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News & Tours

Patrick Reed hit his ball into a hazard next to a boat named "top five"

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- This will probably prove to be the most ironic thing to happen all season.

It all started back in March when, after collecting his third victory in seven months, Patrick Reed said that he was "one of the top five players in the world."

Related: Fact Check: Is Patrick Reed really a top five player in the world?

Fast forward to Saturday at the RBC Heritage. Reed, one-under for the day and about to hit his second shot into the difficult par-4 18th, pulled his shot into the hazard just left of the green. He waded down into the marsh and tried to take a swing at it, but the club twisted in his hands and the ball took off almost 90 degrees left.

Where did his ball finish? Next to a boat, the biggest in the harbor, named "top five." All that led to a double bogey, helping Reed to a one-over 72 on the day.

Here's the boat:

And here's a video of the whole incident:

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Gear & Equipment

Tip stability is key with Mitsubishi Rayon's new Bassara P-Series shafts

By Mike Stachura

Blink your eyes. That takes about three-tenths of a second. You know what else takes three-tenths of a second? Your downswing.

That short span of time places particular demands on a graphite shaft because when the shaft bends, it deforms. But shaft engineers believe it needs to rapidly return to its shape before impact to produce the greatest consistency in distance and direction. That’s where tip stability in a shaft can be important, and it’s what Mitsubishi Rayon is trying to do with its latest lightweight shaft, the Bassara P-Series (the “P” is for the mythical phoenix).


Designed for distance, the P-Series, which ranges from 39 to 59 grams, uses an elastic titanium-nickel wire through the tip section. The alloy is designed to help the shaft rapidly revert to its original cross-section. Available through authorized retailers, the suggested retail price is $400.

Follow @MikeStachura

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My Usual Game

Last year's golf water: Is it safe to drink?

By David Owen

Last summer, I played in a tournament called the Danbury Amateur, along with several other guys from my club. We got two rounds at Richter Park, a semi-free lunch each day, and a really nice insulated water bottle, which I used for the rest of the golf season. 


I forgot about the water bottle during the winter, though, and for several months it rolled around in the trunk of my car, along with a golf-ball box containing six or seven loose golf balls. The water bottle and the ball box made quite a racket when I cornered hard, etc., but as soon as I had parked my car in my garage they stopped rolling around and I forgot about them.


This spring, I put my golf clubs back in the trunk, and brought the water bottle inside my house, to refill it. When I opened it, I noticed that there was a little bit of water still in it, from last year, and suddenly I wondered whether anything bad would happen to me if I drank the leftover golf water instead of pouring it out.

Was this a dumb idea? I don't know. Check back in a few days and see if I'm still here.
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News & Tours

7 pictures that summarize round three at the RBC Heritage

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- After biblical rain on Friday, the heavens held-over on Saturday at the RBC Heritage. Play started at 8 a.m., and the decent weather allowed the 65 players left on the course to finish their second rounds and all of the players to finish their third rounds. "They've done well considering the conditions," Charl Schwartzel said. "The golf course has held up really well...and I'm looking forward to a good Sunday."

On the golf course, Luke Donald and his majestic follow-through jumped into the 54-hole lead on moving day. An eagle on the par-5 second helped Donald to a five-under 66 on Saturday, leaving him two-shots clear of nearest-chaser John Huh. "The last eight months have been a little bit of a transition period for me," Donald said, "but I'm starting to feel really comfortable with my game."

The Thompson family continued their crusade through the golf world on Saturday. Lexi's brother Nicholas played his way into T-3 after a three-under 68, joining a crowded group three shots back. "It's going to be an exciting day tomorrow," Thompson said. "As long as we don't have to play 18, 18 times."

Here the two Thompson's are at the 2008 U.S. Women's Open plotting their impending takeover.

In non-professional news, Matt Fitzpatrick continued being a boss at Harbour Town. The amateur shot a bogey-free 69 on Saturday, leaving him just six shots off the lead. He may not be hitting as many greens as some of those in the field, but when you're gaining more than one and a half strokes on the field putting like he is this week, it doesn't really matter.

We went hunting at the RBC Heritage for any putting tips from the pros. What did we find? Well, before their round, none of the pros we watched spent any significant time hitting long putts. It was all about drilling home the short ones. Take note, amateurs everywhere.

Tim Herron showed John Daly who was boss on Friday. While Daly missed the cut, Herron employed a modified claw putting grip while practicing before his round that featured a cigarette between his index and middle finger. He's even after 54-holes, leaving him T-34.

Can you tell where Jonathan Byrd went to school? The Clemson grad totally played to the South Carolina crowd on Saturday, dressing basically like the school's mascot en-route to a third-round 73, leaving him in T-62 after three days.


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Here's how six PGA Tour pros practice putting before they go play

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- An hour spent on the practice putting green watching PGA Tour pros before they go play can teach you a lot.

First, think what many amateurs do: most usually throw down a few balls, quickly eye-up that hole 30 feet away and pull the trigger. They do that a couple more times, and toss in maybe a few sneaky short putts before heading to the first tee.

Related: Adam Scott's warm-up routine before beginning his Masters defense

"Ask any of the guys out here, they all have specific routines they do before they go play," Graeme McDowell said earlier in the week, a thought echoed by Zach Johnson: "I've got certain things that I plan to do every time I go play, like most of these guys."

I spent an hour before the third round of the RBC Heritage watching what a selection of PGA Tour pros do before they go play. Almost everything varied from one pro to another, but all seemed to share one common trait: None of the pros I saw spent any significant time hitting long putts. Practically all their time was spent drilling short putts from inside 10 feet.

Related: LPGA Players' Pre-Round Routines

Here are some of the drills preferred by the pros:

Jordan Spieth

With three golf balls, Spieth spent about 10 minutes hitting putts with just his right hand. After that, he hit three golf balls from eight feet, gradually working his way around the hole and moving farther away until he got to 12 feet.

Patrick Reed

Reed spend most of his time drilling seven foot putts -- also in sets of three -- lining up over a mirror and string to make sure everything moved on line.

Pat Perez

Perez had his caddie video his putting stroke from ground-level by the hole as he hit three sets of nine foot putts from different angles (all the same distance).

Billy Horschel

Horschel spent 20 minutes hitting nine foot putts with two tees resting a few feet away from the ball's starting position. The tees were spread about a golf ball's width apart. The goal was to start the putt on line so it would travel through the tees and into the hole.

Jonathan Byrd

Byrd was one of the more technical players on the green. Set up about 12 feet away from the hole, Byrd hit putts using a system that forced his putter to travel on the same line -- straight back and through -- throughout the stroke.

Brandt Snedeker

Snedeker's favorite drill seemed to be when he set four balls at different spots around the hole, three, six and nine feet away. His goal was to make all 12 putts in a row, working his way from shortest to longest. If he missed one, he would start again from three feet.

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News & Tours

Move over John Daly: Tim Herron has perfected the cigarette-holding claw putting grip

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- John Daly may be multi-tasking like a champ at the RBC Heritage -- on Friday he wore pants with ladies on them, smoked and putted all at the same time -- but it seems Tim "Lumpy" Herron is rising to the challenge. 

On the putting green Saturday before his third round, Herron, who sits one under after 36 holes at the RBC Heritage -- employed a variation of his claw putting grip that our Matt Rudy wrote about a day earlier.

Related: "Dear Lumpy" Advice Column Archive

Between the index and middle finger of his right hand, Herron held a lit cigarette as he rolled putts all around Harbour Town's practice putting green.

Here's a picture of Herron's modified claw grip in action:


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Places We Like: SoMa StrEat Food, San Francisco

By Matthew Rudy

San Francisco is known for the diversity of its food scene, and no place in town is a better microcosm of that diversity than SoMa StrEat Food Park -- a collection of food truck vendors on square-block lot under the 101 Freeway in the South of Market neighborhood.

Different vendors rotate in and out every day, so you never know what you're going to get -- which is a wonderful thing. Luckily for us, our visit coincided with that of one of the most popular trucks -- the unrepentantly fat-saturated Bacon Bacon

Owner Jim Angelus deals both standard and eclectic pig-based selections from the side of his icon Black, white and pink step truck. The bacon double cheeseburger is delicious, but the bacon fried chicken sandwich is worth the cross-country flight all by itself. The chicken is coated in a combination of panko and chopped bacon and fried, then served topped with cole slaw on a fresh brioche roll. 

Even with the competing smells coming from the burrito and pizza trucks nearby, the porky goodness wafting from the Bacon Bacon truck made it hard to understand why neighbors near the truck's home base cafe petitioned to get it closed down because of the food smell last year. Happily, they resolved their differences and the Haight-Asbury walk-up will reopen this weekend.  

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Golf & Business

'It's nice to look out the window at a golf course,' says course owner, stating the obvious

By Peter Finch

Bloomberg had an interesting piece on the golf-course business the other day. Focusing on the U.S. market for golf-course sales, it concluded that things have picked up quite a bit. The article shows the average sales price of a course at $4.25 million these days. While that’s down 42 percent from the 2006 average ($7.33 million), it’s a gain of 57 percent from 2012’s average ($2.7 million).

Bloomberg got these numbers from Marcus & Millichap’s National Golf & Resort Properties Group. Here's a link to a little video about the data, which made the news service’s “Single Best Chart” feature.

The article quotes oil exec Ben Kenny, who bought Georgia's Horseshoe Bend Country Club (pictured above) for $6.1 million and has spent more than $20 million on improvements in the past two and a half years. The course was originally designed by Joe Lee, though Bob Cupp oversaw its recent renovation. It was enough of a do-over that Horseshoe Bay made Golf Digest’s list of Best New Courses in 2013.

A quote of note from the owner: "It’s nice to look out the window at a golf course. It beats looking at a stock portfolio that 13 guys are manipulating to try to beat me.”

I get what he’s saying. But just for the record, a $20 million portfolio invested in the S&P 500 two and a half years ago would have been pretty nice to look at, too.

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Gear & Equipment

There's actually plenty inside the hollow design of Tour Edge's CB PROh irons

By Mike Stachura

Everybody likes the idea of a distance iron, until you don't need a distance iron. That's the thinking behind the Tour Edge Exotics CB PROh ($600), which marries hollow, thin-face designs in the middle and long irons with compact, cavity-back short irons.


The 8-iron through pitching wedge are cast of a softer 431 stainless steel for feel and control. The rest of the irons fuse a forged 420 stainless-steel face insert with the 431 body.

The hollow approach is similar to recent iron-like hybrids from Adams, Callaway, Cleveland, Mizuno, Ping and Titleist. The face (only about two millimeters thick) is designed to flex at the USGA limit for springlike effect. The hollow construction promotes a more stable head on off-center strikes. Individual long irons—even an 18-degree 2-iron—can be purchased separately ($100).

Follow @MikeStachura

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News & Tours

Missing links: Golf’s Future 'bleak' post Tiger and golf with 15-inch holes

By John Strege

Stories of interest you might have missed...

What will professional golf be without Tiger Woods? We got an indication from the Masters, which Woods missed for the first time in 20 years. “Many people predicted that the tournament’s bottom line, from television ratings to corporate attendees, would suffer. Those people were right,” writes Jake Simpson in the Atlantic, beneath the headline, “Golf's Future After Tiger Woods: Bleak.”

Tiger back.jpg
(Getty Images photo)

Can golf recover from the malaise that has plagued it in recent years? The answer: A definite maybe. “Course owners and real estate investors are betting on a comeback following a downturn that was ‘by far the toughest ever in the industry,’” write Nadja Brandt and Mike Buteau in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Many believe the game does need help to recover, hence this story by Bill Pennington in the New York Times, with the headline, “In a Hole, Golf Considers Digging a Wider One.” Among the suggestions: Foot golf and offering golfers an option of playing rounds with 15-inch diameter holes.

The 15-inch hole idea was put to the test post-Masters, with Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and media members at Reynolds Plantation. The verdict: “I played a round in which our time on the greens was slashed in half. It was fast, fun and liberating,” writes John Paul Newport in the Wall Street Journal.

A long, cold winter won’t help in golf’s comeback bid. In Michigan, for instance, “We had ice that was basically like a skating rink sitting on top of many of our putting greens for over two months,” said Kevin Frank, Michigan State University associate professor in crop and soil sciences and and AgBio Research scientist in this story on “Many will not be able to play their greens until early June.” Ouch.

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