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5 things to talk about with your buddies on the course this weekend

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. Tiger & Rory: Golf's most famous besties had quite a Monday when they plugged Nike equipment and appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon together. They also took turns dumping cold water on each other for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and then Rory told everyone that Tiger said he's not going to let him win a green jacket next year. We can only hope this friendship turns into a friendly rivalry. Oh yeah, Rory also nominated actress Meghan Markle and then did the ice dumping on her personally. Apparently, Rory is a huge fan of the show "Suits" -- apparently, huge fans of that show exist. At least, that's his story. Don't be too jealous, Tiger!

Related: Rory and Jagermeister: An unauthorized history

2. Mo'ne Davis: What a phenomenon this 13-year-old girl has become. She became the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series and her success landed her on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Nearly five million people tuned in to watch her next start! It didn't go very well, but it doesn't diminish what this incredible girl has done this summer. Show me the Mo'ne!


3. FedEx Cup Playoffs: Speaking of being shown the money, you guys realize that the golfer who comes out on top of this four-week bonanza gets a $10 MILLION bonus, right? Think about that the next time you're shaking over a four-footer to halve your $2 Nassau.

Related: The top 10 earners in FedEx Cup history

4. Johnny Manziel: We are still about two weeks from the NFL's regular season kicking off, but football -- in particular, Johnny Football -- has already taken over the sports news. It seems like there's more Manziel coverage on a typical ESPN SportsCenter than there are highlights of all 30 MLB teams combined. When he flipped the bird at an opposing team's sideline in a preseason game, it became the week's top story. And he's only been named the Cleveland Browns' BACKUP quarterback! Don't worry, though, you can buy "Johnny Clipboard" shirts now to help get your Johnny Football fix. Enough about this guy already! (OK, so those shirts are pretty awesome.)

Related: Why this has been the least exciting season of majors since 2000

5. Popstars paying to play: The NFL is so powerful, it's reportedly narrowed its choices of prospective Super Bowl halftime show acts to Coldplay, Rihanna, and Katy Perry -- and it's asking them to pay for the honor of performing. To be fair, we can think of a few songs Rihanna should pay us to listen to. Sorry, but I'm Team Katy all the way! I mean, (*deeper voice*) Team Coldplay! Yeah, Team Coldplay. . .

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Team USA (including a shirtless Bubba for some reason) the latest to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge

After being called out by captain Tom Watson on Tuesday, seven members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Wednesday. Here's the video, courtesy of the (WARNING: the guy without a shirt on is Bubba Watson):

Rickie Fowler emceed the event and nominated teammates Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, who missed the festivities (Mickelson's caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay was in attendance and dumped the freezing water on Furyk), as well as the European team.


Related: Tiger's smart Ryder Cup decision and Lindsey Vonn shows off in the gym

That might be tricky since automatic qualifying hasn't ended for Europe yet. But when the team is finalized, we know its top player, Rory McIlroy, is excused. On Tuesday, the 25-year-old Northern Irishman did the challenge with pal Tiger Woods.

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Malcolm Gladwell says if he was lost on a desert island, he would choose to bring golf clubs

The question to Malcolm Gladwell, the renowned author and New Yorker staff writer, was simple: If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring along only one luxury item, what would you choose?

The question was part of a BBC Radio 4 show called Desert Island Discs, and Gladwell's answer was clear: he'd bring golf clubs. Gladwell doesn't play golf and probably never will, he said, but would nevertheless bring a set of clubs because it's the only situation that would allow him enough time to master the sport.

His full response:

"A set of golf clubs. I don't golf. I've never golfed. I will never golf. Why? Because it's a preposterous sport that chews up enormous amounts of time, it leads to nothing but frustration, but I'm on a desert island. I can construct a little golf course and I can while away the hours, you know, teaching myself how to play, so I thought that would be the only time in my life when I can actually master that sport."

Gladwell brings up golf occasionally in his various public appearances. At the 2014 MIT Sports Analytics Conference, Gladwell said golf is a sport where his 10,000 rule could potentially apply. In a 2013 TV documentary about his work, Gladwell's best friend talked about him being "obsessed" with Tiger Woods.

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President Obama is tracking his golf stats like a total champ right now

President Barack Obama has been under a lot of fire recently for playing what his critics say is too much golf -- especially after he played with former Boston Celtics and Miami Heat basketball player Ray Allen last Saturday at Martha's Vineyard. But the most interesting thing about Obama's round with Allen isn't who his partner was, but rather what he was playing with.

You'll see in the picture below an arrow pointing to a red thing clipped to Obama's belt. That's GAME golf, a stats-tracking tool that we've written about before.

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The way it works is pretty simple: players will plug red trackers into the grip-end of all their clubs and tap it against the red thing on their belt before they hit their shots. 

At the end of your round, you connect the device and can start analyzing all the shots your tracker just captured. It can tell you things like driving distance and accuracy, greens in regulation, scrambling percentage and number of putts. We tried to look up President Obama's stats but, alas, it appears he's using an alias.


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Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to join Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show"

Rory McIlroy's recent run has made him golf's clear best player, but next Monday he'll share top billing with the game's biggest star.

Related: The defining moments from the PGA Championship

According to NBC, McIlroy and Tiger Woods will both be Jimmy Fallon's guests on "The Tonight Show" on Monday, Aug. 18. Oddly, a brief summary of their appearance that featured a very outdated photo of McIlroy and an inaccurate statement that "Woods most recently captured the 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship" was taken down.


We should be able to count on the host being more up to date on his golf. Fallon appeared on the June cover of Golf Digest and on Monday did a segment in which he made fun of several PGA Tour player media guide photos.

Usually the most recent major winner would make a media tour by himself, but Woods and McIlroy are good friends, and ESPN's Bob Harig writes the two are scheduled to appear at nearby Liberty National ("The Tonight Show" tapes in NYC) that day on behalf of Nike. Woods might also be trying to get revenge on Fallon for this:

Related: Tiger's on-course buddies through the years

Also scheduled to appear on the show? Bill Cosby. Yeah, you might want to go ahead and set your DVR.

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PGA Tour does have sense of humor, responds to Jimmy Fallon's bit

Give the PGA Tour credit for showing that contrary to popular opinion it does indeed have a sense of humor. Here is its response to the spoof of tour players' mug shots that the Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon aired on Monday night:

Here is Fallon's Tonight Show bit:

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The L.A. Kings have been taking the Stanley Cup to every golf course that will have them this summer

By Sam Weinman

Hockey players have a curious relationship with golf. On the one hand, it is a preferred offseason pastime for NHLers -- a competitive outlet that does not involve routinely stitching up your forehead. On the other, it is also the fallback insult when referencing the disappointing end to a hockey season. As in, "Time to get out the golf clubs, losers!" (No one said hockey fans were especially clever.)

For instance, check out this photo NHL veteran Brad Richards (second from left) posted of his recent golf trip to Scotland. Along with Richards (and Fredrik Modin and Tim Taylor) that's Martin St. Louis on the far right. Both players were part of the New York Rangers' unsuccessful run to the Stanley Cup Finals this year, and both have that look that says, "This would be a lot more fun if we actually won the Cup."

And it's true: golf with the Stanley Cup IS a lot more fun. How do we know? Because members of the team that beat the Rangers in the finals, the L.A. Kings, have been escorting the Cup to seemingly every golf course in North America this summer, and looking quite smug in the process (I'm a Rangers fan. Do I sound bitter? OK, I'm a little bitter).

For starters, here's star defenseman Drew Doughty at London (Ont.) Golf Club.

And there's defenseman Jake Muzzin.

Followed by equipment manager (!) Darren Granger.

And lastly, there's Jarret Stoll, the plucky two-way center for the Kings who not only has the great fortune of being broadcaster Erin Andrews' boyfriend, but who also recently took the Cup home to his native Saskatchewan.

Here he is with his new best friend resting comfortably on the cart.

And there's Stanley giving Jarret a little help with a read on the greens.

"I'd favor the right side, but don't give away the cup." 

Get it? Cup?

Sorry. This is all still a little too raw for me.

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5 things to talk about with your buddies on the course this weekend

By Alex Myers

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. Dustin Johnson: A couple weeks after contending on the weekend at the British Open, Johnson announced he's taking a leave of absence from pro golf. Johnson will miss the season's final major as well as the Ryder Cup. We hope he gets the help he needs and gets better quickly. Johnson is a fantastic talent to watch on the course. And yes, we don't mind seeing his fiancee at PGA Tour events either.

Related: Photos of Dustin Johnson and Paulina Gretzky

2. MLB trade deadline: The Yankees were among the most active, but let's talk about a couple teams that are actually title contenders. The Oakland A's and the Detroit Tigers were the two best teams in the American League before Thursday's deadline and now they're even better. Both added ace left-handed starters with the A's acquiring Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox (a bold move by GM Billy Beane -- Moneyball! -- who traded cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes) and the Tigers snatching David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays. Oakland already had the second-best team ERA in the A.L. and Detroit now has the league's last three Cy Young winners. That should be a heck of an ALCS in October. Well, if you like low-scoring games.


3. PGA Championship: OK, so we know DJ isn't winning, but there's so much else to discuss about next week's tournament at Valhalla. Can Rory McIlroy win again and officially take back the No. 1 ranking? Will the current No. 1, Adam Scott, win major No. 2? Is it finally time for Tiger Woods to get to major No. 15? How cruel is making players wear pants on a Kentucky golf course in August? Again, plenty to discuss.

Related: Rory and Jagermeister: An unauthorized history

4. The 2000 PGA Championship: You can't mention the PGA at Valhalla and not talk about the classic tournament staged there in 2000. You know, the time some guy named Bob May took on Tiger at the height of his powers and nearly won? Both men shot back-nine 31s that Sunday before Woods prevailed in large part due to a particularly memorable birdie putt (the run and point!) on the first extra hole. Hopefully, we're in store for another finish like that. We could use it after three majors in 2014 that have had all the Sunday drama of an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos.

Related: Why this has been the least exciting season of majors since 2000

5. The government: How bad are things between our country's main two political parties? Republicans are now suing Democratic President Barack Obama, and Speaker John Boehner is leading the charge. We're not taking sides. We're just disappointed their golf bond wasn't enough to overcome their differences off the course. Maybe they should play 36 next time?

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Oregon star QB Marcus Mariota is taking only golf and yoga next semester

By Keely Levins

Marcus Mariota may be one of the top prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft, but the senior quarterback at the University of Oregon and I actually have more in common than you'd think: he's taking two classes this fall to complete his degree. If you take my thesis out of the equation, I took two classes during a semester of my senior year, too. We're basically twins!  Only Mariota's two classes are Golf and Yoga. Yep, Golf and Yoga. That's it.

I was pretty impressed with Mariota's class choices, so I looked up Oregon's course catalog to see what a semester of golf looks like. First of all, the course catalog for the Physical Education department is huge.

(Photo: Getty Images)

There are five different Golf offerings Mariota could be taking: Golf I, Golf II, Golf III, Golf Swing Exercise, or Men's Golf. Assuming he's a beginner and taking Golf I, his semester will look like this: "Introduction to the game. The majority of class time is at the driving range learning swing techniques for distance, pitching, chipping and putting, rules, etiquette, and golf vocabulary. Includes 4 free rounds of play during the term. Students must provide their own transportation." Four free rounds of play?! Unreal. That's basically saying  your homework is to go and play golf. For free. At least four times. 

But then I started thinking, what if Mariota isn't a beginner? What if he's trying to hone his game this semester? Golf Swing Exercise is a course where you learn to "Improve your golf swing in the off season via swing specific exercises." This class seems like a logical choice for an elite athlete. I don't think the Heisman Trophy hopeful would have trouble with any exercises. 

Regardless of which Golf class Mariota is taking this upcoming semester, we're sure his teammates are glad he'll have plenty of time to commit to football.

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5 things to talk about with your buddies on the course this weekend

By Alex Myers

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. Rory McIlroy: It's been a few days since his British Open win, but there's still a buzz around the 25-year-old Northern Irishman. How many majors will he end up winning? Did he really drink Jagermeister from the claret jug? How many girlfriends does he have? It's McIlroymania in golf right now. 

Related: Rory and Jagermeister: An unauthorized history

2. NFL training camps: People always make a big deal when pitchers and catchers report to spring training, but what about quarterbacks and wide receivers reporting to training camp? The start of these practices indicates the start of the actual season is about a month away. Get excited! Unlike in baseball, in the NFL your team actually has a chance to be good every year.

3. "Fifty Shades Of Grey": Has there ever been more hype for the release of a movie trailer? I haven't seen it yet, nor have I read the books, nor do I care about any of it or have I even heard of the movie's co-stars, Jamie Dornan or Dakota Johnson (below), but it doesn't matter. Having it come up in conversations seems almost unavoidable at this point.


4. Charles Barkley: We all know he's bad at golf, but he might have reached a new low last week. Barkley competed participated embarrassed himself in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, making a total of zero pars or birdies in 54 holes. He made five bogeys and 49 double bogeys, and before you go, "Well, he didn't make any triple bogeys, at least," know this: There were no triple bogeys in the modified Stableford format. While Tiger Woods' post-Hank Haney struggles have made the instructor look good, Haney's inability to cure the game's worst celebrity golfer leaves a blemish on his teaching resume. When you're hacking it around this weekend, just think of this scorecard and know things could be worse:


Related: Notable NBA stars who love playing golf

5. Old golfers: We'll end with a thought that should be much more uplifting to amateur hacks all over the world: you can play great golf as a geezer. In fact, the Champions Tour should change its motto to "These OLD guys are good." Tom Watson leads this charge having recently made cuts playing with the young guys at the Greenbrier and the British Open. For the week at Hoylake, Old TW shot a final-round 68 to dust Young TW by five shots. Imagine a 50-year-old Michael Jordan being able to hang with today's NBA players? OK, bad example since MJ probably could, but you get the point. Keep playing golf -- and keep your fingers crossed that equipment keeps improving.

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