorance, embellish their skills on occasion. (OK, maybe more like on regular occasion.) Save for a purposeful eye roll, it's difficult to challenge them given a lack of objective data.

Enter GAME Golf, which debuted its stat-tracking/GPS technology in 2013, creating sensors that golfers attach to their clubs that help calculate the true distances they hit the ball with each one. The company markets its device as a way for golfers to "be right" with their club selection by knowing how far they really hit their woods, irons and wedges, improving their course management.

In 2014, GAME Golf users played more than 170,000 rounds. At the end of the year the company aggregated these statistics to offers a look at how "skillful" regular golfers actually are. Not surprisingly it varies greatly, depending on skill level.

For instance, take GAME Golf users who shot average scores between 75-80. Breaking down topline stats from these golfers, the company found their average driving distance of 235 yards, found the fairway off the tee 51 percent of the time and hit 52 percent of their greens in regulation.

For golfers who averaged scores between 90-95, their stats aren't quite as solid. These players had an average driving distance of just 196 yards. Their fairways hit number was lower, but not drastically so, down to 43 percent. But where their significant difference was in ball-striking as their GIR mark was just 23 percent.

By basis of comparison, Graeme McDowell, a GAME Golf endorser uploaded, used the technology to track his game. Based on rounds he uploaded, McDowell averaged 270 yards off the tee, hit 77 percent of fairways and 72 percent of greens in regulation.

Meanwhile, using ShotLink data for the entire PGA Tour in 2013-14, the average drive on tour last season was 281.6 yards, the average fairways hit for players was 61.3 percent and the average GIR was 64.08 percent.

GAME Golf GAME Golf PGA Tour pros

75-80 shooters 90-95 shooters ShotLink stats
Average driving distance 235 yards
196 yards
281.6 yards
Fairways hit 51%
43% 61.3%
Greens In Regulation 52% 23% 64.08%

So, the next time the 15-handicapper in your foursome boasts about the 260 yards he averages off the tee, feel free to give him more than an eye roll.

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.


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