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Game improvement: Bring on the rain with this waterproof bucket

By Alex Holmes

No matter who you are, chances are you've got some gear in your game that could use an update. While we don't advise retooling everything at once, trading up a few staples at a time is the ticket to solid style. Each week we'll pull a dud from the dark depths of every man's collection and suggest a simple substitute. Check your nostalgia at the door -- it's time for your tune up.


After such a long, brutal winter we're not about to let a few April showers keep us off the course. Yet while the market is a plenty with rain gear from manufacturers A to Z, the inclement headgear game is a little soft. Sure, you'll find buckets hats from classic golf brands but big logos and chin drawstrings make the look a bit limited (i.e fine around the course but look a little strange on the street on a rainy workday).

So, as we endeavor to slim down your wardrobe and give you pieces that look good on and off the course, might we suggest a hat made by a hat company? A hat company steeped in style and tradition and made in Italy for over the last 150 years.
loop-game-improvement-borsalino-hat-518.jpgBorsalino -- $105
borsalino.com

The simple, sophisticated Borslino rain bucket is 100 percent waterproof and rolls up smaller than a hand towel. Stick it in your bag or your brief case if the weather looks dicey and get on your way in style.  
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News & Tours

The Zurich Classic and its impact on the community

By John Strege

The charitable funds raised on behalf of local communities from their associations with PGA Tour events is substantial, as the tour frequently reminds us — $2 billion and counting. What generally is less known is the actual impact these funds can have.

Another Zurich Classic of New Orleans begins today, in the city that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a regional disaster with national implications. On Wednesday, Zurich and its Z Zurich Foundation provided a timely example of the impact.

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(Getty Images photo)

It announced that it had made a $3 million grant to St. Bernard Project, a non-profit organization that assists with communities impacted by disasters. The grant is to help create a Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lab for the purpose of sharing information on disaster preparedness.

Zurich’s relationship with the St. Bernard Project, incidentally, began five years ago as a result of its title sponsorship of the PGA Tour event.

The tournament was important, say, to Billy Horschel’s career. Horschel (shown above) won for the first time on the PGA Tour in the tournament last year. But, on a larger scale, it has proven at least as important to communities, too.

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News & Tours

On her 17th birthday, Lydia Ko features on Time's 100 Most Influential People list

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

She's been called a phenom, a prodigy, and now, by Time magazine, a pioneer.

In its annual list of the world's Top 100 Most Influential People, released Thursday, Lydia Ko featured as one of just five athletes -- and the only professional golfer -- on the list. Jason Collins, Richard Sherman, Serena Williams and Cristiano Ronaldo were the other athletes honored. Ko now joins a short but prestigious group of LPGA golfers to make the list, which includes the likes of Michelle Wie, Yani Tseng, Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam.

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"She's leading golf’s youth movement," says Annika Sorenstam, who wrote the item on Ko. "She is responsible for sparking increased interest in our sport not just in her native South Korea and adopted homeland of New Zealand but also among juniors across the globe."

Related: My Shot: Lydia Ko

Ko, who coincidentally turned 17 on the same day the list was released, rocketed into the spotlight after consecutive wins as an amateur at the LPGA's CN Canadian Women's Open in 2012 and 2013. A month before turning pro last October, Ko also finished T-2 in the 2013 Evian Championship -- the final major of the 2013 LPGA season.

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Travel

Unofficial Guide: Po' boy sandwiches, hurricane drinks and partying in the streets of New Orleans

By Matthew Rudy

New Orleans' French Quarter is something everybody should see at least once. They've been partying in these streets since the late 18th Century, and you'll lose your tourist card if you don't reserve a couple of hours for a stroll and a hurricane (rum, passion fruit juice, orange juice, lime juice, simple syrup and grenadine) from Pat O'Brien's on Bourbon Street.

But to get the full New Orleans experience, get out of the quarter and visit three places where you'll by outnumbered by locals 10 to 1.

The po' boy sandwich is synonymous with New Orleans, but the version served in many restaurants is homogenized by "French" bread and machine-processed shrimp or beef. Have the sandwich the way it was intended -- with fresh New Orleans French bread and crispy fried shrimp or simmered roast beef dressed with lettuce, pickles and mayo. Why contribute to the shrimp-vs.-beef argument when you can try both? 

The Parkway Bakery and Tavern has operated in the same rugged neighborhood northwest of the Quarter since 1911. It used to feed the workers at the American Can Company. Now, locals line up for the large fried shrimp sandwich, chili and turkey & alligator sausage gumbo. Take your sandwich and Abita lager and sit at one of the picnic tables on the patio. 

South of the Quarter, near the U-shaped bend in the Mississippi River, is Domilise's -- another po' boy institution. Set in a little shack with a small, hand-painted sign, it looks like a place you'd never go into by yourself. Swallow your fear and be rewarded with giant, no-frills beef, shrimp and sausage sandwiches heartily endorsed by noted calorie-counter Mario Batali just last weekend. 

Take a number, order from the board and take your sandwich and root beer to go in the likely event there aren't any open tables. Don't bother to order the small sandwich. The larges are a few bucks more and almost double the size. Get two different kinds and share with a friend.  

The Tour players will be teeing it up at TPC Lousiana in suburban Avondale, a lovely, orderly track through the wetlands designed by Pete Dye with help from Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson. For golf with a lot more charm and soul, take the St. Charles Line streetcar to Audubon Park and play its historic par-62 course, built just after the 1884 World's Fair was held on the site. For $35, you can zip around in three hours and have plenty of time to explore the rest of the day. 

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Equipment

Golf Datatech: Iron sales stay positive in March

GDHLSummit.irons1.jpg
By Mike Stachura

The first batch of the March retail reports from golf industry research firm Golf Datatech are out, and while the numbers for golf balls and metalwoods reflect the sluggish start to the traditional golf season across much of the U.S., the numbers for the most expensive single purchase a golfer makes, a set of irons, continue to be strong.

According to the just-released Golf Datatech figures, sales of irons in March at on- and off-course shops were up 9.3 percent in units and 10.5 percent in dollars, compared to March 2013. It's the eighth time in the last nine months that iron sales showed a jump over the previous year's monthly figures. The average selling price (approximately $603 for a set of eight irons) also was slightly higher than a year ago, and was the highest for any month since last May. 

Those positive irons numbers reflect a recent Golf Datatech study of golfer attitudes, showing increased enthusiasm for purchasing irons. One reason for the enthusiasm: It just might be the case that the thin-face, distance technology that has crept down from drivers to fairway woods and hybrids and now irons is beginning to resonate with golfers' purchasing decisions.

Metalwood sales showed a mixed bag as units were slightly up (1.5 percent), but dollars were noticeably down (7.1 percent). Average selling price for a metalwood was off 8.5 percent from last March. Golf ball sales, traditionally tied to rounds played, were down a little over 1 percent compared to last March.


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News & Tours

Greg Norman as the next Johnny Miller? A closer look at how they stack up

By Alex Myers

Fox officially announced Greg Norman will be its lead golf analyst when the network begins covering the sport at the 2015 U.S. Open. Norman will be Fox's answer to NBC's Johnny Miller, who will work his 20th -- and presumably, final -- national championship this year at Pinehurst. While Norman has never worked as a golf announcer, he shares a lot of similarities with the man to whom he'll undoubtedly be compared. Let's take a look:

Related: Our favorite Johnny Millerisms

Playing careers: Both Miller and Norman are Hall of Famers, won two major championships and yet both are often labeled underachievers considering their immense talents. Miller won 25 times on the PGA Tour to Norman's 20, but Norman's 14 wins on the European Tour crush Miller's one. Both played an aggressive style of golf and were tremendous ball-strikers, with some calling Miller the best long-iron player ever and Norman the best driver of the golf ball.
Advantage: Norman. His 331 weeks at No. 1 in the world give the Shark the edge. Plus, he had longer staying power at the top.

Toughest loss: Miller finished runner-up at the Masters three times, but the 1975 edition in which he lost to Jack Nicklaus by one stands out. Norman also finished runner-up at the Masters three times, with the most painful coming in 1996 when he blew a six-shot lead to Nick Faldo entering the final round.
Advantage: Norman. He also lost a Masters playoff, as well as playoffs in both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. In fact, he is the undisputed king of tough losses in golf. Maybe "advantage" isn't the right word. . . 

Related: What will Johnny Miller do without the U.S. Open?

Away from golf: Miller, a practicing Mormon who has been married to his wife, Linda, for more than 40 years, has led a relatively quiet life when he's not in the booth or designing golf courses. Norman, on the other hand, has been arguably just as successful in business as he was in golf, most famously owning and operating huge clothing and wine companies.
Advantage: This is a tough one. Norman, by choice, has stayed busier away from the course and has done very well. However, he's had a rockier personal life, including two divorces, one of which required a $105 million settlement. Let's go with a push on this and move on. . .

On-course style

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Yeah. . . we're going with another push here.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Announcing style: Miller is the one golf announcer people tune in to just to hear what he's going to say. He's opinionated, but fair. Norman hasn't announced golf yet, but he's never been shy about expressing his views. 
Advantage: Miller, obviously. His two decades of experience will be tough to top, but we're willing to give Greg a shot. Norman has already hinted he'll pattern his style after Miller's. "I think Fox and Joe Buck want me to go down that path as well," he told our Ron Sirak. We hope so.

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News & Tours

Rickie Fowler flew in an aerobatic airplane and looked like the happiest person on the planet

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

"Why am I doing this? That's a good question."

That's how Rickie Fowler opens Red Bull's newest video before promptly jumping into a plane with two-time Red Bull Air Race world champion Kirby Chambliss and taking off. But any fears Rickie may have been harboring before the flight seemed to vanish pretty instantaneously. Just look how happy he is when the pilot flies the plane upside down.

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Related: Some woman was crazy enough to let John Daly hit a golf ball out of her mouth

Here's the full video:


Follow @lukekerrdineen
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News & Tours

He had Tiger Woods down, could have redirected course of history (some of it)

By John Strege

Tiger Woods, legend, the amateur years, might have been markedly different had his third-round match with Buddy Alexander in the 1994 U.S. Amateur at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., not taken an unlikely turn.

TigerAmateur.jpg

Alexander is the long-time University of Florida golf coach who on Tuesday announced he was retiring. A former U.S. Amateur champion and Walker Cup player, Alexander coached two national championship teams at Florida.

In his match with Woods, then 18 and not yet in college, Alexander was 3 up and on the verge of going 4 up with five holes to play. “He’s going to make one more run,” Tiger’s father Earl said presciently.

Alexander then lipped out a three-foot par putt to win the 13th hole, a miss that even Woods admitted gave him a reprieve. “If he had made the putt it was basically over,” he said.

Apparently unnerved, Alexander began to unravel, with bogeys at Nos. 14, 15, 16 and 17 that allowed Woods to go 1 up with one to play. Each double-bogeyed the 18th, giving the match to Woods. He would go on to win the first of his three consecutive U.S. Amateur championships. Alexander had played the final six holes in seven over par. Woods played them in three over.

Thus Alexander had contributed to Woods’ growing legend, but fortunately had done nothing to his own. He will retire as one of the great coaches in college history, a three-time national coach of the year and a member of the Golf Coaches Association of America's Hall of Fame.

(Getty Images photo)

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Will Rickie Fowler be a bright spot in New Orleans?

By Alex Myers

Breaking news: Matt Kuchar will NOT be in contention this Sunday. After a month of living on leader boards -- and finally closing out a tournament -- Kuchar is taking a week off and skipping the PGA Tour's annual stop in New Orleans. So is 2012 champ Bubba Watson and 2011 winner Jason Dufner. Yes, the post-Masters lull is upon us, but if you like birdie-fests, then the Zurich Classic is right up your alley. The past two winners were a combined 39 under par, with the two runner-ups combining to shoot 38 under. Who do we see emerging from this year's Bayou shootout? Here's our lineup:

The Grind: DJ & Paulina in Cabo, hornets attack and Kuchar thrills

Starters -- (A-List): Rickie Fowler. Rickie has been solid in his three starts at TPC Louisiana, highlighted by a T-10 in 2012. More importantly, he's finished sixth (Houston) and T-5 (Masters) his last two tournaments.

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(B-List): Justin Rose. This isn't a great field and Rose is a great player. Also, he's shot seven straight rounds under par at TPC Louisiana and has finished in the top 15 the past two years.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

(B-List): Billy Horschel. The defending champ seems ready for a breakthrough in what has been a sluggish start to 2014. As we pointed out following the Masters, the putter has been holding him back. Way back. That wasn't the case at this tournament last year. Remember this great reaction after his birdie on No. 18?

(C-List): John Senden. The recent winner in Tampa played well at Augusta National before taking last week off. He has four top-20 finishes in New Orleans since 2004.

Bench/Backups: Patrick Reed, Ernie Els, Jerry Kelly, and Ryan Palmer.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Billy Horschel. We really like Fowler this week, but we used him at the Honda, so we'll take Horschel instead. We're hoping the good vibes from returning to the site of his first PGA Tour win translates into some good putting. Heck, even just a decent week on the greens for the man ranked No. 3 on the PGA Tour in ball-striking could result in a big payday for Horschel -- and another big celebration in New Orleans.

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Doral), Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Luke Donald (Valspar), Rickie Fowler (Honda Classic), Jim Furyk (Heritage), Bill Haas (Farmers), Charles Howell III (Humana), Freddie Jacobson (Valero), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Graeme McDowell (Bay Hill), Adam Scott (Masters), Jordan Spieth (Houston), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- winner!).

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News & Tours

Missing links: Charley Hull, a kindred spirit, and Miguel Angel Jimenez, bon vivant

By John Strege

Stories of interest you might have missed…

Future Hall of Famer Laura Davies sees some of herself in Charley Hull’s game: “She gets her driver out on pretty much every hole, goes for pins and isn't scared of messing things up, because she is trying to win,” Davies tells Ewan Murray of the Guardian.

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Charley Hull at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. (Getty Images photo)

“[Miguel Angel Jimenez is] a walking billboard for the priceless benefits of being comfortable in your own skin,” Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail writes, chronicling the popular and entertaining Spaniard and his bid to play on the European Ryder Cup team at 50.

Beverly Hanson, a pioneer in women’s golf, died in virtual obscurity a few weeks ago, a slight that the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson attempts to correct here. Hanson won 15 tournaments on the LPGA, including three majors, and in 1950 won the U.S. Women’s Amateur at East Lake and was presented the trophy by none other than Bobby Jones.

Andrew Parr, a Canadian professional who estimates the annual cost of playing full-time tournament golf at $75,000, has taken a different approach than traditional sponsors to financing his dream: Crowdsourcing. So far, he’s raised $42,000, according to this story by Scott Stinson in the National Post.

Paula Creamer, a Northern California native, returns to the homeland this for the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Country Club in San Francisco. Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle has her homecoming story.


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