Are golfers finally improving - and if so why?

Are golfers finally improving – and if so why?

Are golfers finally improving – and if so why?

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

Back in the mid-’90s, I read an article that said golfers were not getting better, despite the advances in equipment design, instruction, and course condition.  Well, that data has either been wrong all along or has changed dramatically over the last 25 years.  Recent studies answer the age-old questions “Are golfers finally improving?” Thanks to  of Golf Digest for providing this significant insight!

Golfers are better than they were 25 years go.

It’s not just theory, it’s fact. Forgetting for a moment who among you is sandbagging and who’s toting around a vanity handicap, the data on handicaps from the US Golf Association makes one thing clear: Golfers not only are getting better, they may be getting better at their sport than any other group of athletes are getting at theirs.

This bold statement isn’t originally mine. I was having an email exchange with former USGA Senior Technical Director Dick Rugge, when listening to the recent Hot List podcast. When there was a suggestion that golfers really haven’t improved despite all the advances in technology.  Rugge, who often talked about the subject of handicap trends during his tenure at the USGA, told me about some handicap data that suggested just the opposite.

A quick call to the USGA confirmed that very fact. In the last 25 years, the average USGA handicap for a man has improved nearly two full strokes, from 16.3 to 14.4. For women, the improvement is no less impressive, dropping from 29.7 in 1991 to 26.1 in 2016.

Are golfers finally improving and if so, why?

Access to great golf courses has helped bring more golfers into the game.

Pictures: Golf Digest   Chun Xia
 
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Is "The Curse" in sports a legitimate entity?

Is “The Curse” in sports a legitimate entity?

Is “The Curse” in sports a legitimate entity?

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

Every sports team and player has had to endure “The Curse” at some time or another.  The Boston Red Socks come to mind with the “Babe Ruth Curse” and of course the ever-lovable Chicago Cubs, who finally broke the curse in 2016.  Another drought ended in Chicago just a couple of weeks later when the Irish Rugby team beat the New Zealand All Blacks for the first time EVER.  109 years to be exact!   So is “the curse” a legitimate thing and who imposes the curse?   of Golf Digest gives us the top 11 players on the PGA and LPGA Tours who have still to beat their particular curse.

Is “The Curse” in sports a legitimate entity?

With the Chicago Cubs finally winning their first World Series title in 108 years, a look at some of the most dramatic droughts in golf history.

Is "The Curse" in sports a legitimate entity?

2006 at Winged Foot!

1. Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open

Is "The Curse" in sports a legitimate entity?

1939 US Open at Philadelphia CC.

2. Sam Snead at the U.S. Open

Is "The Curse" in sports a legitimate entity?

1977 US Open 

3. Nancy Lopez at the U.S. Women’s Open

 

 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews.

4. The Calendar Grand Slam

Is "The Curse" in sports a legitimate entity?

Another missed opportunity at Augusta National!

 

5.Greg Norman at the Masters

To see the rest of golf’s top curses, go here!
 
Pictures: Getty Images 
 
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Naming the greatest achievements in the history of golf!

Naming the greatest achievements in the history of golf!

Naming the greatest achievements in the history of golf!

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

As  T.J. Auclair of PGA.com mentions in his opening statement,  this was an impossible task.  Whatever he chooses and in what order will always bring the critics.  “You left out so and so”  “So and so should have been ahead of so and so.”  But he did it, and in my humble opinion did a great job.  As a golf professional for over 50 years, I found this article on golf’s greatest achievements a compelling read.  Thanks!

Naming the greatest achievements in the history of golf!

I’ve been tasked with the impossible: Ranking golf’s 9 greatest achievements, in order. How do you even do that?

Who is this schmuck to decide which is better than the other when just about any one of us would dine on a haggis-only diet every day for the rest of our lives to have accomplished just one of them?

With the realization that ranking these achievements in an order all of us could agree on, is nearly as difficult as reaching just one of the feats that follow. As I run to take cover, here goes nothing…

Naming the greatest achievements in the history of golf!

9. Jim Furyk’s 12-under 58.

OK. If I’m being honest, it felt dirty putting the number “9” in front of this entry. One, because Furyk is the only player in PGA Tour history to accomplish such a feat. Two, before shooting that number this past Sunday at TPC River Highlands (a par 70) in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship, he was the last player on Tour to shoot a 59. He did that on On September 13, 2013, at Conway Farms (12 under since the course was a par 71) in the second round of the BMW Championship. So why is this just No. 9 even though it’s something that had never happened before on the PGA Tour? I guess the only logical explanation is because it’s so new.

Naming the greatest achievements in the history of golf!

8. Jack Nicklaus’ 19 runner-up finishes in the majors.

Some may argue that this isn’t necessarily an “achievement” since it didn’t result in victory. I’d argue that there’s an exception to every rule and this is one of them because of the man we’re talking about. Nicklaus — the winningest major champion of all time (more on that later) — also has more runner-up finishes than any player in the game’s history. That’s almost unfathomable. As ridiculous as this sounds — and no less than 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III pointed out recently — Nicklaus could be considered the most snake-bitten golfer of all time based on that stat. The next-most runner-up finishes in majors? That would be 11 by Phil Mickelson. Back to Nicklaus — 18 major championship wins and 19 times a runner up. Think about that.

Naming the greatest achievements in the history of golf!

7- Oldest to win a PGA Tour event, the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open, at 52 years, 10 months and 8 days.

– By winning the 1960 De Soto Open Invitational, Snead became the first player to win PGA Tour titles in four different decades (since matched by Raymond Floyd).

– Oldest player to make the cut at a major: age 67 years, 2 months, 7 days at the 1979 PGA Championship.

– First PGA Tour player to shoot his age with a 67 in the second round of the 1979 Quad Cities Open.

– Oldest player to make a cut on the PGA Tour: age 67 years, 2 months, 21 days at the 1979 Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic.

– Only player to post a top-10 finish in at least one major championship in five different decades.

6. Francis Ouimet wins the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

This wasn’t just an amazing singular accomplishment. It was also the reason for a golf boom in the United States. When Ouimet won the national championship as a 20-year-old amateur (on his home course, no less), he became the “father of amateur golf” in the United States by taking down the likes of famous, accomplished professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. When you think of American golf legends, you think of names like Jones, Nelson, Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer, Woods. Keep in mind, Ouimet was the first “hero” in American golf.

To see the rest of golf’s most amazing achievements in history, go here!

Source:  T.J. Auclair  PGA.com

Pictures: USA Today Sports Images   Keith Allison   Ed Balaun (supergolfdude)   Secret in the Dirt   Kheel Center

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How Augusta National Almost hosted Olympic Golf in 1996!

How Augusta National Almost hosted Olympic Golf in 1996!

How Augusta National Almost hosted Olympic Golf in 1996!

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

Here is a very interesting story of how August National almost hosted Golf for the 1996 Olympic Games.  But even the might of Payne Stewart and Billy Payne could not overcome one woman’s objection.  Find out what that was.  Thanks to   of Golf Digest for this breaking story!

Rio Olympics.

If you’ve been at all following golf’s inclusion in the Rio Olympics, you likely know that the sport has returned after a 112-year absence. What you might not know, however, is how golf almost returned two decades ago. Or that the potential course was not some hastily constructed new layout, but the most celebrated venue in golf.

A brief refresher: After succeeding in bringing the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta, Billy Payne, then the head of the Atlanta Games organizing committee, turned his attention to making golf an Olympic sport. Better yet, he got then Augusta National chairman Jackson Stephens (at this point, Payne, now Augusta National’s chairman, was not even a club member) to agree that Augusta National should be the host venue. Payne’s promise of delivering both the best players in the world and the storied venue was enough to persuade International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch to get on board with the idea as well.

How Augusta National Almost hosted Olympic Golf in 1996!

Arnold Palmer hitting the opening tee shot at the 2015 Masters.

In October 1992, Payne and Stephens held an outdoor announcement at Augusta National, where, according to a follow-up story in Golf Digest, “Augusta National gave trinkets adorned with the familiar Augusta National logo, but featuring the five Olympic rings inside the Augusta flag.”

To find out why Augusta was not chosen to host the Olympic golf in 1996, go here!

Source:    Golf Digest

Pictures: Getty Images

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A beautiful flyover of Augusta National.

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Entertaining stories about Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson.

Entertaining stories about Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson.
 
Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!
 
Phil Mickelson loves to gamble.  You just have to watch him play to know that!  So it comes as no surprise that he likes to gamble at golf, table tennis, or even trick shots on the golf course.  Read the entire article by  of Golf Digest to learn about the amazing shot Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson played to collect all the cash!
Entertaining stories about Phil "The Thrill" Mickelson.
 

We’ve heard some great golf gambling stories involving Phil Mickelson through the years. There’s the time he schooled Paul Azinger. The time he tricked Nick Watney into paying off a wager in pounds instead of dollars. Even the time he bet a fan (and lost) he could get up and down from a particularly bad lie.

But this one, courtesy of Golf Magazine’s terrific oral history of “Tin Cup,”takes the cake. It occurred during the filming of the movie, which turns 20 August 16. Here’s Cheech Marin, who played Kevin Costner’s caddie in the classic golf flick, describing what happened:

To see what really happened on this amazing bet, go here!

Source:    Golf Digest

Pictures: Golf Digest  Corn Farmer

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Are Republicans and Democrats as split on the golf course?

Are Republicans and Democrats as split on the golf course?

Are Republicans and Democrats as split on the golf course?

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

It seems to me that if the Republicans come up with a good idea, the Democrats will immediately respond with negative criticism.  The same is true for the Republicans when the Democrats come up with something special.  But what about the average golfer who is either a Republican or a Democrat?  Is their thinking and behavior on the course different from one another?   of Golf Digest brings us an interesting study on the subject done by Chadly Stern, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  An interesting read!

Are Republicans and Democrats as split on the golf course?

We like to think of the golf course as a safe haven from political bickering. Sure, you might touch on the economy during a wait on the tee box, but golf itself is politically agnostic. Your weekend foursome could include people with completely different ideologies than your own and it should have no bearing on how you enjoy the game together.

Sounds great. But is that really true?

To understand how one’s political views might shape them as golfers, we conducted a survey of more than 1,000 regular players asking about a variety of topics relevant in the game — whether they walk or ride, whether they play golf for money, that sort of thing. We only asked one directly political question — whether the respondent was a Democrat or a Republican — but from that, were able to see contrasts in how members of the opposing parties answered the other questions.

“AMONG CONSERVATIVES THERE’S A TENDENCY TO GRAVITATE TOWARD NORMS AND RULES, BECAUSE RULES PRESENT STRUCTURE,” STERN SAID. “ONE OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IS THAT TRUMP SAYS AMERICA IS IN CHAOS AND THERE’S A LOT OF VIOLENCE AND INSTABILITY AND HE’S GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AND SAFE AGAIN THROUGH THE ENFORCEMENT OF RULES.”

Related: See the complete survey results here

In fact, what the survey underscored is how often one’s political leanings can be manifested in a golf setting (we’re not talking about whether you’re chronic miss is to the left or the right). And when you map the survey answers against generally acknowledged differences between the two parties, the results start to follow a trend.

“It’s a super interesting set of findings,” said Chadly Stern, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has studied and written about how one’s political ideology shapes the way they see the world. “It’s very consistent with what we know about the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives, or Democrats and Republicans.”


We should start with an important reminder.

That this was a survey of mostly avid golfers, a relatively homogenous group compared to, say, people who like music. And on some topics golfers were aligned regardless of how they voted. But most interesting is where the two parties diverge. For instance, Professor Stern was intrigued by Republicans being more inclined to follow the Rules of Golf to the letter. In his eyes, it was reflective of a conservative inclination toward structure. Taking it a step further, he could even explain why people who follow golf rules more closely would also be drawn to the candidacy of Donald Trump.

rules.pngAre Republicans and Democrats as split on the golf course?

“Among conservatives there’s a tendency to gravitate toward norms and rules, because rules present structure,” Stern said. “One of the things that people have been talking about is that Trump says America is in chaos and there’s a lot of violence and instability and he’s going to make America great and safe again through the enforcement of rules.”

A conservative partiality toward following rules and norms also explains other contrasts. Democrats had less of a problem with golfers smoking marijuana on the golf course, and while mostly opposed to golfers wearing jeans on the golf course, they were more open than their counterparts across the aisle. The gap was even wider on whether denim should be permissible in a golf clubhouse.

To see the rest of the similarities and differences of Republicans and Democrats on the golf course, go here!

Source:    Golf Digest

Pictures: Golf Digest  U.S. Embassy, Jakarta

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Things you did not know about Henrik "The Ice Man" Stenson

Things you may not know about Henrik “The Ice Man” Stenson.

Things you may not know about Henrik “The Ice Man” Stenson.

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the golfchats.com website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

His nickname is not “The Ice Man” for nothing!  On Sunday afternoon he lived up to that reputation as he methodically took Royal Troon apart and finally brought the course to its knees! After a sly smile at Phil Mickelson early in the round as Phil almost holed out from off the green, he was all business and knew he had a hard task ahead.  He became a golfing machine, and put on a display of ball-striking never before seen in a Major Championship!  Thanks to  of Golf Digest for bringing us information on Henrik we otherwise would not have known!

1. His Sunday round at Troon tied major championship records

 
Things you did not know about Henrik "The Ice Man" Stenson
 

3. His wife, Emma, was a college golfer

 
Things you did not know about Henrik "The Ice Man" Stenson
 

4. He didn’t start playing golf until age 12

 
 

5. He will represent Sweden in the 2016 Olympics

 
 
 
Pictures:  Golf Digest
 
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17 Questions that need to be asked about the Rio Olympics!

The golf course is ready, the golfers are ready, then why are there so many questions about the Rio Olympics?  The biggest one is the Zica Virus, a virus that is deadly and the top players are afraid not only for themselves but for their families that would be accompanying them on such a historic event!   of Golf Digest asks these intriguing questions and then gives the answers himself.  Meyers is both interviewer and interviewee here.  Pretty interesting stuff!
160526-rio-golf-course.jpg
Getty Images
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – FEBRUARY 02: Aerial view of the golf course in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood with six months to go to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on February 2, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Golf returns to the Olympics this summer after a 112-year absence. And naturally, golf fans have a bunch of questions about the event in Rio. We give our best to answer them here.

  1. When is it? The men’s competition runs from Aug. 11-14. The women’s event is the following week, Aug. 17-20. That was easy.

2. How do you qualify? OK, here’s where it gets a little trickier. The International Golf Federation has an Olympic Ranking that gets updated every Monday and players have to be in the top 60 to qualify. The ranking is based off the Official World Golf Rankings for the men and the Rolex Ranking for the women. However, this does not simply mean that the top 60 players on each ranking get to go.

3. Oh, no? No. Each country is allowed a maximum of four players (Sorry, U.S. men and South Korean women), provided all four are in the top 15 of their respective rankings. After the top 15, a maximum of two players can qualify per country. Past the four spots in the top 15 or two after that, a golfer from the same country will not show up on the Olympic ranking. Finally, one of the 60 spots is reserved for a player from the host country, Brazil.

4. Doesn’t this mean a lot of good players won’t qualify? Yes! But isn’t including athletes from all around the world what the Olympics is all about? Besides, it’s like this in other Olympic sports. For instance, there’s a maximum of three figure skaters allowed per country, which has caused plenty of cutthroat competition in the U.S. Remember Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan?

5. OK. . . Well, when do you have until to qualify? July 11, the week before the British Open.

6. Wait, the winner of the British Open might not qualify for the Olympics? Correct! This could be awkward, but they had to cut off qualifying somewhere. And more likely, whoever wins the claret jug will have already qualified for Rio — or will have already dropped out. . .

7. Wait, golfers are dropping out? Unfortunately, yes. Adam Scott is the biggest name, but he’s been joined by Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman. Others like Rory McIlroy have hinted they could follow suit. The reasons given center around two things: a packed summer schedule and the Zika virus.

8. What’s the Zika virus? We’ll let this governmental site provide the details, but just know that it’s spread by mosquitos — and it’s something you don’t want to mess with.

To see the rest of the back and forth Q&A, go here.

Source :    Golf Digest

Pictures : Matthew Stockman/Getty Images   Getty Images

The Top 10 Wine producing Professional Golfers!

Golf and wine are my two favorite passions.  Some professional golfers have aligned themselves with top wineries to produce wines under their own names.  Some, like David Frost, have their own wineries and work the land themselves when they are not on tour.  Master Sommelier, Randall Bertao, in conjunction with Golf Week, gives us his selection of the Top 10 wine producing professional golfers.  I would like to see a Monday tournament in which all wine producing golf professional tee it up and the first prize is a case of wine from each producer.  Now that would be a fun tournament!  What about it Tim Finchem?
 
Master Sommelier, Randall Bertao at Los Altos Golf and Country Club.
Master Sommelier, Randall Bertao at Los Altos Golf and Country Club. (Golfweek/Tracy Wilcox)
 Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the May 23 issue of Golfweek.
These days you can’t walk into a wine store without seeing names familiar to golfers: Ernie Els, David Frost and Arnold Palmer, among others. All have their own labels, and some of the players are deeply invested in their wine businesses. Golfweek wanted an expert’s opinion of these wines, so we asked Randall Bertao to do a tasting. Bertao has the unique distinction of being a master sommelier and also the general manager of Los Altos (Calif.) Golf & Country Club. What follows are his tasting notes.

Luke Donald

Luke Donald 2011 LDC Red – Napa Valley, Calif. A serious wine driven by the complexity of the grape mixture and 20 months in French oak. Donald likes to call this Claret, an English term for a Bordeaux-style red wine. Dark red and black fruits are wrapped with floral notes of violets and red roses. 2013 Chardonnay – Carneros, Calif. Ripe yellow pears wrapped by butterscotch and crème brulée highlight this tasty chardonnay from a cool region of California. Toasty on the finish, this wine still has refreshing acidity to finish long.

Ernie Els

Big Easy 2014 Red – Western Cape, South AfricaBig Easy 2015 Chenin Blanc – Western Cape, South Africa When I visited South Africa, chenin blanc was one of the wines that most impressed me. Outside of the Loire Valley in France no  one really grows much of it, and South Africa has specialized in making it the most widely planted grape in their country. Ernie’s Big Easy Chenin offers a very good expression of just what the grape has to offer. Very bright red apple fruit (think unoaked chardonnay) with mouth-watering acidity and a clean finish. This is a perfect alternate to lighter chardonnay or sauvignon blanc without the herbal edge. There’s a lot going on with this wine. Spice and flesh from the syrah, structure from the cab and variety from the other grape contributors. Dark fruited with exotic spices and a savory flavor.

Ernie Els Big Easy

Nick Faldo

2014 Chablis – France Clean, flinty, with crisp acidity typical of what chardonnay delivers from this small region in Burgundy. Pair it with shellfish or lightly prepared fish and chicken. 2010 Rioja Crianza – Spain Tempranillo always reminds me of something between merlot and cabernet, with a raisinated quality. This wine speaks of that and more. Firmly structured, with solid fruit and finish. Nick Faldo

David Frost

2014 Shiraz – Western Cape, South Africa Juicy red fruit (think red raspberries and plums) with a good kiss of oak make this charming wine very user-friendly. Medium bodied, so you can enjoy it on its own or with a variety of food, such as roasted chicken, pork and lamb. 2015 Sauvignon Blanc – Western Cape, South Africa Like New Zealand sauvignon blanc but think there’s too much grass? If so, you’ll love this wine. It has that zesty, citrusy character and a distinctive herbal edge, though much more subtle. Crisp and lively on the palate, this wine offers the brightness of a New Zealand sauvignon blanc and the elegance of a sancerre. David Frost

Retief Goosen

2012 Shiraz The Goose – Upper Langkloof, South Africa A good example of what South African shiraz can be. Clocking in at just 13 percent alcohol, this wine proves you don’t have to be overripe to be tasty. Red and dark plums, smooth texture and ripe but not pruney. 2015 Chardonnay The Goose – Western Cape, South Africa Seductive floral aromas mix with tropical fruit and a soft touch of vanilla. Chardonnay from South Africa is very distinctive – unlike any other country, in my opinion – and that’s what makes them so interesting. Think south coast California mixed with New Zealand’s North Island. Retief Goosen   To see the other Top 5 in the Top 10 Wines from Professional Golfers, go here! Source : Golf Week Pictures : Tracy Wilcox

Tax breaks on golf? Tell me it’s true. Please!

 Back in the 60’s and 70’s golfers were allowed to take golf as a deduction if used for business purposes.  Even club memberships were a deduction.  If the rumor that golf will be considered a deduction once again, this will be HUGE, as the Donald would say.  Tax breaks on golf are definitely something that will give golf in the USA a boost that is really needed!  Thanks to Swing by Swing for this breaking story!
Twitter/@LPGA
 One of the biggest knocks on golf is that it is simply too expensive. From the cost of equipment to the greens fees for a round of golf, the game can put a serious dent in your checking account. However, if a new bill that is being worked through Congress can get signed into law, golfers may soon be able to write off some of their expenses.
Ryan Ballengee at Golf News Net breaks down the possibility neatly: Source : Swing by Swing Pictures : Twitter/@LPGA   Steve Jurvetson