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Gear & Equipment

A question of respect?

I have to confess that politics generally bores me, but occasionally I come across something that sheds a light on what's happening in golf, a world we all find much more stimulating and vital. Matt K. Lewis, a senior contributor for The Daily Caller and columnist for The Week, raises an interesting point about where we are with respect to, well, the respect leadership is given in today's world of easy attacks, faceless confrontations and divisiveness as cultural sport. 

Lewis writes in a recent column on the difficulty John Boehner faced in corraling his fellow Republicans in the House: "Meanwhile, this trend coincides with the growing lack of trust in leaders and institutions--and a general lack of respect for leaders--that has been taking place in our society at least since Vietnam.

"Americans once belonged to the same church their whole life, worked at the same job for 40 years, and stayed married to the same person till death did they part. Those days are gone. Institutional loyalty has been degraded, and the person leading such an institution no longer has as much sway as he once did."

Again, forget about politics, please. But think about the decision made a month ago by golf's ruling bodies, two groups that have been entrusted with maintaining and sustaining the game for all of history. Think about the rancor we heard in some circles, clueless critiques of the "amateurs governing the professionals" from some precincts, and the willingness to even suggest that recreational golfers would play by their own rules in a sort of protest response to this new rule if it goes forward. But even beyond the rabble-rousing, it is at least a little confusing or distressing that leading golf organizations, most notably the PGA Tour, the PGA of America and the PGA of Canada, all have come out and questioned whether the rule is necessary. 

This is a not some obscure decision involving temporary immovable obstructions. This is an attempt, belated perhaps but no less sincere because of that fact, to define what is and isn't a golf stroke, what is and isn't fundamental to the nature of the game. In a way it seems almost unnecessary that we ever reached this point, especially when golf's ruling bodies had it right in 1968 in outlawing the croquet style of putting. 

Institutional loyalty simply as a matter of routine shouldn't be defended certainly. We're all for tearing down institutions when we're talking about irrational, murderous despots, or even blind faith in say a David Koresh-Jim Jones type. But as Mike Davis told me a month ago, "We don't want to hurt golfers, we don't want to hurt the game, but we just want to clarify what the game should be. We feel this is the right thing to do and we're passionate about it."

Makes sense, but in this era of distrust and free passes to criticize and tear down without offering solutions, one wonders if passion will be enough. One wonders, especially as another distance debate that seemingly has no winners looms somewhere in either the near or not-so-distant future, whether "the right thing" is a universal truth anymore. 

Maybe what this whole thing needs more is, gulp, a political solution. 

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Gear & Equipment

'Tour Confidential': Aussie golfer's e-book a hit

By John Strege

Ewan Porter is an Australian golf professional, whose career pereptually foundered, notwithstanding two victories in three years. So he turned to media and already has found success easier to come by with the written word.

Tour Confidential.jpeg

Last month, Porter's e-book, "Tour Confidential: Triumph & Torment -- A golfer's life on the global stage," was introduced and was the number one seller among golf books on's Kindle list. It also reached No. 1 among sports books on iTunes. He no doubt received an assist from the Twitter plug provided by Graeme McDowell, who wrote, "Interesting book written by one of the Aussie tour players @ewanports. Bit of an inside the ropes view of the tour."

"I have written a book that will open up people's eyes to the enjoyment, sacrifices, heartache, torture and isolation one endures in attempting to chase the dream of being a professional athlete," Porter wrote in a description of the book.

Golf Channel's Jerry Foltz in a blurb for the book wrote, "His God-given talent is world class...the flare with which he carried himself is second to none...his ability to self destruct is the stuff of legend." Trumping all that, Foltz wrote, is "his ability to openly and honestly share the emotional roller-coaster that life as an aspiring, nomadic, professional golfer dictates. That's a very rare gift."

Porter, 30, won the Tour's Moonah Classic in 2008 and the South Georgia Classic in 2010. But he made the cut in only 23 of 97 Tour starts and missed the cut in the three British Opens for which he qualified. He has said he would explore media opportunites, while still playing professional golf when opportunities present themselves.

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News & Tours

An indignant Norman cuts ties with course he founded

By Tim Rosaforte

HOBE SOUND, Fla. -- The Medalist GC has always been Greg Norman's GC, but no more.

greg-norman-frustrated-300.jpgThe Shark has demanded his name and that of co-designer Pete Dye be taken off the course he founded and wants his memorabilia returned, including the signature shark above the bar in the men's locker room.
Norman's issue is the club's hiring of former Dye disciple Bobby Weed to do a restoration of the original Norman-Dye design that opened in 1995.

Related: Greg Norman's My Shot

In a letter sent to Medalist President De Mudd following a board meeting in early December, Norman demanded that the club stop using his name and Dye's in reference to the design of the course. Saturday morning he called the club to arrange an evening to pick up his belongings. His name will remain on the locker room wall as winner of both the gross and net divisions of the club's member-guest.
"It's really a slap in the face at the end of the day," Norman said via email. "It's the end of a legacy by the board doing what the board is doing now. It hurts a lot to tell the truth. It's a shame."
Weed already began work on some of Medalist's bunkers this summer and was under contract when Norman offered his design company's services for free in May. Norman, who resigned as club president in 2008, points out in the letter to Mudd, "The design integrity of the original designed course has been compromised by your alterations without consultation or discussion with neither Pete Dye nor me."

Related: Greg Norman takes jab at Tiger Woods

Mudd took over in 2010 and is past president at Conway Farms in suburban Chicago. He adopted a dues-only program to tour pros living in the area that has attracted Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. As for the situation with Norman, Mudd said based on club policy he was not allowed to discuss member issues.

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News & Tours

McIlroy closes on Palm Beach Gardens home

Rory McIlroy Home 1.jpg

By John Strege

Rory McIlroy has closed on his purchase of a home on the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., according to realtor Jeff Lichtenstein.

The 15,286 square-foot contemporary home sold for $9.5 million and features "a center glass core and window views everywhere throughout the house," Lichtenstein's blog says. It has six bedrooms, nine baths, a private gym and a putting green, but no tennis court on which his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, can practice. It comes with a dock and room to park a yacht and is one mile from the Bear's Club, a Jack Nicklaus design in Jupiter.

McIlroy, 23, has put his home in Northern Ireland for sale. He is a member of both the PGA Tour and European Tour and led both in earnings in 2012.

Rory McIlroy Home 2.jpg

Rory McIlroy Home 3.jpg

(Photos courtesy of Jeff Lichtenstein)

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Making a better backswing

By Ron Kaspriske

Jonas-Blixt.jpgBackswings come in all shapes and sizes on the PGA Tour, but there is one commonality. Whether it's J.B. Holmes' short-arm approach or Bubba Watson's Gumby-like move off the ball, the best players get their upper bodies fully turned. You'll never see a PGA Tour pro take the club back solely with their arms, but it's a common occurrence among amateurs.

There are two typical reasons for this type of abbreviated backswing. The first is psychosomatic. Amateurs are afraid if they turn their bodies away from the ball, they will swing and miss. The second is a physical issue. Many players can't turn more than a few inches because of limited mobility in their hips and mid-back.

If you fall into category No. 2, Golf Digest fitness advisor Randy Myers says there are a couple of simple exercises you can do to improve your turn. Myers, who works with many PGA Tour players including Dustin Johnson, turned on the camera and had trainer Jorge Parada and PGA Tour rookie Jonas Blixt (pictured) demonstrate them. Add these moves to your workout and you'll soon be making a better turn. Click on the video below to watch.

Ron Kaspriske is fitness editor for Golf Digest. His Fitness Friday column will resume on Jan. 4th.

(Photo by Getty Images
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Gear & Equipment

Ping's Solheim files equipment handicap system patent

A year after announcing an idea for rating balls based on distance so that different courses, tournaments or even players could compete using balls that fly comparatively shorter or farther compared to today's standards, Ping Chairman and CEO John Solheim announced today a formal patent application that details an equipment rating formula as a factor in calculating a golfer's handicap.

Solheim's original proposal, which was shared with both the U.S. Golf Association and golf manufacturers, called for three types of balls, and the announcement today formalizes handicapping based on equipment. It seems to be an indication that Solheim believes there's a trend that multiple kinds of equipment or multiple kinds of equipment standards could be prevalent in the game's future.

"The tone coming from the USGA and R&A in recent years suggests another significant equipment rollback may not be far away," said Solheim in a press release issued by Ping. Solheim applied for the patent in June of 2011. "We've already seen it with the groove rule and the proposed rule banning anchoring. We continue to hear whispers of more changes. But as we're also reading on the proposed anchoring ban, many directly involved in the game favor more equipment options, not fewer. I'm looking for ways to keep the game enjoyable for every level of golfer."

In a conversation with on Tuesday, Solheim suggested his primary motivation in the idea, whose overall specifics will be revealed when the patent is expected to be published tomorrow, is to keep more people playing golf. 

"What we would hope to do is to get people thinking about the issues, open their eyes a little bit because we need to find ways to keep people in the game longer," he said, indicating he was not in favor of multiple sets of rules. "I think the rules could be written to allow for it and still not be bifurcation."

According to the Ping press release, "The patent application details numerous scenarios in which equipment could be rated (balls that go varying distances, for example) and are also factored in with current variables, such as the challenge presented by each individual course.   Solheim suggests the expanded equipment options could be approved as "Conditions of Competition" so the new method of handicapping could exist within the current set of rules.

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News & Tours

The 2012 Trending Awards (aka, the Trendies)

By Derek Evers


Some trends are fleeting, like parachute pants and fanny packs, while others go on to become cultural institutions -- like anchored putting (OK, bad example). And with each one, we ride the highs and lows that accompany the graduation of fads, from passing to fixtures. 2012 was no exception. With that in mind, here are the top trends from the world of golf I hope to see stick around for at least one more year.

#5. Crying at majors

While still too early to tell if this will become a regular occurrence, Bubba Watson set the bar high with his post-Masters breakdown. Of course, not every major winner has Tim Tebow's shoulder to cry on, but it's nice to see that someone had the guts to let the waterworks flow outside of a Steve Stricker presser.

Related: Trending: Michael Phelps professional golfer?

#4. Twitter fighting

We expect reality TV stars and celebrity break-ups to be the thing Twitter dreams are made of, but golfers creating controversy? You bet, and there was no shortage of it in 2012. While most of it skewed from the right side of the aisle, there was plenty of blame to go around. Luke Donald and Gil Hanse in a cock fight? Done. Does blasting the President make you a better Ryder Cup captain? Not sure, but threatening people to fights over the social-networking platform definitely won't win you many supporters. And it wasn't just the men. Brittany Lincicome and Christina Kim started a feud that drew in boyfriends and three other LPGA colleagues. Whether for entertainment or debate fodder at the water cooler, we're all a little bit better when the golf world opens up on Twitter.

#3. Tell-all books about Tiger Woods

With three victories, including his first in over two years, 2012 will be remembered as the year Tiger came back. Unfortunately for Hank Haney, it will not be remembered as the year of the Big Miss (there's an overused golf joke in there somewhere). For all the controversy it created at the start of the season -- eventually hitting No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list -- it didn't deliver much in the way of dirt slinging, which is why I want to see more unauthorized biographies on the bookshelves in 2013. Do we really need to wait for the movie version to get the juicy story we all crave? Oh wait, that already happened.

Related: Trending: Is the 'Is Tiger Woods Back?' debate back?

#2. Tour wives/significant others tweeting/Instagramming photos of their husbands/boyfriends

They seem untouchable on the course, so it's refreshing to see tour pros in some awkward moments off of it thanks to the prying camera lenses of their significant others. Whether it's as innocuous as Hunter Mahan strolling through Penn Station with his clubs as caught by wife Kandi, or as scandalous as a topless, sleeping Rory courtesy of Caroline Wozniacki, this is a trend we hope continues well into the two-thousand-and-teens.

#1. Unconventional putting strokes

The days of the long putter being a fad are well behind us, but with the new anchor ban going into effect in a mere half-decade, we can expect to see all sorts of new putting styles come into use in 2013. You thought KJ Choi's half-Sneed or AdamScott's anchor claw was unique, wait til you see the forearm grip. And the new year hasn't even started! Just another reason to hope the Mayans were wrong.

Happy new year!

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Courses & Travel

Counting Down Best of Buddies-Trip Destinations. No. 7: Palm Springs

Palm Springs isn’t the best spot for a true “buddies trip” made up of 30- or 40-somethings looking to play golf by day and walk a tightrope of trouble at night. After decades of decadence, I’d delicately say the destination suffers from a reputation of soft and squishy. (Think over-ripe banana.) Oddly, and ironically, Palm Springs does work for a couples golf trip, and it was my first choice for a family golf trip to celebrate my father’s 75th birthday. (My two older brothers completed the foursome.)
With a wide range of ages, handicaps and various levels of golf enthusiasts, the flat desert terrain, some of the forgiving fairways, idyllic weather in November and Arnold Palmer’s Steakhouse were a good fit for our needs.
Blog_LaQuinta.jpgWe stayed at La Quinta Resort & Spa, which, in 2009, was in the midst of an impressive and expensive renovation. We reserved two of the Spanish casitas, complete with lounge space, flatscreens and small pools, which would help cool competitive Ginella tempers. (I should've never had my brothers share a cart.)
After all of my travels, I still say the Mountain Course is a unique experience for the avid amateur.

Blog_Mountain.jpgThere are points within the round in which you are playing along the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. We couldn’t resist the urge to stop, look up and around, and be in awe of what seemed to be a massive movie set.
There’s nothing incredibly unique or memorable about the Nicklaus and Norman resort courses at PGA West, but they were both good additions to our itinerary.
I’ve played the TPC Stadium Course, but not on the trip with dad and brothers. Like the ocean (and The Ocean Course at Kiawah), I respect the Stadium for what it can and has done to me physically and emotionally, but it would’ve been too much for this crew.

Blog_Stadium.jpgMy dad, who suffers from old Italian pride and aging knees, would’ve buckled under the weight of the hike, deep bunkers and testy approach shots. My brothers would’ve broken clubs (or each other) before we got to the fifth hole.
The Dunes, the fifth course the resort offers to its guests, is on the opposite end of the Stadium in terms of difficulty. It would be the late-afternoon option if you wanted to play an emergency bag-of-beers 18 with a scramble or alternate-shot format. 
If you had connections or were owed a favor by a member, I’d try to play Palmer and/or Nicklaus private courses. The Palmer is more recognizable as the course used for the final round of the Bob Hope (now Humana Challenge), but you might be more impressed by the routing and the intimacy of the Nicklaus private:

Blog_NicPrivate.jpgAs perfect as La Quinta was for our needs, my combative brothers still almost came to blows over, among other things, slow play.

The pool wasn’t cool enough to chill this sibling rivalry.
--Matty G.

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News & Tours

Jack Nicklaus hopes to continue ceremonial tee shot tradition at Masters

By Stephen Hennessey

This April, when the golf world's attention turns to Augusta National as it does at the start of every spring, it will mark two special 50th anniversaries.

In 1963, a then-23-year-old Jack Nicklaus, coming off his historic playoff win against Arnold Palmer at the 1962 U.S. Open, became the youngest winner in Masters history.

At the start of that tournament, Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod hit the first ceremonial opening tee shots. Now 50 years later, Nicklaus hopes to continue the tradition started in his first win, by again joining fellow legends of the game -- Arnold Palmer and Gary Player -- at Augusta.


Nicklaus is greeted by Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne in April before hitting the ceremonial tee shot, with Palmer and Player. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

"I don't think that letter [from Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne] has come, one way or the other. But I would assume that it will," Nicklaus said Tuesday in a small teleconference with some media members ahead of the 50-year anniversary of his first green jacket. "It's not my call. but I would assume we'd probably do that. And how long we do it? I don't know. It's not my call. I mean, it's the Chairman's call. We'll just go from there, on a year-to-year basis and see what happens."

Kindred: Jack, Arnie and Player hope to continue tradition

Asked also if he'd be playing in the 2013 Masters, in honor of the special anniversary, Nicklaus was caught off guard. He had just competed with son Gary in the PNC Father/Son Challenge this past weekend, finishing T-6 and just four strokes back of winners Davis Love III and his son Dru. But Jack hasn't teed it up for real in the Masters since retiring in 2005.

Golf fans, of course, would love to see the Big Three competing for real, or at least playing a ceremonial nine holes, as Hutchison and McLeod did at the start of the tradition. Player joined Palmer and Nicklaus for the first time last year, with Jack joining Palmer at the start of Thursday in 2009.

But just to hear Nicklaus recollect on his Masters victories was a nice respite from the cold December weather.

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News & Tours

Stingers: Colin Montgomerie is a Hall of Famer?

By Alex Myers

I'll admit, I was never much of a Colin Montgomerie fan. But that changed -- at least, briefly -- when I drew the plum assignment of following the Scot around Winged Foot in one of Sunday's final groups at the 2006 U.S. Open.

A week shy of his 43rd birthday and with his career in its twilight, Monty managed to hold things together as well as anyone that day on the treacherous A.W. Tillinghast track, and I, a young reporter rooting for a great story, believed I had lucked my way into covering this unlikely major championship win from inside the ropes. Then, Montgomerie pulled, well, a Montgomerie.


Photo by Getty Images

Pumped up from draining a 50-footer for birdie on No. 17 to take a share of the lead with Phil Mickelson, Montgomerie found the 18th fairway (something Phil famously wouldn't accomplish minutes later), but chose a 7-iron for the uphill, 172-yard shot. He didn't come close. A pitch and three putts later, Monty, like Mickelson, wound up one shot behind winner Geoff Ogilvy. Unlike Phil, Monty didn't collect his runner-up trophy at the awards ceremony, instead storming off and reportedly having an altercation with a New York state trooper.

Related: The most grueling U.S. Opens ever

Just like that, Montgomerie's final opportunity to capture a major championship was gone. One would think his chances at being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame had vanished as well. I was wrong.

On Tuesday morning, Montgomerie was named the latest player to earn entry into the Hall (receiving just 51% of the vote on the international ballot), despite the fact he will never win one of its four biggest tournaments. Even more stunning? Montgomerie has never won a single PGA Tour event. I guess I missed the announcement that the Hall of Fame is now just the "Hall of Very Good"?

The case for Montgomerie? A sterling Ryder Cup record and 31 wins on the European PGA Tour, which he dominated during the 1990s to the tune of four Player of the Year awards and finishing first on the Order of Merit (money list) seven times, adding an eighth in 2005. Those are impressive accomplishments, but keep in mind that tour's depth wasn't nearly what it is now -- when it is still a distant No. 2 to the PGA Tour.

Meanwhile, Montgomerie played his fair share of tournaments in the States and often came close to winning, including losing playoffs at both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. But he never got the job done. Not in a major. Not in a Honda Classic.

Related: Ryder Cup heroes & goats

Earlier this year, Fred Couples, with his 15 PGA Tour wins and one major, was also selected to the Hall. Like Monty, Freddie was no slam dunk to get the nod, especially so soon. But the pair's speedy selection, while others with similar credentials like Ken Venturi have had to wait so long, is just the latest case of Hall of Fame standards -- not just in golf, but in all sports -- being lowered.

If guys with no major titles are going to start being inducted, what's going to happen to all the one-time winners, who have become so abundant during this recent era of parity? Good thing there's plenty of space on that St. Augustine property.

Maybe it's a little harsh, but I had a front-row seat for Monty's chance at true golfing immortality. Like that ill-fated approach shot, he came up short.

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