The Local Knowlege

News & Tours

Brendon de Jonge got off to a worse start than most amateur golfers playing over Labor Day Weekend will

Brendon de Jonge arrived at this week's Deutsche Bank Championship with a good chance of advancing to the third leg of the FedEx Cup Championship. But by the third hole of the first round at TPC Boston, his 2013-14 PGA Tour season was all but over.

Related: 7 things you need to know after Week 1 of the Playoffs

After a 280-yard opening drive in the fairway on No. 10 (his first hole of the day), things went bad quickly for the 34-year-old Zimbabwean. De Jonge found the water with his approach shot and after taking a drop, he took four more shots to finish.

On the par-3 11th, he found a greenside bunker. His first shot from the sand didn't get out. His second went well over the green. Three shots later, he had recorded a disastrous second straight triple bogey to start his round. "Triple doubles" are good in basketball. "Double triples" in golf? Not so good.

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The top 70 players on the FedEx Cup points list will advance to next week's BMW Championship at Cherry Hills. De Jonge entered this week's event at No. 79 after advancing to the Tour Championship last year for the first time.

Related: 5 things to talk about on the course this weekend

De Jonge certainly won't be thrilled with today's round, but he should be more upset with himself about how he finished at the Barclays last week. Following an opening 66, he shot over par the final three rounds to finish T-61 and miss out on a great opportunity to pick up points in the volatile playoff system. Now he needs to pick up shots fast if he's going to make the cut and move on.

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News & Tours

Charles Manson, a judge and a vote that kept the U.S. Open from Los Angeles CC…until now

Los Angeles Country Club has a colorful history that includes its proximity to the Playboy Mansion (adjacent to the 13th green) and Groucho Marx’ failed bid to join, prompting him to famously say, “Why would I want to belong to a club that would have me as a member?”

Its history, too, has included occasional flirtations with the USGA about playing the U.S. Open on its renowned North Course, the latest chapter revealed on Thursday.

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The ’54 U.S. Junior Amateur, meanwhile, was played at LACC and was to be a prelude to its hosting the U.S. Amateur in ’56 (and likely the U.S. Open sometime after that). But when a crowd of 3,500 showed up for the Junior Amateur final, the membership recoiled at the thought of crowds traipsing across its course that it withdrew its offer to host the Amateur.

The last time that LACC entertained U.S. Open overtures was 1982. Sandy Tatum, a past president of the USGA and a powerbroker within the organization, grew up playing LACC (his father was a member) and was a strong advocate on behalf of the 1986 Open going there.

Tatum also had an ally in the club president at the time, Judge Charles Older. His Honor was no obscure judge, incidentally. He was the presiding judge in the trial of serial killer Charles Manson in 1971 and was the man who sentenced Manson to death.

Eddie Merrins, then the head pro at nearby Bel-Air Country Club, once said that Older wished to bring the Open to LACC “so [the public] could see that the members of the club weren't so bad after all.”

Two years before Older’s death in 2006, I reached him by phone to ask about the Open discussions. “I don’t think I want to talk about that,” Older said, hewing to the club’s policy of keeping club business private.

Older reportedly was one of four on the LACC board in favor of the club hosting the Open. But five were opposed. End of discussion. Until now.

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Gear & Equipment

Ping's G30 hybrid doesn't have turbulators, but it does have plenty of other technology to talk about

Although the turbulators on Ping's G30 driver received much of the attention given to the G30 line of woods, it would be a mistake to look at that club and go no further.

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Take the company's G30 hybrid -- a workhorse constructed of 17-4 stainless steel with a heat-treated face designed to improve springlike effect for more distance. Internal weight pads in the heel and toe raise its moment of inertia to assist mis-hits, and a weight positioned low in the sole provides a low-back center of gravity to help launch the ball higher.

The hybrids (street price: $220 each) are available in five lofts (17, 19, 22, 26, 30 degrees) with Ping's TFC 419H graphite shaft in four flexes. Oh, and no turbulators, either.

Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digestix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.

 


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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: How to swing like Rory (the sequel)

In response to feedback received on my recent Fitness Friday post "How to swing like Rory," I went back to Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear) for more tips on how to emulate what might be the best power swing in golf. If you watch Rory McIlroy swing in slow motion (see below), you'll note how active his lower body is at the start of the downswing. This activity, as I explained a few weeks back, is independent of the movement of his upper body—meaning that his lower body is rotating toward the target while his upper body is still rotating away from it.

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Now, in fairness to all power hitters, this change-of-direction move is not exclusive to Rory. He just happens to do it better than most. Rory's swing is a model for generating power efficiently. A few weeks back Ben showed an exercise that will help you train your pelvis to rotate independently of your upper body. Some of you struggled with this move and found yourselves letting your arms bend and rotating your trunk in the same direction your were turning your hips. So this week, Ben offers a simpler exercise to help train lower-body dissociation. Click on the video below to watch.


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


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Business

Survey upshot: Golf is a business, so treat it like one

A strategic planning survey to which more than 300 golf course operators reportedly responded suggests one reason for the game’s lethargic performance in recent months and years: Bad business practices.

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The survey, conducted by Golf Convergence, a strategic consulting business based in Castle Pines, Colo., “demonstrated that golf course operators complain about uncontrollable factors to mask their culpability for being poor operators,” the company said.

Among the findings of the survey:

  • 35 percent are operating without a current business plan.
  • 76 percent believe that their market is oversupplied.
  • 73 percent don’t engage in customer relationship management.
  • 88 percent never have their golf course secret shopped.
  • 82 percent rarely engage in customer surveys.

“I’m disappointed,” James Keegan, Managing Principal of Golf Convergence said, “but I’m not surprised. Having seen over 4,000 golf courses, I continue to be amazed that most of the people in the golf business got there for the love of the game, but most lack the business acumen and formal education to be able to engage in a successful small business.”

Keegan recently wrote in his blog at golfconvergence.com that, “a golf course is a living organism that requires constant reinvestment to create sustaining value for the golfer.”

“I believe most golf clubs in America cover operational expenses,” he said, “but few set aside sufficient capital reserves.”

The status quo, as he is fond of saying, is a formidable foe.

The survey in its entirety can be read here.

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News & Tours

Los Angeles Country Club on brink of being awarded the 2023 U.S. Open

Los Angeles Country Club is close to a deal to host the 2023 U.S. Open.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the club's membership has been notified via email of an impending vote about hosting the Open, an event that has not been played in the Los Angeles area since Riviera Country Club held the 1948 playing won by Ben Hogan. In 2017, Riviera co-hosts the U.S. Amateur with Bel-Air CC, while Los Angeles Country Club hosts the 46th Walker Cup. A contract with the USGA has yet to be signed.

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"As a general rule, the USGA keeps its site selection process confidential to protect future sites and related parties. In this instance, we confirm that the USGA and Los Angeles Country Club are exploring the possibility of conducting a future U.S. Open Championship at the club," the USGA said in a statement. "There are several important steps required in the Championship selection process to ensure its success, including garnering the support of the Club’s membership and evaluating the feasibility of conducting a world-class championship in the heart of the Los Angeles community. We are appreciative of the opportunity to continue the process."

Ranked 41st on Golf Digest's most recent ranking of America's 100 Greatest Courses, the North Course has long been regarded for its stern examination and its remarkable location between Beverly Hills and UCLA’s Westwood campus. Although it has hosted two prior USGA events, the 1954 U.S. Junior Amateur (won by Bud Bradley) and the 1930 U.S. Women’s Amateur (Glenna Collett), it has never hosted the USGA's signature championship.

If ultimately awarded, this will be the first U.S. Open played in the heart of a major American city. The 7,236-yard North Course features views of the Hollywood Hills and west to the South Bay, yet still exudes a rural sensibility with several holes playing along or over a sandy, sycamore-dotted barranca.

The North Course underwent a restoration in 2010 by architect Gil Hanse with -- full disclosure here -- assistance from the author of this story. As with many classic designs, tree plantings had become robust and the intricate bunker style of George Thomas and William Bell had been lost due to time and traditional maintenance practices. The restored course hosted the 2013 Pac-12 Championship won by California. Max Homa of Cal won the individual title a month before claiming NCAA medalist honors.

Releasing news of a club hosting the U.S. Open before a contract has been signed is an unusual change for the USGA, but with modern communication methods, word of the membership vote was likely anticipated and not unprecedented. 

Recently, the R&A announced a future Open Championship for Royal Portrush, also pending a membership vote this fall. 

The possibility of committing to Los Angeles Country Club in 2023 solidifies a USGA commitment to West Coast dates in the next decade, a region appreciated by Executive Director Mike Davis due to more reliable June weather conditions, which allow for fast, firm setups. Economically, the West Coast also allows for an East Coast prime time finish and higher television ratings. The USGA begins a 12-year television contract with Fox Sports in 2015.

Next year, the U.S. Open is played outside of Seattle at Chambers Bay, followed on the West Coast by Pebble Beach in 2019 and Torrey Pines in 2021. Other host sites awarded future U.S. Opens include Oakmont (2016), Erin Hills (2017), Shinnecock Hills (2018), Winged Foot (2020). 

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News & Tours

Having seen the light over membership issue, the R&A is now leaving little to chance

However resistant the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has been to inviting women members in the past, the club sure appears intent on getting them in now. In the ballots that went out last week to its roughly 2,500 members, the club asked two questions: Are you in favor of women members? And if so, would you be open to letting 15 women in at once?

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In a departure, the R&A is allowing members to vote on the women's issue remotely. 
Photo by Getty Images 

More telling than the questions themselves are the revised conditions for voting. For 260 years the bylaws of the club required members to show up in St. Andrews to cast a ballot. Now it says members can vote remotely. Once requiring two-thirds to change a bylaw, this time it's merely seeking a majority. 

Both are reflections of an organization that wants to eliminate any risk of an old-school local faction within the club conspiring to halt progress. 

"Society is changing," outgoing R&A secretary Peter Dawson said in March when announcing the General Committee's recommendation to invite women. "Sport is changing. Golf is changing. And I think it is appropriate for a governing body to take this step."

Curiously, the results of the voting will be announced the same day Scotland will vote on whether to secede from the United Kingdom. Coincidence or not, there's always a chance, as Golf Digest contributing editor John Huggan joked, R&A members will get confused in casting their ballot and women will be banned from Scotland.

For all the hand-wringing over Augusta National's former all-male membership -- the host of the Masters finally invited women members in 2012  -- the R&A membership issue carries far more significance. As opposed to Augusta National, where women have long been invited to play and stay, the R&A literally bans women from its clubhouse -- a symbolic indignity, sure, but also one with practical and professional consequences.

In July, Louise Richardson, the principal of the University of St. Andrews, described to the New York Times the disadvantage of not having access to the R&A down the road from her office. Her two immediate predecessors were granted honorary memberships to the club, but Richardson said she was often left to conduct important university business from afar.

“A supporter of the university got in touch and asked if he could possibly have lunch at the R&A today,” Richardson said to the Times. “I had to arrange for somebody I know to take him to lunch at the R&A because, of course, I can’t. And I had to arrange  for another member of the staff to take his wife to lunch some place in town because, of course, she can’t get into the R&A, either.”

Should the resolution pass to invite 15 women in an inaugural "class" of new members, Richardson is likely to be one of them. Other names mentioned as possibilities include former USGA president Judy Bell, and Lady Angela Bonallack, a past Curtis Cup player and the wife of former R&A captain and secretary Sir Michael Bonnallack.

But that's all contingent upon the R&A first allowing any women at all. It would seem like a foregone conclusion, but then, with something that's taken this long, it's probably best not to assume.

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News & Tours

Who would you pick for the Ryder Cup team? Take this blind test to find out

At this point, it's probably fair to assume that Keegan Bradley and Hunter Mahan are locks for two of U.S. captain Tom Watson's three wildcard picks for next month's Ryder Cup. They both have their downsides -- the two have just one combined PGA Tour win since 2012 -- but solid recent play and past experience means they'll both probably get on the team.

The problem is that leaves only one more spot for a bunch of other fairly prominent players.

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Another problem is that as soon as you start asking people who they might select, their minds automatically jump to the biggest names on the list. But that doesn't feel right, so we decided a blind test was the only fair way to do this. Answers are in bold at the bottom. If you want to be lame and find out the names first, feel free. If not, here are your five leading candidates. . .

PLAYER A

World Ranking: 39

Wins in 2013-2014 season: 1

Top tens in 2013-14 season: 7

Wins in 2013 season: 0

Major wins: 0

Ryder Cup Record: N/A

Presidents Cup record: N/A

Last five events: T-7, T-12, T-8, T-40, MC


PLAYER B

World Ranking: 42

Wins in 2013-14 season: 1

Top tens in 2013-14 season: 7

Wins in 2013 season: 0

Major wins: 0

Ryder Cup Record: N/A

Presidents Cup record: N/A

Last five events: T4, T39, T45, 72, T46


PLAYER C

World Ranking: 32

Wins in 2013-14 season: 1

Top tens in 2013-14 season: 8

Wins in 2013 season: 0

Major wins: 1

Ryder Cup Record: 2-2-0

Presidents Cup record: 5-3-2

Last five events: MC, T-31, MC, T-5, T-99


PLAYER D

World Ranking: 36

Wins in 2013-14 season: 0

Top tens in 2013-14 season: 3

Wins in 2013 season: 2

Major wins: 0

Ryder Cup Record: 1-2-0

Presidents Cup record: 2-3-0

Last five events: T-25, T-12, T-13, T-5, MC


PLAYER E

World Ranking: 30

Wins in 2013-14 season: 0

Top tens in 2013-14 season: 4

Wins in 2013 season: 1

Major wins: 0

Ryder Cup Record: N/A

Presidents Cup record: 3-5-2

Last five events: T-51, T-41, T-27, T-2, T-15





Have you made your selection? Are you sure? OK, here are the candidates, revealed. . .





Player A: Ryan Moore

No Ryder or Presidents Cup experience to speak of, but arguably putting together the best year of anybody else on the list.

Player B: Brendon Todd

Another experience-less player putting together a good season, but recent form could be a concern.

Player C: Webb Simpson

He's won a major and has experience representing his country, but it's been an iffy season, and his only win came in October 2013.

Player D: Brandt Snedeker

The only player on the win with two wins last season has experienced a slight up-tick in form recently, albeit from a fairly low base.

Player E: Bill Haas

Has the most world ranking points of anybody else listed and is trending up, but his lack of Ryder Cup experience will work against him.
 

  

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News & Tours

Arnold Palmer after pacemaker procedure: "I wish everyone felt as good as I do"

LATROBE, Pa. -- Arnold Palmer has logged millions of air miles in his life, nearly all of them piloting his own planes for 60 years, but it was a short helicopter ride he took nearly two weeks ago that was one of his most important flights in recent memory.

On Friday, August 18th, a day after telephoning his cardiologist and family physician Dr. Robert Staffen to report that he was feeling poorly, Palmer immediately was sent by helicopter to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh. Three days later, he underwent a pacemaker implant procedure for an irregular heartbeat.

Related: Arnold Palmer's timeless tips

"I'm fine, and I'm continuing to feel better," Palmer said Thursday morning in his office located across from Latrobe Country Club, his boyhood golfing home that he now owns.

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Palmer had just returned from a checkup with his doctor, and he was told that his recovery is progressing on schedule. "Except for the fact that I have a hole in my chest, I'm OK," he said with a wry smile. "I don't even know it's there, really, except it itches."

And except for the fact that he can't play golf for 10 more days. He is not yet allowed to lift his left arm above his shoulder (though he insists on demonstrating that he can do it), a post-operative precaution so he doesn't adversely affect the new wiring. He can, however, resume his three-times-per-week workouts with his personal trainer.

Palmer was back at work the day after surgery, and among his current tasks is getting through a mountain of notes, letters and get-well cards stacked in a wicker basket behind his desk. One of his favorites is a handmade note written in crayon on orange construction paper.

"They come from all kinds of people of all ages -- and they're still coming in," said Palmer's longtime media representative, Doc Giffin.

Palmer, 84, is reluctant to say how serious his condition became. He explained that during his checkup earlier in the day it was determined that he is using only about two percent of the capacity of his pacemaker. "And I'd be happy if that's all I ever had to use," he said. "So things are good. I feel good. I wish everyone felt as good as I do."

What seemed to make him happier than his own well-being was news that a close relative had weathered a more serious health crisis. He expected the worst when his mobile phone rang late Thursday morning, but instead he was pleased to hear the voice of his in-law, Robert Saunders. The 85-year-old father-in-law to Arnie's daughter, Amy, underwent a heart procedure a few days ago in which doctors gave him a 50-50 chance of survival.

"He sounded great," Palmer said, smiling broadly. "We talked about five minutes. He said he wanted a milkshake."

Palmer turns 85 on Sept. 10, and he said he had no special plans that day. "Is that coming up again?" he said, pretending he was not aware. "Just peace and quiet, nothing else, really."

Photos: Arnold Palmer's Golf Digest cover shoot with Kate Upton

Of course, it will be around that time when he can start hitting a few balls on the driving range again.

Most people who get a pacemaker might find golf difficult. But Arnold Palmer won't. He showed why. The seven-time major championship winner unzipped his tan Ryder Cup jacket and pulled back his white shirt. Under clear medical tape there was a bulge on the left side of his chest, high up, just under his collarbone and near his shoulder -- far higher than for most anyone else who receives a pacemaker.

That's right. It was put there so it wouldn't interfere with his golf swing.

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PGA Tour

Ryo Ishikawa has the best putting green etiquette of anyone ever

Two days before the first round of the Deutsche Bank, I and two of Golf Digest's finest hopped in the car, put on our best techno playlist, and went to Norton to check out the scene at TPC Boston. 

I get to see a lot of very cool stuff when I go to events -- like Bubba's driver and Adam Scott's face -- and what I spotted Ryo Ishikawa doing on the practice green at the second FedEx Cup playoff event now ranks high on that list as well. 

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(Photo: Keely Levins. Apologies for the flagrant porta potty in the background. I was too distracted by Ryo's stylish pants to notice it while I was snapping the photo.) 

He was doing some putting drills, tees strategically placed to help keep the clubface square, while standing on a towel. I couldn't think of any benefits to his technique explained by that last part, so we went up to his caddie and asked the reason for the towel. His response: Ryo likes standing on the towel because he doesn't want to damage the greens. 

When you stand in one place on a green for a while, your spikes leave substantial marks that can be annoying for the next person trying to putt at that hole, and cringe-worthy for greenkeepers everywhere. 

The effect to the green isn't catastrophic, but the fact that Ryo is aware of it and cares enough to make a little extra effort during his practice session to avoid it shows a level of selflessness that you don't always see from professional athletes. Literally no one would ever make a comment about a player leaving spike marks after doing drills on a practice green. But Ryo leaving the green without having made marks deserves a nod of appreciation. Well done, Ryo.  
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