The Local Knowlege

How He Hit That

How He Hit That: Bubba Watson's fairway bunker slash

Bubba Watson has hit more than his share of memorable shots. Almost every tee shot is a giant, soaring parabola with 30 yards of curve, and the shot he hit to win the 2012 Masters made an almost 90 degree curve from the trees. 


So the bunker shot Watson hit on the 13th hole might even be considered "boring" in the Bubba pantheon -- even if it would be spectacular for any mortal player. 

Situated 208 yards from the flag on TPC River Highlands' par-5 15th, Watson carved a 5-iron from the fairway bunker on the left to 40 feet, setting up an eagle putt that would prove important later on. Watson ended up tied in regulation with Paul Casey, and won his second Travelers title with a birdie on the second playoff hole. 

You might not have Bubba's power -- or unorthodox flair -- but being more in tune with the clubface like he is will improve your game, says top South Carolina teacher Brad Redding. "Bubba's swing is based on being able to control the face and the path with his hands," says Redding, who is based at the International Club in Myrtle Beach. "This is harder to do with a driver and its longer shaft and less loft, but it lets him hit some incredible recovery shots with his irons, like he did here. What you can take from this is not so much copying his technique on this shot, but stop thinking so much about what your body is doing and think about what you want to do with the face and path."

The result? You'll be using the tool to make the ball do what you want, not obsessing over body movements, says Redding.


... Read
News & Tours

Report: Nearly $3 million of Mickelson's money tied to money laundering, gambling case

Phil Mickelson’s name has surfaced in a story in connection with $2.75 million of his money having been laundered by a “conduit of an off-shore gambling operation,” Mike Fish and David Purdam of ESPN have reported.

Mickelson has not been charged, nor is he under investigation, the story said.

(Getty Images)

T.R. Reinman, a spokesman for Mickelson, said that they would not be commenting on the story.

Gregory Silveira of La Quinta, Calif., “has pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering of funds from an unnamed ‘gambling client’ of his between February 2010 and February 2013,” the ESPN story said. “Sources familiar with the case said Mickelson, who was not named in court documents, is the unnamed ‘gambling client.’”

ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, in a separate story, explained why Mickelson was not charged.

“There are many possibilities, but chief among them is that federal gambling laws are directed at gambling enterprises and not at individual bettors,” Munson wrote. “Federal prosecutors use the word ‘illegal’ in their description of Mickelson's money because gambling on sports is illegal under state laws except in Nevada.”

It is widely known that Mickelson enjoys gambling, on and off the course. Last year, Larry Dorman, a former senior vice president of Callaway Golf and a former golf writer for the New York Times, wrote for that before Callaway agreed to sign him to an endorsement contract in 2004, the company investigated gambling rumors involving Mickelson.

“Mickelson did like to gamble at the time, but he had no outstanding debts and his betting patterns -- a stat that Vegas casinos keep -- had him even to slightly up,” Dorman wrote.

It is the second time in 13 months that Mickelson’s name has turned up in a federal investigation. Last year, billionaire Carl Icahn and renowned gambler Billy Walters were the focus of an insider trading probe that included Mickelson, the New York Times reported.

The Times later wrote the “scope of the investigation” of Mickelson had been “overstated,” and “came from information provided to The Times by other people briefed on the matter who have since acknowledged making a mistake.”


... Read
Courses & Travel

Here's Tiger Woods previewing his first U.S. course design (which definitely has some Augusta in it)

Tiger Woods’ track record as a golfer is unquestioned. Whether the 14-time major winner's course-design skills match up is something we're waiting to see.

Woods has already opened courses in Mexico, and has lined up course endeavors in Dubai and China. Yet Bluejack National, just outside of Houston in Montgomery, Texas, will be his first course to debut in the United States.

“When it’s all said and done, the course is going to be more open,” says Woods in the preview video. “But more than anything, it’s very playable.”

Woods goes on to cite similarities to Augusta National’s sweeping grounds, and it’s evident in the video that the Masters’ playground was a primary influence on Bluejack (And the way Woods has been spraying his driver as of late, this unfenced terrain may be his sanctuary.)

At a cost of over $100 million, Bluejack is set to open in the fall. From the clip, Bluejack does strike as an aesthetically-pleasing venue. Take a look for yourself:


... Read
Courses & Travel

Recalling the bunker at the Greenbrier that was designed to protect more than par

This week, the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., is hosting golf’s best. Sixty years ago, the resort was configured to accommodate a different crowd: Congress, in the event of a nuclear attack.


For underneath the fairways and greens lies a massive underground bunker, one that was hidden to the world for more than three decades.

Viewed as a recreation destination as early as 1778, the White Sulphur Springs community built a hotel on the Appalachian grounds in 1858, with golf links added in 1913. Aside from a vacation terminus for the East Coast elite, the site also served as a military hospital during the Civil War and World War II.

It was this civic service that laid the groundwork for the resort’s classified mission.

With the Cold War reaching a fever pitch, the United States government contacted The Greenbrier in the late 1950s with an idea. If a foreign military strike reached American soil -- specifically, a nuclear holocaust -- the country needed a relocation spot to house leaders and officials, in order to stabilize and continue the flow of government.


Codenamed “Project Greek Island,” the resort hammered out an underground workstation in 1959. To cover up the clandestine operations, The Greenbrier added an additional wing to the hotel, and hid some of the construction elements by filling in a new 9-hole golf course on the estate.

The shelter could house up to 1,000 people. Some of the bunker’s features included two auditoriums (one for Senate sessions, the other for the House of Representatives), a medical facility, kitchens, living quarters and a media/broadcast room. For safety and protection purposes, the cellar was reinforced with concrete walls. 




Part of the bunker was readily available to the public during its operation. Mainly, the Exhibition Hall, which was used for by the hotel’s clientele for meetings and gatherings. This was done in order to conceal the entire confines of the hidden fortress.

To manage the property, a fake business called “Forsythe Associates” was implemented, maintaining that the company’s purpose was to run the TVs and electronics of the hotel. 

However, even during the dramatic moments of the Cold War, the fortification was never used. (As far as we know.)

In 1992, The Washington Post exposed The Greenbrier’s secret. Immediately after the word was out, the bunker was derestricted

The subterranean structure is now open to the public for guided tours, giving a glimpse into the all-too-real dangers of a time not long ago.


... Read
Golf & Business

Three golfers rank among highest-paid celebrities on new Forbes list

On Monday morning, Forbes released its list of the world’s highest-paid celebrities, which covers a range that includes actors, musicians, TV and radio personalities, and athletes. Speaking of athletes, there were 13 of them in the top 50, including three golfers: Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

The 45-year old Mickelson leads the pack of golfers, placing 36th overall with earnings of an estimated $51 million. Following right behind him at 37th is Tiger Woods, with an estimated $50.5 million.

Related: Woods no longer highest-paid golfer.

(It's worth noting that the figures in the Forbes list, which spans the last 12 months, differs from our annual Golf Digest 50, which ranked the game's biggest earners on and off the course based on their income in 2014.)

phil-forbes-list-560.jpgPrior to this year, Woods had led Mickelson in earnings, but his well-documented struggles have seen his winnings dwindle to just $600,000 over the past year. With Woods’ career in a downward spiral and Mickelson counting down the years until he joins the Champions Tour, it will certainly be worth seeing who trends up or down on the list next year -- especially because of the other golfer that cracked the top 50 and is just four spots behind Woods.

Rory McIlroy ranks 41st on the list with an estimated $48.5 million earned over the year. McIlroy is one of the nine celebrities in their 20s to crack the top 50 on this list.

Looking back on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid athletes of 2015, the three golfers were incredibly close, ranking eighth (Mickelson), ninth (Woods),m and 12th (McIlroy.) McIlroy beat the other two in winnings by more than $13 million, but made significantly less in endorsements. However, with McIlroy blossoming at 26 and the 21-year old Jordan Spieth coming off two consecutive major victories, larger endorsement deals should be forthcoming. These could really shift the scales of next year’s Forbes’ highest-paid lists.


... Read
Golf Digest

We've made Golf Digest Handicap better and easier to use

Almost two years ago we launched Golf Digest Handicap for golfers who wanted a free and simple way to calculate a handicap based on their scoring history. What we discovered is there a lot of those people out there. Golf Digest Handicap has tens of thousands of users who have logged hundreds of thousands of rounds.

Popular as Golf Digest Handicap was, we knew it could be better, and that's why we're pleased to introduce a revamped version now live at


While we still thought it important to provide a quick and seamless way for golfers to post scores, we've allowed for flexibility when submitting the yardage you played from. And in the event the course you played shares a name with other courses, geolocation capability recognizes the one closest to you.


These upgrades, along with a fresh and cleaner design, makes Golf Digest Handicap a better overall experience we hope you take advantage of. Check it out for yourself, and let us know what you think.


... Read

Stability is focus of new TaylorMade DLL+ putter

Daddy.jpgTaylorMade has not been shy about pursuing extreme technology in putters, and its most notable example has been its perimeter-weighted Spider line. 

Geared toward high stability on off-center strikes, the company expanded the line with the Daddy Long Legs model in 2013, whose counterbalanced grip aimed to stabilize the stroke. 

Now, it’s taken another step toward extreme stability with the new Daddy Long Legs+ ($250). The slightly heavier head uses 17 separate pieces and features tungsten in the extreme perimeter to provide an MOI of nearly 9,000 (8.856 grams-centimeters squared), the highest in the TaylorMade line. 

But what makes the DLL+ an even more dramatic step toward stabilizing the stroke is the  125-gram weight plug in the oversized SuperStroke XL 2.0 grip. According to the company, the DLL+ puts 200 percent more weight above the hands compared to the original DLL (on the 38-inch version). That shifts the putter’s balance point two inches closer to the hands compared to the original. The idea is that a balance point closer to the hands will produce a more stable stroke than traditional putters because it is more difficult to move the club offline during the stroke. 

The face features a deep milled 6061 aluminum face insert similar to that used on TaylorMade Ghost Black Tour putters. Developed through tour player input, the material and texture are designed to soften sound at impact.

The DLL+ is available in 34.5-, 36- and 38-inch lengths.

... Read
Missing Links

U.S. Open at Chambers Bay: 'Luck was all but everything and skill was close to nought'

Stories of interest you might have missed…

John Huggan of the Scotsman looks back at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay and finds it lacking: “This column is all for making golf more interesting and fun by encouraging the ‘ground game’ that is so often absent from the PGA and European Tours. But there is a fine line between fun and farce. And last week [USGA Executive Director Mike] Davis travelled too far down the right road. The combination of goofy greens, firm turf and sometimes-daft pin positions at times diminished the championship to a point where luck was all but everything and skill was close to nought. Too much of a good thing too often threatened to spoil the spectacle.”

Rory McIlroy in familar Chambers Bay pose (Getty Images)

Golf courses are often final resting places, John Paul Newport writes in the Wall Street Journal. “The spreading of ashes, or ‘wildcat scattering’ as it’s known in the cremation industry, is of questionable legality when done on private property without permission. But that stops hardly anyone.”


Paul Casey lost to Bubba Watson in a playoff at the Travelers Championship on Sunday but found solace in his perspective. “My little boy is right behind you, 20 yards away, sucking his finger,” he said in this story by Chip Malafronte in the Register Citizen. “I look at him, and it makes everything pale in comparison. I’m disappointed in myself, but I’ve got a great life and a great family. And I’m about to go home.”


Sacramento is the capital of California, but finishes behind Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco as a sports town. That said, the U.S. Senior Open was a huge hit, and Sacramento Bee columnist Ailene Voisin makes the case for more. “So, what about doing this again in the near future?…USGA officials were delighted and, without offering details, [tournament chairman Dan] Spector said he has received inquiries from the PGA Tour.”


... Read
News & Tours

Golf needs Bubbas from Bagdad, who don’t play a game with which we’re all too familiar

A mind reader would need an interpreter to know what Bubba Watson is thinking. A thought bubble wouldn’t help, either.

The only option is to sit back and watch what he’ll do next, which isn’t always pretty, is sometimes ugly, and is never dull, in cooperation with his operating philosophy.

“Why do what everybody else does?” he said once. “That’s boring.”

(Getty Images)

Watson is never boring, even with a three-shot lead with four holes to play, and four pars to win.

So it was that Watson took the circuitous route to a victory in the Travelers Championship on Sunday, his second of the season, second in this event and the eighth of his PGA Tour career.

He needed two extra holes to defeat Paul Casey in a playoff at TPC Highlands, making it more exciting than necessary and reinforcing the need to keep your eye on the ball when it has a pink dot and Bubba is hitting it.

It won’t necessarily be a popular victory, though it should be. His behavior occasionally veers off course and into the unacceptable, which has created no shortage of animus. He’s been known to scold his caddie Ted Scott in view of television cameras, which has spawned a Twitter hashtag, #PrayForTedScott.

He always appears remorseful and vowing to improve. Judge for yourself whether it’s genuine. What is indisputable is that tolerance is required to fully appreciate him and his skill.

Yet there was a time we celebrated those in sports who were wired differently. Last week, for instance, marked the 52nd anniversary of Jimmy Piersall’s 100th career home run, a dinger memorable for how he circled the bases. He ran backwards.

How can you not appreciate that? Still, Watson isn’t that odd, thankfully. Nor is he the enfant terrible that John Daly is. Thankfully.

But golf needs those who don’t emerge from the country club mold. It needs Bubbas from Bagdad, who don’t play a game with which we are all too familiar, to twist an old Bobby Jones quote, those who have never cast a shadow on a lesson tee, who willfully avoid the shortest route, the proverbial straight line.

So, the three-stroke lead. Watson took the aggressive play by taking driver on the reachable par-4 15th and turned a fairly easy birdie hole into a difficult par. He bogeyed 17 with a wayward drive and scrambled for par just to take it to overtime.

It never comes easy.

“It never does,” Watson said, “especially with 16 and 17. I’m not very good on those holes. Casey played great. I watched him make birdie on 17 from 16 green. And I hung on. That’s what you have to do sometimes.”


... Read
Winners' Bags

Winner's bag: Bubba Watson makes the 7-wood cool

When Bubba Watson wins a golf tournament the driver always plays a role and that was no different at the Travelers Championship where Watson averaged a whopping 318.5 yards off the tee with his pink Ping G30 with a Grafalloy BiMatrx shaft. There was another club in Watson's bag, however, that was perhaps more intriguing. Since the Players in May Watson has been carrying a Ping G30 7-wood, maybe once and for all ending the stigma of the 7-wood as a club strictly for the less strong and less skilled.

Seeking more distance from his long clubs when he hits his go-to cut shot, Watson replaced his 3-iron at the Match Play with a Ping i25 hybrid. At TPC Sawgrass, he took out that hybrid as well as his 4-wood and replaced them with a Ping G30 3-wood and, after deciding against a hybrid with a steel shaft, a G30 7-wood. Watson also had the club shortened an inch for more control.

Bubba Watson Ball: Titleist Pro V1x Driver: Ping G30 (Grafalloy BiMatrx), 9 degrees 3-wood: Ping G30, 14.5 degrees 7-wood: Ping G30, 21 degrees Irons (4-PW): Ping S55 Wedges: Ping Glide SS (52, 56 degrees); Ping Glide TS (60 degrees) Putter: Ping Anser 1 Milled


... Read
Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today