The Local Knowlege

News & Tours

Tiger Woods says he's in "a no-win fight", braces for inevitable baldness

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

Don't worry, Tiger. We're know how it feels.

In his one-on-one interview with Fox Sports, a portion of which was published online on Wednesday, Tiger Woods gave the world an extraordinary admission about something that has been weighing on people's minds for quite a while: his hair loss.

It's not something that Tiger hasn't noticed, but he seems in good spirits about it.

"I'm comfortable with it, but my hairline isn't," Tiger said, after being asked by host Colleen Dominiguez if he was comfortable aging. "I have a nice skylight [at home] and I'm at the point where if I don't where a hat, I can feel the heat."

Then Dominiguez asked the big question: if Tiger would ever consider shaving off the rest of his hair.

"I think I will, but I'm fighting the cause, and I'm fighting it hard," Woods said. "It's a no-win fight, but I'm hanging in there."

To get a better idea of what he's talking about, here's Tiger's hairline at the 1997 Masters, compared to his hairline at the 2014 British Open.

Hang in there, Tiger. 

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My Usual Game

The USGA and R&A should adopt this playoff format (among other things)

Hacker (real name) came up $15 short on Sunday -- something that hardly ever happens. He doesn’t count the money when he collects it before the Sunday Morning Group tees off, and he doesn’t keep track of who has paid and who hasn't, yet the total is almost always exactly right. I know that I wasn’t the one who forgot to pay, because I’ve been on Martha’s Vineyard with my family. I’ve played golf just once, at Farm Neck Golf Club, the course I shared last summer with my close personal friend, the President of the United States. There’s a new sign near the first green:

They used to ask people to play in four hours and fifteen minutes; four hours is better, although three and a half would be better still. I went as a single, and was grouped with a retired guy and two of his grandsons, who were in high school. They hadn’t played much golf before, but both of them were baseball players, and every so often they really clobbered the ball.

I had missed the previous Sunday at home, too, because I was playing in a two-day amateur tournament at Richter Park Golf Course, a terrific muny about 40 minutes from where I live. Three S.M.G. guys -- Rick, Tony, and I -- played in the senior division, and we did pretty well:

After 25 holes, I was tied, for about five seconds, with the guy who eventually won, but then I had some problems, including a quadruple bogey (from the middle of the fairway) on the eleventh hole. Still, the tournament was fun. And the guys who didn’t play at Richter had fun, too, because on Sunday S.M.G. had its first playoff of the year, after three teams tied at 16 under par. I’m kind of sorry I wasn’t there, because our playoff formats are the best in golf. On Sunday, the guys came up with a new one, in which the tied players had to sit in a chair on the patio and throw a ball onto the practice green by bouncing it off a picnic-table bench, closest to the hole. 

Hacker (who took the photo above) sent me a report:

Barney chose the bench to bounce the ball off of, and we made the guys sit on the far side of the round table, about nine feet from the bench. The stymie rule was in effect, as always, and we decided that any ball would count, even if it was off the green. We were worried at first that no one would be able to hit the bench, but that turned out not to be an issue, because Stan was the only one who missed it.

I'll be back home soon -- too late for that playoff, but just in time for the Men's Member-Guest.

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News & Tours

Missing Links: Players 'Moneyball' approach to improvement, Langer's improbable Ryder Cup bid

By John Strege

Stories of interest you might have missed…

“[Jason] Day said before every tournament, [caddie and coach Col] Swatton hands him a piece of paper that tells him what he has to do to win the event. It summarizes what the winner has done over the years — how many eagles, birdies, bogeys and double bogeys he had, along with averages on the par-3s, par-4s and par-5s,” writes Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal in this column on how golfers increasingly are using a “Moneyball” approach to improve.

Caddie and coach Col Swatton and Jason Day (Getty Images photo)

Bernhard Langer, 57 next month, no longer plays PGA Tour events save for the Masters, yet Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie and Tony Jacklin all have said he warrants consideration for a place on the European Ryder Cup team, based on his extraordinary play on the Champions Tour of late. Tom Hayward of Reuters has the story.

“Nobody had ever said that word [choke] before,” NBC’s Johnny Miller said in this Q and A with Bud Shaw of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’ve always felt how players handle the pressure was the most interesting part of golf…The way Tiger would perform under pressure and how other guys would let tournaments go.”

“It is not unusual to see a photograph of a professional golfer hitting balls on the range in front of a group of interested spectators. But it is unusual when the golfer is a pudgy man in his mid-sixties, and the onlookers include Fred Couples, Ben Crenshaw, Nick Price, and Nick Faldo.” This is the lead to Jeff Neuman’s Wall Street Journal story on the legendary Canadian Moe Norman.

Two weeks before he tees it up in the PGA Championship, club pro Johan Kok played his first round of golf in a week. So it generally goes for club pros, even those good enough to play in a major championship. Columnist Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal looks at the PGA Championship from the perspective of the 20 club pros who qualified.

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Gear & Equipment

Callaway offers physics lesson on the clubhead of its new V Series driver

By Mike Stachura

loop-callaway-vseries-driver-518.jpgCallaway isn't saying much about the Big Bertha V Series club that showed up on last week's USGA list of conforming drivers. But given the timing and some of the clues on the clubhead itself, you can make a good guess as to what this driver is all about.

Making the rounds on tour this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (Thomas Bjorn is said to be one interested candidate), the club definitely emphasizes less weight. You can see slight indentations in the sole that are reminiscent of the old Big Bertha Warbird sole.

Most telling, however, are the words and formulas emblazoned on the clubhead. Included is the phrase Speed Optimized Technology and the formula for kinetic energy. The latter is a clear reference to the importance of increasing velocity (swing speed) to generate more energy at impact.

The adjustable driver is available in three lofts, according to its listing on the USGA website (9.5, 10.5 and 13.5HT). The company plans to introduce the driver formally next week.

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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Health & Fitness

How golf keeps diabetes in check

By Ron Kaspriske

If you have Type I or Type II diabetes, consider walking when you play. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics experience significant drops in blood-glucose levels when performing any activity for more than 20 minutes at a heart rate between 60 and 70 percent of its maximum beats per minute. That rate varies based on age and overall health, but for a 50-year-old, figure about 115-120 beats per minute. Since golf typically lasts more than four hours, golfers quickly reach this zone while walking and then easily maintain it. In fact, many diabetics need to reduce the amount of insulin or diabetes medications they take before, during or after playing golf because of the duration of the activity.

Related: Leave the cart in the barn


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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Golf & Business

Has golf's demise been greatly exaggerated?

By Mike Stachura

Have you heard the rumor about the golf industry dying? The one that’s been all over the news, on social media and, yes, even on your premium cable channels? 

Yes, it’s been a rough week for the golf business. But do the headlines tell the whole story? 

The bad-news cycle started last week with the announcement by Dick’s Sporting Goods that it was essentially firing its 478 PGA professionals. While no detailed explanation was provided, the company’s dismal first-quarter earnings report (a $34 million loss) cited declining golf sales as a major contributing factor. As DKS chairman and CEO Ed Stack said in May, “We really don't know where the bottom is in golf. ... The industry has a real issue.”

So when the leading off-course retailer of golf equipment, a publicly traded company, essentially projects a lack of faith in the golf business, it was only natural for the story to take on a globalized life of its own. ESPN, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the television networks all jumped on the opportunity to write golf’s death sentence.  

It didn’t help that the bad business news came the same week that HBO’s "Real Sports" attacked golf’s perceived decline by opening a feature with a walk through an overgrown, shut-down golf course by host and golfer Bryant Gumbel. Former TaylorMade CEO Mark King, current president of Adidas North America, offered little encouragement for the state of the game when he said, “Every leading macro indicator we’ve been using for the last 20 years is saying that less people are playing, and they’re playing less frequently.” That was followed by Gumbel offering this gem: “Even as the economy recovers, golf remains in a nosedive.”

The consensus has been consistent, as Lauren Lyster of Yahoo! Finance put it on ABC News: “We haven’t seen signs of a turnaround; if anything, we’ve seen signs of continued decline and continued struggle.”

But maybe the experts of doom haven’t been looking hard enough. The problem is, the signs the naysayers, the analysts and even the business leaders keep citing don’t tell the whole story.

Contrary to popular belief, there are positive stories in equipment sales, rounds played, and even employment opportunities. The professional game might be on better financial footing than any other individual sport, and maybe most important, the game’s leaders have embraced the idea of growing the game in its most important way: young people. The story of golf in July 2014 certainly is not candy canes and rainbows, but those clouds might not be as dark as others have been so quick to point out. 

Has 2014 been a down year for equipment sales and rounds played? Certainly. Is there an oversupply of golf courses (fueled by unsustainable real-estate projections) and golf-equipment inventory (driven by overzealous manufacturers who were primed by unrealistic sales forecasts from certain large-scale retailers)? Unquestionably. But that’s a relative and limited point of view. First, let's remember this: There were about 5 million golfers in 1960. While U.S. population has increased only some 75 percent since then, the number of golfers has more than quintupled to around 25 million. 

Recent data from golf-retail research firm Golf Datatech show that the sale of hard goods (clubs, balls, bags, shoes and gloves) through the first six months of the year are higher than or equal to 12 of the previous 17 years. Is the trend line down from the somewhat freakish highs of 2006-'08? Yes. But there are unquestionable categories of enthusiasm this year. Iron sales, the largest purchase a golfer makes, have been up this year. The wedge market, thought to be dead after the USGA rolled back groove performance, has been consistently up this year. Even the footwear market has been an important, steady source of revenue. Callaway Golf just announced its second-quarter earnings and noted its sales for the first half of 2014 were up 9 percent, with growth in all categories, including woods (up 8 percent), irons (up 14 percent), putters (up 9 percent) and golf balls (up 7 percent).

There have been arguments that television ratings for golf are down in 2014 (and indeed the majors have been off), but according to the PGA Tour, the number of unique viewers this year is consistent, and sponsorship interest across all tours has risen to unprecedented levels. Golf Channel set a ratings record for the month of April this year.

“The professional game is stronger than it’s ever been, with record years for not just us but the LPGA, too,” said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. “There are a lot of bright signs, and you have to keep everything in balance.”

Balance might seem a hard thing to develop when nearly 2 percent of the PGA of America’s membership is fired in one afternoon by Dick’s Sporting Goods. But beyond those headlines of doom and gloom is the positive progress report from GolfTEC, the golf-instruction franchises that utilize a patented motion-capture analysis technology to teach more lessons than any single entity in golf. It’s in the middle of a record-setting year for its 190 facilities nationwide in terms of revenues, lessons and number of locations, and according to co-founder and CEO Joe Assell, it will be hiring an additional 100 PGA professionals over the next six months. Its business has doubled in the past five years. 

“While others reference macro trends and complain about long-term declines, we focus on growing our business one golfer at a time,” Assell said. “The success of GolfTEC is built on making better golfers. When people shoot lower scores they play more often and enjoy the game more. Golf needs this now, because it’s the fuel that will help our industry grow across the board.”

On the front lines, the news of rounds played can be viewed in two ways. Certainly, the sheer numbers of rounds are down and weather has been a large factor. This June was one of the six wettest Junes in the United States in the past 120 years. But a look inside those down numbers shows an increase in golf being played when the weather cooperates. The average rounds-per-day-open through June 2014 was up 2.7 percent compared to 2013. Twenty-one states reported rounds played were up in June. 

The sale of hard goods in golf, while down this year, is still up from a decade ago.

Joe Munsch, president and CEO of Texas-based golf-course management firm Eagle Golf, thinks the sky-is-falling reports have been overstated. He cites a National Golf Foundation report that suggests in addition to the 25 million golfers in the U.S., there are 27 million others interested in playing golf. 

“To me, that sounds like there is more opportunity to grow the game than there is a threat that the sport is losing favor,” he said. “We have to find a way to introduce new players to the game in a way that starts off fun, doesn’t take six hours, and does not intimidate the beginners.”

Maybe out of desperation, but in a systematic effort, the game is doing just that, arguably more so than at any time in its history. There have been documented success stories with alternative golf forms like larger holes and the soccer-golf hybrid FootGolf, as well as the enthusiasm behind the TopGolf driving-range craze. Even the once-staid USGA has embraced the nine-hole round as a solution for the over-scheduled, lapsed golfer. 

The PGA of America-sponsored Get Golf Ready program, which offers five lessons to adults for about $100, has been a continued proven driver of interest, says Ted Bishop, president of the PGA of America. At the junior level, Bishop also points to the growth in participation in just one year of the Drive, Chip and Putt Competition. In its first year, qualifying events were offered in just 14 states, but its second season shows the program is in all 50 states. The PGA Junior League, which is a team-based Little League-like approach to junior golf, is in just its third year and involves more than 7,000 facilities and more than 20,000 youngsters, double what it was a year ago. Bishop estimates in the next five years, the PGA Junior League could involve 50,000 players, up from zero just two years ago. 

“This is a real barometer of the future of the game,” said Bishop, who also coaches a team at Legends Golf Club in Indiana, where he is the general manager. “The interaction between kids has been so impressive to me, and that clearly has led to increased interest. Then, you add in that the parents of these kids, who are themselves not golfers, are developing an interest in the game because of their kids’ interest."

Bishop makes an even more salient point about the economy of golf. Rather than the perception that the game is too expensive, he notes that 80 percent of the rounds played are at public golf courses where the average green fee for 18 holes is $28.

“These parents are the millennials, the people you’re talking about trying to get into the game,” Bishop said. “When you’re looking at your recreational budget and what you can do together as a family, I think more people are going to say, ‘Golf is something we can do.’ ”

Bishop and other leaders believe young people are not only the catalysts for golf’s future, but the strongest elements of golf’s present. Finchem points to The First Tee reaching a record 3.5 million youngsters in the last year. That’s a powerful number when you realize that a traditional, outdoor, analog game like golf is somehow energizing a nation that is eschewing physical education, battling a growing childhood-obesity problem and fighting a culture that sees kids spending nearly eight hours a day in front of screens. 

Golf’s youth numbers are even more encouraging when a study from U.S. News & World Report showed that youth participation in football, baseball, basketball and soccer is on the decline. 

In his 20 years at the helm of the PGA Tour, Finchem has seen the professional game through incredible growth and challenging economic times. He cautions about focusing an assessment of the game’s strength on “a pinpoint piece of data.” He talks a more positive game than the stories of last week might have you believing. 

“I think we have to work harder in today’s world to get people to try the game and get into the game, and we have to do some things that we really haven’t done in the past to help with that,” he said. “Really, it comes back to the youth, reaching out to youth. You can’t expect youth to come to the game, you have to bring the game to young people. We’re dealing with it -- we’ve got to get better at it -- but I see a lot of bright spots. I’m very bullish on the future of the game both here in the United States and globally, where it’s growing quite nicely. And with golf going in the Olympics, that’s going to be accelerated.”

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News & Tours

Sorry, Tiger Woods, Tim Finchem isn't inclined to give you special treatment

By Sam Weinman

The No. 125 ranked player in the FedEx Cup points standing right now is Charlie Beljan. That's worth noting because somewhere in the secret PGA Tour commissioner's handbook there is probably a clause that says you're not allowed to outwardly root for Tiger Woods more than you would for Charlie Beljan.

Related: Tiger gives a lesson to Lindsey and wins at mini-golf

Or something like that. The point is that as the FedEx Cup Playoffs draw nearer, Tim Finchem faces the very real prospect of the tour's prized playoff series being contested without the tour's most marketable player. Currently 215th in the FedEx Cup standings with just 45 points, Woods likely needs a win either this week at Firestone or next week in the PGA Championship to qualify for the Barclays, the first leg of the playoffs, in three weeks at Ridgewood Country Club.


Barring a dramatic Woods resurgence, it would be the third time in the eight-year history of the FedEx Cup that the 14-time major champion would be absent from the entirety of the playoffs. In one of those years, 2008, Woods was unable to play after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery. But in 2011 and again this year, he returned to competition in mid-summer after missing an extended period due to injury, and thus had a limited window to earn points.

Would the tour ever consider a medical exemption into the playoffs for elite players like Woods?

Finchem mulled that question over for only a brief moment on Tuesday.

"Ah, no," Finchem said at a press conference to promote the Barclays. "And the reason I say that is the competition is set up, it's not just a playoff event. It's a yearlong competition. Then you would say, I would have to start fiddling with field sizes. So it kind of muddies up the comparative nature of the competition."

So those are the breaks for Woods. Or maybe not. There is, after all, the chance that he earns his way into the field playing two golf courses where he's won before (eight times at Firestone, once, in the 2000 PGA Championship, at Valhalla). Maybe the commissioner won't be outwardly rooting, but you can bet he'll be watching closely.

Related: The top 10 moments in FedEx Cup history

"He's got a couple tournaments coming up where he's won on both golf courses and one on which he's won a lot of times (eight)," Finchem said. "So I'm not one of those who are pessimistic about his immediate or long term future in the sport."

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News & Tours

After winning the British Open, Rory McIlroy decides to "move on and move forward"

By Dave Shedloski

AKRON, Ohio -- With a third major title secured and the chance to return to No. 1 looming this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Rory McIlroy said he hasn't dwelled much on his British Open victory two weeks ago at Royal Liverpool, even if it was the most coveted major for the young man from Northern Ireland.

"I've obviously had a bit of time to reflect after the Open and everything, but just decided I wanted to move on and move forward," McIlroy said Tuesday at Firestone C.C.


Well, yes, he's moving forward -- after quaffing a few beverages from the claret jug, taking it out on the town in Belfast with his friends and capturing pictures of it in various locations, including, for some reason, atop the toilet.

Related: Rory and Jagermeister: An unauthorized history

Yeah, he's had his fun. But now McIlroy gets back to business, hoping to ride his newfound momentum to further conquests starting at this limited-field World Golf Championship. The following week is the year's final major, the PGA Championship at Valhalla GC, where he'll surely be the prohibitive favorite. And the FedEx Cup Playoffs and Race to Dubai remain in the not too distant future, with the Ryder Cup sandwiched between them.

"There's a lot of big tournaments left this year, a lot of golf left to play, and a lot of things I still want to achieve," said McIlroy, 25, who has risen to No. 2 in the world behind Adam Scott. "World No. 1 is a big goal of mine. I've never won a World Golf Championship. That's another thing. I've got three majors but never won one of these. That's another thing I'd like to knock off the list. So there's a lot of stuff still to play for."

Not that there hasn't been stuff to play for in the past, but McIlroy hasn't always played to his potential. Accompanying his occasional hot streaks, like his burst in the FedEx Cup playoffs in 2012 following his record eight-stroke PGA victory at Kiawah Island, have been notable periods of indifference.

At Hoylake, Tiger Woods noted, bluntly, that his fellow Nike teammate has lacked consistency, a hallmark of Woods' career. "When he gets it going, he gets it going. When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad," Woods said. "If you look at his results, he's kind of that way. Very similar to what Phil [Mickelson] does. He has his hot weeks and he has his weeks where he's off. It's no right way or wrong way. But it's just the nature of how he plays."

McIlroy doesn't disagree. "I think for me it's all a mental thing," he said. "If I can get myself in the right frame of mind week in, week out, and give myself some little mental triggers throughout the week, like I did at the Open Championship, then, hopefully, I'll have a lot more of those 'on' weeks. . . . But definitely, if you said there's one thing I'd like to get better at, it would just be a little bit more consistency in there. Hopefully, I'm on the right path to try and do that."

He already is, frankly, having not finished outside the top 25 in 10 PGA Tour starts this year while adding a victory at the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship in May following his celebrated breakup with his fiance, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

Related: 19 things you should know about Rory McIlroy

With three legs of the career Grand Slam in his possession, McIlroy can set his sights higher, although that is nothing new. He has talked in the past about going to bed thinking of golf and waking up thinking of the game. It's a mentality he'll continue to embrace in the hopes of embellishing his record.

"It's what I've always done. It's what I've always known. That's been my life since I was sort of 10 years old was golf," he said. "I think it's just waking up every morning with that drive to want to get better and to want to be the best. I talked about going to bed thinking about it as well, it's more about reflecting on what you've done that day. 'Have you become a better golfer than you were when you woke up that morning, or have you maybe not gotten better but made a step in the right direction to become a better player?' Yeah, that's the place that I'm in right now, and that's my main objective and my main focus. I feel like I'm playing well. I just want to continue to keep doing that."

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News & Tours

Fans once again can pick players' poison at the PGA Championship

By Mike Stachura

A year ago when the PGA of America offered fans the opportunity to choose the hole location at Oak Hill's 15th green for the final round of the PGA Championship, it ushered in a new era of fan interaction in tournament golf. It also gave a chance for the public to confound the best golfers in the world.

loop-pga-valhalla-16-hole-location-518.jpgThe PGA of America is doing it again this year at Valhalla, offering fans four choices on the brutish par-4 16th (above).

Voting runs through Aug. 9 at And if the early trend holds, fans seem to want to test the best under pressure. The current top choice is the diabolical back-left location.

Here's a PGA of America video highlighting the four choices, with commentary from Jack Nicklaus, who designed Valhalla, and Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America's course set-up guru.

Photo: Gary Kellner/The PGA of America via Getty Images

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News & Tours

Rory McIlroy's house in Florida looks amazing

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

There aren't many professions where a 25-year-old -- no matter how good he is at what he does -- can afford to buy a multi-million dollar mansion. Golf happens to be one of those professions, and when you're as a good as Rory McIlroy, buying a big house is less of a treat and more of a foregone conclusion.

As part of a summer-long marketing campaign, Nike photographed Rory McIlroy at his more than 15,000-square-foot, $9.5 million house in Jupiter, Fla. The house has six bedrooms and nine bathrooms, according to Back 9 Network, who first spotted Nike's campaign.

You may remember last August, as part of a different marketing campaign for Bose, Rory gave a quick tour of his house and talked about why he likes living there.

"Walking through the door, I'm thinking, 'I can't believe I actually live in a place like this,' " Rory says in the video. "It's something I really appreciate and is something I definitely don't take for granted."

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July 28, 2014

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