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News & Tours

Coming to a PGA Tour event near you: Swimming pools?

Headed to a golf tournament? Did you bring sunscreen? Check. Sunglasses? Check. A bathing suit? Say what?

Fans attending this year's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas will need to adjust their pre-tournament checklist. On Wednesday, the PGA Tour announced the addition of six swimming pools to viewing areas on the grounds at TPC Summerlin during the event.

This will be the first time the PGA Tour will feature public pools at an event. Here's a sketch of what it will look like:

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Two of the pools will be part of Zappos.com Fan Experience between the 17th and 18th holes and will have free admission. The other four will be part of the tournament's hospitality area and promise to offer more of a Las Vegas pool-party feel.

Related: Lexi Thompson turns heads in bikini-clad photo shoot

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Perhaps not, if the experiment runs smoothly. Who knows, maybe the winner will even want to take a dip.

(h/t Las Vegas Sun)

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Courses & Travel

Deal of the Week: Play your own Open Championship

Scoring a tee time at the Old Course in St. Andrews leading up to next year's Open Championship will be a lesson in futility, but for about $170 and a few mouse clicks, you can play a different leg of the rota in the offseason. 

Turnberry's Ailsa Course -- where Tom Watson beat Jack Nicklaus in the Duel in the Sun (and barely missed another chance in 2009) -- is offering a weekday morning "Gulfstream" tee time package that includes a breakfast sandwich, 18 holes and a three-course lunch afterward for about $170. The package is available Oct. 13 until March 31 on tee times from 9 to 11 a.m. and costs 105 pounds, or about $170. You can pick the same package on the Kintyre Course for just 75 pounds and even choose from some weekend times.

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Turnberry sits on a point on Scotland's southwest coast, a scenic 100-mile drive from Edinburgh, and has dramatic water views on three sides. Donald Trump bought the property this summer and has plans to spend $200 million upgrading the hotel, but he says he's going to leave the golf course alone. October and November offer the best weather bet, with temperatures consistently in the mid-50s -- which isn't that different than what you might get in the middle of the summer.

If you go, take an extra minute after you hit your tee shot in 15 to find the remains of the airstrip built across the course during World War II. The entire property was turned into a Royal Air Force training station and paved flat to accommodate hangars and planes. The Ailsa reopened in 1951 after a redesign from Philip MacKenzie Ross and joined the Open Championship rota in 1977, when Nicklaus and Watson had their famous battle. 

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News & Tours

Report: Anthony Kim might not play golf again in order to secure hefty disability settlement

Remember Anthony Kim? The 23-year-old kid who stole the show at the 2008 Ryder Cup by leading the U.S. to an upset win? You've probably asked yourself "What ever happened to him?" on more than one occasion. And now, we finally know -- well, maybe.

Alan Shipnuck has a fantastic story on the vanishing Kim in this week's Sports Illustrated. While reading the piece in its entirety is well worth your time, one part of Shipnuck's reporting really jumps out.

Related: Kim and other "next great American golfers"

Apparently, Kim is sitting on a potential payout that could be bigger than the FedEx Cup bonus. And to collect it, Kim doesn't have to do anything -- which just might explain his prolonged absence from the game.

Shipnuck writes:

The answer very well may lie in an insurance policy Kim has against a career-ending injury. An IMG source pegged its value at $10 million, tax-free. Kim's friend, who has had financial discussions with him, says, "It's significantly north of that. Not quite 20, but close. That is weighing on him, very much so. He's trying to weigh the risk of coming back. The way he's phrased it to me is, 'If I take one swing on Tour, the policy is voided.'"

Assuming the friend's figure is accurate, Kim would have to earn some $35 million on and off the course to match the amount he would collect by never playing golf again. (That's factoring in taxes; agent's commissions; private jets; diamond-encrusted belt buckles; salaries for a caddie, swing coach, short-game specialist, trainer, nutritionist and osteopath; and other expenses of the modern Tour pro.) For context, his career Tour earnings are $12.2 million, $9.2 million of which was accumulated between 2008 and '10. Kim signed a blockbuster deal with Nike following the '08 season, and his annual endorsement income peaked the following year at $6 million. If he can again be the player he was, he could make his $35 million nut with four or five good years. But that's a very big if. "To say that he won't come back because of money, that doesn't ring true to me because he's the most competitive kid I know," says Knost. "I can't imagine that's what he's thinking, unless something's changed and he doesn't want to play anymore."

Competitive or not, that's a lot of easy money to turn down -- assuming, of course, Kim could prove injuries ended his career. Not that he doesn't have a history of being hurt. 

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After contending at the 2011 Masters, Kim injured his thumb and had surgery a month later. Then came wrist tendinitis and a ruptured achilles tendon in 2012. Phil Mickelson told Shipnuck that Kim was still recovering when he randomly bumped into him practicing at the Madison Club in California early in 2013. 

"He was still getting over the Achilles injury," Mickelson says. "He wasn't walking much, so he was playing only nine holes at a time in a cart. But he was hitting it great -- long and straight. He looked ready for the Tour. I expected to see him out there in a couple of months."

But despite rumors of Kim returning to the PGA Tour -- where he still has status on a medical exemption --  he hasn't played since withdrawing from the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. Kim had more WDs than made cuts in the 10 events he entered that year.

Earlier this year, Kim's agent, Clarke Jones, told Golf Channel's John Hawkins that Kim wasn't even playing golf recreationally. According to an anonymous friend Shipnuck spoke to, though, that isn't the case. 

"AK's not injured," says the friend. "He can play, he can walk. His swing looks good, the strike sounds solid, his ball flight is good. His physical health is not the issue."

Related: Golf's all-time biggest phenoms

Hmm. If Kim is hoping to collect on that disability settlement, that's probably not information he wants spread around.

So what else is he doing during his extended break from being a tour pro? Shipnuck investigated some of Kim's noted hangout spots and discovered the 29-year-old Dallas resident hasn't been frequenting those of late either. 

In other words, Anthony Kim is still a mystery. But at least we have one, well, millions of possible reasons for why he's remained out of the spotlight. 

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Gear & Equipment

Early success has New Balance expanding golf-shoe line

Following its entry into the golf-shoe market this year, New Balance will introduce a spikeless version of its first offering this fall.

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Built on the same frame as its popular running shoe, the 574B weighs just 9.6 ounces with a lightweight foam midsole and a mesh upper that incorporates a thin, no-stitch construction.

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New Balance officials say the success of the cleated 574 golf shoe released in the spring gave the company an opportunity to capitalize on its popularity with a spikeless version.

Two colors -- white and grey/yellow -- will be available Nov. 1 ($90), and a navy/orange version early in 2015.

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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Video

This golf trick shot video will be the most impressive thing you see all day

Or perhaps a better way to put it is, "This trick shot video will make you feel woefully uncoordinated by comparison."

There's not else you can say after watching this GoPro-produced video of brothers George and Wesley Brian (George is the "set-up man", Wesley is the "hitter"), other than in retrospect, it also makes that iconic commercial of Tiger Woods juggling seem rather quaint.

And here's the best news: The Bryan Brothers will starring in a new Golf Digest video series, "Trick Shots with the Bryan Bros." debuting Oct. 16. 


Better start practicing, Tiger.

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News & Tours

Why you should watch the Web.com Tour Championship this week

Think the FedEx Cup is confusing? Try the Web.com Tour Finals. But luckily, with the 2013-14 PGA Tour season in the books, you can fully concentrate on the developmental tour's season finale. Oh, and we're also here to help explain it all. Here's what to watch for at TPC Sawgrass' Valley Course.

So, what is the Web.com Tour Finals?
It's a series of four events that's comprised of the top 75 players on the Web.com Tour's 2014 money list and Nos. 126-200 (another 75 players) on the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup points list for 2013-14. These 150 golfers are essentially playing for their 2014-15 PGA Tour cards, although the top 25 players from the Web.com regular season money list have already locked up a card.

Related: The winners and losers from the FedEx Cup

Wait, so why are those 25 guys still playing?
At the end of the Web.com Tour Finals, 50 PGA Tour cards are awarded based on a priority list. That list is a mix of the 25 players who have already earned their cards and the other players and affects what type of status the players will have on the PGA Tour next season. The higher you are on the priority list, the better chance you have of getting into the tournaments you want.

Do the PGA Tour guys dominate this thing?
Not really. Bud Cauley won the first playoff event, but the next two were won by guys who played full-time on the Web.com Tour this season: Adam Hadwin and Justin Thomas. In 2013 -- the first year of this four-event series -- the results were also pretty split, with Trevor Immelman (PGA Tour), Andrew Svoboda (PGA and Web.com Tours), Seung-yul Noh (PGA Tour), and Chesson Hadley (Web.com Tour) winning and John Peterson (Web.com Tour) claiming the overall title for the Finals despite not winning a playoff event.

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Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer's grandson, is closing in on a PGA Tour card.

Oh, so it really is like the FedEx Cup?
Yes, except the winner doesn't get a $10 million bonus. He does, however, earn fully-exempt status on the PGA Tour the following year, including a spot in the Players. The player with the most combined money earned between the regular season on the Web.com Tour and in the Finals is also fully exempt. Carlos Ortiz already locked up that spot with his three Web.com Tour wins this season.

So, what Web.com Tour names should we expect to see big things from next year?
Again, Carlos Ortiz won three times this year, earning more than $500,000 in the regular season. That's a lot of money on the Web.com Tour. Ortiz is 23 and played his college golf at North Texas. Then there's Justin Thomas, who just won the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship, the third leg of the Web.com Tour Finals. A former standout at the University of Alabama, the 21-year-old Thomas impressed many when he and Jordan Spieth took down Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in a U.S. Open practice round at Pinehurst.

The Grind: Billy's millions and Tiger/Lindsey's "date night"

Who are some of the other intriguing names to keep an eye on?
Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer's grandson, has all but locked up his PGA Tour card for the first time. Saunders has finished T-4, T-16, and T-12 in the first three playoff events and will enter the Tour Championship at No. 13 on the priority list. John Peterson and Colt Knost are former college stars who have already locked up their return to the PGA Tour next year, but are trying to improve their status. Finally, Patrick Rodgers, the bubble boy this week at No. 50 in the standings, has been hailed as a can't-miss prospect out of Stanford. 

What happens if guys miss this week?
There's always Q School. Regardless of how they finish in the Web.com Tour Finals, Nos. 126-200 on the FedEx Cup points list and Nos. 26-40 on the Web.com Tour money list are automatically in the field for Web.com Tour Q School in December. The rest can try to qualify for the field. With the switch to the Web.com Tour Finals schedule, Q School isn't a direct path to the PGA Tour anymore, but it is the best way to get back to the developmental tour. Do that and a year from now, you could be the next Carlos Ortiz.

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Courses & Travel

We toured next year's U.S. Open course on a GolfBoard and it was sweet (VIDEO)

Chambers Bay is an unlikely place to bag a maiden GolfBoard ride. The municipal links, built in 2007 on a former industrial gravel pit along the Puget Sound, doesn’t allow golf carts. Players must take a caddie, a pushcart or carry their own bag. Only with a medical note may one ride in a cart, and the enforcement of this policy is as strict as the rental fleet is small. So ripping around on another motorized vehicle, albeit a quite smaller one at 100 pounds, was a big ask.
 
But since the U.S. Open is coming here in 2015 and golf fans are eager to see what the youngest course to land the national championship looks like, the good folk at Chambers Bay slackened their retro-purist principles for a morning and let us film a ride.



It was my first time on a GolfBoard. Brock Sabo, the GolfBoard sales rep who met me in the parking lot, didn’t need my help unloading the unit from his car. After a tentative introductory minute, I was comfortable to set sail on the course at full speed, or 11 mph. The motion is similar to any type of board riding -- I’m fairly experienced with the snow and skate variety -- but getting wholly accustomed to the throttle, a Bluetooth-enabled device held like a water pistol, took a few holes (Then again, I’ve never been outside the bell curve for rubbing my belly and patting my stomach simultaneously). The vertical handlebar mount, which can aid steering but is mostly there for security, was the design addition “that convinced insurance companies it would be safe for the public to rent without helmets,” says Sabo. Which was an important development, because hitting quality golf shots is hard enough without a helmet.

Is it fun to ride? Does Ricky Barnes wear a funny hat?

Riding a GolfBoard is a more physically involved act than driving a cart. By no means a workout, but the more you throw your weight around, the more you are rewarded with deeper, more thrilling carves. Like walking, the tendency is to become more attentive and engaged with the topography of the golf course. Also like walking, the fun’s in the fairway. Traipsing through the rough at low speed looking for a lost ball isn’t fun in any mode of ambulation. My theory is far from being proven, but I think the GolfBoard might actually help one stay in the fairway. The rhythmic weight shift of the carving motion bleeds nicely into a pre-shot routine.  

A major reason Chambers Bay shuns golf carts is to protect its 100-percent fescue turf. A GolfBoard is five- to six-times lighter than a typical golf cart and has smaller wheels, so it at least partially assuages that concern. However, the kneejerk fear of most courses considering the GolfBoard will be safety. How many golfers will ride recklessly and get hurt? Who knows, perhaps an even higher rate than already do with golf carts. Like a golf cart, you won’t get hurt on a GolfBoard unless you purposefully push the boundaries.  
           
Laird Hamilton, the legendary pro surfer and design consultant of the GolfBoard, has his own handle-less model that allegedly goes 60 mph.

Maybe Oakmont Country Club will let us film in advance of the 2016 U.S. Open. Laird, you available?
   

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News & Tours

The Adam Scott-Steve Williams partnership is done. Here are the duo's 5 most memorable moments

On Wednesday, Adam Scott and Steve Williams announced the end of their "partnership" as player and caddie -- citing scheduling differences as the main reason for the split. It was a relatively short, but mostly successful run that saw Scott claim his first major and rise to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here's a look back at their five most memorable moments together.

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1. 2013 Masters: Scott finally broke through at a major by beating Angel Cabrera in a playoff and Williams played a big role in the victory. On the winning putt, Scott consulted with Williams. “I could hardly see the green, he was my eyes on the putt,” Scott said. “The winning putt might be the highlight of my career, because he asked me to read it,” Williams told The Associated Press. That was a great putt to end an incredible tournament.

2. 2011 Bridgestone Invitational: This will forever be remembered as the WGC event that Steve Williams won. At least, it seemed that way when Williams was interviewed immediately following Scott's first win with him on the bag following his split with Tiger Woods. "I have been caddieing for more than 30 years now. I have won 145 times and that is the best win of my life," Williams said afterwards. "A lot has been said this week and it is great to back it up. I back myself as a frontrunner as a caddie and I have won again." Williams said. Somewhere, Woods scowled. Or laughed.

3. 2012 British Open: It wasn't all good for this "partnership." At Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Scott seemed headed for a first career major championship, but then disaster struck. Scott bogeyed the last four holes, capped by a questionable decision to hit 3-wood off the 18th tee that put him in a pot bunker. Coupled with a rally by Ernie Els, Scott's stunning finish left him with the most heartbreaking loss of his career. 
4. 2013 British Open: A year after Scott's close call at St. Annes, he suffered a similar fate at Muirfield. After grabbing the lead on the back nine on Sunday, Scott again made four straight bogeys. Once he and Williams righted the ship it was too late to catch Phil Mickelson, who claimed his first claret jug.

5. 2011 Presidents Cup: Never has there been more buildup to a golfer crossing paths with a caddie than there was for Williams caddying against his former boss, Woods, in a Thursday four-ball match in Melbourne. Williams and Woods got their brief handshake over with on the first tee and then Williams got the last laugh as Scott and K.J. Choi trounced Woods and Steve Stricker, 7 and 6.
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News & Tours

Missing Links: 'This vote has to be yes,' on opening Royal & Ancient Golf Club to women

Stories of interest you might have missed…

“St Andrews, like every other place in the nation, will be in the grip of a referendum vote that has split opinion,” James Riach writes in the Guardian. “Yet as the sun sets on the famous links of the Old Course another saga dogged by controversy may finally be resolved. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club could, by the end of the day, allow women to become members for the first time in its 260-year existence. It is expected to pass a motion put forward in March, when the R&A’s general committee wrote to its 2,400 male contingent and said ‘now is the time to welcome females’ into the club.”

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Yes is the only option on the R&A vote, Martin Dempster writes in the Scotsman: It is important for its future. And, for the R&A, it will determine its credibility as the game’s governing body. Put simply, this vote has to be ‘yes’. If it is anything else, it will be the biggest own goal in sporting history.”

“A High Court judge today ordered the world’s number one golfer Rory McIlroy and his former management company, Horizon Sports Management, to engage in peace talks over the next four weeks,” Ray Managh writes in the Irish Times. “McIlroy’s legal battle with Horizon also involves the affairs of his Ryder Cup team mate Graeme McDowell and Mr Justice Brian McGovern said it involved such sensitive matters that the sides should engage in mediation.”

The return of golf to the Olympics has been widely heralded. Not so much the Rio de Janeiro course under construction to host Olympic golf. “It is mired in controversy,” the Associated Press writes. “A Brazilian court is set to decide the future of the golf course for the 2016 Olympics…The city of Rio de Janeiro and the course developer are defendants in a lawsuit that alleges environmental laws were broken in authorizing and building the course. Earlier this month, Rio judge Eduardo Klausner gave them until Wednesday to say if the design can be modified to offer concessions to environmentalists.”

Former LPGA player and model Laura Baugh now lives in Augusta, Ga., and is opening a golf school there, David Westin reports in the Augusta Chronicle. “I’ve done clinics with Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer, who I have known since I was 16," Baugh said. "I’ve done clinics with Annika (Sorenstam), with (Nancy) Lopez. We do them all the time at Pro-Ams. No, they said when you have students and really teach, you feel like you’re giving back to the game. You really feel good. You enjoy it. I came back and I thought that would be a good move for me to make.”

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Health & Fitness

Stuff: Fitness for your fingers

finger-fitness-260.jpgEvery once in a while, a "why didn't I think of that?" product comes along. Repeatedly opening and closing your hand while wearing the Hand X Band ($10, handxband.com) helps strengthen the muscles that control the fingers. For golfers, this can lead to more success out of the rough and less stress on the arm tendons.

As a bonus, strengthening these muscles can help reduce the chance of carpal tunnel syndrome. It's a great, inexpensive product that you can use practically any time during the day—even when you're waiting for the group to clear in front of you.


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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