The Local Knowlege

Golf equipment

David Feherty: "I guess the idiots at the USGA don't consider [Jack Nicklaus] enough of an expert"

David Feherty was as candid as ever in a recent interview in Men's Journal. When the subject of how golf can stay relevant with young people, the CBS on-course reporter didn't hold back his opinion of golf's governing body.

Related: Golf World's profile on David Feherty

"The people running the game should think more about the average amateur. Unlike football and baseball, golf is watched by people who still play the sport. So change the rules and make the ball bigger to slow it down, which will help the amateurs on the greens and attract more players. Twenty-five years ago, Jack Nicklaus said they should do this. I guess the idiots at the USGA don't consider him enough of an expert."

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To be fair, Feherty spent most of the interview being just as tough on himself for, among other things, being "stupid" in school, losing control with alcohol and drugs, and failing his family. He says it's being open about that stuff that makes him talk so freely on the air.

"I'm at an advantage -- all of my skeletons are out of the closet," he said. "I'm as f----- up as they come. I have to take 13 pills a day to be this normal."

Feherty also recently addressed taking his pills on Twitter following comedian Robin Williams' suicide.

In the grand scheme of things, debating the dimensions of a golf ball seems trivial, but it's part of Feherty's job -- and we're glad it is. Whether you agree with him or not, such discussions could have a huge impact on a game that has been in the news a lot recently for not growing enough.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Feherty's "idiots" line probably won't make him any friends at the USGA, but it raises important questions about the future of the game. The more experts we hear from, the better.

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News & Tours

Explainer: The varying reactions to President Obama's golf

If you've been following the news, you'll know that President Barack Obama has been under fire recently for what his critics say is too much golf. We'll let the left-right politics sites debate whether that's fair or not, and instead attempt to put the whole thing in context.

How did this all start?

Obama's critics have long derided the president for the amount of golf he's been playing while in office, but the recent outrage has less to do with his number of rounds (although that is playing a role), and more to do with when he's playing them. He played golf after giving a statement on the continuing racial tensions in Ferguson, Mo., and then again shortly after an emotional statement on the ISIS murder of American journalist James Foley. While British Prime Minister David Cameron chose to suspend his vacation, pictures began circulating of Obama smiling and fist-pumping friends on the course, provoking strong reactions from the right's Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, and even some left-leaning voices, like Vox's Ezra Klein.

Klein brings up presidential vacations. How does all Obama's golf compare to other presidents?
 
According to CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller, the leading authority in counting this stuff, Obama plays more golf than other presidents -- almost 200 rounds since January 2009 -- but that doesn't necessarily mean more vacation time. Knoller compared Obama's time away to his predecessor, George W. Bush, and found that Bush played a lot less golf (24 rounds over the same time period) but took more vacation days (381, compared to Obama's 129). Either way, it's generally agreed that criticizing any president's vacation time is a little silly, which is why people are more upset by the timing.

Is Obama being singled out more than his predecessors?

Not really. It's not necessarily the fairest thing to do, but taking on a president's leisure activities is such low-hanging fruit that the opposition usually can't resist. You may remember Democrats ridiculing George W. Bush in 2002 for his "watch this drive" gaffe seconds after a strongly worded message on terrorism. But that's not to suggest this is a recent phenomenon. On the contrary, this line of criticism is practically as old as politics itself. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a largely beloved president and glorified war hero, was targeted in a 1956 attack ad by his Democrat opponent Adlai Stevenson for going quail hunting during the Dien Bien Phu Crisis.

So is this the end of it?

Probably not. Golf is still the best sport ever (obviously), but even Obama insiders have confided the timing of his round so soon after the Foley murder was problematic. Nevertheless, this is all really about the 2016 presidential election. Candidates will start campaigning next year, and Republicans are ideally trying to paint the Democrats as a party unfit to run the country. If it was a Republican in office -- as there may be after the next election -- Democrats would be doing the same thing.


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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Training for better hip rotation

Muscular symmetry is paramount to staying injury free, and you should always exercise muscles on the left and right sides of the body—as well as the back and front—similarly. However, when it comes to synchronizing the downswing and creating clubhead speed, a key ingredient is generating good internal hip rotation on your dominant side (right hip for right-handed swingers). What does having good internal hip rotation mean? If you're sitting as you read this, with your butt on the edge of the chair and feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart, you should be able to touch your left knee to your right and vice versa—or at least come very close—without having to move the other leg inward.

the-loop-fitness-hip-rotation-300.jpgAlthough much of the lower body is active at the start of the downswing, rotating the right hip internally, meaning toward the target, is often cited by golf instructors as the key move if you want to hit solid shots. If you can fire that right hip toward the target as you start down, it's going to cure a host of swing flaws including poor timing and swing path. So how do you train your right hip? The folks at SuperFlex Fitness (@superflexfit), trainer Dave Herman and golf instructor Andrew Park (@theandrewpark), have developed a cool way to do it using a stretch band while you work on your swing.The concept is make you work harder to rotate the hip and really feel what it has to do through resistance.

Watch the video below to see Andrew and one of his students demonstrate it.




And if you're interested in more ways to improve your swing using flex bands, their SuperFlex Golf Swing Kit ($69.95) comes with a variety of bands and how-to instructions. You can buy it at superflexfitness.com. A single band costs $5 to $36 depending on thickness and function.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Instruction

#HelpMeGolfDigest: Shaun Webb fixes your weight shift and head movement

When PGA Tour player David Toms decided to open a golf academy in his hometown of Shreveport, La., he entrusted the chief teaching job to Shaun Webb -- a Maine native with extensive experience using cutting-edge training tools, such as the K-Vest and TrackMan, and who had certification with the Titleist Performance Institute. Webb has also worked with tour players such as Yani Tseng, Peter Hanson and Morgan Hoffman through his affiliation with the academy run by Top 50 teacher Gary Gilchrist in Florida.

This week, Webb reviewed a handful of swings submitted by GolfDigest.com readers through Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #HelpMeGolfDigest. The first comes from @jmsurma, who has a strong swing but needs to clean up some extraneous motion. 



"Nice overall motion, and it would improve with some work on your head movement in the downswing," Webb says. "In the transition and moving into the downswing, make sure your head and the buttons on your shirt move to a point more on top of the ball at impact, and at impact let your head continue to release and move toward the target -- staying even with your belt buckle instead of behind it. You'll really improve your rotation through the shot."


Reader @drizzyhoon could improve his weight shift to produce more power and eliminate an out-to-in swing path.


"As the club reaches the top of the swing and before you change direction into the downswing, feel your weight shifting into your left side," Webb says. "By the time the left arm reaches parallel in the downswing, you should feel at least 70 percent of your weight on your left foot, and continue to move it more left as you finish the swing."


The third swing comes from @ryan_cast, who produces plenty of speed but has to make some in-swing compensations. 


"The swing is a very dynamic motion with a lot of great elements," Webb says. "At address, you have your right forearm higher than your left, which puts you in an open position and hurts the consistency of your takeaway. Even them out, and and at the top of your backswing, make sure you let your hips and right thigh rotate to the right more, which will put you in better position to push off and generate power. It will also prevent your lower body from out-racing your upper body as you move toward impact."

Keep hashtagging those videos #HelpMeGolfDigest and watch for the next round of swing analysis next week.

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Style

Game improvement: Deodorant that won't turn your whites yellow

No matter who you are, chances are you've got some gear in your game that could use an update. While we don't advise retooling everything at once, trading up a few staples at a time is the ticket to solid style. Each week we'll pull a dud from the dark depths of every man's collection and suggest a simple substitute. Check your nostalgia at the door -- it's time for your tune up.

If you're tired of tossing out perfectly good white shirts at the end of every summer due to some unsightly yellowing of the underarm it may be time to upgrade your deodorant. Most big-brand drugstore offerings like Speedstick, Old Spice, Gillette, etc. use aluminum to keep you dry by blocking the pores in your pits, and it's your sweat's chemical reaction with the aluminum that leaves that yellowish residue on your shirts.

loop-Malin-and-Goetz-Deodorant-310.jpgDespite their witty ads and macho scents such as "Arctic Avalanche" or "Glacial Gush" (I made those names up but, you get the point . . .) the big brands are all pretty much made up of the same thing. If you're fed up with replacing the most basic elements of your wardrobe each season I suggest checking out some natural, aluminum-free roll-ons.

My favorite is Malin+Goetz's eucalyptus deodorant. It's made from natural, odor-neutralizing, plant extracts and is aluminum and alcohol free. I've been using it for a year or so and haven't lost a shirt yet. If you feel like making the switch, give your body a few weeks to adjust to the new product. After all, the poor pores have probably been caked in aluminum since puberty! Trust me, the extra expense up front is well worth the money you'll save in shirts.

Malin+Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant, $18
malinandgoetz.com


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Gear & Equipment

What you need to know about Nike's new line of Vapor irons

With all the glitz one would expect from Nike, along with the Manhattan skyline serving as a stunning backdrop, the company introduced its latest iron line -- Vapor -- Monday night. Nike's one-two punch of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods helped do the honors, with "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon serving up questions -- and a few one-liners. (When a cell phone went off as Fallon was about to hit a shot he quipped in tour-player fashion, "No cellphones, please.").

Yet while the trio brought star power and media exposure, somewhat lost in the evening's festivities was the fact Nike is bringing a trio of intriguing iron offerings to market: Vapor Pro ($1,099), Vapor Pro Combo ($999) and Vapor Speed ($799). All three use what Nike calls "modern muscle" technology, with weight moved more towards the toe to relocate the center of gravity closer to the center of the face. It's an innovation brought about primarily due to feedback from Woods.

"My wear spot has always been slightly toward the heel," Woods said. "This center of gravity location provides a better feel and more consistency."

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While Vapor Pro (above) is a modern take on the muscleback blade, Pro Combo (below) is, as the name suggests, a progressive set with more forgiving clubs in the long irons and more traditional clubs in the short irons.

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Vapor Speed (below) is the most forgiving -- and longest -- of the irons.

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The clubs will be available Oct. 31.

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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Tenuous golf connection

Weird golf news of the week: Iowa man gets really creative with golf balls

Ever wonder what people who live on golf courses do with all the balls that get hit into their backyards? Well, you probably wouldn't guess what one Iowa man did.

Related: More weird golf news

Kevin Pingel took nearly 600 balls and turned them into a six-foot, 100-pound statue of a golfer, according to Siouxlandmatters.com. Here's a photo of the structure:

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And here's a video of Pingel, who takes being a golf fanatic to another level, discussing his impressive art project:

Pingel said he modeled the statue -- which is becoming somewhat of a tourist attraction in Alta, Iowa -- after the current swing of his favorite golfer, Tiger Woods. Somewhere, Sean Foley just did a fist pump.

(h/t Back9Network)

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News & Tours

Tiger to Rory: "I'm not going to let you win a green jacket next year"

The back-and-forth commercial. The joint appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon. The dual Ice Bucket Challenge. Tiger Woods has grown close to Rory McIlroy in recent years, but that doesn't mean the 14-time major winner plans on passing golf's torch to the four-time major winner without a fight.

Related: Tiger Woods' on-course "bromances" through the years

On Wednesday, McIlroy mentioned that amid all the good times and playful banter, Woods made clear his goal for the 2015 Masters. "I'm not going to let you win a green jacket next year," Woods told McIlroy, who said the "super competitive" star wasn't joking.

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Considering Woods as a viable threat to win at Augusta in eight months seems like a stretch at this point following a season in which he had back surgery, didn't qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs and withdrew his name for consideration for next month's Ryder Cup. He also won't have won a green jacket of his own in a decade when he tees it up there next. But such a statement showing that Woods' fierce competitive spirit remains healthy is a good sign for those rooting for him to recover and start winning again.

McIlroy added this when asked about taking over for Tiger as golf's new leading man:

"I'm not comfortable because I know [Tiger] is working his butt off to get back here and get back where he wants to be," McIlroy said.

Related: Rory and Jagermeister: An unauthorized history

Let's hope Tiger gets there by next April when McIlroy takes his first attempt at winning the career Grand Slam. It would be nice to see a rivalry between these two great players that goes beyond some Nike ad.

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News & Tours

Rory McIlroy nominated actress Meghan Markle for the Ice Bucket Challenge, then dumped water on her himself

On Tuesday, newfound BFFs Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge together. Tiger nominated Phil Knight and Rafael Nadal, while McIlroy nominated soccer star Wayne Rooney, former president George W. Bush, and actress Meghan Markle, who's best known for her role in the show "Suits".

Markle accepted Rory's challenge but only on one condition: that Rory was the one who dumped the ice water on her -- so he did. Here's the video Markle posted to Vimeo on Wednesday evening:
 

Markle, in turn, nominated Serena Williams, so that's where the golf connection ends. But Markle and McIlroy did share a tweet after the whole event.

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My Usual Game

A visit to our enemy club, and Jimmy's brilliant idea

Our course was closed for the women’s 18-hole member-guest, so Addison, Rick, Other Gene, and I played a round at our enemy club, on the far side of town. We have a semi-reciprocal arrangement with them, and several of their holes have nice views of our state’s second largest natural lake, but I don’t love their course. 

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For Addison, Rick, and me, the visit was partly a scouting mission for our upcoming annual two-day home-and-home match against ten of their guys, but we were happy to return to our own club the next day. Among many other reasons: we don’t necessarily have a rule against groups larger than foursomes.

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We also have highly a developed spirit of camaraderie. For example, here's Addison helping Hacker (real name) search for his second shot in the weeds to the right of the first green (where Addison sometimes hits his first shot):

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One day last summer, Peter A. brought Wayne, an acquaintance of his, as a guest. Wayne was on the golf team at a big university many years ago, but hadn’t played much since. He was so rusty that day that he actually missed his ball on his first attempt at a tee shot, but Barney said you could tell he was a player from the quality of his whiff. Afterward, at lunch -- hot dogs and hamburgers provided by one of the guys, and cooked on the grill in the executive parking lot, outside the men’s-room window -- Wayne asked if it was really true that our clubhouse doesn’t have a restaurant. When we said that it was, he said, “This is the club for me,” and joined. We don’t have a bar, either, unless you count the fridge in the men’s locker room and our two kegerators: 

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Last Sunday, for unknown reasons, one of the kegerators began serving a sort of accidental microbrew, which, if we had decided to market it, we might have called Old Warm & Flat. The guys decided to deal with it by drinking to the bottom of that keg as quickly as possible, and loading another:

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During lunch that day, Jimmy -- who is in his early twenties and, as a consequence, usually has trouble getting up early enough on Sunday to play golf with us in the morning -- had a truly brilliant idea. I realized as I was writing this that I can’t tell you, yet, exactly what his idea is, except to say that it involves these trees:

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