The Local Knowlege

News & Tours

What should we make of Rory McIlroy missing a second straight cut?

What to make of Rory McIlroy missing the cut at the Irish Open? Especially after doing the same at the BMW PGA the week before? And especially after sealing his fate with an opening 80 at Royal County Down?

As far as the short term? Not much. McIlroy got a little off, which turned into frustration that caused the bad to become worse. He's probably only a refresher session with Michael Bannon, a little cogitating and a couple of good nights of sleep from getting back to the player who won twice earlier this month. And who should go into the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as the favorite.

But long term, we have seen some patterns from McIlroy that have been repeated enough to draw a reasonably filled-in portrait of the nature of his greatness and who he is as a golfer.

McIlroy's particular brand of genius-level ability comes with an artistic temperament that makes him stubborn about playing the kind of golf he knows he's capable of and deeply wants to play. Which starts with hitting his favorite club  -- the driver -- aggressively and often. It's statistically established that when he's hitting the driver well, it provides his most distinct advantage over the competition. And McIlroy has hit it so well -- with a gorgeous ball flight that he can bend both ways -- often enough that at 26 he is already considered a historically great driver. Most importantly for McIlroy's competitive state of mind, playing his brand of majestic golf tee to green is what most satisfies the artist within.

Related: 19 things you should know about Rory McIlroy

But on the flip side, being slightly off at the very high swing speeds that McIlroy generates means misses that go farther into trouble than shorter hitters. Psychologically, for an artist with McIlroy's talent level, it's nearly unavoidable that the mistakes grate more than they would for a less talented player with a more pragmatic view. The mega-talented and artistically bent Tom Weiskopf ruefully mused that after a couple of shots that displeased him, he began to look at his round as a painting he wanted to tear up and start over.

Of course, golf is a game of misses even for Ben Hogan. But while he's gotten better at stemming the tide on those days when it's not going right, McIlroy is susceptible to seeing his indifferent rounds snowball into snowmen. At McIlroy's stratospheric level -- No. 1 in the world, four major championships by age 25, one of the powerfully efficient golf swings ever seen -- it's a weakness.

Compared to the two dozen or so players golf's pantheon, at this point its fair to say that McIlroy's exhibits a distaste for grinding. Whereas Tiger Woods seemed to get as much satisfaction from turning a 75 into a 70 as from posting a 65, and Jack Nicklaus was a disciplined master of not shooting himself out of tournaments with wasted strokes, McIlroy models those behaviors almost grudgingly.

Not that McIlroy is a quitter in any sense of the word.  He has dug deep when his game has been off on plenty of occasions, most notably last year in the final round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla. But such is his emergency mode, not his habit.

Ergo, the occasional missed cut, and the odd 80. Especially at a non-major, McIlroy when struggling in the first or second round is akin to a tennis player giving away the first set after getting down 4-0. In moments of weakness he may be susceptible to the Weiskopf reaction. The other variable that could be playing a growing role are the demands of being No. 1. While it's clear McIlroy enjoys that station and will fight hard to keep it, the mental burdens can be draining, and conserving energy may be more on his mind than ever.

Even if he goes on to win double-digit majors, the bet here is that Rory's opposing poles of good and bad will be wider apart than almost any other great player. Criticizing him for that is almost as unreasonable as expecting a golfer to be perfect. Basically, McIlroy's "weakness" is the tradeoff for possessing a "good" that has the potential to be considered the highest ever.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
News & Tours

Why build a golf memorabilia collection when you can buy one?

Tour caddies usually collect a salary plus 10 percent of a winners check, but 15-year looper Scott Watts collected more -- a vast collection of memorabilia, ranging from tournament-used bags to signed balls, flags and gloves. 

If you've always dreamed of toting your clubs in one of Jack Nicklaus' (or Hugh Baiocchi's) old bags and impressing the rest of your foursome with an autographed, tournament-worn shoe from Arnold Palmer, you should head over and look at the eBay listing

Watts is asking $125,000 for the entire collection, which seems like a steal when you consider that it includes the compete caddie uniform Watts wore when he looped for Tommy Aaron at the 1993 Masters, along with the bag and yardage book he carried.

A video with the listing gives a quick preview of some of the 43 staff bags and other memorabilia in the collection. 



You might need to build an addition to the man cave. 

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
News & Tours

There will be a 100-yard par 4 at the AT&T Byron Nelson today (That is not a misprint)

If a 300-yard hole is called a drivable par 4, what's one that's 100 yards? A pitch-able par 4?

Related: Check out one course's 19th hole with a floating green

That's what PGA Tour players will be dealing with during Friday's second round of the AT&T Byron Nelson. Seriously.

Four and a half inches of rain pelted TPC Las Colinas overnight, which now officially makes this the rainiest May in the history of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The start of the second round was delayed by three hours, and we assume the par is remaining the same on No. 14 for consistency throughout the tournament (Chambers Bay will flip pars on two of its holes during the U.S. Open but par will stay 70 for each round).

So a 100-yard par 4 (104 to be exact) it is. Should be a decent confidence booster for the boys.

UPDATE: Gary Woodland has taken advantage of this situation.

UPDATE NO. 2: The PGA Tour has thought better of this.

Sorry, Gary.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
News & Tours

This photo from the Irish Open epitomizes European golf fan dedication

Sure, the weather in Northern Ireland can get nasty. We're sure Europeans are used to the brutal conditions that are common on a golf course.

But we're really impressed by the dedication of the fans at the Irish Open this week. Torrential rain, huge winds? Doesn't matter to them. This is the first time a pro event has been held at the magnificent Royal County Down, and European golf fans will do anything to experience the course as a spectator, as this photo illustrates.

Related: 7 things you need to know about Royal County Down

Yep, those are actual people underneath all those umbrellas. Not for nothing, but if it was the U.S., there's a good chance half of us would be under shelter, watching it on our high-def TVs away from the elements. We applaud you, European golf fans.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Stronger hips = Longer drives

Watch Rory McIlroy hit a tee shot (see below) and you can't help but notice how fast his hips rotate counterclockwise when he starts his downswing. They look like they snap toward the target, leaving his upper body and club in the dust. This lag between lower-body and upper-body rotation generates a tremendous amount of force for a golf swing and is a good reason Rory can regularly bust drives in the 330-yard range or longer.

mcilroy-swing.gif

Most golfers don't have that kind of explosive hip action when they swing down, but even modest improvements in the way you move them can yield noticeable results in how far you hit the ball, says Dave Herman, a trainer to many professional golfers and creator of @superflexfit stretch bands.

Herman, teaching professional Andrew Park (@andrewparkgolf) and LPGA Tour 2013 Rookie of the Year Moriya Jutanugarn demonstrate a few exercises you can do to not only improve your hip action, but also strengthen your glutes, shoulder and mid-back muscles. Click on the two videos below to see what you need to do to launch the ball farther than ever.





Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Video

Video: Bubba Watson's 3-year-old son smashes balls with pink driver

Caleb Watson is maturing before our eyes. Remember that cute kid who ran onto the 18th green at Augusta National to embrace his dad just seconds after he won his second Green Jacket?

blog-caleb-560.jpg
Well now he's following his father's footsteps by using a pink driver to crush balls.



Caleb even introduced himself in the third person ("Caleb Watson here! Trick shot!") before hitting a single ball. It seems he's getting his father's demeanor, too.

Caleb isn't the only son-of-a-tour-player who's developing some major game. Ian Poulter's youngest son, Joshua, is also doing some damage.

Joshua knocking his boxes down with golf balls. Go Joshua Go......

A video posted by Ian Poulter (@ianjamespoulter) on


Joshua's backswing is quick like his dad's.

... Read
News & Tours

Kids buying jerseys of their favorite college golfer could be a thing some day

BRADENTON, FLA. -- How do you know that the stature of college golf is on the rise? When Nike announces it has designed specially made uniforms for several schools competing at the NCAA Championship.

During Friday's first and Monday's fourth round of stroke play at The Concession G.C., eight programs with sponsorship ties to Nike -- Duke, Stanford, Oregon, USC, Oklahoma, Washington, Georgia and Vanderbilt -- will wear new uniforms customized to the individual school. Each uniform will have the school logo and branding along with numbers individually picked by each golfer. The number blocking for each school borrows from the same pattern as their football program.

loop-nike-college-golf-uniforms-560.jpg

Stanford men's coach Conrad Ray said he first heard the idea being tossed around by Nike officials roughly a year ago. In part it stems from the NCAA Championship being televised on Golf Channel. Having the specially made uniforms with numbers on them can assist announcers (not to mention viewers) in keeping track of various players on the course.

Additionally, Nike itself was looking for a better way to take advantage of its sponsorship of various golf programs. By creating unique designs for each school that stand out from traditional golf shirts, Nike can use the jerseys to capitalize on them. 

Five women's programs wore similarly specially made uniforms during this week's NCAA Women's Championship, including the team champion, Stanford.

"Our team is so excited about actually having a jersey," said Washington head coach Matt Thurmond. "They loved picking their number, and it was fun to reveal them to the team. We are athletes. Athletes have jerseys. Maybe in a couple years the kids back home will be buying the jerseys of our top players and wearing them when they play, wanting to be like them."

That's when we'll know college golf has truly arrived.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Celebrity

One of the best golf scenes in Entourage depended on Tom Brady as a last-second sub

When it comes to celebrity cameos in movies or TV shows, Entourage is tough to beat. And golf has played a prominent role in a bunch of those episodes.

Phil Mickelson appeared in an episode in Season 5. And Mark Wahlberg's smooth golf swing has been on display several times.

But probably the best golf scene in Entourage? When Tom Brady plays with the boys. Johnny Drama snaps Brady's driver. Turtle tries to talk smack to the quarterback of his rival football team, but gets won over by Brady's charm. It's a great episode.

But apparently Brady was a last-second sub in. That's according to Turtle, aka Jerry Ferrara, who met with Sports Illustrated on Thursday.

Related: Our favorite golf movie scenes

"[That] was initially for the Manning brothers," he said. "But then something happened where they had to pull out like four days before."

It hasn't been a good couple of weeks for TB12. Here's the clip of the interview of Ferrara talking about Brady.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Courses & Travel

An edible golf course? Yes, there is such a thing

Forget about grabbing a bag of potato chips or a hot dog at the turn, this golf course in the West Indies encourages golfers to pick a variety of fresh fruits -- mangoes, papayas, bananas -- while they play.

Irie Fields, located at Kittitian Hill on St. Kitts Island, is a unique, par 71, 18-hole course, designed by the legendary Welsh tour player Ian Woosnam. It is perhaps the world's most edible, 'pick-as-you-play' golf course, with over 70 acres of tropical fruit orchards and farmland. Irie Fields is not only the world's "first edible golf course," but also the first course to acquire certification in the Golf Environment Organization's LEGACY Program, which showcases the world's most sustainable golf development. It's maintained without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers and uses a water-conserving irrigation system.

irie-fields-st-kitts-golf-560.jpg

Signs are posted that indicate what's ripe enough to eat and caddies, who know each season's harvests, provide guidance on both club and fruit selection. For more information visit www.kittitianhill.com

Related: The Most Earth-Friendly Golf Courses

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
USGA

A quick walk through the Jack Nicklaus room at the USGA Museum

Wednesday was the official opening and dedication of the Jack Nicklaus Room at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, NJ. For the people who go to these sorts of things, the experience is always the same: You can't walk 10 feet without bumping into someone you know, or are supposed to know, wearing his blue blazer. If you know the face but not the name, you buy some time by asking if they've been playing much golf lately. And if it's 85 and humid, like it was yesterday, brace yourself for the answer.

Regrettably, I spent only 15 minutes in the new room, which at 1,200 square feet is surprisingly intimate and houses just 82 artifacts. It's a lean version of the sprawling Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus, Ohio, which loaned items for the exhibit and will continue to rotate more. Several short videos and an interactive course-design feature pack additional layers of depth, but the impression is that the main concern of the curators was accessibility. The placards for each object are succinct and written in the first-person voice of Jack.    

"[The USGA] did such an efficient job of not being overbearing with a big room," Nicklaus said. "They've put it tastefully in a place where it's not going to get lost, where you can see it very quickly. There are three people that come to these rooms — streakers, strollers and scholars.  Streakers spend about a half an hour and they're done with it. Strollers spend a couple hours and get a lot of information. A scholar could spend all day, or more…I think that's what they've tried to accomplish."

Someday soon, I'd like to return on at least the level of a stroller. But to offer at least a taste from my manic visit...

BEN SAYERS PUTTER USED BY JACK NICKLAUS

nicklaus putter.jpg
"I bought this putter in North Berwick, Scotland shortly before the 1959 Walker Cup. It helped me to more than a dozen amateur titles, including both my U.S. Amateur wins."

Easy to forget that Jack Nicklaus actually used a hickory shafted putter. With it, he holed what he's said is the most important putt of his career; the final putt in the final match to defeat Charlie Coe in the 1959 U.S. Amateur.

TIE CASE, 1959 MASTERS

tie case.jpg
"I played in my first Masters in 1959, as a 19-year-old. I hit 31 greens in regulation, but had eight three-putts and missed the cut. I realized then that I had better learn how to putt those greens - and I did."

Tie case? You mean there's a better traveling method than crumpling it in the breast pocket so you don't forget? Just another reason the rest of us don't have green jackets.

GOLF GREATS, BILL BATES

cartoon.jpg
A cannon for a driver? If that's the most cutting satire a caricaturist can think of, you're untouchable.

FIRST PAYCHECK, 1962 LOS ANGELES OPEN

paycheck.jpg

"Though I was happy to have made the cut in my first tournament as a professional, my official prize winnings represented one-third of last-place money."

Tiger Woods' professional debut wasn't much stronger. He finished T-60 at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open but did bring home $2,544. 

Will there ever be a Tiger Woods wing at Far Hills? Already, Tiger's nine USGA championships eclipse Jack's eight, and Big Cat hasn't even had a chance at any U.S. Senior Opens. But more than trophies, yesterday's dedication was to Jack Nicklaus' character, as a family man and ambassador for the game. The reputations of the four other golfers with dedicated rooms — Bob Jones, Ben Hogan, Mickey Wright and Arnold Palmer - are as impeccable.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today