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Missing Links: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus still linked, this time by (course) design

Stories of interest you might have missed…

“Jack Nicklaus designed the neighboring course, and there is more than a touch of irony that the Golden Bear's latest in a long list of projects opened a mere 12 days before Woods christened El Cardonal at Diamante [in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico] to a good bit of fanfare this week. The two men's names have been linked for more than two decades, from the time Woods noted Nicklaus' golf accomplishments as a youth and decided he wanted to surpass the 73 PGA Tour victories (Woods has) and the 18 major championships (Woods has not).” ESPN’s Bob Harig writes about the two legends’ different approaches to their design businesses.

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(Getty Images)

European Ryder Cup player Stephen Gallacher is the latest to go off on slow play in professional golf. “Certain forms of slow play is tantamount to cheating,” Gallagher said in this Scottish Express story. “Guys who know they are slow and get fined all the time but don’t do anything about it are putting people off. They are certainly putting viewers off. The bit I think is akin to cheating is their two paces - when they speed up once they’ve been put on the clock.”

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Jason Palmer of England has earned a European Tour card for the first time, after a long and debilitating battle with the chip yips. How did he persevere? “[W]henever he finds himself within 40 yards of the pin but off the green, he will pitch or chip one-handed, be it from a bunker, rough or fairway. Yes, he does so with only his right hand on the club. Riath Al-Samarrai has the story in the Daily Mail.

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We’ve had disc golf for a while now. Then came foot golf. Now we have smash golf, played with a racket and a rubber ball. “The fact that [Daril] Pacinella was offering a new idea to help business was the clincher, and so Smash Golf had an official home base in Rockledge {Fla.},” Brian McCallum writes in Florida Today. “[Justin Horton, the general manager of Turtle Creek Golf Club] is working to establish a league for the new sport…For now, he's simply hopeful.”

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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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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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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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News & Tours

A bunch of models are trying to out-golf each other on Instagram, which is fine with us

On Monday, it was Sports Illustrated's swimsuit supermodel Nina Agdal:

My golfshoes are cooler than yours.

A photo posted by Nina Agdal (@ninaagdal) on

Too far. The ball never listens to me.

A video posted by Nina Agdal (@ninaagdal) on


On Wednesday, Brooklyn Decker stepped into the fray.

Killer swing dude. (Notice the ball still. on. the. ground.)

A photo posted by Brooklyn Decker (@brooklynddecker) on


Who will be next? Stay tuned as this important story continues to develop.

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News & Tours

Missing Links: Speed up the game to make it more appealing, McIlroy says

Stories of interest you might have missed…

Play faster. That was the message from Rory McIlroy on how to grow the game, according to this BBC story. “Sport England figures show that the number of 16-25-year-olds playing the game regularly almost halved between 2009-10 and 2012-13. ‘Everything's so instant now and everyone doesn't have as much time as they used to,’ world number one McIlroy told BBC Radio 4. ‘So you maybe try some way of speeding the game up.’”

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(Getty Images)

Ernie Els is 45 now, and time is not an ally in his quest to achieve what he once thought was imminent. “When I was young, I was very cocky and thought I was going to win all the majors by nomination,” Els said in this story by Chris Cutmore for the Daily Mail. “I thought the Masters was going to be the first one I’d win and then the Open, and then the US Open and US PGA Championship. Well, I haven’t won the Masters so far and I haven’t won the US PGA, so I’m going to try to win the Masters before I retire. This would possibly be my biggest career achievement.”

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“In a change from her usual routine, Charley Hull plans to give herself a break on Christmas Day and allow herself the chance to toast another season of stunning success. In recent years, while the rest of us have been tucking into our turkey and trimmings, the 18-year-old has been pounding golf balls on the range,” Iain Carter of the BBC writes in this look at her breakout season. “In 2014 she has come of age in every respect and that's why she won't be practising on the big day. ‘I don't think I'm going to this year because I'm 18 and I can drink.’”

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En route to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico, to christen his first course design, Tiger Woods stopped by Blue Jack National, scheduled to be his first U.S. design, outside Houston. “I've been to Houston many times and I never, ever thought that Houston had hills,” Woods said in this story by Jenny Dial Creech in the Houston Chronicle. “I always thought it was a very flat city. To come out here, it was totally different to see this type of topography. It just blew my mind.”

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“Winston Churchill would have been impressed. The late British prime minister delivered one of the most famous quotations in golf when he described it as ‘a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.’” Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press looks at the year gone by from the perspective of the ill-designed weapons, putting forth the best shots struck by them, including Mo Martin’s remarkable 3-wood shot to the 18th hole at Royal Birkdale that enabled her to win the Women’s British Open.

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News & Tours

NASA's Curiosity rover just drilled a golf hole into the surface of Mars

Next time you're heading to Mars, bring your clubs. Am I right?!

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill. Researchers used Curiosity’s onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory a dozen times in a 20-month period to sniff methane in the atmosphere. During two of those months, in late 2013 and early 2014, four measurements averaged seven parts per billion. Before and after that, readings averaged only one-tenth that level. Curiosity also detected different Martian organic chemicals in powder drilled from a rock dubbed Cumberland, the first definitive detection of organics in surface materials of Mars. These Martian organics could either have formed on Mars or been delivered to Mars by meteorites. Organic molecules, which contain carbon and usually hydrogen, are chemical building blocks of life, although they can exist without the presence of life. Curiosity's findings from analyzing samples of atmosphere and rock powder do not reveal whether Mars has ever harbored living microbes, but the findings do shed light on a chemically active modern Mars and on favorable conditions for life on ancient Mars. Pictured here is the drilling into Curiosity's rock target, "Cumberland," during the 279th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (May 19, 2013). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on


Technically, the hole wasn't supposed to be a golf hole. As that beast of caption explains, it was actually the result of a test Curiosity conducted on Mars' soil which has produced some interesting early results.

The rover found a large amount of methane in the soil. Methane is very commonly produced by living organisms, so unless it was brought to Mars by astroids (as scientists accept may be the case), it was almost certainly left there by living microbes, or by organisms that once lived on Mars but have since gone extinct.

Exciting stuff. No word yet on whether the martians are golfers. 

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