Golfing News & Blog Articles

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First Positive Test: Players Express Surprise At Lax Hilton Head Scene, Veterans Hope It's A Wake-Up Call

Come to Hilton Head Island and act like it never happened!

Or something like that, at least if you go by post-round comments at the RBC Heritage where players wondered if Nick Watney was an unlucky victim of a lax distancing and mask scene.

Justin Thomas was probably the most blunt about the scene, as Joel Beall reports for GolfDigest.com.

"Yeah, obviously, I was bummed [about Watney]. I don't want to—it's a shame because ... we have done such a great job these first two weeks,” Thomas said. “I mean, no offense to Hilton Head, but they're seeming to not take it very seriously. It's an absolute zoo around here. There's people everywhere. The beaches are absolutely packed. Every restaurant, from what I've seen when I've been driving by, is absolutely crowded. So I would say it's no coincidence that there's got to be a lot of stuff going on around here.

“Unfortunately, that's not on Nick because I know he's very cautious and has done everything he can, but I would say a lot of people in this area of Hilton Head just aren't.”

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Sergio On Nick Watney: "There's a lot of other people that probably deserved [COVID-19] a lot more than him"

On a white board somewhere in Ponte Vedra Beach, there was a list of reasons why PGA Tour needed to be careful in returning before most American sports.

I think we’d all agree that a top 3 lock sounded something like player and caddie safety in a time of pandemic. Next, there was surely something about doing damage to efforts at keeping golf or all other sports viable. Shoot, maybe something about not hurting the image of the game. Well, the PGA Tour.

Anyway, I’m fairly certain another top three reason would have been wishing the virus on a fellow player. Actually, no one in their right mind would think a player might…oh, wait, you said Sergio’s playing this week?

Sigh.

Following a third round 65 that has him two strokes off the RBC Heritage, Sergio Garcia accomplished at least one thing: he got Rory McIlroy out of the lead for the week’s Most Regrettable Comment.

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What Went Wrong? First PGA Tour Player To Test COVID-19 Positive Had Symptoms Before Arriving At Course

PGA Tour Statement On Nick Watney

News of Nick Watney becoming the first PGA Tour player to test positive for COVID-19 was met with a fairly consistent chorus of “a matter of when, not if”.

However, a quick review suggests the PGA Tour “bubble” has burst in just week two of the “Return to Golf.”

There will be wide-ranging implications for public health, Watney’s peers, golf tournaments going forward and even the entire sports business world. The “matter of when, not if” view discounts what appears to be sloppiness by Watney at the very least, and signs early on that PGA Tour policies were too lenient or simply not enforceable due to player apathy.

A review, starting with this sequence of events from AP’s Doug Ferguson reporting from the RBC Heritage on Watney’s movements.

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Today In Microphone Wearing Wars: Koepka Scolds Announcers, Hadwin Gives Us Access To His Penalty

As galleries are kept away and likely will for most tournaments this year, the importance of sound continues to be a topic. Who knew it was this sensitive? Oh right, anyone who has dealt with modern golf pros who think they’re carrying out an NSA mission.

World No. 2 Brooks Koepka added this on the eve of the 2020 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, reports Stephen Fastenau of the Island Packet.

Asked about his thought on players wearing microphones after his first round at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, Koepka didn’t hold back.

“I don’t understand why they want us to wear a mike when there’s a boom mike that stands 10 feet away from every shot that I hit,” Koepka said after opening with a 4-under-par 67 in his first start at Harbour Town Golf Links. “If the announcers would just shut up and listen, you could hear every word that we’re talking about.”

For Thursday’s Heritage first round, Adam Hadwin wore one. Besides providing several instances of insight and something different than stock, Melatonin-producing coverage, the Canadian gave us more than he ever hoped. After touching what he thought was a rock near his bunkered ball, he immediately declared it was, actually, sand. He immediately suspected he’d made a mistake and we got to hear the entire exchange with official Mark Dusbabek thanks to his microphone.

Brian Wacker with the full conversation here for GolfDigest.com.

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Follow Up On PGA of America's Inclusion Efforts: CEO Waugh Reaches Out

Wendell Haskins wrote to his former employers at the PGA of America on Monday about the failed inclusion efforts while he was there.

Perhaps coincidentally, or not, Haskins was contacted by PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh Thursday after Wednesday night’s post here and, well, Waugh reports a good talk.

"I had never met Wendell so I reached out to him and had a two hour video chat. I listened carefully to his ideas and took them to heart in our ongoing efforts to make the PGA of America and the game of golf more inclusive and diverse. I appreciate the opportunity to share views and we thank him for the dialogue."

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Tiger Checks In On His Peter Hay Course Revamp, Detailed Plans Unveiled

We got an update and plan of the in-progress updating of Pebble Beach’s Peter Hay Course, adjacent to the Lodge and becoming a big kids pitch and putt. Also great to see it is the plan to have a putting course.

For Immediate Release:

Pebble Beach Company and Tiger Woods release plans for reimagined short course facility at Pebble Beach

New facility will include a nine-hole par-3 short course, a putting course, and an indoor/outdoor food and beverage venue overlooking one of the Resort’s most stunning views
 
PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF. (June 18, 2020) – Pebble Beach Company and Tiger Woods, through his TGR Design firm, today released plans to transform the former site of Peter Hay Golf Course. Located directly between the Pebble Beach Pro Shop and Golf Academy, the new facility will include:
 
• A short course comprised of nine par-3 holes ranging in length from 47 to 106 yards and measuring 670 yards in total;

• A 20,000-square-foot putting course that can be set up in a variety of different hole and routing combinations; and

• A 5,000-square-foot food and beverage venue featuring a full kitchen and bar, indoor seating, and the resort’s largest outdoor patio positioned for expansive views of the short course, putting course, Carmel Bay, and Point Lobos
 
“We are thrilled to elevate the quality of our short course to a level consistent with our other world-class golf courses,” said Bill Perocchi, Chief Executive Officer of Pebble Beach Company. “You can see the genius of Tiger Woods and TGR Design come to life when you walk the site, the way it all fits together. I expect all aspects of this new facility will be very popular for junior golf events, Resort golfers, outings, resident hang-outs, and everything in between.”

Woods’ design philosophy for the short course is anchored on playability and creativity. His vision is that the course will draw new players to the game, bring families together, and provide a fun golf experience for players of all ages and abilities, while still offering a challenge for skilled players.

“Everyone who plays this golf course is going to enjoy the playability of it,” said Woods. “Golfers will have the choice to play nearly any club off most tees and around the greens, which will make them think and channel their creativity. It will also play differently from day to day depending on the tee and hole locations and wind direction. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I can’t wait to play it.”

In shaping the new course, Woods’ inspiration resulted in dramatic terrain movement and nine holes entirely distinct from the old course. He also reoriented the routing to better capture the views, with four holes now playing directly toward Carmel Bay.

In addition, Woods aligned each hole’s yardage to correspond with a significant year in Pebble Beach history, with accompanying plaques on each tee telling a story and creating the sense guests are walking amongst the Resort’s rich championship heritage as they play. The only exception is the course’s second hole, which will be an exact replica of the famous seventh hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Oh why not just go all 1929 in that replica while we’re at it!

“Pebble Beach is such an iconic golf destination, we want guests to feel the entirety of that spirit when they play this course. We also know not everyone who comes to Pebble Beach will have a chance to play the U.S. Open course, so we wanted to create the opportunity for all visitors to experience one of its most famous holes,” Woods added.

The Grand Opening of the entire facility is currently scheduled for the Spring of 2021.

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Former USGA Favorites Are Back: Oak Hill, Southern Hills Awarded Amateurs

Southern Hills

The good-things-come-to-those-who-restore movement continues as longtime USGA favorites Oak Hill and Southern Hills were awarded future championships.

Oak Hill’s two courses where Andrew Green has undertaken an East Course restoration set for a big national stage return in the 2023 PGA, with the U.S. Amateur now coming in 2027.

In 2024 Southern Hills, fresh off a Hanse Design restoration, will host the U.S. Women’s Amateur. It hosts the Senior PGA next year and the 2030 PGA.

Of course, all of this contingent upon there still being amateur golfers in the future.

On that note, For Immediate Release:

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Poll Update: Postponing Ryder Cup To ‘21 Wins, Surprising Number Of Voters Open To Fan-Free Event This Year

Thanks to everyone for voting in the poll adding one key provision to questions surrounding the what to do with the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Just a reminder: most top players the Ryder Cup cannot go forward until next year without the energy of fans. Some feel it should go no matter what, some think a quieter proceeding minus running high-fives and threats of violence against family members might be more appropriate in these times, and recently, signs have suggested the best case scenario may be very limited galleries.

Yet as we learned from the AP’s Doug Ferguson, top players surveyed last week were not given the option to postpone to next year due to the PGA Tour’s unwillingness to push back the 2021 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow.

That’s why the tour went to some of the top players last week at Colonial for a survey. Players were asked to prioritize the following scenarios: a Ryder Cup this year with no fans, a Ryder Cup with half the fans or a Ryder Cup in 2022.

So the results are in and they are, frankly, surprising. Thanks to over 500 of you for voting so far.

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Rory To Europeans Avoiding America For Restart: "It’s not a hardship for two weeks to come over and quarantine."

With elite players like Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari and Lee Westwood opting to sit out the PGA Tour’s restart, I didn’t expect anyone to question their decision to stay home. Particularly given travel constraints and the two-week quarantine time (each way) for British golfers. And then there is the restarted in two COVID-19 hotspots (Texas and parts of South Carolina) and in a country with the runaway lead in positive tests.

Rory McIlroy, however, was asked in his pre-RBC Heritage Zoom conference and leveled a pretty harsh rebuke of his European Tour peers, reports Gareth Hanna of the Belfast Telegraph.

“If I were in their shoes and I was asked to come over to the States and quarantine for two weeks before these tournaments, I would have done that,” he said.

“If you really care about your career and care about moving forward, you should be here, I think. Last week was 70 World Ranking points for the winner, this week 74.

“I get there are different variables and families involved, but we all have the means to rent a very nice house in a gated community in Florida. It’s not a hardship for two weeks to come over and quarantine.”

McIlroy passed up the 2016 Olympics over concerns about the Zika virus.

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Ex-PGA Of America Diversity Officer: Organization Lacked Inclusiveness, Diversity As Championed In Floyd Statement

After the death of George Floyd and ensuing protests, PGA of America President Suzy Whaley and CEO Seth Waugh both penned letters asking for ideas from members and imploring the organization to be more inclusive.

From Whaley’s letter:

Together, each one of us has the power to effect change and build an industry that is accepting, compassionate, and proud to stand together. Stand with us in the possibility and the hope that we cannot ignore our lack of inclusion. Stand with us and let’s all take the necessary steps to change it. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas through email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

And from Waugh:

We recognize that golf can’t cure all of society’s challenges. But because of our nearly 29,000 PGA Golf Professionals, I believe we are positioned to lead the conversation and take action on how golf can help. We are certainly not proud of every chapter in golf’s imperfect past, including our own failings, but we can certainly be proud of the future we can build together if we become a committed part of the solution. PGA WORKS and PGA LEAD are intentional steps we have taken to make a difference in our sport. But now we must do more and reach higher.

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PGA Tour COVID-19 Testing Remains Perfect, Two More Korn Ferry Caddies Test Positive, WD's Need Explanation

Almost perfect news across the PGA Tour’s testing of players, caddies and family, reports Bob Harig at ESPN.com.

The total of 954 tests over two weeks includes the 98 players, caddies and family members who boarded chartered flights from Dallas on Monday to travel to Hilton Head for the second event on the PGA Tour's revised schedule after a 13-week shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. Those who traveled to South Carolina on their own were required to take a test on-site.

Ian Poulter shared his testing experience and the, uh, sensations he felt after the swab went up his nose.

Have you ever wondered what Corona Virus testing in sport looks like...bet you don’t want to know what it feels like! pic.twitter.com/GUCxdn7oiI

— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) June 17, 2020

In less positive news, Harig reported this in addition to the previous week’s Korn Ferry Tour’s four positive tests

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LPGA Returns July 31st With New Event Set For Storied Inverness

Kyle Rowland from the Toledo Blade reports the exciting news for golf fans, historians and architecture buffs who will get to see the revamped Inverness a year early.

One of America’s most storied tournament courses before today’s mega-jocks moved to plant based diets and became able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, the Donald Ross classic will still host the 2021 Solheim Cup. But now, thanks to some creative maneuvering, Inverness will be on Golf Channel screens July 31-Aug. 2.

 “Thanks in part to the generosity of our partners who could not reschedule their events in 2020, we are adding a valuable additional playing opportunity for our LPGA Tour members,” Whan said in a press release.

The full release can be read here.

And Golf Course Architecture’s Richard Humphreys profiled Andrew Green’s restoration here.

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September's U.S. Open (Golf) vs. September's U.S. Open (Tennis)

With news of New York approving a U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows, this now joins a rescheduled U.S. Open at Winged Foot in the same state. One is tennis, one is golf and some contrasts are emerging.

Christopher Clarey’s New York Times exclusive item confirms the U.S. Open (tennis) will remain on schedule for Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 without fans.

The USGA’s rescheduled U.S. Open (golf) has not ruled out on-site spectators, though with a stated limit of 2000, it’s hard to see more than a handful of non-essential folks on site.

Back to tennis. As Clarey notes in his item, a lot still has to be figured out regarding travel restrictions for the mostly non-American field to get to New York. Top male player sound unenthusiastic for a number of reasons.

One of the elite women, world No. 7 Gaby Dobrowski, wrote of her concerns on social media today. Note the final portion and a belief that a U.S. Open is not a proper tournament without qualifying and other divisions beyond singles.

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Take The PGA Tour's Ryder Cup Poll...Only With The Obvious Missing Question

AP’s Doug Ferguson lays out the issues facing those charged with determining the 2020 Ryder Cup’s fate. It seems saving the 2021 Presidents Cup—yes the Presidents Cup—because it has been pre-sold, would be a blow to the PGA Tour coffers. So they surveyed top players last week about what to do.

One small problem?

A possible survey winner, Ferguson reports, was not included as an option for a decision that is not even the PGA Tour’s to make.

That’s why the tour went to some of the top players last week at Colonial for a survey. Players were asked to prioritize the following scenarios: a Ryder Cup this year with no fans, a Ryder Cup with half the fans or a Ryder Cup in 2022.

I’m sure it was just an administrative oversight to leave out the other option some might select: postpone the Ryder Cup to 2021.

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Video: European Tour Pros Hold A Zoom Conference Call

The pitch: “9 star golfers. 1 meeting. What could possibly go wrong…?! See what happened when Martin Kaymer hosted a weekly video conference call meeting with fellow golf stars Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Gary Player, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood.”

The European Tour social team is back and better than ever:

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"Watching what Bryson has done, I can only imagine the impact it will have on the young players"

Bryson DeChambeau’s physical transformation and continued ability to play at a high level is a sight to behold. And something totally unimaginable. Except to the distanistas (guilty!) who have long feared that a day would come where distance was so clearly the primary tool, that we’d see players transforming their bodies to take advantage of the remarkable technological advances.

So we will keep seeing the progression to this modified World Long Drive with the potential for an array of health issues, no sign it’s adding fans to the pro game and worst of all, telling aspiring young golfers trying to find speed to play high level golf (and possibly before their bodies are ready).

Then there are all of the absurd side effects on courses, cost, length of round, and the general cancer such an evolution would be on the game. The governing bodies have never taken these notions seriously in relentlessly passing the buck over the years.

Longtime PGA Tour caddie John Wood noted this other overlooked wrinkle by the governing bodies following the Bryson show at Colonial (below). From this week’s Golf.com roundtable:

3. Bryson DeChambeau’s bulked-up physique and booming tee shots (he hit 11 drives 340 yards or longer) were the talk of the tournament. If DeChambeau’s fine play continues, are we destined to see a wave of beefy bombers descending on PGA Tour tee boxes?

Wood: Yes. I think there is quite a bit of shock at how much his size, his clubhead speed and his ball speed have increased in such a short amount of time, all the while seeming to maintain his flexibility, his feel and accuracy. On Thursday and Friday, we played behind a group that included Brooks, Rory and Rahm. There was a long wait on the 15th hole, and we were there when Brooks got ready to play his tee shot. We were standing behind him, and I remarked to Matt: “You know, looking at him, if this was 10 years ago, you would have thought you were watching a long drive contest.” It just wasn’t believable that a body that big and strong would be conducive to playing great golf. We were wrong. And now, watching what Bryson has done, I can only imagine the impact it will have on the young players we know, and the younger players we don’t know yet. You better get your head out of the sand fast and come up with a long-term plan, USGA and R&A – the ball is going to get longer and longer and longer and longer.

The numbers are just astounding, particularly on a fairly confined course with few so driver holes":

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"We have always been united in Europe, and it's important we don't have disharmony."

Brian Keogh at the Irish Golf Desk reports the comments of former Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley, who is part of the Sky Sports team and is also an influential member of the European Tour board.

Discussing the 2020 Ryder Cup sticking with its current date this year despite player demands to cancel a fan-free event, McGinley begged for harmony.

"Personally, I hope it's going to be played and there's some kind of understanding where we all get united rather than the players having on view and Ryder Cup committees having another view," McGinley said during Sky Sports' coverage of the Charles Schwab Challenge on Sunday. 

"It's important that we are united. We have always been united in Europe, and it's important we don't have disharmony.”

I think it’s a little late for that!

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What 121 Golf Carts In A Day Looks To A Superintendent

Matthew Marsh is superintendent at Mesa Verde Country Club where it appears the cart chargers are working overtime to keep the club fleet going. Walkers be damned! Here’s what GPS tracking data shows us 121 carts in one day on one course looks like. And make sure to read the comments!

This is yesterday and the traffic from 121 golf carts. Pretty unreal to see. 😳 pic.twitter.com/NSi1TYc5q6

— Matthew Marsh (@MesaVerdeSuper) June 13, 2020
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2.1: Charles Schwab Hits Event High But It's No 6 In The Ratings Department

CBS did not make any ratings predictions for the “Return to Golf”, but the Charles Schwab Challenge tournament director predicted a final round rating of a 6, which would have been equal to a lot of majors.

The rating is dismal when you consider:

—This was the first live, official PGA Tour event since mid-March.

—Network competition was non-existent. Fox’s presentation of NASCAR was delayed by rain (eventually airing in prime time). NBC was airing the Beverly Hills Dog Show (again). And ABC wheeled out Last Dance (still!).

—Heading into the final round, the leaderboard featured star players and the promise of a close finish (and it was, with Daniel Berger beating Collin Morikawa in a sudden death playoff).

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PGA Championship A Go In August, Without Fans

Ron Kroichick with the exclusive details for the San Francisco Chronicle.

The tournament will be played at TPC Harding Park August 6-9.

The tournament website has yet to be updated to reflect the change.

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