Make A Difference Day

Ever hear of “Make a Difference Day?” It’s the one day a year that offers the chance to do something good for others, though many of our favorite golfers do this year round. Let’s use this day to talk about some of the pros who are known for their altruism as well as their golf game.

Phil and Amy Mickelson are known for their foundation, which supports a  variety of causes. Photo by PhilMickelson.com

Phil and Amy Mickelson are known for their foundation, which supports a variety of causes. Photo by PhilMickelson.com

Phil Mickelson

Among the many charities Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, support are Birdies for the Brave when he gives $100 for each birdie and $500 for each eagle he makes. The Mickelson Foundation supports a variety of youth and family initiatives including funding research to find a cure for breast cancer.

Tom Lehman

In 2001, PGA and Champions Tour star Tom Lehman won the Charles Bartlett Award for his unselfish contributions to golf and his efforts to raise money for causes like the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Hopekids and The Changing Lives Center for Women and Children.

 

Jack Nicklaus supports many children's medical causes through his foundation, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Photo by Nicklaus.com

Jack Nicklaus supports many children’s medical causes through his foundation, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Photo by Nicklaus.com

Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus also pours a lot of money into helping to fund the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation providing a huge array of free services for children in hospitals in Florida, along with other health and educational facilities across the country.

Annika Sorenstam

In 2007 Annika Sorenstam created the ANNIKA Foundation to promote healthy and active lifestyles for children and helps support the Florida Hospital for Children. “I care about nutrition for kids. One third of our young people are obese. That adds up to 25 million kids,” she says.  She has partnered with SPARK, a non-profit organization that promotes the benefits of physical activity and proper nutrition in schools.

 

Notah Begay III has brought his star power to an important cause: Native American Kids Rescue Youth.  Photo by RescueYouth.org

Notah Begay III has brought his star power to an important cause: the health and wellness of Native American children. Photo by RescueYouth.org

Notah Begay III

Four-time PGA Tour winner, Notah Begay III,  is also concerned about children’s health. For the past seven years he has come to Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York, bringing top PGA Tour golfers to compete in his Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge to raise awareness and build support for the health and wellness of Native American children.

Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer, also part of the Pebble Beach ownership group is a heavy hitter when it comes to giving back.  His charities help support organizations like the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, Florida; the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center in California; and Arnold Palmer Pavilion in Pennsylvania for cancer patients.

 

David Feherty was presented with the Outstanding Civilian Service Award for his work through Feherty's Troops First Foundation. Photo by Army.mil

David Feherty was presented with the Outstanding Civilian Service Award for his work through Feherty’s Troops First Foundation. Photo by Army.mil

David Feherty

And what about David Feherty, who some remember “misplaced” the Scottish Open Cup after he won it in 1986 and is today notable for his witty commentary on the game? Listen up. Feherty’s Troops First Foundation provides meaningful assistance to wounded veterans. The cause is supported by the Golf Channel Amateur Tour, having contributed more than $240,000 in the past three years. Good stuff.

 

 Featured image of Jack Nicklaus with St. Jude patients by Nicklaus.com.

Celebrating The King: Arnold Palmer’s 85th Birthday

Today, we pause and raise a glass of half lemonade, half iced tea to celebrate “The King” – Arnold Palmer himself. The 62-time PGA TOUR champion is 85 years young today. In honor of the milestone, Golf Channel will air an encore presentation of its critically-acclaimed documentary, Arnie, today, chronicling the life and legacy of Arnold Palmer.

The three-part television event will air in consecutive hours beginning at 3 p.m. ET and in primetime at 8 p.m. ET.

Arnold Palmer won The Masters four times between 1958 and 1964. Photo from Golf Week

“The King” Arnold Palmer won The Masters four times between 1958 and 1964. Photo by Golf Week

Narrated by actor Tom Selleck, Arnie showcases how the golfing legend revolutionized and transcended the game to become one of the most beloved figures in sports history. Arnie spans Palmer’s entire life to the present, from his early childhood through his amateur and professional golf careers, his various off-course enterprises and the legacy he continues to build. Throughout the presentation, golf’s iconic legends, family, business partners, colorful personalities and two U.S. Presidents recount the great stories that created the cultural phenomenon around the man.

Click here for more information.

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Dispatch.

9 Women Changing the Face of Golf – Part 2

Being a woman in a male-dominated sport is not easy. Our hats off to the women who are dedicated to the sport they love and making a positive impact on the game for all of us. This is the second in a two-part series looking at several women making a difference.

Photo by Boardroom Golf

An enthusiastic golfer, Joan is a member of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) and an entrepreneur. Photo by Boardroom Golf

Joan C. Cavanaugh - Three years ago, Joan Cavanaugh plugged her creativity, courage and love of golf into a new business, Boardroom Golf, focusing on the importance of the game to a businesswoman’s success. An accomplished entrepreneur, master teacher and certified business golf coach, Cavanaugh said, “We want to show women how to play and how to use golf to create a level playing field in the boardroom.”

In addition to leading customized workshops at Golf Manhattan, Cavanaugh coauthored Teeing It Up For Success: Insights and Inspirations From Remarkable Women, a book that focuses on how to play golf for leadership and leisure. “Golf is a secret to business success and women are not using it to their advantage. I want to give them a feeling of confidence that golf is a game they can play,” she says.

She served on the National Board of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA), and founded several national LPGA-USGA girls’ golf chapters, and regularly speaks to groups on how to make golf a tool for strategic relationships.

“I love that men and women in the business circles here in New York City refer to me as The New York City Golfing Lady. I guess the message is getting out,” she said.

Suzy Whaley (center) Photo by Suzy Whaley Golf

In 2002, Suzy Whaley (third from left) became the first woman in 58 years to be eligible to play in a PGA TOUR event. Photo by Suzy Whaley Golf

Suzy Whaley – Suzy Whaley is a true trailblazer who does it all. She is a Class A PGA professional, Class A LPGA Teaching and Club Professional, mom and wife. After winning the Connecticut PGA Section Championship in 2002, she also became the first woman in 58 years (since Babe Didrikson Zaharias) to be eligible to play in a PGA TOUR event. Whaley competed in the 2003 PGA Greater Hartford Open, and although she was cut the second day, she still shot a respectable 75 and 78, winning the hearts of female and male golfers everywhere.

Today, Whaley is the PGA National Player Development Co-chair and has received numerous endorsements in her bid to become the next Secretary of the PGA of America with elections in November.

Whaley’s influence on the game continues to resonate. She received the Nancy Lopez Achievement Award last year, was named a top five national female teacher by “Golf Digest” and earned the LPGA Northeast Teacher of the Year title. She has also made appearances on major news networks like Golf Channel, ESPN, national radio and has been a contributing writer for USA Today.

“I am working on many different levels to get more people playing and to show them you don’t have to be a par shooter to love the game,” Whaley said. “It’s the one place three generations can be outside playing a sport together in a healthy, beautiful environment. My mother taught me; I taught my daughters; and I hope they will teach my grandchildren. Golf is for everybody.”

Peggy Kirk Bell, shown here during the 2002 PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit, has been a tireless contributor to the game of golf. Photo by PGA.com

Peggy Kirk Bell, shown here during the 2002 PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit, has been a tireless contributor to the game of golf. Photo by PGA.com

Peggy Kirk Bell – Former tour player Peggy Kirk Bell played a key role in the founding of the LPGA Tour and is the legendary grand dame of her family-owned Pine Needles and Mid Pines resorts in Southern Pines, North Carolina, venue for past LPGA Tour events.

She was the first woman inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame (2004), and founded the Golfari golf school for women. In 2007, she formed the “Girls Golf Tour,” the largest girls-only tour in the country. Now 92, Bell continues to be hands-on when it comes to golf. She is often at her resort, overseeing her “Golfaris” offering some helpful golf tips on grip, posture and alignment, all key fundamentals she believes in.

Photo by Ideal Living

Nicole Weller has been awarded many accolades, including U.S. Kids Golf Master Teacher and GRAA Top 50 Growth of the Game Professional. Photo by Ideal Living

Nicole Weller – Nicole Weller is the head teaching professional at The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga., and thanks to her passion for passing the sport on to the next generation of players, she knows how to make golf fun for kids – even if it means getting in the sand with them. For her work, Weller was awarded the prestigious PGA Junior Golf Leader Award.

Her book, Stick to Sports: Let’s Play Golf targets childhood development stages and how they relate to young golfers. Some of her suggestions: Have kids check for bubble gum on their back shoe in their follow-through and play an “I Spy” game to teach golf terms. A staff ambassador with The Littlest Golfer and a U.S. Kids Master Kids Teacher, Weller holds a master’s degree in sport psychology.

5 of Golf’s Greatest Left Handers

In celebration of today’s 22nd annual International Left-handers Day, as well as the millions of “lefties” around the world – roughly 10 percent of the global population – we are taking a moment to reflect on the greatest left-handed golfers of all time.

From legends such as Bob Charles to current superstars like Bubba Watson, left-handers have undoubtedly left their marks on the game of golf, especially throughout the last half century. And, as evidenced by the fact that lefties have won major championships four out of the last five years, the future of golf is actually looking brighter for left-handers now than it ever has before.

Phil Mickelson

Although he is naturally right-handed, Phil Mickelson has set the standard by which all future left-handed professional golfers are measured. While enjoying one of the most consistent and successful careers in golf history, Phil has captured 42 PGA Tour victories, played for every Presidents and Ryder Cup team since 1994, and earned over $74 million in PGA Tour prize money.

But his most noteworthy achievements remain the five major championships he has claimed since 2004, the year in which he rolled in an 18-foot putt on the 72nd hole of The Masters to defeat Ernie Els by one shot and forever detach himself from a title he had long been associated with – “the best player to have never won a major.” Phil is also a World Golf Hall of Famer, joining Bob Charles as the hall’s only professional golfer to have played left-handed.

 

Photo by BBC

Bubba Watson overcame a playoff loss at the 2010 PGA Championship to win another five PGA Tour events, including two Masters Tournaments. Photo by BBC

Bubba Watson

For years, Bubba Watson was regarded as an underachiever, leading golf analysts to scratch their heads, wondering when the immensely talented lefty would break through and show his full potential. That all changed in 2010, when he defeated Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank in a sudden-death playoff at the Travelers Championship, a victory he memorably dedicated to his father, who was battling cancer at the time.

Since then, he has become comfortable with his status as one of today’s best golfers, overcoming a playoff loss at the 2010 PGA Championship to win another five PGA Tour events, including two Masters Tournaments. Never afraid to be himself, he is not only known for wearing his emotions on his sleeve, but for also participating in the PGA Tour’s “Golf Boys” band, which also features Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan, and Rickie Fowler.

Mike Weir

A Canadian sports hero, Mike Weir made history in 2003 when he became only the second left-handed golfer to win a major championship – The Masters. But this historic moment almost never occurred. Back when Mike was a teenager, he had been advised to play as a right-hander instead. Prior to switching, he wrote a letter to Jack Nicklaus, asking for his opinion. Jack soon responded, suggesting he should remain a “lefty,” as long as he was comfortable with his form.

Luckily, Mike listened to the Golden Bear’s advice and ultimately won eight PGA Tour titles, tying George Knudson for the most wins in Tour history by a Canadian. Although he has not won a PGA Tour tournament since 2007, due to elbow injuries, Mike appears to be on the comeback trail. Back in May, he finished runner-up at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, his best tournament showing in five years.

 

Photo by Golf Week

The trendsetter for all left-handers to come, Bob Charles was the first left-handed golfer to win a PGA Tour tournament and a major championship.Photo by Golf Week

Bob Charles

The trendsetter for all left-handers to come, Bob Charles was the first left-handed golfer to win a PGA Tour tournament (the 1963 Houston Classic) and a major championship (the 1963 Open Championship). The added pressure of being an Open champion did not distract him either, as he continued to win golf tournaments throughout the world afterwards. In all, he captured over 60 professional titles, including six on the PGA Tour, four on the European Tour, and 23 on the Champions Tour.

His longevity is particularly remarkable. Just seven years ago, he made the cut at the European Tour’s Michael Hill New Zealand Open, finishing in a tie for 23rd place after shooting a 68 during the second round, three strokes lower than his age. For his lifelong golfing achievements, Bob is also regarded as a sporting legend in his native New Zealand. In fact, he was the only New Zealander to have ever won a major until 2005, when Michael Campbell captured the U.S. Open.

Bonnie Bryant

Even though nearly 40 years have passed since her victory at the Bill Branch LPGA Classic, Bonnie Bryant remains the only LPGA Tour member to have won a tournament while playing left-handed. Originally a fast-pitch softball player, Bonnie did not take up the game of golf until she was 20 years old. But that didn’t deter her from joining the LPGA Tour, and maintaining a successful professional golf career.

Five years after her three-shot victory, she nearly won a second tournament – the 1979 Coca-Cola Classic – but lost in a sudden-death playoff to Nancy Lopez, who was arguably playing the best golf of her life at the time. Despite never winning another tournament, her record as the LPGA’s greatest left-hander does not appear to be in jeopardy anytime soon. After all, there are currently no LPGA Tour golfers who play left-handed.

Honorable Mention

Steve Flesch – Four-time PGA Tour winner and 1998 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year

Russ Cochran – 1991 Centel Western Open champion and winner of five Champions Tour tournaments

Ted Potter, Jr. – 2012 Greenbrier Classic champion and winner of two Web.com Tour tournaments

Eric Axley – 2006 Valero Texas Open champion and winner of one Web.com Tour tournament

Greg Chalmers - Winner of four PGA Tour of Australasia tournaments and two Web.com tournaments, as well as the 2011 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit

Nick O’Hern – 2006 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner, as well as a two-time champion on the tour

 

Featured image courtesy of Golf Digest

Did You Know? The Open Championship

With 154 years of competition, 14 different courses and thousands of golf’s greatest players, The Open Championship has a history unlike any other.

This year, the competition will be held at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, often referred to as Hoylake, in northwest England. This is the twelfth time The Open Championship will be played there, the last time being 2006 when Tiger Woods took home the title. Woods will return this year, along with Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and many more of your favorite players.

See who claims the coveted Claret Jug on July 20th and in the meantime, test your knowledge with our trivia questions, courtesy of The Open Championship.

Claret Jug

However unique it may be, the Claret Jug is one of the most sought after trophies in golf and is awarded to the winner of The Open Championship. Photo by BBC Sport.

Which course has hosted The Open Championship more than any other?

St. Andrews: 27

 

Which course is the longest in Open history?

Carnoustie: 2007, 7,421 yards

 

Who overcame the largest deficit to win The Open?

After 18 holes: Harry Vardon, 1896, 11 strokes behind the leader

After 36 holes: George Duncan, 1920, 13 strokes behind the leader

After 54 holes: Paul Lawrie, 1999, 10 strokes behind the leader

 

Which competitor has the most top-five finishes?

J.H. Taylor, Jack Nicklaus, Harry Vardon, James Braid

Jack Nicklaus

Tied for the most top-five finishes in The Open Championship, Jack Nicklaus won the coveted Claret Jug in 1966, 1970 and 1978. Photo by BBC Sport

Who are the known youngest and oldest competitors ever to play in The Open?

Tommy Morris Jr.: 1865, 14 years 4 months 25 days

Tom Morris Sr.: 1896 74 years, 11 months, 24 days

 

Who won The Open by the biggest margin?

Tom Morris Sr.: 1862, 13 strokes

 

Whose victories have spanned three decades?

Harry Vardon: 1896, 1898 & 1899/ 1903/ 1911 & 1914

J.H Taylor: 1894 & 1895/1900 & 1909/ 1913

Gary Player: 1959/ 1968/ 1974

 

Who is the youngest winner of The Open Championship?

Tommy Morris Jr.: 1868, 17 years 5 months 3 days

 

Which player scored an albatross at Turnberry in 2009?

Paul Lawrie: 7th hole, 4th round

Photo by BBC Sport.

Paul Lawrie is one of only eight people to hit an albatross at The Open Championship and followed it with a win at Turnberry in 2009. Photo by BBC Sport

Which two players have scored hole-in-ones at the 7th hole at Muirfield since 1981?

Billy Andrade: 1987, 4th round

Paul McGinley: 1992, 1st round

 

Featured image of Royal Liverpool GC courtesy of Getty Images.

Where to Stay and Play at the U.S. Open

This week, the golf world will turn its attention to Pinehurst, North Carolina, where the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Opens will be held in consecutive weeks at the famous Pinehurst Resort.

As the game’s top professionals – and amateurs – tee it up on No. 2, thousands of lucky fans will file into the region to see what’s sure to be a historic two weeks. With so many fans and limited golfing and lodging options in the area, here’s our guide on where to stay and play while at the U.S. Open.

GOLF

Southern Pines Golf Club (Golfholes.com)

One of Donald Ross’ best designs, Southern Pines Golf Club is a true shotmaker’s course. Photo by Golfholes.com

Southern Pines Golf Club – One of Donald Ross’ best designs, Southern Pines is a true shotmaker’s course. Checking in at 6,300 yards, it will test your accuracy and short-game and leave you wanting another round.

Broadmoor Golf Links – The only links-style course in the region, Broadmoor stretches to more than 7,100 yards and is a challenge very different from the region’s other top courses.

Whispering Pines – The River Course at Whispering Pines is another shot-maker’s paradise with plenty of Ross accents. Developed by Ellis Maples, a Ross prodigy, Whispering Pines is the perfect mix between high-quality and accessibility.

talamore_golf_resort_southern_pines_7

Opened in 1991, Talamore Golf Club has been consistently ranked among the region’s best courses. Photo by Puregoldclubs.com

Talamore Resort – Also noted for its lodging options, Talamore is a fantastic golfing destination, as well. Opened in 1991, Talamore has been consistently ranked among the region’s best. In an area with so much golf history, that’s saying something. Plus, the Talamore is famous for its llama caddies.

Midland Country Club - If you’re a golfer and you like quirky, then this nine-hole track is a wonderful experience. Walking is encouraged and conditions are supreme. Definitely a fun experience that’s worth the trip.

 

LODGING

Photo by Yelp

The Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club screams southern hospitality. Photo by Yelp

Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club – Host of three U.S. Women’s Opens, the Pine Needles club screams southern hospitality. Guest lodges border the course with terrific views of the 18th green and easy access to the putting green for some pre- or post-round practice.

Talamore Golf Resort – With the Golf Resort Villas, the Talamore Resort is a favorite among visitors to Southern Pines. Not interested in a villa-type stay? Try the resort’s new Mid South Lodges for a home away from home feeling. Located just minutes from the Pinehurst Resort, the Talamore is a terrific place to stay and play.

Little Rivier Golf & Resort – For a spacious place to stay, try the Little River Golf & Resort. Villas include views of the course, each with two bedrooms with two queen-size beds.

mi

It doesn’t get more charming than the Magnolia Inn in downtown Pinehurst. Photo by Insidepinehurst.com

The Magnolia Inn – It doesn’t get anymore charming than the Magnolia Inn located in downtown Pinehurst. Close to Pinehurst shopping, dining and more, the Magnolia has 10 private guest rooms with a rich history in the area.

Mid-Pines Inn & Golf Club – The sister property to Pine Needles, Mid Pines was built in 1921 and offers the feeling of southern hospitality. Many of the 103 guest rooms feature original antiques and all the comforts of home.

 

Featured image courtesy of Pinehurst.com

9 Things I Learned at TPC Sawgrass

It’s a rare occasion when one gets the chance to play on the hallowed fairways at one of pro golf’s most notable courses. Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews. Not necessarily easily accessible to the everyday golfer.

But, I was in Ponte Vedra on business in January several years ago when I got the chance to stop in for the unique experience that is TPC Sawgrass (home of THE PLAYERS Championship, and a course anyone can play if reserved in advance).

Here are nine things I learned from my round that day:

1. When you step out of the car in the parking lot, you’ll think, “What am I going to do on 17?” The famous island green is a worldwide landmark, one that strikes fear into pros and novices alike.

2. My tap for a six-footer sailed a good six feet past the cup. Different than the poa annua greens we have In California, the greens turf at TPC was so strong that even when cut extremely low they still stood up and allowed the ball to roll and roll and roll. Putting here takes extreme delicacy.

3. I found it very difficult to determine wind direction. The pros look for the flags atop the tall grandstands. I didn’t have that luxury. But on holes like No. 7 and 15, away from the big stands, pros guess at the wind all the time. just be ready for anything.

TPC Sawgrass - Hole 13 - IMG_9560

The back nine – including No. 13 shown here – is a divine mix of holes that demand control, power, touch, and imagination. Photo by TPC Sawgrass

4. Pete Dye is excellent at mind tricks. He knows that your eye wants a target. Standing on the tee of the par-4 fifth, for example, the fairway is bordered on the right by a sharp edge that falls four feet into by a long waist bunker.

Naturally from the tee, the flag on the green appears to be right on the edge of the fairway, making you think the fairway is about three yards wide. When I hit a ball about 30 yards left of that line into what I thought was the left rough, I was actually in the middle of the fairway. To play Sawgrass, you have to play away from the edges.

5. The bulkheads on fairways and greens that separate grass from water are Pete Dye’s way of speeding up play. In an interview I did with Pete about 15 years ago, he told me he didn’t like how the edges of water hazards had reeds or long rough bordering them. That gave golfers hope. So they searched for lost balls. At Sawgrass, the ball is either in the water or on grass. If you can’t see it, it’s time for a drop.

6. Another thing Dye told me about his courses: On approach shots to the green, if you’re short or long but in the middle, you’ll have no problem. End up off to the side of the green, though, and it’s the kiss of death. Higher handicappers who can’t control a slice feel the brunt of it.

7. The back nine is a divine mix of holes that demand control, power, touch, and imagination. The 11th is the most under-rated hole on the course, a magnificent risk-and-reward par-5 with awesome shot values and visuals. The short par-4 12th is taken from Prestwick as a huge mound on the left blocks view of the small green.

TPC Sawgrass

You’ll spend time before and after your round analyzing how to tame the infamous No. 17 island green. Photo by TPC Sawgrass

8. The final three holes at Sawgrass are to golf tournaments what slot machines are to gambling: Pull the arm and see what happens. Perhaps the best case was 1996 when Fred Couples started No. 16 one stroke behind Colin Montgomerie, then barely avoided disaster to emerge two up going into the 18th tee.

9. As you put your clubs in the trunk of your car, and check that you have everything – wallet, keys and sunglasses – you’ll sit in the car thinking of only one thing: what you did on No. 17.

In my case, it was two 9 irons from 130 yards that (see No. 3 above) meant I was hitting five on my third shot. Into the wind. And, yes, into the water. I know that now.

And I can’t wait to get back to try again.

Improve Your Game with 8 Easy Tips

To honor teachers in the U.S., the National Education Association has designated May 6th as this year’s National Teacher Day, an annual tradition. We too, are pausing today to celebrate instruction – golf instruction, that is – by offering the following tips from World Golf Hall of Famers, PGA and LPGA professionals, and highly respected instructors.

So go ahead. Read on. It just may help you increase your confidence on the golf course, improve your iron shots and short games, or even shoot your personal best score. No apple in return needed.

Adrenaline is Your Friend

For 30 years, renowned sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella has coached some of the world’s most successful professional golfers and written best-selling books like Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect. Known for his positive approach to the game, “Doc” advises golfers to welcome anxiety, rather than avoiding it.

“Learn to love the butterflies, or at least to handle them,” says Dr. Rotella. “Taking deep, slow breaths can be helpful, (as can) visualizing what you want. The calmer and clearer you can keep your mind, the more you can keep it focused on what you want.”

He adds, “Recognize that the physical sensations you feel are caused by adrenaline, which is a natural product of your body, a friend that will help you play better if you keep your mind clear. Be into (your) target and execute your routine.”

shutterstock_181634492

Hit Crisp Fairway Shots, Time After Time

World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sörenstam may very well be the most successful female golfer of all time. With over 90 victories around the world, including 72 LPGA Tour wins and 10 major championships, “Ms. 59” was always respected for her poise on the golf course, as well as her work ethic away from it. She may have also be one of the best ball strikers in LPGA history.

“Shots from the fairway should not be thought of as power shots,” Sörenstam advises. “Don’t swing your hands back to 12 o’clock, as you might with a driver. Stop at 10 o’clock, and fight the tendency to hang back on your right side and scoop the ball off the ground. Hit down on it, by making a good shift to your left side.”

Stay in the Present

Since founding the Golf State of Mind system, golf coach David MacKenzie has been dedicated to improving golfers’ mentalities, offering customers eBooks, podcasts, and training programs, amongst other products. To play to your fullest potential, he recommends that you always maintain your focus on the present, rather than reflecting on past mistakes.

“One of the keys to becoming a better player is quickly letting go of the past and staying in the present,” says MacKenzie. “After all, the present is where we need to be to give every shot our best intention.”

He continues, “If you hit a bad shot, look up to the sky or focus on the beauty of your surroundings. Quickly realizing the relative insignificance of what happened will put it in perspective and allow you to move on immediately.”

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Master Your Chip Shots

PGA professional Andrew T. Barbin, the General Manager and Director of Golf of Maryland’s Chesapeake Golf Club, believes golfers can finally overcome their weaknesses in chipping – by implementing the following tips as they practice and play.

“The shorter chip is a great shot to master. To do so, play the shot like a putt with a narrow stance,” Barbin states. “Position your body in front of or even with the ball with your weight on your left side and your knees comfortably flexed and almost touching.”

He adds, “The longer the shot, the further you stand from the ball which will allow your arms to travel further. Allow your arms to swing freely with minimal wrist action which causes the club to descend down onto the ball.”

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

After joining the LPGA Tour in 1975, Amy Alcott quickly rose within the professional ranks, garnering 29 Tour victories and five major championships. She advises golfers to remember why they are playing to begin with – to escape the pressures of work, relax, and enjoy themselves.

“Keep your sense of humor,” says Alcott. “There’s enough stress in the rest of your life to let bad shots ruin a game you’re supposed to enjoy.”

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Other Tips to Consider

Trust Your Instincts. “Be decisive. A wrong decision is generally less disastrous than indecision,” says two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer.

Loosen the Grip of Your Putter. “Grip (the putter) like a tube of toothpaste with the lid off – you don’t want to squeeze the toothpaste out,” says Martin Laird, a winner of three PGA TOUR tournaments.

Don’t Take the Club Straight Back. “The feeling of wanting to take the club straight back, rather than on an arc, is intuitively human, but it’s the core of many faults,” says John Jacobs, a World Golf Hall of Fame instructor. “We think the longer we can make a straight line, the straighter the ball will go. But golf is a side-on game with the ball on the ground, so it’s the opposite.”

For more great golf tips, visit Golf Channel.com.

Hometown Heroes

We watch them on TV. We’ve heard about where they’re from. But for those die hard pro golf fans and Golf Channel viewers willing to go a step further, here’s a comprehensive guide to GolfNow courses you can play in the hometowns of some of the PGA TOUR’s top golfers. You never know who you may run into.

lost key

Located near Bubba Watson’s hometown of Bagada, Fla., Lost Key Golf Club was the first golf course in Florida to be certified as an Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary. Photo by Lost Key GC

Bubba Watson – Bagdad, Fla.

Bubba grew up in Bagdad (pop. 1,500) but 41 miles away, just minutes from the white sand beaches and the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Pensacola, is Lost Key Golf Club. It measures just 6,800 yards but carries a whopping slope rating of 144.

Redesigned by the Arnold Palmer Group in 2006, Lost Key presents plenty of challenges, including tight fairways and plenty of water hazards, but the outstanding natural beauty – Lost Key was the first golf course in the State of Florida to be certified as an Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary – makes for an unforgettably enjoyable round.

Jordan Speith – Dallas, Texas

Speith’s hometown of Dallas is rich in golf, but few places offer the shot quality as Buffalo Creek Golf Club, a Tom Weiskopf-Jay Morrish layout developed by Charles Perry, formerly CEO of Golden Bear Golf. Buffalo Creek consistently ranks among the top courses in the golf-rich Dallas area, and you’d be hard pressed to find tougher holes than Nos. 6 and 16. It’s also a regular host for the USGA Open, Amateur and Mid-Amateur qualifying events.

Jimmy Walker – Oklahoma City, Okla.

Jimmy Walker has developed into one of the PGA TOUR’s best on the greens, and no doubt a course like Silverthorn Golf Club in OK City helps golfers develop that magic touch. The course features the best of Oklahoma’s “Hill Country,” with large oaks, expansive bunkers and large, contoured greens to challenge low scores.

 

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La Cantera Resort Course in Patrick Reed’s hometown of San Antonio provides breathtaking views of the Hill Country and downtown. Photo by La Cantera

Patrick Reed – San Antonio, Texas

Though he graduated high school in Louisiana and college in Georgia, young and confident Patrick Reed  was born in San Antonio. Former home of the Valero Open, La Cantera Resort Course is a delightful Weiskopf-Morrish design that treks through the rolling hill country of southwest Texas, where barbecue and fast, challenging greens are the norm.

Webb Simpson – Raleigh, N.C.

There is hardly a better course to get the feel of the wooded, rolling hills of central North Carolina that Webb Simpson calls home than Crooked Creek Golf Club. It measures under 6,200 yards from the back tees yet plays much longer. Soothing, velvet-like fairways and small greens constitute an enjoyable course that still requires precision for low scores, even from former U.S. Open champions.

Dustin Johnson – Columbia, S.C.

Designed by P.B. Dye, Pete’s son, Cobblestone Park Golf Club – formerly known as University Club – is a sneaky, wicked layout that will challenge even the likes of long-hitting Dustin Johnson. With deep, dark woods lining fairways and placid water hazards guarding greens, this is a course that demands good ball-striking. It’s also a calming venture through the best of the midland South Carolina terrain.

 

Winter Park Country Club

Winter Park Country Club in Matt Kuchar’s hometown is Central Florida’s second-oldest golf course. Photo by Winter Park CC

Matt Kuchar – Winter Park, Fla.

Few regions in the country offer as many golf choices as Matt Kuchar’s central Florida, but for fans of this hometown hero, you have to experience the history and mossy oak beauty of the Winter Park Country Club. Being central Florida’s second-oldest golf course (dating back to 1914) and host to storied golf greats like Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan is reason enough to include Winter Park on the list. Add in the cost-effective nine hole walking rounds available and this historic course is a must-play.

Tiger Woods – Cypress, Calif.

Tiger is well-known in his youth for playing regularly at two courses – Dad Miller Golf Club in Anaheim and the Naval Course in Long Beach. But 20 miles to the northeast, you’ll find Black Gold Golf Club, an Arthur Hills layout that will test good golfers and mid-handicappers alike. Black Gold refers to the oil that lay beneath these regions, and it’s up to you to make your claim for good scores.

Phil Mickelson – San Diego, Calif.

Whereas Torrey Pines gets the most publicity, golfers shouldn’t underestimate Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, near Phil Mickelson’s hometown San Diego area. This Arnold Palmer course is a romp through over and around the Batiquitos Lagoon nature preserve that brings one close to the native flora and fauna of the region.

 

Featured image of Bubba Watson courtesy of Jay Moore Photography