The Local Knowlege

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: When the Skins Game provided golf fans a Thanksgiving-weekend feast

Thanksgiving and golf are rarely part of the same conversation these days, unless you find yourself in cahoots with family members to sneak out for a few holes while the turkey was in the oven. That was not, however, always the case. Those familiar with hitting persimmon drivers can recall when Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson debuted a new event in 1983, one that had an impressive 25-year run.

loop-skins-game-original-foursome-518.jpgThe Skins Game, a two-day made-for-TV spectacle, with nine holes aired on Saturday and another nine on Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, was an immediate hit, thanks to what at the time was a impressive purse -- $360,000 that first season, a year in which the leading money winner on tour earned slightly more than $426,000. But when the money wasn't so mega any more and the Hall of Fame caliber stars gave way to lesser lights, ratings took a dive and the event folded in May 2009. (Senior and LPGA skins games also had a short lifespan.)

Interestingly enough, however, the Skins Game was actually not the PGA Tour's first Thanksgiving-related event. Going through the record books from 1934 to present, the tour made a pair of stops at Pinehurst in mid-November 1935, then played the Augusta Open (1936) and Columbia Open (1938) on Thanksgiving weekend each year. From 1944 to 1972, the tour had several events start on Thanksgiving Day and finish on the weekend. Sam Snead won in 1944 in Portland. The first Heritage Classic was held Nov. 27-30, 1969, with Palmer winning by three. The Heritage was held on Thanksgiving weekend through 1972, which ended the tour's Turkey Day weekend scheduling. 

But back to the Skins Game, an unofficial event whose first foursome made it a must view (as did having legendary baseball play-by-play announcer Vin Scully as an announcer). Each hole had a monetary value, and if a player had the lowest score on a hole, he won that total. If the hole was tied by two or more, the hole's money rolled over to the next hole. Though the drama would have been even greater if they had been playing for their own money, the excitement players felt when they made a huge skin was palpable.

Through the years, several indelible images were burned into viewers' memory: a rules controversy in Year 1 between Player and Watson; Arnie, wearing green velvet pants, hitting his ball with his backside against a cactus only protected by a bag cover; Lee Trevino acing in 1987; and Fred Couples winning five times, earning the unofficial title Mr. Skins and so much money (more than $3.5 million) that the end of the year became known as the Silly Season as more big-money, limited-field events popped up. 

World tour schedules have changed, and there isn't really much of a Silly Season anymore. Still, wouldn't an occasional Skins Game, perhaps just held every two, three or four years with the top four players on the World Rankings, be a nice revival of a classic golf event? 

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Tenuous golf connection

That time Golf Digest was prominently featured in "Seinfeld"

The beauty of an all-time great TV show like "Seinfeld" is that no matter how long it's been off the air, watching reruns never gets old. You also never know when you're going to catch something you missed the first, second, or even 17th time around.

Related: The funniest golf moments on "Seinfeld"

Such was the case last week while I was watching "The Fatigues," which originally aired on Halloween in 1996. If you're not familiar with the sixth episode of the penultimate eighth season, it's the one where Elaine -- who is running the J. Peterman Catalogue at the time -- keeps promoting a guy wearing military fatigues because she's intimidated by him.

And since "Seinfeld" episodes always contain multiple plots that all seem to smartly weave together, it's also the one in which Jerry winds up mentoring hack comedian Kenny Bania, George has trouble reading a book about risk management, and Kramer urges Frank Costanza to come out of retirement as a chef to help him host a Jewish singles night in this classic scene:

Oh yeah, yada, yada, yada, it's also the episode that features "Golf Digest." Just look at this frame of Jerry talking to Bania on the street:

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Now that's product placement.

Of course, it was just a coincidence (we might think otherwise if creator Larry David, an avid golfer, hadn't left after the seventh season), but the January 1996 issue (we went through our archives) that touted the magazine's "50 Greatest Tips Ever" was/remains pretty useful to display. Here's a closer look at the cover:

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Surprisingly, not much has changed in golf in the nearly two decades since. That magazine only cost $1 less than it would today on newsstands, it contained a story about Europe beating the U.S. at the Ryder Cup, and it featured Dan Jenkins tweaking Tiger Woods by not listing him among the 72 greatest golfers of all time. OK, so Woods was still six months away from turning pro.

The Grind: Tiger's letter, Lydia's box of cash, and Holly's steamy photo shoot

In any matter, Golf Digest appeared in an episode of "Seinfeld" and we have the proof. Now excuse us while we go celebrate like it's Festivus.

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Hit the Dominican Republic for an all-inclusive golf getaway

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Punta Cana, Dominican Republic has long been a prime destination for experiencing perfect weather and some of the finest white sand beaches in the world--and doing it in affordable, all-inclusive luxury. 

Now, there are even more reasons to go. The Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort is offering a hybrid golf and all-inclusive experience at its 2,000-room property--half of which is adults-only. For rates starting at $160 per night per person, you get the resort's traditional all-inclusive experience--food and drink at any of the 14 restaurants and 16 bars on property, and access to amenities like a casino and water park--plus a daily round at the P.B Dye-designed Lakes course. Threaded around 25 inland lakes and through a mangrove forest, the Lakes is the ideal combination of challenging and playable. 

It's easy to get a direct flight daily from New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami and Charlotte, and to understand why Punta Cana is one of the fastest growing airports in the world in terms of traffic. All you have to do is look at the December weather forecast. The average high is 75, while the average low is 70.

Don't forget your passport. 

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News & Tours

David Leadbetter is eyeing one major in particular for Lydia Ko next year

Lydia Ko capped off an incredible rookie campaign on the LPGA Tour with a win in the season finale that earned her the biggest payday ($1.5 million) in tour history. But her coach, David Leadbetter, already has his eyes on 2015's major championships.

Related: Lydia Ko's box of cash and Holly Sonders' steamy photo shoot

"Within the next year would not surprise me at all," Leadbetter told The New Zealand Herald. "She's 17 and hasn't played many majors, so it really is just a matter of time."

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Ko will play one major, the newly-named All Nippon Airways Championship (formerly the Kraft Nabisco), before turning 18. The report said Leadbetter, who started working with Ko just over a year ago, feels his newest prized student is particularly suited for the U.S. Women's Open due to her "patient approach" and "short-game mastery." The tournament will be held for the first time at Lancaster Country Club (Pa.) July 6-12.

Of course, Ko winning any major shouldn't surprise anyone at this point. Despite her youth, Ko has flirted with the top of the Rolex Rankings and the already five-time LPGA winner is currently No. 3 behind Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis.

Related: Golf's all-time biggest phenoms

Park happens to be the youngest U.S. Women's Open winner ever at 19 years and 11 months in 2008. Ko's April birthday means she'll have two cracks to break that record. We're certainly not betting against her getting it done.

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News & Tours

Missing Links: Jordan Spieth charming them Down Under

Stories of interest you might have missed…

Jordan Spieth is playing in the Australian Open this week and not surprisingly has charmed the Aussie media. “Articulate and a self-confessed golf history buff, it is hard to imagine Spieth is still only 21,” Adam Pengilly of the Sydney Morning Herald writes. “The American spoke fondly of the Australian Open and turned the table on reporters asking precise details about the history of the tournament, despite it being his first visit Down Under.”

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(Getty Images photo)

“In a fitting climax, Henrik Stenson turned a good year into a great one, Rory McIlroy took the tape in the Race To Dubai and alongside him in second place on Sunday were his two Ryder Cup team-mates, Victor Dubuisson and Justin Rose…The [European] Tour has never been in a better place since its inception back in the early 70s and it starts the 2015 season with much promise,” Ewen Murray of Sky Sports writes.

***

“Brandt Snedeker was in Japan for the Bridgestone Open. Jordan Spieth was in Japan last week at the Dunlop Phoenix, and he's at the Australian Open this week. Webb Simpson was in Japan. Jason Dufner went to Thailand,” Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press writes in this update on PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem’s vision of a world tour.

***

Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 U.S. Open, is in a spectacular setting on the water southwest of Tacoma, Wash., yet it presents a logistical nightmare for the USGA as it searches for ways to transport fans to the site. “The nonprofit USGA had looked into building a temporary Sounder train rail stop within 200 feet of the course,” Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes in this update on the situation. “But last week, after 16 months of meetings with Sound Transit and railway officials, the USGA said the plan wouldn’t be logistically or financially feasible.”

***

“Often called the Jackie Robinson of golf, [Charlie] Sifford might have endured even more than Robinson,” William C. Rhoden of the New York Times writes regarding Sifford receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “There was no national scrutiny, no daily media, to record his struggles. There was no Branch Rickey to run interference, no teammates to lean on. There was Sifford, walking alone on golf courses where hateful spectators were free to spit, swear and intimidate. It was awful.”

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Health & Fitness

Thanksgiving: Your seven-step game plan

Roughly 24 hours from now, you're probably going to be knee-deep in cranberry sauce and stuffing. In all honesty, so will I. However, Thanksgiving doesn't have to be something you regret on Friday.

Follow these seven steps to give yourself a fighting chance to avoid turkey-day hangover.

the-loop-thanksgiving-meal-lg.jpg1. Exercise in the morning. Aside from preparing side dishes and possibly picking up relatives at the airport, Thanksgiving morning is usually pretty quiet. Ideally you'd play nine or 18 holes—walking, of course. But if you can't do that, set aside 30 minutes for a brisk walk, run, bike ride or trip to the gym.

2. Drink tons of water—all day and all night. Not only is it important to stay hydrated while eating foods high in sodium and consuming diuretic beverages such as alcohol, drinking water also satiates your appetite. You won't be able to eat as much without feeling stuffed.

3. Snack on veggies and fruits. You know you're going to eat a heavy meal loaded with calories. So avoid the pretzels and potato chips and stick to the carrots and grapes until dinner.

4. Choose whiskey/spirits over beer and wine. This might seem counterintuitive, but we're talking about reining in calories, and you tend to drink less and drink slower when it's hard liquor.

5. Eat slowly. Put your fork down between bites. Chew thoroughly. The longer it takes to eat, the more time you give your brain to signal you that you're full, so you won't overeat and feel crappy. Be the last to leave the table.

6. Clean up. Take the garbage out. Do the dishes. Get moving after dinner and you'll be on your way to burning off what you just ate. At the least, take the dog for a walk.

7. Eat a light snack before bed.
Most Thanksgiving dinners are earlier than your typical dinner time. You'll be tempted to go for another helping or a turkey sandwich overnight if you don't give yourself something to light to snack on later in the evening.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Gear & Equipment

We need your help finding the best clubfitters

If you've been heeding the advice of our equipment editors, you've most certainly been fit for your clubs. It has been the long held opinion of not just us but every corner of the industry that dialing in your specs is the surest way not only toward increased consistency but tangible and often immediate improvements in distance, accuracy and most importantly, your score.

It's in that light that Golf Digest once again is planning to rank America's 100 Best Clubfitters this spring. This will mark our third ranking since 2011, and we are seeking your input for the best facilities to visit for a club fitting. 

For those of you who have been fit, was your fitter awesome? Has he or she helped get you into a set of clubs that has changed your game -- for the better? We want to know about it.  Please send us your nominations and stories via email (clubfitters@golfdigest.com), Facebook or Twitter by Dec. 5. We need the name of the fitting center (we rank the facility, not the individual), where it's located, and a link to the fitting location's website. Keep in mind, we only accept nominations for facilities that carry a range of major manufacturers and that are accessible to the public.

Thank you in advance for your input. We're psyched to see who's helping make the golf world a better, more fitted, place.

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Instruction

This is (sort of) what Chris Como and Tiger Woods are working on

In the golf world's version of a Supreme Court justice confirmation hearing, we're diving deep into the stacks to find anything we can about Chris Como, Tiger Woods' new coach.

Como is a relatively new name, so there's a natural curiosity about his background and his philosophy. And Tiger has historically told his teachers to keep radio silent about what they're working on, which leaves an information vacuum to fill.



This clip is a part of a 2013 presentation Como did about the importance of ground force in a golf swing. In English, it means that a big chunk of swing speed comes from pushing off properly and using the ground for leverage--a subject Como is almost certainly discussing with his client during the Woods 6.0 build.  

But probably not on a 10-meter diving platform.

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My Usual Game

Uh-oh: what's that white stuff on my golf course?

There wasn’t much snow to begin with, and most of what there was melted quickly, but Gary, our terrific superintendent, closed the course temporarily, because it was so cold that the remaining snow and frost were unlikely to go away before dark. That didn’t affect me directly, because I was traveling without my clubs for a little over a week, on a reporting assignment only tangentially related to golf. It didn’t affect Hacker (real name), either, because he had decided that, paradoxically, playing golf for three consecutive days with a broken finger had made the finger worse, not better. Still -- and I think I speak for everyone -- I am opposed to any form of weather that causes golf to be suspended. And then, on Monday, Gary closed our course for the season.

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Before the bad weather hit, I had an opportunity to test two new pieces of equipment. Both are from eBags, one of a select group of companies for which I am an unpaid shill. The first item is the eBags Crew Cooler II:

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It was designed as carry-on luggage for pilots and flight attendants, but it's perfectly suited to golf. It has an insulated cold compartment with a removable -- and replaceable -- waterproof liner, for beer and ice; it has a zippered top insulated compartment for stuff that doesn't have to be kept super cold, like sandwiches and Snickers bars; and it has lots of other useful features, including two mesh pouches, on the sides, for beverage bottles, plus a slot on the back that lets you slide the whole thing onto a roller bag, so that you can make it do double duty as a carry-on bag when you travel to play golf:

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I attached mine to my pushcart by tightening the shoulder strap around my golf bag:

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By doing that, I solved an age-old alcohol-transport problem, which Matt Manco, a reader in Louisiana, once addressed from the other direction, using his Sun Mountain Micro-Cart:

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Just above my Crew Cooler I attached another recent acquisition: an eBags Padded Pouch -- the blue thing in the photo below. It contains my laser rangefinder, and I like it much better than the case that came with the rangefinder, because it's softer (though padded!) and it doesn't stick out as much I used a little carabiner to attach it to the towel ring on my bag, along with (as you can see) a lot of other stuff:

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Padded Pouches come in sets of three, and they're incredibly useful for carrying or packing smallish delicate or annoying items, like phones, cameras, chargers, cables, batteries, power cords, whatever:

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I've got six, and I traveled with four of them last week, including one that I filled with the CDs of the audio version of Book Three of A Game of Thrones, which I listened to as I spent a week driving through Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California.

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MyUsualGame


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News & Tours

The Grind: Letters from Tiger, boxes of cash, and Holly's latest photo shoot

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we are still waiting to receive an angry letter from Tiger Woods. Has he not seen what we've been writing about his jeans for the past year? We've been relentless! On second thought, as much as it pains us to say it, Woods probably isn't one of our weekly readers. If he were, he'd have stepped up his denim game a long time ago. OK, on to (slightly) more important things. . .

WE'RE BUYING

Lydia Ko: With a playoff victory at the LPGA's CME Group Tour Championship, Ko not only won the season finale, but also claimed the tour's all-time biggest payday. Ko took home two trophies and a box containing $1 million in cash (nice touch, LPGA) for winning the tour's inaugural "Race to CME Globe." Keep in mind Ko turned pro about a year ago. How's that for good timing?

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Henrik Stenson: Another golf "race" ended in Dubai, and while Stenson couldn't catch Rory McIlroy for the season-long bonus, he managed to defend his title at the DP World Tour Championship. Nothing could ever top the Swede's 2013 in which he won the Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup to claim nearly $20 million in on-course earnings, but his 2014 wasn't bad, either. Hank the Tank is back to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking and No. 1 in the unofficial goofy trophy photos ranking:

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Chris Como: Tiger Woods is turning an old 39 soon. Como, 37, is a relatively young instructor who also happens to be a specialist in biomechanics. This seems to be a good match if Woods ever hopes to have another injury-free year, let alone challenge Jack Nicklaus' major mark. At least we hope it's a good match for Tiger's sake. Being a guest contributor to a website doesn't pay quite as well as being a superstar golfer.

Related: Pictures of PGA Tour wives and girlfriends

Stacy Lewis: While Ko was Sunday's big winner, it was Lewis who wrapped up all three major season-long awards. With her T-9, she clinched the LPGA's player of the year, finished first on the money list, and won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average. It's the second time in three years Lewis has won POY, but she's the first American to sweep those three distinctions in the same season since Betsy King in 1993. Congrats, Stacy, but we still think we'd rather have that box of cash.

WE'RE SELLING

Rafa Cabrera-Bello: Leading in Dubai with three holes to play, the Spaniard was in position for the biggest win of his career. Then he imploded. A double bogey on No. 16 was followed by another double bogey and Cabrera-Bello wound up T-9. Speaking of letting things get away from you quickly on the golf course. . .

John Hahn: How do you shoot 58 and only finish T-50 in a tournament? Easy. You back it up with a 78 the next day. The worst part of Hahn's remarkable 20-shot swing in the wrong direction was that it came in an event (European Tour Q School) where just finishing in the top 25 was the goal. Like Odell Beckham Jr.'s incredible catch coming in a loss by the New York Giants, Hahn's 58 will go down as one of the most useless great scores in golf history.

Related: 11 PGA Tour sleepers to watch in 2014-15

Engaged Paula Creamer: No, we're not jealous. We're just pointing out Creamer's struggles on the course as her wedding day approaches next month. After getting off to a good start in 2014 with a win and two T-3s in her first four events, Creamer had just one top 10 the rest of the year. That being said, she looks great and more importantly, she looks happy. We're looking forward to (hopefully) seeing the wedding photos and to seeing some better golf in 2015.

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ON TAP

Nothing to speak of other than the Australian Masters. Take a break, golf fans. You've earned it.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Random tournament fact: Of course, Thanksgiving used to mean the Skins Game. With that, we remember the last Skins Game in 2008 when (*Googles "Skins Game"*) K.J. Choi beat then two-time defending champion Stephen Ames. Yep, that might have something to do with this event not being around anymore.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

-- A 17-year-old will win next year's FedEx Cup: 1 million-to-1 odds

-- Fred Couples misses the Skins Game: 10-to-1 odds

-- Stephen Ames misses the Skins Game: LOCK

WARDROBE PHOTOS OF THE WEEK

Apparently, former Golf Channel host Holly Sonders did a photo shoot with Sports Illustrated at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Apparently, the photos aren't very, um, golf-y. . .

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WARDROBE MALFUNCTION PHOTO OF THE WEEK

What's worse than opening with a 76? Opening with a 76 and splitting open your pants. Luke Donald found out the hard way:

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Alcohol!" -- A smiling Lydia Ko after being handed a bottle of champagne moments after securing the biggest payday in LPGA history. Lydia Ko is awesome.

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THIS WEEK IN LINDSEY VONN RORY MCILROY MAKING US LOOK BAD WITH HER HIS TRAINING

@rorymcilroy I'll see your 400lbs and raise you 10! #Poker #GoBigOrGoHome 💪

A photo posted by Justin Rose (@justinprose99) on

Well played, Justin. Well played.

VIRAL VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

Rory made us feel a bit better with this self-described "fat, low, duck-hook runner":

And then there's this beauty from Tiger's new coach, Chris Como. Apparently, making a golf swing while in mid-air is difficult.

We give him an 'A' for his effort, but just a 6 for the landing.

THIS WEEK IN AMANDA DUFNER-JASON DUFNER PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION EXOTIC TRAVEL PHOTOS

While most people in the U.S. dealt with a brutal cold front, the Dufners seemed to enjoy their time in Thailand.

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THIS AND THAT

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Barack Obama and Derek Jeter enjoyed their first round of golf together so much that they stayed out to play another nine holes. It probably didn't hurt that they were playing Las Vegas' exclusive Shadow Creek. . . . Renato Paratore, 17, was one of 27 players to earn their European Tour cards for next season. If it weren't for Lydia Ko, the golf world would probably be making a bigger deal about this. . . . People are stealing disc golf baskets in Wisconsin. No, really. . . . Congrats to Director of Photography Christian Iooss for winning the 12th annual Golf Digest Turkey Putt. Instead of taking home a big box of cash, he had to settle for a turkey and taking some embarrassing photos.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Will the Skins Game ever return?

Who will wind up with more majors: Lydia or Rory?

What does it feel like to sit on $1 million in cash?

-- Alex Myers is an Associate Editor for GolfDigest.com. Feel free to email him and please follow him on Twitter since he has self-esteem issues.

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