The Local Knowlege

Courses & Travel

Here's a how you can play some of the best golf courses in the country in 2015

Do you have a golf course -- or perhaps a list of courses -- that you've made it your goal to play next year? Golf Channel posed that question on Morning Drive a few days ago, and we thought it was a good one, so we explored it a little further.

It turns out that The First Tee of Central Ohio is auctioning off a handful of rounds at some of the swankiest, most-desirable courses in the country. It'll cost you, but split it between a group of other people and it's not totally unreasonable. And besides, it's for a good cause.

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Bidding on most of them doesn't end for another six months, but each has a "buy it now" price that hovers around $5,000. You can check out the full list here.

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News & Tours

Golf instruction loses one of its most influential figures

teacher-rudy-obit-250.jpgOne of the legends in golf instruction passed away December 15 -- quietly, just as he taught. Ben Doyle was not only a charter member of Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers list, but a mentor and friend to dozens of top-rank instructors around the world. He also helped craft three of the most beautiful swings in the game in the form of Mac O'Grady, Bobby Clampett and Steve Elkington.  

Doyle was probably most famous for his relationship with the Golfing Machine teaching manual -- a complicated golf textbook written by Homer Kelley in 1969. Doyle was the first teacher to become certified to teach Kelley's method, and spent more than 40 years advancing its core principles.

He did it from a cart filled to the top with bags of old clubs, vintage televisions, video equipment and household items like mops and brooms -- all designed to get students to feel and see a technically sound swing. I went to see Doyle in the early 2000s with another of Doyle's proteges, 50 Best Teacher Tom Ness, and the cart didn't look much different during my visit than it did in this image from the August 1983 issue of Golf Digest. It was probably sitting in the exact same spot, too, at the end of the driving range at the Quail Lodge & Country Cub in Carmel Valley, CA. The two days of lessons I saw all went essentially the same way, with the student making small, body-controlled swings in a bunker while trying to strike a specific point in the sand. 

Doyle's dogmatic devotion to the Golfing Machine manual and less-than-charismatic teaching style often led to him being dismissed as a one-note "method teacher." But many top teachers credit Doyle for being one of the true trailblazers in incorporating science into golf instruction. He was one of the first instructors to film each lesson and provide the student with the tape at the end of the session.   

"There's a lot of recent proof that has come out that the best way to learn is through analogies--showing a person similar things that he's done before, like dragging a mop. Ben was way ahead of his time," said 50 Best Teacher Chuck Cook, who started working with Doyle in the mid-1980s. "My whole teaching is built around what I learned from him. The core information--get good impact, on plane with lag--those are my three goals in every lesson I give."

Doyle's influence within the teaching business extended across generations, from Cook, Ness and Gregg McHatton to Brian Manzella, Michael Finney, Michael Jacobs, Tom Stickney and dozens of other nationally-renowned instructors.  

"If you did a teaching tree, Ben's branches would be right there with the best," said fellow 50 Best Teacher Brian Manzella, who made his first trip out to see Doyle in 1987. "He was a true pioneer. Even if you went away from the Golfing Machine, his idea still held--that there's an answer for anything, and there's a way for the average guy to do it. He had it down to the essence."

Despite his influence, Doyle was never recognized on the sectional or national level by the PGA of America and isn't in the teaching Hall of Fame, something Cook calls a "tragedy." Manzella said Doyle's unwillingness to listen quietly to information he thought would hurt players ended up hurting him politically. "They basically re-wrote the rules of the PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit around him, because they were panic stricken that he'd get up and whisper a question that would show that what everybody was teaching was wrong," said Manzella, who published a heartfelt obituary for his mentor on Facebook Wednesday night. "He never got the recognition he deserved." 

But Manzella said Ness framed the devout Christian Scientist's legacy the most appropriately on Tuesday, when word came of Doyle's passing in San Francisco. "He said Ben is in the real Hall of Fame now."

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Does high-altitude-simulation training work?

On paper it seemed like a fair fight: Rory versus Rickie. McIlroy came into this past September's Ryder Cup as the No. 1 golfer in the world, and Fowler was enjoying the best year of his career, having finished no worse than T-5 in all four majors. But by the sixth hole of their singles match, it was over. McIlroy was 5 up and showed no signs of fatigue from having played 70 holes of pressure-packed golf during the previous two days.

fitness-friday-rory-oxygen-mask.jpgWhy did Rory look and play so invigorated? One doctor believes it's because of the way he trains in the gym. McIlroy often runs on a treadmill wearing a high-altitude-simulation training mask (pictured). Known as hypoxia or altitude training, it restricts the flow of air while McIlroy is running sprints and doing other cardiovascular exercise. The goal is to improve endurance by training the body to require less oxygen for muscles to function optimally for longer periods in a sea-level atmosphere. Working with trainer Steve McGregor, McIlroy alternates between 90-second sprints and walking to vary his heart rate, says Dr. Ara Suppiah, a sports-medicine expert whose patients include PGA Tour stars Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker, Henrik Stenson and Hunter Mahan.

"It's a legal performance-enhancer," Suppiah says. "It increases endurance because the oxygen-extracting capacity in the muscles goes up. You don't produce lactic acid as much in those muscles, and when you do, that burning feeling dissipates much quicker."

There has yet to be a definitive scientific answer on whether this type of training works. In 2010, the National Center for Biotechnolgy Information published a report that stated "hypoxia as a supplement to training is not consistently found to be advantageous for performance at sea level." However, many elite athletes are now donning masks or working out in oxygen-deprivation rooms in the hopes of gaining an edge.

"You should not try hypoxia training if you have pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, poor circulation, diabetes, etc.," Suppiah says. "Everyone should be vetted by a doc first."

Regardless of whether you wear the mask, the type of interval training McIlroy does on the treadmill is great for golfers because it improves function of the fast-twitch muscle fibers needed to swing a golf club powerfully.

"Golf is a sport where you need explosive power for a second or two every few minutes, and then you rest," Suppiah says. "This type of training mimics those needs."

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Celebrity

Video: Manny Ramirez whiffs two more times...on the golf course

Manny Ramirez, former perennial all-star for the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, struck out 1,813 times in his long career, 16th on the all-time list.

So perhaps we should not be surprised that he is seen here whiffing a few more times, though the game is golf and the ball is stationary. The occasion was the recent David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic, his annual charity event in the Dominican Republic.

Hey, it’s a hard game.

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News & Tours

Paula Creamer looks like she's really enjoying her honeymoon

Paula Creamer married Derek Heath last Friday (12/13/14 was a hot wedding date) in Windermere, Fla. This week, the LPGA star looks like she's really enjoying her honeymoon in "paradise."

Mrs. Heath... Honeymoon.. @beachbunnyswimwear 👍👙❿ᅬ

A photo posted by Paula Creamer (@paulacreamer1) on

After having numerous tropical island experts weigh in (reading some of the comments), we believe "paradise" is Bora Bora. Creamer pokes fun at her feet tan lines, but you don't post a full-body mirrored selfie of yourself in a bikini if you don't think you're looking pretty good.

Related: Creamer gets married and Rickie and Alexis go to the Bahamas

A month ago, Creamer posted this photo of herself working out ("Sweating for the wedding") in preparation for the big day:

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Another quick glance at the comment sections of her two latest photos indicates people are in agreement. Her hard work in the gym has paid off.

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News & Tours

That time sharks invaded an Australian golf course and scared everyone

Between the Australian PGA and the Australian Open, there's been a lot of golf played Down Under recently. So it's only fitting that we return there for Throwback Thursday.

Back in 2011, all the lakes on Carbrook Golf Club in Australia flooded after a heavy storm. Aside from lots of excess water, a group of eight 10-foot-long bullsharks found their way into the pond by the 14th green.

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For whatever reason, the course opted not to remove the sharks (it's a salt-water pond), but they did put up a fairly scary sign. They also added a new tournament to the club's schedule: "The Shark Lake Challenge."

Here's the original segment from Sky News:


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Records & Rarities

This local legend just became the oldest golfer to ever make a hole-in-one

At 103, Gus Andreone was already the oldest member of the PGA of America. Now, he's also the oldest golfer to ever record a hole-in-one.

PGA.com had the story of Andreone's latest feat, a hole-in-one on Wednesday at Palm Aire Country Club in Sarasota, Fla. According to the report, Andreone used a driver from 113 yards for his ace on No. 14 at the Lakes Course to break the previous known record held by 102-year-old Elsie McLean in 2007.

Related: Want a hole-in-one? Head to Bend, Oregon

"I hit it solid and the ball then hit the ground about 30 yards from the green and kept rolling, rolling and rolling," said Andreone, who shot 83 on the 4,535-yard layout and earned an $80 skin for the shot. "It fell into the hole, which was cut on the right middle part of the green. Miracles do happen once in a while."

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Photo: Bob Denney/PGA

Once in a while is right. Andreone's latest hole-in-one was the eighth of his life. His first ace came all the way back in 1939, meaning he gets one about once per decade. Not too shabby.

Here's a Suncoast News Network report from earlier this year on Andreone, who plays three times a week and has been a PGA member for more than 75 years. You go, Gus!

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News & Tours

Guy hits himself in the head with a golf ball, takes sucking at golf to a whole new level

The next time you have a bad round, or three-putt, or do anything on the golf course that you're not very proud of, just think of this video.

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Remember it, revisit it, treasure it, because no matter how poorly you just played, remind yourself that it can always get worse.

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And finally, to the guy in this video: maybe wear a helmet next time?

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Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: The most entertaining Father-Son duo of all time

The victory by Bernhard and Jason Langer in last weekend's PNC Father-Son Challenge had an element of good fortune in it, given Jason was a late fill-in for his sister, Christina, and that his age, 14, made him the youngest offspring winner in the 17-year-old event.

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No matter how the Langers (above, photo courtesy AP Images) got the win, it's the good vibes created by playing in a family event that are memorable. Father-Son tournaments populate the tournament schedule at any number of clubs and help create some of the game's enduring moments. If you are fortunate to have a son -- or daughter -- who likes golf, getting to play in an annual event with him or her is one of the great bonding experiences you can have.

At many courses Father-Son events are named after a special individual and carry some historical significance. At Willowbrook Golf Course in Winter Haven, Fla., Dexter Daniels Sr., an accomplished Florida golfer, and son Dexter Jr., are the namesake of the Father-Son event, which was held for the 41st time last weekend and won by multi-winners Bret and Marc Dull.

The Donald Ross Junior Championship at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort started in 1947 and is named for the famous architect. Part of the event, which will be held again Dec. 27-30, is a father-son competition for the more then 200 juniors in the field, held in three age divisions. And Father-Son events aren't just held in the U.S. The 26th World Invitational Father & Son Golf Tournament will be played Aug. 5-9, 2015, at Ireland's Waterville Golf Links. (And by the way, the eighth World Invitational Father & Daughter is at Waterville July 23-26, 2015).

As magical as Papa Langer had it at the PNC event (he joined Larry Nelson and Raymond Floyd as dads who won the 17-year event with two different sons), his feat is a step below the roll call of father-son achievers in pro golf. There have been nine father-son duos who have won PGA Tour events: Old Tom and Young Tom Morris and Willie Park Sr. and Jr. all won the British Open; others are Jack Burke Sr. and Jr., Clayton and Vance Heafner, Julius and Guy Boros, Al and Brent Geiberger, Jay and Bill Haas, and Craig and Kevin Stadler.

The last twosome, but likely the most entertaining is Joe Kirkwood Sr. and Jr., both Australian-born. The elder Joe was a serious player in the Jones-Sarazen-Hagen era, but during exhibition tours in the 1930s he put trick-shot routines into his matches and became better more well-known for that than his more than a dozen tournament victories.

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His son was actually named Reginald Thomas but went by Joe Jr. in the 1930s. He played professionally, but in the mid-1940s turned to an acting career, most notably playing a popular comic-book character, Joe Palooka, in both movie and TV roles. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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When Joe Jr. won the Philadelphia Inquirer Open in 1949, it completed the father-son winning combination. Previously at the 1948 U.S. Open at Riviera, the Kirkwoods were the first father and son to make the cut at a major in the modern era, which wasn't matched until Jay and Bill Haas both made the cut at the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. Who has bragging rights is open to interpretation. the Kirkwoods were both in the top 30 (Junior finished T-21 and Senior T-28) but the Haases had a top-10, Jay at T-9 while Bill finished T-40). Seems like a wash to me.


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News & Tours

One chart that proves Bubba Watson is a total beast

Bubba Watson hit the longest drive of the 2013-14 season -- 424 yards -- 27 yards further than the next-longest drive.

That stat in itself is pretty amazing, especially when you consider that Webb Simpson's 397-yard drive came on the seventh hole at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions -- a  downhill, 520-yard par 4 that often records the longest measured drives of the season. But seeing it as a graph truly puts in perspective just how far Bubba Watson hits the ball. Thanks to LowRound.co for designing it:

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Here's a video of that drive, which happened on the 16th hole of the 2014 WGC-Bridgestone.


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