The Local Knowlege

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

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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.

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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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Courses & Travel

How different is Augusta National from the members' tees?

By Alex Myers

We know how Augusta National plays for the pros at the Masters, but how does it play for its members? A look at the scorecard reveals some interesting facts about one of the most famous courses in the world.

Related: Augusta National's unwritten rules

Golf.com's Eamon Lynch was one of the fortunate winners of this year's media lottery and had the opportunity to play the day after Bubba Watson slipped on a green jacket for the second time. He tweeted this photo of the current scorecard:

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First off, just look at the yardage. In an age where courses are being stretched out -- and certainly Augusta National has done the same for the pros -- it's neat that Augusta's members' tees have remained a very playable 6,365 yards. Of course, the greens still provide just a bit of a challenge.

Related: Photos from one editor's round at Augusta National

But the handicap ratings are where we want to focus. For the members, the four par 5s play as the toughest four holes on the course. While it's not unusual for par 5s to be rated tough (there are more opportunities for an average golfer to hit a bad shot), this is certainly a huge difference than how these holes play for the pros. Even with Nos. 13 and 15 not yielding as many eagles as usual at this year's tournament, the four par 5s were easily the four easiest holes. No. 2 is the No. 1 handicap hole, but it played the second-easiest during the Masters.

Meanwhile, members rarely give strokes on Augusta National's four par 3s. This is also fairly standard, but those holes were no pushover during competition. No. 16 played as the easiest non-par 5, but No. 6 played as the 10th most difficult hole and Nos. 12 (4th toughest) and 4 (2nd toughest) gave the players fits. The 70-yard difference in the members' tee to the Masters tee on No. 4 might have something to do with pros making almost 10 times as many over-par scores than birdies for the four days.

What about the par 4s? No. 11 was the hardest for the pros, which shouldn't be any surprise. The 505-hole averaged nearly a half stroke over par during the tournament, but for the members, it's just the No. 8 handicap hole. No. 1 (9 handicap) also plays considerably tougher in the tournament (3rd toughest), while No. 9 plays much easier (12th toughest during the Masters, but the No. 7 handicap hole).

Related: The defining shots of the 2014 Masters

So, what's the overall slope and rating of the course? Augusta National doesn't have official USGA ratings, but uses its own system established by co-founder Clifford Roberts instead (of course). However, that didn't stop Dean Knuth, the developer of the USGA's slope and rating system, from investigating. He determined before the 2010 Masters that from the tips, Augusta National had a course rating of 78.1 and a slope of 137.

That doesn't give us a rating or slope from the members tees, but does it really matter? We'll offer an unofficial rating of the greens: they're hard. You don't have to be a member to know that.

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Style

Impact: Billy the Kid claims his first PGA Tour title

By Alex Holmes

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"I'm never going to be a flat-line guy. My heart is going to be on my sleeve with every shot." -- Billy Horschel


Horschel secured his first PGA Tour win in all sorts of style a year ago at the Zurich Classic. It began by him making six straight birdies during the final round at TPC Louisiana to get into contention on a weather-plagued day. Then he holed a 27-foot birdie putt on the 18th (after waiting out a 50-minute delay to play the final hole) to secure a final-round 64, matching the course record and holding off D.A points by a one stroke. Finally, there was his exuberant celebration, the always emotive Horschel pumping his arms and letting out a triumphant yell.

The 27-year-old former Florida Gator All-American returns to the bayou this week to navigate his way around Pete Dye's TPC track and defend his 2013 title.

Getty Images (2013)
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Instruction

Swing emergency? Fix it with #HelpMeGolfDigest

By Matthew Rudy

General tips from the game's best instructors are great, but everybody needs a one-to-one swing intervention from time to time. It doesn't matter if you're topping tee shots, shanking wedges, leaving it in the bunker or yipping your short putts. Take a video of your problem and help could be just a hashtag away. 

Post your quick swing clip to Twitter or Instagram (like the one shown below) and add the hashtag #HelpMeGolfDigest. Every week, we'll show the most interesting clips to a select group of our best teachers for a personalized analysis and swing prescription.    


To have the best chance to get your video picked, follow a few basic guidelines to produce easy-to-analyze footage. Instagram limits videos to 15 seconds, and Vine videos are just six seconds, so use the time wisely. Pick the "best" example of the swing you don't want your playing partners to see, and shoot it from the appropriate angle. You can find a simple, thorough guide to shooting a swing with your smartphone here. Good lighting and interesting backgrounds always help, too. 

We'll be picking a handful of swings every week, so don't hesitate to submit more of your problem swings throughout the year if your first one doesn't make the cut.   

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