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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

And the Award Goes To…

In the spirit of the Academy Awards this weekend, we present our own version of golf’s best in pictures.

While there are plenty of great nomination-worthy scenes, not all can be chosen. A select few rose above the rest to give us those special moments we cherished last season and will remember always. And here is what our “Academy” came up with:

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Best New Golfer in a Lead Role – Jordan Spieth. Photo by New York Times

Best New Golfer in a Lead Role – Jordan Spieth

The now 20-year old took the PGA TOUR by storm last season, proving the young players are a force to be reckoned with.

Spieth won the John Deere Classic in a three-way, sudden-death playoff on the fifth playoff hole against defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn. He became the fourth youngest PGA TOUR winner and the first teenager in 82 years. Spieth also finished second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua and became the youngest golfer to ever earn a coveted Presidents Cup team spot.

 

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Best Golfer in a Dramatic Role – Adam Scott, 2013 Master’s Champion. Photo by Getty Images

Best Golfer in a Dramatic Role – Adam Scott, 2013 Master’s Champion

After crumbling at the Open Championship a year ago, Scott emerged from the pack on the final day at the 2013 Masters Tournament to enter into a tie with Angel Cabrera for the lead heading into the 72nd hole. Scott proceeded to birdie the 18th from a considerable distance, prompting wild celebrations as he looked to have won the title.

On the second hole, Cabrera once again missed his birdie putt by inches, which Scott holed. It was Scott’s first major championship and marked the first time an Australian has won at Augusta National.

 

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Best Golfer in a Comedy Role – Jason Dufner. Photo by Amanda Dufner via Instagram

Best Golfer in a Comedy Role – Jason Dufner

Duf offered no shortage of comedic relief last season between the viral Dufnering craze, his recent interesting bed head hair and this image taken by wife, Amanda, of Jason with the Wanamaker trophy after his first Major victory at the PGA Championships at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.

 

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Best Supporting Actor (Caddie) – Steve Williams. Photo by PGA.com

Best Supporting Actor (Caddie) – Steve Williams

Longtime wing man to Tiger Woods, Caddie Steve Williams found new success with Adam Scott, helping to elevate his game to another level and a Master’s title.

Despite Williams’ plans to cut down on his schedule in the next two years and start enjoying his golden years, Scott hopes to persuade his supporting actor to stay on a little bit longer.

 

Garcia Woods Feud

Best Rivalry Caught on Screen – Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. Photo by CBS Sports

Best Rivalry Caught on Screen – Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia

An off-course rivalry that has been an undercurrent for years took center stage during The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass last season with a whole lot of bickering and then later a few very poor choice words by Garcia.

You could cut the tension with a knife during the sparring on Twitter and beyond that continued leading up to the U.S. Open in June.

 

Rory Caroline Getty

Best Romance – Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki. Photo by Getty Images

Best Romance – Rory McIlroyn and Caroline Wozniacki

2013 proved to be a somewhat tumultuous year for phenom Rory McIlroy, both on and off the course. However, despite losing his top spot on the TOUR and reports of on-again-off-again relationship drama, Rory and his tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki won us over with their romantic engagement in Sydney on Jan. 1.

Golf Superstitions: It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work

Tiger hardly noticed a soft pressure on his shoulder when he was playing in the Presidents Cup in Dublin, Ohio (2013). Indeed, he tried to waft it away until he realized that his girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, had snuck a baby squirrel onto his shoulder. Apparently Davis Love III found “Sammy the Squirrel” and carried it in his pocket until handing it off to Vonn. “Sammy,” quickly adopted as the team’s good-luck charm, was no doubt credited with a role in the U.S. win over the Internationals.

We all know what color of shirt Tiger wears on Sundays. While Stacey Lewis likes to wear something blue, Lexi Thompson wears ladybug earrings, and Paula Creamer shows up on the final round in something pink. “When I look at pink it makes me happy,” says Creamer, “The Pink Panther.” Creamer also has a pink panther club head cover and often plays a pink golf ball.

Photo by Post & Courier

Paula Creamer always shows up on the final round in something pink because the color makes her “happy.”
Photo by Post & Courier

The Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionary defines superstition as, “an unfounded belief that some action or circumstance completely unrelated to a course of events can influence its outcome.” Some experts believe that superstitions or lucky charms can calm otherwise chaotic situations by helping to create a greater feeling of control and reducing anxiety.

Testing the power of luck in a German study some players were given “lucky” golf balls, while others were given the same golf ball but without being told they were lucky. The group with the lucky golf balls made 30% more putts than the other group.

If giving in to a harmless ritual – whether it be wearing red or carrying a shell in your golf bag as Brittany Lang has done, a gift from a young fan – can give you a better sense of control and calm, it makes sense. The mental aspect of golf can really influence the outcome.

When a golfer wins a tournament and goes back over his or her game, he or she often tries to figure out what might have been different about this time. Something they wore? Something they ate? Not wanting to jinx their next tournament, they will try to stay with whatever that “x-factor” was when they play again. Why mess with success?

So when the Big Easy (Ernie Els) gets a birdie, he won’t use that ball again: for him there is only one birdie in a ball. And after Nick Watney finished 6th in the 2009 Farmers Insurance Open, caddie Chad Reynolds, vowed not to cut his hair as long as Watney finished in the top 10, a string holding up for five events. (Boston Red Sox Fans could relate to the facial hair thing).

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When Ernie Els gets a birdie, he won’t use that ball again: for him there is only one birdie in a ball. Photo by Golf Channel

Numbers Game

Numbers count, too. Dustin Johnson always has two tees and a 1960s quarter in his pocket because he likes shooting in the 60s. Tom Weiskoff carries three tees and three cents in his pocket; Ernie Els thinks the number two is unlucky, and Jack Nicklaus plays with three coins in his pocket. Jimmy Walker prefers to play with odd-numbered balls and Karrie Webb and Retief Goosen start on Thursday using 4’s and play down consecutively until Sunday when they use 1’s.

Ever wonder why balls aren’t made with numbers higher than four very often? The higher numbers are believed to bring bad luck. Go figure.

Marking It

Paul Azinger marks his golf ball with a penny and makes sure “Honest Abe” is facing the hole, Frank Vega of SuperStroke uses an earring once worn by his mother-in-law, and Davis Love III uses a 1965 or 1966 penny as a ball marker. Why? He believes pennies minted after 1970 are unlucky.

Then there’s Chi Chi Rodriguez. He plunks down a quarter to mark his birdie putts, a buffalo nickel for eagle putts, and if that’s not working, he’ll switch to a gold coin. Keegan Bradley marks his ball with a coin heads up and Zach Johnson uses a marker made by his wife, Kim, that contains biblical phrases he reads during the round.

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Zach Johnson uses a marker made by his wife, Kim, that contains biblical phrases he reads during the round.
Photo by Golf Channel

Teed Off

Davis Love III uses only white tees, Lee Trevino refuses to use yellow tees, and Colin Montgomerie won’t use red or yellow tees as they are associated with hazard stakes.

Food Fetishes

Natalie Gulbis is known to eat a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin and hash browns before she tees off and Hall of Famer third baseman Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game, took exactly 150 ground balls during infield practice, and wrote the word “Chai” (meaning “life”) in the dirt each time he went to bat.

Quirky

Remember the hang-ups Melvin (Jack Nicholson) had in the movie, “As Good as it Gets” where he ate breakfast every day in the same restaurant and avoided stepping on any sidewalk cracks? Now watch Christina Kim when she walks onto the green being careful not to step on the edge for that could bring bad luck.

One of the most hilarious bloopers occurred in the 1960s as a T.V. commentator explained Arnold Palmer’s ritual before each round. He reported, “One of the reasons Arnie is playing so well is that, before each tee shot, his wife takes out his balls and kisses them…” So much for live television!

And the ultimate superstition? Steward Cink will tell you he avoids all superstitions because they are in themselves bad luck. Guess we could call that the “anti-superstition superstition!

 

What superstitions or quirky routines do you have when it comes to golf?

Enter to Win Accenture Match Play Weekend Passes!

EDITOR’S NOTE: THE ENTRY PERIOD HAS EXPIRED, NO LONGER ACCEPTING ENTRIES

The forecast for this week’s WGC – Accenture Match Play Championships at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., is sunny with temperatures in the low 80s – quite a different story from last year’s fluke snow storm that made headlines as golfers threw snowballs and braved the wild weather.

Amid plentiful sunshine and a colorful mountain backdrop, 2013 tournament champion Matt Kuchar will defend his title this week while others like Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, the recently red hot Jimmy Walker and more, vie for their chance in the winner’s circle.

So, with the field and the weather set to optimum, we ask, “What are your plans this weekend?” Because we’ve got a pair of tickets good for access to the tournament on both Saturday and Sunday (a value of $140) with your name on them!

All you have to do is enter a comment below today, telling us who you think will win this year’s tournament. Make sure you comment by 11:30 p.m. EST TODAY (Wednesday, February 19, 2014), and we’ll randomly select a winner tomorrow morning. AND, make sure you can get to The Golf Club at Dove Mountain this weekend as travel is not included.

It’s truly that simple, just enter the name of the player you think will take the trophy home in the comments section below and voila, you’re entered to win the tickets.

View this year’s tournament players and other info here. See official sweepstakes rules below. Good luck!

- The Daily Tee

 

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NO PURCHASE NECSSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. By participating in this sweepstakes (the “Giveaway”) you agree to be bound by these Official Rules.  The sponsor and operator of the Giveaway is GolfNow (“Sponsor”).  No more than one entry per person via each of the methods listed in the Giveaway details or in these Rules.  Only one (1) prize in the Giveaway and the retail value of prize is $140.  The odds of winning a Giveaway depend on the number of entries.  Winners will be selected randomly by Sponsor using http://random.org as a selection tool. All decisions regarding eligibility and winner selection are final.  Employees of Sponsor and Accenture Match Play Championships (“Prize Provider”) are not eligible to participate. All entries received after the Giveaway closing date and time will not be considered. Entries that do not follow all of the entry requirements will not be considered. Winners will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to confirm receipt of the e-mail. If the winner does not reply within 24 hours, another winner will be selected. Open to participants in the U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 years and older. Void where prohibited. Taxes on Giveaways are solely the responsibility of the winner.  Winner agrees that by accepting the prize, winner consents to Sponsor’s and the Prize Provider’s use of her or his name, voice, photo, or likeness for promotional and marketing purposes for up to ninety (90) days after the end of the Giveaway.  Sponsor and the Prize Provider are not liable for late or misdirected entries, entry errors, or transmission problems. Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Giveaway in the event of technical problems, or to correct typographical or technical errors.  All participants should review the Sponsor disclosure and privacy policies.  By entering, participants agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor, Prize Provider, and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, employees, and agents from any and all liability or any injuries, loss, or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with a Giveaway.  Unless otherwise stated by Sponsor, no substitution, transfer, or assignment of prizes is permitted.  Non-winning entries from one Giveaway are not carried forward to future Giveaways.

 

Featured image courtesy of SkySports.com