Here are 10 new formats for professional golf to ponder

Last week in Australia, the PGA Tour of Australasia and Ladies European Tour jointly held the Vic Open. Judging from its coverage, you might not have heard much about it, but it was notable for its unusual format: men and women playing the same course at the same time in two concurrent tournaments, each with equal prize money. Ryan Hawkes won the men’s event and Minjee Lee the women’s. By most accounts, everyone seemed to love it. More importantly, it was a good idea!

This week in Australia, the European Tour holds for the second time its World Super 6 Perth event, a combination stroke-play/match-play event that concludes with five six-hole showdowns on Sunday to crown a winner.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that all the professional golf tours must introduce these types of novelties into their annual schedule—the PGA Tour seems to be doing fine—but it’s always fun when they do. Who didn’t enjoy the team format adopted at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last year. Most would agree that it elevated the status of that tournament. And who doesn’t love the Match Play when it rolls around the calendar? (Fine, there are a few, but they’re wrong). And beyond the Super 6, the upcoming Belgian Knockout on the European Tour sounds like it’s going to be extremely awesome.

With these examples in mind, I have 10 ideas for the PGA Tour (or any major golfing body, really) to incorporate into their regular-season schedule. I have a long history of making helpful suggestions to the tour—from the Olympics to the FedEx Cup playoffs. So far, the officials in Ponte Vedra Beach have not taken my advice even once. I have a sinking feeling that these ideas might also go unheeded, but the innovation train must chug on.

Francois Nel/Getty ImagesWho wouldn’t watch an event where Cheyenne Woods could team up with her uncle, Tiger?

1. A partners’ event featuring PGA and LPGA players

This one is actually Cheyenne Woods’ idea, outlined after she played in the Vic Open:

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The experience got Woods thinking about the possibilities here in the U.S. with a certain famous uncle.

“You could do teams, you could do partners and I would pick (Tiger) as my partner,” she said. “I hope he would pick me! I think that would just be awesome.”

That would be amazing for all the right reasons, and also for some of the wrong ones: Watching the more uptight dudes get angry at their LPGA partners? It would be a solid sideshow.

2. A team event featuring captain’s picks

We’re starting to see this in All-Star games—the NBA does it now, and the Pro Bowl tried it for a while—and it would be pretty spectacular in golf. The format could be pretty simple, where teams of eight compete in stroke play, or it could have match-play elements at tournament’s end, akin to the Belgian Knockout. But the big novelty would be the captain’s picks. This isn’t like the Ryder Cup, where someone like Tom Watson picks a guy because he sent flattering text messages and then pretends it was because of his grit, or something. No, this would be public—a group of the top players in the world would be designated as captains, and they’d pick their teams at the start of the tournament on TV.

The problem with this format for the players is that it would entail great public humiliation, especially for really strong players who get picked last because nobody likes them. But what great motivation! Wouldn’t you want to see Patrick Reed in unquenchable anger mode, beating Rickie Fowler, 10 and 8, because he’s upset at being picked 150th?

ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth - Round Three
Paul KaneThe World Super 6 Perth event mixes a creative format (six-hole matches to decide the title) with an exotic Australian locale.

3. Intra-American Regional Ryder Cup

I want an America-only tournament where four different regions compete against each other in a Ryder Cup-style competition. I am from the northeast, and I know my region would get absolutely waxed by the southeast and southwest and probably the northwest, too, but I want to become the first diehard Team Northeast fan. I’ll be featured on the local news at age 90 when they finally win one, just sobbing my eyes out, saying, “I thought I’d die without ever seeing them win!” (This would be based on where each player was born, by the way, not by where they live, since they all live on the same street in Florida.)

In reality, the regions would probably have to be: Southeast, Southwest (including Texas), California and THE NORTH. My team would have an entire half of the country, and we’d still get slaughtered. I have very little faith in a team whose future depends on the success of Vermont native son Keegan Bradley.

4. “Last Man Standing” Elimination Playoff Tournament

Here’s how I see this going: First three days are basically normal, and half the field gets cut after Saturday. After that, you divide the remaining 80 players into 16 groups of five. Those groups of five players start out together on the first hole on Sunday morning, and play a sudden-death playoff until only one remains from the group. The 16 playoff winners are then sorted into four groups of four, and they do it again. That will leave four golfers, and those four go head-to-head in the very last playoff group, with the winner taking top prize.

You may have to read that last paragraph a few times to understand it, and even then it may still sound crazy. But I think it would make for an extremely compelling, extremely chaotic, and extremely weird Sunday. I would not miss it. The beauty of it is that each group could end on the first hole when someone birdies or eagles, or it could extend indefinitely. You could theoretically win on Sunday by playing just three holes.

5. The Random Bag Tournament

Each player in the field is randomly assigned a bag of clubs from another player each day. The winner of the tournament will have played with four different bags that are not his own, and could be safely judged the most versatile, able golfer of them all.

A few predictions for how this would work out: First, Dustin Johnson would win, because he is very talented but seems like he may not notice that he was playing with different clubs. Second, Bryson DeChambeau would nearly go insane. Third, the players forced to play with Bryson DeChambeau’s clubs would actually go insane. Fourth, Pat Perez would break somebody else’s clubs in a fit of anger.

6. A Miniature Golf Tournament

The Major Series of Putting seemed to resonate with many people late last year. If you forced them to take a miniature golf tournament seriously with a real cut and the same prize money as a normal event, this would be great. I want to see Bubba Watson rant to Ted Scott about the unfairness of the windmill hole.

7. A Four-Club Event

You get a putter, one wedge, one iron, and one wood. Plan well, and good luck to you.

8. An Old-Club Event

Everyone has to use the same persimmon niblicks and mashies and brassies, or whatever. This would obviously have to take place in Scotland, and for added historical accuracy, mounted English knights could randomly chase certain players around the course.

Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesJonas Blixt and Cameron Smith were the first duo to win the Zurich Classic after it changed to a two-man team event.

9. A “Scores Reset” Tournament

You cut 40 golfers every day, but after the cut, scores go back to even. It would put a premium on both consistency and pressure play, since you can’t have a single “off” day, but you also need to step up on Sunday when everyone is starting from the same place. I get the sense that if golf worked this way all the time, Rory McIlroy would either have won twice as many tournaments, or half as many, since his Friday/Saturday 78s would eliminate him before he could turn in the Sunday 64.

10. The “Distractions Welcome” Tournament

Every single hole is like the 16th at TPC Scottsdale. You can’t touch the player, or otherwise impede his swing, but everything else is fair game. Every single player who could feasibly skip this tournament would do so, but for the players who need status, it would be a necessary stop. I’ve seen firsthand how shaken players are after coming off the 16th hole at the Waste Management, so this might actually induce real, lasting trauma. Especially if the tournament was held in Philadelphia—people are legitimately crazy there. But hey, Mr. 150th place on the points list, if you want to keep your card, you’re going to have to deal with the guy in a hot-dog costume who somehow has a picture of your wife on a placard and is taunting you by shouting the name of your middle-school bully. (You really can find anything on Google, can’t you?)

OK, so, look: A lot of these ideas are outlandish. And I’m not necessarily sure if any of them are feasible, even the not-as-stupid ones. But if the stock market crashes, and the tour is desperate, they’re here on the trash heap of ideas, waiting for the moment when there’s no choice but to shake things up in professional golf.

Source Golfdigest.com

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Why Justin Thomas’ dad is caddying for him in Hawaii — and why another familiar face will carry his bag next week

It took just two PGA Tour rounds in 2018 for another star golfer to make a caddie change. This time, though, it’s only temporary.

RELATED: 15 things you need to know about Justin Thomas

The AP’s Doug Ferguson reported on Saturday that Justin Thomas’ regular caddie, Jimmy Johnson, is injured. And the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year will have a very familiar face filling in this weekend in Hawaii: His father, Mike, a longtime PGA professional.

Johnson carried Thomas’ bag the first two rounds at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where Thomas was 27th (out of 34 players) through 36 holes. Johnson has been Thomas’ caddie since 2015 and the two have won all seven of JT’s PGA Tour titles together, including his first major at last year’s PGA Championship. Thomas is the defending champ in Maui.

So good luck to Mike Thomas as he takes on this replacement gig. He’s got a lot to live up to — and he’s got some pretty hilly terrain to navigate at Kapalua’s Plantation Course.

UPDATE No. 1:

Justin Thomas shot a two-over 75 for the second consecutive day.

“Legs are tired,” Mike Thomas said after the round. “Always nice to be able to do that with your son though.”

It was the first time Thomas has caddied for his son since the 2016 QBE Shootout. He added that someone else will be on the bag next week as his son tries to defend another title in Hawaii at the Sony Open.

UPDATE No. 2:

Jim “Bones” Mackay, Phil Mickelson’s longtime bagman turned NBC/Golf Channel analyst, will fill in as Justin Thomas’ caddie next week. Yep, this is really happening.

We’re going to go ahead and say that’s the most exciting caddie-related news of all time.

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British Open 2017: You won’t believe how little golf Brooks Koepka has played since winning the U.S. Open

SOUTHPORT, England — Brooks Koepka’s biggest smile following an opening 65 at the 146th British Open had nothing to do with how he played, but rather, a Las Vegas trip to celebrate his U.S. Open victory. “We had fun,” Koepka said with a wide grin, befitting of one of those What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas commercials. When asked to elaborate, Koepka drew laughs in the media center with a coy, “It was fun,” before adding as little detail as possible. “I had a few friends out. We had a good time.”

In case you don’t get the drift, Koepka wasn’t talking about playing golf in Sin City. In fact, you won’t believe how infrequently he touched his clubs in the five weeks between winning at Erin Hills and showing up at Royal Birkdale. Twice. A round with his agent and a photo shoot. That’s it.

Yet there was Koepka on Thursday, grabbing a share of the early lead with Jordan Spieth. So how was he able to snap back into tournament mode so quickly despite an extended break? Quite easily, actually.

“It’s just a mental thing. I don’t think it’s anything else. If I start playing four or five weeks in a row, everything just seems to get nonchalant, I guess you could say,” said Koepka, who admitted to struggling more when he went back to the gym following his Vegas jaunt. “You get to be in the routine and get used to it. And it just doesn’t seem — it just doesn’t ever seem like I’m fully ready to play. If you take some time off and kind of recharge mentally, physically, I feel like I’m in really good shape right now, even with that time off mentally.”

RELATED: Joe Buck misidentifies Brooks Koepka’s girlfriend on live TV

Jason Gay wrote a story in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal about how Roger Federer has used extended periods of rest to his advantage late in his career, most recently winning last week’s Wimbledon after sitting out the entire clay season. In Federer’s case, the time off is taken to combat the tennis great turning 36 next month. With Koepka, a gym fanatic nearly a decade younger, the benefits he reaps from rest all have to do with motivation.

“I was chomping at the bit to get back, kind of those last few days at home. I was excited to get over here. I just wanted to play golf. I just wanted to get back inside the ropes. I wanted to have those juices flowing,” Koepka said. “Sometimes it’s hard even when you’re practicing at home, if you’re playing with buddies or just playing by yourself, really hard to get up for it. I mean, I think — it’s funny, I’ll play with my dad and shoot 75 every time or higher. It’s hard to get into it. It’s something, you just need a little bit of competitiveness and a little bit of something to get me going.”

Koepka didn’t really get going on Thursday until birdieing the par-4 eighth and then ripping off three consecutive birdies on 11-13. He made his lone bogey on No. 16, but bounced back with an eagle on the par-5 17th by holing a difficult bunker shot.

“Seventeen was actually a terrible lie in the bunker,” Koepka said. “It was in one of the those rake marks. And my caddie told me to get inside 10 feet; that would be pretty good. And luckily enough it went in.”

Lucky or not, Koepka taking apart a course in a completely different manner than his destruction of Erin Hills was impressive. Not that we should be too surprised that a player who honed his skills in Europe before becoming a PGA Tour star is comfortable playing links golf. And we definitely shouldn’t be surprised that Koepka is comfortable on the big stage.

“Anytime you’re excited, you’re extremely focused when you’re out here,” Koepka said. “And it’s a major championship, and if you can’t get up for that, you might as well go home.”

If Koepka keeps playing like this, he might be going home with another trophy. Well, after another trip to Vegas first.

Source: golfdigest.com

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Rough start derails McIlroy at Scottish Open

Rough start derails McIlroy at Scottish Open

Rory McIlroy had hoped to bounce back from a missed cut at the DDF Irish Open and build some momentum for Royal Birkdale. Instead, he got more of the same during a disappointing opening round at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

McIlroy wobbled out of the gates, playing his first four holes in 4 over at Dundonald Links including a double bogey on No. 13. While he birdied the next hole and rallied with three more birdies from Nos. 3-7, the Ulsterman closed with a disappointing bogey on No. 9, his final hole of the day, to post a 2-over 74.

That score left him behind both Rickie Fowler (67) and Henrik Stenson (72) in the day’s marquee grouping, and he sat seven shots off the lead shared by Fowler, Ian Poulter, Andrew Dodt and Callum Shinkwin.

McIlroy hoped a final-round 64 at the Travelers Championship would provide a spark, but thus far he remains adrift. This is now his third straight round of even par or worse, dating back to last week when he shot 72-73 at Portstewart during a week when 24 under won the tournament.

McIlroy has work to do in the second round to avoid back-to-back missed cuts, a fate he has not suffered since missing consecutive cuts at the BMW PGA Championship and Irish Open in May 2015.

Source: golfchannel.com

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Jordan Spieth holes unreal bunker shot to win Travelers in playoff

June 25 (Reuters) – Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to win the Travelers Championship in a playoff on Sunday and become the second youngest player in the modern era behind Tiger Woods to post 10 PGA Tour victories.

 

In a finale that would have done Woods proud, Spieth sank his 60-foot sand shot at the first extra hole for birdie to edge fellow American Daniel Berger at TPC River Highlands.

The precise execution enabled Spieth to overcome a back nine meltdown in which he putted poorly and almost allowed fast-finishing Berger to steal victory.

Spieth carded a closing 70 to Berger’s 67, the pair finishing at 12-under-par 268, two strokes ahead of compatriot Charley Hoffman and New Zealander Danny Lee.

“For the bunker shot to go in, that was awesome. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a moment like that again,” an excited Spieth said in a greenside interview after clinching his 10th victory at the age of 23 years, 10 months and 29 days.

Woods was the youngest since detailed records began in 1983 to reach 10 victories. He was 23 years, six months and four days when he posted the milestone.

A flair for the dramatic is nothing new for Spieth, who also holed a bunker shot for his first victory at the 2013 John Deere Classic.

“It’s incredible. It feels like we’ve been out here for a long time but it’s only been four years,” he said.

 “At least this one had good speed going in. I’ve always taken some crap from my peers about the John Deere one potentially going off the green or in the water.

“I feel very fortunate to play golf for a living. That was my dream growing up. To live for these moments and produce moments like that, I feel very lucky, very blessed.”

The former world number one did not feel so blessed after missing two putts from inside four feet on the back nine to almost fritter away what had looked like being a comfortable victory. He then struck a tree with his drive in the playoff, only to get a fortuitous bounce.

“It was a battle,” he said. “That putter let me down a little for most of the round. I felt more comfortable in the bunker than from four feet (and) I got really lucky to hit the tree and have it go in the fairway.”

The playoff loss deprived 24-year-old Berger of a second victory in three starts, having won the St. Jude Classic two weeks ago.

“I played great today so I’m not going to be too upset,” said Berger, who sportingly gave Spieth a thumbs-up gesture when his rival holed the winning bunker shot.

“It’s just Jordan doing Jordan things.” (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris / Ian Ransom)

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Horschel uses wood after accidentally breaking putter

Billy Horschel had to get a little creative during the opening round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic after a flip of the club left his putter in pieces.

Horschel barely missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole at TPC Southwind, and he reacted as many pros do: by casually tossing his club in the air in disbelief. Unfortunately for Horschel, the head of his putter snapped off when the club hit the ground.

Because the break did not occur “during the normal course of play,” Horschel was not allowed to replace his putter.

The silver lining was that the hole in question was his 17th of the day. He had only an 18-inch par putt left on No. 8, and he used a fairway wood to tap it in and again on the par-4 ninth, where he successfully two-“putted” from over 50 feet:

The scene was reminiscent of one during the 2015 Greenbrier Classic, when Robert Streb made it into a playoff despite using his wedge to putt for much of the final round.

Horschel, who returned to the winner’s circle last month when he defeated Jason Day in a playoff at the AT&T Byron Nelson, signed for a 2-over 72 that left him eight shots behind his friend and fellow Florida Gator, Matt Every, as the early wave came to a close in Memphis.

Source: golfchannel.com

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Where to Play During The 2017 U.S. Open – Your Golf Guide Around Erin Hills

Whether you are making the pilgrimage to Wisconsin to watch the 2017 U.S. Open, or are you planning to play Erin Hills in the future, the following is a golf course guide to help you find the right course(s) to fill out your journey.

 

Notable Courses

Erin Hills
Well, unless you qualify to play in the U.S. Open, the course is currently closed and will not reopen until after the 2017 event (late June). The tee sheet is filling up fast for the 2017 season, so make your plans ASAP. Not able to get a tee time? Do not rule out early/mid fall. Autumn golf in Wisconsin offers amazing fall colors and best of all…no mosquitos.

Why should Erin Hills be on your bucket list? Well, in the 117 years of the U.S. Open, only six host courses are open to the public.

1) Bethpage Black, 2002, 2009
2) Pebble Beach, 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
3) Chambers Bay, 2014
4) Torrey Pines, 2008, 2021
5) Pinehurst #2, 1999, 2005, 2014, 2024
6) Erin Hills, 2017

http://www.erinhills.com

Washington County Golf Course
Located less than 15 minutes away from Erin Hills, Washington County GC is a must play! Arthur Hills built a gem that is consistently ranked as one of the Top 25 Municipal Courses in the nation. Washington County is offering exclusive packages for golfers during the U.S. Open including meals and transportation.

http://www.golfwcgc.com/rates/

The Bog
Until Erin Hills was built, this Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course was the #1 ranked public golf course in the Metro Milwaukee area. The Bog is located roughly half way between Erin Hills and Whistling Straits and is a great course to play if making that loop. The Bog is located approximately, 25 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee and 40 minutes from Erin Hills.

https://www.golfthebog.com

The Bull
Wisconsin’s only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course is rated #70 in nation by Golf Digest. Located 60 miles north of downtown Milwaukee in Sheboygan Falls, WI, The Bull is easily accessible on I-43 north.

http://www.golfthebull.com/

Brown Deer Golf Club
Brown Deer Golf Course is the former site of The Greater Milwaukee Open and US Bank Championship, a PGA TOUR stop from 1995-2008.

http://milwaukeecountygolfcourses.com/golf/proto/milwaukeecountygolfcourses/brown_details/brown_details.htm

Whistling Straits/Blackwolf Run – Destination Kohler
Whistling Straits hosted the 2004, 2010, and 2015 PGA Champion and is the future home for 2020 Ryder Cup. Blackwolf Run Whistling Strait’s sister property has also hosted a number of professional championships including the Andersen Consulting World Golf Championships in 1995, 1996, and 1997 as well as the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998 and 2012.

http://www.americanclubresort.com/

Sand Valley Golf Resort
New golf course/resort alert! Sand Valley, a Coore and Crenshaw design, will be in the conversation for best new course in 2017. If you want to cross it off your bucket list you will need to drive approximately 2 hours north of Erin Hills. A second course, Mammoth Dunes, is scheduled to open in 2018.

http://www.sandvalleygolfresort.com/

Play Where The Locals Play

Kettle Hills
Located just 10 miles east of Erin Hills on Holy Hill Road (HWY 167/HWY O). With 45 holes you should have no issue getting a tee time. During the U.S. Open week, tee times start with cart at $50 four 18 holes and $30 for 9 holes. They are now accepting tee times and they must be paid for in advance.

www.kettlehills.com

Fairways of Woodside
Located within 20 miles southeast of Erin Hills, Fairways of Woodside is a tale of two nines. The opening nine has birdie opportunities galore with shorter holes and wide open terrain. The back nine lengthens and plays through the Kettle Moraine forest.

www.fairwaysofwoodside.com/rates/

Hartford Golf Club
A semi private club located less than 7 miles from Erin Hills, Hartford Golf Club is a throwback course that opened for play in 1929. The layout is highlighted by the par-3 17th that features a huge tree 30 yards directly in front of the putting surface. The course also has a three hole practice facility.

www.hartfordgolfclubwi.com/

Broadlands Golf Club
40 minutes south of Erin Hills resides The Broadlands, one of the state’s most popular public courses. The layout features a mix of wide open spaces, stunning elevation changes that lead to spectacular shot vistas throughout.

www.broadlandsgolfclub.com/

Morningstar Golfers Club
Simply put, Morningstar Golfer’s Club rests on one of the finest pieces of land in the state. Every style of hole from links to north woods is apparent on this stunning layout built on an abandoned quarry. Thirteen of their 18 holes are visible from their impressive clubhouse.

www.golfthestar.com/

 

Source: midwestgolfingmagazine.com

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