Forward Press: The silly season begins at the Old Course, big exemptions on the line elsewere

September 28, 2015

The silly season is here! Or, what remains of those bygone days when miscellaneous events filled up the calendar until the PGA Tour returned in January.

With the PGA Tour set to start up again in a few weeks, a funny thing has happened: A lot of people kinda miss the oddball formats, variety and relaxed fun of the silly season.

What fun remains fun kicks off with the European Tour offering its version of The Crosby. Though the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship isn’t as fun as the old Dunhill Cup (a three-man international team stroke-match play tourney replaced in 2001), the event aims to soak up the St. Andrews spirit and, well, spirits. With South African businessman Johan Rupert playing the role of Bing Crosby, this pro-am at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns is now circled on Euro Tour calendars as a marquee event.

The lead marquee name this year will be The Old Course, which is said to have made a fantastic recovery from The Open Championship after giving us a thrilling Open Championship finis. Like it has for four hundred or so years, Swilken Burn, the bridge, the Road and the Home of Golf will have to step in as the star attraction with Rory McIlroy sitting this one out and pre-tournament favorite Louis Oosthuizen likely having to withdraw.

“It’s many Walker Cuppers' first pro event,” Rupert tells Forward Press. “We have plenty of good and pros and excited amateurs. The weather predictions are good. Single malt, red wine and cigar possibilities look excellent.”

The highest ranked players in the field: Brooks Koepka, Branden Grace and Martin Kaymer.

The biggest names: Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, John Daly, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.

The Walker Cuppers are Paul Dunne, who played in the last pairing of The Open’s final round before finishing 30th, and England’s Ashley Chesters making his pro debut as well.

The celebrity quotient, which in recent years has been headlined by actor Michael Douglas, swimmer Michael Phelps and comedian Bill Murray, is decidedly British this year with Sir Ian Botham (England Test cricket legend), Sir Steve Redgrave (five-time Olympic gold medal rower), actor Hugh Grant and music’s Ronan Keating headlining the amateur field.

The Golf Channel air times:

Thursday: 8 am-Noon (live)

Friday: 8 am-Noon (live)

Saturday: 8 am-Noon (live)

Sunday: 7:30am-12:30 pm (live)

If you still have an Old Course hangover or still blame it for costing Jordan Spieth a chance at a Grand Slam, check out these mood brighteners.

At last year’s Dunhill, this super cool time lapse was recorded as the Old Course greenkeeping team, led by Course Manager Gordon McKie, prepared for a day’s play at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. And just remember, this place got it start with rabbits and sheep doing the mowing.

This time lapse of the Hell Bunker’s reconstruction is pretty sweet too.

And for the flat-brimmed hat and college-loan burdened set, Erik Anders Lang goes to St. Andrews for the first time in this Skratch TV exclusive, searching for Old Tom Morris, taking a bagpipe lesson and all while trying to get on The Old Course.

Not-So Silly Events: Tour Finals, Asia-Pacific Amateur

The Tour Finals tee off at TPC Sawgrass’ Valley Course and PGA Tour cards are on the line. For a full explanation (friends and family) of what’s on the line and how the “priority” ranking works, check out the PGA Tour’s special page devoted to the finals.

Tournament airtimes: Thursday-Sunday on Golf Channel are 3-6 p.m. ET (live).

In Hong Kong, the Lords of Augusta National bring their exemption to the Masters along with their green coats, with (already!) the seventh playing of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. The event has already produced two stars of varying classifications in Hideki Matsuyama and Guan Tianlang. As always, live streaming will be available on the tournament website and ESPN2 will be televising in the U.S., with Bill Macatee, Frank Nobilo, Dottie Pepper and Bruce Young announcing.

Airtime on ESPN2: First, second and third round play on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1-3, will air at 2 a.m. each day.

Sunday's final round airs at 3 a.m. Additional coverage of play in the third and final rounds airs at midnight Saturday and Sunday on ESPN3.

A final round highlights program will air Sunday at 4:30 p.m

Judging by this aerial tour over the Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club and surrounding area, the course is going to look pretty spectacular on television.

Definitely Not Silly, Just Cool: Warrior Open Playing For A Spot In Tahoe

For the second year in a row, American Century Investments invites the winner of the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Warrior Open, Sept. 29-30, 2015 at Las Colinas Country Club, to play (all expenses paid) in the American Century Championship. That’s the celebrity golf tournament headlined in 2015 by Justin Timberlake and broadcast on NBC. As part of the Warrior Open prize package, the 2015 Champion Cup winner gets to spend July 19-24, 2016 in Lake Tahoe and compete against more than 80 celebrities and athletes for a portion of the $600,000 American Century Championship purse.

Last year’s Warrior Open Champ U.S. Army Sergeant Major Rodney Gorman earned the opportunity to play in the 2015 American Century Championship, where he achieved a 14th place finish in a field of 90.

To give you an idea of the caliber of player competing at Las Colinas, check out this short clip on Michael Meyer. He was shot 8 times in Iraq and says golf he started playing at Camp Pendleton during his rehab saved his life.

Silly Talk: The Firm Of Feherty, Clarke, Love, Saban and Ashworth

David Feherty has the next two Ryder Cup captains on a special live edition to ratchet up the hype exactly one year in advance of the matches at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Darren Clarke and Davis Love don’t figure to brawl at Minneapolis’ historic Orpheum Theater, but we’ll find out just what kind of friendship the rivals have under the assault of Feherty’s withering and, hopefully funny, questioning. 9 pm ET. Tuesday on Golf Channel.

The Ryder Cup talk culminates with a day devoted to the one-year-out theme, starting with a four-hour Morning Drive featuring Damon Hack at Hazeltine, an expanded Golf Central and a re-airing of the War By The Shore Documentary (5 pm ET).

On Wednesday, September 30th, a normal 9 pm ET episode of Feherty with guest Nick Saban makes its debut. The chat bookends last week’s visit with SEC counterpart Steve Spurrier. Saban is said by a preview press release “to be sharing life lessons learned from playing the game of golf to molding and shaping his student athletes both on and off the field.”

Alabama fans probably just want to know if it means they’ll get better quarterback play this year.

If Ryder Cup or SEC football talk a year out isn’t your thing, longtime golf style and clothing brand icon John Ashworth will be on Tuesday’s Callaway Live (also 9 pm ET) to discuss his Linksoul line and the effort to save Oceanside’s Goat Hill (Facebook page here).

Replays of the first year, 30-minute show can be watched any time at the Callaway Live page.